Blogs: Catalytic converter theft

Along with copper spouting, the latest trendy thing to steal is catalytic converters. They’ve been around since 1975, but with the recent meteoric rise in precious metal prices, they’ve become a nugget of meltable wealth waiting to be pilfered from your pride and joy. Platinum, palladium and rhodium are the metals used, and check out these figures to see why suddenly it’s pretty valuable:

Platinum was US$700/oz 5 years ago, but you’d need to shell out US$1700/oz nowadays.

Palladium was US$200/oz 5 years ago, and it’s now about US$400/oz

Rhodium was US$300/oz 5 years ago. It’s now US$8400. Yes, over eight thousand dollars. That’s an increase of a bazillion percent.

There’s not a huge amount of metal in the converters themselves, but you don’t need that much to make for a tidy profit. The worst affected vehicles are those with a large ground clearance as it makes it easy for thieves to get underneath them and remove the cat.

How do you stop the thefts? Ford in the UK has launched an anti-theft initiative where it stamps a serial number on the shell of the catalytic converter. Other than that, you could try not parking in dodgy places, something that’s getting quite difficult.

Blogs: Catalytic converter theft

Along with copper spouting, the latest trendy thing to steal is catalytic converters. They’ve been around since 1975, but with the recent meteoric rise in precious metal prices, they’ve become a nugget of meltable wealth waiting to be pilfered from your pride and joy. Platinum, palladium and rhodium are the metals used, and check out these figures to see why suddenly it’s pretty valuable:

Platinum was US$700/oz 5 years ago, but you’d need to shell out US$1700/oz nowadays.

Palladium was US$200/oz 5 years ago, and it’s now about US$400/oz

Rhodium was US$300/oz 5 years ago. It’s now US$8400. Yes, over eight thousand dollars. That’s an increase of a bazillion percent.

There’s not a huge amount of metal in the converters themselves, but you don’t need that much to make for a tidy profit. The worst affected vehicles are those with a large ground clearance as it makes it easy for thieves to get underneath them and remove the cat.

How do you stop the thefts? Ford in the UK has launched an anti-theft initiative where it stamps a serial number on the shell of the catalytic converter. Other than that, you could try not parking in dodgy places, something that’s getting quite difficult.

News: 2009 Lexus IS250 appears

lexus-is250-2009-fq

With just mild updates expected to be revealed at the Paris Motor show in October, it’s more of a facelift, but a welcome one.

The IS250 is overdue for a revamp and this one will see a slightly revised front end, indicators in the side mirrors, L-shaped reversing lights integrated into a new rear cluster, and new alloys. Lexus isn’t one for radical changes, so you could be excused for looking at the photo and wondering whether it’s really just the old version.

There’s no official word on mechanical/electrical changes, but with the ever-increasing need for safety, you could speculate there will be changes to the electronic stability control and the slew of other driver aids on offer.

News: New Jeep Cherokee coming to New Zealand soon

jeep-cherokee-fq

Jeep has launched an all new Cherokee which will be available in New Zealand soon.

A new suspension and steering system help make the Cherokee more refined on the road, while on the inside, the Cherokee moves more upmarket with a leather interior, heated front memory seats, climate control, electric windows and cruise control all as standard.

A segment exclusive feature is the optional Sky Sliderâ„¢ full-open canvas roof.  Two and a half times the size of a regular sunroof, this powered roof can be operated while driving and gives all passengers a unique open-air driving experience.

Jeep hasn’t forgotten about the Cherokee’s legendary 4wd ability. The new Selec-Trac® II full-time four-wheel drive system is now standard across the range for the ultimate on and off-road driving experience.

Selec-Trac® II is a permanent, active on-demand system that helps anticipate and prevent wheel slip before it occurs, making it ideal for road driving and towing. Cherokee models with an automatic gearbox will also feature the new Hill Descent Control system which offers even more downhill control in low-traction conditions.

The Jeep Cherokee will be available in New Zealand quite soon we here at Car and SUV will be bringing you a full review later this month.

News: New Ford Ka to be revealed at Paris Motorshow

ford-ka-fq

The new Ford Ka will take centre-stage at the 2008 Paris Motor Show in October.

Twelve years after the original Ka was launched to great acclaim, its successor captures the same youthful and cheeky spirit. The new model retains all of the qualities which made the Ka so popular — its compact size, great looks, lively dynamics and fun personality — but presents them in a fresh new package.

Ford designers have given the new Ka a fashionable, modern appearance based around the company’s ‘kinetic design’ form language. A number of visual cues provide a connection to the original Ka, but with its distinctive face and chunky proportions the new model has its own unique character.

The interior of the new Ka also has a stylish, dynamic design, combining bold contrasts and expressive colours which reflect the more adventurous tastes of the typical Ka buyer.

The new model is destined to continue the considerable success of the original Ford Ka, which is widely considered to be an automotive design icon. Launched at the Paris Motor Show in 1996, the Ka was immediately praised for its exciting “New Edge” styling and class-leading driving dynamics.

Throughout its 12-year life the Ka has remained tremendously popular among small-car buyers, inspiring fierce loyalty from its owners. In total, Ka production has exceeded 1.4 million vehicles.

News: GM posts a US$15.5B loss for the second quarter

With Ford having recently posted its worst Q2 loss ever, it seems that GM is following suit with a $15.5B (NZ$21.3B) loss; nearly double the Ford loss.

Predictably, and as is the case with Ford, the General only has itself to blame for the loss with over production of large SUVs accounting for an overall drop in revenue by 18%. Add to this the cost to GM from striking workers and settlements thereof and the payouts to workers (around 24,000) who have been laid-off.

The future looks grim for GM, especially so since smaller models are still a ways off yet.

News: Majority of UK drivers want ‘green cars’

New figures out today reveal that almost three quarters (71 per cent) of British motorists would consider driving an electric car to help combat ‘green’ issues, according to research by esure car insurance.

Younger motorists are more likely to buy environmentally-friendly cars such as electric, hybrid or bio-fuel; a huge 81 per cent of under 25’s would contemplate driving an electric car.  This may be due to the associated lower costs of motoring – freedom from high petrol prices, road tax and congestion charges plus access to cut-price parking(2) — in addition to a general empathy towards environmental issues.

However, the over 55’s appear more set in their ways with a significantly lower number of those surveyed (66 per cent) considering to make such a change to their regular car buying decision-making.

According to the poll, 65 per cent of motorists questioned have changed their attitude towards driving because of the credit crunch and a general tightening of the nation’s purse strings.  Nearly one in five (17 per cent) are thinking about changing their car to one that is more fuel-efficient.  A further 14 per cent of those surveyed said they would consider making a change if the current level of inflation persisted and fuel prices continued to rocket.

FPV (Ford Performance Vehicles): FPV FG GT 2008 Review

fpv-fg-gt-fq

In 1797, John Hetherington caused a riot in the streets of London. Dogs barked, women fainted, and the crowd panicked, breaking the arm of an errand boy as they ran past, so reports stated. A court found Hetherington guilt of wearing “a tall structure having a shiny lustre calculated to frighten timid people” — a top hat. He was fined £50 — an enormous amount in those days.

FPV has a metaphorical ‘top hat’ of its own: the front of its FG Falcon-derived vehicles and their ‘eyes’. These days people aren’t shocked at anything, though, so there’s unlikely to be unconscious women and broken ulnas, just plenty of turning heads.

Fashion moved very slowly until the rise of TV and the internet. It took 53 years for the top hat to become fashionable; Prince Albert started wearing one and everyone wanted to be ‘like Al’. In the FPV GT’s case, Paul Stanley — vocalist for KISS — painted his trademark eye makeup in 1973. 35 years later it’s on the front of a car. Coincidence? I think not.

The styling of the front also displays a bulge in the bonnet (which strangely reminded me of the Alien trying to escape from John Hurt’s chest). It comes plastered with the Boss logo to let you know who the boss is. What resides within? It’s a 315kW quad-cam 5.4-litre V8 with enough torque to pull the teeth from a T-Rex. The dinosaur juice pedal gives an instant facelift as the back tyres scrabble for traction and the forward surge smooths away fine lines and wrinkles with a satisfying injection of g-force. Who needs botox?

The V8 tone of the GT is muted — like a slumbering bear; an HSV’s tone is aggressive, like the bear has woken up, ambled along to its favourite fishing spot and found you there in a pair of waders. For me, the HSV’s tone has the edge, but the HSV’s handling isn’t as sharp as the FPV’s.

It is significantly better than the previous GT — a result of 29,000 hours of work by the FPV team — and this is reflected in a more refined ride, better fuel economy, better sounding stereo, and a more intuitive user interface for the trip computer/audio system.

The increased fuel economy comes from a variety of factors including better volumetric efficiency and less friction. Drive it sensibly, and the six-speed auto ‘box will stay in a high gear as much as possible. We achieved around 14.5l/100km combined. But you can run the six-speed gearbox in sequential mode where it displays reasonably quick changes at your command.

FPV is demonstrably far more proud of this FG range of Falcons than previous versions. The only Ford badge you’ll find is on the steering wheel. On the outside an embossed chrome FPV badge sits just behind the wheel arch, there’s one cut out of the grille just above the front splitter, as well as in the centre of main grille, and at the back it sits centrally just above the boot release.

When you step inside the car, you’ll also be reminded by the Ford Performance Vehicles scuff plate on the door sill and the build plate on the dashboard. Brand overload? Not really.

The overload comes from the colours available to melt the retinas of those unfortunate to cast a glance in bright sunlight. The naval orange and lime green options are there to encourage you to squeeze every last drop of tangy goodness out of it while driving, assisted by livery that accentuates the aggressive stance, and a wing large enough to be used as a picnic table.

FPV chose well in the brakes department. The standard stoppers are large – 355 x 32mm cross-drilled ventilated front rotors with Brembo four-piston callipers and 328 x 26mm cross-drilled ventilated rear rotors with single piston calliper — and if you want more decelerative prowess, this can be upgraded to the premium package with Brembo six-piston callipers at the front and slightly larger 330 x 28mm cross drilled ventilated rear rotors with Brembo four-piston callipers.

Modifications to the suspension sees the FPV remain fairly flat and composed under heavy braking, though it does have the tendency to want to scrape that low front splitter if you try taking speed humps too quickly.

I quite like the GT — it grew on me during the week, and I didn’t want to give it back. I would definitely take FPV’s six-cylinder turbo F6 instead of it, but as a V8 option it turns heads, and challenges your own neck muscles.

It doesn’t have the brutal instant torque of the F6, which in some ways makes it slightly more driveable. Whereas the F6 would break traction at 80kph in the wet with its torque plateau, the GT swells up to a tsunami of torque as the revs build.

Hetherington may have caused a riot 200 years ago, but this FPV GT is a riot — a riot of fun.

Price: from $69,990

What we like

  • Styling — it’s bold and it works
  • Performance
  • Much improved screen for air conditioning and audio functions

What we don’t like

  • George Bush for causing high fuel prices
  • Starter button is annoying
  • V8 doesn’t sound grunty enough

FPV GT Specifications

ENGINE

Boss 315 – high performance

5.4 litre quad-cam 32 valve V8

Maximum power (DIN) – 315kW @ 6500rpm

Maximum torque (DIN) – 551Nm @ 4750rpm^

Fuel management system – sequential multipoint electronic fuel injection

FPV high-flow dual exhaust system

FPV blue rocker cover

FPV stainless steel fabricated exhaust manifolds

FUEL CONSUMPTION#

ADR81-01 (L/100km) – manual/automatic 14.2/14

Comparative CO2 emissions (grams/km) – manual/automatic 340/334 334 352/344

TRANSMISION & DRIVELINE

ZF 6-speed high-torque automatic transmission with Sequential Sports Shift: No-cost option

TR6060 6-speed Manual with leather and satin chrome gear knob

RIDE & HANDLING

FPV Performance independent double wishbone front suspension

Performance Control Blade Independent Rear Suspension (IRS)

FPV 19″ x 8.0 Alloy wheel fitted with 245/35ZR19 Dunlop Sport Maxx tyre

Matching alloy spare wheel

Locking wheel nut

Limited Slip Differential

PERFORMANCE BRAKES

355 x 32mm cross drilled ventilated front rotors with Brembo 4 piston calipers & 328 x 26mm cross drilled & ventilated rear rotors with single red piston caliper

PREMIUM BRAKES (optional)

355 x 32mm cross drilled ventilated front rotors with Brembo 6 piston calipers & 330 x 28mm cross drilled ventilated rear rotors with Brembo 4 piston calipers

INTERIOR

FPV build number badge with unique model identifier

Unique FPV Starter Button

Human Machine Interface (HMI) with Internal Command Centre (IC)

High series mixed mode colour screen

Blue dial illumination with white LCD and FPV welcome message on start up

Speedometer (260kph)

Tachometer (8000rpm)

Audible shift alert indicator – man only

CFC-free Air conditioning – dual zone

FPV floor mats (OPTION)

FPV scuff plates (front only)

Sports leather steering wheel with cruise control and audio switches

Memory adjustable pedals with alloy pedal covers

Adjustable pedals (automatic only) (OPTION)

Alloy pedal covers

SEATING

FPV sports seats

Silverstone cloth with Ebony Lux suede bolsters with GT logo embroidery

Nudo Leather with Miller suede bolsters with GT/Pursuit logo embroidery (OPTION)

4 way power driver’s seat

Adjustable driver’s and passenger’s seat lumbar support

AUDIO

Premium audio system with 7″ colour display and 6-disc in-dash CD with iPod® integration

Bluetooth® mobile phone integration

Auxilliary Audio plug-in (MP3 capability)

Satellite Navigation system

EXTERIOR STYLING

FPV oval badge on front grille & rear

FPV fender feature badge

Boss power bulge on hood

FPV stripe package (incl hood decal) (OPTION)

Boss hood decal (stand alone) (OPTION)

Side mirror turn indicators

Unique FPV dual exhaust

FPV high-wing rear spoiler with centre strut with LED stop light

Alpine Silver alloy wheels

Bumper accent detail – Dark or Mid Argent

SAFETY & SECURITY

Driver and front passenger airbags

Curtain airbags plus front seat side thorax airbags

Front seat side head/thorax airbags

Beltminderâ„¢ (front driver’s side only)

Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)

Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)

Traction Control System (TCS)

Reverse sensing system

Reverse parking camera (OPTION)

FPV ID Datadot identification

Alarm

^ Torque figure derived using 98 RON Premium Unleaded. # Figure obtained from tests conducted to ADR 81/01, provided to compare the fuel consumption of FPV vehicles with others. Actual fuel consumption may vary.

Words and photos Darren Cottingham