Tag Archives: Driving

Beautiful Models Without Sexy-Bits

A number of beautiful models have been rolling around on the red carpet at shows around the world for a few months now.  Many, many photos have been snapped up close, showing the model’s most intricate parts.  All types of people line up to see each model’s offerings, lusting after the curves and drooling over the model’s body.  People walk around with towels, rubbing the models’ bodies to rid them of blemishes and bodily fluids.  The smell of wax and leather fills the air as people line up, one after the other for the opportunity to touch and feel the model’s interior.  I know what you’re thinking and you’d be wrong.  These shows have nothing to do with the adult film awards and they’re not set in the San Fernando Valley.  You don’t have to take an STD screen to go to the shows and participate.  Some of these models have bigger brains than your typical porn-star, and while some of them are just as dangerous as a sultry young vixen, most of these models are far more interesting to look at.  They’d also be more interesting to take for a spin, although doing that may cost you the same amount (or more) as a drug induced party spent “winning” with Charlie Sheen.

If you’re a car nut, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Whether you’re in Paris, Geneva or Detroit, you’ve had the opportunity to behold some of the most wonderful pieces of engineering to ever exist.  You’ve also, no doubt, been subjected to truly terrible pieces that are reserved for people so boring that they have nothing for which to live and look forward to dying because it will at least give them something to do.  Toyota, I’m looking at your stupid f***ing Prius line.  You’re ruining the joy of driving for normal people by giving the weirdos that live in yurts and make their clothes out of leaves something to drive.  Stop it.

On the up-side:  Alfa stole the show with the 3C concept car in Geneva.

Alfa Romeo 3C Concept

This isn’t really a surprise though, because Alfa’s been creating beautiful cars for quite a while (they’re known for it).  It’s rumored that Alfa will be bringing it to North America and more importantly, the States.  This fact makes my gentleman’s area feel a bit fizzy, if you know what I mean.

Not to be out done, a couple other Italian automakers have presented their new offerings…

…Lamborghini, an auto maker renown for creating cars full of madness and testosterone has presented their all new Aventador.

New Lambo

I’ll spare you the facts of the car, as there are plenty of other places for you to research its 0-60 time or it’s carbon fiber body. But because it’s the newest raging bull, it’s slightly crazier than anything offered previously.

…And Ferrari brought out madness of their own.  They made an all wheel drive machine capable of getting the kids to school and you to work in the same time as it takes a Prius owner to show their idiocy by explaining why everyone should live in yurts and drive terrible cars.  Ferrari’s new ride is called the FF.  Look it up and behold the beauty of Ferrari’s newest creation.  I’m pretty sure they stole the front from the 458 Italia.   I think it’s an answer to Porsche’s Panamera.

Ferrari FF: Create your own!

Sadly though, I didn’t get to go to Geneva’s Auto Show.  That would have cost me an arm and a leg, and I couldn’t afford to take the time off work.  Nor was I in Detroit for the show there.  I am in Kansas City.  So, naturally, I went to the Auto Show here at Bartle Hall.  It didn’t have Ferrari or Alfa or Lambo.  It was smaller.  It was full of cars that people can actually afford.  There were only two supercars.  Nonetheless, it was a good time.  And we did see some good-looking models.  The women presenting them weren’t so bad either.

Of course, Ford had their new Global line to show.  The Fiesta and the Focus were present, as was the Fusion in all it’s forms.  While these cars were slightly interesting, there was no mention of the Focus ST (and, not surprisingly, the RS) or Ford Racing in the rally bred lines.  (I was hoping to see a rally version of the new Fiesta).  So I was bored.  Until I saw the Boss.

Laguna Seca Mustang

It’s exciting to see a car that’s actually been around the Laguna Seca race track.  It’s even more exciting to see it up close.  The most exciting thing of all:  You can order one for yourself.

Now, I don’t typically like trucks.  I’m not a farmer or a rancher and I don’t really have any use for something that can haul a Prius owner’s yurt.  I do however, see the reasoning for owning something called the Ford Raptor.  This thing is huge.  It’s got a nice, big engine, and it’s built for off-road purposes.

Ford Raptor's Engine

This means you can run over Prius owners, their stupid cars and, if you can vault high enough using the incline of their cars, their yurts.  Top Gear America reviewed the Hennessey-upgraded Veloci-Raptor this past season.

Suspension so huge, Audrey's Head Fits in the wheel. Prius Owners: Bring it on.

If you had that, you could destroy the lives of every Prius owner in the world in record time.  Anyone can see that owning this monster would be great fun.  Someone should just gift me one and then give me world-wide diplomatic immunity.  I promise I’d make the world a better place.

It’s no secret that Ford is one of the few car companies that has had positive earnings reports, but they have had a drain on those earnings:  Lincoln. Lincoln has been dragging Ford down, year over year.  They just haven’t been able to offer the same quality as BMW, Mercedes or Audi.  These new Lincolns aim to change that.

With Ford noticeably increasing the quality of their offerings, I wouldn’t be too surprised to find that the increased quality extends to Lincoln as well.  Time (and reviews) will tell.

It’s rare that I get stupidly giddy around cars.  Most of them aren’t anything too special, so I don’t become annoyingly excited about them.  However; There were two at the Kansas City Auto show that made me feel rather childish:

The first was the new Mercedes SLS.  Based upon the fabled 300 SL Mercedes gull-wing, the SLS is pretty cool.

Merc SLS

At $250k, it better be.  It’s fast.  Very fast.  It sounds spectacular.  And it’s one of the two cars that were at the Kansas City Auto show that most people can’t afford.  This means it was exciting.  Of course it was roped off, but they were allowing people to sit inside the passenger side.  I for one, wasn’t that interested in being a passenger in this car, so I opted to drool over the engine instead.

There is a problem with showing cars like this.  They make the average person feel inadequate, as they’ll most likely never be able to afford them.

But I also think that’s the reason people are drawn to them.  Take the Bugatti Veyron or the Shelby Ultimate Areo, for example.  Just living in the same world as these cars makes me feel better.  I may never own one.  I may never even sit in one.  But I like waking up every morning and knowing that they exist.

Parked next to the Mercedes SLS was the Mercedes SL300 gull-wing.  At $500,000, this was the most expensive production car shown at the Kansas City Auto show.  It was also beautiful.

This car held records for years before being beaten on the race track.  This car also inspired multiple auto designers to up the ante and work to create the wonderful speed demons available today.  I can’t say this car “started it all”, but it is responsible, in part, for the creation of Merc’s in-house tuning firm, AMG. And that, if nothing else, makes this car absolutely incredible.

There were a number of cars that were available to sit in and dream about.  Mercedes showing of their “normal” production cars was quite large.  Aristocrat Motors of Kansas City provided the Mercs, Porsches, Maseratis and Land Rovers.

I was surprised by their Porsche choices though.  Of course they brought the Panamera and the Cayman.  They had a couple of options for the Cayenne.  There was a Targa.  And all this is well and good, but I had to ask:  Did they forget something? Where’s the 911 Turbo?

Because it was the Kansas City Auto show, I wasn’t surprised that Aston Martins weren’t featured.  Jags were.  Recently, I haven’t really enjoyed the look of Jaguar’s cars.  Their ride seems fine, they supposedly don’t suck to drive, but I don’t really want an ugly car.  These concerns went out the window when I looked upon Jag’s XK-R. If you can’t afford an Aston, buy this.  It’s almost as pretty.

Sitting in the car, you wouldn’t think you were in a Jag.  It didn’t feel huge.  It felt small.  It felt that it could be nimble. It felt like I could toss it around, weaving between cars on the highway.  And because it’s got a supercharged engine, it’ll be quick too.  This means it’s fun to drive, and because it’s not ugly,   you won’t be embarrassed when you receive a picture of yourself speeding from your local law enforcement agency.

Speaking of speeding, I mentioned that Maseratis were present.  The  Quattroporte was there (that’s the one Auds wants, because it’s fast but can also pass for a family car).  I like the name.  Quattroporte.  That’s the benefit that Italian auto makers have over the English-speaking companies.  Simple words just sound better:  Quattroporte.  Sounds spectacular.  In reality though, it means Fourdoors.  Now you know why they kept the Italian.

The Maserati GT was also there.  I was surprised to see the Gran Turismo, since it is in the same class as Aston Martin.  Of course, because it’s a $200k car, the doors were locked.  I have no shots of its interior.  Check out Topgear.com if you’d like to see more.

Between Maserati and Jaguar, I’d take the Maserati.  This is because the world-famous Pininfarina design firm is responsible for its Italian beauty and because it’s rare.  There exist two positive things that come from its rarity: 1.) I’d be less likely to see someone else driving the same car.  2.) Because it’s so rare, you won’t be labeled a twat for driving one.  According to all the reviews, Maserati’s aren’t really better than Jags or BMW’s.  Supposedly, the buttons are in all the wrong positions and the gear box has historically left much to be desired.  They are rare, however and their exhaust note is just as beautiful as the car.  And Ferrari has had its hand in their creation.  That makes them wonderful.

Hyundai and Kia both had pretty good showings. I’m surprised I’m saying this, but the Hyundai Genesis is a good looking coupe.  It’s got ample horsepower and a big brake kit in the form of Brembos. I’m interested, and I’d like a turbo-charged one for a test-drive, please.  Thank you.

Kia’s Optima was present in all it’s forms, and I must say that when I sat inside, I was pleasantly surprised.  It didn’t feel like a tin box at all, but rather, a solidly built car.

These two South Korean car companies are stepping up their game, and I’m glad to see it.  They know what American drivers want in their econo-boxes.  The first thing they noticed is that we Americans like to have reliability in our cars (which is why Alfa Romeo didn’t survive).  So they started standing behind their products with the best warranties on the market.  Then they found out that we cared about the interior of the car, so they began offering luxury options at a fraction of the price that you’d pay the “other guys”.  Finally they learned we want something “fun to drive”.  So they stiffened suspensions and began offering turbocharged, inter-cooled cars.  And now that South Korea is delivering just what America ordered, Honda and Toyota better look to create something interesting for a change.

Honda:  You’ve built a car company based upon one of the best, most reliable racing engines in all the world.  In the past, every single other car company scrambled to come up with an engine as good as your VTEC engine, yet the best you can come up with in recent years is the good but tired S2000 and a different looking but exactly same Accord?  This year’s Civic SI is SLOWER than the last model.  And it doesn’t handle as well.  And it costs more.  Epic fail.

And Toyota:  Your cars are boring.  All of them.  Except for your SUV’s, which are well-built and thoughtful.  General rule:  if it has a Toyota logo, it makes me yawn.  Or a Lexus logo, for that matter.  The LFA doesn’t count (it’s a supercar) and for that same amount of money, I’d have a 458 Italia anyway.  Your “BMW M3 killer”, the IS-F, looks good but it won’t actually kill an M3.  And you’re not fooling anyone:  We know that the top two tail-pipes are fake and aren’t connected to anything.  Hell, the best thing to come out of Toyota recently is engine for Lotus’ newest offering, the Evora.  But you can’t take credit for that car though.  It’s designed and assembled in Britain, which means that it has soul, which cannot be said about the Corolla.

Are you two even trying any more?  South Korea’s got you in her sights and she just might lap you.

Moving on…

I was happy to see a very good selection of Audi’s line.  No R8’s, sorry.  But they did have the newest TT.  And almost the entire A line.  And a couple Q’s.

The newest TT is so much more a sports car than the old one.  It handles correctly.  It no longer looks so much like a smashed VW Beetle, and it’s fast.  But it’s pretty expensive… and while you can get it in the “S” type, I’d have a used Porsche instead.

The Audi that really caught my eye was the A5 Coupe. And that’s a lie.  I don’t want an A5.  I want the S5.  But it’s basically the same car… except the S5 has the power I want need.

The car doesn’t feel big (there’s a trend here: I don’t like big cars).  The steering wheel felt plush but nimble in my fingers, and it had a nicely moving gearbox.

Because it’s a A5 (S5), there’s enough room for passengers and groceries, the trunk offers a good amount of space and it is equipped with Audi’s AWD system.  That AWD would’ve been nice to have this past winter.  I’ll take one, with a proper manual gear box in black, please.

GM was present as well, showing every car they’ve ever made.  They took up one whole side of Bartle Hall, with their Caddies, Chevys, GM trucks and Vans and the car built for golfers and old people:  Buick.

I think they should make Buicks illegal.  They’re big, they’re ugly, and they’re an un-addressed danger on our roads today.  I know that it’s dangerous to drive drunk or buzzed.  I know that it’s stupid to drive while texting.  But what about DWOs:  Driving while old?  A drunk teenager who is texting while driving will still have a better reaction time than a sober one-thousand year old.  Just this past week, I was driving in the left lane with a Buick ahead of me in the right lane.  With no blinker or warning whatsoever, the Buick driver suddenly decided that a left-hand turn from the right-most lane was a good idea.  Luckily, I know that there are only two types of people in the world who drive Buicks:  People who can’t afford to drive something else, and old people who shouldn’t be driving but are because their children don’t have the required gentleman’s apples to take away their aged parent’s car keys.  Because I know this, I’m very careful around Buicks, and I knew enough to give this old person the “right of way”  which is a nice way of saying I slammed on my breaks, coming to a stop from 45 mph.  Thank God the lady behind me wasn’t a tail-gater or I would’ve had a Chevy Yukon up my rear end.  I would have honked, but the person driving the Buick wouldn’t have heard me.  Needless to say, neither Audrey nor I wanted spend much time looking at the Buicks.  The smell of imminent death and nursing homes was just too much.

Chevy was pushing their new Volt, which reminds me of the color grey.  In fact, Chevy’s entire line reminds me of a cloudy day.  Sure the new Camaro looks good, and yes, they’ve finally come out with the SS version, but I’m generally not a fan of muscle cars… which is why I have nothing to say about the Corvette.  I know just about nothing about it, and I don’t care to.  I think they had a blue one and a red one.

Chrysler’s showing was pretty grey as well, but they didn’t really have much to show.  There was the typical 300 there, and the new 200, which is basically just a smaller 300.  (About 100 smaller, actually.)  When the styling first came out, the 300 was a pretty exciting looking car:  all G’ed up and S***.  But eventually one realizes that the car drives like rubbish and that being a gangster means you’ll need to begin hitting women and dealing cocaine.  I, for one, have no interest in becoming a “baby-daddy”, nor do I want to meet an untimely end while doing a drive-by.  Therefore, we moved on.

I was stupidly excited to see Fiat’s 500.  They had three to explore.  This little car makes me happy.  Look at it.  It just wants you to smile.  And, according to the multiple reviews available, it will make you smile.  The little Cinquecento is good.  It handles well, it rides well, and while it’s inexpensive, it doesn’t feel “cheap”.  Sounds like Fiat got it right with this one.  The most exciting thing is this:  if the little 500 sells well here in North America, Fiat might bring us Alfa.  As of right now, there are three options:  Lounge, Sport, and Pop.  Fans of manual transmissions will want to avoid the Lounge, as it’s Automatic only.  I’d go for the Sport version, myself, if I didn’t know that we’ll be getting the Abarth version next year.  I’ll wait.

So, while Ferrari, Lambo, Bugatti and Shelby were missing from the Kansas City Auto show, there were plenty of autos over which this car-nut could drool, and plenty of trash products to scorn.  (Picture the Prius Stretched Limo).

While the Auto industry has had its troubles the past couple years, I see a turn-around in the future.  We’ve already seen the tip:  Ford increasing build quality, GM pushing the hyper-miles, Jaguars becoming beautiful again, good warranties coming from companies NOT based in South Korea, and Chrysler joining forces with Fiat.  This next decade is going to be interesting to say the least.  I’ll be watching closely.  I think we’ll see some great cars and some very strange bed-fellows.

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STFU, Nike.

At one point in the movie Empire Records, Lucas states, “I do not regret the things I have done, only the things I have failed to do”.

The other night I thought about this quote and how it applies to my life.  I suppose it’s normal to have a few “dark nights of the soul” and that through these “dark nights”, one can reflect inward and try to objectively understand from whence they came and observe the forward path they are to follow.  It also helps to have some sort of support in doing so.

And I do.  My fiancée is one of those people who is capable of speaking harsh truths in a gentle way.  So when I voiced my thoughts to her regarding “that which I’ve failed to do”, she asked me, with a puzzled look on her face, “So why don’t you just do it?”

In What About Bob?, there is a rather humorous scene regarding baby steps.  The point is that baby steps are just as important, if not more important than the “big picture”, as they’ll help to keep one on track toward one’s goals.  Audrey (my Fiancée), being the detail-oriented one in the relationship, told me to make a list of all that I’d like to do with my life, complete with the baby steps necessary to complete my goals.  The next step then, would be to do them.

Duh.  If it really were THAT easy.  And I suppose that it really is.  The only thing making goals hard to accomplish are the people who are trying to accomplish those goals.  Aside from the “self-talk” that occurs (which one can do something about by telling themselves to STFU), there really isn’t much standing in one’s way.

Sure, there will be the outside naysayers.  Be they family, friends, acquaintances or strangers, one doesn’t need to listen to them or be associated with them if they do nothing but demolish the dreams of the individual.

Sometimes one needs to take chances in order to complete one’s goals.  The chances might be risky.  Very risky in fact, if one’s goals include breaking the world speed record (Richard Hammond of Top Gear) or doing something incredibly stupid, like moving to Canada and living with Grizzly bears (Grizzly Man) to prove that Grizzly Bears are not man killers.  (By the way, they are).

My goals don’t involve testing the limits of drag racers equipped with jet engines (but that would be fun) or testing the food choices of wild animals, but certainly there exist risks that need to be addressed prior to taking the steps necessary to accomplish my goals and I realize that the effects of these risks will not only impact my life, but Audrey’s life as well, for better or worse.

And that, I think, is what is holding me back.  Well, that and fear.

To be honest, I don’t think that it’s fear of personal failure.  A wise man once said that one only fails when they give up, and I refuse to accept anything less than success in obtaining my goals.   I just don’t want to make life harder for Audrey and my future family than it needs to be, and my the goals I have set for myself are none too simple.  Let’s just say that I don’t set the bar too low and I don’t make things easy for myself.

One of the goals is to adventure.  To disappear for a while, maybe across the pond.  Pick up a language or two, whilst traveling and “obtaining some culture”.  To do so though, would I have to abandon the life I’ve set up here?  Certainly, I’d have to accept the unknown.  And I would have to ask Auds to do the same.  This then, brings me to some questions.  Is this fair to Audrey?  Would she be willing to do so?

Both answers (I know because I have asked) are yes.  (And, “Hurry up and do it, because I’ve set some goals on the back burner so yours can be accomplished.”)  But I still feel some consternation.

Fear of the unknown is, to me, one of the most annoying things in the world.  It’s annoying because there’s not really anything one can do about it.  It’s a problem that needs to be solved, but there’s nothing to fix.  It’s just there, silently prodding me like an invisible toddler who wants me to get out of bed before the sun comes up.  You can try to ignore it, but it’ll just prod harder.

And just picking up and leaving leaves a lot of unknowns.  There’s no algebraic equation to solve them either.  We’d be into calculus, which is not a subject I enjoyed very much.  I’ll just need to do it, and take the consequences in stride.  Accept them for what they are, and move on… which is what I normally do anyway.

The next step for that goal, then, would be to save a bit of money, buy some plane tickets and say Tschüss to american society for a while.  The question that action leaves me with then, is “when”.

That brings me to another couple of goals, because I’ll need a complete timeline, detailing the “due dates”, and organizing them in a manageable fashion.

As one can tell from my prior post, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life driving an econobox.  I want a supercar (even better: hypercar) for my daily driver.  That’s expensive.  (And maybe a bit childish, I admit– though I don’t care.)  I’m not just talking about just the initial purchase of $150k-$1.5mm.  I’m talking about the residuals: insurance on these things is higher than the astronomical maintenance costs.  Gas would become quite expensive too, especially when considering the car for use as a daily driver.  I really would pass everything except a gas station.

This means I’ll need a lot of money and a position at a job that pays better than the one I currently have.  That position will also have to be incredibly flexible, allowing me to travel the world while making money.  Sounds like a very well paid travel writer to me.  Or one better:  a job with Top Gear, driving stupidly fast and fun cars in order to write reviews for their magazine and website (pipe dreams…).  That way, I wouldn’t have to worry about the extraordinary costs of the cars.  I’d drive them for the day, give them back when the gas gauge reads empty and write about the exhilarating experience, detailing what it’s like to drive a car most people will never sit inside or even see in real life.  And I’d be paid for it.

Certainly, there are other goals I’ve got set for myself, but traveling the world, being paid to drive supercars in all types of exotic locales is the main one.  Whether it’s really a pipe dream or not, I don’t know.  I’ll just go about it the Nike way and find out.

Any tips, in the mean time, would be appreciated.

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