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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

FPHs' Car of the Decade/ Happy New Year!


Chronologically, a measurable length of time. Other than that, a decade only becomes more difficult to describe.

But what comes hand in hand with time is growth and knowledge. We see examples of both throughout the course of this decade more than any other. Highlights of the decade include the German horsepower wars (became Nurburgring lap-time war thanks to the GTR), the latest gasoline crisis causing the abandonment of the SUV trend and eventually leading a trend to a full blown "green" mentality(Toyota Prius + Obama), the need for lifestyle niche vehicles (crossovers), the dramatic demise of the Big 3 (and the fall of the global economy), Toyota's misstep (largest automotive recall in US history, 3.8 million vehicles), Tata and Hyundai's leaps and bounds.

Don't be mistaken, I'm not here to recap or to analyze. Just let the paragraph sink in and reflect on just how turbulent this decade has been for all of us. With this setting in place, I would like to proudly introduce to you our vehicle of the decade.

Nissan GTR

Surprised? Initially, so was I.

Honestly, I've procrastinated with this post. I've been fearing this post. Having spoken to Danny Chin many times, double checking to see if there has been anything we missed, wanting assurance that this was definitely the car we would be going with, I've finally come to peace. I know now that this award belonged to the GTR all along.

Readers that disagree, I assure you that although we may fit the "ricer" stereotype (we're Asian after all), we make our decisions without that sort of bias. We find pride, as individuals, for being worldly and indiscriminately curious.

Our list of candidates came from every avenue. Selling this post idea to Danny Chin, my first nomination for car of the decade was the Toyota Prius (2004- 2009). It's impact to the car industry and to society as a whole has arguably become too great to ignore. The Prius-- leader of the "green movement", the hyper-miler's weapon of choice, the overnight celebrity profiler-mobile (how many hybrids does Leo DiCaprio own again?), as well as urban area workhorse (NYPD)

I would say that it was the celebrity effect that was strongest of all. It snowballed an idea that being earthy, environmentally friendly, frugal, and techy has become posh. Overnight, everyone and their mothers owned one. Market wise, an age bracket hardly existed for the Prius.

However popular and well received this car may be, it never sat well with me or Danny Chin. For one stubborn reason or another, we could not bring ourselves to acknowledge, let alone appreciate, that this was the car of the future.

Other suggestions and nominations that we've played with include the all electric Tesla Roadster, $1.8 mil Bugatti Veyron, Aston Martin DB9 (A.K.A. the most gorgeous, voluptuous, sexiest car the world has ever seen), the surprising Corvette ZR1, E46 M3, 500hp M5, etc.

insert ::DB9 plug::

-Danny Choy-

So,why the GTR? The GTR has turned heads and changed opinions all over the world. Before the GTR arrived, the best performance for the money was a Corvette. That was a car full of compromises. You could have your world class performance but not your world class interior. In the same price bracket, a 911S was available but you'd be sacrificing Ferrari beating acceleration and levels of grip.

Then six years after the concept bowed, the GTR went into production in 2007. It shook the foundation of the car industry. Thanks to games like Gran Turismo and Forza, generations of young adults have lusted after this car because of its fore bearers. The tale of Godzilla was rewritten but this time it was available for U.S. consumption. No other car has had so much resting on its shoulders and been able to deliver. Just like no other car has been said to "defy the laws of physics." It claimed the Nurburgring production car lap record, decimated its opposition in every comparison test, and you could buy three for the price of a Ferrari.

-Danny Chin-

Monday, December 28, 2009

Connecting the Dots. . .

Can anybody guess what brought these two cars together for the new blog post?
Feel free to leave comments!

-Danny Choy & Danny Chin-

Sunday, December 27, 2009

MotoGP ramblings

Motogp has announced recently that bikes will return to 1000cc and four cylinders for the 2012 season. This is seen as a hugely important change to the rule. Many riders, including Valentino Rossi, have said that the switch to 800cc in 2007 was the biggest mistake in the history of the premier class because the bikes all need to be ridden the same way. There isn't enough excess power to allow the bikes to take different lines through a corner and make up time.

Valentino Rossi is the biggest revenue source of income for Motogp and its management company, Dorna. Is it a coincidence that he has spoken up and the sanctioning bodies have listened? That may be part of the reason but many other riders have voiced their dismay also. Let's dive a little deeper.

The new rules state that the engines in Motogp can be full prototypes (like in F1) or production based. The displacement will be 1000cc and have four or less cylinders. There are also rules regarding the bore which will probably have an effect on how many rpm the motor can turn.

The significance in the rules lies in the fact that the motors will have four or less cylinders. When Motogp originally switched to its 990cc four stroke era in 2002, Honda was the only company to use a V5 motor. Rossi won the championship with this in 2002. After a falling out with Honda, he went on to win the championship for 3 consecutive seasons on a Yamaha. The only people that could compete with Rossi would be Honda mounted riders. Nicky Hayden won the title in 2006 on a factory Honda.

Ok, enough with the history. What am I getting at? Rossi is Motogp's cash cow. It would be wise to keep him happy especially since he is getting old for Motogp and retirement could be around the corner. With a switch back to 1000cc and four cylinders, all the manufacturers could return to their engine architecture from the 990 days. All the manufacturers except Honda. This would keep "Big Red" from blowing everyone out of the water like they did in 2002 because they'd be behind on their development. It all seems to be too much of a coincidence to me

-Danny Chin-
picture courtesy of

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Emerging Automakers: Pt. 2 of 4

Exactly how are Chinese Automakers able to get away with this?

In a nutshell, they aren't.

Despite Warren Buffett's investments, there's yet to be a Chinese Automaker introduced to North America. Naturally, then, I cannot make an assessment based on first hand experience. Thank goodness for Google!

According to, who sourced their article from, the total number of sales that Chinese Automakers made in Europe for the fiscal year of 2009 is 745. Seven hundred and forty five. Can anyone suggest a word even stronger than "abysmal"?

One car in particular generated a bit of publicity in its stint there. Behold the car in orange, the Great Wall Peri. The car in green is the FIAT Panda. Take a look at everything after the A-pillar, ending at the rear doors.

It's very subtle at first, and arguably I'd say that Great Wall executed a more attractive design than FIAT did. Nevertheless, the cloning is visible. For that reason, FIAT filed a patent dispute over Peri's exterior design, leading to a ban on Peri sales across Europe.

::for more on that ^, click here::

Regardless, despite pathetic sales numbers, and Great Wall being one of the many companies that are facing patent infringement, there are yet to be any signs that Chinese companies have learned to respect other company's development and to establish their individualism, as well as doing what they can for quality, safety and performance.

But this doesn't matter. And I'll tell you why. The growing economy within China is already more than enough to fuel their growth. For many of China's start-up car companies, there's no need to think globally yet. Within the borders, it's what I'd like to call the wild west of business ethics. Anything goes. As long as the products are made by the Chinese, inside the Chinese borders, and generating funds for the Chinese economy, their government will lend a blind eye to unethical business practices. Have a look at the whole tainted milk fiasco, the head of China's State Food and Drug Administration taking bribes from pharmaceutical firms and all.

As a matter of fact, just 3, THREE, out of more than forty five Chinese companies plus however many companies import their cars to China, already make up 48.7% of the entire Chinese domestic market.

It is difficult to fathom exactly how much money that equates to for those three companies, but I suspect that since labor is cheap and it is apparent that their business practice is to cut corners, their margin of profit per vehicle is not small. Each year, their sales will increase exponentially as well. No reason for them to be worried then.

Arguably, though, money should not be the end all of their ambitions. They're a corporation, not a single person, of course. So, I leave you with another question.

What are the future goals of the Chinese automakers?

-Danny Choy-

Friday, December 11, 2009

Emerging Automakers: Pt. 1 of 4

It should not be news to anyone that the fastest emerging economies belong to Asia. As such, I'd like to give you the scoop on the choice of offerings available to you from the fastest emerging automakers.

To warm things up, I introduce to you the Chinese companies, HuaTai and BYD. The following are their logos, respectively.
Well, on their defense, if one were to mimic the logo of another company in order to ride on their success, they've done a good job. Notice what HuaTai accomplished-- meshing together the logos of Microsoft Windows and BMW.

And what about car design? They've done their homework on this one.

Here are the works of another Chinese Automaker::
Behold the Geely Marie, South Korean Chassis with Benz C-class image effects.

Alright, enough with that. Car enthusiasts, you have every right to be worked up. Whether it is in the automotive industry, or any other industry at all, China is known for its unabashed piracy and attempt to milk the success of other companies of all their worth. I've been told that there are even fashion police in Italy, if you will, that will confiscate your bag and everything inside it, if that bag is a faux Louis Vuitton. The damage is great. Everyone in Chinatown carries a Louis Vuitton bag. They're sold in Canal St. here in NYC for $35.

As humorous and ridiculous as the Chinese car companies seem right now, I am certain that both BMW and Benz hold resent towards BYD and Geely as LV does for those that imitate their products. On that note, I will end my entry with something for you to think about.

Exactly how are Chinese Automakers able to get away with this?
Please stay tuned for part 2.

-Danny Choy-

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Are you a real car guy?

I'm about to let you in on a little secret. It's how to spot a real car guy from a poseur with one simple question:

What do you think about a Miata?

At this point, there will be one of two reactions. To the uninformed, the Mazda roadster will be mocked for its "cute" appearance, tiny dimensions, and lack of balls (usually it's a real macho dude who holds this car in contempt). To these people, driving isn't an experience to enjoy. Being at the wheel of a car is like being on stage for all the world to see.

Well, that's fine for them. The rest of us know that the Miata (why did Mazda change it to mx-5?) has a driving experience as pure as uncut coke and it's probably just as addicting too. Let's take a look at the recipe for this drug... err

The basics are all here. It has a front engine, rear wheel drive layout mated to a light and nimble chassis. How light is this car? The curb weights for the first and third generation are 2116 lbs and 2480 lbs, respectively. Horsepower? 116 and 167. In comparison, the iconic Corvette and Porsche 911 weigh about 600 lbs more. Ok, that's all well and good but numbers can't tell the story of why this is such a good car.

It's the feeling. That lack of weight carries more speed into the corners and immediately responds to direction changes. The driver just has to think and the car will be there in an instant. Find a good bit of twisty road, clip apex after apex, and mat the throttle in between. The tactile sensations are all there too. The steering wheel communicates every rock, leaf, and stripe to your fingertips. The clutch is perfectly weighted and matches beautifully to the perfectly spaced short throw shifter for those lightning fast upshifts or heal-toe downshifts.

So, next time you find yourself staring at the gauges of a Miata, pay no attention to the "bro" in the 'Stang with the blowout haircut sitting in the lane next to you. Let him dust you off the line and revel in the fact that you'll overtake him corner after corner. That is an addiction...

-Danny Chin-

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Flappy Paddle Head

Even as you are reading this sentence right now, without me having to even begin the topic, I am willing to bet that you already know where this post is going.

Fellow car enthusiasts, we are fans of innovation. We appreciate the importance of our engineers and their forward thinking, providing us with automobiles that are more accessible, more practical, and safer on the limit.

Computer chips kick in, calculating all sorts of algorithms, feeding off of sensory devices across every parameter of the car. This effectively narrows the gap between the amateur weekenders and the abilities of a professional race car driver. Yes, fat man, even you can look like a hero behind the wheel of the modern Ferrari 430.

One of the more recent devices that have been implemented onto modern race cars are the sequential gearbox. This technology has become a staple. Whether the discipline is Formula 1 or WRC, cars are fitted with this device that promises quicker shifting and efficient ergonomics. It has become so popular, in fact, that it has become a symbol of cutting edge performance.

But here lies the rub, ladies and gentleman. Car companies see this as an opportunity to please consumers that are conscious for performance. German motor companies are the largest offenders of all-- VW mates the sporting version of their bread and butter Golf to their trick DSG twin clutch transmission. [displeasure with what German motor companies do aside, I am a huge fan of the new GTI]

But let me explain the reason of my displeasure. The sequential, or flappy paddle gearboxes, are robbing our driving experience. The bond between a proper manual gearbox and a sports car is eternal. The tactile feel satisfies every sensory organ in our body-- the touch of the shifter, the weight of the clutch, the engines noise during a perfect rev match, the smell of gasoline, liking what you see as you grin and glance at yourself from the rear view mirror.

::glances at the review mirror:: "Danny Choy, you are one bad ass muthafuka."

The bottom line is that the relationship between man (or woman) and machine cannot be reproduced by any other sort of transmission. The arguably more efficient gearbox will win races, sure. But when you are buying yourself a car for pleasure, let me be the one to warn you against the hype.

Oh, won't bother with what I've said? So be it! Just don't blame me for calling you a "flappy paddle head" when you come crying back to me after you've realized your gearbox has betrayed you.

Automatic vs. Semi-Automatic vs. Manual pt. 1

Automatic vs. Semi-Automatic vs. Manual pt. 2

[credit to alernest, who provided YouTube with these select scenes from BBC show Top Gear and 5th Gear]

-Danny Choy-

Who We Are.

Who we are:
Danny Chin [undergraduate of RIT, Mechanical Engineering- Automotive option]

Danny Choy [undergraduate of Baruch College, Finance and Investments]

What we talk about:
cars, motorsports and the auto industry-- past, present and future.

Credible authorities, never.
Hypocrites, often.
Honest to ourselves, always.
Dedicated to the cars we love and the people that support us.