If the shapes and angles of the Maserati Boomerang are anything to go by, then designer Giorgetto Giugiaro was probably more suited to origami. Mind you, he did go on to design the VW Golf, which has to be a plus in anyones language. But getting back to the Boomerang, pardon the pun, it was all part of that wedge-shaped supercar look of the 1970s, the epitome of outrageous automotive style. Whilst the likes of the Lamborghini Countach, the Lotus Esprit, and [ read more ]
The fourth of July 4 is certainly something to celebrate in the good ole US of A and on other side of the Atlantic, where an Italian carmaker is also claiming it as a red letter day, albeit a one-off. And the reason? The Fiat 500! Apparently, the little gem and ‘symbol of mass motorisation in Italy’ was introduced on this day in 1957. So how do you celebrate such an occasion? With the launch of a new [ read more ]
FRIDAY, 3 JULY: In this issue: The first Lotus Evora 400 has rolled off the assembly line and is celebrated in ‘tradition’ style at Hethel, Burson Auto Parts continues to expand and Volvo come up with a new concept in child safety seats....It is rumoured that each time the first of a new model Lotus rolls off the production line in the small hamlet of Hethel in the UK, a select group of management, manufacturing and engineering staff dress up [ read more ]
If the shapes and angles of the Maserati Boomerang are anything to go by, then designer Giorgetto Giugiaro was probably more suited to origami. Mind you, he did go on to design the VW Golf, which has to be a plus in anyones language. But getting back to the Boomerang, pardon the pun, it was all part of that wedge-shaped supercar look of the 1970s, the epitome of outrageous automotive style. Whilst the likes of the Lamborghini Countach, the Lotus Esprit, and the BMW M1 were the on-road embodiment of this ethos, the Maserati Boomerang concept car that preceded them took this style to the limit. Now, more than 40 years after it made its first appearance, this one-off automotive icon will be offered for sale by auction.
It was originally shown at the 1971 Turin motor show as a static display vehicle but huge public interest meant that by the following year’s Geneva motor show the Boomerang had been turned into a fully-operational road car and a rolling advertising machine for Maserati. Powered by a mid-mounted 310bhp (230kW) 4.7-litre V8 driving the rear wheels through a five-speed gearbox, many of its components came from its production model sibling, the Maserati Bora.
Unlike the Bora, however, the Boomerang sported an outrageously raked windscreen, in front of a ‘glasshouse’ passenger cabin replete with a huge sunroof and doors that were mostly made of glass. There was a custom interior and a clever steering wheel arrangement that encompassed the gauges and switchgear in a circular dashboard straight in front of the driver….much like the new Fiat 500 in our previous story.
The influence of the Boomerang’s design can be seen in the work of many other of Giugiaro’s contemporaries, but it also continued to influence the man himself in his later works. It is particularly obvious in the Lotus Esprit, where the wedge-shape theme, vast, steeply-raked windscreen, and sharp edges epitomised his style and the MK1 VW Golf, which is arguably one of Giugiaro’s most successful designs.
According to Philip Kantor, who will bring down the hammer at Bonham’s, the Boomerang is considered by many to be one of the most remarkable designs of the 20th century: “The car has been shown at many world-class events including exhibitions and concours d’élégance such as Villa d’Este and Pebble Beach. It is a fully-registered road car and was shown at dozens of venues before being sold to a private buyer after the 1974 Barcelona Motor Show.”
Since then, the vehicle has appeared at the Bagatelle Concours in Paris in 1990, the 1993 Concours Italiana, in Carmel California and Pebble Beach. In 2000 it was displayed at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races and in 2005 it was once more sold by auction for $US1,007,005, a figure that is expected to at least treble at the Chateau de Chantilly auction on 5th September.
The fourth of July 4 is certainly something to celebrate in the good ole US of A and on other side of the Atlantic, where an Italian carmaker is also claiming it as a red letter day, albeit a one-off. And the reason? The Fiat 500! Apparently, the little gem and ‘symbol of mass motorisation in Italy’ was introduced on this day in 1957. So how do you celebrate such an occasion? With the launch of a new model, stupid! Hence, news from Turin of a brand new Fiat 500.
According to the manufacturer, ‘an important element of the appeal of the 500 has always been its compact shape’, which is a much better way saying a matchbox on wheels. Available in hatchback and convertible…now they’re really cute…all models have LED daytime running lights, seven airbags, an Uconnect infotainment system with six speakers, aux-in/USB ports and steering wheel remote controls as standard equipment.
There are several key detail changes, noticeable the front headlights and rear light clusters, revised colour palette and revamped dashboard. The front light cluster integrates the dipped-beam headlamps and turn signals and uses polyellptical modules that are said to improved night vision. The lower light cluster integrates the main beam headlights and LED daytime running lights, which adopt the circular profile of the lamp to reproduce the zeroes of 500.
At the rear of the vehicle, the new, exclusive, ’empty’ light clusters are made up of a ring-shaped structure with body-coloured centres from which light appears to emanate from the bodywork like an illuminated tattoo. The rear fog light and reversing light are relocated to the edges of the redesigned bumper trim, finished either in black or chrome depending on model.
As you’d expect if you’re a fan of the 500, the large chrome grab handle is reminiscent of the number-plate light of the original Fiat 500. Alloys area available in 15 and 16-inch, with a variety of finishes including an elegant diamond-cut design and there are 13 different colour hues including seven pastels, one solid and five metallic to choose from.
The steering wheel features new remote control buttons which are said to be easier to operate and thanks to their chrome-plated edging and high-quality materials, more pleasant to touch and to behold. The circular instrument cluster, with analogue dials for speed and engine revs and digital secondary gauges, is retained for Pop models. Thanks to a seven-inch TFT display, a driver can at a glance monitor data from the speedometer, odometer and trip computer simultaneously while the central section of the display can be configured to show distance travelled, fuel consumption, range, trip time, etc.
FRIDAY, 3 JULY: In this issue: The first Lotus Evora 400 has rolled off the assembly line and is celebrated in ‘tradition’ style at Hethel, Burson Auto Parts continues to expand and Volvo come up with a new concept in child safety seats….It is rumoured that each time the first of a new model Lotus rolls off the production line in the small hamlet of Hethel in the UK, a select group of management, manufacturing and engineering staff dress up as druids and gather at a remote site near the former RAF Hethel runway that now serves as the company’s test track, to reenact an ancient local tradition of drinking wine made from lotus berries. Such action usually results in a period of forgetfulness and a dreamy state, somewhat similar to smoking pot, so the ‘secret event’ is usually held on a Friday night giving participants lots of time to return to earth for the ‘official’ event – pictured above – attended by arch druid Jean-Marc Gales, who pronounced the arrival of the first Evora 400 as a key milestone, none of which would be possible without the confidence and commitment of our workforce who, with great skill and talent, hand build every Lotus car at Hethel.
The new Evora 400 laps the airfield in a one minute thirty-two seconds, six seconds faster than the previous Evora S. Maximum speed is 300 km/h with an acceleration of 0-100km/h in 4.2 seconds. Over two thirds of the unit is new, including a supercharged and charge-cooled, mid-mounted, 3.5-litre V6 engine producing 400hp and 410Nm of torque. A new aluminium chassis incorporates a new interior and the lightweight composite body has changed significantly both front and rear.
Burson Auto Parts has at long last found its way across the Nullabor to open three new stores in the Perth suburbs of Belmont and Osborne Park and a 1200sq/m super-store at Malaga that carries more than twice the normal range of parts, tools and equipment. Meanwhile, the company’s national expansion plan continues unabaited in Queensland with the rebranding of a former Cheapa Auto Spares outlet in the Brisbane suburb of Currumbin, a new stores at Beenleigh and Rockhampton. Other new stores include Murray Bridge (SA), Orange and Wollongong (NSW).
Volvo has followed up its XC90 Excellence lounge console concept, launched at the Shanghai motor show, with what the company says is an innovative way of looking at child safety. The idea originated from a conversation with a Volvo owner, who after reviewing the lounge console concept, asked how the space left by removing a front passenger seat could be used.
As a result, the Volvo design team came up with the idea of making life easier for parents and safer for children. The process would need to focus on making it making it easier to get the child into and out of the child seat from an ergonomic and comfort perspective, provide the child with a safe rear- facing seating position that enabled it to keep eye-contact with either the driver or the rear passenger and including enough storage for vital accessories, such as nappies, bottles, wipes, etc…and a seat in the boot for the nanny!
The resulting concept is a swivel seat that can be locked in rear-facing position yet still allow the child to maintain eye contact with a passenger or the driver. The concept also provides storage for small items beside the seat and a space underneath for storing larger items such as nappies, blankets, etc, and room for a tote bag under the dashboard. The Excellence child seat concept has a function to help small children safely lean back and sleep that is based on Volvo’s conviction that small children, up to the age of three or four, should travel rear-facing due to the lack of muscular strength in the neck and the disproportionate head size and weight in relation to the body at that age.
According to design team head Tisha Johnson, safety, convenience, and emotional factors outweigh everything else: “Being able to maintain eye contact with your child from the rear seat, or being able to keep a bottle warm in the heated cup holders would go a long way towards making life easier for parents or guardians.
“We have been investigating the nature of progressive luxury for some time and we see a direct connection between luxury and emotional wellbeing. So we have taken the next step in redefining how the interior of a car can be used to suit our customers’ needs. We have always placed a great deal of importance on child safety, but this takes things to the next level.”
If you don’t know what the lounge concept entails take a look at this video…they’ll be questions (in Swedish) next week!
Renault claim that it was the first auto company to commit to sustainable transport through a labeling system that provided customers with an at-a-glance identification of the vehicles with lower CO2 emissions and fuel consumption. So, perhaps it’s no surprise that after twenty years, the automaker sees a need to upgrade the system that gives each Renault model an ECO2 label from which customers can identify the lowest CO2 emissions levels.
The criteria behind the new ECO2 label are tougher than those for the previous ECO2 label, which denoted all passenger car versions with CO2 emissions below 120 g/km, produced at plants certified to ISO 4001, recyclable to at least 85%, and (since 2011) with at least 7% of plastics sourced from recycled materials.
The new ECO2 label identifies the most fuel-efficient version of each Renault model, by type of fuel and transmission and from September, the label will also appear on the most energy-efficient versions of Renault cars already on the market worldwide. The following versions of existing Renault models will be getting the ECO2 badge:
The Clio Energy TCe 90 is sold in Australia as both the Authentique and Expression.
Cruising at speed down the highway with a heads-up display (HUD) constantly feeding data into your line of sight can make anyone feel like a jet pilot on the road, totally in control of your vehicle and primed to avert any potential danger that comes your way. Recent studies by the University of Toronto, however, show that the HUD multi-tasking method of vehicle piloting may well not provide the extra margin of safety that we think it does. In fact, according to the researchers, it could be downright dangerous.
With HUDs displaying digital images onto the inside of a windshield, drivers can be alerted about everything from a mundane incoming phone call to an imminent collision with a vehicle suddenly braking ahead. The trouble with this range of activity, say U of T academics in a recent study on driver reactions, is that the very nature of alerts for every occurrence is distracting. And, rather than being able to take in all of this information, drivers actually have to split their focus between watching the road and interpreting the cause of an alert.
According to professor Ian Spence, drivers need to divide their attention to deal with this added visual information: “Not only will drivers have to concentrate on what’s happening on the road around them as they’ve always done, they’ll also have to attend to whatever warning pops up on the windshield in front of them.”
To ascertain the effects of extraneous information in a driver’s line of sight, professor Spence and his team of students created two tests to measure the outcome. The first involved volunteers completing a number of computer-based tests in which they were required to say how many of a number of randomly organised spots were shown on a screen as quickly and accurately as they could.
Added to this, in some tests a black-outlined square arbitrarily appeared and the subjects were told to report whenever they saw this too. This secondary stimulus was shown at the same time as the spots, but did not appear in all of the trials. When recounting the results, the researchers realised that when only spots were displayed (without the box) the accuracy rate of spots detected was high among the participants.
If, however, the box was introduced when a small number of dots were on the screen, participants failed to notice the box around one in fifteen times on average. Adding more dots at the same time that the box appeared had a greater effect on this figure, increasing the miss rate to an average of one in ten times. Additionally, increasing the number of spots, regardless of whether the box made an appearance or not, also diminished the accuracy of the dot count.
These results led the team to believe that attending to a primary task is diminished proportionately to the number of secondary tasks presented to the participants. In the real world, this indicates that drivers may not be responding to multiple stimuli efficiently enough to distinguish between imminent danger and mere information prompts. In other words, drivers presented with multiple alerts vying for attention can lead to information overload.
“It would be necessary to distinguish, for example, between warnings of a collision and a recommendation to make a turn, otherwise competing warnings may be more dangerous than no warning at all,” said Ian.
For the second computer-based test, the researchers told the volunteers to identify shapes that appeared at random in another field of spots. This time, a triangle, a square, or a diamond were displayed at different times together with the spots, but unpredictably and without warning, just as would occur in real-life situations with HUDs warning of external dangers.
As had happened with the first experiments using large numbers of dots, the participants in the second set often failed to see the shape at all. They also frequently misidentified the shape and counting the number of spots became much more difficult when a shape suddenly appeared. Observers made both judgments more slowly when the shape appeared among the spots by as much as 200%. The two visual tasks interfered with each other and impaired both reaction speed and accuracy. Missed warnings and slowed reaction times present real threats to safety. Furthermore, this rivalry for the driver’s attention is most likely to occur when the driving environment is demanding.
Bit by bit, electric vehicles are becoming something of a ‘circuit breaker’ on racetracks around the world. Nissan led the way at Le Mans and now an eO PP03, from Latvian engineering firm Drive eO, has won this year’s Pikes Peak Hill Climb in what started out as unusually near perfect conditions. Driven by Pikes Peak regular Rhys Millen, it was not only the first electric car to win the prestigious race, but in the process of doing so set a new record for battery-powered cars of 9:07.222. Underlining the rise of electric machines, Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima drove his Rimac-engineered e-Runner up America’s Mountain in 9.32.401, to capture second place. But there’s still a hill to climb for the ‘sparkies’ to reach the incredible time of 8:13.878 set in 2013 by Sebastian Loeb’s combustion-engined Peugeot.
According to Drive eO’s owner Khristaps Dambis, the electric drivetrain has what it takes in terms of power output and can even achieve a superior power-to-weight ratio, but the problem is that the batteries make the car too heavy to match the nimbleness of Loeb’s (extremely) modified Peugeot 208. Khristaps is confident they will get there, but it may take a few years. The eO PP03 is powered by six electric motors and produces a peak output of 1368 horsepower and 1593 pound-feet of torque. Drive is to all four wheels and powering the motors is a massive 50-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, resulting in a total weight of 2645lbs, without the driver. Impressively, the run was completed with Millen’s PP03 racer not having full power throughout the 12.4-mile, 156-turn course.
More petrol power was produced by Paul Dallanbach, who not only demolished the open-wheel record with a 9:36.496 time, he did so in a battered looking, naturally aspirated, scoop-winged wonder that eclipsed the fire-breathing, BBI-built, Porche of Jeff Zwart in the Time Attack 1 class by over nine seconds. The fastest car in the Unlimited class, which has historically topped the time sheet, was Dominic Dobson in a Radical SR8 in 8th place overall with a time of 10:15.289.
Honda bikes had a huge presence on the mountain and its efforts have paid off with its CBR 1000 ridden by Jeffrey Tigert clocking the fastest time at 10:02.735, finishing just ahead of the unorthodox Ronin team that fielded a customer’s bike with Travis Newbold in the saddle, yet still managed a respectable 10:18.514.
As usual, Pikes Peak was a riot of characters, weather and cars. Where else can a petrolhead see a Freightliner compete against classic Mustangs, shiny Nissan GT-Rs and custom-built racecars. This year’s race was marred by the death of rider Carl Sorensen, who flew off the edge of a cliff near the summit during one of the practice sessions. In addition, a change in weather, just after lunch, brought stormy conditions that delayed the event and left so much hail at the summit that the finish line had to be moved down the mountain.
When it comes to sniffing out an opportunity to give the non-genuine parts industry a serve you’ve got to hand it to the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and their ‘trade union’ the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries. This time around, it’s insurance company data showing that there were 6000 vehicles in accidents over the recent Queen’s Birthday long weekend. And guess which insurance companies supplied the data? The data was compiled by Holden Insurance Services and Toyota Insurance, both of which offer good genuine parts policies.
Now there’s a surprise. And here’s another surprise. The 6000 vehicles is a huge improvement on last year when 8120 vehicles were involved in accidents over the same long weekend. Despite acknowledging this downturn, FCAI’s ‘Genuine is Best’ spokesman Tony Weber, is concerned that not all vehicles will be returned to the road in a safe condition…this is the hoary chestnut bit.
“It’s good to see there have been fewer vehicles involved in crashes compared with last year, but there’s still at least 6000 damaged vehicles suddenly in workshops around the country needing repairs. (not so, it is an increase, but there are thousands of accidents every weekend). We would expect all to be properly repaired, but the issue is some of these vehicles may be handed back with repairs that might not have been carried out correctly and with non-genuine parts fitted rather than genuine parts.”
And so would everyone else expect that their vehicle be repaired correctly but the coloration between repairs not being carried out correctly and non-genuine parts is in itself ‘non-genuine’. It doesn’t follow that a repair using genuine, rather than non-genuine, necessarily has a bearing on the overall quality of the repair. You can get a bad repair using genuine parts and a good repair using non-genuine parts. Unfortunately, the FCAI and the vehicle manufacturers just do not have any figures to show that the use of non-genuine parts results in an increase in accidents. More than anything the issue is about the carmakers being able to charge a premium on their ‘branded’ products, many of which have been developed and manufactured by companies that also turn out the same part in a different box as non-genuine and at a vastly cheaper price.
Nowadays, the insurer usually ‘steers’ a vehicle to a repairer in it preferred repair network and then specifies which type of parts are to be used in the repair. In the end, it comes down to two things: the type of insurance policy one has and the age of the vehicle. If a vehicle owner wants genuine parts then, he or she, has to be prepared to pay a premium for the privilege or the difference between the two products. The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries says that its ‘Genuine is Best’ website provides motorists with information on how to keep their vehicle safe using genuine parts. Once again this statement is also ‘non-genuine’. The information is about the fitting of highly priced, branded parts, not the overall safety of the vehicle.
On the website, most of the following steps are just not practical for someone who is not fully conversant with the collision repair industry. For example: Step 1 recommends getting a more expensive insurance policy specifying genuine parts; Step 2 recommends working out exactly what your insurer means by ‘genuine’, which in itself would require a law degree; Step 3 advises that you ask the repairer to show you the invoice itemising the parts used…best of luck identifying, for instance, where a new door shell came from, or any of the hundreds of parts pictured below; Step 4 says that you should always have your car repaired, or serviced, by a repairer approved by your car’s maker, but this depend on your policy and if you have one that gives you repairer of choice you will have to pay for the privilege; Step 5 advises that you ask that genuine parts be used in the repair and this again will rely on the answer to Step 4 as does Step 6 that you look for the genuine parts approved tick on the workshop wall.
The 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed, which runs from June 26-29, is one of the world’s finest motorsport events, with a hill climb competition combined with displays of modern and classic cars and bikes, plus unrivalled access to the drivers and riders that helped to make them famous. Below is Damon Hill reuniting with his 1996 F1 title-winning FW18.
Koenigsegg had a major presence at the event with three of its supercars, an Agera, a One:1 and the latest Regera, thrilling audiences at the British event. In this video we get a close look at the One:1 and the Regera models. The One:1 actually belongs to car club the BHP Project and was on loan to Koenigsegg, which put its official test driver Robert Serwanski behind the wheel during the 1341-supercar’s drive up the hill. As this was a customer car, Serwanski didn’t go all out but he still managed to scare a few VIPs invited to ride along in the passenger seat. As for the Regera, it was on display only since development of the 1500-horsepower hybrid supercar is ongoing. Koenigsegg is fine-tuning some of the electronic control systems ahead of a planned production start in 2016.
Get a look at a new Guinness world record for the fastest time over one mile on two wheels was set at 2 mins 10 secs. Smashing the previous record time at 2mins 45 secs.
Tesla has a lot on its plate at the moment with plans to launch the much delayed Model X all-electric SUV later this year, unveil a concept version of the Model 3 next year and keep the building of its massive lithium-ion cell gigafactory in Nevada on schedule. By all reports, the factory is ahead of schedule and is expected to be producing batteries by this time next year.
About 740 construction workers have been hired since work began and Tesla has already spent $140 million of the estimated $5 billion price tag. Within the next few months Panasonic will start sending several hundred employees to Nevada to prepare for the start of cell production with the electronics company planning to invest $478 million this fiscal year in the project.
Panasonic, which already supplies batteries for the Model S and owns a small stake in Tesla, will supply the equipment needed for cell fabrication and oversee the factory’s operation roughly half of which will be devoted to cell production with the other portion being occupied by suppliers and assembly lines for modules and battery packs for Tesla energy-storage venture. The majority of cells will be used in the 200-mile Tesla Model 3 electric car. Tesla is relying on the economies of scale of the huge factory to allow it to sell the Model 3 at a base price of $35,000.
Lamborghini has used the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK to announce a roadster version of the Aventador LP 750-4Superveloce that will accelerate from 0-100km/h in 2.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 325km/h. Only 500 units will be assembled at Sant’Agata Bolognese in Northern Italy so if you want to make up for having missed out on one of the 600 LP 750-4 vehicles, you’d better get over to your local dealership quick smart and put your name down. Good luck!