So what did we learn from the US GP?
Well, for starters, Alonso certainly generated
some bad press for himself (and for McLaren-Mercedes) before the US
GP, claiming that he wasn’t settled in at McLaren and that the
English team favored his young English rookie team mate. Words such
as “dummy” and “spit” immediately came to mind, after his poor
performance in Canada. He was a little better after the US GP,
despite his antics on the straight after being unable to make
Hamilton cede position, but if he were to put on a smiling face and
say what a great job the youngster was doing, the world would love
him for it. It would not mean that he was giving up fighting for the
title - which is a long way off yet, with 10 races to go.
What can you say about Hamilton that hasn’t been said everywhere
else? He still impresses with sheer talent, and his humble and
non-aggressive nature off track. However, he showed that he is not
at all over-awed by the two times world champion. He is ready for as
much wheel banging as Alonso can throw at him.
Another driver with a nose out of joint is smiling boy Raikkonen.
The expensive import to Ferrari has been shown up (again) by baby
face Massa. Kimi does not understand what the word “team” means.
If Toyota were ever to need a reason to get rid of the
under-performing Schumacher, they certainly got it at Indy. Another
first lap bingle (or should that be ‘bungle’) by our Ralf. This time
saying that it was cold tyres or industrial fall-out or something
and it was just a “racing incident”. Is there anyone that Ralf
hasn’t hit in the past two seasons? As one of the highest paid
drivers out there, he knows more than anyone that you don’t win
races at the first corner, you only lose races at the first corner.
With big brother gone, the Schumacher name will not mean much any
Another classic monitor of driver performance is the driver’s team
mate. After all, you are in the identical car, no matter what the
driver might say. Some interesting statistics here. After six Grands
Prix, Trulli in the Toyota has out-qualified Ralf 6-0. At the
Williams camp, Rosberg has out-qualified Wurz 6-0. At Tosso Rora
Liuzzi has out-qualified Speed (there’s an oxymoron for you) 5-1,
and even the dreadful Spykers have driver stats showing Sutil 5-1
over Albers. Team managers should have (will have) no compunction
over firing Ralf, Wurz, Speed and Albers. Those four just aren’t
performing. And when you remember that Ralf commands a salary that
probably exceeds the GDP of some small emerging nations, would you
be hanging on to him? Even further up the grid, relatively
inexpensive Massa has out-qualified his expensive imported team
mate, Laughing Boy, by 4-2.
There were some good drives down through the field, and Sebastian
Vettel, at 19 years of age impressed. Very close to Heidfeld, and
for some reason there appears to be no love lost between BMW and
their lead German driver. I would not be surprised to see a
Kubica/Vettel pairing at BMW next year, as Heidfeld’s contract runs
out this year.
The other driver showing much promise was Sutil, getting the Spyker
up and into scraps with cars way above its station. I would not be
surprised to see Sutil in Toyota next year (if Toyota continues).
Last week I asked you to check out this photograph. I wanted
to know what car it was. Clue: It was driven by Hermann Lang. Those of you who
thought it was pre-war Mercedes were all wrong. It actually was a post-war
A few words about the Veritas marque are in order. This was a post-war company
started by an Ernst Loof, using initially the BMW pre-war 2 liter six cylinder
engine, and then later a two liter built by the Heinkel aero company.
Spece-frame chassis and alloy bodies, they were quite advanced for their day.
Unfortunately, as part of the post-war reprisals, German cars were not allowed
to compete outside Germany, but Veritas did well in local competition. They were
expensive and the marque died in 1953.
So to this week. Headlights have been the subject of much in the way of
government regulations. For example, headlight design was hindered by the USA
for many years as the regulations did not allow any cover over the headlights
for aerodynamics for many years. This meant that early E-type Jaguars did not
have the cover over the headlights. However, what I want to know this week is:
who was the designer of the first retractable headlights? No clues, sorry, this
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Is this the fastest street-legal coupe?
The Brabus SV12 S Biturbo coupe is claimed to be the most powerful coupe
in the world - it is also the fastest street-legal coupe. With performance
figures of 0 - 100 km/h in 4.0 seconds, 0 - 200 km/h in 11.9 seconds and an
electronically limited top speed of 340 km/h this is neck-snapping stuff.
Based on the latest Mercedes CL 600 model, the SV12 S Biturbo coupe can be
ordered as a complete turn-key car starting at 178,980 euros (eight million baht
on the straight conversion and then factor in freight and duty) or can be built
based on your existing current CL 600 model that you have lying around the
The engine is based on the turbocharged Mercedes 600 12 cylinder engine and
represents the most powerful street-legal V12 engine in the world producing 730
hp / 537 kW at 5,100 rpm. If you think the power is impressive, wait till you
see the torque! 1,320 Nm at just 2,100 rpm, which is limited electronically to
1,100 Nm, or otherwise it would just screw the end off the crankshaft or
something equally as diabolical.
To get this kind of power from your ‘cooking’ model Benz 600, there is a special
Brabus stroker crankshaft which along with a bigger bore and correspondingly
sized forged pistons, increases displacement from 5.5 to 6.3 liters. The
cylinder heads are precision machined and four new camshafts are fitted, two new
exhaust manifolds, two larger turbochargers, a high efficiency intercooler and a
high performance exhaust system with metal catalysts and low back pressure. And
that is how you get 730 brake horsepower! And apparently, the engine is green as
well, passing the stringent Euro IV emission limits.
Power is transferred to the rear wheels via a modified five speed automatic
transmission. The optionally available Brabus locking differential optimizes
The body trim was developed in the wind tunnels with the front apron reducing
lift on the front axle and improves engine and front brake cooling due to its
large air inlet. The rocker panels and rear apron were also developed in the
Wheels are also special Brabus items and you get the choice of Monoblock
light-alloy wheels with diameters of 18, 19, 20 or 21 inches. The largest
tire/wheel combination features 9Jx21 in front and 10.5Jx21 on the rear axle.
Ride height of the two door is lowered by millimeters. Brakes at the front are
380 x 36 millimeter discs and 12-piston aluminum fixed calipers. The rear
features 355 x 28 millimeter discs and six-piston aluminum fixed calipers. That
is about enough to pull up a McLaren-Mercedes F1 car.
Of course you can personalize your Brabus with everything from scuff plates with
illuminated Brabus logo or an ergonomically shaped sport steering wheel to an
exclusive customized interior crafted from soft yet durable Brabus Mastik
leather and the finest Alcantara.
The automotive world is your oyster, when you have very, very deep pockets. Make
that very, very, very deep pockets. In the meantime, we can dream.
Brabus SV12 S Biturbo
Forget the Touareg, here’s the Tiguan
I am sure that somewhere down in the Volkswagen basement is a section dedicated
to making up ridiculous names. The Tiguan is the latest. Mind you, there are
similar departments in all auto manufacturers. Who would call a car an X-Trail,
Outlander or Captiva, for example?
However, be that as it may, VW will be releasing the Tiguan in Germany very
shortly, and to the world at large, shortly after.
Tiguan is a compact SUV, in the mold of the BMW X3, Lexus RX, Honda CRV or the
new Mercedes-Benz GLK/MLK. If it’s not silly names, it is incomprehensible
acronyms. Did you know that CRV is supposed to stand for ‘Comfortable
Recreational Vehicle’? You can dream up what you like for GLK/MLK (none of mine
Tiguan will be based on Golf mechanicals - just as the X3 is based on BMW’s
biggest seller, the 3 Series.
According to VW, Tiguan will have ground-breaking electronics and chassis
systems, which include “a completely new generation radio and navigation system”
and an off-road mode, which “activates an armada of assistance systems at the
touch of a switch”. Apparently this needs a 30 GB hard-drive and 400 MHz PC
processor controlled via a 6.5-inch colour touch-screen. And you will probably
have to press “Start” to stop, like most computers!
You will also get vital off-road electronic functions under one button,
including hill-descent control, throttle pedal mapping, the activation of
differential locks, a loose-surface ABS mode, “hill climb assist” which prevents
clutch damage up hills and “gear preselect” which offers optimum engine braking
in automatic versions. Does this sound a little like i-Drive? I hope not!
Perhaps the most interesting feature, however, is what’s called Park Assist.
Hailed as “the world’s first park steering assistant to be installed in a SUV”,
it automatically steers the Tiguan into a parking space. Like the Volvo concept,
you may be able to hop out and tell it to “Go park yourself!” Or something
Volkswagen says all Tiguans offer “highly dynamic driving characteristics”,
“excellent ride comfort”, “neutral to lightly understeering handling” and “an
unusually low roll angle”. It’s claimed the Tiguan will set new class standards
for dynamics, comfort and active safety. We shall see. Until then, it sounds
just like the claims for any other SUV.