Sun04202014

News

City chips in $7,000 for SFMOMA installation

City chips in $7,000 for SFMOMA installation


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos City Council earmarked $7,000 for the purchase of Chris Johanson’s artwork.

The city of Los Altos will contribute $7,000 toward the purchase of a $28,000 art installation featured in the San Francisco Museum...

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Schools

LASD students celebrate service learning

LASD students celebrate service learning


Courtesy of Sandra McGonagle
We Day, held March 26 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, exhorts students in the Los Altos School District to effect positive change.

More than 150 Los Altos School District student leaders joined 16,000 Bay Area students to ce...

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Community

Film career launches with Cannes screening

Film career launches with Cannes screening


Courtesy of Zachary Ready
Los Altos native Zachary Ready, front left, and co-director Andrew Cathey, right, celebrate their Campus MovieFest awards.

After learning the art of filmmaking as a child in the front yard of his family’s Los Altos home...

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Sports

Sports on the Side

Pathways Run/Walk slated May 10 in Hills

The 13th annual Pathways Run/Walk is scheduled 9 a.m. May 10 at Westwind Community Barn, 27210 Altamont Road, Los Altos Hills. The course wends through Byrne Preserve and onto the Los Altos Hills Pathways sys...

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Comment

Now is the time to expand parking: Editorial

Just a few short years ago, vacancies dotted downtown Los Altos. Property owners had a hard time attracting businesses because there was a shortage of customers. That is no longer true. Now, the cry is: Where are my customers going to park?

The city...

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Special Sections

Epicurean's Mary Clark Bartlett: Serving sustainability

Epicurean's Mary Clark Bartlett: Serving sustainability


Courtesy of Michael McTighe
Mary Clark Bartlett is founder and CEO of Los Altos-based Epicurean Group.

Labels such as “healthy,” “organic” and “green” are rarely used to describe the meals served in most corporate cafes in Silicon Valley. But on...

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Business

Local realtor honored for volunteer efforts

Local realtor honored for volunteer efforts


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Coldwell Banker recently recognized realtor Kim Copher, right, for her philanthropic efforts. Copher and colleague Alan Russell, left, volunteer at Reach Potential Movement, where they collect books for its Bookshelf in ...

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Books

Local Author Spotlight

In an effort to support authors from Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View, many self-published, Book Buzz periodically spotlights their books and offers information on where to purchase them. Local authors are encouraged to submit brief summa...

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People

Noteworthy

RotaCare honors local volunteer

RotaCare Bay Area honored Jim Cochran of the RotaCare Mountain View Free Medical Clinic with the Outstanding Clinic Volunteer Award April 10 for his commitment to RotaCare’s mission of providing free medical care to t...

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Travel

Sausalito: Explore the historical city with world-class views

Sausalito: Explore the historical city with world-class views


Eren Göknar/ Special to the Town Crier
Sausalito offers panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay. A number of companies schedule boat tours that sail past Angel Island and Alcatraz.

On a clear day, Sausalito offers spectacular views of the San Franc...

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Stepping Out

Western Ballet performs this weekend  at Smithwick Theatre in Los Altos Hills

Western Ballet performs this weekend at Smithwick Theatre in Los Altos Hills


Courtesy of Alexi Zubiria
Western Ballet’s “La Fille Mal Gardée” features Alison Share and Maykel Solas. The production runs Friday and Saturday at Foothill College

Western Ballet is slated to perform “La Fille Mal GardéeR...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

A yoga class a day keeps the stress away

A yoga class a day keeps the stress away


Van Houtte/Town Crier Yoga of Los Altos hosts a variety of classes, including Strong Flow Vinyasa, above, taught by Doron Hanoch. Yin Yoga instructor Janya Wongsopa guides a student in the practice, below.

It’s nearly 9 a.m. on a Monday mornin...

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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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