TO: Dany Bahar, CEO Group Lotus
At last years Paris Auto Show, you shocked the automotive world in announcing five all new models – an industry first. As a long-time fan and former Lotus owner, I was ecstatic to see a bold statement from a company long mired in the status quo. Sure, there have been some hits (Evora) and some misses (Europa), but nothing that has changed the game for Lotus. While SAAB faltered in a crumbling economy, I along with millions of others, cringed, fearing that Lotus would come next. Something had to be done!
Other companies have been there… Porsche re-invented themselves in 1996 with the release of a back to basics roadster, and again in 2003 with their entry into the SUV market. Porsche did not change their identity, they applied their core values to new segments of product. Today, they offer class-defining vehicles ranging from a $48,000 Boxster to the forthcoming $845,000 918 Spyder. Porsche ‘s success can be attributed to many factors, but one matters most – the product was always fantastic. In this world, you have to be the best or the least expensive – if you exist in the murky middle zone, you had better do tremendous volume. And thus, the crux of my issue with the Lotus five-year plan. You cannot out-Ferrari Ferrari, beat Porsche, or stun Lamborghini, not with the cars you displayed in Paris! Why? I have seen your speculative pricing, and as for your competitive set… man, you have a steep mountain to climb. If the writing on the wall is legitimate, Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini will utilize lightweight materials in lieu of furthering the horsepower wars. Don’t you see it? You lucked into a win, they are trying to meet you in the middle; meanwhile, you are flipping the company upside down to compete with their current products.
There are certain undeniable truths in life. For me, one of them is clear – I am not a “Corvette guy”. Oh, how I’ve tried. On paper, this is the best performance car reasonable money can buy. And yet, with all of the good stacked solidly against me, the small pile of bad outweighs it all. The emotional connection so important in choosing a car is immediately dashed the second I think about owning a Corvette. Funny, as there may not be a car infused with more passion from the factory. Corvettes are constructed in the heart of the USA by a group of people proud to be building them. Talk to any Corvette owner, and they will wax poetic about how Corvettes are an obsession, a lifestyle in the tradition of Harley Davidson and … errr… Apple? So why will I never own one?
Pasadena’s famous Rose Bowl played host to Bimmerfest yesterday, and I was there with my shaky camera skills to capture the action. I will keep the verbiage brief, as an event is best described through imagery. That said, I give this years entrants a B to B+… some fantastic vehicles were on display, however, it was a challenge to find builds that truly moved the game forward.
Twenty-eight. That is a lot of anything… think about it. Twenty-eight bottles of beer on the wall takes quite a bit of singing; and twenty-eight Golden Retrievers could make for a lot of sh… shedding. As an unapologetic Porsche owner & enthusiast, it is tough to admit that twenty-eight variations of the current generation 911 might be too much of a good thing.
The proliferation of the Porsche line-up has made for an order guide nearing the thickness of a Cheesecake Factory menu. For example, you would think a snow belt buyer would be hard pressed to find a year-round sports car… well look no further than your local Porsche dealership, as there are currently 12 all-wheel drive 911 variants. For the track minded consumer, it is hard to top the 997.2 generation GT3 & GT3RS. With gobs of power, options for center lock wheels and carbon ceramic brakes – these are impressive tools by anyone’s definition. However, Porsche recently announced that they will offer 600 GT3 RS models featuring a 500hp 4.0 liter motor, this after releasing a ballistic 620hp lightened GT2 RS (yes, a rear wheel drive 911 packing more power than the Carrera GT!). By the time I am finished writing, there may be an 80 calorie Carrera Lite for sale? Read more
What do the S2000 and the Dodo Bird have in common? Neither had any torque. Jokes aside, high revving NA motors have been a defining trait of so many fantastic Japanese sports cars. From bi-polar cam profiles in the famous VTEC, to boosted 4 pots – enthusiasts have been gifted some of the lightest, best handling, most ballistic & affordable products aimed at the enthusiast market from the far East. And yet, the past decade has seen Japanese OEM’s walking, no running away from us and turning their focus exclusively to people movers. Read more
In kicking off my dream garage, I had to start in the most logical place – with my favorite car of all time. In doing so, I selected the seemingly perfect Mclaren F1. As the mighty Mac currently trades for more than $3,000,000, and most of them sit in temperature controlled vaults – it is difficult to picture a scenario ending with me behind an F1’s carbon fiber wheel. Certainly, in compiling this drool inducing list, there will be more fantasy world hyper-exotica, but for spot #2, I run in an entirely different direction, and bestow my pick on something just a bit different.
Picture this car: 3,500 lbs, 380 HP & 325 lb ft of bone crushing torque… Recaro’s, floating rotors at front & rear, and it only comes with a 3 pedal setup. Any guesses? Read more
It is my favorite car of all time. That is saying a lot considering one important fact… I have never driven one, and more than likely never will.
I love every last detail of the Mclaren F1, from it’s long list of innovations, to its record breaking pace and central driving position. This is a machine built with a singular purpose, a cost is no object quest to create the worlds premier four wheeled speed instrument. The McLaren is not a supercar in the modern tradition. When I first encountered one, a perfect silver example in the Park Lane, London showroom – I was in awe of it’s minute stature. To put it in perspective, the Mclaren hypercar is as wide as a new Porsche Boxster… and shorter by 3 inches. Not enough? The carbon monocoque chassis seats 3 adults, packs a 6.1 liter BMW V12 kicking out an insane 627 hp, goes more than 240 mph in a straight line, and weighs only 500 lbs more than an S2 Lotus Elise. I feel the point needs repeating… 627 hp… smaller than a Boxster… and weightless by comparison. Read more
Does anyone like the Panamera? You know… just “like” it? Having experienced the car for nearly two years, it seems to divide opinion like chocolate vs. vanilla. People are either adamantly in it’s corner, loving it’s pace, massive road presence and techno overload or hate it; screaming about it’s weight and controversial design. With the urban commando Cayenne and boulevard cruising Panamera, has Porsche donned a leather jacket and jumped the proverbial shark? Though not a Porsche in the traditional sense, a strand of DNA connects the Panny to the 911, it is indeed a thin strand – perhaps a third cousin, once removed… but the lineage cannot be denied. I believe in a world where the GT3 RS and Panamera can coexist… one must not be hated for the other to be loved, and in fact, the two cars would make fantastic stable mates. Without further justifying the Panamera’s existence, I will go on record and acknowledge that I love the car – but that’s only because I have lived with one. Read more
It started on a school bus in late 1994, as I played my usual car-spotting game, I caught a glimpse of a bright yellow object closing in fast… it got bigger, bigger, and then flew by with a high pitched (yet somehow deep) exotic wail. I had seen my first E36 M3… it looked so muscular and special. I think that’s the word that comes to mind when I think of M3’s to this day… they are special.
For this, we step into the way back machine… all the way to the year 2003. Ah yes, the year iTunes arrived, the Do Not Call list was introduced, and America switched to Freedom Fries! I was browsing the transportation section of Border’s magazine rack and there it was… the Lotus Elise, the car I had fantasized about for years, was coming to America! I was elated, this was the one – a bantam weight exotic for $39,000, better yet, a Lotus that I could buy off the showroom floor. That weekend, I ran (literally, I lived in NYC at the time) to my local dealership and plunked down $1,500 for what turned out to be a top 5 spot on the waiting list. Then, the wait began… days turned to weeks, weeks into months, months into a year and a half! Read more