Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hudson Hornet - a nearly invincible car in stock car racing

Remember the Pixar movie "Cars"? Most of the cars in this computer animated film were modeled after real cars, i.e. the Fiat 500, the Porsche, and the Hudson Hornet. The local judge was the Hudson Hornet character, a grumpy old cars having been highly successful in racing in its better days. And it's actually a true story. The Hudson Hornet proved to be almost invincible in stock car racing during the early 50ies. Despite this racing success, sales didn't really follow and the car has almost disappear from the landscape. Even more exciting is it therefore when you can actually see one racing up the hill in Switzerland (Europe), as it happened last weekend at the Steckborn-Eichhölzli classic car hillclimb 2010. It is an impressive car, even if you can't really spot the racing genes.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It IS possible - Lamborghini Sesto Elemento with less than 1000 kg

Lamborghini presents the Sesto Elemento, a concept car, in Paris. It's sort of a next version Gallardo, built with (probably expensive) lightweight materials. The result though is staggering: 990 kg, 570 hp, 0-100 km/h in 2.5 seconds. Well my key take away: Even with a heavy drivetrain and big engine you can get the weight of the car below 1'000 kg. So with more sensibility (smaller engine, only rear wheel drive, etc.) you actually can build a modern car below 800 to 900 kg. So, engineers, go to your drawing boards and build these modern sportscars that take less and driver better!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hillclimb Steckborn-Eichhölzli 2010 - driving the Devin-TR up the hill

The hillclimb Steckborn-Eichhölzli is organized only every third year, so this was the first event since 2007. While the first day was extremely wet and cold, the second day enjoyed drivers and spectators with sun and more acceptable temperatures. The "track" is 2900 m long and climbs 127m. Best times were below 1:10, which means an average speed of more than 160 km/h, but even 2:00 means more than 85 km/h average speed. Three more challenging curves and three chicanes limit higher speeds. How this feels, you can watch yourself in the video:

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ferrari SA Aperta - already sold out

Isn't that how you want it to have as a car manufacturer? You create a new car, and even before it's officially presented, it's already sold out. Exactly this is what happened with the Ferrari SA Apperta, the open version of the 599. It's a good looking car and with the limitation to 80 examples to be built it's clear that there's at least initial collector's value. Whether the money will keep the value, that's another question, but we will see. By the way the "SA" goes back to Sergio and Andrea Pininfarina, and the "80" comes from Pininfarina's 80st anniversary.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lotus reveals new Elite

So, finally, Lotus has revealed its new sportscar, called the Elite. It's a 2+2 coupé with an 8 cylinder engine and 500ish hp, 1650 kg heavy, with aluminum doors. It looks good, a bit like a mixture of Aston Martin and Honda.
So what's wrong? A lot!
It carries a famous name. The Lotus Elite was Lotus' first coupé, a revolutionary car with full fiberglass body (no chassis!) and 1200 ccm Climax engine. It was extremely handsome! It was successful in racing as well, winning the efficiency category in Le Mans for example. It was successful in the hand of many amateur racing driver of the late 50ies and early sixties. It's a legend! And now this. A car that is twice as heavy as the early Lotus Elise (MK1), almost as big as a 5-series BMW. For me, this is like another brand, i.e. Lotus (H) versus Lotus (L) - H standing for heavyweight, L standing for lightweight. It will be expensive as well, I fear. Not that I don't like the car as such, it would have been a good baby Aston or let's say a new baby Bristol. But for Lotus I would have wished something different, much lighter and more revolutionary. Too bad!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lancia Fulvia Zagato - neat coupé from the sixties

The Lancia Fulvia probably was one of the most successful Lancias over all. 320000 cars were built of which roughly 147000 were Coupés. The rarest of the breed is the Fulvia Sport with Zagato body, only 7120 cars were produced. It wasn't as successful in racing and rallyies as the Fulvia Coupé (HF and so on), but it certainly was a pretty car. Here's a picture from the sales leaflet, and it's really a wonderful foto, isn't it? Before the times of Photoshop the artist was able to capture the touch of history and tradition, combine it with a lifestyle ambiente and even include a bit of love and women's touch. Wonderful! They don't do pictures like this anymore, and they don't do cars like this anymore neither ...

Monday, September 20, 2010

TVR 2500M in time warped condition

We don't see many TVR 2500M in Europe, as most of the roughly 950 cars were exported to the US and Canada. Probably 400 of them still exist, a couple of handfuls in Europe. Here's one, that is almost a sensation. It has covered a bit more than 15000 miles during its 36 years and is almost untouched. It still stands on the original Pirelli Cinturato CN32 tires and everything is as it was when the car was imported into the USA. You see this very rarely, as most of these cars have been modified and "improved". The 2500M wasn't a particularly fast car with 106 HP from 2500 ccm. But it has a nice sound track and the engine is strong enough to make the car fun to drive. The car is for sale in Switzerland, but needs a bit of work to be concours. It should get into the hands of a real TVR fan and not end as race car or be modified or so. If you want more, just contact me.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Langwies-Arosa in the JWF Milano GT - Arosa ClassicCar Hillclimb 2010

It's certainly one of the more selective and challenging hillclimbs in Europe. 7.8 km long, 78 curves, 450 m up the hill and a 1.2 km downwards section. No wonder the local guys are usually faster than the ones travelling from abroad. How does it feel? The video showcases the five and a half minute drive with the JWF Milano GT.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Arosa ClassicCar 2010 - exciting cars and optimal conditions

This year's Arosa ClassicCar hillclimb enjoyed almost optimal (weather) conditions. Except for some rain on Friday for the training the sun was shining and temperatures were just right for classic cars. The Arosa hillclimb is one of the most selective and challenging ones I know off. 7.8 km long, 78 curves (though some say 76). The fastest cars, for example my favorite, the Porsche 906 (Carrera 6), run in approximately 4 minutes and 40 seconds up the hill. But even if you take 5:30 you are still doing an average of approximately 90 km/h, regardless of the three hairpins and many narrow bends. The event features regularity and competition classes. As usual most of the cars are in the regularity class, but even these pilots are trying to optimize their uphill time. As said Friday was rainy, resulting in quite some crashes during the training. My JWF Milano GT showed some misfires because of high humidity, but then got much better on Sunday finally. I actually managed to become 10th of more than 140 drivers on Saturday in regularity, by pure luck though. Sunday I successfully tried to improve my lines and speed up the hill, so didn't give anything on regularity any more. Interesting was the comparison of the JWF with the Ford Galaxie 500 starting just behind each other. The JWF almost fits into the trunk of the Galaxie, probably has only half (or less) the horsepower, but on the bendy road is clearly faster than the Falcon, no wonder, right.
Everybody I talked to was very happy and excited about the race and most probably will come back next year again. I am still in the process of compiling a little movie that I will post later on.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Forgotten cars - Technical Exponents TX Tripper

Don't say you remember this car! It's a Technical Exponent TX Tripper. Here's some background: Convertible, 4 seater, 635 kg, engines sourced from Ford and Triumph, for example with 129 HP from 1998 ccm, 3,7 m long, 1,45 m wide, 4-gear-transmission with overdrive, max speed 200 km/h, said to be in 6.6 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h. The factory said it would consume 7.8 to 10.8 liter of gasoline per 100 km. The name was certainly not suited for the German speaking market, as "Tripper" is a bad illness you don't want to be connected with. Also design wise it wasn't probably a beauty and so this British product disappeared at some point of time. But good to know that these cars existed should I once spot one.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Does time heal bad design?

When I recently was waiting for the bus (yes occasionally I do use public transport ...) the new Mercedes E Convertible in white drove by, just as pictured here. I thought, what an ugly car this is! Well, it's not really ugly, but it's not a beauty neither. I specifically dislike the back of the car. It just doesn't look right. Well, what I thought was, whether I will like this car maybe in 3, 5 or 20 years in the future. I must say, I can't remember a car design that I didn't like when it was new and appreciate now that it's old. I still don't like the Ford Scorpio and I still don't like most of the Peugeots of the 21th century. So, my answer to the question in the title is: No. But let's see what other people think ....

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hittnau Oldtimerclassic 2010 - airplanes steal cars the show

It's a wonderful concept! Bring classic cars, old motorcycles and vintage airplanes together in one event. This is what the guys in Hittnau are doing every two or three years. Today was the 7th Hittnau Oltimerclassic. And they came, especially the airplanes. It's rare that you can see such impressive airplanes land and start on a piece of grass. I am not an airplane expert, but I really liked what was shown. In my eyes the participants in the airplane category were much more impressive than the ones in the car or motorcycle discipline. There were a number of beautiful cars, but all in all, there's much more in Switzerland that what was shown in Hittnau! Same with the motorcycles. But anyway, it's cool to see them all pass by, on a simple race track using standard roads. There was a corso as well with a numerous almost forgotten cars. And the parking was an attraction as well, with many classics parked side by side. Whether CHF 30.- as entry fee is justified that's another question, I heard a lot of people complain. But if it helps the MSC Hittnau to organize this every second or third year, it's money well spent. Have a look at the pictures!

Friday, September 3, 2010

One that you can buy - TVR Griffith 500

Here's again a classic car that you actually can buy. You don't find a TVR Griffith often for sale on the market in Switzerland and Central Europe, here's one from 1998 with 49'000 km for CHF 54'000, approximately £ 28'000 or € 40'000.- (bad exchange rate, huh!). It's the model you want to have, as compared to the 430/400 it's vastly refined and the Rover 5 liter engine in its TVR Power tune is an all time great. The color scheme (blue, red interior) might not be your first preference though. TVR Griffith models can suffer from not being driven frequently, but with this mileage that should be okay. On the other side the larger bills come usually with 70'000+ kms. Mind that in the UK these cars go for £ 10'000 to 20'000, but in RHD disguise, which is not really an option for Central Europe. Importing one into Switzerland is very difficult and I wouldn't suggest to do this.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Do we still need something like "ueberhol-prestige"?

In German we have the word "Ueberhol-Prestige". Translated 1:1 this would mean "overtake prestige", it basically says that if you are driving a slow car on a highway and then a car approaches and you see it in the rear mirror, you move to the slower lane immediately to let the fast car, that comes with a lot of "ueberhol-prestige", pass you. In the 60ies this was quite important, because the standard car was able to get to 120 km per hour or so, while your Jaguar E-Type or Ferrari was able to go beyond 200 km/h. So it was much better if people that you wanted to overtake spotted early that you are driving a faster car. Today though everybody drives a fast car, even a family station wagon is able to get to a speed of 200 km/h or 250 km/h. If you really own a sportscar that is substantially faster you rarely can enjoy it, be it because of speeding limits or because of heavy traffic at all times. So, in that sense, "ueberhol-prestige" is something that was important in the past and that car designers tried to embed into the shape and face of the car.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Which is the best 911 or the best TVR?

Very fashionable topics for articles in car magazines seem to be "best of" of specific car marques or even series produced. Octane is doing exactly that in its new issue. They ask, what the best Porsche 911 is and also drive every TVR. That's certainly worthwhile to read, even if you don't agree with the findings. Obviously the Octane editor likes the Porsche 993, and I agree that it's a great car. They also prefer modern TVRs (like the Griffith or the Sag), but appreciate the older cars as well. So it's something for everybody. I certainly appreciate the fact that the covered TVR on so many pages, being a TVR addict myself!