The staff at - all one of us and the cat - are about to take what they call in the industry "a well-earned break".   We plan to be back on air towards the end of October.  Thanks for your interest in 'The Precious Metal". Arrivederci  


Aston Martin’s licence to thrill lives on with James Bond Special

    Bond: Do you expect me to talk?”         Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!   But we know that he didn’t die and we’re pleased that he didn’t. But not as pleased as Aston Martin who’s D5 became as famous as the film itself. It’s now more than fifty years since Goldfinger hit the big screen and to paraphrase Irving Berlin: “The film may have ended, but the melody lingers on”. An what [ read more ]


What a way to spend Melbourne Cup Day!

    Now here’s a way to spend a Melbourne Cup day with a difference. Rather than being crammed into an over-priced restaurant or pub, how about heading for the wide open road to Eureka in that cherished little ‘classic’ that nowadays, hardly seems to get out of the garage? And, if you keep right on 'till the end of the road, you’ll arrive at the Museum of Australian Democracy where you can mingle with a heap of other motoring enthusiasts [ read more ]

Aston Martin’s licence to thrill lives on with James Bond Special




Bond: Do you expect me to talk?”         Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!


But we know that he didn’t die and we’re pleased that he didn’t. But not as pleased as Aston Martin who’s D5 became as famous as the film itself. It’s now more than fifty years since Goldfinger hit the big screen and to paraphrase Irving Berlin: “The film may have ended, but the melody lingers on”. An what a sweet and profitable memory it is for AM that has just announced a special edition DB9 in recognition of one of the longest running connections between a motor vehicle and a movie character. The Aston Martin DB9 GT Bond Edition will be made in limited numbers to coincide with the release of the latest Bond film, Spectre, in which 007 will be behind the wheel of a DB10.


aston-martin-db9-bond-3Under the hood, the DB9’s V12 engine has gained 30hp (22kW), bumping its power output up to 540hp (403kW). That’s enough to shoot it from standstill to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds, 0.1 of a second faster than the standard car and, hopefully, fast enough to get owners clear of any international super villains chasing them. Just like a quality spy, the DB9 Bond manages to stay under the radar on the outside.


Although it’s fitted with GT badging, special Bond Edition badges on the front fenders and sterling silver wings on the Aston Martin badge, only a true ‘trainspotter’ will notice the difference between the Bond Edition and the standard DB9, which sort of begs the question of why you would want one…but!


Inside, all 150 units are fitted with a numbered sill plate, gun barrel embroidery on the divider between the rear seats and a special Bond edition start-up sequence on the new DB9’s touchscreen infotainment system. Included in the £165,000 (US$252,438) price is a limited edition Omega Seamaster watch.


Order books are now open for the DB9 GT Bond Edition, which will be finished in a special Silver hue.




  Q: Now this one I’m particularly keen about. You see the gear lever here?  Now, if you take the top off, you will find a little red button. Whatever you do, don’t touch it.

 Bond: Yeah, why not?

 Q: Because you’ll release this section of the roof, and engage and then fire the passenger ejector seat. Whish!

 Bond: Ejector seat? You’re joking!

Q: I never joke about my work, 007.


What a way to spend Melbourne Cup Day!




Now here’s a way to spend a Melbourne Cup day with a difference. Rather than being crammed into an over-priced restaurant or pub, how about heading for the wide open road to Eureka in that cherished little ‘classic’ that nowadays, hardly seems to get out of the garage? And, if you keep right on ’till the end of the road, you’ll arrive at the Museum of Australian Democracy where you can mingle with a heap of other motoring enthusiasts at the Ballarat Festival of Motoring.


Even if you don’t own a piece of precious metal, it’s still well worth driving in modern-day comfort for what is billed as a celebration of all facets of motoring. The festival’s aim is to create a unique community gathering, where motoring enthusiasts, their families and friends can share their knowledge and admiration for a display of touring, sports and racing cars, old and new. There’ll also be heaps of other activities including the showing of an historic collection of motoring and motorsport films in the museum’s modern theatre throughout the day, pausing only for the running of the over-priced hay munchers.


The museum is located on the historic site of the 1854 Eureka Stockade and explores the powerful story of Eureka as a significant part of the struggle for peoples’ rights (remember them?) in Australia and around the world, under the original Flag of the Southern Cross, which will be on display. As in most modern-day museums, there is a top quality café/restaurant, in this case, the award winning Saltbush Kitchen that offers a menu sourced from fresh local produce and and specialises in bringing delicious Australian bush food flavours to a meal.





More @ Ballarat Festival of Motoring.

Second-hand vehicles now in the safety spotlight




At long last, safety seems to be winning out over ascetics with new car buyers. If you don’t believe it, just listen to the reaction from a manufacturer of a model that comes out of an ANCAP safety rating smelling more like a dog than a rose. But it’s not only new cars that are coming into the safety spotlight. The RACQ’s safety guide is the result of the in-depth testing of more than two hundred second hand vehicles by Monash University that also uses data from more than seven million real-world crashes across Australia and New Zealand.


The guide covers most popular vehicles that were manufactured between 1996 and 2013. As with all ‘simulated’ crash tests, including ANCAP’s, there are a number of areas that are open to dispute. What’s not in question is that on average, newer models provide better protection from injury in a crash thanks to improvements come from better structural designs, an increase in safety features such as front, side, curtain and knee airbags, more advanced seat belt systems and vehicle interiors built with more energy-absorbing materials.


All of which is not much use if you intend buying a second hand vehicle, so back to the RACQ guide that shows if you’re looking towards a Holden Cruze (2013), a Honda Civic (2011) or a Ford Focus LV (2012) then you’re gazing in the right direction. All three models were among the ten that received a five-star rating in the small car category. The medium car category was dominated by European models from Audi A4 (2008), VW Passat (2006), Merc C-Class (2013) and Saab 9000 (1997) with the Ford Falcon FG (2013) and Holden Statesman (2006), topping the pile in the large car heap. Alarmingly, across the four categories, thirty-six models received a ‘don’t buy-smack in the eye’ red star indicating very poor performance.


The full results of the RACQ’s 2015 Used Car Safety Ratings Guide can be found @ RACQ website.




Defusing the fuss about diffusers




The first prearranged match race of two self-powered road vehicles over a prescribed route occurred on August 30, 1867, between Ashton-under-Lyne and Old Trafford (now home to Manchester United) over a distance of eight miles. It is reported that there was some confusion surrounding the winner Isaac Watt Boulton’s carriage. And so the age of motor racing had begun with a touch of confusion or controversy that is never far from today’s competitions.


Take for instance, the use of diffusers that’s been going on for decades judging from which one would think that they are pretty important items in the overall performance of a racecar. And one would be right. But why? A good question that had us flicking through back copies of Racecar Engineering that has the good oil on almost anything in the world of motor racing.


Let’s start with the primary function and operation of a diffuser. The key role of the diffuser on a modern racecar is to accelerate the flow of air under the car, creating an area of low pressure, thus increasing downforce. What this actually means in real world terms is that the shaped piece of bodywork at the rear of an F1 car, for example, draws the air out from under the car. This literally sucks the car onto the track creating much higher grip levels than would otherwise be available simply through the tyres and suspension setup. This is known as aerodynamic grip.




To understand why this works one first has to have a grasp of the basic principles of lift and down force. The illustration below shows a simple downforce generating wing profile. The air passing under the wing has further to travel than the air passing over the top surface causing the air under the wing to accelerate, resulting in a drop in air pressure, which in turn creates a difference in pressure between the upper and lower surfaces. This difference essentially means the higher pressure above pushes down the wing, generating what is known as downforce.



An extreme application of this theory can be seen on the Chaparral 2J car (right). A pair of fans on the rear of the car suck the air from under the floor, pulling it onto the road, rather like the theory behind a hovercraft, only in reverse. With this in mind, the role of the diffuser on a racing car is to speed up the airflow underneath the car, reducing its pressure and creating a greater difference in pressure between the upper and lower surfaces of the car. This means more downforce and aerodynamic grip, allowing the vehicle to corner faster.


Now that we understand the basics of downforce generation we can look at the more detailed operation of a diffuser, and why they have their distinctive form. The diffuser increases in volume along its length, creating a void that has to be filled by the air passing under the body.




UnderbodyThis venturi effect means that the flow is accelerated through the throat of the diffuser, creating the desired low pressure, then gradually returned to the same velocity at which it joined the wake The angle, or slope, of the diffuser is also important as the diffuser must have a gradual change of angle to prevent flow separation from its roof and sides.

The addition of the vertical ‘fences’ to a diffuser help to optimise the diffusers efficiency by ensuring that the air is only drawn only from the underbody and does not spill in from the upper body surfaces.






The diagram (right) shows the pressure coefficient of a generic diffuser design, with blue representing the lowest pressure areas and red the highest. This clearly illustrates the reduction in pressure at the throat area as the velocity increases and the subsequent reduction in pressure for the underfloor as the diffuser sucks the vehicle to the ground.



(Image kindly provided by Symscape, whose software, SymLab and its add-ons combine to form an easy-to-use CAE software system can help you assess the performance of your 3D model.)





Land Rover putting some horse sense into trailering




Land Rover is developing a see-through trailer concept that the company claim will completely remove the blind spots when towing a caravan or trailer. The prototype ‘Transparent Trailer’ system fitted to a Range Rover combines the video feed from the vehicle’s existing surround camera system including the reversing camera and a camera on each wing mirror with a video from a digital wireless camera that is placed on the rear of the trailer or caravan. The video feeds are then combined to create the live video images that make the trailer behind appear see-through. When the trailer is coupled to the towing vehicle, the live video feed automatically appears in the rear view mirror.


According to Wolfgang Epple, director of research and technology, Jaguar Land Rover, the Transparent Trailer project is researching how a driver can be presented with a view out of the vehicle unrestricted by a trailer or caravan, regardless of its size or shape: “Our prototype system offers a very high quality video image with no distortion of other cars or obstructions, which means that the driver would have exactly the right information to make safe and effective decisions when driving or manoeuvring.” 


When reversing, the driver would also be able to view the camera feed from the back of the caravan or trailer through the infotainment screen, with guidance lines calibrated to help reverse both car and trailer. Jaguar Land Rover is also testing an idea for an in-car trailer monitoring system designed to optimise cargo loading for safer towing. The prototype system, known as Cargo Sense combines a remote video camera inside the trailer and a mat of pressure sensors on the floor both link wirelessly to the towing vehicle.


“As well as helping customers load cargo evenly and uniformly, the pressure sensitive mat would detect if your load of boxes, antique furniture, a classic car or even a valuable horse is moving around the trailer in an unexpected or abnormal way whilst travelling,” said Wolfgang.


landrover02The system is designed to send a ‘check cargo’ warning to the dashboard and alert the driver to an issue with the cargo, or a horse, before it becomes serious. Live video footage from the camera inside the trailer is fed through the infotainment screen in the vehicle where a passenger would be able to view the footage whilst the vehicle is in motion. Alternatively, the driver could stop and assess the situation in the trailer from the safety of the driver’s seat. The app can also be used to remotely check the status of both trailer and load remotely.


Thousands of horses travel to equestrian events all over the world every year. Finding safer ways to transport them would reduce the potential for road accidents during the journey and injuries to horse and handler when they reach their destination,’ added Wolfgang.


Animal physiologist Emma Punt is working with the British Animal Rescue and Trauma Care Association and the Royal Veterinary College on a research project to better understand horse stress and distress during travel and to see how Jaguar Land Rover’s Cargo Sense technology could be used to indicate horse distress. Emma will test a range of devices that measure the animal’s physical wellbeing inside a trailer and validate how a pressure sensor mat could identify and locate hoof pressure to highlight if the horse has moved unexpectedly.



“Whether it is to help prevent road accidents and injuries to horse and handler, or even to simply ensure that an animal arrives at its destination stress free, I’m sure every owner would like to learn how to reduce stress for their horse during travel. Gaining a better understanding of the environment inside the trailer and the horse’s reaction to it, would make the animal more comfortable during travel and ensure that it is capable of performing to the best of its ability on arrival at an event,” she said.



MONDAY’S BLOG gets you into vintage bikes, ice driving, cute cars and more….



INTO VINTAGE MOTOR BIKES? Then you’ll certainly be amongst the huddle of bidders for one of the world’s rarest Harley-Davidson motorcycles at Shannons Melbourne Spring Auction on September 21. The circa-1927 FHA eight-valve v-twin racer with scramble-type sidecar is reputedly one of fewer than 50 examples – some say considerably less – built by the America manufacturer from 1916-1928. Reportedly delivered new through Milledge Brothers of Melbourne, the circa-1927 example is one of the last of the 8-valve racers built and like most ‘collector’ items these days, is being billed as a real ‘barnfind’, having been locked away in dry storage for much of the past 80 years.


These powerful bikes were deliberately priced out of the reach of private enthusiasts during their 12-year production lifetime and were only offered to up and coming racers of the day. They cost a whopping US$1500 new at a time when even the most expensive bikes usually sold for no more than US$350. A large part of 8-valve’s desirability was their exceptional performance for the era. American historian Floyd Clymer in July 1916 set two world dirt track records for one hour (83.71 miles) and 100 miles (one hour, 11 minutes, 45 seconds) and was one of the favoured few that were given access to the legendary 8-valve bikes. The bike being auctioned was last raced some time in the 1930s and competed in Victorian dirt track events before reportedly being put in a dry storage facility for over 40 years, ensuring it remained virtually untouched and unmodified from the end it’s racing days.






AUDI IS TO HOLD its first Audi quattro snow driving experience in Australia designed to put drivers through a number of challenging and exhilarating alpine activities featuring the company’s soon to be launched Q7 SUV. Professional driving instructors led by Top Gear Australia’s Steve Pizzati will conduct the events that will be staged from from Wednesday 2nd until Tuesday 8th September  at Mount Hotham. The snow driving experience costs $600 and customers can register by visiting this link. The company’s new partnership with Mount Hotham will give Audi customers access to reserved parking and an express lane at the quattro chair lift. More @






ELMIR VIDIMLIC OF BMW Melbourne, is Bimmer’s technician of the year in recognition of which he got to drive one of the vehicles he’s been working on all year…ON ICE in NEW ZEALAND! You’re kidding… What, no all expenses paid trip to Hawaii? “Sorry, that’s reserved for the dudes that sell not service vehicles. Get your priorities right!”






SHANNONS LEGENDS OF MOTORSPORT television series is returning to 7mate. Celebrating the biggest names, races and moments in Australian motorsport history, the 12-part series will bring to life a range of archival footage starting in ‘60s right through to the 1990s. Guests including Dick Johnson, Glenn Seton, George Fury, Kevin Bartlett, Fred Gibson, John Bowe, Brad Jones, Bob Morris and many more will reflect on the cars they drove, the great races and tough times. There’ll also be a special focus on the 1972, 1973 and 1990 Bathurst contests. The first of twelve episodes airs on Saturday September 19, with a special focus on three-time Bathurst winner Dick Johnson.






SMART’S NEW FORTWO CABRIO is being describing as three cars in one. Why? Well, apparently, it can be a closed-top with the roof open by way of a sliding canvas sunroof or an open-top with the roof removed entirely and stored in the boot. It’s a pretty dainty little number at just 2.69m long and 1.66m wide. There are two engine options (71 & 90hp) both coupled with either a five-speed manual transmission or a fully automatic dual-clutch tranny. The fabric soft top opens fully in 12 seconds which is about three seconds faster than the 0-100km/h performance. But who cares? This is all about fun…and each model will come with a couple of long-haired retrievers! You can check it out at the Frankfurt motor show or wait until sometime next year for something closer to home.






NISSAN HAS JOINED FORCES with British architecture firm Foster + Partners to design a new generation of fuel station that takes into account the continued growth of electric vehicles. At the moment, it’s all very mysterious, and both firms remain tight-lipped as to what they have planned. While one could be forgiven for taking the view that future fuel stations will look a lot like those of the present and past, a continued increase in EV use may result in the opportunity to radically overhaul our existing road and fuel station infrastructure. Tesla is blazing a trail, but the idea is still relatively niche and designed only for Elon Musk’s cars. Stations that cater to all EVs will need to be able to take various types of vehicle in their stride, not to mention catering for technology like battery swapping. Given the relatively long charge times at present, no doubt Foster + Partners’ vision will include an increased focus on retail opportunities, meeting points, recreational facilities, perhaps even a gym.





The Seven ‘most popular’ Deadly Automotive Myths

A myth has been described as a sacred narrative that explains how the world and humanity evolved into their present form, so it will come as no surprise that one of the great evolutions of mankind, the motor car, is surrounded by the stuff. So here’s a nice little yarn for a fun Friday, if such a thing exists, which covers some of the more popular myths that surround the automotive industry. It comes from our friends at and sets out to debunk the seven most deadly myths that like all good myths are eternal.






There is little doubt that this one has some historical basis, but things certainly changed once it started to dawn on the car companies that the way their dealers treated the customer had a huge impact on whether or not they purchased – and serviced – their next new car from the same brand. So the manufacturers started setting aside piles of money, big piles of money, for dealers who achieved high customer satisfaction scores. That’s why the dealer is always telling you that if someone should call, always rate the dealer ‘a perfect 10. It’s conceivable, however, that a dealer could make more money from you giving them a ‘10’ than from what they make selling you the car.








The old adage has been to change a vehicle’s oil at 3000 miles (4000kms) with precise regularity. Despite the efforts of all sorts of motoring groups and the manufacturers, research shows that almost half the drivers in the United States (read also Australia) still cling to this outmoded notion. Almost every manufacturer has extended their recommended oil change interval. Porsche, for example, specifies oil change intervals of 10,000 or 12,000 miles (16-20,000kms) for most of its vehicles. How do automakers do this? The same way that they’re creating such powerful engines, by keeping all the fuel in the combustion chamber, where it does work (and not contaminating the oil) and controlling heat that saps power like no one’s business.


And there are two more reasons: the environment and your wallet. Yes, most waste oil gets recycled but is burned as fuel boilers in factories. Not a clean process. This use of oil could be replaced by much cleaner sources. And with longer oil change intervals, it’s less oil that has to be extracted and imported. The difference between changing your oil at 7,500 miles versus 3,000 over a 100,000-mile period is 25 gallons of oil. Doesn’t sound like much, but multiple that by the 250 million cars and light trucks on the road (but divide in half, because only half change their oil at 3,000 miles) and that’ s 3.1 BILLION gallons of oil. And did you know that just one gallon of waste oil is enough to contaminate a 1 million gallons freshwater marsh? Oh yeah, and your wallet. If you’re using a coupon every time and buying the budget oil, let’s say your oil change costs $30. By changing your oil at your manufacturers recommended interval (if it’s 7,500 miles), you’d save $600. Longer intervals or using synthetic oils will save you even more. (Sorry, that was all too hard for us to do the change to the decimal bit, but we’re sure you get the idea).







You know the rule – stick a penny into the tread of your tire headfirst and as long as it touches the top of Abe’s head (or Queenie’s neck) you’re cool. While Abraham Lincoln preserved the Union, he’s not looking out for your safety (sorry about that). You see the top of Abe’s head is 2/32″ (tyre tread is measured in 32nds of an inch) and 2/32″ is about the legal limit in most places. So what Abe is telling us is to get thee to a tyre shop. A better test is George Washington (or Tony Abbott), which is perfect, as we all know he’s incapable of telling a lie. The measurement to the top of George’s head is 4/32″ and a much better gauge of when you should start shopping for new road rubber. There’s also a safety issue involved. A tyre with 2/32″ is much more likely to hydroplane than a tire with 4/32″. (This one’s a bit of a tongue in cheek myth buster, so once again we’ve declined to do what in this case is an extremely difficult conversion involving things like centimetres).








This one has been around forever. Back in the days of less cooperative union and management relationships, absenteeism would skyrocket on Mondays and Fridays. With a far better partnership (control) now between the companies that sell the cars and the men and women who make them, this kind of fluctuation in absenteeism simply doesn’t occur. The root of this misconception was that with fewer workers, the cars wouldn’t be assembled properly as they whisked down the assembly line. The companies had a very simple cure in that they just turned down the speed of the line. Fewer cars were built those days but they didn’t suffer any additional quality problems.








Engine oil that turns black is actually a sign that the oil is working. Modern engine oils contain detergent-dispersant additives that keep engine internal parts clean by removing carbon deposits and maintaining them in harmless suspension in the oil. It is better to have the carbon deposits in the oil so they can be drained off than to have them left as deposits in the engine where they could do the most damage. Right?







When you’re vehicle hits the ‘E’ line, there just isn’t much gas (petrol..that was easy) left and the car companies, in their efforts to trick you into thinking that you’re getting better fuel mileage than you actually are. Fuel gauges read of a logarithmic scale, which in this case means that burning fuel when the gauge is reading F moves the needle far less than when the needle is close to E. The reality is, and don’t bet on my estimates here, depending upon your fuel tank size, location in the car, location of the pick-up in the tank, and the fuel gauge itself, you may have between 20 and 40 miles to drive from the moment the needle fits E. But that’s a guess, so take it as a warning and refill your tank before it hits E.








It’s actually illegal for a vehicle manufacturer to deny a warranty claim on the grounds that work was performed at an independent shop, provided the shop is registered with the state (licensing body in Australia) and work was performed to a professional standard. In some cases, work you’ve done yourself can be used in a warranty claim, like an oil change, if you’ve kept receipts for the oil and filter, with the date and vehicle mileage.