Saturday, 28 February 2009

MX-5 V6/V8/V12

There's a lot you can do to make the MX-5 quicker - supercharging, turbocharging, full-on race prepping... or you could just wang in a Jaguar V12 engine. Can't be that hard, can it?

Build thread here.

If you're after a little more refinement, you could halve the number of cylinders and still have a lot of fun - like this guy:

Not sure how he only manages to get 180bhp out of a 2.5 V6 on GSX-R throttle bodies, but it certainly sounds good!

Or if you want to get really hairy-chested, how about putting a Chevy LS1 V8 in there?

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Chevrolet Bel Air 'Inciner8or'

This is quite a famous street rod that you may have seen before... but it's just popped up on eBay, so it could be yours! If you've got $145,000 to spare, that is.
It's a '57 Chevrolet Bel Air with an LS1 V8 and eight turbos. That's right, eight. One turbo for each cylinder. It's a genuine example of we did it because we can engineering, and also features a sumptuous custom interior, a one-off tube chassis with C4 Corvette suspension and bucketfuls of awesomeness. Almost inevitably, you'll have to collect it from Las Vegas.
Click here for more info, and here to stick a bid in.

Rinspeed E2

The Fiat 500 is a lovely little car, and Rinspeed are a marvellously zany outfit. It's quite exciting to see that the the latter has taken on the former to create the E2.
The point of the car is to demonstrate a perceived willingness to be environmental while actually driving quite a fast car - a brilliant win-win situation. A knob on the dash switches you to commuting mode, whereby you only have 60bhp to play with but you get 70mpg in return; turning the knob to full-power mode will halve your mpg figure but give you access to a rather fruity 160bhp - 25bhp up on factory standard. So you can zip around at silly speeds without annoying Al Gore. Great.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Audi TT RS

May all references to hairdressers be banished forever - the TT has realised its potential.
Debuting at Geneva will be the latest in Audi's lineup of ballistic and barely-legal road racers, the TT RS. It sees a return to a classic Audi format - the inline five-cylinder engine & quattro drivetrain - with promise of around 340bhp. The engine itself is effectively one bank of their V10 engine with a whacking great turbo strapped to it, which should provide more than ample playfulness along with an aurally pleasing mix of barks and whistles. The suspension and brakes are, naturally, beefed up to cope with the thrust. The gaping vents on the nose echo those of the R8 and the general feeling of menace is palpable.
Hang on, though... isn't that the rear spoiler from a Nissan 350Z?

Omega male

It's always nice to see sublime results from something mundane. Who'd have thought that the humble Omega could have the potential to be an attention-grabbing speed monster? Have a look at this estate, complete with BMW 5.0 V12:

There's more info on that one here. And look what their next project is - an Omega with a Dodge Viper V10 and 22" wheels... interesting combo.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Alfa Mito GTA

Alfa are set to showcase a near-production ready Mito GTA at the Geneva show. After much excited speculation over the likelihood of Alfa spicing up their beautiful new baby with the legendary GTA treatment, they haven't disappointed. The Mito GTA offers an impressive 240bhp (more than enough to crushingly humiliate the pricier Mini John Cooper Works) from its 1750cc turbo four, an engine developed by Fiat Powertrain Technologies.

As well as throwing a bucketful of power at the Mito, Alfa have stripped out an impressive amount of weight (the A in GTA does, after all, stand for Alleggerita) with a BMW CSL-style carbon-fibre roof and spoilers and extensive use of aluminium in the chassis, suspension and braking system. Let's just hope their Q2 differential finds its way in there to eliminate some of the inevitable epic torque-steer...

Monday, 23 February 2009

Dolomite Sprint / Panther Rio

Anyone can look cool in a Dolomite...

...and here's a little curiosity you may not have heard of - the Panther Rio. The idea was novel - a handcrafted luxury car based on the Dolly Sprint. Unfortunately, the eye-watering price and the general it's-still-a-Dolomite-underneath snobbishness led to them only selling 38 of them. But there is one on eBay at the moment...

Escort 1600 Sport

When it comes to rapid old Escorts, it's generally the RS2000 and the Mexico that get most of the attention. However, having spotted a beautiful 1600 Sport in this month's Retro Cars I've suddenly got a real craving for an orange mkII Sport. Check out this caged and forest-arched example I found on PassionFord. Beautiful.

Auto Union racers

Seventy years old and still as glorious as ever: startling noise, timeless design and, by the looks of it, not that easy to drive...

Goodwood Revival

The Revival is always an exceptional event - period racing with period attractions - make sure you turn up in period costume! You can buy tickets here.

Carlsson W123

This looks like a huge amount of fun.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

New F1 rules

Confused about the FIA's changes to the Formula One regulations for 2009? Allow Webber and Vettel to explain it in simple terms in this brilliant animation from Red Bull Racing - click here to view.

Alfa Romeo 164 Procar

Here's a glorious glimpse of what could have been...

The Procar series was posited as a support race for Formula One in 1988, but was swiftly canned. Alfa Romeo were the only manufacturer to build a prototype for the series - the car you see in the pictures is the 164 Procar, developed with Motor Racing Developments Ltd (the company behind the Brabham F1 team).

Yes, that is a 600bhp mid-mounted V10 you can see there. You can read more here (if you speak German), and click the last picture below for specs.

4,360 miles in five days

A lovely tale from Troy Paiva - an epic road trip just for the hell of it. You can read all about it here. He took some amazing photos on his travels - see the examples below.
I'd really love to do something like this one day...

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Japanese Renault 4

The Renault 4 is a slice of Gallic history, an icon that you rarely see on the road these days. Styling firm DAMD have paid tribute to it using the Japanese-market Suzuki Lapin as a base. As well as adding a Renault 4-style grille to the nose, they've created custom-made wings and bonnet to soften the shape appropriately, as well as rub strips and miniature rear light clusters to mimic the original. It's a bit Marmite, sure, but I think it's very cool indeed.

Superbowl ads

The Superbowl broadcast always acts as a showcase for a raft of new ads - here are a few of the highlights this year...

A sweet little one from Bridgestone.

Hyundai Genesis - not a car I'd ever really want, but this makes me quite fancy having a go in one.

This Toyota ad made laugh just because he keeps saying 'tranny' in a butch voice.

World's most tedious man

Click here - this whole story leaves me flabberghasted. Not only does he spend far too much time cleaning his car (seriously, just get out there and drive it!), but he's also documented every single buff and polish in agonising detail. The bit where he measures the depth of the paint made me cringe, and the fact that his wheels 'concern' him because he cleans them 4 or 5 times a week and it takes 90 minutes a time is frankly absurd.

World's fastest Cossie

To look at the exterior, you'd assume that this is just your average mildly tweaked Sapphire Cosworth. A peek through the window certainly wouldn't suggest anything overly outlandish - the interior's still there, so it can't be a racer...

...ah, but it has a secret. This Sierra will get to 60mph in 4.09s, 100mph in 6.86s and 200mph in 24.51s. That's right. 200mph in a Sapphire.

It's got around 900bhp and has taken over a decade to develop - you can read all about it here.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Bloody hell

Next time a plumber's van pulls alongside you at the lights, don't assume you'll get an easy win. This one, for example, has 880hp. Gulp.

Rinspeed „iChange“

Rinspeed are famed for making cars that are a bit, well, odd. Click here to have a look through some of their bizarre creations (choose 'concept cars' on the left for a chronological gallery).

Their latest, the „iChange“ [sic], works on the principal that passenger space is wasted unless you're actually using it. At the touch of a button it can transform from a streamlined single-seater to a slightly more bulbous three-seater.

It is, as one would expect, stuffed with innovative technology. Weighing in at just over 1000kg, its electric motor propels it from 0-62mph in under four seconds. The custom heating system runs on very low voltage for short journeys, and is supplemented by an ethanol-powered system that doesn't sap engine power for longer journeys. The interior's trimmed with pure wool (what else?!) and the roof is made of solar panels.

Oh... and it looks bonkers. You wouldn't expect any less from Rinspeed.

Fiat 500C

It's very easy to ruin a hatchback by trying to turn it into a convertible. The Punto springs immediately to mind - everything about it is a little bit wrong. The new Mini also jarred a little on the eyes when it became d├ęcapotable - it just seems a shame to kill the handling dynamics of a small hatch (which, let's face it, is one of the strongest cards they have to play) for the sake of a fabric roof.

Good news, then, that Fiat have put some thought into the 500C. Rather than going for a full cabrio, they're echoing the lines of the original '57 500 by allowing the roof to slip back on rails while the structure and shape of the car is retained by not omitting the B- and C-pillars.

The canvas roof incorporates a cunning third brake light that sits at a high level when the roof's up, yet remains visible at the top of the bootlid when it's down. Fiat have also stated that the 500C will have clever new stop-start technology (switching the engine off when stationary, then popping back into life when a gear is selected), and the alloys they've added to this demo model are extremely pretty. The 500 cuts a handsome profile - it's encouraging to see that they haven't killed the looks by losing the roof. You might even, in fact, call it an improvement...

Monday, 16 February 2009

Racing gold

This is genius.

Mmm, summery

While we wait for the weather to perk up a bit, here's a cheery sunny picture that put a big smile on my face. (Click pic to enlarge)

'It's the biggest news since the Mini...'

Now that is quite a claim.

Friday, 13 February 2009

BMW 5-series GT

In BMW's enthusiasm to create increasingly horrifying cars (see the X6), they've decided for some reason to turn the 5-series saloon into a lumpen, ugly hatchback. This is only a concept at the moment but, knowing BMW, they'll be flogging the bastards to the blinded-by-badges yummy mummies of Chelsea and Fulham in no time.
The interior is particularly confusing - who thought it would be a good idea to use every single disparate material in the workshop...? Odd, just plain odd.

Alan Mann Scalextric

Everyone had Scalextric as a kid, right? It's one of those formative things that every child needs to ensure that they're interested in healthy competition, cars, electricity and pulling little burnouts by lifting the cars' rear-ends up slightly and holding the trigger down. Brilliant. I had the two coolest sets (in my young mind, anyway) - Mighty Metros, which featured two 6R4s, and Night Stages, which had two XR3is with working headlights. Ah, happy days.

Well, if anything's going to reignite that flame in your juvenile heart, it's the special edition Alan Mann set, including a mkI Escort and a Lotus Cortina in the classic red & gold livery. You can pre-order it here. A thing of beauty indeed.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Maybach Zeppelin

Here's what the world needs - another Maybach. It's kind of the same as the old one, except this one has a £3,500 perfume atomiser (essential for squirting Jordan's Besotted into your plutocratic nostrils whensoever you should deem it necessary), lambskin carpets and a twin-turbo 6.0 V12 that'll ensure that, with such a long wheelbase, it'll feel extremely powerful without actually having a shred of driveability or entertaining chassis dynamics. But then, if you're the sort of person who'd splash out £425,000 on the Zeppelin 62, you're not going to be the one driving it.