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?