“All the knobs look like boiled sweets.” Bleh!
By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG YouTube
THEY should’ve hired her.
You have to wait for the revs to climb, but, Dee-Anne’s character peaks at about 4:40… Doubtless one of seemingly countless Top Gear audition entries, her delivery would’ve needed some tweaking from the producers.
But if they’d had the brass to stray just a little from the UK formula, and see past a few preliminary jitters, they would likely have found a great new dynamic to add to the Top Gear franchise.
But they didn’t, so they haven’t.
If there’s a company ready to produce a Fifth Gear Oz, Dee-Anne Joseph’s your girl.
[LinkedIn: Dee-Anne Joseph]
Mr. Clarkson pondering BMW ergonomics with pipe
By Gunnar Heinrich
THERE is something acutely strange that happens when you first try to reverse in a right-hand drive car in a country whose traffic flows from the left – you turn right to look back and instead of having that clear view through the windscreen, you jam your hand and shoulder against the door and find a close up view of the seat belt mounted to the car’s b-pillar.
It’s disorienting and you’re left feeling really, really foolish.
Anyway, this happened to me, discouragingly, in the middle of a test drive at a Land Rover dealer in Scotland. It wasn’t my first time driving on the left, but it was my first time behind the wheel of a car in at least three weeks (not a healthy way to live). So, it took adjusting.
It might be hard for the majority of the world to consider, but those who do drive on the left are forced to be ambidextrous. Most of the car’s functions are featured on the dashboard which is inevitably placed left of the driver’s left knee.
Fortunately, the pedals are in the same left to right order as nature intended. But in the case of BMW’s all encompassing iDrive, it isn’t.
Jeremy Clarkson pointed this out in his Sunday Times column this week.
“As any normal person who’s tried to operate a computer mouse with their left hand knows, it’s nigh-on impossible. In short, then, the right-hand-drive 7-series works only for left-hand-drive people.”
For Bimmer drivers in the 75 countries that drive on the left side of the road, including but not limited to the UK, Japan, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Cyprus, Ireland, Malta, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, and Guyana, they must be left feeling really, really foolish.
[Linked: Sunday Times]
Tesla broke through the BBC defenses earlier in the game.
By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG from AP
JEREMY Clarkson is fighting back.
There was plenty of online chatter and lots of backlash from Tesla’s P.R. people last December resulting from the Top Gear personality’s decision to push the electric car (plus editorial honesty standards) off the track (O.C.) to make it appear to viewers as though the car’s lithium ions had run out of juice when in fact they hadn’t.
The truth was one of the test car’s brakes had stopped working and another’s motor had overheated.A total of two test cars were involved, with Tesla staff on-hand to make sure things didn’t go too badly. Which, in fact, they did.
And now in Mr. Clarkson’s Sunday Times column, he strikes back at the heart of the Tesla fiasco calling the Roadster “good for your sex life” but as useful as a “muddy bag of spinach.”
For the rest of us auto scribes, Mr. Clarkson shares a little inside-football with stories of previous fallings-out with the likes of Renault, Toyota, Kia, and BMW.
Apparently, the Bavarians didn’t take too kindly to Mr. Clarkson’s attitude towards BMW drivers which he insists are known for their “pushy attitude, their silly sunglasses, their awful short-sleeved shirts, their hair gel, their orange wives, their awful houses, their fondness for golf and their membership of the Freemasons.”
In sum, his bit in the Times this week makes for a bloody good read.
[Linked: Sunday Times]
Fuel for a young imagination.
By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG via RapidCars.com
WHEN the eighties turned into the nineties, there were three 200+ mph supercars that diverted my attention from grammar school studies and fueled my passion for cars.
They rank as follows: Bugatti’s EB110, the McLaren F1, and the Jaguar XJ220.
Of the three, the Bugatti was my favorite for being a) Italian – molto bene! b) blending luxury with exotic performance and c) all-wheel drive.
IMHO back then, the true blue EB110 would’ve been the perfect choice for replacing the family Volvo in taking yours to and from school.
Indeed, yours was taking practical considerations into account.
The all-wheel drive would ensure that I’d make it to class on snow days; a selfless act of sacrificing liberation from school.
The EB110’s four turbochargers, performance shoes, and decisive lack of ground clearance didn’t factor in my assessment.
Time rolled on, our Volvo 740 (not-so-good in the snow) was replaced by a 940 (truly dismal polar performer) and then an 850 (damn near unstoppable), and history forgot the first and last of the super three to remember only the McLaren – a stripped down bullet that like the XJ220 wasn’t sold Stateside.
Back then, American emissions standards barred entry. And since then, we’ve all grown more practical and pragmatic. Or have we?
The End Is Nigh!
By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG via BBC
SIR JEREMYis being an ass.
Adding his popular voice to the chorus of navel gazing doomsayers, Mr. Clarkson pontificated on Detroit and the world economy in an interview with BBC Radio.
“I believe we’re sort of heading for an end of days, economically speaking,” he said.
Mr. Clarkson didn’t have facts ‘n figures to back up his assertions except to suggest that he was in the know from having spoken with several (mysterious) bankers. One wonders if these were the same financiers who scolded the Top Gear presenter for publishing his Barclay’s account details in his Sunday Times column.
Adding some premium unleaded to the market’s inferno, Mr. Clarkson acknowledged that more than 850,000 Britons held gainful employment in the auto industry – and that Ford and GM were components “too big to fail.”
But let them, said he.
Channeling Mrs. Thatcher and doubtless remembering that socialism didn’t work for British Leyland when “Communists” made Jaguars, Sir Jeremy shrugged that Detroit shouldn’t get a bail out.
“I don’t believe that governments can endlessly bail out, because where does it end?”
Who’s talking about endless? It’s ok to keep funding hundreds of billions to banks that aren’t releasing Federal capital to credit markets but not when MoTown wants $34 Billion to get them through next year?
While he was at it, he called Chrysler, the third largest American car company employing 129,000 workers, “Two bit.”
Thanks, Mr. Clarkson. I guess we can say from his casual matter-of-fact manner that this Jeremy is NOT for turning.
Until the economy rebounds, that is.
Watch Clarkson’s interview excerpt by tapping the link.
By Gunnar Heinrich
TOP GEAR wasn’t always Top Gear.
And there’s no better proof of that than this clip of ye olde Top Gear from the Y.O.L. nineteen hundred ninety one. In it, a very un-Clarksonesque presenter takes us through an arc-storyline presentation of the Lexus’ then new LS400.
Assembling a crowd of “The traditional European competition” – a BMW (E32) 735i, Jaguar (XJ40) XJ6, and Mercedes-Benz (W126) 420SE (with those bloody Euro-spec lights ‘n bumpers) – the presenter performed a rather matter of fact review of all three’s kit and tags next to the cheap ‘n cheerfully stuffed and hushed LS.
The presenter’s notes on the Europeans was firmly stiff upper lip.
- Speaking of the Jag, “It’s got exceptional ride and handling… and extra instrumentation; something the Americans demanded.” Hey don’t blame us, pal.
- The Bimmer, “Very much a driver’s car. Very efficient in design and layout.” Naturally.
- The Benz, “Long in the tooth. Good performance, ride, and handling.” I beg your pardon?
- And the Lexus, “Toyota have undoubtedly produced a quality car.” Quite.
And that’s about as heated as the review gets. No rants nor raves. Just a mild assessment of the qualities and shortcomings of four luxury sedans.
Top Gear really wasn’t always Top Gear.