Created with IMS Web Dwarf from Virtual Mechanics Inc.

Professor Stephen Hawking, probably the cleverest man in the world, has slammed the DVLA's new number plate system as 'extremely confusing'. The new layout, introduced on 1 September, is meant to be more memorable and logical but even the bloke who wrote A Brief History Of Time has confessed that he can't understand it. "51 indicates the vehicle's age," noted the respected physicist, "but that makes no sense. Five? For September? It is clearly bollocks". The Dalek voiced brainbox is equally scathing about the area identifier letters at the start of each new plate. "Oh wow," he said, using a special sarcasm filter on his voice synthesizer, "an area tag. The existing plate system already had such a feature anyway. The DVLA have been a bunch of clueless idiots again." A spokesman for the DVLA was unrepentant; "I think Professor Hawking is over-simplifying. We've got a new font as well. Look! It's narrower." Sniff Petrol pointed out this feature to the famed academic but his computer had developed some sort of bug and he repeatedly screamed "I like monkeys" in a hysterical falsetto until his assistant came to reboot him.


MG-Rover's new sporting saloons have attracted glowing reviews from the motoring press for their handling prowess. But dealers and customers are less impressed with the baffling names the company has chosen for its latest models. "The Rover 25/45/75 relationship is easy to understand," says Marlin Tweedisides, Dealer Principle at Fluffy Rover in Bromsgrove, "but this Z-range thing is leading to unacceptable confusion." His claims are bourn out by MG customer Finistere Lung who received a nasty surprise when he collected his new car. "I ordered a ZR160 but when I went to pick it up I was very disappointed. Instead of yellow paintwork this vehicle was black. It was also much smaller than I expected and had a crappy touch sensitive keyboard. Turns out that the salesman had got mixed up and ordered a Sinclair ZX81 by mistake." Mr Lung is not the only customer to experience dealer misunderstanding. Solomon Partrub visited his local MG garage to enquire about the launch date for the exciting ZT Extreme model; "I must admit, I was confused to discover that this car would be launched on 10 October at the Cleveland Sportodrome, then again on 12 October at the Detroit Arena. In fact, there were over 20 different launch dates at different locations across the United States." said a disgruntled Mr Partrub, "It was only later that I unearthed the truth; the dealer had accidentally given me tour dates for ZZ Top." The MG name confusion has even hit top record producer Trevor Horn. "I returned from a month in the Caribbean and decided to call into the offices of my record label." said a clearly furious Mr Horn, "As soon as I arrived I knew something was up. The office was much smaller than I remembered and all the chairs were a different colour. I was about to call my assistant and demand to know where all the staff were when I realised what had happened. The cabby had got confused and instead of taking me to ZTT records, he had dropped me off at a ZT-T, the estate version of MG's new large sports saloon. I think they need to sort this stupid name thing out," the man behind Frankie Goes To Hollywood warned. "Mind you, good chassis tuning," he added.

Motoring organisations are warning of travel chaos in coming weeks after the Highways Agency admitted that it has lost a section of the M6. The stretch of motorway, just north of Stafford was last seen two weeks ago when workmen were trimming the verges and clearing the hard shoulder. Now Agency bosses are red faced after confessing that they don't know where it's gone. "We thought the missing bit of the M6 might have been over there, behind that hedge," said Highways Agency spokeswoman Lacier Rasp, "but it's not. We're hoping it might just turn up. You know, the way the kitchen scissors do when you lose them." The RAC is unimpressed with the handling of this embarrassing error. "This is going to be a right pain in the tads," muttered their Head of Traffic and Travel, Munty Flatwisp, "and it's not the first time the Highways Agency have done this. We all remember back in 1994 when they removed the A1(M) for cleaning only to put it back in the wrong place, some 70 miles to the right. Very handy for anyone wanting to drive through the North Sea but of tits-all use if you needed to get to Durham, for example." The Highways Agency remain optimistic, however. "I'm sure we'll find it somewhere," said their spokeswoman, "we've got someone looking down the back of the fridge as we speak."

the lost bit of the M6, as seen from a map

ZZ Top:
not even close

The successful Ferrari F1 team has been plunged into crisis following a dispute between its drivers. The conflict is believed to have started during a short tyre testing session at the team's Marenello HQ. Sources say Barrichello approached new world champion Schumacher and asked if he was prepared to help the Brazilian driver maximise his points potential for the rest of the 2001 season. "Of course I will help you," replied a grinning Schumacher before splaying his fingers and drumming them sarcastically over his mouth, like Zippy off popular 1980s children's TV show Rainbow. "Ahhhh," continued the German racer, "would ickle Rubens like some helpy-welpy with his championship runner-up chancy-wancies?" Witnesses say Schumacher's sarcastic tirade caused the pocket-sized South American to burst into tears before running to the toilets and refusing to come out. Team boss Jean Todt was eventually forced to cancel the testing session and had to ring Barrichello's mum to come and collect him.

STOP PRESS: Michael Schumacher's sarcastic salvo continues apace as spies report that he may complete the rest of the 2001 season on a child's tricycle rather than in a proper F1 car. "Michael has won the championship, and Ferrari have the manufacturer's title, so he's looking forward to royally taking the piss for the rest of the year," said one source. "His physical fitness is excellent so we think he'll be able to set competitive qualifying times on a small tricycle. Even during the race he should stand a chance. And using a kid's toy to get off the grid, he'll still make better starts than Coulthard."

Barrichello: cry baby
Schumacher: sarky

No. 2: MGB (1962-1980)

Rah rah rah, cloths caps, well stoked pipes and regular meets in the backroom of the Badger & Snotrag. Can you imagine anything more awful than an MG Owners Club meeting? Well yes. What about actually driving an MGB. You know an old car is rubbish if it was dated when it appeared and by golly the B was. In fact it was based on that titan of cack technology, the Austin Cambridge. And do you know which other vehicle was spun off the Cambridge platform? The Leyland Sherpa. That's right; a van. Explains a lot about the MGB's dynamic abilities. But not why so many people like these unspeakable crocks of woolly nostalgia. And just think; for the price of that anal and pointless restoration you could have bought an MX5 by now. Doh!
� 2001. Sniff Petrol every other Friday. Next edition 14 September
Thanks this issue:
John R, New Order, Kettle Chips.

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In this issue:

Hawking talking

MG mix-up

Motorway missing

Schuey sarky

MGB retro