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A Moment of Silence

Holden HSV

Over the last decade there have been a few car manufacturers who have pulled out of selling cars in Australia.  But, as those leave, there have also been numerous new marques who have arrived on the scene, which is great to see.  Let’s not forget the old faithful marques, who are the manufacturers like Toyota, Honda, BMW and Porsche who have been selling cars in Australia for three decades or more.  So what’s changed over the last ten years?

Over this last decade we have had to say goodbye to Holden – perhaps the saddest exit.  The company was founded in 1856 as a saddlery manufacturer in South Australia, only to be wound up over the last year or so.  The Holden roots in Australia have run very deep.

Chery made its arrival in 2011 and stuck around for a few beers and was off again in 2016.  Chery once sold Australia’s cheapest new car for under $10k.

During the last decade, Dodge wrapped things up as well, though we still see the RAM logo in the form of the RAM Trucks that are sold new in Australia.  A RAM Truck is the king of the Ute/light truck world.

Equally as sad, for some, as the vanishing of Holden has been the cessation of the awesome line of HSV (Holden Special Vehicles) and FPV (Ford Performance Vehicles) muscle cars.  Oh how things change when people get a whiff of the climate change spin and big money opportunities with such amazing “clean” vehicles like EVs.

One luxury marque that made a brief appearance was Infiniti.  Only recently, we’ve waved goodbye to this very classy and elegant line of cars that for some reason struggled to make their way into a buyer population who were stayed in their buying habits.  Some of the Infiniti cars were seriously quick, had unique style and were reliable and comfortable.

2012 saw Opel opening many showrooms across Australia.  The new Opel Astra and Opel Insignia cars were quite stylish cars, though they only managed a few sales.  They too had a few beers and then folded up a year or two later.

Proton cars also came onto the scene in 2012 and sold a few hundred cars, however the aging models did not sell well in 2017 at all, so they were axed.  There are rumours of them making a comeback with a new range of cars under Geely’s ownership.

1991 Saab 900 Turbo 16 S

Another very sad day in the last decade of the Australian and global motoring industry was when Saab were forced to wrap up.  I miss their individuality and the range of powerful four-cylinder, turbocharged engines.  Australia has also said goodbye to Smart cars, a range of tiny city cars that were made by Mercedes.  They never sold well.

The new popular car marques that have entered the Australian car market over the last few years has been: Genesis, Great Wall, Haaval, LDV, Mahindra, MG, RAM Trucks and Tesla.  Most of these are of Asian origin.

Tesla

Aussie’s Rosco aiming for 1000 mph

Aussie Invader 5R

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

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

Rosco McGlashan

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

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

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

Aussie Invader 5R

Electric History: Hispano-Suiza Carmen Boulogne.

One of the oldest names in automotive and aviation circles, Hispano-Suiza, has launched a second vehicle in its 21st century rebirth. In 2019 the company unveiled the Carmen, a re-interpretation of a classic design from the 1930s called the Dubonnet Xenia. The Carmen Boulogne is a sportier evolution of that iconic vehicle. It is a fully electric vehicle and exclusivity will be stratospheric. Just five will be produced.

Dubonnet Xenia 1930s

The company’s lineage can be traced back over 120 years. Emilio de la Cuadra, a Spanish artillery captain, had been working on electric cars in Barcelona in 1898. During a visit to Paris, he met and subsequently employed Marc Birkigt, a Swiss born engineer. The pair collaborated and swiftly produced two gasoline powered engines which were released in 1900. Some financial hiccups saw a restructuring in 1902 and 1903, with a new owner and name change to Fábrica Hispano-Suiza de Automóviles (Spanish-Swiss Automobile Factory) which went bankrupt in 1903.

La-Cuadra automobile

José María Castro Fernández was the owner and in 1904 the company underwent yet another rebuild, this time more successfully and known as La Hispano-Suiza Fábrica de Automóviles. Damian Mateu, a Spanish entrepreneur, would partner with Birkigt to formalise the rebirth, and his granddaughter, Carmen, is the inspiration for the naming of the company’s 21st century vehicles. Come WW1 and aircraft engines would be produced under the watchful eyes of Birkigt. 1919 and they returned to automotive manufacturing and grew from there.

The Boulogne name dates back to 1921, when Hispano Suiza made a racing version of its high-performance H6 Coupé and entered it in the George Boillot Cup, an endurance race lasting more than 3.5 hours around the French city of Boulogne. Three consecutive victories with André Dubonnet (1921), Paul Bablot (1922), and Léonce Garnier (1923) driving the mighty Hispano Suiza H6, would be the results.

The Hispano Suiza Carmen Boulogne pays tribute to these historic motorsport victories with this fully electrically powered version packing 1,100hp/820 kW and a maximum velocity of 180mph/290kmh. The sprint to 100kmh (62mph) will take just 2.6 seconds. Four permanent-magnet synchronous engines, two on each rear wheel, will power the carbon fiber roof, body, and subframed Carmen Boulogne. The design, engineering, and production of the Carmen Boulogne is a result of a collaboration between Hispano-Suiza and a company specializing in the development of electric motors and motorsports, QEV Technologies.

Formula-E, a race series and a working test-bed for battery powered vehicles, has contributed to the development of the 1,180ft-lb/1,600Nm engines, and lithium-ion polymer batteries. These have a capacity of 80kWh (and can be upgraded later, says the company, with a 105kWh pack in development), and can see the Carmen Boulogne to a range of up to 250 miles/400 kilometres.

2021 Hispano-Suiza Carmen Boulogne

They are an in-house designed and produced T-shaped unit, including a complete temperature control system (including three radiators) to ensure that the cells can operate optimally. It has a fast-charging capacity of more than 80 kW DC, requiring only 30 minutes to charge to 30-80% capacity via a CCS2 fast charger. It also has CHAdeMO and GB/T charging options. Torque-vectoring is employed to ensure the Carmen Boulogne is kept straight under acceleration.

That 4.7 meter long carbon fiber body will be protected by coats of clear varnish, allowing those outside to see the strength of the material, and the emphasis on light-weight sportiness. It will also dramatically emphasise the slippery design, with a drag co-efficient of just 0.32cD. The distinctive semi-circular headlights of the Carmen will be kept, and flanked by a new copper coloured grille, with highlights of the same hue found inside.

2021 Hispano-Suiza Carmen Boulogne cabin

The five buyers can customise the Carmen Boulogne to their own bespoke tastes, thanks to Hispano-Suiza’s “Unique Tailormade” in-house department. Suede or Alcantara will be the interior trim choices as a starting point.

Pricing for the Hispano-Suiza Carmen Boulogne starts from 1.65 million euros plus local taxes (approx USD1,942,000), and its manufacturing process, handmade with the utmost precision, requires approximately twelve months.

The five units of the Carmen Boulogne hypercar join the 14 units of the Carmen to reach a total of 19 units in production, with the first unit ready to be delivered in 2022.

2021 Hispano-Suiza Carmen Boulogne tail

Holden History To Go On Tour.

With Holden soon to be all but a part of history as a brand, one final roll of the dice sees a tour of some of the company’s heritage collection vehicles to visit car museums around Australia.
The Managing Director for GM Australia and New Zealand, Marc Ebolo, said over 80 vehicles and 30 engines will be available: “There has been considerable speculation with regards to what was going to happen to these iconic pieces of automotive heritage, and I’m pleased to reveal we are displaying our vehicle collection in Australia. We have never thought about sending it overseas. The vehicles which make up this multi-million dollar collection have been loaned to a variety of museums and will go on display in the very near future. This will be the first time the entire collection of Holden production and concept vehicles has been released simultaneously for public viewing.”

The last half-decade has seen a select group of Holden enthusiasts made up of largely retired souls in Victoria and South Australia cataloguing the collection, working to preserve the historic aspect of the cars and mechanicals, memorabilia, plus print and photo materiel. Some of the items are close to one hundred years old and have been treated with courtesy and respect in order to help tell the story of Holden.The display will start with the saddlery origins in the late 1800s, through to the 48-215 and beyond. “GM is sincerely grateful for the work our Holden Heritage Group of retiree volunteers has done to sort, digitise and safely store many thousands of items relating to Holden’s rich manufacturing and iconic brand history.” said Mr Ebolo. “We are planning to launch a Holden Heritage Collection website next year which will provide enthusiasts with information about the collection, as well as details of where to view the vehicles.”
Assistance was sought from the National Museum of Australia, interested groups and museums, plus the Commonwealth Office for the Arts and the History Trust of South Australia, and Museums Victoria. The idea was to map out a plan best suited to the preservation of the items and how to make it as accessible as possible to visitors and enthusiasts.

The current schedule has the History Trust of SA’s National Motor Museum in Birdwood, South Australia, the state in which Holden began as a saddlery in 1859, as the first location to make the display available. A short list of some of the vehicles includes the Holden Number 1 as unveiled by the then Prime Minister Ben Chifley in 1948, along with the beautiful concept car, “Hurricane” in 1969, and the one millionth Holden, an EJ.

The planning process was comprehensive, with an Advisory Committee formed specifically for the project. The chairman is the Director of the National Museum, Dr Mathew Trinca AM, and the committee was formally announced by the Federal Minister for the Arts, the Hon. Paul Fletcher MP.

“We more than anybody recognise how important this collection is to Australia and particularly to the people who have worked at Holden and owned Holden cars. We greatly appreciate Minister Fletcher’s interest in the Holden collection and the work and valuable advice of Dr Mathew Trinca, the National, Victorian and South Australian museums and interest groups and the Commonwealth Office for the Arts, on how to best preserve our heritage collection in Australia. We hope that with the opening of state borders and as Australians go on holidays, they will visit the various museums where these wonderful Holden cars will be displayed.” said Mr Ebolo.

2020 Toyota LC76 LandCruiser GXL: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A genuine living dinosaur. Toyota’s LC76 LandCruiser is as basic as they come in a modern world. It’s a square and blocky exterior, features old-school drivetrain tech when it comes to off-road driving, and the interior is a real throw back. We loved it.How Much Does It Cost?: This is the part where a nip of a good 12yo single malt comes in handy. $77,116 drive-away. That’s a fair bit of coin for a vehicle that has not a lot, yet, for some, offers plenty.

Under The Bonnet Is: A very grunty 4.5L V8 fed by diesel. The big thing is paired with a five speed manual transmission, internally operated lever for 4WD low range, and front locking wheel hubs. Yes, you read that right. Peak power is 151kW and peak torque is 430Nm at a lazy 1,200rpm to 3,200rpm, just under the 3,400rpm where peak power lies. Economy is quoted as 10.7L/100km from the combined cycle, and would be better with a six speeder as at highway speeds it’s cruisy but just on the cusp of feeling breathless. Just. The real feeling of running out of steam really kicks in at around 3,000rpm, not that there is much time spent here anyway. That economy figure is not unreasonable in being achieved as we averaged 11.0L/100km. Kerb weight is a hefty 2,265kg. The fuel tank size depends on the model of the LC chosen, ranging from 130L to 180L.

On The Outside It’s: What’s called a two-box design. Big box for the cabin, a smaller one for the engine compartment. It makes for an easy design, and allows for simple interior packaging. The rear doors are a 40/60 split, with the smaller opening first, and a separate lever for the bigger. These open to a substantial cargo space. Front wheels are, as mentioned, lockable via a centre-hub mounted dial. Nowhere to be found is an electronic system to do however there is a button inside for locking the rear diff. In front is a BIG bumper, almost something that own its own could smash an iceberg. Our review vehicle had a large snorkel intake fitted as well, and audible was the intake and breathing on gear change as the actual intake is just above and in front of the drivers head. A massive intercooler gets fresh air via something rarely seen on a car nowadays: an intake scoop.The glasshouse is huge, with plenty of airiness courtesy of the big windows. the front passenger windows look out at wing mirrors that are also old school. No internal operating mechanism, either powered or via a lever, for adjustment. Underneath is a set of big rubber from Dunlop. The Grandtrek tyres are proper off-road capable in tread pattern and the 265/70 grippers wrap 16 inch alloys.Overall dimensions make for a big machine. Length is 4,910, height is 1,940mm, and width is 1,870mm. Dimensions are big underneath too, with 2,730mm for the wheelbase, 1,555mm front track and a narrower 1,430mm for the rear.

On The Inside It’s: As sparse and as bare as you can get in a modern car. We say modern car as this one has a build date of March, 2020, belying the look and feel of the 1980s. There are no steering wheel controls. Aircon is operated via slide levers, and separate ones for fresh or recirculate, cold to hot, and direction. A pair of dials operate the fan speeds. There is a proper cigarette lighter and ashtrays in the rear doors…A basic looking radio head unit provides AM, FM, and digital tunes via a CD player, There is a nod towards modernity thanks to a USB port. A hark back to the past is found with a rocker switch to raise or lower the electric powered aerial.Seat material and plastics are a blue grey hue everywhere and the dash itself is a solid, square, blocky design mimicking the exterior. The cargo section is huge, with a guesstimate (as Toyota doesn’t quote any) at well over 600L and that’s before the folding of the heavy second row seats. These are lever operated both for lift and fold, no electronics here.From the driver’s seat, the view is of a gear selector that is around three feet in length. That’s somewhat exaggerated but not by a lot. To the right is the range (as in high and low range) selector, and to the left, a solitary cupholder…

On The Road It’s: Less nimble than a sinking Titanic, as slow to get going as a sloth on a cold day, and feels as heavy as carrying an elephant. But somehow it overcomes any negative to form, in our very humble opinion, a huge positive.

It’s actually fun to drive.

In a way, those perceived negatives are why. For starters, it’s a manual, a rarity, and a manual that requires experience with how one works. The selector is long, and synchronising the shifts is fairly important as the cogs are a bit agricultural in meshing. The shift is on the heavy side, and it’s a lonnnnnnnng throw between the five forward gears and engaging Reverse takes some patience and muscle.The turning circle is bigger than the orbit of Venus around the sun, the steering is something like five turns left and right from centre, and it’s heavy. It means a driver has to plan, get involved, be part of the driving process. The thought process to engage a gear whilst swinging hard on a weighty steering, judging the not-so-talkative brakes, whilst considering the mass of the big thing, brings a proper sense of what it is to DRIVE a car to the soul.

Highway cruising showcases the fact a six speed would be a better option here. Although final gearing has highway speeds somewhere around 2,000rpm or so, a sixth gear could drop that to 1,500rpm, add a bit more economy, and add just a little more drivability.

What About Safety?: Simple. There is, apart from the front, curtain, and driver’s kneebag, and electronic basics like traction control and HillStart Assist, sweet F.A. And no, this is not a bad thing. by being as basic as it is, it forces a driver to far more engaged in the driving that merely piloting a car, waiting for the beeps and tones as the car goes over roadside whitelines, judging the steering and manual mirrors to check for vehicles before changing lanes, and understanding the limitations in order to be a safer driver.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years, and seven years for the engine IF the car is serviced at a Toyota dealership. Conditions apply. Capped price servicing applies via a VIN identification.

At The End Of The Drive. As lumbering and specification-bare the LC76 is, it remains on sale for a select market. People that understand it. Toyota isn’t in the business of ditching models that sell to a hardcore audience and know both its abilities and its limitations instinctively. As a driver’s car, it is. It embodies what driving is all about. That’s why we loved it.

Robert Opron and the Simca Fulgur: Better Than Nostradamus?

The question as to where all the flying cars are now that we’re in 2020 has become a bit of a cliché.  It’s been a bit of a cliché ever since we hit the new millennium. This is a reference to the way that popular culture envisioned what family cars would look like in the 21st century.

However, at least one car designer had ideas that were a bit more down to earth – literally.  The year was 1958 and the designer was Robert Opron. This designer had accepted a challenge to produce a concept car for the 1959 Geneva Motor Show for his parent company Simca. Never heard of Simca? This was a French company owned by Fiat that rivalled Citroen for the title of “France’s answer to the VW Beetle”. I owned one back in my student days – possibly a Simca 1300; it had a front engine like a normal car rather than a rear engine and it’s probably worth a mint now, so I’m rather regretting selling it. Its only quirk was a flaw in the speedo: after it hit 50 mph, the needle went back down even when I accelerated.

Anyway, enough memories of student cars and back to Robert Opron.  Opron later took his genius to Citroën, then Renault, then Alfa Romeo. He has been recognised as one of the top 25 designers of the 20th century, although he wasn’t the chap responsible for the very distinctive Citroen 2CV. The Renault Alpine was his, though, as were a number of 1980s Renaults.

Opron had come across a challenge issued by the Journal de Tintin.  Yes, that’s Tintin as in the intrepid red-haired reporter who has a dog called Snowy and a best friend called Captain Haddock.  The challenge was to design a “typical” car for the 1980s or for the year 2000. The challenge included a list of specifications that had to be included in the design, including the following:

  • fuelled by a nuclear-powered battery or a hydrogen fuel cell with a range of 5000 km
  • running on two wheels, balanced gyroscopically, at speeds over 150 km/h,
  • voice controlled
  • radar guidance for navigation and for detecting hazards
  • top speed of over 300 km/h
  • automatic braking if it detected a hazard
  • headlights that adjust automatically with speed

Although Opron didn’t produce a full working prototype, he did show a shell of the concept at the 1959 motor show and the full details of the concept car, known as the Simca Fulgur, were published in the Journal de Tintin (this suggests that it would have appeared alongside The Red Sea Sharks and/or Tintin in Tibet – just in case you were curious, like I was).

The Simca Fulgur – which takes its name from the Latin word meaning “lightning” – looked like the classic Jetsons flying car, except it didn’t fly. It captured the public imagination somewhat and became the basis for what people thought futuristic cars would look like. Or what UFOs would look like – take your pick.

Anyway, from the perspective of late October in 2020, 61 years later, it’s amusing to take a look at the cars of today and see how close we’ve actually come to getting some of these features. How well did the Fulgur predict what we’d have on our roads?

  • Voice control: Yes, we’ve got this, although it’s not quite a case of telling the car your destination and letting it get there (they’re working on that). But you can use voice control on quite a few things, including the navigation system.
  • Top speed of over 300 km/h: Yes, but most cars that are capable of this have their speeds limited for safety purposes.
  • Autonomous braking and hazard detection: Yes. However, human input is still needed.
  • Automatically adjusting headlights: Yes, although they adjust for the ambient light levels rather than how fast you’re going.
  • Electric motor with hydrogen fuel cell technology: Yes, although the range isn’t anywhere near what was predicted. We’d all love a range of 5000 km in an EV (electric vehicle) or HFCV (hydrogen fuel cell vehicle).
  • Electrical motor with nuclear power: Are you kidding me? Since Chernobyl and Fukushima, nuclear power isn’t quite the sexy answer to our energy problems that it was back in the 1950s.
  • Balancing on two wheels with gyroscopic stabilisers at speeds over 150 km/h: No. Just no. If you want that sort of thing, get a motorbike, not a family saloon.

All in all, not too bad a job of predicting the future, Monsieur Opron – you did a better job than your compatriot Nostradamus.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The long awaited (for Australia) bigger Jeep. The Gladiator has been touted as a Wrangler with a tray and that’s about as good a description as it gets. It’s a two model range, being the Overland and Rubicon, with a limited run Launch Edition. We drive the Rubicon.How Much Does It Cost?: An information sheet kindly supplied by Jeep Australia has the vehicle we were supplied as $88,405. There is a starting price of $76,450, with the exterior clad in “Gator” for a price of $1,035. Options fitted were a steel front bumper at $1,635, the blacked out wheels at $975, a three piece hard top in body colour at $1,950, a Rubicon luxury package at $2,535, and something called the Lifestyle Adventure Group at $3,835.

Under The Bonnet Is: Jeep’s 3.6L petrol fed V6. And only that motor. That’s right, no diesel. The auto is an eight speed and geared to see Aussie freeways speeds turning the drive-train over at just 2,000rpm. Peak power is 209kW at 6,200rpm, and peak torque is a typical petrol high of 347Nm at 4,100rpm. Economy is not a strong part of the equation with none of the three figures, urban/highway/combined being under 10.0L/100km. Our average around the ‘burbs was 13.5L/100km. The official figure is 15.4L/100km for the urban component, the highway at 10.6L/100km, bringing the combined to 12.4L/100km. Tank capacity is 83.0L.

The dry weight of the Gladiator is 2,215kg and a payload of 620kg takes kerb weight to 2,835kg. 2,721kg is the maximum braked towing capacity. There is a four mode transfer case for two- and four-wheel drive including low range.On The Outside It’s: A Wrangler with a tray. Big and bold Jeep front end, four doors, and the rear section is now a tray of 1,531mm in length and 1,442mm in width. Tray height is 861mm and it looks like it could be a bit higher. Tray capacity is rated as 1,000L.

Lights front and rear are LED powered. The rear bumper is steel as standard, and the optionable steel front looks as if it is fitted to allow installation of a winch. Both ends have bright red painted towhooks. The removable roof sections are detached by twisting pivot handles and lifting up and out. They’re a bit weighty and a bit tricky to reinstall.

The tray has a taut canvas-style tonneau There are a pair of pull-straps to unlatch a pair of clamps which allows the tonneau to be rolled forward. The tailgate has a soft-roll pair of hinges which helps lower the gate down gently.Wheels are 17 inch blacked painted and machined alloys. Rubber is 255/70 BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain T/As. Brakes are big 350mm front and 330mm rear. Fox-branded shockers are visible underneath and hold the Dana front and rear axles with locking diffs.

Front and rear overhangs on the 5,591mm long Gladiator allow for a 40.7 degree approach angle, a 25.1 degree departure, and the track & tyres provide 18.4 degrees of breakover. Wheelbase is a whopping 3.488mm.

On The Inside It’s: Comfortable, reasonably luxurious, and has a stand-out dash colour. It’s a hot red and matches the stitching in the Rubicon-embossed leather seats. The floor has bespoke rubber mats and they strongly point towards the Jeep’s legendary off-road ability. It’s a topographic map look and really sets off the cabin. Notable is the relatively short depth of the dash’s upper section to the base of the windscreen. Also notable is the lack of a footrest for the left foot, instead being cramped by the drivetrain tunnel.There are a couple of cool surprises in this vehicle. One is the hidden, portable, (optionable) bluetooth speaker that’s tucked away behind the driver’s side rear seat. the other is the storage lockers found underneath the same rear seats, accessed by flipping the squabs upwards and opening the plastic locker cover.In the dash itself is a very clean layout for operating the aircon, power windows, a tab for showing which USB ports (including USB-C) are in operation, and the 8.4 inch touchscreen that controls most of the functions such as climate control, audio, and satnav. In the lower left section is the button to lock the differentials and disengage the sway bars when getting serious in the off-road environment.On The Road It’s: Something that shouldn’t be as much fun as it is on tarmac. Admittedly some of that fun is tempered by the constant roar from the big rubber and the (necessary) looseness in the steering. It’s loose to deal with the off-road ability it has, and that is plentiful.

The tarmac steering is somewhat wayward and does require constant adjustment to keep the big machine in between the white lines. The high sidewall rubber and Fox-sprung suspension move the Gladiator around quite a bit, and having no load in the tray has the rear wallowing noticeably.

On the tarmac drive acceleration is adequate without being outstanding. There’s a faint snarl from the 3.6L V6 as it spins up. The transmission is a pearler, being slick and only juddery when cold. There are no paddle shifts, there is manual shifting via the super short throw gear selector.

Braking is superb and required given the mass. The pedal feel and feedback is spot on, with that sort of intuitive sense of knowing where the pads are on the discs as the foot presses and releases the pedal.It’s off-road, naturally, where the Gladiator’s heritage shines. Looking through the windscreen and seeing the Jeep logo in the outline of the window then peering further to the various rocky or muddy or puddled terrains brings it all together.

We drove the Gladiator on our four wheel drive test track, also known as a major 4WD enthusiasts track and a fire trail. This particular track is ideal to test off-road capable vehicles due to the varying surfaces and changes in topography.The Gladiator has a choice of 2WD, 4WD auto, and 4WD low range. The lever to engage is extremely stiff and requires some real oomph to move and engage low range. The buttons for disengaging the stabiliser bars then offer up a menu screen for off-road information.

When the low range is locked in, and the bars are ready, the Gladiator was given its druthers and in no way did it disappoint. It caught the eye of many on its tarmac travel time and there were some young drivers that stopped and frankly ogled the Gladiator as it worked its way through and over the changing surfaces. Suffice to say they were impressed as were we as it dispatched its challengers without a second thought.Crawling up, down, and at angles guaranteed to raise the heartbeat, the Gladiator’s Jeep heritage proved to be utterly suitable in proving just how good an off-roader this bigger than a Wrangler machine is. Peace of mind underneath comes from a standard skid-plate covering the transmission and fuel tank.

What About Safety?: It’s good. Four airbags come as standard and this is mainly due to the removable panels for the roof not being suitable to fit curtain ‘bags. Blind Spot Monitor is standard as is Adaptive Cruise Control, Engine Stop/Start, and Full Speed Forward Collision Warning Plus. Park Assist Front and Rear is also standard along with the vital Tyre Pressure Monitoring service.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years unlimited kilometres along with five years capped price servicing along with roadside assist for life.

At The End Of The Drive. Jeep’s Gladiator has come into a marketplace that is quite well populated with four wheel drive capable, four door body styled, tray-back utes. Immediately it’s “up against it” on price, and it’d be also fair to say, for some the safety factor would count against it.

It doesn’t handle as well on tarmac as the competition and having only a thirsty petrol-fed V6 is also a negative.

Where it wins is crucial; everywhere it was driven heads would swivel. Other drivers from the same brand would smile and give a thumbs up. The interest level from outside the plush cabin was obviously high. Then there is that undoubted off-road ability, and proven on our drive. It really is a superb off-roader but in honesty what else would one expect?Therein lies the rub. To fully exploit what the Gladiator can do would require constant off-road usage, not tarmac driving. Simply put, it’s good on the black stuff but will be constantly outclassed by others of the same type. And that may not be enough to overcome the lack of time driven where it belongs.Towing and payload is another cross. Factor in the fuel usage in normal driving and count on that increasing when towing and/or loaded, and again the Gladiator falls short. In a way, it’s like winning the rights to having your own proper cinema, and using it perhaps once a month. It’s great to have, but…..Talk to your Jeep dealer for a test drive.

Last Ford GT cars Very Special

Ford GT HE

If you’ve got a load of money to spend on a supercar and want something really different and special, then why not go for the latest and last-to-be-built Ford GT supercars.  The Ford GT remains the only American supercar to ever win at Le Mans.  This beat Ferrari at its own game, and now the Ford Performance division has announced a very special Heritage Edition (HE) that has been inspired by the original model’s first long distance win at the 1966 Daytona 24 Hour Continental race.

The new Ford GT Heritage Edition adds some styling cues that are taken from the winning formula at Le Mans in 1966.  It is a model developed as a tribute to the winner of the 1966 Daytona 24 Hour Continental race, which was captured in the 2019 film “Ford v Ferrari”.  The HE features a striking Frozen White exterior paint job with an exposed carbon fibre hood.  Shod with great looking one-piece Heritage Gold 20-inch forged aluminium wheels and red Brembo monobloc brake callipers, you have a an eye-catching combination to what is still one of the most desirable supercars on the planet.

Inside the Ford GT HE is black Alcantara material wrapping the instrument panel, headliner and steering wheel rim, while red paddle shifters and Alcantara performance seats add intense contrast and a special experience.

Ford GT HE

You can also get the Ford GT with even less unsprung weight, where there’s the option of 20-inch exposed carbon fibre wheels.  You can also get the monobloc brake calipers lacquered in black with Brembo lettering in red – nice!

Adding the special Studio Collection package gives you a Ford GT that offers added exclusivity and design enhancements, which you can add to the newest Ford GT supercar.  Boasting an all-new graphics package that highlights key styling elements, such as functional cooling ducts, and other unique exterior graphics that have been designed by the Ford Performance and Ford GT manufacturer, ‘Multimatic’.  These clever design cues combine the combination of stripes and accents over the sexy GT exterior that invoke the emotion of speed as well as drawing your eye to some of the most prominent features of the classic GT style.

Just forty examples of the Studio Collection package will be built across the 2021 and 2022 model years, so to be one of the coolest Supercar drivers on the planet be in quick and don’t miss out!

Sadly, these will be the last new Ford GT supercar models to be produced, with production scheduled to wrap up in 2022.

Just for your information: the latest RWD, 7-speed automatic Ford GT comes with a twin-turbo, 3.5-litre V6 engine developing a whopping 482 kW of power at 6250 rpm and 746 Nm of torque at 5900 rpm.  That’s enough energy to catapult you from 0-100 km/h in around 3.8 seconds, 0-200 km/h in 12.3 seconds, see you through the quarter mile in 11.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 330 km/h.

The raucous sound of the engine is sublime, the RWD handling spot on, and it’s so easy to fall in love with one.  Buy one now, and the car is sure to appreciate in value – especially with this last run of GT cars, and their acquired exclusivity.

Ford GT HE

How the Ute Has Risen to Prominence

Utes have become an integral part of Australian culture. No longer are they about getting from point A to point B, they’ve become ingrained in our day-to-day way of living, they’re dependable companions that now allow us to service our jobs and sustain a living.

 

Looking back to the ute’s origins

Utes aren’t just a modern-day development. In fact, they’ve been with us for almost 100 years, dating back to the 1930s. Of course, who would believe it, Australian culture has a large role to play in said development too. Right here in Australia, specifically Victoria, it is believed that the wife of a farmer wrote a letter that sparked the idea for a ute.

While cars at the time maintained a focus on practicality, they were also large enough to cater to other needs. Yet this individual had another idea. She was looking for something to drive to church on a Sunday, but also transport the pigs to the market. In many respects, this creation has sparked on all sorts of other work-related functions, with today’s utes largely used by tradies to carry goods and equipment to work. Not quite a market, but certainly a job nonetheless.

 

Utility Vehicles in Australia

 

Performance utes

More than just functional vehicles, recent utes transformed into high-end performance cars. Many of them were fitted with enormous engines and turbochargers, enough to rival some of the slickest street cars going around. At the same time, they still balance practicality for workers to get the job done. In any case, these cars were as top-end as many luxury vehicles on the market.

 

 

The family ute

Of course, however, the demise of Holden, in many ways a breeder of the performance ute, has led to another transition back to the functional and practical days of the ute, led by the likes of the HiLux and Ranger. Still functional, still rugged and still equipped with great performance, these cars are now the most popular on the market.

They’re no longer quite the same performance utes as the HSV era, but they have all the attributes of a great all-round vehicle. They’ve also become suitable for the family, with plenty of room to take the kids, utes have shed their their former stereotypes and turned into the very utilitarian vehicle they were always intended to be.

 

Luxury For Sale With F1 Relationship: RBR Edition Aston Martin At Pickles.

Noted Auction house, Pickles, sometimes has cars available that have we would-be wannabe lotto winners salivating and wondering why the numbers didn’t drop for us. One of the latest is a 2017 Red Bull Racing Edition Aston Martin Vantage V8. One of just 17 made available for the Australian market, it’s clad in the iconic Red Bull colours of deep Mariana Blue, with contrasting bright yellow and red accents such as the brake callipers and air intake inserts, with Red Bull Racing embroidered headrests, and features scuff plates by a Formula One driver as special additions.

Power is provided by a 4.7L V8, with a reasonable 321kW of power and 490Nm of torque. They’re put to the ground via a six speed manual and driving the rear wheels. And with a kerb weight of around 1600kg, a zero to one hundred time of 4.8 seconds is possible. The exhaust system in these cars was given a bi-modal switch, allowing a deeper, more grumble oriented note throughout the rev range.

Inside the smallest of the Aston Martin range is an interior that shows the era its roots were based in. But to raise that level, there have been detail touches such as the steering wheel being covered in Alcantara with a racing stripe at 12 o’clock, the dash highlighted with carbon-fibre trim, and the Red Bull Racing logo adorning the seats. The RBR Vantage also has Apple CarPlay added to the user friendly entertainment system which includes Bluetooth streaming.

It’s a proper driver’s car too, with a heavy but communicative hydraulic power steering system. It’s one that connects the driver to the road via the tiller, telling the driver just what the front wheels are doing and which part of the road they’re in contact with. The manual transmission is along the same lines, with a high pickup point balanced by a shifter mechanism that is smoother than a lothario’s pick-up line.

And although perhaps a little dated in the suspension technology, it’s nonetheless a comfortable, enjoyable ride, yet still allows a driver to exploit the sheer Aston Martin-ness of the RBR EditionVantage’s heritage.

When originally released, the RBR Edition Aston Martin Vantage was listed as a fiver under $260K driveaway. One lucky buyer via the Pickles Auction will have this in their collection after the 14th of October, when this, and a sterling range of other hi-po cars such as a 2015 Ferrari California, go under the hammer. Stay up to date by visiting the Pickles website. http://credit-n.ru/offers-zaim/sms-finance-express-zaimy-na-kartu.html