Welcome to your "Exhaust Notes" light-news roundup, an occasional feature in which we cover news bits that don't necessarily deserve their own blog post but are interesting nonetheless.
As I've mentioned before
, this is a semiregular thing. In this installment, we'll cover Chevrolet's
attempt to offer a Boss 302
alternative (Better? Probably not), Jeep's
Mighty FC and J-12 concepts (Production? Probably not), and BMW's
factory effort in this year's One Lap of America.
Plus, reviews are starting to trickle out from the Subaru
BRZ launch in France; a host of journalists just took the rear-wheel-drive sports car along the Route Napoleon. Conveniently, I drove the car in this country a few weeks back and can now share thoughts. (Who wants a really good, fixed-roof copy of a Mazda Miata
First off, here's a larger version of the Jeep shot you see above, just because it's cool:
Jeep's J-12 and Mighty FC Concepts
Jeep previewed two concept trucks for a handful of journalists earlier this week in Detroit. The first, dubbed J-12, is the red truck you see above; it's basically a modified version of Jeep's JK-8 Mopar pickup kit
, a factory-offered conversion kit that turns your modern Wrangler
into a pickup. The second, far cooler vehicle is something called the Mighty FC concept. It looks like this:
... and is one of the most righteously awesome things I've ever seen. Like the J-12, the Mighty FC is based on a production Wrangler. It pays homage to Jeep's Forward Control trucks
, a series of small utility vehicles offered by the brand after World War II.
The Mighty FC and J-12 were constructed for the upcoming Easter Jeep Safari
, an annual Jeep gathering in Moab, Utah. The brand has done this sort of thing before -- that is, built one-off vehicles as a gift to Jeep enthusiasts -- but this is the first time one of the concepts has made me giggle with dorky glee. Sadly, there's virtually no chance you'll see either machine in a Jeep showroom any time soon. Ben Wojdyla over at Popular Mechanics has more
. And his Facebook page has a shot of the FC's fender-mounted bottle opener
. Which is just as cool as it sounds.
GM Builds a Camaro to Tackle Ford's Boss 302
Thanks to a leaked Chevrolet dealer-reference guide and subsequent General Motors press release
(maybe those things are connected; maybe not), we now know that the 2013 Camaro will be offered with an option package intended to take on Ford's formidable Mustang Boss 302. The Boss is Ford's high-revving, track-ready Mustang, a car that emphasizes nimble reflexes and friendly handling over outright power. The Camaro 1LE, seen above, was built for the same purpose.
Unlike the massively re-engineered Boss, the 1LE -- the name is simply the option-package code, taken from GM's traditional production-option naming structure
-- is little more than a careful assemblage of heavy-duty and special-purpose parts. The Boss comes from the factory with substantially revised suspension and engine internals; the 1LE gets a handful of ZL1 components and slightly different cosmetics. You can read more here
In closely related matters, I spent last weekend hammering a Corvette ZR1
and a friend's Boss 302 around a small Midwestern road course. Last month, I attended the Camaro ZL1 launch at Virginia International Raceway and drove the car at speed. Things I learned: The ZR1 is amazing, as is the ZL1; GM knows what it's doing when it comes to handling. But the Boss 302 is also amazing. It'll take more than a mild revamp and a few neat parts to make an ordinary Camaro behave like that. Here's to hoping the 1LE stacks up.
BMW Enters a Stock M5 in the 2012 One Lap of America
Unlike the Cannonball, One Lap isn't a race; it's a multistate endurance test that happens to include high-speed transits and timed laps on several of the nation's greatest racetracks. The event once crossed most of the country but is now limited to a much smaller, decidedly more Midwestern chunk of land. It is not unimportant, but you're not going to see it on the front page of USA Today, either.
BMW is entering an M5 in this year's One Lap. You can learn more here
. I'm less than enthused by this, largely because I'm confused: The brand's sponsorship of and participation in grassroots motorsports has long been frustratingly limited, despite the large number of passionate amateur racers who support it. One Lap is a nice event, and definitely grassroots, but it's arguably past its prime and gets little coverage outside of the efforts of Motor Trend, its main sponsor. It's also barely relevant to most enthusiasts, incredibly difficult to observe and no longer the epic, inspirational, nation-swallowing trek it once was.
What, exactly, is this going to do for the brand? How is it worth the cost over a similar effort somewhere else? Why isn't BMW of North America publicly backing -- or at least publicizing the efforts of -- BMW-driving competitors at the SCCA Runoffs
, NASA championships
or Rally America events? Is there something I'm missing?
Subaru BRZ Reviews Trickle Out
Reviews are beginning to appear from Subaru's first major press drive of its eagerly awaited BRZ coupe. Pricing has been released for the Scion FR-S, the Subaru's mechanical and cosmetic twin. This means I can finally share some of my thoughts on the car -- a few weeks ago, I drove one for a weekend in the hills of western Wisconsin. It's flawed and far from perfect but also absolutely amazing. Picture a roofed Mazda MX-5/Miata with better turn-in, a slightly less entertaining engine and slightly number steering. The car is as good as everyone says, but more later. For now, you'll have to make do with this hasty iPhone shot of my test BRZ parked on my street in Chicago.
Jalopnik Captures the "Bullitt" Chase Remake from the "Alcatraz" TV Finale
We can't embed the video here, but Jalopnik has footage of the recent "Bullitt"/"Alcatraz"remake-mashup car chase. It's awesome. Watch and enjoy.