Last week I asked what car is this? It had a side valve engine which developed
10 bhp. It had a top speed of 42 mph (67 kph). It had 4 wheel cable operated
brakes. It sold over 375,000 and its designer was knighted. So what was it? It
was the Austin 7 built by Herbert Austin.
So to this week. The 1936 Rolls-Royce Phantom III is a motoring legend in many
ways. Wonderful engineering, silky smooth engine and a modern suspension - but
who developed its front suspension?
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What did we learn from the Valencia Grand
It was boring…
It was boring…
It was boring…
However, we learned that the race was probably even more boring than last year.
It is the first time I was looking forward to pit stops to hopefully see some
action, and McLaren didn’t let me down. All ready for race leader Lewis
Hamilton’s second pit stop, other than forgetting the new wheels.
Brawn GP again ‘out-thought’ the opposition with some brilliant strategic
thinking by Ross Brawn, doing what he was always good at. “Just like old days,”
he said to the emotional winner Rubens Barichello.
Current championship leader Jenson Button in the other Brawn GP was obviously
asleep for the first half of the race, so it must have been just as exciting
from the cockpit as it was in front of the television screen. It was boring…
Ferrari lucked its way into another third podium place, with the ebullient
Raikkonen managing to stay awake for the race, even though he did look as if he
were asleep during the post race interview. The racing was as soporific as
Kimi’s sparkling comments. It was boring…
Luca Badoer, called up for National Service for the Scuderia after 10 years in
the wings, showed they had waited too long. I suggest that Luca should try
falling off a motorcycle before Spa, to allow Ferrari to get someone else in the
Championship contender Mark Webber showed himself to be a championship
pretender, with poor qualifying and an even poorer race finish in 9th. At least
he was honest, saying, “I’ve been struggling all weekend and I think I got the
result I deserved, which was no points.” You did, Mark, you did. Team mate
Vettel popped another engine, to make it two for the weekend. However, he should
be excused, as he was probably bored fartless by the whole event, and just
forgot to change gear. It was boring…
Home town hero Alonso ended up sixth after a clean drive, whilst new team mate
Romain Grosjean (pronounced Roman Grow John) found out about the first lap argy
bargy down the back, the hard way. He also saved a mighty spin and missed the
wall, so he’s already better than the previous seat-warmer Nasty Nelsinho, who
always managed to hit the wall.
Williams gained another fifth with Rosberg, but Knuckles Nakajima was nowhere,
and not even a puncture could disguise his poor showing. But driving around on
three wheels did break the boredom for one lap.
Toro Rosso was in the event, I believe, with new signing Jaime Alguersuari
saying, “With ten laps remaining, I had a problem with my drinks system which
meant I couldn’t get anything to drink. It was really tough.” Fortunately I
didn’t have the same problem at Jameson’s Irish Pub, otherwise the evening for
me would have been tough as well as boring…
I believe BMW, Force India and Toyota did also compete, but since we never saw
them, I cannot comment. Other than it was boring…
Just an expensive VW?
Much media hype about the new Bentley Mulsanne which was shown at
the American Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance in Monterey, California.
The press releases gush on breathlessly on how this new car will revive the
historic British brand’s Mulsanne nameplate, which it shares with the main
straight of the Le Mans circuit that has played host to six Bentley wins.
Honestly, this is really squeezing every last drop out of the history of the
iconic British marque. Sure a “Bentley” won the 2003 Le Mans to make it the 6th
win for the name, in a car that was Bentley in name only. (Though designed in
the UK and built by the English outfit, Racing Technology Norfolk (RTN), the
basis and the engine were Audi - also owned by VW.) The previous 5th win was in
1930 in a ‘real’ road-going Bentley, as were the four wins before then.
The Bentley press corps, having milked the Le Mans aspect of Bentley history,
then goes on to compare the new Bentley Mulsanne with the 8 liter Bentleys of
1930-31, which they describe as company founder WO Bentley’s “crowning
achievement” in 1930. According to Bentley press engineers, the 8-litre was “the
last big Bentley that was designed, engineered and built from the ground up by
Bentley engineers - until now. The 8 liter’s breathtaking performance and
quality was perhaps the finest example of a ‘pure’ grand Bentley,” said Bentley
Motors board member for engineering, Dr Ulrich Eichhorn. “Every mechanical
detail carried WO Bentley’s unique stamp and it was the clearest demonstration
of a car built without compromise.”
Chairman and chief executive of the Volkswagen-owned brand, Dr Franz-Josef
Paefgen, revealed the Dirk van Braeckel-designed Mulsanne saying, “The challenge
we set our engineers was to create a new grand Bentley that would stand as the
pinnacle of British luxury motoring, offering the world’s most exclusive driving
Come on, though it may be built in Crewe in the UK, it has much technology from
the VW-Audi ideas bin, with even the space frame chassis coming from Audi.
Possibly the closest nexus between the new 2010 Bentley and the 1930 8 liter
will be the fact that both were released in a time of world economic recession.
In actual fact, the 1930’s car was a financial marketing disaster and was one of
the (many) reasons that Bentley went under and was subsequently bought by
Rolls-Royce (which now belongs to BMW in another of those twists of post WWII
I don’t know about you, but the new Bentley looks rather bland in its
photographs and is far from Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen’s statement, “From the very
first hand sketches in the styling studio, we were inspired by the traditions of
the grand touring Bentleys and have sought to evolve this story for a new
generation of Bentley enthusiasts.”
Whatever, the price will be astronomical in the UK, and here in Thailand it will
be 300 percent astronomical. I don’t think I can afford it. I’ll stick with the