Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Metro's Review of the Year

Well, it's that time of year again - New Year's Eve Eve.  Time to reflect on what has been and gone in 2014.

A year when, thanks to this very post you are reading now, I have achieved exactly 5 Posts in each calendar month - not something I set out to do back in January but as it started to happen, I decided to make a point of continuing it.  Normal service will be resumed next year.

Talking of back in January, the BBC showed "Russia on Four Wheels"
Metro, the free newspaper, unlike Metro the me, didn't appreciate it so I wrote a post explaining why they were wrong.

The big motoring story in February was the giant sinkhole that took 8 cars at the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky, USA.  I covered it along with a few British sinkholes that seemed to be coincident with it.

In March, I foresaw the emergence of UKIP as a force to be dealt with in British politics - they went on to win 2 by-elections unfortunately.  Although really it was an excuse to discuss the mascinations occurring at the top of F1.
Looking at that car, I just have to reiterate what I said in March, "Ugh!"

In April, Chris Evans tried to initiate "National Take Your Classic Car to Work Day".  It didn't work.

May saw the end of the Hindustan Motors Company - producer of the Hindustan Ambassador for over 60 years.  A sad time.  End of an era.  So I made comments about Ferrero Rocher.

In June a Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department for Transport commented on the poor state of British roads.  It's a better story than it sounds.

Half way through the year already.  In the heat of the July sun, Jeremy Clarkson & James May crashed some Peugeots:
My story went on to discuss another crash a bit nearer to home.  MSN speculated that the Peugeots crash happened during filming of a new series of Top Gear and my response was "Well Duh!!"

Well I'm not so sure now because I haven't seen anything with those cars in.  Yet.

August saw the Bernie Ecclestone Bribery Trial reach its climax.  Or anti-climax.  He paid out a load of cash to make it go away.

Saturday September 13th 2014 will go down in history as the date of the first ever Formula e race.  It happened in Beijing and was everthing that had been hoped for including a dramatic crash at the end. I covered the event quite comprehensively by my standards.
This Katherine Legge, the only female, British driver.  She isn't very good.

October gets three stories - well, two stories in three posts.  October is when it all kicked off for the Top Gear team in Argentina.  Here's my take. I watched the shows this week and it looked very scary - not for the presenters because they were whisked away to safety quite early on - but for the crew - even the joke 2CV thing had its windows smashed - what was the point of doing that? (Apparently it is a Citroneta - here are some images)

I can see why they made the Butch Cassidy joke at the end of the show but it was a bit unnecessary and detracted from the danger their crew was in.

The Lotus was very impressive though.  Probably destroyed by now.

The other October story was the end of Luca di Montezemolo's chairmanship of Ferrari and his ousting by Sergio Marchionne.  Marchionne then went on to effectively sell Ferrari.  Details are here and here.

November.  Nearly at the end now.

November brought us SEMA (as it often does) and the news that Red Bull F1 Team boss Christian Horner got engaged to a Spice Girl and nobody noticed.

And then we reached December 2014.  This was when I decided to do a review of the year - don't think I'll include a link to that - might get recursive.  Instead I'll remind you that this month, Google uncovered a proper, working version of their stupid driverless car.
It actually makes the UKIP one look preferable.

Have a happy and prosperous 2015.  I'll be back in the New Year - maybe this Thursday (but probably not).

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Some Say... ...He Drives a Kia.

And not a reasonably-priced Kia Cee-apostrophe-D.

There's not a lot to add to this ad review in Car&Driver.

Kia are using, not one, but four, Stig-alikes to advertise the latest version of their Sedona people-carrier.

But it looks like have bottled it when it comes to putting it on Youtube:

They have "digitally enhanced" it.  But black helmets!?  Worried about a lawsuit?

 Maybe the original Stig will want to sue now.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Driverless Cars are not Good-ish

Perhaps they are Rubb-ish.

I went to see Dave Gorman live a few weeks ago.  He was more than good-ish.  If you don't know him, he presents a series on the Dave Channel called "Modern Life is Good-ish".  Part of this involves him performing seomething called a Found Poem which is where he takes comments made by idiots on the Internet at the bottom of news stories and turns them into something very funny.

Here is his found poem about the beef-being-substituted-by-horse-meat scandal from earlier this year.

He also produced a very fine poem about Google's driverless cars - although the funniest line in it wasn't made by an idiot - it was made by a genius (which is incidentally the name of another show Dave Gorman did)

That line was:

"Why does it have wing-mirrors?"

Well, it looks like that question has now been answered along with my main worry from July when I looked at driverless cars.

The answers appear in this article from caradvice.co.au

The article states that:

The long-awaited Google self-driving car has been uncovered with the technology company claiming it is “the best holiday gift we could’ve imagined”.

No it isn't.   It now has legal requirements such as those mirrors and working lights and safety features that the lack of concerned me - such as a steering wheel and controls.
It provides more Found Poem fodder...

...and it still looks stupid.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Color Me Bad

I've spelled "colour" the American way there because of a survey a couple of the American sites have picked up today.  Here's the Fox News version.  Apparently, white was the most popular colour for new cars for the fourth straight year.  This is true Stateside and in Europe.

I've not really done much on car colour in the past - here's a post from a couple of years back on yellow cars although it was probably just an excuse to include a picture of Susanna Reid.

Here's another one.
Now, despite white being most popular, a sort of metallicky yellow seems to be the colour of choice of this week's press releases.

Like this Lexus LF-C2 concept from this story.
Can't help thinking that the front end looks like a cheese-grater - or perhaps a pedestrian-grater.  If you hit an animal in it, you would end up with diced meat cooking on your engine block.

The other car in that colour is this one.
It is from this story.  It is a Willys Interlagos.  Willys doesn't really exist any more and Italian coachbuilders plan a limited run of this vehicle (apparently based on a Porsche 911) which pays homage to the original Willys Interlagos of the 1960s.

I hadn't heard of the original Willys Interlagos of the 1960s.  In fact I thought Willys were just responsible for the WWII Jeep.

But no.  Here is the Willys Wikipedia page so you don't have to type "Willys" into Google.  They had a long and illustrious car-making history which eventually became part of Daimler-Chrysler/Fiat (aka FCA) who make the modern-day Jeeps.

Like this one...
Which I don't.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Past Times

I've just been for a wander around the Skoda Museum.

They do scrambled eggs for 39 of whatever the currency is in The Czech Republic.  Which is cheaper than the "hot wine" which costs 45 of whatever the currency is in The Czech Republic.

Upstairs is a bit boring though - it's just white chairs and tables plus a fire extinguisher.

The ground floor is very interesting though - especially as you can get in some of the cars.

Shame it was only a virtual wander then.

I was pointed at it by this article in caradvice.com.au

It is good old Google Maps that let you have a look inside.  I'd love to know they got the Google Mapping car inside the museum restaurant.

They've also allegedly had it inside the Lamborghini, Mazda and Honda museums too.

Meanwhile, Autocar are taking us today on a gentle stroll around a Mini exhibition in Munich.

This shows us that, just after MINI launched their 4-Door version on the market, Minis really do look disproportionate with 4 Doors:
 This next item is wrong - 1959 Minis did not have those rear light clusters.
And this third picture is just wrong in other ways.  I can't decide if it meant to show that these cars have been driven at a wall at very high speed...

...or it is the result of some strange, perverted hunting trip.
Also, we are not told how much the scrambled eggs cost in the restaurant there.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Hope His Air-Brakes Work

This is impossible, right?
Apparently not.
What you are looking at is a picture of an articulated lorry jumping over a Lotus F1 car - including driver!
FoxNews had the story yesterday.
Well, the story is true - but the picture misleading.
This is what actually happened: 

They broke the World Record for the distance jumped by a tractor & trailer unit and also the suspension of the tractor unit.

The F1 car was racing alongside (or behind as the photographer was looking) the jump and would have been flattened if it had been where the photographer initially wants us to believe it is.

Still very impressive.

Here they are receiving their World Record certificate.
I knew there had to be some interesting F1 news somewhere this week.  (Sorry Lewis, only joking, well done to you too)

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Would You Like Fries With That?

You would think a Spice Girl marrying an F1 Team boss would be big news.
But no.

I've only just spotted this Fox News story from 5 days ago and I hadn't heard it elsewhere.  Geri Halliwell is now engaged to Christian Horner, Red Bull boss.  Apparently they've announced it in The Times just like Benedict Cumberbatch did last week - that one was widely reported - I knew about that.

Maybe the F1 press are more concerned with the rather bad news about the smaller teams going into administration and worse.

The general motoring press have had a few interesting stories like this moron being quite rightly sent to jail for taking his girlfriend's car into a motor race.  An inexperienced driver like him could have caused total carnage.

Or there is the launch of Top Gear China.
I suppose I've not really looked for F1 stories since I stopped watching it.
Or maybe there is just less interest in F1 generally since the BBC did their dirty deal with Sky.
And I certainly don't follow showbiz gossip so maybe that's why I didn't know about Geri.  Maybe she's not famous any more - after all, I was fully aware of the truly awful news that S Club 7 are touring again.
And one of them seems to turned into Rutledge Wood.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Asda Priceless

I think I must have been breaking the law today.

Especially if what happened to this young Lancashire man is anything to go by.  He was fined after pleading guilty to driving while ‘able to see directly or by reflection a TV receiving apparatus used to display something other than information about the state of the vehicle or its equipment, or about the location of the vehicle and the road on which it was located, or to assist the driver to see the road adjacent to the vehicle or to assist the driver to reach his destination.’

I was watching Asda adverts as I drove past a Cheshire Constabulary building this morning.

These adverts were on what I thought was an Asda delivery van but then decided must have been one of these: 
A van with three big TV screens, one on each side and one on the back showing ads - in my case moving (literally moving pictures moving along the road) ads for Asda.

Not the first time it has been done though:
That is Top Gear's attempt at putting James Bond technology (cameras & TV screens) onto a van to make it appear invisible.  Richard Hammond is driving it but, of course, you can't see him.

Looking for those picture did lead me to several others that made we wonder about the drivers of actual Asda delivery vans.

This one trusted his sat-nav too much:
This one had to be rescued after going down a slipway to turn around:
But this one is my favourite - getting stuck after attempting a three-point turn in a too-narrow road. 
So what about Adsa customers?
I can't decide if this is brilliant or stupid.  The car-park was full of cars belonging to people doing their Christmas shopping: 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Simply Mercedes

Actually it's complicated Mercedes.

They are still having problems coming up with a naming convention for their product range.  Maybe that is the real reason why they have dropped the R-Class.  Then again, that had probably more to do with only selling 13 cars Worldwide.

Let me take you back two-and-a-bit years.

I picked up on an article in Car.  That article tries to explain how Mercedes were "simplifying" the naming structure as the old C-Class, E-Class, S-Class with added GLs, MLs, SLKs, CLCs etc. was confusing the stuffing out of their clientelle (and presumably sales staff too)

Good idea.

Only trouble is, the new system was even more confusing - trying to read the explanation in that article would make Stephen Hawking baulk.

But they went with it.

Then, in August this year, they decided to "tweak" it with some "sweeping changes".  Those quoted phrases come from this Autocar article from that time.

The article continues...

Among the changes is a renaming of the upcoming second-generation GLK, which will wear GLC badges which is meant to align the GLK with the C-Class in the same way the smaller GLA is tied to the A-Class. Mercedes-Benz also plans to abandon the long-established M-class name for an all-new GLE nomenclature.  As well as appearing on the facelifted version of the M-class, the GLE name is also planned to appear on the production version of the concept GLC Coupe, which will carry the name GLE Coupe into production.  Also, the GL is set to receive a new GLS name, positioning it as the S-class of Mercedes-Benz’s SUV line-up.

OK.  So far, so confusing.

Now, Mercedes have formally annouced these "tweaks" and according to Autocar, these tweaks are still "sweeping changes".

Here's a nice diagram:
Although, apparently, the SL is immune to these new rules because it is "iconic".  As is the G-Class (or G-Wagen)
“More clarity, more transparency, more consistency. The logic built up on the basis of the core model series will enable our customers to find their way round our growing product portfolio better,” said Jens Thiemer, head of marketing communications.
Maybe it translates better in German.
I could include another diagram about engine types being added to the names but let's not go there.
Actually let's.
These Mercedes-Benz model names will be graced with lower case letters indicating the type of engine used: c for compressed natural gas (previously Natural Gas Drive); d for diesel (previously BlueTec and CDI); e for electric (previously Plug-in Hybrid, BlueTec Plug-In Hybrid and Electric Drive); f for fuel cell (previously F-Cell); h for hybrid (previously Hybrid and BlueTec Hybrid).
Oh yes, and nothing for petrol.
And the numbers still bear no real relation to the engine size. 
Don't even mention 4MATIC.
I used to own a Mercedes C180 Sport - a C-Class with an 1800 petrol engine and with the Sport trim level.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Beer Wagon

It is SEMA Time!
What is SEMA?  Well, SEMA stands for "Speciality Equipment Market Association" and every year they hold a big motor show with lots of pimped up cars, vans and other vehicles.  I first heard of it through watching American Hot-Rod with Boyd Coddington regularly unveiling his creations there.
The big manufacturers are also interested with contributions this year from Honda, Mazda and Toyota to name but three and some nicely tricked out vans from Mercedes that I particularly liked.
The SEMA 2014 Website is pretty good but does point out something I hadn't realised before - this is a TRADE ONLY event, mere members of the public can't go along!  I don't think writing a semi-serious car blog would class me as being part of the trade - shame.
Obviously, the American car press is full of SEMA at the moment but also the Brits and Aussies are also seeming quite enthusiastic.  That was acouple of links to cars that stood out to those journos.  Here's the one I like:
It started out as a standard, boring Kia Sedona but has been converted into a mobile bar selling Ballast Point products.  Ballast Point are a brewery/distillery formed during the last Century (1996 to be precise).  Autoguide have the story of this beer wagon here.
I like it because it combines two of my favourite things - beer and cars.
I had a look on Google Images to see if anything combined three of my favourite things - beer, cars and football. Plenty of interesting images did come up but none that met my remit - so here is a picture of Loic Remy: 
- a footballer found guilty earlier this year of drink-driving.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Who's The Boss?

That was quite a good series in its day - especially the character Mona played by Katherine Helmond.  And isn't Judith Light scary now as the old biddie in Dallas?  This was much better than the British version, The Upper Hand.  There seems to be new version of this now called Melissa & Joey.
But that's besides the point.
A lot of Ferrari employees may now be asking the question, Who's the boss?
This follows on from today's news (in Autocar for example) that Ferrari are being split off from the parent Fiat-Chrysler organisation - or FCA as it's known by its friends.  Ferrari will be a stand-alone company.
It feels like only 23 days ago that I was reporting on the changes at Ferrari with FCA boss Sergio Marchionne taking Ferrari over from Luca di Montezemolo.
Today, FCA currently owns 90 per cent of Ferrari, while the other 10 per cent is owned by the son of Enzo Ferrari.  Apparently,10% of FCA's interest in Ferrari will be offered to public investors. The remainder will be distributed among FCA shareholders.
So FCA shareholders will own 81% of Ferrari and more if they buy some of the publicly offered shares.
So will they be happy for Sergio to continue in charge?
Interesting times.
Meanwhile Fiat are getting involved with interesting cars:
This is from this caradvice.com.au story.  It's a much more interesting story.  Possibly because it doesn't talk about shareholdings.  But probably because it discusses a concept premiered at the Sao Paulo motor show in Brazil.  It's a coupe SUV which I shouldn't like given how much I hate the looks of the BMW X6.
But this one, the FCC4, is longer than an X6 and not as tall - and looks really cool.  Will the Brazilians go nuts for it?  I don't see why not.
But if they don't, blame the boss.  Whoever that is.

Monday, 27 October 2014

How do you get four elephants in a Mini?

Two in the front, two in the back

How do you get four giraffes in a Mini?

You can't - it's full up with elephants.

In my day, people broke records for the number of people they could crush into a Mini.

It still happens.
But that's a new Mini not a proper Mini.  They're bound to get more in.
That photo (and record)  appear in this plug for the new Guinness Book of World Records book that is appearing in MSN Cars at the moment - a plethora of motoring records.
As plugs go, it is quite an interesting one.  Partly because not only does it feature Edd China in a couple, but it also features the Honda BTCC Team in a couple.  Win-win as far as I'm concerned.

 It also features the longest car in the World, complete with helipad and helicopter:
I particluarly like the fastest bathroom including Edd China, dirty washing and rubber duckies: 
and also this VW Scirocco which hasn't won the "most boring" title (I can think of many candidates for that category - Japan and Korea I'm looking at you) but has won the most powered by coffee category - a Sciroccocino if you will.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Losing Focus

I'm only posting this because I know she is making a full recovery.

This has to be one of the scariest videos I have ever seen.

It looks like the driver was making a very foolish manoeuvre.

It was caught on film by a Polish truck driver (who was somewhat involved) and reported in Belgian news (for that is where it happened) back in August here and updated recently here including comments from the unfortunate (or maybe very fortunate) Focus Driver.  You may want to use a translate tool if, like me, you aren't familiar with the Dutch language.

This picture graphically shows the immediate aftermath.
Good job it was a left-hand drive car.
The video has gone viral and I can't say I'm surprised.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Don't Cry For Jeremy Argentina

I thought that the hoo-ha about the Top Gear Argentina Special would have blown over by now.

But watching Have I Got A Bit More News For You? last night convinced me otherwise.

For those who have been out of circulation for the last couple of weeks, the Top Gear presenters and crew has to abandon their trip through Argentina due to an unfortunate number plate on a Porsche driven by Jeremy.  Most news outlets reported it - here's the Telegraph's take on it.  The offending number plate was H982 FKL.
Some say that was a deliberate reference to The Falklands Conflict.  Top Gear say that it was a coincidence.  Others say that H982 refers to the year of the conflict (although it actually 1982) while obviously the FKL is from FalKLands which the Argentinians like to call Las Malvinas.

I can see some concern there.

Although a local councillor there lost some credibility when he said that the digits 269 on the number plate of the Ford Mustang Richard Hammond was driving were close to the 255 Britons killed during the 1982 war and that the numbers 646 on James May's Lotus could be taken as a reference to the 649 Argentinian casualties.

No they couldn't.

Top Gear are insisting that this was an unfortunate coincidence and that nobody realised the significance of H982 FKL until it was pointed out to them and then lots of war veterans (aged in their twenties according to Jeremy) started throwing stones at them.

There is no doubt that that Porsche has had that number plate for at least 10 years - this means that they didn't deliberately change it.  However, they could have deliberately bought that car due to its number plate.

They deny that they did this.

They also point out that when the significance of H982 FKL was pointed out, they changed the plates on the car.

This is true, there are photos of the car carrying H1 VAE.

That plate apparently belongs to a Porsche 911.  Maybe the original owner (maybe with initials VAE - perhaps ex-Brookside actor Vince Earl?) traded in the Top Gear Porsche for his 911 taking his personal number with him and left the old physical plates in the car when it got re-registered.

Sounds a reasonable scenario - it would explain why there was a spare set of plates in the car.

So the story can die away now?


Clarkson writes for The Sun so the other papers want to keep twisting the knife.

This weekend, The Independent had an interview with the Argentinian ambassador to the UK, Alicia Castro.  She accuses Jeremy of portraying Argentinians as savages.  I only really mention it because I like her quote, "We eat a lot of beef, but we have never eaten a journalist."

However, news has now emerged of another set of plates with the car.  This is what they were talking about last night on HIGNFY.
These were almost certainly meant for Jeremy as a joke to be used at some point in the show.
Being pedantic, I hate mixing upper and lower case letters in words - I find it particularly iRriTatINg.  But "BE11 END" is clearly meant to be "Bell-End" - a penile insult probably lost on most non-Brits.
So why would they expect to need a new set of plates?  Without seeing a script it does look a bit dodgy.
The Star took it a bit far though, claiming Jeremy could end up in prison.  Apparently, "The DVLA has said it is an offence to drive a car in the UK or abroad with a plate which is different to the one assigned to the vehicle."
Well, I doubt if the DVLA have any authority in Argentina and there is no evidence of it being driven with the wrong plates over here.
Besides, The Star's main story today is a complete hoax that they have fallen for about a giant crab.
So maybe not a very reliable source of news?

Monday, 6 October 2014

Car Body Language

It's all change at Ferrari.

Alonso is out and Vettel is in.

But, more significantly, di Montezemolo is out and Marchionne is in.

Both these changes seem to be F1 related.

Well, obviously the first one is!  It is covered in this week's news from many sources including The BBC who also covered the news last month about Sergio Marchionne taking over the chairman's chair from Luca di Montezemolo.  As can be seen in that article, there is speculation that Luca's departure is him being pushed out due to disagreements with Marchionne.  These will be partly down to the very poor recent performance of the Ferrari F1 team.  I don't see swapping Alonso for Vettel altering things there - the problem is the car not the driver - I reckon Alonso is the better of the two albeit not by a lot.

Anyway, as boss of Fiat-Chrysler, the parent company of Ferrari, Marchionne has the power to take over and that is what is happening - on October 13th to be precise.

Which leaves things a little awkward for them at the Paris Motor Show this week.  Paris saw the last ever Ferrari press conference for Luca with Sergio there to "support" him.  Andrew Frankel of Autocar covered it in two articles first factually, then artistically.

The first article reports the usual corporate press-conferencey stuff - the future direction of the company etc. and does have the little dig where Marchionne claimed his most important priority was to return Scuderia Ferrari to the top of Formula 1, a goal he described as a "non-negotiable objective."

The second article looks at how the two men appeared at the press-conference:
The outgoing boss is enthusiastic and open while his successor looks bored off his trolley and decidely uncomfortable.
It makes an interesting read.
And I know who will be the happier man on October 13th.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Catatonic State

"If all you've got to do today is find peace of mind
Come round you can take a piece of mine"

Oh yes?

"'Cause you and I know,
It's all over the front page, you give me road rage,
Racing through the best days,
It's up to you boy you're driving me crazy,
Thinking you may be losing your mind."

Some excellent lyrics there on the subject of road rage.

And now for an excellent video.  Apparently there is adult content in this video but unless you speak Russian you won't know that.  I had to confirm my age before I watched it:

I don't know if this is a genuine video or not but it is funny and I found it thanks to this CarAdvice.com.au story about road rage in Australia.  As ever, CarAdvice find (or produce) some excellent pictures to illustrate their story:

And here's one I found on Google Images: 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Sticky Trunk Latch

Not to be confused with this sticky lunch batch:
A sticky trunk latch is something that is apparently afflicting Ferrari 458s.
According to this Autoguide story, Ferrari are recalling the cars due to this fault.  Being an Ameriican story, they refer to the trunk as the bit of the car wher you put your luggage, what we Brits would call "the boot" or, since it is at the front of the car where the engine (motor) normally lives, we could be forgiven for calling it "the bonnet".
However, whilst irritating, it's not really a big deal not being able to easily get at your overnight bag now is it?
Well, this is an American story remember.  And they have extra laws over there to protect people who have been stuffed into car trunks (as opposed to swimming trunks or elephant trunks) by Mafiosos, psychopaths, debt collectors etc.  In fact they have to have a little handle in there that can be pulled from inside to allow escape.  Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 401 is the rule that Autoguide quote.
Only problem with this recall is the size of a Ferrari 458 trunk:

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: