THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain

Posts categorized "Motoring" Feed


Your blogger can't retire from work just yet. He has a new version of an old, unrealised ambition. Always believing that, at 2 metres tall, he could not drive a modern Ferrari, he was resigned. Today, on the company's stand at the Geneva Motor Show, he discovered he need not be. One day, perhaps, he can hope to drive something that might even be more exciting than Vittoria.

To his even greater surprise, he also found himself admiring an eco-drive car at the show. However, in the prototype Ferrari version of a hybrid, you have the choice either to save fuel by recycling power stored from your braking, or (temptingly) to unleash it to boost your acceleration! That's your blogger's kind of green.

The last two pictures are not of his new inamorata, however. They are close ups of an even more expensive rival (in which, emphatically, he could not fit his generous frame). In fact, he gave onlookers a few amusing moments with his attempts to do so. Still, it was a beautiful sight. Any guesses as to what it is?

Geneva101  Geneva103Geneva102  Geneva11  Geneva104

And finally, a little extra treat for admirers of the automotive art. En route to our present resting place in Crans Montana, my friend who organised access to all this magic today took us to see his own magnificent car. Just listen to that beautiful noise...

So much for free movement of goods and labour / Europe - Poles returning home face car trouble.

As a lover of Poland who lived there for 11 years, I know something about this story. I used to have a right-hand drive car in Warsaw. I drove it from England in 1992 and used it for 8 of the 11 years I lived there. I drove my family all over the country safely and pleasurably. The car was foreign-registered and insured throughout. She left the country frequently enough for that not to be an issue, but I always thought it ridiculous that it was not possible to register her locally.

2420647-A_sea_of_light-PolandPoland has an appalling record on road safety. The fatality rate is four times that of Britain and double that of Germany. The worst death toll is on the weekend of the All Saints holiday, when Poles visit the graves of their dead to keep a candle-light vigil. This is a social, as well as a religious, event that involves much sitting on gravestones drinking vodka. If a given family has dead relatives in more than one city, it also involves a motorised dash from one graveyard to the other in the depths of the Polish Winter. All too frequently, that ends in tears.

Poor roads, poorly-maintained cars, lots of winter snow and ice and an aggressive driving culture account for the rest of the accidents. I have often remarked to Polish friends that they must be very good Catholics indeed as they drive as if in a hurry to the afterlife. Right-hand drive cars are certainly not a factor in many accidents. Poland's auto-routes and urban free-ways (sensibly, in my view) permit overtaking on both sides. So I was safer than the other drivers for more than half the time as (guess what) I usually chose the side to overtake on which I had better visibility. When not on such a road, my driving position was only a problem to me, as I had fewer opportunities to overtake. Perhaps the Polish judges can't imagine not overtaking, regardless of safety? Probably so, as in my experience the standard of driving among Polish lawyers was no higher.

Britain, of course, has no problem with thousands of migrant-labourer Poles driving their left-hand drive cars around our islands. So much for fairness. As between nations, reciprocity is surely the least one can hope for. Though I am not holding my breath for Muslim countries to take as liberal an approach to the building of Christian churches as, say, Switzerland to the building of mosques.

Like most legal restrictions, this is small-minded busy-bodying dressed up as concern for public safety. Having watched Poland enact hundreds of legal reforms to prepare for EU accession (the only time in my life I saw the EU do any good), I am sad to note that it has already (as I predicted to my Polish friends a decade ago) begun to approach EU law as the French do; cynically and selectively.
Photo credit:

Beautiful, but not for me...

GranCab091I was invited to the UK launch of the Maserati GranCabrio, the convertible version of the GranTurismo, the car I am lucky enough to drive. Recently launched at Frankfurt, the one extant example is now on a world tour in advance of the the model going on sale next April. It is, quite simply stunning - an object of intense desire. I would go so far as to say Modena never produced a more beautiful car. Sadly, I will never own one.

The main problem persuading Mrs P. to allow me to buy Vittoria was her 260 litres of luggage space. When we go on our Summer holidays, Mrs P. easily needs all that and I must settle for a small grab bag behind me. The GranCabrio is a full four seater but the space for the retracted soft top consumes 90 litres of the GranTurismo's luggage space. It has barely capacity for overnight luggage for two, let alone a fortnight's luggage for four. This is a design fault. "Claudia", my AMG Mercedes convertible lost no boot space to the soft-top when it was raised. Once the bags were safely at our holiday hotel the roof could be lowered. I cannot imagine why the undoubted design geniuses at Pininfarina did not copy that.

Still, the GranCabrio is an awesome car and immensely beautiful. I hope it sells well so that the world can be enriched by its undoubted charms. I will smile every time I see one, even it it's not for me. Here is a short video of the world's one copy being unveiled at the Belfry last night.

Those of a Guardian disposition, move along. Nothing to see here.

Jeremy Clarkson Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder review | Driving - Times Online.

Jeremy Clarkson is a hate figure of the Left. Read the linked article to find out why. Here's a short sample to give you a flavour;

It was, I think, the most enjoyable drive of my life: to be in a car that good, with its V10 bark echoing off the limestone and a bit of Steely Dan on the stereo, doing about a million with a man who truly knows what he’s doing at the wheel. This is what those of a Guardian disposition don’t understand: that a car can be a tool but it can also be so much more. It can be a heart-starter, it can be a drug, it can be a piece of art, it can stir your soul and it can get you from Marbella to Ronda before the bar closes.

Truth is, Jeremy is more fully alive than a whole London borough of the miserable little self-satisfied soulless zombies. And he can write better too.

Guardian TV poll: let's keep up the pressure

Poll: What's the best TV show of the decade 2000-09? | Media |

Come on, ladies and gentlemen, please click on the link above and infuriate the Guardianistas who are posting such exasperated comments as;

Top Gear is not fit to grace any list that has the likes of the office, the west wing and arrested development on it.

The Wire is catching up fast on Top Gear with one day of polling still to go, so if you want to see Jezza ending the show with the poll results and the words "...and on that bombshell..." you need to get over there and vote. Urging on family, friends and work colleagues, not to mention posting a link to the poll on your blog (and in comments to every blog you frequent) would do no harm either.

Annoy a Guardianista; vote now!

Poll: What's the best TV show of the decade 2000-09? | Media |

The Grauniad is having a poll on "the best TV show of the decade" and the results are annoying its precious journalists.

Monday 2pm: we are aware that there has been some *ahem* multiple voting and we are investigating how to eliminate this. In the meantime, please keep voting - legitimately

Oh, dear. How shocking. I am sure they would never have complained were, say, Andrew Marr's Sunday Socialist Sycophancy Show in the lead. So which show has people clicking so enthusiastically? Yes, there is justice in the Universe occasionally. It's the one they hate the most (click to enlarge). Delicious!

Guardian pain

Please go over there and add to their pain.

An elegy in an Aston Martin

This film perfectly captures how I feel. Not just about cars you understand, but about my life and my country's future. Our islands are now in the hands of people who don't "get" this sublime physical expression of the human spirit. A spirit of striving, of freedom, of adventure and of exploration. A restless spirit that will never be satisfied with mediocrity.

People who don't "get" that will not "get" much more. They will not just be limited in their motoring experiences (sad though that would be for them), they will build a Lada society, which will be sad for all of us.

Even if you don't care (shame on you) about automotive artistry, please give this short film one viewing. Just let the scenery, the tone, the sentiment wash over you.

h/t (nsfw) Theo Spark

Live by the sword, perish by the sword

Speed camera boss caught doing 102mph on a 70mph road - Telegraph

The work of Satan

Have at you, Tom Riall, you varlet. I hope your shareholders are vigilant enough to ensure you don't circumvent your punishment by charging a chauffeur, taxis or other forms of transport to the company (and therefore, given tbe nature of  your contracts, the taxpayer). You boast on your website;

We advise policy makers, design innovative solutions, integrate systems and - most of all - deliver to the public.

Deliver to us? Your tax machines have done as much to make these islands miserable and joyless for us as any other aspect of the Labour mega-state your public service outsourcing company supports. Many decent people have lost their jobs because your infernal devices have caught them mere basis points over the speed limit, as opposed to the 46% you were. I am sure they would rejoice if you lost your job, you hypocrite.

The car that started it all

As a teenager, I was taken for a hair-raising ride by the kind of relative every teenager should have; one with a Ferrari. Resting at home this bank holiday, it occurred to me that there was probably a film of a Dino "in flight" on the internet. Here it is. "Mine" was a restrained, beautiful blue but she looks good in red too. I shall never forget hurtling feet-first through the lanes of Berkshire. My whole adult life was ahead of me and there was so much to strive for.

Amid all the crusty, puritanical talk of what cars "cost" the planet, let's not forget their power as motivators. That long-ago day, I realised I was going to need to work harder than I had ever previously imagined. Thank you, Ferrari, for all my family's comforts.

PS: According to a certain logic, by posting this happy memory today I have approved every reported evil I have not condemned. I shall hang my head in guilt. Not.