Monthly Archives: January 2012

TOKYO MOTOR SHOW PART II

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A stroll over the Tokyo Motor Show. What is served by the big three of Japan? I have a soft spot for Honda. This is the brand of the spaghetti exhausted '67 Formula One racer, the Monkey motor cycle, the groundbreaking Jazz and the Senna inspired NSX. The  asian brand can be seen as the BMW of the east, innovative and still independent. A spyder concept loaded with carbon, a foldable scooter, a mobility concept and a racy livered motor cycle. A range of heritage dressed up for today. Inspiring.

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Suzuki shows a bunch of rather quirky concepts, based on tomorrows  needs and sustainability. The green car is classic, strange, organic and pixelated at the same time.A blend of efficiency and nu-tech. I have to get used to my cup of tea with a chai flavor.

Toyota. The biggest player on a global scale seems to have re-invented itself from a rather dull overall brand to a more lively identity. The Tokyo Motor Show as a reset button. Positive, colorful, playful and human. Fun to drive again, Jean Reno included. We stand in front of a concept with projected graphics on a body side, waiting for a change. After five minutes we give up, realizing this innovative idea is rather static. Reborn? Not yet.

-Matt.

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TOKYO MOTOR SHOW PART I

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I have never been here before, and yet I feel at home. The Tokyo Motor Show, it has always been on top of my list since I was a kid. One of the grand slams of automotive car shows and probably the most exotic in the pack. The Asian view on things. Finally a check mark after all those years. Hardly I have put this event in context before we hit the floors of the quiet compact compound. With a group of colleagues we have touched down on Japanese ground and are still lost in translation.

To get in contact we start with the oblivious. The German side of the show. The Audi corporate identity suits the location. Clean, professional and with a local touch. Love the graphics on the soccer edition Audi A1. Neat colored detailing inside of the head lamps.

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Tokyo seems to be a good opportunity to take a second and more intense glance at concepts I have seen in Frankfurt before. The rounded and also edgy Smart concept feels more at home in this urban environment. Formed in a different medium, plastics can be formed so precise and crisp, inside and out. This compact car is loaded with innovative ideas. The big and blobby Mercer fits the Tokyo approach. Let's show a crazy vision of the future.

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We walk the floors of the show as we hear the touching speech of the European biggest CEO, addressing the power and innovation of Japanese car culture and its role in the automotive industry. Put aside all the novelties this is also a kind of resurrection of a country after the Fukushima disaster. The team from Wolfsburg surprises with a cross over coupe, based on a new platform. It looks great in overall stance and detailing. One of my Tokyo high lights. 

Another Wolfsburg premiere is a special edition Beetle, featuring a rather rock and roll in your face theme. Volkswagen goes guitar hero with the Stratocaster. The wood inlays are fake, but hey, this is Tokyo!

-Matt.

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INTERMEZZO

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One will find the real Berlin in hidden court yards, the local Beijing in the deepest corners of the hutongs, in Tokyo you have to look up.

The whole day we have been walking the streets of Tokyo. Akihabara, Roppongi, Shibuya. My eyes hurt, too much impressions. Before yet another deep dive into the night we decide to take a time out. Intermezzo. A look at the many high rise buildings and a couple of minutes later we find ourselves on the  seventh floor of a nondescript building. A bowling center, here? One story higher part of our group is challenging the locals for a round of table tennis.. Playtime

-Matt.

MUNICH

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A cold and windy ride to Munich. Two TT's tailing each other. After a little hour we are ready to sniff up some culture at one of the many museums in the Bavarian capitol. It is busy in the Pinakothek der Moderne. Silently the visitors walk from one section to the other. They cross the big round atrium as they move from Picasso to Warhol.

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We decide to start at the temporary exhibition. It is all about wood. A forgotten material in a world of big buildings. The immaculate and finely detailed models show the potential of nature to span amazing arches in todays architecture. A range from Japan to Europe and beyond. Laser cut, computer customized.Inspiring. Great displays with a lot of warmth. Worth a visit.

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Of course there is much more. Loosely painted graphics, colorful installations and heaps of master pieces. A journey back in to art history. Before we leave we have to take a look in the basement of the complex. The area below sea level is the industrial design department. An over dimensional Ikea Expedit filled with design classics is one of the big attractions. Sit down in one of the spacey rocker seats to chill out and stare at furniture, bikes, bob sleds and cars. Pinakothek sunday, let it be your pick of town.

-Matt.

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HONG KONG

I choose to stay in the Asian World Capitol for the shift to 2012 and i have had perfect days there. To be honest it's my favorite city at the moment. It is loud and colorful and then also in the middle of beautiful nature and at last 30 degrees on Chrismas is a good idea! Let's have a look at the HK Carfreax again.

Even if there are around 7 millionen people living in this metropolis it is a really small place. So the most intelligent car to have as a daily driver is a small car because normally you don't travel far because the border is close. Small is no reason to laugh in HK. I already posted a lot of cubes, which is the most stylish way to drive small, but this Subaru is also well made.

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Its not that i want to focus about Tuning but in i had the feeling there are more modified cars than not modified cars out on the street. So if you are not smart enough to choose s small car – you pimp your ride to be as cool. Personally i like looking at the creations that some times work, sometimes not. Wait, a Audi RS4 B6?

Audi HK small

The next level in HK is being rich and show this to everyone which is also enjoyable. But rich does not mean tasteful. Sometimes it is a thin border. The SV stucked in the traffic made some angry sound that i never can forget.

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Of Course there are also normal cars on the road. Silver surfers as every where else in the world but stop what is this Scirocco-like but more edgy thing?

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Not to forget the I-generation, wearing everything in white and earning a lot of money perhaps transfering money around in the world that never existed in reality.

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One Brand made it all over the world with more or less one car which some call "the beetle". As in any other big city you find a lot of them in HK, sometimes heavy modified.

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HK is close to Japan and so you can breathe the Japanese Car Culture already. As you as you already guess i took photos of Skylines again, shouting through the tales of glass and steel. Enjoy!

2012gtr klein
- Fab.

BURKI

Samen met dochter op bezoek bij 'Piet Hein Eek' om inspiratie op te doen voor haar werkstuk 'beeldende vorming' met als thema 'Recycling'. 'T mag worden gezegd: PH heeft toch wel een erg leuke omgeving gecreeerd! Tijdens het slenteren tussen de designmeubelen waar het ambacht vanaf druipt, lopen we tegen een vitrine met 'Future Vision' modellen aan. Gemaakt naar de futuristische ontwerpen/illustraties van Charles Burki (toch geen familie van…….?). Alle modellen uitgevoerd met DAF logo. Wilde ik jullie niet onthouden.

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Wanneer je je overigens iets verder verdiept in 's mans leven, ontdek je dat hij ook indrukwekkend (realistisch) werk heeft gemaakt in de oorlogsjaren……………..

TEMPLES AND TOWERS

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Stranded in Beijing and little time to sniff up the vibes? This could be your trip, at least it was ours. A mini introduction after our first touch down. Nutshell. The Lama Temple is located in the heart of the city, north of the cities equator. A beautiful and colorful complex with a feast of details on roof tops. A moment of tranquility as soon as you enter the compound. Smoke and the smell of ceremony. Welcome to Asia.

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From here it is an inspiring walk to the next landmarks. Slowly we work our way to the main axis of Beijing. It is just a mile, but we zig zag through the lively hutongs, drinking tea, stopping for pictures, watching the street life. What a contrast.

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Finally we reach the Bell and Drum towers. Siblings out of ancient stone and wood. A tourist place with a view. Take the steep steps upstairs and the panorama will unfold. Beijing in widescreen, live and direct. Look south and you will see the Forbidden City, look north to spot olympic stadium on a smoggy horizon. The towers, a stepping stone for things to come. Next stop? We will see.

-Matt.

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SANLITUN SOHO

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If you are close, you can't miss it. High risen and designed with the template of a kidney shape template, popular in the fifties for minimalist and sympathetic coffee tables. Back then the shape of the "Wirtschaftswunder", progressive and ellipsoid, the sign of a glorious future. At night the neon signs can be seen from afar. Sanlitun Soho, one of the many it-places of Beijing where lifestyle, work and shopping blend together in a modern mix of glass and concrete.

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Another day in the grid of the city, visiting temples or strolling through bazaars. Over and again the same ritual when we jump into a taxi. The city map confuses, but the magic word will be our "Sesame Open" effect. Sanlitun, Saanlituur, San-Li-Tor. After a couple of vocal gymnastics our driver turns the key and off we go. Back home, our temporary safe haven in a hectic city. In the morning a look out of the window, down on the street a film crew in full action. A girl with a Gucci bag in front of a Ranger. A scene with a strong reference to past times. This is Beijing now and we are lucky to spend some time in the middle of the storm.

-Matt.

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ONE GR8 SUMMER – PART ONE

My summer of speed kicked off at the beginning of July with Goodwood, followed just a week later by Pass Masters (previously reported by Mattijs) that was my first chance to have a proper blast with my new R8.

Yes! I did say MY! R8, admittedly a company car and only for the next 6 months, but still MINE! And Dude! Was I going to use it?

I’d been planning a mega road trip to the U.K. for some time and now I had the right tool for the job!  

Leaving Münich at 6.00a.m one misty Sunday morning in August, I literally flew across Germany, often seeing speeds hovering on the edge of 300 km/h. Rapidly dispatched Holland and France I hit the Channel tunnel only 8 hours later. The fly splattered, hot and ticking R8 deserving a well earned rest on the train ride under the sea.

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First pilgrimage in the U.K. was to be the Black Mountains located on the West side of the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales. The Black Mountain road’s are favorite test routes for the U.K’s Car Magazines and especially the A4069 which has become very popular ever since it featured on BBC’s Top Gear, with Jeremy Clarkson hammering an AMG SLK along it’s route. I quickly discovered why? Long winding roads greeted me, challenging corners, a good mix of fast and tight sections all linked by a good road surface and when you reached the hairpins you were rewarded with views to die for. You just had to beware of the pesky sheep everywhere!

I spent several hours discovering the aural delights of the R8’s responsive engine and the forgiving handling. The R8 is enormously capable, with scary amounts of grip on these tight and twisting roads, but when you lift off the tail will come around and you can drift gently through the turns in beautifully predictable slides.

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I was expecting to meet lot’s of other performance cars enjoying these dream roads and conditions, but I hardly saw anybody else during my time up there, this was my playground today! My Driving Nirvana!

The roads in the valleys on the North side weren’t bad either, long straights and fast sweeping bends, many snaking their way through tunnels of over-hanging trees. As the sun began to go down and with the navigation switched off! I just followed the roads where they took me.

Next stop Brooklands and a return to Goodwood, this time not just to look, but to drive!   

 

FISH WITHOUT CHIPS

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It is the end of the year and damn have I been lucky. A business trip to Tokyo, the big jackpot,  a long awaited dream becomes reality. We are here to visit the local motor show and in the meanwhile will enjoy everything that crosses our path. Four days and three nights lost in translation. I better talk about hours instead of days because we suck out every minute we can as night and day blend into a fantastic and exhausting cocktail flavored with sweet Japanese blends.

As a starter, let's talk sushi. Fish without chips for a change. Raw, but refined. Our evening meals as a stabile reference in a hectic, jet lagged parallel universe. Three dinners, three locations, three atmospheres. Somehow we immediately feel at home at the Gonpachi. No wonder the restaurant figures as the hot spot for Tarantino aficionados. Kill Bill has been heavily inspired on this place. Traditional, wooden, without the blood splattered bodies, but with great sushi.

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Our second stop is more minimalist, a nondescript and ultra compact cookery in the Roppongi district. Think of your bamboo cutting plate at home and extrapolate it to a restaurant. Silently and with great care the master and his assistance slice and dice fish and rice into a wonderful orchestrated Gesamtkunstwerk. We feel good and very Suntory to take another dive into the city of lights.

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 Our last pick of town is a spontaneous one, somewhere in a dark alley in Shibuya. This time we get as local as we can get. We order, well, a bit of everything. A blind date with Japan, surrounded by unreadable menus.

-Matt.

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