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CYNTL (Cars You Need To Love!)- Episode 1: The Ferrari Mondial

It’s been a while since I’ve chimed in at MFL. Work obligations got the better of me, but now I’m back and I’d finally like to put forth the first installment on a series of underrated cars –  magnificent machines that won’t (necessarily) break the bank, and hold their own with the best in terms of style, performance, or at least my opinion. The idea with this series is to put forward vehicles that are often overlooked for any variety of reasons, be it ubiquity, long held prejudice, or just generally passed over for one reason or another, but are actually some truly great cars. It’s called Cars You Need To Love. For the first installment I’ve chosen my personal favourite in the category of wrongly maligned and ignored autos. So without further ado, allow me to (re)present….

The Ferrari Mondial



The Ferrari Mondial was introduced as a coupe in 1980, replacing the “Dino” 308GT/4 as the new 2+2 GT car in the line-up. The GT/4, a truly great car in it’s own right, was a bit of an odd bird for Ferrari. It was one of two Ferrari’s, along with the 206/246 GT series, that didn’t technically start out as Ferrari’s. They were built under the Dino marquee as more affordable, user friendly machines to broaden Ferrari’s consumer base throughout the late 60’s and 70’s. When the 246 series ceased production in 1974, the 4 seater 308 GT/4 was the sole “Dino” left on the market. But that didn’t last long. By 1976, the 308GT/4 had been re-branded as a Ferrari. Turns out that consumers all knew they were buying a Ferrari, and that was part of the issue. The cars were made by Ferrari and the engines said Ferrari, so it seems consumers felt the badges on the car should say Ferrari as well, and that anything less was a bit of a disappointment. Sales reflected that thinking, at least in the USA. I know Dino owners who’ve spent many hours over the years explaining to everyone from first dates to fellow car nuts that their Dino’s were in fact Ferrari’s (now an accepted fact). Additionally, the 308 GT/4 was a blip in Ferrari’s more or less strict allegiance to design house Pininfarina, with the job of the GT/4 having been given to competing house Bertone. Bertone delivered a wedge shaped car totally devoid of the rolling elegant curves that typified Pininfarina’s designs, and that also had Ferrari fans squawking at the time. When the time came for a successor to the 308 GT/4, the job went to Pininfarina.

A young man checking out a Dino 308 GT/4 in the 70’s ^

So it was that the Mondial appeared in 1980. The reaction was, to say the least, mixed. Pininfarina delivered a car that had some of the curves restored, but not all. The car lacked the arched roof and fenders of other Ferrari’s of the time. It also integrated the “cheese grater” air intake scoops on the side of the car, which were very 80’s to say the least. Additionally, being a mid-engined 4 seater, the car was elongated on the rear end, or perhaps shorter on the front end, creating an odd sense of proportional aesthetics that divided opinion. But in truth, all Ferrari’s with 4 seats have an uphill battle to climb. It seems to be the general consensus that Ferrari’s are NOT meant to be family friendly cars, but rather lean and mean 2 seaters that look sexy and go fast. At the time, Ferrari was offering the 308 GTB or GTS and the Berlinetta Boxer, two cars that certainly felt like they fell into that camp, as well as the stately 400i, a powerful but decidedly plush gentleman’s V12 2+2 touring car. The Mondial sort of fell in between the two camps, and people weren’t sure how to respond to it. Do we treat it as a really sporty GT or a sports car with a backseat? To further muddy the waters, some of the magazines got “not quite ready for prime time” cars to test drive. This resulted in some unflattering reviews that have stuck with the Mondial to this day. That’s a fair amount of baggage, so let’s unpack it…


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2016 F1 Grand Prix of Monaco — Results & aftermath

Hamilton regains mojo on streets of Monte Carlo as Rosberg falters; Ricciardo 2nd after pit foul up; Perez a surprise P3 for Force India

All season long Lewis Hamilton has been looking for the breaks to start going his way just as they had done his past two championship seasons with Mercedes. This Sunday in Monaco, in the most glamorous Grand Prix of them all, Hamilton’s woeful 2016 luck finally turned around when the Englishman got a break of his own and drove a superb race to grab the win and perhaps alter this year’s title narrative. On the tight street circuit, which last year saw his team throw away a certain victory with a poor strategy call, Hamilton benefitted greatly when team Red Bull also blew it in the pits for their then-race leader, pole-sitter Daniel Ricciardo. With the race starting under yellow for several laps in the rain and the track remaining wet once the weather passed and the contest finally got going in earnest, Hamilton’s strategists made the gutsy call to stay out on full wet weather tires until a true dry lined formed and then jump straight to slicks rather than easing onto intermediate wet tires first. Red Bull played it safe and stuck to that more conventional intermediate tire decision at first. Then Ricciardo, cruising with a handy lead, was called in for another pit stop for slicks on Lap 31 to match Hamilton in rapidly drying conditions. But Ricciardo’s crew was somehow caught by surprise and had no tires ready for the Aussie. In the ensuing mad scramble for rubber, Ricciardo saw his 35 second lead over Hamilton evaporate and by the time he he exited the pit lane he saw the sickening sight of the the Silver Arrow streaking by him at full chat. Hamilton, perhaps feeling he was owed one after last year’s screw up, knew exactly what to do with this gift and aggressively kept Ricciardo behind him for the rest of the race. At one point he even cut a a corner of the Nouvelle Chicane and practically shoved Ricciardo into the armco to keep him behind. While Ricciardo protested, the stewards made no call and that was as close as the crestfallen Aussie would ever get. As the laps wound down, the Red Bull’s tires went off and Hamilton stretched his advantage, cruising his way to what must have been a very sweet and redemptive victory.

Pics courtesy

Pics courtesy

Even sweeter for Hamilton his teammate and archival Nico Rosberg had a dismal race. Two weeks after the Mercedes duo took each other out on Lap 1 in Spain and earned no points, Rosberg saw his championship lead slip down to a mere 24 points with a poor seventh place finish. Plagued by brake issues right from the rainy start of the race, Rosberg could muster no real pace and had to hold off inferior cars for most of the day to even finish in the top 10. Even more galling, Rosberg was pipped at the very death by Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg for P6, a 2-point swing. After three consecutive victories in Monaco, Rosberg was dealt a significant setback in the Herculean effort required to snatch the Championship title away from his cocky English teammate. All the momentum that Rosberg had at the beginning of the season appears to have gone away these last two rounds. It remains to be seen whether the German’s sometimes fragile confidence can hold up to yet another sustained assault by Hamilton or if Rosberg will wind up wilting under the pressure and Hamilton will be crowned king yet again.


Force India not only placed Hulkenberg solidly in the points with his last-minute P6 but even better saw his Mexican teammate Sergio Perez hold off Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for the last step on the royal podium with a tenacious P3. Despite his seemingly inferior car, Perez drove an excellent race in both wet and dry after qualifying P8 and it seemed as though Vettel’s Prancing Horse had nothing for the Mexican, especially after struggling first to get by the Williams of Felipe Massa in the last third of the race. But while Vettel had to settle for P4 his teammate Kimi Raikkonen clipped the wall on Lap 11 destroying his front wing and forcing the Finn’s premature retirement from the race. All in all a very poor showing from Ferrari in the premier race of the season, one aided and abetted by their subpar qualifying form.

On the other hand, McLaren showed continued improvement, with Fernando Alonso grabbing an impressive P5 and Jenson Button a decent P9. It would not be surprising to see McLaren compete for their first victory since 2012 before the year is up and put an end to that astounding run of futility for the storied team. Rounding out the Top 10, Toro Roso’s Carlos Sainz drove well for P8 and Felipe Massa outperformed his teammate Valtteri Bottas for the last points paying position at P10. Bottas had to settle for P12, behind Esteban Gutierrez after he was penalized 10 seconds for contact with the upstart Hass driver.

Joining Raikkonen in a race that always features a high number of DNF’s, Red Bull’s wunderkind Max Vertappen continued his habit of smacking the barriers just as he had done in practice and qualifying and crashed out in the race, a hard landing back to reality after his storybook win in Spain in his debut with the A-team. Both the Renaults of Jolyen Palmer and Kevin Magnussen also retired due to crash damage. And the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr pulled their own mini-Mercedes act when Ericsson lost patience waiting for team orders to force Nasr to move aside and tried a dive-bomb move down the inside that ended both their races. For the struggling Sauber team it was a costly and foolish dust up, as there were no points on the line and Nasr likely would have let Ericsson by eventually.

Top 10 finishers in Monaco:


Complete race results available at

The next race is in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix in two weeks. Hope to see you then!

What We’re Watching – Billabong’s “Pump!”

Even though summer still beats down on us, a surf movie may seem an odd choice for a serious film recommendation, but that’s how I’m offering it to you. Aside from Bruce Brown’s “Endless Summer” and perhaps one or two other exceptions, most surf movies can not fairly be called movies at all. They are more accurately known as “videos” – a collection of impressive surfing snippets set to some popular music of the day, without much in the way of structure, designed more to trigger memories of one’s own surf sessions or inspire one to new heights, all while steadfastly promoting a brand by unapologetically hyping the surfers who are sponsored by that brand. If you’re a surfer, they’re really fun to watch but never go beyond the fun one can find these days by watching a succession of surfing clips on Youtube. They don’t transcend themselves. They’re not movies. The one exception to this rule however, is Billabong’s Pump!.


Pump!, produced by surf clothing company Billabong and directed by famed surf movie director Jack McCoy, was released in 1990. On its surface, Pump! essentially sticks to the same model as other surf flicks of the 80’s, with college/alternative rock playing over the surf clips and not much else of anything to drive the film form start to finish. What elevates Pump! to feature movie level however, is the subtext within these otherwise ordinary choices.
First you have the surfers themselves. The film features many members of the Billabong team circa 1990, but two emerge quickly and wordlessly as the films protagonists- Mark Occhilupo and Richie Collins. In 1990, Mark Occhilupo (known more commonly as Occy) was a bit of a mess. Just 5 years earlier he’d been one of the top ranked pro surfers on the planet, but in 1988 he gave in fully to the pressures of super-stardom and fell into a cycle of drug abuse and depression. Up until the late 90’s (when he staged a legendary comeback and finally became the world champion) his life was marked by excesses of all kinds, manifesting publicly in cycles of huge weight gains and losses, along with attempted comebacks and glimmers of glory followed quickly by his immediate disappearance again. Pump! catches him in his periods of top form during this time. While he may appear a bit off his top form physically in one or two scenes, his surfing is incredible. The only dialogue we hear in the entire movie is a voice-over leading into one segment where Occy, in his thick Aussie twang, briefly describes his loss of appetite for competition and newfound focus on free (non-competitive) surfing. Pump! catches Occy in limbo in more ways than one, and what may have been thought of (at least by Billabong) as a chance to present their fading star as still being the invincible hero of recent memory, was instead presented by McCoy as a man with incredible gifts who is in a game of chicken with fate. While his skill seems as untouchable as ever, his future does not.

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A little Sunday comedy — Surströmming

Or what I learned on my summer vacation… There is a “delicacy” in Sweden and parts of Scandavavia called Surströmming. The name literally means “sour herring” but that does’t even hint at the, shall we say, pungent qualities of the fish after it has been fermented for no less than 6 months. In fact, a freshly opened can of surströmming has been found to be the most putrid food smell in the world — and that’s saying something! Here are six foolhardy and funny Americans becoming acquainted with this most acquired of tastes (plenty of profanity & retching so definitely NSFW). And unlike these poor souls, if you ever decide to try surströmming never open the can indoors. Or really anywhere near a civilized population. Enjoy!

2015 F1 Grand Prix of Canada — Results & aftermath

Hamilton regains momentum in Canada with decisive win, Rosberg a non-threatening 2nd; Williams’ Bottas breaks through for P3

Pics courtesy

Pics courtesy

After a gut-wrenching defeat in Monaco, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton righted the ship at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on Sunday with a wire-to-wire victory. Having earned an emphatic pole it seemed nothing was going to stop the reigning World Champion from holding off his charging rival and teammate Nico Rosberg. Come race day, nothing did. Rosberg was never able to mount a real threat and in the end both Silver Arrows sailed to a seemingly comfortable 1-2 finish with the rest of the field well behind. Hamilton’s win reestablished his dominance in the Mercedes team and built his points lead back up to 17 after Rosberg’s lucky 2-race victory streak. It was a much needed return to form that demonstrated not only Hamilton’s peerless skill as a racing driver but also his mental toughness in the face of adversity after the bizarre own-goal in Monaco.


For team Mercedes as whole, Sunday’s GP represented an ominous return to their untouchable speed and metronomic precision as a unit, particularly when compared with Ferrari’s stumbles this past weekend. After starting 3rd with an outside shot at victory, Kimi Raikkonen threw away a probable podium for the Prancing Horse with an unforced spin in the hairpin after his first stop for tires. That enabled his fellow Finn, the excellent Valtteri Bottas, to snatch 3rd and hold off Raikkonen for the position until the end of the race, earning team Williams its first podium of the season. On the other side of the Ferrari garage, Sebastian Vettel started from 18th on the grid with a poor Quali due to mechanical issues and a self-inflicted 5-spot grid penalty for passing under the red flag in rainy practice. But Vettel had a storming drive, slicing his way through the field to finish a remarkable 5th. His outstanding 2015 Montreal effort should be played as Exhibit A whenever someone whinges about how you can’t pass in Formula 1. Exhibit B could be Bottas’ Williams teammate Felipe Massa. Massa also started way back in the pack in 15th after technical problems in Quali. Yet the veteran Brazilian managed to fight his way up to 6th with another gutsy, aggressive effort from a savvy pro. So if the battle for the win seemed like a fait accompli, the fight for points behind the 1-2 slots was a wild ride all race long. Continue reading

What we’re wearing – Sunglasses by Persol & Randolph Engineering

Summer’s here and the sky is bright, so you really need some good shades. That being the case, I thought I’d share my two favourites with you – Persol’s model 649 and the Aviators made by Randolph Engineering. The two sets of glasses are very different but equally cool, and both will protect your eyes from the ravages of sun damage whilst making women want you and men want to be you!

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Persol Model 649

Persol 649‘s probably need no introduction. The frames, made famous by the likes of Marcelllo Mastroianni and Steve McQueen on screen and in real life, epitomized the insouciant cool of the 60’s and early 70’s film culture. Mastroianni’s image was that of the dapper rake, McQueen’s the rough and tumble man’s man. Either way the 649 oozed cool. And they’ve still got it. The 649 is a bit sturdier than Persol’s 714 model, an essentially identical twin but for the fact that the 714’s fold up. McQueen was often photographed wearing 714’s as well, but in my experience the 649’s hold up a lot better to wear and tear as there are less fragile parts involved. Available in a number of sizes and colour combinations to suit every face, you can’t go wrong with a pair of 649’s.

Marcello Mastroianni wearing his iconic 649’s in “Divorce, Italian Style”

Mr. McQueen smiling away behind his 649’s

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McQueen sporting his 714’s, foldable sibling to the 649

There is however, one pair of glasses that would make me switch out my beloved Persol 649’s, and that’s the Aviators from the guys over at Randolph Engineering.

Robert Deniro’s Travis Bickle wearing Randolph Engineering Aviators in “Taxi Driver”

Since the late 70’s Randolph Engineering have been supplying the US Armed Forces with Aviator glasses, and like most mil spec items, they’re tough as hell and look really cool. Easily recognizable as the glasses of choice for military pilots, they look great on us civilians as well. They’re much better built than the more commonly seen Ray Ban Aviators, and they also come with a lifetime warranty on all the solder joints (which are the parts that usually fail on these glasses). Randolph Engineering also offers a variety of sizes and lens colours to get the right fit and sun protection, respectively. In fact, on the company’s website you can essentially create your own custom combination to suit your needs perfectly. Also, because they were designed for pilots, most of their glasses can be ordered with bayonet style temples, that hug the side of your head instead of hooking over your ears. If you’re a motorcycle guy, or an ATV or dirt bike enthusiast this might be the way to go since you can easily whip them on and off without removing your helmet. Randolph Engineering Aviators beat all others in my opinion because they really adhere to the “devil in the details” philosophy from design stage straight through production. If well built is your thing, go with Randolph Engineering. Oh yeah, Don Draper wears them. And Travis Bickle. And Johnny Depp. And Robert Redford. And Brad Pitt, and…oh you get the idea.

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Randolph Engineering Aviators with bayonet style temples


Robert Deniro and Jodie Foster strutting the Mean Streets in “Taxi Driver”


Mr. Depp in a pair of blue lens Aviators by Randolph Engineering

So there you go. Go forth and protect those optic nerves! You can find Persol and Randolph Engineering on Amazon. However, with Randolph Engineering I recommend buying directly from the company. They’re easy to deal with and have good customer service (they even answer the phone!), and doing it this way ensures you’ll get the pair that’s perfect for you.

What We’re Listening To – Three Great Non-Reggae Songs Built Around Reggae Riffs

After my last post about Joya Landis’s version of “Angel of the Morning”, I thought it would be cool to take a look at how three distinctly non-reggae bands incorporated some reggae influence into their music. All of these songs are built around reggae guitar riffs, the key attribute of which is “the skank”, or striking the chords on the off-beat (think hitting the “and” in a “1 and  2 and 3 and  4” progression.) What I love about all three of these songs is that they maintain their autonomy. They’re not reggae rip-offs, but instead do a great job of building that influence into their music. So here we go…

First up is “Eyes of a Stranger”, by The Payolas.

Being of Canadian blood myself, this one is my sentimental favourite. However, it’s also just a great song. Probably best known as the standout song on the “Valley Girl” soundtrack, the boys from the Payolas did a great job on this one. The riff doesn’t kick in until the first chorus, but when it does it sends the song into a completely different and unexpected groove that is pretty brilliant, and certainly sets it apart from all of the other radio hits from that era, making it a pretty timeless groove. You can find the song on their album No Stranger To Danger, produced by the great Mick Ronson, available on iTunes or on Amazon.

Next up is “The Dreaming Moon”, by the Magnetic Fields.

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Indycar Series — Tonight a champion will be crowned

Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves (photo from USA Today/Gannett)

The Izod Indycar Driver’s Championship comes down to the last race of the year once again. Tonight’s MAVTV sponsored 500-miler from the 2 mile D-oval in Fontana, California will determine whether Scott Dixon can hang on for his third Indycar Championship or Helio Castroneves can recover from late season woes to claim his first. Despite the fact that Chip Ganassi’s Dixon has won four races this season to Penske driver Castroneves’ one, a mere 25 points separates them. And the Penske cars’ Chevy engines seem to have the flat out speed this weekend with a 1st-2nd-3rd lockout in Qualifying (Power, Castroneves*, Allmendinger), as well as the comfort level at Fontana having tested there frequently. But the Honda-powered Ganassi cars might have the advantage on gas mileage even with Dixon starting 7th*, so look for a very interesting strategic race to unfold so long as both contenders can avoid crashing out early on this notoriously slippery and windy circuit.

As you might have noticed with that Qualy result, Penske has added a third car to help their Brazilian ace try to win, with hot shoe A.J. Allmendinger joining Aussie Will Power and hoping to recreate his superb Indy 500 run. Power, too, has been excellent in the latter part of the season and he will be hoping to erase memories of last year’s early race wipe out at Fontana, which led to yet another heartbreaking fumble of the championship and gifted it to American Ryan Hunter-Reay.

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