Make Chiangmai Mail | your Homepage | Bookmark

Chiangmai 's First English Language Newspaper

Pattaya Blatt | Pattaya Mail | Pattaya Mail TV

Update April 2017

Chiang Mai News
Arts - Entertainment for Chiang Mai
Classical Connections
Animal Welfare
Community Happenings
Doctor's Consultation
Dining Out & Recipes
Heart to Heart
Health & Wellbeing
Mail Bag
Money Matters
Social Scene
Travel & Tourism
Daily Horoscope
About Us
Advertising Rates
Current Movies in
Chiangmai's Cinemas
Back Issues
Find out your Romantic Horoscope Now - Click Here!
Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Update April 30, 2017

Russian GP this weekend (Pycckaya Fopmyla 1)

Sochi F1.

The next F1 race on the 2017 calendar is the Russian GP on the Sochi Autodrom (hence my impeccable Russian at the start of this article). A 5,853 km lap and the race will be held over 53 laps.

The circuit is in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi in Krasnodar Krai, Russia. The circuit is similar to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and the Sydney Olympic Park Circuit in that it will run around a venue used for Olympic competition; in this case, the Sochi Olympic Park site, scene of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. The inaugural race was the first year of a seven-year contract and will be the third longest circuit on the F1 calendar, behind Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and Silverstone in the UK.

Qualifying is on Saturday at 6 p.m. Thai time, and the race is 7 p.m. on the Sunday.

We will be watching from our perches at Jameson’s Irish Pub (Soi AR, next to Nova Park) and even though the racing commences at 7 p.m. join us around 6 p.m. for dinner (I do recommend the roasts), and a beer and a chat before the race begins. We watch on the giant screen!

Ford’s pick-up destined for China

The Thai built and Australian developed Ford Ranger is headed for China. Ford president and CEO Mark Fields announced that the one-tonne pick-up will be sold in China from 2018 to take advantage of the expanding pick-up market there.

This means the Ranger will now be sold in the world’s two biggest markets, China and North America – making it a truly global vehicle.

It also means more work for the Melbourne-based Ford Asia-Pacific Vehicle Development Centre that is now tasked with developing a China-specific version to suit that country’s roads and customer tastes.

Ford’s latest decision on Ranger is designed to take advantage of a growing appetite for such vehicles in China where pick-up sales grew 14 percent last year.

Pick-up sales still account for less than 2.0 percent of the 20-million-plus vehicle market, but Ford says China has already become the world’s fourth biggest light truck market.

In a recent survey by Ford, Chinese vehicle buyers said pickups traditionally had been perceived as lacking comfort and modern features.

“Chinese customers, however, have had more exposure to modern trucks through TV, film and the internet, and have become more interested in pickups with more SUV-level comfort and refinement to support their work needs and expanding outdoor lifestyle,” Ford said.

As well as the developing attitudes of Chinese consumers towards such vehicles, China has eased restrictions on light trucks in city centers, making them more attractive to private consumers.

Ford Asia Pacific product communications manager Sinead Phipps confirmed that the Chinese version of the Ranger will be made in Ford’s Thai factory, alongside those headed for Australia and a large number of other countries.

It seems probable that if the Ranger takes off as expected in China, local production would be a logical transition. This would bring Ranger production sites to five – Thailand, South Africa, Argentina, the US (from 2019) and China (perhaps).

Ranger is the top-seller in Europe, South Africa and New Zealand, and has been threatening Toyota’s HiLux in Australia where the Ranger is not only Ford’s number-one model but also the nation’s number two in overall sales in some months.

Ford said the Ranger would join the recently launched, American-built F-150 Raptor under the Built Ford Tough umbrella there.

MG certainly resurrected

New MG coming.

I have mentioned before the increase in the numbers of MG (badged) cars on our streets. However, for many enthusiasts of the brand, MG sedans were never great sellers. The name MG was always associated with wind in the hair open convertible sports cars.

Unfortunately, British Leyland managed to kill their own good sellers and eventually BLMC imploded.

MG ended up in SAIC’s group of brands when it merged with another Chinese company, Nanjing Automotive, that had bought both MG and Rover from their British owners after the brands got in to financial difficulty.

Taken over by SAIC in China they maintained MG’s design and engineering center in the UK, but moved manufacturing to China. This resulted in some very plebian offerings which were unloved in the world of sporty cars.

But, SAIC Motor confirmed at the Shanghai motor show that its MG E-motion all-electric coupe concept is a goer for production within the next few years.

SAIC’s passenger vehicle product portfolio planning director Zhang Liang said the company had done a lot of the preparation in readiness for a production version of the 2+2 coupe.

At last, an MG sports car, complete with butterfly doors and quoted performance figures claiming 0-100 km/h in less than four seconds and can cover up to 500 km on a full battery charge.

This new MG marks a return to sports-oriented vehicles at the one-time British sports car brand to counter the mass-market hatchbacks, sedans and SUVs which have been given the famous MG Octagon.

The new MG is called the E-motion and is built on SAIC’s new electric modular architecture that will underpin other models in SAIC’s home-brand line-ups, including Roewe (pronounced “Rover” in Mandarin).

Autonomous cars’ technology

There is a large percentage of drivers out there who think that self-driving (autonomous) cars are somewhere in the future, probably around 2030. Wrong. The technology is already here, and in use every day.

I have a Mobileye installed in my daily driver and it is not difficult to extrapolate what it can do as a driver aid, to a self-driving car.

For example, if I stray out of my lane, it tells me with jangling bells. Instead of ringing bells, the technology for steering by wire is available. It can steer itself.

If I get too close to the car in front, it advises me with more bells so I can apply the brakes in time. Brake by wire is also available today and my Mobileye can very easily convert bells to brake application.

With GPS being so commonplace these days, it is not difficult for a GPS equipped vehicle to find its way to your destination. Simple algorithms supplied by computer programmers are already in operation.

The only issue revolves around insurance. If my autonomous car with me sitting in the passenger’s seat runs into your autonomous motorcar with you as passenger, whose insurance picks up the tab? The manufacturers or you and me? Solve that conundrum and there will be autonomous vehicles driving down your street before 2020.

The 38th Bangkok International Motor Show

The motor show continues to be a very popular event in Bangkok with 1.6 million people through the gates over the 12 days. The Bangkok International Motor Show has been the “baby” of Dr. Prachin Eamlumnow (Grand Prix International) who has overseen the show building up to be a major international event.

Dr. Prachin Eamlumnow.

Bookings taken during the show were 36,093 units in total, which ensures the confidences in the Thai automobile market in the second quarter to have definitely grown.

Looking at Car and Motorcycle booking numbers derived from the show, the total booking number was 36,093 units, which can be divided into passenger cars; 31,031 units, motorcycle; 4,043 units, and electric sub-compact commercial vehicle; 1,019 units.

Jaturont Komolmis, the Executive Committee / Chief Operating Officer of Grand Prix International PLC and the Vice Chairman of Bangkok International Motor Show stated that the 38th Bangkok International Motor Show was again a successful event in all aspects, which include the greater number of exhibitors participating in the show namely the car manufacturers, motorcycle manufacturers and automotive business operators.

Jaturont said the market is now gradually recovering. From this factor, the sub-compact and compact passenger car as well as commercial vehicle are gaining high popularity from the consumers. Despite the strict regulations on the safety of commercial vehicle which have just come into effect recently, this segment of vehicle was still a center of attention for the visitors. The booking ratio of the commercial vehicle is about 20-30 percent of the total booking numbers.

Medium size passenger cars and premium luxury automobiles are highly popular with the visitors since many companies have recently launched a number of new models in this segment. This has been so, especially for the SUV segment, which has been growing rapidly in accordance with the market demand.

Actual booking numbers showed that Toyota had kept its market leadership with 5,465, followed by Honda 5,279, Mazda 3,419, Isuzu 2,974 and Ford 1,868. Once again, in the luxury segment, Mercedes-Benz with 2,090 outsold BMW, despite the number of different models shown by BeeEmm.

Jaturont Komolmis mentioned that the Bangkok International Motor Show has been receiving excellent support and is trusted by car companies, motorcycle companies and other automotive business entrepreneurs. This event is the premier car show in Thailand which can be truly ranked as a world class Motor Show, he said.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what cars were built in a disused locomotive factory, with no road access? It was the BMW Isetta built in Brighton in the UK. This was a close cooperation between BMW in Germany and the assembly works in the UK, who entered a team of three in the 1954 Mille Miglia, all three finishing and winning the Economy class!

So to this week. In Madrid, 150,000 people queued to see a new car. What was it?

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

Update April 23, 2017

In your eye Enzo!

Lamborghini Miura.

One of the most stunning sports cars of all time was the Lamborghini Miura. And it was built to one-up Enzo Ferrari. Built by Ferruccio Lamborghini, who had previously built tractors, his car was designed by Marcello Gandini of the house of Bertone.

The engine was sat crossways behind the seats and developed enough horsepower to propel the Miura to 171 mph (275 km/h). And this was 50 years ago.

The engine, gearbox and final drive were in the one unit, similar to the Morris Mini of 1959, but developing 350 bhp as opposed to the Mini’s 28!

Keep saying “That was 50 years ago!”

Team Orders

Last week I brought out that if team orders had existed at Ferrari and Raikkonen allowed Vettel through, they could have won the Chinese GP. If team orders had existed at Red Bull, Ricciardo would have been allowed past Verstappen to be third on the podium.

However, team orders have existed in motor sport for decades. Some of the famous motor racing heroes have owed their world driver’s championship titles to team orders.

In 1956, Peter Collins was on the verge of becoming Britain's first F1 World Champion when he handed his Lancia-Ferrari D50 over to team leader Juan Manuel Fangio, which resulted in Fangio winning the Drivers’ Championship that year. Team orders of an extreme type.

Fangio drifting before the Japanese even thought about it.

These days, mentioning ‘team orders’ in a group of western race enthusiasts will produce an instant response, with memories of Barrichello moving aside to let Michael Schumacher through to win in 2002, and then Schumacher inviting Barrichello to take the top step of the podium, to be later fined one million dollars for upsetting the order on the podium! The fine was not for the team orders.

In the 1997 Japanese Grand Prix there was a more sophisticated use of team orders, where Ferrari No 2 Eddie Irvine began the race light on fuel, allowing him to get ahead of the superior Williams-Renault cars and hold them up, to the benefit of Ferrari No 1 Michael Schumacher.

In 2007, Felipe Massa was guilty of allowing Kimi Raikkonen to overtake and win with team orders. Remember Red Bull telling Mark Webber not to overtake Sebastian Vettel at Silverstone.

These team orders caused an uproar, as if this were the first time that anything like this has ever happened. However, in the East there was barely a ripple. And there is a good reason why this is the case, and it has its roots in cultural diversity.

Look around the world and everywhere in the West there are uprisings. Many reasons for the protests, including religious, financial, territorial, political and so on. However, much has to do with the “rights” of the individual. People are fighting to do what they want, when they want, and how they want. Irrespective of what this might do to the people around them. It is a fairly selfish attitude that comes through.

The driver who benefits from the team orders, does so at the expense of the other driver. Personal freedom is being denied. And when personal freedom is denied in the West, you have all the makings for revolt. Harken back to Barrichello, Massa and Webber. The motoring media was in a frenzy, and it was put forward that the reason for the frenzy was because the FIA rules forbade the practice of team orders. This directive had come subsequently after the 2002 season, and read, “Team Orders that could influence the outcome of a race” were banned in F1 regulations.

However, this in turn brought out the inventive nature of human beings. Messages such as “Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understand that message?” being given to Massa, obviously being an attempt at a “code”, but not a code of conduct! Even more secret codes began to be used. Instructions to turn down engines, or to save fuel became the way to continue the practice of team orders.

So what could be done about it? Was there a way the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) could police this? The simple answer was again, no. The FIA, an organization that has rarely covered itself in glory, then responded by lifting the ban on team orders. There, that should fix it. But it hasn’t and didn’t, simply because of the sanctity of the rights of the individual human beings, which is held very high in the West. “Team orders” is considered a form of cheating, and every society frowns on cheating.

But what about the mystic East? Ah, things are quite different here. The family unit is close-knit and based on seniority. There is an acceptance of one’s “place” in the family structure. If the nominally ‘superior’ person tells you to jump, the response is never “Why?” but rather “How high?”

That familial model then becomes integrated in the societal one. Seniority is known, understood and adhered to. Even in such mundane situations as who pays at the restaurant, the most senior picks up the tab. There is no such thing as “going Dutch” in Asia, as there is in Holland.

Bringing that style of behavior to the race track produces no angst if driver B is told that driver A is faster than he is. Through the principles of seniority, driver B will automatically cede his position. And what is more, the Asian media would consider this normal, logical and honorable and make no comment.

So, should we ban team orders again? Or just learn to live with it? The answer is not difficult. The policing of a ban on team orders is really quite impossible to do. There will always be ways around the problem, so the motor racing fraternity should just continue, as it has done for decades, allowing the team to decide just who finishes where. And the drivers should take on board a little of the Asian ways.

What did we learn from the Bahrain GP?

Well, we learned that the Mercedes juggernaut can be stopped. From a front row lockout to second and third on the podium is not what Mercedes expected. Especially as they were even forced to stage manage their drivers with team orders. But it was all to no avail. Sebastian Vettel in his Ferrari was not to be caught.

The Bahrain Grand Prix has not previously been known for excitement, but this time there were Safety Cars, intense dicing through the pack, accidents, five second penalties and McLaren becoming the laughing stock of F1.

Van Doorne’s McLaren did make it to the grid, but then had to return to the pits with a water problem which could not be fixed (old proverb: You can lead a horse to drink, but you can’t make it water). How much do these cars cost? And they didn’t know about this water problem? I have this gut feeling that McLaren knew, but under the terms of their contract had to present the car on the grid.

They might as well have done the same with Alonso’s McLaren, with their star driver moaning, “How they can overtake me? 300 meters behind me, and they overtake me on the straight,” he said. “I’ve never raced with less power in my life.” His swapping Monaco for the Indy 500 is a no-brainer. He will also give the American roundy-roundy boys a shake-up.

But back to the race. With Bottas, the Mercedes Number 2 (there’s no such thing as “equal” Number 1’s), taking pole position it was heralded in many quarters as the beginning of the end of the Hamilton domination.

The usual scramble for positions on the first lap with Vertsappen (Red Bull) setting new standards for bravery, passing Raikkonen (Ferrari) and his team mate Ricciardo to slot in behind Hamilton who had been passed by Vettel (Ferrari).

The top five spent the first dozen laps watching and waiting, but Bottas was having tyre problems, so Ferrari took the advantage of pitting Vettel early, only for a safety car period to ensue and frantic pit work was in order for everyone else, with Mercedes double-stacking their cars.

This was a mistake by the pit wall, compounded by Hamilton who slowed down to try and eliminate waiting behind Bottas, but held up Ricciardo so blatantly that the stewards gave Hamilton a five second penalty.

Verstappen’s new tyres were to no avail either as he suffered from a rear brake failure on the next lap and parked it in the wall.

The field bunched up, so some drivers took the opportunity to run into each other, with Carlos Sainz (Jnr) in the Toro Rosso attempting to T-bone Lance Stroll (Williams). Very successfully with Sainz going home with a bent car and a three place grid penalty for the next GP in Russia. Stroll, as we all know has a very wealthy father bank-rolling his F1 debut, so they will either repair his Williams or Daddy will buy him a new one.

The Williams garage actually did well with Felipe Massa who toured round successfully, ending up sixth. A great result for the old pensioner.

Perez (FIndia), Grosjean (Haas) and Hulkenberg (Renault) were the next three cars home after race-long tussles.

An enthralling GP. Let us hope Russia (April 30) is as good.


1 Sebastian Vettel            Ferrari

2 Lewis Hamilton              Mercedes

3 Valtteri Bottas               Mercedes

4 Kimi Raikkonen              Ferrari +

5 Daniel Ricciardo            Red Bull

6 Felipe Massa                 Williams

7 Sergio Perez                 Force India

8 Romain Grosjean           Haas

9 Nico Hulkenberg            Renault

10 Esteban Ocon              Force India

11 Pascal Wehrlein           Sauber +1 lap

12 Daniil Kvyat                 Toro Rosso +1 lap

13 Jolyon Palmer              Renault +1 lap

Did not start

Stoffel Vandoorne            McLaren

Did not finish

Max Verstappen               Red Bull

Lance Stroll                     Williams

Carlos Sainz                   Toro Rosso

Kevin Magnussen            Haas

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked how well do you know your Fords? How many Model A Fords did Henry build? A bit of a trick question, as there were two distinct “Model A”, and the 1903 – 1904 Model A with a total run of around1700.


Quiz car.

So to this week. What cars were built in a disused locomotive factory, with no road access?

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

Update April 16, 2017

F1 in Bahrain this weekend

Bahrain GP.

The third round of the F1 championships will be held at Bahrain this weekend, following on from Australia and China (last weekend).

The first Bahrain Grand Prix took place on 4 April 2004, making history as the first Formula One Grand Prix to be held in the Middle East. Bahrain fought off fierce competition from elsewhere in the region to stage the race, with Egypt, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates all hoping for the prestige of hosting a Formula One Grand Prix, and had the necessary cash to fund the entry.

The Bahrain Grand Prix is usually the third race on the Formula One calendar, apart from the 2006 season, when Bahrain swapped places with the traditional opener, the Australian Grand Prix, which was pushed back to avoid a clash with the Commonwealth Games. In 2009, Bahrain was moved to the fourth race. For the 2010 season Bahrain was again the season opener and Formula One cars drove the full 6.299 km (3.914 mi) "Endurance Circuit" to celebrate F1's 'diamond jubilee'. For 2011, however, F1 was set to return to racing on the original layout used between 2004 and 2009. The race was postponed and finally cancelled due to protests in the country but F1 returned to the track for the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix. 2014 saw the track host its first ever Grand Prix under lights, as the race was scheduled as a night race to celebrate the tenth year of Formula 1 at the circuit. The Bahrain Grand Prix of 2015 was also held at night.

The race will be televised at 10 p.m. Thai time and we will be watching in Jameson’s Irish Pub (next to Nova Park) in front of the big screen in an area reserved for the F1 enthusiasts.

Autonomous cars

Read an interesting article in an Engineering and Technology magazine (thanks Ken) where they posed some interesting questions. Do the cars of the future herald

No Driver

No Decisions

No Drama

No Fun

I must admit that the autonomous concept does not fill me with enthusiasm. I have been an ardent “driver” for too long. I have enjoyed my cars and driving them, right through to the fun involved in racing them. With my first race being in 1965, one would imagine that the “fun” factor would be diminished by now. But it’s not.

Looking into the future, I can see that autonomous cars are inevitable, but it amazes me that many of the illustrations are of “drivers” sitting there without a steering wheel. When the technology is sophisticated enough, then surely the old vis-à-vis will be the preferred seating arrangement, as after all, the driver is a bunch of 01 codes in a nice electronic box under the dashboard.

With no steering wheel or pedals, the manufacturers can now devise ways to make the interior environment safer for the occupants. Road accidents, we are told, will become very rare, and with a safety-designed interior, road deaths will become even less.

Interestingly, I came across a recent interview with Bob Lutz best remembered as the driving force behind the Chevy Volt and for the quotation “Global warming is a crock of sh*t.” He was asked about the future of autonomous cars.


Bob Lutz

A: As much as one side of me deplores it because I love to drive, when you look at the skills of the average driver, and the reaction times, and the incidence of alcohol and drug use as a factor in accidents, and the amount of national productive time that’s wasted in traffic jams, it is time to find a different solution.

Q: So what’s a driving enthusiast to do?

A: They will have to go to private racetracks. They’re springing up like golf courses. Those will be nice because they’ll be unfettered by regulations, since they’re not on public highways, and they will be the equivalent of riding stables and dude ranches now.

That fits well with me as on certain weekends I will be taking my manual everything Mk1 Ford Escort for a run around the Bira circuit.

What did we learn from the Chinese Grand Prix?

What did we learn? Well, the first thing we learned was that the smog in Shanghai was so bad the helicopter couldn’t land on the hospital’s helipad. Cancel practice till the visibility improves. The respiratory ward was full.

Much air-play about how nobody knew how the cars would perform and it would be a lottery. That was just BS to increase the tension. The F1 circus had thousands of km of preseason qualifying plus a full scale meeting in Australia two weeks ago. There was no lottery.

Well deserved winner was Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) with a lights to flag victory, who never looked like relinquishing his lead. He must have drawn the winning lottery ticket!

Second was Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) who’s (slightly) possible challenge was thwarted by his own team mate Kimi Raikkonen who was not going to move over, while he complained loud and long that he was having car troubles and the air was dirty. When Vettel eventually got past, it was too late. A “team” approach would have seen Vettel challenge Hamilton on a straight fight. As it was, Raikkonen finished fifth. Kimi was not a happy chappie, but then he very often comes across as Team Grumpy these days.

Third was the stroppy Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull) who drove very well to come from 17th grid slot to a narrow hold on third, not giving an inch to his team mate Ricciardo who ended up fourth. I predict some tears between these two as each tries to be the team’s alpha driver.

Sixth, with his copy book well and blotted, was Valtteri Bottas (the “other” Mercedes) who managed to spin all by himself while warming up his tyres. More of those and the real powers that be will tear up his one year contract.

The other driver who impressed was Carlos Sainz (Jnr) who came in seventh in the Toro Rosso, and last one on the same lap as Hamilton.

Eighth was Magnussen in the Haas, just by keeping his nose clean, for once!

The final points went to FIndia with Perez and Ocon lucking their way to 9th and 10th with five retirements which otherwise would have beaten them.

Many eyes were on the rookies Giovinazzi (Sauber) and Stroll (Williams). Unfortunately, the Italian managed to crash at the same spot in qualifying and in the race. He won’t have endeared himself to the cash-strapped Sauber management with his Shanghai performance.

And the cash-rich Stroll found himself knocked out of the race on the first lap after a respectable qualifying in 10th position. His team mate is Felipe Massa who finished second last, after being as high as 6th in the early staged of the race. Yes, Felipe, 67 laps is probably just a little too far these days.

What this race did show was that the DRS made precious little difference, so hopefully the FIA will get rid of the contrived “aid” to overtaking. Do it now, before Liberty does it! Overtaking is possible, ask Verstappen.


1 L Hamilton Mercedes

2 S Vettel Ferrari

3 M Verstappen Red Bull

4 D Ricciardo Red Bull

5 K Raikkonen Ferrari

6 V Bottas Mercedes

7 C Sainz Toro Rosso

8 K Magnussen Haas - 55 laps

9 S Perez Force India - 55 laps

10 E Ocon Force India - 55 laps

11 R Grosjean Haas - 55 laps

12 N Hulkenberg Renault - 55 laps

13 J Palmer Renault - 55 laps

14 F Massa Williams - 55 laps

15 M Ericsson Sauber - 55 laps


F Alonso McLaren Driveshaft - 33 laps

D Kvyat Toro Rosso Hydraulics - 18 laps

S Vandoorne McLaren Fuel problem - 17 laps

A Giovinazzi Sauber Accident - 3 laps

L Stroll Williams Accident  - 0 lap

Looking for a raise?

Looking for a raise, or even an increase in base salary? Then join Ford now.

Ford Motor Co. paid president and CEO Mark Fields $22,102,498 in total compensation in 2016, more than $3 million above what he earned in 2015.

Fields’ 2016 paycheck is shy of the $23,204,534 that former CEO Alan Mulally made in 2013, his last full year at Ford.

The nearly 19 percent jump Fields saw last year can be explained by an increased base salary, stock awards and an increase in pension value, which grew from $858,157 in 2015 to $2,845,003 in 2016. The company does not control pension values, which vary from year to year due to changes in interest rates and government-issued mortality tables.

Fields, 56, who became Ford’s president and CEO in 2014, earned a base salary in 2016 of $1,787,500, up $37,500 or 2.1 percent from the year before. His total compensation included a $2,736,000 bonus for meeting performance targets in five different segments of the company.

According to Ford’s proxy statement, which was released Friday, the automaker paid $288,965 for Fields’ use of a private airplane.

If you are stuck in the GM salary bin, then don’t worry, you are in good hands. GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra earned total compensation of $28.59 million in 2015, up nearly 77 percent from 2014, due mostly to a one-time stock option grant aimed at retaining senior executives. She received $7.3 million in compensation (including salary, a short-term incentive plan payout and stock equity awards that vested) in 2015, up from $4.5 million in 2014.

Now I know these CEO’s are the nominal heads of huge corporations, but are they worth over 20 million a year? Really?


Last week I wrote about a delivery van based on a Morris chassis and bodywork to resemble a vacuum cleaner. What firm was this? Easy one, it was Electrolux (not Hoover!).

So to this week. How well do you know your Fords? How many Model A Fords did Henry build?

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

Update April 9, 2017

Chinese GP this weekend

The Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai is this weekend. After an interesting race in the season opener in Melbourne with Ferrari getting a clever win, we sincerely hope that the close competition will continue. On a circuit where passing is possible, it will be interesting to see just how the passing king Max Verstappen will go with his Red Bull.


The race will start at 1 p.m. Thai time on Sunday, and we watch the huge screen at Jameson’s! Jameson’s is right next to Nova Park, if you are unsure. Get there at noon for lunch and an ale or three.

The history of the Grand Prix is interesting, where the GP has had problems from day 1. The race debuted on 26 September 2004, and was won by Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello. The following year, it hosted the final round of the Formula One championship, in which the newly crowned world champion Fernando Alonso won and claimed the constructor's title for Renault. In 2006, the Chinese Grand Prix was won by Michael Schumacher - his last victory in Formula One.

In November 2008 the BBC reported a senior race official, Qiu Weichang, as suggesting that the loss-making race might be cancelled (as Singapore and Malaysia at present). Following a similar announcement about the French Grand Prix, Qiu Weichang said that the race's future was under consideration, and a decision would be made in 2009.

2010 came and went with no formal announcement of an extension to the initial seven race deal struck in 2004. However, immediately after the 2010 Shanghai race Bernie Ecclestone, who managed the contracts with the various circuits, said of the 2011 calendar, “We are not dropping anything. [It's] 20 races - getting ready for 25.”

It was only in February 2011 that a deal was agreed between F1 and the organizers of the Chinese round of the world championship. Reasons for the delay appear to have been over the fee paid to F1 to host the race. After racking up losses year after year, the organizers of the race refused to pay the fee required, reported to be amongst the highest paid to host an F1 race. F1 bosses appear to have reduced the fee and the new agreement to host an F1 race runs to 2017. What happens now with Bernie out of the equation and the new owners of F1 in charge? Watch this space.

38th Bangkok International Motor Show

Report from our roving Editor Chris Nixon

The 38th Bangkok International Motor Show (opened last week) at the IMPACT Exhibition Centre. With a vast, glamorous display of new vehicles and estimated attendance of 1.5 million visitors it promises to be the best show yet.

The show has attracted 30 car makers and 12 motorcycle makers plus hundreds of accessory and aftermarket stands selling everything from audio systems, to sports wheels and enough car-cleaning products to polish the exhibits in the IMPACT center 100 times over.

As always, luxury and premium bands draw the most attention. Mercedes-Benz and BMW both have massive displays, which an informed source estimated cost each more than 100 million Baht, amounts seemingly at odds to their sales when compared to those of the volume brands.

BMW showed the 5 Series sedan, while Mercedes-Benz showcased its “EQ” hybrid vehicles, ranging from the S-Class to the C-Class and M-Class SUV. But the AMG high performance versions, so popular in many countries, surprisingly is not present.



Audi also is back at the show this year with renewed vigor following a change of national distributor.

Supercars, concepts and new releases among the bread-and-butter most people actually buy are what make motor shows so exciting and the 38th BIMS doesn’t disappoint.

Assisted by Miss Universe Thailand 2016, Chalita ‘Namtan’ Suansane, Rolls-Royce made the south-east Asia debut of the magnificent Wraith Black Badge coupe. It’s unlike any Rolls we’ve seen, but alas, already displayed a “sold” sign in the window. Two Rolls-Royce convertibles and a sedan were also displayed.

The Wraith Black Badge is said to appeal to a younger, more assertive customer - rule breakers and the disruptors, those who work hard in the day but commit the same intensity to play once darkness falls. With 624bhp from its twin-turbocharged V12, it is also the most powerful Rolls-Royce model to date, capable of accelerating from 0-100km/h in just 4.5 seconds.

Sports car fans enjoy a triple treat, with three of the world’s latest direct from the recent Geneva motor show – the Lamborghini Huracan Performante, McLaren 720 and Aston Martin DB11.

The world’s fastest four seater

The Bentley Continental Supersports is claimed to be the world's fastest four-seat car, weighing two tonnes and having a top speed of 336 km/h. To try and put the 336 kays in perspective, I have done 300 km/h in a Lola Formula 5000 (Chev V8 power) and it was blisteringly fast, with corners rushing up so fast you had problems keeping the concentration up. How is Joe Moneybags Blow going to cope at that speed? Simple answer – he can’t. So what is the point of all these incredibly quick supercars?

Bentley Continental Supersports.

The big two-door sports car was presented at the Australian F1 Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne, making it not only the most powerful and expensive Bentley Continental ever offered, it is also the last in the current line that stretches back to 2004.

In what signals the start of a new era at the Volkswagen-owned, iconic British-based luxury car-maker, an all-new Continental is expected to be shown at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

This current VW will have a production run of only 710 cars, following in the now current tradition with exclusive cars, by setting deliberately few examples.

The price for the new Supersports has risen A$84,320 from the A$485,200 GT Speed to A$569,522, while the convertible version is more expensive again at A$626,474, which is a A$92,074 increase over its predecessor. (Multiply by 26 to get an approximate baht figure, while forgetting about the 300 percent duty you pay on bringing a car in to Thailand.)

The engine is the 6 liter W12 Volkswagen derived unit fitted with bigger turbos and other new hardware in the 6.0-litre W12 twin-turbo engine, which propels the leviathan to complete the zero to 100 km/h sprint in 3.4 seconds.

Having got to the top of 336 km/h, the new Supersports has what Bentley claim to be the biggest brakes of their type on any production car, being 420 mm carbon-ceramic discs inside the 21 inch forged alloys.

According to the blurb, other external styling changes include unique front and rear bumpers with carbon-fiber splitter and diffuser respectively, along with other carbon-fiber and black-finished trim bits such as side vents.

The grille and side vents have a dark chrome effect while the headlights and tail-lights come with a smoked-glass finish

A carbon-fiber rear wing spoiler can be included, along with a lightweight titanium exhaust pipe, should the buyer wish.

A torque vectoring system, previously employed on the Continental GT3 R, has been included as standard equipment while the suspension has been tweaked to handle the extra speed.

The Supersports' vectoring system brakes individual wheels in an out of corners while maintaining full power to other wheels to help the car track evenly around the corners

The all-wheel drive system is normally biased 60 percent to the rear wheels.

The interior features quilted seats and door trims in a diamond stitch pattern, along with a carbon-fiber checkered design on the dash. Nine other finishes are available from the standard list, while Mulliner's bespoke services offer almost endless other options.

The air is electric in China

German giant Mercedes-Benz recently unveiled plans for its line of electric cars to be called 'EQ' and announced plans for manufacturing in Germany and China - the latter already the world's largest EV (electric vehicle market).

But there’s a blown fuse with Chinese brand Chery which has told trademark regulators it has been selling its 'eQ' two-door electric car for two years.

While Mercedes has filed its own EQ trademark application, Chery has lodged a formal complaint.

“If it (Mercedes-Benz) entered the Chinese market, it would impact our trademark rights,” a Chery spokesperson confirmed. "Mercedes Benz EQ and our (eQ) are extremely similar. Their product is also an electric car."

Apart from confirming it has lodged trademark applications for EQ, a statement from Mercedes-Benz said it had no further information.

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 April 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 will have been 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 specials, washed down with a few beers. 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)!


Last week I asked which British F1 world champion driver became the technical director of a car manufacturer in the UK, assembling German cars? It was Mike Hawthorn and it was the Fuldamobils.

So to this week. It was a delivery van based on a Morris chassis and bodywork to resemble a vacuum cleaner. What firm was this?

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

Update April 2, 2017

38th Bangkok International Motor Show

The major Motor Show in Bangkok Thailand is open up to the 9th of April, at the Challenger Hall, Impact Arena.

This show is a must for anyone contemplating a new car, as the opportunity to compare is so easy.

Among the cars on display there is the Audi R8 Coupé V10 which can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds and keep going to its maximum speed of 330 km/h. Will it fit in your garage? The Audi R8 Coupé is 4.42 meters long and 1.94 meters wide.

One manufacturer which uses the Motor Show to its full extent is BMW and the BMW Group Thailand has unveiled a parade of new vehicles, led by the BMW 740Le xDrive Pure Excellence – powered by BMW TwinPower Turbo and an electric motor – and the BMW M760Li xDrive Model V12 Excellence along with new 3 Series arrivals in the BMW 320d M Performance, BMW 320d GT Sport, and BMW 320d GT Luxury. However, BMW will be highlighting the 7th generation of the BMW 5 Series, which is designed under BMW Efficient Dynamics concept. As a result, the vehicle is lighter by 100 kgs while the overall performance is increased and is fully equipped with safety and driving assist features.

BMW 760Li x.

Honda Automobile (Thailand) Co., Ltd., has the launch of the all-new Honda Civic 5-door hatchback that reflects a true sports premium identity with a sporty design along with a new level of versatility. It is powered by a 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo engine.

The Jaguar F-PACE, which is designed, engineered, and manufactured in the UK, has seen impressive sales results worldwide. The new family sports car is the company's fastest selling Jaguar ever. The F-PACE is the latest new model from the Jaguar stable following the critically acclaimed launches of the XE and XF. The F-PACE follows the Jaguar XE, Range Rover Evoque, Discovery Sport and Jaguar XF in adopting the award-winning Ingenium engine. Manufactured at the company's £500mn Engine Manufacturing Centre, which recently celebrated its one year anniversary, the four cylinder diesel engine in F-PACE achieves 57.7mpg!

Jaguar F Pace.

Mercedes-Benz Thailand extended its leading pace in the premium car segment by unveiling the new E-Class Coupé as the latest addition to Mercedes-Benz E-Class portfolio. After the remarkable success of the 10th generation of the E-Class, in Contemporary Luxury Sedan category launched last year, this new 2-door 4-seater sport coupé brings out its passenger comfort to the fullest as it is bigger than its predecessor in all dimensions and comes with new technologies for a greater level of emotive driving pleasure and comfort, thanks to a nicely-balanced combination of powerful, sporty engine and advanced technology.

Mercedes-Benz C Class.

Customers anticipating to attend the motor show should look for Niche Group’s display with the top two vehicles including the Lamborghini Huracan Perfomante from Italy and McLaren 720 S from the United Kingdom. The McLaren had its debut in Geneva International Motor Show earlier this month, receiving a lot of praise from the motor sport world.

McLaren 720 S.

At the other end of the scale, Nissan is showing the completely new Nissan Note eco-car. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Thus, the sales volume is expected to be a great figure during the show. Especially when the consumers have a chance to see the real car before making their decision. Continuing its eco car leadership, Nissan Motor (Thailand) Co., Ltd., launched the all-new Nissan Note, its third eco car model boasting many class-leading safety technology innovations, and is producing great interest at the lower end of the markets.

What did we learn from the Australian GP?

What did we learn from the Australian Grand Prix? Well, we learned that this year Mercedes is not unbeatable and Ferrari is resurgent. We also saw that Hamilton (Mercedes) can make some incorrect decisions and his team mate Bottas can certainly rattle Hamilton’s cage.

From Vettel’s (Ferrari) point of view, it was a straight forward race. When the lights went out, he moved into a very comfortable second place and shadowed Hamilton, forcing the British driver to come in early for fresh tyres, hoping he could shake off Vettel. He didn’t, but rather the opposite, coming out from the pits and then getting stuck behind Verstappen (Red Bull), known to be a tenacious driver, but the Red Bull was at least a second a lap slower than the Mercedes.

Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne said, “It was about time. I am delighted for the team and for our Tifosi who stood by us throughout this whole period. We've been waiting for this victory for almost a year and a half. Hearing the Italian national anthem again was very moving.”

Second Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas finished in third, behind Hamilton, and there were many who felt that he was following team orders after he had closed up and to then mysteriously drop back from Hamilton, who was getting progressively slower.

The second Ferrari driver, Kimi Raikkonen, had a lonely race to fourth and appeared to be having one of his ‘off’ days.

Consternation in the Red Bull pits as local hero Daniel Ricciardo stopped on the warm-up lap, with the gearbox jammed in 6th gear. Frantic work got him out again, but two laps down. With no hope of getting on to the podium, his car stopped again on lap 17.

His team mate Verstappen came in a solid fifth after pitting for new tyres, and was comfortably able to stay ahead of Hamilton at the early stage of the race.

You never saw him on the telecast, but the old war-horse Felipe Massa (Williams) stroked it through to sixth with no drama. The same could not be said of his team mate the young Lance Stroll who has spent just too much time parked in the walls. He undoubtedly has talent, but is not ready for F1. The similarity to Maldonado is obvious.

The Force India’s and Toro Rosso’s kept each other honest, with the last points scorer being Ocon’s Force India. A good race for the rookie.

Mention must be made of Alonso’s sterling drive in the underpowered McLaren, getting as high as tenth before more engine maladies, and Giovinazzi, the Sauber reserve driver finishing 12th in his maiden race.

It was an entertaining Grand Prix and showed that Ferrari has caught up with the Mercedes development during the off season. No contentious stewards decisions ensued, getting back to the days where the stewards were the judges of fact in disputes, rather than the heavy handed arbiters of rules as they were last year.


1 Vettel                Ferrari   1:24.11.670

2 Hamilton          Mercedes            +9.9

3 Bottas               Mercedes            +11.2

4 Raikkonen        Ferrari +               +22.3

5 Verstappen      Red Bull               +28.8

6 Massa               Williams               +83.3

7 Perez Force India          +1 lap

8 Sainz   Toro Rosso         +1 lap

9 Kvyat Toro Rosso         +1 lap

10 Ocon               Force India          +1 lap

11 Hulkenberg    Renault +1 lap

12 Giovinazzi      Sauber   +2 laps

13 Vandoorne    McLaren              +2 laps

Did not finish

14 Alonso            McLaren

15 Magnussen    Haas

16 Stroll               Williams

17 Ricciardo        Red Bull

18 Ericsson          Sauber

19 Palmer            Renault

20 Grosjean        Haas

The next race is in China, 9th April.

Engineering laws

This is the second half of the list of engineering laws. Thank you Chris from the Pattaya Car Club for making these available to us. There are many more items past Newton’s Law.

Kettering’s Law - Logic is only an organized way of going wrong consistently.

Kipling’s Law - If you can keep your head when all those about you are losing theirs, then you are out of touch with the situation.

Kissinger’s Law - Merely because an individual displayed all the classical signs and symptoms of Paranoia, it does not mean that nobody was out to get him anyway.

The Nixon Principle - Being caught is the only unforgivable crime.

Mecken’s Law - There is always an easy answer to every human problem - neat, plausible - and wrong.

Murphy’s Law (American); Sod’s Law (UK)

(1) If anything can go wrong, it will.

(2) Nothing is as easy as it looks.

(3) If things can't get any worse, they will.

(4) Everything takes longer than you think it will.

(5) If things seem to be getting better, you have overlooked something.

O’Toole’s Corollary – That Murphy’s a fekin’ optimist.

Patrick’s Theorem - If it works, you must be using the wrong equipment.

The Peter Principle - In any hierarchy, each individual tends to rise to the level of their incompetence.

Pudder’s Law - Anything that begins well will end badly. (NB The converse is not true.)

Recovery Principle - The accessibility of any small parts dropped from the working area varies directly with the size of the part, and inversely with its importance to the completion of the work in progress.

Robinson Crusoe’s Law - I am the only man ever to get all my work done by Friday.

Rudin’s Law - In any crisis which forces a choice to be made between several alternative courses of action, it is only natural to make the worst possible choice.

Ryan’s Law - Make three consecutive correct guesses and your reputation as an expert will be established.

Sattingler’s Law - It works better when you have plugged it in.

Store’s Principle - Supplies needed for yesterday's work will not be ordered before noon tomorrow.

Thyme’s Law - Everything goes wrong at once.

The Tribologist’s Rule - Despite the efforts of OPEC, and irrespective of the company accountant's views, Oil is still cheaper than repairs.

The Universal Law - If it happens, it must be possible.

Uppert’s Law – Where circumstances offer two or more possible courses of action, the most cynical will be the correct one.

Weiler’s Law - Nothing is impossible to the man who doesn't have to do the work.

Whitehead’s Law - The obvious answer is always overlooked.

Wilcox’s Laws –

(1) A pat on the back is only inches away from kick up the ass.

(2) If you are keeping your ear to the ground, you are properly placed for a kick up the ass.

Woodward’s Law - Any theory is better than its explanation.


Last week I said think about the Honda Step Bus Concept, the Saab 900, School busses and almost all Cadillacs from 1954–1959. I asked what did these four have in common in their design? They all had vertical A pillars.

So to this week. Which British F1 world champion driver became the technical director of a car manufacturer in the UK, assembling German cars?

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

Update March 25, 2017

Vale John Surtees

John Surtees CBE.

John Surtees, winner of the 1964 Formula One World Championship and the only person to have won the championship titles on both two and four wheels, died two weeks ago at the age of 83.

Surtees was initially known for his skill as a motorcycle winning the 500 cc world championship in 1956, 1958, 1959 and 1960 before switching to Formula One and claiming the historic title four years later.

The Surtees name continued in motor sport with his son Henry racing in Formula II, who was sadly killed in a freak accident in 2009 at the Brands Hatch circuit when a wheel came adrift from another competitor and struck young Surtees on the head.

The sad news was confirmed by his family in a statement issued by the Henry Surtees Foundation. “John Surtees, ‪83, was admitted to St Georges Hospital, London in February with an existing respiratory condition and after a short period in intensive care he passed away peacefully this afternoon. His wife, Jane and daughters, Leonora and Edwina were by his side.

“John was a loving husband, father, brother and friend. He was also one of the true greats of motorsport and continued to work tirelessly up until recently with The Henry Surtees Foundation and Buckmore Park Kart Circuit.

“We deeply mourn the loss of such an incredible, kind and loving man as well as celebrate his amazing life. He has set a very real example of someone who kept pushing himself at his peak and one who continued fighting until the very end.

“We would like to thank all the staff at St George’s Hospital and The East Surrey Hospital for their professionalism and support during this difficult time for us. Thank you also to all of those who have sent their kind messages in recent weeks.

John Surtees was also in receipt of the CBE, but did not actively pursue elevation to a Knighthood, despite on-line petitioning by enthusiasts to the British government.

Laws for Engineers

One of the members of the Pattaya Car Club is a very well read chap, with a wealth of engineering knowledge. He asked if I had read the Laws for Engineers. As I professed ignorance, he enlightened me, and now I am pleased to do the same for you.

Lord Acton’s Law - Power tends to corrupt, Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Albrecht’s Law - Social innovations tend to the level of minimum tolerable well-being.

Allen’s Axiom - When all else has failed, it is time to read the instructions.

Archimedes Second Principle - When a body is completely immersed in water, the 'phone will ring.

Carlson’s Consolation - Nothing is ever a complete failure, it can always serve as a bad example.

Cheop’s Law - No major construction project will ever be completed on schedule, or within the budget.

Cheop’s Second Law - If the changes to a project are not carefully controlled, then the rate of change will easily exceed the rate of progress.

Cheop’s Third Law - Progress will be maintained until the project is 90 percent complete, after that there will be no improvement, however much time or money is expended. (Does this sound like the Pattaya Tunnel?)

Clarke’s Law - By definition, if you are examining the unknown you can have no expectation of what you will find.

Clarke’s Second Law - Great discoveries or key inventions are made by doing what all the experts or respected authorities agree is impossible.

Clarke’s Third Law - Any sufficiently advanced technology will be indistinguishable from magic.

Cohn’s Law - The more time you spend in reporting on what you are doing, the less time you have to do anything. Equilibrium is achieved when you spend all your time reporting on the nothing you have been doing.

Correspondence Corollary - An experiment may be considered a success if no more than half the data obtained must be discarded to obtain correspondence with your pet theory.

Cropp’s Law - The amount of work done varies inversely with the amount of time spent in the office.

Cutler Webster Law - There are two sides to every argument, unless you are personally involved - then there is only one.

The Elephantine Rules - Getting anything done in this office is like the mating of elephants:

(a) Everything takes place at a high level.

(b) It is all accompanied by trumpeting, screaming and upheaval.

(c) It takes two years to produce any results.

Finagle’s Law - (1) Once a job is fouled up, anything done to improve it will only make things worse.

(2) No matter what results are required, someone will always be ready to fake them.

(3) No matter what results are obtained, someone will always misinterpret them.

(4) No matter what occurs, everyone believes that it happened according to his own pet theory.

Gigo Law (computing) - Garbage In gives Garbage Out.

Gumperson’s Law - The probability of a given event occurring is inversely proportional to its desirability.

Harvard’s Law - Under the most carefully controlled conditions of pressure, temperature, humidity and all other variables, the system will perform as it damn well pleases.

Horner’s Postulate - Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.

Hubbard’s Law - Life should not be taken too seriously, you will not get out of it alive.

More next week!

The F1 Circus starts again

The F1 Circus begins this weekend in Melbourne, with the new cars for the 2017 season. With wider tyres and different aero packages, it is expected that lap times will be quicker, but passing will be more difficult. The testing has indicated that Ferrari may be the one to beat, though it is always difficult to compare test times with race times.

Final Day Timesheet:

1) Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, supersoft tyres, 1:18.634

2) Max Verstappen, Red Bull, supersoft tyres, 1:19.438

3) Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, ultrasoft tyres, 1:19.837

4) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, supersoft tyres, 1:19.845

5) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, ultrasoft tyres, 1:19.850

6) Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, ultrasoft tyres, 1:19.885

7) Sergio Perez, Force India, ultrasoft tyres, 1:20.116

8) Jolyon Palmer, Renault, supersoft tyres, 1:20.205

9) Lance Stroll, Williams, soft tyres, 1:20.335

10) Romain Grosjean, Haas, ultrasoft tyres, 1:21.110

11) Fernando Alonso, McLaren ultrasoft tyres, 1:21.389

12) Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:21.670

13) Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber, 1:24.940

Classic Car Show in Pattaya


Fanaticism is a common trait amongst car enthusiasts all over the world. This can be seen at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Goodwood Revival, held each year in the UK. And now at the Classic Car Show Saturday March 25 and Sunday March 26, in front of the Asia Hotel, Soi 4 Pratamnak.

There is a magic ingredient at these Classic car events – the ability to step back in time and re-live one’s own youth and that of one’s father and even grandfather. Modern mass-produced cars cannot produce such a feeling.

So what exactly is a “classic”? The terminology covers over 80 years of automobiles, and it is not rarity that makes for a classic. Austin 7’s are still plentiful, but if you own an Austin 7, you own a classic.

Likewise Fiat 500’s and 600’s, and in Thailand in the early 1950’s, the local agent must have made a killing, with Fiat 1100’s still around, quietly rusting in peace (RIP). If nothing else, age has elevated a humble passenger car to become a classic.

I race a classic car, a 1973 Ford Escort Mk which was initially assembled by Ford Thailand 1 but supported today by the Venue music pub at Mabprachan and the Riviera group. Every race meeting there is a queue of people wanting to be photographed with it. The Mk 1 Escorts were either their first car, or the car that they met their wife in, or other such memorable occasions.

There are many other Fords at our Classic Car Show, including Ford Mustangs, Anglias and a very early Model A. America is well represented with Dodge Hemi and Challenger, Chevrolet Impala, a Lincoln Continental and a gigantic Cadillac Fleetwood.

From Germany there are many different models of Mercedes-Benz, with the Adenauer being the most rare and expensive. Some early Porsche’s (the 356 models and designed by Dr. Porsche himself) are on show too.

Alfisti’s will delight in the different Italian GTV’s, while UK fans have MGB, Sprite and Midget, TA, TB and Jaguars, Jaguars and the jewel – a Jaguar 220, it is difficult to remember that these cars were built 25 years ago and were clocked at 340 km/h. Other British cars on show are an Armstrong Siddeley Hurricane (named after the fighter plane) and a Bentley S3.

There is even a couple of Citroens, those quirky French cars with the oleo-pneumatic suspension, but that is not all. There are 82 cars featured in the program and after the Saturday show there is a Charity BBQ starting at 6.30 p.m. with the proceeds going to a local charity caring for needy children.

On the Sunday, there will be a parade of all the classics, going from Soi 4 Pratamnak, into Pattaya and return. Many of the cars will have some of the underprivileged children as delighted passengers.

While we don’t get 150,000 people to a Classic Car meeting in Thailand, the interest is there, and every year we see more and more cars being taken out of storage to be lovingly restored to better than new condition.

Of course it costs money to restore a classic car, but if it is wanted, the financial rewards can be very high. This year, a lightweight Jaguar E-Type fetched over seven million US dollars at auction.

Not only at auction, but Jaguar themselves are building six “replicas” which are expected to command around 5 million USD. There’s money to be made in the Classic car arena.

Of course, in Thailand, we have very stringent statutes regarding the import and export of vehicles, including classics. For the classic car collector these regulations will also keep the value up. So if you are thinking of investing, now is the time. Some of the classic cars displayed today just might be for sale in the open market. The ROI (return on investment) far exceeds keeping gold bars hidden under the mattress!

Jaguar 220.

Bangkok International Motor Show

The annual Bangkok Motor Show is almost with us again. The 38th motor show will debut the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe, the New BMW 5 Series, Porsche Panamera 4S, Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge Limited Edition, etc., while there will be concept cars from the Toyota, Mitsubishi and Nissan.

The motor show opens to the public on Wednesday March 29 and runs through to Sunday April 9.



Last week I said this Japanese car could do just under the ton, did zero to 97 km/h in 8.5 seconds. They built almost 30,000 of them. What was it? The clue was in the coffee. It was the Suzuki Cappuccino.

So to this week. The Honda Step Bus Concept, the Saab 900, school busses and almost all Cadillacs from 1954–1959. What do these four have in common in their design? For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected].  Good luck!

Update March 18, 2017

Are you an Anchor with a W in front?

Bentley Bentayga.

I make no excuse for the headline. I am sure that the vast majority of readers will agree with me, that to pay $210,000 for a box for your fishing tackle is just preposterous. (If you want to order one, it is called the Fly Fishing by Mulliner.)

If that little splurge isn’t enough, how about a Breitling mechanical dash clock that sets back your average Kamnan a cool $300,000. Throw in the $55,055 Linley hamper by Mulliner and you are sure to upstage the local constabulary.

All these are extras that you can order with your Bentley Bentayga, which will set you back over 20 million baht I would guess.

Bentley claim this vehicle is an SUV, complete with 22 inch alloy wheels, a huge step up from the 21 inch wheels fitted to the standard cooking model Bentley. Two-tone paintwork is also available at an extra cost, naturally.

The special body has a Mulliner bottle cooler that features an illuminated chilling cabinet and bespoke Cumbria Crystal flutes.

A premium walnut veneer has been extensively used throughout the cabin. And to prove that money can buy you happiness, there are six mood lighting settings to help sooth, which compromise different light colors, illuminated Mulliner kick plates and Bentley welcome lamps.

The Bentayga is still powered by the (VW) 6.0 liter W12 turbocharged petrol unit that produces 447 kW and 900 Nm of torque and paired to an eight-speed auto with all-wheel drive.

If you are a music fan, the Bentayga has a sound system featuring 20 speakers powered by a 1950 watt, 21 channel amplifier. That should be enough to blow the doors off at full-woofer.

A remote controlled parking heater allows the car to be heated or cooled when the engine is switched off. However, rear window blinds and a double sun visor are extra (just put it on the bill).

The Bentley Mulliner also comes with the car maker's anti-roll technology that helps by counteracting lateral rolling while cornering to offer a more stable and peaceful ride for the passengers.

Bentley had a one-off Bentley Bentayga Mulliner on display at the 2017 Geneva motor show in March, but I doubt if they will have it transported across for us to go ooh-ahh over the fishing tackle box. I wonder if the fish are in on this as well.

About all that is missing are the solid gold-plated nasal hair clippers. The letter W and Anchor come to mind.

Classic MG’s

The MG nameplate is synonymous with classic motoring. In every enthusiasts life there has been an MG, or a lusting for one. These days they are very much collectors items, and scarcity, rather than age or performance is the reason.

How many MG’s did they build?

1924-27               14/28    440 built

1927-29               14/40 Mk IV        700

1928-32               18/80 Mk I/II      750

1929-1932           M Type Midget   3200

1930-31               18/100 Mk III      5

1931-32               C Type   43

1931-32               D Type   250

1931-32               F Type   1250

1932-34               J Type    5530

1932-34               K Type   200

1933-34               K3 Magnette       31

1933-34               L Type   575

1934-36               N Type  757

Look at the K Types, for example, with 200 being built in 1933/34, but they only built 31 of the racing version, the K3. However, the last MG (with any direct historical succession) was the MGB and they built 523,836 of those. Scarcity is not a reason for MGB’s to become collector’s items.

Chatting with Jo Klemm about the Classic Car Show on the 25th of this month reminded me about classic MG’s, of which there will be a few, plus many other marques on display at the Asia Pattaya Hotel, Soi 4 Pratamnak. If you have an interest in cars of any age, this will be the biggest event of its type seen in Pattaya.

A ‘real’ Bentley

Bentley 8L.

If you want a ‘real’ Bentley, look no further than an 8 Liter Bentley of 1930/1. These behemoths would do more than 160 kph and were the largest cars made in the UK in 1930. The cars had twin spark ignition and four valves per cylinder and servo assisted brakes all round.

Only 100 8L’s were made before Bentley Motors went bankrupt. W.O. Bentley thought that Napier would buy the company, but Rolls-Royce outbid Napier and promptly killed off the 8L’s as they were a direct competitor to the Rolls-Royces on the day.

Peugeot buys Opel

France's PSA Group (Peugeot and Citroen) has agreed to buy Opel (and its British brand Vauxhall) from General Motors for an eye-watering $2.3 billion, creating a new European car giant to challenge market leader Volkswagen group.

High finance such as this leaves me breathless. Opel has recorded 16 years of accumulated losses, but is still worth $2.3 billion?

However, PSA is confident that it can get rid of the red ledger entries and are talking about an operating margin of 2 percent within three years and 6 percent by 2026 underpinned by 1.7 billion euros in joint cost savings. (High finance-speak for retrenchments.)

PSA shares jumped as much as 5.2 percent after Chief Executive Carlos Tavares said GM's European arm could be turned around using lessons from the French group's own recovery.

Now where that puts Australia’s Holden I am not sure, as it was going to market Opels as Holdens, now that GMH shut the Holden factory in Australia.

Forget the M3 and the M5 and the M7

If you want a classic M series BMW, you can’t go wrong with an M1. They were built between 1978 and 1981, with a top speed of 260 km/h and zero to 100 km/h in 5.6 seconds.

The interesting fact with the M1 BMW was the fact that they were initially designed and built by Lamborghini. Lambo couldn’t honor their contract and so the M1 was then assembled by BMW with the chassis and bodies coming from Italy. The body itself was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, another Italian.

When you look at it, there wasn’t that much BMW in it after all.

Bangkok International Motor Show embraces technology

Motor Show “Pretties”.

(Bangkok – March 1, 2017) Grand Prix International Public Company Limited is now ready to host “The 38th Bangkok International Motor Show”, which will promote the concept of “Reach to the Planet of Technology”.

30 world leading car makers and 12 motorcycle manufacturers will join the show with their latest technology. The show will see the launching of more than 10 new models together with another 3 concept cars that represent the cutting edge automotive technology. It is believed that the event will help the Thai automotive industry to recover and is expected to stimulate the national economy at not less than 40 billion Baht. The show will be held from March 29 to April 9, 2017 at Challenger Hall 1 – 3, Impact Muang Thong Thani.

Dr. Prachin Eamlumnow, the President / CEO of Grand Prix International PLC and the Chairman of the 38th Bangkok International Motor Show revealed that the show this year is promoting technology, which is aimed to convey the unstoppable development of automotive technology and innovation.

“As usual, this year we are endorsed by our long time kind supporters, namely The Royal Automobile Association of Thailand under Royal Patronage, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Tourism & Sports, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Society of Automotive Engineers – Thailand, Thai Autoparts Manufacturers Association and the Kits and Accessory Parts of Motorcycle (Thai) Association.”

“The highlight still lie within every car and motorcycle maker. Thanks to the kind cooperation in which they are willing to come up with their new models including the latest ‘Concept Cars’. Visitors will not just have a chance to witness automobiles’ sleek and stylish design, but also able to experience numerous of new automotive innovations such as Plug-In Hybrid. A bigger number of this kind of electric powered vehicle is brought to showcase to let visitors understand how technological advance a future car for Thailand market would be.

“On behalf of the Organizer, we are confident in the uniqueness of Bangkok Motor Show. In addition to the exhibition of advance automobiles, it also creates an even livelier atmosphere for Thai auto market. Consumers are being offered an opportunity to make a decision from a wide variety of products in just one event. This is therefore the entire automotive industry is promoted and stimulated not just during the show alone but also after the show ended as well.”

Another important factor is the expiration of the first car campaign which required the owners to hold their right for five consecutive years. The campaign has been gradually ceasing since last October. As a consensus, these owners whose campaign will be soon come to its end may look for a new car in replacement of their current one. However, in what segment they are going to choose is yet unknown since they might opt for a bigger car or remain satisfied with the same segment. Plus the strictness of financial institutes to grant a loan to consumers has been reduced in order to allow them to own a car easier than the last few years.

The Bangkok International Motor Show runs from March 29 through to April 9. Plenty of cars, and even more “pretties”.


Last week I asked what car company advised its customers to start in top gear as there was “too much torque in the lower ratios for the ordinary motorist to handle.”

This was an easy one. It was the Invicta Company with the four and a half liter low chassis Black Prince.

So to this week. Something to ponder over your morning coffee. This Japanese car could do just under the ton, did zero to 97 km/h in 8.5 seconds. They built almost 30,000 of them. What was it?

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

Update March 11, 2017

A Mercedes-Benz pick-up? With free fire extinguisher

Mercedes Pick-up.

Demand in Australia for pick-ups is so strong, Mercedes has taken the unprecedented step of airfreighting a display car Down Under to give buyers an early preview - and also get their feedback from Australian tradesmen and fleets on what they want in a workhorse.

Pick-ups are very popular in Australia (as they are in Thailand) and last month pick-ups filled four of the top 10 sales spots.

Last year the Toyota HiLux was the nation’s top selling ‘car’ outright, the first time ever a pick-up has led the Australian market.

The Benz pick-up shares some of its underpinnings with the Nissan Navara following a Joint Venture with Nissan, but will have Mercedes safety and technology (and a fire extinguisher mounted on the dash). However, Mercedes will fit its own V6 diesel engine, technology and safety systems.

Mercedes will also equip the car with a wider body and track than the Navara - and have unique steering and suspension tuning - claiming it drives better than the vehicle on which it is based.

What is next from Daimler-Benz AG? A motorcycle perhaps?

The Future as designed by Peugeot

Peugeot Instinct.

The latest on the autonomous car technology is the news that the self-driving Peugeot Instinct concept adapts to the mood and schedule of its driver.

Unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the 224 kW plug-in hybrid Instinct concept is a four-seat shooting brake with clear Ferrari GTC4Lusso styling overtones and huge rear-hinged ‘suicide’ doors providing pillarless cabin access.

To do all this futurology, the clever little electro-gnomes ferret out data from the owner’s cloud accounts, smart devices, electronic schedule, social media, home automation systems and driving history to second-guess their needs and desires. Big Brother is watching you!

Combining Samsung Artik cloud computing infrastructure and data science technology from Sentiance, all information shared by and gathered about the driver is aggregated, analysed, chopped and channeled and used to turn the Instinct concept into a kind of mobile personal assistant and extension of the home or office.

Despite all the far-sighted technological thinking, the French firm has maintained human control for two of the Instinct’s four operating modes as part of its “enduring commitment to driving pleasure”.

Peugeot considers the car as a valuable information source “because it is with us throughout our day and knows our regular journeys, favorite places and how we drive”.

For example, comparing the driver’s schedule with traffic and weather data, the Instinct can advise an earlier departure time for work. And because its on-board systems are synchronized with the driver’s music streaming service, they can seamlessly pick up where they left off on the playlist they were listening to at home.

Later on, the car senses the driver had a strenuous gym session and drives them home in the restful ‘Autonomous Soft’ mode, even making sure the house lights are on when they get there. Conversely, it will encourage the driver to park a 10-minute walk from their workplace to help them stay fit.

‘Autonomous Sharp’ mode is the Instinct’s more urgent self-driving mode, with ‘Drive Boost’ letting the driver take over for some fun behind the fold-out steering wheel and retractable pedals. It even knows when they are approaching a dynamic or favorite road and switches mode appropriately.

The final mode, ‘Drive Relax’ is a halfway house in which the human is in control but assisted by features such as adaptive cruise control and auto high beam.

Even in autonomous mode, the driver can instruct the Instinct to perform certain maneuvers, such as overtaking, using a controller on the central console that Peugeot describes as an i-Device. The same controller can be used to switch driving modes at any time.

Peugeot head of strategy Aude Brille described connected devices and online services as having become “extensions of ourselves”.

“At Peugeot we have integrated this technology into our cars in increasingly simple and ergonomic ways, offering our clients a relaxed, empowering and wholly unprecedented driving experience – one that puts our clients in control of their own mobility, granting them complete autonomy,” he said.

Voice control technology can also be used to book tickets or make online purchases, in a similar way to Amazon’s Alexa service. Each of the four passengers can access their own voice control channel.

The driving seat faces a holographic instrument cluster that displays vehicle speed, drivetrain status and battery charge level and information from the various external cameras and sensors.

During autonomous travel the display switches to show distanced covered, remaining journey time and entertainment options. (For cars destined for the Middle East, there will be an arrow pointing to Mecca I would imagine.)

Peugeot head of concept cars Matthias Hossann said the Instinct “builds on the factors that have made the brand’s latest models so successful”.

“We are creating new forms of driving pleasure. These may come from the interfaces, the architecture or the styling. There is no reason why a self-driving car should be dull to look at or to experience.”

So that’s the future, according to Monsieur Peugeot. For those, like me, who have only just mastered the photocopy machine, I do not see this technology as ‘empowering’, but as being more restrictive and taking away my privacy.

Subaru to be locally assembled

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd (FHI), the manufacturer of Subaru cars, has announced plans to form a joint venture in February with TC Manufacturing and Assembly (Thailand) Ltd (TCMA TH), a subsidiary of Tan Chong International Ltd, to start production of Subaru vehicles in Thailand. The joint venture, to be set up next month, aims to begin production in 2019.

A city electric car

Information from the dynamic Automotive Focus Group is that Vera Automotive, founded on Oct 7, 2015 by five Thai engineers from King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL) is a new “Thai” Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV).

Details including the maximum speed of the Vera V1 is up to 105 kilometers an hour. It can run up to 180 km per charge, which takes six hours to complete.

Co-founder Wanchai Meesiri said all Vera cars are designed by Thai engineers under the Thai brand, but the company has hired the Chinese carmaker Geely Automotive to produce the BEVs. The company imports the cars as completely built-up (CBU) vehicles to Thailand.

The F1 season begins March 26 in Australia (Melbourne)

Australian Grand Prix       26 Mar

Chinese Grand Prix         9 Apr

Bahrain Grand Prix          16 Apr

Russian Grand Prix          30 Apr

Spanish Grand Prix          14 May

Monaco Grand Prix          28 May

Canadian Grand Prix        11 Jun

Azerbaijan Grand Prix      25 Jun

Austrian Grand Prix          09 Jul

British Grand Prix             16 Jul

Hungarian Grand Prix       30 Jul

Belgian Grand Prix            27 Aug

Italian Grand Prix              03 Sep

Singapore Grand Prix       17 Sep

Malaysian Grand Prix       01 Oct

Japanese Grand Prix         08 Oct

US Grand Prix     22 Oct

Mexican Grand Prix          29 Oct

Brazilian Grand Prix          12 Nov

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix       26 Nov

The F1 circus performers for 2017

Mercedes AMG Petronas

L. Hamilton
V. Bottas

Red Bull Racing

D. Ricciardo
M. Verstappen

Scuderia Ferrari

S. Vettel
K. Raikkonen

Sahara Force India F1

S. Perez
E. Ocon

Williams Martini Racing

L. Stroll
F. Massa

McLaren Honda

S. Vandoorne
F. Alonso

Scuderia Toro Rosso

D. Kvyat
C. Sainz Jr.

Haas F1 Team

R. Grosjean
K. Magnussen


N. Hulkenberg
J. Palmer

Sauber F1 Team

M. Ericsson
P. Wehrlein

An important date

Mercedes-Benz Gull Wing.

Pencil in Saturday March 25 for the Classic Car Show which will be held in the showgrounds in front of the Asia Pattaya Hotel, Soi 4 Pratamnak.

With over 70 cars on show, ranging from Vintage and Veteran, through to Post-Vintage Thoroughbreds and others representing classic makes such as Mercedes-Benz, Alfa Romeo, Jaguar and many more, including the Riviera/Venue sponsored Ford Escort Mk 1, the fastest of its type at the Bira circuit.

See the advert on the back page of the Pattaya Mail.

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 March 13 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).


Last week I said steam under high pressure has been successfully used for propelling vehicles. I asked who was the first designer to use this? It was Cugnot (1725 – 2 October 1804) with his steam tractor in 1769. After running a small number of trials, variously described as being between Paris and Vincennes and at Meudon, the project was abandoned. This ended the French Army's first experiment with mechanical vehicles. Even so, in 1772, King Louis XV granted Cugnot a pension of 600 livres a year for his innovative work, and the experiment was judged interesting enough for the vehicle to be kept at the Arsenal. In 1800 it was transferred to the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, where it can still be seen today. By the way, he made more than one of them!

So to this week. What car company advised its customers to start in top gear as there was “too much torque for the ordinary motorist to handle”?

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

Update March 4, 2017

Ferrari’s latest - the 812 Superfast

Ferrari 812.

The last time I remember 812 being used to designate a particular model was the supercharged Cord 812 of 1936.

This Ferrari 812 is naturally aspirated and develops 588 kW of power and 718 Nm of torque. A tad more than the Cord 812.

Acceleration from zero to 100 km/h takes just 2.9 seconds and top speed is said to be in excess of 340 km/h. The 812 is a case of Superfast by name and super-fast by nature.

The 6.5 liter V12 gets some of its power from the F1 Ferrari with a reworked direct injection system and new Formula One derived variable geometry intake tracts to increase maximum power to 588 kW at 8500 rpm and peak torque of 718 Nm at 7000 rpm, with 80 per cent of the latter available from 3500 rpm.

Compared with other exotic V12 supercars, the 812 Superfast is quicker than the 552 kW/690 Nm all-wheel-drive Lamborghini Aventador LP750-4 Superveloce – although the rear-drive Ferrari is 0.1s ‘slower’ to triple digits – and Aston Martin’s 444 kW/630 Nm Vanquish S, which takes 3.5s to hit the benchmark speed, 0.6 of a second slower.

A dedicated launch-control function will help achieve consistent times as power is fed exclusively to the rear axle before being transferred to the road via 315/35 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres.

In a first for Ferrari, the Superfast uses an electric power steering system, tuned specifically to work in unison with the suite of electronic vehicle controls including the brand’s bespoke Side Slip Control.

The 812 Superfast will also sport a new version of Ferrari’s rear-wheel steering system that was first seen on the F12 tdf – dubbed Virtual Short Wheelbase 2.0 – that increases turn-in sharpness and high-speed stability.

A new aerodynamic package will also help keep the 812 steady at high speeds, with active aero flaps incorporated in the front grille, bonnet scoops to help evacuate heat and turbulent air, and sculpted bodywork to direct airflow and increase downforce.

Bonnet intakes are also designed in conjunction with new full-LED headlights, which are incorporated into the bodywork for a sleeker look and better aerodynamics, and flow directly into the wheel arches.

In its pursuit of pure performance, Ferrari has not forgone modern conveniences, with both front and rear parking sensors, and an updated information and entertainment system with Bluetooth connectivity and voice command operations fitted.

According to Ferrari, the 812 Superfast is “an uncompromising sports car that will deliver exhilarating driving both on road and track yet also be comfortable enough to allow its owners to enjoy it as an all-round experience”.

So you want a Pagani?

Pagani Huayra.

Have you got USD 3.6 million spare and put your name down already? If no on either account, Pagani isn’t waiting for you.

According to Horacio Pagani, founder of the Italian supercar company, the new Huayra Roadster pronounced Way-rah, and named after the God of wind (but calling it F*rt would have been non-acceptable), it looks as glamorous and exotic as its USD 3.6 million price suggests it should be.

Just 100 examples of the Huayra Roadster will be built, and the company says all have already been sold - despite it costing more than twice as much as the Huayra coupe.

Just 100 models of the Huayra Roadster will be built, with all of them already sold.

The engine is a twin-turbo, 6-liter, V12 developing 754 bhp and drives the rear wheels via a seven-speed sequential manual gearbox. The company is still to release performance figures for its new model, but expect it to accelerate from 0-100 in a shade over 3 seconds and boast a top speed of around the low side of 400 km/h.

Pagani says the purchaser gets two roof styles. The first is a carbon top with a central glass section, which is removable but can’t be stored in the car. Once this is left at home, the Pagani Huayra features a fabric cover with a carbon frame that is stored on-board. Pagani says this is a temporary feature that can be used when the weather suddenly turns. As if you’ll see any Paganis on the road in the wet season.

But 3.6 million? No car is worth that.

Porsche rejigs the Panamera

Porsche Panamera.

With the motoring world turning its collective back on the Porker Panamera when it was released in 2009, this new Panamera has taken the classic 911 lines and just blown them a little bigger.

Now Porsche’s restyled Panamera is either the world’s sportiest luxury car or the world’s most luxurious sports car.

For 2017, Porsche has installed a 4 liter V8 engine, with twin turbos, that develops 550 horsepower and 567 pound-feet of torque - up from the 520 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of the earlier model.

Drive modes are Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual. Suspension modes come in similar choices.

For comfort, the seats can be heated, and adjusted in an uncountable variety of ways. They also offer a massage function, with five programs and four settings for strength, but not to be tried while traveling.

The road test car, driven by an auto journalist in America was fitted with Porsche’s optional adaptive cruise control system. In his opinion, it may be the best on the road: The Panamera eased on the brakes, then eased on the accelerator, as traffic slowed down and sped up, as seamlessly as any car I’ve ever driven - better in many ways than the celebrated Tesla Autopilot behaved during its recent test drives in the Model X.

The handling is sublime, as intuitive at slow speeds on mountain roads as at high speeds on the highway.

And the power was equally sublime, coming on sweet and strong when needed, whether in Normal, Sport or Sport Plus mode.

The relatively new Porsche eight-speed transmission transfers the power seamlessly. In paddle-shift mode, though, the shifting lacked some of the razor sharpness of the PDK paddle systems in the 911 cars.

As on other Porsches, the Panamera doesn’t offer many set-it-and-forget-it options. If you like to drive in Sport mode, you’ll have to choose that every time you get into the car. If you like the Shiatsu massage, you’ll have to scroll through a menu on the dash and select it, every time. Seat settings can be stored, but many others require fresh assignments at the beginning of every drive.

Also, the Panamera won’t win any prizes for fuel economy. The tester was not able to match the EPA-approved 25 mpg highway rate. (The Panamera also comes in a hybrid format, for owners who insist on better fuel consumption.)

But the Panamera’s 23 gallon fuel tank means that, even at the 23 mpg rate I was getting, the car could have driven almost 550 miles between fueling stops.

The new, sleeker Panamera profile still offers enough cargo space for multiple suitcases or golf bags, and enough head and leg room for multiple full-sized passengers.

Indeed, Porsche boasts that the passenger space inside the Panamera offers comfortable seating for “four 95th percentile men.”

The Panamera is the lowest-selling vehicle in the Porsche family, coming in fifth behind - in order of sales numbers - the Macan, Cayenne, 911 and Boxster-Cayman segments.

But it still represented almost 5,000 premium vehicles sold in 2015 and 4,400 sold in 2016, at the end of the run for a car whose first generation was introduced in 2009, and which has sold 150,000 units since then.

With the arrival of this second-generation update, Porsche has good reason to be optimistic about growing the Panamera’s numbers.

2017 Porsche Panamera Turbo:

Vehicle type: Four-door, five-passenger sedan

Powertrain: 4 liter, V8, turbocharged gasoline engine

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Horsepower: 550

Torque: 567 pound-feet


The JD Power group look at the number of faults recorded by various models and then ranks them. The study, which looked at problems reported in the past 12 months by owners of 2014 model-year vehicles, found an industry average of 156 problems per 100 vehicles. The previous study released in 2016 found 152 problems per 100 vehicles. As high-tech gadgetry filters down through all levels of vehicles, more problems are being registered by owners.

Instead of looking at the gloom and disaster end, here are the best in various categories, but remember this is the US marketplace:

Tops for reliability

Small car - Chevrolet Sonic

Compact car - Toyota Prius

Compact premium car - Lexus ES

Midsize car - Toyota Camry

Midsize sporty car - Chevrolet Camaro

Midsize premium car - Lexus GS

Large car - Toyota Avalon

Small SUV - Volkswagen Tiguan

Compact MPV - Toyota Prius v

Compact SUV - Toyota FJ Cruiser

Compact premium SUV - Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

Midsize pickup - Honda Ridgeline

Midsize SUV - Toyota Venza

Midsize premium SUV - Lexus RX

Minivan - Toyota Sienna

Large SUV - Chevrolet Tahoe

Large light-duty pickup - Ford F-150

Heavy-duty pickup - Chevrolet Silverado

Source: J.D. Power


Last week I said to have a look at the photo of an SUV. I asked just what was it? Of course it looked like a Hummer, but in fact was a copy car from China called the Dongfeng Crazy Soldier!

So to this week. Steam under high pressure has been successfully used for propelling vehicles. Who was the first designer to use this?

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

Update February 25, 2017

Haval starts its export push

Haval H6.

The Chinese SUV, the Haval was shown at the Bangkok Motor Show a couple of years ago, and I mentioned at the time that it did not look out of place with the run of the mill SUV’s. They even had one decked out as a Paris-Dakkar entrant.

Haval H6 is best described as an upscale, SUV, though it is also from the Chinese Great Wall brand, a nameplate not known for quality offerings, only an offshoot from the basic working-class brand Great Wall, which primarily sells utes.

Haval has been in Australia since last year with a four-model line up, although so far it has managed just 286 sales. A new H7, with more of a coupe look than a boxy SUV, is on the way.

The H6 is a Mazda CX-5-sized family wagon and both models of H6 have a 2.0 liter turbo petrol engine and front-wheel drive, with a six-speed dual-clutch Getrag gearbox.

Even the base model has all-round parking radar, a reversing camera, dual-zone auto aircon, keyless entry and start, auto lamps and wipers and 17-inch alloys.

More expensive H6’s offers bigger alloys, Xenon headlights, a sunroof and heated seats with faux leather.

The Aussie road-tester began his report by denigrating Chinese cars claiming they are underdone in quality and refinement, despite big promises and massive enthusiasm from a range of brands including Geely, Chery and Great Wall.

He continued by saying, “But the H6 is surprisingly un-bad. Straight away it’s a massive step up from the Mahindra from India I drove last year, and even my experience with the Holden Captiva.”

“The car looks good, the paint finish is good, and the cabin quality - both the materials and how they fit together - is impressive. In a blind test without a badge the H6 cabin could easily pass for something from a Japanese maker.”

After the almost faint praise he complains about the tyres. “The tyres on the Haval are plain awful, which means a brittle ride, too much thumping over bumps, and poor cornering grip in all road conditions.” When I read that, I wonder if he has ever driven a BMW with run-flats?

“I’m also finding the external mirrors are way too big, obstructing my view at intersections, a spacesaver spare is a negative and - for some reason - the warning lights for the rear seatbelts stay on throughout my test time.” Really? Spacesavers have been in everything going back to Porsche 911’s 30 years ago.

Where the Haval H6 does score, is with the motoring public, with its value for money. And value for money. By the way, the Herald-sun’s tester was Paul Gover, a journalist I do have a lot of time for, but I think he doesn’t like noodles!

Elon Musk’ new factory

Elon Musk of Tesla cars is someone worth listening to and his promo tape regarding his newly opened factory is worth spending a little time listening to him.

That is the link. It is 26 minutes long, so get that spare half hour slotted into your day.

Last week it was the 7-Series BMW

Sporting tiddler!

Last week I wondered just why BMW were loading up the 7-Series cars with “M” performance parts. After all, the 7 is a gentleman’s carriage, but now they are fiddling with the bottom of the line 1-Series!

BMW has released the M140i, it is only A$7,000 more than the standard 1-Series and has some exterior touches to make the limited edition standout, including grey 19 inch M Performance light alloy wheels, carbon fiber exterior mirrors, gloss black grille and black rear fins as well as a roof-mounted spoiler. An M Performance exhaust system is highlighted by chrome tailpipes.

On the inside, BMW has used Alcantara and carbon fiber extensively throughout the cabin adding an Alcantara M Performance steering wheel with a carbon fiber trim and red leather stitched central marker. It also comes with a carbon fiber central console and an Alcantara trimmed dash and the cloth sports seats with Alcantara trim.

Adding to its sporty flavour the model gets aluminum pedal covers while manual variants gain a carbon fiber gear shift knob.

A mechanical limited slip differential has also been added to manual versions.

Each vehicle comes with a numbered plaque and an M Performance logo.

It remains powered by the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six cylinder engine that produces 250 kW and 500 Nm, which is mated to either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic with power delivered to the rear wheels.

Does the 1-Series lend itself to hot-rodding? Yes it does, with Zero to 100 kph in 4.6 seconds! That makes the ugly duckling a performance car!

Anyone for a 1953 Morris Oxford?

This one’s a Morry.

The old Morry Oxford finally bites the dust! One of India's most iconic car brands has been sold by Hindustan Motors to the French manufacturer Peugeot for a nominal $12m.

Just as wearing glasses was a sign of having made it, the Ambassador car used to be one of India's most prestigious vehicles beloved by government ministers. But Peugeot has bought a mothballed factory as it has been out of production since 2014.

Based on the British Morris Oxford, the Ambassador was for three decades India's bestselling car.

Peugeot has long been keen to get a foothold in India and was one of the first foreign car makers to enter the country in the mid-1990s when the economy first was liberalised.

The Ambassador was from the 1960s to the mid-1980s a status symbol in India and was the only mass produced “luxury” car on the market.

Although not renowned for its good looks, the car did win plaudits for its spacious interior and sound suspension, which was ideally suited to Indian roads. It was also one of the first diesel cars to appear in India and one of the first to have air conditioning.

But its downfall was as spectacular as its rise - dropping from sales figures of more than 20,000 cars in the mid-1980s to about 2,000 in 2013-14 when production was suspended.

Little did British Leyland ever expect the design to still be going in 2014.

Is this the ‘ultimate’?

It seems that every car maker is hell bent on producing a limited run of super cars, though these are now Super Super or Hyper cars!

Aston Martin is producing their one in conjunction with F1 renowned design engineer Adrian Newey. He, in turn, has enlisted a who's who of motor racing experts to help build its new AM-RB 001.

Aston Martin claims the car will be suitable for road use, that hasn't stopped it calling on suppliers from the world of motorsport to supply F1 technology for the new machine.

“Much like F1, designing, engineering and building a car like the AM-RB 001 is a massive team effort,” Newey said.

“To achieve great things you need to surround yourself with the best people. Experience, creativity, energy, diligence and perfectionism are absolute must-have qualities in every area of the project. Having great technical partners such as those working with us is both reassuring and motivating. Together we aim to produce an innovative piece of engineering art.”

Aston Martin has revealed some key initial details of the AM-RB 001 and who will be building the key components including the engine, transmission and chassis.

Renowned engine builder Cosworth will be responsible for the design and construction of a 6.5 liter naturally-aspirated V12 to power the car. In order to achieve the aim of a 1:1 power-to-weight ratio the V12 will be backed up by a hybrid system developed by Croatian specialist Rimac, which was responsible for the previous Concept One all-electric hypercar project.

The transmission will be built by Ricardo, the same British company that builds engines and gearboxes for McLaren road cars but is also a long-time motor racing supplier. Its work has been used in Audi's Le Mans winnings sports prototypes as well as F1 cars.

Because Red Bull Racing remains focused on building its F1 cars, construction of the carbon fiber monocell will be handled by Multimatic. The Canadian firm's previous work includes the Aston Martin One-77 and Vulcan as well as playing a major role in developing the Ford GT - both the racing and road versions.

Bosch will be responsible for the electrical systems while the brakes will be handled by two companies, Alcon and Surface Transforms to ensure the AM-RB 001 stops as quickly as it goes.

Aston Martin has previously confirmed it will build no more than 150 examples of the AM-RB 001 for road use and a further 25 as track-only specials. The design and engineering work on the car is being carried out now before production begins in 2019.

So there you are. Supercars are old hat, even though they do get special parking spaces in Central Festival. It’s a Hypercar that you need.


Quiz car.

Last week I said to have a look at the pic of the car. It was built in 1935. I asked was it a four stroke or a two stroke? Clue: it has 16 cylinders.

The answer was obviously a two stroke, because the four stroke radials need an odd number of cylinders.

So to this week. What is the name of this SUV?

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

Update February 18, 2017

Bira 30 years

Jag 220 (Photo by Edd Ellison, FastTrack).

Contrary to all the rumors, the Bira Circuit is alive and (generally) well! A fun day was held at the circuit to mark the occasion of 30 years, though it had been postponed from last year owing to the official mourning period for His Late Majesty King Rama 9.

Many of the older race cars that were driven at Bira over the years were on display and some carried out some demonstration laps.

Other vehicles that were there included a Jaguar 220, still an amazing design today after all those years.

The B-Quik Audi and Porsche represented the later models to race at Bira. The F3 car was a bonus, though strictly these new F3 cars never raced at Bira.

I was actually a guest of the circuit in 1986, and since I was the medical officer for the Confederation of Australian Motor Sports (CAMS), the organizers roped me in to present the trophies. However, when it came up on TV they had made me the medical officer for the FIA! I was waiting for Bernie to sling me a backhander, but it never came.

Shall I proceed quickly, Sir?

BMW has decided to ramp up the performance of its limousine 7-Series, which has ended up with the new 7-Series being the quickest vehicle in the BMW stable. And “quickly” in the M760Li xDrive is a zero to 100 kph in 3.7 seconds. Yes, 3.7 seconds, true supercar performance.

Yet the 7 Series are thought of more for ferrying visiting dignitaries around in plush quietness. Combined with restrained wind and tyre noise, and a comfortable ride, the cabin is a suitable match for an interior dressed more luxuriously than any other 7-Series: BMW Individual Merino leather for the upholstery and dashboard; Piano Black wood trim; high-pile floor mats; soft anthracite Alcantara roof-lining; Bowers & Wilkins 16 speaker 1400 watt audio.

However, select Sport and DTC (Dynamic Traction Control), and flick the gearlever left and the driver takes control of the gear shifts via the paddles on the steering wheel and rattles off the sub-4 second 100 kph.

All very Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, but is this something that didn’t need to be produced? I am reminded of Nobel Laureate Max Born’s opinion on the space flights, which he described as a “triumph of intellect, but a tragic failure of reason”. Why, oh why, BMW, did you take one of the world’s best upmarket vehicles and also decide that it should start attacking Ferraris? I am sure the back seat travelers do not need zero to 100 kph in 3.7 seconds. Incorporate every known passive safety feature as well as dynamic safety features and that would sit well in its marketplace. “Super car” performance is just not needed.

It has been said that 85 percent of 7-Series owners also like to drive themselves. That may be so, but if that 85 percent want performance, sell them a 5-Series with the M package.

BMW M760Li xDrive specifications

Price: From A$ 419,000 plus on-road costs

Engine: 6.6 liter V12 twin turbo

Power: 448 kW at 5500 rpm

Torque: 800 Nm at 1550-5000 rpm

Transmission: Eight speed auto, all-wheel drive

Fuel consumption: 12.6L/100 km

2017 Bathurst 12 Hour results

The winning Ferrari.

The Bathurst 12 Hour Endurance race has now become an international event with overseas factory teams entering. At the end of a very dramatic 12 hours, it was Ferrari who greeted the checker first.

1. Jamie Whincup/Craig Lowndes/Toni Vilander - Ferrari 488 GT3

2. Matt Campbell/Marc Lieb/Patrick Long/David Calvert-Jones - Porsche 911 GT3 R

3. Steven Kane/Guy Smith/Oliver Jarvis - Bentley Continental GT3

4. John Martin/Liam Talbot/Duvashen Padayachee - Porsche 911 GT3 R

5. Alvaro Parente/Come Ledogar/Rob Bell - McLaren 650S GT3

6. Roger Lago/Steve Owen/David Russell - Lamborghini R-EX

7. Ash Samadi/Daniel Gaunt/Matt Halliday - Audi R8 LMS

8. Florian Strauss/Todd Kelly/Jann Mardenborough - Nissan GT-R

9. Marc Cini/Lee Holdworth/Dean Fiore - Audi R8 LMS

10. Jim Manolios/Ryan Millier/Ivan Capelli/Dean Canto - Lamborghini Huracan GT3

An impressive line-up with Ferrari, Porsche and Bentley on the podium, leaving McLaren, Lambo, Nassan and Audi to make up the top 10. Australia has come of age with all the factory teams flown to Oz to compete.

As a supporting event, there was a time shoot-out for production cars, which saw Mercedes AMG GT R setting a lap record run with five-time German touring car champion Bernd Schneider setting a 2 min 16.5 second lap in the ferocious AMG GT R, a race-derived version of the company's flagship coupe.

The lap time is almost eight seconds quicker than Schneider's previous lap record in the lesser-powered AMG GT S variant, set in 2015.

New McLaren Super Series for the “well heeled”

McLaren Super Series.

McLaren is showing its latest road going McLaren Super Series successor at the Geneva motor show in March, stating that the next generation supercar will gain a number of dynamic and handling improvements over the current model.

New features include an updated version of their Proactive Chassis Control and a new variable drift control mode as well as increased aerodynamics which will combine to give the new Super Series “the widest breadth of dynamic ability of any McLaren,” according to the McLaren PR handout.

The Proactive Chassis Control II system is split into three different modes – comfort, sport or track – to control the levels of cornering grip, dynamic response and comfort depending on the driving conditions. (I mean everyone buys a McLaren to do the grocery shopping on Saturday morning, so select “comfort”.)

The system is able to read inputs from the road and measure levels of tyre contact to instantly adjust suspension dampening thanks to the use of multiple sensors – 12 more than the existing model – including accelerometers on each of the wheel hubs.

McLaren Automotive executive director product development Mark Vinnels said the overall handling of the new Super Series would create a new level of driver involvement for the brand.

“Proactive Chassis Control II generates a significant amount of additional grip, but not at the expense of the balance and feel of the car,” he said.

“The depth and breadth of handling precision and ride comfort in combination with the peerless level of driver involvement in the second-generation McLaren Super Series is simply extraordinary.”

The other feature revealed by McLaren called variable drift control, allows drivers to vary the intensity of the car’s electronic stability control with the swipe of a finger, meaning they can control the level of tail-happy drifting to suit their driving ability. (This does require some basic car control.)

In previous teasers McLaren has revealed that its new Super Series – models beginning with the number 6 – will feature a lightweight chassis with liberal use of carbon-fiber, and has claimed that aerodynamic improvements will make it twice as aerodynamically efficient as its predecessor.

The manufacturer has also just revealed that its next generation of combustion engines will be co-developed with BMW, with the aim of achieving a higher power output per capacity while lowering CO2 emissions at the same time, however it is unknown whether the new engines will be developed in time to make it into the new Super Series model.

It is also likely that at some point in its life cycle the new Super Series will feature a variant with a petrol-hybrid drivetrain, in accordance with McLaren’s Track22 business plan that will see the company release 15 new cars or variants by 2022, with more than 50 percent of those to be hybrid.

Car Engineering and physical laws!

I was always taught that physics was an exact science. What goes up must come down, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, similar magnetic poles repel, pressure is equally distributed in a closed vessel, the speed of light is absolute, e+mc2 and all that kind of stuff. Well, it’s not. If you ever want to disprove physics as a science, then buy a race car. They do not obey physical laws.

You want an example? My perfectly good race car had performed perfectly all day. For the last event, I drove it down to the marshaling area to wait before going out for my race. I was about 10 minutes early, so I turned the engine off and waited for the signal to start the engine and move out onto the race track.

The ‘start engines’ board was displayed, I turned on the ignition and hit the switch, and not a cheep out of the engine. The starter motor was working, the engine was turning over, but it did not look or sound anywhere near firing. The pit crew rushed over, and they quickly checked under the bonnet. Everything was fine, all ignition wires were in place, but no spark to the plugs.

Now this was the same engine that had driven me from my pit to the marshaling area. This was ridiculous. The crew got round behind and we attempted a push start. Still it wouldn’t fire. The race started without me. I swore a lot.

We pushed it back to the pits and began to systematically replace every part of the ignition system. Eventually, with a new coil, it fired up, ready to go – but by then far too late.

So how does a working coil just suddenly ‘not work’ anymore? Especially after the ignition system had been turned off, so nothing was happening to the coil to make it malfunction. That’s some electrical law that I’ve never read about.


Quiz car.

Last week I mentioned “badge engineering”, one of the first automobile companies that comes to mind is BMC/British Leyland which produced such gems as the Morris 850, also as the Austin Mini, and the Riley Elf and Wolseley Hornet. However, Central Europe also produced some corkers. One car, given the name as the second worst car in the world, had connections to Italy, Yugoslavia and Serbia, and were just badge engineered. I asked what was it? It was the Yugo, also known as the Zastava and was based on a Fiat.

So to this week. Have a look at this week’s car. It was built in 1935. Was it a four stroke or a two stroke? Clue: it has 16 cylinders.

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

Update February 11, 2017

GM and Honda gas go-ahead

Honda FCX Clarity.

Similar to the gearbox designed jointly by GM and Ford, this time GM and Honda are cooperating on the design of a fuel cell system.

Each company has committed US$42.5 million to the new venture. A new factory will be built in the US state of Michigan and with Trump backing is expected to create 100 new jobs, with production of the joint fuel cells scheduled to start by 2020.

Honda has been one of the pioneers the hydrogen-powered vehicle, first with its FCX Clarity in 2008 and its follow-up the Honda FCV in 2016. Production of the Honda began in June 2008 with leasing in the U.S. commenced in July 2008. It was introduced in Japan in November 2008. It was only available to customers who live in Southern California where several hydrogen fuel stations are available.

The technology has continued to be developed, but the delivery of hydrogen fuel cell stations has lagged behind. It has been very much a chicken and the egg situation.

However, the manufacturers are backing every horse in the race. Toyota has released its Mirai fuel cell vehicle while South Korean car maker, Hyundai, offers its ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle in South Korea and Europe and has a more advanced fuel cell vehicle in the pipeline for release in 2018.

Mercedes-Benz have lost interest in hydrogen cars, instead choosing to focus on electric cars as batteries become more capable according to Dr Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board for Mercedes' Daimler parent company, who said at the 2017 Detroit motor show in January, “In the last five, six, seven years battery electric vehicles have developed much faster, much further than we expected. The advantages of fuel cell vehicles as far as filling versus charging times are concerned have become much smaller. For that reason, I think it's smart to focus on battery electric vehicles.”

Dr Zetsche also highlighted the lack of infrastructure for hydrogen cars, while most of the world is already connected to the electricity grid.

Racing driver moves up

Porsche GT3 Cup.

One of the local champion racing drivers in Thailand is Thomas Raldorf, a Dane who has been resident in Thailand for many years. In 2017 he is moving to the top category Thailand Super Series in a Porsche GT3 Cup car.

I interviewed Thomas about this next step up, and he spoke with enthusiasm. “The 2017 season is certainly looking better and better for us, and I am proud to announce that we have just signed a long term contract with our main sponsor ContiX Asia.

“Having a long term contract with them gives us a much needed stability in the team and it makes forward planning a lot easier.

“ContiX Asia is a young dynamic company with offices in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

“They have a new brand of Engine Oil on the market here in Asia called Unixx, and we will, in relation with this product launch in 2017, be known and referred to as the Unixx Race Team - TR Motorsport.

“Unixx is their proprietary brand, offering a range of performance automotive engine oils, using quality base stock and premium additive formulations. Unixx Engine Oils meets or exceeds the highest API and ACEA standards as well as various OEM specifications, emissions, and energy standards.

“ContiX Asia is also developing a Fully Synthetic Racing Formula engine oil to support their sponsorship tie ups with both the GXP GymPro street racing series in Thailand and our Unixx Race Team-TR Motorsport, competing in the higher profile Thailand Super Series.”

Volkswagen topples Toyota

After many years of threatening Toyota, VW has finally done the trick, despite the dieselgate PR disaster.

The Volkswagen Group has eclipsed Toyota Motor Corporation as the world’s best-selling auto-maker for the first time, beating its Japanese rival by about 100,000 units for the 2016 calendar year.

VW recorded overall sales of 10.31 million units last year from its stable of brands that includes Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Audi, Skoda, Seat, Porsche, and the MAN and Scania truck divisions.

The runner-up Toyota’s global total sales, which includes Lexus, Daihatsu and Hino products, hit 10.17 million units.

The result is fantastic news for VW which has had to endure huge financial penalties, following its admission in September 2015 that it used an emissions cheating software in a number of its diesel VW, Skoda and Audi models.

VW Passenger Cars was the company’s biggest selling brand, with just under six million units sold, a 2.8 percent increase over 2015, followed by Audi which grew by 3.8 percent to 1.87 million sales, then Czech brand Skoda with 1.12 million units, a boost of 6.8 percent.

Porsche’s global sales lifted by 5.6 percent last year to reach a record 237,800, largely on the back of its successful Macan mid-size SUV, while the launch of the new-generation T6 Transporter helped lift VW Commercial Vehicles sales by 11.4 percent over 2015 to 480,100.

Going against the trend was the MAN truck brand took a dip, dropping by 0.2 percent to 102,200 units, while “expected figures” for Scania were 80,800, a 5.5 percent lift.

The big mover was China with registrations growing 12.2 percent.

There were geographic anomalies with Western Europe and Central and Eastern Europe, sales increased by 3.4 and 7.0 percent respectively, but interest in the brand took a big dive in South America, with a drop of 24.6 percent. Somebody got something wrong in the Carnaval.

Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Mueller said that its future was looking bright.

“2016 was a very challenging year for us,” he said. “We made strides in resolving and overcoming the diesel crisis and at the same time initiated a fundamental change process with ‘Together – Strategy 2025’ to get Volkswagen ready for the future of mobility.

“Nonetheless, we managed to stabilize operating business in difficult conditions: the fact that we handed over more than 10 million vehicles to customers last year bolsters the Group and its brands as we head for the future.”

Toyota’s total was up just 0.2 percent over its 2015 numbers, with 2.23 million sales in its Japanese home market – a 2.8 percent boost – and 7.94 million in the rest of the world.

Japanese production numbers were steady, but international production figures grew by 2.1 percent, with Toyota now the fourth largest car manufacturer in the United States behind American car-makers GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler.

Toyota overtook its General Motors as the top selling car-maker in 2008, breaking GM’s 77-year stronghold on the title, but have now lost the top spot to VW.

What does VW make?

The following list covers all the vehicles produced by VW:

- Amarok

- Arteon

- Atlas

- Beetle

- Bora

- BUDD-e

- Bulli

- C Coupe GTE

- Caddy

- Caravelle

- CC

- CES concept

- Compact roadster

- Concept A

- Concept R

- Crafter

- Cross Coupe

- Cross Up

- CrossBlue

- CrossGolf

- CrossPolo

- E-Bugster

- e-Up

- EcoRacer

- Eos

- eT

- EV Concept

- Fox

- Golf

- Golf Cabriolet

- GTI Roadster

- ID

- I.D.

- Jetta

- Kombi

- Kombi Beach

- L1

- Microbus

- Mini Van

- Multivan


- Neeza



- Passat

- Phaeton

- Phideon

- Polo

- Santana

- Scirocco

- Sharan

- Sport Coupe Concept GTE

- T-Cross

- T-Roc

- Taigun

- Tiguan

- Tiguan Allspace

- Touareg

- Touran

- Transporter

- Tristar

- Up

- Up!

- Vento

- XL Sport

- XL1

- XL1 Concept


Singer 9 le mans.

Last week I mentioned that the 24 hour race at Le Mans has seen some epic failures. One manufacturer entered four cars but withdrew the fourth after the first three all crashed for the same reason. I asked what was the manufacturer. It was Singer with the Singer 9 which entered the 1935 Le Mans Tourist Trophy race where three of the four Singer 9 cars crashed because of steering failures before the fourth was withdrawn. In May 1936 W.E. Bullock who had been managing director from 1919 together with his son, general manager from 1931, resigned following criticism from the shareholders at their annual general meeting. No longer viable Singer & Co., Limited was dissolved in December 1936 and what had been its business was transferred to a new company – Singer Motors Limited. So there you go. And as an aside, my father once owned one of the 1935 Le Mans team cars.

So to this week. When you talk about “badge engineering”, one of the first automobile companies that comes to mind is BMC/British Leyland which produced such gems as the Morris 850, also as the Austin Mini, and the Riley Elf and Wolseley Hornet. However, Central Europe also produced some corkers. One car, given the name as the second worst car in the world, had connections to Italy, Yugoslavia and Serbia, and were just badge engineered. What was it (or were they)?

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

Update February 4, 2017

Female Supremacy

Jutta Kleinschmidt.

Many years ago I raced Enduro bikes. On one such an outing I found myself catching the competitor who had started a minute before me. Spurred on by this, I began to try harder, eventually catching the other rider and on a bush track swept by on the outside of a corner. Looking over I suddenly found it was a girl I was racing, and I promptly fell off. The male ego is such a fragile thing!

However, on the radio this morning, mention was made of Jutta Kleinschmidt, the only woman to have won the Paris Dakar rally. Jutta was born 29 August 1962 in Köln and was a competitor on offroad automotive events. She is known for her numerous showings in the Paris Dakar Rally, and notably for having won the event in 2001, becoming the only woman to win the race and the only German to win the car category. A bitter pill for the male competitors I am sure.

Mid-life changes to the new Mustang

Ford Mustang.

Ford released details of the mid-life changes to its popular Mustang models. The revised model, revealed overnight in California, gets an updated exterior with new-look all-LED headlights, lower bonnet and grille design, blacked out rear diffuser, revised LED tail-lights, optional performance spoiler and quad-tip exhaust for V8 GT models. None of this is what you would call earth-shattering.

Now comes the PR speak - Ford is offering a dozen different alloy wheel designs, as well as a new exterior paint color – Orange Fury. None of that is going to leave you breathless!

Engines have been tweaked to deliver slightly more power. The V8 delivers more power and revs higher, thanks to new dual-fuel, high pressure direct injection and low pressure port fuel injection, which also improves low-end torque and fuel efficiency, says the car-maker.

Automatic variants drop the current six-speed box for the new 10 speed unit that Ford developed with GM and claims that it helps deliver higher average power for faster acceleration, has quicker shift times, reduced frictional losses and includes unique programs for different drive modes.

Manual transmissions have also been updated for both engines, with the V8 version scoring a twin-disc clutch and dual-mass flywheel to improve clutch modulation and torque capability.

Minor changes have been made to the suspension, with all models given new shock absorbers, a new cross-axis joint in the rear suspension and updated stabilizer (anti-roll) bars.

For real nonsense, an active valve exhaust system for the GT allows owners to control the exhaust note and volume. (I remember when we used to incorporate a lump of copper pipe in the exhaust system to get more noise. Apparently the boy racers are now getting the factory to do it for them.)

By now the PR chaps are in full throttle with features such as the all-LED digital instrument cluster recently detailed in the Ford GT, with the 12 inch screen letting owners customize their instruments and choose between normal, sport and track mode displays.

Other tweaks include padded knee bolsters, a hand-stitched wrap with contrast stitching for the center console, aluminium finish for the door handles, rings and bezels, new seat upholstery patterns and colors, and optional heated steering wheel. New models come equipped with Ford’s SYNC3 infotainment system.

Mustang MyMode with memory function allows drivers to save their favorite drive settings including suspension and steering preferences.

Of interest is the fact that the 2017 Mustang does not have the driver assistance systems, including pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, distance alert, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and driver alerts and consequently did not do well in the European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP) getting a two star evaluation.

Whatever, I’ll have a V8 Mustang in black, thank you!

Who goes where?

The Formula 1 line-up is now complete and the remaining teams and drivers are as follows:

Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas

Red Bull: Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen

Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen

Force India: Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon

Williams: Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll

McLaren: Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne

Toro Rosso: Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat

Haas: Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen

Renault: Jolyon Palmer and Nico Hulkenberg

Sauber: Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein

Deep pockets if you want the world’s fastest luxury four-seater

Bentley Continental Super Sports.

The Bentley Continental Supersports is the fastest and most powerful production model to date, being capable of 336 km/h says Bentley.

It gets to its maximum speed in a hurry too, covering zero to 100 kays in 3.5 seconds – 0.1 seconds faster than a Mercedes-AMG GT.

The engine is still Bentley’s W12 engine redeveloped for the new Continental Supersports, featuring a newly designed, higher capacity turbochargers and a revised air cooling system to create more boost.

The modifications result in an impressive 522 kW at 6000 rpm and a prodigious 1017 Nm at 4500 rpm. These figures represent an extra 59 kW and 217 Nm over the previous (slow) model.

The brakes are carbon-ceramic and again, the factory claims the brake discs are the largest of their type in the world, and claim they provide excellent performance with minimal fade under extreme conditions.

By extreme conditions they mean temperatures of up to 1000 degrees Celsius, or about the same as molten lava.

The Super(expensive)sports utilizes torque vectoring to help it turn corners, with the system able to brake individual front and rear wheels while cornering, and maintaining full power to wheels with traction, for better acceleration out of the corners.

Bentley have joined the rest of the world with silly add-ons like a carbon-fiber front splitter, rear diffuser, side sill extensions and bonnet vents, as well as front wing vents and exhaust tailpipes finished in gloss back.

Now for more PR-speak: The Continental Supersports interior has also come in for extensive remodeling, encompassing tri-tone colors throughout, diamond-quilt designs in the seats and door trims, and unique steering wheel and gear lever designs.

Crazy Auction prices

E-Type Lightweight.

Bonhams is an auction house in the western world and they just sold a 1963 Lightweight E-Type Jaguar for – wait for it - 7.3 million dollars!

Now, I like E-Types and have actually raced against Bob Jane’s lightweight E-Type in Australia, but I’m sorry, they are not worth 7.3 huge ones!

What is interesting is the re-creation of six “new” E-Type lightweights by the factory.

In the press release by Jaguar, they say that these Lightweight E-types are being meticulously built by specialist engineers, highlighting the capability and expert engineering skill set of the new Jaguar Classic Workshop.

These coveted next generation ‘Special GT’ E-type cars were originally built in 1963 with new aluminium bodies to improve performance. But only 12 of the projected 18 were ever made. The six brand-new Lightweight E-types that now complete their number, fifty years later, will carry the original series chassis numbers of the ‘missing’ vehicles.

The prototype of these new Lightweight E-types has already been made and undergone a 15-day shake-down period at Jaguar Land Rover's test facility at Gaydon to prove out the car's dynamics and establish optimum suspension settings.

To create the new E-types, every single panel and part had to be minutely scanned and recreated before being assembled at the Browns Lane plant, just yards from where the originals were built.

The core component of the Lightweight E-type is its aluminium bodyshell. This material replaced the steel of the production E-type in the quest to shed weight – some 114 kg were saved compared with the standard car.

Despite the 50 year gap, the aluminium build of the six new Lightweights gives them an immediate affinity with the current Jaguar range, the XE, XJ and F-TYPE models being built to exacting standards with aluminium bodies for exactly the same reason. In fact, Jaguar is now the world's leading manufacturer of aluminium-bodied cars and the company has unrivalled experience in the relatively new field of applying aluminium technology to volume production cars.

The Lightweight E-type was powered by a highly developed version of Jaguar's straight-six XK engine which, with its chain-driven twin overhead camshafts and aluminium head with hemispherical combustion chambers, remained highly advanced in 1963 even though it had first been seen in the XK 120 as far back as 1948. It was this engine that had powered the C- and D-types to five Le Mans victories in the 1950s. A race winner in its own right during its short competitive career, the Lightweight E-type has achieved worldwide fame and is highly coveted.

The six new Lightweight E-types are competition vehicles with FIA homologation for historic motorsport purposes.


Last week I mentioned that Silver Shadow was the designation for a new car in 1965, but this was an alternative. I asked what was the original name, and why the change? This was far too easy. R-R was going to call the new car the Mist, but in the German speaking countries this equates to (let’s say) dung.

So to this week.

Le Mans has seen some epic failures. One manufacturer entered four cars but withdrew the fourth after the first three all crashed for the same reason. What was the manufacturer?

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

Update January 28, 2017

“New” Jaguar F-Type range

Jaguar 400 Sport.

Jaguar, owned by India’s Tata has two new variants – the R-Dynamic, which will be a premium variant of the V6 and V6 S, and the limited 400 Sport launch edition, which gets a power boost to its supercharged V6 and will sit underneath the V8-powered R for one model year before it is removed from the line-up – pushing the total number of variants and configurations out to 28.

This is all more than faintly ridiculous, as taking the top line 400 Sport you get yellow and grey badges on the front and rear, and comes with Jaguar’s Sport Design Pack which includes a more prominent front splitter, extended side sills and a rear diffuser finished in Dark Satin Grey. So it will take a very keen eye to spot the 400.

The engine is the 3.0 liter supercharged V6 that has been given a power boost from 280 kW to 294 kW (or 400PS, hence the name), while braking power is improved with the addition of the Super Performance braking system featuring 380 mm front and 376 mm rear discs and black brake calipers with 400 Sport logo, housed in 20-inch rims with Dark Grey Satin finish. (Oh these PR handouts!)

400 Sport logos are adorned on the headrests of the seats, flat-bottomed steering wheel, black brushed aluminium center console finisher and sill treadplates, while gearshift paddles are finished in adonised aluminium.

An addition is the R-Dynamic, that will be offered as a premium variant for both the 250 kW and 280 kW V6 models, and will provide an option for those who want their F-Type to look more aggressive similar to the more expensive V8 R. In other words, increasing the impression ratio.

Jaguar design director Ian McCallum said “For the 2018 model year F-Type, we looked at how we could fine-tune key details to deliver even more clarity of purpose in the overall design – for the driver, the passenger and onlookers.”

RR doing (illegal) business?

Naughty, naughty R-R.

Rolls-Royce, that bastion of true British stiff upper lip has agreed to pay a record £671 million compensation to British, US and Brazilian authorities to settle bribery and corruption claims. I say old chaps, that’s not really cricket!

The purveyor of fine motor cars, and the odd aeroplane engine, has agreed voluntary settlements over allegations it used middle-men to bribe officials to secure contracts in countries including China and Indonesia.

Whilst this is current news, in 2014 RR revealed it was also being probed by the Justice Department in the US.

Since then, the concurrent British investigation has expanded to include about a dozen countries, among them corruption-free places like Nigeria, India and Saudi Arabia.

It is thought many of the allegations Rolls-Royce is faced with date back more than 10 years. They involve the use of intermediaries - which are local companies that handle sales, distribution, repair and maintenance - in countries where the Rolls-Royce does not have enough of its own employees.

Last year an investigation by BBC Panorama and the Guardian newspaper suggested the intermediaries were bribing potential clients with illicit payments. This is what happens when British companies, now owned by other countries, forget the lines of “Rule Britannia”.

Not the gnus

Lance, Lotsa Money, Stroll.

Mercedes have officially confirmed that Valtteri Bottas will be Lewis Hamilton’s partner in the 2017 Formula 1 season replacing Nico Rosberg who took his world champion trophy and went home.

Bottas was supposed to remain at Williams and mentor incoming 18 year old driver Lance Stroll this season, whose Daddy dropped 80 million dollars in Sir Frank William’s hat to ensure his son got a seat in F1. (That’s where I went wrong on my road to F1.)

The 80 big ones depended upon the lad being partnered by an experienced driver, and Felipe Massa who had retired, was talked into coming back and doing another one year. His bank manager is all smiles.

The Williams driver was amongst a host of big names linked with the drive for Mercedes, but he and Pascal Wehrlein were always the favorites for the seat. Wehrlein is a contracted Mercedes Junior driver, but Bottas’ manager was Mercedes race team boss Toto Wolff. Surprise, surprise, Bottas got the nod!

Wehrlein confirmed he is going to race for Sauber, ending all the speculation as it was then only a matter of time for when Bottas would be confirmed.

The $5,000 race car

The mighty Datto.

The following is a true story. Before coming to live permanently in Thailand, I used to come up every year at Xmas for my holidays.

One Xmas I received a telephone call from John English, a good friend of mine and a previous partner in a race team in Australia.

“Mate,” he said, “There’s a new class for this coming year called the Under 2 Liter sports sedans (U2L), and I’ve found the car for you.” “How much?” I replied. “Mate, it’s a Datsun 510 and it’s only $5,000.” “Buy it,” I said and an amazing chapter was about to unfold.

When I got back I spoke to John, and asked him where the car was. “In Sydney,” he replied. “Sydney? What is it doing there?”

It turned out that the seller was in Sydney and John had only seen a photo in the For Sale column of the motorsport rag. So here I was, $5,000 poorer having bought a real pig in the proverbial bag.

The seller deposited the car on my driveway the next weekend, and without a doubt it was the ugliest race car I had ever seen. What’s more, it was built in 1968 and this was 1994. It was no spring chicken.

I leafed through its competition log book to find it only had two owners in the last 26 years and had only been raced six times. There had to be a good story there somewhere. Turned out that the last owner was an airline pilot, whose weekend flying commitments hardly ever allowed him a weekend to race it. Through him I managed to speak to the original owner and builder, who did not have enough money to race it either. So it was 26 years old, having been raced in anger only six times.

We then put it up on a hoist and had a good look. It was like new, with all good race parts being used.

We added disc brakes in the rear and a wing for the back and we had an amazing year. Datto (as we called it) probably had 20 horsepower less than the others in the class, but it delivered every one of its horses to the ground. It cornered everywhere on three wheels and was just great fun to drive.

In that year we won the Queensland U2L series championship and came second in the Australian championship race.

And that was in a car which was $5,000, plus another $1,000 for the brakes and the wing!

Of all the cars I have raced, Datto was my favorite.

The Road Toll

We have just had the so-called seven dangerous days, and the road toll has gone up! I wrote the following some years ago, but it is still relevant.

I try to shy away from contentious subjects in this column, as it was designed to be a lighthearted look at things motoring, but sometimes a lighthearted look may not be appropriate. For the nation’s road toll, this is one of those times.

What prompted me on this line of thought was the fact I was almost run over by songthaews running the red light on the zebra crossing on Second Road. For those who have not been to Pattaya recently, you will find that Beach Road now has pedestrian traffic lights every 200 meters. However, unfortunately all these do is to instill a false sense of security for those on foot, and these days, most are not working.

Now when we look at the road toll, what were prime factors?

1. 80 percent of those killed are between 15-60 years.

2. 75 percent of the people killed are male.

3. 80 percent were riding motorcycles.

4. 85 percent had no crash helmet.

5. More than 50 percent of those injured had blood alcohol levels above the legal limit of 0.05. (Figures for blood alcohol levels of those killed are notoriously under-reported to avoid police/insurance problems.)

And that was about five years ago, showing that nothing, repeat nothing, has been successful in lowering the carnage.

The numbers that stand out are 80 percent motorcycles and 85 percent of them had no helmet. Surely this would be a good place to start, and legislating a standard for helmets the similar priority. Lawrence of Arabia died because he did not have a helmet in 1935. Surely we can do better 80 years later?


Nissan Figaro.

Last week I showed you a photo and asked ‘what car is this?’

I wanted the manufacturer and the model. I have seen one in Pattaya. Clue: Short production line and all sold out and an electric canvas roof. It was the ‘retro-look Nissan Figaro, which did not come with a boxed set of DVD’s composed in 1786 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, sung by Italian tenor Pavarotti.

So to this week. Silver Shadow was the designation for a new car in 1965, but this was an alternative. What was the original name, and why the change?

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

Update January 21, 2017

Go park yourself

Faraday Future FF91.

Is the way to make big money just by making big claims? It certainly looks that way, with a new start-up claiming it has designed and built an all-electric passenger car to beat Tesla at its own game.

Having launched itself two years ago, the company has come under fire for failing to deliver on its ambitious promises. Its team of more than 1,000 employees includes former Tesla, Apple, Google, BMW and NASA staff, and are there to show that the promise is not hollow.

The company is called Faraday Future and has at least built one car, they christened the FF91. The company claims their FF91 car has the fastest acceleration of any electric vehicle on the market and can reach 100 kph in 2.39 seconds. Tesla’s Model S can reach the same speed in 2.5 seconds.

FF91 is an electric vehicle with autonomous driving capabilities, it can park itself (but so can a Ford), and like Grab Taxi and Uber, will pick you up from a designated point, using the taxi company’s app.

On the surface it sounds kosher, but why has it taken them so long to demonstrate a running example of the FF91?

The financial backing for a project such as this is enormous, but Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting has deep pockets.

However, there are obviously problems beneath the surface with eight resignations of senior staff during 2016, and in November it stopped work on a $1bn production plant in Las Vegas amid reports that it was tens of millions of dollars in debt.

The PR blurb continues to say that the car will be in production in 2018, and interested possible purchasers can pre-order now for a $5,000 deposit.

The automotive industry has a history of entrepreneurs with stars in their eyes but no cars. Hopefully Faraday Future is not one of them. The deposit is not outrageous, so get four friends and throw in $1,000 each and sit out the next two years!

Musical chairs

The organ grinder and his monkey has been down in the Mercedes camp, with technical director Paddy Lowe leaving after three years with the dominant Mercedes F1 and returning to Williams F1.

Lowe, who joined Mercedes in 2013, is tipped for a leading role at Williams after chief technical officer Pat Symonds parted company with the British team last year.

It would mark Lowe’s second time at Williams following a six year stint with the team before a 20 year spell at McLaren prior to his Mercedes move.

“Paddy has played an important part in our success during the past three and a half years and we thank him for his contribution to this significant chapter in Mercedes motorsport history,” team boss Toto Wolff added.

Highly-rated British designer James Allison, who left Ferrari last August, is expected to replace Lowe at Mercedes.

“Success in Formula One is not about single individuals but about the strength in depth and technical capability of an organization.” Lowe was the recipient of Lewis Hamilton’s defiance at the end of 2016 when he refused to obey Lowe’s order during the final race of the year which gave Rosberg the world title.

Bottas to Mercedes?

Valtteri Bottas.

Of course he is! Bottas’ manager is Toto Wolf, the chap who is the team principal at Mercedes. Need I say more?

However Bottas couldn’t get out of his contract with Williams without a ‘senior’ driver being at Williams to mentor rookie Lance Stroll, who is bringing a shopping bag (a very large shopping bag) of Daddy’s money (try 80 million dollars).

The answer to the conundrum lies in recently retired Williams F1 driver Felipe Massa, the Brazilian veteran who only called time on his career at the end of last season. If Felipe will do another year, he could re-sign for Williams making it possible for Bottas to move to Mercedes.

What a wonderful bag full of worms!

I’m not as think as you drunk I am

One of the regular readers sent me this item, so it is not confirmed, but I think it should be possible.

A new wearable device developed by Californian company Milo Sensors has developed a wristband known as Proof that tells you how much alcohol is in your system.

Proof reads alcohol molecules through your skin with its built in electrochemical sensor able to convert alcohol into an electrical current in order to help display accurate alcohol levels in your blood.

If its accompanying smartphone app then says that your alcohol levels are too high, Proof can predict when you will be safe to drive and even send you an alert when you have reached this level.

Proof, which was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2107) in Las Vegas earlier this month, also has a feature that allows users to track family or friends if they are out for the night, and make sure they are drinking responsibly.

And here’s another Tesla rival – or is it?

Lucid Air.

Silicon Valley has come up with yet another start-up electric vehicle manufacturer called Lucid Motors, which unveiled a prototype of its first product, a luxury sedan called Air. Claims for this manufacturer include claims of power of up to 745 kW and a driving range of up to 640 kilometers when deliveries start in early 2019.

Again similar to the Faraday Future, the Lucid Air has been developed by a team led by former Tesla Model S chief engineer Peter Rawlinson.

Lucid, which grew out of American battery company Atieva, plans to manufacture the car at an all-new US$700 million factory to be built in Arizona next year. (Does that sound familiar? It should!)

It is claimed that it is being designed from the outset to be capable of autonomous driving with minimal driver input, regulations permitting.

Lucid claims its batteries – developed in league with Samsung SDI – not only offer best-in-class energy density but a unique chemistry that provides “breakthrough tolerance to repeated fast charging”.

“While many batteries age prematurely if fast-charged regularly, you can fast charge a Lucid battery at will without worries,” it says in the blurb accompanying pictures of the new model released overnight.

The company is also claiming “world-class performance in acceleration, driving range and efficiency” from the drivetrain developed in-house by Lucid engineers in California’s Silicon Valley, south of San Francisco.

Although no performance figures were disclosed, Lucid has a 671 kW prototype powertrain in a Mercedes-Benz Vito van that apparently has been clocked at 2.8 seconds in the 0-100 sprint and can cover 640 km. (The Tesla S P100D is said to go from zero to 100 km/h in 2.7 seconds and cover 613 km.)

If you believe in fortune telling, the first year sales target in 2019 is between 8000 and 10,000 units, rising to 50,000 to 60,000 by 2021.

Like Tesla and its Model 3 and Faraday Future, Lucid is taking customer deposits before production starts or final pricing is set. The first 255 examples of the special launch edition command a fully refundable deposit of US$25,500.

The US media predicts this car will sell for about $160,000, but if that looks to be out of your budget, there is a standard version to follow – thought to be priced about $85,000 – that can be reserved with a deposit of US$2500.

So far, orders are only being taken in the US and Canada.

I wouldn’t rush, if I were you.


Quiz car.

Last week I asked ‘what car is this?’ 406 of them were built between 1936 and 1939, straight eight supercharged engine of 5.4 liters, all independent suspension and revered today. What is it? It was the supercharged Mercedes 540 K one of the most beautiful cars ever made, and worth several million dollars today. In an era where most cars of this caliber were bodies outside the factory, Mercedes built most of the bodies themselves at the factory. Twenty armored versions were ordered by Third Reich officers!

How much is one really worth? Press Release from Auctioneers RM Sotheby's, the world's largest collector car auction house for investment-quality automobiles, kicked off its 2016 season this week with an impressive $62.8 million in sales at its 17th annual Arizona Biltmore auction in Phoenix. Attracting bidders from 20 countries, the two-day sale presented 149 blue-chip automobiles before a packed sales room, with 85 percent of all lots sold.

The undisputed star of the event - and this year's Arizona auction week - was a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster, chassis no. 130894. An original U.S.-delivery car with known history from new, the highly desirable "high door", "longtail", factory left-hand-drive Special Roadster was offered fresh to the market, following 26 years in single ownership. Bidding on the stunning automobile opened at $5 million before quickly climbing to a final $9,900,000. The impressive price ranks the vehicle as the most valuable automobile sold in Arizona auction week history, breaking the previous record set by RM in 2015. The strong result also ranks the Special Roadster as one of the most valuable pre-war automobiles ever sold at auction.

So to this week. What car is this? I want the manufacturer and the model. I have seen one in Pattaya. Clue: Short production line and all sold out and an electric canvas roof.

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

Update January 14, 2017


We have all seen the pick-ups in Thailand loaded to the skies, and many photographs have been taken of them while the rest look incredulously at the sight. However, would it surprise you to know that this practice began in the UK? And is still a problem in the UK.

Overloaded Austins.

During the fourth quarter of 2014, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) published their annual effectiveness report for 2013/14. The report highlighted that overloading continues to be a serious issue on the UK’s roads. Weighing expert Avery Weigh-Tronix warns both drivers and operators to be aware of the risks.

Colin Smith from Avery Weigh-Tronix commented, “As well as being a criminal offence which can attract fines and prosecution, overloading can have a detrimental impact on the roadworthiness of vehicles – from braking systems to increased instability and wear and tear.

“Looking through the report, it is worrying to note that roadside checks found defects in braking systems of almost 19 percent of HGV trailers, along with various other issues such as steering, suspension and tyres. An overloaded vehicle in good condition is potentially hazardous, but overloading a vehicle which also has other issues relating to its roadworthiness could be extremely dangerous.”

The report, which contains data on vehicle testing and enforcement activity over the last twelve months, shows that overloading of LGVs is still the top offence on UK roads, with both the number of prosecutions and the average fine up on last year. Overloading of HGVs also continues to be an issue, being the fifth most common offence for prosecution during the same period.

Will your car get nicked?

The people in the UK has named the five cars most at risk of being stolen in 2016. The list is topped by some distance by the Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, with 1 in 6 registrations checked returning a stolen warning.

Second most at risk was the Mercedes-Benz CLC 220 Cdi Sport Auto, with 1 in 11 checked returning a stolen warning, followed by the Range Rover Evoque Dynamics D4A, Honda Jazz SE CVT and Ford Fiesta Zetec.

Porsche Carrera 4S.

Head of, Roger Powell, said, “It should come as no surprise that the cars most at risk of being stolen in 2016 are prestige models: a Porsche 911 sports car, Mercedes-Benz Clc220 coupe and Land Rover Evoque SUV. They are desirable to used car buyers and targeted by car thieves due to the profit potential.

“The fact that the UK’s best-selling car, the Fiesta, is fifth on our list shows that any used car for sale can potentially be stolen. While the risk of buying one is relatively low, you must weigh that against the embarrassment of being pulled by the police and finding yourself massively out of pocket when it is seized and returned to its rightful owner. That’s why all motor traders use vehicle provenance checks and we urge all consumers to do the same.

“The latest British Crime Survey showed that vehicle theft is on the rise for the first time in 20 years. The period April 2015 to March 2016 saw an 8 percent rise, with 80,047 vehicles recorded as stolen. You also have to bear in mind that cars stolen during house burglaries or by asset fraud aren’t included, so the problem is serious and getting worse.”

Fortunately, this is not a problem in my household as I could leave the family Mira with keys in the ignition and the doors open and it would still be there three weeks later.

10 Speed transmissions

The Chev Camaro and Ford pick-up Raptor are using the current cutting edge of automotive technology: They represent the first application of automatic, 10 speed transmission technology in the industry.

A joint development by General Motors and Ford Motor Company, the new 10 speed combines an unprecedented range of performance and fuel efficiency in one gearbox. With the spread of ratios for Camaro and Raptor, this means that there is always a correct gear, no matter what is being asked of the car and its transmission. With the US government mandating increased fuel efficiency at the same time as consumers expecting increased performance, the 10 speed satisfies both goals.

“The 10-speed has a greater ratio spread, which enables fuel economy in the upper gears while providing more torque multiplication in the lower gears,” says Ford drivetrain engineer Seth Goslowski, who did extensive, extreme development on the Raptor.

Ford Raptor.

Ford was the lead engineering team on the rear wheel drive 10 speed, while GM leads development on a joint, 9-speed, front wheel drive transmission.

The effect of an automotive 10 speed allows for better torque at low speeds, better cruising in high gear. For Raptor that translates to steep rock crawling where the big truck uses gears one-two. For the Camaro the closer low-end gear ratios enable it to better manage the 650 pound foot of torque in order to accelerate from zero to 100 k in 3.5 seconds, true supercar times.

Crucial to the joint program, dubbed 10 Speed Rear Drive (or 10R for short), was that the gearbox’s packaging would fit the same space as the base Camaro’s eight-speed transmission and the Ford F-150’s six-speed automatic.

Camaro Chief Engineer Al Oppenhimer says the 10-speed was the perfect fit for the low-volume, high-performance ZL1. Tested on some off the world’s most challenging race tracks, the Camaro shares GM’s most capable V-8 with the Corvette Z06.

The Camaro ZL1’s 100 millisecond upshifts easily puts it in supercar territory where vehicles like the dual-clutch, $200,000 Porsche Turbo gearboxes shift in 500 milliseconds.

Ford’s first application goes in Raptor, its highest-volume vehicle. In addition to the Raptor, Ford has announced that all F-150’s with the Ecoboost V-6 engines will get the 10R as well.

Combined with turbo technology, the 10R allows the Raptor to gain 16 percent fuel efficiency over the previous generation six speed auto gearbox.

The Ford/GM 10 speed technology is being rapidly followed by other automakers. Lexus is introducing a 10 speed in its LC 500 supercar due in May. Meanwhile, Honda has taken out a patent for an 11 speed box. And Volvo and Mercedes trucks have been running 12 speed automatics for a few years.

The auto industry has gone a long way since ‘three on the tree’ gave way to ‘four on the floor’.

Looking for a Lotus 49?

There were seven of the remaining Lotus Type 49s in a booth at the Autosport International show in Birmingham, England in January 12-15. This is actually quite amazing, as the Lotus 49 was a ground-breaking race car.

In the hands of Jim Clark, the Lotus 49 won its very first race, the 1967 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, but only after Graham Hill had set pole position in another Type 49. Though the model would win just three more F1 races in 1967, Clark or Hill would capture every remaining pole position for the remainder of the 1967 season.

Jim Clark drifting a Lotus 49.

The Type 49 was designed around the Cosworth engine (Mike COStin and Keith DuckWORTH). Unhappy with BRM’s heavy H-16 engine Colin Chapman turned to old friends Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth, who’d met at Lotus before going on to form Cosworth. Financially unable to go it alone, Chapman convinced Ford of Britain to fund development efforts, a program that would eventually deliver both a four-cylinder Formula 2 engine (the Cosworth FVA) and an eight-cylinder Formula 1 engine (the Cosworth DFV). Once the bugs were sorted, the Cosworth DFV would remain competitive in Formula 1 until the mid-1980s.

The Type 49 also set construction standards for virtually all future F1 cars. Looking to save as much weight as possible, Chapman and Maurice Philippe designed a simple front monocoque to house the driver, the front suspension subframe, the fuel bladders and a reserve oil tank. This assembly bolted to the front of the Cosworth DFV engine at four points, and the engine and transmission served as stressed members of the frame. The rear suspension attached to the transmission, so both engine and gearbox were stressed members.

The earliest Type 49s weighed in at just over 1,100 pounds, and first-generation DFV’s produced roughly 415 horsepower at 9,000 RPM. Though the science of racing aerodynamics was still in its infancy, the Lotus 49 soon sported front and rear wings, and in 1968, the 49B experimented with a tall rear wing affixed to the rear suspension. On Graham Hill’s Type 49B, this wing’s angle of attack could be adjusted via a fourth pedal in the cockpit, but movable aerodynamic devices (and lofty rear wings) were soon banned by the FIA.

Counting Type 49, 49B and 49C variants, a total of 12 examples were built by Lotus, and the cars ran in Formula 1 into the 1971 season. In five years of competition, the Lotus 49 entered 42 Grands Prix, scored 12 wins, 23 podiums, 19 poles, 13 fastest laps, two constructors championships (1968, 1970) and two drivers championships (Graham Hill in 1968 and Jochen Rindt in 1970).

Yes, the Lotus 49 was a milestone in the development of today’s F1 car.


Last week I mentioned the Austin A40 Devon (not the Somerset) that came out post war. I asked how could you easily see the difference between the 1949 and 1950 models from the outside? The answer was that the 49 model did not have quarterlights, which first came out on the 1950 model.

So to this week, and it is a ‘what car is this?’ 406 of them were built between 1936 and 1939, straight eight supercharged engine of 5.4 liters, all independent suspension and revered today. What is it?

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

Update January 8, 2017

Have you got rental insurance?

Renault Twingo.

RSR Nurburg, owned by Ron Simons, has benefited from the Nurburgring Nordschleife's cult success (AKA The Green Hell). The Dutchman started RSR Nurburg as a race school and car rental center at the Nurburgring in 2002. The business has since grown into the largest rental outlet on the 'ring, with dozens of staff and more than 100 cars for hire.

What is available? Renault's 99 kW Twingo RS kicks off the range, giving customers a chance to tour the Nordschleife for THB 4,785 inclusive of fuel and entry for one lap, or THB 12,000 for four tours of the track. Customers are more likely to spend a little more to get hold of a turbocharged, 147 kW Ford Fiesta ST or Renault Clio RS, both of which can be had for THB 16,680 for four "tourist" laps.

Wealthy enthusiasts can choose something like a McLaren MP4-12C, but doing so comes at the cost of a (wait for it and breathe deep) THB 148,750 rental fee, and a potential insurance excess of THB 5.56 million if it all goes wrong.

Having driven the ‘ring, it is the most magical circuit, but does give the intrepid driver many chances of doing it wrong!

Hope the damage isn’t sealious


How high is the sealing?

Interesting snippet from Down-Under with a rather large seal deciding to reside on a Toyota in suburban Launceston. Christened “Lou-seal” by the authorities there (no royalties to Chuck Berry) the 200 kg fur seal was tranquilized and transported back to the sea 50 km away! That’s a flipping long way! Stop this nonsense and get onto sealibrating the New Year - Sealed with a kiss? Enough!

A Camaro for Dads at Xmas

2017 Camaro ZL1.

The new Camaro ZL1 will give Dad an impressive 11.4 second quarter mile times with an easy-to-use launch control system, and wait for it, two kids in the back.

This new ZL1 is described by GM as a triple threat: On dragstrip, on road, and on track.

In the US, this four place Camaro is taking the fight to the BMW M4 and Caddy ATS-V. With its 650 BHP and 650 ft/lbs torque it returns a zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and is a genuine competitor at USD 30K cheaper.


Vehicle type: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive, four-passenger sports coupe.

Power plant: 6.2 liter, supercharged V 8

Transmission: 10 speed automatic or 6 speed manual.

Weight: 3,887 pounds, manual.

Price: USD 63,435.

Power: 650 horsepower, 650 pound foot torque.

Performance: Zero-60: 3.5 seconds (automatic), 3.7 seconds (manual) manufacturer).

Fuel economy: EPA 14 city/20 highway/16 combined (manual).

Tales with Rover

Rover 825i.

Remember the days before remote locking? You actually had to unlock the front doors individually, but this meant that you did the gentlemanly thing of escorting your partner to the passenger door and with a great flourish, you unlocked it and ushered her into the vehicle. These days you push the button as you approach the car, it responds with a beep-beep and unlocks everything and your passenger gets herself into the vehicle, by herself.

Having set the scene, it was 1987 and I had flown to the UK for a visit. Using the fact that I had been a ‘Works Driver’ in MG’s for British Leyland (before they pulled out of Australia) I had contacted MG Rover in the UK, looking for a car to test for the two weeks while I was there. No problem, I was told. They would supply a new Rover 825i for the duration of my trip (motor manufacturers in Thailand who expect full road tests after one drive around the block, please take note).

In 1987, this Rover 825i was the finest machine in the MG Rover stable. With mechanicals from the Honda Legend it had all the Japanese quality, with all the snob appeal of the ‘very British’ Rover badge, Westminster carpet on the floor and some polished English oak on the dashboard! It also came with remote locking, and the MG Rover chap showed me how it worked, and how the infra-red remote receiver was behind the internal rear vision mirror.

The 825i proved itself to be a reliable, semi-luxury carriage; however, I found a problem I never expected. The remote locking failed!

I had gone for lunch in one of those quaint English style pubs. You know the style – all dark wood and warm beer with crusty gentlemen smoking briar pipes and wearing caps and hairy tweed jackets with leather patches on the elbows.

After lunch I ventured outside into the crisp, cold British air and strolled down towards the Rover 825i in the car park. As I walked towards it, I pushed the unlock button, but nothing happened. No flashing lights. Obviously I was too far away, so I walked closer and pushed the magic button again. Still nothing!

By now I had arrived at the car and still no answer from the remote locking. I decided to go back to manual technology and inserted the key in the lock on the driver’s door. Nothing! It didn’t budge.

I analyzed the situation, and it was then I remembered the MG Rover chappie telling me about the IR receiver behind the interior rear vision mirror. Looking through the windscreen I could even see it, a red bulb behind the mirror. I pointed the remote at the red bulb and expectantly pressed the button. Nothing!

So I lay down on the bonnet of the car, so that I could get the remote on the windscreen, as close as possible to the red bulb receiver. With a determined thumb I pressed the button – and still nothing.

Suddenly there was this very British voice saying, “I say old chap, just what do you think you are doing?” I turned round and there was the archetypal Briton, cap and tweed jacket, and bristling with anger. “I am trying to open my car, but the remote unlocking device does not work,” I replied. “That’s because this is not your car, this is my car,” said the crusty and now angry Brit. “No it’s not,” said I. “I have this silver Rover 825i on loan from MG Rover!” “I beg your pardon,” said crusty, angry gent, “this is MY silver Rover 825i that I bought from the agents here!” We were now standing toe to toe and I could see I would need the registration papers to prove my point – but the registration papers, were of course, inside the locked car.

However, before I could think of my next move, and to verify his claim, he went on to say, “Your Rover is the one further down the car park, in the next line!” I looked at where he was pointing, and there it was. I pointed the remote, pushed and it flashed the lights. With burning shame, I could only apologize profusely and offer him a warm beer. He declined, muttering something about the fact that he was still sober and knew what he was doing. I could not miss the inference, but decided that I had had enough of this scenario and slunk off to my Rover and try to forget the case of mistaken identity.

Tales of a Tuk-Tuk

Having opened Thai Tasty, a Thai restaurant in Brisbane, Australia, and having found an importer of things Thai, a Tuk-Tuk was ordered. This was going to be the answer, I was sure. A brand new and reliable Tuk-Tuk for Thai Tasty deliveries.

Like all the best laid plans of mice and men (though I am not convinced that mice plan anything), I had forgotten one important factor – the Australian government’s vehicle registration regulations. The regulations did not cover Tuk-Tuks, so my delivery vehicle couldn’t be registered. The initial negative response was followed by around six months of negotiations where government engineers put forward suggestions to make the Tuk-Tuk more likely to be registered Down-under.

The first modification was to fit a front brake, and this was fairly simple to do, using a motorcycle disc brake and caliper. Next was the requirement to raise the roof by 5 cm. I have no idea why, but maybe they were working on the principle that Aussies are taller than Thais, so more head room was necessary. This was done easily and we were looking good. A provisional registration plate was issued and my now “legal” Tuk-Tuk was delivered to the restaurant.

I could hardly wait. I leaped aboard, fired it up and roared off, gripping the motorcycle style handlebars. At the first corner I turned the handlebars and nothing happened. We were heading straight for the safety fencing! I grabbed for the front brake to slow it down and it immediately tipped up on two wheels. I could see a large crash was imminent. Somehow, Somchai the Patron Saint of Tuk-Tuk drivers looked down and got the vehicle back on three wheels and slow enough to make the corner. I gulped and began to see why being a Tuk-Tuk jockey was a career reserved for Thais. It did not respond to western wisdom. In fact the greatest wisdom was to get off the thing.

I did remount and learned to drive/ride a little slower and not to apply the front brake in the corners, but then thought that perhaps the Thai manufacturers were not silly by having only rear brakes. However, using the front brake in the middle of the corner and going up onto two wheels became my party trick, especially late at night when I would give the last diners the ride of their lives.

My chef would also ask to be taken round the block, sitting proudly in the back with his arms folded. I asked him why he wanted this, as he must have ridden in Tuk-Tuks many times in Bangkok. “Ah yes,” he replied, “but I never had a farang (foreigner) driver before!”


Last week I mentioned that recycling is well known in many industries, including the automotive. I asked which automaker was the first to use recycled materials to manufacture its car bodies. Would you believe it was the dreadful Trabant!

So to this week. The Austin A40 Devon (not the Somerset) came out post war. How could you easily see the difference between the 1949 and 1950 models from the outside?

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

Update December 30, 2016

Would you pay 13 mio for a wreck?

The dilapidated Aston Martin DB4.

An Aston Martin DB4 that languished in woodland for almost half a century has been exhumed and is expected to sell for between 13 and 15 million baht at auction in January.

This well known British brand Aston Martin DB4 went to the USA over fifty years ago. In its day, the DB4 was one of the most powerful and desirable vehicles available. It is not known why this DB4 was one day parked and not started again.

The car’s history includes having sat outdoors in a secluded part of its owner’s property in Massachusetts since the early Seventies. While it is in no way a drivable classic – it is actually in a terrible state, and will need an expensive and thorough restoration – the North American climate has shown more kindness than British weather would have.

Over five decades of inactivity, rust formed and soggy leaves rose half way up the bodywork. Nevertheless, this DB4 is one of around 1,200 made and is therefore of immense international significance. Estimates of up to 15 million baht might make this the most expensive car to be discovered in a forest when it goes under the hammer on January 18 at Worldwide Auctioneers’ inaugural Scottsdale sale in Arizona.

No, I won’t be phoning a bid through!

Do you have a ‘classic’ in your garage?


1973 Mk1 Ford Escort.

A recent survey by the Federation of British historic vehicle clubs survey states that 8.2m people in the UK are interested in classic vehicles. 1,039,950 vehicles are registered as historic (pre 1976) with 500,000 owners of said vehicles. The estimated total value is £17.8b. 34,900 people are employed in this industry. 6 percent of the cars are MG, 5 percent Ford, 4 percent Triumph, Austin, Morris and Land-Rover 3 percent. VW 3 percent, Rover and Jaguar 2 percent.

As the owner of a “classic” with my 1973 Mk 1 Ford Escort, and a life-long enthusiast of the old days of motoring, I am enjoying seeing the classic car movement growing the way it has, with a projected Thailand Classic Car meeting on 25 March 2017 at the Asia Pattaya Hotel.

So if you have a classic, or just an interest in motoring from the days gone by, pencil in the date in your 2017 diary. In the meantime here’s my classic.

Ford GT – a modern classic

Ford GT.

Ford Motor Co. celebrated the beginning of production and delivery of the highly anticipated Ford GT supercar in Ontario, Canada.

The $450,000 plus car has gained lots of attention since its introduction at the 2015 North American International Auto Show.

“This is really a celebration more than anything; it’s a celebration for all the people that design and develop and are now building the Ford GT as a showcase for us as a company,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, global product development, and chief technical officer. His comments came during an employee and media event Friday at the GT production facility in Markham, Ontario.

Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. and CEO and Chairman Mark Fields will be the first two to take delivery as their corporate Xmas present.

Is there enough interest in the general public to build such a car? The Dearborn automaker received about 6,500 online applications for the first 500 GTs that will be produced as 2017 and 2018 model year cars.

The high demand caused the automaker to extend production through the 2020 model year. The first three model years are already sold out, while ordering for the fourth will open in early 2018. Production is capped at 250 cars per year.

Ford implemented a rigorous vetting process that included previous GT ownership, activity on social media and a legal document stating the new owner won’t sell the vehicle for a certain amount of time to help prevent buyers from flipping them quickly for a profit.

The GT is powered by a 3.5 liter V-6 Eco Boost engine. It is the same basic engine that debuted in Ford’s Taurus SHO and is under the bonnet of the 2015 F-150 pickup, but the GT engine has custom pistons, rods, turbos and cams that help it get more than 600 horsepower. The GT includes a number of weight saving areas, including a carbon-fiber tub and a gorilla-glass windshield that is 12 pounds lighter than a traditional windshield.

Will we see any here? Ford has said they will make RHD models of the new Mustang, so it is possible, but to get over the red tape and duty hurdles, makes the chances of a GT trundling down Sukhumvit very unlikely.

Do you buy new cars on appearance, not engineering?

Honda Civic.

The J.D. Power 2016 Thailand Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study states that appearance and styling drive the increase in new vehicle appeal in Thailand.

Overall APEAL averages 901 points (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2016, up from 883 in 2015, with scores in all vehicle segments improving year over year. The SUV segment improves the most from 2015 (+28 points, on average), followed by the pickup truck and passenger car segments (+20 and +10 points, respectively).

“Manufacturers have successfully managed to improve vehicle attractiveness, especially with newer or redesigned SUV and pickup models,” said Siros Satrabhaya, manager at J.D. Power. “However, while satisfaction with newer models increases in most vehicle component categories, they post notably lower scores (more than 20 points) in fuel economy this year. This may indicate a lack of transparency and possibly overpromising fuel efficiency figures under normal usage conditions.”

(The Thailand government in 2016 mandated that each new vehicle in the showroom have an “eco sticker,” which shows fuel efficiency information for the vehicle.)

“The information on the sticker may be misleading since it’s based on lab testing conditions,” said Satrabhaya. “Consumers’ expectations are being set by the data on the sticker, and only after they own the vehicle do they realize the fuel efficiency may vary in everyday use.”

The study also finds that first-time new-vehicle owners, who represent 48 percent of buyers, are notably less satisfied with the overall appeal of their vehicle than repeat buyers (890 vs. 910, respectively). A test drive is an effective way to increase customer satisfaction, which is considerably higher among those who take a test drive than among those who do not (903 vs. 872, respectively). The impact of a test drive on satisfaction is significantly higher among first-time buyers than among repeat buyers (+35 vs. +24 points, respectively).

The following are additional key findings of the study: The top five highest-rated vehicle attributes overall are side-profile appearance and styling; forward visibility from the driver’s seat; appearance of exterior paint; usefulness of steering wheel-mounted controls and ease of seeing/ reading controls/ displays while driving. Attributes receiving the lowest ratings are seat features - specifically, the ability of seat surfaces to resist soil/ lint; ease of operating/ adjusting rear seats; and flexibility of seating configurations - and storage and audio issues, including usefulness of rear cup holders and quality of bass.

Study Rankings:

Honda received three APEAL awards: the Jazz (898) in the entry midsize car segment; the Civic (908) in the midsize car segment; and the HR-V (913) in the compact SUV segment.

Suzuki received the award in the compact car segment Ciaz (894); Toyota in the new large SUV segment for the Fortuner (908); Mitsubishi for the Triton Plus X-Cab (922) in the extended cab pickup segment; and Ford earned the double cab pickup segment award for the Ranger D-Cab (923).

The 2016 Thailand APEAL Study is based on responses from 4,813 new-vehicle owners who purchased their vehicle from November 2015 through July 2016. The study covers 13 different brands that include 82 different passenger car, pickup truck and utility vehicle models. The study was fielded from May through September 2016.

A true “classic”

Alfa Romeo Duetto 1750.

The 1966 Geneva Motor Show saw the release of what became a future classic – the Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider. This was the last design done by Battista Pininfarina and has been one of the longest lasting designs in the auto industry, going from 1966 to 1993.

Over the years it received a cut-off tail and a succession of engines from 1300cc to 1600cc to 1750cc and finally 2000cc, however, the car retains the same basic design.


Last week I mentioned one automaker received more than 140,000 suggestions for the name of its new model. The person who sent in the winning entry was given a new one as his prize, so with that incentive, there is no surprise that so many entered. Names which did not win included Pizza, Sputnik, Panther and Al Capone. I asked who was the winner? (Not what, but who?) It was the Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider and that name for the car won Guidobaldi Trione a brand new one.

So to this week. Recycling is well known in many industries, including the automotive. Which automaker was the first to use recycled materials to manufacture its car bodies?

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

Update December 24, 2016

Beware! Giulia might fool yah


New Alfa Romeo Giulia.

BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz must be looking nervously over their shoulders, as Alfa Romeo reveals the new Giulia, a four door sports sedan with just as much heritage as the afore-mentioned trio.

In many markets, this new Giulia is a relaunch of Alfa Romeo, with this car available in both right hand drive as well as the Italian left hand drive.

Launched overseas earlier this year, the Giulia, which was developed in part with Ferrari’s help – is a rear wheel drive four door sedan with specifications which outshine the current class leaders.

From February 2017, there will be four variants to choose from with the top of the line being the Giulia QV (which I am told represents the Quadrifoglio, Alfa Romeo’s four leaf clover insignia).

This new Giulia should not be confused with the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider which is based on the new Japanese MX5. The QV is based on an all-new platform which will also underpin the forthcoming Stelvio SUV.

Power comes from a 2.9 liter twin-turbo V6 petrol engine, which had Ferrari input and produces 375 kW at 6500 rpm and 600 Nm torque, available from 2500 to 5000 rpm. With an all-up weight of just 1555 kg, Alfa claims the Giulia QV will cover zero to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds and will not run out of breath until 305 km/h. Fuel consumption figures for this engine are 8.2 liters per 100 km.

In comparison the BMW M3 and M4 only make 331 kW and 550 Nm in competition spec, though the AMG C63 matches the Alfa Romeo in power but the Mercedes delivers 700 Nm torque.

The Giulia QV has RWD with active torque vectoring on the rear axle, a limited slip diff and an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard, but a six-speed manual is available as a no-cost option.

It also gets adaptive dampers as standard, along with six-piston front and four-piston rear Brembo brake calipers.

Standard equipment will include 19 inch alloy wheels with Pirelli tyres, bi-Xenon headlights with adaptive front lighting system and automatic high beam, electric powered and heated leather seats, carbon and aluminium trim and an 8.8 inch multimedia screen with satellite navigation.

On the active safety front, it has forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian awareness, blind-spot monitor, lane departure warning and active cruise control.

Reviewers who have driven the new Alfa Romeo say that headroom and knee room in the rear is surprisingly good, though foot room is a little cramped with the low-slung sports seats of the QV.

The next Giulia down is the Giulia Veloce, which is powered by a 2.0 liter four cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, producing 206 kW and 400 Nm giving performance figures of zero to 100 km/h in 5.8 seconds, and will use a claimed 6.1 L/100 km on the combined cycle.

Two versions of the mid-spec Giulia Super will be offered. The first will offer a lower-tune version of the Veloce petrol engine, making 147 kW and 330 Nm, while a new 2.2 liter turbocharged diesel will produce 132 kW and 450 Nm. The diesel engine variant uses 4.2 L/100 km.

The base model is just called the Giulia and has the Super’s 147 kW/330 Nm petrol engine.

The entry level car gets leather trim, 18 inch alloys, bi-Xenon headlamps, keyless entry, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, automatic wipers, rear parking sensors and a reverse parking camera, but does not get the blind-spot warning.

The Super models get better leather and blind spot monitoring, while the Veloce gets adaptive suspension, limited slip diff, 19 inch alloys and an uprated braking package, with red calipers.

Inside, the Veloce’s cabin gets aluminium dash inserts and pedals, sports leather seats and steering wheel and a better sound system.

It certainly looks as if Alfa Romeo has a worthy contender in the sports sedan stakes, though the one factor not revealed was the price. Let us wait with interest. Perhaps we might even see the Alfa Romeo marque exhibiting at the Bangkok International Motor Show in March.

Land Speed Record

In the early days of motoring, the internal combustion engine did not reign supreme, and it was not until 1907 that an internal combustion vehicle took the record – specifically the aircraft V-8 that Glenn Curtiss installed in his motorcycle to speed to set the new record at a sphincter-puckering 136 mph. They were brave men in those days!

The Spirit of Ecstasy

The House of Rolls-Royce favored me with a Press Release advising of the future release of a series of films referring to the Spirit of Ecstasy, the ‘Flying Lady’ who adorns the bonnets of their vehicles since 1911.

The first episode of The House of Rolls-Royce series, “The Spirit of Ecstasy”, retells the story of the muse that has guided and inspired the world’s most celebrated luxury house for the past 105 years.

Since her creation in 1911, the Spirit of Ecstasy, modeled by sculptor and artist Charles Sykes, has silently guided every Rolls-Royce and its prestigious owner through momentous events in their lives and the lives of others. She has stood as an elegant presence and witness at some of history’s most notable events.

The films will hopefully answer the question “Is a Rolls-Royce really that good or are we dealing with myths?”

Is speedway the answer?

Speedway action.

I have always been a bikie. Four years of Moto-X, swung in the chair for an Australian champ and even ran laps on a speedway bike. Sounds good till you find out I was a woeful Moto-X rider, my time in the chair was three laps and I bit his leg off and made him come in, and the speedway outing was private practice and totaled 20 laps, (but I was 40 years of age, and should have known better).

However, in a spare hour last weekend I found the Speedway GP (SGP) on You Tube on my smart TV. All the shoulder to shoulder action of the speedway, marketed in a slick package for television. The rough and ready aspect of speedway riders in black leathers, as I remembered it from my boyhood, has apparently long since gone.

Professionalism has come to the dirt – the riders even carry brushes to keep their colorful leathers clean between heats.

Jack Young Edinburgh Monarchs 1950.

So, as well as Moto-GP for action, you also have the choice of Speedway (SGP) as well. Formula 1 is going to have to look critically at the package it is offering to the spectators at present. It is no good relying on the fact that Formula 1 began in 1950 and there is history and tradition. Speedway racing came from Australia to the UK in the 1920’s.

The bikes themselves are very simple and the following regulations apply:

Machines used must:

Weigh no less than 77 kg (unfuelled)

Use a four-stroke, single-cylinder engine with one carburettor and one spark plug and a maximum capacity of 500 cc

Have guards fitted over moving engine parts where reasonable

Use an additional chain guard to prevent a hand or fingers being cut at the nip point where the chain meets the sprocket by a chain

Have a peg fitted to prevent a broken primary chain flailing and injuring a rider or a fellow competitor

Use shatter resistant plastics where reasonable

Be fitted with a dirt deflector

Be fuelled by methanol with no additives

Be fitted with an approved silencer

Have a handlebar width greater than 650 mm and less than 850 mm.

Machines used cannot:

Be constructed in any part from Titanium

Use uncoated ceramic parts

Use telemetry during a race except for timing purposes

Use any electronic components to control the engine

Use brakes of any form

Use supercharger or a turbocharger of any kind.

Simple and effective and easily checked by the scrutineers. Everyone knows the regulations and the result of each competition depends upon the skill of the rider, forget ‘strategy’ and tyre choices and even the scoring has remained the same 3-2-1-0 for the four riders in the heats.

Speedway is an understandable weekly competition and F1 has much to learn from it.

Autotrivia quiz


Quiz Car.

Last week I asked what is this car? From a famous manufacturer and still one of the biggest OEMs today. It was a T model Ford, modified by Frontenac. Among the most successful Model T racers were those produced under the brand name of Frontenac, operated by three brothers whose first names were Arthur, Louis and Gaston, and a last name very familiar to the automotive world, Chevrolet. While most of the “Fronty” conversions were seen on dirt tracks, in 1923, L.L. Corum took a 5th place finish at that year’s Indianapolis 500, bested only by a quartet of powerful Miller eight-cylinder cars.

So to this week. One automaker received more than 140,000 suggestions for the name of its new model. The person who sent in the winning entry was given a new one as his prize, so with that incentive, there is no surprise that so many entered. Names which did not win included Pizza, Sputnik, Panther and Al Capone. Who was the winner? (Not what, but who?)

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

Update December 17, 2016

Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Matic sports sedan moves to the next league

Mercedes AMG E63 S Class.

The latest version of the E Class, breathed upon by AMG is claimed to be the fastest production four-door sedan in the world.

The Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Matic, to give it its full title, is a new era for the high-performance division’s large sedan, thanks to downsized powertrains, all-wheel drive and semi-autonomous driving technology.

This new version of the E Class develops 450 kW of power and 850 Nm of torque from the 4.0 liter biturbo V8 also found in the Mercedes-AMG GT S coupe, the new four door five seater sedan covers zero to 100 km/h mark in 3.4 seconds.

The engine is a 32-valve aluminium V8 with direct-injection and new-to-series two twin-scroll turbochargers (located between the vee bank for reduced lag/quicker responses and compactness), helping to generate the maximum 450 kW from 5750-6500 rpm and the 850 Nm between 2500-4500 rpm.

‘Half engine mode’ disconnects cylinders two, three, five, and eight by shutting off their relevant intake and exhaust valves, to make it a four cylinder engine returning 8.8 liters per 100 km.

Additionally, as with some W213 models, the Drive Pilot intelligent semi-autonomous technology is standard, providing lane-keep control, adaptive cruise control and other active safety items.

AWD is achieved via an all-new in-house developed AMG Speedshift MCT Multi Clutch Technology nine speed Sports Transmission, with extremely short shift times with fast multiple downshifts and a wet start-off clutch replaces a torque converter.

The completely variable 4Matic AWD system employs an electromechanically controlled coupling – so it can switch from AWD to RWD.

On the braking front, the E63 S uses 390 x 36 mm vented and drilled compound brake discs up front with six-piston fixed callipers and 360 x 24 mm single-piston floating brake calipers on the rear axle.  AMG Carbon Ceramic brakes are available in 402 x 39 mm and 360 x 32 mm front and rear axle sizes respectively.

A tubular anti-roll bar first seen on the AMG GT R reduces weight.  Combined, all these items help improve camber stability by 30 percent compared to the outgoing E63, but how they come up with these comparisons, I do not know.

A useless setting is a drift mode; select Race, disengage the ESC, press manual mode, then using the shift paddles simultaneously, the E63 S turns the driver into a hoonigan, and remains in that setting until the driver deactivates it.  Somehow I cannot see the type of driver who can afford such a car wanting to practice drifting.

Undoubtedly this new version of the E Class is as close to perfection as M-B and AMG can make it – but expect astronomical pricing if it comes to Thailand.  I’ll guess around 8 million baht.

Ford Fiesta previewed in Germany

Ford Fiesta 2017.

The seventh generation Fiesta was previewed at a special event in Ford Europe’s Cologne plant in Germany ahead of the 2017 model’s roll out next year on the light hatchback’s 40th anniversary.

Shown in four five-door variants, including a crossover called Fiesta Active, the replacement for the ageing current model received an evolutionary styling update.

Ford confirmed that all Fiesta variants except the sporty European-built ST for this market will continue to come from Ford’s Rayong plant in Thailand.

This means that Australia is likely to share the American version of the Fiesta that, this time around, is set to be sourced from Thailand instead of Mexico (perhaps as the result of threats from POTA Donald Trump)?

The Thai-built car is unlikely to be significantly different in style and substance from the one shown in Europe.

Fiesta is not doing well in the showroom stakes, now ranked a lowly 10th in the important light-car market segment led by the Hyundai Accent (in Australia) and Mazda2.

It is expected that the new Fiesta will have the 1.0 liter three-cylinder turbo EcoBoost engine which will get cylinder deactivation in an industry first.

This technology can disengage or re-engage one of the cylinders in 14 milliseconds, which Ford says is “20 times faster than the blink of an eye”.

The company says it has come up with advanced solutions to counteract vibration, and that the deactivation operation “will be imperceptible to drivers in terms of operation and engine performance”.

Ford promises the expanded Fiesta range will offer more personalization options, following the trend set by European manufacturers such as Audi and Mini.

Put your BeeEmm on lay-by

BMW Finance will be forced to refund $72 million to loans customers after the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) found that the German car-maker breached responsible lending guidelines in place Down Under.

ASIC said in a press release that BMW Finance will “implement Australia’s largest consumer credit remediation” as a means to compensate customers it says were misled by irresponsible lending practices.

An investigation by Fairfax Media earlier this year alleged that BMW was approving large loans to buyers who were not in a financial position to repay the loans, with some customers having zero or negative disposable income.

ASIC says the $72 million remediation program is open to BMW Financial Services, Mini Financial Services and Alphera Financial Services customers.

It will be made up of $14.6 million in remediation payments, $7.6 million in interest rate reductions on current contracts and $50 million in loan write-offs.

Under the program, BMW has agreed to an additional “community benefit” payment of $5 million that will go towards consumer advocacy and financial literary activities, bringing the total BMW will pay to $77 million.

ASIC says the program will “ensure appropriate remediation” for the 15,000 customers who, between January 2011 and August 2016 may have suffered some hardship as a result of BMW Finance’s actions.

The agreement with ASIC also states that BMW Finance will remove default listings and purchase back all debt sold to third parties to make sure that written-off loans are not in danger of being subject to further collections actions.

An independent remediation consultant will oversee the program and report to ASIC on BMW Finance’s compliance.

ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell detailed BMW Finance’s failures and said the finding sounded a warning to other in-house finance companies operating in Australia (and overseas).

“BMW Finance had a sales-driven culture that failed to comply with the requirements of the credit laws and resulted in poor outcomes for many consumers,” he said.  “We are encouraged that BMW Finance has recognized these shortcomings and agreed to a remediation program that will see thousands of consumers compensated.

“This is an example of the staggering cost of poor business practices and should act as a warning to other car financiers to get their houses in order.”

While BMW Finance will contact customers who have been impacted, customers who had a loan within the above timeframe and believe they have suffered hardship can contact the company and register for the program.

In February this year, ASIC fined BMW Finance $391,000 and placed a condition on its credit license stating that it must appoint an auditor to oversee its activities for 12 months over 22 infringements.

(I knew I should have got a BMW on the ‘never-never’)

Matt or gloss – the decision is yours

I notice that “wrapped” cars are all the rage in Pattaya.  And for some reason it is the more expensive cars, which have a great shiny finish from the factory, that have the matte wrap applied.

What apparently started as a fad among celebrities has trickled down to the well-heeled public, with people ready and willing to pay as much as thousands more for a car that, to an untrained eye, may appear as if it needs waxing.

For fans of the matte look, the finish symbolizes the exclusivity they want, exuding a ‘cool’ factor that sets the vehicle apart from its mass-produced siblings.

And until recently, matte finishes, especially popular in dark colors, have been available in the United States only on the most expensive sports vehicles, such as those manufactured by Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

At the recent Los Angeles car show, for example, the Mercedes AMG GT3 and E63S were exhibited in a matte finish. And while Volvo does not offer the finish on factory models, it displayed its top-of-the-line V90 SUV in matte gray at the show.

The matte look does not come cheap, not in purchase price, nor in the time required to maintain the finish.  Keeping the finish pristine requires hand washing with special soaps and cleaning cloths.

In the case of a matte finish, that clear coat contains many microscopic hills and valleys rather than a smooth wax-like surface, deflecting light in many directions and making the finish look dull.  Without the hills and valleys, the finish would begin to look shiny.

On the plus side, a matte finish does not show swirl marks as a standard polished car would, because the paint is not buffed to a shine.  With proper care, it is claimed that a matte finish is as durable as a glossy one.

Using a vinyl wrap is like putting a big sticker on the car.  The material typically lasts for six years without peeling, and unlike matte paint, the car can still be put through an automatic carwash without hurting the look.

Prices in Pattaya for a wrap range around 20,000 to 30,000 depending on the size of the car.

Autotrivia Quiz

Quiz Car.

Last week I asked which racing driver took a gramophone record of his country’s national anthem to meetings, just in case the organizers didn’t have one?  An easy one this week.  It was the great Tazio Nuvolari.

So to this week.  What is this car?  From a famous manufacturer and still one of the biggest OEMs today.

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

Update December 10, 2016

Put your name down for a Cord

That is a “Cord”, not an “Accord!”

Cord 812.

In 1936, Errett Lobban Cord displayed his car of the future, modestly known as a Cord 810. And it was revolutionary. Bodywork by Gordon M. Buehrig, with a big coffin nose and pontoons over the wheels, pop up headlights (actually ‘wind up’ headlamps) and pneumatic gear shift.

To make a replica of such a car would be very expensive and a myriad of red tape, but there has been a dramatic shift in the licensing laws following the passage of the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act, which passed Congress as part of a $305 billion highway funding bill.

Trademark holder has said, “Until now it was cost prohibitive to manufacture these cars profitably, but now that expensive high speed crash testing, for example, is no longer required to manufacture low runs of replicas, this makes tremendous sense.”

The Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act allows manufacturers of replicas of 325 turnkey cars using certified current model year engines without going through the same certification and testing processes other car manufacturers must complete before selling new cars. Previously, replica car builders could only offer complete cars minus drivetrains or cars in kit form.

No specifics on the revival Cord have yet been released. According to the announcement, the trademark holder is currently discussing partnerships with manufacturers and may have a display vehicle ready by late 2017.

To date, two other companies have announced plans to take advantage of the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act with the DeLorean Motor Company intending to offer revival DMC-12s; and the British carmaker AC intends to offer MkIV Cobras powered by a 6.2 liter GM LS V8.

I have driven a genuine Cord 812 and it was an amazing motor car, complete with two winding handles on the dash to elevate the headlights. Despite being a large heavy car, it was very stable and a delight to drive. I’d order a new one just for the Wow factor if nothing else!

What’s next? A Ferrari Pick-up?

Ferrari Lusso T.

Enter the Ferrari Lusso T which is expected to attract well-heeled customers currently considering luxury SUVs like the Bentley Bentayga and the forthcoming Levante from Ferrari’s sister brand Maserati.

The Lusso T takes the same physical form inside and out as the V12, all-wheel-drive GTC4 Lusso, but using instead Ferrari’s latest 3.9 liter twin turbocharged V8 that is also used in the California T and 488 GTB.

Power from the front-mounted V8 is more than adequate for the class at 449 kW at 7500 rpm and 760 Nm of torque between 3000 and 5250 rpm, sending it all through a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle to the rear wheels.

The over half a million dollar Lusso T covers zero to 100 km/h in 3.5 seconds, which is just 0.1 sec slower than the V12 Lusso. It will run out to 320 km/h if you can find that elusive empty piece of road, though the track at Maranello would be safer.

Inside, all the features of the V12 version – including carbon fiber shift paddles, a drive mode dial, or Manettino, steering wheel-mounted indicators and a digital dash – are also in the Lusso T.

Other expensive items include all-wheel steering, adaptive dampers, carbon ceramic brakes, electronic limited slip differential and bespoke 20 inch rims. It is also 50 kg lighter than the GTC4 Lusso with its AWD.

In the infotainment region there is a 10.2 inch touchscreen, four USB ports on the central transmission tunnel, rear view camera and a remote boot release (which just about every car in the world has these days – even my fifteen year old Daihatsu Mira.)

For insurance classification, it is regarded as a four-seater, and even though the rear seat ingress is squeezy, it will seat a pair of adults. It will also take 450 liters of their luggage.

In many ways the Lusso T looks to be a better buy than the GTC4 Lusso, but you still need some very deep pockets if you want to race the Black Roller!

Black days at Rolls-Royce


Rolls-Royce Black Badge.

The extent that some manufacturers will go to market ‘exclusivity’ is amazing. Rolls-Royce have announced their “Black Badge” for their Wraith Coupe. Shown at the Rolls-Royce Melbourne dealership in Southbank, the Wraith Black Badge draws its name from the black detailing throughout the car, including black chrome Parthenon grille, splitters, window surround (optional) and spirit of ecstasy bonnet ornament, inverted color Rolls-Royce badge and black, silver and carbon-fiber 21 inch wheels.

The carbon-fiber/steel alloy rims feature 22 layers of carbon-fiber offset with black and silver steel, and come in a pattern that is exclusive to the Black Badge range.

The more aggressive look of the Black Badge could possibly be marketed towards a younger audience, which an R-R representative explained is making up a larger proportion of Rolls-Royce owners.

“We’ve seen our average age of Rolls-Royce owner dramatically falling over the past few years, so it’s not as much aimed at a younger crowd – I think it’s been adopted by a younger crowd,” he said.

“What we’ve seen globally is a migration of money through millennials and dot com millionaires and entrepreneurs coming through and running businesses and establishing themselves much younger than what the working environment (previously) allowed you to do.

“So it is a younger, more aggressive car, but not solely for a younger, more aggressive market.”

(Quite frankly this is high stakes BS. With the cars costing three quarters of a million dollars, do you really think spotty Johnny next door can afford these cars even with their black chrome Parthenon grilles?)

Dubbed Black Badge, the special variants are priced at $745,000 and $695,000 driveaway respectively – a $100,000 premium over regular variants.

As the name suggests, the traditional silver with black-lettering Rolls-Royce badge has been reversed to black with silver, the first time the Rolls-Royce badge has been changed in any way since 1933 when Sir Henry Royce decided to change the silver-with-red badge to avoid color clashes.

Inside the luxurious Wraith interior, wood paneling is replaced with one of two aluminium threaded carbon-fiber weaves, and the new ‘Unlimited’ infinity symbol is found in various places throughout the cabin, to represent the ‘infinite’ possibilities and capabilities of Rolls-Royce. (Who dreams up this rubbish?)

Changes under the bonnet include a torque boost in the Wraith from 800 to 870 Nm, while the eight-speed ZF automatic transmission has been recalibrated to hold gears for 300-500 rpm longer depending on which gear, while downshifting sooner when decelerating to assist with engine braking.

The 6.6 liter, 465 kW V12 will also rev to 6000 rpm when it senses the throttle is depressed at 80 to 100 percent. Gear changes are now faster says R-R, which will be of great value when the new owners take their Black Rollers on a track day.

Formula 1 calendar 2017. Get your pencils out!

26-Mar Australia Melbourne
9-Apr China Shanghai
16-Apr Bahrain Bahrain
30-Apr Russia Sochi
14-May Spain Barcelona
28-May Monaco Monte Carlo
11-Jun Canada Montreal
25-Jun Azerbaijan Baku
9-Jul Austria Spielberg
16-Jul United Kingdom Silverstone
30-Jul Hungary Budapest
27-Aug Belgium         Spa Francorchamps
3-Sep Italy Monza
17-Sep Singapore Singapore
1-Oct Malaysia Sepang
8-Oct Japan Suzuka
22-Oct USA Austin
29-Oct Mexico Mexico City
12-Nov Brazil Sao Paulo*
26-Nov UAE Abu Dhabi

Note, for 2017, Germany has been dropped from the schedule.

With the future of the Canadian event now secured, only the Brazilian round seems in doubt, the race, though almost certain to go ahead.

The most notable change being the race in Baku, Azerbaijan, which has been moved forward a week and will now not clash with the Le Mans 24-hour race. Furthermore, it will no longer form a back-to-back with Canada.

Moving the Baku event means that the Austrian/British back-to-back events have been moved forward a week, the 16 July round at Silverstone now clashing with the men’s final at Wimbledon.

Also affected by the Baku move is Hungary, which will now take place on 30 July.

Malaysia and Singapore will still be back-to-back as in 2016, but the events have now been switched with Singapore forming the first part of the double header as Malaysia looks set not to renew its contract when it ends in 2018.

While the original intention was to host the Mexican and Brazilian rounds back-to-back, the former event has now been moved back a week to pair it with Austin as was the case this year.

Once again, the season will conclude in Abu Dhabi (26 Nov).

So there you are!

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that the name of one of the very successful auto manufacturers relates to a Zoroastrian god. Clue, they began production in 1920, but not automobiles. It was Mazda.

The week before, I also got my own quiz answer wrong! The lightweight body Mk VII was in magnesium panels, not aluminium! Failing memory!

So to this week. Which racing driver took a gramophone record of his country’s national anthem to meetings, just in case the organizers didn’t have one?

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

Update December 3, 2016

Mazuzu design secured

Current Mazda BT-50.

Mazda and Isuzu have set guidelines for the next generation of Mazda’s BT-50 pick-up.

After many years of association with Ford at the Auto Alliance manufacturing plant on our Eastern Seaboard, where the current BT-50 is built alongside its sibling, the Ford Ranger, the partnership between Mazda and Ford would end.

Mazda senior managing executive officer research and development Kiyoshi Fujiwara has confirmed that he had signed off on the next-generation BT-50’s basics with Isuzu in early November.

Kiyoshi Fujiwara said, “The issue is that the sales volume of pick-ups in our markets is not huge, so we cannot develop by ourselves,” he told journalists at the Los Angeles motor show. “Therefore we also search for a partner. Fortunately, I reached Isuzu as a partner.”

Initially it was thought that Isuzu would only be developing the engines for the BT-50, but Fujiwara revealed that was not correct. “Earlier this month I visited Isuzu in Hokkaido, I discussed with Isuzu guys how to develop the pick-up truck for the future, and we have already input our requirements. Now properly, Isuzu can develop our next pick-up.”

Fujiwara pointed to the fact that the two companies have long shared technology via Japanese-market commercial vehicles. “We have a long, long relationship with Isuzu through Japanese commercial trucks, so I think the good commercial relationship is already done. It is a good result,” he said.

There were no specific details given of the next-generation truck, which includes the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, as well as the Mitsubishi Triton and the Holden Colorado and Isuzu D-Max.

“We want styling, of course, and good vehicle dynamics,” he said. “BT-50 is also our product and under our brand image. I cannot say which direction we are going, but this product is under our Kodo design and brand image.”

Isuzu’s next-generation D-Max will serve as the donor for the BT-50 range that is expected to offer 4x4 and 4x2 variants in cab-chassis, extra cab and dual-cab styles.

Mazda Motor Corporation managing executive officer and head of design Ikuo Maeda, meanwhile, said that designing the new pick-up will present its own challenges as the brand moves into a new era of more considered design.

What does a racer do in the traditional lay-off period?


A “Little guy” on his way to F1.
(Photo by Roland Hurni)

Formula 1 “shuts down” in November and does not publicly reappear until March the following year. Of course the teams continue to work, developing the new cars for the coming season, but that is F1. What happens in the less exalted levels of motor sport? Before going much further, I should explain what I mean by “less exalted levels”. This does not mean that I consider those categories anything “less” than F1. In fact, if it were not for the lower categories, F1 would not exist, something that the F1 industry should never forget. The “little guy” who runs his Honda in amateur races is just as important as all the F1 pilots. Believe me, I’ve been a “little guy” too.

Now here is the secret of sponsorship. A secret because 99 percent of race drivers can’t, don’t or won’t see what has to be done, from the potential sponsor’s point of view. The Golden Rule is that you have to tell potential sponsors what you can do for them – not what they can do for you, or how they can benefit from being involved with you. You have to work out what you can do for them, that they could not otherwise do for themselves. This takes time and thought by you, and is what takes up much of your off-season.

A race car is not, as many think, a high speed billboard. In fact, many times you can’t even read the signwriting as the car speeds past. As a mobile billboard, race cars are not good value for a sponsor.

So where does a sponsor get value? Go back to the concept of “what can you do for them”. Take for example, a body shop (something all race car drivers need). Race cars do attract attention. Brightly painted, they attract young males like bees to the honey pot. For a panel shop, you could propose that you leave the race car there, where it could be positioned outside on the forecourt every Saturday morning, and you will be there in person to answer questions. Not just questions about your race car, but questions about the panel shop. What paints are used? Do they have a jig to pull cars straight again? Is it accepted by insurance companies? You, effectively, become a promotions arm for the business. You are doing something for them.

That same concept works for every type of business that may sponsor you. You become the promotions team for that business. You have to know everything. Prices, delivery times, size of company, how long it has been established – everything. That takes time and study, and that is what takes up your time in the lay-off period. Learning to become a good representative for your sponsoring companies. You are offering potential sponsors a “free” employee – and everyone likes getting something for free!

Of course, your services are not really “free” as you want to receive something in return. That something is goods and services which will keep your race car going for the next 12 months. Panel and paint, batteries and auto electrics, tuning services and tyres are all items that are expensive if you have to pay for them out of your own pocket, but taken in the context of a large company’s budget, is just a drop in the ocean for them. At the level of the “little guy”, you are bartering your services as a promotional arm for them, in return for their goods and services. For corporations, this is much more attractive than handing over amounts of cash. Something to always remember.

Certainly, when you begin winning championships, then you may have a monetary value as well, but “little guys” have to start small and work up. Even the highly (over)paid F1 drivers started by getting goods and services until they became noticed.

Think about it. How much better will you go with a bigger Honda, rather than your Eco car? It is possible, but it does require time and effort, and the best time is in the lay-off period. Happy sponsor hunting!

What did we learn from Abu Dhabi?

Well, we learned that Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) has emulated his father in winning the World Driver’s Championship and his team mate Lewis Hamilton isn’t much of a “mate”.

Abu Dhabi circuit is not the most inspiring, and for the championship to go down to the wire on a circuit that does not promote passing, was an unfortunate roll of the F1 dice. For Rosberg to clinch the championship he had to finish at least third if Hamilton was first, and with the Englishman on pole it was most likely he would sail off into the distance, leaving Rosberg secure in second. However, that was not the scenario as the race wound on.

After the first round of pit stops it became obvious that Hamilton was slowing down, with the result that the pack was catching up with Rosberg and Hamilton, who was dictating the pace.

The Mercedes pit wall could see what Hamilton’s game was – get the Ferrari drivers on to Rosberg’s tail and a bungled pass would seal the title for Hamilton. This produced radio messages as “Lewis, this is Paddy (Lowe, the Mercedes Technical Director), we need you to pick up the pace to win the race.” This fell on deaf ears, resulting in “Lewis, this is Paddy, you need to pick up the pace. This is an instruction.”  “You should let us race,” Lewis said, ignoring the instruction.

Even the other drivers could see what Hamilton’s game was. Vettel (Ferrari) saying, “It was a difficult situation in the end with Lewis playing some dirty tricks.”

Afterwards, Toto Wolff (Mercedes team manager) said, “This was where we decided to intervene, he decided to ignore it. There’s just one thing: does this set a precedent for the future?”

One would like to think that our heroes are true sportsmen, role models for future generations, however, Hamilton has shown he is not one of those!

So despite his “dirty tricks” the good guy came second to win the World Driver’s Championship and put his trophy firmly beside that of his father Keke Rosberg.

The rest of the event was in actual fact, rather processional. It was the final race for both Jenson Button and Felipe Massa, whose F1 careers have come to an end. Button (McLaren) has been overshadowed by his team mate Fernando Alonso, but at least has one WDC in his career, while Massa was world champion for 20 seconds in 2008.

Verstappen (Red Bull) did by dint of clever strategy, come from behind to end up 4th, while his team mate Ricciardo ended up 5th.

Now comes the changing chairs event with Hulkenberg moving to Renault for 2017, for example. For his sake, I hope he knows something about Renault that nobody else does. Renault has been a back marker all 2016!


1 L Hamilton Mercedes

2 N Rosberg Mercedes

3 S Vettel Ferrari

4 M Verstappen Red Bull

5 D Ricciardo Red Bull

6 K Raikkonen Ferrari

7 N Hulkenberg Force India

8 S Perez Force India

9 F Massa Williams

10 F Alonso McLaren

11 R Grosjean Haas

12 E Gutierrez Haas

13 E Ocon Manor

14 P Wehrlein Manor

15 M Ericsson Sauber

16 F Nasr Sauber

17 J Palmer Renault

Chasing the amphibian dream

Amphibious car.

Man has been trying to build an amphibious car for decades. Here is one of the not so successful versions.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that Sir William Lyons used an Mk VII Jaguar as his daily driver. What was different about his Mk VII compared to the run of the mill Mk VII’s? And here was a clue – it was once owned by Rowan Atkinson, Mr. Bean himself. The difference was the fact that this Mk VII was constructed in the factory with an all-aluminium body. Despite their weight and somewhat cumbersome cornering, the normal Mk VII’s were surprisingly successful on the race circuit and this particular Mk VII lightweight did very well. I have owned a couple of Mk VII’s and really enjoyed them as daily drivers.

So to this week. The name of one of the very successful auto manufacturers relates to a Zoroastrian god. Clue, they began production in 1920, but not automobiles.

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]:

Russian GP this weekend (Pycckaya Fopmyla 1)

Ford’s pick-up destined for China

MG certainly resurrected

Autonomous cars’ technology

The 38th Bangkok International Motor Show

Autotrivia Quiz

In your eye Enzo!

Team Orders

What did we learn from the Bahrain GP?

Autotrivia Quiz

F1 in Bahrain this weekend

Autonomous cars

What did we learn from the Chinese Grand Prix?

Looking for a raise?


Chinese GP this weekend

38th Bangkok International Motor Show

The world’s fastest four seater

The air is electric in China

Natter Nosh and Noggin


38th Bangkok International Motor Show

What did we learn from the Australian GP?

Engineering laws


Vale John Surtees

Laws for Engineers

The F1 Circus starts again

Classic Car Show in Pattaya

Bangkok International Motor Show


Are you an Anchor with a W in front?

Classic MG’s

A ‘real’ Bentley

Peugeot buys Opel

Forget the M3 and the M5 and the M7

Bangkok International Motor Show embraces technology


A Mercedes-Benz pick-up? With free fire extinguisher

The Future as designed by Peugeot

Subaru to be locally assembled

A city electric car

The F1 season begins March 26 in Australia (Melbourne)

The F1 circus performers for 2017

An important date

Natter Nosh and Noggin


Ferrari’s latest - the 812 Superfast

So you want a Pagani?

Porsche rejigs the Panamera



Haval starts its export push

Elon Musk’ new factory

Last week it was the 7-Series BMW

Anyone for a 1953 Morris Oxford?

Is this the ‘ultimate’?


Bira 30 years

Shall I proceed quickly, Sir?

2017 Bathurst 12 Hour results

New McLaren Super Series for the “well heeled”

Car Engineering and physical laws!


GM and Honda gas go-ahead

Racing driver moves up

Volkswagen topples Toyota

What does VW make?


Female Supremacy

Mid-life changes to the new Mustang

Who goes where?

Deep pockets if you want the world’s fastest luxury four-seater

Crazy Auction prices


“New” Jaguar F-Type range

RR doing (illegal) business?

Not the gnus

The $5,000 race car

The Road Toll


Go park yourself

Musical chairs

Bottas to Mercedes?

I’m not as think as you drunk I am

And here’s another Tesla rival – or is it?



Will your car get nicked?

10 Speed transmissions

Looking for a Lotus 49?


Have you got rental insurance?

Hope the damage isn’t sealious

A Camaro for Dads at Xmas

Tales with Rover

Tales of a Tuk-Tuk


Would you pay 13 mio for a wreck?

Do you have a ‘classic’ in your garage?

Ford GT – a modern classic

Do you buy new cars on appearance, not engineering?

A true “classic”


Beware! Giulia might fool yah

Land Speed Record

The Spirit of Ecstasy

Is speedway the answer?

Autotrivia quiz

Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Matic sports sedan moves to the next league

Ford Fiesta previewed in Germany

Put your BeeEmm on lay-by

Matt or gloss – the decision is yours

Autotrivia Quiz

Put your name down for a Cord

What’s next? A Ferrari Pick-up?

Black days at Rolls-Royce

Formula 1 calendar 2017. Get your pencils out!

Autotrivia Quiz

Mazuzu design secured

What does a racer do in the traditional lay-off period?

What did we learn from Abu Dhabi?

Chasing the amphibian dream

Autotrivia Quiz



Chiangmai Mail Publishing Co. Ltd.
189/22 Moo 5, T. Sansai Noi, A. Sansai, Chiang Mai 50210
Tel. 053 852 557, Fax. 053 014 195
Editor: 087 184 8508
E-mail: [email protected]
Administration: [email protected]
Website & Newsletter Advertising: [email protected]

Copyright © 2004 Chiangmai Mail. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.