Vale Erik Carlsson

Ironic that this should happen just a few hours after NEVS’s positive news……. but it’s turned into a sad day for Trollhattan and Saab fans in general.

It’s with great sadness that I report today on the passing of a Saab legend, perhaps the biggest Saab legend of all – Mr Erik Carlsson. Erik passed away in his adopted England today after a short illness. He was surrounded by family.

“Mr Saab” was born in Trollhattan, Sweden, in March 1929 and the story of his life is inextricably bound to the city and the car company that was based there.

Erik drove his first rally victory in a Saab in 1955 when the company was less than 10 years old. That was a two-cylinder Saab 92 and he went on to experience rally success with the Saab 93, Saab 95 and the Saab 96 with both two-stroke and V4 engines.

Saab fans will be well aware of his successes. While Erik won various events between 1955 and 1959, it was his winning of the RAC Rally of 1960, the first year of the Saab 96, that cemented both he and Saab on the motorsport map. Erik’s legend goes hand-in-hand with the Saab 96, which he took to first place in the famous Monte Carlo Rally in 1962 and 1963. He also won the RAC Rally two more times in 1961 and 1962. The 1000 Lakes Rally, the Acropolis Rally, the Swedish Rally, the San Remo Rally, the Czech Rally – all of them have Erik Carlsson’s name in their history books under “Winner” and many more have him as being placed on the podium.

Erik even drove the heavier Saab 95 estate vehicle at Monte Carlo, finishing in 4th position in 1961. I’m not sure that a two-door, 7-seat station wagon has ever been so close to glory, either before or since!

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After his retirement from rallying, Erik became Saab’s most prominent ambassador. The amount of frequent flyer miles he would have accumulated travelling for Saab to events around the world would have broken most airline computers, I’m sure.

It must be said, however, that Erik’s days as an ambassador for the company took shape even when he was still rallying. When accepting victory trophies in his Saab 96, Erik always insisted that the car was cleaned before it was presented. He and his co-driver would always show up in dress suits rather than racing suits to accept the trophy. Presentation was paramount.

Erik famously promoted the Saab 900 at events around the world, driving it at speed over a large blade that would puncture the front tyre. At the time of the puncture, Erik would raise his hands out from the sunroof to show how well balanced the Saab was even under pressure.

Erik’s longevity as a Saab ambassador – a role he played well into his Eighties – can be attributed to his personal charm. Erik loved the role and he played it well. He had a cheeky smile, plenty of stories to tell and a willingness to engage anyone in conversation. And so prominent was Erik as an identity at Saab that they released three Carlsson edition vehicles in his honour – a Saab 900, a Saab 9000 and a Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan.

There would barely be a Saab fan that’s travelled to a prominent Saab event that didn’t get a handshake, a photograph or an autograph from the great man. He had time for everyone, even in his later years.

I had the good fortune to spend an afternoon with Mr Saab back in 2012. The day was organised by mutual good friends Mike and Hilary, who have spent a lot of time with the great man in the last 20 years. I encourage you to read that story as it says a lot about him outside of the spotlight.

That day taught me a lot about Erik Carlsson. It showed me the way he cared for the company, talking about it in an educated fashion like a man who still had his finger on the pulse, even in his advanced years and at such a distance. It showed me the way he loved his RAC replica Saab 96 (see video, below), which he drove with such exuberance on the day. More than that, though, it showed me his warmth as a man. He was deeply charming, extremely generous with his time and compliments, and he loved his family deeply.

Erik Carlsson married Pat Moss, the sister of Sir Sterling Moss, in 1963 and like his heritage from Trollhattan, this partnership shaped the rest of his life. Pat Moss was an accomplished driver in her own right and they wrote a book about the art of driving together. The couple settled in England, where Pat indulged her other passion – horses – which she passed on to their daughter Susie. Erik still lived just down the road from his daughter right up until his passing.

Erik Carlsson lived a full life, passing away at the age of 86. It was a life worth celebrating, a life to be remembered with fondness.

He was, and always will be remembered as Mr Saab.

Vale Erik Carlsson.

NEVS Take On Two NEW Chinese Owners/Partners

Here’s the press release, and there’s a little more to read below it.

Nevs grows with two Chinese strategic part owners

Together with two new Chinese part owners Nevs will establish its second global factory with focus on electric vehicles and a second global research and development center in the city of Tianjin, neighboring Beijing City and Hebei Province, three highly-integrated economic regions with a population over 100 million.

With the new part owners, Tianjin city’s Tianjin Binhai Hi-tech industrial Development Area (THT), and the Beijing State Research Information Technology Co., Ltd. (SRIT), Nevs has got two new strategic partners.

Tianjin is one of the biggest coastal cities in China and has significantly promoted new energy vehicles both in the form of consumer subsidies and official procurements.

The Tianjin city’s fast growing national level demonstration zone THT embraces a long history of automotive industry. Here is where the joint venture production plant will be built. This will give Nevs a strong foothold on the increasing EV market in the area and China, as well as provide Nevs access to the existing automotive supplier base in the region.

SRIT is a pioneering IT service provider owned by China’s Research Development Center of the State Council, and the telecommunications giant China Unicom.

As software services and connectivity as well as new energy vehicles are the major and increasing trend within the automotive industry, the cooperation with SRIT and its owners will give Nevs a unique possibility to place itself at the forefront of connectivity for the future. SRIT as a partner will also open up more opportunities for Nevs.

The first car that will be produced in the plant in Tianjin is an electric vehicle based on Nevs’ technology, followed by a diversified EV and portfolio of battery electric vehicles and EVs based on Nevs’ new developed vehicle architecture.

“Nevs’ focus is to produce high quality electric vehicles with China as its initial main market. The long-term cooperation with the development area THT in Tianjin and the IT pioneer SRIT will help us achieve our vision and our goal of a global strategic presence and is an important addition to the resources we have in Trollhättan”, says Nevs president Mattias Bergman.

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Additional info gleaned from TTELA, Saabtala, Pingu in comments (who should really have his own author account on this site, he’s so far ahead of me on this) and other impeccable sources such as mates on Facebook…..

The full buy-in for these partners is apparently around $200 million and they’re minority shareholders at this point. More deals are supposedly in the pipe. The first tranche of $40m has hit the bank, which is why NEVS made the announcement. That’s a wise move, but it doesn’t necessarily fill you with confidence.

As pointed out by the mate on Facebook, the $200m doesn’t limit the money NEVS might have to play with. It’s just the buy-in price that reinvigorates Kai Johan Jiang’s wardrobe after he nearly lost his shirt. The total investment these new partners make could be anything at all. They could be a bunch of whatever-it-takes types. They could be scrooges. All we know is that it looks like NEVS are heading back to focusing on EVs once again and for the sake of their business plan, that’s probably a good thing.

There’s no mention of the Saab name and there’s no mention of Mahindra, which makes me think the Saab name is now finally, completely off-limits. That’ll reduce the level of interest for some people on its own.

Of course, the whole scenario is less interesting to many, anyway. I count myself in that lot. I keep saying “this’ll be the last time I write about Saab cars” and then I keep on writing about NEVS. I think it’s just a habit now. Truth be told, my main interest is in older Saabs – the V4s, the 900 and 9000. Maybe add the first 9-3 in there as well because of the Viggen.

From what I can tell, the cars that NEVS produce will have little, if anything, in common with those vehicles that first caught the imagination of thousands around the world. There will be design and engineering activities in Trollhattan, I’m sure, but the gradual movement to a base in Tianjin feels inevitable.

As someone who’s invested a little bit of life in Trollhattan, I’m glad that this is happening for the city. If it keeps Mama Mia’s and O’Learys open so I can get some pasta or ribs when I visit, I’m all for it.

As a Saab fan…. meh. It’s still wait and see but it doesn’t feel particularly interesting at this point.

NEVS Press Conference at 11am Swedish Time

This, via Pingu, in comments…..

NEVS just announced a press conference at 11 AM CEST (90 minutes from now), where they will present their plan to be “successful manufacturer of electric cars” and two new Chinese partners.

No Mahindra then (something I suspected long ago)… Will be interesting to see if this is the final deal.

No Mahindra could mean the use of the Saab name has been denied. If that’s the case, it’ll reduce interest for a lot of observers.

We wait and see……

Video: Saab 96 on For The Love Of Cars

I’ve just finished watching this episode of For The Love Of Cars and I just had to share it here. It’s a great story, but even more than that, it’s a great little Saab 96.

There’s a bit of a story to this. The program you’re about to see was aired on Channel 4 in Britain last Sunday. The auction you see in the video was actually conducted back in January, but the day before the show went on TV (i.e. last Saturday), the car was auctioned once again.

The reasons behind all this back-and-forth become clear at the end of the show and it’s a touching story. I haven’t been able to find the price from last weekend’s auction but hopefully it’ll become public soon.

About the car – it’s a basic Saab 96 from the early 70’s but it wins the boys over completely with its engineering and its charm. It made my want to go hunt one down, actually.

The program goes for 50 minutes. Enjoy.

2015 Picnic At Ross

Every year on the third Sunday in May, there’s a car show called the Picnic At Ross. Ross is a lovely little town, 120km north of Hobart. It’s full of character with its shops and cafes, all of them old buildings made of timber or sandstone.

The car show is held at the sports grounds on the outskirts of town. Ross is a more central town in geographic terms, and that means it attracts cars from both the north and the south of the state, which is great for hermits like me who don’t travel north very often.

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The meet was probably 50% Ford and Holden but as usual, you won’t see many of those here. OK, maybe a few Fords. For some reason, I ended up shooting mostly Citroens today. Maybe it’s because they’re so damn interesting.

To the photos!

If I showed you a big Maserati V6……

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….followed by a series of green spheres……

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….you’d probably know what model car I was talking about…. IF you’re a car person.

Yes, it’s a Citroen with a Maserati engine, the mighty Citroen SM.

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I didn’t even know we had a Citroen SM in Tasmania and to my surprise, this one lives in the south of the state. Apparently it’s the only one in Tassie.

This SM is one of 300 made for the British market, all of which were LHD. Its current fine state reflects a wonderful restoration done some years ago. It had presence to die for, both inside and out.

I loved the gear change setup. It’s almost as sexy as the traditional steel-gate setup from the days when Ferraris had manual shifters.

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The previous owner had an engine fire shortly after a rebuild was completed. He installed an under-bonnet fire system, operated by this eye-opener of a button.

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I’m not sure what was going on with this early 1960’s Ford Falcon but it was interesting, to say the least.

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It was nice to see this Porsche 924 Turbo at the show. It’s the first one I’ve seen in Tasmania. The 931 and 932 are slowly, slowly creeping up in value.

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This BMW 2800CS lives in the south. I’ve photographed it a few times at Classics but even so, I couldn’t walk away from it today. Its lines are so beautiful. Sadly, like a LOT of cars today, its windows were closed and I couldn’t get a good shot of the interior.

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The Citroen guys love to show off their hydraulics. This DS had the jack inserted underneath and the rear guard removed, simulating a rear wheel change. It was just for effect, though.

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One of my mates from Club Motori Italia had his new-to-him Citroen CX Pallas at the picnic today. It’s a great story, too. The car owes him about $400 – in total – and as you can see it doesn’t look too shabby at all. It had been sitting idle for years when he picked it up for a pittance but with a fresh battery and some fresh fuel, it started right up. The hydraulics are fine, too.

I sat inside the car to take a few of these photos and the seats are soooooo cushy. I’d love to take it for a drive one day.

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I have another shot of this Ferrari Testarossa – a shot where I’m not getting photobombed – but I couldn’t resist this one.

Well played, Sir.

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And a few detail shots, for fun…..

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Some detail shots of (what I think is) a delightful Citroen Traction Avant. There are a few photographic sins present in these shots. Please forgive.

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A couple of the Lotuses present at the show today……

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OK, I photographed one Holden today. But only one :-)

I’m actually somewhat partial to these early Commodores. This VC model from 1980-81 has got some livery from HDT, which was Holden’s hot version back in the day.

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The Leyland P76 is a car with a chequered history. It won the Australian Car Of The Year award when it was released as a rival to family cars from Ford, Holden and Valiant in 1973. Reliability problems and the 70’s oil crisis meant it had a short life but it still has a very loyal band of devotees today. One of my uncles has 3 or 4 of them stowed away in a shed.

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Check the funky upholstery….

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One of the P76’s claims to fame was a boot so big it could accommodate a 44-gallon drum (with room to spare) – something ably demonstrated by one owner at the show today…..

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Another Citroen study….. this time a very cute 2CV Dolly.

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I love these early Porsches. This one’s a 911T with the 2.2 litre flat-six.

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Cars on show at the Picnic at Ross are supposed to be at least 20 years old. I don’t think anyone could conceive of turning away a sexy new F-Type Jaguar, though.

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The F-Type was parked amongst the main group of cars. The Jaguar owners club didn’t want to be seen with the riff-raff, however. They parked about 100 meters away from the main group.

Given this silly level of snobbery, I limited myself to only one photo from their group – shot of my favourite classic Jag from their collection – a Series 1 XJ.

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Mini!

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Porsche Spyder replica…..

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And a couple more Fords…..

There were a LOT of Mustangs here today. They’re exciting to look at, but I have a feeling they’d be a bit of a pig to drive.

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There were quite a few small Fords there today, too. The early Cortinas are always a favourite and I have a feeling this would be more fun to drive than the big Mustang.

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Friday Night Snippets – NEVS, Spyker, Prices, Fiat Parkour

It’s been exactly one month since NEVS exited bankruptcy protection in Sweden. I expected that we would have heard something about a new majority shareholder by now. But no. Not a peep.

I have no news. I just want to mark the one-month anniversary. How long can they keep …. doing nothing?

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Speaking of bankruptcy….

There’s news out of Holland saying that Spyker has reached an agreement with creditors that might see the company exit it’s stint in bankruptcy protection.

Spyker, which applied for voluntary financial restructuring last year, is proposing to pay each creditor the first €12,000 ($13,681) of what it owes plus just 10% of the remainder.

Creditors have agreed to the proposal, which must have hurt but it’s better than getting nothing at all.

That’ll be one hurdle overcome. The next hurdle will be securing enough funding to actually start building cars again. I’d still love to see that B6 Venator get built. It was a beautiful looking car.

Good luck, Vic.

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Speaking of Spyker….

A story popped up on my news feed through the week about a Koenigsegg Agera up for sale in China.

I was drawn to the photo because of the Agera, of course, but then I looked at the car to the left, in the reflection. And I smiled.

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For the Love of Cars is a TV show about cars on Channel 4 in the UK. They restore cars and then sell them on at auction.

This Sunday, if you’ve got access to Channel 4, you can see them restore the Saab 96, below.

Saab 96 For The Love Of Cars.

They estimate a sale price between £12,000 and £18,000. That seems a little steep to me but I hope they get it. The car was first sold back in January and the buyer has decided to sell it on, with the proceeds to be donated to charity. A fine gesture.

The car will be auctioned on Saturday 16th May and the program showing its restoration will be shown at 8pm in Sunday 17th May.

More details here.

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Back when the GFC started taking hold, the Aussie dollar rose sharply against the greenback and actually stayed around parity for a considerable time. Carmakers took several years to drop their prices here in Australia, however.

Now that the Aussie dollar has fallen a bit, they’re wasting no time in raising their prices again.

The Australian dollar’s continued downward spiral relative to the greenback has forced Fiat Chrysler Australia to raise the price of six models in its stable, delivering increases of up to 4.9 per cent.

The price rises, officially introduced in March, affect the Abarth 595, Alfa Romeo MiTo, Dodge Journey, Fiat Freemont, and Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee line-ups, with increases ranging from $500 to $2000.

Banks.

Software companies.

And now carmakers.

Bastards, the lot of them!

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I don’t know what this is selling – Fiat 500’s or the physical jerks* otherwise known as Parkour.

Whatever it is, I like it.

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Thanks to all for your advice/thoughts about photography gear. As a quick follow-up…..

I recently bought both a 70-200mm VR II and a 105mm Macro to go with my existing 50mm f1.8 and my 16-35mm f2.8. I got them from sellers on Ebay, both lenses are in great condition and I paid about half of retail.

My new kit will get a decent first workout at the end of next week. It should be a truckload of fun!

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* “physical jerks” was my Dad’s phrase for Aerobics back in the 80’s. My Mum used to do three classes a night.

Me: “Where’s Mum?”

Dad: “Off doing her physical jerks”

I still love that term.

#Auspol – Budget Schmudget

Hey Australia!

For the last couple of years we’ve had a budget emergency. We’ve been living amongst a debt and deficit disaster – we know this because Tony and Joe told us – and if you didn’t agree with Sweaty Joe’s plans to fix it, then you were stealing from your children. You heartless bastards!

But hey, that was 2014. It’s 2015 now. Relax. Have a cigar. There’s nothing to worry about. Tony and Joe told us so. The 2014 budget fixed everything (even though most of it is still stuck in the Senate 12 months later).

Abbott HockeyLook how relaxed they are…..

Red vs Blue

Last night’s federal budget was a soft, toasty marshmallow of a document that was designed to do one thing, and one thing only – protect the jobs of the men who constructed it. It was a document designed to offend no-one (that matters) and postpone any real decisions until after the next election, an election that many are now predicting will come early given that Sweaty Joe and Tony The Smirk have buttered up their base with this financial fig leaf.

If you’re a Lefty, like me, then you’re likely to be completely nonplussed by last night’s mini-drama. The outrage from 2014 remains. The Coalition still wants to Americanise our higher education sector. They maintain their abandonment of the Gonski reforms. The reduction in pensions might have been stared down, along with the Medicare co-payment, but don’t fool yourself into thinking these are done and dusted. They’re merely on hold until the coalition wins the next election.

It’s a positive that they want to boost childcare but note that this measure, which will primarily benefit wealthier families, is meant to be propped up by taking Family Tax Benefits away from lower-income families. It’s the same old story – belt the little guys in order to prop up the big end of town and disguise it with words like ‘incentive’ and ‘aspiration’.

If you’re a right-winger then you should be more concerned than I am.

Tony and Joe have done more flips and twists in the last 12 months than Greg Louganis did in his whole career and this budget might just be the biggest yet. The iron-clad commitment to fiscal consolidation and budget repair is out the window. The gilt-edged PPL scheme that Tony didn’t believe in, then believed in fiercely through two election campaigns, then abandoned, is now a target for savings. The Minister For Women is no longer offering ladies $75,000 a year to look after their sprogs. Now he’s ripping money away from them and accusing them of double dipping if they argue!

But all’s not lost for the tax-averse.

Like Peter Costello in the Howard, era, Tony and Joe are still looking for ways to feather their voters’ nests. Costello gave the people capital gains relief and the baby bonus. Tony and Joe are offering $20K in open-slather business writeoffs and no meaningful action on tax reform at the top end of the scale – despite it being the topic of plenty of conversation.

You think that $20K business writeoff isn’t going to be rorted? Check it out:

WHAT CAN I CLAIM?

Cars, vans, utes, trailers, motorbikes, lawnmowers, ovens, fridges, coffee machines, other machinery, kitchens, tables and chairs, carpets, printers, photocopiers, tools, welding equipment, saws, generators, pumps, solar panels, heating, hot water units, water tanks, airconditioning units, sound and security systems, computers – any item used for running the business – will be 100 per cent tax deductible.

I think PJ Paintings might need a welder and a new sound system, actually…..

Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong

As mentioned at the opening, an $18billion deficit was considered to be a budget emergency by this mob back in 2013. Since then, the deficit has more than doubled under Sweaty Joe and this tough-talking Treasurer has effectively pushed his credible path back to surplus out another year – and even that is based on some very optimistic assumptions about future economic growth.

The truth is that this budget, like this government, is all about optics. It’s all about the message. The spin doctors haven’t worked so hard since Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong. It’s all there for you to see. From Tony Abbott’s Real Solutions booklet to his three-word slogans. The Coalition spent all of the last parliament creating a narrative about a fictitious problem that only they could fix. It worked like a charm, too, which is why they’ll do it again before the next election.

Spin examples?

The pillaging of a tertiary education system that works very well for the vast majority of people is OK if it’s presented as ‘opening up our universities to be more internationally competitive’. Providing a great and affordable education to everyone at home is less important than providing the best possible education to anyone who can afford to pay. Educating the masses is effective, but boring. Educating at the highest possible level? That’s something you can pin streamers and balloons to.

Climate change is another area the right wing should be angry about. Why on earth is the Coalition spending a couple of billion in taxpayer dollars to prop up a Direct Action plan when no-one in the Coalition actually believes in the science of climate change? It’s the ultimate appeasement measure.

And by-the-by, the true right-wing denialist approach to climate change is the ultimate form of intergenerational theft, a buzzphrase the righties are so fond of using.

The Sad Truth

Sadly, all this spin, posturing and feather-bedding is likely to work.

Why?

It’ll work because two-thirds of our country’s newspapers are owned by News Ltd, which effectively means most of the electorate is reading the Liberal Party Newsletter everyday.

It’ll work because Labor became so self-obsessed in the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years that the Greens were able to insert themselves as a credible voting option for the progressive lefty.

It’ll work because Labor’s current messages are only half defined and rendered ineffective by their poor delivery.

Most of all, it’ll work because the Labor Party has a lettuce leaf of a leader who seems incapable of landing a meaningful blow against even the easiest and most obvious of targets.

Photographic Advice Wanted!

I’m moving into a new job soon and while the focus of that job will be writing, every decent story benefits from a few good pictures. Especially when the stories are about cars. I need to develop my photographic skills (pun intended!).

As I’ve read on nearly every single photobug website, the single biggest investment I can make is time and practice. It’s the eye behind the camera that has the biggest influence on the quality of the picture.

Nevertheless, I also want to invest some money in making sure I have the right gear to cover most situations. I’ve spent a lot of time on Ken Rockwell’s invaluable website and I think I’ve come up with a kit that’ll suit my needs. I thought I’d post my ideas here and lean on the expertise of readers who not only know their cameras, but also know their cars (because cars are mostly what I’ll be photographing).

My kit so far:

  • Nikon D750 full-frame (FX) digital SLR
  • Nikkor 50mm f1.8G lens
  • Nikkor AF-S 16-35mm 1:4G ED lens
  • Tamron 18-200 f3.8-5.6 lens
  • Nikon SB-700 Speedlight (flash)

The Tamron lens is the one that came with my old Nikon F60 film camera. It fits the D750 so I figured I may as well keep it, though it’s nowhere near as sharp as I’d imagine a good Nikkor lens of similar length would be.

The big question is what other lenses – or other equipment – should I invest in to make sure I’ve got as many bases covered as possible?

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I’m thinking mainly about lenses here. It’d be great to have two camera bodies. It saves a lot of time changing lenses. I’ve only got one camera body at the moment but it’s a new one and a good one. I can’t afford to spend money on another good full-frame body right now. My D750 will become a good second body one day, but that’s a few years down the track.

I’ve got a good wide-zoom lens in the 16-35mm and I’ve got an adequate 50mm prime lens (though I’d love to upgrade to the f1.4 if my budget allows).

The lenses I would like to add to my kit include a detailed below, along with the objective.

The Distance Dilemma.

I’d like to have some good tele-zoom capability, ideally up to 400mm. Given that a dedicated 400mm lens costs megabucks, I’m looking at a few options.

Option 1 – 70-200mm + teleconverter

Nikkor 70-200mm VR II AF-S G ED – Apparently a super-sharp zoom with good vibration reduction. Current cost is around $2,400 new or just under $2K second hand. There are other decent Nikon zooms out there but this one’s key because of the f2.8 speed and the desire to use a…..

Nikon TC-20E III (teleconverter) – Current cost is around $450 new. This teleconverter works without restriction on the 70-200mm lens. On some slower lenses, it doesn’t work so well. The teleconverter basically doubles the focal length of your lens (supposedly) without compromising your optics. That means my 70-200mm lens could be used as a 400mm lens, suitable for track photography.

Option 2 – 80-400mm

The 70-200mm + teleconverter is one option for getting decent 400mm performance. The other option is a Nikkor 80-400mm tele-zoom. I can pick up a refurbished one of these for about $1600 at the moment.

I tend to worry about lenses that have such a wide range. Are they going to be sharp all the way through?

The advantage for the 80-400mm is great 400mm performance with vibration reduction. The lower cost is handy, too. The disadvantage is slow auto-focus. A new AF-S model is out, but that’s around $1000 more.

The advantage for the 70-200mm + teleconverter option is great 400mm performance with vibration reduction, as well as having a super-duper 70-200mm lens for other work, when not using the teleconverter. It gives me much greater versatility with what I think would be greater quality, albeit at a higher cost.

The disadvantage is that the 70-200mm + teleconverter option will cost twice as much as the basic 80-400mm option.

The 70-200mm vs 80-400mm question is probably the biggest one I’m facing right now. Any advice or stories of previous experience would be much appreciated.

Macro

Nikon 200mm f/4D AF Micro – Around $2K new but I’ve found one second-hand for less than half of this amount. This is widely regarded as Nikon’s best Macro lens, which would be great for getting close-in on vehicle details. Nikon also sell a 105mm macro lens, which is probably the more popular option because it costs a bit less and will do the job for most people. The argument for the 200mm is that it’s long enough to let you get out of the way of your own lighting, which is important for macro. And as with cars, I tend to try and buy the best whenever I can, to save regrets later on.

UPDATE: I tried the 105mm macro today and I think it’ll do the job I need just fine. And it’ll likely save me some money. Good result.

The other….

The equipment above is my main consideration at the moment but if I can get it all for a decent price, I’d like to sneak in a Nikkor 50mm f1.4 lens. This is the super-sharp and super-fast upgrade from the f1.8 version I’ve got at the moment and I can get one for about $400 second-hand.

As you can tell, I don’t mind buying second-hand if I feel confident that the lens is good condition. You’ve got to treat these lenses with reasonable contempt to really damage them and a lot of people buy a specialty lens to use it just a few times before realising it’s not for them. Buying these lenses brand new just isn’t within my budget.

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Over to you. If you’ve got any experience or advice, I’d love to hear it.

Brief Notes: Porsche 928S

After just three short months – well, two and a half, actually – my Porsche 928S has been sold and picked up by its new owner.

The Sprint and the Brumby both go tomorrow. As I said earlier in the week, change is afoot. More to come later.

To the 928, though…..

I never wrote much about the 928 here. That’s probably because I didn’t drive the car enough to connect with it and form a full opinion. That’s partly because of the cost of driving it regularly. It’s partly because of my Alfa Sprint, which I absolutely adore. And it’s partly because I knew I’d be selling it soon, from 2 weeks after I bought it (a new job came up in early March, one that will require a few significant changes).

I expected the 928 to feel faster than it did. It was certainly brisk, but I was probably seduced by my previous 968CS into thinking that the 928 could be brutal. I fully expected it to be an amazingly capable and genteel GT car – which it is – but I also expected some animal. I just didn’t get that animal feeling as much as I would have liked.

There are a few areas where the 928 is truly exceptional.

The first of these is the handling. The 928 is a burly beast with a big V8 lump at the front and yet it handles like a car with half the weight and half the cylinders. A GT car is supposed to make its money on comfortable long-range trips from city to city. The 928 does that with aplomb. But it’s the 928’s ability to carve its way along a B-road that really surprised me. Just fantastic.

The second is the styling. The 928 bleeds presence. When you look it, try to remember that it was designed in the early-mid 1970’s. There were a lot of very nice looking cars drawn at that time, but the 928 is unique in that the other cars still look like outstanding classic cars from the 1970’s. The 928 still looks quite contemporary today.

I’d wanted a 928 for a long time and I’m glad I scratched that particular itch. I wish it hadn’t cost me quite so much money – selling a car that’s not in demand when it’s not 100% and you’re pressed for time is a costly mix – but I’m still pleased enough to have had the experience. It’s an experience that I won’t try to replicate soon, and one that I’ll do my best to learn from.

And on that note, here are a few pictures. Sadly, not enough.

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Classics By The Beach – May 2015

It’s the first Sunday in May and that means Classics By The Beach. For me, it was a significant Classics, too, because it’ll most likely be my last Classics I’ll visit for some time. Circumstances are changing and it’ll involve a move away from Hobart. More on that in another post, later on.

For now, though, I’ve got some cars for you to look at.

It’s not often a Ferrari Dino gets outshone at Classics, but I think we can say it happened today. The car of the month for May 2015 is one of the red ones across the way. It’s very, very rare and makes for a great story.

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The car off to the left is an AC Ace. Don’t feel bad if you’re not familiar with them. I wasn’t either.

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You’re probably familiar with the AC Cobra, however.

The big V8 engined Cobra was conceived by Carroll Shelby and an original AC Cobra is still the stuff of automotive dreams for many. Replicas are everywhere. Actually, I’d love to know how many replicas exist for each of the 998 original Cobras built in the 1960’s.

The AC Ace is the basis upon which the Cobra was built. Early Aces are particularly valuable as they may be eligible for entry into the Mille Miglia. This one was built a few years too late for Mille eligibility, but is still a very valuable item. It has a 2 litre, 6 cylinder Bristol engine that produces 120hp to push around its alloy body and tubular chassis.

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The new owner has apparently been searching for one of these for nearly 15 years. And as sometimes happens in these vehicular missions, he ended up finding the car quite close to home. The long-term owner was the original AC importer for South Africa. He bought the car to Tasmania when he moved here 30 years ago.

This owner passed away some time ago and the car has been sitting under a cover in the family home ever since. The new owner only secured his prize recently and had it at Classics today for the first time.

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Original AC Cobras routinely sell at auction for more than $1.5 million. One recently sold for $5.5 million!

The AC Ace doesn’t fetch as much as it’s more famous descendant, but it’s no slouch, either. A 1958 model sold by RM Auctions last year fetched $341,000.

Lotus Esprit in silver – I love the angles on these early Esprits. There’s almost no change in angle from where the bonnet of the car meets the windscreen.

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I’m also a big fan of two-spoke steering wheels.

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I hadn’t seen this Porsche 356 before but (to my untrained eye) it appeared to be finished to a very high standard indeed. A beautiful car.

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There was a good selection of Jaguar E-Types present today. This little group made for a nice little Italian tri-color effect.

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Given the bonnets were open, it would have been rude to not take a closer look :-)

Turns out we had both a six cylinder and a twelve cylinder on display. Excellent!

The E30 BMW 318i below belongs to a friend of mine. He bought it at a bargain price as a project for he and his son to work on. It’ll be his son’s first car when he passes his licence.

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They’ve done a stellar job of recommissioning the car, sourcing all the parts either locally or online and doing all the work at home. It’s got a new camshaft, new wheels, suspension and stereo system (and probably much more that I don’t know about).

I had the pleasure of driving the little Bimmer a week ago and it was fantastic fun. It was much more perky than I expected. The lads should be proud.

This ‘stepnose’ Alfa Romeo Giulia GT is a Targa competitor. It was good to see it again, this time in daylight. It was a shame there weren’t more Targa cars present, actually. This Alfa and a Ferrari 360 (I think) were the only ones present.

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The rest of the photographed fleet from today includes a certain Porsche 928S that was sold later in the day. It’ll stay in my drive for just two more nights before heading about 15kms down the road.