Created with IMS Web Dwarf from Virtual Mechanics Inc.
Things are going from bad to frankly cack for beleaguered Lotus with news that the cash-strapped company is to hold a jumble sale. The sale, to be held next month in an unspecified location in Norfolk, is the sportscar maker's lamest attempt yet to raise a few quid. However, a Hethel spokesman denied they were getting desperate. 'This is perfectly normal,' he insisted, 'we've been thinking of getting rid of some of this clutter with a good old jumble sale. In fact, we might sell an entire rear section for an M100 Elan, so I suppose you could say it's a car boot sale!' he quipped, crappily.
The jumble sale could be just the tip of the iceberg, however. Having already ditched its Coventry engineering facility, rumours suggest Lotus may now have to sell its main base at Hethel near Norwich and move back in with its parents.
'I can't comment on that,' said their spokesman, 'but I will confirm that a feasibilty study has been conducted and we are satisfied that we could continue to build the Vauxhall VX220 in Dad's shed. Under such circumstances production rate would naturally slow, probably to around one car a month which means supply would continue to outstrip demand.'
Sniff Petrol called Colin Chapman in Brazil to get his reaction but he demanded to know how we got the number and then claimed to be dead, again.

A jumble sale, yesterday
There were angry scenes and an embarrassing revelation at a German launch party for the new Mini this week. Sources report that Mini Deutchland boss Helm K�se arrived at the function and, on sighting some people sitting near one of the cars on display, immediately became panicked. 'Get those dwarves away from my car' he screamed, before hiding behind a curtain. A fellow manager eventually pointed out that the 'dwarves' were in fact normal-sized people whose appearance had been rendered dwarfish by the distended, cartoon-like design details of BMW's new small car. 'Helm is scared of dwarves,' revealed a Munich insider, 'so his reaction was only natural, in a weird sort of way. I think he was bullied at school or something.'
This isn't the first time the Mini's 'looks big but isn't' styling has caused problems. At a UK dealer conference in May this year delegates were ushered into a car park as two examples of the new car were driven in to meet them. Despite the nearby presence of, amongst others, a 7-series, an X5, a 7.5 tonne curtain sided lorry and quite a big Portacabin, the Mini appeared, at a distance, bigger than all of them leading some delegates to wail 'It's going to crush us!' and run back inside, crying.
'This is becoming a bit of a problem,' said an anonymous BMW designer. 'For all our UK-made car projects we decided to work in a classically British mix of imperial and metric measurements to capture that elusive combination of inept working practise and low quality for which your motor industry is known. I think we may have got inches and centimetres muddled up.' Those living close to Land Rover's development centre in Warwickshire, where another BMW-developed vehicle, the new Range Rover, is undergoing final testing, have confirmed this theory. 'It's enormous,' confirmed local resident Clive Rancid, 'last week a pre-production prototype ran over my house.'

'It's so huuuuge' says this woman. Probably.
There were joyous scenes at Cadillac last week as the designers of the company's new mid-size model met for the first time, completely by chance. Deputy Executive Vice-Chairman of Vehicle System Quality Analysis Control Implementation, Betsy Krull had organised an informal drinks party to mark the retirement of Jim Titan, Cadillac's Senior Executive Junior President of Vehicle Electronic Component Verification and Assessment Division. Little did she realise the momentous occasion it was to become.
'I kinda went along to say goodbye to Jim,' said Chip Schnellhammer, Senior Vice-Assistant Vehicle Styling Manager, Rear Side Aperture Division, 'but then I got talking to this guy and he's like, "I just did the front doors on the new CTS" and I was like, "no way man, I did the back doors". You know, I kinda wish we'd met before now 'cuz we got on pretty good and, you know, we coulda teamed up to, like, try to make the door handles the same height and stuff.'

There was another revelation for Bud Finklestein, Executive Chief Rear Licence Plate & Trunk Adornment Design Systems Process Vice-Manager. 'I finally met the guy who did the trunk lid on the CTS and I was pretty blown away. He's a great guy but I was kinda embarrassed 'cuz I had no idea he was gunna make the trunk that size. You know, I was thinkin' of something bigger so I made the licence plate surround pretty big. I've given him my cellphone number so we can talk and, who knows, maybe next time we'll get things in proportion or something.'
Senior Rear Quarter Vehicle Design Conceptualisation and Realisation Vice-Assistant-Junior Product Manager (Upper Sector Division) Skip Weekleburger was less ebulient; 'I just hooked up with my opposite number from Lower Sector Division. He seemed pretty pissed that I put a crease in the D-pillar at the bottom of my design area 'cuz he'd gone and put one at the top of
his design area. Kinda looks a bit messy now I think about it, what with the other crease he's got on there. That's a whole heap o' creases. Perhaps the designers should, like, actually meet up next time.'
Cadillac's owners, GM, are clearly delighted with this impromptu meeting and are already planning more formal 'Design Process Dress Down Socialisation Scenarios'. 'The Caddy guys got on real good,' said a spokesman, 'so next week we're hoping to get the Corvette clutch and gearbox guys to talk to each other.'

CTS: Makes the new 7-series look well judged. Which it isn't
The Formula 1 season has only just come to a close and already rumours are growing that Mika Hakkinen's 2002 'sabbatical' is really the first year of his retirement. The speculation has been fuelled by news that the Finnish driver turned down the offer of a brand new Mercedes SL as an end of season present in favour of a book about gardening. Days after this news broke spies reported seeing Hakkinen in the Monaco branch of Marks & Spencer buying some vests and a pair of slippers. There are unconfirmed reports that the flicky haired racer then moved on to the food hall where he was seen looking longingly at some lemon curd and pickled beetroot. But the most disturbing reports come from fellow F1 driver Jarno Trulli.
'Mika and I were at a charity dinner near Silverstone last week,' the Jordan driver said, 'We left the building chatting normally and I spotted that Mika had borrowed a Mercedes S55 AMG whilst he was in the UK. I asked if it was good fun but he was more interested in the Honda Accord Type-R I was driving. He kept saying Hondas were "nice, economical cars" and then became very animated about a model he was thinking of buying. Apparently he had spotted it on a used car lot near London and he was describing it in great detail. I soon realised he was referring to the Honda Concerto saloon that was in production from 1989 until about 1995. Last I'd heard, he had bought this car. Heinz-Harald Frentzen claims he's even put a box of tissues and some sort of hat on the back shelf. I hope he's joking.'
A Mercedes insider has yet more worrying information: 'Mika returned his S55 to us last week, as arranged,' says our mole, 'The car was in our garage for a valet when one of the lads looked in the glove compartment and was shaken by what he discovered. Mika had been eating Werther's Originals�'

Hakkinen takes a break from pottering round the garden
Andrew Wankel's TOAD WAGE
So cars - what are they all about then?
Cars have four wheels and an engine, with seats inside for people to sit in.
Sound complex - are they?
Not really - they're very popular and an entire industry has grown up around them.
You mean people make a living out of them? Sounds good - explain a bit more.
Well, you could spend months and months designing them - but that takes real talent and creative effort. You could also try building them, but that takes hard graft and craftsmanship. You could always try selling them, although it's difficult without some training and it takes lots of natural flair. Or you could write about them.
Now you're talking my language - what would I have to do?
You could get away with blindly praising every car you've ever driven.
What happens if I haven't driven something?
Blindly praise it too.
Anything else I could do?
You could give obvious advice to people with genuine car-buying dilemmas.
That sounds like a brilliant job. I'll never have to work again.
Andrew Wankel was talking to various people who know more about cars than he does. Again.

Oh look, it's a Ferrari. That means it must be good. Erm, no. It's a big, crude old car with a massive engine, a wool-over-eyes trick that the prancing horse pulled several times before, and after, this dinosaur. Hey Enzo, perhaps if you'd taken your sunglasses off you'd have been able to see how crap your company's engineering was. The Daytona drives like a truck but, ooooh, it's got that badge on the front so it must be treated with something approaching blind reverence. Like I said: erm, no.
FERRARI 365GTB/4 DAYTONA (1968-74)
� 2001. Sniff Petrol every fortnight. Next issue 9 November

Thanks: Jim Wood, Poo, Sigma Computer Centre Ltd.
No thanks whatsoever: Hewlett Packard, the Windows operating system, computers generally
Thoughts, reflections, threats:
[email protected]
26 Oct - 8 Nov 2001
Swerving wildly across the information superhighway every fortnight
In this issue:



Five things that look smaller than the new Mini (but aren't)
1. Ford Focus
2. Mercedes E-class
3. 1959 Cadillac Eldorado
4. Magic Johnson
5. Shropshire