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IWOC Motoring News

Monday 31st May 2004


"Anti-Social" Clamper clamped

A wheel clamper in Portsmouth has become the first in the UK to be clamped by an interim anti social behaviour order.

The move, brought by Portsmouth City Council and police, has been welcomed by the RAC Foundation as a radical step to stop the outrageous activities of cowboy clampers.

Authorities in the city were so worried about the clamping activities of this clamper that they raised this unusual action to protect residents and visitors in advance of the summer months. It means that the clamping boss could face five years in prison if he breaches the order.

The court awarded the interim anti social behaviour order on the grounds that it was necessary to protect the public from further anti-social acts from the clamper - defined as behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

Now the Foundation is suggesting that other authorities might follow Portsmouth's example. The Security Industry Authority - set up to regulate the worst excesses of clamping companies - is unlikely to begin licensing clampers until next year.

The RAC Foundation still has concerns that merely licensing clampers will not solve the problems. The Foundation wants the regulations to be extended to include towing away and blocking vehicles in - a suggestion supported by 96 per cent in a recent SIA consultation. The Foundation also believes that licensing will be hopeless without an enforced code of conduct.

Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation said:

"We applaud Portsmouth City Council and the police for standing up for the rights of motorists - I am sure that many other authorities will be following this case with great interest and may follow suit if they have a similar clamping nightmare on their patch. It is disappointing that SIA progress is so slow. In the meantime cowboy clampers are still running wild. This may be the only course of action left as a last resort to authorities desperate to protect their citizens from the unacceptable practices of unscrupulous clampers with criminal records and unsavoury backgrounds."

"If decent regulation cannot be introduced by the end of the year we should follow the Scots example and just outlaw clamping as theft and extortion".

The interim anti social behaviour order prohibits the clamper involved from:
* Clamping without adhering to the British Parking Association codes of practice.
* Clamping on land without the written authority of the legal occupier.
* Clamping without signs clearly displayed warning of the use of wheel clamps.
* Clamping or demanding money without producing the written authority of the legal occupier of the land and proof of identification.
* Clamping or attempting to clamp a vehicle while the engine is running and occupied.
* Blocking or attempting to block the pathway of vehicles on the road or private land should the vehicle be occupied and the engine running
* Threatening, abusing or intimidating motorists where a wheel clamp has or is being applied.
* Inciting, encouraging, aiding or abetting any other person to undertake any of the above.

The catalogue of complaints against the Portsmouth clamper, who operates his business at various locations around the city, is lengthy - with many of the victims citing use of intimidation, threat, and abusive language. They include:

* Cars in a particular car park all clamped on the blind side with no warning signs on the windscreens - resulting in them being damaged when the unwitting owners returned and drove them away unaware that they had been clamped. One owner did £300 of damage to his vehicle and was laughed at and told to: "get more glasses" when he challenged the clamper.

* A taxi driver taking money to his son to pay a clamping charge was also clamped and blocked in when he drove into the same car park.

* A man clamped for the second time when he returned to the car park where he had previously been clamped. He returned because he had appealed the first fine, received no reply and went back to get the clamper's telephone number to follow up. His engine was running and he had pulled only slightly off the road.

* A woman who went to pick up her son took a short cut across a private car park in order to reach a side road. Her exit from the car park was blocked by the clampers demanding money even though her engine was running and her handbrake was not on.

* Clampers attempted to clamp two drivers who had executed three point turns in the road - even though only their rear wheels came in contact with the private car park.

* A woman with her children turned her car in the forecourt of a garage with no intention of stopping. A tow truck pulled in front of her and her car was clamped.

The RAC Foundation now intends to send its dossier of the worst clamping cases to the Security Industry Authority so that when they eventually set up their licensing scheme they will be able to check on the past record of clampers.

In recognition of its stunning design and refined interior the Maserati Quattroporte has won the coveted 'Best Luxury Car in Show' at the British International Motor Show.

Thirty-five expert automotive designers and engineers from the membership of the highly respected Institute of Vehicle Engineers (IVehE) toured the Show and identified the Quattroporte as the leader in the segment for Luxury cars (priced £25,0001 and over).

The panel of judges were unanimous in their citation for the award, 'A combination of all-round competence and Italian flair put the Maserati Quattroporte at the top of this category - it provided all things expected of a luxury car but made the most impact on the judges, especially with its stylish interior'.

A luxurious sporting saloon with the heart of a sportscar the Maserati Quattroporte is now on sale in the UK. It delivers sensational refined performance with an on-the-road price of £69,995 including a three-year 'peace of mind' service package. The Quattroporte on the stand at the British International Motor Show is finished in Blu Sebring, but no two cars need to be the same as customers can choose from a host of exterior and interior colours from the Officine Alfieri Maserati Personalisation Programme.

The award was presented to Maserati S.p.A. Commercial Director Roberto Ronchi and Maranello Concessionaires Managing Director Robert Hazelwood by Mike Dickison, Chairman of the IVehE Motor Show Awards 2004 Judging Panel.


The Astra Estate made its world debut at the Madrid Motor Show on 20 May. Featuring a 2700 mm wheelbase, the new Astra Estate offers ample space for passengers and luggage. In fact, with a wheelbase which is around nine centimetres longer than the five-door and Estate predecessor, the new Estate offers a load volume of up to 505 litres under the luggage cover. Folding down the rear bench seat cargo volume is expanded to an exceptional 1570 litres.

Astra Estate will be available with the same choice of ECOTEC engines as the five-door - four petrol and three diesel engines with displacements from 1.4 to 2.0 litres and power outputs from 90 to 170 hp. Transmissions range from a six-speed manual gearbox (for both of the 1.9 CDTi engines and the 2.0 turbo petrol), a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic (optional for 1.8 ECOTEC) as well as the latest version of the Easytronic which is available in combination with the 1.6 TWINPORT. Astra Estate goes on sale in November.

Meanwhile, Vauxhall's dynamic new Astra hatch is already proving a phenomenal success since its on-sale date of 1 May. In fact, in just the four weeks that Astra has been on sale 16,000 orders have been taken.

The Sunday Times Motor Show Live saw Vauxhall launch its new premium sports brand, VXR. Inspired by the company's long history of racing success in touring cars, VXR is all about affordable performance, unmistakable looks, presence and exclusivity. And two stunning VXR models - a VX220 and Monaro - were on the Vauxhall stand to mark the birth of this exciting new brand.

Also making its UK debut was the all-new Tigra, complete with its retractable hard top. New Astra was on display as well, the show being the first time many of the public will have had the opportunity to admire Vauxhall's new segment leader, both inside and out.


BRENTWOOD, 28 May, 2004 -- Ford of Britain's commitment to equality in the workplace has earned an exceptional tribute from equal rights campaign group Opportunity Now for its industry leading position.

The business-led group's 2004 benchmarking survey, which measures the progress employers have made in ensuring equal treatment for men and women, has singled Ford out for particular praise.

It is a member of an elite group of 25 businesses awarded platinum status, an honour only bestowed on companies scoring between 95 per cent and 100 in the survey.

Ford's ability to motivate employees - everything from establishing a vision and setting goals to creating the optimum management structure - could not be bettered, scoring 100 per cent against a survey average of 81 per cent.

Its ability to turn vision into reality was also flawless. Ford scored 100 per cent for ensuring equality in recruitment, work design and redeployment and for developing equality behaviour, culture and accountability.

Monitoring of recruitment, training, promotion and pay, learning and the impact of equality action on the organisation also scored top marks.

Women have thrived in this enlightened climate, occupying senior positions in the organisation. High flyers include Monazza Khan, director of legal affairs; Maureen Graham, director of programming and distribution; Pauline Walsh, manufacturing manager at Dagenham Engine Plant; Kathryn Lees, South East district manager; Linda Carpenter, small car planning manager and Alexandra Walker, manager of powertrain manufacturing engineering.

European diversity director Surinder Sharma said: "We have only been benchmarking for three years now and this shows the impressive progress the company has made in terms of diversity issues generally, especially after receiving gold last year. We are now seen as one of the leaders in the UK, not just in manufacturing, but across the board."

Opportunity Now is a Business In The Community-led campaign that works with employers to realise the economic potential and business benefits that women at all levels contribute to the workforce.

Norma Jarboe, Opportunity Now director, said: "Ford demonstrates an outstanding commitment to women in the workplace and has shown an exceptional dedication to ensuring its working culture is inclusive and diverse. I am personally impressed with Ford's work in this area and think that its exceptional platinum mark clearly reflects the quality of its comprehensive efforts."

A second, official Lamborghini dealership has been opened in Stockport, Cheshire.

Owned and operated by H.R. Owen Plc, Lamborghini Manchester will complement the original UK facility, Lamborghini London, established by H.R. Owen Plc when it acquired the assets of Lamborghini GB from AFN in July 2000.

Lamborghini Manchester is based in Town Hall Square, Stockport and includes a seven-car showroom and extensive service workshop, fitted throughout to Lamborghini's corporate standards. The location officially opened in May 2004, following investment of over £700,000 from H.R. Owen Plc. Lamborghini Manchester will sell both new and pre-owned cars, and provide all aftersales care for Lamborghini owners in the north.

"Opening a second Lamborghini dealership is an illustration of the marque's success in the UK," said Dominic Lancaster, general manager of both businesses. "The Lamborghini Murciélago, launched in 2000 as the replacement for the Diablo, and the Lamborghini Gallardo for which deliveries commenced in 2003, have both received media and customer acclaim, and this second facility will support our growing market for these models. The Stockport location is ideal: not only due to a concentration of customers in the Cheshire and Lancashire regions, but because of its accessibility to other key Midlands and northern regions."

To date, around 70 Lamborghini Murciélago and 100 Gallardo units have been delivered by Lamborghini London. "Lamborghini Manchester will allow us to deliver both increased numbers of cars, as well as service, while the relatively low volumes produced by Lamborghini continue to assure the marque's exclusivity," continued Dominic Lancaster.

The UK accounts for around 10% of the total world-wide market for Lamborghini and, on parity with Japan, is the third largest behind the USA and Germany. The 6.2 litre, V12 Lamborghini Murciélago retails from £168,000, producing 570 bhp and a top speed of over 200 mph. The 5.2 litre, V10 Lamborghini Gallardo retails from £117,000, outputting 500 bhp and 190 mph.


Member of BannerPower Rotation System

RX-7 - Mazda's rotary engine sports car By Brian Long

Published April 2004 (UK)/May 2004 (USA)
ISBN 1-904788-03-3/UPC 36847-00303-6
£34.99 UK/$59.95 USA
Enlarged and updated new edition of the definitive international history of Mazda's extraordinarily successful Wankel-engined coupés & roadsters right up to the end of production and the introduction of the RX-8
Advice on buying your own RX-7
The RX-7 in motorsport
Production figures
High quality artpaper production, heavily illustrated with colour throughout.

Mazda launched its first rotary-engined car - the Cosmo - in 1966 and was the only car manufacturer to solve the major problems associated with Wankel's radical engine design so that the unit's potential could be exploited and enjoyed. Launched in 1978, the RX-7 provided effortless and uncannily smooth performance, attributes that endeared the model to enthusiasts through several generations of production. With each reincarnation the RX-7 became more of a Grand Tourer and less of a sportscar (a mantle handed to the MX-5); global sales reduced as the car moved upmarket; the final Spirit model was sold only in its native Japan.

Born in Coventry but now living in Japan, Brian comes from a family with a proud heritage in automotive and aviation fields. Brian turned to writing by accident but since 1990 when his first book was released, he's had more than 20 books published. Brian is a member of the RJC (Researchers' & Journalists' Conference of Japan), the Guild of Motoring Writers and a former Porsche owner. Brian has a wife, Miho, a son, Louis and a daughter, Sophie-Mercedes.

Cloth hardback. 250x207mm/9-7/8x8-1/8in. 208 pages. c.400 illustrations, mainly in colour.

Available from Amazon.

MINI Convertible announced 'Car of the Show' at Motor Show Live
Institute of Vehicle Engineers confirms MINI's top billing

Thirty-five expert automotive designers and engineers from the Institute of Vehicle Engineers (IvehE) scoured the Motor Show Live to find the cars that they judged to be the best of the show. Eight main categories ranging from 'Small cars under £10,000', to 'Performance cars, price unlimited' plus four special categories produced 12 winners, but it was the new MINI Convertible that took the grand title of 'Car of The Show'.

Considered by the panel of judges to be a 'well engineered, well conceived version of an already successful design that will have a special resonance for a great many visitors to the show', the MINI Convertible was a fitting winner for the first British Motor Show to be held in the summer.

The MINI One Convertible and MINI Cooper Convertible go on sale in the UK on 26 June priced at £13,325 and £14,625 respectively. The MINI Cooper S Convertible will go on sale in the UK in August priced at £17,595.

A Stunt-tastic MINI Adventure!
MINI Convertible put through its paces at Motor Show Live

The MINI stunt team is performing over 25,000 handbrake turns during the course of this year's Motor Show Live.

Each 10-minute super-slick show incorporates 200 handbrake turns,
150 metres of two-wheel driving, 25 precision near misses, 20 J-flick turns and a
6.5 metre mid-air jump.

Stunt supremo Russ Swift and two other highly trained drivers, including his 24 year-old son Paul, have spent weeks perfecting the MINI stunt show to wow crowds at this year's Motor Show Live at the NEC. Using only standard production cars, the choreographed performance rolls out nine stunning shows every day throughout the two-week spectacle. MINI Open Air Theatre takes place in a specially constructed arena that has a seating capacity of 1000 people per show.

The finale sees Russ execute his first ever UK jump in the MINI Convertible. Over the entire show, the 'flying' MINI will travel the equivalent distance of seven football pictures in mid-air, or the equivalent height of the Blackpool Tower.

The theatrical stunt show pushes the MINIs to their limit. A specially designed floor covering saves the three-car extravaganza from a potential rubber burning 126 tyre changes, yet retains the crowd-pleasing screeching and smoking.

Russ, a former four times British Auto Testing Champion, said: "It's great fun doing a display like this - it's all about putting on a real spectacle for the crowd and showing off the MINI's incredible handling. But I wouldn't recommend people try any of the stunts we do at home!"

At this year's show, MINI is taking on the theme of Open Air Theatre, putting on a show fit for any West End stage. With a display arena sized 75m x 32m, 250 spotlights, 150km of cabling, and a hi-tech lighting desk which has never before been used in the UK, the show really is a full scale production in itself.

The amazing MINI Open Air Theatre can be experienced at the Motor Show Live at Birmingham's NEC until 6 June 2004. MINI Open Air Theatre is free of charge for all visitors to the show.

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