Friday, 31 October 2014

Hooper Bentley 4 1/4 Litre

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

The most beautiful cars to emerge from the 1930s were those that revelled in the luxurious, swooping art deco style, and this '39 Derby Bentley MX is a prime example. Bodied by Hooper & Co, it wears the last body to be built by the firm before World War II - a one-off design, complemented by a unique interior. It's just dripping with gorgeous details; the twin fuel fillers in the split rear windows, the teardrop door handles, the swooping arches... it exudes the sort of elegance that makes angels weep.

You can read more about its history here, and see more photos from Salon Privé 2014 here.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Saab 99 Turbo

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

There are very few cars in the world that are cooler than the Saab 99 Turbo, and anyone who says otherwise is talking scribble. The unbeatable combination of solid Swedish construction, swoopy aerodynamics, an eager little Garrett turbo, and a mesmerising set of wheels that could have been designed by M.C. Escher, brought forth an absolute gem of a car. It had 143bhp, could do 124mph, and delivered its power in that characteristic way of all early mass-produced turbocharged motors: with a fair bit of lag, then a massive kick in the kidneys. Even today, in a world of ubiquitous and reliable everyday turbos, the 99's name is whispered reverentially in the same breath as the BMW 2002 Turbo and its fabled brethren. This is an important car.
...and, as an aside, this particular one appeared on Top Gear a couple of years ago - look:

Spotted at RRG14 - click here for more photos.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

MINI Superleggera

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

The constant expansion of the MINI brand is something that pleases some as much as it irks others. In addition to the standard three-door hatch, there's a new five-door, a Coupé, Clubman, Roadster, Convertible, Countryman, Paceman, Clubvan... covering pretty much every base of the modern motoring sphere. (Do spheres have bases?) The hackneyed cries of the detractors are sounding increasingly outmoded - 'it's not that mini any more, is it?' they proudly bellow, believing themselves to be possessed of Wildean wit. Truth is, the three-door still is kinda mini in a modern context. Have you ever tried to get anything larger than a bag of Doritos in the boot...?

Anyway, what we're looking at here is arguably the most impressive of the recent offerings - the Superleggera concept. Car nerds will recognise the trademarked Superleggera motif as that of the coachbuilders Touring, as glued to the bonnets of 1960s Aston Martins among much else. This MINI concept is based on a lightweight aluminium spaceframe, overlaid with hand-beaten, bespoke aluminium bodywork. It's pared back and simple, but dripping in gorgeous detail - the Union Flag tail-lights, for example, and the MINI Touring badging. It also supposedly represents how an all-electric MINI would be packaged, so it's not just a concours season bauble. Let's just hope they build something like this, eh?

Spotted at Salon Privé 2014 - click here for more photos.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Air-ride 607

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

If there's one thing the French are great at, it's building big cars that nobody buys. The Citroën C6, the XM, the Renault Safrane and Vel Satis, they're all notable by their absence from today's roads - and that also goes for the Peugeot 607. Which is what makes it such a great base for a project car - aside from being cheap-as-frites as a second-hand buy, you also have the fun of rolling into a showground and making everyone scratch their heads in bewilderment.
This Belgian 607 flies the flag for Kean Suspensions, the prolific air-ride perverts who live for laying cars' sills onto tarmac. It wears Work wheels - not all that easy to get hold of in Europe - and features the trademark smoothing and simplifying that charcaterises the Belgian tuning scene. That naughty side-rear exit exhaust is a brilliant touch too.
...and that's not all! Click here, and you'll see that the car's now matt black and rocking BBS rims. Evolution, innit.

Spotted at the 2014 Players Classic - click here for more.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Betty the Brown Beetle

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

This flat-window Beetle, Betty, is a beautifully executed restoration that ticks a lot of fashionable boxes - the panscraping stance, the banded steels with insane camber, the narrowed front beam, the sumptuously trimmed seats - it really is a lovely job. It's the work of a chap named Seann Hodson - click here, you can see a photographic history of the resto, demonstrating just what a huge amount of work he's put in. He's been very busy.

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

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Maserati Barchetta

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Don't feel too bad if you haven't seen a Maserati Barchetta before - they only built seventeen of them. Each one featured a 2.0-litre 24v V6 mounted amidships, and most were built in corsa (racing) spec, although a number have subsequently been converted to stradale (street-legal) trim to complement the early prototypes. Built at the De Tomaso plant in Modena, the cars featured ultra-light bodies in a mix of carbon-fibre and fibreglass, draped over a lightweight spaceframe; the Grantrofeo Barchetta series saw the cars compete in anger in 1992/3, and their legacy lived on in the De Tomaso Guara, which utilised a modifed form of the Barchetta's frame.

This particular Barchetta belongs to Cornelia Baur. It was originally raced in the Grantrofeo Barchetta by Cor Euser, and was run in period by High Klas Racing of Denmark. You see it here in the Maserati centenary class at Salon Privé, where it more than held its own amongst the other obscure trident-bearing classics. It was a lot of fun to stand next to, because most passers-by would perform comical double-takes and then scamper over to find out what the hell it was. (Me included, actually, I'd never heard of it before.) Rather beautiful, isn't it? And I like its little moustache.

Click here for more photos from Salon Privé 2014.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Wolseley 1300 Plus

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

The British Motor Company were really rather generous when it came to sharing models across brands. After their ADO16 platform appeared in 1962, it ended up being badged as an Austin 1100 & 1300 with the same numbers found on MG, Morris and Wolseley variants; it was also a Riley Kestrel, Austin America, Innocenti IM3 and various others. They squeezed every drop of value out of that design.

It was an eminently practical family car in its day, but of course the world has moved on. We live in a spiralling consumer culture, the descent into stuff-gathering is inevitable and unquenchable, and that's why you see the families of 2014 driving around in Volvo XC90s. They need the space to cart their things about.
Not this fella, though. He's applied a little lateral thinking to his load-carrying requirements, and increased the capacity of his Wolseley 1300 by simply chopping another one in half and tying it to the back. That's British ingenuity, that is.

Spotted at the 2014 Concours de l'Ordinaire - click here for more photos.