Why Supercars Aren’t Cheap to Maintain

Supercars are constantly redefining how crazy cars can be.  Think about the 1990s.  The McLaren F1 was the fastest car in the world until the Bugatti Veyron.  The Lamborghini Diablo wasn’t nearly as fast, but it was just as raw and pure of a driver’s car.  However, the car that one can argue defined the 1990s supercar wars was the Ferrari Testarossa.  It wasn’t the fastest, the most terrifying, or most exhilarating.  What it did do, however, was pave the way for supercars as we know them now.  Yes, that means being completely unaffordable to the general population and outrageous repair costs.

This blog post is by no means meant to make supercars from the 1990s and first decade of the 2000s seem like horrible messes of cars that are best left to be stared at in museums.  Drive these cars.  It’s what they’re meant for.  Grab they keys and floor it if you get the chance.  Just remember to set aside a LOT of money to repair them.  Oh, and find a really good mechanic.  Just because they say that they service European cars does NOT mean that they will service your Lamborghini Diablo.  They will, but they will likely do it badly and cause further damage to something that is expensive.  Ask them if they service your supercar.  They can usually point you to somebody who will if they can’t.

Many jobs require special tools for that car and that car only.  Your Craftsman toolset will do irreversible damage to your car.   Doing a simple task such as changing the oil, which might take an afternoon in your mom’s Toyota Camry, can turn into a five-day knuckle-bashing fest on a McLaren F1.  Let’s not even start on the Ferrari Enzo.

Yes, that’s a stock McLaren F1 engine bay!  The gold throughout the engine bay is actual gold leaf.  The exhaust is titanium, and no, the blue connectors are not for nitrous.  They are for fuel delivery.  That engine bay looks like a lot of fun to access!  No wonder it takes five days to change the oil…

McLaren estimates annual repair costs to be about $30,000, which doesn’t seem too bad until you find out that an oil change is $8,000.  You can even ship your F1 to McLaren’s factory in Woking, UK for repairs, where McLaren employs two full-time F1 technicians for F1 repairs alone!  That’s what Ralph Lauren does for his THREE F1’s.  Yeah, that blazer you bought is going to good use.  McLaren suggests replacing the tires in pairs ($3,000 per tire!).  McLaren scrubs in every set sold, for free.  That means that they custom-make the tires for free!  Service can take up to 6 weeks – not including transit to the UK.  It’s ten days door-to-door by air, seven weeks by boat.  The bright side?  The car is appreciating so quickly that repair costs will never catch up to their now-astronomical price.  Chumps.

This is the floor of the customer service department of McLaren’s Woking factory.  It might not be so bad to come here after all…

That being said, the McLaren F1 is one of the most amazing cars to ever come out of a factory.  It was the fastest car in the world for almost 20 years, and the driving experience is supposedly second to none.  It’s also going up in price really quickly.  Get one now if you want.  Yeah, your kids only need a semester at Stanford anyways!

This is a Ferrari Enzo engine bay.  Not exactly pretty, but it gets the job done!  I’m a fan of the massive intake manifold and massive shocks.  Those two gold tanks are gas reservoirs. An astute commenter corrected me – they are not fuel pumps, as I originally thought! They are gas-filled reservoirs that keep the fluid in the shocks, called damping fluid, under constant pressure. Given the massive speeds the Enzo can easily hit, a single small bump in the road could prove catastrophic, so these reservoirs are necessary.

When you buy an Enzo, you’d better have every single piece of paper detailing EVERYTHING that was done to it!  If you don’t, be sure to spend far more than the service cost off of the asking price!  When something goes wrong, it goes from a relatively inexpensive fix to a SNAFU in seconds.

Oil or shop fluids will irreversibly damage at least one $6,000 carbon-ceramic brake rotor, so a set of factory covers protects them during service.  I’m not joking!

Each authorized dealer must buy a $10,000 special tool kit and this scissor lift to work on an Enzo.  The massive V12 takes 12 quarts of oil.  That’s a lot.  Most cars take around 7.

Oh, and a word for the wise – warm up the Enzo’s big V12 with the $60,000 carbon fiber engine lid open, and the carbon fiber intake body will expand enough that the lid won’t close until the engine cools off.

This is a Porsche Carrera GT engine bay.  This car has long been the source of heated controversy, which only heated up after the tragic deaths of Paul Walker and Roger Rodas almost a year ago (they died on November 30.  I will do a one-year memorium post on that day).

Like every other Porsche, the Carrera GT gets an oil change every 15,000 miles.  No, it’s not based off of a semi truck engine, but good guess!  The entire car was a shelved endurance racing project from the 1990s, so it was built to be reliable.

An oil change is $3,000 because:

  1. A set of four ramps ($1,100) is required to get the car over the hoist arms on the lift.  Yes, it’s that low.
  2. The rear-heavy car has to be attached to the lift so it doesn’t tip or fall off of the lift.  A $550 set of 3/4 inch aluminum plates bolt onto the car for that purpose.  Most owners leave them installed.
  3. Two engine-oil filters – one replaceable and one reusable screen.  Strip the drain plug in the aluminum cover, and you’re down $6,800.

Replacing the ceramic clutch is $25,000, including labor.  By comparison, a $30,000 full brake job is a steal by comparison.  You can see how these mechanics live well.  When the Carrera GT was new, dealers had to buy a special $10,000 table and $8,000 jig to hold the car’s engine during service.

Overall, maintaining a supercar isn’t easy or cheap.  Should you buy one of these cars, make sure that there is a piece of paper detailing everything done to the car.  You’ll thank me later.

The Ferrari LaFerrari is a Dream Come True…for a Lucky Few!

It should be worth mentioning to you that copious amounts of drool may ensue while reading this article.  If you’re a numbers junkie, read ahead.  If you’re an experience junkie, read ahead.  If you’re a looks person, read ahead.  Well, you got it.  There’s something for everybody in this car, and this article! The 2015 Ferrari LaFerrari is the most powerful production Ferrari ever made.  Yipe.  It’s also the first hybrid Ferrari ever made.  Yowza.  It’s carbon-fiber tub (where the driver and passenger sit) is made from the same carbon fiber as the frighteningly fast Ferrari F1 cars, and it’s formed by the same team that makes the F1 cars.  Wow.  It’s name translates to “The Ferrari.” As emissions regulations around the world get harder, supercar manufacturers are forced to turn to alternative different forms of power.  McLaren’s powerful P1 hypercar uses two turbochargers, an electric motor, and an already powerful 3.8-liter V8.  Stuttgart fired back with an equally impressive salvo that is the 918 Spyder, which uses an insanely powerful naturally aspirated V8 with two electric motors.  The LaFerrari is just as, if not more impressive.  It’s pretty darn hard to beat a Ferrari V12 for power, reliability, and sound. All three of said cars are spiritual and literal successors to simply amazing hypercars from about 10-15 years ago.  The P1 is the successor to the legendary McLaren F1 of the late 1990’s.  The 918 replaces the controversial Carrera GT, the car that Paul Walker and Roger Rodas died in late last year.  The LaFerrari replaces the stunning Enzo, named for Enzo Ferrari, the founder of Ferrari.  But, we aren’t going to be talking THAT much about the LaFerrari’s rivals. The seats are bolted directly to the carbon fiber tub, which means that they are not adjustable.  Ferrari tailors seat padding for each and every customer and their passenger.  A small lever does move the pedals fore and aft.  The flat-bottomed steering wheel adapted from the Ferrari 458 Italia Speciale telescopes and moves up and down.  The LCD screen that is the speedometer and tachometer has a 9000 RPM redline, but the engine will briefly go to 9250 RPM. The V12 engine is pulled from the F12 Berlinetta, which means that it displaces 6.3 liters, and puts out a shriek like nothing of this world.  It trades low-end power for a higher redline (the F12 stops revving at 8250 RPM, and the LaFerrari stops revving at 9000).  It also makes 58 more horsepower (731 versus 789).  The 161-horsepower electric motor that is bolted to the back of the equally fabulous seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission kicks in at low speeds and when the engine hits redline.  There is no EV mode, as Ferrari estimates that the range from the batteries is under 6 miles, and Ferrari has no plans of adding more batteries or EV range. With a combined 950 horsepower, this car is more far more powerful than the 903-horsepower P1 or the 887-horsepower 918 Spyder.  This means that the Launch button looks pretty dang tantalizing.  Ferrari claims 0-60 in under 3 seconds, but won’t allow any major automotive media publications to gather data. A nice touch is the small plaque at the bottom of the steering wheel, which allows owners to put whatever they want onto it.  The steering should be quick, as Ferrari says that the steering wheel will turn just under two turns lock-to-lock.  That’s on par with an F1 car.  Yet another Ferrari first is the electromechanical steering.  That basically means that an electric motor boosts the steering in addition to the power booster. The rear wing moves up and down, yet Ferrari claims that it shouldn’t impede driver rearview visibility too terribly much.  The flaps at the front of the hood lift up when the brakes are applied.  Combine those two flaps with the rear wing, and the car can generate up to 800 pounds of downforce at 125 mph. The LaFerrari also has an active exhaust system.  This means that there is a series of flaps inside of the mufflers to mute the noise when you’re not digging into the throttle.  When you get into the throttle, the valves stay open for more noise.  Another bonus – the electric motor’s high-pitched whine is drowned out by the wail of the V12! Yet another added bonus is the fact that every single piece of electronics in the LaFerrari don’t interfere with the driver, which means that the driver can drive as fast as they want to (on a track!) without having to fight all of the nannies.  That’s a problem with most new cars.  Give a driver a car with nannies that they have to fight, and it can lead to a horrible driving experience.

Ferrari LaFerrari Drift

Ferrari LaFerrari

 

 

Paul Walker, the Star of the Fast and Furious Franchise, is Dead

The Fast and Furious franchise co-star, Paul Walker, is dead at age 40.  Paul Walker was riding in the passenger seat of his friend’s 2005 Porsche Carrera GT.  Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials say that speed was clearly a factor in the death of Walker and his friend.  Walker’s friend, Roger Rodas, also died in the crash.  They were travelling at a high rate of speed, lost control of the car, hit a light post, and the car burst into flames.

Walker was riding in the passenger seat of Rodas’ 2005 Porsche Carrera GT for a quick spin after his charity event for the Philippines relief effort, when the car crashed about 500 yards away from the charity event.  About one minute after the horrific crash, the car burst into flames that would have made it impossible for Rodas or Walker to escape.  A preliminary autopsy report from the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office stated that Paul Walker did not die from the trauma from the crash, it was the flames that killed him.  It is not known whether Rodas died immediately, or if he died the same way as Walker.  A full coroner’s report released in 6-8 weeks will tell what killed both men.

Walker was not married, but he had a 15-year-old daughter.  His father, Paul Walker, Sr. declined to comment to CNN and FOX News about the status of Walker’s daughter, Meadow Walker.

I will give you a brief biography on Paul Walker’s acting career:  His first movie was Monster in the Closet, but his breakthrough happened with Varsity Blues.  When he started the Fast and Furious movies, he and Vin Diesel became icons.  Hollywood is stunned at Walker’s death.  Vin Diesel, the co-star of the Fast and Furious franchise, said “I will always love you Brian, as the brother you were… on and off screen.”  Diesel gave a public address at the crash site by using the public address system from a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy car.

The car, the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, is notoriously difficult to handle.  It has a top speed of 208 mph, an engine that revs to almost 10,000 RPMs, and it has over 600 horsepower, according to Eddie Alterman, Editor-in-Chief of Car & Driver Magazine.  Alterman stated, “This was not a car for novices.  Acutally, the Carrera GT program began as a racing program.”

Todd Trimble, an exotic car mechanic based out of Las Vegas, Nevada, said the car is very hard to drive.  “It’s (a) pure racer’s car.  You really need to know what you’re doing when you drive them.  And a lot of people are learning the hard way.”

Brand new, the car cost $450,000, and it’s becoming extremely expensive to maintain.  An oil change alone costs $900, according to Trimble.

Because the high-revving V10 is in the middle of the car, the car is extremely agile, and turns much quicker than a car with a front or rear-mounted engine.  Eddie Alterman, who had originally driven the Carrera GT at it’s debut in 2003, said “The Carrera GT is able to change direction very quickly, much like a race car.  It was beyond a super car.  It is what we call a hyper car.”

Randy Pobst, one of my favorite race car drivers (I had the opportunity to meet him at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where I was invited to watch Randy drive around the track in a SRT Viper and Chevy Corvette ZR-1), coached the Fast and Furious crew for the second movie.  “Stability control is really good at correcting slides, keeping the car from getting out of shape.”  The Carrera GT doesn’t have stability control, so it has an unforgiving reputation.  He said that “Paul was by far the best driver — a natural car guy.”

The Carrera GT has a steep learning curve.  It doesn’t have many electronic nannies to help correct drifts and slides.  It also delivers power at extremely high RPMs, as well as a manual transmission.  This means that you have to constantly rev the engine and blip the throttle to shift without stalling.  That’s not a problem on a racetrack, but it certainly is in day-to-day driving.

Since the Carrera GT was a failed racing program from the late 1990s, it was designed to crumple around the driver, and not injure the driver.  With Walker and Rodas’ case, they were probably going too fast for the car to save them.

Paul Walker was known as an extremely generous, loving, kind man who felt that everybody was his family, and that everybody deserved a second chance.  He was a gearhead from Day 1, and he amassed a car collection that anybody would be proud of.  Paul Walker, Sr. declined to comment on the status of the car collection.  He stated, “”Every now and then I’ll really break down. Talking really seems to help…there’s just such a tremendous amount of stories,” he shared. “I was just told that my son gave a marine a diamond ring to give to a gal he was going to marry. I never heard that story. He did stuff like that all the time.”

Paul Walker, Jr., you will be remembered as a cool-headed, kindly individual.  Your legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of every car and movie enthusiast, as well as your friends and family.  Your untimely death was extremely sad, but we will learn to cope.  I wish your family and friends well.  To those of you that knew Paul as a brother, friend, co-actor, or even a business acquaintance, my thoughts go out to you at this grief-stricken time.

Roger Rodas, you were a good friend to many, as well as a fellow petrolhead.  You will be remembered as a level-headed, caring individual, who had a head for saving the Earth, racing, business, and helping other people.  My thoughts go out to your friends, family, and those you helped.  You were considered a friend to many, including those you helped.