Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Nine-second Zephyr

George Babikan's Ford Zephyr has a full feature in this month's Classic Ford and, as you can see from the pictures, it's a bit of a monster.
Built in a parking space outside a central London block of flats, the Zeph can run a 9.85-second quarter-mile courtesy of its 408 small-block Chevy V8; with nitrous, it produces 620bhp. Which is frankly insane, given that it's wearing a tax disc and a set of number plates...

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Kanye's Tatra

Unfortunately for mankind in general, Kanye West continues to be allowed to annoy us with a relentless stream of pretentious rubbish. You may be aware that he recently debuted a short film on MTV entitled 'Runaway'. If you're so inclined, you can view it here - although there's no reason that you should, it's vapid and tremendously irritating.

So why bring it up? Well, the car he drives in the film has caused much discussion. The badge on the rear reads 'Tatra V8i'. Hang on... Tatra? The old Czech company that used to make rear-engined saloons with air-cooled V8s back in the sixties? Yes indeed, the very same. Kind of.
MTX has long been a builder of obscure performance cars in the Czech Republic (since 1969, in fact), and the car we see before us here is an MTX Tatra V8. So, a collaboration between a now-defunct manufacturer and one that's so small, nobody's heard of it - Kanye's car must be pretty rare, right?
Correct. They only ever built four of them.

If your language skills are up to it, you can learn more about MTX (and see some really weird photos) here.

2010 Korean GP

If you're anything like me, you'll have eagerly set your alarm for the start of the Korean Grand Prix on Sunday. You'll have watched in dismay as the rain fell, the start was delayed, the drivers followed the safety car for a few laps and proceedings were halted. You'll have sat there for an hour, drinking endless cups of tea and praying for a race of some sort to eventually happen. And your edgy patience would have been rewarded, with an action-heavy fight taking place on the (questionable) new Korean circuit.
If you missed it, of course, none of this will mean anything to you. You can catch up on all the highlights here... but this photo really sums it all up:

Monday, 25 October 2010

Formula 1 - 1947-1967

...from the days when men were men, cars were cars and motor racing was really bloody scary.

There's some truly superb footage here - turn your volume up and watch on fullscreen.

Stig Hennessey

The new Chevrolet Camaro was officially launched in Colombia last week. How do they celebrate this? By letting Ben Collins (aka The Stig) loose in a Hennessey HPE650 around the Autódromo de Tocancipá. Well, why not?

Thursday, 21 October 2010

White Lake Formula 1 Ring

Click here for the most utterly incredible Scalextric set-up you've ever seen. The attention to detail is phenomenal - and yes, he does run proper timed races with period-correct formulae. Well, after all that effort it's only right to use it properly.

Paddock Hacks

There's not a lot to do in New Zealand. Sheep farming. Recreating scenes from Lord of the Rings. Learning the songs from Flight of the Conchords. That's about it.

Oh, and Paddock Hacks. That is, taking a knackered old car, beefing it up a bit and going banger racing around a bumpy field. It's way more dramatic and exciting than it sounds.

Ferrari 458 Challenge

The Ferrari 458 Italia is, as we know, a precious thing - ferocious yet beautiful, devastating yet delicate. The 458 Challenge - the fire-snorting race version - takes the evocative formula a step further. The sonorous exhaust! The shouty engine! The glowing brake discs! This is a special moment for petrolheads everywhere.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Bonneville 288 GTO

This GTO is simultaneously awesome and upsetting. Awesome because it's just set a new record for being the world's fastest Ferrari at Bonneville, clocking up a frankly absurd 275.4mph. Upsetting because they didn't need to use a GTO...

The record-breaking car is powered by an 8.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8, producing between 2000-2500bhp. So, if they're going to modify the car so heavily, why start with an ultra-rare homologation special as a base? They could have used a far more common 308GTB or something instead, surely? I just think it's a waste. Astonishing, yes. Incredible, even. But a terrible waste nonetheless.

Bentley Golf

Proof positive that if you're sufficiently extreme in your wheel choice and stance, you don't need to do a lot else. He we find a mkV Golf sitting very, very low over 19" Bentley wheels.
Plenty more pics here.

McRae vs. the people

I can't imagine how scary this must be for a driver. Yes, fan-lined rally stages are an iconic image of the sport, but being seconds away from a massive body count isn't really conducive to a quick stage time...

Jaguar Sprite

At first glance, this would appear to be a nicely restored Austin Healey Sprite.

Hang on a minute... that transmission tunnel's rather on the enormous side, isn't it?

Goodness, there's a Jag engine in there! (Sorry, the title of the blog post had probably already ruined that surprise for you.)

Aaron Couper's diminutive Sprite has taken the concept of raspy cloth-cap British motoring to a gnarly extreme by shoehorning a huge 3.8-litre Jaguar six into a place where it has no logical place residing. The quality of the craftsmanship that's gone into this little Healey to actually make it work is really quite impressive - click here for more.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Grunt vs. poise

This is a subject that's been much on my mind of late, having sold an MX-5 to buy a 328i Sport. There's a yawning chasm between the nimble agility and scalpel-like precision of the former and the sledgehammer brutality of the latter.

This Top Gear clip perfectly illustrates the point, pitting a Lotus Exige against a Ford Mustang on track. A buzzing little Norfolk mosquito with a 1.8-litre four-pot versus a hulking great Detroit muscle car with a 4.6-litre V8. What do you think will happen...?

It's the BTCC Ford Falcon/Mini scenario all over again...

Formula Drift tilt-shift

Shooting a Formula Drift event in tilt-shift is a stroke of genius. It's like your toys have escaped from the box while you were out and now they're misbehaving together.

FD Sonoma: Tilt-Shift Formula Drift from MotorMavens Dotcom on Vimeo.

BMW 767i

If anything could have drawn a line under the German luxo-muscle wars of the nineties, it would have been a 6.7-litre BMW 7-series. Interestingly, such a creation came into being and, bafflingly, was never given the green light. Why bafflingly? Because BMW developed a new V16 engine for the car. And you don't do that sort of thing if you're not serious, surely?

This spine-tingling new engine was based on the M70 5-litre V12, with a brace of extra cylinders on each bank. Cast in high-silicone aluminium and boasting a clever new engine management system that effectively treated it as two conjoined straight-eights, the 767i (which, let's not forget, is a rather large and heavy car) could hit 62mph in six seconds dead and go on to 175mph.

Why was it never put into production? Nobody can say. It's a shame, as it would have sold very well in the Middle East and, of course, a production V16 engine would have furnished BMW with unlimited kudos. With the relentless trend toward downsizing and efficiency, it's unlikely that we'll see its like again.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Maserati 250F - Hamburg Nights

The Maserati 250F is one of the most revered and lusted-after sports cars of the 1950s. Just twenty-six examples were built, but in their heyday they clocked up eight poles, eight wins and 277 F1 entries at the hands of such drivers as Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio.

This beautifully restored 250F was shot on the streets of Hamburg by auto photographer Bernd Kammerer.

Rizk DBR2

The Aston Martin DBR2 was developed in 1957 as a sister car to the smaller-engined DBR1. It used a tubular spaceframe chassis and was powered by the engine from the DB4 road car, a sonorous 3.7-litre straight-six. Two cars were built (DBR2/1 and DBR2/2), so it goes without saying that they're something of an unattainable quantity now.

...well, in original form, at least. Fortunately for the cash-rich A-M enthusiasts of the world, the Rizk DBR2 exists.
Unlike the original, the Rizk centres around a carbon-fibre monocoque sculpted in Boeing's aerospace-grade autoclave. This allows the featherweight 800kg car's body to be strong enough to be 'undentable by human force'. Heat insulation for the engine bay comes in the form of Aerogel - a substance used by NASA on the Mars Rover.
The running gear is equally space-age, with adjustable coilvers and Wilwood brakes taking care of the bouncing and anchoring, although the engine is rather more classic. It's an original sixties straight-six running on SU carbs... but it's not an Aston unit. It's a 4.2-litre Jaguar engine, as you'd find in an E-Type. (If you so desire, however, you can choose from any number of V8s or V12s instead.)

They don't build 'em like they used to. Today they engineer yesterday for tomorrow.
Click here for more info from Rizk Auto.

You can read Top Gear's adventure with the DBR2 here.