x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

The Week in Motoring: Mercedes seized decades after alleged theft

Plus: Volkswagen camper gets modern twist; Cadillac pioneers vibrating seats; Ford GT breaks standing mile record; and rally champ heads up Pikes Peak in Audi 25 years after record.

The rear takes less than a minute to extend and weighs just 130kg. Doubleback
The rear takes less than a minute to extend and weighs just 130kg. Doubleback

A Dutchman who brought his Dh13.8 million vintage Mercedes to Germany for a classic car show had it seized by police there - over a crime that allegedly took place more than 65 years ago.

Frans van Haren was alarmed to find that his car, a rare 1937 500 K Roadster, was taken while it was being shipped to Essen, Germany, for the Techno Classica car show.

Police made the move after a claim by a custodian acting in the name of the wealthy family of the first owner, German industrialist Hans Friedrich Prym, says Jalopnik.com.

It was thought Prym sold the car, of which only 392 were made and just 29 of those as roadsters, to an American soldier in 1945 but the custodian's claim states that it was, in fact, stolen.

When sold to van Haren in the US last year, it was noted that the car's "interim history is unknown at this time" and it still fetched a colossal amount, despite not reaching its US$4-5 million estimate.

The case will now be dealt with by the German courts, leaving van Haren to rue possibly the worst-ever overseas car catastrophe in automotive history.


Famous Volkswagen camper is given innovative, modern twist

The camper van of the future has arrived and it crams more space than you could ever imagine into a reasonably sized van.

Based on the Volkswagen Transporter T5 and following in VW's famous camper tradition, the Doubleback has an electric extendable compartment that adds almost two metres to the length of the vehicle - enough for a double bed. The roof space also has room for a double bed, so the rear area could be used for storage.

Developed by Craig McCormack over four years, the Doubleback's extendable section adds only 130kg to the vehicle's weight and it extends in less than 40 seconds.

"It was designed for the amateur and professional sportsman so they're able to keep their equipment in the back while still having a functional living area," says McCormack. "It's built really solidly - it can carry up to 400kg in the back when extended and it's the first true innovation of the VW camper space since the advent of the elevating roof over 30 years ago."

The Doubleback is being built in Wales, UK, and they cost Dh324,000. For more information visit www.doubleback.co.uk.


GM pioneers vibrating seats

Cadillac is employing a new safety technique to alert drivers of imminent crash threats - vibrating seats.

The Cadillac Safety Alert Seat generates vibrating pulse patterns on the left and/or right sides of the lower part of the seat to highlight potential hazards.

If you drift from a traffic lane or towards a nearby object while parking the sensors activate, or if there are threats from the front or rear, it triggers pulses.

"It's good to see automakers experimenting with new technology to help communicate to drivers when their driving is about to get them into trouble," says Adrian Lund, president of the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "We hope that drivers find it helpful."

The system works in tandem with other visual alerts, and research shows that it can quickly and accurately focus driver attention to the direction of potential dangers.

"It's akin to someone tapping on your shoulder in a crowd to get your attention," says GM safety expert Raymond Kiefer. "It provides an effective way to cut through the clutter of visual and auditory information that drivers routinely experience."

The technology will first appear in the upcoming Cadillac XTS luxury saloon.


Pumped-up Ford GT hits 414kph to break standing mile record

A heavily modified twin-turbo Ford GT has set a new standing mile world record by hitting an unbelievable 414kph in Texas, US, last month.

Tuned by Hennessey Performance and driven by Sean Kennedy, the 5.4L V8 can produce around 2,000hp - twice as much as a Bugatti Veyron.

The GT smashed the existing record of 402kph.

Kennedy had reached 321kph by the halfway mark of the attempt before peaking during the second half mile. But, amazingly, Kennedy thinks the GT can go even faster.

"I was impressed with how hard it pulled in fourth and fifth gears on that run," he explains. "I think I can do better in the lower gears next time and we can run an even better speed."

The team behind the record plans to attend another Texas Mile high-speed event in October with the intention of breaking the record once again by hitting 418kph.


Rally champ to scale Pikes Peak in Audi 25 years on from success

Rally legend Walter Röhrl is going to be reunited with his Audi Sport quattro S1 on the menacing bends of Pikes Peak, Colorado, US - 25 years after setting a blistering world record up the mountain.

It was July 11, 1987 when the two-time rally world champion scaled the 156-turn, 20km unpaved road in a staggering 10 minutes and 48 seconds in his 600hp S1. It was a milestone in the history of the oldest hill climb in the United States and also a milestone for Audi. Faster times were recorded later, but only after paving of the course, which was completed last year, had begun.

On July 8 this year, at the age of 65, the German driver will again step into the S1 on an exhibition drive to the mountain's 4,301m summit.

He won't be taking part in the annual hill climb event, which is also known as the Race to the Clouds, but his appearance and drive in the famous rally car will thrill spectators there on the day.