Monday, 28 April 2014

Spyker B6 Venator Spyder

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Owning a Spyker is like being in an exclusive club for brilliant eccentrics. The C8 Aileron is a wilfully obtuse, bejewelled trinket with an Audi V8, a machine-turned dash and an exposed gear linkage. The D12 Peking-to-Paris concept was way ahead of its time back in 2008, with a W12 heart and sumptuously trimmed bucket seats - had it survived to production, it'd certainly have shown Bentley's forthcoming SUV a thing or two about style and belligerence. Spykers are for moneyed lunatics who feel that Koenigseggs are bit common.

SuckSqueezeBangBlow was present for the European unveiling of this celebration of Dutch weirdness, the Venator, at last year's Salon Privé. Latin for 'Hunter', it aims to shake up the supercar sphere by eschewing the swept-volume arms race of V8s, V10s and V12s, instead employing a mid-mounted V6. This refined unit is more than man enough for the otherworldy thrust that the shocking looks promise, with 375bhp propelling the lissom sub-1400kg form. This is very much of the performance car zeitgeist at present, with high-end metal seeing a shift toward lighter weight and less need for stratospheric bhp figures; the Veyron, for example, feels something of a juvenile anachronism alongside the grown-up Venator.

Just as you'd hope from a new Spyker, the B6 is a riot of peculiarities, most notably the individually-lettered chrome slogan on the flanks: 'Nulla tenaci invia est via' - the company's slogan, meaning 'For the tenacious, no road is impassable'. (That's all very well, but try bouncing the Venator over the potholes of southwest London...) The physics-bending LED tail-lights echo the iris-type propelling nozzle of a jet engine, while the interior is as close as you're likely to get to an ultra-luxury vintage aircraft without some kind of plutocratic time machine. It's the kind of car that leaves you awestruck - the level of detail, the quality of the fit-and-finish, it's like a finely tailored suit. The fact that it's so astounding and deliberately odd in its design merely complements the quality.
So... your new favourite performance car?

See more photos from Salon Privé 2013 here.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Swiftune Hornet

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Call me perverse, but I've always preferred the booted variants - the Wolseley Hornet and Riley Elf - to the standard Mini bodyshape. There's just something about that stubby tail that really works for me.
And this little red Hornet's pretty cool, isn't it? The open, carefree nature of the Goodwood paddock allows free access to poke about while the car's undressed, its boot and bonnet resting casually by the fence, so we can peer in and see what makes the little racer tick. There's a saucy Swiftune A-series on twin SU carbs, a stripped and caged interior with a sole driver's bucket, a fuel cell in the boot, and a dinky set of Minilites. Everything you need for a bit of lightweight sixties fun, plus room in the boot for your groceries. (I mean, there would be, if it didn't have the fuel tank in there...)

Spotted at 72MM - click here for more photos.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Fulvia Rallye 1.3 HF

Words & pictures - Daniel Bevis

Lancia's jewel-like Fulvia was, like every car in their canon, a mould-breaking and forward-thinking little thing - V4 engines, lightweight construction, Pirelli Cinturato tyres... and the coupé variant was a little peach.
Given Lancia's enthusiasm for motorsport, a variety of homologation models were inevitable; the original Fulvia HF of 1965 featured aluminium doors, bonnet and boot along with Plexiglass windows and a tuned version of the 1,216cc V4 that offered 88bhp. The next evolution was the car that you see here - the Fulvia Rallye 1.3 HF: much the same, but with a new 1,298cc V4 and 101bhp. Further evolutions naturally followed - the 1.6 HF, the Monte Carlo, the Safari - but the Rallye 1.3 HF is arguably the ideal mix of purity and performance. Looks pretty damn good too, doesn't it?

Spotted at 72MM - more photos here.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

TWR's Jaguar XJS racers were brutal, shouty things. Wide, low, mean, absurdly noisy, and about as far removed from the wood-and-leather grand touring pretensions of the base car as you're likely to get. They're pretty scarce though, naturally, so what do you do if you want to get hold of one and stick it in your garage? Why, fake it of course...

This XJS has had over 1,200 hours of work poured into it by Jaguar themselves back in 2009 to turn it into a faithful TWR replica. The '88 V12 is true to racer specs, including modified roof, A-pillars and bulkheads; it's got an FIA rollcage and fire extinguisher system, racing buckets with 6-point harnesses, and beefy brakes. The 5.3-litre V12 has been fettled in period style (AJ6 throttle bodies, stainless downpipes and so on), and the Getrag 5-speeder and Powr-Lok diff would surely meet with Mr Walkinshaw's approval. And look, it's just £44k. That's a lot of retro race car for the cash.

Spotted at 72MM - click here for more photos.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

'66 Cooper S

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Here's a Mini I'd love to know more about - from the outside, it appears to be perfect in all respects... I wonder what's going on under the bonnet?
As you can see, it's a 1966 Cooper S with Minilites and sticky tyres, and the period-appropriate (and oh-so-cool) leather bonnet strap. It's clearly been contemporised inside to make it fit for purpose in a modern context, with that purposeful rollcage and huggy Sparco bucket, but the coolest thing of all is those side-stripes. Aren't they magnificent?
It's difficult for Minis to stand out in an increasingly homogenised modifying world, but this little '66 pulls off the look-at-me trick spectacularly. Wonderful little thing.

Spotted in the car park at 72MM - click here for more photos.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Lotus XI GT Breadvan

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

'Built with loving care. Treat like a virgin!!' So says the handwritten note on the dash of this obscure and unusual little race poppet.
The art of the breadvan is something that's eddied around motorsport history over the years, polarising opinions along the way. They operate from a position of pure function - the Ferrari 250 GT Drogo, for example, could never be viewed as anything like as beautiful as the 250 GT SWB upon which it was based, and yet exists within a unique microcosm of intrigue and awe. And the Sunbeam Tiger Le Mans: while not strictly a breadvan shape, its extended rear and Kamm tail make the thing look rather ungainly next to the sylph-like base car. But it's all about lap times.

And what we see here, a breadvan reworking of Lotus' teeny-tiny XI, is one of the most obscure of all. Entirely absent from the racing world for the last half-century, it popped up competition-ready at Goodwood's 72nd Members' Meeting. Interestingly, it originally came about because racing driver Graham Capel wanted to emulate the success of the aforementioned Drogo, turning the diminutive XI into a lightweight shooting brake. It was reasonably successful, but after its last race at Goodwood in 1964 it was converted back to a standard body. Thankfully its current owners - Twyman Racing - were fastidious in their research into the car's history, and have fully restored its unusual junk-in-the-trunk form, complete with period Plumstead Racing livery. Looks pretty natty, doesn't it?
It kicked no small amount of luxurious arse in the Moss Trophy at 72MM too - belying the humble nature of its Coventry Climax engine, it bested all of the Ferraris and, after an hour of racing, crossed the finish line in second place just half a second after the winning Aston Martin DB4 GT. A thoroughly impressive little machine.

Click here for more photos from 72MM.