Big Wheels: Colin James in a McLaren 570S

first_imgLike any son of the Prairies who followed his creative muse, Colin James has logged the miles, first as a 17-year-old splitting driving duties with his mom during a massive family trip of the U.S. southern states, then on many a cross-Canada jaunt with his early band the Hoodoo Men, and more recently on European and North American tours.He also admits to a love of speed, though two years of riding motorcycles — first a Honda Shadow, then a BMW 1200 sport bike — scared him enough to satiate the thrill of going fast. That, and being pulled over by West Van police on a couple of occasions — and not for his autograph.Tamped down as it might be, that primal instinct does reveal itself now and then during his time in the McLaren 570S. No surprise when you read the specs on this model: the aforementioned 562 ponies from a fire-breathing, mid-mounted 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8; a seven-speed, seamless shift dual clutch gearbox with paddle-shifters; a carbon-fibre monocell chassis weighing just 75 kilos; a sub-10-second sprint from zero to 200 km/h; and a top speed of 328 km/h. Little wonder Colin James is smiling.“Tight as a tick,” he marvels at one point en route to Lions Bay, a community his family called home for 18 years before moving down to the North Shore a few years ago. “Just wish I could come out of a corner faster than I am able to today. Just to get a better feeling for its weight and everything. But it seems light.” He’s right. At just 1,313 kilograms, its power-to-weight ratio is a whopping 428 brake horsepower per tonne. Translation: Hang on!McLaren Automotive’s namesake is Bruce McLaren, a New Zealand-born race car driver who got into the car-building business in 1964, the same year Colin James was born in Regina.I stop asking questions for a few minutes, but keep the voice recorder running. The only sound is the whine of the V8 filling the cabin, interrupted only by exclamations from the driver.“Ohhh. To wind out a corner hard in this thing…can you imagine?!“So much fun!“Can you imagine how much fun you could have with this going through some mountainous region in Europe? Going through Tuscany and the back roads around there?“Oh, feel that. Nice!” Music, no doubt, to the designers and engineers who created this “entry level” car.The 570S was unveiled at the 2015 New York International Auto Show as the first of three models in the new entry-level Sports Series, joining the existing Super Series (650S Coupe and Spider) and Ultimate Series (P1 and P1 GTR) in the McLaren stable. The 540C and 570GT have joined the 570S to round out the Sport Series, which the automaker expects to account for two-thirds of annual sales volume in 2017. The 570S starts at $219,750, but the loaded one James is piloting is a little north of $260K.According to McLaren, the 570S is designed to deliver “day-to-day usability and driveability.” Meaning it behaves itself at low speeds, has good interior storage and even comes with leather seat options. And it has a front trunk that James could fit an amplifier in. All in all, it’s a model that bodes well for McLaren’s future.As for James’ future, he’s celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary this month, he’s got that new album out — his 18th — and is off to the U.K. next month for an eight-show tour in support of Beth Hart.“We’re playing in London at the Royal Festival Hall, where London Philharmonic play,” he says with the same enthusiasm he has for the McLaren. “So that will be whack!“When I get back from England I’m off for just one day then go off on the Christmas Train from Chicago all the way up to Regina.”That would be the CP Holiday Train, where he and Kelly Prescott will showcase their talents at whistle-stops between the two cities from Dec. 2nd to the 15th. Proceeds from the annual tour, which has been going on for two decades now, benefit local food banks and shelves.“We usually do two shows a day, and one of the [train] cars rolls out into a stage and we play to kids and people. And I’m living on the train. I’ve done it once before and it’s great.”In the New Year he embarks on a Live Nation, coast-to-coast tour in February and March with dates in Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna and Nanaimo. Planes and tour buses will be his mode of transportation for those gigs.Doing them in the McLaren 570S? To steal the Bluesman’s phrase, “That would be whack!”COLIN’S CARSFirst cars: “I actually first learned to drive manual when I was 10 years old in the Kootenays in a VW Bug. Once I got my license the car I drove was my mom’s [mid-60s Plymouth] Valiant. I drove all over Saskatchewan in that thing, hauling gear and the Hoodoo Men around. Then we had some band vans, using those to cross Canada probably about 15 times or so.”First new car: “It was a red 1989 Mazda RX-7, and I bought it with royalty money from Voodoo Thing. It was being used as a prop car on the Beachcombers, and when I bought it I had to wait a couple of days to get it. That was hard. I loved everything about that car. The Wankel rotary engine. The manual gearshift. The pop-up lights. Had it for about five years, then we had kids and that was the end of that.”Current cars: “I’ve got a 2016 Audi S4, and it’s a great car. It’s practical but also a real driver’s car. And I just love the guttural exhaust sound. My wife has a [VW] Tiguan and we really like it. I took it on tour last year for a few shows in Western Canada and it was perfect.”Next car: “Well, I lease my Audi, so it’s looking like the new S4. But the [exhaust] sound is a little muted compared to my current one, so I’m not sure.”Dream car: “That’s a hard one. More like dreams cars. I’d love an old one like a Fairlane, all square and everything. And a muscle car for sure.”THE SPECS: 2016 McLaren 570SStyle: Rear-mid engine sports carSeats: TwoEngine: 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 (562hp/443 lbs-ft. of torque)Transmission: 7-speed Seamless Shift dual clutch Gearbox (SSG)Fuel economy (L/100km): 16.6 city; 8.1 hwy RELATED TAGS570McLarenCoupeSupercarLifestyleSupercarsNew VehiclesPeopleSupercarsVancouverAudi AGAudi S4Beth HartBMW 1200British ColumbiaBruce McLarenCanadaChicagoColin JamesEnglandEuropeForza MotorsportHonda ShadowJUNO AwardsKelly PrescottKelownaLions BayLive Nation Inc.London (England)Mazda RX-7McLaren GroupMotorsportsNanaimoNew York International Auto ShowNew ZealandNorth VancouverOceaniaRegina (Saskatchewan)Royal Festival HallSaskatchewanSportsTuscanyUnited KingdomUnited StatesVancouverVancouver SunVolkswagen BeetleVolkswagen TiguanWestern CanadaWestern EuropeWhistler (British Columbia) COMMENTSSHARE YOUR THOUGHTS Big Wheels is an occasional Postmedia series putting a person of accomplishment into a new vehicle for a drive, to learn more about the subject’s love of cars — and driving them.LIONS BAY, B.C. — This wasn’t what he had in mind when he named his new album Blue Highways. Colin James is a little downcast behind the wheel of the McLaren 570S as we head up the Sea to Sky Highway on an overcast Saturday morning.“Man, I just wish there wasn’t so much traffic,” the multi-Juno award winner is lamenting. “Can you imagine what this would be like if they could close this off to Whistler and let us rip? Man!” Buy It! Princess Diana’s humble little 1981 Ford Escort is up for auction An engagement gift from Prince Charles, the car is being sold by a Princess Di “superfan” Trending in Canada We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles using Facebook commenting Visit our FAQ page for more information.center_img I must admit that half-an-hour earlier I was a little uneasy about handing James the key fob to this 562-horsepower supercar. I’ve driven many a powerful car on tracks, yet I felt a certain intimidation factor when strapping into this street-legal race car. How would a “civilian” handle it? My concerns were first allayed when I pulled into the driveway of his North Vancouver heritage house and spotted a black Audi S4. “Okay, that’s a good sign,” I thought to myself.Then, after just a block of James in the driver’s seat, I was totally at ease. During the proceeding hour driving up to Lion’s Bay and back, I came to appreciate that James is as comfortable behind the wheel, or the handlebars, as he is when performing in front of thousands of music fans.“Yeah, I love to drive. Always have,” he says, noting that he’s also a big fan of Forza Motorsport. “I’ve gone pretty far into it, pretty much up to the point you start engineering tires and stuff.”Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Colin James’ 18th album, Blue Highways, was released two weeks ago. He describes it as a tribute to his idols, including Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed and Robert Johnson. advertisement Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Colin James was very comfortable behind the wheel of the McLaren 570S, though was a little blue from the traffic on the highway.Andrew McCredie, Driving Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2The two icons share a moment overlooking Howe Sound in Lion’s Bay.Andrew McCredie, Driving Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2A musician like Colin James would appreciate how McLaren has collaborated with audio experts Bowers & Wilkins to offer an outstanding surround sound system. This dash-mounted tweeter is part of the 12-speaker set.Andrew McCredie, Driving Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2At just 1,313 kilograms, the 570S’s power-to-weight ratio is a whopping 428 brake horsepower per tonne.Andrew McCredie, Driving Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Rear lights shaped in the McLaren logo are one of the unique features of this supercar.Andrew McCredie, Driving Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Plenty of room for a guitar amp in the front trunk.Andrew McCredie, Driving Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Unlike other supercars, the McLaren’s controls are simplicity personified.Andrew McCredie, Driving Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2As if you need a reminder that you are in a track car, there’s this helmeted figure on the climate control display.Andrew McCredie, Driving Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2In normal drive mode — is there such a thing in this car? — the display provides all you need to know, and fuel level is represented as ‘kilometres until empty’ (at right).Andrew McCredie, Driving Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2In track mode, the display is all business, with rpms becoming more prominent and the fuel gauge switching to a percentage (far right).Andrew McCredie, Driving Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2The key fob to the 570S is as elegant as the car itself.Andrew McCredie, Driving Price (base): $219,750  ‹ Previous Next ›last_img read more

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