The Corvette C8 is much better than I expected!

The Corvette C8
I’m in love again. Image © 2019 Chevrolet, General Motors

Could it be I’m falling in love?

By now you all have heard the news: The Corvette C8 was unveiled yesterday to much fanfare. Since the 1950s Chevrolet has been toying with the idea of a mid-engined version of the Corvette for decades, only ever coming close once or twice in the 70s and 80s. Alas, Zora Arkus Duntov’s dream of a World-beating mid-engined Corvette had to wait until now. But the wait was worth it.

The C8 Corvette Stingray
I could actually see myself driving this! I’ve never been this excited for a Corvette in a long time! Photo © 2019 Chevrolet, General Motors.

Powered by the venerable LT-series 2 engine making 495 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque mated to a Tremec 8-speed dual-clutch transmission (no manual, unfortunately), the new C8 has rocket-like acceleration and great efficiency at highway speeds. Also, the car would be built out of lightweight materials like die-cast aluminum and composite materials. Paired with the optional Z51 package, the car would feature bigger brakes, improved cooling, a performance exhaust, and a performance suspension system.

The new engine layout and performance over the stock C7 are great and all, but the car has a few more surprises. Notably, the C8 has both a trunk and a frunk, and comes standard with a targa top for when you want to blast down the Coastal Highway listening to that LT2 scream. But what’s the most shocking about this car is the price.

The C8 Corvette Stringray
Finally, Duntov’s dream has been realized! Photo © 2019 Chevrolet, General Motors.

Prepare yourself…

Chevrolet has announced that the C8 would only set you back $60,000.

$60,000!? That’s more affordable than anything else on the market! The Alfa Romeo 4C I spec’d out when I wrote about why hypercars don’t excite me anymore costs over $72,000! Chevrolet has dropped the mic in front of the supercar world with an affordable alternative! To understand exactly how big this is, the Corvette C8’s closest competitor is Porsche, with their Cayman and 911. The base 718 Cayman is around $57,000 MSRP, while the 911 Carrera costs around $91,000 MSRP. The new Corvette C8 is faster and more powerful then both cars, around the price of the Cayman!

It’s appropriate that Chevrolet has revealed the C8 near the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo XI mission that landed Neil Armstong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon; The Corvette C8 is a moonshot that has successfully taken off!

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The Lotus Evija: Is it a true Lotus?

The Lotus Evija
The 2020 Lotus Evija. Photo © 2019 Lotus Cars.

Could this be the future of “Simplify, then add Lightness?”

Lotus has finally revealed the all-electric hypercar they’ve been teasing for months, and now it has a proper name: Evija. The Lotus Evija is Lotus Cars’ attempt at chasing down the Tesla Roadster with a lightweight carbon monocoque chassis mated to a 2000 horsepower motor and the industry’s lightest weight battery pack. Tipping the scales at 1680 kilograms (3703 pounds), Lotus claims that the Evija is the lightest production electric hypercar to enter production. For comparison, the Nio EP9 weighs 1735 kilograms (3825 pounds).

The Lotus Evija
Photo © 2019 Lotus Cars.

Marbled carved by the wind

While the massive weight doesn’t seem very Lotus-like, the large swaths of bodywork seemingly carved out of the car does lend itself well to Lotus’ modus operandi. Done for the sake of aerodynamics and lightening, the Evija has openings practically everywhere. My particularly favorite angle of the car is from behind; where the taillight LEDs line the inside of the rear airflow exhaust. The massive rear diffuser with the integrated LED safety light is an interesting touch as well. Noticeably absent are the inclusion of wing mirrors. Instead, the car uses retractable camera pods behind the front wheels, leaving the profile of the car unfettered. Altogether, the car does look like a Lotus, with some styling references to the Lotus Evora and even the Danny Bahar Esprit concept car.

The Lotus Evija
Photo © 2019 Lotus Cars.

The styling continues into the interior, with the dashboard and center console being dominated by open spaces. Reminiscent of the tubular frames in some of Lotus’ cars from the 50s and 60s, the interior is pretty sparse. The climate controls, radio, and drive controls are all on the center console “blade”, and the only other decorations in the interior are the instrument cluster and the steering wheel. Inspired by Formula 1, the steering wheel is squared-off and simplified. All of the controls are compressed into the center of the wheel, with turn indicators, lights, cruise control, and other functions beings within thumb’s reach. The steering wheel is dominated by a single red dial that controls the driving modes, with five distinct settings. Lastly, a single multi-function display provides just the information you need according to the different driving modes.

The Lotus Evija
Photo © 2019 Lotus Cars.

The Bleeding Edge

Technologically speaking, the Evija is at the bleeding edge of electric vehicle design thanks to the involvement of Geely. While the power and speed of the car are nothing to scoff at, the time it takes to charge the batteries is leaning toward the realm of science fiction. Lotus claims that the Evija can completely replenish its batteries in nine minutes using an 800kW charger. Even when using a 350kW charger, the Evija would still take 18 minutes to completely charge. Thanks to its Williams Formula-E-derived drivetrain, the Evija has the lightest, most energy-dense battery pack ever fitted to a production car. The total range for this car is rated at 270 miles; comparable to the current generation Evora.

A true Lotus?

The Lotus Evija
Photo © 2019 Lotus Cars.

One question remains, however: Can an ultra-limited production car valued at $2 million be considered a Lotus? Honestly, I’m on the fence about this one. When I first wrote about the Lotus Hypercar, I claimed that such a car flies in the face of Colin Chapman’s ideals of what made a great sports car. The creed “Simplify, then add lightness” was more than a mantra; it was the formula for what made a Lotus, a Lotus. You don’t need massive amounts of power and displacement to make an engaging car. You just need a lightweight reinforced chassis and great suspension tuning. The Evora is probably the best car I’ve ever driven thanks to its incredibly stiff chassis and excellent suspension.

The Lotus Evija
Photo © Lotus Cars.

On the other hand, Lotus has always been introducing innovative technologies. In the 70s, Lotus dominated Formula 1 thanks to its adoption of ground effects. When Lotus was involved in sports car racing in the 60s, cars like the Lotus 23B were miles ahead of the competition thanks to Lotus’ innovative use of fiberglass and other lightweight materials. For Lotus to find a way to develop a lighter-weight, denser battery pack, they could potentially lead the way in making actual lightweight, electric sports cars for the masses.

The Lotus Evija
Photo © 2019 Lotus Cars.

While I still scoff at the existence of a $2 million hypercar Lotus for the son of a sheik, I have to hope that if this car is successful, some of that technology could trickle down to their more “pedestrian offerings”. Imagine an electric Evora with a similar drivetrain or even an Elise.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

The Lotus Evija
Photo © 2019 Lotus Cars.

A Walk Around the Hayward Shoreline

One of the great things about living in the Bay Area is having the opportunity to be able to go to some interesting places and observe nature! Recently, I managed to take a short trip to the Hayward Shoreline to see the flora and fauna. Plus, I needed an excuse to bring out one of my weirder vintage lenses specifically for the purpose of wildlife photography: my Spiratone Minitel-M 500mm F/8 Mirror Lens.

Watching nature through a strange lens

A Spiratone Minitel-M 500mm F/8 Mirror Lens found on the PentaxForums.
A very similar example to my Spiratone Mirror Lens found on the PentaxForums.

This is a very weird lens. In most cases, it’s actually pretty difficult to use because of how narrow both the aperture and the depth of field is, in addition to the huge focal length. But, when you get the focus right, you get this very interesting bokeh effect because of the shape of the mirror. Because the lens is designed like a reflecting telescope, you get “donut-shaped” points of light instead of the typical circular or geometric dots. The end result is pictures which sort of remind me of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings. And thanks to the 500mm focal length, I can get some decent shots of wildlife without getting too close.

Knowing the quirks, I decided to bring it with me on my hike on the Hayward Shore. I was hoping to capture more birds since the shoreline is known for a variety of cranes, herons, and others. While I only found a few birds, I did get some shots of the ground squirrels that were practically everywhere.

The Minitel-M is a powerful lens for macro photography. The quality of the above image definitely shows what the lens can do from a short distance from the subject. Because of its quirkiness, however, I had to shoot with the digital viewfinder. The focus just seems to be a little “off” through the regular viewfinder. That might be because I was shooting with a filter, and maybe it threw off the focus a bit? I need to test it more.

A certain combination of natural and artificial

The Hayward Shoreline is beautiful if you’re a fan of the windy, salty air from the ocean and vast salt marshes. The day I went, there was barely any people walking on the paths, leading to a sense of tranquil isolation. That ambiance is easily shattered though because the park itself is in the flight path to Oakland International Airport; one of the busiest airports in the Bay Area.

Between listening to the waves crashing and the birds chirping, the drone of jet engines interrupted nature constantly. It was as if being reminded I was in one of the busiest metro areas in the world. I didn’t mind too much though. The planes were only slightly louder than the wind itself on that particular day. If I had the choice and a little more time, I would definitely visit again. At least then, I’d be able to get used to using the Minitel-M.

See the rest of the photos here!

I can’t get enough of the DeTomaso P72

The DeTomaso P72 is just gorgeous!
The DeTomaso P72 might be my new favorite car! Photo © 2019 G.F Williams / DeTomaso

I really do think this is the best-looking car ever.

This past weekend, the Goodwood Festival of Speed started and ended while I was away from the desk. I did manage to cover some of the more notable events in my new series “Weekend Rear-view”, but there was one piece of news that I simply couldn’t get enough of; The reveal of the DeTomaso P72!

Oh God; that EXHAUST NOISE!

In my Weekend Rear-view, I mentioned that the car is based on the Apollo Intenza Emozione. Personally, I think the P72 is much, much better looking! But, it does use the same naturally-aspirated 6.3-liter V12, so it looks as good as it sounds! Speaking of its looks; the car is inspired by the styling of some famous prototype race cars from the 60s. Cars like the Ferrari 330 P4 / 412P and Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale are definitely reflected in the lines of the car. In fact, this has actually caused some issues with Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, who has called out DeTomaso for copying their design for the Pininfarina P4/5.

I think this is a bit of a moot point since it’s clear that both cars were inspired by the design of the Ferrari 330 P4 and other similar race cars. That being said, I think the P72 pulls it off a little better than the Pininfarina P4/5. I mean, just look at it!

It’s just gorgeous!

The car looks exactly like the kind of thing I would sketch in the margins of my notebooks during elementary school. Hell, I still sketch cars like this when I get a chance! It has all the classic lines and proportions, and the interior is simply beautiful. Polished and machined copper adorn the inside and outside of the car, and most notably, the top-mounted exhaust. Both the wing mirrors and wheels are finished with polished copper as well, giving the car a weird combination of retro 60’s styling and steampunk aesthetics. I might even go far as to say that the interior looks just as good, if not, better than the Pagani Huayra’s!

A quick pencil sketch I did in 2016.
A quick pencil sketch I did back in 2016 during a meeting at work. I prefer flowing lines over sharp edges!

Now, I know what I said about hypercars. But, this car just happens to be one of the very few that I’m actually excited about! Part of that is because this car looks nothing like your typical hypercar. Cars like the Aston Martin Valkyrie have their designs dictated purely by aerodynamics, and in a way, that takes away from the overall design. The cars aren’t beautiful; they’re purposeful. The P72 is the opposite of what a typical hypercar looks like, and that’s why I like it so much. The P72 is retro design absolutely done right.

DeTomaso couldn’t have picked a better way to return.

Secret McLaren-BMW M5 Wagon Test Car Revealed

Imagine one of these, but with a huge V12 shoved in it! Photo © BringATrailer.com / ygbsm
Imagine one of these, but with a huge V12 shoved in it! Photo © BringATrailer.com / ygbsm

I really love the Mclaren F1. It seems that I’m still learning something new about the development of the world’s fastest naturally-aspirated car! During the development of the S70/2 48-valve V12, the engine was practically shoe-horned into test cars like “Albert”; a Noble Ultima GTR test car. Imagine my surprise to learn that there is a secret BMW M5 Wagon test car with the legendary S70/2 crammed in it!

There’s something really funny about taking a hilariously overpowered engine and shoving it into something like the family grocery-getter. The BMW M5 Wagon is more for the discerning enthusiast with three kids. Despite that, I’m really getting some Paul Newman’s Ford V8-powered Volvo Wagon vibes from this car! But, how did this car even come to exist?

During a recent Collecting Cars with Chris Harris Podcast, Harris was interviewing with former McLaren engineer David Clark. When the subject of testing the S70/2 engine came up, Clark mentioned that there was, in fact, a BMW M5 Wagon test car for the S70/2. Not only there was a test car, but Clark himself had driven it! Clark went on to say that the car still exists somewhere in BMW’s collection, presumably stored next to the Ark of the Covenant. Apparently, this car belongs to a secret collection of BMW test cars that never made it to the road. Maybe it was because someone decided the S70/2 was simply too much engine for someone picking up their kids from soccer practice?

Either way, this is a really cool reveal! It makes me wonder what else might be lurking in some warehouse somewhere?