Chevy’s first electric SS due in ’23, Rubicon’s 20th birthday surprise, Vintage Air brings Art Deco heat

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manifold chevrolet blazer ss lede electric suv
Chevrolet

Chevy’s first electric SS model will be the 2024 Blazer

Intake: When General Motors first debuted the Ultium battery platform back in the spring of 2020, it stated that the architecture would underpin not just mass-market EVs but also performance-oriented variants. The first of those amped-up EVs, which will don Chevy’s SS badge, will be the Blazer. The SUV—in both SS trim and in normal spec—will arrive in the spring of 2023 as a 2024 model, joining the recently announced, $30K Equinox EV and the much-anticipated Silverado EV pickup in Chevy’s opening, all-electric salvo. Expect the Blazer SS to target the Mustang Mach-E GT, which boasts a 3.5-second 0–60 time, 480 horsepower, 600 lb-ft of torque, and 270 miles of range.

Exhaust: There’s already precedent for performance adopting a new shape when motivated by batteries. The Mach-E is not even close to a sedan, a low-slung format traditionally aligned with sporting on-road behavior, but saloons have long since fallen out of fashion, as Ford’s jettisoning of the Focus (in 2018) and Fusion (in 2020) shows. The Mach-E’s strong sales (27,140 in 2021, behind the top-dog Model Y) have proven Ford’s SUV bet to be wise. The Blazer SS will irk owners of golden-age Camaros and Chevelles, but Chevy is courting a different audience. 

Mini celebrates 60 years after Pat Moss takes its first rally win

Intake: Mini is marking the 60th anniversary of its victory in the 1962 Tulip Rally with a Pat Moss Edition Cooper. Moss proved that she was just as talented as her older brother Stirling by steering her number 104 Mini Cooper to the top step of the podium on the 1500-mile rally from Noorwijk in the Netherlands to Monte Carlo and back again. Codriver Ann Wisdom was pregnant, but despite “navigating for two” she guided Moss perfectly, beating the rest of the male-dominated field. “Mossie” and “Wizz” partnered for seven years, won the 1968 Sestriere Rally, and took multiple top-three finishes. Moss was European Ladies’ Rally Champion five times and an inspiration for women drivers the world over.

2022’s tribute to Moss features a Multitone roof, which fades from Chili Red to Melting Silver and Jet Black. A tulip symbol adorns the C pillars, scuttles, and wheel hub covers, while the name Pat Moss is inscribed on the car as well. There’s also a tulip graphic on the steering wheel center, and “M” and “W” logo for the interior on the driver’s side. Mini is planning to build just over 800 examples.

Exhaust: She may have already had a win in the 1960 Liège-Rome-Liège rally under her belt, driving a powerful Austin Healey 3000, but entering the Tulip Rally in a Mini Moss and Wisdom were undisputed underdogs. Up against stiff opposition from Alfa Romeo, Volvo, Saab, Porsche, and Austin Healey their victory is all the more remarkable.

Jeep’s cooking up a surprise for the Wrangler Rubicon’s 20th birthday

Intake: 2022 marks twenty years since Jeep unveiled the first Wrangler Rubicon, and the latest teaser for Easter Jeep Safari, held next month, promises a celebratory model. Squint at the illustration above and you’ll spot a “20” placed just forward of the hood’s hinge, with another numeral badge floating hazily around the center bulge. This birthday special will drop sometime between April 9 through 17 at the Old Spanish Trail Arena in Moab, Utah. It will be accompanied by at least one other concept showcasing Jeep Performance Parts, a plug-in Grand Cherokee at which Jeep offered a peek last month (shown below).

Exhaust: When it arrived for the 2003 model year, the original Wrangler Rubicon courted off-roaders by packing a laundry list of trail-conquering kit into a seamless factory-backed package. What more could you ask for, on top of front and rear locking diffs married to a low-grunt transfer case and spinning moon-worthy mud-terrains? A V-8, of course. Based on the teaser’s power-bulged hood, we’re betting on a Wrangler Rubicon 392 with a luxe options list and a heavy dose of exclusivity. 

2022 jeep easter safari concept plug-in 4xe
Jeep

Eighth Heritage Series GT will honor Ford’s NASCAR factory team

Intake: Just two months after revealing the seventh installment in the Ford GT’s limited-run Heritage Series, the next has arrived—or will soon. Yesterday, Ford released these three photos on Twitter, sneaking a peek at the upcoming Holman Moody Special Edition. Like all but one of the Heritage Edition GTs, this series will doff its cap to the original GT40’s success at Le Mans in the 1960s. The Holman & Moody editions honor the Blue Oval’s most famous achievement, memorialized in the 2019 film Ford v Ferrari: a 1-2-3 sweep of the podium and a long-awaited victory over the established champions at Maranello. The number five and the gold-and-red livery evoke the third-place GT that year, driven by the American duo of Ronnie Buckman and Dick Hutcherson, a former stock car racer. Their GT40 was one of six campaigned by North Carolina–based Holman & Moody, who made its name racing Fords in NASCAR and, the very next year, would win the Daytona 500 with driver Mario Andretti. That 1-2-3 finish famously involved some choreography on Ford’s part of the first- and second-place cars. The #1 car of Ken Miles and Denny Hulme had been leading the race by nearly four laps but, after an orchestrated dead-heat finish with the #1 car of Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, was demoted to second place on a technicality. The #5 Holman & Moody entry, 12 laps down from the two leaders, stood apart from the drama. 

Exhaust: A connection to that famous 1966 victory is potent enough to carry a special edition, but the Holman & Moody name may appeal to an even broader crowd of racing enthusiasts than 2017’s ’66 Heritage Edition (honoring the black #2 race winner)—those who also treasure H&M’s competition history stateside. 

Honda’s first electric motorcycle is (literally) for a new generation

honda electric 50 CRF-E2
Greenger Powersports

Intake: While many manufacturers have released some form of electric motorcycle, Honda has been oddly silent on the BEV front. This week that silence was broken by an announcement that Honda has partnered with Greenger Powersports on an entry-level machine. The CRF-E2 doesn’t target the die-hard riders that other companies’ electric offerings have courted, and instead goes after young riders who are just starting. With the same size and power as the gasoline-powered 50cc CRF50, the CRF-E2 is a 48-volt, 1.2-KW bike with 12-inch wheels perfect for budding riders. Pricing is announced at $2950 (plus $200 destination and $100 freight.)

Exhaust: Opening the minds of ICE race-bike loyalists is tough, so Honda’s move here seems smart. Many potential riders are held back by parents who may not have the mechanical ability to maintain a motorcycle or are scared to put their child on something they themselves don’t understand. The simplicity of an electric machine lowers both of those barriers. Run time is quoted at just two hours in ideal conditions, but additional batteries can be purchased and easily swapped to extend ride time. Add in the silence compared to a gasoline-powered bike and this Honda might allow young enthusiasts even more ride time, since the neighbors won’t be calling with noise complaints.

Vintage Air adds modern heating with Streamlined Styling

Intake: San Antonio–based Vintage Air Inc. now offers a “powerful and handsome heater system” for owners of cars of the Streamline Moderne era of design (roughly from the 1930s to the late 1940s). Called the Streamline Heater, it provides modern levels of heat in a vintage vehicle, but with a throwback design including stainless steel trim in period-appropriate style. It also has powder-coated louvers for durability and a knob that adjusts “both the three-speed blower fan and the electronically controlled heater control valve.” The Streamline Heater uses a high-efficiency CuproBraze copper/brass heater core which promises heating efficiency like a modern vehicle, and it attaches “directly to the firewall with only two fittings to connect in line with the engine coolant.”

Exhaust: Vintage Air has made a name for it, be it for high-dollar custom builds or for being the OEM supplier of both the first- and second-generation Ford GT. So it comes as no surprise that it shall ensure Art Deco/Streamline Moderne era vehicles are no longer forced to deal with aftermarket affairs with no sense of style. Pricing for the Streamline Heater hasn’t been released yet, but considering how valuable the donor vehicles are these days, perhaps the actual cost doesn’t even matter.

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