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Update February 2018


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Saturday, February 24, 2018 - March 2, 2018

Bangkok International Motor Show

Motor Show Pretties.

Yes, it is on again, the internationally accredited Bangkok Motor Show at Muang Tong Thani. This year it will be on from March 28 until April 8 and is the 39th annual Bangkok motor show organized by Grand Prix International (GPI).

An extra smaller “motor show” will be held concurrently, called the 10th Bangkok Used Car Show, and organized by GPI as well. This will give prospective customers the opportunity to compare old and new models and prices.

The organizers of the Formula 1 races may have banned Grid Girls, but I am sure that our motor show will have its usual display of pulchritude called “Pretties” in the most outlandish fashions. Personally I find this all a little amusing, but I do know of people who go to the show just to photograph the girls. Coming from Pattaya where you can touch the local pretties if you wish (remember to wash your hands), as well as ogle, perhaps I have a jaundiced eye these days?

 It should be noted that the motor industry as a whole has been struggling to maintain previous levels. In Australia for example, sales figures from 2017 showed that Jeep had a 34 percent drop, Volvo 20 percent, Jaguar 17 percent, Fiat 17 percent, BMW 15 percent and Nissan 15 percent. And Australia’s best selling car? The Toyota Hilux with the Ford Ranger in hot pursuit. Pre-release details on the new Ford Ranger Raptor might see Ford leapfrog Isuzu and Hilux. We shall see if Ford has a Ranger Raptor on display at the show.

The attendance figures for the 39th Bangkok International Motor Show are projected as being 1.6 million and it is expected this will boost the domestic market to around one million vehicles, getting us up to the previous level of a few years ago.


The Raptor surfaces in Bangkok

Ford Ranger Raptor.

The new Ford Ranger Raptor was revealed two weeks ago in Bangkok. It is a pick-up with sporting pretensions and will have a 2 liter twin turbo diesel engine developing 500 Nm with a 10 speed auto transmission.

Even though the brute horsepower is not in high figures, the torque is the number you look for in an off-roader and with 10 ratios it is easy to keep the engine turning in the optimum power range. 

Fox shocks are reputed to be used for the Ranger Raptor, as it did on the bigger American F-150 Raptor. We haven't yet driven the Ranger with Position Sensitive Damping shocks, but we know they work wonders on the bigger Raptor. Internal bypass tech ought to help the truck stay comfortable on the road, too. One thing for sure already, though, is that the Ranger Raptor will have significantly superior ground clearance (11.1 inches) and marginally better approach and departure angles. The Ford also has a Watt's link, which should help keep the rear suspension feeling planted over high-speed terrain.

Four-wheel drive naturally, and there will be a Terrain Management electronics package similar to the larger, full-size F-150 Raptor. Ford says we can expect 210 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque (500 Nm) from the diesel Ranger Raptor.

The Raptor will have more ground clearance than other pick-ups in the class and with pick-ups from VW (Amarok), Mitsubishi, Mercedes-Benz, GM, the rivalry will be intense.

How much will it cost to get one in your garage? Ford is not saying right now, but expect something north of 1.2 million.


Formula 1 ‘steals’ concept from Pattaya’s [email protected] team

 Pattaya’s racing Ford Escort.

Formula 1 has announced the Formula 1 Pirelli Hot Laps program, whereby “spectators, celebrities and guests attending a Grand Prix” will have the opportunity of being driven in a supercar by a professional racing driver on the same circuits where their F1 heroes "battle it out".

Aston Martin and McLaren are the first two manufacturers to confirm their participation in ten events, with more leading automotive brands due to be announced in the coming weeks. 

Aston Martin, whose Aston Martin Valkyrie has been designed in cooperation with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing's Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey, will be primarily using the new 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged, V8-powered Vantage. Aston Martin Red Bull Racing's official drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, will be among the drivers at the wheel of these supercars.

McLaren will give participants the chance to experience the exhilarating McLaren 720S supercar, the latest in McLaren Automotive's Super Series, with the possibility of being driven by Lando Norris, McLaren's reserve and test driver, Mika Hakkinen or Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne. (Here in Pattaya you will be driven by Dr. Iain)

Special promotions and competitions to gain access will be arranged during the season by Formula 1 and partners of the Formula 1 Pirelli Hot Laps program.

“The Formula 1 Pirelli Hot Laps program represents a new opportunity to allow Formula 1 fans to get closer to a real track experience,” said Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Commercial Operations at Formula 1. “The once in a lifetime experience of being driven at speed by a racing driver is truly unique. We are seeking to be fan first and this is yet another example of our efforts to that end. This also is a demonstration of our capabilities to provide more value to valued partners like Pirelli and the Formula 1 teams.” (This is, of course, PR-Speak. We announced our plans to give our sponsors the chance of passenger laps, but even better, the opportunity to actually drive the race car last year.)

"Pirelli is proud and delighted to be exclusive partner of the F1 Hot Laps 2018 program: the first ongoing experience designed specifically for fans to sample the speed and emotion of on-the-limit driving from the inside, on actual circuits used during each grand prix weekend," added Mario Isola, Head of Car Racing at Pirelli.” (Once again Formula 1 and now Pirelli are ignoring the fact that we, the [email protected] team, began offering this opportunity in December 2017.)

“McLaren is proud to support this initiative to bring people closer to the sport,” said John Allert, Chief Marketing Officer, McLaren Technology Group, “our team and our special sports cars and supercars, providing people with a unique and unprecedented experience in a McLaren they will remember forever.” (Sorry Mr Pirelli, the experience is not unique. The experience in our fully crash-tested Retro Racer 350 horsepower Ford Escort will also be something they will remember forever!)


Jeepney tales

In the Philippines, the equivalent of the tuk-tuk is the ‘Jeepney’, which has a much more interesting history. The fascination of the Jeepney comes in the utilization of vehicles and engines that were already existing, and adapting them to the requirements of the time. Today’s Jeepneys are vehicles that can trace their roots, some 50 plus years later. I have written about these before, but history needs to be retold.

Most people are aware that the Jeepney was derived from the American Jeep, itself a most interesting development. These were not, as again popular ‘wisdom’ would suggest, designed by Willy’s, but were first designed and produced by Bantam Engineering in Detroit, the makers of the American Austin Seven, and the first batch of these ‘Scout Cars’ rolled off the assembly lines in 1940. The American government later had Willys and Ford also make these vehicles to the Bantam design. The name ‘Jeep’ came later, being a phonetic interpretation of G.P. (General Purpose) vehicle, and allegedly coined by a lady journalist when being shown the prototype, so never say that women writers don’t know anything about the motor industry!

When General MacArthur said “I shall return” he did not say anything about coming back to pick up the Jeeps that the US government had left in Manila in 1945, and in fairly short order, the ex-US Army military vehicles were plying the streets of Manila, and the enterprising new Filipino owners began using them as taxis, replacing the horse-drawn ‘calesas’, painting them in bright colors to alert passengers to the fact that this was a version of public transport. This was just the beginning.

To protect the drivers and passengers from the sun, the Jeep grew a fixed roof. More seats became necessary to give these diminutive taxis some economies of scale. More bums on seats needed more seats for bums, and so the original six seater ‘auto-calesa’ began to grow appendages on the rear to get more people on board, until the much longer 16 seater PUJ’s (Public Utility Jeep) became commonplace.

As the Jeep began to mutate, it got its name of ‘Jeepney’. It was no longer a modified ex-WWII Jeep, but had become its own persona. It had also produced its own motor industry, manufacturing and assembling these now unique vehicles. Not only to manufacture, but to keep them running, there was now an attendant vehicle repair industry, and to satisfy the Filipino penchant for decoration and then some, there was a parallel industry making the elaborate accessories, such as the mandatory chrome-plated horses for the bonnets of the new vehicles.

It did not end there. With the Filipinos being the musicians of Asia, there needed to be a way of giving these Jeepneys some music on the run, and the auto-sound industry grew to encompass this important side of the Jeepney story as well. Several hundred decibels of distorted sound was the norm.

Jeepneys were described best by Valerio Nofuente. At the front of the Jeepney, often right on top, is a plastic headdress verging on a crown, with names like Jeepney King, Queen Leah, Super-Star or one of the Jeepney body makers, such as Sarao Motors written on it. At night, this will be festooned with blinking lights, around some saint’s statue.

The bonnet is the special repository for the Jeepney decorator. Here is at least one chrome horse in memory of the horse drawn calesa. Along with the horses is usually a forest of other decorations including aerials, mirrors and numerous parking lights.

While the international auto manufacturers may build more practical people movers, a minibus (or even a songthaew) does not have the mystique that is possessed by a Jeepney.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked, what is the connection between goats, early cars and flat packs today? This was to confuse the Googlers. Unfortunately it confused me a week later as I couldn’t remember what it was. However Jerry Coffey reminded me that the Pontiac GTO’ were called “goats’.

So to this week. They only made a few of these. Top speed 372 kmh, zero to 100 in 3.2 seconds and was a car for three. What was it? Clue – the youngest one is 20 years old.

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


February 17, 2018 - February 23, 2018

Was the meal to your satisfaction, Sir?

Mr. and Mrs. Grosjean.

Cooking is not something you would expect as a racing driver’s hobby, but F1 Haas driver Romain Grosjean has released a cookery book produced by himself and his wife, TV presenter Marion Jollès Grosjean.

The book, featuring 46 recipes, has been created with the assistance of renowned chefs Akrame Benallal, Guy Savoy and Christophe Michalak.

Grosjean, who harbors an interest in gastronomy, will provide insight into some of his favorite home cooking, and the dishes created in order to aid his training regime.

The book, titled 'Cuisine et Confidences', will be available in both English and French.

Showing his human side, when asked to describe his perfect day, Grosjean said, “I would have a good lie in, with the kids sleeping, and me as well. I would have a good breakfast with them, cooking eggs or something like that. I could then have a bit of a training session, maybe a run or a cycle, then cooking with the kids, a big pizza – we love to do that together.”

Grosjean shows himself as a true family man, well away from the glitz and glamor of the Formula 1 circus.


Entry fees

All over the world, drivers have to pay entry fees to entertain the public. For picnic meetings such as our races at the Bira Circuit in the Retro Escort, you are looking at around 10 thousand baht. However, if you are racing in Formula 1, you pay a bit more. Here are the entry fees for the current teams:

Mercedes – $4,653,720

Ferrari – $3,210,170

Red Bull – $2,415,376

Force India – $1,481,235

Williams – $944,491

Renault – $810,305

Toro Rosso – $789,661

Haas – $758,695

McLaren – $670,958

Sauber – $541,933

As you can see, the more successful you are, the more it is going to cost you to compete. A system only liked by the promoters of the meetings. $13 million as a rough total is not to be sneered at.

Of course, you do get flash pits and space for your multi-car transporter, but sorry, you have to cater for yourselves.


Further comparisons

 

E-Type Jaguar.

Last week I wrote on the comparison between today’s cars and those of 40 years ago. This time I looked at the relative performance of the sports cars of yesterday, and family sedans of today. 

The comparisons I took from a Jaguar E-Type (1961) and a Ford Focus (2017)

Performance figures for E-Type Jaguar 1961

Zero to 60 mph: 6.3 sec

Zero to 100 mph: 18.2 sec

Standing ¼-mile: 15.5 sec

Performance figures for Ford Focus 2017

Zero to 60 mph: 6.9 sec

Zero to 100 mph: 17.0 sec

Standing ¼-mile: 15.1 sec

Putting the two cars side by side on a drag strip, the Focus shopping trolley is 0.6 seconds slower than the E-Type to 60 mph but after that, the E-Type is lagging behind the Focus in zero to 100 mph by 1.2 seconds and is even slower over the quarter mile by 0.4 of a second.

The car we all thought was the fastest thing ever on wheels, would not keep up with today’s supermarket trolley. Mind you, what would you rather have in your garage? A Focus or an E-Type?


The lions that ate cars

Moke.

I wrote many years ago about the Lions who ate Mini Moke Californians, but the yarn bears re-telling. For those who have never seen a Mini Californian, it began as your everyday Mini Moke, the flat Mini platform with a faintly raffish ‘jeep’ look to it. It had canvas seats across metal frames to add to the military look. A flat windscreen up front and a fairly useless vinyl top that could be erected. It was ineffective as a roof, and when it rained, it was even worse.

However, the Californian variant had little Perspex wind ‘wings’ either side of the windscreen, designed to stop buffeting of driver and passenger (which they didn’t), some stuffing in the seats, some new choices of bright colors for the platform and a bright floral patterned vinyl roof, which was still ineffective when it rained, and if you drove at any speeds over 80 kph, the side flaps went up and down like a spaniel dog’s ears at full canter. Yes, this was British Leyland’s concept of the Californian psychedelic era. 

BL’s publicity man was called Ian Millbank and his concept to promote this variant was more towards the ‘great white hunter’ idea. He envisaged hunters and models, trees and the veldt and the piece de resistance was to be lions! In Sydney, Australia, in those days there was just the location – the Warragamba Lion Park! The release was already in Millbank’s mind. The lion park was contacted, and two new Moke Californians were taken in secret one night to Warragamba. Remember that all ‘new’ models are driven round incognito before the release date, and in fact there is an army of press photographers on the lookout for pre-release vehicles.

But back to the lion park. The photographer and models had been contacted and the shoot scheduled for the following day. The sight that confronted them the next morning was certainly theatrical. There were two half-eaten Moke Californians, being devoured by all these lion cubs. They had systematically eaten the seats, the floral roof, the wind wings and anything else that a pride of hungry lion cubs felt was suitable for breakfast, including the spare tyres!

Even for Ian Millbank, this was a situation that could not be recovered from. The models were discharged, as well as the photographer, the Mokes brought back to the factory on a truck under tarpaulins in disgrace!

A little background to this story. Ian Millbank was a wonderfully flamboyant chap who loved the theatre of model releases, but hated cars. Based in Sydney Australia he was given a vehicle, because of his high position in the company. But he didn’t want it, so he would deliberately leave it somewhere and report it as stolen. This became so frequent that the police would ring British Leyland, saying, “We’ve got Mr Millbank’s car again, if you would like to pick it up.”

Last time I saw Millbank he was running a hotel in Katoomba, New South Wales, called the Palais Royale, flouncing around from table to table at lunch and inviting Miss Spink to play the spinet, to furious applause by Millbank. (Miss Spink had come for a holiday 10 years previously and stayed as the residential entertainment.)

Unfortunately, the Millbanks of this world are few and far between.

Yes, that was the psychedelic seventies! I am lucky that I not only experienced them with Millbank and BL - I survived them!


More than exhaust fumes these days

After ‘dieselgate’ and VW’s billion dollar fine, we are apt to think of only exhaust fumes as being dangerous. Cars are themselves dangerous, running into each other and the road toll becomes important. However, new research claims cars may be killing us by making too much noise.

The research comes from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and claims that noise disturbances from cars, like exhausts, horns and sirens, could pose serious health risks for people.

The authors, who examined research on noise pollution and heart disease, say that loud sounds not only disrupt sleep, which can lead to health problems, but can also initiate the stress response, releasing a rush of hormones that, over time, can damage the heart. (Note the phrase “over time”.)

“Ten years ago, people were saying that noise is just annoying, but now I think there’s considerable evidence that noise makes you sick, and one of the predominate diseases is cardiovascular disease,” said lead author Thomas Münzel.

While the noise disturbances are not a direct cause of heart disease, the research suggests noise pollution should be categorized as a risk factor, like high cholesterol and obesity. Münzel claimed that shocking or surprising noises can cause the release of stress hormones in the body, and that anything over 60 decibels can increase risk for heart disease.

This is all very sensational, but the ‘fight or flight’ response with release of adrenaline is well known and to say that 60 dB is the cut off is nonsense. A time weighted average of 85 dB is closer to the recommended levels by Health and Safety pundits. And if they wanted to do some real investigation, they should come to a Thai party with dB levels around 120 with speakers big enough to blow your ears off.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked who was a land speed record holder for three years and had a red pointy beard. The clue was the Ardennes. It was Camille Jenatzy who was a Belgian race car driver. He is remembered for breaking the land speed record three times and being the first man to break the 100 km/h barrier. He was nicknamed Le Diable Rouge ("The Red Devil") after the color of his beard. Jenatzy died in 1913 in a hunting accident. He went behind a bush and made animal noises as a prank on his friends who were hunting with him. It worked too well. Alfred Madoux, director of the journal L'Etoile Belge fired, believing it was a wild animal. When they realized it was Jenatzy, they rushed him to hospital by car; but he bled to death en route, fulfilling his own prophecy he would die in a Mercedes.

So to this week. Goats are omnivores. What is the connection between goats, early cars and flat packs today?

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


February 10, 2018 - February 16, 2018

Are the new cars any better?

Jaguar SS 100.

We take a lot for granted these days. Hands up all those who can remember boasting that their car would go up Sunshine Hill in top gear? For “Sunshine” use any hill from your youth. Mine was a 1949 Austin A40 and the year was 1959. 10 years old and the engine needed new rings, the bores were oval and the big ends were worn. It was not a million km car either.

I had struck up an acquaintance with the local garage mechanic Jack Rowe who asked why I looked down in the mouth. After telling him, he came round and measured the motor and confirmed that it needed rings, bearings and pistons.

That was almost the end of the world for me. I was the archetypal starving medical student with not enough in the piggy bank for tomorrow’s lunch let alone big ends.

However, I was lucky. Jack said not to bring it to the garage, but he would work on it at his home where he had some spare parts saved from the garage. The catch was I had to help him, but for me that was a wonderful life-line.

So every night I would pedal round to Jack’s house where he had the greatest collection of secondhand parts you would ever see. These were all parts that had been replaced by the garage, but were not totally clapped out.

Jack and I would work away, under the supervision of Mrs Jack who sat there with her five children under seven, breastfeeding the last two, twins. So I knew what Jack did when not working on cars.

Under Jack’s instructions I learned how to use a micrometer to select the best pistons and measure up the crankshaft. The pile of spare parts was thoroughly picked over and re-assembly was next.

After one week of nights, I had an Austin A40 which ran without knocking from the engine. (I had called the car Geronimo because it made “injun” noises.) Jack said that if I looked after it, I could expect 10,000 miles from the engine and it should climb Sunshine hill in top!

Naturally I took his advice and thrashed the living daylights out of it for the 10,000 miles, racing anything on the road that would respond to the challenge. After beating an MG TF in an illegal ‘road race’ I was even invited to join the MG Car Club. Those were easier days in the early ‘60s.

However, getting back to my original question, are the new cars any better? Simple answer is yes. Modern metallurgy for one, has given the reciprocating parts a longer life. It has also meant that cars can use aluminium, titanium (and best of the lot, ‘unobtainium’) and be much lighter. The ability to change settings of the camshaft by electronic means does mean that ignition is no longer a hit and miss static affair, but adapts to the road requirements. This means that today’s shopping trolley can cover zero to 100 km/h in around nine seconds. My Austin A40 (when new) returned zero to 100 km/h in 38 seconds. To measure performance in the good old days you could use a calendar, not a stop watch!

And while I like old cars such as the 3 liter Bentley, the SS 100 Jaguar, the Railtons, the Invicta Low Chassis Black Prince and even the racing SSK Mercedes, their acceleration times were nothing to snap your head from your shoulders. The SS Jaguar having a zero to 100 km/h of around 14 seconds. Compare that to a nine second Toyota Corolla on its way to the shops.

Having shown that the new cars are better (300,000 km is not unknown these days), however, what would you rather have? The Jaguar or the Corolla?


Grid girls assassinated by American puritans

Grid Girl.

Seven unemployed Grid Girls.

Yes, it wasn’t ‘fake’ news, the new American owners of F1 have decreed that there will be no more grid girls, or lovelies on the podium. In modern usage, the word ‘puritan’ is often used to describe someone who adheres to strict, joyless moral or religious principles. In this usage, hedonism and puritanism are on the opposite sides of the fence.

I’m sorry Liberty (which seems an oxymoron) Media you bought F1 and didn’t realize that it was built on hedonism. People having fun, right from the spectators through to the gladiators in their chariots, plus the odd lion or two.

Formula One Management (FOM) said in their press release that grid girls are to no longer be used at Formula One World Championship events, be it the Grand Prix or support events.

In the press release, FOM said, “Formula 1 will end the long-standing practice of using walk-on grid girls, commencing with the start of the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season. These changes also apply to our other motorsports series that take place during the Grands Prix weekends.

“Formula 1 considers the time spent by teams and drivers on the grid before a race as one of celebration, where guests and various performers can add to the glamour and spectacle of the Grand Prix, enabling promoters and partners to showcase their countries and products.

“Over the last year we have looked at a number of areas which we felt needed updating so as to be more in tune with our vision for this great sport,” said Sean Bratches, an FOM mouthpiece.

“While the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 Grands Prix for decades, we feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms. We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world.”

What is next? Wolf whistles banned within the earshot of any females, bikinis burned and Walking Street not allowed to have dancers, and the end of the “pretties” at the motor shows, and finally, no cheerleaders from Primary school and upwards as knickers might be seen under the short skirts. I presume that women will be banished to the kitchen and we can bring back burning at the stake.

Liberty Media, which has done nothing positive to stem the flow of spectators from F1 to other types of racing, is guilty once more of re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

As a thought to ponder, we, in the lower categories have always brought our own grid girls and paid for them ourselves. Will F1’s loss be our gain?


The Tucker, still an enigma

Tucker.

The short film Tucker: The Man and the Car (not to be confused with Tucker: The Man and His Dream, which debuted 40 years later) introduced the Tucker 48 to American audiences in the fall of 1948. A silver Tucker, chassis 1029, starred in the original film, and with good reason: It reputedly was the automobile selected by Preston Tucker for his personal use. Sold at auction recently, Tucker 48 chassis 1029 crossed the auction block at the RM Sotheby’s sale in Arizona, where it sold for a fee-inclusive $1.79.

Prior to 1029’s time with the Tucker family, it was used for high-speed testing and development of the chassis at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Tuckers kept the car from 1948 until 1955, and during this time it reportedly appeared in home movies and was driven to early Classic Car Club of America events. In 1955, Preston Tucker sold the car to Winthrop Rockefeller, Nelson Rockefeller’s younger brother and then-chairman of the Arkansas Industrial Development Corporation. Later, from 1967-’71, Winthrop Rockefeller would serve as governor of Arkansas.

By his election, however, Rockefeller had long since parted with the Tucker. In 1959, chassis 1029 was offered for sale by Albert Gayson of Los Angeles, and Gayson sold the car to a Max Novak of Omaha, Nebraska. Novak owned the Tucker until 1967, when it sold to British Motor Car Distributors, the San Francisco dealership owned by Kjell Qvale. Its next owner of record was Jack Bart, a car collector perhaps best known as the long-time representative of singer James Brown.

Bart owned the car for more than 20 years, and during this time it appeared on the big screen in 1988’s Tucker: The Man and His Dream. A year after the film’s release it sold to Todd Werby, who temporarily exhibited the car in the Blackhawk Museum, and it remained with Werby until acquired by the consignor in 2005.

As offered for sale, the car displayed 19,199 miles on the odometer, believed to be original. Repainted and reupholstered during Bart’s ownership, the car was accompanied by a history file compiled by marque expert Jay Follis, detailing its history and ownership over the decades. Described by the auction house as “the ultimate Tucker automobile, the final selling price exceeded the pre-auction estimate of $1.2 million to $1.5 million.

Other lots in the RM Sotheby’s Arizona top-10 included a 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra S/C, which sold for $2.95 million; a 1964 Ferrari 250 GT/L Berlinetta Lusso, which sold for $1.68 million; a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series II, which sold for $1.4 million; a 2017 Ferrari F12tdf, which sold for $1.33 million; a 1955 Alfa Romeo 1900C SS Speciale, which sold for $1.27 million; a 1952 Ferrari 212 Inter Coupe, which sold for $1.19 million; a 1987 Porsche 959 Komfort, which sold for $1.16 million; a 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, which sold for $1.08 million; and a 1965 Shelby 289 Cobra, which sold for $995,000. If I had the money, the 427 Cobra would be in my garage. We are really starved for ‘class’ motor cars, I am afraid.


Natter, nosh and noggin

The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park. The next meeting is on Monday February 12 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). Come along and meet the guys who have a common interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s specials, washed down with a few beers. Always a fun night. The Car Club nights are only on the second Monday of the month (not every second Monday)!


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what was the connection between two British breakdown services and a company with a head office in Luxemburg? The answer was that both the RAC and the AA were these days owned by CVC registered in Luxemburg. That’s the same CVC that sold F1 to Liberty Media.

So to this week. Who was this? Land speed record holder for three years and had a red pointy beard. Clue: the Ardennes.

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


Update Saturday, February 3, 2018 - February 9, 20188

Has the auto industry lost its way?

300 km/h.

I am sitting here with a copy of the UK magazine Car in front of me. The cover promises a New M5 BMW which does zero to 100 km/h in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 318 km/h. Inside there is a comparison test between a Porsche Macan GTS and a Range Rover Velar P380. Both are officially SUV’s, can do very close to five seconds to 100 km/h and can top out at 240 km/h. All the while with a boot load of groceries.

How many of my readers have gone more than 300 km/h? On our roads chock a block with pick-ups and motorcycles?

Now I have done 300 km/h in a Formula 5000 V8 racing car on an FIA approved race track, and let me assure you that you have to be very alert at that kind of speed.

How alert? Simple maths: 300 km/h is 5 kays per minute. Or put another way, that is 83 meters per second. Or even simpler, by the time you have finished reading that last sentence you would have covered 400 meters (or gone through the wall backwards)!

These “supercars” really are “super”, but it was Professor Max Born (1882 – 1970) who said (in 1958), “Space travel is a triumph of intellect but a tragic failure of reason.” Can you see where I’m headed here? Substitute Supercar for space travel and the good Professor’s words become prophetic.

We are now so clever that we can offer supercars to the general public (at a price premium) but the auto industry does not supply the driving skills to go along with a shopping cart that can do 240 km/h. So why are we making these things?

And before you start to point fingers at me, I have raced cars, all the way from old MG’s that got out of breath at 100 km/h and graduating with a 300 km/h Formula 5000. I’ve done my apprenticeship. The person with 30 million baht to spare hasn’t done any.

The auto industry might say they build supercars for super money, but the truth is they lose money on every supercar. It is a case of (as the old song went) “Anything you can do, I can do better.” The morality of making cars that only Formula 1 drivers can use is not taken into account.

Did you know that there are some models of Ferrari that cannot be road registered? After you buy it, they keep it for you in Maranello and you make an appointment to drive your own car on the track, complete with a pit crew of garlic eating mechanics. Some Ferrari’s you can take home, but the majority of the FXX cars are stored in Maranello in the Corse Clienti department, but customers are free to have them at home. It is mandatory, however, to have a full review of the car by the Ferrari crew team before the car hits the track in any event or private testing session. Anytime the car is taken to the track, for an official Ferrari event or personal test session, there is always a mechanic and technician. He’ll do the full check up when the car arrives at that said track.

So there you are, start saving but if you haven’t got you a friend who will lend you his Ferrari and a Richard Mille watch, it might be better to look at a Ford Ranger.


The death-knell for the enthusiast driver

Driving gloves.

Look out for a man carrying sandwich boards which say “The end is nigh!” If you enjoy driving your car, he is already many steps in front of you. Be ready to hang up your driving gloves.

When governments can see there is money to be made from the new technologies, what do they do? Make it compulsory that you have to have a license for them. (Very similar to the license you need if you own a drone.)

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced that it has introduced new regulations to support intelligent transport systems (ITS), in the form of the Radio-communications (ITS) Class License 2017.

This was created following industry consultation, or so they say, the license will allow Australian road traffic authorities to roll out ITS that enable vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-person or vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, marking a crucial step in the eventual deployment of autonomous vehicles on the road.

The license will allow vehicles and roadside infrastructure to share data using a 5.9 GHz radio frequency band, which aligns with international developments.

Experts believe the increasing prevalence of connected and autonomous vehicles can lead to improved road safety, reduced traffic congestion, and positive environmental outcomes.

ITS encompasses a wide range of communications-based information technologies, both wireless and wired, that can be integrated into transport infrastructure and vehicles to transfer and share information.

Cooperative ITS technologies use wireless communications to transfer data over short distances between vehicles and roadside infrastructure, and can be used for a range of applications including monitoring and managing traffic flow, relieving traffic congestion, providing alternative routes to travellers and reducing the environmental impact of transport.

ACMA active chair James Cameron said the license would keep Australia on pace with other countries to be compatible with connected car technology.

“ITS are expected to make roads smarter, safer and cleaner through the use of communications technologies,” he said.

“The new Class License will facilitate the rollout of the latest transportation communications technology, putting Australia on par with other nations adopting ITS.”

The announcement follows the establishment of autonomous vehicle trial guidelines by the National Transport Commission in May that allows car-makers to conduct autonomous vehicle testing in Australia.

Yes, the electric autonomous car is just around the corner. And you will be able to be carried in one, as long as both you and the car have ITS licenses.

So don’t despair, there will be lots of opportunities after 2020. Start tooling up for ITS license holders, for example. However, I would avoid buying shares in any auto parts companies specializing in steering wheels!


The last of the Mohicans?

F1 Steering wheel.

Mentioning steering wheels reminded me of the extreme levels of technology in F1 these days, where the driver can get information from the steering wheel and also change items in the running of the car. Personally, I do not know how the current F1 drivers can read the information at the speeds they do, I have enough of a problem reading the tachometer, let alone the following items:

Yellow N button: Selects neutral from 1st or 2nd gear. As this list gets very technical, I suggest you get a bottle of beer from the fridge before starting.

BRKBAL (brake balance) rotary switch: Adjusts the front and rear brake balance.

Black Box button: Confirms the driver’s intention to come to the pits.

Blue and orange S1/S2 buttons: These can be programmed for various functions.

Entry rotary switch: This allows the driver to make changes to corner entry settings of the differential.

Orange and green BRK-/BRK+ buttons: These change the brake balance between a programmed position and the current BRKBAL rotary position.

IGN (ignition) rotary switch: Controls ignition timing.

White ACK (acknowledge) button: Acknowledges changes in the system.

PREL (preload) rotary switch: Controls the preload differential offset torque.

Red Oil button: Transfers oil from the auxiliary tank to the main tank.

Black BP (bite point) button: Activates the clutch bite point finding procedure.

DRS (drag reduction system) button, upper left edge of the wheel: Activates the rear wing flap in the DRS zone.

Red PL (pit lane) button: Activates the pit lane speed limiter, limiting the car to the designated pit lane speed limit (typically 100 km/hr).

Black R button: Activates the driver radio transmission.

SOC rotary switch: Controls the state of charge of the ERS energy storage system, whether the system is generating or consuming energy.

Pedal rotary switch: Changes the pedal map dictating how the accelerator pedal responds to inputs.

Fuel rotary switch: Controls the rate of fuel consumption.

Black OT button: Activates configurable performance maps to assist the driver in overtaking or defending.

Tire rotary switch: Tells the ECU and other systems what type of tire the car is running on.

BBal-/BBal+ switches: These are used to make fine adjustments to the brake balance offset.

MFRS (multi-function rotary switch): This allows the driver and engineers to control a variety of systems that don’t require a dedicated buttons. They include engine modes (PERF), rev limiter (ENG), air-fuel ratio (MIX), turbo-compressor (TURBO), corner exit differential (VISCO), MGU-K recovery limits (BRK), MGU-K boost limits (BOOST), dashboard options (DASH), cruise control (CC, disabled for qualifying and the race), shift type (SHIFT), and the clutch bite point offset (CLU).


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked you to identify a European lady who designed the seating on a new car for her Gik. I wanted the royal, the lady and the body. It was Leopold II, with the styling called Roi des Belges and the ermm lady was Mlle Cleo de Merode.

So to this week. What was the connection between two British breakdown services and a company with a head office in Luxemburg?

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]:

Bangkok International Motor Show

The Raptor surfaces in Bangkok

Formula 1 ‘steals’ concept from Pattaya’s [email protected] team

Jeepney tales

Autotrivia Quiz


Was the meal to your satisfaction, Sir?

Entry fees

Further comparisons

The lions that ate cars

More than exhaust fumes these days

Autotrivia Quiz


Are the new cars any better?

Grid girls assassinated by American puritans

The Tucker, still an enigma

Natter, nosh and noggin

Autotrivia Quiz


Has the auto industry lost its way?

The death-knell for the enthusiast driver

The last of the Mohicans?

Autotrivia Quiz

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