Saturday, 26 February 2011

Supercar Saturday!!

Disclaimer: These images were taken from Jalopnik and I do not claim ownership of them

This second edition of Supercar Saturday is very special. Why? Because these leaked images show the all-new Lamborghini V12.

Friday, 25 February 2011

This Is Quite Possibly The Coolest Car In The World.

These days the car world is full of "retro throwbacks". Volkswagen came up with the (rubbish) New Beetle, BMW had a stab at making a Mini, Fiat recently reinvented the Cinquecento (500), and the Big 3 over in Detroit have all brought back cars from their glory days (GT40, '60s Mustang, Challenger, '60s Camaro, etc.). But none of them hold a candle to the latest retro product, this time from ancient British sports car company Morgan.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

MINI Rocketman Concept Finally Gets It Right

This new concept finally points BMW's mis-led sub-brand in the light direction.

I must admit, I have a huge rant about BMW MINI saved on my computer, going on about how they've completely missed the point of the original Mini and focussed on making an overpriced retro fashion item that isn't light or space-efficient enough to be a proper Mini, and how the Countryman and terribly-named upcoming 3-Door "Paceman" SUV are an absolute insult to the original car, not deserving in any way of the winged badge and merely the equivalent of Apple making a massive iPod Touch (or the "iPad", as it's known, presumably because it's more suppourtive and absorbant than an iPod), in that they only exist because fashion sheep will buy them. Totally unsentimental and a cynical marketing ploy. Alas, said rant will never see the light of day, partly because I just summed it up in one paragraph, but also because MINI just released images and info about this baby-faced concept for the Geneva Motor Show next week, called the Rocketman.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Modified Supercars Are A Travesty

Ferrari 458 by Novitec Rosso
When Nissan released the GT-R (R35) in late 2007, they marketed it as a bona fide supercar, separating it from the street-racer Skylines of old and making it more upmarket. They also tried to make it "untuneable", because that's not what Nissan wanted people to do with it now it's a supercar. Trouble is, Nissan, that people tune those nowadays as well...

Small Block Tuesday!!

My first ever second edition, as it were, this Tuesday it's another lump of Detroit iron, only this time from Ford, in the shape of the Ford GT's 'Modular' engine.

An all-aluminium, highly specialised version of the 5.4L Modular engine, the GT's Modular unit has a dry-sump with a Lysholm screw-type supercharger, as well as numerous technological features (such as dual fuel injectors per cylinder and oil squirters for the piston skirts) that are not found in other versions.

Ford Modular V8 4-Valve DOHC

Displacement: 5408cc / 330ci

Aspiration: 1x Twin-Screw Supercharger

Power: 550bhp / 410kW

Torque: 500lb/ft / 678NM

Cars Of Note: Ford GT (2005-6), Mustang GT500*, Mustang SVT Cobra R*, Falcon FPV GT*

*specifications differ in these cars

Monday, 21 February 2011

"Growler E 2011" by Vizualtech Celebrates 50 Years of the Ultimate Pussy... Cat.

The Jaguar E-Type (or XK-E if you're American) first debuted in 1961, which was 50 years ago. Its descendant, the XK, is all very lovely - especially with a new 5.0-litre V8 in either NA (XK8) or supercharged (XKR) form - but the E-Type still remains the daddy, regarded by some as the sexiest and most beautiful car of all time. First available with a 3.8 (later a 4.2) litre straight-6 before sprouting a V12 in 1971, it lasted 14 years and is still highly sought after today. Some argue that it should have been a James Bond car, and it often contests the DB5 (of Goldfinger fame) for the title of the Coolest Car Of The 1960s in magazines and blogs. Of course, with modern safety regulations and so on, it would be nigh-on impossible to produce the same car now (although there are some organisations that restore an old one to a modern spec), so Bo Zolland of Vizualtech Design teamed up with Swiss designer Robert Palm and did the next best thing: they imagined a modern-age equivalent, dubbed the "Growler E 2011".

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Supercar Saturday!!

Welcome to Supercar Saturday, a new feature that exists purely due to alliteration (and because smallblocks are for Tuesdays). This Saturday it's the most recently released supercar, the McLaren MP4-12C. The mouthy name is supposed to be the code that McLaren uses for all its roadcars henceforth. According to McLaren's lengthy Press Release, It breaks down like so:
  • 'MP4' has been the chassis designation for all McLaren Formula 1 cars since 1981. It stands for McLaren Project 4, resulting from the merger of Ron Dennis' Project 4 organisation with McLaren.
  • The '12' refers to McLaren's internal Vehicle Performance Index through which it rates key performance criteria both for competitors and for its own cars. The criteria combine power, weight, emissions, and aerodynamic efficiency. The coalition of all these values delivers an overall performance index that has been used as a benchmark throughout the car's development.
  • The 'C' refers to Carbon, highlighting the unique application of carbon fibre technology to the future range of McLaren sports cars.
Lovely, but couldn't you have put a word on the end too? Something like the McLaren MP4-12C "Brooklands", or the 12C "Goodwood", perhaps take a leaf out of Ferrari's book and call it the 12C Britannia, or the McLaRon? Maybe not the last one. Oh well, for know we'll just have to shorten it to "Twelve-C".

I won't go on at length - I've been doing too much of that - but this has some serious tech on board, such as a "Carbon MonoCell" (the black bit in the above image that isn't a seat) one-piece carbon fibre tub that weighs only 75kg, the lightweight Seamless Shift gearbox that eliminates that brief pause during a gear change, a V8TT (McLaren's first road car engine) with the highest horsepower-per-CO2 of any combustion engine ever, hybrid or otherwise. That makes this orange supercar greener than a Toyota Prius! Sort of.

Basic Specs

0-60: 3.3 seconds (3.1s with optional sports tyres)

Top Speed: 205mph

Engine: McLaren "M838T" 3.8 litre Twin-Turbo V8

Power/Torque/CO2: 600PS (592bhp) / 443lb/ft / 279g/km

Weight: 1336kg (1301kg with "Lightweight Options")

Price (UK): £168,500 + optional extras

Was Jeremy Clarkson Right About Supercars?

I was watching Dave the other day and saw the final episode to Series 13 of TopGear (not one of their best series, to be honest), in which The Tall One drives the Aston Martin V12 Vantage - essentially the AMV8 with a DBS engine shoehorned in, uprated brakes/suspension and sticky tyres - and declares that "What I'm driving here... is an ending". But is it, though? Really?

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Small Block Tuesday!!

It's Tuesday and I just realised I haven't posted anything about the engine that gave this blog its name: the Small Block V8. So it's now a feature! Welcome to Small Block Tuesdays.

This week it's a biggie: the GM LS9.

Displacement: 6162cc / 376 cubic inches.

Aspiration: 1 Roots-Type Supercharger (Eaton four-lobe)

Power: 638bhp (476kW) @ 6500rpm

Torque: 604lb/ft (747NM) @ 3800rpm

Cars Of Note: Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (C6) [2009-present]

Lotus Is Going Down The Crapper

Mansory Evora...
At the Paris Motor Show last year, Lotus unveiled that it was to have a new beginning. A fresh start. A makeover... one where they aren't Lotus at all.

As any car fan will tell you, Lotus founder and utter genius Colin Chapman (R.I.P) had a philosophy, and said philosophy is "Simplify and add lightness". The cars he made reflected this, from the no-frills-at-all Lotus Seven of the 1950s/60s/70s/80s/90s/00s/10s (built by Caterham since 1973) to the Exige S and 2-Eleven of today. Lotus was also a pioneer in F1, frequently at the very front of both technological advances and the rest of the grid. Most Lotuses (or Lotii, whichever you prefer), are regarded as fantastic drivers cars, with the more recent Elise (1996 -) considered one of the very best and the benchmark for all small MR sports cars. Even the new Evora is a great car - initially underpowered, but that problem has been solved with a new supercharger - blending world-renown Lotus handling with comfy seats and a level of luxury usually missing from the equation over at Hethel, Norfolk.

It may, however, be the last.

The Elite was a revolutionary sports car, then a four-seater GT shooting brake, now a chubby Ferrari California rival...

Lotus is now under new management, and while a lot of the new people have deeply impressive CVs spanning any major sports car company you care to mention, the cars they had come up with were very complicated and heavy. The exact opposite of Lotus's founding philsosphy. They will also cost a fortune in Lotus terms, and the badges that new CEO Dany Bahar revived are almost completely misplaced. Elan on a mid-engined car? Elite on a coupé-cabriolet? And what the hell is are 4-door car and a city car doing with a Lotus badge? This is not Lotus. They're just going to become "Premium Brand X" and sell to the sheiks and lazy poseurs. The worst crime? All but the Elise replacement will be auto-only (and the Elise only gets a manual for sentimental reasons, possibly the only sentiment left at Lotus). The world's finest purveyor of driver's cars will soon do away with the driver's transmission, thus moving the driver a big step away from the whole "driving" business.

Put simply, Lotus will soon be dead. Using the same name will be Proton's new sports brand, trying to take on just about every prestige brand going, not by beating them, but by becoming one of them. It won't be an easy or dignified death either, because, as you can see atop the first paragraph, they've just teamed up... with Taste's Nemesis.

Mansory is, without question or shadow of doubt, the worst abomination ever to happen to the world of prestige cars. And are Lotus avoiding them? Ignoring them? No, they're joining forces with them! And this is "only a toe in the water". I can't be the only one who wants to cut off that toe. With scissors. Blunt ones. Made of sand paper. Bleeding venom. While laughing maniacally.

I understand that they're a business like any other and they need to survive. I know that every car gets heavier with a new generation (although surely a lightweight sports car shouldn't gain 125kg in one go?), but it's the attitude, the lack of manual, the ignorance of Dany Bahar, who actually said of a beloved small sports car company "We are only interested in profit", round about the time he said "I'm not a car guy"...

This is a company kept alive by fans and enthusiasts. Alienating them to become a generic prestige brand is a stupid thing to do. There are other ways to reinvigorate Lotus, and they would've gone down a LOT better...

Monday, 14 February 2011

Pagani Huayra - Supercar 2.0

Front view. Note the gullwing doors, a first for Pagani
I think it only right to christen my new blog with this car, as it is also a new beginning. In fact, this is quite possibly the most exciting supercar - and therefore the most exciting car - of 2011.

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Yes, that's right, I get the first post. Throughout the entire history of this blog, it will always be true that I got here before you did. Even if you're Jesus, or you drive a modified DeLorean and tried posting seconds before I did. But what's the obsession with getting the first post? Why do some people act so pleased that they just so happened to click Comment before someone else? Perhaps these are the people that used to shout "Race you to the swings!!" and then go charging off without even looking to see if you're chasing them? The sort of people that race you at the lights in their Vauxhall Corsas when you're just trying to get home? The sort of-- oh, you get the idea...

I must admit that when I first started commenting, I did get excited at getting there first, especially when it was something I really wanted to say, rather than just typing "FIRST!!!!1" and clicking send in hope, only to come second. At 19, however, I like to think I've outgrown it.

But whatever, this blog isn't going to just be light internet satire, because if it was, it would suck. This blog will be mostly about cars, hence the car-based pun in the name and the disassembled engine in the background (which, if you were wondering, is the 550bhp 6.2 litre "LSA" supercharged small-block V8 - get it now? - from the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, which, at the time of writing, was unveiled mere days ago). There'll be a mix of news, spy shots of exciting new cars and personal opinions and rants. And, just possibly, some sprinklings of light internet satire.

I hope you enjoy the articles that follow. The site will be updated at precisely... every now and then. I'll aim for 3 times a week.