Alfa Spider returns
Alfa Romeo comes back with an all-new Spider, to be released at the Geneva
Motor Show at the end of this month. Known as Project 946, the Alfa Spider comes
with a choice of engines and transmissions. The ‘cooking’ model has the 2.2
JTS (190 bhp / 235 Nm) engine, while the performance model gets the 3.2 V6 JTS
Q4 (260 bhp / 335 Nm ) motor, plus All Wheel Drive, with the predominance going
to the rear wheels.
According to Alfa Romeo, the Alfa Spider recalls the glorious
Alfa Romeo tradition in this sector (from the Giulietta Spider in the ‘50s to
the Duetto and the Nineties model), and rolls out some cutting edge solutions in
terms of mechanical specifications and engines.
The new Spider is a generously-sized two seater – 1,830 mm
wide, 4,396 long and 1,367 high. The interior of the Alfa Spider is inviting and
it has automatic dual-zone climate control, steering wheel mounted radio
controls, from VDC to cruise control. With air-conditioning being standard, Alfa
Romeo expects that the roof will be up for much of the time.
The Spider has high double wishbone suspension at the front
and Multilink at the rear to complement theQ4 AWD. Alfa Romeo also say that the
Spider will feature the most sophisticated electronic vehicle dynamic control
devices. Let us also hope they have managed to stop the rust problems that have
beset Alfa Romeo for many years!
Will Valentino go to Ferrari?
Many are predicting that two wheel star Valentino Rossi will
switch from two wheels to four at the end of 2006, when his contract with Yamaha
runs out. I would suggest that all the pointers would have to agree.
He is undertaking “testing” with Ferrari all this year,
and he would not be doing this if there was no intention of ever racing an F1
car. If it were just a passing whim, then he would have stopped after
experiencing it the first time. “OK, I’ve done that, what’s next?” sort
of thing. But no, he has continued to test, and recently at the same time as
other F1 drivers.
Rossi recently took part in a three-day test program with
Ferrari at Valencia. It started off badly when he spun on lap 1 in the rain, but
by the end of the three days, even Michael Schumacher was heaping praise on the
According to Schumacher, Rossi’s first day spin was
explainable. “That mistake was understandable,” he told the French newspaper
L’Equipe. “When a driver sets off with wet tyres they cool down straight
away on the first lap and so it’s easy to skid. For him it would have been
like driving on ice.”
By the end of the three days, Rossi was lapping only one
second slower than Schumacher, and faster than many of the current F1 drivers at
Valencia. Schumacher believes that Rossi could make it in F1. “He has enough
talent to succeed. It’s entirely possible for him. I’d even say it’s
easier to go from motorbikes to cars than the reverse. And when, like Valentino,
you have this special feeling on two wheels, you can easily use that with
With many predicting that Schumacher will hang up his helmet at the end of
the year, would Ferrari take on Rossi? Of course they would. An Italian in an
Italian car is the publicist’s dream combination.
Last week I mentioned that the pre-war Opel Kadett resurfaced
in 1947 in another country, and called the “Son of XXXXXX”. I asked by what
name was it known as in the rest of the world? The answer was the Moskvich,
which apparently means “Son of Moscow”.
So to this week. An easy one. What was the engine in the
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
[email protected] Good luck!
Now a one wheeled motorcycle!
Again I am indebted to a reader (and an old friend) John
English, my partner in the race team for many years, who dug up this photograph.
The thing is a motorcycle, complete with handlebars and the engine simply turns
the outside ring. As it spins, the whole contraption will then move forwards. I
don’t think it will catch on, as it can’t carry the requisite family of four
as per the Honda 125 in this country!
Thailand Hondas to Australia
Go-Auto in Australia reports that the Honda management
Down-under is looking to double its market share by the end of this decade, and
that 75 percent of its vehicle line-up will be coming from Thailand. This must
be good news for the Thai auto industry.
Honda Australia is looking for the new Civic to boost their
market share this year as they believe they will have a significant price
advantage with the Thai-sourced cars, compared to their competitors sourcing
vehicles from Japan, South Africa and Europe. There will also be the face-lifted
Accord due out mid-year which will have new cabin trim, a restyled rear end and
The Jazz that is sold in Australia is currently being built
in Japan, but the new model, due out 2008, will also be manufactured in Thailand
and exported to Australia from here, with cost advantages against the similar
models from Suzuki and Mazda.
By the way, the spied have it that the Honda NSX super coupe will
return in 2008 with a V10 engine, Ferrari-beating performance, and even a hybrid
model to make it popular with the environmental lobby.