Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Few Minutes with Nice Cars. And Jewels.

Step away from my new car, lol! : )

A   D A Y   I N   N E W P O R T — Two Aston Martins and a Lotus were parked in front of Grenon's of Newport Saturday, August 28th, for an annual ensemble show and sale in conjunction with Aston Martin-Lotus of New England, Waltham, MA. The black Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster, above, called to me clearly as the din of the busy street and pedestrian traffic faded away... Take me home, take me home. If only!

I traveled to Newport with three girlfriends for the "by invitation" shindig this past Saturday. I ventured into the jewelry store long enough to sample a delicious canapé, sip a glass of champagne, and realize the gals were totally in their element, so while they picked out their new baubles I mainly hung around outside with the cars. Of course! 

The New England dealer brought a black-as-metallic-coal Aston V8 Vantage roadster, an equally dark and elegantly sinister DB9 coupe, and a brand-new-to-the-USA bright red Lotus Evora. I must have looked all right, the girls insisted I wear long pants, and the very cool salesman unlocked the DB9 for me, opened the hood, explained the dry-sump system, and gave me not only a copy of the summer issue of Aston Martin Magazine, but a hard cover book of the V8 Vantage—in it's own fitted white box! If he only knew the pants were rented, lol. I kid, I kid... To read more about the magazine, or book, click the embedded links. A big thanks to all involved.

To see my own artandcolour version of the V8 Vantage click here, or to see my DBS Shooting Brake, click here.

The henna-colored leather interior of the 'base model' V8 Vantage roadster, starting price $132,000, but there wasn't any sort of tacky price stickers on the cars. "If you have to ask the price..."

The just-introduced-in-the-USA, Lotus Evora. I have to admit it was better looking in person than I thought it would be, although I'm not sure that any inanimate object would look its best next to a current model Aston! The Evora, and Lotuses in general, are among the best-handling cars for sale anywhere in the world, bar none. Discerning buyers, those that would be drawn to a Lotus in the first place, already understand Lotus's stature in the world, so perhaps being parked next to an Aston isn't a bad thing for the storied British marque. Rumored to be priced in the neighborhood of $75,000, no real Lotus buyer is going to expect the gentleman's club ambiance of a modern Aston Martin interior in the lithe mid-engined Evora anyway. I didn't get a chance to look under the rear hatch to see the engine, but I'd assume all the Toyota-embossed engine parts are out of sight...

The aluminum-intensive interior of the Evora. While the aroma of Aston's hand-worked leather literally wafted out of them onto the sidewalk, the Lotus is much simpler and more business-like in its accoutrements, and for its customers, probably all the better for it. While the late Colin Chapman might not recognize the latest car to wear his celebrated Lotus badge, his credo, "Simplify and Add Lightness" was still very much in evidence in this Evora, even with all of the 21st century safety and convenience items present and accounted for.

The metallic black DB9 coupe. Elegance and Beauty. Period.

I didn't even notice the mint, Continental kit-equipped '59 Impala cruising by in the background until I downloaded the photos this morning! Can't say that has ever happened to this vintage automobile obsessed writer before!

I can't adequately describe the heady aroma of hand-picked leathers used in this DB9 interior. The matte-finished wood used on the doors and the dash was stunning as well.

A piece of art. I could hang this door on a wall. While the car is quite low, the door's unique "swan-wing" hinges move the doors upward and outward ever-so-slightly as they swing open, to clear curbs.

The V8 Vantage's engine. Sculpture and power galore. The 420hp engine is mounted behind the centerline of the front wheels, for a front mid-engined layout, resulting in better weight distribution and outstanding handling. The lightweight strut-tower brace ensures flatter cornering and reduces chassis and body flex.

The aluminum filler for the dry sump oiling system. I'm not terribly mechanical, but I know a dry-sump system allows for a lower engine and a lower center of gravity, both important in über performance cars like this Aston.

A quaint Old-Worlde touch. Aston Martins have always had an engine 'signed' by the elite worker that built it for the car, but now there is an 'inspected by' aluminum signature underhood.

And now for the smaller, wearable jewels!
One of my friends trying on Hidalgo stackable rings to add to her collection inside Grenon's of Newport. Grenon's has been open since 2000, and is a certified retailer of upscale brands too numerous to mention. Offering individual service, attention-to-detail, and, on occasion, Champagne and canapés, the ambience was relaxed and elegant. It was a fun day for all, inside and out, with beautiful jewelry and beautiful cars to peruse and, perhaps, to purchase.


  1. Good Morning Casey I bet you did have a fun day. It's fun being mistaken for a 'real' buyer sometimes. When my niece and I were in Maui we slipped in to an art gallery dealing in some celebrity artists; A. Hopkins, T. Curtis and a couple of others I can't recall the names at this moment. Now either the dealer thought we might actually purchase or he feared we were skilled thieves about to make off with several paints (probably the latter) but he became glued to our sides, yak yak yaking.

    I digress... first off in photo one and three I see a Mini-Me Casey in sunglasses and plaid shirt really giving the cars a once over, so cute.

    And how perfect was this - in the DB9 (pic #7) the picket fence reflected in the rear view mirror. Love it!

    I picked up The Gold-Plated Porsche from the library yesterday and I am so enjoying this book. Stephan Wilkinson writes in a manner that makes you feel like you are talking with him in his old red barn. My life flashed before my eyes at the beginning of the book as he describes the instability of the 911 rear end and the proper manner to take curves and apply brakes. A little too late for me, but I don't feel so quite alone anymore in having my 'stupid' accident.

    I thought the book was going to be a dry technical read, but Stephan is a compelling down to earth writer, easily enjoyed. I hope he is as nice as he seems to be in his writing manner.

  2. I'm glad you're enjoying the book! the best writers can write about cars or houses or dogs or kitchen silverware, and have a compelling storyline and characters and writing style. others can write about the most interesting subjects around and not the panache to pull it off. Car and Driver used to be full of 'real' writers that just happened to write about cars. Not so much anymore, but it's hard to find ANY good writers in magazines these days. It seems as if every young person employed by them sees them as a steppingstone to something else, and not the real deal.

  3. T. Curtis is Tony Curtis the actor, right? What were his paintings like?

  4. TC is Matisse-ey.

    I'm so jealous of you, Casey. I wasn't doing anything yesterday. Too bad I would have had to take a bus - I don't trust my car to make it from Boston and back. Somehow, taking a bus to peep at Astons and a Lotus doesn't seem right. The dealer would have "read" me and sniffed the subtle aroma of mass transit wafting from my clothing.

    Just a fantasy...I don't venture far from my little apartment, anyway.

  5. Thanks Marius for the TC link. Actually I like his art better than his acting, except when I was a young girl and so wanted to be Piper Laurie and wrapped up in his arms. I think my heart was broken when he married but then I got over him. He's not at all like the Johnny Depp love of my life now. I think when all my hormones really kicked in I gravitated towards the edgy bad boys with good bone structure. James Dean, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen and Johnny D. I have to admit it got me in trouble from time to time but wonderful memories.

  6. Annie,

    You should rent Cry-Baby. Johnny Depp as a teen idol with a tear drop tattoo beneath one eye. It's really funny.

    Prison musical numbers.

    I shouldn't hijack Casey's thread...too much.

    Aston's V-12 started life as 2 Ford DOHC V-6s mashed together, you know.

  7. HIiack away. I don't care what anyone discusses here! I like everyone 'talking.'

    Yes, I knew that about the V12. The V8 is their own design, right? Or is it a heavily modified Jag unit? I can't remember that fact.

  8. oh, and thanks for the link to Curtis's work too. I like the idea of an aging Hollywood movie start spending his waning days painting bright works of art. I imagine he has a beautiful studio and surrounds himself with beautiful objects to paint. Not a bad way to cap a career.

    they're obviously California-created as well. The bright sun they get is literally driven into those canvases. I could ever paint anything that looked like that sitting in New England. It would be forced and unnatural.

    I like his style, it's comfortable and pretty, with an interesting mish-mash of lines'/stripes of color in many of them.

  9. I like Hockney's work for the same color reasons you mentioned above, Casey. In fact my painting of our family's old beach house I call Hockney-style because of the colors I used.

    Marius, I have seen Cry Baby, but it's been awhile, so I just ordered in up again on Netflix. Re-watching Memento today for a third time!

  10. Cry Baby - I loved Hatchet Face. You can't miss her.

    If I were doing a show, I'd include Tony C. with Matisse and Hockney. Very similar thing going on. Hockney had the California light when he lived there. Matisse had the light of Provence.

    Matisse stuff:

    Casey, the AM V8 is actually a very special version of the Ford/Jag AJ-V8 and is assembled in AM's little workshop in Cologne.

  11. I agree with you Annie, I'm a big fan of Hockney as well. I have his "yorkshire landscape" as the desktop on one of my computers. I love strong colors that make the art "pop" off the wall.

  12. Casey, love the on location pics of the wealthy little toys!!! I would love to see Cadillac one day try to emulate the very best of of an AM. and integrate it in its design.

  13. phantomX,

    I saw 3 of his Yorkshire paintings when he had a show at a local museum. They are just beautiful. You have good taste.

    NY Times article about the road back from California to Yorkshire. He is a Yorkshire boy.

  14. Woody,

    I read that the new GM head honcho really wants Cadillac to have a halo car - not of the supercar variety but a real-luxe sedan. Should've done the V16 from a few years ago - they'd seriously need cylinder de-activation tech. for any kind of mileage though.

    Casey can design it...of course.

  15. Marius, thanks for the comment. I am an art lover!
    But when you think of it, we ALL have good taste, that's how we met on Casey's blog in the first place!
    Kudos, Casey !

  16. Marius,
    Please resend that Hockney link to the NY times - the end of it was cut off in the popup. Thanks !

  17. Hope this works:

    If not, use this search in Google:

    "David Hockney’s Long Road Home"

  18. Thanks Marius, the google search worked !

  19. Thanks Marius for the Hockney link that article was very interesting. I did see a gallery showing of Hockney's work back in the late 80's in Honolulu It was at that show I bought a book of his work 'David Hockney A Retrospective' I always thought that if I had all the money in the world I would commission him to do my portrait. He seems like a very happy man.

  20. The Evora looks a little pudgy in red. I've read that the camera does add a few pounds, still I'd rather see it in BRG with a nice rich brown leather interior - or hides as they call them. Black and biscuit might be nice, too. It does flatter almost anyone and anything.

    Casey, do you remember Bill Blass Givenchy, Cartier and Emilio Pucci edition Lincolns? So chic - even more so than a Levi's edition Gremlin IMHO.

    21 posts for this thread. My work is done.