2014 TopSpeed Christmas List
If you’ve been following us throughout December, then you’re already familiar with our Car Lover Christmas Gift Ideas that range from automotive apps and car-centric video games to scale model cars and rally school courses. We also scoured the automakers’ online stores for our favorite car-related Christmas items, including a pocket friendly Mercedes 300SL-shaped computer mouse and the incredibly expensive Tonino Lamborghini 88 Tauri smartphone. With Christmas nearly upon us, time has come to present you with our own TopSpeed Christmas wish list, which includes what our editors would like to find under the Christmas tree; or in some cases in the garage.
Before you say anything, the TopSpeed Wishlist isn’t just a list of the latest supercars. Sure, some of us have a better shot at becoming a Formula One driver than receiving what’s listed below, but compiling it was a lot of fun. Hopefully you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it. Naturally, this wishlist isn’t complete without you, our readers, and your very own wishes for the Holidays, so make sure you add to our list using the comments box below. And don’t be shy about sharing your craziest wishes, most of ours aren’t exactly achievable to begin with. Genies and magic lamps don’t count though.
If I had a penny for each time I made a really big wish and got it for Christmas, I’d be... well... broke. I guess I had it coming with a wishlist that included cars such as the McLaren P1, the Camaro Z/28 or a pristine 1970 Plymouth HEMI Cuda, but I’m not going to give up just yet. For this year, I don’t want a car. At least not one that would be mine to keep. But that’s not to say it’s something attainable, because my perfect Christmas gift for 2014 would be a ride in a Chaparral race car around Rattlesnake Raceway and a cup of coffee with Jim Hall himself on the other side of the table. And here’s why.
Although the Can-Am racing series was established nearly twenty years before I came to this world — and it was disbanded when I was only three years old — I developed a massive interest in everything around it as soon as I discovered the classic era of motor racing. Can-Am had it all. Fast cars, European manufacturers, big American engines, some of the best drivers in the world. Regulations were minimal and the series permitted unlimited engine sizes and virtually unrestricted aerodynamics. How can you not like it?! It didn’t take long for me to discover Chaparral Cars, arguably the only race car builder that made full use of Can-Am’s unrestricted aerodynamics policy. Hall’s cars hit the track with endless bodywork variations and a host of louvers, canards, wings, spoilers, vents, and ducts; basically anything that reduced drag.
Chaparral Cars was among the first to use active aerodynamics and introduced the high-mounted wing years before Lotus did in Formula One. Hall also invented the ground-effects car with the 2J in 1970, a concept that reached F1 eight years later. Innovations also included the glass fiber-reinforced plastic chassis and the clutch-less semi-automatic transmission. What’s more, Chaparral’s testing facility near Midland, Texas — dubbed Rattlesnake Raceway — was equipped with photo-electric cells, a skid pad and a host of state-of-the-art features. Even Ferrari didn’t have that kind of facility back in the 1960s. It’s for these particular reasons that Chaparral became Chevrolet R&D’s unofficial test team, contributing to the development of the mighty Corvette Grand Sport and the Corvair. You can see why I want to spend my Christmas South of Midland Texas. And besides, it’s pretty cold where I will be spending the holidays this year.
But is this wish attainable? Not really. Rattlesnake Raceway hasn’t been maintained for decades, the Chaparral cars are stored away in the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, and I have my doubts that Mr. Hall is keen on driving his outstanding creations at 79. It’s all just a crazy dream I’m having and I might have to settle for a tour of the Petroleum Museum and take a few snaps of the crazy Chaparral 2J in the process. But until I can have my trip to Texas, I will have this 1:43 Chaparral two-model set under my Christmas tree. It’s signed by Jim himself and it will be a nice addition to my Chaparral miniature collection. So is there any crazy stuff on your Christmas list?
If you ask me for a wish list, I’d probably tell you that I want a Ferrari or Lamborghini. But that would be unrealistic. Sure, it’s a wish list but I’d still want to get something that’s within a reasonable price range.
So this is what I want: a one-year pass to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
First of all, it’s not that expensive. It’s just costs 1,100 dirhams, which is about $300 as of 12/23/2014. Second, a one-year pass to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi gives me unlimited access to Formula Rossa! If I can’t own my own Ferrari, I might as well enjoy the world’s fastest roller coaster for as long as I can, right? Plus, having a Legends pass to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi affords me a lot of cool perks and freebies, including exclusive members-only activities!
Okay, so here’s the catch: I’m fully aware that for me to enjoy this pass, I’d have to physically be in Abu Dhabi for a big part of the coming year. So if a generous benefactor can throw in a year’s worth of plane tickets to Abu Dhabi, that would be cool, too.
In case you weren’t aware, I simply adore the McLaren P1. I love the spaceship looks, I love the sound of that V-8, I love how everything on it, from the aero to the suspension, is active and adaptable. It’s constantly changing to yield more speed, no matter what’s asked of it, no matter where it may be. When it comes to hybrid hypercars, the 918 and LaFerrari are both great, but if it were my million-dollar check, I’d go P1.
Here’s the thing though: I don’t have a million dollars. What I do have is an old, modified WRX, and although it’s faster than an STI, a little more never hurt. And I’m not talking about dialing up the boost. I want to go hybrid.
Realistically, a DIY hybridization kit would be far from cheap. However, adding electric power to an existing petrol engine is relatively straightforward, at least compared to adaptive suspension and aerodynamics. In fact, there are already aftermarket companies, like EVDrive and Quanta, that currently offer, or are working toward, the very kits I’m describing.
The price? Well, that depends on how much extra electric muscle you’re looking for. EVDrive, for example, has a motor that can add about 800 horsepower and 968 pound-feet of torque for a cool $43,800. Of course, there are cheaper packages, but the point is this: as hybrid technology becomes more prevalent, its benefits become more accessible. Hybridizing your ride is probably going to be a little trickier than swapping the air filer and rotating your tires, but with enough time and effort (not to mention cash), anything is possible.
Now, if I could just get my hybrid kit installed, all I’ll need is to replace every bolt with titanium, swap every body panel with carbon fiber, throw on some retractable wings, add hydraulic actuator suspension bits, maybe a sequential transmission, and the McLubaru will be complete. I hope I made Santa’s "Nice" list.
While I’d be more than happy with nearly everything on TopSpeed’s list of 10 best automotive Christmas gifts, what I’d really like is a project car and the extra funds to play with it. Nothing would be more fun than a Mazda Miata with a small block Chevy swap. It doesn’t even have to be pristine; just something fun with a manual transmission. I’d throw on some performance suspension parts, sticky tires, a short-throw sifter, and a butterfly valve on the exhaust so I can bypass the mufflers at the push of a button. Would it be practical? No. Would it be the fastest thing on the street or strip? Probably not. Would it be more fun than legally allowed? You bet.
This is a Christmas wish list, and as such I am going to make a big wish for my choice. I want a new Ferrari and I want it to have three pedals. I know that may seem silly and ridiculous in a lot of ways, but it is something that I would really like to see and experience. I understand that the paddle-shift stuff is much faster and easier. I realize the marketing ability that comes with claiming the shorter 0-to-60 times, and I understand it makes the cars faster around a track. But here is the thing, I don’t drive around a track very often. 99-percent of my driving time is spent on scenic drives down twisty highways and coastal roads. In those moments, I don’t want the fastest acceleration time in the world; I want a car that makes me feel connected, excited and entertained. Even if I am not the greatest heel-toe master, there is a special joy in muddling through your own driving skill to nail a few tight apexes on your way to grandma’s house.
With three pedals in my new Ferrari, I don’t need a real performance demon. While an F12 would be great, something a little smaller and slower like a California would be plenty. Again, I don’t want to set a new record at Road Atlanta, I just want a car that looks, feels and sounds like a Ferrari should, but with the added bonus of being able to row my own gears.
There are many incredible cars out there that have a clutch pedal, the Jaguar F-Type, various Porsches and the Corvette all spring to mind, but these cars are not Ferraris. Ferrari has long been the pinnacle of the automotive world; we are all raised hearing stories about how nothing in the world has as much soul or passion as a Prancing Horse. Well a computer doesn’t have passion or soul, it is cold and calculating by its very nature.
Ferrari, please keep making your incredible supercars and street-legal race machines. The world counts on you to push everyone farther and farther up the performance scale. But maybe, just this once, you can think about creating a car that is more about experience and less about outright speed. Take that naturally aspirated V-8 you have in the 458, detune it a little bit, and dump it into a front-engine rear-wheel drive coupe with three pedals and modest performance. I can promise I am not the only person in the world that would love to drive such a machine.
If I can’t have a modern Ferrari with the same feel and visceral driving joy of something like the classic 250 California, I guess I would love to have one of those awesome racing simulator chairs with three computer screens and a full wheel and pedal setup. Maybe have it mounted on the cool hydraulic stands like Formula One drivers get so I can experience the pull and tug of the G-forces as I drive through my virtual races.
Man, it’s Christmas time again... That year went fast. Well, as some of you know I have an ongoing project in my garage that also happens to be my daily driver. What I want for Christmas is to have it finished once and for all. It needs a little body work and a nice paint job first and foremost. But the biggest thing I am hoping for this year are enough performance bits to finally get it over 200 ponies at the rear wheels. For that, I think the best ready-to-install setup is the "Full FM II" package from our pals over at Flyin’ Miata. Sure, it’s quite pricey at $5,395, but all the power it unleashes makes it well worth it. Plus, FM gives a needy family a goat every time it sells one... No, seriously...