REAR VIEW MIRROR
Offbeat motoring moments of 2019
Self-steering golf balls, silenced Lambos and an ultra-black BMW make up some of the year’s weirder exploits
Seized supercars of corrupt politician sold
A collection of supercars worth R557m was seized and sold at a Bonhams auction in Cheserex, Switzerland this year. The stable of ultra-rare cars belonged to Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, vice-president of Equatorial Guinea.
The 25-car collection, confiscated by Swiss authorities in 2016 after allegedly being paid for using state funds, included a Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari LaFerrari, Koenigsegg One: 1, Lamborghini Veneno Roadster and McLaren P1.
Duke hangs up driving shoes
Queen Elizabeth’s husband, the 97 year old Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was involved in a crash on January 17, close to the royals’ Sandringham residence in the UK. His Land Rover Freelander was T-boned by a Kia and this led him to voluntarily retire from driving, supposedly a passion of his which included driving then-US president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle to lunch at Windsor Castle during their visit to Britain in 2016.
From hole-some balls to self-parking slippers
Nissan’s efforts to perfect its autonomous driving technologies resulted in the ProPilot golf ball which is able to navigate its way across the green and into the cup on the first putt — every time. It’s inspired a semi-autonomous driver assistance system used in the new Nissan Skyline. Previous examples of such Nissan madcap creations include a parking chair and self-parking slippers.
Silencing the Lambos
Paris has declared war on loud exhausts in the city and surrounding suburbs, and is testing new noise radars able to pinpoint the source of sound by combining existing CCTV traffic cameras, directional microphones and detects, targets, and tickets owners of vehicles with loud exhausts.
“We have nothing against Ferraris or Harley-Davidsons, but their owners sometimes like to demonstrate their vehicles’ power and the noise really troubles residents,” said an official of the town of Villeneuve, south of France, where the first such radar will begin a two-year trial period.
Eat your dark heart out, Darth Vader
During the year we saw the blackest-ever car. The nanotech paint used is known as Vantablack and it absorbs 99.9% of light, swallowing details like shut lines. It’s best used for painting space telescope parts but there it was creating a BMW X6-shaped black-hole right in front of our eyes.
Load shedding blues for cop
“I am down to six miles of battery on the Tesla so I may lose it here in a sec,” Officer Jesse Hartman said when radioing in during his chase. “I’ve got to try to find a charging station for the Tesla so I can make it back to the city.”
These were the words of a US police officer who recently had to abandon a high-speed highway chase after the batteries ran down in his modified Tesla Model S.
It was a mere mine, Toyota protests
Toyota’s Hilux 4x4 is synonymous with prowess in the sand. But the company was ordered by the Advertising Regulatory Board to scrap a TV advert for its new Hilux GR Sport featuring three meerkats nodding in approval. Complainants didn’t nod in approval to the depiction of beach driving, an illegal undertaking in SA — even when Toyota SA pointed out that the ad was in fact shot in a Cape mining area, not on the beach.
No mercy shown for Vespa
The home of the world’s favourite scooter has banned the world’s favourite scooter in a bid to curb air pollution. The Italian city of Genoa, the birth place of the Vespa, plans to outlaw two-stroke scooters built before 1999 due to their high exhaust emissions. The proposed ban elicited enormous anger in the city, which celebrated the Vespa’s 70th birthday in 2016.