Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Hello Duckie! - Look!, Willys!!

Found this story in Autocar today.  It is about Camp Jeep.  
That does imply a hairdresser's Suzuki Vitara.  I guess most people outside of the UK though don't associate the word camp with effeminacy but to me, and the commenters at the bottom of the story, it was too good an opportunity to let pass by.
Camp Jeep is actually a get together of all things Jeep with demonstrations, special guests, off-road driving and a barbecue.  Their logo is quite clever - looking, as it does, like the grille & lights from an old Willys Jeep.
Looks like these camp events have been going on for several years in the Americas but this is the first time the Europeans have been invited to go mud-plugging.  Reading the article looking for homosexual innuendo does add to the enjoyment and mention of cherokee and wranglers does make you wonder where the other three are: 
Anyway, here's a very camp Jeep:

Saturday, 13 September 2014

E By Gum

The FIA Formula e championship kicked off this morning in Beijing.
It was on ITV4 so I watched it.  If it hadn't been on a Freeview channel I wouldn't have been that fussed but I'm glad I did - I have high hopes for it.
For those of you who don't know about Formula e, read this excellent piece on the subject.
Actually, don't.  That was written ages ago before anyone knew what it would evolve into - you'd do better checking out their official website.
Formula e is the all-electric alternative to Formula 1 - and based on the first race, could be more exciting than Formula 1.  I was wary that using street circuits as they do and having same-spec cars would mean overtaking was going to be difficult but the fact that they have to control the power in order to conserve battery-charge did lead to some very entertaining overtaking.
Swapping cars half-way through the race because the batteries wouldn't last is a bit strange and I'm sure that will die out once battery technology improves.
We also have the new innovation of "Fan Boost" (or #FanBoost if you're into Twitter) whereby fans vote for their favourite drivers and the top three vote-receivers get a power boost that they can use once in the race - but more about that shortly.
So...let's meet the teams...
First the ITV4 team who will be presenting the Season to us - 85.7% of whom I had not heard of before.
Firstly, we have Jennie Gow (who doesn't seem to be any relation to BTCC boss Alan Gow) but who does seem to be knowledgeable (and genuinely excited) about motorsport and seemed to ask the right questions.  Jennie is the main presenter based in the studio with race engineer Kyle Wilson-Clarke and F3 Driver Jann Mardenborough.  It was quite refeshing and interesting to have a race engineer in there with a different take on things.  Jann seemed a bit nervous and a bit young:
In fact, he even looks younger than Leonardo diCaprio if that is possible.  I'm sure his confidence will build up as the series goes on.
Former F1 mechanic Marc Priestley joined roving reporter Nicki Shields provided trackside insight with Jack Nicholls and Dario Franchitti doing the commentary.  Dario Franchitti being the 14.3% of the team that I was familiar with.
Now the actual teams.  There are a few familiar names from motorsport in there: Virgin, Renault, Senna, Prost, Piquet and Andretti to name but six.  Ten teams in total, running cars that look like this: 
  • British based Amlin Aguri is led by Japanese ex-Formula 1 driver Suzuki Aguri who also founded F1 team Super Aguri.
  • Andretti Autosport is led by Michael Andretti (part of the American Andretti motorsport dynasty).
  • Audi Sport ABT is the team behind Audi's DTM cars.
  • China Racing - not to be confused with...
  • Dragon Racing who are from California.
  • E.Dams Renault are sponsored by a Dutch Cheese Manufacturer. (No they aren't)
  • Mahindra Racing - from the Indian motoring concern responsible for some Jeep look-a-likes that got imported to the UK.
  • Trulli GP led by ex F1 racer Jarno Trulli.
  • Venturi Grand Prix a joint effort between Venturi an American car company who have experience in electric vehicles and Leonardo diCaprio (serious electric car advocate) who has experience in looking very young.  He wasn't seen once during the coverage - I hope he was actually there.
  • Finally (for alphabetic reasons) we have Virgin Racing - Richard Branson has moved over from F1. 
In terms of drivers, Alain Prost has employed his son Nico:

That is actually a picture of Alain but with their helmets on, the likeness is uncanny.

Amlin Aguri have one of the two female drivers in the series, Katherine Legge who also happens to be a Brit.
Mahindra have the charismatic ex-F1 duo of Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna.


 Jarno Trulli is driving his own car whilst giving his other seat up to Italian Michela Cerruti.
 The other Brit in the series is Sam Bird driving for Virgin.
We also have several other ex-F1 stars (or their sons) in there too.
I think the fan boost may be a waste of time though with most people voting for the team with the best PR (Mahindra) or for the ladies (women voting for women and men voting for people they fancy) or for the countries with the biggest populations for for their own (Brazil, USA)
As it happened Mahindra's Senna, Brazil's di Grassi & Katherine Legge got the fan boosts.
We never got to find out when the boosts were used in the race.  I reckon a better system would be to have the vote during the race to potentially nobble someone or to help someone challenging for the lead.
The race itself felt a lot shorter than most motorsport I watch - but that was quite good - all done and dusted within three hours of TV.  Some excitement, some overtaking, some crashes, and, most importantly, a very dramatic finish with Nico Prost, who has led from the start, about to be overtaken by Nick Heidfeld on the last corner so cutting across and taking him out in a spectacular crash and taking himself out in the process allowing di Grassi to take the win.
As is traditional in motorsport, both blamed the other.
Prost was wrong.
So will I be watching the next race on November 22nd?
By gum I will.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Spoiler Alert

Not that type of spoiler.
No, the more modern type whereby we get to find out what's happening in Coronation Street this month before it airs next month.
Or, in the case of this story from Autoguide yesterday, the new AMG GT is seen before its launch on September 9th  (aka Tuesday).  Mercedes were keen to get their car into the Driveclub Computer Game and footage of the car in the game has now leaked out onto the Web.
Meanwhile, over in The Middle East, as told in this Telegraph story, we have to presume that Aston Martin would not have been too chuffed with Oman Air deciding to publicise the fact that they were transporting the new Aston Martin Lagonda with undisguised pictures.
The car was being shipped out for warm-weather testing - it has not had its official debut and first deliveries aren't due until next year. 
Meanwhile, over in the USA, as told in this Car&Driver story, what is believed to be engine & brake information for the forthcoming 2016 Mustang GT350 has been accidentally included in Ford's own parts website.  Oops.

So, has the motoring industry become more leaky?

 Or maybe this was just an excuse to put in a picture of Alex Kingston...

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Tear Along The Dotted Line

This is not an instruction to drive quickly down the road-markings which separate two lanes.

I'm glad that I spotted this Telegraph story today because it means I can maintain my record of five posts per calendar month this year.

The story is about how the DVLA is running out of the thick-ish paper that they print Tax Discs on so they are printing some of their own on thinner paper without the easy-tear perforations.

This is on the back of the news that the media have just noticed that Tax Discs will no longer need to be displayed on or after October 1st this year.
This is mildly irritating to me.  My disc expires on 30th September.  This means I probably won't be sent one of the new, thinner, unperforated discs that they talk about in the Telegraph article.  This is a shame because there is always someone sad enough to collect unusual ephemera like that so I could have put it on e-Bay after it expired and cashed in on its historic value.
The article also goes on to say that many motorists are unaware of this change and that there is a serious danger that anyone buying a car after October 1st will need to arrange tax straight away because no tax disc means no transfer of the duty paid along with the car.  Hopefully the seller will be refunded any remaining monies as is the current system when you send the disc back to the DVLA.
Although I am one of the 58% of motorists (according to the AA survey quoted in the Telegraph) who did know it was happening (check out my post from last December) I didn't know the start-date or the implications for car buyers.
Or the implications for people who make tax-disc holders - don't buy any shares in these...

Friday, 29 August 2014

The Most Expensive Veyron Ever?

So why am I showing you a 2012 video of a Corvette?

Because this Corvette is (or probably "was" very soon) owned by Andy Lee House of Lufkin, Texas.  He seems to have a habit of making fast cars go fast, as can be seen in this 2006 video of him driving the most expensive Veyron ever - be aware there is swearing on this vid:

He claimed to have tried to avoid a pelican causing him to crash his $1million car into a swamp just after he had insured it for $2.2million.

I recall reading this story several years back and thinking it sounded fishy then.  Literally fishy.

Now then, no pelican on the video together with other evidence gleaned by investigators (as opposed to alligators) watching the clip showed that he had been telling porkies in 2006 so no payout.  And now, since it has come to trial, this Veyron could also have cost him up to 20 years in the clink.  Fox have the story here and The Mail, who always love an expensive car crash, have it in much more detail, here.

And what price freedom?

Here's a photo of the car being recovered from its swim:
Something to consider next time you approach a pelican crossing.