Dr. Iain Corness

Thursday, 18 December 2014 10:55

Aston Martin DB 10 built for Bond

The new DB10 will be seen in the latest Bond movie, called Spectre, and is set for release in November 2015.

As opposed to the previous Aston Martins that were based on the road-going models from the DB Series, the DB 10 has been developed specifically for the film and built in-house by Aston’s design and engineering team.

While the design of the latest Aston was led by the company’s chief creative officer Marek Reichman, Aston said the Bond movie director Sam Mendes was also involved to ensure they created the ultimate car for the world’s most famous spy.

Just 10 examples of the DB10 will be built at Aston’s Gaydon, United Kingdom headquarters.

The company says the DB10 “gives a glimpse” of its future design direction, but it is widely believed it will replace the DB9 in 2016.

The DB10’s design is an evolution of the look of all current Astons, but it carries a number of significant changes when compared with models such as the DB9.

Aston’s trademark grille sits lower and wider and the bonnet line dives to a sharper-looking nose and overhangs are shortened at the front and the rear.

Its headlights feature a slim line design and give a far more modern look to the front of the Aston, and there are deep cut air vents on the side panels between the doors and wheel arches.

The body line found on most Astons running from the rear quarter window to the top of the boot lid remains, but slopes downward to the sleeker rear end, which features new slim line tail-lights not dissimilar to those belonging to Jaguar’s F-Type.

Aston Martin DB 10Aston Martin DB 10

There are no technical details for the car and no images of the cabin have been published, but Aston Martin will likely continue to feed details of the striking sports car to the media in the lead-up to the film’s release late next year.

This year marks 50 years of Aston Martin’s relationship with the 007 franchise which started with the DB5 featured in the 1964 film, Goldfinger.

The DB5 returned for the 1995 Pierce Brosnan-starring Golden Eye, who later drove a V12 Vanquish in 2002’s Die Another Day.

Daniel Craig who took on the role of Bond in 2006’s Casino Royale drove a DBS and a DB5.

Rumors are circulating online that 007 will also be driving a Fiat 500 in the new film, but this is yet to be confirmed by Fiat or the film’s producers.

Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer praised the design and engineering team at the company’s headquarters and highlighted the relationship between Ian Fleming’s iconic character and the British sports car-maker.

“In the same year that we celebrate our 50 year relationship with 007, it seems doubly fitting that today we unveiled this wonderful new sports car created especially for James Bond.

“To be partnering once again with EON Productions is great news for this company and for everyone around the world that loves to see Bond at the wheel of an Aston Martin. I’m incredibly proud of everyone in the team at Gaydon who have brought this special project from concept to reality.”

Thursday, 18 December 2014 10:53

New Mercedes GLE Coupe SUV challenges BMW X6

Mercedes-Benz has now shown its first SUV-Coupe model, the GLE Coupe. Revealed at the Beijing motor show as a concept, the production model hasn’t strayed far from the show car’s unique and futuristic design.

Thursday, 18 December 2014 10:52

Honda looks like sealing Takata’s fate

With the ongoing saga of exploding Takata air bags, to add to Takata’s problems, Honda Motor Co. said it will expand a nationwide recall of driver-side air bags that will add another 3.2 million vehicles to the callback.

Honda has confirmed the number. In total, 10 automakers have now recalled nearly 11 million vehicles since 2013 for air bags that may rupture.

Inflators in the Takata bags can explode and shoot metal shrapnel at drivers and passengers. At least four people in Hondas have been killed and 30 injured in the U.S., mostly in high-humidity areas such as Florida.

Honda said this week it would work with two other major suppliers - Autoliv and Daicel - to ramp up production to meet growing demand for replacement parts.

“Why are we doing this? Because our customers have concerns and we want to address them,” Rick Schostek, an executive vice president at Honda North America, told an American House subcommittee.

The big expansion raises questions about how long it will take Honda and other automakers to receive enough parts to fix all of the vehicles.

Defiant Takata Corp. refused to extend a recall of driver-side air bags, despite a demand by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Most recalls have been regional to date, limited to hot and humid places such as Florida and Hawaii, where most of the exploding air bags have been reported. Hiroshi Shimizu, Takata’s senior vice president of global quality assurance, told the House subcommittee the scientific evidence “doesn’t support a change from regional recall to national recall.”

He admitted the company still does not know the root cause of the problems but believes they are linked to long-term exposure to high humidity. NHTSA and automakers still don’t know if the replacement air bags could develop the same problem in five or 10 years - or if the chemical propellant used by Takata is part of the problem.

Last week, NHTSA formally demanded Takata declare that millions of vehicles sold with driver-side air bags nationwide are defective, the first step toward forcing the company to recall the vehicles. NHTSA has not sought a nationwide recall of passenger-side air bags.

Because Takata refused, the next step will be for NHTSA to demand a recall and to schedule a public hearing in which it could hear graphic testimony from people who have been injured. If Takata refuses after the hearing, the agency would have to go to court to enforce the recall demand.

Takata has estimated it could take at least a year or two to produce enough replacement parts even as it ramps up production from 300,000 per month to 450,000 in January.

Jan Carlson, CEO of Autoliv, which is working with Honda to produce replacement, said it would take six months to begin making deliveries of replacements.

“With quality as our first priority, we are assessing the current and upcoming market needs in order to match our delivery capabilities,” said the Swedish auto supplier CEO.

I believe that Takata could very well go to the wall over this unless the cause can be found very soon.

Thursday, 18 December 2014 10:50

Button hangs onto his seat

The annual F1 musical chairs has seen much mutterings, especially at McLaren, with Fernando Alonso having left Ferrari to return to Ron Dennis. However, as McLaren already had two drivers, one had to go. The end result was Magnussen, the new young charger, being pushed sideways into the reserve driver seat, and Button being retained on a one year renewable contract. It will be interesting to see the comparison between Button and Alonso, with most pundits predicting an Alonso superiority. Alonso will definitely be taking home a bigger sack of dollars, with word around the traps being that his salary is over $30 million, whilst Button will have to make do with $6 million, which is half of what he was getting before.

Alonso and ButtonAlonso and Button

Thursday, 18 December 2014 10:49

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I said that the first motorcycle (1896), retractable undercarriage and a car that would jump trenches in the war had something in common. I asked what was it? It was the man George Gauthier who claimed to have invented the motorcycle, pioneered the retractable undercarriage and created the “auto sauteuse”, a jumping car for use in WW1.

So to this week. The Flying Scotsman went from Glasgow to London in eight hours and 21 minutes. In 1931 a car beat the train by 33 minutes. What car, and if you can, the name of the driver?

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, 17 December 2014 15:21

Is it all in your genes? Jeans?

Ever since we managed to crack the genetic code and write down all the genetic sequences, many people think we have got disease licked. Take a peek into your genetic make-up and your (medical) future will be revealed.

After all, look at Angelina Jolie who had a bilateral mastectomy because she has the “breast cancer gene” in her genetic sequencing. Ms Jolie didn’t wait to see if breast cancer was just around the corner, she had an elective mastectomy instead. Was that wise? Or was it a knee-jerk reaction?

One factor that has stopped the majority of people interested in looking at their genetic make-up has been the cost. To do a sequencing cost many thousands of dollars (not baht), but like many items, the costs are going down.

A personal DNA testing kit that gives users an insight into their genetic make-up has gone on sale in the UK. Called the 23andMe Personal Genome Service (PGS) costs around THB 9,000 and claims to offer access to more than 100 pieces of information about a person’s health, ancestry and family traits.

Users spit in a tube, seal it and send it off to be analyzed in a laboratory. After four to six weeks they can log in online to see a detailed report of their results. The kit, which has been part-funded by Google, said the tool is not “diagnostic” but includes results of tests for genes associated with inherited conditions such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia thalassemia).

It also tests for genes that may reveal risk factors for diseases or conditions such as blood clotting, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

In addition to findings about their health, the firm says users can explore the genetics behind why they may be a more frequent smoker, how they metabolize caffeine and their body’s response to diet and exercise. They can see information about the genetic basis of traits such as hair color, freckling, height and hair loss.

The service also includes a “full genetic ancestry report” allowing people to trace their family’s genetic roots and “potentially discover and communicate with new relatives”, according to 23andMe.

The firm says on its website that it is “committed to maintaining the security and confidentiality of your personal information” and has put in place security measures to help protect against the “loss, misuse or alteration of information under our control”. About 10,000 UK-based customers have already paid extra to have the kit delivered from the US.

Is this then a “good thing”? Should we all be lining up to spit in the tube, and the future will be revealed quicker and more accurately than Gypsy Petulengro?

I advocate caution here, because some people who want to know, may actually be the worst custodians of their own selves. You see, just having the Diabetes gene, for example, does not mean that you will definitely get Diabetes. It is better to accept this as having a “tendency” towards Diabetes. So what should you do with this advance knowledge? Regular medical checks and blood sugar testing is called for here.

Now let’s look at the ramifications of the “full genetic ancestry report”. Can you live with the knowledge that your father, whom you look up to and love so dearly may not be your father? And how does this knowledge impinge on your relationship with your mother? In your hunger for knowledge, you might bite off more than you can chew!

Regular readers will know that I support the notion of regular check-ups. I promote these as giving you a heads up on what’s ahead medically. You can plot the rise of blood sugar or cholesterol. You can see annual rises in blood pressure, which can end up as a stroke. You can see changes in serum creatinine, as a measure of kidney function, and evaluate the liver enzymes for early signs of damage. You can look at serum uric acid as a precursor of that painful condition called gout.

A check-up will show you in real time, what is happening, while DNA testing is still a “perhaps” situation.

Turn out the pockets of your jeans, rather than those in your genes.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014 15:05

AFG gets into the Xmas spirit

The Automotive Focus Group (AFG) had a very busy schedule in December as there was the annual kids’ Xmas party, as well as a charity donation to the Father Ray Foundation, and an informative address by Frank Beernaert from EFTEC.

Thursday, 11 December 2014 14:02

Autonomously driven

Most of the major automobile manufacturers have moved on from experimental hybrids to autonomous cars, which will whisk us to our destination with a silent “chauffeur” dealing electronically with all the usual road hazards.

To show just where Mercedes-Benz are in this timeline they demonstrated their Mercedes-Benz S500 Intelligent Drive autonomous prototype, recreating the historic drive of Carl Benz’ wife Bertha.

Thursday, 11 December 2014 14:00

Custom 1939 Rolls Royce Phantom Pick-Up

This 1939 Rolls Royce Phantom (chassis 3DL70) was offered with little information on its eBay listing, but some quick Googling reveals it was recently custom built from a non-running donor car in order to replicate the factory truck Rolls used to deliver finished Merlin V12 aircraft engines during WWII. The quality of work seems to be very good, and note that the bed was donated from a 1930’s Ford pick-up. Find it on eBay in Saint Augustine, Florida for USD 150k OBO.

With RR (BMW in reality) talking about an SUV Roller in 2016, perhaps the pick-up will be the next variant?

The Ultimate Pick-up?The Ultimate Pick-up?

Thursday, 11 December 2014 13:57

Something strange here as well

Spotted out along Siam Country Club Road is this rather large behemoth. American I must assume, and has been given the chop top treatment. Anyone throw some light on the subject?

Wot izzit?Wot izzit?

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