Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Michelotti Dolomite mkII

The Triumph Dolomite will always have a special place in my heart. My parents had one (Sandglow Yellow, vinyl roof) when I was a kid, and I remember it being thoroughly exciting, even when I was four.
It's surprising that the model doesn't have more of an enthusiastic following today. Sure, it has its fans, but a Michelotti-styled, rear-wheel drive, British-built car with genuine sporting heritage should be pretty hot property, right? But no, for a lot of people it's mired in the quagmire of British Leyland's decline - something that many find too large a hurdle to overcome.
Perhaps if the mkII Dolomite had come into being, things might have been different. It's basically the same underneath, but the fresher face and TR6 tail-lights would have seemed rather modern for the 1980s, while the double-wishbone front suspension and Sprint-spec lower stance would have been a competent package. OK, it's basically just a facelift, but it's interesting nonetheless - BL commissioned Michelotti to revamp the Dolomite in the late seventies to gauge potential, but sadly it fell victim to the conglomerate's iffy finances. What could have been...

Pics from various sources, aggregated here.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

McLaren Art Car

Yes, of course Art Cars were BMW's idea. But if other manufacturers want to get in on the act, we're more than OK with that - particularly if they look as stop-you-in-your-tracks gorgeous as this McLaren 12C. (And hey, the old McLaren F1 had a BMW engine, there's a sort of heritage link there. Or something.)
Fresh from dropping the 'MP4-' from its name, this facelifted 12C has been artfully reimagined by German tuner Hamann Motorsport; it's reminiscent of Jeff Koons' BMW GT2 Art Car, although the loosely-defined colour separation is more akin to Andy Warhol's M1. Any details about the McLaren Art Car are mere speculation until further info is released, so you'd probably better keep an eye on their Facebook page...

'Bagged A7

The A7 is a bit of an opinion divider - partly for its role in Audi's masterplan of making a four-door coupé variant of seemingly every car in the model range, and partly because its rear end looks really sad and depressed.
Love 'em or loathe 'em, however, you can't deny that the removal of ground clearance adds a little something. Much like the hugely long cars of 1960s America, the sizeable A7 cuts quite a dash when the entire bulk is sitting on the floor - it's that old idea of so-wrong-it's-right; something this massive looks brilliantly peculiar when slammed.
It's an AccuAir air-ride system that gets it sitting so low over those 10x20" three-piece Messer rims. Beyond that, the TDI A7 is largely standard. Works though, doesn't it?
Click here for more.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Jordan Civic

This may appear to be a workaday Civic in an eyewatering banana hue, but it is in fact a surprisingly rare car. The Jordan Civic was a limited-run special edition sold in the UK in 1999-2000, built in homage to the Mugen Honda Jordan Formula One team. Just 500 were built, each with their own numbered plaque featuring the signature of celebrated motorsport hobbit Eddie Jordan, the Louis Walsh of F1. The cars were based on the Civic VTi, with its revvy VTEC engine and racy spoilers, and added Sunlight Yellow paintwork, a waspish black-and-yellow leather interior, and copious Jordan decals and logos.
There aren't a lot of Jordans left, thanks to their relative obscurity and apparent throwaway nature, so it's nice to see one receiving a little love. The one you see here features XXR 002 split-rims, Tein Superstreet coilovers, a Supersprint exhaust, Integra DC2 Recaros and some aggressively adjustable rear camber arms. It'll annoy the purists, but... there probably aren't that many purists.
More here.

Subtle Sapphire

With builds like this, subtlety is key.
There was a time when Sierra Sapphires were everywhere, and the fact that they're relatively scarce now is one that passes unnoticed for most, given their ubiquity as minicabs and the like within near-ish living memory. So to the average person on the street, this Sapphire wouldn't attract a second glance. But to those with a keen eye, there are a number of details that make it rather special; first and foremost, the fact that all of the shutlines are absolutely perfect - better than they would have been from the factory, even. That's the sign of a quality build. Then there are the Porsche 944 Azev alloys, the smoked detail inside the headlights... the fact that the whole thing is very understated. Rather than follow the thoroughly well-trodden path of Cosworth bumpers and what-have-you, the owner's kept it to basic 'L' spec. Hell, it's even got orange indicators.
Click here for more.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Wacky Wilkes: Spirit of Drag Week

This is rather a lovely story. Mick 'Wacky' Wilkes is a friendly, unassuming chap from the West Midlands who drives an old Bedford van. This is a van that he's built up by himself in his garage, running a turbocharged Vauxhall XE twink with nitrous, sending just shy of 500bhp through those skinny 13" rears.
This year, Wacky decided to take his Bedford to Drag Week - an event that sees participants going head-to-head in five drag events on five consecutive days, in far flung locations across the USA; it's a gruelling and arduous event that sees the convoy driving 1,400 miles in total, in addition to the strain put on the cars by the timed daily runs on the strips.
Now, not only did Wacky not really know anyone (aside from girlfriend and co-pilot Deb) or indeed anything much about the US, but the point where he had his van shipped to was some six hundred miles from the start point of Drag Week. It was a truly Herculean effort, and by all accounts he was the very apogee of charm and friendliness throughout, an attitude that won him the coveted 'Spirit of Drag Week' award.
The Americans call him 'that Spinal Tap guy', for obvious reasons.

Image sources: one, two, three

4th-gen Mazda Cosmo

This is a pretty high-scoring machine in the Top Trumps 'Cars Your Mates Probably Haven't Heard Of' deck. Sold between 1990-95, the Cosmo was a top-end luxury super-coupé marketed under the swanky Eunos banner. It was ballistically quick, thanks to its twin-turbocharged triple-rotor Wankel engine (the only production car ever, in fact, to feature a triple-rotor motor); just 8,875 were sold, most with the 1.3-litre 13B engine - the larger 20B (2.0-litre), as seen in this car, offered a mighty 300bhp as standard.

It was also a glorious technological showcase, offering levels of tech advancement that were spaceship-like in 1990. When you turned the key, the black flat-panel dash leapt into life with colourful digital dials, while the centre console featured the fancy new Car Control System, a full-colour touchscreen operating the GPS, air-con, mobile phone, television, CD player & radio. Imagine all of that in 1990! It made even Mercedes-Benz look backward.

Now, the example in these photos is far from standard; the car is a rare beast as it is, but this one is unique. It wears Panasport G7 split-rims with ludicrous 335-section tyres on the rear, and significant changes have gone on under the bonnet; while the Cosmo was the first car in the world to be fitted with a sequential twin-turbo system, they've been removed here and replaced with a single (massive) Garrett T88. There's also a nitrous oxide system.
The bodykit is of uncertain origin, but it adds girth to an already huge car. On the whole, the Cosmo is something of a hidden gem - if you see one on the road, you'll now know that they're furiously quick and enormously clever... but you almost certainly won't see one, as they're also really rather obscure. If you see this one, well, you'd probably better get out of the way.
via luckyseven

Thursday, 25 October 2012

mkII Golf V5

It's one of my favourite points of automotive pedantry that Volkswagen's VR6 engine isn't actually a V6, as a lot of people assume. It's a transversely-mounted straight-six, with every other cylinder slightly canted so that 1, 3 & 5 are at a marginally different angle to 2, 4 & 6 - but they all share the same cylinder head, so it's by no means a V-engine. (The same is true of the W-engines used by Bugatti, Bentley etc - they obviously aren't actually in a W configuration, that'd be mental.) So when VW launched the V5 engine with the mkIV Golf, it caused all kinds of hilarity - people assumed it was a V-engine with two cylinders on one side and three on the other. 'How can that work?' they asked, 'It must be inherently imbalanced.' Yes, it would be, except that it's actually just a VR6 with a cylinder lopped off; a straight-five, really.

We're now finding more and more opportunities to enjoy this pedantic V5 nitpicking, as it's becoming an increasingly popular engine swap in older VWs. As a standard unit, the red-badge 2.3-litre V5 offers 170bhp and is ripe for tuning; given its girthsome displacement, it's not all that heavy either.

The V5 in the mkII you see here, just for fun, throws a custom-built turbocharger into the mix. Power figures aren't given, but we can probably assume 250bhp+. The quality build also comprises FK coilovers, Corrado brakes, two-piece ARE wheels, sublime half-leather Recaros and a truly eyewatering shade of green, which really shouldn't work but somehow totally does. All in all, a pretty kickass mkII.
Click here for more.