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Hennessey Venom F5 to gun for 290 mph with 1,400 horsepower [UPDATE]

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Supercars, MISC

Hennessey Venom F5

UPDATE: Hennessey has released official renderings and verbiage on its forthcoming Venom F5, which we've incorporated into this story.

Hennessey Performance had good reason to fly the star-spangled banner with pride when it recorded a top speed of over 270 miles per hour at the Kennedy Space Center this past February. That was, after all, faster than the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport ever recorded. Unfortunately, the run wasn't official enough to take the crown away (at least to the Guinness Book of World Records people), but instead of simply trying again, or squeezing a bit of extra power out of the existing Venom GT, Hennessey is reportedly going back to the drawing board with a comprehensive list of upgrades.

According to Hennessey, the project has been dubbed F5, not after the Northrop fighter jet but after the tornado classification. That might seem like a bit much for most any other car, but Hennessey plans on backing it up. For starters, the 7.0-liter twin-turbo V8 is being reworked to deliver as much as (if not more than) 1,400 horsepower, and a new single-clutch paddle-shift gearbox is being developed (a manual will still be offered). New bodywork is being designed atop the Lotus Elise-based chassis to further cut the Venom's drag coefficient while delivering all the downforce it'll need to stay on the road. It's also set to get a new GPS-based traction control system that will be programmable for specific racing circuits.

All that and more is giving Hennessey a target of topping 290 miles per hour, potentially to be achieved at Bonneville. The Texas-based company reportedly plans on making 30 examples, each with a price tag expected to exceed the existing Venom GT's $1.2-million MSRP.

Continue reading Hennessey Venom F5 to gun for 290 mph with 1,400 horsepower [UPDATE]

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Hennessey Venom F5 to gun for 290 mph with 1,400 horsepower

08/04/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Supercars, MISC

Hennessey Venom GT

Hennessey Performance had good reason to fly the star-spangled banner with pride when it recorded a top speed of over 270 miles per hour at the Kennedy Space Center this past February. That was, after all, faster than the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport ever recorded. Unfortunately, the run wasn't official enough to take the crown away (at least to the Guinness Book of World Records people), but instead of simply trying again, or squeezing a bit of extra power out of the existing Venom GT, Hennessey is reportedly going back to the drawing board with a comprehensive list of upgrades.

According to Top Gear, the project is being dubbed F5, not after the Northrop fighter jet but after the tornado classification. That might seem like a bit much for most any other car, but Hennessey plans on backing it up. For starters, the 7.0-liter twin-turbo V8 is being reworked to deliver as much as (if not more than) 1,400 horsepower. New bodywork is being designed atop the Lotus Elise-based chassis to further cut the Venom's drag coefficient while delivering all the downforce it'll need to stay on the road. It's also set to get a new GPS-based traction control system that will be programmable for specific racing circuits.

All that and more is reportedly giving Hennessey a target of topping 290 miles per hour, potentially to be achieved at Bonneville. The Texas-based company reportedly plans on making 30 examples, each with a price tag expected to exceed the existing Venom GT's $1.2-million MSRP.

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What you missed on 7.28.14

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Videos, Cadillac, Ford, Infiniti, Scion, Motorcycles, Special/Limited Editions, Luxury, MISC, Racing

Daily U-Turn

First Drive: Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge PrototypeInfiniti Q50 Eau Rouge prototype

It's quick - 0-60 in under four seconds. It's fast - top speed is estimated at around 186 miles per hour. And, rather surprisingly considering its status as a prototype, it drives pretty darn well. With a heart of gold borrowed from the Nissan GT-R mated to all-wheel-drive hung off a luxurious sedan chassis, this is one vehicle we openly beg and plead enters production. Soon.

Polaris Slingshot enters the fray on three wheelsPolaris Slingshot

The fact that it only has three wheels on which to stand means the government classifies the Polaris Slingshot as a motorcycle. That means you'll need an appropriate license to operate it, and it probably means you'll need to wear head and/or eye protection. But with an enviable power-to-weight ratio to go along with what's sure to be a thrilling drive experience, those may be small prices to pay. Speaking of which, this sucker will start just shy of $20,000.

Rain an equalizer at Hungarian Grand Prix2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

How thankful we are that rain doesn't keep these open-cockpit Formula 1 cars in the paddock. The 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix proved once again that changing weather conditions are one rather natural way of adding some excitement to the race track. Check out our full race recap for all the details of what went down in Hungary.

Top Stories

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Polaris Slingshot hits the road on all three wheels [w/videos]

07/28/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, Videos, MISC

Polaris Slingshot

If there's one thing that the likes of Morgan and Campagna have taught us, it's that a three-wheeled roadster can be one heck of a fun ride, bringing together the best elements of a motorbike and a sports car (albeit with none of the practicality). And now they've got a new challenger on their hands in the form of the Slingshot.

The Polaris Slingshot has been on our radar screen for a few months, but has now been revealed in full. It's similar in form to the Three-Wheeler or T-Rex, but looks more like a KTM X-Bow minus a rear wheel. Which may make sense considering that, like the X-Bow, the Slingshot is made by a motorcycle company: Polaris makes snowmobiles and ATVs (as well as Victory and Indian motorcycles). The company is sort of like Bombardier, but where BRP's Can-Am Spyder (with its saddle and handlebars) went with a motorbike approach with an extra wheel, the Polaris Slingshot (though technically deemed a motorcycle for certification purposes) is more like a roadster missing one.

The 2.4-liter GM Ecotec four sits up front, channeling 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque through a five-speed manual transmission and carbon-reinforced drive belt to the solitary rear wheels. In true motorbike-manufacturer style (where pace depends mostly on the rider), Polaris hasn't revealed performance specs. But in a package weighing just 1,700 pounds, it ought to go like spit. Measuring less than 150 inches tall by 77.6 inches wide and 51.9 inches tall, and riding on a 105-inch wheelbase with a 69-inch front track and sitting just 5 inches off the ground, it ought to feel even faster, especially considering that it's got no roof and barely any windshield to speak of. With 11.8-inch vented disc brakes at each of its three corners, it ought to stop on a dime as well.

Pricing starts at $19,999 for the base model and $23,999 for the better-equipped Slingshot SL. It comes with a two-year unlimited-mileage warranty extendable up to five years and will be sold by Polaris, Victory and Indian dealers across the country, although the specific laws of its registration (and whether you'll have to wear a helmet when driving it) depend on each state's individual regulations. Check it out on the Polaris website and in the playlist of eleven short video clips below.

Continue reading Polaris Slingshot hits the road on all three wheels [w/videos]

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ATS reveals new Leggera roadster

07/24/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Convertibles, Sports/GTs, MISC

ATS Leggera

Never heard of ATS? Nope, we're not talking about the Cadillac sports sedan. We're talking about Automobili Turismo e Sport, an Italian automaker formed by a group of renegade Ferrari staffers in the mid-'60s. ATS was only on the map for a couple of years, producing models like the 2500 GT and competing in a handful of grands prix. But ATS (not unlike Mini and Bugatti) was revived a couple of years ago, hitting the scene with the ATS Sport with a number of other projects (not the least of them being similarly reviving De Tomaso). Here we have its followup.

Called the ATS Leggera, the two-seat roadster was previewed late last year but is now ready to cruise down the Italian coastline. Inspired by classic European roadsters of the 1950s and 60s, the ATS Leggera packs a 1.6-liter turbo four in a front-mid position for 50/50 weight distribution within a stainless steel tubular frame.

The base-spec ATS 300 Leggera drives 210 horsepower to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual transmission and Quaife rear differential, riding on 16-inch machined alloys packing six-piston calipers up front and gripping ventilated discs out back, fitted to a double wishbone suspension with adjustable Ohlins shocks and front and rear anti-roll bars. Weighing just 1,400 pounds, even the 300 model (so named for its power-to-weight ratio) is capable of reaching 62 miles per hour in 4.3 seconds en route to a top speed of 137 mph.

Those looking for a little more performance can opt for the ATS 365 Leggera with 240 hp. The first five customers, however, will have the opportunity to order the ATS 420 Super Leggera SS, packing a 2.2-liter Honda engine tuned by Spoon to produce 290 hp. With a chrome molybdenum frame, it weighs even less at 1,323 pounds for a power-to-weight ratio of 420 hp/tonne.

Both left- and right-hand-drive versions will be offered, with a cockpit trimmed in soft Italian leather, Nardi wood steering rim and Smiths instruments. But track-day enthusiasts (or those interested in entering in qualifying racing series) can opt for a six-speed sequential gearbox, semi-slick tires, carbon buckets, racing harnesses and an FIA roll cage to replace the chrome hoops among the long list of options. Scope out all the details in the press kit below and the images in the gallery above for a closer look.

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Nuclear-powered concept cars from the Atomic Age

07/17/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Time Warp, Tech, Ford, Design/Style, MISC

In the 1950s and early 60s, the dawn of nuclear power was supposed to lead to a limitless consumer culture, a world of flying cars and autonomous kitchens all powered by clean energy. In Europe, it offered the then-limping continent a cheap, inexhaustible supply of power after years of rationing and infrastructure damage brought on by two World Wars.

The development of nuclear-powered submarines and ships during the 1940s and 50s led car designers to begin conceptualizing atomic vehicles. Fueled by a consistent reaction, these cars would theoretically produce no harmful byproducts and rarely need to refuel. Combining these vehicles with the new interstate system presented amazing potential for American mobility.

But the fantasy soon faded. There were just too many problems with the realities of nuclear power. For starters, the powerplant would be too small to attain a reaction unless the car contained weapons-grade atomic materials. Doing so would mean every fender-bender could result in a minor nuclear holocaust. Additionally, many of the designers assumed a lightweight shielding material or even forcefields would eventually be invented (they still haven't) to protect passengers from harmful radiation. Analyses of the atomic car concept at the time determined that a 50-ton lead barrier would be necessary to prevent exposure.

Although hope is still alive for nuclear-powered cars - engines powered by lasers and Thorium salts have been suggested - it's amusing to think that there was a time when these cars were seriously considered the future of transportation. Our love affair with nuclear energy has waned considerably since the catastrophes at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and, most recently, Fukushima.

Take a trip back in time to when creativity was out matched only by naïveté by checking out these nuclear-powered car concepts from automakers like Ford and Studebaker-Packard. Radiation suit not included.

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Dubai Roadster already attracting orders ahead of debut

07/13/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Convertibles, Sports/GTs, Middle East, MISC

Dubai Roadster

We would generally advise against buying a car sight unseen, but when it comes to some supercars, the entire year's production run is often spoken for before the car is even unveiled. Which is fine, in some sense we guess, when it's coming from a known manufacturer like Ferrari or Lamborghini. The Dubai Roadster, however, does not come from such a company. It doesn't even come from a region that's known for making cars. In fact the only time Dubai ever seems to come across our radar is when its police force acquires a new supercar, some special-edition Rolls-Royce, Bentley or Bugatti is unveiled there, the Emirs buy part of a Formula One racing team or someone gets the bright idea of building a supercar there.

That's what we saw with the Lykan Hypersport from W Motors, and now another contender has apparently joined the fray. It's called, simply enough, the Dubai Roadster, and the design calls for a 400-horsepower V8 engine mounted in the front of an aluminum (or potentially titanium) tube frame overlaid with carbon and fiberglass bodywork.

The first prototype isn't even complete yet, the design existing at present only in a few renderings, bearing the logo of the upcoming world's fair in the gulf emirate. But according to The National, buyers are already calling up Rashid Al Shaali - the two-time UAE Time Attack champion behind the project - with their checkbooks open.

The finished product is scheduled to debut at the Dubai Motor Show next year, at which point Al Shaali reportedly aims to have 25 vehicles ready for sale at around 400,000 Emirati dirham, equivalent to nearly $110,000 at today's exchange rates. Given the wealth localized in the Emirates and the cost of developing such a car from scratch with no infrastructure, however, we wouldn't be surprised to see the price spiral upwards by the time it's done.

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Pagani sends 40% of Huayras to US [w/video]

07/10/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Car Buying, Plants/Manufacturing, Videos, Supercars, MISC

Pagani Huayra

As big as the North American market is, it's hard for a small-scale European automaker to make it over here. The cost of pursuing certification both in Europe and in the United States is just too high for a small outfit to absorb. That's why Pagani, for example, never brought the Zonda to North America. But when it came to the newer Huayra, the Modenese automaker made EPA, CARB and NHTSA certification a priority - making Pagani the only automaker producing less than 100 vehicles per year to have achieved certification on both shores of the Atlantic.

And it's evidently glad it did, because the United States has become the single largest market for the Huayra. In fact, since the start of 2014, the United States has accounted for 40 percent of Huayra production. And that's not even accounting for other countries which adopt US standards as well instead of abiding by European certification. Earlier this year, the company established Pagani WorldWide as its US base of operations in San Francisco, orchestrating a network across North American with dealers in Connecticut, Miami, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco and Toronto.

Watch the clip below to see how Pagani gets its cars from the factory in Modena to the United States.

Continue reading Pagani sends 40% of Huayras to US [w/video]

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Local Motors crowd-sourcing new lightweight sports car

07/07/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, Special/Limited Editions, Design/Style, MISC, Racing

Local Motors Rally Fighter

If you hear the name Local Motors and automatically associate it with the Rally Fighter pictured above, we can hardly blame you. It is the project for which the manufacturing startup is best known, after all. But it's not the only one it has undertaken to date. Local Motors has also sourced from the crowd a drift trike, a motorcycle, a pizza delivery vehicle and even a Peterbilt truck. And it's not done yet. Not even close.

According to the latest report, Local Motors's next undertaking will be to build a new sports car. Two of them, actually. Automobile magazine reports that the team leaders have set the basic parameters for the project that involve a front-mounted turbo four driving at least 200 horsepower to the rear wheels through a manual transmission with an independent suspension front and rear. From there, the sky's the limit.

Local Motors intends to produce two versions: one "naked" chassis in the spirit of the Ariel Atom that will be tuned for the track, to be followed by a "clothed" version for the street. Beyond that, we don't know, but it's not because Local Motors isn't saying - it's because it hasn't determined what form the project will take as it evolves.

That will be up to members of its community to propose components and design elements on which they will vote to determine what makes it onto the finished product. One thing we do know is that if it's anywhere near as awesome and off-the-wall as the Rally Fighter, it'll be one heck of a ride indeed.

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Glickenhaus reveals carbon chassis for SGC 003

07/03/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Videos, Ferrari, MISC, Racing

SGC 003 chassis

Aside from being a Hollywood director and investment banker, James Glickenhaus has one of the most awesome car collections around, full of classic Ferrari racers. But that wasn't enough for him, so he started commissioning his own: the Enzo-based Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina and the 430-based P4/5 Competizione. But basing his supercars on existing ones has evidently proven tiresome for the venerable collector, so now he's building his own.

The SGC 003 is set to debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, and will surely be exciting for Ferrari enthusiasts, but here's the thing: it's not based on a Ferrari. It's being built around a custom carbon-fiber monocoque chassis that his racing outfit, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, has designed from the ground up. And here it is.

Revealed in this preview video, the SGC 003 chassis will underpin a new sports endurance racer that is set to take on one of the most punishing races in the world: the Nürburgring 24 Hours, where its predecessor competed two years in a row. We're looking forward to seeing the finished product, but in the meantime you can check out the video below for an advance look at what to expect.

Continue reading Glickenhaus reveals carbon chassis for SGC 003

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