Weekly Recap: An '80s encore in the auto world
Plus: Notes On The F-150 Raptor, Lincoln Continental, Julie Hamp, And Mercedes E-Class
The '80s were alternately cold and corny at times, but their cultural touchstones can still generate big money. That's why Infiniti recreated an iconic scene from National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) for an advertisement that hawks the QX60 crossover. Actor Ethan Embry, who played Rusty Griswold in a later Lampoon's movie, pilots the Infiniti – which is serving as a modern Family Truckster – for a trip to Walley World. A blonde pulls alongside in a red Lamborghini. They flirt, and she drives on. Christie Brinkley, who played the original girl in the red sports car (she drove a Ferrari in the '83 flick), is riding shotgun and chides Embry with: "A blonde. In a convertible. Seriously?"
Okay, it's hardly on the level of "here's looking at you," or even "you can't handle the truth," but it should resonate with '80s babies, many of whom are now having children of their own and moving into three-row SUVs like the QX60. Naturally, Hollywood is going back to the well, too, with a Vacation remake that premiers July 29.
Meanwhile, Ghostbusters is returning next year, and director Paul Feig offered a peak at the new Eco-1 in this tweet. In the 1984 classic, the team drove a modified 1959 Cadillac. Now, it will drive a late '80s Cadillac. As expected, the announcement generated support and controversy from movie and car enthusiasts. His tweet had generated several thousand retweets and favorites in the days following the news. Though the '80s Caddy looks, uh, less elegant in comparison to the now-iconic fins and curves of the original Ecto-1, it's about the same time lapse into the past as the '59 Caddy was to viewers in 1984.
Speaking of 1984, Miami Vice, which debuted that year on NBC, is seeing one of its hero cars hit the auction block, Mecum Auctions announced this week. The 1986 Ferrari used on the show will be offered for sale Aug. 15 during Monterey classic car week. The white supercar runs a 390-hp flat 12-cylinder engine paired with a five-speed manual transmission and was in storage after the show ended in 1989 until earlier this year. It has 16,124 miles on the odometer and is authenticated by Ferrari North America and Classiche.
Underscoring the '80s encore that was early July, Tetris video game 'discoverer' Henk Rogers was in the news for his solar-powered home in Hawaii that creates all of its own energy. He also generates enough power to juice up his two Teslas. Even the Dukes of Hazzard made headlines again in July when reruns of the '80s staple were dropped by TV Land amid the Confederate flag controversy. The Dukes prominently featured an orange 1969 Dodge Charger with the flag on the roof.
OTHER NEWS & NOTES
Former Toyota executive released from jail; Kennedy helps
Former Toyota executive Julie Hamp was released from jail (shown at right) after prosecutors declined to file charges following her June arrest. Authorities said she illegally imported the painkiller Oxycodone into Japan. Though legal with a prescription in the United States, the drug is more tightly restricted in Japan. She had been in custody since mid-June. US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy played a role in Hamp's release, though specifics weren't known. A state department spokesman declined to elaborate, but said at a briefing "she was engaged at some level."
Hamp held the titles of chief communications officer and managing officer, and she was the highest ranking female executive at Toyota. Her departure – months after her promotion was hailed as a landmark for the company – turned into a black eye for Toyota as the company's headquarters were raided in a search for evidence. Shigeru Hayakawa, senior managing officer and board member, took over Hamp's duties as communications chief.
Ford continues testing Raptor, Lincoln Continental
As you would expect for two critical vehicles due in 2016, Ford is hard at working testing the F-150 Raptor and the Lincoln Continental. The F-150 Raptor logged 1,028 miles in the desert flogging the truth through trenches, sandy washes, steep inclines, and more. The trucks used were early prototypes with parts from the 2015 F-150 and upcoming Raptor. The next-gen Raptor was revealed in January at the Detroit Auto Show. It will have a new steel frame, 10-speed automatic transmission, Fox Racing Shox with more suspension travel, and a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 with more power than the current Raptor V8's 411-hp output.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the FoMoCo stable, Lincoln continues development of its future flagship, the reborn Continental. It was revealed as a concept this spring at the New York auto show, and spy shooters have now captured it covered in camouflage on the road. The Continental will replace the MKS in Lincoln's lineup and is the brand's most anticipated car in years. We're also getting a clear view of the cabin as engineers test the infotainment system. Though it was called a concept, the car shown in New York is close to how the Continental will look in production. "You can't let it pull yourself back too far in history, but you've got to design a car that lives up to the name," Lincoln president Kumar Galhotra told us at the show. The concept used a 3.0-liter EcoBoost engine, rolled on blinged-out 21-inch wheels, and had seats that could be adjusted 30 ways.
2017 Mercedes E-Class can park itself
Mercedes showed off a slew of technologies for the 2017 E-Class at an event in Germany. Our man Mike Austin got the lowdown, and one of the coolest new items is a remote parking feature that allows you to dock the E-Class from your phone. Called Remote Parking Pilot, the system can move the car nearly 33 feet forward or backward while detecting any obstacles in its path. The app-based feature uses Bluetooth technology, a 360-degree camera, sensors, keyless entry, and naturally, requires an automatic transmission. Sadly, the remote feature won't come to the US market at launch. Mercedes revealed other new tech features for the E-Class, including headlamps with 84 individually activated LEDs, vehicle-to-vehicle communication capability, and an evasive steering assist system.
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