Thursday, 31 March 2016

74MM - E-Type Crash

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Another casualty of Goodwood's 74th Members' Meeting, here's an E-Type that's a slightly different shape to what it oughta be. Sri Lankan racer Harindra de Silva was at the wheel of the '62 semi-lightweight when he lost the tail and went backwards into the tyre wall, spinning around and clouting the front for good measure.
Don't be sad, it'll get fixed. Cars of this calibre and provenance always get fixed.

More pics from 74MM here.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Bagged P1800 ES

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Undoubtedly one of the coolest cars at this year's Wheels Day, I have very little info to offer on this beyond a slightly excited 'Phwoar, blimey, look at that'. Which pretty much seemed to be the general bystander consensus on the day.

The ES was the final variant of Volvo's popular P1800 series, launched in 1972 to transform the sylph-like coupé into a sort of mini shooting brake. The engine was downtuned to be slightly less powerful but also far less peaky, as befitted the new gran turismo styling, and the model came with a frameless all-glass tailgate, which is of course ineffably cool.
This particular one is running air-ride and a set of Japan Racing JR10 wheels, and that's all it needs to make it one of the most desirable cars on the retro scene today. Most people don't know what it is, and those that do have never seen one like this before. Simple, but effective. Lovely.

More pics from Wheels Day 2016 here.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

RML / Triple Eight BTCC Vectra

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

'Never meet your heroes,' they say. But they're idiots - meeting your heroes is awesome.
OK, the Vauxhall Vectra has never been the most desirable or aspirational car, but in Supertouring form? Oh, all Supertourers are desirable. Heroic, magical things. Mondeos, Accords, 850s, they were all super-cool, and I had posters of every single one on my bedroom wall in the '90s. So you can imagine my excitement at Goodwood's 74th Members' Meeting this year to find so many of them all in one place, period perfect and ready to roar.

This particular one is a Vectra built by Ray Mallock Ltd (RML) for Vauxhall's 1996 campaign, driven by James Thompson. However, in '97 it was updated by Triple Eight Race Engineering and raced by Derek Warwick in the Sunday Times colours, as you see here. In the intervening time it's been all over the place, driven by various independents in the BTCC, then into the Formula Saloon Championship, and on to the Norway Touring Car Championship before making its way across Europe. But as you can see, today chassis no. V96B-001 is resplendent in the aesthetic of its 1997 glory days, and it looks just magnificent. Like your neighbour's old commuter car, but stickered up, tucking massive multispokes with colossal brakes behind them, a tangle of monkey bars peeping out through the windows. Spectacular.

More pics from 74MM here.

Monday, 21 March 2016

74MM - Cobra Crash

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

One of the more engaging elements of Goodwood's various motorsport events is that the cars involved are actually being used as their makers intended. Sure, if you'd spent seven figures on a car it might be tempting to wrap it up in cotton wool and squirrel it away where nobody could hurt it, but it's an undeniable fact that race cars were built to race. And so at Goodwood, that's what they do.
The flipside of this joyful situation is that motorsport tends to involve the odd fender-bender. Or, as in the case of this '63 Cobra at the 74th Members' Meeting, a massive, terrifying smash. Unfortunately, driver Karsten Le Blanc just ran out of road (or grip, or something), and suddenly the car was much shorter than before.
Still, it's just a car, isn't it? Le Blanc thankfully walked away from the accident, and the Cobra can be rebuilt. It'll be difficult and expensive, but that's the game. It's another story in the car's history. And that's better than being locked up in some plutocrat's garage, isn't it?

More pics from 74MM here.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Mercedes-Benz 190E Evo II

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Homologation models are arguably the coolest cars on the road, and the most extreme examples are the ones whose existence is directly fuelled by bitter rivalry. Cars built out of spite and anger.
While BMW and Mercedes-Benz locked horns on the DTM scene in the late-eighties, their necessary homologation cars grew ever more aggressive; BMW's iconic M3 Sport Evo was countered by Merc's 190E Evolution, which featured a very clever engine - its capacity and power output were very similar to the regular 2.5-16, but a shorter stroke and bigger bore made it much revvier, and M-B were happy to bolt on the DM18,000 PowerPack which threw in hot cams and a bigger throttle body for a 30bhp gain. It also had nifty next-gen suspension, its ride height adjustable at the flick of a switch. But as the two German brands thrusted and parried, so their respective racers evolved, and the road-going counterparts became ever more extreme...

What you're looking at here is the 190E Evo II, which debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in 1990. It built on the strong foundations of the 190E Evolution, and added an extraordinary aero bodykit comprising a huge, adjustable rear wing, jutting front splitter, rear window spoiler, and vast arch extensions wrapped around those delicious 17" wheels. This all reduced drag to a CD of 0.29, and created real downforce.
Just 502 Evo IIs were built; the first 500 in this shade of Blauschwarz blue-black metallic, with the final two being Astral Silver. Impressively, despite their phenomenal performance and race car DNA, these cars remained true to Mercedes' luxury car principles - they were comfortable and amenable daily drivers, stuffed with wood and leather. It really was a race car you could use every day, complete with air-con and a quality stereo.
What are these things worth today? Well, start at six figures and work upwards...

Spotted at the London Classic Car Show - more pics here.

Monday, 14 March 2016

KPGC10 Hakosuka

Words and photos - Daniel Bevis

The Nissan Skyline GT-R is a near-mythical beast; a machine so accomplished and desirable that you have to keep reminding yourself that it actually exists. A generation of Gran Turismo gamers fell in love with the unstoppable R32 model of 1988-94, and grew further enraptured with the subsequent R33 and R34 - and of course the non-Skyline-badged R35 GT-R that today redefines what's possible in the sports car sphere with its hermetically-sealed engine, brainbox chassis and nitrogen-filled tyres.

...but this is where it all began. While the Skyline name had been in existence since 1957, it was the C10 generation of 1968-72 that first introduced the world to the aspirational hedonism of the Skyline GT-R. The four-door PGC10 and, as you see here, two-door KPGC10 featured the 160bhp S20 2.0-litre DOHC straight-six, in combination with an extensive weight-loss programme, to guide the model to glory in over fifty race victories in its short production run. Affectionately nicknamed 'Hakosuka' by its fans ('hako' meaning 'box', 'suka' being short for 'sukairain', or 'skyline'), it's now a tremendously sought-after thing - not least because the majority of surviving C10s have been dressed up to look like GT-Rs. This is the genesis of a legend. And it looks sensational, doesn't it?

Spotted at the London Classic Car Show - more pics here.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Team Essex Sunbeam Lotus

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

One of my favourite cars at the London Classic Car Show was actually largely hidden from view, crammed amongst a bunch of walkways rather than being showcased in a more central location. But that simply adds to the charming sense of discovery and secrecy, doesn't it?

The story goes that David Thieme, owner of the Essex Overseas Petroleum Corporation, effectively invented the concept of Formula One corporate hospitality and, having secured a sponsorship deal for the Lotus F1 team in 1979, made sure that the paddock always featured a triple-decker motorhome (complete with a bar, showers, a briefing room, and a rooftop balcony) and a VIP car wearing the Essex Petroleum livery. Now, since the car's function was to transport drivers from airports to circuits and what-have-you, a low-slung two-seater like the Esprit might have been impractical... so the team plucked a Lotus Sunbeam from the production line, choosing one in European spec (you'll spot that it's left-hand drive and badged as a Simca) with a view to keeping the thing in Monaco. It was collected from the factory by Director of Operations Julian Rivett, who drove it straight to Monte Carlo, and liked it so much that he kept it for thirty years. It's been UK registered since 1980 but has spent much of its life lording it up on the Riviera; it's also recently had a £50k+ restoration and is now for sale, a mint one-owner car, at Lap63. How much? Well, if you have to ask...

More pics from the London Classic Car Show here.