Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Organic Supercars

Nowadays a Ferrari can average 21.5 MPG and distress birds with less than 300g of CO2 / km . This is great in theory , but the legitimate question is is that really necessary?

Let’s put it this way : you are a middle aged millionaire looking for new sensations , you die your hair on a monthly basis and you are bored of going to the golf course in your S Klasse Merc . This means that you are looking for a super-car , preferably orange with red brake calipers , to make you feel younger. Would you care about the mileage ?.. Nope.

People who buy super-cars should theoretically afford to satisfy the car’s petroholic needs. You don’t buy a Ferrari because it has a better fuel consumption than a Polo , you buy it because you are a real petrolhead , because you would rather go for a hill climb than for a date with Kate Moss…( the only reason I gave this example is because I’m pretty sure I will never date Kate Moss and I’m jealous ).

Anyway, the point is nobody really cares about the mileage of a super-car , unless they have really bad dreams about the recession …or they are greenheads . Today eco is cool, a Prius would definitely compensate for a small…house and a hybrid Lexus would surely make you look like a responsible businessman . But why would a super-car be environmentally friendly ? It’s like putting sugar on Indian food to make it less spicy…it’s pointless . The percentage of super-cars is also fairly small compared to the percentage of buses , planes , factories , old bangers and so on. Most people get into their exotic rides just a few times a year and this does no harm to the environment what so ever. Actually , we get more pollution from Golfs than we get from super-cars , so why make engineers think about saving the planet when we shall let them think about technical perfection , performance and art. We didn’t burn Degas’ Nudes , just because they weren’t portraits of monks , instead we considered them really good art. It’s the same with cars…you can’t blame a Veyron of not being a Smart .

Man is capable of doing great things and man proved that cars can be art . We had the Bugatti Royale , the Gullwing Merc , the Ferrari 250 GTO , the DB4 , the Miura , Stratos , E-type ,F40, Speedster and so on . Building a great car is definitely art and we should let the artists do their jobs and the public enjoy their work . We do not want a MP4-12C Mclaren, we want the real deal , we want the F1 . Art is about not having to deal with constraints like yet another CO2 government policy or ecologists’ protest .

When I look at the latest range of super-cars like the Aventador , 458 , 12C even the SLS I just don’t get over excited . I’m 19 and I’d rather have a DB4 Zagatto than a DBS . And that’s because new cars lack passion and soul . Even the names are just random mixtures of codes and numbers. My drilling machine has a nicer name than the new Ferrari or Mclaren . What happened to the Diablo , Daytona or Lagonda ? There’s no teenage boy nowadays that would stick a poster of a new Lambo on his walls , because he’ll surely prefer a poster of Snoop Dogg instead. And I can’t blame them .

The New Aston Martin Zagato

It’s supposed to be a tribute brought to the 50th anniversary of the old DB 4 Zagato , one of the most beautiful and exclusive cars ever made .Only 25 Zagatos were built in the 60s and that means that 50 years later they turned into some of the greatest auction stars , with prices going up from one million pounds . The new one is pretty similar to the oldie in two ways : looks and price .

All car enthusiasts are aware of the racing Zagato , presented earlier this year and let’s be honest…it looks absolutely fantastic . The good thing is that the road going version will look exactly the same. The bad thing is that it will also cost a lot. 300 000 pounds for an exotic , limited edition Vantage is a bit too much…way too much . But then , we are talking Astons, which are not really renowned for offering good value for money ( they sell a Toyota IQ for thirty grand…). That’s why there’s no point in comparing this car to the equivalent cheaper and probably better Ferrari . It should be instead compared to a painting or to the statue of a naked Renessaince lady , because what Aston Martin try to do with the Zagato is not just a car , but some sort of art…and art should be expensive in order to be attractive .

But is this relevant in these diesel powered recession times? Probably not, but that’s exactly the main characteristic of art: the crazy lack of utility and common sense . Plus , only 150 will be made and they’ll probably sell them anyway .


* 6.0 litre V12 ( 510 bhp / 420 lb torque )

* hand built aluminum and carbon fibre body

* independent wishbone suspension with adaptive dampers

* aluminium chassis

Seeking Motoring Perfection - The Citroen DS

The modern car has begun with the Citroen DS. It was, back in 1955 when it was launched, the first mass production car to get front power disc brakes…It also had independent suspension , power steering , fuel injection , semi-automatic gearbox , a hydropneumatic suspension that allowed it to magically modify its ground clearance and headlamps that would follow the corners .

It was an immense technical achievement and in its first day of display at the Paris Motor Show , more than 12 000 were ordered . It’s no wonder that in its 20 years of production one and a half million people bought a new one, turning it into one of the most successful car models ever made . It was this very car that turned Citroen into a big name, not only because it was so innovative but mostly because it actually worked . The hydraulic suspension meant that it was comfortable, a good characteristic when cruising down the post World War II roads. It also handled well for a car of that time and the range of engines could provide enough power to make any ride enjoyable . The roof was made out of fiberglass to facilitate weight transfer and the different wheel size meant that the quite large executive saloon wouldn’t understeer.

And then there’s the look… Flaminio Bertoni , the Italian sculptor designed it and passed the sketches to Andre Lefebvre , who was an aeronautical engineer . The result was a beautifully shaped yet aerodynamic body, in a time when most people would consider aerodynamics a form of heresy. Everybody loved the curvy shape that perfectly embodied stile and practicality and , as a result , a large number of film directors included it in their productions .

The DS quickly turned into a symbol , a symbol that was to define Citroen’s personality. After the DS , a buyer would expect every Citroen to be innovative , beautiful , sexy , standing at the limit between common sense and madness . Did the French manufacturer ever rise to the DS standards? Probably not…

Seeking Motoring Perfection - The Ferrari F40

The Ferrari F40 is much like Sir Anthony Hopkins : not really good looking , but full of masculinity , not really white-collar , but always elegant , not really a front page star , but still a charismatic character.

When it was first launched in 1987 , the F 40 was the fastest production car money could buy …And indeed you had to take a lot of money out of your piggy-bank to get one since the 200 000 pounds retail price was not realistic. The dealers would ask much more and some admitted paying almost three times the original price for it .

But then, the car was nothing you would expect for that amount of money. It had no stereo , no carpets , no electric windows, no AC , no door handles , no traction control . The interior felt like a minimalistic house of that period : it had two chairs…and nothing else . And there’s a very good reason for that : lightness . Add this to the carbon fibre bonnet and the result is a vehicle which could do 201 mph due to the atrocious 2.9 litre twin-turbocharged V8 .

It was so powerful that it could eat the straight on any Grand Prix track and then digest it in the first few corners . It was so light and well balanced that it could give any driver the confidence that he could push harder , go faster and aim for the next apex . In fact it was so good that , once anybody got behind the steering wheel , the only thing he or she could care about was drive…fast. The only reason for slowing down would be to watch the reflection of that beautiful Pininfarina body in some store’s window .( Scientists claim actually that the testosterone molecule looks exactly the same as the F40 ) .

And that’s why this car was and still is very special. You could sell some of your organs to buy one and even a priest would understand you .You could rob a bank to get the money for it and the jury would plead not guilty and offer you a ride to the nearest dealership…in a police car …Just because it’s a Ferrari F40 .

The New Maseratti Kubang

A new Maserati has been announced these days . It’s called the Kubang and it’s…well…big .

The Kubang is a new approach for Maserati , one of the biggest names in the sports cars industry , because it is their very first SUV . They’re probably aiming financial success since fancy named off-roaders appeal to the public ( see the case of the X BMWs and Porche’s Cayennes ) . But will it be good ?

Well it certainly is good looking , like all the Maserati range . It looks like a taller , meaner , heavier Granturismo and that can’t be bad . Under the bonnet there’s the same fire-spitting V8 , which is also a good thing . Probably it would not go off road like a Range Rover , probably not even like a Cayenne , but it will surely be a good cruising SUV , which is I think what they have in mind .

And if there’s a sporty highway off-roader what you’re after then why buy an ugly BMW X6 M ?

But this video putting the Kubang in the descent of Maserati’s racers ?..seriously now , you’re taking it too far folks…

Seeking Motoring Perfection - The Bugatti Veyron

There aren’t many brands in the world of motoring stronger than Bugatti . And that’s because they never really built a bad car or a car for everybody. Bugatti stands for exclusive perfection , it’s like a Marlin Monroe of cars (only without the drugs) or like the French cuisine : great but in small quantities . The exclusive car auctions sell Bugatties at astonishing prices , and that’s because a Bugatti is a car for a coneseur , a car for an art collector.

And then VW bought it and created the Veyron . When they first announced it I didn’t know what to expect : a Phaeton engine with Passat stearing wheel and Jetta headlamps , all strapped to a van chassis or a really great super-car . To be honest , I was pretty sure it would be the first, but I was wrong . What VW did was the greatest car in the world…ever.

I consider modern super-cars to be quite dull and lacking passion but this is not the case with the Veyron . Unfortunately , I also consider that in this bird protecting green world , we won’t get the chance of having a car that would be better as an engineering achievement than that. When it will be out of production , it would be like the Concorde : unpreceded and unlikely to ever happen again .

Putting 1000 bhp in a car ( 1200 for the SS ) sounds like total madness . You’d say that whether it has the power of a space shuttle , it would also go like one : in a straight line only at 400km/h. But it’s also greatly balanced in the corners , calm and forgiving when you push hard , comfortable and luxurious when you cruise along . It’s the perfect recipe and then it’s the looks : it’s exactly the modern Bugatti one would imagine : fancy , strange, scary , exotic but white-collared in the same time. If sex on wheels is more than just a stupid phrase , than that’s exactly what the Veyron should be . In these conditions the enormous price can be justified. Actually , for the first models, VW had to pay more for production than the price they asked . And it’s great they didn’t quit and turned the Veyron into an XXIst Century icon . A real icon , unlike the Prius or…Lady Gaga .

Speaking of price , the billion figure also makes it a real Bugatti because it’s what gives it exclusivity. It’s also not depreciating and this proves it actually is good value for money , if one can say that for such a car . That’s why you don’t get to see it on a daily basis like you get to see other supercars but when you do it makes you feel special …even if you are just a spectator…

It could be displayed in The Louvre actually…