Friday, August 29, 2008

Treats for Your House Guest

As the holiday weekend approaches, are you ready for your out-of-town guests? Both guest houses are ready; you’ve got prime dinner reservations each evening and you’re ready for some late-night pop-star debauchery at The Kress. So what’s left? the L.A. Car Couture, we suggest more than just mints on the bed. We want our guests to have use of a “couture-car” and we’d rather not have them get into our own garage, just like we’d rather not have them get into our wine cellar. So here’s a recommendation from your Pap…rent them a set of wheels for the weekend. Yes we know in the evening you’ll most definitely have car service but while you’re nursing your hangover by the pool, your guests can motor on over to your house in the Bu for a little day-trip and some much needed negative ions.

It’ll cost you a little bit of money but believe your Pap, it’ll save you in the end when Laurie from Lancaster rear ends them in her Nissan 350Z with bad bodywork and good wheels.

If you wanna keep it simple and low key, how about a Porsche 911 for about $600/day. Your guest may not want too much attention and a 911 will ensure they’ll stay invisible. And with great handling, it’ll get them through windy Sunset Bl. safely as they make their way down to the Pacific Ocean.

Do your guests want some flashy fun? Are they ready for their paparazzi-moment in L.A.? Get them a Ferrari F430 convertible. At around $3,000/day, this is when you remember the great time they showed you in New York a couple months ago. Don’t forget that dinner at The Waverly Inn, and we hope you did get that coveted reservation phone number so you can return another Saturday evening without having to deal with that dreaded cattle of new-money.

Didn’t get that reservation number? Then an Aston Martin Vantage Roadster will do just fine…$2,000/day, and stay away from the Cristal pleeze!

It wasn’t a threat; they actually traveled with their children? Pray the domestic was brought along. In this case, the Maserati Quattroporte is perfect to carry the herd. Just $700/day and the trunk will hold the damn stroller. It even comes in an automatic.

So here you go. For glamour, for survival or for return of a favor – these are the cars for your out-of-town guests. Now hurry; click the links below and get your assistant on the phone before they run out!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Hypocrisy of Hybrids

The Fans know good and well that your Pap is not taken by hybrid vehicles. In every high-end L.A. neighborhood, we see these hideous things being driven with self-righteous indignance and reflex-dumbing cell phone use. In an effort to look “green,” these individuals will often drive a hybrid, sacrificing style and luxury for what they believe will earn them social approval. But don’t you be fooled! Your Pap has the skinny on these wolves in sheep's clothing.

In L.A., where “faking-it-til-you-make-it” is as common as another day of hazy sunshine, who do you think are driving the $100k+ Mercedes CL, the Bentley Continental GTs and the like? Your Pap has seen many of these hyper-expensive luxury or entry-level exotics crammed into tight little Brentwood-adjacent carports or Santa Monica micro-condos south of Montana Avenue. These flashy cars often come to mind as your typical gas guzzlers, with their mps in the low teens. But before we give these “fake-it-til-you-make-it” babes any heat about their seeming environmental vendetta, let’s look at the situation closer. Their overall environmental footprint is actually quite small. Most of these people with the luxo-exotic cars are on a mileage restriction lease of 7,500 to 10,000 miles a year. They’re also living in sub-2,000 sq.ft. 2+2 rentals, condos or small houses with little amenities. And you can bet they do everything they can to cut back at home, like dimming lights, minimizing a/c usage and the like. These are the same people who would never drive something like a Toyota Prius because it would erode their affulence disguise.

Now take the hybrid-driver. What better disguise is there than a Prius for the moneyed living in sprawling Bel Air estates and Beverly Hills compounds. In households of 2-3 cars per person, you can bet a Prius conspiracy is afoot! With $200k+ exotic gas guzzlers tucked away in tastefully appointed and humidity-controlled garages, the Prius makes its appearance when the occasion calls for keeping up a “nice-guy” appearance like at Red Carpet events, philanthropic fundraisers and, well you get it! Meanwhile the Misses is shuttling herself and a very expensive Hermes crocodile Birkin around daily in an 8mpg English SUV or drophead coupe (we don’t need to mention the specific vehicle; you already know). So while the Prius is a different type of “keeping up appearances” its owners are leaving an environmental crater with their 10,000+ sq. ft. mansions, heated lap pools and lighted tennis courts…all for a family of 3-4. And believe your Pap, no mansion is being lit by fluorescent bulbs, thank you.

So before we attack the wannabes in their Astons and Bentleys, let’s put a magnifying glass to the Prius drivers! When you see a hybrid conspicuously parked in circular, gated driveway north of Sunset…well, you now know!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Location. Location. Location.

No we’re not talking about real estate; we are talking about cars named after places. Your Pap would like to take the Fans on a walk down Memory Lane, USA. Let’s have a quick look at several American car companies who have named cars after places. We’ve always had a silly fascination for these “worldly” cars and here is just a small sampling.

From the late 70s to early 90s, Chrysler gave us the “Fifth Avenue,” named after the glitzy street in Manhattan where the Fans aspire to keep a pied-a-terre overlooking the park. From 1979-1983 The Fifth Avenue began as a trim-level package offered on the existing Chrysler New Yorker and was called the New Yorker Fifth Avenue. The package included two-tone paint with matching leather interior and landau roof (for the young Fans out there, landau is a simulated convertible look with the roof of the car wrapped in vinyl…you would know this if you didn’t grow up in a household of Mercedes!). While this type of roof treatment seems odd to us today, it signified American luxury back then. Thankfully we’re not seeing this type of thing on even the gaudiest Cadillac DTS or Mercedes S-Class today! After 1983, the Fifth Avenue branched off as it’s own model, no longer a trim level, and got a body all to its own. The Fifth Avenue lasted until 1993, being the last of Chrysler’s V8, rear wheel drive sedan, until the 2005 introduction of the gangsta Chrysler 300...hollar!

Another fascinating name to come from Chrysler was Corinthian Leather. Do you mean leather from the Greek city-state Corinth dating back to antiquity? Nope! – this was a marketing term made up by Chrysler to describe a certain soft, luxurious leather used in Chryslers in the 70s and 80s. The name first appeared in 1974 on the Chrysler Imperial and later made famous by celebrity spokesperson Ricardo Montalban (from Fantasy Island; 10 p.m., right after Love Boat…ABC). With that accent and the way he rolled those rrrrrs, you almost believed Corinthian leather was a supple, exotic hide…from that Greek island. But in fact, there is no such leather as Corinthian leather, and it’s not from Corinth – it’s made in a factory in New Jersey!

Again using Manhattan geography, going a blocks east of Fifth, is Park Avenue…the Buick Park Avenue (1975-2005). Like the Fifth Avenue, the Park Avenue started off as a luxury trim level on another car, the Buick Electra. Not until 1991 did the Park Avenue became a standalone model. The Electra/Park Avenue was a full size, near-luxury car. We’re not sure how a posh New York street complements a car named after a Greek mythological character whose name was adopted to characterize a psychological concept – the Electra Complex. But then again, we don’t understand a lot of things about American cars.

Cadillac’s Eldorado, a large 2-door luxury coupe had a long run, from 1953-2002. For so many years, the Eldorado was the epitome of style and posh motoring. It had the appeal similar to what is today’s BMW 6-series or Mercedes CL. The name comes not from any actual locale, but rather a legendary city of gold in South American folklore. The story of Eldorado is that of European explorers discovering a place of immense riches, gold and jewels. But where is it exactly no one knows…not even Cadillac. Within the Eldorado lineup was the top-of-the line Eldorado Biarritz. Biarritz is the luxurious seaside resort town in southwestern France. Biarritz boasts some of the best beaches in Europe and is also a popular surf destination. The Eldorado Biarritz was a trim level offering even more luxury…again the landau roof with opera lights and velour or leather-covered pillowy seats with tufted buttons that remind your Pap of a furniture in grandpa’s library. We find the name a mismatch – an easy-breezy European coastal resort town doesn’t blend well with the car of a Texas millionaire in a white suit and bolo tie, does it?

Are the fans up to their eyeballs in confusion yet with all this tawk of old American cars? Well your Pap has just the thing to bring you back, right back to that ever so familiar 200ft. long driveway leading up to your Mapleton Drive estate, where you just might be parking your 2010 Ferrari California (your Pap has discussed in a previous posting). It’s an exotic hardtop convertible for daily-use. It’s great fun and frivolity! But just because it’s California casual all the way, this Ferrari doesn’t come cheap...we’re talking $200k+, but hey no problem – maybe you found Eldorado!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Paris Hilton is WISE!

Paris Hilton, one of L.A.’s most important, most respected and one of the most influential pillars of our community spoke a couple years ago about hybrids – a statement that was mocked. Those famous words heard throughout The Basin were: “I like hybrids, but a lot of them aren’t that cute.” Now here is a lovely young lady wise beyond her years, but the media hastily spun these insightful words as idiocy. Well your Pap agrees with Miz Hilton; and what a truism her words are!

In L.A., what individual is unable to recognize a truly beautiful car from a hideous one? True, one must train his eyes in order to recognize the difference. If you see enough that is beautiful, you start to recognize the ugly. And in L.A., a veritable concourse of beautiful cars, there’s plenty of opportunity to train the eye. You need only drive on the Sunset Strip; San Vicente Bl. to Ocean Ave.; or LaCienega from Wilshire to Sunset to see a continuous parade of beautiful and expensive cars. So what is there to attack in Miz Hilton’s statement? If anything, this is a plea to produce better looking environmentally friendly vehicles that will appeal to more people. We are sick of those Priuses stigmatizing our eyes, with its infiltration into every damn L.A. neighborhood!

So Paris, here’s something your Pap thinks you might like. It’s the electric-powered Tesla Roadster. A pretty convincing sports car that goes 0-60 in 3.9 seconds…that’s hot! The Tesla has been out for a couple years now and still, we’re not seeing them lined up in front of Sunset Plaza cafes like we see Ferraris and Lamborghinis. And while admittedly we may not rush out to trade in our Ferraris and Lamborghinis, the Tesla isn’t as much a concession as other environmentally friendly cars...and it looks pretty darn good. At around $100k and production numbers of just 1,500 planned for 2009, the Tesla is definitely L.A. Car Couture-approved. So here you have it, Paris. It may not be the Bentley Continental GTC or the Mercedes SLR you’ve been used to, but it sure is a lot cuter than that big ‘ol Chevy Yukon Hybrid we know you’ve purchased.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Some Weekend Celebrity Car-Stalking

Amy Winehouse’s BMW 7-series is as big a train wreck as the beehive-wearing singer and her drug troubles. Maybe she chose this car while seriously trippin’. Oh well, she could have done worse – she could have been getting out of a Porsche Cayenne or a BMW X6. Or maybe Miz Winehouse is just slumming it while in and out of rehab.

Is Vince Vaughn slumming it? Because pleeze, we know you’ve stashed plenty of money away from the wildly successful Wedding Crashers a few years back, followed by another $200+million grossing movie, The Break Up. So why the 90s Pontiac Firebird? And why are you getting your own gas!

Simon Cowell isn’t slumming it…he’s car couture all the way!...the $400k+ Rolls Phantom; the $1million+ Bugatti Veyron. Lawhd! Leave some for the rest of us…jeez!

A much more modest Kevin Costner is pictured here with his two Audis - an S8 and a Q7. Looks like Mr. Costner likes him some speed and 4-wheel drive…hence the “S” model with Quattro, of course. As for the Q7, this is one of those SUVs that never needed to be built. Based off the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Toureg and priced right in the middle, this middle child is often overlooked and totally forgettable. You might as well drive a Volvo. The boy in the Q7 pic is his son.

Here’s Dannon yogurt-living Jamie Lee Curtis and her Honda Clarity Hybrid (not widely available). They love to taunt your Pap by deliberately making these hybrids as hideous as possible. Bad styling on hybrids just won’t die and neither will Michael Meyers, it seems.

Here’s Ellen Degeneres, but where’s her preferred ride – a Porsche 911? Instead, she’s making a run to Real Food Daily in her Toyota FJ Cruiser. We love the outfit…matches well with the car. You look like you’re going fishing, Miz Degeneres…right on LaCienaga Bl. Oh those silly lez-beens with their cars and their wardrobes.

Friday, August 22, 2008

More Prius Irreverence

These mock ads were done by a clever graphic designer who obviously shares the some warm and fuzzy feeling for the Prius as your Pap. In a previous post, we discussed how inappropriate the Prius is for L.A., and your Pap still stands by that assertion! (click to enlarge pics...but your knew that.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mercedes Hair Dryer

The 2009 Mercedes SL features AIRSCARF:

AIRSCARF allows you to keep the roof down in cooler temperatures. A soothing stream of heated air to your neck, head, and shoulders helps take the bite out of chilly top-down conditions. With individual 3-stage temperature controls and airflow that automatically adjusts to your driving speed, you'll never want to put your roof up.

This feature has been on the $50,000 SLK for several years now. A nice feature, but aesthetically, your Pap thinks it’s poorly executed in the $100,000+ SL.

Why? Because those headrests now look hideaous – like salon hair dryers, and way too bulky. Then there’s the issue of the headrest being set too far forward, thereby pushing your head forward as well. Not only do you end up with the posture of an upright turtle, but it’s uncomfortable even in a short ride. Worst of all, you will find no dealer that stocks the new SLs without AIRSCARF!

Oh well, we were bound to find something terribly wrong with the new SL sooner or later.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The BMW Hydrogen 7:
a Lab Rat Your Pap Kinda Likes!

The Fans will recall your Pap’s dislike of the 7-Series as discussed in a prior posting. The main reason we don’t like the 7-Series is because it looks like a hideous alien ship and can never come close to being what a Mercedes S-Class is (the primary competitor of the 7-Series). But when BMW introduced the Hydrogen 7 a couple years ago, your Pap eased up a bit on the criticism, giving this hideous thing a chance. After all, it seems appropriate for a car that looks like a crazy science experiment to be a science experiment.

The Hydrogen 7 isn’t publicly available, but rather has been a test mule driven by celebrities for a couple years now. Of course, BMW chose high-profile individuals to drive the Hydrogen 7, making sure the car shows up at red carpet events, movie premieres and the like. Below, your Pap has found some pics of several participating celebrities. About a dozen Hydrogen 7s are in L.A., and eight more in New York.

So why is the 7-Series acceptable as a Hydrogen vehicle? – because the gasoline 7-Series (2002-2008) is a true failure and will go down in automotive history as one of the ugliest, gimmicky and controversial BMWs. So while this generation 7-Series never cut it as an executive luxury sedan, why not turn it into a lab rat. They did, and now you have the Hydrogen 7…a cool science experiment!...maybe Jack Nicholson was onto something when he conducted such an experiement by in the 70s.

It’s not that your Pap has a vendentta against the environment, it’s just that environmentally friendly cars currently available are all dogs! – as a car-lover, you give up way too much when you drive a Prius, for instance. And it’s not that we don’t want to do good things for the Earth, it’s just we’d rather write our donation checks to Greenpeace, Heal the Bay, The Nature Conservancy and the like in the comfort of our Bentley Continental GTC; our Lamborghini Gallardo; or our Aston Martin Vantage. Driving a hybrid is not the only way to help the environment, thank you.

But back to the Hydrogen 7. Well, at least it’s a properly equipped BMW; it’s comfortably sized; it has luxury amenities; and it’s a much more substantial car than the tinny Prius and other cheap “green” cars. If they gave one to your Pap, we’d gladly take one – great car for tooling around Venice, making Whole Foods runs and picking up take out from Real Food Daily…if you’re into that kinda stuff!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The New Manual (Automatic) Transmission –
Convenience or CASTRATION?

In a city where standing water breeds not mosquitoes, but babes famous-for-being-famous, things aren’t always what you’d expect. For instance, you would expect a Porsche 911 cruising the Sunset Strip to be a “stick.” You’d also expect manual transmissions on the Lamborghini Gallardo, Aston Martin Vantage or Ferrari F430. Not so! – most of these cars are not manual transmission anymore, but rather a very sophisticated automatic disguising itself as a manual transmission. That means even the biggest posers won’t find themselves shamefully grinding the gears as they pull away from Sky Bar. And that’s good news for those scenesters, but for the clutch-driving purists, these paddle-shifting transmissions are complete automotive castration.

Sure, these clever paddle-shifting transmissions boast fast shift times, which means the quickest 0-60 time possible for the car, and even more impressive when used in conjunction with Launch Control (your Pap has previously discussed this). But there’s much more to the enjoyment of a car than attaining the fastest shift time. Perhaps your Pap’s biggest beef about these paddle-shifting transmissions is (on some cars) removal of the shifter entirely, resulting in the aforementioned castration…all in the name of convenience – convenience in L.A. gridlock; convenience when driving and talking on the cell phone or while eating and drinking. In its wake is a crater, a cavity that no doubt former waitresses who’ve married wealthy men are now using to hold make-up brushes.

What an absolute travesty! Your Pap wants to know: what the hell are the Fans doing in these performance cars during the weekday commute. We hope that if you own an Aston Martin or Porsche, you have the resources to keep a proper commuter car and the requisite driver for this tedious commute that you can’t handle!

Below are photos that may shock you and may revile you, but the Fans must see the situation that has arisen. It is very real, and it is very upsetting. You have been warned!

First – you see a beautiful Aston Martin hand-hewn interior of luxurious leather and fine stitching. Before long, you notice the shifter is missing. In it’s place a bento box-type compartment to hold knick knacks and such; perhaps nicorette gum or the forgotten Motorola Razr phone.

In the next photo…a Ferrari F430. You see another example of aesthetic-terrorism. The manual transmission shifter long associated with a sports car has been removed. In its place, another cavity and a couple of buttons. Of particular note, a button that brazenly announces “Auto.” We are now starting to see a pattern, a signature unique to the perpetrator of these beautiful, pedigreed automobiles.

In the third picture…a Maserati Quattroporte (a family sedan). We would expect such a vehicle to have automatic transmission. But no, Maserati thinks this car is more than it really is. Instead, the traditional automatic shifter has been removed, and a paddle-shifting pseudo-manual transmission has taken its place. To add insult to injury, Maserati has installed a coat-hook type device in its place. Are we to grab hold of this during fast turns? What is the proper etiquette?…does the driver get to hold on to this nub or does the passenger grab hold during said fast turns? Or has your Pap been totally wrong…the handle actually marks a resting spot for your hat!

Your Pap apologizes if these pics have caused the Fans distress, but you must know the state of our automotive nation!

A final word: pleeze avoid these castrating paddle-shifting transmissions where at all possible. Because men, if you get a sports car with the paddle-shifters and then suddenly develop a need to own a Ford F-250 King Ranch or a Hummer H1, don’t come to your Pap for help!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Celebrity Car-Stalking

Here are some more celebrity car-stalking pics for the Fans. Hopefully this will be enough celebrity smut to get you through the weekend.

Posh and Becks have a fleet of impressive new cars. But when wanna tool around in a cheap/easy little cabriolet, they each have their own 911s. Both fully customized. In usual footballer fashion, we would expect embroidered monogramming on all headrests.

Patrick Dempsey also has a Carrera – the racy 911 GT3-R. The doctor likes a fast car!

Hayden Panettiere has a very different kind of Porsche. It’s the deplorable and brand-shaming Cayenne. Few SUVs are as unattractive and pointless as this dreaded Porsche. What was Ms. Panettiere thinking…perhaps papa-Panettiere should have slapped Hayden across the face instead of her mother. Has she redeemed herself? We see her getting out of a yellow Lamborghini Gallardo in the next pic.

Another lady, another Lamborghini…here’s Danica Patrick gassing up her Gallardo in a beautiful silver-tone color. Your Pap likes!

Sharing the same great chassis and components with the Gallardo is the R8 – and here’s Hugh Grant getting out of his. We believe tranny-hooker-loving Mr. Grant traded in his Bentley Continental GT last year and picked this car up. The seats in the Bentley were crushing his his balls and hurting his back…Yes, for real!

A more comfortable if less attractive Bentley is the Continental GT Flying Spur, with Ryan Seacrest as the owner. Look at those huge black rims – hmmm…not sure about that!

We prefer you leaving the Continental GT Flying Spur as is. After all, it’s just a family car…suitable for a baby and motoring at speeds up to 200 mph. For new-parents Nicole Richie and Joel Madden the Flying Spur seems great for a quick trip to Whole Foods.