Queen City Cars & Coffee is back! The past two years hosting this show have been absolute blast, and I’m stoked to be putting it on again this year. Last year, over 90 cars attended, about 30 more than the first year. For QC3 (just made that name up right now and I dig it) the goal is set at 125 cars. Let’s rally together and make it happen! Invite your friends, invite their friends, invite people that aren’t your friends, invite your grandma, your neighbor, the guy who cleans your septic tank, it doesn’t matter. Just invite them. I genuinely think we have the chance to create something epic and put the Manchester car scene on the map. This year’s show is on Saturday, September 13 from 8am to 12pm at the Arms Parking Lot in Manchester, NH. Be sure to follow @_DoranD_ and @TopDeadCenter on Twitter for updates. I’m beyond fired up for this, and I can’t wait to see everyone there!
I was originally going to wait until Thursday to put this post up, but I’m so fired up about these photos I didn’t feel like waiting any longer. These were taken while I was down at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Mass for YuppieRacing’s first Cars & Coffee event of the season on April 7th. Over 300 cars ended up turning out on a gorgeous but chilly morning, and spectators were treated to several spectacular automotive rarities – half-a-dozen Nissan GT-Rs, a shatteringly yellow Ferrari 430 Scuderia, a pack of Audi RS4s, and a RAUH-Welt Begriff 930 Wide Body Porsche, which was hands down the coolest car there. If you’re not familiar with RWB, visit their website HERE. While you’re at it, visit YuppieRacing’s website HERE and their Facebook page HERE, too. Enjoy the photos, and I’ll see you at the next YR Cars & Coffee on May 12th!
Read an interesting fact about the Mercedes-Benz CL recently – Mercedes-Benz will sell as many of these coupes in a year as Ford will sell of the F150 in a single day. In a single day. Not only is that difference so enormously vast it’s actually hard to comprehend, it also speaks volumes about the exclusivity of the CL, and the ubiquity of the F150. Out of all the cars offered in MB’s diverse portfolio, every model except for the G-Class SUV and the SLS AMG supercar sell fewer models than the CL, giving it a rarity that few other cars enjoy.
This particular model, the CL550 4Matic, isn’t barnstormingly fast, it doesn’t hold the fastest lap time at the Nurburgring, and it can’t outgun rivals like the Ferrari 612 in pure power. It’s 5.5-liter V-8 makes 382 horsepower which is enough to motivate the big coupe to 60 miles per hour in about 5.5 seconds, so world dominating power is not its game. What the CL550 does have, however, is class. And it has it in spades. The flared wheels arches, acres of creased hood, and the tight belt line that streaks from front to back, all give the CL550 a distinct and powerful presence on the road. And while there certainly aren’t any ugly cars in the MB’s stable, the CL’s design definitely makes it one of the most attractive. Inside, its standard MB stuff—vast stretches of leather blended together with wood and other high quality materials to create a cosseting and comfortable place from which to command the road.
“That’s all well and good,” you might say, “but a car of this caliber (and pricetag) needs to light my hair on fire and mash my face like Play-Doh when I step on the gas.” Fear not, because you can have your CL with heaping, prodigious piles of righteous horsepower courtesy of MB’s tuning division, AMG. Step up to the CL 63 AMG, and the comparatively piddling 5.5-liter V-8 is replaced with a 6.2-liter V-8 which makes a properly massive 518 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. And if that still isn’t enough, you can dig deep into your wallet and have the CL 65 AMG which dumps the V-8 engine all together, and instead uses a 6.0-liter twin turbo V-12 to bludgeon poorer motorists into submission. The 65’s volcano of an engine churns out 604 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. Yeah, that’s a lot.
The price for this handsome coupe—which is based on the venerable S-Class luxury sedan—is about $80,000 in CL550 trim, and over $130,000 for the CL 65 AMG. That’s also a lot. There will soon be a newer version of the CL-Class hitting the streets when MB launches its refreshed S-Class sometime later this year. Let’s hope the power and class of the current generation continues into the new model. With an emphasis on power. Yeah, lots of power.
Peter Ladas from Yuppie Racing is a self-proclaimed gearhead of the highest order—a diehard fan of the mad vehicles created by Mercedes-Benz’s AMG tuning division and owner of brilliant cars like the BMW E46 M3 and Toyota Supra. Ladas’ mission with Yuppie Racing was to create a close knit automotive community and re-create the public’s perception of car enthusiasts in a positive way by raising money for different charities. Ladas spent some time talking to TDC about Yuppie Racing and the upcoming Yuppie Rally.
What is Yuppie Racing?
“Yuppie Racing was founded about 10 years ago by two guys who weren’t able to find a car community in New England to fit their lifestyles… it evolved into an online car enthusiast community of similar minded individuals but from very different backgrounds.”
Yuppie’s website is dominated by forums with thousands of threads on everything from drag strip events to fine cigars to detailing and car care.
“We have members who are just getting their licenses and other members who have been national champion club racers, we have Ferrari owners, and we have Prius owners. We are a very diverse group… it’s not uncommon to see members grabbing a bite to eat, hitting up a car show, going for a drive near the coast or buzzing around a track. In 2009 when I took over, I wanted to make it a point to change public opinion of car enthusiasts. In 2011, we made just over $10k in donations to various charities through our events as a way to give back. It’s amazing to see how the car community rallies when it comes time to help a worthy cause.”
Last year marked the first year of the Yuppie Rally, an epic road trip involving over a dozen high performance cars and some sensational driving. This year’s Rally promises to be even bigger and better, and all for a good cause—part of the money raised will benefit Bruce and Linda Ledoux over at Guardian Angel Motorsports.
What is the Yuppie Rally? How did it start and what was the inspiration behind it?
“Yuppie Rally was the next logical step for Yuppie Racing… I presented the idea of a multi-day rally to a small group of folks back in 2009, but never really had time to put it together. Finally in October of 2010, [we] looked at the route I had and we started retooling it. I think the only things that were left from the original route were the destination and the starting point.”
How many cars took part in last year’s Rally? What cars where there?
“Last year we had just under 20 cars… It’s tough to not mention every car on the rally, because they were all cool cars. We had some Porsche Turbos, a supercharged Audi R8, Shelby Mustang, several M3s, an M6, Lotus Exige S, a Noble, an RS4, a Maserati Coupe… I am forgetting a whole bunch, but none I would kick out of my garage.”
The guest list of vehicles registered this year reads like an A-list Hollywood event: GT500, supercharged R8, E55 AMG, turbocharged 350Z, and a pair of 911 Turbos to name a few.
Most epic moment from the 2011 Yuppie Rally?
“Pulling in to the first hotel (which was a castle) and getting directed in to a private gated underground parking garage for rally cars only… The last night in Quebec City, being noticed by a club owner… and [having him set] up a table for Rally participants like a scene out of a mob movie… Another that I think everyone loved – after disembarking from Nova Scotia and being back on the main land, there was a very open road with no traffic where everyone got to hit some Autobahn like speeds for over an hour straight. There was also the night Chris got engaged… but the response on that was a mixed bag.”
The 2012 Rally heads for the infamous southern road nicknamed the Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee, then up to Atlantic City for a special celebratory bash, then back to Aston Martin of New England in Massachusetts. Interested in driving this year? Visit the registration website HERE for all the details.
How does the Rally compare to something like the Gumball 3000? Did that play a part in inspiring the Yuppie Rally?
For the uninitiated, the Gumball 3000 is basically the daddy of all rallys. Several have featured cross country blasts, some have run the roads of Europe, and all feature some of the most exotic machinery on earth. And some of the most ridiculous parties. And speeding tickets.
“I think everyone that puts together a rally like this would be lying if they didn’t say the Gumball gave them inspiration. It’s stuff like the Gumball and Alex Roy’s Team Polizei 144 that has spawned those ideas for us. While it would be cool to take part in an event like that, the police attention and astronomical entry fees make it only a dream for many. We take the Gumball 3000 spirit and make it an affordable trip for most while still doing our part to help the community.”
“Last year we put the event together quickly and didn’t think about all the small details. We found ourselves getting hammered with… a lot of unaccounted for costs and some sponsors that promised and didn’t deliver. It didn’t change anyone’s experience, but it also made it hard for us to do that little bit extra that folks have come to expect from [Yuppie Racing] events. For 2012 we have certainly pulled out all the stops partnering up with a ton of quality companies and organizations. I know what’s packed in to the 2,200 mile journey and still have a hard time believing it.”
What does the future of the Yuppie Rally look like?
“It’s tough to say what the future has in store for Yuppie Rally but… we are hoping to become one of those events that people look forward to every year. We would certainly love to branch out to include more folks from New York and New Jersey as the culture and cars of that area are so different than what we have in New England. We have spent a lot of time and energy this year building a secure foundation for the event for years to come. Maybe we’ll be taking a page out of Gumball’s book and start flying cars around? Only time will tell.”
There is something commanding and empowering about driving a luxury sedan. And, when your luxury sedan is a Teutonic titan like the freshly redesigned BMW 7-Series pictured, lesser peoples will actually fall over themselves trying to get out of the way. Cars like the 7-Series look and feel more at home shuttling dictators, monarchs, or pop stars to and fro, and if that’s the look you are going for (which would be a lot of fun, even if you’re not a plutocrat), then this may be the car for you.
In the hierarchy of uber-sedans, which interestingly seems to come mainly from Germany, the 7-Series has always wound up playing second fiddle to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the car that practically created the big luxury sedan market, and continues to set the standard for the rest of the luxury sedan world. In the mid 2000’s, BMW fell short primarily because of its hideous iDrive computer system. Confusing menus and incomprehensible commands made the system the bane of every car reviewer’s existence. Fortunately, BMW heeded the hate mail and totally revamped the system. For the 2012 model year, BMW’s flagship also features four wheel steering, a higher use of aluminum to reduce weight, more tech than Bill Gates’ server room, and a night vision camera system that would make SEAL Team Six jealous. Should you wish to have prodigious power reserves to go with your prodigious amounts of class, you can order up your BMW in 760Li-guise that uses Bimmer’s colossal twin-turbo V12 which, besides using the tears of the poor as fuel, makes 535 horsepower, and 550 lb-ft. of torque.
One of the things that BMW focuses on in differentiating the 7-Series from its competitors is “sport.” Normally, sportiness and superior luxury are mutually exclusive terms, but BMW continues to work hard to dispel that notion. Great steaming loads of technology go into the driving experience such as active body roll stabilization, and Driving Dynamics Control, which allows the driver to adjust several driving parameters like suspension setup and steering feedback.
So does the 7-Series finally unseat the S-Class as the superior, superior luxury sedan? Every review you read says the big Bimmer comes close, but once again, it’s no cigar. However, if you’re looking to purchase a car in this class that’s been bred with a little more athleticism in its genes, perhaps the big 7-Series will be your superior choice.
The Germans aren’t typically known for their passionate expressions of emotion. And this attitude especially applies to their cars. A standard German vehicle is sensible, built like a bank vault, understated, and is happy to drive by unnoticed. There must be something in the drinking water however, around the part of Mercedes-Benz factory that builds the G-Class, and there are definitely particles of nuclear waste floating in the coffee at MB’s tuning division, AMG. The proof of contamination? The maniacal G55 AMG, an environmentalist’s worst nightmare.
It may be their worst nightmare (it gets 9 MPG in the city), but if you’re an auto enthusiast or a star of Real Housewives of New Jersey, the G55 AMG is a divine machine, capable of making all your dreams come true. The recipe for this distinctly Germanic brand of success starts with the standard G-Class, which is then handed over to the lunatics at AMG. They proceed to drop a supercharged version of MB’s famous 5.5 liter V8 into the engine bay to the tune of 507 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. This titanic grunt annihilates the blitz to 60 mph in a shade over 5 seconds. This, plus its low slung exhausts and stiff suspension, make the G55 more of a pavement pounder and less an off-road conqueror, though it is still vastly more capable than machines like the Porsche Cayenne or BMW X6 when the road gets rugged.
Weighing in at a dainty (haha!) 5,700 pounds, the G55’s roots lay on the field of battle. It was purpose built as a military vehicle and has a service record like that of General Patton. It was first offered as a civilian model back in 1979. Since then, the recipe hasn’t changed much: boxy styling, body-on-frame construction, four-wheel-drive, three locking differentials, and a host of other off road goodies. In civilian guise, the G-Class is a tremendously fluent machine for tackling a wide range of wild terrain. The G55 AMG on the other hand, its natural habitat is the main drag and it rules the land with unparalleled street cred. When this thing cruises down the boulevard, window tinted and side exit exhausts rumbling, your brain triggers one of two responses: “Hot damn, I gotta get me one of those,” or “Susie, grab the kids and run, the Mafia hitmen are here.”
Check out Richard Hammond from Top Gear and his review of the G55. Watch the video HERE.
This blacked out G55 was spotted parked in the South Willow Plaza in Manchester. Speckled with rain drops and rockin’ a near full tint on its windows, it looked especially menacing. The G55 AMG is good for two things: Making tree-huggers wring their hands in fury, and putting a leather-gloved smack down on the art of ridin’ dirty. And handing other pansy SUVs their eviction notice.
A fan of TDC sent me something they put together about the cars we see around us and who the people are that drive them. It was written anonymously and I think it makes some interesting points. Check it out.
I got to thinking the other day about why people drive what they drive. The thought has actually occurred to me more than once. I wonder about other people and the cars they own and what we can say about those people.
Have you ever pulled up to a stop light and looked over at the “soccer mom” yelling at her kids or worse, yelling into her cell phone at some poor obligatory recipient? I wonder what her life is like. I wonder if my life will be like this in a few years; driving a mini-van and watching my kids throw up Cheerios and milk all over the back of my seat whilst I contemplate stopping at the local coffee shop for a shot of sanity.
God, I hope not.
Then there’s the opposite end of the spectrum where speed, affluence, sex-appeal, and beautiful curves live. By beautiful curves I am in no way talking about women (I already have my beautiful curves wearing the ring I bought her), I’m talking about the dream car. We have all seen them; they roll by wearing colors the abstract impressionists of the early 20th century couldn’t even fathom: Rosso Corsa Red, Nero Nemesis Black, Fahrenheit Orange, Imola Grey or Daytona Blue. And there’s not even a hint. And there’s not even a hint of vomited Cheerios.
I was working on a typical Saturday night, when past the front door drove the new Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS driven by none other than author Dan Brown. I could not decide whether I had just seen an angel or a demon. What was he doing driving down the side streets of olde New England? Was he driving that car to show off? Because it’s eye-catching and draws attention? One would think if you’re famous and you buy a home in New Hampshire it’s to get away from the attention. If Brown lived in South Beach and cruise the strip in his SLS, he would be just another rich guy going to get groceries. Here, the car makes him matter. If being flashy was what he cared about, a Ferrari 599GTO would do more ego stroking than that German kraut carte.
But perhaps it’s because he actually likes the car. Maybe it doesn’t even occur to him that he’s driving a supercar. Maybe it is his library doting kraut carte and he knows no different.
For those anti-gas guzzler tax citizens you have the Toyota Prius. I’m typing this article on Word 2003 and “Prius” isn’t even in the dictionary. I was driving south on the highway cruising at 70 miles per hour when what flies past me on me left but a Prius. So much for the great gas mileage and saving the planet. Is driving a Prius just as much of a statement as driving a supercar? You don’t even need to have an Obama/Biden sticker on the back of it, I already know you voted Democrat and yet your actions of speeding past me don’t reflect the primary reason you should have bought the car. Everyone reading this is thinking to themselves right now, “Well maybe there was an emergency…” Maybe there was. That leads me back to my first paragraph. I wonder what’s going on in that person’s life that is contradicting our poli-social understanding of what a Prius is and who drives them.
I could go on with stereotypes and opinions on the cars people drive, the way they drive them, and why they’re driving them in the first place. The Subaru “Boy-Racer,” the jacked up GMC Sierra HD2500 diesel on 30-inch mud tire “hick,” or the depressed cubical office attendant driving the steel grey 1993 Toyota Corolla. I wonder if what we drive is truly a reflection of our lives and personality or something that happens by default because of the cards we’re dealt. Would the soccer mom be driving the milk stained min van if she didn’t have a kid? Would Dan Brown be driving his 200 mph exotic if he wasn’t a successful author and could afford the $195,000 price tag and $100 a week in gas? Do you think the Prius driver hated George W. before it was cool to do so? I wonder if the guy in the wanna be monster truck has low self esteem and wants to look like he can drive over anything but really he raises mice in a barn for pet stores.
I think about people’s lives. Perhaps I should wonder about my own. I’m getting married soon and I still find myself looking around and imagining what is going on in other people’s worlds. Do I want the SLS? I wouldn’t turn it down. Do I want a Prius? Sure the gas mileage would be great for my commute through twelve traffic lights in the morning. Do I want the GMC? It would be nice to have something to throw plywood and loam into for the garden I’m building. Am I happy with what I’m driving? Not really, but it came as a necessity. What am I driving and who am I? I’m not telling. I don’t want someone making assumptions about me.
Normally, the kinds of cars that end up on my dream list have exotic names, come from exotic places, and aren’t from the early 1990’s. The faster, more expensive and newer they are, the better. And I like passionate cars: Wings, loud exhausts, shattering speed, and more soul than an Aretha Franklin concert. Having a ‘90’s Mercedes-Benz sedan on this coveted list seems impossible, or at least highly improbable, especially when you stop and consider the recent batch of hot MB’s: the C63 AMG Black Series, E63 AMG, SLS AMG, and the luxo-rocket S65 AMG. These cars all pack enough horsepower and torque to alter your perception of reality and would make a sweet addition to the dream list. So what are we doing looking at this antiquated MB sedan? Think of the 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II as the exception to the rule of boring ‘90’s cars and being totally worthy of a place on the dream list.
The Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II is to the regular 190E sedan what the Subaru WRX STi is to the standard WRX: It’s more powerful, more flamboyant, and wears the absolute daddy of rear wings. The Evolution II’s monstrous rear wing makes even the current generation of Subaru STi’s look all sedate and civilized. First unveiled at the 1990 Genva Motor Show, this fantastic Merc was born from Mercedes’ involvement in the Group A Tour Car Championship racing which required that the aerodynamic components of the race car match the road-going production version. Much of that racing pedigree can be found in the car’s flared wheel arches, deep front splitter, upgraded brakes, and firmer suspension. The 2.5 liter four-cylinder had its compression ratio, valve lift, timing, intake tract and exhaust all retuned to help make a potent 232 horsepower.
Inside, it’s classic Mercedes with leather, wood trimming, and no-nonsense style. On modern MBs, we expect buckets full of tech, and the Evolution II sports some of its own gadgetry including a switch near the steering wheel that allows the driver to adjust the ride height to three different levels. It’s a rare car too with only 500 or so ever being produced, so it’ll make an equivalent BMW E36 M3 seem commonplace and tame. All these go-fast parts did count for something on the racetrack; the Evolution II claimed the 1992 DTM driver’s title. Thank goodness the nineties brought us more than Vanilla Ice and Trapper Keepers.