2013 Year in Review… Cliche, Isn’t It…
So, not only did we survive December 21st, 2012, we’ve made it all the way through 2013. HA! Take that Mayans! Now that it’s 2014 (2014, weird, isn’t it?), I thought I’d do the most cliché thing blog-ily possible. This is a TickTickVroom.com 2013 Year in Review post.
2013 was a banner year for TTV… a new, fancy-schmancy website, a bunch of cool road and track tests (sooooo much fun) and some pretty kick-ass watches. All-in-all it was a good year to be a car and watch blogger. With a bunch more road tests, new cars due out soon, SIHH and BaselWord coming just around the corner and some interviews of pretty interesting characters, 2014 is shaping up to be even better.
But, now, here are a few of my favorite posts from 2013…
Cars Year in Review:
Ostensibly, I started TickTickVroom out of a deep appreciation for cars and watches. But, while I may not have realized the truth of this statement at the outset, my true motivation for creating this site probably was to drive the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray… and to write this post. I guess I should explain.
Yes, I know there are faster, more powerful cars out there. But, none of them are so profoundly rooted in my childhood as the Corvette Stingray. Corvettes run in my blood. In 1986, when I was three years old, my dad bought a 1974 Corvette Stingray in Medium Blue Metallic with black interior, a four-speed manual gearbox with a Hurst shift kit and a 350 cubic inch ZQ3 V8 with 195 horse and 275 pound-feet of torque.
There is something decidedly Italian about the 2014 500L, not Ferrari, Maserati or Lamborghini Italian, but grabbing a fresh loaf of Filone di Renella on the way to Gucci to pick up a new pair of loafers Italian. It’s a bit more Italian than its closest competitor, the MINI Countryman is British. Allow me to elaborate…
I recently had the opportunity to take the 2014 Fiat 500L for a spin Around the Block for a quick road test review. This is actually the first of the TickTickVroom Around the Block reviews. (Stay tuned for two more Around the Block review of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee and 2014 Cadillac CTS.)
When I told my wife I wanted the 3,152-piece LEGO Star Wars Super Star Destroyer for Christmas, she thought I was nuts. I wonder what she’ll say if I ask for the over 500,000 pieces it takes to build the life-sized, fully drivable, yellow and black LEGO hot-rod that was the brain-child of Steve Sammartine and Raul Oaida.
Billed the Super Awesome Micro Project, the LEGO car was built in Romania and shipped to Melbourne Australia. Air powered by four engines with an astonishing 256 pistons and a pair of high-pressure air tanks this thing from my childhood (and adulthood) dreams can potentially hit a max speed of 20 miles-per-hour. I cannot possibly every express how much I want this LEGO car.
Today, I went to an autocross day sponsored by Jaguar to put their latest models through their paces in a manner not generally suitable for the open road. While drifting an XJ and throwing an XKR around a corner was undeniably fun, I was surprised and ecstatic when the Jaguar marketing guy pointed toward a brand-spanking-new Italian Racing Red XFR-S and asked me if I wanted to take it for a spin, on a closed course no less. Me, trying to be nonchalant said “sure.” But, I think he may have seen through my mask of cool nonchalance when I nearly knocked the poor guy over sprinting to the Jag’s driver’s seat.
Before I get into what it was like to actually drive the $99,000 2014 Jaguar XFR-S in a spirited manner (I think this may actually be the first published review of a drive in the XFR-S), here is a little primer on the car. As the baddest high performance member of the Jaguar XF clan and the most powerful Jaguar sedan ever produced, the XFR-S boasts the 550 horse 502 pound-feet supercharged 5.0 liter V8 as the XKR-S coupe. For those keeping score, that’s a 40 horse and 41 pound-feet bump over the XFR, all the while matching the XFR’s 23 mpg highway. Routing that power through a ZF eight-speed Quickshift transmission and the XFR-S hits 60 miles-per-hour in a scant 4.4s.
As they say, “Go big or go home.“ Not really feeling like going home, I went big. Cadillac XTS and Jaguar XJL big. In days past, Cadillac and Jaguar both represented the pinnacle of big luxury sedans for their respective countries of origin. Driving a 1960s Cadillac Sedan de Ville meant something. It meant luxury. It meant quality. It meant you were driving the Cadillac of cars. On the other side of the pond, driving a Jaguar Mark IX meant much the same, only with more tea.
Then came the dark times. Beginning in the mid-to-late seventies, the quality, reliability, beauty and desirability of both car makers tanked. High gas prices, new safety and environmental regulations and all-around poor design haunted the once lauded luxury sedans. It wasn’t until just recently that both brands turned themselves around. Both Jaguar’s and Cadillac’s resurrections were signaled, first and foremost, by major design changes. Cadillac adopted the “Art and Science” design strategy, and Jaguar thew out everything but the leaping cat hood ornament in favor of modern sleek designs. Cutting edge techonolgy, a mile-long wish list of newfangled options and standard-setting performance followed soon after.
It’s raining in Coconut Creek, Florida. Hard. The kind of rain that shows up as a big purple blob on satellite weather maps. The kind that makes the inside of your car sound as if you’re taking flak in a WWII fighter plane. The kind that wakes windshield-wiper manufactures in the middle of the night. I’m not sure if this is a terrible day to test out MINI’s new sport ute the Cooper Paceman or the best day possible. I mean, the Paceman is supposed to be sort of an SUV-type thing, so a little (okay, a lot) of rain should be a good thing, right? I guess we’ll find out.
For those who don’t know, the Cooper Paceman is a two-door MINI representing their second foray into the world of higher ground clearance. And, apart from the two-door vs four-door setup, it’s not that different from their first, the MINI Countryman, at least on paper.
New BMW M3 time is like Christmas. It’s when all of the wishes of sublime speed and surefooted performance dreamt in the minds of little petrol-heads everywhere come true. It makes me all warm and cozy… like sitting in a bolstered leather seat with the butt-warmers turned up.
Only this time, BMW is gracing the world with not just one new M car, but two. Yep. Two. BMW officially introduced (on paper at least) the 2015 BMW M3 Sedan and 2015 BMW M4 Coupe. It’s is like having Christmas and your birthday rolled into one awesome day with two very fast gifts… the sedan for Christmas and the coupe for your birthday.
The brands spankin’ new Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4 is here. And, it’s fast. Like really fast. Like 3.2 seconds 0-62 mph (~3.0 seconds 0-60 mph), 202 mph top speed fast. I guess after the leaked photos from yesterday, Lamborghini needed to accelerate their reveal of the replacement for the venerated-but-long-in-the-tooth Gallardo.
The Lamborghini Gallardo came out in 2003 and, as such, is filled with old tech. Yes, it has been updated and face-lifted like a million times with a myriad of limited edition models, but it is still an old car. The Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4, however, is all new.
Watches Year in Review:
Max Büsser doesn’t do normal. His MB&F Horological Machines continuously push the limits of what we consider a wristwatch with each new model. The MB&F HM5 RT continues to the limit-pushing, but this time in the direction of automotive design… the Lamborghini Miura, to be precise.
When you look at the MB&F HM5 RT, it’s easy to see the inspiration of the Miura in the louvers on the back of the watch which hearken back to the Miura’s rear window and in the prism-magnified time projection on the dial that looks decidedly like a dash instrument cluster.
Audemars Piguet loves their celebrity athlete sposkespeople. Two of the most recent AP Ambassadors to get their own Audemars Piguets, Michael Schumacher and Leo Messi, are giants in their respective fields of Formula One racing and soccer (or football to our European readers).
So it’s about time that Audemars Piguet Brand Ambassador and Miami Heat star forward LeBron James gets his own limited edition AP. Hell, the crazy party at Miami Beach’s SOHO Beach House to celebrate LeBron and AP’s union was over two years ago on April 9th, 2011. Last night’s soirée at 1111 Lincoln Road in the heart of South Beach where LeBron James and Audemars Piguet CEO Francois Henry Bennahmias unveiled the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore LeBron James limited edition was a long time coming. (Man, that’s a mouthful.)
Don’t get me wrong. I got some pretty good birthday presents this year. A hunter-case Elgin pocket watch from the early 1900s, an R/C helicopter and a big-honkin’ steak. Like I said, not too shabby. But my birthday pales in comparison to Jack Heuer’s. He got, not one, but two limited edition Tag Heuer chronographs for his 80th, the Tag Heuer Carrera Jack Heuer Edition 80 Years and the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 Jack Heuer Edition, seen here. It’s good to have your name on the dial of one of the most prolific chronograph makers of all time.
To be hands on with the $7,800 TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 Jack Heuer Edition is an interesting experience. I say that because when I first saw the 45 mm watch in photos, I liked it, but I was tentative at it’s gigantic size. Bear in mind, one of my favorite watches of all time is a 33 mm Hamilton Thin-o-Matic.
In 1957 the Hamilton Watch Co. debuted the Hamilton Electric Ventura and the Van Horn as the first two electric watches. Both watches utilized the new caliber 500 electric movement, powered by the recently developed Button Battery, the same battery that now powers nearly every battery-powered watch in use today.
The Hamilton Electric Van Horn was a conservatively designed round watch with little exterior flair. Conversely, the Venturacame into the world as a spectacular asymmetrical boomerang-style watch. The design was consistent with the most modern styling cues of the time.
Watches can be amazing. Some watches are tools, implements of amazing craftsmanship and mechanical wizardry by which we can track the passage of seconds, minutes, hours and days with greater and greater accuracy and technical precision. Other watches are art, objects of extreme creativity for which the telling of time works part and parcel with its design, enhancing its beauty. And, an extraordinary few watches are both. They have a combination extraordinary technical and mechanical engineering and amazing, artistry. The Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane Grand Voyage is one such extraordinary watch.
Today happens to be Columbus Day. And, while Christopher Columbus may be a very controversial figure, the Zenith watch honoring him is, by any measure, awesome. Limited to ten pieces, the Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane Grand Voyage combines the artistic methods of enameling, engraving and micro-painting with the horological intricacies of a (Zenith patented) gravity control system (that looks like half of a globe) and a new-take-on-an-old-school-style fusée and chain transmission mechanism.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince is probably one of the most beloved children’s books ever penned. As a matter of fact, it is the most translated French book. There is something about that Little Prince, that golden-haired boy in a scarf, and the wonderfully childlike way he views the world (or in his case worlds) that speaks to everyone and teaches us to see snakes digesting elephants and sheep in a box. And, it is also the 70th anniversary of that novella. (Surprise! Another major anniversary for 2013!)
What you may not know is that there is a charity, the The Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation, founded by de Saint-Exupéry’s heirs to help to give children “practical support by helping them build their own future and encourage them to take an active part in society”.
If you enjoy the occasional online perusal of the purveyors of timepieces, odds are you’ve heard of Wachismo. And, unless you live under a rock, you’ve also probably heard of the crowd-sourcing website, KickStarter. But, what you may not have heard of is the Xeric watch brand and they’re first timepiece, the XERISCOPE, which is on KickStarter as we speak (with about 26 hours to go).
The brothers Greenblatt, also known as Mitch and Andrew, have decided, after years of selling watches online through the website they co-founded, Wachismo, to start a manufacture of their own, Xeric, and finance it through a KickStarter campaign. For 44 days and nights, KickStart has plugged along, gaining backer after backer. What started with a $40,000 goal to fund the creation of the Xeric XERISCOPE has turned into a mind-boggling $437,505 in pledged dollars with 26 hours to go.