Category Archives: Sports Cars

Introducing the first addition to the TDRO garage!

That’s right! The time has finally come! The first official addition to the TDRO garage has arrived… and it’s rather German.

Not only is it German, it’s nearly a classic. As you may have guessed by now if you follow me on social media (if you don’t, you really should), it is a BMW 325i. More specifically it is an E46 325i, making it one of the all time great BMW’s (at least in my mind).  There are a number of reasons I chose this model and this particular car, but first let’s take a quick look at the E46 325i’s details.

The E46 325i began production in 2001, featuring a 2.5 liter straight-six blasting out a mind-bending 189 hp… okay, so maybe not so mind-bending after all. However, the car’s balance and cornering ability are what set it out as one of the all time greats. The combination of a well-balanced, rear-wheel-drive sedan with a manual transmission give the car a very sporty feel.

Okay so it’s no 812 Superfast and obviously, I haven’t chosen the 325 for its speed. While the M54 engine may not be particularly powerful by today’s standards, let’s keep in mind, this is a 16 year old car. In a sense, this car is nearly a classic. The E46 chassis was one of the last great designs before things began to uh… inflate. Modern cars are heavy and big. Lots of insulation. Lots of safety features. Lots of, well, everything. Not only has this made cars grow fatter and heavier, It has complicated in shrunk interiors. The E46 came just before this growth really began, and therefore doesn’t suffer the same weightiness.  The doors are thin, the cabin is spacious despite the sedan’s compact design. The dash is simple, without too much clutter and gadgets to keep you from focusing on what you really need to.

At this point, you might be wondering, why not an M3? It has all the good looks and charm of the 325, but with the addition of a sixth gear and another 150 hp (nearly). The answer to that is simple. First of all, an E46 M3 in average condition costs about twice as much as a 325 or 330 in excellent condition. For the cost of an M3, I can get a 325 or 330 plus enough performance parts to make it considerably faster and better on track than the M3. When it came down to it, my choice between 325 and 330 came down to the best car available. Many (if not most) E46s on the used market have at some point been heavily modified and beaten to within an inch of its life by some guy who wears overpriced sports sunglasses and doesn’t know what heel-toe or throttle blipping is. Many of these cars probably have an ebay coffee-can muffler, a light-up shift knob atop a hacksawed off shifter lever and a “cold air intake” that sucks more mud and bugs into the intake than an anteater on Thanksgiving. Okay, maybe that is an exaggeration, but not by much.

This particular 325i has under 100k miles, essentially one owner (in California) and is in unusually immaculate condition. There are of course, a few minor flaws, but they can all easily be addressed. Over time, I plan to do a massive array of performance mods which will hopefully result in a car which is as fast or faster around a track as a new M3, for around the cost of a fifteen-year-old M3. Currently the car is bone stock, but that hasn’t stopped me from having a bit of fun – which you will see very soon! Now, it’s time to start preparing to get on track!

Stay tuned!

Is the F430 the new ultimate bargain Ferrari?

For some time, the F355 sat at the perfect price range to be the ultimate bargain Ferrari. Now, however, the F355’s indirect successor – the F430 (following the 360) – has dropped down to the $100,000 price range. Does this make it the new ultimate bargain Ferrari?

While the 355 does certainly have some strong points, such as the absolutely delicious sound it produces with a good exhaust or the fact that finding one with a gated-manual gearbox is slightly less difficult, the performance advantages of the F430 are undeniable. The F430 presents a 108 hp gain over the F355, for a total of 483 hp from its 4.3 liter V8. While the F430 is slightly heavier than the F355, the 430’s performance numbers speak for themselves: 0 to 60 (mph) in just 3.6 seconds, nearly a second faster than the F355; 0 to 100 (mph) in 8.3 seconds, compared to 11.2 in the F355. If you manage to get to top speed, the F430 will also take you 186 mph – a whole 7 mph faster than the F355.

Having said that, we are talking about a bargain here, so of course cost is a factor; it isn’t all about the ultimate performance machine. If it was, we would just pony up the extra $100k and buy a 458, right? While 458 prices remain around the $200,000 mark, F430s have dropped to around half that price, and F355s are anywhere from $65,000 to $115,00. So, you might think well hey, I can save myself $30,000 and get the 355, right? Well, you might want to consider the fact that the F355 is a car (and a Italian one at that) born out of the early nineties. Reliability might be an issue, to say the least, and the maintenance costs are going to be quite high.

Ah, but wait! There is the 360 Modena! Succeeded by the F430, and the F355s successor, it stands to reason that the 360 should sit in the middle as far as prices go. While some can be found for as little as $75,000, the 360 still reaches prices as high as $130,000 for highly spec’d, low-mileage examples. So, unless you are a lucky buyer who has found the highly sought after gated-manual gearbox, why not get the nicer, newer, better-looking F430?

The F430 has all the looks, feels and sounds (included in the video coming soon!) of a proper Ferrari. It is a proper Ferrari. And now… it is a hundred-thousand-dollar-Ferrari. Ultimate bargain Ferrari? I think so.

Supercar Saturday photo gallery

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Here’s a collection of photo’s from the two Supercar Saturday events I have attended so far. Special thanks to MN Exotics and Supercars for hosting the event!

View the slideshow above, or click the thumbnails below to open the photos full size.

And don’t forget to check out the video!

Supercar withdrawls are real… Save yourself with Supercar Saturday

I’ve packed up my gear and headed to another Supercar Saturday in Bloomington, MN to try and stave off the supercar withdrawls for another month.

Unfortunately, I ran out of battery much faster than I anticipated, so I didn’t get to do as much vlog style commentary as I’d hoped. That’s on the agenda for next time. I also haven’t yet gotten a new gimbal, so yeah… sorry about the shakiness.

Don’t forget to like, share, comment and subscribe!

New photos and video coming soon!

A determined looking Lamborghini Huracan, hidden behind a Lotus Evora and an Aston Martin V12 Vantage. Front car is an Aston Martin Vantage GT.

The Supercar Saturday meet hosted by MN Exotics and Supercars in Bloomington, MN this past weekend was excellent. Many excellent cars were in attendance, even a few surprises. A full photo gallery and video will be coming soon! 

Until then, here’s a few teasers! Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook, and subscribe to our Youtube channel to stay up to date on the latest content!

If you haven’t already seen my short video from the very first Supercar Saturday, be sure to check it out!

The new Porsche 911 GT3: Return of the manual gearbox

The new Porsche 911 GT3 is looking better than ever, largely thanks to more power and the return of the optional six-speed manual gearbox.

It seems that as quickly as the manual gearbox began to disappear from the high-performance sports car sector, it has made its return. As flappy-paddles took over for their ease and superior performance, enthusiasts cried out and the value of cars with manual transmissions began to skyrocket. Following the success of the manual-only 911 R, Porsche has decided to give us what we really want – an optional six-speed manual gearbox on the new 911 GT3.

The new GT3 features a new 5.0 liter flat-six, lifted straight out of the 911 GT3 Cup race car, which produces 500 hp. Combine that with a wet weight of only 1,430 kg (3,153 lbs) and you get to 62 mph from a standstill in just 3.4 seconds with the standard seven-speed PDK gearbox, or in 3.9 seconds with the manual. While the launch might be slightly slower, the good news is the manual will take you 2 km/h faster, to a top speed of 320 km/h (198 mph).

On the track, the new 911 GT3 should feel even more at home, where the standard rear steering can allow for some liveliness. Not only that, the standard “Connect Plus module” and “Track Precision app” will allow you to track your performance on your smartphone.

If you have the €152,416 base price to spare, you can order yours today, and see it delivered sometime after May.

Source: Porsche

Photo Source: Porsche

Video Source: Porsche

A day in an outdated legend

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With the competition heading in a new direction, the Subaru WRX STI seems to be lagging behind. While the hatch is gone and so is the hype, that doesn’t mean you should count it out when considering the likes of the Focus RS or the Golf R. While many of the others have inched toward – and even over – 350 horsepower, the STI has remained around 300 horsepower. Combine that with a lack of a fancy gimmick like a drift button or masses of carbon fiber and you might reasonably think, “hmmm… maybe I should get the Focus RS.” So, to settle this dispute myself, I took to a lovely blue 2011 WRX STI 5-door for the day.
First of all, I think the ’08-’14 5-door (or hatchback) model looks the best and from what I can tell the difference in performance between that and the new WRX is minimal, with the most significant changes residing in the AWD system. For that reason, the 5-door STI would be my choice over a new one – plus saving a few grand on depreciation. Today, however, the question is not which STI to get, but rather is the STI still the legend it once was and is it still reasonable to choose the STI over the competition.

Okay, so the WRX doesn’t seem as ugly as it once did – so what? The Focus RS isn’t exactly an eyesore, and the Mercedes A45 AMG is a quite good looking car, why not go for one of those? On top of looks, the RS has 350 hp, and the A45 has an astonishing 381 hp to the WRX STI’s 305 hp. Safe to say, the RS and the A45 would both leave the WRX for dead in a drag race. So where is the appeal?

Well, we all know the Subaru AWD system is one of the best on the market, and for inclement weather the WRX may well be the best choice. The STI drives great, and is plenty fast for daily road use. Add in a Cobb Stage 2 kit, as was installed in this particular STI, and you will gain nearly 30 hp and, more importantly, a whopping 80 lb-ft of torque. Doing so will cost you considerably less than the difference to buy a new WRX instead of the 2011, and will put the car much closer onto par with the slightly more muscular competition. The truth is, however, that isn’t the best reason for installing the Cobb kit, nor is it the best reason for buying a WRX. The fact of the matter is, while the Focus RS and the A45 AMG – or even the Golf R – may be faster and more technologically advanced, I don’t think they sound very good. Sure, the RS makes some nice pops and bangs and the A45 has all the 4 cylinder charm you could ever need, but the WRX has that signature Subie bobble… and who doesn’t love that? Add to that the increased volume and turbo noise from the Cobb kit, and you have a truly great sounding car – something the others fall far short on.

As soon as I started driving the car, I immediately noticed that my body was positioned in some strangely crooked way, my knees had no room to move and my feet had hardly enough room to heel-and-toe. The turbo lag was quite noticeable, as under 2,500 rpm the car felt as if it was powered by an infant’s cough through a window screen. Once I got above 4,000 rpm, however, I was lost in a daze of Subaru bobble, differential noise and blow-off valve noise. The car launches hard enough to keep a passenger from touching the dash all the way to a speed which should not be publicised on public roads, and can corner hard enough to make sure none of your groceries make it home undamaged, even in poor driving conditions. The suspension eats up the bumps and provides enough clearance to not need to worry about the average pothole or sleeping policeman.

“OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE LOSING”

The point is, the WRX may be slower, technologically outdated, less comfortable and more unknown to those less automotively inclined than ourselves. It may also be the official car of computer programmers who played a bit too much Gran Turismo. Nonetheless, it is still a very fast AWD, 5-door hatchback with a good old fashioned manual 6 speed transmission. Best of all, it has something the others don’t: an all consuming soundtrack. The others may be faster and better in many ways, but once the sound of the flat 2.5 liter kicks in you simply won’t care. It sounds like a racecar, it feels (sort of) like a racecar, and as far as I’m concerned, it is a racecar.

Originally published on DRIVETRIBE.com

The Bentley EXP 10 SPEED 6: British racing beauty or trying too hard?

Bentley EXP 10 SPEED 6 Sports car concept two seater 1.jpg

Bentley revealed the EXP 10 SPEED 6 concept at the Geneva Motor Show March 2015 as a concept two-seater sports car and potential future model. Part of the reason for concept cars such as this is to gauge the consumer’s response, so let’s make a judgement shall we?

The Bentley Continental GT has always been a car which I personally regard as sleek and beautiful. It’s wrapped in luxury yet has the power and performance to hang out with the racers and makes a quite striking GT3, I might add. You might say it’s the wealthy duke, who lifts weights regularly yet eats any delectable desserts he finds.

Comparatively, the EXP 10 SPEED 6 should fit in as the duke who works out daily, and follows a strict diet.

Wolfgang Dürheimer, chairman and chief executive of Bentley Motors, said the EXP 10 SPEED 6, “offers thrilling, driver-oriented performance, complete with trademark modern Bentley luxury and effortlessness,” and “this is not just a new sports car concept – but the potential Bentley sports car – a bold vision for a brand with a bold future.

Bearing in mind this is a concept, and concepts are typically a bit overdone and more aggressively styled than the end product, I must say – and I say it with love, it seems to me they are trying a bit too hard.

The looks are, for me, a bit confused. The face of the car grins at you like some odd four eyed cartoon character, the side profile is oddly similar to the Jaguar F-type, and the rear end seems looks as though it has the weight of a dozen Continental’s pushing on it. I must say though, that is being rather critical and there certainly is some aspects I do like. In a sense it is indeed a slimmed down Continental GT, though I wish the ends resembled it more, and I do like the added aggression to the appearance.

The interior is wrapped in leather and the doors feature solid straight-grain cherry wood, with 3D quilting milled into them. It is the usual Bentley luxury we all know with a tighter, sportier feel, minus the rear seats… and that, is where the real problem begins.

Bentley EXP 10 SPEED 6 Sports car concept two seater 5.jpg

I’ve long dreamed of a true, modern Bentley sports car. One which represents all the performance and racing technology Bentley is capable of, without a sacrifice for comfort. In the world of premium sports cars, the word “luxury” can nearly be considered synonymous with “heavy.” Soft seats, soft ride, premium sound systems and climate control all add weight, and a lot of it.

The Continental GT already provides the combination of speed and relative performance with luxury, if Bentley wishes to do a sports car, it should be a proper sports car. Forget the soft seats, wooden door panels and flashy trim. Let’s see a true British, purist sports car.

 

Originally published on RaceDepartment.com March 18, 2015