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If You Wanted To Buy A Ford Mustang Mach-E Anytime Soon: Too Bad

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Mercedes is building the EQS SUV in Alabama, The Learjet is dead, a specialist firm reworks the big Healey. All this on today’s issue of The Morning Dump.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If you’re morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

 

Stop, Drop, Shut ‘Em Down, Open Up Shop

Ford Mustang Mach E GT pulling a drift
Photo credit: Ford

To say that Ford’s Mustang Mach-E electric crossover has been a success is a bit like saying Pompeii was a bit of a natural event. Like the Ford Maverick, the Mustang Mach-E is now officially sold out for the 2022 model year so Ford can use the whole Cuautitlan, Mexico plant to build up to 200,000 Mach-Es per year.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Ford closed the order bank for the 2022 Mustang Mach-E this week because it simply can’t keep up with demand. Sales of existing 2022 Mustang Mach-Es will continue until dealer stock is exhausted, with the order bank for the 2023 model reportedly opening up later this year. Start of 2023 model year production is expected this fall, with units arriving at dealers early next year. If you happen to be in the market for a Mustang Mach-E, you might want to hustle to the dealer posthaste. Otherwise, you could be waiting a while. Surprisingly, the shortage of Mach-Es is largely due to capacity limitations rather than supplier shortages. Ford had initially planned on building another electric car alongside the Mach-E, but demand is so strong that the other electric car will have to be built in a different plant. Honestly, if you’re making cars in 2022 and your only problem is insufficient factory capacity, you’re doing something right.

 

Big Body, Big Benz

Mercedes-Benz has officially pulled the wraps off of its EQS SUV and the car is pretty much what everyone expected. Three rows of seats on the EQS electric luxury sedan’s platform, sharing that vehicle’s dashboard, wheelbase and powertrain range. It looks exceedingly generic, with neither the visual elegance of a Volvo XC90 nor the striking details of a Hyundai Tucson. The interior features many screens surrounded by a common black bezel and covered by a single sheet of glass, designed exclusively to pick up more fingerprints than a public washroom’s door handle. Look, I know that Mercedes has tried to do its thing with technology and aerodynamic design, but I just know in my mind that, at least when it comes to looks, the upcoming electric Range Rover is going to slaughter this thing.

However, the EQS SUV isn’t completely uninteresting. Instead of being built in a land that uses wonderful words like Gemütlichkeit and Kummerspeck, it’s built in the hometown of people like Otis Davis, Deontay Wilder and Dinah Washington – Tuscaloosa, Alabama. That’s right, the flagship EQS SUV is Mercedes-Benz’s only EQ-series electric vehicle to be built exclusively outside of Europe. Kind of a big deal, yeah? So why is the EQS SUV built in Tuscaloosa? Well, the Mercedes plant in Tuscaloosa has been cranking out SUVs for over a quarter of a century now, so it has the capacity for some truly large vehicles.

Of course, it helps that batteries for the EQS SUV come from nearby Bibb county, and that the whole thing is screwed together with the American market in mind. These are sound reasons for American production, especially considering Mercedes-Benz’s advanced production techniques. See, the EQS SUV isn’t built on a separate line from every other Mercedes-Benz SUV made in Tuscaloosa. Instead, adaptable robots and skilled humans can screw together an EQS SUV right after screwing together a Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600. Even the powertrain mating robots can raise a battery pack right after lifting a V8 into place. Brilliant stuff.

Of course, if you want to make a statement and don’t need a third row, the BMW iX is available now. If you prefer something more stately and wouldn’t mind extensively driving an Evoque service loaner, the electric Range Rover is on its way for 2024. However, if you’re in the market or a posh three-row electric SUV that looks a bit boring but likely won’t break all the time, the Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV is expected to go on sale in America this fall with worldwide deliveries at a slightly later date. Expect EPA range numbers to drop closer to the third quarter. Pricing for the EQS SUV hasn’t been announced, but don’t expect it to be a bargain.

The King Is Dead

A photograph of the last ever Learjet
Photo credit: Bombardier

It’s official, no more Learjets. It looks like the world’s wealthiest people may have to settle for a Gulfstream G700. We have an in-depth look at Learjet from Jason Torchinsky that went up earlier today, but here’s the headline of the moment: Northern Jet management took delivery of the last ever Learjet on March 28, marking an end to the marque’s 59-year history of building private jets.

Ah, the private jet. The perfect vehicle for anyone with far more money than time. Visions of rockstars and plutocrats of the world flying their Learjets to business meetings in Dallas or family time in The Hamptons dance around my head whenever someone mentions the name Learjet. James Brown had one, as did Frank Sinatra. The Learjet stood as a cultural aspiration. In a jet-setting, Hollywood-focused culture, who wouldn’t want to be sipping champagne at 51,000 feet? Noted philosopher Chad Kroger commented on this trend of conspicuous consumption in 2006, saying: “We all just wanna be big rockstars and live in hilltop houses, driving 15 cars.” Quite right, Chad. In any case, this does make for a slightly sad ending to the Learjet story. It’s going out not with a bang, but with a whimper. Still, the Learjet should remain a cultural icon for many years to come.

Everybody Wants To Rule The World

A front three-quarter shot of the Healey By Caton
Screenshot: Caton

In 1985, Tears for Fears released a music video featuring a young Curt Smith piloting an Austin-Healey 3000 around Southern California, intertwined with shots of off-road trikes and a studio performance. Everybody Wants To Rule The World was a high water mark of ‘80s pop music cool, forever cementing the big Healey’s legacy in the minds of Generation X. Truthfully, the Austin-Healey 3000 wasn’t much different from the earlier 100-6, itself a sleeker long-wheelbase evolution of the four-cylinder Austin-Healey 100. Truthfully, it feels a touch overdue for an enhanced, Singerized version of the big Healey, so you can imagine my glee when I heard that Caton has stepped up to the plate.

Who’s Caton? They’re a new British company from the people behind the Jaguar XKSS recreation that plans on restomodding everything, not just vehicles. I’m glad I know who to hit up if I ever become a millionaire and want to retrofit Lincoln’s seat massage into an Eames chair. Still, their first major project is based on the Healey 100, and what a gorgeous thing it is. The original car’s four-cylinder engine has been punched out to three liters and thoroughly reworked to produce 185 brake horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. Rapid stuff in a car weighing only 920 kg. A new five-speed gearbox adds civility and flexibility while requiring a narrower central tunnel. That narrower tunnel combined with a special pedal box and bespoke seats means that the Healey by Caton can actually accommodate six-foot-tall drivers, an important thing in the modern age.

Elsewhere, the body has been refined with shaved bumpers and panels reworked over an English wheel for a seamless look. A new semi-frameless double-bubble windscreen and reworked gauges subtly take the car into the 21st century. The reworked suspension features some hectic camber up front and reworked dampers out back for an authentic yet improved chassis setup, while Bridge of Weir leather offers that classic aromatic old car smell. Perhaps more important than what’s on the Healey by Caton is what isn’t. There’s no roof, no stereo, no power steering. The steering wheel is still wood-rimmed, fuel is still sent through carburetors, the tires are still reasonably skinny and the front dampers are still an old-school lever design. The Healey by Caton still appears to capture all the authenticity of a vintage British sports car. Of course, vast improvements and impressive authenticity don’t come cheap. Top Gear reports that pricing starts at £395,000, or just over $513,000 at the time of writing. As such, only 25 of these upgraded big Healeys will be made. To paraphrase another Gen X pop culture icon, if you have the means…

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. If you could give the tasteful, money-no-object restomod treatment to any classic car, what would it be? Personally, I’d put the 333-horsepower S54B32 inline-six and six-speed manual gearbox from an E46 BMW M3 in a BMW E9 coupe from the early ‘70s. Rework the suspension, add some period-correct Recaro seats, a wood steering wheel, decently strong headlights and a discrete hi-fi system, and paint it Fjord Blue. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I feel like I’d absolutely adore it. I’d love to hear your picks and hypothetical plans in the comments.

Lead photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

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33 Responses

    1. … so you mean an AMC Gremlin Randall 401XR.

      “Wait, what?”

      Yeah. AMC Gremlin Randall 401XR. As in 401 cubic inches. From the factory, mostly. Randall AMC in Arizona got AMC to greenlight converting 304ci Gremlins to 401ci’s and Kenosha very gladly supplied the service blocks to do so.
      Said Gremlins were not ‘quick for the time.’ They are quick, period. Dead stock they ran a 13.9 quarter mile, and for less than $2000 that’s-adjusted-for-inflation bucks, turned 12.22’s on crap bias ply radials in the early 1970’s.
      Yes. They’re at least as fast as, if not faster than a brand new Challenger SRT Hellcat.

      1. I knew a couple of brothers whose father was a silent partner in the local Canadian AMC dealership back in the day. The boys rocked Gremlin Xs with the 401 under the hood, while the daughters got regular Gremmies with the big 258 six cylinder motors. Manual transmissions in all of them. I don’t know how the 401s got built; maybe they were shipped through Arizona at the time.

        1. I would bet you the 401’s were built using what’re called “Service Blocks.” Which is a special, unique to AMC thing. These days, they’re rarer than hen’s teeth. The fact that I even KNOW where 2 unused ones are is no small miracle. And they’re special things.

          Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, every manufacturer had a dozen plus engines they were casting. GM alone had three or four unique and completely incompatible castings for a 350cid V8 engine alone. Nevermind the Cadillac 472cid and 502cid, the 455cid which wasn’t the BOP 455cid, the Oldsmobile 403cid, all of which couldn’t even manage air cleaner interchange.

          AMC, being a small manufacturer with little budget, could not afford to develop 37 different engines. They did their first clean-sheet V8 in 1956, and stuck to a ‘one common block, multiple displacements’ strategy. This saved a lot of money, because it required fewer castings for more possible configurations. Which continued with the totally redesigned Gen2.
          Then in 1970 they introduced the the Gen-3 AKA tall-deck. Followed shortly by the frantic scramble to meet emissions shortly thereafter, making the larger displacements an “oh shit” moment. They now had a 304, 360, and 401. But they also still had a factory racing program to support, and they also were leaning very heavily into warranties and presenting their cars as both fuel efficient and reliable. (The 258 gave us the 4.0. Reliable was an understatement. And you wouldn’t have a 3/36 without AMC introducing the first 1yr/12k warranty in 1972.)
          At the same time, AMC made two very important decisions. Decision 1: “fuck that, we’re still going racing. Go call Mark Donohue right now.” Decision 2: “if we’re going to offer this kind of warranty, we need to reduce costs by making the expensive parts common!”

          Enter the Service Block.

          The AMC Service Block was exactly what it said on the tin: a bare engine block for servicing Gen2 343-401’s and every Gen3 AMC V8. Not “some,” not “most,” literally every single AMC Gen3 ever made from the most fuel efficient 304cid to top fuel dragsters. The Service Block was a modified 401 casting which came with the 360/401 journals, a thicker deck, stronger webbing, provisions for 4-bolt mains, and improved oiling. This also solved their racing homologation problems, because the Service Block was officially an AMC factory part. No homologation special necessary! What? Of course it’s not unnecessarily different from the normal blocks!

          And since it was a factory service part, dealers could stock up to two at a time for warranty service (or direct sale to customers.) Some dealers in turn, took these bare, un-machined blocks and did ‘warranty replacements’ after boring them out to 401 or sometimes even more – it can be bored an additional 030 over and can handle more stroke. If you’re going to build a big power AMC, you need a Service Block.
          Or if you’re going to take a Gremlin X, say it needed warranty replacement because – uh, the rod just spontaneously broke, honest – and turn it into a 401 without AMC officially endorsing such a nefarious fuel-wasting car. (What, they’re supposed to actually check what the dealers are doing with Service Blocks on their shelves?) If you could find an agreeable dealer and enough cash in the wallet, sky was the limit. And finding an agreeable dealer usually wasn’t hard.

          I’d bet you that those Gremlin X’s were Service Block specials with some Group 19 flavor. The Gremlin X was equipped with the Borg-Warner T14 3-speed, which couldn’t handle the 401 reliably. The T150 wasn’t introduced until 1976, after the 304ci option was cancelled. But AMC was campaigning Gremlins in Pro-Stock packing 401’s with a Group 19 homologated 4spd in 1972 – that’s where the Gremlin XR actually came from. So I would bet Service Block, plus the Pro-Stock transmission, but without the 5.00 rear axle. (Yes, they really would sell you that insane a rear end.)

  1. I think Corvairs are a perfect high-end restomod candidate. Do it in a way that absolutely rules out any potential “unsafe at any speed” shouting from the nosebleed section, and all of a sudden you’ve got a technologically modern rear-engine, RWD American coupe. But only restomod early model Corvairs. My dream, my rules.

    Also, fyi Thomas, both image links to the E46 and E9 are breaking for me on Chrome. Not sure if that’s a problem on my end or y’alls.

  2. Your Nickelback reference just threw me straight back to highschool. And almost made me throw up. Gosh they were so bad…

    Anyway, pallet cleanser: I would absolutely restomod an S30. Sure, 240 restomods have been done so many times by now that it’s almost cliche, but they are just so timelessly classy that I would gladly bring another one into the world. And then drive it every day.

        1. Their main problem was that they were lame.
          I saw them as part of a quadruple-header act one summer (my new girlfriend at the time, now my wife, bought us tickets. She didn’t know any better and there were other benefits, so I went). They were, by far, the worst of the four bands, and one of them was 3 Doors Down. They played a cover of some Metallica song (which one I can’t remember, but its a fairly difficult song to play. I used to play guitar in rock bands, so take my word for it). Prior to playing it, the singer went on and on about how much they idolized them and wanted to be them. They stopped playing the song right before they got to the hard part and transitioned into one of their own songs instead. Capitol-L Lame. The crowd wasn’t paying them enough attention, so they had to tell everyone when to cheer and do the devil-horns hand gesture. Super Lame.
          Ugh. They were awful.

        2. I think the backlash began because they released both How to Remind Me and Sometimes as singles and it is basically impossible to tell them apart.

          Also Photograph is a terrible song.

          But otherwise there are worse bands.

  3. This is late because David’s out obsessing over another death-trap ‘holy grail’ thanks to that check, isn’t it?

    As for restomod with no budget limitations? I have my plans. But getting Mitsubishi to build a direct injection version of the 6A12 MIVEC is but a pipe dream even with unlimited budget, I fear.

  4. “However, the EQS SUV isn’t completely uninteresting. Instead of being built in a land that uses wonderful words like Gemütlichkeit and Kummerspeck, it’s built in the hometown of people like Otis Davis, Deontay Wilder and Dinah Washington – Tuscaloosa, Alabama”

    I think something like a Choctaw reference would have been much classier here.

  5. In the early ’00s I had the transparently horrible idea of putting a Northstar in the back of a Cimarron to create a completely absurd Renault 5 Turbo-esque disaster machine.

    Somehow knowing about the Northstar’s many problems makes me want to do it… more?

    For ideas that aren’t stupid I’d really like to take a ’63 Rambler Classic and put some kind of modern powertrain in it, maybe even EV. We had one in the family and I was the only one of my brothers who didn’t have it as his first car, so it’d be fun to show up with the best Rambler.

  6. I desperately want an e30 wagon with an e30 M3 drivetrain swap. Ideally, I’d figure a way to sway the wiring harness from a US Spec sedan so I could have rear power windows. It would have to be painted in Boston Green, because the world needs more green cars and Boston Green is among the best shades of green. Absolutely no grafting of M3 fender flares allowed. The interior would be black, with the oft overlooked trademark black headliner in all M cars. Wheels would be BBS RS’s with flat red center caps. Think OE+ e30 M3 wagon, with slight updates.

    I already have the drivetrain…I need an e30 wagon body, money, time, and definitely some more skill…or money…and a pile of parts.

  7. “I just know in my mind that, at least when it comes to looks, the upcoming electric Range Rover is going to slaughter this thing.”

    Is anyone in their right mind going to buy an ELECTRIC LAND ROVER?

    Yes come buy an EV from a car company that is known for electrical bugs and gremlins in their ICE vehicles. I’ve heard stories of new Defenders on the lot having issues with their power windows on test drives, with the salesman just acknowledging it as something that happens.

  8. Restomod 914 please. I had a girlfriend who owned one and she hated the heavy clutch so I got to drive it a lot. They looked cool, handled well and had enough room to be comfortable.

    I’d love one with modern water cooled running gear, a/c and tasteful body mods. It won’t need much once the ugly US bumpers are restyled.

  9. Merely selling out a production run does not a success make. I cannot think of a car I am anticipating less than the E-Mustang. Seriously. It’s hideous. Call it what it looks like: a large toad. Not a horse of any variety.

  10. I’d love almost anything from the 20s-40s with a modern (maybe EV?) drivetrain and brakes that you don’t need to put your full weight onto before you start slowing down, haha!
    I also wouldn’t say no to an old Morgan, but you don’t exactly need to restomod one, when they’re still making new ones 😀

    1. I agree wholeheartedly, but my target of choice would be a Cord 810/812. Either in Amelia’s Canary Yellow, or the deep aubergine you can see at the Cord/Auburn museum in Indiana.

      I’ve been daydreaming about a proper kit car copy of one for years. There used be a company in Florida that made the fiberglass bodies and frames, but they’ve since gone under. An EV kit car that looked like that with performance numbers to back it up would be indescribable to me. I’d probably live out of it. Or at least, live in my garage so I could look at it all the time.

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