Monday, April 28, 2008

Corvette ZR1 hits 205 in testing.

GM just announced revised power numbers for the upcoming Corvette ZR1. The numbers were upped to 638HP and 604TQ. Now there is a video on the net showing a ZR1 hitting 205 MPH during testing. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

April 2008 Dream Car of the Month - Jaguar XJ220

Jaguar has had a reputation in the past of making some stunning performance cars many of which were simply race cars made street legal. The 1970's and 1980's were a pretty bleak time in that respect for Jaguar but Jim Randle, their chief engineer, along with a small group of like minded people within the company got together to work on an unofficial project to create a car to compete with the Porsche 959 and the Ferrari F40. Randal's idea was a two seat, mid engined, V12 powered sports car capable of in excess of 200mph. His initial idea was also to include an all-wheel-drive system for added traction.

After presenting the idea to Jaguar executives, they were given the green light to build a car for the 1988 British Motor Show. The concept car shown at the show featured a four valve, four cam, 6.2L V12 producing around 500HP. The engine in the concept car was built by Tom Walkinshaw Racing and it was mated to an all-wheel-drive system. The body of the car was low and wide and featured "scissor" type doors like what would be seen on a Lamborghini. The car was named the XJ220 as it's top speed target was 220mph. The production version was announced in 1989 with a price of over $500,000 US. Initial production was to be at least 220 units and not more than 350.

When it finally arrived in 1991, the production XJ220 was much different than the original concept car in many ways. The most obvious and important change was that the production car would be powered by a 3.5L twin turbo V6 mated to a rear wheel drive transaxle instead of the original V12 all-wheel-drive setup in the concept car. The V12 was ditched for a couple of reasons, one of which was changing emissions standards of the day along with fitment issues with the larger powerplant. The original all-wheel-drive system was replaced due to mostly weight and packaging issues. The turbo V6, Jaguar's first V6 and turbo engine, actually produced more power than the originally proposed V12. The production XJ220 with the turbo V6 had 549HP and 473TQ.

Even with the increased performance of the V6, many customer's were not happy with the changes to the XJ220 and some even requested or demanded their deposits back. Some even threatening legal action. It also didn't help that the XJ220's price had increased to about $650,000 US by the time it went to production. That and the fact that Jaguar was also now offering the XJR-15 for sale which was quicker 0-60 and based on their Le Mans race car made for some angry customers. In all 281 cars were produced and some remained unsold by 1997 even at about half the original price.

The XJ220 hit the track at the Nardo Ring in 1992 where it hit a top speed of 212.3mph. After the car's catalytic converters were removed and the rev limiter increased, it went out again and set a mark of 217.1mph, just short of the goal of 220mph. Some contest that since it was a ring circuit that the cars actually would have hit 223mph on a straight track long enough. Either way, this number for a road car was not eclipsed until the production of the McLaren F1.

The XJ220 is an amazing piece of engineering and an automotive work of art. They are quite beautiful cars. They did suffer from some serious turbo-lag but they were still blisteringly fast. Top Gear tested an XJ220 against a much newer Pagani Zonda in a drag race and the Jaguar won. I would absolutely have one in my fantasy garage.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day

Woo Hoo, it's Earth Day. Let's go save the planet. Honestly, I don't think the planet is in much danger. It's been here much longer than us and it's been through much more than a little pollution and global warming. The Earth will continue to exist long after we have made ourselves extinct. If it gets too bad, this planet will shake us off like a bad case of fleas. What we're really concerned with is saving our own asses. It's kind of pompous to think that we could destroy an entire planet. We can ruin it for our type of life, but the planet will still be here and it will recover.

For some reason the task of saving the planet as well as the blame for the problems seems to be increasingly focused on car owners. The focus had increased exponentially with the recent ridiculous spikes in gas prices over the last few years. Sure, a lot can be done to make cars better but how about we start with public and commercial transportation. Government funded public transportation like bus services should be mandated to use alternative fuel sources like natural gas, electricity, etc. Taxis as well should all be mandated to be alternatively fueled or at least hybrid powered. These changes alone would result in huge improvements in air quality as well as national fuel consumption. Have you even been behind a diesel bus in a major city and seen the amount of crap that spews out of the exhaust? Sure some places have adopted clean power sources, but not enough. After that, we can focus on these developing countries like China that are just now going through their industrial revolution. China burns tons of coal and produces more pollution than probably all the cars sold in this country over the last 5 years combined.

While I'm on the topic of saving the planet, I'd like to express my opinions on the whole global warming "theory". That is all it is at this point. Sure, I'll agree that there is evidence that the planet is getting warmer, but the "theory" part of it is what exactly the root cause of the temperature increase is. Could we have something to do with it? Maybe. Could it be a natural occurrence? That's a possibility as well. The thing is, we just don't know. I don't care what Al Gore and the rest of the "sky is falling" paranoia bunch say. The Earth has gone through hot and cold phases throughout its history so this may indeed be natural. We have so little accurate information to go on regarding the Earth's climate that the cause of global warming will never be proven. Humans have been on this planet for the equivalent of a blink of an eye in the Earth's history. On top of that we have what, a hundred years of accurate climate information at best. That's out of about 4 billion years of Earth history. That is such a small sample it's like taking one grain of sand and telling someone what the entire planet looks like based on just that. It's impossible. It will always be "theory".

While I'm on the subject of fantasy and paranoia, any of you remember the hole in the ozone that was discovered about 20 - 25 years ago? What happened to that? There was hysteria about that back in the day. It was going to get bigger and bigger allowing all kinds of radiation into the atmosphere. It would make us all look like beef jerky and then we'd die of skin cancer. And we were the cause of it all. Where did it go? Was it a natural occurrence or man made? No one cares anymore because it's gone, magically. There is still a whole lot about our planet that we do not understand completely.

Wouldn't it be funny if by trying to solve the global warming problem, we make it worse? What if we trigger a new ice age? That would be ironic. Then we'd all have to cut off our catalytic converters and stand outside and disperse all the aerosol cans we could get our hands on.

Whatever the cause and solution are, I'm absolutely in favor of finding different energy and fuel sources. As long as it doesn't affect my driving enjoyment, I don't care if my car runs on sewage. I'm just not down with the whole scare tactic, paranoia thing. Just my opinions, I could be completely wrong.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lamborghini Murcielago SV look ready to take off.

Pictures are surfacing on the web of the rumored Murcielago SV testing where else but on the Nurburgring. The rumors suggest that the car will be rear drive only, instead of all wheel drive and feature a 680HP V12. The car will also be around 200lbs lighter than a standard Murcielago thanks mostly to the loss of the all wheel drive hardware.

As you can see from the pictures, the SV also sports a huge wing hanging off the rear deck lid. The wing is a bit ridiculous but I assume it's functional since the car should be capable of well in excess of 200mph.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Steve Millen takes a Nissan GTR for a spin.

Continuing with what is quickly becoming a Nissan GTR love-fest, here is a video of Steve Millen taking one around a road course.