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Update February 2019

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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

A Fortuner encrusted with diamonds?


Rolls Royce has gone off-road (and off its rocker in my opinion) with its new SUV, known as the Cullinan (after the diamond), stating on their website that Cullinan is the culmination of years of design refinement, the manifestation of an audacious vision to make luxury off-road travel a reality for the first time.

Supreme liberty says the brochure. This is freedom absolute. The first all-terrain SUV from Rolls-Royce is claimed to be the pinnacle of effortlessness.

Want a premium SUV, then start with Bentley with the Bentayga, the first full-blown luxury SUV that gathered fine upholstery, state-of-the-art tech, fancy features, and high-performance under one roof. At the time of its launch, it was the quickest, fastest, and the most expensive SUV. Two years later and Rolls-Royce delivered its first salvo called the Cullinan, and although it’s not faster than the Bentayga, it’s definitely the more expensive.

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is the first SUV to be launched by the Rolls-Royce marque. It is bigger than a Fortuner with a 6.75 L N74B68 twin-turbocharged V12 dragging a kerb weight of 2,660 kg from a body 5,341 mm long.

With the world deciding that we’re not going to run out of oil after all, the automakers have been busy bringing vehicles to the market that can climb over rocks and trees, and carry seven people in relative comfort.

While the premium segment is packed with SUVs from European, American, and Japanese automakers, the range-topping luxury market is still very small. With no other products around, Bentley and Rolls-Royce are the only firms fighting for supremacy here. The Cullinan and the Bentayga will attract the richest, most pretentious customers out there are for years to come. Much will depend upon the little luxuries being trotted out. The RR has a center console incorporating a drinks cabinet with whiskey glasses and decanter, champagne flutes, and refrigerator. A three-seat layout is also available, and this configuration comes with a 60/40 split to create an almost flat loading surface. The Cullinan can haul up to 68 cubic feet of luggage and can be fitted with a glass partition to separate the seating area from the trunk. It also has dinky little RR badges on the center of each wheel, which always sits vertically even when stopped.

If you are interested in emissions (though with all that money, who cares), the values of fuel consumptions, CO2 emissions and energy consumptions shown are determined according to the European Regulation (EC) 715/2007 in the version applicable at the time of type approval. The range shown considers optional equipment and the different size of wheels and tires available on the selected model and may vary during the configuration.

The values are already based on the new WLTP regulation and are translated back into NEDC-equivalent values in order to ensure the comparison between the vehicles. For the assessment of taxes or other duties based (at least inter alia) on CO2-emissions the CO2 values may differ to the values stated here.

Further information on official energy and fuel consumption and the official specific CO2 emissions of new passenger cars can be found in the “Guide to Fuel Consumption, CO2 Emissions and Electricity Consumption of New Passenger Cars”, which is available at all outlets free of charge and at in the United Kingdom, in Germany, or your local government authority.

How much would it costs here? I’ll guess at around 40 million baht, or more than I will earn in a lifetime. It puts a new emphasis on the word pretentious.

A Guide to Brake Pads

Brake pads

I have a good friend Gavin Charlesworth who is the Thailand agent for the famous brake pads and discs branded as EBC. I have run these on my race car for the past few years and described the EBC pads as the next best thing to a brick wall. The following article was sent to me from Gavin, and is very informative.

Brake pads are used to stop moving vehicles; they do this by converting the kinetic energy of a moving vehicle into heat. How effectively brake pads generate heat will determine how well they work.

It is important to choose the right brake pad for the correct application. There are three main variables that affect brake performance.

Brake pad material and its friction properties

Hydraulic pressure

Brake rotor / disc size

Braking performance can be improved (or made worse) by changing any one of the above components of the braking system.

Are your brakes genuine?

Pad Certification

OE brake pads and aftermarket brake products In UK, Europe, USA (actually most places in the world) are made to a very high standard.

ECE R 90 - certify that the replacement brake pads are at least equal to or better than OE parts. Test for performance, cold performance, bedding in.

ABE (T‹V) – replaced by ECE R 90 for brake pads but still valid for brake discs.

AMECA (US) – friction material testing and registration, edge coding

It is illegal to sell uncertified braking products in most countries. Insurance companies will refuse to pay out compensation after an accident if un-certified braking products were used on a vehicle involved in an accident.

Brake Pad materials

Metal-based – relatively cheap to make using steel fiber, often an aggressive initial bite that some may like. High disc / rotor wear, high dust levels, dust sticks to wheels, often noise issues.

Organic based – made from organic aramid fiber (such as Kevlar) and binding resins. Organic pads give a softer more progressive pedal feel and have a light dust which does not stick to wheels. Generally less noise than metallic based brake pads.

Ceramic – semi-metallic or organic brake pads filled with ceramic particles giving lower dust, longer life.

Carbon Ceramic – reserved for Supercars as they very expensive.

Contact [email protected]

Classic Car Show

Jaguar 220.

A couple of years ago, a Classic Car Show was held in the grounds of the Asia Pattaya Hotel. This was so successful, we present the Car Show on Saturday March 2 from noon until 10 p.m.

In the evening there will be a Charity BBQ with live music from the 60s and 70s and a Blues Brother or two wandering around. Telephone the Pattaya Mail on 093 161 5995 to reserve a place at the party BBQ.

Anyone with an interest in “classics” will enjoy the day, with many of the cars very rarely seen outside their air-conditioned garages.

My 1973 two door Ford Escort racer will be there, which can still blow the doors off some much younger cars (and drivers). The car is obviously heavily modified now with a 350 BHP engine, five speed gearbox, limited slip differential and a five link rear end. If you had an Escort when you were young, come along and be photographed with this one.

A few E-Type Jaguars will be present, probably the best looking car in the world, some MG T-Types and last time even a Kubelwagen and a Schwimmwagen. At the upper range, a 1964 Bentley is immaculate, while the enthusiastic Alfa Romeo group will be there. Just look for the red cars. Like Ferrari they look best in red.

Sponsors include the Riviera Group and Liqui Moly.

Some of the classics of the show

Austin 8 Convertible, 1947

Corvette Singray, C3, 1970

Ford Mustang Fastback, 1969

Ford Escort, 1971

Volvo 122, 1966

Volvo Station wagon, 1966

Bentley Mulsanne, 1966

Renault Caravelle, 1966

Opel Commodore GS, 1968

Lancia Beta, 1987

Porsche 356, 1962

BMW CSL, 1972

Jaguar 220, 1990

Buick Le Sabre, 1960

BENZ 190 C, 1963

Porsche 911, 1990

Benz 220 S, 1965

Benz 280 S, 1072

FIAT 132 GLS, 1976

Dodge, 1972

Austin Frogeye, 1959

Chevy Stepside 3100, 1955

Chevy Impala, 1968

AUDI 90 Super, 1965

Mustang Coupe, 1966

Escort RS, 1973

Dodge Challenger, RT 1970

Plymouth Barracuda, 1970

Fiat 1100 E, 1949

Alfa Giulia Super 1971

VW Kombi, 1966

Triumph Stag, 1973

Mustang Coupe, 1966

VW Beetle, 1969

MGA 1500, 1960

Lincoln Continental, 1979

Austin Healey 3000, 1967

Corvette C3, 1971

Ford Thunderbird, 1968

Ford Cougar, 1971

Ford Aurelia, 1960

Jaguar XJ, 1993

Alfa Romeo GTV 2000, 1972

Alfa Giulia Ti, 1966

Karman Ghia, 1961

Alfa Romeo Spider 1750, 1969

Opel, 1909

Bentley S3, 1964

The organizers expect 70-80 cars on March 2.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked, two brothers bought a championship winning Kremer Porsche and raced it at Le Mans. Later they were arraigned for money laundering. Who were they? They were the Whittington brothers.

So now to this week. Where were the pedals on a 1933 Morris Minor?

For the Automania dehydrated beer this week (just add hops and water), be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] . Good luck!

The beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning

Chinese EV looking like a Mini?

It’s a bit like plastic bags, the current bÍte noir. Say you don’t want a plastic bag and you get some self-satisfaction brownie points.

In actual fact, you have done nothing on the global scale. However, it stops the world doing public “challenges” with the pledged funds generally not arriving or being used for other expenses.

Diesel fuel is a bit like that. The policy makers who are chauffeured around in petrol fueled luxury cars could not care less about what banning diesel might do to the family motorist hidden under the guise of the global economy.

As a flow-on from VW’s ‘Dieselgate’ scandal, the green groups are making it look as if all diesel engines are evil polluters. When you examine the fact that all VW did was to make engines run lean at idle which kept the emissions ‘clean’.

It has prompted calls for vehicle bans, tax penalties, and scrappage schemes. A knee-jerk result!

The Society of Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said that, on average, modern diesel vans use around 50 percent less fuel than petrols, which means lower fuel bills for operators and a knock-on benefit for consumers and taxpayers.

Mike Hawes, the SMMT's chief executive said, "Commercial vehicles play an essential but often overlooked role in keeping Britain functioning, performing jobs and transporting vital goods and services that we all rely on every day.

"This sector has never been so important to the UK economy - and to British jobs - and diesel's role in powering these vital vehicles should not be downplayed. Nearly all our commercial vehicles are driven by diesel."

But the vocal green group groups said it was clear all diesel engines must be phased out.

However, the petrol groups have a much greater threat than ‘dirty’ diesels, and that is electric cars. Over the past five years, the number of manufacturers offering an electric car has more than trebled, and the number of electric cars has grown exponentially. 

The [email protected] Scenario reflects a policy case characterized by a wider adoption of EVs, in line with the [email protected] campaign if it were to be applied at a global scale. The [email protected] campaign, launched at the Eighth Clean Energy Ministerial in 2017, set the collective aspirational goal for all EVI members of a 30% market share for electric vehicles in the total of all vehicles (except two-wheelers) by 2030.

The outlook for EVs is bright, but requires ambitious targets

The number of electric cars on the road reaches 125 million by 2030 under the IEA’s New Policies Scenario. With rising ambitions to meet climate goals and other sustainability targets, as in the [email protected] Scenario, the number of electric cars on the road could be as high as 220 million in 2030 and the country with the most electric cars? China.

What level EV will you be buying?

Level Zero

This level has you totally in charge. The car does no ‘thinking’ for you. That description covers most cars for sale today.

Level One

This is the lowest echelon of autonomy, and refers to vehicles with a single type of driver assistance, be it electronic control of the steering, braking, speed modulation, etcetera. A vehicle fits into Level One as long as it is equipped with even a single example of the technology above.

Level Two

This covers vehicles that can automatically steer and adjust speed. However, the driver can override these technologies and remains in control at all times. A car would be considered a Level Two vehicle if it was equipped with “one or more driver assistance systems” like a self-parking feature as well as lane-holding assistance.

Automakers currently sell vehicles that fit into the Level Two category.

Level Three

Vehicles in this category have the ability to drive autonomously, and can make decisions independently of the driver, such as overtaking slow-moving cars on the freeway. However, Level Three vehicles still need the human touch for when they are unable to make a decision and the automated system needs to be overridden.

Level Four

While a manual override is still available, Level Four autonomous vehicles are able to make decisions if things go awry or if a system fails. In the majority of situations, the driver is not required, and the vehicle can be left to its own devices.

In Level Four, the vehicle will notify the driver when conditions are safe, allowing the driver to manually put the car into an autonomous mode.

Level Five

The Level Five category imagines a vehicle that has much stronger environmental awareness than the other levels, and can transport cargo and/or people completely autonomously. A Level Five vehicle does not need conventional driving controls like a steering wheel pedals, and so a driver is not required.

Younger people who will grow up with autonomous motoring will not be afraid of Level Five, but I doubt whether sporting motorists today will be able to give up control to a bunch of diodes.

New Aston V12

Aston Martin V12.

Aston Martin has revealed that its Cosworth-developed 6.5 liter V12 will be the “masterpiece” engine for its upcoming hybrid hypercar, the Valkyrie, and will pump out 745 kW of power and rev to an unbelievable 11,200 rpm.

Weighing just 206kg, the normally aspirated, F1-based engine will be a fully stressed element of the chassis, joining the front and rear sections of the two-seat road racer that is being developed by Aston Martin in league with Red Bull Racing touted as to be “the greatest car of the modern era”.

Wottle she do, Mister?


Own a performance car and you get asked that question any time you park. Unfortunately the automakers today put very optimistic figures on the car’s speedometer. My daily driver Vios, for example, indicates 220 kph on the speedometer, a speed it couldn’t do down a mine shaft with a hurricane for a tail wind.

Here’s some real numbers.

Hennessey Venom F5: 484 kph.

Koenigsegg Agera RS: 447 kph.

Hennessey Venom GT: 434 kph.

Bugatti Chiron: 424 kph.

Bugatti Veyron Super Sport: 420 kph.

SCC Ultimate Aero: 415 kph.

Tesla Roadster: 411 kph (unverified).

Saleen S7 Twin Turbo: 499 kph.

And if you are interested in Bonneville Salt Flats where most of these observed runs are carried out, then pick up the DVD “The World’s Fastest Indian,” showing the life of Burt Munro with his 1920 Indian motorcycle. Starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as Burt, this is a great movie on its own, but if you know anyone passionate about cars or bikes this movie has real depth.

Another manufacturer chasing its tail

Subaru is the latest to have to recall some of its models because of a defect – this time in the power steering system (in some ways a welcome change from Takata safety belts).

The defect involves an electric power steering component supplied to the Subaru factory in Gunma Prefecture, north of Tokyo. Subaru looks to resume assembly at the Japanese plant after two weeks, which provides 60 percent of the company's global production.

Hitachi Automotive Systems produces the component, which is used in power steering, and would give a warning light on the dash to indicate something was wrong.

The parts are found in the Japanese automaker's Forester and XV sport utility vehicles as well as its Impreza compacts. Subaru estimates more than 10,000 vehicles produced between late December and Jan. 16 are affected.

The supplier, a unit of Hitachi, said it was unlikely that the parts were damaged during assembly, suggesting a fault in the electronics of the component. Subaru said it is still investigating the exact cause of the defect.

The plant shutdown also impacts other Subaru models because the automaker assembles multiple models on single production lines. Daily output totals roughly 2,600 units, and a shutdown could affect production of more than 20,000 vehicles. The company ships 80 percent of cars made at the Japanese plant overseas, with 60 percent of exports going to the U.S.A.

Autotrivia Quiz

I am sorry there has been no quiz for a few editions, but I was incarcerated for a few weeks following some radical abdominal (abominable?) surgery. However my surgeons have agreed (reluctantly) that I can drive the race car after June.

So to last week. A famous race driver maintained his interest in agriculture. I asked, where was his first race and what was the model of car?

This was Jim Clark who owned the Edington Mains farm in Scotland and his first car was a borrowed DKW Sonderklasse at Crimond in Scotland. On his gravestone there is “Farmer” above “world champion” which was his wish.

So to this week. Two brothers bought a championship winning Kremer Porsche and raced it at Le Mans. Later they were arraigned for money laundering. Who were they?

For the Automania dehydrated beer this week (just add hops and water), be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!

The Mustang for those who lust after BHP

Mustang with a hair dryer.

Ford has now offered a Hi-Po Mustang as opposed to tiddlers. The new Ford Mustang GT500 is a supercharged stang with first-grade hardware intended to provide an affordable alternative to the Germans and Italian super-cars.

Powered by a supercharged 5.2-litre V8, the Mustang GT500 has more than 700 horsepower (522kW) driving through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Electronic trickery provides the driver with a choice of modes, including a zero to 100 kays in less than four seconds.

Retardation is by Brembo with enormous 420 mm brake discs and Brembo calipers, while active shock absorbers assist keeping the monster on the road (or track).

This new variant of the Mustang is claimed to be the most powerful road-going Ford in history. Ford has come a long way since the T-Bird.

Body modifications are not such as to make the car look much different from the standard model. Outside, changes are to improve cooling and downforce plus carbon fiber spoilers and wheels.

Similar to the regular Mustang, the GT500 features a digital driver’s instrument cluster and large central infotainment screen hooked up to sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Deep-bolstered sports seats join a suede covered steering wheel and rotary gear selector similar to the latest Ford Focus.

While the standard Mustang does come out in RHD, and there’s a few rumbling around Pattaya, Ford has no plans to release this model other than in LHD. “We don’t have the volume to support a factory Shelby effort. We know there’s an appetite for those cars we would love to offer it locally. Unfortunately we don’t have them set up for right-hand-drive.”

The good news is that stronger-than-anticipated demand for the sold-out Mustang Bullitt limited-edition coupe in most markets should result in new models in the future.

Black Panther? No it is a Cougar

A seven liter animal.

There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle lately about wild animals in the jungles of Thailand. However the Cougar population in Pattaya seems to be growing.

The Cougars we are looking at locally were from the Mercury division of Ford Motor Company, and in some ways were spin-offs from the highly successful Ford Mustangs, designed to attract the upper end of the pony car market.

The cougars came with a range of Ford V8’s with the 351 cu. in. being the top category.

At the last count, there are three Cougars locally, with one sent to Bangkok for a total mechanical make-over, and the other two both on the Dark Side. Two are blue and one is brown. The years of manufacture for these three would be 1967-68 and would have been shipped out by GI’s to use on their R&R’s.

The one in Bangkok has matching numbers for the body and engine (a 351 which makes it a desirable item. In Thailand one is never surprised at finding an Isuzu diesel up the sharp end as acquiring and shipping/Customs regulations make import difficult to well-nigh impossible.

Lee Iacocca

Lee Iacocca.

With the Mustang in the news again, remember Lee Iacocca. He was Ford’s executive who pushed for the Mustang, and the sales story of its decade. He was the right guy at the right time, with the right car.

However, there is a lot more to Iacocca than the Mustang. A deep thinker, he has been instrumental in many other spheres. He has had a lifetime involvement with Diabetes research as well as American politics, and is not afraid to speak his mind.

“Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, “Stay the course.” Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I’ll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!”

On December 3, 2007, Iacocca launched a website to encourage open dialogue about the challenges of contemporary society. He has introduced topics such as health care costs, and the United States’ lag in developing alternative energy sources and hybrid vehicles. The site also promotes his book Where Have All the Leaders Gone. It provides an interactive means for users to rate presidential candidates by the qualities Iacocca believes they should possess: curiosity, creativity, communication, character, courage, conviction, charisma, competence and common sense.

Even though he has the same forthright approach as Bob Lutz (ex-General Motors – “Global warming is a crock of shit”) the two big men in the auto industry were never buddies.

8V Honda

A very different piston.

Honda’s concept of an oval-piston engine (or more correctly, a bore/piston with straight sides and semicircular ends) began with the development of the 1979 NR500 GP machine. Honda had been out of Grand Prix racing for 12 years, and when they returned they wanted to showcase four-stroke technology.

Of course at the time 500 Grand Prix was dominated by two-strokes, and that trend continued despite Honda’s best efforts with that original NR500.

“When I look back at it, I’m not sure if we were experimenting with cutting-edge technologies or obsessed with foolish ideas,” recalled Toshimitsu Yoshimura, an engineer involved in the development of the first NR500’s oval piston engine.

“At least we were doing something that was beyond the realm of conventional thinking. I’m not just talking about us, who were designing the engine, but also those who were creating the body.

“The emphasis was to create a difference-not just any difference but the difference that would work to our definite advantage. That’s why we decided that Honda should go with four-stroke engines. We wanted to achieve our target through innovative technology, and in so doing have the edge over our competition.”

F1 world calendar

The 2019 Formula 1 season will finish in December, with the German Grand Prix included on the final calendar released by the FIA.

This year’s race calendar has been signed off by F1’s governing body, the FIA, following a meeting of its World Motor Sport Council in Paris.

No changes were made to the 2019 schedule from the draft version released by F1’s owner Liberty Media in August.

The record-equaling 21-race calendar has the same order as last year, with the first race taking place in Australia on 17 March and Abu Dhabi hosting the final race of the season on 1 December.

There have only been three later finishes to a season, the last in 1963, and on only two other occasions has the World Championship had so many races, 2016 and last  year.

The German Grand Prix has been held in alternate years recently, and there had been doubts about its future with organisers wanting to reduce their race fee.

It will follow the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, which is scheduled for 14 July.

Eleven of the 21 races are in Europe, five in Asia, four in the Americas and one in Australia.

The 1,000th grand prix since F1’s inception will take place in China on 14 April, the third race of the season.

The F1 Calendar. Pencil it in now.

15-17 March – Melbourne, Australia

29-31 March – Sakhir, Bahrain

12-14 April – Shanghai, China

26-28 April – Baku, Azerbaijan

10-12 May – Barcelona, Spain

23-26 May – Monte Carlo, Monaco

7-9 June – Montreal, Canada

21-23 June – Paul Ricard, France

28-30 June – Spielberg, Austria

12-14 July – Silverstone, Great Britain

26-28 July – Hockenheim, Germany

2-4 August – Budapest, Hungary

30 Aug-1 Sep – Spa-francorchamps, Belgium

6-8 September – Monza, Italy

20-22 September – Marina Bay, Singapore

27-29 September – Sochi, Russia

11-13 October – Suzuka, Japan

25-27 October – Mexico City, Mexico

1-3 November – Austin, United States

15-17 November – Interlagos, Brazil

29 Nov-1 Dec – Abu Dhabi, UAE

Autotrivia Quiz

I am sorry there has been no quiz for a few editions, but I was incarcerated for a few weeks following some radical abdominal (abominable?) surgery. However, my surgeons have agreed (reluctantly) that I can drive the race car after June.

So to this week. A famous race driver maintained his interest in agriculture. Where was his first race and what was the model of car?

For the Automania dehydrated beer this week (just add hops and water), be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] . Good luck!

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

A Fortuner encrusted with diamonds?

A Guide to Brake Pads

Classic Car Show

Autotrivia Quiz

The beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning

The outlook for EVs is bright, but requires ambitious targets

What level EV will you be buying?

New Aston V12

Wottle she do, Mister?

Another manufacturer chasing its tail

Autotrivia Quiz

The Mustang for those who lust after BHP

Black Panther? No it is a Cougar

Lee Iacocca

8V Honda

F1 world calendar

Autotrivia Quiz