Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Coming Arosa ClassicCar - Sept 9 to 12, 2010

In roughly 10 days this year's Arosa ClassicCar 2010 will going to attract again many classic car fans and an impressive list of participant cars. It's somewhat the Nurburgring of the Alps, in a hillclimb setup. Have a look at the advertisement and you can spot the black JWF Milano GT (right side) being entered again this year! Hopefully the weather will be as nice as last year of better!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

British Car Meeting in Mollis - Riley, Connaught and many others

One of the biggest car meetings in Switzerland every year is the British Car Meeting in Mollis (Glarus). Situated at an airport it offers both the drivers/owners and the spectators an overview on basically any car ever produced in Britain. This years guest of honor was Riley and it was quite a gathering of (mostly post war) Rileys, rarely seen here. But whatever you are interested in concerning British cars, you probably would have been able to spot one - Lotus, TVR, Nash, Hillman, Vauxhall, Triumph, MG, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston-Martin, Rover, Land-Rover, Jaguar, Morris, etc. they all were there, about 1'300-1'500 of them. And, probably for the first time ever, the brand new Connaught V10 GT was shown in Switzerland, as a protoype. The weather was perfect, not too warm so that most cars even survived some queuing at the entrance, sunny and dry. See you again, next year, same time!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

New Lotus Evora S - is this the Evora we dreamt for?

Finally Lotus revealed details about the coming Lotus Evora S (presented at Paris Auto show soon). It comes with 350 hp and active exhaust, meaning it will provide the noise we tunnel addicts usually go for. And of course it will show better performance. It's still heavy however and compared to other super sportscars is still underpowered and fairly heavy, a Corvette brings 500 hp and more at roughly the same weight. Here's what Lotus gives as performance data:
0-100 km/h: 4.8 s, power output 350 hp / 257.5 kW @ 7000 rpm, max torque 400 Nm / 295 lb ft @ 4500 rpm, maximum speed 172 mph, fuel consumption - urban 14.5 l/100km, extra urban 7.4 l/100km, combined 10.0l/100km, CO2 Emissions 235 g/km.
Not bad, but good enough? It all depends on the price ....

Friday, August 27, 2010

Parking with classic cars is really much easier!

It's now official! Auto Motor and Sport compared a range of cars including the Volkswagen Touran, Mercedes E-Series Convertible, Toyota Prius, BMW 5-Series Station Wagon and a number of others in how easy it is to park them. They measured how much you can see from the driver position, how big the car is, how easy it gets into a 5.5 m parking spot and a number of other criterias and they also looked at the electronic gizmo to help with parking. Well, the winner is, the BMW 3-series E30 limousine from the 80ies. It actually has beaten the modern cars by a factor, thanks to the smaller body, the great 360 degree view and the fact that you can actually see the end of the car when you sit in it. Despite the fact that none of the modern accessories was on board, i.e. park distance control, parking assistance, cameras, etc., the people at AMS found it much easier to park this car compared to the modern rivals. I am really happy that they brought in this 80ies benchmark when comparing the modern cars, as this now so transparently shows how cars got worse along these criteria over time. Of course there are reasons, why modern cars are as they are, one being safety. But even with today's standards cars could have larger windows and better visibility today, if the designers didn't think differently.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It's not easy to make money by investing in cars, but it's possible

One of the most often read blog posts on "driving philosopher" is talking about today's investment opportunities in the automobile space. 10 cars are presented that have good chances of gaining in value. There's something to say however. Gaining in value isn't enough to be a worthwhile investment if the only objective is to make money. The chart here shows a very simple model. Assume you buy a car at € 20'000, 30'000.- or 500'000. Assume it will gain 10% in value every year over twenty years. Assume you spend some money to keep the car road worthy and properly stored and insured. At the end of the period your total gain was € 14'318 if you bought a € 20'000 car. This means you average interest rate per year was 3.6% if you kept the car for so long. But only after 17 years you actually are in the positive zone. Before that you lost money. What this chart also says is that it's easier to make money with more expensive cars. The reason is that maintenance and storage don't influence the figures as much as with less expensive cars. But, very few cars really gain 10% in value very year. It probably has been true for a Lamborghini Miura, few Ferraris and some rare racing and sports cars. But the well loved Mercedes 280 SL Pagoda (R113) for example gained only 30-40% in the last ten years, so less than 4% per annum. So this is a tricky business. Anyway, I stick with my argument mentioned earlier, buy your car because you like it and love to drive it, take any money you win with it as an expected up-sight.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

From the RAID Prolog in Zurich

Accidentally I ran into the opening ceremony of this year's RAID Prolog in Zurich today. It's refreshing to see so many classic cars in the center of Zurich where usually only 2010 Mercedes and Porsche drive around. Already in the morning the cars gathered at the Burkliplatz were impressive with Alpine A110, Lancia Flaminia, Facel Facellia, Alfa-Romeo Giulia SS, collections of Jaguar XK and E-Types, Porsche 356 and 914 and even a Citroen DS transporter with a Dino 246 GT loaded. If you want my opinion, they could do this every day!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Highlight - World Sportscars Master race at this year's AVD Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nurburgring

One of the highlights in this year's AVD Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nurburgring was the World Sportscars Master race showcasing a number of Porsche 904, 906, 907 and 908, as well as many variations of Ford GT40, Lola T70 and Chevron B8/B16. What a sound! And how beautiful the cars of that age were! Have a look yourself and enjoy the movie!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Picture of the Week - Chevrolet Impala

There are cars I would never consider purchasing. Like this one, it's a Chevrolet Impala. It's huge, it's amazing. I do admire it and I can understand that many people fancy such cars. But it wouldn't fit my garage and neither my driving style. But that's the good thing about the oldtimer car scene, people with a variety of tastes and preferences own very different cars and if they bring them to a meeting you can see almost the whole tradition of car manufacturing. Great!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Will the longplay die asked hobby in 1962

Here's one that is not really about cars, but still a nice "milestone" in history. In 1962 the magazine hobby asked whether the longplay (the black 30 cm disc we used to listen to Music ...) will die! Well, it actually almost did die, but much later than anticipated. And the alternative offered in 1962 didn't win the hearts of the consumer neither. And yes, the lady on the picture also looks pretty out of fashion today. And yes, there are two cars as well, and you probably recognize them easily.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

All cars are the same

The latest issue of Auto Motor und Sport makes the point again (unwillingly) - all cars are the same. Not overall of course. But whenever I read a comparison test of let's say three to five different cars, the differences are small, very small. It's almost arbitrary and down to the mounted tires or the accessories included. It was very different in the sixties and seventies. Some of the cars of that time were really flawed, you don't see that today. As more and more components (and platforms) are shared between car models and even brands, less and less differentiation on the technical level is possible. The pricing differences have more to do with marketing than with technology, value is relative. We never had so many different car models as today, I think. And we never had so many niches filled. But it's basically just always a variation of the same theme, with very little differentiation.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Picture of the Week - Monza Lister Jaguar

Isn't this a great picture? It shows a historical formula car, called Monza Lister Jaguar. It competed in the AVD Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nurburgring 2010 against other historical formula 1 cars, but clearly outshined most of them with its impressive chrome type body. It's a great object to take pictures from. Though I must say, I am glad that I don't have to clean it after a partially rainy weekend.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Amazing night race at this years AVD Oldtimer Grand Prix

This years AVD Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nurburgring showed again amazing cars and races. One of the best for me was the race for two seater sportscars on Saturday night, started at 20:30 and ending 1 hour later, so going into the night. Not only was the field of cars impressive and exciting (you can spot two Maserati Birdcage, a Lotus 19, Lister, Ferraris, HWM, Lotus, Mercedes Gullwing, and many other precious sportscars), but the sound and light were just impressive too. The drivers gave their best and made the race a thrill. That's historic motor sport as we love it. But let the pictures speak!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lucra LC470 combines retro design and modern sportcar genes

You may think that retro design is not a good think, and partially I would agree. But if it brings up such cars like the Lucra LC470, then I also see some positive aspects. I truly like lightweight sportcars with no thrills and good design. And this one offers a lot of that. Up to more than 600 HP power a light chassis with a carbon fiber body. And it is road legal and even comes to Europe. For roughly 100'000 Euros you can own such a car with a bit less power and limited weather protection. Cool, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Forgotten cars - the Standard

Few people probably remember this car, the Standard 8, a British car built in the 1940ies. It came with 4 cylinders, 28 HP and a compression of 6.7:1. With four gears, of which three were silent, it was quite modern at that time. Thanks to a low weight of 800 kg the car was pretty economical with 6-8 liter of fuel per 100 km, while offering 4 seats in its 3.5 m long limousine body. It used about 0.1 liter of engine oil per 100 km and there was of course the need to grease the chassis. All in all quite a modern car that could reach almost 100 km/h (96 km/h to be exact). Looking at this you may wonder how much progress we really have seen.

Monday, August 9, 2010

We need more race tracks! Like this one.

A couple of investors are building a new race track in Germany, integrated into a natural scenery, leveraging an old military area. They will rent it to private drivers, car manufacturers and its own members. Sounds like an interesting concept, but doesn't come cheap. They are looking for some 30+ million Euro in financing, you can contribute starting at 100k. I like the idea and hope that hopefully soon somebody will implement a similar concept in my neighborhood. With all these traffic monitoring, speeding cameras and more and more regulated streets, the race track is the only place where classic sportscars really can driven as they should!
I wish all the best to the chaps from Bilster Berg, make it work, it looks great on the investment brochure!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Great Classic Car weekend with wonderful weather

This was really a classic car weekend. Not that I am aware of any famous meeting or gathering, it was just great weather and obviously many classic car fans thought so and took their car for a ride. I spotted several E-Types, Alfa-Romeo Spiders, Triumphs and many other more or less rare classics and apparently everybody enjoyed his drive! Good so!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Will the latest "super radar" make driving and traffic more safe?

There's a lot of discussion these days around the latest radar traffic supervision technology coming from Multinova in Switzerland. The new technology is able to track multiple cars (i.e. 18 or more) concurrently and to find out whether one of them is too fast, neglecting a traffic light or a stop sign and probably other mistakes as well. In general these things get cheaper and better in parallel with other technology developments and Moore's law. Soon, you will be able to basically detect any mistake people can make on the road. Nice vision for the future, isn't it. But does it make traffic more safe? Partially it probably does, as speeding can be dangerous, not keeping enough distance to other cars can create accidents as well, neglecting stop signs and traffic lights of course is not good as well. But sometimes it can be more safe to be a bit faster than what is on the signs, for example when you overtake. Sometimes it would be better people would look ahead and observe the traffic than looking for radar cameras. Sometimes speed limits just don't make sense at all. Before we leverage all available technology to observe car drivers, maybe we should think about tolerances and exceptions as well?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Here's one to buy - Crosslé 9S 1962

Fancy a roadgoing race car? Here's a unique opportunity to buy a 1962 Crosslé 9S 1962 with road registration (Switzerland)! Crosslé is an Irish race car manufacturer, similar to Lotus or Elva, but much less known. The Crosslé designs were quite comparable to what these bigger car makers produced in the 60ies and thereafter. The car advertised in Switzerland produces a roaring 220 HP and weighs 540 kg, sounds like a good basis for great driving pleasure! I am not sure about FIA HTP though.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Very rare British classic cars in TopGear

So, here's my last blog entry about the episode 6 of TopGear. When Jeremy was talking about the good old times of British motoring a number of classic cars were shown sitting in a large hall. Have a look, you can spot a Ginetta G4 and a mid engine Ginetta G12, a Lotus Elan, an Ace, and .... Great classics, would be interesting to take a closer look ...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Classic sportscars safety isn't as bad as you thought ....

... if you watch the crash test TopGear showed in its last episode. The setup was taking a truck, driving a traditional hatchback or a sportscar against it and see the difference.
And if you take a really flat car and tweek the height of the truck a bit you can proof anything of course.
But, of course, this is not to be taken seriously. Safety of classic cars is primarily dependent on the driver, as the car will not offer a lot of passive and active safety features. If you are aware of this, then all is fine. So drive carefully, look ahead and plan for safety tolerances.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

British classic sportscars in TopGear

Last Sunday's TopGear episode showed Jeremy, James and Richard buying three British classic sportscars and prove that they are better than the hot hatchbacks that basically replaced them on British roads. With £5'000 each they bought a Jensen-Healey with the Lotus Twincam engine, a TVR S with a Ford V6 2.8 liter engine and the front wheel driven Lotus Elan (M100) from the 90ies with the Isuzu 1.6 l engine. As usual nothing can be taken too serious and the "challenges" presented rather proved the contrary of what the three chaps said. But of course it was highly entertaining and the three cars, often neglected by collectors and mainstream fans, were mostly shown in the best light. None of the cars severely broke down and all of them were able to get from London to Blackpool. Which brings us to another interesting element of the film. The three TopGear presenters visited both the former Jensen factory as well as the Blackpool TVR factory. Both seem to be unused today and around the TVR factory you can even still find body parts from a 3000M and other models. It's so sad! But anyway, if you have access to TopGear 6/15 then it's a must for fans of British classic sportscars.
Now, here's a question: Which one of the three cars would you take? For me, this is not 100% clear. I love the twin cam Lotus engine of the Jensen and I like the fact that it's already 30+ years old. But I am also a TVR fan, so the S might be the car to pick for me. Clearly the Lotus Elan isn't my preferred choice. But, again, what's yours?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Picture of the Week - Classic meets Modern

Seen recently at an oldtimer event (with cars and motocycles), this looks like a still live where tradition meets modern times. Funny enough barely anybody was interested in the Mercedes SLR while people really enjoyed the old motocycles (and cars).

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Oldtimer Sunday Morning in Zug - great variety and really rare cars

Finally I found the time again to visit the Oldtimer Sunday Morning Meeting in Zug. It usually takes place on the first Sunday during the summer months. Usually there's a special topic, today it was "Alfa-Romeo - cuore sportivo". And with probably 100+ Alfas there was a great selection ranging from Giulietta Spiders, to GTAs and other rare types. There was even an Alfasud, that many of you probably remember. I also found quite a selection of Lancias. What really makes this meeting special is that there's everything at one place. You can see Volkswagen Beetles side by side with a Ferrari 250 GT Lusso or an ASA race car. And you can find big American classic cars, Italian and English cars just sitting side by side. It's all about bringing your car and watching all the others. It's a lot of fun.