Tag Archives: British Cars

Amelia Island Concours d’ Elegance: McLaren F1

Mclaren F1 at Amelia Island
McLaren F1

The McLaren F1 is a legend among legends. Even at an event like the 2013 Amelia Island Concours d’ Elegance, where legendary cars are all around you, the F1 leaves a strong impression. It was the fastest production car in the world for more than a decade, and still holds the top speed record for a car without forced induction. On top of that record, the racing version, the F1 GTR, was extremely successful, and even won the Le Mans 24hrs outright in 1995. Gordon Murry’s brilliant, compact design is still quite ingenious by modern standards. With its 3 seat (center driver) layout, and dual storage compartments aft of the doors, the McLaren F1 remains far more practical than most modern supercars.

There hasn’t been anything quite like the F1 since it’s day. Of all the cars that have claimed to be an “Formula One car for the road”, the McLaren probably offered the closest experience to a Grand Prix car of its time. It is a true driver’s car, with no traction/stability control helping you to manage its 6.1L BMW V12. A mighty 627hp is sent to the rear wheels, and the car weighs just 2425lbs. The F1 is a car to be driven, not merely seen in, so Hollywood poseurs need not apply (Go get a Bugatti like everyone else).

This is only the fourth McLaren F1 I have had the pleasure to see in person. Its legendary status has surely grown over time, and will continue to grow as only 106 examples (road cars and race cars) were ever built. The F1 was the first car to cost over one million dollars brand new, and now it is worth three or four times that much. It’s value likely will only continue to appreciate, because it has a historical significance adding to its objective value as an incredible performance machine. Enjoy the gallery, and think to yourself, “Maybe one day…..”

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Spotted! Bentley Brooklands, Amelia Island, FL

Bentley Brooklands

On our way into the Concours event on Sunday, we came across this fantastic looking Brooklands sitting all alone in a bank parking lot. There is something special about seeing a car worth more money than most homes just sitting all alone in the real world, covered in morning dew like it were any other object. The Brooklands is a Bentley among Bentleys, the flagship model from 2008-2011, and just 550 examples in existence. Its 6.75L V8 packs 530hp, and a mighty 773ft/lbs of torque. This particular car was immaculately appointed, with a two tone, black and gray, color scheme, a red leather interior, and a red pinstripe along the side.

This is a very Bilderberg type of car, the sort that makes back door arrangements with other big-wigs, and pretends to adopt orphans for fun, just to see the desperate looks on their faces as they drive away without them at the last second. If the “Top 1%” had a team mascot, the Brooklands could certainly be it. The Continental GT is surely the Bentley for sensible money, whereas the Brooklands is for the “just because I can” types. So, if you are seeing this, and you are sad because you don’t have a Brooklands, just take solace in knowing that at least everyone won’t automatically hate you at first sight.

That said, I do love this car, just not the stigma that comes with it. It is the ultimate in “baller status”, which is both a good and bad thing. Enjoy the pics.

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Test Driven: 2014 Jaguar XFR-S (9.5/10)

French Blue Jaguar XFR-S
Jaguar XFR-S in French Blue

What is this, a bright blue…. Jaguar?! Everyone, meet the XFR-S, a different sort of Jag. One that throws away the high society manners in favor of a bottle of scotch, and a line of coke.

It was only around four months ago that Jaguar released the XFR-S at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. However, during my recent trip to Amelia Island, they had them available for test drives. When I asked about video taping my drive the Jaguar representatives told me they couldn’t allow it because the press has not yet driven the XFR-S. After hearing this I made sure to keep my affiliation with this publication to myself, pretending just to be another young guy looking for a joy ride. I guess you could say that this is as much of a scoop as we have yet gotten, and my experience in the XFR-S, while fairly short, yielded some interesting impressions.

I was left feeling a little mediocre when I reviewed the standard Jaguar XFR a few months ago. It had many great qualities, but it sat in an awkward place in the market, priced a little below the BMW M5 and Mercedes E63, yet still far above the bargain Cadillac CTS-V. It was also a little sub par in terms of comparative power and performance.

The XFR-S seems to have changed things up, though. It now matches its competitors in outright performance, and seems to have turned everything that was good about the XFR up to eleven. Sure, at a base price of $99,000, its MSRP is a bit more than that of an M5 or E63, but it is also an extremely limited production vehicle, with a run that will amount to just 300 units total (100 for the US). The overall feeling I came away with was that by turning the XFR into the XFR-S, Jaguar has made a car that is truly worth spending your hard earned money on. In the past I had said that the R-S badge was a bit of a gimmick on the XKR-S, over the standard XKR, but it seems the story for the XF models is different. The XFR-S sits in the context of the super saloon segment, which is very different from where the XKs are placed in the grand touring segment. This change of context makes a big difference for the R-S badge.

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Let’s discuss the Mclaren P1

Mclaren released the details, and photos, of the production version of their new P1 hypercar today ahead of its official debut at next week’s 2013 Geneva Motor Show. In short it is a hybrid with a combined output of 903hp, it will do 0-60mph in sub 3 sec, 0-124mph in sub 7 sec, and its top speed is limited to “only” 217mph. I emphasize the “only” because one of the first comments I read about the car on Jalopnik was “1.3 mill and its “limited” to 217.  Thanks.  Pretty much told us its not as fast as the Veyron”. That, right there, people, is the problem I have with both a car like the Bugatti, and your typical superficial sort car enthusiast. Keep in mind, a Formula One car is “slower” than a Veyron as well, yet you don’t see the Bugatti setting lap times even remotely close to the times of Vettel and Hamilton at any circuit. It is this ignorant, one-dimensional mindset, that I can’t stand, and that gives me a big reason to love the Mclaren P1.

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Just gonna leave this here… Aston Martin Rapide Bertone Jet 2+2

This Rapide wagon will be a one off, commissioned by a wealthy collector…. obviously. It is a Bertone design, and was made to commemorate the long relationship between Aston Martin and Bertone. This Rapide Bertone Jet 2+2 is based on the new Rapide S, so underneath it is familiar, but just take a few moments and digest the visual beauty of this stunning machine.




Test Driven: Lotus Elise (9/10)

Photo by Santiago Heyser

This isn’t a car you are looking at, at least not by most modern definitions. Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus, had a famous philosophy for building a car, “Simplify and add lightness”. The idea was that in racing, having a lighter car made for a faster, better handling machine. In the context of a modern road car, things don’t get much lighter, or simpler than a Lotus Elise. Most car buyers these days want all kinds of fancy features that add weight and complexity to a car. They want big leather couches to relax in, they want to text and check Twitter while on the move, and then they all want the car’s safety systems to save them when their own inattention to driving causes a massive accident. The Elise has none of these things, and it appeals to a more competent, more serious sort of driver. So, here in 2013, if this Lotus Elise is not a bonafide “car”, what is it?

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Scarsdale Concours d’ Elegance: Morgan Aeromax

To my knowledge this car is not officially imported into the United States, so seeing one in person here was a real treat. Morgans are extremely cool cars, and I think the Aeromax is their best design yet. It has a unique mix of nostalgic appeal and modern design. Like many of the 1930’s Art Deco Era cars, the Aeromax’s swooping lines make it seem like it is going 100mph even when it’s sitting still. Unfortunately, the owner of this car was a typical rich jerk, and the first thing he told me about the car was how much he paid for it and then how he had scammed his way out of paying taxes on it….. great guy. Needless to say, taxes on a $150,000 car are a decent bit of money, but if you can afford to spend that much on a car, then not paying your taxes on it just makes you a deadbeat low-life. Too bad, because I really loved this car, and it would be nice to see it in the hands of a more worthy human being. Either way, owner aside, the Aeromax looks stunning in these photos, so enjoy. Continue reading Scarsdale Concours d’ Elegance: Morgan Aeromax

Spotted! Jaguar E-Type Series 1, Woodward Ave, MI

This absolutely pristine Jaguar E-Type was out for one of the cruise nights this summer in Detroit, MI. The E-type was deemed “the most beautiful car in the world” by many in its day, and you can really see why when looking at this car. I was also thrilled to have the chance to shoot it with the hood open. There is a mechanic elegance about how it sits with the hood up that is nothing short of seductive for a gear head. This is basically as close as cars get to pornography folks, any more than this and I would have to flag this post as NSFW. Enjoy the gallery of this Jag among Jaaags.

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Spotted! Aston Martin V12 Vantage, Munich, Germany

I found this beautiful V12 Vantage was parked in front of a fancy hotel in Munich during my visit this summer. I have only seen a few of these, and I think this is the only one I’ve seen on the street. It is always a good thing when a company puts its biggest engine into its smallest car.

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This episode of Drive, Chris Harris…

…gets his hands on a McLaren 12C Spyder.  Chaos, tire-destroying awesome ensues all over the Ascari test track.  As an engineer, I happen to be completely bowled over (in a good way) about the work that went into this design–it’s a masterpiece of automotive design and engineering.  Watch the video to see more.

-Albert S. Davis