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Friday, September 19, 2008

Interview with Bruno Sacco

The World Wide Web is so dynamic that sometimes valuable information that we stumble upon today may no longer be available tomorrow for some reason such as the site administrator may no longer keep up with the tedious demands of maintaining and archiving static data.

So while I'm on it and googling "W201 Retro Design Concept". I'm going to make a small breakdown of what I have stumbled upon, Automobile Magazine's Marc Nordeloos Q & A session with the legendary Mercedes-Benz designer; Bruno Sacco. So without any futher adieu. Enjoy!

Automobile Mag: What Mercedes-Benz models do you consider to be your best designs?

Mr. Sacco: The 1980s W126 S-class, the 1990s R129 SL, the CLK, the SLK, and the W220 S-class that debuted in the late 1990s. But my favorite is the Mercedes-Benz 190 [W201] because of its importance to Mercedes.

I must agree that the W201 may not be the best Mercedes-Benz model but it's sure was very important to Mercedes-Benz especially when it was under intense pressure from competitors.


Automobile Mag: Is there a model you designed that you're unhappy with?

Mr. Sacco: The W140 S-class from the early 1990s, because it is four inches too tall.

I'm not sure about it since I'm no big fan of Big Benzes. Some may like it a lot but this particular model wasn't made based on the designer's ultimate wishes.

Automobile Ma: What current designs do you like?

Mr. Sacco: I like what Cadillac is doing with some of its models. I did not like the Allant, but the Evoq show car and the XLR are good designs. It's nice to see manufacturers come up with a new design language and develop it. But it is important to be careful which models a company chooses to feature an edgy design.

Yes, edgy is the new sexy.

Automobile Mag: What current designs make you shake your head?

Some of the SUVs from Korea. Also, BMW seems to lack a clear focus on its design theme. It is important to balance classic design themes when developing out-there designs.

And ACTYON is what I have in mind!

Automobile Mag: What non-Mercedes designs are your favorites?

Mr. Sacco: The Lamborghini Miura, the Ferrari 275GTB, and--although I know it's a Mercedes--the Gullwing.

Who would go wrong for a Gullwing?

Automobile Mag: What are your thoughts on retro design?

Mr. Sacco: It's popular and it helps sell cars, but it offers little perspective on design. I do like the Mini, though.

The Mini, The FJ Cruiser, The Shelby. The W201 retro? Somebody should run a design contest for this!

Automobile Mag: What cars do you own?

Mr. Sacco: A Mercedes 560SEC. I love the car except for the large, plastic door-handle surrounds. I am considering having my car modified to fix this design flaw.

I can't wait to see this Super Mercedes flaw fixed.


Automobile Mag: Say you have a long weekend ahead of you. What do you drive and where do you go?

Mr. Sacco: I would take a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren to Paris.

Now I gotta grab my camera and spot an SLR McLaren. See you around!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Battle of Spa Francorchamps

It may sound like a scene in World war I with exchange of mustard gas and deadly shells from the howitzers. But honestly, it's nothing close to that. Circuit de Spa Francorchamps is one of the most challenging race venue to any racing events that it has hosted since its inception. Designed by Jules de Their and Henri Langlois Van Ophem, and was removed from the F1 calendar in 2006 due to financial, sponsorship and legislative problems, the circuit has been a favorite of many racers for its hilly, fast and twisty nature. From the head of starting line it spans to 14km of pure adrenaline pumping well-rolled asphalt up to the tail of the finishing line. Over the years, from Playstation to the real thing, Spa Francorchamps has never ceased to amaze the drivers and equally the fans. Although the chicanes, the twists and turns hasn't change much, but the surprises and the racing drama are always new.

Mercedes-Benz is never a stranger in this battlefield of speed, wits and endurance without compromising safety of both machines and the men who drives them. Noting the mean machines that negotiated the Masta Kink, Eau Rouge, Raidillion, The Bus Stop Chicane to name a few which is easier to mention than to receive doses of G's from it at the scruciating speeds of 200kph or even 300kph plus. Starting with the 300 SEL 6.8 V8 in which Aufrecht and Melcher has first proven their mettle as the official racing gearheads for Mercedes-Benz.

Following the legacy was the W201 190E 2.3-16 of the Deutsch Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM) that showed serious surprises for BMW and Auto Union (Audi).

Up to one of the most dramatic chases completed recently by a Mclaren MP4-23 in the Belgian Grand Prix 2008 that sends one of Ferrari's wonder wheels crashing to the barrier.

Racing for the conquest of Spa Francorchamps forces a team to think hard out-of-the-box without resorting to misadventurism. Going through what the rule book doesn't cover from the art of calibrating the necessary controls, additional aerodynamic enhancers, the precise call to choose the right tyres for the unpredictable weather, a sane mind at an insane moment, a demanding pressure from an equally experienced opponent, highly-trained technical team of pit stop crews are just some of the few things to consider in conquering this crazy battlefield which is a bitter tangible testament that Filipinos can't race yet because after all, this is not just a competion of cars, Spa Francorchamps is a test of team dynamics to its fullest.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Their Multivitamins

Human beings can't live by bread alone. Because we need a balanced nutrition and as we grow older we need more and more of them and we obtain them through different sources such as supplements in the form of multivitamins that we won't normally get through our regular food(fuel) consumption.

Same goes to the modern classics that we own including my aging but still nimble W201. Depending on the owner's preference, Mercedes-Benz classics may or may not need a supplement in the form of oil conditioners (not for your hair), fuel treatments, fuel injection cleaners, fuel system cleaners. So I asked my trusted Benz Meister if these substances are cool to use for my classic, he highly recommended the use of those things since he's aware on how keen I am in spelling off the previous owner's stigma from the car. From my first day of ownership, the fuel system has been patiently worked on; taking down the tank to have it cleaned, replacing the fuel filter and fuel accumulator, no need to replace the fuel pump since it's still new.

At that time, the only thing that hasn't been done was to completely clean the fuel system; from the lines to the injectors and without knowing how much gum, varnish and moisture are stuck in one of the most fundamental system of an automobile, the best approach is always to consult a "qualified" expert to decide on what is the best way to address this issue. And infusing an agent is the most practical approach.

Good thing there was a company who demonstrated a product in an auto show that was actually what I'm looking for, so I purchased but still hesitant to put it on until it's time to do the regular tune-up and oil change, I asked my trusted Benz Meister again if this is the right thing to do and I got a nod, vertically. So the first choice was from the company called Chemisch Technische Produktion GmBH. And the product is a self-explanatory Fuel System Cleaner.

All that is needed is to pour this product to a half-tank or 3/4 full tank of petrol during oil change. As from any other promises, I didn't expect the effect to be immediate, it's like a bitter pill or like cooking first-batch pancakes on a pre-heated stove, it's never perfect because, of course, the initial chunks of undesirables are pushed out to the intake manifold and burned together with the fuel including water, imagine how any type of petrol-injected engine will react to that process. The effect became more obvious on the following days; reduced (sometimes none) white smoke on a cold morning start, more stable idling, smoother throttle feel, cooler and more responsive engine. It has somehow lubricated the fuel pump to perform better.

One caveat, though it should rather be a rule than an exception, before using such substance in your favorite classic it is always advised to make sure that the powerplant and its subsystems are maintained religiously and is working in a roadworthy condition. It has always been a false misconception that the use of these car care products are perceived as silver bullet to eliminate common engine problems permanently which leads to frustration and further waste of money due to gross negligence on the belief that these products, again, will cure every engine problem permanently. Just like our multivitamins, it's a defense against sickness, not a cure.