Monday, May 16, 2011
The original Jetta GLI was a GTI with a trunk, but had the benefit of being built in Germany, unlike Mark 1 GTIs which were built in Pennsylvania. Accordingly, they had seats from the Scirocco and the dash from the Euro GTI, not the maroon or blue affairs from the US GTI. It was a great first car...enough power to make it fun, but not so much power to be dangerous. Good luck trying to find one today...most have been heavily modified or flogged mercilessly.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Video from NDB 1...
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
- Fernando Alonso will win the World Championship
- Red Bull will win the Constructors Championship
- Vettel, Webber, Hamilton and Massa will score wins
- Schumacher, Rosberg, Heidfeld, Button and Barichello will appear more than once on the podium
Enjoy what promises to be a fascinating season!
Friday, March 18, 2011
I have to say that the replacement for the big Merc' is at the opposite end of the 4-door spectrum. I purchased a 2011 Civic Si. I went from 6 cylinders to four, rear to front wheel drive, leather to cloth, German to Japanese, stolid to sporty, full-size to compact.
I think the Civic Si is the best performance bargain going. For a price of less than $22,000 (after some negotiation), you get a car that will carry a family of four comfortably, provide years of reliable service and be able to rev to 8,000 glorious RPM. This is my first Honda with a VTEC engine and it is awesome. It has a real Jeckyll and Hyde character - below 6,000 is a docile econo-car, but above 6,000 it shows its teeth. So far after six months of ownership a couple of family trips and daily commutes, I have no regrets...oh, and air conditioning works, which is a nice change from the Mercedes.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
- What: An informal get together for car talk, coffee and a spirited drive
- When: Saturday, April 16, 8am meet-up, 8:30am departure
- Who: Everyone welcome as long as you are passionate about cars. All cars welcome. Just one rule: NDB - that means no Fast and Furious crowd.
- Where: Intersection of Boston Post Road and Townhouse Road in Weston Center (2 miles from Route 128 exit 26).
- Route: A 30-40 mile loop between the 128 and 495 belts starting and ending in Weston Center. Maps and directions to be provided.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Anyway, I am not sure how I came across these, but the two videos below show just how far we've come in automotive safety. The first shows a crash between 2009 and 1959 Chevrolets. The difference is astonishing...needless to say the 1959 driver won't be walking away from this one.
The next one is an early-80s VW transporter fully loaded at about 50 mph. The engine in these is in the rear, so there's not much to stop the momentum. Not only will this driver not be walking away, I am not sure they'll be able to find him.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
* Most world titles: 7 (1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004)
* Most consecutive titles: 5 (2000-04)
* Most grand prix wins: 91
* Most wins in a single season: 13 (2004)
* Most consecutive wins in a single season: 7 (2004)
* Most wins at the same race: 8 (French GP)
* Most wins with one team: 72 (Ferrari)
* Most wins from pole: 40
* Most pole positions: 68
* Most front-row starts: 115
* Most podium finishes: 154
* Most second place finishes: 43
* Most points finishes: 190
* Most points scored: 1,369
* Most points in a single season: 148 (from a maximum of 180, in 2004)
* Most fastest laps: 76
* Most fastest laps in a season: 10 (from a maximum of 18, in 2004)
* Most races led: 141
* Most laps led: 5,108
* Furthest distance led in a season: 2,085 miles (2004)
* Fastest race-winning average speed: 153.843mph (2003 Italian GP)
* Most consecutive podiums: 19 (USA 2001 to Japan 2002)
* Most consecutive points finishes: 24 (Hungary 2001 to Malaysia 2003)
* Most consecutive seasons with a win: 15 (1992-2006)
* Most consecutive wins from pole (6)
* Most ‘clean sweeps’ (pole, win, fastest lap): 22
* Largest points gap between champion and runner-up: 67 (2002)
* Earliest title winner: 2002 (in July, with 6 of the 17 races remaining)
* Longest continuous spell with one team: 11 seasons (Ferrari, 1996-2006)
* Most races with same team: 162 (Ferrari)
* Most time between first and last race wins: 14 years, 1 month and 1 day
* Never outqualified by his team-mate in 1992, 1993 or 1994
* Only driver to have finished every race on the podium: 2002
* Won all his ‘landmark’ GPs, winning on his 50th, 100th, 150th and 200th GP starts
* Only events he failed to win were South African, Mexican and Turkish GPs
* His record of 91 GP wins is only one shy of the combined total of the next two most winning drivers, Alain Prost (51) and Ayrton Senna (41)
* Scored points in a remarkable 76.6% of all his GP starts
* Led 56.9% of all GPs he started
* Banned or disqualified from more races than anyone else (banned from two races and disqualified from another in 1994; excluded from 1997 world championship results for collision with Jacques Villeneuve)
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
A Schumacher return would be a great thing for F1. Plus the Mercedes merchandise department must be salivating at the prospect of all the Schumacher Mercedes hats, shirts, flags, etc. that it will sell. I have to admit, I'll be near the front of the queue.
Monday, December 7, 2009
We'll see three new teams and a couple reworked teams. With the addition of new teams we'll also see a bunch of new drivers to fill those extra slots...so it looks like even marginal current drivers should snag a seat for next year.
Mercedes notwithstanding, for the most part the manufacturer era is over in Formula 1. Honda pulled out last year. Toyota and BMW have pulled out this year and it appears Renault is on the brink of selling its team (but perhaps keeping the Renault name on the car). It remains to be seen whether this will be good for the sport. I tend to think it will if the privateer teams can secure strong sponsorship.
2010 will see the end of refueling, so cars will be much heavier meaning that drivers have to manage very changeable cars over the length of a Grand Prix. This should really put a premium on driver adaptability.
Last and certainly not least, there is the rumored return of one Michael Schumacher. Remember, him? I thought your would. More on that soon...
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
First up is the Citroen C5 Wagon. As mentioned in a post below, I think this has to the best looking wagon on the planet. Definitely a stylish way to haul the kids and their gear.
Next in line is the Citroen C3 Picasso. The Europeans, and particularly the French, do tall one-box designs well. This is compact car with tons of space inside and lots of cool design features.
Although we get the four-door Si version, we no longer get the Honda Civic three-Door Type S. At this heart of this polarizing design is a high-revving Honda engine.
We've been denied the new VW Scirocco. Although this is really a squashed GTI, it is a damn-cool car. Bring it over VW!
Along with the Citroen, here's one from a brand not even sold in the US - the Seat Leon Cupra. The Leon is a cool design - given the Cupra treatment it also hauls. It sports a VW-based 2 litre turbo and hits 62mph in 6.4 seconds.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
After 20 years in the sport and four world championships Flav and Pat are now leaving in disgrace. I guess Flav will have to console himself on his mega-yacht with is supermodel girlfriend. Good riddance.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
So the cash-for-clunkers program is over already! I am biased, but I like any program that gets fuel-efficient, commute-appropriate vehicles on the road and stops people from driving unnecessarily in over-sized gas guzzlers. That said, there are plenty of folks, like my friend Jim, who think this is a waste of government cash. Fair enough, but I say compared to some of the places the government spends its (our) moolah, providing incentives for people to make smart decisions regarding their second-largest purchase, isn't a bad idea.
Anyway, to prove that this process worked as intended (i.e., taking clunkers off the road in favor of fuel-efficient vehicles), take a look at this list of vehicles "clunked" and purchased. I'd guesstimate about a 10-15MPG average improvement...
Top 10 New Vehicles Purchased
1. Toyota Corolla
2. Ford Focus FWD
3. Honda Civic
4. Toyota Prius
5. Toyota Camry
6. Hyundai Elantra
7. Ford Escape FWD
8. Dodge Caliber
9. Honda Fit
10. Chevrolet Cobalt
Top 10 Trade-in Vehicles
1. Ford Explorer 4WD
2. Ford F150 Pickup 2WD
3. Jeep Grand Cherokee 4WD
4. Jeep Cherokee 4WD
5. Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan 2WD
6. Ford Explorer 2WD
7. Chevrolet Blazer 4WD
8. Ford F150 Pickup 4WD
9. Chevrolet C1500 Pickup 2WD
10. Ford Windstar FWD Van
Bonus: Here's an interesting video of how they "kill" the engines on the clunkers with sodium silciate:
Friday, August 14, 2009
Unbeknownst to many, this program is based on programs launched in Germany (Strudel-for-Clunkers) and France (Crepes-for-Clunkers) late last year and earlier this year. Those programs were also wildly successful, although they offered much higher amounts for trade-ins and didn’t have as many restrictions as the US programs. Those programs were more about taking high-polluting cars off the road rather than reducing low-MPG cars (since cars in Europe have been much higher-MPG for a long time).
There were two criticisms of the European programs that we haven’t heard much here in the US. The first was from independent mechanics who complained that taking older cars off the road was affecting their livelihood. Fewer old crappy cars mean fewer trips to the local mechanic. The second criticism was from the enthusiast community. Folks were turning in cars that could be considered “future classics” which were then destroyed.
I am not sure why we are not hearing from mechanics in the US. Although, if my local mechanic is any indication, they have more business than they can handle and a few less clunkers probably isn’t affecting them at this point. As for the silence from US enthusiasts, I think they are largely silent due to the fact that the majority of clunkers being taken off the road are pick-ups and SUVs, which have little likelihood of becoming classics. Even so, I am sure there is the odd future classic that is being crushed. Too bad there is no flexibility in the government guidelines to allow a knowledgeable dealer/junk yard to exempt a vehicle if it has significant potential for parts or future collector status.
(Thanks to Scott Snyder for inspiring this post.)
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Before you dismiss the idea of the Grand Prix of Boston as half baked, think about it. Boston is a great spot…within hours of millions of people and plenty of accommodations. A course could be created down Storrow and Memorial Drives using the Mass Ave. Bridge and Museum of Science Way as connectors for a total of 3.8 miles. It would basically be two long curving straights broken up by a several sharp turns. Pits could be set up along the Memorial Drive access road in front of MIT with grandstands lining both sides of the Charles. There’s plenty of parking for motor homes and transporters in Kendall Square just behind the pits, and space for hospitality areas at Teddy Ebersol fields and in from of the Museum of Science. I see tie-ins with MIT and the MOS on the “science of F1.” Just imagine cars blasting down the banks of the Charles on a beautiful summer day with boats, yachts and Duck Boats plying the river. This would seriously be an awesome event.
Boston is a world-class city… let’s get a world-class event! All I need is approval from the Mayors of Boston and Cambridge, the Back Bay Preservation Society, Turnpike Authority, BRDA, Big Dig, Museum of Science, MIT, CambridgeSide Galleria, DEP, DOT, DCR, State Police, Boston Police, Cambridge Police, Chamber of Commerce…
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
UPDATE: Holy crap! He's back, baby! Just hours after I posted this Scurderia Ferrari confirmed that the winningest driver ever will substitute for Felipe Massa.
Monday, July 27, 2009
I was in attendance at the Montreal Grand Prix two years ago when Robert Kubica hit the wall at over 150mph destroying his car. In the time between the accident and the update that Kubica had suffered only minor injuries, fearing that Kubica might have been gravely injured, I can admit that I questioned whether it is right to support such a (sometimes) brutal sport. In fact, the entire grandstand went silent – I am sure thinking similar thoughts. Ultimately, we have to accept that the possibility of injury exists in motorsport and also know that the drivers accept that possibility. We are drawn to this sport because of the grace with which drivers guide their cars at over 200mph often on the limits of control. It is inevitable that from time to time the humanness of the drivers will be revealed. When this does happen, we can be thankful that the dramatic improvements in car (and helmet) safety over the last several decades have made injury and death a rare occurrence.
Best wishes to Felipe for a speedy recovery. As the Ferrari team said yesterday, “Forza Felipe.”
Friday, July 24, 2009
My plans for the weekend include a stop by the Triumph get-together on Sunday at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline. This is usually a good show, and I hope to see a few of my preferred Triumph...the GT6 (see photo above). This is basically a hard-top Spitfire designed for endurance racing events. It is a great looking little car, and (I have heard) a blast to drive.
Have fun with whatever you do this weekend!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Frankly, I'd love to see Loeb in an F1 car...he's an amazing rally driver and did a great job in a test earlier in the year. It's always interesting to see someone try to cross over from another series. Let's hope that Loeb can do better than other recent transplants.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Citroen DS – Shown above, it is difficult to understand today how radical this car was at its launch in the 50s. So iconically French that the Griswolds drove one in European vacation.
Citroen 2CV - An umbrella on wheels, this is the car that got the French back on the road after WW2. It remained in production for forty years virtually unchanged.
Peugeot 205 GTI – Peugeot’s answer to the VW Golf GTI. Try finding one today that hasn’t been absolutely destroyed by teenage heroics.
Citroen SM – Basically a DS coupe with a Maserati engine. Maybe not the most reliable mechanically, but it sure was stunning.
Renault Alpine A110 – I can still remember seeing these in rallies when I was a kid in France. Based on a Renault 8, this was France’s answer to the Porsche 911.
Citroen Traction Avant – The first mass produced unibody front wheel drive car. It may not look futuristic, but its basic layout underpins most of today’s cars.
Bugatti Type 35 – A beautiful and wildly successful race car introduced in 1924 with over 1,000 victories to its name.
Renault 5 Turbo – Take a run-of-the-mill econobox, stick a monster motor where the back seat should be, connect it to the rear wheels and hold on for dear life.
Citroen C6 – Citroen rediscovered its design heritage in 2006 after 25 years of building bland cars. This car has real presence; too the bad public hasn’t discovered it and they only sell about one a week.
Monday, July 13, 2009
For more photos of both events, please click here.
In fact, all four title contenders this year seem like guys you'd want to sit down and have a beer with. (Although Button may prefer a Red Bull and Vodka, and I'm not sure Vettel is of drinking age yet.) Unlike the last four world champions (Schumacher, Raikonnen, Alonso and Hamilton), these guys seem to be pretty well grounded and recognize the importance of the fans. No matter who wins, I am sure they will be a good ambassador for the sport...it could sure use one.
Friday, July 10, 2009
On the local front, I will be attending the Micro and Mini Car Day at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline on Saturday with the kids and the 2CV. On Sunday, Gavin and I will be heading to Connecticut in the GTI for the CVA's New England Volkswagen Meet. I'll give you my thoughts on each on Monday.
Whatever you're up to this weekend, have a blast!
I’ve been thinking about these a lot after German Car Day at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum a few weeks ago. In attendance were a couple of the quintessential Q-ships – the mid-eighties Mercedes 190 2.3-16 and the early nineties Mercedes 500E. The former took the entry-level 190 sedan and dropped in a Cosworth 16-valve engine. The latter was hand-built by Porsche for Mercedes-Benz and had a wicked V8. Neither car had much that gave away their true potential other than badging and subtle flares and skirts. Both of these cars remain relatively affordable today (compared with their BMW counterparts from the era)…as long as you can find one that hasn’t had the snot driven out of it.
Some of my other favorite Q-ships include the Vauxhall-Lotus Carlton, Mitsubishi Galant VR-4, Volvo 850R, Ford Taurus V8 police package (not to be confused with the Taurus SHO). If you have other faves, please post them in the comments.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
When I strut my stuff in my VW GTI or my Emerson Fittipaldi 1972 World Champion t-shirts, or sport my awesome new Peugeot 908 HDI cap, I think I look pretty cool. (See photo above for proof of my coolness.) However, I am sure Beatrix Lestrange in her Azkaban shirt looks at me and thinks, “What a dork.” So the moral of the story is: judge not lest ye be judged. Wear your passion with pride whether it be automotive, literary or otherwise. (Unless of course you’re getting together with friends this weekend to play Quidditch, then you’re just a loser.)
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Anyway, the latest is that Ari Vatanen may run against Max Moseley for FIA president, which would be a welcome change. It won't do much to sort out the existing fracas. However, maybe Ari, a true racer (former world rally champion) with political skills (elected to the European Parliament from two different countries...how'd he do that?) can keep a better perspective on what motorsports is all about and avoid messes like this in the future.
Anyway, I said this post would be worth reading to the end. In doing a little research about Ari on the intertubes yesterday, I found this award winning video of him from the mid-eighties driving a Peugeot 406 T16 up Pikes Peak. Awesome stuff.
There aren't many ground rules...pretty much any car-related topic goes. My opinions are just that, so feel free to disagree. Comments are encouraged as long as they are civil, family-friendly and well-considered.
I should make readers aware of a few biases. My automotive tastes tend toward the European. So expect more postings about Formula One, new Citroens and Sebastian Loeb than ones about NASCAR, Corvettes and Danica Patrick. (However, pictures of Danica are always welcome).
So that's about it. My goal is to average one post a day, but don't hold me to that. I am open to collaborators, so drop me a line if you would like to be a contributor.
Technorati code: jhe6zam87u