Recreating Automotive History with the Toyota Supra GR

The Samurai is back. He has been resurrected.  Like a ghost of Japanese automotive past, many believed this car would be a piece of automotive artwork, commissioned for exhibition in race facilities only for spectators to view.  But such is not the case.  In fact, the new 2020 Toyota Supra GR MKV is a weapon available for any enthusiast to command.

Starting with balance. Toyota engineers designed the Supra GR to be agile in every way.  This was accomplished by moving the engine as far back to the center of the car and as low as possible, closest to the center of gravity, thus creating a 50:50 front and rear weight distribution.  Making the Supra GR ready to attack any road, swiftly flick through a corner, and cut through any apex with strict discipline.

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Tap the floorboard with the gas pedal and a familiar voice of a twin-scroll, single turbocharged 6-cylinder, 3.0 liter engine will be singing it’s tune; the same that’s performed in the previous three generations of Supra models.  But for this version, the Samurai gods have blessed the American marketplace with 382 horsepower and 369 foot-pounds of torque version.

The powerful stroke of attack by the Supra GR is backed by an enhanced rigid chassis design that’s nearly 200 pounds lighter than the MKIV.  With sport modes that let the driver immediately switch combat, by changing the actively controlled suspension dampening, steering aggressiveness, drivetrain power, traction and the exhaust note.

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Not only is the GR a refined classic, but the exterior has been molded into a modern facade without straying too far from Japanese tradition. The unnoticeable characteristics include a wide font grill for intercooler temps, a double bubble roof to increase cabin space, square jeweled headlights and then there is the aerodynamics.  The front and rear spoiler flares provide cooler braking temps under extreme conditions and for extreme downforce.

So is recreating an old legend a good move for the Japanese auto manufacturer?  Only time will tell with many players moving towards the push of electric performance vehicles. Although the 2020 Supra will have a reasonable price for the consumer marketplace — it may be a last battle cry in a fight to keep traditional performance vehicles within our society.

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Bosozoku – (Bo-so-zo-ku)

Over exaggerated aero wings.  Elongated fenders.  Jagged exhaust pipes frantically bent up towards the sky.  Crazy as they seem, these are the features of Bosozoku (Bo-so-zo-ku) — a Japanese style of car modding that originated from a subculture of motorcycle and car gangs.  Hence the word “zoku”, meaning gang.

On any normal day in Osaka or within the cramped city spaces of Tokyo, you’ll most likely spot a Bosozoku and it’s high-pitched buzzing exhaust: as if the driver is trying to play a melody with the gas pedal.  For some it makes them cringe.

Ready or not, features of the Bosozoku style have kamikaze-d right into the American car scene. So here’s how to spot a few Bosozoku mods that may be the next show stopper.

The modern Bosozoku style is a mash-up of several older Japanese visual car styles and one of the most common features is taken from the “Shakotan” (Sha-ko-tan) style. Literally meaning low. Attributes include an extremely low stance with enlarged wings, extruding exhaust tips, and wildly extended front chin splitters.

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Another piece of visual styling is adapted from the “Garuchan” (Ga-ru-chan) style, which incorporates the persona of classic, race-car influence. The most notable features are widened fenders, or the use of extra-wide fender flares. (See below)

For Bosozoku’s, color is king. Every car has a unique and eclectic color palate. The visually intoxicating colors are adapted from the “Yanky” style that spilled over from the aloha shirts worn during the the 70’s and 80’s by local thugs. The name was also taken from a popular car driven in the pop-culture TV show, “Yanky Mate!”

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While there are many different subculture car trends that run wild in the streets, none other is as visually crazier than Bosozoku. Smashing style and comic book-like attributes, Bosozoku pushes visual modifications to the limits of — ridiculous. But of course we should keep an open mind when seeing the new trends at the local car show. Who knows? The next show stopper just may be — an American Bosozuko.

 

Photo 3 credit: SpeedHunters

When Sex Meets Violence. The 1989 Batmobile

In 1989, Tim Burton forever changed the viewpoint of Batman on the big screen. With the help of designer Anton Furst, the two collaborated to create a grungy backdrop of an art deco-like, dystopian city known as Gothem. While dropping into the filth covered alleyways, the mysterious black bat dissolved into the nighttime shadows with help from an arsenal of modern gadgets, including grappling hooks and smoke screens and the most iconic accessory of all — the 1989 Batmobile.

A creation by Aton Furst. Both Burton and Furst sketched through hundreds of designs before reaching the new look. “I didn’t want a futuristic vehicle on a pastiche 1950s car. I went for the most brutal expression of a car, an image which also suggests sex and violence.” Said Anton. (1)

“The Batmobile worried us a lot. “ Burton admitted. Early on, it seemed that everything Anton and I came up with just looked like we were putting fins on cars. Cars can so easily become a joke – people don’t realize how difficult it is to make a new kind of car. After a long period of time in which Anton reworked and refined and adjusted the design, we finally hit on something that looked good. Even after the drawing was done, though, we still were not sure how it would go over in the film. It wasn’t until we saw it in rushes that we knew it was right.” (1)

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After agreeing upon a design, Furst only had five months to build two cars; one for props and the other for stunts.   This meant the new Batmobile not only had to be visually exciting, but functional as a real car. Furst admitted. “In a way, the Batmobile was a more hairy project than building those huge sets. It certainly worried me the most, because it was such an important element of the film, it would have been terrible to come up with a Batmobile that was weak.”

Due to the tight schedule of projects, Furst relived the build to John Evans, Special Effects supervisor. To speed things up, the car was even by-passed through computer rendering and put straight into clay formation. The initial model was only two feet long and six inches tall. But when in full scale, the molded body needed to be twenty-three feet long and nine feet wide.

While the body mold was being painstakingly carved, the frames were in the process of being fabricated. Evans noted. “Because we were so short on time, I felt that I’d rather than experiment with and get a chassis that was proven . . . So I went out and found two 1974, V-8 Chevrolet Impala chassis at a junkyard . . . we lengthened them by two feet, packed the wheels out four inches and dropped the engine about twelve inches. We also put a new suspension in and fitted the chassis with twenty-four-inch-width Mickey Thompson drag racing tires.

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Once the body cast was complete, it was shipped off to a company that specialized in building Le Mans racecars. The final molds were formed out of Kevlar, which is an extremely light and strong polycarbonate material. Last touch was the paint job. “There were about six different layers of colors to give the car the finish of a beetle – a lot of colors coming through the blackness so that it had a three-dimensional quality to it rather than being just a flat black. We did not go to a full gloss on it – we left it with a slight matte finish to make it look more like a war machine.” Said Furst.

Finally the Batmobile was fitted to the chassis and the arsenal of components added including and array of fighter aircraft gauges and military 9mm Browning machine guns. “AII of the controls for the guns were actually inside the car. Explained Evans. “We had speed regulators on them so that they could go at whatever speed the director wanted at the time. The flaps of the car were on compressed air so that they could into the air.”

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But of course the most Iconic feature of the Batmobile is the turbine, and on this version, the entire car design was wrapped around a jet turbine. Although not real, making the afterburner work was a high-temperature situation. “We had to have a lot of flame – which of course, generated a tremendous amount of heat. We insulated the back of the car and we also put Co2 extinguishers in a ring around it, just in case of an accident with the fire.” Said Evans.

The 1989 was an extension of the character Tim Burton created.  Dark.  Armored. Completely sinister.  Yet seductive.  To this day, if you line up every Batmobile ever produced, the 1989 Batmobile is it is hands down, the most exciting and alluring of vehicle them all.

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The Bugatti Divo

 

What happens when Bugatti makes a limited edition car with a total production of only 40?  It’s simple. They sell it for 5.8 million dollars. And yes, you totally read that right — but to many, apparently that price is a deal because Bugatti immediately sold out of their new supercar dubbed “Divo” during its inauguration to the car world during the 2018 Monterey “Car Week.”

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So what makes this car better than it’s 3.5 million dollar predecessor, the Chiron?

Apparently Bugatti has noted that the Divo is more driver friendly?  Does that mean  the “Chiron” was not?  Take in regard, within sitting inside either vehicle there is no view to see outside of the car that is easy.  To cool the engine, it takes nearly 10 radiators, and parking the vehicle is nearly impossible.

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And although the new “Divo” still ultizies the exact same 1,500 horsepower W16 power plant, the Divo has been shaved of nearly 77 pounds.  Also, a wider wing has been added increasing downforce by nearly 200 pounds. Although I can’t really see these two features justifying a 1.5 million dollar increase in cost, when you compare the aesthetics to the Chiron, the Divo wins hands down.