Photo Album: Luxury Supercar & Concours d’Elegance Weekend – Vancouver 2012

September 11, 2012

This past weekend (Sept. 8th and 9th) marked the third annual Luxury Supercar & Concours d’Elegance Weekend, held on the grounds of the beautiful Van Dusen Gardens in the Shaughnessy region of Vancouver, British Columbia.

The size of the show this year nearly doubled in comparison to the previous year and, it must be said, the thought given towards the layout, open-space and ambiance of the swooping lawns of Van Dusen in displaying these vehicular beauties was an appreciated improvement over any other car-show I’ve ever attended at the historical garden. Well done, organizer(s)… 😉

For this year’s event, special attention was given towards celebrating certain themes. Among those were: 50 years of James Bond cars, Classic Supercars, the 60th Anniversary of Porsche in North America, 50 years of Shelby cars, Mercedes-Benz roadsters, classic Italian motorbikes and (almost) 100 years of Aston Martin.

The weekend culminated with the Shaughnessy Concours d’Elegance, awarding trophies on Sunday to the Best In Class. And Sunday was my chosen day for attending the event, seeing as how the Saturday was absolutely jam-packed with loads of people at the event during one of our last days of blistering Summer-y sunshine before Autumn announces its arrival.

This turned out to be a smart decision on my part, as Sunday was forecasted with overcast skies and a noticeable cooling in temperatures. Less people and less sunshine = a more comfortable and relaxed viewing (and photographical) experience all around.

Some notable cars in attendance were the new 2013 Aston Martin Vanquish, the 1933 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 by Figoni, the 1951 Ferrari 212 Export Vignale Coupe (stunning), the return of the 1967 Toyota 2000GT (the only one in Canada), the Ferrari F40 and Enzo supercar, the wide assortment of Lamborghinis both old and new, the army of Shelby Mustangs, the 4 (or was it 5 ?) McLaren MP4-12C’s in varying trim and colour packages, the Mercedes/Mclaren SLR 722, the Spyker C8, the 1947 Humber Sedanca D’Ville (owned by King George VI)… and so on…

It goes without saying that this was one of, if not THE, most extraordinary vehicular event this fair, west-coast city has ever laid host to… So without further ado, let’s allow the photos to illustrate the extravagance and automotive rarities that were bestowed upon our region for one fine weekend in September… Hope you enjoy the photos.

-Words and Photography: Blake J.

Videos: Ferrari, AMG and Audi Self-Congratulating their Online Social Marketing Numbers

May 2, 2012

‘Social Media is king’ – Yes yes yes… In this day and age we’ve firmly grasped that unequivocal reality by now, despite how confusingly ridiculous and painfully dumbed-down the ‘clickable’ methods of self-congratulating fanfare have become in achieving these Grand Statements of Internet Glory, as so brazenly rolled out by top-brand manufacturers…

Ferrari burning (photoshopped) rubber to celebrate the obvious...

Yet somewhere along the way of this tail-spinning online world, rife with increasingly brain-numbing tactics and strategies and marketing obsessions with SCO’s and such, influencing people to simply click a ‘thumb-up’ button on their computer’s screen has actually become A Big Deal… as AMG proudly displays hereth…

Now think about that for a second – Massive companies and corporations are actually celebrating the fact that many millions of humans clicked onto their Facebook page and subsequently clicked a thumbs-up button, with their mouse… We’re supposed to go ‘wow!’ to that news and say ‘job well done chaps’… ?

Is it not a worldwide ‘given’ that companies such as Coca-Cola and Starbucks and Ferrari have quite a healthy, in the mega-millions, dedicated fanbase despite social marketing claims…? Obviously, Ferrari is the sell-out King of merchandising their brand to legions of followers/minions and, unsurprisingly, they want you to know it…

Somehow, this clicking-of-‘like’-buttons and obsessions with ‘view numbers’ on YouTube pages is seen as a marked achievement by these top brands – in this case, an achievement deemed worthy of chucking money towards silly, tire-smoking video productions to highlight their ‘accompishment’ and ‘thank’ all those that clicked the upward-pointing thumb on their FB page…

AMG c63 ‘thanking you’ for watching and clicking…

Really now…? Is that really an impressive feat…? Well yes, nowadays it is, it would seem… Companies (and people) will do just about anything, no matter how stupifyingly simple and brain-oozingly dumb, to gather your attention and persuade you to click a button, watch a video and interact with your opinions… Utterly baffling sometimes… Squeal away, Audi….

Welcome to online automotive marketing where any cause (or excuse) to illuminate the most banal of irrelevant, self-righteous claims is the way forward. Millions of people ‘like’ your global corporation…? uhm, yeah… we know…. we really, REALLY know… Sally’s self-gratifyingly emotive statement from 1980 says it all…

-Blake J.

Audi Concept Unveiled: Chunky Q3 Receives the RS Badge *eyes roll*

April 18, 2012

Audi has released photos of its latest concept in the form of its baby Q3 SUV adorned with the firm’s ‘ultra high performance’ RS (RennSport = Racing Sport) badge from their coveted Quattro GmbH wing. The official unveiling will occur at next week’s Beijing Motor Show and well, one could see why – this sort of thing will light-up eyes and sell in droves in China.

Propelling this (undoubtedly heavy) ‘RS’ SUV will be the company’s characterful 2.5L 5-cylinder turbo-charged unit dispelling the same 360 bhp power-figure as the one fitted inside the latest TT RS ‘Plus’. 4-wheel drive is a given and shuffling that power to all 4 wheels comes courtesy of a 7-speed R-tronic twin-clutch unit. All of this wizardy manages to propel the attractive anomaly to 60 mph in 5 seconds and hit 165 mph when going for gold.

Rather confusingly, the RS Q3 concept receives a hefty 25mm drop alongside the usual ‘sporty’ RS-morphing visual cues; redesigned chunkiness here and there and astronomically huge 335/30 tires riding on 20″ wheels. I say confusingly, because I’m starting to see a blurring cross-over of product offerings here. What is the point of a lowered, high-performance, fat-tire’d Q3 SUV…? An Rs3 is too low…? So then, enter-in the jacked-up Q3 and lower it/power it to make it ‘sporty’ enough for the cogs that will purchase such SUV taft as this…?

I suppose this is just Audi following their recent mandate of filling in the gaps of every possible niche market out there… Still though, I remain baffled by their marketing department-lead decisions for their model extensions.

Also worth noting is that Audi created a hypo ‘Custom Concept’ version of their Q5 SUV about a year or so ago but noted that the company would never make an RS version of their SUVs unless it was “technically possible”… riiiight.

For those that may be unaware, the Quattro GmbH wing of Audi is a private subsidiary that (used-to) only produces top-tier, limited-edition, high performance models drawn from the Audi stable. Past memorable efforts include the very first ‘RS’-badged Audi RS2 Avant of the mid-90’s followed by two seperate generations of both the RS4 and RS6. The later ’06-’08 RS4 being held of considerable excellence across the landscape of petrolheads and the motoring press worldwide.

Yet, over the past few years we’ve seen a drastic change-of-direction for the ‘RS’ badged Audis. It seems Audi have decided “If people will buy them, we’ll build them”. Consequently, we now also have a TT RS, a TT RS ‘Plus’, an RS5 and an RS3 – all of them receiving decidedly lacklustre reviews from the motoring world… A new RS4 was also recently unveiled. Seems Audi’s RS is following BMW’s lead with the milking of their ‘high performance’ M-badge…

All in the name $ cha-ching $ cha-ching $ and the fact that people nowadays (oddly) seem to love driving cars that look like toys…

-Blake J.

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.

2012 Super Bowl Car Commercials: A Collection of…

February 6, 2012

So the Big American Game happened yesterday and to be honest, I couldn’t be bothered to watch this mega-hyped sports-event where ultra-testosteroned, overly-padded/helmeted men rough one another up over the snarling possession of an inflated pig-skin… Said game occuring somewhere amidst the deluge of non-stop adverts reminding us of ‘who brought this to you’, a silly lip-synching girl flashing a middle-finger (oh good heavens) and a washed-up, embarrasingly-painful-to-watch pop-Diva strutting-up her idea of ‘the greatest show I’ve ever done for the greatest show on earth’ … Dear Lord.

Madonna - scary and unfathomable

Not forgetting the idiotic/annoying orgy of streaming banners and flashy camera angles for this ‘show of all shows’ either – Needless to say, for this scribe it’s all, well… a bit much.

Yet, as is the tradition that always outweighs and ultimately gathers more of our collective attention than the actual Game itself, the extended-length TV-spot adverts were what nearly everyone ever talks about in this TV-obsessed western world of ours. Most viewers simply tune-in to the Super Bowl broadcast just so they can catch the expensive Game-Day adverts…. Really..! Car-adverts included, of course.

Clint doing his best to inject a gritty, serious and weepingly patriotic tone to describe America's upcoming '2nd Half'

Here then, is a selection… some of them are even the extended versions!

Volkswagen – The Dog Strikes Back

KIA Optima – A Dream Car. For Real Life (really…? A wrinkly Motley Crue, in your dream…?)

 Acura NSX – Transactions

Honda CR-V – Matthew’s Day Off (not quite sure if a rather bland/boring CR-V would be the vehicle of choice here…)

Chevrolet Sonic – doing human ‘extreme’ things

Chrysler and Clint Eastwood – It’s Halftime America (bit of an anthemic heart-tugger here)

 Fiat 500 Abarth – Seduction

Lexus GS – The Beast (Lexus’ first-ever SuperBowl advert… not bad, not great)

Toyota Camry – It’s Reinvented 

 Chevy Silverado Trucks – End Of The World (quite possibly, the stupidest car-commercial I’ve ever seen – complete with an out-of-place ending stolen straight from the movie ‘Magnolia’)

Audi S7 – Vampires (riiiight…)


-Blake J.

Video: Essential Group B Rally Film

January 3, 2012

Most of us have seen our fair share of online Group B Rally videos (I recommend searching YouTube for the ‘pure sound- Group B’ volumes 1-3 for starters) and some of them are done rather well… yet most of them, err… not so.

Given the fact that 90% of all high-quality Group B footage was originally interspliced with period-era music or voice-overs/commentary, it’s a rare treat to be able to witness these monstrous engineering marvels ‘in the raw’ within decently-captured fan-videos that are properly re-edited and presented without all of the unnecessary fluff.

The excellent Lancia 037 - flapping its wings

YouTube user amjayes2, has once again ridden to the rescue with a fantastic 30-minute short-film documenting the 1983-86 Group B action within the stages of the legendary 1000 Lakes Rally in Finland – nothing but raw action and ferociously scary sounds and sights. And believe me, it’s worth making the time to watch…

-Blake J.

Photo of the Day: Audi Quattro – Walter Rohrl – 1984 Monte Carlo Rally

December 22, 2011

The Rally where Walter Rohrl first finely-tuned the beneficial skill of left-foot braking the Audi Quattro, Walter would also go on to win the 1984 Monte Carlo Rally in the phenomenal ‘A2’ Audi Quattro. As the 1984 season wound to a close, Stig Blomqvist would go on to beat defending champion and Audi teammate, Hannu Mikkola, for the Driver’s title while the all-dominating Audi Team would eventually be crowned with the Manufacturer’s Title in 1984 for the 2nd year in a row…

Short highlights-vid of the 1984 Monte Carlo…

-Blake J.

POTD/Spotlight: Audi Group-B Rally Quattros Gassing-up and Flying

November 3, 2011

Before the collective (and competitive) madness of mid-80’s Group B Rallying, Audi dominated the Rally stages for a number of successful years after the introduction of its 4WD Audi Quattro 80 ‘A1’ (or ‘UrQuattro’) in 1980. With the new rules in Rallying allowing all-wheel-drive variants onto the scene, Audi was the first to capitalise (and win – even on the Quattro’s very 1st Rally in ’81) with their 4WD monster.

Three iterations of the Rally Quattro evolved during Audi’s foray into Rallying during the mid-80’s, culminating with the flame-spitting, demonic-sounding, 600 bhp Sport Quattro ‘S1’ of 1985 (below). Along with the artillery-grade power output, it also featured a wheelbase that was noticeably shortened from previous versions and gained a plethora of wings, scoops and vents to aid in keeping this gnashing beast hunkered to the ground. It was also the most powerful Rally car ever built…

I'm not sure how far (and for how long) my jaw would drop if this scene greeted me at the local petrol pumps...

Yet, by the time the Sport Quattro ‘S1’ hit the exciting Group B Rally scene in ’85, serious competition from the likes of Peugeot and Lancia (piloted by such amazing drivers as Markku Alen, Ari Vatanen and Walter Rohrl, mind) gave the ageing Quattro a good run for the title. The Sport Quattro ‘S1’, though massively capable, only achieved a single victory – the San Remo Rally in ’85.

Precursor to the bombastic ‘S1’ was the Quattro ‘A2’ of 1983 (below, leaping) that helped Hannu Mikkola clinch the Driver’s Championship for the ’83 season. Despite a string of impressively successful first few years on the Rallying scene with its game-changing (yet heavy) 4WD tech-fest in 81, Audi was, as mentioned, beginning to feel the competitive pressure from other factory teams – most noteworthy being Lancia, its talented line-up of drivers and its emerging rear-wheel-drive 037 that helped Lancia win the Constructor’s Title in ’83.

All I can think of is "WEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!"

By the time of Group B’s banning in 1986 for safety reasons and concerns, Audi’s influence on the entire Rallying scene had been made… and then some. The machines themselves became instant icons and the (brave) Drivers were immortalised – Audi had left a mark in Motorsport’s illustrious history that will forever remain legendary… and missed.

-Blake J.

Pic of the Day: Audi R8 in the Autumnal Sun

October 21, 2011

I quite like the Audi R8. Any fanfare you’ve ever read or YouTube’d about the V8 mid-engined triumph is pretty much validated as well. That woofly V8 engine is a sonorous thing of motoring excellence and the handling/feedback remains mesmerising when pushed hard or just simply bumbling through the ‘burbs.

Just stay away from driving/owning one with the lazy and dim-witted R-tronic gearbox though – Full-on proper 6-speed gated manual or nothing!

Photo by: yours truly

-Blake J.

Pic of the Day: Audi Quattro Group B – grazing kneecaps

October 4, 2011

Like many others out there, I adore the Group B Rally era of automotive flame-spitting savagery. It was a rare moment of no-holds-barred competitive motoring that produced machinery capable of tackling the landscape with monumental (or just plain ‘mental’) power and fury of the likes that we’ll never see again.

The machines themselves were a technological tour de force that will forever remain in our petrolheaded hearts, but the drivers that piloted and tamed these near-uncontrollable beasts could almost be looked upon as legendary heroes. To watch those drivers dispel the maximum amount of performance from those mighty road warriors in a graceful, almost balletic manner was (and still remains) one of the most incredible feats of man/woman working with machine.

Despite my personal collection of ‘RawSound’ Group B videos placing me ‘in the moment’, to have witnessed one of these monsters powersliding past you at unbelievable speeds, turbos sucking and chuttering air, flames dancing from the tailpipes, shotgun explosions piercing from the exhaust… it must have been completely awe-inspiring.

-Blake J.

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