THE 2011 BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT….SHE’S ALL GROWNS’D UP!

I remember when I first laid eyes on her back in 2004.  Beautiful curves, a big shiny front grille with a rear-end that could stop a freight train dead in its tracks.  She had it all, looks, power, and prestige.  I knew instantly she was going to be one of the popular girls.  Just as I suspected, she quickly became the “it” girl and like all popular girls, she lived in the fast lane mixing with the in-crowd as she grew-up through her rebellious years.  At one time or another I’ve seen her ensconced entirely in cubic zirconia, fitted with 24”& 26” wheels, painted matte pink, and appearing in just about every rap video known to man.  I’m also pretty sure I spotted her made entirely from gold in Saudi Arabia.

Those days have since passed and today she has blossomed into a more beautifully refined, elegant woman.  Despite everywhere she’s been and everything she’s done, she never forgot her roots.  The 2011 Bentley Continental GT is an all-new model and not simply a newer look as quoted by officials at Bentley.  Her newly staggered bi-xenon headlamps have been jeweled with LED daytime running lights and flow beautifully with her ever prominent front grille, which stands nearly upright now.  Her bold sexy curves remain as beautiful as ever however look more chiseled and sculpted as they draw your eyes towards her sultry rear-end.  Her tail lights have grown a bit, giving her an eye-catching European style you can only get after traveling the world.

Don’t get me wrong looks are very important but it’s what’s inside that really matters.  Her impressive 6.0 liter twin turbo charged W-12 has been improved on giving her “instant accessible supercar performance across the complete rev range.”  She’s lost a little weight and gained some muscle due to her four-cam, 48-valve mill which employs lighter, low-friction internals that shed 143 pounds off the outgoing engine. Her power is up by 15 horses and 37 pound-feet of torque (totaling 567 HP and 516 lb-ft of torque), making this girl wicked fast going 0-60 in a dashing 4.4 seconds with a top speed of 198 MPH.  She still sports those beautiful 20” five-spoke wheels and offers a 21” wheel upgrade, what a sweat heart!

Just like all beautiful woman she doesn’t come cheap, starting with a base price of $180K.  But don’t worry, if you think she’s a little too much to handle I’m told she has a little sister that’s a bit more tame (high-output V8) arriving later year.

Bentley did an amazing job of refining what was already an impressive and elegant sports coupe.  The 2011 Bentley Continental GT is as beautiful as ever and like a fine wine, just keeps getting better with age.

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FERRARI 599 GTO…POSSIBLY THE ANSWER WE’VE ALL BEEN SEARCHING FOR!

Being known as a major car guy, I am often posed the question ”if you had to pick only one favorite car what would it be?”  This question is torture to someone like me because I have about 50 favorite cars and they change on a daily basis.  I will have to say however, that the car that has almost gotten my answer to that evil question would have to be the Ferrari 599 GTO. 

I am a huge fan of the 599 Fiorano because it embodies so many things right about a sports car of this caliber.  It is a true sports coupe in every sense of the word. Powered by a massive V12 and ensconced in the best leather in the world; what more can you want? Well how about being able to say you own the fastest Ferrari road car ever made for starters? If that’s not enough, how about being able to say you drive a car with about 661bhp and 458 lb.-ft of torque and weighing in 220lbs less than the 599 GTB? Satisfied?

Aside from the jaw dropping technical data, it’s also quite special to own a GTO.  Ferrari doesn’t often label a model GTO unless it has some serious umpf to back it up.  The last car to be labeled a GTO was the infamous 288GTO whom people still make replicas of to this day.  Now let’s talk sound.  Have you ever heard one of these cars go?  If you haven’t, stop everything you’re doing and find one you can listen to.  Actually, I will place a youtube video of a 599GTO at the bottom of this post, so feel free to disregard my last sentence.  This car sounds as if they dropped an F1 car on the highway and let it go to town.

 

The Ferrari 599 GTO is truly a collectible car and is somewhat reasonably priced at $410K.  Is any car reasonable at $410K you ask?  Well, if you compare it to the next closest thing, the 599XX priced at $1.2M, the GTO seems like a steal!  With that being said, the Ferrari GTO is going in my dream garage and might be my answer to that age-old question, “if you had to pick a favorite car, which one would it be”.

Now close your eyes and listen to video below:

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THINGS GET HEATED UP AT THE TARGA TROPHY RALLY IN HOLLYWOOD, CA

With all the automotive events going on lately it’s getting difficult to keep track, however I was lucky enough to catch up with what is quickly becoming a premier automotive lifestyle event, the Targa Trophy Rally.

The rally began at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, which took over the entire parking lot leaving the valet and hotel guests dumbfounded.  A massive DJ tent claimed its territory directly behind the valet stand and proceeded to play loud dance music all day long.  One of the main sponsors of the rally, Luxury4play.com, brought their Bugatti Veyron and Maybach out to play with the other impressive arsenal of exotic sports cars participating in the rally.

As the 100 or so teams reported to the check-in, the drivers and their navigators placed stickers on their cars and chatted with other teams.  Entries included Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s, Porsches, Audi’s Viper’s, and BMW’s to name a few.

Many participants sported their finest costumes which included a Mouse helmet girl, Spiderman, Ironman, and a guy wearing daisy-dukes with a wig (really wish I didn’t see that).  As noon approached all teams were summoned to the DJ tent for a quick “drivers meeting”, in which event founder Jason Overell, forewarned the driver’s of the treacherous course and driving conditions that lay before them.

                     

At high noon the rally began and cars lined up to clock-in and receive the coveted top secret course information.  The instructions revealed the check points, and what to do while there.  A strategic point system took both driver and navigator through a 3 ½ hour course and required proof of check-in by obtaining a receipt or picture.  The adrenaline pumping rally took supreme driving machines through some of LA’s most beautiful canyons and back roads with sharp switch-backs and deadly drop-offs.  Temperatures soared to above 110 degrees which caused some tempers to flare and mechanical break downs along the way.

The rally concluded back at the Roosevelt Hotel where Targa Trophy revealed the winner of the event.  In true road rally fashion, the partying continued throughout the night at Hemingway’s and later at the Roxbury, both in Hollywood.

This was a great event but don’t kick yourself if you missed out on all the action.  I was told by Targa Trophy they are planning a 3 day event sometime in November so stay tuned for more information.  Rubber & Fumes will be there covering all the motoring goodness.

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WINNING BULLRUN IN A 725HP SHELBY SUPER SNAKE….ONE HELLUVA RIDE

I’ve been getting a lot of requests to talk about the car I won Bullrun Season 2 on Speed TV in.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with me or the show, I participated and won the reality TV Show Bullrun on Speed TV for Season 2.

In the show, my friend Spiro and I piloted a very rare 725HP 2007 Shelby GT 500 Super Snake.  What makes this particular car so rare is due, in part, to its limited production.  For each model year Shelby only produced 1000 Super Snakes and out of that number only hardtops were fitted with 725HP engine modification.  The convertibles had to settle for 600HP engine mod’s due to the increase in torque the body sustains.  About 500 or so could have gotten the 725HP option but not everyone did as this option voided the manufacturer’s warranty and obviously cost more money.  If you add colors and options into the mix there aren’t many 725HP White/Black GT500 Super Snakes out there.

With that being said, the Super Snake is hands down the meanest, fastest car I have ever driven and will ever want to drive.  It is uncontrollably fast and literally makes you feel invincible when driving in it.  There are very few cars you will run into, either on the track or on the street, that are faster than the 725HP Super Snake.  The Super Snake looks mean and intimidating and can back it all up! Everybody on the road wanted to race just to see the car in action.  It got so bad, my wife refused to ride in the car with me anymore.

It’s difficult for me to say if the $38K upgrade was worth it.  I personally did the upgrade because I have always been a big fan of the 1967 GT500 and thought it was my chance to invest in a collectible early on.  Unfortunately, with the economy the way it is, the value of this car diminished and it certainly didn’t help to be getting 3 mpg either.  You read right; I was getting 3 mpg when I got on the gas! I’m kind of proud of that in a weird sick way, not many of you can say you’ve gotten 3 mpg’s in your car, right?

Here is our Bullrun Casting Video that Spiro and I filmed to get on the show:

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ASTON MARTIN RAPIDE…BY-GEORGE I THINK THEY’VE DONE IT!

It’s pretty obvious to most that there is a battle being waged by high-end car companies to design the best 4-door sport sedan/hatchback.  Many car companies have made some sad attempts of coming out with their version of the of the sedan hatchback i.e BMW GT, however one of the best looking sedans to have come along is the Aston Martin Rapide.  The Aston Martin design team did an amazing job of designing a 4 door while still maintaining the sexy lines of say their DB9 Coupe.  The Rapide is actually a hatchback although you wouldn’t really know simply by glancing at it.

The Rapide also has some very unique and noteworthy design features such as the individual rear buckets seats with personal climate controls.  Although it seems a little claustrophobic at first glance, there is actually a lot of room and great views from every angle.  It definitely eliminates the need to call out “Shotgun” when going for a ride in this car.

Other design features include a hatchback tailgate, power folding seats and movable bulkhead which afford the Rapide probably the highest degree of practicality ever offered by an Aston Martin.

The Rapide is powered by a massive 5.9 liter V12 which produces 470 hp @ 6000 rpm and 443 lb-ft torque @ 5000 rpm.  It goes 0-60 in 5.1 seconds and claims a top speed of 188 mph.

Although I think the Rapide is as close to perfection as one can get for a sedan, I really would have liked to of seen some more horse power.   I almost wonder if they would have been better off with well-tuned V8 vs. their V12.  Ferrari and Lamborghini aside, V12’s are very heavy, and never seem produce the amount of horse power you would expect from that size of engine.  This would have at least lowered the Rapide’s MSRP of $207K +/-.  With all that aside, the Aston Martin Rapide still makes it into my dream garage!

vrooom!

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FERRARI UNVEILS THEIR NEW 458 ITALIA SPIDER….IS THIS REAL LIFE?

I am a huge Ferrari fan.  I have loved Ferrari since I was a baby.  As a teenager I had the unique experience of restoring and race prepping some of the rarest vintage Ferrari’s in the world. This left me with a very deep knowledge and passion for these cars.  As a child I always admired the 308’s as these were iconic cars that showed up in the TV shows and movies I grew up with.  I must admit, I hated the 348 and 355 models but was relieved to see the 360 Modena debut.  I didn’t love the car but it was definitely a step in the right direction.  When the F430 arrived, it corrected any shortcomings the 360 Modena had and made me very content with the car.

Once Ferrari debuted the 458 Italia my heart instantly started to pound like a scene from Tom and Jerry.  They nailed the design perfectly and brought back the intimidation and sex appeal that model deserves.  In typical Ferrari fashion, they have once again outdone themselves.  Ferrari has just announced the unveiling of their much awaited 458 Spider!  Unlike all their Spiders in the past, Ferrari has done the unthinkable and forgone the traditional fabric hood for a newly developed, Ferrari-patented hardtop.  The hardtop is claimed to fold back and stow ahead of the engine bay in 14 seconds at the press of a button.  This new system actually weighs 55 lbs less than the fabric hood system on the previous F30 Spider.

Just in case you’re not already aware of the stats for the 458, it’s powered by a naturally aspirated 4.5-liter V8 which produces 562 hp at 9000 rpm and 398 lb-ft torque at 6000 rpm, goes 0-62 mph 3.5 seconds with a top speed of 198 mph.

Check out the video below!

TESLA ROADSTER SPORT…IT AIN’T YOUR FATHER’S ELECTRIC CAR!

Ok I’ll admit I’ve often been curious about the Tesla after seeing it all over LA so when I was invited to take it on a test drive I didn’t hesitate.  I visited one of Tesla’s new Modular Stores which has the same feel as say an Apple store and the same size as a small retail clothing store.

Michael Lahalih sitting in the floor model Tesla Roadster Sport

I’ve often thought of the Tesla as a Lotus with an electric motor however I’ve come to find there’s a lot more than that to this advanced sports car.  For beginners, the Tesla is about 5” wider and 5” longer than the Lotus Elise.  This may not sound like much at first, but if you’ve ever sat in an Elise before the additional space is much welcomed.  Also, the Tesla has some great appointments that the Lotus is lacking like sound dampening and leather, which actually makes a huge difference in those smaller confines.

The stats of the Tesla is what really impressed me; the monocoque chassis, constructed of resin-bonded & riveted extruded aluminum, is wrapped entirely in Carbon Fiber and powered by a 288HP electric motor with 100% torque.  It goes from 0-60 in 3.7 seconds and actually feels like 510HP due to having a single gear and high torque ratio.

Once I sat in the car, the interior immediately reminded me of the iconic Ferrari’s like the 308GTS or the Dino 246GTS because of the gauge cluster, sport seat positioning, and targa top.  There is no power steering which I really enjoyed and the controls were very easy to use.  I buckled up, pushed the “D” button for “drive”, and was on my way.  I floored the car to see what it could do and it took off like a rocket!  I’ve never experienced going that fast so quickly with absolutely no engine noise or screeching tires, it was a very surreal feeling.  After driving the Tesla, I had a new-found respect for the company and their vision.  There were a few downsides to the car like having a 245 mile range on one charge and a 3 hour wait-time for a full recharge, which are definitely things you would need to seriously consider before investing $100K+ into this very cool sports car.

Michael Lahalih before his test drive