Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chrysler to file for bankruptcy.

According to a report on CNN, Chrysler will be filing for bankruptcy. Their source is an Obama administration official who indicated that negotiations with creditors have collapsed. Apparently many of the bank lenders were willing to work with Chrysler and made concessions on much of the $7 billion owed to them. However, many non bank lenders were not willing to work with the Treasury Department on reducing Chrysler's debt.

Bad news.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April 2009 Dream car of the Month - 1987 Ruf CTR "Yellowbird"

Ruf Automobile was founded in 1923 by Alois Ruf Sr. under the name of Auto Ruf. At the time it was a small shop and gas station but eventually evolved into a design and manufacturing company working on touring buses. Ruf's son, Alois Ruf Jr., became very interested in sports cars growing up and in the 1960s he started restoring Porsches out of the garage owned by his father. When Alois Sr. died in 1974, Alois Jr. took control of the company and decided to take it in a different direction. He did away with the garage, gas station and bus company and began working exclusively on Porsche vehicles. In 1975, Ruf introduced their first Ruf tuned Porsches for sale. It wasn't until 1987 though that the world really took notice of Ruf and their amazing CTR "Yellowbird".

Based on the 1987 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2, the CTR was highly modified both mechanically and aerodynamically to acheive incredible levels of performance. The standard Carera 3.2 was taken apart by Ruf and nothing was left untouched. The doors, hood, and rear engine cover were replced with light weight aluminum. The roof's rain gutters were shaved down to reduce drag and the front and rear bumpers were replaced with lighter, more aerodynamic, pieces. In all, Ruf reduced the curb weight a total of 441lbs to a very slim 2579lbs. Inside, sport seats and a full roll cage dominated the scene.

For the engine, Ruf decided to bump up the displacement and add a pair of intercooled turbochargers to up the power. Engine size was increased from 3.2 to 3.4 liters. The results of the engine work was a power output of 469HP/408TQ. At the time the only Porsche transmission able to handle that kind of power was the 4 speed available in the 930. The 5 speed that came in the Carerra 3.2 would not be able to handle the CTR's impressive torque. After deciding that the 4 speed was not good enough, Ruf designed and built their own custom 5 speed transmission for the CTR. Underneath the car, Ruf upgraded the suspension system and added 17" wheels and Brembo brakes.

The result of all this work was a car priced at $223,000 if purchased from Ruf directly (customers also had the option to bring in their 911 Carrera and have Ruf do the conversion) that could hit 60 miles per hour in 4 seconds flat, 100mph in 7.3 seconds and the 1/4 mile in 11.7. The Ruf CTR topped out at an amazing 212mph making it the fastest car in the world at the time.

A total of 29 CTRs were built by Ruf from cars they bought directly from Porsche. The remaining CTRs were built from converted customer cars.

Alois Ruf Jr. and the CTR

Today Ruf continues to be the premier Porsche tuner in the world. They even have status as a manufacturer in Germany because their modifications are so extensive and they use so many of their own designed and built components in their cars. Most of Ruf's success and status is owed to the amazing CTR and the cars that followed it. The CTR "Yellowbird" is the one that put them on the map.

Here is a special bonus video of the CTR in action on the Nurburgring:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Project Miata update #3

Haven't posted much about the Miata in a while. With the weather being so nice here in the Northeast, finally, I've been enjoying the car. I got my issue with the rear suspension nut resolved and I've just been driving. What a fun car.

The car passed NJ State inspection this weekend with no problems. Whew! Was a bit anxious about this since the car has over 136,000 miles on it and what looks to be the original exhaust and catalytic converter. Big relief.

I also took the car for an alignment which was an ordeal. Went to a local Firestone Service Center since there is noting better in my area. They, of course, wouldn't do any custom numbers on the alignment but later in the day they called and said they couldn't get it to the stock specs either. Then they finally looked at my custom numbers but couldn't hit the camber number on that. Nothing looks bent and they agreed saying that the car is just too low with the new suspension. As far as I know that shouldn't make a difference with the Miata but whatever. Of course, they gave me no discount and I paid for a half-assed alignment. I'll have to find a good racing shop to do my alignment from now on. Not too concerned since the tires I have are crap. Once I replace them and, hopefully, the rims I'll get a good alignment.

I'm waiting on some new stuff for the car. My wife ordered something Miata related for my birthday but I don't know what it is yet. Possibly one of the many books available for Miata enthusiasts. I also treated myself to an R-Package front lip spoiler from RSpeed. Couldn't pass up the price they were offering as part of a group buy. Still waiting for delivery on that.

Also getting psyched for an all Mazda meet at the world famous Orange County Choppers. Hopefully the weather this weekend is nice. There are almost 200 cars and 300 people signed up for the weekend meet.

Monday, April 27, 2009

R.I.P. Pontiac

After 83 years of existence, GM will make the announcement today that they will be killing off the Pontiac brand in an effort to reduce their operating costs and try to avoid bankruptcy.

I've always been a fan of Pontiac. I owned a 1978 Trans Am when I was in college and I've lusted after some of their recent performance models like the Holden based GTO and G8. Unfortunately, those great cars sold poorly and it was simply too little too late.

The company that pretty much invented the muscle car with the original GTO, will be no more.

Goodbye Pontiac.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

2009 NY Auto Show

Spent the day at the show yesterday with my son. The show was pretty good but you can tell that the poor economy has had an effect on things. Attendance seemed down from past years and there was a definite lack of real special debuts and concepts. That being said the show was still enjoyable and the lack of crazy crowds was more than welcome. Lets get into the good and bad from the show.

The Good:

Cadillac CTS-V - simply awesome. They had one on the floor open to sit in. Already impressed with the performance and exterior, I was happily surprised to see the very nicely done interior. GM hit a home run with this one.

Pontiac G8 GXP - Just a bad ass performance sedan. Too bad it may disappear along with the rest of Pontiac if GM files for bankruptcy.

Nissan 370Z, 370Z NISMO and 370Z Roadster - Much nicer looking inside and out compared to the 350Z. Got rid of the big butt look from the 350 and the interior is night and day.

Hyundai Genesis Coupe - Great looking, good performance, reasonable price = winning combination. Interior a bit cheap but livable for the price.

Chevy Camaro SS - WOW. Stunning in person. Interior not great but OK enough. Visibility could take some getting used to but I'd try to live with it for the performance and looks it offers. Huge crowd around it.

Chevy Volt - Good looking and one of the most important cars of at least the last 20 years, if GM can get it to market.

Chevy Cruze - Impressive new small car from the General. They really are starting to get things right. Hopefully, it's not too late.

Audi R8 V10 - One word, awesome.

Porsche - Showed the new GT3 and for the first time I can remember, let you sit in the 911, Cayman and Boxster they had on display.

Mercedes - They had most of their latest AMG models available and open to sit in. All except for the awesome McLaren SLR 722 Convertible and sinister SL63 Black Series.

Fisker - Stunning cars. Enough said.

The Bad:

BMW - They had a 135 Coupe decked out with every available option including new appearance and performance bits. Nice looking to be sure but with an indicated price of around $70,000, ridiculously laughable. Most people gathered around the car mumbled something to the effect of "$70,000 for a 1 series!" and walked away.

Mitsubishi - Always relegated to the lower floor, they had a new Lancer Ralliart open to the public but the Ralliart Sportback and EVOX were both locked. Why? Even Porsche let the unwashed masses molest their cars.

Subaru - Another basement display and no WRX STI. The only WRX they had was the sedan. The new Legacy was on display but it's looks may have to grow on me.

Mazda - After seeing the new Mazda 3 in person, I think they ruined it. I'm not a fan of the new design on the nose of the car. The Mazdaspeed version is still an awesome little hatch though.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

NY Auto Show - Friday

Getting ready to do my yearly pilgrimage to the Jacob Javits center to check out the New York International Auto Show. With the economy taking a toll on auto shows, there hasn't been a whole lot of buzz about this show so far. I am interested in checking out the debuts of the Nissan 370Z convertible and NISMO versions.

I'll post up photos upon my return.