Long Form

Still Rolling: Swedish and the Bandit

This Trans Am was imported to Germany from the U.S. before it was shipped to Sweden.

Photo courtesy of Julia Eliasson

Across the Atlantic a Phoenix rose. A gold firebird dressed the hood of a 1977 black Trans Am T/A as it left the shores of North Carolina on its international voyage in the twilight years of the 1970s. It arrived in Europe and was transported to Germany.

There, amongst double overhead cams and flat inline fours, the Trans Am was used as a display piece in a General Motors dealership. The car was never driven except when it was being moved for stationing.

It served as an example of automotive power and design of the West. This wasn't a car anymore so much as an art piece designed to provoke thoughts of Levis, Cindy Crawford, and movie lines from "Smokey and the Bandit".

1977 Pontiac Trans Am T/A The Trans Am has had very few modifications.Photo courtesy of Julia Eliasson

That was the car's existence throughout the 1980's until it was bought by a private owner and moved to Sweden in 1992.

New country, same lifestyle. The Trans Am was spared from Scandinavian winters, sitting tucked away in dry garages and storage sheds, becoming a garage collectable despite never to be removed from its box.

It wasn't until the summer of 2018 that the Trans Am saw a new hope. It came in the form of a young woman named Julia Eliasson who would save this Pontiac from a fate of never-ending storage and auction houses.

Julia is a 21-year-old self-described car-girl from South Sweden. She lives in the city of Hassleholm, a town whose population of less than 20,000 has a surprising amount of vintage American cars.

The Trans Am's privileged life allowed it to stay in Barrett Jackson-type condition. The car had been stationary for most of its life to the point that the odometer broke from lack of use. The only modifications done to the car since leaving America are the addition of aftermarket wheels and exhaust system, but Julia has plans on reinstalling its original duel pipes sometime in 2020.

The 1977 Trans Am is Julia's dream car. Right before she bought it, she was prepared to settle for a second-gen Camaro when the listing for this T/A suddenly popped up. The planets aligned in Julia's favor as the owner decided to give her the opportunity to buy the car out of several potential buyers.

1977 Pontiac Trans Am T/A The Trans Am is living its best life, being driven in Swedish summers.Photo courtesy of Julia Eliasson

The Swedish woman's love of American V8's was passed down from her father who has several muscle cars in his high-octane past including a 1970 Chevrolet Nova and 1975 Pontiac Firebird.

Julia's favorite detail on the Trans Am is the CB radio.

Winters take up a lot of months on the Swedish calendar, so Julia only drives the Trans Am in the spring when the sun is out and the countryside beams with vivid shades of green. She takes her screaming chicken to local car shows and car meets around town, something she plans on doing for years to come.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The RBW EV Roadster is based on the MGB Roadster of the 1960s, but all new and complete with an electric powertrain.

Photo courtesy of RBW

Everything old is new again, if the Peter Allen song is to be believed. Certainly it's true in this era of modern electric vehicles, where special attention is being paid to classic cars, retrofitting them with electric powertrains. RBW EV Classic Cars has revealed a pre-production version of the RBW EV Roadster, a model that fits into the spirit of these revised older models.

Inspired by the MGB Roadster of the 1960s, the RBW EV Roadster has a brand-new heritage-style body shell designed by British Motor Heritage.

The RBW System and architecture isn't a one-off. It can be installed into other shells including those from Austin Healey, Jaguar, and Mini.

RBW EV Roadster The RBW EV Roadster is on sale now.Photo courtesy of RBW

Its patented drivetrain system has been three years in the making. To develop it, RBW worked with Continental Engineering Services and Zytek Automotive, both part of Continental AG. Continental AG provides the technology for Formula E race cars.

"Our patented systemplaces the electric motor at the rear of the car and Hyperdrive Innovation's lithium-ion battery technology under the bonnet, which gives perfectly balanced weight distribution," said Peter Swain, managing director, RBW. "Not only does this give the driver much better handling of the car, retaining that sports car feel, but it also affords maximum battery volume to be housed."

The RBW roadster has a bespoke front and rear suspension that utilizes independent coil-over damper technology. There are OEM-developed brake discs and calipers that deliver regenerative braking capability.

RBW touts the maintenance-free usage of the car compared to a true classic. All parts and components installed are brand new. Also unlike a vintage vehicle, the RBW EV Roadster has been designed with modern noise, vibration, and harshness mellowing considerations.

The car isn't a technological relic either. It also has a multi-function dashboard with driver gauges and messages that are featured on an easy-to-use graphic interface. The Pioneer Flagship Wi-Fi-enabled navigation system works in tandem with a 7.0-inch touch screen located at the center of the dashboard. There's an HDMI input so the screen can mirror smartphones, and a SD input, dual USB inputs, and gold-plated RCA connectors.

Its interior has been designed by Prototrim.

RBW has created 30 limited-edition hand-crafted Roadster models. Plans are underway to offer a fixed-head GT version in 2021 as well as another RBW electric vehicle.

Production begins early 2021 with prices starting from £90,000 plus taxes, with an initial £5,000 deposit. Orders are already being taken with RBW taking the car to clients for Covid-safe test drives. For more information visit: www.rbwevcars.com.

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The Nissan Z Proto is the next step in the Z story.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Z Proto has arrived. It's not a production car, it's a promise. A promise by Nissan to launch a new generation of the legendary Z sports car. The model has design elements that harken back to to the Z models of yesteryear that have become iconic waypoints in Nissan history.

Nissan has revealed that the Z Proto is one of the 10 models that the company will be showing for the U.S. in 20 months. The timeline has been adjusted from the original due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other models included as part of the plan are the 2020 Nissan Sentra, 2021 Nissan Rogue, and 2022 Nissan Ariya.

Nissan Z Proto

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

"The United States is home to one of the most devoted and enthusiastic Z communities in the world, with nearly 1.35 million total sales over the model's 50-year history," said Mike Colleran, senior vice president, Nissan U.S. Marketing and Sales. "With new models like Sentra and Rogue opening new eyes to our brand, Z Proto is our loudest statement yet that Nissan will continue to bring vehicles that thrill to U.S. showrooms."

The Z Proto is bathed inn a bright yellow pearlescent paint job - one that is reminiscent of the yellow of the first-generation 240Z and the 300ZX.

At its front are teardrop-shaped LED headlights that have their design roots in the original Z. The Z Proto's rectangular grille is more modern but the design of the grille fins are vintage in origin.

"The LED headlights have two half-circles that hark back to the Japan market-only 240ZG of the 70s," said Alfonso Albaisa, head of design at Nissan. "The ZG has clear dome lenses over the headlight buckets, which under light give off two circular reflections over each headlight. We liked that unique characteristic and discovered that it naturally fit with the Z's identity."

Nissan Z Proto

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

From the side, the Z Proto has a roofline that flows backward like the first-gen Z. It leads to the rear, which takes inspiration from the 300ZX taillights and reinterprets them for a modern world, complete with LED lights. They're set within a rectangular black section that spans the rear of the car and wraps around each outer edge. Below is a dual exhaust.

Side skirts, the front lower lip, and rear valance are made of carbon fiber. The prototype rides on 19-inch alloy wheels. The 2020 370Z also has 19-inch wheels.

The vintage-meets-modern elements continue in the car's cabin where design was focused on achieving a proper balance for road and track. In front of the driver is a 12.3-inch digital display that is arranged to allow to easy data interpretation at speed.

Designed to fit driver and passenger like a glove, the Z Proto's cabin seamlessly blends modern technology with vintage Z touches. A deep dish steering wheel combines modern aesthetics with vintage styling.

Under the prototype's hood is a twin-turbocharged V6 engine that is paired with a six-speed manual transmission. Nissan says that an automatic transmission option is in development. Horsepower and torque figures were not immediately available.

In looking toward the future, Nissan relays, "work is now underway to synchronize the power with the grace and control that has defined the Z for the past 50 years." The current Z has a 3.7-liter V6 engine that achieves 332 horsepower. It comes paired with a standard six-speed manual or available seven-speed automatic transmission.

Compared to the current Z, the Z Proto is five inches longer and two-tenths of an inch wider. The 2020 Nissan 370Z is two-tenths of an inch taller than the Z Proto.

Where do we go from there? Stay tuned.

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