Welcome to the Hooniverse News! This is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. Just a little opinion of mine because I can. This week:
Toyota reveals its awesome 2014 Le Mans entry
Hennessey to sell special edition Venom GT to celebrate its madness
Chevrolet reveals their pace car for this year’s Indy 500
Ford to recreate famous Empire State Building stunt with new Mustang
BMW will probably build an X7, shocks no one
Toyota Racing TS040 Hybrid
Toyota Racing has revealed the car they’ll be riding into battle with for the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship. It’s called the TS040 Hybrid and it not only launches Toyota Racing into a new era but also hybrid racing as well, as Toyota calls it the most advanced hybrid racecar on the track today. It also has both prototype entries from Audi and Porsche square in its sights.
As the Hybrid in its name designates, the TS040 has two motors that will work together to reduce fuel consumption to meet the FIA’s strict new rules on efficiency. Just because it’s a hybrid though doesn’t mean there’s nothing exciting about it. The two engines of choice are a naturally-aspirated 3.7-liter V8 built in-house and rated at about 512 horsepower which is paired with an electric motor/generator which can recover energy under braking and then return up to 473 horsepower on its own to all four wheels. That means total system output for this hybrid Toyota is approximately 985 horsepower.
This comes from a car which is supposed to be at least 25% more efficient compared to last year per regulations, which they say is accomplished through aerodynamic, powertrain, and driving style efficiencies. Efficiency through more power is our kind of efficiency.
The TS040’s improved aerodynamics is the responsibility of Toyota Motorsport in Cologne who designed and built the chassis. Focusing on the airflow around the car for the purpose of both drag reduction and downforce for better grip, they feel they have the right balance to get the job done. Its entire body is made from an advanced composite material which reduces the car’s overall weight for even better efficiency.
Toyota Motorsport has been hard at work testing every component of the TS040 with over 18,000 kilometers (11,184+ miles) logged during its twelve days of testing which began at Paul Ricard.
Toyota’s TS040 will make its first racing debut at the Six Hours of Silverstone on April 20th with Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima in the number seven car and Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sébastien Buemi in the number eight car. The big race where it all really matters, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, is on June 14th.
[Source: Toyota Motorsport]
Hennessey Venom GT WFE
Knowing Hennessey as well as most of us do, the acronym “WFE” can really only mean one thing. Think Hennessey Venom GT on its top speed run of 270.49 mph at the Kennedy Space Center to claim the unofficial record for fastest series-produced road car. Yep, really only one thing. Hennessey has announced a special edition model to celebrate this unofficial accomplishment called the Venom GT World’s Fastest Edition.
When an American car (not including the Lotus body) sets an unofficial speed record on the same runway that the space shuttle used to land on, that calls for a paint scheme that would make America proud. Each WFE is white with red and blue stripes because America. The Venom GT WFE proudly carries the same killer engine that got it the title in the first place – a monstrous 7.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 which produces 1,244 horsepower in an elongated Lotus Elise shell which in total weighs just 2,743 pounds.
If the 270.49 mph top speed wasn’t impressive enough because it’s unofficial, then note that it does have the official record for fastest standing-start acceleration. That was earned when it went from zero to 186 mph in only 13.63 seconds, or faster than most cars do 0-100 mph.
Only three Hennessey Venom GT World’s Fastest Edition models will ever be built and they have already been sold. But for the bargain price of $1.1 million (hardtop) or $1.2 million (spyder), you can still get a hold of this record setting car in non WFE form.
[Source: Hennessey via Autoweek]
Chevrolet’s next Indy 500 pace car
With every Indianapolis 500 comes a new official pace car which automakers like to show off. Chevrolet has always used this opportunity to bring out their newest hot rod and slap “Official Pace Car” stickers on it so the millions of people watching the race can ignore it while they use the caution flags as a bathroom break. With the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 less than two months away, Chevrolet revealed which of their new toys gets stuck with pace car duty.
Fittingly enough, it’s the 2014 Camaro Z/28, a hardcore track-ready version of one of America’s most beloved machines. This Z/28 is only the eighth Camaro to ever be honored with this duty since the first one in 1967. What’s even more fitting is who will be driving it on race day, recently retired and admired Indy car champion Dario Franchitti, who has won the race himself three times. It’ll be interesting to see how disciplined he is when presented with the keys to a 505 horsepower track weapon in its natural habitat. And maybe this time the extra electronics won’t ignite the car in front of millions again.
Ford to recreate famous Empire State Building stunt
About fifty years ago, Ford pulled off an amazing and famous stunt to help announce the first ever Mustang in New York City. The stunt involved disassembling a prototype Mustang Convertible into three main pieces so that it could fit into the elevators of the Empire State Building and get lifted all the way to the observation deck on the 86th floor.
To celebrate the Mustang’s 50th birthday this April, Ford will be recreating that stunt with the new 2015 Mustang Convertible. Engineers are already hard at work figuring out exactly how to disassemble the now much larger Mustang, which is seven inches longer and four inches wider than the original, to fit it in the original elevators for transport all the way up to the top. Once the pieces are delivered to the 86th floor observation deck, technicians will have less than six hours to reassemble the whole thing to display high above the streets of Manhattan.
This will all go down… I mean up on April 16th. The general public will have from 8AM to 2PM that day and the next (April 16-17) to see the Mustang Convertible in all its glory.
For a while, people have been anticipating a BMW X7, an SUV which would become BMW’s largest to date, to become a reality. It only makes sense, given BMW’s love of producing whatever the hell they can with their given platform and nomenclature. If they notice some digits are still available in the X line, they’ll make a car for it. Some sources are suggesting that BMW could announce the X7 today, and given BMW’s habit of revealing everything hours after the News goes live I probably won’t be able to really cover this. But honestly, it’s predictable at this point.
The BMW X7 would be a bit bigger than the X5, likely share its drivetrain options (or at least the V8), would be available with xDrive all-wheel drive, would come available or standard with tons of luxury and tech options, and would be available with different “Lines” (trim levels) including one with an M badge or two. If the announcement of an SUV we all pretty much know everything about already excites you, keep your eyes peeled on BMWBLOG today because they will certainly be one of the first to cover it. And who knows, maybe BMW will surprise us one day (they won’t).