29 April, 2007

The cooler king

Whilst it's true that money can't buy you happiness, it will in the words of Pink Floyd's David Gilomour "allow you to park your yacht next to it". I try to have a relaxed attitude to little green scraps of paper - they are after all just a tool. Somebody gives me a little pile in exchange for several hours of work - I exchange them for beer, shelter, pictures of ladies in the nip and so forth.

But every now and again you see something for sale that makes you wish you'd paid a little less attention in school and ended up working in the City with the other idiots.

Steve McQueen's '63 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso is being offered for auction by Christie's in August, and those in the know predict it will achieve between $800,000 and $1.2 million.

Yes we all get a little tired of hearing how Steve was the 'barometer of cool' but dammit - he just oozes class. He personally spec'd medium-brown metallic paint and used it as a daily driver. I think I have a wee bit of man-love for Steve.

And let's face it sixties Ferraris (and Alfa's and Maserati and Astons and Jags) make their current incarnations look shit. There is such a thing as trying too hard.

Is selling crack still very profitable?

26 April, 2007

Bathurst NSW

The Mount Panorama Circuit, Bathurst, New South Wales may be familiar to you as the venue of the Bathurst 1000. I first saw this track in the late eighties when the Beeb covered this endurance touring car race on Grandstand.

Much like the Chevy/Ford rivalry in the States Bathurst has long been the place where Aussies saw their Ford/Holden loyalties played out, and these V8 muscle cars must be a real handful round Bathurst - I remember it as being bigger, but this onboard Elise lap shows just how snug the place is.

It also demonstrates just how close single-make racing is. Great stuff.

24 April, 2007

Soon to be published, with a foreword by Quentin Wilson

Set browsers to bookmark. You may not need it today, maybe not tomorrow. But someday soon, and for the rest of your life. This could be the definitive pub discussion referee - well that is if your pub discussions are anything like mine.

The Internet Movie Cars Database aims to be the most complete list on the web about cars, bikes, trucks and other vehicles seen in movies and on telly, and not just 'featured artists' either it logs the automotive bit parts and extras too. And it certainly seems pretty thorough, there are 84 pages of Dodges alone and it's growing all the time.

Thank Bob that in the internet we've stumbled upon an outlet for a certain type of bloke (and lets not fool ourselves it's always a bloke) to sort, list, arrange and file masses of trivia - so that we can conclusively state that Lovejoy featured three different models of Brough Superior as well as a Charger and a Montego amongst an enormous range of interesting tackle.

The undisputed star of Carry On Doctor (1967), an Aston Martin DB5

23 April, 2007

Keep reaching for that rainbow

Stateside they do it bigger and better - even if it's DUI. That's Driving Under the Influence for the Anglocentric. A former police officer returned the highest blood-alcohol reading ever recorded by a driver in Washington State.

Deana F. Jarrett achieved a barely believable 0.47 percent blood-alcohol reading on April 11th. More impressive than only hitting two cars was the fact that she was still alive.

The legal limit in Washington is 0.08 percent. A blood-alcohol level above 0.40 percent is potentially lethal. "Most people black out at between 0.35 and higher," said Detective Tim Gately of the Redmond Police Department said.

State Patrol guidelines require troopers to seek medical attention for people who have blood-alcohol readings above 0.25 percent. Jarrett was taken to hospital where she had to be restrained and was combative, according to a Patrol report.

Trooper Jeff Merrill, public-information officer for the State Patrol said they maintain records on all individuals who submit to a breath test in Washington. Thirty-five of the approximately 356,000 breath tests given since 1998 have registered above 0.40 percent, a records check revealed.

An average of 42,000 to 45,000 breathalyzer tests are given each year by all law-enforcement agencies in the state. No one had registered over 0.45 percent on a breath test, Merrill said.

20 April, 2007

We're gonna do what they said can't be done

1977 was a good year for cars on celluloid. A young(er) Roger Moore flung a gorgeously sleek new Esprit around Sardinia accompanied by Marvin Hamlisch's parping disco funk.

Meanwhilst across the pond Burt Reynolds at the height of his not inconsiderable powers was running interference for Snowman's wagon full of Coors to the sound of Jerry Reed.
(btw anybody following those two links who doesn't imediately start work on a driving compilation needs help)

In the eighties the Trans Am had a rep in Blighty as being a bit, well, council. Just like their be-mulleted brethren in dixie the owners knew it might not be sophisticated but you got a whole lot of cubes for your money.

Watching Smokey and the Bandit now - time has treated the Trans Am well. Handsome and muscular with just enough gold bling - it's a winner.

Good news then that to commemorate it Year One is teaming up with the veteran actor restoring and rebuilding a limited number of Bandit inspired Trans Ams. And they'll be doing a tip top job too.

Do you reckon anybody could do a resto job on Sally Fields for me?

17 April, 2007

Grand Prick

Another Grand Prix, another sterling performance from the new boy. Well done Lewis. He seems a nice enough chap. And you can hardly blame the lad for the fact that every mention of his name has commentator James Allen gushing like a teenage schoolgirl.

Last season Allen was merely very annoying, a pitiful drone of cliches and misplaced hyperbole. But it can only be one more podium before he actually starts masturbating whenever he mentions the McLaren driver.

To dull the pain in Spain when F1 rolls into Barcelona we'll need to take action.

One for the Road
Competitors will sink a shot of vodka each time Allen

  • Mentions Hamiltons incredible fitness, and his athletic physique
  • Calls Raikkonen "the Iceman"
  • Compares the rev limit of these cars with "the Ford Mondeo that you have at home"
  • Invokes the spirit of Hill and Mansell like some kind of twat-voiced John Bull
  • Refers to "The late, great" Ayrton Senna

Competitors will have to shotgun a can of Stella when

  • Louise Goodman catches up with Jenson Button and David Coulthard halfway through the race
  • Martin Blundell mangles the English language so badly Steve Rider visibly winces
  • Martin Brundle barges into a minor Euro-Royal or engages in horribly stilted verbal jousting with Bernie Ecclestone (just get over all this flirting and fuck him!)

I expect to be hog whimpering drunk by lap 9.

15 April, 2007

Short RS

Doing this kind of thing is hard enough in Photoshop - but some unhinged midlanders from Rugeley, Staffordshire have gone and done it in the metal.

Click through for more pictures, and after pondering just how much work it took, especially on the window, the next question to pass through your cortex will probably be why?

And who's to say? Perhaps it's the natural human urge to push the boundaries of fabrication. Maybe her indoors really has trouble parking. Or it could be that our intrepid oatcake eater felt that huge lift-off oversteer just wasn't happening wildy or quickly enough as he goes barreling into corners too fast.

Good luck sir! We hardly knew yee.

14 April, 2007

Eugenics, why the bad rep?

It's too late, they've already bred. The only hope now for a Darwin Award is a functioning airbag.

11 April, 2007

Woof woof

Breaking News

To coincide with the launch of their new plant there, German tuning house RUF has chosen Bahrain to announce the third generation of the RUF CTR today.

In a break from tradition the CTR3 is based not on the 911, but the mid engined Cayman.
Although the Cayman's styling has enjoyed a mixed reception the RUF treatment looks stunning - lending a previously unseen LMP style to the rear deck.

The twin-turbo 3.8L flat six engine's 700hp is sent to the wheels via a rumoured seven-speed sequential automatic gearbox that’s said to allow the CTR3 to reach a top speed of 360km/h.

It looks like it's going to be a real beauty - and may just put a few 911 purist noses out of joint.

The third generation car will struggle to achieve the kind of cult status of the original "YellowBird" CTR.

See the YellowBird fly at the Ring and wonder once more how the driver, Stefan Roser, manages to get cojones that big into a bucket seat.

Baby,You Can Drive My Car (If You Can Pass This Test)

There's a pretty tough quiz on the Newsweek site to test your knowledge of baby-boomer era car knowledge (US natch). I'm not sure whether to be ashamed or proud to get 60%

Test your knowledge of Boomer cars

10 April, 2007

Blue Hoon of Kentucky

Whilst Australians like to project the image of relaxed, good-time folk with literally no worries, it might surprise Europeans to know that they have many motoring laws so draconian John Reid would get moist just thinking about enforcing them.

But to add to anti-speeding legislation as strict as an angry Bavarian dominatrix, in the State of Victoria a new law allows cars to be seized based on heresay. A complaint that a car may have had a "sustained loss of traction" is enough for police to seize a vehicle. So far in the city of Wodonga, three cars have been taken based solely on citizen complaints.

It's hard to predict how the British Daily Mail would report suggestions of a similar law for Blighty... "Overdue crackdown on terror drivers, house prices stabilise" or "Shameful government gives more powers to Brussels", but it seems like a pretty dubious way of tackling the issue and open to flagrant abuse. Hmm I've never liked those kitchen curtains the neighbours have put up - pass the phone Sheila.

08 April, 2007

Tree climber

Something about the shape, but every time I see this picture I can't help thinking about a small dog bothering a trouser leg.

Apparently the owner had bought it that very day.

Perhaps it had a little more get up and go than he was accustomed to.

I expect it'll buff out.

04 April, 2007

The real 24

Sam Posey was a racing driver of the old school. It's an unfamiliar idea these days but drivers were not associated with a single race series or discipline, you're a racing driver, you race cars - whatever's paying bub.

In '69, he won the Lime Rock Trans-Am in a factory Mustang. In '70, Posey drove the factory-backed Autodynamics Dodge Challenger in Trans-Am. Enthusiasts rate it as the greatest season in US racing.

Euroopeans are most likely to know him from his exploits at La Sarthe, Posey appeared at the 24 Hours of Le Mans 10 times (1966, 1969-1973, and 1975-1978) and finished in the top 10 five times.

Click through to read his first hand account of driving at Le Mans during a golden age. There's no doubt in my mind that future generations will document the recent era of sportcar endurance racing as another special time, but Posey's description of racing the NART Ferrari 512 are exhilarating and terrifying in equal measure. There will never be racing like it again, because nobody would countenance such danger.

Pour a glass of a tent-warmed red, or a stubby beer and enjoy.

Several hundred yards before the end of the straight you stand on the brakes - it takes a long time to slow a car from that speed, and while you sit there you feel oddly weightless as the world comes back into focus.

Close your eyes and you still see the road rushing at you; lie down, and the horizon begins to tilt and you become dizzy. You grasp the edge of the cot for balance. "Wake me up in twenty laps," you tell someone; time is no longer measured in hours and minutes, but in laps.

When dawn finally came it was a shock to see the changed appearance of the surviving cars. Even those which came through the night unscathed were stone-blasted and streaked with oil. Racing along, I could smell breakfast cooking over ten thousand campfires.

02 April, 2007

Up the Royals

I'm terribly fond of Royal Enfield motorcycles - the first bike I bought was a 500 Export, and I'd had a 350 on hire long-term before that. As any fule kno it's a thumping British single-cylinder motorbike circa 1954 made in Madras Chennai with the original tooling. Lately they've been going a bit mad and adding modern stuff like electric starters which I personally think is a bit rum.

There's even a company exporting them back to the motherland although I strongly suspect that it's better to keep a fond memory, rather than spoil it all by actually riding one. Likewise I also suspect that were I to spunk £80 on the Battle of The Planets DVD boxset it might fall somewhat short of the awesome tour de force I recall from my childhood.

Anyhoo another modern contrivance Royal Enfield have picked up is the high-concept advertising campaign.

01 April, 2007


In the constant quest to source petrol tinged ephemera to fill this space I will sometimes find a picture or news item that comes from the land of foreign. They do things differently there, not least the childish habit of gabbling away in some funny argot.

Through the gift of online translation one can usually work out enough of what's going on to pick out the salient points, even if it lacks some of the rhythm and sparkle of Avon's bard.

However in this instance the translation from the original Norwegian has such a fierce undimmed beauty, an icy poetry if you will that I'd like to reproduce it here in full.

Broken under tonn emphasize
Polish Marek Am gaping park auto her against a the site against St. Olavs hospital in Trondheim Saturday. A short time after subverted dates back to forskalingsmurer at tonn apiece above auto and was huging it flat.

I think you'll agree I couldn't have put it better - huging it flat.