29 May, 2008

Nobody mention the Corvette Stingray

If you spend an inordinate amount of time trawling the interweb pipes for stuff about cars (nope? just me then...) then you'll probably already know that the uber-successful Top Gear format has been sold off to foreign climes.

And yea there was a great wailing and knashing of teeth from the USA. For you see - enthusiastic american petrolheads are already enjoying Top Gear on the BBC World channel or some such and they like it just fine thanks. They like the sarcasm and they like Clarkson(!?) and they'll even put up with the odd slur on US iron. What they fear is an airbrushed bland-fest hosted by Jay Leno that is afraid to say anything that might upset automakers or big oil.

There is perhaps less of a chance of losing that informal blokeish quality when Top Gear goes into production in Oz.

TOP GEAR AUSTRALIA — HOSTS REVEALED After an Australia-wide call out, 4,000 DVD applications and months of interviews and screen tests, SBS and Freehand are pleased to announce the hosts for Top Gear Australia - Charlie Cox, Warren Brown, Steve Pizzati and of course, The Stig.

Charlie Cox you may already know as the sarcastic convict type who does the commentary on MotoGP for the Beeb. So no worries there then mate! It's unclear who's taking on Clarkson's mantle - they could have trouble finding a brash, outspoken reactionary racist in Australia so they may tweak the odd feature.

Star in a reasonably priced car. Well you've got a problem right there mate, Oz apparently only has three stars and they appear in every flamin' thing. This may have to become A Minogue in a Range Rover Vogue (there's bound to be enough extended family to make at least 3 series).

Cool Wall. Rating cool? From a hanger full of blokes in singlets wearing knee socks and boots sporting mullets? I don't think so either. Welcome to The Wall of Crikey! Pretty self explanatory cobber.

You can expect a race across the outback featuring Utes, hoonage and dodgy jokes about abo's any day soon. Three drink minimum.

27 May, 2008

Hot Fuzz, tepid hatch

Plod - and they certainly will plod when they use it, have a new motor, a Peugeot 308 1.6 diesel.

The pugs are due out on patrol this month in the UK once Peugeot’s Special Vehicle Operation (PSVO) in Coventry have performed all the necessary changes to the standard car. The work includes flashing blue lights natch, nice loud wee wahs and all the rest of the kit.

Andy Bye, Manager of PSVO, said; “The 307 has been a success with UK Police fleets, and the improvements in the new 308 mean we have a very competitive proposition. Police forces are increasingly mindful of the operational cost of running a fleet, and their impact upon the environment. The Peugeot 308 HDi 90 S combines low emissions and strong fuel economy, without compromising its role

Apparently the Peeler's request sheet for their new ride specified that it must be capable of being driven over a ploughed field at 30mph by a man wearing a tall black tit on his head without spilling a confession out of the chav on the rear passenger seat.

The distinctly stinky gallic diesel may also have an effect on the driver training dished out by the rozzers too. High speed pursuit skills are out, in their place comes lessons in slipstreaming lorries down the péage and never, ever using the brakes. Ever. It remains unclear whether leaving a single indicator flashing, smoking a pipe and leaving an arm lolling out the widow will be mandatory.

21 May, 2008

Call centred

Vic Roads is Victoria, Australia's equivalent of the DVLA.

This fella is phoning up to try and book a driving test as far as I can tell - I think that's what's going on as it's delivered in a torrent of weapons grade profanity that will likely make you flinch. Definitely not safe for work unless you use headphones, and even then the subtitles are a little strong.

The best bit is the natural Australian idiom of calling the fella mate which is at odds with the rest of the furious tirade.

I'd imagine this kind of call to the DVLA would get you 3 months without the option in Blighty.

08 May, 2008

Breaker breaker

What happens to a car once its been pranged beyond repair? Off to the breakers yard it goes, and if its a piece of Italian exotica it may end up at Eurospares.

I'd like to know what proportion of accidents result in a write-off for supercars compared to their not quite so super brethren. The accident can happen at much higher speeds, and with tyre contact patches of the 'garden roller' variety those things grip forever... right up to the part where they don't Ooohhhh shhhiiitt!. They are also often made of super cool materials that make repairs difficult and expensive.

Having secured a six-figure bonus for running a bank into the ground doesn't improve one's driving skills unfortunately, but the good news is that if it was a small accident you might be able to secure some bits for your prancing pony at a significant reduction.

Along with the usual suspect Fezzas and Lambos there are some rarer wrecks - though the presence of this is somewhat worrying...

It suggests that there may be somebody out there restoring a Maserati Kyalami -one of the most cynical pieces of badge engineered Italian shitboxes ever to have it's electric windows pack up and start dissolving as it rolled off the line.

02 May, 2008


Fourteen years to the day since Ayrton Senna died. Another one of those things that makes you say to yourself "wow, where did all that time go". Roland Ratzenberger had died two days before in qualifying but its understandable that this was overshadowed by Senna's accident at Imola during the race.

It's odd to think that there are motorsports fans now who whilst clearly having heard of Senna never saw him race whilst he was alive - in the same way that Fangio, Ascari and countless other racing legends exist for me in an odd sepia tinted land marked 'History' - I can try and contextualise their achievements and read about their exploits but its always at a remove, a second-hand experience.

I've just watched Sennas last lap on YouTube and its still remarkably upsetting, like Titanic we all know how it ends and there is a horrible feeling as you see Tamburello approaching click here if you want to see it.

Better to remember the classic opening lap at a rain-lashed Donnington the previous year.