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Update June 2016


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Update June 25, 2016

Ferrari GTC4 Lusso

Ferrari GTC4 Lusso.

Ferrari claims to have built a “family” car, with four seats and rocketship performance from a 6.2 liter V12 engine, pumping out 507 kW of power and 697 Nm of torque.

This results in a zero to 100 km/h of 3.4 seconds and standing start to 200 km/h in just 10.5 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 335 km/h.

Ferrari has tried hard to make this a viable “family” transport with a most noticeable feature being that the passenger effectively gets their own dashboard, complete with touch screen and speed and revs readouts. “It’s about involving the passenger, so they become more of a co-pilot,” Ferrari designer Manzoni says.

The interior manages to feel both luxe and modern, with a massive, 10 inch iPad style screening the center, and Manzoni says his goal was for it to be “not bourgeoise.”

An enormous glass roof adds to a feeling of spaciousness, front and rear, but the two rear seats are just a little bit ‘squeezy’. Children would be comfortable enough in the back for long journeys, adults less so.

Whoever does pile in will be comfortable tackling the drive to the snowfields this car was clearly designed for, though, thanks to its new 4RM-S system, which offers both four-wheel drive and integrated four-wheel steering.

We would certainly like to try it, but as for how much it would cost you to do so, take a deep breath; the Lusso starts at $578,888 and now add in the import duty and freight.

Since Ferrari seems to be able to sell as many as it makes, I would say that having now opened up the marketplace to a Family Fazza, the future looks good, no matter how expensive.


More on helmets

Lawrence of Arabia.

Lawrence of Arabia died from brain injuries in 1935 following a motorcycle accident. One of the neurosurgeons who attended Lawrence was Australian Dr. Hugh Cairns. He was profoundly moved by the tragedy of this famous First World War hero dying at such a young age from severe head trauma. Having been powerless to save Lawrence, Cairns set about identifying, studying, and solving the problem of head trauma prevention in motorcyclists.

In 1941, his first and most important article on the subject was published in the British Medical Journal. He observed that 2279 motorcyclists and pillion passengers had been killed in road accidents during the first 21 months of the war, and head injuries were by far the most common cause of death. Most significantly, however, Cairns had only observed seven cases of motorcyclists injured while wearing a crash helmet, all of which were nonfatal injuries. His 1946 article on crash helmets charted the monthly totals of motorcyclist fatalities in the United Kingdom from 1939 to 1945. The obvious decline in the number of fatalities took place after November 1941, when crash helmets became compulsory for all army motorcyclists on duty. His article concluded, “From these experiences there can be little doubt that adoption of a crash helmet as standard wear by all civilian motorcyclists would result in considerable saving of life, working time, and the time of hospitals.”

It was not until 1973, 32 years after his first scientific article on the subject, were crash helmets made compulsory for all motorcycle riders and pillion passengers in the United Kingdom. And many years after that for the use of crash helmets to be legislated in Thailand, and some SE Asian nations are yet to follow.

However, legislation alone is not enough. Helmets have to be of a sufficient standard to give the protection needed. There needs to be a standard, and the US Snell Foundation is one such organization.

The Snell foundation is an independent non-profit helmet testing lab. William “Pete” Snell was an amateur road racer who died of head injuries in an auto crash in 1956. He was wearing a leather helmet at the time. The Snell Foundation was founded and funded in 1957 by friends and family of Pete Snell. The lab was originally directed by Dr. George Snively, a medical doctor, engineer, and amateur road racer who was interested in helmets and head protection. Dr. Snively’s research soon showed that helmets would have to be made of fiberglass and other synthetic materials, not leather.

And people wonder why I can get incensed by legislative stupidity in Michigan.


What did we learn from Baku?

Well, we learned that the capital of Azerbaijan is called Baku and they have castles, both old and new, and the circuit has a straight long enough to get an A380 airborne. To be honest, we didn’t learn much more, other than more ridiculous FIA rules and regulations (more on that later).

Winner all the way was Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) who took pole position on the Saturday and from there never looked back. Pole, fastest lap, leading every lap of the race and winning. It doesn’t get much better than that.

The only car/driver that could have challenged Rosberg was his team mate World Champion Lewis Hamilton. However, Hamilton wrong-footed himself on the Saturday Qualifying clobbering a wall and ending up 10th on the grid. Come Sunday, and Hamilton found he was down on power from the hybrid electric power.

Now comes the farce. The FIA has mandated that Pit Wall is not allowed to correct settings in the car, only the driver can do this. Unfortunately for the frustrated Hamilton, the Pit Wall is not allowed to tell the driver what to do to correct a settings problem. This led to the following exchange between Hamilton and Bonnington, his engineer.

Bonnington, (lap 31): “The problem appears to be with the current mode that you are in.”

Hamilton: “I don’t know what you mean. I don’t know what’s wrong.”

Hamilton, (lap 33): “This is ridiculous guys. I don’t know, I’m looking at my fricking dash every five seconds trying to find the switch in the wrong position.”

Bonnington: “Lewis, it’s nothing you’re doing wrong, just got a setting that’s incorrect.”

Hamilton: “I might not finish the race, I’m going to try and change everything.”

Bonnington: “We don’t advise that, Lewis.”

Hamilton, lap 34: “Can I make suggestions and you tell me if that’s okay?”

Bonnington: “Nope, that’s not allowed.”

Hamilton: “I’m bored looking at my fricking dashboard every five seconds.”

This led to the frustrated Bonnington saying: “You just need to get your head down and focus on the job.” His focus on the job got him to 5th at the flag, which was as good as he was going to get. (The words ‘toys’ and ‘pram’ come to mind!)

Behind Rosberg, and a long way behind, came Vettel (Ferrari) who had kept his nose clean, other than having a blue plastic shopping bag stuck to it. (Azerbaijan will introduce legislation that all shopping bags are to be of clear plastic by next year.)

Vettel’s team mate, Laughing Boy Kimi Raikkonen, had run over a white line marking pit lane entry and was given a five second penalty by the stewards, demoting Kimi from 3rd to 4th, which he consolidated by letting Perez (FIndia) through on the last lap to take the final podium position as well. Kimi, by this stage, was thinking more of a post race vodka or similar, rather than banging wheels with the Mexican, as with the five second penalty he was already demoted.

Perez drove a well planned race and had kept in contact with the Ferrari’s, though a long way behind the Mercedes up front (25 seconds). This year, he has outdriven the (once) well fancied German Hulkenberg in the other FIndia, who came 9th.

The two Williams drivers were never in touch, with Bottas 6th and Massa 10th, courtesy of their more powerful Mercedes engines.

With the power deficit of their Renault engines, Red Bulls were left grazing in 7th (Ricciardo) and 8th (Verstappen).

It was not an exciting Grand Prix with 95 percent of all passing being done at the end of the straight, thanks to the incredibly long ‘runway’ and DRS.

Results

1 N Rosberg Mercedes

2 S Vettel Ferrari

3 S Perez Force India

4 K Raikkonen Ferrari

5 L Hamilton Mercedes

6 V Bottas Williams

7 D Ricciardo Red Bull

8 M Verstappen Red Bull

9 N Hulkenberg Force India

10 F Massa Williams

The next GP is in Austria, July 3rd.


You can’t legislate stupid

The state of Michigan in the US had a mandatory law to ensure motorcyclists wore helmets. Just like our (generally unenforced) law here.

In 2012 Michigan repealed its helmet law, and guess what? The number of helmetless deaths climbed 460 percent!

In 2011, the year before the repeal, five of the 109 motorcyclists who were killed in crashes were not wearing a helmet, according to the state police. Last year, 56 of the 138 riders that were killed were not wearing helmets.

All motorcycle deaths have risen 26 percent since the law was repealed, according to figures reported by the Insurance Institute of Michigan. In 2011, there were 109 deaths; that number rose to 138 in 2015, according to the institute.

“We knew from other states’ experiences that deaths increase when motorcyclists are allowed to ride without helmets,” Pete Kuhnmuench, executive director of the Insurance Institute, said in a statement Tuesday. “Unfortunately, the predictions were accurate and more motorcyclists are dying in motorcycle crashes.”

More helmetless riders have been dying since the repeal, Michigan State Police data show.

Michigan is one of 32 states that does not require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Governors Highway Safety Association. Advocates of the repeal say it’s a matter of personal choice and point out that motorcycle riders are required to carry extra insurance if they choose to forgo helmets. (And a pretty pointless piece of legislation – there’s no pockets in shrouds!)

Of course, it goes without saying that for a helmet to protect the brain, it must be a good one. The plastic ice cream bucket ones, sitting on the back of the head and not done up are quite useless.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked which English car company made carriages, bicycles, motorcycles and cars, culminating in a six cylinder engine, closely followed by bankruptcy? An electric starter was offered, but was an additional cost.

It was the Calcott, just another to fail in the great depression.

So to this week. What car company, during the war years, offered electric windscreen wipers, as well as the vacuum operated ones? Having had a car with only vacuum wipers, I can see why electric ones were necessary.

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


Update June 18, 2016

European Grand Prix this weekend

Another new street circuit, with this information coming from the FIA. The 2016 season sees Azerbaijan become the latest addition to the F1 calendar, with capital city Baku playing host to what claims to be the fastest street circuit of the season, on a layout designed by renowned F1 track architect Hermann Tilke.
“Our brief to Tilke Engineering was simple - create a circuit that is unique, one that will help the Grand Prix in Baku quickly establish itself as one of the most exciting, thrilling venues on the F1 calendar, and one that the fans and teams alike are excited about,” says Azad Rahimov, Azerbaijan’s Minister of Youth and Sport.
“Obviously street circuits present a number of challenges, in terms of circuit design, but we have been able to incorporate some unique features that will provide the teams and fans with fascinating racing,” he comments.
“For example, there will be an extremely narrow uphill section at the old town wall that will reward pinpoint accuracy and courage, and we have an acceleration section of almost 2.2 kilometers along the promenade which will see the cars running flat out at very high top speeds - something that will create an incredible spectacle for the race fans on track and the viewers at home.”
The telecast begins at 8 p.m. Join us at Jameson’s Irish Pub in front of the big screen about 6 p.m. for a meal before the race.


The Lotus Super Seven is not dead!

Classic Caterham 7.

The rights to the old Lotus Seven, which became a Super Seven with bigger everythings, were sold to Caterham in 1973. Since then, Caterham was bought by Malaysian interests who had representation in F1. Despite bailiffs and bad press, the Caterham Sevens continue as the cheapest and simplest sub-4 second zero to 100 kph road car you can buy (once you have worked out how to side-step Customs)!
Caterham make many variants, some with a narrow chassis (as per the Chapman original) and others based on a wider chassis for larger people. Almost all the Caterhams have a steel spaceframe covered with stressed aluminium body.
The original Sevens had a live rear axle, but these days, a de Dion rear axle is the norm.
Many different engines have been employed, after Caterham started the process of phasing out the Rover k-series engine and replacing them with Ford engines; the Sigma engine for Roadsports and the 2.0 liter and 2.3 liter Duratec engines for the more powerful Superlight and CSR ranges.
Caterham have had something of a tentative relationship with the installation of motorbike engines into their cars. Since 2000, a Canadian firm has been selling Caterham 7 models using the GSXR1300 engine used in the Suzuki Hayabusa. It reportedly does 0-62 in under 3 seconds. In 2000 the Honda CBR1100 engine was installed into a 430 kg (948 lb) superlight chassis to create the Caterham Blackbird, delivering 170 bhp (127 kW) at 10,750 rpm (although just 92 lbทft (125 Nm) of maximum torque). The Blackbird offered near R500 performance for rather less money (Top Gear quote 0-60 of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 143 mph (230 km/h) at a new cost of ฃ25,750). In 2001 a Honda Fireblade engine was offered in a live-axle chassis, via James Whiting of Ashford, Middlesex. Quoted power was 128 bhp (95 kW) at 10,500 rpm. Both of these models have ceased production. There has also been at least one installation of the RST-V8, created by Moto Power; a 2-liter, 40 valve 340 bhp (254 kW) V8 made from a pair of motorcycle engines joined at the crank. An early, pre-production review of the car/engine combination exists on the EVO website. In Feb 2008, the “Caterham 7 Levante” was announced, featuring a supercharged version the RST-V8, offering over 500 bhp (370 kW), installed in a modified Caterham chassis, with bespoke bodywork. Made by RS Performance (described in the press release as “Caterham’s new performance arm”), the Levante is intended to be a limited run of 8 cars at a cost of ฃ115,000 each
The Caterhams are built up in the company’s factory in Dartford, Kent in the UK, while suspension parts that are directly related to an open-wheel race car adorn each end. Engines currently range from a 100 kW Ford 1.6 liter engine from a Fiesta, right through to a performance 177 kW 2.0 liter Duratec unit nicked from the Ford Focus.


“Fill ‘er up, Mister?”

Park your EV here.

VW has been in the (bad) news department this year, but with an eye to the future, VW has been quietly working on electric power plants. If nothing else, it beats the pollution problems. Matthias Mueller, the former chairman of Porsche who replaced Martin Winterkorn at the helm of VW Group in the wake of ‘dieselgate’, said at this year’s Geneva motor show that he expected pure electric vehicle driving ranges of more than 500 km by the end of the decade, with charging times dropping to “the time of a coffee break.”
VW mean business on the EV front, VW has recommitted to its Phaeton flagship sedan, but this time with an all electric powertrain. The Phaeton is one of 20 all-new electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to be produced across Volkswagen Group’s various brands, including Audi, Porsche and VW, by 2020.
However, VW has gone to the trouble of extending the Phaeton trademark previously applied to their luxury sedan, with much speculation as to why. One theory is that VW has noted Tesla’s success with its home batteries – lithium-ion units to store solar power from home photovoltaic systems – and wants to get in on the action.
It could also mean that it wants to supply its own Phaeton-branded charging points for its new-generation flagship EV.
Another suggestion is that the Phaeton brand might even be applied to a range of VW-produced EVs, like BMW’s i-car range.
The automotive manufacturers have been ‘flirting’ with Electric Vehicles (EV’s) for some time, in occasional fits and starts as yet another oil crisis looms or wanes. This time the impetus is not so much in the fossil fuels are running out, but more that the Middle East, the supplier of much of the world’s crude oil is in disarray, with no signs as to ceasing in the near future.
One of the big advantages of driving fossil fuel-powered vehicles is that it’s easy to find a place to fill up. In the more than a century since the world’s first purpose-built gas station was built in St. Louis, Missouri in 1905, a massive worldwide infrastructure has emerged to keep our vehicles running. As automakers make the move to electric vehicles, early adopters are faced with a lack of infrastructure to keep batteries charged. However, the number of public EV charging stations is steadily growing and Google is now doing its bit to help make tracking them down easier by adding EV charging station location information to Google Maps.
Using data primarily from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, users can now search a database of nearly 7,000 alternative fueling stations in the U.S., including 600 Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment locations and have the results displayed within Google Maps. For example, searching on Google Maps for “ev charging station near los angeles ca” returns a map of the area with nearby stations highlighted.
One of the key stumbling blocks in the uptake of battery electric vehicles is charging times. After all, who wants to wait eight hours to “fill the tank” when a gasoline, hybrid or hydrogen powered vehicle can be replenished in a matter of minutes.
One way around this recharging problem is to have readily exchangeable fully charged batteries, ready to go. This service was provided between 1910 and 1924 by Hartford Electric Light Company through the General Vehicle Company battery service and during that period vehicles using it covered more than 6 million miles. It was initially available for electric trucks. The vehicle owner purchased the vehicle from General Vehicle Company (GeVeCo, a subsidiary of the General Electric Company) without a battery and the electricity was purchased from Hartford Electric through an exchangeable battery. The owner paid a variable per-mile charge and a monthly service fee to cover maintenance and storage of the truck. Both vehicles and batteries were modified to facilitate a fast battery exchange. In 1917 a similar service was operated in Chicago for owners of Milburn Light Electric cars who also could buy the vehicle without the batteries.
Closer to today, Electric forklifts have used battery swapping since at least 1946, and a rapid battery replacement system was implemented to help maintain 50 electric buses at the 2008 Summer Olympics in China.
Very recently, the battery exchange program was tried by a group called Better Place, but it did not take off as there were not enough EV’s to make it viable.
In the meantime we await to see just what VW are up to this time.


International Engine of the Year goes to…

Award winning Ferrari engine.

Ferrari was the big winner here with their 3.9 liter biturbo V8 used in the Ferrari 488 and California T, beating BMW’s 1.5 liter petrol-electric hybrid powertrain used in its i8 supercar.
With a total of 331 votes, it trumped BMW’s i8 engine (278 votes) which won the overall prize last year. Third place with 267 votes was the new 3.0 liter turbocharged flat six-cylinder petrol engine used in the updated Porsche 911 that replaced the outgoing naturally aspirated 3.4 to 3.8 liter boxer engines, representing the first time that Porsche has turbocharged the majority of its line-up.
The new 448 GTB and Spider engine develops 492 kW of power and 760 Nm of torque, while the slightly detuned version in the California T convertible develops 415 kW/755 Nm.
International Engine of the Year awards co-chairman Graham Johnson was quick to praise the Maranello-built engine, citing it as one that will be remembered fondly in years to come.
“It’s a giant leap forward for turbocharged engines in terms of efficiency, performance and flexibility,” he said. “It truly is the best engine in production today and will forever be remembered as one of the all-time greats.”
It was no surprise to see Tesla’s all-electric drivetrain take out the Green category, over the BMW i8 and Volvo’s recently developed T8 2.0 liter petrol-electric hybrid seen in the XC90.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what was the concept taken by the Motobloc power units which re-appeared 60 years later in vehicles sold by British Leyland? The answer lay in the fact that the French Motobloc engines had a common oil sump for engine and gearbox lubrication. This concept was used by Issigonis, when he designed the Mini 60 years later.

So to this week. Which English car company made carriages, bicycles, motorcycles and cars, culminating in a six cylinder engine, closely followed by bankruptcy? An electric starter was offered, but was an additional cost.

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


Update June 11, 2016

Canadian GP this weekend

Canadian GP.

In the 1960’s the rivalry between French and English speaking Canada meant that the country’s Grand Prix alternated between Mosport Park one year and Mont-Tremblant the next. By 1970, however, Mont-Tremblant was deemed too dangerous and the race was moved full time to Mosport Park.

In 1977 the French Canadians, motivated by the incredible success of Gilles Villeneuve, decided to take the Ile Notre-Dame and connected all the island’s roads and made a circuit. The island had been the home of the 1967 World Fair (Expo’67) and was full of futuristic looking buildings.

The first F1 race was held there in October 1978. Gilles Villeneuve, in his first season with Ferrari, was yet to win an F1 race, but at his home Grand Prix he took a memorable debut victory. Following his death in 1982, the track was renamed in his honor.

With the time differential, the Canadian GP telecast will be seen at 1 a.m. Thai time. This does mean that you either watch at home with live streaming, or catch it the next day, as Jameson’s will not be open so late. Sorry.

The winners at this Canadian F1 track include Michael Schumacher who holds the record of having won seven times in Canada. It is also the scene of Jean Alesi’s single Grand Prix victory in 1995, driving the number 27 Ferrari, the same car number which was carried by Gilles Villeneuve.

The final corner of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve became well known for crashes involving former World Champions. In 1999, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve all crashed into the same wall which had the slogan Bienvenue au Qu้bec (Welcome to Quebec) on it. The wall became ironically known as the “Wall of Champions”. The wall also was involved in a crash with Ricardo Zonta, who was, at the time, the reigning FIA GT sports car champion. In recent years, then GP2 Champion Nico Rosberg, Cart Champion Juan Pablo Montoya and Jenson Button have all fallen victim to the wall. In 2011 Friday practice the wall claimed the reigning F1 Champion Sebastian Vettel.

Before the wall was named it also claimed 1992 World Sportscar Champion and long-time F1 driver Derek Warwick who spectacularly crashed his Arrows-Megatron during qualifying for the 1988 Canadian Grand Prix.


Driving in Thailand

 

Motorcycle taxi.

This item is really for the “newbies”. When you first arrive in Thailand, the traffic appears to be completely chaotic. At every intersection there appears to be a motorcycle lying on its side with a crowd of onlookers surrounding some bloodied rider and/or pillion passenger. Cars, buses and trucks thunder by at speeds unchecked, and the sheer traffic volume far exceeds that you are used to.

One of the common questions I get asked by new arrivals is, “Do you really drive in this traffic?” This type of query is given even more weight when you find that many multinational companies operating in Thailand do not allow their expats to drive and insist on providing Thai drivers. It then becomes quite a surprise when I inform the awestruck newbie that I do drive, and that it is actually easier to drive in Thailand, than it was driving in Australia or the UK. Those questioners who know of my motor racing background then retort, “Yes, it’s OK for you as you are used to danger and reckless driving, but what about the ordinary folk?”

Firstly, I should point out that in motor racing there are old drivers and bold drivers, but no old, bold drivers! Racing drivers are far from reckless. And so too are Thai drivers, though it may appear the opposite initially.

Despite what it seems on the surface, Thai drivers are actually quite timid compared to those from the West. Four lanes on a highway can filter down into one without aggressive barging. Three lanes can get down into two without the traffic even appearing to slow, as drivers just make room for each other. Does this sound like Melbourne, Manchester or Manhattan? I doubt it.

Of course there is one very different aspect to driving in Thailand that has to be got used to very quickly, and that is the ubiquitous motorcycle. Typical of Asian cities, motorcycles are family transport, delivery vehicles and the ideal commuter chariot. I am waiting for some enterprising motorcycle manufacturer to begin advertising their new 125 cc step-through as “The ideal motorcycle for a family of five”. Don’t laugh, five on a motorcycle is commonplace, in fact you can buy an extra little saddle seat which fits in front of the main seat and is used for small children (who hang onto the rear vision mirrors), or the family dog, which just takes its chances. Mind you, a large percentage of the family pooches travel in the wire basket carrier at the front, cleverly blocking the headlights at night.

Motorcycles are everywhere, though mainly in the left hand lane, but at the intersections they weave their way through the cars in all lanes to end up as a raucous pack at the front. This massed Moto-GP takes off, not on the green, but at some time before the green, when the majority decide it is safe enough to go. Hence the motorcycles lying on their sides in the middle of the intersection, having collided with vehicles playing ‘last across’ from the other direction. I have mentioned before that traffic lights in Thailand seem only advisory, not compulsory!

Successful driving in Thailand does take a fair degree of observation skills, looking out for the dreaded two wheelers. Probably the same observation skills as used in the West to avoid speed cameras, red light cameras and plain clothes police cars. And other drivers with the raging red mist in their eyes.

I could go on for days about the motorcycles. There is a saying here which goes: You know you’ve been in Thailand too long when you look both ways before crossing a one-way street! Motorcycle riders will just happily ride against the flow of traffic and smile and bob their head (usually helmetless) to say “Thank you” as they thread their way through and across your bows. Motorcycles will also just poke their front wheels into an oncoming stream of cars until it is either stop and let them out (because there is always many more than just one of them), or run into them or into the oncoming traffic.

In the mornings, the motorcycles are people carriers. Some are driven by the school children themselves, all looking as if they are only 10 years old, but are probably at least 13. Yet they are riding with the flow of traffic and not racing each other or the cars and trucks and buses. I know that at 13 years of age if I had been given open slather to ride a motorcycle to school in the traffic, my parents would not have had to worry about what to give me for my 14th birthday. I wouldn’t have made it! Again some essential differences in the mental make-up of our different cultures.

But back to driving here as a farang. There are some ‘rules’ of the road which have to be understood. For example, when the approaching vehicle flashes its lights at you, this does not mean ‘after you’. It means ‘I am coming through’. More than one new driver has been surprised in this way. There is another seemingly uniquely Thai system in which when you are crossing an intersection you turn on the hazard lights. Perhaps it is a hazardous situation crossing an intersection (it probably is) but I have not seen this anywhere else, and I still get confused by it as you wonder whether the vehicle is turning right or left or going straight on. (This item taken from the book Farang, The Sequel.


Rusty wreck for sale – one million pounds!

Aston Martin prototype.

This Aston Martin DB2 which looks very dilapidated, is being offered for sale at an auction at the Bonhams’ Goodwood Festival of Speed sale in June.
It has an amazing history, starting with the first Le Mans 24 post war where it came in 7th outright and 3rd in class.
It was then driven to fifth two weeks later at the equally grueling Spa 24 hour race.
The car’s history includes being raced at numerous European circuits, left in a garden for years and then stolen before being the subject of various lawsuits.
Bonhams Auction house has given the Aston a guide price of £600,000 to £900,000, with premiums taking it to the £1 million mark.
It will be sold on June 24 alongside a number of other interesting cars including a unique Bentley with a paintjob by the man behind the Beatles Sgt Pepper album cover.
Whoever buys the Aston Martin DB2 can expect to pay between £400,000 and £500,000 having it professionally restored.
But after restoration, which will take some years, this Aston prototype could fetch £3-4 million at a guess. Watch this space!


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that the Argentine Army retired some different war machines this century and donated them to who and what were they? Clue: Citroen. These were half-track vehicles. The Argentine Army retired its last upgraded M9 in 2006 and donated them to Bolivia.
So to this week. What was the concept taken by the Motobloc power units which re-appeared 60 years later in vehicles sold by British Leyland?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Update June 7, 2016

Local race meeting this weekend

TBX Retro racer Mk1 Ford Escort.

The ‘picnic races’ at Bira are on this weekend, with many categories competing on the 2.4 km circuit. Sedans (eco, 1500 cc and 2 liters), pick-ups, Retro (pre 1985) and more.

We should be there with the TBX Mk 1 Retro Ford Escort, which has had a troubled year so far, having been crashed into and destroying the passenger’s door, and then blew the differential, making it the third diff in the last 12 months. We would appear to have the engine problems sorted and delivering enough horsepower (probably too much horsepower for the differentials).

We have the mechanics at TR Motorsport working on the problem and at this stage it looks like we may graft a Toyota HiLux axle complete into the Escort. (I’m sure Henry F wouldn’t mind!)

These are great race meetings for the family, so come and see us in the pits. Look for the white over Ferrari red Mk1 Ford Escort and meet the drivers in the TR Motorsports team.


Uber reveals driverless prototype

Autonomous Ford.

The US city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been selected for trials of Uber’s self-driving Ford Fusion Hybrid prototype.

Uber has indicated its intention to help accelerate the adoption of autonomous vehicles by revealing details of its own self-driving prototype, based on a Ford Fusion (Mondeo).

Uber is becoming increasingly active in the autonomous vehicle technology, having last month joined with Ford, Volvo, Google and fellow ride-sharing service Lyft to form a lobby group called ‘The Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets’. Very noble of them if we can keep local drivers off the streets here!

There is a rumored purchase by Uber of 100,000 autonomous S-Class limousines – before a production version of the German brand’s flagship model has been launched or even announced with such capability.

Compared with its current outsourcing of vehicles – and therefore business risk – to owner-drivers, Uber’s apparent shift to owning and even developing cars appears to be at odds with its own business model.

However, looked at a different way, Uber’s greatest cost is the human drivers and a portion of what it pays them goes toward the driver’s vehicle running costs, so by cutting out the driver Uber potentially stands to profit from autonomous technology.

An alternative view is that Uber could be developing autonomous technology to package up and sell to owners of compatible vehicles as a plug-in item, enabling the owner to earn money from their car through Uber when they are not using it and simply summoning it back to base when it is needed.

The official Uber company line is that autonomous vehicles will lead to “less congestion, more affordable and accessible transportation, and far fewer lives lost in car accidents”.

Like most production-car-based autonomous prototypes, the Uber car has a variety of externally mounted equipment including radars, laser scanners and cameras enabling it to map its environment, follow a pre-programmed route and respond to hazards.

Also like other autonomous vehicle prototypes, a human driver remains at the wheel to monitor the on-board systems and take emergency action if required.

“While Uber is still in the early days of our self-driving efforts, every day of testing leads to improvements,” the company said.

“Right now we’re focused on getting the technology right and ensuring it’s safe for everyone on the road – pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers.”


New Volvos - in a couple of years

Volvo S40.

Volvo has revealed a pair of concepts that preview its future small car range due in early 2018.

Called Concept 40.1 and 40.2, the pair mark the official launch of Volvo’s global small-car strategy that will be underpinned by the Chinese-owned Swedish car-maker’s new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform and include optional full electric or plug-in hybrid drivetrains.

The S40 will replace the V40 hatch and another in the 40 series will be the XC40 crossover.

The XC 40 comes into the marketplace against a growing number of premium compact SUV rivals including the Audi Q2 and Q3, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Mini Countryman and the upcoming Infiniti QX30.

The S40 will battle Audi’s popular A3 sedan and Benz’s CLA, as well as small sedan that are expected from BMW and Lexus in the coming years.

Volvo has already announced plans to sell one million electric vehicles globally by 2025, and the 40-series models will be offered with both a pure battery electric powertrain and a Twin Engine plug-in hybrid system.

The T5 hybrid will differ from the all-wheel drive T8 system found in the XC90 SUV, with a three-cylinder petrol engine matched with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission driving the front wheels.

With these being concept cars, the performance and fuel economy figures are yet to be released and Volvo is also yet to make public the details of the full battery-electric vehicle drivetrain.

From the B-pillar forward, the two concepts look similar, highlighted by the company’s signature Thor’s hammer LED daytime running lights and wide grille.

Volvo says the 40-series will be offered with a “full range” of connectivity services, “the world’s most advanced standard package of safety features” and Scandinavian interior design. Let’s hope they haven’t used IKEA to do the driving décor!


What did we learn from the Monaco GP?

Well, we learned (as if we didn’t know before) that the round the houses event at Monaco is quite frankly, quite silly. Today’s F1 cars that can top 330 kph and a circuit with walls all the way round does not make any sense. With all the incredible regulations regarding run-off areas if nothing else, Monaco would not get an F1 license.

The race began in the rain with all the cars on full wets for the initial laps (seven of them) behind the safety car. After the green light, Ricciardo streaked away leaving the Mercedes duo of Rosberg and Hamilton in his wake.

Rosberg was holding Hamilton up and when he did get through he chased after Ricciardo, but despite some clever tyre choices by Mercedes, Red Bull and Ricciardo had him covered – until the fateful final tyre change.

“Running around like headless chooks!” Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) will never forget his Aussie roots when describing the chaos when he came into the pits for new rubber and the team had the wrong tyres ready and had to scurry back into the garage. In one fell swoop losing the race for their driver. Ricciardo lamented angrily afterwards, “Two races in a row, two races in a row (referring to his lost win in Spain with wrong strategy from the pit wall). “That’s all I can say. We were quick in the wet, we had a comfortable lead.” Ricciardo’s day will come, but that was one day that slipped away.

With most of the interest being the see-saw battle between Ricciardo and Hamilton, the rest of the field did not get the TV coverage they deserved, but stand-outs were Perez in the Force India to gain the last podium and Alonso who dragged his unwilling McLaren into fifth, which was four places better than Button, his team mate.

Ferrari did not have the race they wanted with Raikkonen driving over his own front wing after understeering into the fence and retiring, and Vettel still running but unable to catch Perez.

Hulkenberg (Force India) expressed the hope before the race, that he might actually get to see a checkered flag. That he did, but it was noticed that he was three places behind team mate Perez. Hulkenberg was the coming man a few years ago. It would now appear that rather than coming, he is going.

Rosberg in the second Mercedes showed he does not have webbed feet and turned in a lack-luster performance. Another race like that and the three pointed star will be pointing Nico towards the great outdoors, and a driver running from headless chooks could take his seat.

A meritorious drive for Carlos Sainz in the Toro Rosso. As opposed to his team mate, he did not decide to move the fences all by himself and was rewarded with an eighth position.

Race results:

Hamilton Mercedes

Ricciardo Red Bull

Perez Force India

Vettel Ferrari

Alonso McLaren

Hulkenberg Force India

Rosberg Mercedes

Sainz Toro Rosso

Button McLaren

Massa Williams

There are old drivers and there are bold drivers – but there are no old bold drivers! This adage was again proven to be correct as the new young bold drivers took it in turn to attack the unforgiving fences at Monaco.

The ‘dishonor’ list:

Jolyon Palmer

Max Verstappen

Daniil Kvyat

Felipe Nasr

Marcus Ericsson

Kevin Magnussen

Remember the adage, “Age, experience and animal cunning beats youth and enthusiasm any day!”

Finally, motor racing has been able to stand on its own feet for many years. It does not need the Justin Biebers of this world and other so-called celebrities. I would much rather have Martin Brundle interviewing some engineers and designers than the rather desperate interviews he has been doing lately. In fact, Martin Brundle is better in the commentary box. Forget the grid walk.

The next meeting is in Canada with the telecast starting 1 a.m. Thai time.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that a European car was built after WW2 using appropriated German tooling. It had been originally sold pre-war by a German company. What car was this? An easy one – VW whose first postwar Beetles were made by British troops, having resurrected the tooling to make the cars as part of the war reparations.
So to this week. The Argentine Army retired some different war machines this century and donated them to who and what were they? Clue: Citroen.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Ferrari GTC4 Lusso

More on helmets

What did we learn from Baku?

You can’t legislate stupid

Autotrivia Quiz


European Grand Prix this weekend

The Lotus Super Seven is not dead!

“Fill ‘er up, Mister?”

International Engine of the Year goes to…

Autotrivia Quiz


Canadian GP this weekend

Driving in Thailand

Rusty wreck for sale – one million pounds!

Autotrivia Quiz


Local race meeting this weekend

Uber reveals driverless prototype

New Volvos - in a couple of years

What did we learn from the Monaco GP?

Autotrivia Quiz

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