Our mid-summer Pod Rods takes a look at a scorched Acura prototype, an electric Bug and what will power some future Fords.
It's all on Pod Rods:


My first car was a '63 Volkswagen Beetle and I still miss it to this day. Now Zelectric Motors may have a way to love that Bug again without the anemic pancake motor that drove it.
David Benardo and Bonnie Rodgers teamed up with hot shop EV West to convert a classic 1960's VeeDub to electric, creating the ZelectricBug prototype. Now the company is preparing to begin converting restored VW Beetles (1958–1966) with an electric drivetrain that is claimed to be good for up to 90-mph and an 80- to 100-mile range on a charge. The Beetle retains its 4-speed manual transmission, and the only addition to its Spartan metal dashboard is a digital gauge. It also gets front disc brakes.
For more info, check out www.zelectricmotors.com. For a video review of the car, check out Roads And Rides story.

Speaking of electric, Lexus says its CT200h was named the favorite hybrid by the Northwest Automotive Press Association. The hybrid compact luxury car gets an EPA-estimated 42 mpg combined fuel economy rating. And Lexus says the CT200h is the second best-seller in the entry-luxury automotive segment nationwide, and the best-selling vehicle in the segment in the western United States.

A one-of-a-kind 2014 BMW i8 Concours d'Elegance Edition will be auctioned on Aug. 16 weekend of the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, ahead of the official fall sale date. Distinguished by a unique paint scheme and interior treatment as well as other features, the concours edition will be sold by the Gooding & Company auction house, proceeds to benefit the Pebble Beach Company Foundation and concours.
The i8 has a Frozen Grey Metallic exterior paint, while the interior has Dalbergia Brown leather upholstery, tanned using dye derived from plant extracts. The car has laser headlights, pending government approval, a BMW i8 Display key as well as the first BMW Charging Station, professional edition. The words "Concours d'Elegance Edition" will be laser etched in the interior. For information about bidding or to watch the auction, visit www.goodingco.com.
The BMW i8 plug-in hybrid all-wheel drive powertrain combines an electric motor to drive the front wheels and a 1.5-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo three-cylinder gasoline engine driving the rear wheels. It can go on pure electric power at speeds up to 75 mph for about 20 miles.

For many years, the favorite phrase of any car reviewer when checking out a black sports car was to quip – "Darth Vader, your car is ready."
Well, now it is thanks to Hot Wheels.
Hot Wheels and Star Wars joined forces to create the ultimate dark side ride with a life-size Darth Vader™ car with an LS3 V-8 with 526-hp, custom red line tires and heavy breathing sounds from the Sith Lord himself. The Darth Vader car is on display at the San Diego Comic-Con International, and a limited edition toy version displayed in a lightsaber will be available. Check out the full-size car in this video.

Ford has released the horsepower ratings on its upcoming 2015 Mustang.
The 5-liter V-8 will have 435 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque, with an improved power-to-weight ratio. The new 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine has a low-inertia twin-scroll turbocharger and direct injection with 310 horsepower and 320 lb.-ft. of torque, a claimed best-ever power density from a Ford engine. And there is a standard 300-horsepower V-6. Each is available with either a manual or automatic transmission, the latter with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and downshift rev-matching. As for the V-8, it gets upgrades that help it breathe better, especially at higher engine speeds, many derived from lessons learned in developing the special-edition 2012 Mustang Boss 302.
Meanwhile, the lighter 2015 Ford F-150 pickup truck welcomes two new engines to its four-engine lineup – a high-output 2.7-liter EcoBoost with towing capability of 8,500 pounds, payload of 2,250 pounds out of 325 horsepower and 375 lb.-ft. of torque; and a standard 3.5-liter V-6, towing of up to 7,600 pounds and 283 horsepower with 255 lb.-ft. of torque. The new trucks use high-strength steel and military-grade aluminum alloy to save up to 700 pounds.

When Gooding & Co. holds its 11th annual Pebble Beach Auction on Aug. 16 and 17, one of the potential heavy hitters could be this one-off 1939 Alfa Romeo Tipo 256 Cabriolet Sportivo. Coming from a private collection with original coachwork by Pinin Farina, it was built atop one of only 20 examples of the high-performance Tipo 256. It has some serious competition history and retains its original upholstery, and is estimated to sell for $5 million to $7 million.

In other auction news, the ex-King of Rock 'n' Roll's 1963 Rolls-Royce Phantom V Touring Limousine with coachwork by James Young goes on the block at the 17th annual Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction on Aug. 15. Owned by Elvis Presley, it has about 200 hp and was built to factory US specification with left hand drive. It is almost 20 feet in length, and was ordered for Elvis through American Rolls-Royce retailer Peter Satori. Extras specified by Presley included a Blaupunkt Koln radio, Firestone white wall tires, parking and flashing lights, electric windows, a microphone and air conditioning. Originally finished in midnight blue with grey cloth interior, legend records a color change was ordered by Elvis as his mother's chickens would repeatedly peck away at their reflections in the elegant finish while visiting her.

Actor Chris Pratt, star of the upcoming film "Guardians of the Galaxy," will be the honorary pace car driver on Sunday July 27 at the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard, taking a red and silver 2014 Chevrolet SS pace car around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"It's a dream come true to drive the pace car," Pratt said in a news release. "I am really excited to be part of NASCAR for the day."
Chevrolet has a long pace car history at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and has served as the pace car for every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the track since 1994. The SS is Chevrolet's first V-8 rear-wheel-drive performance sedan since 1996. It has a LS3 Chevrolet V-8 delivering a certified 415-hp and 415 lb-ft of torque, matched with a six-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted manually using paddles on the steering wheel. And Chevrolet will pace every race during the weekend at Indianapolis - Camaro ZL1 in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge; Corvette convertible in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship; and Camaro 1LE in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Tire Rack's Street Survival teen driver safety program is coming from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday Sept. 6 at St. Augustine's First Coast Tech College at 3640 Gaines Road.
The national driver education program teaches teens the skills they need to stay alive behind the wheel through hands-on experiences in real-world driving situations. Students get a short classroom session and then tackle everyday driving hazards, obstacles and challenges in a controlled environment, including emergency braking and skid control. The program is open to licensed and permitted drivers ages 15 – 21 for $75 per student. Forms, schedules and more information can be found at www.streetsurvival.org. 

Hot Florida days could mean finding a system that runs a fan to cool the car down. A company called Kulcar is offering a solar-powered car ventilator, claiming it will drop a car that's been heated in the sun to almost 200 degrees inside to about 120 degrees. The unit clamps into a partial-open side window and has twin fans.
Made in Taiwan, it retails for $89 and can be found on the web or at www.kulcar.com.

Retired Ford Motor Co. president and CEO Nick Scheele has died. Called an "outstanding leader whose global experience and passion" served Ford "at a critical time," a Ford announcement on his death said his career spanned more than 38 years.
"Not only did Nick help us overcome many challenges at the time, he mended relationships with our dealers, our suppliers and our employees, and set the stage for many of today's leaders who are moving us forward," the Ford statement says. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this difficult time."
Scheele was named president and chief operating officer on Oct. 30, 2001. He retired from the company on Feb. 1, 2005. Born Jan. 3, 1944, Scheele previously served as group vice president, Ford North America, as well as chairman of Ford of Europe, and chairman and CEO of Jaguar Cars Ltd.

A 1918 Cadillac Type 57 that earned its place in history during World War I has become only the fourth vehicle added to the Historic Vehicle Association's new National Historic Vehicle Register and U.S. Department of the Interior Historic American Engineering Record in the Library of Congress.
The car was used to support French and American troops near the front during the Second Battle of the Marne. It was used by Eleanor Butler Roosevelt, wife of Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., during her two-month mission to create locations for soldiers to enjoy time off.
Marc Lassen is its current owner, saying he first came across a used car ad describing the vehicle, but its history had been lost to time. He did the research and tracked it down to the Rev. Dr. John H. Denison , who entered the service with the Y.M.C.A. in 1917 and turned the car over to that organization to support America's war effort.
The Type 57 seven-passenger touring car was used in Europe to transport soldiers and officers around the area, and then was by Roosevelt. At the end of the war, the Cadillac was returned to the U.S.

Mopar has a new scoop for the Dodge Challenger – a Shaker Hood Kit now available at dealerships or on Mopar.com for $2,660. The shaker hood is fully functional and provides performance gains, a bolt-on kit that requires no drilling or fabrication. The kit offers a dash of vintage styling the Challenger. The all-aluminum hood is built to Chrysler Group production tooling guidelines.

Finally, there was a hot time at the old Nurburgring recently, and the victim was the Acura NSX prototype.
Spy photographers had been watching a near-production prototype in camouflage sweeping around the daunting German track, then saw it catch fire. According to Autoweek, Acura released a statement Thursday stating that a prototype of the hybrid exotic supercar "experienced a fire" while testing at the Nurburgring.
"We make safety a top priority, and fortunately no injuries occurred," the statement says. "We are investigating the cause but as the vehicle is still under development, we're not in a position to share details. While an incident like this is unfortunate, the development of the NSX continues its progress toward its highly anticipated launch."
Hope they have another one to test, after figuring out what scorched this one.

Want to see some cars vs. reading about them?

• Informal cruise-in — 7 to 9 a.m. every Saturday at the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop, located at 11117 San Jose Blvd. in Mandarin.
• Historic Springfield Cruise-in - 5 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday from 1st through 12th streets on North Main Street in Jacksonville.
• Clay County Cruzers - 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Panera Bread, 1510 County Road 210 in Orange Park.
• Azalea City Cruisers - 5:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday in the 700 block of St. Johns Avenue in Palatka.
• Jacksonville Truck Nights — 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. the first Thursday of each month at Round Boys Grill, 11629-8 San Jose Blvd., and 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at Brewer's Pizza, 14B Blanding Blvd. in Orange Park.

New cruise-ins:

• Cruise 'n Shoot - 8 a.m. to noon the first Saturday of each month at Park Avenue Billiards, 714 Park Ave. in Orange Park; and same time every third Saturday at Q-Ball Billiards at 10150 Beach Blvd. Cruise in with a car and play pool.

Georgia cruise-ins:
• Twin Oaks BBQ Cruise-In - 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday Aug. 9 at Twin Oaks BBQ at 2618 Norwich St. in Brunswick.
• Southeast Georgia Car and Truck Club cruise-ins — 6 p.m. the second Saturday of each month at Sonic's, 395 Charlie Smith Senior Highway, St. Marys; and 6 p.m. on the fourth Saturday of each month at the Millhouse Steakhouse, 1215 East King Ave. in Kingsland, next to Interstate 95.
• Bike Enthusiasts show — 7 p.m. the first and third Thursdays at Cavagnaro's restaurant, located at 1810 South Georgia Parkway W. in Waycross.
• Zaxby's Car Show — 6 to 9 p.m. the third Saturday of every month at Zaxby's, located at 2316 Memorial Drive in Waycross.

Please send information on car shows, cruise-ins, and automotive and motorcycle events to dan.scanlan@jacksonville.com or Dan Scanlan, Florida Times-Union, 1 Riverside Ave., Jacksonville, Fla. 32202