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Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Update September 30, 2016

Malaysian GP this weekend

Sepang Circuit Malaysia.

Following on in quick succession after Singapore, is the Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit. There have been tropical deluges in the past, but by shifting the calendar around, we might escape the rain. Qualifying is on the Saturday at 4 p.m. and there will have been some feverish work for a couple of the teams to get ready for Malaysia, with only a few days break since Singapore.

The race begins at 2 p.m. Thai time on the Sunday and we will be watching as usual in front of the big screen at Jameson’s Irish Pub, Soi AR, next to Nova Park. Can Rosberg pull another rabbit out of the hat? Is Hamilton enjoying the rap star life too much? Join us for (very) late lunch and a couple of beers before the GP starts. The easiest way to find us if you haven’t been to Jameson’s is to turn right into Soi 4 from Pattaya Second Road (with the Bangkok Bank on that corner) and follow it up and around for 200 meters and Jameson’s is on your left hand side.

Toyota presents new city-sized SUV

A Toyota – not a Nissan Juke or Honda HR/V.

Toyota has revealed some details about its new model called the C-HR, which should be in the showrooms late 2016 or early 2017.

C-HR will be available in two trim levels - Active and Koba - in an effort to take on the market leading Mazda CX-3. It will also offer new levels of customization for the brand, with Toyota revealing the C-HR will be able to utilize its latest showroom customization technology to choose from eight colors which are expected to include a bright green and yellow. (This concept has been in all automakers showrooms for years, done with flip-charts.)

The C-HR does look much like the Nissan Juke, which has been a best seller for Nissan. The power comes from a new 1.2 liter turbocharged engine developing 85 kW - although complete technical details are not available yet.

Toyota Australia’s executive director sales and marketing, Tony Cramb, has high hopes for the car, despite the brand’s late arrival into the growing segment.

“C-HR is a car for people who want something special - those who desire the innovative dynamism and emotional appeal that a traditional SUV cannot offer,” Cramb said.

“C-HR advances the very definition of SUV by emphasizing the ‘S’ that stands for ‘sport’ and ‘style’.

“It has four doors and a hatch, but it’s not a hatchback; it’s compact while having a large interior and room for five; it has a high driving position, yet it’s not a boxy off-roader.”

Toyota has certainly become more adventurous in the past few years, but the Nissan has got the drop on them.

The new Mercedes-AMG GT R


AMG’s latest.

Mercedes-AMG has revealed its new 316 km/h GT Roadster ahead of a planned world premiere for the wind in the hair two-seater at the Paris motor show later this month.

The GT Roadster will be sold in two distinct versions with the 350 kW GT Roadster and the more powerful 410 kW GT C Roadster.

Sporting the styling updates unveiled on the 430 kW GT R in June, the GT R Roadster features AMG’s distinctive and quite horrible vertical slatted grille (taken from the W 154 Silver Arrow pre-war.

To ensure more efficient cooling of the engine and improved aerodynamic properties, the GT Roadster also adopts the active air management system that debuted on the GT R. It uses a series of vertical louvers within the grille, which automatically open and close depending on the temperature of the engine to either enhance cooling or smooth airflow.

At the rear, the two GT Roaster models differ in width due to the adoption of differing rear fenders. The standard GT Roadster uses the same fenders as the existing GT Coupe, while the GT C Roadster uses the 57mm wider bodywork of the GT R. This allows the latter to run larger 20-inch rear wheels with 305/30 profile rubber as standard in place of the 19-inch rims and 295/35 tyres of the former.

As with its successor, the SLS Roadster produced between 2011 and 2014, the GT Roadster features an automatic fabric roof. The three layer structure, which comes in either black, red or beige, is supported by a frame manufactured from aluminium, magnesium and steel. It opens and closes in a claimed 11sec at speeds up to 31mph, folding and stowing over the rear bulkhead behind the two seat cabin. Counteracting this being an open car is a stiffened aluminium body structure with thicker sill elements, an additional dashboard support and a new aluminium cross member supporting a fixed roll over bars.

The GT Roadster extracts 350 kW from its petrol V8 and the GT C Roadster boasts 410 kW, with both models covering zero to 100 km under 4 seconds.

AMG says the 65kg weight difference between the GT Roadster and GT C Roadster due to the latter receiving a higher level of standard features. Included is the rear-wheel steering system first unveiled on the GT R. It steers the rear wheels in the opposite direction to those up front at speeds up to 100 km/h to enhance agility and reduce the amount of steering input that is required to turn into corners. Once the speed exceeds 100 km/h, the rear wheels then turn in the same direction as those at the front in a move that is claimed to enhance longitudinal stability without any reduction in overall steering response.

As with the GT Coupe, the two GT Roadster models feature differing suspension set-ups. The standard GT Roadster model receives a so-called sports suspension with fixed rate damping, with the GT C Roadster boasting AMG Ride Control with adaptive damping.

Mercedes is improving on what was already excellent. Yes, I’ll have a GTC.

RIP Tom Delaney

Never heard of Tom Delaney? At 94 years of age, Tom was the oldest licensed racing driver in the world. He raced the same Lea-Francis for more than three-quarters of a century from 1930 until a few weeks before his death in 2006.

In 2004 Delaney crashed during a race at Silverstone, and was run over by his car which rebounded off the barriers. Later in hospital, when he was found to have nothing more than a sore wrist, he called his mechanic to see if the car could be repaired for racing the following day.

In 2005 Tom received the UK Motor Sports Association’s first ever Lifetime Achievement award to mark his 75 years of racing. His last race was at a Vintage Sports Car Club meeting at Silverstone in April 2006; he had been invited to the Goodwood Revival meeting in early September, but died, after a short illness, just a few days before it was held. His cars are still regularly competed by his son Geoffrey and his granddaughter Lucy.

Hopefully someone in the Royal Automobile Association of Thailand will read this and get off my back. I may be old for Thailand, but I’ve got 20 years to go yet, so just give me my license and let me go racing!

Small Fords to be made in Mexico?

News in the US that Ford has taken some brave steps for the manufacture of its small car range. Among its changes: it has reduced available Ford Focus combinations from 200,000 in 2015 to approximately 300 for the 2017-model year and 30 for the next-generation Focus. That’s saving the company about $300 per car.

Ford’s proposed move to Mexico reflects a strategy that other US automakers are taking. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has reportedly said it is ending all car production in the U.S.

General Motors builds several small cars in the U.S. including the Chevrolet Cruze compact at its Lordstown Assembly Plant in Ohio and the small Buick Verano, and the only subcompact built in the U.S., the Chevrolet Sonic at its Orion Assembly Plant in Orion Township.

GM, however, is ending production next month of the Verano as it phases the small car out of its Buick lineup in the U.S. GM also builds the Cruze in Mexico for other markets.

The Mexico issue has been a topic touched upon in the 2016 presidential campaign for Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has said he would charge Ford a tariff on all cars produced in Mexico for the US market. He has said the tariff could be as much as 35 percent.

“Right now, there’s no consequence,” Trump said in an interview with The Detroit News during a visit to the Motor City earlier this month. “They take their factory, they leave, they fire everybody in Michigan … and after they fire everybody, they build cars in a different country and they just sell them to us and there’s no retribution, there’s no consequence that will stop them from leaving.

“Right now in Mexico, they’re building massive plants for Ford Motor Co. to move in and build cars and trucks in Michigan and they’re going to leave Michigan - not going to happen if I’m president,” Trump said. Wonderfully inflammatory rhetoric, but if he does get in – will he instigate a tariff?

Apparently, Ford plans to build a new $1.6 billion assembly plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The American automaker has said it will employ 2,800 at the new Mexican plant by 2020, but the automaker has never said truck production would be moved to Mexico as Trump suggested, and has recently moved some truck production from Mexico to the United States. Ford does not assemble its trucks in Mexican plants, but Detroit Three rivals General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles do have truck assembly plants in Mexico.

Ford also is spending $1.1 billion to expand an engine plant in Chihuahua and another $1.2 billion to build a new transmission plant in the Mexican state of Guanajuato that is projected to employ 2,000 workers by 2018.

Ford says Mexico ranks fourth among countries where it makes its vehicles. Thailand is not in that global picture, it would seem.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what did Daimler-Benz use in 2004, on which the parent companies had taken out a patent in 1886? It was CVT transmission.

So to this week. Last year a vehicle clocked 140 km/h, which even the family Vios can do. But this time it was significant. Why?

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!

Update September 24, 2016

The most gorgeous cars of the Art Deco era

1935 Voisin C28 Aerosport.

Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic.

The Art Deco movement influenced design and marketing in many different industries in the 1930’s, and the motor industry was no exception.

During the 1930’s, when most folks couldn’t even afford to put food on the table, upscale car makers turned out luxury vehicles with incredible features. Some of these features, like front-wheel drive (Bucciali TAV) and electric wipers, were ahead of their time.

The Art Deco era produced over the top designs with sweeping contours, early streamlining and art. War was looming, but Voisin, Alfa Romeo, Bugatti, Talbot, and Delahaye were making headlines and turning heads around the world.

Thirties, and design moved towards a streamlined (tear-drop shaped) car at the end of the Thirties. The Voisin was a make enjoyed by the Siamese Prince Bira.

Another of the 30’s art deco cars was the 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, now very rare and expect to pay around two million dollars (not baht).

What did we learn from the Singapore Grand Prix?

Well, if we didn’t know before, the night race around the Singapore streets tends to be somewhat processional, to put it mildly, and the 2016 version was to be no different.

What we also learned was that Pirelli are running out of names for their tyres, with softs, super softs and ultra softs all being used to produce a non-racing element of chance, even more than the artificial DRS.

Having said all that, Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) produced another of his lights to flag drives, with no mistakes, and endured a final lap where his sh*t-soft tyres were no longer working, while second placed Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) had just enough grip in his marshmallow softs to claw back Rosberg’s lead, to be beaten by four tenths at the finish.

I have always said that you don’t win the race at the first corner, you only lose the race at the first corner, but you can add to that, you can lose the race on the way to the grid (Grosjean’s Haas with no brakes) and on the starting grid (Hulkenberg’s FIndia in a collision with Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso).

The Safety Car came out while the track marshals cleaned the track of debris and went in when the clean-up squad was finished, unfortunately leaving one chap emulating Usain Bolt sprinting across the track in front of the field at full noise.

After the field settled down again (and Usain caught his breath) it was Rosberg out front and going away from Ricciardo, who in turn was leaving Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) being chased by Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari). With one error by Hamilton, Raikkonen was through and into 3rd. However, with a quicker pit stop, Hamilton regained third, the position he was to hold till the end climbing on to the podium with an unhappy face, having lost the lead in the world championship, but there are 125 points still up for grabs, so no need for the glum looks at this stage with only an eight point deficit.

The processional nature of Singapore was at least broken up by Vettel (Ferrari) who went from grid 22 to 5th, and by Verstappen (Red Bull) who pulled himself up to 6th after a very poor start saw him down around 10th.

Ferrari did as best they could to get 4th and 5th and were a long way clear of Verstappen in 6th.

A quiet mover was Alonso (McLaren) up into 7th spot, but his team mate Button retired with assorted maladies.

Last car on the same lap as the leader was Magnussen (Renault), to give the Renault team their best finish to date.


1 Rosberg Mercedes 1:55.48.950

2 Ricciardo Red Bull 0.488

3 Hamilton Mercedes 8.038

4 Raikkonen Ferrari 10.219

5 Vettel Ferrari 27.694

6 Verstappen Red Bull 71.197

7 Alonso McLaren 89.198

8 Perez Force India 111.062

9 Kvyat Toro Rosso 111.557

10 Magnussen Renault 119.952

Did Not Finish

Button McLaren

Bottas Williams mechanical issues (seat belt problems)

Hulkenberg Force India crash

Did Not Start

Grosjean Haas brakes

The next race is in Malaysia October 2, and will be at 2 p.m. As always there is a distinct possibility of rain, and if so, Ricciardo will record the win. There are plenty of Aussies in Pattaya waving the flag for him.

60 year old Porsche 550 sets new world record

Porsche 550.

A 1956 Porsche 550 Spyder has become the most expensive of its type to ever be sold at public auction as bidding topped ฃ;4,500,000 (more than 200 million Thai baht) at Bonhams’ Goodwood Revival event on 10 September.

“The top lot of the auction is an icon of 1950’s sports car design, the gloriously original 1956 Porsche 550 Spyder,” said Bonhams’ James Knight. “The car attracted much attention from bidders, with increments rising by hundreds of thousands until the gavel finally fell to achieve 4,593,000.

His thoughts were echoed by Mark Osbourne: “The car is so original that you could travel back in time 60 years and find it in much the same condition. It’s exactly how a 550 would have looked, smelt and felt when James Dean famously purchased his example – Lil’ Bastard – back in 1955.”

Jingle jangle

Tom Krisher, Associated Press

Whether it’s the pleasant greeting when you slide into the driver’s seat or a loud, annoying beep that warns you of an imminent crash, there’s science behind the noises that your car makes.

Nearly all automakers have engineers and others assigned to special groups that make sure musical greeting sounds are pleasant and that warnings like forward-collision alert are so annoying they get a driver’s attention fast.

“It’s critical,” said Sean DeGennaro, a vehicle harmony engineer at Ford Motor Co. “If we get it wrong, you don’t know that you have low tire pressure, you don’t know that you’re low on fuel, and all of a sudden you’re stuck on the side of the road.”

The average car has 10 to 15 different sounds for anything from keys in the ignition with the door open to seat belt reminders. Some luxury vehicles, or even mainstream cars with a lot of advanced safety features, can have as many as 20 noises. That’s only going to grow as more safety features are added on the way toward self-driving cars.

Teams at automakers, some with music backgrounds, come up with the sounds for the various devices. Then they are often tested with real drivers to find out if they’re annoying enough for emergencies and soothing enough for greetings. And the cars have to be programmed so the sounds coincide with dashboard text alerts.

On Ford and Lincoln vehicles, the sounds run through the audio system to produce chords, said DeGennaro. The frequencies of major chords tend to be more soothing, while minor chords can be annoying. “It’s up to us to pick the right frequencies that can deliver either the harsh or positive sound that we want,” said DeGennaro, an engineer who sang in the choir and took music theory classes in high school.

It’s then up to field tests with real drivers. Ford, General Motors and other automakers play different frequencies for drivers in tests and ask them to rate how pleasant or annoying they are. Sometimes, they want annoying, as in the case of the shrill staccato beeps that warn GM drivers to brake because they’re nearing a collision.

Currently, GM can only do two single-frequency tones played over the audio system speakers, but it’s testing more sophisticated sounds across the globe, said Andy Gellatly, the company’s technical fellow for user experience, who is in charge of sounds.

Multitone sounds can be more effective than single-frequency ones, and they also can give owners the feeling of quality, Gellatly said. They can even help establish a brand identity, which is what German automaker Audi has done, he said.

“We’ve come a long way with external styling, and now interior styling has matched,” he said. “If you have a beautifully styled product, the sounds should match that.”

He wasn’t sure when the new sounds would be ready, but said initial research shows that many sounds convey the same meaning worldwide.

At Toyota, sounds are more regimented. Engineers have a choice of pre-selected noises, many coming from a central speaker, and they assign them to different tasks based on the urgency of the alert. As demand for louder noises has grown due to pre-collision and other warnings, the speaker had to be modified for more output, said engineer Nathan Secord.

Trucks generally have more sounds than cars because of four-wheel drive systems, Secord said. “You’ll have a buzzer for any kind of system that may have a malfunction, and there can be multiple triggers for the same buzzer,” he said. At the same time the buzzer sounds, text alerts flash on the dashboard to tell drivers what’s going on.

When the computer in Eric Snowberger’s new Honda Pilot in Augusta, Georgia, figured out that he might hit the car in front of him it flashed a big message in orange letters telling him to brake and sounded a rapid “ding” that got his attention. “It’s not anything where cannons are going off in the car,” said Snowberger, director of the police academy at a technical college. “I wouldn’t call it unpleasant, but it’s enough to let you know ‘Hey, I need you to do something now.”

(Dr. Iain: I have a Mobil-eye installed in my daily driver and it has a range of bells and whistles. When it “sees” that I am approaching the tail of the car in front at a high speed, it emits a very loud shriek, which makes me understand I must apply the brakes. Immediately. Veering out of my lane with no indicator gives a ringing bell, but it is enough to make me aware of the situation.)

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what is the connection between WW1 uniforms and BMW? That was an easy one. Herbert Quandt (1910-1982) manufactured German WW1 uniforms and then branched out into metal works and batteries and then 50 percent of BMW, rescuing the car company from bankruptcy. The family is very reclusive and their exact worth is not known, but is over $30 billion.

So to this week. What did Daimler-Benz use in 2004, on which the parent companies had taken out a patent in 1886?

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!

Update September 17, 2016

Round the hotels at night – Singapore GP this weekend

Eff Wun under lights. This Grand Prix is lauded as pure excitement under lights, but for me, and countless enthusiasts, the excitement is not there. Narrow street circuits like Monaco lead to processions, and I don’t care how many singing budgies they have as ‘entertainment’. I follow motor racing – not music concerts. If I want musical entertainment, I can go to a concert anywhere, any time. I go to race meetings to watch motor racing. I do not need head bangers with my F1. If the organizers really want to put on an extravaganza, then run 10 categories of races as the lead-up to the top category F1. What a novel idea – racing cars at an F1 venue. Put on a “Retro” race and I’ll even take the TBX Mk 1 Escort down (even if I have to drive it there)!

Having had my gripe, the Singapore Grand Prix will start at 7 p.m. Thai time on the Sunday evening. 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.

The World’s Fastest MGB

World’s Fastest MGB.

There are many claims for the ‘fastest’ this or that, but I can verify this particular one.

According to British Leyland, the fastest MGB in the world in 1971 raced in Australia, competing in the Prodsports class and was a member of the British Leyland Works Team known as the Young Lions.

Fastest MGB in the world was a big claim that is for sure, but whilst impossible to confirm (or deny), it probably was. This car, known locally as “Super Bee” had lap records all over Eastern Australia, with one lasting eight years. It was faster than the 2 litre Autodelta lightweight Alfas, it was more highly developed than the British Leyland backed MGB’s in the UK and in Australia set similar lap times to the V8 Mustangs of the day. Super Bee was a brute, and I should know because I built it and I was the driver.

If its sheer speed is not enough, there is another amazing facet to the saga of Super Bee, because after I sold it, it spent 30 years sitting in a shed until it was purchased by an enthusiast in 2008 and restored faithfully to its condition as it was in the early 1970’s. The world’s fastest barn find?

However, to understand this Aussie MGB, a little of its history is required. An MGB shell was found in one of the local wrecking yards. This car had been stolen, stripped and then set fire to, but the damaged shell was just perfect for my needs. It was a lightweight, as the fire had removed all the sound deadening insulation, and all the lead from the body seams had melted and run away.

We built the entire car in six weeks, but it was an exhausting six weeks working 6 p.m. till midnight Monday to Thursday, then all night Friday through to Saturday then continuing after a break Saturday 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. Sunday was the day of rest, but nothing of biblical significance. It was just sheer exhaustion.

My basic engineering knowledge came from reading as many books as I could lay my hands on, and that extended to re-working the front suspension geometry to get the lower wishbones and the steering rack parallel to each other and the road. We bent the steering arms at a friend’s garage, and just hoped we hadn’t weakened them. Heavier front springs were sourced from the local spring works and the valves in the Armstrong shock absorbers were turned upside down and screwed into the shocks. At the rear, the bottom two leaves were put on the top and anti-tramp bars fitted.

The chap next door was tired of all the noise each night and came over to complain, and it turned out he was a spray painter. He soon worked out that the sooner we finished this project, the sooner he would get a good night’s sleep, so he came and prepared the body and sprayed the car in a Wildfire Green color. I think this was the cheapest paint he could get. The bonnet and boot had been made in fiberglass, using the road car for the molds.

After a very promising first season, where the MGB was quicker than all the other MGB’s racing in Australia and the car became known as Super Bee. We were approached by British Leyland with an offer to join the British Leyland Works Team, but they wanted the car to look a lot better than it did, and on retrospect, it was very rough. We said yes, if they could help us bring the car’s appearance back to scratch. It was agreed that we could take the car to the BL workshop in Brisbane.

There it was painted in corporate colors and in 1970 was one of the top runners in Prodsports. For 1971 we built a twin cam engine for the car and this really produced some horsepower. It produced lap records all over the eastern seaboard of Australia, but had a finishing record of only 50 percent!

The saga does not end there, because at the end of 1971 British Leyland was pulling out of Australia and the Works Team was disbanded. On top of that, CAMS outlawed the top six cars in Prodsports by placing restrictions on the specifications on what had been the best, closest racing at the time. I put Super Bee in the shed and went Moto-X racing instead.

In 1974 I was approached by twin brothers (John and Peter McCabe) who wanted to purchase Super Bee. I sold it, less engine, with them putting a pushrod engine back in. Super Bee’s first resurrection.

Unfortunately Peter McCabe was killed driving another MGB and Super Bee was put in the shed at the request of the twin’s mother. It stayed there, destined never to come out.

Now fast forward 30 years and John McCabe died early and his widow put Super Bee up for sale and it was purchased by an enthusiast, Ian Rogers, who felt that an MGB with that history should be restored.

Ian Rogers then embarked on what was probably a bigger restoration than he had imagined. Cars which sit in sheds for 30 years do not drive out after filling the tank and charging the battery! Ian found me in Thailand, and since there was not one bolt in that car that I hadn’t personally tightened, I was able to explain some of the stranger items in the car, and why they were there.

However, it did run out of Ian’s workshop in 2010 and he has been racing it in the historic class in Queensland. John Campbell, the chap who had helped me build the first iteration of Super Bee has seen it and wrote to me saying, “It was like going back 40 years. The restoration is exact.”

I have to say that it makes me very proud to have been part of the saga of Super Bee.

AMG breathes on Mercedes GLC43 Coupe


AMG has turned its attention to the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe SUV with two new models released at this month’s Paris motor show.

The Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4Matic Coupe gets the “AMG light” treatment involving the German company’s 270 kW/520 Nm bi-turbo 3.0 liter V6 driving all four wheels via an AMG-tuned nine-speed automatic transmission and rear-biased all-wheel-drive system.

These SUVs ride on a self-leveling adaptive sports air suspension system that can be raised by the touch of a button for greater ground clearance. The air suspension system has been programmed to provide four “spring rates” to match the various driving modes that also include adjustments to the steering and transmission. Modes include Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual. In manual transmission mode, the automatic transmission “double-declutches” on down-changes, giving a throttle blip for good measure.

These AMG models will take the fight up to BMW’s X4 that ranges in price from $A 70,815 to $A 79,055, as well as Porsche’s Macan line that starts at $A 93,100.

Mercedes-AMG claim that the GLC43 Coupe can accelerate from rest to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds and on to an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h – identical to the wagon-bodied GLC43.

AMG brakes are standard equipment, with 360 mm discs with four-pot calipers on the front and 320 mm discs with single-piston calipers on the rear.

Gloss black 19 inch alloy wheels are standard, with options up to 21 inches.

Dials get a chequered flag look, instruments include a racetrack timer, and the infotainment system has a 7.0 inch display, although you have to pay extra for satellite navigation or the Burmester high-end audio system.

I would expect these cars to be released in Thailand at the Bangkok International Motor Show in March next year.

It’s not how fast it goes – it’s how fast it pulls up!

Brake rotors getting a little hot.

I have been racing cars for many years; too many years? However, one lesson that I learned, the painful hard way, was to pay as much attention to stopping power as to horse power.

I shudder to remember how many times I have had to do heroic saves after the brakes gave up. I am old enough to remember Ferodo DS11, which were the best you could get in 1970, which would still lie down and die by the third lap of the famous Bathurst circuit.

Switch to today and personal brake problems have become a thing of the past after being put on to EBC pads. These are a top of the line UK brake company, which were difficult to get in Thailand.

Fortunately, an old friend of mine, Gavin Charlesworth has taken the big step to be the EBC man in this country. The EBC products are now much more than just pads, but also cover brake pads, discs, clutches, lines and fluids for cars, trucks and motorcycles for daily use right through to race use - UK and USA made with the largest range available in the world. And remember, road cars also need the best stopping power. You can get more information on the EBC FB page https://www.facebook .com/ebcthailand/

Gavin’s phone number is 083 019 007.

Tell him the Doc sent you!

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that one of the pioneers of the bicycle also built the first working internal combustion engine (ICE). I asked who was it? It was Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler I believe. There were many inventors who produced an ICE, but never fitted them to a bicycle.

So to this week. What is the connection between WW1 uniforms and BMW?

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!

Update September 10, 2016

Hydrogen fuel just around the corner?

Fuel Cell ix35 Hyundai.

It was Jules Verne, who in 1874 wrote, “water will one day be employed as fuel, that hydrogen and oxygen of which it is constituted will be used.” He certainly was ahead of his time!

However, let us not forget the hydrogen filled Zeppelin LZ1 in 1900, but it was not until 1966 that General Motors presented the Electrovan, the world’s first fuel cell automobile.

Just this year, Toyota revealed their Mirai hydrogen vehicle and Hyundai was not far behind with their ix35.

Following the Australian Capital Territory advance order of 20 Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV) from Hyundai for 2018, Hyundai Australia PR boss, Bill Thomas has said, “We’ll bring the car in from 2018, whether that is fleet, government or private customers. Obviously it will be in limited numbers, as the infrastructure to refuel cars is yet to be built,” he said. “It’s one of those chicken-and-egg situations where you need the refueling stations before you need the cars. In this case, there’s this terrific Siemens refueler that can refuel up to 1,000 cars every year.”

One of the objections has been the idea that the electricity comes from coal, and therefore a “dirty” source. However, the energy for these vehicles will come from construction of a wind farm that will have the capacity to power up to 1000 FCEVs a year from 105 wind turbines traveling an average of 14,000 km per year.

The current Hyundai ix35, and future FCEV, work by converting hydrogen and oxygen into electricity, with water being the only by-product emitted from its exhaust pipe.

For the ix35, compressed hydrogen is stored in its hydrogen fuel tank before being pumped to a fuel-cell stack located under the bonnet, where it mixes with oxygen drawn in through the front of the car and is then converted to electricity.

This energy then supplies the single electric induction motor at the front axle in real time, producing 100 kW and 300 Nm to power the front wheels.

Hyundai claims it can do 0-100 km/h in 12.4 seconds, and hit a top speed of 160 km/h.

Joseph Lucas – The Prince of Darkness (1842-1903)

This item came via a circuitous route including Max Stahl, a senior journalist in Australia through to our late Editor-at-large John Weinthal in KL. As nobody knows where it came from originally, I re-publish it here, and of course it is sheer fiction (but fun).

A sad badge.

Positive ground depends on proper circuit functioning, which is the transmission of negative ions by retention of the visible spectral manifestation known as “smoke”. Smoke is the thing that makes electrical circuits work. We know this to be true because every time one lets the smoke out of an electrical circuit, it stops working. This can be verified repeatedly through empirical testing.

For example, if one places a copper bar across the terminals of a battery, prodigious quantities of smoke are liberated and the battery shortly ceases to function. In addition, if one observes smoke escaping from an electrical component such as a Lucas voltage regulator, it will also be observed that the component no longer functions. The logic is elementary and inescapable!

The function of the wiring harness is to conduct the smoke from one device to another. When the wiring springs a leak and lets all the smoke out of the system, nothing works afterward.

Starter motors were considered unsuitable for British motorcycles for some time largely because they consumed large quantities of smoke, requiring very unsightly large wires.

It has been reported that Lucas electrical components are possibly more prone to electrical leakage than their Bosch, Japanese or American counterparts. Experts point out that this is because Lucas is British, and all things British leak. British engines leak oil, British shock absorbers, hydraulic forks and disk brake systems leak fluid, British tires leak air and British Intelligence leaks national defense secrets. Therefore, it follows that British electrical systems must leak smoke. Once again, the logic is clear and inescapable.

In conclusion, the basic concept of transmission of electrical energy in the form of smoke provides a logical explanation of the mysteries of electrical components especially British units manufactured by Joseph Lucas, Ltd. And remember: “A gentleman does not motor about after dark.”

A few Lucas quips:

The Lucas motto: “Get home before dark.”

Lucas is the patent holder for the short circuit.

Lucas - Inventor of the first intermittent wiper.

Lucas - Inventor of the self-dimming headlamp.

The three-position Lucas switch—Dim, Flicker and Off. The other three switch settings are Smoke, Smolder and Ignite.

The Original Anti-Theft Device - Lucas Electrics.

If Lucas made guns, wars would not start

Back in the ’70s, Lucas decided to diversify its product line and began manufacturing vacuum cleaners. It was the only product they offered which did not suck.

Q: Why do the British drink warm beer? A: Because Lucas makes their refrigerators.

And as a footnote, one of the other senior Aussie motoring journalists added “Do you know there is no such person as Joseph Lucas? The name Lucas is an acronym standing for “Left Us Cold And Stranded”!

What did we learn from the Italian GP?

Well, we learned that even wonderful historic tracks like Monza can produce dreadfully dull races, and Lewis Hamilton is getting increasingly worried about his bald patch, fluffing his (thinning) hair and making sure he was only seen wearing a cap.

Hamilton (Mercedes) was on pole by a half a second on second placed Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) but fluffed his start, yet again falling back to 6th, while cursing under his breath, leaving Rosberg to waltz off into the distance, to a win while never headed.

Hamilton, with his much faster car, soon picked off the cars in front to finish second, but not in the hunt for Rosberg’s win. His grumpy face on the podium said it all. Winning isn’t everything, but it sure beats the hell out of coming second!

The two Ferrari’s came next with Vettel and Raikkonen unable to match the Mercedes, but comfortably in front of Bottas (Williams) for the first half of the race and then Ricciardo (Red Bull) for the second half.

The second Red Bull of Verstappen had also executed an abysmal start, dropping several places but then managed to salvage seventh, without any kamikaze maneuvers, so perhaps Charlie Whiting of the FIA did have a fatherly chat to the young man.

Eighth and tenth were filled by the FIndias of Perez and Hulkenberg, sandwiching Felipe Massa in the Williams, and after the points scorers there was precious little action to keep the spectators awake (unless they were Italian).

The only interesting part of the race was at the end with Nico Rosberg emulating Lewis Hamilton by crowd surfing with his crew and singing in Italian, while the intensely Italian crowd roared in appreciation. It was probably the next day after the prosecco had worn off that they realized Ferrari only came third and fourth.

The other bright news was the official retirement of Felipe Massa at the end of the year, with bets being taken as to how many incidents he will have between now and then. A lovely little chap who was almost world champion, but failed at the final hurdle a few years ago.

The other driver news was Jenson Button “retiring” from racing duties at the end of the year, but continuing with McLaren in an “advisory capacity” and reserve driver when needed. Keeps him off the streets if nothing else.


1 N Rosberg Mercedes

2 L Hamilton Mercedes

3 S Vettel Ferrari

4 K Raikkonen Ferrari

5 D Ricciardo Red Bull

6 V Bottas Williams

7 M Verstappen Red Bull

8 S Perez Force India

9 F Massa Williams

10 N Hulkenberg Force India

11 R Grosjean Haas

12 J Button McLaren

13 E Gutierrez Haas

14 F Alonso McLaren

15 C Sainz Toro Rosso

16 M Ericsson Sauber

17 K Magnussen Renault

18 E Ocon Manor

R D Kvyat Toro Rosso

R P Wehrlein Manor

R J Palmer Renault

R F Nasr Sauber

The next race is in Singapore in week’s time and they have a full grid of singing budgies to keep the spectators amused, just in case the racing is as boring as Italy.

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 September 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)!

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what is the commonality between a Tesla S and a Lohner Porsche, and more than battery powered? They both feature electric in-wheel motors as the way to get the power to the ground.

So to this week. One of the pioneers of the bicycle also built the first working internal combustion engine. Who was it?

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected]. Good luck!

Update September 3, 2016

Italian GP this weekend


The GP circus moves to Italy, the home of Ferrari and the Tifosi.

Monza is another driver’s circuit. However, like many other circuits, Monza has not been a single layout, but a series of more than a dozen layouts which have ranged in length from 2.4 km to 9 km.

The circuit was opened in the Monza Royal Park, near Milan, in 1922 and featured bankings, though these were demolished in 1939. The bankings which featured in some races, 1955-69, were new structures built on the format of the original. Bankings were used for the Italian GP in 1955, ‘56, ‘60 and ‘61, and were last used for racing of any form in 1969 when the concrete became in need of substantial resurfacing and rebuilding.

The 1971 Italian GP holds the record for the fastest-ever Formula One race but, emphatically, that is not the same as saying the fastest race for Grand Prix cars. That honor remains in the possession of the 1937 Avusrennen with Rosemeyer in the Auto Union recording a 276 km/h lap (that’s about 165 mph).

After 1971, the circuit underwent some revisions to discourage slipstreaming and to lower the average lap speed. Chicanes were added in 1976 and, in 1994, the second Lesmo Bend was tightened and the Curve Grande was re-profiled.

The World Championship which Hamilton has his eye on, is not a 100 percent surety and is still quite open, with six more GPs after this one (150 points up for grabs). We can expect that the main protagonists will still be trying very hard, in particular Vettel, racing in front of the passionate Ferrari fans. We will be watching the giant screen from our perches at Jameson’s Irish Pub (Soi AR, next to Nova Park) and the racing commences at 7 p.m., but join us around 6 p.m. for dinner (I do recommend the Sunday specials), and a beer and a chat before the race begins at 7 p.m.

What did we learn from Spa?

Well, we learned that the FIA are collectively a bunch of idiots making ridiculous decisions on imbecilic poorly thought out regulations. In case you think I am being a little harsh, consider this – on a 22 car grid, the FIA meted out “punishment” to Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) of a 55 grid spot demotion. There was also something similar to Fernando Alonso.

If the crime was so heinous, surely 22 spots this race, 22 next race and 11 the race after that? But no, 55 spots for Spa backwards on a 22 spot grid. That’s about somewhere in Germany. Ridiculous!

The crime? Changing engines/engine parts, so Mercedes changed three, so they have two up their sleeve for the rest of the year. A stupid rule which does nothing to enhance the ‘racing’, which is what the spectators come to see. They couldn’t give a rat’s bottom about the replacing engines rules.

The race looked as if it would produce some good racing, with the new poster boy Max Verstappen on the front row, but the first corner was to provide his undoing. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) had made a good start (for once) but behind him the field clotted. The two Ferrari’s (Vettel and Raikkonen) were side by side when Verstappen dived down the inside with all four wheels on the outside of the white line. The inevitable happened and all three cars were damaged and had to return to the pits.

After the melee Hulkenberg (FIndia) found himself in the leading bunch with Ricciardo (Red Bull) who then then slipped by and into second place.

But the demolition derby continued, with Wehrlein (Manor) giving Jenson Button (McLaren) a rectal examination resulting in two more non-finishers.

However, the big one was still to come, with Magnussen totally destroying his Renault on lap 7 going into the fence backwards, which was totally destroyed as well. With extensive repairs required to the fence, the race was red-flagged at that point, and that was lap 9.

At the restart, Hamilton had quietly managed to get up to 5th behind Alonso (McLaren), both having come from rear grid starts; however, the action was again around Verstappen with some dodgy maneuvers on the straight to keep Raikkonen behind him. (For “dodgy” read blatant blocking.) Then when Raikkonen could get alongside, Verstappen was leaving no racing room, prompting Raikkonen to complain to his pits, “Come on, this is ridiculous, his only interest is pushing me off the circuit completely.” Later, he added: “It’s ****ing ridiculous. I’m all up for fair battles and close racing but when I have to back off on the straight when I’m making my move, that’s not correct. I had to brake from full speed. I haven’t had that with any other driver.”

And what was the boy wonder’s response? “If they spoil my race, I’ll spoil theirs.” This is why I have said all along that he is too young for F1. He has the skill, the talent, but lacks maturity. He will cause a big accident if he carries on in that vein.

Much close racing towards the end as the tyres went “off”, but not enough time to dive into the pits for a new set.

It was a Grand Prix with lots of action, on a circuit that allows for action, as opposed to Bernie’s street circuits.


1 N Rosberg Mercedes

2 D Ricciardo Red Bull

3 L Hamilton Mercedes

4 N Hulkenberg Force India

5 S Perez Force India

6 S Vettel Ferrari

7 F Alonso McLaren

8 V Bottas Williams

9 K Raikkonen

10 F Massa Williams

The next GP is this weekend at Monza.

Toyo 3K series at Bira this weekend

TBX Escort.

Local motor racing circuit, the Prince Bira International is host to the Toyo 3K Series. I consider these to be “picnic” races, where competitors help each other. We will have the TBX Mk 1 Ford Escort on the grid, having hopefully fixed our rear axle problems, after assistance from our sponsors AA Insurances, EBC Brakes, B-Quik tyres, TR Motorsport, the Venue Music Pub and Stonefish Wines.

Come and look for us in the pits and marvel at what you can do to a 43 year old Escort! Come mid-morning Sunday for a fun time.

Some amusing automotive quotes

The man, Carroll Shelby.

I was sent these quotes. They should be taken with a grain of salt, but they still make fun reading.

“Aerodynamics,” scoffed Enzo Ferrari, “are for people who can’t build engines.” It’s a good thing Enzo is no longer around!

“‘I am prepared to sell you one of my Aston Martins at cost,” company owner David Brown told a regular customer who was trying to screw down a special deal, “but are you really happy to pay so much more than the normal price?”

Ettore Bugatti is often quoted as describing Bentleys as “the fastest lorries in the world.” He also defended the woeful brakes of his own race cars, saying, “My cars are designed to go, not to stop.”

This next one is my favorite, and I believe it is true. “You can’t make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear but you can make a mighty fast pig.” Attributed to Carroll Shelby, who made some amazingly fast pigs.

Sir Alec Issigonis (famous as the designer of the Mini and definitely not a committee man) is cited by some as originating the phrase, “A camel is a horse designed by a committee.”

Henry Ford supposedly stated that customers could have any color they wanted, as long as it was black. However, 11CV and 15 CV Citroens were also only available in black, but that was 1945-1952. Ford’s autobiography, My Life and Work, states “In 1909, I announced one morning, without any previous warning, that in the future we were going to build only one model, that the model was going to be ‘Model T’ and that the chassis would be exactly the same for all cars and I remarked: any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”

In 1953, General Motors boss Charles E. Wilson was offered the position of Secretary of Defense. When asked if this represented a conflict of interest, he told a congressional committee, “What is good for the country is good for General Motors and vice versa.” That one seems to be genuine!

Even Ernest Hemingway gets into automotive history by saying, “There are only three real sports: auto racing, mountaineering and bullfighting. The rest are games.” (I’m with you, Ernie!)

George Best supposedly said, “I spent 90 percent of my money on women, drink and fast cars … the rest I wasted.” The automotive equivalent, ascribed to Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, is, “If I could get back all the money I’ve ever spent on cars, I’d spend it on cars!”

Nissan claims major engine technology breakthrough

Variable valve timing has been with us for years, but now Nissan claims to be able to produce a variable compression engine.

The Japanese giant is set to unveil a new engine at September’s Paris motor show that it describes as a “revolutionary next-step” in the development of the internal combustion engine.

Nissan engineers have been working on a variable compression engine that promises a mix of efficiency and performance by tailoring the engine’s mechanical attributes to different conditions. Essentially, the new engine can vary the height of its piston stroke, which affects how much fuel and air is squeezed into the top of the cylinder before the mixture is ignited by a spark plug.

The new variable compression engine can vary its compression ratio from 8:1 to 14:1 - ratios that can give performance car power through to eco car petrol savings.

The 2.0 liter, four-cylinder VC-T engine averages 27 percent better fuel economy than the 3.5 liter V6 engine it replaces, with comparable power and torque. Nissan also says the new engine matches the torque found in diesel engines.

Infiniti engineer Kinichi Tanuma, a senior Nissan engineer working for Infiniti, says the technology could replace diesel motors. He said, “We think the VC-T engine could replace or become an alternative to some of today’s advanced diesel engines”.

Volkswagen might like to take a look at this development.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I said that in the post-war period we saw some strange and sometimes unique motor cars. One was the first post-war transverse front engine FWD car built in the UK. And before you say “Mini” – it wasn’t the first! It had a two-stroke, two-cylinder motor that was mounted transversely in the front and connected to the front wheels through a four speed synchro gearbox. The high price and lack-luster performance had doomed its production. Only 600 units were produced. So what was it? It was a Lloyd.

So to this week. What is the commonality between a Tesla S and a Lohner Porsche, and more than battery powered?

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]:

Malaysian GP this weekend

Toyota presents new city-sized SUV

The new Mercedes-AMG GT R

RIP Tom Delaney

Small Fords to be made in Mexico?

Autotrivia Quiz

The most gorgeous cars of the Art Deco era

What did we learn from the Singapore Grand Prix?

60 year old Porsche 550 sets new world record

Jingle jangle

Autotrivia Quiz

Round the hotels at night – Singapore GP this weekend

The World’s Fastest MGB

AMG breathes on Mercedes GLC43 Coupe

It’s not how fast it goes – it’s how fast it pulls up!

Autotrivia Quiz

Hydrogen fuel just around the corner?

Joseph Lucas – The Prince of Darkness (1842-1903)

What did we learn from the Italian GP?

Natter Nosh and Noggin

Autotrivia Quiz

Italian GP this weekend

What did we learn from Spa?

Toyo 3K series at Bira this weekend

Some amusing automotive quotes

Nissan claims major engine technology breakthrough

Autotrivia Quiz