Thursday, 26 May 2011

Sorry America

The number of hits my Blog gets from the US is in danger of overtaking the number I get from the UK, so, while your President is over here, I'll address an apology to you.

I'm speaking as a European here, because it was the Italians who did this - albeit for the British market.

There you were, rightly so, feeling very pleased with the way you dealt with Bin Laden when you find that Fiat have stuck a Chrysler badge on this...God that's ugly. What Car? have reviewed it here and don't exactly enthuse about it but don't really comment on HOW BLEEPING UGLY IT IS either.

They picked on Chrysler because it was a brand they owned and Lancia has a rust-bucket reputation in the UK.

Your other big car brands (apart from Ford who we think of as British while Germans think it is German and Australians think of it as Aussie) don't fare too well either.

Let's take Chevrolet for example - and there are many fine examples to choose from:

But what cars get Chevrolet badges here in the UK?

Renamed Daewoos - that's what!Ugh!! But you've only got GM to blame for that.

Meanwhile, an attempt to bring the Dodge name to Britain was attempted four or five years ago.

On actual Dodge cars!

Very funny advert:
But it didn't really work and they eventually gave up.

The only Dodge I've ever driven was identical to this one:You'd call it a 15-Seater Minibus.

I just called it scary.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Recalling Picasso


Another BBC story today, and it's also a trailer for Watchdog. I'm surprised the rest of the motoring media hasn't picked up on this one because it is a howler - and a dangerous one at that.

The Citroen C3 attracive (if cubist) car, was, unsurprisingly for a Citroen, designed in France - where they drive on the right side of the road. That is right as in "left/right" not right as in "right/wrong" - after all, we all know that the left is the right side to drive on. (That sentence won't make a lot of sense if translated from English!)

Now to convert this car to drive on the left, you need to move the controls to be on the right and therein lay the problem.

I've experienced problems with French cars before - I think the pedal positioning of the RHD Peugeot 206s, for instance, is an accident waiting to happen.

But the C3 Picasso's problem is that, rather than move the whole brake mechanism, they put a bar running the width of the car where the pedals go. This means that someone stretching out in the passenger seat, can move the bar and apply the brakes.

This could lead to some serious rear-ending - leaving you with a face like this...

Apparently reluctantly, Citroen are recalling more than 20,000 cars.

Enough to make you weep...

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Traffic Noise

Interesting, albeit depressing, item on BBC News today.

It is asking the question, "What noise should electric and hydrogen cars make?"

I say "depressing" because I love the sound of the internal combustion engine and find it hard to comprehend a world in the future when the roads are dominated by a quiet humming noise. Having said that, I don't live next door to a major highway.

The article includes a video (which the BBC don't seem to encourage embedding any more) describing work done at Warwick University to find suitable artificial noises so that pedestrians don't get knocked over by electric cars.

They suggest, amongst other things, UFO-type effects.

I reckon it depends on the car. One of these......would require a gentle whooshing noise, or maybe some Brahms.

But most electric cars could make do with a milk-float whine.

Either that, or you record a seven year-old boy making engine noises, including gear-changes and screeching brakes and get the car's ECU to play the appropriate sounds at the right time. It works brilliantly for these electric cars...

There could also be a market for celebrity car noises like with Sat-Navs.

I'd pay good money for Brian Blessed car noises.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Some Say... ...He's Disappeared off the Face of the Earth

Last September, I reported how Ben Collins had joined the BTCC. Then, a week or so later, I reported how he had also joined Fifth Gear.

Now, both of these fine events are back in full-swing for 2011 and there's no sign of Ben in either. Well, almost no sign - he was interviewed at the last BTCC meeting and said how he was hoping to compete next season.

He also popped up briefly - as himself! - on a repeat of Top Gear I caught on the Dave Channel the other day. It was the episode where they played football using Toyota Aygos. If only we'd spotted the clues at the time - the other competitors were Russ Swift and his son - an obvious choice for throwing small cars around impressively - and a load of touring car drivers. As they were being introduced, each one's achievements in Touring Car racing were being read out, then they got to Ben who they quickly skirted over.

For those of you reading this and thinking, "Who The Hell is Ben Collins!?"

You obviously haven't read the post from September!

Well, I'll tell you again, but only because I'm such a nice person.

Ben Collins was Top Gear's tame racing driver, The Stig.

Not the first Stig, the black one - that was Perry McCarthy.

And not the current Stig, born in a stable (or cattle-shed depending on your favourite Christmas Carol) in Bethlehem. I'm not going to speculate who the current Stig is but I will confidently say that it isn't me.

Or my wife.

Or Sir Terry Wogan.

Or Ben Collins.

Now, where was I before you interrupted me asking who Ben Collins is?

Ah yes, what is he up to nowadays?

According to his Website, he's doing some Le Mans racing and some Volvo driving. He did mention the Le Mans stuff in the BTCC interview - he's working with RML who are Jason Plato's BTCC Team although the car is Honda based so Steve Rider wanted to talk about Matt Neal's team.

Apart from that, he's been promoting crisps - hence the photo above.

It hasn't done Gary Lineker any harm.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Getting all in a Twizy

Mike Rutherford (No, not the bloke from Genesis) in his column in The Telegraph has written an article seriously praising the electric Renault Twizy.

It costs £7K plus battery-rental which sounds cheap enough.

You can park it sideways like a Smart as in the picture above. But you shouldn't do that because cars don't have bumpers on their sides so parking nudges will result in dents.

Anyway, it isn't a car.

It's a quadricycle.

Like a G-Wiz - and we all know how they crumple in a crash-test.

The biggest problem though is it doesn't have doors.

That means that people would be able to see you driving it.

Anyway, there are cheaper alternatives available...