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My Automotive Holiday Wish List

One of the interesting things about working in the automotive industry is the exposure you get to all kinds of different vehicles and technology. And the folks at AutoPacific and VehicleVoice get to sample all kinds of cool, not so cool, and plain awful cars, trucks, SUVs, and tech gadgets. So, at this festive time of year, I thought it might be fun to organize my own “holiday automotive wish list” for your reading enjoyment. It’s not scientific, per se, but it does perhaps relate to our own “top ten” cool car bits and pieces.

boss302PJ.jpg

1. 2007 Saleen/Parnelli Jones Boss 302 Mustang
This is big. There are all kinds of mustangs out there, but this is the one you want to grab and hang on to. It’s officially called the Saleen/Parnelli Jones, but it’s unofficially the best 302 Boss Mustang on the planet (and it is different from the upcoming Ford Boss 302).
There are so many Mustang variants out there, one might wonder about long-term resale and value. Well, there’s no need to worry about resale with this bad boy. It is very similar in design (including awsome shaker hood scoop) to the 1970 Boss 302 Mustang that Parnelli Jones won the Trans Am Championship in. But, it has all of today’s creature-features, plus tire smokin’ power. A 302 CID (5 Liter) SOHC V8 putting out 400HP at 6000rpm – and this car is essentially blueprinted. So, while it doesn’t have Shelby horses, it does have purebred power – and a unique “look” that will keep this car’s value in the black for the rest of your life. (Watch for our podcast on the new Saleen/Parnelli Jones Mustang next week – I get Parnelli to share the history of this car and why it really is a Parnelli/Saleen, not the other way around!)


2. Audi R8
Audi’s chief designer, Walter de’Silva gets it. The Audi R8 represents the best of design, performance, and even cost. Having driven and absolutely loving the RS4, which shares the R8’s 420-hp V8, I can only imagine how much fun stabbing the go pedal would be in this remarkable automobile. Seats, shift-gate, steering, and even the view of the engine make this perhaps the best value in a “super car” anywhere. When Ferarri said, “No Dino” replacement at the L.A. Auto Show, suddenly, nobody seemed to care. And if the rumor of a V12 diesel is true, I’ll take one – and make mine blue.
3. D1 Dromo (or similar ) Karting for Life
Most people will scoff when you say you’d like to go racing on a budget. Dromo One makes it a reality. Based in Southern California, this indoor karting track has all of the fun of expensive racing, but for pennies on the dollar. It’s approximately $20 per heat (25 laps average) in Stratos GS karts – and they even use Formula One style standing starts. There are no special licenses required and there’s no better way to hone your chops… well, there is, but I don’t have the budget for a seat at Ferrari, or even the new Spyker F1 team. Note that there are similar types of karting tracks popping up all over the United States and Canada.
4. Cadillac Navigation System
GM may be in big trouble, but if they’d just offer their Cadillac NAV system to other manufacturers, they’d be in the black in no time. This is an remarkable system, and I’m not a big fan of NAV in cars. Most suck. The Nav that Cadillac offers in the Escalade, SRX and other models is hands down the best thing out there. The touch-screen CD/MP3/WMA/DVD in-dash multimedia unit (with aux-in) is very easy to use, includes voice recognition (40 commands) and lets you “voice tag” destinations that have been manually entered. The DVD is choc-full of cool destinations all over the US and Canada and it is very easy to read, day or night. Frankly, it’s the best thing about Cadillac and if I could put one in my non-GM car, I’d do so in a second.
5. 2007 Mini Cooper S
I know. It’s a small car. But it’s super cool to drive, will never be seen as obsolete, and where else can you build a car as personalized as this one? Just getting on the Mini website and building a Mini is cause enough to purchase one. Besides, there’s just enough room for my wife, our two yellow Lab dogs and a driver (me, I would hope!). Make mine Pepper White with black stripes.
6. Bridgestone Potenza RE050A Pole Position Tires
I’ve driven ’em. The Potenza RE050A is a fantastic tire. They stick, dry or damp (not so good in heavy rain) and they last. I like the fact that they aren’t too noisy – as a lot of performance tires are; plus they’re reasonable in cost, relatively speaking. Need new tires? Let’s work! These will get it done.
7. Piloti DTM-R Driving Shoes
You may laugh, but driving shoes DO make a difference. And Piloti has figured out how to create shoes that make driving more fun, and don’t hurt your feet when you spend three hours walking through the mall with your “significant other.” These shoes are built for speed, with a patented heel design, reinforced lateral structure and NOMEX lining. Family outing or a few laps at Laguna Seca will both be satisfactory when wearing Piloti shoes.
8. Kirium Formula 1 Watch From Tag-Heuer
Since Tag Heuer advertises in nearly every car mag, and is actively involved in motorsport, they qualify as a cool automotive gadget. The Kirium Formula 1 watch is water resistant to 200 meters, is backlit, has a natural rubber band (very clever), and has a timeless look (no pun intended). It’s different – and I like that, too.
9. Monster iCruze iPod Adapter
Monster knows that most of us aren’t aching to have the interior of our cars filled with all kinds of add-on boxes, cables and what-not. The iCruze is a behind-the-scenes device that allows your factory radio to control and manage playlists from your Apple iPod. The provided interface cable allows your car radio’s control features to manage the iPod. It works really well – and it’s under one hundred bucks. Yee-haa!
10. Drowsy Driver Warning System
I don’t have a particular brand in mind, as the technology is quite new. Still, the idea of a device that monitors the blinking of my eyes and can trigger any number of warnings (car radio, window down, etc.) if I start to nod off is very cool. Ford Motor Company has been researching a number of these products. The NHTSA estimates that 1,500 fatalities in 2002 were the result of drivers falling asleep. Hopefully it wasn’t because Ford vehicles bore their drivers to sleepy-time. Of course, I think the best answer for Ford is to just give anyone who is tired a Saleen/Parnelli Boss 302 Mustang. Time for my nap…
Other things I thought about…
There’s always more than enough stuff to think about when gift-giving is in the air. Here are a few more things that almost made the list: Alfa Romeo 8c (it isn’t here, yet, but it is gorgeous!), VW GTI (for the guitar they toss in), Toyota FJ (we all need a truck of some type!), a crew position with the Andretti-Green IRL racing team in 07, or better still, a position with the new Spyker F1 team (they are really good looking, if not fast), 2007 Toyota Camry (Motor Trend gave the COTY to the right brand), and a weekend in Monaco during Grand Prix weekend (just for the atmosphere).
What’s on your list? We’d love to hear…

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