Model cars have been produced for almost as long as real automobiles. Built to scale in great detail out of materials like wood, resin, tin, steel, cast iron, and plastic, collectible model cars run the gamut from the commonplace to the exotic.

Tin model cars, made mostly in Germany, were popular in the early 1900s. Some were just push-toys, but others were powered by tiny clockwork (wind up) systems. They were larger than the model cars we think of today and often built at larger scales. Some of the most notable large models built were the 1/8 and 1/11 promotional models built by the French car company Citroen in the 1920s.

Cast iron model cars became popular before World War I, but gave way to pressed steel models, popularized by the American company Buddy L Toys. These cars consisted of separate pieces fastened together, as die-casting had not yet been perfected (early 1900s die-cast attempts tended to crumble).

After World War II, die-cast companies like Matchbox (originally Matchbox Lesney) made a fortune with their smaller, more-affordable models. In the 1960s, Hot Wheels greatly expanded the collectible model cars market by producing different models every year and special limited-edition runs. Diecast model cars are still hugely popular today, for example NASCAR limited editions. Most diecast model cars are 1/43 scale, although they can be found in both larger and smaller sizes.

The major difference between model cars and toy cars is that model cars are scaled and detailed meticulously, whereas pure toy cars tend to be improperly proportioned and lack attention to detail. Highly detailed models have been made for almost every type of vehicle, including buses, tractors, and trucks.

In the late 1950s and ’60s, plastic models called promotionals were produced, representing cars by General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and American Motors. Promotionals were given away with the purchase of a car at a dealership or could be bought individually. Every year of Ford and Chevy was made, and new plastic models were produced as new features were added to the real cars.

Another collectible model car genre is the pedal car, essentially pedal-driven cars large enough for a child to ride in. These were produced in the 1890s but saw a surge in popularity in the 1920s and 1930s. They’re still produced today in shapes ranging from classic cars to airplanes.


In November 2011, somewhere in the proximity of Asbury Park, N.J., Billy Bauer found himself in every winter driver’s worst nightmare.

“For seven hours, my girlfriend and I were trapped in a snow bank while I was driving my BMW home from work,” says Bauer, a marketing director for his family’s firm, Royce Leather. Being trapped in a BMW isn’t quite as nice as it sounds. With snow engulfing the car, Bauer turned off the engine to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and desperately tried to make his cell phone work.

“There was absolutely no cell phone reception,” Bauer says. “This was in the middle of nowhere on a country road.”

Bauer and his passenger didn’t exactly bond over the experience. As Bauer recalls, his now ex-girlfriend kept saying, “I told you so, Billy.”

Finally, Bauer ripped open his car’s leather seats and removed the support rods, “which I struck through the window to gain someone’s attention.”

Blinding snow. Sleet-streaked windows. Icy roads. If you live in certain parts of the country, it can feel like you’re putting your own life in your hands when you’re driving in the worst that winter can dish up


Sep
08.

The family line that has led to this Citro


There are many answers to this question…

A rush, a thrill, a new hobby, a way to feel free and individual, a way to meet like minded people and fly to places only the birds would normally see.

Once a qualified Pilot you could be airbourne within minutes of arriving at a flying site. Just don your flying suit & boots, carry your surprisingly light flying machine, in its own rucksack to where your friends are preparing to fly. After a few minutes inspecting your equipment, clothing and helmet you get yourself ready to fly, you look around, allow the wind to raise the canopy – and launch off into the air. This is paragliding!

As a student your flying experience could be similar to this, but under instruction.

Developed from parachuting canopies, modern paragliders can be soared effortlessly on windward slopes and across country, in suitable weather conditions.

Paragliding allows for the same freedom that hangglider pilots experience, but a paraglider is more portable and relatively easier to learn to fly. They are more hampered by strong winds than hang gliders but are easier to land in small fields.

In the UK paragliding is a thriving sport.

Is Paragliding Safe?

Paragliding, like any other adventurous sport, has its associated risks and dangers.

The most important pre-requisites to learning to fly safely are: pilot attitude, competent instruction and safe equipment. If these conditions are met the slow speeds and inherent stability of paragliders can provide a safe and enjoyable way to fly

Who can fly a paraglider?

You must be over 16 years to obtain a pilot rating, although you can start training from 14 years.

There is no upper age limit although students and pilots need to be reasonably fit and have good vision. If you have any medical problems or are unsure whether you should partake in our sport please seek medical advice prior to booking.

We also provide tandem flights (for all ages) where an instructor flys for you and you can sit back and take it all in.

We provide training for people with more severe disabilities, with the help of the charity ‘Flyability’.

What can you do with a Paraglider?

Many paraglider pilots strive to perfect their skills in cross-country flying. A summer sky filled with fluffy cumulus clouds provides abundant – but invisible – lifting currents which pilots then use to gain altitude. Setting off on such a day, either towards a pre-selected destination or just drifting where the wind takes you, is one of the most breathtaking experiences available.

Most pilots will talk of the sense of privilege that they feel when drifting from cloud to cloud, in almost total silence, watching the landscape unfold beneath them as they navigate across the sky.

Non stop flights of over 200km have been made by paraglider pilots in this country. Overseas, specifically the Alpine regions, the potential is infinitely greater, and many British pilots take advantage of the paraglider’s portability to visit Europe, even more exotic locations

For those of a competitive ilk, local, national and international competitions offer challenges to novice and experienced pilots alike.

Is there a need for a hill to fly?

Paragliding is not limited to upland environments. Tow launch Paragliding is another technique taught at Green dragons. Tow Launch is the technique used in the flatlands using an engine-driven winch or land-rover to pull pilots aloft.

What should I expect when learning to fly a paraglider?

Training is usually conducted on a gentle slope in a small group of students of similar experience.

A one day fun day is the first step to gaining a feel for the sport and also can be used as Day 1 to gaining your Elementary Pilot Licence.

Whilst progress can vary, from Day 1 through to reaching Club Pilot status you should expect around ten days of flyable weather.

The course will start with explanation on how the canopy is laid out, inflated and controlled. Students will then alternately have their first short training


Question: On buying a car, they say that you


Collectors of antique and classic vehicles must not only insure their vehicles in case of an accident, but they must ensure they can get the full value for their vehicle if destroyed. Just like you wouldn


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One can


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The Astra is back. But don’t go looking at your Holden dealer for the long-time small-car favourite. This time around, everything but the name has changed as the Astra spearheads a downunder drive by Opel of Germany.

Opel always did the Astra, but now it’s reclaimed its prize child and is using an impressive new GTC coupe – and a reasonable $23,990 starting price for a five-door hatch – to headline for a three-model lineup that is intended to grow rapidly in a planned challenge to Volkswagen for European bragging rights in Australia.

The Astra is joined by the baby Corsa – once the Holden Barina – and the family-sized Insignia, previewed already by Carsguide and available as both a sedan and a wagon called the Sports Tourer.

So this is not a just a showroom launch for the Astra, even though it’s the key, but a brand launch for Opel. To put the new Opels into focus, they are not pitched back against Holden but up against Volkswagen and Peugeot and some of the upscale Japanese brands. At least, that’s the thinking by the Opel planners who have set up 17 dealers around Australia for the start of sales on September 1.

The key message from Opel is that the brand is German, led by design, and has similar strengths to Volkswagen. How buyers will react, especially as there are more than 50 different brands in Australia in 2012, is a very big question, but Opel Australia’s boss, Bill Mott, is – as you’d expect – confident.

“The countdown is over. “Customer choices are changing. We believe we have a product and a brand suited to this changing market,” says Mott. He promises a growing range and an expanding dealer network, but says Astra is the key. “We’re entering in segments which are … headed for further growth. I think it would be considerably tougher without Astra,” he says.

“This Astra is both a real help to us but, as a new brand, an issue that we’ve got to address. We have to tell the truth and tell the truth well. The truth is that Astra was here and it was always an Opel.”

VALUE

Holden dumped the Astra because it could get cheaper baby cars from Daewoo in Korea, but Opel is doing all it can to build good value into its cars. “I’m confident we have done our homework,” says Mott. It’s been helped massively by the strength of the Australia dollar, which means the bottom line for an Astra is reasonable but not outstanding.

So it runs from $23,990 for the five-door 1.4-litre petrol turbo. That’s not great when you can get a similarly-sized Toyota Corolla for less than $20,000, but it’s right in the heartland for European small cars and looks good enough against the cheapest Golf at $21,990 with less power and – Opel says – less standard equipment. The mainstream bodies are the five-door hatch and Sports Tourer wagon, while the run up the range goes to the 2-litre turbo diesel from $27,990 and the 1.6-litre turbo petrol from $28,990.

An automatic gearbox is a predictable $2000 extra and there are a variety of trim levels and option packs. But the headliner is the GTC coupe, priced from $28,990 with a 1.4 turbo or $34,90 with the punchier GTC. “We really believe the Astra GTC is a unique animal. It’s an attainable dream car.”

TECHNOLOGY

Opel has always done great engineering work, getting the basics right on the chassis and moving up from there. There is nothing revolutionary about the Astra package, but the various engines make solid power and torque, there are six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes – auto only in the Sports Tourer – Watts-link rear suspension and things like bi-Xenon lamps, alloys wheels and even an electric boot release and a system that flips the back seat flat in the wagon.

Extra equipment includes a premium centre console and even special ergonomic sports seats, as well as an adaptive lighting system with cornering lights and auto dipping. And the GTC?

The chassis is tweaked with the usual sports settings, but there is also a HiPerStrut front suspension for better grip and feedback, optional magnetically-controlled Flexride dampers – similar to those used on some HSV Commodores – and 18-inch alloys, electric power steering and more. All Astras come with Bluetooth connectivity.

DESIGN

This is a key for Opel, which wants its cars to stand out in traffic. Australian-born Nils Loeb, who heads exterior design at Opel, is special guest at the press preview of the cars and talks passionately about the company’s philosophy. “We are the emotional German brand,” he says. The cars definitely look good, and the GTC really stands out even against good lookers like the Renault Megane, but it’s the attention to detail that is most impressive.

The dashboards are more than just flat plastic panels, the switches look and feel good, and Loeb admits Opel chooses bigger wheels for its cars “Because they look good”.

SAFETY

Six airbags in all models. All cars have five-star EuroNCAP scores. Enough said.

DRIVING

Good, but not great. That’s the bottom line. Starting at the bottom, the basic Astra hatch feels rock-solid and responsive. The 1.4-litre engine is nothing special but the 1.6 has more than enough go for the job and promises fuel economy better than 8 litres/100km.

Looking around, both the hatch and Sports Tourer have impressive design and finishing – way better than the Corsa, which is like an old-generation Korean in the cabin – from the dash layout to the seat comfort. Thankfully, Opel is staying old-school with push-button switches, not a fancy iDrive-style controller, and everything you need is included from solid aircon to the Bluetooth connectivity.

The wagon is slightly more impressive than the hatch, thanks to good space in both the back seat and luggage area, and gives nothing away for driving enjoyment. But … there is wind noise, the tyres rumble a lot on nasty surfaces in regional NSW, and the general feel of the car is not as plush or refined as a Golf. It’s nice, for sure, but not any sort of a breakthrough.

Which brings us to the GTC. The headliner coupe is seriously cool, and a real looker, yet somehow there seems to have more space in the back seat than in the hatch. The basic car gets along reasonably, not that it will matter to fashion-conscious buyers, but it’s the 1.6 with FlexRide suspension that’s the one to love.

The switchable FlexRide also adjusts the steering and throttle response, taking the car from OK to keen and sharp in milliseconds. It has great grip and can easily cope with more power – as we’ll eventually confirm once Opel Australia gets a go-ahead for the hotrod OPC model. The first impression of the Astra is much as expected, particularly after so many years on the books at Holden.

The major change is more flair in the design, and a promise that fixed-price servicing will give buyers the confidence they need to commit to the cars.

VERDICT

So good, and good enough, but we’ll know more once we line the Astra up against the Golf and our current small-car favourite, the Toyota Corolla.


It may come as a surprise to most but I


Commuting by bike could earn money



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