Monday, 26 May 2014

No More Ferrero Rocher?

It could be the end of the road for the Ambassador.
No, not the Austin Ambassador, that ended in the mid '80s.  It looks like it is the end of the road for the Hindustan Ambassador: 
In its original guise as the Morris Oxford, this car has been in production since the late '40s.  The original Morris tooling was sold to the Indian company that has been manufacturing the same car (with a few updates) ever since.  They were particularly popular as taxis.  A look at Google images shows a few have been registerd in the UK too - obviously for people nostalgic about Morris cars of the past.
It looks like its age and 1940s design has finally caught up with it though and a couple of sites have the story this weekend of the shutdown of the Hindustan Motors Uttarpara Plant.  The Business Standard of India have it here.  They aren't saying it is the end but they are suspending production (and not paying the workforce) in order to "help the company cut mounting liabilities, restructure its finances and arrive at a situation conducive to reopening the plant".
Reasons for the failure are being speculated as "mounting losses, paucity of funds, growing indiscipline and low productivity". 
Autoweek also carry the story.  But they seem more interested in speculating about what would be the longest-running car design in production if this really is the end of the Morris/Hindustan motor.  They fail to discuss the merits of The Land-Rover but do mention the Beetle, the Morgan 4/4 and the Lotus/Caterham Seven.
Who could be in trouble too.
Autoguide say it is up for sale. Tony Fernandes wants to sell his road-car and F1 operations.  That may have more to do though with his football team returning to the English Premier League this weekend. QPR have a sizeable debt and will also need to invest big-time to stay there.
At the end of the day, Caterham Sevens will be more attractive than Hindustan Ambassadors so they have a better chance of winning the longevity awards.  Better than Caterham F1 getting any points and better than QPR prospering in the Premier League.
If you're wondering about the Ferrero Rocher reference - well they are the Ambassador's balls:

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Viva Vauxy

I guess someone at The Mail must read Auto Express.

They have produced this story based on that story.

At least they credited Auto Express.

The story is of the return of the Vauxhall Viva to British shores - albeit in name only.

It would be more of a story if the new car was a small-ish saloon rather than a direct replacement for the Agila.

Auto Express, of course, do a much better job of the story.  The Mail version is peppered with mistakes including calling a Viva Mark III (or HC) a Mark I (HA)


They also had the new one selling for the price of the original this morning but they have managed to correct that now.

The Mail being The Mail is also surrounded by adverts that only morons would believe such as "journalist finds way to buy an iPad for £2.50" or "fat-busting pills the doctors don't want you to know about" while it also has links on the page to "juicy" gossip about people nobody has heard of such as (and these are genuine) "Queen of the quick change: Tamsin Egerton holds court in summery pink dress at beach photocall before switching to elegant gown" or "'The only one hungry for attention is you!': US Model Carmen Ortega hits back at Lauren Goodger and continues to threaten lawsuit for belfie 'theft'"

That second one is particularly gibberish.

I do wish they didn't sometimes have interesting car articles - I could safely delete it from my favourites then.

Anyway, for The Mail journalists, here are the four iterations - IN ORDER - of the Viva:

I have to say, that fourth one doesn't really light my candle.  The Mail seem upset that it is being built in Korea when the others were built in Ellesmere Port but since Ellesmere Port is where they build the Astra which is the spiritual and ACTUAL successor to the Viva I don't really see the issue.
Ford have reintroduced the Escort - but only in China.  It's the car that matters not the name so The Mail have just got a story out of nothing really.
And so have I.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Put the Bloody Phone Down!

Quite often, I see people talking on their hand-held mobile phones while driving - sometimes in large vehicles.

This irritates me.

But at least they are looking out of their windscreens.

I've never seen anyone texting while driving but I know it happens.

This infuriates me and worries me.

According to this Autoguide story, a recent survey found that 69 percent of American drivers found texters the most aggravating, while the tailgater received 60 percent of the responses. Odd that the top two annoyances cover 139% of those responding.  Even odder is their choice of picture to illustrate text-driving:
It seems to depict a scene in 1990s Britain, where a woman is using a Nokia mobile in a right-hand-drive Mercedes which is heading for the grass verge while another rather silly woman is standing with two children in the road.
Now text-drivers have a good chance of ending up in a crash.
And it looks like they could then end up being filmed by other drivers using their mobiles in camera-mode.
The BBC have this story here.
Police Officers at the scene of a crash in Northamptonshire noticed motorists taking photographs as they drove past on the opposite carriageway.  So the Police then started photographing the offending drivers with a view to later prosecutions.
Strangely enough, the British story features a left-hand drive car interior.  I can neither identify the car nor the phone...
...but I would say it is from the 2000s and it does look a bit Opel-ish.
Mind you, put "phone driving" into Google Images and it looks like everyone is at it.
Put the Bloody Phone Down!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Communist Plot

Whilst perusing Rossiyskaya Gazeta this morning I noticed that old Vlad Putin is continuing his mission to return Russia to the 1970s.

Actually, I found the story in

The gist is that the Russian government has engaged Porsche to help four Russian car makers develop a unique range of new vehicles for official Russian government use including a limo so they don't have to keep relying on their stretched Merc S-Classes.

The mock-ups imply they want Rolls-Royces with Ford Mondeo steering wheels:
These look a bit better though than the mock-ups from this 2010 CarScoops story where this proposed ZiL was designed using Minecraft...
...and involves the rear-end of a 1976 Cadillac Seville.
It's probably where we get the term "Red Square" from.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Jane Shunt

That's what Morecambe & Wise used to call James Hunt.

Like in this advert:

I was reminded of it when I saw this headline in The Mail Online today:

Just popping out to the shops! F1 boss Ecclestone's son-in-law James Stunt goes to an art gallery in Chelsea with a Lamborghini, TWO Rolls-Royces and a Range Rover

Bit verbose for a headline that.

It goes with this non-story...

...which comes with this picture:
Showing the Range Rover, two Rolls & a Lambo that James Stunt (yes, that really does appear to be his name) took to an art gallery.
James appears to be a billionaire married to a billionaire's daughter.
According to The Mail, he made his fortune in the gaming industry with ties to the shipping and mining sectors.  This implies he is self-made - quite impressive for a 28 year-old.  Even more impressive is that he was 32 years old last week.
I have to admit, I have no real interest in this story.
Apart from this photo: 
Is that Biggins walking past?