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


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“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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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”.

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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!

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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 Veyron drivers and Bertone


My most sincere apologies, ladies and gentlemen, for a late post. My coursework took over my weekend, so I didn’t manage to post another article. But from this Sunday onwards it’s back to normal – article every Sunday.

So…let’s get down to business.

Bling Bling syndrome: Bugatti Veyron drivers

My, oh, my, oh, my. I just took a look at the list of 15 most famous Bugatti Veyron owners. This list proves my point – they are owned by the ones who think they’re better than they actually are AND they think they know a lot about cars…when, in truth, they know nothing.
Here are some of the owners who are on the list:

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SIMON COWELL – a crown jewel of the Veyron owners’ community. And he proved that on his second appearance at Top Gear. He blamed Clarkson for him choosing the wrong car – Audi R8 (another flashy car, but this is a much more down to earth) – because he bought it following Clarkson’s review of the thing. Well…ok…who did put a name on the order’s list? And who took the keys? Anyway, the Veyron also sort of fits Cowell’s personality – fake shine, not that good looking and expensive for no legitimate reason (if you think magnesium turn signal stalks are a good reason to make it cost £1m, then you should join Volkswagen, cos they do).

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CHRIS BROWN – I would be surprised if he didn’t own one. Another “superstar” who thinks he’s “brave” and has lipstick on his knuckles…and who’s bright by taking Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature”, a lovely song, stripping out his vocal part and putting daft, un-melodic, heavily auto-tuned vocals in it and calling it his “masterpiece”. Also, like Veyron – so much technology that makes it to stay on the road.

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CRISTIANO RONALDO – by the rules of Clarkson, if a premiership footballer buys a car it automatically becomes seriously uncool…therefore Veyron is pathetically uncool cos a couple of footballers own them, Ronaldo being the most famous of the lot. If it was the 60s, when football was played for real, professionally, and was a real man’s game (with no bloody drama after receiving a small bruise on the knee and laying down in grass as if the guy’s about to give birth) then it wouldn’t be the case and it’d be cool. But it isn’t the 60s…and in 60s they had prettier cars – Ferrari Dino, Lamborghini Miura, E-Type Jag, Jensen Interceptor etc. Veyron’s sibling of the decade would be Ford Edsel, i.e. an Elephant’s car with genetals used for the grill.

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See what I mean?

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FLO RIDA – the one who loves to waste money. He, reportedly, owns three Veyrons. That’s 1% of total number of those bloody things. Once he was caught driving one of them while drunk (quite worrying to have a drunk driver behind the wheel of one of fastest cars in the world) after which he was banned from driving…but very soon after that he was seen again behind a wheel of a different Veyron. Bling bling.

…but there were two surprises on that list that just don’t fit in this company. One being TOM CRUISE.

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He arrived at the premiere of Mission Impossible III in a Veyron. A bit of a broken promise, if you remember the “Risky Business” quote: “Porsche: There is no substitute”. …but he has one of the iconic 928s…a bulletproof one 😛 Nice.

Another surprise was Jay-Z. A successful guy like him, being a producer to many successful acts, being active in Politics (trying to involve people to vote in 2008 US Presidential Elections) and a business entrepreneur in a Veyron?

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…but looking at Jay-Z and Beyonce’s garage – Maybach, Ferrari F430 Spyder, Rolls Phantom – the Veyron feels right at home.

I am not against Veyron because they are owned by ridiculously wealthy people. No. I’m not a communist. I am against it because it just isn’t cool and is a ridiculously overpriced, over-engineered car. In the end what it is is just a Volkswagen designed by a guy who’s the designer for VW Lupo and Škoda range (if you look closely, the pre-facelift Veyron’s headlights are just like ones Škoda have. Cost saving? On a £1m car??) And people are just going with the flow because they are afraid to think differently, therefore they say it’s awesome without justifying why. Guys, how about Pagani with their marvellous Huayra? Or Koenigsegg? There are plenty of better, more beautiful, more enjoyable cars than a Veyron. You just look outside the box.

Eulogy: Bertone

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I really didn’t want to believe this…but one of design greats, Bertone, after their financial troubles and not much activity in the mainstream car market is calling it quits. Such a pity after seeing their “greatest hits”. Here are some of them:

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You cannot think of Bertone without thinking of their (in my view) best creation – Lamborghini Miura. This car is the closest you can get to make looking like a woman; a very sensual, tender, slender woman who you would take for dinner at Savoy, after which you would assist her with putting on a thick fur coat and you would walk all night long around the city with “On Days Like These” sounding in your ears. I am not sure what would be better: that walk or a drive with this beauty through Stelvio Pass like on “The Italian Job”…without any bulldozers, obviously. I would say if that girl would be your girlfriend/wife, then both of them would be equally great.

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Alfa Romeo Montreal, the car which looks like George Clooney – a good looking bachelor who gets even better looking when he gets older. And the eyes always inviting you for a play. If not for Alfa’s well known “reliability”, this would’ve been one of best buys ever. Pity not many people remember cars like this…all because everyone’s going with the flow, liking ridiculous lumps of metal like Veyron and explosive (literally) Ferraris of today.

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Whenever I see a Lamborghini Countach my child’s gene wakes up and brings back childhood. This car is one of few cars that paid a big part in my childhood developing my passion for cars, because it was one of a dozen cars featured in the first PC game I ever owned – Need For Speed III. I was always blown away by its angles, by the style, those doors. However I am one of few who doesn’t like that huge rear wing, but that’s just a question of taste. Driving it is a completely different story and I am very cautious of meeting my childhood heroes as, so many people have said, it leaves you with a bitter disappointment. Like seeing the actual faces of Teletubies.

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Aston Martin Rapide Bertone Jet 2+2. Long name, but a simple concept – take a good looking car and improve it. And Bertone did it brilliantly. Pity Ulrich Bez, CEO of Aston Martin, wasn’t moved enough to put this beauty into production…at least for a limited run.

Thank you, Bertone, for all what you’ve done. You may be gone but your legacy will continue to pleasure our eyes.

 

About Geneva motor show and eulogy to Jaguar XK


The good, the bad and the ugly: the most notable cars of Geneva Motor show

The Geneva Motor Show has over the years been one of the biggest and (for carmakers) the most important car show in the world. The show has seen introductions of world greats such as Jaguar E-Type, Aston Martin DB-7, Jaguar XF, Cadillac CTS, DeLorean DMC-12 and many more. This year hasn’t been an exception for introductions of many great automobiles…and some that I have no idea why car manufacturers wasted their money on making them. Here are some of the good ones:

AUDI TT MK III

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Not the most radical of redesigns from the outside. Probably this has happened because of Volkswagen Group’s acquisition of Porsche and, as you know, Porsche designers have been known for their “innovative” design by keeping the car looking almost exactly the same through the generations. It’s possible that Audi designers went to see them for advice. Anyway, the most important change is from the inside. I found it hard to believe that Audi could improve more on their wonderful interior…yet they have. No mid-mounted touch screen nonsense. Instead they have placed the screen in front of the driver, behind the wheel. Smart move.

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Engines have been mildly tweaked…however I heard that Audi is going to re-introduce their fantastic 5-cylinder engine that once used to be placed in the fabulous Audi Quattro (ur-Quattro, to be precise). AUDI, PLEASE DO THAT!!!

LAMBORGHINI HURACAN

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In my view not the best new design I’ve ever seen to come from Bologna. But every next time I see it, it seems to look…better. However I really doubt it is going to be better looking than Gallardo. Good news: it keeps its 5.2 V10 (how “sorry” I feel now for Greenpeace) which now has been beefed up to 602 BHP! Image

Let’s hope that we will not hear in the news in further years of about one of these being on fire unlike its predecessors have been. Both Gallardo and Lambo’s V12 monsters who always have had something flammable in their construction, something that Italian masters have forgotten to insert. Oops.

KOENIGSEGG ONE:1

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5 litre twin-turbo V8, Shark-tale wing…those things are not important. What is important, though, is the message behind it’s name – it has 1340 horsepower to move it’s 1340 kg body around. Which means it is the first super car to reach the before impossible target – 1000 horsepower per ton. Many people (including Monsieur Jeremy Clarkson) think that POWEEEER is everything. Well…an ordinary cruise ship has massive diesels that produce 100 000 hp each…but how fast it goes? just over 21 knots.

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The answer is, what legendary Colin Chapman of Lotus always mastered, is INCREASE POWER and REDUCE WEIGHT. The claimed top speed of this beauty is 440 km/h (273 mph) which is 5 mph faster than that ugly, disgusting, Škoda-eyed, cockish Bugatti Veyron Super Sport. I cannot wait for the day when this Swedish rocket will make the Germans get into the corner to weep that they have been beaten…again.

Now there were three cars in Geneva motor show that made me ask “…why?” Here they are

1) McLaren 650S

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Typical General Motors engineering – get bits of different cars you’ve made, put them together and call it a “Brand new from ground up” car. That’s exactly what McLaren did with this 650S. They got the nose of the marvelous P1, the rear and the engine from MP4-12C and voilá, called it a “brand new McLaren.” Sorry, NO! Image

The top speed is 207 mph (EXACTLY the same as 12C), yet it’s classified as a “Class higher” automobile. What, has McLaren’s marketing department has nothing to do or something?

2) BMW 4-series Gran Coupe

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What is it? Really? Is it a larger 3-series saloon or a shorter 5-series? Why was it created? Who is going to buy it? BMW, do I have to ask these questions for you? This has been the most pointless creation in the history of your brand, and I mean it. First you created the 4-series as, in the previous generation, the 3-series coupe was totally different from the actual saloon. Fair enough. BUT STAY WITH THE BLOODY COUPE. Don’t waste money. Remember the failed BMW 5-series GT. Same idea. You tried to introduce a “brand new BMW”. What happened? Nobody bought it. Learn from your mistakes at last.

3) Mini Clubman Concept

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Two fundamental flaws with this car: 1) it’s so big that the brand “Mini” seems to be out of place for this vehicle; and 2) This is not a clubman anymore. A clubman, as you remember, is a car with a split-door boot and an extra door on one side of the car. Now, it is simply a “Mini Countryman” which is another enormous “Mini”. The question is…the new Mini Cooper has gotten larger, so has the Clubman…what’s gonna happen with the new “Countryman” gonna be like, if BMW will be as visionless as they have been so far with the Mini brand and will allow it to go into production? Enough already!!

Eulogy: JAGUAR XK

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It’s been 18 years since the world got known with the model designation “XK”. Yes, back in 1996 the first Jaguar XK (XK8) was introduced to replace the aging, barge-like, not-so-agile Jaguar XJ-S. With a new car came a new Era, as, because of Ford’s influence, the new model featured a first in Jaguar’s history – a V8 engine, that is still used today in all of Jaguar models. Car magazines praised this great, new machine for its looks, it’s comfortable yet still sporty ride. There was one problem that somehow remained through the years in Jaguar XK’s – to sit at the back you had to saw off your legs and cut off your head. Therefore they were used for luggage. So XK was created to be a practical Grand Tourer.Image

The years went and the XK matured. Then in 2006 came the more beautiful, more sporty and elegant 2nd Generation XK. It came at a tough time for Jaguar when they were experiencing losses and falling reputation for their reliability of the S-type and the crazy concept of the X-type (which, many argue, was the main reason why Jaguar stagnated in the 00ties). So the skeptics started to see this as Jaguar’s “Last hurrah”…but in 2008 Tata bought the company…and the prancing Cat is still with us today.Image

So why is being cancelled? Well, as businesses work, usually the main reason is poor sales…and it s the case with the XK. It has been the worst selling Jaguar for past 3 years, unfortunately. And recently, after the introduction of the F-type roadster and coupe that are based on the same platform as the XK, only shorter, the XK somehow loses it’s significance. Sad, really sad. Jaguar XK has been in my top 10 of favorite cars (towards the top, along with DeLorean DMC-12, Jaguar E-type, F-type and Jensen Interceptor) and its design has been called “the best” by many over the years. Ian Callum, thank you, sir! Thank you for creating a masterpiece that has my favorite car design feature that I call the “shoulder”, i.e. the bulk above the rear wheels (as seen below. This Jag was standing outside my University).

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So I bow my head and say “farewell, XK”. Of course, it will still remain in the used car market, but it’s sad to know that after this summer, no new beauties will be rolling off the production line at Castle Bromwich.

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About pop-up headlights and the film “Rush”


Raise the lights: what happened to the cool pop-up headlights?

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When was the last time you saw a brand new car that has one of the coolest features ever to be featured to a car – pop-up headlights? Somewhere just after the new millennium, right? Lotus Esprit V8 and the 5th Generation Corvette were the last car models who had this privilege to carry these admired car styling cues. For over a decade car designers, engineers and parts purchasers have forgotten all about them. Why? Well…let me tell you a story.

The first encounter with pop-ups in a production car was in 1930s, with Cord 810. Their pop-ups were rather interesting – they firstly didn’t exactly pop-up, but rolled around and it was achieved not by electric motors, but a great friend of 1930s automobiles and all of Soviet era trucks – mechanical crank.

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Cord 810

The craze of pop-ups didn’t start until 1970s/1980s. Many people argue which car was the one who triggered this craze but most of them say it was Lamborghini who did it with Miura and Countach. Also it is hard to agree on which is the most iconic car with pop-ups – Lotus Esprit, almost all of Ferraris of that era (especially Magnum’s 308GTS), even Mazda MX5 (or Miata (pronounced “meyaadah”), as it is called in America. Probably because Americans find it too hard to understand abbreviations). It doesn’t matter which one was the most iconic. The fact of the matter is this – everyone loved them and thought they were so cool….well…everyone APART from some ridiculous safety geeks who one day had nothing to do and were so annoyed with their job they suddenly became moody and all decided that pop-ups are “dangerous for pedestrian safety”…….what? Instead of encouraging subsidies which would’ve sped up the development of car safety technology they urged governments to unanimously ban pop-up headlight production. Probably this was one of schemes funded by Hyundai and Peugeot so people can start buying their unreliable, cheap, plastic garbages on wheels.

You might say to yourselves “hey, you lunatic. They are right. Those things can cut into your chest and split you in half”. Now stop right there. You are supporting one absolutely ridiculous thing – “improvement of pedestrian safety in a car crash”. Pop-up headlights don’t kill people. The impact itself does. It’s like trying to cure baldness by not washing your head anymore….sounds illogical? So is the reason for banning pop-up headlights. See my point? Good. Let’s go further…

Crashes…ok. People do get hit once in a while, of course. But you have to ask three questions:

1) What was the pedestrian doing on the road?
2) Why did the driver hit the pedestrian?
3) Was it intentional/unintentional?

Answer these three questions and THEN you will improve the “safety” of pedestrians, if you want to call it that way. Do pop-up headlights answer any of these three questions?

To further show the pointlessness of “pedestrian safety,” let’s look in not so distant past: Volvo introduced the “pedestrian airbag” in their new V40. Everybody jumped up and down, said “pedestrians are safe and just about every car in the world will have it!” Well, guess what…they’re dropping it because the technology that helps their cars avoiding crashes is more effective than that ridiculous pillow to make the fall of the corpse more comfortable. (http://www.autoblog.com/2013/12/01/volvo-pedestrian-airbag-canceled/)

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Volvo V40 and the pedestrian airbag

So there you have it – to sort out pedestrian safety, do two things: 1) keep pedestrians off the roads and 2) invest more into the crash-avoidance technology like automatic emergency brakes.

The Rush of 1976: The great rivalry of Lauda and Hunt

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Speed, precision, “20% chance of death”, an Austrian businessman’s son, a rebellious English schoolboy and the 1970s glamour: the ingredients of one of the greatest rivalries in the history of Motorsport that changed the face of Formula 1 forever and it made one of the fastest motorsports in the world a household name. The 1975 season saw a glorious, narrow victory for Niki Lauda who left James Hunt in 4th in the championship and almost finished his career for good. If not just for McLaren’s despair to get a new driver, this rivalry would’ve only remained a “what if” story. But it happened and, arguably, was the most exciting Formula 1 season in its 64 year history, and just recently was a base to the equally intriguing film “Rush” where this rivalry was seen in a briefer scale. So…my thoughts about the film.

The general impression of the film was “oh my dear Lord, it was better than I thought it would be“. I definitely would recommend people to see it.

…but in detail…

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The epilogue of the film for ones who have never known about this legend was perfect – start of the Nürburgring, showing both contenders and giving a small indication what is about to happen in the film. The story itself was also great. One thing I would’ve loved would be having the story a little bit more spread out, less hasty than it was. Because it showed too little of the actual racing, not talking enough about the danger of F1 driving in the 1970s. It did show it, but, in my opinion, not enough.

Another issue to me was some CGI effects of driving. Some of the crashes (especially the very first crash that Lauda and Hunt had in Formula 3) looked very unreal in terms of physics. However some of them were really, really good. Especially Niki Lauda’s crash at Nürburgring. It might sound a bit wrong but the crash scene was executed perfectly (as much as I have seen from the footage of the actual crash with him crashing into the wall and then Brett Lunger crashing into his car and making a huge inferno of petrol, carbon fibre and Lauda being in it.

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In terms of quotes my most favourite one (that truly reflects myself) was this: “Men love women. Even more than that men….love….CARS!” It was really true and was performed just perfectly with a growling engine roar coming afterwards, cutting straight to the Formula 3 race scene. (The clip of the quote and a small preview of the film below)

Historic accuracy was also spot on (apart from dramatisations of both heroes’ lives). Lauda’s role was played by Daniel Brühl who did a fantastic job recreating the great Austrian’s “rat face” (as everyone in F1 called him) and, in some parts (especially after the Nürburgring crash) he looked like Niki himself. One issue that there was, in my opinion, was actor’s impression of Lauda’s accent. It was a bit…Spanish, probably because of actor’s origin. Hunt’s portrayer Chris Hemsworth, on the other hand, made sometimes me think that an actual footage of interviews was used to create the film because he looked exactly like Hunt. Resemblance was creepily accurate. In the end of the film they showed some actual footage of Hunt and mixed it with ….’s footage from the film. Absolutely sublime.

If you haven’t seen the film, please, get it and watch it. If you have seen the film, comment your thoughts about it.

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Niki Lauda and James Hunt before a race, showing that despite their intense rivalry they still had some friendly chatter.

Thanks for reading my blog once again. Stay tuned for next week’s post. Until then, I’m outta here. 😉

About Cadillac ELR and road rage


In the first “comeback” article I would like to talk about Cadillac ELR’s failure and road rage.

OUT OF JUICE WITHOUT LEAVING THE HOUSE: CADILLAC DEALERS REFUSE TO TAKE ON ELR

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This is it, ladies and gentlemen. Cadillac’s answer to Tesla, Nissan Leaf and Toyota “Borius” – Cadillac ELR. It is supposed to be the “upper class hybrid car”, representing the new, high quality direction of GM and Cadillac as a brand. Expectations were high, reviewers loved this car…but just after they began to be shipped to the dealers in December, 2013 (pictured above) more than half of Cadillac dealers in ‘Merica looked at the car and said “NO! We don’t want it.” Why such sharp change of plans?

Well…it turns out that dealers in question (410 out of 940 dealers in the States) are ones located in areas where electric cars is a rare sight. They said that this car will be as had to get rid of as an Edsel because of low popularity of alternative energy and bad infrastructure for rechargeable cars. They justified their claim by saying that areas where most of ELRs will be sold are California (the hive of flower-kissing environmentalists), New York, Miami and other densely inhabited states.

If they do decide to sell ELRs, there’s also quite a lot of costs involved in tooling the dealer’s services, adding charging stations and other tools that would make these Caddies roll.

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Personally, I think ELR is a waste of energy and steel. Why? Simple – first of all it is based on Chevrolet Volt’s (Vauxhall/Opel Ampera in civilized world) platform. That means the engine and the electric drivetrain is the same of the “cheaper-badged” sister. The similarities don’t end there because Caddie engineers weren’t bothered on changing the infotainment system a lot which, according to reporters from pages like “Wired” (http://www.wired.com/autopia/2013/02/cadillac-cue-update-coming/) say it is an absolute, irresponsive and slow joke of a system on which Chevrolet’s system is based on.

Also, I do not see the point of Caddie putting this car into production. What is it’s direct rival? Leaf? That’s a cheap city car. Tesla Model S? COMPLETELY out of the league in looks, drivability, emissions and value for money. Fisker is dead…and there are no more cars that could be related. What idea did Cadillac’s Marketing Department came up with to put this pointless brick on wheels into production will remain unanswered…for now. For it to sell well you need a miracle and a couple of people who have lost their mind.

GET OFF MY LANE: Road rage

My friend from Uni Alex took me for a spin in his Mini yesterday and we were talking about how us two react of those people who, by an utter miracle, have received a driver’s license and ruin our days by their absolutely ridiculous maneuvers. And we both came to a conclusion that every time there’s an idiot on the roads, our faces turn red, we suddenly know how to do sign language and there’s a bit of steam coming out of our ears because they “sinned in front of God Asphalt”. But we don’t feel guilty for our rage. And our rage doesn’t lead us to “aggressive driving”, we just love expressing ourselves to help other motorists…at least that’s what I thing.

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Judge this…

It happened last Summer in Riga. I was driving into town centre to go to the cinema with my sister (yes, she’s 14. No, I will not tell you her name). We had a great time, listening to music, playing “seat heater game” and looking forward to our film. Then, suddenly, music stopped, fun was interrupted and my hands started to play the game “show all of the signs you can” when a black, second-generation Porsche Cayenne with Estonian number plates and tinted windows (on a new car, tinted windows could mean: 1) you’re a politician; 2) you were bullied at school or 3) you think you see too well) suddenly pulled right in front of me without turning turn signals about 8 inches from the front bumpers.. The horn of the BMW I was driving squeaked into life, expressing my overall “love” towards the driver. There was no reaction, not even a “thank you” sign (i.e. flashing hazard lights for a little bit in order to express your gratitude. There are nice drivers in Latvia).

After a second, the Cayenne saw the traffic in the lane we both were in, so it went back into the right lane where it came from, again…without flashing turn signals. The thing is that intersection we were at, the right hand lane goes right and straight on (in Latvia they drive on the right-hand-side. So does 90% of the world) and the lane I was in goes left. I had my eyes clicking once a second towards the ridiculous Cayenne. At the very last moment, before I had to turn off left, guess what…the Cayenne changed its mind and came back in my lane. This time…driving painfully slowly. I honked and again no reaction. We turned into the street on the left and the grand finale came – the Cayenne was driving RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD, on the lane-dividing line. I thought the driver is deaf, because there was no reaction from my horn and my Italian-like hand gestures.

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After pulling up next to this evil Porsche my all emotions died down and feeling of helplessness kicked in, finding out that the driver of the Cayenne was…Paris Hilton-looking blonde. Seeing all those videos on the internet where their “intelligence” have been reflected by their chihuahua rat dogs and utterly pathetic general knowledge, I decided to drive on.

Is it fair that people like this are let on the road? So us, nice, polite and respectable drivers get our moods ruined by some truly questionable maneuvers. I am not talking about people who cannot concentrate until the music is turned down to 2 or who’s steering wheel is in their face. It doesn’t matter what is your driving position and your personal habits. If you are on the road, please, respect others.

The other problem on the roads is when someone is the other type – sneaking into your congested lane, overtaking people in the city on the oncoming lane, not letting you out of the street etc. The most common drivers that I have noticed of doing this have been driving BMWs, over-tuned japanese cars and cheap European hatchbacks who’s appearance is sacrificed for no good reason (in the automotive community we call them “Ricers”), van drivers and all of Bentley drivers. But I have noticed that the most polite drivers out there are SAAB drivers. Almost every time I see a SAAB driver I see a Halo over the car and they ALWAYS have let me go through. Makes me smile. ^_^ Also all of Ford Mondeo and Hyundai drivers. Probably because they are pensioners.

Anyone’s had any examples or views on road rage? Any idea which other car drivers have a terrible road rage? Or views on such “Barbie” drivers? Please, share it in the comments.

I’ll see you all next week. For now, I’m out of here!c91cc43e6b3a42d4610a34580cda499c093cc1f3dd7da268127fcd7c125b7554

GUESS WHO?


HEEEEELLLLLLOOOOO, MY DEAR FRIENDS!!!ImageTo all of you who wandered “is he dead or did he just give up?” I am still here, happy and well. I, unfortunately, stopped at my 8th video because:

a) my video editing program decided to be a teenage girl and just wouldn’t let me finish exporting the final thing;

b) as I’m trying to be a good student, I have had SO MUCH to do, so after failing to make the 8th episode I didn’t have any time to sit on the couch, film the thing and then spend days finishing it as it takes a minimum of 3 days for 1 episode. Some might say “omg, he’s slow”…but try and film/write/present/edit/publish/promote your own video blog yourself;

c) I couldn’t get hold of my camera again.

So, to make up for it I have decided to have a post about cars every week on Sundays as it is way easier to do so and I could express myself without making ridiculous mistakes in English.

So…without further ado, I’M BACK!

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