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Automotive

Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina

July 31, 2006 Feast your eyes on this beautie - it’s the Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina and will debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The car is a one-off commissioned by James Glickenhaus, the American collector with a yen for the legendary racing cars of the Sixties. Starting from a Ferrari Enzo, the aim was to produce a sole vehicle inspired by sport racing cars with extreme vocations: not just a show-car but a vehicle to be enjoyed on the road. Using CAS modelling, more than 200 components were specifically developed through constant interaction between styling and design for the mainly carbon fibre, very mobile sculpture. It's no show pony alone, as it it was wind-tunnel tested along the way to deliver function as well as the equisite form.  Read More

An in-car Macintosh-based PC

When it comes to the disciplines of performance, handling and spectacular body design, the world’s most exclusive sports cars rarely leave anything to be desired. That changes when it comes to the interior as many of their discriminating owners wish to customize according to their own, often very personal tastes. German company Mattes Interieurtechnik specializes just in interior automotive design for ultra luxury cars. Every detail of how the interior will be customized is discussed in a personal conversation with the customer and there is no limit to the colours the customer can choose from, regardless of whether it's the leather or Alcantara used, the floor and trunk carpeting or the thread for the stitching, or one’s choice of personal computer. Until now all existing multimedia and business systems on wheels were based on PC technology. Mattes Interieurtechnik responded to the request of many of its customers who prefer Apple computers and developed a high-end in-car system based on an Apple iMac G5, whose entire hardware in turn is integrated into the 17-inch monitor that is only 5 centimeters thick. The iMac G5 multimedia system can be integrated into any car, though it is pictured here in the new Mercedes CLS where it'll set you back around UE 3,500. The computer comes covered in the finest magnolia-colored leather and is installed on the driveshaft tunnel behind the front seats. By unplugging one cable and unfastening the locking mechanism the computer can be removed from the car in less than an a minute for use at home or in the office.  Read More

Caterham Seven Roadsport delivers 131 miles per gallon

July 28, 2006 Caterham is famed for producing some of the fastest cars in the world, and we tend to give the cars regular coverage because they offer a bang-per-buck factor that’s right up there with their power to weight ratio. So what happens when you take a Caterham and refocus its 550 kg weight towards achieving efficient fuel consumption rather than in getting there quickly? A modified Caterham Seven Roadsport 1.6-litre 16-valve K Series sports car was entered in the recent Shell Eco-Marathon. A bit of aerodynamic modification and a set of narrow low rolling resistance tyres were the main changes alongside some economic driving techniques to ensure it maximised every drop of fuel. The sportscar was the only road registered car in the event and the team was hoping for 100mpg. On the day, it recorded 131 miles per gallon.  Read More

Instant Man in Your Glove Box

July 27, 2006 It’s a sad fact but despite thousands of years of civilization, it just takes a bit of frustration on the roads and otherwise law abiding citizens can get very ugly and threatening. A poll in the UK shows that nearly one in three female motorists admit to having been the victim of road rage or intimidation when travelling alone, which is why new UK car insurance company Sheilas' Wheels is offering a new device that aims to make women feel safer when driving alone after dark. 'Buddy on Demand' is a blow up man that inflates at the flick of a switch if and when a passenger is needed. It is designed to help women deter road-rage attacks, car jacking and intimidating behaviour by other motorists - especially at night - by giving the appearance of two silhouettes in the front of the car, instead of a single, female figure behind the wheel. The 'Buddy on Demand' was designed and created by Inflate, builders of the Office in a bucket and a range of other remarkable inflatable structures.  Read More

Formula One Car for the Road - the Hulme SuperCar

Conceived as a Formula One car for the road, and named after famous Kiwi racing driver Denny Hulme, the Supercars NZ Hulme is a new contender in the UKP300,000 plus European exotica category. Unveiled to the local New Zealand media in mid 2005, the company had its initial European tour-de-force over the last few weeks at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the ultra-exclusive Salon Prive. The Hulme SuperCar is powered by a BMW M5 V8 producing 550brake horses running through a six speed sequential gearbox, and weighs in at the curb with all bodily fluids topped up at a very slim 1175 kilograms. The body is a carbon fibre shell and will be produced in limited quantities of up to 30 a year in the Koeniggseg and Pagani category of high end exotica.  Read More

Panda Terramare 4x4 with inflatable flotation belt

July 22, 2006 An interesting nautical adventure took place yesterday when a modified Fiat Panda 4x4 successfully crossed the English Channel. Beginning at 8.30am, the crossing took just over six hours, and at 4.30pm London time, the Panda Terramare 4 drove out of the water and up the beach at Cap Griz Nez, completing the epic 25 mile maritime journey across one of the busiest seaways in the world. The Panda’s creator is Milan-born Maurizio Zanisi, an independent former Iso Rivolta engineer, and his self-built Panda Terramare 4 which is based on a Panda 4x4 chassis, but with an inflatable flotation belt, and waterjet propulsion driven off the rear axle has now conquered the famous stretch of water. Additional and detailed images inside  Read More

The superb Tesla Roadster EV

July 21, 2006 It looks kinda like a Lotus Elise, tops 130 mph, has a range of 250 miles on a single charge, and is capable of 0-60 mph in about four seconds. Those are impressive figures and put it in the supercar acceleration class but the biggest thing the new electric Tesla Roadster which was unveiled overnight has going for it is cred. The kinda cred that comes when names like Elon Musk (PayPal founder and Tesla Chairman), Jeff Skoll (eBay), Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google) invest and when California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger calls past for a photo session. The kind of cred that earned it the headline such as “Electric sports car ready to challenge Porsche?” in C/NET and lots of ink in highly credible magazines such as Newsweek, Red Herring, Business Week and Wired before anyone knew anything about their product other than that it was an electric sports car. The superstar team seems to have lived up to the hype though as the Tesla Roadster is impressive (see details inside). Deliveries of the Tesla Roadster are expected to begin mid-2007 and though no price has yet been announced for the vehicle, the indications are that it’ll run somewhere between the US$80,000 of the Tango and the US$120,000 of the Hybrid Technologies Mullen GT and somewhat less than the US$580,000 of the Venturi Fetish.  Read More

Mazda MX-5 Miata Roadster Coupe – full details

July 19 2006 At the 2006 British International Motor Show which opens today, Mazda has unveiled a new version of its motoring icon, the Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe, and it opens up a new dimension of fun and versatility for people who love open-top sports cars. The Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe is a brand-new counterpart to the third-generation MX-5, which launched in 2005. It has the same responsive performance and emotive styling as the soft-top model, but is equipped with a Power Retractable Hard Top—an electrically retractable hard top that doesn’t sacrifice any boot space. The roof retracts in three sections into a space behind the seats, leaving the boot completely unaffected and it does so very quickly in just 12 seconds (Mazda claims this is the quickest of any electrically retractable hard top on the market today), so it doesn’t interrupt driving enjoyment for long. And the entire mechanism has only marginally added to the weight at just 37 kilos more than the ragtop.  Read More

More on the smart electric plustwo

July 19, 2006 Last week we reported on the coming of the smart EV, an electric version of smart's iconic two-seater commuter. Now we can release the firstdetails of the highly integrated electric drivetrain developed by British specialist Zytek which has allowed DaimlerChrysler to introduce Europe’s first high quality, high efficiency electric commuter car. The new smart ev (electric vehicle) shown at the British International Motorshow overnight provides all the safety features and dynamic ability of the standard smart fortwo, but with zero vehicle emissions and fuel costs slashed from an already class-leading EUR0.06 per kilometre (6.3p per mile) for the petrol version to just EUR0.02 per kilometre (2.1p per mile) for the vehicle with the new electric drivetrain.  Read More

Honda F1 car attempts land speed record at Bonneville

July 19, 2006 Just how fast is a Formula One car? That question was answered, at least partially, on Monday morning at around 8am local time at the Bonneville Salt Flats, when Alan van der Merwe piloted a race legal Honda 007 along a seven mile-long salt straight, achieving a speed of 220.571mph (354.975 km/h) for the flying mile and 220.897 mph (355.499 km/h) for the flying kilometre. To be frank, we were a bit disappointed too, but one of the problems of Bonneville and lots of horsepower is that of traction. Driver Alan van der Merwe put it in perspective when he said, “We haven’t done 400kph yet though, which is our ultimate target. In a way it’s quite nice we didn’t, because it shows that this is a genuine challenge and not just a case of us turning up, nailing it and going home. You have to work for every extra mile an hour here and we may not break the 400 mark, but that’s still our goal.”  Read More

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