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Supercars – Just For the Hell of it!

Bugatti Chiron Super Sport

Fast cars mean different things to different people.  What is the draw card for driving a quick car?  For me, a super-fast car does hold an aura that you just can’t associate with your typical Toyota Corolla or Ford Mondeo.  I have nothing against these two amazingly practical, comfortable and reliable cars.  They are great cars for everyday life in much the same way that the trusty hackney pony/horse was the common horsepower used by most family carts in the 19th century.  The thoroughbred horse, however, was the show pony; this was the one that had the aura, the glamour and the speed.

So, similarly, there’s something about supercars.  It’s not just how good they look; it’s about the engineering and development that has gone into making them so quick.  A supercar challenges the laws of physics every day.  And there aren’t too many of us “kids at heart” who don’t enjoy the speed and the thrill covering the ground quickly.  I did have the most amazing experience as I was driving into Wellington city, NZ, of all places.  This was some years ago now, and I was cruising in to Wellington to catch the ferry to Picton.  I happened to be travelling behind a few cars that were drifting five-or-so km/h under the speed limit.  From out of nowhere, a Porsche 928 S whipped out and around me in an acceleration of speed that left me in awe.  It slipped in and out of the cars ahead of me like they were standing still, and the visual excitement has stuck with me to this day.  I have also never seen anything like it since.  He wasn’t dangerous, either.  Each overtaking manoeuvre was carefully calculated and quite safe.  The time it took to whip past each car was over as quickly as it started.

So, just for a bit of fun: What are the fastest production cars in the world today?  They’ll definitely be quicker than the awesome 928 S, for sure!

The number 1 undisputed champion is the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport which has been clocked at 304.7 mph (487 km/h)!  Like the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, this purpose-built speed machine was taken to its top speed by British sportscar veteran Andy Wallace at the VW Group’s Ehra-Lessien test track.  Using a quad-turbocharged W16 engine that produces 1578 bhp (1177 kW), this was a supercar on a mission.  It was given a new gearbox with longer ratios, and front and rear bumpers that were optimised for higher speed runs – the perfect match for claiming the world’s top spot.

Who will be next to break the record set by the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport?  Now that Bugatti have promised to bow out of setting production car speed records, there are a few potential successors to its crown.

Hennessey Venom F5

The Hennessey Venom F5 carries on where the Venom GT has left off.  So with its 6.6-litre twin-turbocharged V8 producing 1817bhp (1355 kW) and 1193 lb ft (1617 Nm) of torque, we should see this Hennessey Venom move easily past the 300 mph (480 km/h) barrier.

SSC Tuatara

Until now I had never heard of the car, but the SSC Tuatara packs some serious speed along with its sharp looks.  The car is claimed to have already sped past 300 mph, unofficially.  SSC will only build 100 Tuatara supercars, and don’t ask how much to buy one!  They are eye-wateringly expensive.  The car was originally planned to run with a 6.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8, however the production car is set to use a 5.9-litre block with a higher redline.  On E85 fuel, it should produce 1750 bhp (1305 kW) and be capable of more than 300 mph in a straight line.

Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut

Now here is a name I have heard before… ‘Koenigsegg’.  The Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut is the latest of the Koenigsegg supercar line and it has to be one of the hottest looking machines on wheels.  Koenigsegg claim the car is more than capable of over 330 mph (528 km/h).  Seriously, we couldn’t think Koenigsegg was going to let Bugatti keep the speed record for long, could we?  The Swedish manufacturer has been around for some time now and has set previous uppermost speed records.  Gunning for top spot, the 1600 bhp+ (1193 kW+) supercar will be the fastest car Koenigsegg has ever produced. Simulations suggest the combination of the twin-turbocharged, 5.0-litre V8 engine, its low 0.278 drag coefficient, and its unique multi-clutch 9-speed transmission will allow the Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut to reach a top speed of 330 mph+.

Now, I’ve always had a soft spot for anything Swedish!  I used to own a Volvo, but that was given to my son who needed a car when he left home.  And we did own a Saab (my favourite of all cars owned by us).  Its Turbo 2.3-litre could really get-up-and-go, but nothing like a Koenigsegg, mind you!

An Automated Way of Life

Instead of a person performing tasks like accelerating, braking, turning or changing lanes, an autonomous vehicle uses its sophisticated vehicle computer system to calculate, monitor and perform these everyday driving tasks itself.  Australian governments are working together to make sure that automated/autonomous vehicles can be legally and safely used when they are available for purchase in Australia.  Already today, some new cars have automated features such as self-parking, active cruise control or lane-keep assist.  These features assist the driver with driving, but a licensed human driver is still in control of the car.  Over the next few decades vehicles will likely become increasingly automated, and eventually a human will not need to drive a car at all.  Think of the road network of the future being a giant computer programme that is performing the road transport requirements for the people.

Whether we like it or not, the onset of automated vehicles is upon us.  In fact, in America, automatic road trains/trucks to get goods from one depot to the next is already reality.  Several companies, including Aurora, Daimler, and Embark Trucks, are competing for a slice of the future of self-driving freight trucks.  Waymo is also expanding its own self-driving trucking routes throughout the American Southwest and Texas, following previous tests in Arizona, California, Michigan, and Georgia. This long-haul automated trucking works well in America, and it could be key for Australian trucking companies in the near future.  While most of the current use has been on iron ore and coal mines, the roll-out of autonomous fleets in Australia is spreading.  Newmont, Australia recently announced plans to make the Boddington mine the world’s first open-pit gold mine with an autonomous haul truck fleet.

So maybe the order of automation roll-out might be trucks first along with public transport, and then private vehicles to follow?  The implementation of autonomous vehicles isn’t a cheap dream.  Understandably, the level of research and development, as costly as it is, is so important to ensure all road users remain safe in-and around an autonomous vehicle.  The sort of research and development needed for safety reasons costs loads of money, and this (as always), along with the requirement of actually keeping people safe while implementing the use of autonomous vehicles, are the real brakes on the realization of the dream for complete global autonomous vehicles.  But is that just the tip of the iceberg?

Autonomous vehicles obtain emerging technologies that can potentially disrupt cities, economies, infrastructure and the way we do life together.  Add those truths into the mix and we can see what a phenomenally expensive, chaotic and disruptive new technology this is, but the actuality of total autonomous transport could be astounding!  Not something that’s everyone’s cup of tea but definitely worthy of at least partial implementation.  Maybe that’s the way it is going to be introduced, subtly and gradually over time so people can get used to paying for it as well as using it.

How To Identify A Boy Racer Car

We might loudly proclaim that we hate them and that they’re annoying, but deep down inside any serious motorist, very well hidden indeed, is a wee bit of a boy racer. Just a little bit of one.  Otherwise, why would we be so drawn to high-performance vehicles with motors that roar and purr?

All the same, few of us over the age of 35 would really admit to being a boy racer, especially if we happen to be girls. We keep that part of us well hidden and only let it out in small doses occasionally.  We drive sensible family vehicles.  If we do get to the point where the budget allows us to plonk down our hard-earned cash on a high-performance vehicle, we prefer something that combines true performance with understated style. Others of us, of course, simply own the whole boy racer image and want a proper boy racer car that looks the part. Or, more precisely, the sort of vehicle that a boy racer car aims to imitate.

The true boy racer car isn’t quite the same as a high-performance machine. To really qualify as a boy racer car, one has to take a fairly sporty number that doesn’t cost the earth (Nissan Skylines and Subaru Imprezas used to be fairly popular but there are others) and then modify it like crazy. Not just any modifications, either. If you tinker with and tune the engine to boost its performance, what you can end up with is a “sleeper” – a vehicle that might look ordinary but isn’t. Boy racer modifications are all about attention-grabbing looks… and sounds. It’s about making heads turn, especially the heads of younger drivers. It’s the motoring equivalent of pouring on half a bottle of aftershave in an attempt to impress the ladies (note: we’re not going to be that impressed).

These vehicles are referred to in the US as “ricer cars”, which is a gender-neutral term. However, I have a suspicion that this may be a slight racial slur, as I have no idea what these cars have to do with rice, apart from the fact that the cars that usually get these modifications tend to be of Japanese origin, though not always. I’ve seen pictures of some BMWs, Fords and Holdens pimped up like crazy. So “boy racer car” is what I’m going to have to call them – I mention the term only so you can have fun Googling bad examples.

To be a true boy racer car, at least three of the following modifications ought to be present:

  • Dramatically lowered suspension. This seems to be the only actual mechanical fine-tuning done to a boy racer car, as the aim is to improve the handling and make the ride a bit stiffer just like a real sports car. The rule seems to be that the lower it is, the cooler it is. Just don’t take it so low that you can’t clear the kerb or speed bump.
  • After-market spoilers. If done well, a good after-market spoiler will give extra grip and improve the on-road performance. It’s a matter of aerodynamics. However, the stereotypical boy racer hasn’t quite got it into his (it’s usually his, rather than her) head that it’s not how big it is but how it’s applied that counts. What you’ll end up seeing on a boy racer car is a massive spoiler. Sigmund Freud wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised…
  • Other body kit. If you can’t actually lower the suspension, make the car look lower by adding side and front skirts.
  • Fancy paint jobs. Go-faster racing stripes and decals are just the start. The idea is to look something like a professional racing car but without actually having any sponsors. There seem to be two main schools of thought in the paint jobs of boy racer cars. One goes for the racing car look, with longitudinal stripes and chequered flags. The other type goes for bright custom colours, often neon green, purple, hot pink and similar gaudy shades.
  • Aftermarket alloys. OK, this one isn’t unique to boy racer cars and it is possible to put on alloys that look tasteful and add a bit of personality. However, if the alloy wheel is enormous and/or brightly coloured, it’s definitely getting into boy racer territory.
  • Tinted windows. Not just subtle tinted windows or tinting that comes from the factory so that you aren’t dazzled with glare on a bright sunny day. We’re talking about stick-on tinting from your local automotive supplies shop so dark that you can barely see who’s in the car.
  • Bonnet blowers. While these have a serious purpose if the vehicle in question has been given an engine upgrade and needs to be cooled more efficiently, in a true boy racer car, it’s for looks. Again, the mentality seems to be that the bigger the better. Never mind that something that big is going to interfere with the aerodynamics.
  • Loud exhausts. Nothing says “performance” like an exhaust that roars and screams like an animal. This feature is found on classier vehicles as well. Jaguar designers, for example, are known to carefully tune the note of the exhaust so that it evokes the perfect visceral response. Boy racer cars, however, don’t have quite the same type of finesse and just go for decibels.
  • Even louder stereos. If they can’t go fast enough around town to bring the noise of the exhaust into play, then the stereo is the way to catch people’s attention from at least a block away or two. The stereos have enough bass to make the ground shake and the vehicle vibrate visibly to the point where onlookers wonder if it will make the ridiculously big spoiler held on with superglue fall off.

If you think I’ve missed any of the key characteristics, then add your suggestions in the comments below!

Big Boots Matter

Luggage Space

If size matters to you when it comes to what you can (or can’t) fit in your boot, then how much space is commonly available in popular new car buys?  The chances are you’ll want to know, so first are some of the most popular vehicles bought in Australia and their boot volume (litres).  All the vehicles listed have their rear seats in place, because we all know the greatest vehicles carry a decent amount of luggage without having to flip their rear seats flat.  There’s nothing worse than telling little Johnny that he can’t travel with his mates because the split folding rear seats have been split folded to take the school camp food!

At the end is a list of the best picks for carrying 550 litres or more behind the rear seats.  You might be surprised, or not…

Supermini

Average boot space: 340.88 litres

1/ Renault Clio – 395 litres

2/ Honda Jazz – 354 litres

3/ Volkswagen Polo – 351 litres

Audi A1 – 335 litres

Skoda Fabia – 330 litres

Hyundai i20 – 326 litres

Kia Rio – 325 litres

Peugeot 208 – 311 litres

 

Hatchbacks

Average boot space: 479.40 litres

1/ Skoda Octavia 590 litres

2/ Peugeot 308 501 litres

3/ Honda Civic 492 litres

Renault Megane 434

VW Golf 380 litres

 

Small 4-door sedan

Average boot space: 464.75 litres

1/ Honda City | 536 litres

2/ Honda Civic | 519 litres

3/ Renault Megane | 503 litres

Kia Cerato | 502 litres

Toyota Corolla | 470 litres

Hyundai Accent Sport | 465 litres

Hyundai Elantra | 458 litres

Holden Astra | 445 litres

Mazda 3 444 litres

Audi A3 | 425 litres

Mazda 2 410 litres

Mitsubishi Lancer | 400 litres

 

Medium 4-Door Sedan

Average boot space: 501.82 litres

1/ Volkswagen Passat | 586 litres

2/ Skoda Octavia | 568 litres

3/ Toyota Camry | 524 litres

Kia Optima | 510 litres

Hyundai Sonata | 510 litres

Subaru Liberty | 493 litres

BMW 3 Series | 480 litres

Mazda 6 | 474 litres

Subaru Impreza | 460 litres

Ford Mondeo | 458 litres

Honda Accord | 457 litres

 

Large 4-Door Sedan

Average boot space: 509.2 litres

1/ Skoda Superb | 625 litres

2/ Volkswagen Arteon | 563 litres

3/ Holden Commodore | 490 litres

Chrysler 300 | 462 litres

Kia Stinger | 406 litres

 

Station wagons

Average boot space: 560.9 litres

1/ Holden Sportwagon 895 litres

2/ Skoda Superb 660 litres

3/ Peugeot 308 SW 660 litres

Ford Focus SW 608 litres

VW Golf SW 605 litres

Hyundai i30 SW 602 litres

Audi A6 SW 586 litres

Volvo V70 575 litres

BMW 5-Series SW 570 litres

Jaguar XF SW 565 litres

Kia Optima SW 552 litres

Ford Mondeo 541 litres

Mercedes Benz E-Class 540 litres

Subaru Levorg 522 litres

Mazda 6 SW 522 litres

Renault Megane SW 521 litres

Subaru Outback 512 litres

Peugeot 407 430 litres

Toyota Corolla SW 392 litres

Mini Clubman SW 360 litres

 

SUVs

LIGHT SUVs

Average boot space: 346.2 litres

1/ Citroen C3 Aircross – 410 litres

2/ Holden Trax – 356 litres

3/ Hyundai Venue 355 litres

Ford EcoSport – 346 litres

Mazda CX-3 264 litres

 

SMALL SUVs

Average boot space: 385.91 litres

1/ Jeep Compass 438 litres

2/ Honda HR-V 437 litres

3/ Kia Seltos 433 litres

Nissan Qashqai 430 litres

Renault Kadjar 408 litres

Mitsubishi ASX 393 litres

Toyota C-HR 377 litres

Hyundai Kona 361 litres

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 341 litres

Mazda CX-30 317 litres

Subaru XV 310 litres

 

MEDIUM SUVs

Average boot space: 496.67 litres

1/ Volkswagen Tiguan 615 litres

2/ Toyota RAV4 580 litres

3/ Nissan X-Trail 565 litres

Honda CR-V 522 litres

Subaru Forester 498 litres

Hyundai Tucson 488 litres

Mitsubishi Outlander 477 litres

MG HS 463 litres

Renault Koleos 458 litres

Kia Sportage 446 litres

Mazda CX-5 442 litres

Ford Escape 406 litres

 

LARGE SUVs

Average boot space: 669.50 litres

1/ Holden Acadia 1042 litres

2/ Holden Equinox 846 litres

3/ Mazda CX-9 810 litres

Toyota LandCruiser Prado 620 litres

Hyundai Santa Fe 547 litres

Toyota Kluger 529 litres

Subaru Outback 512 litres

Ford Everest 450 litres

 

Keep in mind that most vehicles we buy now do have split folding rear seats, so when we don’t have to carry passengers we can make use of the rear seat space in exchange for carrying cargo/luggage.  Many of us don’t want to have to use the rear seat space for luggage; often the back seats are occupied with passengers anyway, so the vehicles that provide over 500 litres behind the back seats are going to be the ones that offer excellent luggage space.

If we look at averages alone, the Large SUV is easily king for luggage carrying duties. Most are seven-seater SUVs, too; but make it just the 5 seats, and they can only be a win/win combination.  The next step up would be a van!

However, both the Station Wagon and Large sedan are other excellent options for you to go to for decent luggage carrying ability.  Even the Medium Sedan offers some cars that provide excellent big boots: the Volkswagen Passat (586 litres), Skoda Octavia (568 litres) and the Toyota Camry (524 litres) are the best examples.

One thing that did surprise me was that the boot space in a small SUV isn’t much to write home about; its average for the class being a dismal 385.91 litres.  This dropped to an abysmal 346.2 litres for light SUVs.  These vehicles, and smaller are best avoided if decent boot space is what you need.

Any vehicle that can offer at least 550 litres of luggage space in the boot without having to fold down any of the rear seats is a winner for cargo carriers.  If you are looking for a vehicle (that isn’t a van) that will deliver good boot space (550 litres or more) for things like: school bags, computer equipment, sport gear, holiday luggage etc., then you’ll probably need one of the following vehicles:

Hatchback:

Skoda Octavia Hatchback

Skoda Octavia Hatchback 590 litres

Medium 4-dr Sedan:

VW Passat Sedan

Volkswagen Passat  586 litres

Skoda Octavia 568 litres

Large 4-dr Sedan

Skoda Superb Sedan/Hatch

Skoda Superb  625 litres

Volkswagen Arteon 563 litres

Station Wagon

Holden Commodore Sportwagon

Holden Sportwagon 895 litres

Skoda Superb 660 litres

Peugeot 308 660 litres

Ford Focus 608 litres

VW Golf 605 litres

Hyundai i30 602 litres

Audi A6 586 litres

Volvo V70 575 litres

BMW 5-Series 570 litres

Jaguar XF 565 litres

Kia Optima 552 litres

Medium SUV

VW Tiguan SUV

Volkswagen Tiguan 615 litres

Toyota RAV4 580 litres

Nissan X-Trail 565 litres

Large SUV

Holden Acadia 7-seater

Holden Acadia 1042 litres

Holden Equinox 846 litres

Mazda CX-9 810 litres

Toyota LandCruiser Prado 620 litres

Hyundai Santa Fe 547 litres

 

Are You Too Old To Drive?

I think it was Oscar Wilde who said that youth is wasted on the young.  It might not be quite so widely talked about, but there are some benefits to not being as young as you used to be. All the same, there’s no denying that even if you have truckloads of experience as a driver and can remember the days when it wasn’t compulsory for passengers to wear seatbelts and when having automatic windows was posh, the time may come when the old body lets you down and won’t react the way it used to do.  There is a reason why medical tests are compulsory for those over 75 every year and two-yearly practical driving tests are needed for those aged over 85 if you want to stay on a normal driver’s licence. It’s kind of like getting a roadie test but for the driver rather than a vehicle.

However, although I know plenty of people in the age bracket who don’t seem to show many signs of their age apart from a few wrinkles and grey hair, there are others who start showing a few signs of slowing down before they hit the 75-year mark.  My mum, for example, decided to pull back on the driving for safety reasons because she felt that her reactions were getting too slow to drive in the city, although this was “just a case of getting older and nothing to worry about” even though she was well short of 75 years old (it turned out to be early onset Parkinson’s but that’s another story and I’m glad to report she’s doing well on medication).

To be able to drive safely, what do you need to be able to do? What does it take to have what it takes? I came across a set of questions that older drivers can ask themselves to help assess how fit they are to drive.  Do any of these ten questions ring true for you? If you answer yes to a lot of them, then maybe it’s time you had a chat with your doctor about driving and medical tests. Sometimes, a few exercises and a new pair of glasses may help – although sometimes, it won’t.

  1. Is getting your seatbelt on a pain and does it take you several attempts at the best of times?
  2. Do you have trouble turning the steering wheel (and you’ve got power steering in the car and you’re not driving an old classic without it)?
  3. Is it hard to do head-checks (looking over your shoulder to check the blind spot)?
  4. Does driving on even short trips tire you out more easily?
  5. Do you have a few problems picking out things like road markings, kerbs, median strips, other cars and pedestrians?
  6. Do you have problems remembering who gives way?
  7. Does your mind wander while you’re driving? Here, we’re not talking about briefly running over the options for dinner or your to-do list at the traffic lights, or idly pursuing a train of thought on a long empty country road (we all do this), but going completely away with the pixies in the middle of the city or to the point that you suddenly come to and haven’t got a clue where you are.
  8. Do you get honked at a lot by other drivers? OK, everyone gets drivers tooting at them from time to time, but if it happens a lot, especially at traffic lights or intersections, then it’s possibly the case that you’re a bit slower to react that you used to be (it’s not the case that Young People These Days are more impatient, especially when the Young Person who just honked at you is a tradie in his 40s).
  9. Is reversing or parallel parking difficult, even if it’s been easy for you in the past?
  10. Have you picked up some wretched condition like heart problems, stroke, early-stage dementia, etc.?

The good news is that if your hearing is going a bit (all those rock concerts back in the 1970s and a lifetime of working with power tools make for great memories but worse hearing), this shouldn’t stop you from driving, as most hazards have a strong visual component, and even things like police and fire sirens usually come with lights as well.

For older drivers, it’s possible to get a modified licence so you can keep driving but only under certain conditions. You might want to put yourself under your own personal restrictions if you found yourself answering Yes to a lot of the questions above. A modified licence is rather like the grown-up version of the provisional licence and restricts you to driving only in certain circumstances. With a modified licence, the conditions will vary depending on your situation. For example, your modified licence may allow you to drive only short distances (e.g. to town and back, rather than interstate to see the grandkids).  Modified licences allow you to stay active and independent but without putting yourself (and others) at risk.

Conditions you may wish to put on yourself rather than official restrictions and conditions under a modified licence could include not driving alone, only taking familiar routes, not driving at night or not driving in bad weather, and avoiding driving at times when you know you get sleepy (e.g. the middle of the afternoon on a hot day).

Having a new vehicle with modern driver aids such as blind spot alerts, reverse parking sensors and autonomous emergency braking may help you stay on the road for longer. However, if you upgrade your vehicle to something with such features, make sure you take some time when you’re not actually driving anywhere to get familiar with all the buttons, symbols, beeps and knobs. And remember that as is the case with most things in life, you need to use those driving skills so you don’t lose them!

Safe and Not-so-safe Cars

With good safety credentials being an important factor with any new car purchase, it was interesting to find out that a few new cars didn’t perform as well as I’d expected they may.  The tests were carried out over the 2018-and-2019 period by the team at the Euro NCAP facility.  The following are four of the worst 2018/2019/2020 cars you’d want to crash in.  Then come the best current cars you’d want to be in if you were involved in a serious crash.

NOT SO GOOD:

Jeep’s Renegade 4×4 SUV, in the frontal crash test, showed it as being a bit weak in offering good support during the frontal impact.  Your neck is an important part of your body, and it was evident that the systems weren’t quite up to speed.  Also the pole test found the car’s structure to be weak in protecting the front seat occupant.  Poor whiplash protection during a rear collision, and weak protection during the side pole test showed the Jeep Cherokee as being a bit light.  This was its reason for scoring just the four out of five stars.

Sadly, the small Suzuki Jimny 4×4 only scored a three-star crash testing result.   The structure isn’t up to the task of keeping its occupants safe in pole tests and frontal crash tests.  Even the airbag didn’t have the pressure to prevent the dummy bumping its head on the steering wheel –ouch!

A big surprise came my way when I discovered that the Jeep Wrangler scored just a one-star out-of-five for overall safety capability during the crash tests carried out by the Euro NCAP team.  The windscreen pillars and the footwall structures reached their full limit of protection – due to their serious deformation patterns when put through the frontal impact test.  You wouldn’t want to be going faster than 40 mph!

Least safe is the Fiat Panda.  It didn’t score any stars of the five available.  Enough said!

 

VERY GOOD:

Euro NCAP calculate the best vehicles from their weighted sum of the scores in Adult Occupant, Child Occupant, Pedestrian and Safety Assist assessments for every car tested.  According to Euro NCAP, the best-of-the-best in 2019 happened to be the:

Supermini: Audi A1 and Renault Clio

Small family car: Mercedes-Benz CLA and Mazda3.

Large family car: Tesla Model 3, BMW 3-Series and Skoda Octavia.

Small Off-Road/MPV: Subaru Forester

Hybrid and Electric: Tesla Model 3

Larger off-road: Tesla Model X and SEAT Tarraco – which shares its DNA with the Volkswagen Tiguan and Skoda Kodiaq.

There are some nice cars in the list above.  It’s great to see Subaru still delivering the goods along with the German marques.  Looks like Tesla has their cars well sorted, as well.

Last Ford GT cars Very Special

Ford GT HE

If you’ve got a load of money to spend on a supercar and want something really different and special, then why not go for the latest and last-to-be-built Ford GT supercars.  The Ford GT remains the only American supercar to ever win at Le Mans.  This beat Ferrari at its own game, and now the Ford Performance division has announced a very special Heritage Edition (HE) that has been inspired by the original model’s first long distance win at the 1966 Daytona 24 Hour Continental race.

The new Ford GT Heritage Edition adds some styling cues that are taken from the winning formula at Le Mans in 1966.  It is a model developed as a tribute to the winner of the 1966 Daytona 24 Hour Continental race, which was captured in the 2019 film “Ford v Ferrari”.  The HE features a striking Frozen White exterior paint job with an exposed carbon fibre hood.  Shod with great looking one-piece Heritage Gold 20-inch forged aluminium wheels and red Brembo monobloc brake callipers, you have a an eye-catching combination to what is still one of the most desirable supercars on the planet.

Inside the Ford GT HE is black Alcantara material wrapping the instrument panel, headliner and steering wheel rim, while red paddle shifters and Alcantara performance seats add intense contrast and a special experience.

Ford GT HE

You can also get the Ford GT with even less unsprung weight, where there’s the option of 20-inch exposed carbon fibre wheels.  You can also get the monobloc brake calipers lacquered in black with Brembo lettering in red – nice!

Adding the special Studio Collection package gives you a Ford GT that offers added exclusivity and design enhancements, which you can add to the newest Ford GT supercar.  Boasting an all-new graphics package that highlights key styling elements, such as functional cooling ducts, and other unique exterior graphics that have been designed by the Ford Performance and Ford GT manufacturer, ‘Multimatic’.  These clever design cues combine the combination of stripes and accents over the sexy GT exterior that invoke the emotion of speed as well as drawing your eye to some of the most prominent features of the classic GT style.

Just forty examples of the Studio Collection package will be built across the 2021 and 2022 model years, so to be one of the coolest Supercar drivers on the planet be in quick and don’t miss out!

Sadly, these will be the last new Ford GT supercar models to be produced, with production scheduled to wrap up in 2022.

Just for your information: the latest RWD, 7-speed automatic Ford GT comes with a twin-turbo, 3.5-litre V6 engine developing a whopping 482 kW of power at 6250 rpm and 746 Nm of torque at 5900 rpm.  That’s enough energy to catapult you from 0-100 km/h in around 3.8 seconds, 0-200 km/h in 12.3 seconds, see you through the quarter mile in 11.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 330 km/h.

The raucous sound of the engine is sublime, the RWD handling spot on, and it’s so easy to fall in love with one.  Buy one now, and the car is sure to appreciate in value – especially with this last run of GT cars, and their acquired exclusivity.

Ford GT HE

Road Trip Australia

One of the things that we can look forward to once everything settles back down to normal after covid is being able to fully appreciate Australia and its diversity.  Instead of grabbing that best flight deal for an overseas trip, I reckon we could pick up the road map and get out and see Australia by road a bit more. Support the locals, you know…

The following are some of the best road trips in Australia; so take a look and be inspired:

1) Round the Perimeter

Doing the whole lap of Australia around the coastline would have to be the ultimate Australian road trip.  The road trip follows around 15,000 km of our great Highway One, and it links seven of the major cities.  You’ll get to explore and taste the menu that Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Broome, Perth, Esperance, Adelaide, Melbourne and Hobart all have to offer.

If you can nab a 4WD for this road trip, then you’ll be able to take your time and head down some of the fun tracks that shoot off to the side.  Around Australia will include everything from big city lights to sleepy coastal towns, lush green rainforest to dusty and dry red Outback.

One thing that you might like to factor in is that when you travel the northern part of Australia (Broome to Cairns) it’s best to do it in the April to September window to make the most of the good weather.  During the wet season roads can be closed.

2) Torquay to Allansford, Victoria

One of the country’s most famous road trips stretches along the southern coast on Victoria.  Travelling from Torquay to Allansford winds 243 km along some of Australia’s most stunning coastline.  You’ll also head through rainforest, along sunburnt cliffs, by shipwrecks, and, you’ll also see the famous Twelve Apostles – but there is only eight of them now!

3) The Gibb River Road, Western Australia

If you want to tackle some 4WDing, then the Munja Track, in Kimberley is a super exciting adventure.  The route was constructed in the 1960s to transport stock, and this 660 km road cuts right through from Derby to Wyndham.  You’ll get to see magnificent and remote wilderness, some of our most ancient gorges, beautiful, thundering waterfalls, some sacred Aboriginal sites and so much more.  Take a look at Bell Gorge, where you’ll find a multi-tiered waterfall cascading down layered sandstone into several pools.  And, you can even swim!

4) Cairns to Cape York, Queensland

You’ll need a decent 4WD for this 1000 km drive that begins at Cairns and ends at Cape York.  This is the road that gets you through to the Barrier Reef.  There is loads of red dirt and the river crossings will have crocodiles.  The lush rainforest is amazing, and there are 2 World Heritage areas (The Reef and the Daintree).

5) Perth to Ningaloo, Western Australia

Here is the road that has loads of beautiful secluded beaches and crystal clear water.  It’s close to 1200 km in length and starts at Perth and ends at Exmouth.  Western Australian beaches also have some stunning Coral Coastlines.

Love the sea? Then this is a trip for you.  Western Australia is where the Indian Ocean meets the rugged Outback.  You’ll get to see the Pinnacles Desert and the World Heritage Shark Bay.  How about swimming with dolphins, manta rays and whale sharks?  There is also the breath-taking  gorges of the Kalbarri National Park – wow!

If you book this trip in the June to September window, then you’ll also be wowed with the colourful wildflowers that carpet the barren landscape.

6) The Great Alpine Road, Victoria

This route starts in Wangaratta and winds its way around 500 km through Victorian High Country to Metung in Gippsland Lakes area.  On the way you’ll be travelling over Australia’s highest accessible sealed road, which takes in mountain ranges, deep valleys, wine regions and the sparkling waterways of the Gippsland Lakes region. This is a lovely scenic road that has some nice quaint historic towns along the way.

Victoria’s highest alpine village, Mt Hotham, is nice to visit year-round, with excellent downhill skiing and cross-country trails.  You can also book in for a horse ride, and fish during the warmer months.

7) The Savannah Way

The Savannah Way is around 3700 km in length and it offers loads of adventure.  It takes you from Queensland all the way to Western Australia.

Encompassing 15 national parks and five World Heritage along the way, this is the ultimate east to west road trip. Tropical rainforest, vast grassy plains, remote cattle stations, waterfalls, gorges, turquoise waters and ancient rock art; it’s all there.  Boodjamulla National Park is one of Queensland’s awesome sights and experiences.

It’s advisable to carry a radio for when mobile reception isn’t the best, as you are in some faily remote country at times in the Outback.

8) The Nullarbor, South Australia

This is Australia’s straightest road trip: the Nullarbor Plain.  It’s not hard to find, running 1256 km between the goldfields of WA and the Eyre Peninsula in SA.

It is a legendary flat plain that meets with the towering sea cliffs of the Great Australian Bight. It’s home to prolific wildlife, and you’ll be able to see emus, kangaroos, dingoes and camels along the way.  It also boasts the world’s longest golf course!

9) The Pacific Coast, New South Wales & Queensland

If you haven’t done this trip, then it has to be on your to-do list.  The Legendary Pacific Coast follows around 900 km from Sydney to Brisbane through the Central Coast, Port Stephens, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, Ballina and Byron Bay.  This is coastal Australia at its best, with it being home to a host of surfing beaches, charming seaside towns, pretty landscapes and national parks.

Take your time and venture off the main highway to find rich pickings of fun activities, boutiques and food.

10) The Grand Pacific Drive, New South Wales

This one’s a photographer’s joy; The Grand Pacific Drive is a 140 km scenic coastal drive taking you through rainforests, over the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge and through the coastal cities and townships of Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama and the Shoalhaven.  This also has some of New South Wale’s most beautiful cliff faces.

Get yourself ready!

What Can A Motorist Do During Lockdown?

Although the restrictions aren’t in place all across the country, the state of Victoria is having to cope with lockdown. We sympathise, we really do. It’s not easy and we wish you all the best.

The lockdown rules mean that you’ve only got four reasons for being in a vehicle on the roads: “to shop for food and essential goods or services; to provide care, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment; to exercise or for outdoor recreation; for work or study, if you can’t do it from home” – and that’s a direct quote from the website. You are also advised to “not travel further than you need to”. This means that you probably won’t have much luck convincing the Powers That Be that driving counts as “outdoor recreation”. Of course, if you’re an essential worker, you can keep on working and driving to work (actually, that’s one of the four reasons). Enjoy the clear roads and drive safely, even if you’re exhausted.

So what can a keen motorist do during lockdown to keep that part of their psyche satisfied? The most obvious answer is to spend time during lockdown playing motor racing games on whatever device you fancy. This is all very well and there are some great ones out there that help you fulfil your racing driver or speed freak fantasies. However, one has to remember that (a) don’t get too used to driving that way, as you can’t walk away from a car that crashes by flipping end over end in real life and (b) there is only so long that you ought to spend hogging the X-box or PC console.

There are other things that are (mostly) more productive to keep you occupied. Here are a few suggestions that you can try:

  • Take the time to deep clean the car you own. You know that you need to keep it clean and to get all those stray chips out from under the seat. Now’s your chance. Give your car a bit of TLC and really see it gleaming. While you’re at it, do all those little maintenance jobs on your car that you’ve always meant to get around to.
  • If you don’t know how to do basic maintenance jobs on your car, this is your chance to learn how. If there isn’t anybody at home with you who knows how to do all those little jobs like checking and topping up the oil, rotating the tyres, or whatever needs to be done, then the internet has a lot of useful videos. Watch a few to get an idea of what’s needed, then have a go. If you do know how to do these maintenance jobs and you have kids at home, teach them how to do the basic things. Even if you don’t have anything that needs doing right now, show them how to change a tyre. It’s a life skill that everybody needs to use at some point, in contrast to quadratic equations, which only get used by a few people (including motor engineers).
  • Spend time browsing and learning about all the great new models and makes out there. Who knows, when all this is over, you might decide it’s time to get a new set of wheels. Our car reviews may be a great place to start.
  • Order a model car online and make it up.
  • Read a good e-book or listen to an audiobook on any motoring-related topic.
  • Play with the toy cars with the kids – and teach them about road rules while you’re at it. Sound effects are encouraged.
  • Use those motoring magazines you’ve got stashed away as inspiration and try your hand at drawing.

Iconic Screen Cars That Aren’t 007’s Aston Martin

If you mention iconic screen cars or movie cars, it won’t be long until the Aston Martins driven by the various incarnations of 007 are mentioned. After all, the long-running Bond series or franchise is practically synonymous with the Aston, and there’s debate about which of the Bond cars was the coolest (with a few honourable mentions going to the aquatic Lotus in The Spy Who Loved Me). However, what about all the other movies (and TV series) that have seriously cool sets of wheels? What are some of the other iconic drives, whether they feature in motoring movies or not, that aren’t associated with Bond, James Bond?

Here’s my pick of instantly recognizable cars from the screen, big and little…

Mini Cooper

It carries out the famous chase scene in The Italian Job, it’s Mr Bean’s drive of choice on the small screen and the big screen, it turns up in one of the Bourne movies, and a fleet of them act as the ghosts chasing a giant Pac-Man in Pixels. With the ability to star in thrillers as well as comedy, this makes the beloved Mini a pretty versatile actor.

VW Beetle

OK, how many cars get to star in a movie all of their very own? Or, for that matter, six movies, spanning from the late 1960s through to 2005? And their own TV series? Yes, we’re talking about Herbie the Love Bug, that absolute classic Volkswagen.

DeLorean DMC-12

We may have passed 2015 but the Back To The Future is still a fun watch. If it wasn’t for this movie using the futuristic-looking metallic DeLorean as a time machine, the DeLorean would have been as forgotten as the Geely Rural Nanny but without even the silly name.

Ford Camaro

If you talk to a non-petrolhead about a Ford Camaro, they’re likely to look at you blankly. If you mention the Transformers Bumblebee car, they’ll instantly know what you’re talking about. Bumblebee is so recognizable that it seems unthinkable to have a Ford Camaro that isn’t yellow.

Dodge Charger

If it didn’t feature a Dodge Charger going over a jump, then it wasn’t really a Dukes of Hazzard episode. It’s gathered some controversy about that Confederate flag painted on the roof (let’s face it: a good chunk of us Down Under didn’t realise was the Confederate flag from the US Civil War but just thought of as “The General Lee’s Logo”; we didn’t know who the original General Lee was either). Even if it’s just plain 1970s orange, it’s still instantly recognizable, almost as much as Daisy’s cutoff denim shorts.  Oh yes – it also took centre stage in the first of the Fast and Furious movies (what number are we up to now?).

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

Another beauty from the 1970s, commonly known as KITT and as much a star of Knight Rider as Michael Knight. It’s not for nothing that a few people of a certain age have opted to have the navigation system of their vehicles talk with this voice. Pontiac really ought to make a limited edition version using modern tech that was just a fantasy in the original series… but not the turbo thruster that practically made the Firebird do suspension-wrecking jumps. A Trans Am also featured in Smokey and the Bandit.

Ford Anglia

This is another vehicle that would have been forgotten by all except a few classic car enthusiasts but was re-introduced to a new generation by the Harry Potter books and films. For you muggles who haven’t read or seen them, the 1962 Ford Anglia belonging to Arthur Weasley was enchanted to fly, turns feral after crashing, then saves Ron and Harry from a tight spot involving giant spiders. People of a certain age are likely to turn to look twice at all light greeny-blue cars of this era just in case it’s a Harry Potter Anglia.