Brabus keeps old-school AMG alive, a B-movie “Corvette,” world’s oldest racing venue threatened
Brabus tunes the V-8-only powertrain that AMG is forsaking
Intake: While the future of AMG-fettled products shall be a hybrid affair, noted Mercedes tuner Brabus is ensuring the era of pure gasoline propulsion goes out with a bang. Meet the Brabus 900-series, custom series of Mercedes-Benz vehicles sporting an immense 900-horsepower under the hood with all-wheel drive to put the power down. Brabus starts with a twin turbo, 4.0-liter twin turbo V-8 from the Mercedes parts bin, but features a bespoke reciprocating assembly that punches out the displacement to 4.5 liters. With further tuning, the final figures are stunning: the aforementioned 900 horsepower, and an electronically limited 774 lb-ft of torque to ensure the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system remains alive and healthy. Performance depends on packaging, as the “900” suite of upgrades can be applied to the sleek AMG GT 63 S, the high-riding AMG G63, or, as of yesterday, the practical and understated E 63 S (in sedan or wagon form). A litany of exterior and interior cosmetic upgrades are also part of the package, and DuPont Registry reports that “pricing starts around $515,000” for the Brabus 900 when based on the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S.
Exhaust: But does pricing really matter at this point? The current E 63 S is the last E-Class with a bigger-than-life persona from a big ’ol V-8 engine, following in the footsteps of the 6.9 liter from the 1970s and the AMG Hammer from the 1980s. While a stock Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Wagon is no slouch, it doesn’t stand a chance against a Tesla Model S Plaid or a Porsche Taycan Turbo S. Over the top styling and luxury enhancements aside, Brabus’ fiery hot upgrades to the 900-series narrows the gap and does something far more important: allowing the driver to hear and feel the power of a gasoline engine while gluing a grin to their face with every taste of wide-open throttle.
Detroit’s dilapidated Fisher Body Plant is finding new life
Intake: Detroit’s shuttered Fisher Body Plant 21 is going to be redeveloped into mixed-income housing. According to the Detroit News and other media outlets, city officials believe the $134 million project, dubbed the Fisher 21 Lofts, will be the largest African American–led project in Detroit’s history. The factory—Fisher’s 21st plant—originally produced auto bodies for Cadillac and Buick, before the Fishers were bought out by General Motors in 1926. After 65 years of operation, the facility closed in 1984. The city took title in 2000, when extensive environmental remediation work was done. The building is located along the heavily traveled intersection of Interstates 94 and 75. It will be reborn into 433 apartments with a new retail district. The project is pending City Council approval of the sale.
Exhaust: We’re thrilled to see the resurrection of another iconic structure that’s steeped in automotive history, especially one that’s located in the Motor City and is making even more history with its African American development group. The Fisher plant follows in the footsteps of transportation-relates buildings like Ford’s refurbished Michigan Central Station and, on a smaller scale, the Vinsetta Garage restaurant on Woodward Avenue.
Petersen Museum shows off Hollywood cars once again
Intake: While its main gallery has transitioned away from sci-fi movie cars and on to Bond cars, the Petersen Automotive Museum will once again celebrate cars and motorcycles from both the big and small screen. A new exhibit, opening to the public on March 12, 2022, will feature cars, motorcycles, and customs seen in movies and television including the 1981 DeLorean from the Back to the Future trilogy of movies, the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and the Batmobile from Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns.
“Some vehicles used in television and movies have become just as popular as the stars themselves,” said Petersen Automotive Museum executive director Terry L. Karges. “We are excited to display what are genuinely some of the most iconic vehicles from Hollywood’s long and storied history of film and television series production. The unique collection is sure to appeal to fans of movies and television along with any automotive enthusiasts.”
Exhaust: The Petersen Museum’s Hollywood Dream Machines exhibit was among our favorite since the L.A. landmark’s major overhaul and reopening in 2015, right up there with the current Bond display. Bringing back fan favorites and combining them with the current Hypercars: The Allure of the Extreme display might make this spring the best time yet to visit the museum.
Death Race 2000‘s funky Frankenstein “Corvette” up for sale
Intake: The Stingray-inspired creation driven on-screen by David Carradine in the 1975 cult B-movie Death Race 2000 is up for sale at Mecum’s Glendale, Arizona, auction with an estimate between $30,000 and $50,000. Set in a dystopian future where America’s favorite entertainment is a gory, gladiatorial cross-country automotive race, Death Race 2000 gathered a battalion of custom cars to depict the futuristic machines. This reptilian creation is the work of James Powers, Dean Jeffries, and George Barris. Jeffries famously designed the Monkeemobile and the Green Hornet’s Black Beauty, and also contributed to the original Batmobile with George Barris. While the flashy car appears to have a rear-mounted, supercharged V-8 with boat-style headers, the powerplant is just a prop. The actual motivation comes from a Corvair’s flat-six.
Exhaust: Roger Corman made a ton of films, but outside of B-movie geeks, not many know his work. So although this car is certainly wild and attention-grabbing, few people will covet it in the same way as they would something from other car-heavy movies (Fast & Furious, American Graffiti, etc.) or very famous movies in which a car plays a prominent role (Rain Man, Christine, etc.). Couple that with the fact this is really just a Corvair-powered VW underneath all that Corvette makeup, and this custom’s appeal will probably be limited. Mecum’s presale estimate seems realistic. Then again, movie and celebrity cars have sold strongly at auction over the past several months, so you never know.
The world’s oldest motor racing venue is under threat
Intake: The pits, grandstands, and timekeepers tower of the historic Targa Florio road circuit in Sicily could be torn down and replaced by a roundabout. The proposed works in the Municipality of Termini Imerese would also see the construction of a new road and a railway viaduct, but would destroy all that’s left of the historic race circuit. First held in 1906, the Targa Florio saw drivers battle over the island’s treacherous mountain roads for almost 300 miles. In later years the race length would double, while today classic trials are still held on the 45-mile Piccolo Delle Madonie route. A petition on Change.org is seeking a savior for the Sicilian circuit.
Exhaust: The argument for the destruction of this monument to motor racing’s pioneers is that improvements to the Palermo-Catania-Messina railway are a vital part of Sicily’s Integrated Energy and Climate Plan. Countering that, of course, is the historical significance of the circuit buildings and their draw to tourists. The Municipal Council has dismissed similar plans in the past and a regional law protects “historical-cultural heritage of the Sicilian Region, together with the three historical circuits: Piccolo (72 km); Medio (l08 km) and Grande (148 km) and to the stands,” so there is still hope.
Lotus Type 132 revealed in patent images
Intake: The Type 132 from Lotus will soon be here, and judging from these patent images published by IP Australia, it looks kinda like a Kia. At least in profile, the Type 132 electric crossover bears more than a passing resemblance to the EV6. The front is more distinctive and aggressive, mind, with active flaps in the lower intake. At the rear there’s a full-width light bar, and an unusual two-piece rear spoiler. Look closely and you’ll notice that the door handles are flush mounted (likely electric pop-out numbers) and there are large LiDAR sensors front and rear. In lieu of door mirrors, the car pictured has cameras, although not all markets will allow that. We’ll be able to see it in the metal on March 29.
Exhaust: The Type 132 marks a number of firsts for Lotus. It is the company’s first SUV, its first mass-production electric car, and the first Lotus to be built in China. Much is riding on it.