And so the M brand continues its dilution

You can’t blame BMW for operating the way it does. With total revenues of over $80 billion dollars in 2010 and net profit of nearly $6 billion in just the first half of 2011, its safe to say they’ve got the formula down at extracting the most out of their brand. But at what cost?

Introducing the lastest upcoming BMW Motorsport product.

Yes you’re looking at that correctly. No photo shoot/photoshop can save this piece of shit.

Its a 135i hatchback with a generic turbocharged six cylinder. A far cry from the racing roots the Motorsport division was founded on. Another disappointing step in the downward spiral of a brand. A pattern which led to me getting rid of my 2008 M3 last year.

Allow me to entertain you with a brief BMW timeline of stuff that matters:

- BMW is on the verge of bankruptcy and selling to Mercedes
- Herbert Quandt* riskily increases his shares to 50% and continues with plans for new BMW 1500 model

*(his now multi-gazillionaire family currently owns 47% of all BMW shares)

- The BMW 1500 enjoys moderate success and points BMW towards a potentially brighter future

- They release a game changer. A much improved version of the BMW 1500. It was named the 2002.

It was sporty and practical, and catapulted BMW out of near death by selling nearly 900,000 in 10 years (in 1975 it was replaced by what you now know as the 3-series)

- Motorsport (“M”) division is founded

The pinacle of the 3-series arrives 12 years after its introduction with the 1987 M3. A perfect blend between simplicity, an in-house racing modification company, and every day driving.

This is it. The reason Mercedes, Audi, and countless others are still compared to BMW. Hell, its the reason Mercedes acquired AMG 3 years later. It almost single handedly started the consumer performance car movement. This is the car that set the bar.

Alas, in a mere 20 years the M badge has finally started to succumb to its own success as it is whored out across the entire lineup of entry level BMWs. From bloated “sports cars” to SUVs, to whatever this cotton-sock looking garbage classifies as.

I’ve since continued in my hopeless pursuit of holding on to that “right” balance of simplicity, an in-house racing modification company, and every day driving. 40+ phone calls and a trip out of state later, I feel I’m on the right path.

P.S. Fuck Chris Bangle.

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I love that for those few minutes, nothing else mattered except each other and the sounds of a piano.

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touché - jurassic park credit

touché - jurassic park credit

(this post was reblogged from deeaundra)
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awesome much? i use tumblr for my blog and found this in my stream. if you click on it, it will send you to the original posters blog.

(Source: smooth)

(this post was reblogged from shantkiraz)
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I have a younger half sister (moms side).

She’s substantially younger.

15 years old to be exact. I call her c-line or sometimes c.

I get easily annoyed by the younger generations these days. I feel like they are borderline mindless consumers. Its why we decided as a company to work with X-Up & we did the Al Gore “Connect A Million Minds” event last november.

Well I got a picture message early this morning from c-line. See in a conversation I had with my mom just yesterday she mentioned the temperature there in San Antonio (Texas), and how it might snow. I said, ‘doubtful’.

This is the picture i received from c.

I love how the fundamental principal of ‘making do with what you have’ is reflected here. a light dusting of snow and a mini-snow man to stand as a testament.

Also great is the fact that there was a moment, (albeit short cuz he’s so small), that she was separated from a computer or even an i-phone (aside from snapping the pic), makes me realize that there is hope out there for our future. genuine moments of the simpler things in life are still shimmering in the quickly disappearing attention span of our youth.

It can’t believe it ended up snowing back home.

It never snows back home.

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I ran into this video around a month ago, but hadn’t had the chance to write about it until now.

I’m not completely sure why it is so compelling to me, but I think I have a pretty good idea. First and foremost is the raw and visceral feel of it. Of course the music and play on speed heightens the experience, but these kids who would most likely be perceived as trouble based on appearance, (as can be seen by the Oakland police officer at the beginning), are simply using their bodies as a form of expression. Their movements from fluid to mechanical and their invitation to taking turns remind me of a great jazz band I once heard many moons ago at a hole in the wall jazz club here in Los Angeles.

The way they interrupt the daily norm by forcing that car at the beginning to make a wider right turn, by simply remaining still, reminds us of the simple power each of us has as an individual.

I think the majority of us who work online in the internet space forget what we are capable of because of what has become the norm. We need a reality check. We constantly check our phones for meaningless 140 character tweets, or we post a picture on dailybooth or check in via 4square in a lifeless routine. It has become the complete opposite of living. Overlooking the simplicities and details of life.

The guy in the white shirt who comes in at 1:26 essentially sums up the video in a nutshell. Completely fluid art of expression in its purest form, his body. Yet it is done so in an atmosphere which is anything but pure. Surrounded by cement, and traffic lights which direct us what to do, or not to do. It is the pinnacle of what we have created in “civilized” cities, urbanism.

Its nice to see the rain doesn’t stop these guys. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if the rain would wake the rest of the zombie populace up.

Perhaps thats what this video means to me. That these humble guys understand meaningful acts of expression, whether it be a public display to others, or the simple smiles and laughs exchanged among one another at the end of the video. While we with all our latest gadgets, tools, and material objects endlessly spiral further and further into a digital space that we complacently adjust our lives to without fully understanding the long term effects.

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A day in Orange County and how I ended up behind the wheel of the Ferrari California

Alright so those of you who have been asking. Here it is. The write up about how I ended up behind the wheel of the California.

Note 1: While I do share my thoughts on the car at the end of this post, I dont go too far into the technicals of it all. I’ll save that for the internet armchair racers out there.

Note 2: It all happened SO quickly, that I only have a handful of my own pictures for this post, the rest is stock photos. The event was a whirlwind to say the least.

The Setup: Orange County California. I am attending a cool event with entrepreneurs, investors, and other individuals associated with the business of having their own business. It is exactly the type of events I’m into, being surrounded by people who have no life but what they are working on. Curiously enough, it was set to take place in some corporate building, but it was rescheduled last minute to the Marconi Automotive Museum. A meeting with others like me while surrounded by a $30M car collection? Dont twist my arm…

Needless to say I showed up early. I wanted to see every car before people got there, as I knew I wouldn’t get the chance to later. I drive up to the lot and find free valet service. I pull a u-turn and park on the street, thank you very much but I’ll pass on you driving my car.

I walk across the empty parking lot and the first car I see is the BMW 1. (image below is from the museums site. it was not indoors when i was there)

I didn’t know what I was more shocked at. The great conscious choice of having the first car people see being the M1 or the ridiculous thought of it being OUTSIDE. I walk past the DeTomaso sitting next to it and head inside.

Name tag, Check. Racing motorcycles sitting next to check-in area? Check. Walk in and flanked by a hardtop F-50 and a barchetta F-50 next to an F-40? Damn.

Not to mention I look across the way randomly and see a Cizeta.

(excuse the non-revealing photo, i sent it to a friend in portland to test him and see if he would recognize. He got it right. I dont know whats geekier, the fact that I did it to test him, or the fact that he got it right)

So here’s where the story starts, unless you’ve been reading along…good for you :)

Name that car! (another test)…dont just say “ferrari”. Its an FX. I couldn’t believe it. 7 in the world. 6 of which went to the royal family of Brunei The only one outside in “public” eye was here, in front of me. Well, actually, in front of us.

Standing next to me? A guy that was in the room we pitched our company to earlier in the day. We really didn’t get the chance to talk much after the presentation. In any case, I started chatting with him about the FX and the Sultan of Brunei’s collection. 5,000+ cars strong and as I INSIST, primarily yellow. (an estimated 2000+ cars of the collection are yellow)

The majority of the collection that day was Ferrari, so it was a natural extension for me to talk about my feelings towards Ferrari and Lamborghini both deciding they will no longer build manual-transmission cars.

Him - “You sound like a car nut”
Me - (hesitating) - “eeeh, I just really like cars”

So my conversation with this fine gentleman started off with us discussing the history of Ferrari and I immediately went into how some of the essence is gone with the lack of manual transmissions, as well as the design direction of Ferrari, which started to depart from classic Italian styling.

The change was most notable from the late 90’s F355

To the Ferrari 360 Modena onward.

Regarding the transmission discussion, I mentioned to him that while I understood technology allowed the car to shift faster than any human ever could, it sort of killed the spirit and engagement level.

In a manual car, your left leg is busy with the clutch, your right leg is gas/brake, your right hand is on the shifter, and your left is on the steering wheel. Complete and total engagement. In a Ferrari’s paddleshift/semi-automatic, my biggest problem is that there even is an automatic option. The gearshifts on the paddles are BLAZING fast, but at the end of the day, not completely necessary if one pushes the wonderful “auto” button. The car, is driving you.

So during some more conversations and a quick running around the museum together discussing different cars, our own cars come up in the conversation. To this day I continue to honestly feel I have very good reasons as to why I am slightly disappointed in Ferrari, but as luck had it that day, the very guy I was talking to about it had his brand new one sitting outside.

He pulls out the contents of his pocket and finds the valet slip.

(dramatization of pocket contents - thanks google!)

(the conversation below is as close to what I recall)

Him - “Here maybe you can take it for a spin and THEN get back to me on your thoughts.”
Me - (shocked) “That would only be the most incredible experience ever but I’m not sure about you just staying in here while I go check it out”
Him - “Well with saying something like that you DEFINITELY have to drive it”

He proceeds to lead the way outside and grabs the key from the valet. We walk over to the car, he pops open the driver door, hands me the key, and says, “have fun”. So there I am, in the middle of Orange County holding a red key to a brand new Ferrari California…

…and the driver door open and the interior inviting me in.

Me -(after about a 5 second beat) “There’s no way I’m getting in this car without you”
Him - “Alright lets go!”

I jump into the drivers seat, he gets in, we put the hardtop roof down, and I fire up the engine. My first note, which I’m sure everyone who has ever heard a Ferrari already knows, the sound was incredible.

Pull the right paddle down for 1 click to get the car into drive and we are off. We ended up driving/racing around for maybe 10 minutes or so, and it still feels like a dream to this day, but I was able to collect enough thoughts from then to say the following about the car.

The car as a sum of its parts is in fact gorgeous.

The sound of a the Italian V-8 at full throttle at 8,000 rpm and the wonderfully tuned exhaust can only be matched by the absolutely beautiful sound of the “blipping” through the gears during shifts. I can honestly say that it is the most incredible non-manual transmission I have ever experienced. However, the transmission is so good, that it makes the power delivery of the engine seamless, which means you dont really feel like you are accelerating aggressively. I know what you’re thinking…”Edward how does that not feel blindingly fast”. Well statistically speaking it isn’t that different in numbers, (excluding price), from what I drive daily.

2009 Ferrari California (2-door hardtop convertible):
Engine: Front Engine 4.3L V-8
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch paddle shift
Weight: 3,594 lb
Horsepower: 453 hp
Torque: 357 ft-lbs torque
Redline: 8,000 rpm

2008 BMW M3 (4-door sedan):
Engine: Front Engine 4.0L V-8
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Weight: 3,726 lb
Horsepower: 414 hp
Torque: 295 ft-lbs torque
Redline: 8,300 rpm

This is where I believe you “feel” the difference in a manual. The human imperfections in shifts (loss of speed), and the tactile feedback from the transmission in the manual is just a completely different experience. My car is slower, but yet it feels so…alive.

No problem in the Ferrari though, all you need to see is how quickly the cars around you suddenly disappear into your rear view mirror.

There aren’t many curvy roads in that part of Orange County, so the rigidity of a hardtop convertible and its effect on handling I can not comment on. What I can say is that Ferrari is one of the few companies that prides themselves on making structural improvements to its convertibles to increase rigidity and make them super stiff.

I turned around and headed back to the event we so quickly left behind. After we arrived we talked a little more about other random gems in the museum. From 246 Dino’s and 300SL Gullwings, to the fact that we were both from the Santa Monica / West LA area.

(Random dinosaur picture to make sure you’re still paying attention)

For the rest of the evening I talked with other individuals at the event, but it was tough. On one hand I am talking about technology, the market, and what I’ve learned in 2.5yrs on my current project. On the other, I had just experienced something so surreal that the longer I didn’t talk about it the more it felt like a dream.

And so the night went on…meeting person after person in a room surrounded by incredible engineering and history. By the end of the night I was ready for bed. Long drive home to Santa Monica, so lets get out of here.

I looked around the room to find my new car-geek friend, but he was nowhere to be found. I never even got to say goodbye.

So the illusion and lucid-like dream state of that day continues to grow. Was he real? Did I actually leave in the middle of the event for 10 minutes to go for a drive? Did any of this actually happen?

Who knows.

But I do know this. The day I see a blue California cruising around my area I’ll be sure to take a good look to see who is inside. It might just be someone I once knew, even if for a brief moment, in an experience that I’ll be sure to always remember.

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So we got a new HD FlipCam for the office to share some of our processes in reaching out to publishers and other general things happening here at Vokle (we just had Dane Sanders here the other day!).

In any case, Shant won’t set the damn camera down. I swear he records everything. EVERYTHING. I go into to the restroom expecting he would be waiting for me down the hallway or outside, and then I open the door and he’s literally right in my face. Caught me off guard to say the least. Then he had Jonathan hide behind another corner. I guess he had just gotten to the office and went along with Shant’s plan to try to give me a heart attack.

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I dragged @shantkiraz out of his cave to take some action shots of my car on the freeway. this is one of the pictures we got. (yes i obeyed every traffic law)

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Super Car Sunday

So I hit my first Super Car Sunday here in Los Angeles. I used to drive down to Irvine for Cars and Coffee, but I’m planning on making that into special trips as it is ~45min away. SCS (Super Car Sunday) I plan on making more of a regular thing.

SCS happens every Sunday from 7am - 10am at the Westfield mall parking lot off of Topanga just north of the 101 freeway. It was a pretty quiet turn out today according to regulars, but there were some cool cars none the less.

This camaro arrived just after me. I heard it coming and thought, hmm looks pretty low key but sounds mean. I was walking around and 15 minutes later still heard the car cooling which I thought was odd and hinted to me that it was not naturally aspirated. Walked up to it and see it has two turbonetics turbos.

420 Cubic Inch running 10psi through the turbo’s. Said he hadn’t put it on the dyno yet, but was in the 600hp - 700hp range. Not too shabby considering he could easily crank the boost to 14psi without too much additional stress on the car.

So I’m sitting there just finishing my conversation when in the distance I hear a very loud car. I see a spoiler in the distance and think to myself…no…it can’t be…I blogged about it not too long ago (the 2nd car at the end of the post), but would someone here really street their…

and sure enough, he turns the corner

Ultima GTR.

He was running an LS1 putting down something along the lines of 600hp, but more impressively is the fact that the damn thing weighs 2300lbs. That car must be absolutely insane.

Some other fun stuff and notable mentions

Love the mini bike in the mini pickup

Damn thing is sitting on 44inch tires!

And the best part…

Full spare!

This guy showed up with a brand new GT500. I wasn’t aware it was even out yet.

What definitely caught me by surprise when he opened the hood and I saw it was the same exact 550hp supercharged V8 from the damn Ford GT!

For those of you that dont know what the Ford GT is, it is the yellow car in the background behind this Viper.

Overall it was pretty cool. Met some awesome people that know tons about cars and mechanics which was great to be around again :-D Looking forward to more.

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