Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Car magazines 100 years ago

I am currently reading in an old car magazine, a really old one. It's dated from 1906! Quite fascinating what people were writing about, i.e. about how you start, have you drive threw a bend or how you stop a car. Or what about the perfect clothes to drive a car? Or how about learning to drive in the night? This was a real topic despite the low speed (many countries/states only allowed for 10 km/h) and the minimal amount of traffic. Already in 1906 people were concerned about fuel efficiency! Legal cases around the automobile were hot topics as well. All in all the development since 1906 is amazing!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rare and famous JWF Milano GT for sale in Australia

I just found out through the magazine Octane that Dick Willy's JWF Milano GT is for sale again in Australia. It's probably one of the fastest cars with apparently 300 bhp, it set various speed records in Australia in the 60ies. The price indicated is about right and if anybody is interested in the email address to send an offer, then just get back to me. It's not very often that you can find something like this on the market! There are also two open JWF Milanos for sale currently in Australia, less expensive but also less of a race car than this great GT.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Producing bigger and bigger numbers - what about the collector?

Lamborghini celebrates 10'000 Gallardo's being built. Good for them. But is it good for the buyer and collector? Numbers produced is an important factor when it's about estimating the future value potential of a classic car. While cars like the 350 GT or 400 GT, and even the Jarama have been built in the hundreds, modern super cars get manufactured in the 10'000s and higher. I bet that Gallardos will never become as sought after as a Miura or a 400 GT. Same with modern Ferraris. The 355, but even more the 360 and the 430 have been an enormous sales success. And they usually don't rot away as many of their predecessors have. But none of these cars has reached the bottom of the price curve yet and most of these cars probably will never really gain in value through their live. But let's see ...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Do Sportscars and Hybrid contradict each other?

Among the car manufacturers to push for hybrid technology there are also a number of sportscar companies, i.e. Porsche, Ferrari and others. But, does the combination of a sportscar with hybrid engine technology really make sense? There are quite a number of reasons against it:
(1) Hybrid technology makes a car heavier, easily 50, but most commonly 100-150 kg extra weight. Weight is bad for handling and performance
(2) Hybrid technology only really makes a car save fuel if it allows to shift earlier or to run without the gasoline engine. However, the fun of driving a sportscar often comes with revving the engine and listening to the noise the car makes
(3) Driveability often suffers due to the effect when you use the electrical engine to slow down the car. This has also been a huge issue with KERS in formula 1.
Of course there are also a number of good reasons why adding hybrid technology to a sportscar can make sense, as for example the successful 997 GT3 Hybrid has shown or the future 918 spider will maybe illustrate, but I stay with my opinion that we should rather save weight and come up with simple efficient sportcars that are fun to drive!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Porsche is not a sportscar manufacturer anymore

Porsche isn't a sportscar manufacturer anymore. With 13'906 Panameras and 18'932 Cayennes built in the first 9 month of the current financial year, Porsche built more "standard" cars than sportscars (i.e. 13'137 911 and 7'630 Cayman/Boxters). Surprising, isn't it? What does it tell us? Good brands and a well earned reputation help to sell cars, even if produced in large number and adressing totally different needs. In addition it even works out when the cars are not good looking and vastly expensive for what they offer.
Porsche, please focus on building great sportscars!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Picture of the Week: Women and Cars in advertisement

Here's an example showing that in the second half of the 20iest century a combination of women and cars was key in automobile advertisement. The ad shown here is for GM cars, displaying a Pontiac, an Oldsmobile, an Opel Kapitän and an Opel Rekord. The ad was published in 1957 in Switzerland, when GM cars were actually assembled locally in Bienne and proudly showed "assembled in Switzerland" on a sticker. They woman in the picture at least seems to enjoy driving a GM car.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Peugeot 504 - yet another successful long runner

Here's another one of my leaflets from my collection - the Peugeot 504. You can see from the picture that it's probably a 70ies picture with the Volkswagen Beetle on the right side. Interestingly the star of the leaflet is out of focus. But as a car the Peugeot 504 was a huge success. More than 3 million cars were built in Europe alone between 1968 and 1973 and production continued outside of Europe in various forms until 2002. The 504 was a typical family sedan following traditional engineering routes used for French cars. It was famous for its reliability and durability and many of these cars probably drove through a desert at least once in their life. There as an break/estate version (station car), a pickup and of course the gorgeous coupé and convertible versions. From begin on the car had independent suspensions and disc brakes for all wheels. Designed by Maestro Pininfarina it looked good and survived the long period of production very well. Most people probably have been driving one or being driven in one. Compared to a Citroen DS or an Alfa-Romeo Alfetta this probably was an unexciting drive, but that was good enough for most people. The French police used these cars for many years and in movies you can often see both the villains as well as the good guys chasing each other in a Peugeot 504.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Porsche Carrera 6 for sale in the UK

Duncan Hamilton and Co have this Porsche Carrera 6 for sale! The car apparently comes with substantial history. Based on my research this must be car no 906 129, initially sold to Harrington Ltd, then owned by Michael de Udy (GB) and later by Ridgard, Toledo, Richmond, Tuffli, Hefty and Paul Howell (GB). The car competed in the Tourist Trophy, at Oulton Park in 1966, in the Targa Florio (1966), Le Mans (1966), Spa (1967), Nurburgring 1000 km (1967), and many other events. It was restored some years ago and hopefully they have kept the original steering wheel that still was mounted some years ago, compared to the one installed now. The car apparently comes with FIA papers and road registration (!). The price isn't indicated, but will probably be in the £ 400-700k range.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Singing in the rain, it's a rainy day, rain drops are falling ...

Honestly, this year feels like it is raining a lot, really a lot. June was again quite rainy, May wasn't that much better. So, what can you do? Leave your classic car at home? According to meteorologists rain in June and even in July isn't uncommon, what we have as weather right now doesn't defer from the long running statistics really. It just feels more wet to me, probably. So, it's good if at least one of my classic cars can cope with the rain, guess which one it is ....

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gas station yesterday and today

Where are these men of Texaco today? In the 60ies and 70ies service was a key word at gas stations. The friendly men cleaned your screen, looked for your engine oil and of course filled the tank. Today? Well you do it all yourself, if you actually can do it. More and more gas stations become little shops and people get their bread or meat there, or just beer, mineral water, chocolate or ice cream. And while they shop you can't get to your petrol and you wait and wait and wait. I really wonder whether this is the purpose of a gas station and dream about the good old times as visualized in this commercial from the 50ies.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Forgotten car accessories - the antenna

Many of you will still remember the times when, after buying a car, you went to a car supplies store and you bought an antenna to mount on your car. For this you had to drill a hole into the body and fix the antenna to the car. That was in the sixties and seventies. Many of these mostly manual telescopic antennas were later replaced by automatic telescopic antenna, offering the comfort of automatic activation when you turned on the radio. In the 80ies we started to install GSM phones of the first generations into our cars and an additional antenna was needed. With every new GSM generation typically also a new antenna was needed. In the nineties then and later the different antennas were consolidated and today they usually come with the car as standard equipment. At least me, I haven't installed an antenna lately. And nobody uses telescopic antennas anymore for new cars. Today they look like shark fins or are integrated into the wind screen of the car.
However, old cars still do have these funny antennas and if it's a manual one that needs a key to get it up then hopefully you received the key when you bought the car. The good thing about these old antennas is that they almost last forever, or at least as long as the car.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Audi triumph at Le Mans 2010

Rarely there has been more suspense and excitement at the 24 hours of Le Mans. What looked like a probable victory for the fast Peugeots turned into a threefold triumph for the Audi diesel race cars. What a victory. So much drama. Reliability wins over speed. After 22 hours the last Peugeot disappeared.
What also is clear that not the most beautiful cars have won, but the most efficient and effective package. A surprise is certainly the Ferrari 430 coming in second in GT2 and to some extent the Saleen winning the GT1 class.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Is the Tesla changing the world?

There are more Teslas in Switzerland (per capita) than anywhere else in the world. Actually, you now see them quite often. I have been writing about the Tesla before. It's based on a great car (Lotus Elise) and has been able to retain its donor car's handling excellence despite the extra weight. Combine this great basis with an ecological drivetrain and a courageous choice of battery technology and you actually have a pretty good car. The fact that you now see a Tesla besides an Audi R8 or a Ferrari 458 Italia at the airport lottery (win a great car for just 20 £) supports the assumption that owning a Tesla is quite hip. What do people use the Tesla for? I have no clue. They probably don't use it for traveling (range to narrow) and neither on a race track (you will not be able to complete a lap at the Nurburgring with the Tesla before the battery is empty) and for shopping it's probably not practical neither. So it's rather an item to own (and show) than one to use. Good so, if you can afford it. But there are not enough people in this segment to make Tesla a true success.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Why the Jaguar XJS became important for the Classic Car world

When Jaguar introduced the Jaguar XJS 1975 to replace the E-Type, people cried as the car was so different than an E-Type and to be diplomatic it wasn't really a beauty. Jaguar though built the car for 21 years and actually made it prettier and prettier, especially when presenting the convertible versions. But, what made the car most important after all, is that it donated its chassis and engine to the Aston-Martin DB7, one of the best looking cars of the 90ies. When I see an XJS today, and they have become increasingly rare here in continental Europe, I actually start to like the car, even the coupé. It aged much better than many other cars and it has a certain elegance that makes it attractive and pretty slick. That doesn't mean that I will buy one, but that's good for the ones wanting to own one.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Using a Windschott with your Classic Car?

In 1989 Mercedes-Benz presented a real innovation with its new R129 convertible, the Windschott (German word for wind deflector). It's the thing behind the driver's and co-driver's seat that makes the air go over the heads of driver and co-driver. The accessory became very popular. Many R107 (that's the predecessor of the R129) was equipped with a Windschott and many other (modern) cars followed the trend.
One question though is whether it suits your classic car to be equipped with a modern windschott. I think it spoils the design lines of a car, if the car hasn't been made for being used with a Windschott. And it's clearly not a part that was available when the car was new, so it is as inappropriate as a subwoofer or wide wheels for your oldtimer car. Now, at least you can take off the Windschott, as you can remove the TomTom or the plugged in iPod, so that's not so bad. But for me it spoils the sensation of driving an old car and that's why I don't use a Windschott on my classic Mercedes. But who knows, maybe I will have to when I am getting older ...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Where has the bonnet gone?

When you drive an older car and watch through the wind screen you will most like see something you can't spot anymore when you drive a modern car - the bonnet. Modern aerodynamics and current design trends make them disappear from the driver's eye. Too bad, as seeing the bonnet makes a car easier to drive and park. The picture shows the bonnet of a Mercedes 300 SL (R107) but you can look at many older cars and you will spot the same. Today you need a park distance control system to "hear" the car, when you park it to compensate for you eye being able to actually see the dimensions of the car.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Driving a Classic Car is like drinking an Espresso

Driving a Classic Car is a bit like Drinking Espresso. Isn't it?
The Espresso will not help you to get enough water for your body and it can be easily replaced by tea or any other drink if it's just about getting something fluid into your stomach. It also can get replaced by any other caffeine type drink if it's about staying awake. And there are much more fancy coffee drinks than Espresso, i.e. Cappuccinos, Late Macchiato, or what have you. But maybe it's the purity and the direct and unspoiled coffee taste that makes the difference. And this reminds me to driving a classic car. You don't have the features and accessories of modern cars, there are more convenient and easy to consume alternatives and it's probably not the best way to get you from A to B. But it's a pure and unspoiled pleasure.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Diva GT 10F - highly competitive sports and race car

Diva is a car make that only few people know. However these cars were extremely successful in racing in the 60ies, they competed at the 1000 km Nurburgring race and at many other sportscar events.
The Diva GT came with Ford engines from 997 to 1650 ccm and looked quite sharp in its fiberglass Heron derived body design. The car was small and nimble and as said a good base for racing. However people didn't see it as a true alternative to a Lotus Elan or TVR Grantura at that time. That's quite different today, when a good and competitive Diva GT fetches a higher price than a contemporary Elan or Grantura, if one is ever offered on the market.

Friday, June 4, 2010

If you drive something special you might get stopped more often

Here's something to consider: If you drive a very special car, Police might stop you more often than if you drive a Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit. The picture shows Casey's freshly restored Batmobile, definitely not your average daily driver. He tells me that it's fully road legal (in the US) even including the machine guns. I wouldn't want to try to get things thing road registered in Switzerland, good Lord, no! But maybe that's a good thing, as it's not that great to get stopped all the time ;-)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

An argument for hard top convertible cars?

I have been arguing a lot against the current trend to build convertibles with hard tops for quite a number of reasons:
1) Heavy
2) Complex (just think about all the hydraulics)
3) Bad weight distribution (where does the top sit when it's folded down?)
4) Design/look - fat end cars
However when I looked at this picture I had to admit that there are some proper advantages too having a hard fold-able top on your car. And I must also say that the new BMW Z4 actually looks quite sharp. But at the end of the day, a convertible should be driven with the top down and in most of the cases the fabric top should only be your last resort, so why carrying around all that metal and complexity?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Audi thinking about bringing A2 back

Apparently Audi is thinking about the Audi A2 back. The A2 was a quite innovative car with less than 900 kg and a fuel efficient engine. However, it didn't sell to well, which was, I think, because of the fairly ambitious price and the less than exciting design. Anyway, the new A2 is supposed to be much more modern and coming with electrical power. What is even more new though, is the idea to build one version of the hardware only, sold at a standard price and have the customers customize their car with "applications". For this Audi builds an "app store", similar to what Apple is doing so successfully. But the Audi apps will not only allow to customize the color of the dials, but also to enable functions built into the hardware. You want a seat heating? Download an app for let's say 300 USD and you can actually switch on the already built in heater. Now this creates a number of issues, I think:
First, I wouldn't want to buy complexity for features I will not use (download). Every additional piece of technology makes cars more complex and more heavy usually.
Secondly, it makes me feel stupid that I buy something, have it, but can't use it, because I don't have the permission as I didn't download the app. If it's pure software functionality then this may be okay, but if it's hardware? However we have already had this and the whole engine chip tuning industry lives from the same concept.
Thirdly, I wonder how long we have to wait until you find instructions on how to "jailbreak" your Audi A2, hack into the "operating system" and free all these available features using an "illegal" approach. And how long will it take until legal battles are fought whether the warranty can be canceled if somebody jailbreaks the software.
Let's see ...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Nice Lotus Elite for sale in Switzerland

And here's another one. I have rarely seen such a nice Lotus Elite 75 for sale over the last years. With less than 44'000 km (30'000 miles) in an apparently almost as new condition and with overhauled engine (39'000 km) it certainly looks sharp. The price seems high with CHF 25'700.- (ca. Euro 18'000), but if you look for an Elite 75 this 1979 model with LHD might be the right car to buy. I, myself, have never really liked the shape and probably rather would add a couple of thousand CHF to get the Esprit S2 of the same year. But that's me, not thinking about happy children in the back of this four seater car.