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The News for November 6th, 2015

Greg Kachadurian November 6, 2015 SEMA, The News! 17 Comments


Welcome to the Hooniverse News – sort-of 2015 SEMA Show recap! It’s only sort-of a SEMA Show recap because quite a bit of news happened outside of the annual gathering in Las Vegas as well. Plus I’m only covering the SEMA Show cars I liked. But as always, this is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. I just throw in a little opinion of mine because I can. This week:

  • Mazda brings two driver-focused MX-5 concepts, wins the show

  • Lexus debuts an actual race car, will race in GT3 next year

  • Chevrolet offers powerful LT4 V8 as a crate engine, shown in a classic

  • Acura shows off restored 1993 Legend owned and loved by Ludacris

  • Jeep to honor 50 years of Moab Easter Jeep Safari with limited Wrangler

  • Dodge breaks multiple track records with the Viper ACR

  • Hyundai spinning off Genesis into separate luxury brand

  • Cadillac CT6 arrives in dealers next March, priced to compete

  • George Barris, 1925-2015

  • What’s your automotive news?

Mazda MX-5 Spyder and Speedster


I’ll just go ahead and start this sort-of SEMA Show recap properly by talking about these two beauties first. Mazda had two custom ND MX-5s on display in Vegas, both of which take slightly different approaches to the pure, lightweight sports car philosophy we all love so dearly. The only thing harder than deciding which is your favorite will be accepting that these are only one-off design concepts, at least for now.

Ever since the MX-5’s first debut in 1989, it’s been about nothing but lightweight, fun-to-drive, open-top perfection with every iteration they’ve built. The purpose of these two concepts is to demonstrate what could happen if Mazda’s designers were told to take everything right with the MX-5 and take it all to the extreme. Using vintage roadsters as inspiration and the wonderful new fourth-generation MX-5 platform as a base, they took it to the extreme alright.


The MX-5 Spyder and Speedster are “uncompromising designs that highlight the core strengths of the MX-5” in strikingly different ways. For instance, only one of them actually has a roof or a even windscreen. The one that does is the Spyder, which is best described as a modern, sophisticated interpretation of a vintage roadster. It has a bikini top (as they call it… I swear) developed by American Sunroof Corporation and crafted with fine fabric from Haartz. Apart from the special top, it has custom Mercury Silver paint, a carbon fiber aero kit, a new grille intake, tonneau cover, Yokohama ADVAN Racing RS II wheels, and Spinneybeck “Prima” natural leather inside.


The MX-5 Speedster is a bit… crazier. It goes back to the essentials for a true wind-in-the-hair driving experience by making sure there’s as little between the wind and your hair as possible. It’s ditched a normal windscreen in favor of a small deflector and the complete absence of a roof. Being a more focused machine, it gets lighter RAYS Extreme Gram Lights wheels, adjustable coilovers, a Racing Beat center-mounted exhaust, an Alcantara interior, carbon fiber Mu-Len Delta seats, and carbon fiber doors. With all of that, this MX-5 Speedster weighs just 2,080 pounds – 250 pounds less than the standard car. The awesome paint color on this one is called Blue Ether.

With everyone else bringing at least half a dozen custom cars to SEMA, it speaks volumes that Mazda was able to out-cool pretty much all of them with two cars built to be driven. Right on.

[Source: Mazda]

Lexus RC F GT3

lexus-rc-f-gt3-001-1 (1)

Moving from race cars for the street to a race car for the track, Lexus was at SEMA with the [almost] track-ready RC F GT3 racecar among other things. This follows an RC F GT3 concept that debuted last year only now it’s a full-fledged, FIA compliant weapon which will be unleashed at tracks starting next year. It’s also the subject of what might be the worst press photo I’ve come across.

To get this Predator-faced beast to the track by 2016, Lexus partnered with Paul Gentilozzi and newly formed F Performance Racing to field the new GT3-spec car. Lexus has not yet commented on which racing series it will compete in, but that announcement is coming soon. They’ve already got at least one driver lined up and it’s arguably the best they’ve got access to, that being sports car legend Scott Pruett. He’s been nabbed from Chip Ganassi Racing who will be running the Ford GT Le Mans car next year. It’s hard to believe why someone would want to leave that gig, but he did say “when Lexus left motorsports, I pledged to them that I would be there to help them return when that time came”. A terrific driver and a man of his word.

As for the car, it has a production-derived 5.0-liter V8 delivering over 500 horsepower (or whatever regulations require) and is paired with a six-speed sequential gearbox. It weighs in at 2,866 pounds and has enough aero to certainly look like a proper racecar. The RC F GT3 will have a limited scheduled for 2016 so they can focus on team and vehicle development and a full scheduled will follow in 2017. It looks like Lexus is serious about sports car racing again.

[Source: Lexus]

Chevrolet LT4 Crate Engine

1970 Chevrolet Camaro RS with Supercharged LT4

Chevrolet debuted their new LT4 crate engine, their most powerful one yet, at the SEMA Show in a car that’s quite a bit different than most others on display. By different, I mean old. Chevrolet used a custom 1970 Camaro RS to showcase their latest and greatest power plant.

The LT4 crate engine is a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 and it allows anyone with the money and the willpower to summon Corvette Z06 power in whatever they can fit the block in. With 650 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque on tap, this is the most powerful engine in any street legal car GM has ever built. Dry-sump and wet-sump versions are available.

2015 "LT4" 6.2L V-8 AFM VVT DI SC (LT4)

This 1970 Camaro RS shows off its furiously beating heart with a full range of supporting modifications. To give that power somewhere to go, the engine is paired with a T-56 Super Magnum six-speed manual transmission. Substantial handling upgrades include rack-and-pinion steering, independent front and four-link rear suspension with coilovers all around, and C7 Z06 brakes.

It’s a beauty, too. Chevrolet chose Hyper Blue Metallic for the exterior, a paint option offered on the new Camaro, and then added classic white stripes. It rolls on nineteen-inch polished aluminum wheels and has full LED lighting for a modern touch.

The LT4 crate engine will be available in the 2016 Chevrolet Performance parts catalog with prices starting at around $15,600.

[Source: Chevrolet, Autoweek]

Acura restores Ludacris’ 1993 Legend

It may not be obvious, but Chris “Ludacris” Bridges is a gear head. He’s also a world-famous hip hop icon and star in the Fast & Furious franchise, but at heart he’s got a soft spot for his 1993 Acura Legend. Go ahead and try to find another celebrity that still has a twenty-two year old car… it won’t be easy.

At some point during his rise to success, he bought the car and used it very well, racking up over 280,000 miles on his way to becoming an icon. He never got rid of it and he never stopped using it. It’s even on the cover of his latest album. That’s what brings us to this story coming out of SEMA this week. After that photoshoot, the Legend was hit in traffic and suffered substantial damage to the rear quarter panel and passenger door.

Being as impressed as we are that he kept the car for all that time, Acura stepped in and offered to restore it to factory spec. At some point along the way however, Acura’s restoration team got bored and decided to add some additional touches that he would approve of. Other than being factory fresh again, it now has a custom sound system, Apple CarPlay, eighteen-inch RAYS wheels wrapped in Brigestone Potenza tires, lowering springs from H&R, more powerful brakes, and fresh paint to top it off.

You can see a video on the build and the genuine reaction from Ludacris above. It’s cool to see this kind of reaction from a man who was once seen throwing money from a Ferrari Enzo FXX… that may have just been a movie, but still.

[Source: Acura via Autoweek]

Jeep Wrangler Red Rock concept


One company that’s not shy about rolling out dozens of concepts at once is Jeep. This year they brought out one in particular which is catching attention, that being the Wranger Red Rock concept. It’s a little bit different this time around because Jeep will actually produce a limited edition Wrangler based off this concept to celebrate the upcoming 50th Moab Easter Jeep Safari, hosted by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers club from which the concept gets its name.

This concept is based on a Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock, the Red Rock benefits from Dana 44 solid front and rear axles, a Rock-Trac transfer case with a 4.10 axle ratio, Tru-Lok electronic locking differentials, a 73.1:1 crawl ratio with a manual transmission, a power dome vented hood, rock rails, and tow hooks right off the bat. On top of that, the Red Rock adds low gloss Granite Crystal off-road bumpers, two-inch lift kit, seventeen-inch beadlock wheels wrapped in BFG K02 all-terrain tires, LED lighting, a Jeep branded CB radio, and various other reinforced components. There are also a bunch of new exterior and interior styling touches as well, but it’s not yet known how much of any of this will make it to the 50 models they have planned for production.

[Sourc: Jeep]


Dodge has done something incredible with the new Viper ACR. In a nationwide Tour de ‘Merica, they brought the insane Viper ACR to thirteen race tracks with the sole purpose of seeing what would happen. With one of their factory development drivers at the wheel, they set new production car lap records at all thirteen tracks. Auburn Hills’ beast managed to take down some pretty impressive competitors, but then again the Viper ACR is an impressive machine in its own right with a 645 horsepower V10 and all kinds of adjustable aero and suspension components. The Viper ACR is an amazing car slowly being consigned to history by its own creators, so at least it’s going out with glory.

[Source: FCA]


Euisun Chung, Hyundai’s vice chairman, stands in front of a sign

Hyundai wants to get into the luxury car business, more so than they already have. The Korean brand’s first taste of the luxury lifestyle came with the Genesis sedan from several years back which enough people actually bought. Signifying that people were willing to buy a great car from a brand known more for its economy cars, Hyundai kept making the Genesis better and better. Following an announcement this week, the Genesis will once again take them where they’ve never been before: their very own stand-alone luxury brand, aptly named Genesis. It will operate alongside Hyundai in a similar way that Lexus does with Toyota, Infiniti does with Nissan, and so on. The winged badge found on the Genesis sedan will be slightly redesigned to serve as the badge for the entire Genesis brand. Genesis will officially launch this December and six new models before 2020 will help the company take off. I’ll keep you posted…

[Source: Hyundai]


Cadillac’s new range-topping CT6 will be arriving at dealerships in America with an MSRP of $53,495. The entry level Cadillac Touring 6 is equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-banger and more luxury features than any Caddy flagship before it. For $55,495, you can upgrade to the 3.6-liter V6 with all-wheel-drive or the top-of-the-line 3.0-liter twin turbocharged V6 with 400 horsepower and AWD for $64,395. Among the many new features is a more rigid, lighter architecture which is complemented by various ride control technologies to make this as comfortable and efficient as possible. It’s also packed with tech like a Rear Camera Mirror, night vision, and a 34-speaker Bose Panaray audio system. If you want some modern American luxury, this might be the way to go.

[Source: Cadillac]

George Barris, 1925-2015


It’s not very often that I include a Hoonobituary in the news, but for this man it’s worth it. George Barris, the legendary custom car builder, has passed away. He was 89.

He became famous for his custom cars ranging from outrageous to gorgeous. Perhaps his most famous work was on the original Batmobile which graced TV screens all around the world, but he was also responsible for many other custom cars designed for TV, movies, and important people. He had a huge impact on car culture and has some of the most recognizable work around. He is survived by a son, daughter, and grandson and will be sorely missed by all.

[Source: KPCC | Image © 2015 Hooniverse/Rob Emslie]

What’s your automotive news?


With all that said, it’s your turn. If you saw anything, drove something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything news worthy that you’d like to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.

  • P161911

    With Barris’ penchant for self promotion, I have to wonder if he somehow planned his demise for the week of SEMA.

  • ramLlama

    Lots of great news this week. Thanks Greg!

    1) The Mazda concepts look great. I have always found Mazda’s enthusiasm refreshing, especially coming from a company much smaller and less powerful than the others.

    2) It’s really nice to see Ludacris baby his Legend so much. Gives a real humanity to him. I don’t care for hip-hop much, but he seems to have done well for himself without losing himself compared to many of the early stars.

    3) That ACR record is really nice! And I even saw one on the road a week ago. The first one I have ever seen, I think. It’s sad that the vehicle doesn’t do that well, but I hope Dodge keeps it around as a Halo car.

    4) Regarding Hyundai and Genesis, if you cannot beat ’em, join ’em, eh? I am surprised you didn’t mention the Equus Greg, as I think that is the true Luxury car. Luxury is all about status and symbolism, which means you start up top, not at the bottom. Spinning off Genesis is the right move. I wish them luck.

    5) The George Barris opuses were always very creative and eye-catching. A sad loss.

    As for my own news, I finally put on some winter tires since temperatures last week were hovering around 40F. And today, it is 70. Sigh…These Pittsburgh hills confound any and all weather models. Still, these tires are far more comfortable than my summer ones, despite being less precise.

  • Citric

    I have to somehow convince a stubborn elderly woman (my mom) to give a Toyota Venza a go, because while it might be incredibly boring to me, it was clearly designed with grandmas in mind.

  • So Ludicris has a ’93 Legend; a car only one developmental generation removed from the Rover 800.

    My name is Chris, too. I’ve never felt more Hip Hop than I do now.

    • Rover 1

      I believe that this is described as ‘clutching at straws’. 🙂

    • mve

      I believe that is the definition of ludicrous.

  • jeepjeff

    Rest in Peace, Mr. Barris. Whether it was the Munstermobiles or the Bearcat, I loved his customs.

    As far as my news, I have an update for the FZ-07. I went back to the DMV yesterday, and I now have a clear path to registration. The lady at the Hayward DMV was not only unfriendly and rude, she was actively unhelpful. On the first trip, I presented the paperwork I had, and rather than point out where one of the forms was incomplete (PO failed to sign it), she told me I needed a form that I couldn’t get. Not only that, but the PO couldn’t get it, nor anyone else in the chain of ownership from the insurance company on. Why? It was a dealership only form that had to be special ordered. Also, because no one in the chain of custody was a licensed dealer, none of us could fill it out correctly anyway. You know, since it had required fields for things like dealership number.

    So, I went home worried that I had been given an impossible paperwork task by the DMV. I went home, pared down the paperwork to just the chain of custody, noticed the incomplete vehicle/vessel transfer form, hassled the OP to finish filling it out (fortunately, I had a good excuse to head down his way), and made a solid guess that what I needed to do was re-apply for the title with the correct chain of custody.

    Went back, but this time to the Oakland Coliseum DMV, and had a much better experience. They won’t accept the bill of sale that I got from the PO, so I need to go back and get him to sign a different form, but the lady helping me walked me through it, and made sure I had a copy of the right paperwork. After this, I just need to get the CHP to look at it (I have an appointment in a couple weeks), and then a return to the DMV. I’m happy. Also, I got a two month temporary operating permit, so I can ride it while I finish getting the paperwork sorted.

    Lesson for Bay Area Hoons: go to the Oakland Coliseum DMV when you need to sit in the uncomfortable plastic chairs. Everyone I’ve dealt with there has been friendly and helpful. I have had bad experiences everywhere else (even if it was just a stressed out, pissed off at everyone clerk who resentfully dealt with me).

  • longrooffan

    I saw a new Suzuki Baby SUV about an hour ago. In a small town of less than a thousand population.

    • Fuhrman16

      A new Suzuki? They left the U.S. market three-four years ago.

      • longrooffan

        No,as I look around, I realize it is not a new one afterall, although the one I saw today did have paper plates..The one I saw was gray in color and believe me, I will be keeping an eye for in the future…

      • Sjalabais

        My closest neighbor – we share parts of our 30 degree driveway – went from an Audi 80 Quattro wagon to a Suzuki Liana, to this. His automobile cool curve made a massive dip before a minuscule recovery, I’d say, but I wouldn’t blame him.

  • longrooffan

    Also, while I respect and admire Scott Pruett (“Hi to my family” at every interview) and he is a damn fine race car driver, his move to Lexus may not be as altruistic as it appears on the surface. He has long mentioned winning his 6th Rolex24 at Daytona before he retires, thus breaking his current tie at 5 victories with legendary Hurley Haywood. Not that I don’t respect his move to Lexus and Paul Gentilozzi based on his quest to win another 24. Afterall, at 55 years old he has got to see retirement in the not so distant future. But something inside me believes that had Chip Ganassi not moved over to the new Ford GT from the Riley built, Ford powered DP, we might have seen him behind the wheel of the #1 again in 2016. Either way, I wish Scott all the best and look forward to the upcoming Weather Tech sponsored season.

  • I think I finally have figured out why the ti lurches when I take off. A consensus is building (from the 318ti forum and my friend who was a chassis engineer at Honda) that it’s something rubber because it’s intermittent and occurs less in the cold. That, coupled with the huge oil leak which has coated the bottom of the engine and trans. Oil exposure does bad things to rubber parts and, though not torn, the transmission mounts were pretty spongy when I was under the car checking things.

    So, this weekend the oil leak should be corrected and new motor and trans mounts have been ordered. Hopefully that will put and end to it.

  • nanoop

    The decision to pull the engine is growing on me… List of issues it doesn’t have: rear seal, head gasket, cam tower gasket, oil pan gasket. Crank bearings are unknown.

  • The MX5 in a bikini stopped me in my tracks. A colleague reported I was standing there with my mouth open. I’m not even sure I registered the blue one.

  • hove102

    Obsessed with those MX5 concepts. The Speedster is currently my laptop wallpaper, and for good reason (I think). Also, “mad respect” (as the youths are saying) to Ludacris for holding on to that gem of a Legend.

    My car news is that I have a ’99 Outback (no, I am not a woman; yes, I have two German Shepherds) that I’m doing some exterior trim repair on. Currently lusting after a mid-2000’s Impreza WRX or an unmolested NA Miata.