A biweekly round-up of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird:
Italian Job II: famous Lamborghini found
I’ll bet you can still picture the opening shots.
The snowcapped and verdant Italian Alps. Raised bridges, switchback turns, and concrete bollards rimming a road that drapes across the landscape like an endless tarmac spaghetti noodle. And slurping it all up, a bright-orange Lamborghini with a screaming V-12.
Three minutes of glory and then tunnel, bulldozer, fireball. Has there ever been a better film intro for gearheads? There are a few contenders, but the original 1969 Italian Job was the absolute business.
Now, Lamborghini’s found the original Arancia Orange Miura and restored it to its former glory. (Not the crashed one – that was a previously wrecked car used for a bit of movie trickery.)
Serial #3586 is a 1968 model Miura P400, fitted with a 4.0-litre V-12 engine that sits in a transverse position just behind the driver’s head. It was originally painted Arancia Orange, a particularly rare colour, with a white interior, but the latter was switched to black for filming. 1960S film technology being what it is, the car looks reddish in the shots, which perhaps is why its identity has been a mystery for so long.
However, Lamborghini’s historical division has now confirmed that the car, which belongs to Liechtenstein-based collector Fritz Kaiser, is indeed the hero car so many grew up dreaming of. Kaiser reportedly paid half a million dollars for the car last year, which is a bit of a bargain given its provenance.
Anybody fancy giving Michael Caine a call and see if he’s up for a road trip to Liechtenstein? You could go and blow the bloody doors off.
VW ready to launch ID.3 EV hatchback
With fuel prices on the rise, EV sales on the North Shore have been outstripping demand. For those who’ve been waiting for VW to begin delivering on their promised EV range, good news as the order books are about to open.
The ID.3 hatchback is due to be unveiled this September, but Volkswagen has all but taken the wraps off it this week, showing a lightly disguised version of the car, along with some pricing. The 330-kilometre range version will be priced at under 30,000 euros (roughly the same as a Nissan Leaf), and the order books open right after the launch.
The “3” designation for the ID.3 represents it being a third milestone for the company, with VW rating it as important as the Beetle and the Golf. That’s a fair assessment if they can get it right, but pricing pre-rebates will still place it out of reach for most average consumers.
However, given the success of high-content models for VW, like the Golf R and Golf Alltrak, a moderately expensive Volkswagen EV would do extremely well in the North Shore market right now. I’d expect local dealers to be deluged by demand: here’s hoping VW doesn’t forget that Canada was its first market in North America, and gives us what its customers are asking for.
Mopar’s Hellephant crate engine sells out in two days
If VW’s retail customers are ready for a cleaner future, then Dodge fans just want power. All of the power.
And it doesn’t get much more powerful than this, the 7.0-litre “Hellephant” supercharged V-8. For about the price of a fully-loaded Honda Civic, Mopar will sell you a crate engine that makes a staggering 1,000 horsepower and 950 foot-pounds of torque.
However, before you start dreaming about all the unlikely cars you could drop this ready-to-go power package into (a Prius! a K-car!), please note that the Hellephant is already extinct. Well, not extinct, but entirely sold out. No one has an exact figure on the number of Hellephants Dodge was set to produce, but the cap was roughly 100.
If all this sounds a bit wasteful, know that most of the cars receiving these engine transplants will be show cars, with the odd weekend occasional driver. Nobody will be commuting in a Hellephant.
Or, if they are, they’ll be consuming enough fuel that they’ll be subsidizing an entire fleet of TransLink buses thanks to the transit tax. Does that help?
Dodge creates the ultimate speed trap
With the news that a form of photo radar is coming to a few dozen intersections throughout the Lower Mainland, and that yet again another supercar has been impounded on the Sea-to-Sky highway, speed enforcement is surely on the minds of many North Shore residents.
The sensible side of me knows that the police need only modestly powered patrol cars for enforcement, as there’s nothing that can outrun a radio signal. And if that fails there’s always a helicopter – the Bear in the Air.
On the other hand, I grew up with the Dukes of Hazzard and Smokey and the Bandit, and clearly so did Dodge SRT’s engineers. As a result, they’ve created a special patrol vehicle to accompany the multi-stage performance driving event One Lap Of America.
Based on the Durango SUV, “Speed Trap” gets a lightbar, and siren, and the full police package special. It also gets a rollcage, huge brakes, and a nearly 800 h.p. supercharged V-8 engine.
So yes, I know police work is paperwork and road checks and community engagement. But wouldn’t you watch a show where a Loose Cannon in an SUV cleans up a city full of ne’er do’ wells in shiny supercars. This Thursday at 8 p.m., it’s time to get Dur-angry on the latest episode of Durango.
We’re going to need a lot of chicken coops to drive through.
Watch this space for all the best and worst of automotive news, or submit your own auto oddities to firstname.lastname@example.org.