120 years of Renault is celebrated this summer at Brussels Autoworld.

If you visit Brussels this summer, know that Europe’s capital has something in store for car lovers. Indeed, the Brussels Museum Autoworld has opened its doors every day of the week until September 2 to show you the magnificent history of Renault.

Pre-war glory: A 1937 4,1 litre 6 cylinder Vivasport… just dream away behind this sporting version of the Renault Vivastella sedan

We were present at the opening reception, and show you here some photos of the formidable and iconic cars which are on display, and we lift a brief veil on their history…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Jeep Camp in Austria was a legendary feast for 1,200 enthusiasts

We got acquainted with the Jeep Camp in Austria at the presentation of the new Wrangler. It proved also to be the ideal setting for the key event for the Jeep® Owners Group (J.O.G.) held in Austria on the weekend of July 15, attracting massive participation from all across Europe. More than 1,200 Jeep enthusiasts and 600 vehicles came together to confirm the special bond that exists between the Jeep brand and its fans. We can understand them. The Jeep bug bit us too at the presentation behind the wheel of the Wrangler…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Magnetti Marelli: the breathtaking story of automotive genius…

At the presentation of the latest Jeep Wrangler in Austria, we had an elegant and interesting conversation with Cristina Calasso, Marketing Communication Product Marketing at Magneti Marelli, who lifted for us a veil of the magnificent activities and interesting history of Magneti Marelli, a company which stood at the cradle of the automobile.

A Marelli Magneto built in the ’20s. 

She brought us also into contact with her colleague, press contact Maurizio Scrignari, and we subsequently asked him more about the history and growth of the company. So watch out in our column for more about all this soon…

Magneti Marelli is now an important producer with headquarters in Reutlingen, Germany, dedicated to the development, production and sale of automotive exterior lighting products for all major OEMs worldwide. 

All this fits into a new and interesting path we want to walk with you dear reader, into the world of the supplier’s industry. We all know that supplier firms co-engineer and make (up) more than 50 % of our modern cars, yet we pay only scant attention to them. All the more reason to open for you these new horizons on our coveted site.

In this column we start with telling you somewhat more about the actual involvement of Magneti Marelli in the engineering and production of the latest generation Jeep Wrangler…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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We drove the BMW X3 xDrive20i: again a class of its own…

With the X series model range, BMW is certainly making its mark in the SUV class. The X3 has gained already not less than 1,5 million followers all over the globe and understandably expectations are very high indeed when a successor enters the field.

The third generation of the iconic X3 range made its entry a few months ago in 2017, and we tested – in the trend of the times – the petrol engined 2 litre version, and were truly impressed by the utter refinement, smoothness and power of the drivetrain.

But that is not all, the subtly restyled body and the further perfected suspension add the necessary ingredients to make this X3 again a winner. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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A cutting-edge (art)experience in Knokke: BMW Artville

 

The city of Knokke-Heist, BOZAR and BMW strongly believe in the importance of beauty, the power of technology and the impact of art. Together they had the desire to create a place where all of this comes together. In an exceptional location and in a special setting, they invite thousands of people each year to be inspired by the work of a renowned artist, unique and much-discussed. It is the ambition to create an intriguing edition every year that warmly enchants and surprises the visitor and grows into a reference and fixed appointment in your summer agenda. In this unique and exclusive setting, visitors can also enjoy delicious tapas and a glass of wine or soft drink in addition to art.

This first edition BOZAR takes up its curatorship by putting none less than Jan Fabre at the heart of BMW ARTVILLE, the most versatile and surprising living artist in Belgium. BMW ARTVILLE immediately fulfills its central promise: ‘a cutting-edge experience’.

Just come and see it all, at BMW Artville, at the beach just in front of the casino of Knokke-Heist, from July 13 until August 26.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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The genius who designed the D Type Auto Union: Robert Eberan von Eberhorst

We treat you this time, dear reader, on a following story about famous men who changed motorsport and/or made such an important contribution to the development of the automobile, that the automotive world has never been the same again since then. Such a man was the Austrian nobleman Robert Eberan von Eberhorst. He made his mark as a formidable engineer not only before WW2, but also throughout the war and also in the fifties, and one of his post-war creations, the Aston Martin DB3 sports racing car, is still raced in historic sporting events, right until this day…

But there is so much more, just read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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We drove the new Jeep Wrangler: sheer authenticity on wheels

The Wrangler is available in two- and four door versions… 

The Jeep is the car which gave us back our freedom in WW2, and it does this ever since right to this day, with increasing authenticity.

Because it is a truly authentic and honest car, and this the Jeep was indeed from the day of its birth, what’s more, it brought the freedom to everyone behind the wheel, to choose any path and road (in life) he or she wanted.

Stroke of genius in uniting form and function…

Its original designers had a multiple stroke of genius in designing every element of this wonderful machine. Indeed, its components have been totally inspiring to many, striking a perfect balance between form and function.

Soon everything about this original “General Purpose” vehicle had become totally iconic, and it was only natural that very soon after the war, people developed a never-ending love affair with this “GP” or Jeep, an affection which has grown ever since.

The Jeep community has of course grown throughout the decades, and this inspired today’s designers to reach out for and dig ever more into the original DNA of this Jeep.

Chris Piscitelli, head of design center Jeep Brand, (see photo above) emphasized this again in his presentation at the Jeep Camp near Zeltweg.

Fourth Generation Wrangler is born for the modern day urban and adventurous purist…

With the Wrangler being the true successor of the original in its simplicity and ruggedness, it is for this model that the search for this authenticity has been much pursued. The fully redesigned Wrangler is the result of this, and as you can judge from the photos, it truly looks the part.

Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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All is well again with our BMW Z3…

Ready again for beautiful drives in summer Sunshine… 

At the moment of writing, the experts at BMW Jorssen made a swift and expert repair and brought again a broad smile on our face: we are enjoying again undisturbed roadster pleasure in this magnificent summer weather we are having presently.

We suspected rightly some troubles with the master and/or slave cylinder, and we were rather optimistic in believing that bleeding of the system might solve the problems, but alas, when all hydraulic pressure is lost in the system, most of the time more serious things are amiss.

A broken and leaking FAG-made clutch slave cylinder was at fault… 

The experts at Jorssen soon discovered that the clutch slave cylinder was indeed badly leaking and faulty. This slave cylinder is attached with two nuts on the transmission and actuates the clutch. It is manufactured by FAG, which actually belongs to the Schaeffler Group. The FAG brand dates from 1905 and stands for “Fishers Aktien-Gesellschaft.”

The clutch slave cylinder is bolted with two nuts on the tranmission… 

The two brothers Wilhelm and Georg Schaeffler who founded in 1946 INA in Herzogenaurach, took over FAG in 2002 and their firm now has grown to a worldwide giant – the second largest producer of needle bearings in the world – and manufactures amongst other things precision parts like needle bearings, hydraulic valve lifters, hydraulic variable valve timing systems. Did you know that the London Millennium Wheel (also called the London Eye), runs on two massive frictionless bearings made by FAG?

In 2003 LuK (clutches), INA and FAG form the “Schaeffler Group”. It is actually the largest German company which is still exclusively family owned.

But back to our BMW Z3. Because of the leakage, it was feared that some oil would have leaked on the clutch, but I never noticed anything indicating this, and indeed, fortunately the clutch functions perfectly and very progressively.

When the slave cylinder is removed, (see the two loose bolts) one sees clearly the hole where the cylinder is lodged, and where it pushes the clutch in open position with its pin. When mounting this cylinder, one has to be careful that this pin is perfectly centered

The repair bill was very reasonable indeed, with only 20,8 Euros charged for actually removing the old and mounting the new pump, with most of the work – costing almost 89 Euros – being involved in bleeding the hydraulic clutch system. The FAG slave cylinder itself set us back some 129 Euros. We indicate here that these prices here are ex VAT, so 21 % VAT had to be added.

Of course, the hydraulic brake fluid – DOT4 spec- was replaced, as the hydraulic system of the clutch takes its hydraulic fluid from the brake reservoir, and the people at Jorssen was even were so meticulous to also top up  coolant and windscreen spray fluid reservoirs.

The car was repaired in a day, so needless to say we were very pleased with the very swift service.

We will keep you posted, dear reader, on the further life of our Z3, and in the meantime we plan to contact the press officer in our country of the Schaeffler Group, with some questions about service life and eventual maintenance of their FAG clutch slave cylinders… we are very curious indeed!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

We drove the Mazda CX-5 194 HP AWD: Sportiness, style and refinement…

Introduced in our market in 2012, Mazda launched a second generation of its SUV bestseller in 2017. The styling is further improved, the car has more power and handling is now even more inviting than ever. The CX-5 is besides this sportiness also a very refined SUV, with very low interior noise levels and offering roominess and comfort. We drove the top Skycruise equipment level with AWD, 6 speed auto and a very impressive 2.5 liter SKYACTIV engine, and needless to say, this CX-5 proved a very charming companion indeed…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Our cars: clutch problems with our BMW Z3…

Our Z3 was towed to BMW Dealer Jorssen with a non functioning clutch…

A torn muscle prevented us for a while to drive our BMW Z3, and with things now having been cured after a necessary rest, it was now time for driver and car to take an exercise run again and flex our legs…

On another shakedown tour we noticed already that the gear changes were a bit difficult, and we decided to have another test today. Startup and the first kilometers were flawless, but at a roundabout the clutch refused all functions, and the pedal had a light, “dead” feeling, meaning indeed that the clutch did not separate at all anymore and hydraulic pressure was lost in the system, with the result that changing gears proved impossible.

It so happed (luck has it) that we were quite close – at walking distance – to the Jorssen dealer where we had brought the Z3 last time to have rubber items replaced and our glove box lock repaired, and so we went there, to hear that they provided no towing service. Fortunately, we are booked at KBC Bank Assistance Service, and they provided swift, kind and efficient help. They brought the car to BMW Jorssen, where it now awaits repair…

Most probably it will be necessary bo bleed the clutch system, as air in the clutch hydraulics can make the system quite stubborn to function, it at all. Bleeding the slave cylinder might do it, pushing in the piston manually with the bleeder valve open, then close it, let the piston come out again totally, then push again, open the bleeder and watch the hydraulic fluid come out. Repeat this several times, and resistance will increase, (which you will feel in your clutch pedal) until the air is out and the system is bleeded.

We will see what the experts will tell us! Of course, we will keep you posted!

Hans Knol ten Bensel