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Home  /  March 2019  /  Comment

I now have definite, scientific evidence that the world has gone completely mad and that the end times, end of time, end of days, last days, final days, doomsday, eschaton or rapture will probably take place tomorrow just after 3pm.

Here’s one irrefutable piece of non fake news fact: Spanish car maker SEAT (part of VW) is offering a portable, French made Handpresso coffee machine that fits into the twin cup holders between the front seats in any SEAT model as an option.

Imagine you’re driving along, checking out Facebook and Tinder on the iPhone and feel the headache, fatigue, low energy, irritability, anxiety, poor concentration, depressed mood and tremors that signal the need for a caffeine fix. You reach over and plug the Handpresso into the cigarette lighter socket, fill it up with Voss mineral water from Norway, which at $5.49 for 800ml is about 400 per cent more expensive than Shell Vortex 98 and about 20,000 times more expensive than tap water, change down to second for the roundabout, insert a coffee pod, change up to third, push the Handpresso start button, which causes the machine to make a noise like the tyre pumps at an F1 pit stop, straight into fifth, wait for what seems like three years for the noise to end and the machine to ping, lift it out of the cup holder, brake suddenly for the kanga that’s just run in front of the car and accelerate away if you didn’t wear the Australian symbol on the bonnet, put the free glass cup in the holder and pour the espresso, dodge the wombat, pick up cup and drink.

Then there’s the news that Ford is making an electric Mustang. “When we first started talking about electrification, there was this thought that there had to be a trade-off: it was either going to be green and boring and no fun, or really exciting but burn a lot of fossil fuels,” says Bill Ford, the great grandson of founder Henry.

What has happened to the company that beat Ferrari? Over the past five years Ford’s share price has halved to single figures while Tesla’s stock price is sitting around $300. You can imagine Bill and the team saying, “what has Elon Musk got that we haven’t?”.

“I know,” says the ex-McKinsey strategy person, ‘‘electric cars and rockets that take dummies into space.”

“Beauty,” says Bill, “let’s get into the cars. The rockets might be a bit hard although we have plenty of dummies around here.”

Talking of strategy, just before he went to the Le Corbusier designed Punta Tragara on Capri for his annual hols, the editor said: “I think people are sick of cars and bikes in your motoring column. Write about something else.”

Showing my usual corporate courage, I said “Of course, boss.”

Anyway, next Sunday, head over to Geelong (go the Cats, sponsored by Ford) for the Donington Auctions’ sale of a gentleman’s collection of 100 classic and vintage tractors. I reckon there’s over a million big ones going into the sky rocket of the 87-year-old who has decided to trim his aghead collection. I’ll be there, bank card in hand, to chuck in a couple of bids for the 1936 Heinrich Lanz Bulldog D8500 tractor (my guess $20k) and the 1938 International McCormick-Deering t20 Crawler (a snip at $10k).

Talking of Ford, the Detroit-based company used to own Aston Martin. Aston Martin Lagonda listed in 2018 at $35 a share and yesterday they were down to $18. Part of the problem was the revelation that the IPO cost it $250 million, $112m of which was share incentives for executives.

However, the bigger worry is analyst concern that the company will need to issue new shares or take on more debt to deal with liquidity issues. Given the James Bond carmaker holds customer deposits of $500m and has a liquidity buffer of just $260m, things could get a bit tight. Naturally, there’s an easy fix: an Aston Martin SUV is on the way.

Now that every carmaker is turning into a wuss and producing electric cars, SUVs and espresso machines, the buy of the century was the 1975 George Barris SnakePit that H&H auctioned at $95k. Powered by six Cobra-Ford 351 V8 engines, with 12 Holley carburettors, two automatic transmissions, two fuel tanks and 48 exhaust pipes, the SnakePit is good for 1500KW and 482km/h. George took four years and $1m to build it.

Talking of supercars, I got it wrong last week when I said Ian and Steve Maden will be driving the Peking to Paris in a 1975 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. Of course, as the old bloke was quick to tell me, it is a Silver Shadow.

Getting back to the end of the world, another sign is that the inventor of the internet and bitcoin, Michael McMichael, has taken up music.

Yup, there he was at the Kensi on Wednesday (open uke night), playing a knockout version of Stairway to Heaven. It’s true he did have quite a few Coopers’ Sparkling Ales and at least two bottles of Alex Retief’s Tempranillo with a Bundy OP chaser before getting up on stage but he nailed the beginning with a quiet introduction on a finger-picked six-string uke while his mates were doing back-up on four recorders in a Renaissance music style. Many of the audience told me Mick’s performance was like a sonic orgasm.

Look, I know I keep promising it but our hard-hitting part three of the reasons for the Shorten government’s royal commission into the new car industry is not far away.

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