Designer of Ferrari’s Enzo surprises with new concept, aero kit for U.S. 911 GT3s, a Cummins in a Chevy?
Ferrari Enzo designer unveils Maserati-inspired bare-bones “Birdcage”
Intake: Ken Okuyama, the Japanese designer who headed up Pininfarina when it imagined the Enzo for Ferrari, has revealed a wild two-seater barchetta. The Kode61 Birdcage is inspired by its namesake, the Maserati Tipo 61, and follows a trend of utterly open supercars such as the McLaren Elva, the Aston Martin V-12 Speedster, and Ferrari’s SP1 and SP2 Monzas. The Kode61’s minimalist bodywork is a breathtaking mix of swooping curves and harder angles that evokes a retro spirit with state-of-the-art styling. The cabin continues the theme, mixing pristine polished metal, a proper gated manual transmission, and lightweight carbon fiber sports seats. High-mounted twin tailpipes confirm that the Kode61 is powered by internal combustion, but exactly what underpins this car has not yet been confirmed.
Exhaust: Okuyama is the first Japanese coachbuilder to be nominated in the concept car category at the prestigious Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este where the Kode61 was officially unveiled. However, it’s more than just a show car; the Kode61 is said to be headed for very limited production. If we’re speculating, the wheels and the mid-engine proportions seem to hint that Maserati’s MC20 underpins this marvel. The brand tie-in would certainly make sense. — Nik Berg
Manthey Performance kit for 911 GT3 reaches U.S. shores
Intake: At long last, the Manthey Performance kit for the Porsche 911 GT3 will finally be offered stateside. Last year a 992-generation 911 GT3 equipped with this package was able to turn a 6:55.737 lap time around the Nürburgring Nordschleife—a whopping 4.19 seconds faster than a stock 911 GT3. The kit focuses on improvements to the aerodynamics of the GT3, as well as some chassis adjustments. Upgraded aero components include an improved front spoiler and side flaps, underbody panels, a more dramatic rear diffuser, and a wider rear wing. On the chassis side, the kit features four-way coilover suspension that can be adjusted without tools, and modified spring rates (10 percent stiffer up front, 7 percent softer in the rear). Optional components include upgraded brake pads as well as lighter forged wheels that reduce unsprung mass by around 16 lbs. Those rear wheels get extremely cool-looking aerodiscs to help increase aerodynamic efficiency.
Exhaust: Manthey’s kit won’t void the manufacturer’s warranty on your GT3, which is perhaps the best part. That said, it’s not cheap—at all. With installation, the new kit costs $57,300; tack on another $15,500 if you want those sweet aerodisc-infused wheels. With the Manthey kit, the 911 GT3 is only a little more than 6 seconds shy of the ultra hardcore 911 GT3 RS‘ lap time (6:49.328) around the Nordschleife. Then again, that one costs a hair over $225,000, and by the time you add up the cost of a 911 GT3 ($163,750) plus the kit with the wheels ($72,800) you’re well into GT3 RS territory. Choose wisely. — Nathan Petroelje
Cummins-powered Colorado wins Charlotte stop of Hot Wheels Legends Tour
Intake: The winner for the Charlotte, North Carolina stop on the Mattel Hot Wheels Legend Tour was built by Tim McDonald of Monroe, North Carolina: It’s the 2015 Chevy Colorado, “Kymera,” which was made for rock crawling. McDonald spent more than a year building this Dino truck, which features a 12-valve Cummins twin-turbo diesel engine, independent all-wheel steer, MRAP axles, and a Baja-style suspension with Fox coilovers and triple bypass shocks.
Exhaust: The Hot Wheels Legends Tour covers the U.S looking for an especially wild custom vehicle that will be made into a Hot Wheels car. Here’s the rest of the Tour: May 27, Atlanta, Georgia; June 10, Detroit, Michigan; June 24, Chicago, Illinois; July 8, Houston, Texas; September 9, Dallas, Texas; September 23, Phoenix, Arizona; October 7, El Segundo, California. The finale will be livestreamed on November 11. — Steven Cole Smith
Hyundai eyes a solar panel-infused tonneau cover
Intake: Hyundai has entered into a “formal agreement” with Worksport to configure a version of their solar-powered tonneau cover and power bank to work in the unique bed design of their Santa Cruz truck. Worksport’s SOLIS cover and COR power bank are currently accepting reservations, but they do offer conventional vinyl-clad tonneaus for multiple applications. Pricing and availability are not currently available, but the press release had something interesting, as the two companies are also partnering on a “yet to be announced vehicle” that we might learn more about in October.
Exhaust: Could Worksport be making the modern equivalent of a jerrycan? Electric vehicles are the future of our truck-intensive country, so offering a tonneau cover that does more than just protect bed contents from the elements is a fine idea. Solar panels provide free energy for those who travel with battery-powered tools, and they might even recharge a stranded EV. — Sajeev Mehta
Are car prices the reason for inflation?
Intake: In a story titled “Why is inflation so stubborn? Cars are part of the answer,” The New York Times partially blames car prices that went up during the pandemic and the attendant parts shortages, but haven’t come down after the shortages were remedied. “Instead, prices for new cars have risen further. Domestic automakers are still producing fewer cars and focusing on more profitable luxury models. Used car prices helped to lower overall inflation late last year but rebounded in April as short supply collided with a surge in demand,” the story said. “Car prices have proven to be uncomfortably sticky. Used car prices have declined, but in a more muted—and volatile—fashion than economists expected. And new cars are becoming increasingly expensive this year as manufacturers try to maintain established margins in 2021. ‘Now the big question is: Are companies going to start competing with each other on price?’” asked Blerina Urushi, chief U.S. economist at T. Rowe Price.
Exhaust: The story makes a point, but you only have to watch a couple of hours of TV to see that automotive advertising has largely turned to pricing, as incentives continue to rise. Still, if people are willing to pay the price, what reason would manufacturers have to lower them? — SCS