Dr. Iain Corness

Thursday, 04 February 2016 12:42

Mormon Meteor wins again!

Hemmings group in the US reports that the Mormon Meteor, a 1935 Duesenberg Special once owned by the legendary Ab Jenkins, may well be the most desirable Duesenberg (if not the most desirable prewar American car) on the planet.

A multiple land speed record holder, the car claimed Best in Show honors at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, becoming the first competition car to do so. Last weekend, the car continued its winning ways for owner Harry Yeaggy of Cincinnati, Ohio, capturing a Duesenberg class win backed up by a Best of Show award at the 2016 Arizona Concours d’Elegance.

Mormon Meteor (Photo by David LaChance).

Harry Yeaggy acquired the car at auction in 2004, paying $4.45 million for the Duesenberg and setting a then-record price for an American car in the process. Since Jenkins and the car had parted ways in 1945, it had only passed through three additional owners, and had received a pair of partial restorations over the decades.

That’s not to say it was in original condition, and one of Yeaggy’s first goals was to return the open-top Duesenberg to its as delivered 1935 condition. (And that was after paying the thick end of four and a half million!) This was necessary as both Jenkins and subsequent owners had altered the car to suit their needs and expectations. For land speed record attempts, Jenkins had once fitted a 750 horsepower Curtiss Wright Conqueror V-12 up front, christening the car the Mormon Meteor II in this configuration.

After setting speed endurance records in 1935 and 1936, Jenkins “retired” the car after the 1937 season. At this time it was converted for road-going use, with the original 420 cu.in., 400 horsepower supercharged SJ engine replacing the aircraft V-12. The driver’s head fairing was removed (the passenger head fairing had been deleted shortly after Jenkins took delivery of the car), the exhaust was rerouted to allow the fitting of doors, and the car was resprayed in red instead of its original (and now familiar) pale yellow. In this configuration, Jenkins enjoyed the car during his tenure as the mayor of Salt Lake City.

Yeaggy had long studied the car before its purchase, and he understood the extensive amount of fabrication that would be needed to return the car to its original state. Entrusting the work to Classic Car Services of Oxford, Maine, a firm that had previously restored Yeaggy’s 1937 Bohman & Schwartz Convertible Coupe, the project began with even more research of the car in its as delivered to Jenkins state. The three-year project began with the review of as many in-period photos as Yeaggy and Classic Car Services owner Chris Charlton could unearth, with the assistance of Duesenberg historian Fred Roe.

Disassembly revealed that the prior restorations had been partial in scope, and not nearly as thoroughly researched. One attempt returned the car to a yellow hue, but a much darker shade than the factory paint. With accuracy being the primary goal of the restoration, the original shade of pale yellow was replicated from both period accounts of the car and from traces of the original paint left on brackets not removed during previous work.

Both driver and passenger head fairings were replicated, and the straight exhaust was fabricated after the now original body with no doors was fitted to the chassis. The straight-eight engine, which produced 80 horsepower more than a standard SJ courtesy of a revised supercharger, ram’s horn intake manifold, twin Stromberg UU-3 carburetors and custom camshafts, had already been rebuilt to a high standard, but was refinished to match the rest of the car.

Since taking top honors at Pebble Beach, the Mormon Meteor has also won at Amelia Island and graced the field at the 2012 Glenmoor Gathering of Significant Automobiles. As its win last weekend demonstrates, the Duesenberg Special remains a force to be reckoned with even eight-plus decades after its creation.

Other cars in the running for Best of Show included a 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Zagato, owned by David Sydorick of Beverly Hills, California; a 1931 Chrysler Imperial CG LeBaron dual-cowl phaeton, owned by Aaron and Valerie Weiss of San Marino, California; and a 1932 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Pillarless Berline with Figoni et Falaschi coachwork, owned by Don Williams of Danville, California.

(Reading about the range of classic cars available in the US and the UK would make an enthusiast weep. I am sure a Hilux will never be a classic!)

Thursday, 04 February 2016 12:37

Natter, nosh and noggin

The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park. The next meeting is on Monday February 8 at Jameson’s at 7 p.m. A totally informal meeting of like-minded souls to discuss their pet motoring (and motorcycling) loves and hates (plus lies and outright exaggerations). Come along and meet the guys who have a common interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s specials, washed down with a few beers. A couple of the members are scrutineers at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, so they often have some scuttlebutt about the F1 scene, and one is just back from driving around Australia towing a caravan! Always a fun night. Be prepared to laugh a lot at some of the antics of the members (when they were younger)! The Car Club nights are only on the second Monday of the month (not every second Monday)!

Thursday, 04 February 2016 12:35

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what is the link between Prince Chula Chakrabongse, HG Wells, Rudolf Valentino, the Shah of Iran and the Sultan of Morocco? They all had Voisin C7’s.

Incidentally, Peter Eades, a regular quiz entrant found there was another identical E-Type hearse a couple of weeks back in a movie called Johnathan Livingstone, 2013, a film by Francois Curlet. Here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_F28RIoPL8 &feature=youtu.be You deserve two beers for that, Peter!

So to this week. A special finish for a Grand Prix team in 1914 was never repeated until 1924 and then again in 1928. Even today, that finish cannot be equaled by the current F1 cars.

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or viacars @gmail.com. Good luck!

Wednesday, 03 February 2016 16:36

Does EBM mean increased ‘benefits’ for you?

The practice of Medicine is a fascinating story over thousands of years. “Healers” have been part of most societies, and in ancient China, for example, you paid the doctor to remain well, not for treatment of your ailment. Now there’s an incentive bonus for you!

Then there are different kinds of “medicine” given such names as “conventional”, “alternative” and “complementary”.

These different ways at looking at the same subject (making you well) can be quite confusing, and for me much hangs on the term EBM, which stands for Evidence Based Medicine.

Mind you, it has also always been the case where people like to throw stones at conventional clinical medicine. Claims of over-servicing, over-prescribing and downright fraudulent practices are thrown about, citing someone whose uncle/friend/mother (delete that which is inappropriate) suffered at the hands of “bad” doctors who misdiagnosed the illness and the patient died.

Now, there are certainly some “bad” doctors out there, just as there are “bad” lawyers, “bad” real estate agents, “bad” mechanics and just about any profession you would like to think of. But they’re not all “bad”.

And me? I am a conventionally trained British/Australian style medical practitioner who has spent a lifetime practicing EBM. Practices that have been proven to work. Call it “good” medicine, if you like.

I am also proud of my final exams taken in the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons in London. I have the honor to have my name listed in the ‘great book’ with luminaries such as Hunter, Jenner and Lister. I am also indebted to my tutors during the 12 months of ‘pre-registration’, where you apply your knowledge under the supervision of accredited specialists. An arduous road, but one that is a safeguard for you, the general public.

The ‘powers that be’ are also ensuring that we keep up to date with a process called Continuous Medical Education (CME). That medical education continues through to today, with CME lectures being attended by my hospital’s doctors, and myself. Fortunately for me, the slides are in English.

Those ‘powers that be’ also try to ensure that we prescribe drugs that are efficacious, that have been tested, and the evidence points to this. It is not anecdotal evidence, but true scientific evidence shown by research in many countries, with hundreds of thousands of patients. It is following that type of evidence, that I can recommend with all good faith, that 100 mg of aspirin a day is “good” medicine. I also know that if you are prescribed a ‘statin’ drug it will lower your cholesterol levels. They have been tested.

I am also the first to admit that we have sometimes managed to get it wrong. The Thalidomide story still has living examples of this. However, the medical world-wide network is cohesive enough to ensure that this drug was withdrawn. It is the checks and balances system that has kept conventional medicine afloat.

I am often asked my opinion on “alternative” medicine, and I try to avoid direct confrontation over this. If devotees have found that they can diagnose tumors by looking at patient’s auras through their third eye in the middle of their foreheads, then I am genuinely pleased, in fact delighted, provided that they have subjected the method to scientific scrutiny.

If various groups can actually cure cancer, epilepsy, halitosis or lock-jaw by inserting dandelions into a fundamental orifice, then again I am delighted. This is a medical break-through, but as such, must be subjected to medical scrutiny. If the method stands true scientific examination (not to be confused with anecdotal ‘evidence’) then it will be adopted by everyone, complete with thanks to those clever people who picked the dandelions in the first place. Ignore the claims that “Big Pharma” is suppressing cancer treatments. If someone has the answer, they will be multi-millionaires overnight.

As far as the majority of ‘folk’ remedies is concerned, I work on the principle that if you ‘think’ it is doing you good, then it probably is. But don’t ask me to endorse something that has not been scientifically tested.

When the ‘alternative’ group spends more time proving their methods, instead of complaining about non-acceptance, EBM practitioners will give them more credence.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016 17:54

Joint Chambers meet the “Boss”

The Joint Chambers networking evening was held at the Amari, with the South African – Thai Chamber of Commerce (SATCC) being the hosts. The Chambers involved included the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT), the American Chamber (AMCHAM), AustCham, Belu-Thai, German Thai Chamber (GTCC), Netherlands Thai Chamber (NTCC) and with South Africa hosting, it was called a Braai.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016 15:17

Where’s your spare key?

The other Sunday, my 10 year old son asked for the car keys to get his homework out of the boot. With admonishments not to lock the keys in the car, I began to get suspicious when he had not returned with keys in hand after five minutes.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016 15:15

Force 1 puts 555 kW into the marketplace

A new supercar was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Called the Force 1, it shares the 555 kW/928 Nm 8.4 liter V10 of the Dodge Viper.

This new car has been designed by Henrik Fisker, who has used his new company VLF Automotive, focusing on sports cars with large-capacity naturally aspirated petrol engines, and the Dodge Viper is certainly one of those!

VLF was founded by Fisker, and involves former General Motors vice chairman Bob Lutz and manufacturing authority Gilbert Villarreal. The company title borrows the initial of each founder member’s surname.

VLF Force 1.

With a $US300,000 price tag the Force 1 goes up against the far cheaper Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Spyker C8, Aston Martin Vanquish and the Viper with which it shares an engine, but VLF says its latest creation delivers “the best performance in its price class”.

With the use of extensive carbon-fibre construction this has kept weight to about the 1500 kg giving zero to 100 clicks in 3.0 seconds and on to a top speed of 351 km/h, but still provides a “luxurious contemporary interior for two people”, say VLF. Transmission is either six speed manual or six speed auto.

Sports seats can be optioned as the most lightweight manually adjustable versions or electrically adjustable.

The Fisker-style body is a head turner with large air intakes at the front, a couple of NACA ducts at the leading edge of the bonnet and Ultra Thin Ventilated (UTV) tail-lights and slender peeping headlights not unlike the Mazda MX-5.

Wheel size is at the edge of extreme at 21 inches with Pirelli P Zero rubber and the car’s dimensions are 1243 mm high with a 2018 mm width and 4545mm length.

Fisker had previously founded Henrik Fisker Design, which produced a number of concept vehicles but has not resulted in a confirmed production model. The Fisker Karma belongs to the Chinese parts-maker Wanxiang, which bought Fisker’s company in 2014.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016 15:14

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked about the hearse, based on a Jaguar E-Type chassis that was driven by a young movie star. What was the name of the star, what year and the name of the film? It was Bud Cort, it was 1971 and the film was Harold and Maude. The music for this cult film was by Cat Stevens.

So to this week. What is the link between Prince Chula Chakrabongse, HG Wells, Rudolf Valentino, the Shah of Iran and the Sultan of Morocco?

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Good luck!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016 14:09

Back Pains – Again

One of the most common ailments to result in a GP consultation is low back pain. The cause of this is locked in the history of the development of mankind. You see, when we walked on all fours, we didn’t get low back pains at all, because our spines were designed to be horizontal and weight was carried on the back, just like a horse does today. The design of the vertebrae is such that the spine ‘locks’ to be able to bear weight.

Now, here’s where it all went wrong. We decided we looked much better standing upright and we could walk much quicker using our hind legs only. This meant that our spine was now vertical and we could bend it backwards and forwards. Backwards and the bones all locked together again, but forwards and the vertebrae unlock making the spine unstable.

The next factor was we began to try and lift weights in this new upright position. We bent forwards (unstable) and lifted items like that. The era of low back pains had arrived.

I was reminded about back problems when I experienced an acute lower back pain myself last weekend. The symptoms were classical and the ones we meet so frequently. I had been bending over, wrapping tape around the garden hose, and suddenly I was frozen in position.

As an aside, I was once called out to a factory toilet where the chap was bent over the urinal, and too afraid to move, the pain was so acute. And this was very much like what happened to me! Let me assure you that the condition can be crippling and not “cute” in any way.

Let’s begin then with the “slipped disc” problem. First thing – discs do not “slip”. They do not shoot out of the spaces between the vertebrae and produce pain that way. The disc actually stays exactly where it is, but the center of the disc (called the nucleus) pops out forwards through the edge of the disc and hits the nerve root. When this happens you have a very painful condition, as anyone who has had a disc prolapse will tell you. Think of the pain when the dentist starts drilling close to the tiny nerve in your tooth. Well, the sciatic nerve is a large nerve! When the nucleus of the disc hits the sciatic nerve, this produces the condition known as Sciatica - an acute searing pain which can run from the buttocks, down the legs, even all the way through to the toes.

To accurately work out just what is happening requires bringing in those specialist doctors who can carry out extremely intricate forms of X-Rays called CT Scans, Spiral CT’s or MRI that will sort out whether it is a disc prolapse, arthritis or another soft tissue problem. The equipment to do these procedures costs millions of baht, and the expertise to use them takes years of practice and experience. This is one reason why some of these investigations can be expensive.

After the definitive diagnosis of your back condition has been made, then appropriate treatment can be instituted. The forms of treatment can be just simply rest and some analgesics (pain killers), physiotherapy, operative intervention or anti-inflammatories and traction.

Now perhaps you can see why it is important to find the real cause for your aching back, as well as standing erect. The treatment for some causes can be the wrong form of therapy for some of the other causes. You can see the danger of “self diagnosis” here. Beware!

So what do you do when you get a painful back? Rest and paracetamol is a safe way to begin. If it settles quickly, then just be a little careful with lifting and twisting for a couple of weeks and get on with your life as normal. Might even be a good idea to miss the next couple of golf games. If, however, you are still in trouble after a couple of days rest, then it is time to see your doctor and get that definitive diagnosis. You have been warned! There is a branch of the Bangkok Spine Academy in my hospital.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016 12:46

AFG completes a successful year

The Automotive Focus Group (AFG) held their AGM during January 2016, recording another very successful year, despite downturns in some sections of the auto industry.

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