The Otherworldly Tesla Model S Blows Away the Competition (in Terms of Pricing and Performance…)!

Elon Musk’s Space-X commerical rocket just successfully docked with the International Space Station earlier this month.  This means that (hopefully) we will be able to go into space and see the wonders of the Universe right before our eyes.  Back here on Earth, there is a car that will make us feel like astronauts of our own – the Tesla Model S.

The Model S (should stand for Model Superb) starts at just under $97,000, and will take you all the way up to $110,000 before you start clicking option boxes!  But, it’s worth it.  The car will catapult you to 60 mph in a seemingly slow 5.6 seconds , and take you an amazing 300 MILES per charge!  That makes the 100-mile range of the Nissan LEAF seem like absolutely NOTHING (which it is…)!

As of December 2012, Tesla will be finished installing “Supercharger” charging units by the roadside for the Model S, upcoming Model X, and current Roadster.  These Superchargers will put 150 miles of charge into the depleted batteries in just 1/2 an hour!  But, they’ll only be between key cities.  The Model S will accelerate a ’69 Pontiac GTO Judge with the Ram Air IV package from 60 mph to 80 mph.  That’s really fast.  “Luxury” models stop going any faster than 110 mph, but a “Performance” model will take you all the way to 130 blistering mph!

The Tesla Model S may have some bad rear seat lateral support, comfort and space, but sometimes stuff like that just can’t be helped.  But, the slingshot-like performance, standard equipment levels, and styling that should send Fisker Automotive (the one and only competitor to the Model S as of now) back to the drawing board.  If you have the money, want to look cool drag racing a Ford Mustang GT (which you should beat), and have four (or six with the optional rear-facing seat for kids) slack-jawed passengers, I suggest buying this car while it lasts.  If you don’t have $96,500, go for the Fisker Karma, which goes for just a tad over $83,000.  But, you won’t look as cool as you would in a Model S, would you?

Now, I’ve got to answer possibly the hardest question that I’ve ever faced:  IS the Tesla Model S the best car in the world?  My answer:  No.  That honor goes to the Pagani Huayra.   However, the Tesla Model S is probably the third or fourth best.  But, it is the best ELECTRIC car built.  Now I’ve REALLY got to start getting PAID for all the yard work I do, Mom!

The 2013 Pagani Huayra is Finally Coming to the U.S. by Year’s End!

For those fans of the Pagani Huayra, (namely me), I am very, very, very happy to report that the $1.66 Million Pagani Huayra is FINALLY coming to the U.S. (legally!).  The first U.S. spec car for the very first U.S. customer in the should be in my driveway by May 2013 at the latest 🙂  I’ve heard that nailing it in the Huayra is like going full-power in an SR-71 (Motor Trend Editor-in-Chief Angus MacKenzie compared it to putting the afterburners on in an F-15 [I’m all for speed and handling…]).

Huayra’s are meant to be driven.  Fast.  Very fast.  The Huayra is such a safe car that it makes a Volvo S60 with every single safety option checked, look about as safe as a unicycle!  Pagani has spent nearly $900,00 (NOT $90,000!) in developing a unique fuel system that helps eliminate the scary threat of fires in the rare event of a crash.  Plus, Pagani is currently developing a sport + mode that will lower the car 10mm, switch off ABS, stability control, AND eliminate the Auto Upshift that currently happens when you are in Comfort Mode or Sport Mode.  This will allow the driver more traction/control at higher speeds.  🙂

The primary reason the Huayra wasn’t imported  in to the U.S. had to do with airbags. The car had the wrong type of one-stage airbags (now it’s got two-stage airbags).  That meant that in the event of a crash, the airbags wouldn’t completely deploy.  Oops.  Well, all the kinks are being ironed out and I can’t wait to start driving mine!

If you haven’t read my previous post on Huayra’s, Horacio Pagani, and other interesting Pagani vehicles, I strongly recommend your reading my post on Horacio Pagani:  https://unmuffled.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/horacio-pagani-yet-another-great-car-guy/

Oh, and the video for the Pagani Huayra on their website is extraordinary and deserves it’s own Grammy award!  The cinematography is enough to make you sell all your personal belongings and drive your brand-new Huayra throughout Argentina!  If you wait a couple of years, I’ll do it with you!…http://www.pagani.com/huayra/default.aspx

Note: Please note this momentous event is being categorized by me under ‘world news’, and ‘gifts for the car enthusiast’.  Note my shameless hints…..

At Least Three Reasons Why YOU Need a New Car!

The 2012 new (and used) car market has picked up 10% since February.  Auto industry bigwigs are (correctly) thinking that you’ll need a new car pretty soon.  Pent up demand and all.  Though the economy may not be allowing you to get a new Lamborghini Gallardo, it hopefully does allow you to get a brand-new car that fits your needs and budget.

Because of so much demand that had been held back for a few years, Honda has redesigned their Civic compact, added a natural gas-burning engine to it, and introduced a redesigned Civic Hybrid and put out a new Civic model called the HF.  Toyota has redesigned their hum-drum Yaris subcompact to a point where it actually GIVES buyers at least one legitimate reason to buy it.  They have also introduced a new Pruis subcompact.  But, those pale in comparison to the fact that Detroit is making green, fun-to-drive, and dead-on reliable iron.

Anybody needing a new set of swanky wheels who wants to travel to Chicago in September should check out the various automakers’ vehicles.  Some good examples include the most fuel-efficient, lightest Cadillac ever; the ATS, the swanky 2013 Dodge Dart which has aggressive pricing starting at an amazing $16,000, and also happens to have a glove box designed to hold an iPad (any generation…), and the diesel VW Beetle convertible!

Though GM may be the largest U.S. automaker, Ford is generating enough buzz to give a bee a sore throat.  Why all the buzz, you might ask?  Well, the 2013 Fusion is going to be a sleek, midsize family sedan that would make Captain Kirk abandon ship in favor of it!  It comes in a conventional gas engine, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid versions.  Yet, with all the green-machines, there’s still room for a timeless muscle car:  The Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 will debut there with an all-new supercharged 5.8 liter V8 pumping out 650 horsepower, and close to 700 lb-ft of torque.  Oh, and did I mention that it has a speed of over 200 MPH?!!  VROOM!  That should be just enough to get all the other American automakers getting serious…

So start shopping!

Such An Amazing Old Car Collection on Vancouver Island!

Just about any human could dream of owning any one of these cars that Ted and Sharon Forbes of Sooke, B.C. (the tip of Vancouver Island) own.

Ted has restored every single car that you see in these mere photos!  

This lovely ’56 Bird has been owned by Ted and Sharon since the 1970’s, and looks lovely in it’s “banana cream yellow!”

This extremely amazing 1956 Ford Skyliner was restored way back in 1988 by Ted.  It is all original with every power option.  It came from the Indian reservation on Vancouver Island.  Lovely!

This beautiful 1956 Mercury Crown Meteor is lovely looking in it’s black/red exterior/white interior combo.  It is all power with all accessories except “air.”  It was restored twenty-two years ago in 1990.  After the restoration, it was driven to Ocean Shores, Washington, USA for their first ownership drive.

This swoopy 1955 Mercury Meteor Convertible took twenty-eight years of constant pestering on Sharon’s part to let the original owner sell it to Ted.  It is extremely rare.  Out of 201 cars built, only about eight remain.  A good part of this car’s life was spent in Winnipeg.  Just to prove how rare this car is, FoMoCo Times has an article on this car!

“Juicy Fruit” has taken Ted and Sharon all the way from Vancouver Island to Rockin’ Red Deer in Alberta, Canada to Hot August Nights in Reno, USA, and many other trips.  Meteors used some Mercury colors for 1956.  Juicy Fruit is painted Grove Green and Saffron Yellow.  She also has that awesome black lightning blot so popular in the Jet Age. She is all full power accessories except “air.”

This dream-worthy 1956 Mercury M-100 pickup is real!  Since 1978, Ted and Sharon have driven this truck all over the place.  They have gone from California to Manitoba to Sturgis, and many other places without ever missing a single beat.  Around 12 years ago, a 302 crate engine, an AOD, and a Aspen suspension were added to the truck to make it drive even better.  Lovely.

This amazing 1956 Mercury Montclair Convertible is London Grey and Persimmon.  Ted found what was left of it in the Spokane area, restored it, and then drove it to the 1996 Hot August Nights in Reno, Nevada.  She has full power, and is loaded to the gills with every single accessory available for 1956 Mercury Montclair’s.

This numbers-matching 1955 Mercury Convertible has only 530 miles since the restoration!  Amazing!  Back in 1989, Ted tow-barred this car all the way from Southern California behind his little Ford 302 box van.  It was so ugly that nobody ever gave him the thumbs-up!  Now, it is perfectly restored and has the optional Canadian colors:  Sunset Coral with the matching Tapestry Weave interior.  It has full power, accessory steering wheel, and a metric speedometer!  VROOM!

This shiny 1958 Pontiac Parisienne Convertible took six MONTHS of welding time from Ted to help get it into the condition that it is in right now!  It is full power with the 348 engine, bucket seats, and just about every factory and dealer option available for 1958 Pontiac’s!  Ted and Sharon drove it to the 2004 Hot August Nights where they won the shown trophy!  I want to buy it!

This sweet 1959 Oldsmobile Convertible was bought by Ted at Don Wheaton’s Auto Dealer way back in 1968.  Back then, Ted was a kid working in the oilfields.  Ted and Sharon took their honeymoon in this car in 1969!  When Ted and Sharon went overseas to work in the oilfields for 25 years, this car was stored in Ted’s barn in Manitoba for that period of time.  With 30,000 miles showing on the odometer, this car has many, many more miles of enjoyment to go!  It has bucket seats.  Plus, only a handful of these cars were built in Canada.  This one was!

The good ‘ol 1964 Ford Park Lane Convertible has 78,000 miles on it, rare 15″ wheels, a Super Marauder engine, bucket seats, and lovely paint.  Ted has cast iron headers and tri-power carbs just itching for a drag race!  Now that’s what I call a SLEEPER!

Ted looked for one of these 1958 Mercury Convertibles for about ten years before buying this one from John Fowlie in California.  Ted and Sharon restored it with a HUGE 430 CI engine, memory seats, and many other BIG parts!  Everything about her is big!

When Ted found this lovely 1959 Chevy Impala Convertible, it was a rust bucket folded up on a pallet with no powertrain or interior.  Originally, it was a black Canadian-built Impala.  Ted has since put in a 1995 Lt-1 Corvette engine and a 700R4 transmission.  Ted hopes that when the car is finished, it will look like it just came out of the factory doors.  Ted has already put on a full Continental kit, fender skirts, and other must-haves for a cool old boulevard cruiser.  Presently, it is about 70% finished, but you may see it next spring at Hot August Nights…

This beautiful 1959 Edsel has yet again been meticulously restored by Ted Forbes, and has all the full power options.  It is also the latest addition to the Mountaintop collection.  Way to go, Ted!

What’s Up With Ferrari’s and Dragon Tattoos?

The title may sound weird, and it does NOT refer to the Steig Larson book!  Instead, it is referring to the rapidly growing Chinese car market.  Automakers are rushing to sell their best to the rapidly growing number of rich Chinese people.

From the Ford Model T of 1908 to the second-generation Honda Fit of 2008, America enjoyed a HUGE boom of cars.  America held more than just the impressive title of the most cars sold in a year (17 MILLION light-duty vehicles at it’s peak in 2005!), but we were also unrivaled in being a global tastemaker of cars.  Our humble beginnings started with the revolutionary Ford Model T,  progressed to the 1959 Cadillacs with the tail fins that acted as big nuisances when going around corners, to the 1996 GMC Yukon/Chevy Tahoe SUVs that force you to watch the gas gauge very carefully, to the gigantic 22-inch wheels found on the 2009 Cadillac Escalade , and finally to the simply amazing Chevrolet Volt.  We were truly leaders in technology, looks, utility, and so much else.

Over the years foreign automakers seduced us with their big, fast Porsche Cayenne, strangely fun Honda Ridgeline, and the first Ferrari to ever have stock cupholders; the Ferrari 612 Scagliette.  They won our hearts, but none of them could keep our souls for long…  Now the U.S. is the shrinking dragon in the room as we make room for the rapidly growing Chinese dragon.  In 2009, China was the largest buyer of cars at 18 MILLION!  By 2020, China is expected to have sold at least 30 MILLION cars a YEAR!

Because cars are pretty much the only priority for the rapidly emerging Chinese middle class, automakers are forgetting that China’s economy and environment cannot possibly cope with such a rapid influx of cars.  Opium was THE drug to take in China in the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s.  Now it’s fancy cars that are fast gas-guzzlers.

Unfortunately for these automakers, there are trillions of Chinese yuan on the table, waiting to be wasted on (yet) another Mercedes S-Class  The problem is these automakers don’t know how to design cars that will win the wealthy Chinese hearts.  At the moment, the Chinese seem to have a large obsession with Western luxury cars and the chrome look (grilles that are ready to swallow you alive, waxed surfaces, long hoods, huge rims, etc).  But the big thought is: how long will it be before the Chinese start asking automakers to start making cars that fit their culture.  We just don’t know what Chinese luxury looks like yet. Who knows how long it might take?

But, it’s not all bad:  we have learned that the Chinese are very interested in showing their wealth through their cars (Hey, if you recently acquired a lot of money, you might want to do the same thing!).  New Chinese buyers have so far been shunning the chintzy-yet-fun Chinese cars in favor of the looming, decorative Audi front ends (Audi’s are used as state cars by the Chinese government!).  For the Chinese, bigger is certainly better.  Audi, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, and many others unveiled extended-wheelbase cars for wealthy (ish) Chinese to be driven around by chauffeurs.  Ian Callum, Global Design Director for Jaguar said “Chinese consumers love to be driven probably more than in any other market.  They love opulence, they love all the conveniences, they love to show off.”

If you’re now wondering how this will affect you, don’t worry!  It really won’t affect you, unless you buy a new Buick or Volvo.  If there are any doubters, go to Google Images and type in “American Buick” and then “Chinese Buick.”  You will see that there isn’t that much difference.  I’m not trying to put down Buick OR Volvo (both perfectly good brands), I’m just pointing out the facts.

What’s Up With the Infineon Raceway Name Change?

As some of you who are into the computer, news, or racing world, the ten-year naming-rights contract between the management of what was Sears Point Raceway and the bigwigs at Infineon (tech company) has just ended as of today.  If you are unaware of this and are at all frightened for the sake of the raceway- don’t worry!  While the management of the raceway searches for a new company to have a naming-rights contract with them, or simply to be privately run by the staff, the raceway will simply be called “Sonoma Raceway.”  Hopefully by the end of the year, there will be a new major sponsoring company or the track will be privately run, and operate on the same schedule.  Only time (and money) will tell what will happen.

If you have any opinions, concerns, and anything else you would wish to ask or tell the staff, feel free to send them an email at namechange@racesonoma.com

By the way, they have a new website:  racesonoma.com

The phone number for the raceway is the same at 1-800-870-RACE (7223), and they have a new YouTube channel; Race Sonoma, a new Twitter page, @racesonoma, and a new FaceBook page at facebook.com/racesonoma.  You can still find them at their old FaceBook page as there is no specified date.

Here is the link to my post on Infineon:

https://unmuffled.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/infineon-raceway-a-legendary-track/

P.S.  For those of you who felt left out about the American Graffiti Salute, you can enjoy the Peggy Sue’s All American Classic Car Cruise in Downtown Santa Rosa, CA on JUNE 9, from 6-9 PM!  See you there!