Last week I mentioned that dual foot brakes, with one that
worked on the transmission and the other at the wheels were offered and I asked
on what cars? The answers included Mercedes, Gobron-Brillie and
Delaunay-Belleville. The idea was that you alternated the brakes coming down
steep hills, to stop brake fade.
So to this week. A very famous French racing driver raced
under a pseudonym, which he took in memory of his pioneering driver uncle. He
was a world class tennis player and an ice hockey specialist. He raced in F1,
but only six times, retiring in three and scoring no points. I want to know,
what was this driver’s real name?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected]
Toyota Avanza hits Thailand’s shores
The much touted Avanza has arrived, and I took the
opportunity to have a quick look at one the other day. Made in Indonesia, it is
the result of cooperation between Daihatsu (owned by Toyota) and Toyota Motor in
Indonesia, as a response to the Indonesian government call for a cheap local
According to Tokyo, the vehicle centered on maximizing the
strengths of both Daihatsu and Toyota Motor Corp, resulting in a
high-performance and high-quality innovative compact vehicle at an affordable
Their take on it is that Avanza boasts a refined and stylish
exterior and hood design and a comfortable and sophisticated interior with
multiple seat arrangements. An advanced package allows three rows of seats in a
compact body only four meters long, delivering ample space for up to seven
It also comes with a newly developed high-power,
high-performance and highly fuel-efficient engine (1.3 liter) and a suspension
system that offers a comfortable ride and stable handling.
It is produced at Daihatsu’s Indonesian production base,
PT. Astra Daihatsu Motor (ADM), and sold through PT. Astra International (AI)
and PT. Toyota-Astra Motor (TAM).
Toyota is confident that the new small car - based on
Daihatsu’s small-car production know-how and Toyota’s quality - is a new
type of vehicle that can be globally competitive. Total investment in this
project is USD 90 million.
Well that’s the blurb from Toyota Motor Japan. Looking at
the vehicle, it is a very standard front engined, rear wheel drive, drum braked
rear, scaled down people mover. It does have tricky rear triple row seats, so it
will seat seven (or probably a family of ten Thai people). It does have air-bags
and ABS brakes and a variable valve timing engine that develops 88 bhp, say
Toyota, but at only 1.3 litres I reckon it might get a little breathless with
seven up. But we shall see.
It was not expensive, and with its lack of engineering
sophistication will probably last forever! What it drives like, I have no idea,
but I will try and get my backside in one as soon as possible.
Toyota are importing 700 a month at this stage, and there are
back orders for the car in Indonesia.
Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia
With Thailand being well represented in the international
Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup by Nattavude Charoensukhawatana, currently the
joint leader with Hong Kong’s Charles Kwan (88 points), the next round in
China should be interesting.
This will be August 14-15 at Beijing’s Goldenport Circuit
in rounds 6 and 7, as the season reaches the half way stage. The championship
title is still wide open as just 16 points adrift is Malaysia’s Rizal Ramli.
The Malaysian has collected pole positions for four of the five rounds held so
far, winning three. Ramli, who previously competed in Formula 3 in Europe, won
both rounds in Thailand last month.
A colleague of mine is A-Ha Racing’s Matthew Marsh who is
fourth going in to the next rounds but will also be on top form coming fresh
from his win in a support race for the British F1 Grand Prix.
Kwan is sponsored by Infineon, but knows that he is in for a
tough time. “Nattavude and Rizal will be my biggest challenges in Beijing, but
Matthew is also a quick driver,” said Kwan.
Another Thai driver, Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak, is in fifth,
while local identity Bill Heineke is there too, racing in the ‘Gentleman’s
class’ called Class B for amateur drivers. Bill missed the Thailand rounds at
the Bira circuit because he was in Italy having a fang in a Ferrari Cup car.
Class B is led by Max Chen of Taipei with 27 points, followed by Dr. Toshihide
Hashimura of Japan.
The Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia runs as part of the
Asian Festival of Speed, organised by Malaysian-based Motorsport Asia Limited.
Good news if you’re lusting after a Lambo
Those of you with a spare 30 million baht for a Lamborghini
Murcielago (or even 19.5 million if you want the ‘cheapie’ Gallardo) will be
heartened by the news that Niche Cars Ltd is a new company set up in Bangkok to
import Lambo’s and other exotic sports cars. They have even set up a Lambo
service center under the concept “Passion for Perfection” according to the
latest issue of ASEAN Autobiz. Those of you who have the misfortune to have one
of those diabolic Diablo’s now have a place to go to have all the bits that
drop off glued back on again! (And I’m not joking!)
Mitsu on the mend - well at least in Thailand
With Mitsubishi Motors in Japan being in more strife than
Flash Gordon, it is heartening to see that Mitsubishi Motors Thailand (MMTh)
claim that their profits last year were higher than predicted and they exported
a record 82,000 vehicles from our shores.
President and CEO of MMTh, Hisayoshi Kumai, claimed that the
Laem Chabang assembly plant is working at capacity, and despite problems
elsewhere, including the parent company in Japan, there were no plans to
down-size, and in fact they were looking at expansion in Thailand, with more
dealerships. Currently they have 92 with 142 showrooms.
Earlier this year, before the fit hit the shan, Mitsubishi
had promised a 21 billion baht expansion fund for MMTh, but the new CEO Kumai
claims this is still happening, despite plant closures in Japan and Australia.
“The investment is well underway and being carried out in stages,” he said.
MMTh will also introduce the new Space Wagon people mover in
a few months, to make another player in the market initiated by GM with their
very successful Zafira.