The Truth About Cars » v12 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 18 Jul 2014 10:00:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » v12 Derek And Doug’s Fantastic Crapwagons: 12 Cylinders, One Emptied Bank Account Mon, 08 Jul 2013 12:15:34 +0000 W12-Car-Engines

Derek writes:

I believe that anyone who is worth their salt should drive a V12 once before they die.

Actually, I didn’t write that. But that line was actually spoken (spake?) by David E. Davis, a man who we know never let reality stand in the way of a carefully constructed image. I tend to give the opposite advice when it comes to V12s. Those who aren’t fortunate enough to return their V12 powered automobiles after a 12 month long-term loan (or, a week) must live by the maxim “if you can’t afford it new, you can’t afford it used”. This is advice I frequently dole out when people ask me about buying a BMW 850i, since the words “two Inline 6s joined at the hip” somehow isn’t sufficiently scary.

This week’s instalment of “Crapwagons” may be the most wretched in terms of reliability, but also the most compelling way to get a dopamine high from throwing good money after bad.

First up is the legendary BMW 850i, with a very rare 6-speed manual. Only 60,000 km, no winters and apparently, a very rare color combination. It costs as much as a new Hyundai Accent, and you can probably expect to incur monthly fuel bills equivalent to the Hyundai’s monthly note as well.

But if we’re going to go down the V12 rabbit hole, we might as well go out in a blaze of financially irresponsible glory. For less than $15,000, you can own perhaps the Uber-crapwagon of the last decade, a W12 Phaeton. I can say without a hint of irony that I would do terrible things to own this car – likely because running it would require a side foray into prostitution. The amount of motors and solenoids and other finnicky componentry makes a Citroen SM look hearty and robust by comparison. Still, I don’t think there is a more elegant and understated luxury car, just as long as you don’t mind people asking you what year your Passat is.

Doug writes:

Although I often complain about Atlanta car culture, we apparently love our V12s. I discovered this when I set my search parameters to “12 Cylinders” and “Within 200 miles” and returned 164 cars. So I instituted a price cap – $30,000 – and still ended up with 47 listings. This may say more about monumental V12 depreciation than it does Atlanta car culture.

Anyway: with the price cap now at $25,000 (still 39 cars), I found it easy to pick some rather dubious 12-cylinder models in my area. Here goes:

This one is a pure curiosity. Yes, it would be impossible to run this segment without an XJS V12. But how about a 16,500-mile XJS V12? Offered by a Hyundai dealership? For $20,000? That’s precisely what we have here, along with 40 pictures and a surprisingly thorough description of the car that includes the words “John Egan.” Not what you’d expect from a dealer whose primary business involves helping customers decide between a $14,000 Accent and a full-year transit pass.

Here’s a 2003 S600 that I chose almost entirely because it’s painted Rental Car Blue Metallic. According to the seller, it’s “as luxurious as a Rolls-Royce,” “safer than a Volvo,” and “still faster than a Ferrari.” Unfortunately, he forgot “as expensive to run as Mozambique.” Still: at $16,000, there is absolutely no way to go wrong in this one, provided you have a close friend who buys it and gives you rides.

Finally, we have a 1998 CL600 located at a business entitled “Zam’s Used Cars.” My guess: Zam bought this at auction, drove it for a few weeks, then realized that a turn signal bulb costs the same as a 2001 Jetta. Now he’s trying to pass along the chrome-wheeled ticking time bomb to you for a mere $7,900. Never mind the fact that the Carfax clearly shows the odometer’s been rolled back. And it recently had an accident. And those wheels.

Ladies and gentlemen: there are many 12-cylinder used cars out there, especially if you live in Atlanta. But there are also many eight-cylinder cars, and six-cylinder cars, and five-cylinder cars. Buy one of those instead.

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Bentley To Kill The 6.75L V8 Thu, 16 Aug 2012 18:21:47 +0000

Bentley is set to kill off its iconic 6.75L turbocharged V8 – and this time it’s for good.

Back around the turn of the millenium, Bentley debuted their new Arnage with a BMW-derived V8 engine. That didn’t go over well with the Bentley faithful, forcing the company to brand it as the “Green Label”, and then re-introduce the six-and-three-quarters V8 as the “Red Label”, the Bentley of choice for true pimps and scoundrels.

Going forward, Bentley will be pushed towards 12-cylinder engines, and having a V8 flagship doesn’t quite fit with that message. Volkswagen can push whatever message they want as far as we’re concerned; the one true Bentley is the one pictured above.

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QOTD: Is The V12 Really Dead? Wed, 08 Aug 2012 15:34:01 +0000 Click here to view the embedded video.

“The V12 engine is a thing of the past. The engine belongs in a museum.”

Those are the words of Antony Sheriff, managing director of McLaren, who spoke to a Dutch publication regarding the future of its supercars. The new Mclaren MP4-12C, with its compact, turbocharged V8, is an impressive machine, but Sheriff may be exaggerating the demise of exotic, multi-cylindered engines.

In a sense, Sheriff is right; the glory days of the V12 are over. There will likely never again be an era where a V12 is casually stuck under the hood of, say, a Jaguar XJ. If anything, we are in a period of downsizing where something with half the number of cylinders is the more likely option.

That’s not to say that the V12 will go the way of the straight-8 or other obscure, exotic engines; it’s far too entrenched in the landscape of the automotive world to ever fade away. Can you really imagine something like a Pagani or a front-engined Ferrari without a V12?

In the 1970′s, the “quartz revolution” came and nearly wiped out mechanical watches. These little circuit-board time pieces were cheaper, more accurate, never needed cleaning or servicing. In every objective sense, they were superior. A mechanical movement was thought to be an arcane bit of craftsmanship destined for the dustbin of human achievement. Yet they endured, carrying on slowly, to the point where a few decades later, a fairly small but dedicated market is thriving for them, in high-end timepieces that most people give zero consideration to, whether they cost $100 or $100,000.

I think this is what will ultimately happen to the V10s, V12s and perhaps, even V8s. Most people will have no use for them. They will be regarded as symbols of profligacy and frivolity. But they will endure and be cherished by a select few.

It’s either that or a hologram…

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Eco-Friendly Supercars: A Fool’s Errand? Fri, 03 Aug 2012 16:54:51 +0000

In the eternal quest to adhere to “sustainability”, Lamborghini will apparently be fitting the Aventador with a start-stop system and cylinder deactivation. Am I the only one that finds the recent trend of eco-friendly supercars ridiculous?

We can argue over their relevance in today’s wider world, what direction they should take (lightweight and pure, like a McLaren F1 or obese but rapidmissiles like the Bugatti Veyr0n) and what even qualifies as a supercar when there are record numbers of Ferraris and Gallardos being built, to the point where they no longer turn heads in major urban centers.

One thing we can agree on is that the supercar, in all its forms, is the absolute zenith of what the automobile can achieve in terms of performance and technological achievement. That doesn’t mean that they can’t strive for greater efficiency. I see no negative effect on making cars more efficient. But it must be done in the right way, rather than in a manner that panders to the pseudo-religious zeitgeist that demands we be “green” without ever really explaining why, beyond a bunch of theoretical doomsday scenarios that would send us back to pre-Industrial agrarian communities (which is a positive development for some hairshirt green types…but that’s another topic). That path is why we have all kinds of technological solutions which impose significant weight penalties while returning minimal gains in fuel consumption and emissions reduction.

Nowadays, you can’t attend a Porsche product demonstration without hearing their spiel about a committment to the environment and the planet. It’s so transparently contrived and disingenuous that it’s almost nauseating. My driving partner and I sat through it at the 2013 Porsche Boxster launch, and after a minute of dealing with the start-stop system, we promptly hit the “Off” button. On the other end of the spectrum, we have silly systems like GM’s eAssist, which are pseudo-hybrid systems that don’t give the car a competitive advantage in terms of “MPGs”, but take up weight and space.

The one true path to creating a “greener” supercar – or any car – is light weight. There is no way around it. Yes, cars have become heavier, and despite what the auto-dork purist crowd will tell you, it’s not all bad; you probably won’t be horribly mutilated or killed in an impact anymore, and they’re quite nice places to be, what with satellite radio and heated  and cooled seats (which are apparently more efficient than using the climate control system) – but something has to give.

Imagine if the next Acura NSX didn’t have a hybrid system; just an Earth Dreams V6, making 350 horsepower (say we sacrifice some efficiency in the name of power) but the car was radically light weight – kind of like what Honda did last time around. Yes, the NSX wasn’t terrible fuel-efficient by our standards, but the powertrain and the mindset behind it, is now 20+ years old. What could be done with current knowledge in the fields of engines, aerodynamics and lightweight construction, minus the heavy battery packs and hybrid motors?

The NSX is a supercar that can theoretically be driven every single day. The Aventador isn’t. Focusing on a efficiency for a car that will be used sparingly seems like a foolish misallocation of brainpower and resources. Even if it does get 11 mpg around town (likely less with all the revving at stoplights and burst of acceleration the cretin owners are likely to engage in), it’s on the road for perhaps a couple of hours at a time, once or twice a month. The net gain in carbon emissions is inconsequential. The V12 engine is an endangered species, and anyone looking for that carnal blast of noise would be let down by the pedestrian drone of a V6 once the cylinder-deactivation system kicks in.

This is why the Lexus LFA is so admirable. There is a contingent that cannot look past the numbers, and can only type out a spastic admonishment that “(Insert supercar here, or a Nissan GTR) would smoke this thing”. The accomplishment at hand is lost on them, as well as those who rightfully appreciate the amazing, hand-crafted V10 and gorgeous styling. The LFA mostly exists as a test bed for carbon fiber vehicle construction, a way to justify the costs of all of this R&D in the guise of a halo car marketing exercise for Toyota and Lexus.

Subsequent breakthroughs will allow us to have our cake and eat it too; all the safety and supplemental comforts that we are used to, with no drop-off in performance and efficiency. It is expensive, difficult and time-consuming, which is why most car companies are unable to explore radical solutions for reducing mass at this time. And lest we forget how pleasing it is to drive something free of unnecessary mass, light on its feet, with sharp reflexes and the unparalleled feeling of not knowing where you end and the car begins.

The likelihood is that we’ll continue to see more of these measures, like start-stop systems and hybrid drivetrains in the dream machines of tomorrow. In some cases, like the Porsche 918 and the Acura NSX, they do exist in the name of pushing the performance envelope. In the case of the Aventador, they are a naked PR move to appease a contingent of people who are not going to be Aventador customers, and often have a reflexive distaste for “the rich”, without ever realizing that they too are human beings, with insecurities and regrets and a hankering for escapism through consumption. Which is what compels them to buy the Aventador in the first place.

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Ferrari Details New Hybrid V12 For Future Flagship Tue, 24 Apr 2012 16:07:17 +0000

Ferrari’s next flagship will have *gasp* a hybrid system mated to its usual V12/7-speed dual clutch gearbox.

The system, known as HY-KERS, will have two electric motors in place. A front mounted motor controls the ancillary systems like power steering, air-conditioning and other power-sapping devices. A rear-mounted motor helps add some juice to the already potent gasoline powered V12.

Regenerative braking will help power the lithium-ion battery pack mounted low in the car, behind the center line. A dual clutch gearbox will help put the power to the ground, and the electric motor should provide instant torque and sub-3 second sprints to 60 mph. The combined 800 horsepower from the 7.0L V12 as well as the electric motor should add up to over 900 horsepower – and an absurd price tag.

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Junkyard Find: 1987 Jaguar XJ-S Mon, 09 Apr 2012 11:49:26 +0000 Wait, straight, unrusted XJ-Ss get crushed? Yes, indeed, I see solid examples of Jaguar’s V12 statusmobile at self-service junkyards all the time. This car listed at $39,700 when new (nearly 80 grand in 2012 dollars), but couldn’t even fetch above scrap value at an auction today.
That’s why we see quite a few XJ-Ss in LeMons racing, and why we always believe the car was built under the required $500 budget.
The idea of getting a cheap XJ-S runner and driving in V12 luxury for a while always has great appeal, but dealing with any mechanical problem tends to be expensive, time-consuming, or both.
So, it’s 1987. You can get a base 911 coupe for $38,500, a Corvette coupe for $27,999, or an XJ-S for $39,700. Without knowing that the Porsche and Chevy would hold on to a double-digit percentage of their initial value while the Jaguar would be worth 1% as much in 25 years, would you still have bought the Jag? Hell, even buying one XJ-S worth of new ’87 Chevettes (i.e., seven Chevettes), you’d have held on to more of your investment today (scrap value of a Chevette is about $250 nowadays).

17 - 1987 Jaguar XJ-S Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 01 - 1987 Jaguar XJ-S Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02 - 1987 Jaguar XJ-S Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 03 - 1987 Jaguar XJ-S Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 04 - 1987 Jaguar XJ-S Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 05 - 1987 Jaguar XJ-S Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 06 - 1987 Jaguar XJ-S Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 07 - 1987 Jaguar XJ-S Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 08 - 1987 Jaguar XJ-S Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 09 - 1987 Jaguar XJ-S Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 10 - 1987 Jaguar XJ-S Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 11 - 1987 Jaguar XJ-S Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 12 - 1987 Jaguar XJ-S Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13 - 1987 Jaguar XJ-S Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 14 - 1987 Jaguar XJ-S Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 15 - 1987 Jaguar XJ-S Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 16 - 1987 Jaguar XJ-S Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 54
Tiny (12cc) Hand-Machined V12 Is A Holiday Miracle Tue, 27 Dec 2011 15:25:08 +0000

Need an engineering project? Got 1,200 hours to kill with nothing to do? Take a tip from this heroically patient Spaniard, and hand-machine your own tiny (12 cc displacement) V12. This would be amazing feat of handwork even if it weren’t fully operational (using compressed air injection), but the fact that it works, runs and was made without a single CNC machine is nothing short of astounding.. If, as the book suggests, Shop Class is Soulcraft, this guy is like an engineering bodhisattva, inspiring us with his precision, patience and skill. In a world where not much is made by hand anymore, this achievement is worth taking a few minutes to marvel over… [Hat Tip: Dean Huston]

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Curbside Classic: 1946 Lincoln Continental – The Most Imitated American Car Ever Tue, 07 Dec 2010 16:54:05 +0000

This car is a jaw-dropper, a true classic, and a lucky find that rivals the CC logomobile, but it’s misnamed. By all rights, it should be the Edsel American. It was Edsel Ford’s fine taste and encouragement that made the original version of this trend-setting car happen, and in the process created a car that set the template that every American personal luxury coupe/convertible has been trying to measure up to ever since. An aggressive face on a very long hood, a close-coupled body, a short rear deck, and dripping with the aura of exclusivity and sex: a timeless formula. All too few of the endless imitators got the ingredients right, or even close, as our recent Cougar CC so painfully showed. But that didn’t stopped them from trying, just like I never stopped looking for this Continental after I first saw it almost two years ago. It was well worth the effort.

Since the original Continental has a lot of history attached to it, we’re going to step back a bit and put in into context. A more comprehensive background can be found in my Lincoln History Up to 1961, but here’s the semi-condensed version: Unlike his father, Edsel Ford had a very artistic side and was a lover of fine cars. Travel to Europe exposed him to the latest styling trends, and his oversight of Lincoln during the classic era resulted in superbly designed cars.

The Depression essentially ended the era of these expensive toys and also ushered in the aerodynamic era. This resulted in a radical re-thinking of the automotive configuration, with pushed-forward passenger compartments, small pointy hoods and long tapering bodies, sometimes with rear engines. Lincoln adopted John Tjaarda’s radical rear-engined concept, but toned it down and adapted it to use main-stream Ford mechanicals. The resulting 1936 Zephyr (above) was quite successful, because unlike the similarly advanced Chrysler Airflow, it kept at least some semblance of a traditional pointed hood, even if shorter in proportion to the rest of the car than its predecessors.

For sedans, this re-arranging of the automotive real estate was eminently logical for the roomier interiors that resulted. But it really wasn’t so suitable for coupes and convertibles. As handsome as this ’37 Zephyr coupe is, it lacks the raw visceral appeal that the long-hood classic-era cars exuded so powerfully.

Now there were perks along with the endless pains of being Henry Ford’s (only) son. Edsel had commissioned a number of one-off “Specials” and customs since he was sixteen, including three sporty cars that represented his vision of sophistication and latest European trends. All three of them were thus dubbed “Continental”. He came up with the basic concept and certain details of these cars, and handed them over to Bob Gregoire to make the renderings that resulted in the hand-made final results.

In late 1938, Gregoire drafted the latest of the series (he claimed in thirty-five minutes) with input from Edsel, and the resulting car was shipped the following March to its happy new owner in Florida, where the Fords spent much of the winter.  The 1939 Continental was built on the Zephyr chassis, but the passenger compartment was now well set back (again) resulting in that long hood, and the whole body was lowered and the side-boards completely eliminated (sectioned and channeled). It was a superb reconciliation of the traditional with the streamlined trends, and an instant classic. And the exposed spare on the rear quickly became known as the Continental Spare, an affectation that still haunts us today.

Ironically, our featured car lacks the eponymous spare, and its owner may even go so far as to customize the rear end to eliminate any lingering clues to its disappearance. Now that’s a gutsy move, and one I can respect. A Lincoln American indeed, if not an Edsel.

Edsel was bombarded with open check books as he drove his new toy around Palm Beach (one per mile, he claimed), so he called back to Dearborn and ordered the Continental to go into production. As it was essentially a hand built car, only some four hundred were produced in 1940. The first one was given to Mickey Rooney, which quickly had the rest of Hollywood fighting to be seen in one. Like most successful halo cars, its impact was way beyond the sheer revenue numbers.

After a brief two-year run, the Continental hibernated through the war, and re-emerged in 1946 with a drastically re-styled front end. I will admit to generally preferring the original’s more delicate prow, but ironically perhaps, the ’46-’48 Continental’s much heavier and bolder front end actually completes the enduring formula that would be copied so prolifically.

The restyle is also the equivalent of a sex change operation: the original is a delicate, graceful and feminine car, none of which comes to mind when confronted with this butch bomb. So strictly speaking, the Continental was aptly named for its first edition, but what reappeared after the war was utterly all-American. Understandably so, since the swagger in America’s psyche after WWII was all-too obvious.

Perhaps that also helps explain why the ’46 Conti has been the object of endless replication; it so utterly embodies the self-confidence and all-time high national testosterone levels that winning the biggest war ever induced. No wonder there was such a huge Baby Boom. And no wonder older guys were the primary target for its off-shoots. And (again) no wonder that the peak years for the personal luxury coupe market was during the seventies and eighties. Our war heroes were hitting middle age, and Viagra hadn’t been invented yet. But instead of buying a Mark IV, they should have gone out an hunted up the real thing instead, because this car is guaranteed to get your sperm count up.

I say this from experience (no, not my own). In 1973, I had an evil landlord in Iowa City. Henry Black was his name, and he would trade rent for slave labor from his starving student tenants during the summer to build additions and whole houses to his ramshackle slum called Black’s Gaslight Village. He was a big, heavy-set ornery old cuss, and walked with a cane (which he also treated as a weapon), and must have been well into his seventies. And he kept a quite young and attractive wife under virtual-house arrest in his big old Victorian. We only ever got peeps of her through the front door when we paid the rent; he never let her go anywhere, especially in his only car, a mean black ’46-’48 Continental coupe just like this one. Maybe he was worried about all the young male students. It was all like some Gothic novel.

I worked for him one summer building a cottage for future student tenants out of old railroad ties, creosote smell and all (this was before students financed their lifestyle, spring breaks in Mexico and summers in Africa with endless student loans). It was also before building permits were mandatory. Anyway, I vividly remember  riding with him in his musty old Continental to the hardware store, where he’d wait outside. Being twenty at the time, it was a bit hard to imagine, but old Henry Black was still fathering little kids with his locked away bride (unless students were sneaking in). The kids actually got to come out once in a while.

If I’ve digressed inappropriately (again), sorry; but the memories of hearing the flathead V12 in Henry’s car cough to life and his ivory-handled cane sliding against me in the curves are irrepressible after being exposed to this beast today. But if you’re wondering why there’s no engine shots, it’s because the troublesome Zephyr V12 is long gone; a healthy sounding Chevy small block does the burbling instead. And it may well not be the first transplanted engine either; the twelve had such a bad rep folks were tearing them out back in the late forties already and replacing it with the flathead Lincoln V8 that succeeded it.

The Zephyr was not an expensive car, so Ford had his engineers cobble up a budget twelve that was not much more than the Ford V8 and a half. But undersized water passages exacerbated the flathead’s intrinsic thermal issues, and as a result bores warped, rings wore out, oil burned and didn’t get properly circulated for other reasons as well. It only made some 120 hp from its 292 cubes, so performance was none too impressive in the 4,000 lb Continental, even when it ran properly. Admittedly, the post war engines had many of their ailments fixed, but the bad rep stuck.

I first ran into this car on the street a year and a half ago, and almost had an accident (in my pants). It’s not like I was expecting to find an original Continental at all, but then this comes burbling down the street. I caught up to the driver at a light, but he was in too much of a hurry to stop for photos. And I’ve been lusting for it ever since. Well, good things sometimes happens to those that lust hard enough, and I finally caught up with it again on a rare sunny December day here. Drew, its owner, bought it a couple of years back, and is still mulling over its future. A chopped top maybe?

Or maybe not; Drew is tall like me, and the Conti is none too roomy already. This is definitely a “personal” coupe, and not nearly as big, at least on the inside, as one might expect. But whatever direction he takes it, I’m sure it will serve him well, even into old age, should he feel the desire or need to keep it that long.

Over two hundred other Curbside Classics are just a click away

]]> 39 Is This The Last Of The Lamborghini V12s? Mon, 15 Nov 2010 18:11:36 +0000

Conjecture that Lambo might be getting rid of the V12 in its flagship turns out to have been way off-base: in fact, Lamborghini has just announced specs for its first clean-sheet V12 since the 1964 350GT. Its 6.5 liter displacement is good for 700 high-revving horsepower (but “only” about 500 lb-ft of torque), thanks to aluminum-silicon alloy four-valve heads and an oversquare design. The new engine also comes with a new type of automated-manual gearbox that Lamborghini calls an “Independent Shifting Rod” transmission. We’ll publish more technical details as they become available, but for now let’s just take a moment to lap up the visual feast. New Lambo V12s don’t come around every day… in fact, given past practice and future emissions standards, this may well be the last of the breed.

We thought you'd left us! Photo Umberto Guizzardi lambov126 lambov12 lambov124 lambov125 Photo Umberto Guizzardi Photo Umberto Guizzardi ]]> 13
Hammer Time: Sell, Lease, Rent, or Kill? – 1989 BMW 750il Wed, 20 Oct 2010 18:03:52 +0000

This vehicle was worth over $80,000 back in the good old days of Bush the Elder. Now? Not so much. The Bimmer pictured here has no check engine light.. The transmission shifts perfectly. It has 104k original miles with no accident history, and a raft of parts have recently been put into this vehicle by the prior owner. Someone loved this car and sold their first born in the process to keep it up.

However, it will still need about $500 to $700 for the suspension system to be perfected. The airbag light is on. The driver’s seat has some wear (see pictures), and the gas consumption of an old V12 is somewhere between a Countach and a Valdez. Today’s question for the Best and Brightest… which one of the four options would maximize my return? A cash deal? Finance? Rental? Wholesale?

I can sell it for cash on Autotrader, Craigslist, Ebay, the local paper, and at least a dozen other sites for car buyers. Even an enthusiast site may be worth the while given the near immaculate condition of the exterior. If I did this I would be looking to have an asking price around the $4,000 range. But if I put it on Ebay, it will go for no reserve. I’ve found that reserves tend to depress final bid prices by about 10% to 20%. The October/mid-November period tends to be a very slow period in the car businesses. No taxes. No ‘spending’ holidays. No bonuses. So my selling price would likely end up in the low to mid 3’s.

Then there’s the finance route. People pay big money for the big names. Lexus, Mercedes & BMW are as prestigious as they get and folks often pay big money to drive a car with one of those name. This particular one being a low mileage BMW flagship… it could be worth a pretty penny.

We have a very low mileage 1992 SC400 financed at over eight grand at the moment and a 1993 Lexus firmly in the sixes, a $5,000 to $6,000 finance deal is definitely attainable.

If I go in this direction, I have to figure out whether I want to make it a finance or a ‘rent to own’ deal. The later requires no down payment, but a traditionally riskier customer. The finance route would potentially yield $1000 down and $60 a week for 24 months. Would this BMW be a low maintenance ride for my paycheck to paycheck customers? If not, would I be willing to put the repair bills at the back of the loan at no interest? The return is likely exceptional. But I have to make sure that the revenues outweigh the expenses and risk.

I bought this one on the cheap. $1,000 from a new car dealership in town. The auction tacked on a $120  buy fee and I had it transported to the lot for $50. If I ‘wholesale’ it, I would want at least two grand and my net profit would probably be around $600. Not a lot of money. But you can make a surprisingly good living by finding four to five ‘flips’ a week. You also have no stress and no collateral issues. Once it’s sold… it’s gone. I can just as easily make this one a flip and move on to the next deal.

So which one should I do? Sell for cash, finance it, rent to own, or wholesale?

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The Lamborghini Manifesto: Why It’s Cool That We’re Ditching The V12 Tue, 14 Sep 2010 22:29:22 +0000

Several weeks back, Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann was hinting to Forbes that weight loss would be crucial to the Lambo future (he also revealed that the brand’s best-selling colors “are white, black and the grey tones”). As the hype builds towards the release of the new Murcielago-replacing Jota, Winkelmann has released a “manifesto” that he says will guide Lamborghini into a sustainable future.

Alternatively, it could also be seen as an after-the-fact justification for Lamborghini’s decision to ditch the V12. After all, the Jota teaser image released with the Winkelmann-ifesto hints very strongly at a ten-cylinder drivetrain… which means the era of V12-powered Lamborghini flagships is probably about to end. Can one little manifesto really explain that kind of brand-defying break with tradition? Hit the jump to judge for yourself.

Lamborghini stands for extreme and uncompromising supersportscars of the best Italian tradition. Tradition as a value however, lives at Lamborghini alongside innovation.We are redefining the future of our supersportscars around the two main reasons to buy: design and performance.

Regarding performance, until few years ago priorities were, in this order: top speed, acceleration and handling. In recent years this has been changing. Together with design, handling and acceleration are becoming more important. Speed is not as important anymore, because all supersportscars are exceeding 300km/h (186 mph) and this is a speed that you cannot reach even on a racetrack, let alone normal roads. We think it is time to make a shift and talk more about handling and acceleration.

The key factor in terms of better handling and acceleration, meaning more immediate pleasure in driving, is the power-to-weight ratio. This is not so much about top speed and so the future will not be so focused on increasing the power, even because CO2 emissions do play a role for supersportscars too. That means the key is in reducing the weight.

A crucial part of this is to understand how to reduce the weight. From the middle of the Eighties, the average weight of our cars has increased by 500 kg because of active and passive safety, comfort and emissions reduction issues, and this is something that we have to change. Since we cannot reduce safety or comfort in our cars, we have to reduce the weight by using new materials.

The magic word for this is “carbon fiber”. We started working with carbon fiber in Sant’Agata Bolognese over thirty years ago and today, with our two laboratories in Sant’Agata Bolognese and in Seattle, We are mastering a broad range of technologies which put us in a leadership position for low-volume production.

Every new Lamborghini will make the best use of carbon fiber to reduce weight.

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The OHC V12 That Cadillac Almost Built Wed, 21 Apr 2010 21:16:26 +0000

In the mid sixties, Cadillac gave very serious thought to replacing its aging V8 engine with an OHC V12. And blog.hemmings finally convinced Cadillac to send them some detailed pictures and more information. Looks mighty production ready, but that air cleaner sure makes it looks a lot less sexy than a Ferrari with a bank of Webers. 

Six prototypes were built in 1963 and 1964, all with a 60-degree bank, chain driven camshafts and hydraulic finger followers. The initial displacement was 7.4 liters, but an 8.2 was also built, which corresponds exactly to the size of the new V8 engine that eventually was built instead of the V12. Various induction systems were tried, including single four-barrel, dual two-barrel, and triple two-barrel carburetors, as well as fuel injection. Output was between 295 to 394 horsepower, and from 418 to 506 lb.ft. of torque.

The engines were planned to make their appearance in the new FWD Eldorado in 1967. Ironically, one of the main reasons they were canceled is because GM drivetrain engineers were still considering a transverse orientation for the FWD system. That would have made the V12 too long. In the end, a longitudinal FWD system was used, which would have accommodated the V12.  So the V12 appears to be a victim of poor GM planning.

One of the prototype engines is now available for your viewing pleasure at the GM Heritage Center.

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