Saturday, 26 March 2011

Traffic Nights

I heard this story on the radio yesterday but it looks like the only motoring site to pick up on it is Fifth Gear's. They've illustrated it with a picture of a Mercedes SLK - albeit at night, but there isn't a traffic light in sight - the picture I found is much better. Anyway, the story is saying that The Government is drawing up plans to switch traffic lights to just flashing amber at night on quiet roads in order to cut down on unnecessary waiting at red lights.

Good. It will save on fuel and driver frustration.

The AA bloke they interviewed said that the idea sounded good in principle but could have serious safety implications: "The idea that drunks and young drivers are going to get to the flashing lights after midnight and say 'after you' is nonsense."

A bit unfair on young people - the reckless ones, and the drunks, would be causing accidents anyway. Besides, some drunks are very placid and relaxed - over-friendly in fact.

I don't see any particular dangers here - I've heard of examples of traffic light failures and improved traffic flow resulting - drivers not having to wait so long but being extra cautious when pulling out. Here's an example from the car-unfriendly town of Oxford from just a couple of weeks ago. It comes with a typical Tory Councillor photo of the councillor standing next to whatever he or she is talking about.

While they are at it, let's also introduce the "Right Turn on Red" rule that most American States have adopted whereby it is permissible to go through a red light if turning right onto a main road providing nothing is coming past. Needless to say, I hope the powers to be would alter the rule for Britain to be "LEFT Turn on Red" or there may be a few nasty incidents - probably involving BMWs.

Of course, what I'm really hoping is that, after dark, the same rules will kick in for food "traffic light" labelling so I'll be able to eat all the crap I'm usually supposed to avoid...

Friday, 18 March 2011

Monkey Business

Staff at Longleat Safari Park have given their monkeys a car according to The BBC today.They could have chosen a better one though.

A C-Class saloon of that vintage only has one (admittedly large) windscreen wiper.

That is nowhere near enough to satisfy that number of monkeys.

Actually, looking at that picture a bit more closely, that isn't a saloon - it's an estate. That means twice the window-wiper fun!

To be fair, Longleat did also supply a roof-rack with a suitcase so that would help a little.

I visited Longleat a few years back but, much to my childrens' annoyance, I took the detour which avoided the risk of monkeys attacking or defecating upon my beloved car.

This story mustn't be confused with the Daily Mail's attempt in 2009 to reinforce the anti-Scouse stereotype as mentioned in my post Mexican Stand-off when they ran this story about the monkeys in Knowsley Safari Park in Liverpool.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Paint Your Wagon

Some pictures of an incident in South Africa involving a 25 litre paint tub that had been carried on the back seat of a Fiat Palio:

Friday, 4 March 2011

Bristol's Gone Tits Up

Nothing for ages then two stories from Autocar on consecutive days.
Bristol Cars have gone into Administration. Unfortunate but not surprising given their attitude towards their clientelle. They almost chose their customers - only selling vehicles to people they approved of - usually landed gentry or ex-RAF types or pipe-smokers.

But probably not Bill Bailey.

Groucho Marx once said "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member" but for me the reverse is true - I'd refuse to join any club that discriminated against Groucho - and I'm no Marxist.

When I'm a famous film writer/actor/dirctor I'll only go to the post-Oscar party that lets in the plebs.

There will be many reasons for Bristol failing - not least the current economic climate. I've been looking out for the new 11-Reg cars that were let loose on Tuesday and so far, I've still only spotted one - it was still a Punto.

Another reason would be Bristol's reputation. They make old-fashioned cars and are snooty.

A third reason could be the looks of the cars. The Fighter looks like a TVR from the '90s. The Blenheim looks like a Ford from the '80s. The Blenheim Speedster looks like an Austin Healey from the '60s and the Series 6 looks like a Fiat from the same period. Check them out at the Bristol Website.

So what now? Who would want to buy them? VW are in the market for more brands. (Check out that link to see where I've just cut-and-pasted the last bit of this article from) I don't see any of the large manufacturers needing Bristol unless some of the Malaysians or Koreans just wanted the name.

Whoever takes it on (and I suppose I hope someone does - Bristol Cars is something like "Songs of Praise" or "The Archers" - I have no interest in them but am glad they are there) will have to change the Bristol philosophy to advertising and to letting the motoring media loose on their products. They make lots of claims about the performance and driving experience but don't seem to want it verified or reviewed. They need more customers and more publicity. If you search Google Images for pipe-smokers you get an awful lot of dead people: Harold Wilson, J.R.R.Tolkien, Douglas Bader, Amos & Mr.Wilks from Emmerdale Farm.

Curiously, you also get some pretty girls smoking pipes - I think that must be a particular fetish.

Anyway Bristol, YOU NEED TO CHANGE YOUR CUSTOMER BASE! This lot won't keep you afloat:

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Alfa Romeo & Juliet

Looks like the Volkswagen Group are courting Alfa Romeo.

Don't think much of the chat-up line though:
Volkswagen’s Chairman Ferdinand Piech announced in Geneva that the company would be able to almost quadruple annual sales of Fiat’s ailing Alfa Romeo brand.

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has refused to sell the brand – “As long as I am CEO of Chrysler and Fiat, Mr. Piech will never have Alfa Romeo”

Didn't think it would work.

Autocar are running the story today.

They talk of Alfa failing to meet sales targets but there will be many reasons for this - not least the current economic climate. I've been looking out for the new 11-Reg cars that were let loose on Tuesday and so far, I've only spotted one - it was a Punto though so Sergio should be pleased.

Another reason could still be Alfa's reputation. Saint Jeremy states that you can't be a proper petrol-head unless you've owned an Alfa. I disagree. I've never even sat in one and have no desire to - it's like smoking or sky-diving - I have no desires in that direction. Mind you, out of those three options, the Alfa is the one I am most likely to attempt. Years of reading about Alfa has, maybe wrongly, prejudiced me against the brand - whether it is the seating position that suits Orang-Utans or the woeful reliability or the abysmal customer care - all issues that could be resolved by now for all I know - but I'm not bothered enough to find out.

A third reason could be the looks of the cars. I'm sorry if my view goes against everyone else here, but I think the Mito is downright ugly. I think it's the headlights that do it - they are the wrong shape and too far apart and there's not enough of them.

Compare it with the gorgeous Brera from a few years back:
They seem to have lost the plot along the way somewhere.

Not as badly, though, as when they got into bed with Datsun. Don't be jealous, Herr Piech, their love-child was an abomination combining Japanese style with Italian reliability instead of the other way around.

I am actually quite surprised that VW would want the Alfa brand, the only way I could see it working would be to stick Alfa badges on the Seat range and shut down a few factories and I don't think anyone would want that.

In fact it would be a tragedy.