My recent trip to the Pebble Beach week in California and a trip to the nearby Chelsea Auto Legends made me think hard about the way the classic car movement is heading. Some years ago, I went on a rare trip to a well known hillclimb. Parked up at the back on the event was a Jaguar C-type, unpolished, original and almost carelessly abandoned. I was greatly impressed by such an effortless display of taste and style. My fellow race-goer took a picture and framed it for me as a Christmas present. I remember another Sunday lunchtime in Hertfordshire, when I was riding in the passenger seat of an original 1973 Porsche 911 RS Touring. We came upon the owner’s friend, who was driving his original, unpolished AC Ace. Okay, even a decade ago these were not cheap cars, but they were the epitome of automotive good taste. Today, however, things have changed. Cars like the C-type, Ace and RS Touring have become four-wheeled old masters. Prices have rocketed and they are now … [Read more...] about The epitome of cool?
After a tricky start to life in Europe, Infiniti has been coming on leaps and bounds lately. The Q30 hatch and QX30 crossover have given it some mass market appeal, but we’ve been looking at the opposite end of its product range. What’s this? Well, that’s certainly a question you’re going to have to get used to if you own one in the UK. This is Infiniti’s Q60, which we’ve tested in 3-liter, V6, twin-turbo, all-wheel drive flavor. In essence it’s the same as the Q50 saloon, but with a much sleeker body shape. Think of it as being like the BMW 4 Series is compared to the BMW 3 Series. Infini… who? While it might be a popular brand over in North America, Infiniti’s market presence is on the small side in Europe. In fact in the UK in 2014 it sold 746 cars. That’s all models across the whole year. By comparison, Ford was selling that many Fiestas every two days. For the uninitiated then, Infiniti is Nissan’s upmarket arm. … [Read more...] about First Drive: Infiniti Q60 V6
If you’re reading this magazine, it’s a fair bet you recognize the rampant bull logo as belonging to Automobili Lamborghini. There’s an equally strong chance you’re aware that most Lamborghini model names have some connection to bulls or bullfighting. You may even have heard that the newest one, Aventador, is named for a bull that fought especially valiantly in 1993. We knew all that, and we now know plenty more about how the LP700-4 performs at its extreme limits, having driven one to an indicated 200 mph on the circular test track in Nardo, Italy; to a 1-minute, 35.4-second best lap around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (our fourth best in a production car); and having held on tight for a 2.9-second 0-60 run. But what do any of us 21st-century Americans really know about the bulls and bullfighting culture that inspire these Lamborghinis? Not much. To fix that, I’ve read Hemingway’s love letter to the sport, “Death in the Afternoon,” packed … [Read more...] about In search of the Lamborghini Aventador’s “Death in the Afternoon”
How, you might well ask, does one increase the sex appeal of a 571-horsepower, two-seat supercar with jackknife doors and a body that magnetizes eyeballs like Heidi Klum in a Saran Wrap leotard? You let the thing run around topless, that’s how.Lamborghini has blown the top off of its magnum-force, all-wheel-drive, V-12-powered Murcielago. Now on sale in the U.S., with a base sticker of nearly $320K, the new Roadster assumes the role of flagship of Lamborghini‘s flamboyant fleet. “It is a car very much in the Lamborghini tradition–Italian, uncompromising, extreme,” says Luc Donckerwolcke, head of design at the new Centro Stile design center at Lambo’s home base in Sant’Agata Bolognese. “At the same time,” Donckerwolcke adds, “we didn’t want the Roadster to be a retro cliche. The design had to be pure, with no ornamentation.” Donckerwolcke confesses to having mixed emotions as he set out to craft an alfresco edition … [Read more...] about ’05 Hot Drives: 2005 Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster
Contestant Number One: “Alex, I’ll take Triple Plays for $400.” Trebek: “A Cezanne painting, supermodel Laetitia Casta, and the Porsche 911.” Contestant One: “Uh, what are things that need lots of oil?” Trebek: “Noooo, I’m sorry. As they like to say in France, ‘Vous etes une personne incroyablement ignorante.’ Anyone else care to buzz in?” Contestant Three: “Um, what are things that border on perfection?” Trebek: “Correct! Or, as they like to say in France, ‘Oui!’ “ Talk about jeopardy: The current 911 is so good–so refined, so fast, so coolly capable whatever the driving mission–that Porsche engineers may well be wondering, “How are we ever going to top it?” One answer, of course, is not to top the car, but to de-top it. Now available are two new open-air Porsches that actually enhance the already heady 911 experience: a Carrera 4S Cabriolet … [Read more...] about First Drive: 2004 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S and 911 Turbo Cabriolets
At $22,695, the Aura Green Line as the cheapest hybrid on the market, at least until the stripped-down 2008 Prius arrives later this month. However, to get to that price, GM cut some corners. Not enough to turn Picasso into Cezanne as in years past, but still enough to make you scratch your head. The 164-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-banger is just enough to move the car at a decent clip at reasonable conditions — say about 70 degrees with the A/C off. Once the mercury breaks the 90 mark and the A/C gets cranked up, however, the car feels woefully underpowered. The aging four-speed automatic is reluctant to downshift and provide anything resembling brisk acceleration. In fact, under those conditions, acceleration is bordering on dangerously slow for making in-traffic maneuvers. At a stop, the engine dies with a slight shudder and comes back to life as soon as the brakes are released. The stop-start system is disabled if the A/C is on unless it’s running in “green … [Read more...] about Quick Drive: 2007 Saturn Aura Green Line
Paul Cézanne was a stubborn, self-absorbed grouch who spent his life in a rolling revolt against urban elites. He hated insincerity, was allergic to falseness, distrusted suavity, and fled from even a whiff of like-mindedness. Modern art would be unthinkable without him. When Cézanne painted portraits — and his portraits are the subject of a riveting show at the National Gallery of Art (through July 1) — he didn’t want puffed up professionals or expert models schooled in the art of posing. He preferred cloddish, authentic types. Good, rural folk who were, in the words of the exhibition’s curator, John Elderfield, “unselfconsciously heroic.” There are 60 paintings in the National Gallery show, the first devoted to this crucial — if often baffling — aspect of Cézanne’s oeuvre. They take us from the 1860s, when Cézanne painted like a hormonal teenager head-butting everything in sight, through the 1870s when, using … [Read more...] about The sourest, meanest mouth in the history of portraiture