Muscle Cars Dominate

Shannon’s latest auction was held back on December 5 and, as always, a lot of beautiful and interesting machinery went under the hammer.

This 1932 Ford Victoria hot rod coupe sold for $53,000 dollars.

1932 Ford Victoria hot rod coupe


This beautiful right-hand drive 1936 Auburn 653 Phaeton sold for $104,000.

1936 Auburn 653 Phaeton


But, as always, it was the muscle cars that attracted a lot of attention from the bidders.

If you had $112,500 you could have walked away with this restored 1973 Holden Torana LJ GTR XU-1

1973 Holden Torana GTR XU-1

And the top seller at the auction was this 1971 Ford XY GT Falcon 351 V8 automatic sedan that sold for a cool $127,000

1971 Ford XY GT Falcon 351 V8

By | January 4th, 2017|General|Comments Off on Muscle Cars Dominate

Toxic Dangers in Motor Vehicles

Most people know some of the dangers that can be found within cars, even in modern cars today. Whether it is statistics on traffic accidents or pollutants coming out of the tailpipe, vehicles do receive a fairly large amount of negative attention.

What many drivers do not hear much about is some of the toxins that can be found within the vehicles themselves. New studies are being released regularly that outline a wide array of these toxic dangers, and it is something that every driver and car owner should be made aware of.

The first thing to understand is why these chemicals are used in vehicle manufacturing in the first place. Most uses of these toxic substances are inert and will never affect the driver or the passengers within the vehicles.

Chemicals such as bromine and arsenic can be deadly if ingested or inhaled and are occasionally used in some of the wiring or within seat cushions themselves. Due to the nature of these materials, it would be nearly impossible for anyone within a vehicle to even come into contact with these chemicals, much less ingest or inhale them.

Another major reason for using these chemicals is to make otherwise flammable products flame retardant. This happens quite a bit in the industry for devices that humans come into close contact with such as the seat covers, flooring, and child safety seats.

There are quite a few federal and international regulations against what chemicals can be used, but many manufacturers still opt for persistent, bioaccumulative toxics, or PBTs. These toxins have almost no affect on the human body if contact is only made for a short period of time however they can become problematic for those that are spending an increased amount of time within their automobiles.

Another major area of concern is within the engine compartment and other working parts of the vehicle.

Due to the fact that humans rarely come into contact with the engine and all its supporting components, much more leeway is given to manufacturers in what chemicals can be used. One major concern, especially in older vehicles, is with asbestos.

Asbestos has been used worldwide to create brake pads, shoes, clutch plates, and other friction products. There has been a direct link between overexposure to these components of a vehicle and cancers such as mesothelioma.

For the average driver, most are not going to get into their vehicle, only to collapse from a flood of toxic chemicals. For those that have spent extended amounts of time within their car, restore classic vehicles, or are mechanics by trade, these alarming reports should be of concern and lead to some changes of habit.

You can read more of Brian’s work on the dangers of asbestos here

By | November 26th, 2011|General|Comments Off on Toxic Dangers in Motor Vehicles

Novelty Car Mice

pink-car-mouseIf you’re using a computer to read this then the chances are that you’re using a mouse. Of course you could be one of those hairy-chested individuals who can actually use a touchpad but for most mere mortals, if they want to navigate their way through the web, a mouse is the tool of choice.

Of course most computer mice aren’t terribly exciting … sure they’re functional and they just go on working forever but basically they’re boring. That tendency to be boring has led to quite an after-market in novelty mice and right at the top of the list of popular mice is the novelty car mouse.

Some look a bit clunky but lately there have been some very cool examples of novelty car mice hitting the shops but are they any good? Do they actually work and do they last or are they just expensive toys?

Well the fact is that car mice might be a novelty but most of them do actually work and most of them work very well. In fact at least one manufacturer of novelty mice is happy to tell you that they test their mice and they know that the car mice they make are good for at least 3 million clicks.

You might find that a little hard to believe but my partner … a web designer by occupation … used a car mouse for over three years and, while the paint wore off the buttons from constant use, the mouse itself went on working perfectly.

So novelty car mice can last the distance but there’s one other thing to consider when you’re buying any sort of mouse and that’s usability. Is the mouse easy to use and does it fit the hand of the user?

The fact is that some novelty car mice are small and with my big hands they’re hard to use. They’re really not comfortable and my hand aches after just a few minutes use … but if you have a small hand then small car mice are ideal.

The one my partner used till the paint was worn away was small and it fitted her hand perfectly.

red-car-mouseBut all is not lost if you have big hands and want to brighten up your computer desk with a little individuality because there are big car mice. If you have a small hand then ones like the one you see here are not ideal for you but if you have big hands then this mouse would certainly suit you.

So if you’re a car enthusiast and you want get away from those boring mice that everyone uses then you can find a range of novelty car mice by following the link to … they carry a range of novelty car mice to suit hands of all sizes.

By | December 17th, 2010|General|Comments Off on Novelty Car Mice

What the Heck is THAT?

Korando-1So we’re heading home on the highway between Grafton and Ballina … the music’s playing … the camera is tucked away in the glove box and I’m looking forward to becoming the passenger when we reach Woodburn … everything is mellow … Toyotas abound and from a car nut’s point of view things are just a little boring.

Then we hit a passing lane and from about two cars back comes this strange black 4WD … she who must be obeyed has the camera out of the glove box as it zips by. She’s taking photos and I’m trying to work out who the heck makes a Korando.

That was our meeting with one of just 250 SsangYong Korando 4WDs that were imported into Australia between 1998 and 2005. The Korando is powered by a Mercedes petrol or diesel engine built under licence in Korea and the ‘3200’ on the rear of this vehicle indicates a 3.2 litre petrol engine.

Early Korandos (built prior to 1998) could be confused with a Jeep but by the time they arrived here in Australia the Korando looked like nothing else on earth. Unfortunately we didn’t get a photo of the front but if you search Google for Korando you’ll fine them and they’re definitely ugly … eye-catching but oh so butt-ugly.

Because so few were imported into Australia the lack of readily available spare parts seems to be the biggest complaint among owners and there are stories online of owners having their Korando off the road for six to eight weeks waiting for parts.

SsangYong Korando 3200

It seems that the Korando uses an unusual cable gear shift and that seems to be the major weak-spot in the Korando’s design. At least one Korando driver always travels with a spare just in case.

Resale value is not much and currently there’s a 2004 2.9 litre diesel, 4-speed auto Korando with only 116,671km on the clock for sale in NSW for only $12,999 and the ad quotes fuel consumption figures of 8.3L/100km for highway driving.

By | December 7th, 2009|General|1 Comment

Would Car2Go Work in Australia?

car2goThis is a Smartfortwo … it’s made by Daimler and, as you can see by the signage, it’s sold here in Australia. In Australia this little 2-seater is sold by Mercedes Benz dealers and mostly in the capital cities although you may see these vehicles out in other areas. In fact I took this photo here in Hervey Bay just a short while ago and as far as I know there are at least 2 more of these cars around town and at least one of those is in private ownership.

They’re quite a unique little vehicle with some interesting technology hiding under the bonnet but perhaps the most interesting thing about these vehicles is what Daimler is doing with them in two quite different parts of the world. Daimler is running a pilot programme called Car2Go in the city of Ulm in Germany and it will soon be running in Austin Texas too … yes, Texas where everything is much bigger … everything that is but the Smartfortwo.

Car2Go is a manufacturer-sponsored short-term car sharing programme where members pay by the minute for the hire of these vehicles. You don’t have to plan in advance to hire one of these … if you suddenly find that you need a car to get you across town you just call or drop into a Car2Go office and pick one up … or you can even pick one up in the street.

In Ulm there are around 200 Smartfortwo cars in the programme and once you join the programme you get card that gives you access to any car that might be parked in the street and is available for hire. Notice that bit about ‘parked in the street’?

You don’t have to return the vehicle to any particular depot … you can literally park it in the street and end the hire. Any other member of the programme who comes along will be able to tell if the vehicle is available for hire because a special light will be displayed in the window if it is available.

Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? Now I wonder if we could get this to work in Australia?

You can read more about the programme on the Car2Go website

By | November 17th, 2009|General|1 Comment

Australian Car Sales Rise for the First Time in Over a Year

The October new car market provides evidence of a broadening economic recovery with sales up on a year ago for the first time in 16 months.

Official VFACTS data released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) shows that 80,813 passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles were sold in October 2009 – an increase of 2.2 per cent compared to the same month last year.

“This was a good solid monthly result with the welcome return of private, business and rental buyers in larger numbers,” FCAI Chief Executive Andrew McKellar said.

“This is the first month since June 2008 that sales have increased when compared to the year before,” he said.

“The industry is looking to round out the year on a positive note and we expect a further surge in sales as businesses move to take advantage of the successful tax break prior to the end of the year,” Mr McKellar said.

“While the latest figures are encouraging we would urge the Reserve Bank to proceed with caution in contemplating further interest rate rises until the foundations of a full recovery are clearly established,” He said.

The SUV segment led the market in October recording a 9.5 per cent increase, followed by light commercials (up 3.4 per cent) and passenger cars (up 1.3 per cent). Heavy commercial vehicles recorded a decline of 24.9 per cent.

Year-to-date 762,787 new vehicles have been sold, down 11.7 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Toyota remains in the top sales position for October with 17,888 vehicle sales, ahead of Holden with 10,737 and Ford with 8,240.

Sales are up in every state compared to this time last year with the exception of Western Australia

By | November 6th, 2009|General|Comments Off on Australian Car Sales Rise for the First Time in Over a Year

Some People …

… just love their car way too much!

By | November 2nd, 2009|General|1 Comment

How Car Makers Choose Their Colours

If you’ve ever wondered how car manufacturers choose the colours that they’re going to use on their latest models then here is Chris Webb, a GM designer, to explain the process.


By | November 1st, 2009|General|Comments Off on How Car Makers Choose Their Colours

How Far Will You Travel to Buy a New Car?

A recent survey in the United States found that 38% of car buyers were prepared to travel up to an hour for the best deal and 63% of car buyers contacted more than one dealer during the decision making process.

It would be interesting to know how far Australian car buyers are prepared to travel for the best deal and I would expect that it would be somewhat higher here.

In our recent adventure in car buying we travelled over 2 hours … not so much for the deal … but to get the vehicle we wanted. We spoke or had contact (email) with five dealers and spent quite a bit of time searching dealer listings on Car Guide and Drive looking for the vehicle that fitted our requirements.

It’s also interesting to note that on the outskirts of our town a dealer about two hours north of here is running quite an expensive billboard campaign to attract car buyers.

By | October 26th, 2009|General|Comments Off on How Far Will You Travel to Buy a New Car?

Buying a Replacement Vehicle

Update on the very short saga of buying a replacement vehicle.

First my apologies to Parry the salesman. He’s only been out in Australia for a short time and hadn’t seen a Grandeur up close and personal before.

And now we want to thank him for making that transaction simple … easy … seamless and quick. We now have a replacement vehicle that looks like being everything we had hoped it would be.

So we’ve decided that, because of dodgy knees, it’s time to trade the Hyundai Grandeur for something that we can both just slide into but after the stress levels of yesterday and today I think I’d rather fight a lion bare-handed.

2000 Hyundai Grandeur

Yesterday we found a Kia Sportage we liked but as soon as we mentioned to the dealer that it had a terrible noise in the drive-line he almost threw us off the lot – there was no attempt at negotiation – it was just: “It’s obviously not the car for you and I’m not ready to sell it anyway” – and he walked away.

Today Toni has been dealing with another salesman who seems to think that Grandeurs should have a four-cylinder motor and doesn’t seem to believe us when we tell him that it’s got a three litre V6 and that’s the way it came from the factory. Why is buying a used vehicle so hard?

And the real killer? A car that was worth over $40k when it was new is only worth just on $3k nine years later. Is it any wonder we’re not thinking of buying new … or even near new … this time?

By | October 13th, 2009|General|1 Comment

Custom Built Motorhome

If you’re looking for a motorhome that’s definitely a cut above the rest then try this custom-built motorhome for size. It’s built on a 2002 long-wheelbase high roof Mercedes Sprinter van and it is definitely worth a look if you want a one-of-a-kind motorhome that you won’t have to do anything to.

Mercedes Sprinter motorhome for sale

It’s been built by a true craftsman and you can see more of this Mercedes Sprinter motorhome by following the link

By | September 14th, 2009|General|Comments Off on Custom Built Motorhome

The High Cost of Servicing Your Car

Back in the late 1990s my partner and I bought a new Hyundai Excel … it was cheap and a fun car to drive and that’s what made it right for us at the time. The salesman was genuinely friendly and so, out of curiosity I asked him what the dealer markup was for an Excel. I was surprised when he told me that the dealership made just $500 from the sale of the car.

$500??? Obviously the next thing I wanted to know was how on earth did the dealership make a profit when all they got was $500 and he was happy to tell me that the dealership made their money on servicing charges. He then went on to tell me how to make sure that we didn’t pay too much on each service.

Of course over the years the servicing costs have only gone up and these days even a basic service on your car can put a serious dent in your bank account but spare a thought for those people who drive the ultimate sports machines.

The cost of a first service on a Bugatti Veyron for example can set you back around $A27,300 and from there the cost of servicing just continues to rise. The first service on a Jaguar XJ220 won’t set you back that much – it’s only a mere $A14,000 (and I thought $200 for my last service was expensive).

By | August 19th, 2009|General|Comments Off on The High Cost of Servicing Your Car

Australian New Car Sales for July

The latest new vehicle sales data shows business sales remain strong and there have been improvements in the small car, sports car and SUV segments.

Official VFACTS data released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) shows that 75,333 passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles were sold in July 2009.

This result is down 10.3 per cent (8,643 vehicles) compared to July last year.

“There is evidence that there has been some flow-on from the very strong June sales result, particularly from buyers accessing the business tax break on new investments,” FCAI Chief Executive Andrew McKellar said.

“This has been a very successful stimulus measure and small businesses remain eligible for a 50 per cent tax break until the end of the year,” he said.

“It’s also important to remember that the tax break remains in place for general businesses at a rate of 10 per cent, which is still a valuable incentive,” Mr McKellar said.

“Some brands are reporting that as a result of stronger sales in recent months they have supply constraints on certain models, proving again the success of the Federal Government’s tax incentive,” he said.

Sales of small cars increased 2.7 per cent in July compared to the same month last year, sales of sports cars increased 10.3 per cent, sales in the SUV medium segment were up 2.4 per cent and the SUV luxury segment increased 7.2 per cent.

Year-to-date 530,556 new vehicles have been sold, down 15.3 per cent (96,115) compared to the same period last year.

Toyota continued in the top sales position in July with 16,664 vehicle sales, ahead of Holden with 10,266 and Ford with 7,783.

By | August 7th, 2009|General|Comments Off on Australian New Car Sales for July

New Car Sales In Australia Increase in June

The job market might have contracted in the United States and maybe even a little here in Australia but the Australian Government’s incentives to keep the economy moving seem to have worked in June. In fact it’s been the third highest selling month on record!

The latest new vehicle sales data shows encouraging results with clear signs the market has been boosted by strong, additional demand from business sales. Official VFACTS data released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) shows that 102,847 passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles were sold in June 2009.

This is the third highest selling month on-record, following 106,541 in June 2008 and 105,097 in June 2007.

“The June results are encouraging and a positive sign for the new vehicle market and the Australian economy,” FCAI Chief Executive Andrew McKellar said.

“This is the third highest selling month on-record and only the fourth time ever that sales have exceeded 100,000 units in a single month,” he said.

Business purchases in June were 46,679 – a 12 per cent increase on a year ago.  In particular, sales of utes, vans and light trucks have surged by 26.9 per cent compared to June 2008.

“The surge in business sales is directly attributed to the Federal Government’s business tax break and these figures provide clear evidence that this has been a very effective policy measure,” Mr McKellar said.

“Our analysis indicates that the business tax break has led to an additional 10,000 vehicles being sold over the past three months.  That is a 10 to 12 per cent boost to business sales and a five per cent increase for the total market,” he said.

“This is additional turnover of between three-and-four-hundred million dollars that is providing a direct boost to the car industry as well as other local businesses throughout the Australian economy,” Mr McKellar said.

“The tax break is classic stimulus; it is giving businesses the confidence to invest in their own future and securing jobs in the industry,” Mr McKellar said.

Year-to-date 455,223 new vehicles have been sold, down 16.1 per cent (87,472) compared to the same period last year.

Toyota continued in the top sales position in June with 21,410 vehicle sales, ahead of Holden with 12,167 and Ford with 10,194.

By | July 3rd, 2009|General|Comments Off on New Car Sales In Australia Increase in June

Another Australian Parts Supplier in Trouble

The ABC is reporting that Trident Tooling and Trident Plastics, both located in South Australia, have gone into voluntary administration after a major customer failed to make a payment.

Which customer that might be has not been disclosed but Trident’s major customers are Holden, Ford and Mitsubishi.

Trident Plastics remains in operation and the administrator is optimistic that the company will continue to operate but the future for Trident Tooling is unclear.

By | June 10th, 2009|General|2 Comments

New Car Dealers Closing

The big news in America at the moment is the dropping by General Motors and Chrysler of around 3,000 new car dealers.

General Motors has around 6,000 new car dealers spread across the country and plans to terminate up to 2,000 of them and the official announcement is expected soon.

Chrysler is said to be planning to shed around 1,000 new car dealers but an announcement by the manufacturer is not imminent.

The word on the streets is that we could see some Holden dealers disappear soon too. Just when that’s likely to happen is not clear but if it is going to happen then between now and the end of June is a good bet.

By | May 14th, 2009|Chrysler, General, General Motors|Comments Off on New Car Dealers Closing

New Car Sales in Australia Down Again in April

Each month the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries releases sales figures for the previous month and each month since the sale of new cars began to decline the statement that accompanies those figures has grown shorter and shorter.

This month it took just seven paragraphs to state the obvious and try and put a brave face on the situation.

This was the statement issued on May 5

Official VFACTS data released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) shows that 63,965 passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles were sold in April 2009; down 23.9 per cent (20,096 vehicles) compared to the same month in 2008.

“While the figures confirm that market conditions remain soft, the extent of the fall has been compounded by the timing of the Easter holidays”, FCAI Chief Executive Andrew McKellar said.

Year-to-date 276,935 new vehicles have been sold, down 20.3 per cent compared to the same period last year.

“After adjusting for seasonal factors, sales in April appear to be broadly consistent with results of recent months and we remain hopeful that conditions will soon stabilise,” Mr McKellar said.

The automotive industry will continue to promote the opportunities that exist in the next two months for businesses to take advantage of the Federal Government’s enhanced tax break for new vehicle purchases.

“There are signs of increased buyer interest in and awareness of the incentive programme which certainly underpins the need for speedy passage of the legislation,” Mr McKellar said.

Toyota was Australia’s best-selling brand in April with 13,033 vehicles, followed by Holden with 7,829 and Ford with 6,836 vehicle sales.

By | May 11th, 2009|General|1 Comment

Another Month, Another Drop in New Car Sales

New car sales continue to fall according to figures released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries. The March 2009 figures show a decrease in sales of 17.1 percent compared to March 2008. 75,650 passenger cars, SIVs and commercial vehicles were sold last month.

“This result is certainly down on a year ago but the extent of the fall in the market appears to have stabilised somewhat in recent months,” FCAI Chief Executive Andrew McKellar said.

Year-to-date 212,970 new vehicles have been sold, down 19.2 per cent compared to the same quarter last year.

“Given the impact of the global economic downturn, new vehicle sales for the first quarter of 2009 are around the level we would expect them to be,” he said.

“Around the world the automotive industry has been disproportionately affected by the impact of the financial crisis and resultant economic downturn.  We can take some comfort from the fact that the Australian new vehicle market has performed far better than those in almost all other developed economies.” Mr McKellar said.

Toyota was Australia’s best-selling brand in March with 16,608 vehicles (22.0 per cent market share) followed by Holden with 9,188 (12.1 per cent of the market) and Ford with 7,570 vehicle sales (10.0 per cent market share).

Year-to-date, Toyota leads the market with 44,309 vehicles sold, followed by Holden with 26,979 and Ford with 20,986 vehicles.

By | April 3rd, 2009|General|Comments Off on Another Month, Another Drop in New Car Sales

Motor Vehicle Recalls

Last week, Ford Australia bit the bullet and recalled over 83,000 Ford Territory vehicles in the culmination of what was a fairly busy seven day period for motor vehicle recalls in Australia.

Alfa Romeo recalled 174 Brera, 159 and Spider automatics fitted with the 3.2 litre V6 engine  because of “Insufficient braking ability on cold engine starts” on the 20th.

Maserati recalled 92 Quattroporte and Gran Turismo vehicles because “Vehicle occupants are not reminded of the seat belt function” – evidently a buzzer was failing to sound if the seat belt was not used. That recall notice was also issued on the 20th.

Fiat recalled 3 … yes a whole 3 … Fiat 500 vehicles due to locking rear drum brakes. A loose locating pin was the cause of this problem. The recall notice was issued on the 20th.

Mercedes Benz recalled 33 S Class (type 221) vehicles fitted with active Body Control suspension. Some “long term laboratory durability testing” revealed that the lower ball joint of the frunt struts could fracture when used on rough roads. The recall notice issued on the 23rd noted that “normal steering of the vehicle will be impaired.”

Mitsubishi issued a major recall notice on the 25th. They’re looking for 20,989 Lancer and Outlander vehicles that have a braking problem. It seems that on these vehicles “After starting, if the vehicle is only driven at low speed with minimal or no throttle opening, an increased brake pedal effort may be required on the first braking application because of the possibility of the brake booster check valve sticking.”

So last week it was quite a week for motor vehicle recalls in Australia … sticking brakes, hardly any brakes, no steering and a buzzer that doesn’t warn you that you’ve forgotten to put your seat belt on … it was all happening last week.

By | April 3rd, 2009|General|1 Comment

News From America

This week the automotive news from America hasn’t been all that good … unless you were the head of General Motors. Sure he got let go but then who would care about not having a job when you’re slipped a cheque for $US29 million as you walk out the door?

Ford … the one company in the US that really seems to understand the whole re-structuring thing better than GM or Chrysler struck a snag this week when they were forced to shut down the plant that’s turning out the gas-guzzling F-150 for the next three weeks.

It’s no surprise that demand for the F-150 is down 45% from this time last year.

And just to really make you scratch your head, GMAC … the finance arm of General Motors … announced on Wednesday that it would resume old habits and start lending money to people who really can’t afford it (otherwise known as sub-prime borrowers). Now that makes a lot of sense doesn’t it?

And finally, the head of Chrysler may well be looking up his payout figure on the company’s intranet … it seems that Obama may not have finished sacking auto industry bosses.

By | April 3rd, 2009|General|Comments Off on News From America