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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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!
Are you an Anchor with a W in front?
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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!
A Mercedes-Benz pick-up? With free fire extinguisher
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
Last year the Toyota HiLux was the nation’s
top selling ‘car’ outright, the first time ever a pick-up has led the Australian
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
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
The Future as designed by Peugeot
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
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
“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
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
Red Bull Racing
Sahara Force India F1
Williams Martini Racing
Scuderia Toro Rosso
C. Sainz Jr.
Haas F1 Team
Sauber F1 Team
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!
Ferrari’s latest - the 812 Superfast
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
2017 Porsche Panamera Turbo:
Vehicle type: Four-door, five-passenger
Powertrain: 4 liter, V8, turbocharged gasoline engine
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
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
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!
Haval starts its export push
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
“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
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
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
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
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.
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
For the Automania free beer this week, be
the first correct answer to email [email protected] or
[email protected] Good luck!
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
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
2. Matt Campbell/Marc Lieb/Patrick Long/David Calvert-Jones
- Porsche 911 GT3 R
3. Steven Kane/Guy Smith/Oliver Jarvis - Bentley
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
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
The lap time is almost eight seconds quicker than
Schneider's previous lap record in the lesser-powered AMG GT S variant, set in
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
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
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
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.
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
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
For the Automania free beer this week, be
the first correct answer to email [email protected] or
[email protected] Good luck!
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
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
“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
“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
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
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:
- C Coupe GTE
- CES concept
- Compact roadster
- Concept A
- Concept R
- Cross Coupe
- Cross Up
- EV Concept
- Golf Cabriolet
- GTI Roadster
- Kombi Beach
- Mini Van
- Sport Coupe Concept GTE
- Tiguan Allspace
- XL Sport
- 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!
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 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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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!
“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
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
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
One Xmas I received a telephone call from
John English, a good friend of mine and a previous partner in a race team in
“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
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
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
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
2. 75 percent of the people killed are
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
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?
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!
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
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
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!
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?
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
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
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?
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,
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
“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
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
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.
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
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!
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.
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 MyCarCheck.com 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
Porsche Carrera 4S.
Head of MyCarCheck.com, 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
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 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
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
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
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!
Have you got rental insurance?
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
Hope the damage isn’t
How high is the
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
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
Weight: 3,887 pounds, manual.
Price: USD 63,435.
Power: 650 horsepower, 650 pound foot
Performance: Zero-60: 3.5 seconds
(automatic), 3.7 seconds (manual) manufacturer).
Fuel economy: EPA 14 city/20 highway/16
Tales with Rover
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
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
The 825i proved itself to be a reliable,
semi-luxury carriage; however, I found a problem I never expected. The remote
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
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
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
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
Would you pay
13 mio for a wreck?
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
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
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 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
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?
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
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.
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”
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!
Beware! Giulia might fool yah
New Alfa Romeo
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
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
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
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
It also gets adaptive
dampers as standard, along with six-piston front and four-piston rear Brembo
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
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 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
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
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?
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
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 bikes themselves are
very simple and the following regulations apply:
Machines used must:
Weigh no less than 77 kg
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
Use shatter resistant
plastics where reasonable
Be fitted with a dirt
Be fuelled by methanol with
Be fitted with an approved
Have a handlebar width
greater than 650 mm and less than 850 mm.
Machines used cannot:
Be constructed in any part
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.
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
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first
correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected]
Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Matic sports sedan moves to the next league
Mercedes AMG E63
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
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
Ford Fiesta previewed in Germany
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
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
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
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
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
(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
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
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.
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!
Put your name down
for a Cord
That is a “Cord”, not an “Accord!”
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
What’s next? A Ferrari Pick-up?
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
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
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
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!
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
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
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
So there you are!
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
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!
Mazuzu design secured
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
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
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
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
“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.”
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
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
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
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
Man has been trying to
build an amphibious car for decades. Here is one of the not so successful
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!