driving

Noel Gallagher’s ‘Chasing Yesterday’ Is The Perfect Driving Album

‘Chasing Yesterday’ released in February of 2015 and is quietly one of the greatest driving albums of all time.

The roar of a V8 or the hiss of a turbo may be all the petrolhead needs for a Saturday morning thrash around the bends, but on the daily commute or a long road trip, the stereo makes its case. This is where former Oasis guitarist/singer/songwriter, Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds take the stage.

‘Chasing Yesterday’ is a blend of terrace rock riffs, blues and jazz that sets the canvas for the perfect drive. Here are some of the album’s highlights:

Riverman

The album’s opening and arguable best track, ‘Riverman’ plays like a road movie. The kind of song that comes on past midnight when you’re the only car on the road. The engine hums in the background, crisp night air wafts through a cracked window as the chorus fades into a haunting guitar solo that elicits the blues and purples of lights in the distance. It’s a song that lets our minds wonder and replay old memories of love lost in a journey down the open road.

Lock All The Doors

‘Lock All The Doors’ is the speed freak,  a song for the kind of hard hitting drive that makes your hair stand on end as your adrenaline takes you to a primeval place that every racing yearns for. It’s Senna at Jerez, the delicate dance between total control and chaos.

Do The Damage

Everyone has that one perfect road – it’s quiet, the bends are plenty and it confirms exactly while we all love driving. ‘Do The Damage’ is the song for that perfect road, the soundtrack for chasing every apex, the perfect heel-toe downshift and the welcome backfire from the exhaust. It fuels an excitement that causes us to shout from behind the wheel in pure driving bliss.

You Know We Can’t Go Back

In California we have the Pacific Coast Highway, an epic piece of tarmac the follows 655 miles of coastline. It captures that out of body experience when we become the stars of our own films, the wind tussling our hair as the warm sun begins to set behind the Pacific horizon.

Ballad Of The Mighty I

‘Ballad Of The Mighty I’ is the grand finale and it begins to play as your reach your final destination. There’s something beautifully somber in this song about a person on the hunt, perhaps it’s a metaphor for every petrolhead seeking that car that got under their skin. The echoing reverb of Johnny Marr’s guitar solo sets the table for the final verse, just as you ease off the accelerator, flick the indicator and coast down the exit ramp.

As far as I know, Noel Gallagher isn’t a petrolhead but his music certainly provides a compelling soundtrack for us all.

Video credit: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

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The Automated Lifestyle

What do automotive manufacturers have against the manual gearbox? It has been a fight to the death (quite literally) for years and I still can’t wrap my head around the reality that my kids will never learn how to use a clutch pedal. I suppose it’s part of a larger issue that stretches well beyond our cars and to our innate desire to live an automated lifestyle. Why should a human being have to perform a task that can be done by a machine? Why learn to write cursive when you can type on a keyboard? Why type on a keyboard when you can use a voice command? Seem my point? The human race seems to be moving in a direction where “do it yourself” does not compute.

Automation is intended to make our lives easier, free our minds from the menial tasks that once dominated countless hours of our days. Yet in 2013 people have more friends on the Internet than they do in real life and more are diagnosed with depression than ever before. Our collective unhappiness boils down to the simple fact that our desire to create, our desire to accomplish something isn’t being utilized because technology does it for us. As highly social and intelligent beings, it is our job to create, to do tasks and to be active members of the physical world that surrounds us.

porsche_911_gt3_01

Driving a car used to be a highly physical experience. It required practice, skill and depended on the driver to be the least bit coordinated. The act of pushing in a clutch pedal and shifting a gear stick is a physical experience, but in this world of automation it’s been deemed unnecessary. We’ve all known this evolution in the way we drive our cars has been coming, but today’s announcement that Porsche would not be putting a manual gearbox in their upcoming GT3 RS, further cements the reality. While recent 911s were merely a shell of their spirited predecessors, they were one of the last high end sports cars to offer a full driving experience with a manual gearbox. In some ways it made them a bit more special than their peers. However the new model will continue with the same electronic steering that’s infected all 991s and the addition of a PDK.

nissan_gtr_01

Sure some will be quick to mention the GT-R and how the immediate power delivery and phenomenal handling, fill the void left by the absence a manual. But at what point will the automation end? At what point is the driver no longer part of the equation? Formula 1 has had the technology to race cars without drivers for years. Google has designed a car that doesn’t need your help. But do we really want that reality? Formula 1 implemented regulations that kept the focus on act of driving because what is a sport without the human element? With no mental or physical challenge can it even be considered sport?

1993 Italian Grand Prix

There’s a reason we tune into all 58 laps of a Formula 1 Grand Prix, pay our hard earned money to watch Kobe Bryant play LeBron James and still see more live action films than anything with a digital cast. It’s because of our demand for the human element of sports and entertainment. It’s something we can relate to and it’s the one thing we all have in common. Surely we’d want to keep that human element as part of our daily lives as well? Surely we find satisfaction in cooking dinner from scratch, drawing a picture or properly driving a car?

We live in a generation of new equals better, but is that really the case? I’m not so sure.

Project C.A.R.S.

For most of us, the decision of which racing sim to play is simple. It’s generally a toss up between Grand Turismo and Forza Motorsport. For the PC users there’s GTR 2, rFactor2 and the highly acclaimed iRacing. However, a new contender has surfaced from the makers of GTR. 

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/44162688]

Good lord! Project C.A.R.S. is still in the early stages of development and the games creators are seeking testers and potential investors. More info on that can be found here.

Based on the footage, Project C.A.R.S. is beautiful to look at and astonishingly realistic. I’m a Forza man myself and one of my complaints has always been the lack of racing types in the game. Sure there’s prototype cars and a handful of GT options but the lack of single seaters has left a void.

I can’t wait to hear more about this game. It’s a bold claim, but this could be the new top dog in the world of racing sims.

Video courtesy of JonZ.

McLaren Comparison: F1 LM vs. MP4-12C

This could be the worst comparison video known to man. It’s essentially one enormous build up. The subjects are both so rare and expensive, that a proper driving comparison would never be possible, for fear of damaging either car.

The only reason I’m posting this video is because I was discussing the McLaren F1 last night. It’s very interesting to see the new MP4-12C, stood next to the original F1 LM. I still think the F1 LM eclipses the new one in both looks and soul. Besides, MP4-12C is a ridiculous name for a production car. Who’s going to remember it? A name like that should be reserved for Formula 1 chassises exclusively.

Video courtesy of Autocar.

Neglect

My apologies for the lack of updates, it could be the longest A Class has gone without a single, new post. I’ve been extremely busy over the last 2 weeks. I just got back from a trip to the East Coast a couple days ago, but I’m home now and ready to get this thing going again.

Lets kick things off with some GC8 steez.

I love seeing cars in their natural habitat, doing what they do best.

Photo courtesy of Terrence Tong.

Varis Sets The Bar

It’s just after dawn. The sun isn’t visible, but the sky is bathed in shades of pink and gray. A blanket of fog on the surrounding mountains begins to recede, as the light of day grows. It reveals a single stretch of perfectly paved tarmac, so smooth it’s texture is barely visible. The sharp white and yellow lines of the road are a stark contrast to the forest that surrounds it. The silence of dawn is broken by a rumble in the distance. Startled, a flock of crows takes to the sky as it grows nearer. Tires squeal and from around a bend, a vehicle emerges. The driver accelerates hard and is quickly on the brakes again; the exhaust crackles, as he downshifts approaching the next turn. The driver likes spending his early morning hours on these roads. They’re open and calm, the right kind of place for collecting data. With each turn he gains more feedback on his designs, learns more about the handling of the beast he controls.

That’s how I envision Varis testing their latest designs. Their workshop has been described as a mystical place, high in the mountains for Japan. It’s out of reach, close to the roads with which their cars were born. Their pieces not only represent the highest levels of quality and functionality, but have contributed heavily to the fashions and styling trends of exterior tuning in the industry.

It’s always very exciting to see new aero for any car. It’s particularly exciting when that aero is made by Varis and it’s for an Impreza.

I’ve been closely following the progress of this design on Varis’ blog for the last couple of months. They’re one of the first manufacturers to design any substantial aero pieces for the GVB Impreza and the results speak for themselves.

What started as a cooling bonnet, quickly evolved into a full kit for every side of the car.

I consider this the Stage 1 kit because the design has retained the car’s factory front and rear bumpers. Over the next year or so I’ll be expecting to see Stage 2, a more heavily developed areo kit, designed for circuit driving. That should have new bumpers and more serious downforce. In years past the street kit has been a good indicator of where the company is heading with their designs. Varis never disappoints and this is currently the best look for the GVB Impreza.

Something else to look out for may be another possible collaboration with Original Runduce. For the GRB, Varis developed a unique areo kit for Runduce’s demo car. I’m excited to see that things are moving in the right direction. A lot of shops are struggling right now and we’ve seen many close their doors. Happily, Varis doesn’t seem to be one of them.

Photos courtesy of Varis.