Archive for December, 2008

Ferrari and a ho, ho, ho

Monday, December 29th, 2008

I am contemplating the end of the year and yet another Christmas morning lacking that giftbow topped Ferrari parked in front of my door.  All of us gear heads must have some fantasy of that sort that creeps into our car dreams.  The one facilitated by imagining a previously unknown rich uncle who has watched our development from afar and finally decided that we are worthy of a very special gift as a reward for our hours, days, or perhaps even months of “being good” in anticipation of the big day.  We all likely out grow Santa, but I bet I’m not the only one who has not out grown that gift wish.


The “gift wish” can probably be viewed as just another form of Garage Envy.  So what better thought to prompt my beginning of the lay out of my  “personal favorites” list.  You may recall (or if you wish, search the archives and read it) that I divide my favorites into three categories: retro, runner, and racer.  I thought I would “envy” some retro’s today, since that plays directly into my Ferrari fantasy.


Any twelve cylinder Ferrari would make my retro list.  The sound of one at speed is orgasmic and even at idle they make wonderful mechanical noises.  I lost a noticeable bit of my hearing cozying up to race versions of these machines at Sebring. Maybe, I should just settle for a sound track.  A 250 GTO would probably be my first pick and not coincidentally I have included one in my Automotive Sculptures Gallery at Might as well wish big, as these rare beauties go for well into the 8 figures.


A Lamborghini Miura has always been at the very top of my retro list.  And it is just for the pure beauty of its form.  I have yet to catch one during my photography expeditions in a pose that warrants entry into the Sculpture gallery.  But this auto paparazzi will eventually catch it.  The Miura was one of the first, if not the first, mid-engine sports cars, and it’s radical design caused a sensation in 1966.  Coincidentally, in 1966 Raquel Welch stared in the movie “One Million Years B.C.  The movie was crap, but the resulting classic poster hung in my bedroom along with a Miura poster for many of my bachelor years.  One on the wall and one on the ceiling over my bed; I’ll let you guess which was where.


I’ll end with a more practical/affordable favorite, the Series 1, Jaguar XKE coupe.  A truly passionate enthusiast could probably get a nice driver for the price of a new car.  The first models had the best lines and even had clear headlight covers to further smooth the look.  I never understood why the convertible sold better.  I saw the really sexy lines of the coupe overcoming the coolness factor of the convertible.  The clamshell hood opened to display an equally beautiful straight six engine.  Lots of complex mechanicals and bright metal surfaces, and an engine that your could actually see; none of those styled plastic covers that obscure the engines of today.  After I finish restoring my “67 Vette, the XKE may be my first retro purchase.


My list is long and continues to grow, but these three would keep me happy driving, wrenching, and polishing for a very long time.


Happy New Year everyone.  

Two hundred fifty three miles per hour – Where are we going with this?

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Automotive one-ups-manship has undergone a not so subtitle evolution in the last decade or so.  Used to be that 0-60 time was king, but with the introduction of the McLaren F1 in the 1991 and the setting of the fastest street legal top speed in 1994, things have changed.  Top speed in now king and 0-60 time is just another statistic.  And I think the world of the car enthusiast is poorer for it.


 Take a look at this Youtube video  Two hundred and fifty three miles an hour in the current fastest production car in the world, the Bugatti Veyron!  That is an insane speed.  The best I have ever done is a hundred miles an hour slower than that!  Now I think most enthusiasts would like to give it a try, but how?  That youtube run took an unbelievable amount of coordination and preparation to pull off.  Not the kind of thing you do on any sunny afternoon.  Lots of other cars, even Corvette, now have bragging rights for an over 200 mph top speed.  And car magazines are constantly churning out features on 200 mph match-ups.  Test drivers comment that everything changes for a production car when you get over something like 170 mph.  Of course everything changes at a much lower speed if you are on a public road; which is what these cars are built for.


 Bragging rights are nice; but, as with owning a Rolex or a Mont blanc pen, what more can you do with it than you can with a more ordinary model?  On the other hand, 0-60 time is something an enthusiast can exercise practically everyday they are behind the wheel.  And how exhilarating is that?  There is nothing like nailing it and hanging on for the few seconds it takes to get to 60 mph; and most places you can do it without even attracting the attention of the authorities.  Try that with  200 mph.


 So, rise up enthusiasts and demand that car makers and car mags bring the emphasis back to a “go fast” capability that us ordinary folks can relate to.  I’ll even settle for the metric version of that, 100kph.



Friday, December 5th, 2008

The Annapolis Junction Sports and Touring Club voted today on the automaker bailout and much like Congress and the rest of the Nation seem to be voting – it was a split decision.  Lest you be unimpressed by AJSTC’s views, the combined automotive experience of those present and voting totals at least seven hundred years.  Clearly not a bunch of car buying novices! The vote was: 4 in favor, 5 opposed, 4 undecided (one particularly shy member present managed to avoid the vote – texting their broker to sell the GM stock, I think).



As car buffs, those present would have to agree that the Big Three has not brought much to the table of interest to an enthusiast, but none would deny the utility, value, and usefulness of the many Big Three cars we have owned among us.   So why weren’t this bunch of car fans screaming to save GM, Ford, and Chrysler; or alternately voting to throw them to the Toyota lion?


My theory is that we don’t understand what a bailout means; and for that matter what a non-bailout means.  And I don’t think all those supposedly super smart people in Congress have a clue either.  For that matter, I’ll add those really well paid auto executives to that group.


So, maybe we should think about solving the problem a different way.  Let’s try coming at this from the bottom up vice the top down.  The reason the carmakers are desperate right now is that they are not selling cars.  Yes they have too high labor costs, expensive legacy retirement packages, and breathtaking health plan costs; but those problems have been around a long time and throwing a bailout at them won’t solve those problems  anyway.  But, get those sales back up and car makers and unions will solve those other problems without government help or deservedly go out of business.


Congress, I’ll make it easy to understand; give me (and all of my car loving friends, about a million of us at $35K per car) that bailout money to buy a car (I guess we have to make a rule here – no BMW, Honda, or Tata  here, gotta buy a Big Three) and we will empty those dealer lots and factory fields of cars, the Big Three execs can keep their corporate jets, and workers keep their jobs.  No complicated oversight or regulation required here.  Give me money, I buy car.  I’m even willing to report it on my income tax (and not bury the expenses in some un-understandable corporate annual report write-off).


I think it’s only fair, given their enthusiastic participation in this Garage Envy survey, that my friends in AJSTC are placed at the front of the line, behind me of course.  I’m ready to start shopping tomorrow.