Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays

Just wanted to wish everyone a happy healthy holidays and new year.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December 2009 Dream Car of the Month - Cizeta V-16T

This month I figured I'd focus on a very rare and obscure supercar from the 90s, the Cizeta V-16T.  I had almost completely forgotten about this amazing car until it showed up in the news earlier this month.  Apparently the car's designer, former Lamborghini engineer, Claudio Zampolli had one of the only ten examples ever built with him here in the U.S. where he now lives.  Unfortunately, he failed to get it approved by the U.S. government and it was seized in California on December 7 because according to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officials, "Cars that don't meet U.S. standards are outlawed for a reason.  These vehicles can pose a real threat to public health and safety". Thank God they removed that menace from the streets.  I feel safer now, don't you?  A bit ridiculous, isn't it?  Either way, their intention is to sell the car to the highest bidder outside the U.S.

The history of this car goes back to the mid 1980's when Lamborghini was looking for a replacement for their aging Countach.  Zampolli and Marcello Gandini worked on the design and engineering of the car that would carry the Lamborghini supercar torch for the next several years.  Their design was subsequently rejected by Lamborghini's then parent company Chrysler.  Chrysler believed that the styling was too aggressive and the car would be too expensive to manufacture.  The car that eventually was built, the Diablo, featured some of the styling queues of the original design but in all was very toned down.

After leaving Lamborghini, Zampolli reunited with Gandini to design and build the car they originally envisioned.  A working prototype was ready by 1988, ahead of the Diablo, and a new company Cizeta (Ci-Zeta from the Italian sounding of Claudio Zampolli's initials CZ) was born.  Originally billed as the Cizeta Moroder because of the involvement of composer Giorgio Moroder, who later dropped out of the partnership, the car was eventually sold as the Cizeta V-16T.

The production V-16T featured an amazing transverse mounted (hence the T in the name) V16 engine which was created by grafting two flat plane V8s together.  The transverse layout of the huge engine meant the the Cizeta was wide, very wide.  The two V8s shared a common block and featured gearing between them to send the output to the transaxle.  Power output of the V16 is 540HP/400TQ which is enough to propel the car to 60MPH in about 4 seconds with a top speed exceeding 200MPH.  Body construction was aluminum and the chassis was a tubular and honeycomb construction.

Pricing for the V-16T was around $300,000 when they were introduced for sale in 1991.  Unfortunately for the company the world's economy was on a downturn and they just didn't have the name recognition among the uber rich that companies like Ferrari and Lamborghini have.  Production ended in 1995 with only 10 car being built.

That however is not the end of the story.  Cizeta is still around and they are building cars again.  Zampolli moved himself and his company to California and they have resumed operations on an "on demand" basis.  They even introduced a new model in 2003, the Spyder.  Both models are still powered by the wild V16 and carry even wilder price tags.  For a standard coupe, expect to pay $649,000 while the spyder will run you $849,000.  Don't know how often their site is updated but the Cizeta website is up at  Check it out.

A little extra for you. Here is a video of what is I believe to be the same car that was recently seized by the US Government. Sounds amazing.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ahhh Road Rage

Well this morning was interesting.  On my way to work I was involved in a pretty intense road rage incident.  Now, this isn't my first and won't be my last since I'm living in the NY/NJ area which has got to be road rage central.  Over the course of my life I've been witness to numerous events like this.

One particular time that sticks in my memory was many years ago and I was a passenger in my friend's Taurus SHO when some moron was tailgating a little too close.  So my friend did what any reasonable instigator would do and give a little brake tap.  That obviously didn't go over well and the moron was so determined to show us how cool he was he immediately sped up and flew by in the right lane and attempting to cut us off.  Unfortunately for him his maneuver was so violent that he completely lost control of his car and wound up spinning out in front of us at highway speeds ending up on the grass center median facing the wrong way.  Brilliant!  I've also seen the insanity of someone cutting another car off and pulling the handbrake, again at highway speeds, to make some kind of statement to the car behind him.  You gotta love it.

But this morning's one was particularly scary and humorous at the same time.  The local road I take from home that leads to the NJ Turnpike is really two lanes at an intersection controlled by a traffic light.  There is no straight so both lanes are to turn left which leads to the toll booths.  This is marked by signs that are easily visible.  There is a short right turn lane at the light but it does not go back more than a hundred feet from the light.  The leftmost lane goes to a regular tollbooth to get a ticket and the right lane goes left to an EZ PAss lane.  Anyway, having lived here for over 10 years, I've seen it happen many times where someone doesn't realize both lanes are for left turns and is in the leftmost lane but wants to get to the EZ Pass booth.  So they make the turn and attempt to go wide to the right and see that the person next to them has also turned left so they honk, or worse, thinking this person has made an illegal left from the right lane.....wrong!

Well, that's what happened this morning.  This guy in a BMW (breaking those douchebag in a BMW stereotypes) does this and honks at me.  No biggie, but then he flings his car over into my lane right on my ass.  What can I do?  You guessed it, I give him a brake tap as he's on my bumper yelling at the back of my head (quite funny in the rear view mirror).  Well that sets him off....I mean off the deep end.  He then swings out to the right and goes through the next tollbooth over.  I go through mine before him so he swings back left three lanes and attempts to beat me to the entrance ramp (three lanes to one merge).  I, of course, don't let him in since he's being a major dick.  That makes him even angrier and he then swings back right and passes me and the person ahead of me on the shoulder.

That's that....right?  Wrong.  It get's better.  He's now two cars ahead of me and he merges onto the highway before the merge lane ends, across the white lines, because he's that kind of asshat.  There he does something surprising.  He slams on the brakes and waits for me.  Now it's getting interesting.  As I merge onto the highway he again slams on the brakes directly ahead of me causing me to stop short.  Hand gestures start flying back and forth  and he keeps blocking me as I change lanes.  Finally he lets me get along side of him and then he starts pacing me.  I try to ignore him but out of curiosity I finally look over and he's got his window down and he's yelling something.  So I oblige and roll my window down enough to hear him yelling "WHAT"S YOUR PROBLEM!".  My problem?  OK.  So I simply yell back - "ASSHOLE THAT WAS TWO LEFT TURN LANES BACK THERE".  His response with a confused look on his face is "No".  Then he speeds off to spread his assholeness to others.  The scary thing was that I could swear that he had one of those shield plaques in his windshield.  You know, like off duty police offices have in their personal cars.  God I hope for everyone's sake he's not a cop.  He didn't seem like the most stable person.

So that was my excitement for the day.  Sad.