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Hoonigan 1972 Chevrolet: Napalm Nova

0-60 founder, and current Chief Brand Officer of Hoonigan, Brian Scotto built himself one extreme Chevy Nova.

[gallery ids="542364,542363,542362,542361,542360,542359,542358,542357,542356,542355,542354,542353,542352,542351,542350,542349,542348,542347,542346,542345,542344,542343,542342,542341,542340,542339,542338,542337,542336,542335,542334,542333,542332,542331,542330"] Story by: Michael Spinelli Photography by: Luke Munnell Years ago, Brian Scotto wouldn’t have considered a muscle-car project like the Napalm Nova. An Audi 80 rally car? Maybe. A Hayabusa-powered Smart ForTwo? Definitely. Rescuing an old, unsophisticated shambles from the crusher? Not bloody likely. All the same, Scotto’s blacked-out 1972 Nova with the massive cowl hood has recently entered the pantheon of other famously sinister Novas — like the “Murder Nova” seen on the Discovery Channel’s Street Outlaws, and Stuntman Mike’s car from Quentin Tarantino’s half of the movie Death Proof. Obviously, something happened along the way to change Scotto’s point of view from favoring German and Japanese metal to “building a muscle car that wasn’t welcome inside the car show,” he said. But what? Rewinding. Ten years ago, Scotto founded a car magazine called 0-60. It had a young audience and a zero-tolerance rule: No muscle cars. “We were all into weird cars from the ’80s like the Mitsubishi Starion and the E30 M3,” Scotto says now. “I felt like the audience that was into muscle cars was so different than the audience we were trying to speak to,” he said. “Muscle cars were what our dads did.” But the one guarantee in life is that attitudes can shift with a change in the scenery. Scotto, now chief brand officer of Hoonigan, a motorsport apparel company he and Gymkhana legend Ken Block founded in 2011, says he caught the Chevy Nova bug after moving from New York to Los Angeles. There, he says, the typical automotive prejudices don’t apply. “You definitely get a different perspective of car culture [in L.A.]. I just kept seeing Novas over and over and over again, and in the course of about three or four weeks, I got it in my head that maybe I want to build one of those.” The Nova has always been a strong platform for muscle-car projects. Small and light, cheap, adaptable to large powerplants and — well, they’re literally freaking everywhere. The Nova is the most plentiful of GM’s X-body cars, and the third generation, of which the Napalm Nova is a proud member, is the most attractive (to Scotto’s eyes) and the most popular of them all. Between 1968 and 1974, Chevy sold 1.7 million Novas. The company offered 15 choices of powertrain, from a 2.5-liter four to the 6.6-liter 396 (402 ci) big-block V8. Most cars rolled off the lot with either a 250ci inline six or some variation of a small-block V8. Chevrolet offered its most potent factory Nova during the 1969 and 1970 model years. It was the SS 396, an option level that combined the SS performance package with one of two versions of the mighty big-block V8, topping out at 375hp. The SS 396 burnished the Nova’s image as a stout performer. It was the most powerful small car Chevy offered, it could run low 13s from the showroom (very few remained factory-stock for long), and it was a relative bargain at $3,600. But from 1971 on, the Nova — like all of Detroit’s muscle cars — was neutered by low-compression engines that met smog and new unleaded-fuel requirements. And by 1973, a slight face-lift in all the wrong places de-sinisterized the body styling. As such, Scotto crossed the ’73-’74 Nova right off his list. “There’s just something tough about the [early third-gen] Nova. It’s a car that, when it’s sitting still, it just looks scary. When you see that car, you assume the owner is not someone to mess with — not saying that’s me, but that’s the attitude. Like he’s got a shank under his seat. Not even like a normal weapon; it’s like he’s got a mace, like a ball and chain with studs on it that he fashioned at the junkyard. It has a little bit of that Mad Max feel to it.” And it was that primer-grey, antiheroic ethos that got his creative wheels spinning. When it came time to buy the car, he knew he wanted something with good bones, as Martha Stewart might say — something he could tear down and rebuild in the image he wanted. That is, a tough-looking bastard he could drive every day. Finding the car was easy. “I knew that I didn’t want something pretty. I didn’t care what the paint looked like or what the chrome work looked like,” he said. He found what he wanted — a ’68-’72 car — on eBay and crossed the desert to pick it up in Arizona. It was a ’72, formerly canary yellow, now blue with flaking clear coat. As with so many Novas, a previous owner had tossed aside the six in favor of an eight. In this case, the eight was a mildly worked 454. That engine, producing around 400hp, would remain in the car through the build, with the addition of an MSD Atomic EFI kit, a nod to drivability, and a Tremec T56 six-speed manual. “It does what I need it to do,” Scotto says. “It’s quick, it’s fun. Maybe we’ll put in something a little more fire breathing next year.” The Nova stayed as is in Scotto’s charge for almost two years before he got serious about transforming it into the Napalm Nova. His self-direction was simple: He wanted to retain the car’s scary side, and he insisted on pegging its new look to the latter part of the decade in which it was built. That meant diverting from current trends. “Pro touring had become kind of the new thing, and everyone in the muscle-car scene seemed to have moved over there, at least from a technology point of view,” he says. “One of the biggest pet peeves I had was big wheels on old cars. It just seemed wrong to see a set of 18s on an old car. When I set out to build the [Nova], I wanted something that looked like I could have built this in the late ’70s or early ’80s. I knew I wanted a 15-inch wheel [American Racing steelies], and that, oddly enough, made everything really difficult.” Just as Scotto wanted a particularly throwback look, he wanted a much more modern suspension, one that struck a better balance between drivability and period correctness. “I called Craig Morrison [at Art Morrison Enterprises] and said I wanted to build a muscle car that could do all the things 1980s movies and TV shows said they could do: pull wheelies, jump shit, drift and other cool things. ‘It has to be really rugged and really take some abuse. You want to be part of the project?’ He just replied, ‘Hell yeah.’” Morrison’s bolt-on subframe and suspension kit was the answer. Loosely based on the Corvette’s suspension, the kit would improve the Nova’s handling for day-to-day driving and also stand up to whatever stuntwork Scotto’s media-production mind could dream up (he’s also the creative director behind Block’s hugely popular “Gymkhana” videos), while some custom modifications, including a set of Wilwood Ultralite brakes, would let Scotto keep that small-wheel look and corresponding back-in-the-day appeal. “They really tried to convince me to go with 17-inch wheels for better braking and performance numbers, but I was steadfast on keeping it a 15-inch format. All these other guys building pro-touring cars were drawing inspiration from other modern cars out there, but I was drawing inspiration from Trans Am racing and old circle-track stuff.” Other compromises were made in the name of feel and style over performance, including a more classic-sounding H-pipe exhaust (Magnaflow) rather than a higher-performance X-pipe design. Once all the custom-tweaked underpinnings were finalized, installing all that kit in the Nova was an uphill battle as well. “The Nova’s a unibody, and the front [Morrison subframe] was a pretty easy job,” Scotto says. “It just bolted on.” But for the rear, it needed some extreme futzing with. To make matters worse, the build would coincide with Hot Rod magazine’s 2015 Power Tour. That meant Scotto would have a few days north of two months to get the car from its relatively natural state to its finalized form. Scotto and pickup crew of his girlfriend, Ashley Baker, and friends and helpers spent two months’ worth of late nights getting medieval with a cutting torch to make room for a new transmission and rear subframe. They did all that, plus installed a Ford 9-inch rear from Currie Enterprises, under an extremely tight deadline, and while holding down day jobs. “The scary thing was that we only had 69 nights to get everything done before the Power Tour. It was like a bad reality TV show. We made stupid mistakes — at one point we lowered the car on the door — all because we were rushing.” But unlike some other show-car builds, where the car just has to look good enough to appease the shuffling crowds, the Napalm Nova had to go from the garage to a road trip, traveling hundreds of miles a day. No pressure there. But despite the intense heat of a southern road trip in June, which spiked the heat in the cabin to over 130 degrees Fahrenheit, the Napalm Nova held up well enough to make the trip, and even performed countless tire-shredding displays on demand. And of course, as is Scotto’s modus operandi, now the Napalm Nova has to do all those things 1980s TV promised, likely with Hoonigan video cameras rolling. “Maybe I’ll be jumping a closed bridge sometime in the future.” [Shout-out to RxSpeed!]
August 04, 2015 at 01:45 PM

BMW i8

Gratuitous BMW i8 shots to get you over the hump.

[gallery ids="542326,542325,542324,542323,542322,542321,542320,542319,542318,542317"]
July 29, 2015 at 05:43 PM

2015 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG | Reviewed

While in Miami, we took this timeless classic for a luxurious test run.

[gallery ids="542309,542310,542311,542312,542313,542314"] Story: Evan ‘Evo’ Yates Photos: Evan ‘Evo’ Yates / Mercedes-Benz / Jordan Krate Exterior: The fact that the G-Wagen’s exterior has been virtually unaltered for nearly 40 years may be frowned upon, yet I believe the G’s vintage appearance is the foundation of its appeal. I actually tend to judge a vehicle’s appearance based on its ability to stand the test of time – if it still looks cool in ten years, it’s a winner. To be brutally honest, the G63 looks like a German tank and a fancy toaster had a love child and that’s quite refreshing to me. The fact that there is still a vehicle such as this produced in the era of futuristic crossovers flooding the expressways is quite admirable. To put it in muscle-car-guy terms, it’s as if Chevy were still making second-gen Camaros in 2015 but with updated interiors and drivetrains. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Anyway, the G63’s exterior is simultaneously bold, ferocious and charming and although it’s dated, its looks are immortal. Yes, it’s covered in chrome and even though I’ve lost my taste for the bling, somehow it works on the G63. And although its aesthetics are classic in nature, the G63 still brings some new-school charm to the table with its front LED lights, blacked-out wheels and massive red brake calipers. The best thing about the exterior? You’re the strangest, coolest most unique thing on the road and that has to count for something. Interior: One of the things I love about the G-Wagen is that it sports the signature vintage exterior while maintaining a refined interior. However, if you compare the G to other current Mercedes models, it’s actually a few years behind and can even be viewed as ‘economy’ as a couple items such as the LCD screen look aftermarket. That being said, the interior has plenty of plush amenities such as seats that are actually quite comfortable wrapped in supple, yet durable designo Black Nappa leather. And although the interior cabin takes a bit of getting used to with its vertical windows that create some interesting reflections, the interior of the G63 makes you feel like you’re the lead vehicle in some sort of combat procession or mob fleet as its militant, yet elegant at the same time. A/V: If you’ve driven a Benz in the last few years, the electronics in the G63 are on-par with the entry-level Mercedes vehicles and nothing really jumps out as outstanding, yet everything is certainly functional. I found that the radio was very easy to operate and the harman/kardonn LOGIC7 surround sound system did quite well with the bass-laden tunes we were blasting while cruising South Beach. And again, in a vehicle such as this you aren’t expecting to be floored by a plethora of a gadgets and I actually appreciate the G more with its electronic simplicity. Performance: To further my comparisons to an old muscle car, the G63 is a brute that hauls some serious ass in a straight line and is a little scary around curves. And like driving a muscle car, you fall in love with the acceleration and throaty exhaust so much that you put up with any driving annoyances you may experience. On city streets, the G63 can get quite bouncy at times but for the most part it drives as expected and is just fine on the highway. It would be ludicrous for anyone to discredit the G63 for its truck-like ride when there are tens of thousands of people driving around lifted trucks and loving every minute of it. Speaking of that, even though I didn’t have a chance to take it off-road (I would have loved to but I was in Miami where things are pretty flat) I think the G63 could use a little extra meat on the tires. To me, this would accomplish a few things but mainly it would look more capable and less pretty and also aid those who want to get some real use out of it. Do I think anyone out there will be spending $140k to go off-road? Not one bit, but with its three locking differentials, 560 lb-ft of torque and 4-wheel electronic traction system, the G63 certainly could. Floss Factor: The attention a bone stock G-Wagen attracts is off the charts, even on South Beach as we experienced on every cruise. The G63 just has an aura of opulence about it while still having that hard-edge, capable presence. The G63 would have been at home parked in front of Wet Willies on Ocean Drive or traversing through the sand on the beach and somehow it looks the part regardless. I can’t reitterate enough that the G63 turns EVERY head, even in a sea of Lambos, Ferraris and Rolls. It’s just that one rare vehicle that commands your attention – or else. And as we illustrated in the last picture of our gallery from our Forgiato Fest coverage, when customizing these vehicles it can boost the appeal exponentially. With the fact that the G isn’t exactly practical, this is THE ride you cop to floss. Damage: $138,075.00 Power: 536 hp / 560 lb-ft 0-60: 5.3 sec Gas Cash: 13 MPG (Combined)
July 23, 2015 at 02:14 PM

Ford Builds Apollo Edition Mustang

To infinity and beyond!

[gallery ids="542304,542299,542298,542303,542297,542296,542295,542302,542301,542300,542294,542293"] Via Ford: As far as special edition Mustangs go, this one is out of this world. For the eighth straight year, Ford Motor Company has created a unique, aviation-inspired Ford Mustang to benefit Experimental Aircraft Association youth education programs, including the Young Eagles. The Apollo Edition Mustang will be donated and sold via auction at the Gathering of Eagles charity event, July 23, at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 – the World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration. All proceeds from the sale of the car will benefit EAA youth education programs, including the Young Eagles, which has provided free introductory flights to more than 1.9 million young people since 1992, helping grow the next generation of aviators. Ford serves as exclusive automotive sponsor of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015, held July 20-26 this year at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. “The Apollo program delivered astonishing innovations in technology and achieved a national goal of landing the first human on the moon,” said Edsel B. Ford II, a member of the Ford board of directors. “The entire program was extraordinary – one of our nation’s greatest technological achievements. With this year’s stunning Apollo Edition Mustang, we salute that spirit of American ingenuity with the quintessential American automobile – Ford Mustang.” Based on a 2015 fastback Ford Mustang GT, Ford design and engineering teams transformed the 5.0-liter pony car into the Apollo Edition Mustang – a truly unique and highly valued vehicle that will excite enthusiasts and collectors alike. Led by Ford Design Manager Melvin Betancourt, the exterior features a one-of-a-kind glossy pure white and pure black non-production paint scheme that delivers a creative connection with the NASA Apollo program. The Apollo Edition Mustang features a carbon fiber front splitter, rear diffuser, rocker moldings and accent treatments, along with unique LED underbody lighting to symbolize atmospheric re-entry. Performance enhancements include a performance package, Ford Performance supercharger and shifter, X-pipe with side and rear exhaust, sport-tuned suspension, six-piston Brembo brakes and custom Forgiato 21-inch performance wheels. This Mustang will deliver a heart-pounding 627 horsepower and 540 lb.-ft. of torque to provide an exhilarating, controlled launch for its new owner. The theme carries into the cabin with exclusive interior details, including performance gauges, modified instrument cluster, unique sill plates and embroidered elements in seats, trim panels and floor mats. The auction of the Apollo Edition Mustang will be the pinnacle of the EAA Gathering of Eagles gala. The event annually draws more than 1,000 aviation enthusiasts in support of EAA youth education programs, which inspire young people to become engineers, aviators, astronauts, scientists and innovators – the aviation pioneers of tomorrow. “Ford has been a committed sponsor of EAA and AirVenture for more than 15 years – bringing incredible value to those who make Oshkosh the highlight of their aviation year,” said Jack Pelton, EAA chairman of the board. “With its eighth Mustang donation, Ford continues to excite with its specialty vehicles, which reflect the depth of the company’s commitment and which allow EAA to provide support to its valuable programs and dedicated members in helping us grow the next generation of aviators.” The Apollo Edition Mustang joins seven other one-of-a-kind Mustangs created by the Ford design and engineering teams for the auction in support of EAA youth education. Ford vehicles donated at EAA AirVenture events have collectively raised nearly $3 million.
July 16, 2015 at 06:13 PM

2015 Buick Encore | Review

Buick's cutest vehicle, ever, but does that equal quality?

[gallery ids="542290,542287,542288,542289"] Photos & Words: Evan ‘Evo’ Yates Exterior: The commercials are spot-on. Tell someone, ‘It’s the Buick over there’ and they literally can’t locate it. But in this case, it’s not necessarily because the Encore oozes new-age luxury, more so because it’s a tiny luxury crossover SUV and most would never imagine Buick producing a vehicle such as this. That being said, the exterior is quite charming. Most notably,  the front faschia is attractive and definitely demands some attention with its vertical chrome grille and blue halo-style headlight rings. Quicksilver Metallic, the hue my test vehicle adorned, is more than likely the best option for the Encore as the body lines are properly accentuated. All things considered, the aesthetic is what would potentially boost the Encore above its competitors. Interior: One attribute Buick has always been known for are plush, comfortable interiors but inside the Encore, there’s not much ‘Buick’ to be found – more like Saturn. Clearly they had to keep costs down but the the bland plastics and the ‘leather appointed’ seats fall short of the Buick standard. The interior was also a bit cramped in the rear and there wasn’t much cargo room but this was kind of assumed ahead of time. However, in this particular genre of vehicles, it’s not uncommon for the interiors to be pretty basic so it was almost to be expected. Just know that if you’re looking for BUICK in this interior, you won’t find it. A/V: Our test vehicle was equipped with a BOSE premium audio system which was fine for certain types of music and certainly a step above the base model. My iPhone seemed to work pretty well with the system via bluetooth or connected via cable (my preferred method). The 7-inch color screen was bright, easy on the eyes and added the techy-luxury vibe needed in a vehicle such as this as it’s assumed a younger person would be purchasing it. Performance: The ECOTEC Turbo 1.4L four-cylinder motor does its job but don’t expect much out of it. The Encore struggled at times with multiple passengers and/or with the air conditioning on but performs pretty well otherwise. Floss Factor: This little luxury nugget is cute and certainly a step above its competition in the looks category. Damage: $29,965.00 Power: 138 hp, 148 lb-ft 0-60: 9.3 sec Gas Cash: 28 MPG (combined)
July 13, 2015 at 05:28 PM

Yokohama Tire Wants To Send You To A Yankees Game

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Yokohama Yankees Promo

Yokohama Tire Corporation (YTC) has teamed up with Major League Baseball’s most successful franchise – the New York Yankees – to bring fans the “VIP Experience.” From now until July 31, Yokohama will be running an online sweepstakes for fans and, at the end, one lucky winner and three guests will get to go to Yankee Stadium to watch the 27-time World Champion Yankees take on the Chicago White Sox on September 26.

Baseball fans can enter by visiting www.yankees.com/ytcvip or by texting YTC2WIN to 89269. “Yokohama’s partnership with the Yankees has been a big hit with fans,” said Alan Holtschneider, YTC director of marketing. “The grand prize includes four Field Level MVP tickets, a chance to watch batting practice from behind home plate and a limited-edition New York Yankees gift bag.” The VIP Experience prize package includes roundtrip airfare to New York and hotel accommodations for the winner and guests. The winner will be picked on August 3, and the contest is open to all United States residents, 18 years of age or older. Contest rules can be found at: www.yankees.com/ytcvip.
July 09, 2015 at 12:33 PM

2014 BMW M6 Gran Coupe

Start your week off right with gratuitous Bimmer shots.

[gallery ids="542277,542273,542272,542275,542276,542274"] [Photography By Andrew Link.]
July 06, 2015 at 05:05 PM

2015 Chevrolet SS | Reviewed

A Camaro in Caprice clothing.

[gallery ids="542261,542264,542266,542267,542262,542263,542265"] Photos & Words: Evan ‘Evo’ Yates Exterior: The new Chevy SS is probably the most unassuming performance car ever with its cousin, the fourth-generation GTO coming in a close second. If you don’t know the history of the SS or Chevy in general, you’ll more than likely pass it off as a Malibu, Impala or even a Cobalt. To some, the mundane appearance could be a turn-off and doesn’t justify the price tag but the Chevy SS isn’t for the person yearning for the fanfare. However, Chevy did a respectable job in adding performance-inspired appointments with a menacing front fascia, chrome fender vents and rear deck lid spoiler. Staggered 19-inch forged aluminum wheels wrapped in high-performance Bridgestone tires are also a nice touch although I would love to see the wheels in a more aggressive shade such as gunmetal or black. Interior: Inside the Chevy SS is a perfect mix of sport and class with racing-style seats similar to those in the new Z28 Camaro and leather and suede covering the dash and doors. The SS could easily seat four full-size adults comfortably and everything is properly laid out in the cabin. The only gripe I had with my six-speed manual model was that with drinks in the cupholders it was a little difficult to shift gears properly. A/V: Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system with the eight-inch touch screen is a breeze to operate and the bluetooth streaming audio makes for easy connectivity with your smart phone. The heads-up display (an option I usually could care less about) was actually very helpful in a car such as this as I opted for the screen that displayed MPH and RPM which certainly aided in regulating my driving style with such a powerful vehicle. Performance: Driving the 2015 Chevy SS is a visceral experience that will leave you grinning ear-to-ear after every romp of the gearbox. You truly feel that you’re driving a modern muscle car and forget that you’re behind the wheel of a sedan akin to a Chevy Malibu. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of driving a Camaro SS or Corvette, the feeling is virtually identical to the Chevy SS. With the 6.2L LS3 under the hood pumping out 415 horsepower and 415 ft lb of torque mated to the TREMEC TR6060 six-speed manual transmission, the SS is just plain bad ass and will plant you in your seat. The LS3 also barks out a sultry exahust note that you simply never get tired of hearing. On top of it being loads of fun, the SS is also quite streetable when you want it to be which is the brilliance of a car such as this. Yes, you can actually have the best of both worlds. And the SS isn’t just great for romping down a quarter-mile, it also handles the curves effortlessly thanks to the Magnetic Ride Control and MacPherson suspension. And to make sure you get this beast to a screeching halt, massive Brembo brakes on all four corners come standard. Floss Factor: Unless you come across a die-hard Chevy and/or Holden fan, you won’t earn any extra props on the streets with the SS. However, knowing you have a sedan that could whip the pants off most vehicles on the road while still being able to seat multiple passengers and haul luggage should be satisfaction enough to any hardcore car guy (or gal). Damage: $47,640.00 Power: 415 hp/ 415 ft lb torque 0-60: 4.7 sec Gas Cash: 17 MPG (combined)
June 30, 2015 at 02:13 PM
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