The News for February 26th, 2021

Welcome to the Hooniverse News! As always, this is a weekly recap of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. This week: Gordon Murray Automotive debuts track-ready T.50s Niki Lauda, Ford adds King Ranch edition to the Explorer, Jeep announces launch edition 392 Wrangler pricing, new Lexus NX leaks, Ferrari announces plans for Le Mans Hypercar program, plus other stories from the week.

Gordon Murray Automotive T.50s Niki Lauda


Riding on a wave of enthusiasm from the stunning and groundbreaking T.50 debut from six months ago, Gordon Murray Automotive is upping the ante. Developed alongside the “standard” street car, the T.50s Niki Lauda is a track-only version that cuts the weight, adds power, and increases downforce. It sticks with the T.50’s theme of driver involvement over everything else, so by track car standards this one is fairly tame. Lap times take a backseat to the driving experience but it’s no slouch.

The Cosworth-designed 3.9-liter V12 is a different version of the one found in the street car. Power increases from 690 to 701 horsepower and redline increases slightly to 12,100 RPM. They say that its new roof-mounted high-performance RAM induction airbox allows power to be increased to 725 horsepower. At the other end of the internal combustion equation is a racing exhaust that should make it one of the best-sounding cars on the planet. Hopefully your local track doesn’t have noise restrictions. Because race car, the six-speed manual H-pattern is replaced with a bespoke Xtrac IGS (Instantaneous Gearshift) six-speed with paddles. As its name implies, it’s stupid fast. It’s also lightweight and compact and offers two different sets of gear ratios which can be installed at the driver’s command. Top speed on track will be between 170 mph and 210 mph depending on the ratios.


Even the chassis is a bit different from the standard T.50. A specially developed lightweight carbon fiber monocoque with a honeycomb aluminum core adds immense stiffness and strength. All exterior body panels are unique to the car and made from carbon fiber as well. Even the windows and screens use glazing that has been further reduced in weight from the road car. I don’t even know what that means but it sounds cool. The forged aluminum front and rear double wishbone suspension is carried over from the road car but uses T.50s-specific springs, dampers, and anti-roll bars. As part of the deal customers can get the car’s suspension and aerodynamics set up just for them. Everything is adjustable.


Speaking of aerodynamics, it’s insane on this car. Completely new aero produces up to 3,300 pounds of downforce which is a staggering 1,100 pounds more than you’d get from the also track-only McLaren Senna GTR. Ironically, Gordon Murray Automotive’s opening statement in the press release mentions how they didn’t want to create an “over-downforced spaceship” that you’d need to be an F1 driver to utilize. I guess when you’ve designed F1 cars your interpretation of over-downforced is quite a bit different than that of mere mortals.


Stopping power comes from Brembo carbon ceramic discs (same as the road car) with six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers. It’s unclear how much, if any, the braking system is changed from the road car but they did add new ducting around each wheel to improve brake cooling. That goes a long way on a track day. There’s clearly no shortage in stopping power either with an incredible 3.5G of deceleration between the brakes and the aero. The T.50s sits on exceptionally light magnesium forged 18-inch wheels (weighing about 13 pounds each) with lightweight wheel hubs and center locking. Michelin slicks (or rain tires) are attached, measuring 250mm wide at the front and 300mm wide at the rear.


To answer the question many of you will have, the car is named after Niki Lauda to commemorate his famous win with the Murray-designed Brabham BT46B fan car in the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix. But also because Niki was just a legendary driver and a personal friend of Gordon Murray. 25 of these cars will be built and each will be individually named after one of Murray’s grand prix wins (as a car designer) starting with Kyalami 1974. Each of the cars will be named after the 24 subsequent wins in chronological order. Each car will come with a book about that race that it is named after with Murray’s view and memories of the victory. This is the kind of shit that only Gordon Murray can get away with.

The Gordon Murray Automotive T.50s Niki Lauda is the ultimate track car for those who value the experience over the numbers. Of course in capable hands it’ll still do great things, but it’s meant to amplify one’s love of driving. But only if that person has £3.1m ($4.3m) in Game Stonks to spare.

[Source: Gordon Murray Automotive]

Ford Explorer King Ranch

2021 Ford Explorer King Ranch edition introduces a rugged, premium appearance and brings the King Ranch name to America’s all-time best-selling SUV line.

You read that right. The ultra luxurious, western-themed, leather-clad King Ranch spec is coming to the Explorer. Once reserved exclusively for the F-Series, the King Ranch is now on both of Ford’s most popular SUVs (it came to the Expedition a while ago) with all of the same benefits. The move comes on the 20th anniversary of Ford’s collaboration with the legendary south Texas cattle ranch of the same name.

2021 Ford Explorer King Ranch edition introduces a rugged, premium appearance and brings the King Ranch name to America’s all-time best-selling SUV line.

Ford says that customer feedback and market insights have demanded a more refined interior for the Explorer. To which I say, which Explorer have they been driving? The last time I was in one the last thing I thought to myself was “man, I wish this thing had more dead animal carcasses in here”. Anyway, because we must consume all, the Explorer King Ranch aims to address those calls with mahogany-colored Mesa Del Rio leather. It covers the perforated front and second row seats, center console armrest, door trim rollovers, instrument panel, and steering wheel. The famous King Ranch Running W logo is applied throughout. Sapele wood inserts also provide for a natural, earthy feel throughout the cabin.

There are a handful of appearance updates as well to distinguish your Explorer from that of a peasant. A unique Stone Gray-painted mesh grille insert, 20″ aluminum wheels with a Running W center cap, liftgate scuff plate (those mall shopping bags can seriously damage paint), and quad chrome exhaust tips.

The Explorer King Ranch will start at $52,350 with AWD models commanding an extra $2,000. Deliveries commence this spring.

[Source: Ford]

Infiniti teases QX60 with new specs

INFINITI QX60 - Development Series - Part 2 - 190004.163-21-source

Infiniti has a big new debut coming soon and they’re eager to talk specs. The all-new 2022 Infiniti QX60 should debut in the coming weeks and we’ve been given some details to hold us over.

It’ll be powered by a familiar 3.5-liter V6 with 295 horsepower and paired with a brand new 9-speed automatic transmission. They say the new model will see a 20% increase in towing capacity which brings it up to 6,000 pounds on select models. That’s enough for a 22-foot Airstream or various weekend toys like motorcycles and personal watercraft. As shown in the press photos, they’ve been testing that tow rating to its limit in all sorts of conditions. Buyers are asking more and more out of their crossovers, so this one needs to be able to tow that much in all sorts of weather conditions and altitudes and do so comfortable. Infiniti says the QX60 will be the one to do it. So if you’re one of America’s millions of crossover buyers who likes to pretend you have a need for towing, you’ve got another attractive option coming soon.

392 Wrangler Launch Edition is wicked (expensive)

2021 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon 392

During V8 Week, the Wrangler 392 Launch Edition made waves by being wicked…ly expensive. The MSRP for this V8 Wrangler is $74,995 before all of the dealer markups that are sure to plague this thing. While this is specifically for the Launch Edition which comes loaded with just about everything Jeep could throw at it, that price is still insane.

As pointed out by MotorAuthority’s Joel Feder, that’s a few thousand more than what the significantly more powerful and bigger RAM 1500 TRX goes for (without markups). Both are built for extreme off roading, both have four doors, one has 230 more horsepower. Jeep’s V8-powered Wrangler uses a 6.4-liter (392-cubic-inch) HEMI with 470 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque compared to the TRX’s detuned Hellcat motor. Jalopnik points out that “base” model pricing for the 392 Wrangler should be closer to $60,000 though Jeep has not confirmed that. That would be a better price for sure, but that’s still several thousand more than the current-generation Ford F-150 Raptor which is also plenty capable of off-roading.

Even if you can get a standard 392 Wrangler in the 60s, would that still be worth it? Is a V8 in a Wrangler that important?

[Source: Jalopnik, Twitter]

Lexus NX leaked


GUESS WHAT GUYS! The new Lexus NX got leaked! It’s the next-generation luxury compact crossover that appears to – g-guys, why are you scrolling away? You guys? …. Guys?

[Source: Jalopnik]

Ferrari announces a Le Mans Hypercar program


The biggest news of the week by far was Ferrari’s announcement of a return to Le Mans. As a handful of automakers continue to announce their intentions to partake in the next generation of prototype racing using either IMSA’s LMDh or WEC’s LMH class, one of the bigger names has just announced a new program. Ferrari is returning to prototype racing for the first time since the mighty 333SP seen above spitting enough fire to melt a bumper. The class they’ve chosen is WEC’s Le Mans Hypercar and their planned debut is 2023.

Very little is known about this program since it’s still very early, but their choice to join Hypercar rather than LMDh can be very telling. The single biggest difference between the two classes is that Hypercar allows a little more design freedom and for a bespoke chassis in particular. Toyota and Glickenhaus are using it to develop a street car and race car on the same platform, so presumably Ferrari would debut some new super road car alongside the race car. This enables parts sharing and a chance to charge influencers a shit ton of money for the street car. LMDh on the other hand is meant for a more budget-friendly program where manufacturers only need to develop an engine and front bodywork on top of a spec chassis and electric hybrid power unit. Clearly Ferrari is planning to use the savings from their soon-to-be restricted Formula 1 budget to fund the Hypercar program instead.

While this is extremely exciting news, I’m already skeptical both of Ferrari’s commitment and how long the Hypercar formula can be sustainable. LMDh’s budget-focused formula was already enough to allegedly prompt Aston Martin to cancel their Valkyrie Hypercar project (though in reality it’s probably just because they were broke and wanted to blow their budget on a crappy F1 team instead). LMP1 died because its cost was unsustainable. Hypercar is supposed to be significantly cheaper than LMP1, but is it cheap enough? LMDh has already captured Acura, Audi and Porsche and will see numerous other commitments soon. And if LMDh and LMH ever get to be on the same track, no way will the ACO allow LMDh to be faster and vice versa. Trusting the BOP to work between both classes worries me the most. But come 2023 we’ll at least have a full field again which is properly exciting.

[Source: Racer | Image © 2021 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]

Other Coverage From the Week

Lexus IS 500

It was a surprisingly busy week in the industry and my fellow Hoons were on top of it. In case you missed it:

What’s your automotive news?

hooniverse news whats your naws

That’s all I’ve got for you this week, so now it’s your turn. If you saw anything, fixed something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything even remotely car related that you want to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.

Have a good weekend.

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28 responses to “The News for February 26th, 2021”

  1. Zentropy Avatar

    I think the interior of the Explorer is its weakest attribute, so (except for the price) I think the King Ranch trim really spruces that up nicely. I just wish Ford would give the Explorer a facelift, because I’ve never liked the way the headlights and grille integrated. I’m going to try to link an image of a quick clean-up I did of it, but I’m not sure how it will work in this forum format. Hopefully it’ll at least include it as a link, if not an imbed.


    1. caltemus Avatar

      That’s much better; so much so that I had to go back up and see the original to see what changed. It’s like GM, release the car ugly, then facelift it into decency right before killing it off.

      1. OA5599 Avatar

        That’s a good strategy. It makes loyalists buy twice.

        Except Aztek. They made it better, but killed it before it reached decency.

  2. gerberbaby Avatar

    I saw on a clickbait this week that the xc90 is on the top 10 list of least reliable vehicles. Made me sad. my wife loves her 08 s80 and whenever I drive it, I think what a nice car this is. No modern electronic nannys to annoy me either. Not sure where that leaves the next upgrade to come from.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Yeah, I noticed that, too. Jalopnik had this article with an utterly embarrassing placement for Volvo:
      I haven’t dug up the details, but assume that the faulty, yet sexy 90-series is running the show in the US. The same JD Powers survey, with the same methodology, found Volvo to be the most reliable “premium” brand in Germany (but Germans don’t accept Asian premium brands). The XC60 is the most reliable car overall (also the most successful “premium” SUV in Europe by sales numbers), yet Volvo as a brand is number 12. That suggest the less popular 90-series dragging down the brand here, too:

      1. Lokki Avatar

        That JD Powers ranking rocks as shocks my conventional wisdom brain – Kia has -the best- mass market reliability, and Honda escaped the bottom 5 by one position AND is ranked lower than Jeep for goodness sake. I expected Land Rover and Alfa Romeo to be down in the bottom of the quality crater, but never would have bet on Buick and Cadillac to score so high – a single point below Toyota.

        The Tesla report is obviously a lie – I know a couple of people who own Teslas who tell me that, yeah, they have each had a couple of problems, but that’s not the norm. My favorite example is when my friend’s Model S had to window regulators fail, but as he pointed out, Tesla just buys those so they are not really a “Tesla” problem…. well okay then.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Yeah, I happen to agree with everything you say here. JD Powers has some highly subjective surveys, based on opinion and perception rather than hard facts. Not sure if this is one of them, will have to check later. I am literally hiding from a bunch of kids that would like to jump on me now.

          1. Lokki Avatar

            Okay, when one’s lebensklugheit has been challenged, it’s hard to just let it go. So… here is some perspective from Consumer Reports.


            Yeah, yeah, yeah, everybody hates on CU for their smug self-selected self-satisfied reporting readership, and their unconscious biases (https://setup.us/blog/4-as-to-marketing-to-personality-types).

            However: we are comparing their results to J.D. Powers. While my particular personality type believes that there is no one, ultimate, truth in anything, and thus I don’t particularly trust C.U. myself, we are comparing their results to J.D. Powers and if I must choose one of the two to guide me to Jerusalem in time for some big event, well, C.U. is my choice every time.

            For example:

            J.D. Powers:

            The Porsche 911 is the highest-ranked model in the 2021 study. It is the second time in three years that it has been named Most Dependable Model.

            Consumer Reports:

            Porsche is this year’s highest-ranking European brand. Its SUVs, the Macan and Cayenne, are both average.

          2. Sjalabais Avatar

            That’s the thing with (artificial?) controversy: Easier to talk about. And Porsche topping these lists has always irked me. Who really cares about reliability ratings? In my mind, second hand owners and your “analytical” crowd, but seeing Porsche on top is just a giant middle-finger to people who are looking for a car with the least amount of unexpected expenses.

            The Consumer Reports article hides behind a paywall, but I’ve seen it referred in other sources. Norway has its equivalent, “Autoindex”.
            Here’s the core table:
            Lexus nixes everyone, but spots 2-4 are one point apart each other on a scale 1-1000. And ownership reports…dunno. I had a neighbour who always recommended his crappy cars (Opel, Peugeot, a Galloper of all things). Once he bought a Subaru, he admitted that owning that one was much simpler. But he got bored and bought something with a need for regular repairs again. But he would have reported everything as near perfect…

          3. Fuhrman16 Avatar

            What is a Galloper?

          4. Sjalabais Avatar

            In spirit a relative to my Centennial:
            They were very successful in Norway, I still see lots and lots of them in the mountains.

  3. Batshitbox Avatar

    I am being hounded out of California by a plague of ignition system failures. I shall repair to my ancestral keep in South Portland, Maine for a month to gather my material and mental acumen, and return to San Francisco in the spring to scour this plague from my fleet; by the sword of grim determination and under the shield of sheer bloody-mindedness. (I’ll be taking the internet with me, so let me know when Detroit Diesel week is coming up.)

    February, as it turns out, is a shit month for 1980s era electronic ignitions. The Laverda was delivered to the reclusive Zen Monk of Point Arena this Groundhog’s Day for a simple dicky float bowl in the carburettor the mystic texts name only as “Sinestro”; for its placement on the left side of the bike. Ye monk’s subtle works quickly revived the carb, and a test run resulted in a loss of spark in “Centro” cylinder; which was a loose connection. A more involved thrashing of the motor exposed the third demon in “Destro” cylinder, which proved evident of an incipient catastrophic failure of the entire Reagan Era Bosch ignition system. Parts are on order.

    Whilst this drama was playing out, Econoline… faithful steed and bearer of the Laverda in times of suffering, was itself suffering a dodgy ignition module. The Bobs (a.k.a. the Craigs because they’re both named Bob Craig) exorcised that demon once I tithed $550 to their peculiar greasy temple.

    Everything was fine. Econoline was mighty. Laverda was in Hospital but expected to be Steve Austin by spring; better, stronger, faster.

    This afternoon Econoline was seized by another malevolent spirit, smack-dab in the drive lane of a conspicuously vivacious firehouse; one it is said of that the motors in the trucks and engines never close their thermostats. Contrarily, doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result proved not my insanity but just Econoline’s capriciousness. It started after a wee nap and so I cancelled the tow truck and limped home.

    …I’ve run out of purple ink. TL/DR: I’m flying to Maine on Sunday for a month’s vacation, the Econoline has an intermittent short in the ignition and I need it to be running, when I get back at the end of March, to go retrieve the Laverda which is having a whole new (but made by different Germans) ignition system installed.

    All of this shit is balls expensive.

    P.S. If that all goes well then I can tear down my Africa Twin and check the valve clearance on schedule (16,000 miles), put new front brake pads in, wire up some fog lights, maybe some heated grips on clearance for spring and… I don’t know… have an adventure? No, go back to work.

  4. Sjalabais Avatar

    I’m a human slug and haven’t done anything with the Centennial yet; parked for 3 months now. But my mechanic is asking if he can have the car for a month, to get the needed work done. Not sure if that is my route to go. Also order a surge tank gasket that is part of the spark-plugs-and-coils-routine. Planned arrival by…march 30th. Found moisture in the left rear passenger area and spend a day with house dryer drying it. No idea where the water came from, there is no trace of it on the sides of the car, all seals seem okay.

    I also did my half-yearly photo backup over 2 external drives and 2 PCs. With my 8 year old son lingering, we obviously ended up in the “Games”-folder, too, and have sinced played 1NSANE a fair bit. Anyone here remember it? It is a stupid fun drive-anywhere-game with capture the flag mode and lots of modded cars. I quit gaming just before Christmas, so finding this was a good few days of fun.

    (Yes, I keep pretending this was a functioning comment system with images; still beats Kinja)

    1. Salguod Avatar

      The only driving game I played was Driver for PS1. The capture the flag and run from the cops modes were a lot of fun, even if they were not terribly realistic.

      I also continue to pretend this is a real commenting system and that people will be notified so conversation can happen. It’s better than Kinja, but not Disqus.

      1. OA5599 Avatar

        Abilities to post inline pictures and to edit after submitting comments would be nice, too.

      2. Zentropy Avatar

        I remember Driver! I loved that game.

    2. OA5599 Avatar

      I had a car that took on rainwater in the rear footwell. The water was coming from the seal between the rear glass and the body. It was dripping into the trunk and then rolling down the floor pan under the seat, until gravity brought it to the lowest point in the car. The rear seat hid the real source of the activity.

      Of course, that car didn’t have a sunroof. If yours does, the first thing to do is to be sure none of the vent tubes are clogged.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        The rear window seal is a spot I haven’t checked yet, thank you! I’m perplexed in any case, as after two days and 60mm of rain, the spot remained dry. Could be a very tiny leak that takes its time. I checked the boot and it was dry.

    3. Tiller188 Avatar

      Wow, haven’t heard anyone mention 1NSANE in a long time! Yeah, that was fun — definitely stuck out for the “drive-anywhere” style and the level of damage modeling and suspension articulation at the time, especially in the open-wheel offroad rails and buggies. Re: the availability of modded cars: I remember someone somehow created a small private plane vehicle (think Cessna 150 or similar), and it was fun particularly for the fact that it could fly! …kinda. I don’t think the game’s physics were that happy about taking on the new role of flight simulator, so it was a bit wonky, but cool!

  5. Salguod Avatar

    Drove the BMW for the first time in a month, now that the salt is largely gone. Not much more news here.

  6. danleym Avatar

    The floors are done in the Spirit. Painted, bondoed (because my metal skills could use some work), sanded, seamsealed, painted again. And the bottoms painted, seamsealed, and undercoated. They aren’t perfect, but they’ll get it done. The undercoating pretty much masks any imperfections from underneath, and they’ll have carpet on top.

    Next up, I need to modify my clutch pedal to be able to properly engage the master cylinder. That will be the last of the metal fab until I drop the engine and trans in and have to make a new transmission crossmember. Once I get the clutch pedal done I’ll be able to start reassembling the interior.

  7. smaglik Avatar

    Put new plugs in the x3. Headed up to Durango mid week to work from there, out of a hotel, just for a change of scenery. Then headed down to Santa Fe to visit a good friend for the weekend. It’s possible that I only went to Durango to be able to make that drive from Durango to Santa Fe…US 64 is incredible, and most importantly, empty.

    1. Neight428 Avatar

      I did the run from Albuquerque to Durango a few times going up 550, that is a great lonely drive.

  8. Zentropy Avatar

    This auction on BaT is killing me. I just keep going back to look at the images and listen to the drive video. I’m more of a sleeper-sedan-or-station-wagon kind of enthusiast, but the Shelby Daytona Coupe was literally the poster car on my childhood bedroom wall.
    Screw comfort. Screw cargo space. Screw ridiculous fuel consumption. I swear I would daily this.

    2010 Superformance Shelby CSX 9000 Daytona Coupe

  9. Neight428 Avatar

    New Daily – A recent past and future of long interstate road trips with the whole crew, including the dog and towing, led me back to full size SUV’s. The noise, space, and lack of power of the 4Runner provided much to be annoyed by when exposed to continuously on Western interstates for a couple of days at a go. I hunted through the whole of the segment and settled on a low-mile CPO 2020 Infiniti QX80 that has every stinking option they could throw at it. The new MSRP on this things was a horror show, but with ~9k on the clock and a CPO warranty through 100k, I’m in for way less than a new top trim (but zero package/option) Tahoe/Yukon and I am F-A-N-C-Y. I nearly went for the facelifted Nissan Armada, but this was cheaper, had a better warranty and has a prettier face. The thing is probably as quick off the line as my 5.7L ’91 Z28 too. I’m getting used to being back in the Dreadnought class on the freeway, but it’s still a foot and a half shorter than my two dailies ago F150, so not a big adjustment.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      I had to google it and, yes, on Russian roads, this behemoth would split traffic in front of you like Moses split the sea. Congrats! Did you buy private? Because I’d love to hear more about who buys such a monster fully equipped, to sell again after a year.

      1. Neight428 Avatar

        It was through an Infiniti dealer. The sales lady said that the vehicle I got was a “company car” from someone at Nissan/Infiniti USA’s corporate HQ in Tennessee. Some of the ownership/title history documentation showed that it was a fleet vehicle, which either confirms the story or makes me want to know what type of outfit buys fleets of maxed out luxo-barges so I can either work for them, patronize their services, or avoid them entirely what with the whole track suit/Kalashnikov vibe, (speaking of Russian roads…)

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Haha, reasonable choices. 20 years on, that perfectly odd Infiniti might be a hit on BaT. Safe travels!