A biweekly roundup of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird:
Toyota Tundra to haul space shuttle
Somehow, while Ford, Dodge and Chevrolet were all arguing over who was king of the pickup-truck hill, Toyota managed to sneak in under the radar and snag one of the best public-relations stunts of all time. The space shuttle Endeavour is on the way to a museum, and a Toyota Tundra is going to help it get there.
The shuttle will be towed most of the way from LAX by a special transporter, but an unmodified, V-8-powered Tundra will hook up to handle the last half-kilometre. Granted, there are some special dollies placed under the Shuttle to help reduce rolling resistance, but it's an impressive feat overall.
A Tundra's towing capacity is about 10,000 pounds, and some easy math shows the 300,000 pound shuttle to be 30 times that. If everything goes off without - ahem - a hitch, it'll make for some serious bragging rights.
McLaren reveals "ultimate supercar" P1 concept
Few cars are as iconic as the McLaren F1. Actually, that's not true: there are plenty of supercar icons to choose from over the years (Lamborghini Countach, Ferrari Testarossa, Porsche 959), but the F1 is probably the only one worth remembering from the 1990s.
A three-seat, carbon-fibre affair that could reach nearly 400 kilometres per hour, it was the fastest road-going car of its time, and is still ridiculously fast by modern standards. Aside from the weird centre-mounted driver's seat, the F1 has all kinds of outrageous engineering like an engine bay lined with gold-leaf to keep temperatures down. It also has a better power-toweight ratio than the heavyhitting 1,000 h.p. Bugatti Veyron.
I'm not saying McLaren's current supercar - the alphabet-soup MP4-12C - is disappointing by comparison, but it's certainly not in the same league as dear old grand-dad. McLaren intends to remedy this and has just released renderings of the new car, dubbed the P1; P being slightly further along the alphabet than F, you see.
Details? Well, they aren't going for outright top speed, hoping to - according to executive chairman Ron Dennis - build instead "the quickest and most rewarding series production road car on a circuit." Sounds good, and yet, like all modern supercars, it does look a bit like an ergonomic cordless mouse. Porsche Turbo gets fourwheel steering
Remember four-wheel steering? I do. It was all the rage in the 1980s and early '90s with various systems designed to actually have the rear wheels pivot slightly in the opposite direction to the front wheels, bringing the tail-end around snappily.
It was mostly popular with Japanese manufacturers, and when I was searching for my Mazda MX6 GT, I remember how it completely transformed a fast but noseheavy sports coupe into a fast and nose-heavy sports coupe with the potential for a very expensive repair bill. Which is why I avoided the four-wheel-steer models when looking for one.
Just when it had appeared the car industry had completely shelved the idea, here's Porsche resurrecting it for its supercar-beating nextgen 911 Turbo. Details are scarce on the system, but you can bet it's going to make the longer-wheelbase 911 even nimbler around a tight track, and will be coupled with Porsche's excellent all-wheel drive to make one of the most all-weather-capable sports cars ever.
The new 911 Turbo is supposed to have something like 550 h.p. when it arrives, with a 0-100 km/h time of three-or-less seconds, and a top speed of more than 300 km/h. All very useful when the RCMP impounds your car on the Sea-to-Sky. World record set for most on-track Ferraris
Silverstone is one of the premier racing circuits in the world, and last weekend saw a record number of Ferraris take to its tarmac. The previous record stood at 490 cars, but this effort smashed that.
The total number of circling F-cars? 964, which is a number best-known for not quite being 1,000. Good effort though, as the other numbers are all a bit staggering: $162 milliondollar's-worth of machinery, more than 5000 litres of engine displacement, 495,000 horsepower.
The video of the event is particularly impressive, although it has to be said (apart from the 458 Italia), the modern Ferrari lineup would do well to avoid parking too close to the beautiful machines of the past - the California ends up looking like a Detroit muscle car, and the FF appears the size of a Mack truck.
Japanese cars bear brunt of Chinese-Japanese territorial dispute
Odds are, you've owned a foreign make or two, now or in the past. Anybody tried to set fire to it because your country was squabbling over some uninhabited rocks?
Unfortunately, if you live in Beijing, the answer might be, "Yes."
Anti-Japanese feeling has been running high in China of late, what with the anniversary of the Manchurian Incident (Japan's 1931 invasion) coming up and a current vicious dispute over the tiny Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. These unsightly lumps of rock are unimportant in and of themselves but happen to be close to a major shipping lane, as well as major oil deposits. Uh oh.
Honda, Mazda and Nissan all build cars in China, but they've had to shutter the factories recently - cars have been smashed at local dealerships and, in one case, set ablaze. Worse, private owners have seen their foreign-built cars tipped over or set ablaze by angry crowds.
Some sharper owners have taken to emblazoning their rides with patriotic slogans, or taking all the badges off their cars.
In case you missed it - Death of a supercar
I missed this year's Supercar Weekend at VanDusen Gardens - a shame as it was supposed to be a heck of a turnout for high-end metal. Unfortunately for one supercar enthusiast, the day ended badly.
An extremely rare Ferrari F40 (perhaps my favourite car of all time) left the grounds just as the weather started to turn cold and wet. The driver - purportedly a friend of the car's owner - scraped the nose quite badly on exit, a portent of things to come.
Notoriously tricky to drive, with a somewhat laggy turbocharged engine, the F40 ended the day smashed into a pole, bits of its carbonfibre monocoque strewn all over Oak Street. I may have screamed a little when I saw the pictures.
Watch this space for all the week's best and worst of automotive news, or submit your own auto oddities to brakingnews@gmail. com.