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...

RenaultSport Megane R26.R

When I test drove the snappily-named RenaultSport Megane 230 F1 Team R26 last year I was, frankly, bloody impressed - you can see how excited I was here. Hugely thrilling news, then, that they've made an even more hardcore and track-focused version. Renault claim that the R26.R is to the R26 what the Porsche 911 GT3 RS is to the standard GT3, i.e. lighter, faster, more extreme, more raw, more frightening, more exclusive and a lot more entertaining.

271lbs have been sheared from it, involving the removal of all the sound deadening, the rear seats, fog lamps, headlamp washers, passenger airbag, rear wiper, stereo... the rear windows have been replaced with polycarbonate, the bonnet is carbonfibre and the exhaust is titanium.

Continuing the racer-for-the-road theme, we find a substantial GT3 RS-esque rollcage finished in lurid red and carbonfibre-shelled Sabelt racing buckets with six-point harnesses.

Power and torque figures remain the same as the R26, but the reduced weight and track-biased setup allowed it to set a new world-record for FWD cars at the Nurburgring, lapping in 8m17s.

Want one? Of course you do. But you'd better get in quick - only 230 are coming to the UK.

Oh... and those decals are a delete option. Although it really does look scarier with them.

The future of cop cruisers?

American police cars are generally of the thirsty/sturdy/bulky ilk - picture the Dodge Monaco from the Blues Brothers, for example, or any of those 'Police! Stop! Now! Shit!'-type shows where you see fishtailing swarms of chunky saloons barging miscreants from the highway and scraping their door-handles on the asphalt when they squeal around corners.

Well, how about this angry little bastard for a 21st century replacement? Carbon Motors have unveiled their E7 prototype in the hope of providing a slightly greener alternative for the police forces of the US - it has a (comparatively) economical turbodiesel engine - shock, horror! - that kicks out 300bhp and should hit 60 in 6 seconds, while munching through rather less fuel than the standard V8 barges in general use.

It's got suicide doors and clusters of LEDs, night-vision and infra-red, and even shotgun mounts.

Christ, though - how cheesy is this?!

'Pure Justice Tour'? Yeesh.

Mirror-finish Veyron

No. Just... no.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Dodge Challenger SRT10

Just when we thought the new Challenger couldn't get any more desirable, Dodge tantalise us with the SRT10 concept.

Powered by the 8.4 litre V10 from the Viper, it features Brembo brakes, Bilstein suspension, lots of carbonfibre... and 600bhp. Astonishing.

More SEMA silliness

Spotted at the SEMA show was this, er, interesting Hummer on individual caterpillar tracks. Tacky? Oh, hell yes.

Still, blingy as it is, it's probably a damn sight more practical than this one I spotted at the MPH show...

Monday, 10 November 2008

Toyota Aygo Crazy

The Toyota Aygo is a sensible proposition if you want a cheap city runabout and you're not really interested in driving as recreation - if internal combustion is a mere means to mobility for you, you're happy to be in a cheap little box that's easy to park and delivers 60+mpg.
The Aygo shares its platform with the Peugeot 107 and Citroen C1, so the economies of scale are there to be exploited. It has no non-essential clutter, it costs about seven grand and it's not going to get nicked.

However, Toyota are cheeky little scamps. They love to show us that they have a sense of fun. Behold, then, the Aygo Crazy. Look past the agonising pun and you'll find a beefed-up Aygo with wide arches, a chunky rear spoiler and some bizarre sixth-form-project sprayed-on graphics. What's going on here, exactly...?

Well, the modifications go way beyond skin-deep. The (presumably rather baffled) Toyota boffins hauled out the puny little engine and replaced it with the 1.8 VVT-i unit from the Celica. And for good measure, they turbocharged it. Oh, and they mounted it in the middle of the car.

Furthermore, the Crazy has monster carbon Brembo brakes, significantly widened track and a stripped out interior with a very serious-looking rollcage. Everything considered frivolous - power steering, ESP, even the brake servo - has been torn out, leaving the little brute weighing in at a mere tonne.

What's the point of it? Well, it's just a bit of fun really. They've only made one, and that's just to show that they can.
And why the hell not?