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Category: Sedan

Audi recreates 16-cylinder super-sedan designed in 1930s but never built


Auto Union — one of the companies that Audi traces its roots to — set several world records in the 1930s with a series of race cars grouped under the Silver Arrow label. These cars were designed exclusively for track use, but the brand also envisioned a street-legal version called Type 52 that used the same 16-cylinder engine. The sedan was never built, so Audi dusted off decades-old blueprints to make it a reality.

Type 52 was an internal designation; Audi notes that the model would have likely been launched as the Schnellsportwagen, which means “fast sports car” in German. It’s a fitting name: Ferdinand Porsche’s design office started the project in late 1933 and planned a sedan built around a de-tuned version of the supercharged, 4.4-liter 16-cylinder engine that powered the Type 22 race car. In spite of the lower compression, the engine was projected to develop about 200 horsepower and 322 pound-feet of torque, which was enough for a top speed of 124 mph. Had it gone on sale, the Schnellsportwagen would have stood proud as one of the fastest and most powerful cars of its era.

Visually, the Schnellsportwagen featured an aerodynamic, wing-shaped silhouette characterized by an unusually long wheelbase required to accommodate the massive mid-mounted engine. It had four rear-hinged doors, and the interior layout placed the driver front and center and the two passengers on either side — this layout made the McLaren F1 famous nearly 60 years later. Auto Union even fitted a small trunk.

Auto Union’s plans to build a test car were canned when the project was abandoned in 1935, so the Schnellsportwagen was consigned to the pantheon of automotive history. Recreating it using archive documents and design sketches was easier said than done, especially since none of the people that worked on the project are still alive. Audi commissioned an England-based restoration shop named Crosthwaite & Gardner to tackle the project. Every part of the car had to be built from scratch including the chassis, the engine, and the body panels.

One of the bigger issues that the shop, which worked closely with members of the Audi Tradition department, ran into is that the car never made it off the drawing board. “One insight that came out of our intensive exchange is that the developers in the 1930s would probably have had to adjust some of the technical details in the course of testing,” explained Timo Witt, the head of Audi’s historical vehicle collection.

The wheelbase was consequently extended in order to package the front suspension system, the steering components, the engine, and the transmission. The engine was updated as well: the modern-day Schnellsportwagen uses a version of the 1936 Auto Union Type C’s 6.0-liter 16-cylinder, which is supercharged to 520 horsepower. It runs on a blend of 50% methanol, 40% gasoline and 10% toluene. None of the period documents clarified the car’s color, so Audi painted the car in the same Cellulose Silver that appeared on the Silver Arrow race cars.

Over 90 years after it was designed, the Auto Union Type 52 will make its public debut at the 2024 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

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HWA Evo is a modern take on the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evo II


In 1989, Mercedes-Benz built 502 units of a very racy sedan called the 190 E 2.5-16 Evo, its homologation car for the 190 E racer in the German Touring Car (DTM) series. This is the same series that convinced BMW to create the M3, which BMW drivers used to win the DTM Driver’s Championship in 1987 and 1989 (there was no manufacturer’s championship at the time), and the first Evo was the car Mercedes used to return to factory motor racing after quitting all such activities in the wake of the Le Mans crash in 1955. (M-B began supplying Peter Sauber with engines for Group C racing in the mid-1980s, though.) Mercedes drivers couldn’t lift the big trophy with the Evo, so in 1990 and 1991, Mercedes turned its first effort into the 190 E 2.5-16 Evo II. Thanks to DTM instituting a manufacturer’s championship by this time, Mercedes driver Klaus Ludwig drove the Evo II to both trophies in 1992, and the 502 roadgoing versions became collector rarities. Whereas Evo I values average somewhere in the low $100s, Evo II sales average around $300,000 according to Classic.com. 

This is one of the reasons a German outfit called HWA chose to create a modernized version of the Evo II on a standard Mercedes 190 E chassis, that of the plain beige four-door that filled taxi fleets in Germany at the time. The other reason is that HWA stands for Hans-Werner Aufrecht, the gentleman who provided the “A” in AMG. When AMG was a separate company, Aufrecht worked with Mercedes on the Evo I and Evo II, and his independent HWA outfit continued never stopped prepping Mercedes race cars even after Mercedes completed its acquisition of AMG.

Based on the sedan’s specs, it’s probably best not to think of the HWA Evo as a restomod, since nothing is restored and everything is a modification. The only pieces that remain from the 190 E shell are cant rails (the structural member running over the doors between the A- and C-pillars), and C-pillar. It’s best to consider this a current imagining of what an Evo III might look like, using modern components. Start with the engine. Instead of the Cosworth-tuned, high-revving 2.5-liter four-cylinder, the HWA Evo is powered by Mercedes’ M276 twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 from cars like the AMG E 43 that Mercedes recently replaced with its twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six. HWA buys the M276 new, disassembles it to balance the rotating assembly, installs a dry sump so the engine can sit lower in the chassis, and plugs in an HWA-programmed ECU. Final output for the standard version is 444 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, an Affalterbach Package raises that to 493 hp, to move a car targeted to weigh about 3,220 pounds. Shorter gearing in the six-speed manual transaxle transmission give the standard car better acceleration but a lower top speed of 168 miles per hour. The longer legs in the Affalterbach Package take top speed to 189 mph.  

Side note: When Motor Trend asked HWA why it went with a six-cylinder when the original made do with a four, we’re told that a V8 would have been too tough to fit into the bay, and HWA chief technical officer Gordian von Schöning said, “In the beginning we were really pushing for a four-cylinder engine because we thought this was something AMG is promoting, and we can probably push it to 500 horsepower. But customers said a four-cylinder engine was not special.”

The body shell is stripped and reinforced with aluminum and high-strength steel for stiffness and improved crash protection. The front axle’s moved forward two inches, the rear axle 1.2 inches, helping deliver a 50:50 weight balance. HWA sourced Evo II-spec glass, thinner and lighter than the regular sedan’s windows. The new carbon fiber body panels are bonded to the shell, and swell so much below the belt line that the HWA Evo is nine inches wider than an Evo II.

KW shocks connect a race-spec multi-link suspension at both ends, the base car offering manual shock adjustment, the Affalterbach Package giving drivers electronic suspension controls in the cockpit. Six-piston front brakes work 15-inch rotors behind 190-inch wheels, while in back, four-piston calipers clamp 14-inch rotors behind 20-inch wheels.

Inside, front passengers sit in Recaro seats looking at digital gauges that mimic the original displays.

HWA’s putting the one car it’s built so far through a year-long testing and development phase. Once completed, HWA will build one car per week, up to 100 units in total, 75 of which have already been sold at €714,000 ($765,000 U.S.) apiece. After that, we hear there are plans for HWA to come up with a modern interpretation of the AMG Hammer.



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Junkyard Gem: 1986 AMC Eagle Sedan


The American Motors Corporation’s Eagle was the first production car sold in the United States with what we’d now describe as a true all-wheel-drive system, beating Audi’s Quattro-equipped cars to showrooms. During the Eagle’s run through the 1980 through 1988 model years, the wagon version was by far the biggest seller and nearly all the discarded examples I find during my junkyard travels are wagons. Today, though, we’ve got a four-door Eagle sedan, found in a northeastern Colorado self-service yard recently.

For 1980, the Eagle was based on the AMC Concord and came in sedan, coupe and wagon form. The following year saw the addition of Eagles based on the smaller AMC Spirit, which expanded the lineup to include the Eagle Kammback sedan and the sporty Eagle SX/4. By 1984, only the wagon and sedan remained.

Only 1,274 Eagle sedans were built for the 1986 model year, with sedan sales dropping below 500 for 1987. Chrysler kept building Eagle wagons after buying American Motors in 1987, creating a new division using the Eagle name for 1988. That meant that final-year Eagle wagons were Eagle Eagles, legally speaking (though they kept all their AMC badging for that year).

Even though American Motors had owned Jeep for nearly a decade when it began design work on the Eagle, the drivetrain in this car isn’t just lifted straight across from the Jeep parts bin.

There’s a center viscous coupling between the front and rear axles and no truck-style low-range gear selector. Starting with the 1981 Eagles, the driver could use a simple electrical switch to choose rear-wheel-drive and save fuel.

But if you wanted to stay in four-wheel-drive mode at all times, no problem. Try driving a 1986 4WD-equipped Subaru or Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon for long distances on dry pavement in four-wheel-drive mode and you’d tear up the tires or worse (Subaru and Toyota introduced their new AWD systems to the North American market for the 1987 and 1988 model years, respectively).

Of course, Audi would sell you a 4000CS Quattro sedan with no-driver-brains-required AWD that year for $17,800 ($51,008 in 2024 dollars), and Volkswagen added the Syncro-equipped Quantum for the following year. The 1986 Eagle sedan had an MSRP of just $10,719, or $30,716 after inflation.

This particular car probably cost a lot more than that, what with all the pricey options. The power door locks were $189 ($542 now), for example.

The air conditioning cost $795 ($2,278 today), while this top-of-the-line four-speaker AM/FM/cassette audio system with digital tuning had a price tag of $447 ($1,281 now).

AMC and GM 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines were available in earlier Eagles, but the 258-cubic-inch (4.2-liter) AMC straight-six was the only Eagle powerplant choice for the 1985 through 1988 model years.

A five-speed manual transmission was base equipment; this car has the optional three-speed automatic. The price: $379, or $1,086 in 2024 money.

American Motors used these door tags for decade after decade.

This car was sold at Spearfish Motors in South Dakota, which still exists today but now sells just GMCs, Cadillacs and Hummers.

It’s in nice condition with a decent interior and no rust to speak of, but nobody was willing to rescue it before it came to this sad fate.

It leaves the world of ordinary cars behind.

AMC didn’t give much advertising screen time to the Eagle sedan.



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GM Design shows the Pontiac G8 that never was


We lost some pretty cool car models when GM closed Pontiac back in 2009. The Holden Commodore-based G8 sedan was possibly the coolest, what with its rear-drive platform and available V8 power. While we did get a follow-up with the Chevrolet SS, which continued with the Commodore base, at least until Holden was shut down, too, it seems Pontiac had bigger ideas for the big sedan. GM Design once again has shone a light on a never-before-seen concept car from the automaker’s archives. It’s a Pontiac G8 concept from nearly the final days of the brand.

The Instagram post notes that the show car was finished in 2008, the same year the production G8 launched. We only see it partially finished in the post, as well as some renderings, but it’s clear Pontiac had some big ideas for the car going forward. The concept has bold, vertical headlights and huge kidney grilles. The sides have a pronounced Coke bottle shape with the pinched section at the doors and the rising lines over the fenders. The fastback roofline hides a hatchback instead of a trunk, and the tail almost seems to take some inspiration from the Solstice and Saturn Sky models.

The interior reveals a dashboard that looks a surprising amount like that of the C8 Corvette. It has the same sort of driver-centric layout with a conspicuous barrier fencing off the main controls from the passenger. Only four seats appear, with a full-length center console dividing each side. It definitely suggests more of an upmarket grand tourer than a family sedan.

It’s interesting to see just how big a departure this concept was to the actual G8 and the SS, both of which were pretty much Holden Commodores with different badging. This show car looks like a more fully baked idea. It makes it seem like, in a world where the financial crisis didn’t hit so hard and GM didn’t go bankrupt, we might’ve seen the G8 develop into something all its own. Or at least, as much as a company dependent on shared architecture could allow it to be. Bob Lutz even suggested that the lowly front-drive G6 was considered to get a future generation on the ATS platform, so a more developed G8 would seem pretty reasonable.

While none of that happened, it certainly is interesting to see and wonder what could have been.





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Junkyard Gem: 1998 Cadillac DeVille Tuxedo Collection


Cadillac began using the de Ville name (which means about the same thing as “town car” but is more French and thus classier) in the late 1940s, becoming a model name in its own right for the 1959 model year. The seventh generation of the Cadillac de Ville was sold for the 1994 through 1999 model years, and many of these cars received dealer-installed aftermarket packages to increase their general opulence. Here’s one of those cars, with the E&G Classics “Tuxedo Collection” treatment applied, found in a South Carolina car graveyard a few rows away from a Toyota Avalon with nearly a million miles on its odometer.

Cadillac went through many variations of this model name over the decades, including de Ville, De Ville, DeVille and Deville. For most of the 1959-1993 period, the two-doors were named some version of “Coupe de Ville” while the “Sedan de Ville” name went on four-doors. The two-door was dropped after 1993 and eventually the model ended up being simply the DeVille. After the DeVille name itself got the axe in 2005, production of what amounted to the same car continued with DTS badging through 2011.

The 1994-1999 DeVille lived on the same platform as the front-wheel-drive Seville, after a decade of being a cousin to the Buick Park Avenue and Oldsmobile 98. It weighed just a hair over two tons.

For 1994 and 1995, the DeVille was powered by the 4.9-liter version of the pushrod Cadillac High Technology V8 engine, then received the DOHC Northstar V8 until the final DTSs were sold as 2011 models. This one is a 4.6-liter rated at 275 horsepower and 300 pound-feet.

Padded roofs, landau or otherwise, had fallen out of mainstream car-shopper favor by the late 1990s, and even the Brougham name had been dumped by Cadillac by that time (as far as I can tell, the final Brougham-badged car available in the world was the early-2000s Nissan Cedric VIP Brougham). That’s where Cadillac dealers stepped in, and Washington D.C.-area-based E&G Classics provided a Tuxedo Collection by E&G kit for those dealers to install.

E&G wasn’t the only outfit providing such services for dealers selling seventh-generation Cadillac DeVilles; I found a 1995 Sedan DeVille St. Tropez Edition, featuring non-padded landau roof and special badging, a few months ago in Denver.

Both today’s Junkyard Gem and the St. Tropez DeVille were sold out of Don Massey’s mighty Cadillac empire.

The E&G Tuxedo Collection DeVille got this body-color grille.

The heyday of the full padded vinyl roof for Detroit was the 1970s, and owners of the E&G Tuxedo Collection DeVille were able to flaunt their style in true 1979 fashion.

You’ll find one in every car. You’ll see.

The average age of Cadillac buyers plummeted the following model year, when the Yukon Denali-derived Escalade hit showrooms.



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Junkyard Gem: 1968 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Custom Holiday Sedan


The 1965-1970 version of GM’s full-size B Platform was one of The General’s greatest successes, underpinning nearly 13 million cars. Each of the U.S.-market GM car divisions (except Cadillac) had their own B-Bodies during those model years, from the proletarian Chevrolet Biscayne on up to the opulent Buick Wildcat. Doing business just one small rung below Buick on the GM “Ladder of Success” in 1968 was the Oldsmobile Division, and the king of Olds B-Bodies that year was the Delta 88 Custom Holiday Sedan four-door hardtop. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of those cars, found in a Denver self-service yard last winter.

The prestige lines between the GM divisions were starting to get a bit blurry by the late 1960s, when car shoppers could get a Chevy Caprice with a list price higher than that of an Olds Delmont 88 and then option it up to cost more than a Buick LeSabre. At the end of the day, though, your neighbors in 1968 would still have known that an Oldsmobile carried more swank than its Chevy or Pontiac siblings, and that the owner of a Buick could look down his nose at an Olds driver.

However, most GM cars in 1968 were still powered by engines made by their own divisions, in those pleasant days before the “Chevymobile” lawsuits (if they had V8s, at least). That meant that when you bought an Olds 88 that year, it came with a genuine Rocket V8 engine under its hood. In this case, the engine is a monstrous Quadrajet-fed 455-cubic-inch (7.5-liter) Rocket rated at 365 horsepower and an awe-inspiring 510 pound-feet. The ’68 Olds Toronado came with an even hairier 455 that made 400 horses, by the way.

Yes, those are gross power numbers and not the more realistic net numbers we’ve been using since the early 1970s, but this was one respectably quick 4,155-pound car for its era. A buyer of a 1968 full-size Chevrolet could get a wild 427-cube big-block V8 with 425 horses as a (very expensive) option, but even Buick’s 430 couldn’t beat the Delta 88’s torque (that changed two years later with the introduction of the 510-pound-foot Buick 455).

Naturally, this car required premium gasoline and probably never saw double-digit fuel economy at any time, but few Oldsmobile shoppers cared about that until certain geopolitical events took place in 1973. If you bought the 1968 Delta 88 with the base three-on-the-tree manual transmission — that’s right, you had to pay extra for an automatic even on a snazzy machine like this — you could get a 310hp 455 that would run on regular gas.

Speaking of options, this car has a bunch that would have pushed its out-the-door cost well above its MSRP of $3,721 (about $34,214 in 2024 dollars). The four-barrel 455 cost $57 ($524 today), the three-speed automatic transmission cost $158 ($1,453), the power steering was $98 ($901), the air conditioning was a heroic $411 ($3,779) and … you get the idea.

The original buyer of this car wanted it loaded, so it even has the optional power windows.

Oldsmobile became very enthusiastic about borrowing names from American fighter jets during the 1950s and 1960s, and the Delta series was inspired by the moniker of the F-102 Delta Dagger. The Cutlass borrowed its name from the F7U Cutlass naval fighter as well, with the Starfire paying homage to the F-94 Starfire. Apparently, Convair, Vought and Lockheed chose not to make a legal stink about their product names being appropriated by a car company for its products, perhaps because that car company was one of the most powerful corporations in the country at that time. In any case, the F-102 suffered from huge cost overruns during its development, the F-94 was obsolete soon after entering service and the F7U was a dangerous, overcomplicated lemon known as “the Gutless Cutlass.” There’s a lot of history in the junkyard, if you know where to look!

Speaking of aviation history, the build tag tells us that this car was built at GM’s original Fairfax Assembly in Kansas City. That’s where North American Aviation built B-25 Mitchell bombers during World War II, selling it to The General in 1945. F-84F Thunderstreaks were assembled alongside cars there by GM during the early 1950s.

Worth restoring? It’s not rusty, but the interior is bad and even hardtop four-doors of this era don’t get the enthusiast love given to two-doors and convertibles.

Oldsmobile for 1968 has something for old and young! 38 years later, the Oldsmobile Division got the axe.



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Junkyard Gem: 2003 Ford Focus ZTS Centennial Edition


The very first car produced by the Ford Motor Company was the 1903 Model A. 100 years later, Ford decided to build some special Centennial Edition cars and trucks. Ford shoppers could get five Centennial Edition models for 2003: the Taurus, Mustang, Explorer, F-250/F-350 and Focus. All were painted black, the only color available for the 1914-1925 Model T. I’ve been searching for a Centennial Edition Ford over many years of junkyard exploration and finally found this Focus in a Denver-area yard.

Some junkyard visitor before me pried off the special fender and decklid badges, but the “two-tone signature Centennial Leather” seats were still there.

Sadly, the special Centennial Edition key chain, hardcover edition of “The Ford Century” book, wristwatch and letter from Bill Ford weren’t inside the car.

This Junkyard Gem is in rough shape, so here’s what it looked like in the sales brochure. The only previous Focus in this series was an ’02 Mach Audio, so we were overdue.

While the Centennial Edition Mustang was available in either coupe or convertible form, all the Centennial Edition Foci were ZTS sedans.

4,000 each of the Centennial Edition Taurus and Explorer were built, with only 3,000 apiece for the Focus, Mustang and F-Series.

100 years is quite a milestone for a car company, but plenty of special-edition cars for other production anniversaries have been built and I’ve documented many of them in car graveyards. There’s the 50th Anniversary Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight (commemorating a half-century of the 88 model), the XC Edition Oldsmobile Ciera (commemorating 90 years of Oldsmobile), the 40th Anniversary Pontiac Grand Prix, the 30th Anniversary Pontiac Grand Am, the 10th Anniversary Black Red Edition Datsun 280ZX, the 50th Anniversary Nissan 300ZX (commemorating 50 years of Nissan), the 25th Anniversary Chevrolet Camaro, the 30th Anniversary Mercury Cougar and many more. It’s too bad Studebaker isn’t around anymore, because 2040 will be the 300th anniversary of the first horse-drawn wagon built by Peter Stutenbecker in the British Province of Maryland.

This being a ZTS, the top-grade 2003 Focus sedan available in the United States, it has the 130-horsepower DOHC Zetec engine.

Its 1903 predecessor had a clutchless two-speed planetary transmission to go with its two-cylinder pushrod boxer engine, but this car has a more modern five-speed manual.

The Focus remained in American Ford showrooms through 2018, then got the axe because “silhouettes are changing.” You can still buy a new Focus elsewhere in the world, though; it’s built on the same platform as the current Maverick.

When some hooptie early-1980s GM sedan tries to spray your new black Focus with no-doubt-contaminated washer fluid, you know what to do.



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Junkyard Gem: 1997 Cadillac Catera


GM’s Cadillac Division was having a tough time in the early 1990s, with an onslaught of Lexuses and Infinitis pouring across the Pacific to steal their younger customers while high-end German manufacturers picked off their older customers. Flying an S-Class-priced model between assembly lines in Turin and Hamtramck hadn’t worked out, so why not look to the European outposts of the far-flung GM Empire for the next Cadillac? That’s how the Catera was born, and I have found a rare first-year example in a North Carolina car graveyard.

Across the Atlantic, GM’s Opel and Vauxhall were doing good business with prosperous European car buyers by selling them the sleek rear-wheel-drive Omega B (whose platform also lived beneath the Holden VT Commodore in Australia). Here was a genuine German design that competed with success against BMW and Audi on their home turf!

So, the Omega B was Americanized and renamed the Catera. Opel wasn’t a completely unknown brand to Americans at the time, since its cars were sold here with their own badging through Buick dealerships from the middle 1950s through the late 1970s (for a much shorter period, American Pontiac dealers attempted to sell Vauxhalls). Even after that, plenty of Opel DNA showed up in the products of U.S.-market GM divisions.

The Catera was by far the most affordable Cadillac for 1997, with an MSRP starting at $29,995 (about $59,113 in 2024 dollars). Being a genuine German car, it looked much more convincingly European than the DeVille ($36,995), Eldorado ($37,995) and Seville ($39,995).

Inspired by the ducks on the Cadillac emblem (they were really supposed to be martlets, mythical birds with no feet and occasionally lacking beaks), Cadillac’s marketers went after youthful car shoppers with a whimsical animated duck named Ziggy. For the 21st century, the birds were removed from the Cadillac emblem in order to attract California buyers under 45 years of age.

As we all know, the Catera flopped hard in the marketplace. What sold well in Europe turned out not to translate so well in in North America, especially when bearing the badges of such a historically prestigious brand.

The Catera’s engine was a 54-degree 3.0-liter V6 rated at 200 horsepower and 192 pound-feet.

Just as had been the case with its predecessor, the Allanté, no manual transmission was available.

Americans tend to not maintain their cars as meticulously as their European counterparts, and they drive much longer distances in harsher weather conditions on worse roads, so the Catera proved much less reliable than its Omega counterparts across the ocean.

A Holden-ized version of the Catera’s chassis returned to our shores in 2004, underpinning the Pontiac GTO. This means that LS swaps into Cateras shouldn’t be too difficult…

After 2001, the Catera was gone. However, the suits at Cadillac had learned by then that pasting their badges on the GMC Yukon Denali was like having a license to print money. Rappers were rhyming about the new Cadillac truck, and the under-80 crowd flocked to Cadillac showrooms. During the 2000s, new Cadillac car models (some using members of the Catera’s 54° V6 engine family) continued the Cadillac revival, and the shameful memories of Ziggy faded.

But the junkyard never forgets, so let’s watch some more Catera commercials.

Hey, Cindy Crawford listened to Ziggy the Duck!

Ziggy also worked as a personal trainer.

Isn’t it time you took a test drive?

Wait, Opel says it should survive 10,000 miles of abuse in Arizona.

Those Omega owners sure have fun.

The Vauxhall version had 69 billion possibilities in its security codes, and it was pronounced “OH-muh-guh.”

Just the thing to drive around a surreal desert.



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What is the fastest car in the world in 2024?


It wasn’t that long ago that the notion of reaching 200 miles per hour in a car, on a road, seemed basically impossible. As you likely know by now, that time has passed. And once that threshold was crossed, the automotive world immediately began eying the next triple-digit benchmark: 300 miles per hour. It may have taken a little while, but the 300-mph line has been crossed, and some cars have moved well past that seemingly insane speed number. While some of these speeds have been achieved in simulations (including the fastest car listed below), there’s little doubt that a driver with nerves of steel and a heavy right foot could indeed push several automobiles up to 300 miles per hour and beyond.

Interestingly, it’s not just one car or automaker in the 300-mph club, as a handful of models have earned a place (sometimes claimed but not yet demonstrated) on the leaderboard.

The fastest car in the world is: Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut (330 MPH)

Fastest car in the world 2023

That title goes to the Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut, which recorded a staggering 330 mph top speed earlier in 2023. The car’s twin-turbocharged 5.0-liter V8 lays down 1,600 horsepower and 1,106 pound-feet of torque, which plays a significant role in delivering that speed, but Koenigsegg’s engineers have given the car a lot more than mind-blowing power.

The Jesko Absolut has a super-slippery 0.278 drag coefficient and a nine-speed transmission that shifts so quickly it’s almost imperceptible. Koenigsegg calls it a Light Speed Transmission (LST), saying its shifts happen at almost light speed. While that might be a slight exaggeration, the gearbox is impressive, bringing several wet multi-disc clutches and a super lightweight construction.

As Koenigsegg says, “the Jesko Absolut is destined to achieve higher, more extraordinary speeds than any Koenigsegg or any other fully homologated car before it.”

How expensive is the Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut?

If you were reading that and wondering how much the fastest car in the world costs, the price tag is just another dizzying number on the Jesko Absolut’s spec sheet. All 125 Absolut cars offered sold out at a price of almost $3 million. Of course, being able to afford the Koenigsegg is just the first step in realizing its full potential. There are very few places on the map that can support a 300-plus-mph speed run, and the locations that do are not conveniently located. That said, it’s likely that many people who shelled out the cash for a Jesko Absolut will be happy with the bragging rights instead of using the speed.

So, the Jesko Absolut holds the speed crown and does so with more than a few miles per hour to spare, but the other cars in the 300-mph club are nearly as impressive.

Other cars that drive faster than 300 mph

BUGATTI Bolide 300 mph

The Bugatti Bolide sees 1,847 horsepower and 1,365 pound-feet of torque from a quad-turbo 8.0-liter W16. Its top speed lands at 311 mph, and its styling is just as wild and exaggerated.

However, unlike the Koenigsegg, the Bugatti is a track-only affair. Though it shares an engine and some of its underlying structure with the road-legal Chiron, Bugatti opted to keep the Bolide limited to track duty. While that’s a bummer, especially at the roughly $4.4 million price tag, not having to build a car to meet road car regulations gave Bugatti the freedom to create a brutal car with speed that defies logic. The Bolide is also far more exclusive than the Koenigsegg, as Bugatti produced just 40 of the extreme cars.

The car’s suspension is far stiffer than the Chiron’s, and the car rides on Michelin slicks. It utilizes a revised carbon monocoque and is built using an array of 3D-printed parts. Without the need to worry about curbs, speed bumps, and pedestrians, Bugatti could go wild with aerodynamics and bodywork, resulting in a car that looks like it could cut you.

What goes into creating a car that can go faster than 300 mph?

The Jesko Absolut and Bolide make reaching 300-plus mph sound easy, which you’d expect for their multiple-seven-digit price tags, but there’s a lot that goes into hitting their mind-blowing top speeds. Beyond the fact that it takes miles of glassy-smooth tarmac, the cars have to be exceptionally aerodynamic and be able to consume gobs of air, and fuel consumption at those speeds is immense. Engineers have to shape a car that easily slices through the air while also creating tremendous downforce to keep it on the ground.

Adding thousands of pounds of downforce stresses almost every part of the car, especially the suspension and tires. The dampers have to be able to support the temporarily heavier car while also keeping the tires in contact with the tarmac. At 300 mph, even subtle imperfections in the road surface come faster and much harder, so the car has to be able to cope.

Tires take a particularly brutal beating during the top-speed runs, as their sidewalls get compressed with all the downforce. They’re also subjected to extreme temperatures due to the friction that comes from rubber clawing against the pavement at 300 mph. At that speed, the tires rotate thousands of times per minute, so they must also be sturdy enough to hold their shape through the harsh rotational forces. Finally, high speeds do funny things with the weights of vehicle components, such as the tire pressure monitoring sensors, which can weigh several times their normal amount when rotating at 300 mph and cause wheel imbalances and other issues.

What about the previously fastest cars from Ferrari and Porsche?

1969 Dodge Charger Daytona

While we’re now talking about cars reaching speeds in excess of 300 mph, the first car to cross 200 mph did so more than 50 years ago. The 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona hit 200 mph in March 1970 at Talladega in Alabama. That’s right, the first car to 200 wasn’t wearing an Italian name on its nose, though many of the most well-known cars in the 200 club do. That said, the Charger Daytona, like the Bugatti Bolide today, was not street-legal, and the first road-going car to hit the benchmark was a Ferrari.

Several years after the Dodge’s record-setting run, the Ferrari F40 (below left) reached 200 mph as the first production car with the record. Its twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V8 cranked out 471 horsepower when new, giving it a 0-60 mph time of 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 201 mph. Interestingly, the most impressive Porsche at the time, the 959 (below right), fell just short of the F40’s speed, reaching “just” 197 mph.

Electric power could change everything

As the automotive world moves toward full electrification, there are questions about EVs’ top speed and battery power, but there are at least five models on sale today with a 200-plus mph top speed. The slick Lucid Air Sapphire offers a 200-mph top speed and a 0-60 time of under 2 seconds. It tied the Tesla Model S Plaid’s top speed but did 0-60 quicker, as the Tesla takes 2.1 seconds to do the deed. The Lotus Evija also promises a 200-mph top speed, but the top two cars are helping move the EV performance needle close to the extreme numbers seen from today’s fastest gas cars. The Pininfarina Battista offers a 217-mph top speed and a crazy 1.8-second 0-60 time, and at the tippy-top of the performance hill is the Rimac Nevera, which offers a 258-mph top speed and a 1.9-second 0-60 mph time.

The 5 fastest cars in the world in 2024

  • Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut: 330 MPH (Claimed)
  • Bugatti Bolide: 311 MPH (Claimed)
  • Bugatti Chiron Super Sport: 305 MPH
  • Hennessey Venom F5: 300 MPH (Claimed)
  • SSC Tuatara: 283 MPH



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Junkyard Gem: 1990 Geo Prizm GSi


GM created the Geo brand in order to sell vehicles built and/or designed by its Japanese partners: Suzuki, Isuzu and Toyota. The Geo Prizm was sibling to Toyota’s E90 Sprinter and built at the NUMMI plant in California from the 1990 through 1997 model years (after which it became a Chevrolet through 2002). For 1990 through 1992, a high-performance version of the Prizm called the GSi was available, and I’ve found a rare hatchback version in a Colorado wrecking yard.

Though the Prizm was based on the Corolla-related JDM Toyota Sprinter, it was mechanically identical to same-year Corollas then being sold in the United States (and built on the same assembly line in Fremont). The powertrain in the Prizm GSi is what was bolted into the same-year U.S.-market Corolla GT-S.

In this case, that means a “red top” 4A-GE DOHC 1.6-liter straight-four, rated at 130 horsepower.

A five-speed manual was base equipment, but this car has the optional four-speed automatic.

The hatchback Prizm, which was based on the JDM Sprinter Cielo, was built for just the 1990 and 1991 model years. I’ve found a few Prism GSi notchback sedans during my junkyard travels, but this is the first hatchback version.

NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated) in the San Francisco Bay Area was GM’s Fremont Assembly plant from 1963 through 1982 prior to becoming a joint Toyota-GM venture in 1984. NUMMI shut down in 2010 after the final Corolla was built there, after which it became the Tesla Factory. I had a warehouse job during the summer of 1989 that involved delivering paint filters to NUMMI, so perhaps I hauled the filters that strained the paint that went on this very car.

This one is well-equipped, with air conditioning and a decent-for-1990 AM/FM/cassette deck boasting Dolby, digital tuning and auto-reverse.

It traveled just short of 175,000 miles during its career, which is pretty good for a car of its era but not very impressive compared to some of the extreme-high-mile junkyard Toyotas I’ve documented. Members of the Corolla family, being cheaper than Camrys, Avalons, Previas and so forth, tend to get thrown away before reaching 300,000 miles (though I’ve found a 322k-mile 1990 Prizm, a 315k-mile 1991 Corolla wagon and a 311k-mile 1996 Corolla sedan in boneyards).

Starting with the 1993 model year, the Prizm became an E100 Sprinter and the GSi version got the axe.

More power than the Civic, a better warranty than the Corolla, cheaper than the BMW 3 Series.

Oldsmobile hired Leonard Nimoy to pitch its futuristic machinery, but Geo got Harlan Ellison.



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