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!

 

Classic Nissan Love- sports car edition

Nissan’s roots in the auto industry can be traced back as far as 1914. The Nissan nameplate was first used during the early 1930’s. Over time this small Yokohama, Japan based company has blossomed into one of the largest automotive companies on the planet. They sell vehicles on every continent and can be found everywhere from the fastest racetracks to the deepest jungles. They can also be found at Woodbine Nissan, located across the street from Woodbine racetrack at hwy 27 and Vice Regent Blvd. Woodbine Nissan is part of the Auto|One Group.

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The history of this company is quite interesting (they built airplanes!). Nissan’s have had more name changes than The Artist Formerly Known As Prince: DAT, Datsun, kwaishinsha, Nippon Sango, the list goes on… They have had more business partners and trade allegiances than Justin Beiber has Twitter followers: Hitachi, Prince Motors, Ford, Austin, Yamaha, Mitsubishi, Renault and Daimler to name a few. Some of these trade alliances are still in effect to this day. This is not why you are reading this blog though. You are reading this blog because you love cars as much as we do. Let’s dive into Nissans rich and delicious sports car history. We will save Nissan’s bulletproof trucks for another blog as they deserve their own.

The Datsun Fairlady was Nissans answer to the MG’s and Triumphs. These adorable 2 seat convertibles were originally introduced in 1959 and a blast to drive. The first examples were  only 37 horsepower and the engine was less than 1 liter but the sporting abilities were undeniable. Incredibly light, spry, spunky and basic these cars grew into a 2 liter engine by 1967 pushing upwards of 150 horsepower in competition guise. This may not seem like much but consider this: curb weight of just over 2,000 pounds, 200 kilometer per hour ability, better fuel economy than your midsize sedan in the garage and a motor that revved to 7,000 RPM. This was in 1967. While most people were too busy getting there first muscle car at the time, those who did notice these beautiful imports were treated to one of the most organic driving experiences. These were the first sports cars that were imported from Nissan to North America, they are quite rare and should be worshiped by all for what they contributed to vehicle dynamics.

Nissan S30 is what replaced the Fairlady. You probably know them better as the “Z” cars. These were the first of the cult cars from Datsun/Nissan. The nameplate has been around for enthusiasts to lust over since 1969 with out losing there shirts. These cars were sports car bargains when sold new, part of Nissan’s strategy to gain a foothold in the North American market. Despite a brief hiatus from market these cars have still remained a viable option for many buyers. This is because of a simple formula that Nissan has followed. All cars are offered in manual transmission, rear wheel drive and offer a smooth high revving 6 cylinder engine in a 2+2 body. These cars have stood the test of time with their long sloping hood, sweeping cabin and flat short trunk. They look like and perform like what you would expect from a sports car.

The Datsun Z was the first Japanese car to truly capture the heart of North American buyers who were looking for a cheap, fun, reliable alternative to the gas guzzling, heavy American V8’s of the day that were not as “tossable” in corners.

From the original 240z, 260z and 280z/x-turbo the 300zx of the late 1980’s was born. Never as popular as it’s 1990’s replacement. Yes, they both had T-tops (so cool!) but only in the 1990’s did Nissan ditch the angular styling of the 80’s for something sleek and include wicked turbos! Nissan understands that turbos are like love birds, they blessed the 300zx with two turbos. This would lead to the 350Z of early 2000’s. these cars have always remained relevant and true to their core followers. No front wheel drive has been offered, no overbearing electronic nannies, just good clean fun form a reliable sports car. Today we have the 370z that still holds true to those original roots of the 240z from 1969

Up to now we have talked about sports cars but imagine creating a car that is so intense, powerful and intimidating that your home market jokingly calls it Godzilla. When Nissan unveiled the Skyline that is the nickname it earned through its reputation of destroying the completion and owning any racetrack it shows up to. All-wheel drive, manual transmission, and turbo’s the size of Jay Leno’s chin… these cars were a recipe for fun right from the factory. Technically the first skyline appeared in the mid 1950’s on the Prince nameplate which was eventually absorbed by Nissan. The ones that really changed the face of the Japanese sports car market however are the later R32, R33 and R34 bodied cars built from 1989-2002 era. This is when Nissan decided to put the power to all four corners of the car. Keep in mind that this recipe came out in the late 1980’s when most manufactures were still touting that disc brakes were standard. This is the template that other manufactures adopted for their sports cars.

They were never officially imported to the North American market, however they do show up on our shores as grey market imports and they are becoming increasingly popular to see at a show’n shine or import tuner car show. These cars are a favorite of aftermarket tuners because of their robust drivetrain and customizable suspension. It is not uncommon for GTR’s to make 800 reliable horsepower in the hands of someone skilled.

The Nissan Silvia was the little sibling with attitude to the Nissan Skyline. Originally marketed as an economy sports car, what set them apart from the Honda accord 2-door and Toyota Celica was that it was rear wheel drive. These cars have not been sold new in North America since 1998 however you can still see them all over the car scene. Coveted by drifters for their rear wheel dive setup, ease of use and cheap to modify. The 4 cylinder powertrains they came with can be swapped out for a 6 cylinder  or just ad massive turbos to the current 4 pot! They usually have bashed up corners, no bumpers and sometimes no hoods…. Not to worry though! It is a Nissan! Bulletproof in every other way that your crappy driving is not.

For more information on Nissan’s rich history, drop by Woodbine Nissan. They are always happy to assist in all manner of driving needs. Want to talk about classic Nissans  no problem- they are car people too, just like you!

Corvette, surprise! (not what you think)

At Auto|One Palladini we specialize in helping people get into the car that best meets their needs and the payments that work best. A by-product of this process is that often times we learn a great deal about the customer, their job and family.

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Recently we delivered a gorgeous 2005 Corvette to a great guy named Conrad. Conrad was purchasing this car as a toy for himself. He told me he would probably drive it only 6,000kms per year and in the summer months only. Mostly Sunday cruises with his wife or his car savvy 18 month old son who is by all accounts is an aspiring gearhead (he loves the sound of the engine). The deal was finalized on a Wednesday with the stipulation that the car was subject to a pre-purchase inspection on the following Wednesday. As usual we chatted via email prior to the pre-purchase inspection to make sure that everything was okay.  Winter is a sketchy time to drive a rear wheel drive sports car in the streets. Snow, salt, slush or in Toronto’s case rain can ruin plans for a cruise almost instantly. On Wednesday the weather looked great so we met at the predetermined shop to do the inspection.

 

While the car was having the inspection done Conrad told me about how this car was a gift to himself and he was so excited to enjoy it in the summer….his face lit up as he spoke about the long drives together………..then

 

His wife had taken their son shopping on the Sunday before the inspection and come home with a t-shirt for their 18 month old . She showed the shirt to Conrad and said “what do you think?” Conrad looked at the t- shirt and was immediately puzzled. The t-shirt said: “super big bro”. Conrad said; It’s nice but was it on sale? We only have one child”. This was Conrad’s wife’s way of saying that they were having another child. Conrad told me that one of his first thoughts was “oh no! I just put a deposit on a sports car and now I am going to be a dad again!” This left me with a pit in his stomach. Is this Conrad’s way of saying he now can’t commit to the car? For reference: if there is ever a valid excuse for going back on a deal for a high performance sports car, THIS IS IT!!!. Once the inspection was completed and the car got a clean bill of health it was time for the test drive.

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Leading up to this t Conrad had been a champ. He hadn’t backed out on the acquisition and was still committed to the deal but, sometimes a drive is needed to put things into perspective. We went for a drive on city streets and the highway. 436 horsepower to the rear wheels, manual transmission, Borla exhaust on an American classic…. All these are sublime distractions from the pressures of parenthood- especially at 5,400 rpm. Conrad brought the car back turned it off and immediately asked “when can I take delivery”. Conrad is clearly a gem and a car guy.

 

Several days later he came to Auto|One Palladini with his wife and son to see the car. His son loved the showroom and the sound of the Corvette. They say that behind good man is a better woman. Conrad’s wife is an amazing woman. I congratulation her on the new addition to the family (and the baby) and asked her how she felt about her husband getting a Corvette? She loved the car and was very excited about the new automotive addition to the family as well.

 

Happy endings are what it is all about. Auto|One Palladini once again demonstrated how it’s not about selling cars but building relationships.  Conrad got a his car fantasy and the. Conrad’s wife ( I would use her name here) got  the ultimate “remember-when-we-were-pregnant-and-you-got-a-corvette” card. Conrad’s son gets to ride shot-gun (he might be too young for that – we need to show we are aware of the rules!!!!)  in an American classic.

 

Adding new members to the family is always a good thing………… cars, children, pets or cars… we love them all.

 

 

UPDATE!!! Conrad’s wife played the “remember-when-we-were-pregnant-and-you-got-a-corvette card.” We have it on good authority that Conrad is in the midst of a walk-in closet renovation. For his wife…..and the Corvette!!!!!!

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