Dr. Iain Corness

Friday, 28 August 2015 09:23

The Landy’s swansong

Production of the Land Rover Defender will end in October after almost 70 years of continuous construction, with more than 2 million vehicles produced over the years.

Well we learned by the Saturday that Lewis Hamilton was in a class by himself, and we also learned that the FIA are a bunch of numbskulls.

After Qualifying, with Hamilton almost half a second in front of his second placed team mate Nico Rosberg, it reminded me of the way Schumacher could stamp his authority on a race. Half a second is a long way in F1. From pole he just ran away and hid.

However, the FIA, the keeper of the rules of racing, managed to decree that Alonso and Button in the underperforming McLarens were to be penalized 105 grid places for the Sunday. Legislating a 105 grid spots penalty in a 20 grid field is quite silly. This was for changing engines, but this shows that the rule is also silly. Is this beyond the FIA’s collective intelligence? Words fail me (and that’s a rare occurrence).

It is of interest to look at some other penalties meted out at Spa. Grosjean (“Lotus”) was given a five-place grid penalty for changing a gearbox. Button was given a total of 50 grid place penalties for changing various elements of the power unit. Alonso was given a total of 55 grid place penalties for changing various elements of his power unit. Verstappen (Toro Rosso) was given a 10-place grid penalty for using a sixth power unit. Raikkonen (Ferrari) was given a five-place grid penalty for changing a gearbox. Can some extremely clever person tell me why? You break something and you replace it with a non-broken one. You have already had a penalty, missing some practice running or qualifying. Just what is so heinous about changing broken bits other than a very contrived plan to mix up the racing?

So to the race, which was boring, though some scribes are already talking it up to try and avert the slide in popularity experienced by F1. It was won by Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes with team mate Rosberg behind him. The also-rans came home some 30 seconds or so later, with Grosjean leading the rest or I should say those that were still running.

Hamilton was his usual modest self, saying, “In 2015 my qualifying has been awesome, and after the break I really wanted to get back to it and translate those poles into strong results.”

After Qualifying in third Valtteri Bottas (Williams) took a distant ninth in the race after his team managed to fit three soft Pirelli tyres and one medium one to his FW37 after his pit stop on the eighth lap, earning him a drive through penalty. Why? So the crew stuffed up, but that’s no reason for a penalty.

While still on tyres, Ferrari gambled on Vettel’s tyres going the distance. Three did, but driver side rear didn’t with one lap to go. Initially everyone was sympathetic. Initially, until he started mouthing off, “Things like that are not allowed to happen,” he told the BBC. “I tell you what’s upsetting. What’s upsetting for one thing is the result. We deserved to finish on the podium.” The lower lip was well and truly out.

So Grosjean got the popular vote and then waxed lyrical about being a father, but the racing was devoid of interest. The race may not have actually been as boring as it looked, as the TV coverage was very poor, the director apparently unable to provide continuity but giving the viewer snippets.

All in all, quite disappointing. Let us hope Monza next week will be better.

Friday, 28 August 2015 09:21

USD 9-12 million for a Jaguar?

It would have to be a very special Jaguar to command that kind of money, and Sotheby’s are confident this Lightweight C-Type will bring in that kind of money.

In just six weeks, Jaguar produced the XK120C, later called the C-type, which used modified mechanicals from the XK120 in a tubular steel space frame, covered in a wind-cheating aluminum body styled by Malcolm Sayer. Only three works C-type Lightweights were ever constructed, and one of those cars, chassis XKC 052, is the one to be offered at Sotheby’s Monterey sale.

XKC 052.XKC 052.

The Jaguar set numerous benchmarks in the process, including a lap record of 105.232 MPH, a 24 hour speed record of 93.495 MPH; and an event distance record of 2,243.886 miles to win Le Mans in 1951.

For 1953, Jaguar produced a new version of the C-type, fitted with a lightweight aluminum body crafted from thinner panels than the original, a lighter tubular steel space frame, a rubber fuel bladder and a more powerful 3.4 liter engine. A new cylinder head was fitted, a higher-lift camshaft was added, and the original pair of SU H8 carburetors were replaced by three 40 mm Webers. The net result was boost in horsepower from 200 to roughly 220, and with the C-type Lightweight’s use of disc brakes in all four corners, providing better braking.

In 1953 XKC’s were first and second at Le Mans and XKC 052, driven by Peter Whitehead and Ian Stewart (and the car to be offered by Sotheby’s) was fourth. At the end of the 1953 season, XKC 052 was rebuilt to Le Mans specifications and sold to the Ecurie Ecosse. As an Ecurie Ecosse entry (Border Reivers), the C-type Lightweight enjoyed success at the hands of drivers like Jimmy Stewart (older brother of Jackie Stewart), Roy Salvadori and Ninian Sanderson. By the end of 1954, XKC 052 had delivered eight wins, four seconds, four thirds and three fourth-place finishes for Ecurie Ecosse, (and some of those successes I watched as a school boy at the Charterhall circuit).

In 1971 the C-type Lightweight was bought by collector Martin Morris, who kept it for 30 years, and oversaw another restoration in 1986.

In 2000, XKC 052 was sold to an American collector, who returned it to its 1953 Le Mans mechanical specifications and in Ecurie Ecosse livery. Great care was taken to replicate the original body as closely as possible. Since the work was completed, the C-type Lightweight has been exhibited at venues like the Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance.

Definitely a car with an amazing history – but USD 9 million? I’m not so sure! And it is a bit like grandfather’s axe.

Friday, 28 August 2015 09:19

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what notable feature did the original Fiat 500 have in common with the 1961 Lincoln Continental? An easy one this week. They both had ‘suicide’ doors (hung from the B pillar, not the A pillar).

So to this week. A Dutch rally was won three times by whom in 1949, 50 and 52?

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 .

Wednesday, 26 August 2015 15:38

Test results

This morning I bumped into a delightful chap in the foyer of my hospital. He started to tell me about his blood test results and was slightly perplexed when I asked him exactly which tests did he have done. “The usual ones I have done every six months.”

It was then I explained that there are many, many tests. The Australian Royal College of Pathologist’s Manual of Use and Interpretation of Pathology Tests that sits on my desk lists 150 pages of tests that can be carried out. These include such items as a Reptilase Time, something I have never requested in 40 years of practice, or a red cell Galactokinase ditto.

You see, your ‘usual’ blood tests do not test for “everything”. No, when we send you off for a blood test, we have to try and be reasonably specific, and sometimes even have to give the pathologists a clue as to where we are heading, and be guided by them as to some specific testing.

However, many times we are really just casting a ‘wide net’ to see what abnormalities we can turn up to use as a pointer towards the definitive diagnosis. One of the commonest is the “Complete Blood Count”, usually called a CBC, since we medico’s love acronyms, but remember this testing is in reality very far from “complete”.

The CBC does provide important information about the kinds and numbers of cells in the blood: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. A CBC can help us evaluate symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, or bruising and even directly diagnose conditions such as anemia, infection, and many other disorders.

The CBC test usually includes the white blood cell (WBC) count as these cells protect the body against infection. If an infection develops, white blood cells attack and destroy the bacteria, virus, or other organism causing it. White blood cells are bigger than red blood cells and normally fewer in number. When a person has a bacterial infection, the number of white cells can increase dramatically. There are five major kinds of white blood cells: neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils. The numbers of each one of these types of white blood cells give important information about the immune system. An increase or decrease in the numbers of the different types of white blood cells can help identify infection, an allergic or toxic reaction to certain medications or chemicals, and many conditions (such as leukemia).

The red blood cell (RBC) count is also part of the CBC. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. They also help carry carbon dioxide back to the lungs so it can be exhaled. The red blood cell count shows the number of red blood cells in a sample of blood. If the RBC count is low, the body may not be getting the oxygen it needs. If the count is too high (a condition called polycythemia), there is a risk that the red blood cells will clump together and block blood vessels (thrombosis).

Another part is the Hematocrit (HCT). This test measures the amount of space (volume) red blood cells occupy in the blood. The value is given as a percentage of red blood cells in a volume of blood. For example, a hematocrit of 38 means that 38 percent of the blood’s volume is composed of red cells.

Hemoglobin (Hb). Hemoglobin is the substance in a red blood cell that carries the oxygen. The hemoglobin level is a good indication of the blood’s ability to carry oxygen throughout the body.

There is also the Platelet (thrombocyte) count, which is an important part of the CBC. Platelets are the smallest type of blood cell and play a major role in blood clotting. If there are too few platelets, uncontrolled bleeding may be a problem, such as occurs in Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever.

So while CBC does test for many factors, there are still another 149 pages of tests that can be done! If you want to know your blood group, or your HIV status, you have to ask! And males over 50 should look at serial prostate blood tests too.

Finally get your doctor to explain the significance of the tests!

Thursday, 20 August 2015 08:48

Spa this weekend

After the mid-year break, the F1 circus starts again, with this weekend’s race at Spa in Belgium. F1 returns to one of the best tracks on the calendar – Spa Francorchamps, a circuit that everyone enjoys (are you listening, Bernie).

I have been very lucky to receive several issues of “The Automobile” magazine from an enthusiast here. The publisher is Douglas Blain, a man who owns a Pegaso Z102. He is a true enthusiast.

And it is apparent that there are many true enthusiasts in the UK. The magazine has adverts offering classics, true classics, and my 20 year old Daihatsu Mira doesn’t quite make the cut.

A one page advert from the Tom Hardman company has:

1926 Austin 7 Burghley

1926 Humber 12/25

1927 Alvis 12/50

1929 Lancia Lambda

1932 Wolseley Hornet

1933 Alvis Firefly

1934 Lagonda Rapier Le Mans

1935 Riley Imp

1935 Riley Falcon

1935 MG Bellevue Monoposto

These ranged in price between GBP 21,000 to GBP 78,000, and there are pages and pages of advertisers, all with cars around 80 years of age. Will a Toyota Fortuna ever become a collectors item? I think not, even if you put one in a hermetically sealed chamber to be opened in 2095 and leave it to your grandchildren in your will. It would never be advertised like the 1934 Lagonda as being “perfect for European tours with its ample luggage space. A very usable Lagonda Rapier with an extremely attractive price.” And the extremely attractive price? Try GBP 57,000. That’s around three million Thai baht.

We will never see anything like that in Thailand. The most “exotic” car for sale in the Pattaya Mail recently has been a 2002 BMW 525i with the owner wanting 440,000 baht.

No, sometimes Thailand is not the best place to be. Especially if you are an enthusiast.

Thursday, 20 August 2015 08:44

It’s been a great month for nostalgia!

After making contact with a chap in Australia who is rebuilding the Mk1 Ford Escort I built in 1980, the MG owners would be interested in the MGB I built in 1969. This racing MGB became known as “Super Bee”.

Thursday, 20 August 2015 08:43

Rosso Corsa no longer Ferrari number 1

Ferrari racing cars have traditionally been painted bright red in a shade known as Rosso Corsa, often referred to as “Ferrari Red”.

However, the trend now is for silver and grey, with bright custom colors and a growing number of matt choices, even at Ferrari.

Ferrari has revealed the first pictures of its new hero car, the 488 Spider - presented in a light silvery blue instead of Rosso Corsa. (There currently is confusion as to whether this new model is a “spider or a “spyder”.)

A blue Ferrari.A blue Ferrari.

According to the Ferrari agent Herbert Appleroth in Australia, “We have seen a big shift to white and black, and there is also a large trend to specific matt colours. Red is still strong but not like it was. Rosso Corsa is now about 35 percent of our cars. Traditionally the V8 sports cars have been very strong in red. The California was the first model that changed a lot, with metallics. Grey, or different tones of silver, are more popular in the V12 cars, the F12 and FF. People are going more conservative with the GT models and being a bit more brave, and going away from red, in the sports cars. We’re now seeing 65 percent of our cars in grey or silver.”

The new Ferrari has the 4.9 liter V8 and the factory claims a zero to 100 km/h time of 3.0 seconds. While the acceleration figures may be fast, delivery of the new Ferrari is currently out to 18 months.

Thursday, 20 August 2015 08:42

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what cars is this? It could do 200 mph and had an eight cylinder in-line engine of 5,660 cc which developed 646 BHP at 5,800 RPM, independent double wishbone front suspension with 19 x 4.5 tyres on the front and 22 x 7 rears. That’s more than enough to be getting along with. It was the 1937 Mercedes-Benz W 125. Imagine driving one of those in the wet with something akin to bicycle tyres!

So to this week. What notable feature did the original Fiat 500 have in common with the 1961 Lincoln Continental?

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 .

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