Vol. VIII No. 9 - Tuesday
March 3 - March 9, 2009



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Maybach release the Zeppelin - another Hindenburg?

Daimler-Benz is releasing a newer and even more plush version of the Maybach at the Geneva show.

Maybach Zeppelin

Only 100 Zeppelins will be produced, with deliveries slated from September 2009. Based on the ‘S’ version of the standard-wheelbase 57 and long wheelbase 62 models, the Zeppelin ups the power of the twin turbo 6.0 liter V12 petrol engine from 450 kW to 471 kW, while torque remains the same at 1000 Nm.
Exterior changes are subtle, extending to larger (20-inch) chrome-finish alloy wheels, more streamlined door mirrors for reduced wind noise, darkened taillights, special two tone paintwork, and the word ‘Zeppelin’ inscribed under the Maybach emblem.
Inside, buyers will be able to order a special perfume dispenser costing around $8000 to discreetly release a fragrance of the owner’s choice, among a variety of high-end equipment to further pamper the Zeppelin owner. Champagne flutes, a partition screen on 62 models, diamond quilted seat covers and lambskin carpets are also part of the Zeppelin package.
The original Maybach was formed in 1909, supplying engines for German aircraft and rail machinery manufacturer Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH. It spread into automobile making from 1921 to 1940, using the Zeppelin nomenclature from about 1930 to 1937 for its 12 cylinder DS 7 and DS 8 flagship models.
The queue for the new Zeppelin will not be long, I fear.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked which F1 driver broke the lap record nine times in ten laps? And when and where? It was, of course, Juan Manuel Fangio, driving a Maserati 250F in the 1957 German GP at Nurburgring.

Lotus Cortina 1965

Now, a couple of weeks ago I asked about the first Lotus from Colin Chapman. This produced many answers, but the best has come from a chap calling himself “Lotus Elite 76”, who wrote, “It all depends on what you mean by a Lotus. The first car that Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman built was in 1946-7, it was used in competition from 1948 onwards. He built two others before setting up the Lotus Engineering Company in 1952. These are now referred to as types I-II-III. Type III is credited with being the first car to carry the Lotus name and made its debut at Silverstone. The first series production cars were made/sold with the Lotus badge in 1952.
In so much as ACBC was Lotus in those early days the answer is 1946 to 48 - however, these cars only bear the name/type designation retrospectively - so perhaps the better answer is the 1949 trials car, or if the answer rests on cars produced for sale it is 1952-3.”
Yrs, LE76
David Hardcastle up in Chiang Mai wrote, “I have no idea when Chapman built the first Lotus, but like most of the car world I would love to know why he chose that name. Apparently he would never tell anyone. As 5 of the 6 brand new Lotus road test cars I ever drove broke down, I couldn’t care much, and subscribe to the acronym theory:
Lots Of Trouble, Usually Serious! The only well built Lotus road cars came out of a big factory, all in white with a green stripe, and were called Cortinas.”
Thanks chaps, great to see so much interest in the quiz.
So to this week. We take much for granted, but which was the first motor car to be offered with a reversing light?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!

 


Rag-roof Mini Cooper gets more power
The range-topping John Cooper Works (JCW) cabrio has been announced by BMW, the owners of the (once) British brand name.
Revealed ahead of its first public outing at the 2009 Geneva show on March 3, the all-new JCW soft-top will join the turbo-diesel Cooper D.

JCW Cabrio
While BMW says the diesel Mini will be “the fastest accelerating diesel in its capacity class,” the rag-roof JCW will be both quicker and better appointed.
The 1.6 liter twin-scroll turbocharged four cylinder direct-injection petrol engine is claimed to be a better-breathing, higher-performing version of the previous generation Cooper S engine, and is also seen in the Mini Challenge race car.
That means outputs of 155 kW at 6000 rpm (up from 128 kW for the standard Cooper S Cabrio and 141 kW for the previous JCW variant) and 260 Nm of torque from 1850 rpm.
It is enough to make the new JCW Cabrio almost as quick as the JCW kitted version of the first generation Cooper S hatch, but the heavier Cabrio remains almost half a second slower to 100 km/h than the JCW hatch (6.9 seconds versus 6.5).
Outer clues to the JCW Cabrio are exclusive 17 inch alloy wheels, a JCW bodykit and JCW badging on the bonnet, grille, brakes and door sills.
Brakes are by Brembo (by the way, most “Brembo” braked cars in Thailand are wearing red Brembo covers over the standard calipers), and BMW also supply the driver with the complete alphabet soup of ABS, EBD, CBC, DSC and DTC, and the JCW-specific Electronic Differential Lock Control system (EDLC). BMW has not confirmed whether the new Mini gets the Super Hybrid Intuitive Technology as well.
According to Mini, when the DSC stability control system is fully deactivated, EDLC “electronically slows the spinning inside wheel to enhance grip and ensure that all available power is transferred to the road through the wheel with greatest traction.”
“In contrast to the way DSC and DTC manage power delivery to the wheels, EDLC does not intervene with the throughput of engine power, meaning the driver is in near total control of the handling of the car,” said a BMW representative (BMWR).
The local primary schools in the vicinity of the Mini plants are reported to be concentrating on ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOP. QRSTUVWXYZ is on the curriculum for the following semester.


Night blindness
Being blinded by oncoming cars on high beam has always been a problem, which all drivers have had to face. However, researchers have now proposed a way for drivers to keep on high beam.
After studying roadway glare for two years, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lighting Research Center said their rough prototype blocks a measured slice of an auto’s light beam projecting into the other lane.
In their lab in Troy, center director Mark Rea stood squinting in front of a blazing headlamp while colleague John Bullough slid a small metal finger behind the lens to demonstrate. Rea was able to open his eyes wide even as the light shone all around him.
Their work is funded by $890,000 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Glare is believed to be a major reason the traffic fatality rate is about three times higher at night.
If anything, the problem has gotten worse in the past decade with high-riding SUVs and pickup trucks. Also, some newer cars are equipped with blue-tinged “high-intensity discharge” (HID) lights, which bother some drivers.
Rea said that if you’re driving faster than 50 kph to 65 kph with low beams, you’re “overdriving your headlights.” “Ultimately, we have to come up with something better than low beams,” said Bullough, who runs the center’s Transportation Lighting Program.
Bullough and Rea propose driving with high beams on all the time, but with the system that can sense oncoming traffic and self dim in the appropriate direction. It can be done with a simple shadow-making shim, as in the Troy lab. On newer LED headlights, selected diodes can be dimmed at the appropriate time.
The concept is not entirely new. Michigan-based Gentex Corporation, for example, makes a traffic-sensing system called SmartBeam that dims high beams when cars approach.
But the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s system would come at a cost. Consider that replacement LED headlights can cost more than $200, and that’s without sensors. Rea said the cost would be rolled into the price of a new car. He said the benefits of safer roads will outweigh potential costs.


Not everyone’s sales are down
Ferrari, Italy’s biggest manufacturer of high-end sports and grand touring cars, sailed through 2008 with a 27 percent rise in profits to a record 16 billion baht, plus or minus a Chianti or two.
Compare that result with those from the mass producers, particularly the US and Japanese companies, which have been reporting multi-billion dollar losses and are dependent on government bailouts for their survival.

Ferrari runs away

Interestingly, the sales of Ferrari cars edged up only 2 percent to 6587 units for the 12 months to December 2008.
Releasing the figures, Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo said: “Ending 2008 with results unprecedented in the entire history of the company is the best endorsement we could have of our strategy of exclusivity, innovation and focus on people.
“The results beautifully cap a truly exceptional year that saw us once again at the top in Formula One, winning our 16th constructor’s title, our eighth in the last 10 years.”
Income from licensing activities was up 35 percent, while revenue from the new network of 15 Ferrari stores around the world was up 16 percent. Sales over the Internet grew 65 percent, Montezemolo said.
The sales growth in 2008 owed a lot to demand from Asian markets. While global sales rose by 112 units, Japan and China together were responsible for 89 of those while an extra 39 cars went to the Middle East and South Africa. Sales in Eastern Europe were up 23 percent, while sales in North America, Ferrari’s biggest market, were “in line” with 2007 at around 1700 cars, while sales in the company’s other big market, Western Europe, were also “in line” with 2007.
Montezemolo said, “The economic climate in 2009 still remains very uncertain as the crisis takes its toll across the globe and it is hard to say how the situation will develop from here.” He was careful not to make any predictions about trading in 2009.



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