Audi’s push-button pickup, mad prices at motorcycle auction, Acura to show Integra Type S (sort of)


Audi’s latest concept goes from crossover to truck with the push of a button

Intake: What a bizarre and intriguing concept to come from such an unexpected source. This is the fourth concept in a series of four from Audi, and it’s called the Activesphere. A “four-door crossover coupé with an astonishingly versatile body design is now making its debut.” The “highly elegant car is more than a mere luxury-class sports car,” as the Sportback rear of the Activesphere “can turn into an open cargo bed  at the touch of a button, perfect for carrying recreational equipment such as e-bikes or water and winter sports gear.” In other words, press a button and it’s a pickup truck.  It’s a U.S. creation, conceived at the Audi Design Studio in Malibu, California. Studio manager Gael Buzyn and his team are the creative minds behind the project. The idea: “The Activesphere is unique. It is a new type of crossover that cleverly combines the elegance of an Audi Sportback, the practicality of a SUV and true offroad capabilities,” if he does say so himself.

Exhaust: It’s electric, of course, and we’ll never see such a vehicle from Audi, but Subaru could maybe pull it off. Still, says Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Audi Board of Management for Technical Development: “As a perfect all-rounder, the Audi Activesphere concept is ideally suited for the high demands of a future-oriented generation of Audi customers – people for whom individual mobility and sustainability are not mutually exclusive. “ —Steven Cole Smith

Colin Chapman’s own Lotus Elan could be yours

Colin Chapmans Lotus Elan +2
Silverstone Auctions

Intake: A 1972 Elan +2 owned by Lotus founder Colin Chapman will go to auction in the U.K. in February. The car is finished in its original Tawny paintwork with a contrasting silver roof and an oatmeal vinyl interior, while the dashboard is a single piece of walnut veneer. When the Elan +2 was launched in 1967 its job was to move Lotus upmarket and perhaps even tempt buyers away from the likes of Jaguar. For that reason, it was the first Lotus not also offered in kit form for DIY mechanics to assemble. Although it was larger in every dimension than the original Elan, the +2 stuck to its founder’s lightweight principles and remained an agile, entertaining drive, just with a dash of luxury never previously available. Chapman drove the car for its first 6,600 miles and it then spent many years at the Lotus museum before being sold into private hands. Less than 400 miles have been added since and the car still wears its original Dunlop SP tires. For sale at Silverstone Auctions on February 25 it is estimated to fetch £60,000–£70,000 ($74,000–$86,500) and joins seven other celebrity Elans on the block whose previous owners include Peter Sellers, Jochen Rindt, and Rob Walker, as well as the car driven by Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in The Avengers.

Exhaust: Despite its importance in repositioning the Lotus brand the Elan +2 has never quite had the same appeal to collectors as the two-seater S1. The Hagerty valuation guide shows that a #1 Concours S1 would be worth $54,600 while a +2 in equivalent condition would fetch $10,000 less. Being owned by Chapman himself this car will, no doubt, buck the trend. — Nik Berg

Ford recalls 462,000 SUVs for rearview camera issues

Ford Explorer Timberline front three-quarter
Matt Tierney

Intake: Ford is recalling more than 462,000 SUVs globally for rearview cameras that may be defective. The recall involves Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator SUVs from the 2020–23 model years and Lincoln Corsairs from 2020–22, all of them equipped with a 360-degree camera. The recall covers almost 383,000 vehicles in the U.S. Ford said it is aware of 17 minor accidents that may have resulted from the defect. The video output of the cameras may fail, preventing the rearview camera image from displaying and increasing the risk of a crash while in reverse, according to a recall report submitted Monday to NHTSA.

Exhaust: Ford really doesn’t need any more recalls, but fortunately this is a minor one, and apparently can be fixed with a software update. — SCS

Public Citizen is still mad at Toyota

New Prius Prototype mustard gold front three-quarter

Intake: Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen advocacy group has been openly protesting Toyota and its chairman, Akio Toyoda, since Toyoda said we should pump the brakes a bit before we push everyone into electric vehicles prematurely. They picketed the Washington, D.C. auto show where Toyota was showing the new Prius, claiming that Toyota, almost criminally, should have made it all-electric, calling the new car “a monument to pollution and stagnation.” Now that Toyoda has said he will step aside from the CEO job in April, Public Citizen is still at it. Says Deanna Noel, climate campaign project manager, about Toyoda’s replacement, Koji Sato: “This change of leadership appears to signal Toyota knows it’s far behind on EVs and must rush to remake itself… Along with committing to a 100 percent ZEV future, Mr. Sato must reverse Toyota’s anti-climate lobbying and commit the company to clean up its supply chain and protect human rights. Without a clean, fossil free, and equitable supply chain, ZEVs will fall far short of meeting climate imperatives.”

Exhaust: No comment, aside from: Give it a rest.  — SCS

First days of Mecum Vegas motorcycle auction bring shocking prices

Intake: The Mecum Las Vegas motorcycle auction is the largest motorcycle-specific auction and was primed to sell over 2000 bikes this year. The sales reports are just starting to cross our desk, and there are a few sales of note already: a 1973 Kawasaki Z1 900 sold for $55,000 (plus buyer’s premium), and a 1972 Honda CL350 equipped with the “Flying Dragon” dealer-installed gas tank and side panels netted $72,000. If sales like this are any indication, it is shaping up to be a wild year.

Exhaust: Prices that were shocking last year are being eclipsed by double or more in some cases this year. And that’s only Thursday of the auction week,” says Hagerty senior information analyst James Hewitt. That Z1 sale is $20,000 over the current #1-condition pricing, so the seller is likely quite happy to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Z1 model with a payday like that. The CL350 Flying Dragon is a truly odd instance as a #1 (Concours) Condition CL350 is $10,000 and the dealer-installed Flying Dragon parts can still be sourced NOS for prices in the $3000–5000 range. Since these were not factory parts, there is no way to tell the bike was originally sold with these wild-painted parts so it rarely bumps value in this significant way. — Kyle Smith

Integra Type S prototype will bow at Daytona

Intake: Acura will debut a camouflaged version of the forthcoming Integra Type S at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona this weekend. The car will be wearing a special camouflage wrap and will be in the paddock the entire weekend, also serving as the lead car for the start of the race. The Integra Type S will be powered by a larger four-cylinder engine than the standard car (2.0-liters vs. 1.5-liters) that Acura says will produce north of 300 horsepower. Expect a lot of the mechanical bits on the Type S to come from the new 2023 Honda Civic Type R. More details about the car will arrive closer to launch later this year.

Exhaust: If our time with the new Civic Type R is any indication, the Integra Type S should be an absolute riot to drive. We’re a little worried about pricing, however; The Civic Type R already clears $40,000, and there’s a real chance we might be looking at a $50,000 front-wheel-drive compact here. Still, it will be neat to see the car out in front of the packed field for this weekend’s endurance race. Let’s go racing! — Nathan Petroelje

Read next Up next: How many winged wonders is too many?


    I am all for protecting the environment, and developing more resource-efficient vehicles. But just where does Public Citizen think the electric power comes from, and where the batteries come from (and go to when used up)? I think the answer is hardly ‘zero-emission’. I think Toyota (and other hybrids) are a great step toward fuel-efficient and low-pollution vehicles and applaud them for making them available. Not everyone has access to charging stations, or wants to spend lengthy time charging during longer distance trips. In addition to power-grid infrastructure and generation issues, has Public Citizen considered the additional impact of the heavier vehicles on public roads, bridges, and parking structures?

    Well said. I’ve been driving Toyota hybrids since the early 2000s. Immediately doubled my gas mileage and consequently halved my emissions and I can travel any unconstrained distance as I did driving an ICE car Seems like the right thing to continue to do until the EV trend settles on a usable model.

    About the Audi concept, you say “It’s a U.S. creation, conceived at the Audi Design Studio in Malibu, California.” It is a U.S. creation, but it went into production 60 years ago with the sliding roof 1963 Studebaker Wagonaire.

    We owned one for five years. Still can’t get over how much fun it was. Go anywhere, do anything, and bring home the Christmas tree standing up.

    “Without a clean, fossil free, and equitable supply chain….” As soon as the equitable word comes out you know this nothing but a huge steaming pile of word salad. Public Citizen can stuff it up their tailpipes.

    Nice Audi vaporware. Electric? It would never get to the place they have it photoshopped in or if it did get back from it because their are no chargers in the wastelands of the world.

    Equitable means to take from one to give to another. Like the song says, “Let’s hang on to what we got” because they want to take it from you!!!

    I’d encourage you to take a moment to confirm you are correct before posting something that makes you look dumb. The definition of Equitable is “fair and impartial.” Not everything is a war, and not everyone is attacking each other like some people would have you believe.

    Thank you for giving the definition of “equitable”, if you read the post before responding you would have read that I used the term “mean” which has nothing to do with “definition” of equitable. Look up the definition of “mean” and you will understand according to Webster is “to have in the mind as a purpose : INTEND”. Sarcasm was intended in this case of their intent but if I offended your intelligence, I am sorry.

    “Without a clean, fossil free, and equitable supply chain…”

    Hagerty editors, please do not reprint anything from these gibberish-spouting idiots, lest you lend them a smidgen of credibility. You wouldn’t quote a 4-year-old that believes monster trucks are powered by unicorn farts, so why are you quoting people with even less intelligence?

    Akio Toyoda’s advice is don’t put all your eggs in one basket. He should not be blamed for that. Toyota is the most seriously involved company in hydrogen powered vehicles.

    Audi’s concept does not transform the car into a truck. It just just slide the lid of the trunk. It’s still a car.

    I have a 2013 street glide Harley Davidson. This motorcycle was won by me in 2013 from the Washington Redskins. It has signatures from the team included Dan Snyder the team owner. I wish I had known about the Las Vegas action. Is there one coming up on the East coast?

    The lines on the Audi… thing… are nice if you pretend it isn’t a 4-door with a pretend back seat (maybe a 9 year old out of booster seat could sit there without banging their head???).

    Yep, Studebaker did it first and better. Glad others mentioned it. The Audi concept seems less useful than a Subaru Brat or the newer trucklets so why bother? A bike rack on the back seems like a better option and tiny garden trailer would be more useful behind a Civic hatchback…


    Mr. Toyada, I have a feeling, will be looked back upon as a sincere voice of reason during an unreasonable time.

    Existing Toyota hybrids can do 90-99% of most people’s regular driving in EV mode already. They have a smaller carbon footprint being born than a pure EV. Guess it depends what planet a person is actually trying to save.

    So Public Citizen calls the Prius “a monument to pollution and stagnation” but has nothing to say about the millions of luxury trucks racing around everywhere? I’d sure like to know what their editors drive.

    And seventeen Ford SUV drivers saw no image from the rearview camera and thought “well that proves it, no need to turn my head, there’s nothing behind me….”

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