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Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Ford Focus ousts Toyota Corolla from top spot

Ford Focus

The world’s most popular car (by sales numbers) has been the Toyota Corolla for many years; however, in 2012, the Ford Focus has outsold its Japanese rival, helped by the Chinese boycott of all things Japanese.
The Focus is expected to hit about a million sales globally for 2012, with the Corolla sitting at around 966,000 for the year.
However, the Chinese boycott, part of a public backlash in a long standing dispute between the two countries over ownership of some small islands, cost Toyota an estimated 25 percent of its sales in China. Next year could be different.
Volkswagen’s Jetta is in the world’s number three spot, followed by the Hyundai Elantra in fourth and Ford’s Fiesta in fifth. In sixth place is the Volkswagen Golf, followed by the Toyota Camry - the only car in the top 10 that isn’t an economy-focused compact, followed by Volkswagen’s Polo, the Chevrolet Cruze and the Honda Civic.
Taking all sales into consideration, Toyota is also likely to win back its title of the world’s biggest carmaker, after losing it to General Motors last year.
In 2012, GM and Volkswagen are in the race for number two spot in a record year that looks set to see global sales go past the 80 million barrier - despite the slump in Europe and the slowing Chinese economy. Perhaps the Thai first time buyer scheme has tipped the scales? (I jest!)


Thailand’s fastest Subaru can be yours

Racing Subaru

Thomas Raldorf is selling his Subaru Impreza race car. It is in race ready condition with many spare tires and wheels. The car is fully registered and has proper documents.
The engine is 2.4 liter and built by Khun Tawee and has 697 WHP at 1.85 Bar boost, and close to 700 Nm of Torque and the engine has been just overhauled by Khun Tawee as well.
The car is fitted with racing type Limited slip differential both front and rear and a racing clutch.
The Turbo is a Hybrid Turbo for Forced Performance FP HTA GT3586R (Turbo has only done three race events).
6 Speed Dogbox + 6 speed standard gearbox.
Project Mu Brake system 355 mm discs.
KW 3-way race suspension.
Car is fitted with Racetech FIA approved race seat.
The car will be delivered with eight additional wheels, plus 20 extra tyres of which some are new and others only used for a few laps.
This car is eligible for the Supercar Series for 2013. Genuine reason for sale and Thomas is looking for offers around 2 million baht. Contact can be made by email [email protected] or phone 081-377-1553.
Late news: Thomas also has his Honda DC5 up for grabs. Could be the best way to get into semi-serious motor sport.


F1 horsepower for the road?

The only view you will get of this car.

Ferrari is close to revealing its latest supercar, still not officially designated, with either the numbers F150 or F70. Since Ford owns the F150 nomenclature with their big truck in the US, it is more likely that it will be called the F70.
Either way, the most impressive thing about the F70 will be in the engine bay. It will reportedly use the 730 horsepower, 6.3 liter V12 from the F12berlinetta, but with an electric motor combined with a Formula 1 style Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS). Ferrari showed the basics of this drivetrain at the 2012 Beijing motor show, and the V12 electric motor combination is expected to be the most powerful Ferrari ever built. 730 bhp is one helluva mid-engined power for some rich drivers.
The company admits that aerodynamic efficiency has dictated the shape and all reports would indicate that it will still be stunning in the metal - however, with most of the car being carbon-fiber, perhaps I should say stunning in the carbon!
The two round taillights and the vertical element bisecting the back end give the car a familial resemblance to the 458 Italia and F12berlinetta. The humps, covering large rear tires, are very Enzo-esque, as well as the pointed nose from the 2003 Enzo which was evocative of the F1 car.
Built in LHD only, so not practical for Thailand, though I would not be surprised if someone buys one. After all, there is one chap in Bangkok with two Lamborghinis. I suppose one is to drive when the other is in service.


The New Year’s road toll

Over 300 people were killed on the road over the New Year period, even more than last year, despite the police “crackdown” and despite the quaint way of not counting any injured person who dies later in hospital, as being a death statistic!
Ignoring the woeful stats, the usual culprits became obvious. The vast majority of fatal accidents were to motorcycle riders going too fast for the conditions and being over the legal limit for alcohol. The final part of the puzzle was even easier, with the majority of fatalities not wearing a suitable crash helmet (or any one at all). If you’ve got a 10 baht head - wear a 10 baht helmet.
So, if the authorities are even slightly serious, the answer is better policing of the laws already in place regarding drink driving and the wearing of crash helmets.
Will we see this before Songkran? Will we see this at Songkran? We all know the answer, don’t we!


The New Year - a time for reminiscing

Get out of my way!

At this time of year we look back at what happened in 2012, and then it just goes on from there - as far back as you can remember. For me, I was reminded of the saga of SuperBee, a race car I built in 1968, which is still racing today. The reminder came from a magazine in Australia (The BMC Experience) asking for details of SuperBee as they wished to feature it. Wow! What a blast that was.
Turn the clock back to 1968 - what were you doing then? Some of you may not even have been born, but I was in the UK following a dream. A dream of building the fastest MGB in Australia.
You have to remember that in those years I was an “MG man” through and through. I had started with MG TC’s, through MG TD’s to MGA’s and had begun racing with an A in 1965. I was a member of the MG Car Club, and for me, there was no other marque.
I had read of the factory competition parts for MGB’s and when in the UK, I knew this was my chance to purchase ‘go faster’ bits and return to Australia to build a racing MGB. I also had an Aussie friend in the UK at the same time, who was prepared to get the parts for me and issue somewhat dodgy invoices, should the Australian Customs query the alleged purchase price.
On my return to Australia, I set to and found an MGB shell from a car that had been stolen, stripped and torched. This became the first of the SuperBee series and in 1969 was certainly the quickest MGB in the Queensland state of Australia.
In 1970 I was offered a contract by British Leyland in Australia to race for them and SuperBee was cleaned up and repainted in British Leyland blue (which was actually a Fiat colour). As this car looked much better than SuperBee 1, it was called SuperBee 2.
SuperBee 2 really set the Australian tracks alight and it was written up in the media in 1970 as the fastest MGB in Australia, and indeed it was, having never been beaten by any other race MGB. In fact it scared many other categories as well.
We raced in what was called the Marque Sports series, but we were being beaten by an alloy-headed 3.4 litre Austin Healey. SuperBee 2 needed more power.
So in 1971, the car, now called SuperBee 3, made its appearance. The engine for the car was the world’s first twin overhead cam MGB. We set lap records at every circuit but had a finishing rate of only 50 percent as the T/C engine progressively broke everything from the flywheel bolts to the rear axles.
In 1972 the rules for the sports car class were changed and SuperBee 3 was outlawed. The car that British Leyland claimed was the fastest MGB in the world was put in the shed.
I sold it after a couple of years to twin brothers Peter and John McCabe who returned it to a pushrod engine, but Peter was killed in a racing accident (not in SuperBee) and their mother extracted a promise from John that he would not race the car. So it returned to another shed, where it stayed for the next 34 years!
John died in 2008 and his widow advertised the car for sale and Ian Rogers, an enthusiast in Australia, bought it. By then, after 34 years of sitting, it needed restoration and that he has done, with some advice from me here in Thailand.
It is not often that a race car sits in a shed for 30 plus years, especially one with the pedigree of SuperBee, the fastest MGB in the world (in 1971) and gets brought back to its former glory. I have been honored in my dotage. And what a great reminiscence!


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked which legislation in 1893 was passed relating to cars, before cars were available. What was this legislation? It was vehicle registration plates in France. Somebody was thinking ahead in Paris!
So to this week. An easy one. Four brothers competed in a famous race in Italy. One of them won the race and all four of them drove one make of car. Who were they, what was the race and what make of car did they all drive?
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Ford Focus ousts Toyota Corolla from top spot

Thailand’s fastest Subaru can be yours

F1 horsepower for the road?

The New Year’s road toll

The New Year - a time for reminiscing

Autotrivia Quiz