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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McLaren MP4-12C…THE BOYS ARE BACK!

McLaren Mp4-12C

McLaren Mp4-12C

We haven’t heard too much from the boys at McLaren over the past few years. I guess after creating the McLaren F1 there wasn’t really much more to say.  Being heralded as “the finest driving machine built for the public road” or having statements made like “the McLaren F1 will be remembered as one of the great events in the history of the car” would make anybody lazy, right? Wrong!

McLaren MP4-12C

McLaren MP4-12C

The boys are back with the much-anticipated predecessor to the McLaren F1, the McLaren MP4-12C.  Few cars arrive to the scene with as much pressure and expectation for nothing less than mind blowing stellar performance than McLaren.  Do you blame us?

McLaren MP4-12C

McLaren MP4-12C

McLaren boss Ron Dennis was quoted as stating the MP4-12C will out perform the competition in all areas: speed, emissions, and dynamics.  That’s a pretty bold statement considering the company the 12C is in.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see however considering the specs, I’d say they have a damn good chance of holding true to that claim.

McLaren MP4-12C

McLaren MP4-12C

Powered by a 3.8L Twin Turbo V8 producing 592bhp, the 12C goes 0-62 in 3.3 seconds and has a top speed of 205 mph.  Following in the McLaren F1’s footsteps, the 12C is the first production car to use the most cutting edge and latest space age materials like Magnesium and a single-piece Carbon MonoCell; weighting in at just under 3000lbs.  Additionally, words like “fuel efficiency” and “CO2 emissions” aren’t really spoken about when it comes to supercars.  McLaren however thought they would start that conversation with the 12C managing nearly 25mpg and an mpg/CO2 ratio being one of the best in the modern world.

McLaren MP4-12C

McLaren MP4-12C

While the interior’s forensic attention to ergonomic detail and the rear-tail brake-assist is quite impressive, the one thing I appreciated when learning about the McLaren MP4-12C was the price.  I’m not saying $250K +/- is affordable by any means, however considering the McLaren F1 was $1M car I think they have made great strides in making this car more attainable to not only the Saudi princes but to their sons and daughters as well!

McLaren MC4-12C

McLaren MP4-12C

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FERRARI 612 GTO by Sasha Selipanov

As I have mentioned many times in the past, I don’t like to spend too much time talking about concept cars.  I don’t like guessing what the price and performance specs would be if some company decided to actually produce the car.  I must say however, every now and then something comes along that force me to bend the rules.

612 GTO by Sasha Selipanov

612 GTO by Sasha Selipanov

Sasha Selipanov of Berlin Germany aka The Angry Car Designer has designed a concept he calls “612 GTO”.  It’s pretty bold to use the coveted GTO badging considering Ferrari themselves have only used it on 3 models ever!  (See previous post)

The design reminds me of a lot of things.  While the concept definitely encompasses some prominent designs characteristics from the 1962 250 GTO there are also some hints of Zagato inspired lines by the way the rear fenders are shaped and flared.

612 GTO by Sasha Selipanov

612 GTO by Sasha Selipanov

Since this is all fantasy anyway, what the hell lets fantasize, shall we! 612; 6.0L V12?  Horsepower; considering the new Lamborghini LP-700 Aventador sports a similar engine, which produces 700 bhp, lets say the 612 GTO comes with 750bhp, it is a GTO after all.

 0-60? I’m going to go ahead and say 2.8 seconds due to the engine being in front and it only having rear-wheel drive.

Weight; considering it’s a futuristic GTO model I’m going to assume Ferrari has made great strides in the carbon-fiber department and constructed the entire chassis and body from new space-age carbon-fiber totaling 3500lbs.

Brakes; I’ll say the 612 GTO has ceramic carbon disc brakes measuring 15.7×1.5 inches in the front, and 14.2×1.5 inches in the rear. That set-up should pretty much stop anything!

612 GTO by Sasha Selipanov

612 GTO by Sasha Selipanov

 Wow, that was fun!  While this is just a fantasy and will most likely never gain any steam, designers like Sasha Selipanov all start from humble beginnings doing exactly what he did with his “612 GTO”.  It’s the same place Jason Castriota came from and you can all see the great success he’s had with his career.  At the very least the 612 GTO concept deserves a place in my Honorable Mentions category and a pat on the back from me, good job!

612 GTO by Sasha Selipanov

612 GTO by Sasha Selipanov

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612 GTO by Sasha Selipanov

612 GTO by Sasha Selipanov

 

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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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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