Sep 22, 2011

Who's Better: You or Your Car?

Years ago ProFormance Racing School held an expensive, catered track event.  Kind of a blue chip drivers education an track day combines.  It was really expensive, but worth every penny.  I attended with my brother and his recently barn found Mustang SVO turbo. The attendees were group of wealthy enthusiasts so it included some really nice cars to admire: Ferraris, including a '85 GTO, various Porsches, Formula Fords, even a Lola showed up for a few 180+mph bursts down the track.  That Lola had a bumper sticker that said "I brake for Porsche's."  

Between sessions people would talk and listen to tales about each other's machines.  The Porsche C4 guy was pretty new to his late model Carrera having just bought it brand new, but he was experienced plenty at bragging.  He shot his mouth off about plans of getting licensed to race "door to door" after each session.  His car was fast for damn sure, but it didn't necessarily mean he was fast.   Then, at the top of turn 5-A, where the hill flattens out and the suspension unloads (like we were all taught about), he came in with way too much speed.  His tires weren't even touching the ground much when he attempted to turn .  You guessed it, even AWD and dynamic handling control cannot fight physics in the end. That Porsche spun off the track, rolling ass backwards into the trees. 

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo courtesy (not an image from the story at all, just a as backwards collision example).   This particular car is an RS America and is devoid of handling control or AWD.

The Porsche C4 guy didn't sound so cool talking on the phone with his wife while the tow truck loaded up his mangled Carrera.

My theory is: his car was good but he wasn't.  All that electronic stuff like traction control, ABS and dynamic stability control allowed him to increase his speed way beyond his ability.  Stupidity and arrogance took care of the rest.  Once he reached the limit of those electronic nannies, trouble came fast. The magnitude of his crash was proportional to his velocity which translated into a totaled car, I'm sure. Those computerized baby sitters prevented him from learning the "limit" until he found a new one! Understanding the limits of both himself and the Carrera without electronic assistance might have been a good idea.  They are made to work behind the scenes so you don't notice them but they are there, so don't get a big head.

I'm sure C4 guy might agree.

I can recall making quite an ass of myself during that event myelf also.
I had gleefully blown past this 288 Ferrari GTO and then immediately spun off the track.
 No damage, exept my pride  Later instructors would use me as an example of stupid moves.

Naturally, this leads to another important question… "What is your technology cut-off?  After all, not everyone wants a car that's smarter than them.

Sep 10, 2011

So, you’ve given up on your dreams.

You told yourself 5 years ago, you’d get a second  car, a sports car, and drive it at least on weekends, date night etc.  But where is it?   You never bought it.  Probably because it wouldn’t fit in that extra garage space.  The lawnmower, 3 mountain bikes and some soccer gear are there now.  Who needs that sports car anyway? 

So, as a car guy, you are pretty much a big disappointment.  That second car ain’t gonna happen.  You wouldn’t have time to drive it, and eventually your daughter would end up taking it to college.   Perhaps some of that dream could be realized every day?  How about you give up that new fancy SUV payment and take some action.

There’s still time. We can do something about your pathetic situation.

Volvo offered two attempts at regaining your manhood,  The Volvo V60R and the V70R.   AWD (like your SUV), turbo charged and available in manual transmission,.  You remember how to shift right?   Oh, and best of all, that stick shift means less people will borrow it for soccer practice.

Volvos reputation for safety and durability will also help you justify this ride to the family.  You’ll be a hero for protecting the environment and loosing the SUV.  Oh, and nothing says “I worry about the safely of my family” like a Volvo.  Who cares if the Volvo isn’t really all that reliable these days, and that repairs are expensive, by the time the wife learns all this, you’ll have it in the driveway.
This 1st generation Cadillac CTS-V has 400hp, huge Brembo brakes, track ready independent suspension and a 6 speed stick.   These 1st gen cars are quite affordable since they are sold in the shadow of the newer 556hp 2nd generation CTS-V.
That picture above could be your drive to work, after you drop the kids off at school.  Think you could limp along with a mere 400hp? Oh,and your parents will be proud you bought American.  Just don’t loan it to the kids for the prom or they’ll end up in prison.
The 2008 Saab Turbo X is a rig that will impress. Overpriced for its performance level when new, the price is good now and a performance sedan isn’t about beating your buddies at the track anyway.  It’s about driving passion and Saab still offers that for sure, if you can find one.
As refined as any luxury car can be, but more sporty in trim and spirit.   The Turbo X is all wheel drive too.  I’ve never seen one in person myself, but  then again I’ve never seen a Saab without its service engine light off either.

Last up.  The E39 M5 (1998–2003) perhaps the highest quality car of my list.   If you want to study up on the M5 I suggest wikipedia.  I'm basically skipping it here.  Even though BMW is one of my favorite makes, here in Seattle they are about as common as raincoats. Barrier BMW is just too damn close to Microsoft I guess.

So, today we've learned that playing Forza with your kids is not being a car guy.  Also, driving a "sport model" SUV is a cop out, and costs more than what I'm proposing here too. Each of these used cars will set you back less than $25,0000 so plenty will be left for the maintenance associated with an unwarranted car.   There are others, but it's my blog and compact sedans like the M3 and S4 are too small for that road trip to Disney. I haven't forgotten about Mitsubishi, Acura and Subaru either, just havn't forgiven them for Pearl Harbor. Rember, tomorrow is promised to no one and you could die tomorrow in a Civic giving driving lessons.  So turn off Forza, put down the Xbox controller and log into Autotrader. 

Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. 

What?  No dog and child seats?   Try my other blog below:

Sep 3, 2011

Caffeine and Gasoline


The first Saturday of every month Griot’s Garage, everyone’s favorite car guy catalog company, hosts a morning cruise-in at their flagship store.  Check it out: Caffeine & Gasoline™ - Griot's Garage  I figured I’d check it as well, and headed down there this morning.


This was my first visit and  I was pleasantly surprised.  After all, not much happens in Tacoma with Seattle constantly upstaging them.  Finding it was easy enough, I just followed the stream of cool cars.  Griot’s has set up this flagship store to be something like Mecca for cars.  Apparently every aspect of the facility is slanted toward motorsports entertainment.  Huge rooms for indoor showings, big TVs, lots of seating, even food.  The entire parking lot is concrete (instead of asphalt) and the  area is enormous.  I arrived early for me, at 8:30 am, and the parking lot was already half full.



I headed straight in for the free coffee of course, I’d hoped it was free anyway, since I didn’t stop at an ATM machine on my way.  The mother load!  Free coffee AND doughnuts!  Hell, I would have driven the 2 hours for free doughnuts alone.



The facility was fully staffed so you need not wait to talk to someone.  More importantly, they were not pestering anyone.  They just kept dutifully restocking the coffee and engaging those who requested assistance. CIMG1001

After getting my fill of 4 or 5 doughnuts and 3 cups of coffee,  (hey, it’s free) I headed into the Griot’s showroom for a quick look around.   I assumed they offered all the cool stuff you find in the catalog, and I was right.  Somehow, seeing it all in person was a bit more gratifying than in the catalog, which is excellent.  Perhaps it was the smell of racecars that enhanced the experience.   Perhaps it was the sound of racing from the flat screens through out the building.  Who knows, but it was perfect.


Griot’s has a large garage, which makes sense if your selling gear to garage dwellers.  Currently this Porsche was parked inside, I suspect other cars reside here when not displayed outdoors but it was clear outside so the Griot’s machines were littered about the grounds.


A stroll of the grounds showed that I’m not the only guy interested in German cars.


White and Red cars belong to brothers Craig and Lance who road tripped up for the event from Alma and Shelton if memory serves me correctly.  Apparently an hour-plus drive it not a big deal when you’ve been itching to drive anyway.  It sure didn’t matter to me.



When I buy one of these for my wife it won’t be an “S” model.  Sorry babe we’ll be settling for a “T” model.   Do like the white and chrome though. CIMG1055


American Iron was not in short supply either.  Mustangs and Corvettes dominated this weekend, but Mopar wasn’t far behind and not everything was late model cars either.  Frankly, every car was photo worthy so I got a little overwhelmed.


Transplant hemi.  I think you’ll see a trend here.  Just keep reading.


While several fancy Vettes were around this one looked pretty good to me.  I really liked this fellow’s choice of wheels and interior color.  Makes me want to go out and buy a Vette.   I think those wheels are the ones they offer on the ZR1. 


Can’t you just feel that wood wheel in your hands?  I think the owner’s name was Sally.



It’s nice to see German and American cars getting along.  After all the war’s been over for a long time now.



Just like Pizza, there is always room for some Italian.  Look closely at this pisan in the picture below.  Like every Alpha guy I know, they take track days very seriously.  The roll cage and head rest are artfully added to this car that does double duty as a street car apparently.  Windows also are tinted so you can't see the roll bar from outside.



Ferraris are hot, for sure.  Kinda like Angelina Joie, they are too sexy for my taste.  I’m still looking for a Ferrari that isn’t too loud.  Perhaps a Dino GT4, but this one will have to due for today, since it  was the only one in attendance.  Perhaps all the Ferraris went to Redmond’ Saturday event.  Remond town center is close to Microsoft, so you can imagine the exotics count is a tad better than Tacoma.


The flat spots on the tailpipes are from doing wheelies.  Before you get too impressed, remember it has a rear engine.  With nothing up front but maybe a radiator and what appears to be hipo Chevy mouse motor in back I should do wheelies.   I’m going to refrain from any further comment here and take an ondansetron tablet now. CIMG1039


This is a 914-8.  Propelled by a late model Corvette motor I suspect.   I’m no longer a fan of the countless dollars and hours that a good transplant can consume since I’ve been there.  That said, this was a masterful execution on an interesting idea.  Cheers!





Griot’s flagship store sure is a substantial facility that could be quite useful to local organizations that have an interest in motorsports.  I’m sure that was part of Griot’s master plan.   It is quite clear Griot’s takes being part of the automotive enthusiast community very seriously.  Well done!





Why the trackside photo?  Well, on my way into Tacoma I passed an unusual amount of Porsches going the opposite direction toward Bremerton.  Yes I notice cars going the opposite direction, who doesn’t?  My supernatural powers of deduction determined that the cooler I spotted in the back of a 996 must mean they are attending a track event.  Bremerton has a track!   So with my belly now full of doughnuts I headed to Bremerton Motor Speedway (or whatever they call it). Rumor has it another autocross event is brewing for October.


Helmet shopping ?   Oh yes.




Some parting pics for you.  Check out the Prelude.





That front plate is an illegal custom decal.  Love it!


I’ll be talking about David below, in a later blog.CIMG1033

1980 Prelude and this man need to be a Griot’s ad.  Look how clean this car is.CIMG1034

He’s looking for an OEM luggage rack for attaching this old case.  Check your attic and let me know.CIMG1037


I grew more hair on my chest just photographing this SRT.  Dodge and muscle are synonymous. 


I hope this picture is big enough for you to see how cool that BMW is. 



Did I mention they had free doughnuts?