Those who aren’t in tune with the rally world may not have heard of Ken Block and his collective Hoonigan Racing, but those who do, will know of his crazy vehicles including his insane Mustang known as the Hoonicorn.
In case you missed the news, Ken, his team at Hoonigan Racing and Ash Thorpe (who designed the most recent Batman car) to design a spiritual successor to the Hoonicorn. He wants to take influence from the widely unpopular third-gen Mustang body but with odes to Miami Vice drizzled over.
Now I’m sure the question on all of your lips is, ‘what is going to be under the hood of this new beast’? Well you could be right to assume it will have a massive twin-turbo Ecoboost V6 from the Ford GT, but it is looking more likely that it will be a new electric drivetrain from the Mustang Mach E or the 1,400hp electric Mustang drag car.
We wanted to know more and thankfully so did Top Gear who managed to interview Ken to get the latest on the project. Ken said to Top Gear:
“It very well may end up with an electric drivetrain. I would love to have my regular Hoonicorn with its big V8 sat next to this new project with a 1,000bhp electric motor – but I’ll never give up my combustion engines for good.”
Ken has had some experience with electric vehicles in the fact that he has recently driven an Extreme E car – essentially an all-electric race car as well as test driving the Mustang Mach-E.
“I think moving in the direction of electric platforms is great. I’m one to embrace technology and I like to diversify. Plus, I also enjoy new ways to go fast and this seems like one.”
This would come with its benefits for Ken and his Gymkhana environment:
“I don’t have enough experience to give all the benefits to an electric drivetrain right now, but I know it’ll just be simpler to run. It takes several engineers to keep the engine in the Hoonicorn going; it requires a lot of maintenance and cost. That stuff might completely go away if motors can make the same kind of horsepower without so many parts. I want to go down the Miami Vice route; car chase scenes, beaches”
Anyone who knows Ken and his work will know that he is extremely good at destroying car tyres, in very entertaining ways. The beauty of an EV is that you have pretty much instantaneous torque which should make his job a lot easier:
“The torque could be a big game-changer. I’ve been reading how easily engineers can adjust the delivery and throttle response, so I’m really looking forward to experimenting with that in the future.”
However, regardless of what engine is behind the Hoonifox, Ken’s plan to do a Miami Vice inspired take on the vehicle is very much still in its early stages:
“We’ve not got to the stage of scouting Miami or anything yet. But doing a sort of Miami Vice homage is what I’d love to do. But that could all change. When you start speaking to cities sometimes it goes really well, other times there can be major issues. In the past, discussions with places like Dubai and San Francisco have gone exceptionally well. But we’ve also completely scouted Sydney before just to have the project shut down – so you never know. Even so, I want to go down the Miami Vice route; car chase scenes, beaches, some very nice looking women in bikinis. I want to represent that era of Miami mixed with some modern takes on things. It’ll be fun.”
The Hoonifox is in fact the first time that Ken and his team have worked extensively with CGI in this much details, which brings a huge range of advantages considering the whole world is on lockdown.
“The intricacy Ash can go into is remarkable and gives us a bigger step to the final product straight away. We first worked together on my 90s Escort Cosworth V2 – when we took the old Escort and thought ‘what would happen if a modern-day WRC team got hold of this?’ The whole process of doing that digitally and then handing it over to the engineering team really sped up the development process.”
It is quite amazing really, considering how small Ken’s team really is in comparison to the likes of M-Sport:
“We may be a very small team but we’re incredibly efficient. Compared to a team like M-Sport or a factory like Audi or Mercedes that have huge teams of engineers and designers and aerodynamicists to go through, we’re just a small group having fun. We’re not looking to win an F1 race or WRC Rally, we just want to make cool videos, giving us a lot of freedom.”
Now, the Miami Vice Hoonifox won’t be hitting your screens anytime soon – usually it takes months to shoot and edit a film (Andy Wilman can attest to this with having to edit thousands of hours of Grand Tour footage), but with the current COVID-19 pandemic happening across the globe, we can assume it’ll be at least 12 to 16 months before you can see the finished article… at least we’ve got something to look forward to eh?