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Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Update November 26, 2016

Abu Dhabi GP this weekend

Abu Dhabi.

The Abu Dhabi Yas Marina grand prix circuit hosts the GP this weekend. Abu Dhabi is the most oil-rich in the region and the 5.55 kilometer Yas Marina Circuit has been built using the motorists’ money, extracted at the petrol pumps. Roll on electric power! It was also one of the most boring race tracks in living history and has been universally christened ‘Yawn’ Marina.

Located on Yas Island, the PR blurb said the track was set to revolutionize the design of future Formula One circuits. Boasting top speeds of 320 km/h and average speeds of 198 km/h, it features nine right turns and 11 left turns and is one of the few venues on the calendar to run in an anti-clockwise direction.

It was designed by circuit architect Hermann Tilke (so need I say more), and Yas Marina has a waterfront setting scenic enough to rival the likes of Monaco and Valencia, complete with a hotel that even changes color, but was just as boring as the former pair of venues.

All of the grandstands, including the massive hairpin seating area, are covered to protect spectators from the desert sun, whilst the state-of-the-art pit building boasts 40 garages.

As well as the waterside marina area, there are high-speed sections, tight corners for overtaking, and even a twisty street circuit-style sector. However, none of this prevents Yas (Yawn) Marina from being boring if the F1 cars cannot pass each other.

In an effort to boost the Abu Dhabi GP, our Bernie, the patron saint of dwarfs, dreamed up the concept of double points for the meeting a couple of years ago, a system universally disliked, with even Bernie admitting it wasn’t such a bright idea! So, no double points this year!

This year is the added attraction of witnessing the finale of the World Drivers Championship, which Rosberg dearly wants and will get if he finishes at least third if Hamilton wins. I predict that Hamilton will run away and hide, while Rosberg keeps his nose clean to finish third.

The race will start at 8 p.m. Thai time Sunday (also 8 p.m. Saturday for Qualifying), and I will be getting to Jameson’s Irish Pub around 7 p.m. for a bite to eat (Sunday roast is great value) and a glass or two. Come and join us for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which we watch on the big screen. It will be interesting to see how young Verstappen handles a circuit which history says does not allow passing.

What do you do with a loose $74 million?

Ferrari 250 GTO.

You buy ‘The Holy Grail of classic cars’, the classic Ferrari 250 GTO, that’s what you do.

As one of the world’s most sought-after classic cars, UK Ferrari specialist Talacrest predicts the one they have will become the world’s most expensive car; making it on to the free market for the first time in more than 20 years.

The 1962 classic was the second to roll off the Ferrari production line and is one of only 36 ever made.

It was raced at Le Mans and in spite of it being more than half a century old, it is capable of a top speed of more than 274 km/h.

It was used by the Ferrari factory for testing before it was sold to Luigi Chinetti and his legendary North American Racing Team (NART).

John Collins, who runs Talacrest, said he had been looking for a 250 GTO “for a while”.

He said the sale of Ferrari 250 GTOs usually only happened behind closed doors, but already he had fielded interest in the car.

“It is a beautiful Ferrari, the Holy Grail of classic cars and it has a great racing history, having finished sixth overall at Le Mans and first in class at Sebring.”

Collins said he expected a surge in investment interest following the US election and the purchase will secure a spot for the new owner on the Ferrari 70th anniversary tour next year.

Bonhams sold a Ferrari 250 GTO at a US auction in 2014 when it went for $50 million. Two years later, rarity and inflation sees a price tag of $74 million!

Grace, Space and Pace goes electric

Jaguar I-Pace.

Jaguar (yes, owned by Tata) has come up with a sports SUV called the I-Pace which is an electric car to rival the Tesla X and up-staging the forthcoming electric powered cars from Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Porsche.

Revealed as a concept at the Los Angeles show last month, it was shown in Virtual Reality, but Jaguar is saying that it will be in the showrooms by 2018.

The claims for the I-Pace include zero to 100 kays in under 4 seconds, with a range of 320 km on a two hour rapid charge.

The I-Pace has four electric motors producing 516 pound-feet of torque in its four powered wheels, with electric motors that together produce 400 horsepower. Batteries are slung along the floor of the chassis - keeping the center of gravity low, but not taking up passenger space consisting of liquid-cooled 90kWh lithium-ion battery pack. That allows Jaguar to build a higher, bigger vehicle with proportions that are more suited to the brand’s legacy of roomy, luxurious performance.

Jaguar has also worked hard on the aerodynamics of their new concept, with the I-Pace delivering a drag coefficient of 0.29. The aggressively styled crossover with its big wheelbase and short overhangs has the same footprint with a conventional mid-sized SUV but Jaguar claims they were able to design a cabin that offers the same room with some full-sized SUVs, especially at the back.

“I think what’s really great about this car is that we didn’t set ourselves any rules,” says Jaguar design chief Ian Callum. “Don’t try and make it look like an F-Type or give it an E-Type boat tail because that’s nice to have. Just accept the fact that this is a whole new vehicle and takes Jaguar’s rules to a whole new level.”

Helping a mate

 Been doing the rounds, but a friend of mine has two tickets for the Formula 1 final race of the season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, at the YAS Marina circuit on the weekend of 25th - 27th November.

They are box premier seats and business class flights, hospitality and hotel accommodation. He didn’t realize when he bought them that this is the same day as his wedding.

If you’re interested and want to go instead of him ...

It’s at St John’s Church, Worcester at 2.15 pm on the 26th. Her name is Janet. She’ll be the one in the white dress. It may help if you take a couple of hankies along.

Electrifying racing

 When motor racing began, there were petrol-engined cars, steam cars, electric cars and hybrids. Pretty well much the same as today, other than steam, which has fallen by the wayside.

The first ever race was on April 28, 1887 organized by the chief editor of Paris publication Le Vélocipède, Monsieur Fossier. It ran 2 kilometers from Neuilly Bridge to the Bois de Boulogne and was won by Georges Bouton of the De Dion-Bouton company, in a car he had constructed with Albert, the Comte de Dion, but since he was the only competitor to show up it is rather difficult to call it a race.

The world’s first real motor-race was won by Georges Lemaître in his Peugeot 3 hp on July 22, 1894, when the Parisian magazine Le Petit Journal organized the first car race from Paris to Rouen. Pierre Giffard, the paper’s editor, promoted it as a Competition for Horseless Carriages (Concours des Voitures sans Chevaux) that were not dangerous, easy to drive, and cheap during the journey. Sporting events were a tried and tested form of publicity stunt and circulation booster. The same holds true today, as otherwise why is Mercedes Benz and Ferrari in Formula 1?

There was controversy even then, as Count Jules-Albert de Dion was first into Rouen after 6 hours and 48 minutes at an average speed of 19 km/h, but De Dion’s steam car needed a stoker which was forbidden. (We do make things difficult for ourselves, don’t we!)

Other vehicles at the turn of the century that were used in motor racing include the Lohner-Porsche Mixte, the first series-hybrid. Instead of a massive battery-pack, an internal combustion engine built by Daimler, was fitted to a generator to drive the electric hub motors and (for vehicle reliability) a small battery pack.

For this and many other achievements Prof. Dr. Ing. h.c. Ferdinand Porsche, in 1996 was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and in 1999 posthumously won the award of Car Engineer of the Century.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that these three people had something in common, in automobiles? Desmond Llewelyn, “Q” in the James Bond movies, Harry Chapin, singer and James Dean actor. I asked what it was. Simple one this week really – they all died in car crashes.

So to this week. Sir William Lyons used an Mk VII Jaguar as his daily driver. What was different about his Mk VII compared to the run of the mill Mk VII’s? And here’s a clue – it was once owned by Rowan Atkinson, Mr. Bean himself.

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

Update November 19, 2016

Rolls-Royce offers the ultimate snobbery?

Fashion Roller.

“For Rolls-Royce owners, choosing which car to drive is like the rest of us choosing what outfit to wear,” a company spokesman said, noting the typical Rolls owner has between seven and 10 cars, or perhaps 20 from which to choose.

In a blending of the worlds of automobiles and fashion, the “House of Rolls-Royce” is rolling out Dawn models in Andalucian White, “the neutral canvas” on which your choice of three “vibrant” colors will be accented - Mugello Red, Cobalt Blue or Mandarin.

“Subtle accents of these colors adorn interior aspects of each Dawn,” the House of Rolls-Royce news release reports, “whilst the ‘Silent Ballet’ of the roof as it rises to provide shelter from the paparazzo’s lens unleashes a brushstroke of color to catch the style-spotter’s eye.”

“Our clients are the very arbiters of fashion, tastemakers who sit in the front row of the couture shows, themselves influencing evolving trends,” Giles Taylor, director of design for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, is quoted in the news release. “To them, the commissioning of fine luxury objects represents a deeply-involving curatorial process - with different forms of luxury design, craft and execution serving as inspiration for the other.

“‘Dawn - Inspired by Fashion’ convertibles will be available with colorful tops and interior trim. The styling details on the cars were done by a team of designers not just from the Rolls-Royce staff but also the worlds of fashion, textiles and luxury goods.

“Their work has seen the incorporation of fine silks and unexpected textures into the interior environment” of the cars, Rolls-Royce reports.

In addition to their brightly colored convertible tops, the fashion-inspired Dawns feature interiors in Arctic White leather and black trim, with accents in the same color as the car’s roof. Dashboards are done in Piano White with aluminum particles “resulting in a silk-like appearance” through a lacquering process that takes nine days.

Each car gets a bespoke clock, which Rolls-Royce characterizes as a piece of jewelry that emits “a silver-on-silver effect, evoking the metallic fabrics seen on this year’s catwalks.”

Rolls-Royce will begin taking orders for these vehicles now, with delivery in the spring of 2017. The Inspired by Fashion details should add about A$50,000 to the car’s A$335,000 list price.

What a load of codswallop! Expensive codswallop!

Bira Races on this weekend

The Escort leading the way through the Bira hairpin.

Contrary to what I reported last week, the postponed Toyo 3K meeting will be held at Bira this weekend (not last weekend), with the full card ranging from Thailand Touring Cars, Retro cars, Pick-ups, more sedans and even Daihatsu Mira’s.

This meeting was originally on the calendar for early November, but as this fell into the 30 day period of mourning, it was postponed and then rescheduled to this weekend.

We have the mighty little Escort ready for this meeting, and AA Insurance Brokers has helped us have the car looking as good as new, despite being 43 years old!

Drivers and cars will show black ribbons as marks of respect for Thailand’s late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.


Ready for the trip.

One big problem with racing cars is having to use tow cars and trailers to get them about the place. I should at this juncture tell you about my old tow car – I was the only doctor in Australia who had his own private ambulance, as I had purchased a secondhand retired ambulance, which was complete with stretchers in the back and lots of cubby holes for tools and such, where once it had been bandages and splints. It also meant we could sleep some crew members while on the move.

With the next closest circuit being 1000 km away, the ambulance allowed me to sleep for the overnight trip to Sydney. That was the plan. But all plans can go wrong.

Once such was around 2 a.m. and I was asleep in the back when I heard the rattle of stones under the mudguards, signifying that we had at least two wheels off the bitumen, and then there was a tremendous bang, after which I was wide awake.

There was a car on our side of the road but facing away from us, obviously on the wrong side of the road. The occupants appeared unhurt and were easily seen, as the entire driver’s side of the car was missing. It was also easily seen that they were drunk.

Our damage was limited to the front axle of the trailer, which now instead of being straight was in a nice bow shape. Piecing it all together, they had come round the corner too fast, running on to our side of the road and sideswiped the front axle of the four-wheel trailer, tearing out the two driver’s side doors on their car. It was a wonder that nobody was hurt.

Now this was the days before everyone had a mobile phone in their pocket and we had to wait till someone else came along to get them to alert the police in the next town. We then had to wait for another two hours, making it 4 a.m. before we could notify the authorities and would be free to continue our journey to Sydney.

To do that, we had to remove the entire front axle and place it on the trailer with the race car, and now with a two wheel trailer we set off on the remaining 300 km to the race circuit on the outskirts of Sydney.

We were unable to drive at the pace we had done before, and the trailer would start swaying at anything more than 30 km/h, but we droned on relentlessly, finally arriving at the circuit at 4 p.m., to be told that my practice and qualifying sessions were over, and since I had not raced at that circuit before I would be denied a start on Sunday, race day!

With much wringing of hands I saw the stewards of the meeting and began to plead my case. I swear I could have got Al Capone out of his tax rap, with the extenuating circumstances I cited. Eventually they took pity on me and said I could have four laps at the end of the day, and if I was quick enough and judged competent enough, I would get a start, but from the back row of the grid.

Waved out on to the circuit I had the Herculean task of setting fast laps on a circuit I had never seen before, but we managed it. At least we were guaranteed a start, even if it was grid position 29. However, we were there to race and finished 5th to the cheers of the crew.

So we then turned around and limped the 1,000 km back to Brisbane. Just another weekend of towing. Just another weekend of drama, but we were young enough to take it all in our stride, though we were all dreadfully late for work on the Monday!

The tow car saga is why we use slide-ons here!

F1 shoots itself in the foot

If ever there was an organization which knows how to shoot itself in the foot, it is the FIA. In the face of dwindling spectator numbers, the FIA mismanaged the Grand Prix in Brazil to the extent that there were loud boos from the crowd which was giving the event universal thumbs down.

The Brazil situation occurred when steady rain fell on the circuit, resulting in standing water and this was deemed by the FIA as too dangerous to have the usual standing start, so the entire field was to drone around, following the safety car, even though the drivers wanted the standing start.

What must not be forgotten is that the Formula 1 drivers are supposed to be the best drivers in the world, racing against each other in the best cars in the world. A true gladiatorial contest and pick your own lion.

The FIA then began stage-managing the race and stopping it twice with a delayed start, red flags and five safety car periods, after some drivers were caught out by the conditions, even though the majority of drivers wanted to continue racing.

This start-stop routine was being done under the mantle of “safety”, but do the spectators go there to watch “safety”? No, the spectators want derring do, wheel to wheel jousting to make for genuine 21st century heroes. But the FIA took it all away. “It’s too wet for you to play outside, so come in now.”

I am in no way denigrating the abilities of the current group of F1 pilots, but it takes real skill to handle the conditions experienced last Sunday. Eventual winner Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) even described the driving as “easy”, not putting a wheel wrong anywhere. Behind Hamilton were epic “saves” from Rosberg (Mercedes), Verstappen (Red Bull), Alonso (McLaren) and Vettel (Ferrari), mostly caused by poor visibility through the spray from the front runners. According to Pirelli, the extreme wet tyres evacuate 65 liters of water per second at 300 kph. However, when driving slowly, such as following the safety car, the volume of water expressed is much less.

So an eventful race went through to the full 71 laps with Hamilton an ‘easy’ winner, never being challenged at any stage. He said after the race, “Probably one of the easier ones, it was a very easy race generally. Honestly I didn’t have any spins, any moments, it was very straight forward.” Hamilton’s victory, his third in a succession, means he now trails Rosberg by 12 points with only Abu Dhabi, remaining.

Second was his team mate Rosberg, who was never looking like a champion all afternoon. In his defense, a crash would have meant he had no chance of securing the title, so caution was needed, but he looked timid in his approach to the race.

Man of the meeting was undoubtedly Max Verstappen who demonstrates an amazing talent every Grand Prix – and he is 19. What will he be like after he gets the key of the door?

1Hamilton Mercedes
2 Rosberg Mercedes
3 Verstappen Red Bull
4 Perez Force India
5 Vettel Ferrari
6 Sainz Toro Rosso
7 Hulkenberg Force India
8 Ricciardo Red Bull
9 Nasr Sauber
10 Alonso McLaren
11 Bottas Williams
12 Ocon Manor
13 Kvyat Toro Rosso
14 Magnussen Renault
15 Wehrlein Manor
16 Button McLaren


Gutierrez Haas
Massa Williams
Palmer Renault
Raikkonen Ferrari
Ericsson Sauber




Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that cut-off tails in motorcar styling became all the rage in the 60’s, with Aston Martin and the Bob-tailed Cooper Monaco being reminders. This was for aerodynamic improvements. I wanted to know who was the first to do this? I didn’t want the car, I wanted the designer. (And it isn’t the first one you think of either!) The answer to this was quite interesting. The first designer to patent the cut off tail was Baron Reinhard von Koenig-Fachsenfeld, but political pressure was brought to bear on him to relinquish his patent to Wunibald Kamm, so the Kamm tails should actually be Baron Reinhard von Koenig-Fachsenfeld tails!

So to this week. What did these three people have in common, in automobiles? Desmond Llewelyn, “Q” in the James Bond movies, Harry Chapin, singer and James Dean actor.

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

Update November 12, 2016

Brazil GP this weekend

Nuts in Brazil.

The Autodromo Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo Brazil plays host to the F1 circus in this their second last race for the season. However, with the Constructors championship already sealed, no nail biting down to the wire racing at this meeting.

The Brazilian GP has been famous over the years for the unruly crowd and circuit signs that fall down. With the time difference between that side of the world and us, I believe the event will begin at 11 p.m. Thai time on Sunday November 13. Being the world’s great optimist, we watch the big screen at Jameson’s Irish Pub, hoping for some nail-biting action. Come and join us for a few ales before the start. I will be sitting on my usual perch in front of the big screen in Jameson’s, so come and keep me company. We’ll have a couple of ales and rubbish the commentary, unless it is a nail-biting race. And pay particular attention to Herr Vettel’s Dario outbursts.

Interlagos Circuit History:

The name Interlagos comes from the Portuguese for ‘between the lakes’ because the circuit was built in a natural bowl which had two small lakes in it. Their position dictated the layout of the 7.2 km track which was built in 1954 close to Sao Paolo (Ayrton Senna’s home city).

Interlagos hosted the Brazilian GP from the first non-championship race in 1972 through to 1980, with the exception of 1978 when it was held in Rio de Janeiro. After 1980, it went to Rio again, until 1989 when it returned to Interlagos, where it has remained.

This coincided with a new layout which retained the old section on both sides of the start/finish line. The infield kept the character of the original, but lap distance was shortened from 7.2 km to 4.3 km. One of the new corners was named after Ayrton Senna.

The official name of the circuit is the Autodromo Carlos Pace in memory of Pace, the Brazilian, who scored the only Grand Prix win of his brief career at Interlagos in 1975.

Bira Races on this weekend too

The Escort leading the way through the Bira hairpin.

If it’s a little far to hop over to Brazil for the weekend, there are races at Bira this weekend, with the full card ranging from Thailand Touring Cars, Retro cars, Pick-ups, more sedans and even Daihatsu Mira’s.

This meeting was originally on the calendar for early November, but as this fell into the 30 day period of mourning, it was postponed and then rescheduled to this weekend.

We have the mighty little Escort ready for this meeting, and AA Insurance Brokers has helped us have the car looking as good as new, despite being 43 years old!

Drivers and cars will show black ribbons as marks of respect for Thailand’s late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Is my Mobileye still looking after me?

Last year I reported on a long term test I was going to do with the Mobileye people. This little bundle of electronics is in a small box that sits in front of the rear vision mirror, and looks down the road with the same angle of view as myself.

I have always been of the opinion that it is better to have a fence at the top of the cliff, rather than an ambulance at the bottom. Mobileye is that fence.

Mobileye communicates with me by sounding bells, chimes, rings and doing all but shake me. It also has a little monitor which tells me if my speed is such that I am too close to the car in front, and it also tells me if I have wandered out of my lane without indicating. The monitor will tell me that there is a pedestrian who I might like to avoid.

There is no guesswork with Mobileye’s view of the situations one can find one’s self in. If it tells me I have wandered out of the lane (again), then I have. It’s that simple. I also have learned to trust it, and when it gives me a warning, but I can’t instantly see what it is, I put myself on immediate alert. That has been worth a couple of near-misses that could have been fender-benders.

What I also like is when the Mobileye “sees” an immediate danger, the bells really start to chime, fast and loud. Undoubtedly, this is a good investment for all drivers, me included. An excellent use of technology in safety.

If you would like to learn more, contact:

Andrew Jones

General Manager, RMA Trading Co., Ltd.

Head of Purchasing, RMA Group

T: +66 3849-0123 ext: 1101

F: +66 3849-0124

Email: [email protected]


MG on the way up??

New MG 3.

Is it me? Or is it real? There appears to be more MG 3’s on the road every day. Fun styling, paint and decals makes for an attractive package, and while 106 bhp does not lend itself to neck-breaking acceleration, it is obviously enough for the Pattaya traffic.

The push by MG is not just in Thailand, where they are assembled, but the agency in Australia is also predicting big increases in sales down-under.

Price-wise it begins under 500,000 baht, so it is not being thrust into the eco group with Nissan March and Mitsubishi Mirage leading this section of the market.

MG does try and use the fact that MG history goes right back to the 1920’s with Cecil Kimber and Morris Garages building the first MG’s. Somehow I don’t think the current MG’s have any real connection to the roots of the name.

I should show my hand here, having owned several MG TC’s, raced MGA and MGB and was a works race driver for the company, so I admit to difficulties in relating to these “new” MG’s.

However, with more and more on the road, not everyone has such difficulties!

Malaysia deserts the sinking ship?

Max Verstappen.

The Malaysia sports minister admits their F1 race could be dropped as hosting fees rise and interest diminishes.

According to the New Strait Times, a special meeting is to be held with the major stakeholder in the Sepang International Circuit which first hosted a round of the world championship in 1999.

It is claimed that as hosting fees continue to rise 10% year on year, ticket sales have declined since 2014, sales consistently falling by 10%. By contrast, Moto GP consistently sells out, with last month’s event attracting 90,000 spectators.

“When we first hosted the F1 it was a big deal,” said sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin. “First in Asia outside Japan. Now so many venues. No first mover advantage. Not a novelty.”

“F1 ticket sales declining, TV viewership down,” he continued. Foreign visitors down because can choose Singapore, China, Middle East. Returns are not as big.”

“For the record I still think we should host Moto GP...1) Cheaper fee and cost, 2) Sellout crowd, 3) We have riders in Moto 2 and 3.”

Meanwhile, Razlan Razali, chief executive at the Sepang International Circuit, claims this year’s TV viewing figures of the race were the “worst in its history”.

“Maybe it will do Malaysia good to take a break,” he said. “I think the product is no longer exciting, it’s being dominated by one team.”

While admitting that there is a “watertight” contract to hold the race until 2018, Razlan insisted that a meeting has been convened to decide its future.

Further to Razali’s outburst, none of his statements are a surprise, as the spectators have been saying all that for some years, and the FIA’s ideas to ‘artificially’ spice up the racing does nothing other than devalue F1. Such concepts as 40 grid place penalties in a 22 car field is just ludicrous. And for that matter, introducing hybrid technology has not been a success. It has been an expensive failure. Spectators do not care what engine a car has got – spectators want to see drivers competing against each other, which is why Verstappen has become so popular. He at least has a go!

Autotrivia Quiz

 Last week I mentioned there was a device which was used in the early days of motoring to stop the car running backwards on hill starts. I asked what was it? It was a bar that dropped down from the rear of the car and dug into the road surface. It was called a Sprague (also spelled Sprag). I am also led to believe that it is an engineering term these days for a device to lock up the gears in a gear train.

So to this week. Cut-off tails in motorcar styling became all the rage in the 60’s, with Aston Martin and the Bob-tailed Cooper Monaco being reminders. This was for aerodynamic improvements. I want to know who was the first to do this? I don’t want the car, I want the designer. (And it isn’t the first one you think of either!)

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

Update November 5, 2016

Mercedes comes up with a BMW M5 rival

Benz or Beemer top of the tree?

Benz E63 S.

The next-generation BMW M5 has a turbocharged V8 and four-wheel-drive transmission, but now Mercedes-AMG has revealed the E63 S.

This new car has amazing specifications - a twin-turbocharged V8 and its established 4Matic AWD transmission, and the zero to 100 km/h time of 3.4 seconds. And this is a tin-top, not a race car!

With peak power and torque outputs of 450 kW and 850 Nm respectively, the new E63 S is the most powerful E-Class to date.

Mercedes has tailored the 4Matic+ transmission specifically for the newest E63 which is coupled to the company’s AMG Speedshift MCT automatic transmission, which has nine ratios and introduces an oil-immersed primary clutch.

Torque distribution to front and rear axles is described as “fully variable” which suggests power can be sent exclusively to either end depending on the circumstances and which of the various drive modes has been selected.

In addition to the more orthodox comfort and performance-focused modes, the new E63 introduces a Drift mode, which allocates all torque to just the rear axle for tyre-shredding burnouts and power oversteer. This of course is already available in the new Ford Focus with safety groups decrying this mode.

The new V8 has two twin-scroll turbos for improved response and reduced lag, while cylinder deactivation has boosted fuel efficiency.

There are body clues as to the differing E- Class models, with this top of the line having a wider track at the front (17 mm) on 20 inch wheels.

What’s the old nail worth?

Jensen Interceptor.

With the British Pound doing a swan dive, this has meant that UK oldies are relatively cheaper than ever. Here are a few auction results this month:

1. 1924 Bentley 3 / 4.5 Liter Tourer - £297,440

2. 1959 Jaguar XK150SE 3.4 Liter DHC - £257,400

3. 1954 Aston Martin DB2/4 Saloon - £196,768

4. 1930 Aston Martin International 1.5 Liter Short Chassis Tourer - £125,840

5. 1935 Lagonda M45A Le Mans-Style Tourer - £118,976

6. 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I All-Weather Tourer - £114,400

7. 1934 Alvis Speed 20SC Vanden Plas-Style Tourer - £74,360

8. 1964 Jaguar E-Type 3.8 Liter Coupe - £80,800

9. 1966 Jaguar E-Type 4.2 Liter Roadster - £68,640

10. 1974 Jensen Interceptor 111 £68,640

At the time of going to press the exchange rate was 1 pound STG to 42.5 THB, so get your calculators out. (Who remembers when the Pound went to 75 THB?)

B-Quik returns to the Sepang 12 hour

B-Quik Audi.

B-Quik Racing is entered for the Sepang 12 Hours for the third consecutive year, with the driver lineup from previously, Henk J. Kiks, Daniel Bilski and Peter Kox, in the Audi R8 LMS Cup. Last year they finished in third place.

It is reported that there will be an influx of European teams onto the entry list to take on the best from Asia as SRO Motorsports Group moves into its second year promoting the Sepang 12 Hours. And just like last year, the switch from a mid year date to December has been carried over thus making it the end of season closer for global sports car racing.

Henk J. Kiks is coming off the back of a solid season in Thailand Super Series’ Super Car GTM with the Audi R8 LMS Cup, his third year driving the car in Thailand’s premier racing category.

B-Quik Racing has also announced that Peter Kox, one of the leading international sports car drivers, will rejoin the line-up having driven for B-Quik for the first time in the 2015 Sepang 12 Hours. The Dutchman, a former factory driver for McLaren, Aston Martin and Lamborghini, has also competed in the Le Mans 24 Hours no less than thirteen times, sensationally winning in 2003.

Cox’s record in the Sepang 12 Hours is excellent too. He won the race overall in 2010 on his debut and then was runner up in 2013 on his second visit. Last year he finished third in the B-Quik Audi.

Daniel Bilski is also racing in Super Car GTM this year, his second season in the category and his first racing an Audi R8. The Australian has enjoyed a very strong year in Thailand having made five trips to the podium from the seven races so far and he’s currently sitting in third place in the Super Car GTM Drivers’ classification. Bilski was the 2015 Audi R8 Cup’s Amateur Class Champion so he is also conversant with the Audi.

(Source. FastTrack Media)

GM’s diesel plans

 Detroit News reported that General Motors is hoping to attract disaffected Volkswagen AG diesel customers with a new turbo-diesel version of its 2018 Chevrolet Equinox crossover and diesel versions of its Chevrolet Cruze and new Cruze Hatchback.

The Detroit automaker’s bet on diesel comes, though, as sales have slowed in the U.S. due to Volkswagen’s costly exhaust emissions cheating scandal, now one year old.

“Clearly, what’s happened at VW creates an opportunity for us,” GM North America President Alan Batey told reporters recently in Detroit. “So we’ll do everything we can to seize the opportunity.”

Registrations of diesel cars and light trucks in the U.S. through the first seven months of 2016 totaled 246,256 - just 2.4 percent of the market, according to IHS Markit. That’s 40,116 less from the same period in 2015.

To me, it becomes obvious that nobody in GM knows how to handle statistics. Diesel in the US is 2.4 percent of the market, or in other words 97.6 percent are not diesel.

U.S. diesel sales are down more than 37 percent through September this year compared to the same months in 2015, according to It says the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel pickup is the No. 1 diesel in the U.S. through September with an estimated 39,997 sold; that’s followed closely by the Ford Transit diesel van.

Despite that sales plunge, the number of available diesel models in the U.S. is expected to grow. The Diesel Technology Forum, an industry organization, says 49 diesel-powered cars, SUVs, truck and vans are available today; that will grow to 61 by the end of 2017, it believes. Falling popularity, falling sales and an increasingly congested marketplace.

So here is GM falling into the trap it did a few years back, building cars that the public doesn’t want! And then have to engage in price-cutting wars to get them off the showroom floors.

Studying history and statistics should be compulsory for GM management.

GM plans for China

General Motors Chevrolet brand said it plans to introduce more than 20 new or significantly refreshed vehicles in China by the end of 2020 as part of its growth plans for one of its global brands.

The Detroit automaker said nearly 30 percent of the vehicles would be SUVs and almost half would be new entries for the China market. The offerings also include vehicles with turbocharged engines, diesels (again), hybrids and plug-in hybrid electrics.

“Chevrolet will continue to strengthen the best model lineup in the brand’s history in China,” Alan Batey, GM North America president and head of Global Chevrolet, said. “In the coming years, we will roll out breakthrough products with technologies that improve safety, performance and fuel efficiency for our customers.”

GM said most of the new vehicles will be made in China by the company’s SAIC-GM joint venture, with many refined for China by the automaker’s Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center joint venture. GM said at least five vehicles debuted this year, including the Malibu XL, the Malibu XL Hybrid, the new Cruze, a Cavalier family sedan and the sixth-generation Camaro muscle car.

China is the second largest market for Chevrolet and overall is GM’s largest sales market. Last year, Chevy’s China sales fell 9.7 percent to 612,024, which GM said mainly was due to model changeovers. Chevrolet sales this year through September in China totaled 346,920, down nearly 21.6 percent from the same months in 2015.

“As a relatively young brand in China, Chevrolet is reaching more and more customers every day,” Chevrolet Chief Marketing Officer Tim Mahoney said in a statement. “With the introduction of additional exciting, never-before-available products in China, we expect the brand’s recognition to grow.”

Last year, GM said through 2018 that it would invest $14 billion in new vehicles, manufacturing facilities and other areas of the business in China. It also announced in 2015 that it would invest $5 billion to strengthen the Chevy brand in global growth markets, including China.

So Hamilton won in the USA and it was Mexico last weekend

With the telecast of the race from the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) being at a most unsociable hour, starting at 2 a.m. I missed the visual spectacle. From all the reports I have read, it tended towards boring, as many of the GP’s have been this year. Hamilton had a good start for once and never put a wheel wrong. However, in the post race interviews he played for sympathy, saying he was worried all race long that the car might fail to reach the finish. Oh, the poor dear! How long has he been racing? He should know that motor racing is 90 percent frustration and 10 percent fun. I hate to think how many races I’ve lost through engines with a hand grenade inside and gearboxes with teeth missing!

So to Mexico, and my perch in Jameson’s. Mexico suffered the same fate as the COTA being telecast here at 2 a.m. I don’t need Horlicks at that time in the morning, so I’ll read all about it on the Monday.

While the UK is cheering Hamilton towards a possible 4th World Driver’s Championship, his po face when he doesn’t win turns me right off!

With the way the points are at present, the championship is Rosberg’s to lose, while Hamilton needs wins and preferably a Rosberg DNF.

Autotrivia Quiz

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? It was the Studebaker Avanti designed by Raymond Lowey.

So to this week. There was a device which was used in the early days of motoring to stop the car running backwards on hill starts. What was it?

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

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GM’s diesel plans

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So Hamilton won in the USA and it was Mexico last weekend

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