2022 Acura MDX, SSC Tuatara, R34 Nissan GT-R: The Week In Reverse

Acura unveiled a prototype of the 2022 MDX; the SSC Tuatara might have set a new world record; and a rare R34 Nissan GT-R is for sale. It’s the Week in Reverse, right here at Motor Authority.

The 2022 Acura MDX was revealed in prototype form with a handsome design inside and out. The next-generation people mover will be more athletic thanks in part to a new double-wishbone front suspension like that of the 2021 TLX. It will also boast a luxurious interior as it becomes the automaker’s flagship with the death of the RLX.

We drove the 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost and can say we’ve used sewing machines that make more noise. It floats down the road like a butterfly, but stings with its V-12 power. It was easily the best vehicle seen in the Whataburger drive-through in at least a week.

The SSC Tuatara might be the world’s fastest production car. Reportedly, the hypercar made a land-speed record attempt on Highway 160, which runs between Las Vegas and Pahrump, Nevada, where a Koenigsegg Agera RS set a speed record in 2017. We should learn the results soon.

The 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer was spotted testing on public roads. The production version of the large SUV drops the concept’s 23-inch wheels and intricate front lighting but retains the overall look of the concept, including the Ram 1500-like headlights.

A rare R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Specc II Nür is for sale. It’s one of just 718 V-Spec II Nür models built and one of just 156 finished in Millennium Jade. The asking price is $485,000. The car is located in Japan and listed by JDM Expo.

Preview: 2020 Ariel Atom 4 arrives with Civic Type R power, $74,750 price tag

Preview: 2020 Ariel Atom 4 arrives with Civic Type R power, $74,750 price tag

The Honda Civic Type R is a fast car. Now just imagine dropping its engine into a lightweight machine resembling a cage on wheels.

Well, that’s exactly what British firm Ariel has done for the fourth generation of its Atom roadster.

Compared to its predecessor, which was certainly no slouch, the Atom 4 has been designed from the ground up with a new chassis, new body, new aerodynamic elements, and of course that new engine. It made its debut in 2018 and is now just weeks away from starting deliveries in the United States.

The first customers will receive their Atom 4s in December. If you’d like to join the exclusive ownership club, the cost of entry starts at $74,750. That price can easily inflate as Ariel has a long list of options for the Atom 4. One is a Performance Package that costs $7,995 and will lift output to 350 horsepower. It also adds an adjustable traction control system and a limited-slip differential.

Even if you don’t tick this option, you won’t be disappointed with the standard package. The donor Civic Type R engine displaces 2.0 liters and delivers 320 hp in the stock Atom 4, which is still 12 hp more than the in the Honda. This is enough to see the Atom 4 hit 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and 100 mph in 6.8 seconds—enough to put many supercars to shame. The top speed is 162 mph.

Ariel still uses a tubular chassis that’s developed and built in-house, though the latest version features larger diameter tubes which help to increase torsional stiffness to the tune of 15% over the outgoing model. Ariel says the Atom 4 chassis also improves crash safety and interior space.

2020 Ariel Atom 4

2020 Ariel Atom 4

2020 Ariel Atom 4

2020 Ariel Atom 4

2020 Ariel Atom 4

2020 Ariel Atom 4

Speaking of the interior, there’s a new instrument cluster and switchgear that look as though they’ve been taken out of a race car. The screen can also display images from the available reversing camera.

The standard suspension setup includes adjustable dampers from Bilstein, along with adjustable track and push roads to adjust camber and toe, as well as the ride height. The standard alloy wheels measure 16×7 inches up front and 17×9 inches at the rear, and to further save weight a carbon-fiber wheel design can be added. Stopping power comes from AP Racing brakes with four-piston calipers front and rear.

Ariels sold in North America are produced under license by Ariel North America based in South Boston, Virginia. The company also offers Ariel’s Nomad off-roader.

Ford’s new CEO races a 1966 Ford GT40 as his form of yoga

Ford’s new CEO races a 1966 Ford GT40 as his form of yoga

Jim Farley, who replaced Jim Hackett as Ford CEO earlier this year, doesn’t just sell cars. He races them.

Farley has been racing vintage cars for more than a decade, and he received permission from executive chairman Bill Ford to continue racing alongside his new responsibilities as CEO.

It was probably the second conversation we had after we had talked about this leadership opportunity,” Farley said in a Ford-produced interview (via Autoblog). “I said, ‘You know, Bill, I just can’t stop racing. It’s just who I am. It’s my yoga. You’ve got to let me do this if I’m going to be a better CEO. He was very supportive.”

Farley started racing in 2008 after buying a Shelby 427 Cobra, according to Automotive News. He currently races a 1966 Ford GT40 and a 1978 Lola T298. Other cars in his collection include a 1932 Ford roadster, a 1965 Shelby GT350 Mustang, and a 2012 Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca. He also reportedly owns a 1987 BMW 325i convertible purchased new by his wife.

Senior Editor Kirk Bell rode with Farley in his 427 Cobra at a Ford event in 2014 and he can attest that Farley didn’t baby that car despite its collector value.

Ford CEO Jim Farley racing his 1978 Lola T298

Ford CEO Jim Farley racing his 1978 Lola T298

The passion for cars started at a young age. As a teenager, Farley worked at a garage owned by Formula One champion Phil Hill, and once restored a 1966 Ford Mustang he paid $500 for, according to Top Gear.

In the interview, Farley said racing keeps him grounded.

“When I’m at the track, I’m just Jimmy Car-Car, nothing more. It’s a great way to stay humble and connected to the product, and it’s a great way for me to relax, because I love competing,” he said.

Farley isn’t the only automotive executive to trade a suit and tie for a helmet and overalls. Toyota president Akio Toyoda, General Motors president Mark Reuss, and PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares all race. Toyoda even took his firm’s latest World Endurance Championship race car for a test drive.

225-mile R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec II Nur for sale

The R34-generation Nissan Skyline GT-R, built from 1999 to 2002, spawned numerous variants, but the V-Spec II Nür is among the most coveted. A virtually new example of this very rare GT-R is for sale, with an asking price of $485,000.

Offered through JDM Expo, a Japan-based import/export company, this GT-R is one of just 718 V-Spec II Nür models built, and one of just 156 finished in Millennium Jade. What makes this car so special, though, is that it has only 225 miles on its odometer, according to the seller.

The V-Spec II Nür was the pinnacle of R34 GT-R development. Nissan introduced the V-Spec II version in 2000, with major changes that included stiffer suspension and a carbon-fiber hood with a NACA duct. 

In 2002—the R34’s final year of production—Nissan upped the ante with the V-Spec II Nür model. Named in honor of the Nürburgring, the car featured an upgraded version of the RB26DETT engine with larger turbochargers on top of the V-Spec II upgrades. It made about 330 horsepower versus 276 hp for base models. Nissan also launched an M-Spec Nür model with different suspension tuning.

This particular car has been for sale for quite awhile; a promotional YouTube video for it was posted last November. Buyers may be shying away due to the potential difficulty in registering this car for street use in the United States, as it doesn’t yet qualify for the 25-year exemption.

The price could be another issue. It would smash the record GT-R selling price of $313,645 recently set by an M-Spec Nür model (per CarBuzz). Keep in mind that the previous record of $302,540 was set by another V-Spec II Nür with just 6 miles on the odometer. The asking price is also more than twice the $212,435 base price of a new 2021 Nissan GT-R Nismo, which offers far more performance but far less exclusivity.

Survey says: Millennials and Gen Z care about classic cars after all

Survey says: Millennials and Gen Z care about classic cars after all

It’s a common assumption that Millennials and members of Generation Z are less interested in cars than previous generations. But according to Hagerty survey results released last week, these younger drivers are more likely—not less—to want to own a classic car than their parents or grandparents.

Of the 10,000 United States drivers surveyed, Gen Z and Millennials were most likely to report currently owning a collectible or classic car. One quarter of Millennials surveyed said they owned a classic car, as did 22% of Gen Zers surveyed. They were followed by Gen X (19%), Baby Boomers (13%), and the so-called Silent Generation (11%).

In addition, members of the Gen Z and Millennial generations who don’t already own a classic car expressed more interest in owning one than older generations. Of the Millennials surveyed, 57% expressed interest in owning a classic car, and so did 53% of the Gen Zers surveyed. About half of Gen Xers (49%) also showed interest in classic cars, while numbers for Boomers (33%) and the Silent Generation (19%) were much lower.

Hagerty said these findings were consistent with previous data. Since 2017, Millennials and Gen Xers have sought classic-car insurance quotes and valuations at much higher rates than older generations, according to the company. Hagerty didn’t provide any details on what constitutes “classic” or “collectible” for the purposes of its surveys, but the past few years have seen cars from the 1990s and early 2000s—those most likely to trigger Millennial nostalgia—attract more attention from collectors.

More broadly, the survey found continued enthusiasm for driving across all generations.

Nearly three of four Americans (73%) surveyed said they enjoy driving, regardless of generation. In addition, 38% of survey respondents described themselves as active “driving enthusiasts,” defined by Hagerty as belonging to a car club, taking part in off-road or track driving, and attending car shows or auctions.

Attitudes toward driving by generation (from Hagerty 2020 Why Driving Matters survey)

Attitudes toward driving by generation (from Hagerty 2020 Why Driving Matters survey)

“Much of the ‘death of driving’ handwringing by the media in the wake of the Great Recession was based on data showing younger generations were getting their licenses later, buying their first vehicles later, and buying fewer vehicles compared to previous generations at the same age. That conflated buying power with demand,” Ryan Tandler, the survey lead, said in a statement. “The recession hit younger generations harder and delayed a host of major purchases and life milestones.”

Millennials are now catching up and, as the nation’s largest generation, they could become the collector-car hobby’s biggest group in the near future, Hagerty predicts. That is, if the economic fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic doesn’t put them right back where they were a decade ago.

The Mercedes-Benz 500 E turns 30: Respect your elders

The Mercedes-Benz 500 E turns 30: Respect your elders

Virtually every Mercedes-Benz model gets a performance variant these days, but that never would have happened without the Mercedes-Benz 500 E, which turns 30 this year. To commemorate the sport sedan’s birthday, Mercedes released a retrospective on its development.

Unveiled at the 1990 Paris International Motor Show, the 500 E was a W124-body mid-size sedan (which would get the E-Class designation for the United States in 1995) with the M119 5.0-liter V-8 from the R129-generation 500 SL. A twin-turbocharged racing version of this engine won the 1989 24 Hours of Le Mans in the Sauber-Mercedes C9 prototype. 

The initial 500 E made 326 horsepower and could do 0-62 mph in 5.9 seconds, according to Mercedes. Top speed was electronically limited to 155 mph.

The 500 E wasn’t the first Mercedes to follow this muscle-car template. In the 1960s, test engineer Erich Waxenberger shoehorned the 6.3-liter V-8 from a 600 limousine into a W109-body sedan (predecessor to today’s S-Class) to create the 300 SEL 6.3. And before it was absorbed into Mercedes, AMG built its own V-8 W124—the Hammer.

Mercedes-Benz 500 E

Mercedes-Benz 500 E

While it set a precedent for future Mercedes-AMG sport sedans, the 500 E wasn’t developed by AMG. Mercedes brought in Porsche for development work, and partnered with the firm on assembly, a complicated process that involved sending cars back and forth between Mercedes’ Sindelfingen factory and Porsche’s in nearby Zuffenhausen.

In Mercedes’ home market of Germany, the 500 E initially cost about twice as much as a base 300 E which, along with the low-volume production arrangement with Porsche, meant only 10,479 cars were built through the end of production in April 1995. In 1993, the model was renamed E 500 as part of a change in the W124 nomenclature. In March 1994, Mercedes launched an E 500 Limited version with special trim, and production limited to 500 units.

The 500 E/E 500 also spawned other V-8 W124 models. In 1991, Mercedes launched the 400 E (later E 420), which was less powerful (it made 279 hp) but ultimately sold in larger numbers, with 22,802 units shifted. The E 60 AMG arrived in 1993, with a 6.0-liter version of the M119 V-8 making 381 hp.

Mercedes retired the W124 model line in 1995, but the spirit of the 500 E lives on in today’s AMG E63 S sedan. Its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 produces 603 hp, allowing for 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds, with a top speed electronically limited to 186 mph. You can even get it as a wagon.