TOPS NEWS March 2007  (January follows it)

Tom Walkinshaw of BRDC fame and former owner of F1 Arrows, is being investigated in Australia to see if he owns 2 of the teams in the V8 Supercar series.  Two entered teams may not be owned by the same person.

Luxury car manufacturers are expected to be the main casualties of future CO2 legislation in Europe (130g of CO2 per km).  The Ferrari 612 Scaglietti has 475 compared with the Land Rover Freelander V6 at 298.

Abu Dhabi will host a Grand Prix in 2009 on a new racing circuit on Yas Island which will combine a 1.8-mile permanent circuit with a special 1.5-mile section running through a built-up area and around a marina.   The Chinese Grand Prix is not expected to be jeopardised by the massive corruption scandal involving Yu Zhifei, the manager of the Shanghai International Circuit.  Chimay, which was in danger of losing race approval has found the money to improve its circuit.  Brands Hatch has moved the barrier on the inside of Paddock Hill to create more run-off area.  Oulton Park’s run-off area at Druids has been extended.  Shelsley Walsh hill is to be resurfaced. Dubai F1’s 5 million sq ft theme park has started construction.  The future of Pukekohe circuit, N.Z. is in doubt due to noise regulations, a newly built circuit nearby and increased horse racing.  A 100 year lease on Donington Park circuit, land, and Grand Prix car collection, has been bought by Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd., a newly formed company owned by Lee Gill and Simon Gillett, who think that circuit facilities are biased in favour of the competitor, not the customer.  The media suggest that development at Donington (650 acres) could threaten the British Grand Prix at Silverstone (760 acres).  Exciting but expensive new plans for Silverstone were discussed at a BRDC forum in February.

The BRDC are expected to reduce their sportscar championship to 4 UK rounds.

Ferrari and Motorola have produced a new phone, the V6 Ferrari.  A mere $633 but you do get a fancy red leather case .

Maria McCarthy has  passed her driving test after 23 years, 250 lessons and 10 instructors.

Henry Hobhouse, a Somerset farmer, has converted his Jaguar to run on rotting apple fumes.

A German lorry driver won £60,000 after he agreed to throw most of it out of the window as a novel idea to use the money. He was allowed to keep £10,000 after competition judges ruled £50,000 was enough to qualify as 'most'.

Councils are considering allowing Motorists carrying  passengers to use underused bus lanes in rush hour.

An Irish convict who stole a car to get back to prison after missing a weekend release deadline has been given a 6 month suspended jail sentence.

The Government is considering making driving tests more difficult.

The Formula One group of companies has secured $2.9 billion of funding from the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lehman Brothers, in order to pay off a loan taken out by new owners CVC to buy the Formula One group.  For this, a new company called Delta Topco has been established in Jersey and Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan (which were previously shareholders in SLEC before the CVC purchase) are both shareholders, as are CVC, the Ecclestone Family Bambino Trust and Ecclestone himself.

Richmond Borough Council is to increase the residents’ permit charge to £300 for owners of cars in Vehicle Excise Duty band G (4 x 4s).

22,400 drivers were banned from driving in 2005 and 13.5m were given points. claims that 50% of drivers continue to use their mobile phone while driving.  Penalties will be incurred if spotted by any of the cameras.

The DoT confirmed that from 1st April police and camera partnerships will receive a fixed amount to pay for road safety measures thus removing the suspicion that they could be profiting from camera penalties.

As predicted, the police will soon have powers to enter your property and remove any car which is not insured unless it is registered for SORN.  And Councils are expected to be allowed to seize cars, wherever parked, for outstanding parking tickets, even if incurred by a previous owner.

16,000 motorbikes now drive into London (free) every day but there are only 4500 motorbike parking spaces. To pay to expand these, there is a proposal to charge bikers £1.50 per day. 

A Swedish taxi driver who allowed three car crash victims to shelter in his cab was shocked when rescuers pulled out hydraulic metal cutters and sliced the side off the cab to 'free' them.

The government claims it takes £50 billion in car tax p.a. which is almost £1bn p.w.

42 cameras have been installed at traffic-light controlled junctions in Avon & Somerset to monitor cars but they show that cyclists ignore the signals.

The cost of converting UK’s road signs to metric is estimated at £760m.

The Government is refusing to fund councils' public transport schemes unless they are linked to a new tax on motorists. 

The AA has stated that ‘Eco’ parking is a farce. 

The number of people killed in road accidents has increased despite the proliferation of speed cameras, according to new Government figures.

Bohmte, a German town, has scrapped all its traffic signs as part of an EU backed project to encourage responsible driving.

A Chinese car dealer covered a VW Beetle in 200 kgs of chocolate for Valentine's Day. 

Malaysia's main ruling party has volunteered to help curb street crime, offering new motorbikes to gangs of illegal street racers if they spend their time catching thieves instead.

Frank Rinderknecht, a Swiss, has invented a car with a completely transparent body and floor made of  Makrolon, a high-tech plastic.   Weight 750 kg, 2-cyl 750 cc Weber engine fuelled by CO2-emission-reducing bio-ethanol.

Ferrari announced a 16% increase in profit to $240m for 2006 with a turnover of $1.9bn. 

More than £1m in fines in London remain unpaid by foreign countries, including the US.  The extension of the London congestion zone has included several new Embassies, some of whom are refusing to pay. Diplomats in Britain do not pay income tax, TV fee, fuel tax, inheritance tax or council tax on their home residence. 

NCP, the car park operator which employs 4,000 traffic wardens and made £245m profit in just 18 months, is being sold by owners 3i.  

TOPS NEWS January 2007

The Monaco Grand Prix attracts 200,000 spectators on race day and brings in £100m plus £14m from trackside advertising.  Most other circuits may not keep the revenue from the advertising. 

The price of platinum is expected to rise due to environmental legislation relating to emissions from vehicles.  Half the world’s platinum is used in autocatalysts or autocats to help remove harmful emissions from car engines.

Ken Livingstone is intending to bring in a new fine in London on the highest polluting vehicles.

G-Wiz electric cars have taken London by storm with 750 sold just before Christmas.  Costing £7,000 they pay no congestion or parking charges, top speed 42 mph.  

A case of fraud has been opened against Peter Hartz, a former personnel director of Volkswagen.   

Slovakia has recorded a record growth rate of 9.8%, thought to be largely due to Volkswagen’s decision to produce Audi SUVs there.

The Government is considering making an MOT compulsory every two years when the car is 4 years old instead of annually after 3 years.

The United States Embassy now owes over £1m in London congestion charges.  Ken Livingstone has threatened legal action to recover the money.

Zipcar, the world's largest car sharing company, has announced that it is launching its service in London with 100 vehicles.  London residents are able to join by paying £50 annually.

There is a new Maserati Fashion Collection.  Pure, Executive, Leisure, Gift, Passion and MC (Maserati Corse). 

Parking attendants in Torbay have been seen driving around in an untaxed van.

In 2006 Lamborghini sold more than 2,000 cars - for the first time in its history.

Rolls-Royce has increased its workforce at the Goodwood factory because of the demand for its cars from China, which is now greater than that from Japan.

Car sales in China grew 29% in 2006 to 4 million and will soon overtake Japan to become the world’s second-biggest car market after America.

A motorist has been killed in a head-on crash involving a police car testing a speed camera  on a narrow country road in daylight. The police car was being followed by a Volvo, fitted with a VASCAR device, designed to calculate the speed of the vehicle in front.  32 members of the public died last year in high-speed chases with police cars, compared with 9 deaths in 1997. 

The channel tunnel rail link at Waterloo will close on November 13th 2007 and be replaced by a terminal at St. Pancras.  Journey time between London and Paris will be reduced to 2¼ hours.

BP, Shell and Total are in legal dispute over the rights to the name V-Power.

New government guidelines indicate a reduction or scrapping of the night curfew (10 pm – 7 am) covering delivery lorries.

There are 440,000 lorries in Britain including 90,000 articulated lorries over 38 tonnes (the typical supermarket delivery lorry).

Only 12% of freight is carried by rail in the UK, compared with 23% in Germany.

On a typical day in the UK there are 95,000 British lorries on the road and 12,000 foreign, whose drivers do not have to follow the same strict working hours and safety rules required by the UK.

The Government has confirmed that mobility scooters must be registered with the DVLA.

Terry Flynn, 72, walked away with cuts and bruises - after swerving to avoid an animal and driving his car over a 100ft cliff.

Alexandra Palace will once again host a classic motor show in February – ‘Ally Pally 07’.

The FBHVC have started a data base and are liasing with the DVLA and police over stolen classic cars.  A stolen Aston Martin DB6 Volante was recently found in the underground car park of a nearby hotel.

Insurance Australia Group (IAG), bought the Equity Insurance Group (which includes Equity Red Star) for £570m, making it Britain’s 5th largest motor insurer.

Porsche says it has no takeover plans for Volkswagen, despite building up a 27% stake.

Project Kimber has signed a deal with Alan Lubinsky, owner of AC, to lease the AC and Ace names, enabling them to sign a contract with DaimlerChrysler to build an AC Ace.  It will have a Mitsubishi 1 litre engine with turbocharger to drive the rear wheels.

There are now 5827 traffic lights in London and another 1800 are due by 2008.   

The abuse of off-street car parking is still classed as a criminal offence and cannot be dealt with by traffic wardens.  The Aberdeen City Council objected and lost its case.  It may have to refund over £1 million for parking tickets issued between March 2003 and October 2006 – if those penalized make a claim.

There is a suggestion that people be charged if it is possible to park on the street outside their homes but in Stockport the executive want councillors to be exempt and their executive to have free parking throughout the borough.

The Paul Ricard circuit now has run-off areas with a new kitty litter mixture.  It was tested using an F1 car which stopped in a short distance and was able to drive out. The facilities are excellent, but then it is Ecclestone’s circuit!  Work is underway at Spa,  Donington and Le Mans 

The BRDC has voted through plans for Porsche Cars GB to develop a Porsche driver training facility at Silverstone.

We are sorry to report the death of Frank Lockhart and Clay Regazzoni.

Over 600 mini-motos have been crushed or seized by police in Bristol.  Mini-motos may only be used on private land where permission has been granted.

Gina Campbell continues to try and raise money to restore the wreckage of her father’s speedboat Bluebird.   The Lakeland Motor Museum which houses the Campbell Bluebird exhibition has been sold and will move to Backbarrow.

Nigel Macknight hopes to break the world record of 317.60 mph with his £4m boat Quicksilver, using the same stretch of water in the Lake District where Campbell lost his life. Quicksilver's Rolls-Royce Spey engine came from a Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer aircraft. It will generate 25,000 h.p. compared with Bluebird at 10,000 h.p.

Trying for a new Landspeed record  is Nigel Fossett, who bought Craig Breedlove’s ’97 Spirit of America.  It will be powered by a single J-79 turbojet engine. 

The Coys auction catalogue for Maastrich advises that they have two identical cars, a 1961 Fiat 1200 Spyder and a 1961 Fiat 12000 Spyder.

The Automatic Number Plate Recognition scheme has been operating successfully in Devon and Cornwall and enabled the police to catch a number of drivers of untaxed vehicles and some criminals.

Tom Matthews, a Welsh cab driver, was caught by a speed camera speeding at 420mph in his 12-year-old Vauxhall Cavalier in Newport.  South Wales Safety Camera Partnership apologised and blamed "an employee processing error".

Over 2,500 uninsured cars have been seized by the Police in Durham and over 1300 have been crushed.  The Metropolitan Police apparently sold a seized car on ebay which did not have an MOT.  Was that legal?

A policeman refused to chase youths stealing a motorbike because they were not wearing helmets and he might get sued if they were hurt.