Layla – The Boat Tail Riviera

Layla – The Boat Tail Riviera


I tried to give you consolation…When your old man had let you down. Like a fool, I fell in love with you, Turned my whole world upside down. – Eric Clapton

This past week I decided to buy a new toy.  I found a beautiful 1972 Buick Riviera Boat Tail on Craigslist, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to own an iconic classic and an appreciating collector automobile.

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The Riviera is rare, with only 31,557 examples originally built, and the design was overseen by none other than Bill Mitchell (55-57 Chevy BelAir, 63 Corvette Split Window, 63-72 Buick Riviera).  .  Its flowing lines are immediately identifiable, and the boat tail design is unique in modern automotive styling.  Finding a decent one for sale is like discovering a unicorn.


Originally I was on the fence about buying a car the size of a English Channel ferry boat, but a twist of fate forced my hand.  During a conversation with my website designer/SEO guy name Brian, I discovered that the actual car I was buying was one he and his friend owned in high school.  The seller was his best friend, and the two worked on the car, made the upgrades and know every detail about the cars history.  It is a small world, and knowing that there was that connection made me believe I could be safe in taking the chance on the car.


The Riviera is beautiful, in a slightly ungainly way.  Mine is painted a Subaru WRX blue, and sports raised white lettered tires and Cragar SS rims.  Inside, the car is equipped with a front 60/40 split bench seat done in black with white leather inserts.  The previous owner had redone all of the body issues, added new carpets, and added a few cool chrome Edelbrock upgrades under the hood.  These upgrades made the engine shine and probably added a ton more horses to the stable.   It also has cherry bomb mufflers, and sounds like a true muscle car.  Once I started it up, I was hooked.

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The body is in excellent shape, with no rust or dent issues.  The paint is older, and pretty poorly done, with lots of orange peel and a few areas of dripping and waving.  The interior is also in good shape, with only the driver’s seat having issues, while the rest of the interior is un-molested.

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Driving the car is an experience.  The engine starts right up, and settles into a smooth idle after a few moments.  The cherry bombs on the exhaust give the car a mean growl, and every time you step on the gas, you expel a little more of the rear tire rubber.  Speed was never on the list of goals for the Riviera, but it still manages an impressive 0-60 in close to 8 seconds, which is not bad for a 19 foot long, two and a half ton behemoth.  With the upgrades to the engine, the car is now much faster, which means it is a challenge to drive.  The steering is like guiding a ship though a series of hard turns.  The steering feel is not only loose, it feels disconnected from the car.  When it does finally turn, the whole side dips and rolls like an aircraft carrier in high seas.  One major fault is the seats, which have no lateral support whatsoever.  On even the slightest turn, you often find yourself in the passenger seat.


Of course, now that I own the car, I need to figure out what to do with her.  Originally I had grand ideas of transforming her into the ultimate Grand Tourer.  I wanted to repaint her in a dark gray metallic and have the top section, that includes the roof, boat tail and the center of the hood, sprayed a slightly lighter color.  The interior was to be a medium saddle color, and the carpeted rear shelf under the massive rear window was to be transformed into a mahogany wood floor, much like a classic yacht.  I wanted to lower her by 2 inches, enough to highlight the lines without making her into a slammed custom.  I also wanted to add larger lower profile tires and larger chrome mag rims that would suggest a more refined hot rod look.  Finally, I wanted to cut the middle section of the bumper to highlight the full grill and make it a split bumper car, and add a center body colored fin in the center of the rear window, á la the 1963 Corvette Stingray Split Window Coupe.


In reality, I probably won’t get a chance to do any of these things.  If I decide to flip the car for profit, then it would make sense to see if the blue paint can be salvaged, either with a light re-spray or a color sanding and clearcoat.  One thing I will keep are the blue LED lights under the front grille – the same lights I have on my motorcycle.


In the interim, I have named her “Layla”, which means ”night”, or “dark beauty”.  I will continue to pilot her through the neighborhood scaring small children and wildlife, and have the time of my life playing with my new toy.


Of course, I want to hear from you…write me a comment and let me know what you think of Layla, and share any ideas you have on how to customize her.  I am always looking for cool design tips.



Article by Chris Raymond

Photos by Chris Raymond, Google Images, and

Pagani Huayra

Pagani Huayra

Pagani, the pantomime horse of supercar manufacturers has done it again.  It has built a machine that not only pushes the boundaries of what a supercar can be, but one that continues the momentum made by Pagani to become an automobile manufacturer with a proper heritage.   The car is called the Huayra, pronounced who-wire-ra, and it has the almost impossible job of replacing the amazing Pagani Zonda.


Pagani, and the Zonda are relatively new to the automotive world.  Born around the turn of this century, Pagani aimed straight for such venerable marques as Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche.  Unlike others who tried and failed, Pagani did not rely entirely on technology, or performance.  They wanted to be Farrah Fawcett.  Their goal was to replace the Lamborghini Countach as a boyhood pinup poster icon.  And, they did. 


Simply put, the Zonda was the embodiment of a supercar.  It didn’t have the grace and élan of an Aston Martin, or the panache of a Bugatti, it had something entirely different.  Where Mercedes-Benz  is Susan Boyle, the Pagani is Lady Gaga in her meat dress, riding Marilyn Manson through a crowd of nuns. 


Huayra, named after a Andean wind god, is a friend of the wind.  Where the Zonda just tore it a new one, the Huayra is more subtle.  The carbon fiber and carbon-titanium shell has four flaps designed to morph the body and change the airflow, all working independently and automatically.  Front ride height is adjustable to also manage airflow, and even raises during hard braking.  Of course, the car is a study in the beauty of carbon fiber, with lines that accentuate the massively wide rear end and tapered nose.  The look is more like a Group C race car made for the street, and is finished with a set of with AMG style gull wing doors.


Inside the car looks like Hermes meets steampunk.  The finest leather is accented by more carbon fiber and massive amounts of aluminum.  Think Spyker, without the 1940’s influence.  Gadgetry includes a beautiful center console and instrument panel bathed in crystal blue lighting, with GPS and a flashy infotainment center.  Milled aluminum abounds, with oversized switches that appear to be lifted from a WWII fighter.  Everything is hand crafted, purposeful, and perfectly weighted.  Glass all around gives the interior an airy feeling of a larger car.  Even the key is a block of milled aluminum, designed to impress anyone who sees it. 


Underneath the car is all Pagani, thanks to the folks at Mercedes-Benz AMG.  The engine is a 6.0 liter twin turbo V12, able to generate a massive 700+ horsepower, and 730 pound-feet of torque.  The gearbox is a quick shifting, single clutch, automated manual transmission system taken from the Zonda F.  Built by UK race specialist XTRAK, it sports both a manual style shifter and paddles on the wheel.  Brakes will be air-assisted, and massive.  There are plans for a sport version that will boast 730 horses, and 811 pound-feet of torque, hopefully available soon.  Top speed is estimated at 230mph, with 0-62 times of around 3.3 far. 


Most of us will never need to remember any of these details, because none of us will ever see the car in the flesh.  At approximately 1.4 million dollars, you won’t have to worry about your neighbor rolling one out on the weekends.  This car will only inhabit the internet, and the occasional Top Gear episode. 


Finally, though the car has been panned by automotive critics for looking like a catfish, I disagree.  I think the styling updates the Zonda shape into a more refined road car.  Of course, blogs like Jalopnik and Motor Authority are geared to the edgy “tween” reader, and are required to snark about almost everything…which is why I ignore their drivel.  Just as the XJS had trouble following the E-type, the Huayra will have some growing pains with the Zonda as its daddy.  Given some time, I think the shape will age quite nicely.


Photos courtesy of

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond



Mazda MX-5 Miata 20th Anniversary Edition

Mazda MX-5 Miata 20th Anniversary Edition

You’ve probably heard by now that Mazda is building 20th Anniversary editions of the MX-5 Miata.  The first edition in blue was launched at the Geneva show and aimed at the European market, the second in white was aimed at the UK, and the most recent, a Black and Matte edition, is being aimed at the Japan market.  What I haven’t seen is a US edition.  Does Mazda hate America?

The short answer: Yes, and we should carpet bomb their headquarters immediately. The longer answer is a bit more complicated. It seems that times are tough for the Miata here in the US. With executives calling it a “second car” and a “self indulgent vehicle,” and with the US economy still in the toilet, the outlook is grim for the affable little speedster.

But I love the Miata.  I own a 2007 Copper Red Grand Touring Edition with an orange/tan leather interior and consider it one of the best cars I’ve ever bought.  It reminds me of my MGB Roadster, but without the electrical and mechanical problems and snickers from teenagers.  Granted, mine could use a better sound system (as I don’t have head-rest mounted speakers), you can’t carry anything larger than a scarf, and the ride can be a little rough, especially  when you’re going 110 mph down a pot-hole infested side street.   But I really like the car and bought it at the middle of the economic collapse.

Americans have bought a ton of these cars and I think the US market deserves a nice little Anniversary edition.  I hope it won’t be as tacky as the UK version or as odd as the Japan version, but it would be a nice gesture.  I recommend a bright blue or red model with white leather seats, American flag logos, and “Don’t Tread on Me” spray painted on the doors.

Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond

New McLaren MP4-12C

New McLaren MP4-12C

Looking for a way to spend that Wall Street bonus money?  No? Well you’ve ruined my intro. Okay, let’s say you are. You’re in luck, because McLaren is making a new car.  For about $244,000, you can be one of the gilded one-percenters to own the new McLaren MP4-12C.

The MP4- 12C is the first in a line of new road cars for McLaren.  They recently started their own automotive division in hopes of offering different models and competing directly with the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini.

The car will be a carbon fiber masterpiece with a full carbon fiber chassis.  The engine is a twin turbo 3.8 liter V8 designed by McLaren with 600 horses and a 0-60 time of “under three seconds.”  That’s faster than a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 and a Ferrari 458 Italia!  Top speed should be in the 200mph range with a 0-125 in less than ten seconds. At that speed, you should never be late for anything.  This is going to be a great car, with a possible roadster version coming soon.

You‘ll have to wait a while to pick up the car since most of the dealers haven’t even been chosen yet,  but when you do get it, it will be everything you expect from McLaren: speed, design, and attention to detail. Welcome to the supercar club.

Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond