Dr. Iain Corness

Thursday, 11 February 2016 13:13

2 (electric) horses

The Citroen 2CV came from very humble beginnings to become a national icon for France. Whilst now officially dead from Citroen’s point of view, it has been resurrected by Florent Dargnies the CEO of 4 Rous sous 1 Parapluie (4 Wheels under an umbrella) as an electric 2CV.

The origins of the previous humble (very humble) 2CV came from the requirement for a low-priced, rugged “umbrella on four wheels” that would enable four small farmers / peasants to drive 50 kg of farm goods to market at 50 km/h, in clogs and across muddy unpaved roads if necessary. The car would use no more than 3 L of gasoline to travel 100 km. Most famous, was the design brief requirement to be able to drive across a ploughed field while carrying eggs, that the envisaged smallholder customer would be taking to market, without breaking them.

Citroen 2CV.Citroen 2CV.

Production began in earnest after WWII and continued through till 1990 with the early models being completely austere, with a pull-cord starter and a fuel dipstick and only battleship grey paint being available (remember the black Model T Fords). Wipers, electric starters and a fuel gauge all came later.

However, the 2CV has been resurrected as a city car, most likely Paris, where an electric version of the 2CV will be whizzing round the Route Peripherique on the way to the Eiffel Tower.

Thursday, 11 February 2016 13:11

Anti-roll technology for buses

With it would appear, a weekly bus rollover, the powers that be here are pointing the finger at the double-deckers to cut down the road toll. However, in the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has (NHTSA) had it legislated that ESC (Emergency Skid Control) must be fitted to buses.

It was said that Emergency Skid Control (ESC) in buses could reduce rollovers by 84 percent, preventing between 5,300 and 9,600 deaths annually and up to 238,000 injuries a year once all vehicles are equipped with it.

Around 10,000 people a year die in rollover accidents, even though just 3 percent of crashes involve rollovers.

Bus rollover.Bus rollover.

NHTSA noted that two types of stability control systems have been developed for heavy vehicles. A roll stability control system is designed to prevent rollover by decelerating the vehicle using braking and engine torque control, while ESC includes all of the functions of an RSC system plus the ability to mitigate severe oversteer or understeer conditions by automatically applying brake force to help maintain directional control of a vehicle.

Heavy trucks - especially loaded ones - are more likely to rollover because of their higher center-of-gravity height.

The National Transportation Safety Board has urged NHTSA to do more to prevent heavy truck crashes, including requiring adaptive cruise control, collision warning systems, active braking and electronic stability control saying they “hold great promise in reducing accidents.”

NHTSA first proposed the regulation in 2012 but has made changes to the electronic stability tests that vehicles will need to pass in the final rule.

This is the latest action on larger vehicles by the safety agency. NHTSA is also working on regulations to require speed limiters on heavy trucks and is also reviewing underride guards. It is also looking at whether to require vehicle to vehicle communication on heavy trucks - as it plans to do with cars and SUVs.

In 2013, NHTSA finalized long-delayed regulations that will require lap and shoulder seat belts on commercial buses. But the agency decided not to require existing buses to be retrofitted with belts.

NHTSA has debated requiring seat belts on motor coaches since 1977. The new rules will take effect in 2016 on commercial buses that typically travel fixed routes between major cities, to tourist destinations and for other commercial trips.

The rules don’t apply to school buses and don’t affect the 29,000 commercial buses already on U.S. roads. Seat belts also won’t be required on most public transit buses - those with “request-a-stop systems” - but some public intercity buses that act like commercial motor coaches will need belts. NHTSA is also excluding from the rules airport shuttle buses that transport passengers to parking lots or rental car facilities.

Thursday, 11 February 2016 13:09

The Good Old Days

How often do people regret the passing of the Good Old Days? The Rotary Club of Phoenix Pattaya is presenting a Classic Car Show on Saturday February 27 at the Holiday Inn from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. followed by a parade of the Classic cars along Beach Road.

There are different ways of classifying cars in age groups, and my TBX Escort fits in the racing Retro (pre 1985) group. We are planning on being there, but much will depend upon our racing schedule.

If you have any interest in older cars, this will hold much interest for you.

A Classic car.A Classic car.

Thursday, 11 February 2016 13:09

Should manufacturers be in F1?

It was just over one year ago that Automania’s Editor at Large, John Weinthal, died in KL. John had a very keen sense of value, which prompted the following discourse from him. With Renault returning as an F1 team, John’s words are certainly appropriate. I present an edited version here.

“Four of the first eight cars in the final Grand Prix of 2010 were ‘Renault-Powered’; two were called Red Bull and two Renault.

No 2010 F1 cars were called Toyota, Honda or Jaguar although each of these names had some F1 prominence during the past decade, if little success.

Honda quit and its outfit became Brawn which in its first year cleaned up the Manufacturer and Driver Championships. Brawn became Mercedes-Benz for 2010. The new owners shelled out megamoney to come 4th in the Manufacturers’ Championship having spent much of the year explaining the failed efforts of their seven times world champion No. 1 driver who spun himself out of the final race on the first lap and ultimately scored roughly half the points of his junior partner.

Jaguar became Red Bull about 5 years ago and won both titles in 2010.

BMW pulled out of F1 but got a free kick for 2010 when the Ferrari-engined Saubers still had to be referred to as Sauber-BMWs – ain’t F1 a nonsense at times! (A small bottle of correction fluid would have fixed that, but F1 certainly has its head up its A at times – Dr. Iain.)

Toyota quit and refused to share its ball with any of the other kids.

So what?

I’m not sure ‘so what’, but I am coming to believe that F1 is NOT a good medium for car makers, even when they are successful. At best it is probably irrelevant; at worst it can actually damage a reputation. I can find NO evidence that it impacts short-term at least (say five years) on global sales one way or the other.

I think Renault is the best example of this. I find it incredible, in the sense of lacking credibility, that many people, especially the general car buying public, would see any beneficial link - technology or image-wise - between Renault F1 and showroom Renaults.

Renaults are just not perceived as either racy or prestigious, I aver.

I know a tad more about the Malaysian and Australian markets than I know about the rest of the world. Both these countries are fixtures on the F1 calendar. Both have extensive TV and media coverage of the whole F1 season. Both have a solid core of keen followers of F1 who, one might expect, would be seen by many of their family, friends and colleagues as somewhat more knowledgeable about cars than most - the very people to enhance or damage product reputations by word of mouth.

These core folk will have seen Renault rise and fall, but more often than not be successful either directly or as engine-supplier. But Renault has struggled - and that’s being kind - to make any impact, much less money, in either Australia or Malaysia. Renault maintains a marketing presence but the punters seem unimpressed.

I have NEVER seen anyone wearing a Renault cap or anorak!

Renault from my own experience makes some appealing cars, but none that shout “buy me” - a USP is missing almost across the range. The image is akin to Nissan or Seat; above Proton, possibly on a par with Fiat but definitely below VW and most of its brands (Seat and Skoda possibly excepted).

F1 is good for Ferrari without any doubt, but does it help parent company Fiat? Sales figures and ‘image’ would suggest a singular lack of flow on.

In fact, in Australia, apparently the Renault sales and resale values are not high at all. The millions of Euros spent to keep the Renault name ‘up there’ have not been translated into dollars at the Australian cash registers down there.

In fact, it would not surprise me if none of the sponsors could really show a direct flow-on from being involved in motor sport and their core business. Having the letters RBS on a Williams F1 car has not made me feel I should open an account with Scotland’s Royal Bank, nor do I look out for a Petronas fuel station when the needle gets low. My local Caltex is fine, thanks. And Ferrari can keep their ‘Mubadala’, whatever that is.

No, I can see justification for small stakes in motor sport, Asian or anywhere, but it is difficult to see real value in mega dollar sponsorships.

(That was John Weinthal’s impression five years ago now. I am sure he wouldn’t be excited about the name Renault returning to the fold this year. I believe this could be an even more embarrassing 12 months for the French marque than the last one.)

Thursday, 11 February 2016 13:05

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned a special finish for a Grand Prix team in 1914 that was never repeated until 1924 and then again in 1928. Even today, that finish cannot be equaled by the current F1 cars. I asked why? It was because the finishes were a 1-2-3 and current GP regulations only allows two cars per team.

So to this week. Take a look at the Quiz photo. Identify these two cars please! One is easy, the other is not!

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, 10 February 2016 15:41

WHO sounds a warning

The WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan, published a statement on the first meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations.

Dr Chan convened an Emergency Committee, under the International Health Regulations, to gather advice on the severity of the health threat associated with the continuing spread of Zika virus disease in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Committee met in February by teleconference.

In assessing the level of threat, the 18 experts and advisers looked in particular at the strong association, in time and place, between infection with the Zika virus and a rise in detected cases of congenital malformations and neurological complications. The experts agreed that a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven. All agreed on the urgent need to coordinate international efforts to investigate and understand this relationship better.

The experts also considered patterns of recent spread and the broad geographical distribution of mosquito species that can transmit the virus.

The lack of vaccines and rapid and reliable diagnostic tests, and the absence of population immunity in newly affected countries were cited as further causes for concern.

After a review of the evidence, the Committee advised that the recent cluster of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders reported in Brazil, following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014, constitutes an “extraordinary event” and a public health threat to other parts of the world.

In their view, a coordinated international response is needed to minimize the threat in affected countries and reduce the risk of further international spread.

Members of the Committee agreed that the situation meets the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Dr Chan has now declared that the recent cluster of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders reported in Brazil, following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014, constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

A coordinated international response is needed to improve surveillance, the detection of infections, congenital malformations, and neurological complications, to intensify the control of mosquito populations, and to expedite the development of diagnostic tests and vaccines to protect people at risk, especially during pregnancy.

The Committee found no public health justification for restrictions on travel or trade to prevent the spread of Zika virus.

At present, the most important protective measures are the control of mosquito populations and the prevention of mosquito bites in at-risk individuals, especially pregnant women.

This shows the way public health is being monitored in the world by the WHO (World Health Organization) and I commend them for their attention to this latest public health threat, without hysteria, as has sometimes been the case in the past. It certainly does look as if there is an association with this Zika virus and microcephaly (small head).

Zika, usually mild and rarely fatal with symptoms often mistaken for other mosquito-borne viruses such as dengue and chikungunya, has “widespread distribution” across Thailand, according to an article last year in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. But Thailand has only reported one case this year. But that does not mean there has only been one case -

Zika virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the culprit responsible for dengue, yellow fever and other tropical diseases. Since we have not been that successful in combating Aedes aegypti which breeds in standing water (and there has been plenty of water recently), the potential for an epidemic is quite obviously there.

The big problem here, and one where the WHO is sliding down a knife edge, is if the microcephaly issue turns out not to be a Zika effect, the WHO becomes accused of scaremonger tactics for having brought attention to it. If however it is shown to be a vector in the condition, the WHO becomes accused of not giving the world enough of a warning!

Damned if you do and damned if you don’t!

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.

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