A detachable lifestyle that will color your life in motion…and lots more

  Thinking about hitting the road for the Christmas holidays? Then how about this little number by designer Christian Susana that combines all the comfort of a caravan/campervan with the flexibility of a small car? What Christian has named the ‘Colim’ - Colors of Life in Motion – may well be a triumph of flexibility over form but its geometric curves are a welcome change from the regular designs and may one day may pave way for a whole range of better [ read more ]


Small car, big fun – a quick spin in the Honda S660

  When people think of Kei-cars, they tend to think of boxy wagons and quirky hatchbacks designed only for the Japanese market. With tiny 660 cc engines that qualify them for cheap tax and insurance, the Kei-car platform doesn't seem like a natural place to start when designing a sports car, says Melbourne-based auto journo, Scott Collie in his latest blog for gizmag. That didn't deter Honda from creating a mid-engine, rear-drive sports car to fit the strict yellow-plate rules. The [ read more ]


Goodyear celebrates one hundred years 100 years ‘down under’

  Just on a hundred years ago a couple of men, whose names are now lost to the passing of time, opened the doors to a small office at 231 Clarence Street, Sydney, from where they planned to service the rapidly expanding automotive industry with tyres. They worked hard and we’re rewarded with rapid expansion across the nation. Well, that’s the romantic version. In truth, they were probably a couple of company executives sent out from the USA by one [ read more ]

A detachable lifestyle that will color your life in motion…and lots more



Thinking about hitting the road for the Christmas holidays? Then how about this little number by designer Christian Susana that combines all the comfort of a caravan/campervan with the flexibility of a small car? What Christian has named the ‘Colim’ – Colors of Life in Motion – may well be a triumph of flexibility over form but its geometric curves are a welcome change from the regular designs and may one day may pave way for a whole range of better shaped vehicles. The livable area is flexible, with individually applicable multi function modules. Designed for two people, four at a squeeze, the unit comes in multi function modules that can be personalised according to the present life situation of the user…a flexibility that can also be extended to the vehicle cockpit.


If that all seems a bit way out, then you could always settle for the ‘cool’ of one of three Mini Getaway cars that according to the blurb, are compact, fun and luxury offering ‘maximum touring pleasure with minimal mobile footprint’. Our favourite is the Mini Cowley, two-person, teardrop trailer with twin-burner gas stove, water tank, sink and a solar module that provides a 230-volt connection to power a fridge and audio equipment. The trailer has sliding windows on both sides, al la retro Mini, and weighs less than 300kg.






















All of which is pretty cool…but for us the idea of ‘roughing’ it is a twenty-one foot long piece of the heaven in the shape of a 1956 Chrysler Diablo Dart and a suite at the Hilton.



renaultzoe-fastcharge-2RENAULT HAS BEEN TESTING a smart-charging system designed to reduce costs and lower the impact of car charging on the electrical grid. Eleven Renault employees in Germany who own ZOE battery-electric cars tested the in-home charging system developed by The Mobility House. Results show that the smart system both lowers grid impact and improves charging time by up to an hour. The Renault employees were given specially designed charging stations to test the new system under real-life conditions. The charging stations are designed to communicate with the car and calculate grid-based electrical costs at the station’s location, including detecting consumption peaks. The charging station then charges the car when costs are lowest (when demand is low) and pauses charging when consumption peaks are detected. During low consumption periods, fast charging is enabled to complete the charging as quickly as possible. The testing was successful, showing up to an hour of reduced charging time thanks to better grid availability during the calculated low usage periods. Renault and The Mobility House see this as a first stage in the “smart grid” evolution for electricity distribution and usage. Work has started on the next stage that Renault say will allow a vehicle to feed electricity back into the grid and to use solar panels to maximize returns in selling to the grid versus charging the EV. Source: Renault.







FRESH FROM TRYING TO POISON THE WORLD with diesel fumes, VW now looks like it might soon be sending its stores personnel at the Wolfsburg plant blind with the ‘trial’ of 3D smart glasses for order picking. According to the company, the objective is to further improve process security in production- whatever that means. Users automatically receive information such as storage locations or part numbers directly in their field of vision and touch or voice control is said to allow for ‘extremely easy operation’. According to the company’s, head of plant logistics Reinhard de Vries, users have both hands free while working and a camera in the glasses reads barcodes on parts removed from the storage location:“Digitalisation is becoming increasingly important in production. The 3D smart glasses take cooperation between humans and systems to a new level.”


The use of the 3D glasses is voluntary…you, you and you..with users gradually being introduced to the new technology. Thirty employees in various areas such as windshields and drive shafts are reported to be using with the smart glasses. Works Council member Mario Kurznack-Bodner reckons that: “The benefits of new technology like the smart glasses can only be assessed effectively if we can check them out in normal production operation. The colleagues concerned approach the technology without any preconceived notions. Apart from health, safety and occupational medicine criteria, it is important to the Works Council that feedback from employees should be taken up and reflected in everyday work.“





Mazda-engineMAZDA’S NEW CX-9 THAT WILL GO ON SALE in the USA next year, will feature an ‘enhanced’ version of the company’s Skyactiv-G series engine. Based on the naturally aspirated Skyactiv-G 2.5 featured in the Mazda6, the enhanced version is the first turbocharged engine in the series. Maximum torque is 310ft-lb, comparable with a naturally aspirated four-litre petrol engine. Turbocharged engines have suffered from poor dynamic performance at low rpms, including turbo lag, and disappointing fuel economy.

The new G 2.5T is designed to overcomes these problems with a dynamic pressure turbo, said to be the world’s first turbocharging system that can vary the degree of exhaust pulsation depending on engine speed, and a cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system that allows the engine to maintain the ideal air-fuel ratio³ (λ=1) over a wider output range.

Major features are said to be: High compression ratio  a compression ratio 10.5:1, one of the highest for any turbocharged engine with an 89-mm bore size that can run on regular petrol; Dynamic pressure turbo – is the world’s first turbocharged engine with the ability to change the degree of exhaust pulsation depending on engine speed. At low rpms (below 1620rpm), the volume of the exhaust ports is reduced by closing a series of valves located just before the turbine that drives the turbocharger. This reduces interference between exhaust pulses and maximises the energy of each pulse to obtain a high turbine driving force. At higher rpms there is sufficient energy in the exhaust flow and the valves open, allowing the turbine to be driven by a steady flow of exhaust gases as in a traditional turbocharger.


Cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) This system takes some of the inert exhaust gas that results from the combustion process and reduces its temperature by passing it through a cooler before introducing it back into the engine’s air intake. This lowers the temperature of combustion in the engine, preventing knocking, expanding the range in which the engine can maintain the ideal air-fuel ratio and reducing the need to retard ignition timing. Inline 4-cylinder 2.5-litre direct-injection turbocharged petrol engine
Displacement: 2488cc; bore x stoke: 89.0mm x 100.0mm; compression ratio: 10.5:1; maximum output (net): 227hp (169kW) /5,000rpm; maximum torque (net): 310ft-lb (420Nm) /2,000rpm.




gold-medalREGULAR READERS OF THIS BLOG will be aware of how we like to get stuck into the BMW Group especially when it comes to the company’s Australian pricing policy…ie: the most expensive in the world. But, believe it or not, it’s time to hand out a ‘gong’. For some time now, the group has been involved in a large number of long-term initiatives to promote intercultural exchange and integration into everyday working life. The Germany-wide Joblinge, for example, helps unemployed youth find their first job and from January this program will be expanded to providing young people from a migrant background with a ‘platform for exchange and learning important social skills’. Through visits to the company, it is hoped that young people will gain initial insights into everyday working life at BMW. The group employs 121,000 people worldwide with 86,000 employees from 108 countries working together on a daily basis at the company’s German locations. And it’s all down to intercultural understanding and social integration programs that are deemed as core company competences…Perhaps the Australian government could adopt such competences rather than adopting an immigration policy more akin to a darker past in German history.






Small car, big fun – a quick spin in the Honda S660



When people think of Kei-cars, they tend to think of boxy wagons and quirky hatchbacks designed only for the Japanese market. With tiny 660 cc engines that qualify them for cheap tax and insurance, the Kei-car platform doesn’t seem like a natural place to start when designing a sports car, says Melbourne-based auto journo, Scott Collie in his latest blog for gizmag. That didn’t deter Honda from creating a mid-engine, rear-drive sports car to fit the strict yellow-plate rules. The S660 was originally teased as a concept at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, but made it to production virtually unchanged. In the metal, there’s a strong resemblance to the Honda Beat, one of Honda’s pint-sized sports car from the past. Those low, wide headlamps mirror the Beat’s lights, while the line that runs along the side is also a clear reference. The rear deck is short, with pronounced hips and small cooling louvres over the tiny three-cylinder power plant, while there are small cooling vents cut into the front flanks.


The S660 has even got Lamborghini Aventador style air intakes sitting over the driver and passenger’s shoulders, and a tiny window between the rear buttresses that opens up to give you a better connection to the engine’s turbo noises. Sounds a bit gimmicky, but the little window is actually one of the best features on the car – we found ourselves giggling away as the little engine huffed and puffed its way through town. Roof off, tiny rear window down and it was time to hit the open road … and first impressions were good. The car’s clutch is light and the gear ratios are perfectly spaced for making the most of the little engine’s 63 hp (47 kW) as we zip between immaculately maintained taxis and boxy Daihatsus towards the Tomei expressway.




The S660’s three-cylinder turbo engine is from Honda’s N-Box, but it’s been tweaked with new turbo geometry for better performance off the line and in the midrange. It sounds raucous and rattly as we buzz along, but it’s got plenty of punch provided you keep it between 3000 and 6000rpm. While the S660 is performing perfectly, I’m not doing so well. With no data connection, Google Maps is having a minor freak out and at the Tomei Expressway’s first tollbooth; I pull up to a gate specifically for people with a prepaid toll card. I, being from Melbourne and not Tokyo, don’t have that card. Cue an awkward exchange with a polite, gloved gentleman who runs across from the neighbouring booth to take my money. Eventually we get back up to speed, accompanied by some brilliant turbo noises between gear changes. With the engine right over your shoulder, you can hear everything that’s going on back there, feel the warmth it’s creating as you look over back to change lanes.


At highway speeds things are a little blustery in the S660’s cabin. The top of my head pokes out above the top of the windscreen, which makes for plenty of buffeting at 100km/h. It’s worth keeping in mind the S660 isn’t exactly designed to do highway miles with lanky foreign journalists behind the wheel. That said, it feels absolutely rock solid at high speed and the ride is compliant and comfy. There’s also no feeling that you might be blown off the road by the big semi trailers blasting past, which is reassuring for the gangly gaijin behind the wheel. Off the freeway, it’s time to point the tiny Honda’s nose at some bends – and what better place to do it than in the hills above Hakone.




From the first corner it’s clear that it takes a fair bit to ruin the S660’s composure. The little Honda is perfectly neutral: once it’s turned in, it just holds its line perfectly. As well as being perfect for Tokyo’s tight streets, that light steering means you can flick the car around on the tight roads around Hakone without too much awkward hand shuffling on the wheel. What’s more, the S660’s size makes it perfect for exploring narrow roads. Anything bigger would make you nervous about drifting across the lines on the seemingly never-ending blind bends around Hakone, but the little Honda’s tiny footprint means you can move around in you lane and find a neat line without worrying about hitting something coming the other way.


The steering is light and direct, and the S660 stays flat when you throw it around. Because it’s so light the suspension doesn’t need to be rock solid to keep the mass under control, so the fact it’s compliant and comfortable on the motorway doesn’t hold it back when you’re having a crack. Highlight of the whole experience, though, is the gearbox. Honda has a reputation for making super-slick manuals and the S660’s is no different. Shifting with the short-throw metallic gearstick is an absolute joy, and a reminder that paddles and power don’t always equal more fun.






Goodyear celebrates one hundred years 100 years ‘down under’



Just on a hundred years ago a couple of men, whose names are now lost to the passing of time, opened the doors to a small office at 231 Clarence Street, Sydney, from where they planned to service the rapidly expanding automotive industry with tyres. They worked hard and we’re rewarded with rapid expansion across the nation. Well, that’s the romantic version. In truth, they were probably a couple of company executives sent out from the USA by one Frank Seiberling, who a few years earlier had set up a tyre manufacturing named after the inventor of vulcanised rubber Charles Goodyear.


We’ll probably never know which story is correct, but what we do know is that either way, it was a pretty successful venture that quickly established the Goodyear name across Australia, thanks in no small measure to the fact that compared to other products, the tyres were easily detachable and required little maintenance, which made them very popular. Indeed, so popular that within a decade, Mr. W.G Kither, a manager at the Adelaide branch, was pushing the idea of a local manufacturing plant that opened in Sydney two years later in 1927 rapidly followed by major depots in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. Within a few years, the company had manufactured one million tyres and by 1951 that number had grown to 10 million. During the second world war, Goodyear’s local operations were manufacturing and servicing the tyre needs of aircraft, service trucks, jeeps, motorcycles and wide variety of armed services’ equipment and manufacturing bullet-seal fuel tanks. Unfortunately, following a number of corporate deck chair shuffles, manufacture in Australia ceased in 2008.


blimp2In 1914, the US parent company unveiled what it claimed to be the world’s first blimp named Wingfoot One, which, in fact, was not a blimp but rather a semi-rigid airship. The real helium-filled thing took to the skies in 1925 in the form of the Goodyear Blimp that has since attained iconic status in the US and eventually found its way to Australia to assist in the coverage of the 2000 Olympic games.


Other ‘innovations’ brought to Australia in recent years have included RunOnFlat technology, fuel saving technology in the form of the Assurance Fuel Max tyre and QuietTred technology, that contributes to the EfficientGrip performance tyre. Advanced technology is all well and good, but not much use without an efficient means of getting it all to market. And it is here that the company believes that it has been particularly fortunate in having a long standing, nationwide, family of company-owned, franchised and independent dealers that for 100 years has stocked and distributed Goodyear tyres.


All of which we suppose entitles the local company’s Thierry Villard, to get a wee bit hyperbolic: “A centenary is a remarkable achievement and testament to the strength of our business, team and customers. As industries and companies have come and gone over the decades, Goodyear Australia has achieved and sustained a reputation as an industry leader through continued innovation, adaptation to changing markets, as well as a continued commitment to understanding and delivering on what our customers value and need…… I look forward to the continuation of Goodyear in Australia for the next 100 years”



“How about this for a restoration, squire”




With the sort of summer weather we are used to starting to make itself felt all around the country, how would you like to be taking advantage of the sunshine in this charismatic, costly and extremely rare British sports car that has been shortlisted for Restoration of the Year at the prestigious International Historic Motoring Awards? Absolutely no chance, is the answer, but we can all dream which is exactly what Peter Neumark, chairman of Classic Motor Cars (UK) did when he saw this 1936 Squire at the 2011 Retromobile in Paris in a very sorry state, with its upholstery the home to a family of rodents and the body completely stripped of paint. Peter’s dream was to restore the thing to its former grandeur and 4100-man hours later that dream has come true.


Squire-CLO-5-restored-restored-by-Classic-Motor-Cars_2Four thousand and one hundred man hours would be enough to test the metal of any operation, but for Classic Motor Cars, it’s all in a day’s, or should we say nearly 200 days work, and chicken feed compared to the 7000 hours spent restoring a Lindner-Nocker Lightweight E-Type that crashed at the Montlhery circuit in 1964. That little bit of work earned a restoration of the year award that the company is hoping to repeat with this project.


According to managing director Nick Goldthorp, no detail has been too small to ensure originality and a nice finishing touch was the reissue of the Squire’s original registration number of CLO 5, forfeited on its export to the States in the 50s:  “When the Squire arrived at CMC’s premises early in 2013 for a full nut and bolt restoration, it was practically complete but there were no spare parts. It had also undergone a few modifications over the years, which have all been carefully reversed to the state in which it left Squire’s Remenham Hill Works in 1936.”
The original radiator shell was badly twisted so CMC fabricated a new one from brass. Even the missing quick-release caps on the radiator and petrol tank have been scrupulously reproduced using originals from another Squire for reference. Although all of the instruments were present, a wooden dashboard had replaced the metal original. These were reconditioned and accommodated in a new plywood one, faced in aluminium and finished in the body colour as per the original specification.


When it came to restoring the body, panel beater Luke Martin spent more than 2000 hours on tasks such as carefully detached all the original aluminium panels from the ash frame and re-beat them and helping match examples of the original maroon paintwork found inside the boot lid and on the engine bay plates. The internal woodwork has also been painted in maroon.




The car appeared this week at the Phyllis Court Classic Motoring Group, alongside four of the original seven that were built between 1934 and 1936 in a small garage just down the road. All vehicles are privately owned and members of the family of Adrian Squire, the founder, attended the event together with several relatives of the original management team responsible for making and selling the cars. The Squires are heavily featured in Jonathan Wood’s book Squire, the Man, the Cars, the Heritage, which candidly recounts the story of the formidable Adrian Squire and the seven cars built (

Kiwi apprentice takes home top Australian award




Not content with knocking off the Rugby World Cup, that mob across the Tasman have also taken home the 2015 Snap-on Tools Australia Apprentice of the Year Award, thanks to efforts of Otago apprentice Benjamin Fretwell. If it’s any consolation, unlike the world cup that seems to have found a permanent home in NZ, this is the first time that the Snap-on award has gone ‘overseas’ along with more than $12,000s worth of tools and equipment.


colinAn apprentice at Mosgiel Towing and Mechanical, Ben, who was also this year’s winner of the Otago MTA apprentice of the year award, is looking to complete the electrical and A Tech qualifications that would equip him with the skills necessary to open his own business. The Australian flag was kept flying by 21-year-old motorcycle apprentice from Adelaide, Harrison Norton, whose determination, passion and enthusiasm for motorbikes, helped him to take out the Apprentice of the Year Rising Star Award and $2500 worth of prizes.


Now in its seventh year, the Snap-on Tools Apprentice of the Year is dedicated to acknowledging the commitment and passion of the next generation of trades people across the automotive, heavy machinery, marine and aviation industries, with an additional focus on the defence forces. This year the competition attracted more than 300 young technicians from businesses ranging from small petrol station to underground mining operations.


A shortlist of twenty finalists was scrutinised by a panel of judges including: Michael Caruso, V8 Supercar driver; Greg Baxendale, Motor Traders’ Association of NSW; Wayne Allan, Defence Force; Stuart Behrend,  Auto Skills Australia and Alan Moon, Snap-on Tools.

Australiana range of personalised number plates




The term “Life’s a Beach” has been used in connection with many things including a movie, surf gear, photography, holiday homes and numerous café’s and restaurants up and down coast. And now there’s a new addition in the form of a selection of themed number plates one of which, yes, you’ve guessed it, features a beach. The new styles from NSW company myPlates, also include the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, the national flag and the outback.


plates-sliderAccording to the company’s Daryl Head, the new plates have been nearly two years in the making involving an in-house design studio, plate manufacturer, police and the NSW government: “This stunning new range of Australiana plates utilises iconic imagery with a relevance to NSW and designed to appeal to both men and women car owners, has already attracted a great deal of interest from which we are anticipating a very strong take up.”


Each plate is being promoted by an athlete who is expected to represent Australia at the next Olympic games in Rio. Sailing silver medallist Nina Curtis spends lots of her time training on Sydney Harbour and is a natural choice for the ‘Bridge’ plate and it’s a no brainer that beach volleyball competitors Mariafe Artacho del Solar should represent the place where they spend most of their days. One of dozens of competitors could have been the face of the ‘Flag’ but the choice of Rugby 7s captain Ed Jenkins is an inspired touch as is equestrian Stuart Tinney’s selection to represent the ‘Outback’. A gold medallist in Sydney 2000 and a Sport of Australia Hall of Fame inductee, Stuart is hoping to make the Olympic team for Rio along with his 16-year old daughter Gemma.


“Drivers can restyle their existing plate to one from the Australiana range for a one-off order fee of $325 with additional annual fees for a specific letter and number combination starting at $102,” said Darryl.


It’s a nice range that will give motorists a chance to display a pride in their motor vehicle and country. It’s a bit of a pity there’s no place for the original inhabitants. Further down the track, perhaps. Pictured top: Web designers Louis Street and Mark Thomas inspect the range of new plates

Nissan five-star rating a load of bull




There’s got to be a certain irony in an organisation that supposedly has the safety of road users awarding a five-star rating to a bull bar, an accessory that has led to a huge increase in deaths and serious injury to pedestrians. It is estimated that more than 2000 people in Europe die as a result of a collision with a bull bar and an additional 18,000 are seriously injured. But perhaps the Ancap program is only geared towards damage to vehicles and injury to their occupants. After all, a bull bar is designed to protect the vehicle from damage and its occupants from injury by transfering the damage and injury to any animal (or person) that comes in contact with it.


“Not so,” says Ancaps CEO James Goodwin, who is concerned that information put out by Nissan could be misleading: “Ancap is committed to reducing road trauma and pedestrian safety scores have been an integral part of our testing for many years. The technical data sheet for the Nissan Navara is very clear and I urge consumers to read the Ancap rating in-full before making their assessment of this and any other vehicle.”


Page 2 of the data sheet reads: “…with these bullbars fitted, the pedestrian protection rating remains Marginal. While this is still adequate for a 5-star safety rating the fitting of rigid metal bullbars does increase the serious injury risk for struck pedestrians, compared to a Navara without the bullbar fitted.”


Anyway, for what it’s worth, Nissan say that the NP300 Navara, which has already been awarded a full five-star safety rating from Ancap, earned this latest top safety score after separate frontal crash testing of the vehicle with Nissan’s genuine accessories steel bull bar fitted. According to company, in the event of an accident, it is important for a bull bar that is fitted to a modern vehicle, to work in unison with its frontal crash structure and various safety systems. To ensure this, Nissan say it has made a significant investment in its new bull bar range for the NP300 Navara.


“Nissan’s steel and aluminium bull bars have been carefully designed and engineered to work in complete harmony with all of the NP300 Navara’s structural elements and onboard safety systems,” says the company’s Richard Emery. “Nissan spent two years developing its NP300 genuine accessories bull bar range, with engineering and design work completed in conjunction with the vehicle’s final development prior to its market launch this year.”


Engineering validation work, including assessment of engine cooling performance and the multitude of necessary tests to ensure these accessories met Nissan’s strict internal durability standards, was carried out in Australia, with some additional testing at Nissan’s proving ground in Japan.


“Critically, the company conducted various internal crash-tests with these bull bars to ensure the correct deployment of the NP300 Navara’s onboard safety systems, such as SRS airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners. Safety, quality and durability don’t occur by accident,” said Richard. Not surprisingly, there’s no mention of what all this means for pedestrians.


For its part, Ancap has made it very clear that it does not award separate star safety rating to aftermarket accessories: “Ancap crash tests new, un-modified vehicles available to Australian and New Zealand consumers. Independent assessment of the Navara bullbars was undertaken to show that when these specific bullbars were fitted, the Navara retained the five-star Ancap safety rating,” said Richard.





More to vehicle design than ever meets the eye



Ever heard of the A’Kimono LS20 Concept? Probably not, that is unless you’re heavily into the design aspects of the automobile industry. But very soon you will know what it all means and will then, like us, be probably left wondering: How come all this glorious intellectual input hardly ever finds its way into the finished product? But maybe it does! The A’Kimono LS2.0 Concept is a design study of a futuristic vehicle inspired by light sculptures, which uses an artificial lighting system to make the exterior body surfaces visible at night, hence automotive lighting sculpture. For the benefit of those that follow these things, it was designed by Bulgarian Teodor Kyuchukov-Dorteo, based on the original A’kimono Concept that won third prize at a Desire Design Contest.


akiminoA year later he developed the concept further for Audi and named it A’Kimono LS2.0. Based on the automotive lighting sculpture concept, the exterior surfaces integrate an artifical lighting system, which makes the car’s silhouette recognisable at night, using hidden lighting where the source is not visible. This type of light follows the relief and the shape of the surfaces, offering a smooth and unobtrusive effect to the viewer and is often used for the lighting of interiors, monuments, architectural buildings, sports facilities, etc.


The exterior design combines the formal language of the latest Audi models with the lines of the Japanese national costume, the kimono, which is used in the martial arts where it allows optimal movement of the human body: “That physical freedom is a starting point for creative interpretation in the A’Kimino LS2.0’s surface language. There the soft lines indicate the textile behavior of the kimono and slightly reminds the stylish outlook of Audi R8,” said Teodor.


All this and BMW still came up with a wheelie bin lid for a boot!




Now how's this for a concept? This is what Ford designers in 1958 reckoned we'd all be driving by the year 2000.
Now how’s this for a concept? This is what Ford designers in 1958 reckoned we’d all be driving by the year 2000.