Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cars & Coffee – 3/12/11

If you've ever wondered what the payoff is in getting to Cars & Coffee at oh-dark-thirty, this morning was a perfect demonstration. Sneaking in under the cover of darkness, the McLaren MP4-12C showed up with a handful of McLaren reps attending to it and an additional rolling chassis that perfectly shows off the new supercar's advanced lightweight construction. While the car has been criticized a bit for its somewhat safe and uninspiring styling, nobody can argue with its stats.

This 592-hp missile has been burning up the track, posting 0-60 and quarter mile times within spitting distance of its legendary ancestor, the F1. The new Macca's closest competitors on paper are probably the Ferrari 458 Italia and Lamborghini LP570-4 Superleggera, and although those cars seem to cut a more dashing figure, the Brit cuts and dashes better than either and takes no prisoners on the track.

Only a few cars can break into the 10s in the quarter mile straight off the showroom floor, and this is one of them. The Porsche 911 Turbo S, Bugatti Veyron and – on a good day – the 2012 Nissan GT-R are the others. While the MP4-12C's top speed of 205 mph won't rival the Veyron's insane 250-plus figure, the car's starting price of $231,400 is roughly a tenth of the big Bug's. It's also right in the same ballpark as its two aforementioned Italian rivals.

So for similar money, a buyer could have either of the more established – and arguably sexier – Italians and give up a bit of performance, or opt for this new super sportscar from a well-known racing name that is just getting into the whole production car game, and clean their clocks at the next track day. We say why not just get one of each.

There were a few other cars at the show today too. I think. I know I saw a Saleen S7 TT that must belong to Anakin Skywalker's alter ego, a Hennessey Cadillac CTS-V Wagon that is internet famous for matching a Porsche Turbo in the quarter mile, a sexy new yellow Lotus Evora and one of the 500 "Prima Edizione" Fiat 500 raceabaouts, but other than that...

Oh, I also remember a Lusso, Triumph, Beetle, pit bull, BMW, Porsche, Ferrari, Lotus 7, another BMW, another Porsche, another BMW...and a few others. The new Ferrari GTO still impresses mightily and I never tire of the wonderfully eclectic mix of participants that ranges from an Ariel Atom to an MG TC, from a Dino to a lead sled, from a Bentley to a Sunny. One of the best sleepers was the old Mercury wagon with the NASCAR rims and lumpy idle that tells us Cale Yarborough's shop might be missing an engine.

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