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Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Update April 30, 2016

Russian GP this weekend (Pycckaya Fopmyla 1)

Sochi F1.

The next F1 race on the 2016 calendar is the Russian GP on the Sochi Autodrom (hence my impeccable Russian at the start of this article). A 5,853 km lap and the race will be held over 53 laps.
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 will be the third longest circuit on the F1 calendar, behind Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and Silverstone in the UK.
Qualifying is on Saturday at 6 p.m. Thai time, and the race is 7 p.m. on the Sunday.
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 7 p.m. join us around 6 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!


Can I order a GT today, please?

2017 Ford GT.

Ford has begun to take orders for its GT supercar, which will be priced in the mid-$400,000s.
The application process - available at www.fordgt.com - will favor current GT owners and help ensure the cars will be driven on the road and not stored in a museum or re-sold at high markups.
Ford says initial ordering for the supercar will be limited to the first two production years, or 500 cars total.
The application asks about previous Ford GT ownership, including the time owned, miles driven, VIN number and how the car was used. It asks what other Fords or Lincolns the applicant has used for personal and business use.
It also wants to know about any vehicle-related charitable activities or contributions; if the applicant is a car collector, and if so, how many Fords and Lincolns are in their collection; and if the applicant is a public figure such as a professional athlete, TV personality or a member of the motorsports community.
There’s also space for applicants to share unique qualifications that make them an ideal GT owner.
Applicants will have an opportunity to identify their preferred Ford dealership. If approved, they will complete their purchase with the help of their dealer and the new Ford GT Concierge Service.
“The purchase process for the Ford GT is as unique as our all-new supercar,” Henry Ford III, global marketing manager, Ford Performance, said in a statement. “We understand GT customers are strong ambassadors for Ford Motor Company, and we look forward to providing them a service as distinct as the car itself.”
Ford also announced that, for production, eight exterior colors can be paired with one of seven different stripe colors. Ford has previously showed the supercar at various auto shows in blue, red, yellow, white and gray.
The supercar has garnered lots of attention since its introduction at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, including from celebrities like Jay Leno and Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander.
The car will be powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine. It’s the same engine that debuted on Ford’s Taurus SHO and is on the 2015 F-150 pickup, but the GT engine includes custom pistons, rods, turbos and cams that will help it get more than 600 horsepower. The vehicle will include a number of lightweighting options, including a carbon-fiber tub and a gorilla-glass windshield that is 12 pounds lighter than a traditional windshie ld.
The racing version, which is very similar to the street version that customers can buy, made a return to the track earlier this year at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, where braking issues, blown tires and transmission problems led to disappointing results.


Cost of servicing

Same as today?

Direct mail-out advertising is nothing new. The photo is of the back of a postcard mailed out to model T Ford owners by an enterprising dealership in 1927 (the year the Model A was released).
Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.”
By 1914, the assembly process for the Model T had been so streamlined it took only 93 minutes to assemble a car. That year Ford produced more cars than all other automakers combined. The Model T was a great commercial success, and by the time Henry made his 10 millionth car, 50 percent of all cars in the world were Fords. It was so successful that Ford did not purchase any advertising between 1917 and 1923, instead it became so famous that people now considered it a norm; more than 15 million Model Ts were manufactured, reaching a rate of 9,000 to 10,000 cars a day in 1925, or 2 million annually.
The distribution of Model T’s was far greater that you would imagine, being assembled overseas in 12 locations:
Buenos Aires, Argentina;
Santiago, Chile;
Geelong, Australia;
São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil;
Toronto, Canada;
Walkerville, Canada;
Copenhagen, Denmark;
Manchester, United Kingdom;
Berlin, Germany;
Cork, Ireland;
Cádiz, Spain;
Yokohama, Japan
Ford Motor Company has an incredible history, when you look back.


Ferrari gets the biggest slice!

2015 Formula 1 runners-up Ferrari will receive the biggest slice of the $965m prize pot. The legendary Italian team, which has been present since the first round of the Formula One World Championship in 1950, and has missed just 16 events since, will receive $87m from the main pot. However, it receives an additional $35m courtesy of a Constructors’ Championship bonus, which is paid to just four teams following separately agreed deals, and a further $70m as a ‘historic bonus’. In total, $192m.
Indeed, the figures, as made public by Autosport, show that Mercedes, which won both titles and all but three races in 2015, will receive $171m in total, comprising $97m from the main pot, $39m Constructors’ Championship bonus and a further $35m thought to be a bonus agreed should the German manufacturer win back-to-back titles.
Even McLaren, which had its worst season in living memory, will pocket $82m, receiving $50m from the main pot and a further $32m as a Constructors’ Championship bonus, whilst Red Bull, which finished fourth will receive $144m in total, courtesy of $70m from the pot, $39m Constructors’ Championship bonus and a further $35m bonus.
Williams, which finished third for the second successive season, picks up $87m in total, which comprises a $10m bonus on top of its basic $77m.
The figures show that Ferrari’s share is up 17 percent on 2014, whilst Mercedes enjoys a 36 percent increase. On the other hand, overall, Red Bull’s share is down 7 percent, Williams 6 percent and McLaren 16 percent.
The remaining money is divided between Force India ($67m), Renault ($64m), Toro Rosso ($57m) Sauber ($54m) and Manor ($47m).


The Road Toll – should we be bothered?

As I type this, more than 400 people have lost their lives in the first six days of the Songkran “Festival”. This has gone up from the 2015 figures, so all the exhortations to drive carefully were a complete waste of time. A fact that anyone with 50 percent of functioning brain cells could have predicted.
So what should be done? Looking at the statistics, motorcycle riders make up 80 percent of the deaths. That looks a good place to begin a road safety drive, does it not? Other interesting stats involve alcohol (40 percent) and the main times for accidents are from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Imagine if the police were to set up road blocks from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. (that’s not too onerous) and breathalyze all motorcycle riders as well as checking for helmet use and actually having a license.
Could that make a difference? Surely by tackling the group from which the most killed come from must show dividends. Something must be done, and I know that the road toll makes Thailand the second worst in the world, but start somewhere instead of apathetically accepting the status quo.
It is time that the phrase TIT (This Is Thailand) can be no longer accepted. The legislation is there to face the problems, but the BIB do not apply it.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that the Phantom was a comic character, but a similar named car was built in Sweden. What was the fuel consumption of this car? Bit of a trick question, it was a Fantom and it was chain driven by pedaling, so the fuel consumption was zero!
So to this week. What is this car? It predated the early Morgans which were related to it. It was designed by a woman. It was made in France. That’s enough clues!
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Update April 23, 2016

Deal reached in 3rd GM case over ignition switch claims

Ignition woes.

New York (AP) - Lawyers in New York say a settlement has been reached in a claim over a faulty General Motors ignition switch involved in a deadly accident.
They say the deal negates the need for the third of six trials this year meant to help resolve hundreds of legal actions against the Detroit-based automaker.
Attorneys for General Motors Co. and the widow of a man who died in the 2013 crash notified a Manhattan federal judge of the settlement Thursday (April 7). Terms haven't been disclosed.
The faulty switches could slip from the on position, knocking out power steering and turning off air bags.
GM recently successfully defended itself against claims a faulty switch caused a 2014 accident in New Orleans.
GM has issued recalls affecting 30 million vehicles since early 2014. It says it has fixed the problem with the switches.


What did we learn from the Chinese GP?

Well you could say that by Saturday qualifying it looked as if the wheels had fallen off the Mercedes juggernaut (even though Rosberg was on pole again) with Lewis Hamilton unable to even get into the qualifying sessions with problems relating to the hybrid system. And talking of wheels falling off, Hulkenberg (FIndia) lost his left front, so someone didn’t handle the rattle gun properly and was on Tandoor duties for the rest of the weekend.
The start of the race was best described as a shambles, reminding me of the first corner at every Saturday night speedway, not the finest drivers in the world in the epitome of automotive engineering.
It is always difficult to apportion blame, but Kvyat (Red Bull) was at the start of it. Vettel was quite vocal. “The attack was suicidal,” said Vettel of Kvyat's move at the start. “There was always going to be a crash.”
The crash involved Vettel, Kvyat, Raikkonen (Ferrari), Nasr (Sauber), Hamilton (Mercedes), Ericsson (Sauber) and Grosjean (Haas).
When the dust settled, with half the field getting new noses, out in front was Ricciardo (Red Bull) leading Rosberg by half a second, but this did not last long as Ricciardo had a left rear puncture from all the shards left from disintegrating front wings.
A safety car period allowed the field to bunch up again, which after the Safety car pulled over, did produce much infighting and some slick overtakes by Vettel, Hamilton, Ricciardo and Alonso (McLaren).
After 16 laps, the order was Rosberg, Kvyat, Massa (Williams), Vettel, Perez (FIndia), Bottas (Williams), Sainz (Toro Rosso), Ricciardo, Hamilton and Button (McLaren). Of those, all were on softs bar Vettel (super) and Button (medium).
An amusing incident happened as Hulkenberg (FIndia) slowed right down at the pit entrance but Vettel, ever watchful, drove around him and the cars behind in the queue. Hulkenbeg was given a five second penalty for his actions.
During the race, it became obvious that Kvyat has a very good command on the English language, especially four letter words, with him shouting at back markers and continuing to have a verbal argument with Vettel right through to the podium.
The end of the race saw drivers trying to conserve rubber, while those who had a different tyre strategy improved, but it was Rosberg’s race from the minute Ricciardo had the puncture on the fourth lap.
Results:
1 Rosberg Mercedes
2 Vettel Ferrari
3 Kvyat Red Bull
4 Ricciardo Red Bull
5 Raikkonen Ferrari
6 Massa Williams
7 Hamilton Mercedes
8 Verstappen Toro Rosso
9 Sainz Toro Rosso
10 Bottas Williams
11 Perez Force India
12 Alonso McLaren
13 Button McLaren
14 Gutierrez Haas
15 Hulkenberg Force India
16 Ericsson Sauber
17 Magnussen Renault
18 Wehrlein Manor
19 Grosjean Haas
20 Nasr Sauber
21 Haryanto Manor
22 Palmer Renault
It was certainly an action packed GP and we saw more overtaking in one race than we saw all year previous. There is no single reason, but it was evident that the timing of the tyre choices did affect the outcome for the middle of the pack.
The next race will be Sochi in Russia May 1.


Is Speedway the answer?

Pattaya Bike Speedway.

Every Saturday night a bunch of us would go to the local dirt speedway and watch the solos (motorcycles) and midgets (cars). It would go from 7 p.m. to around 10 p.m. and was not expensive to go through the turnstiles to get in.
The solos were my favorite – four riders at a time over four laps. The bikes were 500cc running on methanol and had no brakes. You just throttled off and let engine compression slow you down!
And then I thought about the situation here in Thailand. There are several thousand motorcycle riders here, some of which display an amazing talent in the racing jungle called Sukhumvit Road.
The track is a quarter mile on graded dirt and you need a fence (wooden usually) around the outside. The spectators are situated on an embankment all the way round high enough for them to miss the flying dirt thrown up by the bikes.
Capital expenditure to build a speedway track is not great. Car parking outside the embankment and a chain wire fence around the whole shooting match and you’re away.
The bikes would be modified road bikes and have two categories – up to 125cc and up to 250cc. Make the rear suspension solid to make sliding easy and all riders to wear leathers, gloves and helmets.
After it catches on, then introduce a class with pukka 500cc solos. These have a very simple frame that any half decent welder could knock up in a day.
So we need a few rai of flat dirt, a grader, a fencer and we’re in business.
Any interest out there? With the number of motorcycles in Pattaya there are enough riders, and I am sure the motorcycle shops would throw in sponsorship and advertise on the fencing. I would do it myself if I had the capital to invest!


Send in the Clowns

There was a song from a musical called “A Little Night Music” and written by Stephen Sondheim which went “Send in the Clowns” and was sung by Barbra Streisand, Judy Collins, Frank Sinatra and others. The last verse went:
“Isn’t it rich, isn’t it queer
Losing my timing this late in my career
And where are the clowns
Quick send in the clowns
Don’t bother, they’re here.”
So what has all that got to do with Formula 1? Unfortunately, everything. Flavio Briatore, at one time the boss of Renault F1 said, “The world has changed. We are in the entertainment business as well. We are not in the mechanical engineering business.” Flavio, I agree that the world has changed – it is constantly evolving, that is for sure – but F1 being entertainment? That I would argue. F1 is not entertainment (and currently it is not entertaining either). Motor racing is supposedly a sport.
If the top level of motor SPORT is not a sport, then we have let down thousands of young drivers who are trying to hone their skills to become the best driver in the world. Do we let them fight tooth and nail to be a winner in every category, until they get to the top category – F1, and then tell them that they have now become entertainers? “Quick send in the clowns, Don’t bother, they’re here” (and called the FIA)!
After watching the first two rounds of the F1 circus (there is a good reason why F1 is known as a traveling circus - it’s the place where clowns entertain, is it not?), I was appalled at just how my sport has become degraded. A ridiculous “new” qualifying format was introduced, which was roundly criticized by the teams, drivers and the spectators. So did the FIA drop it? No, they ran it again at the next Grand Prix, and it was just as dreadful as it was the first time.
At the likelihood of a boycott by the teams, the FIA finally did what they should have done after the first time – revert to the qualifying format used for the last few years.
So what conclusion can you get from all this? The FIA is a joke, which is what clowns do, isn’t it?
The FIA has also admitted that the Grands Prix are boring because there are no opportunities for passing. So they attempt to fix this by artificially manipulating passing zones with the Drag Reduction System (DRS) allowing the following car with DRS to pass the car in front which does not have DRS.
Modern F1 cars need a damn long straight with a tight corner at the end to allow slipstreaming and then demon outbraking. You do not need to be Einstein to work out that a track with a series of corners will not be conducive to passing.
The Singapore Tourist Board stated proudly that “the 5.067 km long street circuit, consisting of 14 left hand turns and 10 right hand turns offers a number of overtaking opportunities, challenging corners and grueling sections that will test the true capabilities of the F1 drivers.” History has shown there are no overtaking opportunities.
The passing problem also brings in the ‘aero’ where the following car cannot stay in the wake of the car in front (slip streaming). Not an impossible fix – do as has been suggested for years – get rid of the ridiculous front wings and rear wings and rely on mechanical grip, that the drivers can use to their advantage.
In the meantime, send in the clowns!


Autotrivia Quiz

Quiz car.

Last week I mentioned that trying to beat the Googlers becomes more and more difficult each week. I asked what car is this? An extra half pint if you could identify the year. It was a 1935 Hispano Suiza with body by Saoutchik.

So to this week. The Phantom was a comic character, but a similar named car was built in Sweden. What was the fuel consumption of this car?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Update April 16, 2016

Chinese GP this weekend

Shanghai.

The Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai is this weekend. After another interesting race like Bahrain, continuing on from the season opener in Melbourne, we sincerely hope that the close competition will continue.
The race will start at 1 p.m. Thai time on Sunday, and we watch the huge screen at Jameson’s! I will allow myself a little longer traveling time just in case, with all the moles out tunneling on Sukhumvit (the tunnel which will not flood, as local water runs up hill), but the Grand Prix and the Sunday roasts together are too good to miss. Jameson’s is right next to Nova Park, if you are unsure. Get there at noon for lunch and an ale or three.
The Chinese Grand Prix is in Shanghai this weekend, and also in Pattaya it is towards the end of the dreaded Songkran festival. This national ‘sport’ kills around 400 participants each year. Songkran that is, not the Grand Prix.
On Sunday 17, some businesses close their doors; however, Jameson’s Irish Pub is not one of those on this Sunday with Landlord Kim Fletcher advising me that they will be open. He also advises that the best way to approach the pub is from Sukhumvit or North Roads, wriggle past the Diana Gardens Estate, cross Third Road and come into Soi AR that way. If it doesn’t work, then Kim Fletcher will be singing boy soprano.


Motor Show numbers disappointing

The Bangkok International Motor Show is a good indicator as to the health of the motor industry in Thailand, and local sales in particular. Unfortunately, despite everything the Motor Show had to offer, bookings went down by 12 percent, which is the fourth consecutive year of diminishing numbers.
Top five brands in the mass market were Honda (4,308), Toyota (4,013), Nissan (3,586), Mazda (3,557) and Mitsubishi (3,549).
Luxury sales were a runaway for Mercedes (1,700) against BMW (1,107).
Many reasons have been put forward for the decline, with the principal being the new excise tax which has increased prices by 5 percent, followed by a tightening on finance for car loans, with NPLs up from previous and worrying figures on household debt showing that there will be more defaulters than before.
The new tax is based on compatibility with E85 petrol, CO2 emissions and fuel efficiency. Whilst these are all noble sentiments, one wonders at the decision to implement the tax right now, with the plunging economy.
With the new tax that came in on January 1, there was a spurt in sales in December 2015, with 100,000 units sold, but sales plunged again in January and February of this year to be around half of the December figures.


Maserati defends its decision to go SUV

Maserati Levante.

Automania, along with other pundits throughout the world were aghast at Maserati’s decision to produce an SUV, to be called the Maserati Levante.
For my money, a swoopy profile and three portholes on the flanks do not make this ugly car a Maserati.
However, defending the upcoming sports luxury SUV at its second ever appearance at the New York International Auto Show, Harald Wester head of Alfa Romeo and Maserati said a vehicle was defined by its capabilities and not its shape.
“It’s just another body type for a car,” he said. “And that means it should not be untrue (to the brand) as long as it drives, performs, smells and feels like a Maserati should. As long as it does all that, then it is a proper Maserati.”
To me, this shows that Mr Wester does not under the ‘soul’ embodied in motor car marques. Saying that one of the models he is selling is “just another body type,” makes me think he should be selling washing machines and not cars with a history.
Wester said the Levante should not disappoint anyone with its capabilities because it would be a true Maserati through and through. “As long as we are able to follow our customers’ tastes, then we will be OK,” he said.
The outspoken Maserati boss was just as animated when asked – not for the first time – why his company has decided to build an SUV in the first place. “Why not!” Wester proclaimed. “It is 50 percent of the entire market here in the United States, so why wouldn’t we?”
He added that the move to SUVs would usher in a younger and far less male-dominated demographic than the audience attracted by the existing range of sports sedans (Ghibli, Quattroporte) and coupes (Gran Turismo and GranCabrio), thus helping to ensure the survival of the brand against arch rivals Porsche, Aston Martin, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.
“(In many countries) you will notice that it is women driving SUVs,” he said. “I have an idea why if you talk to (existing) SUV buyers … like towing capacity and high seating position.”
The Levante made its global debut at the Geneva motor show in early March this year, after a protracted gestation that can be traced back to the Kubang concept SUV of 2003.
Powered by a choice of three 3.0 liter V6 turbos (two petrols and a diesel) developed with sister company Ferrari, the all-wheel drive Levante is based on the Ghibli and Quattroporte rear-wheel drive architecture but is tuned to “deliver a typical Maserati rear-wheel drive experience, even in low grip road conditions”, transferring traction to the front wheels when required. It will have rivals such as the Porsche Cayenne and BMW X6 M.
Maserati are pinning their hopes on this Levante model watching the popularity of SUV’s grow throughout the developed world. But will the drivers go for this newcomer rather than the Cayenne and BMW X6? Personally, I cannot see it. The Cayenne, in particular, is an excellent motor car and the only way I can see Maserati stealing sales from Porsche is by undercutting on price. And will it be enough? Maserati needs more than portholes!

 


Entry-level Tesla Model 3 EV

Tesla Model 3.

Tesla has received deposits from 115,000 people for its entry-level Model 3 volume-seller.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the Model 3 will be priced from $US35,000 when US deliveries commence next year, have a full-charge battery range of 346 kilometers and promised that even the least powerful variant will be capable of 0-100 km/h in less than six seconds.
Styling is a little avant-garde for me, and the flat nose without a grille looks somewhat odd.
Musk said the Model 3 would come standard with active safety systems across the range, including the hardware necessary to operate the Autopilot hands-free autonomous system that made its debut on the Model S last year.
He also said the company’s aim was for the Model 3 to rate five stars in every crash-test safety category and that its standard equipment levels, even in base trim, would exceed that of other vehicles in the same size and price category.
Access to Tesla’s growing global network of Supercharger fast-charging stations will also be standard.
Like the Model S and Model X, the Model 3 has front and rear luggage compartments, providing “more cargo capacity than any gasoline (car) of the same external dimensions” and Musk confirmed that a seven-foot surfboard will fit inside. This is because the battery will be under the floor.
Emphasizing that the Model 3 will accommodate five adults “comfortably”, Mr Musk explained that to maximize the passenger compartment, the dashboard area had been “compressed” and the front seats located further forward, providing plenty of legroom front and rear, while a single-pane rear glass roof was claimed to provide “amazing headroom and a feeling of openness”.
Some commentators have raised concerns over whether Tesla has the production capacity to meet the volume requirements of a car like the Model 3.
At the reveal event, Musk addressed the issue by pointing out the Freemont factory, a former General Motors and Toyota production plant, had previously churned out almost 500,000 cars per year.
“We’re confident that Tesla can achieve that number in the future in terms of vehicle production,” he said. “So I think that’s going to be – I wouldn’t say straightforward – but very doable.”
Musk explained that the limiting factor in producing high volumes of electric cars was global battery production capacity, but that this was to be addressed with its new Gigafactory in Nevada.
“In order to produce half a million cars a year, we would basically need the entire world’s lithium-ion (battery) production,” he said.
“That’s why we are building the Gigafactory. This is a vital element … It will produce more lithium-ion batteries than every factory in the world combined, in one location … it will also be building the most advanced battery and cell in the world.”
This new Tesla is another nail in the gasoline coffin, as it would appear it has covered the range anxiety that has been with electric cars, and here is Tesla with a car promising a 346 km range and zero to 100 kays in less than six seconds. The only drawback is the “Supercharger refueling” stations which are needed, and currently not available in Thailand, or most countries, to be honest.
However, Musk seems to have the answers to everything and I would not be surprised if he leased petrol stations to add in the battery charging systems.


Autotrivia Quiz

Bucciali TAV.

Quiz car.

Last week I mentioned that the London Motor Show had 61 special stands in 1927, but by 1970 there were only 9. I asked what were they displaying? These were the coachbuilders, where in those days you could buy your car as a rolling chassis and have your own special coachwork built on it. A typical example was the 1932 Bucciali TAV with body by Saoutchik. I believe they made three and two are still extant though one of them is in pieces. Of interest is the fact that the Bucciali had front wheel drive before Citroen.
So to this week. Trying to beat the Googlers becomes more and more difficult each week. So, what car is this? An extra half pint if you can identify the year.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Update April 9, 2016

XKSS resurrection

Jaguar XKSS.

In 1957, a disastrous fire began in Jaguar’s Browns Lane plant in Coventry, England and among the cars destroyed were nine XKSS (for XK Super Sport) models, the road-going variant of the legendary Jaguar D-Type, along with the assembly jigs needed to build the cars.
Nearly six decades later, Jaguar will finish production of the XKSS, completing nine continuation cars for a “select group of established collectors and customers.”
The lead-up to all this was a cessation of racing by Jaguar in 1956. This left the company with an inventory of 25 D-Types. Looking for a way to take the car racing in SCCA competition, it was American Briggs Cunningham who approached Jaguar with the idea of turning the remaining D-Types (plus 25 more needed to reach the minimum homologation quantity of 50) into road-going automobiles, and the XKSS was born.
To convert the D-Type into the XKSS, Jaguar’s staff added a taller windscreen with a chrome frame, chrome bumpers, a passenger door, turn signals, side windows, larger tail lamps, and a rag roof, and some examples were even fitted with a chrome luggage rack. The chassis brace between driver and passenger seat was removed, along with the dorsal fin that ran down the driver’s side behind the cockpit. The D-Type’s 3.4 liter inline-six, rated at 250 horsepower and mated to a fully synchronized four-speed transmission, carried over intact, giving the XKSS a 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 146 MPH.
However, in the words of Tim Hannig, director of Jaguar Land Rover Classic, “The XKSS occupies a unique place in Jaguar’s history and is a car coveted by collectors the world over for its exclusivity and unmistakable design. Jaguar Classic’s highly skilled team of engineers and technicians will draw on decades of knowledge to ensure each of the nine cars is completely authentic and crafted to the highest quality. Our continuation XKSS reaffirms our commitment to nurture the passion and enthusiasm for Jaguar’s illustrious past by offering exceptional cars, services, parts and experiences.
“Each of the nine continuation models will be constructed to the exact specifications as the originals, and while a final price was not listed, Jaguar expects each car to cost in excess of £1,000,000.”
Get your order in now, as s deliveries are only expected to begin in early 2017.


The budding race driver and the policeman

My first race.

The TBX Mk1 Escort.

My first race car was a 10 year old MGA 1500. This I managed to acquire after I had done a series of buy and sell deals of old bangers. At the sports car yard, I had a choice of two. A tatty green Triumph TR2 or a black MGA 1500 with drum brakes and a slipping clutch. When the owner of the car yard said he would give me a new clutch in the deal, which I would have to put in however, I was hooked. That morning I drove out with my black MGA registration number NMF 107 (amazing how much trivia one can store in one’s brain), with a clutch plate in a box on the passenger’s seat.
By early that afternoon I had learned how to take the engine out and by the late afternoon I had learned that if you don’t centralize the clutch plate, the engine will never mate up to the gearbox! By late evening I had mastered the mating art and by 1 a.m. the MGA was fired up and the new clutch proved its worth in several trips around the block to assure me I had put everything back correctly. Epithets from the neighbors called the road testing to a premature halt. Some of the people in my street were not enthusiasts, it seemed.
The following Sunday was a race meeting at the Lowood circuit, organized by the MG Car Club. On the Saturday I learned how to remove the windscreen from my MGA and the front and rear bumper bars. By lunch I had fitted a small aero screen and painted the brake drums silver, and could not resist the opportunity for a quick fang around the block in its new ‘racing’ guise. If I had restricted this ‘race testing’ to one lap it would have been better, but I got carried away with the excitement of it all. On the second circuit I noticed a policeman on a motorcycle doing a U-Turn and obviously after me. I raced for the safety of my home, only two corners away.
As I handbrake turned into my driveway, the police motorcyclist drew up across the gateway to make sure I didn’t get away. “Is this vehicle registered?” he said, taking off the shades and his motorcycle gloves. “Yes,” said I, trying to look surprised at seeing a policemen blocking my driveway. “So where are the number plates for this car?” was his next question. “Er, on the bumper bars,” said I. “And where are the bumper bars?” “Er, over there in the corner!”
He strolled over and then noticed the windscreen as well, with the all important registration and insurance stickers. “Are you racing this car, or something?” I admitted that the next day was to be my first day on the track, and I was trying to make it look as good as a 10 year old car could be.
Honesty certainly was the best policy (in this case at least), for it turned out that the motorcycle policeman was a motor racing enthusiast and I was let off with a warning and a cup of coffee!
My debut as a race driver was March 1965, but it was not the debut of Iain Corness as a race driver. For my first two years, I had to race under an assumed name. Since the car was under a finance contract, it was against the contract conditions to race it, so that was why the records will show that an “Ian Gordon” was entered in the Sportscar scratch race in a black MGA!
So how did “Ian Gordon” do in his first race? With all true modesty, I have to report that he drove brilliantly and came third in class and won $5. The MGA’s brakes were on fire at the end, as the applied silver paint burst into flames with the heat from the brake drums, and had to be extinguished in the pits. It was a great start to a career in Australia, that only finished in 1997 when I came to Thailand to live.
And these days with the TBX Mk1 Escort in the garage, that racing career is still going!


What did we learn from the Bahrain GP?

What did we learn from the Bahrain GP? Well, we learned that the powers that be (the FIA) remain totally pig-headed and absolutely clueless as far as the Qualifying format is concerned. Instead of drivers fighting tooth and nail, spectators are given empty tracks as the drivers give up even trying to qualify well. After it was tried at the first GP in Melbourne, every team voted to drop the new format – so what does the FIA do? Run it again. Total idiocy. And do they listen to the teams? No they don’t.
So Mercedes is still the top dog with Rosberg winning and Hamilton fluffing the start yet again.
With Hamilton dropping back, Bottas (Williams) could see that Hamilton had left an opening on the inside and went for it. Hamilton then tried to cover it (but too late, in my opinion) and the inevitable collision occurred. Bottas received a drive-through penalty for his impudence to the world chumpion, which effectively ended his race.
After the hot-heads had settled, Raikkonen (Ferrari) found himself in second place, which he held all the way to the finish. One of Kimi’s better drives of late, where he didn’t fall asleep at around half distance.
So what of Sebastian Vettel, the Ferrari number 1? “It was a very short race today (broke down on the formation lap), I didn’t even break a drop of sweat… We had a failure, I saw a lot of smoke from behind and I lost power so we decided to stop the car.” Personally I think the car decided it wasn’t going further, judging by the molten piston smokescreen it left behind.
That left third for Lewis Hamilton who did put his hand up and admit he goofed at the start, but kept quiet about the incident with Bottas. The top three were not close at the finish with Hamilton 30 seconds adrift.
Ricciardo (Red Bull) finished fourth and kept his nose mostly clean, other than a biff with, you guessed it, Bottas, who is making quite a name for himself in the dodgem car circuits.
Fifth was Grosjean (Haas) who has shown great maturity with the sulky boy Verstappen (Toro Rosso) in sixth.
Mention must be made of Wehrlein who dragged his outclassed Manor up to 13th and rookie Stoffel Vandoorne who kept his Honda engine McLaren together to score a point for his 10th place.
At the blunt end of the field, rookie Jolyon Palmer (Renault) joined Vettel to watch the start, but did at least (almost) complete the formation lap. Jenson Button had his first Honda engine explode for 2016 on lap 6. Will he beat last year’s record of dynamic explosions? Gutierrez ran out of brakes on his Haas by lap 9 and Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) was run into by lap 29.
So that was Bahrain. More idiocy from the FIA, another win for Rosberg, another engine in bits for Honda, plus another box of spare parts for Ferrari, Force India ran out of curry and Indonesia’s white hope Hurry-anto did make it to the finish, though never seen on the telly.
The next round is April 17 in China starting at 1 p.m. Thai time.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked about the visual differences between an MGA 1500 and an MGA 1600. Easy for the MG enthusiasts. The differences between MGA 1500 and MGA 1600 included different front sidelights, different rear tail lights and most easily spotted, the 1500 had front drum brakes, while the 1600 got discs. The recessed grille only came with the 1600 Mk II.
So to this week. The London Motor Show had 61 special stands in 1927, but by 1970 there were only 9. What were they displaying?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Natter Nosh and Noggin

The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park. The next meeting is on Monday April 11 at Jameson’s at 7 p.m. A totally informal meeting of like-minded souls to discuss their pet motoring (and motorcycling) loves and hates (plus lies and outright exaggerations). Come along and meet the guys who have a common interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s specials, washed down with a few beers. Always a fun night. Be prepared to laugh a lot at some of the antics of the members (when they were younger)! The Car Club nights are on the second Monday of the month only (not every second Monday)!


Update April 2, 2016

Bahrain GP this weekend

One of the newer circuits, Bahrain is another Tilke designed F1 circuit. The construction of the Bahrain International Circuit was a national objective initiated by the Crown Prince, Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
The circuit, which has six separate tracks, including a test oval and a drag strip, cost approximately USD 150m.
Positioned in the middle of a desert, there were fears that sand would blow onto the circuit and disrupt the race. However, organizers were able to keep the sand off the track by spraying an adhesive on the sand around the track and planting flag-like windbreaks.
The surface of the track is made of Graywacke aggregate, which was shipped from Bayston Hill quarry in Shropshire, England. The surface material is highly acclaimed by circuit bosses and drivers for the high level of grip it offers.
Fast Facts - Provided by the FIA
- 2015 marked the 12th running of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Over the course of the previous eleven Grands Prix, the race had been won from no further back than fourth place on the grid.
- Until 2015 the race had been won four times from pole position, three times from second, once from third and twice from fourth.
- Only three times has a podium place been filled by a driver starting outside the top ten. Romain Grosjean finished third in 2013, having started 11th, and Kimi Raikkonen, also for Lotus, managed a second place finish from 11th in 2012. Raikkonen, however, takes the plaudits by finishing third in 2006 for McLaren, having occupied the 22nd grid slot. The Finn started last after suffering a suspension failure in qualifying.
- Up until 2015, Fernando Alonso is the most successful driver in Bahrain, with victories in 2005, 2006 and 2010. Ferrari is the most successful manufacturer, with victories in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010.
- Of the drivers racing in the 2015 Championship, Bahrain saw the debuts of Nico Rosberg in 2006 and Nico Hulkenberg in 2010.
So there you are!


Bangkok International Motor Show

BMW Isetta lifesaver

R-R’s chrome wheels

Go-Faster AMG

Benz SUV

DB 11

Jaguar F-Type

New Honda Civic

MG5

Found fiddling at the Motor Show

With 29 exhibitors, the 37th Bangkok International Motor Show promised much. Rolls-Royce, McLaren, Porsche, Lamborghini, Jaguar, and Aston Martin reappeared to belie the all pervading gloom in the local motor industry. Commuter cars may not be booming, but luxury collectables are doing well, thank you very much.
Having said all that there were some ‘ordinary’ cars that took my eye, and the first of these was the new MG5, with a tricked up version on the stand (lowered, big wheels) looking very sporty and more in line with the heritage of MG, even though I am sure Cecil Kimber has been revolving in his grave, ever since the brand went to the Orient. This MG version can be yours for 649,000 baht, up to 759,000 baht for the turbo and sun roof version.
Subaru had a range of vehicles on display and this year’s motto was “Is there anything you can’t do?” Unfortunately there was – they couldn’t supply an English language press kit! This is one constant feature with the local distributors, and while the organizers do everything possible to make sure this motor show is truly international, their efforts are being thwarted by insular thinking.
Honda was justifiably up-beat with their new Civic, the 10th iteration having sold 3,000 units in just 10 days after the launch. Major exterior styling changes, though the interior looks rather the same. Two engines on offer – a 1.8 liter naturally aspirated, and a 1.5 liter VTEC turbo. Since the smaller engine develops more horsepower (127:104) and is also more fuel efficient, one has to wonder why Honda offers the 1.8 at all! Plenty of electronic smarts including an audio touch-screen, engine remote start that can turn on the engine and air-con remotely, a boon in the hot weather.
Jaguar featured the F-Type, a rather stunning vehicle completely let down by the XE parked next to it. The entry level Jaguar looks like the ideal car for someone who wants the name “Jaguar” parked on the street, and nothing else. The F-Type owner won’t be leaving it parked, but will be out in it traversing twisty roads and grinning from ear to ear. It honestly looks that good.
Another marque in the delectable category was Aston Martin who had their entire fleet on display, including the DB 10 as used by 007, but that line will not be developed further, as it has been superseded by the newer DB 11. Whilst they all have similar lines, I actually prefer the look of the DB 9.
Mercedes always presents their range impeccably, but this year I felt rather disappointed. The designers seem to have taken the easy way out and decided that faux running boards on a GLC will transform the base vehicle into an SUV. Wrong.
However, the AMG coupe took the cake with a matte grey wrap and yellow go-faster stripes over the roof. Come on, we were doing that 50 years ago with our Mini Minors!
Another to succumb to the ‘retro’ look was Rolls-Royce, with several of their ponderous vehicles on show, complete with chrome wheels. When did we stop taking our rims to the chrome platers?
BMW did display the new 4 Series, a rather delectable coupe, but the ‘star’ of their stand was the BMW Isetta, the vehicle that saved BMW from extinction post WWII. It was an affordable vehicle for the masses, lifting BMW from bankruptcy. Interestingly, it originated in Italy being built by Iso SPA, but was then extensively modified by BMW. A strange little vehicle for sure, but the lifesaver for the company.
And if you want something ‘strange’, what about these traveling minstrels?


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what famous car company used a current “willy stiffener” trademark? It was in a Fiat 500 advert, where the Viagra makes a Fiat 500 grow big.
So to this week. How can you instantly differentiate between an MGA 1500 and an MGA 1600, without measuring the capacity of the engine? There are three items. Any two will do.
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]:

Russian GP this weekend (Pycckaya Fopmyla 1)

Can I order a GT today, please?

Cost of servicing

Ferrari gets the biggest slice!

The Road Toll – should we be bothered?

Autotrivia Quiz


Deal reached in 3rd GM case over ignition switch claims

What did we learn from the Chinese GP?

Is Speedway the answer?

Send in the Clowns

Autotrivia Quiz


Chinese GP this weekend

Motor Show numbers disappointing

Maserati defends its decision to go SUV

Entry-level Tesla Model 3 EV

Autotrivia Quiz


XKSS resurrection

The budding race driver and the policeman

What did we learn from the Bahrain GP?

Autotrivia Quiz

Natter Nosh and Noggin


Bahrain GP this weekend

Bangkok International Motor Show

Autotrivia Quiz