Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Chris Forsberg - Formula D Irwindale

There's some outstanding cinematography here. And a lot of smoke.

Chris Forsberg - Formula Drift Irwindale from Will Roegge on Vimeo.

Studio 434

With over a hundred cars spanning a hundred years, the Studio 434 collection is eclectic to say the least. And they're not run-of-the-mill models either; rarities include:

Jensen Series IV hardtop coupe.

Aston Martin Volante Zagato.

AC 428 Coupe.

Lagonda Rapide Sports Saloon.

Ferrari 208 Turbo.

...and so on. The Studio 434 collection, based in Potters Bar, is primarily used for film and TV work as well as private & wedding hire, although you can just pop along and have a mooch around. Click here for more info.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Volkswagen Golf GTI W12-650

On the whole, employees of car manufacturers reside in one of two camps: the hardcore petrolheads who’ve spent a lifetime dreaming of creating the ideal driving machine, and the number-crunching bean-counters that spend their days observing and analysing statistics and market trends, optimising sales and crushing the dreams of the first group. This is a successful formula in general terms, encouraging development and evolution within the industry whilst maintaining consistent sales through models that have a broad appeal. For aftermarket tuners and DIY mechanics, it’s a positive joy to tweak the aspects of a car that have been softened for mass consumption; stiffer suspension, lower profile tyres, less restrictive exhaust systems that would run the risk of pleasing a few but offending many if they were fitted in the mainstream.

So, everyone’s happy, yes? The accountants have lovely graphs where all the lines go upwards, Demon Tweeks are doing a roaring trade in spikey cams and carbon-fibre airboxes… but what about the in-house enthusiasts; the designers, developers and engineers? How do these poor souls react to having their vision diluted so callously?

They rebel, that’s how. Look at the original Golf GTI: VW bosses wanted the Golf to be a sort of upmarket take on the Mini, with low weight, diminutive dimensions and maximised interior space. The engineers wanted it to be quick and fun. They built the prototype in their spare time… and management loved it. Absolutely loved it. And you know how successful that was.

Fast-forward a few decades and the cheeky scamps at Wolfsburg were at it again. OK, the goalposts had shifted somewhat – this wasn't so much an engineer-led project as the latest manifestation of the spiralling and ludicrous power war dominating the German motor industry – and we knew not to get our hopes up too high. They didn't actually build the W12-650 for public consumption.

Imagine if they did, though. Until the launch of the mkV, the Golf GTI had come under enormous criticism for its loss of focus; what began as a pure and playful thoroughbred evolved into something lardy and sluggish. The mkV GTI was a return to form, but some people wanted more. More grunt, more attitude, more thrust. The R32 addressed these issues, with a juicy V6 and a hateful disdain for other hot hatches. VW then wanted to show just how far they could stretch the formula… and it got really rather silly.

This may look like a Golf GTI that’s been tampered with by a backstreet chop-shop, but this is no trailer queen. Strolling past it, you might notice the twin fans in the back. Er, yes, there’s a 6-litre biturbo W12 under there. Which produces 641bhp. And that’s just ridiculous.

The W12 isn’t really a W-configuration in the same way that the VR6 isn’t really a V; indeed the W12 is basically two VR6 engines bolted to a common crank. The most common application of this engine in a similar state of tune? That’ll be the Bentley Continental GT.

OK, so we have a Volkswagen Golf with a Bentley engine mounted in the middle – a Bentley engine that has been significantly tuned, no less – with 641bhp. Silly enough for you? How about if I mention that it will hit sixty in 3.7 seconds, going on to a v-max of 201mph? The lunatics, if not actually taking over the asylum, had certainly distributed a few propaganda leaflets.

The real bitch was that this was just a mule, a showcase of what VW could achieve when they put their minds to it. (Some might argue that it’s a glimpse of what would happen if the artisans had a freer reign, others that it serves to validate how fearful VW are of alienating their consumers by behaving in too extreme a manner.) By this token, unfortunately, it didn’t really achieve what it should have. Sure, it looked superb, the performance was brutal and genuinely impressive, but there was a lack of finesse that ruined the whole project. While it worked to their credit that journalists were allowed to drive the car – by no means a given with your average one-off prototype – reports of questionable brakes and downright dangerous handling dynamics were rife.

Still, who gives a toss about that? It’s a 200mph Golf with a fucking Bentley engine. The world needs more behaviour like this. We need to regain faith that these colossal conglomerates are still based on boundless enthusiasm and a genuine desire to excel. The passion exists, it just needs to be nurtured…

BMW 1-series M Coupe

This official video from BMW shows the new 1-series M Coupe (which looks infinitely better with a boot on the back than as a dumpy hatchback) alongside the timeless E30 M3 Sport Evo.

They're in totally different leagues, of course - the M3 Sport Evo is a purist's dream, with its zingy four-cylinder engine and stripped-back race-car-for-the-road nature, while the 1-series M Coupe - which they can't call M1, as they've used that before for something rather different - represents the zenith of 21st-century BMW tech; for those that want an M3 but feel the current model has ballooned into something beyond a cheeky two-door three-box, the not-an-M1 is here to fill in the gaps. It looks like a pretty entertaining steer too.
(If you want to dive straight into the action, fast-forward to 5m27s.)

Is it just me, or do they look like the rims from the E46 M3 CSL...?

Monday, 20 December 2010

Ariel Atom Mugen

Here's an interesting piece of cross-pollination. The Ariel Atom, an extreme, low-volume, uncompromising road/track car meets the meticulous engineering prowess of Mugen to create something really quite special: the Atom Mugen. The engine - from the Honda Civic Type-R, of course - receives Mugen tweaks to take it up to 270bhp (more than the Mugen Civic, interestingly), giving the Atom a Veyron-beating power-to-weight ratio of 549bhp/ton. 0-60mph will take just 3.2 seconds, which will be an interesting sensation in a car that's basically made of scaffolding.

They're only going to make ten of them, so you'll need to scurry down to Autosport 2011 for the official launch and get your order in sharpish.

FXX abuse

The Ferrari FXX is a strange beast. Offered for sale by invitation only to noted Ferrari collectors (and you should have seen the rage at Maranello when they subsequently appeared on the second-hand market), the Enzo-based special is not road-legal and there's no race series for which they're eligible. So you can only use them for trackdays... but they're worth so much that you wouldn't want to risk some wet-behind-the-ears novice t-boning you in his daddy's Boxster.

So, a frustrating car to own, yes? Well, at least they provide an easy way to help you let off steam...

Datsun 1200 T5

This Datsun 1200 looks quite unassuming, doesn't it?
Well, it's amazing what you can do with a paint job, some big arches and, er, a 2.3-litre turbocharged five-cylinder Volvo engine.

I used to have a Volvo 850 T5 with the same engine and it was a bit of an animal. This Datsun must weigh less than half of what that did...
Click here for more.

Friday, 17 December 2010


One hundred drifters. One racetrack. An unimaginable number of tyres. It's Driftcember!

AWOL Short: Driftcember from AWOL on Vimeo.

Porsche 906

The 906 was Porsche's last road-legal race car. With its tubular spaceframe and fibreglass body it weighed just 580kg, and most of the fifty cars produced were fitted with the lightweight 220bhp 901/20 carbed flat-six (although it wasn't uncommon for hillclimbers to fit fuel-injected sixes or even flat-eights). Its slippery, gorgeous wind tunnel-tested body allowed it to scythe through the air at 170mph at Le Mans. Imagine this featherweight racer pulling up next to you at the lights...

911 GT3 RSR

Porsche's latest 911 GT3 RSR is pretty much the best race car that $550,000 can buy. 455bhp at 7800rpm, 332lb.ft of torque and a 9400rpm redline are excitement enough, but it's the super-aggressive aero package that really makes it zing.
Admit it - you love it, right?

Alitalia Stratos

It's been very exciting to watch the gradual development of the new Stratos - but here's the stage that everyone was truly waiting for: Alitalia livery.
I want this. I want this very much.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Stanced Supra IV

I've always been a big fan of the mkIV Toyota Supra, it's such a beautiful shape. Timeless too - can you believe it was launched seventeen years ago? It still looks so fresh, with those fairground tail-lights, obscene hoop spoiler and slightly dopey face.

This one, courtesy of Stanceworks, isn't stanced like their usual fare. Instead, we find choice mods around the rolling stock and interior (as well as underbonnet tweaks to release 400bhp from the twin-turbo unit), giving a clean, simple look. Very cool.

Ken Block vs. Tanner Foust

He may be a mediocre rally driver, but when it comes to precision driving (as evidenced by his staggering Gymkhana series), Ken Block is near-peerless. Truly a phenomenal talent. So what happens when he goes wheel-to-wheel with Tanner Foust, the man who claims to have taught Block everything he knows? Well, this does...

(I'm afraid you'll have to try to ignore the monumentally cretinous announcer, but the driving more than makes up for it!)

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Ode to Motorsport

Quite a general theme, but a story worth telling. Check out the flying Audi at 1m26s. And the Delta flameout at 1m47s. And... hell, it's all good.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Montjuic Revival

Barcelona's inaugural Montjuic Revival rally had a superb turnout, with entrants representing most shades of the classic car spectrum. Coinciding with the Auto Retro show, it pays tribute to Barcelona's Montjuic street circuit, which hosted various formulae of motorsport for over 75 years.
Click here for the full set of photos from

Lotus vs. Lotus: F1 2011

Remember how exciting it was when we learned that Lotus would be re-entering Formula One in 2010? Well, it's about to get a whole lot more interesting in 2011...

Group Lotus have signed a deal with Renault to run as 'Lotus Renault GP' next year. They'll be using Renault engines, 'Lotus pedigree' and, rather wonderfully, the classic black-and-gold livery you can see in the photo (although, for obvious reasons, no-one's calling this the JPS livery).

However, Lotus Racing - the Malaysian concern we saw being underwhelming but plucky throughout 2010 - have bought the rights to the historic 'Team Lotus' name and will be rebranded as such next season. They'll also be using Renault engines.

Confused? You might be when you see Lotus Renault GP and Team Lotus-Renault side-by-side on the grid...

The toy box comes alive

We do love a good stop-motion tilt-shift video. Here's the Sydney Telstra 500 V8 Supercars being driven around by tiny little toy men...

Friday, 10 December 2010

Joyride to the Bar

It's just like The Italian Job, but colder and noisier.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Dodge Deora

The Dodge Deora was no ordinary concept. Styled by Harry Bentley Bradley and crafted by customisers Mike & Larry Alexander, the idea was to integrate traditional hot rod methods and innovative, forward-thinking designs into one of Detroit's new cab-over pickups. Chrysler supplied an A100 chassis, a blank canvas for the pair to lavish swathes of sheetmetal upon. It took two years to build, but the reception was better than Chrysler could ever have hoped for; the Deora informed the design of a generation of Hot Wheels models as well as winning nine awards at the 1967 Detroit Autorama.
You can learn more about this peculiar slice of history here.

RenaultSport Megane N4

True to form, the tenacious tuners of RenaultSport have bolstered the hardcore credentials of the Megane 250 by creating this Group N rally version. Featuring power and torque hikes to 261bhp and 347lb.ft. respectively, the N4 costs just £48,250 - a lot of money for a Megane, you might think, but very little for a competition-ready rally car. You get fully adjustable Öhlins suspension, huge brakes (including a hydraulic handbrake), a self-locking LSD, a massive rollcage, chunky bucket seats with harnesses, and the obligatory electrical cutout and fire extinguisher system. That's a lot of forest fun for the cash...
Via Evo.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Drift Alliance - Off Seasons

This bite-sized morsel is best savoured on fullscreen with speakers at maximum.

I just love that ending...

Le Mans 1959

A beautiful set of period photographs from 10 Tenths - click here for more.

Snow drifting

Massive dump of snow in your town? Don't let it keep you housebound, just do what Driftworks do - get out and enjoy it while you can!

'66 Chevy Nova wagon

The patinated exterior speaks of a lifetime of family-oriented adventures and honest-to-goodness utility. But those whacking great alloys and low-slung stance suggest that something unexpected might be going on...

...and indeed there is. Under the bonnet resides a a 6.6-litre diesel Duramax V8 with a couple of Buick turbos strapped on for good measure - peak power is around 550bhp. And being a diesel, there's a tidal wave of torque as well - 850lb.ft of it.
You can learn more about it here.

I love the cunning use of suitcases in the boot!