High Five: Italdesign Automobili Speciali Unveils Its First Supercar

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Italdesign is bringing a new vehicle to the 2017 Geneva auto show, and this time, it doesn’t have “concept” attached to it—although, at only five planned units, it’s almost as unattainable as a concept car. The currently nameless V-10–powered, mid-engined supercar is the first release from Italdesign Automobili Speciali, the famed design firm’s recently announced ultra-limited-edition division.

Co-founded by Giorgietto Giugiaro, who designed classics such as the Maserati Ghibli and the BMW M1, the Italian companh is now part of the Audi Group. The new specialty division intends to build limited-run cars (of fewer than 100 units) both under its own name and as a supplier to other automakers.

The vehicle seen here is the first example. It uses a modular chassis made of carbon fiber and aluminum, and the body is entirely carbon fiber to save weight. Under the hood is a 5.2-liter V-10 that Italdesign claims can shoot the car from zero to 62 mph in 3.2 seconds and on to at least 205 mph. It measures 190.8 inches long, just ahead of the 188.9-inch 2017 Lamborghini Aventador S, but it is 2.3 inches narrower, at 77.6 inches, and 2.7 inches taller, at 47.4 inches, than the Aventador S.

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Although Italdesign did not say so, it’s likely that this machine is loosely based on the Lamborghini Huracán and Audi R8 siblings. Italdesign did acknowledge that it has access to the carbon-and-aluminum chassis and 5.2-liter V-10 engines found in both the R8 and the Huracán.

The company says the exterior design is faithful to the traditional idea of an Italian gran turismo car while also prioritizing aerodynamic proficiency. That explains why it has fins, scoops, wings, vents, flicks, splitters, diffusers, and just about every other aero element stuck to its body.

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Italdesign Automobili Speciali’s car number one will make its public debut at Geneva in March. The price is $1.6 million. If buyers choose, the car can be further customized with finishing and performance packages at additional cost. Italdesign Automobili Speciali is also debuting its logo at the show, which it said was inspired by the symbol of the city of Turin, the company’s Italian headquarters.

italdesign_automobili2017 Geneva Auto Show Full Coverage

Pushing Dope: We Test a V-8–Swapped ND Miata!

2016 Flyin' Miata Habu MX-5 Miata

Perversion is the essence of American culture. It’s taking something built for one purpose and supercharging the designers’ original intent, often literally. It’s a 1953 Studebaker Champion that goes 249 mph, or a 1975 Ford F-250 with flotation tires that crosses rivers and crushes cars. It’s taking a small country’s agrarian, 18th-century constitution and growing an industrial, transcontinental 21st-century superpower under it. So here, in the tradition of land-speed-record Studes, the Bigfoot monster truck, and ­Marbury v. Madison, comes Flyin’ Miata’s 2016 MX-5 with a stonkin’ V-8 in its nose. READ MORE ››

Long-Buried Jeep Pulled from Garage after 40 Years [Video]

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A Jeep buried in sand in Massachusetts 40 years ago finally has been dug out. Work crews late last week pulled out the rusted remnants of what John Munsnuff says was once his family’s “beach buggy” at the home they’ve long owned near Ballston Beach in Cape Cod.

The Jeep had once been painted white with a green interior. It had been stored in a garage that was long ago buried by shifting sand dunes.

Munsnuff says the family was unable to remove the Jeep or dismantle the now-collapsed garage for so many years because of environmental regulations around the dunes, which also have swallowed up parts of a nearby public parking lot.

Munsnuff says he snagged a few souvenirs from the barely recognizable wreckage, including the Jeep’s hub caps and door handles. Watch the Jeep get unearthed below:

Escape to Baja: Three Blissed-Out Days Touring Mexico on a Harley-Davidson

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Germans. It was always Germans. Germans on Harleys in the desert. A platoon of friendly dudes taking a break from the Fatherland to explore the arid expanses of the American Southwest on big old Yankee bikes, V-twins shimmering in the heat. To a man, they’d be swaddled in EagleRider jackets. They’d come over, rent bikes from the company, maybe take a guided tour up Route 66. Hang out with donkeys in Oatman, Arizona, and see the Grand Canyon. For them, it’s like a foot-to-the-floor autobahn run in a Porsche 911 Turbo would be to an American. But EagleRider doesn’t just run tours of the dry, empty corners of America. They’ve got guides and locations dotting the globe. So when they asked if I wanted to go for a ride down the Pacific Coast, I asked, “What about Baja?”

EagleRider Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Limited

I grew up on Highway 1: traveled every inch from Leggett down to Dana Point. Summer vacations in Fort Bragg, quick getaways to Bodega Bay or Santa Cruz. The yearly automotive bacchanal at Pebble Beach; PCH as a route to LAX and south to Orange County when I lived in San Pedro. I love 1, but 1 is mine any time I have a free day and the inclination to see the ocean. So we went to Mexico, somewhere I’d never been, despite having resided my entire life within a day’s drive of the border.

Since EagleRider offers a selection of motorcycles biased heavily in favor of American iron, I went as heavy and American as I could get, choosing a Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited, a loaded version of Harley’s classic Electra Glide touring bike, 904 pounds of the Motor Company’s classic touring setup. Batwing fairing, 103-cubic-inch twin-cam pushrod V-twin with a couple of radiators discreetly tucked into the fairing lowers, side cases, and a capacious top trunk with a rack. Indian’s recent entry into the heavy-touring segment, the Roadmaster, is flashier—simultaneously more modern and more baroque—but the Hog is an institution.

After a night at La Jolla’s Lodge at Torrey Pines, we picked up our bikes at EagleRider’s San Diego location, which doubles as an Indian dealership, and rumbled down I-5 to the border, winding through the Mexican checkpoint maze without much more than a glance from the guards. Free, we trundled south to Rosarito for coffee and pastries. EagleRider’s excitable CEO, Chris McIntyre, was bopping around, wide-eyed and thrilled, backslapping and high-fiving. We sat by a midmorning campfire on a cliff and sipped bottled water and excellent joe. I could’ve spent the rest of the day right there, staring out at the still, aquamarine expanse of the sea.

Rosarito, Baja California

Back on the bikes, we wound our way inland. The storms that have spent the winter pummeling California have zero regard for international borders. Therefore, the lush-seeming hills were probably about as verdant as they ever get. The pace set by the guides was reasonable, none of the other riders felt compelled to hot-dog, and I was starting to feel really comfortable with the big Harley. It doesn’t have a Honda Gold Wing’s low-speed stability or take a set in high-speed corners quite like Moto Guzzi’s off-the-wall MGX-21 bagger, but there’s a sense on the Electra Glide that you’re riding a damn motorcycle that’s impossible to discount.

We parked the bikes in a dirt turnout and traveled by van and Jeep up a dirt road to La Estancia, a middle-of-nowhere rancho that apparently booms on the weekend. Lunch was lazy and delicious; the subsequent ride to Ensenada was a blissed-out, leisurely ramble.

Cigarette Machine, La Estancia

We wandered Ensenada after dinner. It was the off season; the town was quiet, the weather temperate. Kyra Sacdalan and Justin Coffey, a professional moto-adventure couple and veterans of the peninsula, showed us the starting line of the Baja 1000, then took us to the capacious Papas & Beer, which was utterly devoid of people, followed by a bar down the street where it’s claimed the margarita was invented. Hussong’s wasn’t exactly hopping, but there was enough of a crowd to keep the mariachi bands circulating. A group set up next to our table. The guitarist had a little solid-state Peavey amp with an old Metal Zone distortion pedal zip-tied to the handle. A motorcycle battery supplied the power. The bass player’s upright instrument was made of unfinished plywood. The drummer had a snare, a couple of cowbells, and a crash cymbal. McIntyre overeagerly called for Pink Floyd. I cringed a little. I felt like a gringo.

They launched into a shockingly great rendition of “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2).” A man came around with a pair of electrified metal tubes. The goal was to hold on as long as possible without saying “Uncle” as he increased the power. I tapped out quickly. We dropped our peanut shells on the floor. Creedence. Santana. The drummer was slaying; the guitarist was wailing; the bassist twirled the high holy hell out of his thunderbox. These guys, without a doubt, were the most fantastic bar band I’d ever seen. I stepped out for a cigarette and remembered that the late Brock Yates had been arrested outside Hussong’s for relieving himself against the wall back in 1983. We departed in cabs for the hotel. A lone federale watched us go.

Chris McIntyre, Todd Williams

In the morning, we walked down to the marina and boarded a cabin cruiser to catch some fish and watch for whales. Photographer Todd Williams and EagleRider chief administrative officer Jeff Brown seemed to snag the majority of the yellowtail, the reeling in of which caused a great congregation of looky-loos each time. I gazed back toward the city from the ocean, wondering where in all that haze the Fender guitar factory was. Of all the guitars I own, a humble Ensenada-built Stratocaster is one of my favorites. It felt good to understand where it came from.

BMW R1200 GS

On our return to dry land, we hopped on the bikes, paused to wolf down some phenomenal tacos, and then made for the Valle de Guadalupe, the heart of Baja’s wine industry. Our hotel stood up a two-mile dirt road that EagleRider VP of Experience Shawn Fechter described as “pretty gnarly.” I didn’t love the hefty Harley’s behavior on dirt and gravel, so I tucked in behind Kyra and followed her line through the ruts and pits, at one point power-walking the lumbering Electra Glide within what felt like inches of an inconsiderate first-gen Honda Pilot driver, goosing the throttle and feathering the clutch to keep the bike from sliding down a silty incline into the oxidized ute. McIntyre and Justin Coffey, on the other hand, came tearing down the road, the CEO standing on the floorboards of his Harley bagger, thwacking the pipes on the ragged, undulating ground while Justin used his BMW R1200GS adventure bike in the manner the Bavarians intended.

EagleRider Baja Tour

After dinner, we gathered around an expertly constructed campfire. Fechter produced a cheapo nylon-string guitar. He kept handing me the thing. I’d noodle on it while folks talked. I quietly played the Minutemen’s “Corona” to myself, because if you’re a punker of a certain age in Mexico and somebody gives you a guitar, you’re honor bound to play “Corona,” D. Boon’s poignant sketch of honky guilt on a Baja beach. I handed the guitar back to Fechter. He played “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and a sweet little original about a video-store clerk he once knew who appeared to subsist entirely on chicharrón. He passed the guitar to another musically inclined writer and then back to me. I was at a loss. I knew nobody at a campfire wanted to hear “In a Free Land” or “Clash City Rockers.” Idea! I whanged the two-chord D-E riff and started singing, “Generals gathered in their masses . . . ”

Everybody joined in, “Just like witches at black masses…”

When in doubt, play Sabbath. A couple who’d joined our party were so inexplicably enthralled by the haphazard performance that the man called me weird and, in the next breath, suggested that he’d considered surrendering his lady friend to me for the night. Bemused, tired, and fresh out of songs, I retired to bed alone, lungs full of wood and tobacco smoke. As I drifted off, it occurred to me that I’d forgotten to play “N.I.B.



The next morning took us to over the increasingly dry hills to Tecate and the U.S. border. There’s something claustrophobic and hard about Tecate; I didn’t care for it as much as Rosarito, Ensenada, or the quiet rolling of the Valle de Guadalupe. But the man at the ice-cream store was friendly, and his cool treats were welcome. At the border, Customs and Border Protection treated us suspiciously; par for the course. Welcome back to America. I turned to Coffey and asked, “Justin, why do I feel less free now that we’re back home?”

“Because you are.”

The night before, the man who’d contemplated offering me his companion—he was a stockbroker type visiting the Valle for the weekend—called Baja “the land of personal responsibility,” noting that the steps are often uneven. That you tread at your own risk. EagleRider’s guides make all of that a lot easier for Baja novices. And if the tour is all-inclusive and tightly scheduled, it also takes you to spots you’d struggle to find on your own with an entire free month on your hands. As somebody who prefers riding solo and finding his own way, I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed the experience. In fact, I had a hard time wiping a smile off my face during the entirety of my time in Mexico. Those desert-traversing Germans? They’re clearly on to something.

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Basic Instinct, Basic Self-Driving Concept Car: Peugeot Instinct Predicts the Future, in French

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“Ever dreamed of owning a car that offers complete peace of mind with full awareness of its surroundings?” That slightly unsettling praise comes from Peugeot, referring to its own Instinct plug-in-hybrid concept car, which is headed for a Geneva auto show debut in March. Besides implying sentience on the part of the Instinct—after all, the thing’s name is “Instinct”—Peugeot also suggests that the concept car is the cure for many ills. Do you seek a vehicle that “understands you, that knows you so well that it can foresee your every wish”? We’d be lucky to find a partner so in tune with our senses.

The awareness that the automaker refers to can be boiled down to its combination of self-driving hardware and its integration into the Internet of Things cloud ecosystem. Self-driving concept cars are in vogue, as are connected cars that do things such as turning on the smart lights in your home as you approach. The Instinct can do both, thanks both to sensors and cameras fitted to its headlights and Samsung’s Artik cloud ecosystem. The car also can determine if the driver is tired or in a mood to relax and switch itself to autonomous mode. In such a case, the steering wheel folds itself into the dashboard and the pedals retract into the footwell. More novel are the driving modes Peugeot cooked up for the self-driving feature, with both Soft and Sharp settings. Guess which one is more likely to make occupants carsick?

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Via a 9.7-inch touchscreen on the center console, the driver may choose between the modes and can even direct the Instinct to pass other traffic. Its holographic display can show information regarding speed and battery level as well as distance and time-to-destination countdowns. As Peugeot points out, “With the driver now able to relax” in autonomous mode, “time is the only notion that really counts!”

Outwardly, the Instinct still resembles a car, albeit an appropriately strange French one. Peugeot packs plenty of strangeness into the Instinct’s compact shooting-brake body, even adorning the door panels with (thin) concrete trim. The grille appears different when viewed from different angles, and the headlights and an aerodynamic band stretching between them expand at speeds above 55 mph (this also opens up slots in the grille for better airflow over the body). There are a few normal features, too, including four wheels, a pair of selectable drive modes—Boost and Relax—for when the driver is doing the driving, and a 300-hp plug-in-hybrid powertrain.

Now sit back, relax, and wait for self-driving cars to become a thing—and hope their only “instincts” pertain to avoiding accidents and don’t extend to subjugating the human race.

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2017 Geneva Auto Show Full Coverage

Norway Looks to Eliminate Gas and Diesel Auto Sales by 2025 with EV and Plug-In Incentives

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While Donald Trump is making plans for drastic funding cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) here in the United States, other countries are ramping up the fight against vehicle emissions. Norway, already in the vanguard, recently announced a new goal in its effort to reduce the use of fossil fuels in cars. By 2025, the Norwegian government said it hopes to see 100 percent of new-car sales come from zero- or low-emission vehicles. The country’s government plans to achieve this through a tax plan, not a ban.

According to the release from the Norwegian EV Association, electric vehicles took 22 percent of the market in Norway in 2015 (for comparison, they currently make up only about 0.5 percent of U.S. vehicle sales). This impressive number is largely due to incentives the country has been doling out as far back as 1990 that include discounts on taxes (including exemption from a 25 percent VAT purchase tax), access to bus lanes, free parking, and exemption from tolls. Norway wants to continue pushing this directive with a “polluter pays” principle that incentivizes buying an electric, hydrogen, or plug-in hybrid automobile instead of a gasoline or diesel vehicle. Basically, gasoline or diesel vehicles would be taxed much more heavily than zero- or low-emission cars. With this tax system, the country believes eliminating sales of traditional gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles is possible in as little as eight years.

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This bolsters Norway’s participation in what’s known as the International Zero-Emission Vehicle Alliance, which includes five countries (Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Norway, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Quebec) that have already set ambitious emissions goals. All five say their goal is to have every passenger vehicle be a ZEV by 2050.

In order to deal with this drastic uptick in electric vehicles on the road, Norway will need to beef up its network of charging stations quickly. If the country is going to fall in line with the recommendation from the European Commission’s Clean Power for Transport strategy—one charging station for every 10 EVs—Norway would need about 25,000 public electric-vehicle charging ports by 2020. There were only 1350 in 2015, so there’s plenty of work to be done. Parliament also has a program in place to put in place at least two fast-charging stations per 31 miles on all major roads by the end of the year.

These plans and goals are, of course, highly ambitious, but it’s probably what it will take to achieve the seismic shift Norway is looking for.