RODEO DRIVE CONCOURS D’ ELEGANCE…A FATHER’S DAY TRADITION

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

For the last 3 years I would wake up the Monday after Father’s Day only to realize I’ve missed yet another year of the Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance.  I was on my way to repeating this tragic mistake yet again until a good friend happened to be at the show and text me a picture of a car he liked.  I immediately dropped what I was doing, put my helmet on, and rode my motorcycle to Beverly Hills.

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

This exclusive display of luxury automobiles has become a Father’s Day tradition in Beverly Hills and is set against the backdrop of world class Rodeo Drive boutiques.  The show celebrates the unique relationship between the automotive, fashion and entertainment industries.  It’s free, open to the public and has been named one of the “300 Unmissable Events & Festivals Around the World” by top travel publisher Frommer’s.

Upon arriving on the scene I was overwhelmed with the sea of people, cars and motorcycles sprawled across 3 precious blocks of Rodeo Drive.  It was a hot summer day with not a cloud in the sky and absolutely perfect weather for the task at hand.

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

Families from all over Southern California and beyond strolled around the street armed with children and poodles by their side to grab a glimpse of the rarest and most unique road-going vehicles in world.

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

It was sensory overload for me so I gathered my thoughts, took a deep breath and proceeded to enter the show with my camera, locked and loaded.

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

This year’s theme was “The British Are Coming” with Aston Martin being the shows’ featured marquee. The rightfully titled show boasted a strong influence of British made cars and bikes to wow the audience.  Beginning with a double-decker London bus, which people could board, the thoughtfully planned-out show took you through many eras of the automobile.

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

Cars spanning from the early 1900’s all the way to today’s current supercars included Aston Martins, Austin’s, Auburns, Lagos’, Ferraris’, Cobras’ Lamorghinis’, Minis’ and a Bugatti to name but a few.  These cars were proudly displayed by their owners, many adorned with ribbons awarded to them by the show judges earlier that day.

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

I have been to many cars shows throughout my life, some good and some not so good, but I must say the organizers of this event get an A+ in my book.  They did an excellent job gathering a wide array of vehicles from American Muscle to Custom Hot Rods to European Elegance and beyond.

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

More importantly the organizers managed to display the cars in a way that created a great flow for the masses of people to view while maintaining a good vibe that made everyone feel they were truly part of something very special.  This was a remarkable car spectacle and I left there feeling quite content and eager to see what great cars next year’s show will bring.

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

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BATMAN IN A LAMBORGHINI…MAKES PERFECT SENSE!

Batman Driving Lamborghini

Batman Driving Lamborghini

I have always considered myself a major car guy and like most car guys I often fantasize about what I would do if I ever won the lottery.  After much pondering over the years, it finally came to me in a flash…a news flash that is.  A few weeks back pictures of Batman driving a Lamborghini pulled over by police began to surface and it immediately got my juices flowing. At last the answer to my age old lottery question; yes it makes perfect sense! I will wear my favorite superhero costume and drive around the neighborhood in a convertible Lamborghini!  Why I didn’t think of this sooner is beyond me.

Batman Driving Lamborghini

Batman Driving Lamborghini

Seriously though I was very inspired by the driver after finding out he was on his way to a  hospital for philanthropic work with sick children.  I guess there is a lesson to be learned in all of this after-all.  You can still live out your fantasies while helping others at the same time.

Batman Driving Lamborghini

Batman Driving Lamborghini

Thankfully the dash cam was recording (see video below) to capture the awkward interaction between the police and their childhood hero. The officer from the cruiser that managed to actually stop Batman jokingly requested Robin for backup.

Batman Driving Lamborghini

Batman Driving Lamborghini

All-in-all a great story and surely worthy of making it in my Honorable Mentions category.

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LYONHEART K…FINALLY A CAT WORTH KEEPING

Lyonheart K

Lyonheart K

I have always been fond of the old Jaguar XKE’s.  When I was working in the Ferrari shop in my youth, we were hired to perform a complete frame-off restoration on a 1967 XKE V12 Convertible.  When the restoration was complete I won the right to take it on its inaugural first drive after winning a fierce game of rock, paper, scissors with my coworkers.  As I turned over that massive V12 and heard the continuous winding of the starter motor I was hooked.  I took it on a 2 hour drive around the city and highway.  Despite having to pull over for about 30 minutes due to it overheating I was in heaven.  Since then, I have always dreamt of owning one someday.

Lyonheart K

Lyonheart K

With the advent of the Lyonheart K my dreams are slowly changing priority.  Named after the original founder of Jaguar, William Lyons, the Lyonheart K is designed in Switzerland and built in Britain.  The new Lyonheart K is a modern interpretation of the classic Jaguar E-Types.  The retro-style coupe was created by Robert Palm, founder and CEO of Classic Factory, a unique automotive, marine, and industrial design house located just west of Lausanne.  Palm created a completely new company, Lyonheart Cars, to build a limited run of these hand-built coupes.

Lyonheart K

Lyonheart K

Similar to many of the supercars on the market today the Lyonheart K incorporates a modern carbon-fiber body on an aluminum chassis.  Powered by a 5.0-liter V8 producing 544-horsepower, the Lyonheart K will go 0-60 mph in a shattering 4.0 seconds and has a top speed of 186 mph.  That’s no easy feat considering the car weighs in at around 3500 lbs.

Lyonheart K

Lyonheart K

As much as I can appreciate great specs such as high horsepower and top speeds, I must admit I am a sucker for good looks.  I can easily sacrifice some horsepower for a better looking car.  The Lyonheart K is one of those cars I am more than willing to make that sacrifice for.  Boasting authentic details as a front-hinged clam-shell hood and an interior trimmed in leather, polished steel, brushed aluminum and wood veneer; the Lyonheart is poised to run in the same circles as the Pagani Huayra and Bugatti Veyron to name a few.

Lyonheart K

Lyonheart K

The first 50 cars are slated to go into production in Coventry, England with the factory quoting a delivery time of 18 months. Unfortunately for me it will take me much longer to deliver the $655,000 (plus tax) it costs to own one of these magnificent pieces of artwork.  I do have to say however, if I could afford this cat, I definitely wouldn’t be kicking it out of the house in the evenings.

FISKER KARMA…ECO-COOL!

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

I don’t know too much about hybrid cars.  I personally like the sound of a great exhaust system spewing sweet-smelling fumes from a high performance gas guzzling power plant.  One thing I do know about hybrids is that they all tend to look a little weird.

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

Take the Prius for example.  I know it’s trendy in LA to drive a Prius as to show the fellow Angeleno’s you’re doing your part to save the world, but does it really have to look like that?  Even the all-electric Tesla (see previous post) manages to look just a little off from your typical sports car.  The list goes on but it seems someone finally took note and is trying to change things.

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

The company Fisker has come a long way from the days of being an aftermarket coach builder; rebodying BMW’s and MB’s to name few.  Founders Henrik Fisker and Bernhard Koehler have decided to change the way hybrid/electric cars are perceived and to prove to the world that you can have a fuel-efficient car without looking like a member of the chess club.

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

The Fisker Karma is a beautifully designed sedan and one of the few cars that has managed to stay true to its concept form.  A solar roof is tastefully incorporated into the body adding a futuristic element to an already forward design.  Other elements such as 22” wheels and Fisker’s signature sleek front grille adorn the wonderfully sculpted bodywork of the Karma.

The Karma’s powertrain uses the internal combustion engine in series with a generator and the Lithium-ion battery to power the electric motors that power the rear wheels giving up to 50 mi of electric driving.  After that, the internal combustion engine engages to generate energy for the electric motors providing up to an additional 250 mi of range; equating to about 52 mpg.

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

The Karma has (2) 201 bhp motors that can produce a 0-60 time in 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 125 mph (Sport Mode).  Materials such as Water-Based Paints, Reclaimed Woods and EcoSuede are just a few of the ingredients that go into making this eco-friendly, state-of-the-art sports sedan.

While I can literally write a book about the Karma’s technical attributes I really like this car for the way it looks.  The performance specs aren’t the greatest, especially when you compare them to other sports sedans in the same price range  ($104K – $120K) but sometimes specs aren’t’ everything.  The person that drives this car is much like the car itself; a sleek and sophisticated forward thinking individual that believes looking cool is just as important as saving the world.  I like to call it “Eco-Cool”.

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

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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!

FERRARI MUSEUM IN MARANELLO…A GLIMPSE OF HEAVEN!

As I mentioned in my previous post I finally achieved one of my life long goals and made a pilgrimage to the Ferrari Factory and while there I had a chance to visit the Ferrari Museum (videos at the end).

Ferrari Museum in Maranello, Italy

Ferrari Museum in Maranello, Italy

Upon entering the museum I walked through the impressive gift shop, which has anything and everything you can possibly place a Ferrari shield on.  Walking through the shop I was greeted by the friendly Ferrari staff in spotless and perfect Ferrari uniforms.  I was given the option of purchasing a general admission ticket for 13 Euros or a touring ticket in which you actually board a bus and drive through the Ferrari Factory among other stops.  Being that it was a Sunday and the factory was closed I chose to save my money for more Ferrari gifts on the way out.

Ferrari Museum in Maranello, Italy

Ferrari Museum in Maranello, Italy

I really didn’t expect to see so many rare and amazing Ferrari’s as I did.  Among all the Formula 1 and Le Mans cars basking in all their glory, as fans snap off picture after picture, sat a few cars you rarely ever see.   I spotted a Super America version of the 599 Fiorano (protoypte?), and the 599XX Speciale both of which looked absolutely stunning just to name a few.

Ferrari Museum in Maranello, Italy

Ferrari SA Aperta aka 599 Super America in Maranello, Italy

Ferrari 599XX Speciale

Ferrari 599XX Speciale in Maranello Italy

Another really cool display was Enzo Ferrari’s actual office recreated in the museum complete with his desk, chair, coffee mug, hat, pictures on the walls etc… Once I reached the 2ndfloor I was immediately greeted by a beautiful red Enzo (F60) sitting in front of a Factory facade mock up and she looked right at home.

Ferrari Enzo (F60) in Ferrari Museum, Maranello Italy

Ferrari Enzo (F60) in Ferrari Museum, Maranello Italy

As I walked past the Enzo I stepped into a dark magical room that had ambient music playing while 8 F1 cars sit perched in front of flat screen TV’s displaying Ferrari’s winning race history (video below).  Trophies were displayed behind a glass wall while people starred in utter amazement at the heavenly room.  It was really something to have visited the museum and it turned out to be much more than I expected.  If you are ever anywhere near Modena I highly recommend you spend a couple hours of your time and head over to the Ferrari campus, you won’t regret it.

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