by Dr. Iain Corness
Reitzle gets the Jac Nasser
The Automotive News group published some
“inside” information on the sudden resignation of the
Premier Automotive Group chairman Wolfgang Reitzle and the
appointment of Mark Fields (ex Mazda boss) to succeed him.
The departure of the 53-year-old Reitzle
comes as the Ford owned luxury brands are working hard to
collaborate in the broad areas of purchasing and development
while trying not to overlap in branding and product.
an area in which many feel Reitzle will be missed because the
new boss, the 41 year old Fields, who moves over from Mazda
Motor Corp., does not have Reitzle’s experience with luxury
brands or his product savvy, dynamism or clout, they report.
A Premier Automotive manager said, “Cars
like the Jaguar S-Type with a six-speed gearbox wouldn’t
exist without Reitzle. Now the finance guys will start saving
at every single nut and bolt again. And the Jaguar spirit, so
credibly reinstalled by Reitzle, will fade again.”
Gentle reader, bean counters have been the
reason for some appalling problems in the motor industry. One
of my favourite writers on things automotive engineering-wise
is Carrol Smith. It was Smith who wrote, “The function of a
bean counter is to tell me how many beans I’ve got - not to
tell me how to spend my beans!” A friend of mine walked out
of a good auto manufacturer’s job when he found out that the
Research and Development department were working on how to
make the current parts cheaper, rather than how to make them
better. Bean counters again!
In the broader product-development and
manufacturing sense, Land Rover, Jaguar and Aston Martin are
working closely on common procurement plans, although supplier
commonality won’t happen in earnest until next-generation
redesigns occur, said Steve Jones, Land Rover/Jaguar
The biggest overlap could involve sharing
power plants, such as Land Rover using Jaguar’s
next-generation V8 engine in its upcoming Discovery, and
Jaguar borrowing diesel engine technology from Ford of Europe.
Volvo will share major component sets with Ford of Europe on
the upcoming 40- and 30-series vehicles.
Do you see what is happening? Your new
Volvo is going to be a Ford with a new body shape. Almost, but
not quite, “badge engineering” and we are the people who
lose. I honestly believe that Reitzle was trying to keep the
brands individual, contrary to the wishes of those in FoMoCo
who count the beans, so Reitzle got the Jac Nasser treatment!
See if I’m not right!
Jaguar thinks it has a bad
The Jaguar F1 team which appears to be
in more strife than Flash Gordon are really getting
desperate. The belief within the team is that the
aerodynamics are no good and to beat the problem they have
just hired (read “stolen”) two further aerodynamicists
to join the others they already have.
based at Milton Keynes in the UK, revealed that they have
“recruited” Dr Mark Gillan from McLaren International
and Peter Machin from Arrows.
Jaguar now have their own wind tunnel
and it is now operating 16 hours a day, but given the time
required to generate significant aerodynamic improvements
in Formula 1, the team is working towards a longer term,
mid-season target and the Ford, sorry Jaguar, race fans
shouldn’t expect miracles straight away. Mind you, I’m
sure there will be lots of hot air coming from Eddie (the
mouth) Irvine while we wait.
week I wrote about an Egyptian Phoenix race car which competed
in Egypt’s national racing colour of tasteful purple. I also
mentioned the Triumph Herald which was partly designed by
Giovanni Michelotti who was also involved with the TR4, the
GT6, the 2000, the Dolomite and the Stag. What I wanted to
know is what was the connection between the Egyptian Phoenix
racing car, Michelotti and Triumph. The clue was to go smell
The answer was that the three Flower
brothers, Raymond, Derek and Neville were involved with the
Egyptian race car and were also involved with a special TR3
worked over by Giovanni Michelotti. This produced the
connection between Triumph and Michelotti, and the rest, as
they say, is history.
latest in the “mini” car stakes is the wildly styled
“Smart” which is so short it can be parked sideways and
not stick out into the traffic. There was one long before,
however, which could be parked that way and was certainly a
“mini” car. I want the name of this car, and the date.
Clue: it is British!
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be
the first correct answer to fax 427 596 or email automania @pattayamail.com
It’s not all that long ago that we
used to throw off at the American 1/4 mile drag racers.
“If it don’t go - chrome it!” was called the drag
racer’s creed. Well, the good news (or the bad news) is
that it’s back! Chrome has become all the rage again.
After a decade of self coloured bumper bars, door handles
and bonnet and boot embellishments, chrome is back! Take a
look at the latest vehicles from Ford, Toyota and
especially the Kia Carnival. Chrome trim is all the go
again. As I said before - if it don’t go - chrome it!
First Round Sport Grand
Championship at Bira this weekend
The first rounds in this year’s Thailand
Sport Grand Championship meetings kick off this weekend at the
Bira Circuit (Highway 36 between Pattaya and Rayong around Km
The major races will be the Sport Grand
Champion cars, with the newly named Sport Challenge cars
(originally called Concept I) as a warm up. There will also be
races for the Touring Cars Group N, with categories A and B
together in one race and category C in other events. At the
time of going to print there were almost 70 entries for the
Racing commences around 10 a.m. and there
is a “Pit Walk” scheduled between noon and 12.45 to allow
the spectators to come across the track and get close to the
action in the pits. If you are unable to get to Bira, do not
despair, the meeting is televised live between 2 and 4 p.m. on
Touring Car Series Round 1
The Asian Festival of Speed kicked
off at Subic Bay in the Philippines this month. The WK
Longman Peugeot 306’s that were the big movers last
year continued to show dominance with Finland’s Toni
Ruokonen winning the first round of the 2002 Asian
Touring Car Series in his Peugeot 306, ahead of local
driver George Ramirez in the Honda.
leading Ramirez (Photo courtesy InSports Images)
After a relatively poor start from
the dusty ‘off-line’ side of the track the Finn was
“happy to get a comfortable lead” over Ramirez’s
Honda. Both drivers were happy with the performance of
their Michelin tyres on the newly renovated Subic
International Raceway, near Manila.
In Division 3, for cars with less
powerful engines, Hong Kong driver Danny Stacy Chau used
strategy to overcome his rivals. “In qualifying I did
just the minimum three laps so that my tyres would be in
peak condition,” explained 55 year old Chau after the
Favourite for Division 3 victory
before the race was Macau’s Ao Chi Hong. After
eventually losing the battle with the fast charging Chau
he was relegated to third by Japanese lady driver Kanami
Takeda. A stunt-driver and television commentator by
profession, Takeda found the Subic circuit “slippery
In the Asian Formula 2000 Round 1,
Singapore’s Denis Lian took victory in an incident
packed first round. Pole-sitter Mike Miller from Hong
Kong “tried too hard to defend” on the opening lap
and spun. “I was a bit over-excited by starting at the
front, I think, I need to calm it down a bit,”
confessed the 44 year old airline pilot after the race.
Asian Touring Car Series Round 1 -
Subic International Raceway
1. Toni Roukonen (FIN); 2. George
Ramirez (PHI); 3. Lo Ka Chun (HKG); 4. Danny Stacy Chau
(HKG); 5. Takeda Kanami (JAP); 6. Ao Chi Hong (MAC).
Asian Formula 2000 Series Round 1
- Subic International Raceway
1. Denis Lian (SIN); 2. Mike Potenciano (PHI); 3.
Tohru Jitsukawa (JAP); 4. Nick Thomas (HKG); 5. Mike
Miller (HKG); 6. Hirotake Machida (JAP).
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