Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Best F1 Documentary You've Seen.

I happened to find this on Vimeo after watching the Lotus Goes Turbo video on Axis of Oversteer.

It's an excellent, well-shot and well-narrated movie about Formula One in the mid-1970's - a time many consider to be the pinnacle of F1. A time when racing was simply man and machine, a tenuous grasp on advanced technologies and sponsorship dollars and the grip of Bernie Eccelstone had yet to ruin the sport.

This particular movie seems to stretch from roughly 1970 to the 1973 season from what I can tell. It centers around Formula One and Jackie Stewart but most of the time is spent with Francois Cevert and the up and coming world championship. Sadly, we all know how the ultimate race of the '73 ended for Cevert.

Beyond just Francois, they have interviews with a handful of other important racers of the time such as Mike Hailwood and Peter Revson and show a very dark side of racing - one that seems to be a race car driver against the world, all alone. What's most shocking is that many of the drivers that were interviewed throughout the documentary are no longer alive - many killed on track.

Aside from the insight into the drivers, it has an amazing amount of period footage at Watkins Glen, Montjuic, Monaco, and Monza and many other tracks. If you're an F1 fan - especially one who likes the heyday of racing - check out this video, you'll not be disappointed and this is an excellent way to burn time on a Sunday morning.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey Day and a Tribute to Jim Clark

Happy Turkey Day, everyone!

I'm about to enter round 2 of turkey day festivities but before I did I wanted to post this up. It's an hour long tribute to Jim Clark and does a wonderful job chronicling his career throughout F1, Formula 2 and sports car racing. It has a lot of period footage of about 3 or 4 seasons from Formula 1 and some great information about his foray into the Indianapolis 500 with Lotus and the challenges that kept the team from taking further victories.

If you're tired of football or ready to pass out from too much turkey - this is a good little clip to watch and catch up on the career of one of the best racing drivers of all time.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Being on Team McLaren in 1975

I came across this little 25 minute video on Vimeo and thought it would be interesting to pass along. It's a fairly intimate look at the Team McLaren during the '75 season with Emerson Fittipaldi in his last year with McLaren and the secondary driver Jochen Mass - both at the wheel of the M23 powered by the Cosworth DFV. Ironically, this would be Fittipaldi's last season with McLaren before he would leave to endure an unsuccessful stint on his brother Wilson's Fittipaldi Automotive team. The following season, McLaren would pick up rogue driver James Hunt who would battle down to the wire to beat Ferrari 312T driver Niki Lauda by a single point during the typhoon of a grand prix at Mt. Fuji.

What's especially interesting, though sometimes a little slow, is that the video provides tremendous insight into the minds of Fittipaldi and Mass in the moments before a race as they mentally prepare for automotive combat. As I said, there are times where the video is a bit slow and doesn't move but having basically 25 minutes of in-pit time from 1975 is an important view into the manner in which the teams were run 35 years ago. From what I can tell, much of the racing sequences were filmed at Interlagos on a few years after it was added to the calendar - and the team and drivers appear fairly lackadasical by comparison to when the team fell under the iron fist of Ron Dennis bringing it into today's iteration of Team McLaren.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Self Promotion: My Nikon D5000 for sale

I just picked up a factory-refurbished Nikon D90 camera body off of eBay and as a result I'm selling my Nikon D5000 and related gear. The D5000 was just recently discontinued - however, noted photographer and Nikon enthusiast Ken Rockwell thought so much of the D5000 that he called it the "For the best possible camera for just about anything, fun or serious, I'd get the Nikon D5000."

The D5000 is an excellent, highly capable camera - I just happened to want something that gave me a bit more hands-on control of settings. The D5000 is currently listed on eBay for a starting bid of $624.99. With the D5000 body you also get:

- Nikon D5000 12.3MP camera body
- two-battery Opteka battery grip with vertical shutter release button for portrait shots and increased control
- 4 D5000/Opteka grip-compatible rechargeable batteries(these work great! used 2 for almost the entire Petit Le Mans shooting 1,800 photos and 1 hour of video)
- Battery charger
- AV output cables
- All books and documentation
- USB to PC/Mac adapter
- Nikon camera strap
- Nearly unused Nikon camera bag
* An Nikon 18-55mm VR lens is also available for a bit more money if someone is interested

The camera has only 12,661 shutter clicks since I bought the camera around March/April of 2010. I shot the entire Petit Le Mans video and my photos on it. You can find the Flickr set of the Petit Le Mans photos and the video of Petit Le Mans below. Feel free to contact me regarding any questions!

A 10 Minute History of the Porsche 917

I've hit a bit of a slump with content and seem to continually fuel things with Porsche content. Unfortunately, I don't seem to be letting up as I found this clip about the Porsche 917. I've loved this car since I first saw it and not surprisingly due to the McQueen movie Le Mans. While 10 minutes may seem like not much time to cover the prolific history of the 917 - the hosts manage to quite a lot with little time.

The clip covers the development of the 917K and 917LH a bit but has wonderful insight from 917 drivers Brian Redman and Richard Attwood. What's especially interesting is to listen to Attwood's account of the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans and how he and the team made the conscious decision to stick with the smaller 4.5 liter flat-12 engine over the larger, more powerful 4.9 liter flat-12. In the end, the tortoise beat the hare as the smaller displacement 917K of Hermann and Attwood was reliable enough to go the distance and take the overall win at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

The clip also goes into detail about Porsche's move into Can Am to steal the show from the dominant McLaren's with a turbocharged 917/10 putting out a frightening almost 1,000HP. Additionally, a bit of insight is given to Porsche's test of the 917/30 at Talladega with Mark Donohue behind the wheel to set the FIA record for average closed circuit speed record of about 221 mph. Sadly, Donohue, a very accomplished racer, would be killed a few days later in what was initially thought to be a minor injury in at Austrian Grand Prix.

Hope you enjoy it! Shame that outrageous cars like this are no longer fit to race - no modern racers seem to come close to the brutal, relentless 917.

Porsche 917 from Mee on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nearly 50 Years and the Sound Doesn't Change

I found this up on Chris Harris' blog on evo's site. Harris and two other driver's competed in the 1,000km of Nurburgring this year. I assume in some sort of historics race prior to the actual competition. However, that's irrelevant.

This video is a bit of a testament to the 911 and it's lovely flat-6 engines. They've managed to sound the same and retain its original configuration for 47 years. Basically, the 911 still kicks ass - just check out this nearly 10 minute clip of Harris hooning a 911 ST around the ring. Enjoy the music!

(Source: evo uk)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I have other interests outside cars: Art!

It counts right? I mean, just because it's artwork of motorsport and cars doesn't make it not artwork.

I found this gem of a site today while looking at the TeamSpeed forums. It's personal blog/site of artist Miha Furlan who, quite obviously, has an incredible talent for capturing late 1960's through mid-1980's race cars. I particularly love the sort of "Pop!" factor his art work has looking almost cartoonish but with incredible detail and oozing with style. He manages to make the canvas look as though it was moving.

The best thing I could compare it to are the colorful, sexy Grand Prix posters of the early years of Formula One but with even better cars and more exotic locales.

Miha also has an eye for cars with iconic paint schemes like the Gulf Porsche 917's, The JPS Lotus 72D's, Martini tri-color Porsche 935 and Lancia Integrale, and the teapot Ligier JS. Basically, if you love the golden age of motorsport then there is undoubtedly a picture for you. What's most impressive is that it seems he manages to create such beautiful imagery through only colored pencils and markers!

I'm angling with the wife to possibly land some of his works of art as Christmas gifts for me. Guys, I recommend you do the same!

I've included a few of the photos of Miha's work below definitely work a look!

Porsche 908/30 vs. Ferrari 512 @ Targa Florio

Ligier JS5

Ferrari going for it on the Targa Florio

Giles & Jody at Monaco in '79

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Way of the Future

While I was in the BMW pits at the 2010 Petit Le Mans, I happened to wander down near the Porsche pits and ran into JF Musial of Tangent Vector while he was shooting video for Porsche of North America (or just Porsche). I spoke to him briefly about his camera rig and it turns out he was using a Canon 7D to shoot the video listed below.

This Porsche GT3 R Hybrid is of particular interest to me as it bucks the trend of the normal, battery-based hybrid in favor of a fly wheel-based system. While at the race, I was aware that Porsche had run the GT3 R Hybrid as a bit of a test bed from all they've learned from the Williams KERS system( incredibly much like the one they were co-developing with BMW during their F1 partnership days!) but I wasn't very aware of the technical prowess this car manages to sport. While the hybrid system apparently only weighs an additional 103 lbs. ( a relatively small weight) it can return up to 163HP in additional power when charged up to the 4 motors Porsche fixed to each wheel. From my understanding, Porsche fixed the 4 motors to the wheels as a way of letting them add torque vectoring to the GT3 R Hybrid. Thus, they can now somewhat regulate how much power is focused on specific wheels to help increase cornering speeds and straight-line acceleration.

Overall, the GT3 Hybrid did OK for its first outing on the track in the United States by placing 18th overall in the race. Pretty impressive considering it was leading the 24 hours of Nurburgring when it has major mechanical issues. As a hybrid, the GT3 R is fairly innocuous towards motorsport fans. When it passed me numerous times at my perch on the track all I could perceive was the sonorous sound of of a Porsche flat-6. That's all I wanted too, so if this is the way of the future, I think I could be onboard for that. Check out this great technical write-up of the Porsche GT3 R Hybrid as they go into much better detail of how the GT3 differs from a Prius hybrid.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

BMW RLR - Video Straight from the Pits!

I posted a write-up and video of my experiences at the 2010 Petit Le Mans embedded with BMW RLR. The race was absolutely incredible. For those that enjoy motorsports, the GT2 class of the ALMS has provided non-stop action between BMW, Ferrari, Porsche, Jaguar and Chevy. Many of the nine races this season have been insane sprint races requiring the teams all be on-point all the time as the cars were all setting lap times within seconds of each other.

I compiled this video that highlights the experiences in the pits with BMW RLR as the M3 GT's rocketed 'round Road Atlanta. It also captures some of the low points such as the #90 car being falsely penalized and then a mechanical issue with the starter motor that resulted in a loss of major laps. Thankfully, the 90 car bounced back and got out on track to work with the 92 car to find a fourth place finish. How did the finish come about? Well, the Risi Ferrari managed to run out of fuel on the last lap - two corners from the finish line giving the BMW M3 GT room to jet past and take the Manufacturer's Championship from Porsche by a single point.

The video was shot with a Nikon D5000 and a handful of Nikon/Nikkor lenses. Overall, I'm happy that the video came together but still disappointed with the Nikon video mode over that of rival Canon's. I'm contemplating a Nikon D7000 with autofocusing and full HD video or a Canon T2i or 60D. Any constructive criticisms are appreciated!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Just back from Petit Le Mans

Porsche GT3 Hybrid, originally uploaded by Murph32256.

Working on a big piece for BMWBlog - but I should have content up here afterward! Hats off to BMW for a great season and interesting to see this Porsche Hybrid running as an "exhibition" of sorts.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I'm a bit of a fan...

of this car. It's the BMW M8 Prototype.

We finally finished up our article on it after BMW nonchalantly dropped it on everyone during a press junket about, of all things, their future micro city cars and other "green" initiatives. Horatiu of BMWBlog was working to get this article turned around and I chipped in a little to help compile all of the information into one spot.

The M8 Prototype was rumored to have 550HP - though that's never been officially confirmed. The car was pared down to the basics - manual controls, lightweight seats and materials, alcantara interior and a six speed manual. The car was ultimately sidelined due to the economy and the United States having only a lukewarm reception to the initial E31 850i. Even after the Bavarians introduced the cheaper 840i with a version of the M60/2 V8 sales did not grow tremendously.

This thing was the pinnacle of M GmbH and it was aborted at the absolute last minute. It's legacy? A few old "press" photos of a complete car floating around for 15 or so years and a heavily detuned version in the guise of the 850CSi. What a shame this wasn't available.

The video is below comes from an iPhone 4 as Horatiu didn't have a video camera on him. First foray into editing film since completing one film project in high school. That said, constructive criticism is welcome as I'd love to improve upon it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Day at the 1967 Glen

There isn't much to not like about this. Jim Clark, no guard rails, Watkins Glen and pre-advertising campaign F1 cars. The only think to not like is ridiculous jazz flute in the background but I guess it's period music - reminds me of Grand Prix!

Automotive Addicts 9/11/10

635CSi, originally uploaded by Murph32256.

This is the rear deck of (obviously) a 635CSi that was in incredible shape - I think the color is Bronzit or something along those lines. It was a greay looking shark, though.

Click the link on the pic above to jump over to the rest of the gallery. I've been playing with black and white pictures and tried to use an old manual Nikon 24mm f/2.8 lens with OK results - using a manual lens in a digital age proves to be harder than expected but when you get it right it's worth it!

Jumped the Shark - the Black Shark

There are two things going wrong with this picture.

1. It's matte black - a trend quickly getting played out.
2. It's yet another company or "tuner" who's taken the most basic concept of modifying cars: a new exhaust, 20 inch "performance wheels", modified suspension and custom seats. This is a modified Audi S5 as dressed up by SR Auto Group as an Audi S5 Typhon.

I know it sounds whiney but I just don't get it. It seems like every day another company turns up as a supposed tuner just because they've slapped bigger wheels and brakes on a car. I guess I don't understand how these cars are tuned when they're doing upgrades that, with the use of the internet, most anyone could do themselves.

Also, it appears that if you're going to tune a car - it is a prerequisite that you provide it with a matte finish. I thought it looked good for a while, but after seeing everything from a Honda Civic all the way up to a McLaren-Mercedes SLR carry the paint then perhaps it is a bit played out.

What happened to the days of Alpina, Ruf, and AMG(prior to being absorbed by Benz) when to tune a car you had to truly improve performance and set it apart from the pack. These days, splash of carbon fiber on the visible spots, oversized wheels, and some silly custom paint and an exhaust and you have a "tuned car."

This type of tuning reminds me guys at the local gym who only work out glamor muscles so they look impressive but don't have the stones to back it up.

If you're going to take the time to design something for performance and speed - make sure you don't build a car that has only moderate abilities beyond the base model and mated to a suspension/wheels that will crush your bones at every expansion joint. Seems silly but this still isn't anything more than a dressed up boulevard cruiser.

(Source: Autoblog)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Do I need a reason?

It's a P3/4 - probably one of the best looking race cars of all time. period.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Cheese that is Vintage BMW Commercials

I always like seeing period car commercials - it's an interesting view into both products and marketing of the period. A few months ago Jalopnik posted a late 1960's Pontiac commercial showing how scary it must be for women to cars.

These few below are German market BMW commercials which are beyond cheesy. I happened to stumble across them on YouTube and, honestly, they're the first time I've ever seen BMW period commercials from the late 1960's/1970's models. However, the themes conveyed proliferate BMW advertising of today - a big German saloon(2800CS) is the road-going equivalent of the then-new private jets.

Need a sexy lady? Live near train tracks ? Great, slide on over to your local BMW dealer and snag the uber-rare 2002 cabrio( thanks to Baur!) and wait for the next AMTrak to come through - you'll have Bavarian babes in literally no time whatsoever.

Next up on the agenda? Jet down to Monaco for some light shopping - I can't speak German but the gist seems to be that "that big Six engine is eine gem!"

This last one I don't know a single 2002 owner who would drive the classic on the beach!

While the commericals are a bit ridiculous it's important to remember that these commercials helped to sell the models that brought BMW back from the edge of collapse. "Die Neue Klasse." Without these cars, BMW likely wouldn't exist today, cars like the M3, M5 or 6 Series would be cruising the streets. The days of the M10 4 cylinder and the M30 Big Six - clearly the advertising worked as these cars put the Bavarians on a path that would lead them to eventually over take Mercedes-Benz.

All videos found in Thalmanac's YouTube page

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jacky Ickx you old motorboatin' son of a....

This is great for the RS4 content - but then hilarious because it looks like the 6-time Le Mans winner is motorboatin' ... or making engine noises so perhaps he's lost his mind. Either way, it's good stuff.

AUDI RS4 from carl bouteiller on Vimeo.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Why Don't More People Mention This?!

RUF CTR3, originally uploaded by StephenHall.

I'm surprised I don't see more of this car.

It's a specially made mid-engined sports car made by the extremely reputable Porsche tuner Ruf. Ruf is a smaller, family-owned tuner based out of Germany(of course) and has a history of taking standard Porsche models and bumping them into the extremes with cars like the Yellow Bird based off of the 930 and the 993-based CTR2. The Yellow Bird managed to topple competitors such as the F40 and 959 back in it's day - while maintaining the reliability of a standard 911.

The CTR3 should be turning more heads. It spits out a mind-bending 700HP from a twin-turbocharged 3.8L flat-6, keeps the engine amidship and holds a lower weight of just under 3,100 lbs. Power is regulated via six-speed sequential 'box and the interior is comfortably built from a 911 (along with nose).

It's an interesting car - two parts 911, one part Boxster and a dash of Carrera GT plus one of the best Porsche tuners you can find. Why don't more people acknowledge this car? Ruf is (like Alpina) essentially a manufacturer in its own right under German law.

One more to add to the wishlist. Quick video below of some rolling shots and exhaust notes - difficult to find high quality video of this car.

First Test Car Received: BMW 128i 'Vert

We hit Miami this weekend for video and photos plus a review of a 2010 128i Convertible. The littlest BMW we picked up came with a six-speed manual, the obligatory Sports Package, and (I think) Cold Weather Package. The color scheme was Titanium Silver on red leather - I think it looks great but it seems to be an acquired taste for some. The dark burl wood trim really adds a nice touch. This is my first press car for BMW and BMWBlog and I'm quite thankful for the opportunity to live with a car for a week to get a better impression of it.

Anyway, Saturday was crazy - woke up about 3:45AM and drove to Miami and arrived by about 9:20AM. We started out working off of Brickell Ave and Biscayne Blvd. That transitioned to the Old Grand Prix circuit which is sadly beginning to be taken apart for another park. It was a cool location to see -especially the old curbing of the circuit. We took up shooting at this place thanks to Jeff Ross.

After that we did a few runs over an overpass and headed towards South Beach - afterward landing in Key Biscayne off of the Rickenbacker Causeway. Beautiful area - I was there earlier in the morning before the sun started to beat down on the city and I've literally never seen more bicyclists in my life. There are hundreds traversing the bridge and water front.

In the process of all of this, I learned one important lesson: modern Toyota's are complete garbage. I've not driven something this bad in probably years. It is a bland, dull brand that has become faceless and without a personality. Bring back the Supra - have a pulse again, Toyota. The gas mileage was good - probably 32 to 36 miles per gallon - though it seemed like the tank emptied very quickly. The only plus I found of the Corolla was the slab-sided designs made it easier to mount cameras.

After we wrapped everything up for the day - I shot back to Jacksonville and kept the top down most of the way back and I think I might want a convertible now. More to follow on living with the 128i after we get our piece together for BMWBlog.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Eau Rouge

The Nurburgring is known for being a challenging track due to its over 100 turns, narrow width and dramatic elevation changes - even areas where modern race cars can still find all 4 wheels completely off the track before landing and heading straight into a braking zone.

A few kilometers away, in Belgium there is a much smaller track with a single corner that is considered one of the most challenging in all of modern motorsports: Eau Rouge at the classic track of Spa-Francorchamps. Eau Rouge is a massive left-to-right turn starting from just beyond the pit wall at the base of a hill and spiraling upward before coming to Raidillon - a blind left corner requiring you throw the wheel over, keep the throttle on and hope that nobody ahead of you shunted and that you'll have the right line. Many times, driver's do not commit or make a mistake and Eau Rouge/Raidillon bites - hard.

In the video above, Stefan Bellof eerily talks about how to approach Eau Rouge just prior to the 1985 endurance race at Spa in which he and his mentor, Jackie Ickx, tied up their 956 and 962, respectively, and the resulting accident at the top of Eau Rouge ultimately claimed Bellof's life in the prime of his career. Below is a clip of what happens when driving at even something as toned down as a track day when Eau Rouge snaps on someone - though with better than expected results.

Formula One is at Spa this weekend so I recommend tuning in for it. Coverage should be on SPEEDTV( our best option Stateside). The last few years of F1's return to Spa have made for very interesting and highly competitive racing(2008's Kimi vs. Lewis anyone?) and with the points being so close right now - things are bound to be compelling this weekend.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Video a go-go

Heading to Miami this weekend for a car video shoot. We're going to try out a few new ways to shoot video for the first time using a Nikon D5000 DSLR. As we're trying to add a more professional flair, we picked up some gear from on loan to us for about 2 weeks to accomplish what we need to shoot.

The photo is a quick shot of my D5000 with the Zeikos battery grip and 35mm f/1.8 lens on one of the many configurable mounts from Clearly, the mounts stick to nearly everything and can attach to a variety of surfaces both concave and convex. After receiving a massive black, heavy-duty plastic container with the equivalent of an adult-sized erector-set. I did a quick test run of the gear last night and here are a few quick videos I took at 720p with the rigs. Keep in mind these have had no post work done and were quick set ups so they're less than ideal. However, you get the idea. Watch this space for more next week on the shoot and what we did. So far, I would highly recommend anyone who's interested in automotive photography invest in gear from Film Tools!

Keep in mind, the initial video is done only with a single mount so more vibration was present.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Quick and to the Point with an E30 M3

Incredible video - very to the point clip of a driver literally attacking the 'Ring with a now vintage E30 M3 racer. Incredible the amount of speed the 25 year old E30 can produce with only 4 cylinders. However, it's S14 engine is a truncated version of the epic and venerable M88 BMW six cylinder.

Keep an eye out towards the middle to last three-fourths of the video as it would appear this M3 is Porsche 997-hunting as well.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Stratos: Part Due

Usually, I strongly dislike retro-styled cars. It shows an approach to the design process which is a bit hacked and could be perceived as a bit of a weak attempt to cash in on a brand icon well passed its years. However, there are a few choice vehicles that have managed to not jump the shark in their styling. Cars like the Z8, Ford GT and the one-off Glickenhaus P4/5 - throw a Fiat 500 or MINI Cooper in for good measure. In my mind - these cars have managed to take design cues from historic models added the right mix of modern style to strike a balance of the old and new.

Lancia, maker of all things boring these days from Italy, has delved into their own history books to pull out a little mid-engined gem that won the World Rally Championship 3 years in a row during the mid-1970's. The little Italian car maker has dug into its bag of few remaining tricks to pull out a throw-back model to the amazing Bertone-designed Stratos. Originally, the Statos was a giant leap forward in car design with a very open front windscreen, mid-mounted V6 from the Dino(read first Ferrari V6) and a particularly stumpy wheelbase.

In looking at the modern one - I love it. It's literally just a reinterpretation of the original Stratos. It's a completely hacked design but I love it - perhaps that speaks to the original design of the 1970's Stratos but its a very moving car. What's even better is that it will be built on the now extinct Ferrari F430 chassis with the rumor circulating that the V8 of the 430 finding it's way into the middle of the body of the new Lancia. So, you have nearly 500HP, a very short wheelbase and achingly beautiful design? Kudos to Lancia for building this kind of car in a down economy at a point in which their remaining product line suffers from the lack of personality the Stratos naturally exudes. That takes some serious balls!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Weekend Car Show

Lotus Espirit Turbo, originally uploaded by Murph32256.

Good car show this weekend - a lot of variety to boot. A 430, a handful of 911's, a few NSX's, a handful of BMW's ranging over about 20 years, a few Z06's, and my personal favorite, a Basalt Black on Red Porsche 997 Turbo S.

Also saw this Esprit Turbo, not sure on the year but I assume it is late 1970's to early 1980's. Either way, beautiful car. I've posted up a few of the pics I took. Trying to practice prior to shooting some new photos/video in Miami coming up.

Thanks to Automotive Addicts as always for hosting the car show (every second Saturday of the month at Tinseltown) and a link to the few photos I took are here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Skittles of Cars

If you've read two posts of this site then you should probably know I love the BMW E46 M3. The first time I saw one was in early 2001 while scouting out colleges in Atlanta. It was sunset and I was on the way to dinner with family in Buckhead when I saw a Laguna Seca Blue pulling out of the Barnes & Noble across from Lennox mall. The bright blue paint was muted by the fading light but picked up the reflection of the light yellow and red skyline across it's lines. I immediately fell in love.

However, I was ashamed of my love for Laguna Seca Blue as it became a very polarizing color for many with the color earning the nickname "Smurf" Blue. As a result, when picking colors for my own car - I've erred towards conservative colors so as to not offend and maintain resale - hence Orient Blue for my first E46 and Silver Gray for my second.

But, as I refine my taste in cars, I find myself drawn much more to these loud colors - particularly because they typically offer up a color that lends to the history of the car and the brand. Laguna Seca Blue actually comes from the track of the same name in California.

Other companies have similar paint schemes - while it may seem hokey, if I had the money to buy some ridiculous machinery I would spring for the colors that really set itself apart from even from the upper crust of the motoring world. As a result, I put together a showing of cars that carry those few colors that, yes, maybe questionable but still manage to catch the essence of the car.

Signal Green Porsche - A throwback color to the 1973 Porsche Carrera RS 2.7

Who could forget Gulf Blue on a Porsche? If you don't know why this color scheme is important then buy a Prius. (Source: automotive-photo-by-ju)

This color hooked me on first site - Laguna Seca Blue (aka Smurf Blue) (Source:

Suzuka Grey via quattro GmbH - named after the famous Japanese circuit. (Source: oskarbakke)

Papaya Orange - if this isn't enough that it is good enough to adorn the McLaren F1 - Bruce McLaren himself picked this car out in the late 60's for his team color when he broke out to form Team McLaren. (Source: Autobellisima)

Techno Violet - who says purple is feminine? Prince would disagree - so would M GmbH(Source: Azuremen)

Mean Green 2011 Ford Focus RS( Source: egoistrs)

Red. Ferrari. (Source: EB.Photography)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Watch the top clip first...

Seriously, aside from the name of the clip - would you ever expect that sort of noise to come out of that sort of vehicle?

Sadly, this isn't a production car but simply a prototype, probably something the engineers came up with after the 1999 Le Mans win with the BMW V12 LMR. I've driven the current X5 M and I was impressed by the speed of huge truck and the twin-turbo V8 churning out 550HP. However, with a 700HP on tap from the same V12 that happened to win the 1999 Le Mans. Hence the X5 Le Mans.

Hans Stuck - when he was still in the employ of BMW took this beast out and beat on it in the video below. It's a shame this never reached production - certainly a car ahead of its time considering in 1999 the car enthusiasts would have never thought a truck would end up at one point in time as one of the fastest, most agile M cars available.

In addition to the massive V12 this particular X5 benefited from tremendous weight savings through aluminum panels, lighter high-bloster seats, and use of carbon fiber. It is rumored that Herr Stuck managed a 7:49 time on the Nurburgring putting it 1 second faster than the M3 CSL and over 15 seconds faster than the E92 M3. Nuts.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Obligatory Steve McQueen Post

If you're into cars - especially older racing cars - you're required to idolize Steve McQueen. Period.

Le Mans is probably one of my favorite movies and to anyone who doesn't enjoy racing it would be the most illogical choice imaginable. No dialogue for about the first 30 minutes, no real depth to characters, minimal soundtrack and a very thin plot are usually ingredients for garbage.

However, those things, applied to a historic race along with the vision of a film legend and part-time professional racer lead to nothing but greatness. Le Mans the film consists mainly of 917k's, Lola's, and 512's screaming down the original, non-chicaned Mulsanne Straight. It's glorious - but only for the few who get cars and can appreciate McQueen's own loyalty and accuracy to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Selvedge Yard has posted up a few pics from behind the scenes during filming of Le Mans. As you can see below, Steve is enjoying a day at the track and his #20 917k while Lee Katzin(director of Le Mans) has the most awkward photo of him taken. Ever.

Definitely worth checking out - I hope to be back to normal posting this weekend!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

...What's Black or Grey, Fast All Over...

I've been slammed at work and/or traveling for work so I've had less time to post this past week or so. However, as a quick post - a commercial I've never seen of my favorite car. My god I would love to own one of these - guess I'll have to pick up an M3 Competition Package and some CSL parts!

More posts coming soon!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Taking a Luxury Car Racing

This post is straight-up due to Motoring Con Brio and the post about "A Smattering of Racy Mercs." I was particularly fascinated by picture of the C107 500 SLC shown below.

I like the fact that someone took a car like the 500 SLC and managed to take it racing and be quite competitive at that. Little did I know until watching this mini documentary below and doing some research that the SLC has a bit of racing pedigree in it. Keep in mind, the SLC was designed to waft executives and rich housewives around Beverly Hills or the Alpine Pass with grace and ease - not glide sideways across a rain-soaked rally stage.

Ironically, the same man behind the Red Pig that shocked the world at the 1971 24 Hours of Spa was behind the racing C107 - Erich Waxenberger. Waxenberger was a Mercedes-Benz engineer who thought up the original 300SEL 6.3 and then cooked up the recipe for the 500 SLC as a rally entry though having to take it out as a privateer car prior to Benz officially signing off on a program for it.

Waxenberger took the idea that the now obvious(and perhaps somewhat moot looking at their current state) Mercedes reliability could return dividends in long, reliability-driven racing. As a result, power was bumped up over the standard model, though most of the car was kept close to road-going spec, and the SLC began winning races. As early as 1977 the SLC was entered by Waxenberger with a quick win in the London to Sydney Rally in 280E guise, the 500 SLC was introduced by 1979 and competing in rallying across the world. The interesting fact was that the 5.0L V8's were homologation specials built by Mercedes in just enough quantities to satisfy homologation requirements. It is rumored that less than 100 of these SLC's exist for road-going consumption though nobody quite knows how many were made.

While this the SLC represents merely a blimp on the radar that is Mercedes motorsport involvement, it is great to see a big, illogical car competing in and actually winning in major events like the Paris-Dakkar rally. This car literally makes no sense for such application yet here it is - winning races. Perhaps the successes of the SLC were the inspiration behind the original design for the 190E's racing application?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Famous Quotes Across Automotive History

While I was looking for the Paul Newman photos I came across a quote I heard by Mr. Newman about 5 years ago during an interview on Leno. It's a great quote and something somewhat relatable for myself:
"the first thing that I ever found I had any grace in"

I thought it would be interesting to compile some quotes that I found about racing and cars in general. Some funny, some insightful, all interesting and indicative of the personalties of those who said it.

"Aerodynamics is for those who cannot manufacture good engines"
- Enzo Ferrari

"When I raced a car last it was at a time when sex was safe and racing was dangerous. Now, it's the other way round."
- Hans Stuck

"I will drive flat out all the time. I love racing."

"If someone said to me that you can have three wishes, my first would have been to get into racing, my second to be in Formula 1, my third to drive for Ferrari."
- Giles Villeneuve

"Racing, competing, it's in my blood. It's part of me, it's part of my life; I have been doing it all my life and it stands out above everything else."
-Ayrton Senna

"The racing driver's mind has to have the ability to have amazing anticipation, coordination, and reflex. Because of the speed the car goes."
-Emerson Fittipaldi

"The track is my canvas. My car is my pencil"
- Graham Hil

"Racing drivers have balls, unfortunantly, none of them are crystal"
- David Coulthard

Monday, July 26, 2010

MINI back to Rallying

Mini Cooper S Rally Car, originally uploaded by BenGPhotos.

Good news, MINI Cooper is rumored to be taking the plunge and re-entering the World Rallying Championship.

For a point of reference, a Mini Cooper S with a barely 1L 4-cylinder engine won the 1964, 1965 and 1967 Monte Carlo Rally beating out the likes of Porsche 911S's which were rear-wheel-drive and much more powerful. So, the British, tiny, front-drive car managed to beat the rear-engined beasts of Stuttgart.

That's the first important part of the story.

The second part is that BMW Group, who've revitalized the little Brit brand, have commissioned Prodrive to manage the MINI Cooper WRC team. That's even better news.

BMW and Prodrive previously worked together on an E30 M3 rally car in the late 1980's which was a dangerous little package of the homologated S14-powered E30 M3 on the Monte Carlo Rally - a rear-wheel-drive car in the golden days of all-wheel-drive. While the M3 excursion wasn't incredibly successful Prodrive moved onto bigger and better things with Subaru starting in 1990.

With a Subaru Legacy and then the more successful Impreza and driver talent like Colin McRae, Prodrive had a lot resources at their disposal for potential wins. Three world championships later, Prodrive's ability to bring in wins anchored their place in rallying history. Lackluster performance in later years resulted in Subaru pulling out of the WRC and leaving Prodrive without a partner for professional competition.

However, re-partnering of Prodrive and BMW via MINI could result in some interesting additions to the WRC, which has suffered as of late after Mitsubishi and Subaru pulled out due to economic pressures. Insiders believe that the MINI Countryman would serve as the basis for the rally car along with the potent 1.6L turbocharged 4 banger. If the partnership moves forward, expect an announcement sometime next Spring.

Personally, I am looking forward to it as this should provide an interesting racing series and a renewed venue for BMW to demonstrate its strong product lines - assuming MINI and Prodrive move forward with a partnership!.

Evidence of things that could be when BMW and Prodrive combine? I point you to exhibit A:

Source: BMWBlog via Autosport

2 Parts British with a Splash of Italian

Thanks to the boys at Motoring Con Brio I'm starting to learn to appreciate Alfa's more than I had previously.

Being a male under 30 years old I'm by default a fan of Aston Martins, Land Rover Defenders and, of course, a monumental fan of 007.

This clip of the prologue to the latest Bond film, Quantum of Solace, thankfully has all four and I can forgive the rest of the movie for being mediocre at times simply for the three minute, thirty second piece of film that kicks off with the roar of an the Aston Martin DBS and ends with the destruction of two Alfa Romeo 159's, a Land Rover Defender 90 and a good portion of a DBS. Ironically, the end of the scene has shots reminiscent of On Her Majesty's Secret Service from 1969 which also was the only time an original Aston Martin DBS model was featured in a Bond film and the last time a DBS was driven by 007 for 37 years.

(Photo: themalvernhills)

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I just stumbled onto this from Wippermann's great collection of YouTube videos. Brunswick Films, the producer of this new series, looks to have quite a few interesting clips and unseen footage so I'm greatly looking forward to what this film will hold.

It looks to be a retrospective of a handful of incredible Grand Prix drivers, many of whom were World Champions. A number of comments on YouTube bring up the great point that there are drivers left off of the list - some of which still living that could have been included. So far a quick but incomplete list looks to be Sheckter, Stewart, Peterson, Hunt, Fittipaldi, Andretti, Lauda and Hakkinen.

Watch the clip below up until the end - the retort from James Hunt is worth waiting the entire 2:41 to see it. Check out the clip below - as I see more on this series I will definitely be posting it!

History Lesson: The German Grand Prix(s)

Tomorrow kicks off the 2010 German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring located near, you guessed it, Hockenheim, Germany. The Grand Prix of Deutschland has, for better or worse, been held at the Hockenheimring since 1977 after the shocking 1976 German Grand Prix held at the Nurburgring where Niki Lauda had a suspension failure that pitched his Ferrari 312T into the Armco at Berkwerk resulting in a horrible fire that nearly killed him. The accident reaffirmed what many had thought (ironically the drivers nearly striked that weekend because of safety concerns - led by Lauda - but ultimately didn't) that the Nurburgring wasn't safe and as a result it was never used again for the German Grand Prix - with one small, exception in 1985 at the then-new GP circuit that excluded much of the original track. Many of the problems were to blame on the poor response of the track marshals and crews as fellow drivers had to pull Niki from his burning Ferrari and only a safety marshal with in Porsche 911 and single fire extinguisher was on the scene a first few minutes after the accident.

The Nurburgring has reappeared on the roster of venues for Grand Prix racing but only in the constantly changing European Grand Prix and only on the GP portion of the fabled circuit.

That's a shame too - some pretty important races were held on the old Nurburgring. In 1968, Jackie Stewart had what he would call his "best" Grand Prix of his career when he stormed - literally - to victory when rain struck the race and the Nurburgring was described as "having rivers across the track" in some places. Scary stuff but the scary part was the attrition rate and how much slower everyone was behind Stewart. A handful of cars spun off in the rain while everyone else slowed down so much so that Sir Jackie crossed the finish line a full 4 minutes before second placed Graham Hill caught up. Much of the field being minutes behind that or a full lap down. Stewart pulled off this feat with a broken wrist - which is unheard of in modern racing. You can read his account of it here.

The Nurburgring would go on to scare the hell out of Grand Prix drivers for a few more years until the fateful 1976 race in which Lauda's Ferrari wrecked, caught fire and nearly took Niki to the grave. He managed to fight back from the edge and get into a car at Monza 6 weeks later to come 4th in the Italian Grand Prix - with a head covered in bandages, blood seeping through where the top of his ear used to be. Everyone's probably seen the video of Lauda's crash and the ensuing mayhem so instead of focusing on that, I've listed the video below of the incredible 1975 German Grand Prix where Herr Lauda launched a great start and led much of race until a tire puncture set the Ferrari 312T back in pace and sent him into the pits, allowing the other front-runners to slip past with Reutemann taking the win in his Brabham. Incredible footage of nearly the entire race! It's in 5 pieces so you can catch all of the clips as they're linked into each on YouTube. It's worth watching the entire first clip just to see the outright speed of the cars on track with the green, rolling hills of Germany as a very picturesque backdrop. Out of 26 cars to attempt to run the 1975 German GP - only 10 managed to finish!

I've also included this video of the 1969 German Grand Prix where you can see the advent of aerodynamics beginning to sneak onto the front and rear of grand prix cars. This is nothing but 10 minutes of footage and engine notes!

The 2010 German Grand Prix has Vettel at the front of the pack with Mark Webber just below and the Ferraris of Alonso and Massa and the McLaren twins bearing down on him. Should be interesting to see if Vettel can hold it together and keep the lead or will Webber step out of Sebastian's shadow again for the win.

I only hope that somehow the full Green Hell returns to the list of venues for Formula One.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Never in a million years...

Would I ever think I would say this: I want this Cadillac.

I grew up on imports - BMW's, Porsches, Benzes, Hondas - my great grandmother had a late 1980's Caddy Fleetwood Brougham. It was big, heavy, grey or blue and a depressing car.

That's more or less what my impression of Cadillac's have been for the past 20 or so years. For what its worth, the slow dissolution of General Motors from a world powerhouse to a troubled, scatter-brained manufacturer has spurred change within their organization. A result of that was a reinvigorated Cadillac Division - sharp creases up and down the body of typically stuffy cars, a youthful CTS and the V line of performance Caddy's.

Thankfully, the trend has continued and my impression of what was once one of the most luxurious cars in the world has improved. With the second generation of CTS, they've built a gorgeous sedan but more importantly, built this awesome wagon.

The picture above is actually of the CTS-V Wagon though the plain-jane one looks just as good. I saw one in traffic last night and was blown away by it - it looks fantastic - it really stands out from most other cars on the road right now. I will go full-on batshit crazy and say that the CTS Wagon, in terms of styling, manages to give the 3 Series Touring and A4 Avant a legitimate run for their money.

I never thought I would like an American car over a Bimmer but I think I actually might.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How did I miss this? Porsche - A Company of Race Cars

Not sure how I missed this last year when it appears to have been released but it's a great video nonetheless. It's a promotional video first and foremost but interesting to see the behind the scenes support that Porsche lends to customer cars such as the GT3 RSRs, etc.

Cool video of Weissach and a glimpse of some of their most important cars like the 917k, 904 and 550 Spyder. In watching this I get the feeling that its a sort of precursor to this commercial - which is probably one of the best, most poignant of any automobile manufacturer I've seen lately.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Remembering the Titan

Being a fan of both cars and cameras there is, of course, a lot of overlap. I found these photos from that, in a broad stroke, cover Paul Newman's racing career.

I have a lot of respect for Newman as a actor, driver and most important a humanitarian. He was one of the few actors who managed to strike a balance between being a celebrity and being a normal person - achieving a great deal in his life beyond just making good movies. Newman's career reached heights around the time that racing seemed to hit its stride and a handful of fellow actors like Steve McQueen and James Garner were finding their way into professional racing as well.

Newman took a separate route and practically made a second career out of it. He competed in racing across 4 decades from the early 1970's until the early 2000's in a variety of motor sports venues and series winning notable achievements:

- 2nd place in the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Porsche 935
- Competing in the 2004 Baja 1000 at age 79
- Achieving the status of oldest driver to be on a winning team at age 70 during a 24 Hours of Daytona
- Owned various teams in the SCCA and IndyCar

Some of this list would difficult for a professional driver to achieve in their own right. Newman was a class act and it's great to see some of these photos documenting such a fulfilling career - if I can find more I'll post them.

Rally, Rinse, Repeat

I'm starting to get the rally bug and I think I like it.

I found this gem on YouTube while researching Mk II Escorts from the 1970's. It's the Rallye Legend Boucles de Spa held annually in Belgium.

A reinvisioned event from the Rally Spa - it combines crazy off-road courses with classic rally cars spanning from the 1950's to the 1980's. The Rallye Legend Boucles de Spa is gaining momentum each year and as you can see from this video there are some unexpected cars throughout the 1080p glory that is this video. I spotted a Mercedes 450 SEC, Benz 190E 2.3, Porsche 911 sans rear hood, and an Audi Quattro among the unending line of Ford Escorts - oh and some Lancia action near the end around the 7:30 to 7:45 mark.

Monday, July 19, 2010

2011 WRX STi Prototype attacks Zee 'Ring

I guess it's rally day today on eBrake and I'm on a roll. I saw Autoblog's review of the 2011 Subaru WRX STI and ended up searching YouTube for some video of what this thing must sound like. Thankfully, with the slight revision for the 2011 model and the transition back to a sedan -the overall package seems more appealing than than the 2010. Personally, I like the hatchback but it wasn't rated highly against previous STI's.

That said, according to Autoblog the sedan is a big step up for 2011.

Moving on, I found this video by Car and Driver of the new STI sedan prototype crushing the Nurburgring. Subaru even called in Finnish WRC superstar Tommi Makinen to pilot the car. Ironically, Makinen cut his teeth and set his records primarily with the STI's biggest rival, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution blasting across different surfaces of countryside. However, that doesn't matter as he finished his last two years year in WRC with an Impreza, now does it?

Either way, enjoy the new STI in full attack mode at the hands of a master.

Apparently, I need Ford Escort Mk II Content

I think someone is trying to tell me something as I've encountered Ford Escort WRC content like 5 times today so I figured I would post this up for today while I work on a few other things.

I've been particularly interested in the Monster Ford Fiesta lately as I think it is a great looking car and will hopefully be competitive at the hands of Mr. Block. That led me to find this video of Ken Block's own Ford Escort Mk II.

For the record - I usually only drink Red Bull products and like their F1 teams - but in this case, I'll make an exception!

Friday, July 16, 2010

1970 Targa Florio - Twofer Feature

Seppi, Rodriguez, 908/3, Italian Countryside. No Questions? Good, sit down and watch!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Turbos are for people who can't build engines"

"Turbos are people who can't build engines."

- Keith Duckworth, co-developer of the Ford-Cosworth DFV

Makes me laugh when considering this car. Jalopnik was complaining yesterday that the F50 doesn't get enough love despite an ultra-light, stripped body and a massive F1-derived V12(you know, when manufacturers actually had technical developments in F1 outside of insane aerodynamics).

They stated the turbocharged V8-powered F40 got more of the attention and I think it should. It was the last time Enzo Ferrari would sign off on a car before his death. However, there is a car more rare than the F40 or F50 from the days of 1980's Group B madness: The 288 GTO Evoluzione.

Basically, the 288 is the precursor and basis for the F40 and even more rare considering a handful of 288's were built compared to over 1,000 F40's. Most interesting was that Ferrari himself signed off on a turbocharged car - nearly unheard of considering it was a big deal just for the Dino to carry a mid-mounted V6 - and the Dino wasn't even formally labeled a Ferrari.

However, the Evoluzione was an incredible car and with turbocharging in many levels of motor sports at the time - I feel that I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Duckworth - though he definitely knows his stuff.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


My buddy Malcolm posted a clip from the newest Top Gear - Episode 3 in which a Camaro SS is pitted against the brute-in-a-suit Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG.

His argument is that the Camaro SS isn't quite a comparable model to the E63 - perhaps with an M5 or RS6 normally serving in that position. I respectfully disagree.

Mercedes-Benz and the AMG branch have never been about setting fast laps or crushing the competition at the Nurburgring - it's just not their cup of tea. But what they can make are very comfortable cars that can go very fast with a bit of flair and style. So, price ignored, that puts the Camaro SS and E63 AMG right back up against each other. The Hamster seems to agree and he's quite the hoon himself despite Clarkson.

Besides, with cars like the C63 AMG on sale - you know AMG is only interested in cars that are hyperspace-capable and good at making 11's - remind you of any other big orange cars from the States?

See for yourself and decide.

Link to Top Gear - Damn non-embedded videos!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Function First: The G-Wagen

There's something very attractive about a purpose-built vehicle that manages to make its way into consumerdom for the rest of us to enjoy. Across history there have been some outstanding examples such as the Mercedes 190E 2.3 Cosworth and BMW M3 as homologation specials, The BMW 320Si, The McLaren M6 GT, The Lancia Stratos - good things come from tried and true race car platforms that trickle down to real-world application.

However, purpose-built vehicles aren't restricted to solely race cars. You can also have big, lumbering creatures like SUV's that come from a blue collar background. After all, SUV's were originally designed to carry gear and people for working in the field. My guess would be that larger, off-road vehicles tasked with work duty were simply "Utility Vehicles" and the "Sport" nomenclature was an afterthought. Want an example? The Hummer H1 serving quite successfully for the United States military prior to civilian-ready trucks.

One such vehicle is the Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen or G-Wagen for short - meaning cross-country or Jeep. The G-Wagen started life as a product development for military contracts secured by Benz in the 1970's .

What most people in the United States probably don't realize is Mercedes-Benz manufacturers a multitude of vehicles outside of luxury cars. Namely, work trucks, vans and true utility vehicles are also MB products in Europe and other parts of the world. It would seem that Europeans are less caught up on brand prestige than we are here in the U.S. of A.

I digress, the G-Wagen came into life as Mercedes-Benz's(well, Daimler-Benz) answer to the German military's need for a light infantry vehicle. With the design process initiated in 1972, the model was given official approval for production by Steyr-Daimler-Puch(now Magna Steyr) in Austria by 1975. It would not be until 1979 that a civilian-ready G-Wagen would go on sale in a variety of shapes such as short and long wheel-base and a cabrio variant. However, with hindsight being twenty-twenty it almost seems laughable that an SUV of the G's size would initially have engines generating only 72 and 150HP. What nobody could predict at the time was that the G-Wagen would go on to live past a normal life cycle and survive for 25 years - with only one major restyle transitioning from the W460 chassis to 463 chassis in 1990.

What made the G-Wagen so special was the part-time four-wheel-drive but after 1990 equipped with permanent four-wheel-drive, a fully locking center differential and differential locks on both axles. This sort of technical prowess gave the G the ability to navigate extreme angles of terrain. During the design process, the G-Wagen was designed specifically to be highly competent as an off-roader but also functional and with cross-functionality of implementing parts-sharing from the Mercedes-Benz industrial truck lines. The commercial/military spec G showed considerable success after its 1975 debut with countries in the Middle East, Europe and South America placing orders for Teutonic light military vehicle.

Why wouldn't they want a handful of G-Wagens to use? Benz put the original W460 through rigorous trials of 14,000km of sand testing in Tunisia - encountering and overcoming up to 100% inclines. Hence the hardcore, loyal following of off-roading G-Wagen enthusiasts world-wide who still like to push the envelope of what the truck is capable of.

Once the civilian W460 was released in early 1979, many in Europe picked up the trucks which were already serving double-duty as work trucks across the continent. Initially, Mercedes hesitated at pushing the W460 in the U.S. marketplace as the reception of the G was still somewhat uncertain and only handful were imported and federalized through the 80's grey market at exceptional cost. However, with the 1990 restyling of the W460 to the W463, U.S. consumers were privy to the more luxurious but technically competent G when permanent four-wheel-drive was adopted along with a decadentl- revised interior, suiting the prestige of the existing Benz sedan/convertible line. Unfortunately, outside of engaged enthusiasts, the G-Wagen has been recognized less in the U.S. for its ability and more for the brand conscious, look-at-my-expensive-SUV type of buyer.

If the upscale reputation the G enjoyed wasn't enough, Pope John Paul II and the Swiss Guard deemed to W460 a capable enough vehicle to serve as the Pope's personal transport vehicle when greeting the public across the globe, eventually being succeeded by the ML-Class Mercedes-Benz. It's name? The Popemobile, of course.

Whatsmore, the G-Wagen, at the hands of Jacky Ickx and a co-driver took a converted, V6 280 GE and won the historic Paris-Dakkar Rally in 1983. Not hard to understand why the Magna Steyr facility in Graz, Austria has agreed to continue production of the current W463 through 2015 - where the truck is still partially constructed by hand. The current iterations of the G-Wagen comes equipped with an AMG-derived, supercharged 5.0L V8 and 7-Speed automatic transmission to help accelerate the G55 AMG to 60MPH in under 6 seconds.

So, the G-Wagen has won races across some of the most brutal terrain on Earth, served under a man capable of inspiring over a billion people and has served strict duty from the sands of Tunisia to the jungles of Argentina to the valet lines of Beverly Hills - all of which it has successfully conquered. Not hard to imagine how a truck with such a diverse, winning history is still in production after 25 years. The G-Wagen stands as a testament that the thought, design and testing that goes into purpose-built, function-first vehicles can last the test of time and continue to be successful despite the ever-changing needs of the automotive frontier.

We're only hoping to see it run another 25 because vehicles like this only come around once in a lifetime.