Welcome to the ! As always, this is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. There’s also just a little opinion of mine because I can. This week:
Ford shows off Carbon Series GT with weight reduction and custom looks
Will Smith was right – BMW reveals drop top 850
Nissan previews future 370Z performance parts and maybe its successor with SEMA car
Toyota, Hoonigan, and Larry Chen create an awesome camera car out of a Corolla
Other coverage from SEMA
What’s your automotive news?
Ford GT Carbon Series
While everyone was at SEMA fighting for the eyes of the internet with brightly colored show cars and concepts that will never go on sale, Ford pulled a power move and introduced a new variant of the GT. Optimized for weight without sacrificing basic amenities, the Ford GT Carbon Series is now the lightest GT in the lineup. It exists to satisfy the demand for a GT that’s lighter and more hardcore, but not so much as to lose air conditioning and infotainment features.
Ford’s press release was a little vague in some of the details, but it essentially fills the void between the “normal” Ford GT and the more hardcore Ford GT Competition Series. The latter was quoted at just over 3,050 pounds dry thanks to an increased use of exposed carbon fiber on body panels and interior trim, a polycarbonate engine bay hatch, carbon fiber wheels with titanium lugs (which are available on any GT), and by removing Sync 3, air conditioning, cup holders, and the driver’s side seat storage bin. Ford GT customers who actually drive their cars and don’t live in California found that to be too much of a compromise, so Ford met them halfway.
The Ford GT Carbon Series retains Sync 3 and AC but sheds weight elsewhere. It too runs with carbon wheels and titanium lugs as standard and also gets the titanium exhaust and polycarbonate rear hatch as the Competition Series. There’s more exposed carbon inside and out than on any other GT, which seems appropriate. Engineers drew the line at the cup holders and passenger storage bin though as those are gone here as well.
The GT doesn’t need many visual updates to make it look stellar, so they kept it relatively low key by exposing a strip of carbon down the full length of the car and adding an accent package in silver, orange, red, or blue for the mirror caps, thin center stripe, and brake calipers.
Ford claims this is all good enough for a 40-pound reduction in weight and makes it “the lightest car in the company’s GT lineup”. But to me that doesn’t add up. Every weight-saving measure in the Carbon Series is borrowed straight from the Competition Series, yet it’s still the lightest GT despite retaining the air conditioning and infotainment system? Either it’s a mistake on the press release or the Competition Series can no longer be ordered so this one becomes the lightest.
Regardless, it gives me an excuse to talk about the Ford GT again.
BMW 8 Series Convertible
Will Smith once rapped about a drop-top 850is in a song that famously got roasted on Top Gear. Turns out Will was a visionary and he knew this day would come.
BMW confirmed the existence of an 8 Series Convertible that launches next March on the BMW M850i xDrive. Despite all the tech and complexity of the 8 Series Coupe, the Convertible strays away from a complicated hard top and sticks with a well-insulated multi-layer cloth top to help keep its center of gravity low. The top can be raised or lowered in 15 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph.
Cabin comfort was a priority even with the top down, so it comes standard with a foldable air deflector to stick behind the front seats and has an optional neck warmers integrated into the headrests. Those neck warmers can be adjusted manually and also have an automatic setting which alters airflow depending on vehicle speed.
Besides that, it includes everything else found on the 8 Series Coupe. . Prices for the 2019 BMW M850i xDrive Convertible (the only specification that’s been revealed thus far) starts at $121,400. That’s a roughly $10,000 premium over the Coupe.
Nissan Motorsports Project Clubsport 23
Bringing it back to SEMA, one of the coolest show cars that may also be the most relevant is the Nissan Motorsports Project Clubsport 23. It looks like a grassroots 370Z track car build on the surface, but it may as well be a test mule. This track day special is built using OEM, aftermarket, and one-off parts that “may appear someday alone or packaged together at Nissan dealership parts departments”. This car is a work in progress so some parts may differ greatly by the time they’re produced (if they are), but this is a promising sign for Z enthusiasts.
Nissan Motorsports and the MA Motorsports team they collaborated with started with a donor car – a 2012 Nissan 370Z NISMO – and a 3.0-liter VR30DDTT twin-turbo V6 rated at 400hp that was borrowed from the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport. It retains the 370Z’s 6-speed manual transmission which is the first time a manual has ever been paired with this engine. The leading theory is that this will be the engine used if the 370Z gets a successor, so it being used here and having a manual could be a sign of things to come.
For track duties, MA Motorsports beefed up the clutch and drivetrain cooling, added an AMS Performance Cold Air Intake kit, and Z1 Motorsports blow-off valves. They also fabricated a bespoke dual exhaust system to better serve the engine’s enhanced performance and they exit through the rear license plate body panel because it could.
The braking system was upgraded using soon-to-be released NISMO HC Street/Track brake pads, Z1Motorsports 2-piece slotted rotors, and NISMO stainless steel brake lines. The suspension modifications included a combination of newly released NISMO front and rear suspension components, NISMO 3-piece body brace set, KW Variant 3 coil-over shock kit, and Eibach rear springs.
Everything gets put to the ground through NISMO-branded RAYS cast aluminum-alloy 18×10.5-inch wheels and Hankook RS4 285/35R18 high performance tires. They are expected to be available through Nissan dealerships at a future date.
Besides this being the most functional show car at SEMA this year, it’s super relevant for a few reasons. Depending on interest levels, Nissan Motorsports may offer a “builder’s kit” that consists of hardware and electrical components to assist with track day builds.
Perhaps most importantly, this shows that Nissan engineers are still putting time and energy into the Z. The fate of their entry-level sports car has been up in the air with the rise of crossovers and the death of everything else, though recent rumors suggest it’s not dead yet. If they’re putting all this work into developing go fast parts for a ten-year-old platform and proving the Red Sport engine will work (with a manual no less), there’s gotta be something in the pipeline.
Larry Chen’s Hoonigan Corolla Hatchback
Another SEMA highlight for me is a Corolla of all things. This one was conceived by Larry Chen, a god amongst photographers, and built by Hoonigan and friends to be the ultimate camera car rig. Serving as a pursuit vehicle with its high-tech camera arm, it can capture stunning, movie-quality driving footage and look awesome while doing so. A Corolla Hatchback is the last thing most people would think to use for something like this, but it just works.
“When I saw the new 2019 Corolla [Hatchback], the first thing I thought of was a rally car,” Larry said. “It also makes an ideal pursuit vehicle. It’s more maneuverable than traditional chase cars, which are usually bigger SUVs, and it has a smaller footprint in general.”
To hone in on those rally car looks, it received RSR performance springs and ST Suspension spacers, 17-inch Fifteen52 Integrale wheels, and Yokohama Advan Neova tires. HPS Performance supplied an engine air intake with an AEM filter and Ark Performance supplied an exhaust system with electronically-controlled valves that can keep things quiet on set. It also receives an APR Performance bumper lip, Hella spotlights, and a Hoonigan-designed vinyl wrap paying tribute to the livery from the classic Rally Corollas of the 1990s, rendered in grayscale. Cabin occupants are held in place with NRG FRP bucket seats.
The boom and camera setup incorporates a collapsible Motocrane Ultra crane, Freefly Movi XL gimbal, Red Dragon camera, Canon 17-120mm lens, and Tilta Nucleus focusing system. It is controlled from inside the vehicle with a remote joystick setup and an LCD monitor array. This relatively compact setup allows for the whole rig to be packed into suit cases, stored inside the Corolla, and then driven on the road between shoots. Most permanent pursuit vehicles have booms that can’t be removed and they need to be towed to locations.
It looks genuinely cool with or without the boom and is probably the most useful car at SEMA this year, so it’s one of my favorites.
[Source: Toyota, ]
Other SEMA Stories from the Week
Some other hoons who have more time than I do during the week covered a few other big stories from SEMA. Or the cooler ones, at least.
Mopar proved they’re still crazy by introducing , or friends at B is for Build finished a that looks like scary good fun, and Chevrolet revealed a that could usher in a new era of electric motor-swapped hot rods.
But we’ve only scratched the surface. For more SEMA coverage than we at the ‘verse could possibly hope to replicate, head on over to e.
What’s your automotive news?
That’s all I’ve got for you this week, so now it’s your turn. If you saw anything, fixed something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything even remotely car related that you want to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.
Have a good weekend.
[Image © 2018 Redusernab/Greg Kachadurian]