Elvis’ jet goes for chump change, Mazda returns to a rotary, Shelby International to debut new model
Elvis’ jet sells, finally, at Mecum
Intake: The 1962 Lockheed JetStar once owned by Elvis Presley, which had been stripped of its four engines and some avionics and has languished on the ramp at the Roswell, New Mexico, airport for 35 years, sold Sunday at Mecum’s Kissimmee auto auction for a gavel price of just $260,000, despite an in-person pep talk from Priscilla Presley, 77, Elvis’s former wife, who asked the crowd to honor her ex on Elvis’ 88th birthday with some high bids. The faded plane still has the plush red velvet seats Elvis ordered, and such luxuries as a microwave oven and a small theater. According to AINonline.com, this was at least the third time the jet had come up for auction. Kruse International tried to auction the plane in 2008, but despite estimates of $700,000 to $2 million, reserve was not met. There was another auction in 2018, with GSW Auctions estimating the value at between $2 million and $3.5 million. Wisely, Mecum Kissimmee did not include an estimate of the value, but the auctioneers, and likely the unknown owner, were clearly disappointed in the price, especially since Elvis’ Stutz Bearcat brought almost $300,000 in a Las Vegas auction.
Exhaust: Afterwards, Mecum auctioned off a 15-minute meet-and-greet with the stunningly well-preserved Priscilla — possibly due to her use of Cilla, her commercially-available skin serum ($75), with the proceeds of the meeting going to a cancer charity. The clearly surprised and slightly confused crowd came up with a bid of $8500. —Steven Cole Smith
Shelby Centennial Celebration to include a new model introduction
Intake: In honor of the man’s 100th birthday, a Carroll Shelby Centennial Celebration will be hosted by Carroll Shelby International on Saturday, January 14, 2023 at Shelby’s Gardena, California, headquarters. The event will feature the debut of a new Shelby anniversary vehicle and will include a car show for Ford-powered performance vehicles sponsored by the Shelby American Automobile Club.
Exhaust: Shelby American produces pickups, Cobras, vintage Mustangs, and new Mustangs, so we’re not sure what to expect as far as the new product goes, but we’d bet on a special set of badges that feature Carroll himself on a particularly exciting version of a 2023 Mustang. That just seems the most fitting and the timing may be a bit too early to expect a look at a Shelby Mustang based on a 2024 model. —Brandan Gillogly
Finally, the rotary returns
Intake: After countless delays, and well over a year since registering assorted new e-SKYACTIV-R trademarks, Mazda will finally reveal a new rotary engine at the Brussels Motor Show on January 13. The spinning dorito motor is set to power a plug-in hybrid version of the MX-30 compact crossover, thereby significantly extending the car’s paltry 100-odd mile range. The small single-rotor engine will be mounted up front and acts only as a generator, with an electric motor providing drive to the front wheels as in the MX-30 BEV. The car will be available in Europe from the spring.
Exhaust: You’ve got to admire Mazda’s determination to do things differently, even if it’s taken far more time than planned. The MX-30 was designed to have the rotary range extender right from the start, but getting it to run efficiently and cleanly obviously wasn’t a simple task. Now that they’ve finally got it functioning dare we hope that more exciting developments will follow? —Nik Berg
GridLife announces 2023 schedule
Intake: GridLife, a club racing sanctioning body notorious for epic festivals and excellent competition, recently unveiled its 2023 season schedule. Unlike past years, the 12-race slate is divided into two six-date sub-schedules — GridLife Festival Tour and GridLife Club Weekends. According to the group, the Festival Tour will feature “an elevated fan and spectator experience,” as well as GridLife Touring Cup points races and a live broadcast. Club Weekends, on the other hand, are more of your typical club racing dates, with a focus on track time and paddock experience for drivers. The first-ever GridLife was held at Michigan’s Gingerman Raceway in 2014. Since then, the schedule has ballooned to its current form. Gridlifers will, once again, return to the track that started it all. This year, though, the group will blow into western Michigan twice, with a Club Weekend date and a Festival Tour date a couple weeks later. West Coast fans of the festival-style events, which feature full-track exhibition drifting, will enjoy the new addition of Laguna Seca to the calendar. The entire schedule is here.
Exhaust: Corkscrew? Drift cars? The Laguna Seca date promises to be raucous. Last year, I attended my first GridLife festival at Gingerman and was blown away by the enthusiasm and authenticity. Anyone who has ever doubted automotive enthusiasm’s future should attend any of these events. When we interviewed founder Chris Stewart last year, he touched on the group’s ability to scale up while maintaining the authentic, inclusive environment that they set out to create with their shows. This year’s increased festival presence and expansion to new venues will require more of this care. No doubt, the GridLife crew is up to the task. After successfully spooling a Midwest meet of angle-parked Hondas into a schedule of multi-day festivals and race weekends, a few new changes in 2023 should be another day in the ’Life. —Cameron Neveu
Chip shortage still cutting into 2023 auto production
Intake: It may feel like life is normal again, but the microchip shortage remains, with AutoForecast Solutions estimating that 2.7 million vehicles globally should be cut from production estimates due to the chip shortage, with over 900,000 of those vehicles being North American products. Automotive News says 2022 finished with nearly 4.4 million production cuts related to the chip shortage. In 2021, more than 10.5 million vehicles were lost.
Exhaust: That number doesn’t count the already-built vehicles that are waiting for chips, and expect to get them by the end of 2023. —SCS