Sunday, December 9, 2007

Your One and Only

Currently, the Florida lotto is up to $18 million. I know this as I pass a sign for it every morning on the way into work. And everyday I pass the sign and I think the same thing: " what laundry list of absurd cars would I buy with that money?"

However, that point has been exhausted and for me, it's frivilous because 1. I don't play the lotto 'cause I don't like giving free money away(Andy, that one's for you) and 2. that same laundry list of cars changes every 2.5 seconds, with only one exception...but I'll get to that shortly. So, since we've established that whatever insane variety of cars $18 mil can buy you is boring, that brings us to the question of the day:

If you had to have only one car, money isn't an object and it's something you had to live with then what would it be?

My answer? the 1999-2003 BMW E39 M5. I think it's close to the best car someone could own. Why? Well, I love me some bimmers and it's faster than $@$* off the tip of a shovel.

But seriously, I believe this car will be an icon, a relic of the automotive industry before technology stepped in and removed the driver from the equation. It's powered by a naturally asipirated 4.0L V8 producing 394 ponies with a sub-5 second 0 to 60 sprint. Another car from 1999 to 2003 putting out those same numbers? Oh yeah, the Ferrari 360. I fell in love with this thing the second I turned the key on my uncle's 2002 Titanium Silver M5 during Thanksgiving 2002. Oh and did I mention it's a mid-size sedan?

So think about it: a car that is almost as fast as a Porsche Turbo, has 4 doors and can comfortably seat 4 adults and accomodate golf clubs in the trunk? That's awesome...awesome to the max, actually.

Not enough for you? well, the guys at just broke the Transcontinental Speed record using a 2000 M5. Using that car to cross the United States just over 31 hours without getting a single ticket. That's a road car being run at speeds in excess of 90MPH constantly for 31 hours. Luuuuuuuuuuuucky.

So, my ideal car is a 4-door german autobahn crusher that stopped being built nearly 5 years ago. But I don't care, I love and very functional and elegant. I'd take one of these over a $1,500,000+ Bugatti anyday.

What would you drive? If you could buy anything, from any time period or make and you could only drive this vehicle? What car do you love?

The M5 beating up Madonna(That's enough reason to love this car for me):

Thursday, November 29, 2007

When Is Fast Too Fast?

I actually can’t believe I’m writing a blog about cracking down on excessive speeding yet I’m doing it. I must be getting old.

Car fans desire only speed, road feel and a wonderful exhaust note. Thanks to amazing strides in automotive technology, we pertrolheads find all three elements more readily available every day. The latter two are safe, with better handling characteristics comes a car that has better active safety components and a more compliant suspension. With the exhaust, the only danger is annoying people with your active exhaust that exaggerates the engine note, similar to the Lamborghini Gallardo’s active exhaust that actually makes the exhaust louder and sound more aggressive at peak RPM’s.

However, speed still remains the most dangerous element to driving.

In the 1960’s and early 1970’s top-of-the-line Ferraris came with 250+ horsepower and could hit a 0 to 60 time of the high 5 to mid 6 second range and a top speed in the 150 to 170 range. By today’s standards a 2008 Honda Accord has the exact same performance specs.

So, if an Accord can do that in 2008, then what’s the upper stratosphere of the car world pulling off? Well, a Ferrari Enzo is now capable of a 3.5 second 0 to 60 time and can push past 200 MPH for top speed coming in at a moderately priced $645,000. Too expensive? Well now we have 4-door midsize sedans breaking the 200 MPH barrier with the likes of the much more affordable BMW M5 for only $80,000. Too cheap? Alright Goldie Locks, then take an Lamborghini LP640 that has a top speed of at least 219MPH for only $311,000.

How do we know the LP640 can hit 219 MPH(besides being advertised as such)? Because this ass hat tried it:

The background on the video is Ass Hat (We’ll be referring to the driver as such for the remainder of the blog) took a Lambo LP640 to exactly 219 on a public highway somewhere in Arizona. If you watch the video there are numerous points at which he admits to either not seeing a car until the last nanosecond while going 200+ or having to shut down from 200+ MPH due to increased traffic. What’s worse is the video ends with the driver bragging and daring someone to best his 219 MPH run.

This leads to only one very simple question: What the hell is wrong with Ass Hat? Did you eat paint chips as a child or live under powerlines?

Do people not grasp the repercussions of their actions anymore? Can anyone possibly imagine the overwhelming danger in doing this?

Seriously, consider that if he is traveling at 219MPH and approaching you, who traveling at 70 MPH. That means the speed differential between his car and yours is 149MPH, so if you were standing still, he’d still be doing 149MPH as he approached you. At that speed, it is guaranteed nobody would survive a collision.

Scary, huh?

So, now the real question: with the wonderful technological strides and 200+MPH now readily available, should humans have access to the vehicles capable of such speeds? My answer is a resounding NO. 9 out of 9.5 people without a doubt do not have the talent/ability to control car at such speeds on public roads, myself included.

What scares me is that now, thanks to more readily available, cheaper technology, is any Ass Hat who had a good week on NASDAQ or who inherited more money than brain cells(see above video) can more easily access machinery capable of speeds that even Formula One cars wouldn’t see on an open track. I’m starting to see why Europe has speed cameras and more severe speeding-related penalties for drivers.

So the question I pose to all of you: Just because technology is out there and someone can afford it, should drivers be given access to this kind of machinery, despite the inherent risk of Ass Hats killing innocents attempting to placate their egos?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Petit Le Mans 2007

Organized chaos or a disorganized circus. Frankly, either term would apply when describing the annual Petit Le Mans Race at Road Atlanta.

It truly is a surreal sight. You drive into the middle of nowhere about 1 hour north of Atlanta, drive past the luxurious Chateau Elan and past a large number of sub divisions until you come across a few small signs that just say “Road Atlanta” with an arrow directing you.

But that’s not the strangest part. The first thing I saw as we pulled into the front gate is a gleaming silver( I can’t remember the official name right now) Ferrari 360 Modena parked – on a hill – in heavy, red Georgia clay. This doesn’t fit, especially parked next to a Mini Cooper S and a Honda Civic Type-R.

But you immediately forget that oddity for another: a deep thundering noise that continually changes pitch. It sounds like a World War II fighter is flying 3 feet above your car at full throttle and then there’s the sight of race cars through the tree tops pouring through turn 11.

As you crest the first hill down into the track you’re struck by two things: 1. The sheer amount of people, approximately 90,000 last year and 2. the wall of noise from the unrestricted engines. There are people everywhere on the roads surrounding the track. It took almost 25 minutes to move less than half a mile to find a parking place, plowing through people and cars. But when we did find a spot, wedged between a Dodge pickup and a BMW M3, it was about 30 feet from the back straight. So upon hopping out of the truck we looked directly to our left to see the always-dominating Audi R10 Diesel humming by with it’s eerily quiet turbo diesel engine. Immediately following that I see the Maserati MC12 come screaming along at a much higher pitch only to see some intense late-braking for the 10A turn, belching fire out of it’s exhausts in protest to the rapid downshifts.

(One of my vids of the GT2 and LP cars pouring through a turn...sorry for the poor cellphone vid quality!)

After the first hour, me and Josh had pretty good head aches going from the noise level so we decided to wander the track and check out the vendors sections. Here, at the infield, as you see millions of dollars worth of machines snake from turn to turn as a backdrop, you see a gaggle of Porsches, a few Lamborghinis, some Panoz’s, many Audi’s, and even Kevin Harvick’s NASCAR stock car tooling along. I then came upon the Ferrari owner’s section, which was a great moment. You see a bunch of shirt-less, mulleted drunk Americans and racing-nerd-clad Europeans wandering the peak surrounding some of the most expensive and important Ferraris of the last 30 years. The crown jewel being two brand-spanking-new $500,000+ 599 GTB’s parked next to two $200,000 F430’s along with a Magnum PI-esque 308 and Miami Vice-style Testarossa. Awesome.

We then found ourselves wandering/sneaking into the Paddock and pitlane. Ending up at the Risi Competizione team’s pit, less than 20 feet from the entire crew, through a chain-link fence watching them work on their F430. While doing that, a V8-ed Panoz revs behind us as it tears through pit lane back to its garage startling everyone in its wake.

That’s the funny thing about this whole event. There’s just too much to try and take in at once. From the people, to the omnipresent exhaust screams and burbles, to the high end automotive exotica( I was passed by the Porsche GT3 RS in Lime Green that I nearly fell over staring at) you just can’t process it all, no matter how hard you try. But then, that’s the fun of it, like a carnival where you can’t decide where to look next or what to do next. No wonder people travel the country and world to indulge their automotive vices, this particular carnival makes us all feel like 6 year olds trying to make engine noises with our mouths and emulating the use of imaginary clutches and gear shifters as the real deal shows us what we’re dreaming of while only yards away.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Lamborghini Reventon, it's the New Britney Spears!

Celebrities. Yeah, THOSE people. They’re self-righteous, bad decision-making people who love to start out well and then lose touch with their audience or market and end up doing cocaine off of their baby’s head while engaged in a high-speed chase. So what happens when your fans lose faith and their attention is drawn elsewhere? They “reinvent” and repackage themselves to be the bigger, badder version of what they think will sell in an attempt to not be out-done. Jewel did it, Jessica Simpson did it, Gary Busey has done it a few times…kinda. But what inevitably happens? The “reinvention” doesn’t take and the once-shining star is now burned out and left to float off in the universe, forgotten and worse off than before.

One celebrity personifies this fall from grace: Britney Spears! About 6 to 8 years ago she was pop culture, with CDs, movies, a host of a award shows. Heck, she even got to make out with Madonna on stage, that’s something I’ve wanted to do for years. But time marches on and after drug and alcohol abuse, babies and after being Federline’d she fell apart. Worry not though, she’s back! Rehabilitated, repackaged and refurbished, she’s back to rekindle our interests in hot white trash. She’s not quite as good as she was before, is she? Nope, she’s worn out, used up and a shadow of her successful self. Did you see this year’s performance at the VMA’s? See below. But she seems to think she’ll be able to sell us on the new and improved Brittney. You buy it? I don’t, she’s already been busted for a hit-and-run this week.

Public Disaster:

So, that brings us to the Lamborghini Reventon, it’s the current Brittney Spears of the car industry. On the outside, yes, it looks interesting and highly attractive. It seems to have talent possessed by no other. However, look closer, under the surface: It’s just a Lambo hopped up on cocaine and Red Bull, then repackaged by it’s creators in an attempt to make an easy buck, praying the masses are dumb enough to buy it. It wants so desperately to be the hottest, fastest, most expensive car of the moment. It wants to surpass the current world-sensation: the Bugatti Veyron.

Lambo Reventon(Images sourced from

For those who aren’t aware; an older, recently revived brand named Bugatti built a 1,000 horsepower car that retails for $1.2 million. Let’s keep in mind it’s 0 to 60 time is less than 3 seconds. Probably quicker than it took you to read that sentence.) But it has diamonds encrusted in the clock and gauges, magnesium control stalks and 10 radiators. TEN! So with speed as fast as a jet, and a build quality and elegance better than the Vatican, people know it has the talent and quality to back up it’s lofty price tag. It’s THE fastest production car with the THE nicest interior. It is THE car of the millennium…so far.

So what’s Lamborghini respond in-kind with to it’s bigger, badder stepbrother?(Both Bugatti and Lamborghini are owned, if indirectly, by Volkswagen) They follow their heritage and provide the eager public with a ridiculous and absurd model, what they’ve always done. The old Miura was revolutionary and a blast to drive but it would burn up if you sneezed while driving, the Countach was beyond fast and expensive so if you drove one, you probably were a celebrity yourself – it defined sports cars in the 1980’s. Even the 1990’s Diablo GTR is ludicrous in that it was a rear-wheel drive car putting out 575 horsepower. It should have been the Lamborghini “I hope I filled out my Will” GT.

(Images from

So, in that same vein, the newest, baddest Lambo on the block has a big name to live up to. The Reventon is equally ridiculous to it’s grandparents, except in all the wrong ways. It costs $1.5 million and it has a body that was “designed after the F22 Raptor fighter jet” says Lamborghini. Great, airplanes are fast and absurdly cool! But, the Reventon is a repackaged, rehabilitated car. It’s a Lambo LP640, a sublime car, with a stupid, ugly body kit and only 20 more horsepower. So now, for an extra $1.2 million you can look like a nouveau riche idiot in a car that thinks it’s an airplane while people in cheaper $1.2 million Bugattis are passing you and other LP640s are rolling right beside you on the way to the local track.

This car is a pointless, expensive exercise at trying to be the best and hold onto marketing image. Lamborghini wanted the most expensive car? Well, they have it and, God willing, nobody will buy it. It’s like Brittney Spears then, hoping we’ll be fooled by it’s new looks and it’s new angle but, in the end, it’s still repackaged crap. The Reventon isn’t any better than the LP640 it’s based on, it looks worse and costs more…so how dumb is the public? The new diet, the new make up and the new song and dance doesn’t fool us, Lambo. We know you’ve given us a hyped up LP640 with a price tag it couldn’t hope to live up to much like Spears’ new album she’s working on.

(Images from

So, if this year’s Frankfurt International Autoshow was where the Reventon was debuted, then it must be the car version of Brittney Spears debut of her “new self” at the MTV VMA’s. And we all saw how that went for Britney. The Reventon, coupled with a cheaper, slower V8-slotted Gallardo makes me start to worry whose behind the wheel in Santa A’gata and the path for disaster they may be setting themselves on. Could this be the beginning of a downslope for Lambo? Tell me below.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Best of 2007

I’m a car addict; I admit it, happily at that. As a car addict, one of my favorite things every year is to see which car the countless motoring “authorities” name as either “The Most Important Car of the Year” or “The Best Car of the Year.” Well, I thought to myself, how can anyone determine that a single car is the best of the year? Exactly, I’m right, you can’t. In today’s world, car’s are not unlike appliances: you have one to fulfill every little thing you might need, toaster for toast, coffee maker for coffee, air fresheners to hide your farts, the list goes on and on. You can have a car for everything now too. Cars that are built for off-roading, hauling kids to school and soccer practice, balls-out F1 car equivalents, pure people carriers and then the cars that try to do everything in-between.

So, because we live in a world of such lush automotive variety, I made my own list of the most important cars/ best cars of the year/moment. These are in no particular order and are all equally wonderful for the time we’re living in:

1. Caparo T1 – This is it. This is the newest hyper car to bring F1 cars that much closer to being a regular sight on the road. This is the car that will cause 8 year-old kids to sit in their school desk and hold onto an imaginary steering wheel all while spouting engine noises. Grown men do it too, just at the office. It looks like a hybrid between a car and airplane, goes like stink, and it’s built by some of those magnificent ex-McLaren engineers so it looks the part and has the pedigree to back it up.

2. The Fiat 500 – at first glance, this thing seems to be like the Mini Cooper, Ford Mustang or Chevy Camaro. Just another “retro” model where designers got lazy and just pulled a design out its scrapbook and spruced it up. But that’s where you’re wrong. It’s not just a remake of Fiat of old, it’s a new econo-box that’s functional, has a four wheels pushed to the far corners for handling and reminds me of an iPod, inside and out. Last time I checked, my iPod is the best little gadget I own, so you’re telling me it comes in white, black, red, blue, etc and it has four wheels? Sold.

3. Mercedes CLK AMG Black Series – Thank you, AMG division, thank you. You’ve redeemed my long flagging faith that Mercedes has it within themselves to built an out-and-out, hard-nosed sports car that’s fun and has the equipment, not just the big engine, to keep you from ending up a Teutonic stain on the tire wall at your local track. You’ve done it, taken a 6.2-liter engine, a 7-speed transmission, and wonderful bits of carbon fiber in the body; composite brakes and built the wet dream of Merc fans. This car moves me in ways BMW hasn’t been able to do since the M3 CSL 4 years ago and it gives the AMG the true hardcore racer clout it’s been missing. Now, Mercedes, since you’ve built such a terrific auto and dropped your ugly, fat stepbrother, Chrysler, can we please renegotiate the $140,000 price tag?

4. Koenigsegg CCX – Well, it’s Swedish…as you might have guessed from the ridiculous name, but how can you go from IKEA, a comfortable trendy furniture company or Volvo, the pinnacle of automotive safety, to a car that weighs less than my cell phone and attempts to compensation it’s anorexia with over 850 horsepower, assuming you run it ONLY on 110 Octane – race fuel to the layman. Which then means if you fill this sucker up with biofuel, which is basically just taking pop corn and a bag of Doritos and shoving it into the fuel tank, you’ll be churning out over 1,000 horsepower and as a result, going toe-to-toe with the $1.2 million Bugatti Veyron. This car’s value is that it shows the automotive world that alternative fuel sources are a reality for the discerning, sporting driver and, in cases such as the CCX, provide a better alternative than it’s petrol brethren. The downside? It’s Swedish, and it’ll take you 3 checks from your checkbook to spell out the name and write out the number of zeroes behind the price.

5. Jaguar XF – radical as the C-XF we saw earlier in the year, this is the toned down production-ready result. Jaguar, lets have a serious discussion for a minute. Jaguar, I like you, you’re fun, you come from a good family, you’re well mannered, but you’re unreliable and sometimes you can be kinda boring. I don’t want us to split, but you’re forcing my hand on this unless you promise to get better soon. Yep, this car is the make-or-break for Jag. Jag’s had a bad rep, of pretentious owners, poor reliability and under the umbrella of Ford, it’s had a reputation for bland, rebadged Fords. However, we’re on the cusp of a new, sexy, tech-savvy line up. If Jag can make this mid-size luxo work, then maybe Jag will finally earn back the street cred it once had with the E-Types and your revolutionary XJ220. I really want Jag to succeed and the XF is going to be the key if the car lives up to what Jaguar says it will be.

6. Nissan GT-R: This is the car that Nissan decided to “test” at the tremendous Goodwood Festival of Speed. Apparently, the Nismo boys are a bunch of show-offs. Speaking of showing off, spy shots recently revealed this car going head-to-head with a Porsche 911 Turbo. You know, the new 997 model that can hit 60 in under 4 seconds with virtually zero turbo lag. Anyway, why is the GT-R important? Well, for one it’s the next generation of the R34 Skyline GT-R, a car so intense it came with a lateral G meter built into the dash and all-wheel drive before all-wheel drive was the hip driveline to have. If I were a German carmaker, I’d be afraid as this car will be just as fast, as a $140K Porsche Turbo or $200K Ferrari for half the price and likely twice the amenities. Could the Japanese begin encroaching on the exotics market held so long by flashy Italians and calculating Germans? The GT-R is a resounding yes.

7. BMW 1 Series. I’m still very much on the fence about this little guy. While two things are very true: 1. The North American market is beginning to give serious consideration to smaller autos and 2. The new E9X 3-Series are complete pigs in terms of weight, size and price, does the world want a modern take on the 1970’s small, light but nevertheless fast BMWs such as the 2002? I know I do. 300+ horsies, twin turbos , and a 6-speed all crammed into a tiny, M division-equipped package? Sounds like the bimmers of yester-year. But can the modern iteration of BMW deliver that? Slowly, the things that make BMW’s fun are being dialed out via a trillion little computers installed to make it the “ultimate driving machine” but it’s really just removing the driver from the road more and more. I really want this thing to drive like my E46 3er, but with more power and better handling with the same level of fun. Let’s just hope BMW doesn’t try to ride the “retro/heritage” crap into the ground in marketing the 1 Series and then make a soft, limp-wristed car like they have the upcoming M3.

8. The Aston Martin DBS: The Aston DBS = sex on wheels. Period. This is without a doubt in my mind, the most gorgeous, sporty, classy, fast whatever -superlative-you-want in years. Especially out of Aston! Under it’s new owners of David Richards and his uber auto consultants/ race team management company, Prodrive, I’d expect nothing less. Looking at this car makes me drool as I know in 30 years when I’m old and fat I’ll be cashing in my IRA and re-mortgaging my house to buy one because I love it so much. This defines what a GT car is and should be: luxurious and comfortable but when you bury your right foot, the sound from the back makes you want to record it on your iPod. This is a continent crusher in ever fashion of the word. I just want to climb into it and do laps around the globe stopping only for gas and maybe bathroom breaks. Maybe. Did I mention James Bond was the first owner of this car? Yeah, two billion cool points right there.

9. The Chevy Volt: Yes, it’s a Chevy so, yes, it’s American. But wait! Don’t turn away yet! This Chevy maybe the tip of a golden iceberg for GM (and the rest of the US manufacturers) need to get out of the financial red. It’s an entirely electric car and it looks fantastic to boot. I’m really proud of GM on this. They built a car that does what a Prius does, but better, and it looks 15 million times better. So, it can rival the Japanese in terms of technology and proves that alternative-energy source cars can look hot? Maybe the powers that be in Detroit aren’t completely out of touch after all.

10. Audi Q7 V12 TDI – SUV? I’m as surprised as you. But I love the idea of an Audi luxo-SUV that’s affordable ($100K or less-ish) and running a Le Mans-winning DIESEL engine. So it’s fast, turbo-charged and economical..kinda! This thing also looks like it’ll kill you for looking at it so that gives it all sorts of street cred. This seems to be a good hybrid for what Audi does best: all-wheel traction and Le Mans-winning engine technology. I’d drive one and I hate SUVs.

So, there you have it. It looks like 2007 is a good year for cars, especially us petrol heads. As the horsepower wars continue to steam forward with no signs of letting up, the petrol heads are thankful for the over abundance horsepower in small vehicles and even the heavy ones like the Audi. However, will we ever get to a point in the world where people can't drive their kids to school without having to use a 7.0-liter engine pumping out 600 HP? Disagree with my choices? I wanna hear what everyone else thinks!