While the lustre of the convertible may have its roots firmly planted in automotive history, I find it increasingly difficult to find reasonable justification for them. They are, like so many ideas of modern society, good on paper, but pretty horrendous in practice; deconstructed coffee, communism, Elon Musk.
When you trace back the lineage of the automobile you understand how they all began as open tops. Low speeds, general evolution carriages and you can begin to understand that the automobile evolved from all open top to finding comfort, safety and general good sense in enclosing the space around the passengers. The convertible reached its zenith in the 50s and 60s but with the advent of more safety through the 70s, began its much needed decline.
So you see, its really about safety. But it’s also about realising the dream of that wind breezing through your hair is appealing for about 5 minutes. Then the blazing sun begins to burn your scalp, dirt, debris and fumes begin to wear at your skin and the noise of humanity and sensible people with enclosed cars wear down any romantic notions of being one with the open air.
Short Term Appeal
Don’t believe me? Try it. Seriously. If you have dreams of owning a sweet SL Class Mercedes, a new Mustang drop top or (God forbid) a VW Golf cabriolet (is there a wankier automotive term than cabriolet? I think not), go to your local dealer on a hot day and go for a test drive. If you are a sane human being you will realise that the appeal wears off real quick.
On a recent trip I had rented a Camaro that happened to be a convertible. The Camaro wasn’t the original plan, seeing as at the time, space was needed for plenty of luggage. So when the Camaro became an option, I didn’t think too much about it being a convertible.
I had the car for two weeks, the car is fantastic and someday I will own a Camaro. But it will definitely be the coupe and not the convertible. For the two weeks I had the car, the top came down for 20 minutes. Under the blistering hot Sonoma sun, my wife and I lasted less than half an hour before we pulled back into the drive way and put the top back up.
The convertibles I’ve had the misfortune to drive recently include a few VW Golf convertibles (if hate and self loathing were a vehicle, it would be the VW Golf convertible) and a BMW 120i. The Camaro yes, but the Camaro itself is such a great car that a convertible version of it just means there is just some added inconvenience. Now a Golf or BMW 120 convertible under the Australian sun is no win situation. Top down, awful. Top up, awful.
Who are these people who buy these cars? I’m not sure, but they are not my friends. Some car manufacturers seem to make a complete mockery of the process too. I’m looking at Range Rover in particular, with the monstrosity that is their Evoque convertible (I will let Doug Demuro explain in his video). Anyone who had paid good money for it has undoubtedly spent too much time with their noggin’ in the sun.
So am I just a sun hater? Well yes, it’s bad for you, plus I don’t like dirt or the possibility that someone or something (monkeys) could hurl objects at me while I’m driving.
If you really like the sun the wind, roll the window down or invest in a sun roof. It’s all you need. Perhaps this comes from growing up in metropolitan cities, driving amongst a busy population of smog and traffic jams. But even with my time in the California sun I can safely say that when it comes to driving, it’s best you keep your top on.
Rare Ferrari GTO sells for record $70 million
How much money would you pay for the car of your dreams?
How much money would you pay for the car of your dreams? What about a one-of-a-kind beauty that you see driving past your prestige dealer? How about a rare 1963 Ferrari GTO?
If you are Dave MacNeil, the answer to the latter, is USD $70 million. MacNeil, who is the CEO of automotive weather guard company WeatherTech, shelled out the record amount for a rare Ferrari.
It is no ordinary rare Ferrari of course. While already limited to 39 builds, this particular one, chassis number 4153 GT, is special. The car won the 1964 Tour de France motor race and finished fourth at Le Mans in 1963.
The $70 million paid by MacNeil eclipses the previous record for the Ferrari GTO. In 2013, a GTO was sold for a then record $53 million.
The Ferrari GTO is powered by a 3.0-litre V12 engine and is one of only 39 built between 1962-1964.
A Ferrari 250 GTO has yet again broken the record as the world's most expensive car, this stunning, and rare, silver example recently selling for a cool £52 million – https://t.co/kfhJroCFsZ pic.twitter.com/PqoUUYU6sH
— evo magazine (@evomagazine) June 4, 2018
MacNeil joins an exclusive group of GTO owners that include Ralph Lauren and Walmart heir Rob Walton.
How much is too much?
When you are in the same tax bracket as the Ralph Laurens and Walmarts of the world, perhaps there really isn’t a price that is too much for a prized automobile. It is truly rarefied air when the cars in your collection exceed seven digits a piece. For the rest of us, it seems utterly ridiculous of course. Collectors however, do see the worth of these incredibly rare vehicles.
How would you rather spend $70 million? I would definitely buy an expensive sports car, but one for considerably less.
Camaro coming to Australia as an automatic only
The Chevrolet Camaro is officially coming to Australia this year as an import from Holden Special Vehicles. Excitement may have been tempered slightly with its expected high price, and its auto-only option.
With the demise of local manufacturing, Australian buyers looking for grunt outside of expensive European options have flocked to the Ford Mustang. Almost 10,000 ‘Stangs were sold last year, which is enough proof that, while Australians don’t make affordable muscle cars anymore, they still want to buy them.
Holden, without a flagship V8 for the first time in decades, is turning to its parent company GM for a much needed boost. Holden’s performance arm, Holden Special Vehicles, announced earlier that the Chevy Camaro, in its 2SS trim, will be made available this year.
Good News and Bad News
That’s definitely the good news portion of it. While the thrill of locally made, hotted-up Commodores have been put to bed, the Camaro is more than a worthy successor. HSV have announced the specs for the 2SS for Australia, proving that it’ll pack quite the punch to satisfy the cravings of auto enthusiasts and muscle car fans.
— HSV (@OfficialHSV) December 14, 2017
The Australian 2SS Camaros will come with a 6.2-litre Gen 5 LT1 V8, packing 454hp (339kW) and 455 ft-lb of torque (617Nm). It will have Brembo brakes, a bi-modal exhaust, tons of technology and a variety of colour options.
So what is bad news here? Well, the Camaros have started arriving in Australia in your factory standard left-hand drive version. They are being converted to right-hand drive by HSV, which will add a hefty bump to the price tag. While no official numbers have been released just yet, speculation is that the price will come in around USD$60,400 (AUD$80,000). That’s almost $20k more than made-for-Australia Mustangs. HSV says they will be looking to keep numbers at 1,000 units a year, well below that of Ford’s current Mustang sales.
Another sticking point for performance enthusiasts is that the Australian Camaros will be available with an automatic transmission only. I know that probably stings, so I’ll let that sink in for a moment. Equipped with paddle shifters, it’ll be mated to an 8-speed auto transmission, which means the Camaro will be based on the outgoing 2018 model, and not the new 2019.
Still a Winner
Time will tell how the factory-backed Camaro will do. European performance cars have done pretty well with automatic transmissions, so it shouldn’t really hurt that much. While on the pricey side, the Camaro will still be far more affordable than an Audi RS or BMW M-series. It is a just a shame that this particular car, one that is aimed at filling in some lofty Commodore shoes, comes a little shackled from the get-go.