Ford’s budget off-road F-150, a $5K EV swap in 4 hours, big-block barstool up for grabs
Ford’s new F-150 Rattler is all about dirt-for-dollar value
Intake: Following a surprise teaser tweet from CEO Jim Farley yesterday, Ford has revealed the Rattler package for the stalwart F-150. The new Rattler pack is based on SuperCab and SuperCrew versions of the F-150 XL 4×4, which begin at $39,145 or $42,350, respectively. Opt for the Rattler and you’ll net content from the FX4 off-road package, which includes skid plates, an electronic locking rear differential, special off-road tuned shocks, and hill descent control for more precise throttle and brake inputs on steep terrain. The Rattler package also dons all-terrain tires over 18-inch painted aluminum wheels. There’s a special dual exhaust, as well as Rattler badging on the fender vents and rattlesnake graphics for the exterior, along with your choice of white, gray, silver, carbon gray, antimatter blue, stone gray, agate black, and red paint. Inside, onyx seats with bronze accents help accentuate the desert-inspired theme of this new package. Ford says the F-150 Rattler will go on sale this fall, with pricing announced closer to launch.
Exhaust: The off-road offerings keep coming from the Blue Oval. We’re digging the fact that Ford is targeting a customer other than the top-dollar buyer with this package. The Rattler joins the $51,200 F-150 Tremor as another avenue to make the pickup trail-ready without stepping up to the full-bore $65,850 Raptor. Whereas the costlier Tremor boasts a few additional upgrades—an optional torsen limited-slip rear differential, Raptor-style active transfer case, and revised front hub knuckles and upper control arms for increased articulation—the Rattler package is best perceived as a cheaper alternative to Chevy’s budget off-road option, the $50,000-and-change Custom Trail Boss. It’s also priced right in line with the new Tundra’s cheapest off-road option, the $43,890 SR5 doublecab with the TRD off-road package.
A French firm says it can convert gas cars to electric in just four hours
Intake: Transition One in Orléans, France, has come up with an ICE to EV conversion kit for small cars that can be installed in four hours for a mere $5500. Those numbers are pretty remarkable, but others associated with the transformation are rather less impressive. The range, for example, is just 62 miles, while top speed is restricted to 68 mph—and you won’t achieve both at the same time—while charging can only be done at up to 6 kW. Transition One’s 53 kW motor and battery pack of 15 to 30 kWh is a straight swap for the combustion engine, and the transmission is retained so you still get to row your own gears. The conversion is currently available for a selection of five Euro city cars: the Fiat 500, Renault’s Twingo 2 and Clio 3, Mini, and the VW Polo 4. The Renault Kangoo 2 van can also be converted.
Exhaust: The use case in the U.S.A. for a conversion like this is probably zero, but in Europe, where compact city cars are popular and many cities are forcing older combustion cars out with emissions laws, this could be be a neat solution for less than the cost of a new electric Citröen Ami.
1500 humans and an army of robots build a 911 in 48 hours
Intake: Don’t let the Cayenne’s sales figures fool you—Porsche is still building the cars of your dreams. In fact, it’s doing more of it now than ever, thanks to updates to the Paint to Sample (PTS) program offered through Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur, which was updated in 2021 to increase capacity for those one-off orders. To wit, the line changes have increased PTS throughput from five to 20 cars per day, thanks for an additional color mixing bank at the Zuffenhausen plant where the 911, 718, and Taycan all come into existence. The latest video from the plant shows the painstaking process of building a PTS 911 GT3. The construction of a new 911 is a two-day, 117-step process which begins with the assembly of the monocoque by all manner of dextrous droids. The completed body is degreased, dipped in phosphate and electro-coated in an elaborate flip-dive into a chemical pool. Three layers of paint are applied, using around four-liters each to produce layers of between 30 and 50 microns thickness, and the car is then baked at 392 degrees for more than two and a half hours.
The star of the show is headed to none other than Leh Keen, whose involvement in the North American arm of the Porsche Carrera Cup as well as with The Keen Project, a run of sublime safari-style 911s, has made him intimately familiar with Porsche’s rich history of hues. His color of choice, Gold Bronze Metallic, had only been ordered 24 times prior in the history of Porsche, and it’s the first time a 992 911 will wear the shade.
Exhaust: This is a video factory tour like no other, following the progress of a 911 from stationary sheetmetal to tire-shredding race circuit monster. It’s both reassuring and calming to watch, like automotive ASMR. It’s not a cheap option—PTS rings in anywhere between $11,430 and $12,830, depending on the model—but boy, does it produce some lookers. The program offers more than 160 pre-approved colors in addition to the standard tones offered through Porsche. If you’re ordering a 911, 718, or Taycan, you can also partake in Paint to Sample Plus, which, for between $22,860 and $25,660, allows you to permanently add another color to the Porsche color range. The colors are subject to a feasibility study and a development period, which can take up to five months. If you’ve got the coin, we highly suggest something like this over another Guards Red 911.
Jeep’s newest concept is a roofless Wrangler with a rack
Intake: … and we won’t know much more than that, until April 9, when Easter Jeep Safari kicks off. The nine-day Jeep celebration is hosted by Red Rock 4-Wheelers Inc. in Moab, Utah, and Jeep always honors the event by bringing out all-new concepts alongside production vehicles kitted out by Jeep Performance Parts. We don’t always know which teaser previews an all-new model and which is a factory-backed custom build, but Jeep’s pretty clear this is the latter. The fifth EJS teaser shows a two-door model—we’re betting Wrangler, since a two-door Gladiator would be an entirely new proposition—decked out with a beefy roof rack and sporting minimal windows. Jeep indicated that the teased concept is a hybrid (4xe) model and makes mention of “some of the toughest trails in the world”… sounds like a Rubicon, to us.
Exhaust: This open-air, rooftop tent–friendly Wrangler joins a 20th anniversary Rubicon model, a military-flavored build, a Wrangler/Gladiator mashup, and what’s likely a Grand Cherokee 4xe overlander. Unsurprisingly, Jeep is leaning heavily into its hybrid tech and making sure its hardest-core fans don’t forget about its more family-oriented offerings … but, true to form, Jeep knows its brand and its customers, and is unlikely to disappoint.
Kia will bring Telluride-sized EV concept to production, but for Europe first
Intake: This past November, Kia showed off an electric SUV concept called the EV9 that took the Telluride’s boxy styling to an aggressively geometric level. Now, it’s officially bringing a version of the concept to production. EV-friendly Europe gets the vehicle first, though you can expect the real-life version to be less exotic than the blue-sky concept: The swiveling second-row will likely be replaced by something more car-seat friendly, and the steering wheel will probably be a circle, not a space-age rectangle. We also expect, uh, cupholders.
Exhaust: You can also expect the production-spec version of the EV9 to come stateside at some point. Since the Telluride proved a true-blue home-run, selling nearly 60K units its first year in the U.S., Kia would be silly not to capitalize on that success with an electric counterpart. The United States has a penchant for big SUVs, far more than Europe does. After all, the EV9 concept didn’t debut in London or Berlin, but in Los Angeles.
Big-block barstool set to cross the auction block
Intake: For those who ever dreamed of merging an Outlaw Sprint Car with a barstool, or wanted to motor around a car show in style, or maybe just wanted to tow their race car around the paddock in style, well, this auction for a V8-powered bar stool might be just what the doctor ordered. Created by Hoss Fly this example is outfitted to accept a big block Chevrolet V-8. But not just any ordinary rat motor made the cut, as the owner chose a 572 stroker that’s likely the ZZ572 available from Chevrolet.
Exhaust: Wretched excess is never too far away when talking about stroker, big-block V-8s, but not having a video of this beast at idle is a tragedy. This Hoss Fly will be offered by Mecum in just a few days, and if the $4000-8000 estimated sale range is any indication, someone’s gonna get one heckuva conversation starter with a motor that’s worth twice the asking price. To wit, don’t be too surprised if the new owner only buys it for that engine, and parts out the rest.
Washington state plans to ban new non-electric vehicles by 2030
Intake: The Washington State Legislature has given final approval to a nearly $17 billion transportation package that includes the banning of all non-electric new vehicle sales beginning with model year 2030. Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5974, also known as “Move Ahead Washington,” is being celebrated by Governor Jay Inslee, who has been pushing for green energy legislation since the release of his book, Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy, in 2007. The state’s official press release does not mention the ICE ban—which can be found in Section 415 on page 87 of the 122-page bill—but instead highlights a list of “notable investments,” including $5.4 billion toward “carbon reduction and multimodal expansion,” $3 billion for maintenance and preservation, and $3 billion for public transportation. “This package will move us away from the transportation system our grandparents imagined,” Inslee says, “and towards the transportation system our grandchildren dream of.”
Exhaust: The aptly named Move Ahead Washington initiative has established a timeline that is even more ambitious than California’s proposed 2035 ban on all new ICE vehicles. But is such a ban realistic outside of urban areas? Regardless of its intentions, banning ICE vehicles is hardly a one-size-fits-all proposition, and it will receive plenty of pushback, particularly from Americans living in colder, rural areas. As we’ve said about other EV vs. ICE-related issues, this debate is far from over.