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Thursday 23rd March
Ken Block

Six of Ken Block’s wildest car builds

As well as a tyre-shredding supremo, Block was a master of the monster build

Ken Block Hoonipigasus
  • Ken Block

    It’s safe to say Ken Block knew how to make an entrance. 

    Whether it was basically inventing skate shoes, skipping through rally special stages or skidding wildly around a Segway-riding gorilla, there was always an extra layer of scale and showmanship to Ken Block’s entry that made his name – arguably every bit as much as his talents and ambition. 

    And this penchant for pageantry was never more pronounced than in the machines that took him – and millions of spellbound viewers – to the limits of physics and sanity. Here’s six of the best...

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  • The 650bhp Fiesta from Gymkhana 3 (and 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10, but who’s counting)

    Ken Block

    If you’re not as old and worn-out as we are, there’s a fair chance that a Fiesta, not a WRX, was the first machine you saw flung about the place as if physics was taking flex time. In fact, statistically speaking, this is the car you’re most likely to have seen – six separate appearances in the Gymkhana series, and five where it was the lead, rather than part of an ensemble cast. 

    Compared to the rest of the cars on this list, the Fiesta (in its various iterations) doesn’t strain at the leash of that term, doing everything it can to not be constrained by a word as humdrum as ‘car’. But we’re speaking very much in comparatives here – if the idea of launching a 650bhp rally-spec Fiesta off San Francisco’s dizzying streets strikes you as anything other than wild, you... well, should probably keep reading. 

    For the rest of us, this is the car that delivered more madness than any other, and whet our appetites for continually crazier ideas and machines. The genesis of mad genius, if you will. 

  • Hoonitruck

    Ken Block

    For whatever reason (perhaps latent number-worship, brought on by a childhood packed full of Top Trumps), V6s are just harder to get excited about than V8s. So for the Hoonitruck to sport just such a configuration immediately puts it on the back foot.  

    Yeah, right. That V6 is the Blue Oval’s 3.5-litre twin-turbo, as per the Le Mans-winning Ford GT, making more than 900bhp and 700lb ft. And we mean the actual engine – it’s direct from Ford Racing’s GT Le Mans programme. 

    Installed in your average 1977 F-150, this would usually result in a wonderful – if short-lived – game of Which Bit Will Break First. But the Hoonitruck neatly sidesteps that whole issue (and a whole range of others) by running a custom four-wheel-drive setup complete with a Sadev six-speed gearbox. 

    As for the F-150 itself? Well, it’s a Seventies pick-up in much the same way that a Daytona 500-winning Mustang is something you can walk into a dealership and buy. And we don’t care a jot.

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  • Hoonitron

    Ken Block

    Not sure if you’ve noticed, but Audi’s on something of an electric kick right now. OK, you’ve definitely noticed – Carlos Sainz sailing through the dunes of the Dakar Rally, propelled by electricity, leaves something of a lasting impact.  

    So you see the thinking here: hark back to Audi’s early days in the dirt with the ur-Quattro and look forward to the electric future, and combine them both with the panache Ken Block brought to the here and now. 

    With a twin-motor, AWD setup (of course), as well as a sound eerily reminiscent of the Tamiya cars we had as kids – and about the same instant-on acceleration, come to think of it – the Hoonitron was proof that how wheels are spun means much less than the fact that wheels are spinning. 

    And yes, while the insane pirouetting takes place in Las Vegas – a city so patently awful that having the mob there was somehow better – but if anything is going to make that monument to meretricious ness look good, it’s a crossed-up Audi S1 rally car. Especially when it hides Vegas behind a plume of white smoke...

  • Hoonicorn

    Ken Block

    The pomp and circlework of Block’s Gymkhana videos tend to belie how potent, professional and performance-oriented the machines they feature actually are. And names like ‘Hoonicorn’ do little to illustrate that point – or the supreme engineering that underpins every foot travelled and frame captured. 

    Space frame chassis, pushrod suspension, custom all-wheel-drive system, individual throttle bodies, carbon-fibre bodywork... these aren’t just checkboxes on a spec sheet; they’re chosen and designed to work in concert to deliver immediate, predictable and repeatable performance. And also ludicrous, of course – it is a Gymkhana video, after all. 

    A small insider note about the Hoonicorn: Ken actually asked for the suspension setup to be softened considerably from the original iteration – so he could load and unload the tyres as per his Fiesta RS WRC rally car. 

  • Hoonipigasus

    Ken Block

    A proper silhouette race car, based (about as loosely as humanly possible) on an old 912, with livery reminiscent of Porsche’s 917/20 ‘Pink Pig’. This is more than enough to get our attention by itself. To then find out that it’s a professionally built Time Attack car, made to be genuinely competitive at the world’s greatest hillclimb event... well, there’s a Django Unchained quote that’d fit nicely. 

    While the Porsche that Block took to Pikes Peak didn’t feature in a Gymkhana video, the specs feel up to par – a mid-mounted flat-six from Porsche’s GT3R endurance racer, twin-turbocharged to 1,400bhp and powering both axles. The front driveshaft, by the way, goes straight through the cabin, where the box that encases it would likely be the world’s highest-stakes armrest. 

    But again, that’s where expectation (and sheer spectacle) lead you astray – the amount of work on downforce alone is enough to earn someone a PhD, and that’s before anyone accounts for the complex aero (as well as cooling and fuelling) calculations needed near the top of the mountain, when the air is exactly as thin as you’d expect it to be at 14,000 feet and won’t create the same downforce. 

    Oh, and we should probably mention it went from paper to Pikes Peak in four months, with the build starting over the Christmas period and finishing in the middle of every gearhead’s least favourite phrase: supply chain issues. 

    It may have slightly blown a few engine bits to pieces at Pikes Peak, which is probably the only reason it concedes first place to...

  • Hoonicorn V2

    Ken Block

    The Hoonicorn V2. Take what’s arguably the world’s craziest Mustang, then add around 43 per cent more crazy. When Ken Block himself calls it “the most frightening thing I’ve ever driven", you know you’ve reached the outer limits of sanity. 

    Where the first iteration of the Hoonicorn used a naturally aspirated V8 prepared by Roush Yates, the V2 was absolutely corrupted by absolute power – trading naturally aspirated noise (one of the best we’ve heard, frankly) for a pair of turbos, methanol injection and 1,400bhp. Or so, we’re told. 

    So, armed with a car that lays better claim to ‘turbo nutter’ than perhaps any car Block had driven before or since, where’s the best place to take it? Oh, just the vertiginous, altitude-sickness-inducing and ego-crushing Pikes Peak. And unlike the stuck pig, the Hoonicorn actually made it all the way to the top... after a few stop-offs along the way. For donuts, obviously. 

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