Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Maxxis British Drift Championship: Round Two

Pure. Drift. Filth. Who says you have to go to Japan or the US for quality sideways action? This green and pleasant land has more than enough shredded Maxxis marbles to prove that we have what it takes...

Anglias at the Palace

Two very different 105E Anglias here, spotted yesterday at Motorsport at the Palace. They both have a no-nonsense approach, so it's down to a question of preference: fast-road or full-race?

125 years of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz are celebrating a century-and-a-quarter this year, and to mark the occasion, here are a couple of films they've knocked together containing various classic models. Lovely.

So, what's your favourite classic Merc? Can I be obvious and plump for the 450SL Pagoda...?

An old friend at the Palace

May 1999. I'd just turned seventeen. My burgeoning love of old motors was beginning to focus itself irreversibly on Dagenham and the Blue Oval.

I bought my first issue of Classic Ford:

That Escort on the cover represented everything I wanted. The bubble arches, the Super Oscars, the pure balls-out aggression of the thing. That cover shot burned itself into my mind - the archetypal mkI; the yardstick by which all other Escorts would henceforth be measured.

So I was pretty excited to bump into my childhood hero in a leafy clearing at Motorsport at the Palace yesterday. Looks like the old girl is well - not only still going, but pristine and being used in anger. This makes me happy.

They say you should never meet your heroes. But that's bullshit.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Gumball 3000 goes digital

The Gumball 3000 is more accessible than ever in 2011, with the organisers having fully integrated their digital offering to bring the action to the masses. SuckSqueezeBangBlow was buzzing around Covent Garden yesterday to check out the entrants and see them leave the line (in, it has to be said, not the ideal weather conditions) - you can see a few highlights below.
So, what happens for us mortals after the horde of supercars and celebrities has left London in a dissipating fug of 98-RON whimsy? We just sit back and wait for the DVD release? Not this year...
Their Twitter feed offers a running photographic commentary of the action. The busy Facebook group provides ample opportunities for discussion and info-sharing. And if you want to be a full-on stalker, the iPhone app allows you to track who's where, who's who, what's going on and which parties you need to elbow your way into.

Unfortunately we can't say what the Gumball 3000 is like on the inside. But perhaps they'll let us come along next year...?

Click photos to enlarge.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Gumball 3000 - Renault 4 V6

Remember this Renault 4 project we reported on a little while back? You'll be pleased to know that the team got it finished on time, ready for this year's Gumball 3000. As you can see from these photos, it's every bit as aggressive as we could have hoped for, waiting patiently (and slightly scarily) in Covent Garden for the flag to drop. We'll be watching its progress on the rally with interest...

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

R500 at the 'Ring

This is why you should fear the Green Hell. The driver clearly knows his stuff, and he's driving one of the most competent and respected track cars ever built. Yet just look at how many times it tries to kill him...

Wagon Attack II

You don't need to spend a fortune on a swanky new sports car to experience high-octane thrills. All you need is an unassuming old Honda, a massive turbo and no sense of fear.
Click here for more...

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Volvo 245 sleeper

Now, this looks like a whole heap of fun. It may appear to be a totally bog-standard Volvo 245 estate, but the mkIV Supra Turbo engine under the bonnet allows it to go M5-hunting with ease...

You can see the full build thread here. If you can speak Swedish.

Collector's Car Parts

This little shop next to Heathrow airport represents the personal touch of a bygone age that you just won't find in a modern Halfords megamart. Specialising in obscure new-old-stock parts for cars manufactured between 1925-80, the store is crammed from floor to ceiling with unexpected treasures. And the owner has a warehouse full of extra stock too...
Click here for further info. They even do mail-order!

Mazda 787B - back to La Sarthe

Mazda's iconic 787B, the only Japanese car and the only rotary-engined car ever to win the Le Mans 24hr, will be celebrating the twentieth anniversary of its victory at this year's event. It's being prepared at Mazdaspeed by current employees who took part in the team's effort back in 1991, and a couple of decades on, the sound of 700bhp at a crackling 9500rpm will still be more than enough to thrill the crowds at La Sarthe. See the video below for evidence of the aural onslaught...

Monday, 23 May 2011

Datapost RS Turbo

Ever the champion of the smaller-engined Touring Car (having previously campaigned Mini 1275GTs and Austin Metros, among others), Richard Longman grappled with the raw 1600cc CVH grunt of the series 1 Escort RS Turbo in 1985, finishing the season 7th overall. The following year he managed a thoroughly impressive second place, suggesting that the RS Turbo wasn't the laggy, torque-steering nightmare that one might imagine. Having driven a Datapost-liveried RS1600i since 1983 (coming 7th overall in '83, and 2nd in '84), the fresh new forced induction gave Longman entry to the emerging turbo boys club of Class B (also featuring the Renault 5 GT Turbo, MG Metro Turbo and Nissan Bluebird Turbo), allowing the minnows to spit flames just as big as the turbocharged Class A boys.

Always been one of my favourite liveries, this. Not sure why - I have no particular interest in the postal service.

RX-7 vs ZX-10: High Plains Drifters

A stretched Kawasaki ZX-10 versus a Corvette-powered Mazda RX-7, making all kinds of smoke and noise down in Alberqueque.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Aston Martin V12 Zagato

Aston Martin has had a long and fruitful relationship with styling house Zagato. For as long as anyone can remember, they've been adding double-bubble roofs and imposing crosshatched snouts to the cream of A-M's catalogue. And 2011 sees the fiftieth anniversary of the two brands' relationship - it's only right to celebrate that fact with something a little special.

So here it is: the Aston Martin V12 Zagato. Based on the V12 Vantage, it features some pretty special bodywork; bespoke, hand-beaten aluminium in shapes that simply could not be crafted by machine. The front wings alone are formed from seven separate slices of metal.
The mechanicals are unchanged, but with a 510bhp 6.0-litre V12, you're over-catered for in the power stakes as it is. When the car looks this brutal, you'll spend as much time cruising the Riviera as you will pounding the 'Ring... but, of course, if track work is your thing, you'll be pleased to know that the V12 Zagato is also available as a fully-specced endurance racer. Something for everyone, then.

Fluevog's Jaguar Mk X

This is one of the most obscenely beautiful custom cars I've seen in a long time. Belonging to designer John Fluevog, it's had a roof chop and a variety of shaving and smoothing, while the interior's been swathed in snakeskin and walnut. Some might call it sacrilege to chop about a classic such as this, but you can't really argue with results as gobsmacking as these...

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Group B rally fans

Rally fans are an unusual breed, keen to stand in a wet forest or muddy field for hours on end with little more than a Thermos of Bovril for company, waiting for a fleeting five-second glimpse of a passing rally car to shower them with razor-sharp gravel shards. And none were more unhinged than those of the Group B era; in the age of the most dangerous rally machines of all time, did they stand well back and afford them some respect? Pah. Of course not. They played chicken with them...

BTCC Peugeot 406

In 1996, Total Team Peugeot replaced the 405 Mi16 with the all new 406 BTCC racer, driven by Tim Harvey and Patrick Watts. The car wasn't successful throughout the season, with Harvey describing his three years with the team as 'not particularly inspiring'; Watts managed the unfortunate accolade of being the lowest-placed works driver of the season. With MSD tweaking the car for '97, the 406 performed a little better... but not much; the renamed Esso Ultron Team Peugeot managed to come 6th out of 8 teams, with Harvey and Watts finishing the season in 9th and 16th places respectively.
With Watts replaced by Radisich in 1998, the team managed to come dead last, with Harvey and Radisich in 17th and 14th place.

This palpable lack of success wasn't the car's fault per se - it was its aero set-up that was scuppering it. A multi-series design, the 406 wasn't specifically tweaked for the BTCC (which was contested over a variety of tight, twisty course across Britain), but rather for the wider and more expansive circuits of Germany. Laurent Aiello - later to become BTCC champion for Nissan in '99 - found phenomenal success in the 406 in the SuperTourenwagen Cup: he came third in 1996, and won the championship in '97.
So, while British memories of the 406 may be as an unimpressive also-ran, the 406 Super Tourer is certainly a car worth remembering...