Eric Clapton’s New Ferrari: 512BB Boxer Tribute From A 458

March 22, 2012

Longtime Ferrari fanatic, Eric Clapton, has presented his one-off homage to the classic late ’70s V12 512BB as built by Ferrari’s own ‘Special Products’ Division, which exclusively handles bespoke one-offs such as this.

Based on the underpinnings of the 458, it has been given the name SP12-EPC (obviously after its registration plate – ‘SP’ = Special Products ’12′ = year of Reg.) Yet contrary to many other reports on the interweb, the car still retains its original 458-derived V8 heart, not a transplanted V12… despite the notable increase in desireability if that were the case

The Enzo headlamps also tempt that V12 notion even further but official Motor Vehicle documents don’t lie… Further details are understandably scant at best this early on but surely the singer/songwriter will (hopefully) be providing up-close and possibly onboard experiences to worthy journalists and his fellow Ferrari fanatics/historians in the near future…

Until then, have a gaze at the photos that captured the car’s debut at London Ferrari Dealership HR Owen last night…

The original V12 512BB Boxer...

 -Blake J.
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What Were They Thinking: 1978 Corvette ‘America’ Concept

March 21, 2012

There are moments within the extended life-run of an iconic, homebred sportscar where ambitious minds and questionable visions intersect to create something that begs to ask a question that was never even asked in the first place… In this case – ‘Why wouldn’t a Corvette owner/enthusiast desire a 4-door version to haul his family and friends around in…?’

I know. There are so many responses to counter that question, but it didn’t stop Chevrolet from embarking on a… erm…. ‘design study’ in 1978 to flesh out the possibilities of a 4-door family ‘Vette.

The Corvette ‘America’ (snappy name) was designed and built by California Custom Coach in Pasadena, California in very small numbers – one prototype and five ‘production’ models – achieved by basically taking two Corvettes, cutting them in half and then stitching/welding them up, hence the increaed 30-inch wheelbase and subsequent visual awkwardness…

At the time, a base-model Corvette would stretch you back about $13,000-$14,000. So when the $35,000 price-tag was announced for the 4-door America, orders didn’t exactly flock-in as they had anticipated…

In the end, only the 6 were made and the silver ‘vette pictured here is the only known remaining survivor – the others having succumbed to uncaring owners and/or crashes of various sorts… I couldn’t even imagine what an oversteering moment in one of these would feel like. Probably frightening.

I think one left is enough.

Though, in its defense, I can’t help picturing this above red version as the sort of vehicle that the characters from The Banana Splits would have driven, if they could have…  And that makes it instantly cool in my books.

-Blake J.
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Classic Porsche Reborn: The Gullwing-America P/904 Carrera

March 5, 2012

The original Porsche 904 GTS Carrera of 1964/65 arrived at the tail-end of Porsche’s exiting from Formula 1 (in ’62) and set the stage for their ensuing dominance in subsequent road-racing efforts (take a long, well-deserved bow, Porsche 917). For homologation purposes, Porsche built 106 street-legal versions of the original 904, of which instantly deemed it a rather rare occurance to see one in-the-metal over the years…

The iconic 1964 Porsche 904 GTS

Since then, the 904 has gathered an almost legendary plume of respect and admiration amongst Porsche enthusiasts, collectors and race fans the world over. To own an original 904 would be a dream come true… To drive one would be a treat unlike any other, as the driving-legend himself, Walter Rohrl, found out last year…

Now though, Gullwing-America has unwrapped its modern-day take on the iconic 904 with its retro P/904 Carrera. Based on the 987 (’05-’11) Boxster platform, the P/904 retains the same 3.4L engine (rated at 295 bhp) and also borrows the same slick 6-speed manual transmission, the ABS and the power-steering unit to aid in the updating of a classic design flourished with modern-day familiarities.

Those modern-day ‘updates’ include a full instrument panel and center console with Sat-nav (GPS) and an iPod dock along with air conditioning as well. Bespoke seats, dashboard and steering wheel are also part of the unique 904 re-creation process. Outside, you’re treated to LED lights, a retractable rear-spoiler, a lowered ride-height and tasty 18″ Fuchs design wheels…

Cost for the total conversion comes in at a hefty 70,000 euros (approx $91,000) not including the donor porsche Boxster… but if you already own an ’05-’11 Boxster and you’re looking to ‘upgrade’ to something utterly unique, sexy and forever desireable then this might just be what you’re looking for… I mean c’mon…. Look at it…!!

-Blake J.
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Photo of the Day: Jaguar D-type and E-type in Wales

January 5, 2012

Sometimes it’s difficult to come up with the proper accompanying words for an image so personal, poignant and escapist – one that instantly tugs at your motoring heart. Even more difficult if you’ve actually driven the route(s) contained within said image on a previous overseas driving-holiday - the plethora of beautifully visceral memories are right *there*, as if you were subconsciously in the moment itself, re-feeling the moment in time.

Driving throughout the incredibly stunning Welsh countryside amidst the endlessly gliding, curving and falling roads of the region does that to you – It’s a bespoke landscape unlike anything you’ve ever seen and navigated throughout before, bordering on the dreamlike. Every year I try my absolute best to hike the trek over to the UK for my necessary dosage of raw, mechanical interaction with something fun and burbly, thereby mixing all of the sensations together to create an escapist elixir that has become almost essential to my well-being and sanity now…

It’s become my ultimate drug of choice.

Photo by: James Lipman

-Blake J.
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Video: The Sonic Savagery of a Ferrari F40

January 4, 2012

Oh, and let’s not forget burbling, crackling, thundering and flame-spitting as well…

Enjoy.

 -Blake J.
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Luxury & Supercar Weekend @ VanDusen Gardens – A.I. was there

September 13, 2011

Friday early-morning Press day. The first image that greeted me.

My petrolheaded brain is up-in-arms right now – too much ‘really badly want’ and ‘wish I could afford’-like longings have temporarily clogged my ability to think straight and perform basically normal, human-being functions over the last 48 hours - like buying groceries, for example. Sleep has even been uprooted and disturbed… what the heck.

McLaren MP4-12C in the mid-morning light

Then again, if I had known that I was going to be shown this diversely opulent gathering of the finest motorcars ever constructed on a beautifully sunny September afternooon just up the street (!) from my very home, *breathe* then I’d have properly prepared myself for the inevitable  fallout of flashbacks and middle-of-the-night-for-no-reason wake-ups lending to the ruination of my ABC’s and 123′s…

Plus, it probably didn’t help matters either when endlessly sorting/editing through the 300+ photos I captured…. In short, I have become a gibbering, flat-plane crank’d, twin-carbed, gull-winged nuisance. My eyes have seen things that can never be unseen – thank heavens!

Lovely Peugeot Special Sport

This was the 3rd installation of the Luxury & Supercar weekend; the inaugeral event being held at the Plaza of Nations (old Expo site) in Downtown Vancouver back in 2009 with the 2010 event travelling to Seoul, Korea. Now back in Vancouver for the city’s 125th birthday and from what I’ve overheard, it will most-likely become an annual event. This is good… very good.

I’ve taken part-in and attended many many car shows out here over the years of my life, yet never have I witnessed such a level of unbelievable excellence, rarity, detailed beauty, diversity and charm. This was Vancouver’s entry, somewhat, into the world-class Concours realm a-la Pebble Beach, Villa d-Este in Italy and Salon Prive in London… Not quite up to those levels of sheer dominance in world-class exquisiteness and mouth-watering rarity just yet (we didn’t exactly have 7 1960′s Ferrari GTO’s lining the western lawn), but a mighty fine start to say the least. Surely, the roster of rarities for upcoming year’s event will only improve.

Maserati MC-12, officially waking me up

The event itself began on early Friday morning for me as that was the posted ‘Press Day’ for journo hacks and TV-crews to come and take advantage of the laid-back (and always calming) early-morning surroundings of VanDusen while various work teams set-up tents, built benches and erected fences. Of immediate notice was the truly gargantuan ‘Mercedes World’ Pavilion/tent… no, wait…. open-aired lounge… placed smack-dab in the middle of the upper-lawn that work crews were placing final touches on before the army of all-white leather-and-chrome couches, stools, coffee-tables, bars, chaise longues and plants arrived. Overheard during my strolling about was the truly eye-watering figure of $130,000 - something to do with rental costs for mega-posh, rubber tents – Deary me.

Goes well with a morning cup 'o coffee

The local Ferrari dealership managed to perk-up my morning gazes amidst the freshly-cut, dew-y lawn by wheeling-in one of the 50 Maserati MC-12′s in existense (1 of 2 residing in Canada) and McLaren was looking as precision-perfect as you’d expect with their MP4-12C planted on a flat-black show deck.

Looking aggressively taut and almost alien-like with its (expensive) satin, burnt-orange paint inviting glimpses of the morning sun, the glowing curves of this controversial new car made it near impossible to ignore. It was serenity in nature mixing it with near-robotical levels of controlled, precisional dominance.  Make no mistake, the MP4-12C is a thing of subtle, yet recognizable beauty… but it’s in the evolving details (and the car’s still-evolving driving dynamics) where most keenly-eyed individuals will take notice and be firmly awestruck.

Lynne from McLaren, freshly arriving from New York

The next morning, after a buzz-ish sleep session involving aural recounts from the morning before (did I mention the Aventador making its entry in a lurking Battlestar Galactica-on-wheels type of way..?), I downed my freshly-mulched cup ‘o coffee and made my way up towards VanDusen.

Maserati 3500GT - so good

Winding your way through the shaded path leading to the main lawns, you’re eventually greeted by the familiar sounds of tinkling and soaring Classical music amidst an air of grand openess in the wonderful September sun. Immediately to my right was a tent housing tasty automotive collectables from Vancouver’s own Wilkinson’s Automobilia. A quick stop ‘n chat with the owner set the perfect stage for my entry into what was undoubtedly going to be a day to remember in the automotive folklore files.

This one was adorned with the full carbon pack. Quite striking.

Classics from the early 20th-century via Bentley and Rolls-Royce greeted your entry to the left. A quick 180-degree scan revealed a plethora of tempting automotive legends – some of which I had never seen before in-the-metal. Restraint was a troubling offshoot to maintain, especially with so much loveliness on hand. ‘Keep focused lad’ – I tell myself - ‘Stick to the path and remember, you’re mainly here to work/document, not oggle and gasp all day’. So I sink myself into a 20-minute conversation with an elderly E-Type Jag owner named Leon, who owns an incredibly stunning dark-blue example in a shade that offsets the classic chrome accents with such orchestrally layered fluidity. This is what it’s all about…

The attention-to-detail is monumental

I stop and stare at the all-white assemblage of brand-new (and porky-rumped) BMWs and wonder (again) why-oh-why didn’t BMW take proper advantage of that F1-derived normally-aspirated V10 drivetrain they stuffed into the outgoing M5 and M6 and go produce a proper supercar with it… Just for a last internal-combustion celebration of ///M-ness. I’ll openly say it – what a wasted opportunity, BMW…tsk tsk. Instead, we’re eventually going to receive some gadget-stuffed, techno-driven, electric/hybrid, self-folding, baby-panda-saving eco-’supercar’ that’ll do 103 mpg and have Facebook-propelled idrive or something… as a successor to the iconic M1… Hmm…. The truly awkward-looking Mini Cooper Coupe hiding underneath its own tent sporting, what looked like a metal-plated version of the ‘backwards baseball cap’ in this particular silver/black combo hinted towards the confusing direction of this once-legendary Munich manufacturer of prestige autos. (rant/over)

The new Aventador and the F430 Scuderia

Lunch was next on the agenda, and Truffles Fine Foods was set up to offer 4 varying boxed options to divulge your belly with. Deee-licious. Free liquor was flowing as well, if that’s your thing. Though, the Tequilla and Martini tents weren’t exactly displaying long cues – probably a good thing, that. After sipping back my Evian bottled water and childishly chomping down the thin chocolate bar contained within my complimentary lunch-box, I set my sights on the multitude of classic Mercedes SL’s and Gullwings branching out from the ‘Mercedes World’ tent (of which, no one was milling-about in or ‘lounging’ in – I’m guessing 27-degree sunshine belting through the clear structure straight onto the leather couches and seats made for oven-like levels of uninviting heat – whoops?).

Rounding the bend, I was greeted by 2 Toyotas that I’d never seen before… well, one was a Lexus – the stonking LFA, to be exact. The other, a Toyota 2000GT – I was floored. What a beautiful, beautiful car. One of only 337 made between ’67 and’70, the patina worn by this exquisite example had me coming back time and again all afternoon to take-in its elegant lines and attention-to-detail.

Lexus LFA and Toyota 2000GT - me and the little fella both agreed that they were ace

I was shocked at how commanding and solid-looking the interior alone was – I thought it would be slightly plastic-y here and there… Not at all. Of course, this car just drips of British sportscar influences but it has that Japanese Sports/Supercar-lite thing going on… Pure class. I’d always waited for the day that I would see one of these cars, and now that I have, I want one more than ever before. I can see why they tend to fetch upwards of $375,000 at auctions worldwide. Interesting that the LFA costs just as much to buy one brand new… (I’d have that too please – aside from the dumpy rear-end styling, I was in awe at the level of detail and quality of materials/construction… not to mention the blood-curling, shrieking F1-of-yesteryear soundtrack)

If Lamborghini was able to pass this front-end design through legislation, what on earth is stopping the other car makers from scaring small children...?

The Italians were next-up on my visual quest and lordy lordy the Italians showed up, and then some. Lamborghini Aventador. Ferrari 599 GTO and a carbon-fibre blessed 458. Ferrari F40 (gasp). Lamborghini Countach. 2 Ferrari Daytonas. A disturbingly beautiful ’66 Ferrari 330 GTC. 2 Dino’s. Alfa Montreal. DeTomaso Pantera. Shockingly mint Maserati 3500GT. Afformentioned Maserati MC12. Maserati Bora… this list goes on. Sadly though, an Alfa Romeo 8C was listed in the line-up but turned a no-show (same with the Fisker Karma).

Maserati MC-12 interior. Love the side-knee pads

The Brits and the more-idiosyncratic examples of motoring were also on display as well. A li’l red Fiat 500 from the 60′s was there and looking perfectly perfect. But one car in particular that caught my eye was the Jensen 541 R. Produced during ’57 to ’60 and only one of 193 ever made, this oddly brutal (yet attractive) car had me languishing in its wake of lines and nods to aerodynamic knowledge of the day.

Oh, hi. Uh... would you mind moving to the... nevermind

Looking back at the photos I captured throughout the 2 days, it becomes apparent that I’m scanning over a mere sprinkling of highlights and noteworthy add-ons… and then I look at how much I’ve written and I realize that the time has come to halt the typing and allow said pictures to help illustrate what this event managed to gather.

Ferrari F40 - madness from a bygone era

Of course, there were the inevitable wanna-be high-roller G’s and various gals wearing clothing more suited towards the lowbrow nightclubs on Granville… Kids freely climbing into cars that I’m pretty sure they shouldn’t have been (I think a Ferrari F40 should be roped-off, don’t you agree..?) and a level of snootiness/snobbery on the Weissach/Lamborghini stand from a select few that had me rolling my eyes and walking away (A,  your rude hostility forever kills me). But those are minor footnotes on what was an obvious, unrivaled success. I had a fantastic afternoon. Met some genuinely kind and invitingly sincere people that I look forward to seeing again one day… Let’s hope it returns next year. I’ll be there.

Massive photo-fest below…

words/photos: Blake J.

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Crescent Beach Invitational Car Show – A.I. was there

September 6, 2011

When first hearing about a Classic Car Show being held down in Crescent Beach at Blackie Spit, I’ll admit that my immediate presumptions of the intended theme and vehicular contents would have easily leaned towards the usual American Muscle cars with a few 50′s and pre-war classics thrown in for good measure – you know… a bunch of Vettes, Mustangs, Mopars and some Hot-Rodded Chevys to whet the appetites of the usual weekend Car Show sort… But after learning that this particular show was a relocation spot for the yearly Invitational that usually happens in downtown Vancouver’s Gastown district, I was a bit more hopeful for an intriguingly diverse display.

The quietly beautiful and serene Blackie Spit/Crescent Beach locale already had me locked-into place for my eagered attendance on the Saturday morning as it’s actually the very place of my youth – I learned how to breakdance and regularily skin my knees via my BMX in the Crescent Beach/Ocean Park region – so the trek out to South Surrey was, as always is, a welcomed one.

I purposely parked my trusty 22-year-old ‘pipe ‘n slippers’ BMW a fair distance away from the Spit itself so as to take-in a morning stroll down the sleepy lanes of Crescent Beach en route to the Show. There’s a rustic ambiance and a cozy charm about this (thankfully) unaffected-by-mass-industry region that all-to-easily takes me back to when I was 12 years old, downing a drippy ice-cream cone during one of the many epic sunsets I gazed out upon. I inevitably encounter a moment similar to every other time I visit here – that being, I dearly miss it.

This was towed into the show...

Walking down McBride Ave towards the Spit, it became immediately clear that this was going to be a rather good day. The weather was incredible. The sun was shining. A light breeze tickled your (slightly sunburnt) neck as the grassy Park area within the Spit gradually came into view… Well that, and a menacingly black Ford GT and silver Porsche Carrera GT greeting you on the front lawn of a local’s house - quite the entry piece.

...with this..!

Like every Car Show I attend, I never know where to start. My senses are frenzied with visual overload and I needlessly remind myself (in a motherly fashion) that none of the cars are leaving anytime soon, as the show has just started. So I head over to where my eyes are first drawn-in… there’s a sweet little red Isetta microcar parked up on the northern tip of the lawn. After initiating a chat with the Isetta owner, he reminds me that the top speed of the microcar is a mere 35 mph (or so), so highway journeys are a bit off the map as far as driving abilities go. His Solution..? Tow it in – with his old-school Mini…! He said that he’d never received so much attention from passer-bys than on this particular occasion. I could see why. An old-school Mini towing an Isetta microcar… ? It doesn’t get much cooler than that.

Gorgeous inline-6 in this exquisite Maserati 3500GT Superleggera

This being an Invitational, there was an attempt at diversity amongst the throngs of motor cars – all of them Concours-spec. Gorgeous Bentleys from the 20′s and 30′s (a particular 1928 Bugatti Type 44 roadracer was a personal fave) and even a ’39 Lagonda Rapide were strewn along the lawn, all nestled-in together. Cars were bunched-in with their respective catagories though, so you had the usual array of Mustangs, Vettes and Mopars along with 50′s-era Chevys, but you were also treated to some rare metal (and ash wood – hello Morgan) from Britain.  A Lotus Elan. A Jaguar XK120. Some MG’s. A nice collection of motorbikes were also in attendance. Oddly though, I saw only one Italian offering – a stunning Maserati 3500 GT. There may have been another Italian about, but I don’t remember seeing one. Pity, that.

From a guiltless era with a sense of humour

All in all, a great 1st-attempt at holding this yearly Invitational down in the beautifully tranquil coastline setting of Crescent Beach. And I hope it comes back next year, as one noted aspect of it that I appreciated about this out-of-the-way location was that almost everyone that was there, was there to see and enjoy the actual show… You didn’t have people straggling-in by default just because they happened to be shopping in the Downtown core on that particular afternoon. It felt like a community of motoring enthusiasts – friendly ones as well.

An unrestored original - so nice

A heightened diversity in Marques for next year would be excellent though (there was only one Italian, no BMWs and maybe one Mercedes… yet bunches of Mustangs, Corvettes and 50′s era Chevys). But seriously, a very minor quibble. The show was a huge success with an interesting array of motoring delectables on display… Smiles everywhere – even on this mug. (Even persuaded my Pops to come down and enjoy the sights) I look forward to attending this show next year… Let’s hope they keep it in Crescent Beach.

words and photos: Blake J.

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