Thursday, May 22, 2008

London Luxe Car Club

Wicked Cool:

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bugatti Veyron on Top Gear


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Friday, March 21, 2008

Sheetmetal Is Overshadowed by Economy

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Friday, February 29, 2008

How Crashworthy are your Wheels?

Here are the best Web sites to learn about car safety. Crash test data from insurance industry researchers Five-star crash rating system from government tests Fee-based site with independent safety data

The WSJ:

Car accidents are one of the biggest health risks we face, and this week that risk jumps higher. July Fourth is typically one of the worst days of the year for traffic fatalities.

The best thing you can do to protect yourself in a car is to wear a seatbelt, obey traffic laws and don't drink and drive. What you drive can also make a difference. Now there are a number of Web sites that show just how well your car held up in a crash.

Last fall, a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) showed that safety improvements in the design of passenger vehicles -- not safer drivers -- are the reason motor vehicle death rates have been improving for the past decade. The study found an "increasingly dangerous traffic environment," and that drivers are actually getting more careless about seatbelts, speeding and driving while intoxicated. In fact, the study showed that if vehicle designs hadn't improved since 1985, traffic death rates would be on the rise.

Although most cars now come with airbags and anti-lock brakes, crash test studies show there's a big difference in safety among cars today. One of the best places to check out your car is www.iihs.org4. Click on "Vehicle Ratings." The IIHS is supported by auto insurers and is viewed as one of the most credible sources for research on car safety. The group publicizes the best performers in crash tests, but many consumers don't know the safety data is free online.

The IIHS vehicle ratings page lists its top picks for 2007, the first year the institute has rated cars for electronic stability control, which helps drivers maintain control in an emergency. Research has shown that ESC features significantly reduce the risk of dying in a car accident.

Finding Out How Your Car Will Hold Up in a Crash
WSJ, July 3, 2007; Page D1


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Friday, December 28, 2007

How to winterize your car

Get your wheels ready for cold and snow: A thorough winterization is no longer necessary -- but if you live where it snows, there are a few things you can do to prepare your car for winter.

Check the coolant for the proper mix of antifreeze and water. You can have a mechanic do this or you can buy a tester at your local auto parts store.

Check the oil recommendations in your car's owner manual. Some manufacturers recommend a different grade of oil that flows better in cold temperatures.

Check the battery, specifically the level of electrolyte. If it's low, top it off with distilled water. (Note: Electrolyte can be nasty stuff; wear eye protection or have a mechanic check it for you).

Buy a set of snow tires. They do a much better job than the all-weather tires fitted to most cars. If you've upgraded the wheels on your car, mounting the snows on the original wheels will make changing over much easier.

Check your tire pressure. So, you didn't get those snows, huh? Well, at least make sure your tires are properly inflated to ensure you’ll have the best possible traction as you drive along — and traction is often severely jeopardized in wet, snowy or icy conditions. You can expect to lose 1 pound per square inch whenever the temperature drops by 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Replace your windshield wiper blades with snow blades.

Examine your belts and hoses. Make sure the belts and hoses get checked for wear and tear — even if you’re driving a modern car. Cold weather wears belts and hoses, so they deserve attention.

Get a snow brush and an ice scraper; leave them somewhere in the car.

Run your car air conditioning (at least) once a month. (Running the A/C speeds up window defogging).

Stock up on windshield washer fluid and top the washer tank off regularly. Be careful not to pour windshield washer fluid into the wrong tank!

Prepare an emergency kit. Store this stuff in your trunk during the winter months, especially if a road trip is in your future:
     A flashlight, flares and a first-aid kit.
     Jumper cables, a tool kit and tire chains.
     A blanket, warm clothes and gloves.
     Paper towels.
     A bag of abrasive material, such as sand, salt or non-clumping kitty litter.
          (Use this for added traction when a tire is stuck).
     A snow brush, ice scraper and snow shovel.
     Extra washer fluid.
     Extra food and water.
     Extra boots and gloves
     Small shovel


How to winterize your car 
Aaron Gold

Winterize Your Vehicle
Brent Romans
Edmunds Automotive

10 simple ways to get your car ready for winter

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

XSR48: a "supercar on water"

Its a holiday weekend, so I'll be out on the boat:

The XSR48 is a supercar on water, a luxury powerboat with supercar looks. With a total of no less than 1600hp, and as much of 2000hp, from two bi-turbo diesel engines, the XSR48 has supercar acceleration to match its stunning appearance. Top speed: over 100 mph.

Yours for only $1.95 million dollars . . .








Video of the XSR48 in action can be seen here.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ferrari F430

Looks like fun:

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Safer Way to Race Hot Cars

Monticello_race Very cool idea, via WSJ:

Mitchell Friedman drives a German-made Audi S4, designed to go 150 miles per hour or more for long stretches. But the 48-year-old New Jersey businessman has never come close to pushing the needle that far.

Although he's fascinated with fast cars, Mr. Friedman confesses to being "a bit scared. Besides, I've got two young children, and my wife won't let me drive fast."

He and other U.S. drivers fearful that their cars' capabilities exceed their own have another option on the horizon: touring, a deceptively sedate name for a pastime that strives to preserve the pulse-pounding speed of competitive racing but eliminate its spectacular smash-ups.

Originated in Europe, the concept is being introduced in the U.S., with one of the first touring tracks under construction in Monticello, N.Y. At an expected cost of $50 million, it's scheduled to open next year.

Tourers typically drive fast on wide, specially paved private racetracks with plenty of room for error. An instructor usually sits in the passenger seat telling drivers how fast or slow to go as they negotiate straightaways, the quick-succession of left-right turns in chicanes and the abrupt change of direction in hairpins. Cars on the course stay out of sight of each other -- often up to a half-mile apart. Passing isn't allowed. Speeds can reach up to 200 mph, instructor permitting.

This racing concept may have originated in Europe,  but its coming to America:

"Ferrari_p4_5Michael Kaplan, a former mergers-and-acquisitions attorney who is leading the investor group behind the Drive & Race Club, says he wasn't interested in building a track where amateurs can race each other; there's already about three dozen of those. The track is not for someone "looking to be next to some crazy kid who's trying to beat him," he says, but for "someone who wants to be with guys with fast cars who are just as scared as he is."

Nestled in the Catskill Mountains foothills about 80 miles northwest of New York City, the facility is being built at a time when well-heeled baby boomers have been buying expensive, high-performance automobiles capable of race-car speeds.

Their appetite is stoked by advances in aerodynamics, fuel-injection systems and carbon-fiber bodies that have made possible lightweight cars that can exceed 230 mph. "If you drive through any number of upscale neighborhoods with a keen eye, you'll see all these shiny new cars just sitting in garages," Mr. Kaplan says.

In the New York area -- where bankers and brokers have been enriched by a bullish stock market -- the demand is so great that the wait for a Lamborghini can be about a year and about two years for a Ferrari, several local dealers say.

The initiation fee at the Monticello track will be up to $100,000, with annual dues of up to $7,500 depending on how often members will use the track. Mr. Kaplan says membership will be limited to 750 and he has signed up about 100, with a goal of reaching 200 by the time of the facility's opening next spring.

And its coming to a newly built track near you:

After sifting through motor-vehicle records, Mr. Kaplan says he found that the Northeast -- especially New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts -- had the highest concentration of fast-car owners in the nation.

Experts say that car owners in other metro areas -- Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Phoenix -- have expressed interest in touring tracks. Several are on the drawing board, including ones in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

"If these tracks can be built with an element of safety to them," says Elliot Johnston, a California-based racing instructor, "I can see these types of clubs really taking off."

Building a high-speed course for amateurs, especially for drivers protective of their expensive sports cars, isn't an easy task. To construct the Monticello course, Mr. Kaplan has turned to former racers and engineers at Rutgers University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Factors to be considered: the gravitational forces on the driver that can equal those on a fighter-jet pilot and the difficulty of stopping at high speeds.

"When you're going at 180 mph and you put the brakes on, it feels like you have no brakes at all," says Brian Redman, a 70-year-old former British racing champion and a Monticello consultant. At about 3.5 miles, the Monticello track will be one of the longest in the sport. Straightaways are twice the width of a U.S. highway lane. Around corners, they will be triple the normal width.

Special "high-friction" surfaces will be installed on the bends and other tricky spots to keep the stray Porsche from skittering off the track. The outer fringes will be laid with two types of surfaces: coarse asphalt for greater tire grip and a rubber composite for bringing the car to a faster stop.

The course meanders through 225 acres of rolling hills. At its straightest point, it stretches for about a mile -- great for high speeds. The rest of the course is broken up by hairpin turns, corkscrews and bends.

The club has hired an MIT researcher to set up cameras on the track, in cars and at the clubhouse to film members as they wind their way around the course. Analyses of the footage can help drivers improve their performance. MIT's AgeLab views the club as a rare opportunity to study the reflexes of aging baby-boomers behind the wheel.

Very, very cool.

A Not-So-Crash Course
An Auto Touring Track Offers The Fast and the Timorous
A Safer Way to Race Hot Cars
July 3, 2007; Page A7

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Monday, July 23, 2007

2008 BMW M3


One of my favorite track cars gets even better:

You can pretty much sum up all of the accolades in a quick factoid from Gerhard Richter, vice president of BMW M Power, who said in Motor Trend that the V8-powered M3 clocked 3.4 seconds faster on the Nürburgring Nordschleife than the V10 M5. That’s 8:10 a lap. He added: “I could do that while talking to you as I drive.”

But there’s another side to that story. In the same Motor Trend review, Angus Mackenzie, the magazine’s editor in chief, called the E92 M3 “a pussycat around town.” And he wasn’t the only one.

What Car? said it was “comfortable and well equipped, and is as eminently suitable as an everyday car as it is at home on racetracks.” AutoWeek said it was “not quite as tactile in its actions, perhaps, as the car it replaces.” And Car thought that “in trying to hit so many targets, the E92 leaves purists wanting.”

Kind of sounds like the bean counters have turned the M3 into an AMG: all big engine and great numbers and a drive that’s too refined.

Very cool.


Is the BMW M3 Too Perfect?
Richard S. Chang
NYT, July 12, 2007,  10:50 am

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ferrari F430


From last week's NYT:

"Of course, stoking demand with limited production doesn’t make sense unless the demand is there in the first place. With all the hoopla over this car, you’d think it would be nearly impossible for it to live up to expectations. But the F430 manages to deliver, despite the baggage inherent in its status as the It Car of the prancing-horse brand.

This car plays in the realm where performance numbers are everything, and on that front it duly hangs with the Porsche 911 Turbos and Corvette Z06s of the world (as well it should, considering its price).

But the F430 is more than a cold-blooded G-force generator. It’s a total experience, one that dopes every pleasure receptor in your brain with automotive giddiness. Achieving that abstract goal is always trickier than hitting hard performance targets — call it the alchemy of desirability.

You get the impression that in designing the F430, Ferrari’s every decision was framed by the question, “How can we make this more like a Formula One car?”

So the 4.3-liter, 479-horsepower V-8 got a motor with a high-pitched, hard-edged wail that’s unlike anything else you’ll hear from a car with license plates. That high-strung motor is mounted behind the passenger compartment and ahead of the rear axles, just like a Formula One car.

The F1 sequential manual transmission does away with a clutch pedal, instead giving the driver shift paddles on either side of the steering column, just like a Formula One car (although traditionalists can still order a six-speed manual). The steering wheel features Ferrari’s “mannetino,” a small rotary switch with six settings to tailor the car’s electronic aggressiveness, from a snow-and-ice mode (as if!) to race, to the position beyond race that Ferrari’s people politely asked me not to engage, as it disables all traction and stability control . . .

Machine Is a Dream. Wait Is a Nightmare.
NYT, July 1, 2007

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