Video: The Sounds of 2011

December 27, 2011

Throughout this past year, there have been some heavily impressive creations within the exotic/sportscar realms. The Ferrari 458, the 997-series-ending Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0, the McLaren MP4-12C, the BMW 1M, the Mercedes C63 AMG, the Lamborghini Aventador… the list goes on.

Here we present you with a video compilation from YouTube user jorrie2 displaying the various new sounds of 2011 mixed with some tasty bits of the old….

The internal-combustion’ed high-performance engine shall never die…!

-Blake J.

Photos of the Day: Ferrari at Le Mans – 1969 (+video)

December 13, 2011

The 1969 Le Mans 24HR race was the stuff of legends. Before the race even started, many had bagged Porsche to win outright victories with its impressive (yet controversial) fleet of 908 and 917 long-tails. Ford had already performed a hat-trick at Le Mans with their 3rd victory in-a-row from the previous year’s 1968 race, so Porsche (along with Matra and to some extent, Ferrari) were adament in knocking Ford off of the top-spot for outright victories in 1969.

Ferrari entered two 312P Berlinettas (essentially F1 cars dressed-up in different bodies) driven by Perdo Rodriguez/David Piper (#18) and Chris Amon/Peter Schetty (#19) but unfortunately both failed to finish the race – the Amon/Schetty car being forced to retire on the very first lap after John Woolfe crashed his Porsche 917 (sadly, killing him) which subsequently dislodged its fuel-tank, of which the Ferrari drove straight over top of and exploded in the process.

The race came down to the final laps with Jacky Ickx (in the same Le Mans-winning Ford GT40 from the year before) doing lap-after-lap battle with Hans Herrmann in his Porsche 908, both of them exchanging the lead position on each lap. At the final turn, Jacky was able to take advantage of the Porsche’s ailing brakes and out-breaked Hans in his 908, coming out ahead in the final turn and winning Le Mans 1969 by mere seconds.

I’ve always loved the fact that Jacky Ickx made a subtle statement against the traditional sprint-to-your-car-and-get-in-and-go start of the Le Mans by merely strolling over to the GT40 when the flag dropped. He then calmly got in, buckled himself up and casually drove off… and, of course, in last place.

Ickx winning by mere seconds...

*** There’s a great DVD out there from Duke called ‘Le Mans 1969 – La Ronde Infernale’ that I highly recommend for your motoring DVD library, by the way. In the meantime, here’s the uploaded YouTube version of it… Enjoy.

Part 1:

 Part 2:

Part 3: 

Part 4:

-Blake J.

Spied: The Next-Gen Porsche 911 GT3

December 8, 2011

With the all-new 991-series Porsche 911 barely breaking cover after a recent launch, it seems almost premature to be even thinking about the next hardcore GT3 variant. Yet, the photos published in German magazine Auto Motor and Sport clearly show a new 911 with the GT3 signature big-wing, twin central exhausts and slightly more-aggressive bumpers.

As you’d imagine, any further details would be by mere guess-work at this point in time but count on the next-gen GT3 achieving a nominal gain in power and (hopefully) a further decrease in weight. Industry-talk has also confirmed that the latest electric power steering unit found in the new Carrera will find its way into the next GT3 – that move will undoubtedly cause some controversy amongst the Porsche driving-purists…

The outstanding GT3 RS 4.0 - ending the 997-series 911 with an exquisite, metallic bang

If the incredible last-hurrah GT3 RS 4.0 (pictured) has proven anything, it is that Porsche engineers still know how to chisel-away and fine-tune their most-iconic of sporstcars. No wonder the GT3 cars feel and drive as if they’re hewn from a solid chunk of granite…

See the spy-shots of the next GT3 on the Auto Motor and Sport website here.

The next-gen GT3 will arive in 2013. Can’t wait..!

-Blake J.

Video/Spotlight: RUF CTR ‘Yellowbird’ – Insane Nurburgring Lap

November 28, 2011

We’ve all seen our fair share of ‘hot’ laps from the Nurburgring throughout our Internet years, yet there are only a select few that actually manage to focus your undivided attention and drop your gaping maw at the same time – this is one of those rare moments.

When I was a teenaged petrolhead in the late 80’s I remember motoring-talk of some underground/dubbed VHS video showing a complete nutter by the name of Stefan Roser slinging a yellow Porsche 911 around the Nurburgring, setting a production-car lap record with this mythical beast in the process… albeit, an almost entirely sideways one.

It was called the CTR ‘Yellowbird’ and it was made by a specialty German sportscar manufacturer called RUF (The German Government recognizes RUF as a manufcturer, not a tuning company, hence the reason why you’ll never see ‘Porsche’ in the names of their creations). The performance figures alone seemed to defy the laws of right and wrong – 469 bhp and 408 lb-ft of torque from its twin-turbo 3.4L flat-6 / 0-60 in 3.7 sec., 0-100 in 7.8 sec. (!) / 1170 kg / top speed: 211 mph… In 1987, it was faster than both the Ferrari F40 and Porsche 959 Supercars.

The 469 bhp powerplant responsible for making 911s go very sideways

In the late 90’s I managed to track down a DVD-copy (of a copy of a copy of a…) of this legendary ‘Faszination’ video and I still watch it in utter amazement. In the days of no traction control or stability aids/nannies whatsoever, this impressive feat of driving is a timely reminder of the raw skills required to harness, control and almost-balletically exploit ferociously capable power against the forces of nature. At times, Stefan Roser comes across like he’s dancing with the CTR. Oh, to be embued with the might to drive a car like this at (or even remotely near) the limit…

Stefan Roser, just out for a leisurely Sunday drive...

As you can see, Stefan wasn’t wearing gloves or even a helmet. He even managed this slice of unbelievable driving while wearing his everyday slip-on deck shoes (some say he was just wearing socks)… All of this lairiness happening on a public-day at the Nurburgring with 469 bhp slung out back and a manual transmission to negotiate (again, sideways) through it all – Truly mind-boggling and courageous.

-Blake J.

Pic of the Day: Porsche 911 GT3

November 10, 2011

The next-generation 991-series Porsche 911 is set to hit the showrooms in the Springtime of next year and by now most of you (aficianado or not) will have surely gleaned over the raft of changes and updates that will encompass the next 911 model.

Most noteworthy is the lengthened wheelbase over the outgoing 997-series and the rather controversial (and worrisome) addition of an electric pump to assist with the steering – an aspect of the 911 that has always been its trademark for driver interaction unlike any other car on sale today. Let’s just hope this new tech and additional creature comforts hasn’t further sanitised a key element of the 911s appeal…

Until those first drives and detailed reports come flooding in, let us take a moment to remind that there will undoubtedly be Turbo, GT2 (perhaps) and GT3/RS versions coming down the Porsche pipeline over the forthcoming year or two – the 911s we actually care about.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have driven extensive miles and cared-for a 997-series GT3 in identical spec/colour to the one below and without pause, I can firmly deliver that it was one of the most incredible sportscars I’ve ever driven.

It was also one of those cars that (still) shows you something new to learn and/or discover about its handling character and idiosyncratic foibles each time you got behind the wheel – I like that, a lot. The drivetrain itself was seemingly carved and engineered from a single solid slab of granite with an engine that sang a song of metallic urge and howling might… Yes, this car has soul and buckets of precisional beauty. Quite looking forward to the next-gen GT3….

-Blake J.

Onboard Videos: Porsche’s Legendary 917, 936 and 956

November 1, 2011

Riding on the shoulders of yesterday’s Ultimate 911 article, here we present you with a trio of scintilating onboard videos riding along with Porsche Motorsport’s various leviathans from the past.

Porsche 917

First up is the legendary 917/30 that managed to capture Porsche’s first-ever outright wins at Le Mans in 1970 and ’71 (amongst many many other wins). It featured an air-cooled (air-cooled!) Flat-12 engine ranging from 4.5 to 5.0 litres in size that delivered around 620 bhp. Later turbo’d 917 variants saw insane outputs of up to 1100 bhp and tuned to upwards of 1500 bhp in hair-on-fire qualifying-spec. Here we have the affable Derek Bell inviting you onboard for a rather detailed, personal view.

Porsche 936

Another Motorsport legend from the Porsche garages here. With a chassis based on the incredible 917, The 936 featured a (once again air-cooled) 2.2L single turbo-charged Flat-6 that churned out 540 bhp. In the 6 years that Porsche entered the 936 into competitive realms from ’76 – ’81, it came away with 3 outright Le Mans wins (’76, ’77 and ’81). Take an onboard blast around Le Mans in 1977 here with Jurgen Barth behind the wheel of his Martini Racing-sponsored Porsche 936.

Porsche 956

The 956 continued on with the successes trail-blazed by the former 936 and featured the same engine (though enlarged) to a 2.6L turbocharged Flat-6 that mustered up 635 bhp. It too entered Le Mans in 1982 and won the race outright (actually, Porsche placed 1-2-3 that year). Mostly remembered for having set the Nurburgring fastest lap record via Stefan Bellof in qualifying for the 1983 1000 KM of Nurburgring race, his time remains an outright lap-record (6 min 11.13 sec) that stands to this very day.

The speeds (and blurred sights) achieved down the Mulsanne Straight in this video are truly bonkers… There is also an ‘In Car 956’ video/DVD that Duke Video made available a few years back that I would heavily recommend…! I own a copy – it’s amazing..!

-Blake J.

The Porsche 911: Which One Is The Ultimate…?

October 31, 2011

If you were given the task of choosing just one Porsche 911 to own and enjoy for the rest of your motoring days, which one would you choose..?

That’s a fairly heavy question, I’ll admit, seeing as how the 911 range spreads across a broad stretch of time drawing in on nearly 50 years. But by simply aiming at the core values of why we love 911’s (handling, lightness, feedback, steering, various precisional attributes, that Flat-6 engine of unparalled awesomeness, etc…) and thereby focusing on those specific models that accentuated these well-honed and beloved 911 characteristics, the whittled-down choices tend to become a bit more clear…

997-series GT3

Starting with the most recent of 911s  and moving backwards in time, I’d easily nominate the 997-series GT3 (’06-’09)…and to some extent, its 996 predecessor. Some would point to the more hardcore RS derivative of the 997 GT3 but despite the hike in power and slightly sharper steering, I’m not sure I’d want (or need) the flashy RS paint schemes (bright orange or green with black accents, only), roll cage and generally bone-crackingly stiff ride to navigate on a daily basis.

The ‘regular’ GT3 has always been more than enough sportscar for your driving needs anyways. Subtle, classy, comfortable and it handles like nothing you’ve ever driven before. Plus, that phenomenal, naturally-aspirated Metzger Flat-6 howls (and shoves) with a deep, metallic tinge that urges you to press farther and further into the car’s plethora of impressive capabilities. Even better with an Akrapovic exhaust fitted (video above). A truly sublime 911.

993-series GT2

Next up, I’d like to nominate the plastic-fender-flared, massively be-winged 993-series GT2 (’95). The last of the Air-Cooled 911s, this homologation special (built to meet motorsport requirements) featured a 3.6L twin-turbo variation of the bullet-proof flat-6 churning out 430 bhp and nearly 400 lbs/ft of torque (upped to 450/430 in the ’98 model).

What makes this particular 911 so dangerously appealing is the fact that it retains a rear-wheel drive layout. The (safe) 4WD layout of the regular Turbo was ditched for the lairy GT2 and as a result, it was dubbed the ‘widowmaker’ within 911/motoring circles for very real and applicable reasons… That much power and torque all driven through the rear wheels within the relatively short wheelbase 911 chassis… Brilliantly insane.

964-series RS

Jump backwards a few years to ’92 and you’d find me drooling all over any 964-series RS model. Basically what we had was a stripped-out, lightweight, lower and more powerful (260 bhp) 911 that was based on Porsche’s Carrera Cup racecar. You had manual windows and seats, no air-conditioning nor rear seats, no stereo or sound damping materials… or power-steering – truly raw.

What you did get was a 911 that was obviously inspired by the legendary 2.7 RS of the early-70’s and updated with sports seats, limited-slip diff, lightened flywheel and other suspension-related goodies that turned the 964 RS into one of the most beguiling road cars Porsche ever produced.

The 959 Supercar

When the technological tour-de-force AWD 959 came about in 1986 (originally built for Group B Rally and homolgated as such) it broke loads of performance records, among them being the world’s fastest production car (that was, until a certain be-winged Italian blew onto the scene one year later). To this very day, the 959 is hailed as genesis for the advancements in the evolution of the 911 and its subsequent supercars.

It came with a twin-turbo 2.9L version of the flat-6 and bragged a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds along with a top speed of 197 mph. And while I’m not usually one to be attracted to cars that are jam-packed with all of the latest high-tech gadgetry and wizardry, this particular ‘ultimate’ version of the 911 from the impressive minds working in Stuttgart of the era has always been at the forefront of my performance-minded curiosity… despite its dodgy looks.

When new, each car cost approx 150K GBP to purchase, yet Porsche themselves state that each car cost the company upwards of 300K GBP to produce… when you factor in all of the long-term developmental costs and expensive tech, etc… Still though, it remains a dream to one day have-a-go.

Carrera RS 2.7 – 1972

While there are various 911 models throughout the 80’s that whet the ‘ultimate 911’ appetite of this exercise (The mighty Turbo of the 80’s comes to mind), there can be no doubt that the iconic and now-legendary Carrera RS 2.7 of 1972 set a milestone within 911 circles that subsequent models often struggled to match the sheer brilliance and breadth of its intimate idiosyncrasies. Porsche themselves must have thought that they had reached a peak with the 2.7 RS of ’72.

Weighing-in at a paltry 1075 kg, the RS (which stands for RennSport) was no ordinary 911. It was an incredible blend of lightweight manageability, the best steering of any road car available and imbued with a willing sharpness that would often find you hunting out the best driving roads just to feel the pleasure of the forces that build-up within that sublime chassis.

It was strong, reliable, agile, compact, practical (4 seats) and powerful enough (0-60 in 5.8 sec) without being over-bearing. Quite an impressive blend, not to mention that it was also derived from a competitive background. Sleek, sexy, simple and adorned with that complimentary ‘ducktail’ rear spoiler to accentuate its motorsport heritage (and assistance in planting those rear tires into the tarmac), the 2.7 Carrera RS of ’72 forever remains a tantalising favourite of the 911 range.

>>>>>>….Yet, what if you crave something a bit different… perhaps something more personal. Something that ticks all of the essential 911 boxes but marries the past, with the present…? Well, there are companies out there that take that logic and, well, build upon it… for you, specifically.

There’s the American company, Singer, who’s “work involves taking a customer’s existing 911 and performing both restorative work and cutting-edge modifications to update the car’s performance, aesthetics and modern day useability in an attempt to optimize its strengths while preserving the essence and magic os the original” Oh-so tempting…

Then there’s also AutoFarm in the UK who will perform roughly the same set of ideals upon your old-school 911 without compromising or altering the classic looks.

Or, you could just go ahead like Mr. Harris did, and spend a good chunk of your earnings on creating your own ‘ultimate 911’ with the help of various specialists that will assist in building your own bespoke, dream 911…

If it were my wish..? Hmm… I think I’d be sorely tempted to recreate the wonderful, yet terrifically limited (only 55) 2.7 RSR of the early-70’s within the shell of a 964-based RS… which would look something akin to this….

-Blake J.

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