007’s Other Rides

I was sitting in our 2007 Aston Martin last night at work. Alone, with the lights appropriately dimmed after a long day at work. I did what anyone who slips into the leather- and wood-wrapped interior of an Aston Martin must do: I pretended to be James Bond. Albeit a slightly heavier set, disheveled James Bond with much less charm, to be honest.

Aston martin is synonymous with James Bond. The franchise has been intertwined (for the most part) for the past 50 years. Both are regal, sophisticated, dangerous and mysterious…and both wear their British heritage on their sleeves. I thought to myself: there must be other Bond cars. Lesser known cars. Unloved Bond cars. Bond can’t drive amazing cars all the time, he needs to show some respect to the taxpayers! Lets show some love to the lesser known Bond cars.

Car: 1962 Sunbeam Alpine

Movie: Dr. No

In the movie Dr. No (same name I called my dad when he would not let me do anything fun), James Bond drove this 1.6-liter 4-cylinder British sports car. Eighty horsepower, 2200 pounds of torque, top speed of 160 kmph, 0-60 mph in 13.4 seconds – respectable numbers. Small and nimble, these cars were successful race cars on both sides of the pond. Apparently, they used it because it was the only British sports car available during filming. Unfortunately, Sunbeam went through some hard times, was bought by Chrysler and saw its brand diluted to sad and offensive cars. RIP Sunbeam.

Car: 1969 Mercury Cougar XR7

Movie: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

This is what James Bond would drive if he were American. Its just as sporty as its Ford Mustang sibling, but more luxurious, mature and refined. Powered by a massive 7-litre, 8-cylinder engine, these cars were great for burnouts, loud noise and sketchy cornering. Imagine having a boat-anchor weight between your front wheels. These were built during the time where engineering a motor meant you needed to make it larger to go faster. If James Bond was American and Corvettes were scarce, this is the car he would drive. Mercury is also no longer with us because Ford went upscale and Lincoln got cheaper… paving the way for Mercury to throw in the towel.

Car: 1974 AMC Hornet

Movie: The Man With The Golden Gun

The 1970’s are widely regarded as the dark ages of the automotive industry. Oil embargo’s, recessions, 5 m.p.h bumpers, pollution control and people starting to notice shoddy quality all contributed to amazing cars getting neutered or snuffed out altogether. American Motors struck the deal with the filming company as part of a product placement program: “James Bond drives an AMC, so should you!” It really turned out to be, ”James Bond Drives an AMC, sucks to be him!” Like I said, these cars were not all bad, just a victim of current affairs. Ultimately, AMC survived another 13 years largely on the laurels of the Jeep brand. Chrysler bought them from Jeep, and folded the AMC.

Car: Citroen 2cv

Movie: For Your Eyes Only

Easily the car with the most character on this list, also my favorite. This was one of the longest production runs of any car 1948-1990. This car has existed in the same escargot form for 42 years and managed to still be relevant. The best part? The 2cv never made more than 29 horsepower. The 2cv has been used all over the world and was especially popular in Africa and South America where its solid build and comfortable handling was suited to rough roads in developing counties. Bonus marks for having a box style 2 cylinder engine that is air cooled. James Bond loves unique engines of all sizes! Citroen is still doing battle in Europe. They are doing quite well in there home market but the European economy has had its impact on everyone.

And there you have it. A brief history of the lesser-known bond cars as explained by a car enthusiast.

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We love car people!

Auto|One Group hosted a booth at the Markham Rib fest this weekend. We all had a great time and enjoyed far too much food. The weather was about as predictable as the electronics on a classic British sports car but the weather did not dampen spirits. 

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One of the things we like to do at any event we sponsor is set up a tent and display a couple of cool cars. In our tent is  a TV that is hooked up to a Sony PS3 and the game Gran Turismo is always loaded. We also have a Lamborghini wheel coffee table and a keg in our tent that looks like a man cave. We let people sit in our amazing racing seats and play the game for as long as they like. One day we decided to start giving them away as prizes to people who could score the fastest lap time on a racetrack. We were displaying a gorgeous 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG so we decided it should be the car that people have to race on the track.

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our setup at Rib-fest

On Saturday Vladimir was in line to win the chairs, he had claimed top time by just over one second. The second place prize was going to be claimed by JB. These two had been battling it out for a couple of hours for fastest lap. Second prize was a keg (this is a keg for drinks or motor oil and definitely not alcohol). Sunday came around and a guy came up to our booth named Rory. Rory’s friend- JB had alerted him to the contest we were running. Rory casually approached us and asked if it was okay for him to take a crack at posting the best lap-time. What ensued was quite funny and remarkable.

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Vladimir Watching Rory work his magic on the track

Rory wanted to change all the settings of the controller and all the settings of the car as well (ringer!). Rory had been practicing at home before he came to race. He was hell bent on winning the chairs and claiming best lap time because he did not get up for a solid half hour. When he did it was to recharge the controller and stretch the carpel tunnel from his fingers. News travels fast because shortly there after Vladimir came back to reclaim the title of fastest lap ( the difference in times was less than a second… these guys are good).  Rory and Vladimir went back and forth for an hour or so trading secrets and discussing strategy all while Rory was talking with us. We really got to know him and liked his approach to cars: expensive is not necessary, speed and cornering is.

 

Rory lost the title of fastest lap and could not stay to re-claim his title because of soccer obligations. We thought both of them showed so much enthusiasm that we should give them both a set of racing chairs. Vladimir took his directly from the show. Rory had to come to our office to pick his chairs up.

Rory is the essence of a car guy. He sees cars for there true beauty, not just there looks. Case in point: We may think nothing of a Toyota MR2 this was an under powered Japanese attempt at a sports car in the 1980’s-1990’s. Rory knows better. He saw a small compact car that is light and has perfect balance from its mid-engine, rear wheel drive layout. He has owned 2 of them. Same year, same colour, total fluke. The first one was a self described butcher hack-job turbo that was what we call a 10 footer. The car looks great from 10 feet back but the closer you get the more things don’t ad up. Misaligned hack-job is how it was described to me. 

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The MR2 that survived one hour

I asked  Rory what his most memorable car story was and related this to me: When he was a kid he really wanted a nice handling car that was very tuneable. Honda S2000’s were out of the budget as were all the other expected tuner cars. He opted for the above mentioned Toyota MR2. It was located north of Collingwood. He went to pick up the car with a dealer plate (Rory worked for a car dealership as a gopher at the time) and drove his new pride and joy home. This was to be a short-lived joyous occasion. Not one hour into the ownership of his first car Rory got pulled over by the fuzz.

$5,000.00 for no insurance

$1,000.00 for improper license plate

$500.00 for bald tires

$300.00 tow truck bill.

Car was off the road for 2 years the following day as a result. The car was sold shortly thereafter because insurance was unbelievably expensive. Rory got a second one when insurance premiums came back into the stratosphere. He felt like he was robbed of the first one.

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MR2 #2. note the mid engine t-tops and mid 90’s green. I dare you to tell me this car is not clean/awesome.

Rory’s daily driver is a 1993 Ford Escort. It is called the Black Mamba. Yes, you read that correctly.  It has manual windows, no power brakes, no air conditioning, no tape or c.d. player (it might be AM radio only). The steering wheel does not tilt or telescope. Rory’s girlfriend Amanda hates it. I can not blame her for hating the car but a car guy can not be blamed for falling in love with that Escort. The body is in good shape, the lack of options means it is light and the manual transmission gives the driver ultimate control of the road. It even has Perelli tires on it… most people reserve the good tires and lack of creature comforts for there weekend racer but Rory would rather have fun all the time. Rory is a car guy.

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the Black Mamba lives!!!

His girlfriend Amanda is a pretty wicked car girl as well. She drives an Acura RSX type S and loves to row her own gears. From talking Amanda it is evident that she likes to kick in her own V-TEC and does not like anyone else sitting in her drivers seat. I have been given strict instructions to let her know when we get a Lamborghini in stock so she can take it for a spin. She loved getting a tour of our facility and our delicious cars as much as Rory did.

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Amanda DEMANDS the best parking spot available. don’t touch her car!

When Rory is not working for the devil that prevents me from owning really fast cars (Rory works for an insurance company) he is playing soccer, watching formula 1 with his entire family (even his mother in fanatical about F1!) or dreaming about owning a Porsche 911 GT3 RS.

Rory is the essence of a car guy. He sees cars for what they really are and has fun with them. He modifies when necessary and leaves them stock when not necessary. He likes to get his hands dirty and do his own work.  We would never have met Rory and Amanda if they had not been alerted to the contest we were running at the Markham Ribfest. We love connecting with other car people and sharing the passion.

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We hope you enjoy your chairs Rory!

YOUR ESCAPE FROM THE WORLD: MAN CAVES!

Man caves.

As far back as the Flintstones (my version of history) man has wanted a family, and a car. Cars are quite accommodating, they let us sit in them, jump in the back seats, eat in them and sleep in them. They are in a sense a traveling living room/kitchen/bedroom/storage room. Our cars are very nice to us in that respect and never tell us to wipe off our feet or not spill ketchup on the seats. Unfortunately, we are not as willing to let our cars into our living rooms. When was the last time you invited your car into the kitchen for a cold one? When was the last time you had you car over for a scotch and chat about world politics and horsepower? The answer is never because cars are not allowed to infiltrate our homes… only our souls, hearts and minds.

Lets talk about your man cave.

The man cave is the happy medium between bringing your car in the house and you spending all your time in your garage. After all, there is no place you would rather be than with your pride and joy- the automotive kind, not the offspring kind. In the past several years I have noticed an increase in Man Caves being created. People-both male and female alike are starting to invest some creative energy and money into there garage/shed/workshop/basement/wherever-your-car-sleeps-at-night.

What defines a man cave? In my opinion it needs some type of vehicle, some car parts littered around the area, a stool or two so you can be comfortable while you talk to your car and a fridge for cold ones. That was the norm for decades. Before man caves were called man caves. Now people are spending more time with their automotive brethren and are sprucing the places up a bit. It is not uncommon to see automotive inspired art hanging on walls, beer fridges shaped like tool chests and old kegs that have been converted into coolers. There are many cool ideas floating around for making a man cave yours. We will explore some of them. These themes are not just limited to a garage space either either.

Bathrooms:

Bar/kitchen:

Workshop:

As you can see the man cave movement has livened up our automotive haciendas and made them more fun to be in. They also act as a conversation piece.

The man cave is just as much about function as it is form though. You need to be able to get around and under your vehicles to do routine maintenance, a 1.5-2 car garage minimum is needed so you are not rubbing the paint off your car. You will need good lighting for when you drop small parts into the abyss that is your engine bay.  ready access to tools and any parts necessary, I recommend good ratchets, screwdrivers, and torque wrenches. If you have a newer car that runs off a similar system to the Hal 9000 from 2001 A Space Odyssey than you should probably invest in a digital computer scanner as well. Having internet access is important for times when you genuinely don’t know what you are doing. At this time it is important to convince those around you and yourself that you do in fact know what you are doing. You are simply going online to make sure you have the “right tools” to do the job. Jack stands are nice, an actual car lift will make you the envy of all the other cave men on the block though.

Whats that you say? You have trouble changing a light bulb and just need a place to escape to? Not a problem, the man cave is your oasis from the rigors of life. The Man cave is YOUR SPACE! Only you can go in there and play classic arcade Pac-Man by the light of your neon beer signs. Only you can go play Free Bird on Guitar Hero without need for headphones. Also you have an excellent singing voice…. When your by yourself. The man cave is your space to do as you please. It is your escape from reality and does not solely need to be about cars, we just recommend that is is. And that it has a certain automotive theme.

I have just given you a good rundown of how to setup your man cave for actual wrenching. The decor is up to you. I have merely provided some suggestions. Keep this in mind when setting up your man cave: The cooler the space, the more your friends will want to hang out and help you work on your automotive legend.