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That’s My Girl: My Car and Me

Over time, I have started to notice that our complex cultural foundation consequentially provides us all with curious personality traits. one of the most fascinating is our ability to animate the inanimate. Most of the time its when something goes wrong of course. The classic example comes when you stub your toe on your coffee table, and yet you put all fault on the coffee table as if it got up and moved in the way of your toe. If it was the case that the coffee table had animated abilities, I can imagine it flinging its arms (well, legs) in the air and violently protesting at our inability to accept personal fault for anything we do wrong.

Whether it is blaming a wooden table for your clumsy toe stubbing, or having a ‘conversation’ with your pet (seriously, cats cannot understand you, nor can they speak English), we often enter into some form of emotional relationship with the world around us, whether it is living or not. There is no more prevalent example than that of the automobile. At the end of the day, the car is nothing more than a selection of raw materials, cleverly blended together and combined to create an internal combustion engine attached to a passenger compartment atop a foundation of wheels. Surely a car is nothing more than a means to an end? They take us exactly where we want to go; none of this public transport malarkey. And yet, it is not that simple. Over time, something has happened; an evolution has risen from the darkness right under our noses.

The car is no longer a vehicle. She’s a lady. She’s a friend. She’s a member of the family.

It was just the other day when this realisation reared its devastating head. My current lady has been with me since last September, since she was passed onto me by my dad after he moved onto a younger woman. Since our union, our relationship has blossomed with me growing accustomed to her ways. However, until the moment my world came coughing, spluttering and misfiring down around me, I had yet to realise the truth of the relationship.

This is M'Lady - a 2002 MG ZS

This is M’Lady – a 2002 MG ZS, adorned in the beauty of floral surroundings

A day like any other; how could any other day take such a downward spiral? As I drove along, my usual smooth ride was replaced by misfiring, jerking and what appeared to be an engine that was on the way out. Having your engine cut out on you at 40mph is definitely a moment that sees an exponential rise in clenching. Luckily enough for me, I was able to drag her sorry self into a local car park and call the AA. No, that is not alcoholics anonymous, by the way. I was told that the problem was most likely one of an electrical nature, and repair would involve either replacing the spark plugs, the coil, or something much more expensive like the catalytic converter.

It was as I stepped back to see the AA man reaching into the heart of my car that I realised that she truly is just more than a car to me. It was like watching a surgeon performing open heart surgery upon someone I love very much. The hardest hit came slamming home when her engine still felt so rough; my little girl was fighting consciousness and it was painful to watch. It was finally decided that her ailment was too strong to be cured on site, so now I find myself playing the waiting game. My lady sits dormant until she can be seen and saved. Britain has the National Health Service, and considering what may have to be done to her, I wish there was a NHS for cars. But she deserves nothing but the best, and I will do all I can to bring her back to health.

You notice that throughout my narration of my woes, I referred to my car in the feminine. Ever since the evolution of the mechanical and engineering world, the creations of humanity have often been given a female personality. The most famous of these would be cars and ships. For women are a true force of nature, and they deserved to be respected as such through the personification of our machines.

Cars have become part of the modern family. Many would still call it stupid, but many of us have formed emotional attachments to our cars. They are such an important part of our world, it is only fitting that we project a little part of ourselves onto them. In a similar manner to our pets, we know we do not truly understand our cars. Like the coffee table we know they are but an inanimate object. Alas, we still treat them as one of our own.

If it is as ridiculous as many of you cynics would claim, then why is it such a widespread occurrence to name your own car and give them a personality? Psychologically, the car is a place of both familiarity and freedom; we devote a lot of time, money and love into maintaining our motor machines. There remains few other aspects of our lives that require such an attention and time scale. Saying goodbye to an old car has similar outbursts to that of seeing an old age relative for the final time, or waving goodbye to your children as they go off and start a new life away from the family home.

Such a phenomenon is not limited to those who enjoy the automotive world; the reaches of such an affliction can take hold of any of us. I have known friends who have little to no interest in cars, talk about cars using only their name as if they were a brother or sister. I believe that this is not something to judge, it is something to celebrate.

And as these words of mine draw to a close, I sit and wonder as to the fate of my own machine. For my lady has fallen ill, and it will take life saving surgery to bring her back to her once glorious self. I used to be full of skepticism when people would get so attached to their cars, but now I understand. The motoring world is becoming ever more engrained into the human sphere.

Is it only a matter of time before cars start developing their own personalities? Will there be a future where man fuses his consciousness with the machines?

Only time will tell.

Follow me on Twitter @lewisglynn69!

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love!

Milestone: 500 Posts on Private Fleet’s blog.

Winter is officially here, so now is a great time to check your tyres, for both age and depth of tread. Age as rubber does dry out and become brittle over time if not looked after and depth because it’s those grooves in your tyres that pump out the wet stuff when the roads get rained on. Lesser grooves means more water under the tyres which can lead to aquaplaning and a potential crash.private_fleet_logo

Private Fleet is here to help you get as best a deal as possible on a new car but we’re also here to provide information, buying tips and share information. That information, in various ways, is also shared via Private Fleet’s blog and THIS is the 500th blog article!

It’s a huge thanks to the team at Private Fleet for the effort they put in every day helping you buy a new car, but it’s also thanks to YOU, the buying public for staying with Private Fleet, letting your family and friends know what we do, telling us what a great job the wonderful team at Private Fleet have done to get you into your new wheels. Just as important is the thanks that go to the contributors to the blog since its inception; there’s been many a great article covering all aspects of the automotive and motorsports fields and, as a contributor, I’m proud to be part of the team.

Happy 500 blog articles, Private Fleet, here’s to many more!cake-candles1

BTCC 2014 Review: Honda Dominates at Thruxton Thriller

Thruxton race track is considered one of the fastest and most thrilling tracks across Britain, and it is for this very reason that it has been a regular on the BTCC calendar for almost as long as the championship has been running. The infamous Church Corner is one of the fastest corners in British motor sport, with cornering speeds of over 120mph. When the BTCC grid puts rubber to tarmac, one can rest easy knowing that they will be in for a Thruxton thriller, and 2014 definitely did not fail to deliver.

Thruxton Circuit Layout

Thruxton Circuit Layout

Thruxton in recent years has very much been dominated by Honda, and 2014 was very much a similar story. Throughout all of the practice sessions and qualifying, reigning champion Andrew Jordan took a commanding lead on the time sheets. The Yuasa Hondas of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden were not too far behind, clocking up an eventual 1-2-3 in qualifying. The Hondas have never been the fastest machines, but it is their handling that puts them on top. Thruxton may appear to be a speed track, but its constant cornering requires a strong handling package. The track pushes cars to the very edge of adhesion, and unlike the laborious new Tilke-tracks with endless tarmac run-off, if you make a mistake at Thruxton you WILL be propelled off into the countryside.

No mercy. Only the greatest shall survive.

Speaking of the touring car greats, Thruxton saw the longest-standing record in the BTCC finally fall. All the way back in 2002, at the dawn of what was then a new era for touring cars Yvan Muller set a blistering time of 1.16.369. During qualifying, Andrew Jordan finally toppled the time with a 1.16.192. People can say a lot about developments from year to year, but it did take 12 years to beat a lap record, AND it was only by 0.177.
Qualifying saw the return of Ford to the competitive end of the field, with Mat Jackson putting his Focus on 4th. Rob Austin on the other hand has always admitted that Thruxton has not suited his Audi all that much, and the best he could manage was a lowly 21st.

The Ford team impressed across the weekend, thanks to a turbo adjustment. Image Credit: BTCC.net

The Ford team impressed across the weekend, thanks to a turbo adjustment. Image Credit: BTCC.net

The first race proved exactly why Andrew Jordan and Pirtek racing are the current champions of the sport; having never won at Thruxton despite numerous pole positions, Jordan finally beat his demons and drove away from the field in the perfect driving display, followed by the Yuasa Hondas. After a slight mistake in race two, Jordan lost his lead to flying Flash Gordon Shedden. Rob Collard got one of his proudest podiums to date in race two after getting an absolute demon start off the line. It is one of the advantages of running a rear wheel drive car after all.

The conclusion of the second race was somewhat premature, following an incident between Rob Austin and Nick Foster, ending in Foster’s car literally leapfrogging the circuit barrier and into the countryside beyond. Fortunately both drivers were unharmed and both would return for race three. However, the incident did bring out the red flags for race two.

During the first two events, the reverse grid had only affected the usual suspects at the top of the time sheets (Honda, MG and BMW). However, as Giovanardi (who finished 10th in race 2) put his hand into the lottery-style draw, he pulled out, you guessed it, his own number. With the top 10 reversed for race three and Giovanardi on pole, were we going to see a bit of a mix up to proceedings?

Jack Goff proved the Vauxhall Insignia is a worthy touring car in race three. Image Credit: BTCC.net

Jack Goff proved the Vauxhall Insignia is a worthy touring car in race three. Image Credit: BTCC.net

With the reverse grid, race three was never going to be dull. As the lights went out, Giovanardi charged away in his Ford, only to be quickly caught and passed by the race three master himself Colin Turkington. Behind him, Adam Morgan lost his Mercedes and shot into the side of Plato which brought about a fitting end to his highly disappointing weekend. Plato comes away from Thruxton with a 6th. 7th and a DNF to his name. That is never helpful for a man who wants to win title number 3!

After a horrific accident involving Ollie Jackson brought out the yellow flags (Ollie was fine, his Proton…not so much), the charging Mat Jackson passed the 3rd place Jack Goff. After a blistering end to the 2013 season, Goff has not yet impressed too much in 2014. His 2nd place start gave him the chance to shine again. As the race began he found himself 3rd behind Giovanardi, challenging hard to pass the Italian former champion.

It appeared to many that Jackson had passed under yellows; Goff had already slowed to obey the flags and Jackson powered past him. But no call came for him to give the place back to Goff. In my view, at NO point is it alright to pass under yellow flag conditions; and it is common courtesy to not pass when the car in front is already beginning to slow. Technically speaking it may not have been illegal, but I think it goes against the spirit of the sport. Maybe that’s just me.

After the first safety car, Turkington stormed back off into the lead only to be halted by yet another incident. Simon Belcher rolled his Toyota Avensis at Church and went barreling into the woods at over 120mph. His car completely disappeared out of sight; luckily a few seconds later a slightly dazed Belcher appeared from the trees. We can but hope his car can be repaired for the next round!

Simon Belcher was lucky to walk away from his gut-wrenching roll. Image Credit: BTCC.net

Simon Belcher was lucky to walk away from his gut-wrenching roll. Image Credit: BTCC.net

Mat Jackson proved that he is very much back on form, eventually taking Giovanardi to lead home the Ford challenge for a double podium. There has been talk about the ‘balance of performance’ by adjusting the turbo boost on each car; Thruxton in my eyes proved that in the case of the BTCC it really does work. The Ford team are now a new addition to the top of the field and will challenge for more podiums and wins throughout the season.

As the race neared its end, Neal and Collard were tussling for position when Neal pushed Collard in order to get passed. And so, in the true spirit of touring cars, as they entered the Cambell-Cobb-Seagrave complex on the next lap, Collard sought his revenge and gave Matt and rather large push sending them both off onto the grass and losing places. Collard would finish 10th and Neal 23rd. Some would say that the push was uncalled for. But touring cars is a fair sport. An eye for an eye and all that.

If there was a prize for unluckiest driver of the weekend, it would usually go to Rob Austin. But this weekend it would have to be Alain Menu. After finishing a promising 7th in the first race, Menu was given a drive through penalty for being out of position in his grid box when the field reformed after the warm up lap. He struggled back to 18th in race two, to then manage an 11th in race three. The only good thing to come out of his constant need to battle up the grid this year is that he has retained his lead in the Jack Sears trophy. Upon his return to the touring cars in 1993 with the new Ford team at Pembrey, Andy Rouse described his return as ‘having a target painted on the side of his car’. It would appear that for Menu the same is now true. But as the double champion and ultimate touring car star, he will battle through it.

Yet another unlucky weekend has kept Menu his lead in the Jack Sears Trophy. Image Credit: BTCC.net

Yet another unlucky weekend has kept Menu his lead in the Jack Sears Trophy. Image Credit: BTCC.net

However, it was not all bad luck for Team BMR at Thruxton. After starting the weekend with a rebuilt car, Aron Smith worked his way up to 22nd in race one, 14th in race two and then 7th in race three. Steady progress lead to a good final result for Smith. As soon as Team BMR stop suffering some of the worst luck in recorded history, they may finally be able to challenge for podium finishes and maybe even the odd win.

Following the end of the racing, concerns were raised about the safety of the track at Thruxton. Simon Belcher called for gravel traps to be installed around Church. Considering the high speed nature of the corner, any collision there can be massively dangerous. It was just lucky that Jackson, Foster and Belcher all escaped their excursions into the wilderness with no injuries. It is an issue that must be discussed and perhaps these incidents are the wake up call that some needed.

We leave Thruxton knowing that the rest of the season will only get better and better. The Ford challenge has finally reached a competitive level with Jackson and Giovanardi, which will upset the balance of power at the top. With MG having a disappointing weekend and Honda dominating so powerfully, have they suffered a damaging blow to their championship hopes? Will Rob Austin along with fellow luck-absentees Team BMR finally get something to go their way later on in the year?

For full results and championship standings please visit: http://www.btcc.net/results/

Follow me on Twitter for more Touring Car madness @lewisglynn69!

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love!

The London Commute: Do I Have Any Hair Left?

As we amble through this rat race known as life, there will be times when we will have to come face to face with some of the horrors of the modern world. This morning, as I awoke from my deep slumber, I knew not what lay before me. The objective was simple; I had to drive from my home in the Kentish lands to my place of work in Central London. On any other day, this would be a simple pleasure for me, seeing as most of the time the drive to London really rather easy.

Alas, this was no ‘most of the time’. This was a Friday. Not just a Friday, but a Friday morning commute.

Friday is just another weekday, there are four others just like it. Why is it that everything just tumbles into dismay on a Friday? Are there certain people that have been hired by the government to do nothing but clog up the roads with their terrible driving and time wasting.

At some point, wherever we may be, we will come into contact with the nightmare that is the commute. It really is no shock to me that so many people begin to go bald as they get older, considering how much of my hair I was tearing out this morning.

Let’s break it down…

Endless lines of brake lights and slow moving sadness. Image Credit: FreeFoto.com

Endless lines of brake lights and slow moving sadness. Image Credit: FreeFoto.com

Paying to be stuck in traffic?

The Congestion Charge was introduced to London in 2003, and still remains in force today. The theory was for the government to profit out of the misery of the people driving to wor- Wait, I mean, the theory was to introduce the scheme in order to reduce traffic levels in the capital. To give them their credit, on the first day the charge was put in use, the capital saw a 25% drop in traffic going in and out.

But for those people who have no other option than to drive into the city, they just have to suffer the financial stab. £10 a day does start to add up after a while. Most of the time I get the train into London, but there are occasions where I need to drive. As with anyone who has a job, no one likes to be late, and I especially do not cherish the thought that I am paying the mayor of London money and still be late to work.

I have however come up with a solution, thanks to my genius.

Instead of forcing people to pay the congestion charge to come to my fair city, you give the chance for an ‘optional charge’, which would give drivers access to a special ‘express lane’ if you will that is reserved only for those who pay. Considering how some people are quite desperate to get to London for a certain time, it would mean that the government still keep the taps flowing on their money baths for them to swim in. With those in a hurry and with the financial strength, they get the reduced traffic, while the rest of the world can accept the traffic but not have to pay.

The simple fact of the matter is, do not make the common man pay for the promise of reduced congestion, when the reality is still stress, traffic and sadness.

The Special Kind Of Idiot

90% of the time, people understand and respect the rules of the road, therefore driving in a sensible and proper manner. And yet, we get to Friday and it would seem the inner idiot comes bubbling forth in a monumental display of stupid and downright dangerous driving.

For most of my drive to London, the roads have two lanes. This is great because it spreads the traffic out, but it does however give the idiots a chance to speed from lane to lane as soon as one starts moving faster than the other. This morning for instance this happened in front of me and I was near inches from colliding with an expensive looking BMW. Of course, according to the idiot that dwelled within, this was all my fault and nothing to do with the fact the driver left it until the last minute to speed out of the other lane without looking to check it was safe (all while smoking I might add).

And then of course we have the cyclists. The cyclists who seemed to have appointed themselves lord masters of the roads. I understand that drivers do not always give them the respect they deserve, but sometimes they do take the p*** a little bit. If you are going to cycle in the middle of the road with a queue of cars behind you, when you could very easily move over, do not act surprised when I sound my horn at you. On a similar note, do not just ride up to the front of a queue at the traffic lights then slow down right in front of me when the lights go green. I mean come on.

As Aretha Franklin demanded so beautifully, we all just need to have a bit of R-E-S-P-E-CT.

The Saddest Snake In The World

The central problem in this entire scenario is the nature of the traffic itself. There is a commonly held belief that those of a British persuasion love to queue, well I can tell you that this tradition is not one based in a warm affection. In my eyes anyway, the queue is one of the single most painful experiences I have to go through. As I sit there, the end of my journey feeling like an impossible dream, there is nothing but an air of frustration and claustrophobia that surrounds me.

In a usual driving situation, if you are faced with a slow moving snail of a driver in front of you, it is often possible to overtake safely on a straight stretch of road. But when the speed is a result of traffic jam, there is nothing you can do. All you want to do is pull out and speed away into happiness, alas you are trapped. Every movement, followed by every sudden stop is one of the most frustrating things. You begin to think the traffic is ending, you change gear, find your rhythm and then STOP. It is at this moment I usually wish death and destruction upon the faces of the masses.

The result of too much traffic can only be rage

The result of too much traffic can only be rage

 

So, with the combination of all these elements, it really does become apparent that the congestion will have nothing except a bad effect on you. The minutes rush by, transforming into hours, and there you are, stuck in the the body of the snake. As you slither slowly towards salvation, you feel a primal ooze of volcanic rage bubbling wildly inside you. We all try and fight it, but the demons take hold. The seeds burst open and blossom into a grand oak of road rage.

My point is, my London traffic experience is not good. I don’t know if you got that from what I was saying or not…

The question is, if I carry on driving to London, will I have any hair left?

Keep Driving People!

Follow me on Twitter @lewisglynn69

Peace and Love!

 

BTCC 2014: The Magnificent Seven

The rising of the sun was met with an air of tension. The sandy plains shifted their undulating mass across the vast empty landscape. The tumbleweed rolled effortlessly across the scene with a stereotypical ease. A wooden sign stands alone, existing in a state of decaying eternity. The letters upon the sign have long since lost their clarity, yet the message has been etched into the fabric of time. Alas, only the worthy may receive the ultimate gift of vision.

In the distance, the landscape was interrupted by the return of a long forgotten force; the force to shake the very foundations of the earth. Moving ever closer upon their trusty steeds, our heroes have answered the cries of the many. For between them, they have witnessed the passing of many moons, fought many battles and vanquished many foes. But for our battle-scarred cowboys, one final challenge remains. They must face their biggest test yet, apart from the startling number of clichés; they must face each other.

As they ride ever closer upon their mighty stallions, their identity springs forth into reality. Of these 7 great riders, not one was the same. They were linked only by their greatness. Each deserved his own introduction. For they are the Magnificent Seven; the titans that walk upon the soil of the earth.

We begin with the newly initiated member of the party. Sheriff Jordan proved his worth in the great events that have become known as the ‘Pirtek Times’. He stood independently against the dominant forces of his land, overcoming his foes one by one in ultimate glory. For his bravery and determination he was awarded the Sheriffs badge and will stand for the name and strength of all independents across the land.

As the dust of anticipation begins to settle, the figure of our second of our seven becomes visible. Feared among many, Commissioner Plato has become infamous across the land; he is never afraid to use brutal force to put those who oppose him back into line. The Commissioner is a battle hardened veteran of our story, but age merely focuses his powers.

The Commissioner is followed closely by a man whose rank is unknown, he is known only as ‘Flash’. His ascent to command has been swift. Little is known about the homeland of our hero, only that he hails from the vicious wilds of the northern territories. He holds position with the high ranking ‘Yuasa Party’ that has given the Honda region supremacy.

Never a forgotten man, Commander Turkington is a relative newcomer to the field of battle, but has very quickly earned himself a reputable status. On many occasions he has taken struggling bands of fighters and led through to glory. He refuses to lose his new found power.

These riders may ride as one, but the past is a cruel mistress; dark clouds form over the tranquillity of these freedom fighters. Superintendent Neal rides astride his stallion, towering above those who bask in his stature. A folk tale has been narrated for many generations across the land of the free; this is the tale of a titanic clash of power between the Superintendent and the Commissioner. Word has reached the ears of the many that these two lords of their land ride for glory once more. Will this end in the ultimate stand off?

He rides as a foreigner in these lands, but has been feared by those who dare challenge his dominance. Next we see Generale Giovanardi, commander of the forces from a distant land. He lust for power has seen the demise of many brave warriors. Only the foolish would dare challenge him.

And finally, a man rides with his Stetson pulled low, riding in the shadows. To the other riders in our company, this man was once only spoken about in hushed tones. Many thought him to be a forgotten icon of an ancient time; a time where giants rode across the desert sands, waging violent war on all that lay before them. He has returned to take back what he is. He has no rank, he has no captain, he just has his trusty steed. He is known, only as Menu.

Our weary band of travellers has ridden many miles across the burning sands, searching for but one thing. Ultimate power. After months of flight, they have found what they were searching for. Sitting alone in the desert sand, sits a sign; the sign is a seemingly forgotten remnant of an ancient power centre. As they approach, something begins to change. For our weary worthy travellers, the sign burns bright and points the way to journeys end…

‘Brands Hatch’

Everything has come down to this. The call has been answered. The greatest leaders of our time have come together. 7 riders. 1 prize. This will be the ultimate showdown.

This is the Magnificent Seven. Guns at the ready.

Let the games begin.

Image Credit: Stopwatch Hospitality
Image Credit: Stopwatch Hospitality

Thanks for this post goes to Stopwatch Hospitality who have always shown support to my articles I write for Private Fleet. This post was inspired by the picture you see above, created by Stopwatch Hospitality to celebrate just how exciting the 2014 BTCC championship will be. I am indeed aware that I recently published an article detailing a possible 8th driver, but until he is confirmed the number is fixed on seven. 

The British Touring Car Championship 2014 kicks off at Brands Hatch on 29th/30th March!

Stopwatch Hospitality are an amazing company that provide top-class hospitality at motorsport events. They are the first choice in hospitality for any motorsport fan!

Follow me on Twitter @lewisglynn69!

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love!

 

Deadly Venom: Is Top Speed Really That Important?

The Hennessey Venom GT

The Hennessey Venom GT

For anyone who is a true petrol head, questioning the importance of top speed in the modern world will most likely come across as hideously blasphemous. Many may even liken it to asking a lover of decent curry if spice is really that important. You might even end up with a face full of curry, and no one wants that, do they? However, with the latest hypercar news hitting the news stand that the Bugatti Veyron may have finally been overthrown by the mighty Hennessey Venom GT I have decided to ask the big one.

The 1244bhp American god machine has set a physics bending top speed of 270.49mph on the runway of the Kennedy Space Centre. The previous record had been set by the Bugati Veyron Super Sport which clocked 269.86mph on the Ehra-Lessien test track back in 2010. While watching Top Gear back in the day when the Veyron was first released, they argued that in terms of the automotive world, we had found our ‘Concorde moment’, and with all the developments in green motoring, that we would never see anything as exciting in our lifetimes. Looks like they were wrong.

Let us compare the statistics here shall we:

Bugatti Veyron:

  • 8 litre, 16 cylinder engine
  • 1,183 BHP
  • 0-62mph: 2.5 seconds
  • 0-186mph: 15 seconds
  • Top Speed: 269.86 mph
Bugatti Veyron SS

Bugatti Veyron SS. Image Credit: Top Gear

Hennessey Venom GT:

  • 7 litre twin-turbo GM-Sourced V8 engine
  • 1,244 BHP
  • 20mph – 120mph: 7.71 seconds
  • 120mph – 220mph: 10 seconds
  • 260mph – 270mph: 10 seconds
  • Top Speed: 270.49mph

Looking at the pictures of the Venom GT, is it just me or does the car look like it has taken inspiration from the Lotus Elise? I guess it is in much the same way as Jaguar have started sculpting their cars in a similar way to that of Aston Martin. You could indeed criticize this decision and call the styling lazy. You could. But, when you are basing your design on a downright beautiful treat for the eyes, can we really complain that much? Really?

Its figures like those that really do blow your mind beyond all levels of rationality and logic. Let me put it this way, by the time you have read aloud the 0-60mph times of these cars, the cars would both already be doing way over 60mph. It is almost literally something that happens in the blink of an eye. The world record for the 100m sprint for a human is around 9 seconds, and imagine how quickly that goes when you watch it. Well imagine this, at full pelt, the Venom GT is covering 120 metres… every second. So in the time it would take Usain Bolt to run 100m, the car would have blasted past 1km. Honestly, that says a lot about both the car and Usain Bolt.

There is however one problem, the Venom will not be entering the record books. Sadly, according to the Guinness World Record powers that be, for a car to qualify for the fastest road car, it must have at least 30 units produced and set an average over two runs of a specified course. Sadly, only 11 units of the Venom have been produced and it only went one way up the space station runway. Why only one way I hear you ask? For the answer to that you will have to ask the space men themselves. It took them 2 years to secure access to the facility, and when it came to it, they were only given permission to go one way. And no, I do not know why either.

In the UK especially, the road laws are becoming ever stricter and that little bit more annoying with the passing of each day. Some motorway speed limits are apparently being reduced to 60mph in some city areas for one example. Add this to all the restrictions on emissions and what not, and we are finding a situation where the only cars that seem to do well are hybrids and electrics.

This does beg the question, are top speeds and high performance all that important here in the 21st century?

On one side of the story, realistically speaking the only place that you can test the high end performance of any car is on the track. Firstly, there are not that many people that can afford performance cars as it is, let alone have the money to get the car to a track and pay for the cornucopia of track day aspects, whether its tyres or general repairs. Furthermore, the speed limit on most roads in the UK anyway is 70mph, which can be achieved in your average road going vehicle. Given that we are trying to become greener and cause less pollution (etc etc etc) it does make sense that the cars of choice should be hyper-efficient hybrids and electric cars, that give the owners the deluded belief that they are somehow fixing mother earth. But that is another story.

But then we get to the reality behind the question I have raised. In theory yes top speed is completely irrelevant in the modern motoring world. Yes, you could drive down a motorway or a country road in any car at 70mph, BUT you cannot deny that you would enjoy it much more if you were doing it in a Venom. Deny it all you want, but nothing compares to the thrill of driving in a car that was designed to get from A to B in the fastest and most enjoyable way possible. You may not be able to hit the top speed, but there is that same adrenaline, that same buzz and the same hairs on your neck. Would you rather hear the silent whir of your Prius or the pure animalistic raw of your V12 engine?

It is about pushing the boundaries of what is possible. The competition to use the same basic resources to come out with the best end result. If we do not push boundaries, we do not progress. If we stayed inside the box all our lives the excitement that we all take for granted would be absent in our lives. As much as some of you green readers may not want to admit it, we need these cars.

So yes, I do believe that top speed is important. It may not be about the realistic chances of you reaching that speed, but its knowing that you could that is the important thing. There is not any real chance that I will ever fly to the moon, but knowing that I could is really exciting and makes me appreciate just how mind blowingly awesome modern technology has become. And in much the same way as me reaching the moon, most of us will probably never own, drive or even see one of these cars in the flesh, but knowing that they exist and what they are capable of, that is what’s important. We still get excited, we still get that same passion, we will always love these cars.

Petrol-heads will never die.

Keep Driving People!

Follow me on Twitter @lewisglynn69

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Cockneys, Cricket and Congestion: Britain has busiest roads in Europe

When I say ‘Britain’ to those of you who do not live here, you probably have numerous images that spring to mind. The Queen, Buckingham Palace, Fish and Chips, Posh people, Cricket, Rugby, The Beatles, David Beckham, Doctor Who, Russell Brand, Cockneys… If I collaborated all of the outside opinions of my home land I am sure the list would go on for light years. However, when it comes to the United Kingdom, I bet you the word you hear more than most is ‘London’, and the next logical step would be the ‘London Cab’ or the ‘Routemaster Buses’. Essentially, the heartland of the tourist impression of Britain is the transport system in the capital. It is at this crossroad that the dream and reality collide in an explosion of opinion and ridiculousness. If you ask any Brit, or most specifically a Londoner what they associate most with their country, chances are their answer will actually be very similar to ‘London’, ‘taxi’ and ‘bus’ in that they are all a contributory factor to the horror that befalls us all.

Congestion. Traffic. A stationary hell on wheels.

And following research undertaken by World Bank, the ever-British moaning has been confirmed; Britain has the most congested roads in Europe. And within the UK itself, London is the very eye of the traffic storm.

London TrafficSo, what are the statistics here?

  • There are 77 vehicles per square kilometer of road
  • This number is 76% higher than the general European average

The fun does not end there, the research has even identified the congestion down to the street level:

  • The top 10 busiest roads are ALL in London
  • Two of the high scorers are Bedford Road in Clapham (South London) and Greenhill Way in Harrow (North West London)
  • But there can only be one winner, and that is Jamaica Road in Southwark

I know what you are probably wondering, and to answer your question, Jamaica Road is so congested that during peak times, traffic has been recorded to be moving at 0.08mph. To put that into perspective, take your average walking pace and try walking around 30 times slower. How is that even possible? Exactly dear readers, the traffic on the road is THAT bad.

If we take the premise that Britain is the most congested country, it does bring with it some potential positives. If we do have a lot of traffic, it means that the cars on the roads are not travelling as fast. And if Britain follows in the tracks of development, there will be more and more cars on the road, which will only slow us down even more.

The increase in traffic therefore may decrease the number of road traffic accidents and subsequently human injury or death. Of course such a statement is implying a direct causal correlation between the two. Just because the traffic is moving slower does not necessarily mean there will be less incidents and injury. Perhaps I am being typically British and hurling cynicism into the mix here. But the statistics do appear to agree with me on this in that British roads have been named as the safest in the world; in the 1970s there were around 7,700 road deaths and yet last year there were only around 1,800.

So maybe, next time you find yourself in Britain, just remember that it is not all Beatles, Beckham and Buckingham Palace. Next time you find yourself with London on the brain, I can promise you that I will most likely be stuck in some endless traffic jam, praying for some sanity and some road freedom.

I hope you have a nicer time of it in Australia, I would love to hear about your driving experiences. Britain has been named the most congested in Europe, but how does it compare to the rest of the world?

Let me know on Twitter @lewisglynn69!

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love!

Automotive Dinosaurs: Welcome to Jurassic Autopark

There is no doubt that cars are awesome. Big ones, small ones, fast ones and slow ones, make your choice and still you will find a world of automotive awesome. In much a similar vein, ever since the release of Jurassic Park I have been convinced that dinosaurs exist in a whole universe of greatness. You have heard me tittle on about cars all the time, whether I am ranting away about drivers on the road, singing the praises of motorsport or reporting the dangers of hybrid cars on the market. If Private Fleet had a sister site named Jurassic Fleet, I can promise you I would be a regular contributor on there as well. Until that day however, you are all saved from my dino-love.

But what if I told you that on the wonderbox that is the Internet, there exists a whole new species. There are those who love cars, and those who love dinosaurs, but then there are those people who dreamed of a combination of the two. That sounds ridiculous, I hear you cry. And you would not be wrong in saying that, but hear me out, they exist. Witness now a whole new world…

“Dr Grant, my dear Dr Sattler… Welcome, to Jurassic Autopark”

The T-Rex looks angry, maybe she is against the size of the carbon footprint those 4x4s are leaving...

The T-Rex looks angry, maybe she is against the size of the carbon footprint those 4x4s are leaving…

I have excavated through the fossils of the Internet and come across a selection of dino-car gems that I just could not resist sharing with you. I mean, I love dinosaurs. How can anyone not love dinosaurs? Having come across cars that have been dino-designed, I can very much say my life has just become a whole lot happier. If you are having a sad day then fear not, I have come to you with a carnivorous gathering of reptilian wonders. Or if you wish to follow current arguments that dinosaurs were closer to modern day birds than reptiles, then no need to (birds of) prey no more, I have got some avian-auto-ancestors here for you right now.

invaliddinosaur

Hang on a minute, when I said the combination of cars and dinosaurs, this was not what I meant. People often ask me why the dinosaurs died out and why they did not become the dominant species on the planet. Well, is this not the answer you were looking for? Their motor industry never really took off.

Let’s try this again shall we…

dinocar1

To the person who saw this snow covered car and thought, “I want to turn this into a kick-ass dino-car”, you have to be one of my favourite people, and I wish to meet you so I can give you a hug. Most people see a car covered in snow and either write in it or use the snow for snow-ammo. But then there is that one person who wants to bring back the glamour of the stegosaurus to the modern world. This is greatness in its purest form.

dinocar2This began life as a VW Beetle. I can say with almost full certainty that this is no longer a beetle in any way, shape or form. This is not something you will see crawling around in the undergrowth. This is now a brutal beast of burden. You would think of squashing this under your foot. With those chunky off road tyres, and those spines, you would not want to come across this while alone in the forest. Just hope it is in a good mood. But seriously, this is one amazing piece of machinery. I think I know what my choice of car will be on my busy London commutes from now on.

Artist Credit: Ryan McGuire

Artist Credit: Ryan McGuire

If Barney the Dinosaur ever had a car-cousin, it would have to be this little beauty. This may be one of the cutest things ever to pass by my eyes. When I see this I also get the impression that if Dino the Dinosaur from the Flintstones was brought back to life today, this would probably be how he would look. Playful, happy and fun. What more could you want from your very own dino-car?

dinocar4This is truly a great example of a DIY-nosaur. If you loved my cheeky word play then chances are you will love the guy who came up with this dino-tricycle. I love the thought of someone sitting in a park, and behind the bushes you suddenly see the skeleton of a stegosaurus bobbing on past. Night At The Museum come to life. I told you dinosaurs were awesome right?

dinocar5As with the traditional construct of any entertainment based presentation, I have saved the best for last. This was the very image that started my quest for dino-car greatness. We have seen dino-cars of all forms, most of which are still fully functioning automobiles. The reason I love this so much is that I have a feeling its creator is my kind of person. They did not just add the generic spines to the top of an old Beetle, they have most literally formed the perfect combination of car and dinosaur. This sculpture has been created from materials that are associated with road travel, including car parts, traffic cones and all that general nonsense.

Maybe this car is in fact a metaphor. Let’s deconstruct this and see what I can pull out of myself. The car is painted green, symbolising the need for greener modes of travel, considering that we are slowly destroying the planet. The source car is an old VW Beetle. The Beetle is a car that uses the fuel powered combustion engine. The Beetle was also made popular by none other than Hitler as ‘the peoples’ car’. Hitler was a Nazi. The Nazi attempt at world domination was crushed by the Allied forces. The Hitler-led Nazi movement therefore suffered an ‘extinction event’. The dinosaurs too suffered an extinction. However, as Jurassic Park proved, dinosaurs can be brought back to life and spread chaos and havoc across the land.

What more, the engine of the Beetle was in the back of the car, and we all know that when people think through their behinds bad things often happen. True fact right there.

Therefore, this sculpture stands as a warning; the traditional combustion engine is an automotive dinosaur in a world of hybrids and electric power. We must move forward into modern technology. Also, Nazis are bad and we should not let them rise up again. I bet you never thought I could mention Hitler in an article about dino-cars. But I did. It is all about the metaphors.

I told you I was going to pull something ridiculous out of my brain.

Sometimes, what can I say, I do not want to talk about a serious driving topic. We all need some light hearted happiness every now and again.

If you enjoyed that, feel free to follow me on Twitter @lewisglynn69

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love!

 

Asleep at the Wheel: Has F1 become boring?

After yet another commanding season, Sebastian Vettel was crowned world champion. Again. ‘Red Bull’ have proven that they have the best car on the grid. Again. Formula One is meant to be the crown jewels sitting proudly upon the crown that is motor sport. Formula One is meant to be THE example of just how great racing can be. Formula One is meant to be the guiding light that may shine forward into a new future of automotive sport.

…so why have I spent such a long time now being bored out of my skin? 

The weird part of this whole situation is that I really want to love Formula One. The sport contains so many things that I love about life – fast cars, speed, glamour, theatre, the works. In many ways I can compare F1 to the James Bond film ‘Quantum of Solace’; that film has every aspect that should make any Bond film amazing, yet the whole thing appeared to be a bit of a laborious disaster. And I feel much the same about the apparent ‘greatest motor sport in the world’.

To examine the array of issues that are buzzing around my head, let me propose some questions:

Question One: Is it not exciting watching the rise of a new legend of the sport in Sebastian Vettel?

Formula One has been lucky enough to watch the rise of some of the greatest racing drivers known to man kind: Senna, Prost, Hunt, Fangio, Stewart… the list goes on. Throughout the 90s and early 00s we also saw Michael Schumacher. He won 7 world championships and became one of most loved drivers of the modern sport. Following this German take over, did any of us really think we would see another one? And then Vettel came along and proved us all wrong.

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel

However this time, it seems a lot of people are not so impressed. The problem is that everything he has achieved has essentially been handed to him on a plate. He inherited a place on the best F1 team on the grid and has gone and started winning EVERYTHING. The difference between him and all the other legends of the sport is that he doesn’t appear to have worked for what he has gained. For some time I said exactly the same thing about Hamilton, but now he has moved to Mercedes and is proving his worth by being amazingly competitive in a car that everyone else thought would be mid-pack at best this year. Not only that, but since his initial success there has been a great deal of bias in the Red Bull team. In many ways I am not surprised that Mark Webber decided to retire having spent the last few years getting second rate equipment and playing Robin to Vettel’s Batman.

When Vettel keeps winning, it is now no longer surprising, it is just tiringly predictable. I seem to be spending most of my time hoping for a mechanical failure, a crash or a mistake. I really hate thinking that stuff but the problem is, it is the only way I can make it exciting in my head anymore.

Question Two: Technologically advanced cars racing at 200mph, what is not to love about that? 

Formula One is meant to be the pinnacle of modern motor sport. The racing should be hard, fast, close and spectacular. And yet, it is not. When you sit and watch your average race these days, the commentary team seem to have some form of auto-gasm when there is an overtake. It is one overtake, guys. In one race there will be a small handful of overtakes, and this is treated like proof of sporting perfection. The fact that cars have to be fitted with an ‘overtake’ button and additional aids to make overtaking even possible says a lot if you ask me. I have said it a multitude of times before, but look at any Touring Car series; the British Touring Cars or the V8 Supercars. That is what hard racing should be.

F1 2013 at Monaco

F1 2013 at Monaco

Furthermore, F1 cars seem so fragile that ANY SLIGHT contact seems to result in race ruining damage that renders a car near-useless. Yes, I am aware that motor sport should never focus on collisions, but it is natural that there will be some coming together across the span of a race. Why not sacrifice some of the speed and make for a more exciting sport? Is it really that much to ask?

Finally, racing should be about well, RACING. What it should never be about is tyre and pit strategy. They are two elements that can make a race exciting. But when the focus is placed more upon them than on the racing itself, then something has gone horribly wrong. Listening to the eternal discussion about wings, tyres and pit strategy during a race makes me want to find the nearest bridge and hurl myself off of it. Murray Walker would never have wasted his breath talking about that.

Maybe it is just me, but processional racing is not what I love.

Question Three: There are new tracks being designed and built all the time, is that not exciting?

There are some things that I cannot even try to defend. And the lifeless, soulless and emotionless race tracks designed by Hermann ‘no imagination’ Tilke are definitely one of these things. The tracks are usually a mix of LONG STRAIGHT followed by TECHNICAL SECTION OVERLOAD, LONG STRAIGHT, MORE TECHNICAL… you get the idea. These tracks seem endless and lack the passion and soul of the classics such as Spa or Silverstone. Speaking of which, what on this holy earth have they done to Silverstone? The home of British motor sport has become an arena of boredom. What is happening?

Circuit of the Americas

Circuit of the Americas

While I am on this point, Mr Tilke really needs to get some imagination. If you want to design tracks that are so health and safety perfect meaning that run off areas are so large that cars do not lose out from them then that is one thing. But do you then have to rip off all the other great tracks in the process. The new USA GP circuit in Texas seems to have borrowed corners from already existing tracks. America is already full of amazing race tracks, do we really need another one?

In conclusion…

The answer is simple. Change. Call it revolution if you must but please, something needs to happen. The sport has become a painfully predictable game of chess played out on lifeless race tracks across the globe, doing nothing but serving the egos of the leaders of the F1 teams (well, mainly Christian Horner but still).

Where is the passion? Where is the raw animalism? Where is the soul?

In the new F1 video games, why else do you think that they are placing more emphasis on driving the classic cars?  Could it maybe be because the modern sport is nothing compared to the titans of the past.

New is not always better. Sometimes we need to look to the past to find the answers for the future.

Keep Driving People!

Follow me on Twitter: @lewisglynn69

Peace and Love!

Easter Egg Hunt Winners

Thanks to everyone who took part in our Easter Egg hunt. we had a massive entry, far more than we expected, but sadly there can be only five winners, which have been drawn at random from the successful contenders.

The lucky winners are:-

1. Wayne Begley ( NSW )

2. Graham Westgrath  (NSW )

3. Nancy McAlary ( QLD )

4. Dave Moulding ( VIC )

5. Ross Rosso ( QLD )

A brand new TomTom ‘Live” sat/nav will be winging its way to each of the winners.

Thanks again for your terrific support, but if your name is not among the lucky winners, there’s a chance to get your revenge here