Monday, 31 January 2011


The motoring media for past week or so and the front cover of the new Top Gear Mag have been dominated by this car......The Pagani Huayra.

The motoring media seem to have a few issues on how you pronounce it. Top Gear say it is "h-wire-a". Auto-Express have gone with "why-eera". Autocar say it is "Wirer" with a heavy Spanish accent - their words not mine. So I was very interested to see how Car and Driver cope. This is an American site and Americans do have very different pronunciations of car names - I know this as a "Jagwah" owner. Car and Driver have chickened out a bit on this, they just state that "here we thought 'Touareg' was hard to pronounce."

I find Car&Driver quite interesting - you get the Buicks and stuff that we don't see here - then you get their take on things like the Ford C-Max which is new to them and old-hat to us and you also get quirks likes the Volkswagen XL1 Concept which they claim will achieve 261mpg (not 261 mph which is how I originally read it) However, the British press claim it can do over 300mpg.

Does this mean that the British are more efficient drivers?

No, of course not - it means that a US gallon is smaller than an Imperial gallon. In fact, one US gallon equals 0.83267384 Imperial gallons if you really want to know (I didn't) but that doesn't explain why fuel is still considerably cheaper over there than it is over here.

Anyway, back to the Whoareya, it has gullwing doors and a 6-litre V12 AMG engine and fancy computer-controlled flaps that replace the tail-spoiler - it will also have a price-tag of about £1Million - on a par with it's predecessor - just a shame it looks so much like it...Actually, I think the Zonda is better looking.

And much easier to say.

Thursday, 20 January 2011


This story from the Torygraph begins thus:

"How to drive on motorways - with your feet up

Experts says that before long, driving along motorways will no longer be a chore - in fact it could be the very time to check your emails, surf the web, sip a cup of coffee or enjoy the Daily Telegraph "

Well that's wrong for a start - how can anyone "enjoy" the Daily Telegraph? They almost make people who believe the Daily Mail seem rational. Anyway, if you want to put your feet up, use cruise-control.

The story is about the SARTRE project which allows vehicles to travel very close together at reasonable speed on motorways while automatically linked and controlled by a lead driver.

Hopefully, the lead driver is sober, wide-awake and knows the route he is meant to be taking.

Getting through toll areas could be interesting too - especially if the guy in the fourth car in the convoy doesn't have the right change.
The picture is of tests being performed by Volvo using a truck as lead vehicle.

Now, if you're using a truck, why not let the following car drive into the truck, Knight-Rider style, and save a bit of fuel. The driver could then get out, have a walk about, maybe there could be a Costa Coffee franchise in the truck.

The options are endless.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Lots Of Trouble - Usually Serious

That was the old acronym for Lotus, given that the old Esprits and Eclats were never the most reliable of cars - much smoke and oil-leakage would often ensue.

They seem to have sorted their engines out nowadays so we can use the acronym to describe the wranglings going on in their F1 ambitions instead.

Last month, I gave my take on how I understood the sitiuation to be.

Today, the BBC business department have kindly clarified things.

I'm very optimistic about what the new Lotus boss, Dany Bahar, is doing and what he wants to do with the brand - he's already announced a series of five new cars over the next couple of years - and, most importantly, their names all begin with the letter E.

But this is a big gamble for Lotus and I think he's missing a serious trick by getting involved in F1. It will be bloody expensive and it will be linking Lotus with Renault - another Company who have had vehicle reliability issues in the past.

By leaving Tony Fernandes to continue with his plans, Lotus get a load of free publicity (albeit with a less successful and less attractive car) - expensive Court time and bad publicity are avoided and there is a lot more cash available to keep the road car business going while the new models are introduced.

Oops, I've just noticed that I've accidentally put up a picture of Dany Behr - silly me! Here's Dany Bahar:

Oh well - third time lucky:

That's better.

Friday, 14 January 2011

American Hot-Rod

This is quite an old programme and it's 2004 shows that they are airing on the Quest Channel at the moment and I have to say I'm finding them very enjoyable - which is unusual for me because I normally can't abide reality shows.

The show is about Boyd Coddington's Hot Rod Shop and the staff and staff interactions therein. It ran from 2004 until just before Boyd's death in 2008 although very few of the staff seem to have lasted long there.

I suppose I like it because you get to see a lot of the construction of the vehicles albeit in not as much detail as the Various-Vehicles Is Born Series where a veterinarian and an old bloke build or rebuild various projects - now that was educational and helped me understand a hell of a lot of what Boyd and Co. were getting up to.

The nearest modern show to American Hot-Rod is Bangla Bangers and its spin-off series Chop Shop:London Garage where a Cockney mechanic called Bernie and a Bangladeshi coachbuilder called Leepu swear at each other for 45 minutes while building wild and wonderful cars to tight deadlines then hug and say how wonderful each other are when it is finished.

Anyway, back to Boyd and his team...Duane Mayer is Boyd's number two. He makes a very good narrator and obviously is good at his job but he is ALWAYS MOANING.

Mike Curtis is obviously quite clever but comes over as completely gormless. This is because he doesn't move his mouth when he speaks. It was subsequently revealed that he had suffered severe facial injury in a high-speed car smash on the Salt-Lake beds.

Roy Schmidt is the grumpy old git in the series - but everyone respects his experience. If you believe Wikipedia, and I sometimes do, he sadly died of lung cancer.

Charlie Hutton looked after the Body Shop (where they prepare and paint the cars - not The Body Shop where women buy perfumes and stuff) - he was always the cheeriest person around.

Al Simon seemed to be the easiest-going one there who was also very experienced and always hidden behind his massive moustache.

Chad Geary (I can't find a picture of him) was a young, and it has to be said, immature worker who had a good surname for a car-worker and an unexplained nickname - "Bluebear". He was given (and squandered) a golden chance to build his own car for a competition against one Boyd was building. This really made Duane jealous and plenty of arguments ensued until Chad was eventually sacked.

As well as this lot, Boyd also employed his ex-wife - the mother of his children and a very effective accounts and HR person - and also he employed his newer, younger, prettier wife who liked to redesign the tee-shirts worn by the staff.

I suspect the TV people liked to liven things up for broadcast because there would be plenty of teambuilding trips out and practical jokes played inside that seemed very out of place. Boyd's management style left a fair bit to be desired anyway so it all added to a high staff-turnover and a very enjoyable show.

Catch it if you can at 7pm each evening.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Legard Disregarded

Yet another BBC story. BBC Sport have announced the new commentary team for the 2011 F1 Season. They've shown Jonathan Legard the door with Martin Brundle now taking over as main commentator and David Coulthard in the sidekick role. I never had any problems with Legard but according to a few articles elsewhere in the media, he "grated" with some viewers.

I thought the 2010 set-up worked very well, especially Martin Brundle's grid walkabouts where he would try and get reluctant drivers, team officials and members of various royal families to speak into his microphone. I also loved the interplay between Coulthard and Eddie Jordan. I hope they still have time for this.

The best ever commentary team for me though, was when James Hunt played the sidekick to this man - the king of motorsport commentators:

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Flasher Caught by Police and Found Guilty

I saw this story yesterday and considered commenting on it but only thought of a good title for the post this evening.

The story centres around Grimsby man Michael Thompson, 64 - don't know why his age is relevant. He saw a Police Speed Trap and did something that I, myself, often do when I see one - flashed the headlights to warn cars approaching from the other direction. I guess he must have been spotted by another officer who pulled him over, had a heated debate, and charged him with "wilfully obstructing a police officer in the course of her duties".

He was fined £175 and ordered to pay £250 costs. He was also ordered to pay a £15 "victim surcharge" whatever that is - I don't see any other victims here unless the policewoman operating the speed trap didn't achieve her capture bonus.

I'd have thought that the Police would have been in favour of preventing law-breaking - this is what he was doing by slowing down speeding traffic. Anyone not speeding wouldn't be affected and anyone who didn't spot him would deserve to be caught because they weren't being very observant in their driving.

Anyway, according to the Highway Code, flashing your headlights means "I am Here" - so he wasn't warning anyone about anything, he was merely advertising his presence.

Quentin Willson added his two cents today thus.

Mr.Thompson is appealing - which isn't a word I'd use to describe the arresting officer.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

1977 Peugeot 504 For Sale

Only one "careful" owner. White with light blue interior. Mint condition. Only 23000 miles on the clock - that's less than 700 miles a year! It has been stored in a warzone hot country so should be rust free and given it's age, it should be "quite" affordable. Mind you, when I say "careful" owner, he is a bit of a nutter. And as for "quite" affordable, latest bid is for $1Million.

Anyway, the full story behind this bargain is on the BBC News site here.