Here’s the latest from Shawn Sims, our automotive loving NOTlabs Director! He just got back from adventures with Mercedes-AMG in the desert. We spend 2 days on the tracks of Willow Springs with 41 AMGs… doing 150mph in the SLS black series, exploring the desert with the G63, peeking at the late night garage repairs, and more!
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Here’s the latest from Shawn Sims, our automotive loving NOTlabs Director! He just got back from adventures with Mercedes-AMG in the desert. A pair of Mercedes-AMG C63 507 editions (sedan vs coupé) donut duel in the California desert during the Best of AMG at Willow Springs.
This post is sponsored by the Ford Transit Connect. For this next Transit Connect adventure, I was sadly stuck at home on jury duty, so Shawn Sims hopped out to NYC to join the folks at Café Grumpy as they did super early morning deliveries. See our first adventure with the Butler Blue Mobile Transit Connect here.
Café Grumpy was founded in 2005 (just like NOTCOT!) with a passion for quality coffee and it has been amazing seeing how they’ve grown over the years. With the opening of the latest (5th!) Café Grumpy in NYC last week, we knew we had to head over and check it out when we heard they too use a Ford Transit Connect to deliver their coffee and pastries! Beyond their cafes, they also have the Café Grumpy Roastery, where they hand-roast small batches of specialty-grade coffee on a restored vintage Probat, and the Café Grumpy Bakery, where they bake their pastries and other deliciousness! And all of this goodness gets transported in their Ford Transit Connect to the cafes… with the launch of the latest cafe in the Fashion District in NYC and more to come, Caroline told us that she’s thinking about figuring out custom shelves (which the Transit Connect is ideal for) to better optimize the space for their deliveries. So we tagged along for their bakery and roastery deliveries to see what their process is like and what their dream Ford Transit Connect set up might be… as well as tasting some delicious coffee, pastries, and checking out the adorable stuffed grumpy beans! Check out our adventures with Cafe Grumpy on the next page!
This post is by our LA based, NOTlabs running, automotive loving, Shawn Sims! He just spent the day with Ford and came back with quite the grin on his face…
When Ford reached out to us and asked if we would be up for checking out the new Fiesta ST and their Ford Racing X Games rallycross team I did not expect to take a ride in the fastest machine I have ever been in. The first thing I noticed when I arrived were all the mechanics and support teams running around preping the cars, changing tires, pumping race fuel, and crawling under the cars. I immediately realized I was in for something intense. I signed all the necessary paperwork, grabbed my helmet, and tried to mentally prepare for the g-forces to come. This 600HP 4 wheel-drive race car is not the Fiesta show room model that you can walk in and test drive. It does 0-60mph in 1.9 seconds! It is a fully custom built championship winning car and behind the wheel was Toomas “Topi” Heikkinen, a Finnish rallycross champion, 3 times X games medalist, and arguably one of the most most aggressive rallycross drivers out there. I climb through the roll cage and one of the crew members hooks up my 4 point harness. We chat for a second before he asks me how hard he should drive and I instantly respond saying “full race speed!” Before I know it we are doing almost 100mph with a turn rapidly approaching and he is not slowing down at all. He flicks the wheel and we go sideways, back on the gas, another turn, hard braking just before we go sideways again around the hairpin. At this point my face is melting and my internal organs are moving all around. We are going through turns sideways and only inches from the barricade. The braking is just as impressive as the acceleration, giving you no relief from the g-forces. When it was over it took me a few seconds, but I realized that driving (or riding) like that is truly as amazing as I have always imagined. The human-machine connection I experienced on that track was sublime.
Check out videos and pictures of the adventure, cars, design details, and their tool boxes on the next page.
It’s been a crazy summer of trying new things, which has inevitably lead to more unexpected travel, surprise encounters, and non-stop summer inspiration. Well, adding to the list of firsts ~ Toyota just brought me out to Farmington, PA for the last two days to play with the new 2014 Tundra, which has meant: my first time shooting a shotgun (and getting a taste of “golf with a shotgun”) as well as my first time properly playing with trucks (towing large things and off-roading in lots of water!)… So fun, so exhausting, and while somethings are embargo’d till next week, i did get the ok to share the experiences and design details with you now! It is definitely more angular and more aggressive visually… and designed right in socal at Calty!
So, take a peek on the next page to see my adventures at the bizarrely epic Nemacolin Woodlands Resort (which has everything from shooting, fly fishing, golf, spa, LIONS, airstrip, casino, classic car collection, ziplines, dog sledding, and so much more…) to our quick visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kentuck Knob, to off-roading and exploring with the new 2014 Tundra, as well as a few of my favorite details!
This year Jaguar UK teamed up with RCA to create a design challenge for students of both the RCA’s automobile and textiles courses. Of the 9 group entries, the winning design on show in the Farmiloe building alongside the new F-TYPE comes from RCA students, Ewan Gallimore and Claire Miller. There’s some making imagery over at Carscoops. See more pictures of their sculpture at Clerkenwell on the next page!
It has been impossible to ignore Mercedes-Benz’s targeting of the “younger” market with their new entry level CLA model… from the fantastic Super Bowl spot “Soul” featuring Willem Defoe as the devil tempting a young man… to “Kate Upton Washes the All-New Mercedes-Benz CLA in Slow Motion”, which is pretty much what you’d expect… there’s even the Ryan McGinley film featuring model, Karlie Kloss, “Mind of Its Own” that debuted during fashion week… and how can you forget the “Untamed” spot where the car faces off with a wolf? Basically the marketing of the CLA seems to have its target on the younger/college crowd, playing heavily on the affordability and animalistic nature of the car… so when given the chance, i was too curious to see what this affordable, animalistic, compact car (the little sister of the CLS) feels like in person.
Hopping over to St. Tropez to give it a spin, felt like stepping into the “Soul” ad - being given an other worldly experience to play with the car while exploring the south of france… see a peek at our stay at the Hotel de Paris which just reopened. On first impressions - i was first drawn to the grill that seems spotted from afar… and the lights are just stunning up close (both front and rear), with such aggressive eyes that illuminate in the front, and incredible red gills that fill the back lights, they are definitely my favorite features. As for the interior, the dash seems to be where the affordability compromises were made, or my taste has aged me out of the younger demographic they are targeting… and the neon stripe options on some seats were surprising. As far as drivability, it would definitely make a fun little city car ~ and we even tried taking it to an impromptu flea market we found while driving around the french countryside, and it fit in easily (though drawing quite a bit of attention as well)… take a peek at the adventures and details with the Mercedes-Benz CLA on the next page!
From the adventures last week with Land Rover, so far you’ve seen the stunning off roading, now take a look at what is inside the 2013 Range Rover! This cutaway model sat outside the entrance of Amangiri during our press trip, and amidst the desert landscape, looks like a carcass that has been partially picked apart by vultures. What’s especially fun is the chance to get an up close peek at what is under the skin of the 2013 Range Rover - from the aluminum body to the pillowy air bags that make up the seat massagers, cut away wheels and tires to the Meridian sounds system and more! Take a look at it all on the next page…
Wow - what a day it was yesterday. Bounced from LA to Phoenix to Page and across the AZ/UT border to Amangiri to explore the latest 4th gen 2013 Range Rover, and in 12 crazy hours, went through everything from freezing cold to bright sunshine, to fresh snow covered endlessness, to more sun, to hail, to rocky climbs, to red sandiness, a stunning cliff sunset and more. When Land Rover takes you out to show you what their cars can do, they are serious about the “breadth of capability”. The new faster, lighter, smarter Range Rovers hold on to their luxurious, explorer heritage while embracing new technology to ensure their drivers are ready for anything from racing through the city (supercharged will get you 0-60 in 5 seconds!) to climbing through just about any terrain (including wading through nearly 3 ft of water) at the push of a button. And they really brought us out to an incredibly remote spot that left us dancing across the Arizona and Utah border. Take a peek on the next page at some of yesterday’s adventure.
I say “some”, because there is doing and there is shooting - biggest thing i realized going back through these pictures is that some of the best fun i had, i was too busy driving to take pictures! So for this post you’ll get a peek at what it looked like when i was passengering… and perhaps as more photos get shared, i’ll have a few of what it looked like while i was driving to add in! (UPDATE: added more pics of what it was like when i was driving to the end of the post!) And having grown up an SUV driver, i love a car that can handle more than just what you’ll usually throw at it - and the handling on the 2013 Range Rover is fantastic… definitely worth a drive if you have the chance, and try to get it off road if possible too! But first - adventure pics on the next page!
Back in October 2012 in Toronto’s Royal Bank Plaza, a shipping container sized structure popped up alongside a new Audi Quattro A4. In the glowing glass container, you’d find quite the slot car track, essentially a tiny Audi wonderland, which you could race through via iPads. Audi Canada and Slot Mods USA took the traditional slot car track to a new level, as this one included 3D printed 1:32 scale Audi A4s that you drive with an iPad and custom cameras. Bummed you missed it? Me too. Lucky for you and I they released a great making-of video about the process of creating the interactive installation.
The short film, Painting Coconuts - The Audi Quattro Experience, is filled with inspiring craft and passion. It follows David Beattie, owner of Slot Mods USA, and his team as they produce the one of a kind interactive artwork. Every detail is painstakingly hand crafted. The trees are made from dried Japanese Sedum flowers, custom circuits were built for the POV cameras, and when sourcing a 1:32 scale model of the current A4 proved difficult, they 3D scanned a real one and used the digital file to 3D print the slot cars. Check out the making- of video and lots of close ups on the next page…
Everyone (that didn’t learn to anthropomorphize cars from Cars) knows that the headlights are the eyes of a car. Especially in the dark! As a car zooms up on your rear, the glow of their lights in the rear view are all you see… and more often than not, that’s enough to distinguish them.
Well when you see the double V, four eyed headlights appear - you’ll know a Mercedes-Benz 2014 E-Class is coming up on you. While at the Mercedes-Benz Research & Development Studio in Carlsbad, CA yesterday - we joined the #MBRT13 (Mercedes-Benz Road Trip 13 global blogger group going from LA to Detroit) to see the unveiling of the new 2014 E-Class. The first detail to grab you is certainly the lights (even before the unveil it!). “The front end has been completely revised with new headlamps that incorporate all light functions within a single lens, while flowing light elements within the headlamps help to retain the “four-eyed” appearance that is such a distinctive E-Class signature. When it comes to light and sight, the E-Class sets the benchmark - low beam and daytime running lights both come with partial LED as standard, while full-LED headlamps are available as an option for the first time in this class,” says the press release. When you turn the blinker on, the ice cube like units above the swipes of white LEDs light up yellow in sequence, much like playing a piano scale. The effect reminds me of the concept style coupé. Take a peek at the details on the next page! As well as a peek at the crazy basket in the trunk…
Wishing i were in Chicago tonight! The Rotofugi opening looks awesome - Shag’s Goin’ Places toy release and art exhibit have a dozen amazing Shag Skeletons (with pets and drinks) in classic cars! They are making me swoon… (and of course they all got reserved within moments) The cars in the line up? Rolls, XKE, Beetle, Roadster, Lead Sled, Flairbird, Citroen, Nine Eleven, Avanti, Vette, Morgan, and Benz. Take a peek at all of the cars and the show on the next page!
We’ve been following and loving the paper craft characters of Shin Tanaka for some time now… So, while at the LA Auto Show, i was delighted to find scattered around the Scion booth were Shin Tanaka DIY Collabos with Scion… fun Paper Shapers of Scion FR-S, iQ, xB, xC, and xD complete with little speaker sneakers, arms, and more. Too adorable to pass up - i just sat and made them all to share with you! Supposedly there is an app available where you can customize, print, and build your own - but i can’t find it in any app store yet (let me know if you have more luck?) See details as well as an animated teaser video on the next page!
Mercedes-Benz Ener-G Force Concept Car - it’s like the cartoon super hero car that someone between the Fisher Price Rescue Heroes/Team Fortress/Duke Nukem would drive… with an Xterra-esque rear, an FJ like feel, and the illustrations remind me of Kimberly Wu’s JOY concept from 2008. While I was intrigued by the concept images that have been floating around when it surfaced on NOTCOT.org, i didn’t expect to love it as much as i did in person! The sketches are stunning. The attention to details - fascinating! And in person, in the glow of sunset, it really is hard to take your eyes off of. I love that they created the concept and sketches situations of it for Desert, Polar, and Jungle situations using camel, penguin, and monkey icons - even on the tires, which sadly didn’t make it into the final model. However, they did slip in the side view mirror warning: “Penguins, camels, and other wild animals in mirror may be closer than they appear.” Mercedes, please make this into a toy car model - or an R/C car - or a 3D printable R/C car shell… because it is adorable, and would make for some ridiculously fun photoshoots with action figures.
Take a look at the sketches, details, teaser video (the video is pretty epic) - then the unveiling of the full sized model at Mister C in Beverly Hills tonight. There are a LOT of pictures, but there was too much fun not to share! See it all on the next page…
Since my first visit to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, i’ve been hearing about the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center that is nearby in Irvine… we finally made it over there yesterday, getting a peek not only at the pristinely restored cars both on display and for sale in the lobby, as well as a look at what’s waiting in line in the garage and what is currently being worked on in the workshop… and WOW. It is beyond breathtaking. The curves. The colors. The multiple generations of history all in the same room… and to see the wealth of knowledge and incredible attention to detail, as the technicians and engineers inspect not only every part of the car, but also the vehicle’s legitimacy - from verifying its history, and tracking down exact paint colors down to the original chemical mixtures used, to spending years reviving barn finds into “authentic, as-new” conditions. With a small team of around 21 men, it was great to hear that the Irvine Mercedes-Benz Classic Center is a mix of seasoned Mercedes-Benz technicians as well as a few newer apprentices, coming from McPherson College’s Auto Restoration Degree (which is the first degree program in the world available in auto restoration founded in the 70s, and Mercedes-Benz has been a big supporter of it over the years.)
On the next page, take a walk through the garage as well as the incredible Classic Center Workshop and get a peek at what is currently being worked on or in line to be next!
There has been an interesting trend recently of high end luxury cars taking more design/materials queues from yachting… particularly the wooden flooring going into trunk spaces! Remember the Rolls Royce Drophead Phantom Coupé where the paneling opens to showcase a fridge? And there is the 2012 Range Rover Autobiography Ultimate Edition. While those two have teak flooring ~ Mercedes-Benz took it to another level with their CLS Shooting Brake with their American Cherry tree wood with inlaid smoked oak and aluminum rails. These “specially selected veneer sheets are glued and pressed by hand in five layers to attain a high level of dimensional stability. The blanks are milled to their exact format using a CNC machine and the surfaces are ground smooth and impregnated to bring out the wood’s natural beauty,” says the press release.
It was most certainly, the stand out design detail of the new Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake when we were playing with it in Florence ~ and it was fun to see how they used this feature to inspire the design of the press conference in the Castello di Casole’s converted little chapel… from the swooping curves of the seating to projection area… to the metal modular rails that the wood slatted stools and tables locked into… and even the table they displayed the various paint/leather color options of the cars! Take a peen on the next page to see all the fun wooden details of the car and press conference as well as a few other cute details (the tweeters are quite a surprise!) on the next page!
Currently in Florence, Italy with Mercedes-Benz to try out the new CLS Shooting Brake. It’s quite fun (esp the AMG one) ~ and even prettier in person! Josh Rubin of CoolHunting and i were driving together for much of today, and as we went from airport to castle to florence and such, we were ultimately hunting for the ultimate tree/forest lined spot to shoot some car pictures… and as i was driving, Josh suddenly found the perfect spot and although we had to go a few twists and turns before being able to safely turn back to make it up the street he spotted, it was totally worth it!
Welcome to Località Lilliano near Poggibonsi, Siena, Italy. It is one of the most magical streets you’ll ever wander down. The trees are AMAZING. The way they branch… the lush green color… the way they line the whole street… the way the sunlight dances through the leaves and off the matte designo magno white paint job of the CLS Shooting Brake… SO. before i crash this 3am, i had to share these pictures of the Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake and the trees on the next page!!!
There’s something very Rorschach looking about some of the tree images!
I’m delighted to share with you tonight’s latest adventure of an experience with two of our favorites… Mercedes-Benz and Bompas & Parr. What an unexpected duo to team up and take on London Fashion Week by popping up the Mercedes Drive Thru at the Old Selfridges Hotel to solve the problem where “Models, journalists, and buyers go hungry as they dash between presentations and appointments. The Mercedes Drive Thru is our solution, an art installation that serves emotionally compelling food on all fours within 180 seconds of arrival,” says their pamphlet/menu. They continue to say that “Guests emerge holding steaming meat luggage within minutes of entering. You experience a specially commissioned light installation by Jason Bruge Studio, a big and nasty soundscape by Dom James and our troupe of roller-girls, Marawa and the Doughnuteers.” Sound like craziness? Well it is ~ and Mercedes-Benz’s Avant Garde Diaries chose Bompas & Parr to curate this latest experience for us all!
Tonight we got a preview at their opening party which was quite the affair… while the drive thru turned into a walk thru, and instead of a menu, the roller girls were serving quite the assortment of surprising cocktails and munchies in the usual Bompas & Parr fashion (with them we’ve inhaled Campari gas, rowed in Truvia, mini golfed through cakes, and so much MORE) … things really got taken to the next level when the first car came thru… the Mercedes Benz A Class and it’s trunk was full of CHEESE! Then, there’s also the salami step and repeat… the mortadella stools… the glittery high heeled light up roller skates… and so much more. See the video and pictures of all the fun on the next page!
The Where’s Waldo of the 2012 Olympics is definitely spotting the mini radio controlled MINIs! Justine and i just spent far too long scrubbing through hours of Track & Field feeds and watching the latest coverage trying to spot the tiny minis in action… We shared these on NOTCOT.org, but have since learned more, and been obsessed with finding them in action!
What are the Mini MINIs? According to the BMW Press Release, BMW is proud to introduce another critical electric vehicle to the Olympic and Paralympic fleet: the Mini MINI. This specially developed and designed radio controlled electric car will be used on the field of play in the Olympic Stadium to ferry javelins, discuses, hammers and shots back from the field to the throwing area, saving valuable time during competition.
Three Mini MINIs will be deployed for this crucial task and will be operated by Games Makers assigned and trained for this duty. The cars are roughly a quarter scale of the full-sized car and carry the athletic equipment situated inside, accessible through the adapted sunroof. The Mini MINIs are all blue and feature the same Games livery as the ‘full-size’ official fleet vehicles. Each of the three Mini MINIs will cover around 6,000 metres per day in four-hour shifts across nine days of Olympic and nine days of Paralympic competition.
They are surprisingly hard to spot ~ and now oddly satisfying when we do find them… have you seen them in motion? Actually transporting the javelins, etc? See more pics (and share yours with us!) on the next page!
Strangely fascinated by the images and video of the 2012 Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé… you pop open the trunk and you’re greeted by the teak flooring you’d expect on your yacht… which then pops open further to reveal a “comfortable picnic seat for two adults” as well as a mini fridge and a set of “full-sized hand-engraved glasses that were designed by the team at Rolls-Royce.”
As for the inspiration behind the design… “The latest expression of Phantom Drophead Coupé demonstrates a more relaxed and less formal side of Phantom. It displays a sociable character and its convivial interior evokes the feeling of being aboard an elegant motor yacht. Inspired by the J-class racing yachts of 1930s (known for their performance and use of natural materials) the result is a car that epitomises romantic, performance motoring.”
“The optional teak deck was inspired by classic racing yachts. Each deck is hand-made from 30 separate pieces of teak cut from the same tree for consistent grain. Grooves are precision-machined into the wood then hand-finished with black yacht builders’ caulk. This is followed by two sealing coats and a finishing coat of liquid wax to create the elegant tonneau cover for the soft-top when it is lowered.”
See more pictures of these fascinating details on the next page… and imagine the picnic you could have when cruising around…
“Officine Autodromo was founded to recapture a romantic era of motoring. It was a time of Gran Turismo when driving from city to city wasn’t just a matter of hopping onto an expressway. It meant slipping on your driving gloves for a high speed jaunt through the great roads of Europe with a powerful, sweet-sounding engine propelling you into new adventure, and maybe even a little danger. Autodromo watches and accessories draw aesthetic inspiration from the world of mid-century auto racing. Our products have a vintage feel, alloyed with a clean, uncluttered modernist design philosophy. Each new product is conceived as an artifact that might have existed in the past, but is equally at home in the world of today.”
Autodromo’s newest timepiece, the Vallelunga, is a minimal chronograph inspired by 60’s and 70’s Italian Prototype and Grand Prix tachometers. Named after the challenging road circuit outside of Rome designed by Piero Taruffi, the Vallelunga offers a dual-hand timer offset from center and date just above 6’oclock. This would be even more awesome for recording times if you were driving this beautiful Alfa or Lotus Eleven through France like their photos. The optional black or white dial comes with a brushed steel case and a perforated black leather band reminiscent of a vintage Italian steering wheel. Take a look at the beautiful details and packaging on the next page…
The new Mercedes-Benz Concept Style Coupé debuted last night at MOCA during the Avant/Garde Diaries: Transmission LA: A/V Club festival curated by Mike D of the Beastie Boys. In fact, it is integrated into one of the installations you can experience… “The four-door coupé is set in front of a large, matte mirror wall and is illuminated from above by LED panels arranged at a 30-degree angle to accentuate the distinctive, powerfully taut side lines. The LED lights react to a soundtrack that Ad Rock from Beastie Boys produced specifically for the installation.” says the press release… and from the high ceilings, AIAIAI headphones are hanging for you to stand and listen to the soundtrack as you stand in front of the car.
Throughout the party you’d see people midconversation waving their fingers as if mimicking the action of drumming your fingers on a table (pinky to forefinger one by one…) and you know they were all talking about the most fascinating feature of the Concept Style Coupé ~ the kinetic signal lights. With robotic eyelash like plates covering the yellow signal lights it almost feels like the car is trying to flirt with you as it bats its metal eyelashes.
Shawn had a chance to chat with the design/engineering team about how they worked, saying, “The car’s lights were an exciting opportunity for the design and engineering team to play with new technologies and interactions that we may see in the future. Each kinetic turn signal uses one actuator to power the 6 fingers which reveal the yellow light. This works a bit like a camshaft in your engine, where a single rod has multiple oblong attachments that are all rotated slightly. When the rod spins, the appearance is that of drumming or taping your fingers on a table. The main high/low beam light also opens with it’s own unique twist. It rotates open and has the effect of an iris of a lens. The combination of these simple mechanical elements and different lights offers an amazing peek into what the future of automotive lighting may be.” This also means my dream of programming them to move independently isn’t currently possible… it will be interesting to see if they keep this flirty detail in the production vehicle next year. Take a peek at a video of the lights in action on the next page as well as a few peeks at the car in the installation.
It’s another 4am and with so much inspiration from today to share, trying to just pick one to post before passing out… just back from the launch of Mercedes-Benz’s Avant/Garde Diaries: Transmission LA: A/V Club, curated by Mike D of the Beastie Boys at MOCA. A stunning body of work on show, great performance by Santigold, and a peek at the new Mercedes-Benz Concept Style Coupe… but before we get to any of that…
I never thought i’d be the girl wearing a heavy gold chain… especially a gold chain with a Mercedes Emblem! But tonight it happened… I remember as a little girl, being terribly confused when my dad’s Mercedes emblem was stolen. He tried to explain that people turned them into necklaces… It was the 80s. I was pretty young… and it wasn’t until years later that it all started to make sense. Mike D has apparently always had a thing for the car emblems, and even Inspired Fad Boosts VW Emblem Thefts when he was wearing a large VW emblem off a car on a gold chain… So it’s only natural that when curating this art festival (which they gave him carte blanche on!) he created a HUGE Mercedes emblem hanging on a large chain in the central pavillion of the exhibition… as well as a few huge emblems tucked around the space… and then around 25 special chain necklaces with authentic Mercedes-Benz emblems for the artists and key brand folks…
As a girl with a passion for logos and brands since a young age… it was absolutely fascinating to see how far this brand nostalgia goes, and the amusement everyone had seeing the HUGE chain necklace logo pieces as well as the select few roaming the party wearing the Mercedes Necklaces! Christoph Horn (Mercedes-Benz Director of Global Communications) generously gave me his necklace before heading off to china for the autoshow mid party! The details and story of the automotive chain necklace motif are far too fun ~ so take a peek at them (HUGE and life sized) on the next page… they are sure to bring a grin to your face.
p.s. Also take a peek at the brilliant cassette tape USB press kit!