Monday, October 27, 2014


The FIA's new racing formula, FORMULA-E, for electric-powered single seaters is under way, but you'd be hard-pressed to notice it.

The first round was held in Beijing in September, and after a bit of 'Off-again, On again' the street race in Hong Kong is now confirmed for November 8, 2014. The circuit will be called the Victoria Circuit and will be in Central, on Hong Kong Island.

The next round will be in Malaysia on November 22. Quite a few cities have signed up for an event, including Miami and London. There's even a round scheduled for Monaco next year!

With all the complaints around Formula One right now about how quiet the current turbo-petrol engines are, then the E-Races are going to be a very hush-hush affair.


Travels in the Mediterranean have offered up a lot of photo ops during trips to Italy, Greece, Tunisia and France.
" 'Ello, 'ello!" (Ponte Vecchio, Firenze, Italy)

Discussing the weather? (Tunis, Tunisia)

"Sunday morning, I should be in church." (Sorrento, Italy)

Golden Knight (Siena, Italy)

Street artist outside the Uffizi (Firenze, Italy)

Watching the comings and goings (Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy)
Notes in a Piazza (Padova, Italy)
Smile! (Firenze, Italy)
Waiting for the Imam (Tunis, Tunisia)

Hoping for a fare (Venezia, Italy)
Tango finale (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Much of the intimacy which writers and readers of Blogs share and enjoy comes from individual texts containing thoughts, experiences, ideas and opinions. Equally, much of the pleasure is also derived from how the Blog is illustrated. I think that more than anything establishes the Blog’s personality.
In most cases these will often be highly personal photographs, showing people, places, things, and of course ‘other stuff’.
As far as Driving and Life is concerned most of the photos I use are those I took myself, but I freely admit to grabbing a photo from sources like Google Images when I need to illustrate a point for which I do not have a suitable shot.
A good friend of mine in Sydney, who is an outstanding photographer in his own right, plucks wonderful shots from his extensive archive, and as well he manages to take impeccable portrait shots during his global travels. Most times, they are just ordinary people going about daily tasks. I always tell him; “You have a good eye for a great photo op.”
Despite interesting stories behind the photos, the photos are always the highlights. Especially, in my opinion, his people photos.
Check out his blog because you will be impressed. <>
In my case, the reader will recognize I’m ostensibly a ‘car guy’ so Driving and Life is mostly littered with car pix. However, I too have enjoyed extensive travels around the world, and I began combing my collection for some ‘people shots’, which boast a bit more personality than a static car photo.
So here’s a selection from my candid camera:
Just texting the girlfriend (Aix-en-Provence, France)

Just Married (Venezia, Italy)
Quintet de Tango (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Managing gondola traffic (Venezia, Italy)
The clergy is clearly 'not the shot' (Lucca, Italy)

Ice cream and a drink (Amalfi, Italy)


"And, another thing wrong with Berlusconi ...." (Padova, Italy)

Just catching up .... (Samos, Greece)

A Tasty Welcome (Barcelona, Spain)

"Don't look now, here comes another American!" (Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey)
Another selection in the next post

Thursday, October 23, 2014

ANNECY - Jewel of Savoy

Just 35 kilometres south of Geneva is the town of Annecy, whose history dates back to first settlements in the 13th century, and at one time it was the capital of what is now Switzerland. 
It was pretty much the property of the family of Savoy, and not so much fought over, but rather 'exchanged' from time to time. France conquered Annecy during the French Revolution, but then it had to be handed over to the Duke of Sardinia (hereditary heir to the Savoy family), however in the 19th century it was deeded back to France.

It's a compact and beautiful community, with a population around 60,000 today, and it's the capital of the Haute-Savoie department of the Rhône-Alpes region.

Surrounded on its northern side by four massive mountains (Le Mont Veyier, Le Semnoz, La Tournette and Parmelan), today it's popular for sailing and paragliding; and in 2009 it hosted the 18th stage of the Tour de France.

We came to Annecy via the Mont Blanc tunnel, and the journey from the tunnel exit to the town is around 110km and took us about 90 minutes. As you drive into the town from the autoroute you're greeted by an impressive mix of beautiful medieval and attractive modern buildings.

The town planners over the years must have been careful to hide any ugly buildings, and the industrial area, away from the eyes of tourists. As you drive through the main city centre you pretty much feel glad you chose to visit.


The River Thiou runs right through the heart of the town, exiting into Lac Annecy, known as Europe's 'cleanest lake' because of strict environmental controls.
It's fed by the Thiou and numerous other small rivers, but also from an underground source which enters the lake at a depth of 82 metres!


We stayed right in the heart of the town at a very clean and
sparkling Mercure, and parked in the town car park at the
end of the street for a modest 10 Euros a day.
Palais de l'Isle - once the Mayor's house

The best photo ops are obviously the spectacular views of the river running between the buildings.

Then our time was spent walking the town's environs. There's lots to see, from wide boulevards, narrow medieval lanes, and beautiful lakeside parks. Despite chilly weather most of the year, the locals keenly use their outdoor spaces, so there's always lots of families and dogs playing and picnicking.


Restaurant choices are plentiful, but try dining in the crowded ones, because that's where the best food will be. We tried a relatively deserted one, and regretted it immediately.


Annecy boasts beautiful gardens, a great variety of shopping (with regular 'sales') and plenty of good touring opportunities around the perimeter of the lake, and up into the mountains near the skiing resort of Megève.

If you're heading for south-east France, put it on your list of pitstops and stay at least two nights - you won't be disappointed.

Monday, October 20, 2014

On Cape Cod - Finale

The year 1990 was a very interesting time at Jaguar Cars, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Ford Motor Company had completed its acquisition of the company early in the year, and a group of senior Ford Executives led by John Grant had arrived at the Browns Lane ‘works’ in Coventry, to get a close look at Ford’s ‘new division’.
John Grant
The revelations were described by John Grant as: “Surprising, in terms of its depth of engineering and technical talent. Appalling, in its management of production and quality issues. Incredibly naïve in terms of dealing with its potential in the developing global market for luxury cars.” It was also hopelessly underfunded.

Jaguar Land Rover HQ, Mahwah, NJ

In August 1990, the Detroit-based Ford executives established what it called ‘The Rescue Team’ for Jaguar. It would be based in Mahwah, New Jersey, because Jaguar Cars North America took 55% of total production.

Mike Dale & JC
The Rescue Team would be headed by the new President of Jaguar Cars NA, Michael Dale. An expatriate Brit, who had become a US citizen. Mike Dale had a good handle on what the company needed to do in the USA, to bolster some faith in Jaguar's potential within the Dearborn 'Glasshouse'.

Mike and I were also good friends within the Jaguar ‘family’, and I was fortunate to be asked to join the team as Vice President of Public Relations, a post I took up in March 1991.

The following month, the PR Manager, Mike Cook, suggested we fly to Detroit to meet Motown’s key automotive journalists for dinner at the famous Whitney mansion on Woodward Avenue.

Mike arranged for members of the local Jaguar Car Club to bring along some prime examples of the marque to display on the Whitney’s driveway.
Bill Scott & his E-type (1991)

It was here I spotted a beautiful, green 1965 E-type roadster, and its enthusiastic owner, Bill Scott. Over dinner Bill revealed he was a chief designer for General Motors, with responsibility for Pontiac and Oldsmobile.

He loved his E-type, and had owned it since new. Just that afternoon it had been brought to The Whitney from the restoration shop, where a major restoration project had just been completed that day.

Let’s switch gears, and now it’s September 2014, and shortly before I left Australia for the USA, Brian, my soon-to-be host on Cape Cod, e-mailed and said: “I’ve organized a lunch during your visit, and I thought you might enjoy seeing Bill Scott and his 1965 E-type.”

Would I ever!
The car looks just as good as when I saw it in 1991, meaning it’s been 24 years since its restoration! Bill had the painter tint the green duco, with a touch of blue, meaning it was more Teal, than its original factory colour.

I think it looks great! 

Brian, Bill and I were to meet up at Mattakeese Wharf Restaurant in Barnstable.

As soon as we arrived Bill and I began discussing cars, just like it was yesterday (or 1991).

Just 50 years separates two letters of the alphabet. 

Immaculate is not a good enough description of his roadster. It is sensational!

E-type and F-type - two letters of the alphabet separated by 50 years!
After a distinguished 38-year career at General Motors, Bill looks back on influencing some of GM’s most important new models. In May 1991 he took on one of his biggest challenges, completely reworking the design themes for Oldsmobile, in response to the new cars coming from Japan and Europe.

Born in rural Indiana, he developed a fascination with drawing and design at an early age, when his contemporaries were more interested in farm studies. His obvious talent, and successful entries in automotive design competitions encouraged his parents to support him to follow a career in car design.

However, it was not just esoteric design interests which was to make Bill a valued design leader in years to come. Bill had
Bill's Prize-winning 1958 model
great experience as a model builder and tinkerer and also had mechanical skills, which meant he had a greater understanding of the mechanical and practical aspects of ‘design’.

He graduated from California's prestigious Art College Centre for Design, was interviewed, and hired by
Chuck Jordan
the great Chuck Jordan from GM, and within a couple of years began climbing the career ladder within GM Design.

Although a highly competent designer, Jordan knew Bill Scott’s talents singled him out as a potential studio manager. He went on to head both exterior and interior studios at GM for several brands, most importantly Oldsmobile.

In 1991 at Chuck Jordan’s urging Bill’s team reworked a
1989 GM 'Tube Car' concept 
chunky 1989 concept car called the ‘Tube Car’ and from it developed the Aurora concept in 1993.

Original Aurora blueprint

The car was picked up by Oldsmobile, and launched in 1995, with highly acclaimed build quality and tight margins.
1995 Oldsmobile Aurora
 Bill was promoted in 1999 to head up a brand new department at GM, responsible for improving design and build quality for all new GM cars.

By 1998, General Motors had gathered reams of research data which showed its vehicle quality lagged imported rivals, both in public perception and in reality. Bill Scott’s efforts belatedly moved the recognition of quality quite a few steps up the priority list at GM’s Head Office.

In retirement on Cape Cod Bill and his wife Mary maintain their mutual love affair with automobiles, as active members of the Cape Cod British Car Club.

When we lunched together and discussed both old and new Jaguars in great detail, it was heartwarming for me to renew an acquaintance with a man whose skills and experience demand respect.

Plus it confirmed yet another talented designer on my list of design pals whom I admire and appreciate.