Saturday, August 17, 2019

Cadillac vs. Lexus

Lexus LC, starting at $92,950. I'll take one in red please! 471 Horse Power, Top speed 168mph, compression ratio 12.3:1, it'll haul your groceries!

Sure, I know what you're thinking. The NMS guys usually write about their Miata, FIAT, BMW, Toyota, and other random bits of automotive stuff, but when are they going to go test drive some new cars they can't afford? Well, the answer is NOW! To better serve the public, or our readers, or just to fill the Internet with some more useless collections of letters and photos, NMS-North signed up for both the Cadillac Truth + Dare driving experience, and the Lexus Driving Tour. Both events were held at the spacious parking lots of Citi Field, home of the not-so-Amazin' Mets.

First off, since it's summer, I'm happy to report that unlike the BMW event that was scheduled last November at Citi Field, these events were not cancelled due to 6 inches of snow! Also, unlike one of the similar Ford events NMS attended at Charlotte Motor Speedway, it was not limited due to lots of rain. Unlike the Jaguar event we visited, there were no Jaguars to drive, just Cadillacs and Lexus vehicles. Or is it Lexi? Lexuses? Whatever, this is a car blog, not a grammar convention.

We much preferred the Lexus vehicles over the Cadillacs, here's why: We didn't go to the Cadillac event! I had good intentions, but the day of the event was right after a long stretch at work over 2+ weeks, I had a cold, and needed a day off. Honest, the sun was in my eyes, a train got in the way, I lost my license, the sun blacked out, there was a hurricane, and the dog ate my  homework!

So seriously, the Lexus event was a ton of fun, and it's ALWAYS fun to drive someone else's car, especially if it's brand new and they keep telling you to go faster! Here's the photo-story:

One quick Saturday morning drive to Citi Field, park right next to
the stadium, and away we go!

At the end of the event I filled out a customer survey, and
it asked what my primary car was. FIAT was not one of the
choices, and there was no place to write in another brand, so
I just listed my wife's Camry, keeping it in the Toyota family.

Hmm, life is full of choices, go left to drive Lexus, or go
right to the clubhouse. I always wanted to be a baseball player!

Mets Hall of Famers

and a tribute to Jackie Robinson

Signed in, and the Lexus people had good coffee. They also had
hot water for tea drinkers, decaf, and plenty of milk products to add
if you like that sort of thing. 

So we're  hanging out with the first driving group of the day, in the
Mets stadium, drinking our free coffee and this fashionable
new bracelet!

A quick peek from the room where we saw an introductory video
gives a quick view of the field. 

Walked out here from the stadium, and we're about to start driving in the
first of four different stations. 

We took on the city drive, and got to experience the ES and LS models
by driving a big loop around the stadium, on real NYC streets. If you visit
Citi Field, be sure to check out the tons of car repair shops just east of the stadium.

I drove an ES, it was very nice, definitely higher on the luxury scale
than our Camry and starts up around $40,000!
 Then I rode in the LS, and it was very very nice, more like $75,000 and up. 

Driving cars around Queens, elevated train tracks in the background
for the mass transit fans.

Viewed from inside the LS, that's an ES in front of us. 

Enough of driving normal cars, now on to the LC. a V8 two door. 

The LC drive will be in the parking lot on a little autocross course. 

Adam Andretti explains what we're going to do. His dad is Mario's twin brother.

The red LS looked nice. 

I hung back and drove last in my group of a dozen or so people.
Even though the autocross wasn't a timed event or competition, I
watched several other drivers on the course to get a better idea of
how it was laid out. We only got one chance to drive it, and everyone
wanted to drive the LC. 

The LC goes 0-60 in 4.4 seconds they told us. 

Some drivers ahead of me are swapping places. Each of these
cars had a phone mounted in it to shoot video of the driver. I'll
post that in the blog down below. 

From the staging area, there were white Lexus cones marking where
to park before driving onto the course, and this driver managed to run
over a cone before they even really got going. 

Cone rescued!

Having driven an autocross or two over the years, I had to take
a photo of these white Lexus cones, since they aren't orange!

On to the next event driving some SUVs.

I drove a hybrid on this very tight course. This was not for
speed, so they wanted us to feel the handling and small turning
radius. Hybrids still surprise me when they are so quiet. 

Besides the driving and static vehicles, this little area was handy
if you needed a break or weren't driving. They also had some
granola bars and bottled water. Overall I was probably
at this event about an hour and a half, and drove all of the four
stations they had set up. The event continued most of Saturday
and Sunday this weekend. 

Lexus RC F

They explained that the huge Lexus grill is a tribute to the
founding of the Lexus company long ago as a weaver or some
type of business that used spindles, so the grill is a spindle shape.
There's more to the story, but I'm still not a big fan. 

Next I drove the NX300. On this station they wanted to demonstrate the
technology of their vehicles. The highlight was driving a small loop, again
not for speed (whaaaa), and then backing into this
parking spot. This is my car that you can see the previous driver
got too close to the white cones, not really leaving me enough
room to open the driver door without bumping into the cone. I'll get over it. 

So, the technology was that this car has reverse parking sensors that
automatically STOP you before you back into something. To demonstrate this,
as you're backing into this spot they tell you to take your foot OFF OF THE BRAKE.
They had to tell me twice, because it just felt wrong, but I can guarantee that
the car stopped itself, and this shows you how close we got before
the car brought itself to a full stop and I parked it. 

Another LC on display, this one had the trunk and hood open so you could
check it out. Hope you like the grill more than me. 

You can see the design is built to be aerodynamic, and it does look
very cool. The LC was a concept car at first, but they Lexus people
said let's build this thing! 

The trunk is popped open, so the fit is better than this. 

I really liked driving this beast, and got a little sideways on the autocross course.

For each of the driving events we were on our own. No real
driving instruction, no Lexus rep in the car, just get in there
and see if you like it! On the auto backup braking SUV, the Lexus
guy was just talking to me with my window down. 

Like most cars, the LC has this gigantic plastic cover over the engine.
One cool feature was the rubber covers over the shocks, which pop right
off and then you can easily adjust your shocks I bet. 

Let's see, these things start at about $97,000...


The LC autocross had a camera shooting some still photos, and then through the magic of technology the Lexus folks zapped me this video, with some other footage from an LC somewhere else mixed in with my ugly mug. As a customer experience, I really enjoyed it, fully realizing that they are in business to make money selling their cars. Hey, I like driving other people's new cars for free, so everyone's a winner! If you want to spend some money and drive more Lexus cars on a real track that rhymes with Laguna Seca, see your Lexus dealer or Google it, and for just under a thousand bucks you can go have an awesome day on a world famous track! 


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Simeone Foundation Auto Museum Visit

Car fans, I've just had my Flabber Gasted! As in, "I'm FLABBERGASTED!"

Here's the Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) as they say:

1: The Simeone is just outside of Philadelphia, and is well worth a visit if you are interested in sports cars pre-1975. Admission is only about 12 bucks, so it's a good value if you're looking for awesome cars! You can read all about it on their website: SIMEONE MUSEUM

2: Yesterday's event focused on cars that have raced at the famous Nurburgring in Germany, and spectators had the chance to see and hear several historic race cars driving in the parking lot, including the Mercedes that won the first Nurburgring Grand Prix in 1927! Nurburgring

3: Oh, and to comment on all the above, as well as today's Formula 1 racing, we had Sky Sports broadcaster Will Buxton, and legendary driver/announcer David Hobbs!

4: Oh number 2, Will and David also were available to sign copies of their latest books, and were very generous with their time in talking to fans. To be honest, I felt kind of funny standing in line to get a chance to have Hobbo sign my copy of his book, but it was nice to say hi to him and his wife for just a minute or two. Most of us non-famous people never have to worry about stuff like this, but I would imagine these guys are used to it!

To get there I just had to drive thru NYC, down the NJ turnpike, and follow my GPS directions. Along the way I got to experience the great traffic in Manhattan, the Holland Tunnel, both were slow, but the rest of the trip was pretty easy. As a bonus, going from I-95 to the Simeone took me right by the collection of stadia where the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, and 76ers play, all south of downtown.

Here's just a few of the highlights, and some VIDEO of these awesome cars being driven!

David Hobbs, foreground, and Will Buxton in the
background signing and chatting with fans

Hobbo, Motor Racer, Motor Mouth
Good title, fun read of his career!
Hobbs said his son suggested the title Gas Pedal: Gas Bag!

Mr. Hobbs and his wife were very friendly folks, taking lots
of time with each person with a book to sign!

Will and David comment as the museum staff drive some of the
cars that competed at the Nurburgring

Will Buxton gets a photo of the Aston Martin. This thing sounded
awesome as it was driving around!

Buxton and Hobbs posing with a Ferrari F1 car

Question and answer session with Will and David
One of two BMW 328s at the museum, this is a cool looking car,
see the next photo.

BMW 328s, two of them!
Scroll down for video. 
Description of the next car, one of 3 Mercedes Benz gull wings I
saw at the museum. 

Mercedes Benz Gullwing
Short video below
Hard to beat a British Racing Green Aston Martin, unless it
also won the world championship (season), was driven by
Sir Stirling Moss and Jack Brabham, and Jim Clark!

Aston Martin as described above. Wow!
Video below, you can go full screen
1927 was a while ago, and how many cars from
then are still around? How many of those run? And
how many race winning cars from 1927 still run?
This one does!

1927 Mercedes Benz Sportwagen, winner of the
first German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring!

Two videos below, it lives1