Last week I asked what year did the Corvette Stingray come
out? Hint, think hard, it revolves around the name! OK, this was a bit of a
trick question. The Chevrolet “Sting Ray” came out in 1962, and in 1969 the name
was changed to “Stingray”. As I said, it all revolved around the name, so 1969
was the correct answer.
The Corvette story revolves around Zora Arkus-Duntov, a Belgian who grew up in
Russia and studied in Germany before moving to the USA, where he designed the
Ardun cylinder heads for Ford V8s. He then joined Chevrolet and began improving
the basic design and ‘his’ first Stingray came out in 1969, with the body
designed by Bill Mitchell, who succeeded Harley Earl as the GM stylist. The
combination of Mitchell and Arkus-Duntov produced a stunning car, capable of
over 150 mph (240 km/h) in a head-turning body. So even though many think that
the Corvette is all-American, it also owes a fair bit to Europe.
So to this week. What was the only British GP to be abandoned because of the
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Some interesting drives
AA Insurance Brokers held their first advanced driver training
day at the Bira Circuit on Highway 36 and everyone seemed to enjoy the
experience (there is a separate article elsewhere in the newspaper).
For me, it was an opportunity to drive a different selection of vehicles and
this included a BMW X3, the new Honda Accord, an AVO modified Ford pick-up,
and the latest Toyota Yaris racer, brought up to the ‘Super 1500 class’
The BMW was a real eye-opener. Much larger than I expected and with much
more performance than I expected. It also had a radio whose volume you could
turn down via a simple knob. Thank you Mr BMW for listening. Now please
apply it to the ridiculous iDrive 5 Series models as well. The X3 was a
sports car in every respect, other than it would carry an entire family and
the kitchen sink. It stuck to the road, had great feel through the steering
wheel, and amazed everyone who came round the circuit in it, seated front or
The new Accord is a smooth looking luxury car, and the styling is
individual, with just a hint of Alfa-Romeo, especially the side fluting. It
was the 2.4 liter model I drove and the straight line speed was
breathtaking. The interior is most luxurious, and a very nice motor car. I
did not like the lack of response or feel through the steering wheel, and it
all felt a bit vague in that department, and the brakes felt just adequate
to cope with the performance of this vehicle.
The AVO modified Ford pick-up was a bit of a fun drive, and it was
exceptionally powerful - and quicker at the end of the straight than the X3,
for example! The steering was very good and there was enough feel through
the wheel to make it easy to point it where you wanted. Unfortunately, like
all pick-ups, it suffered from axle tramp on severe acceleration out of the
bends, but this was under conditions that would not happen on the roads. The
pigs in the back tray just loved it!
Bangkok International Motor Show
Our Motor Show starts on the 28th of this month. Held in the
large BITEC exposition halls (Km 1 Bangna-Trat highway), this is the world’s
accredited motor show for this region. In fact, it is the largest motor show
in SE Asia and is approved by the Organization Internationale des
Romeo 8C Spider
For many people, there is great interest in the Europeans who are trying to gain
footing in this country, such as Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, Peugeot and Citroen,
but I hope to see Alfa Romeo. The 8C Spider is sensational and I do want to see
one in the flesh.
The Japanese invasion will continue with concept cars and luxury numbers from
Toyota and Lexus as well as cheap and cheerful items as the new Toyota Vios and
hopefully the tiny iQ concept car which the reports say can carry three adults
and one child (and this would also mean a complete Thai family of six), plus
some interesting models from Honda who will not be outdone by the Toyota people
across the street! The new Honda Accord is a stunner and the variable cylinder
technology in the V6 is amazing.
As well as all the cars, there will be many motorcycles on display in their own
exposition hall, and after-market equipment in both go-faster items and sound
Last year 1.5 million people went through the turnstiles for our Bangkok Motor
Show. This year there will be more. There is parking in the BITEC grounds as
well as parking areas on LaSalle Street for another 4,000 vehicles. If you are
coming by public transport, then go to On Nut Skytrain terminal and catch one of
the shuttle buses going to BITEC.
I will be there for the first two days, and will have my resident motorcycle
scribe to review the two wheel offerings. More reports on the show over the next
Are you worth a $2.2 million salary?
One of the world’s largest car manufacturers has increased their
chief executive’s salary to $2.2 million, up from the paltry $1.65 million
stipend he received in 2007. The increase was in view of his performance in
2007, a year for which the automaker reported a loss of $38.7 billion. Yes,
you read that correctly - thirty eight billion dollars. By the way, he also
received 1.68 million in stock entities, on top of the $2.2 million.
The salary increase was disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission
filing, so has become public knowledge, and is now being mulled over by the
United Auto Workers (UAW) union President Ron Gettelfinger who has
questioned the fairness of big payouts for executives coming after workers
agreed to concessions. And can you blame them? The upgraded salary comes
only six months after the UAW agreed to a new labor contract in which
workers accepted substantial wage and benefit cuts for new workers, as well
as buyouts and early retirement plans to further reduce employee numbers.
The salary increase, and its obscene amount, would have to be the PR blunder
of the year. And the company? Well, it starts with the letter G.
Its shares were down 2.7 percent at $22.35 on the New York Stock Exchange,
48 percent down from its 52 week high of $43.20 set shortly after the UAW
deal was completed. I wonder why?