A biweekly roundup of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird:
The Viper is back
The Mustang is, arguably, the iconic American pony car. The Corvette is, unarguably, the iconic American supercar. The Viper? Well, that's the iconic American car for lunatics.
For a while, the doors had been shut on Arkham Asylum, with the last hurrah of the ACR Viper quietly posting up some superfast Nurburgring times that most folks ignored. Well, just try ignoring this.
An 8.4-litre V-10 engine pumping out 640 horsepower and 600 foot-pounds of torque. Enhanced torsional rigidity with extra bracing and available adaptive suspension packages. Carbon-fiber and aluminum construction, shaving precious kilos to make it the lightest Viper yet, with a power-to-weight ratio that's decimal points off the million-dollar Veyron, and trumps the mighty Corvette ZR-1.
And the interior's nicer too, with more luxurious accents and standard cruise control. Hmmm . . . doesn't say anything in this here press release about the seats being absorbent for when you wet yourself. I'm sure that's something they'll need to rectify.
World's largest tire manufacturer celebrates 50 years of production - Guess who?
Wrong. Never mind Pirelli or Michelin or General or Kirkland (would you buy tires from a company that makes toilet paper? Really?), the biggest tire manufacturer in the world is . . . Lego!
THE Viper is back after a short hiatus and with a V-10, 8.4-litre, 640 horsepower engine it is as crazy fast as ever.
Yes, it's the Danish toymaker - best known for brick-based interpretations of everything from Harry Potter to Star Wars - that celebrates fifty years of making tire and wheel packages, stretching back to a kit released in 1962. In the following years, the popularity of wheeled Lego has grown to the point that they pump out 380 million little black tires every year.
Naturally, this gives rise to the question: what if they made a full-size Lego tire? Personally, I feel like the traditional Lego bump pattern would make for one heck of a snow tire.
Audi developing electronic noise
Sigh. Used to be the sounds cars made were put out the old-fashioned way. The heavy rumble of a Hemi musclecar. The two-stroke raspberry of a Vespa scooter. The clattery racket of an aircooled Porsche flat-six.
But as we move into the electronic age, automakers are faced with a problem: electric vehicles are too quiet. Not only is this a problem for pedestrians, but when it comes to electrically powered sports cars, you lose some of that visceral thrill which comes with a great soundtrack.
That's why Audi is hard at work in trying to create an acoustic signature for their e-tron models (currently an EV concept based on the R8 supercar). It's no good having the thing go "pewpew-pew," it needs to sound like a TIE fighter or the Starship Enterprise going to Warp 9.
Justin Bieber chromes his Karma
In an attempt to appeal to a younger demographic, we report that Justin Bieber has bought a Fisker Karma and covered it in a chrome vinyl wrap. The Karma is ordinarily a very good-looking car.
Also, sometimes melodic tonal sounds combined with rhythmic beats are called "music."
Sometimes, neither one of these things is the case. Just sayin'.
Nissan competes in 24 Hours of Nürburgring with mostly stock GT-R
By now, we've all heard enough performance figures on Nissan's "Everyday Supercar" to realize that its Godzilla moniker is wellearned. It's hard to imagine a more comprehensively dominant car, and one that's so easy to drive, relatively speaking.
Ever the show-off, Nissan's decided that the best way to show that the GT-R is no fragile track special is to enter it in the gruelling 24 hours of Nürburgring, an endurance race at the very track where it continually dukes things out with the 911 turbo (and others) over who has the fastest time.
To call their entrant "stock" is pushing the definition a little. The entrant GT-R has a roll-cage, fuelcell, brake upgrades and enhanced aerodynamics, and also wider tires. Still, it's competing with a factory transmission and engine; if they can stand up to 24 hours of flat-out racing, they should be able to handle your commute.
The fall of a giant: Ferdinand Alexander Porsche passes away
All across the world, the roar of flat-sixes mark the passing of one of the most influential automotive icons of the last century. F.A. Porsche has died in Austria, aged 76.
Best known for his work in bringing about THE Porsche - the 911 - F.A. Porsche also had a hand in developing many of Porsche's classwinning racecars: the 804 F1 car and the 904 GTS. He also founded the Porsche Design brand, which now produces everything from kitchenware to racing shoes.
The 911 has just been released in its seventh generation, having grown in size and speed from that original hand-sculpted model that first bowed as the 901, in 1963. If you're lucky enough to own one of these special cars produced in the now-49year run, be it a GT3, Turbo, or even just a basic 912, a moment of silence please, for the man that made it happen.
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