x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Two honours for Vespa scooter creator Corradino D'Ascanio

"Blingmobile" on market for Dh40m, Honda reveals new NSX, woman caught speeding 1,500 times in just weeks, and GM could see more carbon fibre in vehicles through new partnership.

The car is covered in 24 carat gold and 5kg of gold dust.
The car is covered in 24 carat gold and 5kg of gold dust.

The designer of one of the most iconic vehicles of the 20th century will be honoured in Italy this year - twice.

"Corradino D'Ascanio: Man, Genius, Magician, Legend" is an exhibition at the Museo Piaggio, in Pontedera, celebrating the life and work of D'Ascanio, who designed the Piaggio Vespa scooter after the Second World War.

The Italian postal service is also honouring D'Ascanio with a special stamp to be issued on Tuesday.

D'Ascanio was an aeronautical engineer in the 1930s, but after the fall of Mussolini, the Italian aircraft industry was shut down and in tatters. Using his knowledge of aircraft design, D'Ascanio began working on a scooter; his second try was the iconic Vespa, or "wasp" in Italian. With a step-through design and covered mechanicals, it was appealing to both men and women, and the Vespa went on to sell millions and became symbolic of a new post-war confidence and style in Italy. The Museum of Modern Art in New York even has a 1955 Vespa in its permanent collection.

D'Ascanio died in 1981; the exhibition goes until the end of January.


Gold 'Blingmobile' Mercedes on market for a mere Dh40 million

A tacky-looking "Blingmobile" is available to anyone who happens to have a spare Dh40 million in their pocket.

This car is actually a Mercedes SLR McLaren that has been given an extreme makeover by Swiss businessman Ueli Anliker.

His 35 workers spent a total of 30,000 man hours transforming the car, at a cost of Dh20m.

Anliker has now renamed the supercharged V8 Merc the "Anliker McLaren SLR 999 Red Gold Dream" and given it a "minimum" price tag of about Dh40m.

The body has 25 layers of red paint with 5kg of gold dust spread throughout it. The wheels, headlights and door sills are all covered with 24 carat gold.

Inside, more gold is displayed everywhere and there are even jewelled indicators and a ruby-covered gearstick.

"Selling the vehicle has never been part of Mr Anliker's motivation but he will consider a suitable offer," a spokesman for the entrepreneur says. "Having invested about five million Swiss francs and more than 30,000 man hours, the car is worth 10 million Swiss francs - a minimum selling price."


Honda's new NSX concept car to be revealed

Honda in the United States has announced that it will unveil four all-new vehicles at the 2012 North American International Auto Show - including a concept version of the next-generation NSX supercar.

The Japanese firm will also be revealing a new compact sports saloon, a redesigned RDX crossover sport utility vehicle and a concept of the next US Accord Coupé model at the show in Detroit, Michigan, between January 9 and 22.

But by far the most interesting aspect of the announcement is the revival of the NSX (New Sports car eXperiment), which was produced between 1990 and 2005.

When it was first launched the NSX was a marvel of design and technology that was created to rival any of the high-end cars from Italy or Germany but, by 2005, sales were only in the hundreds as competitors took steps forward, so the decision was made to halt production.

Honda has been sketchy on the details but it has been reported that the company's chief executive, Takanobu Ito, believes the car will be exhilarating to drive yet environmentally friendly. It is also believed that the new mid-engined NSX will have an electric drivetrain to boost the petrol engine.


Woman caught speeding more than 1,500 times in just weeks

A woman who racked up more than 1,500 speeding fines in just a matter of weeks has been caught by Italian police.

The British woman was eventually tracked down in the city of Florence after amassing fines totalling €90,000 (Dh436,140).

It is thought the woman, who lives in the Italian city, believed she would get away with it as her Mercedes has British licence plates and Italian police are not allowed to access vehicle registration computer systems in other countries. However, the unnamed woman was thwarted when a police officer spotted her parked car and waited for her to return to it before handing over the massive amount of fines.

"Her car was photographed 1,500 times breaking speed limits," Enza Mondillo, of the Florence traffic police, told Britain's Daily Mail. "I understand from our fines department she has called in a lawyer but the law is clear and the highway code was broken so she will have to pay."


Partnership could bring more carbon fibre to GM vehicles

General Motors signed a partnership agreement with Teijin Limited, a Japanese company on the leading edge of carbon fibre development, that could make the use of carbon fibre more widespread than ever before.

The two companies will co-develop advanced carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP) technologies for high-volume production vehicles. Normally, only higher-performance, low-volume vehicles incorporate large amounts of carbon fibre.

CFRTP is designed to have a cycle time - the time it takes to set - in under a minute, while conventional carbon fibre requires a much longer time to mould. This would make CFRTP much cheaper to produce.

Carbon fibre is 10 times stronger than regular-grade steel yet just a quarter of the weight, making cars lighter and thereby more fuel efficient with better performance.

Teijin will open the Teijin Composites Application Centre somewhere in the northern US next year.