Dr. Iain Corness

Thursday, 30 October 2014 10:37

US GP this weekend

The final three Grands Prix for 2014 are in count down. With double points for the last GP that makes 100 points up for grabs. The only players still left in the game are the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Rosberg. With Hamilton’s current form, he has to be the favorite, but with 100 points lying on the table, anything could happen.

Thursday, 30 October 2014 10:34

Tesla’s extended warranty

Long warranties are becoming the name of the automotive game these days. Hyundai in Australia is now offering a seven year warranty - brave? Foolhardy? Or just complete confidence in the product?

Thursday, 30 October 2014 10:32

How to recognize a “classic”

There is always debate on what makes for a “classic” motor car.

A couple of years back I was approached by someone trying to work out how many classics there were down here in fun-town Pattaya. My reply was, “Not many” as you very rarely see any vehicle with classic history or pedigree sitting at the side of the road, and a quick query amongst the monthly car club natter night enthusiasts revealed that very few of them owned anything which, in my opinion, were classics. The Honda Jazz, whilst being a great little car, is hardly a classic!

Caterham 7.Caterham 7.

For me, a classic is a car which has had significant impact on motoring history. It is also a vehicle which has been out of production for a number of years, so that the manufacturer’s advertizing claims and slogans have been forgotten. “Safety Fast” was on all the brochures about MG cars, but when you think about it, very few were ‘fast’ and even fewer were ‘safe’.

I believe there is a tendency in countries such as Thailand to confuse ‘old’ and ‘classic’. For example, Fiat must have sold very well in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s judging by the number of battered old Fiat 1100’s that are still around. Some of these are now half a century old - but does that make them a ‘classic’?

MGB’s were a very successful mass-produced sports car that brought open-top motoring to the masses in a way that the Triumph TR series did not. So according to my definition fit into the classic category. However, what do you make of this MGB? Goes nicely, but doesn’t quite sound the part. Why? Because it has a Toyota Corolla engine in it too. Can we call this MGB/Corolla a classic? I know what I think, what do you think?

My feeling is this, if we allow this in as a classic, then we have to allow anything that looks like a classic in to the category. Bugatti T35’s built on a VW platform spring to mind immediately, but we don’t have to go that exotic. What about the thousands of 351 Cobra replicas? A 351 Cobra is most certainly a classic, but is a ‘new’ one a classic too?

Another classic that has spawned whole generations of clones is the Lotus 7, and in particular, the Super 7. An instantly recognizable vehicle which has influenced automotive design for 40 years. According to any definition, the Super 7 has to be a classic. But what about the Caterham? A newer and better Super 7 without a doubt, but it is a copy of the original design. Can we call it a classic too?

Unfortunately we haven’t got many Caterhams or Cobra replicas down here, so the debate continues but quietly. However, let me loose in a Caterham/Cobra at the Prince Bira circuit and it won’t be quietly, I can assure you!

For interest, here are some of my entries for a classic car category: 1973 Porsche RS Carrera (the forerunner of the ultimate Porsches), 1964 Mustang 289 V8 (the first of the really powerful Mustangs), 1966 Morris Cooper S (the first of the mass market pocket rockets), 1946 MG TC (first introduced sports cars for the masses to America - but ‘safety fast’?), 1958 Ferrari LM 250 (what a shape, what a noise, what a car), 1936 Cord 810 (classic Gordon Buerhig design with the coffin nose and hydraulic shifter), 1931 Mercedes SSKL (the first road car you could race and win) and the 1955 Citroen 2CV complete with canvas seats (First car made from roofing iron!).

Of course there’s lots more, but there are not too many in Thailand, I’m afraid (though there used to be a V8 Tatra in Chiang Mai).

The latest figures from our local auto industry are not encouraging. The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) has reported that the Year On Year figures for September showed a fall of 15.6 percent.

Domestic car sales fell by almost 28 percent, reflecting the general downturn in the community coffers. Exports also fell in that 12 month period by 18 percent.

Some of the reasons put forward by the FTI include lower farm prices, weak domestic consumption, tightening up of loan criteria, poor economic outlook of neighboring ASEAN countries, a decreased demand for pick-ups in Australia and increased competition from cheaper Eastern European vehicles, coupled with a very slow global economic recovery.

It would look that the Thai auto manufacturing industry will need to promote the products very heavily in the ASEAN group, in the hope that the institution of the AEC will stimulate their economies.

Thursday, 30 October 2014 10:30

But on the other side of the coin

News just to hand from the Thai Board of Investment (BOI), five manufacturers have been given the nod to progress with the eco 2 program. These include Ford and GM, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Toyota. Notably the future presence of VW that everyone though would be producing a Polo sized light car for the eco 2, is not mentioned.

Thailand aims to achieve annual motor vehicle production of three millions units by 2015. The projects announced under the eco 2 program so far are expected to add a further 800,000 vehicles from 2019.

The five manufacturers receive tax concessions in return for the commitment to invest in expanded manufacturing facilities in Thailand.

Ford and GM’s investment plans are for about THB 1.8 Bn and THB 1.2 Bn respectively.

According to the Thai BOI announcement, Ford plans to boost the output of its Rayong manufacturing plant by 180,000 vehicles a year, while also adding production capacity for 2000 engines a year.

Ford already builds products such as the Fiesta, Focus, Ranger and - soon - Everest SUV in Thailand, exporting them to Australia and other countries.

The third-generation Ford Ka five-door hatch and four-door sedan that went into production in Brazil earlier this year could be a prospect for the new Ford plant, with speculations that Ka production will be extended to Thailand, China and India.

So, despite the FTI gloom, doom and disaster, the big players look to making hay while the sun still shines.

Thursday, 30 October 2014 10:28

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what car is this? It was the Lightburn Zeta “sports”.

So to this week. When we pull up at the traffic lights, why should we remember Herbert Frood?

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 .

Quiz car.Quiz car.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014 16:31

Henry Heimlich and you

My daughter choked on a steak sandwich last week. Sitting opposite me she gave a muffled sound and looked as if she were about to vomit, then quite panicked, managed with her fingers to dislodge a large chunk of partially chewed steak, before I could rush round the table and administer First Aid. It was a frightening experience for her. And for her father!

Some fairly famous names have gone before her in the choking situation. Tennessee Williams, the playwright, died after choking on a bottle cap.

An urban legend states that obese singer Mama Cass choked to death on a ham sandwich. This theory arose out of a quickly discarded speculation by the coroner, who noted a partly eaten ham sandwich and figured she may have choked to death. In fact, she died of a heart condition, often wrongly referred to in the media as heart failure.

Queen Elizabeth The British Queen Mother notably experienced three major choking incidents where a fish bone became lodged in her throat: initially on 21 November 1982, when she was taken from Royal Lodge to the King Edward VII Hospital for an operation at 3am; secondly in August 1986 at Balmoral, when she was taken to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, though no operation was needed that time; and in May 1993, when she was admitted to the Aberdeen Infirmary once again for an operation under general anesthetic.

And for a bit of real life/Hollywood drama, Dr. Royce Johnson performed an emergency tracheostomy on Pauline Larwood (Bakersfield California resident) at “The Mark” a local restaurant. Pauline was choking on her steak when Bo Fernandez, General Manager / Executive Chef at The Mark said, “She’s choking! She’s choking!” After attempting the Heimlich maneuver Dr. Johnson made an incision on Larwood’s throat and inserted the casing of a ballpoint pen into her trachea. Larwood was then rushed to a local hospital and was further treated, but the biro pen case was enough to give her an airway. For those who follow movies, the biro pen was used in James Thurber’s The Secret Lives of Walter Mitty, ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa.

So what do you do when someone is choking? The following comes from the Mayo Clinic. Choking occurs when a foreign object becomes lodged in the throat or windpipe, blocking the flow of air. In adults, a piece of food often is the culprit. Young children often swallow small objects. Because choking cuts off oxygen to the brain, administer first aid as quickly as possible.

The universal sign for choking is hands clutched to the throat. If the person doesn’t give the signal, look for these indications:

Inability to talk

Difficulty breathing or noisy breathing

Inability to cough forcefully

Skin, lips and nails turning blue or dusky

Loss of consciousness

If choking is occurring, the Red Cross recommends a “five-and-five” approach to delivering first aid:

Give five back blows. First, deliver five back blows between the person’s shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.

Give five abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver).

Alternate between five blows and five thrusts until the blockage is dislodged.

The American Heart Association doesn’t teach the back blow technique, only the abdominal thrust procedures. It’s OK not to use back blows, if you haven’t learned the technique. Both approaches are acceptable.

To perform abdominal thrusts (Heimlich maneuver) on someone else:

Stand behind the person. Wrap your arms around the waist. Tip the person forward slightly.

Make a fist with one hand. Position it slightly above the person’s navel. Grasp the fist with the other hand. Press hard into the abdomen with a quick, upward thrust - as if trying to lift the person up.

Perform a total of 5 abdominal thrusts, if needed. If the blockage still isn’t dislodged, repeat the five-and-five cycle.

In addition to the above recommendation from the Mayo Clinic, I would suggest that at all times you should be looking for signs that the person is not getting enough oxygen, and it may be necessary to institute CPR and ring for an ambulance.

If the person becomes unconscious, perform a sweep of the mouth to attempt to dislodge the object, being careful not to push it further into the airway.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 17:24

Tesla’s Electrorocket

Tesla Motors has unveiled an all-wheel-drive (AWD) version of its Model S sedan, returning staggering performance from the all-electric drive train.

The Model S is a rear-wheel-drive car, which has hurt sales in snowier European and American climates. The new ‘D’ variant from Tesla adds a second motor to power the front wheels that produces acceleration figures of 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds, absolutely in supercar territory.

Tesla STesla S

The new AWD version has a top speed of around 250 kph, compared with 210 kph for the current version. Elon Musk described the modes available with the car as luxury, sport and “insane.”

Paint us keen.

There are new autonomous features that can detect red lights, stop signs and pedestrians so it can stop accordingly. The radar that detects it can work through fog, rain and snow between speeds of 8 kph and 240 kph, though what is the driver doing at 240 kph in poor visibility!

Another autonomous feature is Self-Park allowing you to step out of the car when you get home and it will park itself in the garage on its own. It can also connect to your digital calendar and be waiting for you when it knows it is needed.

Though already breaking cover with this variant, dates of availability and the price have not been revealed.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 17:22

Wottle she do?

Anyone who drives any sort of performance car will have been asked “Wottle she do, Mister?” Welcome to the Texas Mile.

The Texas mile has been held each March and October at the Goliad airstrip since 2003 and it has now attracted a national following and a global reputation for beckoning the man on the street to “Drive in Your World, Race in Ours!”

Students from the University of New South Wales have designed and built a solar powered electric vehicle which recently set a new world speed record for vehicles of its type.

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