Kia launches the K9 - do you want one in your kennel?
Kia has released their flagship, known as the K9 in
Korea. For all the dog lovers, it will get another name for its export
markets. The Kia Kitty perhaps? (Pussy was rejected on obvious grounds.)
Currently on sale in Korea, the model
has more than a passing resemblance to the BMW 6 Series, for my money. It
has the prominent grille reminiscent of the 6 series, LED headlights and a
dual exhaust system. Overall, it measures 5090 mm long, 1900 mm wide and
1490 mm tall with a wheelbase of 3045 mm.
It is Kia’s first modern rear-wheel
drive vehicle which combines stylish design with luxurious comfort, engaging
driving dynamics and advanced high-tech features, so you can see who they
are aiming at.
The cabin is equipped with premium
leather upholstery, metallic trim and an infotainment system. Features
include a 12.3 inch full size Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD cluster, a HUD
(head-up display), twin 9.2 inch monitors to entertain rear seat occupants
and a 17 channel, 17 speaker Lexicon (by Harman) sound system and Smart
Cruise Control (SCC) which adjusts the vehicle’s speed to maintain the
distance from the vehicle ahead.
Other technical features include a lane
departure warning system, a blind-spot detection system and an around-view
monitor with four cameras.
“K9 is all about elegant simplicity,
balanced proportions and simple surfaces,” says Kia’s Chief Design Officer,
Peter Schreyer. “The class-leading long wheelbase, the prestige distance,
large wheels, sharply upright short overhangs and a long sweeping shoulder
line all work together in a harmony to give K9 a sporty, athletic proportion
and a confident stance quintessential to a premium large rear-wheel drive
“While embodying a new generation of
Kia design, K9 is a clear signal of our intention and determination to
compete head-to-head with the European luxury brands (read BMW in there).
And for Kia, our customers, and for me - this car is like a dream come
true,” concludes Schreyer.
The K9 is powered by a 3.8 liter MPI V6
that produces 213 kW (286 hp), with the more powerful 3.8 liter GDI V6 with
246 kW (329 hp). Both engines drive through an eight-speed automatic
transmission that sends power to the rear wheels.
Four driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport
and Snow) enable the driver to choose a preferred set-up of suspension,
steering, engine and transmission ideal for various road conditions or
With Korea’s Hyundai doing very well on
the world automotive stage, Kia obviously feels that the time is right to
expand as well. It will be interesting to see just how the K9 performs on
the same world stage.
What did we learn from the Spanish GP?
Well, before we even saw them line up in the grid on
Sunday, we had already seen that Qualifying has become a total farce. Cars
doing one lap because they have to save their tyres for the race!
Schumacher has gone down on record to say that the “racing” is no longer
full on, but just tyre management. I agree, and so do millions of other
spectators. It is the difference between “racing” and a high speed parade.
It is impossible to write about the
Spanish GP without heaping praise on Pastor Maldonado in his Williams. The
Venezuelan has shown speed before, but rather erratic, but this time he
drove an exemplary race, able to stay in front of Alonso’s Ferrari quite
comfortably, as the Spaniard’s tyres went off song (see the opening
paragraph!) and he was unable to mount a challenge. His team mate Felipe
Massa may as well have been in some other team as he did not provide
anything for Ferrari, other than embarrassment. Massa must go, and he
should fall on his sword before he gets given the DCM (Don’t Come Monday) by
Maldonado’s team mate was another
dragging the chain, qualifying amongst the hopeless tiddlers and finally
getting rear-ended by Michael Schumacher on lap 12. This is the second time
Schumacher has done this and I wonder if his depth perception is going off.
Quite possible at his age. However, the stewards were not impressed and
Schumi has been given a five grid place penalty for the next Grand Prix
(Monaco May 27). Nico Rosberg in the other Mercedes trundled round and
round finishing seventh before falling asleep.
The Williams team celebration was cut
short on the Sunday night when there was a fire in their garage. The
weekend was also Sir Frank’s 70th birthday. Perhaps an errant
candle from the cake?
“Lotus” (nee Renault) is certainly now
in the top group, with laughing boy Raikkonen keeping everyone amused with
his quips in the post-race interviews. When asked what he said to Finnish
viewers he replied, “It's Mothers' Day in Finland. I had nothing else to
say to Finnish viewers.” Third and fourth (Grosjean) shows that they are
now very close to a win.
Sauber had a mixed day, but Kobayashi’s
fifth place was the result of KK’s usual spirited driving. Sergio Perez did
not have a good day. A mechanic tripped over a tyre during a pit stop,
delaying his release and then the transmission failed.
Normally front running McLaren did not
have a good weekend. Lewis Hamilton was demoted after qualifying on pole as
he did not return to the pits under his own power, to line up for fuel
sampling. OK, so it is an FIA rule, but in my opinion, a stupid one (to add
to the other hundred or so nonsensical rules) and the penalty far too
heavy. Hamilton’s running mate Jenson Button had more than a bad hair day,
it was a bad hair weekend. Was it the car? Was it Jenson?
And what happened to the famous Red
Bull finger? Current WDC Sebastian Vettel was another of the trundling
team. Always in the top 10 but not shining in any way, and collecting a
drive through penalty for not slowing for a yellow flag. Team mate Mark
Webber did another of his now famous reverse gear starts and then slowly
made his way towards the top 11, but could not pass a Force India.
The rest were never really in the race,
and Charles Pic in the Marussia won’t be getting a Xmas card from Alonso
after holding the Spanish driver up for one complete lap.
BMW E30 for anyone?
Gavin Charlesworth’s wide-body
E30 - pic credit Dr. Jeff Harper.
The Retro Championships have been flooded with BMW E30’s
this year. The drive(r) behind this is Gavin Charlesworth from EBC Brakes
who presented six E30’s at the Nitto 3K Retro meeting at the beginning of
BMW E30 Wide body - 4.0 V8 M60 - Gavin
(Team EBC Brakes)
BMW E30 Wide Body - 3.0 6cyl S50 (M3) -
Frank (team B-Quik Racing / EBC Brakes)
BMW E30 - 2.7 6 cyl M50 - Peter (Team
BMW E30 - 2.5 4 cyl M10 - Vinay (Team
BMW E30 - 2.0 4 cyl M44 - Kaz (Team
BMW E30 - 2.0 4 cyl M44 - Pong (Team
Grilliku Gulf / EBC Brakes)
After the first meeting, I received an
email from Gavin saying, “A fantastic weekend was had by I think all. As
always at the beginning of the season there were some gremlins in the cars
that had to be chased away leaving us very little time for practice on
“We qualified in the wet on Saturday
morning which allowed us to brush up on our car control skills. We have a
clip up on You tube of most of the field going either in the wrong direction
or parked in the woods.
“Saturday afternoon dried out putting
us back up to speed for Retro and open RWD and Sunday amazingly stayed dry
Here is a link for some You Tube
channel clips from Gavin’s V8 and Peters straight 6 E30's.
It is worth a look at the clips which
were taken through the windscreen of an E30 and will give you the driver’s
eye view of the twisty Bira circuit.” (You will also catch a glimpse on a
couple of clips of a certain white Securitas Mk1 Escort fighting with some
rather quick newer race cars.)
Ford’s Rayong plant open
Thai built Ford Focus.
The new Ford plant at Rayong has had its official opening
and production has commenced of the Ford Focus and derivatives from the
Focus platform, such as the small SUV Kuga.
The new Ford Thailand Manufacturing
plant will have a production capacity of 150,000 vehicles a year, boosting
the annual Ford Thailand production to 445,000 vehicles.
The new Rayong plant is capable of
producing up to six models from the one Focus platform, with the latest Kuga
compact SUV going into production in Rayong alongside the Focus from 2013.
Export Focus vehicles have been mainly
coming from Ford’s Saarlouis plant in Germany, but by September, exports for
Australasia will be coming from Thailand.
For Australia, this allows Ford to take
advantage of Australia’s free trade agreement with Thailand, which will
reduce the import price by five percent.
Ford Australia already gets its
Australian-developed Ranger pick-up from Thailand, where it is produced for
global markets alongside the related Mazda BT-50. These are not produced in
the new plant, but are manufactured in the Ford-Mazda joint-venture
Auto-Alliance plant that is also set to get a $27 million expansion to lift
production by 20,000 units a year.
The Auto-Alliance plant also produces
the Ford Fiesta for Australia, alongside the similar Mazda2. Initially the
Thai Mazda2 was exported to Australia before Mazda Australia switched its
sourcing back to Japan due to supply constraints in Thailand as a result of
the flooding stopping production of the parts suppliers, even though the
Auto-Alliance plant was not inundated.
Ford Asia, Pacific and Africa president
Joe Hinrichs said Ford remains committed to Thailand as a production hub;
however, Hinrichs has also announced a major expansion of Ford’s Chinese
manufacturing operations, with a plan to double production there from the
current 600,000 units a year to 1.2 million by 2015.
The age of self-deploying cup-holders is here
The J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Automotive
Emerging Technologies Study has shown that vehicle owners have come to
expect additional safety features and are now turning their attention more
to infotainment technologies in their vehicle.
anywhere cup holder.
The study measured vehicle owner
interest and purchase intent for emerging automotive technologies, with the
clever rider that the interest was taken both before and after market price
The top-five considered technologies,
based on vehicle owners who indicated that they “definitely” or “probably”
would purchase in their next vehicle, both pre-price and at market price
Pre-Price Feature Interest
Light emitting diode (LED)
Wireless connectivity system 68%
Remote vehicle diagnostics 65%
However, when the price was revealed
the interest changed:
HD radio (at $100) 52%
Collision mitigation system (at
Wireless connectivity system (at
Surround-view rear-vision camera (at
Personal assistance safety services,
I am sure multiple cup-holders would
have come a close sixth, as purchase interest fell across all features when
the price was introduced.
According to Mike VanNieuwkuyk,
executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates, “While
vehicle owners remain very interested in technologies that make their
vehicle safer, they are turning their attention more and more toward
features and technologies that allow them to be productive, connected and
entertained while in their vehicles. Given the variety of interests from
consumers, automakers will be challenged to pursue technologies that fit
their consumer’s interests in order to attract them to their products.”
You have been warned, the
self-deploying cup-holder is almost here!
Thai Auto Book 2012 predicts a good auto year
The best and most authoritative e-publication available
on the Thai auto industry is the Thai Auto Book 2012
(thaiautobook.blogspot.com) compiled by the Automotive Focus Group president
The statistics on the Auto Alliance
plant are interesting, with the combined plant having the capacity of
195,000 units (pick-ups) and 100,000 cars. Forward bookings for the new
Ford Ranger are 16,500 and 13,500 for the Mazda BT-50.
Saudi Arabia is also an interesting
market for Thai made vehicles. According to Thai Automotive Institute,
approximately 20 percent of Thai car exports go to the Middle East.
Thailand exported about 750,000 cars in 2011 and 20 percent of that is
150,000. Saudi Arabia recorded sales of about 550,000 vehicles in 2011 - so
roughly every third car sold in Saudi Arabia is made in Thailand. The
popular makes are Toyota (41 percent and 230,000 vehicles), Hyundai (19
percent) and Ford (eight percent).
Hyundai are certainly on a roll. Now 5th
largest automaker it is showing double digit growth in Europe, where the
overall market is in decline. One reason is their quality, regularly
out-performing the better known brands in the quality stakes.
Add those predictions to the news from
David Nardone (CEO Hemaraj) that they have revised their land sales and
ready-made factories figures upwards for 2012, with the bulk of the
purchasers being involved in the auto industry.
Provided the manufacturers here can
find (and keep) skilled labor, it would seem that the Eastern Seaboard is in
for a record year.
The development of the brain bucket
Safety helmets have been shown to reduce road
fatalities. A quick ‘Google’ returned, “Motorcyclists are at high risk in
traffic crashes. A 2008 systematic review examined studies on motorcycle
riders who had crashed and looked at helmet use as an intervention. The
review concluded that helmets reduce the risk of head injury by around 69
percent and death by around 42 percent.” These are statistics happily
ignored by most of Thailand’s motorcycle riders, unfortunately. Helmet use
at Songkran would halve the annual fatality figures.
The ultimate helmets are worn by F1
drivers, as the highest potential for injury lies there. Although its
fundamental shape may look very similar to those worn by drivers in the
1980s and even the 1970s, the underlying design and construction technology
has changed radically over the years.
In 1985 a typical F1 helmet weighed
around 2 kg. That amount increased dramatically under high-G cornering or
deceleration, adding to the risk of 'whiplash' type injuries in big
accidents. As head and neck trauma has been identified as the greatest
single risk of injury to race drivers, helmet manufacturers place the
greatest importance on reducing the mass of helmets, while increasing their
strength and resistance to impacts.
Current F1 helmets are massively
strong, and also considerably lighter, now weighing approximately 1.25 kg.
Helmets are constructed from several separate layers, offering a combination
of strength and flexibility (vital to absorb the force of large impacts).
The outer shell has two layers, typically fiber-reinforced resin over carbon
fiber. Under that comes a layer formed of vastly strong plastic, the same
material used in many bullet-proof vests. Then there is a softer,
deformable layer made from a plastic based on polystyrene, covered with the
flame-proof material used in racing overalls and gloves.
The visor will be made of a special
clear polycarbonate, combining excellent impact protection with flame
resistance and excellent visibility. Most drivers use tinted visors, the
insides of which are coated with anti-fogging chemicals to prevent them
misting up, particularly in wet conditions.
In recent seasons the actual shape of
helmets has gradually evolved, as more aerodynamically efficient shapes are
brought into use. Sitting directly below the main engine air intake,
helmets are increasingly shaped to assist in the process of reducing drag in
this notoriously high-turbulence aerodynamic area. The modern designs also
reduce the lift produced by more traditionally shaped helmets - which can be
anything up to 15 kg at racing speeds.
The helmet design must also provide
ventilation for the driver. This is achieved through the use of various
small air intakes, though in tropical Thailand I have never found they work
As you would expect, the FIA have
strict ‘super helmet’ requirements for F1 racing. To gain approval for
Grand Prix use, a helmet design must pass a number of tests, covering
factors such as crush and penetration resistance and surface friction. It
must also work correctly in conjunction with the mandatory HANS (Head and
Neck Support) device.
Top helmets here will set you back
around 30,000 baht, but there are cheaper models available from good
Audi copy Porsche in Asia
Audi Series racing.
The very successful Porsche Asia Cup series has been
joined by Audi with there “me too” series in Asia. One of the top drivers
attracted to the new series is Malaysia’s Alex Yoong, scoring the top step
on the podium in his first race in China.
Rene Koneberg (director of Audi Sport
customer racing China) said, “We set out to raise the bar on standards of
motorsport in Asia, and our fantastic field of drivers, and fleet of superb
Audi R8 LMS Cup cars, have done just that. We could not have hoped for a
more exciting first weekend of Audi one-make racing, and for us to debut
here in China makes it all the more special. The enthusiasm with which the
Audi R8 LMS Cup has been received by the motorsport fraternity has been
extraordinary, and we have no doubt we will go from strength to strength
Thailand in the box seat with Suzuki
Word is out that the Suzuki Swift and Alto (the
down-market eco car version) will be produced in Thailand, with a world-wide
Suzuki’s new $250 million Thai plant
opened on the Eastern Seaboard last month to produce Swift, initially for
local markets, but that looks as if it will certainly change.
Japan has been the source of much of
the world export Suzuki’s, but with the Rayong plant coming on strongly, and
with the FTA’s with other ASEAN countries and Australia, it makes good sense
to have the production base here in Thailand.
It was reported in the daily press last
week that Suzuki’s new Thai plant would build a second small car alongside
the Swift, saying it would be “based around the next-generation Alto”.
With the Alto going into production in
Thailand under the ‘eco-car’ scheme that rewards manufacturers with a range
of benefits, it makes sense for Suzuki Australia to switch its source from
the current Suzuki Maruti factory in India. Suzuki Australia recently lost
hundreds of Alto sales due to a prolonged strike at the Indian plant.
If Suzuki Australia does sign up for
our local Thai production, it will join Honda, Ford, Nissan - and from later
this year Mitsubishi - to source small or light cars from this country.
Toyota Australia has also expressed a
desire to switch its small vehicle production to Thailand from Japan to cut
costs, should production slots become available. Toyota are also looking at
the Fortuner going to Australia, as well as the Vigo 1-tonner pick-up.
Suzuki have another new plant being
built in China as a joint venture with Changan Automobile in the western
Chinese city of Chongqing. Due to open in the third quarter of 2013, the
new plant will double Suzuki production in China to 500,000 units a year.
However, Suzuki expects all of the production from this plant will go into
the Chinese domestic market.
China firmly in control
It is only a decade ago that the mode of transport in
China was a bicycle. Those days have really changed, and China is now the
dominant marketplace in the world’s auto industry. Last year Porsche had a
22 percent increase in profits, riding on the back of a 22 percent increase
in sales in China. In fact, they sold more Porsches in China than anywhere
else! The starving millions in China that we were told about as children
are now the well-fed millionaires!
The latest manufacturer to pledge
itself to China is Ford, which is spending USD 760 million to build a new
plant in Hangzhou, which should be able to produce 250,000 vehicles, which
is one of the eight plants that Ford has committed to Asia (including our
new one on the Eastern Seaboard). Ford expect that the new plant will bring
them close to full strength in Asia by 2015.
When you look at the number of vehicles
produced and sold by GM and VW, you can see just why Ford had to join the
race. GM sold 2.55 million cars, and VW close behind at 2.26 million
vehicles. Ford sold under 400,000. The aim with the new plants is to
increase sales to 1.2 million vehicles in 2015, but even at 1.2 million,
they are still a long way behind rival GM.
With Ford’s stated aim of increasing
global sales by 50 percent in this decade, it will need a very strong
presence in Asia, and China in particular. Ford estimates that by 2020, 33
percent of its sales will come from Asia and Africa.
On the local front, the new Ranger and
its mechanical twin, the Mazda BT-50, have been racking up such strong sales
(8,500 delivered since December/January) that the Ford Mazda Alliance is
further developing the AAT plant in Rayong with an injection of USD 27
The extended plant will increase the
output of their pick-ups by another 20,000 units. With the combined factors
of the 300 baht minimum wage, and a shortage of trained labor, Ford/Mazda’s
new plant will feature robotics to counteract this, and they also claim that
this will reduce production time and increase total output. (The auto
industry has the potential to be in a state of flux over the next 18
Why Go-karts are not the go in my household
12 months ago I was inveigled by Gavin Charlesworth (the
EBC Brakes man) into a social evening of playing with Go-karts. I am never
doing it again.
I have to say that the organization by
the EasyKart people of the racing track and karts at the Bali Hai pier was
excellent, complete with a TV monitor showing you which kart you had been
Before you go out, you grab one of the
several helmets from the racks, each one rather well used and sweaty. Being
a doctor, I also hoped that the previous wearer did not have any
communicable diseases, giving it a good shake to dislodge any nits it might
have been harboring.
And so we all got into our respective
karts, and quite honestly, I didn’t have a care in the world up till that
point (other than the nits), and other than the fact I had to beat this
young whipper-snapper called Gavin Charlesworth. After all, I had been a
racing driver for 45 years and he had been a racing driver for about 45
minutes. There was pride at stake here. And I had the famous T-shirt
emblazoned with the motto “The older I get - the faster I was!”
Now, since we all went out in single
file, it was a little difficult to see just where GC was in the line, but I
did know he would be going for it, but so was I. “Age, experience and
animal cunning beats youth and enthusiasm any day,” being another of my
Now you also have to understand that
this was a night race. Never mind the Singapore Grand prix held under the
lights, this was the Pattaya Grand Prix under lights. However, the local
lights were not quite as bright as Singapore, so I had difficulty spotting
the back of the Charlesworth head in the semi-darkness. Or perhaps it was
But wait! Yes, there he was, and I set
off in earnest. That he had a faster kart was without doubt, pulling away
from me down the straights while I closed up under brakes, as any crafty old
driver would do.
And now comes the episode with a
certain chap in a blue shirt. I was braking for a hairpin, while
concentrating on how I was going to pass our trusty organizer, when I
suddenly received a go-kart up my rear at full noise, using me for brakes.
After recovering my breath and
desperately squeezing the kart away from the wall on the outside, I looked
ahead and Charlesworth and his mate were gone. He was in a blue shirt, and
if we had any more laps I would have waited for him to extract revenge, but
time was up. I looked for blue shirt afterwards, but in typical Thai way,
he had “fled the scene”. But I can wait, oh yes, I can wait!
The new Viper - fangs and a sting in the tail
Viper - a man’s car.
Many years ago I had the opportunity to drive the first
version of the Dodge Viper on a race track. Eight liters of V10 engine up
front producing more horsepower than the chassis could handle, brakes an
optional extra, and I returned to the pits with a smile that would have
taken a team of undertakers two weeks to get rid of. Since then, along with
many others, I have remained a dyed-in-the-wool Viper fan. However, a couple
of years ago the Viper production was halted and enthusiasts feared the
However, at the New York Auto Show this
month, Chrysler revealed the fifth iteration of the Viper. With the
take-over by Fiat, the Dodge Viper is now called an SRT Viper, but it is the
same Viper formula. Great big engine up front (now 8.4 liters of V10 with
640 BHP), a long bonnet, strictly two seats, sidewinder exhaust system and
is a real man’s car.
The new Viper will go on sale at the
end of 2012 and is officially a 2013 model year car. LHD again, and we will
be unlikely to see any examples on our local goat tracks, more’s the pity.
I’d like to give another one a fang around a circuit.
What did we learn from the Bahrain GP?
Well, we learned that the “days of rage” did not actually
happen, and despite the calls for the race to be cancelled, the F1 circus
did what it does best - putting on a show and entertaining the fans. Mind
you, there were not many fans in the grandstands…
We also learned that even if you have
seven world titles and over 90 pole positions, if your car lets you down in
the first part of qualifying you won’t make it through to Q2. Hence Michael
Schumacher (Mercedes) starting at the back with the embarrassing company of
HRT, Marussia and a Caterham. However, we also saw that Schumi went from 22nd
on the grid to the final point-scoring position in 10th.
The Finger was waved again in Bahrain,
both in Qualifying and in the race, where Vettel (Red Bull) was not headed,
and other than a scare mid-race with Raikkonen sniffing his backside, it was
a stroll in the desert for the current world champion, now at the top of the
Raikkonen (“Lotus”, nee Renault) won a
huge number of fans for his dogged determination to catch Vettel and he
deserved his second place. His team mate, the young Frenchman Grosjean also
showed lots of tiger and was delighted with his first podium finish.
“Lotus” is certainly a strong team and Raikkonen seems to have lost none of
his touch following his two year stint of crash testing for Citroen.
Mark Webber did not look happy at any
stage and it was a lack-luster 4th for the Australian Red Bull
driver, finishing over half a minute behind Vettel. However, on the plus
side, his start was OK, so all that practice on the Red Bull factory
forecourt was beneficial.
Rosberg (Mercedes) was 5th
at the end, but was up before the stewards for two instances of moving over
on other cars that were trying to pass him. This form of blocking is far
too prevalent in F1 of late (and in some other categories unfortunately). I
believe that the stewards should have penalized him but their letting him
off means that this dangerous behavior will continue - until someone is
launched into the wall, or over the fence and into spectators. There are
times when a faster car is going to pass you on the straight, there is
nothing you can do about it, so just accept it and try and outbrake him at
the end of the straight. Moving over to try and block the maneuver shows
poor sportsmanship and is very dangerous. Rosberg went right down in my
One of the stars of the race was
DiResta in the Team Poppadum Force India. Working on a two stop strategy he
managed to save his tyres enough to hold off Alonso in the Ferrari over the
final few laps and claim 6th. His team mate Hulkenberg (12th) is
being overshadowed by his Scottish partner (though I doubt if you will find
a DiResta tartan in any of the books on the Clans and Tartans of Scotland).
McLaren had a dreadful weekend, with
Button expiring and Hamilton finishing in 8th after the left rear
wheel problem experienced on Button’s car in China recurred on his - twice!
TV pundits claimed it was a wheel nut problem, while I believe it is a hub
Massa (Ferrari), only two places behind
Alonso. Has he won a reprieve? We shall see.
It was an exciting race with plenty of
action as the DRS worked and by tyres that last less than 10 laps at racing
speed. Strategy has become as important as the driver.
Another boost to the local vehicle production
News through this month of another new car from Suzuki’s
Rayong plant. Following on from the downsized engined Suzuki Swift eco-car,
comes word of the Suzuki Alto, an even smaller vehicle which will also be
eligible as an eco-car. Currently the Alto is built in India, but the
production will shift to Thailand after next year.
Projected prices for the Alto are below
350,000 THB, and with the 100,000 THB rebate for first time car buyers, this
puts motoring within the reach of more people, and along with the increase
in the minimum wage, expect roads full of Alto’s.
Whilst this is all good news for the
new car buyers and the new car dealerships, the same cannot be said for the
used car industry. With so many new eco-cars under 450,000 THB, how much is
a second-hand car going to be? You will be seeing some bargains coming up
Even boats fall off trailers!
Having been involved in motor sport for far too many
years, I have seen some of the funny situations that have occurred. By the
way, all the following tales are totally true.
Getting race cars to the circuit always
produces some whimsical moments as well. An incident happened with one crew
on the way to the Mt Cotton hill climb circuit. They arrived and got out to
drive the car off the trailer - except there was no car on the trailer!
They knew they had put it on the trailer, so they hurriedly retraced their
route and there it was, sitting in the middle of the road at a set of
traffic lights. Obviously they had not tied it down and it just quietly
rolled off backwards after they had taken off. Fortunately no damage, and
nobody had hit it.
Motor racing may be serious, but the
people involved in it are all “characters” in one way or another. By the
way, all the following tales are totally true.
One relates to one of the top motor
racers in Australia, who brought his Holden sedan racer from Sydney to
Brisbane to compete against the best that the Brisbane teams could offer.
On paper, the cars were very similar in all respects, but the Sydneysider
was quickest after the first practice. It was then that one of the local
crews spotted the opposition sawing off the end of the exhaust pipe. Being
a quick thinking young lad, he noted that the other team had dropped it in
the rubbish bin and retrieved it. Rushing off to his team, they sawed
exactly the same length off their exhaust pipe, this obviously being some
sort of demon tweak. However, while they were doing it, the Sydneysider
came past. “Why are you doing that?” he asked. It was then that he also
revealed that the reason they had sawn the end off theirs was they had
changed trailers and the exhaust pipe was sticking out and catching on the
side of the trailer!
This next one happened to one of my
team members, and I was the witness to it, and we still laugh about it. We
had been invited to do some promotional laps at the local dirt speedway with
our four car team, running them between each race. Our fourth member was
running late and rocketed in with just five minutes to spare. “She’ll be
right,” he said, after releasing the tie-downs holding the car on the
trailer, and then neatly reversed the race car off his trailer, but he had
forgotten to put the ramps in position, and it jumped off the end. Luckily
no damage, despite its one meter drop-off.
The next true (and amazing) tale
happened when I was on a Porsche club rally, and we were coming back from
Adelaide, a 3,000 km trip. Australia is a big place! We had pulled into a
motel for the evening, and we were 11 cars, every one a Porsche 911. I got
out, pushed the locking button down on the driver’s door and swung the door
shut. As it clicked into place, to my horror, I saw that the keys were
still in the ignition. What to do? Porsches are just about thief-proof,
and none of us were accomplished car thieves like Nic Cage in the great
movie “Gone in 30 seconds”. In desperation, I asked for the other 10
driver’s keys and tried them in my door lock. Amazingly, the keys from the
911 parked closest to mine opened my door! And just as amazingly, my key
would not open his, though his would open mine. But neither key would
operate the ignition of the other car. I was certainly lucky that evening.
The final story is about a motorcycle
racer who used to travel to meetings with his race bike in the sidecar of
his outfit. It blew a piston on the way to a meeting but the resourceful
rider turned up a new piston out of hardwood, fitted the rings, fixed a
metal plate to the top of the piston and carried on motoring! That’s what
we call ‘bush’ engineering.