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Archive for April, 2012

Your Worst Car.

Surveys have shown that modern cars are so much better than their predecessors. But there have been some real ‘lemons’ in the past.

So what was the worst car you’ve ever owned?

Well, let me get the ball rolling…

I took delivery of a brand new company car- a Holden Station Wagon a few decades ago. That was in September. In December we planned a family trip in the new car to Adelaide.

We set off very early in the morning and had no sooner started the climb through the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, when I noticed the temperature guage creeping up.. So I backed off a bit, turned off the aircon and hoped for the best. It settled down well enough to feel a bit more confident, but, as we progressed across the Hay Plains the day warmed up, as did the car, and as did the motor! It finally gave up the ghost in the middle of nowhere, and with two small kids on board. We arranged a tow truck to the nearest town about 60kms away and arrived at the local Holden dealer.

In their defence, if it had been virtually any other make we would have been stuck there, but not Holden. They fitted a new radiator and thermostat and we were on our way a couple of hours later. But that was just the start of our love/hate relationship with our Kingswood. When it was going, it was great, but clearly it had been a ‘Friday’ car, so didn’t go for long until it was back in the workshop. I’ve had a few more Holdens since then, and they’ve all been good, but that was the first – and not a good introduction to the brand.

So what was your worst car? We want to hear from you and we have a brand new TomTom ‘Live’ sat/nav to give away for the best story. Entries close 5th May, so let’s hear from you now and we’ll add your story to the blog. Just click below and tell us your tale.

April Fools Fun

There’s certainly a raging sense of humour in the automotive industry if manufacturers’ efforts to fool the public on April 1st are anything to go by.

We’ve come across some brilliant and rather extravagant dupes from around the world that fooled thousands of gullible viewers.

Let’s start off with Peugeot from the UK. They produced a news story on their RCZ sports car, where they claimed to have developed a ‘mood paint’. The car, we are told, changes colour to suit our moods. Sounds sensational, doesn’t it? But then suspicion kicks in when the presenter is a very professional young lady by the name of ‘Flora Polis’ (anagram experts take note). Anyway let’s hear what April Fool..sorry, Flora Polis  has to say here.

Almost believable? Well, it certainly duped a lot of people, but Subaru were not to be outflanked when they announced the World’s first self-cleaning car on April 1st here.

Perhaps the most elaborate of all was the collaboration between Google and Nascar. Nascar are American oval racers and the most popular form of motor sport in the USA. Google we all know about. But many don’t know about the Google Driverless car. However, put the two together and this is what you get.

Glad to see that a sense of humour is alive and kicking, eh? So which do you think is the best, the funniest, or the most convincing? Do you have any April Fool japes to share with us?

When Bigger Is Better

OK, there’s been a lot written about small cars with small engines and how they can save you wads and wads of dollars because they use less petrol.  And there certainly are some thrifty little numbers out there, plus some amazing hybrids that are easy on the environment and on the fuel.  You might even wonder if the days of big cars with big engines are numbered.  Will we still see the likes of Land Rover and the Mitsubishi Pajero, not to mention all the big-engined Ford and Holden utes and stationwagons in years to come?

Yes, we will, and we’ll probably see some new numbers, too.  There are times when a small hatchback just won’t do, no matter how frugal it is.  So when is bigger better?

1              When you do a lot of towing.  Small engines just can’t cope with the hard work involved with towing heavy loads and if you try to lug something around, the motor is going to work so hard that it’s not going to be particularly frugal, and it will probably add a bit to the old wear and tear.  Truck companies know this, and realise that you don’t send your smallest unit out to tow a road-train, as this isn’t the most fuel-efficient way to do things.  While your average little Suzuki or Peugeot will probably handle a trip to the garbage dump – oops, make that the recycling and waste recovery station – and can probably take a three-piece lounge suite across town if you’re helping a mate shift house, if you tow a big trailer on a regular basis, it makes better sense to get a bigger vehicle that can handle the harder work.  This applies to owners of boats and horse trailers, and also to contractors.

2              When you have a big family.  And these days, “big” means three children or more, or two children plus a dog.  OK, you can cram three kids and two parents – just – into a Nissan Micra but it will be a squeeze, especially if you add in school bags or the shopping.  Double the squeeze if the kids are teenagers.  You might save on petrol but you’ll probably drive everyone bonkers instead.  If you really are pinched for cash and are trying to save petrol, there are some frugal sedans out there that will save you getting frazzled (which can potentially cause accidents) by the continual “Get your elbow out of my guts, you idiot!  You just trod on my foot.  I’m telling! Ouch!  Muuuuuuum, he hit me!”

3              If your work requires you to take stuff around with you.  If you are a contractor, as mentioned above, you probably want something that can tow a trailer on a regular basis, but you probably also want something that you can store gear in so light-fingered passers-by don’t help themselves to your paintbrushes, weed trimmers and hammers.  Utes and 4x4s are classic favourites for contractors, along with vans, and there are plenty to choose from.  Sales reps, providers of mobile services (e.g. hairdressing, dog grooming and cleaning) and even childcare workers often have to take lots of bits and pieces with them.  It’s more convenient to you and to any passengers you have to take (and we all take them from time to time, whether our work is suitable for car pooling or not) if you don’t have to shift your boxes of whatever, a diary, an invoice book and twenty biros off the passenger seat.  Something with a generous boot or a stationwagon is likely to be the best bet here.

4              If you actually need to go fast at times and need the extra oomph.  You will still need to be legal, but if your work often means that you have to go against the clock or else (midwives, for example, especially those specialising in home births) then having a bit of grunt for when it’s needed is always reassuring.  Or keep an eye out for a small engine with a lot of grunt – they are out there.