Thursday, 28 August 2014

Ambassador-spec Capri II

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

A few snaps here of a beautifully preserved mkII Capri. It originally belonged to the British Ambassador to China, who had a special crate made to ship it over there. It's now on only its third owner - a lifelong Capri enthusiast back here in the UK - has just 14,000 miles on the clock, and still enjoys its diminutive 1,600cc motor and three-speed autobox. A lovely timewarp piece with an interesting history - I wrote a feature on it for this month's Retro Ford magazine, which you should go out and buy. Right now. Ta.

Spotted at the Players Classic - click here for more photos.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Hayabusa Imp

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

One of the shining stars of the 2014 Retro Show, this Hillman Imp is more than just a flawlessly finished restoration... it's got a frickin' bike engine in the back!
Converted by Z-Cars (who have all kinds of fun stuffing superbike engines into Minis and what-have-you), the rear of the car behind that chequerplate firewall has been gutted, spaceframed, and fitted with the motor from a Suzuki GSX1300R - the fabled Hayabusa, which kicks out a howling 160bhp-odd in standard tune. To make the Imp as light as possible it's been stripped of pretty much everything, with the interior featuring little more than a pair of minimalist Kirkey buckets and a custom mesh dash. There are lots of neat detail touches - the position of the exhaust outlet, for example, and those gulping side intakes - while the Imp's quirkiest feature, the opening rear window, suddenly becomes rather useful for getting to the engine. Very nicely done indeed.

Spotted at the 2014 Retro Show - click here for more photos.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Berg Cup E30

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

This E30 3-Series is the work of Thomas Ostermann - Berg Cup hero and all-round BMW champ. He took the car to victory in the up-to-3-litre class of the 2013 KW 8v Trophy, helped enormously by the car's no-nonsense attitude, severe weight-loss program and aggressive aero package.
The car began life as a Hartge H26 - a 325i-based tuner special with hot cams, a spicier ECU and various other tweaks - before being totally stripped down by the difficult-to-please Ostermann and rebuilt to Group A Touring Car spec. This naturally evolved, by virtue of the varied events he competed in, to comprise fibreglass panels, a weight reduction down to 950kgs, the Group 2 arches from a BMW 2002, fibreglass M3 bumpers, and BBS rims that are 9.5" wide up front and a distinctly weird 10.7" out back. An impressive package overall, is it not? Oh, and it's a four-door, which scores extra why-the-hell-not points. Sounds pretty good too...

Spotted at the 2014 Apex Festival - click here for more photos.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

TWR Mazda RX-7

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

A few snaps here of a rather cool RX-7 racer... and not just any RX-7, but the very car that Tom Walkinshaw drove to victory in the 1981 Spa 24hrs alongside Pierre Dieudonné. Impressively, it's still competing in its original spec, and even wearing most of the original paint!
I wrote a feature on the car for the latest issue of Banzai - it's in the shops today, you should buy it. Yeah? Or download it from here. Nice one.

...and click here for more photos from Goodwood's 72nd Members' Meeting, where these pics were taken.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

SEAT Ibiza Cupster

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Life begins at 30, as they say. (Don't they? No? OK, well, whatever.) And this year is the SEAT Ibiza's 30th birthday, so what better way to celebrate than by, er, cutting its head off?
The Ibiza Cupster is a one-off styling exercise that incorporates various classic speedster cues - chopped down windscreen, little roll hoops behind the seats and what-have-you. The body is actually all stock Ibiza up to the shoulder-line, but then it all gets a bit silly (in a wonderful way, of course), although those sculpted bucket seats actually sit around 80mm lower than they would in the standard hatchback, to save your barnet from wind-derived vandalism. It's got a shouty 178bhp turbo four-pot and it's bright orange. That work for you? I think it's pretty cool...

Spotted at the 2014 Festival of Speed - click here for more photos.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Bōsō Sunny

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Bōsōzoku is a subculture that often takes a lot of explaining. Literally meaning 'reckless tribe', the ethos traces its roots back to illegal motorcycle street-racers of the 1950s, their outrageously styled bikes tearing up the streets of suburban Japan with little regard for safety or the law. Fast-forward sixty years, however, and this is what bōsō means today...
The modern bōsōzoku car actually owes a lot to the styling treatments of their forefathers in the 1980s, which are enjoying a huge renaissance of late. We're talking sump-clattering ride height, surreally caricaturised bodykits, jutting sharknoses, comically extended exhausts, in-your-face retro colour schemes - a deliberately jarring aesthetic. Imagine a Group 5 racer from the 1970s, if it were animated by Marvel Comics. It's the kind of vibe that makes the vast majority of onlookers laugh and scoff. Which is just what the bōsō driver wants.

You don't see a lot of cars styled in this manner in the UK; the Nissan Sunny you see here is something of a show regular, evolving gradually over the years. At last year's Retro Show it was wearing flat green paint, and as you can see it's now rocking a rather splendid black-and-gold affair, complete with skyscraping pipes. A real 'why the hell not?' car that SSBB just loves.

Spotted at the 2014 Retro Show - click here for more photos.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Alfa Romeo Giulia 1300TI

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

This 1966 Alfa Romeo is a vision of retro perfection - from the Verde Muschio paint to the brown and cream interior, everything about it exudes old-school class.
As utilitarian and functional a model as the Giulia may have been, Alfa nevertheless built them with the customary flair and zip that you'd expect; the revvy 1,290cc four-pot is a lightweight twin-cam, while the crisp three-box styling is the sort of form that reveals more details the more you pore over it. The earlier four-headlamp nose that was fitted to this in the 1980s glints in the light like a bag of diamonds, and the kinks in the bootlid make something sculptured and beautiful out of what could have been simply a flat surface. The whole thing is very pretty indeed.
Oh, and the police used them in The Italian Job, which makes them even cooler. OK, they couldn't keep up with the Minis, but that's probably not totally realistic...

Spotted at MATP 2014 - click here for more photos.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Dimma 205 GTI

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

My love for the 205 GTI is no secret. I've owned five of them, including running Retro Cars magazine's #Project87, and I've got nothing but praise for the rattly little terriers.
And the Dimma GTI was, in many ways, the Holy Grail of French hot hatch excess. Taking the diminutive proportions of the 205 and pumping them up to altogether more muscular girth (as was the style at the time - it was the 1990s, flashy bodykits were a given), it was no thrown-together chop job - Dimma built over 250 GTIs at their workshop, taking great care over the wide arches, the beefed-up bumpers, the custom wheels that turned the standard 15" Speedlines into 16" split-rims...
This particular one turns the retro tuning knob up to eleven with the period engine swap du choix, the Mi16 - basically a relatively simple way of getting reliable twin-cam power under the bonnet without hacking up the bay; this one also has throttle bodies with sodding great ram pipes.
The interior hasn't been overlooked either, with the overall quality of build reflected by the sumptuous leather retrim - all-in-all, a nineties boy racer's dream. And while some may regard it as slightly tacky in 2014, it rekindles a strong yearning in the soul of anyone who read Max Power and Revs in the 1990s. A flawless slice of hot hatch history.

Spotted at the 2014 Retro Show - click here for more photos.