Last week I mentioned that between 1920 and 1928, A.B.C. light cars had a
peculiar fuel filler cap. I asked what was it? It was the radiator cap! I wonder
how many garages got it wrong? Remember the 1972 Porsche 911? It had a “fuel”
filler on the right hand side of the rear guard, which was supposed to be for
oil. After filling disasters, the idea was not used in the 1973 and onwards
So to this week. Ferrari has the name FIAT on their Grand
Prix cars because of the association between the two companies. However, this is
not the first time the name FIAT has been on Grand Prix cars. When was the last
time a FIAT competed under its own name in a car designed and built by FIAT.
Hint, after this last race the car was broken up, even though it only raced
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
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Bahrain F1 this weekend
Like most enthusiasts, I can hardly wait for the first Grand
Prix of the 2010 season. Up till now it has been very difficult to see just
which teams are really strong, it being so easy to confuse the timekeepers by
running on high fuel loads or low fuel loads.
However, having said that, it still looks as if the top teams
are Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes. But we shall see. There is also the
questions regarding rivalry between team drivers. Button versus Hamilton,
Rosberg versus Schumacher, Vettel versus Webber, Alonso versus Massa.
Roll on Sunday 14 March. The Grand Prix starts at 7 p.m. our
Car of the Decade
Forget Car of the Year, we now have the Car of the Decade,
according to the press release from Bugatti (owned by VW these days).
Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport
The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 and its ‘brother’, the Bugatti Veyron
16.4 Grand Sport, has been announced as Car of the Decade by two of the world’s
most respected automotive media.
BBC Television’s Top Gear presenters, led by Jeremy Clarkson,
announced at the beginning of this year that, “It was a car that rewrote the
rule book, an amazing piece of engineering, a genuine Concorde moment… the Top
Gear Car of the Decade is the Bugatti Veyron.”
The Robb Report, a leading US journal on luxury brands, also
confirmed today that the open top version, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport,
had established an entirely new precedent as ‘Car of the Decade’. It earned
uniform praise from the judges who praised it for fulfilling Bugatti’s mission
“to celebrate, unapologetically, beauty and power.” (That, of course, is a
matter of opinion, as personally I find it to be a very ugly and expensive piece
The Bugatti Veyron 16.4, first launched in the middle of the
last decade, has a top speed of 407 km/h reaching 0-100 km/h in 2.5 seconds. It
is certainly fast, even if not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. With a price
of €1.2 million (excluding tax) only 300 units will be made. Available from
March 2009, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport has a top speed of 407 km/h
reaching 0- 100 km/h in 2.7 seconds with a price tag of €1.4 million (excluding
By the way, most of the production will undoubtedly go to the Middle East!
Fisker Karma EV
The name Fisker may not mean much to most people, but Henrik
Fisker is a former Aston Martin and BMW designer who founded Fisker Automotive
in 2007 with partner Bernhard Koehler. When you look at the Fisker cars, there
is more than just a slight hint of Aston Martin in them, and even the grille
opening is very A-M.
After building conventional engined cars, Fisker is now
entering the plug-in hybrid field with its inaugural Karma four-door plug-in
hybrid sedan, which is due for release in Europe in September. This will offer
“world-class ride and handling characteristics” and, to prove it, has released
details of the vehicle’s aluminium space-frame chassis.
Currently being shown at the Geneva motor show, the Karma’s
underpinnings are engineered around the so-called Q-Drive series-hybrid
powertrain, which drives the rear wheels via two 150 kW electric motors mounted
on the rear differential, with extra performance derived from a GM-sourced 2.0
liter four cylinder ‘Ecotec’ petrol engine that acts as a generator rather than
a drive unit (very similar to the Chevrolet Volt concept).
Described as the “world’s first luxury plug-in hybrid vehicle”,
the Karma is claimed to be able to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in “about six
seconds” and will have a maximum speed of 201 km/h when operating in hybrid
‘Sport’ mode. It will also have a 2.4L/100 km combined fuel consumption rating
and a total driving range of 483 km.
In pure-electric ‘Stealth’ mode, Fisker claims the Karma will
have an 80km range, a seven-second 0-100 km/h time and a 153 km/h top speed.
Full specifications are still to emerge for the Karma, which
will be built in Finland by contract manufacturer Valmet Automotive, but the
information released at the Geneva show does add some important detail.
Fisker claims that the space frame - which is said to be all-new
rather than adapted from another manufacturer - incorporates “new levels of
rigidity and strength” that will guarantee world-class vehicle dynamics.
It said “few cars match its statistics”, with static
torsional rigidity measuring more than 33,000 Nm per degree, static bending
rigidity at more than 23,000 N/mm, and dynamic stiffness “also world-class”.
“Our top priorities when we designed the Karma’s aluminium
space frame were that it have extremely high torsional rigidity and could be
easily modified to accept Karma model variants,” said Fisker Automotive CEO
Henrik Fisker, referring to the four-door and the two-door Karma S convertible
shown at the Detroit motor show last year.
According to Fisker, a “super-structural” tunnel running down
the car’s centreline acts as the Karma’s backbone, housing the lithium-ion
battery pack and also acting as a torque tube connecting front and rear
Fisker said the Karma’s space frame will also provide high
levels of occupant safety and will exceed global crash protection standards.
Frontal protection includes a (patent-pending) multi-cell
tempered aluminium crush box that can absorb an impact and is also designed to
be easily replaced to reduce repair costs.
Side-impact protection includes dual-phase 600-series steel
reinforced components in the doors and B-pillars. The battery’s location in the
centre of the car is also well removed from common impact areas.
Apart from the Karma S, there is another Karma-based model
variant in the pipeline, along with a second line - understood to be a medium-sized
family vehicle - due for release in 2012.