GT-R replacement coming, Hellcat gets its manual transmission back, NASCAR under fire
GT-R successor will be a Nismo hybrid
Intake: It’s still a few years away, but the Nissan GT-R will be replaced by a hybrid sports car from Nismo, according to a report from the U.K.’s Autocar. Nismo CEO Takao Katagiri told the publication, “We are going to introduce a very exciting model under the Nismo brand.” Autocar predicts that the new model will be a hybrid, with Katagari adding that a “combination” of hybrid and battery-electric models will be on the agenda. Autocar says Katagari “hinted it will arrive this decade” and that, following a launch in Japan, the new sports car would come to Europe and the U.S.
Exhaust: It’s good news for Nismo fans the world over, but especially in Europe where the Z coupé is out of reach due to emissions regulations. A plug-in hybrid sports car would comply with Euro rules, and bring some much-missed JDM performance back to the continent. —Nik Berg
Manual transmission back in Challenger Hellcat in 2023
Intake: They must have a little extra time over at Car and Driver, and good for them if they do, because someone stumbled across an item buried deep in Dodge’s 2023 press information that said this: “Tremec six-speed manual transmission standard on the R/T, R/T Scat Pack and SRT Hellcat models.” The six-speed used to be available on the Challenger Hellcat, but disappeared — we told you about it back in March. They said then, “a Stellantis spokesperson noted that the move is only temporary; SRT is apparently working on a revised powertrain calibration to help the 6.2-liter, 717-horse V-8 jive with the six-speed Tremec box, but there at present is no firm date for when that revision will arrive.” Apparently, everything is all calibrated up now.
Exhaust: You have to give Dodge credit: They’re doing all they can to make the last year of the Challenger and Charger special. This may well be the last time you have a chance to get a manual on a high-performance Mopar before they go all electric on us. —Steven Cole Smith
Electrified E-Types, Defenders, 911s, and Stags to be built in the U.S.
Intake: British company Electrogenic has announced partnerships with two American specialists to add its amps to four classic cars. Using Electrogenic’s plug-in kits Vermont-based TATC will convert Land Rover Defenders, Jaguar E-Types, and Triumph Stags to run on electricity, and in Dallas, Texas Xerbera will install Electrogenic’s powertrains in the Defender, E-Type and Porsche 911. The Electrogenic conversions have been designed to be reversible, with no changes required to the cars’ hard points or drilling required. Electrogenic co-founder Steve Drummond says, “We’ve been inundated with inquiries from North America since we first revealed the kits, which convert automotive icons to sophisticated EV power, so we’re delighted to have such fantastic partners serving customers across the pond.”
Exhaust: The electrification of classic cars is gathering momentum on both sides of the Atlantic. Electrogenic has joined Everrati in transferring its technology to the U.S.A. and adding to the ranks of American classic EVangelists. Those promoting the switch will say that it’s a way of future-proofing beautiful cars of the past, making them easier to operate and potentially more reliable, but those opposed will mourn the loss of character and driving fun, as the sounds and smells of internal combustion are banished. Where do you stand? —NB
Yes, we know it isn’t a car …
Intake: … but it’s being sold at a car auction — Mecum’s massive, 4000-cars-and-a-plane auction in January in Kissimmee, Florida— so we figure it’s fair game. Mecum is auctioning off one of Elvis Presley’s personal jets, a 1962 Lockheed 1329 JetStar, billed as the only jet Elvis owned that is available to the public. Mecum says in the spring of 1977, the jet was sold, later ending up with a Saudi Arabian company. The JetStar was then moved to Roswell International Air Center in Roswell, New Mexico, where it’s been stored in the desert “for decades,” and looks it. ‘The aircraft will require disassembly to be shipped, and coordinating assistance is available. While the [four] jet engines and many cockpit components have been removed and no engines or replacement parts will be included with the sale of Elvis’ jet, it serves as an incredible restoration opportunity and a chance to create a unique Elvis exhibit for all the world to enjoy.”
Exhaust: These Lockheeds, which catered to multiple celebrities during their long life, including shuttling President Lyndon Johnson, were fine airplanes, but this one is in a serious state of disrepair. That said, the red velvet (of course) interior is in pretty good shape, and, as Mecum says, there’s a “television, RCA VCR player and audio cassette player, and headphone ports with audio controls are located at every seat. A galley contains storage and a meal-prep area complete with a Kenmore microwave.” Elvis paid $840,000 for the plane in 1976; it has been on the market recently for about half that with no takers. It’ll be interesting to see who bids on it, and why. —SCS
Buick sending the Envista to the U.S.
Intake: Whether intentional or a slip of the lip, General Motors President Mark Reuss told a group of investors that the Envista, a small SUV currently being built in China, was U.S.-bound. “Beautiful vehicle, getting ready for the U.S. here, as well,” Reuss told investors in New York. “Just a beautiful addition to the Buick lineup.” According to Automotive News, the Envista is expected here in 2023, as a ’24 model. With Buick’s pledge to be all-electric by the end of the decade, this may be the last gas-powered new Buick. “Much like Chevy has done with the next-gen Trax, Buick is expected to follow with a new, more exciting formula for an indirect replacement for Encore, which is believed to be Envista,” Paul Waatti, manager of industry analysis for AutoPacific, told the publication. The Chinese Envista is powered by a 1.5-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder.
Exhaust: The Envista has been on sale since August. GM said that the Envista was “tailored for the progressive young generation and modern families in China.” Goodness knows Buick can use more of those customers here. —SCS
Are NASCAR teams planning to hold their own races without NASCAR?
Intake: A story in the Sports Business Journal, confirmed by at least one team owner, says that the Race Team Alliance, which includes all 36 NASCAR Cup teams that have a charter (worth about $25-$30 million a team), have hired an outside consultant to look into holding “exhibition” races they’d run themselves, outside NASCAR, “a potentially stunning development that suggests that NASCAR’s biggest teams could organize their own events in the offseason.” Teams are “interested in this because they are struggling to turn a profit and are looking to find any possible new revenue streams, sources said. The events would likely occur in the offseason and apparently would not involve NASCAR.” The key would be finding venues and a TV package. While the story says the races would happen during the offseason, which we’re in now, it seems they could also be held mid-week during the regular season.
Exhaust: It’s hard to imagine NASCAR would be willing to go along with this, as it would dilute its product. It’s possible this is a negotiating tactic by the RTA, hoping to get a bigger share of the TV money from the new media rights deal for broadcast rights which starts in 2025. —SCS