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Rolls-Royce revives coachbuilding business

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Torsten Müller-Ötvös

After testing the waters for a modern coachbuilding service with the one-off Sweptail unveiled in 2017, Rolls-Royce is now ready to establish a standalone division catering to well-heeled buyers looking for a unique vehicle.

On Wednesday, Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös confirmed the new division as Rolls-Royce Coachbuild and said it will be able to create a unique vehicle to a customer’s exact requirements.

“We are able to offer our customers the opportunity to create a motor car in which every single element is hand-built to their precise individual requirements,” he said in a statement.

Torsten Müller-Ötvös

We’re sure there will still be some guidelines to protect the world from some of the fancies of Rolls-Royce’s customers. Tasteless millionaires and unique vehicles can be a dangerous combination.

Yes, you’re going to have some spare millions if you want Rolls-Royce to build you a unique vehicle. The Sweptail is estimated to have cost its owner close to $12.8 million. That’s a lot, even for a Rolls-Royce.

There is a lot involved, though. Coachbuilding is the practice of using a donor chassis on which to build a unique body and interior. It’s actually how cars were largely built in the early era of the automobile, including at Rolls-Royce.

Rolls-Royce Sweptail

Rolls-Royce Sweptail

The modern coach-built cars from Rolls-Royce will be based on the automaker’s aluminum space-frame platform that debuted in the latest Phantom and has since made its way into the Cullinan and Ghost. A space-frame instead of a typical unibody structure means unique bodies can be created.

The platform was also designed to be scalable, with the bulkhead, floor, cross-member and side sills all capable of being stretched or shrunk to suit a design. The height of the platform can also be adjusted.

More details on Rolls-Royce Coachbuild will be announced shortly.

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Autos

Ford Shelby Cobra concept headed to Monterey auction

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Carroll Shelby and the 2004 Ford Shelby Cobra concept (Photo via Mecum Auctions)

The 2004 Ford Shelby Cobra concept is headed to auction. The one-off drivable concept car inspired by the legendary Cobra roadster will cross the block at Mecum auction in Monterey, California, scheduled for Aug. 12-14.

Codenamed “Daisy,” the Shelby Cobra concept debuted at the 2004 Detroit auto show. Since 2017, it’s been owned by Chris Theodore, one of the designers who worked on it.

This concept was a product of the retro craze that swept the auto industry in the 1990s and early 2000s. Ford had already launched a new Thunderbird with retro styling by the time the Cobra concept debuted. Ford subsequently launched versions of the GT and Mustang with styling inspired by their 1960s predecessors. Ford also built the Shelby GR1 concept in 2004 as a modern take on the Shelby Daytona Coupe race cars of the 1960s.

Carroll Shelby and the 2004 Ford Shelby Cobra concept (Photo via Mecum Auctions)

Unlike most concept cars, the Cobra is fully drivable. It’s powered by a 6.4-liter V-10, which, like the car itself, never made it to production. Other components were sourced from the Ford GT, which was undergoing development at the time.

Cobra creator Carroll Shelby gave the project his blessing, and drove the car for publicity photos (even doing some donuts), but he likely didn’t have much engineering input. Shelby’s involvement was symbolically important, though, as this marked the first time he’d worked with Ford since the glory days of the original Cobra in the 1960s.

Theodore paid $825,000 for the Cobra in 2017. Mecum doesn’t provide pre-auction estimates, but when Theodore and the Cobra appeared on Jay Leno’s Garage recently, car appraiser Donald Osborne said the Cobra was worth $1.5 million. The car isn’t street legal, however, and the auction listing notes that it must be sold to an out-of-state buyer, likely because of California emissions rules.

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2021 Ferrari 812 GTS prances into Jay Leno’s Garage

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2021 Ferrari 812 GTS on Jay Leno's Garage

After checking out the mid-engine Ferrari SF90 Stradale, Jay Leno switched to the front-engine 812 GTS for a recent episode of “Jay Leno’s Garage.”

The Ferrari 812 GTS is a convertible version of the 812 Superfast, sporting a retractable hardtop in place of the Superfast’s fixed roof. So it’s perfect for Leno’s Los Angeles locale.

Like the 812 Superfast, the 812 GTS is powered by a naturally-aspirated 6.5-liter V-12, producing 789 hp and 530 lb-ft of torque. The engine drives the rear wheels through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Ferrari quotes 0-62 mph in less than three seconds, with a top speed of over 211 mph.

2021 Ferrari 812 GTS on Jay Leno’s Garage

When it was unveiled in 2019, the 812 GTS was the first V-12 Ferrari convertible since 2014’s limited-edition F60 America. In terms of regular production cars, it was the first since the 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider of the early 1970s. However, Ferrari has since unveiled the 812 Competizione A, a more hardcore targa version with 812 hp.

Leno was impressed by the design, noting that the V-12 front-engine cars are Ferrari’s traditional bailiwick. He liked the driving dynamics too, praising the smoothness of the V-12, the comfortable ride, and the handling precision of what is a fairly large car. A four-wheel steering system, shared with the 812 Superfast and originally from the F12tdf, likely helps with that.

A hardcore version of the 812 Superfast is expected to be a swan song for the naturally-aspirated Ferrari V-12. So watch Leno take the 812 GTS for a spin, and listen to that V-12 wail.

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2022 Toyota Tundra first look

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2022 Toyota Tundra leaked via Tundra.com forum

Update: This story has been updated after Toyota released an official image of the 2022 Toyota Tundra

The new generation of the Toyota Tundra is finally coming after more than a decade, and now the wait to see the new full-size truck appears to be over.

On Thursday, Tundras.com forum member Tibetan Nomad posted leaked images of the 2022 Toyota Tundra, which were reportedly posted on the TundraCrew Facebook group by a dealership employee. Toyota responded by releasing a single photo of the new truck.

Given the lighting and background, the images appear to be screen shots of official press images or of an in-studio video walk around.

Based on the wheels and wording stamped into the tailgate, the 2022 Toyota Tundra pictured is the off-road-oriented TRD Pro model.

2022 Toyota Tundra leaked via Tundra.com forum

We’ve seen earlier teaser images, so there aren’t a ton of surprises in the front end design. In the images, we see LED lighting, amber marker lights, a driving light in the grille right below the word Toyota, and fog lights at the bottom of the grille. The back of the bulging hood features the trim name, in this case TRD Pro.

Black, presumably aluminum, wheels are wrapped in Falken Wildpeak all-terrain tires.

2022 Toyota Tundra leaked via Tundra.com forum

2022 Toyota Tundra leaked via Tundra.com forum

The rear tailgate has TRD Pro stamped into it with three amber LED marker lights above the release handle. Vertical LED taillights have dual lighting elements.

The next-generation Tundra is expected to ride on a new modular truck platform that will also underpin the next-generation Tacoma, 4Runner, and Sequoia.

The current Tundra’s 5.7-liter V-8 will likely be retired with the redesign. A new twin-turbo V-6 is expected to power the 2022 Tundra with a hybrid version as an option.

Stay tuned for more on the 2022 Toyota Tundra.

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