AC Cobra is back, Lexus GX teased, VW buses go racing—sort of

AC Cars

New AC Cobra GT roadster modernizes a ’60s icon

Intake: “Starting with a clean-sheet design, the AC Cobra GT Roadster is a cutting-edge modern sports car, produced using the latest technology and engineering processes, yet it remains faithful to the spirit of the AC Cobra of the 1960s,” says the company. The new roadster is the result of a multi-million-dollar investment sustained over nearly four years. Intended to be both beautiful and usable as a sports car, it “remains in a class of its own.” Just 250 GT Roadsters are expected to be built for worldwide markets every year, with the first year of production already allocated. The car is significantly larger than the original AC Cobra. It’s available with either a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter Ford V-8 or a supercharged version using the same modular engine, with the supercharged version making a 0-to-60 mph run in 3.4 seconds. A six-speed manual or a 10-speed automatic transmission is offered.

Exhaust: True to the original Cobra, it looks the part and it’s a fairly light car, weighing under 3,200 pounds. The debut was in England, where the company is located, but the car will be offered in left- and right-hand drive. No pricing information was given but the car is available for order here. — Steven Cole Smith

Hyundai, Kia sued by insurance companies

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

Intake: Nearly 70 companies that sell auto insurance are suing Hyundai and Kia, saying the widespread theft of vulnerable older Hyundai and Kia models not equipped with an anti-theft device could end up costing the U.S. insurance industry up to $600 million. Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, American Family, and 65 other auto insurers, which comprise only a fraction of the country’s insurance companies, estimate that just their portion of the payout to owners who have been affected by the social media-driven crime wave could top $300 million, says Automotive News.

Exhaust: The cars are the victims of the so-called Kia Challenge on TikTok, which details how easy it is to steal the older-model cars still equipped with a key ignition. The lawsuit said that just repairing broken windows and busted steering columns resulting from an attempt to break into a vehicle and hot-wire its ignition often costs an insurer more than $3,000. “Hyundai believes this litigation is unnecessary,” the automaker said.” A subset of Hyundai vehicles on the road in the U.S. today—primarily ‘base trim’ or entry-level models—are not equipped with push-button ignitions and immobilizing anti-theft devices. It is important to clarify that an engine immobilizer is an anti-theft device and these vehicles are fully compliant with federal anti-theft requirements.” – SCS

2024 Lexus GX keeps angular styling of larger LX sibling

Intake: Lexus released two teaser images of the 2024 GX SUV, which is expected to be revealed in full either late this year or early next. The GX slots just below the LX series in Lexus’ lineup, the smaller of the two body-on-frame SUVs offered by the luxury automaker. The front end looks similar to that of the new LX 600, with slim, angular headlamps and pronounced hood bulges. That blacked-out grille suggests that this model is wearing some sort of F-Sport package akin to the one found on the LX 600 that we tested last fall. Looks like the new GX will feature a rear lightbar that spans the full width of the hatch as well. The dust and grime in those pictures imply at least some off-road chops.

Exhaust: As the LX 600 did when it molted from the LX 570, expect the new GX (perhaps 500? 350?) to ditch its trusty V-8 engine for some sort of twin-turbo V-6. We’re also hopeful that the new model gets the same interior upgrade that the LX received; the outgoing model’s user interface was lacking, to put it mildly. — Nathan Petroelje

The Renndienst bus is back with a Buzz

Volkswagen ID Buzz Renndienst 2023

Intake: For two glorious decades from the 1950s to the 1970s Porsche’s factory race division was supported by Volkswagen’s iconic T1 and T2 vans, and now the Renndienst (race service) bus is back in business. Two VW ID. Buzz vans have been painted in the traditional dark red and liveried up just like their predecessors to support the German Porsche Carrera Cup Series. As far back as the 1954 Mille Miglia, VW buses were used to transport spare parts and mechanics, serving as workshops and mobile homes for the race crew and they’ll play the same role in 2023. “Like the Porsche race cars they accompanied, the red buses also achieved cult status. We are building on this and reviving the partnership in a very contemporary way: still dark red, but now also noticeably quiet – because they are electric,” says Lars Krause, Member of the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Board of Management for Sales and Marketing.

Exhaust: The VW ID. Buzz was already pretty cool, but this takes things to a whole new level. Do we sense a special edition coming soon?–Nik Berg

Volkswagen Renndienst

BMW Motorrad celebrates 100 years with new R 12 nineT

BMW R 12 nineT
Joerg Kuenste/BMW Motorrad

Intake: The RnineT is getting a special edition to celebrate the 100 years of BMW Motorrad. The new model is the R 12 nineT, which updates the model name to reflect the company’s current naming convention of including the engine size in the model name. This means it is the same 1200cc boxer twin in the frame, but this new model gets updated styling centered around a gas tank that is patterned after the BMW R32 from a century ago.

Exhaust: The RnineT is ten years old now and has aged wonderfully. After riding one recently we can say if you like the styling, you will likely enjoy the ride. With the proper mix of old-school and new-school, we expect this new R 12 nineT to age well too.  — Kyle Smith 




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    Does the original AC still exist as a company? Curious what separates this from say a Factory Five Cobra or some other Cobra clone. Interior does look nice.

    Curious where the Lexus GX is going to position itself versus the old one did to the LX.

    One of the things that struck me was “significantly larger than the original” – which also indicates some fairly large (no pun intended) separation from FF and other kit cars, which I believe are truer to original size specs. What I wish was stated was, “how much larger is significantly larger”? It might have good connotations, as the original car (especially in 427 trim) is notoriously squirrely when the throttle is stomped. But too much larger and it’d just ruin the overall look of the thing, IMO. Hard to tell in pics, as there is nothing to scale it against. But with only 250 per year being built – and what I imagine to be a correspondingly astronomical price – who am I kidding to even be wondering about these things? Maybe it’s school bus sized. Ain’t no way I’m ever gonna be parking one in MY driveway, so why should I care if its wheelbase is 110 inches or 230? 😛

    The rest of the car world needs to take a page from that AC, the minimal yet beautifully integrated infotainment system instead of a massive ugly screen dominating the dashboard. Well Done!

    As for the Hyundai/Kia issue, I side with Kia. While they did make a (in hindsight, poor) decision to use a cheap and easily defeated system on their cheap trim cars, the cars were fully compliant with all applicable laws at the time of their production, and other vehicles of the time used similar systems. Kia could not have predicted or controlled for, and is not responsible for, criminals creating a viral sensation (and they could have done it with a number of other vehicles that were vulnerable, it was Kia’s bad luck to be the chosen ones). The insurance companies should direct their ire towards those hooligans who have been caught, and at TikTok and other social media companies that allowed for the circulation of these viral videos unchecked when they encouraged criminal activity.

    Agreed. The insurance companies are upset because they might have to pay out on claims? Isn’t that why they exist? Seems to me that cars with higher risk might just require higher premiums – thus letting the market pressure on the OEMS from potential customers dictate changes. And TikTok is just a total mess, IMO, but then again, it’s what USERS put on social media that’s crazy…let alone what other people do with the info.

    No. They ONLY exist to make really big piles of money from dweebs who will pay it. You really didn’t think they we’re in business to insure you did you?

    Would be interesting to know whether the Buzz support vehicles have hot-rodded motors in the same way their rally-chasing brothers back in the ‘80s had their pancake fours replaced with Carrera flat-sixes.

    Next someone will want to sue the Big 3 for every car they ever mad w/out anti-theft devices, ’cause you can punch the ignition of any ’55 Chevy/Ford, etc. and steal it.
    Whey don’t they sue Tik-Tok and/or the posters of this s–t for promoting criminal activity? Oh, I know, because they can’t sue TikTok (Chinese company) and win, and the idiots doing this crap don’t have any money — cue Hyundai and Kia.

    Price of the new Cobra is stated as “Starting at 240,000.00 GBP”. I don’t even have to do any math to know my chances.

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