25 September, 2007

Danish hardcore mover

I have a lingering fondness for the El Camino, and when I say El Camino I'm referring to the whole genre of car styled pickup. There's even a subculture of enthusiasts who convert unassuming cars to make Xxxxxamino's [where Xxxxxx is your donor car].

To those uninitiated in the minutiae of vehicle design an El Camino is what (My Name is) Earl Hickey rolls in. And it was a considered piece of automotive casting. The El Camino is the vehicular equivalent of the mullet - business at the front, party in the back. Both mullets and El C's are strangely popular in the Southern states and in Australia, where they are referred to as Ute's.

And now it seems that wherever the mullet lives on the car'amino will thrive. Denmark enjoys a taxation system that might be characterised as punitive when it comes to cars. So to get around the tax burden Danes transform cars into pickups liable for a fraction of the taxes.

Audi’s official Denmark site lists the 2008 Audi TT Coupe at 637,895 Danish Krones or £60,000 ($120,500)! And that's for the frankly, shit, 2.0 TFSI 6-speed. Expect to pay 805,492 DK for the TT 3.2 V6 FSi.

Mullets and El Caminos. Like poverty they will always be with us.

21 September, 2007

Clever suspenders

Active suspension suspension has been around for a while, Colin Chapman was an early advocate, a man never afraid of trying a new technology to get his race cars faster. Lotus never got the system working on their roadcars but as with so many things these days contemporary computing power makes it possible.

So far, so worthy but dull. The following clip demonstrates the advantages of active suspension in a typically dry fashion but wait for it... it ends with a party trick that will have every red blooded man saying "Man, I gotta have me one of those, that is super cool"

17 September, 2007

Driver Alert

Volvo has long been associated with safety, and the firm has announced new features for the S80, XC70, and V70 that aim to keep the link alive. Among the new systems that should be available at the end of 2007 are 'Collision Warning with Auto Brake' which automatically activates the brakes if the driver doesn't react to the warnings and the 'Driver Alert Control' for monitoring the behavior of the vehicle and suggesting that the motorist take a coffee break if there's just too much swaying going on.

They still continue to overlook safety upgrades that would be of great benefit to road users in Britain who have to share road space with Volvo drivers. A system that detects two junctions in a row where the driver has indicated left and then turned right which would automatically disable the car and inform the DVLA. And bi-focal windscreens.

13 September, 2007

How to buy a new car without being ripped off

11 September, 2007

Research? Sure it is

If you're open and honest about the fact that you have a certain sexual peccadillo or fetish you may be surprised to learn that it's pretty common. In fact you're more likely to be ashamed at the tedious normality of it all.

Or you could build an intricate web of deception that only fools yourself.

If you ever wondered why American car firm GM is going down the toilet wonder no more. Apparently rather than employ some women, or even do the smallest amount of market research with females (a fairly large market I think you'll agree) they dress the engineers in womens clothing and see how they get on using the products.

GM vehicle line director Mary Sipes: "We took our group to the proving grounds and broke them into teams. One guy on each team had to be Mr. Mom. We dressed him in a garbage bag to simulate a tight skirt. We gave him rubber gloves with press on nails, a purse, a baby and a baby stroller and some chores like loading groceries."

"We had a lot of laughs," said Sipes, "but the men's awareness of how women function in the vehicle really changed."

Mark Cieslak, vehicle chief engineer for full-size trucks/hybrids: "You had to manipulate the key fob, open the car door and dial in a radio station wearing those fake fingernails. It was an experience,"

I bet it was Mark, I bet it was.

03 September, 2007

It's a big machine

The piece 'Short Ride in a Fast Machine' (Fanfare for Great Woods), composed by John Coolidge Adams is one of the most frequently requested and performed contemporary classical pieces. It was commissioned for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's opening concert at the Great Woods Festival in 1986.

The first time it was due to be played at the Last Night of the Proms it was quickly removed after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. The second time it was scheduled to appear just days after September 11, 2001 and was cancelled once again.

On an entirely unrelated note today I shall be busy requesting it's inclusion in the concert and also organising a turbocharged minibus for the 'TV Commissioning Editors Ball'.

02 September, 2007

Artistic license

Clearing out my parent's loft I've found the ideal thing to decorate the batcave and give it the vintage petrolhead chic that is so hard to achieve.

The license plate from the first motorcycle I bought. Cool.

I certainly felt supercool popping around on it once I'd had it customised to my satisfaction - what the custom motorcycle crowd call a Bobber: "a motorcycle that has had many of the stock accessories removed to reduce weight or to present a 'clean' or minimalist aesthetic". I just explained that I wanted it to look clean, low and British Racing Green please. The license plate was surplus to requirements once the details had been painted onto the radically remodelled rear mudguard but was far to cool to throw away.

Back in those days an Enfield Bullet 500cc export was pretty much the fastest vehicle on the road in India. And as mine was stripped of weight I figured that it must be just about the quickest bike in the country, certainly the best looking.

Trivia fans note... Indian license plates start with a two letter state code, so everyone can tell that my Bullet was registered in Tamil Nadu, probably in the state capital Chennai (formerly Madras) where it was made.

I routinely have a hankering to buy one again back here in good old Blighty - but I have my suspicions that it might be better to fondly remember it than go and ruin everything by riding one in the UK.