Jeep preps for Easter, 4×4-style; you could own Ricky Bobby’s mansion; 215-mph Challenger?
Jeep fans, get ready for fun factory builds
Intake: As it does every spring, Jeep is kitting out a bunch of its own models for an off-road party in Utah. The factory’s goal: To support the year’s biggest Jeep party, called Easter Jeep Safari (EJS, for short). Running from April 1 through April 9, 2023, and held in the off-roading, red-rock mecca of Moab the event is organized by a local club called Red Rock 4-Wheelers Inc. (To its everlasting credit, Jeep refuses to buy out the event.) It’s an opportunity for Jeep to test some ideas for future vehicles on its most loyal fans. Frequently, the concepts brought by Jeep to EJS reach production: The Rubicon 20th Anniversary concept shown last spring prototyped 37-inch tires on the V-8-powered Wrangler, a combination that Jeep announced for production—albeit limited—in February. What’s in store for 2023? Judging by these teaser photos, another short-bed Gladiator pickup, and a Wrangler Rubicon wearing a bunch of Jeep Performance Parts bits and skeleton doors.
Exhaust: Since Jeep brought a similarly abbreviated Gladiator, aptly named Bob, to EJS last year, logic holds that something else is new about this one. Powertrain, perhaps—2022’s was based on the diesel model, and Jeep’s promised the plug-in hybrid “4xe” driveline will come to the pickup in 2024. Or maybe the news is the rubber: The tallest tires fitted to the Gladiator by the factory are just under 33 inches (285/70R17), so perhaps Jeep’s teasing a 35-inch “Xtreme Recon” package. —Grace Houghton
Kia recalling K5s for airbag issue
Intake: Kia is recalling more than 188,000 K5 midsize sedans—that’s the model formerly known as the Optima—in the U.S. over side-curtain airbags that were installed incorrectly, causing them to possibly not deploy properly in a crash. The recall covers certain 2021–3 K5s. No injuries have been reported as a result of the defect, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Exhaust: Kia became aware of the defect while investigating the steering assist after a crash involving a 2021 K5. During the inspection, the engineer noticed the driver’s side-curtain airbag may not have deployed properly. An investigation of products from Kia’s Georgia plant confirmed the airbags may have been installed improperly. Letters to vehicle owners are expected to be mailed by April 7. Dealers will inspect and reinstall the side-curtain airbags as necessary, NHTSA said. —Steven Cole Smith
Ricky Bobby’s mansion is on the market
Intake: Hopefully you’ve seen the greatest NASCAR movie ever made—Talladega Nights—and marveled at the lovely mansion where Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) lived with his equally lovely family. Now you can own the North Carolina mansion used in the production for a bargain price of $9.9 million. (We note that just five years ago, it sold for $4.2 million, so maybe there’s some room for negotiation.) It’s 12,000 square feet, has three stories, and probably still smells like leather jackets. Check it out at the Daily Mail.
Exhaust: There’s a prayer chapel with pews. What more could you want? —SCS
Another F1 champ to try NASCAR
Intake: The 2009 Formula 1 champion, Jenson Button, will make his NASCAR debut March 26 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, with at least two more NASCAR road races on his schedule—the Chicago street race in July, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway race in August. Button, who will drive a special-entry Chevrolet Camaro for NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports with seven-time NASCAR Cup champ Jimmie Johnson at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be driving a Ford Mustang from the Stewart-Haas stable in the three NASCAR races.
Exhaust: Button said in a TV interview that if the road races go well, he’d consider trying a NASCAR oval at some point. The British race car driver is 43. —SCS
Who will answer the rallying cry for this ex–Pat Moss Austin-Healey?
Intake: The Austin Healey 3000 driven to a famous victory by Pat “Mossie” Moss in the 1960 Liege-Rome-Liege Rally could be yours. Stirling’s speedy sister and her co-driver Ann “Wizz” Wisdom became the first all-woman crew to win the grueling event. The 2200-mile route saw the duo blast across the borders Germany, Austria, Italy, and Yugoslavia during an exhausting 96 hours of almost nonstop driving. The event was so tough, in fact, that just 13 cars of the 90 that entered, made the finish, but in a publicity coup for the British marque, the top three were all Austin-Healeys. Mossie and Wizz had been racing together since 1955 but 1960 was their finest season. They won the Ladies’ Prize at Monte Carlo and Geneva, took a class win in the Tulip and Alpine rallies, and together took home the Driver of the Year Award. Moss bought the car the following year for £500 but it since exchanged hands several times. After a thorough restoration in the car’s later life, Moss and Wizz were reunited with the car and signed its roof. The heroic Healey will be the star of Bonham’s Goodwood Members’ Meeting auction on April 16.
Exhaust: Bonham’s estimates that the Healey will rally to £350,00–£450,000 ($425,000–$547,000). A #1 (Concours) condition road car of the same vintage is worth just $92,100 according the Hagerty Price Guide, but what price can you put on history? —Nik Berg
Motorcycles can drop it low, too
Intake: Daytona Bike Week brings out some of the wildest custom motorcycles from some of the most talented builders. One such builder is Fred Kodlin, who built a wild custom BMW R 18 in concert with his son Len. The already low and long R 18 got even more extreme thanks to the father and son team making drastic changes to lower its gas tank, seat, and steering neck. Add in custom air suspension, and when this bike is parked there is not much that recalls the factory BMW Motorrad creation (below) at first glance. While extreme for most tastes, from the paint to the stance, this bike has what it takes to stand out from the crowd at Daytona Bike Week.
Exhaust: Interestingly, there are a surprising amount of factory parts hidden under that custom paint to make the whole bike feel cohesive. The brake calipers, gearshift and foot-brake levers, and footrests are all the factory pieces, meaning that BMW must have done something right if customizers with as much vision as the Kodlins did not feel the need to do anything more than change the color … though they did decide to re-engineer the frame. —Kyle Smith
Will Dodge’s ultimate Challenger go 215 mph?
Intake: Dodge has dropped the third “Last Call” teaser video, this one titled “Scream @ 215 mph,” suggesting the ultimate Challenger that debuts in Las Vegas goes 215 mph. Right? Unless it means something else. It has the evil Demon blowing into a handheld anemometer, which measures air speed, and coming up with a reading of 1582, possibly the intake rate of the supercharger. Right? Maybe. We’ll know March 20. We will have the fourth and final teaser video tomorrow.
Exhaust: Other manufacturers could take a low-budget lesson on how to generate buzz around your product from Dodge. Of course, it helps if your product goes 215 mph. —SCS