Of Washing Machines…

Posted on August 27th, 2008 in Driving Emotion by Julian Edgar

I have a strong disinterest in handyman work.


Not for me, painting walls or fixing woodwork. Gardening, hanging doors, putting up shelves, making a new letterbox – nope, nope, nope.


So when the washing machine started producing dreadful noises, I feigned great interest in working at the keyboard.


This keyboard.


And, anyway, was the washing machine really making any more noise than normal? I dunno. Didn’t it always fill the street with the sound of a steam roller crossed with a jet engine?


In fact, when it went on to make clunking noises (still mixed with a steam roller and a jet engine), I figured that maybe there were just some coins floating around in the mix, coins that had come out of pockets.


Even if it did sound like the coins were as big as billiard balls….


But then the edifice came crashing down: the washing machine stopped working.


A five year old Korean-made LG front-loader, it no longer rotated, no matter what was done with the switches. In fact, as my beloved wife Georgina pointed out, there were also signs that the stainless steel drum had been rubbing on the outer plastic drum: abrasions were apparent.


So I got out the tools.

Without radical action, the end could be near

Posted on August 25th, 2008 in Automotive News,Driving Emotion,Global Warming,Hybrid Power by Julian Edgar

I am starting to wonder if the problems that Ford and Holden are facing in this country with their large cars – the Falcon and the Commodore – are going to be possible to remedy.

Holden is now talking a whole range of environmental and fuel-efficiency measures – from E85 compatibility to reducing weight – and Ford, despite having just released a brand new model, has already made public the next engine option, a diesel.

As I have written previously, both companies have only themselves to blame for their current woes – they were happy completely ignoring the changing marketplace and blindly heading down an ever-increasingly irrelevant path. It’s obvious they expected the market to change to suit them, rather than build cars that suited the buying public. That applies especially to Ford, a company that with the FG Falcon, had years more time to prepare for the changing times than Holden had with the VE Commodore.

But what makes me think that they may have lost it big-time is what I am seeing more and more: Holden and Ford are rapidly losing their loyal long-term potential car-buyers.

Now, self-evidently, they have lost some of these already; otherwise Ford wouldn’t be sacking production workers and releasing a market-special FG seemingly only minutes after the new Falcon was released; and Holden Commodores wouldn’t be being outsold (let’s talk private buyers) by a helluva lot more than just a couple of other car models.

Personal Greenhouse Gas Action Plan

Posted on August 21st, 2008 in Driving Emotion,Economy,electric,Global Warming,Hybrid Power,Opinion by Julian Edgar

Perception of any crisis in world affairs has always followed much the same pattern.

Those who say it isn’t happening and never will happen; those cautious but observant who say it might happen; those early adopters who say it is happening well before a majority agree; and those who like to see it unambiguously demonstrated before acknowledging it is actually happening.

Or – and this is really important – not happening.

Trouble is, at the ‘it might happen’ stage it’s difficult to decide on the right course of action. Do nothing and any action might be too late.

Or, conversely, do nothing and in fact the action might later prove to have been correct.

Think CFCs in aerosols and the ozone layer for the first; think Y2000 bug in computer software for the second.

And the eminence of the ‘early adopters’ counts for little: remember the 1970s predictions of a world overpopulation crisis, and how widespread famine would result in a catastrophic reduction in the population by the year 2000? Despite some very highly credentialed experts arguing vehemently – and with apparent logic – that we were doomed, it didn’t happen.

And now to global warming. 

Insurance where you pay only for the distance you travel!

Posted on August 20th, 2008 in Automotive News,Driving Emotion by Julian Edgar

An Australian company has launched a car insurance scheme where your annual insurance cost depends on how many kilometres you travel.

This is significant for those who drive only to public transport, and also for those who choose to own multiple cars and drive each only for its best purpose.

The website is self-explanatory and I found the quoting quick and easy – and very interesting!

As you’d expect, it is beneficial only if the car does less than the average number of kilometres, but for those cars, it looks like insurance costs can be way lower than the current norm.

More Feedback!

Posted on August 18th, 2008 in AutoSpeed,Opinion by Julian Edgar

Our new AutoSpeed feedback facility keeps operating – and the feedback keeps rolling in. For a bit of a giggle, I’ve decided to run here some of the, er, more ‘interesting’ feedback we’ve received.

About You > The car you drive – ADASDASDLAS DJLAKA

Nope, dunno that car.

Our Content > Content we should have – More titties

How can we have more when we have never had any?

Our Content > Performance cars – Where is the cheese

Hmm, dunno.

Our Content > Performance cars – I think there should be some reversal of the latest autospeed changes to include high perfornance cars, show cars, drag cars, DB drag cars. etc The used to make some fantastic reading. I also think that new car tests need to be an important feature, regardless on how difficult it is to obtain press cars

Rather interestingly, the only respondent so far to ask for more of the old-style feature cars…

A Record to Remember

Posted on August 14th, 2008 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

I’ve never been on a fast train. Despite being interested in trains for longer than I’ve had any interest in cars, all my train trips have been pedestrian – at least in terms of pace.

The other day I travelled from Melbourne’s Southern Cross station to country Wangaratta, a train journey I immensely enjoyed. But – and here’s the pity of it – I actually thought it was reasonably quick, cos it was keeping up with cars doing 100 and 110 km/h.

In Europe, where my parents have extensively travelled, my father talks of cars on freeways being left behind so rapidly that they look like they’re going backwards. That happens when you’re in train that’s doing 300 km/h…


Posted on August 10th, 2008 in AutoSpeed,Opinion by Julian Edgar

If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to spend the 60 seconds (or less) it takes to fill in the feedback facility (top-right corner) that we’ve currently enabled on every page of AutoSpeed.

The feedback option has been running for (as I write this) a few days and, as would be expected when one of the categories is ‘content you hate’, a host of major negatives is coming in.

Let me take a look at some, and perhaps in part reply to them.

Why do you re run so much OLD stuff…have you run out of content ? or Run out of time …not fair to FILL UP your monthly leter with old stuff…people are capable of searching your files to find it if they wajnt it DONT REUSE OLD STUFF…it makes it look like you have run out of ideas or time…or both

Well, it’s very simple. Our ‘old stuff’ rates very well in terms of reader numbers and reader ratings. In other words, most of our readers have not seen the ‘old stuff’ before.

Why are Current Cars So Bloody Ugly?

Posted on August 6th, 2008 in Driving Emotion,styling by Julian Edgar

I just can’t believe how ugly cars have become.


Surely, when assessed from 50 years’ hence, the first part of the 21st century will be viewed as the all-time nadir in car styling.


There’s no point in giving examples – simply look at all the cars around you. Jarring discordance as stylists mix flat and rounded and sharp and fussy, no apparent clean-sheet designs – just variations in copying a handful of (awful) themes.


I read somewhere how someone really liked the look of a recent BMW. Surely they must be joking? These cars are fundamentally stylistically flawed; the fact that others copy them simply shows the imitating designers’ aesthetic limitations.


Sure, some current cars look fashionable – but are they well styled, good looking, or even beautiful? Only someone visually impaired could possibly think so.


Look at today’s shapes and then think of past cars.


The original Porsche Boxster? One of the best styled cars ever.


Many  – in fact a majority – of the 1950s American machines? Gloriously sweeping sculptures of chrome and metal and glass.


The 1930s Cord? Incredible.


The E-Type Jaguar? Incomparable.


But even stepping away from the exotic and looking at the humdrum: the Holden HQ Monaro? So tightly drawn, those rear bulging haunches of muscle.


Even the last Monaro – in its initial (non-nostril) form, one of the best looking cars I have ever seen.


The XD Falcon? Superbly proportioned example of the folded-edge school of design.


Even the Mini – the original; not the bloated and absurd recent pretender to the name. The Mini made industrial design fashionable: utterly different from taking fashion and applying it to industrial design.


So tell me, what are some new-shape cars being sold today that are well styled, and that will be regarded as so in many years? Not cars that are fashionable within the context of today’s horrible design cues, but are in fact timeless?


I can’t think of any.


Can you?



Unusual parts

Posted on August 4th, 2008 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

If you are building your own car, the cheapest source of automotive parts will be found at the wrecker. That statement applies to all components – everything from suspension to engine to instruments.

But if you don’t want your car to look like other cars – not even in the tiniest bits – there are other sources of components you can look at.