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 FilmTools.com 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 FilmTools.com. 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.

(Source: AUSRingers.com)

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: PureAddict.com)

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?