We go bananas for new Beetle

As someone who grew up with no small degree of reverence for the VW Beetle, a car so iconic and enduring that it was part car, part cultural symbol, I was left feeling somewhat ambivalent with its 1999 incarnation.

Yes, I thought, how exciting, it’s here at last. But hang on a minute… it’s a bit boring and a bit, well, girly.

In fact, what Volkswagen had done, essentially, was take the basic design template for the original Beetle and make it as bland as possible by removing all of the character. Plus it had the naffest and most pointless of all possible vehicle accessories: a flower holder.

Truth be told – I didn’t exactly go bananas.

Now here’s some good news. We at Duck2Water have had a sneak preview of the 2011 incarnation of the Beetle, and it looks good. Not only is it environmentally friendly, fuel-efficient and roomier than the 1991 version, it’s also a lot less girly. It’s not that women won’t like it, it’s just that it’s got a broader appeal.

A spokesperson from VW comments, "We wanted the new model to be a car of today, as well as a design tribute to the original.

"It has a more macho appearance and is a more dynamic driving car. This is not a girly car and we've thrown away the flower holder."

In fact, it all looks so good that I’ve already started saving – it’s thought that the new Beetle will be cheap for car insurance too. Woo-hoo, I really could go bananas!

Photo by helena.40proof via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

Labels: , , , , ,



A Portsmouth slipway and Fate tempted

You’ll either feel sorry for the motorist at the centre of this story, or have a good laugh at their expense.

In our office, we’re doing a bit of both…

We may all wish that parking was free everywhere, but most of the time we’ll bite the bullet and pay the price because that’s the sensible thing to do.

However, one Alfa Romeo Spider driver in Portsmouth was so determined to avoid the £2 fee that all his common sense left him and he parked on a slipway almost every day before commuting to London – despite all the warnings to keep the area clear for the fishermen and their boats.

Not only did this irritate the fishermen, one of whom stated, “He's not supposed to be here. This area is only for the fishing boys to load their nets but he still parks here every day,” but it also resulted in karma catching up with him.

In this instance karma decided to take the form of the swiftly climbing tide which slowly dragged the £30,000 car out into the salty waves, watched by policemen who could do nothing to help.

Not surprisingly the owner could not be contacted by the police following this incident, but his son-in-law said, “'He's had the car for a few years and it really is his pride and joy. He will be upset when he finds out what's happened to it. It's ridiculous.”

Let this be a lesson to us all – use a designated parking area and don’t tempt Fate, she may be in a bad mood that day.

Photo © Brian Tomlinson via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

Labels: , , , , , ,



“Same old, same old” motoring show is good enough for us

Watching Top Gear on Sunday, most of my family were struck by the delightfully droll innovation behind the car-train. My eldest daughter, who, having just left sixth form, recently heard me utter the immortal words, “no, I won’t pay for your rail pass anymore” and has therefore discovered just how expensive it is to take the train into town to go shopping with her mates, thought the idea of train fares set at a thousandth of their current price was “coooool”.

Yet, like many critics stated in their reviews, I watched the programme with an air of slight boredom as, having watched the show’s presenters set caravans on fire in various other episodes, seeing another go up in flames failed to make me grab my sides in mirth.

Instead it was Rowan Atkinson’s slight shift of his eyebrows to give him the air of an imperious Range Rover owner which had me rolling off the sofa with tears falling down my face and left us all in complete awe of the man’s unique talent.

However, in response to The Telegraph’s scathing review of the so-called motoring show and its reliance on “poo jokes and un-PC banter” I will have to argue its corner and spring lithely to its defence because, after a late Sunday dinner, it is the one programme which can unite my family, with its spread of ages and genders from pre-teen-girl to mid-life-man, on our large leather sofas for an hour of united viewing with no-one, not even the 15-year-old, picking up a laptop for Facebook communications or answering a text.

Yes, it appears to strike a chord for all of us, and while the kids love the toilet humour and the ubiquitous destruction of something the presenters find distasteful, my partner loves to dream of owning the fast-cars and I imagine myself meeting Stig and learning to drive like a race-driver without someone screaming from the passenger seat, “slow, slow – traffic lights ahead”.

For all its faults, Top Gear gets a “thumbs up” from me and my family who, in most cases, have such a disparate idea of what is entertaining, and, despite my better judgement, this “same old, same old” programme is always a hit in our house.

Image © nahtanoj via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

Labels: , , ,



Algae bio-fuel from the Roman Baths

We bring you such an interesting variety of car news on this blog – flying cars, boat-cars, ghost cars – and here’s another.

Algae-fuelled cars.

Scientists are at this very moment growing seven different types of algae to determine which would be best as a bio-fuel.


Apparently, scientists have found that the Roman Baths, in Bath, have an array of algae growing in their waters and extracting oil from one of the cells in these plant-like organisms could result in a replacement for petrol and diesel.

The idea of running vehicles on algae has been around for years, but there have been two potential problems. One drawback is that algae “are usually happiest growing at temperatures around 25C and that can limit the places in which it can be cultivated on a large scale,” states a PhD student working on the project.

Hindrance number two is that, as researcher Professor Scott states, “One species might produce a lot of oil, but if we can't harvest the algae or break the cell walls easily then the production costs of the bio-diesel will rise and it will no longer be a suitable alternative to other fuels”.

What the scientists are trying to do now is find the best, and most easily mass-produced, algae for the job.

So far they’ve established and begun to grow seven types, but there are many more to be found.

Sounds difficult. We’ll leave them to it and wait for the results.

Photo by bongo vongo via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

Labels: , , , , , ,



Up, up and away

Have you ever wished that, when stuck in a traffic jam or waiting at the longest red light you’ve ever witnessed, you could just press a button and take off Chitty Chitty Bang Bang-style?

Well, we certainly have – and now there’s a car which may one day reach UK shores which could let us do just that.

The Terrafugia Transition has been “sky legal” for more than a year in America already, and now it’s been made “road legal” too it is set to hit USA showrooms next autumn.

It’s going to cost American motorists $200,000 to buy, that’s around £123,800, and it can only go up to 65mph on the road but it speeds over the land below at 115mph once it unfolds its wings and is in the air.

Now, you know how we said that we might be able to one day fly out of traffic jams – well we lied – sorry. The fact is that this “roadable aircraft” needs 1,700ft (around 500 meters) of road for take-off – so you’re unlikely to be able to escape with only 30cm moving space either end of the vehicle…

Ideally someone will create a flying car which can take off vertically like a Harrier Jump Jet, then we’ll really be happy!

Photo by bucket072 via photobucket

Labels: , , , , , ,



Not too good to be true?

Usually when we hear about some new car which promises to run purely on good feeling and traverse all terrain and double up as a five bedroom house – we don’t expect it to see a saleroom floor at any time during its usually brief existence.

However, we believe that we may finally have found a vehicle which will live up to its manufacturer’s seemingly far-fetched sales pitch.

Gibbs High Speed Amphibian Technology says the Aquada can go from being a road vehicle to a water-borne motor in less than 12 seconds at the press of a button.

So, what has made us believe that this car may actually see the sales floor at some point, you may ask? Well for one thing it was recently seen being driven by a private owner and some friends down the River Great Ouse through Cambridgshire.

It may sound improbable, and it does cost £150,000, but according to witnesses of the floating vehicle the people aboard “seemed to be having a brilliant time,” so we’re sold!

Image by whosuno via photobucket

Labels: , , ,


Ghost car for sale

A very unusual car is coming to auction on the 30th of July.

It’s a Pontiac Deluxe Six which has been re-panelled with Plexiglas. You may never have seen one before but that would be completely understandable, since it’s transparent.

Yes – transparent – as in see-through.

This vehicle, which has “normal” contemporaries of the metal panelled kind, was created for the 1930-1940 World's Fair in San Francisco, cost $25,000 (around £15,600) to make at the time, and was the first full-sized transparent motor vehicle to be made in the USA.

It was called the “Ghost Car”, and did once have another transparent car to be friends with, but has unfortunately been the only one of the pair to survive through its eighty-or-so years of existence.

At the time it was billed as a vision of what could be on the roads in the future, but it still stands out from other cars today. For this reason, the American auctioneers, RM, expect to see it sold for somewhere between $275,000 (around £171,870) and $475,000 (roughly £296,870).

You only have to look at the RM auctions website to see how special this car is – but unfortunately the steering wheel is on the wrong side – oh, and we’re a little short of that sort of money!

Image by Hugo90 via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

Labels: , , , ,



Warning: Poor road maintenance ahead

There are so many potholes on Britain’s roads at the moment that price comparison website Confused.com is petitioning the Department for Transport to introduce a pothole warning sign to be used across the country.

The company has commissioned a common red-bordered triangular sign, and in the centre it has chosen to place the image of a car with one wheel down a hole.

Confused.com decided that enough was enough when it realised, after doing some research, that even if councils had sufficient budgets for road maintenance it would take them about 11 years to fill all of the potholes and generally repair damaged areas of road.

The price comparison company’s chief marketing officer stated, “Although repairing these roads is obviously the long term solution, something needs to be done now.

“Currently the UK’s road signs include warnings for wild horses, wild animals, cattle and even toads but potholes aren’t considered worthy enough. A pothole road sign is a vital step in preventing accidents and reducing insurance claims.”

The AA however, is not so taken with the idea. A spokesperson explained, “It costs up to £100 to put up a sign but £50-£60 to fix a pothole.”

Hmm, now we don’t know what to think. Generally we like the idea of a pothole sign, but money-wise it doesn’t look so appealing.

Well, if you like the scheme, you can always sign the petition. We’re going to mull it over some more.

Image by Mike Willis via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

Labels: , , , , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]