Renault boiler lets off steam. Aston Martin brews up something special. And in our hearts the dreams are still the same

It lets off a lot of steam that quickly evaporates so it is perhaps a fitting tribute to its racing history that Renault’s latest celebration involves a limited run ‘teapot’! Yes, that’s right one of those things you fill with water and wait for it to boil, much like the RS01.
Apparently, it’s all to do with Renault being the first to feature a turbo compressed engine in F1 racing 40 years ago, which along with a heap of other new technologies resulted in the car often being seen streaming white smoke due to engine problems.

All of which lead to team boss Ken Tyrrell referring to the RS01 as the ‘Yellow Teapot’ and the nickname stuck. The new teapot reportedly “takes up all the aesthetic codes of the Renault Formula 1 and plays on the design, the graphics and the colours” and features the official paint of Renault’s new RS17 racer.

Starting in September, the teapot will be whistling up customers at the L’Atelier Renault cafe on the Champs-Elysées. So, if this sort of thing really is your cup of tea, you’ll have to get in quick, as Renault seems to reckon that there’s only about 40 fans mug enough to go round to the café, or visit the company’s e-shop and fork out $A160 for an old boiler.

Aston Martin brews up something special

Whilst on the subject of a ‘new brew’, Aston Martin has stunned the automotive world with its latest offering that is silent and creates zero emissions. It’s also much smaller than the average AM, but perfectly formed for winding it’s way around the narrow streets of London, provided they’re on a hill as the designers have swapped internal combustion for gravity.

But it’s no use rushing out and stumping up the enormous amount of cash that Aston Martin usually squeezes out of its customers for ‘limited’ editions, as this little number will never appear in a showroom near you.

In fact, this super little ‘billy cart’, based on the V8 Vantage GTE, won’t appear anywhere else but in the Red Bull Soapbox Race London where it was just beaten into second place by a Team Brooklands Special. Oh well, better luck next year.

And that improved performance could come from the company’s new, completely street legal Valkyrie AM-RB001, which should look something like this when it takes the chequered flag at next year’s Soapbox Race.

We know these sorts of vehicles are basically a bit of bullshit, but once a petrolhead, always a petrolhead. And the AM-RB001 is the sort of sniff that gives you a real buzz!

The ‘look’ is the work of Marek Reichman, head clay maker at Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing’s Adrian Newey is responsible for the insane underbody setup that draws as much air as possible over the shapely carbon fibre diffuser through twin venturi tunnels.

It’s the sort of technology and aerodynamic devices deemed too radical for the frustratingly restrictive F1 rule makers, but it brings a number of advantages.

The car develops more than 1.8 tons of downforce at high speed, so the system clearly works, but it also makes for a fascinating profile. There are a lot of interesting cut outs and shapes lurking under the smooth bodywork, but the top of the car is unmistakably an Aston.

The body cleverness extends beyond the underbody, with some beautifully nerdy solutions for saving weight. The headlamps use an anodized aluminum frame to shave between 30-40% from the lightest headlight assembly by AM, and the high-mounted central rear light is said to be the world’s lightest.

A commitment to gram-shaving that borders on the fanatical, results in a badge that at just 70 microns thick is 30% thinner than a human hair.

The seats are mounted directly to the carbon tub and four-point harnesses are standard and the feet-up driving position is reminiscent of modern Le Mans and F1 racers.

Anything that could distract from driving..very, very quickly..has been jettisoned from the dash, leaving three screens and a detachable steering wheel festooned with buttons. Crucial info is displayed on the large OLED screen behind the wheel and compact units on the A-pillars replace conventional rear-view mirrors.

It’s good to see rear-view cameras and screens make the jump from concept to reality, as they offer the sort of all-weather visibility and neat aerodynamics not possible with a regular mirror.

Marek reckons that it’s been a tremendous challenge to make the interior packaging work. “We started from a position where you think something is impossible and work at it until we find a way to make it work. We’ve been fighting for millimeters everywhere, but the battle has been worth it, as it’s been fantastic seeing customers try the interior buck for size.”

Apparently, there’s even room for people in the 98th percentile for height to squeeze in, but no word on how, or if, they can get out. The Valkyrie is set for production next year. Source: Aston Martin

“For in our hearts the dreams are still the same”

Give us a sniff of petrol and it’s back to the Swinging Sixties! Those were the days. When sex sold everything, the pub was full of all sorts of smoke and supercars were really worthy of the name…Well, almost…

Take this magnificent Ferrari 512S Berlinetta Speciale, for instance, which at the time would have drawn such jargon as: Well, Man! That’s Boss! But it didn’t have an engine! So how did it get high above Lake Como for the usual sexist photo shoot? More about that later.

Designed by Filippo Sapino, during his somewhat truncated term at the dancing horse stable, the vehicle both shocked and confused in equal measure when it made its debut at the 1969 Turin Motor Show.

The shock factor came from it being the first Ferrari to receive the ‘wedge’ treatment that became popular in the late 60s; the confusion stemmed from the ‘512S’ moniker, as there was no 5.0-litre V12 to be found beneath the louvres of that rear clamshell.

It wasn’t a 3.0-litre V12 either, despite the Speciale’s underpinnings being rescued from a 312P (chassis #0868) badly damaged in service at the 1000km of Monza. The engine was in fact a 6.0-litre V12 from a 612 Can-Am racer, although even this was sadly an empty block.

Nevertheless, Sapino had made the most of the floor-hugging physique of the chassis, adding some unorthodox surface treatments to visually transform static into supersonic. Flourishes such as the flip-up canopy completed the Speciale’s theatre.

But it was to be another 512S concept that would come to define the wedge-tastic era: Paulo Martin’s Ferrari Modulo of 1970. The Berlinetta Speciale was perhaps more significant for breaking the curvaceous mould of prior road-going Ferraris, while also setting an angluar design precedent for the 365 GTC/4 (also a Sapino design) and the later Berlinetta Boxers.

And that photo shoot? All courtesy of a front end loader and a heap of muscle.

In the words of that other sixties sensation: “Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about. Strawberry Fields forever!”

Now where did I put that can of petrol?








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