Contributors: Thrill Machines

<< Back to Robb Report, August 2008
  • The Editors

As he researched this month’s cover story on the Iconic GTR ("American Ideal," page 74), automotive writer Ezra Dyer encountered a few bumps in the road. The 800 hp concept car, which recalls classic roadsters of the 1950s and ’60s, had been damaged during transport while making the rounds on the car-show circuit. Subsequently it had to be completely dismantled in Iconic Motors’ temporary garage on Long Island, precisely at the time of Dyer’s scheduled test-drive. To accommodate Robb Report’s readers (and our magazine’s deadlines), the company made a mad rush to reassemble the GTR. "The fact that it was drivable at all was nothing short of amazing," Dyer says. "It had no seat belts, and the side door did not properly latch, so it added to the thrill." Once behind the wheel, however, Dyer came to appreciate the car’s engineering. "The carbon-fiber-and-aluminum body was built with an eye toward lightness," he says of the speedy, 2,300-pound model, which goes into production this fall. "Under the hood it has a gnarly 8-cylinder NASCAR engine made from aluminum, so while the car can pick up some serious racing speed, the gas mileage runs an impressive 20 mpg on the highway." Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Iconic GTR is its marriage of the old and the new. While it evokes midcentury nostalgia, it also allows drivers to start the engine, open the gas cap, and unlock the doors with an iPhone or a laptop.

 

Photographer Renato Zacchia faced a few challenges of his own in capturing the images that illustrate Dyer’s story. "We did the shoot near Newport, R.I., which is known for hosting several America’s Cups, so it tends to be a very windy place at times," Zacchia says. "We started at 4:30 am so that we could wait for the right light, but when the optimum moment arrived, so did the rain and wind. We had to work very hard and very fast, covering the camera equipment with plastic, trying to keep the reflector from flying away, and also—most importantly—trying to catch the right light." Because the weather was not as cooperative as he had hoped, Zacchia had only about a half-hour window in which to capture the GTR at its best. Luckily, he succeeded.

Though trained as an architect, since 1997 the Sicilian-born Zacchia has been the official photographer for Ferrari North America, and he has covered such events as the F355 World Tour, the Ferrari 15,000 Red Miles in China, and the Ferrari Rally and Challenge in the United States and Canada. Other professional clients include Buick, BMW, and Maserati. Besides automobiles, his photographic specialties include fashion. "I love beauty wherever it comes from," he says. "Beauty is beauty; it can be found in a car or in a woman."

 

Aviation writer Michelle Seaton discovered the thrill of flying 20 years ago, shortly after she graduated from college. Now a journalist and a certified pilot, she also writes about sports, business, and, in more recent years, parenting. In "Bird Nests" (page 88), Seaton turns her critical eye to a growing trend in maritime aviation. "Outfitting superyachts with helicopters is an idea that has been around for a while," she says. "But as a trend, it is really beginning to gain momentum. When people buy yachts these days, one of the first accessories they want is a helicopter."

In speaking with aviation consultants who specialize in finding and purchasing the right helicopters for their clients, Seaton found that, in many instances, yacht designers fail to build helidecks and onboard hangars that can accommodate multiton rotary aircraft. Likewise, many yacht owners want helicopters that are too big for their existing yachts. "Helicopters must be modified for use on yachts," Seaton says. "And in most cases, the yachts themselves must be designed to accommodate a helicopter. Without the correct design, you’re going to end up chopping part of the boat out in a redesign, and that will cost millions."

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