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. 

Go Ahead, Wax Poetic About the E30 M3

But it doesn’t mean shit until you’ve chased down a current generation M3 on track. 

Okay to be fair, I may not be the most impartial voice on this topic (I love E30 M3s), BUT, having driven both first and current generation M3s on track I will invoke a small amount of clout. 

Sure, it’s been done, and done again, but the roundels aligned last Monday and there I was, entering NJMP’s Lightning circuit right behind an E92 M3 coupe. It immediately became my mission to make that E92 my[the E30s] bitch. I felt the vibration of the motor through the wheel, the shifter, and the seat of my pants; all of a sudden all I could hear was a thick German accent saying “SCHNEELLLL!” 

 The E92 looked quite stock, probably on street tires. The E30 is stripped, caged, and has had the motor massaged for better low end torque. Oh yea, and it was running R compound tires (very sticky). 

To some the outcome may have seemed obvious, but to my ham-fisted-Ariel-Atom-spinning-self, it was an indescribably blissful feeling to be keeping up with a brand new car in something that was built less than a year after I was born. Like I was proving something to the engineers who insisted on more weight, and more power, and more plush. 

He pointed me past when when I got close, I led him for a few laps, then pointed him by when I was obviously holding him back on the straight. If cars were a religion, and the E30 M3 were the Messiah; I would be a true believer.

Got a V8 Vantage? Pull fuse 22 immediately.

We’ve replaced our 06 Aston with an 06 Aston, but with about 60,000 less miles. The only thing is, the new Aston was way quieter. I asked my boss about this and he told me there’s a fuse. Pull the fuse, he said. 

 I used google and google told me to pull fuse 22. So I did it, and it rocks. More specifically, it sounds AMAZING. Astons have such a unique sound, sort of a combination between the flatulent sound of an AMG and the metallic raspy sound of an E46 M3, and pulling fuse 22 just brings all that out sooner (lower in the revs).

How Not To Drive A Caterham

Here’s a video from last summer, when I was riding shotgun in a Caterham Super7. I know the road well, and I advised the driver to take it really easy since he didn’t know the road as well as I; he didn’t listen. 

He got on the throttle too soon and hit a deep rut on the outside of the corner, totally upsetting the car. With a quick enough input he may have been able to save it, but despite all of that he remembered a classic Skip Barber Racing School mantra, “If you spin, both feet in”. You can see the brakes lock the wheel in the slo-mo clip, with some wispy smoke coming off the tire. 

 After we got the car turned back around and set off again (me sitting silently and somewhat angrily in the passenger seat) the driver looked over at me and said, “So have I completely destroyed your confidence in my driving?”

Make Your GoPro Audio Suck Less

I’ve been messing around with GoPros for a while now, and there’s one glaring issue with these rugged little pieces of technology; the audio sucks. Finally after about a year and countless wind washed-out unusable shots, I bit the bullet and got a microphone.

By no means professional equipment, the Polar Pro GoPro mic only cost about $30. I didn’t want a mic so expensive that I’d not want to fasten on the outside of a car, for fear it would get blown away or something, but I definitely did want something with exactly the type of furry/fuzzy wind dispersing stuff that Polar Pro has coated this microphone with.

Next order of business was figuring out how to get a clean cut through the case to allow the Hero3 mini USB adapter to be plugged in, which goes to an RCA jack on the other side. Knowing full well I do not possess the skills to fucks around with plastic and get a clean cut, I got our “Mr.-Fix-It” mechanic Mike G to help out, and all I had to give him in return was a few beers.

Then I secured the RCA jack on the back of the GoPro, with the assumption that most of the filming I do will keep the camera pointed into the wind, thus protecting the mic at least a little more than if it were sticking completely off the side.

And shaboom, the GoPro has been upgraded. Now to get this bitch in the air with my new drone!

I Drove A Kart 57.6 Miles

A great race up at Lime Rock Park’s autocross course with Endurance Karting, and a bunch of Classic Car Club Manhattan members last Saturday. I opted to do the entire 1.5 hour race solo, but I still had to make the required 5 pit stops throughout, where the marshals would mark the kart to be sure everyone completes all 5. I got made fun of for wanting water, and took a bit of an off-road adventure, but overall it was totally awesome.

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