Drag-U-La looks for new haunts, Ducati’s new adventure tourer, Ken Block’s vintage Audi rally romp
Grandpa Munster’s Drag-U-La is looking for new haunts
Intake: Fifty-seven years ago this month, CBS television launched The Munsters, a spooky sitcom known not only for its ghoulish characters but also for its crazy custom cars. One of the most famous was Grandpa’s gold-flake Drag-U-La. Its first appearance on the show was love at first fright for Herman Munster, who praised his father-in-law’s car-building skills. “I’ve really gotta hand it to ya, Grandpa, this is quite an attractive vehicle. Detroit could take a lesson from this design.” Now it could be yours. Mecum’s 2022 Kissimmee Auction is featuring one of the five Drag-U-La coffin cars that Barris Kustoms built for the show. The iconic car features a real fiberglass coffin for a body, a purple driver’s seat and bubble top, and numerous creepy accents. It’s powered by a 350-horse, 289-cubic-inch Ford Mustang V-8 with two four-barrel carburetors mounted on a Mickey Thompson Ram-Thrust manifold.
Exhaust: The Munsters ran for only two seasons, but even people who aren’t car enthusiasts recognize the Drag-U-La. That’s testament to the TV show’s place in pop culture history and to George Barris’ lofty perch among the world’s greatest custom car builders. We’re just sad that the Drag-U-La’s new owner won’t have it in time for Halloween.
Ducati’s new Multistrada V2 wants to steal a slice of the adventure touring market
Intake: Expanding upon its adventure touring line, Ducati has just announced the Multistrada V2. The bike aligns with the Multistrada formula and is based around the 937cc Testastretta 11-degree V-twin, which makes 113 hp rather than the 170 hp of the big V4. Ducati will continue to build the V4 for those who demand the ultimate adventure touring machine, but this new bike presents a great option for those seeking out a feature-packed bike that is also inviting to ride. The 19-inch front wheel gives the option to fit aggressive adventure (ADV, in moto-speak) treads, and the Skyhook active suspension adjusts automatically to the terrain. With a seat height of just 32.7 inches, the Multistrada V2 may be more friendly to smaller-framed riders than many bikes in this segment.
Exhaust: With its long-travel suspension and adventure looks, the new V2 honors the spirit of the original Multistrada models, but true ADV riders will want a more specialized tool. This Ducati is more akin to a grown-up and overbuilt supermoto than a down-and-dirty exploration machine—though most riders will be far more comfortable finding its limits than those of the 170-hp V4. With a base model priced at a reasonable $15,295, the Multistrada V2 stands a chance to steal middle-weight ADV buyers away from KTM and BMW.
Ken Block gets crazy in Audi’s most iconic rally cars
Intake: As part of a new partnership with Audi, Ken Block got to have a go in two of the marque’s most iconic rally monsters. Both are part of the not-for-public-consumption Audi Tradition garage, a living collection of Audi race cars from its rally and endurance racing heydays. First up is the legendary Sport Quattro S1 E2, then a one-of-one mid-engined prototype Group S race car with a shocking (by mid-1980s standards) 1000 horsepower. He also had some fun with Audi’s newest EV, the e-tron GT.
Exhaust: When standing inside Audi Tradition’s garage, Ken totally looks like a kid in a candy store. The footwear magnate-turned rally driver seemed properly humbled to get a chance behind the wheel of some of Audi’s greatest machines. Who wouldn’t be?
90 years ago, the innovative 170 W15 set the tone for Mercedes-Benz “compacts”
Intake: On October 1, 1931—90 years ago today—Mercedes-Benz unveiled its technically innovative, compact, and affordable passenger car, the 170 (W15) model, at the Paris Motor Show. The 170 would become the world’s first mass-produced passenger car with independent suspension and a swing axle. Powered by a 32-horsepower, 2.0-liter, inline-six engine and equipped with hydraulic brakes, the 170 was an immediate success. In 1932, the car’s first full year of production, Mercedes-Benz sold a total of 5996 passenger vehicles, and 4438 of them—nearly 75 percent—were 170s. Overall, 13,775 (with 10 different body variants and chassis) were built until 1936, when the Mercedes-Benz 170 V (W 136), with a four-cylinder in-line engine, replaced the W15 series.
Exhaust: The 170 was the culmination of Stuttgart’s vigorous years-long effort to produce a compact, state-of-the-art car, and the automaker’s determination paid off. The public was impressed with the car’s comfort and handling—something that hadn’t been said previously about vehicles in that price range—and it immediately raised the bar for what was possible.
Buying a fleet of Maseratis was “a terrible mistake” says Papua New Guinea government
Intake: The government of Papua New Guinea spent over $5 million on a fleet of 40 Maserati Quattroportes in 2018, despite the country not having a single Maserati dealer to support them, and now they’re being sold at a hefty discount. “If we had any foresight, the Maseratis would not have been purchased in the first place. We made a terrible mistake. If you have got no dealers of Maseratis in PNG, there was no reason to buy Maseratis,” Finance minister John Pundari confessed to the local Post Courier.
The 40 cars were supplied by a dealer in Sri Lanka to chauffeur foreign dignitaries about during the Asia-Pacific Economic Coopoeration (APEC) Leaders summit and, as if that wasn’t extravagant enough, they were flown over in a chartered jumbo jet. The APEC minister at the time answered public criticism of the purchase by saying that the cars would “sell like hot cakes” after the summit. Unfortunately for him, that hasn’t happened and only two cars have been sold so far. Now the Quattroportes, which have barely been used at all, are for sale at the knock-down price of K400,000 or $113,660.
Exhaust: Papua New Guinea’s government didn’t really think through its bid to impress its diplomatic visitors did it? With nobody to service a Maserati on the tropical island, they’re understandably proving hard to sell off. The nation was in the midst of a sharp economic decline and a public health crisis (this was before the COVID-19 pandemic) when the fleet was announced, and it’s looking like those who were outraged at the time are being vindicated in the aftermath.
New fast charger adds 20 miles a minute
Intake: The world’s fastest EV charger has been launched in Europe. The ABB Terra 360 can fully charge four cars in less than 15 minutes or add 62 miles of range in less than three minutes. You’ve probably not heard of ABB, but the German firm has already installed 21,000 DC fast chargers and 440,000 AC units around the world. The new charger runs at 360 kiloWatts (compared to Tesla’s 250 kW Superchargers) and installations will begin by the end of the year. ABB says that the charger will then be rolled out to the rest of the world, including the U.S.A. in 2022.
Exhaust: A solid network of rapid EV chargers will be vital to increasing the receptiveness of EV skeptics still mired in range anxiety. As far as we’re concerned, the more companies focusing on building out the nation’s charging infrastructure, the better. That said, modern EV batteries aren’t able to take charge at that rate, so this is likely a projection for future batteries with greater charge rate capacities.