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Update July 2017

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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Update July 22, 2017

Here’s the super-duper hyper-idiocy


Aston Martin Valkyrie.

Is this the ultimate hypercar? The Valkyrie. For 4 million dollars, or thereabouts you get a 1000 kilogram car powered by naturally aspirated V12 engine that makes around 1000 horsepower (745kW), aided by battery assistance used at low speed and for torque vectoring when cornering.

Aston Martin’s attention to detail includes a new aluminium nose badge thinner than human hair.

Marek Reichman styled the striking car’s upper bodywork, working closely with motorsport legend Adrian Newey. The British engineering genius shaped Indy 500–winning machines before turning to F1, where his work secured world titles for Williams, McLaren and Red Bull.

“I’m working with arguably the world’s greatest F1 designer, Adrian Newey. It’s a collaboration between the two companies, the two brains,” Reichman says.

“This is a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ for any designer, to be involved in something that will change the face of hypercars. It’s going to be a long time before it is surpassed – it may never be repeated.”

Reichman says the pair split design duties, with Newey focusing on engineering and the Aston man taking charge of style.

“When Adrian and I met, my sketches of what I believed the car was going to be like, versus his, were so very similar, but his had an engineering bias and mine were driven by the esthetics of beauty,” Reichman says.

“The best way to describe it is that the underside is Adrian forcing and controlling the air, everything that you see that’s in carbon I have an input with Adrian, but he is the lead on that.

“It’s the opposite on the upper side, it’s my lead with Adrian’s input. The underside is about forcing the air, the upper side is about letting the air naturally do what it needs to do, creating forms and shapes that don’t interfere with airflow, that don’t create areas of turbulence.

“It’s about creating a pebble, it’s about creating something with beautiful highlights that feel as though they’ve been formed by the air flowing around the surfaces. It’s about keeping it clean, pure and simple.”

On paper, the Valkyrie is quicker than an F1 car around a circuit, but since it will need an F1 driver salary and F1 driver skill to drive it. What is the point? Especially as they are talking about making 150 of them. Crazy, crazy, crazy!

Anyone for a lidar?


Camera cleaner.

Continental in Europe has developed cleaning systems for on-board sensors such as video cameras, radars and lidars to keep the autonomous vehicles of the future running reliably and safely. (Lidar, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure variable distances.)

According to Continental, dirty sensors on automated cars have the potential to trigger limp-home mode or even bring the vehicle to a halt. Cleanliness really is next to godliness it seems.

“If the sensor says ‘I cannot work’, the car stops,” said Continental engineer Rolf-Dieter Schlein. “That’s impossible, totally.”

Speaking at the recent Continental TechShow, Schlein said car-makers were already getting feedback that the rear cameras on cars could become inoperative because they were “totally blind”.

He said dirt accumulation and frost after an icy night were the main culprits.

Continental has been designing cleaning systems for windscreens, taillights and headlamps for 30 years, and Schlein said the company brought this experience to bear on the new problem of sensor cleaning.

“Now we have the complete system,” he said. “We have the reservoir, we have the pumps, we have the hoses, all heated if necessary for wintertime, and we can heat not only the hoses and the fluids, we can also heat the lenses.”

“The camera can recognize if she’s blind. There is an algorithm behind the camera, and the camera normally expects changing images,” he said.

“If there is an amount of pixels which didn’t change any more, even if you are driving, then she says ‘there must be something wrong, I must be cleaned’.”

That triggers a pump and some electro-hydraulic valves to clean the affected sensor.

“If we are talking about electric and automated driving, we expect about 20 sensors per car,” he said. “That’s a lot.”

“So we are using, in the first step, a dosing valve. That means it doesn’t matter how long the pump runs, it gives only a short shot of water, so we can control the amount of water per cleaning cycle. That will help keep the water consumption on a very low level.”

“The second step is we are trying a combination of water and air. That means first water, and then an air shot to clean the last droplets.

“This is important for active sensors like lidar and radar. They have the problem they are an active sensor. That means they sense some waves, radar waves or (laser) light waves, and the rates for the feedback from the outside determine how the sensor reacts.”

Tesla 3 at a store near you!

Tesla 3.

The car that has been subject to speculation for months is now a reality, going into production in California.

CEO Elon Musk said, “Production grows exponentially, so August should be 100 cars and September above 1500. Looks like we can reach 20,000 Model 3 cars per month in December.”

At last report, Tesla was holding 373,000 USD 1000 deposits from global customers for the Model 3 which will sell in the United States for USD 35,000.

The first customer deliveries will naturally be made in Tesla’s home base of California before being extended to the USA before filling the export orders.

According to Musk, orders placed now in the US will be filled in mid-2018 at the earliest.

Musk also confirmed that the Model 3 had achieved regulatory approval from US authorities two weeks ahead of schedule.

Tesla has got over delays caused by battery supply problems, but the new Tesla battery plant in Nevada, dubbed Gigafactory, began mass production of lithium-ion cells early this year, easing the issues.

The five-seat Model 3 has a claimed a driving range of 345 km – short of the Model S large sedan’s 490 km and, but still more than enough distance between charging.

As opposed to the Model S P100 D with its ‘ludicrous’ mode returning zero to 100 km/h in 2.7 seconds, the Model 3 claims under six seconds, which is still more than adequate.

Prices are way above the average for automobiles in the USA, so it will cost even more to become an Auto-Greenie in this country. I will hazard a guess at around 20 million baht.

What did we learn from Silverstone?

Well, we learned that F1 can produce excitement and some unexpected results. Firstly, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) did win convincingly and finished the race without one of his curly hairs ruffled. His head was big enough before … but it was a flawless drive, and with what went on behind him he is now only one point shy of Vettel (Ferrari).

Hamilton made a good start and the two Ferrari’s followed (Raikkonen and Vettel) to be then set upon by Verstappen (Red Bully?) with his aggressive first lap tactics. Raikkonen escaped but Vettel found himself at the receiving end of youthful aggression, eventually ceding the place, but getting back in front after the pit stops with Ferrari being slicker than Red Bull.

Meanwhile, Bottas (Mercedes) was coming through from his penalty grid position number 9 and getting involved in the race long (actually season long) battle between the FIndia drivers Ocon and Perez.

However, there was an even more spirited charge through the field by Ricciardo (Red Bull) from position 20, ending up fifth and getting the Driver of the Day award.

Around three laps from the end, Hamilton was never going to be caught and Raikkonen was also secure in second, then suddenly the left front tyre delaminated and the Iceman was limping into the pit. This brought Vettel into second, which was what Ferrari wanted.

However, more drama ensued as Vettel then had his front left tyre delaminating and his resultant pit stop dropped him down to seventh, returning second place to Raikkonen. But while all this drama was going on, Bottas had kept his foot down and won second place, while Raikkonen then found himself in third, positions they would stay in for the final lap.

What about Alonso? Just for a change the Honda-McLaren engine failed again by half distance.

One driver who needed a good result as his race seat is disappearing was Jolyon Palmer (Renault) whose car ran out of hydraulics on the way to the grid. You can start unpicking the Renault badges, Jo.

Another driver blotting his copy book was Daniil (the Torpedo) Kvyat (Toro Rosso) who managed to take out Sainz, his team mate on the first lap. Daniil can unpick his Toro Rosso badges as well.

F1 race cars are supposedly the epitome of automotive engineering, but there are some glaring anomalies. For example, to ensure all cars have the same ride height, the F1 method is to nail a plank of wood to the underside of the race cars, and then measure how much wore off. An opening for a carpenter?

Grid penalties galore again. Change any faulty part and get at least a five place demotion. Change a few defective bits and you could end up like Alonso (McLaren) getting 30 grid spot penalty, on a grid which holds 20 cars. Can someone tell me why the driver gets penalized when the manufacturer of the car incorporates a faulty design? This rule is nonsensical.

The next Grand Prix is the Hungarian on July 30 with the telecast being 7 p.m. Thai time where we watch on the Jameson’s big screen.

1 Hamilton Mercedes
2 Bottas Mercedes
3 Raikkonen Ferrari
4 Verstappen Red Bull
5 Ricciardo Red Bull
6 Hulkenberg Renault
7 Vettel Ferrari
8 Ocon Force India
9 Perez Force India
10 Massa Williams
11 Vandoorne McLaren
12 Magnussen Haas
13 Grosjean Haas
14 Ericsson Sauber
15 Kvyat Toro Rosso
16 Stroll Williams
17 Wehrlein Sauber


Alonso McLaren 32 Engine

Sainz Toro Rosso 0 Accident

Palmer Renault Did Not Start

Classic cars in Bangkok

There is a collection of classics on display at River City in Bangkok from July 19 to July 30. The exhibition was presided over at the opening by Dr. Prachin Eamlumnow the President and CEO of Grand Prix International, who is also the guiding hand for the Bangkok International Motor Show each March.

There are many classics in Bangkok, so this should be of great interest to all enthusiasts.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked who dropped an American V8 in a European sports car and gave it to Ursula Andress? It was a European AC and it was Elvis Presley who presented it to Unrsula Undress.

So to this week. What car is this? Very few were made. A road-going track car. Three Weber DCO3 carbs. Disc brakes same size front and rear. Other cars similar Ferrari 250 GTO, British to the core.

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!

Update July 15, 2017

British GP this weekend


The British Grand Prix will be held this weekend at the ancestral home of F1, with the first ever F1 GP held there in 1950 (and won by Dr Farina in the Alfa Romeo, for the collectors of F1 history).

This is a circuit that the drivers universally like, a circuit that allows cars to pass each other (even without the DRS and other buttons or coded messages from the pit wall), and a Grand Prix where it is likely to rain at some point. After all, it is in England, and they cannot possible go three days on the trot without a good drenching from above!

The “arena” part of the circuit was used for the first time a couple of years back and goes from Abbey to Brooklands corners, moving infield and adds an extra 760 m to the track length. You will be heartened to read that Herr Tilke was not involved. Interestingly, this modification was actually built for the MotoGP series, but now incorporated in the F1 series after Bernie, the patron saint of King Midas the Dwarf Enterprises, gave it his blessing. Yes, that is the same Bernie who has masterminded such yawnfest circuits as Bahrain and Singapore. But don’t start me.

So who should we look out for? Mercedes is still right up there, and Bottas and Hamilton are still best bet as long as Valtteri stops running into his countryman (Raikkonen). Hamilton will be trying for the win but if form is anything to go by, the two Mercedes drivers will be fighting it out with Red Bull and Ferrari as well as between themselves.

Will the resurgent form of the Williams team of Stroll and Massa still be good on this track as well as the Red Bull Ring? I believe they will.

And the Red Bull Team will be praying that Renault can find more power. I have a sneaking suspicion their prayers will not be answered!

All the tail end Charlies will be tripping over each other as usual. McLaren, fortunately won’t have that sort of a problem as the car is not quick enough to catch the wobblers up front.

The race is 7 p.m. on Sunday 9 July. We watch the racing on the big screen in Jameson’s Irish Pub, Soi AR, next to Nova Park. We get there around 6 p.m. and have something to eat (the Sunday roasts are great value) and a noggin or two before the start. Why don’t you come and join us?

BEV’s again

Venue sponsored Escort racer.

After the Grand Prix there is a music concert at The Venue (Mabprachan) with Thailand’s top guitarists Pop and Lam on stage. Amazing musicians both of them. And why is this notification on the motoring page? Because The Venue is one of the sponsors of my Retro Racer Mk1 Ford Escort.

Penalty for Vettel

The airwaves were alight during the week as to the penalty that F1 enthusiasts thought that Vettel should have received following his “track rage” outburst. The anticipated news was what was going to be the FIA penalty meted out to Vettel (Ferrari). However, no exclusions, no grid penalty, just 40 slaps on the wrist with a wet bus ticket.

According to the FIA, the data showed that Hamilton did not apply the brakes to test Vettel; however, many avid watchers of the TV saw Hamilton slow as they came around the corner. Perhaps no brakes, just a little less go pedal?

Whatever, it is now done and dusted say the two drivers. About as dusted as Senna and Prost after Japan.

What did we learn from the Austrian GP?

The Austrian Grand Prix was a bit like the curate’s egg – parts of it were excellent. And by the same token – parts of it were deadly dull and boring.

It began with a five grid spot penalty for Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) for changing his gearbox after qualifying. This demoted him from 3rd to 8th. Quite frankly these grid position penalties are nonsense. The previous meeting Alonso was hit with a 40 place grid demotion, on a grid that has 20 positions. Brilliant thinking FIA.

And so 20 cars lined up for the start and when the lights went out pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) pulled the start of his life (his words, not mine) to lead the field away. Bottas’ start was so good it was thought initially he might have jumped the start, but he had not. It was just a “hole shot” where anticipation coincided with reality.

The leaders got away successfully, but the same could not be said for further down the back, where the usual mayhem resulted in DNF’s for the current golden boy Max Verstappen (Red Bull) and Fernando Alonso (McLaren). Following a very poor start by Verstappen (called a clutch problem by Red Bull), Daniil Kvyat managed to hit Alonso and Verstappen, eliminating both of them. Kvyat claimed partial blindness, saying, “I then couldn’t see too much of what was happening in front of me; I think Verstappen had a problem too, so Alonso reacted to that – he saw it, I didn’t.”

Out front, Bottas continued to lead from Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) pulling away at one tenth of a second each lap, leaving Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) unchallenged in third.

The usual round of tyre changes and compounds then ensued with no dramatic changes in the running order. However, with around 15 laps to go it became apparent that Vettel was catching Bottas and Hamilton was catching Ricciardo.

The intervals began to slowly come down as the tyres began to show blistering. It was too close to the end of the race to be able to come in for a tyre change, so the drivers could only try not to stress the tyres too much.

By 10 laps to go, the intervals were down to around 5 seconds and being whittled away until both Vettel and Hamilton were within DRS distances from Bottas and Ricciardo.

The last laps were cliffhangers with Bottas hanging on to win by 0.658 from Vettel and Ricciardo just over one second in front of Hamilton, who had been as close as 0.2 of a second, but gave up with Ricciardo defending very strongly.

Returning to the curate’s egg, the last 10 laps were excellent. The previous 61 were processional.


1 V Bottas Mercedes 1:21, 48.523

2 S Vettel Ferrari 1:21.49.181 - 0.658

3 D Ricciardo Red Bull 1:21.54.535 - 6.012

4 L Hamilton Mercedes 1:21.55.953 - 7.430

5 K Raikkonen Ferrari 1:22.08.893 - 20.370

6 R Grosjean Haas 1:23.01.683 - 73.160

7 S Perez Force India - 70 laps

8 E Ocon Force India - 70 laps

9 F Massa Williams - 70 laps

10 L Stroll Williams - 70 laps

11 J Palmer Renault - 70 laps

12 S Vandoorne McLaren - 70 laps

13 N Hulkenberg Renault - 70 laps

14 P Wehrlein Sauber - 70 laps

15 M Ericsson Sauber - 69 laps

16 D Kvyat Toro Rosso - 68 laps

R C Sainz Toro Rosso Engine - 44 laps

R K Magnussen Haas Powersteering - 29 laps

R F Alonso McLaren Damage - 1 laps

R M Verstappen Red Bull Damage -


Michelin, the tyre company that bought the automaker

There have been many car companies that have gone broke trying to introduce new technologies to the marketplace. Cord was a notable example, BMW with the 507 was saved by the Isetta and recently Porsche was saved from bankruptcy by VW. MG saved by China and Volvo likewise. And there is more when you look at the Great Depression of the early 30’s.

Another car company that has bounced from bankruptcy to bankruptcy is Citroen, introducing the Traction Avant model in 1934. A front wheel drive with independent front suspension and an arc-welded monocoque body.

Monocoque construction is almost universal these days, but in 1934 it was looked at with suspicion and it was considered that this type of construction lacked strength. To get over this, Citroen pushed a Traction Avant over a cliff to show that the body remained in one piece.

As the costs to produce the Traction Avant escalated, Citroen had to be bailed out by Michelin in the 1930’s, and the design of the Traction Avant continued until 1957. It could be ordered in two and four door variants.

Several engines could be used from 1.3 liters to 1.5, 1.6, 1.9 to a 2.8 straight six with the bigger engines able to propel the Traction Avant to around 115 km/h.

Financial problems have beset Citroen and they were selling vehicles in China since 1984 largely via the Dongfeng Peugeot-CitroŽn joint venture, which today represents a major market for the brand. In 2014, when PSA Peugeot CitroŽn ran into severe financial difficulties (again), the Dongfeng Motor Corporation took an ownership stake.

Autotrivia Quiz

Prince Gloria Skyline GT.

Last week I asked what Japanese automaker is this? Built planes, electric cars and finally petrol engined performance cars. Still going today but has had a name change and very much prized. It was the Prince Gloria Skyline, now called a Nissan GT-R which returns 0-100 in under 3 seconds. That’s real performance!

So to this week. Who dropped an American V8 in a European sports car and gave it to Ursula Andress?

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!

Update July 8, 2017

A new development of the wheel


New wheel/rotor.

Europe’s Continental brand has come up actually re-inventing the humble wheel. The radical new wheel was unveiled by Continental before its official launch at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

The new wheel incorporates an aluminium brake rotor and the calliper into the overall construction, designed to solve or improve issues associated with the braking systems of EVs in particular.

By not using the more usual cast iron brake rotor, the new aluminium rotor is lighter and does not corrode. EVs usually have pitting and rust problems with their discs because the energy regeneration systems do most of the braking, meaning that the discs are not worked as hard.

The new wheel consists of the wheel rim, the wheel ‘spider’, a brake disc and calliper. In some ways this harks back to the wheel/drum combination of the Type 35 Bugatti’s.

The first examples use very large rotors inside the wheel rim with the brake calliper fitted inside the rotor, rather than on the outer edge, allowing the rotor to have a huge diameter compared to conventional systems.

“As this disc is corrosion free and we don’t have any relevant wear on the disc, this can stay the lifetime on the vehicle,” said Continental engineer Dirk Eser.

Simple physics would show that the larger rotor is more efficient and less pressure can be applied to the disc to achieve the same retardation as a standard (smaller) disc.

“There is still friction, but as we have reinforced aluminium, there is really no relevant wear, no wear that would force you to change the disc during the lifetime of the vehicle,” he said.

A disc that lasts the life of the car will be cheaper in the long run as cast iron rotors have to be replaced – sometimes as frequently as every two years – because they have been designed to be sacrificial.

“Definitely one of the targets is always to be lower in cost,” Eser said. “This is always the case. Where we will end up we will see.

“This is not just about a wheel. You’re creating an integrated system that also is included in the overall lifetime cost of the vehicle.”

Eser said he was confident the wheel would be chosen by a car manufacturer in the near future for mass-market manufacturing.

“With this part, it is quite promising,” he said. “We are starting to promote it and you will see in three or four years that this is going to launch into production.”

According to Eser, developments are continuing with the number of parts required reduced while still allowing for the different rates of expansion between aluminium and steel/cast iron.

Continental just looks as if they might have re-invented the wheel.

F1 has become Farce 1


Honda engined F1 car doing a fast lap.

Two years ago I wrote we learned that Formula 1 is getting to the stage of being Farce 1. How can teams continue with rules that can give one team 45 grid positions of penalties? Yes, 25 positions for Jenson Button (McLaren-Honda) and 20 for his team mate Alonso. Why? Because their unreliable and underpowered engines are giving good imitations of hand grenades, but the team cannot change the engines without accruing grid position penalties. This is nonsense. And change a gearbox that’s another 5 grid position penalties. Who dreams this up? It is bad enough that a powerplant doesn’t last - without more penalties on top.

McLaren aren’t the only ones getting grid slot penalties as both Red Bull cars also were penalized for changing gearboxes and/or the underpowered Renault engines in their cars.

Here’s the “revised” grid penalties. Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull) got a 10 place grid penalty for taking his fifth Renault engine of the year and started P14. That’s five engines since March!

His team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who was handed the same penalty but was not able to take the full 10-place drop, started P18 and had to take an additional five second time penalty. Great engines, these Renaults.

As for the McLarens, Fernando Alonso started the race 19th on the grid with Jenson Button P20. This was following numerous engine changes of the underpowered Hondas. (I think they mixed up and sent McLaren a box of 125 cc motorcycle engines.) Alonso, though, was supposed to also serve a drive-through penalty in the first three laps of the grand prix while Button had to take a 10 second stop-go penalty.

All this was rather academic as Alonso didn’t make it as far as turn three ending on top of Raikkonen (Ferrari) and Button stopped on lap 10 with no power.

Back to being serious, the powers that be in F1 are supposedly very worried about the falling popularity of the category, but you certainly don’t fix the situation with nonsensical rules. And I notice that some categories in Thailand are also adopting this no engine change rule. Damn nonsense. The emperor’s new clothes comes to mind.

So to the race. He who wins the start wins the race it would seem. Rosberg (Mercedes) got the drop on his team mate Hamilton and never was headed after that. When Hamilton then received a five second penalty for crossing the white line on the exit from the pits, Rosberg could relax.

A very popular third was Felipe Massa, the resident dwarf at Williams. Held on to the finish despite being harassed by the driver formerly known as The Finger from Ferrari. His team mate Raikkonen looks to have given Ferrari the fuel to set fire to his contract after losing the car (and the plot, it might seem) on the first lap, taking out Alonso in the McLaren.

Bottas took fifth for Williams after a busy race but stayed in front of Hulkenberg (FIndia) and the lapped rest of the final 14 runners, who did produce some passing action, even though so far behind.

The next race is the British GP at Silverstone and McLaren are saying that they are making great strides forward. Bollox. McLaren should withdraw both cars from the race NOW, before they embarrass themselves further.

That is what we were writing 18 months ago, and nothing has changed. Unreliable engines are still unreliable engines. Penalties dreamed up by the FIA have done nothing to make the sport a better spectacle. Just leave them alone.

Austrian Grand Prix this weekend

Red Bull.

The Austrian Grand Prix returns to Austria and the Red Bull Ring. The circuit has had a revamp from Red Bull and Red Bull Racing will naturally be hoping they can get a win on home soil after gaining top step in Azerbaijan.

The “Ring” has seen many configurations of the track, mainly to slow the cars down, as speeds of up to 256 km/h for a lap average have been recorded previously. That’s “average” not outright top speed which is well over 300 km/h.

The current history is interesting. Grandstands and pit buildings were demolished in 2004, rendering the track unusable for any motorsport category. Then in late 2004 and early 2005, there were intense discussions concerning whether the owner of the circuit, Red Bull, would find another use for the site, or return motor sports to the venue. There was a circuit extension proposal using part of the old ÷sterreichring; however, Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz publicly announced that he had no intention of wasting money on a race circuit.

Despite what he had avowed before, late in 2008, Red Bull began their €70m reconstruction of the track.

With the reconstruction, the Red Bull Ring has hosted the DTM Series, F2 and also the FIA Historic Formula One Championship.

In July 2013, Red Bull announced that the Austrian Grand Prix would return as a round of the Formula One World Championship in 2014. This was confirmed on 4 December 2013 when the 2014 Formula One schedule was released and included the Austrian Grand Prix which was held on 22 June 2014.

The telecast of this year’s race begins at 7 p.m. Thai time and we will be watching in front of the big screen at Jameson’s Irish Pub (Soi AR) and we get there around 6 p.m. for something to eat and a convivial drink or two before the race starts. Come in a koala suit and barrack for another win for Ricciardo and I’ll get Kim Fletcher to buy you a beer or a eucalyptus leaf or something.

Natter Nosh and Noggin

 The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park on the second Monday of that month. The next meeting is on Monday July 10 at Jameson’s at 7 p.m. A totally informal meeting of like-minded souls to discuss their pet motoring (and motorcycling) loves and hates (plus lies and outright exaggerations). Many did go to the Classic Car Show, some exhibiting and others just enjoying the atmosphere. Come along and meet the guys who have a common interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s food, washed down with a few beers or what’s your fancy. Always a fun night. Be prepared to laugh a lot at some of the antics of the members (when they were younger)! Remember that the Car Club nights are on the second Monday of the month only (not every second Monday)!

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what car would Jay Leno, Paul Newman, Weird Al Jankovic and Elvis Presley share? Most interesting 4-some indeed! It was the Nash Metropolitan. Really!

So to this week. What Japanese automaker is this? Built planes, electric cars and finally petrol engined cars. Still going today but has had a name change and very much prized.

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!

Update July 1, 2017

What did we learn from Baku?

Well, we learned that Baku is not the circuit for F1, and we also learned that Vettel is human and Hamilton sanctimonious.

This was the second Grand Prix to be held at the Baku circuit in Azerbaijan, not a venue known for being steeped in motor sport. Mongol hordes perhaps, but car racing, not really.

The whole concept of racing around anybody’s houses is not practical with today’s 350 km/h F1 cars. The circuit narrows to around 7 meters in places and then widens to accommodate four cars wide, just asking for collisions as they arrive at the corner.

However, the biggest problem with Baku is nobody thought about how to retrieve stopped vehicles or debris. There is no room outside the fences for cranes, tractors etc., so all that eventuates is a series of Safety Car periods, which the Azerbaijan GP gave us three of them, and a red flag stoppage for good measure as well.

On paper it looked like a Lewis Hamilton benefit, head and shoulders above the rest of the field in performance, but all sorts of things can change that – and did.

On the first lap the Toro Rosso pair managed to run into each other, Bottas (Mercedes) ran into his countryman Raikkonen (Ferrari) again and a couple of laps further on, the Force India pair of Perez and Ocon managed to run into each other as well.

The pits were a waiting room for nose surgery with the Force Indias doubled up on the forecourt.

It was then that Kvyat (Toro Rosso) really showed up the deficiencies of the circuit when he stopped on the straight and there was no way to remove the car! The only way was to yellow flag the event, get the tractor on the track and go from there.

Then we had carbon fiber shards everywhere, so more yellows with Azerbaijan’s answers to Usain Bolt running down the track picking up sharp bits.

But the farce didn’t end there, it only really started then. The safety car pulled off with the train comprising of Hamilton followed by Vettel and the rest. Hamilton then pulled a very old trick by brake testing Vettel and the Ferrari made contact. Vettel threw his hands in the air and then drove out alongside and banged wheels with Hamilton, he was so angry. The stewards were not impressed with the impetuosity and leveled a 10 second stop-go penalty on Vettel, who said, “I don’t know why I got the penalty and Lewis didn’t. It’s disappointing, because it could have been a better result. I don’t have a problem with Lewis but I just think that what he did on the track was not ok.”

But the drama was not over yet. Hamilton’s head rest had become loose and he had to pit to change it. The protagonists rejoined mid-field. To finish 4th and 5th.

Hamilton, in his best Dale Carnegie style then came on with, “We all feel that pain, but it’s on me to gather my thoughts and try and lead the team through this adversity. We’ll pull together and move forwards. I’m proud of my performance and I hope we can take the speed we’ve shown this weekend forward. I definitely didn’t brake-test Sebastian. I felt a bump from behind, but that wasn’t the issue for me – everybody saw clearly what happened after. All the young kids in other series look up to us, as champions, to set an example and that is not the behavior you expect to see from a multiple champion. But we know that when times get tough, true colors show. Personally, I want to do my talking on the track and win this championship in the right way.” Truly nauseating, Mr. Hamilton.

As well as all that, Ricciardo (Red Bull) snuck by to win, Bottas (Mercedes) recovered to be second and Lance Stroll (Williams) claimed his first podium.

Banku provided action, but most of it the wrong kind!

Are you ready for a faux classic?

A faux classic.

Word from the UK, where Mike Day informed me that moves are afoot to produce “new” classics, using the 1950’s Bentley /RR chassis. These new classics will be on offer for around 350,000 STG, and it is planned to build 24 of them. As Mike Day points out, “Sadly this requires 24 original saloons to lose their 60 year old coachwork, some of which may be the elegant Silver Dawn version, of which most went to the USA.

Mike fears a cull of aging dignified post war creations in order to fulfill this need (greed?) for this new Faux Flyer, which demands original underpinnings.

This particular car was built in Australia on a Bentley/RR chassis, but for me it is evocative of the Bugatti Atalante with the rib running over the roof and down to the tail.

But if they are going to cull aging dignified post war creations, perhaps I should be careful where I tread.

Somebody tells the truth


When I am sent details on a new car, invariably there are figures for acceleration, top speed and CO2 emissions. Not being a greenie or tree hugger myself, I am not interested, but I was interested in the fact that Carlos Ghosn was backing me up.

He has said recently, “People in general, 95 percent of the people are not interested so much into the technology behind a car, don’t care so much if it’s a diesel or gasoline engine, a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid electric car, they don’t care so much about it. A consumer thinks about the car, about functionality, design, status, brand, price, cost of ownership, resale value. That’s it. They think about that and then, as long as the electric car doesn’t fit this equation, it’s not going to become mass-marketed.

“I’m looking at the total cost of ownership of the car… which means that people say, ‘Yes, sure, we want it, but it has to be competitive, it has to fit our criteria’.”

Carlos Ghosn.

Ghosn said Australia needs enticements from government, similar to what the newly-formed Electric Vehicle Council is proposing, for EV sales to really take off. (In fact, all EV manufacturers need enticements for the car buying public.)

He continued, saying, “So here, in order to be mass-marketed we need support from governments,” he said. “We need a collaboration between the public sector and the private sector in order to bring environmentally friendly products because there is another attribute also to the consumer.

“So it’s not going to be a consumer-driven revolution. It has to be a technology and government-driven revolution.”

EV and hybrid sales in Australia make up less than one percent of the overall market, which heavily favors petrol power and diesel engines.

“Look at diesel,” he said. “In the United States, zero percent of the cars are diesel. In Japan, zero percent of the cars are diesel. In Europe, 50 percent of the cars are diesels, but the car manufacturers are the same.

“Why? Because the European governments have supported diesel for many years and that put a lot of incentive, but the consumer follows.

“Not that the consumer likes diesel or doesn’t like diesel, he’s just looking, again, at price, total cost of ownership, resale value, acceptability, etc., and he makes a decision. We need to do the same thing for electric cars.

“It’s happening in China, it’s happening in Japan, it’s happening in many countries and I think this is going to help us and bring much more cost effective electric cars because the scale is going to increase and with the scale changes a lot of things.”

Ghosn predicts that the changeover to EVs is inevitable, spurred by stricter emissions and CO2 standards established by the onset of climate change.

“I don’t think the revolution is going to be done rapidly,” he said. “I think it’s going to take a lot of time, but the main driver of the electric cars is going to be the emission.

“Many countries sign the planet change pact. The planet change pact means that a lot of countries are going to have to drastically reduce their emission.

“So no matter what the federal government is going to do, we are all going to continue to develop the technology and the product in order to fit the most demanding market.”

Ghosn said new EV technology is being developed to lower the cost of entry, as well as eliminate range anxiety, likening its progress to the evolution of the mobile phone. First released as a bulky, heavy device, the mobile phone quickly evolved and shed many of its shortcomings, “same thing is going to happen with electric cars,” Ghosn said.

A few weeks ago, the Automotive Focus Group examined the Vera EV, designed by a Thai university consortium. At the time it appeared that there was very little incentive to build the Vera EV here in Thailand.

Autotrivia Quiz

Sunbeam Tiger.

Last week I asked what sports car lost its engine because the name was sold to another company. An easy one, It was the Sunbeam Alpine with the Ford V8 engine. A sort of copycat idea inspired by the Ford Cobra. Unfortunately, Sunbeam was bought out by the Chrysler Group who said they couldn’t sell cars with the engine coming from Ford, one of their competitors. Interestingly, the name Sunbeam Tiger was first used in a V12 Sunbeam in the 1920’s which topped 240 km/h to get the world Land Speed record.

So to this week. What car would Jay Leno, Paul Newman, Weird Al Jankovic and Elvis Presley share?

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected]. Good luck!

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Here’s the super-duper hyper-idiocy

Anyone for a lidar?

Tesla 3 at a store near you!

What did we learn from Silverstone?

Classic cars in Bangkok

Autotrivia Quiz

British GP this weekend

For the rock ‘n rollers

Penalty for Vettel

What did we learn from the Austrian GP?

Michelin, the tyre company that bought the automaker

Autotrivia Quiz

A new development of the wheel

F1 has become Farce 1

Austrian Grand Prix this weekend

Natter Nosh and Noggin

Autotrivia Quiz

What did we learn from Baku?

Are you ready for a faux classic?

Somebody tells the truth

Autotrivia Quiz



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