The Boston Car Scene: Where Does it Rank?

With YouTube and Instagram being the catalyst for car scenes across the United States in the 21st Century, car culture has always been considered more prominent in California, Texas, and Florida. Due to our inability to have year round events in the Boston area with our harsh winters and very unpredictable spring and fall months, the summer is really the only time of year we can take our cars out with full confidence that rain will not cancel events. With that being said, where does the Boston car scene rank, and is it underestimated and overlooked to some degree in the car world?

As a Bostonian and having seen the transformation this city has gone through over the past decade, car culture and its relevance in the automotive world is directly linked to our local economy. Over the past few years Boston has attracted business leaders and entrepreneurs, which in turn has brought some very rare exotics to the streets of our historical city.

This year a Pagani Zonda S showed up to Tutto Italiano at Larz Anderson Auto Museum, which is the largest event for Italian cars in the Northeast. Also present was a Ferrari Enzo that drew a crowd immediately when it pulled in. Herb Chambers Lamborghini of Boston held a get-together for Lamborghini owners prior to the event, and when all 18 cars including four Aventador SVs showed up, the entire park and the spectators there flocked to see them park on the lawn to meet their Alfa Romeo counterparts.

It’s not just Italian exotics that have become more of a common sight in and around the city. 2016 has been the year of the Porsche GT3 and GT3 RS. At Cars & Coffee, you can fully expect to see at least 2 of each to show up, and on some occasions even more. With the addition of a McLaren dealership 20 miles south of Boston, and the Aston Martin dealership in the western suburbs, the British car market has increased in popularity as well.

Boston’s car scene may never grow to the size of Florida’s, California’s, or Texas’, but it’s one that deserves a lot of respect. Car events have become fun for many who attend, and with the sightings of Aventador SVs, McLaren 650s, newer Ferraris, and even a Pagani Zonda S, the car community has gained a lot of traction, which is now introducing a new generation of car lovers to brands such as Audi, Mercedes Benz, and BMW, which has a very strong and loyal following.

Bigger and better things are sure to come, especially with the growth that the community has experienced over the past year. Hopefully with the growing number of car photographers constantly posting on Instagram, Boston’s car culture will bring further awareness to car lovers in New England who are looking to be a part of something big, that Texas, California, and Florida has monopolized.

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The Poor Man’s Exotic: Ferrari F355

Ferrari F355
Chris Wevers via / CC BY-NC-SA

By no means is the Ferrari F355 a poor man’s car because it’s in fact an actual exotic, but due to depreciation, this beautiful car is within reach for some car enthusiasts. The first Ferrari to be put on the “Poor Man’s Exotic” list, the F355 hits the heart strings for many, also bringing back memories from its cameo in the First Fast & Furious movie. What is probably one of the more under-appreciated and sometimes forgotten Ferrari, the F355 was the predecessor to the 360 Modena and F430, which began the race with Lamborghini to build and create supercars that amaze us every time one passes us by.

Starting off with the prices that you can expect for an F355, you’re looking at a $50,000 starting point, and gradually work your way up to close to $90,000 for one in mint condition. You’ve got the choice between the spider, targa, or hard top, and manual or automatic. Best of all, the F355 was one of the last Ferraris with a pure manual and not the dual clutch transmissions which can now be found on all modern Ferraris. A car that brings you back to the late 90’s which still carried the tradition of driving in the 20th century, this Ferrari is one of the last cars that defines its era.

Most the F355’s that are listed within a 250 mile radius of Boston have very low mileage, even the cars that are priced around $50,000 come with 21,000 – 30,000 miles. These beautiful cars were definitely taken care of, as a car like the F355 would be driven on the weekends or taken to car events. That’s what’s great about Ferraris that are older; they’re more likely to have been treated very carefully as opposed to a 2010 Nissan GTR which, at least from what I’ve seen, is harder to find in great condition.

With performance you will receive 375 hp, and a 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds, which even with today’s standards is pretty fast. The F355 comes with the typical exotic MPG of 9 MPG in the city and 14 MPG on the highway, but the excitement, adrenaline, and fun you’ll have supersedes the amount of times you’re going to visit the pump.

In the two previous articles in the series, the Alfa Romeo 4C and Lotus Evora are much younger and newer, with more of that off the assembly line look and appeal. The F355 offers a retro alternative, but still turns heads, even those of younger car enthusiasts. It’s also an opportunity to own a Ferrari for less than $75,000. The 360 and F430 are still priced above $100,000, and until they begin to depreciate in value, the older ancestor of the Ferrari brand is great choice to go with.

Acura Is Going Automatic, Leaving One Model Left With Manual In 2016

The consumer markets have spoken and one auto manufacturer has listened. Acura will soon be offering only automatics in their lineup, and in 2016 only the ILX will have a manual transmission. A new era in the automotive market is upon us, and while I can hear the groans from the car enthusiasts who swear by the manual transmission, paddle shifters is that kid on the block who’s taken over and everyone now follows.

The original story posted on Car and Driver goes through Acura’s transition thoroughly. The company that brought us the Integra is realizing that consumers don’t want the manual transmission, and there are a few theories as to why this is happening. For one, automatics are getting great gas mileage, a stronghold and persuasive buying point manuals once had.

Some people are blaming the non-car enthusiasts for this change, but let’s think about the sports cars and exotics that now offer paddle shifters. Ford Mustangs offer automatics, and for a while now, Ferrari has put paddle shifters in their cars. Most notably, the LaFerrari doesn’t even come with a traditional manual. Every car in-between Ford and Ferrari that attracted hardcore car enthusiasts and were for people who could drive manuals are now available in automatics or auto shift. This is the direction car manufacturers have gone, and with manuals only making up 6% of the market, demand is dwindling for a clutch.

With touch screens, navigation systems, iPhones, and other devices that distract drivers, the last thing most consumers want is to worry about shifting. Yes, the purists out there will say that manual is the only way to thoroughly enjoy a car, but an overwhelming majority of drivers, including car enthusiasts, are finding auto shift and automatics to be just as much fun. Let’s also remember the demographics here as well. With most people moving back into the city, having to upshift and downshift at every intersection and being in traffic on the highways is a chore most people don’t want to add when commuting.

Is there a place for manuals? Absolutely. For Acura however, most of their car buyers use their Acura’s as daily drivers, and with the Honda-owned company not offering much in the sports car market, most of the manual transmission lovers will have to look to older models to get their fill. Otherwise they’ll have to change brands, but even Lexus and Infiniti are beginning to change along with consumer demand.

At the end of the day, the goal for any company that sells products is to increase sales. As mentioned earlier, manuals only make up 6% of the market, which means 94% of consumers want an automatic or paddle shifters. Cars with manual transmissions really are a dying breed, and maybe some automakers will still offer traditional manuals on models they know have a cult following of loyal consumers.

The entire auto industry is in the midst of a revolution, and with electric cars gaining traction, who knows what other components will be different in cars in 5-10 years.

Acura is seeing the change and they’re going to listen to consumers. Other car manufacturers will follow suit, and are already moving away from the manual transmission but still offering it on some of their models. It’s truly amazing what consumer buying power can do, and with the advances we’re seeing in the auto industry, this change to going automatic and auto shift was bound to happen.