Roxanne

My baby, Roxanne

2006 Volkswagen GTI

So, I paid off my car this week.  It may not be a big deal to you, but it is a huge deal to me.  I just wanted to share.

I was 20 when I bought my 2006 Volkswagen GTI.  It was my affordable dream car.  I wanted one from the time I started really learning about cars.  And, thanks to my father’s searching and willingness to co-sign a loan, this car was mine.  Well, after four years of monthly payments.

After I got the keys, I used to drive around Huntsville looking at other cars, asking myself what would I take over my GTI.  Very rarely did I come across anything I would rather own.  I would sit at red lights and wonder why anyone would buy anything else.

I suppose this is a love letter of sorts.  I could go on about how my GTI is never boring to drive.  I could talk about how, even eight years after it was produced, I still get comments, questions and stares.  Maybe it’s because of the “Tornado Red” paint and the tartan interior.

But, if I’m honest, this car is everything I could want in a vehicle.

It’s relatively fast.  It’s economical.  It’s practical.  It’s comfortable and quiet.  But, more than anything, it never, ever gets old.  As much as I love cars, driving can be a chore.  But in the GTI, I never seem to mind.

Mine comes with the classic three-pedal setup.  While not as fast as the dual-clutch transmission(the first GTI I drove was a fully loaded Fahrenheit edition with all the bells and whistles), the manual transmission has made me a better driver.  You pay attention more when you have a manual.  Plus, I’m not sure I would enjoy this car as much if I could be lazy and slide the shifter into drive when I’m driving to work.  Though it might be fun to pretend to be Sebastian Vettel as a play with the paddle shifter.

I’m not going to go on about the engine or the way it drives.  There are YouTube videos of Jeremy Clarkson flogging this car around the Top Gear test track that prove my point better than I could ever write it.  It’s all been said a hundred times and more.  All I know is that I still pull harder in a straight line than my friend’s FRS, and that’s enough for me(although the FRS would lose me if we ever came to a corner).

My point, beyond patting myself on the back for being a responsible adult and paying bills on time, is to find something you love and go after it.  For me, it was a car.  Not just any car, but a MKV GTI.  If you have to spend any length of time in a vehicle, find something that’s not boring.  It will make every trip just a little bit better.

YouTube Channels

I just wanted to post some of my favorite auto related YouTube channels.  No, Jay Leno’s Garage is not one of them.  If anyone has any suggestions for me, please post them in the comments.  I’m always looking for more stuff to watch.

/Drive – YouTube channel

Drive Network – Website

Drive posts new videos seven days a week, each day focusing on a different subject.  This is probably my most watched YouTube channel.  These guys have some of the most consistently interesting and high quality content around.  They cover car reviews, automotive news, tuned and classic vehicles, car buying advice and inside views of different car companies.

Motor Trend – YouTube channel

Motor Trend – Website

This is the YouTube channel for Motor Trend magazine.  They put out footage on a regular basis, and much of it can be viewed as companions to the magazine articles.

If you like reading automotive publications, I would highly recommend Motor Trend’s channel.  I personally believe they have the highest quality output of any automotive publication.

EVO TV – YouTube channel

EVO – Website

Like Motor Trend, EVO TV is the YouTube channel for the automotive publication of the same name.  EVO, being a UK-based publication, tests out a lot of stuff that we don’t have in America.  They don’t put out videos as often as some of the other channels, but all of their stuff is high quality.  They also focus more on sports cars than Motor Trend.

They also have a long-term McLaren MP4-12C with regular updates on how useful a supercar can be as a daily driver.

The Smoking Tire – YouTube channel

The Smoking Tire – Website

Matt Farah, who posts the Tuned videos on /Drive also has a separate channel and website, The Smoking Tire.  Self described as “No Hollywood, no bosses, no bullshit,” The Smoking Tire takes a look at some interesting production and tuned vehicles, as well as a look at some amazing car collections with Farah giving very honest and colorful commentary.

Petrolicious – YouTube channel

Petrolicious – Website

These are some of the best videos on classic cars I’ve ever come across.  The production quality is top-notch and I look forward to Tuesdays when the group posts new videos.  I see these more as short films than just YouTube videos.  You get the sense that everyone involved, from the subjects to the people at Petrolicious, are truly passionate about what they talk about and create.

After watching these videos, all I can think about is how to get my hands on a classic Alfa Romeo.

Electric Federal – YouTube channel

Electric Federal – Website

This channel is similar to Petrolicious.  Both put out high quality videos, but Electric Federal seems to fall a little more in the tuner culture side of things.  Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just not for everyone.  My largest complaint is the lack of regular posts.

Regular Car Reviews – YouTube channel

Warning: There is some NSFW language and subject matter in these videos, and most devolve into nonsensical ramblings.  That being said, these are some of the most consistently funny videos I’ve watched about cars.  It’s just a couple of guys going around reviewing everyday cars while making fun of the culture that surrounds them.  A lot of the jokes might go over the head of non-gearheads, but that shouldn’t deter you from watching if you don’t mind a bit of crude humor.

The videos might be on hold for a bit.  The Toyota Echo that the pair used to travel in was recently totaled, although a Fund Anything campaign to purchase a new car was such a success that I don’t see much downtime.

Slide shows

These are some slide shows from the past month that I found.  I love looking at pictures of cars, taking the time to notice the little details you can’t always see in a quick glance.  These slide shows feature some of the coolest cars from the past and present.

Porsche Museum Warehouse

According to the accompanying article, this warehouse holds hundreds of vintage Porsches that are not currently being displayed in public.  Michael Harley, West Coast editor for Autoblog, was invited to visit the museum’s warehouse in Stuttgart Germany.  Harley said he took the time to photograph the cars in natural light, adjusting the aperture and ISO so he didn’t have to use flash.

This visit was a rare opportunity for a journalist to go through and photograph and tell the story behind these vintage cars and their importance in Porsche’s heritage.

There are all types of cars stored in this warehouse, from vintage race cars to prototypes that never made it to market.  Porsche is one of the most respected names in the automotive business, and this warehouse shows how far the company has come from the days of building tanks in World War II.

What do you think is the most interesting car in the warehouse?

2014 Detroit Auto Show

The photos in this slide show were taken by Dan Neil of The Wall Street Journal.  The Detroit Auto Show last month featured some interesting debuts and concepts.  I gave my thoughts on a handful of cars in a previous post.

Neil’s photos show some cars I didn’t write about, such as the Kia Stinger GT4 concept.  He also gives his thoughts on the cars in the captions.

As a journalist, it’s important to keep up with current events in whatever field you focus on, in this case automotive news.  I hope one day to be able to go to auto shows myself to take pictures and report on the cars in person.

2014 Jerez Formula 1 Testing

Jamey Price shot these photos for the Road & Track website.  Testing for the 2014 Formula 1 season began last week at Circuito de Jerez in Spain, and price was there to take photos of all the new cars, save the new Lotus which isn’t scheduled to debut until the second test.

The 2014 regulations are a major overhaul for car design.  New safety regulations require the nose of the car to meet certain height and width standards.  The new turbo-V6 require the teams to design the car differently.

Price was able to shoot photos of all the different cars.  You can compare and contrast the different designs, most notably the noses of all the cars.  Being on site to photograph testing allowed price to photograph the cars at different angles and speeds.  It’s always interesting to see how each of the teams use the same set of regulations in different ways.