Subaru GL gets rad, 900-hp makeover, a British restomod to rival Singer’s, Euro EVs outsell diesels


Travis Pastrana picks ’83 Subaru GL for 900-hp Gymkhana makeover

Intake: Ken Block may have been the first to bring automotive Gymkhana to the little screen, but after 10 videos and a few side projects, Block stepped aside from these stunt-packed videos in 2020 and handed the wheel—literally—to Travis Pastrana. (If you’re unfamiliar with the Gymkhana videos, make sure you’re seated. Leaping lakes, drifting around obstacles with an eyelash-worth of clearance—the visual drama in these videos belies some truly amazing car management skills.) Those of us addicted to tire smoke and precision driving have experienced some slight withdrawals but thanks to an announcement yesterday there is an end in sight—with an unexpectedly retro twist.

Exhaust: The car of choice for Pastrana is an interesting one: a Subaru GL wagon. Unlike Ken Block’s wild WRX STI, this now-900-hp machine was never intended to tingle spines when stock. Its original water-cooled flat-four made a whole 71-hp—in an era when Volvo’s equally brickish 240 made an astounding 131. We don’t know what lurks beneath the hood of Pastrana’s reborn wagon, but it’s clear that this machine has evolved far beyond its original calling. We’re interested to dissect the mechanical setup here: Travis is known for jumping cars, and the GL doesn’t seem primed for low-earth orbit. However, he does mention that its squared-off corners help him to better locate the corners of the car for closer proximity driving. Close-shave antics were a staple of the early Gymkhana videos, so despite the new driver, this Subie may signal a return to the past in more ways than one.

Decommissioned Staten Island ferry sells for $280K

Intake: New York’s recently retired John F. Kennedy ferry, which completed its final trip in August 2021 after spending five decades shuttling passengers back and forth from Staten Island to Manhattan, was auctioned for $280,100 by the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services. The minimum bid for the 1965 ferry was originally listed at $250,000, but it was cut in half just a few days ago, which sparked some interest … and a lot of it. There were 36 bids for the 277-foot ferry. According to the listing, the hull remains in good condition, but the boat was listed in poor condition due to mechanical propulsion issues, which is why it was decommissioned.

Exhaust: We’ve seen some big boat sales over the years, but this is definitely one of the biggest—in terms of size, at least. Since we’re lovers of history, we hope this iconic New York ferry is repaired and finds new life transporting passengers in a less stressful environment, perhaps as a tour boat?

Theon Design adds a supercharger and active suspension to the Porsche 964

Intake: British Porsche restomod maker Theon Design has developed what might be the most advanced 964-generation 911 ever made. The car, named BEL01 as it’s the first car Theon has built for a customer in Belgium, has been fitted with active damping by TracTive, which provides a number of different settings for road and track use. Meanwhile, the classic 3.6-liter flat-six gets a Rotrex supercharger and water-methanol injection system to boost power to 456 hp. The car is finished in aquamarine paint based on a 1950s’ Porsche 356 hue and, like all other Theon commissions, has been assembled to the exact specification of the lucky Belgian customer.

Exhaust: Britain’s answer to Singer Vehicle Design appears to have taken the 911 mod game to the next level, but insists that its alterations are still in the spirit of the original. “The innovations on BEL001, both in terms of its engine and suspension, reflect what Theon Design is all about. We’re driven by a determination to hone and sympathetically enhance the classic 911 recipe, using design-led innovation, dynamic focus and close partnerships with expert suppliers to create the ultimate iteration of the world’s most iconic sports car,” says founder Adrian Hawley.

Peugeot previews 9X8 hypercar

Intake: Prior to launching its assault on the Le Mans 24 hour race this year, Peugeot handed over its 9X8 hybrid hypercar to photographer Agnieszka Doroszewicz to highlight the radical racer’s design. The result of an internal competition in Peugeot’s design department the 9X8 was developed around the key words “iconic,” “efficient,” and “emotional.” Design Director Matthias Hossan says: “Despite the quality of the many proposals that came out of our internal design competition, one was quickly established as the chosen theme. It broke the codes of the previous generation of endurance cars. The idea posited was that this would be less of a previous generation race car and more identifiable as a Peugeot. It needed to bring together more than just fans of motorsport, as this would be a sports car that could in theory be driven on the road as well as the race track.”

The 9X8 wears a new “roaring lion” badge and claw-like light signature to make the car stand out at night, while its wingless design is an extremely bold move considering no car has won Le Mans without a rear wing since 1971.  Powering the 98X is a 2.6-liter twin-turbo V-6 which sends 680 hp to the rear wheels, with extra boost coming from a 270 hp electric motor/generator driving the front wheels to put its claws into Toyota at the La Sarthe circuit.

Exhaust: Peugeot re-enters endurance racing full of confidence having won with the 905 in 1992 and 1993 and the 908 in 2009. “This 9X8 is a true milestone in motorsport,” said Peugeot’s drivers when they first saw it. “There will be a before and after Peugeot 9X8, and we will be lucky to have been part of it.”

EV sales overtake diesel sales in Europe

Volkswagen ID.3 EV front three quarter

Intake: The rise of EVs scored a major milestone last month as European sales of EVs surpassed those of diesel-powered vehicles for the first time, according to a report from the Financial Times. Data compiled for FT by a third-party analyst revealed that 176,000 EVs were sold in December of 2021, while just 160,000 diesels found new homes in the same month.

Exhaust: Context is key here, so let’s lay out a few factors influencing this change in status: Diesel sales have been on the decline since the Volkswagen “Dieselgate” scandal in 2015. Meanwhile, western European countries have been ramping up serious subsidies for electric vehicles to reduce their carbon footprints. Europe’s fuel crisis last year also meant some folks couldn’t fuel their cars for quite some time, which prompted a surge in interest in EVs.

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