Aston Martin Racing Is Ten Years Old

By Tim Smith

It may be slightly odd that a company like Aston Martin should choose to go racing. The fact is, AM make large, heavy, Grand Touring cars, that, given some time on the track, may amuse, but ultimately would never quite hold together the qualities of a great ‘track car’.

Racing, though, is as varied as the manufacturers that take part. Where you have a horse, you are bound to find a course.

Looking to promote the then new DB9, AM decided they should send it racing. After all, AM had some history in distance racing, and, to a certain extent, what better grand tour to test your cars on than a race that lasts for 24 hours.

DBR9_Le Mans_2008_01

So, 2004, AM send a race homologated DB9 into the maelstrom. The DBR9 wins its first race at the Sebring 12 hours. A famously punishing track, located on an old US Army Air Force base, combining surface changes and rough, difficult corners, this was no small achievement.

The following races, were less than smooth, though. The DBR9 suffered fuelling problems that saw them consistently over come by that all American middle-class hero, the Corvette.

As with all things, though, the key to success was perseverance. In 2007, the DBR9, after grinding away, moving up the ranks and securing points, took a class win at that most important of endurance races, Le Mans.

DBR9_Le Mans_2008_03

It repeated the success the following year. More importantly, every privateer with a DBR9 managed to finish the race distance.

Looking for an outright Le Mans win, AM, in partnership with Lola, constructed an LMP1 car, the B09/60 or, as the PR people would have it, the DBR1-2.

During a year when both Peugeot and Audi were fielding mighty diesel-powered LMP1′s with greater range and better torque, the B09/60 finished highest in among the petrol driven cars.

DBR1-2_Nurburgring_2009_01

There in, lay the problem, though. The B09/60 ran an evolution of the DBR9′s V12, itself based on the production V12′s that rumble around the moneyed streets of towns and cities around the world. It was becoming obvious that to win, you’d need either a diesel or some very expensive looking hybrid technology. AM didn’t and don’t produce a diesel engine, have no plan to, nor, for the time being at least, do they have access to a competitive hybrid program. So they pulled out.

It makes sense for AM to concentrate on production based racing. they are small. Teams like Audi and Porsche are part of enormous country class business’ but it is also important to remember that they hail from the same continent class business.

Maybe, just maybe, with the new deal that *seems* to be going through with AMG we might just see an AM prototype again, and, perhaps, the fight could be taken right to VW’s enormous door.

In the mean-time raise whatever beverage you have to hand to ten years of Aston Martin Racing, and ten more years of success for one of the hardest working teams in the world.

10 years of AMR

 

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Get Your Looking Gear ‘Round This Fisker Designed Motorbike

By Tim Smith

Henrik Fisker, turns out, wasn’t able to forge a new car manufacturer, no matter how cool his designs were.

Still, other industrialists, namely one Anders Kirk Johanson, a member of the Lego dynasty, are happy to give him access to the stationary cupboard, and all our eyes can be thankful for that.

Smooth, with a capital Ooo.

Smooth, with a capital Ooo.

That is new concept bike designed by Fisker, goes by the name of Viking Concept, powered by a 45-degree V-twin, shouting 100bhp to all you pass.

Paging Dr Freud...

Paging Dr Freud…

Much is made in the release that this 299kg hunk of showing off is EU IV compliant. It’s the first motorcycle to meet the new emmision guidelines. I’m not sure someone paying the sort of money that buys you the Viking’s bigger brother would care, but it shows commitment from the little manufacturer.

V-twin is V-twinny.

V-twin is V-twinny.

Like it? Let Lauge Jenson know, and they might build it for you.

Oh, and if you’re Wayne Rooney, you have a picture of yourself on your motorcycle, because of course you do.

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Land Rover Show’s Us How A Real Concept Car Should Look

By Tim Smith

AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE YOU WILL BE ABLE TO REMOTELY CONTROL YOUR CAR. I REPEAT, AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE YOU WILL BE ABLE TO REMOTELY CONTROL YOUR CAR.

I suppose it’s an obvious off-shoot of the whole autonomous car thing. If you can sit back and relax while it takes you to London, or Munich, or Paris, or Stroud or someplace, and  it can go and find a parking space, then come back when you need it, then *surely* there would be room to tap into that and actually control your vehicle for things like erm… well, you know…

This and six other technologies feature on the Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept. Now *that’s* what I call a concept car.

The video above gives most of the information you need in short terms, but to bullet point (because everybody loves a good list) is to be closer to god. Yes it is.

1. The next generation of Terrain Response features a Klingon officer, an Android and an empath who wears tight costumes that… no wait. Terrain Response, that’s where I was.

The new terrain response programme uses infrared LASERS that scan the road/track/school field ahead, and activate the appropriate Terrain Response program. Terrain Response.

Holy topological take down, Batman

Holy topological take down, Batman.

2. An autonomous driving system that allows the driver to remotely control the car. The example given is for obstacles that you may encounter that cannot be easily navigated from the inside of the vehicle. Actually getting out of the car to get a better vantage point could help you see that sump busting rock, or where to find that last bit of grip. Takes away the fun if your our mucking about, but if you’ve actually got to be somewhere, or someone is relying on you (say you’re the UN or an emergency service) then it all starts to make more sense.

A real world example, something closer to the everyday, is being able to back the vehicle onto a trailer or trailer hitch. If you’re one of the posho’s who’s likely to buy one of these machines, this could actually mean something.

Yes, and yes.

Yes, and yes.

3. Smart Glass. Yep, it’s everywhere in our collective gadgety minds at the moment. Are we going to look like total morons when we’re all walking around looking into our glasses and talking? Probably. This, however, scales it up car-sized.

So, all of the glass in the Vision Concept is smart. Coupling this to head-up displays and it can be used to ‘see’ stuff that would normally be hidden by the bulk of the car. The PR gives an example of someone driving past the Empire State Building and being able to access Wikipedia via the windows in the car, blending augmented reality with a touch screen interface. I-Drive is about to look somewhat archaic.

4. Gesture and voice control, something that has been around for while now, now comes with a new twist. Land Rover write that the ‘in the next 25 years we will use gaze and biometrics to interact with the vehicle’. Perhaps a reactive climate control system? A sensor that detects where you are looking and indicates when you forget?

5. ‘The transparent bonnet

6. LASER COMMIUNICATIONS. Yes, it’s always justified (for the time being, at least) to use caps when there are LASERS involved. In this case, the new LASER lighting tech can be used to project messages onto the road ahead or behind. Perhaps a large warning triangle, or an image of a man about to blow chunks, if someone is about to blow chunks out of the side of the car. Or a giant penis to indicate that the driver is a giant penis.

Yes, what the police find offensive will be the limit. I’d put a significant amount of money on this being a popular thing in the modified car scene…

This picture doesnt show what I was talking about in the previous paragraph. I promise you, it's a thing.

This picture doesn’t show what I was talking about in the previous paragraph. I promise you, it’s a thing.

7. Some water proof surfaces and seats. Not so ground breaking, this one, but seven is definitely a cooler number than six. FACT.

*All* the washable seats.

*All* the washable seats.

Take note, everybody else, giving a something a stoopid name and saying it’s a groundbreaking concept car is effectively a lie.

Now, who’s for wondering whether any of this tech will actually work on your totally reliable JLR product?

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Monday Long Termer, Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 Life: 14/04/14′

By Nathan Green

The trusty Corsa continues to serve me perfectly well and has, yet again, couriered me, my belongings (not all of them) and my friends (some of them) around for another seven days without any mechanical or electrical problems.

Unfortunately, sometime in the last few days, an unknown nemesis scored the side of the Long Termer Corsa with, I’d imagine, the key to his or her 1 bed flat above a boarded-up shop on Shit Street in the centre of a local town.

Welcome to Nathan Green's Wonderful World Of Car Parks As Seen Through The Paint Work Of Cars That Have Been Keyed. Better known as NGWWOCPASTTPOCTHBK.

Welcome to Nathan Green’s Wonderful World Of Car Parks As Seen Through The Paint Work Of Cars That Have Been Keyed. Better known as NGWWOCPASTTPOCTHBK. In this edition we have that great Mastodon of the road, the VW Passat.

I’m sorry to stereotype but, seriously, what kind of monumental moron keys a car? It’s a vile act of vandalism, right up there with kicking off wing mirrors, happy slapping and deliberately smashing windows. Am I annoyed? Of course I am. The Corsa may not technically be my car but I drive it every day and do feel some sense of ownership over it.

What will I do about it? Well, part of me wants to dedicate all of my spare time the kind of seek and destroy campaign John Rambo would be proud to plan and undertake, with the desirable outcome involving inflicting severe pain, resulting in some light scarring to the body and heavy psychological trauma to the brain.

Here, you can quite clearly see some foliage.

Here, you can quite clearly see some foliage.

I honestly do not understand why any person would enact revenge in such a cowardly manner. I assume it is an act of revenge because a) I have annoyed many people over the course of my lifetime and b) it is absolutely absurd to think that someone would key a car without any reason whatsoever.

Please tell me I’m not alone in thinking this? What kind of pathetic existence would result in keying cars as a hobby? As if any person on this planet is so lonely and bored that they go out of an evening and run their keys down the side of someone else’s vehicle.

Four times.

photo 3

Note how the foliage contrasts with the blue sky.

So, some recommendations to the reprobate who committed this disgusting crime against me: Go and buy an Etch a Sketch and twist the knobs until you’ve drawn something that resembles anything. Or maybe buy a colouring book. May I suggest you start with a ‘paint by numbers’ format so as not to overwhelm your massively under-developed brain? If neither of these work for you I would suggest, as a last resort, handing yourself in to the police. If you tell them about all of the naughty things you have done, they might provide you with a new “room”, complete with your own friend, a television (with the TV Licence actually paid), three square meals a day and a gymnasium where you can let out your inner anger in a productive way.

Anyway, what will I actually do? Not a lot. Probably just add the cost of fixing the damage to the already long list of problems that have previously been quoted for repair. Yes, I have been known to lose my temper and seek out those who commit such crimes but I don’t have the time to be a vigilante.

A man in a blue jumper not, in fact, taking a selfie. And some windows. That completes this weeks edition of NGWWOCPASTTPOCTHBK. See you next week!

A man in a blue jumper not, in fact, taking a selfie. And some windows. That completes this weeks edition of NGWWOCPASTTPOCTHBK. See you next week!

Lord knows I’d be happy to see justice served to this unknown member of our society but, as Martin Luther King once said, “I have decided to love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Count your blessings my friend and please, try not to sin again. I am happy to allow your fate to be decided by karma however, the next person you inconvenience with your illegal actions may not be so forgiving.

Weekly Mileage- 289

Fuel Cost: £25

Repair cost: £0         Key scratch damage £TBC

Repair costs (2014)- £849

 

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The New Lexus NX Looks Quite Good From The Back

By Tim Smith

These are the first official pictures released into the great big wide world of the new Lexus NX.

Looks a bit like a dog about to sneeze.

Looks a bit like a dog mid-sneeze.

What do you think? I think it looks, well, challenging. A bit sort of, well, aggressive. Do high-riding-heavy-eat-you-and-your-friends/family-if-you-happen-to-collide-with-it-type-cars really need to look aggressive? I’m not sure.

Get out of my way, poor people.

Get out of my way, poor people.

The announced engine range will be atmo (NX200) and turbo (NX200t) 2-litre petrols with a hybrid, badged 300h, also probably with a 2 litre engine.

‘UK power-train line-up (makes them sound like they’ve done a robbery on someone) will be confirmed in the near future’. A Diesel, then. Because, as Lexus keeps learning, if you don’t offer a Diesel in the European market you can say good beddy byes to any type of significant market share.

I actually really like the interior. Watch out Audi.

I actually really like the interior. Watch out Audi.

We can all bet whatever our bottom favoured means of currency is that it will be loaded with toys/extras/the only way I can actually extend the battery range of my phone beyond about 45 minutes as standard. One of these helpful pieces of tech is a ‘wireless charging tray for portable devices’. Which, if I’m honest I’d probably get super excited about, more so than almost anything else about the car. Well, maybe not more than the hybrid drivetrain.

Either way, the back and the interior look cool, eh?

The back. My favourite angle.

The back. My favourite angle.

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I Have No Idea What Peugeot Are Saying But Something Looks Good.

By Tim Smith

Listen, we all have our own dogmatic ways of speaking. It gets us by. It makes us feel important in our tiny little bubbles of life and work. I get it. I do it myself.

But.

‘With its sleek and athletic lines, EXALT embodies the power of PEUGEOT design. Sitting on wide tracks and powerfully rounded wheel arches, this five-door saloon expresses its style over a length of 4.70m. The alliance of flat surfaces and straight cut lines reconciles aggressiveness and softness.’

Holy mother of lions that’s some language right there. Also, the name, EXALT. IN CAPS.

How about this:

‘PEUGEOT EXALT is athletic, powerful and sleek, incorporating original materials. Its cabin, trimmed in natural materials, is dedicated to comfort and instinctive driving. This innovative concept makes the saloon even more attractive and more versatile, in particular the boot with its unique opening mechanism exposing a large boot.’

It has a large boot.

I know, how about we just look at it?

Better than words.

Better than words.

That brushed panel look is because the body was hand beaten (ahem). Which, actually, is quite cool.

I think you may agree it looks quite good, and from the emphasis in the release, this car is allll about China.

Power-train is, as you’d expect, a hybrid. A 270bhp version of the PSA THP 1.6 engine that you can find in quite a lot of things that have either Lion, Double Chevron or MINI badge on the front or back is coupled to a 50kW electric motor featuring brake energy recovery. Total power output is claimed to be 340bhp.

EXALT_1403KL001

Maybe a bit wider than words as well.

It looks really quite good, and is most likely a preview of something China-bound. That market is currently paying quite a lot of people’s mortgages, so this is probably a great move by PSA.

Just, you know, show us some love over here in jolly ol’ Europe, too. Oh, and let the work do the talking…

 

 

 

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Land Rover Create See-Through Car. Sort Of. Not Really.

By Tim Smith

Land Rover will unveil the Discovery Vision Concept (or the what-the-new Discovery-will-probably-look-like-concept, if you’re a normal person) at next weeks New York International Motor Show.

So far, the images have been limited to line drawings that remind me of that sticker job on that Lambo spotted in Londonium, or that GTR I saw somewhere, probably on Twitter. Or something.

A Lamborgini and a police-man in leather trousers.

A Lamborghini and a police-man in leather trousers.

Anyways, line descriptions aside, Land Rover have been having a bit of a boast about some new technology, that with all of the honesty of frank (whomever he, she, or it was) I believe they have every human given right to.

(Lazy Tron based joke)

(Lazy Tron based joke)

The graphic above goes some way to explain the idea. Camera’s mounted on the grill can scan the area below the driver’s field of vision giving better visibility, and, as a result, allowing for better obstacle avoidance.

Now, as we all know, most Land Rovers will never be used too far from the road. The obvious everyday use of this technology is parking. Can’t see the where the white line is? You can now. And this got me thinking.

Spot the duplicate rock from the camera being mounted too high...

Spot the duplicate rock from the camera being mounted too high…

You see, last week I was able to drive a Honda CRV. I liked it. I mean, not liked it, but similar to most things I’ve driven from Honda it had an actually great drive-train surrounded by an okay package.

One thing I did notice, though, something that must afflict all tall passenger vehicles was a terrifying lack of visibility out the back window. You could lose a short person pushing a pushchair back there. Or someone in a wheel chair. Or a whole school of orphans.

David Icke, it was scary.

So what about using this new tech to create all round visibility? You could see through the boot, see that bollard or child and simply not do any running over. Hell, if we’re feeling a bit fruity you could even have see-through doors and floor… A job for Google glass?

Think about it, eventually windows could be a thing that old people talk about. We’d all drive around in perfectly tear dropped featureless and colourless machines. All hooked in and being fed ideas from advertisers about the outside world.

Actually, let’s not think about that for a bit. I think I may go for a walk.

Comments below.

 

 

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