Mexico at 2 a.m.
Being in the same time zone as Austin
Texas, the Mexican GP starts at 2 a.m. Long past my bedtime, so sorry, no Grand
Prix report, and no report of last week’s US GP either. The next GP to be run at
semi-sensible hours will be the Brazilian GP November 13 starting at 11 p.m. I
will be on my favorite perch at Jameson’s in front of the big screen, come and
BMW reveal the latest 5 Series
BMW 5 Series.
Seventh-generation BMW 5 Series looks very
much like a 7 Series and comes loaded with driver assistance items, while up to
100 kg lighter by using lightweight aluminium, high-tensile steels, and
Codenamed the G30, BMW’s new 5 Series has
front full LED headlights that is anchored to the front kidney grille, to the
lower body swage lines that integrate the Air Breather side vents along its
side, and its prominent tail lights, this new 5 Series looks like a small 7
The new 5 Series will come with a choice of
two petrol and two diesel units initially, with an iPerformance plug-in hybrid
variant, frugal Efficient Dynamics Edition, and a range-topping M Performance
variant to follow later next year.
Petrol choices for now only cover the 530i
and 540i variants.
The diesel options, the 140 kW/400 Nm 2
liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine in the 520d uses 4 L/100 km, while
delivering a zero to 100 km/h time of 7.7 seconds. The 530d on the other hand
delivers the most grunt with its 3 liter straight-six diesel producing 195 kW
and 620 Nm of torque. BMW is claiming that the 530d is able to deliver a rated
fuel consumption figure of 4.5 L/100 km and get from zero to 100 km/h in 5.7
All the aforementioned variants will come
paired with an eight-speed automatic as standard, with the exception of the
520d, which has a six-speed manual option.
The 5 Series now comes with an optional
electromechanical Dynamic Drive active roll stabilization system that uses
electric swivel motors to adjust the anti-roll bars instead of hydraulics. The
feature, which comes paired with the optional Adaptive Drive system, is
fast-acting, more precise, lighter, and more energy frugal. In effect the system
is able to improve comfort over uneven roads, whilst sharpening its handling
characteristics in the corners. Couple it with the optional Integral Active
Steering rear-wheel steering, and the 5 Series promises to be nimbler than its
size would suggest.
Just as its exterior uses the design cues
of the 7 Series, so too does the 5 Series’ cockpit bears the same dashboard
design, layout, and switchgear as the 7 Series.
According to BMW the new 5 Series is a lot
roomier inside than its predecessor, which was a major bugbear. The cabin is
said to now offer more elbow and shoulder room for front seat occupants, whereas
the rear seats now offer more knee and legroom, while its door cut-outs have
been optimized to make getting in and out a much easier affair.
Delve further into its specification sheet
and features, and the 5 Series seems to take more than just design inspiration,
with plenty of features that were first seen on the 7 Series have filtered its
way into the new model.
Up front the 5 Series’ 10.25-inch
freestanding centre multimedia screen reads hand gestures, and is
touch-sensitive, complementing the use of its iDrive Controller and voice
recognition system. Its head-up display has been sized up, with its projection
size now around 70 per cent larger than its predecessor.
Another carry-over feature from the 7
Series is its Remote Control Parking, which allows drivers to park the car
remotely through the use of the Display Key.
With market expectations leaning heavily
towards autonomous driver assistance systems, BMW has suitably beefed up the new
5 Series’ list of features. The operational envelope of its optional Active
Cruise Control has been extended to all speeds between rest and 210km/h. This
allows the car to brake to a standstill, and automatically move off again - even
when being in a standstill for up to 30 seconds - without any driver
intervention on the accelerator, brakes, or steering. The system can also
recognize motorway exits and roundabouts, and adjust its speed accordingly.
The 5 Series’ optional Driving Assist Plus
package is loaded with features that enables it to switch lanes and even steer
away from trouble autonomously. At speeds between 70 and 180 km/h its Lane
Change Assistant can automatically assist in pulling a lane change manoeuver
simply with the long press of the indicator stalk in the desired direction.
The Driving Assist Plus’ Lane Keeping
Assistant on the other hand is able to prevent drivers from steering into
hazards by automatically applying corrective steering, should the system detect
the vehicle is veering off the road or in danger of sideswiping another vehicle
in the next lane at speeds between 70 and 210 km/h. Meantime its Side Collision
Warning system on the other hand would deliver both visual and steering wheel
vibration signals should it detect another vehicle coming too close to its flank
at speeds of between 30 and 210 km/h. If the system detects sufficient room to
pull an evasive manoeuver, the system will steer its way out of danger.
A new addition to the Driving Assist Plus
package is the evasion aid, which can execute an emergency lane change should it
detect an obstacle at speeds of up to 160 km/h. The system works in tandem with
the car’s stability control and sensors to determine how much unobstructed space
is available in its vicinity.
The Driving Assist Plus package also
includes a Priority warning feature that works in conjunction with the
Navigation system Professional to deliver visual and audible warnings and prime
the brakes, should it detect the driver blundering into a junction where other
vehicles have priority. Likewise its Wrong-way warning system also prompts the
driver if they are driving the wrong way onto a motorway, roundabout, or heading
the wrong way down a one-way street.
Aside from autonomous driver assistance
systems, the 5 Series boast plenty of new ConnectedDrive connective features.
Its new Remote 3D View technology beams three-dimensional views of the vehicle’s
surroundings to the owner’s smartphone through the use of cellular networks. The
latest iteration of the 5 Series’ Navigation system Professional on the other
hand boasts a quicker start-up, faster route calculation, and is said to be able
to learn a new route should the driver keep diverting from a suggested route.
(Not recommended for those drivers who
are worried about the digital experience, or having trouble with the remote on
the Smart TV.)
When is a Weber not a Weber?
Yes, these “Webers” are hiding all the
built-in hardware for fuel injection, a best-of-both-worlds solution for modern
reinterpretations on a classic. The concept is laughably simple, and yet totally
brilliant; the execution, at least visually, is absolutely spot-on. Jenvey
developed its Heritage line with GTC Engineering, a well-known Aston Martin
tuning outfit. The two firms extensively road- and dyno-tested prototype
trumpets on a fuel-injected DB5 mule. But this isn’t exclusive Aston kit.
Heritage horns are made in four sizes, ranging from 40 to 48mm, which should
make them work for the majority of classics. They’ll fit most manifolds
configurations, too, and come in pairs of two to feed rowdier engines.
Another new MX5
The Targa-like look of the new roof
structure really does give the MX-5 a striking, straked look, and adds a new
dimension to what is already a hugely attractive, and almost manly looking
Interestingly, all of the MX-5s that took part were fitted
with manual gearboxes, because in European countries, where automatics are still
seen as a soft option for less enthusiastic drivers, there is zero demand for a
self-shifting version (in Australia a shameful 40 percent of MX-5s sold are
fitted with auto boxes).
“It’s not that we’re opposed to the idea of automatic
versions of the MX-5, and if someone wanted an auto in this new RF, I’m sure we
could make that happen, it’s just that there’s no demand for such a thing,”
“European drivers prefer manual, particularly in a sports
car like this. It makes sense.”
In smaller sports cars, I go along with manual gearboxes as
all part of the fun; however, with something larger, such as Aston Martin,
Bentley et al, auto would fit best.
Last week I mentioned a car
was penned in the US by a famous designer, but ended up being moved to Canada.
It is 53 years old, but you can still buy a new one. The car held many records
from Bonneville, including a 170 mph pass. Who was the designer, as well as what
is the car? Not too difficult really, it was the Avanti, designed by Raymond
Loewy, and you can still buy a new one!
So to this week. A brake
system which was used in motor racing in 1954 was brought out again in 1970.
What was it and which cars used it?
For the Automania FREE beer
this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or
[email protected] Good luck!
US Grand Prix this weekend
Despite the present F1 Grand Prix in
Austin’s Circuit of the Americas being a Johnny Come Lately, the American
race actually dates back to 1908.
(Based on Wiki) The race was initially
called the “Grand Prize”.
In 1908 the Savannah Automobile Club
laid out a lengthened version of their stock car course, totaling 40.44 km.
Georgia Governor M. Hoke Smith authorized the use of convict labor to
construct the circuit of oiled gravel. The governor also sent state militia
troops to augment local police patrols in keeping the crowd in check.
The entry for the inaugural race
featured 14 European and six American entries, including factory teams from
Benz, Fiat, and Renault. In the race, held on Thanksgiving Day, Ralph
DePalma led early in his Fiat, before falling back with lubrication and tire
problems. The race came down to a three-way battle between the Benz of
and the Fiats of Louis Wagner and Felice Nazzaro. Wagner won the race by the
close margin of 56 seconds.
The era of the F1 Grands Prix began in
1950, and the F1 race being held at the Circuit of the Americas began in
Unfortunately, with the time
differential between the US and Thailand, the race will be held at 2 a.m.
Thai time, which coincides with my being fast asleep and Jameson’s being
closed, so no big screen and bottomless beer mugs!
Some Ferrari history
Enzo Ferrari and
(The following came from one of the regular
readers, but no indication of the origin – I have shortened it somewhat, but
In 1919, a young Italian car mechanic and
engineer named Enzo Ferrari took part in his first car race, a hill climb in
Parma, Italy. He finished fourth. Ferrari was a good driver, but not
outstanding, only winning 13 of his 47 starts.
In the mid-1920s, Ferrari retired from
racing cars to begin building them instead. He took over the Alfa Romeo racing
department in 1929 and began to turn out cars under his own name. Annoyed with
Ferrari’s heavy-handed management style, which incidentally he continued until
his death, Alfa Romeo fired him in 1939.
In 1947, what is considered as the first
real Ferraris appeared on the market. That same year, Ferrari won the Rome Grand
Prix, his first race as an independent carmaker. In 1949, a Ferrari won the Le
Mans road race for the first time and in 1952 one of the team’s drivers, Alberto
Ascari, became the world racing champion winning every race he entered that
These triumphs were followed by eight world
championships and five Grand Prix championships. It is claimed that he was
hiring the boldest, most daredevil drivers he could find. Between 1955 and 1965,
six of Ferrari’s 20 drivers were killed in crashes and on five different
occasions his cars careened into crowds of spectators, killing 50 bystanders in
Ferrari tended to scorn technological
advances that he did not come up with himself, so he was slow to accept things
like disc brakes, rear-mounted engines and fuel-injection systems. He is
reported as having dismissed aerodynamics as something used by designers with
By the time he died in 1988, Ferrari cars
had won more than 4,000 races. Ferrari is the only constructor to have competed
in every Grand Prix since 1950.
How valuable is your “brand”?
Interbrand, an American consultancy group
rates the world’s manufacturers each year by that rather nebulous entity called
your “brand”. However, the ‘Best Global Brands’ report is based on three key
components that contribute to a brand’s cumulative value. Interbrand describes
these as “the financial performance of the branded products and services, the
role the brand plays in influencing customer choice, and the strength the brand
has to command a premium price or secure earnings for the company.”
Top auto manufacturer was, you guessed it,
Toyota, but Mercedes is now second in the automotive section and within striking
This year’s 17th annual ‘Best Global
Brands’ report covering the top 100 brands worldwide saw Tesla make the list for
the first time – it has taken the 100th position, or 15th among the auto-makers,
with an estimated brand value of US$4.0 billion – while Nissan has emerged as
the top-growing automotive brand with a 22 percent increase in brand value over
last year (to US$11.1b), which places it in ninth position among the auto brands
or 43rd overall.
Toyota’s nine percent increase in brand
value to US$53.6b has deposed IBM for fifth place overall – leaving Microsoft,
Coca-Cola, Google and, at the top of the pile, Apple, as the only brands ahead
of it – but since last year Mercedes-Benz has leapfrogged BMW for second place
in the automotive rankings (and ninth overall) with a US$43.5b brand value, up
18 percent on the previous year.
BMW’s brand value of US$41.5b has risen 12
percent to hold third position (11th overall), while Honda, in fourth, is well
behind after a four percent slip in brand value to US$22.1b that sends it
outside the top 20 brands overall (to 21st).
Unsurprisingly, the only other automaker to
experience a drop in brand value this year was Volkswagen, which up until 2014
was on a fast track toward the top end of the table but has now gone backwards
with two successive downturns of nine percent, losing US$2.3b in brand value
over 24 months to US$11.4b and in process falling three positions in automotive
(to eighth) and nine spots overall (to 40th).
Tesla’s entry in the top 100 global brands
reflects more than just its EV luxury models but the services it offers as well,
according to Interbrand.
VW’s diesel emissions cheating scandal
engulfing Volkswagen worldwide has clearly served against it in the latest
study, although fellow VW Group brand Audi has managed to avoid the crisis,
according to Interbrand, increasing its brand value 14 percent to US$11.8b and
moves ahead of VW in seventh place among the automotive cohort and 38th overall.
Ford and Hyundai have likewise moved ahead
of VW and maintain their edge over Audi for the time being, with the Ford up 12
percent this year to US$13.0b for fifth position among the autos (33rd overall)
and Hyundai, the leading Korean brand, up 11 percent to US$12.5b to be right
behind it sixth (35th overall).
The last auto manufacturer in the top 50
was Porsche, up 18 percent this year to US$9.5b in brand value for that 50th
position – while four others (apart from Tesla) remain in the list of top 100
brands: Kia at US$6.3b (+12 percent, 69th position overall), Land Rover at
US$5.7b (+11 percent, 78th), and Mini at US$5.0b (+18 percent, 88th).
“One of the most profound shifts we’re
seeing is that car companies are moving from a brand selling products to a brand
providing services – shifting from OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to
experience-centric brands,” said Daniel Binns, managing director of Interbrand’s
New York and San Francisco offices.
According to Interbrand, the combined value
of the top 100 brands this year was US$1.8 trillion, up 4.8 percent on 2015.
The end is nigh – or is it?
Germany wants to start banning the internal combustion
engine, after being one of the originators of it. That’s the bad news. The good
news is that the ban doesn’t take effect till 2030.
Germany’s Spiegel Magazin reported that the
country’s top legislative body was able to reach a bi-partisan agreement that
hopes to allow only zero-emission vehicles on EU roads in 14 years. For the
resolution to be instituted across Europe, it will have to be approved by the
EU. But according to Forbes, “German regulations traditionally have shaped EU
and UNECE regulations.”
To make this complex decision even more
absurd, Greens party lawmaker Oliver Krischer told Spiegel, “If the Paris
agreement to curb climate-warming emissions is to be taken seriously, no new
combustion engine cars should be allowed on roads after 2030.”
The resolution calls on EU automakers to
“review the current practices of taxation and dues with regard to a stimulation
of emission-free mobility.” Creating a tougher tax burden could encourage
manufacturers to push electric vehicles into production sooner, rather than
While larger approvals will still need to
go through the legislative process, the fact that the country with the
fourth-largest auto industry in the world is spearheading such sweeping change
is a big sign of where we’re headed. It’s a road paved with slow-moving
politicians making incremental changes and hoping the industry will warm up to
the idea of not killing us all.
Ignoring the climate change proponents,
where would this ban put OPEC (AKA the pimps at the pumps) financially?
Then there is the situation of getting the
rest of the world to agree, fairly unlikely in Central Africa and South American
countries which rely on selling fuel oil to stay alive.
Good try, Mr Green party, but it won’t
Last week I mentioned a car was produced
for 23 years and was a very successful undertaking. Unfortunately the
development costs were so high it bankrupted the manufacturer and sent him to an
early grave. Cars bearing his name are still sold today. What was the car? I
wanted the model, not just the marque. It was the Citroen Traction Avant series.
So to this week. A car was penned in the US by a famous
designer, but ended up being moved to Canada. It is 53 years old, but you can
still buy a new one. The car held many records from Bonneville, including a 170
mph pass. Who was the designer, as well as what is the car?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!
Just how bad is our road toll?
Many sources have indicted Thailand as
having the second worst road fatalities in the world, and on paper that
would seem to be correct, but I believe is an incorrect measurement. Always
remember that there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.
The latest figure I managed to find
from WHO (2013) is the Thailand road toll that year was 24,237. Bangladesh
only managed to kill 21,316 in that same year.
However, these bald figures do not take
into account differences in the different number of inhabitants, or the
number of vehicles on the road. Looking at that we get a very different
picture. Thailand’s inglorious mention is 36.2 fatalities per 100,000
people. The fatality rate per 100,000 inhabitants of Bangladesh is 13.6. The
average for SE Asia is 17. Once again, we do not look good.
However, road congestion should also be
taken into account, and when we look at fatalities per 100,000 vehicles,
Thailand scores 74.6, and while in this region, Laos has 67.5 and Cambodia
107.2. However, these numbers are mere drops in the ocean when we look at
Afghanistan at 722, Angola 992, Bangladesh 1,020.6 or Benin at 8,177.2.
Perhaps we should only look at deaths
relative to traffic congestion, in which we are not good, but not as
disastrous as Bangladesh, for example.
The local problem could be alleviated
with application of the road rules, because we do have them. We just don’t
have the application of them.
Motorcycles make up 80 percent of our
fatalities, in which the vast majority was not wearing crash helmets. It
doesn’t require rocket science to work out the next step. It certainly would
be a step in the right direction if the police administered the wearing of
helmet rule. Assisting this, if some more of the large employers of labor
showed the way by blocking access to the plant for riders without helmets, a
real reduction would be the result. It is possible to alter attitudes.
What did we learn from the Japanese GP?
Well, we learned that the FIA are the number 1 arranger of deck
chairs on the Titanic. In the face of dwindling spectator numbers the FIA
boffins dream up all kinds of new rules to “improve” the racing. These include
such things as penalizing teams/drivers for engine and/or gearbox changes. This
rule saw the relegation of Jenson Button (McLaren) to the rear of the grid for
ditching his Honda boat anchor for another one, and Ferrari losing their second
row with penalties after Qualifying with a gearbox change for Raikkonen. Who
cares how many gearboxes he has? I certainly don’t. And let’s forget about the
fact that drivers have to apply to the FIA for permission to (slightly) change
their helmet design. Why? Because that is the only way Joe Bloggs can tell who
is who. Perhaps if the cars had nice big numbers (like the Americans) drivers
could wear a potty if they wanted to.
However, back to the
race and the two Mercedes drivers Rosberg and Hamilton on grids one and two,
with Rosberg getting the start right and streaking off into the distance,
and Hamilton getting it all wrong and falling back to eighth in the first
100 meters. No mention of whether this was a deliberate ploy from the pit
After lap 10 with most
drivers in for a new set of tyres, places change again as Verstappen (Red
Bull) goes from second to seventh and team mate Ricciardo right behind him
entering the pits from fifth to fourteenth!
By the fifteenth lap,
the order has settled again with Rosberg comfortably in front of wonder-clog
Verstappen and Vettel (Ferrari), with Hamilton catching them very easily,
the Mercedes being so much faster down the straight than the others.
Getting up to half way,
Alonso receives a message from his pit “We need to push now,” the Spaniard
replying “I wish! Which tyres do we push on?” In front of their national
Japanese sponsors, the Honda-engined McLarens are just embarrassingly slow,
with Button driving his nutzov and remaining 22nd.
Blue flag blindness
seems to be evident with both the Ferrari drivers complaining over team
radio. “Come on! Move out of the way,” shouts Raikkonen. “They’re seriously
slowing me down now!” Vettel cursing and hand waving. “It’s ridiculous, I
mean it’s ridiculous, I lost a second for nothing. ****!” And whilst Vettel
may be correct, I would not limit this to color blue, as all the drivers
these days do not know what a yellow flag means, and a double yellow in
particular. (The Aussie Bathurst 1000 held on the same day showed several
examples of this.)
So the race continued,
with much dicing all the way down the field, making it an entertaining
spectacle for everyone. Imagine how it would be if the spectators could
identify the cars by their numbers? However, don’t expect much from the FIA
other than regulation grey sox to be worn and drinking out of shoes banned
as a dangerous practice. After all, what happens if Ricciardo gets tinea?
A good race on a great
2 Verstappen Red
4 Vettel Ferrari
6 Ricciardo Red
7 Perez Force India
8 Hulkenberg Force
9 Massa Williams
10 Bottas Williams
No Show at the Show?
Six major global automotive brands did
not attend the Paris motor show this year. Volkswagen Group pulled its
Lamborghini and Bentley prestige brands out, confirmation that a number of
key global car-makers did not attend the biennial French event this year.
Manufacturers including Ford, Volvo,
Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin all confirmed that they would not be attending
this year’s show in the French capital, preferring instead to direct their
marketing funds elsewhere. This does not augur well for the Bangkok
International Motor Show in 2017.
Automotive News Europe reporting that
Ford will invite potential buyers to participate in test drives across the
BMW-owned car-maker Rolls-Royce was
another no-show. The ultra-luxury brand has chosen to hold smaller, more
targeted events, such as cocktail parties, test drives and other intimate
gatherings in coastal Italy.
According to Reuters, Bentley said
earlier it would miss the 2016 Paris event and instead concentrate its
efforts on smaller events where it could more directly market to buyers,
while Lamborghini said it was re-evaluating its motor show strategy, which
included looking at which locations it would be at in the future.
The cost for a car-maker to set up
their often elaborate stands can push into the millions of dollars, with
Automotive News Europe reporting that Audi spent €10 million ($A14.8m) for
its pavilion at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show.
A number of international events have
either scaled down in recent years or have been cancelled, as was the case
with the Australian international motor show that was killed off due to
overwhelming costs, lack of support from car-makers and slowing demand
before the scheduled 2013 event.
With the Thailand motor industry
looking less than positive this year, I expect there will be a scaling down
in our Bangkok extravaganza as well, but I do sincerely hope the motor
industry will support “our” show, as the motor show has supported the
industry for many decades.
A very cheap race car
One of the problems a
novice would-be race driver has is buying a car to race. While one that is fully
sorted means you just jump in and drive, it is expensive. The answer is to build
The steps in building your
world-beater are well known, and most of them can be done by anyone with just
the vaguest idea of race car engineering. If you know what is the direction to
tighten a nut, you have the basics to begin.
One of the cheapest
categories to be in is the “Retro” class (pre 1985 sedans). Plenty of old road
cars of that age, so take your time in the purchase. Try to get one with as
little rust as possible.
Leaving the engine alone
for the time being, you can start on the body work. Obviously get rid of rusty
panels/floors etc., and now start to lighten the car.
Lightening the car is cheap
horsepower. Colin Chapman (Lotus) was the prime example of this with his F1
cars. Lighter weight takes less horsepower to get the car up to speed, and
doesn’t need the ultimate braking power to bring it back to stop again (though
fitting good pads like EBC definitely assists).
Where do you get rid of the
weight? The inside of the doors, windows, window winder mechanisms for a start.
A pair of heavy duty metal shears needed here. Perspex passenger side windows
and rear window, but leave the driver’s and front windscreen.
Now get rid of heavy things
like the windscreen wiper motor, the air-conditioner compressor and anything
else that doesn’t make the car faster. Get rid of all the seats and buy a second
hand driver’s chair from your local car upholstery place. Expect to pay about B.
5,000. By this time you will be amazed at just how much weight you will have
taken out. On a Toyota DX, for example, you are now probably down to 900 kg.
Now it is time for the
bodywork. Get a fiberglass bonnet and boot and throw away the hinges and use
pins to keep them in place. Now it is starting to look like a race car!
The next is the roll cage.
There is a tendency to fabricate expensive multi-tube structures that could hold
up the Sydney Harbor Bridge. That degree of complexity is not needed. A braced
transverse hoop and two bars facing forwards is enough.
Probably around this time
you have to start to consider the engine/gearbox package. Second hand twin cam
Toyota engines are not expensive. Nissan ones are a little more so, but there
are plenty of smaller capacity Toyota engines up the front. Fitting them into
your body shell is not difficult either, but do use an engine hoist. Too heavy
to lift with just you and a mate!
What next? Some 15 inch
wheels, second hand bargains everywhere, and the same for the tyres. Get your
friendly spring shop to cut a coil off the springs and you now have a lowered
race car. Not the fastest on the grid, but quick enough that you can learn how
to race cleanly. Go out to the races at the local Bira Circuit and have a look
at the el-cheapo race cars and then go home and build your own. With what I have
suggested you will have spent less than one hundred thousand baht. You won’t
win, but you won’t come last either!
Last week I mentioned a car that had three headlights, rear engine, a dorsal fin
and they made 3,000 of them. I asked what was it? It was the Tatra T87. It could
not have been a Tucker as they only made around 50 of them.
So to this week. This car was produced for 23 years and was
a very successful undertaking. Unfortunately the development costs were so high
it bankrupted the owner and sent him to an early grave. Cars bearing his name
are still sold today. What was the car? I want the model, not just the marque.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected] .com or [email protected] Good luck!
Japanese GP this weekend
One of the greatest tracks used in Formula
One today, Japan’s Suzuka circuit is a massive test of car and driver ability.
Built by Honda as a test facility in 1962, the track was designed by Dutchman
John Hugenholz, the Hermann Tilke of his day (but don’t let that put you off). A
huge theme park was also constructed at the track, including the famous Ferris
wheel which dominates the Suzuka skyline.
At Suzuka the race has provided the scene
for many nail-biting end-of-season deciders, including the infamous collisions
involving Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
Suzuka includes some of the Grand Prix
calendar’s most challenging corners. Among the drivers’ favorites are the
high-speed 130R taken at over 300 km/h and the famous Spoon Curve taken at 140
km/h on the way in and coming out at 180 km/h.
With the results from Malaysia still in
everybody’s minds, will Suzuka be a firecracker or a fizzer? With a circuit that
encourages passing, it would have to be a better race than Singapore, and I
don’t care how many “celebrities” Bernie invites. I mean, a retired football
player! Who next?
I will be watching from my usual perch at
Jameson’s Irish Pub, Soi AR, next to Nova Park for the 53 lap GP of the 5.8 km
circuit. We have the big screen and no cigarettes. That’s a bonus by itself!
Now, important – with the time differential between here and Japan, the race on
Sunday starts at 2 p.m. Thai time. Qualifying on the Saturday is 4 p.m. (I
think). Join us for lunch and a couple of jars before the red lights go out.
Mercedes-Maybach makes bomb-proof limo
stand-off? Put your money on the steer.
Here is the ultimate vehicle for anyone
with paranoia. The Mercedes-Maybach 2017 S600 Pullman Guard. Fearing for your
life and have a couple million dollars to spare? The Mercedes-Maybach Pullman
Guard is exactly what you need.
The Mercedes-Maybach Pullman Guard is 6.5
meters long so it will be a bit of a squeeze getting it in your car port, but
this is the vehicle if you want safety and style.
Measuring 6.5 meters long and weighing in
at 5.6 tonnes, the S600 Pullman Guard is equipped with special steel and aramid
components in the bodywork and underbody as well as bulletproof glass to protect
its occupants against anything up to a small militia, so should have a ready
market in South America.
Officially, the vehicle is rated VR9 for
ballistic protection, the highest rating a car can achieve. It also passes ERV
2010 for blast protection, the current standard enforced in Europe.
Despite all this extra armor, the car just
looks like any other Mercedes-Maybach (pronounced “My Bach” by the way) and has
the identical volume of interior room.
This is no commuter car, but it is
definitely a chauffeur-driven limousine seating up to four rear occupants in
lavish style, with leather upholstery throughout, massive legroom thanks to the
inward-facing seating layout, adjustable seats that feature calf rests, head
restraints with extra cushions and increased headroom over the regular S-Class,
and an electronically operated partition wall.
It also has an electronically assisted
door-opening and closing function, as the extra weight in the body caused by the
armor can make entering and exiting the vehicle a chore for VIPs who do not find
the time to go to the nearest gymnasium.
Powering the five and a half tonne monster
is Mercedes’ 6.0 liter twin turbo V12, which propels the limo to an
electronically limited top speed of 160 km/h thanks to its formidable power
output of 390 kW/830 Nm.
All this safety and mobile reassurance does
not come cheaply, with Mercedes-Benz listing the armored limo at just under €1.4
million (54 million THB). However, if all you want is the looks, you can order
one without the protection for a relatively paltry €500,000 (20 million THB).
Mercedes says the Pullman will be highly
customizable, and can be equipped with crowd control devices such as sirens,
flashing lights, two-way radios, an emergency starter battery and a
loudspeaker/microphone external communication system.
Daimler board member responsible for
Mercedes-Benz Cars sales and marketing Ola Kallenius said that the Pullman Guard
was the pinnacle of VIP transport.
“Besides providing spacious seating in
first-class comfort for high-ranking passengers, the Mercedes-Maybach Pullman is
of course the embodiment of exclusivity at its highest level,” he said.
At the other end of the Mercedes-Benz
garage is the Smart Car, which comes with a panic handle for the passenger to
grip in the case of an accident. Screaming and hitting the driver does assist in
lowering panic levels, so they tell me.
Hyundai H350 Fuel Cell van
H350 Fuel Cell
Hyundai has gone from being a cheap Korean import to now
one of the world’s leading automakers. The latest concept to be shown by Hyundai
is the H350 Fuel Cell van.
Up till now, the fuel cell vehicles have
tended to be passenger cars for the future, but you can add in a commercial
vehicle fuel cell van, which we are told can be refueled in four minutes.
The Hyundai H350 Fuel Cell Concept,
revealed at the IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hanover, is designed to prove
that fuel cell technology can be adapted to the commercial sector as well as for
The van is equipped with a 175 liter
hydrogen tank that can be refilled from empty in four minutes, which Hyundai
says makes it a more viable alternative to slow-charging electric vehicles for
commercial operators. On that score, they certainly have the electric segment
well and truly dissed.
The H350’s electric motor produces 100 kW
and 300 Nm, and Hyundai claims the van will produce a 150 km/h top speed and
will have a range of 422 km before requiring refueling.
Equally important, the hydrogen powertrain
has no impact on cargo space, with the short wheelbase version of the H350
providing 10.5 cubic meters of space, which increases to 12.9 cubic meters in
the long wheelbase variant.
While there’s no immediate production plan
for the H350, commercial vehicles are the next logical step for Hyundai, with
the company already heavily invested in the passenger vehicle segment. This
unveiling follows news last month that the Korean manufacturer will offer the
first commercially available hydrogen-powered cars in Australia within two
years. The ACT Government has already lodged the first-ever order for 20 Hyundai
Fuel Cell Electric vehicles, due to be delivered in 2018.
The H350’s unveiling follows the report of
the Mercedes-Benz Vision Van earlier this month - a futuristic commercial
vehicle that paints an electric, rather than fuel cell-powered, picture of the
The all-electric Vision Van is powered by a
75 kW electric motor and can stretch to 270 km between recharges. While parts of
the concept seem a way off (the cargo area is fully automated and it comes
equipped with delivery drones that launch from its roof), the electric
technology powering it is available now.
What did we learn from Malaysia?
As they say in Australia “Ripper tune,
Boris!” Aussie Dan Ricciardo (Red Bull) won the Malaysian Grand Prix, after some
luck when Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) dropped out with engine failure.
Catastrophic engine failure.
The first corner set the action for the
entire race with Hamilton up and away, but Verstappen (Red Bull) and Vettel
(Ferrari) tangled, pitching Vettel into Rosberg (Mercedes) and tearing off the
Ferrari left front suspension. However Rosberg managed to get going, rejoining
in 17th place from previously 2nd BV (before Vettel).
The race seemed to settle for a few laps,
with Hamilton in charge and Rosberg carving his way through from well behind.
Another on the charge was Alonso (McLaren) who started stone motherless last
after being relegated with a 35 place grid slot (on a 22 slot grid) after not
eating his crusts or something equally as silly. Total FIA nonsense.
When the action and tyre changes did settle
about mid-race, Hamilton was secure in front of Ricciardo and Verstappen, who
then put on one of the best dices seen in years, side by side through corners 5,
6, 7, and 8 with Ricciardo coming out best on lap 39.
The next action was two laps later when
Hamilton’s engine let go leaving Ricciardo and Verstappen first and second, with
a distraught Hamilton raising the concept of a conspiracy to stop him winning
the championship. “My questions are to Mercedes – we have lost so many engines,”
he told the BBC. “There are eight drivers (using the Mercedes engines) and mine
are the only ones that have failed. Someone has to give me some answers and it
is not acceptable. Or someone doesn’t want me to win this year.
“It’s a brand new engine, I’ve done one
race with it. I did P3 with it, qualifying, it’s a brand new engine from the
three that I had. It’s just odd. There’s been like 43 engines from Mercedes and
only mine have gone. Something just doesn’t feel right, but there’s nothing I
can do about it. Something just doesn’t feel right.”
(It would appear that stoicism isn’t one of
Hamilton’s strong suits.)
After that excitement, there was more to
come, with Rosberg giving Raikkonen (Ferrari) a tail swipe and getting a 10
second time penalty for it, which did little other than show some bias against
the German, who still managed to get more than 10 seconds clear of Raikkonen and
claim 3rd outright.
The other strong drive came from Alonso to
finish 7th from his grid position in Indonesia.
This was a great Grand Prix, and this
week’s Japanese GP should be equally as exciting.
1 D Ricciardo Red Bull
2 M Verstappen Red Bull
3 N Rosberg Mercedes
4 K Raikkonen Ferrari
5 V Bottas Williams
6 S Perez Force India
7 F Alonso McLaren
8 N Hulkenberg Force India
9 J Button McLaren
10 J Palmer Renault
R F Nasr Sauber Brakes
R L Hamilton Mercedes Engine
R E Gutierrez Haas Lost wheel
R K Magnussen Renault Brakes
R Grosjean Haas Brakes
R S Vettel Ferrari Accident
Natter Nosh and Noggin
The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s
Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park. The next meeting is on Monday October 10
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 mentioned that last year a
vehicle clocked 140 km/h, which even the family Vios can do. But this time it
was significant. I asked Why? It was Human-powered pedaled by Todd Reichert on
the 19 September 2015.
So to this week. This car had three headlights, rear
engine, a dorsal fin and they made 3,000 of them. What was it?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!