TOPS NEWS November follows this one and January 2010 follows that - sorry for the confusion.

TOPS NEWS September 2009

An illegal immigrant hid between the fuel tank and the chassis of an immigration vehicle carrying 20   border patrol officers when it took the Channel Tunnel from Calais to Folkestone.  The man escaped! 

Marco Amoretti and Marcolino De Candia thought their car's MOT would cover them for sailing as well as driving but Italian coastguards confiscated the bright pink Maserati for not having papers for the water.  In 1999 the men travelled from the Canary Islands to Martinica island in the eastern Caribbean in a converted Ford Taunus and a Volkswagen Passat. 

Bureaucrats at the Department for Transport received bonuses of £10m last year despite anger at the state of Britain’s roads and railways.

A 1925 Type 13 Brescia Bugatti has been recovered from Lake Maggiore.   It had lain submerged since 1937, when its owners abandoned it rather than pay the punitive import duties of the time.

Mark Muller, a Missouri car dealer, is offering a free Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle with every new or secondhand truck bought. 

The Extra-Terrestrial Vehicle, built by Mike Vetter of Florida on a Chevy Aveo frame was on eBay at an asking price of $86,000. 

Drivers in Ukraine are driving with their number plates upside down to express displeasure at speeding tickets.  The law is vague about how the plates should be mounted.

The California Air Resources Board think that cars with dark colour have to work harder than those with lighter colours.  

Figures from the Dept of Energy indicate that 71% of the pump price of fuel goes to the Treasury.

Phillip Lilley was fined for driving 3 feet beyond a red light to allow an emergency police van through in Manchester.

An Australian man has been arrested after police caught him asleep at the wheel of a stolen Audi - in a car wash.  The garage attendant called the police at 3 a.m. after the car hadn't moved for an hour.

Chinese farmer Wu Zhongyuan, has made his own helicopter out of wood. It took 3 months to complete and cost under £1,000.  The blades are made from an elm tree, the engine is from a motorcycle and the frame is reinforced with steel pipes. 

Car ownership in the UK has risen by 30% in the last 10 years to 29.6 million.

Smart cars with a 12ft mast with camera are being parked at road junctions by the Greater Manchester Police to catch drivers using mobile phones.

Z-Un Noon from Tower Hamlets took Newnham Council to court for emotional distress caused by 4 parking tickets.  When the Council representative failed to appear he was awarded £5,000 per ticket (£20,000).

Boris Johnson has plans to allow cyclists in London to go through red traffic lights if turning left.

Recently released figures from 27 police forces showed that 2 billion number plates were read and stored last year by CCTV cameras indicating that an average motorist is logged 100 times a year, raising concern from civil rights compaigners.  Forces will soon record 50 million licence plates per day. 

In 2001 there were 1,571 scamera sites in Britain.  In 2007 there were 4309 - more than other European countries.

John Carver is hoping to fly 800 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats in a flying tricycle. 

Speeding tickets worth €11.3 million have been cancelled in Italy after police raided the HQ of a speed camera manufacturer who had supplied 70 municipalities with radar units with the same serial number (thus avoiding the necessary individual calibration).  In a criminal conspiracy, many of the cameras had been calibrated to fine motorists adhering to the speed limit.

200 Mercedes, Porsche and BMW have been set on fire in Germany by the Leftist group protesting about the gentrification of the capital’s working class suburbs.

A British built steam car nicknamed the “fastest kettle” has broken the 103-old world land speed record.  It reached 151 mph on its second run compared with 127 mph achieved in a Stanley steam car in 1906. 

Boris Johnson has announced his wish to use hydrogen-powered cars and buses in London and for a network of hydrogen filling stations to be in place before the 2012 Olympics. 

An Australian traffic warden fixed a parking ticket to a dog's lead after it was 'parked' illegally outside a shopping centre tied to a fence by an elderly lady who left it with a bowl of water while she went inside.   A Council spokesman said a dog was considered to be "at large" if the owner was not there.

Two feuding mayors of neighbouring Paris suburbs, Levallois-Perret and the Hauts-de-Seine have each declared the same street one-way - in opposite directions.

CVC Capital Partners has filed the 2008 accounts for its Delta 3 subsidiary, the parent company of the Formula One group. These reveal that the revenues of the sport rose by $120m to $1.06 billion last year.

The Pacific islands of Samoa have changed to driving on the left – the first country to change its traffic flow since Ghana in 1974.  The government hopes this will encourage Samoans living in Australia and NZ to send home their economical right-hand drive cars.

Baboons at a safari park in northern England have learnt how to break into car rooftop luggage boxes. 

The world's fastest fire engine - a Nissan GT-R car which does 0-60 in 3.5 seconds top speed 190 mph, has been delivered to the Nürburgring circuit.   

Abridged version of TOPS NEWS sent to members

Edited by Trisha Pilkington


TOPS NEWS November 2009

Edward Rodriguez claimed in Multnomah County Court that he didn't see the 6-foot-tall orange rabbit driving a pedicab because he was fumbling for a dropped mobile.  Pedicab driver Kate Altermatt said she was wearing a bright orange bunny and her Cascadia Pedicab was lit up with reflectors and a blinking red light.  The crash sent her flying and ruined the pedicab.    Rodriguez was found guilty of hit and run driving. 

Bristol City Council has decided to reward their 45 traffic wardens who generate the most revenue with a lunch and an early finish to the day.   The Council made £8.5 million from parking charges and fines last year.

The Office of Fair Trading is investigating the £35 billion used car market.  It is claimed that dealerships pass on ex-rental cars as ‘one previous owner’ which is thought to imply the wrong information.

Thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money has been spent putting up 60 lampposts and signs around one bus stop in the rural village of Swavesey, Cambridgeshire. 

A ‘barmy’ biker has been banned by police after converting a beer crate into a mini quad bike. “We were very impressed with the workmanship so we congratulated him and then we confiscated the machine.  It only has a tiny one cylinder engine but somehow he managed to break the speed limit."

An electric unicycle has been unveiled by Honda.   In order to move, a driver simply has to lean in the direction they wish to travel.   The device stands 26ins high, weighs just 22lbs and is powered by a lithium ion battery that runs for one hour before needing to be recharged.  Max sped 3.7 mph.  (Think we wrote a similar item 2 years ago! Ed)

Traffic police in Bari, Italy, pulled over a motorist  and found more than 1,700 animals crammed into the boot of his car.  There were 216 budgies, 300 white mice, 150 hamsters, 30 Japanese squirrels, 6 chameleons and more than 1,000 terrapins.

Deng Huaibin of Nanjing, is applying for a patent for his home-made amphibious bicycle which has a foldable airbag on each of the wheels, and seven paddles on the back.  “It rides like a normal bike on land, but can also be filled with air and travel on water at 5 kph” says Deng who used more than 40 car inner tubes to make the four airbags. 

Police chiefs have been criticised over plans to give officers a two-volume, 93-page guide - on ‘how to ride a bike’. An ACPO spokeswoman said: "This guidance may have been drawn up by ACPO but we haven't fully approved it yet."

Motorists who use a town centre car park in Wales may have to pay at one end but not the other because it is owned by two councils. Powys County Council want to start charging for their half while Llanfyllin Town Council plan to keep their side free, to attract tourists and shoppers.

The government has said that hospital car park charges will be scrapped within 3 years despite bringing in £2 million p.a.   

A new EU regulation allows for speeding fines to be pursued in overseas countries provided they are over €70 but the weak pound is allowing many foreigners to avoid payment.

Figures released by the Met. show scameras were activated by foreign-registered vehicles on 8880 occasions in 2007/8 but the majority escaped fines as they could not be identified.

36 prisoners were sent 40 miles by road transport to another magistrates’ court because staff refused to escort them up 92 steps when the lift broke down.

A new law will make it an offence to be the registered keeper of an uninsured car even if it is not used on the road and is on private property with a tax disc.   The scheme will use the motor insurance industry database which is currently used by the police and DVLA.

The ‘Conficker worm’ caused computers to crash in Manchester town hall forcing the cancellation of £43,000 of tickets issued for driving in bus lanes.

Over 2,500 farmers from across the EU, blockaded the EU’s HQ, burning tyres and hay during an emergency meeting of farm ministers.  They drove hundreds of tractors to the centre of Brussels and covered the streets in milk and manure. 

In a study of 7 different convertibles on British motorways, researchers measured the noise levels when driving at speeds of 50, 60, and 70 mph.  They found that drivers are consistently exposed to between 88 and 90 decibels due to a combination of noise from road surfaces, traffic congestion and the wind.  The noise level of normal conversation is 60 decibels. "Long or repeated exposure to sounds over 85 decibels is widely recognized to cause permanent hearing loss," said Philip Michael, from the Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

Drivers have objected to the police putting ‘awareness’ stickers on their cars which warn that there are items inside which could be removed by thieves, because they claim it is an advertisement to steal.

Zambian police are arresting drivers they believe are honking their horns in protest at a recent court case in which the former president was cleared of corruption charges.

Scottie Roberson, has a car with the personalised number plate 'XXXXXXX' and has received £12,000 parking fines because traffic wardens in Birmingham, Alabama, enter seven letter Xs onto their forms when they issue tickets to cars without plates.  The fines have now been cancelled.

Mohammed Patel, 24, a Briton who cost the insurance industry 1.6 million pounds by staging 92 crashes between 2005 and 2008 as part of a scam to win fraudulent payouts, has been jailed for 4½ years.  Each time he persuaded the other driver to believe they were at fault. 

Researchers for Appirion in Germany have come up with an “iPhone app” which allows motorists to drive a car using their mobile phone.  The App has separate buttons for accelerator and brake, and a steering wheel, all controlled by Wi-Fi from a camera on the car roof.

It is expected that thousands of parking tickets paid by credit card may be cancelled as having been unlawful because Councils charged extra for the use of the card.

Bulgarian prosecutors are investigating a new gambling game known as 'Russian road roulette', in which drivers must jump red lights at busy intersections at high speed and not crash into any other cars or pedestrians.  Onlookers also gamble on the result.

Police in North Wales are having to find £18,000 to refund motorists after issuing speeding tickets for people driving more than 30 mph in a 40 mph zone.

A South Korean court has rejected an attempt to prosecute Seoul taxi drivers for one of their scariest habits - watching television while driving. A minority of taxi drivers in the congested capital convert dashboard screens used for GPS so they can receive TV programmes. Police statistics show that watching the screens caused 200 traffic incidents last year.

A van disappeared after 10 million euros was collected at a branch of the Bank of France in Lyon and the driver was left alone in the van.

East Midlands Airport will try to run a bus with a fuel produced from decomposing organic waste, made by fuel producer Gasrec who were the UK's first commercial producer of liquid biomethane (LBM). 

Several new roads have cost more than 3 times the original estimate and the Government’s major road schemes could rise from £8.4 bn to £12.3 bn.

Parking generates c £1.5 billion a year for local authorities.  Westminster Council raises £85m p.a. from on-street parking which is only £3m less than it makes from council tax.

Tennessee police claimed mechanic Christopher Walls was drumming up business by tampering with parked cars then charging to help start them.  He was fined $500.

A 700 yard bus lane has opened in Bath at a cost of £1,300 per yard.  It currently carries 4 buses per hour.

VW is to make the L1, a 180 mpg tandem 2-seater, weighing 840 lb, with carbon-fibre coachwork and rear-view TV cameras instead of wing mirrors.  Its 800cc engine is capable of 99 mph, 0-62mph in 14.3 secs and emits CO2 at just 39g/km. 


Abridged version of TOPS NEWS sent to members edited by Trisha Pilkington

TOPS NEWS January 2010

Abi Pattison paid £8,000 + £5,000 insurance excess to hire a Lamborghini Murciélago for her fiancé to drive to their wedding - however despite him crashing it causing £160,000 damage, she still married him.

About 1.5 million cars were sold in Britain in 2009  compared with 1.8 million over the same period in 2008, representing a 15% drop.  42 car manufacturers worldwide claim reduced sales but 8 say theirs were up.  Motorcycle sales dropped 18% in the first 8 months of 2009 compared with the previous year and in August were down 30% on the previous August.  54% of all motorcycle journeys were to work.      

Traffic lights could be turned off at night to improve traffic flow.  There are 140,000 in Britain with the number of traffic signals in London having increased by 42% in the past 10 years.

Anti-terrorism police blew up Michael Raphel’s Honda Civic when he left his car on double yellow lines in Horse Guards Avenue to go to a  dinner the night before the Remembrance Sunday Parade in Whitehall.  He is unlikely to be covered by his insurance as he was illegally parked.

The City of Lincoln council changed its parking rules in April, requiring blue badge holders to pay the standard charges. But James Coyle-King has complained as he is 3ft 6 ins tall and finds the car park ticket machines too high.

British engineers have started to build what they hope will be the world's fastest car, the Bloodhound, capable of reaching 1,000 mph and breaking the land speed record.      

New car registrations fell by 6.4% in 2009, the worst since 1995. However sales were 21% higher than the previous year. With the return to 17.5% VAT and the removal of the scrappage scheme due at the end of February, the motor industry expect a further downturn in car sales.

Rome's largest taxi cooperative is setting up an on-line booking system or prepayment via telephone text message to try and improve the bad name of the city's cabbies, notorious among tourists who are often charged twice what it should be to travel from the airport into town.  A colourful billboard campaign recently launched by the town council announces: "Rome loves tourists."

Italian police officers wrote off a £200,000 Gallardo coupe when it smashed into a row of parked cars. It was given to them by Lamborghini to help with high-speed pursuits.  Embarrassed police tried to confiscate phone cameras from witnesses but abandoned the plan when hundreds turned up to view the crash. 

Londoners lose an average of 10,000 mobile phones in the back of taxis every month and a further 1,000 other portable technologies like laptops or iPods, according to a survey of taxi drivers in London.     

Dr Richard Dawood left his scooter on the forecourt outside his clinic in London – land which he owned - but Camden council said he owned the “subsoil” and the “tarmaced surface” was subject to public access and therefore parking restrictions applied.  He lost his court case and had to pay 30 parking tickets.

209 people with previous convictions for offences including indecent assault and drug dealing have knowingly been granted taxi driver licences in Wolverhampton and Worcester.  The investigation findings come after a series of freedom of information requests to councils and police authorities across the region.

Mr Turley, a 71 year-old retired steelworker from Oldbury, West Midlands, who walks with crutches due to chronic knee problems, was asked to show his badge at a parking control office in West Bromwich when he tried to void a previous ticket. He was inside the office for a few minutes, but returned to find his car had a £35 penalty notice. He immediately went back to object, but was told by staff that they were unable to void it, and he must pay the fine and then appeal.   

A millionaire motorist was given a record fine of 299,000 Swiss francs after Swiss police caught him racing through a village in the canton of St Gallen at 100 km per hour in his Ferrari Testarossa,  The previous record fine was 111,000 Sw Fr to a Porsche driver in Zurich.

According to Kevin Wheatcroft, the future of Donington Park has been secured.  But Wheatcroft now has a less saleable investment than when DVLL were in charge with a contract for a Grand Prix.   

34 Councils in England are using CCTV cameras to issue parking tickets generating £3m p.a.  Motoring organisations have expressed concern that the “ghost” ticketing can be unfair with drivers not being aware of their ticket until it arrives by post sometime later.


It has been suggested that electric cars should be fitted with a cowbell so that they can be heard approaching.  The Japanese are to make electric cars which can speak, beep or mimic galloping horses or running water.  A Nissan spokesman expected that their car would have an engine noise………..

The Automobile Club de France has an archive of 2500 glass plate photographs covering the years from 1890 to 1908.  These are being restored and added to their website at the rate of 50 per month.  They can be purchased from:

Police used surveillance cameras to photograph 3 billion car number plates in 2009 - 6000 plates per second.

An abridged version of TOPS NEWS which is sent to members.  Edited by Trisha Pilkington