Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Auto show highlights (1:1 scale)

My son and I did our annual bit of male bonding at the auto show this week. Maybe it’s just me, but boy are new cars ugly. BMW still makes good looking cars, having gotten rid of the Bangle Butt (the ugly trunk treatment of the 7-series a few years back), and Mercedes builds decent looking cars with a few odd wrinkles and minor mishaps here and there, but everything else looks like a cranky kid with a bad case of ADHD has carved random gouges, grooves, wrinkles and lumps into the sides of most cars. Grilles are especially ugly today; even Audi is starting to ruin their simple and classic trademark grille. Finally the rear of the new Civic Coupe is an abomination. Civic Coupes used to be beautiful examples of minimalist elegance. I will spare you a photo; if you should be so unlucky as to see one, and you probably will soon enough on a street near you, be sure you look away quickly to avoid fits of nausea or apoplexy. 
Best in show, in my view, was a ‘51 Lincoln Capri that had been very nicely tidied up: moderate top chop, lowered but not aggressively so, tastefully dechromed and decluttered, and with lovely period hubcaps and whitewalls. Luscious.

Next up would be the latest Bentley Continental which is still a muscular, coherent and understated shape but with lots of presence. Partly it's big, of course, but the shapes all work wonderfully and mimic the immediate post-war Continental very nicely. The colour of the particular specimen on exhibit was not to my liking, but nothing can ruin that gorgeous shape, except maybe loads of carbon add-on aero bits which thankfully were not in evidence this year.
Once again Volvo was absent; I still like the shape of my V60, plus the 2.5 litre turbo motor and AWD work wonders together in fresh snow. I believe the AWD system defaults to FWD, engaging the rear wheels only when it detects slip, but prodding the throttle in fresh snow will bring the back out smartly and can lead to a lovely throttle-controlled drift just like my '72 Chevelle used to, even with four new Michelin ice tires. (Being young and foolish at the time, I typically ran vintage Baldini tires on the Chevelle). The inner hooligan is still alive and well, thank you very much.
Finally Porsche showed a 919, stuck in a back corner behind an SUV. I say 'a' 919 as the windows were opaque; it may very well have been a mockup for show only. The aerodynamics of Le Mans cars have shifted drastically in the last decade, and perhaps I need to look for a decent model of something newer than my most recent one, the Audi R10 Diesel. Finding one with full mechanical detail, however, will not be easy.
Perhaps predictably, my son preferred the Pagani Huayra with full carbon fibre bodywork. My good friend Mr Google prices this at €1,198,000, or just shy of two million of our massively undervalued Canadian dollars. What a flashy bit of bling. If someone gave it to me, I'd sell it and get the Lincoln, which was parked right next to it.

Winter has finally come to this part of the country, so there may be time for some building at 1:24 or 1:25 scale. Stay tuned!

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