‘Efijy’ rises from the grave in time for Halloween…It’s not easy being green and in love…All that glitters could be gold for BMW X2…I’ve got you under my skin…

When it first made an appearance at the 2005 Sydney International Motor Show, it was described by Hotrod magazine as probably the most beautiful concept car ever to come out of an OE manufacturer.

The magazine went to say that there was virtually no chance the car would ever go into production as the idea was to show case the abilities of Holden’s design and engineering teams.

But lo and behold, just in time for Halloween, the Efijy – a homage to the classic Holden FJ built between 1953 and 1956 – has made a Lazarus-type comeback in the form of the next generation ZB Holden Commodore on show to the public for the first time (well, not quite) at Motorclassica in Melbourne.

Set to go on sale in early 2018, the ZB Commodore VXR boasts a 3.6-litre V6 engine paired with a nine-speed transmission and adaptive all-wheel-drive capable of producing 235kW and 381Nm torque.

The first designs for the Efijy date back to 1988 when Richard Ferlazzo, a long time hot rod and custom freak, went to work for Holden and began imagining what kind of custom car could be built with the talent and resources of a major design studio.

He drew up a few rough conceptual sketches but not much else happened until 2002, when it came time to thinking about the 50th anniversary of the original FJ. Ferlazzo, by now Holden’s chief designer knew right away what needed to be done.

Work began in March, starting with little more than a clay model and a bare Corvette chassis and drivetrain and it was all finished in time for the Sydney motor show the following October. A piece of art built from scratch in eight months that was not just a show car, but the Full Monty, having undergone high-speed calibration at Holden’s proving grounds.

The fibreglass body was inspired by the ’53 FJ, to which was added a completely new coupe design. The ’50s styling cues, including the FJ-like grille and general fender shape, incorporated state-of-the-art technology, such as radical multi-element LED headlight assemblies with a cooling fan on the back of each bucket.

All of the trim pieces were cut from billet aluminum and then polished to such a lustrous sheen that they don’t even look like billet. The custom wheels (22ins at the rear, 20s up front, with Dunlop SP Sport tyres) also started life as chunks of billet aluminum, machined by Australian race car supplier Harrop.

Because it was always intended to be a runner, the Holden designers added monstrous 15-inch road-race brakes with six-piston calipers in front and four-piston calipers at the rear, also from Harrop.

The paint was House of Kolor Soprano Purple and underneath the amazing bodywork was the chassis of a C6 Corvette lengthened to a 116-inch wheelbase and fitted with Air Ride bags to produce a lower-than-Tasmania riding stance.

The engineers programmed three ride-height levels actuated by an electronic controller that drops down out of the dash. Abundant thrust was provided by a Corvette’s 6.0L LS2V-8 coupled to a rear mounted, four speed automatic transaxle.

Hotrod Magazine went on to say: “Despite the lusciousness of the body and the aggressiveness of the drivetrain, the interior is perhaps the true design triumph of the car and rivals any custom or street rod we’ve ever seen.”

It’s not easy being green and in love

The Tokyo Motor Show has been and gone for another year and as usual there are heaps of sites around the internet from which the petrolhead can get his, or her, jollies. Here at ausauto we won’t be competing with our better resourced brothers and sisters, but we really do want to bring this little number to your attention.

As you can see it was love at first sight for Kermit. And no wonder? Blessed with the looks of a giant tree frog and the way out name Flesby 2, it’s very like the not easy being easy little creature in that it must be something of a joke.

But is it?

On closer inspection, it could be a rather more serious attempt at redefining what the relationship between a user and a vehicle could look like, particularly when it comes to autonomous vehicles.

More like a friendly anura (that’s the scientific name for a kermit) than a metallic machine, the Flesby communicates through lighting buried under its tactile fabric skin. It can also perform a series of creature-like motions such as squatting down, expanding areas such as the wheel covers and put out a convincing rhythmic ‘breathing’…or croak.

It’all the work of Toyoda Gosei, a supplier to the auto industry that specialises in rubber, plastics and LEDs and it was meant as a showcase for the firm’s skills including an ‘e-rubber’ skin that is both soft to the touch and impact-absorbent for pedestrian safety.

The product also flexes in a slightly disconcerting, lifelike way when an electric current is applied. No wonder Kermit is in love!


All that glitters could be gold for BMW X2

“The BMW X2 pushes back boundaries, puts a firework under old habits and brings previously uncharted levels of driving pleasure to this vehicle segment.”

How’s that for a fine example of autospeak?

And there’s more: “The BMW X2 cuts a sublime figure from any angle. Its stance on the road recalls a finely-tuned athlete – and fuses the rugged profile typical of a BMW X model with the sporting grace of a coupe.”

Oh, wow!  Even in the autospeak-autoDisney world of make believe, this really sounds like something special

And perhaps it is. The unit does have a certain bling to it, despite being born in Germany. And that color! Well, that should ensure record sales in China for starters.

Signature details include wheel arches with a squared-off look, mickey mouse exhaust tailpipes, accentuated side skirts, and an elegant roofline that blends well with a slim window graphic. All of which helps make it look a little less like a Holden, Commodore or Toyota than some of its precedesors.

When launched next year, variants will include manual and auto petrol and diesel housed in about five models ranging from coupe to, well, bog standard if there is such a thing in the world of BMW.

Both diesel vehicles have intelligent all-wheel drive and an eight-speed Steptronic transmission as standard, whilst the petrol model has a seven-speed Steptronic dual-clutch transmission. There’s a range of gizmos such as driving and parking assist and all the usual in-car entertainment and connectivity bits and pieces.

I’ve got you under my skin

If you are one of those nutters that are always ready to ride the Prancing Horse, then make sure you get to London sometime between the 15th November and the 15th April.

That’s the period in which Ferrari will be holding one of the many events to celebrate 70 years of bending, shaping and assembling bits of metal. This one is at the Design Museum and it comes by the name of Under the Skin.

As you’d expect, the exhibition will bring together landmark road and racing cars, plus sketches and technical drawings, design models in various scales and media.

They’ll be wooden master models and wind tunnel models and the usual range of automobilia, this time including Enzo Ferrari’s driving licence and the race helmets of some of the company’s most famous F1 drivers.

Under The Skin will also follow the evolution of car design, not just through the final products, but design and manufacturing techniques such as the old wooden master models that were once used as a point of reference when hand-beating sheets of metal into body panels.

The Design Museum is in Kensington and tickets will be £18 for adults and half that for budding young enthusiasts aged between nine and 16 years old.


Nissan tests AV technology in Tokyo

Nissan is the latest manufacturer to test out AV technology with a spin around public roads in Tokyo. According to the blurb, ProPilot technology provided an Infiniti Q50 with the ability to operate autonomously on urban roads and freeways, beginning from when a driver uses the navigation system to select a destination until arrival.

The prototype’s artificial intelligence uses input from 12 sonars, 12 cameras, nine millimeter-wave radars, six laser scanners and a high-definition map to analyse complex scenarios such as crossing busy intersections. Software improvements are said to also ensure smooth transitions when encountering obstacles in the road…except for cats!

The ProPilot technology should be available in real world in about three years. Meanwhile, the latest zero emissions Nissan Leaf is equipped with that part of the technology that enables single lane autonomous driving on highways.

As part of a drive to lift its global image, the company is to become the first Japanese manufacturer to compete in the all-electric FIA Formula E racing championship starting in 2018.

Roadside assist you pay for only when you need it

It’s no surprise millennials, young professionals and families want their roadside assistance to keep up with the times, but new research conducted for gotU reveals Australian consumers are less informed than ever when it comes to annual memberships.

A recent survey of almost 400 Australians (aged 18-35) revealed that more than half those who hold a current annual roadside assistance membership couldn’t recall who the name of their provider and only 17% could remember using roadside assistance in the past 12 months.

While disinterest seems an obvious culprit for consumers’ disengagement with this necessary element of life admin, gotU believes there’s other factors at play.

According to the company’s Brendon Dyer, consumers expect their roadside assistance to keep up with how they live their life: “We are a pay-as-you-go society and the tired model of paying for a year-round membership for roadside assistance just doesn’t fit savvy consumers anymore, especially when the average Australian requires roadside assistance just once every three years.

“gotU’s roadside rescue model was developed in 2016 to address just this. We offer motorists in metro areas roadside help on an ad hoc basic from $69. It’s roadside rescue just when you need it, no annual memberships, no additional call-out fees, no hidden costs.”

The basic $69 is for services such as getting a vehicle towed home after a big night of partying. gotU operate in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast.

More info @ gotu.com.au.


Solar Gard and Zero to 60 Designs stay cool at SEMA

Well it’s all hotting up in LA for the opening next week of the 2017 SEMA Show but they’ll be one major exhibit at least where the temperature will be distinctly cooler thanks to an innovative combined effort from Solar Gard and Zero to 60 Designs.

On display will be a fully customized and redesigned Tesla Model S with a $US40,000 PPG paint job invisibly shielded by Solar Gard’s latest advancements in paint protection film technology window film.

Clearshield Pro Hydro is the company’s infused top coat that when combined with LX Series window film, turns the Tesla Zero TS into something really cool in more ways than one.

According to a company spokesperson, Clearshield Pro Hydro adds the benefits of superior stain-resistance and self-healing properties: “In addition to protecting the paint on the customized vehicle, the Tesla will also feature Solar Gard’s LX Series window film, the world’s most heat rejecting film for automobiles in North America.

Solar Gard is also releasing two new items to help dealers and installers monitor the installation process from start to finish. Using a newly updated Solar Gard On-The-Go app, installers are able to access on–the-spot project estimates, film-to-glass calculations, simple bar code ordering and registering film warranties.

Slip & Stick, designed by window tinters for installation professionals, provides for clearer installs, and according to the company, will not degrade adhesive like shampoo, or dish detergent, is effective on all pressure-sensitive adhesive window films and offers slip when needed, but also tacks on demand.

The Zero TS will be on display at Booth #12669 in the North Hall of the exhibition that runs until 3 November.


Stunning makeover for ugly duckling Fezza

If you’re one of those Prancing Horse fans that can’t stand the look of the V12 or V8 GTC4Lusso T then you’ll be amongst the first to congratulate Novitec, a tuning company that has dealt with almost all Ferraris, for turning out a full-on tuning kit for the vehicle.

From new exterior features, wheels and more power, the GTC4Lusso T gets the full makeover. The turbocharged V8, for instance, is tuned up from a stock 600hp to an incredible 709hp with 650lb-ft of torque.

That is quite a stretch for a 3.9ltr V8, yet the McLaren 720S, with a four litre V8 already sells stock with a bit more.

The hatchback Ferrari receives a three-piece body-kit minimising lift at high speeds. Notable additions include a rear diffuser and carbon fibre spoiler finished in black that fit in perfectly with the grey finish.

The Novitec NF4 high-tech forged, black finished, wheels (21ins front-22 rear) are possibly the most advanced and certainly among the lightest in the world. A comprehensive Alcantara and leather trim fills out the cabin.

Considering that the GTC4Lusso T is only a RWD machine and that it lacks four cylinders compared with the full-fledged Ferrari V12 model, it is not hard to imagine this powered up model to be actually faster. The Novitec Ferrari GTC4Lusso is lighter than the V12 and Novitec reckon that at 0.100km/h in 3.2 secs, on the way to a top of 320km/h, it’s also faster.

The price has not been published, but expect a hefty premium over the $US300,000 starting price of the GTC4Lusso T.



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