Thursday, August 18, 2011

2011 McCall's Motorworks Revival at The Monterey Jet Center

20th McCalls Motorworks Revival at The Monterey Jet Center Photos

Another year, another Jet Center Party, another mind-blowing good time. For people who have never attended this Wednesday night party that unofficially kicks off Classic Car Week in Monterey - run, don't walk, to get tickets for next year's event. Although all of the events held around the peninsula during this week are worth attending, the McCall's shindig is truly unique.

The combination of cars, military aircraft, the latest corporate and personal jets, the food, the wine...and the people, is like no other. The cars alone are like a highlight reel of what's to come during the rest of the week. Plucked from Quail, the auctions and the private debut parties to be held over the ensuing few days, the cars are the heart of the party, but removing them would still land you a memorable night. But this is a car blog after all, so let's take a look at what this, the 20th installment of the McCall's event here in Monterey, wowed us with this year.

Entering the outer courtyard of the venue we were greeted by a matte black Lamborghini LP700-4 Aventador - the Murcielago replacement that picks up where the Reventon left off, and manages to drop a few hundred pounds and gain a few HP in its transformation into a more modern, sharp-edged supercar. While the overall dimensions are similar to the outgoing Murci, the cuts and creases remind you more of the LP560-4 Gallardo - which isn't a bad thing at all. It is stunning in person and promises to elevate Lamborghini's presence in this upper echelon of the hypercar segment with performance that will rival anything it is pitted against.

If matte black isn't your thing, there was also a reddish orange one inside the main event area, as well as a bare tub that proudly displayed the car's innards for closer examination. The materials used look just as exotic as the bodywork missing from this display vehicle and the components look like they were made by watchmakers. The Aventador duo were staring down a very yellow Hennessey Venom GT - the first one sold in the U.S. Standing beside the car was the man whose name appears on the rump of this stretched and stuffed Lotus Exige - John Hennessey. This LS9-ish powered monster offers nearly double the horse-count of the donor ZR1 and would probably feel right home on the grid at Le Mans.

A few feet away from the Venom was a carbon fiber track-only sculpture that is based on one of the most extraordinary new supercars of the last 10 years - the Pagani Zonda R. Where the new Aventador looks like carbon fiber origami with its prickly angles, the Zonda has a bioengineered organic feel to its form that makes it look like it was birthed from a living thing. And just like the Hennessey Venom GT, the man whose name is on the car was there to see people's reactions to his progeny - both the Zonda R and his new, U.S.-intended Huayra.

The Huayra was in the back of the main hangar, drawing us into a space that housed a few dozen more gems - but we lingered near the new Pagani for more than an hour before moving on. Part of the reason for that was the fact that Horacio Pagani himself was standing next to it, answering any question thrown his way, and happily opening any of the car's various panels with a flurry of unbuckling of straps and released latches. The simple truth is that Horacio has once again managed to create one of the most strikingly designed supercars in the world.

The components rival those of the Aventador that we marveled at, but elevate them into works of art. Truly, each of these mechanical ingredients looks fit to display in a museum. Pagani is one step ahead of us in this thinking, as several pieces were actually displayed in glass cases atop carbon fiber stands near the car. Gorgeous stuff that actually works as good as it looks - what a concept.

Our favorite bit had to be the key though. When Sig. Pagani placed a small silver model of the Huayra before us, we at first thought it a nifty keepsake for someone's desktop. Then the car was pulled apart revealing a USB jack. Ah, this must be a very clever - and expensive - press kit. When the other half of the miniature vehicle was inserted into a slot in the center stack of the Huayra, we were dumbfounded. This was no novelty item, it is the ignition key.

Near the Pagani stand sat a pair of Lotus Evora sportscars. One was a rather electric blue and the other was one of the company's race cars, done up in white with bare carbon accents. First shown and rcaed last year, the car appeared to have been refined somewhat for its sophomore season. Closer inspection revealed this to actually be the new GTE concept - a streetgoing version of the racecar. Think Scuderia or Porsche RS and you'll get the idea. Extremely handsome car and we hope that the large Lotus staff on hand for the debut took our drooling pleas to build it seriously.

Another car that we may have left a puddle of saliva in front of was a red Aston Martin with some less-restrained than usual lumps and bulges in its form. This was the new Zagato racecar and it looked brutal - handsome but brutal. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The car evokes memories of the mid-sixties dual-purpose racers from Aston's illustrious past - and conveniently, we only had to glance over our shoulder to see a few examples of that heritage. What a party!

The Ferrari display next to Aston Martin had a California, a matte white Italia that looked suspiciously like a possible Scuderia concept, and a shooting brake that s called the FF. Readers of this blog may note that these initials match my own. Coincidence? I think not, but the guard wouldn't buy it and didn't release the car to my care as I requested. It is often said that automotive journalists all have the same favorite car - a high performance station wagon with a stick shift. While that is certainly true of many of us, it is especially true of yours truly. A certain Hennessey-tuned Cadillac CTS-V wagon comes awfully close to depleting my willpower reserves when it comes to grand theft auto. This Ferrari takes things a step further, however, by being a 2-door. Che bella.

There was so much more to see and do at the party this year, but I'll have to catch you up later. It is late and I have an early date with a polo field. The Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance is tomorrow. For now, check out the gallery to see what we saw last night at The Jet Center in Monterey.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cars & Coffee – 8/6/11: Kenny from the Block

Yes, Ken Block was back at C&C today, with a whole film crew in tow, apparently shooting a series of video clips that will take them from the show to a meetup with a certain BMX racer also sponsored by Monster, to lunch, for a cruise down PCH and on to the DC store. A glance at the script had Ken using the SYNC system in his Ford, so it's quite possible we may be seeing some of this footage in a Ford ad too.

The car that Block brought this time wasn't his personal Focus RS street car, but rather his X Games-fresh Ford Fiesta RS WRC Rally, Gymkhana And RallyCross Car. The thing looks like a remote control car that's been scaled up. There is hardly anything inside it that won't contribute to gathering, managing or scrubbing speed. Block calls it his "hybrid function hoon vehicle."

According to a recent write-up on ZerCustoms, it is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo Ecoboost engine built by Pipo Moteur, which develops 600 hp and 665 lb-ft of torque. The engine sends its power to all four wheels via a Sadev 6-speed sequential transmission and an all-wheel-drive system developed by the same manufacturer. Ken's H.F.H.V. Fiesta weighs 2755 lbs and comes equipped with 355 mm Brembo WRC brake discs and 4-piston calipers, a Reiger WRC suspension system, a Cosworth engine management, a custom-built Garrett turbocharger with a 45 mm restrictor, and a dual-core intercooler.

This very special Fiesta rally car sits on 17-inch Speedline wheels with Pirelli P-Zero rallycross tires, when set for this type of racing, while Ken sits on a Recaro Ultima seat. When Ken uses his new Ford Fiesta WRC for Gymkhana, he has to adjust the dampers, spring rates and height, and put a set of 18-inch Fifteen52 tarmac wheels with Pirelli Trofeo tires. The Fiesta also gets shorter gear ratios
and an adjusted engine management map.

For stage rally, the new Fiesta WRC needs a new suspension and engine management setup, 15-inch O.Z. gravel wheels with P-Zero rally tires, 300 mm brake discs and real, functional headlights. They also have to move its radiators from the trunk to the front and to cover the side air vents.

It's really a clever design, and looks like it would be a hoot to drive. Honestly, letting Block take us for a ride would probably be even better.

While the Fiesta got the most attention, those who wandered beyond it got to see three different Lancias, a Fiat Multipla, a lightweight E-Type racer, a black Carrera GT, a Datsun 510 Wagon, Porsche 550 Spyder, some great looking BMW 3.0 CS coupes and a super widebody Camaro. Well, maybe that last ne was worth missing. Follow the link above to see the whole gallery.