• TOPS NEWS January 2008

    94 year old Georges Houel has retired and sold his motoring themed restaurant, Le Volant (steering wheel) in Paris. Members often dined there during the Rallye de Paris and Rétromobile. Georges had a long rallying career in Maseratis, Lancias and Alfa Romeos. He was understandably proud of his 2nd place in the Tour de France sharing a 300SL with Stirling Moss.
  • The minute long national anthem is played twice a day in Bangkok during the raising and lowering of the flag and there is a suggestion that every time the anthem is played traffic would come to a halt. Said General Pricha Rochanasena "Why can't motorists stop their cars for the sake of the country? They already spend more time than that in traffic jams."
  • Police arrested Marco Verdi in Italy after he attempted to rob a petrol station with a bow and arrow.
    Meng Jie designed and refitted a bicycle as an attempt to promote the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 
  • Police in Sarajevo have set up a permanent patrol on a hill after a spate of accidents in which young lovers have accidentally bounced their cars over the edge.
  • Clifford Clark III, has been arrested in Knoxville, Tennessee after a speed camera was shot three times with a high-powered rifle. In Britain, speed cameras have been beaten, burned and hacked down by angry motorists but not shot at, so far.
  • IBM has won the contract to run the London congestion charge, previously done by Capita.
  • Lamborghini chose the Ghedi military base to test its new Reventón against a Tornado.
  • Police in Marignane near Marseille wrote to Father Christmas on Official police note paper after being told there was not enough money to replace their ageing cars: "Dear Santa, our cars can't handle the job any more. If you think we are exaggerating, you can try out the cars yourself. Even your sleigh is better than one of them." Local authorities have now put up the cash to buy new cars for police after seeing the letter published in a local paper.
  • Paul Brannan a British bus driver fed up with the competition from cheap European rivals has turned the tables by going to Poland to get a job. "Come on over here - it's a great life. I can't understand why all the Poles are heading off to the UK. Anyone who sells a shoebox flat in the UK can afford a big house with a garden here. And there are so many little things that make life better - no junk mail on the doorstep every morning for starters." A bus driver earns £240 - £340 a month in Poland.
  • Guenther Eichmann, was clocked doing 40 mph down a high street in his wheelchair, he told police in Geseke, Germany, that he was a former engineer and had modified the wheelchair's electric engine so it could go faster. His vehicle was confiscated and he was given a £300 fine.
  • Westminster CC is to spend £10m on a vast network of CCTV cameras to improve enforcement of its parking regulations.
  • Traffic in London’s morning rush hour is now slower than before Livingstone brought in the congestion charge.
  • A giant motorbike powered by a Russian tank engine has been recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the heaviest in the world. 4½ tonnes, 17’ 4” long and 7’ 6” tall. The engine weighs 1.8 tonnes.
  • Chrysler (Detroit) is to recall 575,417 vehicles as long-term wear on the gear lever assembly could cause them to drop out of Park without the key in the ignition. 
  • Ken Livingstone has spent £9.68m on 10 hydrogen buses even though the average bus occupancy in London is 15.
  • Prosecutors believe they have uncovered sensational evidence showing a close link between Ferdinand Piëch (VW) and a union boss currently standing trial for bribery and embezzlement. The trial centres on claims that higher echelons of VW management threw lavish prostitutes-and-drugs parties for union bosses in exotic locations to persuade unions to agree to change working practices.
  • Indian firms Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra and One Equity Partners are still bidding for Jaguar and Land Rover. Tata is expected to be named as the preferred bidder. Tata has just launched the ‘Nano’ which sells for £1,300, is fairly basic but does 50 mpg, has a speed of 75 mph. Some US Jaguar dealers feel that if Tata buys Jaguar it could erode the brand name.
  • Islington council is offering £100 to any resident who does not renew their annual parking permit in the hope they will buy a bicycle. 52 bikes are stolen every day in London.
  • Transport for London is doubling its borrowing to £1.25 billion for 2008.
  • The legal rights to the marque Chevron Cars Ltd were bought in 2006 by Chris Smith, founder of Westfield Cars Ltd and he is now making the B8 and B16. However Chevron Racing Cars Ltd was formed by Vin Malkie and his wife Helen Bashford Malkie and they also are making the B1 Mk2 and some new B8s and B16s. Bit of a tangle.
  • In 2007 1.8m drivers signed a petition against road pricing and the idea was shelved but now the Government is considering a toll lane on some motorways. The RAC have said that drivers might accept a ‘toll’ lane provided it was additional to the existing roads.
  • Advertising for new cars will have to devote 20% of available space to details about CO2 emissions.
    A 100-year-old Japanese man who was arrested in Tokyo after his car hit an umbrella held by a child said driving was his way of avoiding senility.
  • A car thief drove off in a Toyota 4x4 – but jumped out when he saw the enormous Great Dane-Alsatian in the back seat.
  • A Bulgarian army officer, Major Alexei Petrov, stole a WWll German Panzer IV tank from a military garrison in Elchovo, near the Turkish border. He was caught by secret service who had been tracking him for months and discovered he had already smuggled a similar tank to the West. Although worthless to the army the tank is worth a lot to collectors.
  • Australian newlyweds kissing on the backseat of their hired car were unaware their chauffeur was street drag racing, until a police siren broke their romantic bliss and ended the race.
  • 600 vehicles and their crews assembled in Lisbon for the start of the Dakar rally only to be told that it was cancelled due to terrorist threats. Many competitors felt that the decision should have been made before they arrived there. The rally has run for 30 years and claimed the lives of 49 people.
  • Many city centers in Germany have now banned cars without catalyst or particle filter. All other cars need a special sticker in the windscreen. But Germany has acknowledged that cars over 30 years are historic and will have a special licence plate and not be banned. The EU wants to include a rule that foreign visitors will not need the car sticker.
  • Toyota sold 9.37m vehicles in 2007 which is expected to be higher than GM who have held the record as the world’s largest motor manufacturer for 76 years.
  • 40% of the 28 million daily journeys in London are still made by car.
  • The new Fiat 500, voted Car of the Year, is being displayed (launched) in one of the pods on the London Eye on 21st January.
  • Formula Junior have created a new ‘Junior Junior’ series to cope with demand.
  • The VSCC have expanded their eligible PVT cars to include Crossley, Daimler, Franklin, Lanchester, Rover, SS, Tatra and Triumph.
  • Motor Racing Legends are to run the BRDC Historic Sportscar races for 2008.
  • The BRDC have appointed Motion Works UK Limited (Roger Etcell) on behalf of Classic Automotive Events Limited, to run the Silverstone Classic in the hope of increasing spectator numbers from 44,000 in 2007 to 90,000 in the good old days. 20 races are planned and the timetable and ticket prices were due to have been announced on 10th January – nothing yet seen. 

Edited by Trisha Pilkington