Mazda’s rotary spins to a halt, Callaway C8 in 2022, Volvo axes some wagons
Welcome to The Manifold, our fresh daily digest of news and what’s happening in the car world.
Mazda puts the rotary on hold. Again.
Intake: Rotor-heads rejoiced when Mazda announced that its strange spinning triangle-within-a-squircle engine would return in 2022—albeit it as a range extender for the plug-in Mazda MX-30. Reports now suggest the return of the rotary will be delayed—perhaps indefinitely. Mazda spokesman Masahiro Sakata told Automotive News, “We are still considering using (the) rotary engine as a range extender, but the timing of its introduction is undecided.” Meanwhile, Japan’s business media has reported that the engine is being axed as it needed a bigger battery that would increase costs.
Exhaust: It’s another blow for Wankel fans. Mazda has had some success running the rotary on hydrogen in the past and, as momentum gathers behind the green gas, could there still be one last chance for the quirky motor? If not, will the last-of-the-line RX-8 finally start to rise in value?
Callaway plans for modified C8 Z06 as first C8 entry
Intake: Callaway, the company known for turning out high-performance variants of the Corvette and, recently, Chevy and GMC pickups, doesn’t want buyers to have to choose between one of its souped-up Stingray and the track-focused Z06 that has yet to launch. According to Autoweek, that means Callaway is planning to wait until Chevrolet releases the 2022 Z06 (seen in spy photo above) before offering any performance packages for the mid-engine Chevy, as the company wants to give its customers peak performance, above and beyond what the factory offers. Callaway supposedly has a few Stingrays on hand for testing, so they’ll have a leg up on tweaking the Z06 when the time comes.
Exhaust: Callaway is among the best there is when it comes to manufacturing complete performance packages, and it sounds like the company will offer some sort of boosted variant of the DOHC V-8 that’s slated for the highly-anticipated Z06. Callaway may not want to compete directly with GM, but it sounds like it will give us a taste of a blown DOHC C8 before Chevy unleashes the ZR1.
Volvo axes its classiest wagon variants in the U.S.
Intake: Three Volvo wagons will be unattainable in the United States after the 2021 model year: the front-drive V60 T5, the larger, front-drive V90 T5, and the all-wheel-drive V90 T6. In Volvo-speak, these are the “normal” wagons; the company also makes lifted, plastic-clad Cross Country variants of the V60 and the V90 (think Mercedes’ All-Terrain or Audi’s Allroad models), plus the hi-po Polestar Engineered V60 that fits the more traditional longroof mold. The Cross Country and Polestar-adjacent models are staying; but the more affordable wagons are departing U.S. shores.
Exhaust: We can’t argue with numbers here: Wagons are not money makers for Volvo. The fact that the now Geely-owned brand is still making them (and executing them extremely well), speaks volumes for the longroof’s importance to Volvo’s identity. Even accounting for wagon-happy Europeans, wagons represent barely 9 percent of 2021 YTD sales for Volvo (in 2020, 6.18 percent). Prioritizing the more popular Cross Country variants for the mainstream luxury buyer and the more high-end Polestar Engineered models for the hybrid performance niche was inevitable, really.
Bentley Mulliner’s 1000th custom car
Intake: Bentley Mulliner, the bespoke department from the British ultra-luxury automaker, has now completed an impressive 1000 commissions since it was formed in 2014. According to Bentley, bespoke ride number 1000 was created for a European client who wanted to specific interior features in their Bentayga SUV: Olive Ash, a special veneer associated with Mulsanne; and a contrast twin stitch to key areas of the interior. Bentley Mulliner got its start seven years prior with a run of 15 Flying Spurs, but has since produced commissions as granular as custom tread plates for a Continental and as grandiose as entirely coachbuilt projects such as the Bentley Mulliner Bacalar.
Exhaust: Anything’s possible for the right price. Kudos to ultra luxury automakers like Bentley for realizing the profitability of offering truly unique machines for its wealthiest clientele. If 1000 projects in seven years doesn’t prove the feasibility of this department, we don’t know what will. We’re looking forward to seeing what other craziness comes out of a department where the only limits are one’s checkbook.
Bell beats Pastrana to Goodwood shootout win
Intake: A McLaren 720 GT3X driven by works driver Rob Bell beat Travis Pastrana and his Subaru WRX STI to record the fastest time up the famous Goodwood hill at this weekend’s Festival of Speed. Bell clocked in with a 45.01 second run and, although Pastrana was ahead after the first sector, the American extreme motorsports star lost time in a crazy slide towards the end of his attempt, ending up 1.19 seconds behind. Third place went to a 1988 Spice-Cosworth driven by Jeremy Smith. Watch the top ten in the video above.
Exhaust: It was fantastic to see the Festival of Speed back to full strength, but despite this trio of runs being sensationally swift none got close to the all-time record set by Nick Heidfeld in a McLaren MP4/13 Formula 1 car all the way back in 1999.
88 years ago today, the Dymaxion began turning heads
Intake: On July 12, 1933, the first three-wheeled, multi-directional Dymaxion car—designed by the architect, engineer, and philosopher Buckminster Fuller—was completed in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The 20-foot-long Dymaxion—a combination of the words “dynamic,” “maximum” and “ion”—was a spacious, aerodynamic, front-wheel drive car that Fuller hoped would economically sustain high-speed travel, which it did: It could transport up to 11 people at 90 mph while returning 28 mpg. Despite the enthusiasm of the press, the Dymaxion never fulfilled its potential. After three prototypes were built, the program was shut down. The only surviving prototype is at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada. Nashville’s Lane Motor Museum also has a replica in its collection.
Exhaust: Fuller, in his own words, set out to live his life as “an experiment to find what a single individual can contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity.” The Dymaxion stands as testament to that goal.