Goodman looking for glory at Monterey…Ventura Highway gets Ian Hooked on a Feeling…Little Bullet block fires up memories and dragsters…What’s new pussycat?

“You win some, you lose some, you wreck some” is one of many quotations by American motor racing idol Dale Earnhardt that have passed into the annuals of the sport. It’s a quotation Australian racing icon Ron Goodman can certainly relate to having done all three in a career spanning many decades.
A veteran of the super competitive Nascar racing circuit, he mixed it with the best before some major prangs resulting in serious injury forced him to look further afield. Not surprisingly, his love of cars…and what he had sometimes done to them…led him to open a collision repair shop in Sydney’s western suburbs specialising in Porsche.

Why Porsche? Well it’s a long story dating back to when Ron was only ten years old and perhaps best summed up in another famous quotation: “I did but see her passing by and yet I love her till I die.” Only this time it wasn’t a young pommie queen being referred to but a beautiful new Porsche driving down Ron’s street. It was love at first sight that turned into a lifelong passion.

Apart from owning a number of very special models including a 1958 Speedster, 1964 356 and a GT3 RS, his love for the brand also rubbed off on his business, which quickly became one of the very few ‘small’ repair shops in Australia to be appointed a Porsche preferred repairer.

But possible even more important, the passion continued a link with motor racing and an historic victory at Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion in 2014.

All of which rekindled that competitive desire that will lead him, later this month, to making a seventh consecutive appearance at the event.

Having previously won at major venues such as Watkins Glen (New York), Sebring (Florida) and Road Atlanta (Georgia), Ron
will be looking to be first across the line in his famous Porsche 1954 Pre-A 356 coupe.

“We raced well last year, finishing second despite starting at the rear of the field, due to a few difficulties in the qualifying stages. Since then, we have built a new gearbox and configured the internals of the engine to maximise horsepower. I feel the car is ready to win,” he said.

The standards and stakes are high in the invitational event that is the biggest historic road race outside of Le Mans, where Ron will be up against a $68 million Ferrari and an Alpha TZ1 worth $15 million.

“Historic racing is a rich man’s sport, but I enjoy being the little Aussie battler and competing to win. We have spent a great deal of time researching, testing and changing the car to be ready for this race,” he added.
The finals will be raced between 18-20 August. CLICK HERE for the 100 most expensive cars at Monterey.

Ventura Highway gets Ian Hooked on a Feeling

If politicians and public administrators had the same attitude towards economists that Jaguar’s head designer Ian Callum has towards his marketing department then we’d all be in a much better place.
Just like economists, Jaguar collects a lot of data. It ranges from the speed at which drivers travel and the length of journeys to the colours owners prefer their cars to be.
But while this information has its uses, Ian believes it also has the ability to hold back innovation and force designers to recreate the same car over and over again. (a la the same old last century guff spouted by economists).

But it’s not just the marketing world that has a love-hate relationship with data: design is not immune to its fickleness either.

“I’m a little belligerent towards the data that comes out of marketing. Myself and the team, will listen to the market and consumer research and absorb it, then we’ll go off and do what we believe is right.”

Mind you, Ian has earned the right to take this gut instinct approach. He’s certainly been round the block in auto design terms, having spent 11 years at Ford in the 80s and has nearly 20 at Jaguar, during which time he is widely credited for moving the brand out of its retro funk.

His cautious approach to data comes from a logical worry that by listening too closely to insight from the present, designers will be distracted from thinking in the future, a crucial ability in an industry about to face an influx of change in the form of electric and autonomous driving.

Ian believes that a lot of customers don’t know what they want until they see it.

“I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, but if you look at the cars we’re making now, you wouldn’t have dreamt them 10 years ago. We have to be confident that we can step ahead of popular visibility.

“You have to step in and say: ‘Actually, this is the next way forward.’ You cannot let creativity be overruled entirely by data: it will cripple you. You’ll end up with the same car every time.”

The future-gazing talents of the Jaguar design team will be on display at the Design Frontiers festival in London this September, alongside the likes of Swarovski, Pentland Brands and Benjamin Hubert’s Layer.

The car maker will exhibit across two rooms: the first aims to re-educate visitors on a vehicle’s evolution from sketch to production, while the second will house a 3D model of a concept car Jaguar has designed for the future.

According to Ian, it’s really a placeholder of what might happen including how a car could become useful to more than one person.

“Once you’ve got autonomous cars, they can be on the road 24 hours a day, if people are prepared to not own them. This social aspect is very interesting to us and it’s something that we’ve got to understand as a business.

“If people just want autonomous anonymous cars then there’s not much hope for branding in the car world in the future. Perhaps, then, the highest level of branding will be on your phone and your clothes and the car will just become a capsule. But I don’t believe people will be like that.

“I think they’ll still want to be seen in a specific car that gives them an emotional connection and because they can, I think status will still prevail.”

This futurist way of thinking can only make the creative process more difficult. In Jaguar’s world this has already been remastered with the arrival of the electric vehicle revolution, although according to Ian, designing the new I-Pace model has been liberating.

“All my life we’ve been constrained by this engine box and mechanical bits and now I can start to move things around.”

But how does he make sure his creativity stands up against both a volatile industry and the lethargy that must come after decades of designing cars?

“I get very anxious about staying creative. I start worrying I’m not thinking freely enough. But I go away for a week – it sometimes works ­­– and I listen to the music I used to listen to when I was younger and wanted to change the world. That gets me back into the right frame of mind, and I become inspired.”

Little Bullet block fires up memories and dragsters

It powered the Nissan Skylines and Patrols in the 1980s and was used by Holden in the VL Commodore in 1986. Now a small automotive company, not far from Holden’s soon to close Elizabeth plant in Adelaide, is helping to revive the fortunes of the classic RB30 engine.

Bullet Race Engineering has launched a billet aluminum RB30 engine block machined from solid 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum that the company says is lighter, stronger and more rigid than the original cast block. All of which allows the block to withstand outputs of up to 2500hp compared with the 153hp output of the original VL Commodore, or a touch over 200hp in the turbo model.

The RB30 can be ordered in wet or dry deck configuration to suit circuit racing, time attack or drag racing, which must be a good combination as the company claim to have already sold 50 units and is flat out keeping up with demand.

According to founder and managing director Darren Palumbo, the block’s dual application for racing and everyday Commodore and Nissan enthusiasts has really expanded the market.

“They mainly go into Nissan Skylines and VL Commodores, but then we have some purpose-built drag cars. It’s the same product that basically would run a world record drag quarter mile, but people can also have it in the vehicle that they drive on the weekend, or they go on car cruises in.”

“I’ve got one going out to Germany next week for a dragster, there’s another one in Malta in a dragster. They are suffering from the same problem as everyone else with the longevity of the iron block, so they change to ours.”

Well known in the 1980s and 1990s, the Nissan RB30 engines are still widely celebrated in Australia and Darren reckons nostalgia for Nissan Skylines and VL Commodores had played a big part in creating the opportunity.

“That’s what creates the enthusiasts in the first place. There wouldn’t be a market if people didn’t still feel that way. There’s the 4WD scene that’s probably come from Jim Richards in the Skylines at Bathurst, but the VL scene is a whole separate deal where the guys when they were younger always wanted a VL turbo and then it just becomes how long is a piece of string.

Holden will close its South Australian assembly plant in October, bringing an end to the state’s long history of large-scale car production, but Darren sees a future for niche automotive manufacturers.

“It isn’t dead but what we’re doing is the only way to survive, otherwise you are just competing with the Chinese. It’s got to be super hi-tech, difficult to do and relatively small volume: a large company will say they are not interested if they are not doing 1000 or more units.”

Bullett is planning to expand its operations in the near future to cope with the growing demand. At the moment every block manufactured is pre-sold, but the company has plans to double production by moving to larger premises and adding more machinery.

 


RENAULT has added a diesel-powered model to its Koleos medium SUV range. The new model will be on sales in September for around $48,000 alongside the company’s new-look Clio RS Sport @ $30,990 and Clio RS Cup @ $32,490.
The new PEUGEOT 3008 small SUV has gained a five-star Ancap safety rating on its 1.6 and 2.0 litre diesel and 1.6 litre petrol variants on sale in Australia and New Zealand.
BMW AUSTRALIA has released the following price list for its new 2 Series Coupe and Convertible range: 220i Coupe $52,900; 230i Coupe $63,000; M240i Coupe $76,800; 220i Convertible $59,900; $85,800– plus all the usual dealer charges and taxes.
SUBARU has added three new pop-ups in Eastland Shopping Centre (Vic), Westfield Chatswood (NSW) and Queen Street Mall, Brisbane and is boosting its Model Year 2018 AWD Levorg line-up with the addition of turbocharged 1.6-litre variants plus an STI Sport model.
The new NISSAN LEAF will feature an improved, more efficient aerodynamic design allowing the vehicle to travel farther on a single charge and will be lower to the ground, which should result in ‘zero lift’ and more stability at high speeds.
MITSUBISHI’S new Eclipse Cross has completed what is termed a gruelling Australian workout in readiness for its market debut later this year.
JAGUAR’S I-Pace Concept has been named Most Significant Concept Vehicle of 2017 at the 16th North American Concept Vehicle Awards. The company’s all-electric performance SUV won the Production Preview Concept of the Year category.
Just in time for summer, MERCEDES-AMG has launched its AMG GT and GT C Roadster soft tops with a price range of: Coupé  $258,711; Roadster $283,711; S Coupé $298,711; C Edition 50 Coupé $335,211; C Roadster $338,711; R Coupé $348,711, plus, plus, plus….
HONDA has jazzed up its Jazz range with a host of goodies including a new front and rear bumpers, new front grille, bi-LED headlights with LED high and low beam, LED daytime running lights, 16-inch alloys and a heap of new colours. Available later this year.