Cocktail Chatter: July 26, 2013

Automobile Staff
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What cocktails go best with all this car chatter? Automobilemag.com is here to help with weekly recipes. Remember, this is for talking about cars, not driving — always designate a driver. This week’s cocktail comes from contributor Ronald Ahrens, who discovered the Sunnylands Spritzer in his local newspaper, the Desert Sun. In a cocktail shaker combine 3 ounces Champagne, 1 ounce Domaine De Canton ginger liquor, 1.5 ounces Absolut Kurant vodka, 1 ounce Lindemans Framboise raspberry lambic, 1.5 ounces sweet and sour mix, and some ice. Shake the mixture gently, taking care not to release all the carbonation from the lambic and Champagne. Pour into a glass and garnish with a cherry and lime twist if desired.

Ahrens reminds us that President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at the Sunnylands earlier this month. He suggest if they had a couple of these spritzers together, bilateral relations ought to be on the upswing.

Heart On His, Uh, Ankle: I met someone who has a small collection of Alfa Romeo and BMW cars, and learned he is so enamored with the European brands that he has their logos tattooed on his ankles. When you're willing to have an automaker's emblem painfully and permanently etched into your skin, you know you're a big car fan. More importantly, though, that limits his future car choices. I joked that he couldn't ever show up in, say, a Hyundai lest people make fun of him. "Oh no, no, I could never drive anything else," he agreed.

Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor

Toyota’s Hot Wheels: When I was a kid, my toy car collection was my prized possession. So you can imagine my fascination when I came across these pictures of Toyota’s own collection of one/fifth scale models at the Toyota Automobile Museum in Japan. These incredible models are more than just toys, though: they come from the Toyota Design Center and include an unbelievable amount of detail, right down to interior knobs and buttons and even accurate wheels and tires. Toyota may get a bad rap nowadays for building boring cars, but take a peek through these photos and you may be surprised by these pristine examples of the company’s rich history and engineering precision.

Joseph Capparella, Associate Web Editor

Royal Car Seat Makes Headlines: With all of the hoopla over the birth of the Royal Baby this week, one of the simplest acts of the royal birth surprisingly caused quite a stir. Apparently, there is talk that the Royal Baby's car seat was not properly secured after Prince William loaded the child into his black Range Rover. Making sure infants and toddlers are properly seated in car seats is an issue that definitely shouldn't be taken lightly. However, the internet's buzz over the incident and the fact that the Huffington Post wrote an entire article (and even reached out to the car seat manufacturer for comment) makes me want to quit the internet for the rest of the week.

John Kalmar, Graphic Designer

NASCAR gets dirty: I've attended the Indy 500, the Daytona 500, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, among a number of less famous but still exciting races including the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, Sno*Drift, and the Pure Michigan 400. I enjoy watching a variety of races in person, but I rarely find time in my schedule to do so. Wednesday night was a rare occasion when I definitely wished that I was at the track. Eldora Speedway, in extremely rural Ohio, has done a great job of bringing dirt-track racing into national focus (consider the 2005-2012 Prelude to the Dream and the 2003 Mopar Million). Eldora track owner Tony Stewart completed a major coup on Wednesday by hosting the first NASCAR national series event—a Camping World Truck Series race called the CarCash MudSummer Classic—at a dirt track since Richard Petty triumphed in the Home State 200 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in 1970. On Wednesday, Austin Dillon edged Kyle Larson for the checkered flag in the feature event at Eldora. I hope NASCAR gives me many more opportunities in the future to see its heavy stock cars slide around on grooved tires.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

Quattro—more than you think: So I've spent the better part of a week in Germany—my first at Automobile Magazine—where I've had the chance to drive one of the most cutting-edge super sedans soon to arrive in the United States: the 560-hp Audi RS7. While I had plenty of seat time, Audi also offered a peak behind the curtain of some of its extensive, modern facilities in Neckarsulm. I learned plenty, touring the Quattro base, which is responsible for customization, racing activities and assembly of the R8 and R8 spyder. To the uninitiated, Quattro is shorthand for Audi's all-wheel-drive system, but this jack-of-all-trades subsidiary has been around since 1983. After walking the floor of Quattro, I came away with the impression that Audi is serious about accessories and expression. And it's truly bespoke. Case in point, Audi says it takes eight days to make a single R8.

Greg Migliore, Associate Editor

Sick Sandon: When the 2014 Corvette Stingray story broke on Wednesday evening, you saw seven beautiful Corvettes. I remembered what my friend looked like in a hospital bed.

Most of our photo shoots are straightforward—show up, drive, make pretty pictures—but something always goes wrong on the bigger shoots. And since this was our biggest shoot of the year, something would go catastrophically wrong. And it did, but I never would’ve guessed it could come from something so small.

The day before the shoot our videographer, Sandon Voelker, told me he was having stomach pains. He went home and tried to sleep it off. Sandon texted me near the end of the workday to tell me he was feeling better and was heading over to Gingerman, the location for our shoot the next day.

A few hours later, I pushed off toward the west coast of Michigan with Jean Knows Cars videographer Scott Allen. Three hours later, as we were pulling into our hotel’s parking lot, Sandon called. “I have to go the hospital,” he said.

Now a lot of people cry wolf when it comes to hospital visits, claiming that a stubbed toe is worthy of a trip, but Sandon’s not one of them. He bikes hundreds of miles a week, has abs like a scrappy alley brawler, and is the recipient of a partially artificial pelvis. He’d never cry wolf about going to the hospital, and I could tell things were serious when I first saw him.

Frankly, he looked like crap. Bent over as he walked toward the car, he could barely speak. He didn’t want to talk on the way to the ER. Or when he got into his hospital bed. Or when the doctor came by for the first time. Scott and I tried to crack jokes, but the kid wasn’t having it.

He only pepped up once the drugs started dripping through his IV. His parents got there just before midnight, and Scott and I went back to the hotel to try to sleep for a few hours before our call time.

I woke up to a text from Sandon’s dad that said Sandon needed his appendix removed. Scott and I wished him the best, went to Gingerman, and persevered without the car-video guru. Sandon stayed in the hospital that day. And for the following ten days. He’d developed a nasty infection and couldn’t be released.

He’s back now. He’s healthy and feeling good. When I saw him Wednesday morning, I’d completely forgot that he was ever in the hospital. But when I reread the Corvette story that evening, I could only think about what my friend looked like in a hospital bed.

Chris Nelson, Road Test Editor

Carpooling: This week, four Germans gave carpooling an entirely new meaning when they transformed a BMW convertible into a mobile swimming pool and went for a drive. Although it's trimmed with wooden boards and tropical decorations, a motorcycle policeman didn’t take notice until water sloshed out as the car took a corner. The Bimmer has only one gear and its top speed is 25 mph so when they spotted the cop and new they were in hot, um, water, they pulled into a parking lot and made a run for it in their swim trunks. The authorities are investigating whether the men were under the influence but have yet to press charges. But as far as taking this vehicle on the road, unless there is a law on the books in Germany prohibiting driving a swimming pool, it's likely their case won't hold water.

Jennifer K. Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms

Comeback Kids: Ford Motor Company and General Motors each reported earnings of $1.2 billion for the second quarter of 2013. For those of us who wondered whether Detroit would survive the dark days of 2009, such financial news, which would make so many enthusiasts’ eyes glaze over, are beacons of bright, sparkling light. As with the last half-dozen quarters, both FoMoCo and GM had strong North American earnings to balance out losses in Europe. Yes, the federal government stillowns about 19 percent of GM, and Ford took about $8 billion in Energy department funds to help subsidize its small car and clean powertrain programs, but the good news is that the U.S. still has a manufacturing base. This week, GM was particularly ascendant, and even if CEO Dan Akerson scrubbed the Cadillac halo car to make financial space for the Cadillac flagship sedan, the company’s growing financial strength may allow Akerson to review such cancelled projects in the near future.

Todd Lassa, Executive Editor 

Toronto Teacup: Just returned from the introduction of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-class in Toronto, a city which is Canada’s answer to Shanghai, as there are more cranes building skyscrapers there than in any other city in North America. The S-Class is looking more like itself, as a sweeping, downward line along the car’s flanks accentuates the long, low tail. Altogether it helps the car live gracefully with the tall hood required by pedestrian safety laws, while the sleek CD of 0.24 is very impressive.

The drive to the cottage country among the lakes north of Toronto didn’t reveal much, while the logistics of the event were more complex than they needed to be in that characteristic Germanic way. Nevertheless, it was very cool to have Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board for Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, give the S-Class product presentation.

The best part of the event proved to be a demonstration of various activities related to S-Class technology at a small airstrip, where we had a chance to experience all the various active safety systems incorporated into the car, notably radar-controlled cruise with steering assist and the ability to cope with stop-and-go traffic, adaptive high-beam assist with night-vision functionality, active parking and a mode to mitigate rear-end collisions.

We even got to drive a high-tech simulator. The engineers strutted around like kids in a third-grade science fair.

Even so, no one took a ride more than once in the little sliding box that demonstrated the seat belt action in Pre-Safe collision situations.

It was pretty much like the famously nausea-producing spinning teacups at Disneyland.

Not too many journalists in line for the ride, we noticed.

Michael Jordan, West Coast Editor

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