Posts tagged ‘Four Wheels’

I’ve got to admit, I’ve seen stranger ideas for hybrid cars…

I had a really good weekend.

When most people say that they had a great weekend you assume that there was boozing and whoring or maybe fun and adventure. At a pinch, relaxation and serenity.

I think we all know I’m not ‘most people’. Saturday I drove 222 miles. Sunday I drove 210 miles.

You’re now assuming that I drove From Barcelona to Monte Carlo in a 1960s open top sports car, with Matt Monroe in the passenger seat and a beautiful woman on the radio.

Yeah… that’s not what happened.

Saturday I drove the A14 and the M6 to Birmingham and then on Sunday I drove all the way to sunny Gatwick. With a trailer!

I need to explain a little… Some time ago I used to drive a Toyota Carina. It was a horrible thing. Slow and underpowered, but willing to go when poked with a pointy stick. Until it died. An engine comes in two parts – a bit that stays still and another bit that goes back and forth. The Carina died when some of the ‘staying still’ bit started moving and quite a bit of the moving back and forth bit stopped. It wasn’t pretty.

Anyway, at this point I fell unconditionally and helplessly in love with my brother’s car (that’s wasn’t the word you were expecting, was it?). So, I drove four hours from Cambridge to Blackburn to buy an identical one. A wonderful little car that isn’t desperately fast but which doesn’t need to slow down much for the corners.

My little silver car looks just like this but, well, silver...

Then, both my grandparents got ill so I bought a Skoda Octavia. Faster, but the kind of car where you have to slow down for corners. And that made it dull to me. Most upsettingly, my wife stole the little silver car.

So… on Saturday I went to Birmingham and bought a second Little Car – 80k miles, a beautifully tight engine and gearbox, and finished in the metalic green paint that I rather like. Yeah, I know… I’ve heard it before. Two people, three cars. Ah fuckit. I can only drive one at a time and the ‘sensible’ car I drive does 50mpg…

Anyway… Sunday I drove down to Gatwick and stuck GB, her mum, her sister and her sister’s bloke on a plane to Egypt. Which wasn’t actually the reason it was a good day, but it’s a good point to leave this post…

Apr 2010
Girls are evil

I have a nemesis…

I drove to work today in “little car” – our small hot-hatch. I drove the back roads to work and enjoyed myself immensely. Nothing desperately illegal, just enthusiastic driving.

Most of the way I had a little dark blue Ford Fiesta keeping perfect distance from me. When I overtook, it did. When I took the racing line, it did. When I clipped the apex, it did. When I dipped down onto the A14, it did. When I made a sprint past a lorry, it did. When I came back up the slip road, it did.

The lights turned red ahead of us. There are three lanes – two to turn left and one to go right. Lane 1 is taken. I stop on the line in lane 2. The Fiesta stops on the line in lane three.

I glance to the right and the driver who’s been playing road games with me is a beautiful lass in her early twenties, who smiles and gives me a thank you nod.

I nod back, and look back towards the lights.

A few moments later, she briefly beeps her horn. I look towards her. She smiles at me and winks. Then accelerates past the light as it turns green, cuts across, and goes left down ‘my’ lane.

They’re evil, I tell you…

Obviously, this is a work of fiction. I’d never do anything like that…

Another interesting progression is the step from one version of the same range to the next. The VW Golf shows an almost natural evolution in its appearance. Darwin would be proud…

The Mark 1 Golf is one of those truly iconic cars for people my age. The GTI was on the scene just as I was starting to realise that it wasn’t just the supercars that were worth drooling over.

[ All images taken from the Wikipedia VW Golf article ]

Mark I (1974-1984)

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Jul 2009
Family face – Volvo

My grandfather was famous for his inability to identify shapes – he was banned from holding a gun during the war because he couldn’t tell the difference between our planes and the German ones. He was delighted by my (incredibly geeky) ability to identify the manufacturer of oncoming cars by the shapes of their grill.

It’s interesting (no, really) to compare the front of certain marques over time…

First up, is 40 years of Volvo…

Volvo 140 series (1966–1974)

[ creative commons picture from flickr user Schockwellenreiter ]
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The government has decided to ‘help’ the car industry by giving a £2000 discount on new cars if you scrap a car that’s more than 10 years old.

The discount will be funded 50/50 by the government and the industry.

Before you party too much, lets take a look at the figures…

You know that £2000 50/50? Well, car manufacturers are amongst the only industry to have put their list prices up this year. A Ford Focus convertible (for example) is a £1000 more expensive than last year. That £1000 that will now be discounted in this scheme.

You know the carbon that this will save? Well, lets assume you drive a ten year old Jeep Cherokee 3.7l Automatic – you know, a good low emissions car. That chugs through 333g of carbon/km. Replacing it with a new car will generate 10-20000lb of carbon. I’ll do the maths for you… you could do 17,000miles on the carbon generated just by the production of your new car.

Assume you replaced your Jeep with a Prius. That Prius is still generating 103g/km… So with the fuel your Prius has burnt on those 17,000 miles, you could do another 6,000 miles in the Jeep.

You’re looking at over 25,000 miles before the Prius’ even coming close…

So, we’re supporting a crap industry who are ‘discounting’ money they’ve already added while the world is in recession. We’re pumping out carbon for no gain. We’re destroying our future classic cars by crushing good quality cars that have yet to start appreciating back up past the £2000 mark.

I’m really rather disappointed.

I put in a Freedom of Information Act request regarding the 13 miles of speed averaging cameras that monitor the road between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

Like all such cameras they are front facing, so they can’t catch motorbikes and they have to deal with the glare of headlights. This doesn’t seem much like a ‘safety’ measure to me. If you want to encourage safe driving, surely you would want to have an effect at night, when the roads are more dangerous? You’d also want to keep an eye on those soft and squidgy fast moving types on motorbikes, wouldn’t you? If all you were interested in was making some money, wouldn’t you aim the cameras at the front of the cars where you can take photos of the drivers of cars?

So, I asked for information on how many cars, bike and lorries were given fines every months, broken down by time of day. My expectation was that there would be no bikes at all and that cars and lorries wouldn’t be caught at night.

The response came back today.

Cambridgeshire Police have refused the request on the grounds of law and health and safety…

“For camera enforcement to be truly effective there must be the perception that the chances of being recorded are high at all times”.

“The disclosure of specific data on camera sites would make camera deployment less effective, which would impact on the safety of road users at large”

So, in short, they have refused to tell me about the effectiveness of speed cameras on reducing speeding because they don’t work well enough for the data not to make people think they are crap.

Well done boys…

Is this the most beautiful car in the world ever?

Do I now need to disable comments…? Hmmm…