Archive for the ‘Spotted’ Category

Spotted in Stanley - Tesla Roadster

I found it quite serendipitous when, after having read just this morning how Tesla were taking Top Gear to court on defamation charges regarding a review done on their roadster, I bump into one in person.  This was the first time that I had seen one, and to be honest I was a little stumped at first, until I got close enough to see the badge properly.

The Tesla Roadster is a battery electric vehicle sports car, produced by the electric car firm Tesla Motors in California.  Now, you may look at this car and think “Why, it’s a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive sports car.  How marvelous.”  Marvelous indeed, except in that it has a crucial element missing – that lovely internal combustive growl, but that’s just my opinion.  If you want to save the planet and look pretty while doing it, this car is a good thing.  As you peruse its Wikipedia page you can see a whole mound of interesting facts and figures that proclaim what a wonderful vehicle it is, and how far it can go.  Personally, I’d love the chance to get behind the wheel and see for myself how it performs.

I’m probably being archaic in my ways, so lets flip the chart for a bit.  It’s an electric vehicle, pioneering the lithium-ion battery cell’s abilities to power a sports car.  Which is damn good thing to be pioneering.  I’d rather be in a Tesla than a Prius any day, and what with new regulations constantly being passed, we have to be honest and look toward a future of alternatively fueled cars.  All in all, it’s a good thing to have people working away on something as important to our futures as the humble sports car.  I look forward to what the future, and Tesla, has in store for us.

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Across the way from my house you can find a Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit IV, and other than getting the odd clean every now and then, it doesn’t get touched.  What a travesty!  To have such a beautiful car standing across from you, just to watch the wheels go square.

The first version of this car was launched in 1980, with three versions having been released up until the Silver Seraph succeeded it in 1998.  The particular model that stands across the road was produced between 1994 and 1998.  An interesting pub fact is that the Silver Spirit was the first Rolls to feature the retractable Spirit of Ecstasy.

The Silver Spirit IV has a 6.75-litre Rolls-Royce V8 engine, coupled with a 4 speed automatic gearbox.  The car was based on the same floorplan as its predecessor, the Silver Shadow.  It managed a top speed of 243 km/h and had a combined fuel consumption (city and highway) of 18.4 litres/100km.

The badge on the back of the Rolls says Silver Dawn, which means that it was probably imported from the US at some point as the Rolls was sold as a Silver Dawn only on the American market.

I’m sure there’s more of a story there, and if given the chance I’ll confront the owner and ask why the poor thing doesn’t get to move at all…  A sad, sad state of affairs.

Porsche 911 GT3

Kung Hei Fat Choy!  Happy Lunar New Year!  Things have slowed down quite a bit on the blog, and I’ll admit that it’s purely because I’ve been too busy having a good time to sit down and get anything done.  Oh well.

This week’s Spotted in Hong Kong goes to the Porsche GT3, mostly because I saw it whilst heading off to get some much needed early morning food after a late night of welcoming in the Lunar New Year.  Being in the jovial mood I was in, and having a camera at the ready, it was more than natural for me to snap a few pictures of the car.

If I’m honest, I’m not a massive fan of Porsche.  Don’t get me wrong, they produce some remarkable stuff, but I’ve always felt that they’ve been too scared to venture too far away from the safety net that is the 911, hence the overwhelming tendency of each car to look like the next.

0 - 60mph in 5.5 seconds

The GT3 is different though, because I can find no fault in taking an already, very good car (the 911), and then tweaking it to make it that little bit better.  Every car manufacturer has done this at some point, and if they haven’t they really should start thinking about it.

Launched in 1999, the Porsche 911 GT3 is named after the FIA GT class that it was originally intended for, and as such sports a 3.8 litre naturally-aspirated six cylinder engine – based on what can be found in the Porsche 911 GT1 race cars.  The GT3 also utilizes a six-speed gearbox that helps to give the driver a true sense of racing ability.  The GT3 does 0 to 60mph in 5.5 seconds, and to 100mph in 13 seconds.  In short, the GT3 is a track car, and in a city like Hong Kong, I have to be honest, it could be a bit of a waste, unless you’re involved in some underground racing or have the time to drive out to the airport everyday.  Hong Kong’s streets are not very conducive to fast driving, but that won’t stop anyone from buying the most insane sports cars.  Awesome.

Rumours are flying around that a new GT3 is expected to make an appearance at some point, with a bigger engine.  Good news, good news indeed.  Until then, I give you the Porsche 911 GT3…  Like what you see?  Click on this link to see Richard Hammond of Top Gear take the GT3 for a spin…

Typical Hong Kong Taxi - Toyota Crown Comfort YXS10

Seeing as this is my first installment of Spotted, I thought it would be very fitting to pay tribute to the modest taxicab that runs around Hong Kong in abundance.  Although there are several models being used throughout the region, the most popular seems to be the Toyota Crown Comfort YXS10.

First released in 1995, the Toyota Comfort was designed for use as a taxicab in Japan.  The long wheelbase version of this car, the Toyota Crown Comfort, was then exported to Hong Kong in 2001.  The main difference between the two versions is that the Crown Comfort has an extra seat in the front, allowing the taxi to carry 5 passengers, excluding the driver.  The Crown Comfort also has automatic doors and a 4-speed automatic transmission, which only became standard in 2004.

All Hong Kong taxis ran on diesel fuel until the late 1990s, barring the 4-passenger taxis that ran on petrol.  In 1996, a few taxis were introduced that ran on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as part of the government’s test project for alternative fuels.  This experiment proved successful, and now all new taxis have been factory-built LPG since 1999.  Today, diesel taxis cannot be imported and it is actually illegal to drive a taxi running on diesel.

Red - All areas; Green - Parts of the New Territories; Blue - Southern Lantau Island

Taxis in Hong Kong operate in different areas, and as such are colour coded.  Red taxis have the highest fares, and they serve all areas of the New Territories, Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.  Green Taxis are the second most expensive and only serve parts of the New Territories.  Lastly, the blue taxis run exclusively on southern Lantau Island, the airport and Disneyland.  There are not many of these, as they only serve a small area.  Not familiar with Hong Kong regional geography?  Click here.

The history behind Hong Kong’s taxicabs is a long and interesting one, dating back to the 19th Century.  If you feel the need to educate yourself a bit further on the subject, click here.