Category Archives: Co-Driver

Co-Driver: Casey Coull and the art of going sideways

Co-Driver is back with another piece written and photographed by Shawn Pierce. Pay Shawn’s Facebook page a visit to check out all of his photography.

In recent years, the once relatively unknown sport of drifting has seen tremendous gains in popularity. National races and tournaments are a regular occurrence and even here at home, local groups like Drift Spot and Drift Faction routinely hold events at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway during the summer months, filling the air with enough smoke to make Cheech and Chong jealous. I caught up with one of the local drift scene’s rising stars, Casey Coull, and got him to dish a little about his car, the sport, and his plans for the future.

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When did you initially get into drifting?

I started drifting back in April of 2010, but was first introduced to drifting in 2005. At the time my family and I were living in Tacoma, Washington. My older sister’s boyfriend, Victor Moore, got me into watching Initial D and I was instantly hooked. At the time, Victor had a stock black Nissan S13 hatch with 5zigen FN01RC, and to this day I can still remember the first time he drifted with me. I wound up moving to New Hampshire with my family later that year. It took five years, but eventually I found Drift Spot and was able to start drifting.

What did you do in your time away from drifting?Coull_240_04 TDC

When I first moved to NH I was a little lost because the car scene seemed totally dead. While I was still in school, drifting was put to the side and I picked up a BMX bike. The group of friends I had at the time didn’t have licenses either so we kept on pedaling. My junior year of high school is when I finally got my license.

What are you currently running?

It’s a 1992 Nissan 240SX (S13) coupe equipped with a S13 SR20 engine. It is a super basic setup with roughly 270 horsepower. You don’t need much to drift and be able to keep up with high horsepower cars. In fact, I did four one-more-times with a car that had an extra 200 hp on me! Some future goals would be to replace the S13 SR20 with a 1JZ VVTI. A stock JZ motor holds the power I will need to compete reliably. Eventually, I’d like start on a fresh new chassis and take all the things I’ve learned over the years building this car and build a new, perfect car for myself.

While Coull’s car might have a basic setup, there is nothing simplistic about its extensive upgrades and modifications. Under the hood it benefits from a host of performance parts including an aftermarket intercooler, intake, turbocharger, injectors, and fuel pump to name a scant few. His dedicated drift weapon also features completely a completely revised suspension setup, a full rollcage, and an interior barren of anything that distracts from the art of sliding about in great, smoky arcs.

Coull_240_02 TDCWhat is it about drifting that attracted you to the sport?

What I love most about drifting has to be the people. Drifting is not a competitive sport in my mind. Everyone is out there to just have fun, help each other, and make new friends. Even though we all get a little stressed out from time to time, you bet we are having the time of our lives. It is what I look forward to everyday, spend my money on, and it’s what keeps me happy.

In general, racing is expensive, how do you keep it affordable?

Well, drifting can be cheap. That is if you keep it basic and try not to be too different. Being different will cost you more in the long run. Keeping things simple will keep you on the track.

Are you sponsored or backed by anyone?

I am currently with Universal Technical Institute. In 2013 they brought me to a majority of my events. I am super stoked to be working with them again this year. I would like to pick up some tire sponsors in the future, and it would be nice to land a race team, but I have to start from the bottom and work my way up.

What are your goals for 2014 and beyond?Coull_240_11 TDC

My main focus this season is to get out to Englishtown and Lime Rock as much as possible to get lots of media coverage and hopefully catch the attention of a few sponsors. So as far as 2014 is concerned, I’m shooting for Pro AM events.

Is there anyone you would like to thank?

My family, Shawn Paradis, Russell Barcomb, Evan Tuerck, Justin Tuerck, Ryan Tuerck, Ryan Lannan, Chris Williams, Matt Cochran, Brain Mitchell, Tyler Bacon, Mike Simmons, George Osminkin, Nate Haskins, Jordan Threlfall, Dan Popowich, Jay Cyr, Kyle Landers, Matt Lavalette, Matt Gleason, Joe Ascoli, Tommy Brownell, Ryan Fothergil, Victor Moore, Pat Payne, Will Petropoulos, Tom Jewel, Ryan Woodbury, and Joe Grencho.

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Many thanks and much respect to Casey Coull for his time and effort on this piece, as well as to Shawn Pierce for his talents behind the pen and camera. You can follow all of Coull’s exploits on his website, xmgnfcntx.blogspot.com. He can also be found on Instagram (@risensun). 

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Co-Driver: Track Day Lemonade

Welcome to the brand new Top Dead Center series, Co-Driver. Here, fellow gear heads have an outlet for their automotive passions, whether it’s a exciting story to tell, photos to share, or the retelling of an epic adventure. Co-Driver’s inaugural entry comes from Shawn Pierce, a talented writer and photographer and friend of TDC, who had the chance to shoot a mint track-ready BMW e36 M3 and tell its owner’s unique story. Be sure to check out the Shawn Pierce Photography Facebook page for more of Shawn’s work.

You know the old saying: When life hands you lemons, make lemonade? Well, when life totals your Cadillac, what would be the equivalent of making lemonade? For BMWCCA driving instructor, Laura Fallis, it is made entirely of Bavarian lemons, clad in triple black, and wears an M badge.

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On a slick, rain dampened highway in 2006, Laura was involved in an accident that sent her Cadillac ETC off to the scrap yard. While trying to avoid an oncoming car that had veered unexpectedly into her lane, she hit the brakes, swerved off the road, and wound up against a guardrail. “I hit the guardrail hard. I watched the on-coming traffic as the car was launched off its wheels,” recalled Laura. “Only one wheel rode the bottom side of the guardrail, the rest of the car was airborne. I remember the car jolting and I thought it was going to roll. As the car landed sideways in the fast lane, I’m looking at on-coming traffic again and I’m thinking: please stop.” Thankfully they did and Laura Fallis_M3_08 small TDCwalked away from the accident with just bumps, bruises, and minor whiplash. The Cadillac, however, was a wreck and Laura was left with the task of finding a new daily driver.

It was just prior to all this that the track bug had bitten Laura hard. She completed the performance driving course at Skip Barber Racing School at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, and after that she was off to the races… literally. “I always wanted to race and I found myself with the opportunity to do so,” Laura explained.

A while later, Laura found a 1997 BMW e36 M3 that would eventually fulfill both her daily driver needs and track day desires. “I happened to drive by this BMW with a for sale sign on it,” said Laura. “For some reason it captured my eye, so I turned around, never suspecting this might be the one. But it was love at first sight. I took it for a test drive and the next thing I know, I have the title in hand and I’m off to get plates to pick her up.”

Fallis_M3_25 smallLaura quickly set about making her new M3 track worthy by asking one of the Northeast’s premier BMW tuners, Turner Motorsports (TMS), to work their magic. Kevin Holmes of TMS gave the car a thorough inspection. He found that overall the car was in good shape (it had been in a minor collision at some point but repairing it was simple), and he set to work on the upgrades to make the M3 the track rat Laura wanted. The car had already been equipped with an AFE cold air intake system, so Laura decided to focus on the suspension. She installed H&R sport springs and a Bilstein sport shock and strut set. She upgraded the front and rear sway bars and added reinforcements all around. They also added a BMW shark injector engine software upgrade which provides an increase in horsepower and torque, quickens throttle response, increases the rev-limits, and removes the top speed limiter. All things you want when pushing the limits on a race track.

After purchasing the M3 she became a member of the BMW Car Club of America (BMWCCA) and began attending numerous track day events with the club. Eventually, her driving prowess got her noticed and she was asked to be an instructor for the club. “I think they felt it an asset I am female,” said Laura. “I could make students comfortable and also give them that sense of instruction that none of the other instructors could.”

Laura has owned her M3 since 2006 and has driven it nearly every single day since. It now has more than 169,000 miles on the odometer, Fallis_M3_11 small TDC109,000 of which Laura put on herself. Over the years she has made upgrades to nearly every major system in the car including further upgrades to the suspension, a new cooling system, a Borla cat back exhaust, and an upgraded transmission with a short shifter out of a BMW Z3. She estimates three to five percent of those miles were put on during track days.

When asked about her unique vanity plate (VIXEN) Laura said, “A number of years ago at a track event there were a number ice racers there. There were a couple of vehicles that had Santa’s reindeer’s names on their plates. I thought… too cool! What better plate for a chick’s M3?”

Maybe LMNADE?

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– Many thanks and much respect to Shawn Pierce for his time and effort in creating this piece.

Searching For A Peach, Not A Lemon

Turbos, superchargers, and V8 engines are amazing qualities in cars, but they’re not the things someone might aim for when buying their first car after college.

TURBO!!!

Most recent college graduates are heading into the work force with an enormous amount of debt. Typically, the first car someone will buy will be either a standard entry level car like the Nissan Versa or Kia Rio, or they may head for a used car.  Even though these more sedate cars might not be what someone is really excited abut buying, they do have certain qualities that can make then a great buy.

The Nissan Versa

Tim Hogan, a sales representative for Bonneville and Son’s in Hooksett New Hampshire, explained that most dealers have “first time buyer” programs. These programs usually apply to recent graduates who have never bought a car and have little to no credit. These programs offer a unique opportunity for them to get a lower interest rate on a car, rather than going through the bank and carrying a higher interest rate. The program also saves the buyer some money and gives them a chance to re-finance after about a year of payments.

If a new Rio or Versa doesn’t tickle a buyer’s fancy, then they will be pointed into used car territory. And in this territory, especially with a first time car purchaser, there are many chances for someone to spend too much money on what could be a beater or lemon because the salesperson might just see dollar signs when helping a nervous young adult. Through my own personal experience of purchasing vehicles, and test-driving numerous cars, there are a couple of important rules that should be taken into consideration before visiting a dealership or talking to a salesperson.

The Kia Rio

First – A buyer must know his or her own financial situation. Too many times people go to buy a car and when they get there, realize that the price they want to pay doesn’t even come close to allowing them to buy the car they were looking at. Paul Schmitt at Kia in Concord, NH stated that most people aren’t aware of their credit score and because that factor directly applies to the purchase of the car, some people are in for a rude awakening.

Next – Buy for purpose, not pleasure. Until a buyer can afford the amazing car they really want (it wouldn’t matter if it’s uncomfortable or that it drains gas as much as final exams drain college students), they should try and be realistic with the purchase. A buyer should know what they are primarily going to use the car for and buy one that fits that specific purpose.

Finally, buyers should educate themselves. Once they have found the car they want, whether it is new or used, research that car. Knowing more about the particular make and model of the car than the salesman, makes someone stronger and leverages his or her options when it comes to making that first big automotive purchase.

Written By: Nick Paquin

Solo Contendere: Finding the racing line and discovering a passion

In this piece local gearhead Jon Havener details his first racing experience in a SOLO event held at Fort Devens in Ayer, MA. If there is even an inkling that you may potentially like to race someday, running in a Solo event is the best possible thing you can do. Check out the SCCA’s New England Region website at http://www.ner.org. Read on and enjoy!

Contrary to the pun, Solo racing can be a fantastic contest; however, even if competition is of no interest to you, they can serve as a way to mark your improvements as a driver.  It is a low risk, low danger environment with fantastic support from the volunteers who run it, each and every person at the events is an automotive enthusiast.  This article describes what I experienced at my first Solo event: The SCCA’s New England Region Episode VIII – Attack of the Cones.

Naturally, at any SCCA event you will come across people of varying degrees of automotive enthusiasm, such as the diehard “My watch always reads local Formula1 race time” gear-heads, and the “I better smell like friction metals by 5 p.m.” types.  Even so, everyone I met was more than happy to offer assistance, guidance and/or advice and my case share their equipment, tools and lunch.

When I first arrived, I was greeted warmly by my paddock neighbors Scott and Nancy.  They helped me get my car prepped for inspection, lent me tape to put numbers on my car and Scott actually let me borrow his helmet since we were racing in opposing heats.  After getting ready, I joined the rest of the Novice drivers and was introduced to the Novice instructors and proceeded to be bludgeoned with advice until the first heat.  I spent every possible moment before I was called to the grid reviewing strategies and trying to imagine the line I would take.  I had years of delivering pizzas, tempting speeding tickets, eye-balling snow banks, and melting my retinas playing racing simulators to contribute to my plans, but even with all my driving experience in front of me, I wasn’t able to lay it all down at once. 

Perched on the start line, I reviewed my plan one last time.  As soon as the flag dropped, I left everything behind.  It’s like the mental map, my strategy, and the line I had been imagining for the last hour had never existed.  My consciousness plunged into nothingness.  I had become fluid, electric… seeking the path of least resistance.  During those 59.936 seconds of my first lap, my conscious mind was in a place without need or expectation.  I observed, analyzed and acted… it was stunningly primal.  The vehicle and I were in complete harmony.  I simply was.  It was all very Tao.

Once the heat was over, there wasn’t a second to waste.  I ran out to Corner 3 with a few others and watched as the other drivers in the next heat screamed through the course.  A blur of numbers flew past me and knocked over a cone in the tight slalom section, forcing me to sprint out and return it to its’ home in the tiny white chalk-box before the next car came through.  Between trying to remember the number of the last car that passed, counting the cones hit, and running to return the cones, I realized what a great form of exercise this is.  I did not anticipate how tired I would be at the end of the day.

In my final heat I ran a 57.138, almost 3 seconds faster than my first lap.  I was left overwhelmed; between fetching cones and racing my brains out, I had no energy left.

I felt ruined and renewed, repurposed and refreshed.  And while it may not have been the most dramatic improvement that day, I can tell you the next time I went, I was able to see further down the track, analyze more, and do better in every turn.  Each time I go to a Solo event, I look forward to discovering something new or doing something better.  The course layout is always changing so you never end up seeing the same course twice. The results are posted online so you can view your time and gauge your personal progress.

So, what is the Solo experience really like?  My advice is to go and find out for yourself.  It doesn’t matter if you’re running a Prius or a Porsche, you will learn how to push the car to it’s limits in a way you’ve never done before. And besides, in the end, you’re really only pushing yourself.

 

– By J.R. Havener

Musings of a Car Guy: So Many Keys So Little Time, Part 2

Happy Friday. Last day of the week and you’re jacked for the weekend. It’s sunny out, you brought flowers in for your assistant because she fixed what she bumbled yesterday and her daughter is feeling better. Your boss actually apologized to you, which you wrote down on your calendar because you never know when that’s going to happen again, and people all over the office think you’re up to something questionable because you’re wearing a smile so big. They’re wrong though. You know why? You’re grinning like an idiot because you just romped down the back roads to work in your new McLaren MP4-12C and burnt through half a tank of fuel in 20 minutes.

McLaren MP4-12C

The McLaren’s name sounds like a call sign for an X-Wing from Star Wars. It should. It was born from the minds of the developers of the cult classic McLaren F1, widely regarded as the greatest supercar ever made, and comes loaded with power and tech. Kids around the world are ripping down their posters of the F1 and putting up the new MP4.

“Oh, the engine only has 3.8 liters,” says your monster-muscle Viper friend. Yep. It does. It also gets from 0-62 mph in 3.1 seconds, continuing on to 124.5 miles an hour in 8.9 seconds, and then finishes the quarter mile at 10.9. You’ve gone a quarter of a mile before your niece in her Prius has even gotten to 60 mph. Where was your Viper designed? In a barn? The MP4 was designed in a wind tunnel and on the race track with a little help from Louis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Maybe Dale Jr. can just stay home because your Viper isn’t getting any faster. Let me put the counter arguments to rest: The MP4-12C isn’t even the race version. It’s the street version for going to get a coffee at 200 mph. You want to see a real race car that’s going to have a road version in the near future? Google the MP4-12C GT3 car; go hold onto your willy and sit in the corner.

MP4-12C GT3

Wow. That was aggressive. Want something more aggressive?

Saturday. The weekend starts with a little shot of espresso and some toast with local raspberry jam, perhaps a bit of fresh grapefruit. Reason for the espresso is to wake you up and get those synapses firing. Why not regular coffee? You’re never going to want to get out of your Saturday track car so no bathroom breaks. Light breakfast while the rest of your family is mowing through their pancakes and sausage? You don’t want to be throwing up on the dash while pulling 1.5g’s. Kiss your wife, hug your daughter, and rustle your son’s mop of hair. Grab the key fob, open the garage doors, and slide into the seat of your Ferrari 599 GTO.

Welcome to the road going version of the Ferrari 599XX, the only road car from Ferrari to go sub-seven seconds on the infamous Nurburgring racetrack; 6:58.16 to be exact. A random number is nothing without comparison, so here are a few reference points: Around Fiorano (Ferrari’s testing grounds), the mighty Ferrari Enzo lapped the track in 1:24.9. The famous F50 from the ‘90’s did it in 1:26.5, and the every-rich-guys F430 did it in 1:27. The GTO spanked them all with a time of 1:24. You know what else? The GTO even has air conditioning and a radio. This is the fastest road car to ever grace the tarmac of Fiorano, ever.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and do a little bit of maths, so stay with me. Fiorano is 1.9 miles long and the GTO was 0.9 seconds faster than the Enzo. The Enzo’s Nurburgring lap record is 7:25.7. At 0.9 seconds per 1.9 miles faster, all things being equal, the GTO would have put up a 7:18.36 ring time. That is four seconds faster than the Viper ACR, six seconds faster than the Nissan GTR Spec V, Pagani Zonda F and Maseratti MC12. Disgusting. The best thing out of all this? Between yesterday and today, you’ve driven some of the finest machinery in the world, and the weekend isn’t even over yet. Today you drove a little red GTO sized electron through the Hadron Collider, approached what felt .99 light speed, and then drove home and played catch with your boy. It’s good to be you.

599 GTO
Ferrari 599 GTO

Sunday. Day of the cruise. Day of nostalgia. This is the day where you come down from the testosterone and adrenaline from yesterday and you drive what you drive because you’re a car guy. Sunday is the day you drive the car the manufacturer asked you to buy. When you’re in this rarified car buying status where dollar figures have multiple commas between the zeroes, there are some cars that transcend their price tag and their status. There are cars out there that are produced at a loss to the company producing them. All business sense goes out the window because this object is produced from something deeper than a desire to sell a car, something like morality and love. That’s where your Sunday car comes from. With this car, you didn’t bribe the company into letting you have the keys by showing them your stock portfolio, you had to earn it. I should stop calling it a car; it’s more a piece of living art. It breathes and screams and moans, and sometimes is just gracefully silent. Some of them have been put into private collector’s warehouses. One is probably sitting under Buckingham Palace.

The car must have a price however. The Veyron was once the world’s most expensive car at $1,400,000.00. No longer. This rolling sculpture ticks in at glorious $2,300,000.00. This is the crown jewel of your garage.

That difference of $900,000 could almost buy you the world’s oldest Corvette (one of the rarest cars in the world). Corvettes #001 and 002 have been lost to history but the 1953 Corvette #003 is still out there and just sold at auction for a cool $1 million. You were there, you thought about it, but didn’t raise your paddle. It’s because out of respect, you couldn’t drive that car. It’s far too precious.

Your crown jewel and Sunday car is the Aston Martin One-77.

Aston Martin One-77

You don’t have the radio on because you love the sounds the car makes on its own. It is supercar in its own right but also a sculpture worthy of the contemporary exhibition space in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City or the Tate Modern in London. This car is literally hand built one at a time. The aluminum body is hand shaped on an English wheel. The engine block isn’t cast, it’s machined out of a single block of metal. The frame and body of the car are designed specifically to channel the engine’s sounds into the cabin. Each car’s steering wheel, seat, paddle shifters, everything is designed to fit the individual owner’s driving style and body type. The CEO of Aston Martin Ulrich Bez, wanted each car to fit its owner like a tailored suit and to be purposefully built to be an extension of you. It is an honor to drive the One-77. You feel privileged. Anyone can spend money and buy a fast car, but not everyone can be a part of historic art.

In the One-77 you are James Bond. You have swagger. Not out of arrogance, but out of confidence. You are a gentleman driver and a badass pavement slayer. You know that Dos Equis man? He comes to you with his car questions. When Chuck Norris needs an oil change, he calls your phone number. He might dent his oil pan with a round house kick. When Prince Abdullah asks you to sell your Aston, you politely decline but offer to play squash next weekend. When EVO magazine wants to do a cover shoot of the One-77 you reply, “Sure! Don’t worry about the money, just take it for a spin.”

Glorious…

Great cars aren’t about self promotion and indulgence but about community, history, and pushing the limits of technology. You could have fifty cars, but you don’t. Your approach isn’t so flamboyant so you stick with a meager but pronounced seven. Even though you’re a gentleman, you’re still a car guy at heart. Now go drink a great beer and barbeque a steak.

Until next time, keep musing and driving.

– The Car Guy (Please welcome The Car Guy to the esteemed group of TDC contributors. The Car Guy will be contributing to the ongoing series, Musings of a Car Guy. Look for another piece from this talented writer soon!)

Musings of a Car Guy: So Many Keys, So Little Time

Another anonymous post from a loyal TDC reader. This piece is fan-flippin-tastic.

So, I got to thinking the other day on my commute to work, as is the place where I do most of my pondering; if money were no object, what would I be driving right now? It’s sunny and warm with a light breeze and The Police rocking out on the radio. If money were no object I wouldn’t have to be limited to driving just one car, I could have a different car every day of the week! Seeing as how I am never going to have that kind of money, I’m going to sit here and post my thoughts online. Feel free to post a comment or two if you agree or disagree with my choices.

Monday. Does anyone actually even know that Sunday is the first day of the week anymore? Either way, Monday is pretty much the crappiest day of the week. It is the day you spill hot coffee on your lap at the first stop light on your commute, it’s the day when the meetings happen, and the day lasts longer than you want because of the extra e-mails that built up over the weekend, and you still have to pick up groceries on the way home. Friday was a great finish to last week but any good boss will tell you how to improve come Monday morning. “Hey, thanks for the appreciation and boost in office morale, prick.”

So what do you drive on Mondays? This would be the daily driver, the to-and-from work car. You want to have reasonably good gas mileage but when money is no object, you can’t be a Prius driver. You can just go and buy your carbon credits. My choice would be the Audi RS4 Avant.

Audi RS4 Avant

Mileage is decent providing you stay out of the throttle, there is room for the wife and 2.5 kids with space in the trunk for groceries, all-wheel drive for the occasional snow squall or heavy downpour, and last but not least a straight up fire breathing, Bumble Bee Camaro killing, kraut eating German monster under the hood. Enough said. When you want to pass the jerk in the left lane that is doing the speed limit, pop that DSG level down one, mash the pedal and smoke him.

Tuesday. Although somewhat of a follow up to Monday’s blues, Tuesday is a new day. It’s the day where you and the guys have a man-night. A few brews at your local gastro-pub and rousing discussions of work, women, sports and, of course, who has the nicer car. Keep in mind that you’re filthy so all your friends are loaded too. You may have money, but you’re not one of those rich guys who buys a car because of its social status. You have seven cars of purpose and you drive each one for a reason. Testosterone Tuesday means muscle car: the 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt.

Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt

The end of the night rolls around and you bring the boys out back to the private parking spot in the parking garage to show them your Tuesday ride. The car that only has about a hundred sisters (111-127 cars produced, sources disagree), came stock from the factory running an 11.6 second ¼ mile trapping at 124 mph, 3,203 lbs with full fluids, 427 cubic inches (7.0 liters for you young guys), four barrel carbs, and a high rise manifold that cranked out 657 horsepower at 7,000 rpms. Your buddies were wondering why when you arrived you were shaking. It’s because you just drove an American Drag-Strip Demon and it took everything to keep it on the road without you melting the tires at every stop light. It is speculated that the Thunderbolt was the fastest production drag car ever produced.

Wednesday. Some may call it “Hump Day.” What part of the population actually humps on hump day? My guess is less than 30%. Monday and Tuesday have sucked at work. Your boss is friendly but an underhanded dick, your “administrative assistant” called out sick because her daughter has a runny nose, and your wife is off getting a treatment at the day spa. Sounds like you’re taking a day off too! What would a self respecting class, gentleman like yourself do on your day off?

Get out of town? Check. Quench your thirst for speed on the water? Check.

Sitting on the beach is for guys that are either whipped into doing so by their wives, obsessed with getting tan and being “Snooked out,”or you have a stomach that crests so much when lying down you can’t see the ocean. You are none of those men. You are handsome, you have chiseled abs, wear white polos with the collar in the correct “un-popped” position, sport Ray-Bans, and create some of that aura and mystery for the unfortunate women that can’t have you. You my friend have a boat. Not just one, many. Sunday cruising on Golden Pond is done on your one-of-a-kind 1938 Chris Craft 29’ twin engine Sportsman.

ChrisCraft Sportsman

Weekend sailing trips are enjoyed on the Hinckley SW70, and your day out by yourself or with the guys is done on the Statement Marine 42 foot v-hull powered by twin Mercury Racing 1075SCi engines (look it up.) Straight nasty and classy. The 2011 model has not been released yet but it is poised to be the Bugatti Veyron of off shore power boats.

But we digress; we’re here to talk cars. What do you drive down to the yacht club? Today it’s the 2009 Mercedes Benz G55 G V12 S Bi-Turbo by BRABUS. This German colossus is propelled by a twin turbo V12 that crushes the 0-60 mph run in a scant 4.3 seconds. It’s not meant for top speed but if you needed to go 150 mph, you can. Need to move the boats? Again, no problem. That connecting rod shredding, tire smoking, war machine of an engine produces 700 hp at 5,100 rpms and 973 lb-ft of torque at 2,100 rpms. For the Love of God and All Living Things that are Good, you could tow your vacation house around with that kind of power. If the infamous Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDi can tow a Boeing 747 (seriously, check it out on Youtube) with only 553 lb-ft of torque, can you imagine what you could move with this thing? Not to mention it hasn’t really changed shape in thirty years. The G is stately and refined, low key enough to show up to a wedding and bad ass enough to pull a Jumbo jet around on your private air strip.

Brabus Bi-Turbo

Thursday. Back to work. Ever stare at the dainty girl walking by and you don’t quite know why she’s so beautiful? There isn’t one thing that sticks out, she’s just subtlety perfect. When you get her home, however, she breaks out the whips and chains and makes you cry like a little boy. The Cadillac CTS-V is a little like that. Dainty and cosseting when you need it to be, then dangerous and a little freaky when let loose.

The V is subtly different than the regular CTS sedan: A little bit lower, a stonkin’ chrome grill, a hidden pair of brake discs the size of formal dinner ware, and a little “V” badge on the boot. I can hear you all screaming, “But, what about the Porsche Panamera Turbo S or the Mercedes E63 AMG?!?” Let’s just go ahead and eliminate the Porsche right now. It currently holds the new record at the Nurburgring in Germanywith a 7:56minute lap time, beating out the Caddy by 3.32 seconds, but I’d rather make out with a walrus and shag a manatee than own the Panamera. It’s so ugly it’s not even funny. Really, it’s not funny, so stop laughing. I’ll give up those three seconds on the track and take the CTS-V, the second fastest four-door family sedan on the planet. Not to mention, the CTS-V is bringing the swagger and the old school class back to the Cadillac brand.

Cadillac CTS-V

If you tried to take Grammy for a ride and make her get in the back of a Panamera, she’d hit you with her cane and walk to wherever you were going. “What about the E-Class?” you may ask. Well, that’s a toss up. Edmunds gives the Caddy the advantage, Road & Track gives the Benz the #1, and Motortrend has the CTS-V losing to the RS4. Seeing as how you already own the RS4 and the ridiculously awesome G Wagon, you diversify and choose the nostalgic Caddy with the volcano under the hood.

Coming next week, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Can you even stand to know what you’re going to be driving on Friday?!

Sports Car vs. Practical Car: Performance or Ground Clearance?

Once upon a time, when I was a young, naïve, and octane driven nineteen year old, I owned a 2000 Audi TT.  It was iconic and awesome and I loved it. My first romance with an Audi was with a 1986 Audi 4000 CS Quattro, which ended up sitting in a parking lot with three flat tires and rotted gas lines. The car needed more in parts then she was worth. Even though it ‘twas a sad day when it came time to ditch the 4000, it brought the dawn of a new love, the Audi TT. The TT was a car that cost me all the money I had, landed me my first and only major speeding ticket, and never got me laid, but looked it good, handled like a dream, and the turbo screamed from 2200 rpm all the way to 6400.

I purchased the TT with 79,000 miles. The previous owner, Mark, had her repainted, chipped, and equipped with wheel spacers, a K&N short ram intake, dual tip exhaust taken from a 2002 TT, a tasteful after market spoiler, and H&R performance racing springs that lowered the car 1.5 inches. I was that teenage hot shot driving a $38,000 car which, for the record, I bought it for $11,500. I officially became “that kid.”

At first, the TT was amazing. Actually, let me rephrase that. The TT was always amazing. However, towards the end of our relationship, the TT and I were growing apart.  As a recent college graduate and an avid rock climber, the TT was impractical for my needs. I became the master of cramming my possessions into what little trunk space the car had. And, the harsh New Hampshire winters began to take a toll. Let me break it down into an equation for you: Frost heaves + performance suspension + lowering springs = dreadful/disastrous. The bottom line was, the car didn’t have enough room, she cost me about $1,500 a year in maintenance, but despite all this, I was in love with her. I had thoughts of selling her and getting something more practical but I never had the heart to do it.

Late one fateful evening in June while enjoying a beer in my apartment, I heard the unmistakable sound of a car crash. When I looked outside, I was literally in shock. Right outside my apartment, innocently parked on the side of the street was the TT, which had just been creamed by a woman who fell asleep at the wheel.

It was a tragic scene. The TT was demolished; it had been pushed 40 feet from where it was parked, and the woman’s Volvo was lying on its side in the middle of the road.  Fortunately she was ok and after all was said and done, her insurance company sent me $6,800 for my troubles. Even with that, I was still pissed. That amount of money was no where near enough to replace the TT or to make up for the sheer, asinine, murder of my car by this woman. In one moment, my decision about whether to sell the TT or not was taken away from me. So, I bought a 2001 Subaru Outback for $4,100.

I went from a sports car to a grandma mobile. It took a while to get used to, but I became ok with the change. The Outback has 7 inches of ground clearance versus the TT’s 3.5, I can fit more than a few of my personal possessions in the Subaru, and while it isn’t fast (it can barely get out of its own way,) it is practical and fits my lifestyle. I’ve owned the car for almost a year now and the funny thing is, I’ve had to put about $1,000 into it. The Subaru is right on par with the TT in terms of maintenance. Even so, I’m happy with the Outback. But not a day goes by that I don’t miss the power and style of the TT.

I owned a sports car and not one of those years could I afford it. I spent every dime I had to maintain that car. Why you ask? There is a certain amount of pride and responsibility you inherit when you own a car like that. I can’t look back on those years and imagine them without the TT. It was all about the excitement I felt while powering through turns, pushing 125MPH on the highway and hearing the turbo. With the Outback… not so much. Now I get to hear the distinct sound of a 2.5 liter Subaru H-4 engine and have rear rotors that are shot and look horrible. However, I can’t afford to fix them, so they’ll stay that way until I can. If the rear rotors looked bad on the TT they had to be replaced. No one wants to look at a sharp car and see played rotors. It doesn’t work that way.

Bottom line: Any car enthusiast must have their own impractical and costly “dream” car.  It is only fair. We must all come to understand what our parents warned us about when they said, “Be careful, that car will be a money pit.”  It was true, but the love of ownership made it worthwhile. So, buy yourself the impractical sports car. For me, I want to keep the Outback until the odometer reads over 200,000 miles. But you can bet that when I can afford one, I’ll be getting an impractical sports car again.

– Emile Mennin