Monday, 30 November 2015

Ken Block's Hoonicorn

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Ken Block's Mustang is a unique creation. The Hoonicorn is a 1965 notchback with 4WD, outrageous arches, 10.5x18" wheels with 295-section tyres, a full tubular chassis, and carbon-fibre bodywork. The Roush 410ci V8 kicks 845bhp through a six-speed Sadev sequential 'box, while a hydraulic handbrake encourages the thing to get all rally car-like. There's never been a '65 quite like it, and it was built purely for one thing - this:

...and now that its work in Los Angeles is done, Ken's prowling the globe with the Hoonicorn, hunting down tyres and slaying them systematically and indiscriminately. You see it here lurking at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, a venue at which the sentient monster Mustang decided to engulf Lord March himself and spit him off the legendary hillclimb:

Ken merely laughed it off, buried the throttle and carried on. He's just as unhinged as the car is.

More photos from FoS 2015 here.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport Coupé

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Jacques Saoutchik was a maverick among coachbuilders, always endeavouring to carve his own path rather then following the herd of popular contemporary design. His projects were characterised by their avant-garde bodywork, at once flowing and liquid and brutally imposing... and always dripping in chrome.
This car is arguably one of his carrosserie's finest works, the 1950 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport Coupé being one of just 36 Grand Sports produced between 1947-53. Its 190bhp 4.5-litre straight-six was directly derived from the Grand Prix engine that won the firm so many podiums, along with a one-two finish at Le Mans in 1950. The performance credentials were all in place, and Saoutchik's work reimagined the racer as an elegant grand tourer. The tapered teardrop of the body is approximately 50% bonnet, the steering hub being pretty much at the mid-point of the car, and the broad, curvaceous panels are beautifully offset by the inevitable brightwork. It's a boulevardier with fiery potential; the French Ferrari 250 GT, a Jaguar XK120 photocopied at 150%. To wheel out a hideously hackneyed cliché, they really don't make them like this any more.

Spotted at Salon Privé 2015 - more pics here.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

RB25 S14a

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

S-platform Nissans don't get a lot more aggressive than this. Just check out the bonkers lock angle, for a start!
This boisterous 200SX is the brainchild of Boyden Barlow, an Essex boy through and through, who built it to be at once an accomplished drift car and a flawless show-stopper. The latter has been achieved on the 2015 summer show circuit, and now he's gearing up to take on all comers in the smoky crucible of drifting for 2016. Aiding him along the way will be his trusty Skyline-sourced RB engine and transmission, along with the obligatory hydraulic handbrake and two-way LSD. He's put a lot of thought into the details too; the coilovers are fancy external-reservoir units, there's a twin rear caliper setup, the custom rollcage is rocking some retro metalflake, and his cartoonish reworking of the already-quite-large Big Country Labs spoiler is certainly going to raise a few eyebrows. Keep an eye out for Boyden next year - this car may be deliciously clean, but he's not going to be shy about giving it hell on track. As that obscene front lock suggests, he built this thing to go sideways.

Spotted at the 2015 Players Classic - more photos here.
...and check out the feature I wrote on the car in this issue of Japanese Performance.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

JPS Cosworth Capri

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

This Capri has a very keen retro vibe. That might seem like a truism, but I'm not just referring to the fact that it's an early 1980s Ford, and thus inherently of a certain age that may be considered as such; no, it's more that the way in which it's been modified harks back to the overblown excesses of the 1970s. It's Street Machine. It's Custom Car. It's got a whole lot going on and it certainly won't be to all tastes, but you can't argue with the commitment and effort that's been put into it.

Take the colour scheme, for starters. The black-and-gold JPS livery evokes the Formula One cars and fast-road Lotuses of the era; you could, of course, buy a bona fide JPS Capri in the mid-seventies, but that simply wore a tasteful golden pinstripe. This is something else.
There's rumbling mischief beneath the bonnet too, in the form of the venerable Cosworth 24v V6 as found in the Scorpio 24v. This forthrightness is augmented by a raft of gauges, a boisterous rear diffuser, a sodding great wing, buckets 'n' harnesses, Wilwood brakes, jutting Escort forest arches, little spinner pastiches on the Minilites, and Mustang-style side window grilles. It's an assault on the senses, and it makes no apologies for its outrageousness. That's something to be respected.

Spotted at the Classic Motor Show - more pics here.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Renault 5 Turbo 2

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

There's something gloriously retro about brown, isn't there? The 1970s and early '80s were a real boomtime for chocolate-hued motors, after which point it became distinctly unfashionable; the colour's had a massive resurgence recently, with MINI, Fiat and BMW leading the charge, but it'll always be the end of the colour palette that resides in a simpler time.
I also love that this sensible-trousers hue would be slathered over such a ridiculous thing as a 5 Turbo - these were bonkers, indescribably scary homologation models, surely more at home in a lurid lipstick red or French racing blue... the idea of painting one brown is just deranged. It looks outstanding.

The original 5 Turbo was introduced as a hair-raising road model that served as a box-ticking exercise to allow the company to go rallying. The slender proportions of the hatchback were ballooned cartoonishly with broad hips that near enough doubled the width of the car, and the engine was relocated to where the rear seats would be, augmented by an effervescent turbocharger. 400 of these were built in Dieppe to satisfy Group 4 homologation regs, and the Turbo 2 (as we see here) followed shortly after; this was a car that appeased the accountants in that it had fewer bespoke or expensive-to-produce parts - fewer light-alloy body panels, for example - but it was no less manic. 160bhp in a car that weighed under 1,000kg was pretty hairy in the early eighties (hell, it still is now), and its short wheelbase meant that you really had to pay attention to what the tail was up to, especially in the wet.

This particular example rolled out of the Renault Alpine factory in Dieppe in November 1983, and remains in its original production spec. While it's estimated that around 160 Turbo 2s were officially imported to the UK in period, this one spent much of its life in central France before being privately imported to England in 2011. It's got just 51,000 kilometres on the clock - each one of them presumably being a bit scary and soundtracked by manic laughter - and, most reassuringly of all, that delicious, mile-deep brown is the original paint. Looks good enough to lick, doesn't it?

More from the 2015 Classic Motor Show here.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Hedgefind Cortina GXL

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

The phrase 'barnfind' is the scourge of the classic car advert these days. Type it into eBay Motors, you'll be presented with more knackered old cars than there can possibly be barns in the country. People are using it as a synonym for 'broken' or 'hasn't been used in a while'. The number of cars that are genuinely found, to the surprise of the discoverer, in old barns is actually very small.
This Cortina, however, isn't claiming to be a barnfind. Nope, what we have here is a bona fide hedgefind. The artfully dishevelled two-door GXL has recently been hauled out of a hedge, where it had been languishing, unloved, since 1983. The new owner brought it to the Classic Motor Show at the NEC, still proudly wearing its moss and leaves, and - if the sign next to the car is to be believed - it actually drove in there under its own power. Impressive.
Presumably it'll now be restored, as the values of GXLs are only going to go one way. But it does look rather cool all dirty and holed, doesn't it?

More from the Classic Motor Show here.