Is the Kia Horki Concept Car Ever Going to Come To America?

The short answer?  Probably not.  Kia and Ford both revealed concept cars at the 2013 Shanghai International Auto Show.  Ford brought back the Escort nameplate, and Kia came up with something, er, imaginative.  The Kia Horki is certainly imaginative.

The Horki is based off of the 2014 Kia Forte platform, which would allow for development costs to go down significantly.  We probably won’t see the stylish Horki on our shores – when it comes into production, it will be for China only.  Kia combined two Chinese words for harmony and driving.  They came up with Horki.

Like Hyundai’s Genesis and Equus brands, the Horki will be a sub-brand of Kia.  The Horki brand will officially debut to Chinese customers in the second half of the calendar year of 2015.  I can hedge a safe bet that one of the first Horki models will be based off the flashy Horki compact sedan shown at the Shanghai Auto Show.

The concept car looks like no production Kia.  It has slim, pulled-back headlights, and a grille that’s completely different from U.S. cars like the Optima, Forte, Rio, or Cadenza.  The well-defined shoulders of the car stunning taillights are different from the 2014 Forte.  Of course, this is a concept car.  A stunning one, at that.

Whether Kia’s and Ford’s plans to offer cars that are offered exclusively in China will pay off, only time will tell.  They could update global vehicles (GM, Honda, Toyota, and Ford already do that), but costs to do that are high.

Tell me what you think of the Horki.  WordPress is being funky, and not allowing me to copy and paste images!  Sorry about that!  For now, just go onto Google Images, and search for the Kia Horki concept car.  Then, come back to my blog, and tell me what you think of the Horki!

Sorry for the delay in posting.  I had a post ready to go, but forgot to publish.  Finals are here, and my brain is tuned to non-car related matters.  If any figures of authority read this, may they be pleased by my studious attitude!

The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport is Once Again the World’s Fastest (Production) Car!

A few weeks ago, the Guinness Book of World Records stripped Bugatti of their title of the World’s Fastest Production Car.  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport that was used for the record attempt had been modified in a way that would be unavailable to the public.

Bugatti had put a speed limiter for 258 mph for customers on the grounds of safety (I don’t know how THAT logic works!), but the Veyron Super Sport that broke the record went 267.883, in other words, 268 mph.

Bugatti never kept the fact that ALL Veyron Super Sports came with a 258 mph speed limiter.  In fact, they’d even told the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010, when they were about to attempt the record.

Doubts of the legality of the record started when Hennessey Performance Engineering got their Venom GT super car up to 265.7 mph and claimed that it was the fastest production car ‘actually’ available to the public.

Fast forward three years to April 15, 2013.  Guinness Book of World Records officials reinstated the Veyron Super Sport as the fastest production car on the grounds that a change to the speed limiter does not affect the car or its engine.

The full statement, first sent to the Sunday Times, states:  Following a thorough review conducted with a number of external experts, Guinness World Records is pleased to announce the confirmation of Bugatti’s record of Fastest production car achieved by the Veyron 16.4 Super Sport. The focus of the review was with respect to what may constitute a modification to a car’s standard specification. Having evaluated all the necessary information, Guinness World Records is now satisfied that a change to the speed limiter does not alter the fundamental design of the car or its engine.”

The fact that the Hennessey Venom GT came within 3 mph of the Veyron Super Sport makes me wonder how long it will be before the record is broken.  Of course, the record could be broken by an even faster Veyron!  Bugatti’s 2013 Veyron Grand Vitesse got the title of the World’s Fastest Convertible at 254 mph!  There’s also talk from Bugatti of an even-faster, more-powerful Veyron in the works.  This ultra-Veyron would have about 1,600 horsepower and go about 280 mph.  That math was done by somebody other than me!  This Veyron-in-the-works would need about 400 more horsepower than the Super Sport to go faster.  It would also need tires that can handle the high speeds.  The tires used for the Veyron Super Sport cost almost $3,000 a piece to make.  They only last 12 minutes at full throttle or 1 mile at 268 mph.  They wouldn’t be able to handle going 280 mph for more than a second or two.  Currently, the only tires that can handle these speeds are stock cars, INDY cars, and F1 tires.  Guinness Book of World Records requires that the tires used for the land-speed record attempt are street-legal, and used on the vehicles sold to the public.

One of the 1967 Ford Mustang “Eleanor”‘s from Gone in 60 Seconds is Up For Auction!

While star cars go under the hammer all the time, it’s rare when a car that starred in a hit movie goes under the hammer.  Recently, the 1967 Ford Mustang “Eleanor” from the 2000 smash movie, Gone in 60 Seconds has been put up for auction.  The car will be in Lot S135 at the Dana Mecum 26th Original Spring Classic Auction, scheduled for May 14-19.  11 1967 Ford Mustang “Eleanor”‘s were created for the movie.  Three were working, fully running cars, and two of these were destroyed during one of the chase scenes.

Mustangs Daily has told us that Cinema Vehicle Services and legendary hot rod builder, Chip Foose, built the cars.  Something to note is that Carroll Shelby did build a few GT500 KR’s back in the 1960s that were tweaked even more.  They were called “Eleanor.”  None remain, but Shelby did say that he built a few.

Key features of the Eleanor up for auction include its centrally-mounted driving lights, unique hood and trunk, and the bulging fender flares.  Power comes from a Chevy 350 crate engine, rated at 400 horsepower.

Whoever ends up taking home the Eleanor will be very lucky.  They will also go home with a large wad of documentation papers that verify that Cinema Vehicle Services and Chip Foose did actually build the car.  Plus, they get a special plaque that has the VIN on it.

I’m sure that bidding for this car will go well into six figures, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it hit seven figures.

It’s probably too late for you to get tickets to the auction, but the kind folks over at Classic Recreations will be happy to build you your very own 1967 Ford Mustang Eleanor – for a cool $140,000!

I’m expecting one of my readers to be the top bidder so I can have the Eleanor up for auction as my very own (hint, hint!)!  Just pay for the travel costs and the tickets to the auction, and I’ll take care of bidding.

A Wonderful Day at the Track!

I’m pretty sure that I’ll be getting some comments from you wonderful readers telling me that I am one lucky guy.  I know that I am, thank you very much!  You’re probably wondering why I’m so lucky.  Allow me to explain.

In the beginning of March, my uncle set me up with one of his friends who was going to be lapping his 1970 Datsun 240Z at Sonoma Raceway.  Emails were exchanged, and then we got to the track early.  We saw the Z (pictures will be near the bottom of this post!), and went into that garage.  The team mechanics were going through the checklist.  I’ll be monkey’s uncle if I tell you that car didn’t sound amazing!  It sounded wonderful!  At idle, it had a burble that popped, hummed, whistled, and belched at the same time.  Since it has such a high idle speed (2000 RPM, average), it’s kind of loud.  At full throttle, it sounds like a Lamborghini Aventador, a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, a motorcycle, and a Corvette ZR1.  Life couldn’t be much better.

The owner and driver of the Z, David Martin, showed up, and we said hello.  After a few minutes of talking, we went down to pit row and watched as David’s instructor, Ken, told him to do 10 warm up laps.  We sat on the concrete barrier wall, and watched classic race cars go flying around the track.  One team had a large trailer with about five classic Porsche 911’s and a couple of new ones.  Next to us was a portable shade tent that was keeping a Can-Am Ferrari and a 375 America from 1956 from the harsh effects of the sun.  The 375 was beautiful, and extremely fast.  The Can-Am Ferrari was scarily fast.

In one of the garage stalls near us was a team with a 2005 Ford GT super car.  They had a guy sitting there with a laptop computer analyzing everything about the car.  When I say everything, I MEAN everything!  The Can-Am Ferrari (don’t ask what it was – I don’t know!) was faster than the Ford GT, which knocked out 1 minute, 30 second laps.

At lunch, we talked with David’s instructor, Ken.  Ken used to race everything from F1 to stock cars.  His story is sad, but I can tell you something good about him:  He’s one of the best drivers I’ve ever seen!  After lunch, we had to wait for a bit because a car blew its engine on the final turn, and all the oil spilled out.  We waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Finally, cars were allowed back on the track.  David waited until other cars had gone through where the oil slick was.  Then, he headed out, but he went much slower those laps.

At about 2:00 PM, it was time for us to go.  Sadly, track day was over.   We said our goodbyes, and headed home.  I think that you will enjoy the history of David’s Z.  I’ll also share with you some pictures of him and his Z.

Here’s the history:

In 1974, Brad Fisselle made the decision to step up from the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) Professional Division to IMSA (International Motor Sports Association).  he formed a full team and company, which was named Transcendental Racing.  Transcendental Racing built, developed, tested, and raced their new creation.  Their creation?  A 1970 Datsun 240Z prototype for the IMSA Camel GT Series.  In 1975, Brad had his first three professional victories and was awarded IMSA’s Most Improved Driver award, becoming the only man to win these coveted awards in both IMSA and the SCCA.  He then went on to win eight out of the eleven races that his team entered in for the IMSA GTU series.  During this time, Brad Fisselle beat the Datsun factory team many times.

This Datsun 240Z is the 1976 IMSA GT/U Championship car.  The chassis of this car was the first 240Z imported to the United States in 1970.  My dad had one of the original 240Z’s as his father did all the legal work for Datsun!  Mac Tilton designed the suspension and built some of the specialized parts. The chassis, roll cage and body were all constructed by Dave Kent with assistance from Yoshi Suzuka. Yoshi was also responsible for the design of the aerodynamics on the car. John Knepp of Electramotive built the engine.  Many of these businesses are long dead.  In it’s day, this Datsun 240Z was the fastest and most technologically advanced car in IMSA and SCCA.

Sometime in the early 1990’s it was decided that a full restoration was needed.  The car was starting to fall apart, and didn’t look as good.  The team’s original captain, Joe Cavaglieri was hired for this task.  The car was stripped down to the chassis, and rebuilt from the tires up to 1976 IMSA GTU specifications.  Using development parts from the NISSAN GTP program, modern electronics, and new piston and cam designs the engine produces 400hp.  Considering that this comes from a 2.0-liter inline six-cylinder, that’s quite impressive.  No turbochargers or superchargers have ever been near this car.

In the day the team was the one of the very best in IMSA, the preparation of the car was always at the highest level, more like that of a top Indy Car team than a GTU team. The restoration was done with that same mindset. The car is absolutely perfect both cosmetically and in performance. The fit and finish, attention to detail and superb craftsmanship exhibited in this restoration is spectacular.  Right now, the car is capable of winning a podium position at any classic car race, or winning a Best-in-Show at Pebble Beach.  Since the completion of the restoration, the car has competed in the Mitty at Road Atlanta and the Monterey Historic Automobile Races plus two club events and one test day.

Here is a list of the championships that the car has competed in:

IMSA GT/U (Grand Touring Under 2.5L) 1975 Season Mid Ohio 2nd GTU (Pole Position) Laguna Seca 2nd GTU Mosport 1st GTU Mid America 1st GTU Talladega 1st GTU

1976 Season (IMSA GT/U Champion): Road Atlanta 1st, GTU 15 OA, Laguna Seca 2nd, GTU 10, OA Ontario 4th, GTU 12, OA Lime Rock, 1st GTU, OA Mid Ohio 1st, GTU 5, OA Daytona 250 1st, GTU 9, OA Sears Point 2nd, GTU 9, OA Talladega 1st, GTU 5, OA Pocono 1st, GTU 5, OA Road Atlanta 500 1st, GTU 8, OA with John Morton Daytona Final 1st GTU.

I’ll stop keeping the pictures from you, and share them with you.

This is David at the 2012 Rolex Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at the infamous Corkscrew S-Bend.
This is David at the 2012 Rolex Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at the infamous Corkscrew S-Bend.
This is the same race, but on a different lap.  This is also at the Corkscrew.
This is the same race, but on a different lap. This is also at the Corkscrew.

I’d like to give many, many thanks to David Martin of Red Car Winery and the Martin Group for letting me hang around and watch him.  I’d also like to say thanks to his awesome mechanics and instructor, who were kind enough to talk to me about racing throughout the day!  Thanks to my amazing uncle who originally set me up with David!  Thanks to David, his team, and my uncle, for letting me come with my dad so we could have an awesome day watching an awesome person drive an awesome car!   Clearly, I had a great day.  Told you I was lucky.

Tougher Than Tough

In 1946, Mercedes-Benz hired several American engineers that designed the DUKW (or DUCK) trucks to build a truck that could be worked for agriculture.  They were more than happy to.  The Unimog was born.  It was originally designed to give power take-off to large forestry saws and equipment and/or large pieces of farm machinery.  It had permanent 4WD capability, equal size wheels.  This, coupled with portal axles, allowed the Unimog to travel along horrible, bombed-out roads at speeds that are still considered insane.  Due to their portal axles, their ground clearance was about 26-30 inches off the ground – stock!  Their flexible frame acts as part of the suspension.  All of this makes it just about the worst choice for a tow rig.  Yet, it still does its job very well.  Because of its unique build structure, Unimogs can easily climb boulders 1 meter high.  

Newer models can have the pedals, steering wheel, and instrument cluster moved from the left side to the right side in the field.  This allows workers to conveniently “pass the wheel to their coworkers – provided the vehicle is at a stop!”

The Unimog can be built in up to 40 different combinations!  Some of these can be a small gasoline-power engine unit that is a short wheelbase unit (common for delivery or construction) to a 40-foot, 300-horsepower monster!

Just about every military uses the Unimog – even the U.S. Marines.  Semper Fi.  Back to militaries.  Many militaries use at least one type of Unimog.  Civilians use them, as well.  Many disaster relief organizations have large fleets of Unimogs.  The Red Cross uses about 4,000 Unimogs.  Fire departments, hazardous-material transporters, utility companies, and equipment carriers.  Their capability to operate in almost any situation makes them ideal for this.  One place where you can see Unimogs is at McMurdo Station, where they bring supplies, give power, and even build!  Unimogs can easily be fitted with a backhoe, front loader, a dump bed, and even cranes.  Even the Governator has one – a 2012 U1300 diesel Unimog registered in California!

In North America, Unimogs haven’t been the most popular truck.  Part of the reason is that smog requirements for large purpose-built trucks are much different in Germany than the U.S.  Some of it also can be given to the lack of enthusiasts.  Many Unimogs that you see in North America have been imported, or were sold by the Case Corporation in the 1970s.

Unimogs are very successful in motorsport competitions – especially desert rallys.  They have won the Truck Class several times in the 1980s in the Paris-Dakar rally.  They have also won by accident – multiple times!  Their main purpose is to provide support for cars and/or motorcycles racing in the desert.

Just two years ago, Mercedes-Benz unveiled a wild Unimog concept.  It looked crazy.  But,  Mercedes-Benz said that some of that styling would make it into the new Unimog.  Some did.  The new Unimog has some of the futuristic styling, which is skillfully blended into the macho sheet metal.

Some of the new equipment that comes with the new Unimog is smart.  For example, the cab has been completely redesigned.  Now, drivers can see almost 200 degrees – in any direction!  New work and power systems allow the Unimog to be even more adept at everything it does.  The hydraulics have been redesigned from scratch.  They can now push, pull, lift, and do many more tasks.  One really neat feature about the new Unimog is the synergetic traction drive that allows the driver to change from manual mode in the transmission to hydrostatic mode while on the go.  Most trucks with features like that need to be at a complete stop for that to happen.  The biggest changes, however, are from the new engines.

The most potent engine is a massive 7.7 liter diesel that cranks out a monstrous 354 horsepower and a Herculean 885 lb-ft of torque.  Many of the engines offered on the new Unimog circulate gasses to comply with emissions standards in many countries.

This truck is not one to be messed with.  If you are in a Ford F150 SVT Raptor in the desert, and you see a Unimog, don’t challenge the driver to a race.  The Unimog will win.  By far.  It will also win rock-crawling competitions against Jeep Wranglers, mud pit contests against jacked-up pickups.  All of this will look effortless.  That’s what happens when you’ve got 57 years of experience behind you.