Sunday, 27 December 2015

2013 Astra For Sale

Seemed to be very reasonably priced too.

Actually it wasn't.  The e-Bay Auction finished this morning and it went for £17800 which is quite a lot for a 2013 Astra.

Especially one that can't be legally driven on UK roads.

Even if Will Smith has had a go in it.
But it was for charity - the auction - not the Will Smith bit.
It is the most recent Top Gear "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" car.  I found the story on the Fox News Site.  Can't say it's been well publicised.

You do get a look at the driver's view though.
Don't know why but I was expecting something different to Astra bog-standard.

I guess this means that this car will not be featuring in the new look show.  This may mean that the whole "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" segment could be dead.

Or they've just chosen another new car.

The Telegraph have been speculating a bit on the new series lately.  In this article, they claim that Chris Evans is giving up TFI Friday (I don't usually agree with The Telegraph but I did think it was a bit much him taking on that as well as his radio show and Top Gear) and on the new presenters.

I have heard that he will be joined by the names mentioned - Sabine Schmitz, Chris Harris & David Coulthard and, I have to say, if it's right, then that is a very strong team.

More than reasonable in fact.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Chrysler Everyone!!

I mean "Merry Christmas!"

Although, if you put "Merry Chrysler" into Google Images you get this picture:
So, it's Christmas Eve, when motorists are driving home for Christmas.  Which, of course, reminds us of the Chris Rea Christmas classic, "Road To Hell".

He likes his motoring songs does Chris - as well as "Road To Hell" and "Girl in a Sports Car", he's also done one called "Driving Home for Christmas."

Of course I jest - this is a brilliant track.  I found this nice version of the video where Chris seems to have turned into 1970s Capri Driver Martin Shaw.  When watching it, try not too think too much of the Frankie Boyle tweet about it though, "He's a violent & abusive father. His family have moved to hide from him. He's just found out where they are staying."   

Meanwhile, satirical website Newsbiscuit have their own take on Chris.

Merry Chrysler Everyone!!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Here’s What the Future of Acura Sedans Will Look Like.

What?  A Mazda parked somewhere dark?

I hate these teaser pictures.  Unhelpful and designed to get people talking about products they don't normally bother about.

Like I am now.

This is the Autoguide story I took the Post Title from.

This is better from Car+Driver.

The car is a Concept for the Detroit Auto-Show next month and it is called "The Precision Concept".  Since Acura is the Honda for posh-people, I'm getting a whiff of pretension here.

“The Acura Precision Concept will signal the stronger and sharper focus of Acura styling on our core DNA we call ‘precision crafted performance’,” said Dave Marek, global creative director for the Acura brand. “It is our intention to more strongly express performance through design and the Acura Precision Concept will serve as the inspiration for the styling and proportion of the next-generation of Acura vehicles, especially for our sedans.”

I'd call it  "The Acura Pretension Concept".


Monday, 7 December 2015

The History of Gears

Fifth Gear is now on ITV4.

It came as a bit of a shock to me when I spotted it in The Radio Times a few weeks ago.  Especially as I had just been catching up on the repeats of the Discovery Channel episodes which were being shown on Quest - as I predicted when I found out they were going to Discovery back in September 2012.

I'm not sure why they moved from Discovery but I suspect the answer could lie in a quote from this article in from September 2014 which quotes the chief exec of North One TV (who make the show) that "establishing free-to-air distribution for the show was also vital because the additional viewing figures helped secure the backing of car manufacturers for the series."  As it is, The History Channel get the first airing of the shows but then ITV4 get them half-a-year or more later..

Maybe that is why the Twitter account of Tiff Needell (or Tiffany Dell) uses a historical picture when he tells us the news:
Or is that Barry Sheene?

Maybe they were struggling a bit with lower viewing figures resulting from going over to the dark side.

I could have told them that - I mean, don't get me started on F1!

Why not?


Apologies if you've just spent ages reading that rant.  Back to the story or history of Gears.  I've just started to get back in to Fifth Gear after a three year absence.  Vicki seems to be pregnant again and Jason Plato has disappeared again although they are borrowing Karun Chandok who seems to be doing a good job in his place.

At this point I started explaining to one of my sons where Fifth Gear actually came from.  About how BBC2 decided they had had enough of Top Gear (one of their highest rating shows - albeit more about cars and motoring than entertainment) so decommissioned it.  And how the Top Gear team went over to Channel 5 but The Beeb wouldn't let them take the name with them so they called it Fifth Gear.  Then The Beeb realised the error of their ways and got former host Jeremy Clarkson in to front a new version which is what we are more familiar with now.

This prompted me to get onto YouTube and find some old 1980s and 1990s Top Gear episodes which is something I do from time to time at the slightest excuse.  It is difficult to comprehend just how posh Jeremy was in those days - entertaining on a different level.  And nice to see William Woollard again.

Anyway, here is a timeline as I see it right now - with Fifth Gear strewn over five channels.
Somehow, even though it will be on Pay TV, I don't think Clarkson, May & Hammond (or whatever it will be called) will have problems with "securing the backing of car manufacturers for the series."

Not that I'll be watching it until it turns up on YouTube or Dave or wherever it is free.

Meanwhile, I will be definitely be watching with interest Chris Evans presenting an all-newer Top Gear.

That will be the future of Gears.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Robot Cars/Car Wars/Robocar - take your pick.

Most of the motoring media has picked up on this story this week - but my favourite take on it is from - although this picture has a lot to do with that:
C3PO looks terrified!

Forumla e is getting a support race.

And, being formula e, it's no ordinary support race - the cars will still be electric (of course) but they will also be missing drivers.  It is a race for autonomous cars.

The cars will be (hardware speaking) identical - which I think is a bit of a missed opportunity - but they can worry about that in the future.  The only difference will be the AI software - I'm wondering if that will mean that each race will pan out in the same way but I'm intrigued enough to want to know more.

Not worrying about driver-safety (or driver existence) will impact on the car design but hopefully crowd safety will still play a part.  Remote cut-out switches perhaps?

Post-race interviews will be held with software geeks but, speaking as a software geek, I don't mind that.

In fact, I look forward to getting a phone call from Nicole Scherzinger.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Pilot Error

Actually it's Driver Error - I just happened to find this story whilst flicking through the Virginian Pilot - the prime news source for Norfolk, VA, USA and its environs.

Here's the link.

It tells the story of two young car thieves who chanced upon a Chevrolet Impala sat at the back of a Post Office with the engine running.

The only occupant was an eight-year-old boy.

So they took the car, dropping him off at school on the way.  I suppose as car thieves go, they were either reasonably nice or reasonably inept.  They abandoned the car later on and completely missed the iPhone that had been left in there that was used to trace the car.

The car owner, however, does not seem very nice - to the environment and probably to her employers either - or to her child really.

It seems that every working day she would have to be at work 20 to 30 minutes before he had to be at school, so she parked the car outside the post office where she worked and let him sit inside, with the engine running listening to music.  Then, presumably, she would sneak out of work to drive him to school.  If her employers were not aware of this before, they are now.

The picture with the article is just a boring shot of the Norfolk Post Office:
So here's a picture of my favourite person from Norfolk (albeit the wrong Norfolk for this story) and an Alvis:

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

A Couple of Daft News Stories

In a difficult week, we need some lighter news.

Last Friday, Car+Driver gave us this story:
It involves a Google Self-Driving car being stopped by a traffic cop in California for driving too slow.  Another reason to dislike these horrible little vehicles.  The Google marketing spin was quite good though:

"We’ve capped the speed of our prototype vehicles at 25mph for safety reasons. We want them to feel friendly and approachable, rather than zooming scarily through neighborhood streets. Like this officer, people sometimes flag us down when they want to know more about our project. After 1.2 million miles of autonomous driving (that’s the human equivalent of 90 years of driving experience), we’re proud to say we’ve never been ticketed!"

Not yet anyway.  They've not yet had their CHiPs.

Talking of Friday 13th and ghosties and googlies, do you know what this is?
Well I'll tell you.

It's a ghost trying to recall.

Just the one.

Literally one car.

Not one model range - one car.

In America.

They have a product recall out on a Rolls-Royce Ghost like this one but with a dodgy airbag labelling issue:
Now, with possibly ineffective airbags, I hope it doesn't go bump in the night.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

A Lorry Carrying Bleach Shed Its Load at a Notorious Accident Blackspot Today...

Turning it immediately into a notorious accident whitespot.

The BBC have an item on unusual things spilled onto Britain's roads.

I'm not sure they should have included the deaths of 1500 chickens in a light-hearted article but never mind.

I thought this picture looked a bit horrific when you look at where the cab of the tanker is:
I guess the emergency services must have done that though given that, in this article, they state that "nobody was seriously injured."

There were a couple of spillages this month that could have made the list.

The first involved the M4 being shut by handwipes and diesel.  Maybe they used the forner to mop up the latter.

The second was a milk spill on the M42.

Still, you know what they say...

"No point in crying over spilt milk."

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Tesla Time-Up?

Watch out Nikola, there's a new kid on the block.

Another famous physicist:
He may not look as debonair, but he does do an impressive cage:
This is the news that Faraday Future are coming to take on Tesla in the posh electric car market.

Only thing is, nobody really knows who they are.

Here is their Website.

If you look on their website, you will see that they have poached several senior Tesla staff.  Or maybe they haven't - maybe this is a secret offshoot project of Tesla themselves.

They call themselves FF - like the Ferrari - could it be the Fiat/Chrysler Group?

Most speculation, like in this article, backed up by stories from various news sources who charge you to read them, is that it is Apple who are behind this.

After all, on the FF recruitment page, they ask you to "apply" to them.

Sounds very Appley to me.

On a more sensible note, Faraday Future & Apple are both in California (albeit different ends of the State) and it does look like Apple have been hiring hundreds of people to work on their new car slated for a 2019 launch.

Meanwhile, we await the news of Alessandra Volta teaming up with Microsoft:

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Gone in 20 Years

Rather a sad story on BBC News today about the probable theft of a, judging by the number plate - 1978, Ford Mustang.

Unusual too in that it could have gone at any time in the last 20 years.

The owner was too ill to visit the car which was stored in a garage some way from his home - and only when he passed away did his family realise that it was no longer in there.

An American car like this would certainly have stood out in Welwyn Garden City so Police are hoping that someone would remember it being moved.

Now I know Starsky & Hutch used a Torino, twin headlamps and all that, but that Mustang would be an ideal base for a S&H Tribute car.

So I asked Google for pictures of UK S&H lookalikes.

Nothing doing Mustang-wise but I did spot this:
About the same age probably.

And if that got stolen, the story would be about someone losing his Cherry.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Vultures Are Circling

Don't you just hate lawyers?

I've just found this full-page advert in my local free paper:
After years of annoying us with awful TV and radio ads (and nuisance phone calls) about the mis-selling of PPI, it looks like they are now trying to get their greedy little paws on VW Group Diesel car owners.

And, they are going about it in a particularly amateurish way.

Apart from the misspelling of mis-selling, they seem to think that Passat is a brand of car within the VW Group.

It also states that "£6.5 Million set aside by motor industry."

Nope.  Not even a real sentence.  To be fair, they did get the 6.5 bit right.

Actually 6.5 Billion Euros has been set aside by the VW Group - that is about £4.75 Billion.

So, if you want to know "What's the implications" - don't bother with this lot.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Oil Painting

I do like a Lego story.

So I was all ready to post something about this one from Autoguide.
They are asking readers to vote to get this rather nice BMW M3 (E30 flavour) made into a saleable model kit.

But then this Autoguide story caught my eye.

This one is about photographer Freddy Fabris using car mechanics to recreate several world-famous Renaissance paintings.

Here is is take on "The Anatomy Lesson" by Rembrandt:
And here is one that Rembrandt himself made earlier:
I do hope that these really are car mechanics pratting about and not actors.

Here's the Fabris version of "The Last Supper" by da Vinci (with added halo):
And again, the orginal (with added doorway underneath)
I particularly like the phrase from the Autoguide write-up that goes, "Blending two worlds that seemingly would never meet, considering automobiles didn’t exist during the Renaissance period"

Having said that, I did hear that Judas had a chariot.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Insurance Bond

Today is Back To The Future Day.

But I covered that last week so let's talk James Bond instead.

Here he is getting out of his Aston Martin DB10 - a car you can't actually buy.
Therefore, it would be a nightmare to insure.  I've just renewed my car insurance so I know it can be a bit pricey - mine was not far short of £300.  But I do have full no-claims discount.

One company I didn't ask for a quote from though, was Kwik Fit Insurance.  I've heard several stories over the years of people going in to Kwik Fit Centres with a puncture, or needing some cheap tyres, and being told they need a new exhaust and a new set of shocks.


So imagine trying to get a motor insurance quote and finding out you need life insurance and pet insurance too.

Kwik Fit have also come up with a quote for Mr.Bond.

Here it is.

It seems to take in to account third-party items that I'm not sure he would be liable for - like damage to a Jaguar C-X75 (also unavailable for sale - and unavailable for replace as new) but surely it is the responsibility of whoever looks after Spectre's insurance.  I'd imagine they would accept knock-for-knock on that one.

It also takes into account "Number of near-death experiences" but doesn't mention occupation.  He could call himself "Navy Officer" or "Government Employee" in which case, that might not be too bad.  I don't remember seeing "assassin" on my form so that may not be an option.

Obviously Mr.Bond will not have built up a no-claims.

Kwik Fit seem to think that Q has to foot the bill.  If so, he could do a lot worse than seeing what Confused can do for him - bound to be cheaper than Kwik Fit's £1.5 million.

And he'll get a free Brian toy.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

I Asked Google for a picture of Christopher Lloyd with a Taxi

But there weren't any decent ones - despite him being a star of the brilliant series Taxi.

Here's one of him from around that time:
In this photo, I think he looks like that bloke who plays Nick in New Girl who was also in Jurassic World.  If they ever do a Back To The Future where they go back to when Doc Brown was about thirty, then that's the guy to play him.

Talking of Back To The Future, here's a picture of Michael J.Fox with a taxi.
Also talking of Back To The Future, have you noticed the date?  It's October 15th, 2015.

Which is nearly October 21st, 2015.

Which is the date that Marty & Doc travelled to in Back To The Future II.

Here's a taster for a video that Toyota will be releasing on that date next week:

And remember, Toyota's posh arm, Lexus, have been working on a Hoverboard:

Unfortunately, it uses Maglev technology so we won't be seeing it on the streets of October 2015.

Meanwhile, Toyota's own view of the future doesn't look brilliant for us petrolheads.  Not if you only read the headlines anyway:




Although if you click on the links (these are just 3 of plenty) you will see that they want to concentrate on hydrogen and hybrids so there will still be some gas being burned in the hybrids at least.

And they do all state that electric cars are not a big part of their plans.

So I guess the guys at Investor's Business Daily just went by the headlines.

If only there was some way of travelling forward to 2050 to find out...

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

I Asked Google for a Picture of Richard Osman with Jeremy Clarkson

But it couldn't find one.

So here's a picture of Richard Osman with a picture of Jeremy Clarkson.
Richard might not be too comfortable with that.

I've just watched last night's "Have I Got a Bit More News For You?" - the extended version of last Friday's "Have I Got News for You?"

Jeremy was hosting and Richard was a guest - two of my most favourite people on telly.  Richard, the urbane, witty and very likeable Quizzer and Jeremy - who is simply Jeremy.

There were a few unusual rants early on in the show.  Paul Merton had a go at Trident and Ian Hislop kicked off about Lord Ashcroft.  Reasonable subjects to get annoyed with but they seemed strange in the context of the show.

There was also some right-wing journalist there to make snide remarks the way that right-wing journalists tend to do.

And she did.

But nowhere near as badly as Richard did - and all of his were directed at Jeremy.  I don't know what Jeremy has done to offend him but he went completely over the top - calling him a cock, past his prime, who knows less about cars than Chris Evans - things got personal.

I know Richard's eye condition, nystagmus, means that he isn't allowed to drive - so maybe he was turned down to appear as a "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car".

Google also can't find any pictures of Richard Osman with Richard Hammond.

Or with James May either.

Now that would explain it.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Smoke and Mirrors

Rear-view mirrors?  Well this is a motoring story.

For the past few days, my local electronic road-sign has been informing me (and anyone else passing it) that as of October 1st, it is illegal to smoke in a car when a "U18" is present.  They must have been just short of enough characters to write "child".

The law did indeed change on Thursday - the Beeb cover it here.  Including a video of a very selfish woman called Lucy Hardcastle.

I first broached the subject back in 2010 with my detailed analysis entitled, "Doctors Today Urged that Smoking be Banned in Cars - Are They Right?"

Anyway, according to Auntie Beeb, the new law states that "A law banning smoking in vehicles carrying children has come into force in England and Wales"

I think it needs a bit of clarification though.  They do state that e-Cigs are not included - and, quite sensibly, people in convertibles with the hood down are not included.  I would imagine cigars will be included.  But what about smoking pipes, or pot?  Or whatever it is that this doll that they used for the research is smoking:
And here's another question...
What happens when it is the U18 that is doing the smoking?

Wednesday, 30 September 2015


Remember back in the optimistic days of Spring 2014 when Tesco started hinting at its forthcoming Fuelsave promotion?

Well today is the last day that you can spend all of those Fuelsave savings.

No, it didn't have a big impact on my life either.

Anyway, to make up for it, Sainsbury's kick off their new fuel/moneysaving promotion.

The Telegraph report it thusly:   Sainsbury's launches '5p a litre discount'

The deal is that Sainsburys give you 10 Nectar Points for every litre of fuel you buy off them.

But they already give you one point per litre anyway. And Nectar Points, being mostly rubbish, are only worth a halfpenny anyway.  And, given that this only lasts for October, and they've stopped giving points for re-using carrier bags and they've stopped selling two packs of crumpets for £1 - well, I'll not be retiring this month.

Still, here's a nice picture of an old bus in a Sainsburys filling station:
I'm presuming it was an open-top BEFORE it went under the canopy.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

What has the VW XL1 Got in Common With the Beastie Boys?

Two things actually.

I dislike both and they both wear a VW badge.
My main argument with the XL1 is how ugly it is. But I covered that back in 2012.  It does, however, have something in its favour in that it gets exceptional economy and ultra-low emissions per mile out of its little diesel engine.

Or so Volkswagen claimed anyway.

But can you trust them?

Even the non-motoring press has exploded this week about the VW emissions scandal.  Here's a pretty good, albeit brief, summary from BBC News. Today it was announced, as was suspected all along, that it wasn't just US cars affected.

Their boss, Martin Winterkorn, has Winter-gone.
They could lose their Economy World Record too.  The test car was economical - but it was outputting silly, maybe illegal, amounts of NOx while it was doing it.

Well, to help redress the balance, here's some free advertising for them from me:
After all, they're not really a bad company are they?

I mean, it's not like they were set up by Hitler or anything is it?

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Houston, We Have A Problem

It's nearer Dallas actually, but it's the Houston Chronicle that I'm linking to here for the story behind this idiot and this very patient Police Officer.

The guy did not have a valid licence so maybe that's why he was so obstructive but he must have thought he would get away with it given that it is his own footage that has gone viral here.  All of his arguments were proved wrong.

The Chronicle story is here.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Electric Avenue

There are four Consecutive Electric Car stories in Autoguide at the moment:

1.Thunder Power EV from Taiwan has Impossible 373-Mile Range

The headline sums it up really.  This teaser photo (I hate teaser photos by the way) makes it look a bit TVR Sagaris-ish with 1990s Peugeot back lights.  But surely it has the wrong name?  Thunder is the noisy bit of thunder & lightning, not the electric bit.

2. BMW i3 Undergoes Evaluation with LA Police Department

BMW have loaned the LAPD an i3.  I think it looks like a cow.

3.Announcement on Return of Volkswagen Microbus Coming in 2016

This will be an electric vehicle related to the electric Bulli concept from last year.  There will also be conventionally powered versions.

4.2016 Dodge Charger Pursuit Adds Innovative New Technologies

Another Police car story.  And this one looks tasty - nothing like a cow.  Although I suppose cows are tasty once converted into beef.  But surely this isn't an electric car?

Well, no it isn't.

But all these electric cars will need a charger.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Fake Photos

I've seen this picture several times on various car news sites.
It irritates me.

It shouldn't - it's just Cadillac revealing their new XT5 cross-over that they excitedly declare is their "first-ever Cadillac XT5".  First-ever?  Well yes, as soon as you rename a car it becomes the first-ever unless you reuse an old name - I'm not sure where they're going with that.  But never mind, it's the picture that annoys me - it's all too perfect - no litter - a little graffiti but nothing offensive - a couple of beautiful passers-by (both ignoring the car however) and the strangely positioned car itself - about a foot out from the wrong side of the road.  It sort of reminds me of the selfies that young girls like to post on Facebook of themselves looking up and pouting awaiting comments of adoration.  Incidentally, the beautiful woman in this picture is carrying a couple of rolls of material which I guess is meant to indicate that she is a trendy young fashion designer crossing the road.  But they've overdone the pose so it looks like she is desperately trying to find a toilet.

Now here is a much better fake picture of a Fiat 500 in front of Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster:
It is from this BBC item.  It is about photographer Kim Leuenberger who is covering the Goodwood Revival, which starts this Friday but who also likes to photograph toy cars in various locations around the World in a series she calls "Traveling Cars Adventures".  She is Swiss but chooses to spell "travelling" the American way.

Anyway, enough fake pictures, here a photo I recently took of a horrific accident involving a Toyota Supra and a Porsche 928:

Thursday, 3 September 2015


I read this Car+Driver article with incredulity today.

The author of the piece, Robert Sorokanich is described as "the New York-based news reporter for both and" so you would hope he wouldn't make any silly errors.

It claims that a software hack will allow BMW i3 drivers in the US to get an extra half-gallon out of the fuel tank in the range-extender version of the car to bring it in line with the European version.
Apparently the US cars have a 1.9 gallon capacity whereas European ones hold 2.4 gallons.


About two-dozen readers have commented on this.  One suggests "tanks on all models hold 2.4 gallons. Sensors tell the ECU what the fuel level in the tank is. In the US, when the ecu detects there is 0.5 gallons left, shuts down the engine and won't restart it until the tank gets filled and the level detected is above 0.5 gallons"

That would mean all US i3s would have an odd half-gallon of petrol (sorry, of gas) swishing about in the bottom of their tanks all the time!


Here's a clue as to what I think is going on...

These are Imperial Stormtroopers:
 These are US Desert Storm Troops:
 Notice that they are different.

According to this old 2013 Auto Express review of the i3 Range-Extender, the tank is 9 litres.

This is approx 1.9 Imperial Gallons
or 2.4 US Gallons.