First GP for 2004 this weekend
The Australian GP is on this weekend in Melbourne.
Despite the Aussie electrical union trying to wield a big stick with a
“5 percent wage increase or we’ll turn out the lights” threat, I
have it on good authority that the event will go on, even if they call
in the army to plug in their generators.
the Oz GP Girl welcomes new drivers
All the teams have been very cagey this year, with
Ferrari, McLaren and Williams never testing on the same circuit at the
same time, except at Imola - when it snowed! So we don’t really know
if any team has an advantage. Mind you, I think you can safely guess
that Minardi will be at the tail of the field with Jordan! We will
know after qualifying on Saturday.
The tyre advantage from last year that Michelin
enjoyed will not be as evident this year, as I am sure Bridgestone
have not been sitting on their hands doing nothing over the Xmas
break. Undoubtedly a few Michelin cases found their way to Japan and
were examined minutely.
The one factor that will be the same as last year
is driver skill. Schumacher M will always be a contender. Likewise
Raikkonen and Montoya. Ralf Schumi will give his usual on and off
performances. Barichello will cry again. Alonso will be up there. Sato
could surprise. Mark Webber will pick up his Jaguar and run around the
track faster than the car should go. Trulli and Fisichella will
disappoint. Button? I reckon he could drop his bundle if Sato out
performs him in the first few races. Coulthard? I hope he enjoys his
final year with McLaren, as there is no way the Ronster will renew his
contract for 2005.
However, let’s look at the Melbourne race and see
what really is what, and what is total conjecture. By my reckoning, it
should start around 10 a.m. our time, but check with UBC as I don’t
want you left behind!
Last week I wrote that staying warm has been an
acknowledged need in motoring since the early days, with the first hot
water bottles upholstered to match the interior trim. Taking hot water
from the engine and feeding it through radiators to warm the cabin was
first seen in America in 1926, though similar foot warmers were found
in the Canstatt Daimlers in 1897. However, one very different heating
system was a catalytic type petrol heater mounted on the engine
bulkhead and fed from the car’s main fuel tank. It was released in
1954, and I asked which car? It was the air-cooled Dyna 54 Panhard,
but this heater was soon discarded, drawing hot air from the cylinders
on the engine.
So to this week. Remember the movie “Get
Carter” starring Michael Caine? His pursuer drove a red Jaguar Mk
II. These cars came with 2.4 litre, 3.4 litre or 3.8 litre engines.
However, funnily enough, the Jaguar Press Department never let a 2.4
out to be tested by the motor noters of the day. The question this
week is “why”?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first
correct answer to email [email protected]
Bentley Continental GT. But is it a ‘real’
What with Rolls Royce ending up in BMW’s camp and Bentley
going to VeeDub, the 90’s were not all that kind to the paragons of stiff
upper lip motoring. Recently the world press has been running reviews on the new
Bentley Continental GT, but where ‘old’ Bentleys used to be based on R-R’s
with a different grille, the ‘new’ Bentleys are also not original one-off
The Bentley Continental GT is built off the same Modular D
platform as the Volkswagen Phaeton and the new Audi A8, so it is no surprise
that the vehicle draws heavily on some familiar names from the German supplier
industry, says Automotive News in the US. For instance, all three vehicles get
their six-speed automatic transmissions from ZF Friedrichshafen, their bumpers
from Dynamit Nobel and their navigation systems from Siemens VDO.
Bentley’s parent company Volkswagen produces the complete
rear axle module for the Continental GT, as well as the car’s front axle
corner modules at its chassis works business unit in Braunschweig, Germany;
however, these are shipped to the UK where the car is assembled in Crewe. This
plant is set to produce 3,500 units this year.
Volkswagen group invested 318 million euros in upgrading the
Crewe factory and for supplier tooling to build the Continental GT. The money
was part of a 736 million euro investment VW committed when it bought the
British luxury carmaker in 1998. Bentley has recruited more than 1,000 people
over the last three years for the Continental GT project.
A surprising marketplace for the Bentley has been China. Reports are to hand
that even though the cars have not yet arrived on China’s shores, the
Guangzhou Bentley dealership took orders for 80 cars between October and
December last year.
Lim Peng Han
A few weeks ago I wrote about a Jaguar SS 100 that was buried
during the Second World War in Singapore. According to the legend, the car had
been disassembled by an enthusiast, Lim Peng Han, buried in his garden so that
the Japanese forces did not find it, and after the war he dug it up and
reassembled it. At the time, I did write that this was a story given to me
secondhand, so I could not verify it. I also wrote that this was the kind of
story that should be made a movie.
I am now very proud to report that the item was indeed
correct, with Lim Peng Han’s son having made contact with me by email. It
appears that his father saved more than just the Jaguar, but a special Maserati
and a Bugatti as well!
Here is the letter I received:
“Dear Dr Iain,
“I just want to let you know that the story that you have
written is a true one, as I as a youngster did sit in that SS 100. Also I was
with my father when we went to Silverstone, when we walked past a chap who was
explaining a similar story that was told to him when he bought his Maserati, so
my father stopped to talk to gentleman and asked him would he like to meet that
man? The man was a bit baffled and looked at my father as to say, what are you
talking about, as he had not realized that we had over heard his previous chat.
My father then said, “You are looking at that man. Yes I buried that car and
if not you wouldn’t have it now!” See some info at
“My father has his own website, maybe you care to take a
look at www.LimPeng Han.com - I think you will see some historical moments.
“He did have a Bugatti which was supposed to be for when I
could drive but it vanished to the USA and still I have not traced it.
“He also raced a Supercharged Keift to which he fitted a
1000cc JAP engine and a supercharger and boy did this thing fly, check out old
Singapore Motor Club events.
“If I was able to get a film producer interested in writing
this love story cum historical film would you be able to retrace the SS 100 for
a possible making of a film to a tribute to Lim Peng Han Singapore’s finest
Racing Drivers of the time?”
Naturally I am delighted to have heard from Lim Peng Han’s
son Arthur, and when I next go to Singapore we will meet. Unfortunately, the man
himself, Lim Peng Han died last year aged 91. However, his cars live on as
Apart from the SS 100 he also resurrected a Maserati Tipo 4
CS 1100, chassis # 1126, and engine # 1126. This car has a wonderful history,
with Luigi Villoresi and Count Giovanni Lurani being amongst former owners, and
a Singaporean owner, Joshua Lee being murdered. Lim Peng Han ran the car in the
Johore GP in 1950, fitted with an SS 100 engine (THE Jaguar SS 100 perhaps?).
From there it went to a Ted Holloway, without engine, gearbox and body, in the
US, and was fitted with a De Soto V8 engine. After this shuddering experience it
went to a Ken Painter, in the UK in 1969, restored by 1985 and raced at the VSCC
Silverstone in 1991. This would have been the gentleman Lim Peng Han spoke to at
Silverstone! All the pieces are now clicking into place! Any other enthusiasts
like to add to this saga?
The Eff Wun Calendar
A few folks have asked for the F1 dates for 2004, and since
some of you obviously missed the full calendar I printed a few weeks ago, here
is a brief aide memoire, so you can pencil in the dates.
07 Mar - Australia
21 Mar - Malaysia
04 Apr - Bahrain
25 Apr - San Marino
09 May - Spain
23 May - Monaco
30 May - Europe
13 Jun - Canada
20 Jun - USA
04 Jul - France
11 Jul - Britain
25 Jul - Germany
15 Aug - Hungary
29 Aug - Belgium
12 Sep - Italy
26 Sep - China
10 Oct - Japan
24 Oct - Brazil