Wheels April 2019

Wheels is Australia’s original motoring magazine. Launched in 1953, we’ve been trusted by generations of Australians to provide entertaining and forthright opinions on the good, the bad and the ugly of new and used cars. A world-class car mag with a formidable international reputation, Wheels covers the full gamut of cars – from sports cars to four-wheel-drives, economy to family cars – but it also covers the people, personalities and the power plays behind one of the world’s most dynamic industries.

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in this issue

3 min

ASIDE FROM THE fact that it’s hung, rather precariously, from the roof of a man cave tucked behind a strawberry farm in Cobram, Victoria, the twisted and demented XY body doesn’t look much different to every other clapped-out, rusted-through car carcass you’ve ever seen. You could easily write it off as junk; a forgettable wreck with faded yellow paint and chipped black pinstripes. Until, that is, you read the sign that’s leant, almost apologetically, against the row of tightly stacked motorbikes parked below. “This is the remains of the HO Down the Hume” it decrees. That piqued our interest, too. Few cars wield such significance in Australian motoring folklore as the Phase III, and even fewer still have the gravitas of the one driven down the Hume, at 141.5mph, by Wheels deputy editor Mel…

3 min
super scoop! 2022 ford ranger

HERE IT IS, the 2022 Ford Ranger, nearly three years out from launch. Spied on route somewhere in an outer Melbourne suburb, this is a full-sized clay mock-up of the future medium-sized Ford dual-cab ute, providing the best images yet as to what the next-generation Ranger will look like when the production version’s covers come off sometime in late 2021 or early 2022. With Ford Australia flatly refusing to comment on these extraordinary images, Wheels published these pictures online, suggesting that the mystery ute was either the reskinned Ranger, or a copycat styling exercise from a rival carmaker keen to cash on the one-tonner’s worldwide success. However, as our story spread globally, events took an unforeseen turn when American website Jalopnik (that also ran our pics) was sent an email on behalf…

1 min
super scoop

Back in 1985, editor Peter Robinson published pictures of the 1988 EA Falcon – nearly three years out from launch and at a time when the XF was our bestselling car. Just as incredibly, though identical to the production EA, the pictures were buried on page 35 of American magazine Car & Driver, as the Yanks believed they were of a car just weeks away from launch! Evidently leaked deeply within Ford, the images were meant for Ford top brass eyes only, and remain one of our all-time greatest scoops.…

3 min
more cogs, same muscle

JUST WHEN you thought the HSV-badged Chevrolet Camaro couldn’t be any more tempting to the grunt-loving, old-school enthusiast, the even more attractive 2019 2SS model has been launched, and will offer a manly manual gearbox. The six-speeder will become the standard transmission, yours for the slightly higher starting price of $86,990 (up $1000), while a 10-speed auto – replacing the current car’s eight-speed unit – will be the option for left-leg-lazy buyers, at a $2200 premium. The manual comes with both rev-matching and hill-hold, although purists will snort with derision at the idea of using either, while the auto offers the bonuses of a customisable launch-control program, and a slightly contentious line-lock feature. Beloved of drag-strip diehards, line-lock allows you to hold your Camaro stationary while you spin up the rear wheels with…

4 min
sounds like a broken record

RING RECORDS have become such a common part of car parlance that we tend to take for granted the enormous amount of expense, and risk to life and limb, that goes into setting them, all so that car companies can trumpet them on the interwebs. It’s all good PR, of course, but consider – as the car companies and the owners of the Nurburgring have to – what would happen if a record attempt went wrong; what a PR disaster a fiery fatal crash would be. With drivers at their limit on such a brutal, unforgiving track, the risk is very real. Being the fastest is, of course, about more than clicks and shares, as Porsche chassis expert Ulrich Morbitzer admits. “My personal answer is that, in terms of chassis, you need to…

1 min
30 secs the geneva show, in brief

4m40s The 80% charge time claimed for the Piech Zero EV sports coupe (above.) The PR flacks spruik a breakthrough in battery tech that doesn’t overheat when power-cycled but nobody would verify what voltage was required to charge at this phenomenal rate. With great claims come a great burden of proof... ASTON GOES ALL-IN Even in an expo as supercar-heavy as this year, Aston Martin comprehensively stole the show. Its triple unveil of the Valkyrie hypercar, the AM-RB 003 (the V6 ‘son of Valkyrie’) and the Vanquish Vision concept (pictured) – a mid-engined supercar to go head to head with the McLaren 720S and Ferrari F8 Tributo – was backed up by Lagonda’s All-Terrain concept SUV. That’s without the Aston DBX SUV that chassis guru Matt Becker claims will more engaging than a…