Automania

Just for a giggle

John English, my old team mate in the motor racing game (for about 20+ years, from memory) sent me this little item which brought enough of a smile to my face, so I thought I would share it with you, so I hope you enjoy a truly wonderful motor car joke.

A lady walks into a Porsche dealership. She browses around, then spots the perfect car and walks over to inspect it. As she bends over to feel the fine leather upholstery, a loud fart escapes her. Very embarrassed, she looks around nervously to see if anyone has noticed her little accident and hopes a sales person doesn’t pop up right now.

As she turns back, there standing next to her was a salesman. “Good day, Madame. How may we help you today?” Very uncomfortably, and to try and draw attention away from what she has just done, she asks, “Sir, what is the price of this lovely vehicle?” He answers, “Madam, if you farted just touching it, you are going to s**t yourself when you hear the price!”


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked which 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?

You needed to know your Aussie GP history for this one. The answer was the Maybach special, the first of these Australian “series” was built by Charlie Dean of REPCO in 1947 using a Maybach WWII Scout car engine, and it made its debut at the Australian GP of 1948 driven by Charlie Dean himself. Two years later, and driven by Stan Jones, the father of the later World Champ Alan Jones, it came second in the Australian GP. In 1953 it appeared as the MkII version, but retired from the GP and in 1954 it was destroyed at Southport Queensland, in front of 50,000 spectators when it fell in half when it landed after a yump.

It reappeared in 1955 AGP with the Maybach engine inclined within a new chassis, as the Mk III, and started from the front row of the grid, but did not finish after running strongly in third spot, albeit without a clutch release mechanism which had broken. Sorry about being so parochial, but some of you guys must have web-crawling spiders that are exceptionally well trained.

While still on about the Maybach name, I must commend John Gilding in Arizona who correctly identified the Maybach, after contacting some chaps in the UK who were unsure as to whether the car was a Voisin or the Maybach. The triangular radiator badge and the double M insignia were the visual clues. Also the name across the grille was “Zeppelin” a name not likely to be used by the French Voisin company!

And so to this week, and let’s make this easier. An amateur British racing driver had the sex on his birth certificate changed from “boy” to “girl” - who was it? Let the web-spiders loose! And may the best tarantula win!

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]

Good luck!

Is F1 a sport for fags?

The FIA has just issued (another) statement on tobacco advertising, stating in legal-speak (Max Mosley is after all a barrister), “On legal advice the FIA has withdrawn the ban on tobacco sponsorship in motor sport voted in October, 2000 (for implementation in 2006) and substituted the following as a recommendation - that motor sport promoters and competitors (including circuit owners, event organisers, teams, and drivers) should cease all forms of tobacco sponsorship from October 1, 2006.”

Just in case you’ve missed it, the European Union now wants tobacco advertising in F1 banned from late 2005, but this was after the EU and the FIA had originally agreed on the 2006 deadline. This decision by the EU was not done in consultation with the FIA but came as a directive.

In retaliation (and that’s really what it is all about), FIA President Max Mosley has warned that a ban in 2005 could result in Europe losing many of its current races with Belgium missing from the calendar this season and Austria (along with at least one other, thought to be San Marino) sure to be missing in 2004.

These rounds are to be replaced anyway as both China and Bahrain are due to host rounds of the F1 World Championship in 2004, with Turkey, Russia, India and many others queuing up behind. And just incidentally, none of these countries come under the EU and in all of those countries, tobacco advertising is still allowed.

Another point which seems to escape the rule-makers is that the F1 race cars, complete with fag company advertising prominently displayed, will be televised and can be seen freely in the no-tobacco advertising EU countries. The current situation all looks very futile to me. I do not believe that all the huffing and puffing (sorry about that) by the FIA is for “noble” reasons, but purely ways to soften the blow for the enthusiasts, when the axe falls on favourite European circuits.

I should also point out that I am biased, and totally against tobacco advertising, and in fact ran under the “QUIT” banner for ten years in Australia. My medical training tells me that cigarette smoking is unhealthy, and moves to reduce the world’s dependence upon the weed get my backing, so don’t send me hate mail. OK?


Jaguar S-Type R. Effortless, exhilarating driving experience

One of my oldest friends is our Down-Under correspondent John Weinthal, with our association going back more than 40 years (and it only seems like yesterday he was throwing up in the back garden after a heavy night on the turps - how time flies). However, there are some days I could quite easily detest the man, and when I find he has been swanning around in a Jaguar S-Type R for the past week, while I am pedalling the family Daihatsu Mira, this is one of those days. I remain green with envy - but here are the Words from Weinthal.

“The Mercedes E Class, BMW 5 Series and Jaguar S-type ranges embody probably the world’s most desirable family sedan choices for enthusiast drivers. These represent the second tier size-wise for their makers - below the S Class, 7 Series and XJ range respectively.

“To drive almost any of these cars is to experience something quite special - even the smallest engine, entry models look and feel right at all times. The top models from each are in another league entirely - in performance, purpose and price! At the top of these ranges we find probably the world’s greatest four-door, five-seaters - the BMW M5, Mercedes E Class AMG and Jaguar S-Type R. These are three discretely styled and quite brilliant V8’s for the well-heeled who don’t need to shout about it.

“Jaguar’s S-Type R is the least expensive at a mere AUD 162,500. This is some AUD 33,000 less than the M5 BMW which weighs 5kg less than the Jag’s 1800kg and is a fraction less powerful.

“The E55 AMG Merc weighs about 95 kg less than the other two, but its 5.4 litre V8 develops a crushing 350kW - but it is supercharged to get those numbers. However, at AUD 222,000 it is in another price league altogether - some AUD 60,000 over the Jag.

“The 4.2 litre supercharged Jaguar V8 driven over the past week develops 298kW. It is simply the fastest production Jaguar sedan ever. The BMW’s 4.9 litre V8 pumps out 294kW, so these two are line ball all the way from zero to their electronically limited max speeds of 250 kph.

“Almost everything about the Jag is a stand out example of how the best is delivered. It looks stunning, inside and out. The power memory front seats are supremely comfortable over any distance. All the controls are clear and logical - some, like the simply adjusted and very accurate cruise control set a new standard for ease of use. For some, the Jag will prove a bit squeezy in the rear seats, and the boot is not as large as the M5 or Merc.

“In spite of the S-Type R’s lavish equipment list there are some optional extras. How about AUD 250 for rear cupholders; AUD 1000 for electrically adjustable foot pedals or AUD 1290 for reverse parking control? For AUD 100 you can have a first aid kit or AUD 6000 buys you a navigation system. (For $100 I’d want a nurse thrown in as well - Dr. Iain) The test car seemed way beyond adequate while wearing none of this gear. And if you think Jag might be having a bit of a lend of you when listing such prices stay seated if you dare look at what Merc and BMW ask for their options!

“This Jag is ultra-refined and hushed at normal cruise and around town, but the sound on full song is sheer delight. The car’s ride over any surfaces is extremely good by any standard; for a car riding on 18 inch wheels with 35 profile tyres it is the ultimate in Jaguar magic.

“This 1800kg six-speed automatic transmission car will outrun a Subaru WRX. It also handily disposed of Nissan’s fabulous new 350Z in a mad moment’s joy for my son and me earlier in the week - only up to 100kph of course, officer...

“But you do not have to indulge the Jag’s tremendous accelerative thrills all the time. Like every Jag, here we have a luxury sedan which will move you in sybarite manner regardless of your timetable or road condition. It handles dirt and poor surfaces as well as, if not better than, any large sedan I have experienced.

“There are only two significant factors which may deter you from truly enjoying the Jag’s potential. First, you might wish to retain your driving licence, and secondly there’s the little matter of an enormous thirst for premium unleaded. Gun it too often and you too will have trouble extracting 300km from the 70 litre tank. Even if you can afford it - as buyers of AUD 162,000 cars no doubt can - one doesn’t want to be visiting a petrol station that regularly.

“This is a car which delivers an effortless and exhilarating driving experience. My son, no longer young and far from stupid, had the decency to grin as he suggested we fail to return this S-Type R to Jaguar. I was almost tempted ...”


French GP this weekend!

Yes, I know it’s only a week since the previous round in Europe, but with the crowded calendar it is the only way the GP circus can get a three week respite in August. With distances being very small, it is easy for the teams to shift camp from Nurburgring in Germany to Magny Cours in France for the Frog-leg GP too.

The track is interesting, having started life as a go-kart track, being enlarged and finally made into a GP track after an initiative by President Mitterand. It 3.85 km long and has a couple of long straights with hairpin bends which should encourage passing manoeuvres (if the current crop of GP drivers haven’t forgotten how to do it). It has been the venue for the French GP since 1991.