Friday, 30 August 2013

The Beach

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

We didn't really get much of a summer in Britain in 2012, so we have a lot to be thankful for now - sure, the sun popped out briefly last year during the Olympics, but 2013 has been an absolute scorcher throughout, and it's showing no signs of stopping. And so, as that magnificent celestial orb continues to relentlessly blaze down over England, here are some summery photos to carry you into the weekend.

Every year at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Lord March transforms his cricket pitch into something eyecatching along the lines of a specially chosen theme; in past years it's showcased iconic dragsters or Formula One cars, but this year it was all about land speed records. You'll undoubtedly recognise a few of these brutes; Donald Campbell's swoopy Bluebird-Proteus CN7, Sir Malcom's Campbell-Railton Blue Bird, the vintage Sunbeam 350HP, these all have legendary status. The vast red Sunbeam 1000HP was the first car to break the 200mph barrier back in the late twenties (and, in case you doubt it, it has that fact emblazoned upon its flanks). And of course, there's the Blue Flame - one of my all-time favourite cars, this rocket-propelled Goliath tore across the Bonneville salt flats in 1970 to attain a record speed of 622.407mph. Which is, er, pretty quick. And it looks gorgeous - perfect stance, perfect proportions.

All seems rather serene as they lounge about in the sand though, doesn't it?

Click here for more photos from the 2013 Festival of Speed.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Hillman Avenger Tiger

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

If you've ever fancied owning an Avenger Tiger, now is the time to strike. With prices for top-flight examples stretching well into five figures, collectors are starting to see these racy four-doors as not only a viable alternative to the Escort Mexico, but something that offers a whole lot more rarity.

The Avenger Tiger, as with so many performance cars over the generations, began life as a PR exercise. In March 1972, the Chrysler Competitions Centre began lifting shiny new Avenger Supers from the production line and monkeying about with them to make them more enticing to petrolheads; the 1500GT motor was fitted, its cylinder head ported and sporting larger valves, along with twin Weber carbs and a raised compression ratio. All of this enabled a heady peak power figure of 94bhp. The brakes, gearbox and rear axle all came from the GT, while the suspension was uprated to suit the various changes.
The performance figures - 0-60mph in 8.9s, 108mph - beat those of the Escort Mexico, and so the Tiger grew from a styling and performance exercise to a full production model in October '72. These used the quad-headlight Avenger GL shell, and around 400 were built (in addition to the 200-odd originals), available in either Wardance Red or Sundance Yellow. And because it was the nineteen-seventies, they had awesome graphics plastered all over them too. Naturally.
So - would you rather have the cachet of a Mexico, or a quicker car for rather less cash...?

This pristine example was spotted at the 2013 Retro Rides Gathering. Click here for more photos.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

'86 Celica Supra

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

When you're walking around a show, it's nice to see a car and think 'ah, I know that one...' - whether it's something you've seen online, or used to belong to a friend, it's the familiarity that provides a hook. If you're lucky enough to write features for magazines, you might spot cars that you've written about in the past. And this Celica Supra was particularly eyecatching for me, as it was the subject of the first car feature I ever had published in print.

It's an exercise in well-chosen tweaking rather than overt in-your-face boisterousness. The body is clean, straight and true, gently lowered over a set of moody-black rims; there's a carbon bonnet at one end and a JDM hatch spoiler at the other. Under the bonnet is 300bhp of turbocharged green mayhem. Sure, it may not have been the most outlandish or outrageous car at the Retro Rides Gathering, but for me it was rather special to see the old girl again. Happy memories.

Click here for more RRG13 photos

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Goodwood Revival 2013: An Unofficial Guide

Words & photos - Mark Saunders

With less than a month to go, tickets for the 2013 Goodwood Revival meeting have already sold out. For those of you lucky enough to have got tickets, SuckSqueezeBangBlow's resident GRRC member Mark Saunders presents an unofficial guide to getting the best from your Revival weekend. And if you haven’t got tickets, read on - and get yourself in the queue for next year!

Goodwood Revival is quite simply the world's best historic motor racing event. An action-packed weekend of racing, aircraft displays, attractions and shopping beckon, and visitors are encouraged to dress up for the occasion. With more than 70% of Revival visitors now attending in period attire it seems a good idea to start here...
There is no actual dress code; the period guidelines are from 1939 when RAF Westhampnett (which later became the circuit) started, to 1966 when the circuit closed for racing. This is not a fancy dress competition so it's probably best to avoid the Elvis look! Think what you would have worn had you been to the circuit in period – for men, a shirt and tie, jacket, hat or flat cap and smart shoes. Or perhaps a military uniform – RAF seems the most popular but best avoid German military! And for the ladies, dresses, tights, fur, hats, scarves and handbags, WAAF’s or Land Girls - oh, and don’t forget the red lipstick!

The Revival weekend is spread over three days, with Saturday and Sunday as race days. That leaves Friday for practise, and a good day for soaking up the atmosphere, checking out the paddocks, attractions and shopping around the circuit. A '60s-style Tesco store complete with provisions is a good place to get a cheap sandwich, and you can use your Clubcard to get points too!

Watch out too for Haurel and Lardy performing routines, as well as the gorgeous GlamCab girls! This year there will be one race on the Friday to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the Goodwood Nine-Hour races. Starting at 6.15pm, the race will run for ninety minutes into the dusk with car headlights ablaze.

Saturday and Sunday are the main race days, beginning at 8.30am with the band of the Royal Marines and a track blessing by the Canon of Chichester – himself a Goodwood fan. Over the two days races cover many categories from saloon cars, motorbikes, sports racing prototypes and Grand Prix cars. Highlights include the St Mary’s Trophy race, which this year is for saloon cars raced between 1960-1966, and the RAC TT Celebration race featuring one of the most expensive grid line-ups anywhere in the world. This year, however, the highlight for many will be the Whitsun Trophy race which will be a one-model race dedicated to the inimitable Ford GT40! This will be the first dedicated race in history for these iconic cars and will feature many significant and authentic examples.

As well as action on the ground, the Revival is well-noted for its aerial flying displays. Spitfires, Hurricanes, Mustangs and especially the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Lancaster bomber are welcome sights during the weekend. There are also planes on the ground in the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation enclosure.

2013 sees several anniversaries and tributes during the weekend. On track there will be daily parades celebrating 110 years of the Tour de France with a peloton of riders on period bikes. Look out for the odd familiar face! Aston Martin celebrates its 100th anniversary, and there will be a special parade of cars connected to the late, great Jim Clark. Add to this the Earls Court Motor Show, food, music entertainment, the Mods and Rockers, and of course the ‘rozzers’.

If all of this sounds great but you haven’t got a ticket, then why not come along to the pre-'73 car park? It's free to get in and has been described as ‘the greatest free car show in England’. Here you will find '60s Minis rubbing shoulders with likes of Austin Healey, Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, Bugatti, Bentley and even Morris Minors. There is a funfair, along with plenty of shops to browse. This is a day out in itself and one which many Revival-goers see but a small part of.