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The News for April 6th, 2018

Greg Kachadurian April 6, 2018 The News! 66 Comments

Welcome to the Hooniverse News! 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:

  • TVR announces partnership with Rebellion Racing in LMP1

  • More Alfa Romeo Giulia coupe rumors paint an awesome picture

  • Report: SUVs are about to kill the Impala and Taurus

  • What’s your automotive news?

TVR returns to endurance racing

That whole “TVR is coming back to life” thing just got a bit more serious. TVR has announced their role as the automotive partner to Rebellion Racing who will be competing in the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship this season. It’s the first time TVR has been involved in motorsport in over a decade. An LMP1 entry in WEC’s super season is a hell of a way to make a comeback.

Even though the TVR name is on the car, there probably isn’t anything TVR in the car just yet. The car is built on an Oreca chassis and has a series-compliant Gibson V8. In fact, the whole thing was developed and revealed before TVR was even announced as a partner. Though there may not be any parts sharing, there’s certainly some knowledge transfer going on that should benefit TVR’s upcoming Griffith road car.

Les Edgar, Chairman of TVR, explains: “When we resurrected the TVR brand, we knew that we wanted to achieve a return to the race track. Our partnership with Rebellion Racing allows us to achieve that goal, while bringing about valuable operational and technical knowledge, which directly transfers to our road car operation and future racing activities.”

TVR hasn’t been to Le Mans since 2005 but that changes this June and next June thanks to WEC’s 2018-2019 super season. If it’s going to be anything like last year’s race, all they have to do is survive longer than everyone else and they’ll win.

Also, Griffith GT3 when?

[Source: TVR]

Alfa Romeo Giulia coupe rumored again

It wasn’t very long ago that rumors of a Giulia-based coupe first surfaced, but there’s already more leaks reigniting our curiosity. This one again comes from Autocar who reports two possible powertrains for what may be called the Giulia Sprint and a potential for a 2019 launch.

Grains of salt and such, but such a car could launch with the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine used across the board at Alfa and the almighty Quadrifoglio’s twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6… but with a twist. Standard output of that engine is a cool 505 horsepower, but an F1-style energy recovery system could bump that up to 641 horsepower.

Alfa Romeo did just partner with Sauber F1 so that almost seems logical. Kinetic-based generator units have been on the market for several years now and heat-based units (which recover energy from exhaust gasses in the turbo) are starting to follow. Any one (or both) of those units could make for a fine powertrain when paired with that V6.

Whether any of that comes true or not is anyone’s guess but it sure is fun to speculate.

[Source: Autocar]

Report: Days are numbered for Chevrolet Impala and Ford Taurus

As crossovers and SUVs continue to dominate the marketplace, two iconic large sedans and two subcompacts from Ford and Chevrolet are on death row according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

The two biggest names that are reportedly being discontinued are Chevrolet’s Impala and Ford’s Taurus after sales of those models have plummeted by 36% and 25% respectively over the past year. The large car segment in general is down 12% while anything that even somewhat resembles a crossover is surging.

Even the smaller cars are being impacted by this. We’ve believed for a while that Ford is not bringing the new Fiesta to America, but now one of its rivals is getting the boot as well. Chevrolet’s Sonic – which in fact does still exist – could be axed as early as this year.

Spokespeople for both Ford and Chevrolet commented with the typical “these cars are an important part of our portfolio” statement while certainly struggling to keep a straight face. All four of these cars will be dead in America and nobody will miss them – until gas prices spike again and everyone realizes you still get shit mileage with most crossovers and automakers scramble to build cars again, because that exact scenario was so much fun a decade ago. Buckle up, buckaroos.

[Source: WSJ via Autoweek]

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 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]

  • Sjalabais

    That Giulia coupé illustration is just exquisite. I can visualize like I have never done before.

    Also, half-yearly “change your cabin filter”-reminder: Toyota above, Honda below. Ugh.

    https://i.imgur.com/jNcl2KM.jpg

    https://i.imgur.com/qMEZA1Q.jpg

    • Fred

      Yea I remember the first time I changed mine after 2 years, looked a lot worse than yours. Not to mention a squirrel got in there and I had a bunch of acorns. Changed it every 6 monthes after that.

      • Sjalabais

        I am going to remember that squirrel. Wow.

    • My vehicles are not subject to the demands of cabin filters, clear coat paint, or roadworthiness and/or emissions inspections, but other than that you have my complete sympathy.

      • Alff

        I’ve never replaced a cabin filter although I’m told by those who should know that a few of my cars have them. I bet they’re gross.

        • Sjalabais

          It’s a satisfying, very simple, tool-free job in most cars and AliExpress will ship the right filter to you for sofa change. I use this routine thing mostly to reward myself with beer and chocolate on good conscience.

  • For $300 OBO you, too, can enjoy the vehicle once described by Chris Haining as “…the most moronic looking vehicle I have ever seen. And I’m in England.” This Zap Xebra, however, is in Washington:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e6fbc744b7630524147ceecbcc28b0b69d89e5cbfb6ac3740da75b1f5a591521.jpg

    https://seattle.craigslist.org/sno/cto/d/zap-zebra/6549088841.html

    • I can’t believe you’re not all over this…

      • I’m not sure but I believe the seller may be the same guy to whom I traded my MGB for my HMV Freeway. Granite Falls is the right town and I think I recognize that fence.

        • Rover 1

          ” Oh, I don’t know. Weird little green cars, woefully inadequate EVs, and fully enclosed three-wheelers aren’t really my thing.”

          WHEN they’re all combined in the one car.

          Seperate those features out and I’m all over them.

        • I, for one, never forget a fence .

    • tonyola

      That’s up there with the SAIL-Badal from India for bonkers ugliness. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b146ab5722be303d1bb1c40bb9d7bbe8665553fcb1b3ed42a54de07ad34f82e2.jpg

      • Vairship

        Somebody got a hold of a Reliant Robin and didn’t let go?

    • smalleyxb122

      I thought the Xebras were all recalled to be crushed.

      • I think the ’06 Xebras such as this one had more or less the same brake problems that led to the recall and mandatory destruction of the ’08s, but in addition the ’06s had unique issues arising from poor waterproofing of the electrical system, so of course they were allowed to survive.

        Maybe I should go look at it after all.

  • Citric

    So now that we’re in the “can everything remotely fuel efficient” part of the product cycle I should probably stockpile gas for the inevitable giant price spike.

  • Batshitbox

    I bought a van! A 1991 Econoline 250 that formerly belonged to the US Postal Service, and allegedly has only 70,000 miles on the chassis, and had the 351 Windsor replaced in 1997. $3200 from the same guy that sold me the GMC C-1500, which I think I sold for $3200

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/562547c36416d8c7c49fc8455d70345bb209f0a839db1dad58215f91c2726a3f.jpg

    The original rear doors were windowless, but we sourced a pair from an old San Francisco Fire Department van

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a7a0975bd3deb751989589d2046f0eacd3440dcc58db96596878bee7359d210b.jpg

    The DRZ400 fits in the back if you take the mirrors off. (I rode the DRZ to pick up the van, so it’s good that it fit.) I may install a hitch so I can get a dirt bike carrier. Unfortunately the new rear brakes the guy put in were assembled incorrectly, and I cooked them when the parking brake got stuck and dragged. I went scorched earth and had the front rotors & stuff replaced when the rear drums were turned. Brakes are important.

    Things I’ve learned:
    The Triton engines, post 1999, have a bad habit of ejecting their spark plugs, threads and all, at around 100K miles. Old iron 5.8 liter engined trucks are in demand. http://www.fordproblems.com/trends/spark-plug-ejection/

    3/4 ton Ford trucks of this era shipped with the larger 1-ton lug nuts. The holes in the 3/4 ton rims are smaller, causing the rim to bear on the very tip of the cone, which collapses and pinches onto the lugs. Removal can be so difficult the lugs strip out of the axles. My local mechanic replaced the 1-1/16″ nuts with the smaller 7/8″ nuts, a trick he learned doing fleet maintenance on Ford trucks.

    • GTXcellent

      Nice – just a quick “free candy” spray job and you’re in business!

    • Zentropy

      I’ve ridden many a mile in a similar white van, when I worked construction as a teen. In fact, one of my dad’s driving lessons when I was 16 was in such a van (a diesel) on a narrow 2-lane WV route with severely low shoulders. The steering had so much play that a full 30 degrees of turn on the wheel wouldn’t alter direction at all. I also learned three-on-the-tree that summer, as well as DIY car painting and head gasket replacement.

    • Scoutdude

      The ladder rack does give me some suspicion on how long it has been out of postal service. Either way the Nantucket is a hard working van and mine always earned their keep and were durable and reliable. That said I’m not regretting moving to the newer style E-series. Fact is most of the problems with the ejecting spark plugs are on the 5.4 and only affect the early years of the 2v. The later heads had a couple more threads and are much more tolerant of abuse. The main cause of ejection is when they are over torqued or under torqued when they were replaced, or the plug well was not blown out and a bunch of gunk got into the threads.

      • Batshitbox

        It may have sat in the back of the USPS lot for a while, there’s green mold on the roof. The guy I buy trucks from only buys fleet maintained vehicles from municipalities. This still had all the USPS markings on it. I think it did a lot of fetch & carry, the starter motor on the 1997 engine had been replaced. That kind of use can really eat up an engine.
        At the end of last year my guy got cleaned out of vans, since people were trying to invest in equipment to avoid new taxes. Though I wanted a Triton engine era truck, this was the first one he came up with.

        • Scoutdude

          I forgot to mention here is where the guy you bought your van from got it. govdeals.com they sell all of the USPS surplus items as well as many other gov’t agencies.

    • I_Borgward

      Nice score! At a decent price, too. Jam Econo!

      I tell people that they get to make one “Free Candy” comment in the presence of my Econoline with no penalty. Two or more, they’ll have figure out how to get that future new sofa home with their Civic. Do not disrespect the Mule.

  • GTXcellent

    This Saab story has just about reached the finale.

    The good news – Eddie lives! It wasn’t too terribly difficult to get the CD changer out (thanks YouTube) but in the process of trying to free the CDs, a punch of springs and pins came out – causing me to go full Hulk on it and just rip the innerds completely out. At least I got my CD back. Guess we’ll never, ever play CDs in that car again. Also thankfully it was just the HID bulb and not the igniter too.

    Now the bad – the car has developed a shudder/stall/hesitation that has me at a complete and total loss. It’s done this twice now – once to the MiSSus and now today I drove it and it did it to me. No rhyme or reason, simply cruising down the highway at a nice 62 mph, no variance in the tach, or boost gauge, nothing. Then suddenly the rpms will drop and fluctuate erratically for a few seconds, losing almost complete power, and then will kick back up and continue on it’s merry way as though nothing happened. No check engine lights will come on. Fuel pump isn’t that old so I’m fairly confident that isn’t the issue. Almost seems electrical in nature. A regular TechII won’t scan this stupid car, and my mechanic who did have some Saab tooling moved to Pennsylvania. I’m about done.

    We’re test driving a new JL Wrangler tomorrow, and if the MiSSus feels she can be comfortable in it, we’ll place an order next week – not really an apples to apples test as we’re driving an Unlimited and we’ll order a 2 door. We will see.

  • Manic_King

    Bought 5th car in 1,5 years (bmw 320d) recently, have sold 4 cars, 2 of these at zero, 2 at 1,3k eur minus total, then again these 2 cars have provided nearly 30k km of roadtrip hapiness, so no complaints.

    • Zentropy

      You can’t put a price on automotive enjoyment. I don’t play golf, don’t have a drug habit, and don’t engage in any expensive hobbies. My car interests are as near break-even a hobby as one could wish for.

      • Rover 1

        Break even?

        With cars?

        How do you do that?

        • Manic_King

          I did it by selling 1 car with thousand loss and other with thousand profit.

        • Zentropy

          I’ve broken even or made money on everything except my CJ-7. I had disassembled it for a re-paint, but started dating a woman two states away. Needless to say, the project stalled and never resumed. I eventually sold the mass of parts to my brother-in-law and married the girlfriend that lured me away from the Jeep.

          • Rover 1

            A Jeep for a wife? You got well ahead on that trade off. 🙂

        • Batshitbox

          Did you have an automobile before you bought the automobile?
          “No.”
          Do you have an automobile after you sold the automobile?
          “No.”
          You have broken even.
          “No.”

  • So LMP1 at Le Mans is Toyota v. TVR this year?

    Is that a Panoz logo under the Julie, or am I spoiling a joke?

    I checked my options for Ag/CO2 gas, another area of oligopoly… A 1L bottle single-use bottle is USD30, no idea about the amount of gas. The other extreme would be renting a 33kg bottle for USD 50 a month.
    The middle options are 5/11 kg owned bottles, yours for USD350/460.
    The good side is that I should go for the more expensive welder, simply to justify the expense.

    • Greg Kachadurian

      There are a few other privateer teams in LMP1 keeping them company. But Toyota and TVR are the only manufacturers (if you can call TVR that)

      And I was waiting for someone to catch the Panoz logo 😛

  • Zentropy

    On the home front, I adjusted the valves on the M30 in my E28 this week, which made for a much quieter under-hood environment, and finally got the code for the original radio. I think I’m going to keep it and just add an FM Bluetooth transmitter for iTunes Radio. Weekend tasks include installation of a rear exhaust resonator and (hopefully) brake maintenance. I seriously love this car.

    • If you want to leave the transmitter plugged in and sometimes listen to FM radio , be wary of the numerous Chinese models with good reviews on Amazon. The one that I bought created static on a wide portion of the FM spectrum.

      I replaced it with this one has a feature where if no audio is playing it turns off the transmitter after a short time. If you start audio, it turns it back on automatically.

      https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0719SNR5N/ref=cm_sw_r_em_taa_jQpYAbQ02VDYR

      • Zentropy

        I really appreciate the advice, and regret that I placed my Amazon order an hour before you shared your experience. If the one I bought turns out to be garbage, I’ll definitely go with that one!

  • “Even though the TVR name is on the car, there probably isn’t anything TVR in the car just yet.”

    So it really is just like every other TVR, then.

  • Scoutdude

    My news is I’ve been playing body man recently.

    Back in October my wife rear ended someone in her Escape. Because It was my busy time of the year I just picked her up a ex-gov’t C-Max.

    Tore up the bumper cover, broke both headlights and smashed the impact bar and its brackets. I found aftermarket headlights, impact bar and brackets on Ebay for about $225 shipped. For the bumper cover I got some 1″ x 1/16″ aluminum bar stock and Gorilla brand indoor-outdoor mounting tape. I let the cover sit for a while in close to where it should be and then carefully used strapping tape on the outside to hold the crack closed. Then is was cut 4-6″ strips of the aluminum bar, hand shape it until it fit the contour and then double stick tapped them on. In places where I could I just kept lining them up so there are quite a few splints back there. But when all was said and done it is a good 20 footer. I’m not sure If I’m going to sell it, drive it myself or give it to my Daughter because she had expressed an interest since it is a hybrid and gets great MPG.

    The other body work was on a front end too, this case my 09 E150. When I bought it almost 2 years ago it had been wrecked in the passenger front already. The bottom of the headlight bezel on that side was shattered as was a big section of grille. The bumper was also pushed in a couple of inches on that side. For the past 2 years I’ve had alerts at Row 52 and only one every showed up. Since it was the wrecking yard that wasn’t near and other timing issues meant the entire front end was gone by the time I made it there. I also regularly checked craigslist and when the newer vans did come up either they were smashed up front or I didn’t make it there in time. Until last weekend with a posting for an 08 showed up on Craig’s list. It was at a little old fashioned wrecking yard where you pay in cash and don’t ask for a reciept, just like a like them. All in $225, a little bracing of the plastic under structure and I can put the headlight in proper adjustment and it looks a little more respectable.

    • Rover 1

      And your friends in their new cars paying $10 grand + a year depreciation still look at you strangely, wondering why you ‘waste’ all that time and money?

    • You’re more thorough than I am. I fixed the cracked and separating bumper cover on the Mazda3 with a drill and zip ties.

      • Scoutdude

        I forgot to mention that at the edge of the crack that ends up under the grille I did the drill two holes and put a zip tie through trick and I originally entertained the idea of stitching it back together with zip ties. And if this doesn’t more zip ties may be in the plan.

    • Batshitbox

      The Escape sustained front end damage and the air bags didn’t deploy?

      • Scoutdude

        Yup just a light hit with no air bag deployment and I ran the full self test of the restraint systems and all is good.

  • wunno sev

    just got confirmation that i’m moving to Los Angeles soon. i am very pleased with this development!

    automotively, this means at least one of my fleet of three has to go. i was already planning to loose one into the wilds, but was in no particular hurry. this accelerates the process. it’s not a cheap place to live and there’s no way i could sensibly afford a place with space for three cars.

    paradoxically, that very expensive city is also, like, the world capital of neat car stuff. i’ve never been to LA and not seen at least several picture-worthy cars per day. i don’t know where all these people get the money or space to have so many cool cars, but whether you’re into European money mobiles, muscle cars, vintage sports cars, bro trucks, lowriders, ricers, Mustangs and Camaros, whatever – it’s all there in LA. i would expect a place where cars are so necessary to develop a white-Camry kind of car culture, where efficiency and reliability rule, but within fifteen seconds of leaving the airport i saw a classic Alfa Spider.

    i’m excited. it’ll be a massive change of pace, and it’ll mean compromise, but i’m excited about the job and i’ve been meaning to cull the fleet anyway.

    • Sjalabais

      Congrats! Obviously, to find your place in a sea of cars, the Volvo needs a gold respray, right?
      https://i.pinimg.com/originals/72/d3/eb/72d3ebeeefe6e8f485b2184fca27a28d.jpg

      • wunno sev

        it needs a new motor and a catalytic converter first. the current motor burns tons of oil and blows out the dipstick. pretty sure the piston rings are fried.

        part of me thinks: while i’m swapping the motor, might as well swap in forged h-beam rods on the new one for a couple hundred in parts and machining, and take out the weakest link in the engine. and, you know what, i’m pretty sure the turbo leaks oil around the seals, so i might as well install a bigger turbo while the engine’s out. and you can’t just slap a big turbo on a car without getting a decent tune, right? and while i have the transmission out, i might as well put a Quaife LSD in there to put all that new power down. and, and, and……

      • wunno sev

        no can do, would hide the flame paint

        • Sjalabais

          Wait, whut? A V70 with flame paint?

          • wunno sev

            i now realize that that was a terrible joke. it’s white, and i have no plans to paint it flamey. i actually like the white color a bunch. it looks good and is easy to maintain: dust doesn’t show, no spotting if i don’t dry it post-wash, the white hides swirls, etc.

            • Sjalabais

              I was, sort of, hopeful it was real. Flame paint and screaming chickens are underrated on sensible transport.

    • Zentropy

      Congrats on the move, but I think of all places, LA is one that would completely suck the life from my car-loving soul. I DESPISE heavy traffic. I’d rather dodge tractors and cows on curvy two-lanes.

      • wunno sev

        yeah, it’s definitely a factor. the people i know there all say that LA is great if you can keep your commute reliably under 30 minutes. it’s a big constraint on where to live – when you set the Zillow rental filter to South Bay, decent neighborhood, bit of space to work on a car, and reasonable rent, the options are mighty limited.

    • Smaglik

      Congrats! If you pass through Flagstaff on the way out, drop a line. Always fun to meet a fellow car nut.

      • wunno sev

        thanks! i think my route will take me through Albuquerque, where my dad lives, but if not i’ll holler!

    • Batshitbox

      Moving to San Francisco after growing up in New England was like moving into a car museum, or the pages of a classic car magazine.
      It’s not uncommon to see a ’72 Beetle face off at a 4-way stop against a ’62 Buick Special.
      A month or two ago, on a rainy Tuesday afternoon, I waited at a red light behind a DeLorean DMC-12.
      Driving my ’63 Scout to the dump, and then to the grocery store didn’t raise an eyebrow. I’m not sure if that’s a downside to all this.

      • wunno sev

        right? i grew up in the Midwest and everything older than 2000 would be lost to rust within ten years of hitting the streets. growing up in the 90s and 2000s, i literally never saw a Datsun 510 or 240Z until a trip to California when i was in high school.

  • Smaglik

    Two small items for the m3. First, I installed a re-covered leather steering wheel in the car. One of the previous owners either used a ton of lotion (believable cause there are hooker-nail scratches near various pull surfaces), or had really sweaty hands, because the wheel was shiny, and on some days, slimy. I did the magic eraser several times, but it came back quickly.

    I also just received in the mail a business CD player manufactured in March 07. Yes, I can now play mp3 CDs, and hook up an auxiliary input. Welcome to the early aughts, ICE. Given that I like good sound quality, and stock look, and the fact that iPod adaptors are no longer available for 02 and earlier, this was the route I chose.

  • JayP

    Coming up on 2 years with the 2012 GT.
    One item I’ve been dying to install was the CHE Torque Limiter. I had one on the 2005 GT and it made a big difference. But that was with the Tremec trans and this one has the MT82 with the trans cooler scoop.

    The other reason I waited – the subframe connector on the ’12 is held on with 4 pressed in bolts. The ’05 were not pressed in. I had to cut 2 of the 4 bolts out. I burned thru 3 blades, went back for 3 more. Odd angles under a car on ramps made this a 3 hr job as opposed to 30 min on the other car.

    Sick of grinding my back into the concrete I thought this wasn’t worth it. But I got the brace in, and the heim joints connected to the trans. All buttoned up, the kid and I took it for a drive.

    WORTH EVERY SECOND OF PAIN.
    The MT82 would “lock out” at high RPMs. At the track I’d short shift to avoid that issue. I’d added the Blowfish bracket, the Whiteline bushing, and a Hurst shifter. All worked to some degree but this bracket and the torque limited was what I needed. I finally was able run to 7k and shift. FIRST TIME EVER. Transformed the car.

    The Blowfish bracket and Hurst made it a little buzzy and the CHE piece wasn’t supposed to do me any favors in that regard. But, it’s tight and seems less buzzy.

    $180 shipped. Wish I’d dome this 2 years ago.

    Also – CL find of 18×9.5 GT500 wheels with near new Contis for $500. Alright.

    • Scoutdude

      Nice score on the tires and wheels.

  • ptschett

    Unusual car sightings —
    last weekend: Toyota Avanza (?) [small, tall, and narrow vannish kind of thing being driven on a US Interstate Highway, Toyota styling, license plates were neither USA nor Canadian]
    this weekend: Datsun 1600 roadster

  • Victor

    Interesting fact : Fiat’s original car factory was designed so that each car would progress upwards storey by storey as it was assembled until it was finalized at the top, where it would be tested on a rooftop test track.

  • Newsflash: while I was watching so-called progress indication bars at work I found the leaky image of the Giulia convertible!
    https://s18.postimg.org/bvb9313eh/giuliasprint_cab.jpg