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Archive for October, 2010

007 Car Sells For $4.5m Plus Bonus

The 1964 Aston Martin DB5 car driven by Sean Connery in the James Bond movies  Goldfinger and Thunderball has sold at auction in London, England for $4.5 million

James Bond's Aston Martin DB5

It still has its original “Q Branch” gadgets and they still work-of sorts. Live bullets were never on the machine gun menu.

But the new owner, American business man Harry Yeaggy, also gets an extra bonus for his $4.5m. He receives a seven night stay for ten nights for ten guests at the re-launched ‘GoldenEye Resort’ in Jamaica, where Ian Flemming wrote all 14 James Bond novels. (We are told that Pussy Galore is not at the resort….errrr…..should I re-phrase that???)

The car’s previous owner purchased the car from the Aston Martin Lagonda factory in 1969 for just $12,000.

Don’t forget the kids

Discovering, of late, that safety has been taken seriously by car manufacturers in the last decade has changed, for many, the way that they approach buying a new car.  Safety is all about how the occupants are kept safe inside the shell of a crashing car. 

To start with, it was the seatbelts that offered a car’s driver and occupants a means by which they were not hurled around willy-nilly in a car crash.  Introducing ABS to premium cars in the eighties enabled control in emergency braking – particularly in the wet. 

Airbags were then introduced for the driver.  Bizarrely, after a period of time, the powers-at-be-only then decided to offer an airbag to the front passenger as well.  Airbag technology has become so advanced these days that you’ll find airbags for Africa inside most top brand cars – though that’s probably not fair, because it hasn’t taken long for the mainstream models to equip their fleet with a full array of airbags.  They knew that safety features were becoming a big selling point, and so they surrendered to public demand.

All sorts of active safety features (often onboard electronic aids) like accident avoidance systems, good visibility from a driver’s seat, ABS, EBD, TCS, ESC, EBA, low noise level in the car’s interior, legibility of instrumentation and warning symbols, heads-up displays, intelligent speed adaptation, cruise control and even night vision make travelling in the best cars the safest bet. 

At present, child safety is right at the fore in crash safety design.  For many years, a lap belt was all that was available to the middle passenger (often the child) in the back seats.  This was never the best option, and manufacturers soon made three-point safety belts in the rear seats standard – though even today you’ll find the odd car skimping on this one! 

Today, crash testing looks out for the child so much more.  Ratings given for child safety include even the fitting instructions for a range of popular child seats, the car’s ability to accommodate the child safety seats appropriately and their performance in front and side impact tests.  

What about airbag systems?  Do they endanger a child?  Actually, they can.  Never place a rear-facing child restraint on the front passenger seat with an active frontal protection airbag.  Some vehicles are designed to allow for the passenger airbag to be deactivated if a child’s weight is detected in the front passenger seat.  If you are in any doubt about when it is safe to use a rear-facing child seat in the front seat of a car, consult the vehicle handbook for more information or place them in the rear seats.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.

In an accident, where is the safest place for a child seat?  Airbags aside, it is actually safest to place a small child in a child seat on the rear seats.  My personal choice would be in the middle with a three-point safety seat belt.  This is because in the middle rear-seat, it would seem to me, that they would be protected from any side impact better.  Some people argue that the left rear seat is the safest because side collisions are more common from the right, and that they are the furthest away from RHS-offset head-on collisions.

Before installing your child restraint on any seat, it is essential to check that the intended seat position is suitable for use with a child seat.  Information on this should be available in the vehicle manufacturer’s handbook – if the vehicle manufacturer has got any nous. 

If you’re still not sure, then buy a new Volvo!

2010 Australian International Motor Show

This year’s Sydney Motor Show (AIMS), rotating biannually with Melbourne is currently a great success. The press saw many fantastic openings and unveilings of 44 new and improved vehicles.

I think the rotation of locations has been good for the manufactures that are laden with overseas pressures and agenda. One annual Australian Motor Show has let companies like Ford bring out the big guns with a massive display like those seen in Frankfurt and Detroit Shows.

This year’s Motor Show seemed to take on a fantastical approach with great numbers of concept, new model, very special and the insane on display for us mere mortals to dribble over and make those childish sounds of desire that we can’t explain or avoid.  It is a glamorous and sexy event to say the least.

Surprisingly, given that it is two years since the last Sydney Motor Show and two years until the next one, there are a few notable absentees. BMW being the stand out. Why they would not appear in the largest show hosted in the largest market in Australia, when their competitors, Audi, Mercedes, VW and Porsche, are all there astounds me.

Also missing are the Ateco stable with Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Ferrari, Fiat and Great Wall all giving the show a miss.

For me the stand out new car reveal was the Range Rover Evoque. This is a great looking car and if it launches around the suggested $60K mark, there will be a very large waiting list very quickly. Other head turners are the Kia Optima. Kia’s version of the Hyundai i45 is a stunner and should sell well when launched early next year.

Renault has a lot of new cars on display as they try to resurrect the brand in Australia and I must say that the new Megane and Clio are great looking cars.

There is also a big electric and hybrid theme with the Mitsubishi iMeiv proudly on display, including a ‘sports version’, Lexus with the new hybrid only, CT200H and the new Civic Hybrid.

It is also a Ute Fest this year with the new Australian designed Ford Ranger taking pride of place on a fantastic Ford stand and the same car on the Mazda stand as the new BT50. The new VW Amarok, due next year is a real head turner and I am sure will do very well for VW.

All in all the show is well worth a visit. It will be 2012 until we see it again.

Car Dealer Slang

If you’ve ever spent much time in a car yard in Australia, you may well have noticed that it’s like car dealers peak another language!  Especially when they’re talking to each other.

We thought we’d put together a list of all the car dealer slang we could come up with.  But, before you read on, see if you can make sense of the fllolowing video (without the captions)

Then come back here and check out (or add to) our complete dealer glossary!

car dealer slang talk

The Language of Car Yards

Describing a Car

‘dunny door’ – Holden Commodore
‘got form’ – been in previous accident
‘pair of 2’s’ – worth $22K
‘povo pack’ – base model
‘low on ticket’ – running low on registration
‘fast glass’ – power windows
‘bump & hook’ – bullbar & towbar
‘stop’ – abs brakes
‘DC red’ – bright red
‘safety yellow’ – bright yellow
‘double oh, double oh’ – 2000 build, 2000 complied
‘Dolly Partons’ – airbags
a bit leggy – high mileage
‘dollar car’ – a low value trade-in
“puff and blow” – airbags & aircon
‘ncv’ – no commercial value
‘needs boots’ – tyres are worn
‘no humphrey’ – no air conditionaing (Humphrey B Bear – Air)
‘more hits than Elvis’ – panel damage
‘top of the wazza’ – top of the range
‘all the bells and whistles’ – fully optioned

Selling Slang

‘head on the yard’ – potential client outside
‘dudder’ – client can’t get finance
‘tyre kickers’ – time wasting ‘buyers’
‘full lick’ – selling a car at full price
‘wood duck’ – sucker customer
‘upside down’ – negative equity
‘in traffic’ – car is sold & delivered
‘low ball’ – an offer way below what is reasonable
‘gorilla/monkey for the hurt’ – $1,000, $500 to spend
‘ducks on the pond’ – customers outside
‘ghosts’ – clients that won’t go away
‘on the drip’ – weekly payments
‘for a bradman a week’ – $100/week payments
‘on the murray cod’ – on the nod
’90 day beige’ – old stock, can’t sell, nobody wants, bad resale
‘ping the mrs’ – direct the sales tactics towards the female in a couple

Lastly, RIP to John Clarke, the renowned satirist. Here he is many years ago showing the argot over the ditch

Pros And Cons Of The Horseless Carriage

With all the fuss in October about the rapidly approaching Melbourne Cup, it seems appropriate to muse on the merits of the horse versus the horseless carriage… commonly known as a car.  Some people, especially romantic, back-to-nature and environmentally friendly types long for a return to horse-drawn transport.  Other folk are happy to have left horses behind in favour for machines.  So how do the two compare?

Advantages of cars:

  1. They can go faster and for longer, and can carry more people and luggage while doing it.  Admittedly, this is the main advantage of a car and is why they have taken over.
  2. They don’t poop.
  3. They can be left in the garage for a week if you need to and won’t feel neglected.
  4. They are waterproof and you don’t get wet when travelling on rainy days.
  5. They have stereos, air conditioning, heaters and even DVD players.  They also have seatbelts.
  6. They don’t require as much space to keep.
  7. They won’t run around the paddock refusing to be caught when you’re in a hurry to get away.
  8. They don’t kick or bite.  Nor do they have other vices such as bucking, rearing or wind-sucking (to amuse themselves, bored horses in stables bite the side of the stable door and inhale, filling themselves up with gas.  They then burp, making the saddle dangerously loose once in action).  Nor do they decide they don’t like being behind another car, or take a violent dislike to the car behind them, lashing out if the one behind gets too close… actually, a few drivers might consider this point an advantage of horses.
  9. They don’t get startled by a piece of paper flapping on the side of the road, causing them to suddenly bolt out of control.

Advantages of horses:

  1. Their waste products are biodegradable – few things beat horse poop as a general garden fertiliser.  The same goes for those that have given up the ghost: a dead horse can be recycled into glue, fertiliser and dog food; dead cars have fewer uses.  If you’re not squeamish, you can eat horse meat – they do in France.
  2. They reproduce themselves (however, stallions are more prone to kicking, biting, rearing, etc.; most male horses are gelded to settle them down).  It is also possible to get a “crossover” version without years of design work – to get something that combines speed and agility with pulling power, introduce a Clydesdale mare in season to an Arab or thoroughbred stallion and let nature take its course.
  3. They use sustainably produced biofuels on an exclusive basis and none runs on fossil fuels.  They do produce greenhouse gases as exhaust from both ends, but neither of these is as toxic as the fumes from cars.  Horse breath smells quite nice (horse farts are another story).
  4. They are alive, so they can and do respond to you.  They really do listen to your problems, whinny to you in greeting and can sense your moods.  Cars have seldom, if ever, been used as therapy for disturbed children.
  5. A horse can beat any car for off-roading ability, parking sensors and voice activated controls.  A horse can jump obstacles such as hedges or ditches that would leave even a Jeep stranded, and a horse can swim.  And I’ll never forget one ride in a governess cart at one of those settler’s museum places:  at the end of the journey, the driver simply said “Annie, park,” and the horse neatly stepped into place at the right distance from the kerb and the right distance between two other carts before stopping.  Horses are also capable of detecting potential hazards – possibly excessively so (see point 7 above, which is why blinkers, as seen on trotters and pacers, were invented) and won’t enter an intersection when there’s something coming – a horse’s sense of hearing is better than yours.
  6. If you drive drunk or nod off while driving a horse, all will (usually) be well.  A horse will take you home automatically while you sleep – or sleep if off.
  7. Most horses are disinclined to roll when going around a steep corner, can detect a hazard and stop before you do, and don’t usually skid when brought to a standstill.  Steering a horse is (usually) much easier than the smoothest power steering.
  8. You can’t lose the keys for getting a horse started.  Nor can you lock the keys inside a horse, run out of gas unexpectedly or pick up speeding tickets.

Both horses and cars are expensive to purchase, need to be fed and groomed, require frequent shoeing, get ill and die.  Both horses and cars tended to cause fatal accidents at high speeds, although cars are able to kill more people at once, whereas a horse bolting out of control or ridden too hard (boy racers are not a new phenomenon) killed one or two people at most.  Both got sold by dodgy dealers as well as reliable ones, and they say that used car salespeople learnt their tricks off horse-dealers.  Both come in different shapes, colours and sizes, depending on whether you want something for fun (ponies and hatchbacks), racing (thoroughbreds and sports cars), family use (your typical Aussie farm horse and your typical Aussie sedan/wagon) or serious pulling (draught horses and diesel-powered commercial vehicles).

Private Fleet, however, does not sell horses.

So What's Original?

Have you seen the latest Toyota commercials for the new RAV 4?

They claim it is ‘the original SUV’, the one that started it all.

Hrrmph, haven’t they forgotten the Range Rover? This was introduced in 1969 and created a completely new market segment- a four wheel drive vehicle that serves as well on or off the road. Now that’s the concept of an SUV so it’s very cheeky to claim the RAV4 as the first, seeing as the RAnge Rover preceeded it by some twenty five years. But then do you believe everything you see in an ad?

Sydney Welcomes Concours D'Elegance

The first truly International standard Concours D’Elegance in Sydney took place last week in the magnificent grounds of St Patrick’s Estate in Manly, with the Northern Beaches and Pacific Ocean providing the perfect backdrop for a display of over $100m of exotic cars, fashion, wine tasting and entertainment.

It kicked off with a cocktail party on the Saturday night for Sydney’s glitterati in the grounds and alongside Bugattis, Rolls Royces, Lagondas and more…and this was just a foretaste of things to come when the public came on Sunday.

The whole of St Patrick’s Estate was littered with magnificent autos from all over the World, many of them worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and some worth millions!

Over 40 of the very best cars were entered in the Concours D’Elegance contest, and the car of the show was won by an outstanding, very rare and very valuable Hispano Suiza owned by Sydney businessman Jorge Fernandez.

But the day was not just for car buffs. The crowds were entertained by a Fashion Show from Charlie Brown, music from Glenn Shorrock singing some of his hits from his days with Little River Band, an exhibition of over $1m of jewellery from J.Farren-Price, wine tasting and fine food. Even the motorcycle enthusiast was catered for with a stunning show of motor cycles spanning the last hundred years.

It truly was a stunning day, never seen in Sydney before, and it was attended by ten lucky prizewinners from our competition last month. Now if you also went to this show we’d love to hear what you thought about it.

Of course Melbournites will not be outdone! They are putting on their own Concours D’Elegance on 23/24th October called ‘MotorClassica’ and another ten winners will be attending this with the compliments of the organizers and Private Fleet.

American Gardners Wrest Back World Record-For Lawnmowers!

Remember last May we posted a note saying that the Brits were attempting to regain the World Record for lawnmowers by breaking the hundred mile an hour barrier? Well, they did and they didn’t. They did get back the World Record, but they didn’t break 100 mph ( 160 kph).

Anyway these oddballs are at it again because America has now regained the World Record at Bonneville Flats with a run of 96 mph.

Here they are after their successful run. So this is a lot more serious than our ‘tongue in cheek’ expose in May.

Oh, and yes, they do have to cut a stretch of lawn with the same mower after the record run, but being Bonneville Flats ( a saltlake) they have to bring the grass with them!

To GPS or not to GPS?

Getting guidance in life is an important aspect of getting through life’s hurdles.  Sometimes, one of life’s hurdles can be getting across town the best way, in the best time and on time.  Global Positioning Systems are set up for helping us not to feel bewildered and lost.  They offer guidance as to the best route to take from A to B, and they also tell you where in the world you are.

I like to know where I am.  One of the features of the GPS system is to reveal information, using a map, of where your whereabouts actually is.  Knowing where you are is so important.  When you are cooped up in a city maze, not knowing the people, not recognising the buildings and – “for crying out loud” – having to decide whether to take the next turn on the move is sometimes a little bit too much of a headache.  Having a car that is equipped with GPS is certainly a blessing in situations like these. 

All you need to do is TURN IT ON.  I’ve known people who have got themselves lost having refused or even forgotten to use this new-fangled feature in their high-end luxury car.  What the hell is the use of not working your gadgetry in the car that is there to help you?  The problem is, and they don’t always like to admit it, not everyone is technologically savvy.  I mean, does everyone know how to use every feature of their cell phone – which is now becoming somewhat of a dinosaur in the computing world.  Read the instructions!  Every car that comes equipped with a GPS will have instructions on how to use it.  Do take the time to fully know your kit, because, if you do, you’ll be amazed at how easy the GPS works for you to get you where you want to be in a time you will have not thought possible.

One of the key features of the GPS is it knows where you are and knows what obstacles are in your way ahead of time.  It will sit there knowing where you are all the time; however, once you feed in the information of where you want to get to, the GPS comes into its own.  No more fights with the other half.  No more ripped maps.  And no more being late for the meetings.  The GPS will gently guide you through the city maze, motorway madness or race against time… at least in theory. 

Finally, just let the GPS pick your path for you.  It’s got the big picture, and you have the bumper in front to deal with.  You’ll be amazed at how the GPS does make your life simpler, more relaxed and more attractive.  Yes, the voice of the GPS system ain’t sexy.  In fact it’s rather dead beat.  However, you’ll learn quickly to appreciate its soft, calm voice guiding you through what can be one of life’s hardest trials: getting across town.

But there are times when you want to switch it off.  Nobody wants that all-too calm computer voice nagging them to “perform a U-turn when safe” and take the most direct route when you’re trying to take the scenic route ON PURPOSE, or if you have made a quick detour to fill up the tank – or because another piece of technology, i.e. the phone, has brought you a “pick me up now” message.  And occasionally, you get a lower-end GPS telling you to go down a dead-end street and out again as part of your trip.

Got a story about how a GPS helped you out – or let you down?  Let us know.

Australia Isn’t A Pink Car Nation – It’s A Black And White Issue

They used to say that a good horse is never a bad colour.  The same probably also applies to cars – or does it?  While a car’s colour doesn’t really affect its performance or handling, colour certainly has a psychological effect on the buyer and the beholder, and it can also affect safety.  It might even affect the price of the car, in the case of second-hand vehicles, especially.  And if you’re buying a new car, you tend to get a choice of colour, so it pays to be informed!

White:  This is one of the most common car colours on the road, and with good reason.  Roads tend to be black, so a white car stands out more and can be seen easily.  It can even be seen during difficult light conditions, such as dusk (not so good in fog or in a blizzard, though).  From a safety perspective, white makes sense, which is why most car makes and models include a white version.  However, white 4x4s that are going to be used off road are less popular, as white shows every bit of dirt.  White also makes a good “canvas” for company logos, so it is also a good choice for commercial fleets.  If you’re buying a car with practicality uppermost in your mind or safety uppermost, then white makes a good choice.  However, because it’s common, white can be seen as a little bland and boring.

Black:  This is a prestige colour, being the colour of business suits, briefcases and New Zealand rugby teams (shoot me later). It’s dark, sleek and mysterious, like sunglasses or black panthers.  From an image perspective, black is sexy and savvy, and it can be seen as either tough or smooth, masculine or feminine.  It’s also very traditional – we all remember Ford’s famous line about “any colour as long as it’s black.”  From a safety perspective, though, black isn’t so hot, as it makes the car harder to see in poor lighting conditions.  Black also makes a reasonable canvas for company logos, especially if your logo involves white, yellow and red, or other colours that stand out against a dark background for impact.

Red:  Another popular colour that has plenty of appeal.  Psychologists tell us that red is stimulating and alerting, which is why the half-joking myth that red cars go faster has sprung up.  It’s also a cheerful, friendly colour that seems to attract children, making this a good colour for a family car – if you can tolerate endless repetitions of “Toot-toot, chugga, chugga, Big Red Car…”  From a safety perspective, red doesn’t stand out much from the background in dull light, but is one of the “attention – look at me” colours during daylight.  It’s less practical as a background for a company logo, unless your logo is black and white.

Dark red deserves a mention here.  This colour tends to be found on 4x4s, especially those of the late 1990s and early 2000s.  It’s a better background colour for logos but has less stand-out impact.

Reds also seem to be a bit more vulnerable to fading in sunlight.  This may be something to do with infra-red light.  Is anyone able to shed some light on this mystery?

Green:  This colour is associated with the environment, so you would think that it would be the top choice for hybrids and bio-fuel vehicles.  Oddly enough, it isn’t particularly.  Greens come in two types: bright apple and lime tones, which tend to be associated with small, fun hatchbacks; and dark greens along the lines of British Racing Green, which is more sophisticated and is often found on Jaguars.  Both colours make reasonable canvasses for company logos – blues, reds, yellows and whites stand out quite nicely against both types.  From a safety perspective, the bright greens tend to be quite eye-catching in daylight, mostly because it’s not a common colour. 

The darker greens (often combined with minty tones) and the olive greens are often found on 4x4s, harking back to the military background of vehicles like the Jeep.  However, don’t let a salesman fool you into thinking that a green 4×4 will camouflage you better, allowing you to get closer to wildlife for a better shot (either with a camera or with a rifle): the noise and smell will have given you away long before that. However, darker green combines quite honourably with the dirt of off-roading without looking sleazy.

Yellow:  This is another bold colour that ranks second to white for ability to be seen. The fluorescent yellows possibly stand out even more in daylight. Yellow seems to have some of the cheerfulness of red but is more of an extrovert. As a canvas for company logos, it’s not so hot, unless your logo is in red or black.  Black, red and yellow is a high-impact combo that is used in nature as a warning.  It’s also a patriotic colour, especially combined with green.

Yellow can also include the back-to-nature sandy beige tones of late 1970s vehicles (good canvasses for logos) and the champagne-gold tones of early- to mid-1990s models (sophisticated and subtle, tending to fade to greyish as they age; also good backgrounds).

Blue:  Blue is proven to be a calming, soothing colour – unless you happen to see a blue light flashing behind you alongside a red one, which could mean you’ve been clocked speeding and are going to be hit in the wallet.  From a safety perspective, blues are neither here nor there, but blue-greys are dodgy.  Navy blues are sophisticated, but are more subtle than black.  Cobalt, peacock and butcher’s blue are modern and trendy (at least at the time of writing).  Pale blue is friendlier.  All of the blues combine reasonably well with other colours as a logo canvas, though whether you prefer the darker tones or the lighter ones depends on what colours are involved in your logo. 

Grey:  Grey is subtle and mysterious, but in a less in-your-face way than black.  It’s a natural colour, being the tones of rock, cloud and smoke, giving the colour an eco-friendly overtone.  It handles the dirt well on 4x4s but looks equally stylish on an executive saloon trimmed with chrome.  Grey makes a first-class background for logos, as both black and white show up well against it.  Grey, however, absolutely sucks from a safety perspective, as it’s harder to see against a grey background no matter what time of day. Grey is damn near invisible in dusk, which is why wolves and cats are that colour.  If you choose a grey car (I had one once, but before you ask, it didn’t get written off in a crash at evening), be one of the first to put your lights on as evening draws on.

Brown:  This colour is less common these days, so it’s unlikely to be seen on new cars.  Think of old Fords and Holdens.  It’s a warm, eco-friendly colour that doesn’t show the dirt much.  it may be due for a comeback, unless it is frowned upon from a safety perspective, as it’s not a high-impact colour.

Purple:  Another rarely seen colour, but one that has more sophistication than brown.  Purple tends to be associated with creativity and quirkiness (towards the violet and lavender end of purple) or with royalty (towards the dark eggplant tones).  Purple cars tend to be noticed, but this is because they are rarer.  Another colour that could well be fashionable in the future.

Orange:  Bold, warm and stimulating, orange tends to be a love-it-or-hate-it colour.  It’s even more stimulating and energetic than red, which may be why it’s one of the colour choices for the latest selection of HSVs.  From a safety perspective, a bright orange is up there behind white and yellow for visibility.  However, it’s not a good canvas for company logos, as nothing much seems to stand out on it except for black.  It’s something of a retro colour, as it was popular during the 1970s (and that’s an understatement!).

Pink:  This colour is considered to be sweet, soft and feminine, which is why it isn’t a very popular car colour.  While most women are happy enough to drive around in a red, grey, white or any other colour of vehicle, most men would rather be seen dead than driving a pink car.  Even if you’re a woman, pink cars can tend to be a bit too Barbie-doll. When it comes to cars, pink possibly stinks – to the extent that a (male) friend of mine was able to buy a second-hand magenta van super-cheap: no other commercial contractors would touch the thing.  But the van fitted all his gear and the more muted magenta carried his (white and yellow) logo reasonably well – and it certainly stood out from the ranks of white vans other contractors drove.  Bright pinks tend to be rather visible – probably on a level with yellow from a safety perspective – and it is a rather fun colour.  While this won’t be the most common colour in the world, it has potential as vehicle manufacturers tend to target women buyers more. Expect to see this on VW Beetles, small hatchbacks, convertibles and, of course, Cadillacs.