Spannerhead Dot ComSpannerhead.com

Enjoy Spannerhead? Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook!

Posts filed under ‘Media’

Movie Stars: The McLaren P1

October 22, 2016 by Matt

Editor’s note: Content advisory (language) in the clip above.

McLaren’s P1 hypercar is featured in the music video for The Weeknd’s new single, but it’s not the only piece of high-dollar machinery name-dropped by the Canadian R&B artist.

Overlaying the insistent beat, the singer seems to simultaneously flaunt and lament his fortune and what it’s turned him into. The video mirrors this concept, showing The Weeknd at first reveling in the tokens of his fame before systematically trashing them after the first chorus. The cars escape the carnage, and it’s a good thing, too, since the singer shows excellent automotive taste. He mentions his Lamborghini Aventador SV Roadster, Bentley Mulsanne and of course, the aforementioned P1 in the song, and gives us a glimpse of the first two before a lovely nighttime montage of the McLaren driving down Mulholland Drive with The Weeknd at the wheel. The nighttime setting gives the P1 an opportunity to display its quasi-alien lines and driving light arrangement to good effect, and nicely compliments the surreal tone of the video. Billboard reports the British carmaker was unaware the singer would include the car in his video, but was pleasantly surprised at the free publicity. All-in-all, it’s a worthwhile fusion of visuals and music, with some very heavy-hitting automotive iron thrown in.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series discussing cars which featured prominently on film or television. Read the other installments here:

Comment

Mazda’s New Ad Campaign Shines

September 15, 2015 by Matt

Mazda MX-5 Miata Ad Advert Advertisement Desert Track 2016 ND

Via Autoblog, I have next to no hope that this will gain them any traction with the buying public (of whom a vast majority are simply interested in basic transportation appliances instead of a vehicle they would actually enjoy to drive), but Mazda’s new marketing campaign resonates with enthusiasts. Supplementing their long-running “Zoom-Zoom” tagline, the automaker recently rolled out a new slogan: “Driving Matters.” Greeted by a collective “YES!” from car buffs everywhere, the new campaign explicitly reminds us how closely Mazda’s car-building philosophy aligns with our priorities in choosing and enjoying our vehicles.

And yet, as much as I want to preach Mazda’s slogan from the rooftops and shout it to the unenlightened masses, I realize that it takes more than just a fun-to-drive car to derive pleasure from the act of driving. The right road is an equally essential ingredient, and therein might lie another obstacle in the Japanese automaker’s attempts to convert their enthusiast-first philosophy into sales success. Put another way, it would do me no good to insist that a friend is selling himself short from a driving perspective by buying a boring car when his daily commute consists solely of 45 minutes of bumper-to-bumper traffic. He may heed my advice and buy something dynamically enjoyable, but have nowhere to use it aside from forays onto winding back roads. And those excursions take a level of intentionality even harder to expect from someone whom I’ve already had to convince to buy something he wouldn’t have normally chosen.

The antidote to all this, of course, is to build compromise-free cars; in other words, cars that function equally well whether being used as commuting appliances or back-road burners. And as Mazda’s recent string of comparison-test wins indicates, they’re the current undisputed masters of that formula (6 straight outright victories in Car and Driver alone). Here’s hoping their new ad push can bring more buyers around to that fact.

Comment

Audi Concepts: The RSQ

December 28, 2014 by Matt

Audi RSQ

Audi RSQ

More than any other automaker, Audi’s styling gives us a sense of “you can get there from here.”

What do I mean? Examine the various generations of Audi cars and there’s a clear aesthetic progression from one to the next. There’s no jumping off the deep end design-wise, a la Bangle-helmed BMW in the 2000s; instead, Audi’s corporate styling themes seem to move forward in even, incremental steps. And while this approach sometimes raises the question of whether their aesthetic evolution is too gradual, the easily-traceable progression makes it easier to extrapolate Audi’s future styling direction. In other words, it’s easier to fill in the gaps between Audi’s present lineup and the look of its concept cars, which in turn makes the concepts seem nearer, less fanciful and more real. While that might be a downside for those who enjoy concept cars as pure flights of fancy, aesthetic puff pieces with no connection to an automaker’s current offerings, most car buffs at some point imagine themselves behind the wheel of a car rotating slowly on the dais. Cultivating that connection means that a less extreme suspension of disbelief is needed to fantasize about driving a concept car, and renders it more attainable, so to speak, and thus more desirable.

Audi RSQ

Audi RSQ Interior Inside Cockpit Console

Take the car featured in this post, the RSQ. Created in 2004 especially for the Will Smith sci-fi action flick I, Robot (itself nothing to write home about, but that’s another matter), the idea behind the car was to create a realistic vehicle for the year 2035, when the film is set. Naturally, it has futuristic overtones, especially the spherical wheels. But because of Audi’s progressive design philosophy, there’s still a connection with their present-day cars; when you see it there’s a sense that, “Yeah, I could drive that.” That attainable quality stands the RSQ in contrast to other sci-fi movie cars like Lexus’s vehicle in the Tom Cruise flick Minority Report. Compared to Audi’s concept, Lexus’s offering looks downright alien. Now, does that mean I consider the RSQ objectively desirable, in that I would choose it over other, present-day Audis? No, but I still appreciate its visual kinship with those models.

Image credits: netcarshow.com, audiworld.com

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series discussing Audi’s rich history of noteworthy concept cars. Read the other installments here:

1 Comment

Top Fuel Dragster Engineering, Part 2

July 25, 2013 by Matt

5-Disc Clutch Top Fuel Dragster

After the awesomeness of the first installment, I can’t resist putting up a link to the second part, wherein the author geeks out on the intricacies of actually putting 10,000 hp to the ground. Fascinating details abound, like 5-disc clutches, crazy rear tire deformation at full speed and 5.5 g launches. Enjoy.

Image credit: motoiq.com

1 Comment

The Brilliant Lunacy of
Top Fuel Dragster Engineering

June 25, 2013 by Matt

Top Fuel Dragster Racing Engine Motor Block

If my racing tech represents “arrested development” (the way that of all major series except endurance racing), I’d rather go all out. In other words, if I can’t geek out on technological breakthroughs in the racing machines that interest me for the simple reason that the technology in my 7-year-old minivan is in many ways more advanced, I can at least remain in awe of those who push a specific formula to its complete, utter, ludicrous limits.

Like these guys.

Top Fuel drag racing represents the elephant man corner of motorsports. It’s the freak show. The bearded lady and conjoined twins sit in the audience, cheering on these cars-in-name-only, distorted out of all resemblance to anything you or I would drive to the grocery store. The machines are designed to do one thing extraordinarily well, do that thing for about 4 seconds, then stop doing that thing. In what other arena of competition, nevermind just motorsports, is the window of opportunity for success so small? All the sound and fury of an entire NASCAR race, compressed into a handful of ear-splitting, pavement-cracking moments. How can I look away?

The tech in particular fascinates me. Sure, it’s not envelope-shattering in the innovative sense, but the amount of attention lavished on every decision combined with the sheer scale of it all, from distributor size to exhaust gas temperature to speeds to decibels to power output… I just can’t help but stand and gawk at it all. The above article does a great job documenting the geeky details of a Top Fuel racer’s engine prep. Check it out!

Image credit: hotrod.com

1 Comment

On the Theraputic Nature
of Top Gear Challenges

June 18, 2013 by Matt

We need these.

By “we” I mean car enthusiasts, and by “these” I mean Top Gear segments wherein the trio of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May buy classic cars and subject them to a series of challenges, in the process often completely ruining their vehicles.

Watching bits like the Cheap Porsche Challenge (S5:E6, shown above), the Alfa Challenge (S11:E3) or my favorite, the Budget Supercars Challenge (S7:E4), I alternately double over with laughter at the hosts’ antics and cringe as they invariably subject the cars to gaudy paint jobs, cobbled-together modifications and thrash them around the track and on the street. Sure, the cars themselves aren’t expensive—the initial rules of each challenge specify the car must cost a pittance—but many of them turn out to be real diamonds in the rough, the kinds of cars enthusiasts would love to get their hands on and restore. It can be difficult to watch them “go to waste,” and it would be nearly unbearable except that the challenges are so amusing.

All that said, I think the challenges are good for car buffs to watch for another reason besides mere entertainment: As much as we revere our cars and the automakers that produced them, it’s good to be reminded, from time to time, that at the end of the day, they’re just cars. A Porsche, Alfa or Maserati can be dinged, scratched, abused and beat on the same as any other car; there’s nothing about a classic’s pedigree or reputation that gives it the kind of untouchable aura we risk bestowing on it if our only point of contact is through glossy car magazines or concours events. The TGUK challenges bring matters back into needed perspective even as their humor takes the edge off what would otherwise amount to a cringe-worthy desecration of our beloved classics.

Comment

Photorealistic Racing?
Forza Motorsport 5 Trailer

May 23, 2013 by Matt

It looks like I might have to buy an XBox One.

For car buffs, games like the upcoming Forza 5 qualify as killer apps for any platform, especially if the above clip represents real in-game footage (and with a few slight exceptions, there’s little reason to think it doesn’t).

I’m not quite convinced, for example, that in the actual game, chunks of rubber kick up from a car’s tires, or that carbon fiber weaves will be perfect alignment. Not only that, but contrary to what’s shown in the trailer above, it’s extremely unlikely that a McLaren F1, great though it is, would be able to hold its own around a racetrack against the upcoming P1. More likely it would get its ass handed to it.

But such disparities between the intro sequence and the game itself are expected. Even if the actual graphics are several notches less refined than those shown above, they will still represent the cutting edge of driving simulation. Couple that with refined vehicle dynamics, engaging circuits, and especially key licensing arrangements with premier performance automakers, and you’ve got yourselves a winner.

As an aside, it’s interesting to compare the clip above to the intro sequence for Microprose’s 1992 landmark racing game Formula One Grand Prix, one of the first racing simulations to feature realistic track and car detail. We’ve come a long way in 20 years.

2 Comments

Is the Porsche 918
Unnecessarily Complicated?

May 18, 2013 by Matt

Chris Harris raises the question around the 2:40 mark of his preview of Porsche’s newest supercar.

His basic point is that although the combined 887 hp of the 918’s conventional V8 and electric motors may seem impressive, the car is saddled with the extra weight of the batteries and associated hardware, to the point where it tips the scales at a not-inconsiderable 3,700 lbs. Given the extra poundage, it needs the extra power just to be able to keep up with its British and Italian competition, the McLaren P1 and LaFerrari respectively, and even then finds itself nipping at their heels past the quarter mile posts. With respect to acceleration, the weight of the 918’s hybrid system takes away with its left hand what power it gives with its right.

The obvious solution, then, would be to dispense with the electric motors, leaving the car with “only” 608 hp from its 4.6l V8 and half a ton lighter—a solution Harris proposes during the course of the review. He does get some seat time around a test circuit, and his experience seems to suggest that the torque-vectoring ability of the added hardware might be of use to the chassis for more than just pure acceleration… But, somewhat annoyingly, a factory “chaperone” was along for the ride, and given the in-car audience, Harris’ comments may have been less impartial than they would have been otherwise.

Still, to take a wide-angle view of the new class of hybrid supercars, there’s little doubt the value of the older, purer range-toppers like the McLaren F1 and especially the Ferrari F40 will go through the roof as a kind of backlash against all the new techno-wizardry. That much is certain.

Comment

Car Ads and Brochures: Toyota Supra

May 1, 2013 by Matt

Toyota Supra Advertisement

Click image to enlarge.

Dug these up recently from an old hard drive. I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m interested in a car (I don’t even have to actually own it), I’ll create a new folder on my computer simply as a repository of noteworthy pictures and documents. This post illuminates the contents of one such folder. It’s neat to see Toyota’s advertising change over the years, and to a slightly lesser degree, the emphasis of the ads. Enjoy.

Toyota Supra Advertisement

Click image to enlarge.

Interesting that neither of the Mark 2 Supra ads feature the nose of the car…

Toyota Supra Advertisement

Click image to enlarge.

Toyota Supra Advertisement

Click image to enlarge.

Toyota Supra Advertisement

Click image to enlarge.

Have I mentioned lately how much I miss my old ’88 Turbo?

Toyota Supra Advertisement

Click image to enlarge.

Toyota Supra Advertisement

Click image to enlarge.

Toyota Supra Advertisement

Click image to enlarge.

Toyota Supra Advertisement

Click image to enlarge.

Toyota Supra Advertisement

Click image to enlarge.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series chronicling interesting automotive advertisements and brochures. Read the other installments here:

Comment