Roush hops on the Bronco, Travis Pastrana leaps a lake, Maserati MC20 drops its top

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Roush introduces kit to boost Bronco’s already impressive capability

Intake: Roush Performance just unveiled a bolt-on kit for Ford’s off-road stallion, dubbed the Roush Bronco R Series. According to Roush, the kit is designed to “take the ultra-capable Bronco even further, both in appearance and capabilities, as well as attitude.” The $6750 kit includes the same Roush wheels that you’d find on its version of the F-150, but here the wheels receive a unique color treatment. (The firm proudly points out that this kit includes five wheels—because there’s nothing worse than a mis-matched spare.) A high-clearance axle-back muffler pairs with both the 2.3-liter four-cylinder and then 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 engines. Roush says the removable exhaust tip will further bolster departure angle. A new high-capacity air filter with a window to monitor dust buildup is also included. Pleasantly, the new filter and pre-filter don’t alter the Bronco’s 33.5-inch water fording capability. There’s also a center console locking vault to store valuables, as well as a full set of off-road recovery gear, should you somehow get stuck. Each Bronco treated to Roush’s kit will enjoy a certificate of authenticity and Roush’s three-year, 36,000-mile limited warranty.

Exhaust: Like clockwork, the aftermarket has dived headlong into developing and modifying the Ford Bronco. It’s no surprise to see Roush among the firms competing for your after-purchase dollars. Admittedly, we’re a bit disappointed that the kit is not as extensive as what you’d find on, say a Roush Mustang—superchargers, custom suspension, and the like—but we wouldn’t be surprised if something like that is in the works. (Are you listening, Roush?)

Travis Pastrana airmails a Subaru Brat just in time for Christmas

Intake: Certified madman Travis Pastrana made his name in motocross racing before jumping—quite literally—to the freestyle side of the sport in the early 2000s. After conquering the world of freestyle motocross with mind-bending tricks like double-backflips, Pastrana quickly turned his airborne antics toward rally driving. Aside from racing, he’s also stared in dirt-slinging, tire-slaying epics like the most recent Gymkhana video. Now, he’s back with another ridiculous—and awesome—stunt that involves launching a Subaru Brat across a jump constructed on a frozen Vermont lake. What’s even more impressive than his rad airtime? Other than a roll hoop that was installed, (because, ya know, danger) the Brat is bone stock.

Exhaust: Anytime someone is driving up a ramp saying “Not gonna make it!” there is valid cause for concern, yet somehow the predicament feels par for the Pastrana’s course. The initial plan was to pitch the Brat into a flat spin on the way up the ramp so it would do a 360-degree rotation in the air, but ornery weather prevented the crew from building the ramp needed to make that work. As cool as it would have been, we’re no less impressed to simply see the Brat take flight the way it does.

Maserati drops the top on the MC20

Intake: As the first Maserati MC20s start to appear on the roads, the Italian sports car maker is wasting no time teasing the next step in this mid-engine sports car’s rollout: a convertible version. Despite being wrapped in what appears to be the wallpaper from a child’s nursery, it’s possible to see the differences in the roof line compared to the hard top. It’s a lot busier with twin humps and a central air scoop which looks like it feeds the engine bay rather than the cabin. After all, if you want a bit of extra breeze inside you’d lower the roof. Whether this extra breathing adds any additional power to the twin-turbo Nettuno V-6 engine is yet to be seen.

Exhaust: The cloudy camouflage can’t hide the fact that the MC20 convertible has a folding hard top like the Ferrari F8 Spider, rather than a fabric roof. This mechanism will likely add a fair few pounds to the Maserati’s mass but still allow the car to top 200 mph. 

Shunji Tanaka, Mazda Miata designer, dies at 75

1995_Mazda_NA_Miata_M_Edition
Mazda

Intake: The chief designer of the original Mazda Miata (NA) passed away on December 12th at the age of 75. The announcement was made on the Facebook page of a friend (or fan?) of Mr. Tanaka. Details were sparse, and we were unable to get a comment from Mazda before publication. If true, we lost the man that made a motoring legend for the entire world to enjoy. Miata lore suggests Tanaka scrapped the original design from Mazda’s American design studio, suggesting it was too American. Considering roadsters are a global design, Tanaka’s thoughts had merit, and the end result was a global phenomenon.

Exhaust: Unless we’re talking about Harley Earl or Chris Bangle, car designers rarely get the recognition bestowed upon vehicle engineers and C-suite executives. That is a shame, because Shunji Tanaka’s Miata reinvented the dormant roadster body style for a new generation and refined it far beyond what its European forefathers could ever accomplish. His legacy isn’t only seen in the Miata, as there were plenty of global copycats to come, including the BMW Z3, Honda S2000, Mercedes-Benz SLK, GM’s star-crossed Kappa platform, and possibly even the front-wheel-drive Mercury Capri. The best testament to Tanaka’s design is the fact that the Miata both survives and thrives, while most of its followers went extinct. Even the most humble NA Miatas are now beginning to command a noteworthy premium

Renee Brinkerhoff completes continental rally challenge with Antarctic crossing

Intake: Rally driver, philanthropist, and general badass Renee Brinkerhoff and her 1956 Porsche 356 crossed 356 miles of ice fields in Antarctica to finish an incredible charitable mission. Brinkerhoff’s goal was to rally her petite Porsche on every continent to raise awareness and funds for Valkyrie Gives—a foundation that supports child victims of human trafficking around the world. Her Porsche 356 World Rally Tour began in 2017 on Mexico’s La Carrera Panamericana as her North American adventure. Targa Tasmania ticked off Australasia, Caminos del Inca in Peru saw South America added, Peking to Paris covered both Europe and Asia, and the East African Safari Rally meant Africa was done and dusted. That left the most unaccessible continent of them all—Antarctica. Brinkerhoff had to have the Porsche converted to run on tracks and cope with a climate that saw temperatures drop to zero Fahrenheit. Despite the cold causing the throttle to stick and the air filters to ice up, bolts holding the skis in place breaking, and no heater in the car, Brinkerhoff blitzed it.

Exhaust: Bravo Brinkerhoff! Her exploits in the 356 were already hugely impressive before this amazing Antarctic adventure and have already raised more than $556,000. Although this completes the 356 World Rally Tour, the fundraising doesn’t stop and you can help Brinkerhoff reach her million-dollar goal by visiting Valkyrie Gives.

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