Exotic Car Wish List – McLaren 720S

The first time I saw the 720S I was like…………….. WOW!!! That’s an exotic car!! The look was so sleek. It did not have a big wing on the back or big side scoops or intakes on the hood…………….though they were all there, just hidden in the design. The wheels were literally at the corners of the car giving it a great stance and an invitation to drive it like a go cart……….. it just had that look. This car definitely needed to be on my Exotic Car Wish List!!!

I saw one for the first time while driving on the freeway as it passed by (I was not in my Z06, so no need to try to keep up with it), it was just stunning. Then I got to see one at my local Chevron gas station. It was a matte black color with red calibers……….it looked ready to pounce!! This car exudes exotic car or super car status. It truly stands out next to other exotic cars. The 720S is almost as good as the Z06 on the skid pad………… but not quite….. more on that later.

Exotic Car Wish List
Lets Go!!

The performance of this car is amazing. It is called the 720 because it has 720 PS horsepower. Some European car manufacturers still quote a power output rating called PS, which stands for Pferdestrke, which literally means, ‘horse strength. It’s also known as DIN (Deutsches Institute fr Normung ) hp as measured in Europe, as opposed to SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) bhp as measured in the United States. Based on the Unites States measurement it only makes 710 horsepower……….. either way it is just fast. As one article I read said when approaching a corner, slow down early, you are going faster than you think!!

A Little History

The McLaren 720S sports car was designed and manufactured by British automobile manufacturer McLaren Automotive. It is the second all-new car in the McLaren Super Series, replacing the 650S beginning in May 2017.

The 720S was launched at the Geneva Motor Show on 7 March 2017 and is built on a modified carbon monocoque, which is lighter and stiffer in contrast to the 650S. The 720S is the first all new car to be introduced by McLaren as a part of its plan to launch 15 new cars to the market by 2022. The 720S according to McLaren is 91% new as compared to its predecessor.

MP4-12C

McLaren launched its current three-tier product structure in 2015, dividing their range of cars into the Sports, Super, and Ultimate Series. Cars in the Sports and Super Series are given names based on the car’s power output in PS, followed by a model designation (C for club, S for sport, GT for grand tourer and LT for longtail). The entry-level Sports Series consists of the 570S, 570S Spider, 570GT, 540C, 600LT and 600LT Spider. The Super Series, considered to be McLaren’s core model range, originally included the 650S, 625C, and 675LT. These were replaced with the 720S in 2017 (and 720S Spider in 2018). The high-end Ultimate Series was led by the P1 and P1 GTR, now it includes the Senna, Senna GTR and the upcoming Speedtail, intended to be the successor to the original F1. The F1 and 12C were retroactively included in the Ultimate and Super Series, respectively.

McLaren’s first purpose-built road car was the F1. McLaren Cars went into hibernation following the completion of the F1’s production run, and McLaren didn’t return to the production car market until launching McLaren Automotive in 2010, just prior to the release of the MP4-12C (eventually simplified to just 12C) in 2011.

McLaren F1

McLaren Automotive replaced McLaren Cars in 2010. McLaren Cars was founded in 1985. The company went on to release the McLaren F1 in 1992. Between 1994 and 2010, McLaren Cars was registered as a ‘dormant company’, before the founding of McLaren Automotive in 2010.

McLaren’s Formula One founder Bruce McLaren was born in 1937. McLaren learned about cars and engineering at his parent’s service station and workshop in his hometown, Auckland, New Zealand. By 15, he had entered a local hill climb in an Austin 7 Ulster; winning his first race in the car. In 1958, McLaren arrived in the United Kingdom with the ‘Driver to Europe’ scheme, intended to help Australian and New Zealand racers to compete in Europe. His mentor, Jack Brabham introduced him to Cooper Cars, a small team based in Surbiton, Surrey. Starting his Formula One career in 1958, McLaren joined the Formula One team a year later. That same year, he won the US Grand Prix at age 22, making him the youngest Grand Prix winner to that date. He stayed with Cooper for a full seven years, winning three more Grands Prix and other races, driving for Jaguar and Aston Martin, & winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966 with Ford. He was one of 3 Ford GT 40s that finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd at the 24 hours of Le Mans. If you have not seen the move “Ford vs Ferrari”……. you need too!!

1966 Ford GT 40

McLaren founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing in 1963. A year later, the company built the first McLaren race car – the M1A; 24 were produced. Its successor, the M1B, allowed McLaren into the Can-Am championship and emerged as the dominant driver with 43 victories, almost three times more than rival Porsche. In 1965, the first McLaren Formula One car, the M2B, debuted at the Monaco Grand Prix.

After his victories and time in the F3, McLaren was designing and testing a prototype M6GT-registered OBH 500H, a light sports car with an estimated top speed of 165 mph and zero to 100 mph time of eight seconds. However, McLaren died in a car accident in 1970 before the prototype could be completed.

Some Specs

The 720S features McLaren’s new M840T engine which is an evolution of the M838T used in the 650S. It is a 3,994 cc (4.0 L; 243.7 cu in) twin-turbocharged V8 engine. However, the stroke has been lengthened by 3.6 mm to increase the capacity and 41% of the engine’s components are new. The engine uses new twin-scroll turbochargers which have a low inertia titanium-aluminum turbines which spin with maximum efficiency with the help of actively controlled waste gates. The engine has a rated power output of 720 PS (710 hp) at 7,000 rpm, giving the car its name; the maximum torque is 568 lb⋅ft at 5,500 rpm.

McLaren 720S

The ProActive Chassis Control II active suspension system used in the 720S is an evolution of the system used in the 650S but is 35 lb lighter than the previous version. The new system features accelerometers on the top and pressure sensors at the bottom of the dampers in order to precisely communicate to the car’s on board computer the driving conditions in real time in order for optimum suspension settings. The system uses findings from a PhD course at the University of Cambridge.

The 720S is one of three production cars to ever average higher than 1.0 g around our figure-eight course, the other two being the Corvette Z06 Z07 (1.06 g) and the Porsche 918 Spyder (1.06 g). The 720S averaged 1.05 g, the second-best of all time. The McLaren’s max lateral acceleration is 1.09 g, among the best-gripping cars we’ve ever tested. Its figure-eight time of 22.3 seconds places it in a four-way tie for second place, along with the aforementioned Z06 and Viper ACR plus the Corvette Grand Sport. Best ever? That freak, the 918 Spyder, which managed a 22.2-second lap. Are we impressed with the McLaren 720S yet? (This paragraph was from Motor Trend magazine, 01/31/2018) See what I mean about being almost as good as the Z06…………….ha!!

McLaren Monocage II

The carbon fiber tub used in the 720S’ chassis is based on the similar principle of the MonoCage unit in the P1 but is 40 lb lighter than its predecessor. Called the MonoCage II, the tub allows for dihedral doors (also known as butterfly doors) which move up and out via hinges along the A-pillar with large cutouts for easier entry and exit. It also reduces the size of the pillars of the roof, improving visibility for the driver. The same tub underpins the McLaren Senna and the Speedtail sports cars. This allows the car to be lighter than most of its competitors. The 720S is light, at just 3,167 pounds, compared to the 661-hp Ferrari 488 GTB at 3,412 pounds and The Lamborghini Huracan at 3,419 pounds. Remember that raw power is one thing, but power to weight is everything else. This McLaren FAST!!

Dihedral Doors

The headlights hide air vents that funnel incoming air to two small radiators in front of the wheels. The doors feature air channels that direct air to the engine. The rear of the car features thin LED tail-lights similar to those on the McLaren P1, and two round exhaust pipes. The design was inspired by the great white shark, and features a teardrop-shaped cockpit. All the exterior features result in an improvement of 50% more downforce than the 650S. The interior of the car includes a folding driver display and carbon fiber accents. Checkout this cool video (approx. 3 minutes) from the McLaren website on the design here.

Comfort and Practicality

The McLaren 720S does hit all the exotic car criteria. It is expensive at around $300,000, it is rare with about 1500 cars per year and of course it is crazy high performance!! On the practicality side of things it does have 5.3 cubic feet of cargo space……. enough for maybe one carry on size luggage and a couple of other things, with the convertible you gain another 2.05 cubic feet…………whooohooo!! This of course would not be a problem for those who can afford this car, just stay at nice hotels that have laundry service.

McLaren 720S Spyder

Conclusion

Would this be a great car for a road trip, not sure but I would sure like to find out!! This car might be better on the race track than on a road trip. If you go back to that article I mentioned above from Motor Trend, where the 720S was almost as good as the Z06 on the skid pad, well the 720S was almost 4 seconds faster than the Z06 around Willow Springs raceway. Everwhere I read about the 720S, the most common referecne is this car is FAST!! It has incredible grip and amazing power, what more do we need in our exotic super car………………………just need to figure out what color I want…… that matte black color is pretty sick!!

Please leave comments below

Wes

Exotic Cars and Road Trips, Enjoy the Road

Exotic Car Wish List – C8 Corvette

I saw one……………….. a saw a new C8 Corvette for myself. The mid engine corvette might be the most rumored car over the last 60 years………. that’s how long a mid engine Corvette has been talked about. The official unveiling of C8 was in July 2019, with actual new car deliveries planned for later in the year. We then had the GM strike in the fall which has had an effect on production. Deliveries actually started showing up at dealerships this month (April 2020). They are all sold!! Dealerships are only taking orders for 2021 models.

C8 Side View

Will the exotic car world ever be the same? Should this be on my exotic car wish list? I have said before that an exotic car is expensive, rare, has high performance and is impractical. How does the new C8 match up here? It is not expensive from an exotic car stand point. The base price is $59,950, while the average cost of most C8’s will be around $80,000. A comparable Ferrari, Lamborghini or McClaren will run you close to $300,000. A C8 is not that rare. The production for the C8 for 2020 was to be around 40,000 (the GM strike will reduce that number). Ferrari will produce between 8,000 to 10,000 cars per year with the mid engine Ferrari 488 accounting for about half of that production at approx 4,000 t0 5,000. They will make around 3,000 of the Lamborghini Huracan. The C8 is not impracticable, it has two trunks and is comfortable for a long distance road trip. The one thing the C8 corvette retains from the exotic car world is performance, with a 0-60 time in 2.8 seconds it can preform with any of them.

C8 Engine

It will be interesting to see over the next couple of years if the C8 will change the exotic car world forever…………. how valuable will the rarity of a Ferrari be when the C8 Corvette out preforms it……………………

A Little History

There is a lot of history…………….more than I will cover here. Zora Arkus-Duntov was an engineer who joined General Motors in 1953 after seeing the “Motorama” Corvette on display in New York City. He found the car visually superb, but was disappointed with what was underneath. Many consider Arkus-Duntov the father of the Corvette, though he did not create the car. After seeing the car at the Motorama he reached out to General Motors with a plan to improve the car. After being hired he quickly became the Head of Performance for Corvette. It was 1957 when Arkus-Duntov suggested for the first time the idea of a mid engine corvette.

CERV II

Arkus-Duntov set about transforming the Corvette from an under powered showboat to a performance car that could compete with the best from Europe. In 1955, the anemic 150-hp six-cylinder was replaced by the 265-cubic-inch V-8, the original version of the legendary small-block. In 1957, its displacement was increased to 283 cubic inches, and GM’s first application of mechanical fuel injection helped it attain the magic number of 1 hp per cubic inch of displacement.

Despite these improvements, Arkus-Duntov was aware of the limitations by the Corvette’s front-engine, rear-wheel-drive setup. In 1960, he introduced the CERV (Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle), a test vehicle with a mid-engine V-8, rear-wheel drive, and an open-wheel body. CERV I evolved into CERV II in 1964, again with a mid-engine V-8 and all-wheel drive, separate automatic transmissions and torque converters for each end of the engine, and enclosed-wheel bodywork. Arkus-Duntov tested the CERV II at GM’s Milford Proving Ground and recorded a zero-to-60-mph time of 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 214.01 mph………those numbers are amazingly close to the new C8. In the end, GM said no to the idea.

C8 Corvette

Taking no to for an answer was never Arkus-Duntov’s strong suit. This time he took the front-wheel-drive setup from the Oldsmobile Toronado/Cadillac Eldorado, placed it amidships, and located the V-8 engine transversely, with the automatic transmission on one side and the differential on the other. All-wheel drive could be made possible in the future by adding a front differential and a driveshaft. The car, under code name XP-882, debuted at the 1970 New York auto show; in the hurry to prepare the car for the show, there wasn’t time to come up with a name, so it was simply labeled “Corvette prototype.” Despite the sensation it created, GM once again shot down the idea, deciding the car would be too expensive to produce and would not offer any gains in performance versus the front-engined Corvette.

In all there have been no fewer than 9 mid engine prototype corvettes created over the years. Though they all led to some type of mechanical improvement for the Corvette such as the rear independent suspension on the CERV II which made it to production on the C2 Corvette, the mid engine Corvette was something Arkus-Duntov never witnessed.

CERV III

Arkus-Duntov retired in 1975. Following his retirement Arkus-Duntov remained active in the Corvette community. He passed away in Detroit on April 21, 1996, and his ashes were entombed at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Pulitzer Prize winning columnist George Will wrote in his obituary that “if… you do not mourn his passing, you are not a good American”.

Despite Duntov’s work on the CERV I and CERV II and many mid-engine design studies, the idea of a mid-engine Corvette was not approved by GM management until 2019, (it was, of course approved before 2019 but GM never acknowledged it until they unveiled it 2019,) with the announcement of the release of the eighth generation C8 Corvette.

Some Specs

The Chevrolet Corvette (C8) is the eighth generation of the Corvette. It is the first mid-engine Corvette since the model’s introduction in 1953. The C8 was announced in April 2019, and the coupe made its official debut on July 18, 2019, during a media event at the Kennedy Space Center (referencing its association with NASA) to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. The convertible made its debut in October 2019, alongside the racing version, the C8.R. Production officially began on February 3, 2020, delayed by the 2019, General Motors strike.

C8 Convertible

The C8 retains some design elements found on the C7, but the majority of the exterior has been completely overhauled. The engine’s new location mandated a stronger focus on aerodynamics and cooling; large side scoops house air intakes, and the rear features smaller vents below the taillights. As a result of the switch to a mid-engine layout, the passenger compartment has been shifted forward by 16.5 inches. The cockpit has been designed to be driver-centric, with numerous controls mounted on the center console as well as utilizing a new hexagonal steering wheel. A special Z button (a homage to the Z06, ZR1, Z51 and of course Zora Arkus-Duntov ) is also mounted on the steering wheel; this can quickly activate customized performance settings. Models equipped with the available magnetorheological dampers will also offer adjustable suspension settings.

C8 Interior

The C8 uses a new version of the LS based GM small-block engine derived from the C7 Stingray’s LT1, now called the LT2. The new naturally aspirated V8 is rated at 490 hp at 6,450 rpm and 465 lb⋅ft of torque at 5,150 rpm, an improvement of 40 hp and 10 lb⋅ft over the outgoing C7 Corvette Stingray. The engine uses dry sump lubrication system.

The optional Z51 performance package adds a sport exhaust system to the Stingray, bringing the total power output to 495 hp and torque to 470 lb⋅ft. Car and Driver recorded a 0 – 60 time of 2.8 seconds.

The Stingray is only offered with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission made by Tremec, with no manual transmission option available. The only other model not offered with a manual transmission was the 1953–1955 C1 model. However, the C8 Corvette Stingray does allow for semi-automatic shifting with paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The new dual-clutch transmission has received amazing reviews and has been compared to the PDK automatic transmission for Porsche which is considered the industry standard.

C8 Transmission

The base model of the Stingray comes with unequal length double wishbone suspension at the front and rear axles made from forged aluminum. Monotube shock absorbers are standard at all four wheels. The car can be equipped with a front-axle lifting height adjustable suspension system that can add 2 in of ground clearance at speeds under 25 mph. The Z51 package adds a performance-tuned adjustable suspension setup with threaded spring seats for further setup customization, as well as an electronic limited-slip differential. Additionally, the top-of-the-line FE4 trim level includes the fourth generation of GM’s magnetic ride adaptive suspension system.

Comfort and Praticality

This is another area that the C8 breaks from tradition of being a mid engine exotic with no place for luggage if you would like a long road trip. The C8 has approx 12.6 cubic feet of trunk space. It has a “frunk” (a trunk up front) and a trunk in the back behind the engine. The trunk in back is large enough for two golf bags and the front can accept the equivalent of two “carry on” luggage pieces………… that’s incredible for an “exotic” car. My C7 Z06 has approx 15.0 cubic feet of storage.

C8 Trunk
C8 Frunk

 

There is a small sacrifice with the coupe and its removable top. The top when removed is stowed in the back luggage area……… no room for golf clubs now. Miss Linda and I love to travel with the top off, with the C8 you might be forced to travel with the top on, only removing it when you get to your destination.

The C8 Spyder (convertible) might actually be a better choice here for road trip. In the Spyder, the mechanically operated hard top is stowed on top of the engine. The beauty of this is that the rear trunk is still available for luggage or those two golf bags. Some might be disappointed as the spyder does not allow you to see the engine under the glass like the coupe, though I think I would prefer the ability to travel with the top open while still having room for luggage for a longer road trip.

Conclusion

I will say it again, as I do believe this new mid engine C8 Corvette is going to change the exotic car world a bit. Here is a true high performance mid engine sports car that is comfortable, quiet (when you want it to be), has plenty of luggage space for a long and enjoyable road trip, while being able to enjoy the road with the top down. All this for about a 3rd of the price of most of its competition.

Am I ready to go out a buy one……………… not quite, I still love my C7 Z06 with a manual transmission. I definitely want to drive one, the same as I want to drive all the cars that I put on this list. As I sit here writing this I can honestly say that there is not a car out there that I would want in place of my Z06. That being said, I would absolutely love to have every car on this list in addition to my Z06.

C8

My mind might be changed when the upcoming models for the C8 are available. They are talking of course about the C8 Z06, ZR1 or even rumors of a model referred to as the Zora. The Z06 is to have a new engine similar to the one in the C8.R race car. This is a new naturally aspirated 5.5 liter dual overhead cam V8 engine with a flat plane crank. The speculation is that it will put out something similar to the C7 Z06’s 650 HP and rev to a 9000 RPM scream!! An upcoming ZR1 or Zora model is likely to be a hybrid pushing close to a 1,000 HP…………………… sounds like fun!!

Please let me know your thoughts and leave comments below.

Wes

Exotic Cars and Road Trips…………. Enjoy the Road!!

 

Exotic Car Wish List – Ferrari 458 Italia

The Ferrari 458 is one of the most beautiful Exotic cars ever made……………even today, five years after its last model was on the showroom floor in 2015. The Ferrari has always been my dream car from as early as I can remember. I absolutely love my Z06 and would put it up against any car out there from a performance stand point……………. however there is just something about a Ferrari………… What makes a car Exotic………. they will be expensive, rare, have high performance and be somewhat impractical. The 458 is all these things, though it actually has some practicality………which we will discuss a little later.

So Let’s take some time here and discuss one of my favorite exotic cars of all time and why it is on my exotic car wish list. The best part of writing this is post is that I get to daydream about how much fun it would be right now, to be experiencing this car with the top down on a sunny spring day flying through the twistys on a winding two lane mountain road.

Ferrari 458 Italia

A Little History

Ferrari produces about 8400 vehicles per year. There mid engine super cars like the 458 deliver about half of that production. The 458 was first introduced in 2009 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, with its first model year being 2010. It replaces the Ferrari F430 which has the distinction of being the last Ferrari with a manual transmission, In fact, if you can find a F430 with a manual transmission they are much more valuable today than a F430 with an automatic.

In keeping with Ferrari tradition, the body was designed by Pininfarina under the leadership of Donato Coco, the Ferrari design director.

The interior design of the Ferrari 458 Italia was done by Bertrand Rapatel (Director of Ferrari Interior Design), a French automobile designer.

458 Steering Wheel

The car’s exterior styling and features were designed for aerodynamic efficiency, producing downforce of 309 lb at 120 mph. The front grille features deformable winglets that lower at high speeds, in order to offer reduced drag. The car’s interior was designed using input from former Ferrari Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher; in a layout common to racing cars, the new steering wheel incorporates many controls normally located on the dashboard or on stalks, such as turning signals or high beams. There is a noticeable difference between the F430 steering wheel and that of the 458.

F430 Steering Wheel

The 458 Spider was introduced at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. This convertible variant of the 458 Italia features an aluminum retractable hardtop which, according to Ferrari, weighs 55 lb less than a soft roof such as the one found on the Ferrari F430 Spider, and requires 14 seconds for operation. The engine cover has been redesigned to accommodate the retractable roof system. It has the same 0–62 mph acceleration time as the coupe but has a lower top speed of 199 mph due to the added weight.

Ferrari 458 Speciale A

The 458 Speciale was unveiled in 2013 at the Frankfurt Motor Show as the high performance variant of the 458 Italia. Distinctions of the Speciale over the standard 458 Italia are the forged wheels, vented bonnet, finned side sills, a taller rear spoiler and redesigned bumpers, which include active aerodynamics designed by Ferrari Styling Centre in cooperation with Pininfarina; front and rear movable flaps balance downforce and cut drag at speed.

The 458 Speciale A is the convertible variant of the 458 Speciale which was unveiled at the 2014 Frankfurt Motor Show. The ‘A’ stands for ‘Aperta’, which is Italian for ‘open’ – and the model was limited to only 499 examples (49 RHD examples).

Some Specs

The F136 V8 engine used in the 458

The 458 is powered by a 4,497 cc (4.5 L; 274.4 cu in) engine of the Ferrari F136 family, generating power of 562 hp at 9,000 rpm and 398 lb⋅ft of torque at 6,000 rpm with 80% of that torque available at 3,250 rpm. The engine features direct fuel injection, which was a first for Ferrari mid-engine setups in its road cars.

The only transmission available on the 458 is a dual-clutch 7-speed Getrag gearbox. There is no traditional manual option, making this the fourth road-car after the Enzo, Challenge Stradale and F430 Scuderia not to be offered with Ferrari’s classic gated manual. It was Ferrari’s first mainstream model not to offer a manual transmission.

The car’s suspension has double wishbones at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear, coupled with E-Diff and F1-Trac, traction control systems, designed to improve the car’s cornering and longitudinal acceleration by 32% when compared with its predecessors.

This is a really cool feature as the brakes include a prefill function whereby the pistons in the calipers move the pads into contact with the discs on lift off to minimize delay in the brakes being applied. This, combined with the ABS and standard Carbon Ceramic brakes, have caused a reduction in stopping distance from 62-0 mph to 107 ft. Tests have shown the car will stop from 62.1 mph in 90 feet or in 85 feet with run flat tires, 85 feet from 60 mph and 80 feet from 60 mph with run flat tires.

Ferrari 458 Speciale

For the 458 Speciale introduced in 2013, the engine was revised, with power increased to 597 hp at 9,000 and 398 lb⋅ft of torque at 6,000 rpm. Electronic systems were updated too and side-slip angle control (SSC) was introduced to improve the cars control at the limit. SSC performs instant-to-instant analysis of the car’s side-slip, comparing it with the target value and then optimizing both torque management (via integration with F1-Trac traction control) and torque distribution between the two wheels (via integration with the E-Diff electronic differential). The Speciale accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 3.0 seconds and to120 mph in 9.1 seconds. Ferrari declared a Fiorano test track lap time of 1:23.5, only 0.5 seconds slower than the F12 Berlinetta. Lateral acceleration now reaches 1.33 g.

The 458 Speciale A, (the ‘A’ stands for ‘Aperta’, which is Italian for open)was introduced in 2014. The Aperta has the same 4.5-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine found in the 458 Speciale, which generates a power output of 597 hp and 398 lb⋅ft of torque. 0–62 mph takes 3.0 seconds and the Spider is capable of a top speed of 199 mph. It was the most powerful, street-legal, naturally aspirated Ferrari automobile the company had ever launched in a convertible variant, until it was surpassed by the 790 hp naturally aspirated V12 of the LaFerrari Aperta in 2017.

458 Trunk

Comfort and Practicality

The Ferrari 458 is a comfortable car for two people. I have sat in an 458 and I have driven a F430 and I can tell you they are extremely nice and comfortable inside. The luggage space is a little snug at 8.1 cubic ft. This is almost half of what we had in the GT4 I wrote about which has 14.7 cubic ft and my own Corvette Z06. I have told you that I can easily get two carry on bags in the back of the Vette with plenty of room left over for other items such as the “shoe bag”. You would be hard-pressed to get two carry on’s in the 458. The good news is that Ferrari makes custom luggage for the 458 to maximize your space. Hey, if you’re buying a Ferrari you should be able to afford the Ferrari “custom luggage”.

Conclusion

The Ferrari 458 has been my dream car since it was introduced in 2009 as a 2010 model. For me, the 2015 Ferrari 458 Speciale A (spyder) would be my choice. The added power and the super cool slide-slip angle control (SSC) would be fun to experiment with. The fact that it is a convertible is awesome too. It is so nice to feel warmth of the sun, the wind in the air and the beautiful sound of the naturally aspirated Ferrari sound bounce off those mountain walls while flying through the twisties….Let’s go for a drive!!!

Please leave comments below.

Wes

Exotic Cars and Road Trips

Enjoy the Road

Best California Road Trips – Easter Sunday 2020

It was Easter Sunday 2020………….. Things are a little different this year, with the Covid-19 adventure taking place. Here in California, the entire state is in “Shelter in Place” mode. We are only allowed to leave our homes if going to work or for an “essential” job or to go to the grocery store………. not much else is considered essential. We can’t even go to our neighborhood parks and most state parks and lakes are closed as well.

Some have embraced this situation………… I will only say that I believe the whole thing is a bit overblown and I do not believe its necessary to shut down the entire state, country or the world for that matter. With that being said, it is difficult to embrace this whole thing and we were not ready to set up a “Zoom” meeting get together for Easter Sunday.

The Route

We decided to take a little road trip instead…………….yes, it was essential as we desperately needed to get out of the house. So we decided to make a little trip to the foothills just east of our home. We were hoping the roads would be empty with everyone staying at home and this could be one of our Best California Road Trips……………. though we were very surprised by want we encountered

The Plan

We planned a short little route that would take us about two hours round trip. Traveling these days can be a little tricky, its nice that gas stations and convenience stores are open, however the public restrooms in these places are closed. With restaurants also being closed or open for take out only, you really don’t have any good options to stop for a bite to eat or to use the facilities. For guys, it’s a little easier to stop on the side of the road, however it is a little more difficult for Miss Linda……………. hence our 2 hour road trip.

Downtown Jackson

We decided that we would leave around 1:30 in the afternoon. It was a little cool with overcast skies in the morning, with the clouds breaking up and the sun shining through as our departure time approached. It would be between 65 to 70 degrees for most of our trip. We would go through the little towns of Lockeford and Clements as we headed toward Jackson on Hwy 88. As you go through Jackson, Hwy 88 turns left and heads up toward the Lake Tahoe area. For this trip we would continue straight through Jackson as the road turns to Hwy 49. This section of road lasts 16 miles until it hits Hwy 26. This 16 mile stretch of road was the motivation for this trip as it is a lovely two lane road with some nice esses, big sweeper turns and some nice elevation changes.

As we would merge onto Hwy 26 and head back toward home, we would pass through the little towns of Mokelumne Hill, Valley Springs and Wallace. We would then merge back on to Hwy 88 which, again takes us through Clements and Lockeford as we headed home. As it turned out, our plans changed and our route was slightly altered.

The Cars

Audi R8
Lamborghini Huracan

This was a bit interesting for an Easter Afternoon…………. there were a bunch of cars out on this Sunday…….. Of course, we were in the Z06 with the top off on this beautiful sunny afternoon.

As we were driving up Hwy 88 toward Jackson, we saw a bunch of cars coming in the opposite direction. It was little difficult to catch all of them as they went by……….. but we will give it a try. We see car clubs often on our road trips, they are typically a group of similar cars, like a Porsche club, or Ferrari club. We even saw a group of about 20 mini coopers cruising together on our “Need for Speed” trip on Hwy 128.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

This trip, most of the cars were different. It was difficult to tell if they were all together or just a bunch of exotic cars that were out for a drive on the same day. Let’s see if I can remember all that we saw………… two Audi R8’s, two Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio’s, three Alfa Romeo 4C’s, one Ferrari F430, one Lamborghini Gallardo, one Lamborghini Huracan, two Ford Shelby GT 350’s and another Z06 that was all black. Quite a collection of cars you don’t typically see on this drive, though it was pretty cool!!

The Road

As I mentioned earlier, the motivation for this trip was this 16 mile stretch of road just outside of Jackson on the Hwy 49 bypass. I have been trying to catch this section of road empty of cars for many years and have so far been unsuccessful. The only time I have ever been on this stretch of road without traffic and to be able to truly enjoy it, was when my beautiful wife Miss Linda was driving her 97 Porsche Boxter……. I was simply a passenger and extremely jealous as she got a bit aggressive and enjoyed the road.

The Road Ahead

The drive to Jackson is a nice two lane road with some long straights and some big lazy turns………… not a lot of real aggressive corners. This section of road is usually always busy with the Highway Patrol waiting to write you a ticket and today was no exception. We saw one of the a fore mentioned Alfa Romeo’s pulled over……….. we knew then this was not going to be a great aggressive driving day.

When we hit that 16 mile stretch of road we were stuck behind quite a few cars…………… unfortunately they were not some of those exotics I mentioned earlier………….. no they were your local pickup trucks and SUV’s that were not even going the speed limit…………… I was super frustrated but decided to enjoy the nice weather and enjoy the road………………. this was OK for a while, however i soon found myself aching to get a little more aggressive, at one point we even pulled over to the side of the road in hopes of letting the slow traffic get way ahead but also looking out for other slow cars coming from behind…….this helped a little, but we always seemed to catch up to those slow cars again way to fast.

 

waiting for traffic

 

Our plans changed as we approached the main section of Hwy 49 to head home. We decided to turn around and head back the way we came in hopes of a chance of less traffic and a chance to enjoy the road. We definitely had better luck and we were able to enjoy the road a little more, though we did end up behind slower cars again.

The Destination

The original plan was to make a big circle and get home in about 2 hours. This is one of those rare trips that we did not have an actual destination or a cool dive bar to be found along the way…………. they were are all closed.

As we had mentioned we ended up turning around and going back the way we came. Our route home was just the opposite of the drive there.

Conclusion

Any road trip is a good trip. Just the joy of the drive, the feel of the wind and the perfect temperature for a great drive. We did not have the same adventure or opportunity to see or do new things, however the car and drive still reminded us of the true value of a road trip and the freedom it provides!!

Please leave comments below

Wes

Exotic Cars and Road Trips

Exotic Car Wish List – Porsche Cayman GT4

Have you ever been asked what car would you most like to drive if price was no object ? Well for me it is the 2020 Porsche Cayman GT4. What………….. really……….. yes really. Of course, I would also like to drive a $300,000 Lamborghini, Ferrari or McLaren…….. I will get to these later. The GT4 to me is the best driver’s car on the market today!! This is why it is the first car on my Exotic car wish list.

GT4

My wife, Miss Linda has a 1997 Porsche Boxter with a manual transmission. It is one of the most fun cars to drive. If you read one of my other post, the “Next 140 Miles”, you know that two of my Buddy’s on that trip had the Porsche Cayman S. There was just something about those cars and the graceful way they went through the twisties and back roads, so smooth and fast. Whether I was watching through my windshield as I followed or watching in my rear view mirror when I was leading……………… I just kept thinking I want to drive that car.

There are other exotic cars with more power that are faster…………… but for the pure joy of driving, the balance, power and manual transmission make for one of the best driving experiences ever!!

exotic car wish list

A Little History

The original Porsche Boxster (the 986) was introduced in late 1996 as a two seat mid engine convertible sports car. It was Porsche’s first originally designed roadster since the Porsche 914. The original 986 was powered by a 2.5 liter flat six cylinder engine.

In 2005, Porsche debuted the second generation of the Boxster, type 987, with a more powerful engine and styling inspired by the Carrera GT. That was followed by the introduction of the 2006 Porsche Cayman. The Cayman is a coupe derived from Porsche’s second generation Boxster roadster. The car is not named after the Cayman Islands. Both the car and the islands are named after the caiman, a member of the alligator family. When the first Cayman arrived at dealerships for sale, the automaker adopted four caiman alligators at Stuttgart’s Wilhelma Zoo.

Introduced in 2016 for the 2017 model year, the Porsche Boxster and Cayman were renamed the Porsche 718 Boxster and Porsche 718 Cayman. The bad news at this time was the fact that Porsche had replaced the flat six cylinder engines with turbo charged 4 cylinder engines. While performance in most cases was a little better with the turbo 4, the soul of the 718 was not the same. There is nothing quite like the sound of a Porsche flat six cylinder engine with its steady linear acceleration!!

GT4

The first Cayman GT4 was available in 2015 and 2016. It had a slightly detuned 3.8 liter from the 911 GT3 making 385 HP and 310 lb-ft torque. It road 1.2 inch lower than a standard Cayman and came with a six speed manual transmission. The GT4 was a track focused car with limited production. The production numbers were supposed to be around 2500 worldwide with approximately 1200 coming to the US………….. not sure where the final numbers ended up.

Some Specs

The Porsche 718 Cayman is considered by many to be the perfect sports car. It handles with precision and engages the driver like no other car can. The proportions and mid engine design and weight make this one of the best handling cars on the road today.

The new 2020 GT4 takes all that the Cayman has to offer and enhances it with precision and poise. The best part of the new GT4 is the return of a naturally aspirated six cylinder engine along with a six speed manual transmission with auto blip feature, which is also referred to as rev matching. If you are not familiar with rev matching…………in my opinion it is one of the coolest features ever! If you are like me and only get to the track once a year or even once every other year, your track skills are not at their peak. One of the things I never got good at was the whole heel toe thing. This is where, during braking, you keep a portion of your foot on the accelerator to keep the rpm’s up as you downshift so you can accelerate faster out of the corner, the auto blip or rev matching does this for you………… it is so cool!!

The engine is based on the turbocharged 3.0 liter from the 911 GT3 RS. It has been bored and stroked to 4.0 liter and is now turbo free for use in the GT4. The free breathing six cylinder can rev to 8000 rpm and makes 414 HP at 7600 rpm and 309 pound-fee of torque from 5000 to 6800 rpm. The suspension technology and brakes have also been borrowed from the 911 GT3 RS where the lower control arms have ball joints instead of bushings and the rear control arms have helper springs to offer incredible handling, the brakes have 15 inch rotors all around with six-piston calipers up front and fours in the rear. You can also option for the 16.1 inch fronts and 15.4 rears with optional carbon ceramics and adaptive dampers.

The Wing

Comfort and Practicality

The GT4 is a track focused car. Most of the suspension parts can be manually adjusted for track use and it has only one driving mode………… sport. Most cars these days have multiple driving modes for comfort, sport or track………… not here as this car again is focused for the track. That being said, for the pure pleasure of driving, this would be a fabulous car for a road trip. You would want make sure that the roads you are headed for are in good repair and mostly smooth as the ride in the GT4 will be stiffer than most.

The interior is plenty comfortable for two people. I have experience riding as a passenger in Miss Linda’s Boxster and have also ridden as a passenger in my Buddy’s Cayman S. I was comfortable and had plenty of room in both. The GT4 interior is very similar save for the strap door handles.

Door Handle Strap

With two luggage compartments, the Cayman GT4 is a surprisingly practical. The rear compartment measures 9.5 cubic feet and the front 5.2 cubes. At 14.7 cubes combined, that’s about as much cargo space as in some sedans. Of course, because the GT4 doesn’t have one large trunk, larger items will struggle to fit, however you should have plenty of room for luggage for a weekend get away.

Interior

Conclusion

The Cayman has always been recognized as a great driver’s car, though in recent years it had lost its soul with the turbo 4 cylinder. With the new GT4 and its new 4.0 liter six cylinder singing the tunes we love while being engaged in the driving experience as we roll through gears while braking for corners and then accelerating out of them……….. could there be anything better. Yes, there are cars out there that have more power, more features for less money, but you won’t care if you are driving a GT4 because you will be having more fun than any of them.

This is the car that I most want to drive!!!

Please leave comments below

Wes

exoticcarsandroadtrips.com

Exotic Car Wish List

The other day I did a search for best road trip cars…………I was completely surprised when almost every list I found had minivans listed…………..EEEK. Now, I get it from one perspective, lots of room for family, luggage, the dog, maybe even camping.

No, what I was looking for was exotic cars that would be the most fun to drive on a nice winding two lane road. From my perspective the car and the road are what inspires the trip. The destination and the cool places you find along the way are the bonus not the motivation……………….yes, it is all about the road and the car!!

What is an exotic car…………. in most cases they are expensive, rare, impractical and high performance. These cars will not always be the best for lots of luggage, kids, dogs and certainly not camping. They will typically be two seaters and not always the most comfortable for the passenger………………. but boy o boy what fun for the driver. Actually we will pay attention to the passenger comfort…….. we need are partners to enjoy the trip so we can do more.

I’m going to start a list of the exotic cars that I am the most interested in driving……….. most of these cars I have not driven yet, so it’s going to be more like my wish list of the best road trip cars. Please come back and see as the list grows (no minivans here).

Thanks,

Wes

exoticcarsandroadtrips.com

Best California Road Trips

Hello and thank you for checking out my website. I will be creating a series of road trips that we have already taken or plan on taking in the future. Our first series will be “Best California Road Trips”. As we live in Northern California (about 30 miles south of Sacramento) most of our series so far have been in Northern California, however there are so many great driving roads in all parts of the state that we will eventually report on as well.  We will provide info on how the trip was planned, the car for the trip, the road that inspired the trip and the destination that the road took us to. Please fill free to respond with comments or tell your own story.

Best California Road Trips – NEXT 140 MILES

So, you’ve probably been wondering where the picture of my car and the sign “NEXT 140 MILES” was taken…… well, this is the road trip behind the sign.

The Route

My next door neighbor Mike, who has a Porsche Cayman S had told me about Hwy 36 in Northern California. He had traveled this road many times as his wife had family in the area. He had told me what a great driving road this was. Mike was a car guy like myself and enjoyed a good driving road. We had talked about taking this trip together one day.

This turned out to be one of my favorite road trips ever. When we hit the road there were four of us in 4 different cars. This was one of my most aggressive driving road trips ever…………… we had no passengers on this trip which was a good thing. In fact, this road trip was better than most of the track days I’ve had and is why this is another in our series of Best California Road Trips.

The Plan

My neighbor Mike had reached out to me in late October and asked if I would be interested in making a run to Hwy 36. The plan was to hit the road about two weeks later on Friday November 9th.

Mike had also invited a couple friends who were also car guys that I had not met. Jonathan, who has a Porsche Cayman S and Alex who has an Alfa Romea Giulia Quadrifoglio. They were all great guys and this was one “EPIC” road trip!!

The plan was to all meet up at a gas station just north of Sacramento, Ca off I-5. We would then head north about another hour to Willows, Ca were we would stop for lunch and then head a little farther north to Red Bluff, Ca where we would catch Hwy 36 and head west to Fortuna, Ca.

Little did we know at the time what devastation the fire that broke out just the day before on Thursday in Paradise, Ca would become. It was the deadliest fire in California history and the entire town of Paradise was essentially destroyed. We could see the smoke to the east of us as we headed north on I-5 Friday morning, however once we headed west on Hwy 36 it was behind us and out of sight. It did hit home how bad it was the following day as we were driving back on Hwy 36 heading east and could see the amount of smoke ahead of us.

This would be just a two-day trip. The plan was to hit Hwy 36 for the “NEXT 140 MILES” on Friday, stay the night in Fortuna, have some dinner and wine and then hit Hwy 36 again for the next day all over again as we headed home.

 

Mike’s Cayman
Jonathan’s Cayman

 

The Cars

This time we have a cool collection of cars to talk about. Mike has 2015 Cayman S 981 with a 3.4L naturally aspirated 6 cylinder that makes that sweet Porsche sound. This was just before Porsche switched to the turbo charged 4 cylinders for the Cayman. Though the performance of the new turbo charged 4 cylinder is similar to the 6 cylinder version……….. the engine sound does not come close to that of the 6 cylinder engine………………..and yes, the sound of the engine is important!!

Z06

Jonathan also has a Porsche Cayman S 981. This Cayman is very similar to Mike’s though it is a 2014 model. It has the same basic engine as Mike with a 3.4L 6 cylinder making about 325 hp and 273 ft lb of torque (torque is basically your low end power, with the hp being your top end power). Both Mike and Jonathan’s Porsche had the famous Porsche PDK automatic transmission which is considered the best in the world………….and it is!! It is absolutely amazing how quickly they shift gears without ever having to lift off the gas.

Alex has a 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. This car was a surprise to me as a 4 door sedan. It has a 2.9L twin turbo 6 cylinder engine making 505 hp and 443 ft lb torque. The engine is basically a Ferrari 8 cylinder engine minus two cylinders. Alex had no issues keeping up with us and in fact might get the award for the most aggressive driver on this trip. You can always tell the difference between a Standard Alfa Romeo Giulia and the Quadrifoglio as the Quadrifoglio has the 4 leaf clover on the fender where the standard Giulia does not. The Alfa has a ZF automatic transmission which is also rated a great automatic transmission and of course faster than a manual.

Then of course there is me in my 2016 Corvette Z06 with a 6.2L 650 hp and 650 ft lb torque. Though I have more power than the other cars in the group, there was some concern of whether I would be able to keep up with manual transmission against the quick shifting automatics…… lets just say I did OK.

The Road

Wow!! Hwy 36 was definelty an epic drive. The “NEXT 140 MILES” of two lane road was amazing with long straights, tight switchbacks, roller coaster hills, big sweepers and great elevation changes.

Hwy 36

Alex had a great set up with camera’s in his car. He had one showing the road ahead, one for the road behind and one to show the side. He also had a camera inside as he described the road and the drive along with a drone that he used a couple of times to get some great shots from above. Alex put together a great video of our trip, you can view it here. It runs about 31 minutes.

All four of had walkie-talkies that we were able to communicate with each other. This was great as we were able to take turns leading, following and making passes so we could share with each other whether or not it was safe to pass. This really added a level a safety for all of us and I would highly recommend using walkie-talkies when doing road trips like this.

As with most road trips of this type there is the occasional slow car that you get behind and passing is not always an option. For the most part, all the cars that we got behind would pull over at their earliest opportunity and let us pass. There were two vehicles that stand out as not wanting to move over. The 1st was a little red car (not sure what make). It was trying desperately to stay ahead of us. The car was driving a little to fast for what it could handle, though it hung in there for as long as it could and eventually pulled over. The other was a large white dually pick up truck. This truck was amazing as it was really moving. We did have to slow just a bit behind this truck……………. but not much. This truck was moving so quickly that we really didn’t mind being behind it for a while. It eventually pulled over as we passed through a small town.

Why was this road trip better than a track day? If you have ever been to a track day, you typically do not spend more than 20 to 30 minutes on the track at a time. You will be on the track for about 20 minutes and then off and wait around for an hour or so and then back on the track for another 20 to 30 minutes. On this trip we were driving hard for over an hour. I had never been able to drive that aggressively for that amount of time before. About an hour into our drive we all pulled over to the side of the road for about a 10-minute break. My adrenalin was going and my palms were sweaty…………… this was amazing. After our brief break we headed out again on our way to Fortuna. In the end we made the run in about 2 hours. We had averaged about 85 mph on this epic 140 mile drive!!

The Destination

The road once again was the destination…………….. though we did need to find some lunch on the way up and a place to stay and eat dinner so we could make the drive again the next day on our way home.

Nancy’s Airport Cafe

On the way up to Red Bluff we all stopped in Willows at Nancy’s Airport Cafe at the exit for Hwy 162. This is small local airport with two runways. This is also the same exit that you would take to go to Thunderhill Raceway………. I hope to have a post soon about a track day at Thunderhill!! The food and service were great!!

When we arrived we stayed at the Bear River Casino, just north of Fortuna. We each had brought a bottle of wine with us (amazing we did not break any bottles with the crazy driving we were doing). After checking into our rooms we all met in Mikes room and shared a couple of bottles of wine while we talked about the day and cars and the drive.

We then headed out to dinner. This was another great aspect of Alex’s Alfa Romeo as it was a 4 door, 4 passenger sedan that we were all able to ride together in for dinner. We ate at Angelina Woodfired Kitchen. This was a locally owned farm to table type of place as they had their own farm right next door.

Angelina Woodfired Kitchen

The following morning we all headed down to the Ocean as we were on the coast. Alex got a great shot of this with his drone that you can see in his video. After that we stopped for gas and hit Hwy 36 again for the “NEXT 140 MILES” for another epic drive on our way home.

Another Great Road Trip

This was one of the best road trips I’ve had to date. What could be better, a great road, great cars and great friend!!

I would like to take this trip again with Miss Linda………. at a slightly slower pace and enjoy the scenery a little more.

This was another great road trip in our series of Best California Road Trips.

Please leave comment below.

Enjoy the Road!!

Wes

Best California Road Trips – Day Trip Georgetown Ca

This was just a quick little 1 day trip up to Georgetown Ca. It was a Sunday morning in mid February, the sun was out and the sky’s were clear……. a beautiful day. The temperature was in the mid to high 50s, so it was still a little nippy out. A little ice on the road would make for bit of a nervous and cautious adventure. We planned on leaving around 10:00 AM that morning and getting to Georgetown around lunchtime as it would take between about two hours to get there. With that we were off to another in our series of Best California Road Trips.

The Route

The Plan

A day trip does not require a lot of planning. So this plan came together Sunday morning and a little later we were on the road. We would leave at about 10:00 AM and get to Georgetown about noon and find a place to eat. After that, we would head out to Wentworth Springs Rd. This starts out as Main Street in Georgetown and heads east. As you are leaving Georgetown it becomes Wentworth Springs Rd.

Wentworth Springs Rd is Approximately 35 miles until you reach a fork in the road that is Ice House Rd. Our plan was to drive to Ice House Rd and then turn around and come back. Today our trip was more about the driving than the destination.

 

The Car

Of course we are in the Z06 again. We were able to take the top off the car today as it was a beautiful clear sunny day. We did have sweatshirts and the heater on as it was only about 58 degrees outside. It was so nice to feel the cool crisp air, the rumble of the car as we enjoyed the nice mountain road.

As much as I love this car, it and I are “fair weather” road trippers. My wife and I try to avoid rain, ice and snow. On this day we would find some ice on the road.

The car has many driving modes, one of them being a weather mode. I was able to try out weather mode on a track day when they were showing us driving skills. They put us out on a wide open patch of pavement covered in water. They had us try to maintain control as we made high speed turns on the wet surface………… needless to say it was difficult to maintain control of the car and most of us were doing donuts. The instructors had us put the car in “weather mode” and we tried again. It was completely impossible to make the car spin out or do a donut…………….. so it does work. Even with that great feature we still try to avoid those days when the weather is not great.

Stumpy Meadow Lake

The Road

The road of course is the reason for the trip. Wentworth Springs Rd is about 35 miles from Georgetown to Ice House Rd. Wentworth Springs Rd does continue on after Ice House Rd, though our plan was to turn around at Ice House Rd and enjoy the road some more on the return trip.

As you know by now I really hate driving on the freeway. I always get nervous and uptight as all the cars are weaving in and out traffic trying to get somewhere………….. I just slow down and watch. It is somewhat strange to some that as I find those nice two lane winding roads, I start driving faster with an aggressive intent, that I actually start to relax and enjoy the road.

We did have about an hour of freeway driving on this trip until we got off of Hwy 50 at the Ponderosa exit which took us to Hwy 193, which is a nice two lane winding road to Georgetown.

Wentworth Springs Rd is a nice two lane mountain road. It is a nice wide well maintained Rd that has some nice tight turns, big sweepers and some nice hills and drops. As we were about 15 miles along we passed by Stumpy Meadow Lake. Then as we get to the higher elevations we can also see the remains of a California forest fire. There is a lot of evidence of fire with some barren land and burnt remains of the trees that stood in the distance.

On this day our trip was cut short. Though the weather was great, it was still the middle of February. There had not been any snow in the area for over a month and we did not expect any issues. We did notice about 5 miles into our drive that there were a lot of wet patches in the shade and then about 15 miles in we saw some ice on the shoulder of the road. This of course caused us to slow down a bit and not be as aggressive with our driving, though we would continue on. Then about 20 miles in we came to a section of the road were about three quarters of the road was covered with ice………….. this made us a little more cautious. In fact at this point we decided it would be best to turn around and not press our luck.

The Divide

The destination

Well, the destination was Georgetown where Wentworth Springs Rd begins. My lovely wife Miss Linda as she usually does was checking out Yelp as we drove to Georgetown. She found a nice little place called “The Divide”. This turned out to be a great little local favorite. They served an array of burgers and sandwiches. My wife had a BLT with parmesan crusted sour dough bread that was great. I had a grilled cheese with bacon also on the parmesan crusted sourdough bread that was also great. One of the joys of our road trips are these little places that we find that you would never know about.

Conclusion

Such a great day!!! A trip such as this is so nice as it does not take a lot of planning and is a great way to spend a day. The joy of the road, the beautiful weather, my lovely wife Miss Linda and the wind blowing through our hair……… or across my shiny head………….Even with the drive being cut short because of some ice in the road, it was still a great way to spend the day. Always enjoy the road!!

Please leave comments below!!

Wes

Best California Road Trips – Justin Winery

This is an annual trip we have been taking since about 2010. It has turned into one of our favorite “Road Trips”. It was around 2016 when a friend told us about Hwy 198, that is when every thing changed.

Route

My wife had discovered Justin Wines on a girls weekend get-a-way to the Paso Robles wine region. She liked it so much she became a wine club member which has led to our annual trips for a variety of Justin Wine Events. Justin Wine’s Isosceles has become my very favorite wine!!

When our friend told us about Hwy 198 and how much she thought I would enjoy the road, we had to incorporate this road on our annual trip. Since the discovery of Hwy 198, this has become one of our favorite Best California Road Trips.

The Plan

This year we decided to go down for Justin Wine’s “Vineyard View Dinner”. This was going to be in August. We asked our friends Mike and Jill if they would like join us this year (Mike’s a “car guy”). They agreed and we made our plans. Our trip would begin in Monterey Ca. Once again we will not talk about the 2 to 3 hours of traffic on the interstate to get to Monterey.

We planned on getting to Monterey around Lunch time and then head down Hwy 1 along the California Coast to Cambria Ca where we would stay for this two night trip. The drive home would take us east on Hwy 46 to Hwy 101 which would take us to Hwy 198, which is about 50 miles of some of the best driving roads anywhere………… Lets Go!!

Cambria Boardwalk

The Cars

Yes, we are in the Z06 again. This trip is a perfect example of why I love this car so much. As I have said before we could have some debate on the Z06 being an “exotic car”. Exotic cars are typically rare, expensive and impractical while being great performance cars. The Z06 is not rare and it is not overly expensive. The Z06 can match almost any exotic car in performance and is more practical then most exotic cars. On this trip we were able to travel with the top roof removed and stowed in the back with two pieces of luggage and of course the shoe bag.

Cayman & Z06 at Paso Winery

Our friends, Mike and Jill were in their 2015 Porsche Cayman. I love these cars, they are so great for road trips. Mike’s Cayman has the good six cylinder engine, before the Cayman went to the turbocharged 4 cylinder version. The Cayman is also a great road trip car with storage available in the front and in the rear. If I was to have another favorite road trip car it would be a Porsche Cayman, in fact the 2020 Porsche Cayman GT4 with a six speed manual is the new car I am most interested in driving. When I get my chance to drive this car I will tell you all about it.

The Road

Hwy 1 can have overcast skies and fogging days most of the summer months of June, July and August. This trip was taking place in August which means the weather could be good or bad. On this trip the weather was perfect with clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine

Hwy 1

This was also Pebble Beach car week for the 2019 Concours d’Elegance. We had thoughts of checking out one of the cas shows on the way………… but after realizing that the line for the car show was taking 3 hours to get in we decided to just head down Hwy 1 to our destination. This turned out to be a great car show on its own, there were cars everywhere as we began our trip. Pretty sure we saw Clint Eastwood in a blue Ferrari as we were leaving the Monterey area. As we headed south on Hwy 1, almost every car heading north was some type of exotic or vintage car heading to Pebble Beach. The weather this day was spectacular with the ocean crashing against the jagged rocks below and blue skies above. Hwy 1 could be a spectacular driving road, however it typically does not happen, Hwy 1 is almost always busy and the views are such that it makes the most since to enjoy the views and have a safe drive.

Hwy 198 was a great discovery. This is about 50 miles of some of the best driving roads anywhere………… it is definitely one of my favorites! In fact, Motor Trend uses this road for their annual “Best Driver’s Car” competition with the track portion taking place at Laguna Seca. Motor Trend actually closes off about a 4-mile section of the road with the assistance of the California Hwy Patrol.

We take Hwy 198 on our return trip home. We leave Cambria and head East on Hwy 46 for about 20 miles to Hwy 101 and then north about 30 miles to the exit for Hwy 198. The exit for Hwy 198 off Hwy 101 has no services……. no gas station, no convenience store…….. nothing. This is fantastic because hardly anyone takes this exit. It is about 50 miles on Hwy 198 to Coalinga Ca. Coalinga is a small farming community………….. the bottom line, there are very few cars on this road. We will typically not see more than 4 cars for the entire 50 miles. Hwy 198 is a wide well maintained two lane road, with big sweeping turns, some great twisties and several elevation changes. It offers some of the best opportunities for some aggressive driving anywhere you can find!!

Hwy 198

The Destination

There are a lot of places to see and enjoy on this trip as you travel down the coast. Along the way about 6 miles north of Cambria is Hearst Castle. If you have never stopped there it is a must see! The property is over 250,000 acres and it truly is a Castle!! The view from the top is amazing. It is almost impossible to see everything in one trip. The year we stopped by they were refurbishing the “Neptune pool” so we will definitely be going back to see it again.

Neptune Pool

We stayed at the Cambria Landing Inns & Suites. This is a great place to stay right on the Ocean’s edge with great views. Right next door is the Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill, we’ve had a many great meals here!

There are almost 200 wineries in the Paso Robles Wine Country, you could spend days finding them all. We enjoyed some really good wine at the Tooth and Nail Winery, which has a “castle” theme with an actual mote.

The Justin Wine Dinner was an amazing event. It was one of the best wine pairing dinners we have ever had. Our wives had the Reserve Wine selection while Mike and I had the regular………. it didn’t matter as all of Justin wines are spectacular!! Though the reserve wines are just a little better.

Justin Wine

 

On the way home we typically stop for lunch at the Los Reyes Mexican Restaurant in Coalinga after our drive on Hwy 198. It always hits the spot.

After Coalinga, it is about 10 miles east to I -5 and the boring 3 hours drive on the interstate home.

Another Great Trip

As with most of our trips the road is the star and the reason, however this one is a little different as the destination was great before we discovered what a great driving road experience it could be. We look forward to this trip every year as we know how much we enjoy the road and there are so many more places along the way to discover!!

Enjoy The Road!!

Wes