Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Who's The Boss?

That was quite a good series in its day - especially the character Mona played by Katherine Helmond.  And isn't Judith Light scary now as the old biddie in Dallas?  This was much better than the British version, The Upper Hand.  There seems to be new version of this now called Melissa & Joey.
But that's besides the point.
A lot of Ferrari employees may now be asking the question, Who's the boss?
This follows on from today's news (in Autocar for example) that Ferrari are being split off from the parent Fiat-Chrysler organisation - or FCA as it's known by its friends.  Ferrari will be a stand-alone company.
It feels like only 23 days ago that I was reporting on the changes at Ferrari with FCA boss Sergio Marchionne taking Ferrari over from Luca di Montezemolo.
Today, FCA currently owns 90 per cent of Ferrari, while the other 10 per cent is owned by the son of Enzo Ferrari.  Apparently,10% of FCA's interest in Ferrari will be offered to public investors. The remainder will be distributed among FCA shareholders.
So FCA shareholders will own 81% of Ferrari and more if they buy some of the publicly offered shares.
So will they be happy for Sergio to continue in charge?
Interesting times.
Meanwhile Fiat are getting involved with interesting cars:
This is from this story.  It's a much more interesting story.  Possibly because it doesn't talk about shareholdings.  But probably because it discusses a concept premiered at the Sao Paulo motor show in Brazil.  It's a coupe SUV which I shouldn't like given how much I hate the looks of the BMW X6.
But this one, the FCC4, is longer than an X6 and not as tall - and looks really cool.  Will the Brazilians go nuts for it?  I don't see why not.
But if they don't, blame the boss.  Whoever that is.

Monday, 27 October 2014

How do you get four elephants in a Mini?

Two in the front, two in the back

How do you get four giraffes in a Mini?

You can't - it's full up with elephants.

In my day, people broke records for the number of people they could crush into a Mini.

It still happens.
But that's a new Mini not a proper Mini.  They're bound to get more in.
That photo (and record)  appear in this plug for the new Guinness Book of World Records book that is appearing in MSN Cars at the moment - a plethora of motoring records.
As plugs go, it is quite an interesting one.  Partly because not only does it feature Edd China in a couple, but it also features the Honda BTCC Team in a couple.  Win-win as far as I'm concerned.

 It also features the longest car in the World, complete with helipad and helicopter:
I particluarly like the fastest bathroom including Edd China, dirty washing and rubber duckies: 
and also this VW Scirocco which hasn't won the "most boring" title (I can think of many candidates for that category - Japan and Korea I'm looking at you) but has won the most powered by coffee category - a Sciroccocino if you will.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Losing Focus

I'm only posting this because I know she is making a full recovery.

This has to be one of the scariest videos I have ever seen.

It looks like the driver was making a very foolish manoeuvre.

It was caught on film by a Polish truck driver (who was somewhat involved) and reported in Belgian news (for that is where it happened) back in August here and updated recently here including comments from the unfortunate (or maybe very fortunate) Focus Driver.  You may want to use a translate tool if, like me, you aren't familiar with the Dutch language.

This picture graphically shows the immediate aftermath.
Good job it was a left-hand drive car.
The video has gone viral and I can't say I'm surprised.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Don't Cry For Jeremy Argentina

I thought that the hoo-ha about the Top Gear Argentina Special would have blown over by now.

But watching Have I Got A Bit More News For You? last night convinced me otherwise.

For those who have been out of circulation for the last couple of weeks, the Top Gear presenters and crew has to abandon their trip through Argentina due to an unfortunate number plate on a Porsche driven by Jeremy.  Most news outlets reported it - here's the Telegraph's take on it.  The offending number plate was H982 FKL.
Some say that was a deliberate reference to The Falklands Conflict.  Top Gear say that it was a coincidence.  Others say that H982 refers to the year of the conflict (although it actually 1982) while obviously the FKL is from FalKLands which the Argentinians like to call Las Malvinas.

I can see some concern there.

Although a local councillor there lost some credibility when he said that the digits 269 on the number plate of the Ford Mustang Richard Hammond was driving were close to the 255 Britons killed during the 1982 war and that the numbers 646 on James May's Lotus could be taken as a reference to the 649 Argentinian casualties.

No they couldn't.

Top Gear are insisting that this was an unfortunate coincidence and that nobody realised the significance of H982 FKL until it was pointed out to them and then lots of war veterans (aged in their twenties according to Jeremy) started throwing stones at them.

There is no doubt that that Porsche has had that number plate for at least 10 years - this means that they didn't deliberately change it.  However, they could have deliberately bought that car due to its number plate.

They deny that they did this.

They also point out that when the significance of H982 FKL was pointed out, they changed the plates on the car.

This is true, there are photos of the car carrying H1 VAE.

That plate apparently belongs to a Porsche 911.  Maybe the original owner (maybe with initials VAE - perhaps ex-Brookside actor Vince Earl?) traded in the Top Gear Porsche for his 911 taking his personal number with him and left the old physical plates in the car when it got re-registered.

Sounds a reasonable scenario - it would explain why there was a spare set of plates in the car.

So the story can die away now?


Clarkson writes for The Sun so the other papers want to keep twisting the knife.

This weekend, The Independent had an interview with the Argentinian ambassador to the UK, Alicia Castro.  She accuses Jeremy of portraying Argentinians as savages.  I only really mention it because I like her quote, "We eat a lot of beef, but we have never eaten a journalist."

However, news has now emerged of another set of plates with the car.  This is what they were talking about last night on HIGNFY.
These were almost certainly meant for Jeremy as a joke to be used at some point in the show.
Being pedantic, I hate mixing upper and lower case letters in words - I find it particularly iRriTatINg.  But "BE11 END" is clearly meant to be "Bell-End" - a penile insult probably lost on most non-Brits.
So why would they expect to need a new set of plates?  Without seeing a script it does look a bit dodgy.
The Star took it a bit far though, claiming Jeremy could end up in prison.  Apparently, "The DVLA has said it is an offence to drive a car in the UK or abroad with a plate which is different to the one assigned to the vehicle."
Well, I doubt if the DVLA have any authority in Argentina and there is no evidence of it being driven with the wrong plates over here.
Besides, The Star's main story today is a complete hoax that they have fallen for about a giant crab.
So maybe not a very reliable source of news?

Monday, 6 October 2014

Car Body Language

It's all change at Ferrari.

Alonso is out and Vettel is in.

But, more significantly, di Montezemolo is out and Marchionne is in.

Both these changes seem to be F1 related.

Well, obviously the first one is!  It is covered in this week's news from many sources including The BBC who also covered the news last month about Sergio Marchionne taking over the chairman's chair from Luca di Montezemolo.  As can be seen in that article, there is speculation that Luca's departure is him being pushed out due to disagreements with Marchionne.  These will be partly down to the very poor recent performance of the Ferrari F1 team.  I don't see swapping Alonso for Vettel altering things there - the problem is the car not the driver - I reckon Alonso is the better of the two albeit not by a lot.

Anyway, as boss of Fiat-Chrysler, the parent company of Ferrari, Marchionne has the power to take over and that is what is happening - on October 13th to be precise.

Which leaves things a little awkward for them at the Paris Motor Show this week.  Paris saw the last ever Ferrari press conference for Luca with Sergio there to "support" him.  Andrew Frankel of Autocar covered it in two articles first factually, then artistically.

The first article reports the usual corporate press-conferencey stuff - the future direction of the company etc. and does have the little dig where Marchionne claimed his most important priority was to return Scuderia Ferrari to the top of Formula 1, a goal he described as a "non-negotiable objective."

The second article looks at how the two men appeared at the press-conference:
The outgoing boss is enthusiastic and open while his successor looks bored off his trolley and decidely uncomfortable.
It makes an interesting read.
And I know who will be the happier man on October 13th.