Street Parked: Mini Cooper / MINI Cooper S in Paris

Red Classic Mini Cooper and Red R56 MINI Cooper S

Caught these two Minis parked near my flat in Paris last night.  I’m starting to get worried I’ve been in Europe for too long — the current generation of MINIs are starting to seem downright large…

The XK-E Reborn: Jaguar’s Awesome F-Type

F-Type Profile LBack in October I had the opportunity to get an early look at the brand new Jaguar F-Type roadster expected to debut later this year.  Short of Aston Martin’s GTs, I think it’s one of the best looking cars out there.  Designer Ian Callum has done an amazing job of creating an aggressive, contemporary take on the classic long-hood roadster while capturing many of the design elements of the E-Type that made it so timeless (dual center exhaust outlets and sculpted rear haunches come to mind).

The torque behemoth that is the supercharged 5.0L V8 also found in various -R branded Jaguars will be available, but I’m most excited for the new supercharged V6 which will be good for 340-370HP while producing one of the best sounding exhaust-notes I’ve heard in a long time.

Sadly, no manual transmission is available (yet) but at least they’ve done away with the frustrating rotary gear selector knob found in other models.  When I asked about a potential row-your-own option, I did get the corporate line followed by a wink/nod hint to keep an eye on future announcements so I’m not giving up hope just yet…  A 3-5 year old V6S with a manual transmission might be a great (almost affordable) roadster one day. Continue reading

Jaguar Alive Driving Experience

A few weeks ago I ducked out early to check out the Chicago-area Jaguar Alive event.  In addition to the typical presentations and street drives (in this case in the quick and luxurious XJ Supercharged), Jaguar set up an autocross course as well as an all wheel drive technology demo area complete with man-made snow and muddy chicanes.  The best part, however, was the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the extremely rare XKR-S, a $130,000+ red meat cocktail of supercharged speed and track-ready hardware.  The folks at Jaguar put together a brief video with two and a half minutes of product highlights surrounding 5 seconds of me in the XKR-S struggling to put 550 HP to work on a short gravelly drag strip:

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Space Shuttle Discovery’s Last Flight

The space shuttle Discovery flew over DC earlier this morning en route to Smithsonian’s Air and Space museum complex out near Dulles airport.  I snapped a few pics from the roof of my apartment:

Ferrari Fridays – The Stunning F40

Ferrari F40 ProfileTop Gear proclaimed the Ferrari F40 to be the greatest supercar the world has ever seen.  For me, it’s the car that jump started my lifelong obsession with automobiles.  Although I was only seven years old when the final copy rolled out of the factory at Maranello, no subsequent car has captured my imagination in the same way since.

While modern supercars are all about fancy software with computer-controlled suspension and torque-vectoring differentials, the F40 made do with brilliant technical engineering: lightweight construction, race-inspired aerodynamics and a relatively small but highly boosted V8.  With just over 470HP, the F40 was the first street-legal car to break the 200mph barrier.

Although I no longer have a 1/18 scale die cast model sitting on my bedside table, I’m still hoping to one day find a full size F40 waiting for me in my garage… Continue reading

Great Falls Cars and Coffee – July 30th 2011

Great Falls Cars & Coffee July 30 2011 at Katie's CoffeeI stopped by Katie’s Coffee in Great Falls this morning for the weekly DC region Cars & Coffee.  Despite the summer heat, there was a huge crowd of owners and enthusiasts by 7:15am.  From classics to tuners to exotics (and even a few track cars), there was a car for every taste and budget.

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MINI Mods: NM Engineering Strut Brace

I’m beginning to think I’ve been infected with the mod bug that’s so endemic to the MINI community…

First Exposure: February 2010 after taking delivery of the JCW

Incubation Period: I think I was pretty resilient, nearly 9 months from exposure to first mod

Symptoms: Crawling North American Motoring and DC Metro MINIs forums; perpetually full fantasy shopping carts at FastMini and OutMotoring; snapping spy photos of other MINIs at rallies; obsessive usage of the Tire Rack configurator; frequent trips to Mach V ‘just to browse’

Severity: Minor, so far…

Treatment: To combat the latest flare-up of mod fever, I stopped by FastMini / Mach V in Sterling, VA and picked up the NM Engineering Billet Aluminum Tie-Bar in black (NM Engineering product site, currently on sale at FastMini).

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