From Nietzsche to Exige S, a lonely journey but no price is too high to pay





The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” 

This quote, by Friedrich Nietzsche, has for me, somehow always summed up the struggle of Lotus and their owners to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe of good and not so good rivals.

For example, there is always something about being a Lotus owner that can be lonely and sometimes frightened…but to paraphrase the last bit of the quote: But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning one!”

So guys let’s get into the new Exige S Automatic! It’s a manual paddle-shift with a six-speed transmission that integrates smooth and intuitive gearshifts with engine response and exhaust note. So we’re off to a good start.

The Exige S Automatic provides its driver with all round engagement and excitement and reflects the Lotus DNA of pure driving experience…yes, they’re allowed to get a bit over the top…as we here at ausauto, or should I say me…just loves ‘em-even if I did once own a 1972 Lotus Elite.

It looked real cool and the performance could blow most cars off the road, but in doing so it usually blew itself up via a leaky radiator or some massively expensive electrical boil over. And Nietzsche’s lonely and sometimes frightened bit was certainly a reality when stuck on a Welsh mountain road, on a very dark night, with a car that had pop-up headlights that refused to pop-up.

But back to the Exige S Automatic, which is said by Lotus to be for drivers who enjoy a more spirited drive (and good eyesight in the dark) with the gearshift characteristics having been calibrated to reflect the dynamic system changes that are activated when the driver selects either ‘Sport’ or ‘Race’ mode.

According to Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales, optimised gear selection and response deliver quicker all-round performance when a sportier experience is desired.

“”By introducing a paddle-shift, we have expanded the Exige product range to make it more accessible to customers worldwide. Now, customers who are more accustomed to two pedals and automatic transmissions can enjoy the unbelievable performance and handling of the Exige S without compromise.”

The new Exige S Automatic is currently completing its final stages of testing and is anticipated to exceed the manual variant in performance when it goes on sale in January 2015. So there! Let’s have no more silly quotations from some ‘obscure’ philosopher deriding one of the loves of my life.

Out of the office

Doesn’t it really give you the you know what when you send an email to someone you really want to contact urgently and get that standard automated reply about being out of the office?

So to all our friends out there here’s your chance to give us heaps, because we are really OUT OF THE OFFICE. In fact, were down @ the National Automotive Museum in Birdwood, near Adelaide where we have the great honour of being part of a new library.

Well, it’s not use really, it’s all the memorabilia we built up over the years including every issue of nearly 40 years of Motor Equipment News, exhibitions, motoring events, etc.

So now you know why the blogs are not coming thick and fast…but I really promise to make it up to you all in about a WEEK!!!!!!



AADA questions what service and repair information is not available to independent repairers?

At last some common sense in the everlasting debate about the right of independent repairers to access repair and service information. The peak national body representing Australian motor vehicle dealers, the Australian Automotive Dealer Association is asking the question: What actual repair and service information is being withheld from independent repairers?

AADA is confident that independent repairers who genuinely wish to own vehicle repair information have complete access to the information needed to service and repair any vehicle on Australian roads. The simple fact is that information is available at a reasonable cost for all parties, independent or dealer, through a number of different delivery methods.

If it isn’t available then the independent repairers are totally misleading the public into believing they can service and repair cars, which is clearly not the case. Dealers also trade vehicles outside of the franchise brand that they sell and then have to buy the service and repair information just like the vast majority of independent repairers.

It is also a widespread practice within the industry for dealerships that supply parts…almost all of them… to the independents to almost always help out with information free of charge in order to maintain a lucrative part of their car sales business.

According to AADA’s Patrick Tessier, service and repair information is not withheld with service repair manuals having being sold through a dealership parts department for many years. “Comments from some who don’t service cars and others who think the information should be free are not living in the commercial environment that AADA members and most business people operate in.

“Internet based delivery methods are in place on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis at a cost. AADA estimates that $1200 per year is the average cost to obtain the most current data from the manufacturers.”

Patrick also claims that the VACC has offered to make their extensive repair information library available to all independent repairers in Australia with a small cost for non-VACC members.

So why is the VACC making such a big deal of free to repair on behalf of some of its members? We’ve not idea, so perhaps David and his crew could enlighten us.

“It’s therefore difficult to understand what repair information Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association or Australian Automobile Association wants, which is not readily available at a small cost, or provided as part of being a VACC member,” added Patrick.

What is not made available freely is some vehicle security information that interacts with the vehicle computerised control system. Some of this information is not made available to the dealers either. AADA says its supports limited access to this information because it would be irresponsible to freely make available this sensitive and private data. (Any professional auto repair worthy of the name knows how to get around this little hurdle).

The association also claims that motor dealers already work closely with independent repairers to ensure that consumers have genuine choice in their preferred service or repair supplier.

“AADA members throughout Australia assist many independent repairers who need support in servicing modern vehicles as many independent repairers buy their genuine parts from the dealer community.

“It is a complete nonsense to say that the OEM’s, vehicle manufacturers and dealers are withholding service and repair information from independent repairers. Often customers of dealerships are given access to a dealer purchased library where the independent repairer hasn’t invested in the full data available to them,” added Patrick.

AADA urges all parties to adopt the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) drafted code that has been developed to ensure that the service and repair of motor vehicles is carried out in a manner that best protects the consumer investment in their vehicle. This includes advising the customer where non-genuine parts are fitted.



Ford keep ‘best ever’ cars to last and Audi demonstrate ‘sheer innovation’ going around in circles



Phrases such as ‘best ever’ and ‘sheet innovation’ have made it a very good day for overhyped blurb from the automakers. But will, or do, the products live up to rhetoric? The first phrase belongs to Ford’s announcement that it’s kick off Job 1 production of the ‘best ever’ Falcon FG X and SZ Territory MkII that go on sale 1 December.

Stating what should be the bleeding obvious, Ford’s David Wilkinson says that Ford has a rigorous global quality process that Australia follows to ensure that both vehicles are built to the highest standards. And so it somehow has to follow that the new Falcon and Territory are “without a doubt, the best cars ever made here at Broadmeadows”.

Displaying a keen sense of the rhetorical he went on: “Years of design and development brings us to this point and the whole team have been laser-focused on bringing customers the best ever Falcon, and seeing them come off the production line, ready for owners, is a great moment for all of us here at Ford.”

So it’s no big surprise to learn that the Falcon FG X and SZ Territory MkII feature an array of world class, customer-focused, smart technologies such as ‘customer-assist’ parking sensors, rear camera, etc, and wait for it, twin antennas for improved audio quality.

There’s also an array of the usual things almost all manufacturer now claim such as lighter components, more powerful engines that use less fuel, less emissions, etc. So far it doesn’t sound that exciting but come December we could indeed see the best cars ever made at Broadmeadows, which is perhaps another way of saying that the company has left the best to the last!


And so onto the ‘sheer innovation’ bit! What could this be all about? Believe it, or not, it’s an Audi RS7 racing around the Hockenheim track without a driver. No, he didn’t fall out and the horse ran on without its jockey. It was, according to Audi, a demonstration of the sheer innovation of piloted driving…sort of what BMW, Merc and a host of others have been doing with trucks, buses and a variety of touched up ‘standard’ models for about the last decade.

Still in what seems like an era when auto engineering and design innovation  have reached the level of the standard wheelie bin, what better way to divert the punter’s attention than a good old waste of resources such as driverless cars?

However, there could be method in their madness. Just imagine the amount of junk one can add to in-car infotainment, if the so called drivers have nothing better to do than stare at a screen, listen to the radio and use the mobile phone?…so what’s new pussycat.


Award for outstanding service to vehicle safety systems



He’s said to have given outstanding service to the development of technologies for improving vehicle occupant protection, so it is perhaps fitting that the presentation of a BMW’s vehicle safety lifetime achievement award was the highlight of a recent conference.

The US accident researcher Professor Kennerly Digges operates out of Washington University and is credited with having laid the foundations for what are now internationally recognised crash test processes and state-of-the-art safety systems for vehicles.

Kennerly received the award at the annual conference of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM) held at BMW Welt in Munich. Making the presentation, Klaus Kompass, BMWs head of vehicle safety outlined the outstanding progress in the field of occupant protection that can be credited to Kennerly’s research work over the decades.


“Back in the 1970s and 80s, as a departmental director at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the USA, he played a major role in channelling the latest findings from accident research into statutory regulations governing the inclusion of active and passive safety technology in vehicles.

“Moreover, he was the initiator of the New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP), whose vehicle classification system based on crash tests and a star rating represents the vehicle safety standard in many countries today,” he said.

Professor Digges also put in place essential groundwork for the intelligent emergency call system that BMW now fits as standard in numerous models. In the event of an accident, the IEC system alerts emergency services and supplies them with precise coordinates of the incident. He also developed the algorithm underpinning the vehicle information analysis that provides information on the severity of a collision and the number of potentially injured occupants.

In 1997, BMW was the first carmaker to introduce an automatic emergency call feature in the USA and, two years later, in Europe. Since then the system has been improved to also provide emergency services additional information such as the direction in which the vehicle was travelling, the model and colour and all the data collected by the in-car sensors. Information on the deployment of the restraint systems gives the emergency services an indication of the number of potentially injuries to occupants of the BMW.

The AAAM annual conference included emergency service personnel, doctors, surgeons and medics from other specialist fields, safety engineers, accident researchers and automotive development engineers.


Nissan gets the chequered gong in climate change race



Whilst our illustrious leader keeps his head firmly buried in the comment for contributions to the party coal bucket, the rest of the world moves on with tackling the massive task of reducing climate-changing emissions. The Nissan Motor Company is the latest to gain brownie points by scoring, what it terms is ‘a perfect 100A’ in the CDP Global 500 Climate Change Report 2014, for the second year in succession.

The report rates companies on their eco-friendly corporate policies and transparent information disclosure about environmental performance. The “A” rating is in recognition of actions taken to reduce CO2 emissions in the vehicle manufacturing processes.

According to a company spokesperson, this achievement shows that Nissan’s efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its corporate activities through widespread power conservation have been effective.

“Energy procurement is being shifted toward more sustainable sources, like biomass and solar power. Last year, Nissan reduced CO2 emissions from global corporate activities while increasing vehicle production by 5.1%

“The two percent cut during the year has put the company on track to achieve its goal of a 20% reduction within the next two years to reach targets set under the Nissan Green Program,” he said.

The CDP was established in the UK in 2000, as an independent, not-for-profit, organisation and represents represents 767 investors with assets in excess of $92 trillion.

More info @

And now for something completely different…two more wheels!




We ended last week with a mega list of the most expensive motorcycles sold at auction, so, for no reason whatsoever, we’ll begin this week with a version for four-wheel freaks. Once again it comes courtesy of our mates at gizmag.

The sixties saw the emergence of a new star on the entertainment stage, the celebrity car. Society’s love affair with the automobile saw cars become movie and TV stars in their own right and many of those stars have since crossed the auction block for astonishing amounts of money.

One of the more interesting niches in the evolving collectibles investment market place is the point where traditional categories converge and movie cars are the point where two giant industries meet. Over the last decade, the rare automobile market has grown dramatically with heaps of evidence to show that investing in rare cars has outperformed all other investment forms over the period.

The movie collectibles marketplace is also huge, with theme parks, sports bars, posters, signed photographs, programs, clothes and props from film and television having now created an entire industry dedicated to the collection of artifacts from the movies and TV shows, which we associate so heavily with important points in our lives.

The term investments of passion was once a reference to indulgences for the wealthy, often being lumped together with yachts and car racing, but is quickly becoming the collective description for a range of sound financial investment strategies.

What’s more, these investments come with a killer kicker. While investment in stock and bonds and other financial instruments offers a set of numbers on a computer screen, those numbers take on a greater meaning if they are manifested in an object or collection of objects, which means something on an emotional level.

Objects can capture moments of significance in our lives, for multitudinous reasons. Marilyn Monroe’s famous dress, Ty Cobb’s bat, the real…well, almost…Maltese Falcon, or the gloves that Cassius Clay pulled on for the fight with Sonny Liston from which he emerged as Muhammed Ali, Islam convert and world champion.

There’s obviously something very special about seeing your car on the screen, because cars that have appeared in a movie tend to go for much more than the same car would if it hadn’t been associated with that movie.

So beloved by the baby boomer generation is Steve McQueen that the race suit he wore as Michael Delaney in Le Mans was sold at auction for an astonishing US$984,000, almost as much as the Porsche that he drove in the movie.

So beloved by the baby boomer generation is Steve McQueen that the race suit he wore as Michael Delaney in Le Mans was sold at auction for an astonishing US$984,000, almost as much as the Porsche that he drove in the movie.

If you’re really into all this stuff then now’s the time to CLICK over to gizmag and really get stuck in…’bye, for now!










If idiots were energy, it would be a source that would never run out. (Lewis Black)


My father-who really did know Lloyd George-was a great believer in democracy. He strongly supported the idea that even idiots should get a vote but was always depressed by how often they were over represented in the parliament. Nowadays, it would be more appropriate to substitute the phrase vested interests for the word idiot. Here in Australia, there are many who believe that both the word and the phrase accurately describe our current crop of politicians.

But why just pick on our lot? They’re all pretty much the same everywhere as this little item, from the home of the brave and the land of the free, in a recent Green Car Report posting shows.

Tesla Motors and its supporters have rallied numerous times against attacks on the electric car maker’s company-owned stores, but a Michigan bill banning its online direct sales model has made it into law, almost. HB 5606 was passed early this month by the state legislature, with late language added that prevents Tesla from selling cars directly to consumers in the home state of the three US carmakers.

Last week Tesla published a blog post on the Michigan legislation, highlighting the appearance of conflict between the legislator who altered the bill at the last minute. State Senator Joe Hune, who has received campaign contributions from the Michigan Automobile Dealers Assocation, is the architect of the late edits. His wife’s firm lobbies for those same dealers…sounds familiar, especially here in New South Wales.


The loss for Tesla resulted from minor changes to the bill’s language, swiftly implemented without any opportunity for public comment. HB 5606 was originally intended to offer added protection to franchised dealers and consumers from price gouging by carmakers and was passed by the Michigan House in September without any anti-Tesla language.

However, in the Senate, any wording that might imply the legality of a manufacturer-owned dealership was removed. For example, the phrase “manufacturer’s new motor vehicle dealers” found in the original House version was changed to “franchised dealers.”

The modified version of the bill was passed unanimously by the Senate October 2, and then sent back to the House later the same day, where it passed with only a single dissenting vote. Tesla regulatory chief James Chen told The Wall Street Journal last week that the carmaker will fight this legislation, saying he has met with state officials in Lansing. Anti-Tesla legislation has already been defeated in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New York.

Nevada explicitly legalised Tesla’s company-owned stores as part of the incentives package lawmakers created to land the carmaker’s massive battery gigafactory. If Gov. Snyder signs the bill, Michigan will join Arizona, Texas, and Virginia in banning direct sales entirely. Tesla is limited to one location in Colorado…but at least you can legally smoke dope whilst waiting for a sales rep… and legislation that would decide the fate of two stores in New Jersey is still pending.


ALSO SEE: Dumb Laws From States Banning Tesla Sales

(This is worth a read if only for a list of some of the ‘mind-boggling’ laws in some US states such as in Denver, where you may own a black car, but you may not drive it on Sundays….

Do Dealer Efforts To Ban Tesla Sales Backfire When Public Notices?



The top 100 most expensive motorcycles sold at auction

If you’re a fan of two-wheeled powered personal transport, in other words motorbikes, then this is the blog for you. But be warned. If you’re planning to take a ride in the country this weekend, don’t start reading until you come back, because if you start into it on Saturday, you’ll miss the weekend altogether.
So here they all are…not here, as you’ll see in a minute…the 100 most expensive motorcycles ever to sell at auction, in order, with the links to official auction pages and catalogue descriptions all put together by the amazing 

Image Gallery (634 images)

 Auctions are generally agreed to be the absolute model of economic efficiency and hence the fairest, most accurate way of determining the true value of an item and uniting buyers and sellers at just the right price to their mutual benefit. There have been billions of words written about auctions and auction theory, but when a single rare item has a unique provenance, and may be valued quite differently by all those potential buyers who make up the ever-increasing internet universe, an auction is also the perfect way of invoking the “auction winner’s curse.”
 There are those who argue that there is a winner’s curse of always paying too much at an auction, as there is inevitably at least one person who adds irrationality to the model to make the winning bid too high … and the larger the universe of bidders, the greater the likelihood of irrationality, and the higher the price.

That said, the auction marketplace is also the most accountable of all, and most estimates suggest that it represents between 30 and 50 percent of the rare motorcycle and car marketplace – that is, somewhere between one in three and one in two rare motorcycles changes hands at auction. The bulk change hands privately or via dealers.

The advantage of the auction marketplace is that the results become part of the “public domain” and when the results of the auction market are aggregated and analyzed, as we have done here, some perspective can be achieved.

This Top 100 is a work in progress. The amount of work involved in scouring available auction results has been thousands of hours. There may be results we’ve missed, and if we can find such results (feel free to contact us – see bottom of article) we’ll verify each and every result, and add them to the listing. This list is meant to be a ready-reference guide for our readership to make informed decisions about their two-wheeled “investments of passion.”

A similar Top 100 cars listing is nearing completion and will be published shortly, and other analysis of various facets of the collectables marketplace will follow: film cars, coins, stamps, toys, guns, militaria, armor, sports collectibles ad infinitum.

As you will see from our analysis of the top 100 motorcycles, this is far from a complete picture of the entire motorcycle marketplace (no-one else has a list as thorough as this, and perspective of the entire marketplace is unavailable), because it contains only those motorcycles which have appeared at auction and even then, only those that have sold.

We have included (without a ranking – denoted as “00” in list) some of the significant motorcycles which failed to meet their reserve prices and were hence not sold, in order to give an approximation of their relative worth at auction. If any readers have suggestions of similarly landmark machinery which has crossed the auction block and failed to sell, we’d be pleased consider and add them if appropriate. The aim of this exercise is to eventually paint a complete picture of the marketplace.

Several of these motorcycles, were they to meet reserve or even have their high bid accepted, would undoubtedly feature prominently on this list. Finally, if you want more details on any of these bikes, click through to the auctioneer’s descriptions which have been included in almost all cases (if it’s available, we’ve linked to it). We’ve included many photos in our image library but the auctioneers, particularly the world’s foremost auctioneer of rare motorcycles, Bonhams, often includes much of the correspondence and many period images sourced for the sale.

There are so many photos and things in this blog that we reckon now is the time to CLICK HERE and read it in full at the gazmag site…..(see you on Monday)

Limited Diesel added to Jeep Cherokee range



We’re not quite sure what is meant by limited diesel, but in auto speak it probably means a small production run designed to test the market. Whatever, the new Limited Diesel has a 2.0-litre turbo with stop/start technology linked to a nine-speed automatic transmission all which is said to result in impressive fuel economy of “5.8-litres per hundred kilometres, without compromising on power.”

There’s Active Drive II, featuring a two-speed power transfer unit with torque management and low range unique to the diesel powertrain,18-inch aluminum wheels, leather upholstery, heated front seats and Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen with navigation.

And the list goes on: front and rear parking sensors with reversing camera, Alpine nine-speaker surround sound system, seven airbags, electronic stability control with ERM rollover mitigation and an anti-lock brake system with on and off-road calibration.

Additional safety features include forward collision and lane departure warning systems, park assist, cruise control, blind spot monitoring and rear cross path detection. All of which has given the new Cherokee mid-size SUV an Ancap five-star rating and a ‘best in class’ from Euro NCAP.

Jeep say that the vehicle is the first mid-size SUV to feature rear axle disconnect, resulting in reduced friction and energy loss when 4×4 capability isn’t needed and ensuring improved fuel efficiency.