Of course if you live in the colonies, you’ll have to wait several months to see them :-(
Best Motoring has returned in the form of Best Motor TV, a monthly broadcast television show in Japan for car enthusiasts. Budget and sponsors still don’t allow the full format that Best Motoring made famous, but track battles are still the bread and butter of the show.
When the original Best Motoring ended in 2011, the final episode pitted the Lexus LFA, Corvette ZR1, Ferrari 430 RSD, Nissan GT-R, and Porsche 911 GT2 against each other in a 3-lap battle on Fuji Speedway. Now, with significant advances from Nissan, Porsche, and Ferrari, it’s time for a rematch. Missing this time is the Corvette, which didn’t do very well last time. Ferrari, which lost the last battle, is back again with a much more qualified entrant.
Go full screen, turn up the sound, and enjoy!
Our next challenge will be to determine how to obtain original DVDs of this new series of shows. We’re looking for a source in Japan… hopefully Amazon will start carrying these soon so that we can see the entire episodes.
Jeremy Clarkson (competing with Donald Trump for the title of “The Most Opinionated Man in the World”) likes the new Toyota GT86 (the name in Europe for the Toyota 86, known only in North America as the Scion FR-S). He says it’s one of the best cars he has driven “in ages”. Any why not? Driving dynamics, low center of gravity, “proper snicky” 6-speed, and “joy of drives, drive comes to the back”. And what he describes as the master stroke – not being obsessed with grip.
Here’s where we agree with him!
Believe it or not, this segment is part of a special episode of Top Gear named “Worst Car in the History of the World”. This hour and thirteen minute special uses some of the best cars in the world to illustrate just how lowly Jeremy and James’ choices for worst car are. Watch it here (before the BBC lawyers have it removed):
Jay Leno recently visited the Nissan design studio in Japan, where he met with Chief Creative Officer Shiro Nakamura and found designers hard at work styling the next Z. The Z is clearly in the design phase where hundreds of drawings will be made and then final styling elements will be selected. That probably puts the timeframe of the debut out 2-3 years… depending on which platform will be used. If it will again be shared with the upcoming new G, then sooner. Otherwise later.
Looking over all the drawings and video below, and knowing how the process works, we note that the basic proportions are all nearly identical – so it’s clear that the chassis underneath and the resulting hard points have in general been determined. And it’s clear that a return to the proportions and styling cues of the original 240Z is the plan!
Our hope: the proportions of the original Z, and a rear side window that is actually functional. We don’t like sitting inside the “cave” of our current Z, unable to see to the sides or the back.
Now lets look at the concept drawings and videos:
30 years ago, June 18-20 1982, Ford debuted the Mustang SVO to the world in the form of two engineering prototypes competing in a 24-hour endurance race: the Quaker State Oil Longest Day of Nelson. This SCCA-sanctioned race, held at the well-known (and very humble) club race track Nelson Ledges in Ohio, isn’t with us anymore but was well-known and beloved in its time. The event offered classes for what at the time was known as Showroom Stock cars, as well as future production prototypes, to race.
The SCCA Showroom Stock class in those days was just that: cars that were literally straight from the showroom, with only safety equipment added. Race tires were not available in those days, so whatever street tire came in the stock size would have to be used. Ford Pintos were very popular then because of their crisp handling and easy availability of replacement parts. We personally knew one racer who leased his from a local dealer and had several crashes over the years.
The Prototype class was something new to the SCCA, and it was controversial both inside the SCCA as well as outside. The intent was to generate excitement by allowing manufacturers to bring a prototype of a car that would be built within the next two years. It wasn’t intended for high-end or exotica, but for future versions of cars already racing in Showroom Stock. The Corvette wasn’t allowed into the event until 1985, and even then only under pressure from GM, but the Mustang was the perfect fit since it has already been racing in Showroom Stock since 1979. Racing would indeed improve the breed.
Ford brought two prototypes to the event with the idea of fast-tracking their development under the stress of racing, as well as to show the public the direction that the Mustang was taking. And to ensure that good publicity was spread far and wide, Ford arranged for Car and Driver and Road & Track to each have their own identical car. The magazines selected their drivers from amongst their own staff, which resulted in a mixed bag of skillsets. Road & Track had Innes Ireland, for example, and there was no question of the skill there. Each magazine also brought nearly their entire staff to crew their pits, cook for everyone, and cheer on their (hopefully) winning team.
And we were there ourselves, working as an SCCA-licensed Pit Marshall. That meant that we were working in the pits, right in front of the Mustang SVOs, and saw everything. We also got to meet our favorite writers from both magazines. What an incredible weekend! Read more
This is the full Best Motoring Special Number 8, introducing the Honda S2000 at it’s worldwide launch in 1999. It’s one of our favorite videos from our personal collection, and has now been made available in full on the new Best Motor TV (the rebirth of Best Motoring) site. It combines very rare video of the introduction of the S2000 to the public on 4 October 1998 at the F1 race on Twin Ring Motegi, along with special documentary videos of Motoharu Kurosawa (Gan-San to the rest of us), driving a final production prototype in France, Germany and on the Nurburgring.
The S2000 was a game changer in it’s time… and Best Motoring created on of it’s most extensive videos to introduce it and to communicate Honda’s thoughts about it’s design and purpose.
And we’ll venture our opinion, based on our ownerships as well as our extensive drives: The S2000 was without a doubt the inspiration for the Toyota 86/Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ… and as a pure driver’s car it blows the Miata into a ditch. And after all this time it’s still a better car than any of them.
Set your video to full screen, sit back, enjoy this hour-long video, and remember the S2000:
We originally ordered two copies of this video from Japan for our library, and have showed them to S2000 fans and to the local S2000 club. Nobody knew what to expect when we started this video, but they were soon captivated by it. It’s part of what we call our “S2000 Shrine”, a collection of S200 memorabilia currently numbering >150 items. That’s the impact this car made on us and we were an original owner of a model year 2000 S2000. Read more about our experiences on our site http://s2000enthusiast.com/.
Every month we miss getting our Best Motoring DVD from Japan since it’s demise last year. We’d been watching Best Motoring almost since the start, and have spent uncounted thousands importing the videos directly from Japan. We thought we’d seen the last of their famous track comparisons – known as a “battle”, where Keiichi Tsuchiya and his fellow drivers pit the latest and greatest Japanese cars against each other on the track. And we especially miss Motoharu Kurosawa (nicknamed “Gan-san”) as the senior driver and editor.
But now Tsuchiya, Hattori, and Kinoshita are back (along with - to Western ears - an over-enthusiastic announcer), not as Best Motoring, and not on their usual track. The new series is known as “Best Motor TV” (BMTV) and it’s not as ambitious (or widely available) as Best Motoring, but hopefully it is a start. We are very happy to see them again, thanks to Nippon Television Network Corporation (NTV).
This time the battle pits the Toyota 86 (Toyota GT 86 to the Europeans, and “Scion FR-S” thanks to the half-wits in Toyota USA marketing) against the Subaru BRZ and the latest Mazda Miata on the Twin Ring Motegi (ツインリンクもてぎ or Tsuin Rinku Motegi). And not to give it away, but as anybody would know anyway, the Miata looses big time. 2.6 seconds per lap. Last place. By far.
Unfortunately, an S2000 wasn’t entered in the battle – and that’s what we would really liked to have seen, given that we own both a late-model Miata (“NC”, with the handling suspension package) and an S2000.
And we’ll give an opinion as an owner and 30 year track rat: the current Miata with the optional handling package is too soft and too slow. In stock form its just a lousy track car. You can see it in the video when it is rolling over onto it’s bump stops in some of the turns. And the engine is nothing special… just an inherited and rather dull Ford Duratec with minimal differences. And the seats have no support.
All of these issues are critical differences between the Miata and the Toyota 86/BRZ/FR-S triplets – things that the Subaru and Toyota product planners and engineers very clearly understood would be required in a serious sportscar.
Yes, Mazda has more cars on more tracks on any given weekend, and a track-prepared Miata would have done well. But the major difference is that the 86/BRZ/FR-S has a much better base to begin with, thanks to the better vision of its product and engineering teams. And the S2000 even more so thanks to its fabulous engine. Rumors of an upcoming all-new Miata with an even smaller engine and even less interior space just support the fact that the days of the Miata as the ”definition” of a classic sportscar are long over. Subaru/Toyota will just continue to improve their own product, a forced induction engine is on the way, the Japanese aftermarket is already providing modification parts, and the same new chassis may even appear underneath a small sports sedan in the coming years.
This is momentum, which Miata has lost.
Test: Twin Ring Motegi laps
In the classic Best Motoring format, the slower car (Miata) gets a head start.
Test: 0-400 meter acceleration.
The acceleration test is much closer, although the triplets still win. You can see the differences in power-to-weight ratio (and they are provided in the first video).
Are private lives completely private?
If you were once married to a celebrity what can and should you be able to say in public?
Jeremy Clarkson’s ex-wife Alex Hall found out the hard way when she wanted to write a self-help book about the effects of celebrities on their family’s private lives. Not “salacious”, although it’s been rumored that the two had an affair after he married his current wife, just “a sort of witty self-help book”, Mrs. Hall said.
Clarkson filed an injection a week later… then dropped it once the harm had been done. Although the book is now written and ready for publishing.
Here’s an original video clip, likely from a very early Top Gear (back in late eighties when Clarkson and Needell were mere correspondents). Get a few minutes into it and are surprises to be found…
Incredible… the original Jeremy Clarkson… with hair. And, no… not a copy born and bred on Clarkson Island. The only original Clarkson…. in the world.
And if this is not enough, here is Tiff Needell (note the British pronunciation – “knee-dell”) at the 6:15 mark comparing three Ford Sierra Cosworths (original, Evolution, Group A race car - ranging from 200 to 500 HP)!
The sale referenced is at Beaulieu National Motor Museum. With year-round monthly events as well as the enormous sales in the spring and fall, this is one of the top museums to visit in Britain. Beaulieu is situated in the south of England, in the New Forest between Bournemouth and Southampton, with easy access from London and the Home Counties.
AutoWeek subscribers received a link to the following video today as a holiday gift. It’s cool, and it will undoubtedly be copied right and left. I know now that we’re going to do the same thing with our own RC car.
This was well made… but nothing will beat the time Clarkson drove an actual car into the offices of his company. Right up the street, into the elevators, around the floor, past the meeting rooms and desks. Let’s face it, the *real* Top Gear beats any of the export Top Gears any day and in every way. That’s why Top Gear America Must Die!