Last week I mentioned that 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. I asked
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 once.
This must have defied the Googlers … As the ‘last’ FIAT Grand
Prix car was the 806. This had a 12 cylinder 1.5 liter supercharged engine (actually
a twin six). It only raced once in the 1927 Milan GP at Monza, and won in the
hands of Pietro Bordino. It is believed that the factory built one car only, and
it was broken up on the orders of the FIAT management after the race. Why? Sorry,
I don’t know, but FIAT is not the only car company to be saddled with crazy
So to this week. There is a car preserved in the Turin
Automobile museum, which was built for the Monaco GP of 1935. It was very
radical, featuring an eight cylinder radial two stroke engine, which was mounted
ahead of the driven wheels - which meant it was also front wheel drive. It did
not race after the early trials were not positive. What was this car?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected]
How much money does the
manufacturer make per car?
Prospective customers go into dealerships intent on driving
the price down on the car they want. For the dealership to give a little, they
need a sizable profit margin in which they can negotiate prices.
So how much are they working with? Not much, because the
margin the manufacturer gives them is almost as small as the manufacturers’
profits. According to Detroit News, Toyota in 2009 had a global profit margin
for $108, so the answer really is “not much”!
Ford did not even do as well globally with a loss of $62 per
car, so the dealership did not have anything to play with.
In 2008, GM (on its way to the bankruptcy courts) lost $2738
per car in North America. Frightening! But Chrysler is reported to have lost
$3800 per car in the same region in 2008. How long could they keep going like
that? No wonder heads had to roll at the top. And they are still rolling.
According to the respected Harbour Results Inc. in the US,
Honda Motor Co. has been alone in continuing to make a profit per vehicle over
the past two years and increased its margin from $113 in North America in 2008
to $703 in 2009. The report claims this is because Honda maintained an
unyielding growth strategy and engineering focus, not launching products before
their time or being influenced by outside forces to expand too rapidly the way
Now you can see why the dealerships would rather offer you
extras at the same price, rather than discount the bare vehicle.
UN looks at road safety
NGO’s and governments have a particular skill at stating the
obvious. Ever since we invented the motor car we have had accidents, injuries
and deaths. Mind you, we also had injuries and accidents and deaths from falling
off horses. However, Big Brother now wants to get involved.
Through the next decade, Member States, with the support of
the international community, have committed to actions in areas such as
developing and enforcing legislation on key risk factors including limiting
speed, reducing drink-driving, and increasing the use of seatbelts, child
restraints and motorcycle helmets. Efforts will also be undertaken to improve
emergency trauma care, upgrade road and vehicle safety standards, promote road
safety education and enhance road safety management in general.
This recent initiative comes on the heels of the First Global
Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, hosted by the Government of the Russian
Federation in November 2009. The “Moscow Declaration” issued by ministers and
senior officials from 150 countries underlines the importance of protecting all
road users, in particular those who are most vulnerable such as pedestrians,
cyclists and motorcyclists.
The statistics show that around 1.3 million people will be
killed on the world’s roads this year. Over 90 percent of these fatalities occur
in the world’s poorest countries. The economic cost to developing countries is
estimated at up to US $100 billion a year, equivalent to all annual overseas aid
from industrialized countries.
Road traffic fatalities are already the single biggest source
of death among 15-19 year olds in developing countries and the second leading
cause among 5-14 year olds.
Where this all falls down is in the first paragraph which
stated “enforcing legislation on key risk factors including limiting speed,
reducing drink-driving, and increasing the use of seatbelts, child restraints
and motorcycle helmets.”
However, in Thailand we already have the legislation, but we
do not have the enforcement, so where do we go from here? Simple answer -
nowhere, we will continue to kill 500 people on the roads every Songkran. Ninety
percent will be motorcyclists and ninety percent will be alcohol to the
What do we do now, Mr UN? Come down from your ivory tower and
see what happens in the real world.
The problems associated with
S/H car buying
Many of us buy cars in the secondhand market. There are
obvious reasons for this, as you can buy a nearly new car at thousands of baht
less than the same model out of the showroom. But there are also disadvantages
for the unwary.
The first area the prospective buyer looks at is the mileage
(kilometerage?) of the vehicle. Most cars travel 10-15,000 km for one year, so
if you find a three year old car with only 12,000 km on the clock - beware. The
odometer might have been tampered with.
In the ‘good old’ days of mechanical counters it was
relatively easy to wind back the numbers, but it was also relatively easy to see
signs of the unit having been tampered with, marks on the screws and misaligned
numbers, but now with the electronic odometers, it is even easier for the e-savvy
crooks out there. And no tell-tale screwdriver marks either.
On a genuine low kilometer vehicle there will be very little
wear on the rubbers of the accelerator, clutch and brake, so check that out.
There will also be very little wear on the door strikers and door hinges will
not show play.
If you really know your cars, proceed (but still with caution).
If you are not an ‘expert’, then take along a mechanic you can trust. It will
save you money in the end.