Although it’s not required to have a deep appreciation for cars to work at for a dealership group like Morrie’s, a lot of us are absolutely fanatical about cars. While some of us diligently wash and wax our favorite cars before a car show or enjoy a serene cruise around town, we have some serious motorheads amongst our ranks who can only satiate their need for speed at the race track. Perhaps the most die-hard of them all are the rally enthusiasts, most typically found at our Minnetonka Subaru store. Scott Putnam, the fleet sales manager at Morrie’s Minnetonka Subaru invited us out to Michigan earlier this year to watch his team, CPD Racing, as they tackled a number of snow and ice-covered rural roads in their Subaru WRX STI during the first round of Rally America’s 2016 championship. A few weeks later, they were in Salem, MO for the 100 Acre Wood Rally. Scott invited us back to follow the team around the hills outside Portland, OR this past weekend during the Oregon Trail Rally, the 3rd round of the 2016 Rally America series.
The Oregon Trail Rally is an incredibly challenging and grueling three day event that follows the narrow fire roads that flank the Columbia River. While the scenery is absolutely breathtaking, these roads often feature blinding dust, slippery rocks, and sheer rock faces inches from the edge of the road. It’s a harrowing drive for your average driver, even more so while carrying triple digit speeds, sideways, while choking on the dust of the car you’re chasing down for a spot on the podium. Instead of CPD’s usual ace driver, Lauchlin O’Sullivan, Road & Track Magazine sent in contributing editor Jason Harper to mix it up in the dirt for an upcoming article.
The first day comprised of a few stage laps around Portland International Raceway with some added jumps to spice things up. You know, because rally. The turnout was great with lots of spectators lining the track well into the night. Jason and Scott kept things tidy and made up a few spots on the grid during the four stages held at the circuit.
The following morning, we headed into the hillside on the northern side of the Columbia River in Washington where Jason and Scott would be tackling a mix of windmill-lined gravel roads before ending on the private Maryhill Loop hillclimb stage for stages 11 and 12. The ominous silhouette of Mount Rainier always looming in the background, setting the stage for a clash of titans of the dirt. Maryhill Loop would cap off the day with an epic serpentine bit of tarmac that wound its way back and forth up the hillside of a private piece of land. Typically, this narrow two-lane road is used for downhill longboarding competitions and filming car commercials where a closed road is needed. For us however, it was an all-out, full-speed assault to the top.
For the final day, Jason and Scott went back across the river towards Dufur, OR to race through a mix of picturesque vineyards and silty hillsides. When all was said and done, CPD Racing didn’t make a podium spot but Jason was ecstatic each time he climbed out of the car. He drove cleanly and brought the car back in one piece. Mighty impressive for a novice rally driver, given the treacherous terrain and unforgiving conditions. We’re looking forward to checking back with the team in a few short weeks for the Mount Olympus hillclimb!
It’s been a long time in the works but Morrie’s Minnetonka Subaru’s remodel, transforming it to the biggest, most modern Subaru dealership in the Midwest is just about done. We’ve appreciated all of our customers’ patience as we’ve completely renovated not only our show floor but also our service and parts area. Before, we had two separate show floors and a tired service area that was dirty and poorly lit. Here’s what we used to look like:
The plan for construction was to clear out the service area behind the bigger of our two show floors and expand back, with more room for customers, including a new customer lounge, a playroom for children, and new finance offices. We also added a new area for our service advisors and cleaned up our service drive. We expanded our service center with more lighting and windows, as well as more lifts to work on cars to speed up service. To top everything off, we freshly painted the whole building and updated our signs and facias to give our dealership a bold, new look.
And now, we’re up and running on our new show floor with plenty of space both for all of our amazing customers as well as the latest and greatest Subaru models! Stop by soon and see for yourself!
Despite the frigid temperatures, howling wind, and momentary blizzard-like conditions, we kicked off the first MN C&C of the year in style! Thanks go out to everyone who braved the conditions and came out to the event.
After each major auto show, we like to sit back and simmer on what we saw for a little bit. It’s important to think about what we saw and where we think the auto industry as a whole is headed. Oftentimes, an auto show will have an underlying theme or trend beyond the glitz, glamor, and luxury of the latest and greatest new cars. For instance, last year in Detroit, the North American International Auto Show was all about sports cars. The Los Angeles Auto Show tends to alternate between driving fun, sporty cars or big, lumbering crossovers. The New York show, a one-to-one transfer of urban and affluent world around it, was loaded up with high-end luxury vehicles and sports cars. And with over 25 new vehicles making their debut in the halls of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center this year, we figured we should pick a few highlights from the show that warrant a closer look.
Most Fun: This has to go to the new Mazda MX-5 RF. Although the beautiful flying buttresses and hardtop mechanism add an estimated 100 lb weight penalty to the lightweight roadster, we’ll gladly take the extra style and security of a hardtop in this case. Mazda took a car we already loved to drive and gave us a reason to drive it even more.
Best Concept: This was a tough decision between the Lincoln Navigator and the Genesis New York Concept but the Genesis wins because it’s the one we most want to drive. We like the edgy, overstyled design cues and high-tech futuristic tech but what really got our attention was the 3.3L V6 making 365 HP that we were promised. While we’re not sure if Genesis will actually implement technologies like gesture control and a 21-inch curved 4K display sprawling across the dash, we’re looking forward to seeing a production version in the near-ish future.
Best Overall Booth: It’s pretty safe to say that Nissan had the best booth of the entire show (they actually had two booths). We loved Nissan’s booths so much because for the 2017 GTR unveiling, Nissan brought out six vintage GTRs from 1969 all the way up to 2014 to show their lineage. While we were impressed by the 2014 Nurburgring record-holding GTR NISMO and enjoyed a bit of nostalgia for the R32, R33, and R34 models that we idolized in Gran Turismo video games, the true stars in our eyes were the 1969 KPGC10 and 1974 KPCG110 models that just ooze style.
Most Luxurious: Now the Lincoln Navigator Concept gets its chance to shine. Aside from the huge gullwing door opening, Lincoln Motor Company’s tagline “Quiet Luxury” couldn’t be more fitting for this SUV concept. The interior design is pure opulence while the exterior styling makes more of a statement than any Rolls Royce. Assuming Lincoln stays true to this design for the production Navigator like they did with the Continental, we’ll be happy campers.
Driver’s Choice: As you might know if you follow our Morrie’s Heritage Car Connection blog, a bunch of us here at Morrie’s love to get out and drive. Many of us are also loyal Porsche enthusiasts which is why the new 911R spoke to us the most as the car we wanted to get in and drive at the 2016 New York International Auto Show. A 4.0-liter, naturally aspirated Flat-6 generating 500 HP carries over from the street-legal race car GT3RS but what makes the 911R special is that it’s linked to a model-exclusive 6-speed manual transmission instead of the usual PDK gearbox we see in Porsche’s GT models. It’s meant to be driven hard and put away wet, and that’s what we’re all about.
Unobtanium Award: Just because we’ll probably never see another one of these again, we’ve got to pick the Koenigsegg Regera (and its One:1 stablemate) as the biggest jaw-dropper of the show. Something about having well over 1,000 HP packed into a lightweight, carbon-fiber shell with loads of other technologies including a hybrid drivetrain that eliminates the need for a transmission, and this is pure, unfiltered, car-nerd dream fodder. More than any other booth at the show, we probably went out of our way to walk past the Koenigseggs the most. Soak it in, my friends. This thing is wild!
While Day 1 at the 2016 New York International Auto Show was packed to the gills with all sorts of major reveals, there were only a handful by comparison on Day 2. This left us with more time to wander the showfloor and see anything we missed in the chaos on Day 1 while also making sure to see what had just been revealed. For instance, we couldn’t keep ourselves away from the rows of supercars where we saw a Bugatti, a Spyker, and two brand new Koenigseggs on the stand. The same was true for the Porsche stand which drew us in with the rare and beautiful 911R and the new 718 Boxster S. We also got to spend a little more time with the Maserati Levante, where we checked out the gorgeous Zegna-trimmed interior (it’s pretty dang nice!)
We also circled back to Genesis – Hyundai’s new luxury brand – to check out their New York Concept vehicle that we ought to see hit the compact luxury sedan segment in the next couple of years. Although this was very much a style exercise for the show, Genesis already had a list of drivetrain specs as well as a beautifully designed interior, although it’s unlikely many of the interior details (like the 21-in curved 4K display from LG on top of the dash) will make it to production.
We’re in New York this week covering the 2016 New York International Auto Show during the press preview. In addition to creating a ton of fresh video content from the showfloor, we made sure to snap a ton of photos of our favorite new (and some old) cars that we found at the show. Now, we love the big international auto shows as much as anybody but we’re going to walk you through some of the highlights so keep reading!
First up, Mazda excited us with the MX-5 RF, a retractible hardtop model that carries more of a targa look when the top is stowed. It’s a great new look for our favorite convertible and we think Mazda really outdid themselves this time. How could you not love that shape?!?
Nissan also rolled out another updated version of the GT-R. With more power, more comfort, and more luxurious materials throughout, the GT-R continues to justify its existence for another year while we wait with bated breath for a completely new version that is rumored to come out next year as a 2018 model. Still, it’s hard to fault Nissan for building a bright orange, 580 hp rocketship, but the real stars of the Nissan booth were all the vintage GT-Rs they brought out for the show, dating back to 1969!
Cuban Film Festival – Thursday March 24th
The Minnesota Cuba Committee, in partnership with the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul and the Cuban Film Institute, presents the 7th edition of the Minnesota Cuban Film Festival. This Thursday marks the fifth film screening in a series of six. Just bring your Spanish translator because the films are in Spanish.
Macy’s Flower Show – Now until April 3rd
You don’t need to go to Denver to enjoy some good greenery. Over the next few weeks the eight floor of Macy’s downtown will come alive with grasses, tropical flowers, cacti, and other green and not-so-green flora. It’s too bad we don’t have a VW bus in the MHCC fleet. It would fit this event perfectly.
Smoke Signals BBQ and Brewfest – Saturday, March 26th
Generally we’re not fan of smoke, whether it’s blue smoke from a tailpipe or any other variety, but we can’t turn down a little smoked barbeque. This Saturday Indeed Brewing is paring some of the finest BBQ with some of their tasty suds at Smoke Signals. Throw in an outdoor bonfire for good measure you’ve got a great trifecta.
Hopefully you’ve already claimed your free tickets for the 2016 Twin Cities Auto Show but if you haven’t made it to the convention center yet, the show is still running through this weekend. Check out our guide on what to see while you’re there!
We usually go to all the big auto shows around the country like Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York, but there’s something special about our home show at the Minneapolis Convention Center. We stopped by the 2016 Twin Cities Auto Show earlier this week to poke around and enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere we have here in Minneapolis. The 43rd Annual Twin Cities Auto Show ends this weekend so hurry up and register for free tickets with your Morrie’s store of choice and get to the show while you still can!
Top of the morning to you! Grab yourself a green beverage and saddle up to see what our St. Patrick’s Day Top 5 favorite cars will be. Let’s not waste any time getting to the list so here they are.
#1 Aston Martin Rapide S
Pentland Green has never looked so good on anything. This 2015 Aston features an Eifel Green Leather interior that is unmistakable for anything but green. When you catch that pot o’ gold make sure to swing through Morrie’s Luxury Auto to pick up this beautiful Aston Martin Rapide S. Imagine all this green luxury and a 552hp V12… you know it’s good.
#2 Steve McQueen’s “Bullitt” Mustang
One of the best car chase scenes in movie history may still be from, “Bullitt” a 1968 classic featuring Lightning Steve McQueen behind the wheel of a 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT Fastback. A classic American styled vehicle with a green paint job that makes this a solid choice for enjoying the lovely weather we hope to have this year. Check out the chase scene from “Bullitt” on YouTube here
#3 Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept
This is one we hope to see in more of a production model soon enough, but as of now you can’t argue with just how good this Bentley looks. This color might be perfectly suited to the concept, but I also wouldn’t mind seeing this on the new Bentayga SUV from Bentley. Since Green can look good on any classic British sports car, and it’s fitting since the UK is much closer to Ireland than we are across the pond, they should get the nod on this one.
#4 Ford Focus SVT RS1 / 2013 SEMA Focus ST
Another overseas release that wasn’t sent to the states (Until the Focus RS for 2016) doesn’t make this vehicle avoidable from our list. Maybe even import one of these to Dublin and go in search of the leprechaun holding all that gold to buy up the Aston Martin Rapide S we mentioned earlier. If the new body style of the Focus is more your style then you need to check out the Green Filter rendering of the Focus ST. It was built and brought out to SEMA in 2013. The classic racing livery it features is a sure fire way to have a bit of fun and look good during St. Patty’s Day.
#5 Nissan Leaf
100% electric and 100% amazing fuel economy, there isn’t anything more green than an actual green car. The Nissan Leaf would be the perfect car to cruise around the city to pick up a brisket to make with a bit of cabbage on the side.
Thanks for checking out the list and make sure to let us know what else you think we should add. Have a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day!