December 9, 2012
L.A. Auto Show 2012
My coverage of the L.A. Auto Show is coming one week later than it did last year (due to time conflicts) so I'm a little bummed the internet is already flooded with photos from the event, but these are the ones taken through my lens (lowly as it may be in comparison to godly DSLR's). L.A. really impressed me this year, and I hope you'll be impressed too. Without further ado, the 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show!
I already knew I would visit Aston Martin first after learning the 2014 Vanquish would be there. Although nothing they bring from this point forward could possibly match or best the One-77 last year, I'm always excited about their cars. The Vanquish is just as beautiful and deadly in person as it appears in photos. Seeing it up close made me love it even more, I just wish they had brought a blue one instead.
Next the Vanquish, a Virage Dragon 88 Limited Edition from Q by Aston Martin. This specially made version was first unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show last year, with eighty-eight examples produced overall, available as DBS Volante, Virage Coupe, and V8 Vantage models exclusively for the Chinese market. The Dragon 88's sport special trim, dragon designs embroidered on the head rests, and 24-karat gold badges.
Also on display at Aston Martin was a replica of the DB5 Superleggera from the James Bond film Goldfinger, completel with bullet holes, ejector seat, and razor cutters on the wheels. I do wish I could've gotten a better angle on this, but the way it was positioned made things tricky. Appropriately, I heard Skyfall playing over the speakers as I looked at it. I still believe the DB5 is the most beautiful car in the world. It's only fitting it made its return to the silver screen in the latest Bond film.
A myriad of rare and weird cars were on display this year, including a few I've never heard of (and I do a LOT of research online all the time). This is the 1997 Callaway C7R. It was built for GT1 racing but ending up being a failure in competitions. The body is incredibly light, mostly made of carbon fibre, I believe it weighs around only 2000lbs.
Over at the Morgan cars was the infamous 3-Wheeler. I've always found it peculiar to use this design seriously on a car, because having only one wheel in the rear means very little grip back there. I imagine it's not very fun to go around corners too quickly in this thing, but man it looks cool. There'll be more interesting things like this later on.
I know L.A. is good place for seeing outrageous super cars, but I truly never suspected to see the Saleen S7 here. It's a car so rare and so elusive I had logged it as one I'd only see in pictures on the internet my entire life. I'm still in a bit of shock that I was able to see one, let alone two.
Heading into one of the two main showrooms, we started at Hyundai. In the past I really didn't think much of the brand. Their cars seemed to be terrible, but these days, they've really come up. The Veloster Turbo actually impresses me both with its looks and its performance. I had the opportunity to experience it with a test drive and it surprised really me! It's got the get up and go, but it's not overly aggressive, and the ride is smooth. I'd take one.
Across the way, Jaguar's stunning new F-type. It's based off the C-X16 concept they had last year, and it's easy to see that. The booth professional speaking about the car had made some cheesy comments about the styling akin to a "cat ready to pounce" but she wasn't lying. I think Jaguar did an excellent job, even though I'm still peeved at how similar Jags look to Aston Martins (IAN CALLUM HOW COULD YOU??).
Range Rover's display was fairly small, but I did find them to be of interest. The new cars they're producing look very futuristic, I admire their ability to create vehicles of this class that are both functional and stylish. I also heard it would "rain" from time to time over this car, but I didn't get to see it.
Plainly and simply, I LOVE the Evoque. While a car this size would not be my first choice, this would definitely be my pick if I were to get something of this nature. To me it just oozes cool. Sure it was designed by Victoria Beckham, but I think she did alright.
To be honest, I don't care much for Cadillacs, save for this one: the CTS-V. I find it to be the most appealing car in their lineup. A marriage of style and performance that turns heads everywhere it goes.
The remodeled Mazda6 has finally been unveiled after months of anticipation and I say it's a success. Styling cues from the previous generation are still visible but the car now has more aggressive lines and front fascia. But it's not just the outside that got an upgrade, the new 6 will be available as both a 2.5L and 3.7L with 170hp and 272hp respectively.
A few weeks ago when I attended the SF Auto Show, I was disappointed that I didn't get even one decent shot of the BRZ. This weekend, I got what I wanted. Originally I favored the FR-S ever so slightly over the BRZ for the aesthetic differences, but now if I had to choose between them, I couldn't.
Both have the D-45 boxer engine, both are RWD, the only thing that really sets them apart from each other is the slight alterations to the suspension. While some may debate fiercely that one version is superior, I think either one is an excellent choice. And if you can manage, get both!
Concept cars at L.A. are the most innovative creations I see in person all year, and I was not disappointed. Toyota's NS4 concept really caught my eye. While initially this looks to be nothing more than a glorified Prius from the future, I learned some fascinating things about it from the presenter. It has a special hydrophobic paint that repels water, it's a plug-in hybrid, and it's supposed to have an intelligent interface that "connects the driver more with the car."
Even more interesting looking than the NS4, was the Fun-vii concept. It's a high-tech interactive car that is designed to drive itself and keep passengers entertained at the same time. The Fun-vii has a large graphic display for playing video games, movies, music, and an automated assistant who helps guide you through the features and navigation of the vehicle. Driverless cars are a very cool idea, but as an enthusiast I wonder if this is really the answer?
Chevy had two concepts as well, but of them, I preferred this one. The 140S has a 1.4L inline four turbo with eAssist. It's equipped with wifi and smartphone integration that actually lets you access the content of your phone from a touchscreen display. I love the tech stuff but what I like best about this concept is the look, it's very different from Chevy cars on the road. It looks like a mini supercar! Hopefully they pursue this.
Bentley was located in an odd place this year with a smaller setup than before, but they didn't need to bring much with this on display: the Continental GT3. Typically you think of Bentleys has a gentleman's car, one of elegance and poise you see casually tooling about in affluent areas. But on the flip side of the Continental is a snarling beast of a race car that can take whatever punishment you dish out. The GT3 is being developed for pro-level use with trials planned for next year. If its looks are any indication, it should perform well.
The second Continental was a GT Speed, a newly released version of the Continental that's generated a bit of buzz on its own. A 6.0L W12 engine with 616 furious horses hides under the hood, but on the outside it's one of the classiest cars money can buy. Bentley does performance cars LIKE A SIR.
Honda has been sitting on the NSX concept for a little while now, but it's still a topic of discussion in the automotive community. Much debate goes on about the design, since visually the resemblance to the original car is lacking. Then there's the problem with it looking like an Audi R8 and a Lamborghini Gallardo had a baby. Despite all the criticism though, it is stunning.
Since I started hanging out with my friend Bernie, I've fallen head over heels for the G's. He had mentioned the new IPL (Infiniti Performance Line) version to me and now that I've finally had a look at it, it's pretty sweet. The IPL is Infinit's new take on the combination of luxury and performance.
Fisker had a few Karmas, but I was drawn to this one for its beautiful shade of deep red. I was struck by the fact it was actually unlocked! I should've taken a moment to sit inside it, but oh well. I'd rather be on the outside anyway, so I can see those gorgeous body lines. I'm glad manufacturers finally understand that electric cars can be stylish.
Smart Cars, silly looking as they are, seem to be getting all manner of crazy customizations. This one here is the Smart For Jeremy, a creation born from the collaboration of Smart & designer Jeremy Scott. When you think of how high fashion designers have a thing for the odd and eye-catching, it actually makes a bit of sense. The wings are my favorite part.
Mercedes Benz has now created a Black Series version of the SLS AMG. The car has simultaneously beefed up under the hood but trimmed down for total weight. The Black produces 622hp with its 6.2L naturally aspirated V8. Weight has dropped from 3571lbs to 3417lbs. It will become available next summer. After this, I'm not sure how much more insane they can get with any Black Series vehicle to follow.
BMW is still hard at work on their Efficient Dynamics/Project-i program, but in the mean time they've chopped to top off of the i8, creating a Spyder version. We were told to expect the i8 this year, but I haven't heard anything that has confirmed it.
The Dodge Viper is back, and with a vengeance. All the muscles have been upgraded, but none quite like the Viper. An 8.4L V10 overhead valve engine gives this snake its bite, and it proves deadly. Here's to hoping the new Corvette will be an answer to it.
Also at Dodge, a black and purple Challeneger by Mopar and comedian Jeff Dunham. Yes you read that correctly. Its name is UltraViolet, it's fitted with a 452 crate engine with 515 horsepower, sits on 22in HRE wheels and has a custom aluminum grill. I'm not really sure how a comedian gets into making cars like this but I can go with it!
Nissan's DeltaWing has always been a peculiar thing. It has one of the most oddly-shaped racing bodies to ever exist. It was rejected by the IndyCar series, and despite being allowed to enter into Le Mans, did not finish. Howeverthe DeltaWing is expected to return to Le Mans next year. I'd like to see how far they can go with this outlandish design.
Bet you already know this car: Ken Block's Ford Fiesta built for Gymkhana. It's become an internet sensation sliding through insane obstacle courses and tearing up the streets of San Francisco. It's the definition of small but mighty, it packs a whopping 650hp and a 0-60 time of just 1.8 seconds! It was super cool to see it, too bad I didn't get to meet Ken himself.
Last year I didn't get to see any of the Porsche cars because I was unaware they had been hidden away in a secret little room all on their own. Inside Porsche's exclusive room sat this beautiful '64 904 Carrera GTS. My biggest loss of interest in Porsche was the fact the cars look very similar and boring to me. But this is far from it. If Porsche could go back to styling similar to this, they could produce some gorgeous new cars.
However, I will give them some credit, after several years of very few alterations, they're finally changing up the design ( a little anyway). But the results are spectacular. The new Cayman is proof of that.
Say what you will about the bulbous backend of the Panamera, I think it's rather lovely. In fact, it's been selling better than expected. Apparently quite a few folks out there enjoy the german whale.
The last place I visited was the Aftermarket Alley. Immediately after walking in, I was greeted by an orange Lamborghini Aventador with doors and hood wide open. This was my very first time seeing one, and I have to say, it was incredible. Lambos have always been aggressive, but the Aventador is the meanest looking bull ever produced. The only thing I don't like about it is the sorry excuse for a trunk, it might as well not have one at all unless every owner is going to convert it into a speaker system.
Any car can be given the aftermarket treatment, regardless of the price tag. My only thing is, I think cars like the Rolls Royce Ghost should be kept classy. And this, was classy.
But some people think differently. This Benz may have matte purple paint, but the shade is still quite loud, and the orange accents are really not helping in my opinion. This is too busy.
Continuing through the Alley, I stopped by the booth for Exotics Racing to have a look at the Gallardo. I love the idea of a big red bow on top of a pretty car, too bad it's not going to fit under a tree! On my list of "Awesome Car Things to Do Before I Die" is going a few rounds in some supercars at their location in Vegas ($200 for five laps in the car of your choosing, do the math if you want to try everything they have lol). I entered to win a free trip there, hope I get picked, otherwise that will have to wait.
Around the corner I found two more Aventadors, this one in matte pearl white and the other in matte black that is not pictured (due to poor quality of its individual photo). In fact, the last few cars I have to share are all white. Not sure what the deal is with that, but they all look great to me.
Range Rovers are supposed to be stylish but still have offroad capabilities when you want or need them. This one however, clearly does not. Can't say I've ever seen one this low. Does it work?
Another Panamera, and this one's pretty beefy. Usually I prefer things to be kept simple when it comes the visual aspects of a car, but I dig this. My favorite things about this Panamera have to be the arches over the wheels and the lip of the bumper. It creates a really nice line along the car's length. I can do without the carbon fiber bits, but they're okay.
Last but most certainly not least, an Aston Martin V12 Vantage. You likely knew this would be my favorite car in the alley by default (for being an Aston). It's so gorgeous it leaves me speechless. I literally cannot think of the proper words to describe my adoration. In the event I truly do get my own Aston one day, this is probably how I would do it.
That's it for the L.A. Auto Show, hope you enjoyed it, I know I did ;P