Thursday, 28 June 2012

Jonny Smith's Flux Capacitor

Car journo, TV presenter and all-round good egg Jonny Smith is a man on a mission: to take an obscure and forgotten electric car and turn it into Europe's fastest street-legal EV. The car in question is an Enfield 8000 - don't be ashamed if you haven't heard of it, they only built 120-odd in the early- to mid-seventies, and very few survived. They were an expensive proposition, costing as much as two Minis (or SuckSqueezeBangBlow's preferred option, a well-specced 3.0 Capri), although they employed a lot of mainstream bits that make the build a little less befuddling: Reliant Robin rear axle, Hillman Imp front suspension and what-have-you. Most of this is being ripped out and replaced, however, as Jonny's ambitions are sky-high. The target of 'Europe's fastest EV' is an exciting one, shooting for 11-second quarter-miles and 0-60mph in around two seconds. Nailbiting, pant-troubling stuff.
The Enfield is in some ways the ideal base for a race car, being extremely light and consisting of a tubular spaceframe with an aluminium body. On the other hand, it's extremely short, and may well want to swap ends under harsh acceleration. Will he overcome this rather serious logistical hurdle? Will the Flux Capacitor live up to expectations? Will the whole thing just blow up? There are three ways to follow the progress:
  • Via the website, here.
  • On Twitter, here.
  • ...and, of course, in your favourite monthly window into the world of unusual old motors, Retro Cars magazine.

Timewarp Seven 850

In the early days of the Mini, from its launch in 1959 until 1961, it was marketed as both the Morris Mini-Minor and the Austin Seven. What we see here is a very early Seven 850, displaying just 2,618 miles on the clock since it rolled off the production line 52 years ago. It was only on the road for a couple of years before being put into heated storage, so it still proudly wears its original underseal and shows no rust, as well as being accompanied by its original Austin keyring and the last tax disc it wore back in 1962. So what would you pay for what is effectively a nearly-new, very old Mini? Does the auction estimate of £25,000 seem reasonable? I reckon so - think about it, it's like paying someone £40/month to store it for you since it was new, then giving it to you for free. Kind of.
Click here for more.

'66 Fusca V8

The Volkswagen Beetle (or Fusca, as the Brazilians would have it) is many things - charming, practical, simple, versatile - but you can't really accuse it of being quick. Not in standard form, anyway. This is why countless tuning patterns have developed over the years; race-derived chassis and engines, Porsche or Subaru boxers in the tail... but the conversion we see here doesn't really fit a modifying template. V8 Beetles are far from common.

The genius of this Beetle is that it looks relatively unassuming, aside from those subtly coded banded steels - it's a proper sleeper. It's only when you lift the engine lid and spy nothing but a cooling system (and water-cooled, no less!) that suspicions are aroused. Popping the bonnet reveals a Ford 302ci V8; it runs a standard state of tune, but its 200bhp is more than enough for the lightweight Bug. Peering through the windows, you'll spot a few changes to the interior too: one of the rear seats has been removed in order to accommodate the spare wheel and fuel tank, and what remains of the seating is trimmed in sumptuous leather. A strong all-rounder, this - quick, unique, reasonably luxurious, and more than capable of surprising people at the lights. What's not to like?
Click here for more. (It's from '08, but I thought it was worth sharing..!)

Rapid Skoda Romeo

Why do Skodas have rear-screen heaters? To keep your hands warm. What do you call an open-top Skoda? A skip. The Czech Republic's misunderstood son has come in for a brutal hammering over the years, somewhat unfairly given their penchant for creating budget 911-esque minnows using tenacity and pig-iron
In recent times the jokes have dried up somewhat, thanks to VW ownership and the quality that brings, although the jibes at the older cars still seem to endure. So how do we improve upon the reliability concerns of an old Skoda and bolster its reputation a little? Why, by mixing in the legendary reliability of a classic Alfa Romeo...!

OK, on paper it may sound a little nuts, but this is a fantastic idea. For starters, this 1989 Rapid is top notch, with factory-fitted adjustable Spax dampers & lowered springs, sporty bodykit, Mountney steering wheel and high-end Acoustic Research stereo - very fancy for an eighties Skoda. Added to this strong base are 15" Compomotive MLs and, of course, the jewel in the crown: a 2.0-litre Alfa Romeo twin-cam wedged in the tail. It's an '83 Alfetta Gold Cloverleaf block with a '79 GTV 2000 top end and twin Dell'Orto carbs. Sounds fun.
You can't get a 911 for two grand. You can get this. Click here, it's on eBay.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Gulf Ami 6

The Citroën Ami 6 provides all the fun of the 2CV - obscene lean angles, a safe haven for your crate of eggs and so forth - with some jolly snazzy styling, all reverse-rakes and built-in spats. So why the hell not turn one into a rally car? This one's been fully restored, with minty-fresh bodywork and refreshed underpinnings, while some juicy twin carbs liven up the 602cc flat-twin a little. You could have enormous fun popping and rasping around the country lanes in this strange-faced little poppet.
Besides, everything looks cool in the Gulf livery - can you name a single car that wouldn't look quick in orange and powder blue...?
See Le Bon Coin for more details.

Toyota Camatte

The Toyota Camatte is a car designed to get children interested in motoring. So where better to launch it than the Tokyo Toy Show?
The two cars you see in these photos are in fact the same car - the Camatte has been engineered to be entirely customisable with nothing more than a set of spanners. Every body panel is interchangeable, and not in a crappy let's-swap-the-red-bits-for-blue-bits Smart car way but, as you can see, to totally change the shape and character of the car. It's like supersized Meccano, but with a proper engine.
The aim is to steer kids away from social networking and mobile phones and all of these new-fangled distractions, and get them interested in the age-old glory of driving and internal combustion. Toyota love this kind of thing. The GT86 was built to teach teenagers about oversteer, with its AE86 DNA and skinny Michelins, and the Camatte is driving petrolheadism straight into the nucleus of childhood. It's inspired.
Click here for more.

Alfa Romeo Zeta 6

Octane magazine never fails to educate; I hadn't heard of the Alfa Romeo Zeta 6 before I saw this article. Based on the GTV6 platform, the Zeta 6 takes the compact coupé form and moulds it into something rather more offbeat, with its BMW-esque tail and pinched nose. Various unique styling ideas highlight that this was more concept than production proposal - the hinged flap ahead of the bonnet, the interior free of the complexity of control knobs and buttons - but you can't argue with the logic of a small, V6-powered Alfa with a dab of coachbuilt flair. If they'd had the resources to put this into production, it would have sold like hot cakes.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

SSBB holiday

SuckSqueezeBangBlow is on holiday for a week! I understand that this must be devastating news for you, but try to hold it together. There's almost five years of archives linked on the right - why not have a skim through those? >>>>>

Speaking of 'five years', SuckSqueezeBangBlow will officially be celebrating its fifth birthday in September - be sure to keep the evening of Tuesday 11th September free. Come down to the Ace Café for some japes, yeah? Nice one.

OK, see you next week.  :)

Lotus Anglia

Ford never sold a Lotus Anglia, but if they had it would have looked very much like this. All of the key elements from the Lotus Cortina are in place: the rev-happy twin-cam with twin Webers, the Ermine White paint with Sherwood Green side-stripe, the Lotus steels with mirror-shiny hubcaps, the discrete Lotus badging. Bringing this home-built example up-to-date (and making it a little more fun on the track) are such entertaining additions as lower, stiffer suspension, Cobra buckets, a full rollcage and polycarbonate windows. Chapman would have approved.
Photos via ABcarpix

Rotary Corolla

Performance doesn't have to be pretty. Indeed, you can haul a ratty Corolla out of a field and wedge a Mazda 13B rotary engine under the bonnet, and you'll find yourself with something fairly rapid; your girl won't like it, but your mates might.
Under the bonnet of this Toyota you'll spot a Weber carb with 6" velocity stacks and, er, a gin bottle, while an oil cooler sits bōsō-style out front. It's slammed, rotary-powered, shod in wide wheels and, the buffers and polishers among you will be pleased to hear, won't be staying this way for long: plans are afoot to refresh the bodywork and let this ugly duckling blossom into a mighty condor, or something; performance doesn't have to be pretty, but sometimes pretty's nice. Click here to keep an eye on it.