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Microsoft goes F1 racing

July 7, 2006 In February this year we discussed the fascinating call by the governing body of international motorsport, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), for expressions of interest in providing the standard electronic control system for all F1 cars as part of the drive to reduce the sport's prohibitive costs. Overnight it was announced that Microsoft MES has been selected as the official ECU supplier to F1 in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Now the world's largest software vendor has had its eye on the automotive environment as one of the cornerstones of future computing for some time, recently winning Best Telematics Solution at the Telematics Detroit 2006 with its Microsoft Windows Mobile for Automotive platform, BUT ... let's hope the boys and gals from Redmond are on the ball with this one as anything less than perfect is not good enough in the world of F1 and it could prove to be the almightiest gaffe in Public Relations history if perfection isn't achieved. A large chunk of the world's population watches a Formula One race and F1 drivers are particularly unforgiving of technical failure when they get a microphone in front of them.  Read More

The Limited Edition Rolls Royce Phantom Black

July 7, 2006 Rolls-Royce will unveil a new special edition at the Goodwood Festival this weekend in the form of the "Phantom Black." Only 25 Bespoke Phantom Blacks will be hand-built to demonstrate the best in Rolls-Royce design, engineering and craftsmanship and emphasise the Phantom's impressive performance and dynamic character. High lustre metallic Diamond Black paint is used on the body, complemented by twin silver coach lines. 21-inch alloy wheels come fitted with high performance Goodyear run flat tyres and feature unique black detailing and centre caps with RR badges, engineered to stay upright even at speed. At the rear of the Phantom Black, visible tail pipes hint at the car's performance. No price has been announced as all 25 Phantom Blacks have already been allocated to customers around the world.  Read More

The World 0-100-0 and SS quarter mile production car champion

July 6, 2006 A week ago we ran a story about the complete dominance of Autocar’s annual 0-100-0 mph comparison test by the world’s most powerful, most expensive and fastest automobile, the Bugatti Veyron with its remarkable numbers being 987 bhp, US$1.6 million, 406km/h and thanks to the AutoCar test, 9.9 seconds for the sprint to 100 mph and back to rest. What AutoCar failed to do, and what we failed to mention, was that it had omitted the world record holder for the 0-100-0 journey, the British built and designed US$130,000 Ultima GTR road car. The 720 horsepower 990 kilogram Ultima is built in small numbers, but we thought it sporting that we should set the record straight, on account of the Ultima having twice broken its own 0-100-0 world record which now stands at 9.4 seconds set on June 1, 2006, half a second quicker than the Bugatti. To cap it off, the car set a standing quarter time of 9.941 seconds on June 9 (with a terminal speed of 143mph), making it the fastest production road car over that distance too. And just to prove it was driven to and from the track, that's Richard picking up his maccas on the way home from the world record.  Read More

Mercedes E-Class now with E-Guard ballistic optional protection

July 5, 2006 Last November Jaguar announced itself as the first mass-produced vehicle manufacturer to offer an armoured passenger car when it put the Armoured XJ Long Wheelbase luxury saloon car on its brochure. Now Mercedes Benz has followed suit, and as of today, the new-generation E-Class can be ordered with a ballistic protection package (known as E-Guard) directly ex factory. Mercedes and Jaguar join a host of boutique manufacturers of armoured luxury vehicles such as Donald Rumsfeld’s preferred choice of the Rhino Runner, to the Russian Combat T-98 Armoured Luxury SUV. The world can be a hostile and dangerous place with hundreds of war zones around the world at any given time, plus many countries where assassination and kidnapping are routine. Despite wars and organized criminal activity, life has to go on, and there are some people who feel the need to be transported in the manner befitting their station in life. The prime advantage of the Mercedes E-Guard system is that the cars have no external markings indicating their capability – so your adversaries will only find out you’re protected after they’ve played their hand!  Read More

Nissan GT-S Concept

July 1, 2006 British Nissan development engineers working in their spare time have transformed a 350Z into a highly tuned ‘Saturday Special’. Called the GT-S, the supercharged super coupe is a performance-focused version of Nissan’s acclaimed ‘Z-‘car’ and is designed to appeal to enthusiastic 350Z owners who simply want more. Its first public outing will be at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (7-9 July) as an official Nissan-sanctioned entry in the hill climb, a sign the company is giving the GT-S concept serious consideration. Using a Novidem supercharger, power has increased by more than 25 per cent from 300PS to 382PS, while torque rises from 353 Nm to a heady 425Nm. Performance gains include a one second cut in the benchmark 0-60mph time (5.8 seconds for the standard 350Z) with 2.5 seconds slashed from the 0-100mph time.  Read More

The limited edition Morgan Aeromax

July 1, 2006 In March 2005, traditional English automobile manufacturers Morgan released images of an extraordinarily beautiful one-off design commissioned by Prince Eric I. Sturdza, President of Banque Baring Brothers Suisse. Conceived as a comfortable long distance Touring Coupe, it had a gullwing boot opening, hardwood and traditional pleated leather interior and a large flat load area behind the seats plus an extraordinarily exquisite shape courtesy of Morgan stylist Matthew Humphries. The huge interest created by the images has resulted in the Morgan Motor Company deciding to produce a limited run of just 100 individually numbered cars starting in January 2008. Priced at UKP94,000 ex factory plus taxes, the company anticipates a strong response to this unique vehicle. Read on to find out how to join the reservation list.  Read More

Jaguar's supercharged 4.2 litre XKR sports car

July 1, 2006 Jaguar yesterday revealed its new supercharged sports car – the Jaguar XKR. Building on the XK that debuted in 2005, the XKR will be available as a Coupe or Convertible. Like the XK model, the new supercharged XKR makes intelligent use of practical, modern technology such as an industry-leading aluminium monocoque structure that results in a light and yet very stiff body. An uprated 420bhp (SAE) supercharged V8 engine and class-leading calibration of a state-of-the-art, six-speed automatic transmission deliver accessible, real-world, high performance of 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds, 50-70mph in just 2.5 seconds and has an (electronically limited) top speed of 155mph. The all-aluminium body construction delivers a lighter, stiffer car, with excellent agility. At 1665kg, the Coupe is 70kg lighter than its predecessor, while the 1715kg Convertible is 100kg lighter than the previous convertible XKR.  Read More

The world’s fastest cars from 0-100-0 mph (in order)

One of the measures of sporting performance that’s rarely used but highly relevant when measuring extreme automotive performance is the zero to 100mph and back to zero time. It incorporates both acceleration to a suitably ridiculous speed and braking from that speed to the safety of standstill again and it’s more of a guide to sporting prowess than simple standing start quarter mile times. Each year in the U.K., the world’s oldest motoring magazine runs the fastest cars against each other using this test and this year there has been a new entrant which has wiped the floor with all others. Not surprisingly, given that it has a 987bhp 16-cylinder engine and a top speed of 400 kmh, the UKP 880,000 Bugatti Veyron has blitzed everything else on four wheels by a massive margin – what is surprising is that it has also blitzed a credible representative of the fastest of the two wheel brigade as well, managing to beat a Suzuki GSX-R1000 superbike by nearly a full second. Read on for the complete list of the times by 25 of the world’s fastest cars, from the 14th placed UKP79,995 Aston Martin V8 Vantage to the second-placed UKP34,995 Ariel Atom.  Read More

1906 land speed record holder to go under the hammer

June 28, 2006 Bonhams was founded in 1793 and is one of the world's oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. Appropriately, Bonhams will auction one of the world’s most famous automobiles which qualifies both as an antique and a work of art - the world land speed record breaking 1905 Darracq. The 200hp Darracq was designed as a sprint special and was completed on 28 December 1905. Just two days later it set the first of a remarkable string of records undertaken on both sides of the Atlantic. On 30 December 1905, untried and untested, the car reached the speed of 109.65mph, breaking the world land speed record. Remarkably, this historic French racing car has had only two owners from new - Sir Algernon Lee Guinness, from the famous brewing family, who bought the car from Darracq in 1906, and the present owner who purchased it from the family after Guinness died in 1954. Powered by a fearsome 25.4-litre engine the Darracq is thought to be the oldest surviving V8 car in existence will be sold in Bonhams' traditional Olympia sale on 4 December.  Read More

Caparo T1 for Goodwood Festival of Speed

June 28, 2006 One of the world’s most exclusive road and track cars, the Caparo T1, is to make its UK debut at the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed (July 7- 9), the world’s biggest celebration of motorsport history. While the Caparo T1 prototype will form a static display this year, it will make attempt on the Goodwood hill climb in 2007. The brainchild of ex-McLaren engineers, the Caparo T1 has the pedigree and qualifications necessary for a serious attempt up the famous 1-mile hill - but not before completing a rigorous 2006 test programme. The world’s first production road car to exceed 1,000bhp-per-tonne promises an astonishing 0-60mph time of 2.5 seconds and the closest experience yet to a Formula One race car on the track. Previous stories on the Caparo can be found here and here.  Read More

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