Wednesday, 24 January 2007

The Autosport Show, Jan 2007

Aha, the Autosport show has come around again! Winter must be nearly over! My mate Mikey and I have been going for a few years now. We usually try and go on the Friday ‘Trade’ day, which costs more, but at least isn’t unbearably busy. I hate crowds at the best of times, and the NEC heaving with (mostly male, mostly 20-something, mostly northern, mostly hygienically-challenged) racing fans is the wrong sort.

The day started for me with a (6am) early start (after cramming 5 days working hours into 4 days) feeling knackered, but I drove our Audi A2 (as it was once of the rare times last year I actually had it in my possession) up to meet Mikey by 7.30am at the M40 Oxford services for a rubbish £12 breakfast.

Then it was my turn to be passenger in the comfy heated Volvo seats as we moseyed up the M40 to the NEC, to see the usual suspects at the show.

Maybe it was because I don’t have a project going right now, but frankly there wasn’t really much that caught my fancy. Certainly it wasn’t a clutch of faux F1 ‘show cars’ in a dummy grid. In the old days, these were usually last year’s race cars that the team would use at publicity events. Then they figured that it‘d be much cheaper if they took out the expensive bits first, like the engine. So you’d see the car & if you peered under the engine cover you could see a hole where the engine should be. But at least it was the real thing.

Of course, as F1 got more pointlessly expensive, the ‘expensive’ bits encompassed the whole car. So the teams decide they’d build a copy out of re-cycled coke bottles, sticky backed tape & egg-boxes, and the fans wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. So now the ‘race cars’ you see – unless you’re actually at a GP - haven’t even seen a race track, let alone Shuey/Ferdie/Kimi’s arse.

The show’s a whole lot bigger than before though. But there were some noticeable absentees, including Porsche. Some of the hi-tech widgets in the ‘industry’ section are simply amazing, but I didn’t trawl around looking for bits for my Caterham or Westfield as I have done in the past. I also like to see the student section. Studying racing cars for 3 or 4 years and ending up with a degree sounds a right laugh. lt has to be more fun than spending the time trying (and failing) various careers like I did. Perhaps one of the master SS7’s would like to do it when they’re older.

There were several funny points; being interviewed by a Danish sportscar company on TV and telling them Denmark is famous for bacon, walking behind two pitlane popsies who trying to stop their tiny lycra leggings heading for the floor leaving nothing but the teeniest cheese-wire knickers, watching a group of 14y.o boys ogling more pitlane popsies, and Mikey trying (and failing) to resist the allure of the KW stand. We also plotted a CarList Ring return….

I can’t say there was anything there that really rang my bell, but it’s a good way to get a petrolhead fix in mid winter. I rather liked the Guigiaro Mustang, but my bringer-homer was an old skool Group 4 365GTB/4*. BTW had my mate Mr Shiney had put his £70k into a nice road going version a year ago when I told him to, he’d find its worth £100k now.

Long drive home afterwards, arrived in Sussex by 7pm, completely knackered. But I was rather pleased to hear my journey not as bad as Mikey’s congested slog to North London. I’m still not convinced the A2 is 100%.


*a racing version of the early 70’s front-engined Ferrari ‘Daytona’

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Running In

The Christmas break (“Winterval”? A pox on you, ignorant heathen!) was a good one for the SS7 household. We entertained family (in the right sort of quantity), and enjoyed time with friends old and new.

Christmas day bought transport solutions aplenty; SS7 minor received a pedal powered kart, and SS7 major a skateboard - unfortunately for his elbows without protective gear. SS7 minor needs a reality check; following the family car to your grandparents in a pedal-powered kart isn’t really viable when you’re 3 years old.

We have had a house full for the last 3 days, good fun but wearing & it was good to get away for a few hours yesterday to clear the garage, give the Cayman a quick wash (in the dark…) and put it away for the week.

Last week’s 120 mile trip up to work and back was enough for me to acclimatise to the car’s controls and feel. The muttering rotters who commented on the lack of torque are right, its not viable just to squeeze the throttle and breeze past bumblers on a fat mid-range; the 968’s 4-pot 3litre is better in this respect.

Its clearly an engine that produces it’s best higher up in the rev-range, so with this in mind I’ve revised my running-in strategy. I’ve been giving short rides to various family members, and on New Year’s day, I popped over to the other side of town to pick up a ‘new’ Roksan amp.

I came home the long way; on quiet holiday roads, ‘running-in’ could easily have been mistaken for ‘giving the car a good thrashing’. Once everything was good and hot I was using more like 6000rpm than 4000rpm as a limit (in 5th on a quiet A27…), and pretty much all of the throttle travel. As a result, the tyres have come in, the brakes are getting better and the gear linkage is freeing up nicely.

I also found I’m already leaning on the PSM; full bore in 2nd out of roundabouts and letting the electrics sort out the wiggly rear end.

On sober reflection I may need to re-think the wisdom of this latter approach.

Mrs SS7 also had a go. After 20 minutes her summary was “It’s very nice”. I guess that’s female priorities for you. She also ran full bore in 2nd down our private estate road leading to the house (the one with a 20mph limit) on the basis that “If anyone see’s me they’ll blame you”.

More on Mrs SS7 to follow…..