Meet the Dark Knight—a Brooding, Souped-up Tesla Model S
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Meet the Dark Knight—a Brooding, Souped-up Tesla Model S

By Jim Motavalli
Wed, Sep 27, 2023 8:36amGrey Clock 3 min

The US$104,990 three-motor 2023 Tesla Model S Plaid Edition is among the fastest cars in the world, able to reach 60 miles per hour in just two seconds. It puts out 1,020 horsepower and 1,050 pound-feet of torque.

The Plaid is so quick it leaves its drivers gasping for breath, but can the car be improved? Unplugged Performance, a tuning shop in Hawthorne, Calif., that launched in 2013, thinks it can. So was born the Dark Knight, a tweaked Model S-APEX Plaid that has been extensively reworked to better hug the pavement. It sells for approximately US$230,000, including the donor car. But the many options could make it costlier.

The powertrain stays the same, but the car gets a 19-piece carbon fibre wide body kit that allows it to wear big 21-inch, lightweight forged wheels. Airflow is improved with “bargeboard” bodywork in front of the front wheels, a technique adapted from Formula One. Also directing air is the company’s Autobahn front carbon-fibre diffuser. The car meets the world with a sinister satin-black finish, featuring more exposed carbon fibre.

The car’s centre of gravity is lowered via a kit, and there’s a three-way adjustable rear sway bar and a rear-mounted GT strut tower brace. Also part of the suspension build are a series of billet-aluminium adjustable control arms that cut weight, increase strength, and allow some fine adjustments. For those choosing optimum track performance, there are full-race coilover suspension choices available. The Dark Knight needs to stop, so there are carbon ceramic brakes all around, cooled via a ducting system.

The interior was designed in collaboration with von Holzhausen, a company created by Vicki von Holzhausen (married to Tesla chief designer Franz von Holzhausen) that specialises in vegan leather products, including handbags. The tough-wearing interior fabric is in Serrano red and made from bamboo.

The Dark Knight interior uses vegan leather from von Holzhausen.
Unplugged Performance

Unplugged also makes over the other Teslas, including the S, 3, X, Y, and will also tweak the forthcoming Cybertruck. Brendan Sangerman, who directs marketing at Unplugged, says the Dark Knight is “the ultimate daily driver sports sedan.” Asked why the electric motors are left alone, he says, “You wouldn’t want it to be any faster than it is. Instead, we match the performance of the suspension and braking to the level of performance that the car already has.”

Sangerman emphasises that the Dark Knight is a bespoke product, and that the customer has a wide choice in the interior colors and fabrics. “We want customers to be very hands-on in the process,” he said. “If you tell us you like the interior shade in a specific Rolls-Royce, we can match it. Our parts catalog is pretty extensive.”

Unplugged is located close to the Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne. Its first Model S build was shown at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas in 2014, and the company exhibited at the Tokyo Auto Salon in 2016. Unplugged began putting its vehicles to the test on race tracks, and it set some EV records. It also won the exhibition class at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 2021.

There will always be a market for performance tuners, and Unplugged has found a niche market in making some of the world’s most exciting EVs be just that little bit more intoxicating.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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Going warm and fuzzy for the 2024 Pantone Colour of the Year

Prepare yourself for the year of the peach

Fri, Dec 8, 2023 2 min

Pantone has released its 2024 Colour of the Year — and it’s warm and fuzzy.

Peach Fuzz has been named as the colour to sum up the year ahead, chosen to imbue a sense of “kindness and tenderness, communicating a message of caring and sharing, community and collaboration” said vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, Laurie Pressman.

“A warm and cosy shade highlighting our desire for togetherness with others or for enjoying a moment of stillness and the feeling of sanctuary this creates, PANTONE 13-1023 Peach Fuzz presents a fresh approach to a new softness,” she said.

Pantone Colour of the Year is often a reflection of world mood and events

The choice of a soft pastel will come as little surprise to those who follow the Pantone releases, which are often a reflection of world affairs and community mood. Typically, when economies are buoyant and international security is assured, colours tend to the bolder spectrum. Given the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Israeli-Gaza conflict and talk of recession in many countries, the choice of a softer, more reassuring colour is predictable. 

“At a time of turmoil in many aspects of our lives, our need for nurturing, empathy and compassion grows ever stronger as does our imaginings of a more peaceful future,” she said. “We are reminded that a vital part of living a full life is having the good health, stamina, and strength to enjoy it.”

The colour also reflects a desire to turn inward and exercise self care in an increasingly frenetic world.

“As we navigate the present and build toward a new world, we are reevaluating what is important,” she said. “Reframing how we want to live, we are expressing ourselves with greater intentionality and consideration. 

“Recalibrating our priorities to align with our internal values, we are focusing on health and wellbeing, both mental and physical, and cherishing what’s special — the warmth and comfort of spending time with friends and family, or simply taking a moment of time to ourselves.”

Each year since 2000, Pantone has released a colour of the year as a trendsetting tool for marketers and branding agents. It is widely taken up in the fashion and interior design industries, influencing collections across the spectrum. 


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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