Thursday, 31 May 2012

Hairy Canary

Goodwood fans will no doubt recognise the Hairy Canary, having seen it tearing around the circuit at full tilt at the Revival. It's a very well-known Cobra in racing circles, being one of 21 privateer cars officially recognised by the Shelby Register, and one of the earliest competition Cobras to receive rack-and-pinion steering and the 289ci V8. It began life in Honolulu (hence the Dyna Glaze livery), winning the Hawaiian Grand Prix in 1963. It was raced consistently through the '60s, '70s and '80s before finding its way to the UK. Current owner Bill Bridges bought the Canary in 2003, treating it to a full restoration to original specs, and then proceeded to enter it into every historic race event available. And why not, eh? That's exactly what it was built for...

Spotted by SuckSqueezeBangBlow at the Chelsea Auto Legends press day.

Ferrari F40

For children of the eighties, there is no supercar more iconic than the F40. We all had a poster of one on our wall alongside the Porsche 959 and Lamborghini Countach, but it was the bewinged cavallino rampante that held the strongest, most ethereal allure; its obscene rear spoiler, NACA ducts, wafer-thin paint, no-nonsense interior and, best of all, that screaming twin-turbo V8 formed an unbeatable package. A race car for the road that was never designed to race, a disparate and capricious exotic that was built just to prove that it could be done; a ballistic, uncompromising model to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the marque, and the last car to to be signed off by Enzo himself.
I feel a little frisson of excitement whenever I'm near one. It makes me a schoolboy again. I find myself unable to stop poring over its form, drinking in the details, taking endless photos. Here's one that I had a little moment with at the Chelsea Auto Legends press day...

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Chelsea Auto Legends - Press Day 2012

SuckSqueezeBangBlow spent the morning mucking in with the logistics team at the Chelsea Auto Legends press day at the Royal Hospital. What better way can there be to start a spring morning than wheeling a GT40, an Aston Martin Le Mans racer, a feather-touch fragile Maserati and a variety of other precious exotica across perfectly manicured lawns, the scent of bacon on the breeze and the clink of Champagne glasses tantalising the workers?
As the press breezed in, the cars lay in wait beneath their covers, to be unveiled after the official briefing. The atmosphere was cheery, the surroundings gorgeous, the selection of cars sublime.

The pictures below offer a taster - stay tuned to SSBB in the coming days to see a few of these cars profiled in more depth. Oh, and you'll be impressed to learn that SuckSqueezeBangBlow managed to walk straight into Jodie Kidd coming through a doorway. Smooth.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Blydenstein Viva GT

This HB is a replica of Gerry Marshall's Blydenstein Vauxhall Viva GT, as campaigned in 1970. It was built by Colin Robbins, who began with little more than a savagely rusty Viva road car and a race car vision - his endeavours bore fruit in the form of this stunningly accurate and period-correct GT. Marshall wrote off the original Viva at Lydden Hill and went on to race the widely admired and fondly remembered Firenzas, Old Nail and Baby Bertha, but Robbins' project rekindles the memory of where the Marshall/Vauxhall association began.
It's no show queen either - this Viva was built to be used, and regularly competes in sprints and hillclimbs, its pristine period decals and arrow-straight bodywork testament to how well it's been built to handle.

Photos taken by SuckSqueezeBangBlow at Motorsport at the Palace 2012.

A very serious mkII

There are a number of different routes you can go down when building a mkII Escort. Some prefer to restore to factory standard or concours condition. Others like the South London look, low with pastel shades, wide four-spokes and HPE crossflows. A perennial favourite is to build the car for stage rallying, swathed in Rothmans livery or Cossack stripes. Or you can do something like this: build a focused track car for sprints, hillclimbs and trackdays.

Under the bonnet resides a turbocharged, intercooled Cosworth YB; gearbox unknown, but the gearknob (unless it's a wry quip by the owner) suggests a BMW six-speeder, which is an unusual choice. Huge AP Racing brakes sit behind wide split-rims under those aggressive forest arches, while at the rear is an unmissable spoiler and a diff cooler poking from beneath the rear valance. Inside the cabin is all serious business too, with cartoonishly winged buckets, a robust 'cage and some fastidious weight removal. All in all, a very serious bit of fun.

Photos taken by SuckSqueezeBangBlow at Motorsport at the Palace 2012.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Tiger Z100

Caterhams and their kin respond well to motorbike power. The free-revving nature and unique torque characteristics of bike engines don't always translate well into usable power in road cars, but Sevens don't really weigh anything so it's a recipe for fun - you're basically building a four-wheeled motorcycle.
The Tiger Z100 turns this thinking up a notch, fitting two Kawasaki ZX-9R engines in tandem. The company's official line on this is 'we did it because we could', which is fair enough really. The ensuing performance is as devastating as you'd expect: 0-60mph in 3.1 seconds is enough to peel your eyelids back and wrap them around your ears. Accelerating like this in what's basically a carbon-fibre shoe is the preserve of the warped, and no mistake.

Photos taken by SuckSqueezeBangBlow at Motorsport at the Palace 2012.

Pro-street MG Magnette

Well, isn't this a bold and unorthodox development for a grand old English gent?
The MG Magnette was a solid family car for the 1950s, offering a reasonably plushly appointed cabin and warm performance from its Austin-derived engine - a dependable and sturdy thing. This Magnette, however, is rather different. Built by Enigma Racing, it's designed principally to do two things: drag-racing at various events across the UK, and chasing speed records at Bonneville. This requires it to be rather Jekyll & Hyde in approach; it needs to accelerate ferociously, but also (presumably with a change of axle ratios) be able to sustain these massive engine loads in pursuit of silly speeds.
Enigma know what they're doing, of course - the pictures speak for themselves. You can learn more here.
(These photos were snapped by SuckSqueezeBangBlow at Motorsport at the Palace 2012.)