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Thread: Dream Cars

  1. #1

    Default Dream Cars

    I don't even know how to drive, so this clearly belongs to the realm of fantasy. And I believe most New Yorkers don't own cars, but assume this forum appreciates fine design. If you have one, post your little motorized dream here. Mine:





    http://mbspy.bacosys.be/c219cls.htm

    The Vision CLS: a hybrid (coupe-sedan) currently introduced to the public in Frankfurt.

  2. #2

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    My only inconsistency as a Manhattan resident - I love cars.

  3. #3
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
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    3,298

    Default

    ::sings::

    O Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?
    My friends all drive Porsches; I must make amends!
    Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends.
    O Lord! Won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?

  4. #4

    Default Dream Cars

    Anyone who lives without wheels in a real city has at one time wished to just hop in a car, conveniently parked at the curb, and pick up his date. In the Eighty-eight.

    Or maybe in the Smart Car.





    The cute and now-fashionable Smart car is made by a division of Mercedes for the growing city-car market in big European cities. People pay more for one of these than for a Hyundai or Renault with four proper seats and four cylinders. They do this not just to save on fuel but because almost all parking in real cities is curbside, and they all know the frustration of having a car that is just a tad too big to squeeze into that alluring spot right beside their destination.



    Most cars were always minuscule in Italy with its medieval streets, but for a decade or two the average auto has been shrinking in both Paris and London. This market is what kept the original Mini (10’-0”, 4 seats) alive till last year, and this market has now been taken over by the two-foot-shorter Smart. After a slow start occasioned by skepticism, it now sells briskly. At Daimler/Chrysler there is sporadic talk of US import. In the “European” cities of America it might make good sense.

    The genius of the Smart is that though it is exactly one half the length of a Chevy Malibu, it drives pretty much like any other car. I have driven one myself; it was comfortable, even luxurious with its peppy engine, automatic transmission, air conditioning, supportive bucket seats, quiet interior and great stereo. The Mercedes tuner, Brabus, even offers a tweaked performance version that is a true pocket rocket. But this car is so short that you can park it nose-in to the curb.

    Extremely small cars have been around for a very long time, but in the past they always came with a heavy penalty in drivability and comfort. The last time two-passenger versions sold in large quantities was during and after the gasoline panic occasioned by the Suez Canal Crisis of 1956. At that time, BMW was on the scene with the brisk-selling Isetta, which also functioned as a starter car for the nascent European trend towards universal car ownership. Unlike the Smart, this car was a primitive death-trap:




    Other microcars had four (very cramped) seats, like this BMW 600:







    The two-passenger urban runabout format has been around for an awfully long time. In the US, the American Austin, American Bantam and Crosley companies attempted to storm the city-car market in the Depression years. The War and widespread parking lots put an end to potential demand for this product.





    If you think about it you can see that these cars with modern running gear such as you find in the Smart car would make a very attractive little package as a modern retro-car. It was not the packaging that made these cars fail in the marketplace but the technology. That has now been aced. Wouldn’t you just love to have one of these little beauties waiting for you at the curb, with a decent modern complement of creature comforts built in, and a zippy powertrain?



    Austin, Bontam and Crosley cars also came in other body styles for urban use, including delivery and pickup:








    Japan’s government formally recognized the city-car category by establishing specifications and extending privileges to these cars. Length was limited to 319.5 centimeters, and privileges included overnight parking on Tokyo’s congested streets, and designated parking spaces. Some of these cars found their way to the US, including the first Subaru sold on these shores, and an early raft of Hondas that might seem familiar:












    Here is a fantasy: you walk up to a waiting Smart car in a designated micro-parking space at the sidewalk, and you insert your electronically-coded microcar-renters subscription card into a slot in the door. The door opens, you take your seat and insert your card into a dashboard slot, your valid drivers license into another, and your thumb into the computerized thumbprint identifier. You can now push the starter button and drive off. Taking possession of the car has caused your account to be charged $10. This will provide you with a car for one hour or until you log out at a higher price, which activates the “available” indicator for the next user. Cars can be left or found all over town.

    The taxi industry will hate it.




    An alternative conveyance for two passengers (and maybe an alternative dream car):


  5. #5

    Default Re: Dream Cars

    Quote Originally Posted by Kris
    I don't even know how to drive, so this clearly belongs to the realm of fantasy. And I believe most New Yorkers don't own cars, but think this forum appreciates fine design.
    Only 36% of New Yorkers own cars. Well the last time I heard.
    Last edited by Kris; January 5th, 2007 at 07:58 PM.

  6. #6

    Default

    The revived Dodge Charger is one of my personal favorites.

    The new BMW 5. I really like the sleek design of this car.

  7. #7

    Default

    If you think about it you can see that these cars with modern running gear such as you find in the Smart car would make a very attractive little package as a modern retro-car. It was not the packaging that made these cars fail in the marketplace but the technology. That has now been aced. Wouldn’t you just love to have one of these little beauties waiting for you at the curb, with a decent modern complement of creature comforts built in, and a zippy powertrain?
    I dislike retro design very much, which is why I hope the Smart will replace the Mini in the niche American market. The concept car was called the Swatchmobile, because Swatch was behind it and formed a partnership with Mercedes. Swatch later withdrew from the project. The Smart started its career in Europe as an advertisement device, which is how it survived the initial skepticism (its originality was exploited). It is now a common sight.

    Your idea is interesting and expands this topic's scope to include the political. Small cars are still a nuisance to the pedestrian however, and I wouldn't consider one as an alternative to the freedom of walking and using mass transit. I would buy a car to escape from the city once in a while if I were loaded.

    Zippy, your choice is spectacular. Too garish and sporty for me though - I prefer luxurious living rooms on wheels. I would choose the burgundy in the pictures I showed, with a black interior. I always thought a Benz should be black, but this color contrast is so flamboyantly sexy and suits the model perfectly.

  8. #8

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    Well, we are talking fantasy cars. Even if I could afford one, buying it would be followed immediately by divorce and homelessness.

    If I lived in the suburbs, I would buy one. The house would look like crap, the kids would be dressed in rags - but if I have to drive to get milk, it's gonna be in a Ferrari dammit!

    I have been lucky to drive a few - it's better than sex. :mrgreen:

  9. #9

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    Nothing's better than sex, which makes life rather democratic after all.

  10. #10

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    BMW Z8


    The BMW Z8 has the absolute latest in intercepts, surveillance and counter measures. Fitted with Titanium plating and armor, a multitasking head-up display, and six beverage cup holders, the Z8 truly is a secret agents' dream vehicle.*
    The Z8 also boasts a maneuverable ground-to-air missile launching pad, and a needle thin "sonic" laser beam which allows 007 to listen in on conversations taking place in buildings in the vicinity of the car. As usual, rockets are fitted behind the headlamps. What's more, the car can be driven by a remote handset, and it is even able to drive itself to the handset by using sensors built into the car.* :wink:

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Wieland
    Nothing's better than sex, which makes life rather democratic after all.
    You must've known I'd reply to this one. I want to know what sex has to do with being democratic. I really am lost as to what you mean.

    And while we're on the topic: I'd love to have a Dodge Viper. I doubt I'll ever be able to afford one though :cry:. A link since I can find no site to host my pictures: http://www.dodge.com/viper/index.htm...e&type=top

  12. #12

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    Believe it or not, I don't have you in mind when writing each of my posts and I credited you with a minimum of wit.

  13. #13

    Default

    I want to know what sex has to do with being democratic.
    Words have multiple meanings.

    Democratic: relating to social equality.

    More people have sex than own Ferraris.

    If nothing is better than sex...can you take it from there?

  14. #14

    Default

    March 19, 2004

    DRIVING

    Get Smart: Buyers Try to Jump the Queue

    By DAN McCOSH


    CURB APPEAL The 61-horsepower, three-cylinder Smart car, center, popular in Europe, will soon be sold in the United States. But some Americans don't want to wait for the officially imported versions.

    MOST automotive fantasies involve a lot of horsepower, preferably wrapped in sheet metal hammered to shape in a small town in Italy. But the car that Joan Hurley of Baltimore daydreams of owning one day is a diminutive two-seater with a three-cylinder engine and just 61 horsepower. It also gets 60 miles a gallon.

    "It's sort of a romantic notion," she acknowledged of her infatuation with the Smart City-Coupe, which she first saw while on vacation in Spain.

    As a romantic icon, the Smart car is more Woody Allen than Humphrey Bogart. Its beguiling appearance exudes a Jetsonesque quality that would be at home in a supporting role in "Sleeper." The two-seater, also marketed as the ForTwo, is short enough to park on congested city streets with its bumper to the curb. End-to-end, two could share a single metered parking space.

    But for a few hard-core American enthusiasts, the Smart has become the automotive equivalent of a Cuban cigar, gaining cachet partially because it is hard to get. The eco-friendly commuter car is one of the trendiest fashion statements on European roadways today, and is on sale in 30 countries, including Mexico. But though its maker, DaimlerChrysler, plans to begin selling a version in the United States in 2005 through its Mercedes dealerships, so far, like good Cohiba Coronas, Smarts are unavailable on these shores — legally, anyway.

    That may soon change. In January, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agreed that two would-be Smart importers could bring in the cars because they had shown they were capable of making Smarts meet United States safety standards. "It's a magnificent car," says Jonathan Weisheit, president of J. K. Technologies in Baltimore, one of the companies planning to sell Smarts in the United States. And while he only envisions selling 1,000 or so of the cars annually, George Gemayel, president of G & K Automotive Conversion in Santa Ana, Calif., said he might be able to sell as many as 15,000 Smarts a year at $18,000 to $20,000 each.

    The importers will buy their cars from dealers in Europe or Canada (Smarts are scheduled to go on sale there in September) and then sell them on what is, essentially, the gray market. (They will also have to service them because DaimlerChrysler said it would not take responsibility for cars it hadn't imported.) Technically, conversion companies become manufacturers, assuming the responsibility for making any modifications necessary to meet American safety and emission standards. While European standards are similar, the differences that exist make it an expensive and time-consuming process for those hoping to bring in just a few cars.

    That's what John Bristol of Dallas said he discovered when he looked into importing several Smarts with the intention of driving one and selling the others. "I looked into importing a few," said Mr. Bristol, who trades oil leases. "But it was too difficult. I'm in the oil and gas business, and I can see a need for economical cars like these." The Smart would not be his first gray-market car. In 1991, he bought a military Hummer direct from the factory, before a retail dealer network had been established.

    The Smart line was originally conceived by Switzerland's Swatch watch company 10 years ago as an exercise in minimalist transportation. The idea was to create an economical yet stylish alternative form of transportation for crowded city streets. After a slow start in 1998, they are now selling briskly, with about 120,000 on the road.

    Today, the cars are built by a division of Germany's DaimlerChrysler in France near the German border. The company announced last year that it was setting up a United States subsidiary, and it has been signing up Mercedes dealers in the United States to begin selling Smart models next year. Canada will be getting a two-seat Smart car this fall, but Americans won't be getting City-Coupes. Instead, they'll get small four-seat S.U.V.'s, "about the size of a Honda CRV," said David Schembri, vice president for Smart USA.

    The American cars "will be designed with the U.S. in mind," he added, meaning a lineup, at least initially, of more conventional, four-seat cars, rather than the funky two-seaters many Smart enthusiasts love.

    But the bigger cars don't interest many of the Smart fans. "We don't have any kids, and my wife drives seven miles to work. I drive 10 miles. We aren't really interested in the larger car," said Patrick Masterson, an architect from Virginia Beach, Va., who rented a Smart convertible while on vacation in St. Barts and is now on J. K.'s waiting list. The way the small car is designed to be both extremely compact and yet relatively crashworthy also appeals to Mr. Masterson. "I have a respect for an unusual way of solving a problem," he says.

    Practicality and economy don't quite explain the passion some people feel for Smarts, which seems to approximate the early enthusiasm for the New Beetle and the Mini Cooper. Sally Jessy Raphael, the former TV talk show host, fell in love with one when she saw it in a French showroom in 1999 and put it on her credit card — then it took her more than five months to get it through United States Customs.

    Ms. Hurley, who is also on J. K.'s list, acknowledges having an almost irrational fascination with the car. She has even made a picture of one her computer's screen saver. "Not everyone agrees with me. Some think it's downright ugly — an ugly golf cart." She said she once saw a Smart parked in front of the Cafe Hon, a popular Baltimore spot, and while she was admiring it, a passerby stopped and asked, "What did you do with the other half of the car?"

    And fans say they're not worried about driving a car seemingly designed for a Munchkin on American highways, despite the current rage for tank-size S.U.V.'s and six-passenger pickup trucks. "Mostly, I'm concerned about parking," said Hernon Lucas, whose principal commute is the 12 miles from Yonkers to Midtown Manhattan. His current car is a full-size Dodge pickup, with a Hemi engine, the big V-8 that epitomizes the horsepower race.

    "Some people look at it and have concerns about safety. I say if you get hit by an S.U.V., the S.U.V. will have a dented fender, and you will be bumped out of the way," said Mr. Weischeit, the Baltimore importer. (In Europe, Smart cars carry a three-star, out of a possible five-star crash rating, but a European insurance study notes that the cost of repairing the all-plastic body is roughly half that for fixing other small cars.)

    Meanwhile, a few Smart car owners are already driving their cars on the streets in the United States, after bringing them in on the automotive equivalent of a tourist visa that assumes the cars will eventually go back to Europe. One, who goes by the online name of NJChuck, has even posted photos of himself with the car, posing with it in Times Square, in front of the lighthouse in Montauk, N.Y., and with the Jefferson Memorial in the background.

    "I like to drive it into Manhattan," NJChuck said in a telephone interview. He insisted that his name not be used because of concerns about his vehicle's registration.. "I parked it alongside a stretch S.U.V. limo and took its picture."

    But the charm of novelty is already wearing thin. "Frankly," he added. "I'm kind of tired of posing for pictures, I'm tired of putting my thumb up when the guy alongside does. I'm tired of waving back."


    STREET SCRUTINY The rare Smart car that does show up in the United States is almost sure to draw at least a quizzical stare or a somewhat more thorough interior inspection.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company


    The smart Invasion

  15. #15

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    I cant see myself driving the smart car, Its ugly. (IMO) But it would be conveinient in urban areas such as NYC. But 61 HP???? I think my 2003 Hyundai Tiburon with 140 HP dosnt have enough, I can see myself at a redlight trying to take off...LMAO....Ill pass this one up for a new V8 Benz

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