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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Dear Hugh Hefner, I’m Sorry I Snuck Into Your House



Dear Hugh Hefner, I’m Sorry I Snuck Into Your House
by Marrs

It was the spring of 2002 and I was entertaining visitors from Canada who were guests in my home in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles. While coming back from a late lunch, our mutual attention was grabbed by a new Bentley Arnage outfitted with “Gumball 3000” decals and emblazoned with sponsors, followed closely by a likewise-liveried Ferrari, then another exotic and another followed until this less-than-subtle convoy passed by completely. My guests had no idea what was going on as I whipped my supercharged Mercedes W202 around right there in the middle of Hollywood Blvd., and gave chase. We didn't travel far, stopping at a hotel near the Hollywood & Highland shopping mall at that same storied intersection. We parked and approached a large group of douchily-dressed Eurotrash and new-monied young Americans, who began surrounding a table helmed by a serious-looking woman with a clipboard. Clipboards are never good people. 

One of my friends snagged a pamphlet from the table and we soon realized we were at the very last stop of that year’s Gumball 3000 cross-country rally, this one from NYC to LA, and here we observed preparations for the teams to receive their invites to the closing event to be held at the Playboy Mansion. The pamphlet turned out to be the official route book, issued to every team, and each contained a page for every stop along the way where the route book would receive an official stamp indicating the successful completion of that stage. Without ALL of these stamps, there was no entry to the party.


At the time, I was working with a Director friend on various types of documentaries, ranging from band expose´s to following around crime scene cleanup crews, so the concept of making our way past those infamous Playboy Mansion gates to record the debauchery within, even in a less-than-authorized manner, was an overwhelming urge. I called my Director buddy, (I’ll use initials only for the sake of their privacy) “V”, and another friend, “R”, who I knew as a McGuyver-like entity from my younger days who could sham, scam, or scheme his way into anywhere. While V worked to assemble the necessary camera and sound equipment, R arrived at the hotel and we begun to plot out entry into this party.

In short order, we had a plan. I walked up to the table lady and asked for my credentials, with R standing just behind her and peeking over her shoulder. As she searched the list for my name, he scanned the pages for a name he could make out and remember. After a few minutes she apologized but dismissed me as unwelcome without being on the sacred list. I sulked but walked away, knowing we already had a path forward. I reconvened with R on the sidelines and he gave me the name of some reporter he noticed on the “Press” list, which was perfect since we would be carrying around cameras and a boom mic. One major problem still stood in our way, we didn't have the stamps. R said, “I’ve got this” and disappeared for about an hour while I waited for V to arrive with our equipment.

Our Canadian guests were taken back to my place where they would be less bored, and more importantly, where they could act as our “get out of jail” card should things go totally sideways. Would the Hollywood police station even accept Monopoly money? 

By this time, shuttle buses were arriving to take guests the 20-minute drive to the far end of Beverly Hills where the Mansion sits, bordering Bel Air, and just as we began to wonder if this was going to even work at all, R showed up with a smile as big as the Hollywood Hills themselves. He proudly opened the route book to show that it was now completely stamped from beginning to end. I asked how the Hell did he manage this trick and he producer a large art eraser that he had meticulously carved into the shape of the official seal, broke open several various colored ink pens, and then used their contents to stamp each page with the correct color. Damn, was he ever the man for this job! 
This time V approached and used the booklet to obtain passes for us, acting as the camera and sound guys, and even managed to grab a coveted third invite for our “field producer.”


We boarded the shuttle van without incident, and thankfully the rally participants were already too far down the path of intoxication to note our presence, busy boasting, catcalling other attendees, and generally speaking far louder than they realized as rich, drunk assholes are wont to do. 

As we passed through the heavily secured gates of the Playboy Mansion the air of infamy set upon us as the main house came into view, elegantly lighted on a warm spring evening. We disembarked up front where a semi-circle of exotics bordered a massive fountain, and walked through a patio area towards the famous Grotto where the sound of music and cast of multi-colored lights lured us. On the way, Steve-O, still riding high at the time as a star of MTV’s Jackass show, saw our cameras and couldn’t resist talking to us. R, V, and I all looked at one-another and we powered up our equipment and started to film. “This is it, we’re doing this” I thought to myself. Steve-O was pretty trashed already and proceeded to explain to us that “the only thing better then being invited to the Playboy Mansion was getting kicked out of the Playboy Mansion.” I don’t know how all that worked out for him. 

We moved ahead, spotting big stars and unknowns alike who perfectly captured the popular cultural tone of the era (Matthew McConaughey, Rachael Hunter, Donna Karen who made the cross-continental trek in a specially prepped Checker Cab in full NYC livery), while large-tittied women bounced around as participating men covered their awkward boners. Clothing was piled up outside the hidden Grotto pool area, who’s main access door was now shut so that the den of decadence was only accessible by swimming under a concrete span. We opted against this for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was a fear of getting stranger’s semen in our equipment and faces. 
As V filmed and I ran sound, R wandered the property. We would bump into each other throughout the evening and R explained how he happened across the private zoo that Hef maintained and we wandered around as much as we could get away with, just making it into the house to ummm, look for the bathroom, before being politely ushered back out with a stern but helpful, “the party is this way sir.”


We ate some food, filmed some fools, and surprisingly started to become rather bored. The Playboy Mansion, from what we encountered, was much like Hugh Hefner himself; old, tired, outdated, with only just enough maintenance to keep it from ceasing to exist altogether. We were fairly unimpressed and decided we had the footage and experience we had hoped for and so grabbed the next shuttle ride back to the hotel.

The footage? Well we never really got enough to do anything with it, let alone the fact that we didn't have releases signed by the attendees, so it made it’s way to V’s Director’s Reel and that’s about it. The story has lived on however, famously so among my friends and acquaintances, and the one you’re reading now was inspired by one of those visiting Canadians at that time, who texted me the day after Hef died and said, “sorry about your good friend Mr. Hefner.” 

So, if you’re seeing this Hef, I am sorry for sneaking into your home, but I feel like you would have appreciated the effort it took to do so.


















All Photos: Wikimedia Commons

Friday, September 8, 2017

An American Puta in Punta Cana

 

An American Puta in Punta Cana

by Evan Paul

-Dominican Republic
Hopping off the 737 into the sticky heat of the Dominican sun, the unfamiliar landscape captured me for a few moments. But inevitably, my eyes drifted to my vehicular surroundings just as the gaze of a forty-something middle-classman drifts to the chest of the young waitress at a sports bar. An oddly shaped Leyland with half the cab cut away was the first to catch my gaze. Chuckling to myself, I snapped a picture and moved along with a distant hope that the automotive landscape would arouse my interests.

Departure from customs led into a lobby where dozens of employees tried to sham us into paying for a ride in their poorly maintained vans. Stopping us every two or three steps, these shysters were incredibly desperate to pocket a few pesos. I wasn’t having any of that shit. We muscled our way through the sweaty crowds and hopped into our private Hyundai H-1, which sported a stick shift much to my delight.

Screaming onto the highway with as many revs as the little diesel could muster, we merged into a sea of Hiluxes, HiAces, and many people who drove like they were high. I tried in vain to score a few photos through the strange mesh sun-screen that was peeling off the side glass. The hustle and bustle of the luggage area prevented me from grabbing a snapshot of the humble Hyundai as we gathered our belongings, but I was determined to get a few good shots during our stay.

I held up the whole gang as I stopped to scan the surrounding parking lots, grinding to a halt without notice in order to capture a few tidbits of automotive obscurity. I spent a couple days unhealthily eyeing a “customized” HiAce at the resort entrance before gathering the balls to walk over and take a picture. Despite the locals’ strange glares and my first hangover kicking in at 9am, I walked back to the air conditioned lobby with a smile on my face and my phone in hand.

The few times we left the resort, the automotive wilderness left my retinas in sorry shape. One car rental company in particular shamelessly plugged Shelby Super Snakes on their billboard while directly below lay a singular Mustang GT with a full on AutoZone chrome treatment. Stick on trim was a recurring theme, as well as tape stripes and “custom” badging.

Since our parasailing got cancelled due to weather and I got to keep my lunch, we signed up for an off road excursion instead. I had no idea what I was in for, but the prospect of whipping some sort buggy got my heart racing. The chance to make my friend scream in fear from the passenger seat put a stupid grin on my face.

The 4Runner shuttle hurried us through the city streets and stopped on the edge of a highway, where we boarded on a tired flatbed cabover that had some glorified park benches and scaffolding loosely attached to the rear. A near hour long voyage to the middle of nowhere left me confused and excited, ready to drive whatever poorly maintained contraption my fifty dollar payment allowed me to get my hands on.

I took the hot seat for the first leg of the trip, explaining the controls to my less car savvy copilot. The group leaders started the buggy by jumping a couple wires together, and after affixing our seatbelts (read: ropes) we were on our way. Giving myself a good forty feet of space between myself and the next buggy in line, I gave it the beans right from the start much to my friend’s discontent. Mud puddles were met with full throttle, soiling my glasses and my copilot’s shorts.

Due to the inebriated state of several buggy drivers, the whole group was ground to a halt every forty five seconds or so during the rough patches of terrain. Instead of waiting patiently and quietly, my eighteen-year old self thought it would be wise to repeatedly slam the gas pedal to the floor, showering the poor sap behind us with the smell of burning oil and excitement. This poor sap turned out to be my friend’s dad and his six year old sister, but that did not put a damper on my self-titled position as “Rev-It-Up Randy” for the day.

Neutral drops did not escape my mind, but the N-R-D shift pattern protested my hooligan driving tactics. A loud clicking sound accompanied by a jolt forward was the less than stellar result of my transmission torture, but the sorry thing soldiered on without a hitch.

On the way back from the gorgeous beach that marked the turnaround point, my friend and I switched roles. Hesitant to lay into it at first, he gave into to peer pressure and drove just as hard as I did during my stint at the wheel. My back was taking a beating from the hard plastic seats and sagging suspension, but that was a "tomorrow problem" in my mind.

Halfway back to the starting point, the lead buggy ran out of gas. Our buggy happened to be the closest one to them, so they decided to siphon a bit from ours. A perfectly reasonable idea, but the execution not so much. Filling up a used water bottle to the brim, roughly a third of our fuel survived the perilous three steps between our tank and theirs. They didn’t stop with just one bottle; over a liter and a half later they decided to call it quits.

Shockingly, our buggy sputtered and stopped not ninety seconds up the path, and the non-English speaking tour guide frustratingly tried to start our engine to no avail. Perhaps the concept of an empty fuel tank escaped his mind, but his frustration transferred over to my friend who took the helm of a spare buggy that was luckily a few paces from where our original buggy gave up the ghost. This spare buggy had chunks of the tire flapping in the breeze with belts clearly visible, and the steering wheel took more turns lock-to-lock that I can count on my fingers.

Unintelligible instructions and rickety controls drove my friend insane, so he finally gave in and let me make up time on the final leg of the journey. A full throttle sprint in this death trap had me laughing like a madman, wafting and bouncing dangerously close to a full blown crash. Sweating and smiling upon our return to the starting point, my distraught passenger did not share my laughter at the blatant disregard for routine vehicular maintenance. Several days later waiting to board the flight home, my body was still screaming for mercy while my heart remained set on hauling ass in an open wheeled monstrosity at any chance I could get.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Do Robot Drivers Dream of Electric E-Types?


JAGUAR E-TYPE ZERO:
“THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ELECTRIC CAR IN THE WORLD”
  • Jaguar Land Rover Classic electrifies the past with an inventive Jaguar E-type sports car featuring fully electric powertrain
  • Acclaimed by Enzo Ferrari as “the most beautiful car in the world”, the Jaguar E-type now combines breathtaking beauty with zero emissions for the first time
  • E-type Zero is based on 1968 Series 1.5 Jaguar E-type Roadster, and features a cutting-edge electric powertrain enabling 0-62mph in just 5.5 seconds
  • Engineered by Jaguar Land Rover Classic at company’s new ‘Classic Works’ in Warwickshire, UK
  • E-type Zero makes world debut during Jaguar Land Rover Tech Fest at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. The event begins with a media preview on 7 September and is open to public visitors from 8-10 September 
  • E-Type Zero will sit alongside the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE, which goes on sale in 2018

Ryton-on-Dunsmore, 7 September 2017 – Jaguar Land Rover Classic is presenting an electric-powered Jaguar E-type at the Jaguar Land Rover Tech Fest, which opens to the public on 8 September in London. The car, known as E-type Zero, has been restored and converted at Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works in Coventry, not far from where the E-type was born. 

“E-type Zero combines the renowned E-type dynamic experience with enhanced performance through electrification. This unique combination creates a breathtaking driving sensation." -Tim Hannig, Director, Jaguar Land Rover Classic

“Our aim with E-type Zero is to future-proof classic car ownership. We’re looking forward to the reaction of our clients as we investigate bringing this concept to market.”

The Jaguar E-type Zero not only drives and looks like an E-type, it also offers outstanding performance. It’s quicker than an original E-type: 0-100km/h (62mph) takes only 5.5sec, about one second quicker than a Series 1 E-type. 

“In order to seamlessly combine the new electric powertrain of E-type Zero with the dynamic set-up of the original E-type specification, we have limited the vehicle’s power output. We believe this provides the optimum driving experience.”


The E-type Zero vehicle, displayed at Tech Fest, is a restored Series 1.5 Roadster. It’s totally original in specification, apart from its 21st century state-of-the-art powertrain and modified instrumentation and facia – although these are also inspired by the original E-type. LED headlights are also used to achieve energy efficiency. Again, they adopt the styling theme of the original Series 1 E-type.

Bespoke electric powertrain
An electric powertrain developing 220kW has been specially designed for the E-type Zero. Its lithium-ion battery pack has the same dimensions, and similar weight, to the XK six-cylinder engine used in the original E-type. The experts responsible for developing the electric powertrain have ensured it will be placed in precisely the same location as the XK engine. The electric motor (and reduction gear) lies just behind the battery pack, in the same location as the E-type’s gearbox. A new propshaft sends power to a carry-over differential and final drive. Total weight is 46kg lower than the original E-type.

Using an electric powertrain with similar weight and dimensions to the outgoing petrol engine and transmission means the car’s structure, including suspension and brakes, has not changed, simplifying the conversion and homologation. It drives, handles, rides and brakes like an original E-type. Front-rear weight distribution is unchanged.

“We have integrated the new electric powertrain into the existing E-type structure, which means a conventional engine could be reinstalled at any point. We think this is essential as it ensures a period Jaguar remains authentic to its DNA.” 

The XK six-cylinder engine was made from 1949 until 1992, and was fitted to nearly all iconic Jaguar models of that period, including the E-type, XK120, Mk2 and XJ6. The new electric powertrain could be used in any of these vehicles. 

“We could use this technology to transform any classic XK-engine Jaguar.” 

‘The most beautiful car ever made’
The E-type, launched in 1961, has regularly been voted the best-looking car of all time. Even Enzo Ferrari called it "the most beautiful car ever made”.

E-type Zero’s unique electric powertrain was developed by an electric powertrain specialist in conjunction with Jaguar Land Rover engineers and to a specific brief from Jaguar Land Rover Classic. It uses some technology and components borrowed from the upcoming I-PACE, Jaguar Land Rover’s first production all-electric vehicle.

The E-type Zero has a ‘real world’ range of 270km (about 170 miles), helped by the low weight and good aerodynamics. It uses a 40kWh battery, which can be recharged from home overnight (typically in six to seven hours, depending on power source).

The Jaguar Land Rover Tech Fest, where the electric Jaguar E-type is unveiled, is being held at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. The media day is 7 September and it is open to the public from 8-10 September.




Thursday, August 31, 2017

Rare Bentley Empress by Hooper For Sale In San Diego


Here's a car that is as polarizing of opinions as it is rare, the Hooper-bodied Empress II based on a Bentley Turbo R. The original ad includes a good amount of detail on the original build so we're including it below.

During the time this car was originally on offer, Hooper only made four models, this one, an extended wheelbase limousine in various configurations, a two-door Silver Spirit, and a two-door Turbo R. The Empress II was the only car to receive a fully reworked body whereas the others made due with lengthening or shortening of the chassis and relevant door sections.

The original invoice shown below indicates a total cost of exactly $500,000, broken down into two charges, one of $90,000 for the Turbo R upon which the car was based, and an astonishing $410,000 for the conversion process. It further indicates a total build time of 8-months from order date of June 1st, 1990 to delivery or March 1st, 1991.

Sure it's expensive at $175,000, but where are you gonna find another one?


1990 BENTLEY Hooper Empress II Blue/Blue 


"This is an extremely rare Bentley Hooper Empress, 1 of only 6 made.
Based on the Turbo R, this Bentley is striking and refined.

These were $650,000 when new (which equates to approximately $1,000,000 in today's money!)

It started life as a U.S. spec Turbo R before being commissioned by Hooper & Co. to do the 500,000 pound conversion for it's then Japanese Dr. owner.

It has been maintained extremely well and drives as it should, and very strong.

- Clean & Clear CA Title
- Dark Blue exterior with Dark Blue Connelly Leather interior
- 6.75L Turbo V8
- Automatic Transmission
- Hooper Convertsion (500,000 pounds): Opera rear window, Red 'B' logo,Glass solar protected fixed panel over front seats,
Stainless steel wheel arch surrounds thin style, body sills, infills to front and rear bumpers and rear light, rear number plate surround, sill plate "European Carriage House & Hooper", Bumper and wipers painted in black, Chrome alloy wheels, Front spoiler colour keyed to body colour, Badge bar, Hooper style console fitted between front seats with rolls top to rear of console, finished in black leather, Cocktail cabinet fitted between rear seats housing, two cut glass decanters, one ice bucket and four cut glass drinking tumblers, with mirrors illuminated when lid opened, Hallmarked sterling silver ladies vanity unit, accessories by the Queens Jewelers Asprey of London, Alpine all-in-one CD & radio cassette, multi change CD in boot compartment with remote control, 2 x 3554 amplifier, cassette storage to both door panels.

If you are a Bentley fan or looking for something very unique and majestic, this is a great choice."













(Photos/text: Copyright; Vehicle Owner)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

22 Year Love Affair With A Blue 1966 Ford Thunderbird


1966 Ford Thunderbird
Story and Photos by Mike Spicer
When talking about old cars my friend Dale Matthews always says “Understanding Is Not Required!”. Which explains why I started hunting for a Ford Thunderbird immediately after graduating from the University Of Oregon.

One of the best parts of getting an old car is “The Hunt". Meeting interesting people, going to places you could never imagine just to see a car. After looking at several 1964-66 Thunderbirds I stumbled on a blue 1966 Ford Thunderbird Landau at the Portland swap meet.

1966 Ford Thunderbird
I was pretty inexperienced but could sense there was a buzz around this car. People were all around checking it out as I sat alone in the driver seat with the doors closed going through the aircraft inspired interior. When I emerged from the car I walked past the swarm of people up to the owner and in an adrenaline infused state of temporary insanity I said “I’ll take it”.

1966 Ford Thunderbird 1966 Ford Thunderbird 1966 Ford Thunderbird
Filled with a mix of excitement and uncertainty I drove the car out of the swap meet catching smiles along the way and headed home. I was experiencing a very new feeling and I liked it.

1966 Ford Thunderbird 1966 Ford Thunderbird
Bought new in Portland Oregon the original owner’s son brought the car to the swap meet since his dad couldn’t drive any more. After owning the car for a while I noticed how well it had been cared for. I was pretty lucky stumbling on an incredibly original car in amazing condition with no car buying skill at all.

1966 Ford Thunderbird 1966 Ford Thunderbird 1966 Ford Thunderbird
I enjoyed driving the Bird for years. The rear seat is referred to as “the lounge” and you can see why. I often thought of the original owner as I babied it and made sure it was parked indoors at all times.

1966 Ford Thunderbird
After 22 years of enjoyment I decided to let her go. You never forget your first love and every time I see a 1966 Thunderbird I feel like a kid again ready to take the blind plunge into classic car ownership, and it feels good.

Story courtesy of Spicer Collector Car Profile
See story on Jalopnik here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Is it Weird that I Don't Like Supercars?



Is it Weird that I Don't Like Supercars?

by Marrs

First of all, that thing up there. That’s what the folks who made it over at Aston Martin call the Valkyrie. What am I supposed to do with that???

I'm the kind of guy who prefers Grand Tourers over Sports Cars. I like luxury cars, cars that shift themselves... ever heard of a Cadillac Eldorado?

My first car was a '57 Cadillac, followed by a '76 Jaguar XJ6 (famously soliloquied here) and then I was somehow lured into Porsche 944 ownership before diving into the world of Merkur in the form of two Scorpios, one for parts in the pre-internet days. The Porsche was not my idea, it was a family hand-me-down first owned by my older sister, then my parents who never drove it. I maybe drove it twice. To much shifty-shifty and no room for my friends in the nominal +2 seats hiding out behind the driver and passenger. My primary car today is a 1962 Mercedes-Benz 220se, and while this one is a coupe rather than my clearly-preferred sedans, it rides, drives and feels like the cars I favor.



Next up, that thing up there. What am I supposed to do with that? There's not much vision, which would seem like a useful thing to have at 250-MPH, but heck I guess people will tell me you really only need to see what's right in front of you, which clearly is total bullshit because at higher speeds all those things existing out there in the real world, deer, errant beach balls, Bernie Ecclestone, could all come running out of the hedge at any moment and your reaction time would be much less, except... nobody can drive these cars to their full potential on public roadways. Point being, I have a better view of the road from the inside of my glove box than is offered by the Valkyrie. "Luggage? What's that?" might be the response from many supercar owners as they lift a patio-sized carbon fiber panel to reveal a carpeted box that approximates the size and shape of the smallest Chipotle burrito you've ever been served.

The '62 Benz coupe I mentioned earlier has as much visibility as the deck of an aircraft carrier and with a trunk large enough to carry probably half the number of planes. No joke, I measured. You still have to fold the wings up but they will fit in there!



Now this is the really freaky part to me, see how you can look right through the bodywork on this car, sorta like how you can see through the rear haunches on the new Ford GT? I know the thin bit of fender steel doesn't do much in the way of providing protection but this would just make me feel like my legs were dangling out from the bottom of an inner tube, waiting to be bitten off by a hammerhead shark, or in this instance, a deep curb.

How do you repair these things? When even a Bugatti needs to be shipped back to Mother-France just for a set of new tires, it makes you ponder the downtime, cost and final feasibility of the repair if your half-resin go-kart kits a Camry on it's way out of Costco. Yes, rich people shop at Costco, it's easier to keep your existing money than to make more.

Where do you drive these things to? Not the grocery store, no room for the groceries. Not to the bank, they will surely flag you for investigation for insider trading. Not your in-laws, least you be inundated with requests for a "small, $4-million loan" despite protestations that "I'm good for it!"

These cars were made to be featured in video games where you can switch to a God's eye view, don't need to stow anything whatsoever, and crashes can be fixed with a simple press of a button.

Nah, I'll stick with my old man car and be happy doing it.




Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Here's Your Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational Super Gallery; Part 1

 
This past weekend hundreds of vintage race cars and motorcycles of all description invaded the infamous Indianapolis Motor Speedway (home of the Indy 500) to toss some steel, glass, and rubber around the corners as part of the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational.

We were fortunate to have our long-time associate, car enthusiast, and master photographer, Ryan Hornsby, on hand to capture this moment for the history books. This is part one in a two part series.

Enjoy this super-sized gallery of 130+ pics and let us know what cars or bikes are your favorite!





 
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