Ferrari’s latest one-off, Lucid’s hefty price hikes, Abarth’s pocket rocket tribute
F8 Tributo-based SP48 Unica is Ferrari’s newest one-off creation
Intake: Ferrari’s latest creation from its Special Projects program has arrived. Meet the SP48 Unica, a glistening, red-orange metallic masterpiece based on the F8 Tributo but evolved to meet the very specific design brief of one of Ferrari’s long-standing clients. Designed by Ferrari’s Senior Vice President of Design Flavio Manzoni, the shapely mid-engine creation used additive manufacturing to create complex forms for the front grille—one of many steps taken to rework the front end to appear more arrow-shaped. In place of a rear windscreen (objects behind you are losing, right?), a large clamshell hood helps the SP48 Unica to appear formed from a single, large hunk of material. Ferrari says the reworked rear body adjusts the aerodynamic characteristics of the car. The cabin retains the same layout as that of the F8, but special material adjustments such as the iridescent reddish-orange fabric beneath the laser-perforated Alcantara leather seats and matte carbon fiber trim pieces make it clear that this isn’t just an off-the-shelf interior.
Exhaust: Look at the SP48 Unica from the right angle, and you might get whiffs of a Bugatti Chiron. Surely, the client behind this project would get a kick out of that. Although, there’s a strong possibility that he or she already has a Chiron in the stable as well. Heck, all told, the SP48 Unica might end up costing more than the Chiron’s $3M price tag.
Lucid’s price jumps show production in 2022 is one hell of a rocky road
Intake: It’s becoming quite apparent, in 2022 and beyond, that none of the EV darlings of today will enjoy the material costs and supply chain timing that Tesla had on its rise to prominence and full-scale production. Prices are already rising across the board in the sector, forming a harsh headwind for startups to work against. In its Q1 earnings report, Lucid revealed that it too will need to hike prices to cope with the rising costs. Beginning June 1, the Lucid Air will be priced as follows: $154,000 for Air Grand Touring, $107,400 for Air Touring and $87,400 for Air Pure. Those are increases of $15,150, $12,550, and $10,500, respectively. Pricing on the new range-topping Grand Touring Performance model remains hardly affected for now, sitting at $180,650. The Air Grand Touring Performance was revealed recently as the new top-of-the-line model, now that the Air Dream has sold out.
Lucid was quick to note that existing reservation holders would not be subject to the price increases. Fellow EV upstart Rivian recently announced some price hikes but initially failed to insulate existing reservation holders. The resulting outrage eventually led CEO R.J. Scaringe to pen a personal note apologizing for the mistake, walking back the increases for those who had already plunked down a deposit. Despite the pricing news, Lucid assured investors that it remained on solid financial footing. “We continue to have a healthy balance sheet, closing the quarter with nearly $5.4 billion of cash on hand, which we believe is sufficient to fund the company well into 2023,” said Sherry House, Lucid’s CFO.
Exhaust: Nobody likes price increases, but customers who can afford the debut prices of the Lucid lineup are an unlikely demographic to be detrimentally crippled by any oncoming economic woe. If anything comes from these shortages (that are smacking the entire industry), it will likely only amount to a slowing of consumer interest in Lucid, not a stoppage.
Abarth puts on a rally good show with 131 tribute
Intake: Abarth is marking 40 years since the incredible 131 last took to the rally stage with a special-edition run of 695 Tributo models. Appropriately, just 695 examples will be available worldwide, and buyers get a host of awesome upgrades to the Fiat 500-based hot hatch. Power is from a 1.4-liter T-jet turbocharged four-cylinder with 180 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, which will catapult this diminutive dynamo to 62 mph in 6.7 seconds. Koni FSD shocks are fitted at the corners, alongside Brembo brakes. There are 17-inch black alloy wheels, and a Record Monza Sovrapposto exhaust. There’s also a 12-point adjustable rear spoiler that Abarth calls “Spoiler ad Assetto Variable” that can be set at five degree increments from zero to 60 degrees to add up to 92 lbs of downforce at 124 mph. The Blue Rally glossy finish is a new three-layer paint that harkens back to the 131, while inside the silhouette of the rally legend is engraved in the doors, dashboard, and the headrests of the Sabelt seats. The original Group 4 Abarth 131 Rally competed from 1976–1981, notching 18 wins and securing three World Constructors’ Championships. Markku Alén won the FIA Cup for Rally Drivers twice in the car, while Walter Röhrl was World Drivers’ Champion.
Exhaust: Abarth has plenty to celebrate in the 131. The original Group 4 Abarth 131 Rally competed from 1976–1981, notching 18 wins and securing three World Constructors’ Championships. Markku Alén won the FIA Cup for Rally Drivers twice in the car, while Walter Röhrl was World Drivers’ Champion. Sadly, this stage-inspired pocket rocket won’t be available in North America, as Abarth abandoned us in 2019. European buyers can pick one up for the equivalent of $40,000.
Fisker goes long range with Project Ronin
Intake: Fisker is going beyond the Pear and Ocean SUV with the announcement of Project Ronin: a sleek, low-slung, grand touring vehicle that promises stellar performance and the longest range of any production EV. Named after the famous 1998 action movie with heart-stopping car chases, CEO Henrik Fisker suggests Project Ronin will “showcase for our internal engineering, powertrain, and software capabilities.” The vehicle is a four-seater with “unique doors” for better ergonomics, and a suitably high-end interior constructed with sustainable materials. Details are otherwise sparse, but Fisker suggests Project Ronin will be unveiled next August, with production starting in the second half of 2024.
Exhaust: The rendering presented for Project Ronin leaves much to the imagination. We can’t tell if it will be a traditional coupe, a sedan, or something in-between. Fisker products usually cover the top end of the motoring spectrum, and the sheer volume of competition for best-in-class EV performance at this price point suggests we should consider Project Ronin’s performance claims to be more like forward looking statements, taken with a grain of salt. No matter, the next two years will be even more interesting if Project Ronin comes to life.
Virage or mirage? This rare Aston Martin shooting brake is for sale
Intake: The first factory-made Aston Martin Virage shooting brake is headed to auction. The car, which was displayed at the 1992 Geneva Motor Show, was claimed to be the world’s fastest wagon with a top speed of 152 mph thanks to its 330hp V-8 that was massaged by Callaway Engineering. Coachbuilders had created shooting brakes based on the DB5, DB6 and DBS before, but according to Bonhams, the Virage represents the first factory-backed effort from Aston. Sold new for £165,000 (equivalent to $370,000 today), this example originally left Newport Pagnell with an automatic transmission but was later converted to a manual. The current owner bought the car in 2005 and sent it straight to Aston Martin Works for an extensive and expensive overhaul. Rather than being driven as intended, however, the car was put on display and now needs recommissioning. It’s for sale as part of Bonhams’ Les Grandes Marques à Monaco auction with no reserve and an estimate of €100,000-€200,000 ($105,000-$210,000).
Exhaust: We’re suckers for shooting brakes, and the fact that only five or six were built makes this Aston even more appealing. The Bonhams sale, which includes some plnety of delicious metal such as a few vintage Bugattis and a 959 Komfort, begins on May 13. Bidding is open now.