• ’17 CAMARO ZL1: CLOCKS 202.3 MPH!

    Fastest Camaro ever makes one pass at 202.3 mph and backs it up at 193.3 mph on Germany’s Papenburg proving ground. Average top speed: 198 mph.

    Chevrolet tested the ZL1 with 10-speed automatic transmission on the high-speed oval at Germany’s Automotive Testing Papenburg GmBH proving ground. Compensating for wind speed, the top speed is the average achieved from running the ZL1 in both directions on the 7.6-mile loop – 202.3 mph in one direction and 193.3 mph in the other direction!

    Testing was conducted on the ZL1’s production Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3 tires with pressure set at 44 psi, the recommended setting for extended high-speed driving. The car’s only deviations from stock were mandatory safety and data logging equipment.

    Papenburg’s high-speed oval features 2.5-mile straights and 1.3-mile turns with 49.7-degree banking on the top lane. The steep banking allowed Chevrolet test drivers to run the ZL1 flat out around the track without lifting off the throttle in the turns.

    “The ZL1 was developed with high-speed performance in mind, incorporating a balanced aerodynamic package that reduces lift without significantly affecting drag,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “After testing the car in standard settings, which produced the 198-mph average, we set the front and rear camber adjustments to 0 degrees and the tire pressures to the maximum allowable sidewall pressure, the ZL1 averaged over 200 mph.”

    Special aero features include a stanchion rear spoiler that offers an advantageous lift/drag ratio compared to a blade-style rear spoiler, and a patent-pending auxiliary transmission oil cooler cover that reduces front-end lift with no drag penalty. The front-to-rear aero balance was also fine-tuned for high-speed stability.

    Additional performance capabilities of the ZL1 Camaro tested with the available 10-speed automatic transmission include:
    0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds
    Quarter-mile in 11.4 seconds at 127 mph
    1.02g max cornering
    60-0 mph braking in 107 feet

    The 650-horsepower, supercharged LT4 engine powering the ZL1 is mated to a standard six-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Match or an available, all-new 10-speed automatic transmission. Additional features include:
    Magnetic Ride Control
    Electronic limited-slip differential (coupe only)
    20-inch forged aluminum wheels
    Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3 summer-only tires measuring 285/30ZR20 in front and 305/30ZR20 in the rear
    Brembo brakes with six-piston Monobloc front calipers and two-piece rotors

    The ‘17 Camaro ZL1 starts at $63,435 for a coupe with the manual transmission (price includes $995 destination and $1,300 gas guzzler tax) and $65,830 for a coupe with the 10-speed automatic (price includes $995 destination and $2,100 gas guzzler tax).

    “This test caps an impressive list of performance stats for the Camaro ZL1, which was designed to excel at everything. It’s the most capable – and fastest – Camaro ever,” said Al Oppenheiser.

    For more information about the latest high-performance Camaros, please visit http://www.chevrolet.com/camaro-zl1.html

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  • The Mercedes‑AMG GT R

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    Once again, the skunkworks in Affalterbach has driven a new stake into the ground and set the new benchmark for racetrack-bred performance. Introducing the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT R, the embodiment of all that is Mercedes-AMG: driving performance at its most passionate, pure and uncompromising.

    The Mercedes-AMG GT R is designed as a track car off the showroom floor, with sinister aesthetics and adrenaline-pumping performance dynamics to match. Its handcrafted AMG 4.0L V8 biturbo engine with “hot inside V” configuration grinds out 577 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, and the all-new AMG TRACTION CONTROL with 9 input levels is literally at your fingertips in the center console.

    The motorsports technology goes beyond just the engine. Active rear-axle steering turns up to 1.5 degrees of toe angle for increased cornering response and high-speed stability. The light dual-mass flywheel is responsive and ready to handle rigorous torque spikes of transmission kickdowns on-track. Forged cylinder heads are durable and more resistant to heat. And a sophisticated engine management system adapts based on your driving style, reading your throttle inputs, g-force indicators and more.

    When it comes to styling, the purpose remains the same — extreme performance. Aggressive aerodynamics combine with an advanced cooling system to reduce drag and improve heat dissipation that comes with rigorous track use. And the wide track makes an audacious persona feel all the more visceral and real when you´re behind the wheel.

    The all-new 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT R begins its reign in summer 2018.

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    Key Highlights*

    *European specification; US figures may vary.

    • Handcrafted AMG 4.0L V8 biturbo with dry-sump lubrication
    • 577 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque
    • 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds; top speed of 198 mph
    • Active rear-axle steering
    • First-ever 9-mode AMG TRACTION CONTROL
    • Extensive use of carbon fiber in key areas to lower the center of gravity and add torsional rigidity
    • Aggressive active aerodynamics coupled with an advanced cooling system
    • Wider front and rear fenders by 46mm and 57mm, respectively
    • Exclusive new color:”AMG Green Hell Magno”
    • New face of AMG: the Panamericana Grille, inspired by the AMG GT3 racer
    • Prominent central exhaust outlet with standard AMG Performance Exhaust

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  • PLYMOUTH SUPERBIRD: THE RICHARD PETTY CONNECTION!

    Our man on the track, Stephen Cox, talks with Richard Petty about his connection to the winged Superbird.

    It has been claimed that Plymouth’s legendary winged ‘70 Superbird was the brainchild of NASCAR champion Richard Petty. The rumor has been around for decades but I’ve never found anyone with first-hand knowledge who could absolutely confirm or deny that the car’s origins truly began with The King of Stock Car Racing.

    But opportunity knocked a couple of weeks ago when Petty was in attendance at the Mecum auction in Kissimmee, FL, which I co-host for NBCSN. I found him relaxing backstage late in the show and hollered, “Hey, King!” Although I don’t know him well, he looked up with his trademark smile and immediately held out his hand.

    I asked him point blank whether he was responsible for the development of the Plymouth Superbird. Petty paused and laid the back of his hand across his brow. “Well, let me get the dates right.”

    “We knew in 1968 that Dodge was building a wing car. So I went to Plymouth and asked if they were gonna build one and they said, ‘No.’ I told them that I’d like them to work on one and they said, ‘No, you’re winning all the races anyway.’”

    True, Petty had been dominant, winning 27 of 49 Grand National races en route to the championship in 1968. Rather than cough up the additional funds to stay current in NASCAR’s burgeoning aero wars, Plymouth was content to let Petty struggle against increasing odds.

    Undeterred, Petty tried another angle. He asked if he could stay within the Chrysler family and simply move over to Dodge and drive the new Charger Daytona winged car for the 1969 season. Plymouth flatly refused.

    “So I said, ‘Either build me a wing car or I’m walking across the street,’” Petty continued. “They said, ‘Sure, go ahead.’ So I did.”

    That same afternoon Richard Petty personally walked into Ford Motor Company’s front office. Ford executives took no risks, signing Petty to a one-year contract on the spot. Petty finished second in the points chase while winning ten races for Ford in 1969. It was enough. He didn’t have to return to Detroit to beg Plymouth for a winged car. This time, they came to him.

    “The head man from Plymouth came walking into my shop,” Petty continued. “He said, ‘What do we need to do to get you back? I said, ‘Give me what I’ve been asking for.’”

    Plymouth pledged to have a new winged car completed for Petty in time for the 1970 NASCAR season. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, they chose to use a modified version of the wildly successful Dodge Charger Daytona platform. Under NASCAR’s homologation rules, a limited number of Superbird street cars were built and sold through Plymouth’s dealership network.

    Behind the wheel of the car built specifically for him, Richard Petty and his Plymouth Superbird won 18 of the 40 races in which they competed in 1970, led nearly half of all laps and won nine pole positions. Despite being produced for only one model year, the road-going version of the Superbird became a legend in the annals of musclecar history.

    Today, a concours-ready Plymouth Superbird will routinely draw bids from $100,000 to $300,000 at auction. They remain among the most collectible musclecars ever built.

    “So there you go,” Petty told me with a smile. “That’s how it happened.”

     

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  • BOOK REVIEW: LANCIA LORAYMO, ONE OF ONE!

    This book is as much about Loewy’s logic of industrial design and creative process as it is about his bespoke Lancia.

    Raymond Loewy, the Father of Industrial Design, is most familiar to consummate carguys because of Studebaker’s Avanti and Starliner coupes. Loewy was also responsible for designing streamlined locomotives, refrigerators, telephones, and logos for Shell Oil, Exxon, TWA and Lucky Strike to name a few.`

    Written by Brandes Elitch, Lancia Loraymo follows the development of Raymond Loewy’s one-off Lancia, designed as a personal project to advertise the Loewy brand. Built for the 1960 Paris Motor Show, where it was the hit of the show, the Loramyo was reminiscent of the fabulous cars that graced the Concours d’Elegance circuit in pre-war France.

    Its Flaminia chassis was specially prepared by Lancia to showcase a handcrafted Carrozzeria Moto aluminum body. It garnered enormous publicity for a few short years, and then disappeared. Like the intrigue that surrounds the fabled Chrysler Norseman dream car, the missing Loramyo came back to life when it was found 20 years later in a scrap yard in Sacramento, CA, missing its original drivetrain. It was scheduled to be crushed.

    This is the story of the birth, near-death, discovery and restoration of Loewy’s Loraymo. Elitch follows the trail, recalling the history of the car, its illustrious designer, and the Lancia marque, as it pertained to Loewy’s perspective on automobile and industrial design of the time. This historical journey wraps up with the design of the Studebaker Avanti, which utilized many of the design cues from the Loraymo.

    This is a fascinating story of one of the most mysterious show cars of the post-war period. It is well documented in 128 pages with 100 photos and illustrations. It’s available only in a limited hardback edition of 500 copies at $59.95 from Fetherston Publishing, PO Box 1742, Sebastopol, CA 95473.

    For more information, please visit http://www.loewylancia.com/

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  • SVRA HEACOCK CLASSIC: THE GOLD STANDARD!

    Mike Matune goes trackside at VIR to bring us highlights of the Gold Cup historic races.

    The SVRA wrapped up part of its season at the Heacock Class “Gold Cup historic races at VIRginia International Raceway. Optimum weather and VIR’s lush surroundings welcomed a bevy of seasoned racers. Spectators were treated to the sights and sounds of some great big-bore historic racecars. Olthoff Racing (www.olthoffracing.com) of NC showed up with three Superformance GT40s, top, including those of Harry McPherson (#2) and Jeff McKee.

    Curt Vogt brought his ‘70 Mustang, above. While it is a genuine Boss 302, it has no race history and is prepared to the current vintage rulebook as opposed to period standards. The engine puts out close to 600 horsepower and Vogt used every one of them as he manhandled the beast around VIR, frequently testing the limits of the track’s “friction circle”.

    Michael Lange’s Ford GT was built by Matech in Switzerland for GT3 competition in Europe. It served as an interesting contrast to the 1960s era technology of the Superformance cars. The car has approximately 500 horsepower from a Ford DOHC V8 backed by a Hewland sequential gearbox. Extensive use of carbon fiber keeps overall weight to about 2,300 pounds, allowing “adequate” performance. A surprising feature of the car is air conditioning!

    Tommy Riggins originally built this Falcon for the updated Trans-Am series. It never turned a wheel there and ended up competing in SCCA GT1. It features a fiberglass silhouette body favoring the 1963 Falcon (if you squint) on a modern tubular frame with tubular A-arms up front and a Ford nine-inch rear end suspended with a three-link system. Power comes from a 358-inch Rousch-Yates Ford V-8. Doug Richmond bought the car and freshened it for the vintage racing wars. VIR was its second outing under his ownership.

    It is hard to fault the lines on the Lola T70, Eric Broadley’s early attempt at a Group 7 racecar. Tom Shelton’s example was originally sold by the late Carl Haas, Lola’s U.S. importer to a privateer. It was campaigned in the USRRC and Can-Am with very modest success. As an early Mark I model, it had a narrow body updated to its present wide-body to accommodate hefty racing rubber during its extensive restoration.

    Dave Robert’s ‘56 Corvette could was converted into a racecar by Chicago area Motor Sport Research in the early 1960s. It would live a life over time involving multiple owners and drivers, each attaining some level of success. When technology eventually caught up with it, it became a vintage racer and continued its winning ways. Roberts has recently returned the car to its original configuration to best celebrate its historic significance.

    Ken Mennella is a long time vintage competitor in his “tribute” ‘63 Corvette Grand Sport roadster. Equipped with a 600 horsepower, 400-inch Chevy small-block and TexRacing Super T-10 transmission, the car has been wining in SVRA Groups 5 & 10 for more than ten years. His car is a faithful reproduction of what was envisioned as an American car to beat Shelby’s Cobra and the fastest European racing cars. Its promise was short lived when GM enforced its anti-racing position.

    Externally Robert Gee’s ‘69 Corvette has all the pieces associated with the L88 endurance racing package – fender flares, fixed headlights under clear plastic covers and a vented and bubbled hood. It’s small-block powered and prepared to B/Production vintage standards with original brakes and stamped steel a-arms.

    Bob Lima’s big-block powered Corvette was formerly raced by Dick Kantrud. Like Gee’s car, it features styling cues from the famed Corvette endurance racers of the late-1960s,-early 1970s. Power comes from a big block Chevy with Edelbrock aluminum heads and a plethora of racing hardware. The raised headlights with clear covers reduced weight and complexity by eliminating the retracting mechanism. They also allowed improved airflow.

    Corvette racecars come in all forms from nearly showroom stock to purpose-built racers like Jeff Bernatovich’s entry. Originally built by Irv Hoerr, it combines a tube frame and look-alike fiberglass body panels, sharing precious little with its production counterparts. Some racers like this approach because instead of removing extraneous street components and beefing up cars that were never intended to withstand racetrack punishment, they are starting with a clean slate and incorporating only that what they need for speed and safety.

     

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