Thursday, August 18, 2016

Disparity in lap times force Nissan Philippines to extend the 2016 Nissan GT Academy Philippines competition

A disparity in the lap times set during the first two live events of the 2016 Nissan GT Academy Philippines Competition in comparison to those set at subsequent stagings has forced Nissan Philippines invalidate the lap times set at the aforementioned first two live events.

According to the Japanese carmaker, though the conditions for the every event are identical "in terms of the game, game settings and equipment used," a difference in lap times became evident when it compared the top 20 lap times set at the first two live events with those of subsequent live events. The problem ostensibly became evident when participants who took part in the first two live events staged at the SM Mall of Asia and Trinoma last June 30 and July 1 to 3, respectively, compared the lap times they set at those locations to those they set at subsequent live events.

Though Nissan Philippines and Sony Interactive Entertainment Asia couldn't explain the disparity in the lap times, the carmaker explained that PlayStation 4 'Test Kits' supplied by Sony were used for the first two live events whereas standard PlayStation 4 consoles were used for the subsequent events. As such, the PlayStation 4 'Test Kits' will no longer be used to set lap times in and that standard PlayStation 4 consoles will be used at all future events "to maintain fairness for all participants."

So if you took part in the first two stagings of the 2016 Nissan GT Academy Philippines Competition live events in SM Mall of Asia and Trinoma a couple of months ago, Nissan Philippines is inviting you to set new lap times in future live events it will arrange soon.

Good luck!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

BMW finds and restores Elvis Presley's old BMW 507 roadster

Elvis Presley may be known for his affinity with Cadillac, having owned and given away quite a few during his lifetime, but the King of Rock n' Roll at one time also owned a BMW.

For two years, from 1958 to 1960, Elvis served in the Army after having been drafted by the United States military. After completing his basic training in Fort Hood in Texas, Elvis was assigned to the 3rd Armored Division in Friedberg, West Germany. It was during his stint in the European country that Elvis bought the BMW 507 roadster.

Ironically enough, the BMW 507 was not brand-new when Elvis acquired it. According to various sources, the car was first owned by German racing driver Hans Stuck who used the car--finished in Feather White and bearing chassis number 70079--in a number of hill climb races in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland between May and August 1958. After every race, the 507 was serviced by BMW and had been fitted with an upgraded engine and a new gearbox when it ended up with a dealer in Frankfurt in 1958. It wasn't long after that Elvis, who ostensibly needed a car to transport himself between his home in Bad Nauheim and the US Army Base in Friedberg, saw the car at the dealer and immediately bought it after a brief test drive.

The 507's white paint job was a problem for Elvis since female fans would reportedly leave messages on the car itself using their lipsticks. Elvis solved this dilemma by having the car painted in red.

After Elvis' stint in the military ended in March 1960, he had the 507 shipped to the United States. It didn't stay long with him though since a few months later, Elvis traded it in at a Chrysler dealer in New York. From there, the car changed ownership three times and was heavily-modified more than once--with the BMW engine being swapped out for a Chevrolet mill that was so large, parts of the car's front frame carrier was supposedly cut out--on top of its gearbox, rear axle and instruments in the cockpit being replaced. By 1968, Elvis' old 507 found its way to California under the ownership of its most recent owner, Jack Castor, who used it occasionally as a runabout for everyday use before deciding to put the car into storage for future restoration. 

A collector who had already amassed an impressive collection of automobiles, Castor delved into the history of the vehicles he acquired and it was while reading an article about the 507 in the Bimmer magazine written by Jackie Jouret that he decided to contact her to tell her about his car.

On a visit to Castor's property, Jouret was led to a pumpkin warehouse where the 507 was stored alongside other classic automobiles, not to mention a large number of parts carefully stowed in boxes for the planned restoration of the roadster to its original condition. What Castor lacked though was an appropriate engine and the time to complete the project. However, when the 507's engine compartment was opened and the car identified by its stamped chassis number 70079 that things began to move rapidly for Castor and his roadster.

First, the people at BMW Group Classic Archives ascertained the car's provenance by finding an insurance proposal from December 1958 which contained the chassis number 70079 alongside the registration of the vehicle's owner as Elvis Aaron Presley. BMW Group Classic then discussed with its experts for restoring classic cars, Klaus Kutscher and Axel Klinger-Köhnlein, than an agreement was reached for the 507: besides being purchased by BMW Group Classic, the car will be restored as authentic as possible as envisaged by Castor.

After arriving in Germany, Elvis' 507 was first completely dismantled, a process which took an entire week instead of two days as originally planned. To retain as much of the original material as possible, the aluminum body was separated from the sheet steel floor assembly. The paint from the floor assembly and body was then stripped in an acid bath and an alkaline bath, respectively.

Also, despite the number of spare parts collected by Castor,a lot of the components had to be remanufactured from scratch since stocks of the original parts for the 507 are limited in numbers, even at BMW Group Classic, since only 254 examples were produced between 1955 and 1959. The window winders and door handles, for example, were remanufactured through 3D printing process based on the original dimensions. After producing a digital data set by three-dimensional scan of the original part, a copy was made with the help of additive manufacturing and mirror finished afterwards. By contrast, the rubber seal for the tank cover was reproduced via conventional manufacturing process, thereby benefiting other 507 owners since as a limited number was produced which means the part can now be sourced at BMW Group Classic.

As for the engine, the 150hp, 3.2-liter V8 was completely rebuilt from spare parts and conforms with its original specifications though it wasn't given an engine number due to its use of old and new components. The front frame carrier, which had been cut down to fit a Chevrolet mill as mentioned earlier, also had to be reproduced in its original geometry and integrated in the floor assembly.


In accordance to Castor's wish, the car was painted once more in Feather White. But instead of having the primer, filler, and top coat applied using today's methods, these were implemented using a procedure that corresponds to the technology used when the 507 was produced some 60 years ago, eliminating the color brilliance that is expected in modern cars but considered inappropriate for classic cars like the 507.

While the restoration of Elvis' 507 is certainly a joyous occasion, it does somewhat end with a sad note. Jack Castor wasn't able to see the car restored to its former glory as he passed away in November 2014 at the age of 77.

"The opportunity to bring back the BMW 507 owned by the King of Rock’n’Roll to us here in Munich for purposes of restoration in accordance with the wishes of the previous owner, Jack Castor, was a dream come true for all those involved," said BMW Group Classic chief Ulrich Knieps. "This was an exceptionally fascinating project."

Restored to its original condition as it was when Elvis Presley took delivery of the car on December 20, 1958, with center-lock rims, black and white interior, and a Becker Mexico radio, the BMW 507 with chassis number 70079 will be on display at the Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, California on August 21. 

Honda Civic Hatchback Prototype makes ASEAN debut at Indonesia International Auto Show. But is it coming to the Philippines?

Honda has revealed for the first time in the ASEAN market the Honda Civic Hatchback Prototype at the ongoing Gaikindo International Auto Show in Jakarta, Indonesia before the production model goes on sale in the country "in the first half of 2017."

"The Civic is a Honda’s longest-running automotive nameplate and a unique car which much-admired by customers worldwide," said Noriaki Abe, Chief Operating Officer for Regional Operations (Asia and Oceania) of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. "To expand Civic's line-up to meet various lifestyle and needs of Indonesian customers, we proudly present the all-new Civic Hatchback Prototype for the first time in the Asia and Oceania region. The Civic Hatchback will also be equipped with the environmentally-friendly VTEC TURBO engine, and is coming to Indonesia in the first half of 2017."

The Honda Civic Hatchback Prototype was first introduced at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show and shares the same platform as the recently-launched and current-generation Honda Civic sedan. Thus, it shares the same exterior, from the large air intakes and LED headlights and daytime running lights to the swage line that runs through the front and rear door handles before culminating in the distinctive C-shaped LED taillights.

Like the sedan, the Honda Civic hatchback will go on sale with the Japanese carmaker's 1.5-liter turbocharged VTEC Earth Dreams Technology engine, which is good for 171hp and 216Nm of torque. And together with its more compact and aerodynamic body, the five-door Honda Civic hatchback will be the most sporty Civic model ever--short of the Type R, of course.

"We understand that a hatchback is one of the most popular segments in Indonesia, especially for youngsters,"  added Tomoki Uchida, President and Director of Honda's Indonesian partner, PT Honda Prospect Motor . "We are certain that the Civic Hatchback with 1.5L VTEC TURBO engine will become the hottest hatchback in the Indonesian market, offering sport performance and advanced features as its sedan version," of which it supposedly commands 40% of the compact sedan segment.

Now, the big question is if the Honda Civic hatchback will also make its way to the Philippines? We certainly hope so since it gives car buyers another option, not to mention a competitor for the Mazda 3 and Kia Forte hatchbacks.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Not all is well in the Fast and Furious 8 set

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson recently posted on his Instagram that he's finished shooting his scenes for Fast & Furious 8, the still-in-production eighth installment of the long-running Fast & Furious movie franchise, where he once again plays the role of Luke Hobbs. Now, four movies into the franchise and you'd think The Rock should be getting along fine with his co-stars but based on his post on the social media network, that doesn't seem to be the case.

In the post, while The Rock graciously praises his female co-stars, it's a "different story" with one or maybe even more with his male co-stars as he called him/them--in true The Rock fashion, of course--"candy asses." Since Johnson didn't reveal who the offending party is, we could only speculate on who it is. Vin Diesel? Tyrese Gibson? Ludacris? Your guess is as good as ours.

This is my final week of shooting #FastAndFurious8. There's no other franchise that gets my blood boiling more than this one. An incredible hard working crew. UNIVERSAL has been great partners as well. My female co-stars are always amazing and I love 'em. My male co-stars however are a different story. Some conduct themselves as stand up men and true professionals, while others don't. The ones that don't are too chicken shit to do anything about it anyway. Candy asses. When you watch this movie next April and it seems like I'm not acting in some of these scenes and my blood is legit boiling - you're right. Bottom line is it'll play great for the movie and fits this Hobbs character that's embedded in my DNA extremely well. The producer in me is happy about this part😉. Final week on FAST 8 and I'll finish strong.  #IcemanCometh #F8 #ZeroToleranceForCandyAsses
A video posted by therock (@therock) on

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

China has actually built that futuristic megabus that straddles two lanes on the road!

A few months ago, a computer rendering of a futuristic megabus that straddles the roadways as a means to decongest traffic went viral online. Designed in China, the "transit elevated bus" as China Xinhua News calls it is finally real!

According to the news outlet, the bus--named as TEB-1 (short for Transit Elevated Bus #1, we suppose)--started its initial test run yesterday, August 2 at Qinhuangdao, a city in China's Hebei province.

Do you think this could be the answer to Metro Manila's traffic?


These are the four reasons why customer satisfaction levels at car dealerships are falling.

According to the 2016 J.D. Power Customer Service Index Study for the Philippine automotive market, customers are less satisfied with their after-sales experience with their cars than last year, with the average service satisfaction supposedly down by 15 points this year at 822 from last year's 837.

So, what went wrong? These are reportedly the reasons cited by the 1,838 respondents surveyed for the study:

What do you think? Do you agree with the findings of the study?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

You've seen the Initial D-inspired Toyota 86. Now watch it in action.

About a month ago, featured an Initial D-inspired Toyota 86 commissioned by Toyota UK. The project had UK-based manga artist Sonia Leong feature the car, which was done in the same panda-style monochrome livery as the iconic AE86 in the popular series, in the foreground of a series of portraits with panoramic backdrops that wouldn't look out of place in the comic strip.

Sweet, right?

Well, if the Initial D 86 already looks impressive in those portraits, perhaps you'll like it even better in live action as Toyota UK has released a short video of the car drifting through the curves of a mountainside road complete with a container filled with tofu on the back seat.

As a true homage to the car in the series, Toyota UK fitted the Initial D 86 with the latest versions of the same components that were featured in the AE86, like the custom-made RS Watanabe alloy wheels, TRD suspension, Fujitsubo exhaust system, Cusco strut brace, and a carbon-fiber bonnet. Keen-eyed fans of the series will also note the yellow-tinted fog lights, which echo the Cibie spotlights fitted in the car to improve Takumi's night-vision, and the silver-painted engine cover that pays tribute to the 20-valve 'Silver Top' 4A-GE engine used in the series. Completing the look are the carbon-fiber door handle protectors and mirror covers to imitate the black plastic material used on the AE86, mud flaps as seen on the original Initial D car, the deletion of the spoiler on the trunk, and the tinted rear lenses.

Sweet. Just sweet.

Mazda Philippines tops 2016 J.D. Power Philippines Customer Service Index Study

Undoubtedly buoyed by its stellar lineup of Skyactiv vehicles and its stellar Yojin 3 after-sales service offering, Mazda Philippines has topped the 2016 J.D. Power Customer Service Index Study for the Philippine market for the first time.

Mazda nabbed the honor by scoring 845 out of a maximum of 1,000 points, beating second-placed Honda (831) and Nissan (827), based on the results turned in by 1,838 respondents who purchased brand-new vehicles between February 2014 and May 2015 and subsequently had their vehicles serviced by an authorized dealer or service center between August 2015 and May 2016.

According to J.D. Power, the study examines five factors of a dealership's performance: service quality (29%); service initiation (26%); vehicle pick-up (17%); service facility (14%); and service advisor (14%).

Overall though, service satisfaction has reportedly gone down to an average of 822 points this year from last year's 837 points, "with declines recorded across all customer service factors."

"Despite more service reminders being sent to customers for routine maintenance, customers are not reciprocating by making appointments for their service visit," said J.D. Power senior manager Loïc Pean. "We still see six in 10 walk-in customers and this exacerbates the capacity crunch at the dealerships. Dealerships have to be resolute to educate their customers to get into the habit of making appointments else it will be a formidable task for dealers to manage unscheduled workload and maximize throughput."

Check out how the other automotive car brands performed in the study below: