Automania - Update February 21, 2015
Hacking - here and there
There was a bit on the radio news the other day, where some bright spark in
Pattaya was able to open locked car doors. He was making a killing at a crowded
shopping center, waiting for the owner to go shopping and then opening the
locked vehicle and making off with anything of value inside. When apprehended by
the police, he had 12 laptops in his car, numerous phones and other items. And -
his scanner which had the ability to unlock doors as a remote.
However, our not-so-successful felon had not developed something new. The
sophisticated electronic systems has Congress and federal regulators are worried
about the potential for hackers to interfere with vehicle functions.
The report in the US says vehicles are vulnerable to hacking through wireless
networks, smartphones, infotainment systems like OnStar - even a malicious CD
popped into a car stereo.
Studies showing hackers can get into the controls of some popular vehicles,
causing them to suddenly accelerate, turn, kill the brakes, activate the horn,
control the headlights, and modify the speedometer and gas gauge readings.
Additional concerns came from the rise of navigation and other features that
record and send location or driving history information.
The US report says that even as we are more connected than ever in our cars and
trucks, our technology systems and data security remain largely unprotected.
Some security measures used by automakers - ID numbers and radio frequencies -
can be identified and rewritten or bypassed.
The issue could be even more important as future vehicles communicate with one
another through “vehicle to vehicle” (V2V) technology to prevent crashes, but
could also be at risk of hacking.
Auto engineers incorporate security solutions into vehicles from the very first
stages of design and production - and security testing never stops. The industry
is in the early stages of establishing a voluntary automobile industry sector
information sharing and analysis center - or other comparable program - for
collecting and sharing information about existing or potential cyber-related
Automakers noted that the Society of Automotive Engineers has created a Vehicle
Electrical System Security Committee to draft standards that help ensure
electronic control system safety.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spokesman Gordon Trowbridge said
the agency is “engaged in an intensive effort to determine potential security
vulnerabilities related to new technologies and will work to ensure that
manufacturers cooperate and address issues in order to keep motorists safe.”
A 2013 federal law requires NHTSA to report to Congress on this issue. NHTSA
ended its public comment period on its research efforts in December as it works
to complete its report.
Another study funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency found
researchers could tap into vehicles' electronic systems through a laptop
computer connected by a cable. In initial tests on two 2010 vehicles from
different automakers, they were able to do everything from causing the cars to
accelerate and turn, to disable brakes and blow the horn.
German motorist association ADAC said in January it had discovered a security
flaw that could have allowed 2.2 million BMWs, Minis and Rolls-Royces to be
remotely unlocked by hackers through BMW's “Connected Drive.” The automaker now
encrypts transmissions between cellphones and cars.
The difference between a restoration and a recreation
Replica Bugatti T 51
A restoration starts with an original car and rebuilds it to ‘as new’ or even
better, but a recreation starts with nothing and builds what is really a copy of
an original car. One of the favorites for this is the Bugatti Type 35.
Here are some details of the Pur Sang ‘Bugatti Type 35. Leonidas Jorge Anadón
operates a tiny company known as Pur Sang (Pure Blood, the Bugatti nickname)
situated in Villa Lola, a cottage complex in Entre Rios. Argentina has long been
regarded as a font of great enthusiasm for the golden era of motor racing, as
well as an impressive resource of artisanship. Pur Sang has been building
high-quality, impressively faithful Bugatti T35 replicas for nearly 20 years.
The company is also a leading fabricator of replacement parts for owners of
original Bugattis, even replicating many proprietary tools.
Pur Sang's Type 35 recreation is visually and dimensionally identical to the
original cars, handcrafted and precision-built with over 3000 components
manufactured from scratch. Fabrication usually takes up to six months.
But if you’d rather have a Ferrari, follow this link for a Ferrari GTO.
Liechtenstein reveals a 300 km/h electric supercar with an 800 km range
Electric car maker nanoFlowcell will unveil a pioneering electric car concept.
Following on from the Quant e-Sportlimousine concept from last year’s Geneva
motor show, nanoFlowcell's new Quant F is just as wild but offers more power, a
greater range and a new two-speed transmission.
Producing an incredible 800 kW the new Quant F has 120 kW more than the
e-Sportlimousine it’s based on but can also travel 800 km between charges -
200km more than last year’s concept.
Apart from its top speed, nanoFlowcell hasn’t released performance figures for
the Quant F yet although it claimed last year’s concept could sprint from zero
to 100 km/h in just 2.8 seconds - so it's a safe bet the more powerful Quant F
will be faster still.
In normal conditions the Quant F runs in all-wheel drive but the front axle can
be decoupled for greater range.
Engineers have also made the electric car lighter with a bodyshell now made
entirely of carbon fiber. The new Quant F gains new two-stage aerodynamics to
cope with the greater performance and higher top speed.
Under the skin the same salt water "nano flow cell" technology carries over but
it’s now thirty per cent more efficient offering an energy density at least five
times greater than a conventional battery cell.
The salt water is, of course, really an electrolytic fluid made up of metallic
salts rather than plain seawater but, according to the developers, the added
range it brings could provide the much-needed breakthrough for electric vehicles
and make the range anxiety a thing of the past.
Pricing is expected to be announced on its launch at the show but it won’t be
cheap. A production version of the last year’s e-Limousine concept was reported
to cost a cool $1.7 m.
Germany to lose its F1 GP?
With the future of the German GP as yet undecided, Nico Rosberg has admitted he
fears for the future of his home grand prix.
Sharing the grand prix between Germany's two circuits, the Nurburgring was
scheduled to host this year's event.
However, due to financial issues and a change of ownership at the circuit, there
is no deal in place.
As such, there was talk of the German GP returning to Hockenheim this season but
again a contract has yet to be secured.
And without one in place, Rosberg fears Formula 1 may not be visiting his home
country this season.
“For as long as I can think there was a German GP and it was legendary, like the
British GP - such a fundamental part of the F1 season,” the Mercedes driver told
Autosport. “So it makes me feel very disappointed that it has not been fixed yet
into the calendar.”
He added, “There are so many motor racing fans in Germany, and Germany also has
such a large representation in the sport with me, Sebastian and the other
Germans and Mercedes. A big part of F1 is German, so I hope it works out.”
Bernie, the patron saint of Bean Counters is also saying that he hopes Germany
will still be on this year, indicating that all the circuit has to do is scrape
the money together. No word on Bernie lowering the hosting fee, however!
If Germany goes under, never mind, Qatar is ready
Qatar is set to become the latest country to host a Formula 1 race with the
country's motorsport chief saying they are about to sign a deal.
The Gulf state already has a prominent presence in motorsport as the Losail
International Circuit has hosted MotoGP races for several years now while the
World Superbike Championship returned to the track last year.
F1 appears to be next up with FIA vice-president Nasser bin Khalifa al-Attiyah,
who is also the president of the country's motorsport federation, saying they
are set to make their debut within the next two years.
“We are about to sign contracts to organize a Formula One race,” he told Agence
France-Presse. “We have completed all the steps and there are only a few details
before the official signature.”
The Losail International Circuit is not the only venue in the running to host
the grand prix as Al-Attiyah added that a specially-designed street course
through the capital Doha is also being considered.
The news of a Qatar Grand Prix will come as a surprise to many as only a few
months ago F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone admitted their chances are not looking good
as the country needed the approval of the Bahrain and Abu Dhabi promoters, who
were not very keen back then.
Obviously very deserving of a GP, after all, look at the long history of Qatar
in motor sport (I have a copy here, written on the back of a postage stamp).
Looking at Thailand’s position with the new circuit at Buriram - having raced
there last year, the circuit is ready. All that is needed now is for Bernie to
state the price, and for Thailand to cough up. That simple, really, but with the
tight financial situation, that is not so easy!
Last week I asked what car claimed 100 mph in its name, but could only do 95?
This was really too easy. It was the SS 100 (which later became Jaguar).
So to this week. What car was going to be called “Goat Poo” in Italian? (They
did change the name before mass production!)
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Automania - Update February 12, 2015
Vicar in insurance row over Jesus stickers
Vauhall by Jesus!
An unbelievable item crossed my desk from Wales in the UK. A vicar found herself
in hot water with her car insurer, after placing stickers with religious
messages on her car.
Rev Wena Parry paid £120 to have her Vauxhall Zafira people carrier decorated
with “Christ must be Saviour” and “Christ for me” slogans.
“Every opportunity I have I want to tell people about Jesus. I reckon there must
be at least a million people who have read the texts on my car,” she told BBC
However, after she made a claim following thieves stealing parts of the engine,
her insurance company, Age UK, demanded to know why the stickers - deemed to be
modifications - had not been declared.
Drivers are obliged to inform their insurer when altering their car from
standard, though this normally applies to mechanical and electrical alterations
such as alarm systems, wide wheels and performance enhancements.
Increasingly, however, car owners are finding their policies invalidated for
trivial reasons - most commonly for leaving their cars unlocked and unattended,
for example when defrosting windscreens.
The religious wars in the Middle East looked like paling into insignificance
when Rev Parry accused Age UK of religious discrimination. “There might be
somebody within that company that hates Christianity,” she said.
The insurance company compounded the issue by saying, “The situation regarding
Rev Parry’s claim was in no way related to the Christian nature of her graphics.
Our insurer concluded that our request to declare all modifications was not made
clear enough to Rev Parry and therefore she did not know which vehicle
enhancements should have been declared.”
What utter poppycock! The company has now upheld Rev Parry’s claim, settling at
£735. It also waived the policy excess and outstanding balance as a gesture of
Age UK's spokeswoman added, “While all car owners have the right to
self-expression and place whatever they wish on their cars, we would urge all
drivers to make their insurance providers aware of any graphics applied to their
I wonder what they would do about the bumper sticker very prevalent in beef
growing areas of Australia which read, “You’re in cattle country. Eat beef ya
However, a friend of mine in the insurance business said that if you advertise
your business on your daily driver, it comes under a different schedule from
purely domestic transport! Sounds like the Rev. Parry has got off lightly!
Now THIS should make the insurance company cringe!
A group of seniors were sitting around talking about all their ailments at Costa
“My arms have gotten so weak I can hardly lift this cup of coffee,” said one.
“Yes, I know," said another. “My cataracts are so bad; I can't even see my
“I couldn't even mark an "X" at election time because my hands are so crippled,”
volunteered a third.
“What? Speak up! What? I can't hear you,” said one elderly lady!
“I can’t turn my head because of the arthritis in my neck,” said one, to which
several nodded weakly in agreement.
“My blood pressure pills make me so dizzy!” exclaimed another.
“I forget where I am, and where I’m going,” said another.
“I guess that's the price we pay for getting old,” winced an old man as he
slowly shook his head.
The others nodded in agreement.
“Well, count your Blessings,” said a woman cheerfully...
“Thank God we can all still drive.”
Cars are still developing
We have become used to the way the exterior of cars has changed. Even headlights
are now any shape, dictated by the whims of the stylist. But those stylists are
now moving into the interiors of our cars, and not necessarily for the best, I
Controls: BMW came out with their unloved iDrive which controlled
everything, but was not user friendly, but the futurologists are suggesting that
instead of twiddling the iDrive ball control, touching a button or dial could be
history. Hyundai's HCD-14 Genesis Concept from the 2013 Detroit motor show
replaced traditional controls with a camera-base eye and motion recognition
system, with turning up the volume being as simple as waving your hand.
Space: Form follows function was the catch-cry for many years now, and
the interior space has been dictated by the requirements of placing an internal
combustion engine, gearbox, driveshafts, etc. Electric cars like the Tesla Model
S and BMW i3 do not have those constraints, and cars are heading to replace the
traditional upright front engine. With placement of batteries under the floor,
and electric in-wheel engines, this frees up more space in the cabin.
Instruments: The days of a speedometer and a fuel gauge on your dash are
finished. Audi has a fully digital dashboard in its new TT sports car and Q7
Connectivity: Unfortunately, the smart phone is now dominating the in-car
format. Both Apple and Google are working with car makers to merge their mobile
operating systems into the cockpit of cars. Volkswagen gave a glimpse of the
future with the Golf R Touch concept at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show. The
Golf R Touch featured not one but three large touchscreens on the dash and
center console to control all key functions via a series of apps bridging the
car and your smartphone.
Autonomous driving: If you think self-driving cars will never catch on,
think again. We have autonomous cars already. All that is to be worked out is
the legal liability when your driverless car runs into your manually driven car
(and vice-versa). Mercedes-Benz examined what that future could look like with
the F015 Luxury in Motion concept that featured a large cabin complete with four
rotating seats that turns the car into a lounge room on wheels.
Technology: The Human Machine Interface, otherwise known as the way we,
the driver, interact with the car controls has evolved significantly over the
past decade. BMW started the revolution with its iDrive system and its rivals
have followed suit. Audi offers its MMI Touch which can understand inputs
written with your finger. Volvo's new XC90 continues the evolution with its
in-dash tablet set-up.
But is it a step forward? Or are all these developments just intermediate steps
towards removing the driver from control of the machine?
How I got the World Champion F1 engineer on my team - Free!
We are all used to the highly drilled F1 teams we see on TV these days. In comes
the F1 racecar, leaving three point something seconds later after changing four
With F1 drivers commanding incredibly high salaries (30 million USD is
commonplace), the top F1 engineers are also very well paid to put together
championship winning race cars.
With an F1 Grand Prix there are supporting races as a build up to the main
event, and in the Australian GP of 1980, which was held at Calder Raceway
(outside Melbourne) in Victoria, there was a race for Australian Sports Sedans.
At that stage I was running a home-built space-framed Ford Escort Mk 1 Sports
Sedan. While most of the cars in that group cost in the vicinity of $75,000, my
little car cost $7,500. The front of the body shell came from an Escort bread
van and the rear from a sedan, which were neatly cut and shut. The space-frame
was of my design, as was the rear wing. The engine we put in for the race was a
Mazda rotary replacing the unreliable Lotus Twin Cam and the gearbox was Datsun
240Z. It really was a home-built racer.
When I first decided I would like to run in the AGP meeting, I rang the
organizers and asked for an entry form. I was then told “Don’t bother coming
down. There’s only 30 spots on the grid and we’ve got 45 V8 sports sedans
entered already.” Nothing daunted, I decided we would go anyway.
So after two days of towing we arrived at Calder Raceway, a circuit owned by one
of Australia’s racing legends, Bob Jane. We set up our tent in the grassy area
for supporting racecars and prepared for Qualifying.
The little Mk 1 Escort might have been home and hand-made, but the little car
surprised many of the V8 engined cars by qualifying in 12th place on the Friday,
well within the 30 car cut-off. We were very hopeful of a good placing in the
first race on the Saturday. There was only one problem, it was starting to
Back in our grassy pit we really did not know what to do next. Two days from
home, with an engine which had just been installed, and an engine we did not
understand. However, the engine builder in Sydney said to pull the engine out
and he would tell us what to check.
However, when on a grassy field, with no hoists or block and tackles what can
you do? It was then the owner of Calder Raceway, Bob Jane, walked up and asked
us what was wrong. When he heard of our plight he immediately offered us the use
of his pit and equipment.
We pushed the little Escort down pit lane to Bob Jane’s pit. Right next door to
the F1 Williams team! The team with Alan Jones the then World Champion. If
little Escort could have puffed out its chest with pride, it would have.
Of course the Williams team engineers strolled next door to see what this
homemade race car was doing in the Formula 1 pits. We explained the generosity
of Bob Jane, and how we had come so far to race and the engine would not run
“What is the temperature of the water going in to and coming out of the
radiator?” asked Alan Jones’ engineer Wayne Eckersley. We looked sheepish and
informed him that we didn’t know.
He popped next door to the Williams pit and came back with little booklets of
colored stickers. These were heat sensitive covering specific ranges. These days
there is telemetry in F1, but in those days, this was the latest development.
“Fire it up,” said Wayne and within two minutes he had the answer. “The radiator
hasn’t enough cooling capacity,” was the diagnosis from the temperature
gradients shown by the stickers. This was just magic, but unfortunately spelled
the end of our F1 weekend. That problem could not be overcome on a race weekend,
two days from home.
However, I have never forgotten the kindness shown to us by the circuit owner
Bob Jane, and the friendliness and assistance of the Williams engineers,
especially Wayne Eckersley. It may be 35 years ago now, but that is how motor
racing used to be.
Last week I mentioned a post-war car, with a liberated straight 6 engine,
half-brother to an aeroplane and the grille was a steal. What was it? It was the
Bristol 400, almost a re-badged pre-war BMW, complete with the kidney grille.
So to this week. What car claimed 100 mph in its name, but could only do 95?
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Automania - Update February 8, 2015
Has Warren Buffett got it right?
Warren Buffett has been pushing BYD’s wheelbarrow for some years and now the BYD
Tang plug-in hybrid SUV uses China’s iron-phosphate batteries, with Buffett’s
The Chinese electric car specialist BYD has revealed one of the most powerful
plug-in hybrid SUVs in the world, called the Tang. It can accelerate from zero
to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds putting it into supercar category and at the same
time uses 2.0 liters of petrol per 100 km.
If that isn’t enough, there will be an even faster Tang Ultimate Edition which
can do the 100 km/h dash in 4.4 seconds - one tenth of a second faster than the
V8 Cayenne Turbo. That is getting serious power to the ground.
The BYD battery pack is an advanced iron-phosphate battery that allows the
vehicle a range of up to 80 km in electric driving mode before it needs the
The 18 kW/h battery can even act as a household emergency power supply,
providing up to 3 kW of electricity at 220 volts in a blackout.
Backed by American billionaire Warren Buffett whose Berkshire Hathaway
investment company holds a stake of almost 10 percent in the Hong Kong-based
tech company, BYD is one of the world’s largest producers of batteries for
consumer goods such as laptops and mobile phones.
The BYD Auto spin-off is China’s 15th largest car-maker and producer of the
top-selling EV in China, the BYD Qin.
The plug-in hybrid has a 152 kW/320 Nm turbo-charged four-cylinder petrol engine
and two 150 kW/200 Nm electric motors for a theoretical maximum power and torque
output of 376 kW and 720 Nm.
The Tang has one electric motor driving the front wheels and another at the rear
for a form of all-wheel drive.
The petrol engine is hooked up to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission
developed in house.
Tang comes in four driving modes - all electric, full electric/petrol power
(Sport), range extender and front-wheel-drive hybrid.
BYD’s home city, Shenzhen, in Guangdong Province, is the latest major city to
cap registrations of fossil-fuel powered cars in a bid to tackle choking
pollution and traffic jams.
BYD may just have the market correct for the times in China. Warren Buffett is a
F1 testing calendar
The F1 Circus gets underway in earnest in March, but leading up to then there
are several days of testing allowed.
01 Feb - Circuito Permanente de Jerez
02 Feb - Circuito Permanente de Jerez
03 Feb - Circuito Permanente de Jerez
04 Feb - Circuito Permanente de Jerez
19 Feb - Circuit de Catalunya
20 Feb - Circuit de Catalunya
21 Feb - Circuit de Catalunya
22 Feb - Circuit de Catalunya
26 Feb - Circuit de Catalunya
27 Feb - Circuit de Catalunya
28 Feb - Circuit de Catalunya
01 Mar - Circuit de Catalunya
During the year there are also four test days
12 May - Circuit de Catalunya
13 May - Circuit de Catalunya
23 Jun - Red Bull Ring
24 Jun - Red Bull Ring
German GP in doubt
Bernie Ecclestone says financial woes for the Nurburging and a lack of a deal
with Hockenheim could put an end to this year’s German GP.
Although the Nurburging was down to host this year's edition of the German GP,
the circuit's on-going woes meant Hockenheim looked set for back-to-back events.
However, even that is in doubt as a contract has yet to be agreed.
Bernie, the patron saint of expensive contracts, says he is keen to see Germany
remain on the calendar but concedes that if the money is not there, there is
nothing he can do about it. (Reducing his cut would never cross his mind!)
He added, “We would do everything to stop them fading away, but in the end the
only reason the race won't happen is because they can't afford to run the race.”
Things are going to get better
Frost & Sullivan is expecting total vehicle sales in Thailand to increase 9.8
percent year-on-year to reach 950,000 units due to the recovery of domestic
Vivek Vaidya, Vice President, Automotive & Transportation Practice Asia Pacific
at Frost & Sullivan said that a set of key factors are currently driving base
demand for vehicles in Thailand and are expected to continue doing so over the
He added that Thailand is expected to see an average GDP growth of 5 percent
over the next five years. “Growth will be led by domestic demand, especially in
infrastructure investment and private consumption,” he said, adding that
government spending and stimulus will start to show results in the second half
Vivek Vaidya said that the growing middle class in Thailand will also help boost
vehicle sales as increasing income levels will result in higher purchasing. He
added that consumer sentiment is likely to continue to improve in the first half
of 2015. “There will be a marginal increase in pick-up truck sales as consumers
anticipate a price increase in 2016,” he said.
Vivek added that infrastructure spending in Thailand is vital to fuel economy
and sustain long term growth. He noted that an eight-year infrastructure
development program for 2015-22 worth 3.3 trillion baht has been approved by the
Cabinet, which will likely aid in vehicle sales growth.
Vivek also said that the increasing auto investments in Thailand will strengthen
the Kingdom’s position as the manufacturing hub of ASEAN and a global base for
fuel efficient cars.
He noted that Thailand has launched the second phase of the eco-car scheme with
a total investment of 139 billion baht and 10 automakers will be producing an
additional 1.58 million eco-cars in addition to the 500,000 cars per annum in
However, Vivek said that uncertainties in the global economy and a sluggish
domestic consumption will weigh heavily on Thailand’s economy. “The automotive
sector is likely to face another challenging year in 2015,” he added.
He said that there will be five key themes that will define Thailand’s
automotive sector over the next 5 years.
He added that the Eco Car Phase 2 program will stimulate the automotive sector
in Thailand and establish the Kingdom’s credentials as the preferred
manufacturing hub in ASEAN. The next generation of free trade agreements will
further lower down barriers, and will help with better integration with global
He also said that Thailand’s integration with the Mekong sub-region will give it
access point to CMLV (Cambodia-Myanmar-Lao PDR-Vietnam), which hold significant
future market potential. He added that Indonesia as the largest market in ASEAN
will compete with Thailand for automotive investment.
He also said that the ASEAN Economic Community, which is expected to be
implemented by end of 2015, will allow greater access to ASEAN markets and
movement of labor in the region.
(Looking at 2014) Vivek Vaidya said that vehicle sales for the year 2014 plunged
34.6 percent to close at 870,000 units due to political volatility and the
ensuing economic slowdown. “The dip in consumer confidence also stifled sales,”
He also said that in ASEAN, Thailand and Indonesia brought the regional sales
down by 11 percent to 3.13 million units, even though Malaysia and the other
ASEAN markets showed positive growth in 2014.
LEDs shine the way to new styling
Light-emitting diodes, LEDs, are revolutionizing the styling of automotive
The technology, once found only on luxury cars, is becoming standard on many
headlamps and taillights of mainstream vehicles to set them apart from the
competition. The increase in usage in mainstream motors comes as the price of
LEDs declines and automakers are finding new ways to use them.
And with even more radical lighting making for advances to U.S. highways, such
as headlight systems linked to radar and cameras eliminate the need to dim high
beams for oncoming cars - and can even see pedestrians and direct light in that
Most, if not all, of the new models showcased at the 2015 North American
International Auto Show incorporated LED lighting. LED lights are smaller, the
strips are bendable and they use less energy than traditional halogen bulbs. Two
LEDs can be formed and fitted to project a smooth line for daytime running
lights or in groups to illuminate large areas such as taillights.
The new 2015 Dodge Charger blends the LEDs into one seamless ribbon. Many
high-end mainstream and luxury models use LEDs as decorations. Audi, BMW,
Cadillac and others use groups of LEDs, also known as a matrix, to create
jewel-like patterns that attract as much attention off as they do on.
On the all new 2015 Cadillac Escalade, 48 LEDs - 17 for each headlamp and seven
for each lower front-end lamp - were used to enhance the desired jewel
appearance and functionality.
One of the leading features on the horizon is what the industry refers to as
active, or dynamic, driving beams that can increase or dim lighting under
certain circumstances, so that drivers never have to worry about turning off
their high beams.
The technology, integrating a camera and radar sensors, can detect an oncoming
vehicle; it then blocks, moves or turns off one or more LEDs in a headlamp so as
not to blind the oncoming driver but to continue illuminating the rest of the
However, the technology is ahead of the legislations and the new capabilities
are not strictly legal.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tested European-specification
vehicles with dynamic lighting last year. Officials are reviewing data to decide
whether the agency can establish appropriate requirements for the systems. NHTSA
anticipates a decision sometime this year.
Analysts and industry experts expect LEDs to be the preferred lighting
technology for the foreseeable future, phasing out high-intensity discharge
lamps, known as HIDs, that often admit an intense blue beam.
Once thought to be an emerging trend, HIDs are not as customizable or
fashionable as LEDs.
Last week I wrote about a car which was very French.
Manufactured in the early 1950’s. Killed by the French government taxing big
cars. I asked what car was it, and even gave you a photo as well. It was a
Hotchkiss with special cabriolet body by Henri Chapron. Incidentally I saw this
car in the Pratamnak area last month.
So to this week. This is a post-war car, with a liberated straight 6 engine,
half-brother to an aeroplane and the grille was a steal. What was it?
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Automania - Update February 1, 2015
John Raymond Weinthal Obituary
1940 - 2014
John Weinthal, head of press and PR at the SMMT - Society of Motor
Manufacturers & Traders - 1968-1984; Motoring Editor at Large the Pattaya
Mail and the Chiang Mai Mail - 2004-2015.
Scion of three generations of lawyers, John Weinthal was born in Warialda, a
small country town in New South Wales, Australia.
However cars - not the law - were his passion, and by the age of nine he was
already driving the family conveyance, which did not go entirely unscathed.
After boarding school in Sydney, he was packed off to read law at Armidale
University. Realising law would be hard work he switched to journalism, joining
The Courier Mail in Brisbane as a cadet. There, he learnt important journalistic
skills such as boozing and smoking, and by the age of 23 was appointed motoring
He took a six-month holiday in the UK, intending to return to Australia to marry
and 'settle down', but after 10 months his fiancée Raye paid her own way to
A trip to the 1967 Geneva motor show with Dr. Iain Corness introduced him to
Alpine snow and the Reliant Motor Company, and he returned to London to handle
its PR. Fifteen months later, he joined the Society of Motor Manufacturers &
Traders for two months to help with PR for the London Motor Show.
Eight months later he was head of press and PR at the SMMT. He stayed 16 years
as confidante and speech writer to captains of the UK car industry, and attended
most international motor shows in Europe, the USA and Japan.
After a slightly longer than intended interval, he and his wife Raye returned to
Australia at the end of 1984, and he handled the PR for Toyota in Queensland for
five years before reverting to writing and broadcasting.
His tally includes motoring writer of the year and best road test awards in
Queensland, and for 10 years he was contributing editor on the world motor
industry for Encyclopaedia Britannica Year Book. He lived in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia from 2004, and contributed to, among others, the Pattaya Mail
and Chiang Mai Mail in Thailand.
John’s last words, written some years in advance, were:
"Hello. I died today.
“A good, mainly fun life: travel and some adventures. I loved life in the UK for
18 years and in Malaysia since 2004.
“My timing was almost always right from birth, through missing wars, entering
journalism and writing, and living a life of cars and the auto industry.
“My declining years from age 71 have not been as much fun.
“My greatest privilege was knowing so many wonderful, achieving friends of all
kinds. I loved all of you.”
John Raymond Weinthal: born Warialda March 3, 1940, died Kuala Lumpur January
13, 2015. He is survived by his wife Raye, son David, daughter Katharine and
grandson Elijah, and good friend Alang Badeli who cared for him untiringly in
his final years.
Alfa Romeo brings out a stunner in the 4C
Alfa Romeo 4C.
Alfa Romeo will be releasing the new 4C this year. If you were quick enough, a
special Launch Edition - limited to 1300 worldwide - will be available,
featuring a host of mechanical and exterior extras and priced at (I guess) 5
The 4C is simply stunning in the ‘looks’ department, and is much smaller than
Power comes from the all-new turbocharged 1.7 liter four-cylinder gasoline
engine is backed by Alfa’s own TCT (twin-clutch transmission). No manual gearbox
option exists here or overseas for the 1025 kg 4C. It also features RWD.
The direct injection-equipped, all-alloy motor that the 4C shares with the Alfa
Romeo Giulietta QV developing 177 kW at 6000 rpm and 350 Nm at 2200 rpm, giving
the 4C a zero to 100 km/h time of 4.5 seconds.
It has alloy front and rear sub-frames attached to the composite tub, composite
body panels and the alloy engine to keep the weight down.
Front suspension is double-wishbone with MacPherson struts in the rear, and an
electronically controlled rear diff between the rear wheels. Conversely, there
is no power assistance of any sort at the steering wheel. The brakes are Brembo
The driver can select one of four driving modes via Alfa’s DNA switch, mounted
on the center console - All-weather, Natural, Dynamic and Race - which will
change throttle, diff and transmission maps accordingly.
There is also a launch control function built into both Dynamic and Race modes,
while the latter setting completely turns off both stability and traction
The wheel sizes are not the same all-round, with 17 inch fronts (with 205/45/ZR
17) and 18 inch rears (with 235/40ZR 18), all tyres being Pirelli P-Zeros.
Minimalism dominates the cabin with sports bucket seats, leather-wrapped,
flat-bottomed steering wheel devoid of controls other than a pair of paddle
Luggage is just a little more than a change of underwear and a toothbrush with
110 liters in the rear, but no storage is available up front.
The more expensive Launch Edition will come equipped with a host of interior and
exterior upgrades, including upsized rims in matte black, uprated dampers and
sway bars, a muffler-less exhaust, sports seats, carbon interior trim, Bi-LED
headlights, a carbon rear wing and carbon mirror caps.
Alfa Romeo global CEO Harald Wester highlighted the racing heritage of the brand
in developing the 4C. “With its technological solutions derived directly from
Formula 1, the Alfa Romeo 4C creates a fusion of body and machine, an extension
of its driver’s soul that is ready, capable and willing to respond and deliver,”
he said. (All wonderful PR-speak, considering Alfa Romeo has not been involved
with F1 since 1988. Hopefully the 4C is not using 27 year old F1 technology!)
The 4C will be built in the Maserati factory in Modena, Italy.
Last week I wrote about a car preserved in the Turin Automobile museum, which
was built for the Monaco GP of 1935. It had an eight cylinder radial two stroke
engine and front wheel drive. I asked what was this car? It was the
So to this week. I am very French. Manufactured in the early 1950’s. Killed by
the French government taxing big cars. What am I?
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email