To kick off its new role as the Official Lubricants Supplier of Hendrick Motorsports, Valvoline teamed up with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson earlier this year to introduce the Reinvention Project. The teammates secretly reinvented their own classic Chevrolet trucks with exacting specifications – from engine and oil, to body and paint, to wheels and suspension.
Dale and Jimmie invited fans to take part in the competition by trying to virtually build a truck that was closest to theirs, based on clues the two gave out on social media. Thousands of participants logged on to compete, with the person who came closest to recreating their actual truck winning the grand prize, their very own tricked-out classic Chevrolet truck!
Last month, Valvoline invited us down to Charlotte to get a sneak peek at the two Reinvention Project trucks (including spirited ride-alongs in the trucks), interview the drivers, and participate in an engine build contest with the Hendrick Motorsports crew.
Today, the Reinvention Project trucks were officially unveiled:
Now that the trucks have been revealed to the public, we can finally talk about them:
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.: In a nod to his birth year, Earnhardt Jr. selected a 1974 Chevrolet Cheyenne Super 10 pickup. The top-of-the-line truck came from an owner in Kansas with just 21,000 miles on the odometer. Its 350 V8 engine and 3-speed automatic transmission were upgraded to a Chevy LS3 V8 – a powerful motor – with 480 horsepower and 4-speed automatic transmission, respectively.
The original fiery red-orange paint remained intact, complemented by a custom grille insert. Flat Black American Eagle Boss 338 wheels and Goodyear high performance tires rounded out the overall nostalgic feel of Earnhardt Jr.’s finished truck.
- Jimmie Johnson: Johnson’s 1955 Chevrolet truck is a true original, coming from its first and only owner in Georgia where it served as a trusty farm truck, equipped with a straight 6 cylinder, 3-speed manual transmission. The selection showcases Johnson’s deep appreciation for the styling and lines of early 1950s trucks. Engine upgrades include a Chevy LS3 V8 with 480 horsepower and a rhino-lined engine compartment.
The original navy blue paint was treated with a flat clear coat to highlight the rustic look of the authentic patina. The truck was lowered a few inches on its gunmetal grey American Eagle Boss 338 wheels and Goodyear high performance tires for a lower stance and bookended with new chrome bumpers.
Valvoline’s full-synthetic product, SynPower motor oil, served as the motor oil of choice by both drivers for the Chevrolet power plants found in each truck. This selection was made to ensure the highest quality and performance capacity to meet the demands of the two high-powered vehicles.
After the finished trucks were unveiled to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, the two then went head-to-head in a series of high-energy challenges from autocross to burnouts and even drag racing.
“This was so much fun to be a part of from start to finish,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “It was really exciting to see the finished trucks and compare notes with Jimmie on the finer points of our builds. Thanks to Valvoline and the expert craftsmanship from Hendrick Performance, the trucks are incredible.”
“I loved feeling the power jumping off the line during the drag race,” Johnson said. “It’s not often Dale and I get to combine our creativity and passion for cars together into one effort. I can’t think of a better way to kick off our team’s partnership with Valvoline.”
A huge thanks to Valvoline and Hendrick Motorsports for bringing us out to experience these amazing trucks firsthand, showing me how to build an engine, and for the tour of Rick Hendrick’s private car collection.
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Is The Most Luxurious SUV You’ve Ever Seen
After years of anticipation, Rolls-Royce finally took the wraps off its ultra-luxury SUV today in London, revealing to the world the Rolls-Royce Cullinan in all of its glory.
Now as you might imagine, the notion of a Rolls-Royce SUV caused quite a stir among purists, who believed that the world’s leading super-luxury brand should stick with cars. But according to Rolls-Royce, their customers were asking for a car that would allow them to “go everywhere in luxury, effortlessly and without compromise, conquering the most challenging terrain to enjoy life’s most enriching experiences, wherever they may be.”
With the super-luxury lifestyle evolving, so did Rolls-Royce, leading to the development of a vehicle that offers uncompromised luxury wherever they dare to venture. Cullinan is that car.
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan, named for a diamond that’s part of the British crown jewels, follows in the footsteps of the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, offering up an ultra-luxe SUV that can satisfy the adventurous urges of their clients.
Under the hood, there’s a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 engine that delivers 563 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque to an all-new, all-wheel drive, all-wheel steer system. This engine has been reworked to make the Cullinan comfortable even while it’s off-roading.
A “Magic Carpet Ride” air suspension system keeps things civilized in the cabin when you’re off the beaten path, because you wouldn’t want a passenger to spill their glass of champagne.
Naturally, being a Rolls-Royce, the interior is bespoke and fit for a king, with only the finest leathers and appointments. But perhaps the most interesting feature is the pair of jump seats that come out of the trunk, presumably so you can sit while falconing in the desert.
The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan is expected to go on sale late this year, with a starting price of around $325,000. Of course, one you start adding bespoke features and customization options, that price could go north of half a million in a hurry.
What do you think of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan?
First Drive: 2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke Diesel
It’s hard to believe, but the Ford F-150 has never been offered with a diesel engine.. until now.
While Ford has offered a diesel engine in it’s F-Series Super Duty trucks for quite awhile now, not everyone out there wants (or needs) a bigger truck. So when Ford finally announced that they would be offering a diesel engine for the F-150, people were excited.
So when Ford invited us out to Denver, Colorado to drive the 2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke Diesel for ourselves, we were only too happy to accept. And after spending a day behind the wheel of it in the Mile High City, I’m happy to report that it was worth the wait.
Now you might be asking yourself, why do we need yet another engine choice for the F-150, when there are already five great powerplants to choose from? Simply put, diesel engines are ideal for drivers who tow and haul frequently, with tons of torque and higher fuel economy.
While the F-150 Power Stroke Diesel’s 250 horsepower might not be anything to write home about, it’s all about that torque.. all 440 lb-ft of it! The F-150 Diesel has a best-in-class 11,400 pounds of towing capacity and 2,020 pounds of payload capacity, so it’s more than capable of towing a horse trailer, camper, or even a small boat.
We started off the day by towing a 5,500 pound horse trailer around town with the truck, and it handled it like it was nothing, with the 10-speed SelectShift transmission keeping us in the sweet spot of the powerband as needed. We thought the truck might struggle slightly given the high elevation of Colorado, but that proved to be a non-issue.
Honestly, if you didn’t know better, you would swear there was a V8 under the hood. Even the telltale diesel engine sound is really muted, much to the chagrin of some diesel enthusiasts who enjoy the sounds of their noisy engines.
Later on, we hopped into a F-150 Platinum to see if we could achieve the impressive 30MPG highway numbers that Ford claims, and indeed we did.. And then I discovered Sport mode, at which point all bets were off. It’s WAY more fun off the line, but you’re going to pay for it at the pump. Still, totally worth it in my opinion. 🙂
Next, we hit up an off-road course, and the Power Stroke was an absolute beast, making short work of this challenging course as we worked our way through thick mud, ruts, steep inclines, and the like. While most people won’t put their trucks through this kind of abuse, it’s good to see that the F-150 is “Built Ford Tough” and can handle whatever comes its way.
Overall, there’s a lot to like about the 2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke Diesel. If you’re someone who regularly tows or goes off-roading, this might be just the engine choice for you. But keep in mind that there’s a slight price premium for the Power Stroke engine, to the tune of $4,000 (and it is only available on Lariat or higher trims). Still, when you factor in the fuel savings over time, it isn’t that bad of a deal at all.
So if you’re in the market for light-duty, half-ton diesel-powered pickup truck for your towing needs, you should definitely check out the new 2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke Diesel, which is set to arrive at dealers this May, and experience the truck’s stump-pulling torque for yourself!
Click here to learn more about the 2018 Ford F-150 truck lineup.
Review: 2018 Infiniti QX80
The Infiniti QX80 is like putting John Cena in a tuxedo. It’s elegant and ready for champagne, sure, but it’s still big and bulky. Which isn’t such a bad thing given the great combination of svelte comfort and capability that the 2018 QX80 offers. Luxurious power is kinda nice.
The 2018 QX80 has seen some updating to its design, with both exterior and interior changes for the new model year. This already luxurious SUV has become even more so with these updates, adding some nice modern amenities.
On the outside, changes include a softened front fascia with less bulk and more sophisticated tones. The overbite is gone and bumper thickness is deemphasized to give the big QX80 a refined look. Narrower headlamps help accent this refinement while the bulky fenders remain to keep the muscularity of the 2018 QX80 in place. A few changes to the rear of the QX80 mirror those up front while the tow kit and roof rails are now standard equipment.
Inside, the 2018 Infiniti QX80 is filled with quality materials and excellent workmanship that notes both luxury and robustness. A new center stack for the console has been designed, adding some small item storage to boost ergonomics. Including a new cell phone pocket ahead of the shift knob. Comfortable seating and excellent design remain the norm in this luxury SUV with spaciousness being key. No matter how big or tall, there’s room in the QX80.
The third row is meant primarily for kids, despite this being a big full-sized SUV. It’s still good, though, and very usable in that vein. Parents will note how easily child safety seats can be installed and removed from the third row using the rear hatch. The middle row is also good for child safety accommodation. Cargo space in the big QX80 is a massive 95 cubic feet overall with 49.6 cubes behind the second row and 16.6 behind the third. That’s a lot of golf bags, luggage, or camping gear.
Technology in the 2018 Infiniti QX80 is also good with the base model of the SUV having a very well-done infotainment setup. The 8-inch touchscreen is standard in the QX80 and offers good usability with plenty of connectivity options such as Bluetooth, voice control, etc. Satellite radio and navigation are also standard equipment. The graphics quality and speed of the base model infotainment is a bit dated, though. The upgrade option adds WiFi in the car as well as some apps and improves that interface some.
Several driver aids and convenience items are standard in the 2018 QX80. Adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree parking camera, and so forth are standard equipment. Updates include parking assistance, screen casting for infotainment, and so on. A rear seat entertainment package is also an option for the QX80 and includes wireless headphones and a built-in DVD player.
Driving the big 2018 Infiniti QX80 is a lesson on truck-based SUVs becoming far road friendlier thanks to modern engineering. The QX80 is smooth and predictable with a confident gate and excellent road dampening. Despite the serious off-pavement credibility of this big SUV, it’s a very comfortable, quiet highway ride. Powering that is a big (sometimes throaty) 5.6-liter V8 that outputs 400 horsepower. A well-done seven-speed automatic transmission is standard, running rear-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive is an option and shifting is seamless. Towing is rated at 8,500 pounds.
Fuel economy is a weak point in the QX80, though, at a mere 13 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway. In the real world, a driver can expect closer to that 13 mpg overall, though, with our week proving out at only a 14 mpg average in all. That low fuel economy wouldn’t be a big deal, given the price point and likely lack of interest in MPG returns from the QX80’s market, but a small fuel tank means that the low MPGs will become frequent fuel stops.
With a big, capable machine like the 2018 Infiniti QX80, though, it’s important that the look, feel, and attitude all be there. The QX80 makes no bones about its muscularity or ostentatious nature. It flaunts its luxury and capability to the world. This new, luxury-oriented, and less truck-appearing QX80 brings a great option to the luxury full-sized SUV market.