Can you feel the love tonight?: Why a car is more than a piece of metal on four wheels


auto-obsession-when-you-love-cars-a-little-too-much-1752323486-aug-21-2012-1-600x400

“A way of transport that takes you from A to B”. I have heard a lot of people saying this about cars, including my dad. That is partly true, but I think there is way more to it. Jaguar co-founder, Sir William Lions, once said: “The car is the closest thing we will ever create to something that is alive.” Let me prove it to you by breaking the article down into three parts: voice, body and character.

????????????????????????????

VOICE: I am 110% sure that you have listened to music at some point in life (if not, you need help). So you definitely have your favorite singer or band. Not just because of what is being played, but also the power of singer’s voice. And I am talking about music, not your Chris Wests or Kanye Browns, unless their favorite car noise is the one made by Toyota Prius. Everyone has their favorite that they love, and the one they don’t care about as it sounds like any other band. It’s the same with cars. Everyone loves a good noise of a car. Some might love their four-cylinder Fiesta engine noise, others – the bellow of a V8 Dodge Charger muscle car. Then there are those I understand the least – those who love Nissan Skyline engine noise. But that’s just my taste.

Car & Woman

BODY: girls go crazy over guys like Ryan Gosling, guys can’t get over how great Jennifer Lawrence looks like. And everyone has his or her favorite look of a car. Someone might love the perfect, human-like lines on a Lamborghini Miura. The opening scene in “The Italian Job” is to petrol heads what watching Gisele Bündchen on a catwalk is to the rest. It is so darn beautiful and sensual. A celebration of beauty.

Then there are others who like cars that have been designed with a ruler, like Lamborghini Countach. An angle has a beauty in an engineering sense. The whole car model culture (which, in my view, is pathetic. That shows you’ve made a car with such a bad design you actually need women to stand next to it and hoping it somehow is going to make it look better) started in the 1970s. The age of angles in the car industry. All those Lincolns, Italian wedge-shaped sportscars and boxy family cars. They all started in the 70s and progressed in the 80s. Then there are those who are un-traditional. Like me – I love the DeLorean DMC-12, but others just look at it and thing “ugh, ugly.”

1573238

CHARACTER: there is always a car that has some sort of a character like a human being. You have your nerds, who are like Honda Jazz– they get a chemistry experiment perfectly right, but you will not jump up and down when it happens. You probably will be distracted by the guy next to you who in his hangover will make all things go horribly wrong – that’s a Russian car. You laugh about them and their faults amuse you.

car_falls_apart-155434

Then you have your temperamental lovers, which, stereotypically, are Italians and French. Same with cars: Italian and French cars have their culture of breakdowns and faults, but you don’t want to leave them. They kiss and woo you when they’re happy, but when they break down, they give you the biggest headache.

Alfa Romeo 8c_Snapseed

Then there’s a car that always looks little and cute. Someone that always make you smile and waul out a little “awwww.” And every time you drive it, the car cheers you up and puts that endless smile on your face, which you cannot resist even in your dullest days. It’s a car that always smiles at you, always is happy. Like a little puppy labrador, that is waiting for you impatiently until you will take him out for a walk. That’s how a Mini is. Every time I see one and all the times I’ve been driven around in one I always cannot stop smiling. It is a happy machine. Probably that’s why the most careless, childish and most positive Englishman in the world was driving one.

SONY DSC

Then there is Aston Martin. Have you ever seen an Aston Martin with an aftermarket wing on the back? No. So it cannot be someone who wears gold chains, walking around, looking for attention, like a Bentley or a Ferrari. Also, it is elegant and smart. It always looks like it has to be parked near an opera. It whispers quietly, but when it speaks, you can’t forget its voice and you can hear it coming from miles away. It perfectly reflects James Bond. Thank God Ian Fleming swapped Bond’s car from Bentley to Aston Martin. It is just like him.

23-one-of-several-james-bond-rides-on-this-list-the-aston-martin-vanquish-debuted-at-the-geneva-motor-show-in-2001-it-was-designed-by-ian-callum-starred-alongside-pierce-brosnan-in-the-2002-flick-die-anoth

Also, part of character is the bondage you get during some of your big events in life. Your first car, the fastest car you’ve driven, the car you drove to that successful interview. You will never forget those ones. See? A car is way more than a lump of metal with wheels that with some mechanics applied to it moves forwards. It is your friend, your pet, your favorite art, and your memory.

The Guy Near the Car

Advertisements

Come fly with me: Why gull wing doors are the best solution for car doors?


As many of you probably know by know my dream car is the DeLorean DMC-12. It is not because of its starring role in the film all of you know very well. It’s because of what it stands for, what its creator did to create it. Even though a lot of critics have annihilated them, targeting its “not-so-futuristic” features, the wheezy engine and the early-80s British reliability which needs no further explanation, all of them have overlooked one quite futuristic and useful feature that’s not been used on a lot of cars since. Nope, it’s not the stainless steel body. It’s the doors. Not just because it made Marty McFly look like an alien when he arrived in 1955, but because he could feel a little bit safer. Yes, gull wing doors are safe and more practical than ordinary doors. Let me explain why.

52141_10100885336570606_374757580578457342_o1) EASE OF ENTRY AND EXIT

It’s time to shut up all those gull wing door critics who say that gull wing doors have to have miles of room before the doors can be opened. RUBBISH! RUBBISH! RUBBISH! Clearly, these critics don’t know anything about either physics and geometry.

Let me show this video and finally put these matters about space to rest.

There! It’s been tested that the DeLorean needs 11 inches (28 cm) of room to open the doors. Try and par a car with normal doors next to it and open the doors. An average car door is 12-15 cm thick. If you’re as thin as a spaghetti, then you’d need about the same amount of room to slide yourself through the door like an origami swan through that narrow slit. In a gull wing door car you also open up a portion of the roof, which means not only you can get into the car in a narrow space, but also comfortably slide yourself into it.

article-2327440-19E37BF2000005DC-607_634x460

2) SAFETY

1956-Mercedes-Benz-300-SL-Gullwing-black-car-opened-doors-hd-wallpapers

 

The car above is a Mercedes 300SL. The very first production car in the world to use gull wing doors. The reason for that hides beneath the skin.

SONY DSC

 

As you can see in the picture above, there are some tubes on the door sills. That’s one of the reasons why door sills are so high in a 300SL. Those tubes are the chassis of the 300SL. In plain English, they keep the car together. They are so high because initially the 300SL was a racing car and in racing the high sills are there to improve car’s rigidity because the distance between the roof and the main chassis is reduced, making the car tighter and more stable.

Mercedes-Benz-300-SL-Coupe-RS-Studio-DO-1280x960

Bosses of Mercedes-Benz, after the big success of 300SL in Mille Miglia 1000 mile race across Italy in 1952-1953, they decided to use the chassis of the race car and to make it useable on the road. Nowadays it’s not a big deal but then it seemed unreal. Especially knowing that the chassis of the racing car could prove unusable for everyday driving, and fitting ordinary doors wouldn’t work. So they fitted gull wings (first used on the 300SL racing car) so its users could get in. And because the sill is so high up, in a side impact you would be better off in a gull wing 300SL than being in a normal door, lower sill coupe.

Some of you are going to ask “what if it rolls over?” As in past few decades car safety has been a priority for car makers. So it’s highly unlikely that cars of past 40 years have had safety overlooked. A DeLorean was safe when it was rolled over, because the driver could push out the windscreen. And for a very recent gull wing beast, Mercedes SLS, the doors featured explosive bolts. A lot of you who take Jeremy Clarkson seriously think that SLS doors are bombs. But have a look at this:

It’s hardly an explosion. As soon as bolts are loose, you just push the doors out and you’re free.

3) CHASSIS STIFFNESS

Mercedes-Benz-SLS_AMG_2011_1280x960_wallpaper_71I am not a physician, but I saw on British Channel 4’s “For the love of Cars” DeLorean episode they said that a gull wing car is more resistant to torsion (twisting) than an ordinary door car. It is not just in a DeLorean or Mercedes-Benz. Ford GT’s doors also cut into roof. Somehow the single bar in the roof made the car so strong it broke one of crash test machines where it attempted to slowly squash the Ford.

112_0310_photo_gallery_2005_ford_gt_4wl+2005_ford_gt+overhead_drivers_side_view_doors_and_hood_open

PROBLEMS WITH GULL WING DOORS

There are a couple of problems of having gull wing doors. First one, of course, is that you cannot have a four door gull wing car. Even though a gull wing coupe is a very tough car there is a physical limitation on how much you can cut out of the roof. Even Tesla’s new Model X SUV has just one pair of gull wing doors. But you can’t complain because they do look nice anyway.

model-x

Secondly you can’t have a sunroof. But you can have a transparent glass roof. As you can see above for the Model X. Finally, even though gull wings do not need a lot of room near them, they do need a room above them. It’s ok in an ordinary multi-storey car park, but in your own garage it could be tricky.

But don’t let these small impracticalities fool you. Demand your favorite car maker to make gull wing cars. Please!

Mercedes-Benz_SLS_AMG_(C_197)_&_Mercedes-Benz_300_SL_(W_198)_–_Frontansicht,_10._August_2011,_Düsseldorf

 

 

About being a true petrolhead


Who do you think you are?!: What makes a true petrolhead?

 

 

I hesitated to talk about this topic for long but, after a desperate invitation on Instagram I’ve decided to let it loose and expose these “petrolhead wannabes”.

Image

The guy in question invited to follow his profile on Instagram. He said it’s about “cars” and I just thought I might check out this guy. But as soon as I opened it, it was yet another one of those million profiles out there, one of those who think they know about cars and think that the flashier the brand is, the cooler the car is. Umm….NO. STOP IT!

 

Image

Just to give a flavor of what I’m talking about here are a few of his (not sure if his, but they are there) photos. Just a bunch of ordinary midlife crisis cars.

 

First of all, if you are a true petrolhead, you can’t possibly like just new Ferraris (he had quite a few on there). If you say “hey, I love that Ferrari 458” or “Ferrari F12 Berlinetta is the best car in the world”, I laugh my insides out (in my mind, of course), because a true petrolhead doesn’t like just recent Ferraris…or Ferraris in general. Do you know why? Because anyone in the world knows what a Ferrari is and non-enthusiast’s first supercar of choice will always be a Ferrari. It’s a dream car for unimaginative businessmen and for those who think “LSD” is a drug, not a piece of car technology that improves handling. Someone who likes a Ferrari can be regarded to be a petrolhead ONLY if they have a knowledge of the brand and they like the genuine Ferraris (Daytona, 250 GTO, Flat-12 engined Testarossa). They have knowledge and they can say that those cars then were Ferraris. If Enzo Ferrari was alive today, he’d punch Ferrari executives of today directly in the face because the company nowadays go completely against his principals – he made cars to be piece of art and don’t even try and think of doing excessive mass production of them. Enzo made cars primarily to fund his F1 team.

Image

Ferrari Daytona. If you can tell more about Daytona, then I might think you are a petrolhead

Then there’s the “crown” of petrolhead wannabes – Bugatti “Škoda Headlights” Veyron. Some post pictures and write that that is the coolest, most beautiful car in the world. Excuse me? Lamborghini Miura is beautiful, Aston Martin DBS is cool. Veyron is an example of over-engineered, overpriced, overrated car for people with “SCS” (Small Cock Syndrome); for those who just don’t know what to do with their money and they waste on a car that you can’t drive (more about it in my

About Veyron drivers and Bertone” article.

 Image

Tell me once again that Bugatti Veryon is cooler and prettier than this Aston Martin DBS and I will recommend you an optician to visit because you are possibly blind.

 

Then there are those who think wrapped cars are cool. How in the name of God can you call yourself a petrolhead if you cannot appreciate car’s original looks? The ones that really get on my nerves (and there have been quite a few of those wrapped in shiny wraps) are Bentley Continental GTs, the ultimate show-off Napoleon’s car (and by “Napoleon” I mean a guy who makes himself look “greater” by buying these “bling-bling” automobiles. I know Napoleon himself was an interesting character, but let’s stick to showing off). There will always be someone driving around town in a Bentley at night…wearing sunglasses. That’s just their nature. No wise man will buy a Bentley. You say “oh hang on, but what about the Flying Spur?” Sorry, Gullible Gustav, but “Flying Spur” is just a VW Phaeton with a Bentley badge stuck on the bonnet (one of worst badge-engineering examples ever executed by VW). Don’t get me wrong, Phaeton is a great car, but why waste thousands more buying a Bentley when you can buy a VW for a fraction? If you want prestige, buy a Jaguar XJ, Maserati Quatroporte or a Mercedes S-Class. Or, in worst case, an Aston Martin Rapide. Use common sense.

Image

Bentley Continental GT. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse…well…this happened. WHY?

 

So, now you might as, if you are a petrolhead, how can you prove that? Simple. I like cars based on their heritage, technology and personality, not based on what everyone else thinks. The most important thing of being a petrolhead is to be individual, to not be afraid to share views on any car or any brand. Then you might ask “what cars do you like then and why?” Ok, let’s list just a few, shall we?:

 

1)   Jaguar E-type 4.2 liter Series 1:

Image

 

It has to be Series 1, because, personally, I have a feeling that those sealed headlights make that car complete. And the Series 2 and 3 are too American (Jaguar had to customize them to American needs), so they became fatter and more ordinary. I think the ugliest E-type of them all is the E-type Series 3 2+2. Simply because the cabin silhouette is a bit too big, it starts to make this British beauty look like a fishbowl on wheels. Anyway…Series 1 4.2 liter simply because it gave the power that Jaguar promised and because that noise is my favorite car noise in the whole world. I can listen to it day and night and never get tired from it.

2)   DeLorean DMC-12:

Image

 

Ok, some might protest now. I know, I know. DeLorean wasn’t that brilliant. It had its flaws such as its engineering (doors, if opened to rapidly, can be deformed, hence that plastic line on the side might look “broken” because of increased panel gaps), performance (the PRV-6 engine combined with laughable American emission restrictions made this car as powerful as a base trim Hyundai of today) and its infamous creator, genius and felon John Zachary DeLorean . But at the same time this story is so mysterious and crazy that it makes me to love this car. I am one of few people in the world who loves the stock car more than the Time Machine in “Back To The Future” and I am definitely considering of owning one in the future when time will be right.

3)   Face-lifted SAAB 900 Turbo Coupe:

Image

The classic one, obviously. It still is a rather cool and great to drive car. Coupe somehow is well proportioned and it is, I think, the best-looking SAAB there ever was and will be. Also because, though being fast and great to drive, it is still as comfy as Queen Elizabeth’s bed and is one of few coupes that can sit 5 people easily.

4)   Jaguar XK:

Image

It is the best looking car of today. Forget about the useless rear seats, this car is for gentlemen. Because it saved Jaguar in 2000s, when Ford made such a hustle of it (but it was nothing compared to the disaster that GM created out of SAAB) and because it is a car that truly can be treated like a woman. It’s hips over the rear wheels, the long hood, cat-eyes and the window frame (somehow classic). And because it’s a Jaaaaag.

5)   Lamborghini Miura:

Image

The genesis of supercars and a Mona Lisa of automotive culture. Read more about it in my “About Veyron drivers and Bertone” article.

6)   Rover Mini Cooper:

Image

The pre-2001 Minis were Minis. It’s hard to call the post-2001 ones Minis as it’s hard to see in what way are they small. But the original Mini, I’ve driven it, it is brilliant, corners like nothing else out there, is super cute and it is the only car that I’ve seen who’s drivers are waving at each other as they pass. Gives you a feeling that you’re part of another big family, doesn’t it?

 

 

About Colin Chapman


As you know, every week I write an article about two topics, but this week I’ve decided to talk about one topic widely because, after seeing a couple of documentaries and reading some internet articles I wanted to get people known about the true face of a man that everyone thought was a hero and a true legend who was not knighted.

 

I Want It All: Who actually was Mr. Colin Chapman?

 Image

 

Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman, founder and owner of “Lotus” (his initials are in the logo, if you can spot them) was quite a mysterious man. Everyone knew him as a God of engineering and car design who followed “simplify, then add lightness” philosophy blindly. This philosophy earned his company 7 constructors championships and 6 drivers’ championships for his drivers in Formula 1, and unbeatable handling characteristics for his road cars still going strong today. His Esprit featured in two James Bond films, the “John Player Special” F1 colors became somewhat a legend themselves and things like front and rear wings, carbon monocoque chassis and ground effect that are inalienable features of F1 cars of today were first introduced by him. That’s how Colin Chapman is remembered by most of the people. What he isn’t remembered for is somewhat a mystery (and not quite a nice one) that got him to these achievements in design, speed and victories. Everyone remembers him as a good guy…but was he really that nice?

Image

Chapman with the Lotus Esprit (known for being featured in “The Spy Who Loved Me” Bond film) and one of his airplanes. Chapman had a flyer’s license, so a couple of times he flew to Gran Prix events.

 

Chapman, being a structural engineering graduate of UCL, had an engineer’s mind – he looked for the best and most efficient possible solution to everything. That reflected in his work. That also reflected in his attitude. He was a man who didn’t listen to rulebooks. He was the one who took a rulebook, read it for hours trying to find loopholes that he could use to his advantage. The biggest loophole of all was “safety”. Colin cared too much for his team’s victory he used every single possible way how to make his car more competitive. One way was to use a monocoque chassis in  Lotus 25 from 1962. The car was indeed ingenious…but it was at a cost. Jim Clark, the driver who won two championship titles with this very car, was lucky because all of fluid pipes (oil, petrol and coolant) went right by his head on the inside of the car. So if he would’ve landed in a crash he would’ve literally baked himself in an oily inferno. Chapman wasn’t bothered.

Image

Lotus 25

Another example of his ruthless attitude was apparent in 1978. In Monza Grand Prix the Swedish driver Ronnie Peterson lost control of his Lotus 78 after James Hunt collided with him. Peterson’s car landed in the barriers and got caught ablaze straight after. Because the car was so simplistic and had no safety gear, the chassis bent, trapping the Swede inside, leaving him inside to die. Straight after the race Colin Chapman was charged with manslaughter. Chapman, furiously, objected, saying that the blame was not his, but team’s, for giving the wrong car. During Monza practices Peterson damaged his Lotus 79 beyond repair. The only car that was available at the time was a Lotus 78 that wasn’t maintained since its usage in 1977 season. Colin said that if Ronnie would’ve used the 79, this accident wouldn’t have happened and, as the decision to use the 78 was team’s decision, all of the blame should lie with the team. After this incident, Chapman rarely got involved with Team Lotus unlike him before the accident, when he spent hours looking after team’s work.

In his personal life Chapman was a player. Because of his team’s success he used the Hethel airbase (where Lotus is still based) as his private airfield, flying airplanes everywhere. That was apparent  from his well-tanned skin (and it wasn’t fake tan).  It’s been rumored within Lotus that he had two “mistresses” (and those weren’t the ones who just clean up an office and wash laundry) during the high time of Lotus. Probably some more money going away that could’ve gone into his dear company. Seems like he was Jordan Belfort of his day.

Image

The cherry on the cake came in 1978-1981 period, when a silver-haired, tall, charismatic American by the name of John Zachary DeLorean was looking for a company who could engineer his dream car, the DMC-12, for mass production. And he wanted for a company to do put the car into production in less than 2 years after the deal is signed. He approached Porsche. They said they could do it in 4 years. And BMW said they could do it in 7 years, but they couldn’t  be bothered anyway. Chapman saw an opportunity here. His Lotus Company was on the brink of being extinct with debts rising through the roof.

Image

John DeLorean (third from the right) with Colin Chapman (first from the right) in a boardroom meeting at Lotus

 

He got in touch with DeLorean and said that he can do it for a sum of £10m and in 2 years. The charismatic American man got Chapman and Lotus’s accountant of the time, Fred Bushell in a hotel room and they negotiated for 4 days in a row on their proposed venture. Rumors say that DeLorean offered a Lotus buyout, but the sum that Chapman went for was out of DeLorean’s budget, which came from British Government. In the end they agreed on it and engineering began.

Image

DeLorean DMC-12

 

However, the engineering ended in 3 years instead of  promised 2 and it went way over £10m and the “engineering” involved getting a Lotus Esprit chassis, putting DeLorean’s body design on it and call it a “new car” (don’t get me wrong, both cars were great, but the way that this money was handled was a bit…wrong) . Mysteriously, Lotus had two installments coming from the government (signed by Chapman, DeLorean and Bushell) for two prototypes of the same car. Suspicious? Also, this money went through a company in Switzerland, called GPD (“Gran Prix Drivers”) to avoid excessive tax charges. (When one of Lotus employees mentioned to Chapman that he was involved in tax evasion, he got up and shouted “Tax evasion is a crime! Tax avoidance is a science, and I am involved with science!”) Then, when all the hell broke loose with DeLorean Motor Company, investigators found that more than £10m were mysteriously missing. Investigators later concluded that all of this money was illegally spent on everything but cars. Fred Bushell was sentenced to 3 years in jail. Chapman could’ve faced 10 years, but he didn’t live long enough to face the trial as he died of a serious heart attack in December 1982.

Image

Chapman was known for celebrating his team’s victories in style and on the driveway of the track

 

A genius? A hero? Or just another adventurist who cared for his own wealth? These questions keep the true petrolheads wondering through the years. But whatever they think, they cannot deny the fact that Chapman changed the face of motor racing forever. He would’ve been a knight if he wouldn’t have been involved in a fight with a Dutch policeman in 1965. But that’s another “what if” story.

Image

Colin Chapman (1928 – 1982)