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Good Oil: Where car designers go crazy
It’s SEMA Show time again; that moment when carmakers you would assume should know better just can’t help themselves.
A trade-only event that keeps the punters firmly outside, SEMA is where automotive suppliers showcase all sorts of crazy, outlandish and extreme products, usually bolted to crazy, outlandish and extreme cars for full effect.
It also takes on the appearance of a stag weekend for usually serious and sober car designers.
Increasingly, SEMA is the occasion mainstream manufacturers let their crayon-wielders go a bit mad and bring to life insane versions of otherwise merely manic metal.
Did we mention this all takes place in Las Vegas? Oh, but of course it does.
You’ll be best to head online and check out the hundreds of image galleries that spring up in its carbon-wrapped wake for a sampling, but highlights this year include a 2017 Camaro SS Slammer wearing 24-inch rear tyres (merely 22-inch on the front), a camouflaged hydrogen fuel cell-powered Chevy Colorado ute designed by the US Army’s Tank, Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Centre R&D division, a Kia Sorento on quad caterpillar tracks, a Toyo Tyres display area that featured a couple of the maddest accessory-laden Lamborghini Aventadors and Nissan GT-Rs you’re likely to see, a Bentley Continental GT with more air vents than a cheese grater and what looks like every modified Chevy Silverado in the west.
We also particularly liked the optimism of drift car superstar Ryan Tuerck, whose 425kW Ferrari V8-powered Toyota GT4586 (see what he did there?) is our kind of origami hot rod.
And as if to prove it isn’t just that carmaker’s diminutive sports car that is ripe for Franken-fun modifying, Toyota also showcased a 1491kW V8 Land Cruiser dragster. In short: hooray for SEMA!
Lego plays Golf
We’ve already seen Lego greenlight a scaled-down version of the Ferrari F40 and Caterham 620R in the past few months, with a Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 also proving a fan favourite.
Now the Danish block behemoth has teased Volkswagen fans with a Golf GTI Mk1 concept design on its Lego Ideas website.
If the hot hatch makes it into production, it will be the third model from the Wolfsburg manufacturers portfolio to be honoured in brick form; Lego kits for the classic Volkswagen Beetle and Type 2 Kombi are already available.
The Golf GTI Mk1 features a detailed engine bay and a complete interior, including original steering wheel, gear lever and handbrake, with ventilation buttons, indicator stalks also present and seats structured with red and black detailing to represent the classic tartan effect.
The red stripe around the grille on GTI models looks to be represented with a red rubber band running over its round protruding headlights. The Lego Ideas forum is where would-be Lego designers get to showcase their dream kits to other fans. Rather cleverly, it’s also where the Lego head honchoes get to assess what new kits might sell well, depending on public votes for concepts such as the Golf GTI.
The site features all kinds of designs, from simplistic renderings of historic racing cars, to dioramas describing scenes from movies. If the idea gets enough votes in enough time (10,000 votes are required and the Volkswagen model is well on its way to achieving this) the Lego Review Board look ever-more seriously at putting the kit into mass production.
Fingers crossed for the Golf GTIs designer then. Maybe it will be a sportscar stocking stuffer out in time for Christmas next year.
Vice-president’s supercar seizure
Surely Equatorial Guinea’s Vice-President, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, should be far too busy tending to the needs of his country’s citizens to be supercar shopping.
But in a (frankly not-at-all-shocking ) twist, the son of dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has just had more than US$8 million ($10.9m) worth of exclusive metal seized by police in Geneva.
Since the mid-1990s, the small Central African country of Equatorial Guinea has been one of the continent’s largest oil suppliers. Unfortunately for most of the population — who continue to live in poverty — this government-level wealth doesn’t appear to trickle down far.
Obiang Mangue’s car collection is taken away. Picture/ Supplied
When there are limited edition supercars from the likes of Koenigsegg and Ferrari to collect, schools and hospitals seem to lose their appeal.
The police raid — part of an anti-corruption investigation — netted an eyewatering collection of rare cars, including a Bugatti Veyron, Lamborghini Veneno Roadster (chassis number seven of nine) and a Koenigsegg One:1, one of only seven examples built.
It isn’t the first time Obiang Mangue has had supercars seized by police. In 2011 the rozzers made off with a Maserati MC12, Porsche Carrera GT, Ferrari Enzo and 599 GTO, another two Bugatti Veyrons, a Maybach and a Rolls-Royce Phantom.
Interestingly, this investigation into President Obiang and his son was triggered when a Twitterbot called GVA Dictator Alert (@GVA_Watcher), which tracks planes used by authoritarian regimes landing at Geneva Airport, recorded eight separate visits by Equatorial Guinea-registered aircraft in a short space of time.