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North Alabama British Motoring Society Christmas Party
Calendar: Events Calendar
December 3rd 06:00 PM to 08:30 PM
*The times shown may change, depending on DST settings
Where: Century Automotive, 3800 University Drive, Huntsville, AL
Contact: www.nabms.org

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Another year at the always enjoyable North Alabama British Motoring Society Christmas party, which is graciously hosted by Century Jaguar.

I arrived a bit early, and wanted to check out the production model Fisker that has been on the showroom floor of the dealership there for some time now.

There have been several changes since I first saw the pre-production model when it arrived on a tour of the southeast in May of last year. The one thing that hasn't changed though, is that it still is strikingly gorgeous.

A lot of the car seemed quite the same, but there were subtle design differences that let you know this was a production model.

The interior package had a bit of a strange color combination that took some getting used to. This was simply the option package selected by the dealership for their first car, although I can't see why they chose it. But the build quality was very solid, and details like the luxurious and abundant Alcantera are what you'd expect from a car of this class.

The seating and locations seemed basically the same as the pre-production, with the same possibility to hit yourself in the hip with the rear door, and the same large center console in the rear of the car that ran all the way to the front. The design is a bit sleeker in the production model, and with a few added creature comforts like dual usb charging ports and cup holders for the rear passengers.

All the controls for windows and rear heated seats are in the same locations as the pre-production model.

One thing that did significantly change is the trunk space. While the pre-production model could easily hold two golf bags, the production model probably can't even hold one. The trunk is very shallow, and with electronics below the shelf, I don't see any way to change this. Of course, some of the trunk space may have been reduced if the rear seating space was increased. I recall the pre-production being cramped in the rear, even with the front seats forward, and this production model feels like it has a foot or so of more leg room--about the diameter of a golf bag.

One other thing that changed a lot different is the price. While the initial price was targeted at around $85k, the MSRP on this particular production model is over $108k without options. That's a difference of over $20k.

But to a certain extent, this pricing makes sense since the other cars in this class tend to be in this price range. Even this $100k Porsche Panamera does seem as striking to me as the Karma when put side-by-side.

As the mileage ratings for this car started quite a stir, I looked at the EPA ratings listed right on the sticker--20mpg as a traditional gasoline-powered car or 52mpg as whatever the EPA calls that. What is interesting is that in the EPA's 'Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Rating', the car rates a 10--the highest mark a car can receive. I guess some real-world driving tests around Huntsville will be the only conclusive test.

Now what I did find very interesting right below the EPA ratings is that the NHTSA has not rated the car 'for frontal crash, side crash or rollover risk'. I always thought a car had to pass these tests before it could be sold. Not sure what's going on with this since the Chevrolet Volt just had some controversy arise over its crash tests.

But I'm still pretty excited about this car considering all the various issues surrounding it. Why? Because once you forget about the plug-in hybrid angle and just look at it as a car, it's still exciting just as a car. And that's something I just can't say for the other plug-in hybrids out there.

While I was taking a picture of the Panamera, Jason, the General Manager of the Porsche dealership, played with the alarm system to get my attention. He had both a Cayman R and a 2011 911 Turbo S Cabriolet on the showroom floor. And after admiring these for a bit, I had to take some quick pictures of these beauties.

The Turbo S is a used car even though it has less than 100 miles on it. Apparently, someone bought it and didn't like the Tiptronic PDK automatic transmission with Sport Chrono package and launch control. I've had one of these cars for a weekend before, and I have no idea how anyone could consistently shift fast enough between first and second, and second and third manually unless they were a professional drag racer--it's just that quick to redline. But the previous owner bought a manual and this Tiptronic sits waiting for a new owner. The price is still a hefty $160k+, so don't get too excited for a basement bargain. But be on the lookout for it on the streets--Century has sold 13 Turbos locally this year alone, so there's a good chance this one will also go to a local home. And for all you exotic spotters out there, that's something to definitely watch for.

By the time I was done at the Fisker and Porsche dealerships, it was time to head to the Jaguar dealership for the party. People already started to trickle in, bringing food for the party and some great toys for the Toys for Tots program. In what seemed like just a few minutes, everyone poured in and the party was in full swing.

On the showroom floor with us was a Jaguar XKR with the supercharged v8 with 510hp.

It is brand new, and might even be the same one that was at last year's party, except this time with a $20k year-end discount. Tempting car for what it is--an Aston Martin without the sticker shock.

Club member Jack Stokes headed up a very special project that touched one wounded warrior in a very personal way. The plea came from a British car enthusiast a few months ago via email. Jack took it upon himself to make this wish possible and give a running, reliable car to a growing family that didn't have one. At the party, he was putting the finishing touches on a great story. He's promised to send me the story so I can put on here, and I can't wait to read it from his perspective.

I had a great time at the party and some really great conversations with people I've only had minutes to talk to all year, if even that much. And it was in one of these conversations that I learned about something I couldn't have imagined--Christmas at a race track. That's right. Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee has a 'Speedway in Lights' event every night throughout the holiday season. And it includes being able to drive your car on the track (not at speed). Apparently, it's a pretty big deal, sponsored by autotrader.com and TVA. And can you believe a club member's wife found this for him? Lucky guy! A woman like that is definitely a keeper.

As the evening came to a close and everyone started heading out, I was coming to the close of another Saturday full of fun work. And I was winding down for sure. But not before one last touch for the holiday spirit--the biggest snowman I've ever seen.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
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