Mad Braabus, Helicopter hero, and presidential plates - Good Oil
The Brabus Rocket has always been a rather cool car. Usually based on the Mercedes-Benz CLS, the Rocket has always been The Good Oil’s kind of car.
But we are not so sure of the latest version. The Brabus Rocket 900 Desert Gold Edition is based on the S Class and is very, well, gold.
Unsurprisingly debuting at the Dubai motor show, this is a garish update of the Rocket 900 revealed at the Geneva show earlier this year. It packs the same twin-turbo V12 that normally pumps out 463kW and 1000Nm in a S65 AMG and is 5.5-litres, but has been tweaked up to 6.3-litres, 661kW and 1500Nm for the Rocket 900.
The Rocket 900 will, um, rocket to 100km/h in just 3.7sec, hit 200km/h in 9.1sec and push on for a top speed of 350km/h.
Though the performance is utterly incredible, its appearance is a little less impressive.
Brabus claims that more than 300 interior parts are painted the same colour, the upholstery is black and gold leather, switches and bezels are also gold-coloured, while gold-coloured seams and piping add “subtle” accents. There is also gold pin-striping on the black wheels.
Awesome power with a horrific appearance — yep, that will sell nicely in Dubai.
The wacky, fun-loving blokes at Peugeot Design Lab who brought us the Peugeot food truck — Le Bistro du Lion, featured in this column a few months back — have a new project. A helicopter.
Seems the Design Lab won an in-house competition to collaborate with Airbus Helicopters on their latest civil helicopter, the H160.
Though you can’t pick any obvious Peugeot car design cues, we can see a slight similarity to a Peugeot 205 GTi.
We can only hope the H160 doesn’t share the same traits and retains all the liquids that it’s supposed to, as well as managing to keep out all the elements that are supposed to stay out. Plus, we are thinking that sudden, vicious snap oversteer is as unwelcome in a helicopter as it is in a car.
We are the world
■The Utah Department of Transport is raising awareness of road safety by posting amusing messages on electronic billboards. They include: “Steering wheel: not a hands-free device”; “Work-zone safety — we don’t speed through your office”; “Control your fate, texting can wait”; and the Good Oil’s favourite, “Get your head out of your apps”. A spokesman said: “We take a lighthearted approach, but this is a very serious issue. We want to do something to get people’s attention.”
■A police officer in Mountain View, California, recently stopped a car — not for speeding, but for driving too slow. The officer had no one to fine because it was a Google autonomous vehicle. Google’s self-driving cars are capped to 25mph (40km/h. The officer cautioned the passenger.
Presidential plates sold
Personalised number plates can often sell for silly money. But what about ordinary ones?
And, no, we don’t mean ordinary number plates that accidentally mean something (such as the unfortunate series of New Zealand plates that start with “ANU” and are fine until they hit “5”).
One set sold in the US for US$100,000 (NZ$152,919). GG 300 is a District of Columbia plate from 1963 — the set that was on the presidential limo the day JFK was shot and killed in Dallas.
After the assassination, the 1961 Lincoln Continental was taken back to Hess & Eisenhardt, the company that outfitted the presidential limos, to be refitted and extra security equipment added (y’know, like a roof and bulletproof panels).
While it was there, an FBI agent removed the plates and threw them in the rubbish. Company owner Willard C. Hess — who clearly had a good eye for a souvenir — rescued them and kept them on a shelf.
He later passed them on to his daughter Jane Walker, who kept them in a drawer until recently, when she sent the plates to Heritage Auctions in Dallas. The auction house put them up for auction with a starting price of $40,000. They went to an unnamed bidder for more than twice that. The limo remained in service for a further 13 years, occasionally used by Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Nixon, apparently taking nothing from the Kennedy assassination, had a sunroof put in, allowing him to wave to the crowds. The car is now at the Henry Ford Museum.
Two new showrooms but nothing to show
The fact that it has no cars on sale hasn’t stopped Bugatti from opening two new dealerships in the US.
The company that has just finished producing the Veyron and has yet to reveal its replacement, the Chiron, has not let that stop them from opening incredibly lavish showrooms in Manhattan and Miami.
Manhattan Motorcars and Braman Motors are large, multi-brand dealerships and both have built Bugatti showrooms that feature the new design created in Molsheim for Bugatti dealers worldwide.
Bugatti currently has 27 dealers in 13 countries and new showrooms featuring the new design are set to open in Munich, Tokyo and Monaco soon.
The Manhattan showroom is 92sq m, while the Miami dealership has devoted 240sq m, neither of which is huge. But when you have no cars to display for at least a few more months ...
US Presidential cars since the first in 1939.
Most were Lincolns.
The next is Cadillac. The Fleetwood was used twice.
Barack Obama is the first US President to have an official bus.