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.

automotive stereotypes/myths debunked!!!

I had someone tell me last weekend that a Porsche Boxster is a “poor man’s Porsche”, people who buy them secretly lust after a 911. I must say that I was rather upset. Not because I have one in the family and it offended me. I was upset because I thought how can anyone call themselves a gear head/ car enthusiast and make such a poor generalization.

Let’s examine 3 popular automotive stereotypes/myths. We can examine the issues, explore the root and put the issues to bed once and for all.

Porsche Boxster/Cayman

Porsche introduced the Boxster in 1996 as a 2 seat alternative to the 911. Where the 911 had a larger price tag and a rear mounted engine, the boxster was cheaper and had its flat-6 engine mounted directly behind the driver. This enabled the design of the Boxster to be more of a roadster than the 911 in fact the name Boxster is a combination of boxer (nickname for a flat motor) and roadster, hence the name BOXSTER.  Its coupe brother the Caymans shares this mid-engine, rear wheel drive layout.

The myth:

The myth behind these cars is that real men drive the 911 and the Boxster/Cayman is a car for your wife/girlfriend to drive. The other myth is the one that caused this blog to be written: the Boxster/Cayman is the Porsche you get when you cannot afford a 911.

The reality:

The 911 has been called “the worst sports car design executed brilliantly”. Yes its lines are iconic and it has been around for 50 years. Yes it is one of the few sports cars you can drive year round. But, if you have driven one at the limit you know how unforgiving a car the 911 is. The rear engine platform means that when the back end slides out it is very hard to correct. Where the 911 falls short in corners the Boxster/ Cayman shines. Its mid-engine platform is optimal for a sports car. The flat motor means it can be mounted lower in the car-thus giving the car a lower center of gravity. This is why the Boxster/ Cayman is the ultimate track machine. Brilliant handling, telepathic steering, ultimate control, with no fear of parking in the bushes at the end of a corner.

Mazda Miata

In production since 1989 the Mazda Miata is a minimalist vehicle that supplies maximum fun. Based on the premise of Italian and British cars of the 1960’s and 1970’s these cars are loads of fun (but unlike the cars they are based on the Miata is reliable). These cars are not about massive power and technical advancement. From the outset you could only get a small inline 4 cylinder. The only electrical nannies are the ones mandated by the government (air bags, ABS, ect..) the original cars had noting and a/c was rare (pretty cool in my opinion) The Miata is the ultimate connection between driver and road. The Miata is a hands on approach to driving. Small, light, basic, rag top, FUN!

The myth:

“the Miata is a chicks car”. Guys who drive them are sissies.

The Reality:

Nothing will ruin your credibility as legitimate car nut faster than subscribing to the above mentioned myth. The Miata is small and tossable, a blast to drive in corners. Race cars are just as much about handling as they are about speed. The Miata is no different, and the cost of smiles is cheap. These cars are cheap to purchase and easy to maintain. It is a track car made street legal and then they chopped the top off for good measure. Anyone who subscribes to the myth that a Miata is a chick’s car has never driven one.

Paddle shift transmissions

In the last decade or so automated transmissions have begun to pop up more and more in our sports cars and super cars… even in our performance sedans. They offer faster, more precise shifting. They are tied into all the other electrical systems in our cars. This means that they work in sync with everything else-suspension, throttle input, differentials, brakes, ect… By surrendering another driving task over to our vehicle overloads we have given cars the ability to make sure we are making the right gear change, at the right time.  .

The Myth:

“bro, you don’t have a clutch?!? It’s not a real sports car”. Automated manuals are slower and less responsive than a manual transmission.

The Reality:

You are not as fast as a machine. I don’t care who you are. Also, you will miss a shift once in a while-don’t act like you’ve never done it. Automated manual transmissions erase driver error and human’s sluggish reaction time. You are also probably grouping automated manuals in the same category as a traditional slush-box automatic transmission. This is incorrect as auto-mated manuals are more technologically advanced than the entire NASA program during the 1960’s, and they put a man on the moon. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and McLaren use them exclusively now and by all accounts Porsche is not far behind. In other words, get on board because this is the future. If you are looking for a purest sports car

Any other automotive stereotypes you want debunked?

Yorkville Recap

This past Sunday Auto|One Group participated in the Yorkville Auto Show. For those of you that were in attendance you already know how good the show was. For those of you that were preoccupied with fathers day’s festivities, cleaning your house or something equally lame this is a recap of what you missed:

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The day started out as a disaster. Lots of rain and the possibility of thunder storms threatened to cancel the entire event. Mother Nature thankfully thought of father time (it was that or father Christmas) and decided to grant us sunshine and dry pavement. By 11:30 the streets had dried and the party started. Auto|One Group was situated in the center of the action with a tent set up for fun! We had a raffle to give away a TV, auto racing inspired lounge chairs, a keg and offered 25% off our car-bar detailing services to all in attendance.

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We displayed a gorgeous 2011 Porsche Panamera GT TECH-ART edition. The car has $80,000 in upgrades and looks breathtaking to say the least. Visitors to the booth really appreciated our laid back attitude towards our cars. No velvet rope or fences. We invited people to get up close and personal with the car. Throughout the day we would start the car and let the exhaust play the music instead of the sound system. Our Porsche has the ability to raise the hair on just about everyone’s neck when it hits 5000 RPM.

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The cars were fantastic. We were situated between a row of classic and modified BMW’s to the west and a row of classic Corvettes to the East of us. Across from us was a melange of high end European exotics Mercedes SLS, Mclaren, Tesla were some of the automotive art sitting across from us. The Yorkville Exotic car show is great because you see the cars that made your childhood and adolescence exciting. Lamborghini Diablo? It was there. Porsche 930 tubo? Yep BMW M6 with the gold BBS honeycomb rims? You bet! 1958 corvette, ohya… the list of high classics is both extensive and long. It was like seeing all those sweet 70’s, 80’s and 90’s posters come together but without the teased hair or the acid washed jeans…

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The new cars could not be ignored. SlS AMGs, Lotus, Bentleys, vipers, Aston Martins, 911gt3s, Ferraris ect… They were all amazing and I thought many of them looked better with the water beading off of their wonderfully sculpted bodies than in the sunshine. Fortunately I was able to see them both wet and dry. You always picture these cars as trailer queens that only come out on the sunniest of days, and even then they are under an umbrella or something ridiculous.

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Auto|One Group definitely had one of the best booths on display. We had all sorts of contests including a blackjack table, video game hooked up so that people could race their favorite cars and wicked music. Not to mention candy and drinks for attendees. We love to put on a party. When we can do it and get the community involved we are elated.

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Whats next for us? Markham Ribfest! Join us July 5th– 7th at Markham City Hall! Join us as we bring two important things together at last. Horsepower and Meat together at last.

Fathers day- because your dads a car nut!

Auto|One Group would like to wish all the dads out there a happy father’s day! We will be partaking in the Yorkville exotic car show this weekend at Bloor st and University ave. if you don’t want to take dad to the same old brunch why not bring him to Yorkville? There will be lots of high end exotic cars for you and dad to salivate over. There will also be lots of classic cars in attendance, you will owe it to your dad to listen to him when he looks at a classic car and says I remember when I was a kid and, bla, bla, bla…. Its father’s day! Entertain him! The Yorkville Father’s day Car show is also about helping dads. The event raises awareness about prostate cancer.

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The best father’s day we ever gave my dad was in 2009. My dad loves classic cars. Being raised in rural Alberta there was not much to do other than chase women, play hockey and race hot rods. My dad is a fan of the fin cars- the ones from the mid 1950’s to the early 1960’s that were made during the height of American’s obsession with aerospace. These were grandiose times when America was king, the cars were kings of the road and everyone was clamoring to get on a jet plane or watch some seemingly hair-brained scientists at NASA try and thrust someone into outer space. The Jetsons were making living in space both realistic and fun! Chrome was a good thing. Fins were better. Seatbelts did not exist.

Dad always wanted a classic car from that era but would never pull the trigger on getting one. He would cite things like paying for kids school, saving money for the possibility that one of his kids would need bail, paying for a vacation or paying for a home renovation. Stand-up guy all around my dad would always do for others before he would do for himself. We figured that we would take the excuses out of the equation buy one for him. It was early June and we hashed out a plan to get it and surprise him in time for father’s day.

We needed to get a car first. As I have blogged in the past my father, brother and I all share the same taste in cars. I knew that he would want something 2 door and hard top (no pillar between the front and rear window. I also knew he would want tail fins that take up more space than the Skydome (Rogers center? Never heard of it).

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After much deliberation and some serious soul searching we settled on a 1959 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 that was located in an Amish community. No joke, the seller of the car had a collection of classic American cars in an Amish community. The seller did not know what to make of a couple of kids not much older than teenagers showing up and telling him there plans. I’m not sure what was more out of place. Classic cars in an Amish community or us discussing te merits of these cars with a seller who could have been my grandfather. Regardless, a deal was struck and the following week the car was delivered to our leasing company in Toronto.

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this is where we got the car. it was like stepping back in time. note the vintage gas pumps.

We had the car waiting down the road that father’s day Sunday and had the whole family over for a barbecue. After dinner we told my dad to go out front and see if he left the lights on in his car. When he opened the door he was greeted to this sitting in the driveway.

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We timed it so that I drove the car up to the house as dad was walking down the front step. There was some confusion, laughing, crying and jumping up and down but at the end of it all dad was really happy. He loves his 1959 Oldsmobile. We loved surprising him with it because we could think of no better gift for the dad who is a car nut.

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Our patriarchal car nut loves telling even perfect strangers all about his car. How it is bone stock accept for the fuzzy dice hanging from the mirror. He gets a kick showing people how big the trunk is or how quite it is on the highway. Above all his favorite thing to tell people is the story of how he was surprised with it on fathers day.

Grand Prix Montreal

 

Wow, formula one was a dusey this year. Grand Prix Montreal is usually known for its unpredictable weather and this year did not disappoint. Friday’s testing of the cars was mixed precipitation and somewhat slippery. Saturdays qualifying was off and on rain and left the track quite wet. Well trained eyes could see the rooster tails coming off of the massive tires. Sunday brought mixed sun/clouds and it was beautiful. Sunday was not too hot, no humidity and the sun would come in and out of the clouds- perfect for racing. It forced drivers to bring there A game and pay attention for the entire weekend.

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Vettel cleaned up shop and got 25 points in the process. The fun was not in watching who took pole position, Vettel had it on lock from the pole position where he started. The fun was in watching the likes of Alonso start from a 6th place pole position and claw his way up to second place, beating Lewis Hamilton in the process. Hamilton had a good race but the 3-time Canadian GP winner could not keep up as he had chosen tires poorly. Hamilton was somewhat favored to win, as he has done so well at this track in the past.

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Kimi Raikkonen had a disappointing race. He was penalized 2 spots on the starting grid for exiting pit lane too quickly. He had to start from the 10th position and try to makeup the difference much like Alonso…. Unlike Alonso, Kimi could not get his cards shuffled properly and had to settle for a disappointing 9th place finish. The race seemed to be more about strategy and predicting weather patterns than it did about outright speed. If you made one bad decision in the pits or one ill-timed pit stop than that was it for you and your car.

 

There were no fiery crashes, no launches into lower orbit. The wall of champions chose not to kiss any drivers this year, if it did they were more of a peck than a kiss. This is not to say it made for a boring race. Massa, Gutierrez, Hulkenberg and Guarde all had accidents, resulting in the latter two being knocked out of the race.

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Montreal was amazing as always. Saturday night everyone was out in their own race cars. It was the pride of Ferrari at the impromptu car show but an orange Bugatti aced the show (it really stole our hearts). Everyone was out enjoying themselves in their favorite team colours and having a great time.

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We had a dozen members in our posse.  Auto|One Group made sure we had amazing seats for both qualifying and race day. Saturday’s wet qualifying saw us sitting in the 31st section, overlooking turns 8 and 9. This is the section that brakes up the two back straightaways. Drivers come to visit us with the bugs hitting their helmets at upwards of 300 kmph they down shift/brake/pray to about 120 kmph to hook a right hander and then keep their speed and blast back up to 160 kmph as they are waving good bye to the grandstands. Think this is easy? If you are a physics major than you know that it is not. These guys put down 2.5 plus G’s. IN THE RAIN! Our seats on Saturday made for some entertaining rear wheel slippage as the cars exited the final corner. It was amazing to watch the strategy of these drivers as they navigated these turns in the wet.

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Sunday had us sitting in the 22nd section. These seats were great because we could see and hear the racers braking/downshifting/praying as they go from 7th gear and 300 kmph down to 1st gear and 50 kmph to navigate the big 180 degree bend. Once they are on the other side of that bend they are at the beginning of the main straight away where they hit 320 kmph. It is at this time that the cars fly by us accelerating faster and louder than your mind can comprehend (they bump 3rd, 4th and 5th gears in front of us) and then it’s off down the straightaway. It is one thing to hear these vehicles accelerate but another thing all together to appreciate them down shifting. Anyone who tells me that a clutch pedal is better than a paddle shift has never been up close to a 18,000 rpm formula 1 car that is downshifting.

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We had a great time at the race and cannot wait for the next opportunity to see/smell/hear race cars!

 

FORMULA 1 VISITS MONTREAL AND WE ARE GOING!!!

This is a busy motorsports week at Auto|One Group. We have 2 teams that are in the midst of the Bullrun Rally. Through regular contact we have found out that they are kicking butt and taking names. Our Porsche 928 from the era of Duran-Duran and acid washed jeans is a force to be reckoned with and team Texas has been full utilizing the V-10 power of the Audi S8 that has been provided…

We will go into the logistics of how a car from the Reagan era has been kept on the road and how it has managed to do as well as it has. Our strategy will not be exposed until after the race has been completed! Clue: it involves sorcery, voodoo and synthetic motor oil.Image

Back in Toronto though we are gearing up for a big weekend in Montreal, Auto|One thought it fitting to send a hockey teams worth of people to see the formula one race this weekend. There are 12 members of our Montreal party/ Formula one club. We are primed and ready for action! Seriously. We have been counting down the departure day to Montreal since the end of May. We may or may not already have a cooler with ice and beer in it.

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This weekend promises to be a good one. Whether you are cheering for a team/ manufacturer or a country the stakes are high. The circuit Gilles-villeneuve (yes named after THAT Villeneuve). The race has been conducted since 1970 and has lots of heritage. It was the only stop on the formula circuit for many years. These racers hit 315kmph… if they are slow. They are subjected to over 2 g’s in the corners. Think about that for a second. It’s a 305km race. The stakes are high with no margin for error. Single degrees on the steering wheel can mean the difference between hitting the wall and blasting a straight away. Milliseconds of hesitation can be the difference between hooking a perfect corner and slamming into a wall…. Yeah these guys are pretty slick. This race has a famous corner with a wall dubbed the wall of champions. Famous for ending races/seasons of championship drivers.

We will celebrate 3 major events Friday:

1)      This is the last night of the Bullrun. We will celebrate our mechanic’s and tech supports hard work in prepping the cars. We will also celebrate the drivers for skillfully keeping them out of the ditch and on the straight and narrow.

2)      We will celebrate Formula 1 in Montreal, one of the best events in one of the best cities for parting.

3)      We will celebrate the fact that it is Friday (oh… you don’t?… you should start, it’s good for you)

For those of you that are going to F1 in Montréal I would like to provide some helpful tips. If you have not made dinner reservations as of yet, don’t bother the restaurants will be very busy, same goes for clubs and bars. If you wear your team/ manufacture/ drivers merchandise, be prepared to defend your choice. Nobody wants to ask you about you team Red Bull shirt/hat/lanyard/face paint/pants/officially licensed shoes, and get I love that drink!  As a response to why you are wearing it. Plan a “hair of the dog” scenario… you will need it. Bring both your rain gear and sun screen. Qualifying is Saturday and it is going to be a wet one! This will make for some great driving. Race day however it will be sunny with cloudy periods.

RACERS TAKE YOUR PLACES!

Mikey Walk Of Life

Auto|One Group is proud to help out in the community. This weekend we will be taking part in the annual Mikey Walk for Life charity walk in support of the Mikey Network.

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The Mikey Network was created in 2003 after Mike Salem died of a tragic death of heart complications in 2002. Mike was a much loved member of the community and in his honor several people banded together to create the Mikey Network. They are dedicated to providing mobile Automatic External Defibrillator units to as many businesses, schools and households as possible. This is a great cause. Having the proper equipment and proper training could literally mean the difference between life and death. Since The Mikey Network has started countless lives have been saved and more people are getting on board with the program daily.

We have a sizeable group of Auto|One Group family and friends coming out to support us. Employees, family, children and even some 4 legged members of the team. To donate to this cause or learn more about the charity please visit: https://mikeynetwork.com/donate-to-mikey-network

My automotive degeneracy…

My name is Sam. I have friends. They race in demolition derby’s. I get them cars.

Now that we have that cleared up I can tell you a story of how I came to own a 2003 Mazda Protégé5 with 320,000kms.

Auto|One Group took possession of the above mentioned car back in October. It was a trade in that was valuated based on scrap weight… I bought the car sight unseen to use in a demolition derby. It is a manual transmission, 4 cylinder and a wagon. This car would cleanup at a demolition derby.

The issue was the car ran pretty well. It had power windows, a sunroof, brakes and smoke didn’t pour out from under the engine when it was stopped at a light.. It appeared to be in better shape than my current car. On a whim I had my mechanic check the car out so I would know what it would take to put it on the road. Everything seemed to be okay- not great, but okay. I had my winter beater! For the record I consider gas to be maintenance on a winter beater. This is not an easy life for a car.

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I told my friend that the car was not available and I licensed it in my name. That was 8 months ago. The car is now in dire need of a mechanics tender touch. Rattles, creeks, shakes, burps, squeaks all of these sounds have grudendly been tuned out by turning up the radio. Last week the antenna fell off my car in a tragic garage door accident that will not be elaborated on.

It is time to part with the car I fondly call “Rusty”. Much like pets and livestock you cannot name an animal or else you will form a bond that prevents you from doing what is right. This relationship has formed between me and Rusty. I cannot bring myself to let it suffer the brutal, bitter end of “The Fall Brawl”. This is the demolition derby held in Lindsay Ontario.

What does one do with a useless car that they love for reasons unknown? I pondered this question for quite some time. If I was a car at the end of my life what would I want to do? Well, if I was a zippy manual transmission car that had been subjected to a life of traffic, poor roads and salty winters (this car has grown up in Toronto and has lots of rust, so all apply) than I would want a cool send off from my owner. Don’t trash me in a grotesque demolition derby! Let me have fun, let me stretch my legs, dance, run jump.. LET ME RACE!! That is what Rusty is telling me through her rattles and squeaks.

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Where do I race such a beast? After some careful research I stumbled upon the 24 hours of LeMons. The cheeky name had me curious. This is the jest of it. Your car has to cost $500 or less and you need 6 drivers, no experience is necessary. Style points are awarded. This is more of an endurance race than a speed race. The tactic is to see how well your jalopy holds up against the competition and how long your car can survive while maintaining forward motion. This is all done on a race course. The course is New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville New Jersey. August 9th-11th 2013. If you are interested in coming or racing with us email me at scomisarow@autoone-palladini.ca

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Lets send Rusty off  in style! The car will be fully prepped with a roll cage, fire extinguisher, fuel cell and race tires. More info can be found at http://www.24hoursoflemons.com/