2021 BMW M3 Set to Look Like No Other Bimmer Ever

Recent spyshots have removed some of the last layers of mystery surrounding the design of the all-new 2021 BMW M3. Thus, we know what to expect in almost every department.

When the M3 emerged for testing about a year ago, it seemed to have normal grilles, sized about the same as the 3 Series. However, the latest prototypes have shown an affinity for the 4 Series look, which includes taller kidneys.

Adding insult to injury, the M3 sports 4 Series headlights and even changed the way the bars in the grille are arranged. Putting them horizontally doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it’s the sort of thing that sends BMW fanatics reaching for their pitchforks.

To clarify what kind of changes we’re talking about, the Russian website Kolesa has put together their usual pair of renderings. They show the G80 M3 from both the front and the back. It’s pretty safe to assume this is what the production model looks like.

The whole front end seems strangely shaped, as the side intakes have been broken up and moved inwards. If you squint really hard, this begins to look a little bit like the Alfa Giulia QV.

The rear looks a little less dramatic. Maybe they blew the whole redesign budget on that nose. But there are small changes all over the car, like the taillights, the mirrors, and the traditional go-fast enhancements (brakes, wheels, and suspension drop).

The power output has already been confirmed by BMW officials. Obviously, a twin-turbo 3-liter inline-6 still resides under the hood. This will be available with 473 horsepower or 503 hp on the Competition model. An 8-speed automatic will take the place of the DCT, while the M xDrive system will be available for the first time on an M3. It’s going to be a brute… an ugly brute.

America’s Auto Loan Debt Is Truly Out Of Control

When you go to buy a new car, how long do you really expect to make payments on it? Three years? Four? Maybe five? Lately, there’s a good chance it’s more than six years, which is an increasingly troubling sign for buyers, the auto industry and the economy as a whole.

The Wall Street Journal has a new story out that’s a kind of overview of something we’ve covered extensively around these parts—that super-long car loans, often with very high interest rates, are the new normal in car buying. And buyers are having a hell of a time keeping up. It means that car loans stick around well into when some of these models need pricey repairs, or past their original owners, and they eat into more and more of our incomes.

Again, this trend is probably nothing new if you’re steeped in automotive news, or go out of your way to be a savvy buyer. But these trends keep ensnaring new car shoppers, and there’s seemingly no end in sight.

Here’s a few highlights from this story:

About a third of auto loans for new vehicles taken in the first half of 2019 had terms of longer than six years, according to credit-reporting firm Experian PLC. A decade ago, that number was less than 10%.

And this:

But the size of the average auto loan has grown by about a third over the past decade to $32,119 for a new car, according to Experian. To keep payments manageable, the car industry has taken to adding more months to the end of the loan.

The average loan stretches for roughly 69 months, a record. Some last much longer. In the first half of the year, 1.5% of auto loans for new vehicles had terms of 85 months or longer, according to Experian. Five years ago, these eight- and nine-year loans were practically nonexistent.

Also this:

A third of new-car buyers who trade in their cars roll debt from old vehicles into their new loans, according to car-shopping site Edmunds. That is up from about a quarter before the financial crisis.

Finally, this:

Even a conservative car loan often won’t do it. The median-income U.S. household with a four-year loan, 20% down and a payment under 10% of gross income—a standard budget—could afford a car worth $18,390, excluding taxes, according to an analysis by personal-finance website Bankrate.com.

All of which is pretty concerning, and out of step with how car financing worked for many decades—people either paid cash outright or had their vehicles paid off in full within a few years. Now, instead of becoming an asset, it’s just a never-ending money pit, and one that often gets rolled over into the next car when that becomes necessary. It’s a wealth-killer, a savings-killer.

So how did this happen? As that story notes, it’s a kind of consequence of the Great Recession and its aftermath. As the economy recovered following the late 2000s, people had pent-up demand for new cars, and interest rates happened to hover around zero, so car shoppers went on a buying blitz that lasted years. A few other factors are crucial too: the rise of bigger, more expensive crossovers and pickup trucks as gas stayed cheap, new and highly in-demand safety tech that pushed car prices up, and the fact that household incomes have risen just incrementally since the 1970s when adjusted for inflation.

All of that was a perfect storm that “served as a bailout for the entire auto industry,” as the WSJ astutely puts it. Dealers, their finance departments and the sales-hungry industry as a whole were happy to oblige. (Hell, how many automakers are getting rid of small and affordable cars entirely?)

But it meant buyers were suddenly spending $35,000 or more on normal family cars, shoving hefty payments into their monthly budgets and getting stuck in loans that lasted into perpetuity. Delinquincies and repossessions are on the rise as well.

And it’s a scary situation if, in fact, we face some kind of economic downturn in the next year or so, whether it be a full-blown recession or just the kind of natural contraction that happens after a decade of unfettered growth. Lost income and lost jobs makes it a lot harder for people to make the $500 a month payment they’re locked into for six years on a Honda Accord, like one guy in that story is.

So what can you, as a new car shopper, do to avoid these mistakes? Figuring out your exact budget is crucial, as is committing to not go over that. There are tons of calculators and other online tools that can help you determine exactly what you can afford. Don’t buy more features or size than you actually need.

If you’re looking to own long-term, maybe look at slightly used or even CPO cars with proven reliability—let someone else take the initial depreciation hit and you keep a dependable machine long-term. Shop around for different sources of financing, too. Look at credit unions in addition to what the dealer is offering. Don’t get tricked into too many add-ons, either. (One poor guy in this story got an extended warranty on a new Toyota RAV4. Look, you probably don’t need an extended warranty on that, it’s not an Alfa Romeo Giulia or something. A RAV4 is going to hold together just fine. It’s the entire point of buying a RAV4. Driving excitement sure as hell isn’t.)

Finally, I’d advise keeping in mind what having a car payment for 72 months really means. You might be able to fit that payment into your budget now, but what if something changes for you drastically down the line? How will you afford it if you face a job loss or an illness or a cross-country move? You want to get that car paid off as quickly as possible instead of making payments for the rest of your life.

There are some extremely predatory aspects to new car buying—to say nothing of the loans that are legitimately, purposefully predatory, and almost always aimed at people with bad credit or lower incomes—but shopping smart is your best defense.

Ford Ranger Raptor With V8 Engine Allegedly In The Works

We’ve all heard the rumors about Ford’s plans to cram in a V8 inside the F-150 Raptor’s engine bay, and it now looks like the smaller Ranger Raptor will be going down the same road. A forbidden fruit in the United States, the performance truck is available in several parts of the world with a four-cylinder diesel engine producing a healthy 210 horsepower and 369 pound-feet (500 Newton-meters) of torque. A new report published by Wheels magazine states Ford’s Australian arm will swap out that 2.0-liter bi-turbodiesel for a much larger 5.0-liter V8.

Because making it work would require a lot of effort for a model that is unlikely to generate massive sales, Ford is allegedly farming out the project to an external engineering company. The V8-powered variant will start off in life as a regular diesel Ranger Raptor before heading to Australia where it’ll be blessed with the Mustang GT’s heart as well as other upgrades required following the engine transplant.

Output numbers are a mystery at the moment of writing, but it is believed the engine will produce just about the same power as it does in the Aussie-spec Mustang GT, so look for something along the lines of 455 hp and 410 lb-ft (556 Nm). That would more than double the diesel Ranger Raptor’s horsepower count and also boost torque by a significant 41 lb-ft (56 Nm).

Expected to go on sale in Australia next year, the V8 Ranger Raptor will be sold through Ford dealers and is going to be backed by a full five-year warranty. If the report turns out to be legit, the beefier version of the pickup truck will join another performance vehicle developed for the Australian market with the help of an external engineering firm. We’re talking about the supercharged V8 Mustang R-Spec created with Herrod Performance, the largest distributor of Ford Performance Parts outside of North America.

1968 Plymouth Barracuda “Cherry” Is Supercharged and Then Some

1968 was a good year for the Plymouth Barracuda. Sure, this model year only brought limited visual changes, but the engine range revamp it involved made for something that muscle car lovers could truly appreciate. So how about taking such a classic and dialing it up to eleven? Of course, this would require a restomod, the type of process certain aficionados don’t agree with. Nevertheless, the stunt mentioned above can always be achieved thanks to a rendering. And this is precisely what brought us here.

We’re looking at a pixel painting that showcases a 68 Barracuda in one of the fiercest forms possible. As your eyes will let you know, the body of the muscle hero has been left mostly untouched, but we can’t say the same about the tech side of the vehicle – in a way, this rendering is a bit like the factory transformation mentioned in the intro.

And while I’m not sure about the exact nature of the V8 that now occupies the engine compartment, one thing is certain: the motor comes with the kind of blower that dominates the entire setup.

At the other end of the combustion chain, we find a pair of exhaust tips that sit just before the rear wheels, albeit with these being of regular size.

Of course, such a transformation requires the kind of rubber that can put the extra muscle down. And it looks like the drag radials fitted to this Plymouth can easily cover that task. As for the newfound wheels of the toy, their design is obviously a subjective matter.

We can thank digital artist Timothy Adry Emmanuel for this work. Oh, and make sure to use the swipe feature of the social media post below to enjoy multiple angles of the digitally remastered Barracuda, especially the no-tailpipe posterior of the American machine.

Tesla Pickup Truck To Be Priced Below $50,000, Makes Ram Seem Puny

The target starting price is even lower.

This is a real shocker. In fact, it’s a bit hard to believe.

According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the upcoming Tesla truck will have a target price of under $50,000. This seems an impossible figure given the fact that other Tesla products (aside from the Model 3) start at a price that’s much higher. However, Musk stated this in a recent Ride The Lightning Podcast:

You should be able to buy a really great truck for $49k or less.

Musk added that the capabilities of the Tesla truck will be unmatched, though its appearance might be a bit over-the-top for a typical truck buyer.

If that price turns out to be true, then yes indeed the Tesla truck will beat the Rivian R1T and electric trucks from Ford and others, too.

In the past, Musk commented on the abilities of the Ram truck, stating that it’ll be more or less toy-like compared to the Tesla truck. Range of the Tesla truck is expected to be around 500 miles. The unveiling is set for sometime later this year.

In top-level trim, it should boast a range of between 400 and 500 miles, possibly more. As one might suspect, it will be all-wheel drive with a motor for each axle. Musk also noted that the suspension will dynamically adjust according to its load. Being electric and a truck means it will have lots of torque. While we can’t say how much, exactly, we can point out that Musk once tweeted that it could tow 300,000 pounds.

Regarding the look, there’s been any number of renders of a possible Tesla truck produced over the past couple of years, but we’ve yet to see the actual truck to really have an idea of what it will look like, though Musk does say it’ll have a certain sort of sci-fi appearance.

This Is The DeLorean Restomod Of Our Dreams

What if the DeLorean was given the Singer-style restomod treatment?

Singer is renowned for its stunning Porsche 911 restomods, but there are plenty of other iconic cars that deserve to receive the restomod treatment. Take the DeLorean DMC 12, for example. It’s one of the most famous movie cars of all time thanks to its appearance in the Back to the Future series as a time-traveling machine, so it’s perhaps surprising there haven’t been any attempts to modernize it for the 21st century.

To rectify this, Brazilian artist thiagod3signhas presented their vision of a DeLorean restomod with the same level of quality and attention to detail as Singer’s Porsches.

Whereas the original DeLorean was famous for its unpainted stainless-steel body that would never rust, the Brazilian artist has finished the car in all-black and added significantly wider fenders, larger wheels, a dual exhaust system, and front and rear spoilers, giving the DeLorean a more aggressive look compared to the original. LED headlights and taillights also help modernize the DeLorean.

The render artist hasn’t considered what an interior could look like, but we imagine it would be updated with a high-tech, futuristic cabin dominated by touchscreens.

Another aspect that would need to be modernized is the powertrain as the DeLorean left a lot to be desired in the performance department. In the original DeLorean, power was provided by a 2.85-liter V6 engine developing a modest 130 horsepower. This setup enabled the DeLorean to hit 0-62 mph in 8.8 seconds with a manual transmission or 10.5 seconds with an automatic. An old-school V8 or even an all-electric powertrain would give this DeLorean restomod the power it deserves. Sadly, this modernized DeLorean will have to remain a fantasy for now.

Modified DeLorean’s do exist in the real world, however. One example was fitted with a 5.7-liter LS1 V8 developing 425 horsepower, and someone recently converted one into a full-size remote-control car.

A Quartet Of Stunning Handbuilt Kirkham Cobras Are Headed To Auction

When it comes to classic American race cars, few are quite as impressive and iconic as Carroll Shelby’s Cobras. They’re so legendary, in fact, that a man by the name of David Kirkham — whose obsession started in 1994 when he restored an original Shelby 427 Cobra — began building his own tribute “continuation” models. And now four of Kirkman’s most unique offerings are headed to the Barrett-Jackson auction block.

While most continuation cars don’t quite measure up to the originals, Kirkman’s creations have a leg up, as his company actually presently supplies Shelby with car bodies, lending to the company’s impressive craftsmanship — which is only furthered by the quality of the cars you see here. This particular quartet, from legendary Texas-based Ford dealer Sam Pack, is comprised of a 2013 Kirkham Daytona Coupe, bronze-bodied 2011 Kirkham 427 S/C Cobra, copper 2010 Kirkham 427 S/C Cobra, and aluminum 2009 Kirkham 427 S/C Cobra.

And all of them are in exceptional, ready-to-drive condition and are looking for new owners that will appreciate their stunning good looks and racing pedigree. If you’re interested, these four racers hit the auction block in Scottsdale from January 11th-19th.