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.
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.”
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
“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.