Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The cost of mobility

Its amazing how owning a set of wheels can liberate you.

Personal transport comes with a freedom that allows you to spread your wings and fly, not quite literaly, but even if it was, the cost of ownership keeps you chained firmly to the ground.
Just the normal wear and tear, from tyres to oil and filters is a continuous drain not to mention the ever escalating fuel price.

Its almost like having another member of the family that you need to feed and house and clothe, then there are those horrific medical bills when things go wrong.

My vehicle insurance on two vehicles combined with the annual vehicle licence fee is almost the equivalent of my medical insurance for a family of four.

Freedom has a price, is it worth it?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The fastest just got faster

Bugatti Veyron with a top speed of 253 mph in 2005 was the fastest production car in the world, it conceded the record in October 2007 by the Aero SSC at 257 mph. The 2011 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport has just regained the title for the Bugatti

2011 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport

During the launch the company flatly denied that the Super Sport was designed to challenge the Aero SSC and was instead built at the request of customers who wanted something a little sportier (The orignal Bugatti was a bit of wet blanket)

 The Company is planning on building between 30 and 40 of the cars, and although this was based on the original the the list of modifications to the Veyron is long and expensive. The car has four fuel pumps,  feeding the larger quad turbochargers compared with the oringinal Veyron's two. A new and louder exhasust system was developed and some engine remapping which has produced a rocket propeling 1,500 Newton-meters (1,103 pound-feet), and peak torque is higher in the rev band. Suspension-wise, the ride height was raised slightly (to accommodate greater high-speed downforce); and the air suspension, half-shafts, links and wheels were lightened, reinforced and laced tighter. The biggest changes were aerodynamic. The Veyron's lovely, roof-mounted air scoops are replaced with so-called NACA ducts. The main grille is larger, and the entire front of the car is more ventilated to provide cooling for brakes and the front Haldex differential. A wild double diffuser has been arranged in the rear.

Price as tested: $2.8 million (est.)

Powertrain: Quad turbocharged and intercooled 8.0-liter, 16-cylinder engine with variable valve timing; seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission; all-wheel drive with limited-slip rear differential.

Horsepower/torque: 1,200 hp at 6,400 rpm/1,106 pound-feet at 3,000-5,000 Length/weight: 175.6 inches/106.7 inches

Curb weight: 4,043.6 pounds

0-62 mph: 2.5 seconds

0-186 mph: 14.6 seconds

Top speed: 268 mph

EPA fuel economy: 9/11 mpg, city/highway (est.)

Cargo space: < 3 cubic feet (est.)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ford Focus RS

Big Brother has arrived. For months the wicked Ford Focus ST has had to put up with bullying from the likes of the VW Golf, but no more.
The Little Brother

The ST's big brother has arrived in the form of the RS and is going to be handing out a solid thumping all round.
The New Blue RS logo

The New Ford Focus RS (Rally Sport) has definitely come to the party with its massive 224kW motor (Up from a 166kW on the ST) and a 0-100km time of 5.9 seconds this is one wicked hatchback.

In its Ultimate Green Skin (Strange name for a colour that looks like a throwback to a sixties party bus) this car will definitely be a head turner even when parked at the pavement. Not that you would be doing that very often.
This is the kind of car that you want to be driving and makes you think about leaving the super bike at home when you head up to Sabie for the weekend. With its cat like sure footedness and its fantastic steering response you can't wait to get into the twisties. For those a little more technically inclined the front is fitted with a RevoKnuckle suspension system that reduces torque steer and allows you to lay all that power down thick and fast and still hold your line.

This is a street legal rally car and it feels like it.

I think it will definately have the potential to be a babe magnet, but I am not sure you want to take it for a drive with a babe next to you screaming for you to slow down the whole time.

Now for the bad news. Only 60 will be coming to SA and they have all been sold.

Looking forward to seeing one of them at the lights next to a STi

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Professional Drivers

How is it that the one profession that people are allowed to not comply with any regulations are drivers? No I am not referring to racing drivers, I am referring to the paid drivers who shuttle people and goods around our country. Drivers who drive branded vehicles which represent the companies they work for.

I was recently driving behind a shuttle company with a big maximum 100 speed sign on the back and at one point we were doing 160km/h. We drove at an average speed of 140km/h for the 30 odd km that I followed him. Now here comes the crux of the matter. Yes we were both speeding, but he is getting paid to drive and so should be complying with the law as one on a building site would have to comply with health and safety regulations.

A builder would be fined/jailed for failing to comply to safety regulations should someone be injured on a site and yet a professional driver does not face the same when causing an accident and injuring someone.

I believe that paid / professional drivers should be more liable when it comes to failure to comply to regulations i.e. they should be fined 3 times the norm for speeding.

Going back to the fact that I was also speeding (and yes it was wrong), the fundamental difference is I was driving a new, well maintained vehicle which cost twice the price of the bus and had ABS, and all the other acronyms that imply safety as apposed to a bus full of people that has non of the above.

Speeding is against the law no matter what you drive. (Just so we are clear).

Check out one of my earlier blogs on this matter Speed Kills

Monday, August 2, 2010

Beauty v Beast

Spent the weekend with a wide selection of off road vehicles and I think in my mind at least I have resolved the answer to the question of soft roader (SUV) versus full 4x4.

There is a ongoing argument as to what defines a Soft Roader v a full 4x4, but for the purposes of this debate a soft roader is a station wagon type vehicle with all wheel drive and slightly raised ground clearance, a 4x4 is a vehicle with all wheel drive and raised suspension and low range.
The long and the short of it is, in general the soft roader is an incredibly competent vehicle.Well deserving of there reputation but (and yes there is a but) these vehicles are superb on the road and more than capable on dirt roads even jeep tracks. However they are severly compromised by their low ground clearance and if they don't have traction control the smaller tires are not sufficient to give traction over very loose terrain. Also if you do take a Soft roader off road there is a good chance of breaking something as the Subaru did on Saturday when it dragged its towbar on the ground.

There is also the power factor, a twenty five year old Toyota Land Cruiser with low range can put down a ton more torque and can brute force its way through tough situations and since its not dragging it's rear or chassis on the ground you are less likely to tap off on the power when hitting the obstacle.

So all in all if your looking to go anywhere in any kind of weather conditions then a real 4x4 is the vehicle for you. However if your the kind of person who leave the beaten track, but still follow the trail on the map then a soft roader is possibly the vehicle for you.

Can you take a soft roader off road? Yes!
Would you want to? No!

Monday, May 17, 2010

4x4 Community Drivers Training Course

I had the pleasure of riding shotgun in a Land Rover Discovery 3 on a informal training course run by the guys at http://www.4x4community.co.za/

What an awesome way to give back to the community and congrats guys on a superb and informative training course.

With a little bit of everything from hill descents and on angle driving to the basics of vehicle recovery, the course managed to show the various drivers how much they still have to learn.

Was superbly impressed with a number of vehicles on the course although the Land Rover stood out in front.

It was the only vehicle that they allowed to stop on the hill and then continue on from a standing start whereas the rest did a controlled reverse descent and then up and over with no stops.

This was a course aimed at novices so there was quite a bit of tension but a lot fun fun was had by all.

I also saw a very clever design for a fridge slider by one of the instructors. If your in the market for one I seriously recomend that you check out this one. More info can be found at http://www.stofpad4x4.co.za/

All in all a great day.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Oil and the Enviroment

Following on my Green Cars Article and the subsequent catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico I have decided to take a stand and show my support for the project below.

Please take the time to read it. Feel free to comment.

No more dangerous drilling

I've just signed an urgent petition at Avaaz.org urging U.S. law-makers to overturn plans to expand offshore drilling. As the latest massive oil spill shows, offshore drilling isn't safe or clean. The world needs clean energy investment to tackle climate, not expansion of dangerous and dirty energy sources. Read more below, or click this link to join me in signing:


Dear friends,

We've all seen the outrageous images: a monstrous oil spill is gushing as much as 2,500,000 gallons of crude a day into the Gulf of Mexico.

Before the spill, U.S. President Obama and Congressional leaders were planning to ramp up offshore drilling. Now, with the spill, the politics have shifted -- and an opportunity has opened for the world's biggest historical climate polluter to shift away from oil and towards climate-safe energy sources.

At a moment like this, when leaders are making up their minds, the world's voices can help tip the balance. Sign the petition urging the U.S. to stop offshore drilling and invest instead in clean renewable energy -- the signatures will be delivered to the White House in Washington DC when we reach 500,000! Click to sign on now and spread the word:


This needless disaster is bringing catastrophe to the land, water, animals, and people in the gulf. The oil has already reached land, contaminating wildlife sanctuaries. Authorities are so concerned about the impacts of more oil reaching land that they are prefer to set the gulf on fire, burning as much of the oil as possible.

Meanwhile, the fossil fuel industry is raking in windfall profits. BP, which operated the sunken rig, more than doubled its first quarter profits in 2010 to $5.65 billion.

For years, the world has waited for the U.S. to step up on climate. But with the carbon lobby's strangle-hold on Washington, we’ve had more drilling in place of stronger investment in cleaner, safer energy sources. It’s time to for a change -- Senator Bill Nelson of Florida has already introduced legislation to repeal plans to expand offshore drilling. Let's back him up with an outpouring of global public outrage. Sign the petition calling on President Obama and Congress to end offshore drilling, and take the US and the world to clean energy future:


With Hope,

Ben, Iain, Alice, David, and the Avaaz team


"Gulf Oil Spill Presents Political Challenges," Washington Post:


"Gulf oil spill washes up on political shores," BBC:


"Black storm rising," The Economist:


"Recovery still incomplete after Exxon Valdez," NY Times:


"Fly your sea turtle flag high: a slippery stew of shrimp, oil, and sea turtles," Huffington Post:


"How much oil has leaked into the Gulf of Mexico?," PBS (source of 2.5m gallons per day figure):