Archive for September, 2014
It’s about that time of year when a number of states start getting into Daylight Savings mode (New Zealanders did the change last weekend). This peculiar hangover from Victorian England often leads to an increase in traffic accidents as the entire country (minus those sensible, sensible states that don’t bother with the whole palaver) goes through jet lag. Especially the springtime changeover where you have to get up an hour earlier than usual.
There has been some research into how the Daylight Savings changeover affects traffic responses. found that accidents immediately after the springtime shift but accidents drop immediately after the autumn shift when the clocks go back. According to these researchers, it’s the amount of sleep lost or gained that causes the change in patterns. We tend to lose an hour of sleep during the spring shift but we get that precious extra hour to sleep in come autumn. The researchers concluded that it’s fatigue and lack of sleep that causes the problem, not merely shifting our body clocks.
It’s not that people are falling asleep at the wheel, either. Analysts and experts have commented that driving tired is as bad as driving drunk or under the influence of drugs when it comes to slowing your reaction times and preventing you from concentrating. Unfortunately, the cops can’t do random breath testing to see how tired you are. Or perhaps fortunately – most of us don’t get the right amount of sleep.
Some car manufacturers are cottoning onto the role of fatigue in traffic safety. Some of the latest models of Mercedes are able to tell by your driving style that you are getting a bit tired and will start alerting you. This is all very well when it comes to getting tired during a long interstate drive when the white lines flickering through the darkness in a steady rhythm on a long straight road have their hypnotic effect on you, gradually lulling you into la-la land until the car bleeps at you suddenly. However, it’s not so good for those times when you lose concentration for half a second at the traffic lights or at an intersection… although a lot of modern cars have fancy crash sensors that will detect this sort of low-speed problem and try to deal with it.
So what can we all do to improve our driving and reduce fatigue-related accidents? We can’t all shift to Queensland or Western Australia where they don’t do the Daylight Savings thing. And even in those states, fatigue-related accidents are still a problem. The answer is not to be found inside our vehicles but inside our bedrooms. If we all got the sleep we needed, we could probably avoid 20–30% of current accidents (according to the Transport Accident Commission ).
- Have a set bedtime routine and stick to it. This programmes your body into knowing that it’s time to go to sleep.
- Avoid “screen time” (TV, DVDs, laptops, smart phones) for half an hour before you plan on nodding off. There’s something about those screens that stop you nodding off.
- Go for calming, soothing activities as part of your wind down. In other words, don’t try doing your tax returns or drafting a letter to your lawyer last thing at night.
- Watch the caffeine. Yes, it helps jolt you up in the morning but it has quite a long half-life in your body, preventing good sleep. It’s best to avoid coffee and other caffeinated drinks after 3:00 p.m. just in case. It’s also unwise to try to use coffee to keep you awake if you are doing a long, late drive. It will work in the short-term, but you end up with a horrible cocktail of fatigue chemicals and adrenaline in your brain at the same time that makes you even more error-prone.
- Save the bedroom for sleep, relaxing and sex. This means that having the home office in there permanently is a bad idea.
Safe and happy driving,
After its successful launch on September 19th, 2014, in Melbourne, the Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 is now available for orders at the Automobili Lamborghini dealership in Sydney. Located at 563 Parramatta Road, in the bustling inner suburb of Leichhardt, the Huracán sits proudly on display in the company of two of Lamborghini’s flagship models, the edgy Aventador.
Since being officially unveiled in February, there’s already over a dozen orders for the sleek missile, worth near half a million dollars in New South Wales alone, but don’t think it’s a matter of simply rolling in and plonking down a handful of bills. Lamborghini has a stringent order process in place for the Huracán, with a (currently) planned production run of less than 3000 and will, effectively, build to order, rather than having a pool of vehicles.
Dealer principal, Dwyer Ogle, has over twenty years experience in premium brands, starting his career with the legendary British brand, Aston Martin. Dwyer’s enthusiasm for luxury motoring was evident, discussing the history of Lamborghini as easily as he shared facts and figures on the Huracán. Dwyer was also proud to be part of a launch drive in Italy, with a video showing him in the passenger seat of the 449kW rocket, being driven by a Lamborghini test driver at the Ascari circuit, clearly delighting in the experience.
The car itself, says Dwyer, is the most user friendly Lamborghini he has experienced. He likens driving the Diablo, first released in 1990, as a full on gym workout, with a heavy clutch and steering, whereas the lithe 1422kg Huracán has been worked over and smoothed over and massaged by parent company, Audi, to be as easy to use as the proverbial grandmother’s weekend shopping trolley. There’s hi-tech in the form of a magneto-rheological suspension system; a magnetic liquid fills the dampers and reacts to suspension changes in milliseconds, providing lightning sharp handling. The V10 engine is connected to a dual clutch, seven speed, gearbox and transfers power and torque to all four corners via the all wheel drive system. Dwyer grins as he explains that the naturally aspirated 5.2L engine’s torque, all 560 Nm of it, delivers an on tap, linear surge of acceleration and shakes his head in disbelief as he mentioned the car’s ability to remain flat and composed as it changes gear, under acceleration, on the banked curves at Ascari.
Dwyer’s backed up by Italian born Yvonne Buchreiter, Lamborghini Sydney brand manager; she smiles as she says “I’m Italian, where else would I work but for a great Italian car company?”. There’s warmth in both smile and handshake as she welcomes me in, excusing herself to look after a prior appointment, another Huracán interested party already there. She and Dwyer manage to make everyone feel part of the family within minutes of arriving and, as Dwyer demonstrates the vibrancy of the engine and exhaust, pointing out the subtle change in note as the computer ensures operating parts are warm and safe, there’s smiles all around.
As the car is being built to order, waiting time is not unexpected, in this case estimated to be around 12 months; however, as Dwyer points out, a Huracán buyer will take delivery knowing that the car has been built specifically for them, rather than dipping into a pool of stock.
After an hour of easy going, friendly and knowledgeable conversation, I take my leave, grateful for their time and wondering what Lotto numbers I need to pick.
Automobili Lamborghini Sydney can be found at 563 Parramatta Road, Leichhardt, New South Wales and cars are available at the four Australian dealerships; Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.
A decent slice of the driving population isn’t into new cars so much. OK, they might drive newer models to get from A to B and for general bread-and-butter driving. But when they drive for pleasure, they look to the past: to classics, vintages and antiques. Sometimes, you may hear the word “veteran” bandied about.
When we hear the word “vintage” pop into our heads, we usually get mental pictures of something with big goggly headlamps, seriously sprung upholstery, a square top and big mudguards. The Ford Model T would be a prime example. When “classic” is mentioned, mental images get a bit more fluid, with some people thinking about traditional VW Beetles and others picturing big old American numbers. Mention an “antique” car to the person on the street and he or she would probably give you a funny look.
So what makes a classic a classic? What’s the definition of a vintage car? Is it the age or the styling?
Defining veteran, vintage and antique cars is the easy part. Veteran and Antique cars are the same thing: anything that was made before the end of World War 1 (that’s 1919 for those who don’t remember history lessons from high school). A veteran car is something that was made between the wars, more or less: between 1919 and either 1925 or 1930, depending on which authority you listen to. This means that the classic Beetle just misses out on being a vintage car, as it was first made in 1938. Model T Fords, however, can be veterans or vintages, as they were produced from 1908 to 1927.
Defining classics is much harder. Exactly how old a classic has to be to count depends on where you are and who you listen to, with 15 years old, 20 years old, 30 years old and 27–65 years old all being given as the age for a classic by various authorities, clubs and insurance companies. However, there’s more to it than that. A classic car has to have “collectible” quality and to be a true classic, it has to be in original condition.
Of course, the idea of what is considered “collectible” or desirable will vary from person to person. This is where personal preferences kick in. Obviously, luxury vehicles tend to make the grade (e.g. the E-type Jaguar pictured here). So do a lot of the big American muscle cars of the 1950s. But when it comes to cars that were once your typical family drive, things get a lot more fluid. A classic has to have a lot of sentiment attached to it in some form. It has to be “iconic” in some way. And that’s a quality that’s hard to pin down.
However, it would be fairly safe to list certain older family style vehicles as being sure-fire classics: VW Beetles (as already mentioned), Minis , Kombis, Holden Kingswoods, Ford Cortinas and Fiat 500s would be my picks. I’m sure there are lots more!
Picking what’s going to be a classic in the future is harder, although some enthusiasts have a go at trying to buy up “sleepers” and hanging onto them until they become classics. This is a bit of a gamble, as they may never get that collectable quality to them.
It is usual for articles of this type to suggest lists of future classics. I am not going to attempt this, apart from guessing that the hot sports cars of the 1980s and 1990s (Porsche Boxters , Nissan 350Z Roadsters , Mazda MX-5 , BMW Z4s ) will probably make the grade. However, I will propose a couple of rules of thumb:
- If it was your typical car driven by university students when you were a kid, it will probably be a classic when you’re middle-aged.
- If you drooled over it as the latest luxury car in magazines, car yards and dealers’ windows when you were a kid, it will probably be a classic when you reach retirement.
Across the globe, there’s commonality now that the internet is part of our lives and we can see that commonality in road rules. Red lights and Stop signs mean stop, green means go, roundabouts confuse. Yet, in real terms, driving on our roads really isn’t that complicated, as so many seem to think. Let’s have a look at some of the more basic rules.
Indication: this is one of the simplest, yet, seemingly, most misunderstood parts of driving. Inside each vehicle, attached to the steering column, will be a stalk, with two and sometimes just one fitted. Most Australian specification vehicles will have this on the right hand side, with an increasing number haviing it on the left. When moved up or down, an amzing thing happens: there’s a ticking noise that coincides with the flashing of an amber light at the front and rear of the car. This is called indicating and is intended to show other users of the road which direction you intend to go. Under New South Wales legislation:
What is changing direction?
(1) A driver changes direction if the driver changes direction to the left or the driver changes direction to the right.
(2) A driver changes direction to the left by doing any of the following:
(a) turning left,
(b) changing marked lanes to the left,
(c) diverging to the left,
(d) entering a marked lane, or a line of traffic, to the left,
(e) moving to the left from a stationary position,
(f) turning left into a marked lane, or a line of traffic, from a median strip parking area,
(g) at a T-intersection where the continuing road curves to the right—leaving the continuing road to proceed straight ahead onto the terminating road.
(3) A driver changes direction to the right by doing any of the following:
(a) turning right,
(b) changing marked lanes to the right,
(c) diverging to the right,
(d) entering a marked lane, or a line of traffic, to the right,
(e) moving to the right from a stationary position,
(f) turning right into a marked lane, or a line of traffic, from a median strip parking area,
(g) making a U-turn,
(h) at a T-intersection where the continuing road curves to the left—leaving the continuing road to proceed straight ahead onto the terminating road.
As you can see, you’re required to indicate at pretty much any time you’re thinking of changing direction, including:
Driver indicating change of direction at a T-intersection where the continuing road curves to the right and the driver is proceeding straight ahead onto the terminating road
Driver indicating change of direction at a T-intersection where the continuing road curves to the left and the driver is proceeding straight ahead onto the terminating road
Another part of driving on the road involves understanding what three simple colours inside a box on top of a large pole are meant to do. These colours are green, red and amber and according to NSW Legislation: Stopping for a red traffic light or arrow
(1) A driver approaching or at traffic lights showing a red traffic light must stop:
(a) if there is a stop line at or near the traffic lights—as near as practicable to, but before reaching, the stop line, or
(b) if there is a stop here on red signal sign at or near the traffic lights, but no stop line—as near as practicable to, but before reaching, the sign, or
(c) if there is no stop line or stop here on red signal sign at or near the traffic lights—as near as practicable to, but before reaching, the nearest or only traffic lights,
and must not proceed past the stop line, stop here on red signal sign or nearest or only traffic lights (as the case may be) until the traffic lights show a green or flashing yellow traffic light or no traffic light.
And then: Stopping for a yellow traffic light or arrow
(1) A driver approaching or at traffic lights showing a yellow traffic light must stop:
(a) if there is a stop line at or near the traffic lights and the driver can stop safely before reaching the stop line—as near as practicable to, but before reaching, the stop line, or
(b) if there is no stop line at or near the traffic lights and the driver can stop safely before reaching the traffic lights—as near as practicable to, but before reaching, the nearest or only traffic lights, or
(c) if the traffic lights are at an intersection and the driver cannot stop safely in accordance with paragraph (a) or (b), but can stop safely before entering the intersection—before entering the intersection,
and must not proceed past the stop line or nearest or only traffic lights, or into the intersection (as the case may be), until the traffic lights show a green or flashing yellow traffic light or no traffic light.
So, again, it’s really not a hard thing to come to grips with.
What does seem to be a source of confusion is when to indicate at a roundabout. In NSW the legislation states:
Giving a left change of direction signal when entering a roundabout
(1) This rule applies to a driver entering a roundabout if:
(a) the driver is to leave the roundabout at the first exit after entering the roundabout, and
(b) the exit is less than halfway around the roundabout.
(2) Before entering the roundabout, the driver must give a left change of direction signal for long enough to give sufficient warning to other drivers and pedestrians.
(3) The driver must continue to give the change of direction signal until the driver has left the roundabout.
Giving a right change of direction signal when entering a roundabout
(1) This rule applies to a driver entering a roundabout if the driver is to leave the roundabout more than halfway around it.
(2) Before entering the roundabout, the driver must give a right change of direction signal for long enough to give sufficient warning to other drivers and pedestrians.
(3) The driver must continue to give the change of direction signal while the driver is driving in the roundabout, unless:
(a) the driver is changing marked lanes, or entering another line of traffic, or
(b) the driver’s vehicle is not fitted with direction indicator lights, or
(c) the driver is about to leave the roundabout.
- Slow down and prepare to give way as you approach the roundabout.
- On approach you must be in the left lane unless otherwise marked on the road, and indicate a left turn.
- You must give way to traffic already on the roundabout if there is any risk of a collision.
- Enter the roundabout when there is a safe gap in the traffic.
- Stay in the left lane.
- Keep your left indicator on until you have exited the roundabout.
- Slow down and prepare to give way as you approach the roundabout.
- On approach you must be in the right lane unless otherwise marked on the road, and indicate a right turn.
- You must give way to traffic already on the roundabout if there is any risk of a collision.
- Enter the roundabout when there is a safe gap in the traffic.
- Stay in the right lane.
- You must indicate a left turn just before your exit unless it is not practical to do so.
When it comes to some styles of roundabouts, where there’s clearly a change of direction for one or two lanes, the same applies: INDICATE TO SHOW WHICH DIRECTION YOU ARE GOING.
When it comes to overtaking, it seems pretty simple: No overtaking etc to the left of a vehicle
(1) A driver (except the rider of a bicycle) must not overtake a vehicle to the left of the vehicle unless:
(a) the driver is driving on a multi-lane road and the vehicle can be safely overtaken in a marked lane to the left of the vehicle, or
(b) the vehicle is turning right, or making a U-turn from the centre of the road, and is giving a right change of direction signal and it is safe to overtake to the left of the vehicle, or
(c) the vehicle is stationary and it is safe to overtake to the left of the vehicle.
Naturally, don’t overtake a vehicle on the right if that vehicle is turning right.
When it comes to driving with our younger people, again, it should be simple, their safety is paramount and this is how it looks in NSW: If the passenger is less than 6 months old, he or she must be restrained in a suitable and properly fastened and adjusted rearward facing approved child restraint. If the passenger is 6 months old or older, but is less than 4 years old, he or she must be restrained in a suitable and properly fastened and adjusted:
(a) rearward facing approved child restraint, or
(b) forward facing approved child restraint that has an inbuilt harness.
If the passenger is 4 years old or older, but is less than 7 years old, he or she must:
(a) be restrained in a suitable and properly fastened and adjusted forward facing approved child restraint that has an inbuilt harness, or
(b) be placed on a properly positioned approved booster seat and be restrained by either a suitable lap and sash type approved seatbelt that is properly adjusted and fastened, or by a suitable approved child safety harness that is properly adjusted and fastened, or
(c) if he or she is seated in a seating position in a part of the vehicle that is designed primarily for the carriage of goods:
(i) be restrained by a suitable lap and sash style seatbelt that is properly adjusted and fastened, or
(ii) have his or her hip restrained by a suitable lap type seatbelt that is properly adjusted and fastened, and have his or her upper body restrained by an approved child safety harness that is properly adjusted and fastened.
As stated, these are regulations for road users in NSW;( http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/viewtop/inforce/subordleg+179+2008+fn+0+N) for your home state (and country, for that matter!), please look up the regulations for your area.
I don’t know about you, but does it seem, in the light of Megan’s wonderful contributions recently, that the ability of people to take responsibility for their actions has decreased to the point that it’s almost illegal to be seen as doing so? Road rage is here and it’s here to stay. Yet there really are no reasons why it should be, BUT it’s also too easy to understand why road rage exists, given some of the truly awesomely garbage antics that are meant to be examples of driving, that we see on our roads daily. When a driver’s error (or two or five…) are pointed out, instead of a “yeah, sorry mate, you’re right, I shouldn’t have cut across three lanes to end up in front of you before slamming on the brakes so you almost hit me whilst I was texting”, you’re met with a torrent of abuse that would make a drill sergeant blush. Hang on, I’ve been driving correctly, doing nothing wrong, except for maybe listening to the radio station I swore I’d never listen to again but it’s MY fault that your driving standards are so bad that even Helen Keller could do a better job? In her sleep?
So what IS it that has people cursing you instead of acknowledging their error? What is it that’s gone wrong in society that to be seen doing the right thing is now the wrong thing? Driving a car really isn’t that hard, especially with the (to my mind) overwhelming push to automate almost every aspect of driving. Hop in, press the Start button, move a short, stubby lever to D and that’s about it. So why is it so hard to indicate, to slow down and stop for a red light, to go the right way in a shopping centre car park, to stop and check for traffic at an intersection rather than hammering through? And why is it so hard to acknowledge that doing those is wrong when someone says so?
A common response from our illmannered brethren is “You a cop mate? If you’re not a cop, why don’t you f##k off?” So, in order to be seen to be doing the right thing, a good driver pointing out a bad driver’s errors also has to be a cop? Does that also mean that you have to be a cop to pull a dog off another dog or a child? Does that mean you have to be a cop to shake your head at someone shoplifting? No, you don’t and to think so is absurd.
In the world of motoring, we come across some things which baffle us; why we seem to get a string of red lights, for example, or why road designers insist on making roundabouts too big for buses to use properly. These are, generally, pretty easy to deal with, in the greater scheme of things. But why someone thinks it IS perfectly ok to stand on the brake pedal in front of you after cutting in front, only for you to see there was, in fact, nothing of front of them, and when you toot your horn in perfectly understandable human frustration you get thrown a barrage of verbal bricks, is one of life’s current imponderables. And, in the interest of fairness, it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, you’re a driver of a car, a 1500 kilogram potential weapon. If you’ve done something wrong and it’s pointed out, it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, you’re a crap driver.
It’s not illegal to take responsibility for your crap actions on the road, do what Megan so correctly suggests here at point 6: http://blog.privatefleet.com.au/home/calm-the-farm-avoiding-road-rage/ so if doing the right thing is too hard, if using indicators is too hard, if driving without your iFone headphones plugged into your ears (stupid, given you have a radio with inputs in your car!), if admitting you’re wrong is too hard then, please, do the rest of us a favour and hand your license in. It’s illegal to drive badly but it’s not illegal to be told you have been.
One of the biggest bits of news in the car world over the past few weeks has been the launch of the new Mazda MX-5. We’ve been teased with little bits of information for a long while now, and Mazda have been pretty secretive, as you’d expect, as to what we can look forward to. Now however, the cat is out the bag, and boy does it look good.
The original car, launched to great acclaim in 1989, caused us to rethink the traditional two seater roadster. Gone were the days of poorly maintained, unreliable British roadsters from the likes of MG and Austin – here was a modern, Japanese, technologically advanced and most importantly reliable sports car that was cheap and accessible to the masses. It brought a new way of thinking in the sports car world – and subsequent versions have been by far and away the best selling cars of their type. It’s easy to see, therefore, how exciting the launch of a new MX-5 is for fans of both the brands and petrolheads in general.
It’s clear that the main design cues from the original MX-5 have been retained. We’re now in the car’s 4th incarnation and there’s a lot to be said by the way it looks. Fantastic lines, great curves and a thoroughly modern approach.
Top line figures for the new mx5 look distinctly promising, and although the engine options are unconfirmed we’re likely to have Mazda’s newest SKYACTIV engine technology and two examples producing 1.5L and 2.0L at 135 and 160 horsepower respecitvely. This should be more than enough – seeing as the car looks set to weigh much less than the outgoing model.
We can expect to see more of the car on Australian shores in the second half of 2015. If the last versions are anything to go by, and if it drives as well, this is likely to be hugely popular. It’s got a lot to live up to, but I think we can all agree this is a particularly exciting car to look forward to.
In my last post, I discussed road rage and how to avoid it. Now, in any discussion of road rage, there are two sides to the story, if not more. For nearly every incident of road rage (but not all of them), there has probably been a bad driving habit that has triggered it.
Some things really press other people’s buttons more than others. The ultimate way to avoid road rage, therefore, is to avoid these bad habits. Recently, I came across a survey from the UK that listed the ten most annoying driving habits that get other drivers steaming hot under the collar. I’m not sure how many of these ones are just as annoying here Down Under but most of them will be.
So it’s confession time. How many of these bad habits, presented in ascending order of annoyance, have you been guilty of?
10 Red light jumping. This either refers to that person who believes that the orange light means “speed up so you can get to the other side before the light turns red” or the person who knows that the light is going to turn green any second now and starts inching forward while the opposing light is still orange. Or else it’s both of these habits. Can anyone else see the major crash in the making here?
9 Being slow at traffic lights. This is the reverse of the person who inches forward before the light changes. This person has been quietly chilling out at the traffic lights while waiting for the green light and is now away with the pixies. Hopefully, they haven’t been trying to check their phone while waiting. The honk of a horn behind them is what jerks them back into the real world in a flurry of acceleration and gear changing.
8 Hesitant or tentative driving. OK, this is my bad habit, so I’m more likely to forgive it in others. Put it down to years of being a cyclist and to downsizing from my responsive automatic big engined Ford Falcon to a smaller engined and rather elderly manual Nissan ute that is a bit slower getting off the mark. Hesitation is also a hallmark of half the people on L and P plates (the other half are way overconfident). Getting angry at nervous drivers, yelling abuse at them and the like is only going to make them more nervous. This strikes me as a situation where patience is called for – but I’m biased!
7 Overtaking on the left. In most cases, this is illegal, unless there are multiple lanes (e.g. on a one-way street, in places where there are “vehicles with more than one passenger” lanes or bike lanes). It does happen when there is someone driving a snail in the fast lane on the right.
6 Sudden braking, especially at traffic lights. This usually gives the driver behind the heebie-jeebies. However, I can’t help viewing this “bad habit” in the context of Habit 10 and Habit 2. What’s more, we all know that there are situations where sudden braking has to be done – and sometimes, the car can do it for us. If someone brakes suddenly at the traffic lights, give them the benefit of the doubt: they might be able to see a fire engine with lights and sirens going coming that you can’t.
5 Using the flush median as an extra driving lane. OK, if you need to turn right and there’s a flush median provided, you need to go there. But if you’re just using it to overtake other drivers… don’t.
4 Dangerous overtaking. You know the person – the one that overtakes you and is about to overtake the car in front of you but then realises that there’s a B-train coming the other way so he/she cuts in between you and the car in front of you, forcing you to bang on the brakes to avoid rear-ending them.
3 Not indicating or indicating incorrectly. This would actually be at the top of my list and is the reason why I’m tentative at roundabouts – you never know if that nut indicating left at the roundabout is actually going to go straight through or if the person who looks like they’re coming straight through in the opposite direction to you is going to turn right at the last moment.
2 Tailgating. The flip side of Habit 6 and possibly Habit 7. Intimidates and annoys people, and if they have to bang on the brakes because a cat runs across the road, you’re going to ram them and the insurance company will probably consider you to be at fault.
1 Texting while driving. You may think that texting while driving only affects one person, but it’s usually the cause of people failing to look before they enter an intersection, indicating late (or not at all) or being slow at the green lights.
So did this UK survey miss anything? What presses your buttons?
A certain bank has a singer reciting the refrain “Three Little Letters”. There’s three little letters that resonate with fans of Australian motorsport; they are H D T, Holden Dealer Team. The origin of this goes back to the late 1960s, with the legendary Harry Firth putting together a team of star racing drivers. Amongst them was a young bloke by the name of Peter Geoffrey Brock.Fast forward to the late 1970s and Holden have released their new car, called Commodore. The first model was the VB, followed by the VC, in 1980. As part of a deal organised by Brock in order to get solid finanical backing, he’d agreed to put his name to smartened up versions of the VC and thus was HDT SV (Special Vehicles) born.
In 1984, the VK Commodore was released; marketed as a world class car, it became the basis for what has become, possibly, the most famous car from the HDT factory. Australia had moved to follow the international Group A motorsport classification and Brock’s magic wand was about to be waved over the VK. A process called homologation was in place, effectively a way of showing that cars that could be raced were to be sold to the public and not specifically developed just for racing; with 500 needing to be sold the HDT team swung into action. The venerable Holden 5.0L (308 cubic inches) was, under Group A regulations, destroked to 304ci (4987cc), a body kit was bolted on, consisting of a deep front air dam, side skirts, huge rear spoiler, “letterbox” grille and silver or white painted aero wheels with the car itself based on the SS model available. The engine pumped out a decent, at the time, 196kW and had a massive 418Nm of torque at a usable 3600 revs, breathing through a HDT specific cold air intake and a Rochester 4 barrel carbie mounted on a port matched intake manifold. Power was put down through the rear tyres via a four speed M21 manual transmission and single plate dry clutch however a five speed was optional. Bridgestone supplied the rubber, their Potenza 225/50s on those luscious 16 inch diameter wheels and the car rode on the tried and proven McPherson struts/Panhard rod suspension. Stopping power was provided courtesy of the 281mm discs, vented at the front. The colour that would be the seed for the car’s now legendary status, Formula Blue, coated the VK’s flanks and close to thirty years after it was released, still looks fantastic. SS Group A decals, complete with the Brock signature, were placed on the front quarter panels and badges were placed inside confirming that your car was, indeed, one of the (in this case) 502 built.
Performance was considerable; with a body weighing just 1340 kilograms, first gear would see 87 km/h on the clock, on the way to 100 km/h in just seven seconds. The grunt of the 4.9L would ultimately propel the slippery beast through to a top speed of 215 km/h and cover the standing 400m in a then rocket like (for a non racing car) 15 seconds. The price for all of this performance? There was a premium over the standard car, to be sure, at a lick under $22000, plus aircon was a $1035 option… but it’s the car that has firmly implanted the HDT SV name into the Australian automotive consciousness. After Brock died in that terrible crash in 2006, his good mate, Peter Champion, bought the HDT SV business and continues to build excitement, including the VE Commodore based “Blue Meanie”.
Road rage is hardly a new phenomenon. Losing one’s temper and exploding at some dimwit who has got in the way of your means of transport doesn’t just pre-date the horseless carriage – it predates the steam engine, sprung suspension and four-wheeled forms of transport. Yep, back when horse- and ox-drawn carts had only two wheels and rivers were the best form of rapid transport, they had road rage. Or, more accurately, river rage. There is an Egyptian tomb painting showing two boatmen having a scrap, presumably after one has cut the other off or rammed the other. Archaeologists translated the hieroglyphics in speech bubbles and found that one of the boatmen is yelling “Take that, you f***er!” at the other.
OK, so it’s human nature to get annoyed when somebody just about takes you out because they were not looking when they were going. However, the authorities these days take a stricter view of having a transport-related punch-up compared to the ancient Egyptians, so how do you avoid road rage?
- Get a decent night’s sleep. This way, you won’t be as irritable and you’re also less likely to make mistakes that annoy other people.
- Plan ahead and allow plenty of time. If you do everything in a rush at the last minute, little things that slow you down or cause delays are going to get on your wick even more. What’s more, being late and in a rush gets your adrenaline going – the “fight or flight” chemical. You’re practically priming yourself for aggro. So allow extra time for your journey and don’t stress yourself out.
- Everybody has the same road rights, whether they drive a big-engined HSV Senator or a frugal little Suzuki Swift. However, cars have different limitations. OK, so that old clunker hasn’t whipped into a gap in the traffic at the intersection that you would have taken. This is possibly because said old clunker doesn’t have the quick acceleration of your car and the driver knows it. So don’t honk your horn. If you were going up a flight of stairs somewhere public and you were held up by an elderly person going a bit slow, you probably wouldn’t yell at Grandpa/Grandma for not going any faster. Have the same sort of consideration behind the wheel.
- Remember that L-plates and even P-plates mean “young and inexperienced driver who is likely to stuff things up, take things slow or do something unexpected”. You’re the adult, so act like one.
- Be a courteous driver. If you avoid sudden lane changes, tailgating or cutting people off, you’re less likely to tick other drivers off and get yourself on the receiving end of road rage. Look both ways before turning out of an exit before you move not while you move. And, for goodness’ sake, don’t text and drive! It’s illegal for one thing and it does make you less aware of what other drivers are doing. Even if you do have blind spot sensors, crash avoidance systems and all the other safety features that you get on the latest models.
- If someone does come storming up to your car swearing blue streak and waving fists around, apologise and admit you were wrong if you were wrong. Female drivers have the non-PC but effective option of getting tearful when menaced by an angry male driver. Forgive me, women’s rights campaigners, but this one did work for me once. Stay in your car and don’t rise to any provocation.
- Give the other driver the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps that driver who seems to be up your exhaust pipe or who cut you off in a huge hurry is a doctor who’s had an emergency callout or is a parent who’s got a call from the school to say that their child is badly hurt. Perhaps the person who’s weaving all over the place has a wasp in the car. Perhaps the person who is going slower than the speed limit is from out of town and doesn’t have a navigation system, and is trying to read the road signs; or perhaps they’re taking something sloppy and sticky to a potluck dinner and don’t want to spill it by fast acceleration, cornering and braking.
One of the world’s newest supercars is getting ready to storm into Australia’s east coast showrooms with the impending launch of the Lamborghini Huracán 610-4. Heading to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, potentially in September (exact dates unconfirmed at time of writing) the 448kW/560Nm 5.2L V10 engined brute features a seven speed transmission, a carbon fibre/aluminuim chassis and rolls on elegant 20 inch diameter, ten spoke, alloys, clad in 245/30 front and massive 305/30 rear Pirelli tyres, specifically and specially designed and engineered for the 325 km/h beast. The name comes from the horsepower figure, 610, and all four corners providing drive. Peak power is seen at a stratospheric 8250 revs and torque at 6500rpm. Central to the Lamborghini Huracán’s imposing look is the wedge design, with the height almost exactly half of the car’s width. It’s 2236mm in overall width, stands just 1165mm tall and is a lithe 4459mm in length. It’s a compact wheelbase at 2620mm and has a broad track at the front, at 1668mm whilst the rear, thanks to the huge rubber, is just 1620mm. All up weight is a sneeze over 1420 kg, allowing a horsepower to weight ratio of just 2.33 kilos per pony. Sipping an average of just 12.5L of fuel per 100 kilometres from the 80 litre tank, the Huracán will power to 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds on its way to 200 klicks in 9.9 seconds. It’s also Euro6 emissions compliant at 290 grams CO2 per km, with the engine breathing out through four catalytic converters and powers all four paws via a 7-speed LDF dual-clutch transmission, with a slightly uneven weight balance of 42% front to 58% rear. The electrically assisted steering (optionable for Lamborghini Dynamic Steering for a more racing like feel) helps the Huracán turn in 11.2 metres. The two seater interior has body snuggling seats, with the driver facing a digital dashboard and stitched leather console. Externally, the good looks continue with a clear panel showing off the powerplant nestled behind the passenger cell. The Huracán takes over from the mega successful Gallardo, with 14022 units produced over a decade and covers half of all Lamborghinis sold since the company was founded in 1963. In keeping with the famous tradition, the Huracán draws upon bullfighting, in this instance, going back to 1879 and a bull of the Spanish Conte de la Patilla breeding. Sebastien Henry, head of Lamborghini Automobilia for the South East Asian and Pacific regions, said ahead of the Australian launch: “”We are very proud to officially launch the new Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 here in Australia. Automobili Lamborghini continues to set new benchmarks in the luxury super sports car industry with its pure and cutting edge technology, and we expect the Huracán to be well received in this country.” Perth, in Western Australia, already has a showroom. Australians, being a tech savvy lot, will appreciate the all LED lighting externally, a first for a supercar and the design feature of a single line, in silhouette, from the windscreen over the passenger cell to the rear, passing the side mounted engine air intakes. Apart from hi-tech chassis, buyers will also get a bonded aluminuim and composite structure, carbon ceramic brakes discs with a pizza platter sized 380mm disc at the front and 356mm at the rear. Pricewise, Lamborghini offers to lighten your wallet to the tune of $428,000 plus on roads and government charges, with three years warranty and unlimited kilometres attached to a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty. Orders are and will be taken via all four showrooms when they open on the east coast. For more information head across to www.lamborghini.com.