Friday, 30 July 2010

FEV 1H @ Goodwood

FEV 1H - mkI Escort, Mexico rally winner - is like an old friend to me. I've never actually driven him, of course, but we bump into each other all the time; he seems to be at every show I go to - the Festival of Speed, Autosport, the Revival, the Motor Show, MPH... it's all I can do not to cheerfully pat him on the bonnet every time I see him.

Here he is in action up the Goodwood hill. It goes without saying that I was cheering from the sidelines.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

6:47 - the proof

SuckSqueezeBangBlow recently discussed the Zonda R's 'Ring record, lamenting the lack of complete-lap footage. Well, here it is... strap yourself in, as you may find yourself sympathetically lurching through the corners.

The whoop at the end says it all.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

3D SLS with David Coulthard

The premise for this little project is quite simple: close off a section of road on the Isle of Man, invite along David Coulthard, strap him into a Mercedes SLS AMG, tell him to drive as fast as he can, film it in 3D. Sounds fun.

The technical challenges are manifold. Filming in 3D requires two cameras to replicate human vision, but the distance between these cameras needs to be altered depending on what you're looking at and how far away it is. The fact that Coulthard arrived with the intention of breaking 160mph on the twisting, serpentine roads makes the filming process all the more tricky.

Traditional 2D techniques for creating an image of speed - long lenses, blurred backgrounds and the like - don't really wash in three dimensions. As director of 3D photography Geoff Boyle says, "The only thing that works really well with cars in 3D is wide lenses. With wide lenses, though, the background appears to move slowly so the only way to get an impression of speed is to go bloody fast.”
How does the camera car keep up with Coulthard? The V10 Touareg has 485bhp, which helps a little. But of course, David is going bloody fast.

Bosozoku Celica

Bosozoku is generally an all-or-nothing style - you end up with improbably large jutting spoilers and church organ exhausts; unique cars that edge ever closer to the borders of the undriveable. However, it is possible to take certain elements of the genre to enhance and uprate a Japanese classic, using the sublime but not the ridiculous. This '75 Toyota Celica is a case in point.

The external oil cooler with its ostentatious pipework entering through the inner headlight is pure boso. You may have noticed that there's a second oil cooler behind the grille - this is because in the car's homeland of Australia, external oil coolers are illegal. You can see in the bottom picture how he rolls when he's on the road.

Complementing the aggressive snout are cartoonish arch extensions housing deep-dished rims with stretched tyres... and, of course, the Tokyo subway grab-handle hanging on the inside, an essential bosozoku souvenir.
The aesthetic sits well with the Celica's muscle-car styling, looking almost American in its muscular curvature. It has the thrust to back up the machismo too - under the bonnet sits a 2T-G 2-litre twin-cam on twin-45s.
What this car achieves is a workable blend of bosozoku style, sympathetic restoration and period tuning. It all comes together perfectly.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Dijon '79 - the battle for 2nd

Disappointed with Ferrari's unscrupulous team-order tactics at Hockenheim at the weekend? Escape back to a better time with this amazing footage...
This was when motor racing was exactly that, hairy-chested drivers drank race fuel before the event and a little bit of wheel-on-wheel contact was positively encouraged. Gilles Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux - this battle still gives me goosebumps.

Friday, 23 July 2010

BMW M-Roadster - Fluid MotorUnion

I've never really been a fan of the Z3, but these photos have forced me to re-evaluate. Amazing what stance can do...

Fluid MotorUnion fitted a set of 17"x9" wheels (the size you'd normally find at the rear of an M-Roadster) on the front, while the back end wears monstrous 17"x11"s; a bespoke coilover setup brings the car absurdly close to the deck. The engine's been fettled with forged internals which allow a 9000rpm redline, with S54 throttle-bodies providing that alluring sucking noise. Not that the stance really allows you much opportunity to exploit the performance without immediately smashing the sump to bits on the first cats-eye you come across... but you can always wind the height up a bit if you're taking it to the track.

Via Stanceworks.

Italian police riders c.1950(ish)

Italy: it's like Thailand or Vietnam, but far more organised.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

dangerousdave's Escort Harrier

If you're into the classic Ford scene and/or the retro scene (or, to be honest, the car show scene in general), you probably know this car. Any show you attend, you can pretty much guarantee that Dave will be there. Any picture thread of a show you stumble across on a car forum, you'll find the Harrier. The car is famous by ubiquity.

This is impressive, but it deserves fame in its own right too. The quality of the finish is excellent, but its the subtle touches that make this car stand out. As well as surfing the tide of popularity for flat-fronted mkIIs (remember the days when it was all about the droop snoot?) Dave has lowered the Escort as far as it can comfortably go while still allowing those split-rim Compomotives to exploit the power of the hot Burton pinto. The overall effect is just so, so right. Interested in learning more? Click here for the build thread.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


...that's the time in which the Pagani Zonda R recently lapped the Nordschleife, much to Ferrari's irritation.
That may sound realistically achievable to a hardened Gran Turismo 4 fan, but seriously - this represents a lap so absurdly quick as to be far beyond the reach of mortals such as you or I. This was the cosmic pairing of God-like driver and hypercar royalty.

Behold, some very arty footage of the beast in action.

It's a shame there isn't a video available of the full lap. Still, we have this footage from a year or so ago of a Zonda F lapping the Nürburgring Nordschleife almost as quickly.

Mercedes SL - Targa Tasmania

'Back to the seventies in a cabin full of elbows.' And you thought the SL was a mere boulevard cruiser...

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

1968 Lotus 51c - Formula Ford

Formula Ford was conceived in the UK in the sixties, to create an entry-level series to 'train' new drivers at Geoff Clarke's Motor Racing Stables - a driving school based at Brands Hatch. Formula Three cars were the ideal size and setup, but proved expensive to be constantly putting in the hands of novices; Formula Ford took a Formula Three chassis and fitted it with a standard crossflow engine from a Ford Cortina, along with steel wheels and road tyres. The success of the concept led to the development of an official race series, with heavy backing from Ford and Lotus.

The Lotus 51 was the first model to be specifically designed from the ground-up for the Formula Ford series. This example is owned by Warwick, NY's Dick Leehr, and was race-prepped by Michael's Vintage Racing. It is what's known as a '51c' - the differences between the 51a, b & c are manifold and complex, but essentially it's the case that 51as generally don't have mountings for a dry-sump system, 51bs have improved rear suspension and 51cs have a Hewland transaxle. But let's not get bogged down in pernickerty specifics...

Dick Leehr's car has a dry-sumped 1600cc crossflow that produces around 110bhp. In a car that weighs around 400kg, that equates to incredible performance, even by modern standards. You can learn the spec in extraordinary detail here.


Nice vanity plate. He won't be so smug when his mate in the equivalent Elise manages a 250-mile journey in one go.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Seat Leon Eurocup crash - Brands Hatch

Francisco Carvalho's rather large series of cartwheels at Brands Hatch serve as a timely reminder that, as the signs always say, 'Motorsport Is Dangerous'.
Thankfully he walked away from the crash and, somewhat miraculously, none of the marshals in the line of fire were injured in any serious way.

Wayne Allman's Mental Breakdown

Allman, of Stratford-upon-Avon's Intergalactic Custom Shop, is a custom fabricator of some repute. 'Mental Breakdown', the latest in a long line of outlandish creations, is built around a shortened Top Fuel dragster chassis with half of a VW split-screen camper hanging over the front end. Power comes from a supercharged Hemi, inspiration presumably from a selection of mind-bending intoxicants.

Mental Breakdown burnout from Simon Thorn on Vimeo.

Friday, 16 July 2010

RadicalLowCars - 'Trip to Minsk'

Some members of the appropriately-named Russian collective, RadicalLowCars, took a little road trip in their absurdly low Lada Samara. It pulls off its nu-rat look perfectly, and you have to admire not only the ability to make it workable to run it that low, but also the commitment to persevere with it on a day-to-day basis - you can see it sparking in the night footage, while in the on-board shots you can hear it constantly grinding and bottoming out. Marvellous.

Lada 21099 Radical Low Cars: Trip to Minsk. from Yurik44 on Vimeo.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Polski Fiat 126 Group 2

The Fiat 126 is one of those cars that was reasonably anonymous through ubiquity in its heyday, but is of increasing interest these days due to its rarity.
The coolest iteration of all is, somewhat superbly, still in production thanks to the FSM-OBR Ex-Works Team. These guys - all genuine ex-Fiat rally guys, of course - build Group 2 126s to order. The cars are officially classed as 'restored', being based on donor shells from between 1978-83, although everything is stripped back and rebuilt from scratch to effectively create a new car. The chassis is seam-welded and an FIA-approved six-point rollcage is welded in, while the arches are enlarged to accommodate 5.5" wide wheels.
Being a proper rally car, you get bucket seats and four-point harnesses, an extinguisher system and electrical cutout switches too. Power comes from a blueprinted 650cc unit with an uprated carb, works cams and pistons and a group 2 exhaust.

The best part? You can get all of this for £7,000. Which is very good indeed.

'62 Belair Sport Coupe

A thing of beauty - she has a 409 Turbo-Fire V8 and period race graphics. And that's all you need to know.

Colossal supercharger

This is what a Camaro drag racer looks like with a freight-train supercharger strapped to it. The owner says they haven't made a pass with it... yet:

"I just blipped the throttle once... it lifted the front wheel an inch off the floor and blew both head gaskets." Brilliant.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

'Boost' Volvo 242

I know nothing about this Swedish 242 besides what is obvious from the photos: big slick-shod wheels hiding big brakes, beefy rollcage, racy suspension setup and, judging by its nickname, probably a whacking great turbo under the bonnet - from the bottom pic, it could be a T5 lump with a turbo and a supercharger.
Who'd have thought an eighties Volvo three-box could look so credible on track*... and so menacing?

*yes, I'm excluding Touring Cars from this sweeping statement.