Friday, 28 March 2014

Morgan Plus 8

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Morgan's Plus 8 is a generation-spanning dichotomy of old and new: a traditionally hand-crafted roadster with the body panels formed around an ash frame, and yet with a thoroughly modern heart thudding away beneath that artfully louvred bonnet.
The original Plus 8 of the late 1960s was powered by a Rover V8, offering a sort of hairy-chested speed-freak alternative to the more sedate roadsters in the model range. Evolution being what it is, today's Plus 8 packs a 4.8-litre BMW V8 offering 367bhp. Have a think about that number. Then look at how small the car is. It's insane.
Indeed, this is the lightest car it's possible to buy today that offers both V8 power and the ability to meet European safety regs. Squirrelled away within that classic form are such surprises as airbags and AP Racing brakes, as well as aircon, heated seats and a decent stereo. All very fitting in a car that costs £85,000.

Yes, that is a sizeable wedge for a car that has no room for luggage and, as such, is destined to be a toy rather than a tourer. But you don't buy one of these to be practical. You buy one because you appreciate traditional British craftsmanship, and you like driving so quickly that the scenery goes all wibbly.
SuckSqueezeBangBlow drove this rather fetching brown example recently - you can read all about it in a forthcoming issue of Retro Cars, as well as the next issue of Performance BMW...

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Minor 1000 Panda Car

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Driving a police car isn't all about high-speed pursuit, sliding dramatically across the bonnet and firing a few rounds at a bad slag who's done over a bookie's... sometimes it's necessary for Plod to plod about sedately and deal with the mundane minutiae of day-to-day policing. Making sure everyone's keeping their noses clean, being visible. And it's for this purpose that the Morris Minor 1000 found its niche. Sure, its performance would never set your trousers on fire, but it was a reliable and dependable old Hector. And hey, if you needed to chase the perpetrators of a diamond heist who were escaping in a mkII Jag, you'd just radio the control room and get them to despatch a V8 Rover...

This gracefully ageing Minor belongs to the Metropolitan Police's heritage fleet, seen here on manoeuvres through central London recently - click here for more photos. Suits the colour scheme rather well, doesn't it?

Monday, 24 March 2014

#Project87: Powerflow

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

SuckSqueezeBangBlow's 205 GTI, better known as Retro Cars magazine's #Project87, received a funky new exhaust recently. It's a full custom stainless steel job, with the bore increased to 2.25" throughout, minimal silencing for maximum shoutiness, and a set of saucy 3" twin tails. So, how far is sensible to travel for a new exhaust? How does a 300 mile round trip grab you...?
I took the GTI from Wandsworth down to TopGear in Bridport, Dorset. TopGear are the company that own Powerflow exhausts, and what they don't know about fabricating bespoke exhausts isn't worth knowing. You can read all about it in the new Retro Cars...

Friday, 21 March 2014

Datsun 260Z

Words - Daniel Bevis; photos - Wangan Warriors/Rens Adams

This Datsun 260Z is a shining example of old-skool/new rules; a true homebuilt hero. Fusing period straight-six tuning with a thoroughly modern approach to handling and stopping, it oozes quality from every pore.
I wrote a full feature on this car for the new issue of Banzai magazine, in the shops now. These photos are from an entirely different feature by Wangan Warriors - click here for their take on it, then go out and buy Banzai for the full story. Yeah? Off you pop.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Mumford Marina TC Convertible

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

While it may seem counter-intuitive to some to arrange the words 'this Morris Marina is jaw-droppingly gorgeous' into such an order, you can't deny that this one most certainly is.
Based on the rakish TC Coupé, the obscure conversion was carried out by noted roof-loppers Crayford, who performed the original design work before passing the job over to Plymouth-based British Leyland dealers Mumford. As you can see, a visual quirk makes the doors appear rather short on the coupé, leaving an unresolved space between the front and rear side windows into which Crayford shoehorned a little rectangle of glass; given the high cost of the conversion along with the arguably hurried-through aesthetic, Mumford Marinas didn't sell in huge numbers - so when you see them these days, they tend to have been looked after.
...and this one's really been looked after. Every inch of it looks showroom-fresh and in that colour, on those Dunlops, in that splendid condition, it really is a little gem. A genuinely desirable Marina.

Spotted at last year's Soft-Top Sunday Breakfast Club - click here for more photos.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Morgan 3 Wheeler

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Morgan's new-generation 3 Wheeler is a fabulously bonkers little thing - and I mean that in the most complimentary manner. There is arguably no new car on the market that can rival it for smiles-per-pound; it's a 550kg tub with two spindly wheels at the front, a fat one at the back, a V-twin bolted to the nose, and nothing else. And while there are just two cylinders, they displace a whole litre each; combine this with the open pipes that flank the body, and you get an animated pop-pop-pop like a WWII fighter plane.
It's a tight fit too - squishing into the seat and folding yourself under the wheel like intricate meat origami, you end up wearing the car like a metal cagoule, low enough to reach out and scratch the road surface with your fingernails. But despite the theatrics, it's a doddle to drive; the gearbox is a Mazda MX-5 item, the clutch is light... once you've got used to the tanker-like turning circle, it's a breeze. Literally, actually, as there's no real windscreen to speak of.
The most fun part is that all of that accessible torque is fired through the single rear wheel, which will break traction at any given opportunity - you'll find yourself taking every corner with an armful of opposite lock, snaking toward the horizon as the screeching tyre mixes with the thudding engine and rasping side-pipe crescendo. It really is a chuckle.

You can read more about SuckSqueezeBangBlow's Morgan adventures here at GoCompare Covered, and in further detail in a forthcoming issue of Retro Cars magazine.

Click here for more of SSBB's Morgan pics.