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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Sharing is caring: most surprising car part sharing occasions


On Tuesday I was doing something that only 10% of Twitter users do: scroll through and read the messages posted on the main feed. Since I’m following 216 accounts it is quite a messy feed, ranging from posts from people I actually care about to some stupid, unreasonable reposts, like “you will not believe what Justin Bieber posted on Facebook. To see it, click this link here”. Uh-huh, yeah, I’m not that stupid. There are two things I don’t care about in these situations: Justin Bieber and getting my laptop infected with every single computer virus there ever has been.

But it’s not all that bad. I find out some surprising facts and I found something quite shocking car-wise that I decided to do some research and find out more of this trait in car world. CAR PART SHARING.

The post that caused this interest was about McLaren F1. An engineering marvel. It still is the fastest naturally aspirated car in the world with 390 km/h (240 mph) in the record books and it is sort of a hypercar that you wouldn’t be expecting to see a cocky rapper or a pretending genius, teeth-whitened producer behind the wheel. No. These cars are owned by true professionals like Jay Leno, Eric Clapton, Michael Schumacher, Elon Musk and Rowan Atkinson (who occasionally kept crashing and restoring his F1). The car had a price tag of $1m and, because only 106 were produced, this price won’t be decreasing for sure. So you expect this car to be made out of exotic materials and genuine parts created for the car. But you’d be wrong, because there was a set of parts on the car that you would be least expecting to be shared with some other car. I am talking about the rear lights.

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Now an ordinary human being would just say “no big deal”. But then you have to see what other car (or I’d rather say “motor vehicle”) shares them. Surprise, surprise, it’s a DAF bus.

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If the car DAF would’ve shared its parts with would’ve been a Ford or a Hyundai, I wouldn’t be surprised, but cost cutting on a million dollar supercar seems unjustified. It’s not like the company was short of cash. With McLaren having four consecutive F1 championship titles before the car was released in 1992 it’s not like they were short of cash. Or maybe they rushed it. That’s the only explenation I could think of – them rushing to finish the car in time before potential buyers turn away. Luckily McLaren aren’t the same anymore, having all their cars and technology designed “in the house” as they say in the car world.

But McLaren ain’t the only ones who fell into the misery of car part sharing. Here are a couple of other cars with some cheap parts and the cars these parts originated from.

ASTON MARTIN DB7 REAR LIGHT MODULES – 1989 MAZDA 323F

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I now understand why in 1990s James Bond didn’t drive the Aston. Because as you can see, cost cutting in the company was pretty horrible. The rear lights out of a economy car? It’s the only design element of that car I didn’t really like. Aston wasn’t all that great on the inside either, having a gearstick so close to the stereo that you couldn’t really change your cassette (or CD if you were tech-savy in those days) unless you had your car in a low gear if it was an auto box or if it was in 2nd, 4th or 6th. The switchgear and the console itself was very Fordish (which is no coincidence, as Aston was owned by Ford from 1987 to 2007. Ford also had a small share of Mazda as well, which explains the light sharing). It’s a shame, because it’s an Aston Martin.

ASTON MARTIN VIRAGE FRONT AND REAR LIGHTS – AUDI 200 and VW SCIROCCO

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It’s Aston again. But this car basically shows how bad things were before Ford took Aston Martin over. It’s no surprise that you haven’t heard of the Virage, because it was Aston’s call for desperation to stay alive. Just over 1000 cars were produced and they haven’t really found their place in classic car hall of fame. Partly it was because of its gopping looks. This car really looks like it was designed in a hurry by an accountant and a salesman. Then there was the parts sharing. The front lights were from Audi 200 and rear lights – from a VW Scirocco. They could’ve used parts from other manufacturers because these don’t fit at all. It makes the Aston look like a kit car built by some car enthusiasts during weekends. Some really could mistake this with a VW Scirocco coupe which for an Aston would be such a resentment.

MG SV-R – FIAT PUNTO

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The last years of MG were a pain to many car enthusiasts. Here is a brand with racing pedigree and charm dying a suffering death. This suffering also was reflected into cars they built. The MG SV-R was a weird project. Firstly because it was a super car from a brand that already earned a reputation for building cars for British pensioners (thanks to Rover). Secondly because though it was supposed to be a super car it was still built like a pensioner’s car. The front lights were inherited from Fiat’s Punto. It’s not a bad decision as it suited the design, making it look like it squints at you with a mean stare.

PAGANI ZONDA AIR CONDITIONING CONTROLS – MG ZS

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Now this one I found by pure chance and I started doubting Pagani. Up until the moment I found out about this I believed (sort of) what Horacio Pagani was saying, that he sprays a fresh grass air freshener around his office so he can concentrate better, that he was spending hours walking around the finished car and watching every single detail of it before redesigning it, that all the parts for his cars were made by Pagani. RUBBISH! So did MG just steal a batch of air conditioning units from you and dropped them into their cars? What’s more, they just kept washing petrolhead’s brains that all cars are “crafted to the absolute perfection” and hey used this claim to justify their £500k price tag. Why couldn’t you just rise the price for another £50k and insert proper electronic switch gear, not one that costs £60 (I did research. The MG air conditioning control unit costs £60). If your cars were an automotive perfection, why did you cut costs so early?

LAMBORGHINI DIABLO FACELIFTED MODEL’S HEADLIGHTS – NISSAN 300ZX

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It’s nothing huge, but I really preferred the pop-up headlights on the Diablo. That’s all because of the legislation that is supposed to “keep people alive by removing this fatal headlight design”. Thanks.

NOBLE M600 ENGINE – VOLVO S80 V8

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This last one though might not be a visual part, but it sure is quite an interesting one. The hard-core supercar maker Noble used the conservative Volvo’s mad V8 engine, added a couple of turbos and created a monster. It’s really a shame we will never see a V8 engine in a Volvo again because they’re now staying with 4-cylinder engines, but it’s weird that a Volvo engine powers a 200+mph supercar. What’s more, remove all the silencers on Volvo’s exhaust and you will have the best car to confuse people with, because when they’ll hear this roar and then see an S80 coming from that way they will think that they’ve lost their minds. These cars are called “sleeper’s cars”, because until you beat the guy next to you at the take off from traffic lights, he will never know that you have something sinister at your disposal.

Hot Pursuit: Countries where you really should obey the law on the road


Today let us look at various police forces around the world. But we are not after just speed ticket fines here, oh no. We’re after police cars that are powerful and quick enough to give the baddies a hard time.

USA

The land of the free – free speech (sort of), free enterprise (that they are blindly following), free choice to hold a gun (this has entered a dead end, unfortunately) – but when it comes to police cars, it’s not as free as you think it is.

First of all it’s the violence of the police force when attempting to stop the bad guys. You have seen endless hours of footage where police cars are ramming the “bad guys” off the road. And it’s not some soft push, saying “please, can you stop now?” It’s like in the films: “FREEZE, BASTARD!” Like they do in Gran Theft Auto.

Then they have proper cars for the job. Long gone are those fat, long Ford Crown Victorias you used to see in films. Now there are new kids on the bloc. First one is Bloomfield Township Police Department’s Cadillac CTS-V. For those who don’t know, the V in a Cadillac model name is the performance designation, i.e. it is a hard core version of that model. Same as the M is for BMW, AMG is for Mercedes, the R for Jaguar etc. This car is powered by the same 6.2 litre V8 engine that you find in Chevrolet Camaro. It’s no surprise, as everything GM does is then freely shared among other cars in the company. Cost saving at its best….or maybe finest…or purest…it’s hard to find the right word because this kind of cost saving practice isn’t anything positive. Why not? Google “GM Recalls” and you’ll see why.

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But there are some cars they have that don’t spend their time at a dealership having everything stripped and rebuilt. One of more famous recent police fleet updates are Dodge Chargers. Just recently, Dodge updated the Charger and, indeed, made a police version of that new car too. Unless you have a high-end exotic like a Lamborghini or Pagani or Bugatti, when you see the Charger and red & blue lights in the mirror, pull up, just for your own life’s sake.

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UNITED KINGDOM

On the other hand you have the UK and the police force mainly containing old Vauxhall Astras and Volvo V70s. On the plus side, before police leave the station to trace down and apprehend the miscreant, they have to go through the thing Britain is doomed with nowadays – health and safety checks, so by the time police cars in London will get the backup they’ve asked for, the criminal will already be in Poland by then. And there is no ramming or bashing either. They are tactical there. So I would like to imagine police trying to catch a fast, out of control maniac who’s going all over the place on the motorway.

But luckily for them they have a couple of cars that could be up for the job. One of them is one of ultimate “I-didn’t-know-it-is-that-fast” cars: Lexus IS-F. Yes, a Lexus IS-F! In a fleet alongside those Astras and Volvos the Lexus is like a unicorn. A quick unicorn too. it has a 5.0 litre V8 engine, a top speed of 168 mph (270 km/h) and 0-100 km/h time of 4.7 seconds. This very car is one of official vehicles of the Humberside Police squad. The reason for that is, as one of police officers said, “to help the force run down drug dealers in high-powered sports cars, and it has been used to seize criminal assets, too.” Good thing Breaking Bad wasn’t set in Humberside.

Lexus IS-Force

Another surprise is in Norfolk. Of course, to represent local car manufacturing traditions, Norfolk police use Lotus Evora. It actually is one of the best cars for the job, because it is quick enough to stop runaways and it sticks to the road like glue (as you would expect from Lotus). There’s only one drawback – it’s Norfolk, the county that has the lowest crime rate in the UK. That’s like getting bouncers to watch there are no fights in the kindergarden. But it is still cool.

2010_Lotus_Evora_-_UK_Police_003_1128Finally, London Metropolitan police. They made one of the stupidest decisions in the world. What they did was they bought a Lamborghini Murcielago (which alone cost around £200 000 when it was new. And that’s tax payer’s money, ladies and gentlemen, that they used. They said they didn’t, but so did Viktor Yanukovych when he built a villa for himself) and turned it into a police car. So they got a bit over the top with expenditure. Secondly, it’s completely useless. They did make it just for an MPH Car Show in 2006, but a Lamborghini supercar as a police car in CENTRAL LONDON? Where fastest you can go is walking pace? Besides, of all the beautiful cars in 2006 (like Aston Martin DB9, Jaguar XK, Pagani Zonda or Mercedes SLR) they chose one of the ugliest Lamborghinis ever made. Well done, Rozzers.

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GERMANY

Of course Germany have been known for those fantastic autobahns with limitless speeds and fantastic cars. It seems like it is a country that has a match made in heaven. But just to be sure that this limit is not exceeded too far, they have made sure that those on the Autobahn still obey when they see Porsche 911 police cars in the mirrors. You have seen them, probably, in Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed, but they are real. German “autobahn politzei” actually use 911s in their fleet for a good reason – most of production cars nowadays come with a speed limiter of around 250 km/h or 155 mph. The Porsche 911 top speed in its model range starts from 180 mph or 290 km/h.

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UAE

When it comes to exclusive police cars we have to talk about Dubai. They have the fleet of police cars so exclusive that some actually want to break the law just to be apprehended and taken around in one just to enjoy the ride of their lives before landing behind bars and getting lashed by their judges.

Just have a look at this escort:

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Back to front in this picture you see a Bentley Continental GT, McLaren MP4-12C, Ferrari FF and Bugatti Veyron. And judging by those people taking photos in the background, this picture is absolutely real.

I have no issues with the Dubai police….well I didn’t, until I saw THIS:

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If it was a Bugatti Veryon, I wouldn’t be bothered. But it isn’t. It is, in fact, an Aston Martin One-77. A car that is a masterpiece. It is the ultimate toy of a petrolhead car collector, an ode to automotive industry. What those morons in the Dubai police force did was take the actual painting of Mona Lisa and with a graffiti spray paint wrote “PROPERTY OF THE DUBAI NATIONAL ART GALLERY!” Why? The name One-77 is a clue. This car has only 77 hand made, patiently crafted beauties on the road. They basically ruined one of them. Just strapped some police lights, put some liveries on it and just ruined it. This car deserves to be driven around Stelvio pass with windows right down, stereo off and revs going as high as possible, NOT to be a show car for the wealthy. I just can’t stand when such delicate car brands are being ruined by these filthy-from-money individuals. First it happened with Bentley. Before the Continental GT came out Bentleys were known for their Le Mans history, for being elegant and fast get-about for the true gentlemen. Since the Continental GT came out, people from such “talent shows” as “The Only Way is Chelsea” or “Made in Essex” (I know I’ve written it wrong but I am so mad I just can’t be bothered to write it correctly) are buying these cars to show off. Therefore the whole reputation of the brand is RUINED. Everyone now who looks at a Bentley is thinking “oh look, a snobs car”. Same applies to Mercedes. I don’t want Aston to be part of this terrible fate. It is supposed to be like James Bond – mysterious, sharp and masculine – not like James Packer.

Next time, let’s talk about countries where you don’t have to fear from police.

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. 😉