Friday, August 21, 2015

2015 Porsche 918 Spyder "Exclusive Event"

The Porsche of Huntsville showroom is elegant and sophisticated, and on Thursday, August 6th the excitement in the room was at an all-time high.  It is not every day you get to see a million dollar car up close and personal. The dealership had the exclusive opportunity to order a limited edition car for a local car collector, and what a pleasant surprise they received when offered the opportunity for Porsche of Huntsville to have a “First Look” or exclusive showcase of this vehicle after its arrival. 
The owner was more than willing to allow this extraordinary car to be the center of attention for the evening.  When you consider for a moment that only 918 of these Porsche Spyders will ever be built, it makes you wonder if any other owners in the United States allowed their local dealership to extend this special treat to local Porsche enthusiasts. The showroom was filled with local VIP’s, salespersons, service team members, as well as local Porsche club members who wanted to see this spectacle that Porsche had built. This modern marvel called the 918 Spyder sits on a prestigious shelf among other Supercars, but the Hybrid aspect makes it just a little bit more special.
As the guests arrived, General Manager George Jones (Century Automotive Group) graciously welcomed everyone to the special event.  Tracy Jones (President-Century Automotive Group) was also on hand to share in this once in a lifetime experience. You could sense the excitement they both shared as they were about to showcase a rarely-seen marvel from Porsche with clients, friends and family.
The 918 was draped in a silk car cover and surrounded by caution barricades as if to warn the onlookers that they should approach with extreme care.  Like a red carpet event in Hollywood, there was no question about who was the star of the night. The buzz in the room continued to build until George finally gave a short speech and then turned the event over to Mark Fry (Porsche Sales) who began to chronicle the car in great detail as the cover was removed.  
It was difficult for the crowd to remain silent as the dazzling work of art Porsche had built was revealed, and they began to lean into the barricades to get a closer look and photograph the 200 mph supercar.

At every turn the room filled with more questions about the car, so let’s look at the stats of this very special ride:

Engine/Horsepower – Complex, but here it goes: Both electric motors combine for a whopping 285 HP, and when working in conjunction with the 608 HP 4.6 liter V8 produces a staggering 887 HP!
Torque – Estimated 830 lb. ft. to all four wheels
Transmission – 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Top Speed – 214 mph
Zero to 60 mph – 2.2 sec.
Quarter Mile – 9.8 sec.
Braking - 70-0 mph 142 feet
Curb Weight – 3724 lbs.
Price – MSRP starts at $847,975 (Price as equipped $1.12M)

The launch control system on the 918 takes the guesswork and stress out of the equation when testing this high-tech Porsche. The tiny amount of wheels spin at launch is partially achieved by its massive 325/30ZR/21 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rear tires (a mere $729 per tire). In a recent Car and Driver article the author referred to the power-train behavior as an “On-Demand Explosion” and for good reason. It’s been said that the driver can mash the gas pedal to the floor at any time and the power plant will ignite like a stick of dynamite
The engineering feats used on this vehicle are too numerous to mention, but the extensive use of carbon fiber in the 918 helps in two areas: the overall weight reduction of the car and the rigid construction.  
Air ducts, scoops, and spoilers helps channel the airflow where Porsche wants it to both help cool the rear mounted engine and aid in down force of the car…after all, with the mind-numbing speeds this car is capable of, every bit of aerodynamic advantage needs to be utilized.  Last but certainly not least is the gorgeous paint that the owner specifically chose to make the car unique. The color, Liquid Metal Chrome Blue, was adorned with custom painted graphics that are one of a kind and added to the allure of this beautiful beast. The owner bumped up and added the “Weissach” Package which includes upgrades too many to list, but came loaded with weight reducing options to help achieve the quickest possible times intended by Porsche as they designed this vehicle. This special package was named from the German town where Porsche’s R&D factory is located.
As the special night came to a close, it was safe to say the experience was electrifying and the guest were still buzzing as they left the showroom. I’m sure they had already tagged themselves in a selfie or two as they captured the once in a lifetime thrill. My only question is what Porsche of Huntsville will do to top this great event…guess we will have to drop by soon to find out!

Porsche of Huntsville is always ready to provide optimal customer service, however setting up a test drive of this vehicle may prove to be difficult because this one is sold and the proud owner is probably out enjoying this wickedly fast ride as we speak. One thing we know for certain is when he does take it out for a spin, it will most definitely turn some heads!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What’s the big deal about “Old Trucks”?

Okay, I’ve never been much of a truck guy, but I have owned a couple in my lifetime and they are very useful to haul stuff during a move, pulling a trailer or boat and even prove to be handy during home projects. It seems anytime you are without a truck is the very time when the need will arise for you to need to transport some large items or haul something for a buddy. Besides the practical aspect of a truck, the fact remains that they are just cool to own and everybody needs one.

I just recently purchased a 1976 Ford F100 short wheel base truck with the purpose of using it for those home projects and whenever I needed to carry any large items, but a strange thing has happened. I now find myself enjoying driving it because of the looks and comments I get from folks as I’m out driving it. It’s Crazy! I mean, I keep telling myself, “It’s just and old truck”, but never the less this old rusty truck just has an effect on folks like I’ve never witnessed before.

So I’m asking what’s the big deal about trucks….Why are they so popular? Let’s examine the possible reasons;

Seeing an old truck sometimes reminds you of the days gone by when you rode with your dad or grandfather to the store to get some candy and a soda pop. Maybe they cause you to reflect on early morning drives to school when you were a kid. For some folks it may be the first experience they had at driving…..rolling down an old dirt road on the farm as they listened to their dad tell barking instructions on how to navigate the old truck between the ditches. Some guys may remember an old farm truck being the first vehicle they owned and the ups and downs of keeping it running. You may also reflect on the days when you and your family would throw the fishing rods and a tackle box in the back and drive to the lake for a long day of fishing. (Don’t forget your bucket you carried in the back to bring the fish home in)

Joe Diffie had a song back in the early 90’s called “Pickup Man” and it tops most lists of favorite songs about trucks. It kind of sums up the story of a man and his pickup truck. He describes the well-known fact that women love men who drive pickup trucks. The lyric says “You can set my truck on fire and roll it down a hill, and I still wouldn’t trade it for a Coupe De Ville, I got an eight-foot bed that never has to be made, you know, if it weren’t for trucks we wouldn’t have tailgates, I met all my wives in traffic jams, there’s just something women like about a pickup man

I can’t tell you how many times in just the last few weeks that I’ve been driving my old truck around and people stop me to ask what year it is and then proceed to tell me a found memory they have about an old truck. It’s got me wondering why I waited so long to buy another one and thinking about my own memories of the fun times I shared with my dad as we drove around on Saturday’s.

So the next time you see an old truck rolling down the road and you happen to glace at the driver, I’ll bet he or she has a big smile on their face. You can also imagine the memory they are replaying in their mind as they enjoy driving the old rusty, somewhat weathered truck to anywhere USA.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lightning in a bottle…..Ford harnessed rare power in a truck!

The pickup truck is the idea vehicle to haul almost anything; lumber, mulch, furniture, tools, even those weekend recreational items……but in the early 1990’s Ford decided it was time to haul the mail. In 1993 Ford turned the truck market on its head and offered the Ford Lightning F-150 and it was an instant hit with the muscle car guys because finally a truck was offered that matched the performance of their hot-rod in the garage.

Colors on the first generation Lightning’s were limited to Black or Red and then White was added for the 1994 and 95 models. These early trucks were offered as a standard cab, short bed (fleetside) only; however they had that short bed/wide stance that remains popular with truck lovers today.

The SVT (Specialty Vehicle Team) engineers and marketing executives at Ford motor Company birthed this high-performance truck and they must have done it right because they are still legendary today among collectors. They only made 11,563 of those first gen trucks but many are still being driven.

Ford launched an all-new F-150 Truck in 1997, so after a few years away they reintroduced another Lightning (2nd generation) in 1999 based on this new body style. This time the performance was enhanced just a bit. The 5.4 liter V8 engine was juiced up with an (Roots-Type) Eaton Supercharger producing 360 horsepower and 440 lb.ft. of torque. It also was capable of a zero to 60 mph time of 6.2 sec. These 2nd gen trucks were made from 1999 to 2004, but in 2001 some upgrades were made that kind of solidified the truck as a serious contender. An additional 20 horsepower was achieved by a modified air intake manifold putting the truck at a respectable 380HP and 450 lb. ft. of torque. Other goodies on the 2001 included an aluminum driveshaft, 3.73:1 gears, and suspension upgrades allowing the truck to bolt from zero to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds. A total of 28,124 of the 2nd gen F-150 Lightning trucks were made from 1999 – 2004.

Another special designation of the 2nd generation SVT Lightning came when it was it recognized as the World’s fastest production truck and in 2003 Guinness certified the F150 Lightning after it ran 147 mph off the showroom floor. These trucks still remain quite popular at the local strip due to the quick ¼ mile times they can lay down. From 1999-2000 the trucks were regularly running low 14’s with trap speeds near 100 mph.

Wheels and tires were also improved on the truck. It was now riding on unique 18 inch Goodyear Eagle F1-GS low profile tires and special 18 x 9.5 inch (Cobra-like) wheels, making the Lightening a true performer on the street. But don’t worry about style because the 2nd generation also included anti-lock brakes, keyless remote entry, tilt steering wheel, leather seats, white face gauges, air conditioning, and power door locks and windows. A wide variety of colorful exterior paints also set Lightning owners apart in a crowd; Bright Red, Silver Metallic, True and Sonic Blue were just a few.

Ford hit a homerun with this truck, so it begs the question why it had to end. They did tease us with a concept truck based on the all-new 2004 F-150 shown at the NAIAS in 2003 (Detroit, MI). It had T-56 manual transmission borrowed from the SVT Cobra Mustang and a whopping 500HP supercharged V8 engine, independent rear suspension, and massive 22 inch wheels with six-piston Brembo calipers to set off the package. However, it never was produced but the future would hold another surprise to the truck world in the form of an F-150 Raptor in 2009, but that’s another story.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Where have all the car shows gone?

The torrential rains in the Southeast have finally stopped and it’s time to get those cars shinned up and hit the show circuit. But I’m asking a question that seems odd…..where have all the shows gone? It appears the car show lists and online calendars don’t have as many events listed this year. During this time of the spring and early summer every weekend is full of multiple shows and cruise-in’s….most weekends you have so many to choose from its hard to decide which one to attend and the ones to skip. I feel like the hobby is stronger than ever, so I’m sure what may be the underlying factor for the fewer shows this year.
A popular trend these days is the basic “show & shine” that includes just a group of guys assembling in a parking lot or downtown area and showing theirs cars off and simply enjoying the company of other car guys. These events have no fees, no judging, no prizes or trophies…just all for fun. At least at these type events there is no sore losers or hard feelings over who won a trophy and who didn't!

Early morning “cars & coffee” type events are still gaining in popularity because of the same issue as the bigger shows, no trophies, no registration or fees, just guys getting together and enjoying a cup of coffee and a doughnut as they look at lots of classic and modern muscle cars and trucks.
New car show enthusiasts are born every year and there is always room for new fans. I recently heard a young lady saying that until she attended her first show this year she had never even cared anything about car shows. In fact she said she had often wondered what the big deal was and had never dreamed of going to one, but after she attended her first one, was blown away at the beautiful cars, but was pleasantly surprised by something completely unexpected. She kept talking about the music, the family friendly atmosphere, the vendors, and all the extra-curricular activity that goes with car shows these days. It was refreshing to hear someone excited and talking about the things that got her motivated to go to the next show instead of negative talk about all the stuff that’s not important.

I also attended a local monthly cruise-in where I met a young lady who was there showing off her highly modified Honda Civic that she did 90% of all the customization on it. After talking to her for almost 30 minutes, she introduces me to her husband’s and he’s showing off his matching car. They said it’s a great way for them to hang out and share in the hobby that is their passion!

The shows list may be smaller this year, but I've got my 10-12 shows picked out to attend this year and I plan to have just as much fun as I always do and maybe I’ll meet some new folks and check out their sweet rides!