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Archive for June, 2012

I want my car back! A legal stoush to end all legal stouches.

Now here’s a bonanza for lawyers.

Let’s have a quick look at the sequence of events that a couple of teams (at least) of international lawyers will be salivating over:-

1. A German is imprisoned at the end of World War Two.

2. American army impounds his car.

3. Car dispappears from view for many years and is bought years later by a Dutchman through a highly reputable US auction house.

4. Dutchman, thrilled with his new acquisition, proudly displays his car at a German Auto show.

So far so good,except, here’s the car:-

It’s no ordinary car. In fact it’s an extremely rare-and extremely expensive Mercedes 500K Spezial Roadster that the current owner paid $4m for recently. Here’s the story. The car has been around as a collectors item for the cognocenti for about 40 years, and nobody knew its wartime history. The car was originally owned by a German industrialist by the name of Hans Prym, who was understandably very annoyed indeed when he got out of jail to find the American Army had taken his car. He was unable to trace it, so gave it up as a lost cause. However his descendants didn’t give up. His 84 year old daughter actually now lives in the USA, but could do nothing until the car was in Germany. Now a German court has seized it from the unfortunate owner and the Prym family lawyers are preparing a claim for repatriation.

You can imagine the stoush that will ensue over two continents and two ‘owners’ let alone the auction house, previous owners and the US army!

Kids And Long Car Trips

We motoring enthusiasts choose our cars for comfort and when it comes time to go on holiday, whether it’s for a long weekend or for a getaway of a week or more, we prefer to take our cars. Load up the family, pack all the gear into the boot, hitch up the caravan and off we go! Now, a long-haul road trip is usually plenty of fun for the driver and those who can appreciate the changing scenery, but what about the younger members of the family? If you fail to keep them amused, eruptions in the back seat are inevitable – which doesn’t make for a very relaxing trip. So what can you do to prevent World War III from breaking out behind you?


For a start, you can position the potential combatants strategically. If you only have two kids and you have an averaged sized sedan such as a Honda Accord, you can stow something in the middle seat to act as a barrier (the esky is a good choice). The barrier can be used as a table for drawing or even for playing cards, but also stops the stupid game that involves squashing one’s sibling when going around a corner or the squabble involving He/She Is Poking Me And Hitting Me. This gets a bit harder with three kids in a sedan, for obvious reasons. If you have a larger MPV with three rows of seats such as a Honda Odyssey or a Mitsubishi Grandis (or a van or a large seven-seater 4×4 or SUV such as a Volvo XC90), you can space the kids out even more and/or put them right at the back where you can’t hear the bickering as much so it won’t drive you nuts. If you are the typical family with mum, dad, three kids and a Toyota Corolla, then allow plenty of breaks and rotate seats – put the non-driving parent between combatants from time to time if this is the only way to preserve peace.


But no matter where you put them, children are less likely to fight and grumble if they are entertained. Vehicles that have a rear seat DVD player are a modern solution; the older method was to hand out books and magazines. While these work a treat on straight roads, they are not so good if the road starts to wind, because if a child – or a non-driving adult – stares at something fixed rather than out the window, they are more likely to get carsick. This is where games like I Spy and audio books are useful, especially the audio books. It is possible to read while on a winding road without getting carsick – you make use of your peripheral vision to keep your brain informed of the movement around you – but this has to be learned. Possibly, the non-driving adult who has learned the trick can read aloud instead of playing an audio book.


Of course, no matter how much you like driving, you’re going to have to stop and have a leg-stretch every so often. The experts tell us that we should be doing this anyway, whether we have kids in the back or not, just so we don’t get fatigued. It’s especially important with kids, who need to burn off energy and get more fractious after long periods of sitting still. They also have smaller bladders, and you don’t really want the upholstery getting unpleasant stains if someone can’t quite hold on that long. Plan your breaks and take advantage of lookouts, short walks, picnic areas and the like. You’re on holiday, after all!

Motor Oils Explained

The cheapest part you will ever put in your car is a quart or litre of motor oil. That motor oil will protect your engine against frictional wear, it will neutralize acid build up (a natural byproduct of internal combustion is sulfuric acid), it will suppress corrosion and it helps cool the power-plant. The additive package in motor oils also contains dispersants, detergents, anti-wear agents, viscosity modifiers, anti-foaming agents and pour-point depressants. The latter will allow the oil to pour at very cold temperatures.

Modern engines, transmissions and differentials require modern lubricants to keep them healthy. Think of motor oils, transmission fluids and gear oils as the lifeblood of your vehicle. As the mechanical technology in motor vehicles has increased, so has the need for oils engineered to perform in these technological marvels. The proper selection of a motor oil will keep an engine working properly for many years of service.

Lubricant specifications and performance parameters are enumerated by: the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), who established the viscosity requirements; the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the International Standardisation and Advisory Committee (ISAC), who established the service classifications. There is also the Association des Constructeurs European d’Automobiles, which parallels the standards established by the API and ISAC, but mainly for engines of European manufacture.

Don’t be confused by all the initials and oil classifications. Every time there are improvements made to engines, there are also improvements made in the lubricants that protect them. The current motor oil service classifications will protect all current and previous year model vehicles. There are separate classifications for spark and compression ignition engines; gasoline or diesel fueled, but most oils are classified as a multiple use and are appropriate for either type of engine.

Viscosity is the measurement of the internal resistance to flow of any fluid; the higher the viscosity number, the greater the resistance to flow. For warm weather motoring, motor oils with a 30 or 40 viscosity rating are selected. For cold weather driving the viscosity rating should be 10 or 20. The advent of multiple viscosity oil has precluded the need to change the oil in the event of a drastic temperature change. An oil with a viscosity rating of 10-30 means that it operates at low temperatures as a 10 viscosity and when the engine is warmed up and operating at higher temperatures, the oil performs as a 30 viscosity.

Another measurement of a motor oil is the Total Base Number (TBN). Oils are formulated with an alkaline reserve to neutralize acids. When the TBN has dropped to half the original number, the oil should be changed. This usually coincides with depletion of the other additives and will vary in traveled mileage from between 3,000 and 10,000 miles or more. The type of use the vehicle gets determines when the oil should be changed; much stop-and-go driving means change the oil sooner, long highway miles extend the service interval. It doesn’t hurt the engine to change the oil more frequently than necessary. Remember the opening statement of this article.

Parking can be such a pain

Reverse parking is one of the trickiest manouvres for anybody, some just can’t do it, like this driver.

Yet for some it’s just a breeze.

One of these set a new Guinness Book of Records parallel parking distance. Guess which one!!

The F-word in fashion, making millions.

The F-word we’re referring to is “Ferrari”.

Somehow World financial crises and confidence worries have by-passed the Ferrari name.

A new World record for a sale of a car was set last month for this Ferrari 250 GTO built in 1952 for Sir Stirling Moss. It is reported to have been sold for a massive $35 million dollars. That eclipses the previous record that was held by a Bugatti Atlantic (though unsubstantiated).

But this is only a follower of fashion with some remarkable sales of Ferraris reported over the last few months.

A Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa was sold a couple of months ago for $25m., then another 250 GTO (rather common aren’t they?) sold for a price approaching $30m. Apparently around eight classic and collectable Ferraris have sold over the last few weeks for around $135 million. GFC-what GFC?

The new World record holder, an American by the name of Craig McCaw, can seemingly afford it. He was the co-founder of McCaw Cellular that was sold for $US11.5 billion nearly 20 years ago. So the interest on that alone would have probably bought him his car 100 times over.

OK, OK, perhaps the pic we chose for the story doesn’t do justice to $35m. We didn’t cheat, it is an actual picture of the car, but the buyer may prefer the one below? Even so, would you part with that much money for it?

Candid Camera View Of Police Bogged Down

Police are avid users of cameras, but here’s some camera evidence  in reverse!

A police car got bogged down in a Sydney sand dune some little while ago, and the driver had some trouble getting extracated, despite plenty of help from the public (and that wouldn’t happen in many places in the World).

But one member of the public had a video camera that recorded the event for posterity and police red faces.

Gotta say though, that though the cops were aware of filming, they took it in good heart- good on ’em!