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Performance News - 27 June 2000

Saab's Pikes Peak Contender, Yokohama A539, Fairlane and LTD Update, DaimlerChrysler Fuel Cell Bus, 90 Years Of Alfa Romeo, AutoSpeed: Position Vacant, Quickies

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Saab's 700 horsepower Pikes Peak contender

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Take one Saab 9-3 Viggen Coupe, tune the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine to produce 515kW (that's 700 horsepower!) and 800 Newton-metres of torque, mate it to a four-wheel drive system with six-speed transmission, strap reigning European Rallycross Champion Per Eklund behind the wheel, and you've got a combination ready to take on the world's best at the annual Pikes Peak Hillclimb in the USA on July 04.

The famous 'Race to The Clouds' is a tail-sliding speed contest that runs one vehicle at a time against the clock. The starting line is at 2865m above sea level, with the finish line 20km away at the 4300m summit. There are 156 separate curves and no guardrails! The road surface is a combination of paved road and well-maintained decomposed Pikes Peak granite.

Per Eklund's heavily modified Saab 9-3 Viggen Coupe launches from standstill to 100 km/h in less than 2.5 seconds - giving it the take-off performance of a Formula One car. But Eklund will labour under a handicap compared with the local drivers - he's never seen the hill, and is only allowed a limited amount of training. Three days before the event the competitors are allowed to drive over sections of the course and try to memorise it part by part...

Yokohama A539

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Yokohama Tyre and Rubber has launched what is said to be a cutting edge tyre design which sets a new standard in terms of performance.

"The A539 is the result of the full weight of Yokohama's extensive research and development resources, and is designed to sit below the flagship AVS Sport V102 in Yokohama's performance tyre range," said Yokohama Tyre and Rubber's director Mr Takashi Sugimoto. "The A539 was developed not only through the extensive laboratory and test track resources of YRC but also through real life evaluation in both Europe and Australia, the new tyre has enabled Yokohama to sustain the technological advantage it has forged in the past with tyres like the A509. One of the major objectives in designing the A539 was to develop a tyre which not only delivered on all the handling characteristics but also delivered on the criteria for vehicle occupant comfort," said Mr Sugimoto.

"The A539 derives much of its strength in dry road handling capability from the unique asymmetrical tread pattern incorporating high rigidity shoulder blocks to enhanced cornering traction," advised the assistant chief designer of the A539 Mr Takasugi. In establishing the tread pattern, wet road handling and braking characteristics were also of critical importance. To gain full advantage from this new pattern, a new silica tread compound was developed for the A539.

In developing this new compound Yokohama engineers had to first solve the problem of dispersing the silica evenly through the compound. For this, a new processing agent called Zeruma was developed and patented. Zeruma enables the even dispersion of silica.

The unique angled groove arrangement has a four-pitch pattern arranged to suppress rhythmic noise. The tyre's centre blocks are diamond shaped with the lower point designed to contact the road surface first, thereby reducing tyre noise for a softer, quieter and much more comfortable ride.

The new A539 is available from 12-inch to 14-inch sizes to suit the compact small sedans, through to 15-inch and 16-inch sizes to suit the most popular medium to large size vehicles with 17-inch sizes catering for the sports oriented market.

Fairlane and LTD Update

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Quieter cabins, a plusher ride and more standard equipment await buyers of the new AUII Fairlane and LTD. The new model LTD features standard satellite navigation - unique for an Australian-built luxury sedan - while both LTD and Fairlane become the first locally-built luxury sedans to feature laminated steel firewalls.

On the LTD, features include 10-way adjustable memory seat and mirror positioning system, while the Fairlane gets a sunglasses holder and a new 250 watt stereo system. Both cars will benefit from Ford's unique 60,000km scheduled servicing plan, as well as a prestige roadside assistance program. The safety upgrades initiated at the AUII launch have also been incorporated into the Fairlane and LTD.

The new Fairlane Ghia and LTD both benefit from a re-calibration of the multi-link independent rear suspension. Revisions have been made to shock absorber valving, front ball joints and suspension mounts along with new IRS top suspension mounts. 16-inch alloy wheels remain standard but the 215/55 tyres fitted to the previous model have been replaced with low rolling resistance 225/60 tyres. Those customers wishing to give their Fairlane a sportier appearance now have the ability to option Tickford 17-inch alloy wheels fitted with unique 225/50 Dunlop tyres.

In addition to the new interior appointments, a laminated steel firewall and hydraulic engine mounts result in a significant reduction in cabin noise levels. Both models also receive a 250-watt AM/FM radio, 6-disc in dash CD player, cassette, separate amplifier and 11 speaker elements including a 100-watt 8-inch sub-woofer.

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An overhead driver's console, including sunglasses holder, is now standard on the Fairlane Ghia.

A memory seat and mirror system has also been added as standard equipment on the LTD. The system allows the user to pre-program his or her preferred driving position and exterior mirror set-up through three buttons on the side of the seat. Up to three seat positions and six mirror positions (three for reversing) can be retained in the memory bank, with a simple touch of the button re-activating the preferred position after the settings have been changed by another driver.

Both driver and passenger front seats in the LTD offer 10-way power adjustment. The mirror setting for reversing automatically engages when the reverse gear is selected.

Subaru World Rally Car Blown-Up with TNT

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Team Subaru's Australian World Rally Car is moving around on 14 wheels, thanks to some clever graphic design on the sides of a TNT car transporter. Australian Rally Champion Possum Bourne's Subaru Impreza WRC features in a dramatic photo montage covering the lower deck sides of a giant TNT seven-car carrier. The attention-grabbing image of the Impreza in action will be seen around the Subaru dealer network as the semi-trailer delivers Subaru cars. The image was enlarged using the latest digital technology, to produce huge screens running the length of the trailer. Durable acrylic paint was used to ensure clarity and longevity.

DaimlerChrysler Fuel Cell Bus

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In just two years time, DaimlerChrysler expect to become the world's first automaker to launch fuel cell vehicles on the market. That is the scheduled delivery date for new Mercedes Citaro city buses equipped with fuel cell drives. In the same year, DaimlerChrysler's plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama which produces Mercedes-Benz M-class products, will start drawing power from a stationary fuel cell manufactured by the company's subsidiary, MTU. And the first fuel cell passenger cars will be ready to roll another two years after that. These announcements were made recently by J?rgen Schrempp, chairman of the DaimlerChrysler Board of Management during a speech in Hanover.

Schrempp views the fuel cell as the most promising of all alternative drive systems. "The fuel cell boasts efficiency levels greater than those offered by the combustion engine. It can be used in both mobile and stationary applications, can run on regenerative fuels and has the potential to become the drive of the future," he said.

The company intends to invest around one billion US dollars in the development of this drive between now and 2004. In Schrempp's opinion, the energy issue is one of the central challenges facing humanity, for the simple reason that energy offers the chance of simultaneously providing the solution to other problems. Schrempp quoted observers, who have predicted a growing demand for fossil fuels in the coming years, leading to continued increases in the price of oil. "This would give rise to the danger that energy could become a luxury item for the prosperous, deepening the division between the world's rich and poor," he said. He called on engineers around the globe to organise themselves using the Internet. "In this way," he said, "they would be able to work on securing future supplies of energy without regard to national boundaries."

90 Years Of Alfa Romeo

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One of the industry's most famous names, Alfa Romeo, celebrated its 90th birthday on 24 June 2000. Alfa Romeo's ninety years of existence encompass some of the most important chapters in motoring history. It is a story of cars, designers, races and engines that stand as technological and sporting milestones of the Twentieth Century.

Peugeot Museum Re-Opened

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The Peugeot Adventure Museum, inaugurated in July 1988, has reopened after a six month, AUD$17 million redesign and renovation program. Regarded as one of the world's premier automotive museums, the facility has already attracted more than a million visitors in just over a decade of operation.

Located at the gates of Peugeot's largest and oldest production plant at Sochaux, in North-Eastern France, the Peugeot Adventure Museum chronicles Peugeot's history and heritage, from the family's first move from flour milling to steel rolling in 1810, to the Lion marque's current production and concept cars. Visitors make a journey through time, with displays including Peugeot's famous coffee grinders and pepper mills, woodworking tools, domestic appliances, as well as bicycles and of course motor cars from the late 19th through the 20th Century. An extensive reworking of the museum's interior has tripled the floor space to 6000 square metres, and 200 vehicles, representing Peugeot's entire production, are on display.

Peugeot is the world's second oldest car maker, Armand Peugeot's first model appearing in 1889.

Mus?e Peugeot
Carrefour de l'Europe
FRANCE 25600
Contact : or visit

Preventing and Removing Swirls in Paint

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Swirl marks occur when a high speed / buffer machine is improperly used on a car's paint. A detailer may cut corners and not perform all the necessary steps to ensure proper care, or they may just be inexperienced. The result are swirl marks in your car's paint, marks that may not be able to be removed. Swirl marks, make your paint look like it has a 3D effect. It's smeary. No matter what you do, you cannot remove the marks. You may not see them when your car is parked in the shade, but when it is in the sun you will see the swirl marks shining back at you.

There are two things that you can do to prevent swirl marks. (1) Do not let a buffer / high speed machine touch your car's paint. (2) Proper and consistent maintenance. With proper and consistent maintenance, you may never need the use of a high-speed buffer.

Here are a few tips that you should also follow:

  • Keep your car waxed often. Waxing every 3 months is a good rule of thumb unless the car sits in the sun - then wax more often.
  • Park in a carport or garage. You can also use a car cover, but keep the car and the cover clean. Do not park under trees.
  • Stay away from sprinkler systems.
  • Do not use waterless car washes. Wash your car often. When you wash your car, rinse it extremely well to remove as much of the dirt and dust as possible. Do not dust off your car. Removing dirt and dust while your car's paint is dry will scratch it.
  • Use an Absorber to dry your car, then follow up with a diaper towel. Use two different buckets when you wash your car. Fill one with soapy water and the other with clean, cool water. Rinse your wash mitt in the clean water, then put it in the soapy water. Then, wash your car. Repeat this process until you are finished washing. If your car is extremely dirty, change the water in the two buckets often. You cannot have enough clean water.

Micro-fine scratches are different from swirl marks. Micro-fine scratches occur when you wash your car with a dirty wash mitt. They can also occur when you go through an automatic car wash. You can prevent these by following the above-mentioned tips.

Also, darker cars show swirl marks and micro-fine scratches more. Most, if not all cars, have micro-fine scratches, but lighter cars hide them better. And, if you have to use a buffer or high-speed machine on your car's paint, find a professional detailer. Make sure you have seen their previous work and ask what they will do for you if you end up with swirl marks - or worse.


  • The Rigolis continue to set Australian record four wheel drive turbo drag times - Domenic Rigoli's Impreza WRX recently ran a 10.88 at 128mph in Queensland. And then just when we thought that was pretty quick, the WRX ran a stunning 10.55 at 135mph at Willowbank on the 24th June 2000 (full story on this amazing car very soon in AutoSpeed). A Lancer GSR worked on by Sydney's Vince Rigoli recently ran a 10.97 at 124mph.
  • A few issues ago we suggested that Kalmaker software was no longer available to individuals. That is incorrect - go to for the full availability of GM-Delco tuning software. If you've got a Holden, it's very well worth a look.
  • The all new Quad APE Chip is a custom configured chip that can contain up to 4 separate custom programs, each selectable as you drive. It's said to be the world's first 4 program, instantly selectable, custom made chip. Each program is selected through a dash mountable, thumbwheel selector switch. Multiple programs can allow for precision tuning on many vehicles. Priced at US$599.00 the Quad Chip is available for all Ford EEC-IV vehicles from '86-'95. For more info and to order check out
Position Vacant: Staff Writer/Photographer

Web Publications has a full-time position vacant for a writer/photographer. The job task involves the preparation of Feature Car stories, Special Features and New Car Tests for

This is a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of automotive media in Australia.

The chosen applicant will:

  • Have a wide knowledge of new, used and modified cars, especially from an Australian perspective
  • Have excellent written English skills
  • Have excellent personal and presentation skills
  • Be competent in photography using digital and/or film cameras
  • Have excellent skills in finding and assembling information
  • Have a good working knowledge of word and image processing PC software
  • Be equipped with a PC and good Internet connection
  • Have a proven track record of success in an endeavour
  • Have a full driver's license
  • Be prepared to attend afterhours motorsport events and shows
  • Take pride in the accuracy and detail of their work
  • Be self-disciplined and responsible
  • Be able to work without direct supervision
  • Be able to work under pressure, meeting strict, frequent deadlines
  • Be prepared to travel both nationally and internationally
  • Wish to be part of one of the world's quickest-growing on-line automotive sites

The potential for job advancement is high.

Applicants should send a full resume and two original sample stories (complete with photography) to:


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Inquiries can be directed to

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