Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Collector Car Auction 2006

Classic car catalogue.

Thanks to my old friend Jerry, I am in possession of the catalogue for the 36th Annual Collector Car Auction held in Auburn Indiana in September this year. It would make you weep!
What about a supercharged Cord 812 of 1937? E.L. Cord produced 200 812’s in 1937 and 64 had a supercharger. How much is that worth? Muscle cars? How many do you want? Camaros, a couple of Mustang GT 500 fast back “Eleanor” look-alikes (from the movie Gone in 60 seconds), Plymouth Barracudas, and even a 1970 Plymouth Superbird, the one with the giant wing on the back. Then there’s Dodge Vipers, Ferrari Testarossas, Porsches and even an Amphicar with a photo of it in aquatic mode. And if that’s not enough, there is a Captain America replica chopper from the movie Easy Rider.
How I miss some exotica. I spend my time in the country looking over fences for something collectable, lying in a tapioca field somewhere, but an old Isuzu pick-up just doesn’t cut the mustard, I’m afraid!

Natter Nosh and Noggin

The monthly car enthusiasts meeting will be at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to the Nova Park development. The car (and bike) enthusiasts meet on the second Monday of the month, so this time it is Monday (December 11) at Jameson’s at 7 p.m. This is a totally informal meeting of like minded souls to discuss their pet motoring (and motorcycling) loves and hates. Bring along any magazines, photos of old vehicles, old girlfriends or the latest Spyker for us all to drive.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week was an easy one. I asked what movie car was called Eleanor? And what was the movie? The first correct answer was from Ray Speed who correctly identified it as a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500 and the film was “Gone in sixty seconds”. Well done, Ray.
So to this week. The Swedish Volvo P1800 is one of those iconic cars, but it was not made in Sweden. Where was it made?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!

F1 gets its first black driver – so who cares?

According to the McLaren PR handout, young UK driver Lewis Hamilton is set to become the first black driver in Formula One after McLaren announced that he would be partnering double World Champion Fernando Alonso during the 2007 F1 season.

Lewis Hamilton.
For my money, I really don’t give a tinker’s cuss about the ethnic background of any driver in F1. All I want to know, is can he drive? The simple answer is a most definite yes.
The young chap is 21 years old, so he’s not the youngest to ever get an F1 contract, but here are his racing credentials:
1995: British cadet class and STP karting champion.
1996: Wins the Champions of the Future, Sky TV KartMasters and Five Nations karting series.
1997: Moves up to junior Yamaha and wins Champions of the Future series and Super One series.
1998: Competing in Junior Intercontinental A is second in McLaren Mercedes Champions of the Future and fourth at the Italian Open. Confirmed he will be supported by McLaren and Mercedes-Benz.
1999: Italian ‘Industrials’ champion at Intercontinental A level, Vice European champion, Trophy de Pomposa winner and fourth at Italian Open Championship at junior-Intercontinental level.
2000: In Formula A, wins all four rounds to become European champion, also wins World Cup and the Masters at Bercy. Named as British Racing Drivers’ Club ‘Rising Star’ member.
2001: Finishes fifth in the British Formula Renault winter series.
2002: Finishes third, with three race wins, in British Formula Renault championship.
2003: Wins British Formula Renault championship.
2005: Formula 3 Euroseries champion.
2006: Wins the GP2 Series. September 13 is given first test in a McLaren Formula One car, and on November 24 is confirmed as race driver for 2007 season for McLaren.
That is the pedigree of a winner at all levels, and as I predicted some months ago, would be picked to partner Alonso at McLaren Mercedes. In private testing he is already setting competitive times and will be a driver of the future. However, can McLaren deliver a decent car to their drivers in 2007? They certainly did not in 2006.
For the lovers of trivia, Lewis Hamilton is not the first man of color driver by any stretch of imagination. In 1963, Wendell Scott, who was involved since the early days of NASCAR, became the first and so far only man of color driver to win a major league race.

And yet another German up and coming
Our roving correspondent at large, John Weinthal, attended the A1GP meeting in Malaysia, and came away very impressed with another young German, Nico Hulkenberg.
John Weinthal writes, “Nico Hulkenberg - remember this name. You are going to hear much more of its 19 year old.

Nico Hulkenberg.

“A1GP, the so-called World Cup of Motorsport, has by my reckoning at least five drivers who could right now work themselves at worst into the middle third of any F1 field. But the young German Hulkenberg is set to be among the top five within two years, at worst.
“He won the series’ first feature race of the current season at Holland’s Zandvoort circuit. It was his first weekend in a 500bhp A1GP car. But in Malaysia last weekend he stamped his mark on motor racing’s future beyond any doubt. On his first ever timed lap of the Sepang F1 circuit in the Friday’s first practice he broke the previous A1 lap record, by three seconds!
“Third after Saturday’s qualifying in the dank heat which is Sepang’s specialty when it is not actually raining, he moved to second on Lap 4 of Sunday morning’s 10 lap sprint race. And he had the brains to hold back in second. This ensured he would have the better side of the track for the start of the later 35 lap (or one hour) feature race. First would have disadvantaged the multilingual, smiling, mild-mannered yet confident young man who is tall for a top racing driver.
“With 30 minutes to the scheduled start a monsoon struck. The race start was delayed. Then it began with three laps of single-file ‘racing’ behind the Audi Safety Car. The rain was torrential. Water cascaded across sections of the track.
“End of second place grid advantage? Don’t believe it.
“Swiss 23 year old Neel Jani, the talented pole-sitter - as at Sepang last season - was driving into Hulkenberg’s blinding spray from the fourth corner of the first flying lap.
“The German consistently extended his lead before stalling and requiring a push start after his compulsory tyre-change pit stop.
“At the end of a miraculously incident free race, Hulkenberg was ONLY 42.8 seconds in front of Great Britain’s Robbie Kerr with defending champions France third. (Lapierre shared the driving for France in the first season but points go to the team in A1GP, not the driver). Pole man Neel Jani was fourth.
“Hulkenberg’s manager is (wily) Willi Weber who happens to have also managed the career of a recently retired F1 master, and is the ‘owner’ of the German A1GP team. This lad has both talent and contacts!”

Another German at the top
The Formula BMW world final was held in Valencia (Spain), and Christian Vietoris of Josef Kaufmann Racing was the winner. The 17 year old beat 35 competitors chosen from all the winners of the regional F BMW divisions, including FBMW Asia. Vietoris, who was also the winner of the FBMW Germany, had a pole to flag win in the final. As part of the spoils of victory, he will also get a Formula One test drive with the BMW Sauber F1 Team in 2007.

Zanardi back in F1?


Prior to the final race for the world series of Formula BMW, Alessandro Zanardi made motor racing history once again in the support program of the DELL Formula BMW World Final. He became the first double-leg amputee driver to take to the track at the wheel of a BMW Sauber F1 Team Formula One car. Zanardi thrilled the fans with several spectacular show drives - and set some impressively quick lap times. Zanardi has been competing for the past couple of years in the World Touring Car Championship and is a front runner in that category. He was at Macau this year (last month) but joined the list of those who won a wall, rather than a trophy.

The lions that ate cars
For those who have never seen a Mini Californian, it began as your everyday Mini Moke, the flat Mini platform with a faintly raffish ‘jeep’ look to it. It had canvas seats across metal frames to add to the military look. A flat windscreen up front and a fairly useless vinyl top that could be erected. It was ineffective as a roof, and when it rained, it was even worse.
However, the Californian variant had little Perspex wind ‘wings’ either side of the windscreen, designed to stop buffeting of driver and passenger (which they didn’t), some stuffing in the seats, some new choices of bright colours for the platform and a bright floral patterned vinyl roof, which was still ineffective when it rained, and if you drove at any speeds over 80 kph, the side flaps went up and down like a spaniel dog’s ears at full canter. Yes, this was British Leyland’s concept of the Californian psychedelic era.
BL’s publicity man was called Ian Millbank and his concept to promote this variant was more towards the ‘great white hunter’ idea. He envisaged hunters and models, trees and the veldt and the piece de resistance was to be lions! In Sydney, Australia, in those days there was just the location – the Warragamba Lion Park! The release was already in Millbank’s mind. The lion park was contacted, and two new Moke Californians were taken in secret one night to Warragamba. Remember that all ‘new’ models are driven round incognito before the release date, and in fact there is an army of press photographers on the lookout for pre-release vehicles.
But back to the lion park. The photographer and models had been contacted and the shoot scheduled for the following day. The sight that confronted them the next morning was certainly theatrical. There were two half-eaten Moke Californians, being devoured by all these lion cubs. They had systematically eaten the seats, the floral roof, the wind wings and anything else that a pride of hungry lion cubs felt was suitable for breakfast, including the spare tyres!
Even for Ian Millbank, this was a situation that could not be recovered from. The models were discharged, as well as the photographer, the Mokes brought back to the factory on a truck under tarpaulins in disgrace!
Yes, that was the psychedelic seventies! I am lucky that I not only experienced them with BL - I survived them!