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Ten things we learned this week

  1. A German man has turned an ambulance into a hearse

    Thomas Schlichte is one of what we can only assume is a rare breed: a German undertaker with a sense of humour.

    Because Herr Schlicte has this week augmented his fleet of hearses with a converted ambulance. Yes, a van designed for transporting ill people to a place where they’ll hopefully get better has been converted into a van for transporting dead people to a place where they definitely won’t get better.

    “The vehicle has attracted a lot of attention, and the majority of it was positive,” says Thomas, failing to expand on what form the un-positive attention might have taken.”

    “The advantage is that it is so large inside that all the deceased’s loved ones can sit in the back with them. I know most people are used to ambulances going at quite a pace, but our journeys are more sedate and dignified.”

    Still, Top Gear fears the ambulohearse has the potential to cause confusion. “At last, an ambulance! I’m badly hurt, but if you can get me to hospital quickly, I might just… oh.”

    Please note: standard, non-hearse Ambulance pictured

  2. A Somerset entrepreneur has built a toll road to save drivers from roadwork hell (and keep his wife happy)

    The A431, between Bath and Bristol in England’s glamorous Somerset district, has been closed since February, undergoing roadworks after a landslip. It isn’t due to be reopened until next year.

    This means a 14-mile diversion, and hours of delays for commuters making the journey between the two cities. Unless, that is, pay £2 to use Mike Watts’ unofficial toll road.

    Noting the havoc caused by the roadworks, the local businessman rented an adjoining field, and spent £150,000 of his own money creating a 400-metre tarmac road that skirts the repairs.

    Westcountry jobsworths are upset Watts didn’t apply for planning permission, but the entrepreneur insists he’s helping the community.

    “People are just enjoying the fact they can go about their daily business without the 14-mile detour they’ve been having to suffer,” he told the BBC.

    “I could probably blame my wife. She was shouting at me and asking when something was going to get done [about the delays],” Watts explained. “It sort of went from there. She’s a very happy lady now, and isn’t shouting at me…”

  3. You lot really like Ford's diddy little 1.0-litre engine

    Good news for small engines: one in five Ford cars sold in the first half of 2014 were equipped with the rather excellent and really rather tiny 1.0-litre three cylinder engine.

    This little scrapper has now won the International Engine of the Year award three times in a row, beating out such delicacies as Ferrari’s 6.3-litre V12 and McLaren’s twin-turbo V8.

    Which is fine by us, to be fair, because it’s an excellent little thing. And even more excellent when Ford stuck one in a Formula Ford racer and gave us the keys for a night

  4. BBR will give your Mazda MX-5 200 horses of naturally aspirated oversteer

    The standard Mazda MX-5 produces a lowly, pitiful, life-deflating 158bhp. Tuner BBR has recognised that this power is not nearly enough, and has therefore added a [deep breath] new air filter, 4-to-1 exhaust manifold, high performance intake and exhaust cams, an ECU remap and larger 3.5in tailpipes.

    As such, headline power now sits at 201bhp and 166lb ft of torque, and the whole thing - which also adds BBR badges for the front wings and bootlid - costs just £2195 fully installed.

    Quite a good deal, we reckon. Not to mention a fitting tribute for the MX-5, which will soon be replaced by an all-new version. Which you can read (a bit) about here.

  5. Rolls-Royce will build a new convertible...

    …and it shall be a Wraith Drophead. It will also arrive in 2016 and pack enough luggzury to remind you that your life is wholly inadequate and useless without one. The Rolls SUV is still a while off, mind.

  6. will design a special edition Lexus NX

    Former Star in a Reasonably Priced Car and all round petrolhead/musician/whatever-he-fancies-doing-new-this-week has announced a collaboration with Lexus.

    Will will ‘champion provocative design and technology’ to help launch the new NX, as well as design his own special edition. “Whatever I do, I want it to be striking,” Mr dot-i-dot-am said.

    We presume he’s not actually levitating in the pic above. Though that might be his ‘thing’ for this week, so who knows.

  7. Busta Rhymes really likes the Toyota Sienna

    Toyota has attempted to add a dose of urban smarts to the Sienna - its US-spec family wagon - by enlisting the help of a certain Mr Busta Rhymes.

    Mr Rhymes - aka Trevor Tahiem Smith Jr - fronts the ‘Swagger Wagon’ campaign. Much cringe ensues.

  8. Formula E pitstops involve GETTING A NEW CAR

    Formula E kicks off later this year, the first round taking place on 13 September in Beijing. It’s a brand new electric-only formula featuring lots of shiny new tech and practices.

    One of these was brought to our attention as Nelson Piquet Jr posted a ‘pit-stop’ on his Facebook page. It largely involved literally jumping from one car into another, presumably when the batteries in Car One had depleted. We suspect this will be an expensive Formula. Still can’t wait, though.

  9. James May will return to your screens this weekend!

    Good news for UK-based fans of our very own Captain Slow. His new three-part television series on motoring for the masses starts this Sunday, 10 August.

    Catch it on BBC Two and BBC Two HD at 9pm, or on the iPlayer thingummy thereafter. But before you do, click here to view the trailer.

  10. Aston Martin has built a DB9 with a pink interior

    Aston is proud of its long history with James Bond. Its ‘Q’ division - that’s the special section that customizes cars - is even named after 007’s gadgets man. So for the upcoming Pebble Beach concours, it has decided to showcase its talent… by building a DB9 with a pink interior. Words have officially failed us.

What do you think?

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