Last week I mentioned that to get the name for their Road Runner, and a horn
that went “Beep - Beep”, Plymouth had to buy the rights from Warner Brothers. I
asked how much did they have to pay? Remember it was 1968. It was only $50,000
and Ivar Hoylem was first in again. I shall have to make the questions
So to this week, and to beat the Googlers, what is this car?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
The Ultimate Christmas Gift
Cruden B.V. - the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of
interactive motion-based racing simulators - is offering its new racing
simulator as an extreme alternative to popular home gaming equipment for
affluent motorsport and performance driving enthusiasts.
The Hexatech - a professional full motion simulator with six ‘degrees of
freedom’, realistic g-Force simulation up to multiple g’s, seatbelt tensioners
and 100 percent realistic steering feedback - is normally found only in top
secret Formula One factories and automotive research centers. Now, this same
sophisticated equipment can provide the definitive motorsport experience at
home, with prices for the base simulator package starting at the 6.6 m THB.
Frank Kalff, Cruden’s commercial director says, “Let’s be clear, this is not a
video game linked up to a steering wheel, race seat and pedals. Although easy to
operate, this is the exact same equipment used by the top racing drivers and
engineers to improve their race craft and evaluate new tracks and car settings.
Our simulator and the software it uses cannot be bought in a store.”
The Hexatech promises years of highly challenging entertainment both in terms of
durability - it is built to endure hundreds of thousands of ‘driving’ kilometers
per year in almost constant use and lasts 10 to 15 years without major overhaul.
Kalff explains, “Driving a real Formula One car is not easy and getting fast and
consistent laps in the simulator isn’t either. The simulator takes minutes to
learn and enjoy but a lifetime to master, unlike most driving games which are
conquered and then discarded before too long. The immense challenge of honing
the same level of driving skill as a top racing driver is unbelievably addictive
The Hexatech is available as a three-seater (3CTR), where passengers sit either
side of the driver to experience the ride together. Cruden can supply open or
closed cockpits, fit bodywork or use actual vehicles, and apply the livery of a
race or road vehicle according to customer preference. Owners can choose between
three ‘wrap around’ 42 inch screens or (stereo) projectors to view their virtual
world of state-of-the-art graphics. Friends and family can watch the race
projected onto nearby screens or walls. There is a wide variety of software
packages and competition settings to chose from, allowing customers to host fast
lap shoot-outs, 24-hour endurance races and full championships, as well as to
select race tracks and cars; for example from Formula One, rally, NASCAR and
sports car racing.
So there you are - what every rich kid is wanting for Xmas.
300 km/h on a Sunday afternoon
On the motorway, many of you will have driven at 160 km/h (the old
100 mph, the magic ton, before we went metric). Some of you with a better motor
car will have driven at 200 km/h. If you are very brave (or perhaps foolhardy),
your BMW or Mercedes may even let you experience 250 km/h, but at that speed you
will be hanging on for grim death, and praying there is no slow traffic in
Let me now tell you what it is like at 300 km/h in a Lola T430 Formula 5000
racing car. The engine started easily and a dab on the accelerator produces a
very deep growl from the engine behind your head. You know you have 550 bhp
The Hewland gearbox on a car like this has no synchromesh, and the ‘dog’ gears
select with a clunk and have a rattle at idle - this is not dangerous but it is
disconcerting at first.
The clutches on these race cars are not the soft pressure progressive clutches
of a manual road car, and do tend to be in or out, so getting away from rest is
a little tricky, but once trundling down the track you can begin to take stock
of your surroundings and tentatively start driving this heavy beast with a
little more throttle and some precision. At low speeds, the engine with the full
race camshafts is very “lumpy” but soon you begin to use more loud pedal and
drive the car deeper into the corners. By making the front tyres bite as you
turn in under brakes, you could then feed in the power to control the rears and
avoid too much oversteer. With all the horsepower at your disposal, cornering is
done by the right pedal, and corrections are done by the steering wheel!
You could leave the braking so late, you begin to think you will never slow down
in time - but you can. In fact, sometimes I had to lift off the brake and use
some throttle into the corner as I was braking far too early.
The next adjustment you have to make is for the acceleration of race cars like
this. Zero to 100 km/h comes up in less than three seconds. You are no sooner
out of one corner than to find the next one rushing up and it’s back on the
brakes, turn in, throttle out, and then the next! By the time you are half way
through one corner, you are preparing yourself mentally for the next. 300 km/h
on the straight is the easiest part of the entire exercise, believe me!
New Proton Saga on its way
The price war sees another competitor enter the market - the Proton
Saga S 16, which I believe will be coming to Thailand, when the market picks up.
Australia gets a real cut-price version of the Saga by sacrificing a significant
amount of standard equipment, including a number of key safety features that are
standard on most of its direct rivals.
According to the manufacturer, “Proton is known for its Lotus engineered ride
and handling and strong styling and will now also be known for its market
leading value.” This it does by making the base model without front passenger
airbags or ABS brakes or electronic stability control (ESC).
Proton’s S16 returns a relatively respectable 6.3 L/100 km. It has a 413 liter
boot that embarrasses many larger rivals, and in Australia will be covered by
Proton’s three-year/unlimited-kilometer new-car warranty.
Is Porsche losing the plot?
Reports in the media of a faster, lighter, more serious Porsche
Boxster emerge ahead of its world debut at the Los Angeles motor show on
Called the Boxster Spyder it is positioned above the regular Boxster and Boxster
S, and it will be accordingly even more expensive. Designed to appeal directly
to Californians’ penchant for stripped-out ‘Speedster’ versions of the 911 and
Porsche’s iconic 356, it will get the higher-performance 235 kW/370 Nm engine
from the hard-top Cayman S.
Apart from 7 kW of extra peak power and 10 Nm more torque, the new top-shelf
Boxster is also about 80 kg lighter than the model upon which it is based. At
just 1275kg, it will be the lightest model in Porsche’s entire range.
That makes it the quickest Boxster with a claimed 0-100 km/h acceleration time
of 4.8 seconds when matched with the optional automated twin-clutch manual PDK
transmission and Sports Chrono Package with launch control.
In the same configuration, the Boxster Spyder returns average fuel consumption
of just 9.3 L/100 km on the European combined cycle (which is marginally better
than the family Fortuner).
However, although it is two-tenths quicker than the standard Boxster S, its roof
must be removed for high-speed runs, one presumes because it might blow off at
the 270 km/h top speed.
The newest Boxster features lower side windows beneath a completely new, more
lightweight and manually-operated canopy (Porsche-speak for you don’t push a
button) that replaces the standard Boxster’s automatic soft-top system.
Although power windows and mirrors are fitted, air-conditioning and a CD sound
system will be optional extras for the Boxster Spyder. Other weight-saving cabin
changes include a pair of lighter and more supportive bucket seats, plus
belt-style door-pulls to replace the Boxster’s conventional interior
door-handles. Just how primitive is that? 1955 MGA technology!
According to the factory blurb, Porsche’s most hard-core roadster is a highly
modified version of a production model that attempts to recreate the formula
pioneered by some of the Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen brand’s most famous race and
The 550 Spyder of 1953 was the first Porsche sports car built specifically for
racing and homologated for the road. Weighing in at just 550 kg, the mid-engined
roadster proved victorious in a number of circuit and road races.
It was followed by the 718 RS 60 in 1960 and the name continues to be used by
the RS Spyder Le Mans Prototype racecar today, but just who is going to buy this
Porsche Boxster Spyder