Bangkok International Motor Show open
The 32nd annual Bangkok
International Motor Show opened to the public last Friday (March
25). Now held at the Challenger Hall (Impact Muang Thong Thani),
Bangkok, it is the greatest auto spectacular in Thailand. I will be
there covering the show and will report further next week.
Saving money at the pumps
With the price of fuel going up with the increases in crude oil
prices, we are all going to need more money at the pumps to fill the
family chariot. It is then probably worthwhile looking at ways to
increase the kilometers you can get out of one thankful.
1. Slow down - stick to the legal speed limits and see how much you
save! (You can save even more at lower speeds - driving at 80 kph
instead of 110 can cut your fuel bill by 30.)
2. Check your tyre pressures often. Under-inflated tyres can cost
you eight percent more fuel (and they'll wear out faster too).
3. Drive smoothly and consistently. Fierce acceleration and harsh
braking both cost money. You'll save wear and tear on brakes, tyres
and suspension too.
4. Turn off the air conditioning system when not needed - the engine
has to work harder to power them.
5. Have your car serviced in line with the manufacturer’s
recommendations. A well-maintained engine is more efficient and less
6. Remove roof racks and boxes when you don’t need them - even empty
they can increase drag and therefore fuel consumption. Remove heavy
items from the boot, too.
These recommendations came from the Haynes Publishing group whose
manuals are very well respected in the world.
How did we go at the Nitto 3K
Round 1 of the Nitto 3K Retro Series was held at the Bira Circuit on
Highway 36, just outside Pattaya March 19-20, and our last minute
entry in the Securitas Mk 1 Escort was not without dramas. The Retro
Series is for pre 1978 cars, and to find 40 year old cars in
Thailand that are not rust-buckets is difficult. However, we did
find one, but the Securitas team only took possession of the 1973 Mk
1 eight days before the meeting.
The car was basically an unfinished project of the previous owner,
with much of the modifications done, but the whole package was still
not in race trim.
In the eight days, the mechanic Simon managed to bend up a roll cage
and weld it in place, find a race seat and fit it complete with
three inch race harness, machine the wheels for better location on
the hubs, while the car was in at the paint shop being transformed
into the Securitas corporate white.
With assistance and advice from one of the other competitors, Gavin
Charlesworth (E30 BMW), we completed all the formalities of
registering the race car for the Nitto/3K Series and managed to get
out on the Bira circuit for a shake-down on the Friday afternoon.
Nothing fell off so that was considered an auspicious start to the
What it did show was that without the wider 15 inch wheels and the
Nitto NT 01 compound tyres, we were really up against it. However,
we consoled ourselves that if nothing else we were setting our
benchmark and we will be able to see how we can improve during the
2011 Retro season.
After qualifying, we found ourselves in 17th position (out of 24
starters) and that was better than we had hoped. In the race on the
Sunday we had some spirited dices and finished 14th, beating a much
younger and heavily modified BMW to the line, much to the delight of
The car certainly did look the part and generated much interest and
nostalgia in the spectators and I must thank our main sponsors
Securitas, ESC, CEA Projects, AA Insurance Brokers and Cromwell
Lambo reveal the Aventador in Geneva
Lamborghini released the successor to the
Murcielago at the Geneva Motor Show, called the Aventador LP700-4.
Similar in looks, it has, however, much different technology with a
new V12 engine, a carbon-fiber monocoque chassis and pushrod
The monocoque tub chassis weighs only 147.5 kg and offers very high
torsional rigidity. It has aluminium sub-frames at each end onto
which the suspension, engine and transmission are mounted.
The name comes from a particularly brave Spanish fighting bull and
the LP 700-4 refers to the engine output in horsepower and the fact
that it drives all four wheels.
The new engine is a short-stroke V12 rated at 515 kW (at 8250rpm)
which is more powerful than the Lambo LP 640 and LP 670, and has a
marginally better torque output (690 Nm versus 660 Nm).
Being a lighter car than the predecessor (90 kg), the factory
figures for the Aventador claim zero to 100 km/h in 2.9 seconds and
a top speed of 350 km/h, making it one of the quickest and fastest
production cars ever built.
The claimed consumption figures are 17.2 L/100 km EC combined and
CO2 output (398 g/km) is down by 20 percent - as if anyone cared
when you are slapping down something I estimate will cost 80 million
baht in this country. In fact, I have never met anyone who either
knows, or cares, about the CO2 output of their car.
Transmission is through a seven speed auto transmission, which it is
claimed is the fastest robotised gearbox in the world, with shift
times of 50 milliseconds (40 percent faster than the Gallardo).
However, this is not a dual clutch transmission.
The driver can select Strada (road), which offers a fully automatic
shift, the more focused Sport and the extreme Corsa (race), which
includes launch control.
The Aventador has the scissor doors (as Countach, Diablo and
Murcielago), and an optional transparent cover to show the
mid-mounted engine, an aggressive rear diffuser and an
electronically-deployed rear wing, which sits flush with the
bodywork at rest, rises to 11 degrees at mid-range speeds for
greater downforce and flattens out to only four degrees at high
speeds to reach maximum velocity while assisting directional
Other Aventador features include electronically controlled air
intakes for the engine, carbon-ceramic composite disc brakes (400mm
in diameter at the front with six-piston calipers and 380mm with
four-pot calipers at the rear), an electronic parking brake, 19 inch
rims on 255/35 section tyres at the front and 20-inch rims with
335/30 rubber at the rear.
The British advantage
This gem came from an old friend. Thanks Gordon!
Conjoined twins walk into a pub in Toronto and park themselves on a
bar stool. One of them says to the bartender, “Don't mind us, we’re
joined at the hip. I’m John, he’s Jim. Two Molson Canadian beers
The bartender, feeling slightly awkward, tries to make polite
conversation while pouring the beers. “Been on holiday yet, lads?”
“Off to England next month,” says John. “We go to England every
year, hire a car, and drive for miles, don’t we, Jim?” Jim agrees.
“Ah, England!” says the bartender. “Wonderful country, the history,
the beer, the culture...”
“Nah, we don’t like that British crap,” says John. “Hamburgers and
Molson’s beer, that’s us, eh, Jim? And we can’t stand the English;
they’re so arrogant and rude, not civil and polite like us
“So why keep going to England?” asks the bartender.
“It’s the only chance Jim gets to drive...”
The “new” E-Type
Jaguar is losing the plot, as far as I am concerned. When
the E-Type first came out, it was an immediate sensation. Such
looks, and such performance, though today a seven second zero to 100
km/h is no longer neck-snapping.
The new Jaguars do not have the presence of the old E-Type, but take
a look at this one.
A Swedish design firm, Visualtech, has confirmed it will
build a very limited run of production cars based on its Growler E, a
re-imagining of the Jaguar E-Type. According to company sources, the plan is to
have the first Growler ready for delivery in the summer of 2012.
When I say “limited run”, Visualtech is indicating this will be three or four
cars only. However, if there is the demand, Visualtech may build a very short
series run of the cars, with help from Steyr or the Finnish firm Valmet.
The engine will be Jaguar, the 5 liter supercharged V8, from the XKR and 600 BHP
is rumored. Visualtech expects that will lead to a 0-100 km/h time of under 4
The body of the Growler E is a composite body glued to a carbon fiber structure,
with front and rear tube frames holding the running gear. The cost of a Growler
E in the US is estimated at $700,000 if they make a series run, and closer to
$1.4 million if they only make a few. Now factor in Thai customs and duties, add
on your birthday, multiply by the first number you thought of between 90 and 100
and call it baht. I don’t think we’ll see any around these parts, unfortunately,
but what a great looking motor car.
Some indications from the Geneva show
For me, Geneva has always been a show for exotics ever since I saw the
Lamborghini Marzal there. These show cars are ones that the manufacturers build
‘because they can’. I put cars like the new Aventador in that category (featured
this week), along with Bugatti Veyron, Pagani Zonda and Koenigsegg and the like.
This year there was even an electric Rolls Royce Phantom, as if any roller owner
needs to worry about greenhouse gas emissions.
However, there are many vehicles which went on show in Geneva, ostensibly as
concept cars, but will most likely be made if the response to the vehicle design
The first to catch my eye is the Ssanyong SUT1, a double cab pick-up, which is
no longer so ugly you would only drive it with a paper bag over your head, as is
the case with the current Ssanyong offerings.
Ssanyong SUT 1
Another is the Suzuki S, which looks like a three door version of the current
five door B-segment hatch. Which it really is. These Suzuki B-segment cars are
real head-turners and will more than rival BMW’s Mini variants.
The Ford B-Max on display in Geneva will be the pointer towards an MPV based
on the Fiesta underpinnings, and should be one of the models that could be built
here in the new Ford factory on the Eastern Seaboard, along with the Focus and
Bangkok Motor Show update
How many of the Geneva concepts will be shown at our Bangkok Motor
Show? I do not know as we go to press, but I suggest you do not miss the 2011
Motor Show, being held at the Challenger Hall, Impact Muang Thong Thani arena
for the first time, as the event had outgrown the BITEC venue. The motor show
runs from March 26 through to April 6.
The promoter’s budget is in the region of 160 million baht, making this show a
veritable spectacular event. Toyota has the largest stand at 2,600 sq. meters,
with Mercedes and BMW also reserving large display areas.
Vehicles which we know are coming include the Honda Brio eco-car, the new Mazda
3, the Chevrolet Colorado concept, the new Ford Ranger and the Mitsubishi
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