Monday, October 25, 2021


 You'll know that I am the arch skeptic when it comes to EVs taking over the world of personal mobility.

However, there are some really, really smart people out there who have found a way to 'turn a buck' from a concept few investors in renewable energy even consider.

Instead of littering the world with the detritus from old, used-up EV batteries, how about a concept which buys them cheap, harnesses about 20 together; hooks them up to solar PVCs; storing energy during the day, when prices are low; then distributing at night when prices are higher?

This video describes an amazingly simple account of out-of-the-box thinking that I think needs wider coverage. Copy and paste the link, I think you'll be impressed with this innovative idea:

I think all governments need to watch this.

John Crawford

Friday, October 22, 2021


As you know I am very proud to be a former member of the ‘Alfisti’, and in fact I am convinced the spirit of Alfa Romeo runs in my veins.

My love affair began in 1975 during an extensive test drive in a 1.8L Alfetta (right).

It was further fuelled on my first international press trip in 1976, when I joined a contingent of motoring writers and Alfa Romeo dealers on a week-long tour of Italy and Alfa Romeo facilities, including a visit to the proving ground at the 'Old Farm' at Balocco.


The company, in my book, can do nothing wrong, and has totally re-invented itself with the creation and development of the Giulia – in all its forms.


Alfa Romeo's motor sport history covers every division - sports cars; formula one; touring cars and sports racing cars.

It has enjoyed a great tradition of innovation and ingenuity.

It's also where Enzo Ferrari got his start, and together with the great engineer Carlo Chiti, they wrote many new achievements for Alfa Romeo in the record books.

However, I was on hand for one of Alfa Romeo's Formula One disappointments, at Monaco in 1981. 

Thanks to my friendship with Alan Jones, I had a track pass allowing me to 'Access All Areas' (before that phrase had any currency).

On that day I was unfortunately in a position to catch Bruno Giacomelli racing away with a promising start, leading Didier Pironi through Casino Square; holding his own through Mirabeau, to a very definite DNF covered in extinguisher foam.


The official results list the failure to finish as a 'collision', but I was there, and it was the 'Busso' V6 catching fire which ended his run.

Being hoisted onto the flatbed was a very ignominious end to the day.


Mind you, when Bruno and the Busso were really firing, they were a pretty competitive pairing.

So despite my Milanese romance, I can be also be a realist - especially about racing.

When you check the results it's easy to see one should remain philosophical - it was an event which claimed some big scalps including some future world champions.

There were 11 cars which failed to qualify; and of the 20 starters, the attrition rate was incredible, there were only seven who finished.

Alan Jones led most of the race, but a faulty fuel pump in the last few laps allowed Villeneuve to claim victory.

The podium places were filled by Gilles Villeneuve, Alan Jones and Jacques Lafitte.



Tuesday, October 19, 2021


A great photo of a smiling Lady Moss, with one of her and Stirling’s dear friends, Sir Jackie Stewart, at the 2021 Goodwood Revival meeting.

She is pictured in the Mercedes-Benz in which Stirling and Denis Jenkinson won the 1955 Mille Miglia at an average speed of 99mph!


It was just a little over a year earlier that Britain’s greatest racing driver passed away from complications with a virus contracted in the Far East in 2016. Despite masses of good friends, Susie Moss chose to spend her time out of the public spotlight, but this wonderfully candid photo shows her determined spirit has not deserted her.

John Crawford

Monday, October 18, 2021


I love it when I can combine the joy of friendship, with a joyful automotive experience. This story starts in 1975 when I needed to hire staff for MODERN MOTOR magazine, because I was finding it tough being the only salaried employee (as Editor), relying on the efforts of friends and freelancers to help put the magazine together each month.


I was introduced to a young guy called Matt Whelan, full of enthusiasm for cars, but having built up his journalism experience writing about motorbikes for our sister publication REVS MOTORCYCLE NEWS.

He settled into our routine quickly, and not only brought impressive writing skills, but some great editorial ideas, and freshened our approach to writing about cars. He was also a genuinely nice guy, and over the next two and a half years we became very good mates.


In May 1975, my good friends at Alfa Romeo called to offer us a short test drive in their new Montreal GT coupe, which was eagerly accepted.


However, we need to divert down a sidetrack at this point, to chart the interesting and colourful history of the whole program.


The Montreal began as a concept car (below) produced in 1967 by Gruppo Bertone and its chief designer, Marcello Gandini, especially for display as an exhibit at EXPO 67 in Montreal.

The car appeared without any model designation, but the public christened it ‘Montreal’ in honour of the Expo. The concept car was based on the running gear of the Giulia Sprint GT, powered by the 1.6L engine from the Giulia Ti. However, what the automotive world did not know at the time was that the ‘suits’ at Alfa Romeo had big plans.

Concurrent with the creation of the Montreal concept was the Tipo 33 racing program, which began in the mid 60s, when Alfa Romeo’s racing division, Autodelta, created a sports racing car with a tubular chassis, and despite being originally planned to use a four-cylinder engine, Carlo Chiti designed a brand new 90° 2.0L V8.

When the production version of the Montreal was initiated (Tipo 105.64), it was agreed it would use a detuned version of the Tipo 33 V8.

However, Chiti had by then developed a dry-sump lubricated, cross-plane crankshaft 2.6L version, producing 147kW (197bhp).

1970 Geneva Salon production Job One

The design was unusual for Alfa Romeo in that it was very ‘oversquare’ with an 80mm bore and 64.5mm stroke. This resulted in a very 'flat' torque curve, making for very flexible performance when linked to the close-ratio five-speed manual.


One of the interesting aspects of Montreal production was the overly complicated manufacturing process. In a way, it was typically Italian – somewhat confusing and fraught with challenges to ensuring acceptable quality.


First of all every Montreal began at Arese where the chassis was produced. This was then sent to Bertone’s facility at Caselle, where the body was fitted. The package was then sent to Bertone’s assembly operation at Grugliasco where the complete chassis/body was degreased, and manually spray painted, and the interior fit-out completed. Then the car was sent back to Arese where the engine/transmission/suspension was fitted.


Enthusiasts restoring, or rebuilding vintage Montreals have discovered that between them, both Alfa Romeo and Bertone had very poor record-keeping, so it’s almost impossible to align each of the components by serial number, thereby creating cars with genuine provenance.


In total Alfa Romeo built 3900+ Montreals between 1970 and 1977. It was never ‘Federalised’ which meant the car could not be sold in the USA, but even now Montreals are in high demand.


In late 1972 Autodelta produced a racing version complying with Group 4 regulations. The first car was sent to the German team run by Dieter Gleich (also the primary driver) to compete in the DRM series for GT cars.

Despite a boost in output to 276kW (370bhp), the car was not competitive, but at least carried the Alfa Romeo flag in European motor sport.

However, the donor car (Tipo 33) was doing very well in the sports racing category, driven by a fabulous line-up of international drivers, including my good friend Derek Bell – who shared a car with Jackie Ickx.

In 1973 Carlo Chiti produced a fabulous flat-12 3.0L engine producing 500hp. In 1975, the Tipo 33TT.12 enjoyed its best racing season delivering seven wins in eight races, and dominating the 1975 World Championship of Makes.

In 1977 a new car debuted (Tipo 33SC 12) with a box chassis, and was Alfa Romeo’s most successful version, winning every race in the 1977 World Championship for Sports Cars.

In the final event at the Salzburgring, Arturo Merzario drove a twin-turbo flat 12, finishing second on its first outing. This engine was later used in Formula One in Brabham’s BT45 and BT46, then later in Alfa Romeo’s own Tipo 177 F1 car.

But, let’s pickup on our Australian test drive of the Montreal. We only had the car for five days, so we suspended all office work to take turns at the wheel. Although Matt and I shared the test drive, the story appeared under his by-line, and his words reveal he was very impressed with the Montreal, as was I.

MODERN MOTOR, June 1975 issue

This is despite a very scary moment for one of our testers on a wet and greasy night, when the Montreal slid off a rain-soaked freeway to spin out-of-control into the grassy (and very slippery) median. He couldn't wait to regale Matt and I with the drama-filled excursion!

To be truthful, the Montreal may have been a joy in the dry, but a real monster in the wet, thanks to the very hard compound Pirelli tyres.


The double wishbone front suspension, and the live rear axle were an amazingly well-sorted combination.

The roadholding was peerless, the turn-in exceptionally sharp – but the lack of power steering made driving it more suited to Charles Atlas, than Matt or me. 

The ride was also beautifully compliant, but all this focus on elements of the underbody, takes away from describing the glorious V8. It was a jewel of an engine, and with a redline at 7000rpm, the best way to slice up through the ZF five-speed was to not change gear before you saw 6000, and at that point the engine is howling – putting a huge smile on your dial.

I only ever enjoyed that one outing in the Montreal, but if you could buy just one GT car from the 60s, you could not find a better candidate for unique flavour in both mechanical and styling terms, but also for sheer driving pleasure.


On the subject of styling, Gandini included quite a few surprising features. Not least of which was the NACA duct in the centre of the hood. It is non-functioning, and was included to ‘hide’ the hump in the hood under which resides the ‘extremely-difficult-to-tune’ SPICA fuel injection. The strakes on the B-pillar provide an exhaust for cabin airflow, but apart from that they have no specific function.

The ’eyelashes’ were a Gandini trademark, borrowed from his masterpiece, the Lamborghini Miura.


I believe the Montreal is a totally underrated car. I think it is a gem, and I am so thrilled (as a former member of the ‘Alfisti’) that Alfa Romeo had the guts to produce it.

It was all irrational, pie-in-the-sky stuff because Alfa Romeo sold so few, but it was brilliant, different, fun, true to the spirit of the GT car and, as Jay Leno said, “one of the great products not only from Italy, but also from Alfa Romeo. It showed their true colours probably more than any other car from Arese.”


Couldn’t have put it better myself.



Sadly, my dear friend Matt Whelan passed away in August 2013, and the business world was robbed of a highly talented man who had translated journalistic excellence into a very promising career as an expert in computer education and the early identification of cybercrime threats.

Monday, October 11, 2021


Back in 1976 when I was Editor of MODERN MOTOR magazine, my friend and sometime contributor, Sue Ransom and I, were approached to participate in an economy driving event to be staged by the French petroleum giant, TOTAL (pronounced ‘TOE-TARL’)


The rationale behind this event was not so much to provide car companies with cheap advertising about how fuel-efficient their cars were, it was all about TOTAL fighting for visibility in a crowded marketplace and lifting its image.


The brains behind it was a very smart lady who ran TOTAL’s PR and Marketing, Val McKenzie. She hired an equally smart guy, Tom Snooks, to put the whole logistics of the event together – rules, regulations, route, independent observers, and a media package.

Our approach came from a company called LNC Industries, which, despite its non-descript name, was the importer and distributor for Volkswagen and Audi cars.

The PR department of LNC was run by a very dedicated and innovative perfectionist called Norman Newbon (right).


He also possessed an impish sense of humour, best expressed by his plan for the MODERN MOTOR team to participate in a five-speed, manual petrol Golf.

Whilst the Editor of our competitor,
WHEELS, Peter Robinson – would be driving an automatic petrol Golf.

The first few days were treated by the participants as a ‘fun drive’ – at lunch on the second day, fast bowler Dennis Lillee even managed to get a game of cricket happening at the lunch stop.


Danish adventurer Hans Tholstrup at bat; cricket legend Dennis Lillee, Wicketkeeper; rally champ Colin Bond at First Slip

However, once the fuel economy data began rolling in, everyone was determined to treat the event with a great deal more serious behaviour.


Let’s cut to the chase, Peter Robinson (left) and his co-driver, Mike McCarthy won our class, with an impressive, overall result of 39.355mpg. There were times during various stages where Sue and I recorded numbers of 48 and 53mpg, but they were on flat, gently undulating rural roads, and it was the overall number that mattered.


The publication of the list of starters however should have been a big warning sign about just how competitive the event was going to be. Especially when we saw the name, Eric Lane among the list of competitors.

Eric & daughter Heulwen

Eric was, without shadow of doubt, the greatest economy run driver in the history of these events.

His win rate has never been beaten.


But hey, in reality, Sue and I were just a couple of petrolheads, primed with only some rudimentary tips from my good friend, racer and rally champ Colin Bond.

We did employ those tips and used lots of common sense, but the concentration, and total dedication to driving style – for maximum fuel efficiency – was a completely unrealistic way to drive. Most drivers simply wouldn’t apply the rules and restrictions necessary to return optimum fuel economy.

My summing up after the event was that cars like the Golf - lightweight, roomy, fuel efficient - would be the path for future family car design. The Golf had all those properties and Volkswagen has taken those parameters and designed some outstanding engines over the years to triumph in the continual daily fuel economy competition. And, look how long Golf has lasted - from 1974 to 2021!

Today’s Internal Combustion Engines (ICEs) are not only highly fuel-efficient, they are among the ‘cleanest’ engines on the road, and there’s more to be achieved on that front.

Despite all the forecasts that we’ll all be driving EVs by 2040, the ICE will be around for a while yet, with far greater return on investment - because they’re cheaper to buy, operate and recycle than most EVs – so don’t count them out yet – and we don’t need an economy run to prove it.


Saturday, October 9, 2021


This Drive celebrates the extremes in flora in this huge continent. Whilst Australia is technically an island, it is nonetheless almost the same size as the 48 contiguous United States, and like America the huge ground mass features temperate, tropical, sub-tropical, desert, rainforest and alpine regions.

On this drive we will depart from the capital of the state of Queensland, Brisbane, and immediately climb into tropical forests to the west of the city. 

The drive will encounter the hilly terrain that represents the topography of the Great Dividing Range, which rises far to the south in the Kosciuszko National Park and runs northwards for more than 3500km (2300 miles).

It is Australia’s main watershed along the eastern coast, and as such strongly influences the weather enjoyed by those who live on its eastern fringe.


Like many places in Australia, following British colonialization from 1788, Brisbane was originally founded as a penal settlement, for secondary offenders. The penal institution, about 10km east of today’s city centre, was established in 1824.


What is now downtown Brisbane is located inside a U-shaped bend in the Brisbane River on a floodplain, which means it regularly suffers from flooding events.

The city grew slowly, but now has a population in excess of 2.4 million people. Brisbane offers a complete range of accommodations, from 5-Star down to homely B&Bs.

Leave Brisbane heading west, following signs to The Gap and Mount Glorious (Route 31). The road winds through a temperate forest which boasts fauna including wallabies and koalas. Lookout points reveal great views of Brisbane city.

After the ascent to Mount Glorious, the road descends to the plains on the western side of the range.

On the eastern shore of Lake Wivenhoe, take a right onto the Wivenhoe-Somerset road and head north. Here the plains often suffer lack of reliable rainfall, as the Great Dividing Range acts as a watershed, dumping the rain on its eastern edge.

At the junction with the Esk-Kilcoy Road, take a right, continuing north, past the western edge of the Somerset Dam. This is a very pretty drive, with great views of the range on your right. The road terminates at the T-junction with the D’Aguilar Highway (Route 85).

Just after this junction is the town of Kilcoy, an excellent place for a pit stop for morning tea. Kilcoy, a town of about 1800 was established in 1841 and is about 58 miles northwest of Brisbane.

Heading east the road rises into the Corrondale Range, and then the next change of direction is to turn left at the junction with the Kilcoy-Beerwah Road (Route 6), and head north. Just before reaching the hamlet of Peachester, take a left onto Bald Knob Road, again heading north.


You will be passing through the Crohamhurst State Forest, but the road emerges into a series of valleys of lush farmland. 

Bald Knob Road continues to a T-Junction, where it becomes Route 23 (Malleny-Montville Road).


Continue to follow Route 23 until you reach the pretty settlement at Montville, which sits at 400m in the Blackhall Range.

Montville began life as a logging and farming community in 1887, and today the area is well known for its large variety of farms which grow avocadoes, citrus, pineapple and macadamia nuts. It’s a popular weekend retreat for Brisbanites, and offers enjoyable walking trails, the most significant of which is the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk (below), a 59km, four day, well-signposted  walk with campsites sited throughout the Blackhall Ranges.

To reach our final destination, Noosa Heads, follow Route 23 north from Montville, take a right on Phillipps Road, and follow the Blackhall Range Road, signposted to Forest Glen.

At Forest Glen, you will cross the main north-south freeway, the Bruce Highway, then follow Route 8 (Maroochydore Road), until the junction with Route 70 (Sunshine Motorway), and head north.


At this point you are close to Alexandra Headland, the southern tip of the ‘Sunshine Coast’ which extends for 25 miles north, to Noosa Heads.

Noosa Heads is the unofficial capital of the Sunshine Coast offering a wide variety of high class shopping, restaurants, accommodation and beautiful beaches. It's a great place to book in.

It’s definitely worth a few days for relaxation and refreshment.


Wednesday, October 6, 2021


My good friend Angus MacKenzie, who has helmed several of the most notable automotive publications in the world including Britain’s CAR; the USA’s MOTOR TREND and Australia’s WHEELS, recently undertook a 500-mile road trip around Scotland in a McLaren GT visiting a few places prominent in Scotland’s Clan history, including the MacKenzies.


First photo stop was a visit to Eilean Donnan castle (ancestral home of the Clan MacKenzie), a very famous pile, which is located at the confluence of three sea lochs, and was prominent in defending Britain against invading Norsemen.

Actually, the castle did become a pile of rocks, when it was blasted to smithereens by British warships in 1719, and was not rebuilt to its current condition until the early 20th century.

Angus then made a pitstop at beautiful Glen Coe deep in the Scottish Highlands, which was the site of the ‘Massacre of Glen Coe’ in 1692, when 38 members of Clan Donald were a bit slow in pledging their allegiance to William III, and were slaughtered.

However, I have photographic evidence of a similarly dramatic event in Glen Coe involving said Angus MacKenzie. In 1986 Jaguar Rover Australia was invited to bring a group of journalists to attend the launch of the new Jaguar XJ40. JRA Managing Director Phil Hovell and I co-hosted a group of 16 journalists (including Angus) to the press launch at Dunkeld House, in Perthshire.

The test drive route was mainly on B-roads around the Highlands, not known for their smooth, cultivated surfaces and corners. Angus was at the wheel of an XJ6 with Phil Hovell riding as navigator, and Angus was giving the Jaguar ‘plenty of stick’ as they sped through the majestic Glen Coe scenery. 

Suddenly a series of poorly sculpted undulations loomed, and this photo records the moment when Angus, in pursuit of a record-breaking completion of the route, arrived at this location, with the inevitable consequences.

Apparently, there was no in-car recording of the moment the Jaguar took off, so we can only speculate about the navigator’s reaction. The record incidentally was held, briefly, by famous UK motoring scribe LJK Setright, whom Angus later worked with when he was editor of CAR.


Phil Hovell survived to talk about the event for years to come, but the real record was established on that test drive by my very good friends Wayne Webster and Paul Gover, who completed the run in record time, even after a backtracking pitstop along the way for a splash’n’dash!


I should also mention a run-in with the Rozzers involving another member of our group, Peter Robinson (then editor of WHEELS).

The policeman stopped Peter, advising him he had clocked the Jaguar at 120mph, and said:
 “I don’t know whether to arrest you, or give you a right bollocking”. To which Robbo replied “What’s a bollocking?”

Ah! Fabulous memories.


Sunday, October 3, 2021


Forget about the impact of COVID on the automotive industry, there are much bigger structural changes being forced on carmakers by governments, activists, green groups and consumers.


It would appear from the collected writings of observers, commentators, automotive media and car industry executives, that there is only one end point to the dilemma over carbon emissions – electric vehicles.


I have vainly tried to express my personal opposition to this simplistic view, and have been disappointed that senior figures in the automotive industry have not spoken up in defence of a range of solutions.


This state of play changed for me this week, when I belatedly read the editorial viewpoint in Britain’s AUTOCAR magazine (May 19 issue), by the Editor, Mark Tisshaw.

Whilst these short editorial introductions in each issue are usually intended to point readers towards a major feature, interview or new car news story, this particular editorial succinctly summed up my own concerns very nicely.


The views are expressed by one of the most senior automotive executives in Europe – Carlos Tavares – CEO of Stellantis – the new company formed by the merging of Groupe PSA with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

It is the first time I have seen such a senior executive have the guts to talk about the challenges, and how the industry has been forced to accept only one path forward.

I have received permission by AUTOCAR’S Editorial Director, Steve Cropley, to reprint the editorial column verbatim, and even though I am not posting the whole of the interview, the editorial column is an incredibly concise capture of the main points.


Here it is …..

Carlos Tavares is not just a successful car company boss, but also one of the industry’s great commentators.


Last week the Stellantis CEO questioned the automotive industry’s all-in approach to EVs, saying governments were simply “surfing on public opinion” by legislating in their favour.

His concerns are threefold. First, EV affordability. How, he asked, can the industry “protect freedom of mobility for middle classes who can't afford a €30,000 EV when today they pay half of that? If they can’t afford a new EV, they’ll just keep driving their current, polluting car.”


Second, making EVs profitably. “If we cannot protect margins, there will be restructuring and there will be social consequences, “he said. In other words, factory closures and job losses.


Third, “in one decade, mobility devices will be 300-500kg heavier than today. That will bring to the table the topic of materials. The scarcity of them, and renewable ones.”


Tavares’s solution? “We could have been more efficient with multiple technologies, not one. The choices have not been made by the automotive industry. We should keep that in mind for the future.”

The horse has already bolted, but Tavares wants it known who left the stable door open.


Mark Tisshaw




Friday, October 1, 2021


THE QUAIL – A MOTORSPORTS GATHERING is gathering notoriety as the place for new car reveals and this year was no exception. Set on the beautiful grounds of the Quail Lodge Golf Club in the lush Carmel Valley just east of Monterey, Lamborghini chose this wonderful venue to debut its spiritual successor to the fabulous 1970s Countach.

The original Countach was created by maestro Marcello Gandini in 1974, when he was designing for Bertone, so the task of creating the 2021 version imposed great weight of expectations on the new Head of Centro Stile – Mitja Borkert.

Marcello Gandini & Mitja Borkert

I believe Borkert has very, very successfully assembled a cohesive blend of 1970s design cues, eschewing sharp edges for luscious curves, for a contemporary interpretation of the much-loved original.

Borkert has given in to tradition using the ‘hexagonita’ theme for the taillamps.

So, hands up those who hate the new version? Then, I’m sorry, but you’ll have to go to the back of the room.

It’s obvious that Borkert’s design is not a copy, nor is it outrageous or flashy. It’s refined, subtle and a very mature rendering of the essence of its illustrious ancestor.

The new car retains a V12, is still incredibly fast (0-100km/h in 2.8 seconds!), and imposes itself on the landscape with a distinct personality. You KNOW this is a supercar.

According to the CEO of Automobili Lamborghini, Stephan Winkleman, only 112 cars will be made, and according to the PR BS wafting around The Quail, all are spoken for – despite the AUD$3 million pricetag.

Back in 2009 I was staying at the Monterey Plaza Hotel, and emerged one morning to see a gathering of Lamborghinis in Cannery Row, all headed for Concorso Italiano. I struck up a conversation with the owner of a beautiful (and beautifully-maintained) 'Rosso' Diablo - which he invited me to drive to the Concorso! It was quite the experience, but I have to say the 'Devil' was a handful in the Monterey traffic. I was happy we made it there in one piece.

But that was then, and as my recent drive in the Huracan EVO revealed, Lamborghini's on-road performance today is a very satisfactory revelation. I was amazed how supple and compliant the Huracan was in a suburban setting; so I'm betting the new Countach will be a spectacular ride.

So, will the Lamborghini Lovers embrace this spiritual successor to a car, almost as famous as the Miura? It really doesn’t matter, does it? If you can’t have one, you only have your personal opinion to grapple with.

As I wrote just a week ago, I am thrilled that the Lamborghini design lineage has been faithfully respected by Luc Donckerwolke, Fillipo Perini, and now Mitja Borkert.

If Ferrucio was haunting the halls at Sant’Agata Bolognese, I think he’d approve. In fact, I think he would be flattered and very impressed that his vision of challenging Ferrari back in 1963 has resulted in such a truthful rendition of his dreams.