Legend Of The Mid-Engined Aston Martin

Very rarely do I get into legit argument about cars with someone. I usually try to avoid arguments in general, especially when my conversation partner is SO sure. Like SO, SO, 100% SURE!! Which is why I was quick to revert into “agree-mode” when a truck driver told me he once hauled a mid-engined Aston Martin.

I was asked to drop off an E60 M5 in Jersey, the car was sold and just had to be delivered to the hauler truck. A task I’ve carried out many times, just gotta make sure the driver marks any dents and dings down, so I don’t get blamed. I was making small-talk with the driver as we both froze our asses off slow-walking around around the M5 looking for imperfections.

It was all fun and light, joking about fast cars and how they get rock chips more than slow cars, until he told me about the “mid-engined” Aston Martin. Then he told me about the “big blowers” bolted on the motor, behind the seats. At first I did what I always do when people are SO SUREI told him I’d just have to take his word for it. He didn’t buy it.

He encouraged me to use Google, look up the Vanquish, and then I’d see that the engine was behind the driver’s seat. I did use Google, which confirmed what I already knew; the Vanquish is technically a front-mid engined vehicle, meaning that the engine is positioned behind the front axle, but in front of the passenger compartment.

I conceded to the truck driver that while the motor is indeed technically “mid-engined”, it is most definitely in front the front of the car. He was insistent that the motor was behind the driver. I only bet money if I’m 99% sure I’m correct, so I told him lets put $10 on it. He backed way off, mumbled some stuff, and walked back to his truck.

As soon as I got back to CCC I did some furious Google searching, trying to find out if there’s any way this guy could be right. Turns out he could have been right if Aston Martin had actually built this ”DBC Concept” but they didn’t.

Later in the afternoon Zac told me that “my truck driver buddy” had called and instructed me to search for the Aston Martin AM310. My heart skipped a beat; did I miss something? I spent a whole ten minutes employing all of my super-secret internet search skills; there’s no way I missed something.Turns out the AM310 concept was actually the new Vanquish in disguise, and was most certainly front-engined.

I almost asked Zac for the trucker’s phone number so I could call him back, but instead I wrote this post. In the end was it worth the minutes (going on hours) I spent not just arguing with the trucker, but internet searching, and now writing this post? All to “prove” something to an old truck driver who still probably wouldn’t believe me? Probably not. But I still did it, so I guess the joke’s on me.


The McLaren P1 Is A Gorgeous Thing

Seeing the McLaren P1 for the first time is like seeing a naked breast for the first time. I really wanted to touch it, but knew I probably shouldn’t.

The good folks at Miller Motorcars opened their large glass doors to the public to show off the truly mind-boggling McLaren P1. Mind-boggling because it’s not just another high-horsepower, mid-engined vehicle. It’s a hybrid. And it does a thing called “torque fill”, which I love. In the words of Chris Harris, ”It’s a whole new thing”.

The white on black scheme coupled with acres of exposed carbon fiber made for a most striking color combination. Something about the light coloration brings out all of the “McLaren-Swoops” integrated within the bodywork. I showed my mother the photograph below, of the P1 rear end; she told me it was a nice abstract photograph.

I spent about 45 minutes just walking around and around this beautiful British thing. They had it on a rotating turntable when I arrived, but switched off the rotation shortly after laughing at my failed attempts to hop along with the movement, trying to snap photos.

Full gallery HERE



The Sorriest Mercedes S-Class You’ll Ever See

Let me set the scene; it’s 11pm and the Triple-C Racing boys had just arrived in Amsterdam, NY. After checking into a dumpy motel, we set off in search of a hoon-able empty lot. We were drawn, almost magnetically, towards a large multilevel parking garage.

It was totally empty, save for this decrepit S-Class. The car looked like someone just parked it and walked away. Or stole it, parked it, and walked away. So many questions; how long has it been there, who’s it registered to, and are they dead?

Sitting on the floor with a deflated air suspension, it looked like the car had a good bit of mold growing inside, but the tires still had air. There’s a certain beauty to decomposition, and this S-Class quite perfectly encapsulates that aesthetic.


An Automatic E30 Isn’t The Worst Thing Ever

If you own an automatic E30 BMW, this is probably not news for you, since you probably love your car very much. BUT! If you’ve never driven an automatic BMW, this may surprise you; it doesn’t suck! At all!

CCC member just picked one of the mintiest base E30s I’ve seen since, well, the early 90s. It’s got about 112k miles and might just be the best documented E30 ever in terms of service history. In the trunk is a box of books with meticulously organized receipts and records going back to 1990 when it was first sold, including the window sticker.

This little box of a BMW cost some $27,000 when new, which according to an inflation calculator, would be the equivalent of $46,700 in 2012. That’s a lot of money, although a 2012 BMW 335i coupe MSRP’d for $45,000. So what I’m saying is this E30 is more expensive than an E92 335i; none of this makes sense.

The real surprise is the automatic transmission. I walked into the garage and saw this E30 coupe and was immediately intrigued. I started checking it out, and was severely dismayed to see the automatic gear selector. The owner saw the distress on my face and insisted I take it for a spin, telling me how smooth and intuitive it is. A 24 year old 4-speed automatic? Smooth?! PSH!

I soon realized how wrong I was. The gearbox is indeed smooth like butter. It doesn’t clunk into gear on upshifts, or idle strangely fast. It kicks down, I daresay, more intuitively than a 2012 Mercedes S550 I drove a few weeks ago. And by more intuitively, I mean the E30 seemed to respond to my inputs in a sportier nature, which of course, is not what the S-Class is tuned for. Anyway, tangent aside, the gearbox was really surprisingly good.

The suspension felt tight with no creaks or loud thuds. The steering, while I wouldn’t call it tight, was precise and gave good feel to the truck sized steering wheel. The owner has possessed a great many cars in the past; everything from Mitsubishi Evo race cars to VW Beetles, but he swears this E30 is one of the best.

I’ll disagree until he takes off the ///M plate frame. Then it’ll be just about perfect. I also asked the owner much he wanted for it, he said his emotional attachment is worth far more than anyone would be willing to pay; but make an offer.


Cavallino Classic Concorso d’Eleganza 2014

When someone invites you to join them at one of the biggest and best attended Ferrari gatherings in the country, you don’t say no. So I packed a bag and headed to Palm Beach for the weekend.

Or maybe I was just looking for an excuse to get the hell out of NYC polar vortex 2.0. Either way; warm weather and Ferraris seemed like a better option than hibernating all weekend and living from one Seamless delivery to the next.

This year’s Concorso featured the gorgeous 275 GTB’s 50th anniversary. V12 up front, sexy sheetmetal wrapping, acres of pleated leather, and a big wooden steering wheel. Recent sales show that 275s go for 1 million on the low end and 27 million on the high. There was a plethora of them there.

Also F40. The 308 and 328s behind it may as well have been invisible. I waited almost 15 minutes for the crowd to clear for a split second in order to get the shot. And then I spent another 15 minutes just soaking up the raked intakes and sculpted wing. What an incredible piece of machinery.

The parking lot was almost as good as the Concorso, boasting a Pagani Huayra, Bugatti Veyron, as well as a 991 Turbo and GT3. Check out the huge full gallery HERE



Palm Springs Air Museum: Where Old Planes Go To Be Restored

I never pass up an opportunity to check out things that fly, er, used to fly. I nearly crashed the car when we drove past on the way to Joshua Tree a few days ago, almost certain I’d seen an amphibious prop plane. I was not disappointed.

At the back of the outdoor section of the museum was this ultra-cool Consolidated PBY Catalina. Not sure why, but I just love these things, and any flying machine that can land on water, for that matter. The ability to land on water opens up so many more landing options, it just seems logical in my mind. The Catalina could do both.

Huge photo album HERE


Drive Through Joshua Tree National Park In 7 Minutes

Yesterday I visited Joshua Tree National Park with my family. The scenery is incredible, and the rock formations towering. We stopped in a few different spots for a quick hike; an old-time cowboy galloping through would not have been out of place anywhere in the park, it’s got a real ‘frozen in time’ feel to it.

Here is 106 minutes of footage sped up 15x, shot on a GoPro from my Audi A4 rental from Silver Car.



This Is A Supercharged Porsche 911

The combination of the classic thrum of a 993 flat-six motor and manic supercharger whine is absolutely intoxicating. That, and the potential for this AWD Porsche to tackle any kind of weather is truly drool-worthy.

The new owner bought it in Florida and road-tripped back up to NYC, no problem. Started life as Carrera 4s then gained a TPC supercharger and Euroquipe intercooler were added as well as a dual mass flywheel, and rs clutch/mounts.

More videos to come once we get this crazy machine out on some twisties.





Watch Some Guy Take The Doors & Hood Off A Brand New Mercedes CLA

Looks a bit like a chop shop right? Good. Last week our garage at Classic Car Club Manhattan was transformed into a Hollywood movie set, which was supposed to look like a chop shop. I arrived in the morning to see the CLA and was pretty excited to have an opportunity to sit in the car and check it out a bit.

Just when I walk back out with my camera, all ready to record a little walk-around of the car, I see this guy tugging on some interior trim to get access to the bolts to remove the door. We talked for a few minutes about the set and the car, turns out he does this all the time, as well as prepping myriad other types of movie cars, not just CLA Benzes with 45 miles on the clock.

This particular movie features an old Mustang “hero car” which the guy told me has a huge motor and is truly show quality, and then there’s the stunt double for the “hero car” which looks very similar but is all outfitted with a hydraulic handbrake, roll cage, and all kinds of other stunt gadgets.

But what movie is it for? You’ll just have to wait and see! (I don’t actually even know)

www.classiccarclubmanhattan.com


On The Ethos Of Cars & Coffee


You’ve got a cool car, or know someone who does. SWEET! You’re excited about cars in general and you want to jump on this nationwide bandwagon of informal style “Cars & Coffee” meets. GREAT! So you show up expecting to meet some fellow enthusiasts, check out their rides, and enjoy a mutually satisfying experience where owners get to enjoy some attention from the people who love their cars, and vice-versa with the spectators who have come to see some hot metal. 

 I’m no different; my co-worker Ethan and I cruised out to Ridgewood, NJ for a nicely organized meet (cheers Tony) with CCC’s Cobra & GT40 last Sunday. After parking the cars we opened up the engine cover of the GT40 and stood around for a while chatting, answering questions, and checking out the rest of the cars. A few cars were still rolling in, one of which was the below Aston Martin DB9 Volante. Ethan nudged me and pointed out the “Supercharged” sticker on the quarter panel as he passed us. He parked right next to us, and then I saw the “GT-R” sticker as well. Hm.

I then did what I so often do, and asked the guy if I could see what’s under the hood. A fairly standard request at meets like these; us enthusiasts love to see the power-plants which have so often been modified with meticulous care. Plus, I was holding out hope that this svelte Aston really did have a supercharger bolted on. 

 The owner’s response may not have seemed out of place in the realm of “general-exotic-car-owner-stereotypes” but at a meet such as this I was quite taken a-back. Without a hint of comedy he goes, “You couldn’t afford to have me open this hood.” Which he’s not technically wrong about, but still, I would never speak to someone that way. 

 I reply, “Well, is it really supercharged?” To which he says, “I don’t come here to show off…I just flew myself in from Cancun and I’m jetlagged, flying my jet really fucks me up.” Ohhhhh. Okay. 

 I should obviously have cut him a break and not bothered to ask him about the shiny expensive convertible (with what look to be AutoZone purchased ‘Supercharged’ and ‘GT-R’ stickers) he just drove into a parking lot full of car enthusiasts who have come to show off a little and talk cars. My bad, dude. 

 We packed up and took off pretty soon after that, so I never found out if the Aston really was blown or not. I’m guessing not. The point is; don’t come to Cars & Coffee if you’re going to act like that.




Triple C Racing: One Season Down


Team Triple C Racing is Classic Car Club Manhattan’s first racing division. The effort has been spearheaded by Adam and JJ, but it’s a true team sport. These guys have now completed their first season of SCCA SM racing, and it’s been a real journey. Throughout the season they replaced countless tires, brakes, and fluid bottles, but most importantly learned the rhythm of SM racing and swung into a familiar repetition quickly. 

Continuously checking supplies, ordering parts, loading, and unloading; it’s no easy task. Said rhythm translated into better prepared cars as the season wore on, leading to quicker and quicker lap times and better standings.

I joined the crew down at NJMP last Saturday to help document the final race of their first season. Spirits and optimism are high as Adam, JJ, and the rest of the team begin to prepare for next season.



M3 Duality: Which Would You Choose?


One of our members picked up the Gallardo Spyder yesterday and left his very clean, mostly stock, 80k mile E30 M3 in the garage for the weekend. I couldn’t help but line our E30 up next to it and make some comparisons.


Driving & Talking: 1989 BMW M3


I’ve been driving this M3 as much as possible for roughly the last year (er as much as my bosses will let me) and I’ve finally collected my thoughts enough to talk some sense (and a lot of nonsense) about one of the greatest cars ever built.



This Honda Ridgeline Is Ready For Zombies


I spotted this extremely well equipped Ridgeline in Brooklyn earlier today. At first I was like, “hm cool matte black truck,” and then I looked closer and was all, “holy SHIT is that a solar panel on the hood?!”

Starting at the front we’ve got a hefty winch, a large array of auxiliary lights, and some solar panels affixed to the hood. The panels looked pretty rugged too (as much as a solar panel can be rugged) with a protective metal frame around the outside and even a little wind/rock-chip deflector across the front edge.

Another large aux light array is followed by a purposeful looking roof rack. I’d imagine there are some canned foods, a blanket, a jug of water, and maybe even a flare in there. Oh ya, and there are more lights on the roof rack. I bet you could see this thing from space on a bright night, like after the zombies attack the power grid and the astronauts are stuck in space with no idea what the fuck is going on down there…what were we talking about?

Then we move to the bed; containing a collapsible bike and a collapsible picnic table, which is not exactly fitting with the theme because I can’t imagine who would go for a bicycle ride or have a picnic whilst evading an undead throng. It also appears to have a fire extinguisher and possible air compressor (on the left side of the bed?) 

The owner has different wheels he pops on when he’s heading for the hills. Realistically you wouldn’t the time to pop home and swap out the wheels. But besides the wheel thing this Honda Ridgeline, by all appearances, is ready for anything. If I see zombies; I’m heading for Brooklyn.


A Unimog in NYC? Yes.


One of our more adventurous members brought his newest purchase over to the garage today. It’s a 1972 Unimog, built by Mercedes Benz, and it might just be the perfect “city car”.

It’s a big thing at 8.5 feet tall, it makes me feel like I’m Danny Devito standing next to Yao Ming, but even Yao Ming would be shorter than the giant Unimog. It looks pretty formidable though, that cleft bit on the right front makes it seem as if it’s whistling, I imagine the Unimog whistling along while it works, just minding it’s own business.

I used google, and I’m pretty sure it’s a 406 Series, with a four cylinder diesel motor putting out anywhere from 40 horsepower to 110, depending on what trim level it’s equipped with. The allure is obvious; who wouldn’t want to put-put around New York City in something so perfectly equipped to handle the rigors that come with driving on the streets of this fine city?

Massively wide wheelbase and bigass knobby tires provide a commanding stance, sure to send yellow cabs scurrying to the furthest lane from this diesel smoke belching beauty as it cruises up 8th avenue. Right at home with the work trucks and S-Class Benzes alike, the Unimog has a spacious and luxurious rear bed area made from dark Mahogany. So much room for activities!

Plus, it’s a convertible. Plenty of room to store the top; “yeah just put it next to the hot tub”. All right fine, there’s no hot tub…yet (there should be).

Parking would be a breeze, once you find a spot big enough. No power steering means you are rewarded with the most direct feedback from those enormous tires, which is more than I can say for the 2012 Porsche 911, where it lets computers dictate how much feedback is piped into the steering wheel. Another upside is the sheer utilitarian simplicity of the whole thing. In the picture above I love that you can see the bottom of the wood bed between the monstrous driveshaft and exhaust. 

 Here’s a quick video of it’s brave new owner backing the Unimog out from the CCC garage, with the @MistressOfMotors riding shotgun: (they stopped and put the bed sides up just after this vid ended)


Three Years Worth Of 1WTC Pictures, And Some Cars Too


I’ve been taking pictures of 1WTC since I started working at the Classic Car Club Manhattan about three years ago, and now I’ve got 266 photos. People accuse me of being obsessed with 1WTC, and to be fair, I kind of am. 

September 11th left a mark on me, it was close to home in the most literal sense. From my hometown in North Jersey we could see smoke rising from lower Manhattan that day, parents of kids I knew perished, and the skyline was never the same. 

 To see this shiny new skyscraper rise to completion has been particularly fulfilling for me, not just as a memorial to those we lost, but also as a big New York style middle finger to all those heinous characters who’s goal is terror and chaos. We made it; and we’re better than ever. So take a moment and enjoy a wide variety of angles from a wide variety of cars, you won’t be disappointed: 1WTC Album



Is The E39 M5 Too Quiet?


Usually I’m all for making cars louder; half the fun of driving is hearing the sound of the engine. But in the case of the E39 M5, I kind of like the fact that it’s not really loud. 

It definitely has that V8 bass when you rev it, but it’s more of a low end thing than the screaming Italian V8s and V10s. My co-worker thinks the E39 is way too quiet, and that it needs an exhaust, badly. 

Adding a loud exhaust would decisively take the M5 from sleek undercover euro-muscle to look-at-me euro hot-rod pretty quickly. And maybe that’s your thing, but to me the essence of the E39 is how “under the radar” it is. 

It just kind of whooshes you along on this burbling wave of torque. Even in 6th gear at ___ mph it pulls hard, masking speed in the calmest most relaxing kind of way. 


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