Cocktail Chatter: March 29, 2013

High horsepower and sucking vacuums.

What cocktails go best with all this car chatter? is here to help with weekly recipes. Remember, this is for talking about cars, not driving — always designate a driver. With just having gotten through the hustle and bustle of the New York auto show, we’re drinking The Rumble, which is from the West Hollywood restaurant Comme Ça. Muddle three blackberries with a drop of simple syrup; then combine three quarters of an ounce of simple syrup with two ounces of light rum and three quarters of an ounce of lemon juice in a rocks glass. Fill the glass with crushed ice and pour the blackberry muddle over the ice and serve with a blackberry garnish.


Fintail Folly: Some folks buy wall décor at Pottery barn, or search for it out at antique markets. I find mine in automotive salvage yards. I was unbolting a power door lock module from a ’97 Honda last Saturday when I looked up and saw a pointy red fender several yards away, sticking out from behind another car. “Huh. That kind of looks like a fintail,” I thought.

Indeed it was – amongst rusting, wrecked Hondas, Toyotas, Subarus, and Nissans lay a 1967 Mercedes-Benz 230 sedan. Part of the W110 series of sedans, the pointed rear fenders earned it – along with the larger W111 and W112 ranges” the nickname “Heckflosse,” or “fintail.” I was astounded to see one randomly appear in a junkyard in mid-Michigan, and even more surprised to see it was relatively complete. The body has succumbed to rust’s inevitable decay in a multitude of ways, but virtually all trim pieces and panels were present and accounted for. The interior, though slightly dirty, was largely complete and in surprisingly presentable shape, down to the old-school Becker Monte Carlo transistor radio. Heck, the key and key ring were still hanging from the ignition cylinder…

As much as I’d have loved to save the whole thing, a restoration of a vehicle in this state far exceeds both my technical and fiscal abilities. I may not have been able to bring the fintail home, but three days later, I returned to the yard and brought a part of it home with me. Now, I can’t walk in my garage without seeing the tall, proud, chrome grille – complete with the three-point star and laurel – hanging on my wall. But I’m not going to lie — I find these cars handsome. Perhaps one day I’ll have to actually park the entire car beneath the decorative grille.

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor

SUV Surprise: While walking the show floor at the New York auto show this week, people regularly asked me what the “must sees” of the show were. I surprised myself when, every time, I added the 2014 Toyota Highlander to that list. No, it’s not exciting, sporty, or sexy (if you want that, head to the Jaguar Land Rover stand), but the Highlander is an extremely important car in terms of actual consumer products. The third-generation car looks great, although extremely long, and the interior is attractive and upmarket, thankfully following in the footsteps of the Avalon rather than the Camry. The new Highlander is also important because, when compared with the Camry on which its based, is leagues ahead in terms of design, execution, and interior refinement.

Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor

Audi, Meet House: It’s just shocking how this even happened: An Audi TT flies over an Audi A4 Avant, wrecks a BMW 3 Series, a home, and itself. Glad that the driver made it out alive.

Tom Hang, Graphic Designer

Power, Absolutely: Remember the dire predictions earlier this decade? Sports cars were on the way out. Every future auto show would be filled only with small, thrifty electric or hybrid cars. Well, that just didn’t pan out. Here at the New York auto show, I’ve seen a 550-hp Jaguar XJR, a 550-hp Jaguar XKR-S GT, the 450-hp Chevrolet Corvette convertible, the 500-hp Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, the 640-hp SRT Viper TA, the 624-hp Rolls-Royce Wraith, and the 355-hp Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG. Sure, hybrids and EVs are present, but they haven’t totally supplanted gas-fed performance machines as paranoid journalists expected a few years ago. Long live horsepower!

Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor

In it to ‘Pin’ it: Using Pinterest boards as inspiration for interior and exterior designs of the 2013 Buick Encore? Now I’ve heard it all. With its recent “Pinterest to Dashboard” contest, the automaker collected nine influential design, fashion, and food bloggers to put together Pinterest boards that would serve as a basis for color palates, design features and textures for the car. While the winner chose his favorite design based on the options created by Buick’s design team, these Pinterest inspired Encore concepts actually won’t be available on the market. So unfortunately, we will not be able to partake in a day at the beach while cruising around in an Encore inspired by the “A Day at the Beach” Pinterest board.

John Kalmar, Graphic Designer

Blind-Spot Bliss: My colleagues sometimes identify me as a technology curmudgeon; I love vintage cars and lament the endangerment of cars with buttons. I embrace technology when it works well, though. Like on a recent trip to Traverse City, Michigan, in our Four Seasons Mazda CX-5. That car’s slick styling means that its over-the-shoulder blind spots are more sizable than you might expect. Fortunately, its blind-spot warning system worked impeccably during the lengthy drives in often-heavy traffic. I noted only two instances of false warnings over 600 miles. At the other edge of the road is our long-term Nissan Altima, which on multiple occasions has exceeded that number of false alarms — on my modest 21-mile commute.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

Audi Channels Olds: So I’m watching the Audi A3 reveal at the Pier 59 Studios in New York Tuesday night when I hear design chief Wolfgang Egger mention the new car’s “Toronado Line” extending from the profile to the rear deck of the car. Huh? Toronado Line? No, Audi PR explains, he must mean “Tornado Line.” The presentation ends and I walk up to Egger to ask him what he said. “Toronado Line.” It’s an influential design detail from the original, 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado that Audi designers revere, he explains. Who says American design can’t influence European design?

Todd Lassa, Executive Editor

Technology Sucks: Auto shows are exciting. Without fail, each one presents at least one thing—from a whole vehicle to a groundbreaking piece of technology to a lovely piece of design—that leaves those of us who love automobiles to wonder “What took them so long?” For me, that one thing at this year’s New York show was the 2014 Honda Odyssey‘s in-car vacuum, deemed the HondaVAC. It’s certainly not as flashy as, say, the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 or the Subaru WRX concept that also debuted in New York, but for parents—of both humans and canines—or those who spend a lot of time in the car, having a vacuum on-board would be priceless. Admittedly, I am mildly OCD when it comes to cleanliness but in my opinion this is the kind of option that could prevent fights and save a road trips. Had this option been on our Four Season’s 2011 Honda Odyssey, it would have carried far fewer crumbs, corn nuts, and straw wrappers over the 36,000-plus miles that it traveled in its year with us.

Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor of Digital Platforms

Cue the Explosions: I found what might be the coolest feature fitted to modern cars: the “walk away lock.” It works like this: when you’re done driving, get out of the car and shut the door—you’ll hear a beep to tell you the system is active. Then walk away from the car, touching nothing, and the doors will lock, so long as you keep the optional passive entry remote in your pocket or purse.

I like it for its simplicity, obviously—you won’t have to fumble for buttons or keys while walking away from the car—but there’s something strangely cool about walking away from your car as it arms itself. Something that reminds me of a spy movie, where the main character nonchalantly walks away from a car as it bursts into flames. I have no delusions of actually being Jason Bourne in the Kroger parking lot, but any time a car can make me feel that way, I’m impressed.

Ben TimminsAssociate Web Editor

Title Change: Sebastian Vettel is Infiniti’s new director of performance. Since we’re already talking about titles that mean nothing, I’d like to announce my new position as Automobile Magazine’s semi-official ambassador for manpris. For the uninitiated, those are male capri pants. My duties at the magazine will not change, nor will my superiors recognize my new position. Thank you. I’m excited about it, too.

Chris Nelson, Road Test Editor

Z/28 Doubts: There are a lot of things I like about the 2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28: the 7.0-liter V-8 borrowed from the Corvette Z06, the 300 lb diet, and the track-ready standard equipment. But I don’t understand why Chevy would build any new car without a stereo. It makes even less sense to me since the Z/28 retains rear seats . If I’m going to drive my track car to the track, I want air conditioning and a stereo on the way there and back. If I’m towing my car to the track, then I want something a heck of a lot lighter and easier to repair than a new Camaro. We’ll see if Chevy is pressured into adding a stereo by customer demand.

Phil FloradaySenior Web Editor