The Porsche Diary

911

While I love my Corvettes, Jags, Jeeps and more, I have never been much of a German car fan. I’ve owned some Porsche race cars, but these have little resemblance to the street version of the famed 911. I’ve also owned some mid-50s replica cars. All of them were fine, but I never really wanted a Porsche 911 street car – until the new 2013 991 body style came out. That changed everything. It’s lighter, faster, wider, more comfortable and improved significantly. So I decided it was time to add a 911 to my stable.

After hearing about the new 911, four months ago, I walked into my favorite car dealership and ordered the 911 Carrera S of my dreams. My main concern in designing the car was style and speed. My special order car came in at just under $140k including tax, title, dealer prep, freight, destination charge, and registration. What does $140k buy? One bad-ass machine!

You can see the pictures above. This is the day the car was delivered to the dealership. I literally happened to be there on other business when it arrived. I knew it had landed at Long Beach. But I was told it could take 10 days to make it to Vegas. After four months I figured – heck – what’s another 10 days. But much to my surprise it came in five days and I am excited.

My car is white with a red leather interior. Red is a stretch – I know – and polarizing – just the way I’d like it. But the pictures on the web site and in the brochure simply don’t do the car justice. You have to see it in person to understand the impact. It’s simply amazing. The red leather interior of this car may be the nicest I’ve seen and I’ve been in some very nice cars. That red leather cost me $5200 so believe me – I was nervous. But upon seeing it I fell in love. Ordering red leather also required the addition of the 14-way power/premium seat package which was another $2940. I just had to have the PASM Sport Suspension ($890) because this car WILL see track time. I also have to have the sport exhaust ($2950.) It was either upgrade the radio or pay for the best exhaust and I’d rather hear the engine roar any day! I went with the PDK transmission – another $4080. Skeptical? Read what Randy Pobst has to say about the PDK “The PDK is fine in Sport Plus here under what are frankly race conditions given the way I’m driving the car. No complaints. When I would make a mistake, a little hot and then go to the power after missing the apex, it would kick right down smoothly without disturbing the car’s weight distribution or balance better than I could. (http://bit.ly/QXpFRR)

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After getting this far down the list there was no way I was going to order a bespoke 911 without the Sport Chrono Package ($2370.) I am most excited about the launch control that is possible with this option.

Last but not least – the biggie – the Aerokit Cup at $5990. The car was 20 days into the order stage when the Porsche manager at the dealership called me to let me know of this new option. While Porsche has offered similar kits on other cars, it wasn’t originally available on the new 991 body style 911s. Thankfully the order was still in the “changeable” stage and we added it. I am so glad. It is sexy and adds significant performance. I’ll talk more about this and the other options as the diary progresses.

So I’ve paid for the car, done the paperwork, added the car to my insurance, and got the keys. Of course this does me no good because the car is on a lift. That’s because Porsche ran out of black wheels. I ordered black but got silver. They reduced the price accordingly, so that meant getting my guy Ron from Custom Calipers to powdercoat the wheels black. He is the best and because Ron is the best this will take more time than I’d prefer. The wheels MAY be done by Friday or Saturday, but at the latest Monday.

Then I will drive this baby for the first time. Off to my favorite detailer – Mobile Command Detail in Las Vegas. (These folks are the exclusive detailer at SEMA, Barrett-Jackson and more. They even detailed Air Force One!) MCD will detail the car, condition the leather, claybar the paint, put polish and sealant on it, etc. That will take a day. Next comes the tint, clear bra and finally the graphics package. Before I modify anything else, I’m going to run the car through its mandatory 500 mile break-in period. I’ll report along the way what the experience is like.

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk – Mini Review

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

I’ve owned seven Jeeps in my lifetime. They offer a mixture of off-road worthiness, utility, towing capacity, luxury and day-to-day comfort that simply cannot be beat for the money. Those of you who follow me know I have some exotic cars and you may be wondering – why not a “G-Wagon” or Land Rover? Well it’s simple. Every time I set out to buy a new Jeep I dutifully run over to the Mercedes Benz and Land Rover dealers and test drive their best. Then I end up buying the Jeep. Both Mercedes and Land Rover make excellent vehicles. But for various reasons I always end up back at Jeep.

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

This time it was simple. The Benz is very expensive and has a harsh ride. The Land Rover is a vehicle that is constantly improving but it’s not built for guys like me – i.e., horizontally-challenged (read that as fat) drivers. I don’t fit well in the driver’s cockpit of a Land Rover so it’s back to Jeep.

I had the first 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee to hit the west coast when they went through their re-design. It was a much improved vehicle over past years. But I did have some  problems with the car and while fixed under warranty, I chalked it up to first year quirks. That vehicle came to an unfortunate end (un-related to those problems.) So I went in search of a new one. Lucky for me – Jeep has had time to perfect the new design and when I saw the Trailhawk concept, I knew I’d be trying to buy one as soon they hit local dealerships.

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

I will take a time out here in the review to note that buying this Jeep was one of the more exasperating experiences of my car-buying life. I went to several dealerships in Nevada and California and in at least two of them, nobody even knew what a Trailhawk was. One guy even treated me like I was stupid. “Oh that’s just a concept car they’re never going to make,” he said. Ummm well have you looked at your own website? Another dealership was staffed by a guy who just hung up on me when I said I was interested in a Trailhawk. @Jeep on Twitter offered to help – but never did. Luckily, I found a sales manager at a local dealership in Las Vegas and all’s well that ends well. But I swear, I never had to work so hard to give up $50 grand in my life!

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Now on to the car itself. Jeep has taken an already great product and made it better for guys like me who actually take the vehicle off road. I got the Hemi (did you even have to ask?) and the rest of the Trailhawk’s list of goodies which make this one a real rocker.

Here are just some of the special features on the Trailhawk:

* Special graphics and badging.
* Stitched leather seats with Trailhawk logo. (Black with red stitching.)
* 18-inch Goodyear Silent Armor all-terrain tires with Kevlar reinforcement
* Solid steel rock rail body protection
* Quadra-Lift air suspension, with nearly 11 inches of ground clearance
* Selec-Terrain traction control system with five settings: Snow, Rock, Sand/Mud, Sport, and Auto
* Rear Electronic Limited-slip Differential (ELSD, V-8), which can transfer up to 100% of the engine’s torque to one rear wheel in order to keep the Jeep moving forward even in the most extreme situations
* Quadra-Track II or Quadra-Drive II (V-8) with a two-speed transfer case to help conquer the toughest obstacles

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

The Trailhawk has black headlamp buckets, and gray grille, rearview mirrors and wheels. All of which are not only cool looking, but designed to reduce reflections.

If you find yourself in a rocky or wet area, push a button and the Jeep raises to 10.6 inches. If you want to get low to the ground and let grandma out at the Walmart parking lot push another button and the Jeep lowers to a mere four-inch elevation.

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The tires are designed not to cut on rocks and the big, beefy steel rock rails look like they will more than do the job of protecting the body from damage off road.

The rear electronic limited-slip differential on my car, along with a two-speed transfer case allow this Jeep to tackle any environment I might try to drive in.

The vehicle performs on the open road much like the 2011 model I owned. There is one difference. It’s actually more luxurious in that it haw power lift gate, built-in GPS and better seats. But it is also a tad noisier. The Goodyear Silent Armor Kevlar tires have an aggressive off-road tread pattern that will hold you in place off the grid but which make more tire noise on the freeway.

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

I have plans to take this beast to Moab so I can make some photographs of areas I’ve avoided in the past for fear of getting stuck. Just playing around in the hills behind my house, the Jeep has been extremely capable on rough, rocky, dirt roads. As long as you know how to drive, the Jeep will get you there.

With dealer prep, tax, title, dealer freight, etc., I paid just shy of $50k. This is roughly $14k less expensive than the Range Rover Sport and $80K less than then Benz. And even if it weren’t less expensive, it would be my first choice.

If you want something that sets you apart from the crowd, that is luxurious and that can also get you out of town when the Zombie apocalypse hits, take a look at the Trailhawk.

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

(NOTE: As shown there are just a few mods. I added tint, clear bra to lights and mirrors, a new audio head end from Alpine with JL Audio Subwoofer and Focal speakers. I also painted the brake calipers red to match the tow hooks.)

I will do a separate shorter review of the interior in a few weeks – with photos.

Highly Recommended.

2012 Barrett-Jackson Orange County Auction – Mini Review

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Barrett-Jackson rather immodestly boasts that it holds “The world’s greatest car auctions.” It even trademarked that name. In my experience, if you truly are the greatest, you don’t need to tell everyone. For instance, I’ve never once had a truly beautiful woman walk up to me and say “I’m pretty.”

But be that as it may, one thing Barrett-Jackson does do well is make money. June 22-24, they held their third annual auction in Orange County at the Orange County Fair Grounds. And from the looks of things – lots of money changed hands and a great deal of it went to Barrett-Jackson.

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

The tens of thousands of people who attend the auction pay $13 admission just to look around. A coke will set you back $4. It cost $200 to register to bid (if you did it before May 23rd) and $250 at the door. There is a 10% on-site buyer’s premium. That means if you buy a car at auction for $20,000 you have to instantly hand over $22,000 to Barrett-Jackson. If you sell a car at auction, you have to pay an entry fee – usually $50 – $100 plus eight percent commission for a no-reserve car and 10% for a reserve car. Barrett-Jackson doesn’t sell many cars with a reserve. Only cars worth more than $250k are usually allowed that option – but sometimes very unusual cars worth less will be permitted to go on reserve.

So essentially, Barrett-Jackson is making between 18-20% on every car sold. Last year, BJ did $14 million at Orange County (Their largest auction is Scottsdale which typically generates $60 million.) Figure roughly $2.5 million as the take for BJ and their expenses are probably covered by the general admission, (fairgrounds rental was $325k last year and the walk-in gate covered that in spades.) vendor booth sales and bidder paddle sales. It’s quite a haul. I’m certainly in the wrong business and in my next life plan to own a car auction!

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

But it’s not all cash and greed at BJ. The first 2013 SRT Viper went to Barrett-Jackson in Orange County to benefit the Austin Hatcher Foundation. It’s a great charity dealing with pediatric cancer. The car sold for $300k. Toyota also donated a truck with the goal of raising money for the Emporia Community Foundation, a charity that benefits the citizens of Emporia, KS. It sold for $100,000.

After you get past all the money it’s really all about the cars. And while there seemed to be fewer relevant vendors this year, (I saw lots of people hawking mattresses and jewelry in the vendor pavilion) there were enough serious, car-related vendors to make the event worthwhile. Ford and GM each had large tents showing off their best stuff and those two tents could keep the average car nut busy for half a day.

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Ford was letting people drive around in their new 2013 Focus ST. This $25,000 marvel won’t even be on sale for a few months but you could see one and ride in one at the auction. I have to say it’s an extremely impressive car for the money and the tuners, auto-crossers and drifters will buy this car as fast as they can.

The coolest thing I saw in the GM booth was the Chevrolet TRU 140S concept. This little four-seater looks like a cross between an R8 and a Ferrari. I’m sure it’s going to be far too expensive to actually build but man I’d like to have one.

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

I can’t forget to mention that Chevy was also showing off the 60th anniversary edition Corvette with 427 engine. I was disappointed that the one on the floor was stripe delete because I wanted to see how that looked in person but I’ll know soon enough. I have one on my must-buy list.

Both Meguiar’s and Mothers had big tents on display full of their products and they were right across from each other on the midway – just like they were last year. They were selling stuff to be sure but you could learn a great deal from watching their demos. They had buffing classes and Mothers made their head chemist available to me for some questions about Mothers’ professional line. It was some of the most interesting stuff at the auction.

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

I wasn’t granted media access for this event so I didn’t take as many photos as I usually would. I was also very busy on the bidding floor but didn’t end up winning anything. But there were some cars I want to mention that came over the block. There were more than 400 cars listed in the catalog – a good showing to be sure. I saw a pretty 73 Cuda Coupe custom, a 36 Ford Phaeton convertible (in remarkable condition) and a lovely black 1961 Jaguar Mark II (I couldn’t fit in that car for a million dollars but it’s pretty.)

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Through my surrogate I did bid on this Econoline van and an old Lincoln. Didn’t win either but both had good potential and went for small money. I didn’t have budget this year for the big stuff since I recently added the 2012 Ford F150 (and then dropped tens of thousands customizing it) and the new 2012 Jaguar XKR convertible (which I also spent 10k customizing with new wheels, tires and brakes.) I’ve also stopped bidding on high-end cars at auctions because I took time to read the rules and regulations and once I realized that BJ (and some other auction companies) allow shill bidding – i.e., bidding by people not intending to buy the car but hoping to jack the price up, I stopped buying expensive cars this way. Either way it’s still fun to look.

This year’s auction for me was mostly about just enjoying the car culture. There’s plenty of it in Orange County. I saw some great small vendors selling hand-made memorabilia including purses, shirts and hats, paintings, etc. – all of it stuff I’d put in my man cave. I even bought a few shirts and hats to add to my collection.

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

The one thing that I have to admit is Barrett Jackson runs a fun event. I’m pretty sure it’s less expensive to buy valuable collector cars at a different venue, but I enjoy the experience of attending the auction none-the-less. It’s sort of like gambling in Vegas. You know you won’t win. In fact you know you’ll probably end up short. But you pull the handle on the slot machine anyway just in case.

I’ll be back at the Barrett-Jackson auction in September in Vegas since I live there. That show has an entirely different vibe. The Orange County show is held at a fairgrounds and feels more like a state fair event. The BJ auction in Vegas is held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. And while the same stuff is there for the most part, it just has a different feel. I’ll clue you in on that event this coming Fall.

Red Cars Attract The Most Bird Poop

Bright red cars attract more bird droppings than vehicles of any other colour, according research from Halfords.

A study recorded the frequency that birds left their mark on cars in five cities around the UK, and found crimson motors were targeted the most.

Green cars were found to suffer least, followed by silver, while white vehicles escaped more often than black in the analysis of 1,140 cars in Brighton, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester and Bristol over two consecutive days, to see whether colour made a difference to birds.

During the study, drivers were also asked how quickly they removed droppings from their cars. Only 17 per cent, one in six, said they wiped off deposits immediately when they saw them, 20 per cent said they took action “within a couple of days” while 55 per cent waited until the next car wash. The remaining 8 per cent never washed their cars or left it to others to organise.

As well as being unsightly, insurance industry figures show bird droppings on vehicles can be an expensive problem and estimate the damage caused by bird-poop-stained paintwork costs motorists ?57m a year in unnecessary repairs.

Halfords car cleaning expert David Howells said: “This research does have a serious side because the problem annoys drivers, causes damaged paintwork and affects the value of vehicles. To protect your bodywork from damage, droppings should be carefully cleaned off as soon as possible.”

Theories abound on motoring and social networking websites as to why birds are attracted to pooping on some cars more than others. A Lexus driver reckoned newly polished cars suffer because birds see a reflection of themselves. A Ford Focus owner agreed and said the darker the colour the deeper the reflection and the more violent the reaction. An Alfa Romeo owner said it depends where you park and a Mercedes driver said blue was the worst as it reminded birds of water.

Others thought birds saw red as a danger or birds went for similar colours to their own plumage, such as in seaside resorts seagulls went for white cars, while in cities pigeons go for grey.

The Halfords study found little difference between cities and the seaside in the colours that specific species of birds apparently aim for.

Researchers who compiled the results found 18 per cent of red cars were marked with droppings, blue 14 per cent, black 11 per cent, white 7 per cent, grey/silver 3 per cent, and green 1 per cent.

Leading car polish experts Autoglym said the damage to vehicle paintwork arose not from the acid or alkali in bird faeces, but from paint lacquer softening and expanding to form an uneven mould around the dropping which produced a dull patch. Grainier textures from seed eating birds produced the most blemishes, so pigeons are worse for motorists than seagulls.

Autoglym says that bird dropping damage can only be prevented by owners removing the poop as soon as possible.

The British Trust for Ornithology was more circumspect on the role of colour in the “drop zone” for birds. “We do know that birds can be attracted to certain colours during display but it [droppings on cars] is probably more to do with where you park; if you park where birds roost, then you are going to get more droppings on your vehicle,” said a spokesman.

Notes:

Halfords study carried out in June 2012 on 1,140 cars in Brighton, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester and Bristol.

Advice on removing bird deposits from vehicles

1. Remove at the earliest opportunity

2. A moist cloth should be used – Autoglym Bird Dropping Wipes are ideal – to gently lift the deposit from the vehicle surface.

3. If the deposit is dry or doesn’t lift easily, place a moist cloth over it for ten minutes to soften the deposit

4. Dispose of any cloth or wipe used to remove bird droppings immediately and carefully wash your hands, as bird lime can harbour diseases