Friday, 14 July 2017

Slippery Road Ahead

There's something fishy in the state of Oregon.
And it's all over the road.
A number of hagfish - aka slime eels - because they have a habit of producing lots of the stuff when stressed - have been involved in a road accident.  According to the Police, the driver, Salvatore Tragale, who is not a hagfish, approached roadworks and tried to stop.  One container flew off the truck bed and into the southbound lane, while the other containers spilled onto the highway.  The flying container hit one vehicle which then caused it and four other vehicles to be pushed into each other. There were no serious injuries to the humans involved.  Not too sure of the fate of the fish but their prospects were not good anyway as they were en route to becoming South Korean meals. 
The story is here - I found it on the Australian ABC News site although plenty of other news outlets closer to Oregon also had it.
As for Salvatore - e'll have to be more careful next time.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Infernal Combustion Engine

The new Honda Civic looks pretty spectacular:
That is going by Editor-in-Chief of Top Gear Mag, Charlie Turner's, comment that "...our cover story, where the battle for the hot-hatch heartland continues with the arrival of the fifth-generation Civic Type-R"
Ah, of course - it's the Type-R - that explains the spoiler.
Or maybe, while us subscribers to this fine magazine get our own covers, maybe we should also get our own welcome message from Mr.Turner.
In case you're wondering, that's an Aston-Martin Valkyrie not a Honda Civic.
Meanwhile, on Page 20 of the mag, we learn that Volvo's high-performance division, Polestar, will now be exclusively building electric cars.  Which is a shame.  But it also fits in with the big Volvo news from last week - Carmaker Volvo has said all new models will have an electric motor from 2019.
They were actually quite clever with their wording there.
My own car for example has several electric motors - at least one in each door.
They got the headlines though.  It plans to launch five fully electric models between 2019 and 2021 and a range of hybrid models.  But it will still be manufacturing earlier models that have only combustion engines.  And those hybrids will still have some carbon being ignited - so it is nothing more than an indication of the direction that the car industry is moving in.
Further illustrated by the story a day later that France is set to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040.  No indication of what happens to internally combustion engined cars bought in France in December 2039 though - or those bought over the national borders that may get driven in to France.
I suppose they still have 22 and a half years to fine-tune the rules...
...and to come to some sort of agreement in Paris.  Probably not involving this foolish fossil...
who may well be personally adding to the world's fossil fuel stocks by then.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Slide Rules

I read something someone posted on Facebook this morning.

That's not unusual - I often do that.

It asked me to share it to 15 other people.

Also unfortunately not unusual - I've posted about that sort of thing before.  It irritates me and makes me immediately suspicious of whatever it is that they want me to share - which in this case was a plausible warning about using cruise-control in the wet causing aqua-planing.
In this case it was an unnamed woman who had wrecked her car - of course there was no link to an actual story of it actually happening.
The article argued that a slipping wheel would cause cruise-control to think the car wasn't going as fast as it should be so it would accelerate to compensate.
Yes, I can see that - I'm still not sharing a Facebook article that tells me to share it though - there's still something fishy going on.
It's like those Posts that tell you to Copy-and-Paste their text onto your own Timeline - DON'T SHARE!  I eventually found out what that was about -  it has two benefits for the Scammer:
  • It's harder for Facebook to delete 20000 copies of an article rather than one article with all its shares.
  • It allows the Scammer to include an easily Google-Searchable phrase in order to identify 20000 gullible people.
Anyway, I did a bit of digging on this rainy aquaplaney thing.  I found this most excellent piece by Joe Kenwright on which not only describes where cruise-control came from and how it works but also why you shouldn't use it in the wet and also why the Post I read this morning is complete and utter nonsense.
So, if you want to make wet motorways a safer place - share my article far and wide.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Pick Up Lines

I've said it before.

On more than one occasion.


Today we have this one:
It's from this Autocar story about the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado.  You can't tell anything about the car/pick-up thingy from that picture - least of all the big news that IT IS A DIESEL!
Actually that is quite big news for America because, apart from Sin City Motors' Steve Darnell, nobody in America likes Diesels.
And what's with the 2019 model year? - it's still 2017 for goodness sake!
And how are you supposed to tell from that picture that it's a Diesel anyway?
Ah - apparently this bloke with the Michigan State T-shirt and the blurry face is using a Diesel pump.
Anyway, I have a scoop here!  This is an exclusive picture of the 2020 Ford Fiesta under testing at the Nürburgring

Monday, 19 June 2017

For Richer, For Poorer

There were a couple of interesting Autocar articles published this week that I quite enjoyed until I read a comment that made me feel quite cold.

The first one was this one.

It is a story about a company called "Flying Spares", based near Nuneaton which basically recycles discarded Bentleys and Rolls Royces to supply spares all around the World.  Most of the business is shipping new or remanufactured spares but they do also source many off the vehicles that they have there too.
Not sure what that 66 plate Bentayga is doing there though. I wonder if they will actually cater for newer Bentleys given that they are now part of VAG so will have a completely different set of spares to Rollers.
I know I love wandering about a scrapyard - that particular one (not that they call it a scrapyard) would be particularly fascinating.
The company was started out of a Portakabin by Ben Handford and his wife, Lucy and is now turning over close to £10 million per year.
Another entrepreneur who started small (in a barn in fact) is Tim Earnshaw, who owns Windrush Car Storage which is what the other article is about.  It is a storage facility for luxury cars and a Metro.
The article begins, "They call it ‘the Batcave’ because of the amazing cars it contains, and because you could be standing within two feet of it and not know it was there.
I can’t tell you precisely where it is except that it’s in an underground car park in central London, shielded from view by thick walls."

It seems to be under the Westfield Shopping Centre.

It costs £480 a month to store your car there and it will get cosseted including regular running.  I hope they aren't charging the Metro owner that - it will be costing more than the car is worth just to store it.  They do have a cheaper facility in the Cotswolds where they charge £270 a month.  It would be worth driving from London to there just for the savings - but then again, money is not going to be an issue for the people using this service.
Could that be a Bugatti Veyron under that sheet perhaps?

Then I read the comments at the bottom of the story.

Someone using the name voyager12 said "The city where cars are better looked after than people."

Now I love cars.  That's why I was finding it so interesting reading these articles.  The first article is fine - it is about helping people - enthusiasts - to keep old luxury cars on the road at a budget to be enjoyed.  The second article though is about helping obscenely rich people store luxury cars that will very rarely be driven.

The location is nice and handy for Kensington.

Kensington where there are many luxury properties laying empty while their rich, usually foreign, owners are abroad somewhere for most of the year.

Kensington where, at the latest count, 79 people died in the Grenfell Tower fire.  They were there because they were poor - because that was the best social housing that could be found for them.  If it is true that the block was covered in dangerous cladding because it was more attractive to look at then someone needs to go to prison for a very long time.  But if it is true, we know they won't.

Now don't get me wrong, I've no problem with Tim.  He has found an excellent way of bringing some foreign money into our country while he provides a unique and useful service.  It's just a shame that (and I know I'm making a big assumption here) I suspect that most of his client base will think more about their cars than about people.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Amazon Primed to Sell Cars in the UK

Allegedly, you can already buy a new Fiat 500, 500L or Panda through Amazon in Italy.

I can't find any evidence of that actually happening though.

Autocar have the story here.  It looks like it will be Fiat Chrysler Group cars they'll be flogging though.

Hope they've got a big drone.

If it was to have been used cars, then they should have been thinking Volvo:
(That's a Volvo Amazon)
Now they just need some way of publicising the venture to lots of people interested in cars. Can't think how they may go about that...

Friday, 2 June 2017

El Nombre del Coche

Buenos Días.

According to Autoguide, Seat are opening up the naming of their new model to the general public.

It's going to be an SUV slotting into their range above the Ateca which isn't a bad-looking car despite being an SUV:
There is  certain samey-ness to most SUVs nowadays - mainstream manufacturers all seem to be concentrating on different sized cross-overs.  Which is boring.  But people keep buying the things so I can't really criticise the business model.

Anyway, Autoguide announce that the new car won't end up with the name Carry McCarface.  This is a reference to the Polar Research Ship The RRS Sir David Attenborough currently being built up the road from my house.  That ship may have been called Boaty McBoatface if the general public had got their way.

But they didn't.

And Seat insist that their cars are named after Spanish places so it's not an issue.

And when they say "above the Ateca", they don't say if it will be a replacement for the Alhambra (which is more of a people-carrier) or it's going to fit into the range between the two.

I've checked the map and, depending on which route you take, half-way between Ateca and Alhambra is a small place called Buendía.  Which means "Good Day" - a very positive name for a car.

Or they could go for a little town to the South-West of Pamplona.


Monday, 29 May 2017

Motoring Offences

Ok, so what's the worst motoring crime?
  1. Driving while using the phone.
  2. Locking two children in the boot.
  3. Driving at 4TIMES the speed limit.
Two of these are pretty serious.

What? Only two of them?  Surely I can't be serious?

Well I am serious and don't call me Shirley.

Let's take them in order.

1. Driving while using the phone.
We have this story today from BBC News.  UK police caught almost 6,000 drivers using their mobile devices while driving in the four weeks after March 1st.  The significance of that date is that it was then that penalties for being caught were doubled plus any newly-passed drivers caught would have their licences revoked.  It looks like this is still not enough of a deterrent.
2. Locking two children in the boot.
Another BBC story - this time from yesterday where this woman,
Tori Castillo allegedly locked her 5 and 2 year old children into the boot of her car in Utah, USA while she went shopping.  She is facing child abuse charges and the children are now with their father.
Which brings us onto the not-so serious story about the chap convicted of...
3. Driving at 4TIMES the speed limit.
Fox News have this story.  The guilty party was one Walter Arnold and he committed the offence in Kent, UK.
He was driving this very car here: 
The constable who arrested him estimated he was doing a speed of approximately 8mph in a 2mph zone.  Actually, the entire country was a 2mph zone back in 1896 when this happened.  The article describes 2mph as "a little quicker than the average speed of an ambling cow."

The constable was on a bike but I reckon if he'd just upped his walking pace a little he would have still caught him anyway.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Platonic Love

 Plato hasn't been saying much this year.
This probably isn't too unusual.  However Jason Plato also hasn't said much.
This is unusual.

He is normally quite outspoken.  But then again, he's normally doing very well in the British Touring Car Championships.

And this year he isn't.

As I type this, we are currently two races into the Oulton Park Round and Plato has finished 12th and 11th.

He's been blaming the boost regulations.  But that doesn't explain how his team-mate Ash Sutton finished 3rd and 1st.

So Jason has also been blaming this:
He reckons his car has never been fully straightened out after looking like this after crashing at Brands Hatch earlier in the year.
There are four cars in that team and Plato is the senior driver - surely they could have put his number on one of the other cars.  Mind you, I don't envy Warren Scott, the team manager:
It can't be easy having to deal with Plato but I also feel a little sympathy for Jason too - as he pointed out today (now he's finally talking) - it is him who is the front-man for the team and it is him who is having the awkward conversations with the sponsors and money-men.  Although it is also him who flew in to Oulton Park today after attending Pippa Middleton's wedding.  So maybe his life isn't too bad at the moment after all.
However, the real star of the day at Oulton is this young man:
18-year-old Billy Monger.  Five weeks ago, he was involved in a horrific crash while taking part in a Formula 4 race at Donington Park.  He lost both his legs.  His maturity, is attitude, his cheerfulness are amazing.  He wants to race again.
I have no doubt he will.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Darting About After Criminals

Here is a Daimler Dart Police Pursuit vehicle:
Very useful for car chases in the '60s.
But nowadays, cars are faster, crims are meaner and there are a lot more cars on the road.
Which is why this looks like such a good idea: 

Autoguide pointed me at it from here.  The official Website is here.

Alternatively, Police Forces could always bring along one of these guys when they have a pursuit:

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Free Unicorns!

That's an offer not an instruction.

As the party manifestos are getting launched this week, those sceptical about them will be claiming that unreasonable promises are being made and I have heard the term "Free Unicorns" used.

But Autocar today are taking a different tack on unicorns.

They list a series of motoring unicorns - cars that are very, very rare on our roads.

It made me think Vauxhall Signum - I see one of these regularly around where I live and wonder how many are still about.
But no.  Autocar go with the aesthetically- challenged Ford Scorpio, the also-strange-looking Seat Altea Freetrack and, amongst others, a car I'd forgotten about altogether, the Mercedes R-Class.

They also give a mention to the Volvo S80 V8. Any political party offering me a free one of those unicorns can definitely have my vote.
I suspect it won't be The Greens.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Something Good Come Out of Brexit?

I doubt it - I think it's just an excuse.

Mahindra are using it to justify stopping selling the e2o electric car in Britain.
It was just over a year ago that Autocar and I reported on the prospect of these ugly things coming over here - using our roads - taking our parking spaces.  How dare they!

Anyway, today, Autocar and Reuters of all people are announcing that Mahindra are pulling the plug on it.  See what they did there?  "Pulling The Plug" - it's an electric car - I like that.

Apparently, sales have been "untenable".

Well Duh!  Look at it!

All outstanding orders are cancelled.  They are also buying back sold cars at the original asking price.  That seems a strange move - are they ashamed of them? I would be but that's beside the point.  Maybe there's something they aren't telling us - perhaps, as I speculated last April, there really is some safety thing going on here - with added legal implications?

Or maybe Brexit has seen off an obnoxious, ugly, runt not welcome on our shores.

One more now please...

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

The Buick Starts Here

I'd always assumed that General Motors had bought Buick - the same way they bought Vauxhall, Chevrolet, Daewoo, Saab and all of the other marques that they've owned over the years.

But no.

They evolved from Buick - the first motor brand bought by The Durant-Dort Carriage Company out of Flint, Michigan.

Autoguide have the story here about how their original headquarters is now to be used as a "300 person events space with offices."
Should that be a Chrysler 300 person events space?
The founders were William C. Durant and J. Dallas Dort.

The J in J. Dallas Dort stands for Josiah but the only real reason that I'm sharing this only mildly interesting story is that the C in William C. Durant stands for Crapo.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

China's Trumpchi Car Company Ridiculed into Possible Name Change

Well who could have predicted that?

Me for one.

The unsurprising story is here.  Although I suppose it is a little surprising for Fox News to actually admit that "in the United States the level of opposition to Trump is high."

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Sat-Nav Test

On December 4th, the practical bit of the British Driving Test changes.

The BBC tell us this here.

It sort of makes sense - bringing in the distractions posed by modern technology including switching on the rear-window heater while driving along. Hmm.  Not sure about that last bit - surely extracting CD 2 of Now That's What I Call Music 39 and playing Track 6 while driving along would be more realistic.

(and no, I picked it at random and can't be bothered looking up what that track actually is)

Another part of the new test will be taking orders from a Sat-Nav - I hope all Driving Instructors choose the Brian Blessed voice for their Sat-Navs.  It would be nice if the Sat-Nav could also include an instruction to turn on to a railway line to weed out the drivers who would just blindly follow it anyway.
There's no actual evidence that these unfortunate ladies suffered a Sat-Nav misdirection so I'll take you back to 2011, when my Blog was still young, for a few.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Racing Home

Monaco-style Grands Prix events could be hosted on English roads under new laws coming into force on Monday.

So says the BBC.

Well that sounds good.

Apparently, a spokesman for London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: "In considering whether to support a Grand Prix in London, the mayor would need to see what the impacts are on air pollution."

Sounds too PC to me.

Certainly too PC for a GP.

He then went on to say that the mayor was in discussion with Formula E over whether a race involving environmentally friendly electric-powered cars could be held on London's streets.

Maybe the mayor doesn't know that Formula E races have already been held in London - albeit not on the roads.

The article is a bit confusing as it uses cycling as an example - "We had the Tour de France here, we had a Grand Depart in Yorkshire a couple of years ago and roads were closed as part of that event and thousands of people came to watch it."

OK.  But if that worked so well - what is so different about this coming Monday?

Anyway, in anticipation of Monday, I have devised my own GP circuit a walking distance from my house:
I believe that this will be particularly challenging for Lewis Hamilton and his chums because it contains a nice Monaco-style Bus-Stop chicane plus a hump-back bridge and a level crossing meaning that every quarter of an hour or so, the cars will have to wait for some trains to pass.

Bernie would be turning in his grave if he were dead.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Fools Seldom Differ

It's been April Fools Day today.

The Express decided to make up a story about how the EU want us all to swap out EU Registration Plates after Brexit for "safety reasons".
Incidentally, I've always wondered about the Irish system like this example - I mean if you saw a car with this registration, how could you tell if it was built in 2005 or 1905?  Daft eh?

It was probably just an excuse for the violently pro-Brexit "paper" to spout a bit more anti-EU propaganda to its readers who happily lap it all up.

And they did - as reported in The Independent's Indy 100:
And, apart from the guy who only has two short words to say, NONE OF THE COMMENTER'S CAN SPELL.

I'm afraid it's a sad indictment on the world we live in today.  It sort of explains Brexit and Trump that there are lots of gullible people out there who would rather just take in the bile espoused by the Express, The Sun and, the worst of them all, The Mail rather than do a bit of simple research and look for the truth.

Meanwhile, on a completely unrelated note, Lotus announced their new range of crash helmets for cats today:

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

It's a Good Job Rose Royce Are American

Otherwise we could have the Rose Royce Rolls-Royce.

And that would be silly.

But would allow for a car wash joke.

Instead we have the Shirley Bassey Rolls-Royce, the Roger Daltrey Rolls-Royce and the Ronnie Wood Rolls-Royce.

Plus six more.

Autocar have the story today of how a series of Wraiths have been commissioned to celebrate nine British music icons.  They claim to have collaborated with them and the resulting cars will be sold off for charities nominated by the stars.

Given that a Wraith goes for about a quarter of a million pounds, I'm not sure how the funding of this is happening - maybe it's worth it for the publicity for owners BMW.

Here's The Daltrey one - it looks like it's got a concave bonnet:
But it hasn't.

I'm not sure how they've collaborated with Sir George Martin (who is one of the celebratees - if that's a word) given that he died about a year ago.

Ray Davies of The Kinks has one too but that leaves four unaccounted for.

David Bowie and George Michael would be obvious choices but again, difficult to collaborate with now.

Also, all of the other musicians are all getting on a bit so maybe Elton John would be too young for consideration too.

Which just leaves Cliff Richard who wouldn't want a Wraith as he was always associated with Shadows.

There's Paul McCartney of course.

Or they could do one in memory of his writing partner:
Perhaps not.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Not über Intelligent

Or even über artificial intelligent.

This BBC story tells of how Uber has pulled its self-driving cars from the roads after an accident which left one of the vehicles on its side on Arizona.

Looks nasty:
The car itself looks nice though - it must really pay to be an Uber Driver if they can afford new Volvo SUVs - especially with self-driving technology.

Uber have stated that the car was in self-driving mode at the time.

The allegation in this case is that another driver "failed to yield".

Which is why I don't like the idea of self-driving cars.  Most drivers rate themselves as having above-average driving skills.  This is actually impossible but even the best driver in the world cannot do anything if someone else acts unexpectedly and hits them.  The way things stand at the moment - self-driving cars still need someone behind the wheel to take over in the case of an emergency.  In which case that person has to be fully alert at all times to what is going on around them - I know I would want to be!  But that completely negates the point of a self-driving vehicle.

I'm quite concerned in this case as to how the car ended up on its side - was it travelling too fast?  - did it clip the kerb? - did the driver panic when the other car was suddenly in its path?

We know SUVs tend to topple a lot easier than normal cars but even so.

Is this what is known as doing a bit of taxi driving on the side?

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Edd's Gone!!!

And I don't mean Edd The Duck.    

No, I mean the only other "Ed" who spells his name with two D's - Edd China:
I was going to do a posting today about Sunday's Top Gear - I had a couple of ideas and was definitely going to mention my favourite quote of the show:

"The Suspects are Joey from Friends and a bald guy in a bad suit."

or maybe I was going to complain about them dissing the Dolomite Sprint...

...which led into Rory Reid driving the most famous car on TV (if you watch car shows) - a Mark I Golf GTi carrying Reg. number A651FEJ:

Here's Jeremy with it:
and here it is on Car SOS:
This may well be it again but I'm not going to find the episode in the second series of Wheeler Dealers - Trading Up to find out:
It's not appeared on For The Love of Cars yet though.

And here we arrive at the big news story of today:

Discovery today announced established automotive expert Ant Anstead is the new co-host and master mechanic on the global hit series WHEELER DEALERS. After 13 seasons, longtime co-host and lead mechanic Edd China has decided to leave the series to pursue other projects. WHEELER DEALERS will continue for a season 14 later this year with current co-host Mike Brewer who will now be joined by Anstead. Ant Anstead is the former host of the Channel 4 series “For The Love Of Cars”


Or I could have gone with...

"Opel cleared of diesel emissions cheating by French authorities" Autocar story today which comes just after it was announced that Opel was to become part of the PSA Group which is part-owned by the French authorities.

No - the Edd news is much bigger.  A bit like him.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Seems a Bit Harsh on Warwick Davis

According to the BBC, car-buyers who are small will pay more for Road Tax.

The headline clearly states, "Vehicle Excise Duty: Small car buyers face higher costs"

Now I'm a big fan of Warwick Davis - I'm not into Star Wars so I don't think of him as an Ewok but I loved the spoof documentary he starred in, "Life's Too Short" - there's a brilliant bit where he confounds a psychic by not knowing anyone whose name begins with "J" although this is my all time favourite clip of the show (warning - don't watch this if you're a bit straight-laced)

He's also appeared on Top Gear:
But, of course, I'm being mischievous (pronounced mischievious).

The article is about buyers of small cars - not car-buyers who happen to be small. Basically, anyone who buys a smaller, more efficient new car after April 1st will be worse off (in terms of percentage paid for Road Tax) than those who buy bigger, less efficient cars after that date.  There will also be some hefty initial charges on purchase.

And yes, I do know that there is no such thing as "Road Tax" - it is called "Vehicle Excise Duty" (VED) and is a general charge supplementing Government coffers based on pollution etc.  It never went to pay for upkeep of the roads - although that is one good thing coming out of these changes - money will go back into tarmac.

It is a very complicated system that is being introduced now, read the article if you want to learn more but, fortunately, any car registered up to that date (including mine) will still go by the older only slightly complicated rules.

This will have an impact down the line of cars registered before that date probably being worth more than those after.  Dealerships will probably pre-register a load of vehicles for this very reason.

Chaos will ensue.

What do you think, Warwick?

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Cool As FXXK

The Arctic Circle is pretty cool.

Or downright freezing.

And that is where they are testing the next iteration of the Black Cab.
Why? - I hear you ask.

Why? - I also hear BBC Transport correspondent Richard Westcott ask.

But he doesn't actually answer the question in that video.

Although he does in this article.

There are two reasons apparently:
  • the manufacturer tests all new vehicles in extreme temperatures to see how they perform.
  • it wants to sell it in polluted cities all over the world, including Moscow, which can get a little chilly in the winter.
This cab won't contribute to the pollution due to it being electric - with a little range-extender to keep it going.

Anyway, black cabs in cold places brings us, rather neatly, round to the new series of Top Gear:
and Rory Reid driving a black cab, in minus temperatures, with no heating, in Kazakhstan.

Chris Harris got to drive a Ferrari FXXK at Daytona
and boy did he enjoy it.

But, if only 40 were built, why did his have a number 54 on the side?

And nobody mentioned Chris Evans.

I thought they could have had a light-hearted dig like The Grand Tour boys did.  Chris himself mentioned how the newspapers said it was "better without the annoying one".

There was a mention in Extra Gear about the orginal test track being back with "all tarmac" but nothing was said about Mr.Evans.  There was a noticeable cheer from the studio audience when it was announced that the original track was back.

I agree with the studio audience and, much as I do like Chris Evans, I agree with the newspapers that it was "better without the annoying one".

Or maybe just a little cooler.