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Update August 2015


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Update August 29, 2015

The Landy’s swansong

Goodbye Landy.

Production of the Land Rover Defender will end in October after almost 70 years of continuous construction, with more than 2 million vehicles produced over the years.
To commemorate the final run, Land Rover has produced limited edition Heritage versions of the Defender 90 and 110, as well as a harder edged Adventure version of both vehicles.
Less than 5000 will be built for markets across the world. The Defender is Land Rover’s military style vehicle, built tough to take drivers into some of the harshest environments in the world.
It was developed from the original Land Rover that went into production in 1948 and while it has continued to evolve over the years, it is a vehicle that remains true to the original concept.
Unfortunately, it can simply no longer meet the mandatory safety requirements imposed on modern vehicles.
The last Defender is available in two and four-door versions of the car, the short wheelbase Defender 90 and long wheelbase Defender 110, with many variations over the years including a dual cab pick-up. The numbers refer to the wheelbase in inches.
Land Rover has had a checkered past, having been owned by several different groups including British Aerospace!
1947: Rover’s chief designer Maurice Wilks and his associates create a prototype using Jeep chassis and components.
1948: The first Land Rover was officially launched 30 April 1948, at the Amsterdam Motor Show.
1958: Series II launched.
1961: Series IIA began production.
1967: Rover becomes part of Leyland Motors Ltd, later British Leyland (BL) as Rover Triumph.
1970: Introduction of the Range Rover.
1971: Series III launched.
1974: Land Rover abandons US market, facing competitive pressure from Japanese 4x4 brands.
1975: BL collapses and is nationalized, publication of the Ryder Report recommends that Land Rover be split from Rover and be treated as a separate company within BL and becomes part of the new commercial vehicle division called the Land Rover Leyland Group.
1976: One millionth Land Rover leaves the production line.
1978: Land Rover Limited formed as a separate subsidiary of British Leyland.
1980: Rover car production ends at Solihull with Solihull now exclusively for Land Rover manufacture.
1983: Land Rover 90 (Ninety)/110 (One-Ten)/127 (renamed Defender in 1990) introduced.
1986: BL plc becomes Rover Group plc.
1987: Range Rover is finally introduced to the US market, following many years of demand being filled by grey market sales.
1988: Rover Group is privatized and becomes part of British Aerospace, and is now known simply as Rover.
1989: Introduction of Discovery.
1994: Rover Group is taken over by BMW. Introduction of second-generation Range Rover.
1997: Land Rover introduces the Special Edition Discovery XD with AA Yellow paint, subdued wheels, SD type roof racks, and a few other off-road upgrades directly from the factory. Produced only for the North American market, the Special Vehicles Division created only 250 of these bright yellow SUV’s.
1997: Introduction of Freelander.
1998: Introduction of second generation of Discovery.
2000: BMW breaks up the Rover Group and sells Land Rover to Ford for 1.8 billion.
2002: Introduction of third-generation Range Rover.
2004: Introduction of third-generation Discovery/LR3.
2005: Introduction of Range Rover Sport.
2005: Adoption of Jaguar AJ-V8 engine to replace the BMW M62 V8 in the Range Rover.
2005: Land Rover “founder’ Rover, collapses under the ownership of MG Rover Group.
2006: Announcement of a new 2.4 liter diesel engine, 6 speed gearbox, dash and forward-facing rear seats for Defender. Introduction of second generation of Freelander (Freelander 2). Ford acquires the Rover trademark from BMW, who previously licensed its use to MG Rover Group.
8 May 2007: 4 millionth Land Rover rolls off the production line, a Discovery 3 (LR3), donated to The Born Free Foundation.
12 June 2007: Announcement from the Ford Motor Company that it plans to sell Land Rover and also Jaguar Cars.
August 2007: Tata Motors and Mahindra and Mahindra as well as financial sponsors Cerberus Capital Management, TPG Capital and Apollo Global Management expressed their interest in purchasing Jaguar Cars and Land Rover from the Ford Motor Company.
26 March 2008: Ford agreed to sell their Jaguar Land Rover operations to Tata Motors.
2 June 2008: Tata Motors finalized their purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford.
2010: Introduction of fourth-generation Discovery/LR4.
2011: The Range Rover Evoque introduced.
2012: Fourth-generation Range Rover was exhibited at the 2012 Paris Motor Show.
2014: The New Discovery Range exhibited at the 2014 New York Motor show.
2015: The end of the original line.


What did we learn from the Spa Grand Prix?

Well we learned by the Saturday that Lewis Hamilton was in a class by himself, and we also learned that the FIA are a bunch of numbskulls.
After Qualifying, with Hamilton almost half a second in front of his second placed team mate Nico Rosberg, it reminded me of the way Schumacher could stamp his authority on a race. Half a second is a long way in F1. From pole he just ran away and hid.
However, the FIA, the keeper of the rules of racing, managed to decree that Alonso and Button in the underperforming McLarens were to be penalized 105 grid places for the Sunday. Legislating a 105 grid spots penalty in a 20 grid field is quite silly. This was for changing engines, but this shows that the rule is also silly. Is this beyond the FIA’s collective intelligence? Words fail me (and that’s a rare occurrence).
It is of interest to look at some other penalties meted out at Spa. Grosjean (“Lotus”) was given a five-place grid penalty for changing a gearbox. Button was given a total of 50 grid place penalties for changing various elements of the power unit. Alonso was given a total of 55 grid place penalties for changing various elements of his power unit. Verstappen (Toro Rosso) was given a 10-place grid penalty for using a sixth power unit. Raikkonen (Ferrari) was given a five-place grid penalty for changing a gearbox. Can some extremely clever person tell me why? You break something and you replace it with a non-broken one. You have already had a penalty, missing some practice running or qualifying. Just what is so heinous about changing broken bits other than a very contrived plan to mix up the racing?
So to the race, which was boring, though some scribes are already talking it up to try and avert the slide in popularity experienced by F1. It was won by Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes with team mate Rosberg behind him. The also-rans came home some 30 seconds or so later, with Grosjean leading the rest or I should say those that were still running.
Hamilton was his usual modest self, saying, “In 2015 my qualifying has been awesome, and after the break I really wanted to get back to it and translate those poles into strong results.”
After Qualifying in third Valtteri Bottas (Williams) took a distant ninth in the race after his team managed to fit three soft Pirelli tyres and one medium one to his FW37 after his pit stop on the eighth lap, earning him a drive through penalty. Why? So the crew stuffed up, but that’s no reason for a penalty.
While still on tyres, Ferrari gambled on Vettel’s tyres going the distance. Three did, but driver side rear didn’t with one lap to go. Initially everyone was sympathetic. Initially, until he started mouthing off, “Things like that are not allowed to happen,” he told the BBC. “I tell you what’s upsetting. What’s upsetting for one thing is the result. We deserved to finish on the podium.” The lower lip was well and truly out.
So Grosjean got the popular vote and then waxed lyrical about being a father, but the racing was devoid of interest. The race may not have actually been as boring as it looked, as the TV coverage was very poor, the director apparently unable to provide continuity but giving the viewer snippets.
All in all, quite disappointing. Let us hope Monza next week will be better.


USD 9-12 million for a Jaguar?

XKC 052.

It would have to be a very special Jaguar to command that kind of money, and Sotheby’s are confident this Lightweight C-Type will bring in that kind of money.
In just six weeks, Jaguar produced the XK120C, later called the C-type, which used modified mechanicals from the XK120 in a tubular steel space frame, covered in a wind-cheating aluminum body styled by Malcolm Sayer. Only three works C-type Lightweights were ever constructed, and one of those cars, chassis XKC 052, is the one to be offered at Sotheby’s Monterey sale.
The Jaguar set numerous benchmarks in the process, including a lap record of 105.232 MPH, a 24 hour speed record of 93.495 MPH; and an event distance record of 2,243.886 miles to win Le Mans in 1951.
For 1953, Jaguar produced a new version of the C-type, fitted with a lightweight aluminum body crafted from thinner panels than the original, a lighter tubular steel space frame, a rubber fuel bladder and a more powerful 3.4 liter engine. A new cylinder head was fitted, a higher-lift camshaft was added, and the original pair of SU H8 carburetors were replaced by three 40 mm Webers. The net result was boost in horsepower from 200 to roughly 220, and with the C-type Lightweight’s use of disc brakes in all four corners, providing better braking.
In 1953 XKC’s were first and second at Le Mans and XKC 052, driven by Peter Whitehead and Ian Stewart (and the car to be offered by Sotheby’s) was fourth. At the end of the 1953 season, XKC 052 was rebuilt to Le Mans specifications and sold to the Ecurie Ecosse. As an Ecurie Ecosse entry (Border Reivers), the C-type Lightweight enjoyed success at the hands of drivers like Jimmy Stewart (older brother of Jackie Stewart), Roy Salvadori and Ninian Sanderson. By the end of 1954, XKC 052 had delivered eight wins, four seconds, four thirds and three fourth-place finishes for Ecurie Ecosse, (and some of those successes I watched as a school boy at the Charterhall circuit).
In 1971 the C-type Lightweight was bought by collector Martin Morris, who kept it for 30 years, and oversaw another restoration in 1986.
In 2000, XKC 052 was sold to an American collector, who returned it to its 1953 Le Mans mechanical specifications and in Ecurie Ecosse livery. Great care was taken to replicate the original body as closely as possible. Since the work was completed, the C-type Lightweight has been exhibited at venues like the Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance.
Definitely a car with an amazing history – but USD 9 million? I’m not so sure! And it is a bit like grandfather’s axe.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what notable feature did the original Fiat 500 have in common with the 1961 Lincoln Continental? An easy one this week. They both had ‘suicide’ doors (hung from the B pillar, not the A pillar).
So to this week. A Dutch rally was won three times by whom in 1949, 50 and 52?
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]


Update August 22, 2015

Spa this weekend

Spa GP

After the mid-year break, the F1 circus starts again, with this weekend’s race at Spa in Belgium. F1 returns to one of the best tracks on the calendar – Spa Francorchamps, a circuit that everyone enjoys (are you listening, Bernie).
Now we get a real race circuit, with Eau Rouge being the corner for those with big hearts (and large cojones). Remember Webber’s pass on Alonso around the outside of Eau Rouge a few years ago! Will Mercedes be dominant again? Will Hamilton keep his hot blood in check? Will Rosberg smooth his way to the top, as there are plenty of chances for rain. Is this the circuit for Daniel Ricciardo? Has Honda found 50 horses? Has Renault found 150 horses? We will know by Sunday night.
The race will start at 7 p.m. our time and we watch from Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR, next to Nova Park. The big screen is great and we choose between the dedicated F1 channel with its good commentary with no breaks and no ads against Fox HD which has the sharper picture. Come at 6 p.m. for a meal (the Sunday specials are great value) and a drink and discussion and let’s hope for some real racing again.


Sometimes Thailand isn’t the best place (sigh)

I have been very lucky to receive several issues of “The Automobile” magazine from an enthusiast here. The publisher is Douglas Blain, a man who owns a Pegaso Z102. He is a true enthusiast.
And it is apparent that there are many true enthusiasts in the UK. The magazine has adverts offering classics, true classics, and my 20 year old Daihatsu Mira doesn’t quite make the cut.
A one page advert from the Tom Hardman company has:
1926 Austin 7 Burghley
1926 Humber 12/25
1927 Alvis 12/50
1929 Lancia Lambda
1932 Wolseley Hornet
1933 Alvis Firefly
1934 Lagonda Rapier Le Mans
1935 Riley Imp
1935 Riley Falcon
1935 MG Bellevue Monoposto
These ranged in price between GBP 21,000 to GBP 78,000, and there are pages and pages of advertisers, all with cars around 80 years of age. Will a Toyota Fortuna ever become a collectors item? I think not, even if you put one in a hermetically sealed chamber to be opened in 2095 and leave it to your grandchildren in your will. It would never be advertised like the 1934 Lagonda as being “perfect for European tours with its ample luggage space. A very usable Lagonda Rapier with an extremely attractive price.” And the extremely attractive price? Try GBP 57,000. That’s around three million Thai baht.
We will never see anything like that in Thailand. The most “exotic” car for sale in the Pattaya Mail recently has been a 2002 BMW 525i with the owner wanting 440,000 baht.
No, sometimes Thailand is not the best place to be. Especially if you are an enthusiast.


It’s been a great month for nostalgia!

Super Bee in 1971.

After making contact with a chap in Australia who is rebuilding the Mk1 Ford Escort I built in 1980, the MG owners would be interested in the MGB I built in 1969. This racing MGB became known as “Super Bee”.
Super Bee was/is the most famous MGB to race in Australia, and with all true modesty, hand on heart, I designed, built and raced this car too. I had been in the UK for three years and met up with the chaps in the MG Special Tuning section in Abingdon. They made competition parts for MGs, and I told them of my plans to race an MGB when I returned to Australia. The end result was a list of part numbers of essential go-faster bits. No, they were not donated by the MG Car company to an aspiring young driver. It just doesn’t work that way! In the beginning, you have to prove yourself, and it always costs money. Like getting married, or divorced!
Back in Australia, I began work on producing a full race MGB, and the end result of a very rough Bee was entered in the first meeting of 1969. Nothing fell off, and it was already quicker than all other MGB’s. We were up and running.
This was when British Leyland (BL) entered the scene, and my life and the MGB became intertwined.
BL contracted me to drive for them as part of the British Leyland Works Team in Australia, but the MGB had to look more like a production car, and not a backyard ‘bitza’. The factory took it away for six weeks, in which time it was repainted in BL blue and white, panels were straightened, bonnet and door hinges replaced, boot hinges and locks added – a total make-over.
In its new colors (and more mechanical changes), Super Bee set the tracks alight, and by the 1971 season British Leyland was advertising the car as “The Fastest MGB in the World”. Always difficult to prove, but it probably was, being quicker than the lightweight Italian Auto Delta Alfa Romeos for example.
I have written about this car before, but at the end of 1971, the Australian FIA body (the Confederation of Australian Motor Sports – CAMS) outlawed the car from the class and I stuck the “Fastest MGB in the World” in the shed in disgust and went motorcycle racing instead, selling the car and never expecting to see it again.
However, Super Bee still exists and was restored by an Ian Rogers in Australia after it had sat in a shed for 30 years.
Great race cars never die!


Rosso Corsa no longer Ferrari number 1

A blue Ferrari.

Ferrari racing cars have traditionally been painted bright red in a shade known as Rosso Corsa, often referred to as “Ferrari Red”.
However, the trend now is for silver and grey, with bright custom colors and a growing number of matt choices, even at Ferrari.
Ferrari has revealed the first pictures of its new hero car, the 488 Spider - presented in a light silvery blue instead of Rosso Corsa. (There currently is confusion as to whether this new model is a “spider or a “spyder”.)
According to the Ferrari agent Herbert Appleroth in Australia, “We have seen a big shift to white and black, and there is also a large trend to specific matt colours. Red is still strong but not like it was. Rosso Corsa is now about 35 percent of our cars. Traditionally the V8 sports cars have been very strong in red. The California was the first model that changed a lot, with metallics. Grey, or different tones of silver, are more popular in the V12 cars, the F12 and FF. People are going more conservative with the GT models and being a bit more brave, and going away from red, in the sports cars. We’re now seeing 65 percent of our cars in grey or silver.”
The new Ferrari has the 4.9 liter V8 and the factory claims a zero to 100 km/h time of 3.0 seconds. While the acceleration figures may be fast, delivery of the new Ferrari is currently out to 18 months.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what cars is this? It could do 200 mph and had an eight cylinder in-line engine of 5,660 cc which developed 646 BHP at 5,800 RPM, independent double wishbone front suspension with 19 x 4.5 tyres on the front and 22 x 7 rears. That’s more than enough to be getting along with. It was the 1937 Mercedes-Benz W 125. Imagine driving one of those in the wet with something akin to bicycle tyres!
So to this week. What notable feature did the original Fiat 500 have in common with the 1961 Lincoln Continental?
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]


Update August 15, 2015

Bad cars that I should have forgotten

Austin 12.

A friend of mine sent me an item about the 10 best cars in the past 50 years, and obviously there would be many different ideas from the enthusiasts. Unfortunately, for many people, they are only guessing, because just how many of the readers have actually driven a Porsche GT3, or even a Porsche Targa?
My friend, of course, was having a gentle, but not so subtle, dig at me for being a motorist for too many years. I have to admit that I started driving in the 1950s, and I also have to admit that it was my father’s car, and he didn’t know about the mischief I would get up to when my parents were away for the weekend. The car? A 1939 Austin 12, made at the beginning of the war. Remember that war? That was the one the Germans lost, so they could come back later and take over Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Mini. What was left, like MG and Rover ended up in China.
But back to Dad’s Austin 12. It was a large four door family saloon produced by the Austin Motor Company and was launched in August 1939 and produced until replaced in 1947 by the similar sized but larger engined Austin A70 Hampshire. With beam axles front and rear and mechanical brakes, it was more comfortable at rest than when in motion. It would not pass any of today’s design rules. Definitely one of the worst cars I have ever driven.
My first ‘real car’ which was mine and mine only, was a 1949 Austin A40 and was 10 years old when I took ownership. It was not a good buy, blowing up after two weeks. These days I would be more careful in pre-ownership checks; however, it was repaired and did serve me for the next 10,000 miles without too many hiccups. But it was painfully slow.
The A40 was actually considered a power machine in its day. A 1.2 liter straight-4 OHV engine produced 40 bhp (30 kW) at 4200 rpm. It also had front coil sprung independent suspension but retained a rigid axle and semi elliptic leaf springs at the rear. The Girling brakes with 9 in (229 mm) drums were operated hydraulically at the front and mechanically at the rear.
An A40 tested by The Motor magazine in 1948 had a top speed of 70 mph (110 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 37.2 seconds. Read that again – 37.2 seconds! To record those sorts of times, I think they probably had to use a calendar! Another in the ‘worst car’ category? Well, certainly in the slowest car category.
The next in my list of personal dreadful cars came from Italy, the home of GT motoring, Ferrari, Maserati and later Lamborghini. Mine was not a GT car, but a Fiat 1100 D I purchased for five British pounds and it was a well-worn example. So worn that it used more oil than gasoline. I used to collect oil from my local garage that had been drained from better cars coming in for a grease and oil change. Remember those days? In its heyday (the first week after coming out of the factory) the Fiat 1100 D boasted performance figures of: top speed 120 km/h (75 mph) (factory); acceleration 0-60 mph 27.2 seconds; 0- 100 km/h 30.2 seconds and 0-1/4 mile 23.2 seconds. My rather more knackered version would go nowhere near those figures. Another very bad car. Incidentally, I never sold it. I parked it on Tilbury docks in London, threw the keys in the water and hopped on to the MV Adelaide Star where I was to be the ship’s surgeon for the voyage to Australia. It may even still be there? However, being left in light-fingered London, I doubt it.


Disqualified for a safety pin!

Extinguisher safety pin.

Racing cars are subjected to scrutineering. This covers two main areas. The first is Complying with the rules for the category the car is entered in and the second is Safety.
The first is reasonably evident. Does the car have the correct engine for the class, correct wheels/tyres and suchlike? The scrutineers can also ask to see internal engine parts, but really need a good reason for this. Sudden superiority in performance is one good reason.
Safety is, in my mind, the more important of the two. This covers the driver’s suit and helmet, shoes, gloves, etc., and also the roll cage in the car, brake system, fuel system, battery and fire extinguisher.
Now when the car is sitting in the workshop, it is most usual to isolate the fire extinguisher by inserting a safety “pin” in the trigger so that the extinguisher cannot be operated. However, before going out on the track, the pin is removed so that the extinguisher can be used. At the Bira circuit for the Nitto 3K race series, the track marshal looks into each car, as they get ready to go out, to make sure the extinguisher is primed, ready.
That’s Nitto 3K, but at the Buriram circuit for the Thailand Super Series, they did not carry out a visual examination as the cars went out to race, but carried out an inspection as the cars came in from the race. Not quite closing the door after the horse has bolted, but fairly close!
This post race inspection found two drivers who had neglected to remove the pin and they were sent to see the race stewards for them to mete out the penalty for such transgressions (which do not improve performance in any way).
The penalty given was Disqualification and sent to the rear of the grid for the next race. Quite absurd. A warning would have been sufficient. They would not have been so remiss next time!
Now, I know it is a safety issue, but speaking as a driver who has been in a fire you do not think of using your on-board extinguisher, all you think about is getting out as soon as possible. You do not think about putting the fire out from the driver’s seat.
Disqualification is a totally inappropriate penalty for leaving the safety pin in the trigger. To remove the trigger pin in a fire would have taken the drivers two seconds at most.
It has been said that with the pin removed the fire extinguisher can be started from outside the car, if the driver is incapacitated, provided the pin is out. With all the safety gear and construction of the car, it is almost unconceivable that the driver would be incapacitated to that extent.
I say again, the penalty of disqualification was far too harsh. Stewarding is a difficult task, but coming down hot and heavy does nobody any good. Rant over!


Where do you take your Koenigsegg Agera for service?

Awesome Corvette.

One Pattaya owner of a supercar found that there was no dedicated service center for his supercar. So what did he do? He built a center and stocked it and staffed it with the very best available.
Known as the Europa Auto Service, it has just opened and advertises itself as being specialized in European cars and supercars. The facility is comprehensive covering servicing, mechanical repairs, bodywork repairs, electronic diagnostics, ECU remapping and more.
Languages being covered include English, Thai, German, Russian, French, Slovak and Swiss German.
The location is just a little tricky to find, but coming from the Sattahip (Bira) end of Highway 36 take the slip road signposted “Pattaya” and it is right there on the left. If you have a fancy GPS (and what supercar doesn’t have one) the coordinates are 12.960369, 100.983156; telephone 038 227 030. The day I dropped by they had a brilliant yellow Corvette in for service, and I have to say that the new Corvettes are an awesome piece of engineering.


VW passes Toyota

Volkswagen has become the world’s top-selling automotive company at the halfway mark of this year.
VW has achieved this milestone counting the sales in the VW group which includes Volkswagen itself, Audi, Porsche, Skoda, and Seat with over five million vehicles delivered to customers from January to June, while Toyota – which also includes Lexus, Daihatsu and Hino – has also posted a result of five million vehicle sales over the same period.
Volkswagen AG global sales chief Christian Klingler described the group’s result as “satisfactory” given the difficult market conditions experienced in the first half, with a recovery in Europe only partly offsetting “tense” developments in South America, Russia and, particularly, China, “where growth on the overall market has been shrinking steadily since the beginning of this year and became negative in June for the first time in several years”.
Volkswagen Group chairman of the board of management Martin Winterkorn said deliveries to customers in the second half should remain on a level with the previous year, despite a “persistently challenging market environment”.
“We are keeping a very close watch on global macroeconomic trends, especially where there are uncertainties such as in the Chinese, Brazilian and Russian markets,” Dr Winterkorn said.
The group’s luxury brands, particularly Audi and Porsche, continue to be key factors bolstering Volkswagen’s strong balance sheet, with Audi’s operating profit up 7.4 percent to €2.9 billion and Porsche up 21 percent to €1.7 billion.
However, I can’t see Toyota just lying down and capitulating to the VW onslaught, and expect a big push towards the end of the year. Anyone for a new Fortuner?


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that a maker of aeroplanes decided to go into production of cars after WW II. The body was made of alloy, with thicker panels on the top of the front wings, where mechanics would lean during servicing. The engine was a two liter six cylinder which was appropriated from a German auto manufacturer as part of the war reparations. The body shape was very aerodynamic and in tests done in 1973 (20 years after the car had been discontinued), only four current production cars were found to have marginally better drag coefficients. What was this car? It was the Bristol 401, which even had the BMW double kidney grille.
So to this week. What cars is this? It could do 200 mph and had an eight cylinder in-line engine of 5,660 cc which developed 646 BHP at 5,800 RPM, independent double wishbone front suspension with 19 x 4.5 tyres on the front and 22 x 7 rears. That’s more than enough to be getting along with.
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]


Update August 7, 2015

New circuit for Pattaya?

Sonthaya Kunplome.

As reported in the daily press, Sonthaya Kunplome (elder brother of Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome and previously a member of parliament) has plans to invest 1.2 billion baht to build a world-class motor racing circuit near Pattaya. The circuit should be operational in 2017.
Backing up his projected capital expenditure is the report that the Bang Saen Speed Festival last year drew 400,000 spectators and generated 1.4 billion baht revenue for the city of Bang Saen.
This projected circuit is to be a Category 2 track and will not be directly competing against the F1 level circuit at Buriram.
Looking at the success he has made with the Bang Saen Speed Festival, I am quite sure that he can make a new circuit in Chonburi province a winner.
I just hope that he will include the Retro division in the categories to race there. In Europe and the UK, they are getting bigger crowds to the Retro class than they are to F1 and British Touring cars.


Ferrari’s best looking car yet?

Ferrari 488 GTB Spyder.

Ferrari has always been known for its beautiful cars and this new 488 GTB convertible is being called, by some, as the best looking Ferrari ever. Undoubtedly it is a beautiful motor car with the sweeping curves giving the car a very ‘complete’ look.
Similar to the normal 488 GTB, the new Spider model is an evolved version of the old 458 which was adored by car fans everywhere. Thanks to a new aluminium spaceframe, it is claimed by the factory that the 488 Spyder’s torsional rigidity has been increased by 23 percent over its predecessor.
The rest of the car has the same specifications as the standard 488 GTB. This includes its 3.9 liter turbocharged V8 engine that puts out 493 kW of power and 740 Nm of torque to produce a 0-100 km/h in 3.2 seconds with a top speed of over 320 km/h.
It is the first turbocharged mid-engine sports car from Ferrari in more than a quarter of a century.
If you want one, even though convertibles are not well liked in Thailand, be prepared to put down a hefty deposit as there is already a waiting list!


Is aerodynamics something new?

Tatra T87.

Simple answer is “No”, but then again, so little of modern car design is “new”. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the Lohner-Porsche – a hybrid dating back to 1902 for all those people who think Toyota was first with the Prius.
Similarly, the study of aerodynamics is also not a recent following, as a Benjamin Robins built a simulator in 1746 and showed that the shape of an object had tremendous influence on its ability to go through the air.
He was followed by Sir George Cayley (born 1773) who correctly identified the aerodynamic forces of weight, lift, drag and thrust. He is considered the father of aerodynamics, a physical entity being examined over 200 years ago.
The world’s first wind tunnel was built in 1871 in the UK but it wasn’t until Wilbur and Orville managed to demonstrate that flight was possible that wind tunnels began sprouting up everywhere.
One of the earliest cars to be wind tunnel tested was Edmund Rumpler’s Tropfen-Auto round about 1910. This was also known as the ‘teardrop’ car.
His influence was wide-reaching. And the famous Tatra T87 had the body designed by Paul Jaray, complete with curved windscreen, and that was 1936. The T87 was tested in the wind tunnel in 1979 and produced a Cd of 0.36. This was at a time where most cars had Cd’s over 0.5, including the Chrysler Airflow with a Cd of 0.546, so it really was a misnomer! Though Chrysler Battering Ram would not have been accepted by the management of the day!
What management did do was to experiment adding an undertray and extending the nose and tail, and then adding a curved false windscreen lowered the Cd to 0.238, but it was too little too late as the American buying public stayed away!
If course, these days the extremes of aerodynamic efficiency are not seen in passenger cars, but in the Formula 1 cars with their flaps and winglets as well as amazing wings.

An experiment that was outlawed!


Natter Nosh and Noggin

The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park. The next meeting is on Monday August 10 at Jameson’s at 7 p.m. The Car Club is a totally informal meeting of like-minded souls to discuss their pet motoring (and motorcycling) loves and hates (plus lies and outright exaggerations). Come along and meet the guys who have a common interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s special menu, washed down with a few beers. Always a fun night. Be prepared to laugh a lot at some of the antics of the members (when they were younger)! The Car Club nights are only on the second Monday of the month (not every second Monday)!


Hypermiling - a forgotten sport?

Hypermiler.

A dictionary entry for Hypermiling states that it is the act of driving using techniques that maximize fuel economy. Those who practice these techniques are referred to as “hypermilers.”
Hypermiling is defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary as the attempt to maximize gas mileage by making fuel-conserving adjustments to one’s vehicle and one’s driving techniques. In fact, in 2008, the word Hypermiling was selected as the best new word of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary.
Hypermiling, which can be practiced in any vehicle regardless of its fuel economy, had gained in popularity as a result of the rise in gasoline prices during the 2000s. While common techniques can be carried out by average motorists making minor changes in their driving habits, many Hypermilers use more advanced techniques, some of which are illegal in most if not all jurisdictions.
Hypermiling has come under fire from several quarters due to claims of dangerous or unlawful behavior by some Hypermilers. As a result, the Hypermiling Safety Foundation was formed in August 2008 to promote a safety and public awareness program, advocating legal fuel-saving techniques.
In some places, Hypermiling contests have been held to see who can get the highest mpg on a selected course.
A Maximum Fuel Economy contest was held in Elkhart, Indiana, a few years ago where “world records” for the Honda Insight (213 miles per US gallon (1.10 L/100 km; 256 mpg-imp) round trip), Toyota Prius (136 miles per US gallon (1.73 L/100 km; 163 mpg-imp) round trip) and the Ford Escape Hybrid (76 miles per US gallon (3.1 L/100 km; 91 mpg-imp) mpg round trip) were achieved, albeit having been achieved while rolling through all stop signs and having the vehicle tires inflated well beyond recommended specifications! The record for the most miles achieved out of a single tank of gas, with 2,254 miles (3,627 km) from the 13.7 US gallons (52 l; 11.4 imp gal) tank of a 2006 Honda Insight, represents an average of 164.53 miles per US gallon (1.4296 L/100 km; 197.59 mpg-imp) for the entire distance.
Now all that sounds terribly new and “green” and is the sort of fodder that the global warming people love to seize upon, to show their commitment to saving the planet. I am afraid I am with GM’s Bob Lutz who stated that “Global warming is a crock of sh*t.” And have you noticed they now call it ‘Climate Change’ so they are backing both horses in the race – heating or cooling! And to show my true callous nature, if Bob and I are wrong we’ll both be dead long before Bangkok disappears beneath the rising seas, so it isn’t our problem!


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what is significant in the automotive world about the number 0251? That was to see how many true MG enthusiasts were out there. 0251 was the beginning of the serial numbers of the MG’s and was the telephone number of the factory at Abingdon.
So to this week. A maker of aeroplanes decided to go into production of cars, after WW II. The body was made of alloy, with thicker panels on the top of the front wings, where mechanics would lean during servicing. The engine was a two liter six cylinder which was appropriated from a German auto manufacturer as part of the war reparations. The body shape was very aerodynamic and in tests done in 1973 (20 years after the car had been discontinued), only four current production cars were found to have marginally better drag coefficients. What was this car?
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]


Update August 1, 2015

The ideal car for Pattaya?

Fast Amphibian.

The WaterCar Panther is probably the coolest amphibian and it’s surprisingly fast. Billed as the Fastest Amphibious Car in the World, it is available for order so if you need a new car it might just be the ideal car for you. But it costs about USD 155,000 in the US. Now add on freight and duty and you are probably looking at six million baht (very rough guess). However, at least you can put off buying a boat if you buy one.
The Panther website has a caution: The Panther is currently offered in two states of completion, Turnkey Minus and Complete Custom. Please note the Complete Custom version may be a challenge or impossible to license and register for street use in some states. In these states the Panther must be purchased as a Turnkey Minus and licensed as a specially constructed vehicle if used on the highway. There is pending federal legislation (HR3274) for low production vehicle manufactures that, if passed, will make the registration of Complete Custom models much easier. Check your local registration requirements before you order.
However, it might be the best way to avoid the Sukhumvit Tunnel and the flooding on Beach Road.


“Our” Toyota Fortuner is going to Australia

New Fortuner.

The long awaited for “new” Fortuner is being released in the second half of this year, and although hardly likely to take Thailand by storm, it is a first time for the name plate in Australia.
If anyone in Australia is contemplating a Fortuner, they should make contact with Thailand first. Here, every second SUV is a Fortuner and the owners swear by them, especially the diesel powered ones. I had one which had clocked well over 100,000 kays and other than an alternator and the air-con compressor needing new seals, it was trouble free.
Australia sees it as based on the next-generation HiLux one-tonne pick-up, but with a unique five-door wagon body sitting on a ladder-frame chassis, the Thai-built seven-seater will be positioned as a turbo-diesel, being the 2.8 liter four cylinder turbo-diesel, delivering about 130 kW of power at around 3400 rpm and between 420 Nm and 450 Nm of torque.
Sales and marketing manager Tony Cramb said, “Fortuner provides a diesel alternative to the petrol-only Kluger range as the new entry point for customers looking to purchase a large Toyota diesel SUV,” he told Australian journalists at the SUV’s global unveiling this week, jointly held in Sydney and in Thailand.
One improvement over the current model is the adoption of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
The new Fortuner keeps the coil sprung rear, as opposed to the HiLux leaf springs.
Toyota says extensive local tuning has been carried out on the Fortuner, with some of the results filtering through to models sold in other countries such as South-East Asia and the Middle East.
“Significant local development was also applied to ensure optimum tuning of the stability and active traction control electronics for local conditions, particularly for use on gravel,” the company said in a statement. “Drivers can disable the electronics for specific off-road situations, such as driving in slippery mud or sand.”
The export model gets the three-row seating, 4WD, reversing camera, seven airbags, hill-start assist control, emergency stop signal, front and rear air-conditioning, touchscreen audio/Bluetooth multimedia, four-wheel disc brakes, a cooler compartment, and Toyota Link connectivity.
According to Toyota Australia product public relations manager Stephen Coughlan, the Fortuner has a massive role to play in the company’s vehicle line-up. “This is a big opportunity for Toyota in this country,” he said. “It is going to reinforce our position in the SUV market and meet the specific requirements for those who want both on-road refinement and off-road capabilities.”


Order now for your AMG C 63 S

AMG C 63 S.

Daimler-Benz claim they have over 300 deposits for the new AMG C63 S high-performance sedan and estate, and the coupe version expected to be in the dealerships in Australia by 2016, having its European reveal at the Frankfurt show this year.
Even with your deposit on the table, Aussies can expect a waiting list of six months, which could even be longer.
The most powerful AMG C63 S version develops 375 kW from the 4.0 liter twin turbocharged V8 which is hand-built by just one person at AMG’s Afalterbach headquarters.
Transmission is via a seven-speed Speedshift multi-clutch automatic transmission and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential.
With 700 Nm of torque, the C63 sedan can accelerate to 100 km/h from zero in 4.0 seconds - (faster than the BMW M3 arch rival by a 0.1-seconds - and will go on to a top speed of 250 km/h.
Despite the serious performance, Mercedes says the C63 S can still return 8.6 liters per 100 km when driven more conservatively in the Drive Select C mode. Other settings include Sport+ and Race, but the consumption figures for drivers wearing a race face were not given.
The C63’s exterior is set apart from standard C-Class models with a power-bulge on the bonnet, exaggerated bumpers with bigger air openings at the front and diffuser at the back, side skirts and front mudguards that increase the width 14 mm on each side and house 19 inch alloy wheels.
Its four tailpipes are bi-modal, remaining quiet and restrained under normal cruising conditions but become vocal when the C63 is let off the leash.
Brakes are 360 mm steel discs on the front and 330 mm on the rear, but a ceramic composite set is available as an option. AMG’s ride control sports suspension is standard fare, offering the driver three-stage adjustable damping.
Customers wanting their C63 S with a touch more practicality will opt for the Estate, which offers boot space of 490 liters with the rear 40/20/40 split-fold seats raised, and 1510 liters with the rear bench folded.


What did we learn from the Hungarian Grand Prix?

Well, we learned that the Hungaroring circuit that everyone was complaining about, produced the best GP of 2015. Action all the way down the field, with Maldonado even more of a disaster than usual with pit lane speeding, speeding behind the Safety Car, a drive-through for hitting Sergio Perez and pushing him into a spin in Turn 1 on lap 19 and subsequently being dropped to 14th with a five-second time penalty for speeding behind the Safety Car. The race featured multiple contacts, punctures, wings falling off, Safety Cars, both Mercedes looking very ‘average’ and everything else this side of a naked streaker!
The winner, and deserving it all the way, was Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari. A brilliant start to go straight into the lead, followed by his team mate Kimi Raikkonen, leaving the previously all-conquering Mercedes duo in their wake, with Hamilton getting ragged and falling off the circuit a couple of times.
Raikkonen’s moment of glory was not going to last as his MGUK (Hybrid power unit) stopped powering, ending the Finn’s back-up of Vettel.
Another poor start by Ricciardo (Red Bull) saw him drop behind his team mate Kvyat, but he soon rounded up the Russian and towards the end of the race was lining up to take both Rosberg and Vettel. However, fate intervened in the form of an overtake of Rosberg ending up with a stop for a new wing, allowing Kvyat through to second at the flag, with Ricciardo in third.
Having kept his nose clean, Verstappen (Toro Rosso) found himself fourth, but not quite as surprised as fifth man home Alonso in the McLaren Honda. Amazing! The underpowered car actually finished, and finished in the points! And even more amazing, Button in the other McLaren Honda also finished in the points in eighth.
Hamilton did manage to scrape home in sixth, admitting that he had not had a stellar day, starting from a botched start to end up understeering into Ricciardo.
Another clean noser was Romain Grosjean (“Lotus”) ending up seventh, whilst his errant team mate Maldonado was credited as being 14th, after all penalties were added up. Maldonado is no longer a joke. He is a danger and “Lotus” should hand back what is left of his USD 50 million he paid for his seat and put a real driver on the payroll.
FIndia had a disaster of a race with Hulkenberg’s front wing shaking itself off and launching the car into the barrier. His team mate, Perez summarized his race as, “The contact with Pastor compromised my race. I was as cautious around him as I could be and left him plenty of room but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.” However, many of the drivers could have said the same thing. Let us not beat about the bush, Maldonado is nothing but a mobile chicane with lots of money padding his race seat. It is pay-drivers like him which are dragging the whole of F1 down. The best drivers in the world? Not likely!
The next GP is at Spa on August 23. Let us hope it gives us as much excitement as the “boring” Hungaroring!


Turning your Tesla into a super-duper car!

Tesla have announced an upgrade to their Model S which they have called the “Ludicrous” mode.
I would have to agree looking at the touted performance figures of zero to 100 kph in 2.8 seconds. This puts it in with the LaFerrari (2.9s), and matches the McLaren P1, Porsche 918 Spyder and Koenigsegg Agera, but it is still beaten by the 2.5 sec time of the Bugatti Veyron. However, the Veyron is much more expensive.
The amazing Mr Musk said technological advances were made to ensure a 10 percent improvement to performance.
“Instead of a standard fuse that just melts past a certain amperage, requiring a big gap between the normal operating current and max current, we developed a fuse with its own electronics and a tiny lithium-ion battery,” he said. “It constantly monitors current at the millisecond level and is pyro-actuated to cut power with extreme precision and certainty.
“That was combined with upgrading the main pack contactor to use inconel (a high temperature space-grade super-alloy) instead of steel, so that it remains springy under the heat of heavy current. The net result is that we can safely increase the max pack output from 1300 to 1500 Amps.”
So now you know. Obviously if you are having problems with your Tesla, you take it to the Tuk-Com electronic counters, and not your average auto workshop!


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what car was this? It was capable of running on petrol, as well as battery, of carrying four passengers, and employing four-wheel drive. The system is still being used today. Clue: Think pre WW1. The car was the forerunner of today’s hybrid vehicles and was built in about 1902 by Dr. Porsche and it was called the Lohner-Porsche. So nothing’s new under the sun.
And so to this week. What is significant in the automotive world about the number 0251?
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Landy’s swansong

What did we learn from the Spa Grand Prix?

USD 9-12 million for a Jaguar?

Autotrivia Quiz


Spa this weekend

Sometimes Thailand isn’t the best place (sigh)

It’s been a great month for nostalgia!

Rosso Corsa no longer Ferrari number 1

Autotrivia Quiz


Bad cars that I should have forgotten

Disqualified for a safety pin!

Where do you take your Koenigsegg Agera for service?

VW passes Toyota

Autotrivia Quiz


New circuit for Pattaya?

Ferrari’s best looking car yet?

Is aerodynamics something new?

Natter Nosh and Noggin

Hypermiling - a forgotten sport?

Autotrivia Quiz


The ideal car for Pattaya?

“Our” Toyota Fortuner is going to Australia

Order now for your AMG C 63 S

What did we learn from the Hungarian Grand Prix?

Turning your Tesla into a super-duper car!

Autotrivia Quiz

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