Ferruccio Lamborghini – a Biography of the Man Who Wanted a Better Ferrari

When you see a Lamborghini for the first time, you are probably wondering if an alien owns it.  It looks otherworldly.  This blog post is going to delve into the story behind the man who created Lamborghini Automobili, Ferruccio Lamborghini.  I hope you find his life as interesting as I do.

Ferruccio Lamborghini was born on April 28, 1916 to Antonio and Evelina Lamborghini in the beautiful region of Northern Italy.  Not much is known about his childhood, other than the fact that his parents were viticulturists.  What we do know is that Ferruccio Lamborghini was fascinated with farming machinery, rather than the farming lifestyle.  Following his passion for mechanics, Ferruccio went to the Fratelli Taddia technical institute in Bologna.  In 1940, Ferruccio was drafted into the Italian Royal Air Force for WWII.  He started off as a vehicle mechanic at the Italian garrison on the island of Rhodes.  He eventually became supervisor of the vehicle maintenance unit there.  When the island fell to the British in 1945, Ferruccio was taken prisoner.  He was unable to return home until 1946.  Upon his return, he married, but his wife died in 1947 while giving birth to their son, Antonio Lamborghini.

After that, Ferruccio opened a small garage near Bologna.  In his spare time, Ferruccio modified an old Fiat Topolino that he had purchased, one of the many that he would own over the years.  He took his extensive mechanical abilities to the tiny city car and turned it into a thundering, two-seat, open-top, 750-cc, roadster.  He entered the car in the 1948 Mille Miglia.  His participation in the tiny Topolino ended after 700 miles, when he ran the car into the side of a restaurant in the town of Fiano, in the province of Turin.  As a result of the crash, Lamborghini lost all enthusiasm for racing, a bitter sentiment that would last until the late 1960s.

In 1949, Ferruccio started Lamborghini Trattori, a small tractor company that would eventually become the European equivalent of John Deere.  His increasing wealth allowed him to buy more expensive, faster cars than the tiny Fiats that had provided with reliable, albeit slow, transportation for many years.  In the early 1950’s, he owned such cars as Lancia’s and Alfa Romeo’s, and at one point, he owned enough cars to drive a different one for every day of the week.  He added a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, a Jaguar E-Type coupe, and two Maserati 3500GT’s.  He once said of the latter, “Adolfo Orsi, then the owner of Maserati, was a man I had a lot of respect for: he had started life as a poor boy, like myself.  But I did not like his cars much.  They felt heavy and did not really go fast.”

In 1958, Lamborghini traveled to Modena to buy a Ferrari 250GT, an early Ferrari with a Pininfarina body.  He went on to own several more 250GT’s, including a Scaglietti-designed 250 SWB Berlinetta and a 250GT 2+2.  He thought that Enzo Ferrari’s cars were good, they were too noisy and rough to be proper road cars.  He categorized the 250GT’s as repurposed track cars with poorly done interiors.  Ouch.

He found that Ferrari’s had bad clutches, requiring frequent, expensive trips to Modena to replace them.  Ferrari technicians would squirrel the cars away for hours on end to perform the service, which immensely dissatisfied Lamborghini.  He had expressed his dissatisfaction about Ferrari’s after sales service multiple times before, which he perceived to be extremely substandard compared to other auto manufacturers.  He brought this to Enzo Ferrari’s attention, but was rudely dismissed by the pride-filled Ferrari.  He eventually successfully modified one of his personal 250GT’s to outperform stock 250GT’s, he decided that he was going to start an automobile manufacturing venture of his own, with an aim to create the perfect touring car that he felt nobody could build for him.  His belief was that a grand touring car should have attributes lacking in Ferrari’s, namely high performance without compromising tractability, ride quality, or interior appointments.  Being a clever businessman, Lamborghini knew that he could triple the profits if he used tractor parts from his tractor company.

The 1970’s OPEC Oil Crisis caused a large financial crisis for Lamborghini.  Lamborghini Trattori, which exported about half of it’s tractors, ran into trouble when the South African importer cancelled all of their orders.  The Bolivian military government cancelled a large shipment of tractors ready to ship from Genoa.  Since all of the Lamborghini Trattori employees were unionized, they could not be fired or laid off, which put immense financial strain on the company.  Lamborghini sold his entire share of the company (72%) to SAME, a rival tractor company, in 1972.

Not long after that, the entire Lamborghini franchise found itself in dire straights.  Development at Lamborghini Automobili slowed as costs were cut.  So, Ferruccio started negotiations with Georges-Henri Rossetti, a wealthy Swiss businessman and close friend.  Ferruccio sold Rossetti a 51% share in the company for US$600,000, which was enough to keep Lamborghini Automobili alive.  He continued to work at the factory even though he had no official controlling share in the company.  Rossetti rarely involved himself in Lamborghini Automobili’s affairs.

The 1973 OPEC Oil Crisis didn’t improve financial matters, either.  Consumers flocked in droves to smaller, more practical cars with better fuel economy.  By 1974, Ferruccio had become so disenchanted with the automobile manufacturing business that he severed all connections with the automobile manufacturer that bore his name.  He sold his remaining 49% share of the company to Rene Leimer, a friend of Rossetti.

After departing the automotive world, Lamborghini started an industrial valve and equipment manufacturer, as well as a heating and air conditioning company, Lamborghini Calor.

In 1974, Lamborghini exited the industrial world and retired to a 740-acre estate named La Fiorita on the shores of Lake Trasimeno, in Central Italy.  Returning to his farming roots, Lamborghini took delight in hunting and making his own wines.  He even designed a personal golf course.  At age 58, he fathered Patrizia Lamborghini.

At age 76, Lamborghini died on February 20, 1993 at Silvestrini Hospital after suffering a heart attack 15 days earlier.  He is buried at the Monumental Cemetery of the Certosa di Bologna monastery.

Bullfighting is an integral part of the Lamborghini identity.  In 1962, Lamborghini visited the Seville ranch of Don Eduardo Muira, a renowned breeder of fighting bulls.  He was so impressed with the raging bulls that he decided to adopt a raging bull as the emblem of Lamborghini Automobili.

After producing two cars with alphanumeric designations, Lamborghini once again turned to bullfighting for inspiration.  Don Eduardo was filled with pride when he learned that Lamborghini had named a car after his family and their legendary line of bulls.  The fourth Lamborghini Muira was unveiled to him at his ranch.

The Lamborghini Islero was named for the bull that killed the legendary bullfighter Manolete in 1947.

The Lamborghini Espada was named after the Spanish word for sword, and sometimes used to refer to the bullfighter himself.

The Lamborghini Jarama had a special double meaning – it was intended to refer to the historic bullfighting region of Spain, but Ferruccio was worried that there would be confusion with the also-historic Jarama motor racing track.

After naming the Lamborghini Urraco after a bull breed, Lamborghini broke from tradition and named the Countach, not for a bull, but for a rather rude expression used by Piedmontese men to describe a beautiful woman.  I don’t know why either.  Legend has it that designer Nuccio Bertone uttered the word in surprise when he saw the Countach prototype.  The Lamborghini LM002 SUV and Lamborghini Silhouette were the other exceptions.

The 1982 Lamborghini Jalpa was named for a bull breed.

The Lamborghini Diablo was named for the Duke of Veragua’s bull that fought an epic battle against El Chicorro in 1869.  It also means “devil” in Spanish.

The Lamborghini Murcielago was named for the legendary bull whose life was spared by El Lagartijo for his ferocious performance in 1879.  It also means “bat” in Spanish.

The Lamborghini Reventon was named for the bull that killed the young Mexican bullfighter Felix Guzman in 1943.

The 2008 Lamborghini Estoque concept car was named for the estoc, the sword traditionally used by matadors.

The Lamborghini Aventador was named for a bull that was bred by the sons of Don Celestino Cuadri Vides.  The bull was killed in a particularly gruesome fight, and after the fight, the left ear was cut off of the bull and given to the matador for good luck.

The Lamborghini Gallardo was named for one of the five ancestral castes of the Spanish bullfighting breed.

The Lamborghini Huracan is named for a bull that fought in 1879.  Huracan also means “hurricane” in Spanish.

All of Lamborghini’s companies are still around in some form or another today.  Lamborghini Trattori is still a subsidiary of SAME.  His son, Tonino (Antonio) Lamborghini designs a line of clothing and accessories under the Tonino Lamborghini brand.  His daughter, Patrizia Lamborghini, runs the private winery on his estate.

A museum near the factory honoring Lamborghini, the Centro Studi e Richerche Ferruccio Lamborghini, opened in 2001.  The museum is located just 25 km (15.2 miles) from the factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese.  Tonino may even be there to greet you, as you have to write ahead to get in, as conferences often happen and the museum is closed to the public.

What One Sees on the Road

After a successful surgery and a minor hiccup, I am back on the road to recovery!  This means that I will start publishing every Tuesday and Friday!  This should make everybody happy, right?  I know that it makes me happy!  I’ve got plenty of captivating and funny posts just itching to be published.

While on the road to get to the hospital with my parents, I spotted something most people won’t see…ever.  No, it wasn’t a Pagani Huayra (I wish!).  It was a car transporter carrying 12 brand-new Ford Interceptor Utilities destined for, you guessed it, the California Highway Patrol!  It was one of the most amazing, cool things I’ve ever seen!  I just needed to share the pictures I took with you!  I hope that you enjoy them!

These are just two of the twelve 2014 Ford Interceptor Utilities on this car transporter!
These are just two of the twelve 2014 Ford Interceptor Utilities on this car transporter!
All of the Interceptor Utilities were destined for the CHP!
All of the Interceptor Utilities were destined for the CHP!
I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of all 12 of the Interceptor Utilities.  We were simply too close to get a picture of all 12 :(
I’m sorry I didn’t get a picture of all 12 of the Interceptor Utilities. We were simply too close to get a picture of all 12 😦

I will give you some information on the Ford Interceptor Utility.  It’s a pretty cool vehicle.  The Ford Interceptor Utility is based off of the Ford Explorer SUV, but that’s about where the similarities end.  The Ford Interceptor Utility comes standard with FWD, but sales show that an overwhelming majority of buyers buy the Interceptor Utility with AWD.  The standard engine is the 3.7-liter, 305 horsepower V6 from the Mustang.  The Explorer is a porky vehicle, but with the high-revving, powerful V6 from the Mustang, the Interceptor is no slouch.  60 mph comes up in 6.4 seconds, while 100 mph comes up in 14 seconds.  That’s with the Interceptor Utility loaded with all of the gear required by the CHP!  A six-speed automatic is the only transmission available.  The other engine option for the Interceptor Utility is a 2.0-liter four cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost engine making 240 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque.  This engine has seen service in everything from the Taurus to the civilian Explorer to the Focus ST to the Escape.  It’s a durable engine that feels like a V6, and it gets decent mpg in the nearly-5,000 pound Explorer.  This engine was also named one of Ward’s Ten Best Engines for 2013.  That’s a pretty lofty achievement for Ford.  The other engine, the sweet spot in my mind, is the 3.5 liter, twin turbo EcoBoost engine borrowed from the F-150.  This is one powerful engine, and it’s been proven to be barrels of fun.  It sees service in everything from the Flex to the Taurus to the F-150 to the Explorer.  It propels the portly Interceptor Utility to 60 mph in a scant 5.7 seconds.  It’s the most popular engine with the CHP, Texas State Patrol, and the Michigan State Patrol.

Don’t forget what the Crown Victoria’s headlights look like.  The CHP bought 329 in 2011 before it’s production ended, and they will likely be in service until at least 2016.

I hope that you laughed yourselves silly over Roadkill.  Let me know what your favorite episode of Roadkill was!

The Best Cars for the End of the Holiday Season!

I think that this is a bit of a tradition for me.  Last year, I wrote a post about the same time as this one.  It was also about the best cars for the end of the holiday season.  I have fond memories of picking through cars that I thought deserved to be on this list.  While my list may not be as prestigious as Car & Driver’s 10Best, I would like to think of it as my personal version.  Except, I will be doing a list like this for every season!  That’s right:  Winter, spring, summer, and fall!  After much thought, I have finally decided what cars deserve to be on my list.  The criteria for the cars:  The cars on the list must all be new or substantially updated, they must be able to be entertaining in a snowy climate, and they must be able to seat at least four people comfortably (that way you can go on a road trip with the kids or friends!).  Enjoy my list!

  1. Bentley Flying Spur:  The Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed was on my list last year.  However, the Flying Spur is no longer burdened with the Continental name.  It does still share a platform with the Continental, though.  It’s a brute of a car, weighing in at 5644 pounds.  It’s definitely as large as an elephant – it is 17.4 feet long, and it it weighs as much as a male elephant bull.  Don’t despair – this car rockets to 60 mph in an equally stunning 4.3 seconds.  This car will keep pace with a sprightly Lotus Evora S all day, without much drama or effort.  This car has 616 horsepower mated to a superb ZF 8-speed automatic transmission.  The powerful W12 engine is more efficient – it gets 12/20 MPG city/highway, according to the EPA.  However, snowy hoonage will likely lower that number…  It has every option one can imagine, including private multimedia screens for the kids.  Bang & Olufsen sound-deadening wireless headphones will keep the people in front sane.
  2. Ford F-150 FX2/FX4 Sport Tremor:  The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Crew Cab rumbled and burbled its way onto my list last year because of its substantial updates, most notably the 6.2 liter V8.  This year, it’s more efficient, yet just-as-fun sister joins the party.  The Sport Tremor comes in 2WD or 4WD, regular cab only.  It comes with Ford’s powerful, efficient 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6.  Power gets there through a 4.10:1 rear end, so these trucks will be fast.  I know that it doesn’t seat four, but don’t despair – you can always get the Raptor!  The performance figures for the Sport Tremor aren’t out yet, but a 2012 Ford F-150 XLT 4X4 Crew Cab got to 60 in a quite-respectable 6.2 seconds.  Expect the Sport Tremor to get there in about 5.8-5.9 seconds.  While it won’t keep up with the Bentley in a straight line, it CAN haul a whole lot more, and get better gas mileage!
  3. SRT Viper/GTS/TA:  The Viper has a ground-shaking 8.4-liter V10 that pumps out 640 horsepower.  It comes with a 6-speed manual transmission and RWD only.  This will play with the boys.  I know that it doesn’t seat four, but hey, it’s a Viper.  It’s not a Bentley!  The RWD, 640 horse Viper should be a hoot to hoon around in the snow.  Stability control and traction control will help.
  4. Porsche 911 Turbo/Turbo S:  The Porsche 911 Turbo is a great car to own.  Not only will the 991-generation Turbo remain a collectible for a long time, but the 991 911 Turbo/Turbo S has a bunch of new technology designed to help the driver get around a track faster.  It has AWD, 560 horsepower in the Turbo S, and seats for four.  While the rear seats may only be fit for presents, the kids will have to suck it up and squeeze in there for a bit.  But, the drive there will be worth it.  The 911 Turbo/Turbo S is turbocharged, which makes it a cinch to drive fast, especially in wet or low-traction environments.  This car was designed to make the worst of drivers look good, and the best of drivers look legendary.  Have fun with this car.
  5. Porsche 918 Spyder:  If you own this car, I want to go for a spin in it!  Porsche has had the 918 Spyder in testing for years – prototypes were running around Germany as far back as 2007.  The 918 Spyder has a hybrid-electric system that distributes the gobs of 874 horsepower and an astounding 944 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels.  The 918 Spyder Weissach Package loses 88 pounds by using ceramic wheel bearings and film wrap instead of conventional aluminum and paint.  It won’t seat any more than two, but that’s okay.  This car will blow your mind at the speeds it reaches without effort, as well as the confidence it gives the driver at any speed.
  6. Subaru WRX:  Subie is legendary in the rally world for building fast, reliable cars that don’t look like much.  The 2015 WRX lives up to these statements.  It loses the massive rear wing found on the previous generation of WRXs, but it has power and fun.  It is bigger, but it makes 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.  It’s suspension has been firmed up 39% in the front, and 62% in the rear.  This car will play all day with a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, and be as flat as a Porsche Cayman S while cornering.  The torque vectoring system uses the rear differential instead of the brakes to vector the torque.  It doesn’t look pretty, but then again, no Subie in recent memory has looked mesmerizing.  Subaru invests money in engineering, not in styling.  That’s fine with me.
  7. Jeep Cherokee:  For those of you who remember the Jeep Cherokees of yore, close this tab, shut off your computer, grab your wallet, and go get a Jeep Wrangler.  This Cherokee is NOTHING like the harsh-riding Cherokees of the 1980s and 1990s.  This Cherokee comes standard with FWD, but 4WD is optional.  The Cherokee Trailhawk will keep pace with a stock Wrangler or SVT Raptor all day long without breaking a sweat.  The Cherokee is packed with lots of useful, cool tech.  I won’t bore you all of that technology, but I will say that for those in need of something affordable with 4WD, the Cherokee deserves a second look.
  8. Chevrolet SS:  The Chevy SS is the thunder from down under.  It’s based off of the Holden Commodore, and it’s got a high-performance 6.2-liter V8 with 415 horsepower.  The SS is the first RWD Chevy sedan since 1996 for civilian use – the Caprice PPV is available for lucky cops, and it’s truly spectacular.  It is capable of making those who owned a muscle car as a teenager feel young again, while allowing Mom and the kids to experience the fun.  It’s not all about burnouts – the SS can hold its own in the twisties.  The 415-horse V8 and six-speed automatic mated to RWD will make it entertaining for anybody to drive, any season, at any time.  I want one, if you haven’t noticed!
  9. 2014 Chevrolet Silverado:  Chevy is good at this game!  Two cars on my list is kinda hard.  Yet, Chevy introduced two cars capable of being on this list, which both of them are.  The 2014 Silverado truly gives the buyer everything that is needed or wanted, and then some.  There are literally 50 different cab/bed combinations, let alone the plethora of engine/transmission/2WD/4WD combinations.  The 2014 Silverado was designed to be one of the best in the game, and it doesn’t disappoint.  It’s got clever tech for all of the engines to make the engines more competitive in an ever-evolving segment.  The Silverado doesn’t come with the option of an extended cab anymore – safety regulations and loss of demand killed it for Chevy, but it comes with a “Quad Cab” option that offers more space than an extended cab, as well as the look of a crew cab.  It starts off as a perfectly nice base model, before climbing the ladder of expensive and unneeded options to become a pure luxury truck.
  10. Ram 1500:  The Ram 1500 has long been one of my favorite 1/2 ton trucks.  Ever since it’s massive – and popular redesign in 1993, the Ram 1500 has always had a brutish Hemi V8 underhood.  Recently, Ram introduced an EcoDiesel V6 shared with the Jeep Grand Cherokee.  It’s the first diesel in a 1/2 ton pickup since the 1980s.  I know the deal about diesels.  My dad owns a 2003 GMC 2500 4X4 with the Duramax diesel.  But, the Ram 1500 offers the same noise levels as the Ram equipped with the Hemi V8.  If you don’t want a diesel, you can always opt for the refreshed Hemi V8, which has more cool tech to aid in towing and hauling.

Have a fun, happiness-filled end of the holiday season!  In these final days of 2013, I urge you to take a walk in the park with friends, your kids, and/or the family dog (if you have one), and do whatever fills your heart with enjoyment.  Have a wonderful Winter Break!

Enjoy the pictures of the cars (and trucks!) on my list:

The Best Defensive Driving Schools or MY Plans for This Summer

Imagine a rainy day, and a car drifting over into your lane.  You swerve and start to skid.  You lose control of your car.  It’s certainly possible, and especially for a new driver.  As I head ever closer to 16, I am anxiously counting off the days until I get my learner’s permit.  I won’t tell you the exact date, but those who know me well enough know that date.  When I was little, my mom would make a paper chain before an exciting event.  I would rip a link off everyday, counting down until the big moment.  Anybody have those?

Back to topic.  I don’t really have that many plans for this summer.  I would like to do life guard training, and an automotive oriented internship (any suggestions wonderful readers?), but other than that, I am free.  So I had a talk with Mom and Pops, and we have agreed to send me to (at least -wishful thinking.  All in the name of safety, after all) a defensive driving school!  Of course, most of these courses are simply one day, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do multiple one-day courses!  Right, Mom?  Hint, hint.  I decided to research defensive driving schools all around the U.S. of A.  Think of the travel opportunities…  After a few hours of fun solid research, I narrowed down the research to the following schools:

  • Richard Petty Safe Driving Course:  The Richard Petty Safe Driving Course is meant for young drivers like teens.  As you can imagine, the King of NASCAR takes immense pride on how to teach teens how to drive.  Defensively and safely.  There are courses at many NASCAR road courses, and the biggest course is at Talladega Superspeedway!  This course costs $329-399 for a one-day course.  Cars are provided by Chrysler, Dodge, and SRT.  The course is part of a large study conducted by Clemson University Automotive Safety Research Institute.  Many graduates return for the Richard Petty Experience, where you can drive a detuned stock car (race cars as close to stock as possible) at Daytona Speedway!  Those interested in taking the course can find more information at drivepetty.com/safe-driving
  • Advanced Driving Dynamics sounds like a name for physics nerds.  It’s not. This course is a one-day crash course on how to drive cars safely, defensively, and quickly.  Toyota provides the cars, and there is a certified Toyota technical team ready at all times.  This course only happens in the spring at Irwindale Speedway, and it is not very well-known.  However, this makes it a prime place for small studies to be conducted, and a good amount of teens from the Los Angeles area come to take this course.  The cost is $350, with a $100 deposit 60 days in advance.  You can find more information at advanceddrivingdynamics.com
  • BMW Teen Driving School is what it sounds like.  This course teaches teens how to handle the Ultimate Driving Machine in icky conditions.  Instead of using thousands of gallons of water for the skidpad, BMW uses a special chemical favored by many militaries around the world.  This chemical is safe, and it replicates ice, snow, or rain-covered asphalt.  There is a family program that teaches parents how to be good driving role models for their teen.  Parents can take this course, test-drive as many Bimmers as they want on the same course their youngsters are driving, or go go-karting.  This course takes place at the BMW Testing and Performance Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  This is also the factory for the BMW X1, X3, and X5.  If you are interested in going to this course with me, you can visit bmwusa.com/performancecenter#teenschool for even more information.  The cost is $550 for one day, and $950 for two days.
  • Street Survival Teen Driving Course:  The BMW Club of North America sponsors this amazing program for teens.  This course is a one-day course that teaches teens how to drive their car at the limit, and stay in control.  Instead of using a car that the teen is not familiar with, teens use their own car.  Not only does it make them feel more comfortable, but it shows them what it is like to drive their own car at the limit.  This is the most inexpensive teen driving course, coming in at a grand total of $125 for one day.  The teens who come here with their learner’s permit often come back the next year with their driver’s license.  You can see just a teensy bit more information at streetsurvival.org
  • Honda Teen Defensive Driving School:  This course is not as positively reviewed as all of the other courses, but it shows teens how to drive on many different surfaces.  These surfaces include snow, ice, rain-soaked asphalt, gravel, and mud.  Plus, the teens get to do all of this in Honda’s latest sports car.  Parents get to watch their kid going around the skidpad in a skid car (a car with wheels that can be altered by the instructor).  This course takes place at the Mid-Ohio Motorsports Park, and costs $375 a day.  More information can be found at midohio.com/School/Courses/Defensive-Driving/Honda-Teen-Defensive-Driving-Program
  • Bob Bondurant School of High-Performance Driving Teen Course:  Bob Bondurant is a household name in terms of high-performance driving schools.  His school has taught many celebrities and average people to drive like a race-car driver.  His first customer was Paul Newman!  They recently added a teen program where teens drive their own car and/or a Bondurant Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE.  Parents can pay just a little bit extra, and become two more backseat drivers!  Many teens said that the experience was enjoyable, and that they would recommend it to their friends.  This course costs $495 for a five-hour course, $895 for a one-day course, and $1,595 for two days.  If you want to join me, reserve your spot at bondurant.com/programs/teen-driving-program
  • Miller Motorsports Park Teen Driving Course:  Miller Motorsports Park is a large racetrack in Ohio where many people enjoy lapping agile cars.  Miller Motorsports park charges $250 a day for teens to learn how to drive a car defensively.  They don’t simulate icky road conditions, but they do simulate bad drivers and fake “road rage.”  Teens who take this course say that they know how to get away from somebody having a case of road rage.  You can look at Miller Motorsports Park’s Teen Driving Course at millermotorsportspark.com/driving-school/safety-schools/teen-driving-school.html
  • Sim Raceway Highway Survival Driving School:  Sim Raceway sounds like a game for the xBox.  It’s most certainly not.  This school teaches drivers how to be good drivers on highways.  The course teaches drivers how to drive cars on the highway in appalling conditions.  They have to pass other drivers on a long skidpad.  Where does this take place?  Beautiful Sonoma Raceway!  Close to where I live!  The reviews are 100% positive, and everybody says that the instructors take pride in teaching teens how to drive well on highways.
  • Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy:  The Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy is situated in traffic-clogged Los Angeles, CA.  It teaches drivers how to be aggressive in the perpetual traffic that is Los Angeles, and then teaches them how to drive a German luxury car (or SUV) on the windy canyon roads above Malibu.  The reviews are positive, and everybody likes driving the cars.  Sessions are private, except for parent-teen workshops.  These private sessions can cost anywhere from $200-500.  Parent-teen workshops cost about $1,200.  However, these parent-teen workshops are fun, educational for everybody, and the teens get to drive a Mercedes-Benz of their choice.  Sounds like fun!  Check out mb-drivingacademy.com/us/en/home.html

I can’t wait to see you guys at one of these driving programs!

Fun in the Sun, or The Star Cars at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale Auction!

Firstly, let me apologize for my brief absence.  Unfortunately, I have experienced a technical glitch.  Is “klugie” really a technical term describing one’s computer malfunction?  If so, then my computer has klugie-itis.  You know where to find me this weekend.  Yes, the Apple Store.  Now on to more interesting news…

We should have had a road trip.  Scottsdale this time of year sure appeals to those of us near the 45th parallel.  Barrett-Jackson has an annual auction in Scottsdale.  A lot of nice cars go there.  Too bad it just happened a few weeks ago.  And we are all still stuck in the cold and rain.  Well then, my job is to tell you about the noteworthy ones that sold there.

1966 Batmobile:  $4.2 Million USD.  We all knew that the original Batmobile would fetch a lot more than the reserve.  It did.  The reserve for the vehicle was an undisclosed amount, but sources say it was about $3.5 Million USD.  That’s $700,000 OVER the reserve!  The car’s new owner said that he is going to put the Batmobile in his living room.  If you have that amount of money, you don’t put the car in your LIVING ROOM!  You build a CAVE for it!!!  Check out my post when I originally wrote about this cool car.  https://unmuffled.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/the-original-1966-batmobile-will-hit-the-auction-block-in-january/

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray:  As has been the custom since the C3 (3rd generation Corvette) debuted in 1971, the first car to be produced (Chassis #001) is auctioned off by Barrett-Jackson.  The charity that receives the large lump of money is always pleased.  The Detroit College for Creative Studies should be pleased.  Many of their alumni work in GM’s design studios.  The 2014 Corvette Sting Ray is now owned by NASCAR Rick Hendrick.  How much did he pay for it?  A hefty $1,050,000 USD.  Add in the fact that Rick Hendrick basically just donated $1,050,000 to charity for a car, the price does kind of seem attractive.

Porsche 959 Prototype:  While the Porsche Panamera may surpass the 959 in terms of performance, there won’t be people writing poems about the Panamera.  The Porsche 959 is the automotive equivalent of the Apollo Space Program.  This 959 prototype is one of only four built, and one of two remaining.  The hefty $400,000 hammer price seems like a lot, and it is.  The car may not be street-legal, but it will beat just about any Ferrari, Lamborghini, or anything else around the Nurburgring.

2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Cobra Tribute:  This Mustang may look like a souped-up GT500, which it is.  However, it is a one-off vehicle that fetched $200,000.  That lump of cash went to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  The buyer walked away with an awesome car, and the charity got a lot of money.  It’s a win-win situation!

All I’m sayin’ people, next year this time, (say it with me) “ROAD TRIP”!!

Making A Grand Entrance, or Getting to Thanksgiving in Style

As you know, Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season with a full belly.  At least 80% of all Americans travel for the holiday.  I know that those who are traveling by road will be traveling the crowded interstates.  For those taking the back roads, I’ve put together a list of ten cars that have at least 400 horsepower and seat four people comfortably.  Tell me which one you’d like to take.

  1. Audi S8:  The 2013 Audi S8 has 520 horsepower, yet it isn’t a car that is 6000 pounds and fast in a straight line like a Rolls.  Instead, it weighs 4400 pounds.  With Audi’s signature Quattro AWD system, the S8 will go where a Rolls would never think of going.  Do you know of any full-size sedans other than the S8 than can get to 60 in 3.5 seconds?  Plus, the interior will enclose you in Alacantara and leather sourced from the finest tanneries in the world.  Not a bad way to travel…
  2. Bentley Mulsanne:  Would you like to make an even grander entrance than the S8?   If you do, take the 2013 Bentley Mulsanne.  A 505 horsepower 6.75 liter, twin turbo V8 powers the massive Bentley to a heart-stopping 4.8 seconds to 60.  It might not be as fast as the S8, but it will look better at speed.  All four of you and your lucky friends will be enshrouded in pillowy, massaging seats that have leather.
  3. Cadillac CTS-V Wagon:   The Caddy is one of the more powerful cars here, yet one of the first choices for a back-road blast.  The CTS-V Wagon is fast, with a top speed of 190 mph (governed!), and it will carry turkeys, luggage, and plenty of eggnog and brew for Thanksgiving without breaking a sweat.  Plus, it will look like you are having a blast.  Which you WILL be, right?
  4. Dodge Charger SRT-8:   The Charger has long held a soft spot in my big car heart.  It’s fast, it makes a statement, and it’s loud.  What’s not to love?  Plus, the SRT-8 can be purchased for under $50,000!  60 mph comes up in a show-stopping 4.3 seconds.  This makes it the large family-oriented performance car of the century!
  5. Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec:  The Hyundai is the first Korean performance sedan.  It competes with the Mercedes-Benz E550, yet offers almost as much room as a MBZ S-Class.  It may be smaller than the gigantic Equus, but it’s MUCH more fun to drive.  Plus, it will get people asking what it is.  Some will think it’s a Lexus, others will think is a Mercedes.  Tell them it’s a Hyundai, and take some photos for me!
  6. Jaguar XJL Supercharged:  The 470 horsepower, 5.0 liter engine is powerful enough to move this big boy.  Fast.  The interior is even nicer than the engine.  There is a suede-like material that Jag used for the headliner that is very soft and nice.  The engine is so powerful that you can load up the trunk and have your friends in the back stretched out.  What’s not to love?
  7. Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged:  The Range Rover Supercharged has a 510 horsepower engine that is basically the same one you’ll find in the XJL Supercharged.  This powerful engine will take the nearly 5000-pound SUV to 60 in a mere 5.2 seconds.  Plus, it will haul all your gear wherever you want it.  You can quite literally load up the shotguns and go hunting wild turkeys in the Rockies.  Plus, it’s got  a very similar interior to the XJL Supercharged.  Not bad for an SUV that costs almost $120,000.
  8. Mercedes-Benz GL550:  The GL wowed the 2013 Motor Trend SUV of the Year judges so much that they named it SUV of the year.  It’s the first MBZ to win that title since 2001.  The GL550 doles out globs of torque and 429 horsepower.  It’s powerful, fast, quiet, AND it will follow the Range Rover Supercharged.  For a while.  The Designo interior rivals that of the luxurious S-Class, with comfortable leather seats that seat seven.  Plus, you can take all your gear in the back and still have room.  It’s bigger than an Escalade, yet smaller than a Navigator EL.
  9. Porsche Panamera GTS:  The powerful Panamera GTS will haul four people in relative comfort, thanks to it’s leather-covered Recaro seats.  It has AWD and 430 horsepower.  It’s like the Nissan GT-R Black Edition, with two more doors!  And a rumbling V8!  Plus, it will get 24.5 mpg on the highway!  VROOOOOOOOM!
  10. Tesla Model S Signature Performance Edition:  The 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year deserves to be on this list.  Why?  It’s extremely powerful electric motor produces 416 horsepower at the wheels.  This means that it’s there as soon as you start it.  It might not have the range of the Mulsanne or the Panamera, but it will make the most amazing entrance ever.  It carries almost as much as a Chevy Equinox, plus it has 285 miles of range!  Plus, you can get to 60 in jolting 4.0 seconds!  This is one silent VROOOOOOOOOOOM!

Have fun daydreaming about what could be, when you’re stuck on the interstate wishing you’d taken the backroads. These cars may not be ‘The Family’s New Car’, but they definitely have serious style!   P.S.  Do you have any cars that have at least 400 horsepower and seat four comfortably?  I’m sure you do…