Since this is the New-Car issue, I think it makes sense for me to spend a little time divulging the confidential information that I’ve accrued in the course of my travels around the world. You see, wherever I go, car-company insiders feel compelled to tell me important secrets about their business, secrets that I swear to uphold because they are strictly off the record and could cause a lot of trouble. What my industry moles don’t know, however, is that I cross my toes whenever I swear to keep a secret, thus nullifying the promise. Probably lots of people will get fired for what I’m about to reveal, but as far as I’m concerned that’s their fault for not checking to see if my toes were crossed.
For starters, you’re surely wondering if we’ll see a hot GS version of the Buick Encore and its Euro-market cousin, the Opel Again. My source wouldn’t say, but over an eggs-and-fish-eyeball breakfast in China he made an offhand remark about Woodrow Wilson that leads me to believe that we’re in for a real treat for the 2019.5 model year. Think “Buick Grand National meets SUV,” and you’ll be reminded that the GMC Typhoon was really cool.
Over at Porsche, the discontinuation of the manual transmission in the GT3 caused many 911 purists to renounce the material world and move to monasteries high in the Himalayas. Sensing that it has alienated an important clientele, Porsche tells me that it’s planning a special 911 offshoot that should please even the most die-hard traditionalists. A manual transmission is a given, as is an air-cooled engine, tiller steering, and wooden-spoke wheels that’ll provide unequaled road feel. Porsche says this model will be even better than the 993-chassis 911, which is widely acknowledged as the high point of human progress.
In other sports-car news, the next SRT Viper is already in the works, and it aims to take its Viprousness to new heights. Ever seen racing stripes with racing stripes? Get ready, because that’s just the start. The next-gen Viper will offer a 10-liter V-10 running through a 15-speed manual transmission out of a cement truck. Its famous side pipes will be joined by other exhaust pipes in places that can burn you, such as under the door handles and around the steering wheel. Following the lead of hybrid supercars like the Porsche 918 Spyder, the Viper’s front wheels will be driven by a separate motor, which in this case is a slightly smaller V-10. Leading British magazine Auto Toff will declare the Viper “the crudest product from the New World since beaver pelts,” nonetheless turning a five-minute Nürburgring lap that causes ace test driver Nigel Chuffley to lose consciousness several times.
On the subject of high-end European SUVs, Bentley Motors’ custodian of British culture, Wolfgang Dieterschniztel, told me that the company was taking its time with an off-roader to ensure that it meshes with the brand’s history and image. “High-end SUVs are big, heavy, imposing, luxury status symbols, while Bentleys are . . . wait a minute, why haven’t we been building one of these things since 1998?” he said before sprinting out the door.
In the realm of trucks, how much is too much? Referring to the next Super Duty as “an ornery sumgun,” my source at Ford tells me that it will make the other heavy-duty trucks look like “little dainty whirligigs that can’t tow nothin’ but a sack o’ feathers.” The new truck’s rearview mirrors have been aerodynamically optimized to direct tobacco juice out and away from the bodywork, a nod to the GMC Sierra’s consistently better J.D. Power scores in that area. There’s no word on torque, but engineers have noted that when the truck is started at the beach, the tide comes in. And the band Florida Georgia Line has been hired to rewrite its hit song “Cruise,” replacing the line, “In this brand-new Chevy with a lift kit, that’d look a helluva lot better with you up in it,” with, “In this brand-new Ford with a Power Stroke, that I bought ’cause my gol’ dang Chevy broke.” Meanwhile, Ram is preparing an audacious stunt where a 3500 Cummins dualie parked in Africa will tow the continents back together.
Over in Japan, Mazda plans to continue making attractive cars that are soulful, great to drive, and inexplicably off the radar of the general public. The Acura NSX will continue to take shape ahead of its eventual launch in 3012. And Subaru, drunk with success and no little bit of sake, doesn’t have anything in particular up its sleeve but wants the public to know that “subibaja” is Spanish for “seesaw.” “Weird, huh?” says my source. “Like in Mexico, if you were buying a seesaw, you might say, ‘Let’s take the Subie Baja to pick up that subibaja.’ True story.” Hey, I didn’t say it wasn’t.
Over in Sant’Agata Bolognese, plans are afoot to take exclusivity to a new level. Following the template set by the Reventón (production: twenty cars) and the Veneno (three cars), Lamborghini’s future flagship will enjoy an even more limited run. The upcoming vehicle, described by our Italian insider as a “hyper-duper super sports car from space,” will be limited to a production run of one, divided among twenty lucky buyers around the world. Once every decade, Lamborghini will throw a party where each buyer brings his or her part of the car — tentatively named Presto LP900-4 — to a secret track where Lamborghini technicians will assemble it and let each person drive for one minute. When one of the owners dies, the other owners will bid on that person’s share of the Presto — left-front suspension, rear subframe, or whatever — in an ongoing process until only one owner remains.
That person will then own the most exclusive Lamborghini in the world, until the debut of the Presto LP950-2 six weeks later.