2013 has been a busy year for the European side of the auto industry; From celebrating anniversaries to unveiling insane concepts and emerging technologies that place computing power above driver response.
Below you will find the milestones of Porsche, Lamborghini and Aston Martin. While Jaguar, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and VW unveiled highly anticipated concepts and production models. Tuner topics impossible to miss include the outrageous builds of Japanese Liberty Walk that took SEMA and the car meet scene by storm. Last but not least are advancements in driving technologies. Developments that will change the way we all drive or approach the action. Let us know in the comments section below which of these topics sparked your interest. From all of us at euroepan car, we wish you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!
Aston Martin 100th Anniversary
The words "Aston Martin" get most auto enthusiasts humming a familiar tune. But there is more to the British automaker than Bond and his countless conquests. Aston Martin has been innovating and creating stunning automobiles for 100 years.
This year, Aston celebrated in a big way. The CC100 Speedster Concept left us breathless and longing for a production version even close to the concept's beautiful design. And there were also the car shows and parties. Monterey Car Week celebrated the automaker at several events including Gordon McCall's Motorworks Revival where the Quail Rally made a stop, showcasing gorgeous Astons. And the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance featured a special section dedicated to the automaker where several made their way onto our top 5 list.
Lamborghini 50th Anniversary
While the claim "100 years of innovation in half the time" may seem rather pretentious, Lamborghini isn't kidding. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the raging bull automaker has gone from the stunning 350 GT, the first mass produced Lambo, to the incredibly fast and exclusive Veneno Coupe. Today, it released a successor to the Gallardo known simply as the Huracan.
Lamborghini celebrated throughout the year with unveilings and shows. The million-dollar Veneno Coupe was first shown at the Geneva Motor Show as well as the early morning exclusive preview at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering during the Monterey Car Week before parking on an Italian Naval Carrier ship - only nine Roadster's will be produced. The automaker teased us with the incredible Egoista Concept, resembling a jet plane rather than a car as well.
Porsche 911 50th Anniversary
The numbers "911" represent a universal love for one of the most iconic automobiles ever produced; the Porsche 911. Its roots can be traced back to the 1940s, making it one of the longest running designs in automotive history.
Porsche celebrated in a big way with a special limited edition model and at events like the Monterey Car Week. The 911 Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Model not only included special badging but also paid tribute to the original 911 with an interior pattern similar to Pepita tartan from the late '60s and Fuchs wheels. The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering featured the 911 and Porsche as an honored marque. Two pristine and historic 911s made our list of the top 5 Porsche's there. The icing on the cake was a Nurburgring sub seven-minute record with its new 918 Spyder hybrid.
2014 BMW i8
BMW has been revealing new cars left and right this year, but few have stopped us dead in our tracks as dramatically as the i8. Although we are all for the crazy loud and powerful, we occasionally make exceptions for hybrids that feature bleeding edge technology and forward-thinking styling. The i8 has both in spades.
The i8 is undoubtedly one of the best-looking hybrid cars to be seen on the road. This was obvious when it was awarded "Design of the Year" by sister publication Automobile Magazine. But there is more to this car than its looks. At the LA Auto Show we spoke with the Executive VP of Operations at BMW North America, Peter Miles, who stated: "The i Series is the beginning of a new trend in electric powertrains in the US and California...the i8 delivers a high-performance car with a low carbon footprint."
2014 BMW M4
If you wrote off BMW when you heard the M3 Coupe would be no more, we understand. But then, something wonderful happened - the BMW M4 Coupe. Basically it's a slightly larger inline six-cylinder version of the beloved last generation M3 Coupe.
We were happy to report the performance numbers of 425hp and 406 lb-ft of torque with the option of either a M-DCT transmission or the standard six-speed manual. Yes, we were pleased to hear of the select-your-own-gear trans. While sales begin summer 2014, we had the opportunity to preview the car this year at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering before its debut at the 2014 North American International Auto show in Detroit, MI.
2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe
If you were one of those waiting almost fifty years for Jaguar to produce another sports car, the wait is over. The reveal of the F-Type Convertible turned a lot of heads and got hearts pumping with the V8S variant. But we wanted to see what a Coupe version would look like and if it would resemble the iconic E-Type FHC (Fixed Head Coupe). We were beyond pleased with the result.
The F-Type Coupe completes the new Jaguar sports car lineup with incredible style and performance. At the LA Auto Show we learned of the newest addition to the leaping cat automaker, the F-Type Coupe R with an available 550hp making the 0-60mph sprint in just 4.0sec. The only downside we see is the lack of a manual gearbox. But when we spoke to Sports Cars Product manager, Tim Philippo, he said, "We have heard the message loud and clear from enthusiasts and journalists that think this would be the right car to have a stick in." We hope they have heard us.
Liberty Walk Ferrari 458, BMW M3, and Lamborghini Murcielago
Liberty Walk is undoubtedly one of the most popular tuners this year. Creating some of the widest and most aggressive body kits you'll ever see on performance leading machines. We had the privilege of seeing several awesome examples at SEMA and the LTMW Summer Show.
Do you have the guts to cut into a 458 Italia? We sure don't. But we love that Liberty Walk does. We finally got a look at the much anticipated LW 458 at SEMA. Major modifications to this car include: Liberty Walk widebody kit, cut fenders and frame, lowered via suspension upgrade, bumper, diffusor and ducktail plus a swapped front diffusor, and IPE exhaust. The Liberty Walk kit will run you about $25000 and orders are already in place. Believe it or not, but build time on this car was only about one week.
At the LTMW Summer Show we caught sight of this beefy blue M3. The owner, Darren Yoo, had even purchased an ESS Tuning supercharger and the Liberty Walk body kit before buying the car. Completed in a remarkable four days, this M3 had the Liberty Walk body kit, LTMW paint, Work wheels, KW suspension, the supercharger and an Innotech exhaust - the latter had a driver-selected valve that, when open, would blow-out your ear drums! Click here and scroll down to watch and listen.
This Liberty Walk Mucielago is another example of those gutsy enough to cut-up an ultra-expensive exotic. We saw this one at the LTMW Summer Show, assorted SoCal car shows and SEMA. Major modifications include: a Liberty Walk widebody kit, front bumper type 2 and rear bumper, side and rear diffusor, rear wing Version 3 and headlight trim, IPE exhaust with Liberty Walk tips and LB performance wheels. Click here to see a quick walk around of the Murcielago.
Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo Concept
Designing a car just for a video game? Sounds crazy, right? Well, not to players of Sony PlayStation's Gran Turismo 6. We saw the Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo Concept at the LA Auto Show where it appeared through a cloud of smoke to the "ooo's" and "ahh's"of the media watching.
The Concept features AMG's V8 biturbo engine capable of reaching 577hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. We spoke with Kazunori Yamauchi, Polyphony Digital CEO and Gran Turismo 6 creator who said, "All of the Mercedes design centers around the globe (Japan, China, Korea, Europe, North America) created over 100 different designs for the Vision Gran Turismo Concept." If only those who play with cars in real life could drive this concept.
VW Design Vision GTI Concept
The Volkswagen Design Vision GTI Concept was the talk of the town before during and after its North American debut at the LA Auto Show and earlier east coast H20 car show sighting. What's not to love with a claimed 500hp and a 0-60mph time of 3.9sec? We love the small, low, and wide proportions of the GTI Concept and its race track capabilities.
After the much anticipated North American debut, we asked spokesperson for Volkswagen AG, Christian Buhlmann about the concept's road-going capabilities: "What we envision is the single idea of what can carry over into the series or into the aftermarket and customization of the GTI...This is the 7th generation and finally with this vehicle we have brought all of these ideas together...This is not for serious production right away, but over time and for different purposes such as the race track." We hope the production version will still be equipped with this hot 500hp motor and stunning good looks.
Driving Assist Technology
For most of us, driving brings a sense of control and adrenaline not found with everyday tasks. While the difference may lie in what type of transmission, car, bike or truck you choose, technology is always advancing. And with that comes different systems warning you of approaching traffic, if you are veering from your lane or even if you aren't paying enough attention. But what some fear and others may desire is the technology of no longer operating your own vehicle.
This technology is leading up to what is called autonomous driving; where cars basically drive and operate themselves through onboard cameras, sensors and GPS. As stated by Todd Lassa's 2014 Technology of the Year: Autonomy Automobile magazine article, "Thanks to a lower level of autopilot, making calls or texting will be safe within a few years. The transmission must be an automatic...Autopilot will pound the final nail in the coffin of the manual transmission. One theory is that when the technology quickly accelerates and suddenly there's nothing but autopiloted vehicles, the last manually driven (and shifted) vehicles will be sports cars."
Whether reading this makes you want to crawl in a hole and cry or jump for joy, it will be interesting to see how fast and how far technology will take us. Click here and scroll down to see what technologies automakers have come up with.
Photos by: Toni Avery / Manufacturer Provided