Wednesday, 9 August 2017

'BMW Teile' Schnitzer 635 CSI

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Forget your Gulf and Martini, your JPS and BASF... when it comes to poster-worthy race liveries, you'd be hard-pushed to find something that registers higher on the awesome-o-meter than this skeleton livery on Gerhard Berger's old AC Schnitzer 635 CSI. You're looking at a car and a cartoon at the same time! It's even got a spare wheel on the boot and pictures of rear seats, despite their obvious absence in a race car. Infinitely cool.

Spotted at 75MM - more pics here.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Concours+ Mk1 Golf

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

There comes a point in some projects when the car stops being a car and instead morphs into a transcendental art piece. Such is the case with this Golf, as you can see; its owner has clearly long passed the tipping point of infinitesimal perfection, whereby one follows a thought process along the lines of 'Well, I've upgraded that, so now I have to sort out the bit that it's attached to, and if I'm doing that then I might as well do this...' until every individual facet of the car has been unbolted and either smoothed and polished to an absurd degree, or simply replaced with an upgraded item. So this is still a Mk1 Golf, but only in the way that the Mona Lisa is still a canvas.

Spotted at the 2016 Players Show - more pics here.

Monday, 10 July 2017

'Sotheby Special' DBS V8

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Unlike any Aston Martin DBS you might have seen before, this bizarre 'Sotheby Special' was the brainchild of Ogle Design. Better known for their fibreglass-bodied Mini specials, Ogle wanted to take their reputation upmarket with a futursitic reimagining of a premium sports car, and this wacky creation (financed by tobacco company W.O. Wills to act as a promotional tool) ticked all the boxes.
There were actually three Sotheby Specials, this one being the second. The original was built for the 1972 Montreal Motor Show, quickly followed by an appearance at Geneva, and it appeared in dark blue with gold pinstriping. The body was fibreglass, with the top half being formed from Perspex sitting on a tubular frame. The most striking element was the multi-punctured rear end - a stainless steel sheet with 22 holes cut out, the number of brake lights that illuminated governed by how hard the driver was braking.

The original Sotheby Special was never road-registered, and currently resides, dusty and partially stripped, in a private collection. The car you see here was the second example built, again originally blue with gold pinstripes and this time road-registered; the car embarked upon a nationwide PR tour, but the Sotheby cigarette brand failed to take off and the DBS was subsequently repainted in the colours of the Embassy brand, as you see here. The windows on this car are actually made from coated Triplex glass.

And the third car? That came about after this one appeared on the TV show Tomorrow's World - a wealthy viewer decided they wanted one, and managed to convince Aston Martin to provide a chassis and Ogle to crack out the moulds one more time. It cost £28,750 to build (a standard DBS V8 being £8,750), and that car now also resides in a private overseas collection.

The styling is very much of its time, and yet that kind of 1970s retro-futurist weirdness is bang on-trend right now. There were few cars with a bigger crowd around them at this year's Festival of Speed.

More pics from the 2017 Festival of Speed here.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Rolls-Royce Sweptail

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

The Rolls-Royce Phantom VII went out of production at the end of last year, so this custom one-off – the Sweptail – acts as a fitting epitaph. Built to special order for one fabulously wealthy customer, this Phantom CoupĂ©-based cruiser deliberately looks like a luxury yacht at the tail end, has pop-out attachĂ©-case holders and, yes, ‘08’ is its full registration number. Those little numbers, in the correct font and legal size for ANPR cameras, are machined from billet aluminium.
The owner worked closely with Rolls-Royce over a period of four years to ensure that every detail was just-so, from the mechanism that delivers a bottle of Champagne at the touch of a button, to the natty bullet-tip brake light; the panoramic glass roof is the largest and most complex ever fitted to a Rolls-Royce, and the hand-polished billet aluminium radiator grille is also the largest they've ever crafted. The interior features Macassar Ebony and Paldao wood, with Moccassin and Dark Spice leather trim on the seats, armrests and dashtop, while the rear seats have been junked in favour of a polished wood speedboat deck with an illuminated, glass-lipped shelf.
Everything about the Sweptail drips opulence and extravagant luxury; naturally Rolls-Royce won’t say how much the car cost, but have hinted that it’s the most expensive factory-built car ever made. So think somewhere in excess of £10,000,000…

Spotted at the 2017 Festival of Speed - more photos here.

Monday, 19 June 2017

VTEC Combat Escort

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

As bases for project cars go, the Mk2 Escort is always going to be a strong choice. If you can bring yourself to use the horrendous word 'winningest', you'll be able to boast that your car shares the DNA of history's winningest rally car. Of course, the Mk2 has form on the track too, as Zakspeed and the like were keen to demonstrate in the late-1970s, and it's this Group 5 aggression that's being channelled here.

Behold, it's a flatfront Escort.
...a flatfront Escort with super-wide arches, astonishing aero, oodles of functional carbon-fibre bits and, best of all, an F20C - the manic Honda engine from the S2000 that revs right up to the stratosphere and back. (And that's not an easy conversion - not only is the modern Japanese motor totally alien to the retro Ford, it's also very tall and it spins the wrong way.) So what we have is a sort of who's-who of awesome, coalescing to form one of the coolest Mk2s on the scene today.

Spotted at the 2017 Players Classic - more pics here.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Lotus Esprit GT1

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Lotus were having a hard time in the early 1990s. Production of the leggy Excel and FWD Elan had ended, the number of franchised dealers had almost halved, and they'd been unceremoniously dumped by General Motors. The Lotus F1 team had gone bankrupt, so Group Lotus found themselves without a single motorsport outlet with which to promote their sports cars. What they needed was a fresh new racer... so they took the venerable old Esprit and reworked it into a brutal GT1 monster. Makes sense, right?

The resultant Esprit GT1 was a mixed bag of fortunes: it was able to keep up with the McLaren F1 GTR, but was blighted by reliability issues too. It never became a poster boy for the genre, and many are surprised nowadays to learn that the Esprit GT1 was even a thing. This particular one was run by Lotus in 1996 before passing into privateer hands the following year; in the fourth race of the '97 season it suffered extensive crash damage, and ultimately had to endure the ignominy of being a spares car for its sister Esprit in the 1998 Le Mans 24hr. Such was its fate from then on, in fact, endlessly picked over for parts to keep the more together cars in action... until, that was, the day five years ago when the car was bought by marque enthusiast Peter Downes. He's been methodically piecing it back together, chasing up the correct period GT1-spec parts, and reckons before long it'll all be finished and ready to race. Looking pretty damn fine so far, isn't it?

Spotted at 75MM - more pics here.