Monday, November 28, 2005

Competition is an essence of life

In a global world where survivability and ability to compete comes hand in hand with each other, you're either competing, or you're out of the game. This fact does not only apply to managing a business, but it also applies to everyday life, from picking up the ladies (or men for that matter), to finding a job, to managing a country... If you can't handle the competition, then there's no way you can survive.

To compete, you have to know your strengths and build on them, and your weaknesses and improve on them. For those institutions that strive to win over the competition, they are actively improving, finding that little bit extra cutting edge that they can have over their fellow competitors. This is what Ferrari, one of the most successful super car manufacturers in the world today, have exemplified.

The extra cutting edge, Ferrari reckons, is the touch of fresh imagination that only the youths of today can provide. In conjunction with world renowned Pininfarina, Ferrari has opened a competition among the students of top design schools worldwide to design and produce new concept designs for Ferrari's next generation of cars. In return, the top four finalists would receive a starting career within the company. Pretty fair don't you think?

20 best concepts were chosen, and they will be scrutinised and judged by none other than the experts from both companies. The contenders couldn't be more exciting and interesting. The top 10 designs can be seen below in no particular order.


Permit me to comment a bit on the designs. What a brilliant bunch of young designers they are. It really shows that art is a talent and comes from within, it definitely can't be learnt. But, I have to say that my least favourite concepts are number 10 and 4. Firstly, number 10, what is that little snout coming outfrom the front? It looks a bit like a really short penis with huge balls. Notice the side mirrors on design number 4? Here comes Shrek 3! Number 8 looks like the batmobile, and number 7, the SLR McMerc? Number 1 and 9 are my favourite. The two colour scheme makes them look modern, contemporary and sleek, yet retaining the curves of classical Ferrari designs. Now, the results are yet to be decided by Ferrari, but personally, I hope number 1 wins.

Kudos to Ferrari for this innovative feat. I really do hope they can continue producing engineering masterpieces such as the F430 Spyder, atleast until I can afford to own one. I have no idea when that would happen!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

New meaning to 'Fast Food'

For more than a couple of years now the whole motoring community have been gripped in anticipation. Since VW boss, Mr Piech in 2001 announced to the world about his dream car, and how it would be out in 2003, a lot of people just thought he was crazy. A 1000 hp 250mph (that’s 400kmh, 400!!!) car? You must be kidding me. It’s just a fantasy, no way is any car going to achieve that kind of speeds. It made mission impossible look like child’s play.

And true to his promise, albeit 2 and a half years late and after losing his job as VW’s top man, the Bugatti Veyron was unveiled to the public. A 987 hp (1001 PS), 8000cc W16 quad-turbo beast of a car, big numbers with seriously big implications. V max is electronically limited (I kid you not!) to 253mph or 407kmh. The powertrain produces 922 lb-ft at 2200-5000rpm, giving enough acceleration to go nought to sixty in just a mere 2.5 seconds. 200mph in 7.3 seconds. 7.3 seconds! A Mclaren F1 which goes up to 240mph takes longer just to reach 200mph from 100mph, heck, even pronouncing my name takes longer than that.

The most remarkable thing about this car is that even though it looks huge and clumsy, the handling is crisp and clean up to (according to VW) relatively low speeds of 180mph. The whole car actually weighs less then 2tonnes, amazing, especially with that huge 16 cylinder heart it has inside, which helps the handling. At those speeds, the rear spoilers and aero kits produce a total downforce in excess of 350kg. However, to go faster than that, the driving mode needs to change, and the aero kits and the spoilers configures themselves to reduce drag. At maximum speed, the downforce would reduce to only 50kg, where no cornering is recommended, unless you suddenly get the urge to go airborne.

The interior reflects the kind of elegant and smart design you expect in buying an £800,000 car, with the centre console obviously becoming the focal point. I personally hate that flashy centre console; it looks like something that came from the DMC Delorian in Back to the Future. Apart from that, very nice.

Overall, it is a real masterclass of engineering. I can only imagine the amount of hours spent in designing the cooling system for that W16, don’t forget the four turbochargers as well. That doesn’t include controlling the aerodynamics of the car, especially going at those speeds. This is definitely a great advert to engineering. Kudos to VW’s engineering excellence.

Say, if I had £800 big ones lying around somewhere in my back pocket, would I buy one? Erm…unfortunately not. Let me list a few reasons why.

There’s actually not very much I can do with that 1000hp at my disposal. I mean, of course I can go up to 250mph, but I need a frickin’ long straight runaway to do it, and unless I go to specialised tracks, or probably Antarctica, there’s no place to actually reach those speeds.
The total amount of power from the engine is actually 3000hp. But 2/3 of that is lost to thermal dissipation through the cooling system and exhaust, and only 1000hp is transmitted to the road. That is a really inefficient engine, I tell you. Would be sad to see all those energy go to waste, especially since the energy comes from petrol, and with current prices, I think not.

But the main reason for me not buying this monstrosity is because of its looks. I know it looks cool, and very ‘garang’, but the more I look at it the more it resembles a slab of meat. I mean, I know the Germans love their meat, but to actually design a car to look like one seems quite ridiculous. And what’s with the Bugatti logo? It looks like one of those logos you see on canned food. Something like ‘Heinz’ or ‘SPAM’. £800,000 for a can of meat? I don’t think so.

It just gives a new meaning to the term ‘fast food’, doesn't it?!?!

Bugatti Veyron 16.4

Price: £839,000

Engine: 7993 cc 64-valve W16, quad-turbo

Power Output: 1001 PS/987 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 922 lb/ft @ 2200-5000 rpm

Weight: 4612lb/1913kg

0-62 mph: 2.5 seconds

Top Speed: 252 mph/407kmh

Fuel Consumption: 11.7 mpg combined

Emissions CO2: 574g/km

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Accidents, a seasonal issue?

The 9th Ops Sikap campaign has just ended. 233 people lost their lives, apparently an increase of 16.5% compared to the previous year. In all, 13,462 separate accident cases were reported, which was an increase compared to the previous year, where 11,609 cases were reported.

Now, we've read alot in newspapers, we've heard alot from the telly and radio, about responses and reactions to this. Everyone seems to want to give their own point of view. These views basically gives the reasons behind why so many accidents occur. ranging from drivers having dual personalities to a rise in the number of cars on the road during this festive season.

Datuk Seri Musa Hassan, the police 2nd man, in his press statement, told the Malaysian public that 70% of those accidents "were due to driver carelessness". He also gave a breakdown to the actual causes to those accidents. Wow, if you ask me, very impressive statistical analysis! (notice the sarcastical tone there...). But hold on, what were the reasons for the high number of accidents for last year's Ops Sikap? How about the previous year before that, and the one before that, and the one before that? Sheesh, a 5 year old could give the same answer if asked what the main cause of accidents is.

But let's all just take a step back from everything, and look at the bigger picture. What has been bugging me all this while is, since when accidents and people dying from accidents become a seasonal issue? Aren't the cops concerned about the number of accident cases during the rest of the year?

Since the police like to play with statistics, then let's just do that then. For the whole of 2004, the total number of accidents reported was 156,420, and 2,810 deaths. Playing percentages, that means the 2004 festive season saw less than 10% of the total incidents for the whole year! So year by year they concentrate a high number of resources and cash just for about 2 weeks of driving madness from the public which only contributes less than 10% for the whole year, yet nothing can be seen for the other 50 weeks. Erm, isn't that stupid?

Year by year, festive seasons come and go, and year by year we'll hear about all these campaigns. From Ops Pacak to Ops Statik a.k.a. Ops Statistik, to Ops Sikap, yet year by year we see no improvements to the amount of accidents. And each year they ask the same question, what went wrong? Why have the numbers gone up?

Duh...hello! Hello! Earth to the to the police... don't you see? It's not a festivity problem, it's an attitude problem! For 50 weeks, these stupid a*****e drivers have been allowed to roam freely, driving their cars and bikes like maniacs, causing accidents and deaths everywhere. And then for that 2 week period, you expect them to suddenly change and become ideal drivers, are you frickin' kidding me?!?!?

From my point of view, having a concentrated effort and campaign for festive seasons won't solve anything. What is needed is a continuous year long campaign, to try and improve driving standards, to improve drivers' attitudes, and to make people realise the importance of on road manners. Don't get me wrong, I am a passionate fan for speeding, drifting and power slides, racing, and modding up cars. But there is a time and place to show off your car's capabilities, and doing it on public roads, at the expense of public safety is a definite no no!

Some people might say that the car's safety features aren't good enough, especially for the affordable ones (I'm talking about Peroduas and Protons here). And people can't afford to buy cars with better safety features, because of the restrictions and taxes the government imposes on them. Yes, typical Malaysian attitude, always finding faults in other people. (Then again, my 'beloved' Malaysian government, please lift you protection for the local brands asap, we've had enough!!! To Proton and Peroduas, grow up and get your acts sorted out, you should be able to compete without the protection by now!) Unfortunately, even though having better safety features might actually reduce the number of deaths, but it won't reduce the number of accidents.

To be honest, trying to improve Malaysian drivers' attitude is easier said than done, check that, no one is actually saying it's easy! And it's good to see the cops trying, earning their pay. But if people are dying, like every single day of the year, why are they concentrating their efforts just for the festive season? It just doesn't make any sense at all. I do hope the cops realise this quick, and changes can be seen soon. Having 3000 less lives every year is a real waste.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A fine line between appreciation and fascination

I have always been crazy about cars. Seeing how much cars have developed down the years, the evolution from the ridiculous boxy and eye sore designs, to the more streamlined and aerodynamically optimised beautiful designs, from the petrol guzzling, environment destroying engines, to very efficient, environmental friendly engines, from clumsy and bumpy rides, to smooth and comfortable rides, it is unbelievable how far things have gone.

I am so in love with cars, so much so that once, my mate asked me, "which do you like better, cars or girls?". "Ahah...that is a very tough question" was my first reaction to it. And it was tough. Mind you, it wasn't the answer that was tough. The answer I already knew, it was how my mates would think of me that caused my hesitation. The answer was obvious, I love cars more than I do girls.

And as expected, they said that I was a freak of nature, that I'm gay, that I'm a disgrace to all the men in the world. Well, obviously, I begged to differ. You see, I don't think I'm a freak of nature, I think that people like me are a rare breed. Through out my years living in this world, and of all the people that I've met and become friends with, I have only met two other people who were like me. Like I said, rare breed.

And I don't think I'm a disgrace to all the men in the world, and I am definitely NOT GAY, I'll repeat that again, I'm definitely NOT GAY. Should I repeat again? Mmm... I think that would be enough. FYI, I am happily married, and I am 100% in love with my darling wife. So that's proof enough that I'm straight.

I don't know, it is really hard to explain this to other people, but I'd try my best. I see it as being in two categories, firsts, acknowledgement and appreciation, second admiration and fascination. Just follow me here, ok? If there's a young hot chick behind me, well of course I'll turn around to catch a glimpse of her. Once I see her, I'll acknowledge and appreciate her beauty, and that would be the end of it. I won't be gaping my mouth, or degrade her into a piece of my sexual fantasy. I think men who do that are just sexist pigs, and they should be shot on sight!

But if a Flying Spur, a Corvette or an M5 were to be passing by, then it is totally a different matter. I'll explain this giving a real life example. I was in Manchester, quite some time ago, and I was at this pizza joint to grab a bite. I parked my car at the side of the road, got out and started to walk to the take away shop. Suddenly, out of no where came this low pitched noise. Slowly at first, then it got louder and louder. I knew I was in for a treat, as this was no ordinary sound, it was the sound of engine revvs. Not some bullshit modded up car with huge mufflers taken of an aeroplane. No, that engine sound was as sweet and as true as can be.

Sure enough, a few seconds later came this stunning green Gallardo cruising down the road. (That's a Lamborghini Gallardo for you guys not in the know). Oh my god, you could almost feel the rumble coming from that V10, vibrating your ear drums to a point of ecstasy. The driver wasn't speeding, he/she was just cruising by, showing off the car. It was probably some lame assed good for nothing spoilt brat student driving that car, but for all I cared, it was a magnificent piece of engineering. It fascinated me, and I was full of admiration. So there you have it, a simple and short (??) example to try and explain my passion for cars.

Should I be ashamed of loving cars more than I like women? Well, I for one don't think so. It's just my own preference, isn't it? I should be proud and be true to myself, and to perfectly honest, I am!

Cosa Più Vicina A Perfezione

The closest thing to perfection...

Yes, the new 2005 F430 Spider is a magnificent car. I had a chance to go up close and personal with this iconic masterpiece, and the experience did not disappoint. What better way to start out my blog than to write about this experience.

When I found out there was one parked in the workshop where I work, I knew I just had to see it. Walking there, I felt nervous. My heart was thumping hard. Weird, you say? Well, I've seen alot of great supercars before, the 360 Modena, the Lotus trio, Elise, Exige and Esprit, the Dodge Viper, Bentleys, Aston Martin DB9 and DB7 among others, and the only other car that made me feel nervous and giddy was the Mercedes-Benz Mclaren SLR.

The short journey seem to take forever. And then finally, I saw it. This red beast perched proudly on it's four wheels, it was a sight for sore eyes. From the back, the four tail pipes shining either side of the huge diffuser. Catching a glimpse of the beauty cover for the V8, as well as the sheer brilliance of the design stretching out to the front end of the car, there was almost like an aura coming from it.

As I ran my fingers along the curves, I couldn't help but admire the beauty that sprawled naked in front of me. The soft top hood was up, although I wished it went topless. I reached the door handle, pulled the door open, and sat inside. As any sportscar, entering and exiting the car was a slight pain, but in this case it was good, because once you're in, you never want to get out.

Sitting in the driver's seat, I couldn't stop looking at the proud prancing horse right in front of me. The feeling of completeness came to me, knowing that if I was destined not to sit in another car for the rest of my life, it was ok, because at that moment I knew things wouldn't, couldn't even, get better than this. I was savouring every second of my time in the car, because I knew only a handful of people in the whole world have experienced what I was experienceing.

I went out, and went straight to the engine bay, and again, the shear brilliance of how the engine was presented blew me away. The two rows of cylinders sat proudly and comfortably in the middle of the car. The engine was like a wolf in sheep's clothing, looked so harmless and pretty on the outside, but a raging menace with enough brute force to tear everything else to pieces on the inside. Ferrari won't let you forget that this piece of art you are looking at is theirs, so for good measure, they printed their name on the red beauty covers. If you asked me, I'd say it made the whole thing much better.

I was a bit bitter though, missing the opportunity to see this magnificent car being thrashed around the track. Especially since this was the first Ferrari with the new innovative electronic differential which improves traction and road holding under all conditions, a direct importation from their all Conquering F1 cars. I do hope I get this opportunity again some other time.


Length: 4512 mm (177.6 in)
Width: 1923 mm (75.7 in)
Height: 1234 mm (48.6 in)
Wheelbase: 2600 mm (102.4 in)
Front track: 1669 mm (65.7 in)
Rear track: 1616 mm (63.6 in)
Kerb weight: 1520* kg (3,351 lbs)

Type: 90° V8
Bore x stroke: 92 mm x 81 mm (3.62 x 3.19 in)
Unitary displacement: 538.5 cc (32.87 cu in)
Total displacement: 4.308 cc (263 cu in)
Compression ratio: 11.3:1
Maximum power: 360.3 kW (490 hp/483 bhp at 8,500 rpm)
Maximum torque: 465 Nm (47.4 kgm/343 lbs/ft) at 5,250 rpm
Specific power output: 114 hp/l

Top speed: >310 km/h (over 193 mph)
0-100 km/h: 4.1 seconds