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Motor Sport

Let’s Go and Caravan

We’ve got the country, we’ve got the beauty, and it seems peoples’ love for caravanning and camping around Oz is growing steadily.  The latest figures from Tourism Research Australia show that the popularity of domestic caravanning and camping trips is one pastime that many Australians cherish.  It’s not hard to see why people enjoy it, when there is so much natural beauty in Australia’s landscapes and wildlife.

According to the latest domestic tourism record, it shows that Australians spent a total of 54.5 million nights caravanning and camping during the year ending March 2019.  This number is an increase of 6.5% from the previous year.  While on these trips, many caravanners and campers also opted to eat out at local cafes or restaurants, a bonus for the local businesses.  This growth was experienced across the board, in all States and Territories, with over 10% growth recorded for Northern Territory, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland.  Interestingly, in terms of age demographics, those with a family in tow – i.e. parents with one or more children living at home – belonged to the demographic group that accounted for the largest number of caravan/camp trips in a year.  People who were part of the younger, mid-life demographic, and with no children, were those of the second largest group taking plenty of caravanning or camping trips (4.2 million).  When it comes to the most nights away in a year, the older non-working demographic (often called ‘grey nomads’) were leading the way with 32% of the total number of nights spent in Australia caravanning or camping.  In comparison, the family segment was only slightly less at 30%.

Sorry tenters, but I’m getting older and so will give my few cents worth for caravanning in the following!  I enjoy getting away in our caravan when we can.  Having a caravan in tow allows for a little more comfort on the trip, with less hassle on arrival at each new destination.  Everything you really need is with you, and the beds are ready made for the night, with no need to pitch tent!

I would certainly recommend trying caravanning, particularly if you like the idea of enjoying the great outdoors, getting away from most of the electronic vices, and smelling the clean air.  You get to meet a whole bunch of friendly, like-minded people along the way.  You also get to discover the many new places you’ve never seen before or rediscover your old favourite spots that you love to get back to.  These sorts of experiences are a treat that I never grow tired of.

Caravan Types

Here are some of the varieties of caravans you can buy without looking into purchasing a fully-fledged motorhome:

Standard Caravan

Easy to tow. It really just depends on the tow rating of your car as to how large or heavy the standard caravan is.  The smaller the caravan, generally, the lighter and easier it is to tow than bigger ones.  Standard caravans come in a range of sizes, single and tandem axles, and so some of the standard caravans can even be pulled by smaller cars.

Because standard caravans aren’t as heavy as the more ruggedly designed off-road caravans, they demand less torque and horsepower to tow comfortably out on the open road; thus, they are more economical on the fuel/power bill.

Standard caravans are also a bit easier to store and manipulate by hand, particularly the smaller ones.

 

Pop Tops

Pop-tops are easy to tow. Small caravans like pop-ups are, generally, much lighter and easier to tow from A to B than larger types of caravans.  You get much better fuel economy towing a pop-top because of the lower drag co-efficiency.

Pop-tops a doddle to store and manipulate by hand, particularly the smaller ones.

 

Expander

The merits of an expander caravan are similar to any standard or off-road caravan; however, they have the added bonus of a variety of pop-out areas that can be designed into the ceiling and walls.  Essentially, pop these areas out at your destination, and you have a lot more interior space and utility at your disposal while being stationary.  Just before you tow away, these areas are fold back into place, and away you tow again.

 

Off Road Caravan or Camper

The merits of having an off-road capable caravan or camper speak for themselves.  They have been built tough and rugged so that you can tow them off-road.  Obviously, you are going to need a bigger, torquier vehicle to tow this type of caravan/camper as they are heavier built and weigh more.  Usually, these are towed by a decent 4×4 capable vehicle like a Land Rover, Toyota Land Cruiser, Ford Ranger, etc.

 

Camper Trailer

Similar to a pop-up caravan, except they fold out an array of attached tents.  These are light and easy to tow.  They can be designed for towing both on and off the road.  They are cheaper to buy, as are pop tops.

Hydrogen V8 ICE

Exciting news for internal combustion engine (ICE) lovers: Toyota, Mazda, Subaru and Kawasaki are wanting to collaborate on the attempt to keep the combustion engine alive while meeting all the global clean air targets.  Not only that, but Toyota and long-time Japanese engineering partner Yamaha are at work developing a special new hydrogen-powered 5.0-litre V8 engine.  Unlike a hydrogen fuel-cell car, which combines hydrogen and oxygen atoms to create electricity to drive a motor, this new hydrogen V8 internal combustion engine is a conventional piston-driven engine that has been tuned to burn hydrogen instead of petrol.

While this newly developed V8 engine isn’t completely new, the way it’s fuelled is.  It’s a 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8 that is based off the engine that has been used in the Lexus RC F coupe.  Yamaha says that it produces around 335 kW of power at 6800 rpm and 540 Nm of torque at 3600 rpm.  Having modified the injectors, the head, the intake manifolds and other engine components, this work has added up to make the engine environmentally friendly.  The hydrogen-fed ICE has become less powerful than the petrol-fed V8 that the hydrogen engine is based on.  In the Lexus RC F coupe, the petrol V8 puts out 472 kW and 536 Nm of torque, so while torque has increased a little, power has dropped considerably.  That said, 331 kW is still a stonking amount of power to enjoy, and more often than not it is the torque that you really want in the real world conditions.  You also still get the sound of a burbling V8, and what’s not to like about that!

Yamaha engineer, Takeshi Yamada, said that the engine has a different character to a conventional petrol motor.  He stated that hydrogen engines provide a friendlier feel, making them easier to use even without having utilize other electronic aids for the drive.

Toyota is clearly committed to the project of providing ICE powerplants that use hydrogen as the fuel.  Given that Toyota has run a hydrogen-powered Toyota Corolla in Japan’s Super Taikyu race series as well as showcasing a hydrogen-powered Toyota Yaris GR prototype with the same hydrogen engine technology, it is obvious that they want to continue with this new breed of ICE.

One of the beauties about burning hydrogen instead of petrol is that the hydrogen powerplant does not produce carbon dioxide, which is considered to be one of the primary contributors to global warming.  There would also be no significant nitrogen oxides emissions from an ICE designed to burn hydrogen, thanks to the selective catalytic reduction technology used in the aftertreatment of the combustion gases.

“Hydrogen engines house the potential to be carbon-neutral while keeping our passion for the internal combustion engine alive at the same time,” Yamaha Motor president Yoshihiro Hidaka said.  He also added that: “I started to see that engines using only hydrogen for fuel actually had very fun, easy-to-use performance characteristics”.

While hydrogen is plentiful in the universe, it must be separated from other compounds to be used as fuel.  Up to the year 2020, most hydrogen was produced from fossil fuels, resulting in CO2 emissions. Hydrogen obtained from fossil fuels is often referred to as grey hydrogen, when emissions are released into the atmosphere.  Blue hydrogen is the hydrogen produced from fossil fuels when emissions are captured through carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Hydrogen that is produced from fossil fuels using the newer non-polluting technology called methane pyrolysis is often called turquoise hydrogen.

You can also generate hydrogen from renewable energy sources, and this hydrogen is often referred to as green hydrogen.  There are two practical ways of producing green hydrogen.  One of the ways is to use electric power for producing hydrogen from the electrolysis of water.  The other way of producing green hydrogen is to use landfill gas to produce the green hydrogen in a steam reformer.  Hydrogen fuel, when it is produced by using renewable sources of energy like wind or solar power, is a renewable fuel.

Hydrogen can also be created from another renewable energy source called nuclear energy via electrolysis, and this is sometimes seen as a subset of green hydrogen, but it can also be referred to as being pink hydrogen.

Obviously, when a car can be designed to run on hydrogen that has been produced from renewable energy sources, then this is a good thing.  Toyota and Yamaha remain adamant that this is great technology which could carve out a niche for itself in the new EV automotive landscape.

Toyota has also recently revealed a fleet of 12 zero tailpipe-emission concept vehicles, many of which will reach production in the coming years.

This is all good news stuff, especially for those of us who love the sound of an ICE instead of a silent EV.  The noisy farts always get the best round of laughter!

Motorcycles

There are those of us who just don’t do motorcycles.  The thought of hurtling along the motorway with a massive engine between your legs sounds downright alarming to many people, and I get that.  Considering that a motorcyclist does have less protection than most road users does put a lot of people off riding a motorcycle.  However, a careful and skilful rider can manage the risks and keep well out of harm’s way.

Maybe you already ride a motorbike.  You might even be wondering about getting your motorcycle license.  If you haven’t experienced riding a motorcycle, then the chances are you’ll enjoy the thrill of riding a motorbike safely.  Safely being the important word.  Once you’ve mastered the skill of riding a motorbike safely, travelling about Australia on two wheels instead of four can be a fun and exciting experience you’ll enjoy for years to come.  Out in the open, taking in the sights and smells, experiencing the elements, being one with the machine as you lean through the corners and feel the response are all reasons why many people love riding motorcycles.

As a tool to combat rising fuel prices, the motorbike could be a useful option.  Whether you’re single or married, the motorbike can combine with your other means of transportation to get you where you need to go.  They use a lot less fuel than a car and have the size (or lack of size) that enables them to slip through congested areas and park in tight spaces.  If emissions are an issue for you, then the motorbike generates less of an environmental impact than a car does.

Even with the recent global health concerns and restrictions on our daily lives, over the last couple of years the motorcycle has enjoyed an increase in sales throughout Australia.  Over the 2020 period, new motorcycle and scooter sales in Australia were up 6.2% from the previous year, showing a strong demand for individual mobility transport options, of which the motorcycle is the best.  And throughout 2021, the growth trend mushroomed with an increase of 16.6%.  That equated to a total of 102 new units sold, the highest level for 15 years.

Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki claim the biggest chunks of the market share, while Suzuki, KTM, BMW, and Harley Davidson deliver strong motorbike sales.  All motorcycle manufacturers have enjoyed the stronger consumer demand for motorbikes, resulting in better sales figures.

Many people find motorcycle riding a relatively easy task but riding out on the road still comes with a fair share of risk.  Lack of experience and recklessness are often key areas associated with motorcycle accidents.  Damp and slippery roads need to be recognized and ridden over with care.

Allowing plenty of space between you and other road users is a must, and as you ride be aware of other people’s actions, intersection dynamics, any oncoming cars, and any car (whether moving or stationary) in front of you as you ride.  If you are reading the other road users well, reading the road conditions right, and keeping your distance, then motorcycling is relatively safe.

There are plenty of nice sport bikes out there like the Buell Hammerhead, Ducati V4 or the Yamaha YZF-R7.  These are great bikes for a fast ride over a short distance.  They can make useful commute bikes as well.

Buell Sportbike

The touring bikes and dual purpose-bikes are better set up for a comfortable seat and long distance ergonomics.  These are swift bikes and can handle two-up and luggage no problems.  They also make a decent commuter.  Bikes like the Triumph Tiger 1200, MV Augusta Turismo, KTM 1290, Kawasaki Versys, Honda CB500X and BMW 1600 GT are great options in this class of bike.  They are a heavy bike, so not ideal for learners and the inexperienced.

MV Augusta Turismo

Scooters and smaller bikes like the Honda Navi, BMW CE O4 Electric Scooter, and Honda CB300 are handy inner-city commuters and great or a learner rider.

BMW Electric Scooter

A Roadster like the Harley Davidson Street Glide ST, Harley Davidson Forty-Eight, Indian Chief, and Triumph Bonneville Bobber are all about the wow factor and looks.  These are sexy bikes, but some people also find their relatively relaxed riding position, which includes arms and legs pointing forwards, nice for cruising on longer rides.

Harley Davidson Forty-Eight

Where is Motorsport Currently Found on the EV Map?

Formula E racing car.

Traditionally, the latest cutting-edge technology finds its way into road cars via the heat of motor racing.  We are seeing EV racing going big quickly with the relatively recent Formula E championship, but how many motor racing championships are looking to EV technology for their future racing blue-print?  As yet, EV motor racing technology hasn’t made its way into the everyday life of most average Australian motorists.  Most of us still drive a motor vehicle with a healthy internal combustion engine, and most of us won’t be intending or even considering buying an expensive EV as an everyday means of transport anytime soon.

Supercars are continuing to investigate implementing hybrid technology into its racing schedule.

Formula One has had its engine regulations tweaked further with the aim of promoting closer racing and more balanced competition, as well as bringing economic and sporting sustainability to Formula 1.  So, the cars are now flashier and more visually alluring, with the reshaping of the front and rear wings looking good.  Formula One has a target to be net zero by 2030, and the way this is to be achieved is by removing single use plastics from its events, in collaboration with its circuits.  Formula One won’t be going electric but will stay hybrid, and this has been a definite decision that the ‘powers that be’ have taken for the good of the automotive industry as they keep their racing car platforms relevant for future road cars.  Formula One does not see electrification as the new world-religion, and it has stated that EVs are definitely not the only way to move forward with cars.  Hybrid technology is Formula One’s current future objective, where the 2025 engine-unit will be hybrid and using 100 % sustainable fuels.  Formula One sees a need to reduce the costs of this new engine-unit and platform so that it is affordable and less complex, which will open up huge potential for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to use in other applications for road cars.

In the World Rally Championship, current hybrid engine regulations from 2022 through to 2025 is all go, which introduces hybrid technology to the fastest cars on gravel.  The hybrid technical regulations are a long way from being finalised, but initial talks have mooted a ‘supplementary hybrid system’ which controls components and software.  The proposed hybrid units would allow WRC cars, which will retain the 2017 aero and engine package, to run as full EVs on transit stages, while providing a power boost on competitive special stages.  Following 2025, the plan is to open up the rules to allow manufacturers to use their own electric systems for racing.

Formula E

Formula E is going from strength to strength, with Mercedes-Benz and Porsche recently joining the grid.  Formula E, officially the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, is a single-seater motorsport championship for electric cars (EVs).  The series was conceived in 2011 in Paris.  Formula E is the biggest motor racing event solely focussed on EV racing alone, where it is the proving ground and platform to test new ev technologies, drive development to the production line, and put more EVs on the road.

Using the sport as its showcase, the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship is sending the biggest message out to the world that may help alter perceptions and speed-up the switch to electric, in a bid to counteract the so-called “climate crisis” as well as addressing the effects of air pollution – particularly in cities.  Sure, Formula E is the fastest-growing series in motorsport because its also the newest; however, it is certainly going to help put EV technology out there on the roads, even if most current EV buyers are either famous and or high-end earners.

Some electrification in motor racing is happening, where we’re seeing classes like the British Touring Car Championship, IndyCar, IMSA, NASCAR and World Rallycross Championship having some sort of hybrid or fully electric rules etched into the near-future pipeline.  This is all good, but the reality is that most motorists in the general public will still be driving a car with a combustion engine, or combustion engine with hybrid technology, or a car with a combustion engine running on bio fuels in a decade because of the price of a new EV being way too steep, the lack of an EV infrastructure another, the cost of developing a country’s power grid worthy of supporting the power drain of a big EV fleet, EV battery life span, and the list goes on…

All of the many negative attributes that can be accredited to EVs aside, there are some fascinating new technological developments in hybrid and ev technology unfolding within motorsport itself.

Farewell To the Queen of the Nürburgring

As a female motoring blogger, I was very sorry to hear that one of my motoring heroines, Sabine Schmitz, passed away recently.  It’s particularly poignant when I realized that she was only a few years older than me.

If you aren’t sure who I’m talking about, I’m referring to the German motor show presenter who appeared frequently on the British motoring show Top Gear.  We first met her in a 2004 episode, where she became Jeremy Clarkson’s nemesis, as she was a German (groan!) woman (gasp!) who beat Jeremy Clarkson around the Nürburgring (ouch!) in a diesel (eek!) van (aaagh!).  I know I definitely loved it when she made it around the Ring in less than 10 minutes.  This wasn’t her first appearance on a Top Gear show (she appeared briefly in a 2002 special) and it wasn’t her last, either. In fact, after the ousting of the Unholy Trinity of Clarkson, Hammond and May, she was selected by the BBC as one of the new presenters.

Sabine was one of three daughters of restaurant owners who lived near the famous Nürburgring.  She and her sisters all participated in motorsports, but she was the most successful of the three. During her racing career, she won the 24-hour Nürburgring challenge twice (both times in a BMW), as well as placing third, ninth and sixth in Porsches (if you’re looking it up, you’ll find her under her married name of Sabine Reck).  She operated a “taxi service” professionally in the Nürburgring, and later added driver training to her company portfolio.  It’s probably no exaggeration to say that she knew the Nürburgring ring like I know my neighbourhood roads. The track was her neighbourhood road.

As she was known not only for her driving skills but also for her sparkling personality, she appeared frequently on the German equivalent of Top Gear, a show called D Motor. She also provided commentary for motorsports from time to time, becoming known for her sense of humour.

I always enjoyed watching the episodes of Top Gear when she appeared, and it was fantastic to see a woman succeeding in what has traditionally been a very male-dominated area – which is odd, when you come to think about it, given that it was a German woman, Bertha Benz, who brought the motorcar to public attention in the first place. She was a great role model for girls learning to drive and showed the public that driving well is not necessarily a “boy thing”.

She was, unfortunately, diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer in 2017, although this was not made public until last year. She fought it hard, but lost the battle a few weeks ago.  I’m sure I won’t be the only one who misses her and will be disappointed not to see any more of her.

One more time, let’s enjoy one of her iconic Nürburgring laps in a van for Top Gear that we loved so much:

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Aussie’s Rosco aiming for 1000 mph

Aussie Invader 5R

It might be a bit hard to call it a conventional car but then it’s not really a conventional car in the sense that the Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car looks more plane/rocket in its appearance.  The Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car boasts an insanely long arrow-shaped design with three wheels, large aerodynamic wind deflectors and an engine with close to 150,000 kW!  Yes, that’s correct; you did read that figure correctly.  To put that in perspective, an Aussie V8 Supercar puts out, on average, around 475 kW of power.  Now, if you’ve ever experienced the wonderful roar of these V8s when they blast by around the circuit, then you can understand the aura of such kW potency.  But this Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car makes as much power as 316 of these Aussie V8 Supercars put together! The Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car is powered by a single bi-propellant rocket reportedly capable of producing upwards of 62,000 lbf of thrust.  That’s over four times more than a Boeing 737 jet!

Founder and designer of the new Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car, Rosco McGlashan, has the world’s fastest land speed record in his sights.  He will reportedly be the pilot of the 16-metre long, nine-tonne steel-framed vehicle.  And the target?  The target top speed of 1609 km/h (1000 mph) would be the fastest of any land-going vehicle, ever. And 1000 mph would see it blitz the current land speed record held by the Noble Thrust SSC on a Nevada salt flat in 1997, which averaged 1223.7 km/h and broke the sound barrier while doing so.

Rosco McGlashan

Rosco McGlashan would like to set the new record next year once all the Covid palaver is over-and-done-with, and it will likely be set somewhere in the Queensland or Western Australian desert.  Rosco is no stranger to setting speed records; he is already the holder of the Australian land speed record, where in 1994 he clocked 802.6 km/h behind the wheel of a jet-powered predecessor to the Aussie Invader 5R out on the dry salt flats of Lake Gairdner, near Adelaide.  He has, after all, built all of his drag racing, exhibition, and land-speed racing vehicles himself over the years in a shed at his home.

Rosco has accurate computer modelling on the Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car, which suggests that the Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car will have enough power and thrust for launching the car from 0-100 km/h in approximately 1.1 seconds.  It should reach its target of 1000 mph in less than 30 seconds.  Slowing the Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car down is no mean feat and will thus will require a full 13 km of flat desert just to stop it.  A multi-stage deployment of high-speed hydraulic air brakes, mid-speed parachutes, and low-speed disc brakes have been designed to activate progressively to safely bring the vehicle to a halt.

Picking an exact location will depend largely on which organization or individual steps up as the primary sponsor for the effort. As will the practical necessity of having 5 km of flat desert for getting up to speed plus another 13 km to stop it.

Aussie Invader 5R

Mini’s Hot Secret!

MINI JCW GP

There is one other Mini that might have flown in under your radar.  It is the wildest Mini hot hatch yet, and it’s called the Mini John Cooper Works GP.  The car looks really cool and boasts the highest price tag of any Mini yet – but for good reason.

It was built as a JCW GP 60th year birthday present for Mini, and it sits low down on a 40 mm wider track.  The massive grille, bold GP badge, massive front spoiler and two large air foiling scoops just give the car a special presence that is brutal and focused.  The air intake slot in the bonnet is large and ready to suck in gallons of air to help spool the turbo.

Look at the Mini JCW GP hot-hatch side on, and the chunky styling looks awesome, mean and racy.  It features huge wheel arches, massive side skirts and an enormous spoiler.  The car is also lower than standard JCW cars.

Head around the back, and you note that the spoiler has also been skilfully incorporated into the roof guttering showing a nice level of attention to detail.  The taillights have been darkened and the twin exhaust outlets poke aggressively out from the centre of the rear skirt.  These crackle and pop with full throttle and under serious braking.  What a car!

Inside, the racy Mini JCW GP is fairly simple.  It boasts nice leather bucket seats, a digital dash, 3-D printed panels with an array of options for logos and displays.  A special ‘GP pack’ adds all the comfort and bells and whistles like heated seats and dual zone climate control, but remember this is a stripped out limited edition racer that comes standard with just the two seats.  A horizontal strut brace takes up where the rear seats would normally sit.

So just 3000 units will be made worldwide, and 65 of those will make the journey to Australia – and they have almost certainly already been sold to their lucky owners.  They are around $12,500 more expensive than a ‘regular’ John Cooper Works, so I’d imagine if you did own one and tried to sell it now, you could fetch even more than the original price.

The Mini JCW GP is significantly more expensive than more generously equipped hot hatch rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf R ($56,990); but who cares – the car is a phenomenal performer and it is a limited edition.  The new John Cooper Works GP is driven by a special version of BMW’s 2.0-litre turbo engine with an output of 225 kW of power and 450 Nm of torque available.  Just the eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters is available, however this set-up ensures that the power is delivered precisely on time – every time.  Mini has developed a unique suspension for the GP, designed to make it even faster around a racetrack than the standard JCW Hatch.  Mini claims the FWD JCW GP hot-hatch will do the 0-100 km/h dash in just 5.2 seconds.  This is just the start of the rush of power and acceleration that goes on to a governed top speed of 265 km/h.  This is very quick indeed!  The FWD power is controlled with a limited slip-diff.

You’ll want to keep your ear to the ground and see if you can find a seller of the wonderful little Mini JCW GP ‘hottie’.  It’s distinctively different and extremely aggressive, and you’re in for a thrilling and wild ride.

Mini’s Hottest Hatch

Full Speed Ahead: Mustang Mach 1 Returns.

It’s a blast from the past for fans of the Blue Oval as the Mustang Mach 1 is readied for a 2021 Down Under release date. Sharing features from the Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT500, the Mustang Mach 1 is suitable for the track as much as it will the road.

Aero aids, the famous Mach 1 badging, and a 345kW 5.0L V8 under the long bonnet are part of the appealing package. There is a Tremec six speed manual or Ford’s ten speed auto to play with, and the manual has rev-matching technology for better changes. A heavier-duty oil cooler can be specced for both, and a software upgrade for the auto to optimise road and track based performance.

The Mach 1 rolls on a bespoke suspension tune with MagneRide 1 dampers and bespoke springs, along with rejigged anti-roll bars and bush specifications to deliver improved control and response under high cornering loads. 19 inch alloys will be uniquely designed for the Mach 1. Body colour and external trim combinations number five, and bonnet stripes and body styling evoking the original 1970s version. Each vehicle has its own identification badge for the chassis number.

The engine benefits from an open air induction system, 87mm throttle bodies, and a manifold shared with the North American specification Shelby GT350. The engine’s management system has been tweaked to allow high and low pressure fuel injection to match the engine revs. Peak torque, by the way, is 556Nm at 4,600rpm, with the 345kW at a high 7,7500rpm. Keeping the engine’s oil cool is the job assigned to the Shelby GT350 unit, bolted on via a redesigned mount to ensure a proper flow under any load. It also means that te only engines noises a driver should hear exit via a quad set of 4.5 inch tips via the Active Valve Performance Exhaust system.

“Following the success of Mustang BULLITT and Mustang R-SPEC, we are very excited to introduce this highly capable, track ready Mustang to our Australian Mustang fans. The unique styling, which pays homage to the original model, is more than worthy of its legendary badge,” said Andrew Birkic, President and CEO, Ford Australia and New Zealand.

A twin-disc six speed manual or a ten speed auto are the transmissions. The manual has a rev-matching system that momentarily blips the throttle, matching the engine speed to the selected gear. For those that like a sporty feel, flat shifting is also programed in to be usable. And as a track capable machine, there is an additional cooling system fitted to the limited slip diff rear axle.

Aero changes see the Mach 1 having 22 percent more downforce than the Mustang GT. A rear diffuser shared with the Shelby GT400 pairs with a longer undertray fitted with air directional fins for brake cooling. A change to the shape of the front splitter sees an increase in aero grip too. This is all balanced by a specially designed rear decklid spoiler.

Ride and handling see the MagneRide magnetic suspension recalibrated for the Mach 1. Stiffer front springs and recalibrated roll bars are partnered with Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT500 subframes and toe-link components. Braking is improved with a higher spec booster with discs inside a set of five spoke 19 inch wheels.

There will be a choice of five body colours, complete with bonnet and side stripe combinations. Available will be Fighter Jet Gray2 with Satin Black/Reflective Orange stripes, Shadow Black and Oxford White with Satin Black/Red stripes, or Velocity Blue and Twister Orange, with Satin Black/White stripes. To add extra spice, an optional Appearance Pack will also be available exclusively with Fighter Jet Gray, featuring orange accent seatback trim, orange brake callipers and satin black and orange hood and side stripe. Mustang Mach 1 upper and lower front grilles are finished in gloss black, and the iconic Mach 1 logo appears on the rear deck-lid and on each front wing.Interior trim will be an Ebony colour scheme and an aluminuim trim called Dark Engine. Metal Grey is the colour for the stitching in the seats, with Recaro seats available to option. Each Mustang Mach 1 features a unique dashboard badge featuring the Mach 1 logo and chassis number, complemented by unique sill plates and a new start-up display on the 12-inch digital instrument display cluster. Sounds will pump from a 12 speaker Bang and Olufsen system, and internet on the go comes courtesy of FordPass Connect 5.

In addition to a five-year, unlimited kilometre full factory warranty, the Mustang Mach 1 is eligible for the Ford Service Benefits program that includes Service Loan Car, Auto Club Membership, including Roadside Assistance and Sat-Nav map updates. Furthermore, maximum service price is $299, including GST, for each of the first four A or B Logbook services at a participating dealership for up to 4 years / 60,000kms, whichever comes first, for eligible customers.

$83,365 is the manufacturer’s recommended list price for both manual and auto, with premium paint at $650, Recaro seats a lazy $3K, and the Appearance pack just $1,000.

“Mustang has won the hearts and minds of Australian drivers, and Mach 1 is one of the most thrilling Mustangs to date. This head turning model not only looks the part, but it has all the hardware to delight Mustang enthusiasts, offering on-track excitement and on-road driving pleasure.” added Birkic.

 

Era’s End: 2020 B1000 Says Goodbye To The Lion

Motorsport at Bathurst will see the end of an era for the “long” weekend of October 15 to 18. Covering four days, with practice, qualifying, and racing for the main game of Supercars and the supporting categories, it’s a tradition that sees an end to an era in 2020.

Starting in the 1960s as the Armstrong 500, and undergoing several sponsorship name changes, such as the Hardie-Ferodo, Tooheys, and more recently Supercheap, Australia’s “Great Race” says goodbye to Holden as a brand and competitor this weekend.

With the closure of the manufacturing side of the brand in 2018 and the subsequent decision by General Motors to retire the century-plus old name of Holden, a name that has been a constant at the mountain for over two decades, and a history that goes back another three,  to think that the name will finally disappear from showrooms and timing sheets for ever is almost impossible to consider.

Holden itself began as a saddlery in 1856 by James A. Holden. He had emigrated to Australia from England in 1852. 1905 and James’ son, Edward, who had been dabbling in the still new field of automobiles, joined the company. This lead to the firm becoming involved in providing minor repairs to the upholstery in vehicles of the day. After some years of build bodies to be mounted on chassis, Holden’s Motor Body Builders was founded in 1917. General Motors bought the firm in 1931 after The Great Depression took its toll and General Motors-Holden was born.

Holden gave us the 48-215 and FJ, the EH 179 Special, the brutal 350ci Monaro and nimble XU-1, the downright sexy LX A9X Torana hatchback, and of course, the Bullpitt favourite. The Kingswood. There was the 186ci, the 253ci, and our own homegrown power hero, the 308ci. Then came 1978 and the birth of a nameplate that would underpin Holden until 2018. First up was an Aussie icon designation, the VB. 1984 and the world car VK, followed by the Nissan powered VL, the restyled VR and the billion dollar baby VE before the final V series car, the VF. The ZB Commodore would be the nail in the coffin as far as many were concerned as it was front, not rear, wheel drive. Gone was the V8 and a “proper” four door as the ZB was a fastback design.

The Red Lion brought to public prominence Brock. Peter Geoffrey Brock, if you don’t mind. There is Bruce McPhee and Barry Mulholland, Colin Bond and Tony Roberts, Larry Perkins, John Harvey, Russell Ingall, Craig Lowndes, Mark Skaife, Steven Richards that all have red lion blood in the veins.

It’s not all beer and skittles though. Viva, Epica, Malibu are names that will remain associated with the brand and did little to help the public perception of a brand that had lost its way. Stories of indifferent dealership service practices and a slowness to move with the market also blurred the once untarnished badge’s line between want and want not.

Holden had a proud history in Australia, in both the automotive retail sector and in motorsport. In that sense it officially reaches the end of the line late in the afternoon of Sunday October 18 2020.

Vale, Holden.

 

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!