The Good Oil: Mixed messages, Jeep Easter surprise, and more
Mixed message over NY reveal
Mazda is planning something big for the New York motor show. The company has sent out teaser notices asking media to “help us blow the lid off the New York Auto Show” and that they will “unveil something new”.
The biggest rumour surrounding this next reveal is of a credible challenger to the Toyota 86, namely a fixed-head coupe version of the MX-5 roadster.
Although without getting too mired in semantics, wouldn’t utilising the phrase “blowing the lid off” in a teaser campaign be more suited to hinting at something currently tin-topped, that might soon be rendered a convertible?
With the current penchant for manufacturers to chop the roof off soft-road crossovers (as Range Rover has done with its Evoque and Volkswagen has teased with its T-Cross Breeze soft-top concept), The Good Oil wouldn’t be at all surprised if a convertible Mazda CX-3 is on the way.
This would certainly be a niche addition to the range, but then in the grand scheme of things, so would a coupe version of the MX-5. Pouring water on the fizzing fire of the MX-5 coupe rumour mill is the fact Mazda itself has already said it won’t build a coupe version of the MX-5. The company is, however, allegedly developing an updated version of the folding metal hardtop utilised in the previous generation sports car.
At the Goodwood Festival of Speed last year, Mazda executives ruled the idea out, suggesting a hard-top MX-5 “wouldn’t be an MX-5”. Ah, but with a different engine up front, would it be an RX-9 perhaps? After all, the MX-5 platform has been designed to be manipulated as required.
Stretched even. All will be revealed at the New York Auto Show, which kicks off on March 25.
Jeep ups power to ridiculous
Jeep has unveiled an impressive line-up of concept vehicles to the sheer delight of 4x4 aficionados.
The headliner of the group will also have fans a-whoopin’ and a-hollerin’, as it teases the idea of a Wrangler sporting the same V8 firepower as the much-revered Dodge Challenger Hellcat.
The concept, known as the Jeep Trailcat, is powered by the same supercharged 6.2-litre Hemi V8 found in the Challenger, which produces maximum power of 527kW (all at once and in every gear, those who have driven the Hellcat would have you believe).
Along with the new engine, the Jeep’s wheelbase has been extended by 300mm, and the top has been chopped by 50mm. Other additions include a satin-black grille, a unique vented bonnet, fog lamps, rock rails, LED headlamps and other items with lots of numbers and hyphens and slashes, like 17-inch beadlock wheels, 39.5-inch BF Goodrich Krawler T/A KX tyres, Dana 60 axles and Fox shocks.
The Trailcat is certainly a head-turner, although the other creations Jeep will show off are impressive too.
Jeep’s other tasty creations include a long-wheelbase Crew Chief 715 with a five-foot cargo tray; the Shortcut, which pays tribute to the compact AMC-era Jeep CJ-5; an oddball cab-forward FC 150, which looks early-1960s correct right down to its CB radio but is actually built on a 2005 Wrangler chassis and a Mopar performance parts store-on-wheels called the Jeep Trailstorm.
As it is set to appear at the Easter Safari, the Wrangler Trailcat actually looks the least production-ready of the bunch.
After all, Jeep CEO Mike Manley has already confirmed a Jeep Grand Cherokee Hellcat will be released next year, which will eclipse the already ridiculously powerful Grand Cherokee SRT in terms of maximum output.
Beach buggy creator turns 90
All-round Cali cool dude Bruce Meyers celebrated his 90th birthday last weekend. And naturally his famous creation, the Meyers Manx beach buggy, played a big part.
The Meyers Manx was light and inexpensive and, thanks to its roll hoop behind the front seats, strapping surfboards to the roof was easy. Filling it up with blonde surfer dudes and bikini-clad babes was similarly simple thanks to its low hip line and lack of pesky doors.
Meyers became an identity in the burgeoning Southern Californian surf scene after World War II, before moving to sailing.
The story goes that, after producing fibreglass sailboats for a local company, Meyers’ attention was caught by land yachts. One day while racing up and down Pismo Beach, north of Santa Barbara, he noticed teenagers driving a car from which they’d removed the entire body and left only the frame rails, drivetrain and seats.
Meyers drew on his experience shaping moulds for the marine industry to create an ideal tub. But as easy as the beach buggy was to create, it was also easy to copy. Rip-off designs appeared almost immediately and when a lawsuit found in favour of an imitator in the early 1970s, Meyers closed his operation in disgust.
Meyers relaunched the Manx in 2002 and the car remains in production today.
Happy birthday dude.
Length of time it took Karl Probst to design military Jeep.
Jeep first tackled the famous Rubicon Trail near Lake Tahoe.
Have owned the Jeep brand since its inception.
Time Jeep supplied the US Postal Service with RHD Jeeps.