Friday, 30 April 2010

Scrappage scheme banger racing

I'm in two minds about banger racing; whilst I have a soft spot for any form of motorsport and enjoy the spectacle of numerous cars smashing into each other, it does give a little wrench of sadness to see what are sometimes reasonably rare cars being unceremoniously sent to the great scrapyard in the sky. Then again, you can't save them all, and it would be quite a hypocritical standpoint for me to take, given that I'm making no effort at present to save or restore anything.
Anyway, the guys at Car Dealer Magazine had a neat idea - they took the poster boy of the scrappage scheme (itself accused of killing countless irreplaceable classics), the Hyundai i10, prepped it for racing and, well, led it like a lamb to the slaughter. Thoroughly entertaining.

It's also interesting to learn exactly what's meant by the phrase 'pre-production model'. Did you know...?

Chrysler Valiant Charger

The Chrysler Valiant Charger, produced in Australia from 1971-78, encapsulates all of the elements that were integral to contemporary American muscle cars: bold two-door coupe styling, eye-watering colour schemes, iconic graphics and levels of tyre-shredding power that meant buyers could drive it straight from the showroom to the dragstrip. But there was one element that was fundamentally different, one that would have been anathema in Detroit: it had a six-cylinder engine. Despite the two cylinder defecit, it was the quickest new Aussie car up the strip, clocking a time of 14.4s for the quarter-mile. Brilliantly, its lighter engine meant that the handling was better than the V8s of the time - so it wasn't all about straight lines.

The 4.3-litre slant-six of the Charger R/T ran three twin-choke 45 Webers, producing 302bhp. This allowed a 0-60mph time of 6.1s and a top speed of 132mph. The Valiant Charger was also available with, among countless other options on the list, finned brake drums and a long-range fuel tank. So every Australian had the chance to own their own little piece of Bathurst.

Abarth Trofeo on two wheels

More impressive than the impromptu stunt driving is the fact that he doesn't lift. That's commitment.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

No Man's Land - car chase

Questionable movie, excellent car chase.

'Marilyn' - 217mph '68 Monaro

Wayne Pickles has recently taken this 1968 Holden HK Monaro, nicknamed 'Marilyn', to an astonishing 217.155mph on the salt flats of Lake Gairdner, Australia. Details of the full engine spec are unavailable, but the noise speaks for itself...

1994 WRC - pure sound

YouTube legend amjayes' admirable mission to document seemingly the entire history of rallying with the original engine sounds intact continues with aplomb... behold, a beautiful montage of the 1994 World Rally Championship.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

De Tomaso Longchamp

The Longchamp is a forgotten relic of an era in which the (somewhat niche) luxury muscle GT market was all but crushed by the oil crisis. Aston Martin's V8 Vantage was the poster boy of post-embargo excess, combining quality coachbuilding and plush accoutrements with rumbling eight-banger thunder... but De Tomaso had been cooking from that recipe since 1972. The Ghia-designed Longchamp was hand-built by Italian craftsmen, and continued De Tomaso's tradition of melding Latin flair with angry American thrust, being powered by Ford's 351ci (5.8-litre) Cleveland V8.

Producing 330bhp and giving a top speed of 149mph, it was the same engine as was used in the manic Pantera supercar, although in the Longchamp it was front-mounted and complemented by a luxurious and cosseting interior. The ultimate iteration, the GTS, was unveiled at the 1980 Turin Motor Show, featuring lowered and stiffened suspension and wider Campagnolo wheels, while the Ford-sourced headlights were swapped for Audi Quattro units. The wider wheels necessitated bigger arches, an issue solved by the almost slapdash addition of plastic arch extensions which, rather than looking tacky, actually finish off the muscular look of the car rather nicely.

Never seen one on the roads? That's not surprising. Between 1972-89, just 409 Longchamps were built.

n.b. The wheels pictured are aftermarket items, rather than the standard GTS Campagnolos.

Matt Neal vs. Rob Collard

If you watched the recent Thruxton round of the BTCC, you'll have seen Matt Neal's kamikaze overtake move on Rob Collard, resulting in the latter smacking into the Armco while Neal hightailed it off into the distance...

If you were Collard, you'd be pissed off. He must be taking it personally by now, too - here's Neal taking him out at Knockhill last year:

Keep an eye on Rob this season - he's surely out for revenge.


The Ford vs. Holden debate in New Zealand is as big as Ford vs. Chevy in the US or Ford vs. Vauxhall in the UK. It's a really big deal.

To try to resolve the divisive issue once and for all, NZ radio station The Rock - motto: 'bands, babes, balls 'n' bull' - devised a crowdsourced project to create a hybrid of the two - a Folden. This would incorporate the listeners' suggestions of the best elements of the two brands in one automotive supergroup.
After three months of graft, with dozens of businesses involved and around $90k spent (and much criticism and various death threats received), they ended up with the nose of a '69 Mustang grafted onto a Holden HQ, with a 302ci Ford V8 and countless bespoke touches.
It's now being auctioned off - click here - with the proceeds going to the NZ Mental Health Foundation.

This was an inspired project - rather than simply inflaming and perpetuating the bickering between the two camps, the Folden has resonance that will echo through the ages. It's like the signing of a peace treaty. Its new owner will probably feel a bit edgy taking it to partisan car meets, though...

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Talladega fireball

I have to admit, I'm not a massive NASCAR fan - while the thought of dozens of huge-horsepower muscle cars barging each other at 200mph is tremendously appealing, I just can't get that enthused by the generally processional nature of it. Then again, occasionally something really exciting will happen... like this:

Ford Fiesta S1600

Ford have a strong association with cool, iconic racing stripes on their fancier models; think the thick side-stripes of the mkI Escort RS2000, the twin bands of the Ford GT and, of course, the aftermarket zebra flashes that were so popular on RS Turbos and Sapphire Cosworths in the nineties.

And so it goes with the new Fiesta S1600. The spec of the car isn't hugely impressive - the 118bhp 1.6-litre of the Zetec-S helps to just about pull the skin off any rice puddings that may be following - but it does look pretty darn spiffy with those stripes, doesn't it?


They don't call the Nürburgring 'the Green Hell' for nothing - if you don't respect it, it'll chew you up and spit you out.

Monday, 26 April 2010

British Drift Championship - Silverstone 2010

Some beautifully shot footage here of round one of the 2010 BDC. (View in fullscreen for maximum effect!)

MAXXIS Tyres BDC Round 1 - SILVERSTONE from Stephen Brooks on Vimeo.

Goodwood hillclimb - frantic, yet graceful

Here we have two very different approaches to climbing the hill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The first video shows how the Pikes Peak Audi Quattro S1 lays down its 600bhp with grace and composure - an interesting contrast to the generally frantic nature of Group B rallying. The second, with Nick Heidfeld driving a 2003 McLaren-Mercedes MP4-17, demonstrates a level of manic, focused performance that you really only see in Formula One.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Porsche 911T Rallye

The ubiquity of the Ford Escort in historic rallying means that the Porsche 911 is, in many ways, a forgotten champion. For fresh 21st-century eyes, the sight of a 911 on the rally stages seems incongruous, as the model has increasingly morphed from sports car to supercar, but it's worth remembering that the plucky Stuttgart contender won the Monte Carlo rally three years running between 1968-70, among many other victories.

The example pictured here features the typical spec of the late-sixties/early-seventies 911s - the 12-plug 906 flat-six produces 210bhp, while 911S mechanicals are fitted into the lighter 911T shell to improve the power-to-weight ratio. Always fancied a 2.7 Carrera RS? You're looking at its father here...

Monster's Street Fighting Man

Vaughn Gittin Jr is the very definition of drift precision - check out the audacious overtake at 1m20s.

Vaughn Gittin Jr: Monster’s Street Fighting Man from Drift Alliance on Vimeo.

Extreme camber

This is rapidly becoming one of the online car fraternity's most shared clips. Yes, it's ridiculous... but it's pretty bloody impressive that he's got it to work!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Subaru Civic WRX

The EG Honda Civic is a decent enough car... but wouldn't it be better if it was four-wheel drive and had a turbo'd flat-four? Well, all you need to do is cut the body off, graft it onto the chassis of a slightly bent Subaru Impreza WRX, do a bit of cutting, welding, fabricating and painting, and voila - you've got a Civic WRX. Click here to see how this superb little sleeper was built - there should be final pics and videos up there soon.

Audi R8 Spyder - Beauty and the Beasts

This new ad for the R8 Spyder is a bit strategically disjointed. The 'mirror, signal, outmanoeuvre' endline isn't that impressive when it's outmanoeuvring a load of old hot rods that are being portrayed as far inferior... but actually look awesome. Still, it's very cool to watch.

You can see the 'making of' video here.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

It's a big, sensible grown-up's luxobarge. But it sounds like a race car. And it goes like one too.

That'll be the 518bhp 6.3-litre V8...

Supercharged mkI Fiesta

We start with an unassuming mkI Fiesta. Looks harmless, no?

But Turbosport user mike105e could see the potential in it. With the skilled addition of a supercharged Zetec, stripped interior with cage and buckets, chunky arches and countless custom touches, he turned it into this:

Click here to see how he did it.

Pikes Peak Toyota Tacoma

This is a Toyota Tacoma in name only. The 2.1-litre engine produces 1,000hp, and it'll get to 60mph in 1.6 seconds, and 125mph in 4.9. Built by Rod Millen in 1998, it won the Pikes Peak Unlimited class in '98 and '99. I'm proud to say I was in the crowd in the following video, cheering him on at the Goodwood Festival of Speed back in 2007.

Just look how hard it is to drive, darting from side to side under acceleration, squirming under braking... imagine driving it up the hellishly perilous Pikes Peak. Rod Millen has balls of steel.

Cutlass Supreme lowrider

The tale of Eryk's Cutlass Supreme is one of vision and unparalleled painting skills. Having owned the car for six years or so, he decided it was time for a bit of a spruce up. Sitting lower on airbags for the classic lowrider stance, he turned his attention to the tired paintwork... and things rapidly spiralled out of control. Here's how it started off:

And here are the various stages of paint, through to the finished article.

Full details here. (Via Mechanical Mammouth)

Monday, 19 April 2010

Buick Streamliner

The Streamliner is an ethereal beast, its name whispered by automotive designers as something mystical and revered. It was a one-off built in the late forties by a mechanical engineer and Indy 500 designer named Norman E. Timbs. Powered by Buick's Super-8 engine, Timbs designed the chassis and bodywork from scratch, taking aerodynamic influences from Mercedes and Auto Union grand prix cars. The engine was mounted in the rear - pushing the cockpit forward - and accessed via a hinged wraparound panel. Eschewing the chrome, fins and imposing proportions fashionable in the automotive sphere at the time, the Streamliner was simple, neat and uncluttered. And achingly beautiful.
Truly a unique design, as desirable today as it was when the world first saw it in 1948.

Sierra RS Cosworth - pure sound

The original 3-door Cossie wasn't just the king of the BTCC - it got tremendously sideways on the rally stages too...


BMW purists hate him. Nissan fans hate him too. And everyone hates his rancid paintwork. But Christian Newman doesn't care. He's spent four years building an outrageous BMW E30 that takes cues from all manner of tuning scenes; basing the project on a 325is, he's fitted the RB26DETT from an R32 Skyline GTR, upgrading every conceivable facet of the car to create something unique with an absurdly lengthy spec list. You can see the unbelievably detailed build diary here.

Ferrari 599 GTO

The GTO name is one that needs to be treated with care. Other manufacturers may take monikers that tell a glorious story and paste them onto inferior, disappointing and unworthy cars (an easy example: 205 GTI vs. 207 GTI), but Ferrari, fortunately, have sufficient dignity and decency not to do this.
The 599 GTO carries on the bloodline of such great models as the 250 GTO and the 288 GTO, taking the Enzo-engined GT as a base and making it infinitely more scary. It's basically a road-going version of the hardcore 599XX - it's lighter, faster, sleeker, pricier, more exclusive... in fact, rather sweetly, production will be capped at 599 examples. With 671hp, a 0-60 time of 3.35s and a top speed of 208mph, it's Ferrari's fastest ever road car.

Disco on airbags

There's something gloriously pointless about lowering an off-roader. It's basically a deliberate effort to rob the machine in question of its primary function; then again, how often do most Land Rovers actually go off-road...?

It has to be said, shockingly tacky wheels aside, this Discovery does look pretty damn good sitting on the deck.