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The Ed Koch Ed: How We Doin’?

mphoneby Gunnar Heinrich ::: Automobiles De Luxe

CHANNELING just a hint of Gotham’s former mayor, I’d like to take this moment to briefly brief you, reader dearest, on the goings on here @ automobilesdeluxe.tv and ask you to take the time to amplify your thoughts re: ADLX.

To wit: the site is on the cusp of a metamorphosis of sorts. If all goes to plan (which happens as often as getting an MG to start on the first try) we should have a new look that will hopefully inspire or at minimum please the eyes.

What I want to know from you – yes you there with an opinion to share- is what you’ve liked, disliked, and would like to see more of in the coming days?

Feedback like: “I want more classic content and less new car reviews” or “less news more commentary” are notes we need to improve; enabling us to be happy in our work!

Feel free to leave a comment or to email: gunnar (at) automobiles (dot) tv.

Thank you for reading and doing that voodoo that you do so well.

ADLX TV in HD on YT

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By Gunnar Heinrich | YouTube

HIGH DEF is a beautiful thing.

Over the past two years, we’ve uploaded our televised segments for online consumption and have done so with files shot, edited, and presented in the original Latin HD.

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And the old YouTube, bless its former v. 1.0 self, would take our lovely product in true fillet form and downgrade it by, oh, a few gigabytes or so into a high-processed web gruel that made SD footage seem the very definition of “crisp”.

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But the sun set on that tired day and a new one dawned where YouTube viewers could watch our programming in HD.

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And a marvelous new day it is.

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If you’re new to Automobiles De Luxe check us out. If you’re well acquainted, you’ll appreciate this program now brought to you in its original format.

Tap the link >

Watch  | Automobiles De Luxe YouTube HD

Point of Order: Our Coverage

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By Gunnar Heinrich

FRIENDS, a note of clarification.

As the publisher of automobilesdeluxe.tv, my aim is to provide you with a swath of content on the greatest luxury marques.

We operate on a simple premise: cars are cool and their stories are worth telling.

Longtime readers will note that in early days (2006), a large majority of Automobiles De Luxe content focused largely on Mercedes-Benz and the faults in quality and design that were exhibited in models built earlier this decade.

That focus has since widened.

Our aim is that content published herein represents a fair account and stands free of overt or subliminal commercially sponsored endorsement.  We (nor I) have any bilateral financial accords with any car company. Any banner car advertisements are displayed through a syndicated ad network.

All automotive reviews posted on this site are the subjective, unpaid opinions composed by the writers and, important to note, the cost burden for conducting all reviews published herein is shouldered by yours truly.

Feel free to voice concerns or amplifications at any time either in comments or by email to gunnar [at] automobilesdeluxe [dot] tv.

Thank you for reading and taking part.

Dear Reader: Buy our Mug!

online-gift-shopa page from our very own online catalog

OR >>>>>>click here >>>>> to have a t-shirt, clock, baseball cap, or wrist-band radio watch that signals home base just like Dick Tracy.

Just kidding on that last one, we’re still working on procuring that item from our obstreperous suppliers in Taiwan.

But as for that mug, I happen to own one. It’s beautifully crafted and handsomely finished. And what price for such beauty?

Our gut herr Jan did a fine job plastering our logo onto a white porcelain cup (digitally) so that you and others can think of us each and every time you sip your joe, tea, caffé mocha, or hot cocoa.

We’ve got travel mugs for those of you who drive post-circa 1992 German cars that feature actual OEM cup holders (Nein!).

Ahem, like I said, buy and support our endeavor. Or have pity. Noblesse oblige and all that.

Either way you look at it, you’re sure to win by buying.

Thank you kindly.

Yours,

G

[Linked: Automobiles De Luxe Gift Shop]

2009 BMW 750Li Review

bmw-7-series-review

I have a confession to make:

While BMW’s latest flagship, the as tested one hundred thousand three hundred twenty dollar 2009 750Li is an object of technical brilliance, it fails to move me.

Oh, it propels like a rocket.

The Twin-turbo V8 with 400 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque, the bulk of which is readily available from 1800-4500 rpm thanks to those terrific turbos, makes this 7-Series faster than any of its swift predecessors.

Zero to 60 in 5.2 seconds. Mid-range acceleration bests the old school M5.

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And, God, does it coddle and cosset. The new 7 is the quintessence of German comfort: effortless, adjustable in countless ways (except for the fixed rear seats in this model), heated, cooled, and supple but made as solidly as if from the bark of some titanium tree. What’s more, the interior’s supremely insulated and S-Class roomy.

And as a generational contrast to highlight just how far the Bavarians have come, you could drive all day in this 750Li and still feel reasonably rested with your blood circulated, your back ‘n bottom in good shape, and your mind relatively alert whereas you could drive all day in a 1983 733i and feel like you’ve run three miles in steel-toed work boots.

But like the old 7, in the new 7 -a sedan that’s an amalgamation of the old three box formula and the wedge theory- has a hood that extends out far in front of the driver’s view. In most Bimmers, the sightline ends at the dash which keeps things feeling tight ‘n right.

But where the lines of the old shark’s bonnet look angular and sharply defined, this 7’s flowing curves which pinch at either end in two sweeping arcs (like the 3er) would make a terrific stunt double for a 1999 Buick LeSabre.

And in titanium silver metallic, you’re almost convinced that this is grand pa’s car. Only much cooler.

THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME?

The 7er’s external form is one of our hero’s tragic flaws. There’s nothing wrong with the interior; with Oyster Nappa hides matched with what BMW’s calling “High Gloss Fine Line Wood”, it’s a cool, Germanic environ.

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The sedan’s dash is back to being driver centered along with the dash mounted joystick shifter, as the Gods of Valhalla intended.

But the exterior is an aesthetic mess.

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Perhaps, my own taste is a generational thing.

In fact I think it is, because the E38 7-Series in jet black on black never, ever fails to stop me dead in my tracks. When I drove past a 2000/2001 740iL one evening in the 750Li, I almost rolled down my window to ask if the other driver wanted to swap cars.

Similarly handsome was the signature cashmere E32. A 1988 735i and a 1992 740i are two sedans that will live inside my heart forever.

And therein lays my own personal conflict.

Such is my ardor for the 7-Series line, second only to the S-Class, that throughout my days with the 750Li, I continually asked myself how I could objectively (as is humanly possible) cover this new car. Were I judge in a court case, I’d have to recuse myself.

But we’re not in a court of law (knock on wood). And the fact is I do know a thing or two about where BMW’s been and I’m not liking the avenue this new 7’s taken by virtue of its styling, size, and Lexus-like softness. It’s trying to be too many things to too many people. The focus, the precise essence is noticeably absent.

Too much is often just that.

WIZARDRY

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To be clear, it’s not for the plethora of watch dog technology and on board computers. Though they hog center stage, they’re little short of amazing and are a sophisticated furthering of BMW’s preliminary efforts with trip computers and stability programs all those years ago.

Let’s explore for a sec…

The second generation iDrive is actually user friendly. Below the rotary dial are a set of hot buttons that get you where you need to go on the computer’s many menus faster than if you scrolled. Amen!

But often time I’d have to switch off the wide screen as I found myself spending as much as 20% of my driving time watching static “TV” and not the road.

Thank goodness then, for the collision warning system, a sensor guided alert that flashes a red BMW on the heads up display and the instrument panel warning of an impending collision. This saved my distracted bacon once in slow, stop ‘n go traffic.

That said, some technical feats still need fine tuning.

For example, the active cruise control (ACC) would never work in the fast lane. If the car you’re following is doing 75 mph, the system will slow your progress (by gentle brake application) to 64 mph – or some similarly safe number. This means that traffic behind you will grow to hate you.

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Also, the blind spot detection system which lights yellow triangles from the corresponding rear view mirror that the approaching car is traveling on, will likely displease most aggressive Bimmer drivers as it also vibrates the steering wheel in warning when an approaching vehicle is a full car length away.

I could go on. And so I will.

The lane departure system which gauges whether you’re drifting out of your lane also vibrates the steering wheel in conjunction with a visual alert appearing in the HUD. This and the other features are defeatable, but they could prove useful to the late night road warrior.

But back to where it counts.

PERFORMANCE

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As I’d mentioned, the V8 is a thrill a mile – or – a relaxed cruiser. It’s an incredibly capable powerplant and it’s the new 7’s crown jewel. The active air suspension, on the other hand, is a little bit of a let down.

There’s an old BMW adage that BMW never built a suspension that couldn’t keep up with the speeds the engine produces. In this case, the V8 is so capable, the luxury tuned bellows are entirely outmatched. Select one of four modes, “Comfort”, “Normal”, “Sport”, and “Sport +” which deactivates the traction control, and the suspension along with the transmission and engine change their tenor.

The difference in ride quality is readily apparent. The 7 practically wafts Rolls style in “Comfort”. And in “Sport”, the car seems ready to spring while registering every bump in the road.

Still, I took the same increasing radius, concrete walled offramp/connector three times in each mode save for Sport + while noting my exit speed.

Driving fast each time, the big 7 leaning hard on the driverside tyres, and returned similar numbers: 57, 54, and 56 mph, respectively.

To give you some idea of where these speed stats fall on the grand scale of my own automotive relativity, the fastest I’ve managed this tightening turn is 60 mph (in a 128i convertible) and the slowest is 45 mph in my li’l Panzer (Benz 300E 4-Matic).

Of course this indicates varying levels of nerve on my part, but it also tells you that my confidence did not grow nor did the 7’s apparent grip increase when switching from Comfort to Normal to Sport modes. I had, in fact, all 245/50 tyres howling.

To be fair, it also demonstrates how well this luxo barge manages a corner despite itself.

But that point segues us nicely to another of this 7’s troubles – size and weight.

LARGESS

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At 205.2 inches, it’s as long as a LWB W140 generation Benz S600, with a 126 inch wheelbase that’s three inches longer than the old Benz’s wheelbase. And at 4,640 lbs it’s about as heavy as the old gen. S420.

And while the active steering, brakes, and suspension do a great job of disguising the weight with sporty litheness of feel, the car can only match the inflated expectation to a point.

Coming down hard from easily attainable, super-legal speeds elicits tail wag from the rear. And full out panic stops take a lot longer to execute than the pedal feel would otherwise suggest.

And another BMW test…

Approach a piece of road that drops suddenly away and one of several things can happen.

In a typical car, at lows speeds the front suspension will drop out from beneath the car leading into a nose dive or at higher speeds the car will simply catch air and bottom out on landing.

In any BMW worth its salt, the Bimmer will do neither. An E39 M5, an E32 735i, an E46 328i, whatever, will follow asphalt or catch air and land on its feet – not bottoming out.

Approach this challenge in the 750Li and the front wheels drop away and the car will nose dive. It cushions you from the harsh change, but it just doesn’t respond fast enough to road conditions.

The simple-is-beautiful Macpherson strut setup seems to shine about now…

THE CRUX

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Like all good 7’s, the 750Li lies about its weight. But if all that’s being too critical (it isn’t, really) let’s remember that the F01/F02 generation 7-Series is a step back from the abyss and step forward in terms of comfort.

And from the rear and the side profiles, surface tension has made a welcome comeback. And thank Heaven, the last car (E65/E66) looked like the genetic cross mutation of a vampire bat and a sea cow.

In short, there are plenty of positives. But none lead me to desire this car in the same way I lusted after its esteemed forebears. It may be more engaging than the current S-Class, but the Benz’s current flagship is truer to the grand Benz ethos than the 7 is to its own creed.

I fear for those who long for performance over luxury in their BMWs, the solution is to hazard a used E38 or E32 7er, enjoy the smaller scaled thrills of a new 1-Series, or pine on the memory of sevens past.

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Automobiles De Luxe on CPTV Tonight From 6-7PM

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By Gunnar Heinrich

AIRING back to back from six to seven tonight, Sunday, May 10th, Automobiles De Luxe is on WEDH, WEDN, and WEDW – the three glamorous stations for CPTV, the Nutmeg State’s PBS member station.

Just in time for Mum’s Day…

- About CPTV -

CPTV and WNPR serve the entire state of Connecticut–reaching an estimated 750,000 television viewers and more than 180,000 radio listeners each week. The company operates with a $20 million annual budget, funded in large part through community support from individuals, corporations and foundations.

CPTV and WNPR’s community-supported, statewide public broadcasting networks are dedicated to serving diverse communities with a mix of educational, news, public affairs, children’s, and entertainment programming and services.

INVOICE: 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe

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WHAT price perfection von Rolls-Royce?

The sky truly is the limit.

But as a reference in relation to terra firma, the infinitely customizable 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe does have a starting point: $400,000 in these United States.

That said, the electronic-fob that passed this writer’s hand started a coupe deliverable for a cheque that would’ve read: $441,000 and 0/100.

This significant price variance –  amounting to the price of a previously pampered mid-90′s Silver Spur or, if you prefer beaten-to-death clichés, the tag on a year-old Boxster – is due to the inclusion of several options.

Imaged below are scanned copies of the Phantom Coupe’s window sticker invoices which should provide some ignoble illumination into the monetary affairs of current bespoke perfecting. One item, the LED starlit headliner, is $12,100 (or a fix’er-up’er 70′s Silver Shadow, if we must).

So, what price perfection?

J.P. Morgan, I’m sure, would himself be curious to know.

Note: click on image once to open into a new page. Click image again to view in larger resolution. Click thrice to see in full rez.

ADL Airs @ Six O’Clock on CPTV

automobiles-de-luxe-cptvAutomobiles De Luxe & CPTV

By Gunnar Heinrich

SOMETIMES you just can’t get enough ADL…

Automobiles De Luxe airs tonight (Sunday, May 3rd) six o’clock on WEDH, WEDN, and WEDW – the three glitzy stations for CPTV, the Constitution State’s PBS member station.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking, that’s the same li’l network that could and did bring the world Barney, the purple dinosaur along with Thomas & Friends.

From our P.O.V., the giddy T. Rex and self confident choo-choo should be so honored.

Tune in!

- About CPTV -

CPTV and WNPR serve the entire state of Connecticut–reaching an estimated 750,000 television viewers and more than 180,000 radio listeners each week. The company operates with a $20 million annual budget, funded in large part through community support from individuals, corporations and foundations.

CPTV and WNPR’s community-supported, statewide public broadcasting networks are dedicated to serving diverse communities with a mix of educational, news, public affairs, children’s, and entertainment programming and services.

Out ‘N About: HUMMER Security

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The Phantom Index For 2009

rolls-royce-at-burj-al-arab-automobiles-de-luxePhantom costs less in Dubai.

By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG via madwhips.com

TIPPING our hat -or perhaps our hand- to the Economist‘s fabled “Big Mac Index”, each year Automobiles De Luxe publishes The Phantom Index  – a currency comparison table that determines the real cost of a standard wheelbase Phantoms worldwide, less applicable tariffs and fees.

The following  prices are courtesy Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

PRICES FOR MODEL YEAR 2009 ROLLS-ROYCE PHANTOM (rounded US dollar conversions in parenthesis)

  • UK | £233,000 ($332,000)
  • Eurozone |  €345,700 ($455,000)
  • Japan | ¥44,500,000 ($466,000)
  • USA, Mexico, Russia | $380,000
  • Near East | SR 1,420,000 ($381,000)
  • Canada | C$527,000 ($418,000)
  • Asia Pacific | A$554,000 ($377,500)

Old Blighty wins! At least before H.M. government demands its fair pound of flesh.

In previous years, America has sold ‘em cheapest – thanks to an anemic Greenback – undercutting the Japanese base price by as much as 9% and the Eurozone by a cool hundred large.

But the currency markets are always changing which has led to this year’s upset.

And given that sterling has faltered in recent months, that the UK’s price is the cheapest isn’t surprising per se. Were the pound at its strength a year ago, the dollar-cost of a new Rolls would’ve been twice that. In fact, it was.

Interestingly, Rolls-Royce listed prices for Phantoms for sale in Mexico, Canada, Russia, Asia Pacific, and the Near East all in USD (foreign conversion rates calculated via Google on 3/31/09). It makes sense for Russia and Mexico, but why Canada?

And speaking of the Loonie’s conspicuous absence, judging from the discrepancy between Canadian and American prices, the articles of NAFTA clearly haven’t weighed on Rolls prices north of the border.

Not that well healed Canadians should feel the weight of heavier price tags alone, the base price for a Phantom sold in America has risen since 2007 by roughly the price of a new Porsche Boxster.