Friday, January 27, 2012

Winter... the rainy season?

I can't believe how much it's raining today! It's hard to believe we're in the middle of winter! At least it makes the BMW easier to drive.

I've been pretty darned busy at work and haven't had much time to write. My girls' basketball team are now 7 and 3. This puts us in 2nd place. Unfortunately, our 3 losses have all been to the 1st place team. This is the team that we will have to somehow beat in the finals this spring. We will be playing in a couple of local tournaments before that, so hopefully we can make progress in a few important areas.

I've missed the past couple of games with my men's team, due to weather and work. I have a game tonight and I'm sure I will be pretty rusty (and winded).

Winter is also the time to think about cars and do research on the Internet... I re-watched all the episodes of the awesome anime series called "Initial D" and it really makes me want another Japanese car. I would really like to pick up an economical and fun car like an early Miata or a (now rare) RWD Corolla GT-S. Alex does not approve. I guess it makes more sense to put the money into an RRSP... The Miata will have to wait a bit.

On the street, I have spotted a couple of new cars. The new Toyota Yaris is pretty similar to the old one, but looks a bit more like a mini-matrix. The new Subaru Impreza is a real disappointment. I don't know how they will find a way to make any version of it look sporty, as the base model looks like a small SUV. I've seen a few more Honda CR-Z's on the road. The more I see them, the more I like them. I would like the styling more if it didn't have that ridiculous SUV front grille. Also, I realized that I like the mini Countryman. It's a neat, small vehicle with 4 doors and 4wd.

Cool cars spotted:
Saab Turbo X
Hummer H1
Porsche 997 Carrera 4S
BMW M3 (E92)
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III

Monday, January 9, 2012

Coolest drives of 2011

Here is a list, in no particular order, of some cool cars I got to drive in 2011. Enjoy!

BMW M6

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I can’t say that I was overwhelmed when I drove this car on the track, but, in all fairness, the car was on winter tires and I was not in Sport Mode (and therefore, was using only 400 hp instead of 500). The M6 is not designed to be a track car, but it really is a nice car. The quality of the interior is definitely a notch above the M3, and I am already a big fan of the M3 interior. Over all, I think the M6 is a pretty neat car and would make a fast and comfortable daily driver.

Ford GT

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This was a car that was on my “list” of cars I wanted to try. I took it very easy in this car on the track because it had awesome torque and no form of traction control. Despite the cheap interior, the car made a great impression. It had so much presence and I loved seeing it out on the track even when I was riding in other cars. I don’t know if I would ever buy a car like this, but I came away impressed by the over all package.

Nissan GTR

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Another car from the “list”. What an awesome machine. I don’t really know what the purpose of such a car is, as it’s expensive and heavy for a track car, with much too much performance for the real world. In my few short laps, I noted that the car had awesome torque and that the excellent chassis and traction allowed you to use it. An impressive car for someone who wants a really fast street car for occasional use on the track. To never hit the track with a car like this would simply be a waste.

Porsche 997 turbo

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I had driven the 996 turbo on a couple of occasions and the 997 just felt like a more modern version. What they say about these cars is true: it really is as easy to drive as a Golf. I can see why these cars are so popular. The interior is such a nice place to be and, like the GTR, the all-wheel-drive traction allows the driver to use the ridiculous power of the engine. A great car, but if I were spending my own money, I would be content with the much less expensive non-turbo 911.

Porsche 964

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This is, aesthetically speaking, my favourite 911. I finally got a chance to drive one in 2011 and I can’t say I was that impressed. Unlike newer 911’s, the only ones I had ever driven, you could really feel the weight of the engine out back. I love the narrow-bodied look of the car, but I can see why newer generations had a wider track. Newer 911’s feel much more stable in corners. I don’t think I would ever spend my own money for one of these, as they have such ridiculously high resale value. For that kind of money, I would buy an E30 M3 or an Ur-Quattro. Still, a neat car, maybe a future classic.

Hyundai Genesis Coupe

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One of the more affordable cars on the list. I enjoyed the drive, as I thought I would. The car felt right and did not do anything wrong. There is no way you will forget you are in a Hyundai and think it’s a BMW, but it is still a fun car with great styling. I guess resale value will determine if this car ever becomes a performance bargain.

2000 Mustang track car

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I got in a few laps in this track prepared 4.6 liter Mustang and I was pleasantly surprised with how docile it was. The rear felt very planted (it had independent rear suspension) and the over all experience, apart from the aluminium race seat, was really quite memorable.

Honourable Mention: Rob’s E36 M3

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This was not the first time I had driven an E36 M3, but I still thought I should mention it, because I had such a blast the last time I drove my friend Rob’s M3 at St-Eustache. The car was so confidence inspiring that I found I was able to drive it almost like my Civic, despite the rear-wheel-drive. I can see why many of my friends have switched to rear-drive track cars. Also, these cars, even unmodified, are already great fun to drive. Not a bad weekend/track car for 10 000 $.

There you go! I hope to add some fun cars to the list in 2012… Maybe an RX7 twin turbo or an AMG C63? We’ll see!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!

Alex and I have been enjoying our time off. We managed to get away to Ogunquit, Maine for a couple of days. Although it might seem strange to go to the beach in winter, I can assure you that it is still a very relaxing experience, even if you can't swim in the ocean. Also, there is no snow on the ground there. Here are a few pics:

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Alex on the beach at Ogunquit

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Me on one of the walking trails at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm

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Alex at Laudholm

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Alex in the M3 at one of our favourite spots to eat

Other than that, the holidays have been quite relaxing. I got off the couch and went for a run last weekend. I was clearly out of shape, but I'm glad I went out. I wore my trail shoes, as I was running on compacted snow on Mount Royal. I'll try to head out again this week.

The traction control failed today on the M3. I don't know if this is due to the extreme cold, or if it's just a question of the steering angle sensor needing to be reset. I hope it's nothing too complicated to fix. I am still waiting for my new rear top plates so I can change the springs and hopefully get rid of that stupid clunk in the rear suspension!

Cool cars spotted:
Porsche 997 Carrera S
Porsche 924 (early one)
Porsche 911 964
Porsche 996 turbo
Porsche Carrera (80's)
Porsche 911 SC
BMW M5 (E39)
BMW M5 V10
BMW 633 Csi
Alfa Romeo Spyder
Mazda RX7 convertible
Mazda RX7 GSL-SE
AMG CLS
Volvo P1800