Such a Tease

GTO Engineering working on a new car codenamed 'Moderna'

The new car will be customizable.

Photo courtesy of GTO Engineering

GTO Engineering is working on a new project vehicle, codenamed "Moderna". The automaker has already let a few details about the fresh model slip out.

The new car will be a sub-1,000-kilogram (2,204-pound) model that celebrates "the best of the Sixties". It will include modern and motorsport-derived engineering and will be created by hand under the GTO Engineering name.

With the car, GTO Engineering looks to "push the boundaries of modern craftsmanship, with new materials and using the learnings the team has had building and maintaining a range of road- and race-oriented Ferraris since 1991."

GTO Engineering Moderna The rear of the car blends vintage GTO design with modern Rolls-Royce aesthetics.Photo courtesy of GTO Engineering

Though it has an eye to the past, the new car will be "highly innovative" and feature a tubular steel chassis with a lightweight, high-strength aluminum subframe. Carbon fiber will be used for the car's shell - a first for the company - and be made of F1-type spec carbon fibers. The car's doors and hood will be made of aluminum.

Its double bubble roof and functional venting on the hood and arches help the car maintain its vintage character. while the front headlights and spotlights, rear lights ,and exhausts are modernized with updated electrics and internals.

The engineering team promises that the car will have an independent all-around suspension, large diameter wheels, and lightweight brakes.

"It's exciting to finally talk about our new project – a car that we've been discussing, sketching, specifying and honing for some time. Now it's in development and we're working alongside some incredible technical partners, we're ready to lift the cover off the design renderings and initial sketches and explain the fundamentals of what makes this new car tick," said GTO Engineering Managing Director Mark Lyon.

"We've learnt from building the 250 SWB Revival, and working on a range of Ferraris, that a car's weight and engine are two of the key ingredients to make a good sports car. So, we knew that this car should be under a tonne and powered by a quad-cam V12 – an engine format we are familiar with and developing in-house.

"To accomplish the desired light weight, carbon fibre will be used, which obviously wasn't available in the Sixties but a composite we will utilise alongside other materials. For example, the doors and bonnet feel and 'weight' when you open them, was something we knew we wanted to keep and that's why they'll be made in aluminum – they'll be lightweight but still give that 'reassuring' close and feel of a classic when the driver or passenger gets in and out, as well as opening and closing the bonnet."

Each model will be personal and customizable to the owner, including paint, trim and accessory options offered, alongside the option to adjust major components such as suspension and gearbox changes.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Little Sesame's Volkswagen Bus allows the restaurant's chefs to travel the country in search of new flavors.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Holiday shoppers this year, once again, have shopping small on the mind. For some businesses, their idea of small is smaller than most. From a hummus shop to a coffee shop, to a mobile bookstore, many small business owners rely on vintage Volkswagen products to help their businesses run.

Little Sesame

Little Sesame Volkswagen Bus

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

In 2015, chefs Nick Wiseman and Ronen Tenne opened their hummus shop in Washington, D.C. They didn't just want another restaurant, they wanted to create a different way of doing business than they'd experienced in some of the New York City area kitchens they'd cooked in over the years. They wanted travel.

In order to inspire new flavors , Wiseman and Tenne hop into their robin's egg blue 1978 Volkswagen Bus and explore the country. Their current Bowl of the Week brings in autumn and wintertime flavors with ingredients like maple roasted winter squash, pomegranate molasses, crispy chickpeas, za'ata, and herbs.

The restaurant, with locations in the Golden Triangle and Chinatown, is currently open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They offer catering and meal kits as well as online ordering for pickup and delivery.

Dom's Coffee

In Farmington Valley, Connecticut, a European-style coffee shop sits on a strip of real estate next to buildings similar to what you'd find in nearly anyone's hometown - a car dealership and a church. The brick-and-mortar shop was opened by Andrius Plankis and Asta Plankiene in May 2015, two years after the couple emigrated to the U.S. from Lithuania.

In addition to their shop, they run a fully-equipped mobile espresso bar out of the back of a Volkswagen Atlas R-Line. Their specialty is artistically crafted drinks including espressos, affogatos, specialty lattes, cold brews, and hot chocolates.

The Cincy Book Bus

The Cincy Book Bus

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

After retiring from 25 years of teaching, Melanie Moore decided it was time to pursue her dream: opening a bookstore. But she didn't just want to own the shop around the corner, she wanted to have a business that would work to get books into the hands of children that need them the most. Just as she was about to sign a lease for a storefront, she got cold feet.

Inspired by a novel centered around a fictional, female horse-drawn carriage bookseller, Moore decided to launch the Cincy Book Bus – a mobile bookstore – out of the bed of her husband's teal 1962 Volkswagen Transporter. The van holds about 150 books, and Moore regularly rotates titles to cater to her audiences.

Moore dedicates her profits to stocking classroom libraries.

While these three businesses are small, three large corporations (including Nike) were founded from humble beginnings thanks in no small part to their Volkswagens. Click here to read their stories.

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The Enclave Avenir is the top-of-the-line trim level of the SUV for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Buick

Some people are extremely adventurous eaters. I joke that the only food I won't eat is bugs that look like bugs. I'll do Indian, Thai, Korean and Ethiopian, sweetbreads, frog legs and endless servings of sushi. French Laundry. Cut. Alinea.

Others are into tamer fare: vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles, grilled cheese (with Kraft American Singles) on Wonder bread, steak with ketchup. Cracker Barrel. Dairy Queen. Olive Garden, if you're feeling fancy.

Though the fancy food folks might look down on the Red Lobster-crowd, if you're a carmaker looking to sell big SUVs in Peoria, you best remember they exist — and what sorts of stuff they're into. Culinary adventures are all about trying new and exciting things, which not everyone likes.

2020 Buick Enclave Avenir The model is elegant, especially in the high-end Avenir grade.Photo courtesy of Buick

Some people — a lot of them, actually — are thrilled with unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks. And for them, GM has come up with the Buick Enclave Avenir, the Olive Garden of seven-passenger premium SUVs.

Though Buick might not carry the brand cachet of Volvo or Acura or it's up-market sibling Cadillac, the marque's SUVs (that's all it makes now, sadly) are remarkably popular. The Enclave is the three-rowed big boy, and the Avenir is the top-tier premium trim level. My test unit landed at $59,390 including the Avenir Technology Package which includes adaptive cruise control and improved automatic emergency braking. It's 2020. Both of those should be standard GM. Come on now.

It feels almost like a minivan but with the look of an SUV. Entry and exit is easy and the front and rear captain's chairs are supremely comfortable. The Technology Package adds an improved suspension which is gentle on aging backs and keeps things nicely stable. There are two sunroofs, one in the front that opens and one in the back that does not.

The 20-inch rims are sharp and, while the Enclave does not have the most exciting design in the world, it is inoffensive and soothing. It would look good in grandma's driveway on Thanksgiving Day.

2020 Buick Enclave Avenir The Enclave has a good amount of cargo space at the rear.Photo courtesy of Buick

The Buick infotainment system is excellent, with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot from AT&T and GM's unmatched OnStar service. The hotspot means that the litany of iPads and iPhones from the passengers in the back (and front) seats will always be able to connect and OnStar means if anything goes wrong, help is just a button press away — unless the air bags deploy, in which case help calls you instead. The Bose Premium audio system does its job well, with active noise cancellation and something called "Buick QuietTuning" to keep outside noise where it belongs.

The front seats are heated and ventilated, and both include a massage function which is a gift from the road trip gods. In my version, the second row seats were heated, but no cooling. The touch surfaces are all lovely and the cabin is light and airy thanks to large windows and those dual sunroofs. Visibility is excellent, and there's a 360-degree camera system to help you park in tight spaces.

The 3.6-liter V6 makes 310 horsepower but stays out of the way, as does the 9-speed automatic transmission. The Buick gearshift is mildly annoying to get used to, but after a week or two, you won't notice it anymore. There are a host of safety features, including rear cross traffic alert, lane-keep assist, and blind-spot warning with alert feature if you're going to move into another car on the interstate. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 20 mpg combined.

There's a remote start system, which is great for both hot and cold days, a power liftgate at the back, and a split power-folding 60/40 third row if you want to haul more stuff than people. It'll even tow up to 5,000 pounds if you want to haul a camper or small boat. But an off-roader this isn't. It's an unpretentious people and stuff hauler that won't draw too much attention to itself.

Unpretentious is probably a fair description for most Buick buyers. They don't need to show off. They just value comfort and roominess and want a car that will take care of them.

That's the Buick Enclave Avenir.

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