Top Gear Unveils McLaren MP4-12C Spider

McLaren Spider MP4-12C

Attention all you high performance enthusiasts and exotic car aficionados, here’s a chance to evaluate the new 2012 McLaren MP4-12C Spider. This is particularly exciting given the number of these cars in the United States. By the time you're done with this, you'll be calling transport companies for bids on importing one of these.

Unveiling the New Model

Just over a year ago Ron Dennis of McLaren replaced the F1 with the newly designed MP4-12C. Sales had increased to over 1,000 units worldwide. Now Dennis has included a hardtop convertible dubbed the “Spider.”

Jeremey Clarkson of Top Gear was on hand in Geneva for the unveiling. Immediately it becomes evident that this car is the ultimate in eye candy. The aesthetics are such that it generates an “I have to have that” response right out of the box.

The car appears to sit low, but the 20-inch wheels fit perfectly high in the body giving the car ample ground clearance. It has huge intake vents just forward of the rear wheels which are functional because the engine uses two radiators — one on each side of the car.

A retractable spoiler adorns the rear hatch and forward of that is a killer-looking glass engine cover exposing the engine and turbo runners. It looks amazing with the Lambo doors open. And those are just a few of the high points — wait until you see the interior.

Going Inside

The interior is space-aged with a custom dash and console unlike any other car. A horseshoe-shaped panel runs vertically from the console up and around the steering wheel and down the door panel narrowing as it drops down. This contains the air vents on both sides at the top and all the switches as it continues down. Right away you will notice something missing — the gearshift. The MP4-12C has a 7-speed transmission with paddle shifters only. The color combinations accentuate the interior perfectly and the quality of the seats and panels are top notch.

What It Can Do

Now things are getting really interesting. The part that makes this dog hunt is a mid-engine 3.8-liter V8 with double overhead cams, port fuel injection and twin turbochargers. It produces an amazing 592 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 443 pounds feet of torque. This was confirmed with a dyno test done by Straight Line.

Considering the size of the engine, it is quite an achievement. Anyone who builds racecars knows that all conventional engines have a fixed camshaft. The camshaft must be installed for either low-end torque or high rpm power. It requires a tradeoff. McLaren uses variable camshaft timing, however, to avoid trading anything. The camshafts run at low rpm to build torque. As the engine revs, a mechanism advances the camshaft to increase air and fuel flow.

The engine is also has a dry sump type oiling system. The oil is not contained in an oil pan but in an external oil tank. This allows the engine to sit lower in the cradle, effectively lowering the center of gravity. The MP4-12C goes from 0 to 60 in 3.1 seconds and back to 0 in a mere 100 feet. Top speed on the Spider is 204 mph, 3 mph slower than the hard top due to the weight. And good thing too – you can't get them everywhere, so if you're not going to use car transport companies, speeds like that will make your drive across the United States a lot more efficient.

Watch Top Gear's Jeremey Clarkson’s amazing video as he pits the McLaren MP4-12C against the Ferrari 458 in a road course. As you can see in the Top Gear segment the McLaren out-handles the Ferrari 458 in the tight course due to its computer-controlled stabilization.

If you purchase a McLaren be sure to use car transport companies that specialize in hauling exotic cars. The McLaren MP4-12C is a car that competes well with the highest profile exotic cars today, and is readily recognizable as the exotic that it is.

2012 Teens Drive Smart Video Contest Wants You to Win $50,000 in College Scholarships

Teens Drive Smart Video Contest

Bridgestone recently opened up submissions for their 2012 Teens Drive Smart Video Contest. This contest gives students the chance to showcase their creative movie making skills, while trying to grab part of $50,000 in college scholarships Bridgestone is giving away.

The Teens Drive Smart Video Contest is looking for short automotive safety-themed videos, which encourages drivers to make good decisions behind the wheel. A good example for a theme would be “Don't text while driving.” (Something I am sure you don't do… right?)

Students who are between the ages 16-21 years old are eligible to enter. If you want to submit a video to be judged by Bridgestone the deadline is June 22nd, 2012.

After receiving the video submissions Bridgestone will have a panel of judges determine the Top 10 videos. These Top 10 will then be posted on Youtube, so the public can vote on on their favorites.  The three videos that receive the most votes will win the coveted scholarships; The Grand Prize winner will receive $25,000; second place receives $15,000 and third place receives $10,000. Not too bad if you ask me!

The scholarships are not the only prize in the competition. The Grand Prize winner will have their video air on the MTV Jumbotron in Times Square in New York City during August. Just try to imagine the awesomeness of your video up on a Jumbotron!

Also, the Top 10 Finalists of the contest will have the chance to have their video used as a public service announcement (PSA) on television stations across the United States.  In addition they will receive a new set of four Bridgestone or Firestone branded tires.

If you are interested in submitting a video, keep in mind your submission should make viewers be more more safety-conscious when using their vehicles. In addition the video should effectively and creatively communicate the message you are trying to get across.  Last year's winner Amber Cullen won with her video, “The Phone Bandit.”  You can also view last prior's winners via Teens Drive Smart website to get a better idea of what you should do for your video.

Each year the videos get more creative, fun, and interesting. I assume this year's contest won't be any different.

I am not eligible for this contest, but if I were I would try to use something crazy and fun.  Like my talented singing dogs! (We even made an appearance on Anderson with Anderson Cooper at Lincoln Center! :))

Anyway, try to remember it’s not just about getting a scholarship for college but helping make people more aware of dangerous driving habits. Your video can potentially create safer drivers on our roads.

For more info and to submit a video visit: http://www.teensdrivesmart.com