Junkyard Gem: 1976 Datsun 620 Pickup

North American sales of small Japanese pickups got stronger with each passing year of the 1970s, helped along by ridiculous gasoline prices. The Toyota Hilux of that era (which became, simply, the Toyota Truck over here) gets most of the attention now, but the rugged Nissan 620 (known as the Datsun Pickup in North America) sold as well as or better than the Hilux for much of the decade. Here’s a ’76 Datsun Pickup, retired in Colorado after 44 years of hard work.

This wouldn’t even count as rust on an old Japanese vehicle in New Hampshire or Iowa.

Someone bought this truck a few more years of useful life by swapping in some semi-modern bucket seats.

How many miles? I’m going to guess the total came to 298,773, but I could be off by a couple of hundred thousand miles.

Nissan squeezed plenty of value out of the L-series overhead-cam I4 and I6 engines, which evolved from license-built Mercedes-Benz engines built by Prince in the 1960s. Datsun 510s and 280Zs ran the L, as did the rear-wheel-drive Nissan Maximas later on. This truck has an L20B of 1,952cc displacement.

Datsun 620s with automatic transmissions do exist, but nearly all of these trucks came with four-on-the-floor manual transmissions.

The steering-column ignition switch and/or lock must have failed at some point. Perhaps the final owner of this truck started it by twisting wires together.

I still find these trucks during my junkyard adventures, because pickup trucks remain useful for many decades and owners keep them alive as long as possible.

The 720 replaced the 620 for the 1980 model year in North America, shedding the Datsun name after 1983.

Just the truck for a Nebraska chemical salesman.

The Canadian version of Clint Eastwood pitched the 620 up north.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Tesla’s profit streak is unbroken, as Elon Musk calls coronavirus response ‘fascist’

Tesla’s outspoken CEO Elon Musk on Wednesday called sweeping U.S. stay-at-home restrictions to curtail the coronavirus outbreak “fascist” as the electric carmaker posted its third quarterly profit in a row.

Shares of the company were up more than 9% at $873 in extended trade.

Tesla’s report of a profitable quarter comes just a day after Detroit-based rival Ford reported a $2 billion first-quarter loss and forecast losing another $5 billion in the current quarter as the coronavirus pandemic hits demand.

How Tesla fares in the current quarter and the remainder of the year will be an important test of the company’s durability. If Tesla can limit its losses, or even continue its profit streak and outperform legacy automakers, it will be in a stronger position to take sales from rivals weakened by the coronavirus disruption.

Tesla produces a fraction of the cars of its rivals but has a much larger stock market value on expectations of tremendous growth.

On the biggest disruptions to Tesla has been the government-ordered shutdown of its factory in Fremont, California.

On a conference call on Wednesday, Musk said he did not know when Tesla could resume production in California and called the state stay-at-home order a “serious risk” to the business.

“To say that they cannot leave their house and they will be arrested if they do, this is fascist. This is not democratic, this is not freedom. Give people back their goddamn freedom!”

Michael Martinez of Automotive News on Twitter quoted Musk on the call as calling the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place order “forcibly imprisoning people in their homes against all their constitutional rights.”

Lockdown orders in California and other states do not in fact ban people from leaving their homes; they are simply asked to restrict trips to essential activities. And they do not risk arrest.

There were long silent pauses during the call, and the audio was lost at one point, with a Tesla executive reconnecting and saying, “Sorry we got disconnected for some reason. What was the question?”

Musk tweeted on March 6 that “the coronavirus panic is dumb” but later offered to supply hospitals with free ventilators. He has expressed skepticism about the pandemic in tweets several times during the lockdown.

With more than 30 million followers, Musk has a history of being outspoken on his Twitter account, one of corporate America’s most-watched.

Tesla said it could not predict how quickly vehicle manufacturing and global supply chains will normalize, saying it would revisit full-year guidance for net income and cash flow when it reports current-quarter results in three months.

Musk said that while other carmakers were cutting back, Telsa was ramping up investment. He said Tesla might announce the location of a new U.S. factory in one to three months.

Tesla in January said it expected positive quarterly cash flow and positive net income going forward. The company on Wednesday did not update its previous forecast of delivering half a million vehicles by the end of 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the new coronavirus has disrupted demand for cars, with automakers including Tesla forced to furlough workers and close factories.

Vehicle demand in the United States has dropped as much as 80% in some hard-hit areas in March, but some analysts said sales appeared to recover slightly in the first two weeks of April.

Tesla on Wednesday said it expected production at its vehicle factories in Fremont, California and in Shanghai, China to ramp gradually through the second quarter.

The company said operations at its Shanghai plant were progressing better than expected, with production rates of its Model 3 sedan expected to hit 4,000 units per week, or 200,000 per year, by mid-2020.

It said gross margins at its Shanghai factory were approaching those of Model 3 production in the United States. Automotive gross margins in the first quarter jumped to 25.5% overall.

But of the $5.1 billion in overall automotive revenue, nearly 7% were due to regulatory credits – money Tesla receives from other automakers that buy the company’s carbon emissions credits to meet stricter regulation. Revenue from those credits nearly tripled from the last quarter.

Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Nicholas Hyett also flagged that Tesla’s free cash flow was negative last quarter and improved only modestly on a yearly basis.

“The immediate future doesn’t look like the ideal time to be selling premium priced cars, so perhaps it’s no surprise guidance has been paused,” Hyett said.

Tesla said its free cash flow had been impacted by growing inventory due to coronavirus shutdowns.

The electric carmaker did not say when it planned to resume production at its Fremont plant, which sits idle since March 24.

Tesla shut down the California factory just as it was ramping up production of its new electric crossover utility vehicle Model Y, which it expects to generate record demand and higher profit margins.

Tesla on Wednesday said the Model Y was already contributing profits, marking the first time in the company’s history that a new vehicle is profitable in its first quarter.

Alameda County, where the factory is based, on Wednesday extended stay-at-home orders until May 31 and vehicle manufacturing is not considered an essential business that is exempt.

Earlier this month, Tesla said production and deliveries of its Model Y sports utility vehicle were significantly ahead of schedule, as it delivered the highest number of vehicles in any first quarter to date, despite the outbreak.

Excluding items, Tesla posted a profit of $1.24 per share. Analysts had expected a loss of 36 cents per share.

Tesla shares are up 91% for the year to date as of Wednesday’s close, after recovering from a sharp slump in March.

Source: AutoBlog.com

With a top speed of 135 mph, this is now the world’s fastest tractor

Transcript: The world’s fastest tractor. The construction equipment manufacturer JCB Machines took a break from building backhoes to build a speed tractor. They modified a JCB Fastrac tractor that had a top speed of 41 mph. The turbocharged tractor is powered by a JCB engine with a large charge cooler filled with ice. There is an electric turbocharger in addition to the main turbocharger. Once the mods were finished, the tractor had a top speed of 135 mph. British racer Guy Martin drove the modified JCB Fastrac, setting the record for the World’s Fastest Tractor (modified).

Source: AutoBlog.com

Volkswagen ID.4 electric crossover spied in ‘coupe’ form

A few weeks ago we would have been covering the New York Auto Show, and we were expecting to see the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 electric crossover. None of that happened because of the global pandemic, but we do have some interesting VW ID.4 news. A fan of one of our spy photographers happened upon an ID.4 prototype and shared them with said photographer and us. It shows that the crossover will be getting a low-roof “coupe” variant. It was thinly disguised, too, with the most elaborate camouflage being some amusingly fake tail pipes.

The crossover has a similar size and proportion to the ID.4 prototypes we’ve seen at shows and in testing. It shares the same curvy bodywork, too. But the roof slopes downward from about the back of the rear doors all the way to the tail to give it the fastback roof that has proven so popular among luxury crossover buyers. It looks like rear headroom may not be particularly reduced compared to some other fastback crossovers, but luggage space certainly will. This example also features a natty little wing at the tip of the hatch for some more sporty flair. Overall, the crossover looks a bit bulbous to our eyes, but we suspect it will still sell.

Our spy photographer noted that this model could also carry the rumored “GTX” nomenclature, which is supposedly the electric version of GTI, with the X indicating a second front motor. We’re not so sure, as this seems to share the same size wheels as the last prototype we saw testing, and so the only sporty feature is the aforementioned wing. Also, we’re expecting all versions of the ID.4 to come with dual motors, since all-wheel drive is a key feature in the crossover market. In a base ID.4, we believe it will have a 101-horsepower motor up front and a 201-horsepower motor in the rear like in the concept. A GTX version would probably produce a bit more power, maybe with a duplicate 201-horsepower motor at the front. The standard ID.4 is expected to have an 83-kWh battery pack good for about 250 miles of range, too. Originally the ID.4 was planned for introduction late this year, but that’s up in the air with the coronavirus crisis.

Source: AutoBlog.com

2021 Toyota GR Supra will be available in cool Horizon Blue (if you live in Japan)

In Japan, the Toyota GR Supra is split into SZ, SZ-R, and RZ trims. The SZ and SZ-R trims use a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, while the RZ trim uses a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six. For 2021, Toyota upgraded the RZ with more power and announced two special-edition models, one in Horizon Blue and the other in Matte Storm Gray Metallic. The Horizon Blue Edition also features new wheels and matching interior accents and is limited to 100 units.

The 3.0-liter engine in the Japanese GR Supra RZ is getting an update for the new model year. The outgoing model produced a claimed 335 horsepower, as does the current U.S. Supra, at 5,000 rpm, and 369 lb-ft of torque at 1,600-4,500 rpm. Weighing in at 3,351 pounds, it could race from 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds (American market figure). The new Supra RZ will make a claimed 382 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and keeps the same torque number of 369 lb-ft but at at 1,800-5,000 rpm. It adds 22 pounds for a total weight of 3,373 pounds and can sprint from 0-60 mph in a slightly improved 3.9 seconds.

Furthermore, the RZ’s handling has been improved with a front brace to increase body rigidity and a retuned suspension for better cornering. There is no word as to whether these upgrades will come to America, but more power and better handling seems like something everybody would want.

On the freshened RZ, there will be two limited-edition colors. A Matte Storm Gray Metallic paint will be limited to just 27 units and will initially be doled out to customers via a lottery. The Horizon Blue Edition is limited to 100 units, but it’s more than just a cool paint job. In addition to the vivid coloring, the package also includes matte black painted 19-inch aluminum wheels. Inside, the seats are draped in Alcantara and black leather with blue contrast stitching. The blue accents continue on the instrument panel, door trim, and steering wheel. 

Both the blue and gray Supras are available now on a first-come-first-serve basis. For those who are not in Japan but love looking at the color, the new GR Supra RZ was also recently added to Gran Turismo Sport.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Is It Just Me Podcast: Should F1 scrap Monaco or Silverstone?

Monaco and Silverstone may be two of the most historic and legendary tracks in Formula 1 history – but are they overrated?In the latest edition of Is It Just Me?, Jessica McFadyen and Luke Smith discuss your unpopular opinions about the race tracks you wouldn’t miss from the F1 calendar.Monaco has been regarded as the ‘jewel in the F1 crown’ throughout the sport’s history, but in an era of faster, bigger cars, has it simply outgrown the streets of the principality?Or is the risk and thrill of the street circuit still providing as much allure as it always has?[embedded content]Silverstone, meanwhile, is the home of British motorsport and hosted the very first F1 race right the way back in 1950. It is always one of the best-attended grands prix of the season – but is it overrated? And would F1 be better off chasing a London street race instead?Jess and Luke also hear from fans giving their unpopular opinions about other tracks including Monza, Suzuka and Melbourne.This podcast is now available to watch on YouTube, and can be listened to and downloaded on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and all podcast apps.
Source: AutoSport.com

MotoGP News: Maximum team sizes outlined for delayed 2020 season

MotoGP has outlined the maximum numbers of team personnel allowed in the paddock when racing resumes, while confirming it is looking to purchase 10,000 coronavirus test kits.The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced the opening 11 rounds of the season to be either cancelled or postponed, with the campaign now set to commence at the end of July at the earliest.On Wednesday, MotoGP governing body the FIM confirmed that a revised calendar won’t feature the Finnish, German and – for the first time in history – Dutch GPs, while essential track works in Qatar has ruled out a premier class slot in 2020 after the Losail International Circuit hosted Moto2 and Moto3 in March.Last weekend, Carmelo Ezpeleta – CEO of MotoGP promoters Dorna Sports – said he was “optimistic” of a late July or August start, with hopes of a 10-12-round season centred in Europe.It is thought most, if not all, of these races will be held behind closed doors, with a reduction to a skeleton crew of teams personnel previously discussed.In an update on Wednesday evening, Ezpeleta says a consensus on numbers for each factory and satellite MotoGP team, as well as for the Moto2 and Moto3 squads has been taken.”We talked to the teams and arrived at a consensus that maximum number for a MotoGP manufacturer team will be 40 [personnel], for satellite or independent teams will be 25, 20 for Moto2 and 15 for Moto3,” Ezpeleta said.”Then there will be, of course, all the people who produce the television signal; all this crew, then the minimum number of people from Dorna who are in charge of race organisation.”This will give us an average of around 1600 people.”This is the possibility to control the MotoGP family.”Unfortunately, at the moment there will be no media and no TV [media].”Ezpeleta also revealed that Dorna’s parent company Bridgepoint Capital is looking at buying 10,000 coronavirus test kits, with regular COVID-19 tests carried out on all personnel to strictly monitor any spread of the virus within the MotoGP paddock.”We are working just on the 10,000 coronavirus tests which we agreed with Bridgepoint,” he added.”Then what we are doing is to try to make a protocol, which is the way we’re working within Dorna now to see how the races could be without spectators and with a limited number of people working in the paddock, which will give different situations regarding transportation, accommodation, hospitality.”Then everyone will be tested before leaving their house, then tested when they arrive at the circuit and also when they return home.”This is the idea. We are working with another company which belongs to Bridgepoint to acquire these 10,000 tests.”
Source: AutoSport.com

Autosport magazine pauses production due to pandemic impact

Autosport magazine will be paused following the 30 April issue due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.Autosport was first published on 25 August 1950 and has appeared every week since, but the economic realities of the COVID-19 lockdown mean that the decision has had to be made to temporarily pause production of the magazine.The plan is for the magazine to return in time for the F1 season, which series CEO Chase Carey has suggested will start in July.From the customer’s point of view, no financial impact will be felt. Subscription payments will be frozen. For example, if subscribers have nine months left on their subscription they will still have that time left when the magazine resumes. It is a pause. But reader access to the premium content isn’t interrupted.Our leading writers will continue to work for Autosport.com, where we will boost our content, including articles on national motorsport. We will also be offering a range of benefits to our subscribers – please go to www.autosport.com/covidprint.Autosport print magazine subscribers will also be granted a free three-month access period to Motorsport.tv.We would like to thank all the members of staff, who have maintained their customary high standards in difficult circumstances, and who produced seven issues of the magazine from home.We also thank you, the reader, for your interest and support. We have received many messages in recent weeks thanking us for our continued efforts on the magazine and are sorry that we will not be able to do so for the coming weeks.The team had many articles lined up, some of which will now appear on Autosport.com and some of which will be set aside for the magazine’s return later in the year.In the meantime, we wish everyone well at this very strange time. Stay safe.
Source: AutoSport.com

Esports: eNASCAR Heat Pro League round two preview

The eNASCAR Heat Pro League in association with Motorsport Games heads to virtual Watkins Glen International for the second round of the 2020 season.The series will run Trucks at the historic road course as drivers are forced to switch gears after the season-opener with Cup cars at Homestead-Miami Speedway.Round one was won by Justin Brooks (Xbox) of the JTG Daugherty Throttlers and Hendrick Motorsports GC driver Nick Jobes (Playstation 4).But now the league heads to Watkins Glen where a different skillset is needed in order to succeed.For a look at who may be the ones to beat, let’s take a look back to the pre-season races.In the pre-season race at Mid-Ohio, where Xfinity Series cars were used, Daniel Buttafuoco absolutely dominated the Xbox race, leading every lap, with Luis Zaiter was his closest challenger the entire race.On the PS4 side, Joe Gornick and Matt Billingsley were the stars of the show, with the latter ultimately taking the checkered flag.Qualifying at Watkins Glen took place Tuesday evening and it was no surprise that Buttafuoco claimed pole position among the Xbox competitors.His time of 1m07.635s was just a tenth quicker than Brooks, who won the season-opener. Zaiter was third, Nick Walker fourth and Slade Gravitt fifth on the time sheets.Brandyn Gritton, who finished sixth at Homestead, claimed pole among the PS4 field.His time of 1m07.586s was just a few hundredths quicker than Homestead winner Jobes, who will start from the outside of the front row. Maxwell Castro, Joe Gornick and Joey Stone rounded out the top-five.The race will go green at 1am and is available to watch on Motorsport.tv. Subscribe from just £3.99 per month.
Source: AutoSport.com

F1 News: Return can’t deprive world of COVID-19 tests, says Seidl

Formula 1 should only go back to racing when it does not risk ‘burning’ through coronavirus tests or personal protective equipment, says McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl.With grand prix racing’s chiefs still hoping to be able to put on a full schedule later this year, one possible way of getting things rolling would be to impose a strict testing regime to ensure anyone working at the race was not carrying the virus.However, Seidl says that F1 needs to be cautious about the lengths it goes to in its desire to get back to business, because it needs to be mindful of how public opinion is framed at that point of time.”What I think is an important point is the public acceptance of events happening again,” explained Seidl.”I think it’s important that you only go back to go racing once we also have certainty when it comes down to protective equipment and that the number of tests for people are all in place.”And, [that they] are available to people that actually need it, and that we are not the ones burning these tests or these materials, just for going back racing.”I think there’s a big desire from people, from the public, from the fans, that especially in these lockdown situations we are all in at the moment, that sport events are happening again – even if it’s just on TV.”But again, obviously, there’s a lot of different aspects that need to be considered.”Seidl, whose own team withdrew from the season-opening Australian Grand Prix when one of its staff members tested positive for coronavirus, said that guaranteeing safety for team personnel was essential.”As always, the most important thing is to protect our people, he said. “Definitely we can’t go back to racing until we definitely know that our people are safe. Then I think it will simply depend on the guidelines of our home countries, first of all, and then the travel guidelines.”We need to see if that allows us to travel out and back into our home countries. We need to wait for the different countries to decide whether races should happen.”And I think also, you need to see what the promoters are deciding because, especially with the changes of dates also for a lot of races, the promoters need to be up for it and it needs to make sense from the commercial point of view also for the promoters for F1.”
Source: AutoSport.com