GM to Buick: Sell EVs or face buyout, McLaren’s barn-find beauty, Ram’s even swankier half-ton
GM to Buick dealers: Sell EVs or we’ll buy you out
Intake: General Motors is planning to make Buick an EV-only brand by 2030 and needs its network of roughly 2000 dealerships to invest heavily in that future for it to become a reality. The Wall Street Journal reports that dealers who refuse to update their stores will be offered a buyout of their franchise. As Buick/GMC’s global vice president Duncan Aldred told the WSJ, “Not everyone necessarily wants to make that journey, depending on where they’re located or the level of expenditure that the transition will demand,” he said. “So if they want to exit the Buick franchise, then we will give them monetary assistance to do so.”
Exhaust:How many of us are just dying to visit a Buick dealer right now for a South Korean (Encore) or Chinese (Envision) CUV with the famous Tri-Shield badge affixed to its global-spec body? Yes, the full-size Enclave CUV is still made in Michigan, but Buick’s model portfolio is thinner than Tesla’s mix of sedans and crossovers. But most Buick dealers already sell GMCs, so they make the nut with high-margin trucks that could offset the cost of electrification. The only standalone Buick dealer I could find closed in 2019, so I reckon this transition will be far easier on GM’s wallet than closing all the standalone Cadillac dealers back in 2020. —Sajeev Mehta
Add Porsche to your portfolio this month
Intake: The Volkswagen Group is finally set to float Porsche on European stock exchanges. The Initial Public Offering will go ahead at the end of September or the beginning of October with up to 25 percent of preferred shares in Porsche AG up for grabs. Investors are anticipating a valuation of $60 to 85 billion, which could make this one of the largest share offerings in German history, according to Automotive News Europe. “This is a historic moment for Porsche,” says Porsche boss Oliver Blume. “We believe an IPO would open up a new chapter for us with increased independence as one of the world’s most successful sports car manufacturers.” Further information about how to invest will be available at Porsche’s Investor Relations website soon.
Exhaust: Not only will this share offering raise a huge amount of cash for Porsche, it will also secure the company’s control under the Piëch and Porsche families. VW has given the go-ahead for 25 percent plus one share of ordinary shares to be sold to Porsche SE. That will give the families a so-called blocking minority and therefore tighten their hold on the reins on the sports car maker. —Nik Berg
Bruce’s barn find is McLaren’s first sports car
Intake: The first sports-racing car run by the Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Team has been discovered in storage in South Africa and will go to auction at Bonham’s Goodwood Sale on September 17. The car has an incredible history, racing in no less than seven different iterations and earning the moniker “Transformer.” Beginning life in 1961 as a Cooper Climax T35P Formula 1 car, it was crashed by Walt Hangsen at the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. In 1962 it was rebuilt for Roger Penske to take on the West Coast’s sports car scene, winning at Riverside, Laguna Seca, and Caguas. The following year it was modified again and took Penske to victory at the Guards Trophy at Brands Hatch in the U.K. McLaren then bought the chassis in 1964, took the wheel and scored two wins for the Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Team at Aintree and Silverstone. For its fifth incarnation the car was fitted with a 3.5-liter Cooper-Zerex Oldsmobile V-8 and won the Player’s 200 at Mosport Park, Canada. A sixth major modification saw the fitment of a 3.9-liter Olds V-8 which helped it to win at Brands Hatch in 1964. In its final form the car gained new bodywork, including an “anteater” nose, and was sold to Texan amateur racer Dave Morgan, who tackled Bahamas Speed Week among his other antics. In 1967 the car was sold to a South Africa–based Venezuelan driver and pretty much vanished, but has now been unearthed, boxed up and shipped to the U.K. for sale.
Exhaust: “Unfinished project” is a good way to to describe this car—not just in its current condition, but throughout its remarkable career. The big question for the buyer will be which version to restore. — NB
Austin Pedal Cars Ltd. launches a new series of kiddie cars
Intake: Burlen Ltd., which manufactures vintage and classic vehicle fuel systems, has acquired the Austin trademark, allowing the British company to manufacture new pedal cars, parts, and accessories under the Austin name. A total of 32,098 Austin J40 pedal cars were made from 1949–71, and they remain popular in collector car circles. Each year the Goodwood Revival hosts the popular Settrington Cup race, a just-for-kids competition involving original Austin J40s (above). For years, Burlen’s J40 Motor Company has been creating “bespoke parts to suit customer demand and to reverse engineer many products that have been previously unavailable to the J40 community,” and now—under the name Austin Pedal Cars Ltd.—it can build new pedal cars. An all-new J40 prototype continuation pedal car will be launched at the 2022 Goodwood Revival, September 16–18, and plans are in the works for a series of new models.
Exhaust: When it comes to pedal cars, this isn’t mere child’s play. J40s may have originally been built for kids, but adults have been collecting them for years, paying as much as $5000–$7000, depending on condition. For those of us who can’t afford an original, the opportunity to score a new model is big news. —Jeff Peek
Ram unveils even swankier, Limited Elite Edition half-ton
Intake: If pickup trucks are indeed today’s luxury vehicles (they are), then Ram wants in. The marque just unveiled the 1500 Limited Elite Edition, a new top-of the-top half-ton. Among each Limited Elite’s extra-large helping of real metal, wood, and leather are premium leather bucket seats, a suede headliner, a new instrument cluster theme, a new bright pedal kit, and a jeweled rotary shifter. Standard exterior amenities include the multifunction tailgate (a $995 option on the Limited, non-Elite truck), a bed step, cargo divider, and tie-down hooks. Ram’s 5.7-liter hemi V-8 with mild-hybrid assist will be the standard engine. The model will go on sale next month, with a MSRP of $67,100 including destination for a two-wheel-drive, crew-cab model. Expect 4×4 models to start around $3500 more.
Exhaust: A regular Limited will run you around $64,280 for a 4×2 crew cab with the 5-foot, 7-inch box. This new model starts a few thousand above that and will regularly leave dealer lots in the $70,000-plus range. Although it may not seem like the Limited Elite Edition gets much more in the way of luxury items over the regular Limited, those seats are sure to be a big attraction. We’ve seen GMC adopt a new top-tier model with the Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate, and Toyota’s new Tundra has the swanked-out Capstone trim, so it’s no surprise to see Ram march up the price ladder to join the fray. — Nathan Petroelje