The car geek's guide to NYC
Even if you've never gotten your driver's license, you can pretend you're Mario Andretti at these auto-centric spots.
Mon Aug 16 2010
Classic Car Club of Manhattan
This week, let it ride
Governors Island makes an exception to its no-cars-allowed policy on Sunday 22, when the NYC Volkswagen Traffic Jam—a free car show featuring more than 75 vintage VWs—rolls onto the former military base (Governors Island; volkswagentrafficjam.com; 10am--4pm; free). The cars on view are all air-cooled—an engine-building method that went out of fashion in the 1970s—and run the gamut from a turquoise 1960 Beetle to a black 1957 Beetle with a retractable canvas roof. In addition to the rides, spectators can learn about the brand's history from enthusiast Bob Cropsey or down a pumpkin stout ($5) at the beer garden, where quaffs from Massachusetts's Cape Ann Brewing Company will be served from a '78 Westfalia van.
Looking for cars that move a little faster? On Saturday 21, head to Brooklyn—specifically, a spot underneath the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway—where the Rumblers Car Club will stage its 10th annual Kustom Kills and Hot Rod Thrills Car Show (Union Ave at Meeker Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; rumblersnyc.com; 10am--10pm; free). Members of the 14-year-old car club, as well as enthusiasts from across the Northeast, will show off sweet hot rods and custom cars, all of which were built before 1964; meanwhile, bands like Labrette Suede and the Motel Six as well as Rehab for Quitters will rock out. Dress up in your finest rockabilly gear (red lips and Bettie Page bangs for ladies, pompadours and bowling shirts for gents) and get a move on, daddy-o.
Put the pedal to the metal
Scope out Italian speed machines at the Ferrari North America showroom (410 Park Ave at 55th St; 212-593-2080). The company usually keeps at least one or two pristine new cars parked inside, and the selection of vehicles rotates every few months, which means you can ogle new rides year-round. You can't actually buy any of the vehicles on display—you'll have to head to Connecticut, Long Island or New Jersey (and acquire hundreds of thousands of dollars) for that—but you can take a little piece of Italy home with you by grabbing a Team Ferrari baseball cap ($36).
If you get more excited by vintage rides than speedsters, stop by the the Classic Car Club of Manhattan (250 Hudson St at Broome St; 212-229-2402, classiccarclubmanhattan.com; Mon--Fri 8am--7pm, Sat 9am--1pm, Sun 4--8pm). Membership prices are high—the cheapest plan goes for $8,000 per year—but you can make an appointment to gawk for free at the ritzy club's fleet of 40 vintage and new cars. The roster includes classics like an aquamarine 1955 Porsche Spyder, as well as modern marvels like the 2009 Nissan GT-R, which features impressive acceleration abilities. (It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds.)
But you needn't shell out close to $10,000 to drive a cherry ride. Instead, consider a membership to Zipcar (locations throughout the city; visit zipcar.com for more details; annual fee $50), which offers a selection of stylish steeds—like the luxurious BMW 328i sedan (starting at $15/hour) or a convertible Mini Cooper (starting at $13/hour)—as part of its car-sharing service.
Motor city madness
Throw back a few brewskies at Motor City Bar (127 Ludlow St between Delancey and Rivington Sts; 212-358-1595, motorcitybar.com; daily 4pm--4am; average drink $7), where the drinks are cheap and the rock & roll—provided by DJs after 10pm—is loud. The vibe is inspired by Detroit; you'll find automotive paraphernalia, like hubcaps, license plates and a giant Ford sign, throughout the space. Settle into a booth and drink to your heart's content, because living in New York comes with one major perk for gearheads: You can imbibe all you want without worrying about driving home.
Palisades Interstate Parkway, Engelwood Cliffs, NJ
Those who brave the dense traffic jams of the George Washington Bridge will find a beautiful reward: a comparatively quiet 14-mile stretch of two-lane highway running parallel to the Hudson River along the Palisades of New Jersey.
West Side Highway
North of 56th Street, this road is liberated from oppressive traffic lights and becomes a fast-moving freeway along the mostly wooded edge of Manhattan.
You'll feel more like you're driving through the coastal villages of Long Island than the shores of New York City on this road, which goes under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and past Coney Island before winding through the Rockaways and Canarsie.
These smartphone apps make a human navigator unnecessary.
The car-sharing company's program allows you to make (and extend!) reservations on the go, but the function you'll show off the most is how you can lock and unlock your car through your phone (though not all vehicles come with this feature). zipcar.com. Available for iPhone; free.
Cut down on the cost of parking with this app, which pinpoints your location on a map and indicates parking regulations for every block—like towaway zones and street cleaning regulations—in all five boroughs, along with pricing information for nearby parking garages. primospot.com. Available for iPhone, Android and other phones with Internet access; $2.99.
While you may not be able to afford a Ferrari, you can pretend you have a whole fleet with this program, which replicates the engine sounds of every car in the automaker's lineup. Your phone acts like the accelerator pedal: tilt it down to accelerate, pull back to ease up. Available for iPhone; free.
BMW M Power Meter
When you do finally climb behind the wheel, test your car's performance with this app, which provides instantaneous acceleration and handling data. It's fun to use to monitor the acceleration of the subway, too. The only catch: The phone must be completely level or completely upright. bmw.com. Available for iPhone; free.