Thursday, 31 May 2012

Honda NSX-T /// Night Hunter

Continuing the trend for convertibles, remember the NSX-T? In lieu of featuring the horrendously shit-looking new NSX announced for 2015 production, how about this 90's gem...

If I was to be run over, again, then the next time it happens I want it to be at three in the morning by some guy driving a black NSX-T and listening to this song. And he'll be smoking a cigarette with the top down. In the rain. In fact two cigarettes. Because he's that much of a hardass. My philosophy in life is that if you're going to get run over you may as well do it properly; imagine explaining to your friends that you got your two broken legs from being hit by a Prius.

 Credit: FuryNSX

This kind of cockpit makes me think of a fighter jet with a sun roof, and of the unlikely cosiness of the F355 GTS, which coincidentally is an exact contemporary of the NSX-T (both 1995). While the F355 may evoke much more of the pizzazz that you would expect to be inherent in a Ferrari, it probably isn't as scary in the corners. Relatively unusually for a Japanese (read 'sensible') car, NSX drivers know to ignore the old maxim 'never lift' in the corners, unless you want to contort yourself to the extent that you're staring your own arse in the face.

Both the F355 and the NSX weigh almost exactly the same; manually speaking the former has a 6-speed to the latter's 5 or 6-speed gearbox, but the Ferrari does shaft the NSX on speed and acceleration. Having said that, the NSX was never originally intended to compete with the F335, rather the 328 and then 348. So it comes down to badassness, and to be a bit subjective, the 348 was a wet fart in between the 328 and F355. I suppose what I'm saying is that although the F355 GTS is one of my top favs of all time, I think I'd rather own an NSX-T, it's just that bit more badass.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Testarossa Spider /// 808 State

Another convertible that was never meant to be, the Testarossa Spider, pre-horrible facelift. At least, it was never originally intended to go into production proper. There is only one example that could ever be considered remotely official, the one-off from Pininfarina for Gianni Agnelli, who was still boss of Fiat in 1986.

Although there was certainly demand for a drop-top version of the 512, Ferrari never accepted any further commissions, allegedly citing the usual problems with convertible variations - weight gain, chassis difficulties and so on (not to mention that with the roof on, the Spider looks too much like an ill-thought out concept model; Ferrari's carrozzerie have given us numerous horrendous examples over the 80s and 90s).

After Agnelli's one silver model, all other Testarossa Spiders are unofficial conversions, and then not all of them have even been done by Pininfarina.

I also like the fact that from behind the car looks like a house. Some eternal facade, a slatted Modernist masterpiece. But still with an arse as fat as an apartment block.

The Testarossa works well with Pacific 202 because it reminds me of those ridiculous driving games you could play in arcades as a kid. Some weird Japanese interpretation of Acid House accompanied by eight-lane coastal highways lined with palm trees and adoring 8-bit spectators.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

BMW 8-Series Cabriolet /// Space Dimension Controller

The BMW 8-series was born in 1989. Not a common sight itself by any stretch of the imagination these days, but its aborted sister - the 8-series cabriolet - is almost entirely forgotten.

 Pictures of the 8-series cabriolet are hard to find: sleek as this stationary shot is, in my view the 8 series always looked best in profile shots at speed

The cabriolet never went into production for a number of reasons, the primary one being apparently cost. The hard top version was renowned for its peerless pillar-less design, and the same idea was employed on the soft top. The main problem lay in strengthening the chassis to a safe degree - not only was it hugely expensive, driving up the sale cost of the finished model, but the extra weight added had a fatal impact on the car's overall performance. Oh, and the fact that making a 2 + 2 into a convertible has always been an idea bordering on the insane (e.g. WTF?).

From whichever way you look at it, the 8-series was a Bacchic anomaly in BMW's range (this seemed to represent the peak, BMW moved back to focus on sports coupes afterwards, with the arrival of a new 3 and 5 series). The 8-series overall was heavier and less manoeuvrable than its rivals of other marques, so was never a track or a racer's car. That's what makes it so fantastic. The Alpina, Hartge and proposed M8 version seem to me to verge on the oxymoronic. The very nature of the cabrio is acknowledgement of its backseat status, not a car to front the competition, but one to cruise. Certainly such a relaxed attitude as this has never been a facet of BMW's policy, which perhaps contributed to its downfall. Perhaps it came at the wrong time - it has been postulated that at the time of an economic downturn, this weighty five litre hunk of decadence was unwelcome.

It's a shame such an obviously beautiful model never made it to the market. Imagine a trans-Europe cruise in a five litre plus V12 drop top, maybe along the gently undulating and empty autoroutes of north-eastern France at night. I think this song would fit it perfectly.

Space Dimension Controller aka Jack Hamill is a young producer from Belfast, and The Love Quadrant was his first single, from 2009.