Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Down Memory Lane

Brigitte Bardot

While the entertainment world flocks to the Cannes Film Festival this week, it’s a great time to look at the role that one particular car played in Cannes more than 50 years ago.

Back in 1955, actress Brigitte Bardot turned heads even more than usual when, instead of arriving at Cannes by train, she pulled up in a French-made Simca. And, as the media of the day noted, she wore a “summer dress that unveils her shoulders.” Not exactly a Britney moment, but racy enough for the day, I guess.

It’s unclear when Bardot began her association with Simca, but it appears that the two enjoyed a long and mutually satisfying relationship. In 1954, the car company gave the screen star this prototype of its Weekend convertible. She continued using that car in advertisements for the company, including this undated magazine photo (top) which shows her “Enjoying the open air in her Simca Weekend.”

Bardot loved the Simca Weekend convertible so much that she kept it until 2004. Today, it enjoys a place at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, where the handmade dove-gray car sits alongside some 400 other rare and unusual autos. The serial number on this sleek vehicle, which loosely resembles a Fiat, is 001.

The bottom picture is the car as it appears today at the museum.

They’re Cute, But How Smart Are They?

Posted in: General, Smart Cars

Smart fortwo car

No, I’m not talking about the guys on the new season of “The Bachelorette.” I’m talking about the cute-as-a-bug Smart fortwo cars, the Mercedes-Benz by-product that came to the U.S. with its 2008 model and now has a year-long waiting list.

With mileage in the 40 mpg range, and options that let you customize this half-pint cruiser to fit your personality, the Smart fortwo has definitely won over American hearts. But for those who care about more than just mileage, the big question has constantly been “Is it safe?”

Granted, crawling inside one of these surprisingly spacious mini-cars (it makes the Mini Cooper look like a moving van…) will inevitably bring up the question of safety. Citing factors such as steel bracing, elevated seat design and a specially designed steel “crash box,” Smart has stood by the safety of its cars since day one.

This weekend, a report on CNN reinforced what Smart-smitten consumers have hoped for when it aired an interview with Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. That stiff safety cage and other design features earned the Smart fortwo the Institute’s two highest ratings in a high-speed crash. It earned an “A” (for “Acceptable”) in both front and rear-end collisions for cars in their class.

Keep in mind the last four words of that sentence – they’re saying that, if you want to downsize your automobile, the Smart fortwo is a good bet; just don’t expect the same safety benefits of such gas-guzzling behemoths as the Hummer or Escalade. It does mean, however, that if you want to reduce the emissions you’re contributing to the planet and save a few bucks on your gas bill at the same time, this is a good way to go.

And face it, when’s the last time you found something that was cute, Smart and didn’t mind sleeping in the garage all night?

So, Helio, Where’s That Speedo?

Posted in: General, Women Drivers

Texas Motor Speedway\'s Danica Patrick adThere’s no question that Danica Patrick, in addition to being an excellent driver, is a very attractive woman. And since sex sells, Texas Motor Speedway is using her beauty to help encourage foot traffic at the track.

The Speedway’s latest advertising campaign gives Reason No. 7 for attending the Bombardier Learjet 550 race at the track on June 7: Danica. And they’ve used a photo from Danica’s recent Sports Illustrated swimsuit spread to help reinforce that message.

It’s a beautiful photo, as one would expect – it shows her as a strong, sexy woman. But if they’re going to advertise female drivers as pin-ups, doesn’t it only seem fair that they take the same approach with the male drivers? In other words – we expect to see Helio Castroneves appearing soon on a billboard wearing his Speedo. In fact, since he’s also scheduled to be at the June 7 event, there’s still time to make that happen. How ’bout it, Helio?

Accepting No Substitutes

Posted in: General, Porsche

That\'s me in a 2007 Porsche Twin Turbo...

Apparently, Tom Cruise was right on the money when he uttered those much-quoted words: “Porsche. There is no substitute.” (Risky Business, 1983.)

According to a survey released earlier this month by New York City-based Luxury Institute, wealthy U.S. consumers still see Porsche as the world’s most prestigious luxury automotive brand. The poll was part of the 2008 Luxury Brand Status Index survey, and asked the opinions of 1,642 Americans with an average net worth of $3.7 million.

Porsche might have led the pack, but was followed closely by Lexus and Mercedes. Surprisingly, no Italian brands made the survey’s top 12. Other brands that did make the cut with consumers were (listed alphabetically) Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln and Volvo.

If you don’t have a Porsche of your own, and this has given you the need for speed, go visit my friend Ron at DFW Elite Auto and he’ll hook you up with a Porsche for the day.

In Case You Didn’t Get What You Wanted…

Posted in: General, Hi-end eyewear

Luxuriator\'s Canary sunglasses

Yesterday, we celebrated Mother’s Day – the one day of the year where we pay tribute to mom by giving her a day off. Normally there are gifts, cards and flowers involved, but if your celebrations came up a little bit short, here’s a way to indulge yourself with a gift that will keep on giving.

Luxuriator Collection has rolled out its most expensive pair of sunglasses yet, and you might need to wear a pair of shades just to look at them! With 132 hand-cut diamonds, and a two-carat Canary diamond in the corner of one lens, the Luxuriator Canary Due 032 is truly the world’s most dazzling pair of sunglasses. With a total carat weight of 3.45, and temple pieces made of Buffalo horn, chances are these beat the pants off anything you’ll find at Sunglass Hut. (And, if by chance you don’t like the horn sidepieces, you can swap them out for a customized version wrapped with python or lizard.)

Yes, these glasses will set you back about $65,000. But I’m guessing you’ll be the only mom on the block who owns a pair.

Ladies, Start Your Engines

Posted in: General

 The idea for On Wheels in Heels is one that has rolled around in my head for a couple of years – but one that I couldn’t ignore. As a freelance writer, I frequently meet women who are passionate about their cars, but I’ve found a noticeable lack of publications that are interested in covering automobiles from a female perspective.

Just as with most things in life, men and women approach cars differently. This truth was accentuated for me a week ago when I participated in one of World Class Driving’s luxury car tours. We spent Sunday morning near Bandera, Texas, at the wheel of such spectacular cars as the Mercedes McLaren (pictured at the top of this page), the Ferrari F430, the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, the Porsche 911 Twin Turbo and the new Audi R8. (I have to say, there are much worse ways to spend the day!)

Afterward, the men I talked to wanted to know how much horsepower the cars had and how fast we went; women talked about the beauty of the cars and wanted to know how they handled. Even when our interests are shared, I think the way the two genders appreciate their particular passions are approached completely different.

On Wheels in Heels is meant to be a place where women can discover more about luxury cars, but also check out the latest gadgets and accessories. (Because, as you know, even in a car, we must accessorize.) It’s a place to “ooh” and “aah” over great new cars and even learn a little bit about what’s happening with other female drivers.

I hope you’ll feel welcome to join the conversation or start one of your own; tell your friends and ask them to join us. Because, like most experiences in life, this journey was meant to be shared.