Kevin Hart’s Caddy-swapped Grand National, Bentley’s eco-friendliest Bentayga, IMSA’s packed Daytona field

11.03 Manifold Lede Kevin Hart Buick Grand National

Kevin Hart’s Caddy-swapped Grand National goes Gotham

Intake: Kevin Hart has been known to keep a wild hot rod or two kicking around his collection. The movie star/ comedian is a huge car guy, and his newest project, dubbed “the Dark Knight” is a restrained retro-modern take on one of our favorite muscle cars: a 1987 Buick Regal Grand National. Magnaflow, HRE, and a few other companies collaborated with Hart to make the Dark Knight a reality. There’s a bespoke Magnaflow exhaust system, a new carbon fiber hood and splitter, and a custom front fascia to tweak the Grand National’s visual presence in all the right ways. Blessedly, some of the best ’80s traits of this car, like the T-Top, remain.Hart and the builders decided to replace the 3.8-liter single-turbo V-6 with a 3.6-liter V-6 from the Cadillac V-Series. (Although it’s hard to tell, it looks like they retained the single-turbo set-up instead of going with the Caddy engine’s twin-turbo arrangement.) The whole business rides slightly lower and on a new set of HRE wheels that mimic the basket-weave shoes worn on the original Grand National. The Dark Knight and a few of Hart’s other builds will be at the Magnaflow booth at SEMA through Friday.

Exhaust: We love Hart’s passion for American muscle—and his interest in exploring creative, modern adaptations of the segment’s most beloved cars. Whether it’s his ’69 Roadrunner custom, his 1000-hp Charger, or past machines like this ’77 Ford Bronco restomod, the superstar sets an example of genuine enthusiasm—and great taste. — Nathan Petroelje

Legendary Ferrari engineer Mauro Forghieri dies at 87

Intake: Mauro Forghieri, the Italian engineer best known for his work with Ferrari in the 1960s and ‘70s, died Wednesday. Forghieri was 27 when asked by Enzo Ferrari to take over the technical side of the team in 1961 after joining as an apprentice from the University of Bologna with a degree in mechanical engineering, said Reuters. “Legends last forever…It’s been an honor making history together. Ferrari and the world of motorsport will never forget you,” the Ferrari team tweeted. He moved to Lamborghini in 1987 to work on that company’s F1 program before opening his own company.

Exhaust: John Surtees (1964), Niki Lauda (1975, 1977) and Jody Scheckter (1979) all won championships under Forghieri and Ferrari. He made many contributions to the sport, including introducing the first designed rear wing to Formula 1 at the 1968 Belgian Grand Prix, as well as developing the first successful transverse-mounted gearbox. He was 87. — SCS

Bentley Bentayga Odyssean Edition claims eco creds

Intake: Bentley has wheeled out what it claims to be the most sustainable example of its behemoth Bentayga SUV. The Odyssean Edition, of which just 70 will be produced, is based on the Bentayga Hybrid and combines a 3-liter V-6 with an 18 kWh battery, and a 100 kW motor for a combined output of 426 hp and the ability to travel around 28 miles on electricity alone. That’s old news now, however, so what makes the Odyssean Edition different is an interior that’s a little kinder to the planet. Open pore Koa wood veneer on the center console uses 90 percent less lacquer than other high-gloss woods, and woolen tweed panels are used extensively. Bentley says its leather is sustainable and natural, which is a good job as there’s lashings of it. A palette of six different specifications are offered, or buyers can go full custom from Bentley’s bespoke options list.

Exhaust: A bit less lacquer and a few natural fibers isn’t going to save the planet—especially when applied to just 70 cars. Really this is just some stopgap virtue signalling until Bentley’s electric in 2025.—Nik Berg

2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona will feature completely maxed-out field

2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona full field photo
LAT Images

Intake: Officials for IMSA, the sanctioning body for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, have been working hard to find room in the race for all the teams that want to compete. The 2023 race, the opening event for IMSA’s season, may have to turn cars away. “It’s a nice problem to have, frankly,” IMSA President John Doonan said. One of the limiting issues is the number of pit stalls that can be carved out of the space available on pit road. The 2022 race had 61 entries, which very nearly maxed out the room. “We’ve seen a tremendous amount of momentum for the sport—for IMSA and all the fans of IMSA—and I think 2023 is not going to be any different,” Doonan said. “Even compared to a year ago at this time, we’ve had another lift in interest from competitors wanting to run the Rolex 24 and the WeatherTech Championship season as a whole. New cars aside, it’s a really special time for the sport.”

Exhaust: The new cars Doonan is referring to is the hybrid-powered GTP class, which is debuting at Daytona. The GTP class is made of prototypes—which are cars that are designed from the ground up, as opposed to GT cars that start out as production models—that are replacing the DPi prototypes that are now relegated to historic racing. Acura, BMW, Cadillac, and Porsche are expected to field two factory-backed cars each in GTP at Daytona, with the probability of an additional entry from one of those manufacturers, most likely Porsche. The race is set for January 28–29. – Steven Cole Smith

Friends reunited: Lotus and Fittipaldi are back on track

Intake: Five decades after Emerson Fittipaldi claimed the Formula 1 World Championship, the blisteringly-fast Brazilian was back at Lotus driving the future. Fittipaldi was reunited with a Type 72, just like the one he raced to five victories in 1972 before unveiling the Evija Fittipaldi electric hypercar, which has been named in honor of the title he won 50 years ago. “The Lotus 72 would be the most important car for my life,” recalls the champion. “The Evija Fittipaldi is going to be as iconic as the Lotus Type 72. It has beautiful handling, incredible power, the next level of performance for hypercars and different from all the other cars I’ve tested. It is a beautiful piece of art. Look at the outside, look at the technology—to have my name on the car is an honor for me.” The first eight Evijas built will be Fittipaldi Editions, each wearing the distinctive black and gold livery in tribute.

Exhaust: Nostalgia aside, there does appear to be a genuine link between Fittipaldi’s Type 72 and the Evija. Specifically, the aerodynamics that transformed F1 have continued to be developed by Lotus ever since, leading to the ingenious porous design of the Evija. “The things Colin Chapman was doing 50 years ago we’re still doing at Lotus today,” says Lotus boss Matt Windle. –Nik Berg

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    Basket weave wheels were the purview of the rare Buick GNX. Regular Grand Nationals had slotted steel wheels that were cheaply chromed.

    Great to see IMSA gaining momentum. It would be nice if they could land a deal to broadcast even a high lights show in Canada.

    I’m a huge Emmo fan, and as such am excited to see this honor for him from Lotus. I also enjoy IMSA, and this is great news. Forghieri did fabulous things at Ferrari and Lamborghini in his day, so R.I.P., Mauro. I care very little about Bentley and even less about Kevin Hart’s autos. I sure don’t agree with Nathan Petroelje about Hart’s “great taste”.

    The Grand National is one of those machines they did right the first time. Yeah the technology and HP are a bit better now, but I bet there is a line of people who would have wanted that car just the way it was. It’s one thing to try to get into the business of telling people what to do with the things they own, but this whole restomod thing is just destroying classic cars. I don’t know how many of these custom car shows where 70% of a perfectly good classic car ends up in the metal barrel by the time they are done with them.

    “Bentley Bentayga Odyssean Edition claims eco creds”. I don’t understand the negative connotations here. Everyone else has gone eco. Why not Bentley? It may not be much but every little bit helps, right? Or at least that is what I am lead to believe.

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