Friday, 28 October 2011

Is This the Saddest Page on the Internet?

No, not the one you're reading right now. I'm talking about the one I stumbled upon while trying to establish whether or not there was a W.H.Smith at Chester Services on the M56.

It was this one.

It was probably a waste of time me looking it up anyway - there seems to be a W.H.Smith at every Motorway Services in the UK.

Before I found that one, I did think for a while that this could be the saddest site on the Global Interweb.

But then I spent a good three-quarters of an hour looking up my local and oft-used roads. Someone needs to update their A483 bit.

The site does go rather sad when you venture into the forums but steer clear of them and it is all quite interesting and even entertaining.

They also link in to another site with the story of my local motorway. I'll forgive them for labelling it "pathetic".

I also like their amusing roadsigns section...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

120mph Crash-Test

Fifth Gear returned to our screens a-week-ago-last-Friday. I completely missed it. I guess either I don't watch enough Channel 5 (quite probable) so missed their trailers or they haven't been plugging it much (quite possible). Not even noticed anything on their website although it's mostly just the news section that I go straight to anyway while looking for interesting stories I can comment on for my Blog.

I finally caught up with the episode I missed on the i-5-Player-on-Demand thingy tonight.

I noticed on episode 2 which I managed to catch OK that there was no sign of Jason Plato. He also doesn't appear in episode 1. I hope that is just because he was busy coming third in this year's BTCC and that he will return to our screens soon.

Anyway, I digress.

One thing that Fifth Gear have always done well is interesting Crash-Tests. This was no exception, launching a Ford Focus at 120mph into a concrete block.

The results are sobering...

And if the video's knackered - I don't trust embedding stuff from Channel 5 - use this to get at it.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Top Gear USA

"It's like being aroused with a gun pointing at you."

BBC Three showed the first edition of Top Gear USA this weekend - or, as it's called over there, Top Gear. I knew there had to be a good reason for BBC Three existing.

It has the same basic format as the orginal (and best!) version with 3 middling aged blokes and a Stig. Their Stig seems less of a mythical creature though.

They still have "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" but they call it "Big Star, Small Car". Their big star was Buzz Aldrin but the interview was very poor - it just seemed to be them listing previous cars he had owned then showing his lap. He seemed to have some trouble finding fifth which implies they are using a manual - this flies on the face of my earlier posting, Automatic For The (American) People. I suppose that they may do what the British version does and have a second, automatic car that can be used with guests who can't use a stick-shift.

Their presenters have much stranger names than ours:

Tanner Foust seems to be their equivalent of Richard Hammond.

Rutledge Wood must be the James May equivalent because he isn't the Richard Hammondy one and he isn't the front man. Also, if you type "Rutledge Wood" into Google Images, on the third row of the results, you get a picture of James.

This leaves the one that concerns me a bit:

Adam Ferrara. He is described as a "renowned petrolhead" which always rings alarm bells for me. When it comes to presenters of car shows, I have always believed that the best ones need to have a racing or motoring journalism background - Adam is a stand-up and a comedy actor. He does have a relatively normal name though.

It's still early days yet and the banter seemed quite forced. The jury is still out. They will need time to gel and establish a pecking order. I'm guessing this must have happened because they are on Season 2 over The Pond. I'll certainly keep watching with interest.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Commuting at 80mph

I'm combining a couple of stories here.

The BBC had a reasonably interesting article today about how Americans are commuting a lot more nowadays highlighting a particular poor woman who has a 2-hour commute in each direction - although it might be better if she didn't use public transport.

It made me think of my own commute which I think I actually enjoy. It's a 25 minute 22-mile journey on motorway and good A Roads which takes me into and then out of Wales through nice bits of countryside. The only downside is, once a week, someone places a dead badger on the side of the A548.

Or, I suppose the badgers living near that road just don't cope well with traffic and it is just coincidence that one a week is being hit.

This compares with my old commute which was only 12.5 miles but took about the same time because it involved a tunnel and lots of city roads and traffic lights - yuk. Oh yes, and driving towards a blinding sun every Spring and Autumn. Never find work East of your home.

My commute would be marginally quicker if I did the motorway bit at 80mph but I wouldn't enjoy it as much and my fuel consumption would definitely suffer. There has been quite a bit of media coverage, even as far afield as Australia, of Government proposals to increase the motorway speed limit from 70 to 80mph.

My good friend in Scotland blogged this subject at the weekend and I added my 2 cents worth for good measure. Then this week, as reported in Autocar and Fifth Gear, Chris Huhne, Government Energy Secretary and prominent Liberal Democrat, came up with the idea that the 80mph limit could perhaps only apply to electric vehicles.


There are so many arguments as to why this is such a stupid idea but how about trying to police it for one.

Also, will Audi drivers be able to buy a stick-on plug socket to make their cars look electric?

Also, how many EVs will run out of juice on the motorway third lane?

I suppose that if you are caught driving your petrol-engined car at 80mph you could always pretend that someone else was driving.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Sonic The Hothatch

Is it the latest game from Nintendo?

No, it's the latest car from Chevrolet - as covered in this Autoguide story.

It's another example of a rebadged Daewoo creeping into the American market - I suspect it will do badly simply because of its size but I suspect the Chevrolet badge should help a bit.

It is a 4 cylinder 1.4 engine - enough to make Louis-Joseph Chevrolet spin in his grave - albeit at an economical rate of rpm.

The paintjob is reminiscent of a Scalextric Mini Cooper but the car seems to be what we in Britain would call an Aveo but with Spark rear doors bolted on.They say there won't be an "SS" version. SS has nothing to do with the Nazis in this case but is the sports tuning moniker that Chevrolet use on higher performance models. Sonic does have previous racing conotations though...