PAGANI HUAYRA…ARTWORK IN MOTION

I hadn’t really taken much notice to Pagani in the past.  It’s a smaller boutique Italian car manufacturer from Modena producing the Zonda in small quantities.  Maybe that would explain why I have never actually seen a Pagani on the road before.

Pagani Huayra

Pagani Huayra

With the retirement of the Zonda being announced last year, a number of questions started forming in my head. Why did I wait so long to learn about Pagani?  What could Pagani possibly do to replace a car that set a new record for production based cars which completed the Nürburgring in 6:47 (July 2010) beating the fierce Ferrari 599XX?  Lastly, why did Tiger Woods cheat on his wife?  Hmmm, much to ponder.

Pagani Huayra

Pagani Huayra w/ Rear Flaps Activated

Well, they call it Huayra; no I didn’t just sneeze.  It’s pronounced (wai-rah) and it’s named after Huayra Tata, the South American God of Wind.  Set to cause quite a storm in Spring 2012, the Huayra is rightfully named due much in part to its active aerodynamics incorporated into the beautifully sculpted bodywork of the car.  For starters the Huayra is capable of changing its height and independently operates four flaps, two in front and two in the rear.  Each flap moves separate of the other and is managed by a dedicated control unit, much like you would see on a fighter jet upon take-off.  These flaps play many important roles, sometimes producing maximum down force or preventing excess body roll and at other times simply slowing down the car by way of air-brakes; very similar to a fighter jet landing on a destroyer.

Pagani Huayra

Pagani Huayra W/ Front Flaps Resting

Underneath all that beauty and technology lies a Mercedes Benz Bi-Turbo V12 (5980cc) borrowed from the SL65 AMG Black Series.  By Pagani’s request, the turbo lag has been substantially reduced, achieved by smaller turbos and ECU reprogramming all of which equates to producing 700bhp. It rockets from 0-60 in 3.5 seconds and has a top speed of 230mph. The Huayra utilizes a 7-speed sequential gearbox which is beautifully controlled in the cockpit via its brushed aluminum shifter and shift gate.

Pagani Huayra

Pagani Huayra-AMG V12 Bi Turbo

Pagani Huayra

Pagani Huayra

The interior of the Huayra has to be one of the most beautifully adorned interiors I have ever seen in a car.  The use of brushed and polished metals, carbon-fiber combined with rustic leather and hi-tech electronics really gets my heart racing.  I often dream of living in this car simply because of its sheer beauty.

Every detail of the interior is carefully designed and tastefully executed.  Even the key is a chrome model of the Huayra, which is centrally placed in the middle of the dash board, as if to be on display like a piece of art work.

Pagani Huayra

Pagani Huayra

The Huayra is more than simply a fast expensive car from Italy.  It’s a moving gallery displaying a study of contemporary design, encompassing the latest materials, composites, engineering, and electronics of our time.  Unfortunately, admission into this gallery will cost you around $1.2M and there only 40 of them a year.  Oh did I mention it has Gullwing doors?

Pagani Huayra

Pagani Huayra

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SSC TUATARA…CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?

SSC Tuatara

SSC Tuatara

A war has been underway for a many years now and there seems to be no end in sight.  It has gotten ugly at times and will remain so until one side finally steps down declaring the other side the victor.  No, I am not talking about the current state of affairs our government is involved in; I am referring to the war between Bugatti and SSC for the Worlds Fastest Production Car title.

SSC Tuatara

SSC Tuatara

The first shot fired was by Bugatti with the introduction of the Veyron.  SSC fired back in self-defense with the Ultimate Aero.  Bugatti was not willing to lie down quietly and so they retaliated with their Veyron Super Sport prompting SSC’s latest assault the Tuatara.  Can’t we all just get along?

SSC Tuatara

SSC Tuatara

SSC has been a pain in Bugatti’s side ever since the Ultimate Aero became the World’s Fastest Production Car by Guinness World Records in 2007.  SSC is an American supercar company founded in 1999 by Jerod Shelby (no relation to Carroll Shelby), which headquarters in Tri Cities, Washington.

SSC Tuatara

SSC Tuatara

SSC’s Tuatara impresses me in many ways.  For starters, it carries a striking resemblance to the amazing Pininfarina P 4/5, which is no surprise due to the fact that the very talented Jason Castriota has designed them both. What I find most impressive however, are the specs of the Tuatara compared to the Bugatti.

SSC Tuatara

SSC Tuatara One-Peice Carbon Fiber Wheel

The Tuatara is able to achieve 1350bhp and 1042 ft-lbs of torque from an SSC designed Twin Turbo Charged Billet Aluminum V8, while the Bugatti Veyron has literally double the power plant using a Quad Turbo Charged W16.  The Tuatara weighs in at 2750lbs dry (2.0lbs/hp, New Record), utilizes a one-piece carbon fiber wheel, has a triple disc carbon clutch, a 7 speed manual or SMG transmission, goes 0-60 in 2.5 seconds and has a top speed of 276mph.  All without the help of a massive company like Volkswagen for support. Oh yeah it also comes with a 300mph Speedometer, a 10,000 Tachometer and a Horse Power gauge.  Wow!

SSC Tuatara

SSC Tuatara

After considering all these factors among many more, it’s no wonder SSC has thrusted on to the scene competing with the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti, and Koenigsegg (to name a few).  There is no telling where this war will take us however it’s fierce competition mixed with testosterone, like in this battle, that has created the most amazing technological feats of our time.  Keep up the good work SSC!

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FERRARI SA APERTA…HAPPY BIRTHDAY PININFARINA!

Ferrari SA Aperta

Ferrari SA Aperta

I first noticed the SA Aperta this past summer while making my pilgrimage to the Ferrari Museum and Factory during my 2-week trip to Italy. She was sitting on the second floor very near to the 599XX. While I thought she was the most attractive Ferrari in the entire museum I didn’t really know anything about her. I figured it was a prototype that Ferrari never built but felt the need to display. It was even finished in a slightly different red (Rosso Dino) that I’m used to seeing on a Ferrari, which only reaffirmed my suspicion of it being a prototype.

SA Aperta

Ferrari SA Aperta

Months later I’d come to find Ferrari felt the same way about the SA Aperta as I did; the Aperta was too beautiful of a car to not produce. Not only was this going to be a production car, it was to be a very special, very limited production car. Only 80 of the SA Aperta’s were created to commemorate the 80th year Anniversary of famed coachbuilder Pininfarina. As usual, all had been spoken for many months before production had even begun.

SA Aperta

Ferrari SA Aperta

Before knowing anything about the SA Aperta, I didn’t understand why Ferrari named it the way they did. I assumed the SA stood for “Super America” due to the last Super America produced being topless. Nope, the SA nomenclature pays homage to both Sergio and Andrea Pininfarina whose company and work is linked to the most successful road-going cars ever built at Maranello. The word Aperta means “open” so after learning the meaning of everything, Ferrari’s naming of the car made perfect sense.

SA Aperta

Ferrari SA Aperta

The SA Aperta is based on the 599 GTB, minus a roof, and houses a 661bhp V12 power plant. The gearbox and drivetrain is borrowed from the stunning 599 GTO, which happens to be my personal favorite. The 12-into-2-exhaust system is identical to the 599XX, which produces the sweetest Ferrari music, which could only be composed straight from the heavens.

SA Aperta

Ferrari SA Aperta

Ferrari offered this special creation to selected individuals for around $550K and due to the rarity of this particular car, it’s very unlikely we would ever see one sell for less than that. Pininfarina has designed some of the most incredible cars in the worlds and it is only fitting that the SA Aperta was created to commemorate this amazing company.  I can only hope my 80th birthday present is just as nice!

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NOBLE M600…NOT SO HUMBLE

Noble M600

Noble M600

I have a soft spot when it comes to underdogs.  I was always so amazed when I was first learning the history of Carroll Shelby and Shelby Automobiles that I instantly became a life long fan.  Moreover as I studied all of the major sports car companies, I’d come to find that most of them got their start with humble beginnings.  Believe it or not even the famed Ferrari was an underdog at some point in their heritage, albeit not for very long.

Noble M600

Noble M600

That’s probably what drew me to the Noble M600.  Noble has been around for some time being established by Lee Noble in 1999 for producing high-speed sports cars.  Noble quickly became known as a “drivers” car due to its lack of computer aided gadgets you find in most modern day sports cars.

Noble M600

Noble M600

Like many of the smaller boutique car companies, Noble had its share of drama.  Being sold off and having distribution rights split up is never a good thing for a small car company but in 2009 Noble got their act together and introduced the M600.

Noble M600

Noble M600

Noble M600

Noble M600

The M600 is yet again a “drivers” car delivering a very raw 650bhp from a twin turbo charged 4.4 liter V8 borrowed from a Volvo XC90.  It’s a blisteringly fast sports car and for the right driver the Noble M600 can deliver harmonious and blissful performance not found in other sports cars.  As Jeremy Clarkson states in the video below, “there are several very good reasons why you should not buy one, but there is one very good reason why you should!”

While Noble seems to be in its “humble beginnings” stage as a car company, the M600 is by no means humble in anyway.  It’s a mean, loud, and fast sports car produced for a specific driver in mind, a true car enthusiast.

Noble M600

Noble M600

Keep on eye on this company as they are off to yet another great start.  Check out the Top Gear test drive video below and enjoy the sweet sounds of the Noble M600 as Jeremy Clarkson puts it to the test.

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LA AUTO SHOW 2011…A MATTER OF SURVIVAL!

It was my own fault for waiting until the busiest day to go to the 2011 LA Auto Show.  I kept trying to make it sooner if only my schedule had allowed.  When I woke up on this rainy Sunday morning I had no excuse, this was the perfect weather to be indoors gawking at cars.  I had made my decision, today was the day! Umbrella, check! Camera, check! Cash, coffee, check check!

2011 LA Auto Show

2011 LA Auto Show

Upon arriving at the LA Convention Center I could already tell by the herds of people scrambling to run inside that chaos was about to ensue.  Buying my $12 ticket at the automated machine was the easy part, getting past the gates was a different story.  It felt like a scene from “Saving Private Ryan”; everything was in slow motion as fear and terror lie in their tear-soaked eyes.  Once I made it through the carnage of crying babies, lost children, confused parents and the occasional hit in the ankles by those rental strollers, things started to clear up like a fading storm.  I managed to block out most of the noise and after entering, I saw a sign in the distance that read “Tuners and Aftermarket”; yes, my specialty!  Many of the cars were repeats from this past SEMA show however I did see some interesting customs like a gorgeous Bugatti Veyron, a matte red Ferrari F430, and a pretty cool Lotus Evora to name a few.

Bugatti Veyron

Bugatti Veyron

Back upstairs to the main hall, better dodge that stroller headed directly for me, close call!  While all the major car companies had representation at the show only a few actually impressed me with some innovative and creative models.

Cadillac Ceil Concept

Cadillac Ceil Concept

Cadillac ELR

Cadillac ELR

Cadillac was among the few that really made a splash with their lineup of cutting edge design and the debut of their new electric ELR model.  There was a lot of excitement at Cadillac’s  booth as they had on display the Ceil Concept among all the other current models including the record breaking CTS-V’s.

BMW displayed their much advertised iSeries electric car, which is slated for production in 2015, and their much awaited new M5 model.

BMW iSeries

BMW iSeries

Hyundai has made great strides in breaking free of the “inexpensive” label and into more of a “luxury” or “high-end” label.  They’re doing a great job with their new line up; the Equus, Genesis, Sonata Hybrid, Elantra to name a few.

Mini’s booth was bustling with people as they reveled at all the options and aftermarket parts that bestow the new cars.  Many people waited in lines to try on the new Countryman Model for size.  The new Mini Cooper Coupe S looked great and received a lot of attention as well.

Fiat’s Abarth model, a “high performance” version of their popular 500 model, seemed to be well received judging from the lines of people waiting to sit inside.

Fiat Abarth

Fiat Abarth

Audi finally showed off their much anticipated S6 and S7 models due to be out this March.  Audi also had on display the e-tron Spyder concept and A3 model; their new electric car technology.

Audi e tron Spyder

Audi e tron Spyder

KIA GT Concept

KIA GT Concept

KIA’s booth was riffled with excitement as they had a very impressive concept car they called the “KIA GT”.  I was barely able to snap off a few pics due to the crowds of people attempting to do the same.

It was very exciting to see many of the car companies’ step up to the plate with their innovative designs and technology.  It feels like we are entering a new era in the automotive world.   The combination of a lagging economy coupled with the high demand for new technology is forcing car companies to push the envelope in all areas.  Much like my experience attending the Auto Show, it’s a matter of survival for these car companies, and staying on the cutting edge is a matter of life or death.  The 2011 LA Auto Show left me wounded, frightened, exhausted and excited to see what next year will bring!

KOENIGSEGG AGERA & AGERA R…WORTH EVERY PENNY!

My views of Swedish cars usually don’t include hypercars or even sports car for that matter.  I usually envision a happy nuclear family safely motoring down the road on their way to apple picking.  There is a car company however that may very well change my opinion.

Koeniggsegg Agera

Koeniggsegg Agera

Koeniggsegg has been around for a while, since first coming on to the scene in 1994 with their CCX model.  I’ve seen the car from time-to-time, showing up in random B-list movies and rap videos, although I never really took an interest in learning more about it.  I thought it was one of those boutique car companies that would soon fizzle away after the rich owner got bored and moved on to the next thing to check off his bucket list.

Koenigsegg Agera

Koenigsegg Agera

Well 17 years later founder Christan von Koeniggsegg is still as passionate as ever dreaming up the impossible and making it a reality.  His latest creations, the Agera and Agera R (2012), are nothing short of technical masterpieces.  While I could literally write novels about the cars’ technical feats I thought I’d touch upon some of the more distinctive characteristics that make the Agera so special.

Koenigsegg Agera R -1100 BHP

Koenigsegg Agera R -1100 bhp

The name Agera means, “to take action” in Swedish and also comes from the Greek word Ageratos or “ageless”.  Deemed as impossible or too expensive, Koeniggseg is among the very few, if any, boutique car companies that actually develop and produce their own engine in-house.  The 5.0-liter V8 twin turbo engine is considered the lightest and most compact hypercar engine in the world producing 940 bhp and 1100 bhp for their ‘R’ model.  This is quite an accomplishment considering the cars fuel consumption is 16 mpg and has emissions of 310g/C02.  What really impressed me was the specially designed carbon-fiber monocoque chassis that embodies a built-in 21-gallon fuel tank as to evenly distribute the weight of the fuel throughout the car.  The chassis design is not only physically brilliant it proved to be extremely safe thus allowing it to pass the U.S. crash test on the first try.  While I have only found unofficial 0-60 mph times (3.0 and 2.7 for the ‘R’) I did manage to find an official 0-200 mph time; 17.68 seconds! We are living in mad times when car companies no longer provide 0-60 mph times but rather 0-200 mph.  I love it!

Koenigsegg Agera R -1100 BHP

Koenigsegg Agera R -1100 bhp

Aside from the impressive technical attributes the Agera represents, I find this car to be strikingly sexy and aesthetically pleasing.  Scissor doors, removable roof, turbine wheels, ghost-lite dash the list goes on and on! I have often dreamt of starting my own sports car company and too be honest I don’t feel the need to do so knowing the Koeniggsegg Agera is out there.  It’s pretty much exactly the way I would want my car to look, sound and perform!  This car is very special and while I have no idea what the price tag is, I can already say it’s worth every penny.

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SEMA SHOW 2011…AUTOMOTIVE DEBAUCHERY!

It’s been a couple years since I’ve been to the SEMA show in Las Vegas.  I was one of those diehards that would attend every year and take part in this amazing spectacle of unnecessary add-ons to cars, trucks and pretty much anything with wheels.

Ferrari 458 Italai w/ Custom Carbon-Fiber Skin

Ferrari 458 Italia w/ Custom Carbon-Fiber Skin

Year after year companies and individuals would try to one-up each other and debut their fabulous creations at this show.  It’s the only place on earth I can accurately describe as automotive debauchery.

Nissan 350Z w/ an Extreme Body Kit

Nissan 350Z w/ an Extreme Body Kit

As you walk through the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center you’re overwhelmed by the thousands of blinking lights and sounds coming from the booths and individuals displaying this years hottest new aftermarket products.

Custom Widebody Camaro w/ Hide-Away Front Grille

Custom Widebody Camaro w/ Hide-Away Front Grille

As you near the doors to exit on either side of the buildings, you’re greeted by the sounds of screeching tires from the drifting performances put on by the Ford Cobras or the Corvette ZR1’s.  Eager fans waited in long lines to take a 2 minute “death ride” with a professional driver as they drifted through a course at high speeds in either a Ford Cobra, GT500 or Corvette ZR1.  They obviously kept these two courses far away from each other as to not cause any fights between the diehard Ford and Chevy enthusiast.

Super Performance Cobra Launching Into the Drift Course

Super Performance Cobra Launching Into the Drift Course

There was a massive turn out of customized cars displayed outside of the buildings which I felt had the some of the best looking and most creative cars at the show.  There were also the usual suspects in attendance such as Chip Foose (Foose Design), West Coast Customs, Platinum Motors, Giovanni Wheels, and Ford to just name a few.

Fisker Kama

Fisker Karma

It was nice to attend the SEMA show and get back to my roots once again. Over the past couple years the aftermarket industry has taken some big hits due to the economy however it seems as though it’s making a good comeback.

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