Friday, 19 December 2008

Argento Vivo

The Sultan of Brunei gets some weird cars built for him. But hey, he's got the cash to do what he wants, right? Remember the Ferrari 456 Venice? Marvellous.
...and look what's just popped up on eBay - the Pininfarina Argento Vivo. It's a top secret project based on the 2000 model-year Mercedes SL600 chassis, with AMG brakes, suspension & gearbox and an AMG 7.3 litre V12 - the Sultan still holds two of the four cars that were built in his garages, the other two being held in secret locations in the UK. This one, located in Monaco, is the Argento Vivo that Pininfarina didn't finish - yes, it's an expensive kit car, but the Sultan paid $2.5m apiece for his...

Thursday, 18 December 2008

YellowBird at the 'Ring

Astounding in-car footage of the Ruf CTR 'YellowBird' at the Nurburgring in '87. You get the feeling that sometimes he's oversteering for the sake of it...

And here's a lovely shot of the car in question.

Fiat Strada Abarth

Why aren't modern car ads this cool...?

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Mitsuoka Himiko - it's not a Morgan

Not content with throwing the bizarre Orochi and Viewt on the world, they've now come up with the decidedly peculiar Himiko. It's based on an MX-5. It's not a Morgan.

...actually, I rather like it. But don't tell anyone.

RIP Subaru WRC

Dark times for the World Rally Championship - first Suzuki pull out, now rally linchpins Subaru have pulled the plug. With just Citroen and Ford left as the only works teams, the future looks uncertain.

We'll certainly miss the bark of flat-fours through the forests.
Farewell, Subaru. It's been emotional.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Punto confusion

As a rule, I don't like Puntos. Never have done. However, there's something effortlessly cool about this photo:

Oh dear. Now I'm having naughty thoughts about GT Turbos and rattly Italian street-racers. Tasty.

Retro through austerity

The fact that nobody's got any money these days should naturally lead to a trend for people keeping their cars for longer; this is certainly reflected in the plummeting new car sales figures. However, society seems to be taking this frugality to a logical extreme by following their dreams of classic/retro car ownership under the banner of money-saving. Whether or not the 23% rise in sales of cars from the '70s and '80s is down to more people wanting them or more people on the supply side needing to get rid of them is something you can argue amongst yourselves - the fact is that we'll see more Cortinas and Chevettes on the road instead of holed up in garages.

Friday, 5 December 2008


This has bad news written all over it.

Less than an inch tall...

Nexen have released the world's first 15-section tyre.

C'mon, that's just silly. Can you actually get any air into it, or is the rubber just painted on to the rim...?

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Fisker Karma

The Fisker Karma is generating a lot of buzz, and rightly so. Look at the stats:
  • 408bhp hybrid powertrain
  • 959 lb.ft torque available from 0mph
  • 100mpg
  • Aluminium & composite construction
  • 0-60: 5.8s
  • $88,000

All things to all men, then? It certainly seems to do everything very well in an admirably uncompromising manner, if the claims are true.

The truly arresting thing about it, however, is how it looks. The styling cues are hotchpotched together in a seemingly random way (Corvette front arches, RX-8 rear arches, BMW Z8 nose, Alfa 8C window line), yet it hangs together very well. We like.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Peugeot 205 T16

Ari Vatanen: "Just popping down the shops, dear..."

Miura Roadster resurfaces

Lamborghini only ever built one Miura Roadster... and it's suddenly become available in Switzerland.

The car appeared at the 1968 Brussels Auto Salon and created a huge amount of interest - Ferrucio Lamborghini, however, felt that a Roadster didn't fit in with the GT philosophy of the Miura (a lot of torsional rigidity would lost, plus the ensuing claims for hearing loss due to the open-top proximity of the mighty V12 would probably be more than Sant'Agata's legal division could cope with), so Bertone never even got around to designing a roof for it.

Fast forward forty years and it's up for auction. If you need to ask how much it is, you probably can't afford it.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Focus RS: bloody rapid

The news from Austria is that the 2009 Ford Focus RS will be able to hit 164mph, which is frankly bonkers in a production-spec hatchback. Nice to see the Rallye Sport division are still strongly adhered to the sell-on-Friday-race-on-Saturday ethic!

0-60 is despatched in 5.9 seconds, and there's an LSD as well as clever 'Revoknuckle' technology that will help to transmit the 300-odd horsepower through the front wheels without it torque-steering like a bastard. The cost of this lunacy? Just £25k...

Stage Fright

No preamble - I just really like this car.

Lumma CLR X 650

As if the BMW X6 wasn't stupid enough (seriously, an SUV coupe? What for?), tuning firm Lumma have decided to do this to it.

Massive engine, massive wheels, blah blah, whatever. It looks ridiculous. And did those door graphics come from Halfords...?

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Panamera: disappointing

After months of speculative photoshopping, Porsche have officially revealed images of the Panamera. It looks like a massive wasted opportunity; yes, it'll handle brilliantly and have phenomenally powerful engines, but the same is true of the Cayenne and that's just a pretentious Touareg with a 911 nose. The Panamera, unfortunately, won't be winning any beauty pageants. The nose looks like a 911 that's pulling its cheeks back with its palms, while the tail is a little too similar to the Chrysler Crossfire (which, you'll remember, a certain Mr Clarkson likened to a defecating dog).

I do quite like this press shot though. Guess why...

Friday, 21 November 2008

Why? Just... why?

Kits cars can sometimes be genuinely impressive; a GTD40, for example, is a genuine and breathtaking homage to Ford's GT40, and while every Cobra you see on the road is pretty much guaranteed to be a replica, the majority of them are home-brewed specials crafted with care and affection. Labours of love with plenty of grunt.

Sometimes, however, it goes really, really wrong. Think TR7 F40, Fiero 355, any replica Countach... or how about this? Probably the world's first replica Audi R8. You'll notice that the proportions are all wrong, the exhausts are absent and it seems generally uncomfortable. Oh, and the engine's in the wrong place. And it's front wheel drive. And it's a fucking Ford Probe underneath.

In a way, I'm sort of impressed. I couldn't think of a way to make the Probe any worse until this came along...

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Alfa Romeo 75

...for no particular reason, here's a pair of Alfa 75s. Mmm, delicious.

Beige Metros: cool.

This example is a staple of the current UK retro car scene, and well worth seeing again. To the untrained eye, it's just another OAP-spec Metro in hearing-aid beige. Look again, though - you'll see a killer stance and some nice wide banded steels... there's a turbo under the bonnet too. Very cool.

Ferrari Zobin concept

Ferrari have given very few clues with this concept - no ideas on what would power it or whether it could ever be made road legal. (It'd presumably need a lot of work in the wheelarch/headlight areas, for a start.) That's not the point though - it's nice to see manufacturers going back to the traditional idea of the concept car for the sake of the concept; showcases of design and technology rather than precursors to showroom models.

It's a thing of beauty, particularly with that swooping metal band around the nose. Sort of a cross between the Enzo-based P4/5 and the current F1 car. Bonkers as hell, and a clear sign that Ferrari still have their focus very much on form as well as function.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Fiat 500 Abarth 'Da 0 a 100'

As if the 500 Abarth wasn't sexy enough, Fiat have announced a limited run of just 101 special edition cars to celebrate 100 years since the birth of Karl Abarth. Power from the 1.4 turbo is up to 160bhp, and the quad-exhausts and 17" alloys are unique to the model, available only in Nuvolari Grey. You can even overlook the stupid name ('Da 0 a 100', meaning 'from 0 to 100', obviously) because, damn it, it's so pretty.

Despicable behaviour

The Aston Martin DB7 is a wonderful machine. OK, you can trace it's architecture back to 1975 via the Jaguar XJ-S, but it's achingly beautiful and it sowed the seeds for the current design language that permeates through the range today.

Why, then, would the unusual chaps at Alchemist think it was a good idea to gold- and platinum-plate a DB7? Is this the most expensive possible way to entirely ruin a car?

It looks like bits of it have been hand-painted with Humbrol after an accident. Fucking idiots.

Thursday, 13 November 2008


Why do Skodas have heated rear windows? To keep your hands warm while you push them. What do you call an open-top Skoda? A skip. How do you double the value of a Skoda? Fill up the petrol tank. Blah blah etc.

These hackneyed cliches were rife in Skoda's pre-VW days and, to be honest, were a little unfair. What the rear-engined Skodas represented was effectively a Porsche 911 experience for the man on the Clapham Omnibus. OK, they were cheaply built and not of the highest quality, but they offered lightweight RWD thrills that you just couldn't get anywhere else for the price.

This example, however, is a little different from your average Rapid. The Czech site that hosts the photos provides little detail, but we can see custom bodywork including a significant roof-chop, a VW VR6 engine, huge AP Racing brakes... it's a bit Marmite, but I think I rather like it. I think. Maybe.
More pics here.

SuckSqueezeBangBlow in action

This slo-mo vid shows the four-stroke process in action - fascinating stuff.

A little bit of eBay magic...

At the start of this month an eBay user in Michigan listed an old Pontiac that he'd obtained after the owner died. Rusty and dented, without an engine or transmission and looking rather sorry for itself, he began the bidding at $500.

Unbeknownst to the seller, he had a rather rare Pontiac LeMans Tempest Super Duty - one of only six ever made, and one of the last two remaining... and was almost certainly the example driven by Stan Antlocer: the fastest drag car in the world in 1963.

It's a genuine feelgood story - the guy obviously had no idea of the car's history, and was somewhat overwhelmed by the volume of people contacting him about the car. The final selling price? $226,521.63

See the listing here.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Galpin Scythe

Galpin Auto Sports, famous for their wacky Pimp My Ride custom antics, have created a monster named the Scythe... for some reason.

It's certainly technically impressive, featuring a twin-supercharged 5.0 V8 that produces a staggering 1005bhp, bespoke air-ride suspension, twin retracting steering-wheels for left- or right-hand-drive use, voice-activated computer with external cameras - it should be a masterpiece.

But it isn't. It's ugly as sin.

Scary eh? They have a hit 'n' miss record at Galpin. Some of their creations have been superb...

While some are just, well, awful...