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Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Update October 31, 2015

Mexican GP this weekend

Mexican GP

The Hermanos Rodriguez track in Mexico City has seen much intrigue and many variations of the circuit layout. It has also been an on-again, off-again race with many of the problems being the very bumpy nature of the track surface, and a lack of funds by the organizers to fix the problems!
In August 2011, Carlos Slim Domit revealed plans for a revived race. In August 2013, it was suggested by “high level sources” that the Mexican Grand Prix could be on the provisional 2014 World Championship calendar. A preliminary draft calendar for the 2014 season, circulated in early September 2013, assigned 9 November 2014 for the Mexican Grand Prix, but did not specify a circuit and noted that the event was “subject to confirmation”. But on December 5, 2013, the FIA released the official 2014 Formula One season calendar, and the Mexican Grand Prix was not on the calendar; then the FIA announced that the Mexican Grand Prix was postponed to 2015 due to lack of sufficient preparation time to upgrade the somewhat run-down Hermanos Rodríguez circuit to Formula 1 working standards. In July 2014, Ecclestone confirmed that he had signed a five year deal for the Hermanos Rodriguez track to host the Mexican Grand Prix, starting in 2015. On 3 December 2014, the FIA published a confirmed calendar for 2015 showing the 2015 Grand Prix of Mexico on 1 November 2015.
So the Mexican Grand Prix has been resurrected and will it be another Hamilton/Mercedes whitewash? Or will the elevation of the circuit play havoc with the pit wall electronic nannies?
Unfortunately, telecast at 2 a.m. Thai time means we will miss live viewing, but if it is another procession behind the Mercedes you won’t have missed much.


Any experience with waterless coolant?

A motoring enthusiast that I know has contacted me about a waterless coolant he is using on his Triumph TR. He sent the following information:
“Waterless antifreeze is new to me, my TR always gets hot in the summer when stuck in traffic jams, a Kenlowe fan has helped but still gets too hot in my opinion, was thinking about fitting an oil cooler, but then came across Evans waterless antifreeze. It is quite expensive about £90 compared to a tenner for normal antifreeze, but the benefits seem to be worth it. You get a car’s lifetime guarantee on the liquid, mind you don’t suppose many people keep their car as long as I have had the TR, 25 years now! To replace the antifreeze you need to clean the system out with a flush, then you use their prep solution which absorbs any water left in the system, I managed to borrow a neighbor’s compressor to blow through the system to remove most of the remaining water left from after the flush and then used the prep solution. I left it to dry for a few days and then put in the new waterless antifreeze, as well as keeping the temp down it also does not rust any metal as it is waterless. Been driving for a while and the temp keeps in the normal range but it is autumn now so it would not overheat at this time of the year anyway. You can undo the radiator cap whilst the engine is hot and there is absolutely no reaction whatsoever, no water, no steam. As it does not boil until it reaches 180 degrees C. I finally think overheating will be a thing of the past for my old TR, will even be able to drive it in Pattaya!”
With our tropical temperatures this compound could work well.


What did we learn from the US GP?

Well, we learned that when it rains in Texas, it really rains, with the Saturday being completely washed out and forcing the Qualifying to be run on the Sunday morning. Even the third qualifying session was not held because of the extreme conditions with grid positions taken from the second session.
We also saw Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) take the win and his third world championship as well, after a very closely fought race, including physical contact with his team mate Rosberg.
Rosberg was more than miffed and refused to attend the post-race celebration. Be prepared for a very physical duel this coming weekend (November 1) in Mexico. Mexican hat dances will have nothing on the aggression in the Mercedes garage.
So it was finally a Mercedes 1-2, as the track dried out, but when the conditions were very slippery this brought the Red Bulls (Ricciardo and Kvyat) to the fore, with both leading at some stages. When the track dried the power deficit to the others just dropped them straight down the order, with Kvyat crashing and admitting to over-driving, and Ricciardo involved with Hulkenberg (FIndia).
Vettel (Ferrari) again made the third step on the podium with a sensible race and mastering the changeable conditions. Unfortunately, his team mate Raikkonen suffered from the red mist and aggression was not the way to go, falling off the circuit and eventually having to retire with brake failure.
Young Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso) continues to impress everyone, happily mixing it with Vettel and Raikkonen on the way to his 4th place.
Sergio Perez (FIndia) was fifth ahead of Jenson Button in the Honda engined McLaren. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) claimed seventh while Pastor Maldonado (“Lotus”), Felipe Nasr (Sauber) and Ricciardo, whose car was damaged in a collision with Nico Hulkenberg, completed the points.
With numerous Safety Car periods, the field was repeatedly backed up together, all helping to make for an exciting spectacle for the American spectators, as damp as they might have been.
Racing enthusiast Peter Smith in Thailand, who stayed up to watch the 2 a.m. start said it was, “one of the best GP’s in the past few years.”
As well as being an exciting GP, it was also a race of attrition. Was your favorite driver in this list of retirements?
Kvyat Red Bull lap 41 Accident
Hulkenberg Force India 35 Accident Damage
Ericsson Sauber 25 Loss of Power
Raikkonen Ferrari 25 Brakes
Massa Williams 23 Damper Failure
Grosjean Lotus 10 Accident Damage
Bottas Williams 5 Damper Failure
Stevens Marussia 1 Accident Damage
One of the reasons that this race was so close was the changeable conditions. It has been suggested before that the tracks should watered, but that would be introducing another artificial aspect to F1, like the DRS for example, and penalties for changing engines and gearboxes.
The next GP is Sunday November 1 in Mexico, with another 2 a.m. start for those on Thai time.


The first Toyota

Toyoda AA.

If my sources are correct, the first “Toyota” was actually a “Toyoda”, model number AA.
The AA was built in 1936 at the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, bearing the name of its founder Kiichiro Toyoda. Before cars, Toyoda’s family had built a successful weaving business in Japan, but for the entrepreneurial Kiichiro, inspired by visits to America, its automobiles and its factories, Kiichiro believed that the future would be the motor car.
After building the A1, an early prototype model in 1935, Kiichiro’s dream finally became a reality when the Model AA was released to the general public a year later. Inspired by the successful design of the leading American cars of the time, the AA bore many similarities to the popular Chrysler Airflow.
Like the body, the engine was modeled after the proven units found in the States; so a 3.3 liter, 6 cylinder unit was developed to power the AA.
So history was made, with Kiichiro Toyoda slavishly following the production methods of the automobile industry in the USA, while today, the US Auto industry sends its executives to Japan to study the “Toyota way”. The wheel has gone full circle!

Chrysler Airflow.


Ferrari F12tdf

Ferrari F12tdf

Looking for F1 acceleration in your drive car? If so, the Ferrari F12tdf is the car for you with a zero to 100 km/h in the unbelievable time of 2.9 seconds.
Unfortunately there is no use in camping outside the Ferrari showrooms as you have to be invited to buy, not the other way around. What a marketing ploy is that!
This strictly limited variant takes the standard F12 Berlinetta as its starting point but then adds lessons learned from the company’s XX development program, which prepares cars for serious circuit work. Those are cars that Ferrari keeps and you have to let them know you want to come down and have a drive in your own very expensive car!
However, the new F12tdf is a road-going Ferrari with features that have been engineered to allow less experienced motorists to enjoy its full performance.
The V12 engine develops 574 kW with torque at 705 Nm and sits way up in the rev-range at 6750 rpm resulting in an engine that likes to be revved hard, rewarding those that can find a road long enough.
Ferrari adds significant mechanical changes in the big V12 such as mechanical tappets in place of hydraulic versions and variable inlet trumpets as found in Formula 1 cars. According to Ferrari the alterations allow the V12 to rev to 8900 rpm.
Of interest as well as the staggering zero to 100 km/h time of 2.9 seconds, the zero to 200 km/h is over in 7.9 seconds. Top speed is “in excess of 340 km/h.
Transmission is through a seven-speed F1 DCT dual-clutch transmission has been optimized with six percent shorter gear ratios and operates 30 percent faster when shifting up and 40 percent quicker downshifting.
Brakes are ultra-light carbon-ceramic rotors with one-piece calipers.
Just 799 of the enhanced F12s will be offered worldwide and the first example will make its public debut at the Finali Mondiali Ferrari Challenge race meeting from November 5.


Anyone for a Ranger Raptor?

Ford F-150 Raptor.

The American high performance pick-up F-150 has a version at the top of the tree called the Raptor, and there is public interest in building one on the Ford Ranger. Great name which will get everyone’s imagination going, and a much better name than Wildtrak. Rumor has it that it will be released as a Raptor in 2019, and I would imagine that it would be built here in Thailand.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what company came out with FWD first? It was DKW with a transverse engine and FWD in 1931.
So to this week. What car is this? 4000 built with production ceasing in 1974, mid-engined, and the mascot on the fuel filler cap.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Update October 14, 2015

Ford Focus RS

Focus RS.

Ford has released the details on the new Focus RS, showing it is the proverbial rocket ship with four wheel drive, turbocharged 2.3 engine, around 350 bhp, six speed manual gearbox and zero to 100 km/h under five seconds.
The transmission has a torque-vectoring function, with twin electronically controlled clutch packs on either side of the rear drive unit. In addition to managing front-to-rear torque distribution - up to 70 percent of the output can be sent to the rear axle - the clutch packs can divert power from side to side across the rear axle. Under cornering, most of the torque is sent to the outer rear wheel to help turn-in and reduce understeer, with Ford also promising - and this is in the official release “the ability to achieve controlled oversteer drifts at the track.” That is the result produced by having Ken Block as their consultant.
It sounds impossible, but Ford is claiming a figure of more than 1.0 G lateral force being possible with the sticky Pirelli’s and 19” wheels.
Undoubtedly the boy racer’s dream. Hopefully there will be one on the Ford Stand at the Bangkok International Motor Show in March next year.


When should you change your car?

 Always a tricky question. When should you change your car? Many factors to be taken into account, such as do you buy in December when the run-out of the year produces bargains, but on the other side of the coin, one month later in January the car is “last years” and superseded. And to add to the problems, the “new” car you buy in January might be log booked December of the previous year.
You should also take into account when is the next model of your car going to be released, thus forcing down the value of your car, then being a “run-out” model.
Courtesy of the Thailand Auto Book here are some dates for the new models:
2016: Accord, March, Civic
2017: Brio, Jazz, City, CRV, Camry
2018: Commuter, HiAce, D-Max, Lancer, Almera, Sylphy, Accord, Brio/Amaze
2019: Vios, Yaris, Mirage, Pulsar, Teana, Jazz
2020: Corolla, X-Trail
Looking at that list, for example it would indicate an upgrade of the Accord next year and also of the Nissan March. It would also look as if Vios and Corolla are going to stay the same for a while, so could be a good buy next year.


This is ridiculous

S/C V8 Wagon.

Motoring mate in Australia has sent me the details on the latest station wagon from General Motors – Holden. With GMH winding down manufacturing in Australia, management has been looking at ways to ensure they are not left with a pile of unsalable Holden Commodores. One way is to make limited run models so that they can sell all of them.
Enter the HSV (Holden Special Vehicles) Clubsport LSA wagon that can reach 100 km/h from a standing start in just 4.8 seconds. A station wagon “supercar” if you like, that can carry a complete family, the week’s groceries and stay up with a slow Porsche. Holden’s performance-car partner Holden Special Vehicles has fitted a supercharged V8 to the shopping trolley.
It is the fastest and most powerful family wagon ever made in Australia. There is just one catch. At close to A$90,000 on the road, it is also the most expensive locally-made family wagon.
And it also has a screen with detailed maps of every racetrack in Australia built into its navigation system, to accurately measure lap times for anyone who does weekend track days.
That is weekend track days for you, Mum and the kids, and make sure the eggs are tied down nicely. Ridiculous!


Additional VW fall-out

The VW diesel scandal will affect more than just sales at the dealerships, but the Australian industry watchers are predicting 10 percent falls in the used values and leasing residuals.
Residual values (before scandal/after scandal)
Volkswagen Passat Wagon 130TDI Highline
New Car Price $46,990
3 yr Residual (before) 46 percent
Value in 3 yrs (before) $21,612
3 yr Residual (after) 36 percent
Value in 3 yrs (after) $16,916
Loss $4696
This will produce problems for those with a leased diesel who as per the table above, were expecting a minimum of $21,000 for their vehicle, but if the residual is only $16,000 they may be paying $5,000 to the financiers just to get out of the lease.
New cars on the dealership floor will see the prices that they can get from the buying public are falling as well, depressing the second hand market even further.
Head office has begun a cost-cutting program, getting ready for the billions of dollars VW will have to pay to correct the diesel vehicles, plus fines.
What I have not seen commented on is “why” did they get around the emissions test? My belief is that to have the engines comply, this lowered the performance of the engine. So what is going to happen when they “correct” the ECU? My guess is that the owners will find their cars do not perform as well as they did.
Now while VW is being held up as the ‘criminal’ in this case, I am quite sure they are not the only manufacturer fudging results. Expect more in the next few weeks.


US GP this weekend

USGP.

The American F1 GP is being held at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas. Unfortunately, with the time differential between Texas and Thailand, the Grand Prix is telecast here at the uncivilized time of 2 a.m. Yes, two in the morning, so I, like you, will be consulting the internet after arising on the Monday.
The Americans have gone the way of Singapore, making the weekend an “event”. Their PR blurb reads, “Kick your senses into overdrive at the Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas. See the world’s most sophisticated and glamorous motorsport, smell the tire smoke, taste the cuisine of Austin, TX, hear the roar of the crowd, and feel the exhilaration that can only be found at the U.S. home of Formula 1.” (I was expecting to read “the roar of the grease paint and the smell of the crowd” but no, but everything else, including Elton John.)
This will be the fourth F1 GP at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA). The circuit is 5.5 km long and is made up of twenty turns with an elevation change of 41 m. According to COTA, the final plan of the circuit was released on September 1, 2010, showing a design inspired by the European tradition of sculpting the circuit to the contours of the land. The design draws from several European F1 circuits, including a recreation of Silverstone's Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel sequence, Hockenheim’s arena bends, and a replica of Istanbul's Turn Eight. Other corners were loosely inspired by the Senna ‘S’ at Interlagos and the Österreichring's Sebring-Auspuffkurve. A feature of the circuit is a deliberate widening of corners, to encourage drivers to follow multiple racing lines, which did seem to work in last year’s GP.
The circuit runs counter-clockwise, the others being Marina Bay, the Korea International Circuit, Yas Marina, and Interlagos.
From the start line, the cars will climb to the first corner - the highest point of the circuit - with the apex of the corner positioned on the crest of the hill. They will descend back down the hill to navigate a series of fast sweepers modeled on Silverstone's Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel complex and through a blind corner at Turn 10, taking them to the far end of the circuit and a hairpin at Turn 11. The cars will then follow a 1.00 km straight back towards the pit and paddock area before entering the final sector of the lap and weaving through a series of corners modeled on Hockenheim's stadium section. This will be followed by a downhill, multi-apex corner with limited run-off before the final two corners of the circuit, a pair of left-hand bends that return the cars to the main straight.
Despite influences by Herr Tilke, the circuit did see passing and last year it was Rosberg (Mercedes) on pole, but beaten in the race by team mate Hamilton, with Ricciardo (Red Bull) in third, but a long way behind. I expect the same this year, but substitute Vettel (Ferrari) in third.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what year did the Corvette Stingray come out? Hint, think hard, it revolves around the name! Some background. The Corvette story revolves around Zora Arkus-Duntov, a Belgian who grew up in Russia and studied in Germany before moving to the USA, where he designed the Ardun cylinder heads for Ford V8s. He then joined Chevrolet and began improving the basic design and ‘his’ first Stingray came out in 1969, with the body designed by Bill Mitchell, who succeeded Harley Earl as the GM stylist. The combination of Mitchell and Arkus-Duntov produced a stunning car, capable of over 240 km/h in a head-turning body.
So to the question: the Stingray answer was 1969 as before then the cars were known as Sting Rays.
So to this week. Front Wheel Drive (FWD) was actually the name of the street in Brisbane Australia where the British Leyland factory was situated. These days, almost every car has FWD, so which company came out with FWD first?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] Good luck!


Update October 17, 2015

Future changes and effects

GM’s Volt.

The world is heading inexorably towards ‘drive themselves’ cars, now called ‘autonomous’ vehicles, that will take you where you wish to go, and in safety, it is claimed.
The technology is quite simple, where the vehicle takes on board ‘messages’ from other cars, pedestrians, traffic lights, dogs and drunks on the roads and the on-board computer center has control of the autonomous vehicle, taking into consideration all external factors to avoid any accident or incident.
Ford, for example has self-parking technology, which owners are very slowly coming to accept. Autonomous driving is merely an extension of that.
Promising a boots and all approach, Mary Barra indicates GM wants to redefine the future of personal mobility, and doing so will transform the company.
“It really demonstrates a different mindset than what you might expect from the auto industry, really a Silicon Valley mindset,” she told investors and analysts Thursday at GM’s Global Business Conference. “We’re going to step things up. We’re going to experiment, we’re going to get customer input, we’re going to do it in a cost-effective way. If it works, we’re going to scale it.”
Barra plans to use a test fleet of Volts to more quickly develop autonomous vehicles as it moves testing from professional drivers and test tracks into more real-world scenarios.
Self-driving cars are seen in the long run as potentially disruptive to auto industry sales. Shared autonomous cars could displace nine regular cars. The prediction is that carmakers such as GM may have to slash production and get smaller.


Bathurst – the automotive Melbourne Cup

Vauxhall.

The UK has its Grand National, the US has the Superbowl and the Kentucky Derby and Australia has the Melbourne Cup. These countries stop for those national events, which take precedence over anything else, be that work or play. At 2 p.m. in Australia when the Melbourne Cup horse race commences in November, the roads are deserted as everyone huddles around a TV set somewhere. It may as well be a national holiday.
However, in the great sunburned land Down Under there is another national event and it is just known as “Bathurst”, but spoken with a reverence, as it is the Superbowl of auto racing in Australia.
The Bathurst race began as a 500 mile event in 1960, but these days, with metrification, is now 1,000 km around the longest and most demanding circuit in Australia, which for almost 12 months is public roads, but closed for the weekend in October. For Australian motor racing enthusiasts, Bathurst is the Holy Grail, and pilgrimages to the sleepy New South Wales country town are a right of passage.
Going back to the 1960 event, which was for showroom stock vehicles, it was won by a Vauxhall Cresta, the first time a Vauxhall had won anything since around 1924, so it was something to celebrate. The car that came second was a Peugeot 403 followed by even less of a racing car – a Simca Aronde.
By 1963 there were 41 finishers at Bathurst, and by 1966 Bathurst had attracted an international flavour with the three works Morris Cooper S giant killers coming in 1-2-3.
But in 1962, with everyone talking about Bathurst, I decided that I should go too.
There were only two major problems, firstly I was a starving medical student at that time and had no money, and secondly the only car I had was a very tired 1949 MGTC, which certainly would not make the 1000 km trip to Bathurst, let alone get home again. But I wanted to go, so I hatched a plan.
I knew of a 1953 Ford Customline for sale for 50 Aussie pounds. A bit run down, in need of some tyres, but it was cheap enough that I could buy it without having to sell my grandmother to a Turkish trader. However, by the time I got the money together it was the Thursday before the race weekend. This was cutting it fine, but all I had to do next was get some tyres.
Les, one of the enthusiasts, worked for a tyre company, and said he would supply the tyres if he could have a free ride with us. Agreed. Mind you, it was a trifle worrying that he insisted we bring the Customline around after hours with the lights extinguished.
But by Thursday night I had a car which (hopefully) would make Bathurst, sitting on four secondhand tyres which had cost me nothing. About the same price that Les had paid for them, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Now the old side-valve V8 Customlines were not known as being thrifty, and I could see that fuel was going to be our next problem. But Customlines were huge and would easily take six people, so Les and I began canvassing for another four financially secure souls, who would bear the cost of the fuel there and back.
As “Bathurst” was on everyone’s lips, it turned out fairly easy to get the four financials and the Customline was headed towards Bathurst from my home in Brisbane.
The weather did not smile on us as we came to the first mountain range and it was necessary to turn on the windscreen wipers. It was then we discovered a slight design fault in 1953 Ford Customlines. They had a vacuum operated system for the wipers. When on a trailing throttle and the vacuum was at its maximum, the wipers would go ten to the dozen, but when you depressed the accelerator the vacuum would decrease and wipers would just sit there, stuck to the screen, and no use at all as a device to clear water off the windscreen.
And so we made it to Bathurst by the Saturday night, but naturally, had no place to stay, and Bathurst, on the top of the Blue Mountains is bitterly cold at night. We tried staying in a café until the owner threw us out as he wanted some sleep too. Six in the Customline was too much of a squeeze, so I ended up sleeping on the ‘welcome’ mat of the Bathurst City Hall. I don’t think the city fathers probably meant that kind of welcome.
We saw the races and left on the Sunday afternoon for the 1000 km drive back, powering through the night, taking turns at the wheel. One of the great adventures that a young lad could have, and still fun on which to reminisce.


Sochi’s Demolition Derby

The F1 circus’ second time in Sochi was remarkable for the number of retirements, with seven drivers not making it to the checkered flag. It was not remarkable, however, that Championship leader Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) was out front all on his own after his team mate Nico Rosberg had his go pedal break underfoot.
In Japan, Hamilton complained that he did not get enough television exposure, and Sochi was the same with much activity mid-field which was far more interesting than Hamilton’s solo drive. However, we did get plenty of Hamilton’s contrived adoration of his car in the parc ferme.
Realistically Rosberg cannot take the lead in the title chase. He has a ‘mathematical’ chance which has as much likelihood of happening as I am of being visited by the tooth fairy. Hamilton has the championship in the bag and will celebrate by buying a rope of gold so heavy he will need assistance to get it over his head. (I was going to write “swollen” head, but changed my mind after thinking about the legions of Hamilton fans out there.)
Second, but a long way back, was Ferrari number 1 Sebastian Vettel who drove another faultless race. The same could not be said about Ferrari number 2 Kimi Raikkonen who indulged in a biff and bash attempt at passing Valtteri Bottas (Williams) on the last lap. Kimi claimed, “It’s an unfortunate thing for us and for them, nobody wants to have an accident even if it’s part of racing. It’s really a shame, but my move was based on a good chance and not something completely crazy.” No, Kimi, only 99 percent crazy, for which the stewards gave you a 30 second penalty dropping you down to 8th.
The lucky ‘winner’ from the Finnish fisticuffs was Perez in the second FIndia who skirted past the Raikkonen nonsense to claim the final podium position.
Coming from way down in the boonies, Felipe Massa (Williams) did a good job to be 4th, moving up in the order after Bottas’ forcible removal.
Home town hero Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull) kept his nose out of trouble for a well deserved 5th place, whilst his team mate Daniel Ricciardo chalked up another DNF for the troubled Red Bull team. However, this was a suspension failure for a change from the Renault power plant.
Other teams in trouble included “Lotus” with Romain Grosjean who effectively destroyed his car with a solid whack on the fences, but amazingly, his team mate Mayhem Maldonado completed another race without hitting anything, fixed or mobile.
The Honda McLarens both finished (nowhere)! Another red letter day!
It seems that every Grand Prix I point out that you don’t win the race at the first corner – you only lose the race at the first corner. This time they got as far as the second corner with Hulkenberg (FIndia) spinning and being collected by Ericsson (Sauber). I expect better from Hulkenberg, to be honest. These days he is a very well experienced driver. He should know better.
Crash of the weekend was that of Carlos Sainz who walked away from a 46G impact on the Saturday that showed just how safe the cars and barriers are these days.
The next GP is from America on October 25.


Updated provisional 2016 F1 calendar

March 20: Australian GP
April 3: Bahrain GP
April 17: Chinese GP
May 1: Russian GP
May 15: Spanish GP
May 29: Monaco GP
June 12: Canadian GP
June 19: European GP (Azerbaijan)
July 3: Austrian GP
July 10: British GP
July 24: Hungarian GP
July 31: German GP
August 28: Belgian GP
September 4: Italian GP
September 18: Singapore GP
October 2: Malaysia GP
October 9: Japanese GP
October 23: United States GP
November 6: Mexican GP
November 13: Brazilian GP
November 27: Abu Dhabi GP
So there we are, 21 Grands Prix for 2016


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what was remarkable about the clutch pedal on the Chaparral 2D? The answer was that it didn’t have a clutch pedal as it was an auto. The left pedal worked the rear wing.
So to this week. What year did the Corvette Stingray come out? Hint, think hard, it revolves around the name! Some background. The Corvette story revolves around Zora Arkus-Duntov, a Belgian who grew up in Russia and studied in Germany before moving to the USA, where he designed the Ardun cylinder heads for Ford V8s. He then joined Chevrolet and began improving the basic design and ‘his’ first Stingray came out in 1969, with the body designed by Bill Mitchell, who succeeded Harley Earl as the GM stylist. The combination of Mitchell and Arkus-Duntov produced a stunning car, capable of over 240 km/h in a head-turning body.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] Good luck!


Update October 10, 2015

Russian GP this weekend (Pycckaya Fopmyla 1)

Sochi F1.

The newest F1 race on the 2014 calendar was the inaugural GP on the Sochi Autodrom (hence my impeccable Russian at the start of this article). A 5,853 km lap and the race held over 53 laps, and this is the second time of running of this GP.
The circuit is in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi in Krasnodar Krai, Russia. The circuit is similar to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and the Sydney Olympic Park Circuit in that it will run around a venue used for Olympic competition; in this case, the Sochi Olympic Park site, scene of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. The inaugural race was the first year of a seven-year contract and is the third longest circuit on the F1 calendar, behind Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and Silverstone in the UK.
The new track at Sochi showed last time out that it is very smooth, is kind on tyres, and is a typical Tilke track which does not encourage passing. It was compared to Valencia by commentators, and we all know what a bore-fest Valencia is.
I believe Qualifying is on Saturday at 6 p.m. Thai time, and the race is 6 p.m. on the Sunday (again Thai time).
We will be watching from our perches at Jameson’s Irish Pub (Soi AR, next to Nova Park) and even though the racing commences at 6 p.m. join us around 5 p.m. for dinner (I do recommend the roasts), and a beer and a chat before the race begins. We watch on the giant screen!


Supercars

Dodge Viper.

After meeting up with the people at Europa Auto Service (www.europa-auto.expert) and looking at the supercars in their workshop, made me reminisce over some of the supercars I have had the good fortune to drive over the years.
I did manage an afternoon with a Cobra 289 at the Surfers Paradise Race Circuit. That was a real 289, just as Carroll Shelby put it together. Sheer brute horsepower and a race track to play in. What an afternoon.
I did manage to get a steer of a 351 Cobra as well, but this was a replica. However the excitement was real! Big Ford V8 up front and more horses than the rear axle could safely handle. Unfortunately the owner tried shortening it against a brick wall.
I have driven a Lambo, and it was the Diablo. My test of this vehicle was held on the old Brisbane Airport runway and we clocked 150 mph (240 kays) while filming the speedometer, just to prove the point. That day we also had a Porsche Carrera as a comparison test and we could let it go half way down the airstrip before we let the Lambo loose, and the Diablo was always first at the other end, at a speed by which stage Boeing 747’s would be airborne. The Diablo was an incredible supercar. It was also quite horrible to drive, other than accelerating at speed, during which the engine note just grew until I described it as “aural orgasm”. I also stated that no woman, Russian shot putters excluded, would have been able to depress the clutch. The reason for the raging bull insignia was, I felt then, that you had to be as strong as an ox to drive one!
I have driven most Porsche models, old and new, and have to say that the most exciting of them all was the 1973 2.7 liter RS Carrera. Those early Porsches were not easy cars to drive. The tail end was always nervous if you were at all tentative as you approached a corner. Full throttle produced understeer. Trailing throttle produced oversteer in prodigious amounts. It was not difficult to go through hedges backwards, as many an early Porsche punter was to find.
I also raced an RS, and it was a very exciting race car as well as being one of the fastest ‘real’ road cars as well.
When Dodge in the USA released their mighty V10 engined Viper, this was another exotic that caught my attention. I was given a Viper to play with at the Lakeside circuit in Australia. This was today’s answer to the 427 Cobra of 30 years previous. Just a big bathtub filled with brute horsepower that you steered with the right hand go pedal. The steering wheel was not needed. It was not a car that required 100 percent concentration, or neatness, like driving the Lamborghini or the Porsche. This was a car that you threw at the corner and caught it as you came out the other side, and just stabbed the accelerator again to propel you with an almighty roar to the next corner. It took about a week to get rid of the smile from my face.
There have been others, such as an Aston Martin DB9, numerous Ferraris and Maseratis and even an F5000 Lola T430, but for the sheer lazy thump in the kidneys and the feeling of endless power, the prize goes to America. I could live with a Dodge Viper. In fact I’d rather have a Dodge Viper in the garage than Scarlett Johansson in the bedroom. The mark of a real enthusiast!


What would you pay for an old Harley?

Rare Harley.

Shannons auctions in Australia has just sold a circa-1927 FHA 8-Valve V-Twin racer, complete with sidecar. Early 20th Century Harley Davidson motorcycles are rare enough items in themselves, but the one sold last week was one of only around 50 made by Harley Davidson.
This example had been stored in a barn for 50 years and the racing outfit sold at auction for USD 420,000, an Australian auction record.


Some “real” racing

Retro racing.

The FIA, Bernie, Uncle Tom Cobblers and all should watch videos taken at the Goodwood Revival. Features you never see in today’s F1 such as drivers working hard in the cockpit, cars sliding on opposite lock, cars able to run beside each other.
Go to https://www.youtube .com/watch?v=YbvPhxFw 0XA and also go to https://grrc.goodwood.com/goodwood-revival/video-on-board-with-nick-swift-mini-versus-alfa-race-long- battle#x61gKF6dS4 pg05wm.97
The closest we have to that era of racing is the Retro Cars promoted by the Nitto 3K group. This is for cars built before 1985 so includes the BMW E30, Ford Escort, Ford Cortina, Alfa Romeo, Toyota Corolla AE 86 and other Toyotas and Japanese marques and a number of others. There’s even a few Fiats and VW’s. There are enough cars to make for full grids. Full grids means racing all the way through the field. If there are a couple of cars very much faster, then a reverse grid race is always fun for the driver and great for the spectator.
Let’s try and get some of these old race cars out of the sheds they are hiding in.


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 October 12 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. A couple of the members are scrutineers at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, so they may have some scuttlebutt about the F1 scene, and one is just back from driving around Australia towing a caravan! Always a fun night. Be prepared to laugh a lot at some of the antics of the members (when they were younger)! The Car Club nights are only on the second Monday of the month (not every second Monday)!


Leaving no tern unstoned

The embattled VW group has confirmed that Porsche chairman Matthias Mueller will take command of the group that is under fire from all sides.
Matthias Mueller, 62, has been in VW management group since 1978, including Audi, Seat and Lamborghini.
He succeeds Martin Winterkorn, who fell on his sword last Wednesday in the wake of the worsening scandal that affects approximately 11 million VW-built diesel passenger cars in the world-wide emissions broo-ha-ha.
Mueller has released a statement, “My most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group – by leaving no stone unturned and with maximum transparency, as well as drawing the right conclusions from the current situation.”
“Under my leadership, Volkswagen will do everything it can to develop and implement the most stringent compliance and governance standards in our industry.”
With the cost of recalls being in billions of dollars, and projected fines from the US regulating authorities also in the billions, it is no small wonder than VW shares have plummeted.
Volkswagen Group deputy chairman of the supervisory board Berthold Huber said: “The test manipulations are a moral and political disaster for Volkswagen. The unlawful behavior of engineers and technicians involved in engine development shocked Volkswagen just as much as it shocked the public. We can only apologize and ask our customers, the public, the authorities and our investors to give us a chance to make amends.”


Autotrivia Quiz

 Last week I asked what was remarkable about the clutch pedal on the Chaparral 2D which won the 1000 km race at Nurburgring in 1966? Another trick question I’m afraid. The Chaparral 2D had an automatic gear box, so no clutch pedal.
So to this week. The Lotus 70 (“real” Lotus) had inboard front brakes. What was the first racing car to have this type of braking before the Lotus?
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]


Update October 3, 2015

VW finds itself in bother

“Clean” VW.

The popular press has been all agog with the news that VW has been fudging the pollution tests for its diesel variants. The venom that is coming forward is just one level below burning at the stake, or hanging, drawing and quartering.
A couple of weeks ago I commented on the fact that Dr Winterkorn was involved in an internal power struggle with former chairman Ferdinand Piech, the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche and patriarch of the Porsche family which owns 51 percent of voting rights at Volkswagen. Dr. Piech lost that vote and now must be laughing as Dr Winterkorn has to face the baying press and politicians.
But is this angst warranted? One of the regulars at the Pattaya Car Club meetings, Chris Davison, has responded to the calls for blood with what I believe is a very valid argument. Chris asserts: “If (stupid) politicians and bureaucrats come up with unnecessary hoops for engineers to jump through then you cannot be surprised if the clever people who really ‘make the world go round’ find ways to fool the idiots.
“More strength to VW in this case.
“There is nothing so petty as a minor bureaucrat who finds that his ‘own’ little regulation has been bypassed. VW devised a system to exploit the ‘rules’, their vehicles passed the compulsory test as and when required. The engineers gave the car the ‘software’ to pass the mandated tests as well as give proper performance out on the road. The test-passing mapping of the engine would probably render the vehicle undriveable in proper conditions.
“All the fuss is mere ‘bureaucratic pique’ that their petty regulations were bypassed.
“And when you get to ‘pique noise’ you realize that you have reached the pettiest end of the bureaucratic spectrum. The treasury will by crying into their beer at the thought of the ‘Green Taxes’ they have missed! My heart bleeds for them (NOT).
“It is well known that the official tests have no valid relationship to actual ‘on-the-road’ conditions. This is regularly commented on in various places and has been since ‘Official’ tests were introduced and their results published for ‘Public Information’, so no one should be surprised when real life does not match up to political cloud-cuckoo land.
“Politicians are rarely engineers or scientists so should have no input into engineering matters.”
Thank you Chris. When one starts looking objectively, the accusatory finger may be pointed at the wrong sources. Air pollutants originate from many human activities. Most pollutants come from industries that manufacture chemicals and other goods, from on- and off-road vehicles and power equipment, and from energy facilities that burn oil, gas or coal. However, like car taxes, the motor car is a sitting duck for the pollution crusaders and the regulators with their arbitrary allowable emission levels.
VW has indeed broached the regulations, but are the “allowable” levels really sensible? Or did some politician toss a coin in the air?


Will we be driving an Apple?

Apple Car.

Brandon Bailey, Associated Press
San Francisco - Apple is speeding up work on a project that could lead to the California tech giant building its own electric car, according to a new report.
The maker of iPhones and iPads is tripling the number of engineers on the project, code-named Titan, and has set a “ship date” of 2019, the Wall Street Journal said Monday. The newspaper said that could just be a target for engineers to sign off on the design, not necessarily when a car would be available for sale.
Apple declined comment Monday on the Journal report, which cited unidentified sources.
While Apple has never officially confirmed it plans to build a car, there are strong indications it’s at least interested in automotive technology. Apple has hired a number of engineers with backgrounds in automotive and battery design.
Apple representatives also met in May with officials at an automotive testing facility east of San Francisco. Site officials later confirmed to the Associated Press that Apple requested information about using their facility.
And last month, an Apple attorney met with officials at California’s Department of Motor Vehicles to discuss the state’s rules for self-driving cars. A department spokesman confirmed that meeting to the Associated Press on Monday, after it was reported by the Guardian newspaper.
“DMV often meets with various companies regarding DMV operations. The Apple meeting was to review DMV’s autonomous vehicle regulations,” said Armando Botello, the agency’s deputy director, in an email.
A number of automakers and tech companies, including Google and Uber, are working on technology for autonomous and electric-powered vehicles. Google announced last week that it’s hired former Hyundai U.S. CEO John Krafcik to run its self-driving car program.
Analysts say Apple has the financial resources and ambition to design and build a high-end vehicle, although some believe it’s more likely interested in developing software for use in cars made by other companies.
“We believe the auto industry represents a significant opportunity for Apple, but we also expect Apple to be deliberate as always in its product development and testing,” said Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster in a Sept. 1 report.


What did we learn from the Japan GP?

Well, we learned that the man who can beat Nico Rosberg is Nico Rosberg. After fluffing the start in his Mercedes, slipping from pole to number four, he was never in the hunt for the top step of the podium. The body language standing on the second step on the podium said it all. A broken man. He can forget about world championship aspirations.
A worthy winner was Rosberg’s team mate Lewis Hamilton. After the first two corners, he ran away and hid. However, I am a little tired of the adulation he is receiving for having equaled Ayrton Senna’s 41 GP victories. Senna was killed before he could add to his total. Even Vettel has 42 wins, and neither one is anywhere near Schumacher’s 90 odd.
The start once again demonstrated the old adage that you do not win the race at the first corner, you only lose the race at the first corner. Felipe Massa (Williams), who has had more races than I have had hot dinners, should know that by now, and Ricciardo should also know this. Two drivers who could have livened up the action at the front of the field let themselves, their teams, and the spectators, down.
Vettel, of the one fingered salute, had to wave with three, but deserved his third place. Never gave up and drove the Ferrari in a faultless manner.
Raikkonen was unimpressive in the second Ferrari coming in fourth. Kimi has signed his contract for 2016, so he can go back to sleep again.
Valtteri Bottas (fifth in the surviving Williams), was unable to maintain his position as a challenger to Rosberg and was passed by the Ferraris, after looking secure in the early part of the race.
Another workmanlike drive from Nico Hulkenberg (FIndia) saw him lead both the “Lotus” of Grosjean and Maldonado home. An amazing drive from the Venezuelan who never hit anything, or anyone, all afternoon (for a change).
The final point scorers were the Toro Rosso twins, the feisty Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jnr. Verstappen, in particular, is willing to have a go and pulled off some amazing passing maneuvers including an audacious one on his team mate. The impetuousness of youth?
The also-rans included both Red Bulls, with Kvyat suffering from a lack of set-up on his Sunday car, having comprehensively destroyed his Saturday one, and Ricciardo trying to do the same to his on the Sunday. Much rumor as to which power unit Red Bull will have for next year. Mercedes has said no, Ferrari are reluctant, Renault nobody wants and Honda can’t even give theirs away for free. The concept of Red Bull being bought by VW just went up in a puff of smoke, leaving Red Bull in the hands of Dietrich Mateschitz, who is publicly bored with the F1 scene (if he’s not winning). Watch this space.
After Honda was roundly chastised in Japan at the Honda circuit by both its drivers, with Alonso even repeating “It’s embarrassing,” there would have been at least a dozen Hara-Kiri mats and disemboweling swords ordered for Monday. It is almost impossible to believe that the mighty Honda engineering department can make an engine so far down on power that neither Alonso nor Button could prevent being passed by cars that are usually back markers.
The next GP is in Russia on October 11.


Borgward resurrected

German car-maker Borgward has made the next step in its comeback to the automotive world after more than half a century away, with the unveiling last week of its BX7 SUV.
A plug-in electric hybrid version and an up-spec TS luxury version will be part of the brand’s return to the global automotive market next year, with hopes of selling vehicles to the European region, as well as in China where the cars are set to be built.
The venture, reportedly backed by Chinese commercial vehicle-maker Foton, has lofty goals of selling more than half a million vehicles and expanding the range beyond SUVs.
Borgward CEO Ulrich Walker said the target was to turn the brand – resurrected by Christian Borgward, president of Borgward AG and grandson of founder Carl F W Borgward – into a major international automobile manufacturer.


Autotrivia Quiz

Protos.

Last week I mentioned that the quest for lightness is easily found in Formula racing. In 1966 there was even one with a stressed skin plywood hull. What was it? It was the 1966 Protos open wheel racer.
So to this week. What was remarkable about the clutch pedal on the Chaparral 2D which won the 1000 km race at Nurburgring in 1966?
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Mexican GP this weekend

Any experience with waterless coolant?

What did we learn from the US GP?

The first Toyota

Ferrari F12tdf

Anyone for a Ranger Raptor?

Autotrivia Quiz


Ford Focus RS

When should you change your car?

This is ridiculous

Additional VW fall-out

US GP this weekend

Autotrivia Quiz


Future changes and effects

Bathurst – the automotive Melbourne Cup

Sochi’s Demolition Derby

Updated provisional 2016 F1 calendar

Autotrivia Quiz


Russian GP this weekend (Pycckaya Fopmyla 1)

Supercars

What would you pay for an old Harley?

Some “real” racing

Natter Nosh and Noggin

Leaving no tern unstoned

Autotrivia Quiz


VW finds itself in bother

Will we be driving an Apple?

What did we learn from the Japan GP?

Borgward resurrected

Autotrivia Quiz