Why a Rare Porsche Will Top $1.5 Million at Auction

While you could say that just about any Porsche 959 is a stunning car, this one is just an absolute neck-turner.  It’s black over carmel brown, and it’s one of only three made in this color combination.  Talk about rare.

Porsche only made 337 959’s from 1986-1989.  Each and every single one of them is still a technological tour-de-force, but when they came out, there was truly nothing else like it on the road.

The car that I’m talking about is a 1988 model, and it could be yours, should you be going to the Gooding & Company Pebble Beach auction in August.  It’s sale price is estimated to be between $1.6-1.8 million, which, if proved accurate, will only reflect the voracious appetite for collectible Porsches like this.

The Porsche 959 remains one of the most technologically-advanced and interesting supercars ever built.  Up until recently, they were a rare, astonishing sight in the US, due to the idiotic, bureaucratic import laws that the US has.  Why?  Because only 50 out of the 329-337 (production numbers vary, depending on who you ask at Porsche) built between 1986-1989 came to the US.  However, since the bulk of 959’s were built before 1988, the import laws are completely open on them, meaning that you can drive them legally on US roads without fear of the car getting crushed and you getting massive fines.  This is very good news for American car enthusiasts and collectors.

Gooding & Company is calling this car a “Komfort” model, which means that it’s the road-going version of the 959.  Komfort was Porsche’s way of differentiating the road-going 959 from the “Sport” version of the 959, which raced in everything from rally to endurance racing.  The Komfort cars were powered by a 444-horsepower, twin-turbocharged, 2.8-liter flat six-cylinder engine that was connected to a six-speed manual (most cars at the time still had four-speed manuals – a six-speed was simply out of this world).  It was completely ahead of its time in terms of speed, technology and handling.

“Car & Driver” recorded a smoking 3.6-second 0-60 run, and somehow had the cojones to get it all the way up to 190 mph.  Porsche says that the car has the potential to hit 205 mph, so it seems obvious that “Car & Driver” just didn’t have the nerve…That being said, the 190 mph that they recorded held their top speed record until 1997 and the McLaren F1.

What made the car so revolutionary was the fact that it had electronically-controlled AWD. The only other production car to use electronically-controlled AWD was the Audi Quattro, which started using the system back in the mid-1980s.  This system could distribute torque depending on the dynamic load on each wheel.  It could also be locked at a fixed torque split.

I’ve never quite seen such a beautiful Porsche, and while I’ve never seen a 959 in person, this is an absolute stunner.  The 959 is high up on my automotive bucket list, and this one only elevates it to be alongside other legendary cars like the Pagani Huayra, Dodge Daytona, Ford GT40, and Shelby Cobra, among others.

I’ve attached the link to the car from Gooding & Company for you to look at.  There are very few details on it, but they will be available closer to the auction date (think late July).  http://www.goodingco.com/vehicle/1988-porsche-959-komfort-2/

If you can’t afford that much, there is a beautiful 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS Lightweight at the same auction that is estimated to go for $1.0-1.2 million.  I’ve attached the link for it also.  If you have the means, I highly recommend buying both and driving the wheels off of them.  Cars like these are meant to be driven.  http://www.goodingco.com/vehicle/1973-porsche-911-carrera-2-7-rs-lightweight-3/#tab1

This is the 959 coming up for sale in August.  It's beautiful.
This is the 959 coming up for sale in August. It’s beautiful.

Blancfleet Hopes to Be the Supercar Version of ZipCar!

Blancfleet, a New York City-based supercar-rental company, is really, really cool.  While most of us can’t afford to buy a supercar, let alone drive one for a day or more, Blancfleet makes driving one for an extended period of time possible by using a timeshare program very much like ZipCar.  Blancfleet founder Charles Polanco says that “Blancfleet aims to become the next ZipCar,” though your average ZipCar drop-off point likely won’t have a Nissan GT-R, Pagani Huayra, or Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse.  Many supercar rental companies charge fees that would give even Bill Gates a nightmare.  Blancfleet, however, uses crowdfunding to get the large fees one normally sees down to (relatively) sane levels.  As Blancfleet stated in May, the company actually BUYS the cars, rather than leasing the cars from the automaker for a certain period of time.  Most other supercar rental companies lease the cars for three years so they can get the new versions when they come out.  Blancfleet allows each car a certain amount of rental hours per year, and money made from these hourly rental periods is used to pay for the cars (just like ZipCar).

ZipCar has become wildly popular with urbanites who don’t want the hassle of having to own a car.  With ZipCar, you rent a car for a certain amount of hours, go to a designated drop-off and pick-up point, and the car is waiting for you.  ZipCar users pay the fee either electronically or on-site through a ZipCar representative.  Paperwork is filled out online once unless something personal changes.  ZipCar is marginally more expensive than renting a car through, say, Hertz, because the insurance costs are built into the rental fee.

Back to Blancfleet.  Blancfleet knows that it can be extremely difficult to obtain insurance to rent a supercar.  The potential damage that could happen to any given supercar in the Blancfleet fleet could easily eclipse the average price of a house or condominium.  For the renter of the car, liability insurance can only cover so much, except in rare instances.  The massive deposits required by many other supercar rental firms mean that even a scratch on a given rented supercar could cost the renter thousands of dollars.  To make the rental process more attractive, Blancfleet self-insures all of it’s cars – all costs are mushed into the rental fee, and the risk of damage is spread through the hundreds of people who have crowdfuned Blancfleet.  This means that renting a supercar through Blancfleet is far less expensive than renting it through the Hertz Dream Car fleet.

Of course, renting a supercar and cheap don’t exactly rhyme.  If you want to drive around New York City in a Bugatti Veyron or cruise the streets of Fort Lauderdale in a Pagani Huayra, you’ll have to cough up $1,325 and $1,040 an hour, respectively.  That is, once enough people pledge enough hours to afford the car’s $1 million+ dollar price tags.  However, you could have a LOT of time in a $83-an-hour Nissan GT-R, or even a $204-an-hour Ferrari 458 Italia.  Both the GT-R and the Ferrari are already in Blancfleet’s fleet.  But, the important thing is that you’ll be able to rent a Pagani Huayra or Bugatti Veyron – that is, if you skip the bills for a month (or three).  Plus, you’ll feel like a million bucks driving it around!  Or, you could just stop daydreaming and head over to Blancfleet’s website at https://blancfleet.com/Home.aspx and sign yourself up for a rental period.  Just let me know when you do.  Sign-up looks to be pretty straightforward and quick, so do it NOW!

The current Blancfleet fleet includes:  Mercedes-Benz S550, Tesla Model S, Lamborghini Gallardo, Mercedes-Benz G550, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, Porsche 911, and a Nissan GT-R.  Prices for the cheapest vehicle – the GT-R start at $83 an hour.  Blancfleet has not yet bought the Veyron or the Huayra, but is planning to do so soon.  Until then, you’ll have to settle for something equally as cool – the Tesla Model S.

Blancfleet is currently only based in New York City, but is currently building a Blancfleet drop-off and pick-up office in Fort Lauderdale.

 

 

Does the New 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 Have What it Takes to Rule It’s Class?

Let me know in the comments section if you think that the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 can become the car that can rule the uber-luxury class.  I think it can, but then again, Mercedes usually does!

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class can sometimes go seven or eight years beforeinstituing a major refresh, redesign, or mechanical overhaul.  But, it usually leads in terms of sales and looks.  The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class upholds that tradition, and it will likely be sold in droves – for a while.  Then, all of the competing automakers will make newer, nicer, and possibly better cars.  This segment is competitive.  Currently, the S-Class, Lexus LS460, and Cadillac XTS are the segment sales leaders.  The S-Class is likely to blow all of it’s competitors out of the water.  It is just that good.

It is loaded with features that will make your jaw drop.  This car isn’t yet another ordinary businessperson special with a cave-like interior.  It will drive itself.  Really, it will!  It won’t drive itself completely, but it is semi-autonomous!  It uses stereo cameras to guide it along the road.  The name is awesome, as well:  Traffic Jam Assist.  No, it won’t send all of the rubberneckers to the grave.  Only their own stupidity will do that.   To activate this marvelous system, simply hold the brake pedal down while stationary, flick the Distronic (MBZ speak for cruise control) lever down, and give it gas.  It will take you up to 37 mph.  The cruise control is then set for up to 37 mph.  It will follow the car ahead of you simply, smartly, and efficiently.  It will do that until your speed increases or you take control of the steering wheel and pedals.  Above 37 mph, it will still guide itself.  Kind of.  It will handle itself up to 125 mph, and it can bring itself to a complete stop at any speed if need be.  Those stereo cameras are also able to read the lines in the road, and keep the plump S-Class in between those lines without any driver input.  Above 37 mph, if you keep your hands off of the steering wheel for more than 10 seconds, then a loud BEEEEEP will sound, along with a flashing graphic instruction, until you place your hands on the wheel.  But, that’s just Mercedes-Benz’s lawyers telling you to be a good driver.  As long as you don’t take the S550 on any places where there aren’t any lines in the road (i.e. tracks and gravel roads), this car will take a person places where he/she has never gone before, all by itself.

There’s other zany technology stuffed into this car.  Take the badly named Magic Body Control that is an optional active suspension feature.  If you choose to order this, then the four-wheel air suspension goes away, and is replaced by oil-over-coil shocks.  The “magic” part of that is that those same stereo cameras scan the road ahead to see if there is a pothole, a speed bump, or some roadkill.  Given the right situation, the Magic Body Control is effective in a way that is quite simply effective, in a spooky sort of way.  The result is one of the smoothest rides out there, this side of a Citroen or an old Buick Roadmaster.  When you put the car in “Sport” mode, Magic Body Control is switched off, so you can hurtle around curves and crash and bang over the smallest road imperfections.  But, that’s what makes the car so enjoyable to drive.

In the unlikely event that you will be in an accident, you will survive just about any crash.  For those of you riding in the backseat (the place to be), there are inflatable seat belts.   When the rear door is opened, the seat belt buckle receiver visibly rises.  This is probably because most customers (think China) don’t wear their seat belts in the back seat.  Once they buckle up for safety, the buckle will retract a few inches into the seat, therefore cinching the seat belt across their hips so they do not slide under the seat belt in a crash.  Speaking of accidents, there’s a feature that will make any safety-conscious parent happy.  It’s called Pre-Safe Plus.  It actively and automatically prepares the car for a rear-end collision.  What the car does when it’s about to be rear-ended (it has seven rear-facing cameras), it tightens all of the seatbelts (even if they’re not in use), applies the brakes completely, and, BAM.  Applying the brakes for a full-ABS stop seems counter-intuitive, but it’s safer to not be moving when you’re hit.  It can also “see” pedestrians and other cars.  It reacts differently to both.  When it sees a car cutting in front of it, the brakes are applied for a full-ABS stop.  When it sees a pedestrian, the brakes are applied much earlier and gentler.

Even though it’s got enough technology in it to make a computer scientist have a heart attack, one of the best advances is in the interior.  It’s truly the first German interior to really stand out from the British luxury brands (Bentley, Rolls Royce, Jaguar).  Leather and wood gracefully snake their way throughout the stellar cabin.  The interior designer said that these designs were influenced by swan wings.  Let’s call this new technique “swanning,” okay?  If You own the outgoing generation of the S-Class, you will know about those four rectangular vents on the dashboard.  Six neat, circular vents have replaced them.  Combine that with the clock, and the seven circles (vaguely) resemble the pearls on a woman’s necklace.  I don’t ask.  The head designer of MBZ’s interiors said that from now on, all vents in a Mercedes-Benz car will be round.  I find it odd that the car that will be starting the round vent trend still has rectangular vents in the back.  One other fun interior flourish are the speaker grilles for the Burmester audio system.  They are covered in an impossibly complex pattern of tiny holes of varying sizes.  If you have trypophobia, don’t look at it.  For me, it becomes ever more fascinating when I look at the pictures.

The mechanical parts of the car are relatively unchanged.  The seven-speed automatic is still their, as is the 5.5-liter, twin turbo V8.  Power, however is better.  It has been uprated from 429 horsepower to a more powerful 455 horsepower.  Torque is the same at 516 lb-ft of torque.

Overall, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 is the car to be measured against for full-size luxury.  It’s powerful, it’s loaded with technology that will take it’s competitors years to catch up with, it’s beautiful, and it’s got German engineering.  And German reliability.  I want one.  I won’t ask my readers.  I know the answer.  And it’s not yes.