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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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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LAMBORGHINI SESTO ELEMENTO…NERDS RULE!

The word nerd and Lamborghini never worked very well in the same sentence together however, the sensational Italian automaker has become quite the whiz kid in recent years.  With some help from their friends at Boeing Aerospace Lamborghini is quickly being considered an authority figure on carbon-fiber hyper-machines.  So savvy indeed I felt quite intelligent just by reading up on the Sesto Elemento.  The name alone suggests a degree of scientific pedigree as it means “Sixth Element” in Italian or moreover the Sixth Element on the Periodic Table aka Carbon.

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento

Debuted for the first time at the 2010 Paris Auto Show, the Sesto Elemento was introduced to the world as a technological demonstration piece by Lamborghini, a little flex of their muscle if you will.  Well that little flex raised a lot of eyebrows and generated quite a buzz.  With the excellent feedback and numerous requests received about the Sesto Elemento, Lamborghini had been convinced to embark on the challenge of producing a vehicle with the unique characteristics demonstrated at the Paris Auto Show.  One year later voila’, you have a very limited (20 units), track-only, extreme masterpiece of lightweight engineering that delivers unparalleled performance.

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento

How unparalleled you ask?  The 5.2-liter V10 borrowed from the Gallardo produces 570 hp but that’s not what raises your heart rate.  The Sesto Elemento weighs in at 2202 lbs enabling this car to rocket from 0-62 mph in a ridiculous 2.5 seconds and has a top speed of 186 mph.  While its all-wheel-drive system and 6-speed paddle shift, semi-automatic transmission certainly aid the car in achieving those staggering numbers, it’s the cars impressive horsepower-to-weight ratio (.26hp/lbs) that plays the major role.

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento

The Sesto Elemento’s lightweight is due largely to the chassis, body, driveshaft, and suspension components all being made of carbon-fiber.  Aside from being the lightest car Lamborghini has ever produced, it also embodies some very unique design features.  The sharp and stealthy lines resemble a snap shot of speed and velocity captured in one frame.  As you peer towards the back there lays 10 hexagonal holes in the engine cover placed there strictly to release perspired air from the engine bay.  That’s right people the car actually sweats!  Two hexagonal intakes provide the Sesto Elemento with enough air to help cool down the hard working Italian.  All 20 of these bad boys have already been spoken for and pricing rumors are all over the map ranging from $1.4M to as much as $2.6M.  It’s safe to say however, if you have to ask you probably can’t afford it.

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento

Among the numerous attributes and accomplishments Lamborghini has accomplished over the years, I would have to say that most notably is their latest, making it so cool be a nerd.

Also be sure to check out my Bugatti Veyron Super Sport post as it weights twice as much as the Sesto Elemento and has the same 0-62 time.

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2012 NISSAN GT-R PREMIUM…STOCKING STUFFER?

Autumn is upon us and what better time to start fantasizing about what car you would like under that Xmas tree with a big red bow on it than right now.  This way your significant other or Santa (if you still believe) will have plenty of time to seek out the right color combo and have it gift wrapped for you just like in those Lexus commercials!

2012-Nissan-GT-R

2012-Nissan-GT-R

The car that I most envision getting for Xmas this year is the 2012 Nissan GT-R Premium.  Why that car you ask?  Well I will tell you why; because it has either beaten or has seriously come close to beating just about every Sports Car and Super Car on the planet, it’s been ravely reviewed by every respectable car magazine possible, and it almost broke Jeremy Clarkson’s neck when he test drove it on Top Gear.  It’s priced so realistically that even the brokest among us can dream about owning this car someday, it won “The World’s Greatest Drag Race” hosted by Motor Trend (video below), it was pitted up next to a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport in Road & Track…I mean how many cars can even qualify to do that; a V6 vs. V16, really?  It looks cool, it sounds cool, heck it even smells cool, the car is just damn cool.

2012-Nissan-GT-R

2012-Nissan-GT-R

2012-Nissan-GT-R

2012-Nissan-GT-R

If that’s not enough the boys at Nissan felt they could represent the GT-R nameplate just a little better.  That being said, improvements on the 2012 begin with an increase in turbo boost complimenting a larger intake and exhaust system along with revised valve timing and air/fuel ratio.  These tweaks and upgrades earned the 2012 GT-R Premium an additional 45 bhp totaling 530 bhp and 448 lb.-ft., up from 434 lb.-ft.  Oh one last thing…it goes 0-60 in 2.94 seconds.

Uhmmmmm, let me put that into some perspective for you; it only takes the GT-R .42 seconds longer to go 0-60 mph than the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport and costs the same amount it would be to maintain the Super Sport for one year.  By the time you scroll down to the video in this post, the GT-R would have already launched itself to over 60 mph.  The 2012 Nissan GT-R is definitely going on my Xmas list this year, I really hope Santa has an enclosed trailer!

2012-Nissan-GT-R

2012-Nissan-GT-R

Check out the GT-R Perform Admirably in “The World’s Greatest Drag Race” hosted by Motor Trend Below!

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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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MY PILGRIMAGE TO FERRARI….NOW MY LIFE IS COMPLETE!

Ferrari Factory in Maranello Italy

Ferrari Factory in Maranello Italy

Ferrari Enzo resting in the Ferrari Museum in Maranello Italy
Ferrari Enzo resting in the Ferrari Museum in Maranello Italy

In every car guys life there is a least one ultimate goal, a lifelong dream, a pilgrimage if you will.  No I’m not talking about a religious act or even a family tradition, I am talking about the few things you put on your bucket list before dying.  For some it’s going to the Indy 500 or to drive a race car, for others it’s simply to meet someone like Carroll Shelby.  For me it was visiting the Ferrari Factory!

Ferrari Formula 1 Cars at The Ferrari Museum in Maranello

Ferrari Formula 1 Cars at The Ferrari Museum in Maranello

Ever since I was lucky enough to have gotten a job at International Auto restoring vintage Ferrari’s as a teenager, I have had the urge to make a pilgrimage to the Ferrari Factory.  I would hear stories about how the wealthy doctors I worked for would get flown to the factory by Ferrari to view their new models.  It sounded so cool I immediately made visiting the factory one of my top goals.  Fast forward 20 years later and I finally did it!

Standing in front of Ferrari Museum in Maranello

Standing in front of Ferrari Museum in Maranello

Let me first say it wasn’t the easiest to find.  We flew into Milan and made our way towards Modena after staying a few nights in Venice.  I went cheap and declined Hertz’s $300 up-charge for GPS and decided to use a map purely out of spite (not the best idea).  After driving aimlessly for 4+ hours I knew I was getting close as signs for Maranello began to appear.  Soon thereafter I glanced to my right and behind the trees and bushes on the side of the road looked like what appeared to be a race track.  I thought to myself could it be? Yes it was! The Ferrari test track.  As I continued down the road another few minutes, and as the trees cleared away, there it was, just like I imagined, Ferrari heaven!

Formula 1 Cars in Ferrari Museum

Formula 1 Cars in Ferrari Museum

I turned off the main street and pulled in to a large parking lot which was surrounded by the Ferrari Museum, multiple Ferrari stores, cafes and most importantly Ferrari rentals.  I was immediately overwhelmed and couldn’t speak as everything became silent; my wife was snapping her fingers in front of my face to see if I was still conscious.  A nice Italian boy walked up to me and asked if I wanted to rent a Ferrari and I just starred at him.  Ferrari’s were driving past me from the left and from the right. It was so much sensory overload , I really almost shut down.  Finally my wife grabbed me with both arms and pulled me towards the museum as I was unable to make any decisions.

Ferrari Engines Inside Ferrari Museum at Maranello

Ferrari Engines Inside Ferrari Museum at Maranello

We paid the 13 Euro entry fee and walked around in awe at the display of race cars, models, trophy’s etc…  I took a ton of pictures and will have a post specifically on the museum soon after this post.  Upon leaving the museum I ran into that kid that asked me if I wanted to rent a Ferrari earlier that day.  Without hesitation I said yes.  Fifteen minutes and 85 Euro later I was in a Ferrari California Spider with Francesco and my wife flying down the back roads of Maranello; more on this to come as well.

Ferrari California Spider Test Drive in Maranello

Ferrari California Spider Test Drive in Maranello

I had 2 more stops before leaving this magical place; the actual factory and the test track.  While both of these are off limits to common folk, you could still drive to it, pay homage and snap off a few pictures, both of which I did.

Pista di Fiorano aka Ferrari Test Track

Pista di Fiorano aka Ferrari Test Track

More to come on actually going through the Ferrari Museum and my test drive of the Ferrari California.

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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!