Monday, 26 December 2011

Mini Fun

On the back of their excellent video to encourage Americans to drive manuals, Mini have now produced this fun albeit very surreal little film... Thanks to for covering the story of a competition won by a Rutledge Wood look-a-like to sum up the perfect test drive in six words. Mini then made the video based on his entry of:

Stewardess, Salt Flats, Paratroopers, Sushi and Falconer

The amazing thing, though, is that it actually makes the pig-ugly Mini Coupe look really good. It must be a colour thing because all the ones used in the early reviews were white with a red roof and looked awful.

Incidentally, I'd have gone with:

Nigella, A483, Tranmere Rovers, Bacon and Marillion

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Why I've had it with the BBC and why ITV need to poach Murray Walker

Well, take a look at this for starters. In particular, check out the comments bit. All those "This comment has been referred for further consideration."s are a tribute to what the BBC thinks of its audience. That particular blog, by Mark Thompson about the Creative Diversity Network Awards would not have been of interest (and would have not received a single comment) had it not been found by F1 fans desperate for some answers to our ongoing questions stemming back to that fateful day in July when the BBC reneged on its promise (and signed and budgeted for contract) to televise F1 in full until the end of the 2013 Season. That Blog has only been read by F1 fans and a moderator called Heather Taylor - I bet the DG hasn't read it - I wonder if he actually even wrote it. Heather Taylor clearly has no interest in F1 and can't be bothered to find out what the fuss is about. In at comment 29 she wrote:

"Thank you for your continued comments. I am one of the editors of the About the BBC blog (which is why I commented earlier). I wanted to explain why some posts have been removed.

We have in place a set of House Rules: and if the comment is off topic, we remove it. This isn't to censor. It's so we can focus the conversation on the topic of the blog post.

We do have a team that handles feedback and complaints. If you would like to complain about F1 or any other item, you can complain to the BBC here:"

Except, as had already been pointed out to her, there has been no response from the literally (and yes, I am using that word correctly) tens of thousands of complaints and questions raised by this shady deal. And as for keeping the conversation on-topic, there was no converstation on-topic - nobody (and yes, I am using that word correctly) was interested in the CDN Awards. She even had the audacity to remove one of my comments - well here it is again:

"I think that, generally, The BBC does a good job, on screen at least, of displaying diversity. The three awards you have received seem to back this up. Of course, you must never get complacent and when opportunities arise to fill new gaps, care must be taken when filling them.

For example, now that Sky have raided your Formula 1 talent pool, albeit leaving you with a diverse Englishman, Irishman & Scotsman, this is a perfect opportunity to expand out and maybe get a Welshman.

On the subject of awards, I see your F1 coverage had earned you the FIA Broadcaster of The Year Award – congratulations - that makes you the best in the World. I believe that Ben Gallop flew out to Delhi and collected it for you. I suppose that is why he has been too busy to respond to the latest 750 or so comments added to his update on the F1 coverage in 2012. I presume that he is back now so will soon be able to answer those very valid questions therein. I admit that in my comment added to your BBC Annual Report & Accounts Blog, I did rather cheekily suggest in August that Colonel Gadaffi would be found before Ben Gallop – sorry about that, I’m sure Ben was busy working on his update – after all, the 8000 comments added to his initial blog were requiring careful consideration.

Anyway, good luck on the Diversity and FIA Awards next year, although you may need to give Sky the majority of any F1 award and keep the highlights for yourself. Channel 4 picked up two CDN awards, wouldn’t it have been nice to have some sort of collaboration with them?"

Me at my sarcastic best, I think you'll agree? And - I'd tried to be a bit on-topic as well!

Now, if you are wondering where the Hell this all stems from, why weren't you reading my Blog back in July when the BBC/Sky F1 Deal was announced by the BBC's head of F1, Ben Gallop? I posted thus. I treated it rather light-heartedly as I saw it as an inevitable bit of Sky TV's plan on taking over all sports broadcasting. Little did I realise just how dirty the deal was and just how much reaction there would be to it.

A week later, things had moved on apace and I posted again. Ben Gallop's announcement Blog had been closed for comment with 8145 angry comments therein and no sight of Ben himself. Ben's boss Barbara Slater also disappeared off the face of the Earth (but did allegedly briefly reappear to enjoy the hospitality at one sunny Grand Prix)

By the start of September, things had moved on again. I returned from my Summer holidays and posted this. Sky TV produced a "trailer" for the Belgian Grand Prix. I put "trailer" in quotes because it was an unashamed advert for Skybet encouraging people to bet on everything from the eventual winner to the time of the first crash - absolutely disgusting and nothing a public-service broadcaster like the BBC should be forcing their customers to watch. Tony Jardine was involved. I think he did F1 for Radio 5 and know is a Scouser. Being a Scouser should endear him to me but this advert was shameful in both content and quality and he seemed quite ignorant - making quite basic mistakes in F1 knowledge. Sky also unveiled Georgie Thompson (any relation to Mark?) - she had just been convicted of drink-driving after a bit of bad parking in her Porsche - so an excellent choice for a motorsports presenter then.

Things had seemed to swing a bit more in our favour though as a few MPs and one in particular (a Lib Dem of all people!) put on a bit of pressure to get some answers from the BBC and from Bernie Ecclestone. Not particularly successfully but at least someone reasonably high-up was listening to us. Thank you Don Foster MP - although I'm not sure "Don in Bath" is a good title for one of your Webpages.

Bernie, meanwhile started coming out with all sorts of random rubbish:

Oct 5 - Pubs could show F1 for free - No they'll continue to show Football
Nov 24 - Bahrain GP will go ahead - that's dodgy on so many fronts
Nov 30 - Europe is finished as far as F1 goes
Dec 12 - Hamilton is Star-struck
Dec 12 - Daughters Squandering Childrens' Inheritance - well, whose fault is that?

Then Ben Gallop reappeared! He added this update. More nonsense and no proper answers. The Blog was quickly hidden but has still currently managed 850 comments - my main one is at number 292.

Next came Sky stealing the BBC Talent including Martin Brundle who intimated that he might have stayed if they hadn't handled the whole announcement so badly. They've also nicked ITV's Steve Rider (but not for F1 presentation) so I don't know if he'll still be fronting the BTCC next year. The BBC then nicked Ben Edwards from ITV's BTCC coverage but I'm sure Tim Harvey (who's signature sits on a print of a drawing of two Volvo 850s in my hallway) will cope well with another partner in the commentary box.

Then came Mark's turn...

Jump to 2 hours and 7 minutes to see a bit (although nowhere near enough) of squirming as Mark Thompson struggles to justify not inviting Channel 4 to the table - lots of umms and errs. Shame that the questioner, John Whittingdale feels he has been forced into asking about it "just before we finish". If all you can see is a big white square then you are probably using Microsoft Internet Explorer - try Mozilla Firefox instead - it's much better.

So still no answers really, Ben's gone back into hiding and the BBC are still not listening.

I'll not be following F1 next year - I'll still be watching the BTCC, of course though - but who will be sitting in that seat next to Tim Harvey?

This is where ITV need to be smart and hire...

MURRAY WALKER!He's an old man now, so probably not up to jet-setting around the World but still more than up to a few hours work on assorted weekends around Britain. He's extremely knowledgeable - he makes a few howlers but they add to the fun - Tim would keep the facts straight. He's done BTCC Commentary before - he isn't under contract to the Beeb and he would draw in casual and commited fans alike.


And I Want you to too!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Taiwan 't one

"I Want One!" Geddit?


Oh well, never mind, I don't really want one.I couldn't buy one even if I did want one anyway - it's going on sale in its home nation - Taiwan next year - I don't think it's even available in Australia, home of this article about the said car. It's called a Luxgen5 - the Company name is Luxgen so presumably its full title is a Luxgen Luxgen5.

After the Malaysians, Koreans and Chinese, do we now have yet another Eastern nation suddenly producing cars good enough to eat into Western markets? Possibly. The article does show a modern-looking vehicle with a luxury interior and, thanks to a tie-in with HTC (maker of some very smart Smartphones) some clever infotainment tech.

With a choice of 1.8 and 2 litre turbo petrol engines, it all looks like a very good package.

The article states that, "Luxgen is the only car company in Taiwan that wholly develops its own vehicles." OK, but it does look very familiar - even down to the wheels:

Monday, 5 December 2011

Ferrari Dayto-forget

I heard this story out of Japan on Radio 2 this morning but it wasn't on the BBC Website (probably will be by the time you read this) but Bloomberg had it. Nobody badly hurt though. It was caused by a sixty-year-old who lost control on a wet motorway. He's now under threat of prison.

Maybe it'll make this bimbo from this story in July feel a bit better though. No, it's not Patsy Kensit, it's some anonymous French woman who drove a Bentley into four other prestigious cars in Monaco. And because she was trapped inside the car and it was a convertible, she was soon surrounded by tourists with cameras and camera-phones. There are hundreds of photos all over the Web.

Like this one...

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Traffic Jam

Well, Traffic Marmite actually.

Love it or hate it, I'm quite ambivalent about it really - in fact I can't remember the last time I tried it. I also feel the same about the M1. And this story combines them both. It brings a new meaning to "being stuck in traffic." It's only 8:20 in the morning so I'm sure some pictures will emerge during the day but I've got to go to work so I'll not be publishing them.

There have to be some jokes here though and some marketing opportunities - like the last time this happened...Cadburys took out adverts saying how "Nothing Fills a Hole like a Double-Decker"

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Plump My Ride

I might as well use that title - everyone else has. To be fair, it is the name of a BMW scheme to design their cars to cater for lots of very different sized people with the emphasis on the fact that, as a species, we are getting huge. went with this version of the story today which would have been quite interesting except I remember reading exactly the same item a couple of weeks ago. Even down to Ford and Nissan developing fat suits to test out their innovations.

I couldn't remember where though so I did a bit of digging. I failed to find the original article I had read but I did find this story on the Daily Mail site and this virtually identical one on the Telegraph site. They were both dated October 24th and both used this photo...I don't know if Nick McDermott of The Mail copied it off Andrew Hough of the Telegraph or not but there's only 9 minutes between the publication times of the articles so maybe they both copied it off someone else.

It wasn't The Huffington Post though. They didn't carry the story until November 4th but they still used that same photo.

It's taken a further 19 days for Tim Beissmann to get the story in Australia but he's definitely picked up the best picture:

Friday, 18 November 2011

The Mayor of London is a Buffoon

But a very likeable one.

Again, I can't agree with his politics but the people of London seem to appreciate them - unless they have just fallen for his personality - but that's their business.

He was always very funny on Have I Got News For You? and suitably amusing as the celebrity guest on Top Gear and he is always good value for money when interviewed by Jeremy Paxman - but then Jeremy Paxman loves to interview an idiot.

The reason I am discussing Boris today, after discussing his old school-chum yesterday, is this story about him using glue to catch pollution on the streets of London. It seems a bit expensive and far-fetched to me but they claim it is producing results. I'm not scientifically qualified to comment (not that that usually stops me) so read the article and draw your own conclusions.

I suppose that I'm only really mentioning it at all because it is a good excuse to print a picture of Boris. That can be a bit of a problem choosing because there is never a picture of Boris that doesn't make you smile - check these out.

Sometimes you just see a picture and want to publish it...which relates to this story. Check out the video on that too - it is brilliant!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Prime Minister is a Liar

I do like a good, controversial post title.

I object to David Cameron on many fronts - mostly his politics and partly the fact that he is about a month younger than me - it's not nice being older than the Prime Minister.

Anyway, he tells his lie at the McLaren factory in the video attached to this brief news item. He says that apart from a golf-buggy and an electric Range-Rover, he has not "sat behind the wheel of a car" in the last 18 months. These pictures beg to differ...That was a Mini Cooper in June this year. This is a similarly decorated Qashqai in the same month......and this is another Mini from August...
I'll let him off with this one though......on three counts:

+It was in 2005 so well before 18 months ago.
+He isn't actually behind the wheel.
+You can't actually call a G-Wiz a car.

I've decided I actually feel a bit sorry for old (make that "young") Dave though - HE ISN'T ALLOWED TO DRIVE!

Enough to make you not want to be Prime Minister.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Going Back to Hippier Times

Car & Driver have improved their site recently. They've turned their news section into a Blog, very much like my favourite site, They had this story today which tells Americans something that we've known for ages...

...that you can still buy the old-style VW Camper vans here in Europe.In fact, the hippy in this picture looks remarkably like (because it probably is) Tom Ford - ex-of Fifth Gear, and still of Top Gear Magazine, fame. Fifth Gear did an item on this vehicle a few years back.

These vans are still being built in Brazil by Volkswagen. They call it a Kombi and they look a bit different...But it is still basically the same old van from the '60s.

A company here in the UK ship over the Brazilian models (be careful if you type those two words into Google), customise them and sell them on at a premium price.

Everyone is happy apart now from some Americans who feel they are missing out.

Judging by some comments on the Blog, they blame their Government - do we have Republicans and Hippies sharing common ground?

Anyway, to placate any miffed Americans, here's an expensive version that will be on open sale over there:

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Time to do something about the stolen V5s?

I can't believe it was as long ago as 2006 that a huge number of blank V5 documents were stolen from the DVLA.

But it was.

It was so long ago, I can't find the story online now - although I haven't looked particularly hard.

There are plenty of related stories though...

This one from July 2008...

this one from January 2010...

and this one from October of that year.

In all that time, nothing constructive seems to have been done about it.

Until now?

I received today a brown envelope.

I opened it with trepidation, fully expecting something from Her Majesty's Inland Revenue...

But inside was a shiny new V5 document.

I was so excited, I took a photo of it (with added Lego Bricks to hide the identity of my beloved Jag)...It came with this explanatory note...
Helpful eh?

Lord knows how much this will be costing - but I do know it should have been done back in 2006 when there was still some money left in the Western world...

...and before a lot of innocent people were ripped off.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Is This the Saddest Page on the Internet?

No, not the one you're reading right now. I'm talking about the one I stumbled upon while trying to establish whether or not there was a W.H.Smith at Chester Services on the M56.

It was this one.

It was probably a waste of time me looking it up anyway - there seems to be a W.H.Smith at every Motorway Services in the UK.

Before I found that one, I did think for a while that this could be the saddest site on the Global Interweb.

But then I spent a good three-quarters of an hour looking up my local and oft-used roads. Someone needs to update their A483 bit.

The site does go rather sad when you venture into the forums but steer clear of them and it is all quite interesting and even entertaining.

They also link in to another site with the story of my local motorway. I'll forgive them for labelling it "pathetic".

I also like their amusing roadsigns section...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

120mph Crash-Test

Fifth Gear returned to our screens a-week-ago-last-Friday. I completely missed it. I guess either I don't watch enough Channel 5 (quite probable) so missed their trailers or they haven't been plugging it much (quite possible). Not even noticed anything on their website although it's mostly just the news section that I go straight to anyway while looking for interesting stories I can comment on for my Blog.

I finally caught up with the episode I missed on the i-5-Player-on-Demand thingy tonight.

I noticed on episode 2 which I managed to catch OK that there was no sign of Jason Plato. He also doesn't appear in episode 1. I hope that is just because he was busy coming third in this year's BTCC and that he will return to our screens soon.

Anyway, I digress.

One thing that Fifth Gear have always done well is interesting Crash-Tests. This was no exception, launching a Ford Focus at 120mph into a concrete block.

The results are sobering...

And if the video's knackered - I don't trust embedding stuff from Channel 5 - use this to get at it.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Top Gear USA

"It's like being aroused with a gun pointing at you."

BBC Three showed the first edition of Top Gear USA this weekend - or, as it's called over there, Top Gear. I knew there had to be a good reason for BBC Three existing.

It has the same basic format as the orginal (and best!) version with 3 middling aged blokes and a Stig. Their Stig seems less of a mythical creature though.

They still have "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" but they call it "Big Star, Small Car". Their big star was Buzz Aldrin but the interview was very poor - it just seemed to be them listing previous cars he had owned then showing his lap. He seemed to have some trouble finding fifth which implies they are using a manual - this flies on the face of my earlier posting, Automatic For The (American) People. I suppose that they may do what the British version does and have a second, automatic car that can be used with guests who can't use a stick-shift.

Their presenters have much stranger names than ours:

Tanner Foust seems to be their equivalent of Richard Hammond.

Rutledge Wood must be the James May equivalent because he isn't the Richard Hammondy one and he isn't the front man. Also, if you type "Rutledge Wood" into Google Images, on the third row of the results, you get a picture of James.

This leaves the one that concerns me a bit:

Adam Ferrara. He is described as a "renowned petrolhead" which always rings alarm bells for me. When it comes to presenters of car shows, I have always believed that the best ones need to have a racing or motoring journalism background - Adam is a stand-up and a comedy actor. He does have a relatively normal name though.

It's still early days yet and the banter seemed quite forced. The jury is still out. They will need time to gel and establish a pecking order. I'm guessing this must have happened because they are on Season 2 over The Pond. I'll certainly keep watching with interest.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Commuting at 80mph

I'm combining a couple of stories here.

The BBC had a reasonably interesting article today about how Americans are commuting a lot more nowadays highlighting a particular poor woman who has a 2-hour commute in each direction - although it might be better if she didn't use public transport.

It made me think of my own commute which I think I actually enjoy. It's a 25 minute 22-mile journey on motorway and good A Roads which takes me into and then out of Wales through nice bits of countryside. The only downside is, once a week, someone places a dead badger on the side of the A548.

Or, I suppose the badgers living near that road just don't cope well with traffic and it is just coincidence that one a week is being hit.

This compares with my old commute which was only 12.5 miles but took about the same time because it involved a tunnel and lots of city roads and traffic lights - yuk. Oh yes, and driving towards a blinding sun every Spring and Autumn. Never find work East of your home.

My commute would be marginally quicker if I did the motorway bit at 80mph but I wouldn't enjoy it as much and my fuel consumption would definitely suffer. There has been quite a bit of media coverage, even as far afield as Australia, of Government proposals to increase the motorway speed limit from 70 to 80mph.

My good friend in Scotland blogged this subject at the weekend and I added my 2 cents worth for good measure. Then this week, as reported in Autocar and Fifth Gear, Chris Huhne, Government Energy Secretary and prominent Liberal Democrat, came up with the idea that the 80mph limit could perhaps only apply to electric vehicles.


There are so many arguments as to why this is such a stupid idea but how about trying to police it for one.

Also, will Audi drivers be able to buy a stick-on plug socket to make their cars look electric?

Also, how many EVs will run out of juice on the motorway third lane?

I suppose that if you are caught driving your petrol-engined car at 80mph you could always pretend that someone else was driving.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Sonic The Hothatch

Is it the latest game from Nintendo?

No, it's the latest car from Chevrolet - as covered in this Autoguide story.

It's another example of a rebadged Daewoo creeping into the American market - I suspect it will do badly simply because of its size but I suspect the Chevrolet badge should help a bit.

It is a 4 cylinder 1.4 engine - enough to make Louis-Joseph Chevrolet spin in his grave - albeit at an economical rate of rpm.

The paintjob is reminiscent of a Scalextric Mini Cooper but the car seems to be what we in Britain would call an Aveo but with Spark rear doors bolted on.They say there won't be an "SS" version. SS has nothing to do with the Nazis in this case but is the sports tuning moniker that Chevrolet use on higher performance models. Sonic does have previous racing conotations though...

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Automatic for the (American) People

No, not an REM story in the week they announced their retirement.

While browsing through my favourite Aussie site today I found this story about a couple of would-be hi-jackers in Maryland who could not steal the target car because it was a manual and they could only drive automatics.

However, being somewhat dubious of the authenticity of some stories, I checked on their source and found it backed up on a CBS subsidiary site here. Although that article was dated July 19th so it happened over two months ago. CBS, in turn, mentioned Associated Press so I did a quick Google-Search and found this story. This was about a similar incident in Utah in August.

I guess the American underclass don't bother learning to drive stick-shifts. But then again, automatics appear to be the norm for most Americans - not just the crims.

Certainly every hire-car I've had state-side has been an auto. It used to be true (and probably still is) that if an American passes the driving test in an auto, he (or she) can then go out and drive a manual.

This probably works OK if the vast majority of cars are autos - unless you want to steal a stick-shift.

I enjoyed one of the comments added by an Aussie reader of my first link: "Manual cars are generally safer because the owners know how to drive properly."

I certainly prefer a manual - it feels like you have more control and also gives you a sympathy for the way the engine and transmission and wheels are interacting. I've only ever owned one auto, a Mercedes C-Class which had the typical Mercedes divvy parking-brake system whereby you engage it with a pedal and release it with a lever near the steering wheel - I'd never have been able to do a hill-start if it was a manual.

Looks like MINI are doing their bit to make America less automatic, check out the great video.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Toyotas Rear-Ending - LOL!

What the hell are Toyota playing at?Everyone's just about forgotten about the stories of Toyotas not stopping and now they are encouraging their customers to do just that. Maybe the stories last year were just an excuse (after all, many were deemed unfounded) so that their customers could say it was the car's fault while they were actually busy texting from their dashboard. The picture is of the new Yaris entertainment system and is due for inclusion in the rest of the Toyota range.

The story is covered in Auto Express.

It shows the customer demographic they are going for with the new Yaris as does their awful TV advert.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Au Revoir Arnoux Clochend

This month's Top Gear Magazine arrived yesterday and I was sorry to see the news that Arnoux Clochend is now undergoing a course of residential therapy after being removed from his post of European Junior Deputy Under manager of Design at the Hang-Su Motor System.

According to my Blog Stats, I get quite a few hits from Google through him. This is because when you type in "Arnoux Clochend", it is my earlier piece, "All-New" Top Gear Magazine that leads the search results. Today's post may be nothing more than a shameless attempt to get some more hits.

I guess it had to come to an end soon, because his writings have been about preparing a concept for the Frankfurt Motor Show which starts on Tuesday.

One concept that may be there, although I am still sceptical, is the Eterniti Hemera as reported by Autocar today. It looks like a real car but could be a photoshop job but is obviously a modified Porsche Cayenne - certainly not like the Peugeot in their original drawings. Plus, the name sounds too much like Haemorrhoid.

Anyway, I'm going to miss old Arnoux and his seriously undervisited Facebook Page.


Friday, 2 September 2011

Betting on Formula 1

Before you check this out be warned that you should probably give up just after the Ford advert and as soon as you get bored with Tony Jardine.

That video is Sky's preview for the Belgian Grand Prix which happened last weekend and unfortunately is an indication of what some F1 fans will have to put up with next year.

It is simply encouraging people to gamble with a little help from Skybet.

Sorry to keep harping on about the dirty deal - it's not as though I can't live without F1 - I firmly believe that the BTCC is a more exciting and more accessible racing championship - however, the way the BBC has handled this - and still refuse to discuss it - is downright disgraceful and is what annoys me so much.

They are also censoring their own Blogs and tweets from their own presenters and gagging their presentation team from mentioning the deal during their programmes.

However, things are changing!

The Mirror has this report today.

This chap on the right (No, it's not that Grant Mitchell from Eastenders) is being called before a select committee of MPs to answer some questions about the deal. He is Mark Thompson, the Director-General of the BBC.

Speaking as a fan who contacted his own MP on this subject, I am delighted that, at last, we may get some answers.

It may be too late to save F1 - viewing figures and advertising revenue will plummet - but at least it won't feel like the BBC, an organisation I once admired, will have gotten away with this scot-free.

Ooh, sense the bitterness!

I've also been quite impressed by the Mirror, they seem to be the only press organisation who have been on our side. It was also them who broke the story that Bernie Ecclestone said that he would have done a deal with Channel 4 but the BBC blocked it.

Who'd have bet on that?

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Defending The Faith

Autocar today are reporting that Tata are definitely going to replace the Land-Rover Defender, or, as it was called when I was young, the Land-Rover.

The BBC also had the story but I'm not linking to them because I'm still really annoyed at the way they are not responding to the flood of complaints about their dirty deal with Murdoch over the F1 rights.

Here's a picture of the DC100:This is still just a concept but is a clue as to what the Defender replacement will look like when it goes into production in 2015.

It's a hard act to follow:but I like what they've done so far.

The current Defender isn't selling brilliantly at the moment but I bet any run-out editions will do well. It still has a certain coolness - Richard Hammond has a couple for example - but the old design is expensive to build and poor reliability (which has affected the entire L-R range for quite a while) has led the Toyota Land-Cruiser to easily establish itself as the world-leader. I wonder where they got the idea for the name "Land-Cruiser" from?

The replacement will need to be reliable, tough, good off-road and, most of all, utilitarian. Definitely not trendy. This isn't one for Victoria Beckham to endorse, maybe Marilyn Monroe? Or, if you fancy someone a bit more alive, Rick Stein and the Dalai Lama are Landy fans

...and so is Ronan Keating (Ugh!)

Monday, 29 August 2011

Conceptually Speaking...

In my most previous posting, I used this picture:of the Eterniti - a luxury British SUV to be launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

I described it as a "cardboard cut-out of a Peugeot" and claimed it would never appear in the metal.

Looks like I was wrong!

Only thing is, Peugeot themselves have built it.

It's called the HX1 and it's their concept for a 2020 MPV. It's a Plug-in Diesel/Electric Hybrid and the details and more photos are here on the Autocar site today.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

To Infiniti and Beyond

What could be beyond Infinity?


Nah. And what happens when you spell them wrong?

Infiniti are Nissan's answer to Toyota's Lexus - luxury well-built cars but a bit boring. I mean look at this G37...It even looks quite Lexusish.

Infiniti have stated that they want to seriously up the numbers they sell in the UK next year. Up to now they've gone for the exclusive angle with a minimal number of dealerships hidden around the country - next year they're opening a few more.

But would anyone want to copy them?

Apparently so.This child's cardboard cut-out of a Peugeot with big wheels is supposed to be the new Eterniti luxury British car launching at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month. It's supposed to be an SUV - a posh Cayenne-type for Aston Martin money.

Lots of motoring sites including Autocar and me are mentioning it but I'm not sure why - I doubt if it will ever exist in the metal.

Unless Mattel do a Hotwheels version.

In fact, that looks like who they've nicked the wheel design from.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Ice Racing

There's a story on the BTCC site today about a race happening between one of the BTCC Ford Foci and an ice-cream van. It won't be as straightforward as you'd expect though because this ice-cream van is a 200mph ice-cream van owned by Jody Scheckter.

This race will be happening on Sunday as part of the Snetterton rounds of the British Touring Car Championship together with a host of support races all of which will be free to view in Britain on ITV4.

This contrasts sharply with how the British F1 fans are being treated. I reported last week about the deal done with Sky and since then the backlash has been amazing and the silence from the BBC has been deafening.

The BBC tried to justify it with a Blog posted by their head of F1. This Blog quickly got beseiged with 8415 comments before the BBC shut it with the rather arrogant announcement:

"This blog is now closed to comments.

If you do wish to make a formal complaint about this announcement, or any aspect of it, you can do so at the BBC Complaints website (

This blog was kept open to comments for longer than usual because of the volume of responses coming in and the clear interest in the subject matter. However, this blog is designed as a place to debate topical issues, rather than a forum that stays open indefinitely.

We are grateful for the high levels of interest in this issue, and the time it has taken everyone to comment here. We have explained the reasons behind the announcement in the initial blog post, and at this stage there is nothing more to add - but we have reviewed the comments and we thank everyone for them.

Sport Hosts"

The vast number of replies to that Blog are articulate and condemn the BBC for this deal and are looking for a better response. Reply number 5555 is particularly good.

At the same time, a petition on petition-buzz was started. This currently has 30,228 signatures.

The Hungarian Grand Prix came and went last weekend with scant mention of this backlash - it was obvious that the presentation team were unhappy but had been told to toe the party line which seems to be keep schtum. This even applied to the post-race red-button forum which is where the fans are supposed to be able to air their views.

The deal stinks for many reasons. One recurring argument is that the BBC could have let the whole F1 rights go to another free-to-air channel so everyone would be able to see all of the races but rather than allow one of their competitors have that, they would rather do a deal with the organisation they have just spent the last three weeks questioning the ethics and morals of.

If that is true, it seriously stinks and heads should roll.

The official response from the BBC is still being eagerly awaited.

Jake Humphrey posted a Blog entry which has now taken over as the place to post your complaints. It's currently sitting there with 1146 replies.

There is now also an Parliamentary e-petition currently with 6097 signatures (including mine) but I'd be surprised if that reaches the 100,000 that is required to get a debate in the House of Commons.

The BBC have let Murray Walker comment but he is not a BBC employee and reluctantly accepts the deal - he also, rather surprisingly, seems to imply that he can't afford Sky TV.

On many occasions within Metro's Car Blog I have discussed and compared F1 & BTCC. I know which I'll be watching next year.

Overall, the lack of coherent responses by the BBC Sport management to the very real arguments being put is disgraceful.

To quote rock-band Foreigner, they're, "As cold as ice".

Friday, 29 July 2011

Sky's The Limit

Bad news today. Sky TV (aka Rupert Murdoch's News International) have been awarded the rights to broadcast all practice, qualifying and races of the 2012 Formula 1 Season and also the following years up to and including 2018.

It could be worse I suppose, the BBC will still be allowed to show half of the races live including the two important ones - Monaco and Britain. They also get the season-finale race but that may or may not be worth seeing because, like this year, the championship may have been decided earlier.

It could also have been worse in that as recently as this month, there was much talk of a possible take-over of the whole of F1 by Murdoch. I think and hope that the phone-hacking scandal has put pay to all that.

That ESPN article article claims that Bernie is very good friends with the Murdochs but it's apparently impossible to find a photo of them together - I wonder why?

My main objection to Sky taking over another sport though is that I (and there are many others too) am too stingy, poor and Murdoch-hating to pay and will not be able to see as much live action.

It also means we will see less of these guyswhich is a shame.

Still, Bernie here will have done a good deal, he always does.Mind you, Rupert is also known for his hard-dealing - I guess the best businessman will have won out - I'm sure there wouldn't be any dirty tricks involved.

Hang on, isn't Bernie using a mobile phone in that picture?

I hope no-one's hacked into it.