Sound of Honda 1989 - A lap with Senna

Written by Kurt Schleier | Sunday, 11 August 2013 14:35

ayrton-senna-honda-suzuka-installationHave you always wondered what a McLaren-Honda MP4/5 Formula One car would sound and look like doing a lap around the Japanese Suzuka Grand Prix circuit whilst not actually, physically, driving around the track? No, nor have we. But Honda has, which is why they kitted out the Suzuka track with a million speakers (of undoubtedly superb Japanese quality) and a gazillion LEDs (of an equally superb quality) to revive a very special lap indeed; that of Ayrton Senna's 1989 record lap of the Suzuka track. Making use of the 3.5 litre V10 engine telemetry of that lap, a team of creative talent created a contemporary visualisation of it. And, with the help of the original V10 engine, they also created an elaborate sonification of the telemetry data. The result is a rather spectacular art installation, not to mention a technical marvel of some magnitude, running along the Suzuka track that stimulates the senses (bar an important one of course; sensory stimulation for the nose). Honda has made a couple of videos to accompany the project; the lap itself and a making of. The making of is particularly interesting, showing Honda engineers of the day talking about Senna's driving and it gives airtime to those who created this spectacle. Honda's claim of 'technology that once supported Ayrton Senna, now for your perfect driving experience' might be a bit overenthusiastic, but the videos make for a good few minutes viewing nonetheless.

Add a comment

Read more...

£19.6m for the ex-Fangio Mercedes-Benz W196 at Bonhams' Goodwood auction

Written by Kurt Schleier | Friday, 12 July 2013 18:02

img144

The ex-Fangio Mercedes-Benz W196 GP car was undoubtedly the highlight of Bonhams' Goodwood Festival of Speed auction earlier today, it achieved the immense sum of 19.6 million Pounds (about $30m). Bidding stopped at £17.5m, which means a buyer's premium of an equally baffling £2.1m! Moreover, it smashed the last world record for the most expensive car sold at auction by a considerable amount; seeing the record was held up to today by a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa which was sold in 2011 for 'just' $16.3m. This W196 was the car in which Fangio won the 1954 German and Swiss GPs. After the 1955 Monza Grand Prix the car was pensioned off and resided in Mercedes-Benz' collection until 1973 when it was gifted to Britain's National Motor Museum at Beaulieu and years later was sold to collector Sir Anthony Bamford and was finally sold to German businessman Friedhelm Loh. We dived into our photographic archive and found a rather impressive image by an amateur photographer to accompany this story; this is the very car sold at today at auction in the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio at the 1954 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. Fangio looks calm driving through what looks like the track's start-finish area, yet the race was a rather more eventful affair than this photo appears to suggest, as noted in the following press blurb Bonhams provided.

Add a comment

Read more...

Spotted: Citroën DS Special + Barthes' Mythologies

Written by Kurt Schleier | Thursday, 11 July 2013 10:12

DS

There it was, along a country lane, a Citroën DS hiding in the shadow underneath some trees, in front of an old Dutch farmhouse. Its sleek body suggesting movement even while it was stationary. The white of the body emphasising innocence, litheness even. Its contrasting brown coloured tin top absorbed the rays of sunlight that happened to be able to make their way through the leafy trees. Looking at it, it was a splendid ensemble of shapes, colours and shadows. The DS just sits on the tarmac and somehow suggests it is something a bit different whilst actually looking rather inconspicuous; it is devoid of ornaments or pointless design cues. It is an impossibly cool car and at the same time seemingly suggesting to be so much more than just a car just by being a DS. Stepping in a DS moreover would mean transcending into a world of francophilia; the car invokes connotations with scenes which prominently feature baguettes, bottles of wine, fine cheese, intellectuals, designers, chansonniers and well-cut suits with knitted ties. Is this just all a myth? Well, the DS has the peculiar ability to be worshipped through rather different qualities than most other enthusiasts' cars; it is not about horsepowers, it is not about flashy design, it is not about perfect handling. It is worshipped by those from all walks of life. It appears to absorb the characteristics one attributes to it effortlessly and it morphs the car, unwittingly to the car of course, into something more than just a piece of metal. In short one adds a dose of symbolism to the car and mythifies it. Why do I put this on a car blog? Well, because this feeble attempt at discussing the connotations that one creates by just looking at a DS should serve as an introduction to a far more impressive piece of writing by French philosopher Roland Barthes. Barthes, in his 1957 article 'The new Citroën', exalted the DS as the equivalent of a gothic cathedral and a place of worship for the rediscovery of the spiritual.  Which had, apparently, been lost with the machine age starting in the early twentieth century; it lead to the mythification of a car. The text is underneath, be amazed.

Add a comment

Read more...

L'avvocato - Fiat's Gianni Agnelli in pictures

Written by Kurt | Saturday, 25 May 2013 15:16

agnelli-lastampaThe state of being dashing is not neccessarily a thing exclusive to the Italians, though it is, arguably, exclusive to Italians in the world of business. Think Gianni Agnelli, the now sadly deceased former head of the group of FIAT family companies. Captured at any stage of his life Agnelli looked immaculate, or rather perfected immaculateness through a cover of maculateness; that what is seen as studied carelessness or 'sprezzatura' by many. Moreover, in the world of menswear, aficionados see Agnelli as a god of sorts, it appears (judging by some of the comments on the internet) grown men might even dribble a variety of bodily fluids in front of their computers whilst looking at Agnelli wearing his impeccably hand-tailored suits. Definitely, the man had a sense of doing things just a little bit differently than others, it seems to me though that it is more the connotations surrounding the figure of Agnelli that reduces some men to the male equivalent of teenage girls admiring the outfits of Heidi Klum. Could one not say he just had a few very well fitting suits, available to anyone with a good tailor, and isn't it, in fact, the wealth, the power and success that elevates Agnelli into the realm of a general icon of Italy's post-war revival while, in the process, being catapulted into a symbol of the menswear community?

Add a comment

Read more...

Spotted: Saab 96

Written by Kurt | Thursday, 25 April 2013 16:24

saab96-3

What to do when presented with the automotive equivalent of a Nordic Aphrodite (those of another disposition might want to say Adonis)? Correct, you take a photo, or better several photos capturing svelte lines, cool charm and warriorlike spirit. Better still, you can be assured it will take it well, it will pose effortlessly when presented with some sunshine in the charming environment of London's Bloomsbury area. Yes, I thought this slightly knackered Saab 96 looked really rather good. It was such a treat finding this on a lovely summery day after stepping out of my Uni after an intensive few hours listening to, well, doodah. Saabs usually float my boat, the 96 is no exception, but it should be mentioned that I am not convinced it was Saabs 'finest hour'. The 96 spawned an era of unprecedented change in the automotive industry (automatisation, strikes etc.), yet from its inception in 1960 to the final year of production very little changed at all. Seeing the trim of this dashing green Swede it points to it being a later 96 from the 1970s. By then, after shedding its Saab two-stroke engine, the engine bay accomodated a trusty Ford V4 1498cc engine producing 65 hp powering the front wheels. Sadly, the example on the photos seemed to suffer from a variety of issues; first and foremost the issue that the rear left side window was missing! Moreover the attractive and quirky seventies light green paint was lighter in some areas than others, whilst missing a smooth finish altogether. I missed this Saab actually driving but looking at the exterior and interior it didn't spell much good..

 

Add a comment

Read more...