The Nissan GTR is a bit of an enigma. It’s one of the rare few that satisfies more than one personality traits. It’s nearly untouchable at the Ring, only beat by the million dollar Porsche 918 when counting series production vehicles.
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Every three years the US Copyright Office holds hearings on whether certain technologies or activities should be exempt from the infamous Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A relevant example would be “jailbreaking” smartphones. If the Copyright Office hadn’t upheld the exemption for jailbreaking phones, that activity would now be illegal and a lot of people would be very upset. Well there are currently multiple hearings regarding the rights of people to hack and tune their cars, and the security industry isn’t too happy about it. A modern car has dozens of computers monitoring and controlling every aspect of the vehicle from engine to brakes and climate control to stereo. If something on your car can be measured, odds are good that there’s a sensor taking readings and sending the data back to a computer which makes a decision based on what it’s told. Now what if an entity other than the car had control of those systems? Well it’s a potential disaster, and that’s the argument OEMs are making as they push to protect their software from being reverse engineered by the public.
The hearings going on right now center around who can hack their cars, and what they can do with the information they find. Manufacturers argue that they currently have their own security teams looking at their code, as well as third party partners running independent tests, so there’s nothing to be gained by continuing to allow public researchers to tinker. In fact, they claim it will cause more harm than good. If researchers find a vulnerability and then disclose it publicly, now it’s in the hands of bad actors who can exploit it and cause problems. I guess they’re ignoring the fact that the bad guys don’t care whether hacking cars is illegal or not, and that a vulnerability in the hands of the public is safer than one only owned by a malicious party. The OEMs also argue that somebody at home could change the software controlling their brakes and cause a collision. Well, I can go out, pull brakes off a crashed car and have an uncertified idiot (me) use unregulated tools (my hands) to install them before going driving on the public roadways. What happens ifwhen I screw up and hurt somebody? Well I can only tell you that it’s a hell of a lot easier to see if software has been improperly altered than it is to see if the brakes on a totaled car were installed properly.
Every year, we look forward to the Stanley Park European Classic Car Meet and Das Volks show, which showcases the best of the local European vintage cars as well as the biggest VW gathering in Alberta. This year, the event was threatened by the week long rain that preceded it, but with the weather gods cooperating, the show went on as scheduled without a hitch. Check out some of our favorites from the show this year.
First on the list is Herbie the Love Bug. Herbie was a generational icon for many of us old timers. It sucks that Lindsay Lohan ruined it for the current generation.
Pictures from this past weekend’s Driven 2015 show in Winnipeg are finally being posted, I tried to get every car but if I missed anyone, my apologies. This was my first time in Winnipeg and let me tell you, I had no idea it was so humid there! Shooting the Formula Drift Canada demo on hot pavement in that humidity was no fun at all, but luckily there was also the main Driven 2015 show which was inside an air conditioned building at the Red River Exhibition grounds.
I took a few of the shots while up on a mobile lift to give a bird’s eye view of the show and you’ll notice a gentleman in the shot above taking a picture of me. He was quite upset that I was not certified (read: union) to operate the lift and that I wasn’t harnessed in. If anyone knows him, please let him know I survived the lift (and Winnipeg!).
I’m going to highlight some of my favorites at the show here in the post, but you’ll be able to find the rest of the shots in the gallery at the end of the post. First up was this “KRX” K-swapped CRX, easily one of my favorites.
As part of the Driven 2015 tour in Winnipeg, Formula Drift Canada came out to put on a spectacular drift demo for all of those in attendance. Ben Woo, VP of Formula Drift Canada put on a great demonstration of the sport by going over the basic rules, explained how drifting is judged and went over the main techniques that drivers use to drift their vehicles. Drivers put on solo, tandem as well as triple drifts burying the fans and the venue under a thick wall of tire smoke. Based on how loud the crowd got at some points, it is safe to say they loved it.
We captured a few shots of the event which you can check out in the gallery!
The Driven 2015 season has wrapped up with the conclusion of the most recent event this past weekend in Winnipeg. This year the show in Winnipeg was held at a new venue, the Red River Exhibition grounds on the edge of town, which had plenty of space inside and out. The big outdoor space gave rise to the opportunity for the show to feature a demo by Formula Drift Canada. We’ll post our coverage soon of the drift demo, so stay tuned. We’ll follow that up with our Driven 2015 show coverage shortly after.
Last week I talked about the lack of distinction between entry-level luxury and, for lack of a better term, German luxury. I didn’t have any answers as to why it happened, but I enjoyed talking about the results. Today we’re going to do the opposite and talk about why the car industry is booming in Mexico, because we have no idea how it’s going to turn out. Ford recently announced that assembly of the Focus and C-MAX will be moved from Michigan to Mexico. People are making this out to be a big deal when Ford is just doing what everybody (themselves included) else is. Every major car manufacturer has built or is building an assembly plant in Mexico. Some have multiple plants, some are taking it a step further and building their own parts factories as well. Over the last 5 years we’ve seen a significant shift of vehicle production from USA to Mexico, but now it’s global. It would be ridiculous to list all of the cars that are currently being built by our neighbour two doors down, but I promise you that every brand who specializes in sub-$100,000 cars is on there. Somewhat ironically, the big 3 German luxury brands that you assured me were built to a higher standard than their Japanese counterparts are on the list as well. Sorry guys, I guess you’re gonna need to buy a Maybach to get your luxury nowadays.
So what’s causing this massive shift from Detroit, Tennessee and Georgia? It’s all about the Benjamíns. Car makers are saving hundreds or thousands of dollars PER CAR assembled in Mexico, and what more reason do they need? I’m not privy to exactly how much margin there is a new car these days, but I’m willing to bet they’re seeing double digit increases in profit from any car built by Juan instead of John.
When I was a teenager there was a distinct difference between a Ford Taurus and a BMW 3-series. Heated seats, heated mirrors, dual-zone climate control… 50% more money was buying you features exclusive to brands known for their luxury. Features that you wouldn’t find in any similarly priced Domestic or Japanese vehicle, let alone something cheaper. Now you can find yourself picking out features in a Kia that aren’t in a more expensive Mercedes. Does this mean Kia is now a luxury brand? Does it mean Mercedes isn’t? I think most people would disagree with both. Maybe they should think harder.
It used to be easy to identify luxury, there were tangible things you could point to and say “You’ll only find this in a high-end car”. What do you point at now? The line between luxury brands and “other” brands is all but gone. Today’s Hyundai has a comparable interior to a BMW for less money. Styling? I’ll take an Accord over a C-class for exterior looks any day, and Hyundai poaching Peter Schreyer from Audi has been a significant part of their recent success. Performance? Well luxury brands have never really had a lock on that. I’ve cherry picked a couple examples here but the fact is I could list off a lot more, which isn’t something I could say 10 or 15 years ago. There is no longer something you can touch or see that distinguishes a luxury brand from anybody else. So why are the Germans still luxury brands and the Koreans aren’t?
Well, cliche warning, it seems to be the badge. The Koreans and Americans have been doing some aggressive marketing to try and change peoples’ perception and let the public know “Hey, we make really great cars now, please get over yourself and come drive one”, and I hope it works. Of course, it took nearly a decade of making really good cars for Hyundai to shed its garbage image and become a legitimate contender, I’m not holding my breath for Joe Public to elevate them further. Not that this perception problem is limited to non-enthusiasts. Hell, car guys hold some of the strongest and wrongest opinions of all. These guys will have one bad car and swear off the brand for life, as if that makes any sense (Full disclosure: I will never buy another Mazda for, uh, totally dissimilar reasons. *cough*). One generation will have a publicized issue so they assume every generation is bad. One car their cousin owned will have a problem so the whole brand gets a bad image because of it. Windsor would be impressed by all the salt that flows on the Beyond forums because people take a single, usually second hand, anecdote as irrefutable evidence of WHATEVER THEY WANT.
The internet is alight over the Nurburgring’s management company enforcing speed limits on a few of its sections for everyone, including sanctioned races and manufacturer testing, after the tragic death of a spectator when a vehicle lifted off the track and flew into stands. Artificial speed limits in motorsport pretty much defeat the purpose, negatively affecting the spectacle for fans and likely taking away from the drivers’ experience as well. Now, of course the German Motorsport Association had to work with Nurburgring management to do something. The only thing worse than a spectator death would be another spectator death caused by the exact same thing. There wasn’t enough time to either fix the course or remove the stands in that area, so they implemented a speed limit. Just about anything else would have been knee-jerk and likely executed without the necessary planning to make sure it’s the best course of action. They did the same thing any one of us would do at our own job. Band-aid it for now and fix it properly after thinking about it sans fire under our asses. Yes it sucks, but I think they made the right call.
Of course, my opinion hinges on the fact that this will be temporary. They’ve promised to revisit the speed limits at the end of the year and I’m banking on them saying “Yeah, this just won’t do”. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe management won’t like the cost of implementing a better solution and the speed limits will stay forever. Green Hell would turn into Green Gables and I’d be right there with you, having a good cry.
I recently had the privileged of driving a car that most people can only dream of driving. Sure, you can pay a sum of money and head to LA or Las Vegas and rent one for a few laps, but those types of experiences are all about thrill seeking. When you get the opportunity to drive an exotic super-car, you take it and enjoy every moment of it.
I’m not going to bore you with the details of what makes up a 650S. That type of information can be found on the internet. Lets talk about how the car looks and feels.
The 650S literally looks like the bridge design between where McLaren production cars started and where they are now. The front is all P1 / 570S and the rear is all MP4-12C. The car is striking. I really love the front of the car. It’s aggressive and unique without being arrogant. The rear of the car is all business. It’s neat, tidy and functional. The high mounted exhaust exits are perfectly placed and convey that the 650S is no ordinary car. Some say it is the face-lift of the 12C, but other say it is a step up bringing it closer to the P1.