March 24, 2017: This weekend is the kickoff to the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship. Significant changes have been made to the cars to make them faster, but it remains to be seen if wider cars, wider tires and more aero will make the racing better, or just as boring but at a faster rate. Even more significant are the changes made to the engine regulations, which toss aside the previous token update system for a veritable free-for-all. About the only real restriction is in the number of engines per years (four), which should help keep things under control. Honda used this change to radically alter its F1 power unit, throwing out the old to bring in the almost totally new in an attempt to thrust partner McLaren into the top rank. Unfortunately, the engine proved extremely fragile in practice leading to speculation that McLaren would dump Honda for a Mercedes customer unit before mid-season. We investigate what’s behind Honda’s poor form, and the likelihood of a split between McLaren and Honda. Staying with the racing theme, our own Virtual Collector heads off to Sebring with his son, and brings us a look at what you never see on TV. From Prius-badged Ferraris to pop-up cities to school bus motorhomes, it’s a Sebring unlike any you’ve ever seen before. We also review Preston Lerner’s book on the Ford GT. Despite the hundreds of books on the Ford-Ferrari battle for supremacy at Le Mans, Lerner manages to bring a fresh perspective and a storyteller’s ability to this historical tale from the 1960s. Lexus previews its LC flagship, a sporting two-seat luxury coupe that combines a new performance-oriented luxury platform with powertrains pulled from its other two-seat coupe, the RC. Is more luxury, more capability and a near six-figure price tag enough to establish its bona fides? Finally, we look at Ducati’s latest, a line of men’s toiletries sold under the name “Ducati 1926”. Does it smell like a combination of olive oil, worn leathers and burnt oil? No, but it is just the latest attempt to expand the brand’s reach in the lifestyle arena.
March 10, 2017: This week’s Geneva Motor Show saw a number of significant introductions including an electric hypercar named after an Asian orchid. The Dendrobium EV comes from Singapore via Williams Advanced Engineering, and is based on an in-house design from Vanda Electrics. Should it enter production, though not before 2020, Williams will build it. Porsche showed the production version of its Panamera Sport Turismo shooting brake. It also provided numbers for cargo capacity and price, though one of those two wasn’t as large as might be expected. The Mercedes-AMG GT Concept is a teaser for the 2019 AMG GT, and brings high-performance hybrid drive to the five-door performance sport coupe market. VW’s Arteon takes the place of the CC coupe, adding a hatchback to mix. Available with either front- or all-wheel drive, the Arteon will have a limited number of powertrain option in the U.S. until the rumored V6 version makes its appearance. McLaren used the show as a launching pad for its latest Sport Series model, the 720S, It replaces a confusing array of models with a new design that rewrites the rules of supercar styling and aerodynamics. Also at the show, Tata’s Tamo sub brand showed a compact two-seat sports car concept that could reach production, while former F1 and Indy champ Emerson Fittipaldi debuted the track day car he has created with the help of Pininfarina and German race engineering house HWA. Sticking to the motorsport theme, but at a lower performance level, British Motor Heritage announced production of Mini Mk 1 body shells. Most will be used for race cars, though restorers might appreciate the opportunity to swap out a tired and rusty shell for a new one. This week’s Virtual Collection takes a look at a car with multiple Hollywood connections, another raced by the Bentley Boys in period, and a pedal car for that special child. Finally, we speak with Gerry Toscani, CEO of Paris Business Products, maker of the Weego family of battery products and jump starters, and test the efficacy of Stoner’s Invisible Glass Clean & Repel and Washer Fluid Additive against the worst winter has to offer.