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Faszination Modern Classic Cars

Other // Unrated // December 8, 2009
List Price: $16.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted December 29, 2009 | E-mail the Author
Faszination Modern Classic Cars:
Germany has a unique relationship to the auto: the country makes damn fine cars. The United States might have turned love of the car into a planet-destroying obsession, but if you ask any serious car fan what they'd like in their driveway, (and I'm not talking about you Mopar gear-heads, either) they'll probably request a BMW or Mercedes (never mind current ownership of any of those lines). Not coincidentally, then comes this DVD arrival which looks to be from German TV, Faszination Modern Classic Cars.

We're treated to loving portraits of many fondly remembered and cultishly collected cars from the '60s through the '80s, as well as a profile of a volunteer group restoring an 02 BMW for racing. Politely narrated, with multiple interview subjects, loads of on-the-road footage, and more metric measurements than you can shake a stick shift at, this 60-minute program should fit the bill nicely for bereft car fans looking for a diversion on a Saturday afternoon. Poor production values and a lack of the typically aggro effusion popular in American car shows subtract from overall enjoyment, but real love for these cars, as well as the fairly unique BMW restoration segment make this mostly worthwhile.

As the 02's journey from dusty carcass to track-ready triumph weaves throughout the program, other cars get their profiles in the sun, and they're not all German cars, either. But of course the German auto equivalent of Godzilla versus King Kong must come first, this time pitting modern classics the Mercedes SLC AMG against the Alpina BMW 3.0CSi. After that battle royale, much respect is thrown towards the almighty Datsun 240Z. Serious examination, from conception through to the handful of lucky Germans driving 240Zs today in Deutschland, will delight anyone infatuated with this brilliant blend of sports car and affordable Japanese efficiency.

Also on tap is a PM Magazine-worthy look at Modern Classic Convertibles, from Maserati to Saab. It's more of a picture postcard tribute to '80s auto style, set against a lovely Mediterranean backdrop, than anything serious. Other zippy vehicles examined, once considered a bit weird or square, are the VW Golf 1 GTI and the Lancia Delta Integrale, both similarly boxy and originally met with ambivalence. Today all-but-forgotten, these cars (at least in Europe) now inspire small cadres of devotees to form clubs, while extolling the cars virtues and lovable drawbacks.

Meanwhile, we keep checking in on the BMW crew, stocked with real pro volunteers and one - gasp - woman, who merely wants to learn how to take care of her own car, and to change her tires. You'll see quite a bit of the restoration and certification process, including eerie/ exciting trips to one of the volunteer's barn-full of old parts, gathering dust and cataloged by memory alone. Among all the atavistic admiration of horseless carriages gone-by, and tacit musing on the seemingly genetic need for speed, this peek at moldering pig-iron saved in the dark, memorized but not recorded, speaks deeply about the human condition. No, I don't know what it means either.

The DVD

Video:
Presented in 1.78:1 widescreen for 16 x 9 TVs, these Classic cars don't look so classic. The image isn't great, to begin with. While colors are natural, the picture is very grainy, and not in a film-stock way. This is ugly, digital grain, rather pronounced, either when on the road, or in a barn. Motion blur, nasty mosquito noise, and hard-to-look at speckling detract from the good times. Detail levels are acceptable for the foreground, but degrade with speed in the distance, and aliasing is a serious concern.

Sound:
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Surround sound are available in German and English, and both are up to snuff. Narration is clear and up front, but not too loud, with no degradation of the signal, and no competition from mostly muted zippy racetrack music. Using the 5.1 track and my faux surround sound setting for my set's speakers, audio becomes more robust and enveloping, showing increased dynamic range and placement.

Extras:
Extras are fairly limited. The BMW 02 Series seems almost like an outtake that was removed for little reason, as the 7-minute featurette is virtually identical in tone and content to the profiles in the main program. More unique is the 6-minute Safe Driving Training which briefly follows a small group of average drivers testing their emergency avoidance skills in slightly less-dear Modern Classic cars. German and English audio tracks are available.

Final Thoughts:
Poor picture quality and strangely breezy, polite euro-narration are a bit disappointing, considering the otherwise welcome attention given to these modern classics and the intrepid BMW-restoration crew. Otherwise, this very Continental look at cars your grease-monkey high school buddy used to obsess about merits at least an enthusiastic Rent It for the right crowd.

www.kurtdahlke.com

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