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The 2014 Chicago Auto Show: American Muscle

2014 and 2015 are poised to be big years for American Muscle cars. Chevrolet rolled out the new C7 Corvette as a 2014 model but ’15 brings it’s biger, bolder, stronger brother: the Z06.

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Also on display, the new Camaro Z/28, one of the most exciting cars for us to see at the show. The Z/28 wore a VIN # that decoded to 2012 however, causing us to wonder if the Z show car was in fact the real deal, or an SS with new clothes. Maybe an early test car? Someone at GM knows the answer, but that someone is not us. Nonetheless, the car looks AWESOME in black with its wide fender flares, aggressive aerodynamics, and front splitter that is just waiting to tear up the straight at Gingerman or rip itself off on the first parking curb you inch too close to. Inside the Recaro seats look quite inviting as does the traditional H-pattern 6-speed gearbox, no flappy-paddles here.

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New for ’15 is a completely redesigned Ford Mustang. We like it’s new look and are excited about the prospects of what the GT-500 and *gulp* GT-350 might look like. Yellow seemed to be a big color theme in this year’s show, the sign of a new trend? We like the more bulging hood with bold body lines and vents up top.

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It will be interesting to see what happens with the Viper in ’15 with high prices and resultant bad sales numbers taking its toll on the SRT flagship. We hope it can hold on long enough for a rebound and have always loved its unique look and no BS attitude about straight line performance.

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Last but not least, Cadillac brought back its Black Diamond CTS-V wagon. We love big power wagons and are told that on a track the wagon is the best / most balanced of the three (wagon, sedan, coupe). Unlike other “power wagons” the V is available in your choice of a 6-speed manual or paddle shift automatic and we appreciate the option. We were, however, surprised to see it here, hoping to catch a glimpse of the forthcoming new model CTS-V. This body style was phased out 2 years ago but sticks around only in the V trim…for now. It may be collectable if the new version doesn’t come with a wagon or stick shift option so buy it and 100 lbs of metal flake, while you can!

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Looking for more American Muscle? Check out this post: The 2014 Chicago Auto Show: Because Racecar

 

 

 

 

 

Bucket list: Trip to Nurburgring Nordschleife

SCS Attendee Rich crosses one off the bucket list:

Trip to Nurburgring Nordschleife

Rich has been following SCS since its inaugural season. With previous employment in the automotive industry he knows his way around a car. As life goes on we must make changes, for Rich that meant leaving behind the automotive industry for new ventures. Luckily for him his passion for things with wheels still lives on and when he can get away to enjoy that he takes full advantage of it.

Words by: Rich

This past summer my work travels took me to Frankfurt Germany for the tri-annual Achema Show. What seemed like a trip to not so exciting pharmaceutical trade show turned into a trip of a lifetime!

Before departing for Achema I was offered time off during the show to roam Germany. This could mean only one thing; a trip to Nürburgring! For those of you who are not familiar with the automotive world, Nürburgring is the automotive mecca; the top destinations for any enthusiast. This was an opportunity to check an item off my bucket list and fulfill a long time dream of driving the green hell!

Quickly I began researching the ins and outs of the trip and what it takes to drive the ring. Nurgburgring.uk  proved to be a goldmine of information and is a must visit site for anyone planning a trip there. I contacted Rent4Ring and RSR Nürburgring about the possibility of renting a track prepped car for laps on the ring, both of the companies were extremely helpful. RSR even had an U.S. representative give me a call to further explain some of the packages and answer any questions I might have. Needless to say I highly recommend contacting either Dale Lomas @ Rent4Ring or Antony Ashley @ RSR for Nurburgring vehicle arrangements. Dale also happens to run the all things Nurburgring blog Bridge To Gantry.

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So there I was arriving at the ring. Ask anyone familiar with the place and they’ll tell you that weather is simply unpredictable at the track. The original plan of driving on day one and roaming the area to take some pictures  on day two went out the window. A  cloud had settled on the track delivering rainy conditions and practically zero visibility.

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The weather forced the officials to close the track and it looked like it was going to stay that way for the length of my trip. I couldn’t believe that I made it all the way out here only to be defeated by the weather!

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Luckily there was still plenty to see at the ring…

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including the Ringwerks museum filled with some pretty iconic race vehicles.

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DTM cars have always fascinated me, the aero on this Opel Calibra is no joke

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The place is just filled with race car eye candy

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including some late model F1 cars

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The iconic 1984 Mercedes Benz 190E 2.3-16s,- this was the vehicle that put the spot light on Senna!

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Michael Schumacher’s Benetton Camel Ford F1 car

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Can you imagine having to fiddle with all of the adjustments and concentrate on driving?

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The dissected BMW F1 car was one of my favorite displays in the museum.

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Yup, Europeans race trucks too, youtube European truck racing; those things are insane!

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This shot of the BMW M3 race car concludes Day 1 pictures of my trip. I wish I could have taken my a time and tour the area more; however rain and zero visibility made it impossible to see anything let alone take any pictures.

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Luckily the weather did let up the next day and it seemed like I might get a chance to drive after all. My day started with a 9am appointment at RSR for the RSR Nurburgring road tour…

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A lovely Lotus Exige S was waiting for me!

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This is definitely a view I could get used to!

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The tour takes place on the amazing mountain roads around the Nurburgring. Luckily for me I was the only customer on the tour that morning so Antony took his time to show me both the historic places and some good viewing corners on the track. He drove the blue Exige and had me follow in the white one;  keeping up with him was not easy :D

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The tour gave ma chance to take a few quick snaps of the test cars lapping the Nordschleife.

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It didn’t take long to spot some new cars…

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The 2013 SL500 looked quite good.

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Oddly enough there were a lot of SUVs being tested that day.

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A new 911 Carrera made the mix…

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as well  as an Aventador, the sound of this car was pure music to my ears.

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Jaguar had plenty of cars out on the ring

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It was really cool watching the cars battle the Green Hell

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A Jaguar with fender flares?

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BMW 7 series looked quite composed on the track

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You could tell the cars were being pushed

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we even spotted some friendly competition between the test drivers.

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While at the track I ran into some familiar faces; meet Jessi and Patrick from Autoblog’s The List! I’ve been following the web series since the begging and I instantly recognized Jessi & Patrick. Meeting them made my trip even that more exciting and I am super stoked to see their web-series turn into a TV show.

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This ultra quiet R8 sneaked up on me

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I must say it was quite odd seeing the car at speed without the sound of a roaring engine.

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Unfortunately my time on the tour ran out and it was time to return the Exiege back to RSR. Big thanks to Antony for the tour!

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I left RSR still wanting to drive the ring; however the Exige S is way to much of a car for my first time out on the Nordschleife. Luckily Dale from Rent 4Ring called to let me know that the MX5 I had reserved the day before was available for the public session that afternoon. I postponed my drive back to Frankfurt and jumped on the opportunity to finally drive the  famous Nurburgring Nordschleife!

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a shot of me in action from  NURBURGRING-PHOTOS.COM

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I found the pictures on  ringportal.nl , a great resource with a list of all nurburgring photographers and available galleries indexed by  dates.

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While in the paddock I ran into Jessi & Patrick again, this time in the company of the  “Queen of the Nürburgring” herself, the one and only Sabine Schmitz! Meeting Sabine absolutely made  my Nurburgring trip am experience I will cherish for the rest of my days.

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I even surprised Dale with returning the car free of any damages. He mentioned I was among very few customers who they’ve let take the MX5 out on their fist ring outing. I even got to sign one of the doors in their showroom to commemorate my trip!  Unfortunately I do not have any video of my driving the ring, but I can defiantly tell you that the planing for the next trip has already started!

Thanks For reading.

Rich