Dr. Iain Corness

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 .

Linda Eiksund, the charming host of her eponymous restaurant “Linda’s” held an event to highlight the quality of the ingredients used in her kitchen. This was after a tie-up between the restaurant and Tohkaiya Products, allowing Japanese Executive Chef Katsutoshi (Kato) Ishibashi to present his products and their suitability to Norwegian cooking to a group of mainly Norwegians with notables as celebrated numismatist Jan-Olav Aamlid and comedian, writer, music journalist and radio host Yan Friis.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015 16:11

The Kings of Swing

Many years ago, a very switched on copywriter was aware that HM King Bhumibol of Thailand was a jazz aficionado, a composer and accomplished musician. King Bhumibol had sat in for a jazz session with the late Benny Goodman, and it was too great an opportunity to miss, titling the photograph “The Kings of Swing”.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015 15:46

Smoking in cars? Another risk factor?

I do not like riding in cars where the driver smokes. The smell permeates everything including the roof lining, and the hot embers burn holes in the upholstery. But those are not the real reasons I dislike cigarette smoking in cars.

The real reason was spelled out by Dr Hilary Cass, the President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, who said, “Levels of tobacco smoke in a car can be even higher than in a smoky bar and the effect on children can be serious, with second-hand smoke strongly linked to chest infections, asthma, ear problems and cot deaths. You can’t smoke in public places any more. It’s illegal to inflict your smoke on colleagues at work. So why should you be allowed to inflict it on passengers?”

I think most of the readers of this column know my position on smoking, as I am very much against it, but being a pragmatist, I do not try and push the message too hard with adult smokers. They have heard all the statistics and have made up their own minds. I am not going to do a Joan of Arc over it.

However, it has been known for many years that children in smoking households suffer from more respiratory problems than the children from non-smoking households. “Thorax” the International Journal of Respiratory Medicine stated 12 years ago that “Previous reviews in this series have shown that parental smoking is associated with an increased incidence of acute lower respiratory illnesses, including wheezing illnesses, in the first one or two years of life, but does not increase the risk of sensitization to common aero-allergens, an important risk factor for asthma of later onset. Prevalence surveys of school children suggest that wheeze and diagnosed asthma are more common among children of smoking parents, with a greater increase in risk for more severe definitions of wheeze.”

I think you should just accept that at face value, do your own ‘googling’ if you like, but undoubtedly cigarette smoke and children is not a good mix. With the details that levels of cigarette smoke in closed cars is higher than in smoky bars, this should ring some warning bells.

As I said at the beginning of this article, I do not try and push the message to adult smokers, so please do not give me a barrage of ‘hate mail’. However, if this item about kids and smoking has hit a nerve, here is the truth on stopping smoking. The success rate really hangs on commitment. Leaving aside hypnosis and acupuncture, about which I know very little, but the good books tell me do not enjoy high success rates, let’s look at the other methods. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) gums and sprays make Nicotine available for you in measured doses – much like cigarettes do. You get the craving, you chew the gum. You get the craving, you squirt the spray.

Patches are slightly different. They deliver the Nicotine slowly over a 12 or 24 hour period, supposed to stop the craving before it happens. But often do not. After stabilizing on the NRT it is time to bring the dosage down, which is the next hurdle at which many fall. The end result can be cigarette smoking plus NRT – a potentially fatal combination. In fact, I strongly believe that NRT should only be done under close medical supervision. Too much nicotine can kill too!

So what is the best way? It’s called Cold Turkey. The proof is in the numbers. There has been enough research done and the prime factor is that the quitter has to be committed to the concept of becoming a non-smoker. Doing it (quitting) for somebody else, because you lost a bet, because you are being nagged into it by your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend is doomed to failure, I am afraid. This is something which requires your total commitment. 100 percent all the way.

Cold Turkey demands you stop immediately. Go through any withdrawals. Come out the other side as a non-smoker and you can stay that way for the rest of your life (and your children’s lives).

Thursday, 13 August 2015 12:53

Have your discs slipped lately?

Back pain is one of the commonest orthopedic problems, and the often used terms such as lumbago, sciatica and slipped disc get bandied about at the dinner table. However, an acute bad back is not the sort of condition that you want to chat about. How many people have told you that they have a slipped disc? Would you be one of them? However, would you believe me that nobody actually “slips” a disc?

I was reminded about back problems when I experienced an acute lower back pain myself a few weeks ago. The symptoms were classical and the ones we meet so frequently. The patient is doing something and suddenly everything locks up and they are immobilized, frozen to the spot. 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 exactly 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 (the tower of cotton reels that makes up your spine) and produce pain that way. The disc actually stays exactly where it is, but the center of the disc (called the nucleus) pops out 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 (our fancy name for the “popping out” bit) 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.

Unfortunately, just to make diagnosis a little difficult (if it were all so easy why would we go to Medical School for six years!) you can get sciatica from other reasons as well as prolapsing discs. It may just be soft tissue swelling from strain of the ligaments between the discs, or it could even be a form of arthritis. Another complicating fact is that a strain may only produce enough tissue swelling in around 12 hours after the heavy lifting, so you go to bed OK and wake the next morning incapacitated. And then you have to convince the employer that you did it on his time and not yours.

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. 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. 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.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015 13:16

Bad cars that I should have forgotten

A friend of mine sent me an item about the 10 best cars in the past 50 years, and obviously there would be many different ideas from the enthusiasts. Unfortunately, for many people, they are only guessing, because just how many of the readers have actually driven a Porsche GT3, or even a Porsche Targa?

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