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Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Six hundred horsepower Corvette

600 BHP Corvette

Chevrolet has given the next generation Corvette Z06 an all-new direct-injection supercharged V8 producing a staggering 625 horsepower (or 466 kW), and the option of a seven-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Significantly, this new Z06 has more torque than the previous beefiest Corvette, the ZR1 which was also powered by a supercharged 6.2 liter V8 (but an older design), which was the fastest Corvette of all time when it was launched in 2009.

(A recap on “torque” is timely. Torque is the measure of an engine’s ability to overcome resistance. Race track scuttlebutt goes, “Horsepower sells cars, but torque wins races!”)

The new Z06 has 861 Nm versus 819 Nm for the ZR1, which is enough pulling power to tow City Hall over to the Night Market.

Chevrolet is yet to publish performance times for the new Z06 but the previous ZR1 could cover the zero to 100 km/h in 3.1 seconds and had a top speed of 330 km/h. With more brute horsepower and torque expect 340 km/h top speed and zero to 100 km/h in 2.9 seconds.

The only clue the company will give about performance is to say that the new Z06 laps faster than the previous ZR1. And to think the next generation ZR1 is still to be developed.

Porsche goes back to the Targa top

Targa Porsche

Photos released before its “official” opening showed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, that the new Targa will see a return to the traditional full-width roof opening and fixed Targa bar B pillar, compared with the sliding glass center roof section of the previous three 911 iterations.
One likely evolution for the new model is the apparent soft roof section, which could fold away neatly to avoid the storage issues of a solid piece.
Aside from the unique roof design, the new 911 Targa is likely to mirror the existing hardtop and convertible Carrera and Carrera S, Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S two and all-wheel drive specs, with either a 257 kW/390 Nm 3.4 liter or 294 kW/440 Nm 3.8 liter flat sixes, with seven speed manual or PDK dual-clutch auto transmissions.
Having owned a 1973 Targa at one stage, this new design is re-inventing the wheel with the fixed Targa bar B pillar and a fold up roof which then became small enough in outside dimensions to easily fit under the bonnet, all of which were available way back then.
The Targa design gives you the feeling of open air motoring, without the buffeting of sports cars, as the rear glass stops the air blowing forwards which leads to great degrees of turbulence in the cockpit.
However, some loss of torsional rigidity in the Targa design was evident back then - driving slowly from pavement to road surface you could visibly see the scuttle movement, but Porsche claims they have strengthened the chassis on this new model, compared to the cabriolets previously.
I would certainly like one of these in my garage!

New Corolla to be exported to Australia from Thailand

New Corolla

With the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Thailand and Australia producing sizable savings at the other end, the new 2014 Toyota Corolla sedan is to be built in Thailand and exported to Australia. Estimates are that the saving will be around A$1,000 per car from the cessation of the five percent import duty.

Almost a quarter of the 1,136,227 vehicles sold in Australia in 2013 were sourced from Thailand or the United States, with Thai-built vehicles now accounting for roughly 20 percent of the Australian market, with Japan and South Korean imports also ranked ahead of locally-produced cars. Commercial pick-ups built in Thailand, in particular, have been very popular with the Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi Triton. Mazda BT-50, Ford Ranger and Honda CR-V among the top-selling vehicles in Australia in 2013.

Australia’s free trade agreements with Thailand and the US have been the subject of much frustration for the Australian car industry. While the import laws are favorable to overseas manufacturers, exporting to either country is met with stiff tariffs and excise taxes (as opposed to “duty”), meaning Australia-made products are not particularly viable in those markets.

Toyota Australia sales and marketing executive director Tony Cramb said the decision to import the Corolla sedan from Thailand afforded the company more leeway on pricing and equipment.

“Thailand’s automotive manufacturing sector is well-known for producing robust vehicles like HiLux,” he said.

A spokesman also said previous governments had failed manufacturers by not ensuring conditions of free-trade agreements were suitable for exporters. All a little late now, as Australia watches its local car manufacturing industry come to a grinding halt.

Myanmar Friendship Caravan

Myanmar soon will close its borders to vehicular traffic following the Myanmar government announcement that in July 2014 there will be no more overland trips allowed to enter Myanmar by car. Reason for this is not explained or available at this time.
As this Friendship Caravan goes through Myanmar, all participants wishing to join this last trip will have to submit all documentations, e.g PP copy, car registration, car licenses, etc., three months in advance - prior to the departure date from Thailand.
The AA Auto Venture to Myanmar 2014 will encompass Maesot - Myawady - Kyaithio - Naypyidaw - Inle Lake - Mandalay - Bagan - Yangon - Bago - Mawlamyaing - Myawaddy - Maesot.
The dates are as follows:
11-JUNE-2014 South of Thailand / Bangkok
Convoy arrive at The Emerald Hotel Rachada Pisek Road
Dinner and overnight in Bangkok
12-JUNE-2014 Bangkok / Maesot
Morning drive to Maesot with stop en route for lunch and fill gasoline
Arrive Maesot, dinner and overnight Maesot
13-JUNE-2014 Mae Sot-Myawaddy-Kyaikto (285 km) (L/D)
14-JUNE Kyaikto-Payagyi-Nay Pyi Taw (452 km) (B/L/D)
15-JUNE Nay Pyi Taw - Inle Lake (263 km) (B/L/D)
16-JUNE Taunggyi-Meikhtila-Mandalay (327 km) (B/L/D)
17-JUNE Mandalay-Bagan (242 km) (B/L/D)
18-JUNE Bagan sightseeing by Coach (B/L/D)
19-JUNE Bagan-Yangon (642 km) (B/L/D)
20-JUNE Yangon sightseeing by coach (B/L/D)
21-JUNE Yangon-Mawlamying (318 km) (B/L/D)
22-JUNE Mawlamying-Myawaddy-Mae Sot (190 Kms)
23 JUNE Free run back to Bangkok or other destination
You can get more information on HP: +66819024490 (Capt. Sitthichoke) or HP: +66849404746 (Khun Somsak). Having known Capt Sitthichoke for many years, I can vouch for the way he runs these trips.

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Six hundred horsepower Corvette

Porsche goes back to the Targa top

New Corolla to be exported to Australia from Thailand

Myanmar Friendship Caravan