Monterey Car Week 2017: Pebble Beach Concourse D’elegance

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Wrapping up Monterey Car Week would not be complete without a trip to the Pebble Beach Concourse D’elegance. We could write all day about the amazing cars we saw, the awesome concept car lawn, how we got up close and personal with Horacio Pagani’s personal Zonda HP Barchetta or Ferrari’s 70th Anniversary gathering…Or we could just show you.

Since the latter sounds like a much more enjoyable option, sit back, relax, and enjoy our pictures from the event and festivities.

 

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Cheers,

-JB

From Ghost Till Dawn: Rolls-Royce Ghost vs Wraith vs Dawn

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Today was the annual Father’s Day Concourse On Rodeo Drive, where the city blocks off Rodeo drive to display some of the most unique and outrageous cars ever produced. We also took this opportunity to check in with our friends at O’Gara Coach who own Beverly Hills Roll-Royce to get a VIP tasting selection of what Rolls-Royce has to offer. We strolled over to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and found ourselves eyeing three classy cars for our sampling: The Ghost Black Badge, the Dawn and the Wraith.

The Wraith

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The Wraith has a striking and flowing design that is classy, modern, and elegant all at once. Interior wise, it’s all the top luxury one can imagine. The drive is very smooth and silky, it’s a very etheral experience. The car almost floats on the road and hides it’s weight in a very clever way. It’s like riding and elephant across a frozen lake and the whole time you’re shocked that it doesn’t step right through the ice. As a driver the experience is soothing, as a passenger, it’s sublime. The Wraith has a tremendous amount of room in the back and ride quality means you can discuss aggressive corporate mergers or gossip over tea and not have a care about the outside world. Compared to the Dawn and the Ghost Black Bad, the Wraith feels the slowest, but deliberately. If you’re in a Wraith, everyone is waiting for you, so you can take your leisure as you float from point A to point B.

The Dawn

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Being the drop-top brother of the Wraith, the Dawn feels similar to the Wraith, but looks wise it wins the beauty contest. The one we drove was a beautiful azure blue example, and from the stance of the car alone we can say it’s a modern classic. Driving around in the Dawn it feels very similar to the Wraith in that you get an ethereal sensation, but the Dawn somehow feels quicker than the Wraith. As a passenger it’s just as comfortable, but unlike the Wraith, where when you’re riding in the back of it you don’t think of driving, in the Dawn with the top down, you want to be seen in the driver’s seat. It’s a great luxury yacht on the road and you want to e the captain of that yatch.

The Ghost Black Badge

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The Ghost Black Badge is the top of the range of the Ghost line. We have to stress the Black Badge, because from what we were told from our Rolls-Royce hosts, the Black Badge drastically changes the driving feel of the car compared to a “regular” Ghost (if there is such a thing). But we’ll take their word for it. And we must say that word carries a lot of weight. The Ghost Black Badge from the driving perspective is a it of a sleeper hit, its got grunt and you can really feel the power. It’s like being inside the head of a giant rhinoceros and hitting the gas is poking that rhino in the rear causing it to go full charge. It’s smooth like the Wraith and the Dawn but it’s got much more torque which makes shifting the full weight of the car a bit of an experience. The scary part is how quickly it stops, it’s as if the brakes can reverse gravity itself because mentally there is no way a car that big ad heavy should be able to stop that quickly. In a word it’s bonkers. In two words it’s pretty bonkers. In three, it’s ridiculously, ridiculously bonkers. As a passenger the Ghost Black Badge is very cozy, accommodating and the Black Badge we drove had the optional $14,000 starlight roof option, which we must say is worth every cent and on the cool factor alone.

Tasting Results

The hardest part is when you’re dealing with this level of excellent, you actively have to nit-pick and actively look for things to be “not as good” in comparison to everything else. It’s like judging the Miss Universe pageant, each contestant is a winner in their own right, so you have to pick on obscure things in comparison to the field of competition to make that final choice.

That being said, if we could drive one home today, we’d pick the Ghost Black Badge. We were surprised by just how much we liked how that car felt. It felt smooth and commanding, and the extra torque is to thank for that. Despite being the top of the “entry level” range, the Black Badge had all the details in it that made us love it unanimously. From the two-tone interior to the feel of the power delivery and the starlight roof (which we are not going to get over anytime soon), the Black Badge felt the most complete of an experience short of a Phantom that Rolls-Royce has to offer. The Phantom is still the top boss, but if you want to save a few sheckles and while still having the greatest luxury car the world has to offer, the Black Badge Ghost should fit the bill rather nicely like a luxuriously tailored suit.

Final Thoughts

What each car is best for out of the group:

Wraith – The best car to be chauffeured in.

Dawn – The best car to be seen in.

Ghost Black Badge – The best driver’s car of the group.

 

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Cheers,

-JB

Father Vs Son: E46 Vs E90 M3

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With so many amazing machines on the road now it sometimes becomes easy to take cars for granted. What we mean by that is that in the modern era cars have come so far and performance has become so accessible, you sometimes forget how certain cars became known as the benchmark. One such car is the original E30 BMW M3, which when it first came out in 1986, set a new benchmark for what a performance sedan could be. The next generation E36 M3 continued this tradition, even though the US customers did get a little short-handed by the EPA. In 2001, the E46 M3 came onto the scene and solidified the legend of the M3. And in 2008, the V8 power E90 and E92 (sedan and coupe versions, respectively) took the M3 to another level of insanity.

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Since we have access to a 2001 E46 M3 and a 2008 E90 M3, we’d thought it’d be fun to revisit these cars and what makes them special, as well as how they stock up against each other. First, let’s take a look at the E46 M3.

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Featuring an inline 6 engine that cranks out 333 horsepower and 262 ft pounds of torque, the E46 M3 had some fairly insane stats for the the time it was introduced. The particular example we have is colored in the flashy Laguna Seca Blue, which was a controversial color at the time but has gone on to become a classic. The color can be subtle (sorta) at times and very vibrate at others, depending on the light. The example we have has a 6 speed manual transmission, which hugely changes the driving experience, as we’ll get into later. The E46 M3 is fairly small and compact car, and somehow the lines are still classic and timeless. It looks very modern and not dated, which is something previous generation M3’s can’t claim.

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Driving the E46 M3 is a joyous experience, the car is nimble, light and very dialed in. Driving it is a simple “point and go” experience as the E46 is easy to place and the car always feels like it wants to go a little faster, turn a little harder and be a little more aggressive. The recommended driving setup is with the Sport button on and with a manual transmission. The SMG semi-automatic F1 style transmission that is available is notoriously clunky, especially at low speeds, but the manual makes the driving experience sublime. The clutch is light and shifts are effortless, so even a newbie to the manual transmission can learn relatively quickly on this car. The quirks with the E46 is that it is a bit of a noisy car, in that there are creaks and moans the car makes, but usually the sound of the amazing S54 engine can drown them out. Also the E46 can understeer a bit in certain corners at speed, but the back can be broken lose for some playful slides. 10 minutes of driving this car and it’s easy to see why it’s a modern classic and was a home-run for BMW when it was introduced.

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So how could BMW top that? There attempt to do so was with the next generation M3, and we happen to have access to an E90 M3 to see exactly how they tried to do so. The E90 upped the ante, the new S65 engine was a monstrous V8 that had a whopping 414 horsepower and 292 ft pounds of toque. For the transmission you could get ether a manual or the brand new DCT, which was a dual-clutch F1 style transmission that was a huge improvement over the SMG. The car we had was equipped with the DCT, which almost seemed fitting as the E90 belongs more to the laptop generation of performance cars while the E46 belongs to the coal mine generation.

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Driving the E90 M3 the first things you notice are the size and the power of the car. The E90 is bigger car than the E46, and it is heavier as well. But it’s also much more powerful and the V8 under the hood never lets you forget that fact. The E90 pulls very hard and hugs the road in a way that makes you believe in witchcraft because like the E46, the E90 is very much a “point and go” car as well. The E90 feels so planted and tells you everything that’s happening on the road that your driver confidence is hugely boosted. Continuing the tradition of the E46, the E90 has that very special signature M Car feel to it. Even with the DCT, the car is quick, agile and a proper driver’s car. Put the car in M dynamic mode and the play factor doubles as the car’s rear becomes easy to slide and catch, which suddenly becomes your new favorite game while driving.

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So which one do we like more? It’s a bit of a toss up, but we’re going to give the slight edge to the E46 M3 on this one. The combination of a manual transmission and the slightly more playful driving nature give a little better sense of connection with the road. This isn’t to downplay the E90 M3 at all. It’s more of a generational preference. But both cars are proper M Cars, are proper driving machine, and are amazing bang-for-buck classics that can you buy right now. Do what we did; grab some buddies, grab these cars, and go for a fun drive in Malibu and up the coast to Moonshadows for some mojitos.

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Cheers,

JB

i-Drive: The BMW i8 Driven

 

With BMW sharing their vision for the future with their Next 100 Event, they brought out a collection of 4 special concept vehicles to give us a glimpse into what they have planned. To celebrate this fact, BMW brought out a host of electric vehicles for test driving, and naturally we took the chance to give the i8 a whirl.

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From a looks standpoint, the i8 is stunning. It’s sleek lines and smooth surfaces make it look like a car that came out for the year 2040. We were very happy that the car not only looked mostly like the original concept, but in fact looks better. Being the flagship of BMW, the i8 has a lot to live up to since we are avid BMW fans, and there is the expectation of “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” Our biggest concern is that this new eco-dream machine will lack the soul and fun factor of the BMW brand in favor of subdued conformity.

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Getting into the i8 can take some adjustment for those not used to getting into car that low and with a door sill that wide. Fortunately, we have plenty of experience so it was almost second nature. The butterfly style doors are a nice touch to the futuristic looks of the car, and pulling them down does make you feel like you’re closing the cockpit to a flying car out of a movie. The interior of the i8 is very straight forward, there is a cool display on the media screen and in the dashboard panel. The hardest thing to figure out is why there are back seats in the i8. If you where a midget amputee you still would not have space in the back, it probably would be a better use of space to make that additional cargo space. Also with the i8 being electric, making sure the car is on before trying to drive can make a seasoned driver feel foolish, so as with all electric vehicles, always make sure you press the brake and hit the start button for good measure.

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One thing that a lot of electric cars, and modern cars in general suffer from, is that they make use of gimmicks. The i8 is no exception. It is full of gimmicks. When placing the car in sport mode, the dash panel goes from blue to red, the steering firms up a bit, the 3-cylinder engine suddenly gets a noticeable synthetic sound boost, and the in the media center there’s a bunch of displays for various information you shuffle through.

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And yet, somehow, the i8 is able to brilliantly pull of being filled with gimmicks. They all actually add up to create a very dynamic experience, and a large part of that is due to the fact that the i8 gets the most important thing right: The way it drives. The i8 drives and feels like a proper car…it’s responsive, you can feel the road and it corners in a confidence inspiring way. It may be a futuristic hyper-eco machine, but it’s still a a BMW at it’s core and that’s the real magic. It feels like an “ultimate driving machine” and it’s a refreshing thing to see, as the trend with more modern cars is to make them more tame and synthetic. The i8 is in a lot of senses synthetic, but the synthetics are augments to the car’s natural ability, not the core of it.

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All in all we were very surprised by the i8. In the years to come we think this will be remembered as one of the top classic BMW models of all time. Much like the first iPhone or the Messerschmitt Me 262, the i8 is a design that takes it’s current platform into it’s next evolution. And that’s a gimmick that is one hell of a trick to pull off.

Cheers,

-JB

The Business of Design

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On Monday, City Club LA hosted a very unique event in conjunction with FIDM. The event was a mix of mixer, shopping experience, discussion, and fashion show, which create d truly one of a kind night.

The night began a mix of vendors taking over the main ball room 51 floors up at LA City Club to make a high end street market of sorts. From clothes, to hand bags to specialty rum, there was a diverse mix of vendors and offerings.

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The next part of the night featured a panel of speakers discussing the topic of business in the fashion industry as well as design inspirations. The panelist where Kathryn Ireland (Kathryn M. Ireland Textiles), Barbara Bundy (VP of Education FIDM) , Elizabeth Fiske (National Sales Manager / Merchendiser, I 5 inc.),  and Deborah Arthur (Brand Expert, St. John Knits).

The conclude the evening, there was a special fashion show that was put on. St. John presented their Fall 2016 Collection, our good friends at Charles Goyer Bespoke Suits presented a sampling of Charles Goyer’s hand-crafted suits, and Skin Tone Men’s Clothing displayed a collection of vacation inspired casual wear.

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All in all it was a great night hosted by one of the best venues in Los Angeles. Education, fashion, and business all came together for an evening that everyone in attendance will remember for some time to come.

To checkout the official pictures from the event, stop by Facebook page of the event photographer Richard Hernandez.

Cheers,

-JB

Fast Fashion

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We came across this great article by BBC News:

Designers aim for even faster fashion