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
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
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!
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?
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
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
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?
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,
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
“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
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
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.
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
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!
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.
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
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
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 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
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
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.
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
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!
Have you got rental insurance?
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
Hope the damage isn’t
How high is the
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
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
Weight: 3,887 pounds, manual.
Price: USD 63,435.
Power: 650 horsepower, 650 pound foot
Performance: Zero-60: 3.5 seconds
(automatic), 3.7 seconds (manual) manufacturer).
Fuel economy: EPA 14 city/20 highway/16
Tales with Rover
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
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
The 825i proved itself to be a reliable,
semi-luxury carriage; however, I found a problem I never expected. The remote
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
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
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
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!”
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
Would you pay
13 mio for a wreck?
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
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
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 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
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?
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
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.
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”
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.
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!
Beware! Giulia might fool yah
New Alfa Romeo
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
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
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
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
It also gets adaptive
dampers as standard, along with six-piston front and four-piston rear Brembo
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
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 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
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
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?
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
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 bikes themselves are
very simple and the following regulations apply:
Machines used must:
Weigh no less than 77 kg
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
Use shatter resistant
plastics where reasonable
Be fitted with a dirt
Be fuelled by methanol with
Be fitted with an approved
Have a handlebar width
greater than 650 mm and less than 850 mm.
Machines used cannot:
Be constructed in any part
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.
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
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first
correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected]
Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Matic sports sedan moves to the next league
Mercedes AMG E63
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
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
Ford Fiesta previewed in Germany
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
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
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
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
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
(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
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
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.
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!
Put your name down
for a Cord
That is a “Cord”, not an “Accord!”
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
What’s next? A Ferrari Pick-up?
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
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
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
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!
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
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
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
So there you are!
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
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!
Mazuzu design secured
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
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
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
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
“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.”
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
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
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
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!
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
Man has been trying to
build an amphibious car for decades. Here is one of the not so successful
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!