Thursday, October 29, 2009

daydreaming part II

A little daydreaming never hurts anybody, so here goes. (again!)
Part I found here written in 2005.

Two situations (under Japan's car market prices)
First, a budget of around 10 million yen or, 100k USD, choose one car. criteria- not completely berserk, within reason, expensive sports car.
Second, a somewhat sustainable 6-car garage.

Situation 1

A slightly used Audi R8 V8 (shame for this kind of money you can only get a used one in Japan)

Why not V10? love the Lambo engine too but sometimes more is less, considerably more expensive
Why R8? Audi since taking over Lamborghini has become even more desirable. Can't beat German engineering + Italian "soul". R8 is arguably the best looking mid-engine halo status new production super car in these 5 years. relatively affordable.
How about other Audis? TT RS? not liking the initial TT philosophy. Why not have an all-out built from scratch super car.


A mint condition Honda NSX-R (or R GT if such a thing is even in the wild)

It costs that much? Yes, and more.
What about Nissan GTR? Performance-wise, yes it's got no competitors in this price range. Even if you pay 2x the price, there is hardly anything that can hold a light to it. However I'm not on a mission. I'm not aiming for the record track time. There is something within the NSX the Nissan can never touch.
Err... Toyota 2000GT? If I can find one, sure.


A 2-year-old Porsche 911 GT3 (or GT3RS, again shame about the price)

There are many 911s, right? But there is only one that doesn't compromise in any way. Not saying the GT2 or Turbo isn't exciting.
A track day car? Yes sir/ma'am
Lotus 2-Eleven, no? Love Lotus but 1 track day car = GT3, 2 would be GT3 + a Lotus

Situation 2

1 Honda S2000 (daily driver for me, checked, ¥4m)
2 Honda Fit (econobox for wife, checked, ¥1.5m)
3 Porsche Cayman ("affordable" exotic for me, ¥7m)
4 Suzuki Swift Sport (funnest small car in Japan, great price, for me, ¥1.5m)
5 any Land Rover (Luxury off-roader for wife, her cup of tea, ¥6m)
6 (for me and family, last vehicle reserved for whatever catches the eyes, changes every once a year or two, for example, Corvette Z06, Fiat Panda 100hp, Mazda Roadster, Daihatsu Copen, Mini, Caterham, Alfa Romeo Mito, Brera, VW Golf GTI, etc)

Garage total = about ¥22m (0r 15m used)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Is Japan's car industry listening?

Yep, another car-related post.

For years now, Toyota has made nothing but cars that resemble household appliances. The last fun car was the MRS (MR2 Spyder for foreign markets) that ended production about 3 years ago. The one before that, the infamous Supra, was killed off half a decade before that. Go browse Toyota's website. They currently make more that 60 varieties of vehicles in this domestic market, among them none- not a shred of automotive passion. A plain Jane bore-you-to-death soulless line up. Their cars are made to sell and last. You got to give them that.

Honda, the ambassador of Japan's motoring and auto racing, couldn't continue its rear wheel drive cars. One after another bites the dust, NSX, S2000. And as if that's not bad enough, their successors were put down before they had any chance of a public prototype. Honda has been accused by car enthusiasts worldwide of pulling a "Toyota", the worst of auto industry trend-crime known to mankind.

While these two particular manufacturers do not represent the entire industry, they are however, trend-setting production leaders. Dare I say the culture starts here.

Yes yes Nissan is where we look up to now, albeit a little reluctantly. Give us what the older GT-Rs and Fairlady Zs once were, true to the enthusiasts. You now make engineering marvels, no more, no less.

Mazda Roadsters (MX-5 elsewhere) are fun although they need to go back to being light. RX-8 was a mistake. Mazda wanted it to be everything to everybody. Maybe we can sympathize with the decision due to the bitter end of RX-7.

And then we have Subaru, Mitsubishi doing basically the same thing for the last 20 years. Good stuff but never something that makes you want to go out and drive just for the heck of it in the middle of the night or before the first cup of morning java. (Their rally departments on the other hand are more than delightful of course.)

Needless to say that we no longer have strong economies worldwide nor can we anymore afford to ignore the environment. But having at least one exciting vehicle does more than magic for an auto brand's image, or any brand for that matter - "brand loyalty". As far as the somewhat evil business world goes, you need people to follow you because they aspire to your business philosophy, because they share your passion. We are not talking about cheaper by the dozen purchases here. When a business wants to cling on to a generation of customers, they need to focus on their young. And right there neither Toyota nor Honda are going towards that direction.

But hold on, something miraculous is happening right this moment. Have a glance at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show floor.

Toyota brings out
the big gun (Lexus LFA, ready for porduction, a through and through super car)

and a brand new hachiroku (FT-86 concept, near production, an affordable FR)

Two heartfelt rear wheel drive sports cars from Toyota, what has the world come to? Is this the year 1973?

On the other hand, Honda's CR-Z is ready for production for 2011. A sports hybrid with a proper 6-speed gearbox. A while ago Honda CEO proclaimed something along the line that they probably won't produce rear wheel drive cars anymore. I hope he's wrong or gets replaced. With that said they do have the best handling front wheel drives out there. Let's see the new CR-Z brings some excitement back to the mundane lineup. Last words, if the future of sporty motoring for Japan is going the way where LF-A, FT86, and CR-Z are headed, we'll do alright. There is something for everybody. It's gonna be okay.

CR-Z interior

Friday, October 02, 2009

"Talking to God..."

found this gem on
‘and how many other species are there already out there ahead of us?’

‘surprisingly few. Less than fourteen million’



‘And how many at or about our level?’

‘currently a little over 4 ½ billion’

‘so our significance in the universe at present is roughly equivalent to the significance of the average Joe here on planet Earth in his relation to the human race?’

‘a little less. Level One, the level your species has reached, begins with the invention of the flying machine. I define the next level in terms your Sci Fi Author Isaac Asimov has already grasped. It is reached when you achieve control of your own primary – the Sun. What Asimov calls a Type I technology. Humanity is only just into the flying machine phase, so as you can imagine, on that scale, the human race is somewhat near the bottom of the level one pack’

‘and all these species are your children?’

‘I like to think of them that way’

‘and the point?’

‘at its simplest, "Life Must Go On". My personal motivation is the desire for conversation. Once you’ve achieved my level, you cease to be billions of separate entities and become one ecstatic whole. A single entity that cannot die, however advanced, or perhaps, more accurately, because it is so advanced, will get lonely and even a trifle bored! I seem to be the first. I do not intend to be the last’

‘so you created a Universe which is potentially capable of producing another god like yourself?’

‘The full benefit will be temporary, but like most orgasms, worth it.’

‘this being the moment when our new god merges with you and we become one again?’

‘don’t play it down, that’s the ecstatic vision driving us all, me included – and when it happens the ecstasy lasts several times longer than this universe has already existed. Believe me, it really is worth the effort.’

‘Yes, I think I can see the attractions of a hundred billion year long orgasm’

‘and humans haven’t even begun to know how to really enjoy the orgasms they are already capable of. Wait till you master that simple art!’

‘So it's all about sex is it?’

‘Ecstasy is merely a reward for procreating, it is what makes you want to do it. This is necessary, initially, to promote biological evolution. However once you’ve completed that stage and no longer require procreation, you will learn that ecstasy can be infinitely more intense than anything offered by sex’

‘Sounds good to me!'

'How direct is your involvement in all this? Did you just light the fuse which set off the big bang and stand back and watch? Or did you have to plant the seeds on appropriately fertile planets?’

‘The seeds evolved in deep space, purely as a result of the operations of the laws of physics and chemistry which your scientists have begun to attain a reasonable grasp of. Yes I triggered the bang and essentially became dormant for nearly 5 billion years. That’s how long it took the first lifeforms to emerge. That places them some 8 billion years ahead of you. The first intelligent species are now 4.3 billion years ahead of you. Really quite advanced. I can have deeply meaningful conversations with them. And usually do. In fact I am as we speak’