Bronco engine investigated for “catastrophic” failure, BMW’s V-8 Le Mans racer, Continental GT dresses up

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Phillip Thomas

NHTSA looks into why Bronco 2.7 engines are bucking valves

Intake: Back in March, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) received three requests to investigate a potential problem with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 engines in the hot-selling Ford Bronco. Reported symptoms include a sudden lack of power on the highway, which turns into a “no-restart due to catastrophic engine failure.” An alleged valvetrain defect is thought to be at fault. These reports evolved into a full-fledged investigation on May 27, complete with 32 complaints from affected Bronco owners. NHTSA’s report suggests there were no deaths, injuries, crashes, or fires stemming from these events.

Exhaust: Valvetrain failures that cause a “no start” condition are usually because of a valve dropping into the combustion chamber, munching the piston below it and likely turning the twin-turbo 2.7’s compacted-graphite iron (CGI) block into scrap metal. The dropped valve problem, if that is indeed the case, probably is the result of a production defect in the valve, retainer, or valve spring. Since Broncos are brand-new vehicles, these failures should be fully covered by Ford’s new-car powertrain warranty. But given current supply chain issues and insane new-car demand, who knows how long it will take to get replacement engines in the hands of the local dealerships. For the 32 owners who surely waited in anticipation for their new Bronco, this can’t feel good.

BMW M Hybrid V8 to fight for IMSA’s top honors in 2023

Intake: BMW is returning to the highest ranks of sports car racing with an all-new LMDh (Le Mans Daytona hybrid). The new prototype will compete against Porsche, Acura, and Cadillac in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship GTP class beginning next year. Styled by BMW Group Designworks in California, the M Hybrid V8 features an interpretation of the brand’s kidney grille that’s thankfully wider than it is tall. Other BMW trademark features include M “hook” mirrors and a reference to the Hofmeister kink in a window graphic. “My team’s job was to make the BMW M Hybrid V8 look like a BMW, and embrace every opportunity to make it also perform like one on the race track,” said BMW Group Designworks Global Automotive Director Michael Scully. BMW launched the car with a glorious camouflage that pays homage to 50 years of M, including images of past icons including the 1976 3.0 CSL the 1981 M1, the 1978 320i Turbo, 1986’s GTP, and the more recent M3 GTS-2, Z4 GTLM, and M8 GTE. “The camouflage livery celebrates the 50 Years of M by commemorating the great cars of BMW’s storied history in IMSA racing while uniquely cloaking the BMW M Hybrid V8’s future-facing exterior geometry and technologies during the critical on-track development phase of the project,” added Scully.

Exhaust: BMW hasn’t yet confirmed if it will enter the World Endurance Championship with the M Hybrid V8, so all eyes will be on IMSA where it will also face competition from the new Le Mans Hypercars from Toyota, Peugeot, and Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus in the first race of 2023 at Daytona.

Bentley sweetens the GT with sporty S variant

Intake: If the only thing stopping you from picking up a glamorous V-8 Continental GT is a touch of menace, listen up. Bentley is expanding the GT and GTC convertible lineup with a new S model, adding number of sinister aesthetic tweaks and an enhanced soundtrack. If you can take a moment to turn down the Continental’s stunning Naim audio system, the new GT/GTC S boasts a standard sport exhaust for the 4.0-liter V-8. The roar emanates from a new quad-tip exhaust, replacing the large twin ovals on the standard GT and Speed variants. Aside from that, the S is s all window dressing, down to the darkened front and rear lighting, black gloss grille, newly designed black gloss or satin 22-inch wheels, and modified interior with “Fluted” S design sport seats.

Exhaust: Bentley says that the Continental GT S and GTC S focus on “driving pleasure,” but as far as we can tell this S version is more about looks than performance. The Continental’s all-wheel steering, uprated brakes, and electronic limited-slip differential are all still reserved for the V-12 Speed model, which we noted in our first drive review helps keep the big Brit’s raw speed in check with the road turns twisty. That said, there’s sure to be customer appetite for a sporty-looking Continental GT with a gorgeous exhaust note and a more aggressive appearance, so this is a wise development from Bentley. If there’s ever been a reason to stick with the open-roof GTC to hear that V-8 snarl, this is it.

Ares Design Defender is a $250,000 Anglo-Italian restomod

Intake: Italian coachbuilder Ares Design has put its Modena mark on the classic Land Rover Defender. Wisely, the car’s timeless exterior is only subtly enhanced with a new carbon-fiber hood, widened wings, and larger tinted windows. The car “retains the iconic characteristics of the imposing Defender design but tempers them with essential and elegant lines, to express modernity and propel the icon into the future,” says Ares. The Defender’s original rugged interior has been thrown out, however, replaced by a small forest of wood and a field of cow hide. A panoramic sunroof adds light to the cabin, and the infotainment is upgraded. Under the hood sits a 5.3-liter V-8 with 355 hp delivered to four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission, and to accompany the performance boost Ares has fitted new ORAM electronic adjustable suspension and upgraded the brakes. Called simply the Ares Defender V-8, prices start at around $250,000.

Exhaust: There’s no shortage of firms out there bringing the Defender up to modern standards but Ares Design appears to have down the job with its usual Italian flair. This or a Brabus G-Wagen?

HRE adds carbon fiber to its wheel portfolio

Intake: Aftermarket wheel manufacturer HRE has been known to push the envelope in both design and manufacturing. The outfit has even built 3D-printed wheels made from titanium. Its newest offerings use carbon-fiber barrels to remove wheel mass from where it counts the most; HRE calls this new product line CRBN. It’s made using Vacuum-Assisted Resin-Transfer Molding (VARTM) to get just the right amount of tough resin around the carbon-fiber weave, for improved strength-to-weight ratio. The composite barrel is secured to a forged aluminum center using high-strength titanium fasteners.

Exhaust: HRE hasn’t given us any way to compare these CRBN wheels to similarly-sized aluminum wheels, although they should improve handling, acceleration, and braking by reduced rotating inertia and unsprung mass. For now, given the complexity and cost, they will be found only in the realm of supercars and exotics. The real win is that HRE has shown that advanced materials and production processes once reserved for OEMs can be adapted to the aftermarket with gorgeous results.

Can a good detail make this garage-find Trans Am sparkle enough to sell?

Intake: The barn find trend tends to bring big money to dusty cars, but at this point it’s nothing new. Detailing expert AMMO NYC recently found a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am that had been sitting in a garage since 1995—dusty and scratched up but all there. Can a good detail really bring a significant value bump to the languishing T/A? After throwing all his skills at bringing the KITT look-alike up to the appearance it deserves, AMMO owner Larry Kosilla let himself be surprised.

Exhaust: While it’s easy to get cynical about flipping cars, there’s no denying that appearance and presentation go a long, long way. It was no small effort for the AMMO NYC crew to get this T/A back into shape, either. There was a lot of attention paid to everything from the interior to the rare factory wheel covers. From the purchase price of $4500 to a turnaround sale for $10,500, we’d say this was about as desirable a result as could have been expected. Hopefully the new owner will give it a mechanical refresh and enjoy driving this beautiful ’80s muscle car.

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