Acura takes first and second in Rolex 24 at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — What a year for Helio Castroneves, the ageless Spiderman of motorsports.

Castroneves climbed the fence for the third time this calendar year Sunday after earning another crown jewel victory, this time a second consecutive win in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The Brazilian closed out the race for Meyer Shank Racing, the team that helped him win a record-tying fourth Indianapolis 500 last May.

Castroneves in the No. 60 Acura held off Ricky Taylor over the final hour of the twice-round-the-clock race — an ironic close because Castroneves won his first career Rolex watch 365 days ago as Taylor’s teammate in the No. 10 Acura.

Castroneves denied Wayne Taylor Racing a fourth consecutive win at Daytona International Speedway, where he of course climbed the fence with his team in celebration. Now rival team owner Taylor went to victory lane to congratulate Castroneves.

The win for Michael Shank came on the 10th anniversary of Shank’s first victory in North America’s most prestigious sports car race. That win in the 50th running of the Rolex with the late Justin Wilson and NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger gave Shank’s fledgling program credibility, and Castroneves since May has helped Shank show the team is a legitimate force.

The 24-hour race was full of surprises and put the teams through a unique situation due to the weather. Unseasonably cold temperatures caused major grip issues with the tires. Since tire warmers are not allowed, teams had to go out with tires that drivers described to us as “driving on ice.” In order to become grippy and useful, you need temperature in the tires, which meant the first lap on new tires was a sketchy one for every driver. We witnessed more than a few scary moments, skids and crashes that you could attribute to the super-low tire temps — racing in sub-freezing weather is not normal.
Both the GTD Pro Corvettes and DPi
Cadillacs had tough days. But even though the DPi Cadillacs finished third and forth, the race between
GM and Acura remained close for the entire 24 hours. At the end, it was only seconds that stood between Cadillac and victory. A final stint of about 30 minutes where both Acura and Cadillac were on even footing just proved that Acura had more pace at Daytona this year.
As for the fan turnout, the cold weather didn’t do too much to dampen spirits. Attendees filled the grid walk and track walk prior to race start, signing their names and expressing well-wishes to their favorite drivers and teams on the start/finish line. Thankfully for the drivers, they only had the cold to deal with, as rain that had plagued Daytona near to race never threatened the entire weekend. It’s a good thing, too, because precipitation in a certain window overnight would’ve been snow, not rain.
Even with the lack of rain, Daytona took its share of punches, as full-course cautions were frequent occurrences. Luckily for Acura, the two teams stayed clean all race long and had no reliability issues that plagued their races.

Castroneves will drive the full IndyCar season for Shank this year in a two-car effort that includes his former Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud. Shank grabbed both Castroneves and Pagenaud to help his fulltime IMSA sports car drivers Olivier Jarvis and Tom Blomqvist win the 60th running of the Rolex.

The 24-hour race remarkably came down to the final minutes in four of the five classes at Daytona. And it was a huge day for the IndyCar Series, which had five drivers claim Rolex watches.

Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward and IndyCar rookie Devlin DeFrancesco rallied DragonSpeed USA from several laps down to win the LMP2 class, with Herta going door-to-door in the final minutes with Tower Motorsport. Herta came out the victor when the two cars almost touched and Louis Deletraz went off course.

The new GTD Pro class was decided by a frantic battle between a pair of Porsches, and Pfaff Motorsports, which enlisted IMSA reigning co-champion Felipe Nasr as its endurance driver, earned the win. The final hours of the race saw those two Porsches going wheel-to-wheel, lap after lap, and their battle almost ended in last-lap disaster for Acura, as the two 911s made contact through the bus stop chicane.

Riley Motorsports won the LMP 3 class and Wright Motorsports won the GT Daytona class.

The field featured 61 cars, the most since 2014, and was run in record-low temperatures, but it was a mild 53 degrees and sunny when Castroneves climbed yet another fence.


This story contains material from the Associated Press.


Ford, GM juggle today’s challenges with tomorrow’s promises

DETROIT — General Motors and Ford are expected to report next week they turned solid profits for the last quarter of 2021, but rarely has past performance mattered less to investors.

The two Detroit automakers are in mid-leap between a combustion-powered present, and a future they have promised will be defined by electric vehicles and software-powered services.

Both companies have mapped out multibillion-dollar investments in new North American electric vehicle and battery factories, aimed at challenging Tesla and a flock of smaller EV startups in the still-tiny market. But those new factories will not be at full speed until the middle of this decade.

Though GM and Ford were once giants of the global auto sector, their market capitalizations have been dwarfed by EV maker Tesla. Tesla on Wednesday reported stronger than expected revenue and profit for the fourth quarter of 2021, but warned that supply-chain bottlenecks would continue through 2022 and likely prevent its factories from running at full capacity.

GM last year sold fewer vehicles in the United States than Toyota Motor Corp, the first time in 91 years that GM was not the No. 1-selling automaker in its home market.

GM and Ford’s profits in 2021 were lifted by consumers willing to pay record-high prices for gas-powered pickup trucks and SUVs. In 2022, analysts are concerned the Detroit manufacturers will face a more uncertain economic environment, including rising interest rates, high oil prices and continuing supply-chain bottlenecks that could curtail production.

Analysts expect both companies to be cautious in their outlooks for 2022. Shortages of semiconductors are expected to weigh on production into the second half of the year, Bank of America wrote in a note.

“While automakers will enjoy production recovery and inventory restocking, (those) could be coupled with price declines, mix deterioration, rising input costs,” Morgan Stanley said.

Ford told investors in its third-quarter report that it expected $1.5 billion in higher commodity costs, and saw inflationary pressures across a broad range of expenses.

Wall Street has shown more confidence over the last several months in efforts by Ford’s CEO, Jim Farley, to accelerate the company’s electric pickup truck and van programs. Ford’s market value hit $100 billion in mid-January, exceeding GM’s value for the first time in more than five years. But the market value of Ford, whose quarterly results are expected on Thursday afternoon, has since dropped by 20% after the company issued a complicated reworking of its 2021 profit guidance.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra is expected to have a more straightforward story to tell on Tuesday about fourth-quarter and full-year results. GM Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson told investors in December the company expected adjusted pretax profit for 2021 to reach $14 billion, higher than previous forecasts.


Junkyard Gem: 1985 BMW 318i Sedan

Internet Car Experts say that the BMW E30 is far too valuable to ever show up in a cheap self-service wrecking yard nowadays, but I continue to see them regularly. Sure, you’ll have a much easier time finding the E36 and E46 versions of BMW’s 3 Series in your local Ewe Pullet, and even the E90s are showing up in quantity these days, but I still see plenty of 1984-1991 E30s during my junkyard travels. Here’s a nimble four-banger E30, spotted at a Silicon Valley yard last summer.

The M10 four-cylinder BMW engine goes way back, all the way to the early 1960s. 2002s had M10s, as did the very first 3-Series: the 320i. This one is a 1.8-liter rated at 101 horsepower; that’s quite a bit less than the 121 horses in the 325e of the same year, but it also made the car 150 pounds lighter.

A surprisingly large proportion of U.S.-market E30s had automatic transmissions, but this one has the base five-speed manual.

The 1985 318i four-door sedan had a list price of $16,925, with the two-door priced at $16,430 (that’s about $44,725 and $43,420 in 2022 dollars, respectively). Moving up to the six-cylinder 325e four-door that year meant spending at least $21,105 (around $55,775 today). If you’d headed to your local Toyota dealer in 1985, you could have bought a brand-new AE86 Corolla GT-S for $9,298, which meant 112 horsepower in a car that weighed 131 fewer pounds than the 318i. If only we had a time machine, eh?

You’ll find one in every car.

Even in the land of the AE86, you could buy the 318i new.

The most powerful argument against the midlife crisis.


Junkyard Gem: 1962 Buick LeSabre 2-Door Sport Coupe

American car shoppers looking for a full-sized hardtop coupe in 1962 couldn’t go wrong with the offerings from The General. Chevrolet would sell you a snazzy new Bel Air sport coupe for just $2,561 (about $23,800 today), but those Joneses next door wouldn’t have felt properly shamed if you put a new proletariat-grade Chevy in your driveway. No, to really stand tall during the era of Alfred Sloan’s Ladder of Success, you had to go higher up on the GM food chain. For the B-platform full-sized cars of 1962, that meant the Pontiac Catalina/Bonneville beat the Chevy, the Oldsmobile 88 was the next step up the ladder, and at the very top was the Buick: the hot-rod Invicta and its swanky LeSabre sibling. To go beyond that, you had to move up to a C-platform Buick Electra or Cadillac. Today’s Junkyard Gem is a once-luxurious ’62 LeSabre, now much-faded in a northeastern Colorado boneyard.

The reason GM shoppers got so bent out of shape about the “Chevymobile” episodes of the late 1970s, in which some GM cars received engines made by “lesser” GM divisions, was that each division had its own family of V8 engines during the 1950s and 1960s and they weren’t supposed to be mingled. The ’62 LeSabre got a 401-cubic-inch (6.5-liter) Nailhead engine (so called because the valves were unusually small), rated at 265, 280, or 325 (depending on what kind of compression ratio and carburetion you wanted). That’s not crazy horses for a big-displacement, two-ton luxury coupe of its era, but the small valves allowed for combustion chambers optimized for one thing: low-rpm torque. This 401 has the two-barrel carburetor, so it made either 412 or 425 pound-feet of torque. That’s just a bit less than the mighty Cadillac’s engine that year, and definitely sufficient to get this car moving very quickly.

You had to pay a fat premium on the Chevrolet, Pontiac, and Oldsmobile B-bodies to get an automatic transmission (a three-speed column-shift manual was base equipment in those cars), but a Turbine-Drive (formerly known as the Dyna-Flow) automatic was standard issue on the 1962 LeSabre. This was an interesting transmission design that traced its origins back to the 1942 M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer and used torque-converter multiplication to provide a CVT-like experience with no perceptible shifts (the driver could select a separate low gearset manually, so the shifter looks just like the one on the true two-speed Powerglide transmission). The Dynaflow/Turbine Drive wasted power, but it was smooooth. After 1963, Buick switched to the same Turbo-Hydramatic automatics used by the other GM divisions.

This car sat outdoors for many years with no glass, maybe several decades. GM B-body coupes of this period can be worth restoring, but this one would require a complete new interior from scratch.

The MSRP on this onetime cream puff was $3,293, or about $30,605 in 2022 dollars.

While the automatic transmission was standard on the ’62 LeSabre (as was the heater/defroster), buyers had to pay $116 (about $1,080 today) for this AM radio. Hey, if you wanted to listen to the #1 song of 1962 while driving your new Buick, you didn’t cheap out! Note the Civil Defense triangle-in-a-circle symbols at 640 and 1240 kHz; those indicated the frequencies of the CONELRAD system, which broadcast announcements in the event of a Soviet nuclear attack. All American-market car radios sold from 1953 through 1963 were required by federal law to have CONELRAD frequencies marked.

The original buyer of this car even paid 17 bucks extra ($158 today) for the optional rear speaker, and I’ll bet that clock wasn’t free.

Buick introduced the “VentiPorts” on fenders in 1949, and they came and went several times since then.

What does it take to be a Buick?


BMW 6 Series rumored to return in 2026 as 4 and 8 Series die

Australia’s Which Car ran a lengthy interview of BMW chief technical officer Frank Weber. The piece covered nearly every subject of interest to old and new BMW enthusiasts, from the automaker’s design direction to halo cars to keeping cars fresh when technology moves so much faster than vehicle generation cycles. Yet, of the more than 1,700 words in the piece, some 47 words that in a single paragraph have nothing to do with Weber have become the story: Rumor says that come 2026, BMW product planners will merge the 4 and 8 Series into a new 6 Series range. Said rumor predicts that the 8 Series Gran Coupe will be the last car standing out of both lineups. It will no longer be an 8 Series, though, as it will be absorbed into the 7 Series range.

If this comes true, it would be, as Shirley Bassey used to sing, “just little bits of history repeating.” The original 6 Series arrived in 1976, a shark-nosed icon of gorgeous badassery until 1989. The first breathtaking but slow-selling 8 Series appeared in 1990, holding on until continued slow sales forced BMW to kill it in 1999. The 6 Series returned in 2004, not as sharp as the first generation, but just as able to draw a very specific and devoted crowd. It would see a second generation, but BMW would eventually send the 6 back to its crypt in 2018 save for the sole survivor 6 Series GT, which was really just a renamed 5 Series GT. The Munich automaker then re-animated the 8 Series in 2018, also not as sharp as before, but even more slow-selling. So the rumor about a third act for the 6 Series, assuming it happens, would merely be the latest chapter in a decades-long saga. 

BMW Blog writes that it has heard this same nugget from its own sources. The death of the 4 Series, on the other hand, could be rationalized as an effect of coupe and convertible sales continuing their groundward trajectories. On the one hand, as BMW Blog points out, a lot is going to happen in the next four years in terms of technology and electrification, which could alter consumer tastes. On the other hand, 2026 is only four years away, so BMW is probably very close to a decision on what to do with the 4er.

Enthusiasts might also like to hear Weber say that the coming New Class (NKL) platform that will eventually support every BMW could easily create a path to “a highly-emotional model.” This could be the unicorn hybrid or electric halo car that whisperers won’t shut up about either as an i8 revival or a production version of the Vision M Next.

There’s a whole lot more to the interview, though, so don’t be afraid to hit up Which Car and give it a read.

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KTM X-Bow GT2 track car getting a road version

With the help of Dallara and the Kiska design firm, Austrian motorcycle maker KTM launched into a fun side gig making the track-day X-Bow (pronounced “crossbow”) in 2008. Promising not to make more than 100 per year to maintain focus and exclusivity, the past 14 years have seen 1,300 models sold as the lineup expanded to six models. The raciest of the range is the GT2, launched in 2020 as the “ultimate track weapon” to compete in GT2-class sports car racing. Autocar reports there’s seventh sibling on the way, with KTM currently in development of a road-legal version of the GT2. 

KTM has said the road car will keep the 176-pound carbon monocoque chassis and canopy cockpit enclosure, with a focus on safety and crashworthiness. The six-speed sequential transmission has already been jettisoned in the switch from hitting apexes to scraping curbs, replaced by a seven-speed direct shift gearbox. After that, though, we don’t know how much will change, if anything. This could end up being a race car with some side mirrors. Speaking of which, the pictured prototype doesn’t have side mirrors — but it does have a license plate holder — so KTM is either making mirrors a late addition or going with Euro-friendly cameras to provide rear views.

As to power, whereas the less aggro X-Bows make 300 horsepower from an Audi-sourced 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder, the GT2 makes 600 hp and 531 pound-feet of torque from its Audi-sourced 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder. That’s the engine from the rather excellent Audi RS3, making 401 hp and 369 lb-ft in its Ingolstadt application. KTM credits the work of German tuner Lehmann Motorentechnik for the power boost, achieved without having to resort to forged internals, and it would be cool to see all those horses escape from track to street. In a car that weighs less than 1,050 pound dry, owners would be treated to a special kind of gumption.

The X-Bow GT2 costs €294,000 ($327,500 U.S.), that seems like a reasonable starting point for a road version. The first customers are expected to get their keys sometime next year.


Toyota Lunar Cruiser will boldly go where no RAV4 or Camry has gone before

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota is working with Japan’s space agency on a vehicle to explore the lunar surface, with ambitions to help people live on the moon by 2040 and then go live on Mars, company officials said Friday.

The vehicle being developed with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is called Lunar Cruiser, whose name pays homage to the Toyota Land Cruiser. Its launch is set for the late 2020’s.

The vehicle is based on the idea that people eat, work, sleep and communicate with others safely in cars, and the same can be done in space, said Takao Sato, who heads the Lunar Cruiser project at Toyota Motor Corp.

“We see space as an area for our once-in-a-century transformation. By going to space, we may be able to develop telecommunications and other technology that will prove valuable to human life,” Sato told The Associated Press.

Gitai Japan Inc., a venture contracted with Toyota, has developed a robotic arm for the Lunar Cruiser, designed to perform tasks such as inspection and maintenance. Its “grapple fixture” allows the arm’s end to be changed so it can work like different tools, scooping, lifting and sweeping.

Gitai Chief Executive Sho Nakanose said he felt the challenge of blasting off into space has basically been met but working in space entails big costs and hazards for astronauts. That’s where robots would come in handy, he said.

Since its founding in the 1930s, Toyota has fretted about losing a core business because of changing times. It has ventured into housing, boats, jets and robots. Construction on its net-connected sustainable living quarters near Mount Fuji, called Woven City, is starting this year.

Japanese fascination with the moon has been growing.

A private Japanese venture called ispace Inc. is working on lunar rovers, landing and orbiting, and is scheduled for a moon landing later this year. Businessman Yusaku Maezawa, who recently took videos of himself floating around in the International Space Station, has booked an orbit around the moon aboard SpaceX’s Starship.

Toyota engineer Shinichiro Noda said he is excited about the lunar project, an extension of the automaker’s longtime mission to serve customers and the moon may provide valuable resources for life on Earth.

“Sending our cars to the moon is our mission,” he said. Toyota has vehicles almost everywhere. “But this is about taking our cars to somewhere we have never been.”

The lunar rovers used during the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions were in part developed by General Motors. 


‘Rocket League’s’ latest event is very neon | Gaming Roundup

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This week in racing game news:

‘Rocket League’ Neon Nights event starts now!

The latest “Rocket League” event is here and it’s theme is … well, to be honest the theme is basically just the musical artist Grimes. Apparently, the singer has been working on some kind of space opera concept album, and this event is a tie-in to that. Like most events, it brings with it new challenges, a new limited-time mode called Heatseeker Ricochet and new unlockables, this time called Golden Moons, but essentially still just the same old definitely-not-lootboxes that you know and love. In addition to the unlockable event items, the “Rocket League” team is also celebrating the Lunar New Year with a free “Year of the Tiger” Bundle in the item shop, featuring a Tiny Tiger Topper and Tyger Decal. The event is on right now and ends on Feb. 8.

Unlockable Event Items:

  • Gravitator Topper
  • Space Queen Topper
  • Braided Trail
  • GRIMES Decal
  • GRIMES Wheels
  • GRIMES Player Banner
  • Fireworks (Multichrome) Universal Decal
  • Uncanny Boost
  • “Player of Games – GRIMES” Player Anthem
  • “Shinigami Eyes – GRIMES” Player Anthem

Monster Trucks are coming to ‘Hot Wheels Unleashed’

Mattel and Milestone have announced a new upcoming expansion pack for “Hot Wheels Unleashed” all about Monster Trucks. The pack will include five new vehicles, a new Track Builder Module, new customization items for your in-game basement and the Player’s Profile, and a brand-new racing environment: the Stop Motion Studio. The expansion will be included in the Hot Wheels Pass Vol. 2 and available for purchase separately starting on April 21. We’ll keep you updated with more information as it’s available.


‘Circuit Superstars’ is now available on PS4

“Circuit Superstars” is a charming top-down Micro Machine-like racer that’s been available on PC and Xbox for a few months now. We’ve played the game on our weekly livestream and found it challenging but fun. Starting right now, you’ll also be able to play the game on Playstation 4, with a Nintendo Switch version slated for a Q2 release later this year as well. Impressively, the game features cross-play, meaning you’ll be able to play with your friends regardless of what system they’re using. If you’re a PS player who has been itching for some miniature-sized racing, this game is well worth a look. 


2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid, Mercedes SL and EQS | Autoblog Podcast #714

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by contributor Brett Berk. They talk about driving the plug-in hybrid 2022 Bentley Flying Spur, the Mercedes-Benz SL and EQS, and the Ford Bronco. They also have a discussion about design and the craft of writing.

Send us your questions for the Mailbag and Spend My Money at: [email protected]

Autoblog Podcast #714

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  • Cars we’re driving
    • 2022 Bentley Flying Spur
    • 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL
    • 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS
    • 2022 Ford Bronco
  • Automotive design
  • Automotive writing


Autoblog is now live on your smart speakers and voice assistants with the audio Autoblog Daily Digest. Say “Hey Google, play the news from Autoblog” or “Alexa, open Autoblog” to get your favorite car website in audio form every day. A narrator will take you through the biggest stories or break down one of our comprehensive test drives.

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2022 Range Rover lineup gets big price cuts, small increases

Land Rover is still fleshing out specifics of 2022 Range Rover pricing, because much has changed in the world since our last post on Range Rover MSRPs. The amounts on a couple of trims have gone down by at least $3,000, the rest have all gone up by $450. Plus we finally have numbers for the super-luxe SV trims (pictured) that will be available on the base model and the flagship long-wheelbase model, both those trims seating five (the Range Rover Long Wheelbase Seven Seat resides between those two trims). Prices for each model and their MSRP changes, including the $1,350 destination charge, are: 

  • Range Rover: $102,350 ($3,180 less)
  • Range Rover Autobiography: $153,800 ($450 increase)
  • Range Rover First Edition: $160,000 ($450 increase)
  • Range Rover SV: $188,200
  • Range Rover LWB 7 Seats: $108,350 ($3,000 less)
  • Range Rover LWB 7 Seats Autobiography: $155,800 ($450 increase)
  • Range Rover LWB Autobiography: $157,800 ($450 increase)
  • Range Rover LWB First Edition: $165,300 ($450 increase)
  • Range Rover LWB SV: $211,200

To recap, the entry-level Range Rover comes equipped with fancy kit like 21-inch wheels, LED exterior lighting, a sliding panoramic roof, leather upholstery, heated and 20-way power-adjustable front seats, heated and power-reclining rear seats, a Meridian sound system, and a 13.1-inch touchscreen. Signing up for the Autobiography adds gear such as 22-inch wheels, black brake calipers, trim-specific exterior emblems, 24-way heated and cooled front seats that can give you a hot stone massage, what Land Rover refers to as Executive Class Comfort rear seats, a head-up display, and a better sound system, among other features. The limited-sale, First Edition models benefit from leather cushions in the tailgate and an 11.4-inch rear-seat entertainment system.

The SV version is available on short- and long-wheelbase models with the twin-turbo 538-horsepower V8, and it unlocks a wealth of customization options. Land Rover says the SV can be worked up into 1.6 million combinations. Interior materials are where the SV really stands out, the ceramic trims in particular. With these, the shifter, drive mode selector and volume knob have ceramic surfaces in black or white and gloss or satin finishes. Buyers can even opt to have mosaic pattern-embossed ceramic panels in place of some of the wood and metal trim in the cabin. Traditional materials are still available, and they receive special attention, too. The wood trim can be had with marquetry inlays. Super soft semi- and near-aniline leathers are available, and buyers can have the front and rear seats finished in different colors. If you don’t want animal skin on your seats, Land Rover will also offer a polyurethane faux leather, another wild sign of the times.

Under that clamshell bonnet, the P400 models get a 3.0-liter inline-six making 395 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, backed up by a 48-volt mild hybrid system. The P530 antes up to a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 sourced from Land Rover’s new (again) German partner, BMW. The eight-pot produces 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque as the range-topper, the 4.4 sprinting to 60 miles per hour in a nice, square 4.4 seconds. The PHEV trims are up for order now, mating Jaguar-Land Rover’s Ingenium inline-six engine with a 38.2 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and a 105-kilowatt (~140 hp) electric motor for a combined output of 434 horsepower. Land Rover says it will be capable of speeds up to 87 mph on electric power alone and offer 62 miles of pure-electric driving.

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