Thursday, 23 April 2015

Top Near?

With the departure of Jeremy, lots of questions are being asked about the future of Top Gear.

  • What will happen to the unshown episodes?
  • Will it continue?
  • Who would present it?
  • What will Jeremy do next?
  • What will Richard & James do next?
  • Why am I asking these questions?
I'll take the last one first.  Top Gear has a lot of fans and Jeremy's contract was not renewed after his "fracas" - I went into more detail not long after it happened.  In that, I speculated that Jodie Kidd would be a good replacement - break up the testosterone a bit.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

What will happen to the unshown episodes?

They will be shown - or the already-filmed bits will anyway.

Will it continue?


Yes.

Who would present it?


Well, now isn't that the interesting bit?  This would hinge on whether we were just replacing Jeremy or replacing all three presenters. (I'm not including The Stig in this because he has been replaced at least twice and nobody really cared.)

If it was a straight-swap for Jeremy - middle-aged grumpy white bloke - then I would give the job without question to Jason Plato - I love hearing his quotes when something has gone wrong for him in the BTCC.

Today, however, James has been speaking to The Guardian and basically ruled himself out of appearing in Top Gear without Jeremy.  This would probably mean that Richard would do the same.

So we need three new presenters.  Channel controller Kim Shillinglaw has the job of finding these presenters - and she may be inclined to go along the female route.

My dream team in this case would be Sabine Schmitz, Jodie Kidd & Vicki Butler-Henderson.

Looks like former presenter Angela Rippon has thrown her name into the ring (not to be confused with "The 'Ring" which is where Sabine Schmitz made her name) - I can remember Angie as a Top Gear presenter but that was when it was a sensible car show.

Sue Perkins is another name linked with the job - in fact the bookmakers had her down as favourite - I don't know why - she has shown no interest in cars whatsoever as far as I know.  Sue then became the victim of all sorts of threats from various morons unhappy about the idea - I concur wholeheartedly with James' response.

I hope Kim will be casting these roles to people who do actually have an interest in cars, though.  In fact, I hope Andy Wilmin, the show's producer, has the final say.

What will Jeremy do next?


Another car show.

What will Richard & James do next?

Another car show - possibly with Jeremy.  They will probably also still be contracted to the BBC for their other projects (Total Wipeout, Manlab etc.) even though their Top Gear contracts have expired.  This could prevent them doing "Clarkson, May & Hammond" on Sky TV - for a while at least.  James sees the door still open for a return of the three of them with Top Gear on the BBC in the future - I don't see any legal reasons why not but I just don't envisage it.

They could remake Last of The Summer Wine though.

A lot has happened since these youngish men...
 ...became these oldish men...
And I'm sure the story isn't over yet.

The Guardian had the scoop interview with James today.

They also had this suggestion which I like a lot.  A heck of a lot.  Click on it.  Think regeneration Doctor Who style.
  Top Marx.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Naked People in Cars

This picture caught my eye today:
It is from this Liverpool Echo story. It covers (or rather uncovers) an apparently naked man seen driving along the M62 motorway towards Liverpool.  The photo was taken by Dawn Hindley, who helpfully reveals (wrong word again) that she is an Interior Designer.  She says he was driving an "old, left hand-drive" car.

I'll give her the benefit of the doubt in terms of taking photos while driving because although she says "I was driving into Liverpool from Bolton to meet a client. I cracked up laughing when I saw him." she does also use the phrase “We were on the M62 heading into Liverpool. His car was alongside us and I thought ‘he’s totally starkers’."  Note the use of the word "we" and the photo does look like it could have been taken from the passenger seat and the article does describe her as a "car passenger."

However, if I'd been sat in the passenger seat, I'd have been a bit more interested in the car - I could tell from the photo that it was something special - it looked Italian classic coupe to me - and after a bit of Internet image searching I found I was right.

It was one of these:
 
Not your average "old, left-hand drive car".  It is a late '60s/early '70s Alfa Romeo Bertone Coupe.  The driver could probably be relatively easily traced by such a rare vehicle.  Job for a proper journalist there.

The driver who may be a bit of a Romeo himself if the speculation in the comments section is anything to go by.

Which brings me on to this video:

A clever video that was trending on Youtube a week or three ago.

But I found myself trying to identify the car.

I thought at first it was actually done in a couple of cars because the steering wheel changes from white to black but that was just a trick of the light caused by it being filmed at different times of the day.

In the end I decided that it's probably an Australian car - a four-door saloon or pick-up, but apart from that - I'm stumped.

Any ideas?

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Off-Road Royce

This is a mule.  It is very good off-road.
This also a mule.  It should also be very good off-road.
I like the second one better.

In fact I think it looks brilliant!  It gets various mentions in the motoring press - here is what Fox News have to say.

It is a mule that Rolls Royce are using to test out the drivetrain for their upcoming SUV.  The final car will look nothing like this which is a shame.  I bet they could sell this mule for lots of money - I'd buy it if my first name was Sheikh.

Rolls' SUV project is called Project Cullinan and it will be a rival for Bentley's upcoming Bentayga SUV.  The Rolls car is named after a diamond in the Crown Jewels - Bentley's is named after a Premier League footballer.

Actually that isn't true but I could imagine there being a Bentayga playing for Aston Villa.  Along with some donkeys.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Waiting Patiently at Traffic Lights

I'm very pleased with this post title.  It inlvolves one of these:
That is a patient transport ambulance.  A vehicle that is use to transport infirm people to and from medical locations in a non-emergency situation - for example if they are in a care home and need to go for some tests at a specific hospital.

This post also involves the one-and-a-half minutes of video in this link from BBC News. I tried embedding the link but either the link is rubbish or my browser is rubbish. Incidentally, I've worked out why I don't like the new BBC News Website - it's because they've done away with the ticker at the top highlighting the latest headlines.

Apparently, in Newcastle, there is a trial going on of a device allowing the drivers of patient transport ambulances to change red traffic lights to green as they approach. This seems to be improving journey times by about 10% and "It is hoped the reduction in waiting times at traffic lights could help reduce pollution and save on fuel."

Well it might save them time and fuel and pollution but it won't do anything for those waiting to travel in the other direction so the net gain will be zero.

A better use they describe is that taxi drivers could change the lights when the roads are quiet.  Having driven around at silly o'clock in the morning I can see the logic in this.  It would need some sort of timing control on the device though or taxi drivers would be using it all through the day annoying other drivers more than they usually do.


I wonder how long it would be before these devices went on sale - either via the black market or via Halfords.  Or, more likely, via the Internet.  They may not be illegal.  The device certainly shouldn't be made available to everyone - that way anarchy lies with two drivers approaching the same junction from different directions both trying to change the lights in their favour.

The report also suggests a downloadable app which could predict when lights are going to change and tell you what speed you should drive at in order to get there when they are green.  If that worked it would be a very good idea in terms of fuel efficiency except:
  • drivers would be staring at their phones and speedometers instead of the road.
  • drivers already at the lights who don't have the app will be queued up causing you to stop anyway.
  • patient transport ambulances coming the other way will mean the predictions are wrong.
I don't really get why the patient transport ambulances should get the priority anyway.  Surely it makes more sense to give the devices to the real emergency vehicles.  The report implies that they don't need them because they are already allowed to go through red lights.  But:
  • it must be much safer to speed through a green light than a red one.
  • other vehicles already at the red lights should not go through them even if a blue-light vehicle is behind them (I refer you back to my post from Feb 2013) so your emergency vehicle can get trapped, possibly waiting for a patient transport ambulance coming the other way.
So, in summary, yes develop the technology.  But be very careful who you give it so.

Seems patently obvious to me.  And patiently obvious

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Prior Warning


I read Matt Prior's latest article today.

No, not Matt Prior the mentor and very good friend of Kevin Pietersen:





I'm talking Matt Prior the Autocar writer:








He is basically talking here about how it is important that car reviewers don't get freebies or payments or little extra jobs from car manufacturers.  It looks like a dig at other car magazines - he specifically points to "one US car magazine is actually presenting a TV car advert" - I'm guessing he is talking about Car+Driver who do sometimes feature car ads - but only to comment on the ad or show a particularly good one but I've never seen one and thought that they were endorsing the car in question.

I got the feeing that Mr.P is trying to say how wonderful Autocar is compared with the competition.  Understandable given that he works for them.  I hope it isn't an indication that the magazine is struggling though.  If they are, I am not exactly helping because I only read their articles online.  The only Car mag I purchase is Top Gear and I don't pay full price for that thanks to my Tesco Clubcard points.

I then looked back at some other Matt Prior articles.  Back in February, he was saying "why the Autocar road test is so important."  He is extolling the wonderfulness of his magazine for finding a potentially fatal braking problem with the Suzuki Celerio they were testing.  It caused the car to be taken off sale while it was sorted out.

At this point I should point out that Celerio is a stupid name for a car.  It sounds too much like celery or celeriac - which I believe is related to the turnip.

The other Prior article which caught my eye was this one.  Probably because of the picture they chose to illustrate it:
Ironically enough,  it is a short article about the use of glamourous women at The Geneva Motor Show (and all other motor shows) that Matty P had recently attended.  He plays the feminist card - and gets a lively little debate going in his comments section.

At this point, I decided to see if I could find any suitably sexist material in Autocar.  I can't speak for the physical magazine (because I haven't bought one in many years) but online they look very clean.  Best I could find was from 1973:
So then I decided to look up the 2015 Geneva Motor Show in Google Images - and I found hardly any glamourous females adorning the cars.  The few women that did show up there had two things in common:  "Autoevolution" written across the photo; and virtually no way of identifying the car.
I think I'll use this photo when I advertise this posting on my Facebook page.

Autoevolution, incidentally is autoevolution.com, a Bulgarian based car site that I delve into from time to time - they tend to have lots of stories, sometimes interesting, sometimes trashy.  I can guess which way their Geneva 2015 coverage went.

Are they competition for Autocar?

I hope not - but I suspect so.  Let's see if Matt Prior can knock them for six.