Update September 30, 2016
Malaysian GP this weekend
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
So to this week. Last year a vehicle
clocked 140 km/h, which even the family Vios can do. But this time it was
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
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
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
were a long way clear of Verstappen in 6th.
A quiet mover was Alonso (McLaren) up into
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
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
60 year old Porsche 550 sets new world record
A 1956 Porsche 550 Spyder has become the
most expensive of its type to ever be sold at public auction as bidding topped
(more than 200 million Thai baht) at Bonhams’ Goodwood Revival event on 10
“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
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.”
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
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
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.)
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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!
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?
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
Lucas is the patent holder for the
Lucas - Inventor of the first
Lucas - Inventor of the self-dimming
The three-position Lucas switch—Dim,
Flicker and Off. The other three switch settings are Smoke, Smolder and
The Original Anti-Theft Device - Lucas
If Lucas made guns, wars would not
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
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!