Bangkok International Motor Show
To say that this, our local motor show, just gets
better and better sounds as if I have been swept up by spin-doctor’s
hype. Let me assure you I have not. With me was our down-under
correspondent John Weinthal, a man who used to organise the Motor Show
in the UK, and since returning to Oz has been a visitor at all the
Antipodean events. The Bangkok Motor Show is infinitely superior, both
from the individual company stand’s presentation and the theatre
used in showing off their products as well as the venue.
It is bright, it is colourful and there was room to
move. The auto manufacturers had reserved enough space to be able to
properly display their vehicles. It was a pleasure and not a hassle to
Of course on Press Day, there is more razzamatazz
than on the other days and for me, the winner in the theatrical
presentation was Mercedes Benz with their adagio dancer who slid down
the long silk curtain suspended above the stage, closely followed by
Toyota, who put their ladies through the hoops and BMW with a group of
Perhaps a few words on the atmosphere at Press Day
might be of interest. When we arrived at BITEC there was already long
queues of motoring journalists (read anyone who had ever ridden in a
car before) all wishing to collect their press kits from the
organizers. There was a slight glitch when the foreign press kits (in
English) had failed to arrive, but that was corrected shortly
First there was the usual official opening
ceremony, at which the chairman of the Grand Prix International Group,
Dr. Prachin Eamlumnow, welcomed everyone and the heads of auto plants
and an assortment of ambassadors cut multitudinous ribbons to declare
the 24th Bangkok International Motor Show open.
Then at 15 minute intervals the moving mass of
media representatives descend on the various motor car
manufacturer’s stands while usually a bevy of very athletic young
ladies turn cartwheels and then leap in the air. This signifies a rush
by the media to the counter with their press releases and the, what I
like to call, “Gimmees!” These are the free gifts which are
generally tote bags, satchels, T-shirts, caps and the like. This year
I did score something in a box from Honda, which when I opened it,
turned out to be a mug. Ah well, a mug for a mug, I suppose. Pens were
also in short supply this year, with only Citroen doing us the honours.
Being Press Day, the organizers also provide a full
press office, complete with lap-top computers. It was not their
problem that I hate lap-top key boards. Those small fiddly items that
big clumsy fingers like mine cannot use without striking at least two
keys every time. But if you imagine that’s a drama, try the
ridiculous “mouse” that won’t run in the direction you want. It
is not a case of placing the pointer on the spot, rather it is a case
of coaxing and cajoling the b*st*rd in the general direction. Having
run out of “jai yen yen” very quickly, I gave the lap-top game
away to another waiting scribe and decided to check the internet after
I had returned to my hotel!
There were also a few releases at the show with
Ford showing the world premier of the new Ford Everest, a seven seater
Sports Utility Vehicle (or SUV for short). I must admit that I am not
a great fan of the SUV style of transport, and the Everest could not
be called a tour de force from FoMoCo’s styling department. Words
like “bland” and “ordinary” come to mind. Even the Ford
hand-out merely described it as having “Tough authentic SUV styling
with commanding road presence.” To me, it had all the styling of a
ten year old Nissan Patrol or Toyota Troop Carrier.
Even their own publicity department was scratching
for things to say, describing how they relocated the spare wheel from
underneath the box to the rear tailgate, to give the vehicle
“authentic 4x4 looks” - spare me!
Everest comes as a 2.5 litre inter-cooled turbo
diesel or a 2.6 petrol engine and is offered in 2WD or 4WD. The
transmission is also either 5 speed manual or a 4 speed auto, but why
anyone would want a ‘sporty’ manual gear selection in such a
plebeian looking vehicle is beyond me. It is very definitely not a
sporty looking vehicle, and I doubt whether it is sporty to drive
either - but I shall wait until Mr. Ford gives me one to test before I
make that final judgment.
On a plus note, it does offer split front/rear
air-conditioning control. In this climate that is a decided plus. And
another plus is that it is to be sold in over 50 countries, which can
do nothing but good for the Thai economy, and since it is produced at
the local Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate (the Detroit of the East)
and has 80% local content, this is good news for the local parts
manufacturers as well.
DaimlerChrysler did also offer a ‘first’ of
sorts, the RHD version of the previously released LHD Mercedes 200
cabriolet. A nice enough car, but the 280 rag top looked sensational.
Also on the MB stand was the big AMG Mercedes which local president
and CEO Karl-Heinz Heckhausen claimed was the fastest big saloon in
the world. With 0-100 clicks in 4.6 seconds, that is certainly
impressive. The Chrysler end of the stand looked as if it had been
forgotten about and they rustled up a few Jeep Cherokees to fill up
More on the Motor Show next week.
Last week I mentioned a very British make which
derived its name from the Japanese flag, building two experimental
cars in 1899, with production starting in 1901. I asked what is its
name? The answer was Sunbeam. In 1897, John Marston, an enamel and
tin-ware manufacturer established the Sunbeamland cycle works, given
the name from his ‘japanned’ enamel goods. Production began with
the Sunbeam-Mabley of 1901. Sunbeam eventually became part of the
Rootes Group and has since disappeared.
So to this week. A very famous aristocratic German
was one of the famous pre-WWII Mercedes aces. He was present at the
release of the Mercedes-McLaren a few years back. He died this year.
Who was he?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first
correct answer to email [email protected]