McLaren P12: Teaser Before Paris Debut

September 6, 2012

The upcoming Paris Motor Show (Sept. 29 – Oct. 14) promises to be a monumental (and in all probability, exquisitely detailed) affair for McLaren Automotive. This event will mark McLaren’s first-ever appearance at an International Motor Show and aside from the showcasing of their updated 2013 MP4-12C (and its open-top Spider variant), all eyes will be keenly locked towards the unveil of the ‘spiritual successor’ to the incredible F1 hypercar of the ’90s – the new McLaren ‘P12’.

The above image is the only teaser-image that McLaren has offered-up prior to the unveiling and I couldn’t be happier about that – better to keep these things under wrap and the mind wandering. If anything, it definitely appears to be more dramatic than the slightly humdrum (yet efficiently purposeful) MP4-12C.

Slightly revealing/hinting spy-photo of the P12 prototype’s rear haunch.

Information regarding power and spec is also (understandably) scant at this point in time as well, but definitely expect a modified version of their existing 3.8L, twin-turbo V8 to power the new car (they now believe V12’s are ‘so yesterday’…hmm… Ferrari-jab anyone ?) along with a KERS-style energy recuperation system that could easily report combined power figures in the 750+ bhp area.

We await the official Paris Motor Show unveil…

-Blake J.
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Video: Hot Wheels Loop-The-Loop – Full Scale..!

July 4, 2012

Fairly certain I’m not in the minority here as having devoted a huge portion of my youth towards the collection, upkeep and fun-times associated with the wonderful world of Hot Wheels. Eventually, I branched out into Matchbox cars (had the coveted carrying-case ‘briefcase’) and even Fast 111’s trickled onto the make-believe scene as well.

I carted this around wherever I went… Important business inside..!

Yet, with Hot Wheels (along with the endless deluge of click-track that constantly morphed and grew within our collection) there was always that one tricky bit of fun called the Loop-the-Loop – Enter too fast and your car would just fly off the edges. Enter too slow and your car would just roll right back towards you… Needless to say, it took a carefully judged weight and angle of attack coupled with the right amount of lead-up track in order to complete a successful (and clean) Loop-the-Loop.

Full scale fun…

Enter the flamboyant X-Games held over this past weekend and here we have the full scale version driven by Greg Tracy (green car) and Tanner Foust (yellow car), complete with the requisite jump at the end… Enjoy..!

Blake J. 
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BMW: Next M3 Will Feature Inline-6 Power

May 22, 2012

BMW’s North American boss, Ludwig Willisch, has confirmed that the next M3 will ditch the current naturally-aspirated V8 in favour of the classic inline-6 configuration that has powered the M3 in past e36 and e46 chassis outings… Unlike past efforts though, this new inline-6 will undoubtedly feature 2, or possibly even 3, turbo chargers bolted on to harness (and of course, needlessly surpass) the extra grunt required in this day and age.

Rendering of the next M3

There were initial plans for a chopped/sliced/turbocharged V6 derivative of the current, free-breathing 4.0L V8 but those plans have now been set aside. All that’s left to squandor over now is just how much forced induction tech will be nailed onto the inline-6 to achieve the ever-ridiculous power-increase that is required to sell units… I mean, we’re seriously looking at 440-450 bhp… in an M3… that will probably tack-on more weight/bulk anyways (just like the latest, porky-pie M5).

The current (chunky) V8 M3 with the ‘Performance Pack’

It’s pretty safe to say that the M3 is entering into that shady area of motoring now where its massive power-output will soon become an un-accessible entity on normal roads, for normal drivers… As the true saying goes – More power, more weight, more grip = Less fun.

The naturally-aspirated (and mad fun) inline-6 e46 M3 CSL

Of course I’d be in the minority here, but I’d happily trade 3-400 kgs of shed weight from the next M3 (the current M3 is a porky-pants as well) and a gutsy, responsive, 375 bhp, naturally-aspirated inline-6 over some muted, tri-turbo variation dishing out more torque and power than 99% of the M3 drivers on the road can even handle or comprehend.

Not the most-favourite M3, but its naturally-aspirated inline-6 provided driving thrills to coincide with its chassis.

Sure, it’ll ‘go like hell’ but at what cost to the driving enthusiast who enjoys the reachable and exploitable nuances displayed by M3’s of yore… ?

I’d still take the original, 4-cyl. e30 M3 over them all…

Message to BMW re: the M3: We want lightweight FUN, not extra weight and massive power.

-Blake J.
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Video: Ken Block’s Gymkhana 4 – Bonus Edit

May 22, 2012

Say what you rightly have to say (and think) about the Ken Block/DC Shoes ‘Gymkhana’ series of spectacular, automotive hoonery… Some call it masturbational and self-congratulating to the point of being absurd and some celebrate the undoubtedly phenomenal driving skills and OTT antics of Mr. Block (and the overall sound/visual production levels) as something we should covet and simply enjoy in this Health ‘n Safety riddled world we’ve become so (worryingly) obsessed with…

Either way, there’s no denying that a newly stripped-back and ‘less-Hollywood’ re-edit of last Summer’s Gymkhana 4 video will entice the interest of even the most stuffy of automotive enthusiasts… This is just flat-out, automotive pornography on an out-of-control level that’s just pure fun and simply ridiculous… Enjoy…!

-Blake J.
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Aston Martin: The ‘Ultimate’ Special Edition DBS

May 9, 2012

The current Aston Martin DB9/DBS shape is one of those automotive-landscape entities that has, undoubtedly, garnered deserved praise for its elegantly stunning and aggressively handsome design flourishes ever since its 2004 debut. It will, without fail, go down as one of the most beautiful sports/GT-cars ever made.

Just last night, during my usual evening stroll, I was taken aback by the sight of a lone, granite-grey DB9 parked up all by itself along one of the many quietly-curving, tree-lined streets that make up my old-money/Mansion-infested neighborhood. Point being, the DB9 still manages to stop me dead in my tracks and forces me to drink it all in… again… and again.

So it goes without saying that the eventual successor to the current DB9/DBS will have quite a job on its hands in keeping faithful to the beautiful mark that has been undeniably stamped onto the automotive scene. Said replacement will see the light of day sometime next year (probably) so it’s no surprise that there will be several ‘run-out’ Special Edition versions of the DB9/DBS cocktail forthcoming until then – the ‘Ultimate’ DBS, pictured, is the latest.

Only 100 ‘Ultimate’ DBS variants will be made and the features are, as usual with most run-out special editions, mostly cosmetic. Each Ultimate DBS will be individually numbered and identified by bespoke badging, loads of carbon fibre, shadowy grilles and tail-lamps, diamond-quilted stitching on your leather seats with either silver or red thread and your choice of red, yellow or black-painted calipers to complete the ‘Ultimate’ finishing touches…

Exterior paint colours offered are Carbon Black II, Quantum Silver, or Silver Fox – so basically Black, Grey or Silver. Both Coupe and Volante body styles are offered as well as either Automatic or Manual transmissions…

Hmmm… Silver-Fox DBS Ultimate with red calipers and red stitching being nursed through a Manual gearbox – yes, please.

-Blake J.
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In Memoriam: Ferdinand Alexander Porsche – 1935-2012

April 5, 2012

Take a moment to doff your cap in memoriam of the passing of Ferdinand Alexander Porsche; the man credited with designing and shaping the iconic Porsche 911.

Born in 1935 and the eldest son of Ferry and Dorothea Porsche, FA (as he was more commonly known) carried the family traditions of ‘good, honest design’ philosophies throughout his tenure at Porsche. It was in 1962, shortly after being appointed the Head of the Porsche Design Studio, that he penned the iconic 911 shape that has endured in its basic form for the last 50 years.

Ferdinand with a scale-model of his legendary creation - the 904 GTS

Ferdinand also acheieved worldwide acclaim for his designs in various industrial accomplishments as well, not least being pens, eyewear, desk lamps, chairs and wrist-watches amongst many others…

The 904 GTS in action

FA also designed the 1962 Type 804 F1 racecar along with the forever legendary (and beautiful) 904 GTS, but the 911 was his shining moment that cemented his vast abilities and talents within the Porsche automotive philosophy and his family’s long-standing tradition of exquisite refinement.

The 1962 Type 804 Formula 1 car

Ferdinand was 76 years old.

Sculpting the 911 in 1962

-Blake J.
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Mustang Shelby 1000: Limited Edition 1,100HP ‘Stang For The Insane

March 28, 2012

If the recently launched 650 bhp Mustang Shelby GT500 has you crying out for even more power to twist through the live rear axle of Ford’s increasingly belligerent musclecar, then perhaps you’ll want to remove the lollipop from your mug and steer your sights towards this new creation from Shelby: The Shelby 1000.

Available in two states of tune – 950 bhp in ‘standard’ tune or 1,100 bhp in full-on ‘track’ tune – the Shelby 1000 marks the 50th anniversary of the first time Carroll Shelby slotted a big V8 into a small AC way back in ’62 and will have its official debut at the upcoming New York Auto Show.

Starting with the new GT500 as a base, Shelby completely strips the 5.4L V8 and adds a new crankshaft, camshaft, valve springs, new conrods and pistons, ports the cylinder heads, upgrades the exhaust and cooling systems and tops it all off by replacing the supercharger with a Kenne Bell 3.6L supercharger…

The openly faked/photoshopped 'lift-off' pic, compliments of Shelby themselves...

For the track-only 1,100 bhp full-on-nutter version, the tuning goes even further with American Racing headers, a Borla 3-inch exhaust and a Whipple 4.0L supercharger rounding out the madness.

Onto the handling upgrades; you get new anti-roll bars and firmer bushes along with new suspension uprights. Eibach adjustables, new control arms and a Watts link system also make the list. The brakes receive six-piston calipers up front and four-piston units out back while the aero mods include an aggressively vented and bulging hood (to contain all of that power, y’see…) along with a new front splitter, sideskirts and rear diffuser. The rear-end is also replaced with a 9-inch unit and is mated to an aluminium driveshaft.

Quite why you’d spend $149,995 (yes, you read that correctly) for even more power to be (arguably) wasted through the rear tires is beyond this writer’s grasp of motoring reason but hey, some people get absolutely enthralled by the prospect of owning such a thing, purely for schoolyard-levels of bragging rights, one could very easily (and rightly) assume. Only 100, in total, will be made.

And it’s also worth mentioning that the $149,995 does not include the base GT500 that you’ll have to give Shelby as a donor car in order to receive all of the above upgrades. If you’d prefer Shelby to do all of the work from scratch, then that’ll set you back a smidge over $200,000… and hopefully a pill to ingest that blanks-out the fact that you paid that much $ for a Mustang…

There are very few cars on the market nowadays that any motoring enthusiast might consider ‘kind of ridiculous’… add this to that list please.

(Promo-vid from the Road & Track folks…)

-Blake J.
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Sebring 2012: The Sights And Sounds

March 20, 2012

Audi scored a 1-2 victory this past weekend at Sebring International Raceway for the annual ’12 Hours of Sebring’ race. It was not only the 60th anniversary of the event itself, but the final (and fitting) swan song for the Audi R18 TDI.  Tom Kristensen, Dindo Capelloand and Allan McNish completed 301 laps in their Audi R18 to win by four laps in the opening round of the American Le Mans Series.

Presented here are the sights and sounds from this year’s Sebring 12 Hours, starting off with a video that contains no dramatic voice-overs or commentary – just the pure, raw sounds and sights as seen from various trackside points…

The Field - part 1

The Field - part 2

Turn one

-Blake J. 
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Lamborghini Aventador J: Photo Album (and video) Of The Mad Roadster Hypercar

March 7, 2012

Lamborghini graced the 2012 Geneva Motor Show by presenting a striking one-off Roadster interpretation of their Aventador Supercar. It was a secret best-kept in the finest of Motor Show traditions with its drop-jaw effectiveness basically outshining the debut of Ferrari’s most powerful road-car to date: The 740 bhp F12berlinetta.

So what exactly do we have here…? Essentially, this is Lamborghini displaying their rather unique utilization of carbon-fibre advancements within a bespoke Aventador chassis. Called the ‘J’, its name harkens back to the Miura Jota and (quite possibly) the FIA ‘appendix J’ guidelines for homologation classes and is a uniquely expensive way to achieve your driving thrills with the added bonus of various insects and road-debris ricocheting off your teeth and hair. It’s also comic-book insane… which is a very good thing.

To make up for the loss of bodywork, the Aventador’s carbon chassis has been extensively revised with loads of visible carbon bracing and carbon roll-over hoops. Understandably, the air-con has been ditched (why would you need it..?), as has the sat-nav to help reduce weight. F1-inspired aero nods embellish the front and rear sections while rather tasty carbon-fibre blades adorn the alluring wheel design. Oh, and I quite approve of the ‘upside-down’ rear wing as well…

The J retains the same 6.5L 700 bhp V12 of the standard Aventador yet we’re highly confident that the shocking performance will be greatly enhanced in the visceral sense. Interior-wise, Lamborghini has also displayed a patented new flexible ‘carbonskin’ material to adorn the fixed carbon seats – a material that Lamborghini claims will grace high-end clothing sometime in the near future – sounds geeky… I like that.

If you’d fancy getting your paws on the J, well… we’re sorry to report that it has already been sold. Price..? 2.1 million euros, plus taxes.

Rounding this off with an excellent on-the-podium, close-up view showing all of the mad details that imbue this one-off Aventador J. All I can say is, thank heavens for Lamborghini and their crazy automotive ways… We need more of that in this world.

-Blake J.
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Porsche: Next-Gen 911 GT3 Could Be PDK-Only…?

February 14, 2012

I’ve just read an article originating from Insideline that tells of the threat (yes, it’s ridiculous enough news to warrant it as such) according to Porsche 911 project chief, August Achleitner, that the next-gen Porsche 911 GT3 – remember now, the hardcore purists choice of 911 – could very well come with a PDK-only transmission…

According to Achleitner, both manual and PDK transmissions are being ‘evaluated’ for consideration in the next GT3 (and here’s where I roll my eyes) but apparently only one transmission will be chosen in the end for the hardcore GT3 and he reckons the boring-as-mud, poseur PDK will get the nod. Achleitner continues to blither on with false numbers and ridiculous statements, one of which being that ‘only’ 30% of 911 sales are manual stick-shift so therefore PDK is a no-brainer… huh..? That’s just poor business sense if you ask me.

The new 991-gen 911 - oh, how I squint further at thee...

The embarrassment continues when Achleitner says “When we launched the 911 Turbo S, we did not offer a manual, but we have not had a single complaint”. Sure you didn’t Achleitner… But then again, of course he’d say that as Porsche charges (and makes) a load of extra cash on each 911 that is ordered with the PDK. By that token then, I’d think I’d be safe in reminding Porsche that 100% of previous-gen 997 GT3 sales were manual transmission…? Despite what Porsche may think, not every 911 owner spends their time bragging about 0-60 times and impressing their friends with launch-control.

Seeing as how the next-gen GT2 and GT3 will also be fitted with the new (and highly-controversial) electromechanical power steering set-up that has already come under heavy criticism for its lack of ‘feel’ and reportedly synthetic feedback qualities, it seems an unnecessarily brash move against Porsche driving-purists (and proper drivers, in general) to come out swinging with this silly threat of ‘you can have this, or nothing at all’ type of statement.

Could there not be anything more 'wrong' in the sportscar realm than a Porsche 911 without a manual option...?

I call BS on the whole story – this is just Porsche, once again, ruffling-up the feathers of the automotive world and heaving mass attention in their direction for the sake of headlines and discussion…. Does Porsche really, I mean really, think that GT3 buyers will be happy as lambs with electromechanical power steering and PDK-only…? C’mon…

Porsche has been developing (and offering) a new 7-speed manual transmission for the new 991-based 911 already so I don’t exactly buy into Achleitner’s claims that this ‘populist’ PDK-only option/threat has any weight behind it at all.

The GT3 RS 4.0 - the last proper 911 aimed at driving purists/enthusiasts...?

And my friends actually wonder why the new plethora of sportscars continue to fail in exciting me anymore… So thank you, to all the flappy-paddle posers… you have now successfully contributed to the ruination of, what used to be, one of the greatest driver’s cars ever.

-Blake J.
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