Last week I asked which was the first motor car to be offered with a reversing
light? The correct answer was the American Wills-Sainte Claire in 1921.
So to this week. Retractable headlights were first offered in 1936. On what car,
and how were they actuated?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Bangkok International Motor Show
End of this month is the Bangkok International Motor Show, and with
the way the auto industry is world-wide, I would suggest that there will be
plenty of sales incentives on offer. If you are thinking about a new car, BITEC
(Km 1 Bangna-Trat Road) and the motor show is the place to be. The show runs
from March 28 up to April 6.
In addition to the new car salon the show also has classic cars and bikes, the
Mustang, VW, Austin-Mini and sports car clubs as well as accessories and
Tesla now building a four door
The Tesla company in the US, the manufacturer of electric
performance vehicles has built a four door sedan as well as its roadster.
This new vehicle will be released at an invitation-only event to be held at
its California design studio on March 26.
Tesla said that confirmation of the imminent receipt of loan payments from the
US federal government, as part of the Obama administration’s Advanced Technology
Vehicles Manufacturing loan program, would keep Tesla on target to commence
production in 2011.
The Department of Energy has agreed funding for its $US350 million loan
application for the Model S, which will join the Tesla Roadster already on sale.
Tesla expect a waiting list for the new sedan, but if you already have a
roadster, then you go to the top of the list.
Tesla announced at last month’s Detroit motor show a deal with Daimler to
co-develop 1000 battery packs and chargers for the Smart cars - an arrangement
it now says could both expand to include tens of thousands of batteries annually
as well as lead to a series of strategic alliances to build EVs for other
Tesla also announced it was taking orders for the Roadster Sport, which the
company says is capable of 0-100 km/h under 4 seconds, with first deliveries due
This week it also announced agreements for Tesla sales and service centre leases
in Chicago and London’s Knightsbridge district. It says it is close to
finalizing locations in Manhattan, Miami, Seattle and Munich, with all six
retail outlets due to open this year.
The Tesla battery pack should last about seven years or at least 160,000km
“under normal use”. Customers can also pay $US12,000, up front, to receive a
replacement battery pack after seven years.
Cars Car of the Year 2009
MSN Cars is a premier automotive
website and they have just had a vote for their Car of the Year. I found the
results interesting, and quite surprising.
The top 10 (percentage of the vote in brackets)
1. Nissan GT-R 29 percent
2. Jaguar XF 12 percent
3. Ferrari California 11 percent
4. Volkswagen Scirocco 11 percent
5. BMW X6 9 percent
6. Audi Q5 8 percent
7. Mitsubishi Evo X 8 percent
8. Ford Fiesta 6 percent
9. Vauxhall Insignia 3 percent
10. Tesla Roadster 2 percent
From this poll, it is obvious
that the new Nissan GT-R has captured the imagination of everyone. The previous
model, now out of production for some years, was sensational. It seems the new
one is as well. Unfortunately, in this country, many of these vehicles are not
available, though the new Scirocco is being brought in by the grey market
suppliers. The Ford Fiesta we should get by this time next year, being a local
(Eastern Seaboard) manufacture. The others in the list just show how starved we
are for choices in this country, I am afraid.
for America’s woes
The latest figures from the Consumer Reports organization placed
GM second last in reliability. But it doesn’t stop there with just GM. US
models accounted for eight of the 10 worst scores in testing and reliability
ratings, with the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara scoring just 17 out of 100.
The Lexus LS 460L scored a 99 out of a 100 as the all-around highest. No
wonder Chrysler is in trouble.
In overall reliability, GM fell below Suzuki to score second-last overall
with a 57. Ford Motor Co. had a 63 score, compared with Suzuki’s 60.
Honda Motor Co. had the best overall rating with a 78, ahead of Subaru’s 75
and Toyota’s 54.
The magazine recommends 95 percent of Honda’s vehicles tested, 100 percent
of Subaru’s and 89 percent of Toyota’s. It only recommends 17 percent of
GM’s and none of Chrysler’s.
The Consumer Reports people also looked at ‘Best Value’ and of the 41
vehicles making the list for best value, not one was built by a US
automaker. Japanese manufacturers took 35 awards, while Korean automaker
Hyundai won three, including Best Value Midsize SUV for the Hyundai Santa
Fe. Toyota had 17, Honda Motor Co. had 10 and Nissan had 4.
To compile its report, the Consumers Union, the parent organization for
Consumer Reports, spent $2.7 million secretly buying 80 test cars. The
vehicles were driven for thousands of miles and put through 50 individual
tests and evaluations. It also relied on reports of problems on 1.4 million
vehicles from its 7 million online and print subscribers.
However, David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann
Arbor, questioned how reliable the survey is pointing to J.D. Power and
other surveys that suggest greater parity between US and foreign automakers.
Top 10 car auction
records (US$ prices)
The world may be in a financial mess, but the prices of classic cars keeps on
going up. A new hedge against inflation? Buy your Ferrari 250 GT and place it
in a bank vault and bring it out later for auctions. On second thoughts, leave
it at home, banks are not so safe these days.
Ferrari 250 GT
Here are some the record auction prices,
beginning at a shade under 11 million dollars.
1 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Cal Spyder
2 1931 Bugatti Royale Type 41 $9,800,000
3 1962 Ferrari 330 TRI/LM $9,281,250
4 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K $8,252,201
5 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante Coupe $7,920,000
6 1929 Mercedes-Benz 38/250 SSK $7,443,070
7 1904 Rolls-Royce 10hp $7,254,290
8 1962 Ferrari 250 LM $6,979,000
9 1931 Bugatti Royale Type 41 $6,500,000
10 1962 Ferrari 330 TRI/LM $6,490,000
A little over three weeks now to
the first Grand Prix for 2009, being held in Melbourne Australia. Just which
team has managed to develop the quickest car over the New Year period? How many
will run the controversial KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System)? Will the
ex-Honda team be there with new owners? So many imponderables that will finally
be answered when the red lights go out to signify the start of the 2009 season.
No French, Canadian or US GPs
this year, but at least Spa is still on. Abu Dhabi is a new track, and
Australia and Malaysia are holding their GPs later in the day to make the races
more TV viewer friendly in Europe.
The Australian GP will start at
1 p.m. Thai time. I watch the action on the big screen at Jameson’s Irish Pub.
Join me for lunch and the discussions afterwards.