Happy Birthday Saab

Well yes I'm biased as I've driven Saabs for some years but it is their 60th Anniversary, 60 years of Independent Thinking.


The first Saab car appeared on 10th June 1947 in a staff canteen at the aircraft company's Linköping headquarters in Sweden. Such humble beginnings marked the birth of what has become a major international brand, now part of the GM empire but, 60 years later, Saab is still recognised as having its own, unique, design philosophy and is the premium car manufacturer for independent-minded drivers.


Did you know that.... James Bond, special agent 007, drove a Saab 900 Turbo? Or that Grand Prix driver Sir Stirling Moss once navigated for Saab rally legend Erik Carlsson, who incidentally, ended up marrying Sir Stirling's sister Pat? And that Saab not only produced aircraft, but also a series of ultra-light caravans? Or that for optimum roll-over protection, the windscreen pillars and header rail on the current Saab 9-3 Convertible are strong enough to support a total weight of 3.5 tonnes, equivalent to 2.2 times the weight of the car, and that the  cars are also designed to help you avoid hitting a wild moose, a fairly regular occurrence on Swedish roads?!



This year's Geneva Motor Show marks the start of a new wave of innovations from Volkswagen especially the Passat BlueMotion.

Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion

With new technology at the very top of the current motoring agenda, Volkswagen will also present a 'Future of the Car' interactive display.  A Caddy Life Edition concept car and the Multivan Panamericana will be on the stand too.

More news from the Geneva show later this month after we visit the show, now the major car show in Europe.



....possibly one of the most important UK introductions of the Summer, the all new Ford Mondeo will appear in the UK in June 2007 and, model for model is priced at £300 below the outgoing model with more standard features and an impressive list of optional equipment in four specifications: Edge, Zetec, Ghia, Titanium X and three body styles - saloon, hatchback and estate.

2007 Ford Mondeo

The all-new Ford Mondeo also benefits from £700 worth of added equipment across the range including: Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Thatcham Category 1 Alarm, ISOFIX child-seat fixings, steering wheel controls for the key vehicles technologies, driver's knee airbag, 'follow me home' lighting and unique to Ford - Easyfuel. This clever new feature prevents drivers putting petrol into a diesel powered car or vice-versa. It is estimated this accidental mis-fueling affects over 150, 000 UK drivers every year.

The Edge replaces the LX series and in addition to the new standard equipment, the Edge also boasts - air-conditioning, cruise control, leather steering wheel, CD stereo with MP3 connection socket seven air-bags, ABS with Electronic Brake Assist (EBA), power front windows, remote central locking, quick clear heated front windscreen, power and heated door mirrors.

2007 Ford Mondeo

At the top of the range the Titanium X series emphasizes modern technology with a contemporary interior including full Alcantara/leather trim. The Titanium X also offers "Ford Power" start button, adaptive front lighting with cornering lights, blue tinted glass and the new Ford "Convers+" premium instrument cluster with a 256 colour display.

One further significant option for the all-new Ford Mondeo is Bluetooth with voice control; this allows a driver to stay in complete control of the car while accessing a mobile phone. This system also allows drivers to change the temperature control and audio settings via voice commands, and this option is available for only £150.

The all-new Mondeo is available to order from March - three months ahead of its launch date.



The Honda Racing F1 Team has launched a new initiative to help raise awareness of environmental issues.

In place of the advertising and sponsor logos that have dominated F1 cars for decades, the RA107 F1 car will simply feature a huge image of the earth. The new livery is a call to action for fans, sponsors, customers and members of the public to help address global environmental issues.

There will also be the opportunity for members of the public to have their names on the car. Via the website, fans can make a pledge to change their lifestyle to improve the environment and make a donation to an environmental charity. In return, their name will form a tiny individual pixel on the F1 car, which will help build the image of planet earth. Each name will be visible under a microscope on the car and on the website when making the pledge.

Honda F1 - car

"We're not saying F1 is 'green', " says John Kingston, Environment Manager, Honda (UK), "But the fans can really make a difference. If just one per cent of the people who watch Formula 1 were to change one light bulb for an energy saving one, this would save 38, 000 tonnes of CO2 - the same amount of carbon emissions produced by the Honda Racing F1 team over three seasons."

Editor - Is there a link here say cynical I ?

Universal Music, the largest music company in the world, and Pepsico, via the Gatorade brand, are the first global brands to partner the team in this exciting new concept. Existing partners have also embraced the idea and all remain involved with the team for the 2007 season. The Honda Racing F1 Team will work closely with global environmental charities to develop Honda's existing environmental ethos within the world's most high profile motor-sport.

"Climate change is probably the single biggest issue facing the global community and F1 is not immune from it, " says Nick Fry, Chief Executive Officer, Honda Racing F1 Team. "On the contrary, we believe that F1, with its huge global profile and cutting edge technology, can play an important role in not only highlighting the issues, but also playing our part in developing solutions. We hope that in raising awareness we will encourage members of the public to come together and help take on the challenge of climate change."


Road pricing - the story continues....

PM Tony Blair has written a reply to more than 1.7 million people who signed a petition on the Downing Street website against road pricing. In his reply, the Prime Minister sets out the government's views on national road pricing, stressing that no decision has yet been made. Blair says he sees the petition and his email as 'the beginning, not the end' of the debate. However, he insisted that road pricing must be considered as one solution to tackling congestion. Improving traffic flow and continued investment in public transport will not alone ease the pressure on the UK's road networks, the Prime Minister warned, with congestion predicted to increase by 25% by 2015. Blair's email also reassured motorists that it will be at least a decade before any national road pricing scheme is technically or politically possible. Watch this space....


GM to buy Chrysler ????

Just weeks after we ran the story of the parlous state of the US big 3 car giants rumours are circulating in all the financial papers that GM, despite itself having major financial problems and nearing bankruptcy - posting $11 billion losses last year - sees one solution to it's problems as buying number 3 in the pecking order, Chrysler, whose finances are in even worse shape with a $1.5 billion loss last year. Just two weeks ago Chrysler announced a $2 billion re-structuring plan to shed 13, 000 jobs.

Fearing the steady rise of Toyota, the current number 1 worldwide, GM, sees amalgamation of 2 car makers as the only way to keep Toyota off the top spot.

As US car buyers in their masses turn greener and away from the gas guzzlers that the US still makes in favour of greener, more fuel efficient Japanese cars in typical US fashion they perceive size as their only defence while they develop new, more attractive ranges of cars, for their massive home market.

Chrysler itself merged with German giant Daimler only in 1998 but the US No3 has been a constant drain the group's resources ever since and hints have been circulating in Germany for some time that Daimler would consider a sale to the right buyer. Neither party will comment on the talks but shares in the DaimlerChrysler group rose 5% on the news.

While on the US scene the gloom at Ford US continues as it missed it's January sales target by 11, 000 vehicles despite a massive re-structuring which observers says is already falling behind target with even worse figures expected for February and March.


Probably the worlds lowest car ?

Unvelied last month at the Beaulieu National Motor Museum well known hot rodder Andy Saunders has beaten his own record for building the world's lowest car.

At just 22 inches high his new sports car "Flat Out" is nearly two inches lower than the previous record holder. Based on a heavily chopped FIAT 126 the cars wheels are almost as high as the driver's head. If you thought watching Clarskon try to get in to a GT 40 was a laugh Andy's efforts to get into his new car would make an Osteopath wince!!!


IAM Motoring Trust

As a long time IAM member I welcome the news that the Institute is to combine it's road safety efforts with the respected AA motoring Trust to form a new lobby organisation called IAM Motoring Trust. The new charity will fund a five year programme of research aimed at benefiting all road users.


Splashing pedestrians...

this Winter could be expensive reminds the AA. A charge of driving without reasonable consideration can result with a fine to £2, 500 and up to 9 license points.


Fuel con...sumption ?

Every so often we get news of yet another magic, fuel saving device which you can attach to your car and I will admit to being a bit sceptical of some of the claims made but then I'm naturally cynical. If you have used a fuel saving device I would be interested to hear about your experiences - good or bad. It may be an unscientific method but I'm curious to hear what others think.


Roundabouts to make you giddy !!!!

... are roundabouts a national obsession ? I happened to be standing watching traffic on a roundabout a few days ago. Where two A roads cross there used to be just 1 roundabout, now there are 5 and I noticed there was broken glass on every one of them so obviously there are plenty of minor shunts.

Does 1 junction really need 5 roundabouts, most of America and much of Europe make do with no roundabouts, are all of our road planners round the bend ? Worthing is a case in point, it has developed a sort of mini-roundabout madness and all them have served to make the traffic both slower and more dangerous with numerous minor bumps every day and disastrous effects on traffic flows throughout much of the town. Does anyone check whether these things are really needed before installing them ?


The new Twingo is with us soon

2007 Renault Twingo

Years after the rest of Europe got the funky little car, at last the new Twingo will reach UK shores in right-hand drive for the first time   in September 2007 in two trim levels and engines available in the UK, Dynamique 1.2 16V 75hp and the GT with the new TCE (Turbo Control Efficiency) 1.2 100 hp petrol engine. Renault has sold more than 2.4 million Twingos since the model's launch in April 1993. Now for the first time UK drivers will be able to get behind the wheel of the ever-popular city car.

2007 Renault Twingo

The new Twingo stands out as an illustration of Renault's know-how in the domain of optimising cabin space and interior versatility, the interior is extremely modular thanks to its four independent sliding seats and the boot volume is the biggest in its segment, ranging from 165 to 285 litres (VDA) with all four seats in place and is extendable to a full 959 litres with a two-seater layout.


KIA cee'd SW

Created especially for European consumers, the all-new Kia cee'd five-door hatchback model is already proving to be immensely popular.  Now the cee'd family is expanding with the introduction of the SW, which made its world premiere at the 77th Salon de l'Automobiles in Geneva in production form, with a unique extended tailgate for maximum accessibility to the luggage area.

2007 Kia cee'd

The launch of the cee'd family marks a major turning point in Kia's history.  Bringing this trio to the marketplace is the start of a new era.  They are the first Kia cars designed and manufactured in Europe and will introduce a qualitative revolution for the brand.  The highest standards of engineering and European-style aesthetics have been applied to every aspect of cee'd.

2007 Kia cee'd

"The new Kia cee'd SW retains all the attributes of the cee'd hatchback and offers consumers extra practicality and versatility, with a unique extended tailgate design, while keeping stylish good looks with a truly sporty feel, " enthused Mr Jean-Charles Lievens, Senior Vice President Kia Motors Europe.  "With ride, handling and performance every bit as responsive as the hatchback, the SW will be available with a selection of engines and specifications.  The SW is sure to delight existing Kia customers and to attract European consumers who have not yet considered our brand."



Last week's H&H classic vehicle sale at The Centaur, Cheltenham grossed over £2.3 million - a house record. It also saw the highest price so far paid for a car at an H&H auction, with the 1929 Irish Grand Prix winning Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Super Sport fetching £503, 000 - a mere £6, 000 more than the ex-Jim Clark 1962 Lotus 25, which itself had claimed that record earlier in the same sale!

ex-Jim Clark 1962 Lotus 25

The ex-Jim Clark Lotus 25 (as reconstructed by his mechanic of 1963, Cedric Selzer) was bound to cause major interest, considering Clark's place in the pantheon of great drivers and the fact that Chassis R5 is reputedly one of only four Lotus 25s remaining worldwide. Loud applause greeted Simon Hope's hammer, which eventually fell at £497, 288. This historic car was bought by a private collector and will remain in the UK.

1929 Grand Prix Alfa Romeo 6C 1750

The beautifully patinated 1929 Grand Prix Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Super Sport on the other hand has become part of a significant overseas collection. Boasting a wonderful provenance, it was finally knocked down for £502, 875 - again, to loud applause from the floor.



The nostalgic appeal of the world's most authentic historic motor race meeting, the Goodwood Revival, is set to reach new heights for 2007 with an additional aeronautical attraction that recalls the style and excitement of flying as it used to be.  For the 2007 Goodwood Revival, the 'Freddie March Spirit of Aviation' is planned to be the first of a world-class annual 'concours d'elegance' for historic aircraft, built up to 1966, the same cut-off year as all motor vehicles permitted on site at the Motor Circuit during the hugely popular three-day Goodwood Revival meeting.

Since the Earl of March reintroduced motor racing at the celebrated Goodwood Motor Circuit in 1998, aircraft have formed a key part of the Goodwood Revival activities.  At the 2006 event, for example, no less than eight Supermarine Spitfires took to the air over Goodwood; the most seen in West Sussex skies since World War II.  The origins of the Goodwood Motor Circuit are based around the perimeter road of former RAF Westhampnett, a key Battle of Britain airfield and the location of Sir Douglas Bader's final sortie.  Freddie March, the present Earl of March's grandfather, was a keen aviation engineer, as well as an accomplished racing driver and vehicle coachwork designer.

Goodwood Revival

The aim of the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation is to bring together some of the world's finest, most elegant, original and rarely-seen aeroplanes from the evocative pioneering days of aviation, to create an added spectacle at the Revival that all race-goers will be able to get up close to and enjoy.  Inspiration for this important new static aviation concours event comes partly from the hugely-popular Cartier 'Style et Luxe' car design competition, held annually during the Goodwood Festival of Speed, as well as the successful Vintage Aeroplane Fly-In, staged for the first time last year at the Goodwood Aero Club.

Goodwood will pull together an expert panel of aviation historians and enthusiasts to hand pick around 30 important aircraft from around the world, with the ultimate winner gaining what promises to be the coveted 'Freddie March Spirit of Aviation' trophy at the Prize Giving ceremony on the Revival Sunday, 2 September.

To be eligible for this award, every aeroplane must be airworthy, and the expert judging panel will consider each aircraft's condition, originality, flight time, flight experience and maintenance record.  Owners of suitable aircraft can register their interest in entering their aeroplane by calling the Spirit of Aviation Chairman Rob Wildeboer on +44 (0)1243 755064, or by e-mailing:

In addition to exciting aircraft, this year's Goodwood Revival, to be held over the weekend of 31 August to 2 September, will celebrate the halcyon days of motor racing as it used to be in Goodwood's heyday up to 1966, with all of the accompanying spectacle and glamour of the era, with competitors and spectators alike dressed in period fashions.  The event promises an exceptional selection of the best machinery on the planet with a spectacular array of cars and motorcycles, plus fabulous star drivers and riders to thrill the crowds on all three days of motor racing.

As in previous years, admission to the Goodwood Revival (as well as the Festival of Speed on 22-24 June) will be strictly by advance ticket only.

For further information please contact the Ticket Hotline: Telephone: +44 1243 755055



Many British specialist sports car makers have fallen by the wayside, but Morgan just keeps on going - and now it's looking to the future with a plan to be one of the first car makers to commercialise a hydrogen fuel-cell car.

The company is famous for its traditional production methods, but for next year's Geneva show managing director Charles Morgan announced a plan to launch the Morgan 'Life Car' - a hydrogen-fuelled, zero-emissions car - but built using Morgan's wooden-framed body.

The car is intended to demonstrate that a zero emission vehicle can also be fun to drive. Artist's impressions of the car show a vehicle shaped like the Aero 8, but with aerodynamic fairings covering the wheel arches. It will be a very lightweight car with a fuel cell hybrid powertrain, which will give it a 200-mile range. It's being developed in partnership with hi-tech specialists including Cranfield University, QinetiQ, Oxford University and Linde AG.



Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has produced the 3, 000th Phantom since the launch of the company in January 2003. It was commissioned by a UK customer through Rolls-Royce Motor Cars of London and has been delivered today.


The car's new owner collected the Diamond Black Phantom from the showroom in Berkeley Square. Mrs Tchenguiz-Imerman, a London based socialite, said that she was delighted with her new car as she accepted the keys from Rolls-Royce Chairman and Chief Executive, Ian Robertson.

Mr Robertson said, "Our home market has always been very special to us. It remains one of the most important for the company and our London dealer in particular has been consistently ranked as one of the top three in the world since we launched the Phantom in 2003. It is fitting that they have sold such a significant car."


He continued, "An advantage of operating in the rarefied atmosphere of the super luxury segment means that I regularly meet our customers. It has been a pleasure to hand over this car today to someone who is so enthusiastic about the Phantom."

The order for the 3, 000th Phantom built at Goodwood was placed with Stephen Foulds, the Sales Manager for the Rolls-Royce Berkeley Square dealership. To date, Stephen has sold more than 130 Phantoms, making him the most successful Rolls-Royce salesman in the world. He puts his success down to an exceptional product and an excellent location. However, a passion for and deep knowledge of the brand play a significant part in Stephen's achievement.


To come later this month....

More news from the Geneva show after our visit to what is now the major car show in Europe.

News from the launch of the 2007 Goodwood Motor Sport events as we interview many of the personalities involved and test drive the daunting Festival of Speed hill climb.


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