Make Chiangmai Mail | your Homepage | Bookmark

Chiangmai 's First English Language Newspaper

Pattaya Blatt | Pattaya Mail | Pattaya Mail TV

 
Update December 2016


Home
Chiang Mai News
Arts - Entertainment for Chiang Mai
AutoMania
Business
Classical Connections
Cartoons
Animal Welfare
Community Happenings
Doctor's Consultation
Dining Out & Recipes
Education
Features
Heart to Heart
Health & Wellbeing
Mail Bag
Money Matters
Photography
Social Scene
Sports
Travel & Tourism
Daily Horoscope
About Us
Subscribe
Advertising Rates
Current Movies in
Chiangmai's Cinemas
Classifieds
Back Issues
Find out your Romantic Horoscope Now - Click Here!
Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Update January 21, 2017

Go park yourself

Faraday Future FF91.

Is the way to make big money just by making big claims? It certainly looks that way, with a new start-up claiming it has designed and built an all-electric passenger car to beat Tesla at its own game.

Having launched itself two years ago, the company has come under fire for failing to deliver on its ambitious promises. Its team of more than 1,000 employees includes former Tesla, Apple, Google, BMW and NASA staff, and are there to show that the promise is not hollow.

The company is called Faraday Future and has at least built one car, they christened the FF91. The company claims their FF91 car has the fastest acceleration of any electric vehicle on the market and can reach 100 kph in 2.39 seconds. Tesla’s Model S can reach the same speed in 2.5 seconds.

FF91 is an electric vehicle with autonomous driving capabilities, it can park itself (but so can a Ford), and like Grab Taxi and Uber, will pick you up from a designated point, using the taxi company’s app.

On the surface it sounds kosher, but why has it taken them so long to demonstrate a running example of the FF91?

The financial backing for a project such as this is enormous, but Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting has deep pockets.

However, there are obviously problems beneath the surface with eight resignations of senior staff during 2016, and in November it stopped work on a $1bn production plant in Las Vegas amid reports that it was tens of millions of dollars in debt.

The PR blurb continues to say that the car will be in production in 2018, and interested possible purchasers can pre-order now for a $5,000 deposit.

The automotive industry has a history of entrepreneurs with stars in their eyes but no cars. Hopefully Faraday Future is not one of them. The deposit is not outrageous, so get four friends and throw in $1,000 each and sit out the next two years!


Musical chairs

The organ grinder and his monkey has been down in the Mercedes camp, with technical director Paddy Lowe leaving after three years with the dominant Mercedes F1 and returning to Williams F1.

Lowe, who joined Mercedes in 2013, is tipped for a leading role at Williams after chief technical officer Pat Symonds parted company with the British team last year.

It would mark Lowe’s second time at Williams following a six year stint with the team before a 20 year spell at McLaren prior to his Mercedes move.

“Paddy has played an important part in our success during the past three and a half years and we thank him for his contribution to this significant chapter in Mercedes motorsport history,” team boss Toto Wolff added.

Highly-rated British designer James Allison, who left Ferrari last August, is expected to replace Lowe at Mercedes.

“Success in Formula One is not about single individuals but about the strength in depth and technical capability of an organization.” Lowe was the recipient of Lewis Hamilton’s defiance at the end of 2016 when he refused to obey Lowe’s order during the final race of the year which gave Rosberg the world title.


Bottas to Mercedes?

Valtteri Bottas.

Of course he is! Bottas’ manager is Toto Wolf, the chap who is the team principal at Mercedes. Need I say more?

However Bottas couldn’t get out of his contract with Williams without a ‘senior’ driver being at Williams to mentor rookie Lance Stroll, who is bringing a shopping bag (a very large shopping bag) of Daddy’s money (try 80 million dollars).

The answer to the conundrum lies in recently retired Williams F1 driver Felipe Massa, the Brazilian veteran who only called time on his career at the end of last season. If Felipe will do another year, he could re-sign for Williams making it possible for Bottas to move to Mercedes.

What a wonderful bag full of worms!


I’m not as think as you drunk I am

One of the regular readers sent me this item, so it is not confirmed, but I think it should be possible.

A new wearable device developed by Californian company Milo Sensors has developed a wristband known as Proof that tells you how much alcohol is in your system.

Proof reads alcohol molecules through your skin with its built in electrochemical sensor able to convert alcohol into an electrical current in order to help display accurate alcohol levels in your blood.

If its accompanying smartphone app then says that your alcohol levels are too high, Proof can predict when you will be safe to drive and even send you an alert when you have reached this level.

Proof, which was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2107) in Las Vegas earlier this month, also has a feature that allows users to track family or friends if they are out for the night, and make sure they are drinking responsibly.


And here’s another Tesla rival – or is it?

Lucid Air.

Silicon Valley has come up with yet another start-up electric vehicle manufacturer called Lucid Motors, which unveiled a prototype of its first product, a luxury sedan called Air. Claims for this manufacturer include claims of power of up to 745 kW and a driving range of up to 640 kilometers when deliveries start in early 2019.

Again similar to the Faraday Future, the Lucid Air has been developed by a team led by former Tesla Model S chief engineer Peter Rawlinson.

Lucid, which grew out of American battery company Atieva, plans to manufacture the car at an all-new US$700 million factory to be built in Arizona next year. (Does that sound familiar? It should!)

It is claimed that it is being designed from the outset to be capable of autonomous driving with minimal driver input, regulations permitting.

Lucid claims its batteries – developed in league with Samsung SDI – not only offer best-in-class energy density but a unique chemistry that provides “breakthrough tolerance to repeated fast charging”.

“While many batteries age prematurely if fast-charged regularly, you can fast charge a Lucid battery at will without worries,” it says in the blurb accompanying pictures of the new model released overnight.

The company is also claiming “world-class performance in acceleration, driving range and efficiency” from the drivetrain developed in-house by Lucid engineers in California’s Silicon Valley, south of San Francisco.

Although no performance figures were disclosed, Lucid has a 671 kW prototype powertrain in a Mercedes-Benz Vito van that apparently has been clocked at 2.8 seconds in the 0-100 sprint and can cover 640 km. (The Tesla S P100D is said to go from zero to 100 km/h in 2.7 seconds and cover 613 km.)

If you believe in fortune telling, the first year sales target in 2019 is between 8000 and 10,000 units, rising to 50,000 to 60,000 by 2021.

Like Tesla and its Model 3 and Faraday Future, Lucid is taking customer deposits before production starts or final pricing is set. The first 255 examples of the special launch edition command a fully refundable deposit of US$25,500.

The US media predicts this car will sell for about $160,000, but if that looks to be out of your budget, there is a standard version to follow – thought to be priced about $85,000 – that can be reserved with a deposit of US$2500.

So far, orders are only being taken in the US and Canada.

I wouldn’t rush, if I were you.


Autotrivia

Quiz car.

Last week I asked ‘what car is this?’ 406 of them were built between 1936 and 1939, straight eight supercharged engine of 5.4 liters, all independent suspension and revered today. What is it? It was the supercharged Mercedes 540 K one of the most beautiful cars ever made, and worth several million dollars today. In an era where most cars of this caliber were bodies outside the factory, Mercedes built most of the bodies themselves at the factory. Twenty armored versions were ordered by Third Reich officers!

How much is one really worth? Press Release from Auctioneers RM Sotheby's, the world's largest collector car auction house for investment-quality automobiles, kicked off its 2016 season this week with an impressive $62.8 million in sales at its 17th annual Arizona Biltmore auction in Phoenix. Attracting bidders from 20 countries, the two-day sale presented 149 blue-chip automobiles before a packed sales room, with 85 percent of all lots sold.

The undisputed star of the event - and this year's Arizona auction week - was a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster, chassis no. 130894. An original U.S.-delivery car with known history from new, the highly desirable "high door", "longtail", factory left-hand-drive Special Roadster was offered fresh to the market, following 26 years in single ownership. Bidding on the stunning automobile opened at $5 million before quickly climbing to a final $9,900,000. The impressive price ranks the vehicle as the most valuable automobile sold in Arizona auction week history, breaking the previous record set by RM in 2015. The strong result also ranks the Special Roadster as one of the most valuable pre-war automobiles ever sold at auction.

So to this week. What car is this? I want the manufacturer and the model. I have seen one in Pattaya. Clue: Short production line and all sold out and an electric canvas roof.

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Update January 14, 2017

Overloading?

We have all seen the pick-ups in Thailand loaded to the skies, and many photographs have been taken of them while the rest look incredulously at the sight. However, would it surprise you to know that this practice began in the UK? And is still a problem in the UK.

Overloaded Austins.

During the fourth quarter of 2014, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) published their annual effectiveness report for 2013/14. The report highlighted that overloading continues to be a serious issue on the UK’s roads. Weighing expert Avery Weigh-Tronix warns both drivers and operators to be aware of the risks.

Colin Smith from Avery Weigh-Tronix commented, “As well as being a criminal offence which can attract fines and prosecution, overloading can have a detrimental impact on the roadworthiness of vehicles – from braking systems to increased instability and wear and tear.

“Looking through the report, it is worrying to note that roadside checks found defects in braking systems of almost 19 percent of HGV trailers, along with various other issues such as steering, suspension and tyres. An overloaded vehicle in good condition is potentially hazardous, but overloading a vehicle which also has other issues relating to its roadworthiness could be extremely dangerous.”

The report, which contains data on vehicle testing and enforcement activity over the last twelve months, shows that overloading of LGVs is still the top offence on UK roads, with both the number of prosecutions and the average fine up on last year. Overloading of HGVs also continues to be an issue, being the fifth most common offence for prosecution during the same period.


Will your car get nicked?

The MyCarCheck.com people in the UK has named the five cars most at risk of being stolen in 2016. The list is topped by some distance by the Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, with 1 in 6 registrations checked returning a stolen warning.

Second most at risk was the Mercedes-Benz CLC 220 Cdi Sport Auto, with 1 in 11 checked returning a stolen warning, followed by the Range Rover Evoque Dynamics D4A, Honda Jazz SE CVT and Ford Fiesta Zetec.

Porsche Carrera 4S.

Head of MyCarCheck.com, Roger Powell, said, “It should come as no surprise that the cars most at risk of being stolen in 2016 are prestige models: a Porsche 911 sports car, Mercedes-Benz Clc220 coupe and Land Rover Evoque SUV. They are desirable to used car buyers and targeted by car thieves due to the profit potential.

“The fact that the UK’s best-selling car, the Fiesta, is fifth on our list shows that any used car for sale can potentially be stolen. While the risk of buying one is relatively low, you must weigh that against the embarrassment of being pulled by the police and finding yourself massively out of pocket when it is seized and returned to its rightful owner. That’s why all motor traders use vehicle provenance checks and we urge all consumers to do the same.

“The latest British Crime Survey showed that vehicle theft is on the rise for the first time in 20 years. The period April 2015 to March 2016 saw an 8 percent rise, with 80,047 vehicles recorded as stolen. You also have to bear in mind that cars stolen during house burglaries or by asset fraud aren’t included, so the problem is serious and getting worse.”

Fortunately, this is not a problem in my household as I could leave the family Mira with keys in the ignition and the doors open and it would still be there three weeks later.


10 Speed transmissions

The Chev Camaro and Ford pick-up Raptor are using the current cutting edge of automotive technology: They represent the first application of automatic, 10 speed transmission technology in the industry.

A joint development by General Motors and Ford Motor Company, the new 10 speed combines an unprecedented range of performance and fuel efficiency in one gearbox. With the spread of ratios for Camaro and Raptor, this means that there is always a correct gear, no matter what is being asked of the car and its transmission. With the US government mandating increased fuel efficiency at the same time as consumers expecting increased performance, the 10 speed satisfies both goals.

“The 10-speed has a greater ratio spread, which enables fuel economy in the upper gears while providing more torque multiplication in the lower gears,” says Ford drivetrain engineer Seth Goslowski, who did extensive, extreme development on the Raptor.

Ford Raptor.

Ford was the lead engineering team on the rear wheel drive 10 speed, while GM leads development on a joint, 9-speed, front wheel drive transmission.

The effect of an automotive 10 speed allows for better torque at low speeds, better cruising in high gear. For Raptor that translates to steep rock crawling where the big truck uses gears one-two. For the Camaro the closer low-end gear ratios enable it to better manage the 650 pound foot of torque in order to accelerate from zero to 100 k in 3.5 seconds, true supercar times.

Crucial to the joint program, dubbed 10 Speed Rear Drive (or 10R for short), was that the gearbox’s packaging would fit the same space as the base Camaro’s eight-speed transmission and the Ford F-150’s six-speed automatic.

Camaro Chief Engineer Al Oppenhimer says the 10-speed was the perfect fit for the low-volume, high-performance ZL1. Tested on some off the world’s most challenging race tracks, the Camaro shares GM’s most capable V-8 with the Corvette Z06.

The Camaro ZL1’s 100 millisecond upshifts easily puts it in supercar territory where vehicles like the dual-clutch, $200,000 Porsche Turbo gearboxes shift in 500 milliseconds.

Ford’s first application goes in Raptor, its highest-volume vehicle. In addition to the Raptor, Ford has announced that all F-150’s with the Ecoboost V-6 engines will get the 10R as well.

Combined with turbo technology, the 10R allows the Raptor to gain 16 percent fuel efficiency over the previous generation six speed auto gearbox.

The Ford/GM 10 speed technology is being rapidly followed by other automakers. Lexus is introducing a 10 speed in its LC 500 supercar due in May. Meanwhile, Honda has taken out a patent for an 11 speed box. And Volvo and Mercedes trucks have been running 12 speed automatics for a few years.

The auto industry has gone a long way since ‘three on the tree’ gave way to ‘four on the floor’.


Looking for a Lotus 49?

There were seven of the remaining Lotus Type 49s in a booth at the Autosport International show in Birmingham, England in January 12-15. This is actually quite amazing, as the Lotus 49 was a ground-breaking race car.

In the hands of Jim Clark, the Lotus 49 won its very first race, the 1967 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, but only after Graham Hill had set pole position in another Type 49. Though the model would win just three more F1 races in 1967, Clark or Hill would capture every remaining pole position for the remainder of the 1967 season.

Jim Clark drifting a Lotus 49.

The Type 49 was designed around the Cosworth engine (Mike COStin and Keith DuckWORTH). Unhappy with BRM’s heavy H-16 engine Colin Chapman turned to old friends Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth, who’d met at Lotus before going on to form Cosworth. Financially unable to go it alone, Chapman convinced Ford of Britain to fund development efforts, a program that would eventually deliver both a four-cylinder Formula 2 engine (the Cosworth FVA) and an eight-cylinder Formula 1 engine (the Cosworth DFV). Once the bugs were sorted, the Cosworth DFV would remain competitive in Formula 1 until the mid-1980s.

The Type 49 also set construction standards for virtually all future F1 cars. Looking to save as much weight as possible, Chapman and Maurice Philippe designed a simple front monocoque to house the driver, the front suspension subframe, the fuel bladders and a reserve oil tank. This assembly bolted to the front of the Cosworth DFV engine at four points, and the engine and transmission served as stressed members of the frame. The rear suspension attached to the transmission, so both engine and gearbox were stressed members.

The earliest Type 49s weighed in at just over 1,100 pounds, and first-generation DFV’s produced roughly 415 horsepower at 9,000 RPM. Though the science of racing aerodynamics was still in its infancy, the Lotus 49 soon sported front and rear wings, and in 1968, the 49B experimented with a tall rear wing affixed to the rear suspension. On Graham Hill’s Type 49B, this wing’s angle of attack could be adjusted via a fourth pedal in the cockpit, but movable aerodynamic devices (and lofty rear wings) were soon banned by the FIA.

Counting Type 49, 49B and 49C variants, a total of 12 examples were built by Lotus, and the cars ran in Formula 1 into the 1971 season. In five years of competition, the Lotus 49 entered 42 Grands Prix, scored 12 wins, 23 podiums, 19 poles, 13 fastest laps, two constructors championships (1968, 1970) and two drivers championships (Graham Hill in 1968 and Jochen Rindt in 1970).

Yes, the Lotus 49 was a milestone in the development of today’s F1 car.


Autotrivia

Last week I mentioned the Austin A40 Devon (not the Somerset) that came out post war. I asked how could you easily see the difference between the 1949 and 1950 models from the outside? The answer was that the 49 model did not have quarterlights, which first came out on the 1950 model.

So to this week, and it is a ‘what car is this?’ 406 of them were built between 1936 and 1939, straight eight supercharged engine of 5.4 liters, all independent suspension and revered today. What is it?

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Update January 8, 2017

Have you got rental insurance?

Renault Twingo.

RSR Nurburg, owned by Ron Simons, has benefited from the Nurburgring Nordschleife's cult success (AKA The Green Hell). The Dutchman started RSR Nurburg as a race school and car rental center at the Nurburgring in 2002. The business has since grown into the largest rental outlet on the 'ring, with dozens of staff and more than 100 cars for hire.

What is available? Renault's 99 kW Twingo RS kicks off the range, giving customers a chance to tour the Nordschleife for THB 4,785 inclusive of fuel and entry for one lap, or THB 12,000 for four tours of the track. Customers are more likely to spend a little more to get hold of a turbocharged, 147 kW Ford Fiesta ST or Renault Clio RS, both of which can be had for THB 16,680 for four "tourist" laps.

Wealthy enthusiasts can choose something like a McLaren MP4-12C, but doing so comes at the cost of a (wait for it and breathe deep) THB 148,750 rental fee, and a potential insurance excess of THB 5.56 million if it all goes wrong.

Having driven the ‘ring, it is the most magical circuit, but does give the intrepid driver many chances of doing it wrong!


Hope the damage isn’t sealious

 

How high is the sealing?

Interesting snippet from Down-Under with a rather large seal deciding to reside on a Toyota in suburban Launceston. Christened “Lou-seal” by the authorities there (no royalties to Chuck Berry) the 200 kg fur seal was tranquilized and transported back to the sea 50 km away! That’s a flipping long way! Stop this nonsense and get onto sealibrating the New Year - Sealed with a kiss? Enough!


A Camaro for Dads at Xmas

2017 Camaro ZL1.

The new Camaro ZL1 will give Dad an impressive 11.4 second quarter mile times with an easy-to-use launch control system, and wait for it, two kids in the back.

This new ZL1 is described by GM as a triple threat: On dragstrip, on road, and on track.

In the US, this four place Camaro is taking the fight to the BMW M4 and Caddy ATS-V. With its 650 BHP and 650 ft/lbs torque it returns a zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and is a genuine competitor at USD 30K cheaper.

Specifications

Vehicle type: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive, four-passenger sports coupe.

Power plant: 6.2 liter, supercharged V 8

Transmission: 10 speed automatic or 6 speed manual.

Weight: 3,887 pounds, manual.

Price: USD 63,435.

Power: 650 horsepower, 650 pound foot torque.

Performance: Zero-60: 3.5 seconds (automatic), 3.7 seconds (manual) manufacturer).

Fuel economy: EPA 14 city/20 highway/16 combined (manual).


Tales with Rover

Rover 825i.

Remember the days before remote locking? You actually had to unlock the front doors individually, but this meant that you did the gentlemanly thing of escorting your partner to the passenger door and with a great flourish, you unlocked it and ushered her into the vehicle. These days you push the button as you approach the car, it responds with a beep-beep and unlocks everything and your passenger gets herself into the vehicle, by herself.

Having set the scene, it was 1987 and I had flown to the UK for a visit. Using the fact that I had been a ‘Works Driver’ in MG’s for British Leyland (before they pulled out of Australia) I had contacted MG Rover in the UK, looking for a car to test for the two weeks while I was there. No problem, I was told. They would supply a new Rover 825i for the duration of my trip (motor manufacturers in Thailand who expect full road tests after one drive around the block, please take note).

In 1987, this Rover 825i was the finest machine in the MG Rover stable. With mechanicals from the Honda Legend it had all the Japanese quality, with all the snob appeal of the ‘very British’ Rover badge, Westminster carpet on the floor and some polished English oak on the dashboard! It also came with remote locking, and the MG Rover chap showed me how it worked, and how the infra-red remote receiver was behind the internal rear vision mirror.

The 825i proved itself to be a reliable, semi-luxury carriage; however, I found a problem I never expected. The remote locking failed!

I had gone for lunch in one of those quaint English style pubs. You know the style – all dark wood and warm beer with crusty gentlemen smoking briar pipes and wearing caps and hairy tweed jackets with leather patches on the elbows.

After lunch I ventured outside into the crisp, cold British air and strolled down towards the Rover 825i in the car park. As I walked towards it, I pushed the unlock button, but nothing happened. No flashing lights. Obviously I was too far away, so I walked closer and pushed the magic button again. Still nothing!

By now I had arrived at the car and still no answer from the remote locking. I decided to go back to manual technology and inserted the key in the lock on the driver’s door. Nothing! It didn’t budge.

I analyzed the situation, and it was then I remembered the MG Rover chappie telling me about the IR receiver behind the interior rear vision mirror. Looking through the windscreen I could even see it, a red bulb behind the mirror. I pointed the remote at the red bulb and expectantly pressed the button. Nothing!

So I lay down on the bonnet of the car, so that I could get the remote on the windscreen, as close as possible to the red bulb receiver. With a determined thumb I pressed the button – and still nothing.

Suddenly there was this very British voice saying, “I say old chap, just what do you think you are doing?” I turned round and there was the archetypal Briton, cap and tweed jacket, and bristling with anger. “I am trying to open my car, but the remote unlocking device does not work,” I replied. “That’s because this is not your car, this is my car,” said the crusty and now angry Brit. “No it’s not,” said I. “I have this silver Rover 825i on loan from MG Rover!” “I beg your pardon,” said crusty, angry gent, “this is MY silver Rover 825i that I bought from the agents here!” We were now standing toe to toe and I could see I would need the registration papers to prove my point – but the registration papers, were of course, inside the locked car.

However, before I could think of my next move, and to verify his claim, he went on to say, “Your Rover is the one further down the car park, in the next line!” I looked at where he was pointing, and there it was. I pointed the remote, pushed and it flashed the lights. With burning shame, I could only apologize profusely and offer him a warm beer. He declined, muttering something about the fact that he was still sober and knew what he was doing. I could not miss the inference, but decided that I had had enough of this scenario and slunk off to my Rover and try to forget the case of mistaken identity.


Tales of a Tuk-Tuk

Having opened Thai Tasty, a Thai restaurant in Brisbane, Australia, and having found an importer of things Thai, a Tuk-Tuk was ordered. This was going to be the answer, I was sure. A brand new and reliable Tuk-Tuk for Thai Tasty deliveries.

Like all the best laid plans of mice and men (though I am not convinced that mice plan anything), I had forgotten one important factor – the Australian government’s vehicle registration regulations. The regulations did not cover Tuk-Tuks, so my delivery vehicle couldn’t be registered. The initial negative response was followed by around six months of negotiations where government engineers put forward suggestions to make the Tuk-Tuk more likely to be registered Down-under.

The first modification was to fit a front brake, and this was fairly simple to do, using a motorcycle disc brake and caliper. Next was the requirement to raise the roof by 5 cm. I have no idea why, but maybe they were working on the principle that Aussies are taller than Thais, so more head room was necessary. This was done easily and we were looking good. A provisional registration plate was issued and my now “legal” Tuk-Tuk was delivered to the restaurant.

I could hardly wait. I leaped aboard, fired it up and roared off, gripping the motorcycle style handlebars. At the first corner I turned the handlebars and nothing happened. We were heading straight for the safety fencing! I grabbed for the front brake to slow it down and it immediately tipped up on two wheels. I could see a large crash was imminent. Somehow, Somchai the Patron Saint of Tuk-Tuk drivers looked down and got the vehicle back on three wheels and slow enough to make the corner. I gulped and began to see why being a Tuk-Tuk jockey was a career reserved for Thais. It did not respond to western wisdom. In fact the greatest wisdom was to get off the thing.

I did remount and learned to drive/ride a little slower and not to apply the front brake in the corners, but then thought that perhaps the Thai manufacturers were not silly by having only rear brakes. However, using the front brake in the middle of the corner and going up onto two wheels became my party trick, especially late at night when I would give the last diners the ride of their lives.

My chef would also ask to be taken round the block, sitting proudly in the back with his arms folded. I asked him why he wanted this, as he must have ridden in Tuk-Tuks many times in Bangkok. “Ah yes,” he replied, “but I never had a farang (foreigner) driver before!”


Autotrivia

Last week I mentioned that recycling is well known in many industries, including the automotive. I asked which automaker was the first to use recycled materials to manufacture its car bodies. Would you believe it was the dreadful Trabant!

So to this week. The Austin A40 Devon (not the Somerset) came out post war. How could you easily see the difference between the 1949 and 1950 models from the outside?

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Update December 30, 2016

Would you pay 13 mio for a wreck?

The dilapidated Aston Martin DB4.

An Aston Martin DB4 that languished in woodland for almost half a century has been exhumed and is expected to sell for between 13 and 15 million baht at auction in January.

This well known British brand Aston Martin DB4 went to the USA over fifty years ago. In its day, the DB4 was one of the most powerful and desirable vehicles available. It is not known why this DB4 was one day parked and not started again.

The car’s history includes having sat outdoors in a secluded part of its owner’s property in Massachusetts since the early Seventies. While it is in no way a drivable classic – it is actually in a terrible state, and will need an expensive and thorough restoration – the North American climate has shown more kindness than British weather would have.

Over five decades of inactivity, rust formed and soggy leaves rose half way up the bodywork. Nevertheless, this DB4 is one of around 1,200 made and is therefore of immense international significance. Estimates of up to 15 million baht might make this the most expensive car to be discovered in a forest when it goes under the hammer on January 18 at Worldwide Auctioneers’ inaugural Scottsdale sale in Arizona.

No, I won’t be phoning a bid through!


Do you have a ‘classic’ in your garage?

 

1973 Mk1 Ford Escort.

A recent survey by the Federation of British historic vehicle clubs survey states that 8.2m people in the UK are interested in classic vehicles. 1,039,950 vehicles are registered as historic (pre 1976) with 500,000 owners of said vehicles. The estimated total value is 17.8b. 34,900 people are employed in this industry. 6 percent of the cars are MG, 5 percent Ford, 4 percent Triumph, Austin, Morris and Land-Rover 3 percent. VW 3 percent, Rover and Jaguar 2 percent.

As the owner of a “classic” with my 1973 Mk 1 Ford Escort, and a life-long enthusiast of the old days of motoring, I am enjoying seeing the classic car movement growing the way it has, with a projected Thailand Classic Car meeting on 25 March 2017 at the Asia Pattaya Hotel.

So if you have a classic, or just an interest in motoring from the days gone by, pencil in the date in your 2017 diary. In the meantime here’s my classic.


Ford GT – a modern classic

Ford GT.

Ford Motor Co. celebrated the beginning of production and delivery of the highly anticipated Ford GT supercar in Ontario, Canada.

The $450,000 plus car has gained lots of attention since its introduction at the 2015 North American International Auto Show.

“This is really a celebration more than anything; it’s a celebration for all the people that design and develop and are now building the Ford GT as a showcase for us as a company,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, global product development, and chief technical officer. His comments came during an employee and media event Friday at the GT production facility in Markham, Ontario.

Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. and CEO and Chairman Mark Fields will be the first two to take delivery as their corporate Xmas present.

Is there enough interest in the general public to build such a car? The Dearborn automaker received about 6,500 online applications for the first 500 GTs that will be produced as 2017 and 2018 model year cars.

The high demand caused the automaker to extend production through the 2020 model year. The first three model years are already sold out, while ordering for the fourth will open in early 2018. Production is capped at 250 cars per year.

Ford implemented a rigorous vetting process that included previous GT ownership, activity on social media and a legal document stating the new owner won’t sell the vehicle for a certain amount of time to help prevent buyers from flipping them quickly for a profit.

The GT is powered by a 3.5 liter V-6 Eco Boost engine. It is the same basic engine that debuted in Ford’s Taurus SHO and is under the bonnet of the 2015 F-150 pickup, but the GT engine has custom pistons, rods, turbos and cams that help it get more than 600 horsepower. The GT includes a number of weight saving areas, including a carbon-fiber tub and a gorilla-glass windshield that is 12 pounds lighter than a traditional windshield.

Will we see any here? Ford has said they will make RHD models of the new Mustang, so it is possible, but to get over the red tape and duty hurdles, makes the chances of a GT trundling down Sukhumvit very unlikely.


Do you buy new cars on appearance, not engineering?

Honda Civic.

The J.D. Power 2016 Thailand Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study states that appearance and styling drive the increase in new vehicle appeal in Thailand.

Overall APEAL averages 901 points (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2016, up from 883 in 2015, with scores in all vehicle segments improving year over year. The SUV segment improves the most from 2015 (+28 points, on average), followed by the pickup truck and passenger car segments (+20 and +10 points, respectively).

“Manufacturers have successfully managed to improve vehicle attractiveness, especially with newer or redesigned SUV and pickup models,” said Siros Satrabhaya, manager at J.D. Power. “However, while satisfaction with newer models increases in most vehicle component categories, they post notably lower scores (more than 20 points) in fuel economy this year. This may indicate a lack of transparency and possibly overpromising fuel efficiency figures under normal usage conditions.”

(The Thailand government in 2016 mandated that each new vehicle in the showroom have an “eco sticker,” which shows fuel efficiency information for the vehicle.)

“The information on the sticker may be misleading since it’s based on lab testing conditions,” said Satrabhaya. “Consumers’ expectations are being set by the data on the sticker, and only after they own the vehicle do they realize the fuel efficiency may vary in everyday use.”

The study also finds that first-time new-vehicle owners, who represent 48 percent of buyers, are notably less satisfied with the overall appeal of their vehicle than repeat buyers (890 vs. 910, respectively). A test drive is an effective way to increase customer satisfaction, which is considerably higher among those who take a test drive than among those who do not (903 vs. 872, respectively). The impact of a test drive on satisfaction is significantly higher among first-time buyers than among repeat buyers (+35 vs. +24 points, respectively).

The following are additional key findings of the study: The top five highest-rated vehicle attributes overall are side-profile appearance and styling; forward visibility from the driver’s seat; appearance of exterior paint; usefulness of steering wheel-mounted controls and ease of seeing/ reading controls/ displays while driving. Attributes receiving the lowest ratings are seat features - specifically, the ability of seat surfaces to resist soil/ lint; ease of operating/ adjusting rear seats; and flexibility of seating configurations - and storage and audio issues, including usefulness of rear cup holders and quality of bass.

Study Rankings:

Honda received three APEAL awards: the Jazz (898) in the entry midsize car segment; the Civic (908) in the midsize car segment; and the HR-V (913) in the compact SUV segment.

Suzuki received the award in the compact car segment Ciaz (894); Toyota in the new large SUV segment for the Fortuner (908); Mitsubishi for the Triton Plus X-Cab (922) in the extended cab pickup segment; and Ford earned the double cab pickup segment award for the Ranger D-Cab (923).

The 2016 Thailand APEAL Study is based on responses from 4,813 new-vehicle owners who purchased their vehicle from November 2015 through July 2016. The study covers 13 different brands that include 82 different passenger car, pickup truck and utility vehicle models. The study was fielded from May through September 2016.


A true “classic”

Alfa Romeo Duetto 1750.

The 1966 Geneva Motor Show saw the release of what became a future classic – the Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider. This was the last design done by Battista Pininfarina and has been one of the longest lasting designs in the auto industry, going from 1966 to 1993.

Over the years it received a cut-off tail and a succession of engines from 1300cc to 1600cc to 1750cc and finally 2000cc, however, the car retains the same basic design.


Autotrivia

Last week I mentioned one automaker received more than 140,000 suggestions for the name of its new model. The person who sent in the winning entry was given a new one as his prize, so with that incentive, there is no surprise that so many entered. Names which did not win included Pizza, Sputnik, Panther and Al Capone. I asked who was the winner? (Not what, but who?) It was the Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider and that name for the car won Guidobaldi Trione a brand new one.

So to this week. Recycling is well known in many industries, including the automotive. Which automaker was the first to use recycled materials to manufacture its car bodies?

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Update December 24, 2016

Beware! Giulia might fool yah

 

New Alfa Romeo Giulia.

BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz must be looking nervously over their shoulders, as Alfa Romeo reveals the new Giulia, a four door sports sedan with just as much heritage as the afore-mentioned trio.

In many markets, this new Giulia is a relaunch of Alfa Romeo, with this car available in both right hand drive as well as the Italian left hand drive.

Launched overseas earlier this year, the Giulia, which was developed in part with Ferrari’s help – is a rear wheel drive four door sedan with specifications which outshine the current class leaders.

From February 2017, there will be four variants to choose from with the top of the line being the Giulia QV (which I am told represents the Quadrifoglio, Alfa Romeo’s four leaf clover insignia).

This new Giulia should not be confused with the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider which is based on the new Japanese MX5. The QV is based on an all-new platform which will also underpin the forthcoming Stelvio SUV.

Power comes from a 2.9 liter twin-turbo V6 petrol engine, which had Ferrari input and produces 375 kW at 6500 rpm and 600 Nm torque, available from 2500 to 5000 rpm. With an all-up weight of just 1555 kg, Alfa claims the Giulia QV will cover zero to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds and will not run out of breath until 305 km/h. Fuel consumption figures for this engine are 8.2 liters per 100 km.

In comparison the BMW M3 and M4 only make 331 kW and 550 Nm in competition spec, though the AMG C63 matches the Alfa Romeo in power but the Mercedes delivers 700 Nm torque.

The Giulia QV has RWD with active torque vectoring on the rear axle, a limited slip diff and an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard, but a six-speed manual is available as a no-cost option.

It also gets adaptive dampers as standard, along with six-piston front and four-piston rear Brembo brake calipers.

Standard equipment will include 19 inch alloy wheels with Pirelli tyres, bi-Xenon headlights with adaptive front lighting system and automatic high beam, electric powered and heated leather seats, carbon and aluminium trim and an 8.8 inch multimedia screen with satellite navigation.

On the active safety front, it has forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian awareness, blind-spot monitor, lane departure warning and active cruise control.

Reviewers who have driven the new Alfa Romeo say that headroom and knee room in the rear is surprisingly good, though foot room is a little cramped with the low-slung sports seats of the QV.

The next Giulia down is the Giulia Veloce, which is powered by a 2.0 liter four cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, producing 206 kW and 400 Nm giving performance figures of zero to 100 km/h in 5.8 seconds, and will use a claimed 6.1 L/100 km on the combined cycle.

Two versions of the mid-spec Giulia Super will be offered. The first will offer a lower-tune version of the Veloce petrol engine, making 147 kW and 330 Nm, while a new 2.2 liter turbocharged diesel will produce 132 kW and 450 Nm. The diesel engine variant uses 4.2 L/100 km.

The base model is just called the Giulia and has the Super’s 147 kW/330 Nm petrol engine.

The entry level car gets leather trim, 18 inch alloys, bi-Xenon headlamps, keyless entry, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, automatic wipers, rear parking sensors and a reverse parking camera, but does not get the blind-spot warning.

The Super models get better leather and blind spot monitoring, while the Veloce gets adaptive suspension, limited slip diff, 19 inch alloys and an uprated braking package, with red calipers.

Inside, the Veloce’s cabin gets aluminium dash inserts and pedals, sports leather seats and steering wheel and a better sound system.

It certainly looks as if Alfa Romeo has a worthy contender in the sports sedan stakes, though the one factor not revealed was the price. Let us wait with interest. Perhaps we might even see the Alfa Romeo marque exhibiting at the Bangkok International Motor Show in March.


Land Speed Record

In the early days of motoring, the internal combustion engine did not reign supreme, and it was not until 1907 that an internal combustion vehicle took the record – specifically the aircraft V-8 that Glenn Curtiss installed in his motorcycle to speed to set the new record at a sphincter-puckering 136 mph. They were brave men in those days!


The Spirit of Ecstasy

The House of Rolls-Royce favored me with a Press Release advising of the future release of a series of films referring to the Spirit of Ecstasy, the ‘Flying Lady’ who adorns the bonnets of their vehicles since 1911.

The first episode of The House of Rolls-Royce series, “The Spirit of Ecstasy”, retells the story of the muse that has guided and inspired the world’s most celebrated luxury house for the past 105 years.

Since her creation in 1911, the Spirit of Ecstasy, modeled by sculptor and artist Charles Sykes, has silently guided every Rolls-Royce and its prestigious owner through momentous events in their lives and the lives of others. She has stood as an elegant presence and witness at some of history’s most notable events.

The films will hopefully answer the question “Is a Rolls-Royce really that good or are we dealing with myths?”


Is speedway the answer?

Speedway action.

I have always been a bikie. Four years of Moto-X, swung in the chair for an Australian champ and even ran laps on a speedway bike. Sounds good till you find out I was a woeful Moto-X rider, my time in the chair was three laps and I bit his leg off and made him come in, and the speedway outing was private practice and totaled 20 laps, (but I was 40 years of age, and should have known better).

However, in a spare hour last weekend I found the Speedway GP (SGP) on You Tube on my smart TV. All the shoulder to shoulder action of the speedway, marketed in a slick package for television. The rough and ready aspect of speedway riders in black leathers, as I remembered it from my boyhood, has apparently long since gone.

Professionalism has come to the dirt – the riders even carry brushes to keep their colorful leathers clean between heats.

Jack Young Edinburgh Monarchs 1950.

So, as well as Moto-GP for action, you also have the choice of Speedway (SGP) as well. Formula 1 is going to have to look critically at the package it is offering to the spectators at present. It is no good relying on the fact that Formula 1 began in 1950 and there is history and tradition. Speedway racing came from Australia to the UK in the 1920’s.

The bikes themselves are very simple and the following regulations apply:

Machines used must:

Weigh no less than 77 kg (unfuelled)

Use a four-stroke, single-cylinder engine with one carburettor and one spark plug and a maximum capacity of 500 cc

Have guards fitted over moving engine parts where reasonable

Use an additional chain guard to prevent a hand or fingers being cut at the nip point where the chain meets the sprocket by a chain

Have a peg fitted to prevent a broken primary chain flailing and injuring a rider or a fellow competitor

Use shatter resistant plastics where reasonable

Be fitted with a dirt deflector

Be fuelled by methanol with no additives

Be fitted with an approved silencer

Have a handlebar width greater than 650 mm and less than 850 mm.

Machines used cannot:

Be constructed in any part from Titanium

Use uncoated ceramic parts

Use telemetry during a race except for timing purposes

Use any electronic components to control the engine

Use brakes of any form

Use supercharger or a turbocharger of any kind.

Simple and effective and easily checked by the scrutineers. Everyone knows the regulations and the result of each competition depends upon the skill of the rider, forget ‘strategy’ and tyre choices and even the scoring has remained the same 3-2-1-0 for the four riders in the heats.

Speedway is an understandable weekly competition and F1 has much to learn from it.


Autotrivia quiz

 

Quiz Car.

Last week I asked what is this car? From a famous manufacturer and still one of the biggest OEMs today. It was a T model Ford, modified by Frontenac. Among the most successful Model T racers were those produced under the brand name of Frontenac, operated by three brothers whose first names were Arthur, Louis and Gaston, and a last name very familiar to the automotive world, Chevrolet. While most of the “Fronty” conversions were seen on dirt tracks, in 1923, L.L. Corum took a 5th place finish at that year’s Indianapolis 500, bested only by a quartet of powerful Miller eight-cylinder cars.

So to this week. One automaker received more than 140,000 suggestions for the name of its new model. The person who sent in the winning entry was given a new one as his prize, so with that incentive, there is no surprise that so many entered. Names which did not win included Pizza, Sputnik, Panther and Al Capone. Who was the winner? (Not what, but who?)

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Update December 17, 2016

Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Matic sports sedan moves to the next league

Mercedes AMG E63 S Class.

The latest version of the E Class, breathed upon by AMG is claimed to be the fastest production four-door sedan in the world.

The Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Matic, to give it its full title, is a new era for the high-performance division’s large sedan, thanks to downsized powertrains, all-wheel drive and semi-autonomous driving technology.

This new version of the E Class develops 450 kW of power and 850 Nm of torque from the 4.0 liter biturbo V8 also found in the Mercedes-AMG GT S coupe, the new four door five seater sedan covers zero to 100 km/h mark in 3.4 seconds.

The engine is a 32-valve aluminium V8 with direct-injection and new-to-series two twin-scroll turbochargers (located between the vee bank for reduced lag/quicker responses and compactness), helping to generate the maximum 450 kW from 5750-6500 rpm and the 850 Nm between 2500-4500 rpm.

‘Half engine mode’ disconnects cylinders two, three, five, and eight by shutting off their relevant intake and exhaust valves, to make it a four cylinder engine returning 8.8 liters per 100 km.

Additionally, as with some W213 models, the Drive Pilot intelligent semi-autonomous technology is standard, providing lane-keep control, adaptive cruise control and other active safety items.

AWD is achieved via an all-new in-house developed AMG Speedshift MCT Multi Clutch Technology nine speed Sports Transmission, with extremely short shift times with fast multiple downshifts and a wet start-off clutch replaces a torque converter.

The completely variable 4Matic AWD system employs an electromechanically controlled coupling – so it can switch from AWD to RWD.

On the braking front, the E63 S uses 390 x 36 mm vented and drilled compound brake discs up front with six-piston fixed callipers and 360 x 24 mm single-piston floating brake calipers on the rear axle.  AMG Carbon Ceramic brakes are available in 402 x 39 mm and 360 x 32 mm front and rear axle sizes respectively.

A tubular anti-roll bar first seen on the AMG GT R reduces weight.  Combined, all these items help improve camber stability by 30 percent compared to the outgoing E63, but how they come up with these comparisons, I do not know.

A useless setting is a drift mode; select Race, disengage the ESC, press manual mode, then using the shift paddles simultaneously, the E63 S turns the driver into a hoonigan, and remains in that setting until the driver deactivates it.  Somehow I cannot see the type of driver who can afford such a car wanting to practice drifting.

Undoubtedly this new version of the E Class is as close to perfection as M-B and AMG can make it – but expect astronomical pricing if it comes to Thailand.  I’ll guess around 8 million baht.


Ford Fiesta previewed in Germany

Ford Fiesta 2017.

The seventh generation Fiesta was previewed at a special event in Ford Europe’s Cologne plant in Germany ahead of the 2017 model’s roll out next year on the light hatchback’s 40th anniversary.

Shown in four five-door variants, including a crossover called Fiesta Active, the replacement for the ageing current model received an evolutionary styling update.

Ford confirmed that all Fiesta variants except the sporty European-built ST for this market will continue to come from Ford’s Rayong plant in Thailand.

This means that Australia is likely to share the American version of the Fiesta that, this time around, is set to be sourced from Thailand instead of Mexico (perhaps as the result of threats from POTA Donald Trump)?

The Thai-built car is unlikely to be significantly different in style and substance from the one shown in Europe.

Fiesta is not doing well in the showroom stakes, now ranked a lowly 10th in the important light-car market segment led by the Hyundai Accent (in Australia) and Mazda2.

It is expected that the new Fiesta will have the 1.0 liter three-cylinder turbo EcoBoost engine which will get cylinder deactivation in an industry first.

This technology can disengage or re-engage one of the cylinders in 14 milliseconds, which Ford says is “20 times faster than the blink of an eye”.

The company says it has come up with advanced solutions to counteract vibration, and that the deactivation operation “will be imperceptible to drivers in terms of operation and engine performance”.

Ford promises the expanded Fiesta range will offer more personalization options, following the trend set by European manufacturers such as Audi and Mini.


Put your BeeEmm on lay-by

BMW Finance will be forced to refund $72 million to loans customers after the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) found that the German car-maker breached responsible lending guidelines in place Down Under.

ASIC said in a press release that BMW Finance will “implement Australia’s largest consumer credit remediation” as a means to compensate customers it says were misled by irresponsible lending practices.

An investigation by Fairfax Media earlier this year alleged that BMW was approving large loans to buyers who were not in a financial position to repay the loans, with some customers having zero or negative disposable income.

ASIC says the $72 million remediation program is open to BMW Financial Services, Mini Financial Services and Alphera Financial Services customers.

It will be made up of $14.6 million in remediation payments, $7.6 million in interest rate reductions on current contracts and $50 million in loan write-offs.

Under the program, BMW has agreed to an additional “community benefit” payment of $5 million that will go towards consumer advocacy and financial literary activities, bringing the total BMW will pay to $77 million.

ASIC says the program will “ensure appropriate remediation” for the 15,000 customers who, between January 2011 and August 2016 may have suffered some hardship as a result of BMW Finance’s actions.

The agreement with ASIC also states that BMW Finance will remove default listings and purchase back all debt sold to third parties to make sure that written-off loans are not in danger of being subject to further collections actions.

An independent remediation consultant will oversee the program and report to ASIC on BMW Finance’s compliance.

ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell detailed BMW Finance’s failures and said the finding sounded a warning to other in-house finance companies operating in Australia (and overseas).

“BMW Finance had a sales-driven culture that failed to comply with the requirements of the credit laws and resulted in poor outcomes for many consumers,” he said.  “We are encouraged that BMW Finance has recognized these shortcomings and agreed to a remediation program that will see thousands of consumers compensated.

“This is an example of the staggering cost of poor business practices and should act as a warning to other car financiers to get their houses in order.”

While BMW Finance will contact customers who have been impacted, customers who had a loan within the above timeframe and believe they have suffered hardship can contact the company and register for the program.

In February this year, ASIC fined BMW Finance $391,000 and placed a condition on its credit license stating that it must appoint an auditor to oversee its activities for 12 months over 22 infringements.

(I knew I should have got a BMW on the ‘never-never’)


Matt or gloss – the decision is yours

I notice that “wrapped” cars are all the rage in Pattaya.  And for some reason it is the more expensive cars, which have a great shiny finish from the factory, that have the matte wrap applied.

What apparently started as a fad among celebrities has trickled down to the well-heeled public, with people ready and willing to pay as much as thousands more for a car that, to an untrained eye, may appear as if it needs waxing.

For fans of the matte look, the finish symbolizes the exclusivity they want, exuding a ‘cool’ factor that sets the vehicle apart from its mass-produced siblings.

And until recently, matte finishes, especially popular in dark colors, have been available in the United States only on the most expensive sports vehicles, such as those manufactured by Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

At the recent Los Angeles car show, for example, the Mercedes AMG GT3 and E63S were exhibited in a matte finish. And while Volvo does not offer the finish on factory models, it displayed its top-of-the-line V90 SUV in matte gray at the show.

The matte look does not come cheap, not in purchase price, nor in the time required to maintain the finish.  Keeping the finish pristine requires hand washing with special soaps and cleaning cloths.

In the case of a matte finish, that clear coat contains many microscopic hills and valleys rather than a smooth wax-like surface, deflecting light in many directions and making the finish look dull.  Without the hills and valleys, the finish would begin to look shiny.

On the plus side, a matte finish does not show swirl marks as a standard polished car would, because the paint is not buffed to a shine.  With proper care, it is claimed that a matte finish is as durable as a glossy one.

Using a vinyl wrap is like putting a big sticker on the car.  The material typically lasts for six years without peeling, and unlike matte paint, the car can still be put through an automatic carwash without hurting the look.

Prices in Pattaya for a wrap range around 20,000 to 30,000 depending on the size of the car.


Autotrivia Quiz

Quiz Car.

Last week I asked which racing driver took a gramophone record of his country’s national anthem to meetings, just in case the organizers didn’t have one?  An easy one this week.  It was the great Tazio Nuvolari.

So to this week.  What is this car?  From a famous manufacturer and still one of the biggest OEMs today.

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected]  Good luck!


Update December 10, 2016

Put your name down for a Cord

That is a “Cord”, not an “Accord!”

Cord 812.

In 1936, Errett Lobban Cord displayed his car of the future, modestly known as a Cord 810. And it was revolutionary. Bodywork by Gordon M. Buehrig, with a big coffin nose and pontoons over the wheels, pop up headlights (actually ‘wind up’ headlamps) and pneumatic gear shift.

To make a replica of such a car would be very expensive and a myriad of red tape, but there has been a dramatic shift in the licensing laws following the passage of the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act, which passed Congress as part of a $305 billion highway funding bill.

Trademark holder has said, “Until now it was cost prohibitive to manufacture these cars profitably, but now that expensive high speed crash testing, for example, is no longer required to manufacture low runs of replicas, this makes tremendous sense.”

The Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act allows manufacturers of replicas of 325 turnkey cars using certified current model year engines without going through the same certification and testing processes other car manufacturers must complete before selling new cars. Previously, replica car builders could only offer complete cars minus drivetrains or cars in kit form.

No specifics on the revival Cord have yet been released. According to the announcement, the trademark holder is currently discussing partnerships with manufacturers and may have a display vehicle ready by late 2017.

To date, two other companies have announced plans to take advantage of the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act with the DeLorean Motor Company intending to offer revival DMC-12s; and the British carmaker AC intends to offer MkIV Cobras powered by a 6.2 liter GM LS V8.

I have driven a genuine Cord 812 and it was an amazing motor car, complete with two winding handles on the dash to elevate the headlights. Despite being a large heavy car, it was very stable and a delight to drive. I’d order a new one just for the Wow factor if nothing else!


What’s next? A Ferrari Pick-up?

Ferrari Lusso T.

Enter the Ferrari Lusso T which is expected to attract well-heeled customers currently considering luxury SUVs like the Bentley Bentayga and the forthcoming Levante from Ferrari’s sister brand Maserati.

The Lusso T takes the same physical form inside and out as the V12, all-wheel-drive GTC4 Lusso, but using instead Ferrari’s latest 3.9 liter twin turbocharged V8 that is also used in the California T and 488 GTB.

Power from the front-mounted V8 is more than adequate for the class at 449 kW at 7500 rpm and 760 Nm of torque between 3000 and 5250 rpm, sending it all through a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle to the rear wheels.

The over half a million dollar Lusso T covers zero to 100 km/h in 3.5 seconds, which is just 0.1 sec slower than the V12 Lusso. It will run out to 320 km/h if you can find that elusive empty piece of road, though the track at Maranello would be safer.

Inside, all the features of the V12 version – including carbon fiber shift paddles, a drive mode dial, or Manettino, steering wheel-mounted indicators and a digital dash – are also in the Lusso T.

Other expensive items include all-wheel steering, adaptive dampers, carbon ceramic brakes, electronic limited slip differential and bespoke 20 inch rims. It is also 50 kg lighter than the GTC4 Lusso with its AWD.

In the infotainment region there is a 10.2 inch touchscreen, four USB ports on the central transmission tunnel, rear view camera and a remote boot release (which just about every car in the world has these days – even my fifteen year old Daihatsu Mira.)

For insurance classification, it is regarded as a four-seater, and even though the rear seat ingress is squeezy, it will seat a pair of adults. It will also take 450 liters of their luggage.

In many ways the Lusso T looks to be a better buy than the GTC4 Lusso, but you still need some very deep pockets if you want to race the Black Roller!


Black days at Rolls-Royce

 

Rolls-Royce Black Badge.

The extent that some manufacturers will go to market ‘exclusivity’ is amazing. Rolls-Royce have announced their “Black Badge” for their Wraith Coupe. Shown at the Rolls-Royce Melbourne dealership in Southbank, the Wraith Black Badge draws its name from the black detailing throughout the car, including black chrome Parthenon grille, splitters, window surround (optional) and spirit of ecstasy bonnet ornament, inverted color Rolls-Royce badge and black, silver and carbon-fiber 21 inch wheels.

The carbon-fiber/steel alloy rims feature 22 layers of carbon-fiber offset with black and silver steel, and come in a pattern that is exclusive to the Black Badge range.

The more aggressive look of the Black Badge could possibly be marketed towards a younger audience, which an R-R representative explained is making up a larger proportion of Rolls-Royce owners.

“We’ve seen our average age of Rolls-Royce owner dramatically falling over the past few years, so it’s not as much aimed at a younger crowd – I think it’s been adopted by a younger crowd,” he said.

“What we’ve seen globally is a migration of money through millennials and dot com millionaires and entrepreneurs coming through and running businesses and establishing themselves much younger than what the working environment (previously) allowed you to do.

“So it is a younger, more aggressive car, but not solely for a younger, more aggressive market.”

(Quite frankly this is high stakes BS. With the cars costing three quarters of a million dollars, do you really think spotty Johnny next door can afford these cars even with their black chrome Parthenon grilles?)

Dubbed Black Badge, the special variants are priced at $745,000 and $695,000 driveaway respectively – a $100,000 premium over regular variants.

As the name suggests, the traditional silver with black-lettering Rolls-Royce badge has been reversed to black with silver, the first time the Rolls-Royce badge has been changed in any way since 1933 when Sir Henry Royce decided to change the silver-with-red badge to avoid color clashes.

Inside the luxurious Wraith interior, wood paneling is replaced with one of two aluminium threaded carbon-fiber weaves, and the new ‘Unlimited’ infinity symbol is found in various places throughout the cabin, to represent the ‘infinite’ possibilities and capabilities of Rolls-Royce. (Who dreams up this rubbish?)

Changes under the bonnet include a torque boost in the Wraith from 800 to 870 Nm, while the eight-speed ZF automatic transmission has been recalibrated to hold gears for 300-500 rpm longer depending on which gear, while downshifting sooner when decelerating to assist with engine braking.

The 6.6 liter, 465 kW V12 will also rev to 6000 rpm when it senses the throttle is depressed at 80 to 100 percent. Gear changes are now faster says R-R, which will be of great value when the new owners take their Black Rollers on a track day.


Formula 1 calendar 2017. Get your pencils out!

26-Mar Australia Melbourne
9-Apr China Shanghai
16-Apr Bahrain Bahrain
30-Apr Russia Sochi
14-May Spain Barcelona
28-May Monaco Monte Carlo
11-Jun Canada Montreal
25-Jun Azerbaijan Baku
9-Jul Austria Spielberg
16-Jul United Kingdom Silverstone
30-Jul Hungary Budapest
27-Aug Belgium         Spa Francorchamps
3-Sep Italy Monza
17-Sep Singapore Singapore
1-Oct Malaysia Sepang
8-Oct Japan Suzuka
22-Oct USA Austin
29-Oct Mexico Mexico City
12-Nov Brazil Sao Paulo*
26-Nov UAE Abu Dhabi

Note, for 2017, Germany has been dropped from the schedule.

With the future of the Canadian event now secured, only the Brazilian round seems in doubt, the race, though almost certain to go ahead.

The most notable change being the race in Baku, Azerbaijan, which has been moved forward a week and will now not clash with the Le Mans 24-hour race. Furthermore, it will no longer form a back-to-back with Canada.

Moving the Baku event means that the Austrian/British back-to-back events have been moved forward a week, the 16 July round at Silverstone now clashing with the men’s final at Wimbledon.

Also affected by the Baku move is Hungary, which will now take place on 30 July.

Malaysia and Singapore will still be back-to-back as in 2016, but the events have now been switched with Singapore forming the first part of the double header as Malaysia looks set not to renew its contract when it ends in 2018.

While the original intention was to host the Mexican and Brazilian rounds back-to-back, the former event has now been moved back a week to pair it with Austin as was the case this year.

Once again, the season will conclude in Abu Dhabi (26 Nov).

So there you are!


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that the name of one of the very successful auto manufacturers relates to a Zoroastrian god. Clue, they began production in 1920, but not automobiles. It was Mazda.

The week before, I also got my own quiz answer wrong! The lightweight body Mk VII was in magnesium panels, not aluminium! Failing memory!

So to this week. Which racing driver took a gramophone record of his country’s national anthem to meetings, just in case the organizers didn’t have one?

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Update December 3, 2016

Mazuzu design secured

Current Mazda BT-50.

Mazda and Isuzu have set guidelines for the next generation of Mazda’s BT-50 pick-up.

After many years of association with Ford at the Auto Alliance manufacturing plant on our Eastern Seaboard, where the current BT-50 is built alongside its sibling, the Ford Ranger, the partnership between Mazda and Ford would end.

Mazda senior managing executive officer research and development Kiyoshi Fujiwara has confirmed that he had signed off on the next-generation BT-50’s basics with Isuzu in early November.

Kiyoshi Fujiwara said, “The issue is that the sales volume of pick-ups in our markets is not huge, so we cannot develop by ourselves,” he told journalists at the Los Angeles motor show. “Therefore we also search for a partner. Fortunately, I reached Isuzu as a partner.”

Initially it was thought that Isuzu would only be developing the engines for the BT-50, but Fujiwara revealed that was not correct. “Earlier this month I visited Isuzu in Hokkaido, I discussed with Isuzu guys how to develop the pick-up truck for the future, and we have already input our requirements. Now properly, Isuzu can develop our next pick-up.”

Fujiwara pointed to the fact that the two companies have long shared technology via Japanese-market commercial vehicles. “We have a long, long relationship with Isuzu through Japanese commercial trucks, so I think the good commercial relationship is already done. It is a good result,” he said.

There were no specific details given of the next-generation truck, which includes the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, as well as the Mitsubishi Triton and the Holden Colorado and Isuzu D-Max.

“We want styling, of course, and good vehicle dynamics,” he said. “BT-50 is also our product and under our brand image. I cannot say which direction we are going, but this product is under our Kodo design and brand image.”

Isuzu’s next-generation D-Max will serve as the donor for the BT-50 range that is expected to offer 4x4 and 4x2 variants in cab-chassis, extra cab and dual-cab styles.

Mazda Motor Corporation managing executive officer and head of design Ikuo Maeda, meanwhile, said that designing the new pick-up will present its own challenges as the brand moves into a new era of more considered design.


What does a racer do in the traditional lay-off period?

 

A “Little guy” on his way to F1.
(Photo by Roland Hurni)

Formula 1 “shuts down” in November and does not publicly reappear until March the following year. Of course the teams continue to work, developing the new cars for the coming season, but that is F1. What happens in the less exalted levels of motor sport? Before going much further, I should explain what I mean by “less exalted levels”. This does not mean that I consider those categories anything “less” than F1. In fact, if it were not for the lower categories, F1 would not exist, something that the F1 industry should never forget. The “little guy” who runs his Honda in amateur races is just as important as all the F1 pilots. Believe me, I’ve been a “little guy” too.

Now here is the secret of sponsorship. A secret because 99 percent of race drivers can’t, don’t or won’t see what has to be done, from the potential sponsor’s point of view. The Golden Rule is that you have to tell potential sponsors what you can do for them – not what they can do for you, or how they can benefit from being involved with you. You have to work out what you can do for them, that they could not otherwise do for themselves. This takes time and thought by you, and is what takes up much of your off-season.

A race car is not, as many think, a high speed billboard. In fact, many times you can’t even read the signwriting as the car speeds past. As a mobile billboard, race cars are not good value for a sponsor.

So where does a sponsor get value? Go back to the concept of “what can you do for them”. Take for example, a body shop (something all race car drivers need). Race cars do attract attention. Brightly painted, they attract young males like bees to the honey pot. For a panel shop, you could propose that you leave the race car there, where it could be positioned outside on the forecourt every Saturday morning, and you will be there in person to answer questions. Not just questions about your race car, but questions about the panel shop. What paints are used? Do they have a jig to pull cars straight again? Is it accepted by insurance companies? You, effectively, become a promotions arm for the business. You are doing something for them.

That same concept works for every type of business that may sponsor you. You become the promotions team for that business. You have to know everything. Prices, delivery times, size of company, how long it has been established – everything. That takes time and study, and that is what takes up your time in the lay-off period. Learning to become a good representative for your sponsoring companies. You are offering potential sponsors a “free” employee – and everyone likes getting something for free!

Of course, your services are not really “free” as you want to receive something in return. That something is goods and services which will keep your race car going for the next 12 months. Panel and paint, batteries and auto electrics, tuning services and tyres are all items that are expensive if you have to pay for them out of your own pocket, but taken in the context of a large company’s budget, is just a drop in the ocean for them. At the level of the “little guy”, you are bartering your services as a promotional arm for them, in return for their goods and services. For corporations, this is much more attractive than handing over amounts of cash. Something to always remember.

Certainly, when you begin winning championships, then you may have a monetary value as well, but “little guys” have to start small and work up. Even the highly (over)paid F1 drivers started by getting goods and services until they became noticed.

Think about it. How much better will you go with a bigger Honda, rather than your Eco car? It is possible, but it does require time and effort, and the best time is in the lay-off period. Happy sponsor hunting!


What did we learn from Abu Dhabi?

Well, we learned that Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) has emulated his father in winning the World Driver’s Championship and his team mate Lewis Hamilton isn’t much of a “mate”.

Abu Dhabi circuit is not the most inspiring, and for the championship to go down to the wire on a circuit that does not promote passing, was an unfortunate roll of the F1 dice. For Rosberg to clinch the championship he had to finish at least third if Hamilton was first, and with the Englishman on pole it was most likely he would sail off into the distance, leaving Rosberg secure in second. However, that was not the scenario as the race wound on.

After the first round of pit stops it became obvious that Hamilton was slowing down, with the result that the pack was catching up with Rosberg and Hamilton, who was dictating the pace.

The Mercedes pit wall could see what Hamilton’s game was – get the Ferrari drivers on to Rosberg’s tail and a bungled pass would seal the title for Hamilton. This produced radio messages as “Lewis, this is Paddy (Lowe, the Mercedes Technical Director), we need you to pick up the pace to win the race.” This fell on deaf ears, resulting in “Lewis, this is Paddy, you need to pick up the pace. This is an instruction.”  “You should let us race,” Lewis said, ignoring the instruction.

Even the other drivers could see what Hamilton’s game was. Vettel (Ferrari) saying, “It was a difficult situation in the end with Lewis playing some dirty tricks.”

Afterwards, Toto Wolff (Mercedes team manager) said, “This was where we decided to intervene, he decided to ignore it. There’s just one thing: does this set a precedent for the future?”

One would like to think that our heroes are true sportsmen, role models for future generations, however, Hamilton has shown he is not one of those!

So despite his “dirty tricks” the good guy came second to win the World Driver’s Championship and put his trophy firmly beside that of his father Keke Rosberg.

The rest of the event was in actual fact, rather processional. It was the final race for both Jenson Button and Felipe Massa, whose F1 careers have come to an end. Button (McLaren) has been overshadowed by his team mate Fernando Alonso, but at least has one WDC in his career, while Massa was world champion for 20 seconds in 2008.

Verstappen (Red Bull) did by dint of clever strategy, come from behind to end up 4th, while his team mate Ricciardo ended up 5th.

Now comes the changing chairs event with Hulkenberg moving to Renault for 2017, for example. For his sake, I hope he knows something about Renault that nobody else does. Renault has been a back marker all 2016!

Results

1 L Hamilton Mercedes

2 N Rosberg Mercedes

3 S Vettel Ferrari

4 M Verstappen Red Bull

5 D Ricciardo Red Bull

6 K Raikkonen Ferrari

7 N Hulkenberg Force India

8 S Perez Force India

9 F Massa Williams

10 F Alonso McLaren

11 R Grosjean Haas

12 E Gutierrez Haas

13 E Ocon Manor

14 P Wehrlein Manor

15 M Ericsson Sauber

16 F Nasr Sauber

17 J Palmer Renault


Chasing the amphibian dream

Amphibious car.

Man has been trying to build an amphibious car for decades. Here is one of the not so successful versions.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that Sir William Lyons used an Mk VII Jaguar as his daily driver. What was different about his Mk VII compared to the run of the mill Mk VII’s? And here was a clue – it was once owned by Rowan Atkinson, Mr. Bean himself. The difference was the fact that this Mk VII was constructed in the factory with an all-aluminium body. Despite their weight and somewhat cumbersome cornering, the normal Mk VII’s were surprisingly successful on the race circuit and this particular Mk VII lightweight did very well. I have owned a couple of Mk VII’s and really enjoyed them as daily drivers.

So to this week. The name of one of the very successful auto manufacturers relates to a Zoroastrian god. Clue, they began production in 1920, but not automobiles.

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:


Go park yourself

Musical chairs

Bottas to Mercedes?

I’m not as think as you drunk I am

And here’s another Tesla rival – or is it?

Autotrivia


Overloading?

Will your car get nicked?

10 Speed transmissions

Looking for a Lotus 49?

Autotrivia


Have you got rental insurance?

Hope the damage isn’t sealious

A Camaro for Dads at Xmas

Tales with Rover

Tales of a Tuk-Tuk

Autotrivia


Would you pay 13 mio for a wreck?

Do you have a ‘classic’ in your garage?

Ford GT – a modern classic

Do you buy new cars on appearance, not engineering?

A true “classic”

Autotrivia


Beware! Giulia might fool yah

Land Speed Record

The Spirit of Ecstasy

Is speedway the answer?

Autotrivia quiz


Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Matic sports sedan moves to the next league

Ford Fiesta previewed in Germany

Put your BeeEmm on lay-by

Matt or gloss – the decision is yours

Autotrivia Quiz


Put your name down for a Cord

What’s next? A Ferrari Pick-up?

Black days at Rolls-Royce

Formula 1 calendar 2017. Get your pencils out!

Autotrivia Quiz


Mazuzu design secured

What does a racer do in the traditional lay-off period?

What did we learn from Abu Dhabi?

Chasing the amphibian dream

Autotrivia Quiz

Advertisement

 



Chiangmai Mail Publishing Co. Ltd.
189/22 Moo 5, T. Sansai Noi, A. Sansai, Chiang Mai 50210
THAILAND
Tel. 053 852 557, Fax. 053 014 195
Editor: 087 184 8508
E-mail: [email protected]
www.chiangmai-mail.com
Administration: [email protected]
Website & Newsletter Advertising: [email protected]

Copyright © 2004 Chiangmai Mail. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.