Created with IMS Web Dwarf from Virtual Mechanics Inc.
Issue 18
5 - 18 April 2002
Almost as funny as Jennifer Lopez's hair at the Oscars

There were red faces at Volkswagen this week after another attempt to improve their consistently mediocre chassis tuning went hilariously wrong. Sources say VW bosses intended to hire respected ex-BMW and Porsche boffin Dr Ulrich Bez, now head of Aston Martin, to inject some much-needed spirit into their upcoming models. However, due to an amusing mix up the German giant actually ended up employing Bez, the dancing goon out of the Happy Mondays. "We were a bit surprised when he turned up to a design parameters meeting for the next Passat wagon," said one anonymous engineer. "Whilst we attempted to define the self levelling rear suspension requirements he insisted on freaky dancing around the studio shaking his maracas." Wolfsburg spies say worse was to come at a review session for the next generation Golf: "We attempted to show 'Dr' Bez the computer models for the new independent rear suspension," explained our source, "but he just danced around the CAD/CAM units and claimed the design was 'twisting his melon'. Now the workstation digital input pad has got sweat all over it." However, it's not all bad news for collegues of the hollow cheeked groove monster: "He's very generous with his little sweets," noted one senior engineer, before adding, "I love this company. I love you. Do you want a swig of my water, friend?"
This is not the first time a large German car maker has suffered a music-related mix-up. Several years ago BMW's attempts to lure Chris Bangle from Fiat were almost derailed after they inadvertently made a generous salary offer to 1980s all-girl pop foursome, The Bangles. "Yes, that was a close one," agreed a company source. "But the deal was off when we discovered that they had a stupid habit of doing nothing from Tuesday through Friday and then had to finish all their projects in a mad rush at the start of the next week. And then had the audacity to complain about it via the medium of song. Mind you," our Munich mole added, "perhaps they would have made a better job of the new 7-series."

No sooner has Ford announced an exclusive tie-up with Kylie Minogue to promote the StreetKa than rival Honda has stolen the lead by hiring Thora Hird to capture the attention of its own target audience. The redoubtable British actress, whose work includes old giffer's TV favourite Last of the Summer Wine, is already reknowned for promoting Stannah Stairlifts and probably some other coffin dodger staples like lemon curd, pickled beetroot and endless anecdotes about wartime hardship. Now she will be exclusively contracted to the Japanese manufacturer with the hope of injecting the brand with a bit of unsettlingly wrinkled sex appeal. "Thora is a perfect match for Honda," said a spokesman. "Just like Honda, she is friendly, reliable and, erm, nice." The veteran screen star was equally ebullient; "Eee, this is right exciting love," she said in her lovely warm Lancashire voice. "And remember, no salesman will call," she added, probably out of force of habit.

Motorists have been warned to expect a rise of up to 15 percent in the number of lame excuses trotted out by petrol companies to explain why fuel is suddenly more expensive. "Uncertainty in the Middle East is a great excuse for whacking another five pence on a gallon of unleaded," said industry analyst Peskee Kidds. "But that might not be enough to ensure that petrol companies can suddenly jack prices up practically overnight. Drivers should be prepared for a sudden rise in excuses such as 'We saw Yasser Arafat on the news last night and he looked a bit grumpy', 'We've got lots of oil still, but it's got bits in it' and 'Oooh dear, I think it might rain near our refinery tomorrow'."
However, the petrol industry can't take all the blame according to a government spokesperson. "Fair's fair," he said in an annoying voice. "We must take most of the blame for loading British fuel with practically the highest tax in the entire world. But," he continued, "at least we ring fence that fuel tax revenue and use it for an ongoing programme of road improvements whilst maintaining an exemplary public transport network to provide a genuine alternative to the car. Oh no, hang on -
do we fuck."

Another thing that takes the piss, yesterday
Bez surprises engineers by insisting that the anti-roll bar should be a 'loose fit' (above) and finds that the CATIA software 'twists his melon' (below)
Phwoar. Honda's sexy new pin-up poses
with one of their equally sexy cars
1. Turn dial four clicks to the left
2. Nudge dial forward
3. Turn dial three clicks to the right
4. Nudge dial forward twice
5. Tap six times on the dashboard
6. Turn around
7. Touch the ground
8. Bagsy not it

9. Nudge dial left and upwards whilst turning to the left
10. Do a little dance
11. Make a little love
12. Get down tonight
13. Recite the alphabet backwards
14. Turn the dial four clicks to the right again
15. Whistle dixie
RESULT: radio volume increases by one increment
A random command sequence from BMW's new iDrive system

When Channel 4 took on the job of broadcasting the World Rally Championship it promised some exciting new technology to make the coverage more exciting and innovative. Now boffins have revealed more about the sophisticated techniques they are using. "Viewers may have already noticed some of our tricks," chirped spokesman Obi Unit. "For example, you may have seen that when a car drives past one of our cameras, the camera can actually follow it, from left to right, or even right to left! We call this a 'pan'. And if a car is far away we can also get closer to it, without moving the camera itself! This is an exciting new feature called a 'zoom'. And," he continued slightly breathlessly, "if you've been impressed by how steady some of our shots have been, well that's thanks to a great new device called a 'tripod'."
But a 'tripod' isn't the only bit of unseen hardware that is making Channel 4's coverage of rally cars driving quickly around mountains and stuff so radically different. "That's right," agreed Unit, somewhat needlessly. "We realised that some people didn't want to see all the thrilling WRC action as it happened. No, they wanted to wait a few days until they'd already heard the results on an 'internet' or something. So, to enable us to do this we're pioneering a new way of capturing pictures in a little box. It's called 'tape'. I think it works with magnets. And magic."
However it works, one thing's for sure; with their 'pan', 'zoom', 'tripod' and 'tape' Channel 4 will always be able to pretend that their WRC coverage is 'exciting'.

The wrong sort of 'pan', yesterday
1969 Dodge Charger
Orange, numbers on doors, Confederate flag on roof, doors welded shut, hence �675
GMC van, black, red stripe up side, �500. Also, large jewellery-clad angry black man, ain't going on no plane fool, hence �45. Ageing cigar chewing commander, loves it when plan comes together, �55. Baseball cap wearing helicopter pilot, slightly howlin' mad, hence �35. Swoopy haired smoothy, �60. Or �175 the set, will include pointless journalist woman for free
Pontiac Trans Am, black, auto, air-con, forward facing brake light, turbo boost, ejector seats, indestructible. Irritatingly smartarse voice in dash, hence �250.

Stuntman for hire: Might fall from a tall building, roll brand new car etc. Never spent much time in school, but taught ladies plenty, hire my body out for pay, ahey, hey. Call 093 48382 439201

� 2002. Sniff Petrol every fortnight. Next issue 19 April
This week we like these people:
Jim Wood, MD, PSB, Poo
[email protected]
Tell me something I don't know: