Monday, 29 October 2012

A Real Sports Wagon?

This looks a lot more exciting than the Kia Cee'd Sportswagon I was reading about in my latest Top Gear Magazine this morning. Kia's car is the latest in a series of estate cars from various manufacturers made to appear more exciting by being given slight variations on the spelling of "Sportswagon" as a sobriquet.

The photo comes from today's Autoguide story about a Volvo Racing Estate Show-car.

I'm seriously hoping that this is a pre-cursor to a Volvo entry in next year's British Touring Cars Championship - following in the footsteps of MG as a Chinese-owned European car-maker wanting a bit of sporting publicity. We need more manufacturer teams in the BTCC and the paint-job chosen for this car pays homage to the Volvo 850 estates that competed in the BTCC during the BTCC hey-day of the '90s.
The show-car has a 2-litre engine so sticking a turbo on there would fit in perfectly with the NGTC Regulations currently used in the BTCC.
So come on Volvo, let's see those wagons roll!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Fox Speculate On Killing President

Killing Lincoln to be precise - This is a car blog after all.While I'm sure Fox News will continue to character-assassinate President Obama, this story of theirs today is about Ford possibly killing Lincoln. This is on the back of earlier this year when they (and then I) reported about a Lincoln MKZ show-car literally smoking and back in 2010 when Ford announced the end Mercury.

All that Jim Farley, Ford's group vice president of marketing and sales would say is "Stay tuned!"

Now President Lincoln was killed in Ford's Theatre while President Kennedy was killed in a Lincoln. See the Ford link? But then again, President Ford survived his own presidency and lived a very long life afterwards.

Quite a fusion of coincidences to focus on there.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Americans Are Interested in Vauxhall

Or are they?

Most of the American sites I follow are very interested in the Vauxhall Cascada - they are even showing photos of right-hand-drive cars with British Number Plates.
Although the Google images that stood out for me when I searched were this one of the Cascada's early predecessor, the Vauxhall Cavalier Convertible:
and this one apparently of a Singer Cascada:
I remember Singer cars from my youth but don't remember one that pretty - actually - I'll take that back - the later (1970s) Singer Rapiers were nice. Singer were part of the Rootes group who eventually found themselves under the ownership of PSA Peugeot-Citroen.

But I have digressed somewhat. Or have I?

The reason that America is so interested in this Vauxhall is that it may well get re-badged as a Buick Regal over there. Here is the Fox News story on it.

The Buick Regal, of course, should not be confused with the Reliant Regal:
Vauxhall, or as it is known in the rest of the World, Opel, is GM's loss-making, European arm - hence the interest in the Cascada being the new Regal soft-top. The GM accountants, however, are more interested in the loss-making part of that sentence - and a possible solution has been mooted this week. This Autocar story covers it quite well. It talks of a possible merger between Vauxhall-Opel & Peugeot-Citroen although GM would only own 30% of the new organisation.

I don't like the sound of this - it sounds more like a take-over and given the model-range overlap would probably lead to some factory closures - and probably not in France.

The article states that "According to Automotive News Europe, this tentative plan is said to have been one of a number of ideas being considered by the management teams of PSA and GM, including selling Opel outright to PSA or GM buying PSA’s automotive division"

I guess it will all come down to whether or not the Americans are interested in Vauxhall.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Classic Car Rescue

Since Channel 5 lost Fifth Gear to Discovery UK, they have obviously needed something else to fill that gap and they have come up with Classic Car Rescue.
It's on a Monday evening at 8pm (9pm Channel 5+1 Time) We are now half-way through the series.

In this Blog, I will review the show in the style of…the show. You will read me giving my opinions of the bust-ups and the work that goes on in restoring some classic motors from the past, turning them from barely scrap value to (literally) prize condition. I will comment about how Cockney mechanic Bernie Fineman has teamed up with Canadian Car Salesman Mario Pacione (no, I hadn’t a clue about him either) to buy and restore classic cars such as the E-Type Jag and an MGB GT. I’ll also tell you about their very contrived arguments and apparently catastrophic set-backs.

I was fully aware of Bernie Fineman from his previous work on Bangla Bangers and Chop Shop, London Garage – a couple of Channel 4 series where he was teamed up with a Bangladeshi designer so that they could have very fake arguments and produce some impressive-looking motors. I had never heard of Mario Pacione and wouldn’t be surprised if Bernie hadn’t either before he was teamed up with him to make this series.

This series is definitely more of the same except the arguments seem even more fake.

Each episode starts with them deciding what make of classic car to restore – so far we’ve had an E-Type, a Porsche 911 and an MGB and next week, it’s a Mustang. Once the car has been decided upon, Bernie will go out and about and try to find one. First, he will succeed in finding one that is a complete mess that the seller wants far too much money for. Bernie will then succeed in finding another one that is also a mess. He will then buy that one at a price that either he or Mario is not happy with. We will then be told how much it will cost to restore the car and that, to keep down costs, Bernie’s team of mechanics will be given a very, very short time period in which to do it.

Both partners will go out and source some spare or replacement parts from some local Cockney and/or Asian characters. Would it be wrong to call this ethnic group Cockasians?

Then it’s time for a near disaster followed by one of the partners (usually Mario) doing something really stupid and the other partner shouting at him, then storming off.

Next we get the good bit of the show – a look at the actual restoration work interspersed with a few interesting facts and figures about the history and manufacture of the featured car.

Now it’s time for a break – this Blog is sponsored by Adrian Flux Insurance – at least I wish it was – I could do with the cash. After the break, I’ll tell you about the door-slamming and how a posh bloke will value the car at more than was spent on it. There’s also a chance to win a copy of the finished Blog.Adrian Flux – for all your insurance needs – I’d like them to sponsor my Blog now please.

In the first part of this Blog, we learned that Cockney mechanic Bernie Fineman has teamed up with Canadian Car Salesman Mario Pacione to buy and restore classic cars. We know Bernie buys a classic car in need of much work and gives his team a very short timescale to complete it. Some parts will have been purchased and Bernie will then have had a contrived argument with Mario and one of them will have stormed off, slamming a door very loudly behind him.

We then see the conclusion of the restoration including the paint-job and the electrics. This is very reminiscent of American Hot-Rod and the whole series does have a strong American Hot-Rod vibe. Which is good. Mostly.

Each episode ends with a professional car valuer turning up in his BMW 850 and telling them what he believes the restored car to be worth. It’s been a respectable profit each time so far. The production company then presumably buy the car and give it away to the winner of an expensive-to-enter competition.

So, it’s a case of enjoyable car bits, and very irritating fake bits – like American Hot-Rod. Now, if you would like to win* a copy of this Blog, just answer this easy question and transfer £1.50 into my bank account:

What is Bernie Fineman’s surname?
C: £1.50

*Terms and conditions apply – the main one being that this isn’t a real competition.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

X Marks The Ugly Spot

I was following a BMW X6 the other day.
I still think they look stupid.

And when I say "following" - I was behind it in traffic - I don't associate myself with anyone daft enough to own one.

Maybe it's something about cars that have names beginning with "X".

Autoguide today have this story about the Volkswagen XL1 testing in Spain. They use this still from a spy-video:
It is a diesel hybrid with a 2-cylinder engine so it sounds absolutely awful in their video but it looks beautiful in the picture.

So what about my argument about X cars being ugly?

Well, I give you how the car is meant to look:
That is pig-ugly and the only real difference is the covering of the rear wheels - a bit like the McLaren X-1 which features on the cover of this month's Top Gear Magazine.
Note the X name. It was built by McLaren as a one-off for a very rich, and presumably blind, customer.

Which brings us back, rather neatly, to BMW and their X1:
Quite ugly, although the earlier incarnation looks OK in this Top Gear story from 2009...
...although that may have something to do with the bikini.

Now, regular readers of my Blog will know that I, myself, drive an X car - a Jaguar X-Type.

This is clearly the exception that proves the rule.

If I was on television right now, I would turn to a side-camera, shrug, and say, "No, I don't understand that saying either."

As a child of the '70s, I like my cars to be big and square and I love the looks of my car even if some people think the X-Type boring. Mind you, designer Paul Smith (turn to side-camera and shrug in an "I've never heard of him, either" sort of way) was obviously inspired (or commissioned) to come up with this:
Enough said, I think.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Left, Right?

Back at the start of Summer, I posted about Alexei Sayle becoming a motoring correspondent with The Daily Telegraph.I think I don't particularly like his motoring writing - his latest piece, on the Paris Motor Show, is quite short and quite vague. It does, however, really wind up a small number of Telegraph readers who like to vent their spleen in the comments section. This amuses me very much and I enjoy their annoyance.

I have made the point myself in the past that the better motoring columns tend to be found in the more obnoxious right-wing media - Fox News, The Telegraph and The Mail.

But, then again, I hadn't really looked in the left-wing media.

So I took a look in The Mirror.

I did find two of my favourite correspondents, Richard Hammond & Quentin Willson. But overall, it is quite a disappointing site and very rarely updated - it's had the same couple of stories including one about an electric car called "The Lightning" on its header for at least three weeks now - and some very intrusive advertising.

Socialist Worker doesn't appear to have a motoring section.

I think they should.

Now, who on Earth could they possibly get to be their star guest motoring correspondent?