Last week to stop the webcrawlers, I published another
picture of a car to identify. This photograph was taken at an international
motor show in the 1930’s and I asked what car it was? It was indeed the
Maybach, all 12 cylinders and the biggest car exhibited at the International
Automobile Show in Berlin in 1933.
Since a few of my readers expressed ignorance of the marque,
a little about Maybach will not go astray. The ‘father’ of the cars was
Wilhelm Maybach, who as a young man was taken under the wing of Gottlieb Daimler
(yes, the DaimlerChrysler Daimler). Wilhelm’s son, Karl Maybach began to
produce cars under the family name in 1919, with the development model being
built on a Mercedes chassis. They produced 1,800 Maybach’s between 1921 and
1940, but they too were casualties of WWII. The name was revived in last year,
with the new behemoth displayed at the Geneva Motor Show. The Daimler connection
is still there - the car being built by Mercedes at their Sindelfingen plant and
they can produce up to 1,500 Maybachs each year. Benz have produced this car to
be the epitome of motoring snobbery. I doubt if they’d even take our phone
call, but if you were the head of a telecoms firm in Thailand, I would suggest
they’d send a plane to get you!
Each car is individually tailored to your own requirements.
The electronics are such that Peter Hausserman, DaimlerChrysler’s director of
telematics, said that his company’s Maybach luxury car showed just how
intricate this could be. “The Maybach rear-seat entertainment system is the
most complex system we have ever developed,” he says. “Then we have to
incorporate very special needs of customers, since each system is more or less
So to this week. Which well-known GP race car had a Maybach
engine? And who was the driver? And what has all that to do with ex-world Champ
Aussie Alan Jones?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected]
European GP this weekend at
Oh if it were only the original Nurburgring! That would
really sort out the men from the boys. However, even on the ‘new’ de-tox’d
circuit, at least the circus is back in Europe and we can watch the race at
sensible hours. I believe that will be 7 p.m. our time - but as always, check
your local TV feed for the correct time.
The original Nurburgring was built in the Eifel Mountains in
Northern Germany in an attempt to attract tourists. It first hosted the German
GP in 1927 when the full 17.58 mile circuit was used, but from 1929 only the
14.17 mile Nordschleife (North Loop), with its 176 corners, was used for the
During the 1960s, the circuit received increasing criticism which resulted in
an S bend being built at the end of the long finishing straight to slow the cars
as they passed the pits. By 1970, the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association had
demanded a list of improvements which called for the ironing out of bumps, the
felling of thousands of trees to create run-off areas, the installation of Armco
barriers, a better surface and the re-profiling of some corners. Following a
serious accident to Niki Lauda in 1976, it was deemed too dangerous and in 1984
the new 2.882 mile circuit, a modern autodrome with little character, was
constructed close to the original track. It is a pale shadow of the former
circuit, which still exists today and is used for Touring Car races. Drivers who
still compete there speak in terms of awe of what is possibly the most demanding
circuit ever constructed. The public can also have a fang around the famous
Nordschleife by paying a few euros, and I can personally assure you that it is
worth it, if you have the opportunity.
So what did we learn from the Canadian GP?
While once more the TV race callers whipped themselves into a
frenzy of excitement, it didn’t do the same for me. The reason the four cars
at the finish were line astern was because they couldn’t pass each other! Once
Michael Schumacher in the Fazza got through to the lead at the pit stop, there
was nothing Ralf S or Montoya in the BMW Williamses could do about it. They were
joined by Alonso’s Renault, who had caught them with about five laps to go at
around one second a lap, but once he was on the back of the high-speed train,
there was nothing he could do either.
Talking about BMW Williams, Ralf Schumacher has decided to
extract the digit, and at the high speed power Gilles Villeneuve circuit of
Montreal, he showed a decided flash of brilliance in qualifying to snare pole
position. Wunderkid Raikkonen hung his McLaren on the wall again in Qualifying,
the second time this year. Ron Dennis would not have been happy, while his
running mate, David Coulthard put in another lack-lustre performance.
Again at the Canadian GP, the quickest off the mark on the
first lap was Justin Wilson in the Minardi. He manages to leap-frog his way from
the bum-end through to the middle of the field every race, bringing words of
wonder from the telly-bletherers, but we never get to see it. Surely there must
have been one camera to record all this? I was moaning about this to the
well-known motoring scribe Dr. Mike Lawrence in the UK who wrote back,
“Remember when Alonso was with Minardi? We never saw him until the Spanish GP
when the Spanish director highlighted a local hero. There he was like a terrier
snapping at the heels of a Benetton when he should have been nowhere near a
Benetton. Nobody who saw that will be surprised by his performances this year.
When will we see Justin? Don’t hold your breath.”
What else did Canada teach us? Once more I lament the
reliability of the current crop of F1 machines. The world’s most expensive
motor vehicles appear to have exploding hand grenades for engines. Less than
half the field staggered through to the end. For 10 million dollars an engine,
you’d want a little more reliability! Surely? Probably what should be done is
to give everyone of the F1 teams a supply of Toyota Corolla engines to use
instead. They’d only need one per season. Certainly cut costs!
What else did we learn? Well, Rooby Baby Barichello is still proving quite
conclusively that he is definitely Number Two material at Ferrari. Likewise
Ralph Firman at Jordan and Pizzonia at Jaguar are not covering themselves in
glory. There are probably better drivers out there in the lower formulae and I
hope we get to see new fresh ‘talent’ in 2004.
Pick-ups continue to pick up
Vehicle sales in Thailand continue to improve, with the one-tonners
leading the way. Sales of around 400,000 units are expected by the end of the
year, but analysts are saying that production will be around 700,000 units by
the end of 2006.
Fuelling these buoyant figures is the fact that domestic
sales of pick-ups rose by almost one third so far this year over the same period
last year. This comes after another record setting year in 2002.
With AFTA around the corner, many of the major manufacturers have plumped for
Thailand to be the manufacturing base for the Asian basin, including Toyota,
Isuzu, Mitsubishi and Ford/Mazda. Much of the output is directly destined for
export, including Europe and Australia. For example, Toyota indicates it will
spend 30 billion baht to raise its local annual output of pick-ups and MPV’s
to 200,000 a year by this time next year. Ford Sales Thailand also reports an
increase with its Ranger pick-up series, up 14% in the past two years.