So this whole controversy has erupted over whether Pagani “cheated” to get the Top Gear lap record. In the first episode of the new season the Pagani Huayra managed a lap time of 1:12.8, the fastest they’ve ever had. Now, in order for the lap to count, a car must be road legal. Clarkson defines this as “being able to get over a speed bump”, but it also applies to a car having street legal tires. People noticed that, during the lap, the Huayra’s tires had a different tread pattern than those you see above, and indeed the tires do look sort of similar to the track spec tires seen on a Zonda R.
Jalopnik reached out to Pagani for comment. Because Pagani is full of good people, unlike other companies, they responded nicely, and admitted that two separate tires had been used for the Top Gear shoot. Pagani maintained that the tires used for the lap are indeed street legal, though. Pagani has a very close relationship with Pirelli, and helps them to develop new tires. The general consensus, at this point, is that the Huayra was on street-legal versions of the Zonda R’s racing slicks, tires that were custom made for Pagani. So yes, Pagani did use better than standard tires for the winning lap, but they were street legal, if only just.
My opinion is that, so long as the tires used were street legal, then the lap should stand. Quite plainly, it is the responsibility of any automaker sending a press car to a big show, like Top Gear, to ensure their car is prepared in a manner that will give the best showing possible for their audience. Pagani was really just doing their job here, and doing it well, I might add. They pushed the rules, but they didn’t brake them, and they wound up with the fastest lap time. That people, is how competitions have been won throughout all of time, and I applaud them for their thoughtful preparation. More to show us all that Pagani possesses an uncompromising commitment to excellence in their work, and not even press car logistics are allowed to be a routine motion. This is exactly why Pagani is my favorite.
Also, the way people are talking about this, you’d think it was some big, important scandal. Everyone is acting like its the F1 World Championship, and the winning driver cut a corner for a pass on the final lap. People, Top Gear is purely entertainment, and this is hardly any sort of serious legal matter. If the tires are legal, the time counts, if they’re found not to be, then I’m sure they will remove it. In the end, it was just a great episode, and a great moment when the Huayra won the top spot. Can’t we all just leave it at that?
Consumer Reports is great resource if you want to buy a washing machine or a TV. They aren’t, however, as good at giving relevant car advice. Their automotive incompetence was one of the factors that led me to work on my own rating system. The fact is that CR’s system would rate a bicycle higher than any car in production today. There is no concern for context, or relevancy in their ratings, and now it is evident that the same is true of their tests. Today they have claimed that small turbo engines are “not delivering on the promises” (link at bottom).
CR ran tests for observed MPG and 0-60mph on various cars, both turbo and naturally aspirated (N/A). Most cars tested were front wheel drive family sedans. From their tests they claim that cars with smaller turbo engines are less efficient and slower than similar naturally aspirated cars. After looking through the test myself I can tell you that CR’s findings are overly simplistic, and that the tests themselves were not comprehensive enough to make the bold claim that small turbo engines “don’t deliver”.
My reactions and issues with their findings are as follows:
I just saw Chris Harris’ new video on Drive where he informed us he had sold his Porsche GT3 RS 4.0 and had bought a Ferrari 599. While I understand his motives, this made me wonder if he had just made a financial mistake that he would regret for the rest of his life. I have talked to far too many people with the same story, “If only I had held onto that (now incredibly valuable car) I had back then…”. You see, looking forward I think that the 997 series of GT 911s may well be a pinnacle generation for Porsche, just as the 993s were, being the last air-cooled cars.
Rumors have been circulating that there will come a time when GT series 911s will no longer be available with a clutch pedal, and it could even happen soon with the 991. Porsche has already wet their feet in this approach with the 997 Turbo S, which was only offered with their PDK transmission. Paddle shift gearboxes have basically become the norm for high performance cars, and they are undoubtedly faster on the track. So, is there any reason to doubt these rumors? Unfortunately not, and that could make the 997 GTs some of the most sought after Porsches in the future.
This is especially so of the top spec RS models, cars that had very limited production. The GT2 RS and the GT3 RS 4.0 will command the highest amounts for sure, but I see more normal GT3 RSs and standard GT3s appreciating as well. Sure I expect the 991 GT3 RS to be faster and more powerful than the 997 RS 4.0, but without the manual it will never offer the same sort of experience. A similar situation can be seen today where 991 Carrera Ss match the power and performance of the old 993 Turbos, but the 993s still command the same money as a new 991 and will definitely continue to appreciate whereas the 991s will not.
Whenever there is a big change in the Porsche 911, enthusiasts tend to respond with skepticism and turn to the best of the old 911s with their money. It happened with the death of air-cooling, and I believe it will happen again with the death of the manual transmission. So if you are in the market comparing your options, it may be smarter to buy that GT3 RS, or GT2 instead of a Ferrari 430 or Lambo Gallardo right about now. We will see what happens, but you may thank me in a few years.
There have been two videos in the past few days about Pagani. One was JF Musial’s visit to the Pagani Factory for his segment on the Drive network, and the other was EVO Magazine’s video of the Zonda 760RS. The Drive video was more like a documentary and featured an interview with Horacio Pagani himself, offering a lot of valuable insight into Pagani Automobili, their values, and their history. Evo’s video was more targeted toward the Zonda 760RS specifically. It was one of the typical, somewhat quirky, Harry Metcalfe videos that fans have come to know and love. But Harry did a fantastic job of showing us what the 760RS is all about, and he made sure we could hear the car’s glorious soundtrack. The mix of these videos started me thinking about the Zonda specifically, and its significance in the world of cars. Read the rest of this entry »
Back in 2009, The Truth About Cars editor Jack Baruth wrote an article on how the Japanese auto industry is losing its heritage to the point where its products are a shell of what they used to be. He talked about how Honda had lost its roots as a maker of cars with flair and engineering excellence, and how Nissan and Toyota were becoming too close to one another on retail lots. He reposted it on their website (thetruthaboutcars.com) and I found it to still be relevant today. But, in these three years, a few things have changed in the market. My question is this: Does Baruth’s argument still hold water, and is there any more evidence to support his side of this debate? I took a look into what the market is like today, and there are arguments for both sides. Read the rest of this entry »
Evo Magazine, a British publication focused on the thrills and pleasures of driving, has been my favorite automotive medium ever since I picked up my first issue. They have a special sense about them of truly genuine enthusiasm for automobiles and driving. It is a magazine that focuses on how a car makes you feel rather than how many cup holders it has or how many centimeters of legroom you get in the back seat. I have basically grown up reading Evo, and I am perfectly in line with how they see cars as things to be experienced rather than just used in a mundane fashion. They also have some of the best photography seen in any automotive publication which just adds even more to their appeal. Read the rest of this entry »
Chris Harris wrote an article on Jalopnik concerning Ferrari a few months back (see link at below) and it stirred up many people within the world of cars. In short, he criticizes Ferrari for using underhanded tactics with journalists, specifically forcing them to disclose the details of the testing they will be doing so that Ferrari personnel can set the car up specifically for the test and the place it will be conducted in an effort to gain an advantage over the competition. I must applaud Mr. Harris for his courage in writing this article because as a journalist he will almost certainly be “blacklisted” by Ferrari, barring him from ever driving their press cars in the future. It is important to speak one’s mind, Mr. Harris has done a bang up job, and his article is by far the best thing on Jalopnik in recent times.
Have you read an article or seen a show that you had a response to (positive or negative)? I know I have. This section is for responses to articles written by the automotive press in any form. Let us and the world know what you think about what you have read/seen online, in magazines, or on TV. Just be sure to let us know what you are responding to via a link or a citation of some kind.
I just read Jalopnik this morning, and Mike Spinelli’s article comparing the Lexus LFA to the Jaguar XJ220 as a market failure, and there are some interesting similarities. Spinelli’s article was a reaction to an article on the motorathority.com by Nelson Ireson discussing the LFA’s market struggles alone. Ireson’s article compares the LFA to the likes of the similarly priced Lamborghini Aventador and Ferrari FF, which have both seen some huge demand. He also looks at the cars development to see if he believes the LFA was worth doing overall. Read their articles in the following links and read my take on the issue below. Read the rest of this entry »
The Mazda MX5 Miata is one of the most widely loved cars in the world, and it is loved by the masses. Chris Harris, a journalist from the UK whom I greatly respect, wrote his thoughts on the Miata in a recent article (link at bottom). In it he deeply criticizes the car and even goes so far as to say it is not a real sports car. Now, having myself recently just bought an old ’93 Miata off of a friend, I can relate to what Mr. Harris is talking about in some regards, but in others I have to disagree. Read the rest of this entry »