Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Cars – Generations

Just a bit of a coincidence, spotted while wandering around Glasgow.

Think of it as a ‘Compare and Contrast’, just for fun. You could try doing it seriously, but the cars aren’t really from the same family, so I think you’d end up with a sore head if you did.

More interesting is the styling within each family.

While the BMW 3-series has moved far from its origins, and gained the general ‘jelly-mould’ characteristics of most popular/volume cars – and got bigger and fatter (the 3 is now the same size as the 5, when they were introduced), the Charger (and a number of similar ‘muscle’ cars) has retained its overall profile, changing mainly to make necessary concessions to legislation, and revisions to construction (so these cars can do more than go in a straight line along endless American highways).

But this is really just about the appearance, after more than 5 decades.

While somebody from around the 1960s or so might recognise the Charger after a moment’s study, I doubt (if the trademark kidney grille and propeller badge wasn’t visible) they’d be able to place the 3, even if given extra thinking time.

Click for bigger.

BMW Dodge Generations

BMW Dodge Generations

In fact, this reminds of one of the easiest ways to recognise and original car from that earlier era.

Even concept and super cars of the day had one (or two) major defect that gives them away in pics, and makes it easy to spot originals vs modern reconstructions.

The chassis was often embarrassingly narrow, causing the wheels/tyres to be buried deep in the wheel wells. It’s a wonder they stayed on the road at speed, something that didn’t really change until the Countach arrived with its huge wheels and tyres, sadly now almost commonplace on’ Chelsea Tractors’. It’s no surprise there were cases of wheels breaking off hubs and axles during the 1970s, when cheap customisers added crazy wide spacers to make wheel arches look ‘full’ and cars look wider.

The second thing?


Back then (except in America, and on the E-Type), they often looked as if they were hung under the car by the apprentice, as a forgotten afterthought.

05/09/2019 Posted by | photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Do people really need to be TOLD not to…

Leave their cars idling in the street?

Well, yes, it seems that some are so thick they DO need to be told…

Police are warning motorists to take care when defrosting cars on cold winter mornings.

Officers say they have received numerous reports of attempted thefts of vehicles which have been left running to defrost.

They are reminding drivers to be vigilant and are urging them never to leave cars unattended.

A Police Scotland statement reads: “Opportunist thieves operate in residential areas on frosty mornings looking for cars left unattended with the engine running. It takes a matter of seconds for someone to jump in and drive off.

Drivers warned about leaving cars to defrost after rise in attempted thefts

I find it hard to believe, but as I walk most place now, can confirm the shocking number of cars I pass which are left idling in the street, with no driver nearby, or even in sight sometimes.

I’m pretty sure not many of them (more likely none) are fitted with systems that allow the key to be removed to allow ‘warm up’, and will kill the engine if any of the controls are operated before the key is inserted.

That said, I do remember reading of one Mercedes owner who WAS fined for this some years ago even though his car was secured by an automatic system so it could not be entered or driven. A passing police officer noticed the exhaust, and would not accept that the car was secure/undrivable, and issued a £30 fixed penalty notice when the owner/driver refused to accept that his car was not secure and had been left that way in the street with the engine running.

I wonder what he would have done with one of my cars, fitted with a fuel powered heater that would start on a timer, and have the car nice and toasty warm for you. It had an exhaust! But the car engine wasn’t needed.

It’s got to be on a stupidity par with the folk I see pull up at the kerb and jump out of their car and run into shops, leaving the engine running. On the other hand, I’ve yet to see any of them lose their car as some passing opportunist jumps in as soon as they get into the shop, and drives their car away.

I’ve always thought about trying it, but I’d prefer not to face the consequences.

Anyway, this pic made me laugh, supposedly and example.

Frosty Car Theft

Frosty Car Theft

Clearly NOT a frosty morning, look at the rest of the cars in the pic!

Manchester police did a bit better…

Operation Frosty Ice Bandits

Operation Frosty Ice Bandits

I do like the ‘Ice Bandits’ reference.

Then there’s the law

What surprises me is the fact that this story has advice from the police, but fails to mention that it is an offence to leave a vehicle with the engine running while unattended.

Stationary idling is an offence under section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

The Act enforces rule 123 of the Highway Code, which states: “You must not leave a vehicle’s engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road.”

Doing this can incur a fixed-penalty fine under the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) Regulations 2002. Doubled if unpaid within a given time frame.

I also note that a driver who left a car parked on the road unattended, running, with the keys in the ignition was committing an offence of ‘quitting’.

The offence is against S42 of the RTA 1988.

This section deals with Construction & Use offences.

Quitting is dealt with by Regulation 107(1) of The Road Vehicles (Constriction and Use) Regulation 1986 (SI 1986/1078 ).

And let’s  not forget Glasgow’s by-law on idling, which will get you a fine even if you are in the vehicle and doing so unnecessarily.

I’ve noted that the council’s own web site has (or had) a section that gave the number of such fines issued, so it does happen.

No Idling

No Idling


It took them TEN DAYS, but at least one of our local media sources eventually picked up on this warning.

Having to de-ice your car during the cold winter months is a massive bugbear for many motorists.

It’s usually the same routine, you wake up in the morning and realise your windscreen is thick with ice. So you pop the engine on, turn up the heating full blast and head back into the house while your vehicle defrosts.

It’s a common thing to do, but not many people know that it’s actually illegal.

Leaving your car unattended is against the law as drivers are expected to always be in control of their car while the engine is running, even when defrosting, reports Plymouth Live.

A police spokesman explained: “Anyone who needs to defrost their vehicle must ensure they stay with it and don’t leave it unattended with the keys inside.

“Leaving the engine running to ‘warm up’ during the winter months not only risks having the vehicle stolen, it’s against the law.

“Don’t make it easy for opportunist thieves because they don’t even have to go to the trouble of breaking into your vehicle if you have left it running for them.

“Insurance companies may not pay out if a vehicle is stolen in this way.”

Police have reported a rise in ‘frosting’ in recent years, which means having your car stolen when you leave the keys in the ignition to heat it up.

Here’s why it’s illegal if you leave your car running to defrost

I’m tempted to suggest that people would be more inclined to pay attention to the fact that far from “may not pay out”, their insurers will not pay out if they are daft enough to leave their cars unattended with the keys in (as against this being illegal).

But, nowadays they’re probably not likely to bother, as they’ll probably be happy to go whining to the media, or onto social media, and complain about their ‘useless insurers making up a reason not to pay out’ on their claim.

09/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

More disappointment – there goes another skill

I’m sometimes surprised by the general lack of awareness regarding the ownership of some well-known car marques, but then again, the changes over the years have probably also left many people, who are not really interested, behind.

For example, as of today, little old Volkswagen, almost wiped out by World War II, recently held the title of world’s largest automaker by sales, is (at the moment) now Volkswagen Group, and sells passenger cars under the Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT, Škoda and Volkswagen marques; motorcycles under the Ducati brand; and commercial vehicles under the marques MAN, Scania, and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

While some of those marques maintain almost autonomous operation, sharing of resources (and I’m now making a wider reference, not only to the given examples) means a blurring of some once unique characteristics.

For example, I used to be able to make a reasonably accurate guess at what kind of car was about to pass me in the street, just by listening to the engine/exhaust. Fat chance of succeeding with that today (unless it’s maybe a BMW – but even their move away from their inline 6-cylinder engine has ruined that), as many marques within a group share parts and development.

Another aspect of this group mentality has seen many specialised components being outsourced. Rather than manufacture their own parts, a group will sub-contract the manufacture, such as with electrical or electronic parts. This brings a number of advantages, avoiding the need to have their own manufacturing facilities for the many special processes needed, and having parts delivered just-in-time reduces the amount of inventory, and space needed for it.

It has downsides too. While the electronic suppliers may develop clever security systems, because the core components are shared across the industry, criminals only have to hack ONE system to gain access to many marques. If each car maker had a proprietary and unique security system, life would be a lot harder for the thieves.

I come across quite a few roadside remains after collisions, which can leave a lot of remains from the car involved scattered around, as per this pic.

Cambuslang Crash Remains

Cambuslang Crash Remains

This used to provide an amusing distraction for a few minutes, trying to identify the make/model of the car involved.

But over the years, this game has become almost impossible, unless there’s a handy bit of identifiable bodywork left behind.

It used to be possible to piece together labels on parts too, which once carried the manufacturer’s name/logo.

That doesn’t work any more – most parts have the info, but related to the part maker, not the car maker.

Headlamp ‘glass’ (no longer glass of course, but ‘water clear’ plastic) and various lenses used to help too, but these are now smooth and featureless (as with many body panels now), so yet another clue has evaporated. Headlamps are often no longer headlamps, but complete assemblies incorporating ALL the vehicle’s lighting for each corner.

I once found a complete headlamp unit (missing only one mounting lug) – to this day I have NEVER seen a matching unit on a car. The stickers gave no human readable info, and there were no logos or other marks anywhere on the mouldings.

Even knowing distinctive features helps little, as CADCAM has made it relatively cheap and easy for parts to be changed frequently.

It must be tough to be a forensic examiner, and new clues have to be found in order to make accurate identifications from parts found at the scene of an incident.

26/06/2018 Posted by | photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Chance landing in Uddingston

It’s a while since I fell into Uddingston, parts of the walk are dirty and too close to fast traffic, so although the ending is good, the experience can be poor.

But it almost always pays off, with nice cars and interesting registrations (the place is a little millionaire’s haven).

I should try to visit more often, there can sometimes be nice classics lying around the streets.

While there were quite a few (new) Bentley GTs floating around, they were all passing too quickly to catch, but I did notice there seemed to be a new trend in ‘V10’ plates on one of them (and others that weren’t Bentleys) I hadn’t noticed before. I wonder what/who it refers to (note the GT has a W12 engine, so it’s not that).

I’m tempted to say some there are so affluent, they can have a car loader follow them with their garage, so they can choose/change their ride without having to go back home to the collection.

Porsche, Mercedes, BMW (plus the rest behind them), take your pick.

2010 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S PDK

2010 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S PDK

I couldn’t pass this plate without grabbing a pic – nonsense, but nice nonsense.

2015 Audi A1 [OO11 ROD]

2015 Audi A1 [OO11 ROD]

I’ve always liked this, ever since the ‘Pagoda’ appeared so long ago.

I think I’d rather see the tail straighter though (where the little lip spoiler sits), rather than curved. It might look ‘meaner’.

2014 Mercedes SL350 [750 AC]

2014 Mercedes SL350 [750 AC]

Don’t know if I should be worried though – I’ve never seen this particular one before, then, as I arrived home…

What goes sailing past me in the road?

Yup – 750 AC!

17/05/2018 Posted by | photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Couple of interesting items spotted last night

Spotted a notice stuck to the windscreen of a car I’ve been passing fairly regularly.

It looks fine from the outside, but the tyres on the driver’s side have been flat since the first day I noticed it, and I started watching to see when they were inflated – never happened.

Now it’s got a TWENTY FOUR HOURS notice of removal and destruction if the owner doesn’t move it.

Glasgow Council Vehicle Disposal Notice

Glasgow Council Vehicle Disposal Notice

While I don’t dispute the  availability of this action in the case of abandoned or derelict vehicles, I’ve never been able to concede the authority of the council to carry out this action in cases where it fails to identify the owner, and either proceed with the destruction as a result of their failure, or for them to charge the owner for their ‘service’ in taking the car and storing it.

They get it wrong, yet it’s the owner who had to pay.

The owner could have taken ill, been in hospital, or simply left their car parked on the public road while they were away on holiday.

There’s also a rather sad footnote on the notice.

Now that the media has carried a number of articles (particularly in recent weeks) which have confirmed that the Commonwealth Games had no lasting health benefits, or got more people to take part in sports (bursting the bubble of certain claims made to justify having the silliness in Glasgow), it’s so sad to see “Glasgow – Proud Host City of the 2014 Commonwealth GamesSTILL being touted on council paperwork.

It’s 2018 – four years have come and gone since this nonsense took place – get over it!

Rare Ford spotted

After seeing the above notice, the new route I was trying out carried me to a seldom walked dead-end street, closed to cars but passable through a lane at its far end.

In fact, it’s more of an access road for a school and a business centre, with residents’ parking along the sides.

Parked there was a 2000 Ford Cougar 2.5 24V – not something seen every day.

Not one I got my hands on. When I tried (when it was new), the hire companies said they just couldn’t get them.

2000 Ford Cougar 2.5 24V

2000 Ford Cougar 2.5 24V

I mention spotting this one at the same time as the notice above since it might be at risk of the same.

They tyres are low (see the rear one) and despite appearing clean in the pic, it has the patina of being left outdoors and not moved or washed for some time, and this is particularly noticeable on the rear.

I am only guessing of course, from what I can see on the outside, but it would be a shame if the council was trawling the area for catches, and this gets lifted.

29/04/2018 Posted by | council | , , | Leave a comment

Neeb’s wheels 6

A slightly different Neeb’s wheels observation this time, in fact, no pictures at all.

Since I am going to be somewhat negative, and this really is a neighbour, I don’t want risk upsetting anyone.

Prior to the set of wheels I am actually going to comment on, the relevant driveway was occupied by one of the latest BMW 6 series offerings. While this was nice, it was also very anonymous. Black usually brings out a car and make it sleek, but this one was very plain for some reason I never figured out. I’ve seen others, and they were more eye-catching. But this one just seemed to be missing ‘something’. Don’t read that wrong, it looks very nice, but there’s just something missing.

BMW 6 4 door

Maybe the problem was the body, being a 4-door (which is not a real coupé) or because it wasn’t a convertible.

However, the problem went away, but was to be replaced by something even worse – a white BMW 5GT.

Seriously, I never thought I’d say it, that a BMW was verging on the ugly, but if ever there was one, 5GT would be it.

I’d never seen one in the metal prior to this one arriving recently, but had seen plenty of pics, and followed its release and arrival in China, so I thought I knew the shape, and what to expect.


Usually, iffy car shapes look worse in flat 2D photographs that fail to show of the body lines the designer places to emphasise the shape, but can spring into life when you see them in the metal, and the full 3D effect reveals the intended line as envisaged by the designer.

The 5GT reverses this principle and looks a whole lot better in its pics than it does in person, on the road and physically sitting in front of the observer.

The X5 may be a large shed of a 4×4 or SUV- but it’s an elegant shed that manages to remain pleasing to the eye, and commands ‘presence’.

The 5GT… seriously, just has dreadful proportions, and it’s hard to see why someone would replace a nice 4-door 6 series with one of these lumps.

For once, I’m glad to say I’m not alone in this, as the following review reveals:

I’m not alone, as a review from across the pond summed things up by saying:

Honestly, I can think of few recent cars as reviled as the 5-Series GT. Instead of giving us Americans the vaunted 5-Series Touring wagon, BMW brought us this bloated minivan-hatchback thing. Why do they hate us so much?

Okay, so it’s goofy-looking. But is it all bad? Totally not, says John Davis, even if calls it “lumpy” at one point. This MotorWeek clip (the one above) from a few years ago finds it to be a spacious, well-equipped, solid handling and relatively quick luxury machine.

In essence, it’s a real 5-Series. Just not a pretty one.

Pity they didn’t leave them all in the US, and just left us all the Touring Wagons. I now have to look at the white thing until my neeb’s lease it up (24 or even 36 months), or he gets out of it (hopefully for something better.)

15/08/2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Did pro-cycling groups report this Russian father for child cruelty

Well, maybe they did, maybe they didn’t, but it wouldn’t have surprised me in the least if pro-cycling activists had used the following video as evidence in some sort of action against the father of this great little girl, who is starting her education in the best way possible.

But he’ll have to start the advanced classes soon… and take her to the areas of Russia where super and hypercars are more common. Their shapes and badges can be much more abstract, and harder to tie down.


19/07/2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Desire the Jaguar F-Type

Jaguar has been out making little films, and the result isn’t all bad.

There are some nice plot twists, even if you can tell they are coming.

I preferred the earlier Hush advert for the XF (I thought I had mentioned it earlier, but can’t find the post now since the video of the ad has been taken down), but will let this one go, as it does include some angles of the car that show Jaguar paid homage to the E-Type when creating the shape of the F.

Nice car…

But the depreciation on Jags is still horrendous.

There’s a car dealer at the end of my street, and he specialises in up-market brands – all I can say is that if I wasn’t smart enough to know the running costs of a such a car when you have to go to the dealer, I would be thinking of snapping one up as bargain to impress the neighbours with.

But just for fun:

24/04/2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Neeb’s wheels 2

Something a bit special to start the month, and a good reason never to forget to keep an eye open behind your net curtains – you never know what you will pass before your eyes.

Not noticed before, a shiny red Ferrari 458 Italia – and parked hard against the nose of another car.

The owner clearly puts no faith in the reports telling of the 458’s tendency to burst into flames at slightest provocation.

Although I wouldn’t reveal individual details, I would like to have been able to see the registration, and identify the exact model, as there might have been an interesting variation to mention regarding the build, but no such luck.

Ferrari 458

Ferrari 458 Italia

The Ferrari 458 Italia replaced the Ferrari 430, and represented a new design based on the company’s Formula 1 development experience.

Production started in 2009, with a fast ‘Challenge’ edition produced in 2010, and a Spider in 2011. But the convertible loses 4 mph, so only reaches 198 mph instead of the standard 202 mph.

Power comes from a 4.5 litre (270 cu in) V8 engine derived from a shared Ferrari/Maserati design which produces 570 PS (419 kW; 562 hp) at 9,000 rpm (redline) and 540 Nm (398 ft lb) at 6,000 rpm with 80% of that torque available at 3,250 rpm.

I wasn’t kidding about the fire risk, with at least ten of the cars catching fire in the first 3 months of release. Ferrari investigated and identified a problem with the adhesive used in the wheel-arch assemblies. Under certain conditions, it was possible for this to become overheated, smoke, and even catch fire. This could (in extreme cases) cause the heat shield to deform and move closer to the exhaust, potentially resulting in a wheel arch fire, Any owners who had reported such fires that were later independently confirmed to be caused by this problem received new cars. Ferrari recalled more than 1,200 car on September 1, 2010, and replaced the adhesive fixing with a mechanical fastening.

See this sad gallery, courtesy of the BBC: In pictures: Ferrari 458s on fire

However, it seems the 458’s woes where not quite over, and in 2012 Ferrari recalled a number of 2011 and 2012 cars after discovering that a number of the F136 engines contained crankshafts which had been machined incorrectly, potentially resulting in the engine freezing  suddenly, and potentially causing a crash. (Owners could pretend it was like the Hubble Space Telescope, since the problem was down to an incorrect setting on the machine that ground the cranks. Owners (apparently 72 affected) were offered the option of having a new engine installed by their dealer, having the engine removed and the work done by Ferrari North America, or having a new crankshaft and bearings installed at the dealer. Working engines get the car to 60 in around 3.3 seconds, and return 14 mpg.

The road car went on to win a number of awards from the trade and various magazines: Car of the Year 2009;  Supercar of the Year; Cabrio of the Year 2011, and Best Driver’s Car 2011.

The car was also modified for use on the track.

The whole rear can be seen in this rather poor shot of a Ferrari collection hidden in a gloomy underground garage, although this actually a Spider:

Ferrari 458 spider

01/04/2013 Posted by | photography | , , | Leave a comment

Neeb’s wheels 1

I’m sometimes almost lucky when it comes to ogling my neighbour’s cars, and I say ‘almost’ simply because I don’t know most of them (not like the old days of the Glasgow tenement, when everyone up the ‘close’ knew everyone else… and all their ‘business’ too), which means the chances of getting a positive response to “Can I have a run around the block please mister?” are slim to nil, or less.

In the past, I’ve missed out on catching pics of a quite a few interesting rides arriving nearby, and the most recent ones have been a Lamborghini Diablo (bigger in the flesh than it looks in most pics), and a Lamborghini Gallardo.

Most of the problems that cause ‘lost’ pics are down to carrying either bridge or compact cameras, and while these may be convenient… fast, they definitely are not. The reality is far from the sales pitch, where you may be promised ultra fast turn-on times of 1 second, so they are ready to shoot as soon as you turn them on and get them to your eye. While the words are true, the powered zoom and autofocus will conspire to add many more seconds to that supposedly almost ‘instant on’.

I’ve given up on these types when out hunting for subjects in the wild, and now shoot with a dSLR and vibration reducing lenses (even for wide-angle shots). Coupled with a first-rate autofocus that can decide for itself to work in single-shot or tracking mode, the dSLR is always on, and ready to shoot, needing only a twist of the zoom ring to catch a subject at any given distance in its range.

They’ll probably all hide their cars away now, and I won’t see any worth catching, but I did manage to collect one I missed the other day, thank to taking a convoluted route that leads to a park that eventually leads to a short-cut to home.

A 2006 6-litre Bentley Continental Flying Spur A. Makes a nice change from the almost common Bentley Continental GT.

Bentley Continental Flying Spur A

2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur A

Sad to say this model seems to come in for a lot of criticism, often dismissed as modified Continental GT rather than a model in its own right, with some so unkind kind as to say it is only a GT with two extra doors stuck on.

I think that’s a shame, but the criticism has been addressed by Bentley, which is now launching the 2014 (or is it 2013?) Bentley Flying Spur, which they say has been fully designed as a new car and not simply modified from the GT. In order to distance it further from the old criticism, they have also dropped the word ‘Continental’ from the name, so it does not even share that tie with its predecessor.

You can compare it with the New Flying Spur, which I am told made its début in Shanghai, below, and I guess is true given the appearance of the staff:

New Flying Spur

New Flying Spur debuts at Shanghai Auto Show

Pre-launch promos:

08/03/2013 Posted by | photography | , , | Leave a comment

Race the Runway event success

Red LamborghiniAlthough it was a closed event and not open to public access, the BBC reports that the Race the Runway event we highlighted recently was a success, with 48 participants each paying £250 for the opportunity to race their supercars along the secondary runway at Edinburgh Airport, with invited guests bringing in a further £50 a head. Cars such as Lamborghinis, Porsches, Ferraris, Aston Martins and others were brought to the event, during which the airport continued to operate as normal.

Proceeds from the day will go to St Columba’s Hospice in Edinburgh and the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow.

Together with the runway activity, the day also provided an opportunity for the drivers to undertake a fire simulation exercise, and visit air traffic control.

It will certainly have made a change from the usual sort of track day that takes place on normal race tracks such as Knockhill, as I’m led to believe (since modern, active, commercial airport runways are one place I haven’t managed to get onto) that by comparison with such tracks, runways can be much smoother. One thing is certain, as anyone who’s been round Knockhill will vouch for, they’re certainly flatter!

25/09/2009 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

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