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News

Council seeks more options for community center

Council seeks more options for community center


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos City Council approved an appropriation to examine options for a new community center to replace the aging Hillview facility.

The Los Altos City Council last week voted narrowly in favor of examining further opti...

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Schools

Local schools participate in  national Hour of Code activities

Local schools participate in national Hour of Code activities


Ellie Van HOutte/Town Crier
Himan Shu Raj, a volunteer from Microsoft, advises Los Altos High ninth-graders, from left, Serhat Suzer, Jamie Bennett and Chris Yang as they participate in the school’s Hour of Code Showcase.

Local schools participa...

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Community

Take a dive into the holiday archive

Take a dive into the holiday archive

Town Crier staff made a quick cruise back through the newspaper's archives to find some late-December reading as inspiration for eating, drinking, decorating and more:

Beloved holiday books build the spirit of the season and staff at Los Altos’ Li...

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Sports

Pinewood poised for another title run

Pinewood poised for another title run


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Pinewood’s girls basketball team is receiving contributions from several new players, including freshman Stella Kailahi, above.

Complacency shouldn’t be a problem for the defending Division V state champion Pinewood S...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

Ticket motorists for U-turns on Main Street

As I was walking downtown on Main Street recently, something came to me out of the blue. The town of Los Altos is missing out on a huge revenue stream. I realized that if all the cars – there were th...

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Special Sections

Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead


s in line to be mayor of Mountain View in 2015.

Mountain View anticipates the following changes in 2015:

• Beginning Jan. 1, Mountain View City Councilmembers will receive a raise to $1,000 per month as a result of the passage of Measure A in...

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Business

Your 2015 stock market game plan

It’s been a maddening month because of oil and gas, especially in stocks and bonds. Then, consumer spending pushed stocks higher Thursday, easing investors’ jitters about the global economy and prompting them to consider how to invest in ...

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Books

Gawande's

Gawande's "Being Mortal" proves an important book on aging


Books about death and dying are usually not on my list of “must reads.”

I couldn’t resist, however, the best-selling “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” (Metropolitan Books, 2014) by Atul Gawande.

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People

SANGEETA SACHDEVA

SANGEETA SACHDEVA

Sangeeta Sachdeva, 55, wife of Subhash Sachdeva and mother to Natasha and Tanya, died at 8:54pm, Sunday, December 7, 2014 from respiratory failure.

Sangeeta was born on October 18, 1959 in Delhi, India. She was born to Moti Sagar and Raj Kapoor an...

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Travel

South Tahoe renovations enhance off-mountain seasonal fun

As any enthusiast knows well, there is more to the enjoyment of winter sports than skiing or snowboarding.

While many winter resorts make minor upgrades each season, the off-mountain attractions and amenities can be as enticing as the activities on ...

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Stepping Out

Aurora Singers to emit 'Musical Glow' Friday

Aurora Singers to emit 'Musical Glow' Friday


courtesy of Aurora Singers
The Aurora Singers are scheduled to perform a seasonal concert Friday night in Palo Alto.

The Aurora Singers’ “Winter’s Musical Glow” holiday concert is set for 7 p.m. Friday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pal...

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Spiritual Life

Enter the superhero: Finding the God who loves you

In my life-coaching practice, I see a lot of pain. Much of it stems from fear and guilt, often expressed as low self-esteem, anxiety, a lack of forgiveness both for oneself and others, anger – and so on.

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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AMG models offer top-of-the-line performance


Photo By: Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier

The SLS AMG GT is considered Mercedes-Benz’s supercar from its “tuner” division.

Many automobile manufacturers have a “tuner” division that takes the best models and makes them better – more horsepower, faster acceleration, improved handling and better braking. For example, Toyota has its Toyota Racing Development and GM has its GM Performance Division.

No company produces more of these specially badged models than Mercedes-Benz, with its AMG models. Nearly every model has a counterpart in the AMG lineup, from the smallest A-Class (coming to the U.S. in 2014) to its largest SUV, the G63 AMG, and its supercar, the SLS AMG GT.

We recently drove four of these AMG models.

We started with the SLS AMG GT gullwing coupe with the optional performance package – top speed of 186 mph, 583 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, stickered with options at $225,255 – appropriately, at a track event in Monterey.

On a trip to attend Gary’s 50th high school reunion in Tulsa, Okla., we tested the SL63 two-seat hardtop roadster. Its performance package produces 557 horsepower and an astounding 664 pound-feet of torque from the AMG-built 5.5-liter biturbo V-8 engine. With options, it is priced at $171,225. It was quite the stylish and exhilarating ride.

Our third and fourth test-drives were our standard one-week rotations at home, the first being the beautiful, sleek coupe-styled CLS63 four-door sedan. Again, another powerful and expensive vehicle with 550 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, priced with performance package, premium options and custom interior at $113,715.

We rounded off our test-drives with the huge military-style, ultra-competent off-road G63 SUV – 536 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque, and priced, with custom paint and interior, sound system and exterior trim options at $137,505. We used the GWagen for our everyday errands around town.

Even with this extensive sampling of AMGs, we still missed the small SLK55 sportscar, the compact C63 sedan, the executive-sized E63 sedan and the medium and large SUVs – the ML63 and GL63. That makes nine models in the U.S.

AMG was established in Germany in the 1960s as an independent company specializing in modifying Mercedes-Benz cars for racing and rallying. By 1990, it was cooperating with Mercedes on a formal basis and by 2005 had become a wholly owned subsidiary, based in Affalterbach.

Today, AMG plays two major roles within Mercedes. The group develops drivetrain, suspension and body modifications to upgrade each of the cars within the Mercedes range to high-performance standards and hand-builds the engines that become the heart of the cars that carry the AMG insignia.

Unusual for any automobile company, each exemplary engine is assembled by one technician. We’ve toured the large assembly room in Affalterbach where most of this work takes place, and it is an impressive process.

Technicians use a computer-equipped, self-propelled engine stand on which the engine is assembled, and moves from workstation to workstation. At each task-specific station, the parts and tools are ready to use. A computer tracks the use of each tool, and measures each specified movement to assure that each step is done to specification.

When all tasks are completed the finished engine is plugged into a test stand and examined. When the engine has passed all check-tests, the technician affixes an AMG label engraved with his signature to the top of the engine. While we were there, several new AMG owners were meeting the techs who assembled their engines. We were told that happens frequently, encouraged by the company as a motivator for assuring that high quality and individual responsibility become an integral part of building the engines.

After our experience with the cars, we concluded that they offer more performance than anyone could need in normal driving. Mercedes probably would not argue with that. The only time we’ve observed an AMG model driven near its limits was by professional drivers on a closed course.

But when regular road traffic requires quick acceleration to get out of a tight spot or equally quick braking to avoid a sudden problem, that extra margin of performance is reassuring.

After debating which test car we’d most love to own, we opted for the CLS63. It has four doors and four passenger seats, plus ample luggage space – even without putting down the rear seats. And this car has beautiful styling. The CLS63 is a great all-around car.

As with a fine hand-assembled watch or a beautifully carved piece of furniture, it’s satisfying to contemplate the satisfaction of owning the best version of a high-quality car like an AMG.

Longtime Los Altos residents Gary and Genie Anderson are co-owners of Enthusiast Publications LLC, which edits several car club magazines and contributes articles and columns to automotive magazines and online services.

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