Friday, December 30, 2005

RIP Keith Duckworth (1933-2005)

Keith Duckworth OBE, who founded Cosworth Engineering with Mike Costin, and a man of gigantic importance to motoring and motor sports, died on Decemember 18, 2005.

Cosworth were responsible for some highly significant developments in motoring history.

This includes ome of the most important engines in motorsport, especially the family that included the legendary the DFV that formed the backbone of "DIY" Formula One racing for some 15 years. The DFV won its first race in 1968 and was still winning races in 1983! In fact, an evolution of the DFV, the DFR, won the 1989 Japanese GP and was still used in GP racing into 1992!

Cosworth had a long association with the Ford Motor Company that led to the development of:
Cosworth was also involved in the development of engines for General Motor's
Cosworth was also responsible for the engine in the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16. Note that this means Cosworth was responsible for the two distinctly different engines in two cars that competed with each other both on the road and the track, the Ford Sierra Cosworth and the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16. Both are legendary vehicles of that period, noted for their then monstrous ability on the road and their constant on-track skirmishes for podium positions.

The memorial web site is here.

F1 Threatens the Lives of Some Motor Racing Circuits has a short piece about how the cost of hosting Formula 1 meetings may be too much for some circuits/countries to bear.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Benz Bahn-Burning Beastie Mit Der Bulges to Blast into Battered Motor City

It already stomped all over Chicago. Now, as the US Big Three continue to reel under the onslaught of the increasingly Godzilla-like might of Toyota et al from the Land of the Rising Sun and the combined power of the UAW's and CAW's self-defeating labour agreements, DaimlerChrysler is preparing its killer app for Detroit - the Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG.

The S65 AMG. When you absolutely, positively need a 604-horsepower, 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V12 engine (that only ten people in the world are certified to build) with a tooth-loosening 738 lb-ft of torque to get your 2155 kg bahn-bubbler from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and on to an electronically-limited 155 mph.

You may have heard the phrase "like a bodybuilder in a suit"? This is more like "200kg cage-fighting Gracie-style champion in a suit."

The S65 - when you've tired of having sand kicked in your S55 face. There's more coverage at Autoblog, coverage of the Chicago appearance is here and there's a Chicago photo gallery here.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Atari Heats Up The Streets With Details On Driver: Parallel Lines

Premiere Hollywood-Style Action-Driving Franchise to Feature Dual Eras and Revenge Tale

NEW YORK, Dec. 22 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Atari, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATAR) today revealed further details on the storyline behind Driver: Parallel Lines,the upcoming Hollywood-style action driving game. Driver: Parallel Lines is the next installment of Atari's legendary action driving franchise.

Currently in development by award-winning studio Reflections Interactive,
Driver: Parallel Lines is set for release this Spring for PlayStation(R)2
computer entertainment system and the Xbox(R) video game and entertainment system from Microsoft. Driver: Parallel Lines offers an open, fast-paced driving action-movie experience and features an unfolding storyline of double crossing and revenge.

"While returning to its roots with adrenaline-pumping Hollywood-style car
chases and unprecedented vehicle dynamics and physics, Driver: Parallel Lines
will offer fans a whole new intriguing storyline that is full of twists and
surprises," said Gareth Edmondson, Studio Manager, Reflections Interactive.

The first half of Driver: Parallel Lines is set in New York City during
the 1970s and centers on TK, an 18 year-old driving prodigy seeking fortune
and fame. Gifted, popular and arrogant as hell, TK is one of the best
drivers-for-hire in town and is known by everyone - from the pimped-out street
hustlers, petty criminals, and racer boys to the shadowy crime figures that
pay for his skills at the wheel.

TK gets involved with a scheming group bent on taking down one of the
biggest names in the underground crime scene. With TK as the getaway driver
and the crew as back up, nothing could possibly go wrong. However, in a
matter of moments, TK's life dramatically changes. No longer is he a
free-wheeling hotshot. Instead he has been double crossed and ultimately is
imprisoned for 28 years.

Fast forward to 2006 where the action kicks back in, and TK is older,
meaner, and hell bent on settling some serious scores. TK needs to call on
every driving trick in his considerable repertoire to tame the over-powered
road machines that 2006 presents him. After twenty-plus years in jail, it's
time to hit the streets once again.

Driver: Parallel Lines tempts gamers to modify and juice up cars while
engaging in the most thrilling Hollywood-style car chases ever. Driver:
Parallel Lines provides a free roaming, stylized New York City. With over 35
diverse missions that load without wait times, incredibly realistic driving
physics, and a brand new story, Driver: Parallel Lines will be a must-have
title for action driving fans.

Thai Drivers Increasingly Interest in Vehicle Comfort and Convenience

J.D. Power Asia Pacific Reports:
Comfort and Convenience Increasingly Impact Overall Customer Satisfaction with New Vehicles in Thailand

Honda City and Toyota Corolla Altis Rank Highest in Customer APEAL in Their Respective Segments, While Toyota Hilux Vigo Leads All Three Pickup Segments

SINGAPORE: 22 December 2005 — New-vehicle comfort and convenience increasingly impact overall ownership satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2005 Thailand Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) StudySM released today.

The annual study, now in its third year, measures owner delight with the design, features, layout and performance of their new vehicles. Eight performance categories contribute to overall APEAL scores: engine/ transmission; cockpit/ instrument panel; ride/ handling/ braking; heating/ ventilation/ cooling (HVAC); comfort/ convenience; sound system; seats; and vehicle styling/ exterior.

While new-vehicle buyers continue to see vehicle styling/ exterior and engine/ transmission performance as most vital to their overall assessment of vehicle APEAL, the study also finds customers are increasingly differentiating based on comfort and convenience.

"It has become increasingly necessary for vehicles to offer high levels of comfort and convenience in order for brands and models to distinguish themselves in the highly competitive market," said Steven Kaiser, senior country manager at J.D. Power Asia Pacific. "This is reflected in the performances of all five segment-leading models. Each also achieves best-in-segment scores for new-vehicle comfort and convenience."

Honda City receives 843 index points on a 1,000-point scale to rank highest in the entry midsize car segment for a second consecutive year. The City leads the segment on cockpit/ instrument panel, comfort/ convenience, and seats. The City is followed by Honda Jazz (840) and Toyota Vios (836), respectively.

Toyota Corolla Altis ranks highest in the midsize car segment with 868 points, a function of its segment-leading performance in five of eight APEAL categories. Chevrolet Optra (862) follows the Corolla Altis, leading the segment in ride/ handling/ braking, seats and vehicle styling/ exterior. Nissan Sunny Neo (854) rounds out the top three models in the segment.

Toyota Hilux Vigo sweeps all pickup segment rankings: single cab, extended cab and double cab. Each Hilux Vigo model also receives segment-leading evaluations in engine/ transmission, cockpit/ instrument panel and comfort/ convenience.

In the single cab pickup segment, Toyota Hilux Vigo (861) receives the segment’s highest scores in four of eight APEAL categories. Nissan Frontier (855) and Isuzu D-Max Spark (835), respectively, follow the Hilux Vigo.

In the extended cab segment, which is the largest pickup segment in terms of number of models and sales, Toyota Hilux Vigo (882) receives the highest ratings in five of eight APEAL categories. The Hilux Vigo is followed by Isuzu D-Max Hi-Lander (880) and Ford Ranger (868), respectively.

Among double cab pickups, Toyota Hilux Vigo (869) receives segment-leading ratings in seven of eight APEAL categories. Following in the double cab rankings are two Isuzu pickups: D-Max Cab-4 (858) and D-Max Hi-Lander (855), respectively.

The study finds a strong relationship between vehicle APEAL and customer loyalty. Among customers who give their vehicles APEAL ratings above the industry average, almost one-half say they definitely would purchase another vehicle of the same make. This number falls to less than three in 10 among those who rate their vehicles below the industry average.

The 2005 Thailand Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) StudySM is based on evaluations from 3,233 new-vehicle owners who purchased their vehicles between January and July 2005. The 2005 study includes 41 different passenger car, pickup truck and utility vehicle models covering 10 different makes.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Fabulous old film with classic Alfa Romeo and Citroen

This is a truly groovy cinema experience. It contains all the essential elements: sixties grooviness, windy coastal road, Citroen, Alfa Romeo Giulia police saloon, car chase, outrageous driving, embedded streaming video....

Brabus Unimog U 500 Black Edition

Peep dis, yo.

Classic Driver calls it "King of the Jungle".

Autoblog thinks "Perhaps only someone the likes of Lara Croft could appreciate the combination of pants-peeing intimidation and black-tie affair elegance..."

I have no idea what the German publication auto motor und sport is saying about this little beastie, recently unveiled at (where else?) the Dubai Motor Show.

Apart from the various shouts of "oh my!", "It's so big and so black!" and..."Is that an Implement Carrier in your pocket or are you just glad you can afford an "ego booster" like this?", they're all probably saying the same thing. DaimlerChrysler/Mercedes-Benz/Unimog/insert execution of corporate professional mutifaceted applications here have just announced this special version of the Unimog

All the usual suspects are there.

Price? Check! (some 275 thou US, yo)

Size? Check! (kind of in the way an NBA player is big - BIG 'n' TALL)

Ridiculously stupid? Check! (stupidly ridiculous)

Overkill button engaged? Check!

Look for it in a rap video near you soon. No doubt by then it will have the de rigeur gold '78 Caddy grille installed, the hydraulics, the UV lighting, the slammin sound system and, most importantly, the 30-inch chrome spinners, namsayin?

Monday, December 19, 2005

He Flew the Wimbi Dira DC-9 in Company B....

I can think of few things that sound as unlikely to get insurance coverage as travelling...

in DR Congo...

on a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32...

flown by an airline called Wimbi Dira Airways.

But maybe that's just pernickety l'il ole me?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Lamborghini Pic

Not to be completely outdone by the Ferrari Enzo, Lamborghini spread themselves around several places on several floors of Siam Paragon. I found this cuddly duo of Murcielago and Gallardo nestling together, artfully posed in front of a pair of brand new, unused elevators. Thanks to flickr for the image hosting.

Ferrari Enzo Pix

Just like it says on the box, and as promised, here is a fresh photo of the shiny red Ferrari Enzo on display at the shiny not red Siam Paragon shopping centre in Bangkok, Thailand. Thanks to flickr for the image hosting and there are five more photos of this shiny red expensive very fast thing.

Friday, December 16, 2005

One of the stupidest vehicles. EVAH.

Hummer H2. Is your dick really so small that you MUST DRIVE AN H2?

Anyway, yours truly here has an Hummer H2 sales brochure in English AND THAI in his filthy mitts. It sez here,

"You might be amazed at the headroom and shoulder room as well."

Is that so, Digweed? Well, let me just state for the record that yes, I might be amazed at the headroom and shoulder room. Let's see. The H2 is over 2 metres wide, almost 2 metres high and over 5 metres long. So, yeah, if it can comfortably seat 4 NBA players across, I MIGHT be amazed.

I dunno, I might giveaway this brochure. It's glossy, it's new, and did I mention it's in Thai? Brochure collectors, how many of you have one of these babies in your collection? Should I hold a hysterically fantastic giveaway?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Uh, this is not original and the idea was never, uh, smart. It's grotesque. No, I don't care about the car. Wanton destruction is already lamentable enough but this is stupid.

Yeah, I know the poor guy just needs to raise some money but some people just need to eat, ya know? Once a week would be nice. Twice a week would, like, totally rock.

Maybe the poor, oppressed hordes of the world can have a go at something like

Hot Cars and Cool Shopping in Bangkok

If you happen to be in Bangkok between December 10 of this year and January 6 of next, and you're into supercars, head on over to the recently-opened (today, actually) Siam Paragon shopping centre.

There are already a Lamborghini Gallardo and a Porsche 911 on static display. From December 10, 2005 to January 6, 2006, you'll be able to feast your eyes on a Ferrari Enzo, Bentley Arnage and Lambos Murcielago and Gallardo Spyder.

The brochure I have says the Murcielago is on show December 10-13 and the Gallardo Spyder from December 14 to January 5.

In other news, they also have a Jaguar S-Type. A good friend who, get this, is actually paid a salary for driving cars and writing about them, said the S-Type is a blast around the Welsh hills. I wouldn't know. Nobody's given me one to try, hills or no.

I spied the new Maserati Quattroporte and the MINI Cooper but, well, how do I say this? Oh yeah, yaawwwnn. The Porsche Boxster is slated to appear somewhere in the vast new retail experience at some point.

Allegedly, Hummers H2 and H3 as well as Ferrari 575 Maranello are also on display but I missed them. It could have something to do with Siam Paragon feeling about as easy to negotiate as JFK airport during a Christmas holidays blizzard.

Don't laugh, it's so damn cold in "The Pride of Bangkok" that I was waiting for it to snow. Hell, I'm Canuckistani and I thought it was freezing at Siam Paragon today. My friend did, too. He's from the Great White North, too. Who knows, Siam Paragon might be the first shopping centre in Bangkok where the cinemas are actually warmer than the shopping centre.

Which suits me on accounta I'm goin pimp myself to da nines, grab ma bitches, ma bling and ma fur coat and order me an Arnage on chrome 20s and an H2 on 28s, namsayin?

This pimp-rollin mack gots a l'il sumpin sumpin going on, yo.

Y'all kin take tha kid out of Detroit but you can't take Detroit out of tha kid. Innit? Or Innuinnit.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Big Bam Boogie On Yer Bike

Well, not quite, unfortunately. This cooler'n heck helmet from Bogner is mostly cool cuz it's for downhill skiers. But it looks damn hot, too. Whoops, sorry if my metaphors are starting to go a bit off-piste.

Anyway, I think a motorcycle helmet in the same style would really standout from the crowd. Too bad bamboo probably won't get BS certification, or whatever the relevent international, euro or UK requirements are. Costs something like 500 of your European Euros.

New Lexus IS 500 super coupe looks set to stun

Wowee. Toyota is to build a coupe version of the Lexus IS saloon with, amongst other things, a 300-bhp, 4.3-litre V8. Should be fun. I can't wait to get one for my Playstation....

Monday, December 05, 2005

Cars embedded in my brain at the moment....

A Nissan 240K GT post mopar transplant.

Apparently, the fastest production car in America starts at $654,500 and stops (accelerating) at between 260 and 273 mph.

I still think the coolest car, EVAH, was the Mitsubishi Minica Dangan ZZR, not least because of that totally rad name, dude.

The Dangan ZZR had circa 660cc, 4wd, 5 valve per cylinder, turbocharging and
intercooling to pull/push a car slightly taller, narrower than and about the same length as a Mini. No, not a MINI, ya doof. That's as wide, wing-mirror to wing-mirror as the "new" Beetle. I recall the Dangan ZZR had something in the region of 64bhp or so.

Unfortunately, none of this class of car were officially available in the west although Mitsubishi brought one to the UK which did the rounds of the
car magazines and succeeded in getting a big thumbs-up from great rally driver Pentti Airikkala. He rated the car as the most fun he had ever driven, which is saying something as he is used to considerably faster machinery and is probably larger than the car

I had a flatmate at the time who worked in Tokyo and remember his impression of one of these little rockets going past: "squeal!! whizz!! whoosh!! bang!! screech!! flutter!! whoosh!! squeal!! whizz!! etc...".

The other Japanese makers all produced similar types of machinery at the time. You can read more by following the Kei Jidosha links.

All gearheads should remember the Honda N and S 600 and 800 coupes and roadsters of the 60s. These were basically motorcycle-engined little monsters that revved to 8000+, produced loads of power but couldn't stop (very poor brakes).

A load of horns.

Best muscle car ever - 1970 Camaro RS/SS?

Bocars are cool.

Any car in which the transmission bolts directly to the rear axle is ok in my book. Cheetahs are cooler AND they make Cobras look sane by comparison.