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Ten Things We Learned This Week: 7 July 2017 edition

We're all buying more supercars and can run them on booze: another weird week in cars

  1. Mercedes is flogging a race-winning F1 car

    Mercedes-AMG is dominating Formula One at the moment because while everyone else was still focusing on the old screaming V8 engines, it was beavering away with hybrid turbo V6s. So, when the rules changed, their car had more poke, and started to win. A lot. And everyone’s been catching up since.

    So this is an oddity, then: a Mercedes F1 car that wasn’t actually a championship dominator. This W04 F1 racer from 2013 is up for sale, but this chassis ‘only’ won the Hungarian GP, with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel. So by AMG standards, it’s sort of the underachiever of the family. Only five podium finishes in a season? Tsk. So, you probably won’t mind that it is price-upon-application only…

  2. Aston Martin won’t let you sell your Valkyrie for a profit

    Unfortunately, the announcement of every fast limited edition unobtain-mobile these days is tempered with the knowledge that no sooner has the car reached its lucky owner, it’ll likely be turfed straight back onto the open market with a price two or even three times greater than the number the maker originally asked. It’s been nicknamed ‘flipping’, and Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer is both aware of it and not about to stand for such selfish nonsense.

    In a tweet, the Aston boss said of an apparent attempt to flog a Valkyrie build slot: “I doubt they have a slot, but if they do and we identify who flipped, they lose the car. If they flip, then they never get another special.” Well done, Mr P. Flippers, you have been warned.

  3. Rolls-Royce owners aren’t as ancient as you think

    Carmakers are constantly locked in a battle to get the average age of their buyers down. That’s why you can now have Twitter supported in your car and even a Nissan Micra has hi-fi speakers in the driver’s headrest. Because choons. So it might surprise you to learn, as it did us, that Rolls-Royce, perhaps the world’s most traditionalist carmaker, has a below-pensioner age demographic. The average buyer is just 45, Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös told Bloomberg this week. That’s ten years younger than the last time Bentley checked its average demographic. Keep spreading the good word, Rick Ross.

  4. Tesla has sped up the Model S and Model X (again)

    Tesla’s cars have steadily been getting quicker through software updates and powertrain upgrades, and in the week that Model 3 production started to ramp up, the Model S 75 has had a second lopped off its 0-60mph time, taking it down to 4.3 seconds. The Model X 75 will now do 0-60 in 4.9 instead of 6.0 seconds, which is cool if not entirely necessary. Still, anything to keep the share price up, eh?

  5. Renault has made a Formula One teapot. No, really.

    How’s this for an in-joke: Renault has made an F1-inspired teapot. Anybody? Okay, allow us to explain. When Renault got into F1 forty years ago it brought with it in fact turbo technology, the upshot of which was big power when the car worked, and an expensive engine failure when it (often) didn’t. As a result, Ken Tyrell from the Tyrell team nicknamed the Renaults ‘yellow teapots’ due to the amount of times they would expire, puffing white smoke. So, as Renault’s F1 anniversary rolls around, it’s dreamt up a futuristic teapot to celebrate. Just 40 will be made, and they’re €129 each. Anyone fancy a brew?

  6. Designers have awarded four Ferraris design awards for design

    Every year the Red Dot design awards praise the, um, best designs in motoring, and for 2017 Ferrari took no fewer than four gongs, for the GTC4 Lusso, LaFerrari Aperta, one-off 458MM Speciale and the limited-run J50. Nothing for the California, T, though. Funny, that…

  7. The Ford Mustang is officially 20 per cent less deathy

    Ford copped a lot of flack earlier this year for the Mustang performing about as well in safety testing as a game of Twister in a minefield. The airbags allowed dummies’ heads to impact the steering wheel, and there was a severe lack of driver aids like collision avoidance braking. Well, Ford has responded, upgraded the Mustang’s safety net, and the result is a three-star EuroNCAP result, up from two stars before. If you’re thinking that still isn’t brilliant, you’re absolutely right. Drive safely…

  8. Audi has green-lit an official Formula E team

    Audi Sport has its hands in many motorsport pies: DTM, GT cars, world rallycross, and from next year, an official Formula E outfit too. Yep, Audi is getting behind the electric single-seater championship in a big way, continuing its support of ABT Schaeffler and entering its own works team as of December. That makes up for sidestepping F1 and dropping out of Le Mans, right?

  9. Lots more billionaires are buying lots more supercars

    According to serious motoring industry types JATO Dynamics and Automotive News Europe, the number of billionaires in the world has doubled between 2010 and 2017. As a result, supercars are very, very popular right now, and the most popular of all is: the Ferrari 488. So far, 622 have found homes in Europe this year, and the exotic car market as a whole is booming, with 2017 sales projected to near 13,000. By 2020, almost 15,000 of Europe’s annual car sales will be bona fide Instagram-pleasing supercars. It’s alright for some…

  10. Cheers: whisky-fuelled cars are here

    Remember the name: Celtic Renewables. This is the future. Sorry Elon. Forget lithium-ion. The answer to the world’s energy requirements is booze.

    Well, perhaps not. But this week it has indeed been proved possible to run a car on nought but the byproduct of whisky manufacture. According to CR: “The fuel - biobutanol - is a new advanced and sustainable biofuel, which is a direct replacement for petrol and diesel. It is produced from draff - the sugar-rich kernels of barley which are soaked in water to facilitate the fermentation process necessary for whisky production - and pot ale, the copper-containing yeasty liquid that is left over following distillation.”

    Pouring said fuel into an otherwise unmodified petrol-burning engine car apparently gives everyday performance, and with 750,000 tonnes of draff produced by Scotland’s premier industry every year, that’s a lot of biofuel waiting to be harnessed. Note, this is literally the only time that alcohol and cars should be allowed to mix.

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