Hagerty's Inaugural Classic Question Time

You are warmly invited to join an exceptional panel of classic experts at Hagerty’s inaugural Classic Question Time held at the Beaulieu Theatre on 2 September starting at 6pm to 7.30pm.  Tickets are FREE, but are limited, so book now to avoid disappointment via this link

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hagerty-classic-question-time-2016-tickets-26840895842

The panel consists of Practical Classics editor, Danny Hopkins, Hagerty’s own John Mayhead and Dave Kinney (from the USA) and finally, Jamie Knight from Bonhams.  The evening is hosted by Gary Axon, a doyenne of all things classic car related.

Come and raise the issues that might be affecting you.  What’s happening post Brexit?  Why are classics being excluded from our Cities and what does this mean for classic owners?  What’s happening to car values and what should we be looking to buy next?

If you cannot attend, please email your questions to enquiries@hagertyinsurance.co.uk your opinion matters.

NEW MGB ROADSTER LAUNCHED AT SHOW

New MGB roadster launched at show

New MGB roadster launched at show

MG modernization company Frontline Developments has launched a new model at MG90. Termed the Abingdon Special, this car differs from the previous LE50 in that it is based around the shell of an MGB Roadster. 
The car is fitted with a 2.5 litre four cylinder engine which weighs just 89kg, and develops 304bhp and 242lb.ft of torque. Needless to say, the Abingdon Special is quick. “0-60 is achievable in under four seconds,” says Frontline director Ed Brackley, “we’ve never advertised an official top speed for our cars because we run out of runway at Bruntingthorpe, but it’s still pulling hard at 160mph. It’s geared to 205mph, but wind turbulence would prevent it getting there. We think it’s considerably faster than the LE50 was.” The rear track is 18mm wider than a standard B, with 6x15” Dunlop wheels on the front and 7x15” Dunlop wheels on the back. 
MG aficionados will notice a number of differences between the Abingdon Special and a conventional MGB roadster. Cosmetically, the rear wings have been deseamed, and the upper bodywork behind the cabin has been extended forwards by 12 inches. There are no roof studs, the roof locking using bars in the current fashion. The bonnet is new; steel on this prototype but aluminium for the production cars, incorporating a bonnet bulge and an air vent. Digital Smiths gauges and a modern Radiomobile allow the car to retain a period feel, whilst the electronic and adjustable steering system ensures the car can be tailored to your taste. 
The interior incorporates creature comforts such as a heated screen and seats, whilst the only limitation as to colour combination is your imagination. The prototype features Aston Martin paint and hides, with final trimmings in a Bentley hue. Though we’re sure there’ll be a red one with black trim one day.
Production will be limited to just 25, and prices begin at £79,900. Luggage pack, satellite navigation and Borrani wire wheels are the only optional extras. 

• www.frontlinedevelopments.com

MIDDLE MANAGEMENT: 50 YEARS OF MID-ENGINED LOTUSES

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Lotus popularised the mid-engine sports car 50 years ago with the Europa. We look back at how it came into being and the exciting models that followed in its wake.

 

Lots of Trouble, Usually Serious. It’s a worn-out old acronym, that, if anything, applies more to Lotus as a business than its products. This revered marque for so long mirrored the fortunes and inclinations of its charismatic founder, Anthony Bruce Colin Chapman. He was forever breaking moulds and pushing envelopes which resulted in some the most fondly-remembered -  if temperamental - road cars ever to scorch a B-road.

While not the first company to produce mid-engined road cars – René Bonnet, Deep Sanderson and de Tomaso got there first, it popularised the concept with the Europa and followed through with the Esprit, the Elise and, more recently, the Evora. All of which is remarkable as this calamity-prone marque has survived almost 70 years on borrowed time as custodians have come and gone.

For all its many virtues, the Europa continues to be underrated, yet few cars handled as well in period. It fully embraced Chapman’s mantra of ‘Simplify and then add lightness’, and set the template for the mid-engined sports car as we know it. Lotus was, after all, at the cutting edge of motor sport technology, picking up from where Cooper had left off in producing world-beating mid/rear-engined Grand Prix cars. With the Esprit, Chapman aimed to create a more aspirational image for Lotus, the model outliving its natural lifespan thanks to a series of successful facelifts and powerplant upgrades. The early ’90s, by contrast, saw the marque at a low ebb, but it brilliantly reinvented itself following the launch of the Elise in 1996. Variations on the theme continue to captivate, many as classic buys, while the Evora is a much –much – better car than it is perhaps given credit for. Join us as we celebrate a half-century of mid-engined masterpieces from a marque that has consistently punched above its (feather) weight.

 

Lotus Europa 1966-75

Chapman initially viewed the Europa as a replacement for the time-defying Seven. Lotus’ talismanic leader wanted a product that was easy to develop and cheap to make that would appeal to the all-important export markets. The result was his ‘Car for Europe’, the Type 46 Europa being launched in December 1966. Powered by a 1470cc Renault 16-sourced four-banger, ‘Project P5’ was actually born out of a stillborn racing car: imagine a Lotus-built GT40 and you would be close.

After Enzo Ferrari famously jilted Ford at the alter following an attempted buy-out in 1963. Henry Ford II vowed revenge. He contacted a variety of specialist firms to design a new sports-prototype to vanquish the red cars at Le Mans. Lotus tendered for the gig, with renderings by Ron Hickman being published in the specialist press in period. Ultimately, Lola landed the contract but Chapman wasn’t one to waste anything.

The Europa emerged as a something very different with the underrated John Frayling refining the styling. This new strain was remarkably aerodynamic, with an alleged CD figure of just 0.29cd. Inevitably, there were one or two issues, not least the double-curvature side windows which were fixed in period: cabin ventilation wasn’t its strong suit. Nevertheless, the Europa’s handling was widely praised. The S2 – or Type 54 – edition arrived in April 1968, with UK sales starting a year later. It featured a number of updates, with the raised headlights being perhaps the most obvious physical deviation (the body was also now detachable rather than bonded to the chassis). The cabin also featured a new dashboard layout and opening windows. Three years later, it made way for the Lotus twin-cam-engined ‘Type 74’, the rear bodywork being significantly altered so there was less of a ‘bread van’ look. Production ended in 1975, by which time around 9300 had been made of all kinds.

Lotus Esprit 1975-2004

Few cars have ever enjoyed such longevity as the Esprit. Entering production in Series 1 form in 1976 with the own-brand ‘907’ engine, the last car rolled off the production line in 2004 by which time it had morphed from a four-cylinder sports car into a V8 supercar. What tends to be forgotten, however, is that the Esprit was inspired by a one-off Italian showstopper: the Maserati Boomerang.

Chapman asked design legend Giorgetto Giugiaro to rework the design for a new, more aspirational breed of Lotus he was proposing. Making its public bow at the 1972 Turin Motor Show, ‘The Silver Lotus’ aped the Boomerang but was, if anything, a lot prettier. The donor Europa’s wheelbase was stretched by 11cm, the front and rear tracks being similarly augmented. Designed with aerodynamic considerations and US Federal safety regulations in mind, the real world simplicity and elegance of the original show car was a remarkable achievement.

However, by the time the production-ready Esprit (the original tag being ‘Kiwi’) was ushered in at the October 1975 Paris Motor Show, some design purity had been lost along the way. It was a looker – and still is – but, as is so often the case, the show car to showroom transition had its casualties: the low-pressure injection moulding technique resulted in a prominent waistline where the two body halves were joined together. The steep rake of the windscreen was also reduced somewhat, but it still looked fresh. The engine in-house-made four-banger, meanwhile, was bored out from 2- to 2.2-litres in 1980.

The original car Esprit subsequently gained several stablemates, not least the Turbo edition from 1981-on with its Giugiaro-penned bodykit which served to heighten the wedge look. The Peter Stevens restyle for 1987 breathed new life into the Esprit, while Julian Thomson successfully gave it a nip and tuck for the 1993 revamp. The insertion of the Lotus-made, twin-turbo V8 three years later ensured that the Esprit went out on a high. We are still awaiting its replacement.

 

Lotus Elise 1996-present

The arrival of the Elise in 1996 saw Lotus come back from the dead. And how. The original 1.8-litre Rover K-Series-powered sports car saw the marque return to its core values. It was a great success, spawning countless spin-offs. The origins of the species, however, are rooted in something decidedly non-sporting. Scroll back to the early ’90s and Lotus was approached by Land Rover, which was keen to experiment with aluminium extrusions. It commissioned Lotus to build some body assemblies that would then be rigorously tested. These were completed, only for BMW to acquire Land Rover and nix the project.

Shortly before the termination, however, the decision was made to build a limited edition, ultra-light-weight sports car using this method of construction in an effort to help the firm have more of an understanding of the processes and methodology. The initial plan was to create a modern-day Seven with no doors or roof. Romano Artioli of Bugatti Industries then acquired the firm in August 1993 and the project morphed into something slightly less hard-care. Various designers were approached to tender for the styling gig, Tom Tjaarda and Trevor Fiore among them, but in-house artiste Julian Thomson design was ultimately chosen.

The restyled Series II Elise entered production in 2001, with the closely related Opel Speedster/Vauxhall VX220 being built on the same production line within a new facility in Hethel. The K-series had been continuously uprated during the Elise’s lifetime, but was ultimately replaced with a Toyota unit, primarily due to Lotus returning to the USA where the Rover unit didn’t meet homologation/emission requirements. The facelifted Series III version was first seen in 2010 and it continues to enthrall keen drivers. Given that Lotus originally expected to sell 900 Elises – at most, the model’s longevity is a testament to the brilliant of the concept and execution.

 

Lotus Evora 2008-present

Named after a Portuguese town, the Evora was the first genuinely new car from the Hethel marque since the mid ’90s. Launched at the 2008 British International Motor Show, and powered by a 3.5-litre, 24-valve Toyota V6, the business plan called for around 2000 cars to be made each year. Speaking in 2009, the company’s then CEO Mike Kimberley said: ‘The Evora is the biggest milestone Lotus has achieved since the Elise was born 13 years ago. It is part of our five-year strategic plan, which includes the introduction of new cars and technologies to many more markets around the world. Looking to the future, we will continue to research, develop and produce lighter, more efficient vehicles.’

This proved massively optimistic, as events rather overtook Lotus shortly thereafter, not least during the chequered spell under Kimberley’s replacement, Dany Bahar. Nevertheless, the Evora had – and continues to have – a lot going for it. According to the PR bumf at its launch: ‘…its sleek and athletic form uses fluid forms and crisp surfaces to communicate velocity, agility and sophistication.’ Dig beneath the flannel and the original Russell Carr-penned outline was masterfully realised, with the minimal rear overhang and a cab-forward ’screen lending it a purposeful attitude. It was far from a stark road-racer, too, the emphasis being as much on civility as it was on pulling lateral Gs. For starters, the Evora was the only 2+2 in the range, although a pure two-seater – or ‘Plus Zero’ – model was also available for £1500 less. The rear end, by the way, was designed in part around the need to accommodate two bags of golf clubs…

The line-up was also augmented by the arrival of the supercharged S edition, along with the 414 Hybrid and the ultra-rapid Evora 400 (the ‘400’ bit denoting the quoted horsepower figure). The Evora shows little sign of being pensioned off any time soon, but it remains underrated. That seems to be a common theme with this grouping.

TEN COOL LAND ROVERS YOU DIDN'T KNOW EXISTED

Ten cool Land Rovers you didn't know existed

Ten cool Land Rovers you didn't know existed

A Land Rover mecca with more than 100 prototypes and one-offs is going to use its newly won charitable status to put the secret off-roaders on show.

The trustees of the Dunsfold Collection, currently housed in barns across three different English counties, are planning to raise funds for a new site to house all of the vehicles, which include prototypes, record-breakers and development cars.

Philip Bashall, son of collection founder Brian, said: ‘We are the Mecca for old Land Rovers – we have people from all over the world, including from as far away as Australia, coming to see us.

‘What started as a collection that got a bit out of hand is now one of the best collections of Land Rovers in the world, and it’s great that now we can start raising money to not only build up the collection, but put them on show at a new site.’

Here are ten of the collection’s Land Rovers – which one is your favourite?

1947 Centre Steer prototype

The McLaren F1 had its steering wheel in the middle to put the driver in the optimum position; Rover’s engineers arrived at the same solution with the original Land Rover, to avoid having to develop separate LHD and RHD versions.

None of the original, Jeep-inspired prototypes which led to the 1948 Series I survive, but this replica, faithful in every detail, was built in 2005.

1950 Bertam Mills circus Series One

Did you hear the one about the elephant that drove a Land Rover?

The punchline is that the driver was actually hidden away in a compartment at the rear of this one-off, created in the late 1950s by the Bertam Mills Circus to promote its shows. It was found in a derelict state and has been completely restored by Dunsfold’s custodians.

1963 35cwt truck prototype

This curious-looking Landie is one of five prototypes developed for the Belgian Army in the early 1960s.

It’s the second-oldest vehicle in the collection, and was originally discovered in a scrapyard in Hounslow in 1968. It’s got a 35cwt payload – hence the name – and a 2.5-litre, bored out version of Land Rover’s familiar 2.25-litre engine.

1965 Amphibious Land Rover prototype

The Range Rover was the first off-roader to use the Rover V8, right?

Wrong – this prototype, based on the 88-inch Series II, was used for mileage testing the engine before it was dropped into Solihull’s new luxury offering, launched three years later. The first V8 production Land Rover, the Stage One, wasn’t introduced until 1979.

1985 Llama number one prototype

The Llama is proof that the end of 101 production wasn’t the end of Land Rover’s dalliance with forward-control vehicles – Dunsfold has four prototypes, and this 1985 pick-up is the very first one the company made.

It was tested by the British military, but the decision to fit it with the Rover V8 rather than a diesel engine meant the lucrative contract went to the Dodge-based Reynolds Boughton 4x4 instead.

1991 Challenger prototype

What would have happened had Land Rover developed all of its models from just one platform?

The curious-looking Challenger – a sort of Defender-esque military off-roader draped over Discovery mechanicals – gives you a clue as to what Lode Lane’s engineers were thinking in the early 1990s. Three prototypes were built, but this is the only survivor.

1994 Freelander development mule

Hang on a minute – isn’t that a Maestro van?

You’d be right, but underneath the odd proportions of this jacked-up Austin are the mechanicals of what would become the 1997 Freelander – the baby Land Rover introduced as a riposte to the likes of Toyota’s RAV4.

Land Rover built 25 of them, but only three escaped the crusher – this particular one was used for brake testing.

1995 Range Rover P38a stretch limousine

Saved from the crusher with just a week to spare, this stretched Range Rover has been used by Sir Elton John and Ronan Keating to arrive in style at events.

Land Rover’s Special Vehicles department created the vehicle by cutting an Australian-spec demonstrator model in half and stretching it to allow another pair of doors and another row of seats to be fitted.

1998 Farmers Friend

We thought we’d leave the weirdest Land Rover of all ‘til last, because this one-off concept car has to be seen to be believed.

Developed in the late 1990s as a possible Land Rover rival to the quad bikes and gator buggies increasingly used in the agricultural section, it’s powered by a three-cylinder engine taken from a Subaru Sumo. It never got approved for production – was it an opportunity Land Rover missed?

David Simister

CORGI'S ANNIVERSARY DIE-CASTS PROMISED

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A limited edition range of special die-cast models is being released by Corgi Toys to mark its 60th birthday.

Among the 2016 anniversary range are a new Austin Mini MkI Cooper S, Ford Escort MkI Mexico, Morris Minor 1000, and Rover P6 3500 VIP (above). The new model cars cost £14.99 each.

The 60th anniversary collection also includes some interesting aircraft, old and new double-decker buses and an Eddie Stobart Volvo FH with curtain-side trailer. 

Launched in June 1956, the first Corgi Toys featured British-built saloons of the period including the Austin Cambridge, Ford Consul, Hillman Husky, Morris Cowley, Riley Pathfinder, Rover 90 and Vauxhall Velox. And the models sold for a mere 3/- (15p) each.

When introduced, Corgi Toys were seen as superior to existing die-cast model vehicles as they featured transparent plastic windows, becoming known as
‘the ones with windows’. In its first year of trading, Corgi sold 2.75 million model cars.

The company won The Queen’s Award to Industry and the National Association of Toy Retailers’ Highest Standards Award in 1966.

GOLF GTI CELEBRATES 40 YEARS

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The Volkswagen Golf GTI revolutionised our expectations of sporting cars. It blended everyday practicality, sharp handling and zesty performance into a package that anyone could aspire to – and it’s still great today

The definition of a sports car in the 1970s? Rear-wheel drive, sans roof, desperately unpractical and before too long and more often than not, a running ‘project’ worryingly soon after rolling off the dealer’s forecourt. The Volkswagen Golf GTI changed all that.

Launched in Germany in 1976, it wasn’t until summer 1977 that a batch of left-hand drive cars arrived.  

Official RHD cars didn’t appear until 1979 – but it was worth the wait. British journalists had already waxed lyrical about the car’s handling, performance and refinement. But it was more than just a car – it was an entirely new ethos. It could do everything. It was smart enough to keep the head held high after parking it in the office car park, yet it was more than willing to indulge in B-road frolics too. It had performance and handling to beat any British roadster from point to point, carry four people in comfort – and a week’s worth of shopping. And thanks to its front-wheel drive layout, it could make anyone feel like a racing driver.

golf-1_500x358.jpg

Just like the Mini Cooper a decade previously, it democratised sporty motoring, but unlike the Mini it didn’t punish you with poor reliability and less-than-great refinement. And in a time of fuel scarcity, the Golf’s small, lightweight engine made thirsty barges pointless. 

It’s doing the same job now, 40 years on. But it hasn’t always been a rosy tale, as we’ll discover over the next few pages. We chart the rise, fall and comeback of one of the most important cars of the last four decades. 

Thank the 1973 oil crisis. At a time when petrol was short, and when autobahns were closed on Sundays, big thirsty sports cars weren’t exactly in demand from the German public. 

This came as a disappointment for two Volkswagen staffers who had motorsport coursing through their veins. A new approach to sporty cars was needed, so development engineer Alfons Lowenberg and PR director Anton Konrad nursed their dream of an FIA Group 1-compatible car past an initially sceptical senior management. 

They worked on the idea in their spare time, building prototypes without official backing. That would only come two years later, in 1975 – but the potential was there to be seen.

The Golf GTI made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1975 and the response was electric. Here was a small car that could blast past 60mph in about nine seconds and keep the needle rising until 115mph. This put what was essentially a mainstream, family car on the same performance pedestal as such luminaries as the Ford Escort RS1800, Triumph Dolomite Sprint and, tellingly, the modern businessman’s saloons – the BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz W123. 

But it was more than just the outright performance figures – it had style, too. The Giorgetto Giugiaro-penned lines were devoid of passé chrome, and the shape was fantastically futuristic as any supercar of the era. Inside, the VW trim and colour designer Gunhild Liljequist’s touch could be seen on the tartan-covered Recaro bucket seats and golf ball gearknob. This all created a car that was effortlessly cool. Everything about it just feels right – it didn’t seem to be just a car, it was a statement of quality. That essential rightness could be felt in the driving experience.

But it is that comparison with the BMW 5-series and the Mercedes-Benz W123 that really helped the Golf GTI become the aspirational set of wheels it still is today. It was as fast and refined as its larger rivals, yet altogether much more exciting – the Golf is significantly lighter, after all. But it was a small car that didn’t look out of place at a business meeting. It was an appealing formula – despite projecting just 5000 sales of the MkI, VW eventually sold 450,000 GTIs before it was replaced in 1983. 

Herbert Schafer’s design for the MkII was bigger and roomier, but it wasn’t universally adored when it was released. Some critics said the new Golf’s styling lacked a certain panache, but that didn’t put off punters, and success was assured. Those devotees got a much more usable car, too. While hardcore drivers and journalists gave it a lukewarm reception, the engine had more torque than the original 1600, meaning the GTI MkII was as happy to cruise as it was to be thrashed. It wasn’t outrageously fast – 60mph came up in just over eight seconds, and it topped out at around 115mph. The public, however, loved it, and it became a Yuppie favourite. 

Should you take it out of the city to visit the country, the GTI was an enthusiastic steer on B-roads too. Few cars looked just as good there or reflected in the windows of Kensington High Street. It wasn’t just a car, it was a lifestyle accessory. 

At the time, VW sold most of its GTIs to men, but the David Bailey-directed TV adverts of 1987 made the Golf a must-have for women too. In it, model Paula Hamilton ditches her husband, jewelry and fur coat, but keeps her Golf’s car keys. ‘If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen’ was the tagline, and it summed up the appeal – stylish, understated and reliable. 

In 1986 the Golf MkII finally got the engine it deserved, a 16-valve, 1.8-litre unit that meant more than 120mph at the top end and a scorching 0-60mph of 7.5 seconds. To put that into context, a 1988 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 can do it in seven seconds. Thus the Golf wasn’t just the budget alternative to that bewinged Stuttgart creation. In the eyes of the upwardly mobile, it was an equal. 

The European-market GTI G60 was even faster, using a 1.8-litre engine from the Corrado. It delivered a healthy 160bhp thanks to the addition of a supercharger, but difficulties adapting the gearbox to a right-hand drive layout meant it never officially came to the UK. 

By now, however, the GTI market was fierce, with notable challengers from Peugeot, Renault, Ford and Vauxhall. But all good things have to come to an end, and by the close of the 1980s GTIs had garnered a reputation as a magnet for thieves, with hyper-inflated insurance premiums as a result. 

So it should come as no surprise that the MkIII Golf GTI had markedly toned down performance.  It was a similar case with the styling. Gone were the sharp lines and crisp bodywork creases – the 1991 car was rounder and heavier. The first GTI from this era had truly asthmatic performance, its eight-valve engine only good for a 10-second 0-60mph time – a lot slower than the MkI. 

The 16-valve GTI of 1993 improved matters, offering around 150bhp. It developed a committed following, but this is really when the GTI badge started to lose its sporting allure. But could Volkswagen have done anything different, given the prevailing wind at the time? Not only did the GTI badge mean enormous insurance premiums, but the mid-1990s saw a move away from performance cars as a popular, mainstream lifestyle accessory. But if the MkIII was a disappointment, much worse was to follow with later generations. 

The MkIV GTI was an abomination, and just a branding exercise for the UK – there was no such car in Germany. It was faster than the MkIII – 139mph at the top end and an eight-second 0-60mph time from a torquey, turbocharged 1.8-litre engine but the quest for refinement and safety, as demanded by VW chairman Ferdinand Piech, had left the GTI pretty numb to drive. 

golf-6_500x358.jpg

This was particularly galling for enthusiastic drivers, as Ford’s Focus was much better to drive even in base-model specification. By the turn of the millennium the hot hatchback was back in fashion, with challengers from the likes of Ford, Alfa Romeo, Honda, Vauxhall and Renault. VW responded, but with the six-cylinder, four-wheel drive R32. 

The GTI was a mere footnote in this era, but out of darkness comes light.

The MkV Golf had to be good for Volkswagen, as profits had plunged just before its release. But the company couldn’t let the much cheaper Ford Focus off for being better to drive and cheaper to buy. Despite the huge cost, VW sanctioned investment
in a multi-link rear suspension set-up, though platform-sharing across the Volkswagen Group helped to mitigate the expenditure. Electro-mechanical power steering was an addition that helped sharpen the Golf’s steering.

Then came the GTI in late 2004. It was announced with a memorable advertising campaign featuring a Mint Royale remix of Gene Kelly’s Singing In The Rain, with the tagline ‘The original, updated’. It certainly seemed to live up to that billing, with interior and exterior detailing that harked backed to the MkI. It was similarly fun to drive, because with 197bhp on tap from a turbocharged, 2.0-litre engine, 0-60mph was done and dusted within seven seconds and you could carry on all the way to 146mph. The MkV Golf GTI won awards across the board for its handling, refinement, comfort and sheer shove, topping the majority of group tests it was entered into. It became a popular car with tuners too, with the turbocharged four-pot offering almost limitless options for big horsepower at low cost. 

The king of the hot hatches was back, and while the current hot hatchback horsepower arms race is fought between Ford, Mercedes, Audi, BMW and Volkswagen itself with the R models, the GTI is still an alluring draw at a much lower price than those. 

Much like the MkI, the MkVII is all the sports car you’ll ever need. Not bad for a car conceived as a limited-run special edition of 5000.

It’s the fizz that wins your heart – each time you open the throttle on an open piece of road, feel the rush of acceleration and watch the tacho needle racing for the redline. This boistrous bundle was built to put a smile on your face – again and again, and again.

Very few cars are as special as the Volkswagen Golf GTI. Equally, only a handful are hardwired into your synapses quite as effectively. The German giant’s bosses might have sceptical about the prospects of a sporting Golf before they drove the original prototype in 1975, but hearts and minds changed when they gave the final product a good seeing to at the Wolfsburg test track.

At first glance, they’d have seen something subdued and subtle, with few hints to what lay beneath. Today, one of those hints, that red-pinstriped grille, has become the signature for all that’s great about the GTI. Then there’s the deep front spoiler and the wheelarch extensions.

Volkswagen wasn’t the inventor of the hot hatch or even the first to slap G, T and I on the rump of a car. But these lovely visual touches remind you how the manufacturer has made both its own. 

Slide into the interior and the immediate impression is of a car that means business. It has an appealingly minimalist design – every feature has been honed with the keen driver in mind. The on-board computer, known in VW-speak as the MFA, was advanced for its time, and still very useful today. It’s the same with the gearchange indicator for saving fuel – smart, practical. The golfball gearknob has become as iconic as St Andrews, 
and is still used in modern day GTIs.

The driving position is excellent. You sit high in the slim-pillared interior, and are presented with a commanding view out. Placing this hatchback on the road is a piece of cake, as a consequence. And it’s a friendly place – not a word you’d generally associate with sports cars.

Fire it up, and the engine sizzles enthusiastically, goading you into playing footsie with the throttle. Pull away, and the light clutch, positive gearchange and agreeably weighty steering fill you with confidence and joy. Even in town, you’ll find yourself wanting to slice through rush-hour like
a Parisian taxi driver. 

But the fun has only just begun. Hit the B-roads, turn it up to 11, and the GTI truly wakes up. The steering feeds back the road surface in minute detail, and loads up remarkably in bends – it’s a good feeling, and there are huge amounts of grip. It’s addictively chuckable. You will love the way it tucks in as you trail off the throttle, countering any unwanted understeer – although other road users might find the way it will cock its inside rear wheel in the air in tight turns just a tad alarming. 

Our Campaign model is powered by the later 1781cc engine, pushing out 112bhp and 109lb ft. This is enough punch to give this 860kg hatchback genuinely thrilling acceleration. It’s not all about revs like the earlier 1.6-litre GTI, even though it pulls cleanly to 7000rpm. There’s plenty of torque, and it hauls strongly from as low as 2500rpm – just like a large-engined small car should. 

All the stories about the GTI’s poor brakes are spot on, though, which can erode some of that confidence and joy when cracking on. Coming to a halt can take a fair bit of effort on the middle pedal, even if the underlying quality of the stopping power is there. 

In short, the Golf GTI deserves all the praise that’s been heaped on it over the years. It is a genuine phenomenon, a gamechanging sports car. It’s also one that’s almost as good to drive now as the latest version in the line. You will be much more forgiving of the original’s few dynamic flaws, and more appreciative of the crackerjack feeling you get every time you hit the road in it. 

UNIQUE JAGUAR MK1 RACE CAR IS RESTORED IN ESSEX

Unique Jaguar Mk1 race car is restored in Essex

Unique Jaguar Mk1 race car is restored in Essex

A barn find Jaguar Mk1 racing car is undergoing restoration by an Essex-based classic specialist.
The 1958 3.4 is the only Mk1 ever to race officially under the Lister name, and is now being restored by Braintree-based CL Panelcraft.
The car’s current owner, Simon Lewis, told CCfS: “It has a great history and won its class at tracks such as Oulton Park and Snetterton.
“It will be restored to how it would have looked in period and should be ready for the HRDC press day in March.”
Kept in a barn until January 2013, the car was bought by Jaguar racer Guy Connew, before being sold to current owner/racer Simon Lewis.
The Mk1 was an essential part of the resurrection of the Lister name, and was actually part-owned by Brian Lister himself at one point. The modified Jaguar has since been raced in a variety of classic races with such drivers as Chris Wood and Iain Exeter at the wheel.
Lewis, an avid racing driver,  has commissioned CL Panelcraft to restore the body shell and install a new current-specification roll cage, in order for it to be raced once again.  

CLASSIC FAN SOUGHT TO BUY SCOTTISH GARAGE

Classic fan sought to buy Scottish garage

Classic fan sought to buy Scottish garage

The owner of a Scottish garage dating back to the 1920s has put the site – and the classic cars and spares that come with it – up for sale.

George Chatto, who has owned Aberdeenshire Premnay Garage since 1986, said he was keen to focus on his own classics and for the site and its treasure trove of unrestored classics and parts to find a new owner.

He said: ‘I took over the garage in 1986 and have run it ever since, but I’m already semi-retired now and, to be honest, things have slipped a little bit as a result. I’m looking to retire fully, keep a few of my own classics and just tinker with them, so I’m keen for the garage to go to a new owner.

‘I’ve got a quite a few classic cars on the site and there are plenty of spares, and I’d be happy to sell them on with the business.’

Among the unrestored classics are an accident-damaged NSU Ro80, a Citroën 2CV, an Austin 1300 and a Riley Pathfinder. In addition, there are parts for Triumph Spitfire and Vitesse models, and several Hillman Minxes in varying states of repair.

George is keen to hear from CCfS users who would be keen to take over the garage business, based opposite the Hunter’s Moon pub in Auchleven, as a going concern. Interested parties can contact George on 01464 820372.

DEVON 'HOARDER' TO PART WITH 19 CARS AND 2000 ITEMS OF AUTOMOBILIA

Devon 'hoarder' to part with 19 cars and 2000 items of automobilia

Devon 'hoarder' to part with 19 cars and 2000 items of automobilia

Long-time Classic Car Weekly reader Tony Strong is looking forward to this weekend with mixed feelings.
The 81-year-old electrical engineer, from East Devon, will be watching his collection of 19 classics and 2000 lots of motoring memorabilia being auctioned off. He’s having to “downsize” his hobby of more than 40 years, as he and his wife Brita are due to move to New Zealand. 
Among the cars Tony has kept in barns around his home are an Alvis TE21 convertible, an MG TD, a Triumph TR5, 
a Humber Hawk estate, a Sunbeam Alpine Series V, two MGB GTs and an Austin A30. Then there are hundreds of car badges, mascots, signs, petrolania, pedal cars, bicycles and toys. Further details of the 5-6 April sale, being run by Ottervale Classic Car Auctions from outbuildings at the Strongs’ home and in their local village hall, can be found on page 19.
“I’ve been ordered to have a good clear-out,” says Tony. “Neither my wife, nor our daughter Krista, to whose home north of Auckland we’re moving, will put up with this lot coming, too. Mind you, we’ve got three shipping containers to fill, and there’s room for a car in each. It all depends on how the sale goes.”
The extraordinary collection started to grow in the 1970s, in what Tony describes as preparation for his retirement hobby. Storage space was found in attics, sheds, barns and other outbuildings. “I’d just put them away so that I’d have something to do when I retired,” he says. “The trouble was, retirement never came, and I never got round to restoring many of the cars.”
Tony changed career tack before he was 65 to offer portable electrical appliance testing services in his region. “I loved the work, and I shall miss that when we get to New Zealand. I’ll miss CCW, too,” he adds.
So, what is he going to do in his new home? Well, that’s what accounts for his mixed feelings about the sale. One of the cars expected to do very well is the Alvis TE21, and that’s his favourite. “I’ve got to be practical about this,” says Tony. “If the move and the sale weren’t happening, I’d be appearing on television in The Hoarder Next Door. That said, I’m also half hoping the MG TD isn’t sold, as I know Brita would like that car to run around in. I have, however, kept a Renault 5 Monaco out of the sale, as Krista wants that one.”
Any concerns about New Zealand? “Yes, speed limits. You can do 60mph on the motorways but the rest of the country is something like 30mph. But we’ll be in a hilly area with metalled roads. I’m looking forward to kicking up some gravel.”

STOP THE ACCIDENT CLAIMS SCAMS

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Despite legislation in 2013 to outlaw ‘referral fees’, personal data is still being sold to ‘chasers’. Thousands of motorists are being hassled by nuisance calls from companies that have obtained details of claims made on car insurance policies.

It’s difficult enough seeing your classic being damaged after an accident, but worse when cold callers who’ve illegally obtained your details remind you of it while chasing you for personal information.

It’s difficult enough seeing your classic being damaged after an accident, but worse when cold callers who’ve illegally obtained your details remind you of it while chasing you for personal information.

This problem should have faded following a change in the law in April 2013 that made it illegal for brokers and insurers to sell the data in exchange for referral fees. Yet the Information Commissioner’s Office (the ICO) said that in December 2014 alone it received more than 2000 complaints about unsolicited accident claims calls.

Malcolm Tarling of the Association of British Insurers said the passing on of data is not a practice they would condone: He said: ‘It has been outlawed and shouldn’t be done by insurers. Those who stand to benefit are the companies chasing up claims, who take a cut of any award or legal fees, so they pay to get information from various sources.’

However, CCW has learned that the traditional – but now sometimes illegal – path of information from broker to claims chaser still exists.

A motor insurance industry insider – who asked not to be named – said: ‘The outlawing of referral fees was clear, but people find ways through the legal detail. Claims chasers are giving remuneration towards brokers’ marketing costs instead of paying referral fees, but effectively the law is being ignored.

‘Each claim is worth about £1500 to the claims chasers, if you add up their cut of the car hire, legal fees and personal injury award. They’ll pay up to £500 for the information and small brokers have found that hard to live without.’

Databases used by the telemarketing industry are openly and legally for sale, containing information on everything from pensions to medical insurance, though car insurance claims would not normally be included. However, many other sources of ‘data loss’ can occur following a claim.

Brendan Ellison of claims specialist Kinderton’s Accident Management, explained: ‘We’re not in the business of passing on clients’ data, but we’ve noted that up to 13 different people or companies can be involved in a claim. For instance, as well as the insurance broker, the insurer themselves and the claims manager, details of the claim may have to be known by a recovery company, a repairing garage, an independent assessor, a salvage agent, a solicitor recovering loss of earnings or other damages, and an uninsured loss recovery company – a
similar thing but not legally trained.’

It is illegal for any of the links in the chain to sell on personal data without permission, yet convictions are rare. Two employees of Aviva have been prosecuted this year, with three employees of LV arrested in April. The Information Commissioner’s Office said: ‘The Data Protection Act requires that personal information be used in a fair and lawful way. This means that people should generally be aware of which organisations are sharing their personal data and what it is being used for.

‘In a broader sense, fairness also requires that where personal data is shared, this happens in a way that is reasonable and that people would be likely to expect and would not reasonably object to if given the chance.

‘Anyone who suspects their personal information has been traded illegally should report their concerns to us. We have the power to fine organisations that have breached data protection laws up to £500,000 in the most serious cases.’

MISSING CITROEN SURFACES AFTER 20 YEARS

Missing Citroen surfaces after 20 years

Missing Citroen surfaces after 20 years

A Citroën Bijou which had been missing for more than 20 years – and one of just a handful of surviving cars - is now up for sale.

Shropshire-based David Kiss acquired his 1962 Bijou, body number 206, around 15 years ago.

He said: “I intended to carry out a full restoration, but with other projects on the go this hasn’t been possible,” he said.

The car is said to need restoration though the chassis in generally good order and doesn’t need welding. Some attention to the passenger door and other bodywork is needed.

“I have an early 2CV and other projects and I think the time has come to find the Bijou a good home with someone who will definitely restore it.”

The Bijou was designed to appeal to conservative British tastes whose scope didn’t extend to the quirky 2CV. The car was expensive, and the weight of its fibreglass body did little for the 425cc-engined car’s performance.

Marque experts said they were only aware of ten roadgoing examples of the British market only Bijou left in existence, and that Mr Kiss’ car had been presumed lost more than two decades earlier.

Garry Whelan, Bijou registrar at Citroen 2CV club 2CVGB said: “We haven’t heard anything about this car for 20 years and are very pleased it’s come to light. We only have around ten examples of the Bijou on the road, though others are under restoration.”

David is looking for around £2500 for his Bijou. Call him on 01630 685888.

FIRST EVER JAGUAR DEALERSHIP TO CLOSE

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The world’s first Jaguar dealership, established in 1927 and responsible for supplying vehicles to the Royal family, is to give up its franchise because it feels unable to meet the corporate standards now demanded by the marque.

First ever Jaguar dealership to close

First ever Jaguar dealership to close

RA Creamer, based close to Kensington Palace, operates from central London mews location and was the first garage to become a Jaguar franchisee.

Over the last 40 years it has provided vehicles to both the Queen and Prince Charles. However, due to its quaint but constrained location, upgrading and modernising the 89-year old firm’s premises to meet Jaguar requirements would be difficult. The marque also wants its dealers to stock Land Rover alongside Jaguars. Both brands are owned by Indian firm Tata.  

‘The decision has not been taken lightly as our history here is a long and proud one,’ said managing director Michael Quinn, who is the grandson of Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons. 

ASTON MARTIN DB5 DAMAGED IN CRASH

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A 1965 Aston Martin DB5 worth up to £1 million was badly damaged when it was involved in a crash near Manchester Airport last week.

Aston Martin DB5 damaged in crash

Aston Martin DB5 damaged in crash

The unnamed owner was driving with his four-year old son as a passenger when the luxury grand tourer was involved in an incident with a Vauxhall Astra on 28 July. Greater Manchester Police is investigating what caused the collision and told Classic Car Weekly that the driver and his son's injuries were believed to be minor.

Kevin Moore, a repair engineer at Aston Martin Works in Newport Pagnell, said that while the damage looked 'extensive' he belived that the car could be saved.

'Clearly this accident is horrible for all involved and we hope no one was seriously hurt,' Moore said. 'These sort of things will happen, but it's still important for owners to enjoy their cars and actually take them out.'

Moore said that while it would be difficult to give an accurate estimate on the full cost of repair without a full inspection, the damage to the dront end looked 'extensive' and the owner could be looking at up to a year before he can drive the car again. He said: 'Given the value of a DB5 and looking at the damage in pictures, I'm confident we could repair the vehicle back to its original state.' 

DVLA COURT CASE DROPPED AFTER MOTORIST QUESTIONS PENALTY CHARGES

DVLA court case dropped after motorist questions penalty charges

DVLA court case dropped after motorist questions penalty charges

The DVLA has taken more than £38 million from motorists in the last five years after sending out letters threatening drivers with a court summons. 
The money was raised by collecting fines for offences such as not reporting a change of ownership, even when this was due to the form being lost in the post – or possibly in the DVLA’s own system. Drivers who chose not to contest the allegation in court were fined £35 each. 
Our investigations reveal that in most instances when a motorist challenged the DVLA, the case was dropped – as happened to tenaciousClassic Car Weekly reader Craig Cheetham.
The discovery came after Craig asked questions using the Freedom of Information Act (FOI). The agency confirmed it withdrew more than 60% of cases for one particular type of allegation and banked more than £1.7m from those who did not challenge that same accusation in one year alone. 

In two FOI requests issued earlier this month, the DVLA admitted the following:
• Since 2009 the DVLA has taken more than £38m in out-of-court settlements for fines related to incorrect vehicle paperwork, taxation and SORN notices.
• A further £19.2m was accrued through prosecuting motorists in court.
• In 2013 alone, 48,618 cases for failure to notify disposal of a vehicle were settled out of court, netting the DVLA at least £1.7m (assuming all were settled at the basic £35 within 28 days).
• In the same period, 78,086 cases for the same offence were not pursued – 62% of all alleged offences.
• Since 2007, almost 1000 complaints have been lodged about missing mail.
• There is no way of guaranteeing that mail sent to the DVLA will reach the correct department.

Craig is now calling for a change to the law, as he believes the DVLA threats are unenforceable. He was issued with a summons for failing to notify the DVLA of the disposal of a vehicle earlier this year. The case was withdrawn by the DVLA on 14 October, two days before it was due to be heard in Cambridge Magistrates’ Court.
He said: ‘Following the review of my case, it’s my belief that not only should the law be changed, but that the DVLA should be made to refund every single out-of-court settlement paid by motorists unsure of the system, or who felt threatened by criminal prosecution.
 ‘The DVLA approach is heavy handed and frightening: they threaten you with a big fine if the court finds in their favour, and for those who don’t have the belief in their own defence or may not read between the lines in the strongly worded DVLA-issued letters, paying £35 in an out-of-court settlement to make the problem go away may well be the least frightening option. It’s unethical, and it should not be allowed.’
In a letter to Craig, the DVLA said it was dropping the case ‘in view of further information received’ after he wrote to the court outlining that it was incumbent on the DVLA itself to prove he had not posted the V5C upon the sale of the car, citing the Interpretation Act 1978 and the Human Rights Act 1985 in his defence.
Clause seven of the Act states: ‘Where an Act authorises or requires any document to be served by post (whether the expression ‘serve’ or the expression ‘give’ or ‘send’ or any other expression is used) then, unless the contrary intention appears, the service is deemed to be effected by properly addressing, pre-paying and posting a letter containing the document and, unless the contrary is proved, to have been effected at the time at which the letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post.’
In a response asking the DVLA about whether postal correspondence ever went missing, the agency confirmed it had received almost 1000 complaints relating to lost mail since 2007. In a follow-up email, a DVLA officer stated: ‘The agency receives between 80,000 and 100,000 items of mail per day. We cannot confirm that every item of mail is received.’
In his second FOI request Craig asked the DVLA to confirm how many cases for failure to notify a change of keeper were pursued in 2013, and how many were successfully convicted. Of 126,704 alleged offences, 48,618 were settled out of court (ie, fines were paid) and 78,086 (62%) were not pursued. 
The DVLA refused to say how many cases were taken as far as Craig’s, where court paperwork was lodged and a hearing date fixed before withdrawing, as this would have cost the agency more than £600 to find out.
‘Apparently that’s DVLA policy,’ Craig said. ‘Yet with £38 million in out-of-court settlements in the bank I’d call that a drop in the ocean…’
While the DVLA was unable to extrapolate how many of the out-of-court settlements related to failure to notify offences, the same principle applies for any notification such as SORN or Change of Taxation Class that may have been made via post – especially since all the DVLA’s local offices have now been closed.
The total income for both in and out-of-court settlements amounts to more than £57m over a five-year period, of which over 65% was received through postal out-of-court settlements.

How the DVLA responded

The DVLA pointed out that the £38m in the article relates to all Out of Court Settlement payments received between 2009-14 for all offence types, not specifically instances of owners failing to notify it about a change of vehicle. It added that while many cases do go to court, cases can be withdrawn for a variety of reasons.
An agency spokesperson said: ‘Anyone who keeps a vehicle must tell the DVLA when they sell or transfer it. Telling us when a vehicle is sold or transferred is quick and easy and works well for the vast majority of motorists. In cases where we do not receive a notification of sale or transfer we issue an Out of Court Settlement notice which gives people the opportunity to avoid prosecution. Every time a registered keeper tells us, we send them an acknowledgement letter.  
‘We advise motorists to contact us if they haven’t received this after four weeks as they may still be liable for the vehicle. Further information is available on our website.’ www.gov.uk

The legal viewpoint

Cambridgeshire-based solicitor Andrew Kirkby argues that the DVLA’s penalty notices for owners failing to dispose of vehicles are ‘completely unenforcable’ unless the agency has ‘undeniable proof’. He said: ‘I’d say to anyone, do not pay up without carefully considering your position. You have a right to have your case heard in court, and it’s clear from the numbers of withdrawn prosecutions that the DVLA doesn’t really like going to court. Furthermore, in a conversation Craig had with the DVLA, the agency had apparently referred to his own alleged penalty as a ‘fine’. From a legal perspective, this is more significant than it seems. The DVLA cannot issue a fine nor claim to be allowed to. Under British law, only a court can issue an enforceable fine – the wording is very clear. If the magistrates determine that a fine is payable, then it must either be paid or appealed. By calling it a fine, the DVLA is not telling the truth.
‘The fact that 62% of cases are dropped before they reach court suggests that they may not have the evidence they need to secure a conviction.’

SEVEN COOL THINGS AT THE LONDON CLASSIC CAR SHOW

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This year’s London Classic Car Show will be bigger and better than last year’s with new features and car clubs being invited to attend. With the second day of this event beginning today, here are seven great things for you to look out for at the ExCeL exhibition centre’s hall this weekend.


GRAND AVENUE

The likes of the Citroën DS and the Fiat 500 are set to take part in the Classic Six Nations Cup between France, Germany, Italy, Japan, USA and the UK. Starting off at the Opening Ceremony this evening, they will then go on to compete in head-to-head heats on Friday and Saturday.

 

EVOLUTION OF THE SUPERCAR

This feature will be celebrating the evolution of the supercar as it goes back to the late 1960’s with the V12 engine of the Lamborghini’s supercars. Porsche’s 918 Spyder and McLaren’s P1 are just some of the hybrid-powered hypercars set to join the classics in this display.

 

THE PINNACLE OF RALLYING

Group B regulations saw rallying develop faster in four years than ever before and although it was short lived, it remains a memorable era. 30 years later, London Classic Car Show will be paying tribute to this unforgettable era by displaying a selection of the best vehicles, including the Flying Finn.

 

CAR CLUB SQUARE

A new feature for 2016 is the display of car clubs showcasing popular and affordable classics. Amongst many car clubs confirmed to attend the Jaguar Drivers’ Club, Mercedes-Benz Club and the Aston Martin Owners Club are all set to be at this event.

 

CLASSIC CARS AND CLASSIC CLOTHES

On Sunday 21 February, visitors are invited to dress in period clothing and take part in some retro entertainment. The best vintage dressed visitor will win premium tickets to the 2017 show alongside Joseph Perrier champagne and a Vivien of Holloway gift voucher.

 

LE MANS LEGENDS

Six significant racing cars will take part in this display and will recall the duels from the famous 24 Hour race. The cars, from Ferrari, Ford, Porsche, McLaren, Bentley and Jaguar, all have Le Mans history with the youngest car being the Bentley Speed 8 that won back in 2003.

 

MCLAREN F1

The 20th century’s most impressive hypercar is set to attend this event with a display being dedicated to the McLaren F1 to explore the creation of the vehicle and pay extraordinary attention to detail. This exhibit will offer people the opportunity to get a unique insight into the car say Gordon Murray.

CLASSIC CAR SPECIALIST OPENS NEW PREMISES IN HONG KONG

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Frank Dale & Stepsons, the world's oldest independent Rolls-Royce and Bentley specialist, has opened a new overseas facility to directly support the Asian market.

 

Established nearly 70 years ago, Frank Dale & Stepsons is recognised globally as a market leader, offering some of the finest vintage and classic Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars for sale.

With the overseas market becoming increasingly important, the company made the decision to open showrooms and support facilities on foreign soil with the recent introduction of Frank Dale & Stepsons Hong Kong.

Having handled some of the most important examples built by Rolls-Royce and Bentley over the last seven decades, this new facility will support the growth of the company for many decades to come.

BRITAIN'S CAR SCRAPPAGE SCHEME VICTIMS UNCOVERED

Britain's car scrappage scheme victims uncovered

Britain's car scrappage scheme victims uncovered

Details of the vehicles lost to the 2009 scrappage scheme have been revealed, and they make grim reading for classic car enthusiasts. Along with the thousands of humdrum saloons and hatchbacks was a significant number of classics, traded-in and certified for destruction.
The scrappage scheme was initially introduced because new car sales in 2008 were so poor, and it was hoped that these incentives would stimulate new cars sales in a depressed market. It clearly worked, and sales remained largely buoyant, and failed to crash as they did in mainland Europe. But there was a price to pay. 
Among the victims of the scheme were 88 Citroën 2CVs, 81 Morris Minors and 45 Jaguar XJ-Ss. In total 392,227 cars more than a decade old were culled that year.
But some good news for those grieving for the lost generation of cars, the Conservative and Labour parties have both confirmed they won’t be reintroducing it after the 2015 election.
Camilla Marshall, DEFRA communications officer said: ‘We do not have any plans to introduce scrappage.’                                  
Labour party spokeswoman Gabriel Huntley added: ‘No one is suggesting the reintroduction of the Scrappage scheme and we have no plans to do so.’ 
Geoff Lancaster from the Federation of British Historic Vehicles Clubs (FBHVC) said: ‘The initial reaction on seeing this list in this amount of detail is quite shocking. The sheer scale is almost overwhelming. For those of us concerned with the preservation of our motoring heritage, the worry with scrappage schemes is that part of that heritage will be lost. However, I am encouraged that the depth and breadth of interest in our motoring heritage is strong and growing and resides with the hundreds of historic vehicle clubs that make up our Federation.’ 

Scrappage victims 10 shockers

1     Audi 200, four cars
2     BMW 8-Series, six cars
3     Citroën CX, four cars
4     Ford Capri, 18 cars
5     Lancia Delta, seven cars (one Integrale)
6     Mazda RX7, 10 cars
7     Mercedes-Benz SEC, 15 cars
8     Morris Marina, seven cars
9     Porsche 928, three cars
10    Wolseley Hornet, two cars

Look at the full list here

Murray Scullion

POLICE TO CHECK FOR STOLEN CLASSICS AT BANGER RACES

Police to check for stolen classics at banger races

Police to check for stolen classics at banger races

Police have agreed to attend banger races to check for stolen cars following a call from concerned owners' clubs, which say cars are being stolen for events. This comes on the back of news of a new 100-BMC Farina event, the A60 Amble, launching at Arlington Stadium next July.

The event has sparked anger from people in the classic car movement, who do not wish to see these cars destroyed. It is one of several events for pre-1970s cars being planned for 2015. The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) is set to discuss its stance on banger racing at a meeting this month.

Meanwhile, clubs are hoping that the FBHVC will support the proposal by representatives from a number of classic car clubs that uniformed police officers should attend events alongside independent classic experts if there is suspicion that stolen cars are present. In addition, banger racers would not only be prosecuted, but have their roll cages and other equipment used for the sport confiscated.

The idea has come from members of clubs catering for classics often targeted by banger racers, among them the Cambridge Oxford Owners Club (COOC). They have joined forces to discuss ways of to address the problem of car thefts, which some people allege increase prior to major classic banger races.

The Post Vintage Humber Car Club, Rover P5 Owners Club, P4 Drivers Guild, Ford MkI Owners Club, Triumph 2000 2.5 Register and the Ford Granada MkII Owners Club have also expressed concern about the amount of cars used for banger events, said COOC spokesman John Lakey.

John said: ‘One reason why our club is so strong is that we have members who used to race the cars, fell in love with them, and then restored an example to keep - myself included.

‘We also have people who still race bangers, but I'm sure that every COOC member would agree that stealing cars for racing is wrong and every effort should be made to catch those responsible. The vast majority of racers are enthusiasts who strip cars sensibly and sell parts to other club members.’

Geoff Lancaster, FBHVC spokesman added: ‘The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBVHC) was most interested proposals to help prevent cars being stolen for banger racing. We haven’t heard from the clubs involved yet but will certainly look forward to hearing what they have to say. He would also raise the news about the A60 amble at the Federation’s next committee meeting.’

Rover P5 Owners Club chairman and membership secretary Geoff Moorshead supported the proposals for police attending events to detain rogue banger racers. He said: ‘It would deter people from doing such things in the future. We we always warn people to be vigilant as far as security and classics is concerned.’

Price rises and reduced numbers of available Rover P5s had reduced the numbers appearing with legitimate banger racers.

Commenting on the planned Farina banger race, John Lakey added: ‘I also feel the A60 Amble is an idea past its time. The cars have a great, and you could argue, glorious history in the sport but they are now just too rare to be smashed up in this way. It's also a possible catalyst to theft and that's unacceptable.  We should be racing Mondeos and Vectras not A60s or Rover P5s.‘

Geoff Lancaster strongly suggests owners to use a ‘DNA kit’ to mark their cars. Markings can be read under ultra violet light. The FBHVC is offering a kit called Selectamark.

The A60 Amble is being organised by Spedeworth Events, which has been in business for 55 years. Owner Dean Wood said: ’The cars being raced tend to be past restoration and yield valuable spares which everyone can benefit. We want to work with the classic movement. Police would be welcome at our events and if ever we suspected a car had been stolen we would instantly call the police

Crime Prevention and Design Officer with West Midlands Police, PC Simon Barrett regularly gives talks to classic car organisations and works with other police forces in cases of crime involving classics.’

‘We absolutely support any proposal to have police and inspectors at these banger racing events if there’s crime suspected. If we find a car is stolen it would be seized with its contents. We suggest people contact the local police first but we always help put people in touch with anyone who can help in police forces anywhere if we can.’

Simon Barrett can be contacted via s.barrett@west-midlands.pnn.police.uk

Nick Larkin

SUNDAY NOSTALGIA: REVISITING 1984

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Britain in 1984 was very different from George Orwell’s nightmare vision. Or was it?

 

As 1983 drew to a close, thought turned to how life in the UK in 1984 would compare with the grim portrait of a totalitarian Britain presented in George Orwell’s dystopian science fiction novel. Orwell chose 1984 as the title of his novel because he was presenting the satirical flip side of life in 1948, the year during which he wrote most of it. Nevertheless, numerous catchphrases and concepts from the book had already been absorbed into popular culture: ‘Big Brother’, ‘The Ministry of Truth’, ‘thoughtcrime’, ‘doublethink’ and the unimaginable horrors awaiting within ‘Room 101’. 

When the chimes of Big Ben struck 12 (or should that be 13?) on 31 December 1983, there were plenty of mutterings about Big Brother keeping an eye on us, if not through our shiny new Radio Rentals colour telly and newfangled VCR, then maybe through the CCTV cameras that were already creeping onto our streets. Fortunately, the UK’s first roadside speed cameras were still seven years away, otherwise we’d probably have immediately retired to a convenient bunker to await the inevitable.

In those days, 2014 seemed a far-off fantasy, well able to take care of itself – we had our own more immediate concerns to worry about. Most of the City of London’s movers and shakers were too busy with wealth-generation to worry about such trivia. By the roar of their Guard’s Red Porsche Carrera (and the twang of their matching braces) shall ye know them – a couple of years later, Harry Enfield would immortalise the yuppies’ conspicuous affluence with his ‘Loadsamoney’ character in the Saturday Live sketch show.

Whatever the financial sleights-of-hand of City types, some might say their biggest crime was to be responsible for transforming the Porsche (particularly the 911) from a hardcore enthusiast’s choice into a rolling status symbol for everyman (or woman). Lower down the automotive pecking order, the seeds of another revolution were afoot. The Golf GTI had appeared in 1975, but the hot hatch revolution needed a little extra heat to achieve lift-off. Then, in 1983, along came the Golf MkII, hot on the heels of the stylish Peugeot 205 and the all-white GTE version of the Vauxhall Astra. Both the Pug and the Golf spawned GTI versions in 1984, followed by the globular Astra MKII range, while the previously rather agricultural Escort XR3 gained fuel injection and the Fiat Uno got a turbo. The stage was set for the hot hatch to replace the traditional, leaky British sports car, once and for all.

Striking Out

By 1984, Margaret Thatcher was a year into her second term as Prime Minister and her head-on confrontation with Arthur Scargill and the National Union of Mineworkers was the long-running political saga of the year. But the industrial unrest wasn’t only at the pithead. In the same year, there were transport strikes, factory strikes (including BL, of course) and, as our main picture shows, also the occasional strike by dock workers, many coming out in sympathy with the miners. This one’s at the port of Dover on 1 September, with an atmosphere of ‘some day, one day’ among the orderly lines of vehicles waiting patiently to travel up the ramp to the ferry. Their formation contrasts with the haphazard arrangement facing them, with some vehicles caught up in the strike, some perhaps belonging to the strikers. There’s certainly a wide range of vintages and social standing among them, from a smart Cavalier Sports Hatch and Granada MkII to an Austin A35 van and Reliant Regal.

Though most of the frustrated travellers are probably on a late summer break, we imagine some are heading for the continent on business. In the days before email, and with plenty of new European business opportunities in an EU that still focused on commerce, communication with overseas prospects was by telephone, fax machine or by jumping in the car and going for a one-to-one meeting. The first budget airlines were still a decade away, although 1984 marked the year the government gave the official go-ahead to develop Stansted as London’s third major international airport.

There was also the thrill of driving on roads still mainly populated by that nation‘s makes of car – Renaults and Citroëns in France and Opels, Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs in Germany – as shown by the UK-centric contingent waiting to board, apart from the stray Renault Fuego. All that was about to change. Nissan was planning a UK factory in Tyne and Wear, from which it would export cars around the world. Supported by Margaret Thatcher, the new factory symbolised a shift in UK car production.

Underlying the industrial unrest was a move towards replacing factories that made things with shiny new industries that simply provided a service. Pushing that along was the arrival of the personal computer at home and at work. In 1980, the world had access to about a million computers; four years later, there were more than 30 million of them on the planet. In less than a decade, the internet, email and e-commerce would revolutionise global business.

That same computing power would also transform the factories that did survive, particularly in the car industry. At Vauxhall’s new Ellesmere Port plant, for example, a right hand drive Astra could be followed down the track by a left-hand drive Opel Kadett and then a Holden bound for Australia, watched over by a tenth of the number of people previously needed to build a single type of car.

Where do we go from here?

By 1984, Britain’s roads were clogging up. So, pile-ups meant it was time for a chat. Despite numerous industrial problems, UK car factories turned out around 1,750,000 cars in 1984, with the Ford Escort topping the charts, followed by the Cavalier and Fiesta. Between them, these three marques accounted for 415,350 cars on the road. Of course,  all these new vehicles had to go somewhere and, as our May 1984 photo shows, sometimes there wasn’t the infrastructure to cope, especially after an accident up ahead on a still-damp road (in this case, the A12 Brentwood Bypass).

Judging by the ambulance, it looks like there’s been another prang in the queue itself. With no sign of anything moving in the near future, there’s time to go for a stroll, talk about last night’s TV and maybe go for a comfort break in those handy bushes up the embankment. With Dagenham just up the road, it’s not really surprising that there are Cortinas, Granadas and Escorts galore. There are also some ‘foreigners’ though – the 2CV looks to be on Dutch plates – and even a few Continentals. We can see four Japanese cars – including a Colt Mirage followed by a Honda Civic disappearing on the other carriageway. 

The road probably still has its fair share of jams today, but a stroll would be less pleasant, with a double row of Armco in the central reservation. They seem to have done some road widening in the past 30 years, though, so at least the emergency vehicles should be able to get through more easily.

APPRENTICES REPAIR DAD’S ARMY VAN

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The 1935 Ford BB van that appeared in the original BBC TV series Dad’s Army has been given a full mechanical overhaul by apprentices at Ford’s Dagenham plant.

The platform of Ford apprentices who worked on the 1935 Ford BB van.

The platform of Ford apprentices who worked on the 1935 Ford BB van.

Under the control of Ford’s heritage vehicle technicians, the van needed recommissioning for it to star in the big-screen version of Dad’s Army. 

The team fixed the running gear of Jack Jones’s famous van – in the same building at Dagenham that it would have left the plant more than 80 years ago. The work included a full engine rebuild, new clutch and new wiring looms. 

First seen on the small screen in September 1969, the ‘J. Jones Family Butcher’ van appeared throughout the series’ nine-year run. It was bought by the Dad’s Army Museum, Thetford, Norfolk for £63,000 at auction in 2012.

Stuart Wright from the museum says: ‘It’s fantastic to see the van operational again and we hope it will capture the imagination of younger visitors as well as triggering happy memories for the older generations.’

Karl Carter, trade and skills director of the FBHVC applauds the project. He says: ‘Apprentices taking the FBHVC Classic Car Restoration course are being taught all the skills required to restore a Ford BB van such as the one that has been renovated by Ford apprentices. 

‘The course is designed specifically for historic vehicles and they would have more relevant skills than apprentices trained on modern vehicles.’