Last week I mentioned the Lotus S7’s. I asked when did Colin Chapman make the
first Lotus? The answer was not 1957, as that was the Lotus 7. The first Lotus,
an Austin based special was built in 1948 and the first Lotus victory was in
1950 with the Lotus 2.
So to this week. Which F1 driver broke the lap record nine times in ten laps?
And when and where?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
A Mini SUV or a Maxi-Mini?
BMW have announced a Mini version of an all-wheel-drive SUV, which
will make it one of the world’s smallest crossovers.
Still without a production release name, it is likely to go on sale in Europe
and the United States late next year.
It had been tipped that the Mini SUV would be shown at the Geneva motor show in
March, but Mini is denying this. This will be the first Mini not to be built at
its traditional home in Oxford, England. Instead it will come off the same
production line as the existing BMW X3 at the Magna Steyr plant in Austria.
The X3 will soon shift to Spartanburg to make way for the Mini crossover which
will be built on an all new and larger 4.1 meter platform. It had been tipped
Mini would use BMWs new X1 platform but Mini insiders say this has been
discounted as not practical.
The crossover will use a modified version of BMW’s full time xDrive system which
proportions drive between front and rear axles. Mini engineers have had to
convert it from having a rear wheel drive bias as in BMWs X3 and X5 to fit
Mini’s primarily front wheel drive layout.
Andreas Hofmann, the head of Mini’s marketing communications said the engine
range is expected to match those of the existing Mini line-up but a diesel was
more than likely for selected markets, including Australia.
Production costs will mean the crossover will come as a conventional four-door
wagon which is cheaper to build, although the design of the tailgate whether a
single door, two barn doors or a split lift up, drop down design still has to be
Tech specs for Red Bull’s RB5
Australian Mark Webber and Germany’s new young driver Sebastien
Vettel are pinning their F1 hopes on the new Red Bull 2009 challenger, the
RB5. This F1 car has come from the drawing board of famed designer Adrian
The chassis is a composite monocoque structure, designed and built in-house,
carrying a Renault V8 engine as a fully stressed member.
Transmission: Seven speed gearbox, longitudinally mounted with hydraulic
system for power shift and clutch operation and using an AP Racing clutch.
Suspension: Front: Aluminium alloy uprights, carbon-composite double
wishbone with torsion bar springs and anti-roll bars, Multimatic dampers.
Rear: Aluminium alloy uprights, carbon-composite double wishbone with
torsion bar springs and anti-roll bars, Multimatic dampers.
Wheels: OZ Racing, Front: 12.7 inch x 13 inch, Rear: 13.4 inch x 13 inch.
Brakes: Brembo calipers, Brembo carbon discs and pads.
Engine - Renault RS27
Max rpm: 18,000
Power output: Not disclosed
Number of valves: 32
Vee Angle: 90 degrees
Construction: Cylinder block in cast aluminium
Engine management: FIA (MESL) standard control unit TAG310B
Fuel: Total Group
Oil: Total Group
Weight: FIA minimum weight for engine of 95 kg
Electronics: FIA (MESL) standard control unit
Bob Lutz, the GM guru steps down
General Motors respected product boss Bob Lutz will step down
from his corporate role in April. Lutz has spent 46 years in the industry,
working for GM, Chrysler, Ford and BMW.
Lutz is credited with reinvigorating GM’s vehicle range when he re-joined
the company in 2001 after a long stint at the helm of rival Chrysler, which
ended in 1998. While at Chrysler, he built a reputation for delivering
exciting and innovative vehicles, including the Dodge Viper. Lutz was a true
He is famously quoted as saying that global warming was a “total crock of
shit” (I agree); however, he has been a great proponent of GM’s Chevrolet
Volt low emission plug-in hybrid vehicle.
Lutz started his career at GM in the sixties, moved to BMW in 1972, sat on
Ford’s board of directors, and moved to then-ailing Chrysler in 1986.
Bob Lutz and Chevrolet Volt
The best drivers are in F1
It is often thought that the best drivers are in F1, having made
it through the ranks of the minor formulae to make it to the top. Whilst
there are some very good drivers in the top echelon, there is another factor
as well as talent. And that is money.
Interesting to read the words of Takuma Sato’s manager, after Taku lost the
last race seat (Toro Rosso) to Sebastien Bourdais. “Taku had showed
tremendous speed and commitment during the three tests he did for the team
and I believe he proved to be the faster driver. Unfortunately, however, the
team made no secret about the fact that they would need the driver to bring
a substantial amount of funding to the team to secure the drive.”
There are some drivers this year who have ‘bought’ their race seat, and I
believe that one of those is at Renault. I’ll leave you to work out whom.
BMW, Chris Bangle, has finally left the building. Polarizing the
auto styling world with his (in)famous ‘Bangle Bottom’ which was introduced
on the 7-Series and then flowed down to the 6, 5 and 3-Series, the reaction
from BMW owners was a website dedicated to getting rid of both the bottom
and the designer. I have to say that I was not a fan of the styling either,
but like most things, you get used to it in the end. However, the Bangle
designs have never been beautiful like Henrik Fisker’s Aston Martin DB 9,
for example. Head of BMW Design has now gone to Adrian van Hooydonk,
Bangle’s right-hand man for 17 years.
BMW, with their usual disregard for the voice of their customer base - has
refused to admit that Bangle’s styling has been unpopular, but they have
gradually toned it down, perhaps hoping that we hadn’t noticed!
(Another example of BMW’s attitude is the despised “iDrive”, with a sample of a
blog saying, “All auto journalists talk about it. They all complain about it.
It’s the dreaded iDrive, BMW’s electronic interface that controls virtually
every aspect of the company’s vehicles through a central knob and display
screen. It also drives most of us nuts for one reason or another.” So what did
BMW do? Rather than admit that it wasn’t a great idea, they progressively
modified it, but even now on its fourth incarnation, it still makes driving a
BMW far more difficult than it needs to be.)
The official notification of Bangle’s departure was issued by BMW in a press
release stating “Christopher Bangle has had a lasting impact on the identity of
BMW Group’s brands (you can say that again). His contribution to the company’s
success has been decisive, and together with his teams he has mapped out a clear
and aesthetic route into the future,” said Dr Klaus Draeger, BMW AG’s Board
Member for Development.
Born in the USA, Christopher Bangle, aged 52, has been head of BMW Group Design
Development since October 1992. After studying at the University of Wisconsin
and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, he began his working life in
Rüsselsheim, where he worked for Adam Opel AG. In 1985 he joined FIAT, where he
became director of the FIAT Centro Stile in 1992. Shortly afterwards he left the
Italian automaker to come to Munich. (And not long after that we got the Bangle
Green Life on Wheels
Bangkok International Motor Show
In line with the general direction of the motor car industry,
the 30th Bangkok International Motor Show has ‘Green Life on Wheels’ as the
theme for this year’s show.
The show will run from March 26 until April 6, but the first two days are
usually reserved for media and VIPs.
The motor show will be held as usual at the BITEC exhibition halls at Km 1
Bangna and despite the downturn in the automotive production, organizers Grand
Prix International expect that the industry will be there in numbers to support
the Thai economy.