by Dr. Iain Corness
Batman strikes again
Spotted this incredible make-over of a
Toyota Hilux van in Soi 5 the other day. It has black rubber
wings and things all over it, and as I walked towards it I
began thinking that it was some sort of batmobile joke. When I
looked at the back window, I realized it was no joke! Avoid it
like the plague! Anyone who could drive this vehicle is
desirable) car spotted
Spotted this one outside the Pattaya
Marriott Resort and Spa, parked where you and I would have
received a barrage of angry whistles and told to move on. This
is a cool 26.5 million baht of Ferrari F575 M Maranello. To be
quite candid, I found the styling to be very bland, and from
the side looked like a scaled down early 70’s Mach 1 Mustang
with the hip-line kick-up over the rear wheels, or even at a
stretch the old 275 LM. You would have to be a real Ferrari
fan to get one of these, even with its 515 bhp from the 5.7
litre V12. The brakes actually looked to me to be quite small
when you take into consideration the potential top speed and
575 M Maranello is one of the latest models produced by
Ferrari (released in 2002) and is an evolution of the 550
Maranello. The 575, refers to its increase in engine capacity
from 5500 cc to around 5750 cc, which has resulted in
increased power and torque. The letter ‘M’ stands for
‘Modified’, to make you believe that every part of the car
is modified vis-เ-vis the 550 Maranello.
The first obvious change is the fact that
Ferrari have done away with the console gearshift, and you get
one of Schumi’s paddle shifts on the steering wheel, like a
real F1 car. That may impress some, but since you can get it
on a Honda Jazz, I remain underwhelmed.
According to the factory, the principal
modifications were limited to those required to deal with the
technical changes: in particular different shape and size for
the air intakes in the new front end of the car and a new
treatment for the front spoiler. The headlights and wheels
have also been modified. Wow! Almost a total makeover!
The objectives given to the engineers for
the new V12 engine in the 575M Maranello were to increase both
the power curve as well as the torque, when compared with the
550 Maranello. It now has a maximum power output of 515 bhp
(379 Kw) at 7250 rpm and maximum torque of 588.6 Nm 5250 rpm.
As our American friends would say, “There’s no substitute
for cubic inches!”
Ferrari claim a 50-50 split between the
front and rear axles, with the driver on board, thanks to a
transaxle design which features a combined rear mounted
gearbox and differential unit with conical torque and
autolocking differential in the same unit.
It has an adaptive suspension with
different settings, based on a system of independently
controlled damping at all four corners of the car. The system
is capable of selecting the ideal ride height for any
condition, with two choices: Sport, which is selected for a
more sporty ride, improving traction and Comfort, which gives
a more comfortable ride, absorbing road bumps. Hopefully there
is a third choice called “Thailand Roads”, which will give
600 mm of ground clearance to allow you to traverse any of the
13 million roadworks projects between Chiang Rai and Phuket.
Jokes aside, it certainly is a very
advanced car technically, but I still say you have to be a
very well heeled dyed in the wool Schumi fan to slap down 26.5
million baht so that you can park the thing where lesser
mortals in Daihatsu Miras can’t go!
Natter Nosh and
The car (and bike) enthusiasts will be
meeting again this Monday night (8th) at Shenanigans Pub
at 7 p.m. This is a totally informal meeting of like
minded souls which meets on the second Monday of every
month to discuss their pet motoring (and motorcycling)
loves and hates. It is free to join and I suggest that you
bring along magazines or photographs so that the group can
get involved in the discussion. Generally we have
something to eat while we are there and wash it down with
something amber, hence the name, Natter, Nosh and Noggin.
Just ask any of the lovely Shenanigans girls where Dr.
Iain and the group are and they will point us out and give
you a push.
Last week, I mentioned that Noel Westwood
and G.L. Davies circumnavigated a very large island by car in
1925. It took almost five months. I asked what was the car?
Well, the island was Australia and the car was a Citroen 5CV.
Not bad for 1925! Who said that Citroens weren’t reliable?
to this week. Hands up all those who remember the Invicta
The Invictas were interesting sporting
machines, with the fastest having four and a half inches of
ground clearance. Rather too low for today, and definitely too
low in the 1930’s when they were in their heyday. The push
behind the marque was Lord Macklin (who I think was the father
of British racing driver Lance Macklin). In the late 1920’s
an energetic young lady by the name of Violet Corderey drove
an Invicta around the world and set the world 25,000 km record
at 89 kph, a real piece of autotrivia! However, the S type
Invictas were well built vehicles with all sorts of innovative
features, such as a dual fuel feed system, using air pressure
or electric pump, and telescopic shock absorbers all round.
They had one other very innovative feature that related to the
positioning of the starter switch. So after all that verbiage
above, this week’s question is simply that - where was the
switch? Now try and Google that one!
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be
the first correct answer to email [email protected]
What did we learn from the
final Grand Prix of 2004?
Well, we learned that even seven times
world champ Michael Schumacher can get it wrong in practice
and end up world chump, and it was a very subdued Schumi who
had to use the spare car, qualifying 8th and then penalized 10
grid spots as well, to start 18th, down in Minardi country.
However, he had made up eight spots on the first lap, and
despite another spin, finished in the points in 7th place.
Poor Ruby Baby is still waiting to win his home GP, and
didn’t manage it again, despite starting from pole position.
We also saw that Christian Klien doesn’t
seem to understand how to let faster cars pass ‘cleanly’
if you’ll pardon the pun. His debut year has seen him
collide with Schumi (twice), Coulthard (twice), Webber (twice)
and a few others as well. The words he uses are always the
same, “I saw him coming but didn’t think he would come up
so fast!” That’s why we won’t see the young Austrian
again next year (unless he buys a drive with Jordan). Jaguar
even admitted during the year that he was not making the grade
as a driver, even though his sack of gold was large enough.
Talking about large sacks, Juan Pablo
Montoya showed that he has the fire and the skill to do the
job, he just needs encouragement from his team. I feel he
didn’t get that from BMW Williams. But will he get it from
McLaren next year when he lines up alongside Raikkonen, the
apple of Ron Dennis’ eye? I somehow doubt it, though Ron is
already saying that McLaren has the environment to help
And when I write about driving alongside
Raikkonen brings me to another fact we learned from Brazil.
Laughing boy Kimi Raikkonen wears blinkers, driving down the
pit lane side by side with Montoya, and saying afterwards that
he didn’t see him there. They only drove for 50 metres less
than 300 mm apart! The stewards of the meeting were not
impressed with his explanation, and laughing boy was fined
So we now go into the ‘lay off’ season.
The rules for 2005 are still not cast in stone, the teams are
not happy, the engine suppliers are not happy, several
circuits are not happy and several drivers ditto. While
Ferrari and McLaren have their line up signed up (Schumi and
Barichello in red, Montoya and Raikkonen in silver), there are
many others who have yet to announce their pairings. BMW
Williams, having lost the Jenson Button Contract Review Board
fiasco, are yet to say who will partner Mark Webber, and
Minardi and Jordan are shaking their donation tins to see who
is willing to tip in the most. I have spoken before on ‘pay
drivers’ and how these lower teams need drivers with real
talent to get their cars further up the grid, but ‘real
talent’ doesn’t pay for the privilege to drive. While
Minardi and Jordan continue to look for ‘pay drivers’ they
will continue to bring in the likes of Alex Yoong to fill the
rear of the grid, and will not improve their own chances at
getting further up that grid.
As the teams finalize their driver line-up, as the FIA
finalizes the regulations, and Bernie Ecclestone finishes
counting his money, I will keep you informed.