April 14, 2018 - April 20, 2018
More on the Motor Show
There was much interest
in the new Ford Raptor, being the latest version of the F-150 truck in the
USA. However, our Raptor is built on the Ranger, and it is expensive. B.
1,699 of expense, and actually not for sale, being “available for customer
bookings,” said the Blue Oval.
Is it the real deal? We
will only know when they hit the streets or rough terrain. Much of the
heralded equipment is not really new, such as a Watts linkage at the rear
with trick coil over shocks, a skid plate and wait for it, a steering wheel
with magnesium paddle shift (Wow) and an ‘on center’ mark (double wow). You
also get a set of “aggressive” 17-inch alloy wheels (I presume they bark at
you in the mornings – how I love PR-speak). The 2 liter twin turbo diesel
engine at 157 kW is good on paper, delivering 500 Nm of torque and that is
Then there was the
Takano Cars with their E-Smart Porter. This is a sport hybrid EV truck which
runs on six 12v lead-acid batteries. Very special lead acid batteries the
young man told me and they cost 5,000 baht each. The distance it will travel
before charging is around 100 km and the charging time is 8 hours, so don’t
wait up. It also advertises that it has front and rear “breaks” and with six
hulking great lead/acid batteries, it probably will. This bundle of
technology will set you back 300-350,000 baht, the same young man told me as
his Pretties were too busy posing.
Still on EV’s there was
a well finished BYD (Build Your Dream?) on display, code name e6, running on
100 percent electric Lithium-Iron batteries. The charger is 3 phase and
costs 130,000 baht, but will give the e6 its get up and go in 1.5 hours. The
car isn’t cheap at 1.89 million baht.
One of the success
stories locally has been the MG marque. Every day I will see at least 3 MG’s
of the locally assembled SAIC/CP joint venture. Now they seem to have their
act together with five models including SUV’s. The publicity blurb promotes
the brand with “Passion Drives since 1924”. That is really stretching the
(English) long bow.
There is no real link
between Cecil Kimber and Morris Garages, which then became MG and SAIC’s
current MG models. The new ZS has a more than passing resemblance to the
Mazda range, and the other SUV, the GS is another big car clone but at
890,000 baht sits well in the price range. But is it an “MG”? For someone
like me, steeped in MG history and having raced an MG for the factory, it is
a step too far, but then all of life is change says my local monk.
Porsche was there with
the latest model of the GT 2 RS, all 700 horsepower propelling the GT 2 RS
to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds. I didn’t ask the price.
MINI (BMW like you to
use all caps to distinguish it from the original Mini) distinguishes itself
from its forbears by being very large and very much not “mini”. The
Issigonis car had two doors and a bootlid, whilst the BMW ones can have up
to five doors and big wheels. Undoubtedly the new ones are better made,
quicker, more agile and more comfortable – but the original concept has been
Showing my plebian
roots I just couldn’t warm to the Rolls-Royce. An imposing chariot for the
rich and famous, totally impractical and best left at home as a monument for
Jeeves to clean and polish.
Many in the press room
were impressed with the FOMM (First One Mile Mobility) which is a very small
EV with 4WD. “Funky” is how I would describe it with two doors and four
seats, though legless midgets will be adequately carried. FOMM is 2.5 meters
long and 1.2 meters wide, so it will fit very easily into some of Bangkok’s
holes in the bitumen (the ones with Venezuelan music coming from them).
Plans are afoot to produce this Japanese Micro car here. The price for the
tiny city car is 664,000 baht, but there was a show only price of 599,000
baht. At that price you would have to be looking at a mainstream eco-car.
Of course there were
motorcycles, ancillaries and polishes, purveyors of 120 dB of noise, with
Miss Rocket Sound going through well-choreographed poses for an army of
clickers. I did pause for a minute but the thought of elbowing through the
massed photographers was not palatable, so you don’t get a little soft
The show organizers
(Grand Prix International) arranged to take the western journalists to the
new Speedpark adjacent to the Impact Challenger. This was an eye-opener with
the application of today’s technology. First off, the karts are electric so
you don’t come away covered in two stroke grime. Pedals are instantly
adjustable. Power is adequate and the torque range being electric is from
about zero revs.
Now here’s the
technology application. If there is a track blockage the speed of your kart
becomes very slow, adjusted from the pits. No safety car, this is more like
the F1 Virtual Safety Car, but controlled by the pit wall, not the driver.
You also get an
electronic TV display and an electronic rewards card for next time.
Definitely well designed and run. I will go again next year when my bones
will be 100 percent. Prior warning to the other journalists.
What did we learn from Bahrain?
What did we learn?
Well, we learned that Motor Racing is dangerous, especially if you are in
the pit crew, after one of the Ferrari mechanics was hit by the equipment
being used to change one of the rear wheels. The driver (Raikkonen) was
given the “go” signal but the left rear wheel was stuck on the hub. The
mechanic has fractured his lower leg (both bones) and will be out of action
for three months. Ferrari has been fined 50,000 euros following the unsafe
release of Kimi Raikkonen. I’m sure the mechanic is delighted.
However, it was
Ferrari’s night with Vettel getting the finger out again after securing pole
position and then the race. Second placed Bottas (Mercedes) ran him very
close at the end, Vettel’s soft tyres being at the end of their usable life.
Third placed Hamilton (Mercedes) had come from 9th on
the grid and his finishing position was a combination of some excellent
driving and some excellent luck.
This race was a fine
example of the fact that you don’t win the race on the first lap, you only
lose the race. Force India’s Perez saying afterwards, “We knew how important
it was to stay out of trouble, but there was nothing I could do to avoid
what happened. I made a pretty good start, but Brendon lost control of his
car and spun me around. I had a lot of damage to the floor and that cost me
Another early lap loser
was Verstappen (Red Bull) who attempted to shoulder Hamilton out of the way,
but ended up with a puncture and had to retire, all the while complaining
Hamilton graciously put
on his ‘elder statesman’ hat, saying, “He’s a young driver with fantastic
pace, but he’s still learning and he doesn’t always make the right decision.
Red Bull has a car that should be getting good results, and I’m sure if
either Fernando Alonso or I was in it today, we would have scored good
points. I went through that stuff when I was younger, so I know how it is.”
The front running Red
Bull of Riciardo lasted two laps before it switched itself off. “I get
really fired up for Sundays so now I’ve got two hours of adrenaline stored
up inside me and I don’t know what to do with it. This sport can rip your
heart out,” said the (un)happy Aussie.
Star of the race was
rookie Pierre Gasly in the Honda engined Toro Rosso with a well driven 4th place.
He led the middle pack beating Magnussen in the Haas, Hulkenberg (Renault),
Alonso and Vandoorne (McLarens) and Ericsson (Sauber).
Once again, the results
were dependent upon tyre choices. Perhaps this is old school, but I really
want to see drivers in cars of similar performance battling it out, not
rushing into the pits for softer rubber to “undercut” to gain an advantage.
1 S Vettel
2 V Bottas
3 L Hamilton
4 P Gasly
5 K Magnussen Haas
6 N Hulkenberg Renault
Last week I asked what
car had the same name as a very famous American President and cost GBP 115
including a set of tools. It was the Kennedy complete with its tool kit.
Even the manufacturer knew it wasn’t reliable!
So to this week. It cost $2,300. It had
a top speed of 23 km/h. It might have even run on loaves of bread. What was
For the free beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email
[email protected] or
Update April 7, 2018 - April 13, 2018
Bangkok International Motor Show 2018
Motor shows are big business all over the
world. Some of the famous are Geneva, Turin, Paris and New York. These motor
shows are provided with some standing by the Organisation Internationale des
Constructeurs d’Automobiles (OICA), the world body which provides accreditation
to cities wishing to have their own motor show. The, OICA was founded 1919 in
Paris, and is an international trade association whose members are 39 national
automotive industry trade associations.
Bangkok has that accreditation and is not a
‘Johnny come lately’ with 2018 being the 39th Bangkok International Motor Show.
The man behind the concept of our motor
show has been Dr. Prachin Eamlumnow, President of Grand Prix International (GPI)
who nurtured and cajoled the industry until Bangkok’s event was of world
standard and finally given the nod by the OICA.
The usual mainstays of the show, such as
Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Ford, Isuzu, Honda, Toyota and Chevrolet have been joined by
more exhibitors over the years such as Mitsubishi, Porsche, Maserati, Audi, BYD,
Hyundai, Suzuki, FOMM, Aston Martin, MINI, Subaru, Land Rover, Jaguar, MG, Volvo
and Rolls-Royce and now the Bangkok show has the first wave of the Chinese EVs
which really does follow the theme of this year “The Revolution in Motion”.
Of course, as opposed to the F1 edict of no
Grid Girls, the Motor Show had the usual crop of “Pretties” or ‘eye candy’ on
the various stands, as well as an entourage of the Miss Motor Show girls, whose
main function seemed to be to be able to sit motionless, maintaining a smile,
and hoping their implants didn’t slip out of their push-up bras.
In addition to the vehicles on display
there were some interesting seminars including one on Automotive Forecasting.
Looking ahead has become necessary as if your business is standing still, you
are in fact going backwards, the rate of change being so fast these days,
spurred on by new technologies. Absolute volume growth will be dominated by
China but there are new production hubs appearing in Iran and North Africa.
Autonomous vehicles (AV) have been
scrutinized and the forecasters LMC Automotive predicting that AV’s will make a
real world impact within a 15 year horizon. The first phase will be in
2020-2025. This will be followed up in 2025 to 2030. Looking even further ahead
2030-2035, LMC predicts that the individual ownership model will start breaking
down as the sales of autonomous vehicles will rise to counteract the fall in
sales of ‘conventional’ vehicles.
With the rise in EV sales, the next step is
the Autonomous Vehicle, with some ‘toe in the water’ start-ups such as Tesla
being the obvious ones.
Making your name plate stand out
Where’s my Suzuki Swift?
Try this one for size.
The grille looks like 1950’s
Exhibiting at Motor Shows is not an
inexpensive affair by the time you add in rental and decoration of the space
available, MC’s and ‘Pretties’, plus the legion of car cleaners polishing
off the sticky fingers on the coachwork. That being the case, I wonder at
just why so many manufacturers produce dreadfully dreary exhibition stands.
More than one just line their show cars up in a long line, nose to tail,
which does nothing to excite the senses and make me walk over and give the
cars a second look.
Consequently I found a very interesting
article written by Bob Lutz, the ex-GM executive, remembered for pushing the
Chev Volt project and his wonderful quote, “Global warming is a crock of
shit!” I warm to people like Bob Lutz.
Here is Bob’s introduction on his piece
on an American auto show. “Walking through the North American International
Auto Show left me with the proverbial Chinese-food feeling: I had ingested a
lot but was left curiously empty.
Where were the spectacular
introductions? Where were the jaw-dropping new concepts, boldly going where
no designer had ventured before (and maybe for good reason)? Who was hiding
the ‘segment busters,’ like a PT Cruiser or the un-loved Nissan Murano Cross
Cabriolet? Even last year’s hum-drum show held a few nice surprises, like
the Kia Stinger.”
A wonderful piece and sock it to ‘em
Of course Bob doesn’t have my next
gripe. English language Press Kits. Our show is the Bangkok International
Motor Show and there are still exhibitors with Thai language only
I went to the BMW stand and asked for
English and was told “mai mee” (don’t have). In a fit of pique, I then asked
if they had one in German. Another “mai mee” but they missed the sarcasm.
BMW has a manufacturing plant here on the Eastern Seaboard. They can do
better. The X2 is apparently a great new addition, but you didn’t read about
it from me.
Yes, there were ‘pretties’ in all
stands, and it’s a pity they don’t know their product. The girls had never
heard of the Snell Company, even though they were wearing the gear.
Maserati was present again, but the SUV
Levante is a really overinflated pig with a huge mouth and a set of teeth
like Stonehenge in reverse. The Quatroporte was just so ‘right’ but they’ve
lost the plot with this one, even down to the imitation port holes.
Suzuki did put a bit of thought and
effort into their display, however, the new Swift is starting to look like
everything else. Shame. A special one on display had a paint job suitable
for people who lose their car in shopping centers.
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 April 9 at
Jameson’s at 7 p.m. 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 specials, washed down with a few beers.
Always a fun night. The Car Club nights are only on the second Monday of the
month (not every second Monday)!
Last week I asked, what was stuck in ADM? Clue: 1930. It
was Hans Stuck, the King of the Mountains driving an Austro Daimler for
So to this week. This car had the same name as a very
famous American President and cost GBP 115 including a set of tools. Start
hunting, and no, it’s not a trump.
For the free beer at the next car Club meeting, be the
first correct answer to email
[email protected] or
[email protected] . Good luck!
March 31, 2018 - April 6, 2018
Incest – the game all
the automakers can play
Automobile manufacturing is
probably the most incestuous game in the world. I’m not talking about Chinese
‘knock-offs’ here, I mean cars and accessories that turn up with different brand
names on different vehicles and built in different countries.
Where was your car
manufactured, for example? If it is a Ford Ranger, Mazda, Isuzu or MG, then it
was probably made here, but even a brief perusal of the world marketplace will
show that your Audi was probably made in India, your Porsche Cayenne was built
in Slovakia, but then again, it may have been Leipzig; your Mercedes G Class was
built in Austria, and another old Fiat 500 knock-off also in Austria.
The all-British Aston Martin Rapide.
The British Triumph Herald
bobbed up in India, and was called the standard Herald 20. The Standard 20
diesel in India used the British Triumph Herald as a basis and the extra diesels
were sent to the UK for London taxis.
Now here’s an interesting
one. Studebaker was able to import Volkswagens from Germany and sell them to
Volkswagen of Canada at a lower cost to Volkswagen and Studebaker was still able
to make $150 on each car imported.
Studebaker of Canada also
attempted to import Datsun cars to North America. It was felt a second vehicle
for Studebaker dealers would help increase showroom traffic and sales, and that
one of Datsun’s larger models could serve as a Studebaker-badged replacement for
its own aging design. Luckily for Datsun, the deal fell through.
Ever heard of Heuliez? A
French company which assembled Opel, Citroen, Peugeot, and Renault.
Yes, they make cars in
Finland, by a company called Valmet. They manufacture Mercedes-Benz, Porsche,
Lada, Ford, Saab, Opel and Fisker and convertible roofs for Mercedes-Benz, BMW,
Mini, Renault and Bentley. Had you ever heard of them?
Continuing on with the
incestuous relationships, Magna-Steyr, a motor car manufacturer you’ve probably
never heard of, build the new electric Jaguar, the i-Pace, plus many different
models for separate automakers such as Toyota sports cars, the Aston Martin
Rapide, and they have developed several cars on behalf of other manufacturers
such as the Audi TT, Fiat Bravo, BMW 5 Series and Peugeot RCZ. Their workforce
totals 12,500 and the factory is in Graz, Austria.
And there are still people
who think that their VW was built in Wolfsburg by der elves!
Pedestrian killed by motor car
The world’s media went
berserk when a woman was killed in America by an Uber autonomous (self driving)
car, although this one had a “driver” in the car as well. With every man Jack
and his dog screaming for autonomous cars to be withdrawn, the media should do a
little research and they would find a couple of interesting historical items.
Try these for a start.
Bridget Driscoll (1851 – 17 August 1896) was the first pedestrian to be killed
in a collision with a motor car in the UK. As Driscoll, her teenage daughter May
and her friend Elizabeth Murphy crossed Dolphin Terrace in the grounds of the
Crystal Palace in London, Driscoll was struck by a car powered by an Internal
Combustion Engine, belonging to the Anglo-French Motor Carriage Company that was
being used to give demonstration rides. The car was governed to 7 km/h, a
“reckless speed” cording to some eye witnesses. But there was a fatality before
poor Bridget Driscoll, as Mary Ward was killed in 1869 when she fell under the
wheels of a steam car.
Drone delivery thin and crispy.
Back to today. The
unfortunate lady stepped off the kerb at night straight into the path of the
Uber car and neither the car’s electronics nor the human driver could avoid
hitting the pedestrian.
More interesting numbers -
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents estimates 550,000 people had
been killed on UK roads by 2010. More up to date figures from 2017 in the US
gives me 5,376 pedestrians in 2015, who were killed by cars in the United
States. This averages to one crash-related pedestrian death every 1.6 hours.
So why is one death in
Arizona so newsworthy? Because it was an autonomous (electric) vehicle, the
technology of which is threatening to the status quo of the automotive world.
Europe is outlawing diesel engines, so what is next? The ICE (Internal
Combustion Engines) will be the next to go, because the public anxiety over
electric vehicle (EV) range is becoming less and less, as is the pollution
decrease by going electric. EV is the future. There will soon be a charging
outlet on your street corner.
However, the automakers are
not really geared up for the electric revolution, and even less for the
Why? Well the first
question to be answered is who is going to manufacture these forthcoming
vehicles? The Detroit style classic assembly lines or some new technology
Silicon Valley upstart like Uber, for example.
And in the situation of
accidents with autonomous mode, who does the lawyers sue? You can’t sue an
individual ‘black box’ or the human who wrote the computer program, can you?
Others who are adversely
affected by autonomous cars are taxi drivers, and they are just the tip of the
iceberg, as all other driving occupations, such as deliveries which will be done
by an electric drone. UPS is talking three years, but it will be sooner.
The automotive marketplace
is changing and the conventional automakers can predict their own demise, which
is why any bad publicity regarding the new technologies is welcomed by Detroit,
which by the way owns a major slice of the media giants.
New technology is always
looked upon with suspicion, but the world gets used to it with time. My great
grandmother used to put a plaster over the power points as she was sure this new
fangled electricity would leak down the wall and discolor the wall paper!
Autonomous electric vehicles are coming and won’t discolor the wall paper
Start Ya Bastard
I mentioned this wonderful
aerosol before, genuinely called “Start ya bastard!” complete with Aussie
epithets. It works too, as an added bonus. Writing about it reminded me of that
wonderful skit by John Cleese as Basil Fawlty when his car wouldn’t start, “Come
on! Come on! Start, you vicious bastard! Oh, my God! I’m warning you! If you
don’t start, I’m going to beat you!” After the rant, Basil reappears with a tree
branch and begins beating the bonnet.
What reminded me of Basil
was Elvis Presley no less, who got out a gun and blasted his car because it
wouldn’t start (I don’t know if that is covered by the Second Amendment). And
what car was it? It was a De Tomaso Pantera.
Panteras were made from
1970 to 1991, and in the USA they were even sold through Ford of America’s
Lincoln-Mercury network until 1975.
The Ford tie-up was the
Ford V8 engine of 5.8 liters and up till 1974 De Tomaso had sold 6,000 Pants
Tearers in the US, but the fuel crisis in the early 70’s and the poor build
quality of the cars stopped further exports to the US.
The concept of the car was
excellent. It had an all steel monocoque, the V8 Cleveland amidships,
independent front and rear suspension and a five speed manual transmission.
The design was from the
house of Ghia (using American Tom Tjaarda as the lead designer), the bodies
built by Vignale in Turin and the cars assembled in the De Tomaso factory in
Modena. It has been described as a triumph of style over substance.
However, the cramped
cockpit, the heat inside the car and the fact that they would never pass the
upcoming crash testing spelled the death knell for this interesting sports car.
In 1970 it had a top speed of 250 km/h and a zero to 100 km/h of 5.7 seconds.
Last week I asked, who took
two Italian economy cars and connected the fronts together with a simple ladder
frame and made race winning cars? The answer was John Cooper and the cars were
Fiat Topolino’s (AKA ‘Toppolovers’) with the transverse leaf front suspension.
So to this week. An easy one. What was
stuck in ADM? Clue: 1930.
For the free beer at the next car Club
meeting, be the first correct answer to email
[email protected] or
[email protected] . Good luck!