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.

Rachel, 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.

Ferrari F 2004

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!

Autotrivia Quiz

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]

Good luck!

Bentley Continental GT. But is it a ‘real’ one?

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 vehicles either.

Bentley continental GT

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.

Lim Peng Han

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 Han.html

“My father has his own website, maybe you care to take a look at www.LimPeng - 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 living testament.

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