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Visit Your Overseas Car Museum From Home.

As Australia and, indeed, the globe, moves towards the sort of lifestyle once only forecast in sci-fi novels, travel restrictions make what we took for granted on a daily basis ever more harder to do. Technology, as always, provides an option or two.

Car people now have the perfect excuse to travel overseas, albeit virtually, to check out some great car museums.  Some have Virtual Reality access either from their site or a third party, others have scrollable 360 degree vision.

Germany.

Easily one of the best car museums in the world, and one on many enthusiasts’ bucket lists, the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Germany, gathers the brand’s most iconic and influential sports cars, race cars, and one very important tractor in a stunningly designed building that’s an attraction in itself. The museum’s virtual tour lets you explore the masterfully displayed collection inside and take in all the architectural beauty outside.

Also located in Stuttgart is the just-as-stunning and just-as-closed Mercedes-Benz museum. Not to be outdone by Porsche, the Museum at Mercedes-Benz has its own architecturally impressive building, as well as a massive car collection that’s presented in a dynamic and engaging way. Take the museum’s virtual tour here.  If you have a VR headset, Mercedes offers a number of 360-degree videos on its YouTube channel.

Italy.

The fabled Italian car maker, Lamborghini in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, offers a virtual tour via Google Street View. Virtually wandering through the halls may not cure the blues, but there will be plenty of other colours to see.

Ferrari has been celebrating its work in Italy and provides two access points, here and here.

The U.S.

Bowling Green, Kentucky, is hallowed ground for diehard Corvette fans. Not only is it home to the plant that builds the Corvette, but it’s also the site of the National Corvette Museum. Thanks to the magic of Google Street View, anyone can make a virtual pilgrimage to the museum. You can also take a 360-degree tour of the sinkhole that swallowed eight classic Corvettes in 2014.

The Petersen has always been a world-class car museum, but in 2015 it got a makeover to match the quality of the automotive artifacts housed inside. The renovations completely transformed the atmosphere of the museum. This Google Street View tour of the pre-renovation Petersen, however, is a nostalgic stroll through memory lane. The cars in the collection haven’t changed, though. Click here to see a list of what the museum has on exhibit, and if you’d like to peek inside the Petersen’s prized “vault,” which stores its rarest race cars, movie cars, and icons of car culture, you can still do that while the museum is closed. For $3, you can take a livestreamed hour-long digital vault tour led by collection manager Dana Williamson. Also, catch the Petersen’s series of educational livestreams it plans to broadcast throughout the duration of L.A. school closures.

If you love weird and quirky cars, then the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, is the perfect place to virtually visit. With an eclectic collection of cars that can be found here, the Lane Motor Museum is almost guaranteed to have a car you’ve never seen or heard of before. Get ready to start scratching your head and browse the collection yourself by clicking this link.

Japan.

Toyota is one of the largest automakers in the world—it even has a city named after it. So it should come as no surprise that the Japanese brand has an impressive museum. Located in Nagakute, Japan, the Toyota Automobile Museum not only tells the story of the company founded by Kiichiro Toyoda in 1937, but of the automobile itself. As such, the museum doesn’t just showcase classic Toyotas. In fact, you’ll be treated to Bugattis, Alfa Romeos, Mercedes, Fords, and much more. If you’re hankering to see some vintage Japanese sheet metal, you’ll find plenty of that, too. Take the virtual tour here.

And here is where to go for some 360 degree views. http://credit-n.ru/offers-zaim/srochnodengi-online-zaymi.html

Private Fleet Car Review: 2016 Mitsubishi Triton Exceed vs 2015 Toyota Kluger Grande.

2014 Toyota Kluger GrandeOpples and Aranges.

No, that’s not a misspelling, I’ve deliberately used opples and aranges to highlight there’s differences and similarities between the top of the tree cars, in their category, from Mitsubishi and Toyota. The Triton Exceed is the top of the range for the newly revamped dual cab ute whilst the Kluger Grande is atop the pile for that range from Toyota. 2015 Toyota Kluger Grande rearLets compare apples with oranges to see why we have an opple and arange as A Wheel Thing compares the two.

Powersource.
The Kluger range is fully petrol and suffers from economy issues. It’s a 3.5L V6 and slurps 91 RON petrol quicker than a Friday arvo tradie at the pub necks his beer. A Wheel Thing averaged 11.0L per 100 kilometres from the Grande…from 95% freeway work. That’s unforgiveable in today’s driving environment.
The Tritons are now almost exclusively diesel (there is a couple of 2.4L petrols) and it shows; at 2.4L capacity also it sat at around 8.0L/100 kilometres and was on a predominantly urban usage cycle.2016 Mitsubishi Triton Exceed engine
There’s 201 kW from the Kluger at 6200 revs, the Triton offers 133 kW at 3500. Torque from the Toyota is 337 Nm at 3700 rpm with the four door ute twisting 439 Nm at 2500 rpm. Transmissions were both self shifters, a six ratio ‘box in the Grande and a rejigged five cogger for the Mitsubishi.Kluger engine
Toyota claims, per 100 kilometres, 10.6/14.4/8.4L for combined/urban and highway from a 72 litre tank. Mitsubishi says 7.6L per 100 km on the combined cycle from a similarly sized (75L) tub.

The Suit.
The Triton hasn’t really undergone a massive overhaul; Japan’s current design philosophy is chrome and it showed, with a bright silver grille taking pride of place at the front, bisecting the slightly reprofiled headlights. 2016 Mitsubishi Triton Exceed frontThe test vehicle supplied was also kitted with a rear canopy cover and roof mounted storage, as it had been used for what all proper four wheel drive vehicles should do. It went travelling to the Simpson Desert, courtesy of a four wheel drive magazine and the toughness showed with no major squeaks or rattles, bar the passenger seat moving somewhat as the car moved around.

The rear tray looks almost unchanged bar the tail lights: in profile the top part of the assembly leans forward into the metal whilst directly from the rear the once rounded look is now an angular shape, looking most like it’d been pinched from another Japanese two/four door ute maker… there’s also a strong crease line from the headlights joining the rear, compared to the previous model’s smoothness.2016 Mitsubishi Triton Exceed profile

In overall looks it’s more of the same but newer. Dimensions say it’s a hefty unit: 5280 mm in length make it one of the longest vehicles readily available in Australia, plus 1815 mm in width and 1780 in height add to the Triton’s imposing presence. Wheelbase? Well, that’s big too, at 3000 mm…Whack in the weight of 1965 kg unladen, to boot.
To add to the visual appeal, there was sidesteps and front bar; it’s a beast and makes no apologies.2016 Mitsubishi Triton Exceed rear tray

The Kluger has been in its current guise for a while; the vehicle supplied was fresh, with about 500 klicks on the clock when picked up. It’s a big unit too, at 4865 x 1925 x 1730 mm (L x W x H) with a near 2.8 metre wheelbase (2790 mm). It weighs a bit, too, which may account for the economy, as 2065 kilos unladen doth not make a lightweight.2015 Toyota Kluger Grande profile

The profile is boxy, angular, moving away from the relatively smoother and slightly curvy previous iteration. There’s a hint of cab forward, with a shortish bonnet compared to the overall cabin length. The window line is familiar, with Camry/Aurion hints plus there’s privacy glass as well. There’s a tailgate lid spoiler and the tail light assembly has hints of Lexus. The front is bluff, upright and in the eyes of the beholder for looks…

On The Inside.
It’s here that the two cars take a stronger divergence. The Exceed needs, quite simply, more bling, whilst the Grande comes with seven seats, sunroof, DVD player (roof mounted and with cordless headphones), heated and ventilated seats, fully adjustable steering column with paddle shifters and a somewhat unusual dash styling, with a curved shape at odds with the hidey hole styling.
In between the driver and passenger sits a huge console, big enough to hide some small bottles or cans. A brushed aluminuim accent surrounds the air vents, info screen and aircon controls, whilst the tabs around the screen are basic and bare looking in black and white plastic.

The dash design, as stated, is odd; there’s a beautiful, sinuous wave shape to the binnacle, only to meet an inset for the clock at the top and a wrap around to the airbag cover, whilst below is a storage locker that simply doesn’t fit with the look of the rest. But at least there’s tech like Blind Spot Alerts to give the driver something more positive.

The Exceed benefits from an updated dash but lacks in presence. There’s the piano black surrounds for the infotainment system, push button start, machine made leather, dual zone aircon and a powered driver’s seat. The seats are better than before, with more padding and support to the hips and thorax, with both getting the standard array of airbags including one for the driver’s knee.2016 Mitsubishi Triton Exceed dash

2016 Mitsubishi Triton Exceed consoleBoth don’t suffer from room, with rear seat passengers in both able to stretch comfortably. The Kluger is a seven seater, with simple pull straps to raise the pews, whilst, normally, there’s an uncovered tub for the rear section of the Triton, but in this case it was a three windowed canopy. The tub itself is huge, with more than enough room to toss a sleeping bag and rubber mat to sleep on whilst not knocking the noggin should you sit up.Kluger rear seatsKluger cargo

The Exceed may be at the top of the ladder but to look at the cabin you wouldn’t know it. There’s a real lack of appeal visually, with nothing to catch the eye and make the statement. Not all buyers of off road capable utes with dirty the car or themselves and this really could do with a higher level of visual velcro.

On The Road.
Kluger Grande is a suburban off roader; it’ll see speedhumps and puddles way more than it will any beaches or muddy tracks. There is a 2WD version, the 4WD supplied gets a lockable centre diff. The Triton, on the other hand, is equipped with an electronic 4 wheel drive selector. Operated via a dial in the centre console and displayed on the small colour dash screen via sybols, there’s a clear indication of two wheel drive, four wheel drive and high and low ratios, plus locking centre and rear diffs for getting down and dirty off road.

The Exceed was taken to A Wheel Thing’s test track, a combination of sand, gravel, muddy ruts, rocks and undulating surfaces. To say it coped with that terrain is a huge understatement. Kluger would struggle in the same environment and it’s not a terribly difficult off road track.

The Kluger’s transmission is smooth and slurs through the ratios with barely a hiccup, but the go pedal needs a good prod to get the two plus tonnes moving at anything other than a crawl. Although the Kluger feels, seats of the pants, effortless, it’s clear the lack of lower down the rev range torque hurts. There was a hint of fuel in the tank after 490 klicks were covered; as mentioned before, virtually all driving was freeway based therefore hardly stressing the drivetrain in a suburban stop/start environment.

As one would expect, the ride and handling of the Kluger is well sorted, with minimal roll, dive and squat, plus the brakes grab well enough under most circumstances to haul its mass up. Brake pressure was suitable for the Grande, with engagement almost straight away. Steering is light for the Grande’s size, but not to the point of feeling over assisted or disassociating the driver from the road.

2015 Toyota Kluger

2015 Toyota Kluger

The Triton is big, boofy, solid in its feel on the road but definitely no ballet dancer. Even with the earth rotating torque the diesel generates, the five cogger does its best to hobble the grunt. Acceleration is moderate from standstill but rapid enough once on the run. Even under full pressure, the diesel is relatively refined, quiet and will haul the Triton along nicely.

The auto has been given an overhaul, so although a touch ancient in basic design, it’s smoother and slicker in changing. The package works well and is certainly economical enough, although one wonders how an extra ratio would go. Under hard throttle, it drops smoothly and quietly back one, two, ratios, before launching forward.

Engaging the transfer case is simple; stop, neutral, select, watch the screen…all four paws grip and the Exceed ploughs through and over nonchalantly. It’s fun, agreeable and relatively stress free.2016 Mitsubishi Triton Exceed wheel
On tarmac…the brakes need work. There’s an inch of travel before they pads bite and then not well. More than once there were some sharp breaths as the rear of the car in front arrived quicker than was safe. It was reported to the dealership that the car was sourced from, just in case.

Steering, again, is light with enough weight to talk but not leave the driver wondering where the front wheels are going, and being a rear wheel drive off road capable working ute, it’s leaf springs at twenty paces at the rear and a touch tight at that.

The Wrap.
Apples and oranges or, in this case, opples and aranges. Why? They’re the top of the range, both four wheel drive capable and have a number of similar features like push button start and satnave, leather seats, kneebags and so on. But they’re different in that one is a proper off roader whilst the other would faint at the sight of a six inch deep muddy puddle. But one offers a DVD player and a suitable interior whilst the other….doesn’t….

They’re designed for different markets, different people and therefore will have different appeal. The Triton wins on economy and true dirt ability, the Kluger wins for features but sucks badly for economy.
Consumers, it’s your call.private_fleet_logo http://credit-n.ru/offers-zaim/online-zaym-na-kartu-payps.html

BTCC 2014 Review: Bringing the Thunder to Brands Hatch

Photo Credit: BTCC.net

Photo Credit: BTCC.net

After months of excitement and anticipation, the time finally came for the first round of the 2014 Dunlop British Touring Car Championship. There was no better proving ground than the hallowed tarmac of Brands Hatch in Kent. The Indy circuit provides a sub-50 second thrash of a lap, demanding both high speed and perfect handling. It will come as no surprise (based on the monumental BTCC-based output I am prone to) that this championship has and probably will always be my favourite motor sport series. So one can only imagine my uncontrollable happiness to be first hand witness to the rebirth of a racing phoenix on the weekend of March 29th/30th.

The return of the true champions of motor sport also coincided with the new-look F1 series, with their fancy power-block-drive-train-why-is-it-not-just-called-an-engine. A week previous to the Touring Car return had seen the first race in the F1 calendar fail spectacularly to impress the general public. Since then of course, F1 has proven these new rules can work, but it is still far from convincing many. Could the full NGTC low cost, close racing Touring Cars show the big boys how to start a race season?

A blistering 31 car grid. 7 previous champions. Full NGTC outfit. Supported by an amazing BTC package including Renault Clio Cup UK, Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Formula Ford, Ginetta Junior and the Ginetta G50s, the weekend promised something special.  This was going to be good.

The BTCC grid were all fired up and ready to go. Image Credit: BTCC.net

The BTCC grid were all fired up and ready to go. Image Credit: BTCC.net

Qualifying

Before any racing got underway, there was still the issue of qualifying to get through. The word thrilling does not do justice to what I was privileged enough to witness on that Saturday. Crowd favourite Rob Austin complained about his 11th position start for the first race; usually I have no time for comments like this. This time was an exception however, considering Austin was only 0.260 seconds off the pole time. I completely understand his frustration; his car is massively competitive yet due to the clever NGTC rules, he is only 11th. In fact, of the 30 cars that turned up for the first race weekend, the top 23 all qualified within one second of each other. If that isn’t competitive then I don’t know what is. Granted, the top 5 positions were filled with the ever familiar faces of Jordan, Plato, Turkington, Neal and Shedden, but no one can deny the level of competition present in the championship this year.

As the cars lined up on the grid for the start of the first race, you could feel the magic in the air. Nobody knew what was going to happen.

As the flag dropped on the 2014 season, it was all out action from the off to the flag. Image Credit: BTCC.net

As the flag dropped on the 2014 season, it was all out action until the flag was waved. Image Credit: BTCC.net

Race Day

For those who were watching on television, the first two races may have appeared to be a continuation of form from last year. It was very much a Honda, MG and BMW affair, with Jordan taking the first two races rather comfortably. But, in the midfield the changes of position were constant and mostly all very well undertaken. It was all rather thrilling. In terms of the usual suspects, it was quite interesting to see an uncharacteristic set of problems appear for Jason Plato in the MG team, who after a podium finish in the first race, had to start the race from the back. It was fascinating to see him carving his way through the field up to 11th by the end of the race. In a post-race interview, Plato said that he did the best he could and ‘to get from last to the top 10 was basically impossible’. Considering this was the most successful touring car driver ever saying this, you must admit you would be pretty inclined to believe it.

It may have been a common occurrence to see the works Honda team fighting for the top positions, but it came as a considerable shock to many. The Yuasa Honda team had introduced their new estate Civic (the ‘Tourer’) to the surprise of many, and pre-season testing would have given the impression that they may not be as competitive straight away. Yet they come to Brands Hatch (a track they specifically mentioned would be tricky for them) and were as strong as ever. In many ways I should be happy for the Honda team that they have managed to get good performance from their new model. Yet, I find myself audibly exhaling with a hint of frustration; for the last few years the Honda team has been so utterly dominant that I was hoping for a change. And if this was their weak track, I can see them doing rather well at Donington Park next weekend. My feelings aside, well done to them, the new car may be a bit of a shock to the eyes, but it definitely works.

Plato managed to well deserved podiums over the opening 3 rounds. Image Credit: Adam Johnson

Plato managed two well deserved podiums over the opening 3 rounds. Image Credit: Adam Johnson Photography

Jordan and Plato have assumed their usual positions at the top. Is a new rivalry forming? Image Credit: BTCC.net

Jordan and Plato have assumed their usual positions at the top. Is a new rivalry forming? Image Credit: BTCC.net

The third and final race of the day has always mixed up the action somewhat, due to the reverse grid system that is used. The clever thing is that the drivers have no clue how many positions will be reversed; the number is picked out of a hat after the second race. So where once you would see drivers purposely slowing to get themselves 10th and therefore pole for race three, now nobody knows. All rather exciting really. The reverse grid greatly benefited the eBay BMW team, who began the third race with the perfect start and a formation fly into the first few laps. This began to fall apart when the limits of Nick Foster’s talent began to show. I do feel sorry for him, because he really does suffer with the ‘other driver’ syndrome. It is clear through example that he lacks the same ability as Collard and Turkington, and this was shown at Brands when he slipped from his early lead to 19th by the end of the race.

Formation flying: the eBay motors BMWs proved they have the performance to challenge for the title this year. Image Credit: BTCC.net

Formation flying: the eBay motors BMWs proved they have the performance to challenge for the title this year. Image Credit: BTCC.net

After the first round of the championship, the points totals are somewhat predictable, yet still interesting nonetheless:

  1. Andrew Jordan – 47 points
  2. Matt Neal – 45 points
  3. Colin Turkington – 44 points
  4. Gordon Shedden – 40 points
  5. Jason Plato – 38 points
  6. Rob Collard – 34 points
  7. Adam Morgan – 18 points
  8. Sam Tordoff – 17 points
  9. Nick Foster – 16 points
  10. Rob Austin – 16 points

The old flames may be dominating the top of the table, but the first round at Brands Hatch did definitely raise some interesting talking points that may change the course of the championship over the year.

Talking Points from Brands Hatch

Towards the rear…

I often find that with many motor sport series that some of the best talking points come from those who occupy the back of the grid. The 2014 BTCC season appears to be no different. There are some towards the back who I believe are only there because they have not yet had the development or experience to challenge the top end. One example of this is the wonderfully named Simon Belcher in the Toyota Avensis; he may have occupied the back of the pack most of the weekend but his lap times were plummeting. I suspect he may be reaching the high mid-pack and maybe even a top 10 by the end of the year. And then of course there is United Autosports who have their fingers in many a motor sport pie (usually GT based series); they have now decided to enter the BTCC with James Cole and Glynn Geddie. Given their previous successes, after a few races and further work they will be much further up the grid. It will be nice to see a fellow Glynn on the podium!

Someone else I definitely had my eye on was the sole American entry Robb Holland in his Audi S3 saloon. Not only does he have one of the best personalities in the field, but I foresee a great future for him. If he follows the path of the Rob, like Austin before him, he will soon be sticking it to the big boys. Same goes for the young Jack Clarke in the Crabbies racing Ford; he may not follow the path of the Rob, but I just cannot wait to see a car sponsored by alcoholic ginger beer at the front.

The American Robb Holland may follow his fellow Rob (Austin) into greatness. Image Credit: Adam Johnson Photography

The American Robb Holland may follow his fellow Rob (Austin) into greatness. Image Credit: Adam Johnson Photography

Ollie Jackson and 'The Man Who Beat Button' (Marc Hynes) were both unimpressive at Brands, but hey its only the first round. Image Credit: BTCC.net

Ollie Jackson and ‘The Man Who Beat Button’ (Marc Hynes) were both unimpressive at Brands. In the case of Jackson he seemed to enjoy being a flamethrower most of the time so I shall let him off, but hey its only the first round. Image Credit: BTCC.net

As much as I reward greatness in eternal praise through words, I also rather enjoy a bit of naming and shaming. Two names stand out more than any other; the first of these being Marc Hynes, or should I say ‘The Man Who Beat Button’. Ever since he was a confirmed entry to this years championship, he has only been referred to as the man who beat Jenson Button to the F3 championship many moons ago. Considering his wildly amazing reputation (he is also a driver trainer for the Marussia F1 team), I was expecting him to be the next Gabrielle Tarquini and storm the championship and blow everyone away on his first attempt. He may be ‘The Man Who Beat Button’, but over the weekend it seemed that he was more ‘The Man Who Was Beaten By Everyone’. If it wasn’t for the fact he had received so much hype I wouldn’t be so critical, but his performance was the ultimate characterization of exhaustive disappointment. His crowning moment was undoubtedly his destruction of the ever ridiculous Martin Depper.

I almost feel sorry for Martin Depper; as the team mate to the mighty Andrew Jordan he was rather embarrassing to watch. He was disqualified in race one, and then failed to finish both race two and race three. It takes a special kind of fail to manage that, especially with a team that is a proven race AND championship winner. He appeared to lack any form of pace or potential. He has gone from being ‘the other one’ in the Pirtek team to nothing but a slow and deep exhale, laced in exhaustion and derision.

The bottom bread in the Pirtek sandwich, Jordan leading and Depper far, far down at the back. Image Credit: BTCC.net

The bottom bread in the Pirtek sandwich, Jordan leading and Depper far, far down at the back. Image Credit: BTCC.net

The Shining Lights of the BTCC

At the other end of the scale, there were of course those who massively impressed across the weekend. The first of these is Tom Ingram, in the Speedworks Avensis. Ingram is a 3-time winner of the BTC support Ginetta G50 championship, and in his debut race weekend in the BTCC, he blew me away. He qualified sixth, and put in strong performances across the weekend. If he is not a race winner by the end of the year, then I will be the next Prime Minister of the UK. Sadly however, following two superb top 10 finishes, in race 3 he had an unfortunate coming together with Alain Menu which prematurely ended his race. I take my hat off to the Speedworks Team, they have done a fantastic job this year and they could not have chosen a better driver to lead their charge to glory.

The car hitting the wall, is a Toyota! Ingram suffered an unfortunate crash in race 3. Image Credit: BTCC.net

The car hitting the wall, is a Toyota! Ingram suffered an unfortunate crash in race 3. Image Credit: BTCC.net

Rob Austin, the ultimate fan favourite among the current generation of touring car drivers certainly did not disappoint at Brands Hatch over the weekend. He finished a stunning 5th in the first race, proving he had lost none of his skill and talent from last year. Sadly, a mechanical problem ruled him out of race two, meaning he started from the back for race three. Now, do you remember that Plato had said it was impossible to get from the back to a top 10 finish was impossible? (Do remember that he was driving a factory MG). The flying Austin managed to get from last to 11th, and was mere meters away from 10th. If Austin was not marred by crippling bad luck, he would most definitely be a champion. If him and his Sherman continue on this upward trend, they will soon take final victory they deserve.

Similarly, I was blown away by the WIX racing Mercedes of Adam Morgan; mot only does it look spectacular but Mr Morgan knows how to drive that machine well. He put in consistent performances across the weekend and was constantly competitive. He will earn himself a few race wins this year, that I am sure of.

Rob Austin and the amazing Sherman (his new Exocet Audi) were stunning at Brands. Image Credit: BTCC.net

The Power of the Four Rings. Rob Austin and the amazing Sherman (his new Exocet Audi) were stunning at Brands. Image Credit: BTCC.net

Team BMR (Brilliant Motor Racing)

In my humble yet passionate opinion, the team that impressed me most over the course of the first three rounds was team BMR. Warren Scott, Aron Smith and Alain Menu definitely thrust themselves into the limelight. Scott and Smith proved that the BMR boys know exactly how to make a race car that works both aggressively and consistently. The return of Alain Menu to the sport that made his name was one of the most exciting things to come out of the close season, and unlike ‘The Man Who Beat Button’ and Giovanardi in some respects, he categorically lived up to the reputation and expectation that preceeded him. Where Giovanardi (a former champion of the 00’s) struggled to find pace and performance, Menu returned to ultimate driver mode.

He may have suffered a spin at the first corner of the first race, and then struggled on the option tyres in race two, but race 3 changed that. He had made his way from the back of the grid to 17th in race two, but race three saw him blister his way up to 5th overall, defeating names such as Giovanardi and Flash Gordon in the works Honda. Having the chance to watch the return of a true legend to the BTCC at my favourite track was the perfect mix of excitement, worry, thrills, drama and general joy. Menu joins the BTCC from the WTCC, which saw one of the worst displays of touring car racing recently in Morocco. If this form continues, and with a little more development and experience, I would not be surprised to see Menu challenging for the title either this year or next year. With a cheeky wink and the love-able self confidence, this is exactly why Alain Menu is the ultimate touring car driver in my eyes.

Team BMR will soon reign after their great show. Image Credit: BTCC.net

Team BMR will soon reign after their great show. Image Credit: BTCC.net

And so, I can say without any shadow of a doubt that the BTCC is back and better than ever. It is such a shame that the WTCC has the ‘world’ status considering the shambolic race weekend that was had. Ultimate touring cars? After what I witnessed at Brands Hatch, it is clear that the BTCC should once again reign as THE international touring car championship. In a field of 30 cars, all of whom are improving by the race, who knows what will happen this year. Hard, thrilling and exciting races.

For full results from Brands Hatch, please visit: http://www.btcc.net/results/

The next round at Donington is fast approaching. This year will be something special.

Can the titans be toppled? Will we see the rise of a new star? Will a blast from the past steal ultimate victory?

Only time will tell…

Photo Credit: BTCC.net

Photo Credit: BTCC.net

Follow me on Twitter @lewisglynn69

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love!

 

  http://credit-n.ru/offers-zaim/vashi-dengi-zaim.html

Insanity Highway: More Madness in Motorsport

Many of my posts can be quite high on the old word count, but this one I will keep short and sweet. I have been yet again delving into recent news and I have come across some rather curious updates from the motor sport world. It has come to my attention that some individuals have started down a dangerous path. They have ignored the road signs for logic, level headedness and maintaining the essence of motor sport and turned onto ‘Insanity Highway’ which passes through the city of Cockyville and descends into the famous Slam-Your-Head-Against-A-Wall tunnel.

The first of these pieces of new comes from Formula One, which is just my utter favourite form of motor sport ever… Yes…Really… Anyway, news has reached my ears that the governing body of F1 have announced that the final round of the motor sport will offer double points in the championship. One can only imagine that it is an attempt by the sport to stop the domination that has been the case by Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel and bring back the competitive aspect. What a great idea, I mean while they’re at it why don’t they make in mandatory for all drivers during pit stops to jump out the car, perform the macarena while reciting a monologue from Shakespeare. I am sorry but it just seems completely and utterly ridiculous to me. Has the sport really got to this point where they are having to try and force competition and good television. Next they might even try to extract blood from a stone. It would be just as stupid as the final round of any league based sport offering double points. It is no different to any of the other rounds. And as many of the drivers have pointed out, it is punishing the drivers who have done well across the season.

I am aware that other regulation changes are to be made. But seriously, if you want to make the sport more competitive, you need to address it at the basic level. If you want the sport to be a commercial success, maybe it is time to bring about changes to this massive focus on tyres, fuel and general pit strategy. If you want to make F1 more entertaining to watch, one must address the racing itself and look at ways to make EACH ROUND more competitive.

Some suggestions could be to introduce a reverse grid start to some rounds, while also offering points for qualifying to save drivers setting purposely bad times to make sure they remain at the front of the grid. On top of that, the reverse grid can be random and chosen only on race day to add an element of unknown. Further suggestions would be appreciated!

And now to move on…

The BTCC used to be one of the worlds top touring car championships. And then with the regulation changes in the early 00s the sport came tumbling down into terrible-ness. And over the last few years it has found itself recovering, with the number of entrants increasing by the year, and the racing getting closer. However, one of the massive problems that is still plaguing the sport is the lack of manufacturers. The manufacturers that are there are clearly have a much larger budget and better technology, as has been seen by the last season dictatorship by Honda and MG. This brings me onto the news that I have discovered. The Honda team have announced their 2014 car. And well… there is not really any other way I can say this so just have a look at the picture for yourself..

The new Honda for the 2014 BTCC Season...

The new Honda for the 2014 BTCC Season…

Your eyes are not deceiving you. That is indeed a Honda Civic Estate that has greeted your vision. It is an insult to my eyes. If my eyes could throw up, now may be the time that it will happen. The Honda team have said that they wanted to add a new challenge into the mix in next years championship. Is it just me or is that statement just filled with blood curdling arrogance? Honda have been the Red Bull of the BTCC for the last few years. They know too well that they are the dominant team and it would seem that it is now getting to their heads a little bit. I really do hope that the team suffers next year and it gives chances to other teams to compete for the title. Chances are this will just hand MG the title on a plate. This move by the Honda team might imply a sense of hierarchy in the BTCC, which may break apart the lovely family feel of the sport.

Come on Honda. Don’t become THAT GUY.

Until next time my lovely readers,

If you have any comments please feel free to contact me on Twitter @lewisglynn69

Keep Driving People!

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Driving with Dad

I am not usually someone to point out the obvious, but there are times where necessity overrides my nature. Driving is one of the great pleasures of the modern age. Nothing compares to the liberation and joy we feel behind the wheel of our very own dream machine. We may not realise it, but driving gives us all a surge of confidence. We have the control. We have the power. We own the road.

…well I thought I did. When I am behind the wheel, I am the Lord of my machine. Until of course, the form that materialises in the passenger seat is that of my dad.

It would only now seem fair that I provide some context to this seemingly confusing statement. At the end of the day, this is either a problem suffered by us all, or it may just be me living in my own world of eccentric dazzlement. First, it is time to take a holiday into the dark depths of the past.

When I was a young lad, my father defined what life was for me. As with any child, he was my dad, friend, hero, you know, all that classic cheesy stuff. One of the most important things however was the fact that he was my ticket to the rest of the world. Wherever I needed to go, he was my ride. He was my taxi driver, my fountain of driving knowledge, and of course my ride home. As much as I have always been an independent little so and so, there were times when a bus just would not cut it.

When the ripe old age of 17 came and slapped me in my confused little face, the time had come for me to learn to drive. But that is another story. A year later I had my own license and very quickly, my own car. And with that, my dad’s services were no longer needed. It was at this time that everything began to change. A deep grumble in the very fabric of my family. A power shift turned everything I once knew on its head.

The worst part was how it crept up on me. My innocence shattered forever. Suddenly he asked me for a lift. Everything I once knew had changed forever.

The only way I can attempt to explain just how terrifying this felt is by means of a comparison. Let us just take a second. Imagine if you will your ultimate music hero. Whether it is your Beatles, your Queen or your Rolling Stones does not matter. But imagine if you will performing for them. The very thought of that sends a pang of terror to my bones. And driving my dad absolutely anywhere is that exact same feeling.

I would like to think that 99.9% of the time that I am actually a very good driver. But as soon as my dad sits down next to me in my car, I turn into a pile of brain dead bone and tissue. There was one time where I literally forgot how to drive for a good few minutes. How he did not notice I will never quite know. But for that I am massively grateful.

…yet here I am writing this very blog with the full knowledge that he will get to reading this. I really did not think this through at all now did I?

Driver

I really wish I could explain it. But there is something about driving a man who I respect so much that does bring the nerves in the truck load. I have been having to do this now for around 4 years and even now I still struggle to keep my cool. There are times when my dad does actually compliment my driving, but even so I still feel that he is just being nice.

I really hope that it is not just me who has these feelings. Where better to share my thoughts than somewhere as great as Private Fleet.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any thoughts!

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Private Fleet 2013 Driving Survey

2013 Private Fleet Driving Survey

Following on from the success of our previous driving surveys, Private Fleet has once again quizzed Australian drivers from across the country to get a real sense of the current issues motorists are experiencing.

Traffic Jam

Some 3500 respondents participated in the anonymous survey- which identifies participants by gender, state, income, car and driving history- and the results are enlightening; some adding strength to old adages, others shattering them into oblivion. For example:

Money doesn’t buy happiness: Respondents earning over $200,000 per year are 60 per cent more likely to get angry behind the wheel than those on under $40,000.

Texting and driving: 58 per cent of 26-40 year olds admit to texting while driving, making them more likely to offend than the 18-25 bracket (51 per cent). Only 2 per cent of those over 75 years of age text and drive.

At-fault accidents: While 35 per cent of respondents reported an accident in the last three years, only 17 per cent admitted fault for a minor incident…that number dropped to only 4 per cent when admitting fault in a serious accident where police were called.

Women Drivers: Sorry ladies, after carefully analysing 2403 responses from men and 988 responses from women, it appears that women are actually around 40% more likely to be involved in an accident per kilometre driven.

Additionally some 1980 respondents added commentary on the standards of driving in Australia and our worst offenders. From Holden drivers’ aggression through to ‘distracted’ P-Platers, through to the age-old argument of undertaking versus those hogging the right lane, the comments have sparked no end of debate.

The true beauty of the Private Fleet Driving Survey lies in its interactivity. We invite you to peruse the results yourself, combine them how you want and create your own conclusions…with around 55 million possible combinations, we are sure there are many intriguing results to be discovered, so make sure you share your findings!

 

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The best Australian cars

Over the years, both in print and on-line, many a discussion has been generated around Australia’s worst cars. But with the Aussie car industry on its knees, I thought it was time to introduce some positivity to our home-grown motoring story, and ask our readers: What are your favourite Australian cars?

Xy Ford Falcon

 

From the advent of the first Holdens in the 1940s through to today, there have been some wonderful Aussie cars, designed locally for local conditions. There were hardships of course, particularly in those early years where the content was largely inspired by America; indeed, early Falcons were positively flimsy and could simply fall apart, until Ford got serious with the legendary XP’s Aussie development program.

Leyland P76

Personally, my list of solid Aussies includes what is generally perceived as a lemon: the Leyland P76. With its light, all-alloy V8, big body and nice ride, I think the concept was right; it’s just a pity the execution (and subsequent reliability jibes) hampered its sales.

Of course, the massively successful HQ-series Holden (485.650 produced) personifies what Aussies (used) to want in a car; space, robustness, power and a semblance of style.

I also love the American-influenced ‘muscle car’ era, back when racing at Bathurst in production-based cars was actually beneficial to sales. Think Ford Falcon XY GT-HO, Chrysler Charger R/T E49 and Holden Torana A9X.

Ford EcoBoost Falcon

Of later machinery, the Falcon EcoBoost was an on-trend alternative for modern times, retaining the sense of size, power and reliability that the best Aussie cars have but combining it with ultra-modern mechanicals which provide that power with economy. It’s a great drive, too…it’s just a pity that Ford didn’t have the marketing capability to really sell the product.

We could argue forever about why we no longer buy Australian (fuel costs affecting fleet sales, extra competitive market, lack of investment/’feel’ for the market…the list goes on) but let’s instead try and gain inspiration from the past: What are some of your favourites? http://credit-n.ru/offers-zaim/ekapusta-besplatniy-zaim.html

Targa: Showcasing Tasmania

I have just returned from Tasmania, host of what is billed as ‘The World’s Ultimate Tarmac Rally’- Targa Tasmania.

In its 22nd year, the ‘Targa’ takes in roads across the breadth of The Apple Isle, over six days of intense competition. There was an eclectic mix of cars, with around 220 entries in this year’s instalment ranging from $500,000-plus Lamborghinis to a 1938 Dodge, the oldest vehicle in the event.

White Lambo

As much as it’s about the cars, Targa Tasmania does something else very well: It involves remote communities. Driving into George Town, I could see kids rushing from their school playground to the fence line as the competitors drove past. There was smiling, cheering, waving…some had even made signs up to support their favourite car or driver.

After the George Town stage, cars and crews assembled in the coastal town’s centre, where spectators thronged, music played and food was served. The camaraderie, not only between crews and crowds, but between rival crews themselves, is what sets this event apart.

In recent years the route has taken competitors for a second day of stages on the remote west coast. The stunning sea-side town of Strahan hosts the crews, and is overflowed with personality. It’s wonderful tourism for Strahan and the surrounding regions, which struggle to sustain themselves given their vast distance from major town centres.

While in Strahan it was sad to hear news of the Wilderness Railway possibly being closed down, simply via a lack of profitability. Sad, because its route reveals scenery so breath-taking in parts that it could rival anything in New Zealand or Switzerland.

Heading out towards Lake St. Clair on Targa’s final day, I was awe-struck by the perfect tranquillity of the landscape between the old mining centre of Queenstown and Derwent Bridge (seriously, try the steak at the pub). The barrenness of Queenstown is quickly replaced by deep, clear lakes, imposing mountain ranges and thick, lush forest, with 360 degree views interrupted only by birdsong. It’s truly idyllic; I haven’t been so moved by Planet Earth since I saw Lake Como in Italy, and it’s lucky that the most beautiful sections are not part of the closed road sections of Targa…as I’d bet someone would end up driving clean into a lake.

It’s an epic undertaking but if you can manage the logistics and love the outdoors, the west coast of Tassie- indeed, pretty much Tassie in general- is a wonderful place for a driving holiday. http://credit-n.ru/offers-zaim/platiza-mgnovenniy-zaim-online.html

Are Motor Shows still relevant in Australia?

This week we were informed that the Australian International Motor Show (AIMS), scheduled for Melbourne in June this year, has been cancelled.

AIMS Event Director, Russ Tyrie, said: “We have made the decision to not proceed with this year’s Show based on a consensus view of the Automotive Industry to focus limited marketing budgets in 2013 on firm specific activities rather than an industry based Motor Show.

“In not proceeding with the Show in 2013, Australia is following a global trend that has been apparent for several years, where cities do not always have a Motor Show. This trend is evident in the recent suspension of Motor Shows in London, Zagreb and Amsterdam,” Tyrie continued.

In 2009, a joint venture was formed between the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries- organisers of the Sydney Motor Show- and the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce who co-ordinated the Melbourne show.

Their agreement saw a shared arrangement where each city would share AIMS responsibilities, hosting the show on alternating years. The venture sought to ensure enough manufacturer and public interest in Australian shows rather than competing for attendance and revenue each year.

Ford EcoBoost display at the 2011 AIMS

Now, with manufacturers moving towards different areas of promotion (for example, associating with major events like BMW at the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival or sponsoring a sporting team like Renault has the Port Adelaide Football Club) the question needs to be asked: Is the Australian Motor Show on the verge of extinction?

The AIMS organisers have been adamant that they will return in 2014, but with a new focus on the Asia-Pacific region. This bodes well, and I for one hope they return with a vengeance, but several challenges lie in the way. For one, our population is not big enough to truly justify a massive brand presence, the like of which is seen at Tokyo, Geneva or New York. Related is the sheer distance we lie away from the global manufacturer bases. Big European brands are particularly limited by time and budget constraints, putting the clamps on just what they can do with their local promotional opportunities.

Also shifting are the public’s perceptions, and that’s where you come in. With the multitude of information available online augmenting traditional print channels, do you still feel a need to attend a motor show physically? Does the motor show model remain a worthwhile manufacturer showcase? Would you still prefer to attend a show when looking for a new car, or is it easier to research online?

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Link to Private Fleet and win a $25 gift card!

Since commencing 1999, Private Fleet has grown from a two-person operation to a business which employs over 40 staff. This expansion could not have been achieved without the positive feedback and word-of-mouth generated by our wonderful clients.

So, do you love the Private Fleet service, whether you ended up buying through us or not?  Do you own a blog or post on automotive or other online forums?  Then please link to our homepage (www.privatefleet.com.au) from another website and briefly share your experience with others.  As a thank-you for spreading the word we’ll send you a $25 Myer gift card, posted directly to your address. It’s that easy!

Simply send us your name, address, email and a contact number along with a copy of the link’s location and we’ll look after the rest.  Send it to ‘newsletter [at] privatefleet.com.au’

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Exceptions/T’s and C’s

  • Sorry we can’t reward Facebook links in this manner.  However stay tuned for a new social media campaign!
  • Links must be direct to the site.  No funny popups, javascript or redirects
  • If you’re not sure, let us know first what you’re thinking about

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