ID. Buzz surfs into view

If you’re old enough, you likely remember the images from the beach-party movies of the 1960s and such that depicted Volkswagen Sambas facing the glittering Pacific with surfboards lashed to the top. So it makes perfect sense, and is in no way coincidental, that Volkswagen chose the sun-kissed community of Huntington Beach, California, to debut its three-row ID. Buzz electric minivan, a vehicle clearly inspired by the Microbus of years gone by.

The zero-emissions ID. Buzz, in its three-row configuration, is specifically designed for use in North America, with additional wheelbase and a larger battery back than the home-market ID. Buzz introduced earlier. For North America, the van gets a 91 kWh battery pack that can produce 282 horsepower in rear-drive versions, with an all-wheel-drive model also being introduced. Prices have yet to be announced, and actual sales are scheduled to start off in 2024.

Return of the Dragonsnake

The original Shelby Cobra had a gilt-edged competition history, not just on road courses, but more obscurely, on the drag strip. That happened in the mid-1960s when our friend Bruce Larson, the Pennsylvania drag racing legend, took delivery of a drag-tuned Cobra that became known as the Dragonsnake, which he used to run through the sports-class drag categories that existed then. In 1966, Larson sold the fuchsia-painted Cobra to Ed Hedrick of Philadelphia, using it to win every NHRA race he entered, a total that came to include the U.S. Nationals and an NHRA national record. As part of the 100th anniversary of Carroll Shelby’s birth, this landmark Cobra is being re-created in extremely limited numbers.

Built under license from Shelby American, Pennsylvania-based Legendary GT Continuation Cars will produce a total of five copies of the original Dragonsnake. The first, unveiled by Larson at the Carlisle All-Ford Nationals, will replicate his purple Corvette eater, as shown above, only with some upgrades. The Dragonsnake will utilize aluminum bodywork with a color-matched Cobra hardtop, running on an original-configuration frame with 4-inch round main tubes. The chassis will also feature disc brakes and adjustable Penske shocks. Power comes from a Weber-fed Ford-sourced V-8 that the manufacturer says will produce 500 horsepower.

Chevrolet’s new buffalo stance

The Colorado is Chevrolet’s longstanding entry into the booming market for midsize pickups, and is normally associated with homeowners hauling raw materials for domestic projects back from Lowe’s. Chevrolet is rolling out a new Colorado variant that’s got roughhouse play on its mind. The 2024 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison is a pure off-roader, designed and built in conjunction with American Expedition Vehicles.

There’s a lot of interesting components to the Bison package. The jounce control dampers come from Multimatic, which specializes in designing shock-control technologies for world-class race cars. The Bison is reported to have best-in-class approach, departure and breakover angles for confronting obstacles. AEV will supply the rear bumper, the winch-capable front bumper and the 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels. Standard power will come from Chevrolet’s turbocharged 2.7-liter engine.

Hybrid powertrain options for 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander

Toyota’s expansive portfolio of commodious SUVs is about to grow again, as production prepares to commence in Princeton, Indiana, on the 2024 Grand Highlander. The midsize SUV will provide buyers with three powertrain choices, including two hybrids, along with a third row of seats that Toyota assures will fit adults. Available technological goodies will include an array of assists such as Traffic Jam Assist, Heads-Up Display and a Digital Rearview Mirror.

Toyota intends to offer three powertrain combinations across three Grand Highlander trim levels, with AWD optional across the board. Engine choices begin with a 2.4-liter petroleum engine with 265 horsepower, a 2.5-liter hybrid rated at 245 horsepower and the Hybrid MAX powertrain that generates 362 horsepower, along with a 5,000-pound towing capacity. Deliveries will start getting underway this summer.

N Vision 74 concept unveiled by Hyundai

Concept cars used to be the delights of auto shows and to a great degree, they still are. Hyundai picked a prestigious outdoor gathering, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este at Lake Como in Italy, for last week’s rollout of its latest design study, known as the N Vision 74. It’s a rolling laboratory for Hyundai technology now under active development, led by the N Vision 74’s use of hydrogen fuel cell hybrid architecture, which essentially combines the attributes of an electric motor with Hyundai’s hydrogen fuel-cell system, which the manufacturer says will only require a five-minute recharge time, which handily beats any conventional EV’s recharging capability.

The concept car is a continuation of Hyundai’s N Line performance brand, and it’s equipped accordingly. The styling evokes the appearance of the very first Hyundai design study, the Pony Coupe Concept that was penned by the esteemed Giorgetto Giugiaro back in 1974.

More power, Trailhunter package for 2024 Tacoma

Toyota made a splash – literally – by choosing the big island of Hawaii as the location for introducing its 2024 lineup of Tacoma midsize pickups, the world’s best-selling truck in that size category over the past 18 years. The fourth-generation Tacoma is totally new and rides on Toyota’s TNGA-F global light-truck platform, with an all-independent multilink rear suspension newly being offered. A new model joining the 2024 lineup is the Trailhunter, a Toyota-developed overlanding rig with integrated off-roading accessories from Old Man Emu, ARB and RIGID.

The new Tacoma will offer regular ICE power plus a more potent hybrid system that has earned Toyota’s “Beyond Zero” distinction for ultra-low emissions. The standard i-FORCE engine is a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder unit that produces 278 horsepower and 317-lbs.ft. of torque. Stepping up to the 2.4-liter i-FORCE MAX hybrid system boosts horsepower to 326, with 465-lbs.ft. of torque.

Pricing set for Nissan’s wild, screaming GT-R

With all due respect to the 370Z, people who are really looking for ultra performance from Nissan know that the procedure is to order a copy of its limited-production, thunderously powerful GT-R coupes, a performance piece that can stand strongly aside the very best GTs that Europe, American and, yes, Japan can offer. For 2024, all three versions of the GT-R have new front and rear fascias that Nissan says provide added downforce and reduced drag, just the kind of aerodynamic efficiency you’ll want for a track day or anything else.

Offered in two exclusive colors, the GT-R range starts out with a 2024 base price of $120,990 for the GT-R Premium and $140,990 for the GT-R T-spec, both of which boast 565 standard turbocharged horsepower. Going all the way to the GT-R NISMO, which is rated at a full 600 horsepower, will begin at $220,900. These are seriously limited-production cars that will only be sold through select Nissan dealerships, so start doing your homework early.

IMPA honors for Crankshaft’s story on Tucker 1044’s restoration

I’ve received journalism awards throughout my career, I say gratefully, but I was profoundly stunned to learn yesterday that my story for Crankshaft‘s first issue on the restoration of 1948 Tucker number 1044 has been selected as winner of the Ken W. Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism from the International Motor Press Asssociation. It was the first time the award, which has honored the very best in automotive writing since 1972, has been presented in three years. The award is named in memory of Purdy, arguably the finest journalist ever to put word to paper about automobiles. This is the most important accolade I’ve ever captured.

“Preston’s Prodigy” tells the story about the rush to complete this Tucker to show quality under crushing time pressure to get it ready for display at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2018. This impossible job was successfully completed by the artisans at Ida Automotive in Morganville, New Jersey, with direct participation in the project by the descendants of Preston Tucker, making it the only Tucker so restored. Sincere thanks to Rob Ida and Sean Tucker for attending the award ceremony in New York, and to Howard Kroplick for commissioning the work and seeing it through to a glorious conclusion. I’d like to say, right here, that I’ve been a working journalist since 1979 and have always been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who cared about my work and tried to improve it, no matter which publication I worked for over the years. It’s a big group of good people, and I’m sincerely grateful to them all.

Two engine choices for all-new 2024 Ford Ranger

Ford has been a player in the small-truck market for decades, following a path that saw the captive-import Courier pickup of the 1970s evolve all the way into today’s Ford Ranger, which occupies a deep ledge in the North America market for midsize trucks. The Ranger has undergone a total re-imagination for 2024, with a host of big-truck extras now being extended to the Ranger line, including Ford’s AI-operated Pro Trailer Backup Assist, and an available step integrated into the side of the bed for improved load access.

Efficient storage space is a big part of what the 2024 Ranger is all about, with an available wireless charger for mobile devices, an oversize center console, oversize door bins and a second storage area located above the glove compartment. The standard Ranger engine is Ford’s 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost, with four cylinders and 270 horsepower. Optionally available will be the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 that’s already offered in the F-150 and Bronco, rated by the manufacturer at 315 horsepower.

An Acura caboose takes part in One Lap of America run

Right now, one of the country’s best-known and most historic participant automotive events is underway, the Tire Rack One Lap of America presented by Grassroots Motorsport magazine, a weeklong rush that can trace its roots to Brock Yates’ famed Cannonball events of the 1970s. Now managed by his son, Brock Jr., One Lap has secured an unusual entrant – heck, every One Lap participant is iconoclastic – in the form of an Acura NSX Type S mid-engine roadster towing a support trailer fabricated from the rear half of another NSX.

How come? The “one-and-a-half” NSX Type S is simply Acura’s way of being prepared during the challenging cross-country contest. The trailer portion is actually a pull-along utility rig that’s been packed with spare tires, spare parts, tools and other goodies to correct anything that goes awry on the road. And being a Type S, that means this Acura supercar doing the towing is an electrified vehicle, and nearly stock except for ultra-performance Falken tires on its lightened wheels.