Tag Archives: Ferrari

Top 5 German Cars in Red

24 Oct

Italian cars can come in a multitude of colours and look sexy. Let’s take Ferraris as an example. Now, if I ever perchance to buy a 355, I would buy one in red, naturally, and the same will probably be true when I get my Enzo, and almost certainly true when I get my F40. But what if I were to buy a 456? I’d get that in dark blue. A 550? Silver. My 250 Lusso? Did they do it in British Racing Green?

Travel north to Germany, however, and things are a bit different. I know I seem to give Germans a bit of a hard time about taste, but they do get it badly wrong sometimes. And, seeking to emulate their Italian automotive counterparts, they sometimes produce their cars in postbox red, or bucca delle lettre rosso, if you’re in Rome. And nearly every one looks, in the immortal words of Samuel Pepys, “bleedin’ ‘orrible”. Would you drive a red E-Class estate? A red R8? A red 5 Series? I thought not.

But sometimes, there is a synergy of colour and teutonic car that transcends nationality and just looks excellent. And so below is my run down of the Top 5 German Cars in Red, in no particular order:

1. Porsche 959

The Porsche 959. In a quarry of some kind.

What a great looking car this is. Like a 911 turned up to….well, 11. Sparred in the 80s with the aforementioned F40 for the title of World’s Fastest Production Car and yet, unlike the F40, it was also used for rallying and is thus imbued it with some fairly major kudos. And it looked good in red, hence its presence here.

2. Audi Quattro

"Fire up the....." blah blah blah

Originating in the heady days of Group B rallying, when no limits were put on a car’s maximum output, the Audi Quattro has emerged as something of a legend. It was the first car to introduce four-wheel drive into rallying, which would have been a comfort to the driver, given that some Quattrtos had close to 600 horsepower. Homologated for the road, the car offered a tantalising mixture of performance and discretion that made it the ultimate Q car of the 1980s. Unless you got it in red. Which it looks good in.

3. BMW M1

The BMW M1. In a sexy puddle

Originally built in 1978 as a collaboration between BMW and Lamborghini, the M1 was essentially a homologation special intended for competition (kind of like the Porsche 959. And the Audi Quattro). It was mid-engined, had a cool slatted roof, was designed by Giugiaro and….looked good in red.

4. Mercedes 190SL

Mercedes 190SL. Looks good in red.....

We’ve been hanging out in late 70s/early 80s Germany so far for this list, so let’s take it back a bit. The 190SL, essentially a cheaper, slower, less roofed and thus less gullwing-doored, version of the 300SL, was an archetype of graceful 1950s style. It only had a 1.9 litre engine, as its name suggests, which meant that your only option was to cruise slowly around the Riviera, with the top down, taking in the sights. Sounds terrible. Quite nice in red, too.

5. BMW Isetta

The BMW Isetta. Plus man.

OK, not a German car in the strictest sense, as the car was licensed to BMW by an Italian firm. But BMW put a lot of their own bits on and in it, it had a BMW badge, and that’s good enough for us. Released in the same year as the 190SL, but entirely different, the Isetta is a little cutie pie, albeit a cutie pie that uses the flexibility of your knee joints as its crumple zone. It seems ironic that, despite all our advancements in the automotive industry, automakers are now (non leg-based safety devices aside) trying to emulate the simplicity of the small cars of the 1950s like the Isetta, as well as the Mini and the Fiat 500. All of which look good in red. But only one of which can be counted as German. The Isetta. In red.

Well there you have it. And I appreciate that whether or not a German car looks good in red is subjective (well, it’s objective really, but for politeness’ sake let’s say it’s subjective). But then again, this is my blog, so lump it. Or, better still, tell me your Top 5. Comments welcome!

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Monaco!

14 Jun

So, Carficionado took it upon himself to head to the Monaco Grand Prix. Intrepid little bugger, aren’t I? Frankly, it was absolutely unbelievable, a veritable Disneyland for car lovers – well, maybe second to Ferrari World. Or Goodwood. The thing that struck me the most about being in Monaco was the sound of the engines reverberating around the harbour and up into the dusty hills. And the engines of the 3.5L Formula Renaults and the Porsche Carreras were one thing. But the Forumla 1 cars – you’ve never heard anything quite like it, I assure you. As you enter your designated seating zone (in my case, a very steep hill were you had to fashion your own perch – or Rocher as they grandly put it) you are issued with earplugs. These I scoffed at, thinking them merely a case of health and safety gone mad, symptomatic of the nanny state (or principality…..whatever). Thus I duly gave mine to a mother with a very displeased-looking child, an act of immense altruism which I immediately regretted the moment the first HRT (unfortunate name, really) left the pits.

So, just briefly, a few key things regarding the weekend:

  • I discovered that almost all rich people are very boring. Wealth is wasted on the wealthy as I always say. If you, readers of Carficionado, had as much money as these people, do you really think that the most imaginative automobile you could stretch to would be a red Ferrari California? There were loads of them. I was beginning to despair that all rich people were boring when, after the race had finished and the track was opened I saw, looming into Casino Square, a beautiful blue Bentley soft-top, packed with about 8 British people with a man sat up on the boot playing an accordion, all singing “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”. Thank God for them!
  • The Renault has the best sounding engine in Formula 1, closely followed by Lotus, Mercedes and McLaren. Ferrari’s was the most disappointing – Felipe Massa’s sounded like a bag of spanners rolling around in the trunk of a car.
  • The red flag robbed us of a spectacular finish. Fortunately Montreal made up for that. Jenson’s looking in fine form at the moment and his driving in both races has been immense.
  • One (admittedly very boring-looking) English bloke turned up in a proper, 1950s, Stirling Moss stylee 300SLR which was absolutely stunning. Pictures to follow…..
OK, so that’s the basic skinny of Carficionado’s first Grand Prix. I had a great weekend, I drank wine, ate cheese, swam in the sea. It was beautiful. So dear readers, get yourselves down to a Grand Prix, it’s highly recommended. Next one I want to catch is Spa, to see those cars flying up Eau Rouge – what a treat!

The Ferrari 458…..plus puns about fire

2 Sep

It's "flaming" brilliant

The new 458 is smoking hot……literally.

There, with that pun I have achieved the level of intellectual gravitas required to be an American journalist (also seen: “Ferrari 458 Italia lights my fire.” That doesn’t even make sense). Nevertheless, Ferrari have had to recall the fabulous new 458 Italia because it has the unfortunate habit of bursting into flames, which must alarm the owners who have just shelled out £170,000 for it. Galling images of beautiful Italian autoerotica sitting charred on the side of roads around the world are starting to flood in, causing a bit of a PR disaster for Ferrari, although one which their website, which still proudly shows a 458 pounding along a cypress-lined Italian road, fails to acknowledge. You can configure a California though. I’d have mine less ugly.

Apparently the fires have been caused by heat from the exhaust pipes causing the wheel arch fixings to sag, somehow causing the car to become a fireball. The boffins at Ferrari are currently fixing heat shields to the 1,200 cars that have been recalled. I suppose it’s better than Mercedes’ PR crisis when their A-Class was found to not be able to stand up very well on its own in the now-infamous “elk test”. Still, not ideal really. And believe me when I say, dear readers, that I for one will not be buying a 458 this year.

This car's on fire......literally! Sigh.

Pininfarina’s 80th Birthday

18 Jun

Pininfarina, or Carozzeria Pininfarina (it just means coach-builder) to give the company its full title, is 80 years old this year. The Italian design firm have used their pencils and French curves to come up with some of the most uniquely desirable automotive shapes of the 20th Century (and a few of the 21st). However, they’ve got a few skeletons in their closet. So behold, my Top 10 Notable (for better or for worse) Pininfarina Designs.

1. Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider

The achingly pretty Giulietta Spider of the 1950s became one of Alfa’s most iconic cars. Let’s consider the case of Federico Fellini. The great Italian director cast Sandra Milo, Anouk Aimee, Anita Eckberg and Claudia Cardinale in his films. He also drove a Giulietta Spider. Is that enough of an endorsement?

2. Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet

By no means the most revered variant of the 250 (that accolade surely goes to the 250 GTO), Pininfarina did however create one of the prettiest incarnations in the 250 GT Cabriolet. Delicious clean lines, delicious Italian GT car.

3. Peugeot 504 Coupé

Also designed as a cabriolet, I prefer the beautifully purposeful styling of the coupé. It has a suavity and elegance which I find totally irresistible. Merveilleux!

4. Ferrari F40

Creating this car in the same year as they created the Peugeot 405 (go figure), Pininfarina were asked by Signor Ferrari to create something earth-shattering to stamp his marques’ dominance before he died. It was the last car to be commissioned by Enzo Ferrari and proved itself to be quite a swansong.

5. Hyundai Matrix

Well, they couldn’t all be teary-eyed and rose-tinted recollections on Pininfarina’s glory, could they? The other day I passed a Hyundai Matrix in the street and was shocked to see that distinctive squiggle down the side of the car: “Pininfarina”. A boon for Hyundai then, but I personally couldn’t see any redeeming Pininfarina features on the car. The best you could say about it, I suppose, is that it looks European. In a sort of 90s way. Not their best.

6. Peugeot 406 Coupe

In my opinion, though, the Peugeot 406 Coupe was one of their best. A strikingly elegant design, not entirely dissimilar from Pininfarina’s design for the Ferrari 456, it embodied that 1990s French boldness and optimism, along with TGVs and those aerodynamic cycling helmets. Considering the car that it was based on, Pininfarina executed a fantastic design for the 406 Coupe.

7. Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé

I’m not entirely sure how this qualifies as a coupé, other than the fact that the top’s been coupéed off it. But lordy, does it matter? This is the sort of car that is so beautiful it makes you feel like someone’s punched you in the sternum. There is a total rightness to the design, that look of powering swiftly and strongly into the future. May have caused the recession though.

8. Daewoo Lacetti Sedan

OK, clearly whilst simultaneously designing the Ferrari Enzo, Pininfarina had to give their interns something to do. “Go and design some Daewoo” they said, giggling. And so they did. And it looked like this. Pretty woeful stuff really. Only accolade is that, now under the guise of being a Chevrolet, it features as Top Gear’s ‘Reasonably Priced Car’. Replacing the Suzuki Liana. That’s about as prestigious a provenance as it deserves.

9. Maserati Birdcage 75th

I hope that this car will one day translate into how every car looks. Built, by deduction, 5 years ago to honour Pininfarina’s 75th anniversary and the name harking back to Masaerati’s famous ‘Birdcage’ racer of the 1960s, the strikingly futuristic design must have seemed like a very nice birthday present indeed!

10. Hafei Zhongyi

So, shall I end with something nice or nasty? Well, not to discredit Pininfarina, whose brilliant work I thinks speaks for itself (ignoring the fact that I just wrote about it), but sometimes you’ve just got to laugh, like looking back at pictures of some of the less attractive women you’ve dated. I know nothing about this car, or rather van, other than the fact that it’s Chinese and they presumably didn’t give Pininfarina a particularly large design budget. Pininfarina, you’ve made some exquisitely, dazzlingly, spell-bindingly good looking cars. But this isn’t one of them.

German Morphology

6 Jun

I’m determined not to make this blog purely about German cars, but that seems to be the way it’s going. German cars and lists. Either way, I’ve been noticing a trait in their car designing which I’m sure is very obvious to everyone else too. You know that video effect when one shape morphs gradually into another? I think the Germans are using this to design their cars.

Think about it. At BMW they take a picture of a 1 Series hatch back and one picture of an X5. They feed these images into the video effect thingy and watch it go. At separate (and many) points in the morphing process they pause the video, draw that car and they have their range of cars! So they start with a 1 Series. Then it morphs thusly:

1 Series Coupe

3 Series Coupe

3 Series Saloon

5 Series Saloon

7 Series Saloon

5 Series GT

X6

X1

X3

X5

(This is not to mention the 6 Series, which would fit in awkwardly somewhere!)

Now obviously most car companies have a signature fascia that they will use at any one time and BMW are no different. But I make the point because it seems that the Germans are trying to design every type of car that you could ever think of.

Now consider Audi. They have the A4. Then they have the A6. But what if you want a car right in the middle? Get the new A5 in the coupe/saloon style already seen in the Mercedes CLS and the Volkswagen Passat CC. But you want an actual coupe. So get the A5 coupe. Golf rival? That would be the A3. Mini rival? The new A1. Massive 4×4? Q7. Slightly smaller 4×4? Q5. Supercar? R8. Obviously this massive variety of cars makes sense in business terms. And why wouldn’t Audi want to monopolise the car market? I know for a fact that they have a big operation going to get celebs papped driving their cars. I just think that it’s a bit cynical. It’s a lot of brain and a very small amount of heart, in my opinion. You know that something strange is happening in Germany when Porsche, who have been content with one driver door and one passenger door for ever and ever amen thank you very much, start making executive saloons and 4x4s. Ferrari have never made an SUV. Lamborghini have never had a go at making an MPV (although they did make the four-wheel drive LM002 for the Italian military and for some people with small willies to drive on the road). But those companies know what they are and what they want to be. They make sports cars and they’re very good at it. The Germans know what they want to be, too. They want to be EVERYTHING! Deutschland über alles, indeed!

My Top Five F1 Cars, in no particular order. Number 3 – Ferrari 641

2 Jun

Third on the list this week is another Ferrari, the 641. Built as a modification of the John Barnard designed 640 that was used in 1989, it was piloted by the rather epic partnership of Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell in 1990. I’ve loved the look of this car ever since I watched a video my uncle had called “Mansell and Ferrari,” in which a film crew followed the moustachioed one through his final year at the team. The fact that Mansell only won a solitary race that whole year must have meant that the director cursed his luck a bit. Nevertheless, it’s a great looking car, don’t you think?

My Top Five F1 Cars, in no particular order. Number 1 – Ferrari 312T4

31 May

So this week, I’ve decided to serialise my 5 favourite Formula 1 cars of all time. I’ve loved Formula 1 for as long as I can remember, so hopefully my choices will be a fitting tribute. I won’t bother doing them chronologically, I’ll just see how I feel. I’m afraid that I can’t and won’t get too technical about these cars. If you want that you can just look it up on Wikipedia, because that’s all I would have done! I mostly just love the way they look….

So first up, it’s  Ferrari’s 312T4, raced by a partnership of Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve in the 1979 Formula 1 season. I love the lip that runs around the front of the car’s chassis and the tractor loader that was obviously lying around in the Maranello factory which they decided to screw onto the front to form a wing. It’s just such a dynamic looking thing in a slightly awkward way. And it won the 1979 Constructor’s and Driver’s Championship for the team, neither of which Ferrari would win again until the advent of a certain M. Schumacher.