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Update November 2015


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Update November 28, 2015

Abu Dhabi GP this weekend

Abu Dhabi.

The Abu Dhabi Yas Marina grand prix circuit hosts the GP this weekend. Abu Dhabi is the most oil-rich in the region and the 5.55 kilometer Yas Marina Circuit has been built using the motorists’ money, extracted at the petrol pumps. Roll on electric power! It was also one of the most boring race tracks in living history and has been universally christened ‘Yawn’ Marina.
Located on Yas Island, the PR blurb said the track was set to revolutionize the design of future Formula One circuits. Boasting top speeds of 320 km/h and average speeds of 198 km/h, it features nine right turns and 11 left turns and is one of the few venues on the calendar to run in an anti-clockwise direction.
It was designed by circuit architect Hermann Tilke (so need I say more), and Yas Marina has a waterfront setting scenic enough to rival the likes of Monaco and Valencia, complete with a hotel that even changes color, but was just as boring as the former pair of venues.
All of the grandstands, including the massive hairpin seating area, are covered to protect spectators from the desert sun, whilst the state-of-the-art pit building boasts 40 garages.
As well as the waterside marina area, there are high-speed sections, tight corners for overtaking, and even a twisty street circuit-style sector. However, none of this prevents Yas (Yawn) Marina from being boring if the F1 cars cannot pass each other.
In an effort to boost the Abu Dhabi GP, our Bernie, the patron saint of dwarfs, dreamed up the concept of double points for the last year’s meeting, a system universally disliked, with even Bernie admitting it wasn’t such a bright idea! No double points this year!
The race will start at 8 p.m. Thai time Sunday (also 8 p.m. Saturday for Qualifying), and I will be getting to Jameson’s Irish Pub around 7 p.m. for a bite to eat (Sunday roast is great value) and a glass or two. Come and join us for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which we watch on the big screen. Despite the fact that all the championships have been run and won, it will be interesting to see how young Verstappen handles a circuit which history says does not allow passing.


SAIC pledges expansion for MG

MG GS.

SAIC Motor Corporation, has embarked on an aggressive global sales and manufacturing plan, promising a full range of passenger and commercial vehicles to tackle the world’s automotive giants head on. However, there is no mention of a sports car or even a convertible, forgetting that open air motoring was what made MG great.
International business executive director Yang Xiaodong for MG/SAIC said, “We want a global footprint, with international operations, global competitiveness and global brand image. We also have a very aggressive plan for the next five years. So, in future, we will be very aggressive on the footprint in terms of design center investment, manufacturing and also the local marketing.”
SAIC plans to relaunch with two models – the mid-sized MG6 and light MG3 hatch – in March 2016, followed in the third quarter by the new MG GS mid-sized SUV that the company expects will be its biggest seller globally.
So far, progress has been modest, with, for example, just 2500 MG vehicles sold last year in the UK where SAIC retains the MG design and engineering operations along with a small CKD (completely knocked down) assembly plant for MG6.
At least two more SUVs are planned for the MG line-up – one either side of the new GS that was SAIC’s star of the motor show in Dubai where the Chinese company has just opened its Middle East base.
Yang said SAIC’s new factory in Thailand would be the manufacturing base for right-hand drive vehicles for markets such as Australia.
But he said initial shipments of MGs would come from China until the Thai plant was ready to take over RHD production some time in the next five years.
Sports/convertibles are not on the future list, with Yang saying that previous such MGs, including the MG F that the company built for a while in England after it took control of MG Rover in 2005, had mainly appealed to “senior people”. “We want to redesign MG to be more fashionable, more dynamic, with more passion,” he said.
“This includes new-energy vehicle, automatic (driving) vehicle, internet vehicle and traditional vehicles,” he said. However, this did not include luxury vehicles.
Quite frankly I do not envy Mr. Yang. MG was a known brand that British Leyland sank, but the sports cars were identifiable. These “new” MG’s are just the same as everything else these days. They will only sell on price, and not anything else.


New “911” returns to turbo

 

New 911.

After many years of naturally-aspirated power Porsche has returned to turbocharging with the latest 911 Carrera and its more sporting Carrera S sibling with even greater reserves along with vastly better fuel economy than ever before.
At 3.0 liters, the new six-cylinder has a smaller capacity than the naturally-aspirated 3.4 liter and 3.8 liter engines it replaces. This new engine has twin fixed vane turbochargers (like the RUF Porsches of decades ago). Power and torque are both increased, with the basic 911 running a nominal 0.9 bar of boost pressure in the rear-mounted powerplant which delivers 272 kW of power and 450 Nm of torque. With 1.2 bar of boost pressure, in the 911 Carrera S produces 309 kW and 500 Nm of torque.
Torque comes in at 1700 rpm compared to the 5600 rpm of the old engine, leading to a promise of improved flexibility.
Transmission is either a seven speed manual gearbox or an optional seven speed dual clutch gearbox, along with either standard rear wheel drive or optional four wheel drive in respective Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S models.
When fitted with an optional Sports Chrono Package, the new 911 Carrera and Carrera S also now offer five different driving modes: Normal, Sport, Sport Plus, Individual and Sport Response – the latter available exclusively in combination with the optional seven speed dual clutch gearbox.
Although the new Carrera S is 45 kg heavier than the old model, at 1460 kg with the optional dual-clutch ‘box, Porsche claims the car is 0.2 sec faster from 0 to 100 km/h, with a time of 3.9 seconds. Top speed is also 4 km/h more to a new maximum of 306 km/h.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I gave you an easy one all about a driver, the America’s Cup, Egypt and a camel, and asked who was this famous driver associated with all these things? It was Tommy Sopwith whose father competed in the America’s Cup. Egypt? He raced cars called the Sphinx and his family built the Sopwith Camel planes.
So to this week. Who is this? Patent holder for electrical control systems judged to be 70 years ahead of his time. Designer of one of the world’s best motor cars. Holder of the WLSR. So who is it?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Update November 22, 2015

Bira races this weekend

The Mighty TBX Mk1 Escort.

The local Bira circuit is the venue for a packed motor racing schedule this weekend. This ranges from “club” style racing (run what you brung) to some very professional categories with many cars using this meeting as a shakedown for the Bang Saen ‘round the houses’ next weekend (November 24-29).
Headlining the meeting is the Isuzu pick-up challenge which always produces very close racing – sometimes too close! Another tooth and nail series is the Super 2000 sedans, who are not averse to a bit of leaning when necessary.
My category is the Retro cars, which are all pre 1984 sedans, including Alfa Romeo, BMW E30 (with Urs Schonenberger top dog at present), Toyota DX and a couple of Mk1 Ford Escorts. My car, the TBX Mk1 Escort has been thoroughly worked over for this meeting, in the main chasing a high speed vibration, which turned out to be an out of balance prop shaft and a misalignment in the differential. With a dyno tune by Terry Wilson (AVO Turbo), the engine seems to be behaving itself, and the work put in by Thomas Raldorf in the drive line, we are hoping for some good results in both the F5 and F6 categories.

The Retro race timetable is:
Saturday 21 November
11.25 a.m. F5 Race
12.20 p.m. F6 Race
Sunday 22 November
3.45 p.m. F5 Race
4.25 p.m. F6 Race
Drop by the pits and say hello.
 


Where did we go wrong?

250 LM.

Found some very interesting valuations on some rather expensive motor cars from the auction sheets in the USA. The cheapest was a 1964 Shelby 289 Cobra which went under the hammer for, $1,155,000. Yes, one point one five five million dollars. Not baht. Now I have driven a 289 Cobra, and it was a wonderful experience, but worth 1.1 mill? No way. Anyway, I’d want a 250 LM.
The most expensive toy on the block was a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider at $7,700,000.
Next a 1962 Ferrari 400 Superamerica Series I Coupe Aerodinamico, $4,070,000.
1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 (Chassis 10451), $3,657,500.
1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spider (Chassis 16793), $3,300,000.
1966 Ferrari 275 GTB (Chassis 08603), $2,750,000.
1984 Ferrari 288 GTO (Chassis ZFFPA16 B000055237), $2,750,000
1968 Ferrari 330 GTS, $2,420,000.
1966 Ferrari 275 GTS (Chassis 08313), $2,365,000.
1966 Porsche 906 Carrera 6, $1,980,000.
1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso, $1,925,000.
1971 Lamborghini Miura SVJ (Chassis 4892), $1,897,500.
1959 BMW 507 Series II, $1,815,000.
1988 Porsche 959 Sport, $1,705,000.
1962 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series II (Chassis 3633 GT), $1,705,000.
1965 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS (Chassis 904-107), $1,650,000.
2005 Ferrari FXX Evoluzione (Chassis ZFFHX62X000145369), $1,622,500.
1965 Ferrari 275 GTS, $1,595,000.
1960 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, $1,567,000.
1964 Shelby 289 Cobra, $1,155,000.
You can see that if you are looking at your vehicle as an investment, better get a Ferrari. I’m sorry but an Isuzu just doesn’t cut it.


Will Mobileye save me?

Mobileye.

I have just fitted a Mobileye system to my daily driver, as part of an ongoing test for the next couple of months. So what’s a Mobileye? It is a box of electro-trickery which looks down the road, with the same point of view as me as I look down the road.
The difference between it and me, is that it has been pre-programmed to warn me of danger situations, such as moving out of my lane without indicating, traveling too close to the vehicle in front of me, and rolling into the car in front while stopped at traffic lights.
All of those scenarios are ones any driver has experienced. Mostly luck keeps you out of trouble, but not always. That is where the Mobileye is better than me. It pre-warns me, not the other way around.
Actually it is very clever the way it is set up, with the distance between me and the car in front given with a continuous read-out with the scale being in seconds, at any particular speed. Obviously if you are traveling at 120 km/h, the time left before you run into the other vehicle is less than a couple of seconds. However, if you are dribbling along at 30 km/h, the time is quite different as you are traveling so slowly.
The Mobileye gives visual and audible warnings with brightness and volume under the control of the driver, as well as the designated “action” distance/time.
The working of the Mobileye is quite complex, with the unit wired into the electronics of the car itself. If approaching another vehicle, but you already have your foot on the brake, the Mobileye “understands” that you have seen the situation and are already driving within the situation. If, however, you are rapidly closing on the vehicle in front and there is no brake input, the Mobileye unit will start to scream loudly to alert you to the potential problem.
I can see that it is a driver aid that one should get to know and adjust to suit your driving style. That I will be doing over the next couple of months and will report back here in this column, so you can follow my progress.


Going nuts in Brazil

The Mercedes steam-roller continued to be the class act of this penultimate Grand Prix in Sao Paolo, with Rosberg taking a lights to flag untroubled victory, with team mate Hamilton second but a high pitched whine was noticeable coming from the driver’s seat. “You have to look at a different strategy for me,” Hamilton told his engineer. “I’m faster than him (Rosberg) but it’s impossible to overtake.”
Perhaps it was difficult to pass, but “impossible”? Someone should tell Verstappen (Red Bull) to stop passing people as it might reflect badly on the arrogant world champion.
However, before the race even started, there was controversy. FIA President Jean Todt, one of the more invisible FIA presidents, spoke with France’s Canal + television after being asked about the terrorist atrocities in Paris and snapped, “Do you realize the number of people killed in road accidents is by far bigger than the number of people who died in Paris?” Even the touted one minute of respectful silence was primarily for road accident victims. The insensitive Todt must have a very thick hide.
Also before the race started there were the usual bunch of grid penalties for anyone who changed an ailing engine or gearbox, with Ricciardo (Red Bull-slow Renault) and Alonso (McLaren-even slower Honda) both sent to the rear of the grid (do not pass go, do not collect 200).
Toro Rosso were also in trouble, with Sainz stopping on the way to the grid. Remember these are 30 million baht motor cars, so I feel better about any failures by my half a million baht Escort. The crew managed to get the car back to the pits and got it running, in time for Sainz to start the race from pit lane, only for the engine to lock up in about 100 meters.
The five red lights did go out and the two Mercedes took off as one, with Rosberg fending off the usual Hamilton aggression, and the rest of the field straggled behind. The two Ferrari’s of Vettel and Raikkonen, followed and stayed there for the rest of the race and were the only cars not lapped by Rosberg and Hamilton.
Bottas in the Williams finished in fourth, one lap down, and managed to go the entire 70 laps without hitting, or being hit, by his fellow countryman Raikkonen, while sixth after a sterling drive was Hulkenberg in the Force India. The force was with him, but not for his team mate Perez who came in 12th, complaining of an off-song engine.
Kvyat (Red Bull) was seventh in another excellent drive, but the eighth place was a problem. Massa in the other Williams thought he was eighth across the line, but his right rear tyre had been found to contravene FIA regulations before the start. The temperature was 137 degrees C, 27 above the permitted maximum, and at 20.6 psi the pressure was 0.1 too high. The penalty for this heinous crime was disqualification!
This elevated Grosjean in the “Lotus” to eighth, Verstappen to ninth and the last point to Maldonado in the other battle-scarred “Lotus”, who also received a five second penalty for helping Ericsson (Sauber) into the shrubbery. So causing an accident was worth five seconds, but changing a duff engine is a 10 grid place penalty. Who makes these rules in F1? Ridiculous.
So that was the Brazil GP. A predictable result of a mainly boring race.


The Evolution goes full circle

Lancer Evo XI.

After progressive ‘evolutions’, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is about to go out of production. Mitsubishi has previously announced that the petrol, FWD Lancer will be the last Evolution badge in that guise as the Evo line-up will most likely be electric or hybrid SUV models in the future.
This last Evo will go down as the most powerful across 10 different generations. Its 2 liter turbocharged engine develops 226 kW of power and 414 Nm of torque. All final Evos will take the power through a five-speed manual gearbox sending drive to all four wheels.
Importantly for Evo fans, the final iteration has a small power advantage over its arch rival, Subaru’s WRX STI, which develops 221 kW and 407 Nm.
Mitsubishi said it boosted power in the Final Edition through better cooling efficiency, which allowed the engine to generate higher outputs and improve performance across the middle and high rev torque ranges. The engine has a reinforced alloy block, aluminium cylinder head and the latest edition of Mitsubishi’s variable valve-timing system.
According to Mitsu, “The Lancer Evolution’s distinctive exhaust note is due to the systems free-flowing dual exhaust outlets. The stainless steel exhaust manifold and turbocharger are located at the rear of the transversely-mounted engine and close to the firewall which helps to improve weight distribution.”
You get a full alphabet soup of electronics/ Once again, from the press handouts, “The S-AWC system is also complemented by the Active Yaw Control (AYC), Active Stability Control (ASC) and Sport Anti-lock Braking (ABS) with Electronic Brake force Distribution and Limited Slip Differential to deliver a remarkable level of traction and agility.”
However, it does look more than a trifle ‘dated’ by now.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I gave you an easy one – Mercedes had it in 1954, the American Corvette had it in 1957 and the British TR5 had it in 1967. These were all similar “firsts”. I asked what was “it”? It was Fuel Injection.
So to this week. A car was raced in the UK that had connections to the America’s cup, Egypt and a camel. Who was the famous driver?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Update November 14, 2015

Brazil GP this weekend

Brazil GP this weekend.

The Autodromo Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo Brazil plays host to the F1 circus in this their last race for the season. However, with the Constructors championship already sealed, and the Driver’s Championship sealed, there will be no nail biting down to the wire racing at this meeting.
The Brazilian GP has been famous over the years for the unruly crowd and circuit signs that fall down. With the time difference between that side of the world and us, I believe the event will begin at 11 p.m. Thai time on Sunday November 15. Being the world’s great optimist, we watch the big screen at Jameson’s Irish Pub, hoping for some nail-biting action. Come and join us for a few ales before the start. I will be sitting on my usual perch in front of the big screen in Jameson’s, so come and keep me company. We’ll have a couple of ales and rubbish the commentary, unless it is a nail-biting race.
Interlagos Circuit History:
The name Interlagos comes from the Portuguese for ‘between the lakes’ because the circuit was built in a natural bowl which had two small lakes in it. Their position dictated the layout of the 7.2 km track which was built in 1954 close to Sao Paolo (Ayrton Senna’s home city).
Interlagos hosted the Brazilian GP from the first non-championship race in 1972 through to 1980, with the exception of 1978 when it was held in Rio de Janeiro. After 1980, it went to Rio again, until 1989 when it returned to Interlagos, where it has remained.
This coincided with a new layout which retained the old section on both sides of the start/finish line. The infield kept the character of the original, but lap distance was shortened from 7.2 km to 4.3 km. One of the new corners was named after Ayrton Senna.
The official name of the circuit is the Autodromo Carlos Pace in memory of Pace, the Brazilian who scored the only Grand Prix win of his brief career at Interlagos in 1975.


Red Bull with no engine for 2016

Exploding Renault engine.

F1 has got itself in a right pickle. There is the Red Bull racing team, winner of both the Constructors and Drivers championships for four years in a row, and now they are reduced to pedal power!
With the new engine regulations, the previously dominant Renault engines have been sadly lacking in the power output department. So much so that Red Bull wriggled themselves out of their contract with Renault which was supposed to run till 2016 as the performance just was not there. The reason for that was Red Bull had an agreement with Mercedes to use their engines, and Mercedes has been head and shoulders above the rest for the past two years.
Only problem was that Mercedes backed out of any engine deal. After all why should they supply engines to a very real rival?
So Red Bull went to Italy and knocked of the door of Ferrari, to be met with a very polite, “sorry”. They would supply ‘customer’ engines to Toro Rosso (the junior Red Bull team), but no engines with parity to the factory race engines.
All that was left was Honda, who have had the slowest engine all year, but they are adamant that they can deliver for 2016. So Red Bull went cap in hand to Honda, to be told in no uncertain terms by Ron Dennis who has persevered with the Honda hand grenades all this year, that Red Bull could kindly eff-off.
F1 needs Red Bull, and a competitive Red Bull. About all that is left is for them to return to Renault, which is running its own team next year, so any Red Bull engines are very much ‘customer’ grade by this stage.
Watch this space!


300 BHP road bike!

Kawasaki’s “Balanced Supercharged Engine” concept is highlighted by variable pitch blades on the air inlet to the supercharger.
Kawasaki announced at the recent Tokyo Motor Show that the Ninja H2 and H2R will be offered in limited production through 2016.
Officials said they are encouraging a “Balanced Supercharged Engine” philosophy that would reduce fuel usage through the use of electronically controlled flaps on the supercharger inlet side. These flaps would manage the volume and direction of the airflow to suit the needs of the engine as wells as improve fuel economy. The Concept SC01, also known as the Spirit Charger, reflects a softer, more luxurious approach to performance riding.
“Firstly the need for machines to possess power and grace, secondly Kawasaki motorcycles should continue to be fun and rewarding to ride and, thirdly, the ongoing reliance on the skills within the entire Kawasaki Group harnessing cutting edge technology to enrich the lives of people worldwide,” says Kenji Tomida, president of motorcycle and engineering at Kawasaki.
The $50,000, track-only H2R features a gear-driven, centrifugal-style supercharger provides up to 20 pounds of boost to the 998 cc inline-4. The over-square cylinders (76 x 55 mm) are fed through individual 50 mm throttle bodies with dual injection. The engine is rated at 300 horsepower. Body armor is advised!


The safest car in the world?

Super safe Tesla S.

I cannot remember any other motor vehicle that just appeared out of the blue and has turned the automotive industry on its ear. All-electric, it has a range much greater than any other all-electric vehicle. It has been given acceleration tests that showed it has supercar performance, being quicker to 100 km/h than V8 racing cars. And now, the latest batch of testing would seem to show that it is probably the safest car in the world.
The Tesla Model S has earned the highest safety score in the history of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US. In fact, the Model S performed so well, it broke NHTSA’s testing equipment. According to a press release from Tesla, NHTSA “awarded the Tesla Model S a 5-star safety rating, not just overall, but in every subcategory without exception.”
NHTSA conducts frontal, rear, and side impact tests, as well as a side pole impact test. In the pole test, the Model S retained 63.5 percent of its driver residual space. Another make, known for its safety put through the same test, that figure was just 7.8 percent.
The Model S was outstanding in the rollover test, which determines how likely a vehicle is to turn over, and, when it does, whether its roof can support the weight of the car.
Again, according to Tesla, the Model S performed twice as well as other vehicles on the rollover test. As a matter of fact, NHTSA’s normal tests couldn’t induce the car to flip, so the agency had to resort to “special means”. Tesla credits the sedan’s battery pack for that, which gives the Model S a very low center of gravity. The Model S had a rollover risk of just 5.7 percent.
In testing the roof of the Model S, the NHTSA’s machinery broke. As Tesla explains, “While the exact number is uncertain due to Model S breaking the testing machine, what this means is that at least four additional fully loaded Model S vehicles could be placed on top of an owner’s car without the roof caving in.”
The upshot is the fact that the Tesla Model S is currently the safest car in NHTSA’s history
While it has passed US crash test requirements, it is yet to be tested by Euro NCAP. The company forecasts a five-star safety rating based on US testing. It has a complement of eight airbags (two front, two knee, two side and two curtains) and stability control is standard.
What I find simply amazing is the fact that Tesla was started by Elon Musk, an entrepreneur, who has nothing near the engineering facility of GM with its Volt, or Renault with its Leaf. How has he accomplished all this?
Will we see a Tesla Model S in Thailand? I am sure we will, and within 12 months.


Forget the Europeans – go Stateside

Venom GT.

Not content with it being the world’s fastest car (even though there is some controversy about this claim), American car company Hennessey has upgraded their Venom GT to become the world’s even faster car.
Using the seven liter twin-turbocharged V8, Hennessey has upgraded it to allow the engine to take advantage of E85 fuel, the same petrol used by Urs Schonenberg’s BMW’s in the Retro class here. The boost pressure has also increased from 19 psi to 26 psi to help give it more power. That is almost two bar of boost. The result of this is a 1082 kW engine. It’s even more impressive when you remember that due to the car being based on a Lotus Exige, it weighs just 1244 kilograms.
Hennessey claims that the car is capable of going from 0-97 km/h (60 mph) in 2.4 seconds, a top speed of over 450 km/h and a quarter-mile sprint of just 9.4 seconds.
It will go from 0-400 km/h in 18.1 seconds.
If you want to have one of these in your garage, you’d better book, as they are only making 29 of them. And be prepared to fork over $1.7 million for your Venom GT.
But if you are too late, then put some money down on the Venom F5 - as in F5 on the Fujita scale, which is expected to arrive in 2016 with a top speed in excess of 465 km/h and a 0-100 km/h time as fast as a Formula 1 car.
Quite frankly, it’s all a bit silly, if you ask me.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I gave you an easy one – the Standard Vanguard Phase II and the Mercedes 260D had much in common, including firsts in their own countries. I asked what was it? They were the first production diesels in Germany (1936) and the UK (1954), almost 20 years later.
So to this week. Mercedes had it in 1954, the American Corvette had it in 1957 and the British TR5 had it in 1967. These were all similar “firsts”. What was “it”?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Update November 7, 2015

Ford gives the Mustang some extreme grunt

Mustang GT King.

Ford joins forces with Richard Petty to produce an extreme version of the Mustang. 727 BHP makes it extreme when the GT used as the base model delivers 435 BHP.
The horsepower race has been stimulated by the Dodge Hellcat Charger and Challenger series, but currently Ford is in front by 20 BHP with their Mustang GT King Edition Premier.
Ford has joined forces with NASCAR legend Richard Petty to create three Mustang GT King Edition pony cars. Only 300 - 243 King models, 43 King Premier models and 14 King Premier convertibles - will be built. The Mustangs will range from US$67,495 to US$90,495 and customers can now order them through their local Ford dealerships.
“I’ve always liked the look of the Mustang, and the 2016 model gives us a great base car to work with,” Petty said in a statement released by Ford. “These new King edition Mustangs are pretty much the way I’d build my own. They are great fun to drive, and have a signature single exhaust.”
The modified Mustangs use a factory GT as a base model. Petty’s speed shop, Petty’s Garage, added a supercharger to add 235 horsepower to the stock 435-horsepower 5-liter V8. Options for all three editions include different wheel bushings, a coil-over racing suspension and a supercharger upgrade that results in the 727-horsepower total.
Other modifications include a custom engine calibration, a cold-air intake for better breathing and a MagnaFlow exhaust.
The cars also include custom wheels, rear diffusers, shift knob, sill plates, floor mats, embroidered head restraints and rear spoilers. Every model will also be signed by Richard Petty.
The King Premier edition includes different wheels, a brake upgrade kit, a custom leather trimmed interior and a special stripe package.
Now that is what I really call a supercar! When will our local Europa Auto Service get their first one, I wonder?


Another stunning Mazda

Mazda RX9 concept.

Mazda president Masamichi Kogai spoke at the 2015 Tokyo motor show where the new Mazda concept RX-Vision stole the show, and during his opening presentation that, although there are still technical hurdles to overcome to ensure it meets ever tightening emission regulations, it is only a matter of time.
“We are not a big company, but the cars we make stand out,” he said.
“Fifty years ago we took on the challenge of the rotary engine and were successful in mass-producing and commercializing it. It hasn’t been an easy path; we’ve had our share of setbacks and challenges and are no longer producing rotary engine vehicles. However, one day the rotary will make a comeback.
“Under the hood [of the RX-Vision concept] is our next-generation rotary engine, the SKYACTIV-R. This name expresses our intention to make breakthroughs in the rotary engine’s dynamic and environmental performance with the same high aspirations that made SKYACTIV technology possible.
“There are still many issues to overcome, but we will continue our development efforts in the spirit of ‘never stop challenging’.”
Mazda has yet to reveal any definitive technical details of the new-generation rotary power plant, but says it is an integral part of its heritage - and one that gives it a unique position among driving enthusiasts.
It has, however, provided basic information of the two-seat coupe’s body, which measures 4389 mm in length, is 1925 mm wide and sits just 1160 mm tall. While early speculation indicated the RX-Vision would ride on a revised version of the MX-5 roadster’s rear-drive underpinnings, considering it features an identical 2700 mm wheelbase to the CX-5 suggests it could be based on the mid-sized SUV platform but with a unique rear-drive only configuration.


BeeEmm builds another fugly

Fugly X1.

BMW has done it again. The ugly duckling X1 has just been upgraded and it is even uglier. Now a fugly duckling. Difficult to imagine, I know, but they’ve managed it!


Maybach rises yet again

The Maybach nameplate has been resurrected by Mercedes-Benz, and the first year’s allocation is apparently already pre-sold.
However, rather than a stand-alone brand, the Maybach (pronounced Myback by the way) will be a sub-brand of Mercedes-Benz. The Mercedes-Maybach S600 will headline the Mercedes-Benz range.
Mercedes dropped Maybach as a separate brand in 2011 and the resurrected nameplate now tops the S-Class range as a sub-brand for bespoke luxury, in much the same way as AMG is the performance offshoot.
M-B won’t confirm future Maybach models but a coupe and SUV are both likely additions to the line-up.
Mercedes says the new car “melds the perfection of the S-Class with the exclusivity of Maybach” and is “aimed at customers for whom status is important.”
Power comes from a twin-turbo V12 and the S600 is 200 mm longer than a regular long-wheelbase S-Class.
Consequently there’s voice amplification so that the chauffeur can converse with the rear occupants, even though Mercedes touts the Maybach as having the world’s quietest rear compartment.
Other standard items include reclining rear seats with heating, cooling and massage functions, Burmester audio, adaptive cruise control and the Magic Body Control suspension that scans the road surface and pre-loads the dampers to keep the cabin level when it detects a bump.
A refrigerator and silver-trimmed champagne flutes mean beverages can be had in style. Occupants can breathe ionized, filtered air - scented optionally with agarwood essence.


What did we learn from the Mexican GP?

Well, we learned that after the race in Russia where the winners were given ‘Ushankas’ (the furry hat) to wear, then at the US GP where they got Stetsons, the Mexicans gave them Mexican hats, and that about sums up the excitement generated by the racing at the Mexican Grand Prix.
However, the greatest scene of activity was in the McLaren pit where they were pulling engines in and out, and incurring the wrath of the FIA with each nut and bolt tightened. With the totally ridiculous rules regarding engine and/or gearbox replacements, Jenson Button ended up being given a 70 grid position penalty. That’s like Usain Bolt being told to start outside the arena for the 100 meter sprint final. Considering that there are only 22 grid positions anyway, the whole exercise is one of futility. Time the FIA looked out of the windows of their ivory tower to see the real world. Changing engines is not a heinous crime.
So to the race, where, wonder of wonders Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) came home first in front of team mate Lewis Hamilton, who had already won the World Drivers Championship last week. Ho hum! Ferrari’s technical director James Allison said, “If it stays dry, I think it might be a rather dull race.” Well, it was dry, and he was right.
However, Ferrari did manage to up the tempo on the action, with both Vettel and Raikkonen crashing out of the Grand Prix. Vettel, who is a four times champion committing the amateur mistake of crashing into another car at the first corner, once again proving the old adage that you don’t win the race at the first corner – you only lose the race at the first corner, which he did. Raikkonen tangled up with countryman Bottas (Williams), in a replay of their crash in Russia. Kimi was his normal taciturn self and says he will do it all again if Bottas is beside him. Unfortunately for Kimi, it would seem that Bottas is just as hard-nosed as he is!
Bottas scored another third podium, with his team mate Massa in 6th, having found himself unable to pass the Red Bulls of Kvyat (4th) and Ricciardo (5th) even though both were very slow down the long straights.
The FIndia team of Hulkenberg and Mexican Perez were the sentimental favorites of the Mexican spectators (over 100,000 of them) and filled 7th and 8th.
The ‘vunderkid’ Verstappen (Toro Rosso) was 9th and Grosjean in the “Lotus” (which will become a Renault next year) last in the points.
McLaren-Honda is no longer a joke, but now appearing as objects of derision. Forget the ridiculous 70 grid spot penalties, Alonso’s car made one lap, while Button did get to the finish, but said, “I don’t have many positive things to say about my race. The other cars were significantly quicker than us in a straight line.” They certainly were with the former world champion finishing 14th.
The next race is in Brazil on November 15th, followed locally one week later by the Retro cars at Bira on the 22, including our TBX Mk1 Escort.


MINI it certainly ain’t

BMW/MINI has announced a new variant, being a convertible. Styling-wise, the convertible carries the same front-end design and tail-lights as the Mini three-door hatch on which it is based. However, it is also 98 mm longer, 44 mm wider, 7 mm higher and has a 28 mm longer wheelbase compared with the outgoing version. BMW has strayed so far away from the original Mini concept of Sir Alec Issigonis, that they shouldn’t be called “mini” any longer.


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 November 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. 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)!


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what car was this - 4000 built with production ceasing in 1974, mid-engined, and the mascot on the fuel filler cap. It was the Ferrari Dino.
So to this week. An easy one – the Standard Vanguard Phase II and the Mercedes 260D have much in common, including firsts in their own countries. What was it?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Abu Dhabi GP this weekend

SAIC pledges expansion for MG

New “911” returns to turbo

Autotrivia Quiz


Bira races this weekend

Where did we go wrong?

Will Mobileye save me?

Going nuts in Brazil

The Evolution goes full circle

Autotrivia Quiz


Brazil GP this weekend

Red Bull with no engine for 2016

300 BHP road bike!

The safest car in the world?

Forget the Europeans – go Stateside

Autotrivia Quiz


Ford gives the Mustang some extreme grunt

Another stunning Mazda

BeeEmm builds another fugly

Maybach rises yet again

What did we learn from the Mexican GP?

MINI it certainly ain’t

Natter Nosh and Noggin

Autotrivia Quiz

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