INTRODUCING THE AE DISGUSTO METER.

By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Detroit. I don’t have any grand pronouncements at the ready for the demise of 2021. It also seems obviously tedious to point out that the last few years were “less than” in just about every way possible. The term “Shit Show” has been overused to describe our lot of late, but it remains the most accurate descriptor.

I’m not into “New Year’s Resolutions” either. They’re meaningless exercises of self-flagellation, because resolving to do anything different with the turn of the New Year is inevitably self-defeating and oh-so-obsolete by February. If something needs to be fixed in our lives there’s no logical reason to wait for the calendar to turn to do it, is there?

Enough of that. The car business continues to defy logic in ways that are incomprehensible at times. Vehicles being canonized for various Cars, Trucks and SUVs of the Year awards long before sellable units are ready for production – let alone reaching paying customers – is an ongoing outrage. But to rail against it is a monumental waste of time at this point. These recognitions are getting flat-out silly, with awards parsed to the most minute categories like: “Best SUV to Go Profilin’ at Your Kid’s School” (but being resolutely impractical for anything else – WG). Or, “Best Luxury Crossover to Show Up for Your Family’s Christmas Get-Together” (even though the payment for it sucks the living hell out of the family budget the rest of the year -WG). 

It is now common to see publications so far removed from this business doling out awards to the industry – for the notoriety and the hoped-for cash from the manufacturers – that it barely registers a blip on the AE Disgusto Meter. I mean, if Horse and Hound surfaced with a “Best SUV to Humble Your Neighbors at the Stables” award, I doubt that no one would even bother to discount it, even though it’s a publication made famous in the film Notting Hill.

Speaking of the AE Disgusto Meter, which we’re unveiling for the New Year, there are so many other things to continue to be outraged about in this business that I’ve almost lost track of all of them. 

Almost.

The continuing canonization of “The Delusional Dictator” – aka St. Elon – is excruciatingly tedious at this point, and his predilection for puffing up his chest about his accomplishments while his company continues to crank out cars with major defects is beyond disgusting. As I said last year, he has grown sick and tired of the business, and the accolades can’t keep up with the ugly realities of actually “doing” the auto business. And he despises being held accountable for anything, and make no mistake, his little car company is will soon turn into a Giant Bowl of Accountability with government safety operatives about to immerse his ass in the fire, big time. Don’t be surprised if ol’ Elon bails on Tesla while the bailing is good.

The continued canonization of certain car executives by certain bootlicking members of the media (and by the card-carrying hacks on Wall Street) is pegging the AE Disgusto Meter too. Being in the right place at the right time and not screwing things up – at least not yet – shouldn’t be a ticket to Sainthood, but alas, in the twisted times we’re living in, that’s what we’re being inundated with. But don’t worry, with every unexpected big-dollar recall and the worrisome upcoming product launches – which will be botched as certain as it snows in Michigan in January – it’s just a question of when and not if that one dubious halo in particular will be irrevocably tarnished.

And it’s about the coming EV frenzy. I am waiting to see a collaborative effort from all of the auto manufacturers to start putting charging stations front and center. Enough with the dark public parking garages and unsafe locations that are supposed to constitute viable charging opportunities – those will simply not cut it going forward. It would seem that the staggering investment being made in developing EV technology by the world’s auto manufacturers would be worthy of a coordinated investment plan to transform this nation’s landscape with welcoming and high-performing charging stations. This development can’t come soon enough.

I can’t close this week’s issue without mentioning our two favorite cars from last year. Yes, there were plenty of other noteworthy machines – particularly the Cadillac CT4-V and CT5-V – but the following two automobiles moved us the most. And no, we’re not about to mention SUVs, Crossovers or Trucks. Yes, I understand that they fortify the coffers of the participating industry players to unheard of profits, but they do nothing for us. 

So, the following are Autoextremist machines to the core. They aren’t for everybody, and they aren’t trying to fit an industry niche or appeal to a certain demographic. They make powerful statements from opposite ends of the automotive spectrum. And they’re the most noteworthy machines from last year.

(Images courtesy of SpeedKore.com)
Now this is an Autoextremist-certified machine. The “Hellacious™” Charger, built by SpeedKore, is a road-going version of the movie car used in Universal Pictures’ new Fast & FuriousF9. The “Hellacious™” Charger is this custom car builder’s first mid-engine muscle car. “This Charger is one of our most extreme builds to date,” said Jim Kacmarcik, president and owner of SpeedKore. “After commissioning renowned designer Sean Smith to design the car and working with F9’s picture vehicle coordinator Dennis McCarthy to build the nine chassis and vehicle bodies for the film, we wanted to bring the movie magic of F9 to life. ‘Hellacious’ is a road-going version of the movie car with the functionality of a purpose-built performance car. We couldn’t be more excited to debut ‘Hellacious’ alongside the actual film as yet another unique representation of our design and engineering capabilities as a custom car builder.” 

The “Hellacious” Charger is powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter Hellcat V8 mounted between the rear axles in a custom SpeedKore-engineered frame. The engine’s 707HP and 650 pound-feet of torque make it to the rear wheels via a gated-manual Graziano transaxle from a Lamborghini Gallardo. The Hellcat V8 breathes through a custom exhaust fabricated from MagnaFlow components; the SpeedKore-designed headers and dual mufflers are routed high in the chassis to clear the mid-engine powertrain before exiting through downward-facing tips. A front-mount Saldana performance radiator keeps the engine cool while accommodating the mid-engine architecture of the car. At the rear, high-performance intercoolers feed cool air to the 2.4-liter supercharger. 

The machine features a SpeedKore-designed perimeter frame with double A-arm front suspension from Detroit Speed and an integrated rear cradle with double wishbone suspension from Race Car Replicas (RCR). It is equipped with an Ididit steering column and Detroit Speed steering rack; QA1 shocks with track-focused dampening; Brembo 6-piston calipers up front and dual Brembo 4-piston calipers out back. Custom HRE 18-inch “Hellacious” center-lock wheels with 275/35R18 front and 345/35R18 rear tires complete this purpose-built setup. 

“Hellacious” is rendered in full carbon fiber like SpeedKore’s previous Chargers but adds a bespoke wide body styled by Sean Smith Designs. Pronounced fender cut-outs, unique body siding and a glass rear hatch to expose the engine compartment complete the aggressive bodywork, while BASF Glasurit matte-black paint completes the bad-ass look. 

Inside, “Hellacious” is equipped with low-back racing seats and Simpson harnesses. Classic Instrument gauges are mounted in an aluminum dashboard, and an integrated roll hoop and rear-facing firewall complete the interior packaging. The SpeedKore Charger uses a vertical-slat grille and factory 1968 Charger hideaway headlights finished with metal brightwork, complementing the brushed steel front and rear bumpers. Shaved rain gutters and flush-mounted glass present a seamless side profile, while a rear fascia with round quad taillights and a bronze stripe keyed to the color of the wheels finish the look. For more information you can visit www.speedkore.com.

(Ferrari images)
And last but not least, the limited-edition Ferrari Daytona SP3 joins the Italian sports car manufacturer’s Icona series, which debuted in 2018 with the Ferrari Monza SP1 and SP2. It’s an homage to the legendary Ferrari 330 P3/4, one of the most beautiful racing cars ever built. On February 6, 1967, Ferrari swept the top three places at the 24 Hours of Daytona in the first round of that year’s International World Sports Car Championship. (It was also the last sports car victory for Ferrari that year, as the Ford Mk IV won the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.) The three cars that took the checkered flag that day – 1. Bandini/Amon (No. 23 330 P3/4); 2. Parkes/Scarfiotti (No. 24 330 P4) and 3. Rodriguez/Guichet (No. 26 412 P) – represented the pinnacle of development of the Ferrari 330 P3, a model that chief engineer Mauro Forghieri had significantly improved in each of the three racing car fundamentals: engine, chassis and aerodynamics.
The 330 P3/4 perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the sports prototypes of the 1960s, a decade now considered the golden era of closed wheel racing and an enduring reference point for generations of engineers and designers. The name of the new Icona – Ferrari Daytona SP3 – pays tribute to that legendary 1-2-3 finish, and it was presented at the Mugello Circuit during the 2021 Ferrari Finali Mondiali on November 20th. The Daytona SP3’s design “is a harmonious interplay of contrasts, sublimely sculptural, voluptuous surfaces alternating with the kind of sharper lines that revealed the burgeoning importance of aerodynamics in the design of racers such as the 330 P4, 350 Can-Am and 512 S,” according to Ferrari PR minions. The choice of a ‘Targa’ body with a removable hard top for the Daytona SP3 “not only delivers exhilarating driving pleasure but also usable performance,” according to Ferrari. From a technical perspective, the Daytona SP3 features a naturally-aspirated, mid-rear-mounted V12. The most iconic of all of Maranello’s engines, this engine delivers 829HP – making it the most powerful engine ever built by Ferrari – along with 697 Nm of torque and maximum revs of 9500 rpm. The chassis is built entirely from composite materials using Formula 1 technologies that have not been seen in a road car since the LaFerrari, Maranello’s last supercar.
The seat is an integral part of the chassis to reduce weight and guarantee the driver a driving position similar to that of a competition car. And, just like the machines that inspired it, the aerodynamic research and design focused on achieving maximum efficiency purely using passive aero solutions. Thanks to unprecedented features, such as chimneys that extract low-pressure air from the underbody, the Daytona SP3 is the most aerodynamically efficient car ever built by Ferrari without resorting to active aero devices. Because of the clever integration of these technical innovations, the car can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in 2.85s and from zero to 200km/h in just 7.4s. “Exhilarating performance, an extreme set-up, and the intoxicating V12 soundtrack deliver completely unparalleled driving pleasure,” the Ferrari PR minions concluded (We concur -WG). How much? It doesn’t really matter, but it’s probably somewhere around $2 million. And they’re probably all sold anyway, but they may build 500 of them (or fewer). 

As I’ve said previously, this machine put me right over the edge. The Ferrari 330 P3/P4 was one of my all-time favorite racing cars. And this Daytona SP3 is the most desirable Ferrari ever built, in my estimation. It is simply magnificent, and even though we rarely announce such things, it’s what an Autoextremist Car of the Year should be. 

As I’ve said many times before, the automobile obviously means more to me than it does for most. I grew up immersed in this business, and the passionate endeavor surrounding the creation of automotive art has never stopped being interesting for me. And it is very much art, by the way. Emotionally involving and undeniably compelling mechanical art that not only takes us where we want to go but moves us in ways that still touches our souls deeply.

I for one will never forget the essence of the machine, and what makes it a living, breathing mechanical conduit of our hopes and dreams.

And that’s the High-Octane/Electron Truth for this first week of 2022.

 

Editor’s Note: In case you missed it, you can read our AUTOEXTREMIST 2021 YEAR IN REVIEW here. And click on Next 1 Entries below to scroll through past Rants. -WG