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Friday Fun: Rolls-Royce gets personal; cars may be ransomware targets

A crashed Lambo on the streets of Vancouver caught some attention this week. As a story in the National Post notes, 'the detailer on this neon green Lambhorgini did a bang-up job. But so did the driver.'

By Jeff Sanford

Toronto, Ontario — June 1, 2017 — This week’s Friday Fun takes a look at the worst roads in Ontario and across the country, how Rolls-Royce’s “Sweptail” is the automotive version of haute couture, why cars may be the next big ransomware target and much, much more!

– Pictures ran in the National Post recently of a Lamborghini that hit a fire hydrant downtown. According to the report, “Vancouverites got an extended look at a six-figure sports car on Tuesday after a Lamborghini collided with a fire hydrant at the corner of Georgia and Bute Street … It’s a cringeworthy sight, troubling even, when one considers that the vehicle appears to be fresh off the lot. A temporary license plate is visible in the front window, indicating the vehicle is likely brand new, even if it no longer looks brand new …”

– The Washington Times reports a “… man is in police custody after leaving the scene of a hit-and-run and barricading himself in a Philadelphia auto body shop.” Investigators say the unidentified suspect rear-ended a van Tuesday evening. “A witness said the suspect nearly hit two children while fleeing the scene … Police say a good Samaritan followed the suspect as he drove through the city at speeds up to 60 mph … The person confronted the driver when he pulled over, and the suspect responded by pulling out a knife then a gun before driving off again. Police say the man then barricaded himself inside an auto body shop. The suspect surrendered peacefully after 45 minutes and was taken into police custody.”

Repairer Driven News picked up a story from the UK’s Daily Mail about a documentary film that claims the Mercedes S280 that Princess Diana was riding in when she died in an accident had, “… been totaled and then rebuilt before her fatal crash.” The newspaper notes that, “…the S280 [involved in the crash] had been stolen by a prisoner ‘on remand’ in 1995 and rolled several times at 100 mph … The car was condemned as scrap, but finally recovered by a mechanic who repaired it and then resold it …” A technical expert quoted in the story said the car, “should not have remained on the road, despite being re-built … It was ‘not reparable’ and ‘dangerous’, the expert added, as he offered a view that was supported by insurance brokers …” The report goes on to note that, “Specifically, there were no signs of patches of adhesive, no non-original holes drilled into the bodyshell and no unusual wiring, other than that apparently added for the telephone system fitted [by request] … Nothing considered likely to have affected control of the car during the approach to the crash was found … But the new allegations suggest that had things gone a little differently Aug. 31, 1997, we’d be surprisingly close to the nightmare scenario collision professionals have warned about: A sloppy repair compromises the integrity of a vehicle … This should both reinforce our point about external scrutiny of vehicles in high-profile crashes and demonstrate why even greater precision, care and adherence to OEM repair procedures is needed in a shop than 20 years ago.”

– A study reported in the UK media finds that an, “… estimated 384,000 vehicles were written off by insurers in Britain last year, meaning one every 90 seconds on average … Data analysed by Churchill Car Insurance also reveals that more than 1,000 cars a day last year were assessed as damaged beyond repair. That means that remarkably one in 83 drivers in Britain had their car written off … Of all the car insurance claims last year, 57 percent came from men, with men under the age of 25 being almost twice as likely to have a car written off than any other age group.”

– CAA has released its annual ranking of the worst roads in Ontario. The winner of the dubious distinction of “Ontario’s Worst Road for 2017” is (drumroll, please) … Burlington Street East in Hamilton! Take a bow, Steeltown!

Taking second on CAA’s annual list is Dufferin Street in Toronto—the street is regularly at the top of this list. Rounding out the top three is Lorne Street in Sudbury. According to the CAA press release, “Burlington Street East has risen progressively higher up the top 10 list since it first appeared on the CAA Worst Roads list in 2009. Dufferin Street has made nine appearances on the provincial top ten list since the campaign’s inception.”

CAA reports that over 3,000 roads were nominated this year, the highest number since the organization started the campaign.

Ontario’s Top 10 Worst Roads for 2017
1. Burlington Street East (Hamilton)
2. Dufferin Street (Toronto)
3. Lorne Street (Sudbury)
4. Maley Drive (Sudbury)
5. Queenston Street (St. Catharines)
6. Algonquin Boulevard West (Timmins)
7. Hunt Club Road (Ottawa)
8. TIE – Carling Avenue (Ottawa) AND Duckworth Street (Barrie)
9. TIE – Algonquin Boulevard East (Timmins) AND Yonge Street (Toronto)
10. County Road 49 (Prince Edward County)

The full list of 2017 Worst Roads can be found at caaworstroads.com.

– Transport Canada released some chilling data on crashes this week. According to a CBC report, “Every four hours someone in Canada dies in a road crash … The majority of those deaths happen on roads with a speed limit higher than 60 km/hr.” The article goes on to list the five most dangerous highways in Canada:

• Highway 63, Alberta. “Since 2006, about 50 people have died on this 240-km stretch of highway, which links the Edmonton area to the Alberta oilsands,” according to Canadian Press.

• Highway 401, Windsor to London, Ont. “Nicknamed Carnage Alley in the 1990s because of numerous crashes, Highway 401 between Windsor and London runs straight through a nondescript, boring agricultural landscape … On the first morning of Labour Day weekend in 1999, this stretch saw the worst pileup in the country’s history. The collisions, in very dense fog, involved 87 vehicles and left eight people dead and 45 injured,” according to the story.

• Highway 401, Pickering to Oshawa, Ont. “According to data collected by the Ontario Provincial Police, the section of the 401 east of Toronto, between Whites Rd. in Pickering, and Courtice Rd., just east of Oshawa, has the highest number of traffic accidents in the province.”

• Autoroute 40, Quebec. This highway, one of two main routes between Montreal and Quebec City, has long been known for its deteriorating road conditions.

• Highway 103, Nova Scotia. “Running along the south shore between Halifax and Yarmouth, Highway 103 earned the reputation as Nova Scotia’s deadliest higway, following 29 deaths between 2006 to 2008.”

– As cars become ever more computerized, technology experts are warning that car makers have, “… neglected to install the same levels of security found in other modern devices—such as phones and laptops,” according to a story by Consumer Reports.

According to the Executive Director of a group called the Future of Automotive Security Technology Research (FASTR), this is leaving cars open to the possibility of suffering a ransomware event. In these types of crimes a hacker takes over a computer (or car) and then demands a payment from the owner to return control of the device to the owner. According to a story that quotes the head of FASTR, “One possible scenario involves hackers installing malware into a vehicle’s operating system, perhaps through an unprotected internet connection, and locking out the driving functions … A driver might find his or her car unable to start. A message pops on the control screen with instructions for how to pay a ransom to make the vehicle start again.”

The story goes on to note that, “FASTR has been tracking the threat … In a survey of its members published in February, the group predicted that a vehicle-based ransomware attack would take place in the real world sometime this year.” The story also notes that “The FBI issued a warning in March 2016 to automakers and consumers to ‘maintain awareness of potential issues and cybersecurity threats related to connected vehicle technologies in modern vehicles.’”

– Rolls-Royce continues to offer formerly unheard of levels of exclusivity. According to a story by Autoweek, “For the right amount of money, Rolls will do a one-and-done luxury car like the Sweptail, introduced over the weekend at the Concorso d’Elegamza at Villa d’Este … A well-heeled individual, whom Rolls has declined to name, came to the company with an idea for a two-seat Roller that channels the cars of the 1920s with a ‘swept-up’ rear end.” 

According to the story, “The client wanted a panoramic glass roof, two seats and the swept rear. The inspiration came from a mix of sources, including the 1925 Phantom I Round Door by coachbuilder Jonckheere, the 1934 Phantom II Streamline Saloon by Park Ward, the 1934 Gurney Nutting Phantom II Two Door Light Saloon and the 1934 Limousine coup.” According to a Rolls spokesperson, “Our job was to guide, edit and finely hone the lines that would ultimately give our client this most perfect of Rolls-Royces.”

Forbes reports on the efforts of car makers to get the Iranian government to change the definition of a “luxury” car in the country. “What’s the definition of luxury? To many people the word will provoke thoughts of designer clothes, a five-star hotel or perhaps a Michelin-starred restaurant. In Iran it’s a car with a 2.5 litre engine … According to Iranian import regulations, any car with an engine that big or larger is classified as a luxury item and imports of them have been banned since 2014.”

The head of the Iranian Automobile Importers Association was quoted as saying, “The definition of luxury cars is misplaced and wrong … However policy makers still insist on their own outlook. No [other] country cites technical specifications as criteria for labeling goods as luxury.”

 

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