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Archive for August, 2010

Thrifty Car Rental Coupon

We just wanted to remind our members that they do have access to a unique promotional code that delivers a discount off the retail pricing of Thrifty car rental.  Naturally most of our members will have already bought cars but often this sort of discount is useful for trips away as well as for one off journeys where a different car is needed.

So here is the current Thrifty Discount Corporate Code – CD 4908003767

The discount codes are also handy for buyers who are perhaps waiting on a new car to be delivered.  It may surprise a lot of people but the average lead time for a new car in Australia (regardless of who you buy it through) is around 30 days.  If you elect to sell your car privately, there can sometimes be a week or two where you might need to hire a car.

You can also access more details here www.privatefleet.com.au/thrifty

The Cheapest, The Fastest And The Mostest

I’ve posted a bit about some of the most economical cars in Australia in the small and medium range, which got me wondering about which car really is the most economical – and, for that matter, the fastest, the cheapest and the most expensive.  And if it’s world records we’re after, then the obvious place to go is to the Guinness World Records books and website to have a look.  I’ve done my best to find the records for proper production cars rather than modified, souped-up, tweaked, customised or otherwise tinkered with cars.  So here goes…

The cheapest: The cheapest production car by far is the Tata Nano.  Designed and made in India, this is intended to do for South-east Asia what the Model T Ford did for the USA and the VW Beetle did for Germany: a cheap car that the average person can afford, allowing the country to embrace the automobile age.  When it was released in 2008, it cost the Indian equivalent of US$2000.  It seats four and has four doors, but has a number of quirky cost-cutting measures that mean that it’s not likely to really take off in Australia – if it makes it over here at all.  These cost-cutting measures include a lack of power steering (it’s so small and light it doesn’t need it), only one windscreen wiper, three lug nuts per wheel instead of four, only one wing mirror, no airbags and a boot that is only accessible from the inside.  In other words, it may look like a hatchback, but it’s not.  It’s more like a hatchbelly.  In 2009, an upgraded version was released for the European market that had been heavily modified to meet safety standards.

The most economical: This is a very hotly contested category.  I’m not 100% sure exactly which car is officially has the GWR for economy (neither the book nor the website list it anywhere that’s easy to find), but contenders include the VW Lupo (3 L/100 km) and the smart fourtwo cdi (3.3 L/100 km).  These don’t seem to be available in Australia yet, but watch this space!

The fastest production car: The current official fastest production car is the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport, which has a top speed of 431.072 km/h. 

The most expensive: It’s probably not completely surprising that the most expensive car title also goes to the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport.  The price tag?  About US$2.3 million.  Personally, if I had this sort of money in my back pocket, I’d put it on a house and spend the rest on putting about a million people in the third world on bicycles.  That’s the retail price new, by the way, not the top price that a car can get at an auction and/or after becoming a classic – some early Rolls-Royces have fetched more.

Most popular car: In terms of units sold, irrespective of make and model, it seems to be a contest between the Toyota Corolla and the VW Beetle, with honourable mention going to the Model T Ford, the Volkswagen Golf and the Ford F-series.  However, there may soon be some Chinese and Indian contenders in this list.

Readers may also be interested in finding more records by following this link to Wikipedia.

Most economical medium-sized cars in Australia.

Not so long ago, I had lots of fun working out Aussie’s most economical cars, and now I thought I’d tackle the mid-sized car bracket. 

Generally, if you have a small family, a medium-sized new car will fit the bill best.  You don’t want something that struggles to cope with the kids and luggage, yet you probably don’t want to run to the expense of paying for the extra gas that bigger, thirstier cars always require.  The following mid-sized motorcars are available in Australia and are the more economical vehicles in their class – sometimes by a big margin.  Again, I have used info from the Wheels magazine.

Let’s kick off with an Italian model.  Alfa Romeo do have a vehicle that fits the bill.  The Alfa Romeo 159 JTD models not only look the business but these are a vehicle that offer a satisfying drive.  Underway, the Alfa Romeo 159 JTD remains very refined, and the six-speed automatic gearbox is very slick.   Expect a fuel consumption figure of around 6.5 litres/100 km.

Audi have always had an economical alternative.  Check out the Audi A4 2.0 TDI.  This is a superb motorcar that oozes class.  Beautifully designed interiors offer very comfortable motoring, and the cabin space is reasonably generous.  The blend of ride comfort and grip is one of the nicest in its class, and at around 6 litres/100 km, the Audi A4 2.0 TDI has to be tried out and appreciated.

One of my favourites, and another German set of wheels, is the excellent BMW 320d.  At the top of its game, the 320d offers a complete drive.  If you get a chance to drive one, you’ll appreciate the car’s numerous talents.  With 350 Nm of torque, an eight second dash to 100 km/h and a fuel efficiency average of 5.5 litres/100 km, the BMW 320d makes quite a convincing statement.

But I haven’t finished with BMW yet.  Arguably the best mid-sized machine you can buy (if you can run to the $76,400 price tag) is the BMW 520d.  We all know it will go like snot, but is it efficient?  The car does have the ability to turn it on in the fuel efficiency stakes, too.  The 5.6 litres/100 km average is proof of this.  Everything else about the car is pretty hot.

Finishing the BMW entries finds us considering an AWD machine.  If you like the thought of having a little adventure in your life, then you might find the BMW X3 xDrive20d is just the ‘bee’s knees’!  Returning an average of 6.7 litres/100 km, the BMW X3 xDrive20d opens up the wide open spaces.  Handling is right up to scratch, and I really like the elevated driving position for that added bit of safety.

To Citroen we go.  The French know how to make a comfortable traveller.  Cast your eye over a Citroen C5 and the style of the new exterior design is quite breathtaking.  Perhaps the best design in the mid-size car bracket.  Inside, the style continues with an array of funky gadgets.  This is a car that will eat up the miles effortlessly while its occupants remain incredibly comfortable hours later, and  is a credit to the French engineers.  All of the HDI versions are worth a look, with the Citroen C5 3.0 HDI being a very grunty performer, boasting a thumping 450 Nm of torque.  It can run the 0-100 km/h in under eight seconds, and is superbly safe and supremely comfortable.  Fuel efficiency ranges between 6.8 and 7.4 litre/100 km.  The Citroen C5 could justifiably be the best mid-sized vehicle in this line-up.  It’s very roomy, too.

Ford offers the Mondeo TDCI motorcar into this mix.  It’s a good car that offers a lot for the money you pay.  The 7.3 litres/100 km isn’t too bad, while the handling is superb for a front wheel drive machine.  The Ford Mondeo TDCI’s safety credentials are excellent.  You should enjoy this one.

If you are a sensible person with your head screwed on, then you will probably go for the Honda Civic Hybrid sedan which is sharp looking, tasteful on the inside and incredibly thrifty.  The 4.6 litres/100 km is superior for the mid-sized class.  If you want a peppier drive, then the Honda Civic VTi sedan is a top-notch buy and very competitively priced.  I include the Civic as a mid-sizer because the interior room and boot space is so good.  Sadly, like Holden, Honda don’t really have their proper mid-sized vehicles quite zeroing in on fuel efficiency.

Hyundai have a very decent package in their Hyundai Sonata SLX CRDi.  Need plenty of room and lots of gadgets?  Then the Hyundai Sonata is the car for you.  Running with a 2.0 turbo-diesel, the smart Sonata SLX CRDi offers plenty of power and excellent fuel economy.  With 6.0 litres/100 km for the five-speed manual or 7 litres/100 km for the four-speed automatic, the Hyundai Sonata SLX CRDi has what it takes, and definitely provides plenty of ‘bang for your buck’ satisfaction.

Isn’t it great to consider a Jaguar as being efficient?  Jaguar offers a vehicle that boasts impeccable road manners and distinctive styling.  The Jaguar 2.2D LE is enjoyable to live with, has a comfortable interior and handy space, and is very well equipped – as you would expect.  With 6.9 litres /100 km as an average fuel consumption figure, the Jaguar X-Type 2.2D LE is a highly recommended.  The car costs about the same as the Audi A4 2.0TDI and Alfa 159 JTD, and a whole lot less than a BMW 520d. 

Again, arguably the best in this economy bunch is the Jaguar XF 3.0D.  Its 6.8 litres/100 km average is awesome for such a performance car.  The V6 turbo diesel can turn on some heart-stopping performance.  The quickest of the thrifty bunch – by a long chalk!  Sexy, quick, roomy and extremely modern, the Jaguar XF 3.0D is a driving enthusiast’s car.  What you save at the pump might be gathered back with the $112,990 price tag, but if you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed.

Kia offers the diesel-fed Sportage with a decent level of room.  The six-speed manual is brilliant.  And with a fuel efficiency figure of 7.1 litres/100 km from a 2700cc unit, you are most definitely onto a winner.  Being part time AWD, this sort of technology aids the big vehicle’s efficiency.

Also from Kia, the Sorento Si and SLi boast a superb 2.2 diesel engine that is capable of turning 422 Nm of torque.  This is the vehicle you need if you require a vehicle that ticks the towing box.  Big on torque and small on fuel usage, the 6.7 – 7.4 litres/100 km is outstanding.  Just think of the adventure you can enjoy with the family in the Sorento.  Room is great in the SUV, so too are the equipment and comfort levels.

Lexus is another premium brand which offers an interesting and economical model.  Buckets of interior room, plenty of luxury and extremely reliable, the Lexus GS 450h is incredibly efficient for such a big vehicle.  Not as big as an LS sedan, the GS sedan still is exquisitely comfortable to tour in.  I decided to add this big one into the mix because of the hybrid technology that Lexus has used.  Probably the roomiest and largest sedan in this line-up (though the Jaguar XF wouldn’t be far off it), the Lexus GS is a large car with the petrol/hybrid technology that can reign in fuel usage to an average of 7.9 litres/100 km.  Big price tag, but very nice.

The Mazda 6 Diesel wagon and hatch is impressive.  I hope you’ve read all my rambling thus far because the Mazda 6 Diesel, in my book, is the best car in this line-up for the small family.  Talented in all areas, whether it be performance, efficiency, comfort or safety, the Mazda 6 Diesel is superior.  It is also fun to drive.  With an average fuel consumption of just 6.0 litres/100 km for the wagon and 5.9 litres/100 km for the hatch, you need to check this one out!

Mercs are too expensive, right?  Actually, they are pricey, but if you look to buy into the C-Class, the C200 CGI is a whole lot cheaper than a BMW 520d.  Look to buy an E-Class Merc, and the E220 CDI is quite a lot dearer.  Are these mid-sized Mercs fuel efficient?  Surprisingly, yes they are.  Just how good?  Well, when I found that the 1.8 litre, petrol-fed C200 CGI sips, on average, 7.3 litres/100 km, I was pleasantly astounded.  If you can handle $58,000, you’ll be very happy with the nicely designed, well balanced C200 CGI.  This is one of the very few petrol cars in this list of economic mid-sized vehicles.  But there is another.  If you like the 1.8 litre engine, you can find it in the slightly larger E-Class line-up as well.  Fuel consumption is pretty much identical.  The C220 CDI does better with diesel, and manages 6.7 litres/100 km.  Now, take note of what the 500 Nm E250 CDI manages.  The 5.3 litres/100 km fuel consumption is quite sensational.  And the car is very quick, too – a 0-100 km/h sprint time of only 7.7 seconds means that you have yourself a true driver’s car.  You may like to consider the elegant E220 CDI which manages 6.1 litres/100 km, is not a whole lot slower and has all the class that only a Merc could have. 

It’s time to go back to Japan to see what they can do.  For starters, you are only going to need to fork out a fraction of the cost you would pay for buying a new Merc!  That’s good, and you’ll also be pleased to know that the Mitsubishi Lancer ES and VR provide very decent transport.  Hot styling, a nimble chassis and a comfortable interior make for good vibes.  Under the Lancer bonnet is a very efficient petrol-fed 2.0-litre motor that pumps out 113 kW and 198 Nm of torque.  With the five-speed gearbox, the Lancer ES and VR boast a fuel efficiency figure of around 7.6 litres/100 km. 

You have to go to the X-Trail corner of the Nissan show room before you can find a vehicle that can manage a fuel consumption figure of below 8 litres/100 km.  The Nissan X-Trail TS and TL both have a high-tech 2.0 litre turbo-diesel engine under the hood.  Quite apart from the fact that they can push 360 Nm to the driving wheels and peak their power out at 127 kW, the diesel donks can provide an average economy figure of 7.4 litres/100 km.  These are nice vehicles which provide loads of practical room, nice seats and SUV safety.  You can also tackle off-roading duties along the way.

Now, back to the land of red wine, lingerie and long-haired rugby players.  You know when you purchase a Peugeot, the drive is going to be good.  They are very safe, economical cars.  The most economic mid-sized Pug is the wonderfully roomy and comfortable Peugeot 407 2.0-litre HDI models.  These diesels are awesome.  You can be stuck in traffic and they will happily sip the fuel.  They are equally good at providing swift and economical transport on the open road.  The manual versions provide a fuel consumption figure of 5.9 litres/100 km, while the automatic versions offer a figure of around 6.7 litres/100 km.  Definitely worth a look, and these cars are competitively priced and sit at the top of the tree.

Another thing that frequently passes competitors in the Tour de France is the Renault Laguna.  With a 110 kW, 2.0-litre engine, the Laguna makes the best use of its diesel in the tank.  Their six-speed manual and six-speed automatic gearboxes are very good at keeping the engine in the right zone for efficient power, so with the Laguna, you can expect a fuel consumption figure of between 6.0 and 7.0 litres/100 km.  Well built, very safe and exceedingly comfortable, the roomy Laguna should prove to be nice, stylish transport.

The land that brought us smorgasbords, saunas and ABBA provides exquisitely comfortable interiors for the Saab 1.9 TiD models.  These are very good engines which are placed in both the Saab 9-3 and Saab 9-5 models.  Very roomy, the 9-5 1.9 TiD has an excellent interior that is spacious.  Safety-wise, the 9-5 is as good as it gets in the mid-sized bracket, and is up there with the Laguna and the 407 models for five-star safety.  The 9-5 is bigger than the 9-3, and with the extra weight comes a slight increase in fuel consumption.  Fuel usage for the 9-5 1.9 TiD is around 7.5 litres – pretty good for a smooth five-speed auto and 1.6 tonnes.  Expect around 6.5 litres/100km for the 9-3 1.9 TiD models – the six-speed manual versions being more slightly more frugal than the six-speed automatics.

To be honest, Skoda surprised me.  The Skoda Octavia is a very well built, very well designed, underrated mid-sized automobile with good roadholding, accurate steering, and nicely laid out interiors that are comfortable.  Take your pick, really.  All models provide efficient transport and excellent value – except, maybe, the 1.6-litre, petrol versions with automatic gearboxes.  These can be a little thirsty.  All other versions will go under 8 litres/100 km for fuel efficiency – including the very quick RS models.  Some of the TDI versions will go under 6 litres/100 km.  A Skoda Octavia offers great value, and comes highly recommended. 

If you still require more room, then the Skoda Scout is a very capable, roomy alternative.  It is a beefed up diesel estate version of the Octavia, and has higher ground clearance and AWD.  You’ll be surprised just how far you can go off-road in one of these.  Fuel consumption for the Scout is a very commendable 6.6 litres/100 km. 

There is also the Skoda Superb.  If you want leg room, then the Skoda Superb has it.  It should be classed as a large car, but I’ll throw it in to the mix because I was so impressed with the 6.9 litres/100 km promised from the 2.0-litre TDI version.

SsangYong creates unique SUV designs, and the SsangYong Actyon 2.0 Xdi, and the Kyron 2.0 Xdi are both fitted out with a 2.0-litre diesel engine that impresses.  It has refined efficiency, and remains very smooth and quiet in its action.  Expect around 7.5 litres/100 km for the five-speed manual versions – not bad when you consider the weight the engine is pulling.  Comfortable, roomy cabins make for pleasant touring. 

Suzuki offer the Grand Vitara DDiS with a 1.9-litre turbo-diesel engine.  With a manual five-speed gearbox, you can whisk along the open road and around town knowing that the average fuel consumption figure is only going to be 7.6 litres/100 km.  With ample off-road ability, and with five doors and a lengthy wheelbase, the big Vitara is very easy to live with.  Inexpensive off-roading adventure is on the cards, too.

The world would not be the same without Toyota.  With legendary reliability, and build quality, the Corolla is a relatively roomy sedan or hatch that can master around 7.5 litres/100 km, on average, from out of the sparkling 1.8-litre, 100 kW, petrol-fed engine.  New Toyota Corollas are swift and well balanced machines on the road.  Camrys offer more room and more power for not much more.  You can buy a talented new Toyota Camry Hybrid sedan that boasts an average fuel consumption of just 6.0 litres/100 km.  There is another extremely frugal machine that sits on Toyota’s showroom floors.  Possibly the most economic mid-sizer here: the hybrid Toyota Prius III provides a sensationally low average fuel consumption figure of 3.9 litres/100 km – better than a number of motorbikes!

The Volkswagen Golf and Jetta (Golf hatch with a backside attached) are little beauties.  Timeless class, build quality and refinement make owning the Volkswagen Golf and Jetta a pleasure.  When the 77TDI versions provide a little under, or a little over, 5 litres/100 km efficiency, you know you are on to something very good.  Larger 2.0-litre diesel power plants are very torquey and refined, and still offer matchless efficiency.  If you prefer petrol power, then there is a gem on offer.  The 1.4-litre engine is superb.  With fuel efficiency of around 6.5 litres/100 km, an 8.5 second 0-100 km/h sprint time and great on-road dynamism, you’ll have plenty of smiles for your dial. 

How about a Volkswagen Passat?  Here you will have more interior room and more power.  The interior room is good and, as always, the trip is classy and effortless.  A 2.0 TDI engine provides 6.8 litres/100 km, and is linked to a sequential gearbox.  Superbly stylish, the Passat CC has the same engine.  One other engine worth mentioning in the very good Volkswagen Passat line-up is the cracking new 1.8 turbo.  With 118 kW of power, 250 Nm of torque and a seven-speed sequential gearbox, you can really cover the ground with great rapidity – while holding your average fuel consumption to well under 8 litres/100 km. 

Volkswagen provide an SUV alternative, as well.  The Tiguan, in 2.0 TDI form, provides very classy transport that remains efficiently, on average, under 8 litres/100 km.

Flicking over to the Volvo marque, and I find an engine that features in the S40, V50, S80, XC60, XC70 and XC90 versions.  I would class the S40 as a roomy small car.  So, with that in mind, the very economical Volvo S40 D5 is a rewarding drive that you may like to consider.  Fast, superbly surefooted, safe and luxurious, the S40 D5 returns a fuel consumption of 6.4 litres/100 km for the manual and 7.0 litres/100 km for the auto.  The V50 is the one for you if you require more room.  Essentially it is the estate version of the S40 sedan.  It’s just as good – if not better with the extra luggage space.  In no uncertain terms, the Volvo S80 is a big car.  But to give you an idea of how good the D5 2.4 litre engine actually is, you can still expect a fuel consumption figure of 7.3 litres/100 km with the weight and larger dimensions of the S80 design.  The Volvo S80 is extremely spacious and comfortable.

Although the purchase price of a new diesel car tends to be higher than that of its petrol counterpart, the extra initial value is justified.  Diesel-fed vehicles have been shown to be far more economical – sometimes twice as much than the petrol equivalent model.  Modern diesels also have superior performance capabilities.  When the car is fully laden with luggage and passengers, the torque of a diesel leaves the petrol counterpart wanting.

Automotive Myth Busters!

Perhaps you’ve just taken part in our interactive myth-busting quiz?  If so, how did you do?  If you haven’t yet, STOP, don’t ready any further  – take part in the MythBuster Quiz here and then come back to this page for the breakdown.

Let’s run through the questions and answers below along with some often surprising background to the results.  We’d also love to hear some of your automotive myths so please let us know in the comments section below!

1.  The very first car that Soichiro Honda made was powered by a huge 8 litre engine. TRUESoichiro Honda built his first car, a “Curtiss” fitted with an 8 litre aero engine.  It still exists and is displayed in the Honda Museum.

2.  Holden does not sell its cars in Zanzibar as Holden in Swahili sounds like the word for ‘underpants’. FALSEBut if anyone does know what Holden means in Swahili we’d love to know.

3.  You can be prosecuted for using a mobile phone whilst driving even if you were just changing your playlist. TRUE! The prosecution has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were actually using the phone and not just holding it.  ‘Using’ includes using the phone for any of its functions, not just making a phone call.

4.  In 2008, a South Australian cop recorded a car speeding at 400kph only to discover his gun had locked onto a military jet. FALSESee answer to Q 10.

5.  Sucking on a copper coin can beat the breathalyser. FALSE!

6.  Hybrid-electric cars must be charged at night. FALSEHybrid cars have batteries and a conventional motor.  Fully electric cars such as Mitsubishis iMiEV, however will need to be charged overnight.

7.  Over-inflate your tyres for better fuel economy. TRUE! But it’s not a good idea and it won’t save you much in the long run. By over-inflating your tyres above the manufacturer’s recommendations you will wear out your tyres much quicker, change your car’s handling characteristics, and be subjected to a much harsher ride.

8.  You can’t get fined for driving too slowly. TRUEYou can get fined for driving too slow if the police consider you are a hindrance to other traffic or pedestrians.

9.  Aluminium foil dipped in Coca Cola removes rust spots from chromework. TRUEThe NRMA’s “Open Road” conducted this test recently, and found, surprisingly that it did seem to work, thought this can be seen as somewhat irrelevant, considering the absence of chromework on modern cars.

10.  You can outrun a speed camera. TRUEBritain’s iconic “Top Gear” motoring programme put it to the test and their test driver “Stig” discovered that, at more than 171 mph (275 kph), the radar didn’t register … now where can we test this?

11. Men are better drivers than women. FALSEWe were unable to uncover any documented research from any western societies that supported this assertion.

12. A little diagram on your fuel gauge will always illustrate which side your fuel cap is on. FALSE!  Shame – good idea.  Some manufacturers do have a little arrow which denotes which side your petrol cap is located, but not all comply.

I think we’re just scratching the surface here with the myths we’ve heard.  So please let us know about any automotive myths that we are missing in the comments below…

Two-Wheel, Four-Wheel or…. One-Wheel Drive?

Buyers of new cars often weigh up the merits of two-wheel-drive vehicles, full-time four-wheel-drive vehicles and part-time four-wheel-drive vehicles (substitute all-wheel drive if you prefer in this last one). While this article won’t help you decide on which one, it might make you grateful that there isn’t another choice knocking about (or at least give you a good laugh). At one stage, inventors were toying with the idea of the one-wheel drive and considerable work was done in this in the University of Berkley in (you guessed it) the USA.

The one-wheel drive wasn’t some weird gizmo that had a drive train powering only one wheel while the other three sat there doing nothing. Instead, it was an even weirder gizmo that had just one wheel, with the motor and the driver (no room for passengers) balanced around the sides of the wheel, with the idea that the weight of the driver would counterbalance the weight of the motor (depends on the driver, I guess – some are heavier than others). The wheel itself was a large tractor-type tyre, so at least the thing could stand up by itself. It was intended as an all-terrain vehicle, presumably on the idea that one tyre takes up less space and can therefore go places that four wheels can’t.

Movie footage filmed when the gizmo (you can’t really call this thing a car) was being trialled shows that it is reasonably balanced. It can climb a hill at a speed that easily outstrips the bewildered dog that tries to chase it. It doesn’t tip over while doing S-bends along a gravel road, it steers reasonably well and it can get a moderate amount of acceleration when taking off from a standstill that probably wasn’t too bad for the 1950s. However, the gizmo does leave a little to be desired in the way of safety. True, the vehicle in the footage was a test vehicle, but there’s no sign of, say, seat belts, to say nothing of side intrusion beams (there are no sides), air bags or crumple zones.

The idea was trialled during the 1950s until being shelved in 1965 (I wonder why?). However, at least this gizmo allowed people to research new methods of stabilisation, some of which may have contributed to today’s modern stability programs that all new cars seem to be fitted with. When you look at the technical bits and pieces of how it worked, the inventor, Charles F. Taylor, seems to have been quite innovative in harnessing the torque of the engine to create a “moment” to even out road wobbles, even over bumps and through turns – the first active stability device. So while the one-wheel-drive vehicle was an idea that didn’t quite get off, the research put into it certainly would have helped make modern cars what they are.

Or do I speak too soon? Is someone going to re-work the design to create something for today that can compete with the motorbike? You never know…

Road Rage. Avoid it or fall for it?

The purpose of any trip into the abyss of the Peak Hour traffic is to in fact arrive, hopefully safely and with a little more to give over the next 12 hours of your day, than a sad regurgitation of your trip around the water cooler.

So why do so many of us arrive so angry?

Is it that we just can’t rise early enough to arrive on time?  Are we so highly strung that we lose the plot when we are armed with a vicious 2.0ltr engine? (most general, nothing personal)

Since when do we get to our destination any earlier that we can’t give way to another vehicle trying to merge correctly; or when a person needs to merge off a side road into main road traffic (does anyone know it is actually illegal to stop in traffic across ANY intersection – not just those marked!!). Why do we have to speed up ‘just in case’ the little old lady might overtake you??

I do believe the problem is in the old saying “There is nothing common about Common Courtesy.” I have been watching the ways of traffic these past few days and have truly seen some remarkable states of self- induced rage.  I am the first one to admitting my favourite car comment is, “the speed limit would be nice,” and my son’s favourite, “engage the traffic,” but to hang out the window screaming and honking the horn- please spare me!

The sad fact is, due to the uprise in all of this I have recently been overwhelmed by the lack of engagement of others when respectfully giving way or allowing traffic to merge. People are so used to NOT being able to merge – they don’t.

Take a day’s experiment and reap the rewards of your humanity.

Try making it to work by letting someone in (even if they are no ‘entitled’ to it), merge with the ‘side street lady’, and let those pushing the speed limit – do it. Then, here’s the kicker; wave with a smile, make a kind hand gesture (remember when we used to wave to say ‘thanks’), keep left, turn your favourite music up and arrive not only safely but happy in yourself, and in the knowledge that  the ‘side street lady’s’ day has improved as well.

Don’t be the jerk that beeps and curses, runs up behind everyone and yells out the window. It is not your problem.

So, even when faced with the psycho ‘Gen Y’ racing up behind you in their P plated silver Corolla that Dad bought, tooting and swearing while you are slowing down to, God forbid, park, as they scream up to a red light only 10 meters in front of them– smile, laugh and think ‘have a nice day’. You’ll feel so much better!

The Laws Of Physics Are No Respecter Of Persons Or Pocketbooks

The theme song of the 1980s TV show Fame implied that fame would make you live forever. Unfortunately, some celebrities (but not all) seem to have taken that a bit too literally and seem to neglect a number of basic safety precautions when it comes to driving and motoring. The years of the motorcar have seen a number of high-profile fatalities courtesy of a motor vehicle. Here’s a selection, plus how they could have been prevented:

Isadora Duncan: This dancer shocked the stuffy Victorian and Edwardians with her innovative dance style that broke the classical ballet mould as well as corset strings, but died as flamboyantly as she lived when her long, trailing scarf wrapped itself around the back wheels of the Bugatti driven by her car salesman boyfriend and strangled her. This particular type of road fatality is not so likely today, but if you do drive in an open top car, just make sure you take off any really long scarves or at least tuck them in, even if they do look glamorous flowing behind you as speed.

Lawrence of Arabia: He was off his camel leading Arab revolutionaries against the Turks and on a motorbike in England. He courteously swerved to avoid two kids on bikes and lost control, pitching over the handlebars. He died nearly a week later from the head injuries he sustained. As a result of his death, one of the brain surgeons who tended this war hero started a campaign that saw the introduction of a very important safety device: the motorbike helmet.

James Dean: The “Rebel Without A Cause” liked fast cars. As well as acting, he also like to race cars, preferably Porsches. And he got himself one of the limited edition 550 Spyders, which he nicknamed the “Little Bastard”.  Fellow actor Alec Guinness, on being shown the brand new toy by James Dean, took one look and said Dean would be seen dead within the week if he started driving that vehicle. Guinness probably didn’t have second sight, but he knew James Dean’s reputation for fast driving. A week later, Dean was dead, having gone into an intersection and being T-boned by another driver who didn’t see him. Dean had been given a speeding ticket a couple of hours before the crash, and it is possible that he was speeding during the crash. This sort of crash can be avoided by watching your speed and watching out for other drivers. The crash would probably not have been fatal with a modern car with side impact beams and airbags – Dean was killed by bashing his head on the dashboard. Legends have surfaced about the car being cursed and having caused a number of fatalities after Dean’s death (all unverified).  

Diana, Princess of Wales:  Unless you are into conspiracy theories, the official inquest found that she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and the driver of the Mercedes S280 was drunk in charge of a very powerful car and driving at high speed.  Do we need to say any more?