High Spec Brake Lining

July 2nd, 2012 by Tim Grimley

Let me start this week with a little history lesson regarding a rather archaic transportation method, the shooting brake. The name has its origins in the ‘brake’ wagons, which were carriage chassis’ attached to unruly equestrians in order to break them of their wild ways. With a body added capable of carrying a hunting party and its various accoutrements, the shooting brake was born.

With the arrival of the motor vehicle, the name was taken to describe a custom built luxury vehicle adapted to suit the requirements of gentlemen off on a shoot. Diversification of purposes also saw the terms ‘estate’ and ‘station wagon’ tags attached to the style, yet the original moniker has always maintained a certain mystique. Cars that are blessed with this title have sleeker styling, more exuberant performance and a certain je ne sais quoi when compared to the more common or garden mutt transporter.

Certainly a brake from the average

And because of this, Mercedes Benz has not unveiled the CLS Station Wagon this week, but rather the CLS Shooting Brake. The Herr’s and Frau’s in Stuttgart have clearly got it in their collective heads that what they have to offer is a cut above the mob of mere station wagons available on the market.

In fairness the CLS is quite a stunning car and one could easily picture it as a bespoke hunting vehicle, commissioned by a wealthy aristocrat who found the original CLS to be a little restrictive when it came to transporting beagles and a brace of 12 gauges. And with a range which includes the BlueEfficiency 250, capable of dropping under 4.5 litres per 100km, it means you can go away for the weekend safe in the knowledge that the only damage you’ll do to nature will involve lead shot and ducks.

The air suspension standardised across the range will also provide the reassurance that no matter what you throw in the back, the car will still drive like a Mercedes Benz. Although this is a little bit pointless, because no-one who ever gets around to buying a CLS would consider putting anything in the back and risk scuffing the cherry tree decking inlaid with smoked oak that lines the rear load area.

I have complained loudly and often about manufacturers who make a supposed utility vehicle and then line the bit where you put pets, sporting equipment and other items of muddy miscellany with cream carpet so thick you could lose a small child in it. While its all very well making sure the Jones’ know that you have not only kept up, but seriously overtaken them, doing so in a way that means you have to pull out the carpet steamer every time the bichon frise needs walking is plain idiocy.

Impressive aft deck.

But a wooden deck which wouldn’t look out of place on a Caribbean yacht takes things to a whole new level. It’s every bit as impractical as carpet, because the chance of scratching will limit use to people who regularly need to transport sizeable quantities of pillows, yet due to its complete ostentatiousness this really doesn’t matter.

There is absolutely no reason why anyone would choose to line a car with wood in the same way that no-one would choose to listen to a record over a CD, write a letter rather than send an e-mail or light a fire rather than turn on a heat pump. Some things should have been consigned to the scrapheap of history a long, long time ago and yet somehow they maintain a sense of occasion that will forever defy the changing demands of time and fashion. Much like the name ‘shooting brake’ really.

Mercedes have deliberately gone down the route of cocking a snook at technology in order to offer the discerning buyer a car with a unique point of difference; for that alone it earns its spot alongside the bespoke vehicles of gentry past. And should this latest panzer wagon eventually follow the tried and true Mercedes route of finding its way into the hands of AMG, the brake may once again have some seriously wild horses to tame.

The Age Of Resolution

January 2nd, 2012 by Tim Grimley

Not too many weeks ago, I caused much laughter and general hilarity around the office when I resolved that by the end of the summer season I would be the proud owner of a bronzed physique that would allow me to supplement my meagre income as a SBW double.

Being a slightly lardy Pom with flesh reminiscent of a bottle of Anchor, my colleagues’ comic disbelief was understandable. Not only did I have the inconvenience of an intensive sit-up regime and modification of my diet to match the calorific intake of a bulimic mouse to contend with, but also a fairly major raft of genetic inadequacies too.

However, with the foolhardy determination of one whose only previous association with the word ‘diet’ was as a prefix to ‘coke’ I set about my challenge with gusto. And without wanting to blow my own trumpet I made a fairly decent fist of it – thanks to a couple of sunny days at the beach my skin tone transformed to a weak beige and because I live in an area of North Shore where you need pitons to get up the average driveway, I shed a number of kilos through gentle exercise; things were looking good.

Sod the gym; let's all be more driven in 2012

Then, along came Christmas.

Thanks to well meaning but entirely misguided efforts at gift giving on behalf of my circle of friends, around 80% of my diet for the last seven days has been manufactured by Cadbury’s; with a similar proportion of my liquid intake coming courtesy of the good folk at the Tui brewery.

And because the weather has been changeable at best, my exercise regime has dwindled to become nothing more than lifting paint rollers during half-hearted efforts at renovating Grimley Towers. So because of this, in conjunction with my calorie intake ballooning to that of the average American, it’s no real surprise to find that the electronic scales now feel the need to remind me that they don’t take coach parties.

All of which has taught me a valuable lesson – making resolutions that require a) lots of physical effort and b) self deprivation of the almighty foaming ale is a really stupid idea.

But to find the silver lining in this particular cloudy vista, the 31st December is rather a good time to learn such a lesson. Because while the rest of the country will be crawling out of bed the following afternoon with a stinking hangover and the first gym payment looming, I’ll be on my way to putting a sizable chunk of my own resolution to bed.

At the crack of dawn (which is around 10am in my world) we – being myself, the current Mrs Grimley and a bag of acceptably clean underwear – are clambering into my sheddy Mercedes and chugging off in a Northerly direction. And unless the car decides otherwise, we are going to keep going all the way to Cape Reinga.

It can be all too easy for those of us whose working week and other commitments mean we often see little beyond our own home town or city to forget just how amazing New Zealand is. We know it’s pretty special and we know it’s out there, but somehow there’s never quite enough time to pop out and visit. Besides, we seem to get a lot of jealous karma from tourists just for being on the same landmass anyway.

But to take the place for granted in this manner is nigh on unforgivable; particularly when so many of these incredible places are at the end of some truly spectacular drives. And so, starting tomorrow, I resolve to get out there, drive the roads, see the sights and truly appreciate this astonishing country. I can only hope the Mercedes agrees.

And as soon as I get back I promise the sit-ups will start again.

Dung and Dunger

October 8th, 2011 by Tim Grimley

Due to it being what is known as a “slow news day”, my smoko break was reduced to checking out the horoscope section of a local newspaper, which declared that as a Scorpio, I must get out of the office in order to save my sanity. Like all right thinking individuals, I am aware that divining your future from the stars is an activity best reserved for individuals who have a vacuum where their brains would normally be, but as the sun was shining it was all the prodding I needed to take a jaunt to the big, yellow food emporium to get some shopping done.

Unlike cooking and DIY, shopping is an activity that is fairly equitably shared in our household and thanks to the fanatical devotion to list creation that the current Mrs Grimley has, the outcome is pretty similar no matter who is responsible for our weekly scavenges. I may occasionally become enticed by some canned exotica which will later become an integral part of one of my more imaginative culinary creations, but by and large we can both be relied on to return home with identically filled bags.

 

Luxury.

The only exception to this rule occurs in the weeks we need to replenish our supplies of toilet paper. Without wanting to get too far into the graphic details, I see no reason to splash excessive sums of money on a commodity which has the sole purpose of being briefly involved in the bottom-wiping process, before being dispatched on a one-way ticket down the grumper. The missus on the other hand, values the qualities of a more luxuriant bog roll and will therefore happily justify the expenditure on a product so thick that it borders on being a mattress.

Each option has its advantages – when I buy it we have a bit more money and on the weeks she does we don’t walk like victims of belt sander rape. Continue reading “Dung and Dunger” »

Merc-y For The Sick

June 2nd, 2011 by Tim Grimley

I’m dying. Despite the medical establishment insisting that my ailments amount to nothing more than a ‘cold’, it is abundantly clear that what I am currently suffering from is actually a new strain of exotic Asian pig-flu that – once it has finished with me – will go on to wipe out the entire human race. Possibly cockroaches too.

Doubtless there will be owners of a second ‘X’ chromosome reading this and rolling their eyes at yet another example of over-dramatised man flu, but rest assured girls; there’s no-one more disappointed about this than me. As someone who has always prided himself on being a particularly robust example of humanity, being laid low by illness is an unsightly dent on the otherwise gleaming bodywork of my ego. Whenever a cough, sneeze or other minor virus is doing the rounds, I generally find it harder to catch than a greasy weasel, leaving me free to look with scorn on the weakness of mere mortals and revelling in my own superhuman status.

I attribute the sharp decline in my immune system to a regime of ‘healthier living’ that has embedded itself in the head of my good lady. This generally involves going running even when the prevailing weather conditions would kill a penguin and shifting our diet towards the pureed remnants of each week’s vegetable shopping. All well and good if you happen to be a rabbit which has lost its dentures, but from harsh experience I can testify that skimping in this manner can end badly.

Prior to leaving the UK, my driveway was occupied by a large, silver, Mercedes E320. A genuine E-bay bargain at £700, my Teutonic leviathan had been cosseted by a single previous owner who treated it to warm garages, regular servicing and the finest high-octane unleaded that money could buy.

Yet despite this, the bloody thing couldn’t even make it over a speed bump. Thanks to someone whose experience of engineering began and ended with a calculator trimming the manufacturing budget, the front suspension cups of the W210 E-Class were essentially egg cups welded onto the inner wing. This lack of beef, previously taken for granted in big autobahnstormers, meant that the slightest fissure in the under body sealant would allow water in and the subsequent oxidisation to destroy the whole assembly. The end result of this was a sudden, dramatic, underpants-filling failure.

In my case this happened in the centre of a busy village in Leicestershire, which meant a lot of people could laugh at my expense; once, that is, they’d got over just how close my spring had come to decreasing the population of planet Earth by one old lady. To its credit, the E320 managed to drive home and did only cost me a bottle of whisky in bribery for a tame welder to get it back on the road again, but that is beside the point. The W210 was an object lesson to the motoring world that you get out exactly what you put in and the grey suit brigade should not be allowed within a million miles of the design department. Unless it’s to sign off expenses. Continue reading “Merc-y For The Sick” »

Ed Redfern drifting the Mercedes SLS AMG (+video)

September 7th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Take a look at this Mercedes AMG drifting video, featuring one of the companies top stunt drivers — Ed Redfern. The video provides us with just how easy it is to drift the new Mercedes SLS AMG (particularly when your drifting it on a wet track). Shot in black and white adds a splash of class to drifting — not to mention the classical music.

The Mercedes SLS AMG is powered with a 6.2 litre AMG engine creating 571 hp and 650 Nm of torque through to those stressed out rear wheels.

So, why wouldn’t it be easy to drift?

Mercedes developing 9-speed automatic transmission

July 21st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

According to a new report, Mercedes is upping the ante on its competitors and is developing a nine-speed automatic transmission.

That’s right nine speeds! Named the 9G-Tronic, the gearbox will offer improved fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions compared to the now dated seven-speed 7G-Tronic. It will be used on large displacement engines and could debut on the upcoming redesigned 2012 S-Class.

Mercedes thinks it’s on to a winner and apparently believes nine gears is the maximum number of ratios that are technically possible. More importantly, the German company thinks consumers won’t be willing to accept a ten-speed unit.

Mercedes has been here before with its 7G-Tronic gearbox which was the first seven-speed automatic transmission when it was introduced in 2003. In recent years, it has been outdone by the new 8-speed ZF transmission used by Audi and BMW.

David Coulthard takes the Mercedes SLS AMG E-Cell for a spin (+video)

July 6th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Mercedes has filmed and released a video of David Coulthard taking a spin in the new SLS AMG E-Cell electric vehicle.

The now retired Formula One driver seems genuinely surprised by the acceleration, calling it “instant, but smooth” and “way, way more than I expected.” The car certainly moves alright and handles a slalom impressively – thanks to its low center of gravity.

The E-Cell has a lithium-ion battery pack which provides power to four electric motors. Together the motors produce a combined 392 kW (526 bhp) and 880 Nm, enabling the SLS AMG E-Cell to accelerate from 0-100 kph in just 4.0 seconds.

Check out the video below it’s worth a look. Continue reading “David Coulthard takes the Mercedes SLS AMG E-Cell for a spin (+video)” »

Exotic Car Crashes

December 19th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Compilation of crashed exotic cars


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