Thursday, 19 May 2016

Duratec MkII Escort

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis



Paul Torkington's MkII is nothing less than a work of art. Not only has he masterfully hand-picked an incredible spec list, but the finish of the details is outstanding - it's the kind of build that's so clean it'd almost be a shame to use it.

The car started out as a blue 1976 1.6 Ghia, which Paul bought at the age of 16 from its 101 year old owner. He stripped the Escort right down to first principles, then spent the next ten years building it up into what you see today. There's a spanking new 2.0-litre Duratec under the bonnet, running to a six-linked Atlas axle at the rear, and the car's running 15" Compomotives with AP Racing brakes. But it's not just about the names - look how the Vista Orange paint edges aside under the bonnet so you can see the carbon-Kevlar weave; check out the exquisite detail of the lightweight bonnet hinges, the eat-your-dinner-off-it fuel setup in the boot, the squeaky-clean floors... this is the work of a man obsessed.

And no, he's not afraid to use it. He likes to give it a bit of stick. In fact, he's already building a more fiery Duratec for it...

Spotted at the International Ford Show - more pics here.







Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Falcon Lowrider

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis



I have very little information to offer on this '65 Falcon beyond the fact that it's totally badass. It could be on air-ride or hydros; whichever way, it's obscenely low in the best possible sense. Combined with the simple smoothie hubcaps, Ivy Green paint and Mexican blankets, it was easily one of the most desirable showings at Goodwood's recent 'Soft-Top Sunday' Breakfast Club. Just a gorgeous, gorgeous thing.

More pics from the Breakfast Club here.









Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Mini 1330GT

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis



Here's a Mini that's been done right. Its owner, Luke French, started building this from a ropey shell when he was just fifteen, and it's fair to say that he's ticked all the boxes and stirred in more than a little flair. The Clubman-fronted 1275GT features a 1330cc motor that's jam-packed full of racy trinkets and sucks through a Weber 45DCOE, the chassis bristles with coilovers and Metro 4-pots, and the interior boasts the sort of spec that makes fellow Mini owners weep.
I've written a feature on this spunky little poppet, you should be able to find it in Practical Performance Car magazine before too long...

Spotted at Wheels Day 2016 - more pics here.






Friday, 13 May 2016

Wizard Roadster

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis



The cult of the Wizard Roadster is mired in secrecy and half-truths; ownership of one isn't just about drop-top aircooled whimsy, it's an exercise in clandestine sleuthing if you're keen to know the provenance of the thing.
The concept was originally devised in the US; these conversions were available via the small ads in the back of hot rod magazines, and the legend goes that three kits were purchased (one of each popular style; the roadster, the van, and the 'Windjammer' T-Bar semi-hardtop) by Pete & Mart's Custom Supplies of Harlow, Essex, in the early 1980s. UK company Wizard of Rods then - allegedly - used said moulds as the basis for their products. The 1984 Wizard brochure described how the kit would 'transform a stock Beetle into an exciting soft-top fun vehicle,' the fibreglass bonding task being 'something like two weekends' work'. As was the nature of the home-taping nineteen-eighties, these copied designs were variously ripped off by other kit car firms and what-have-you, selling for knock-down prices. So today it's quite hard to know whether a Beetle Roadster is an old-school US build, or a 'genuine' UK Wizard, or a period knock-off, or something that's been crafted since.

For the sake of simplicity, however, let's just call this particular shiny example a Wizard. I can't give you any details as to its provenance, but I'd love to know more about it - the VW-Porsche 914 badges and auto shifter suggest that something entertaining's going on with the running gear, the interior is beautifully trimmed, the custom dash is a real eye-catcher, and the staggered tyre profiles on those Empi five-spokes gives it a delicious rake. Gorgeous little thing.

Spotted at the Goodwood Breakfast Club - more pics here.









Thursday, 12 May 2016

R1 Mini

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis



Minis really don’t get a lot more serious than this. The aggressive aesthetics shout louder than a stadium full of West Ham fans, despite a futile attempt to tone the frenzy down with seventies-bathroom-beige paint, thanks to those wide-hipped arches and carbon-fibre rear diffuser. The whole shell is as slippery as a buttered eel too; the tail-lights are MIA and every panel is flawless.

Peeping through the purposeful Perspex sliders, you’ll spot within a pair of super-lightweight carbon-fibre bucket seats (surprisingly not that uncomfortable, the owner was keen to point out) with four-point harnesses, along with a substantial rollcage, copious weight-saving drilling, no dash, and a comically tall Touring Car-style gearlever.

As you might imagine, there’s no old-school A-Series motor to be seen here. The fuel that gets chucked in through the rear window - where the filler is, you see, the guy’s not mental – snakes its way into a Yamaha R1 bike engine. A gloriously silly idea, which must be oodles of fun.

This thing’s been flawlessly perfected to a show-winning finish, but it’s also been engineered for hardcore use. So after nigh-on a decade of development, you’ll probably be seeing it at one or two shows this summer… and don’t be surprised if you spot it out on track too. Just make sure you go in well-armed if you have any desire to catch it.

Spotted at the Goodwood Breakfast Club - more pics here.








Wednesday, 11 May 2016

BTCC - Thruxton 2016

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis



It wouldn't be a proper BTCC meet without crashes, recriminations, finger-pointing and general carnage, and rounds 7, 8 & 9 at Thruxton didn't disappoint. The Honda boys, Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal, were naturally vying for podium glory, but the surprisingly hot weather proved to be just too much for the tortured Dunlops: Aiden Moffat had a blowout, then Mat Jackson, then Mark Howard, then Neal was struck down and, in trying to get across to the pit lane, managed to trigger a colossal pile-up that took out his team-mate and red-flagged the race. Oops! So Adam Morgan took the victory there, and the Honda Yuasa Racing team had two ruined cars to try to patch up before the second round.

...and impressively, they managed it. Furthermore, with no success ballast to worry about, the orange Civics were on a bit of a charge; race distance had been dropped from 16 laps to 12 for reasons of tyre safety, and Shedden - who'd started 23rd on the grid - ended up finishing 4th. Astonishing stuff. Andrew Jordan found himself at the top of the podium for the first time since June 2014, and he was really quite smiley about that.

The third race looked to be the Honda boys' chance to pull the weekend back, and it so nearly came together for Neal; when the chequered flag dropped, he was just two tenths behind Mat Jackson. But Shedden? Ah, he was going great guns until an unfortunate altercation with Jack Goff's BMW took him out of the running. That's racing, eh?

All of this is secondary, of course, to the big story of the weekend: the world's first pregnant grid girl in fluffy mink flip-flops. You can't say the BTCC isn't forward-thinking.

More photos here.