Automotive

Rolls Royce Wraith

Only a handful of times during a lifetime do you really experience one of those moments when the planets align. Let me tell you about one of those moments that happened to me. The planet was Jupiter as composed by Gustav Holst. The place was Doughton on the A433 in Gloucestershire. And the car was the Rolls Royce Wraith. For those of you who don’t know the piece of music, there is a point when all goes quiet and through the expectation builds a rousing instrumental of the well-known hymn ‘I Vow to Thee, My Country’. It’s hard to communicate, but on that sunny Friday afternoon, wafting along in the…

Drive Southwest

It’s a mystery to me why more people don’t realise that you can hire a supercar in the UK. Day after day, petrol-heads squeeze themselves into a special helmet two sizes too small and drive a few laps around a local track on an ‘experience day’. As if it wasn’t bad enough that you are wearing a helmet, you are given an instructor to glare at you every time you change gear or push the car over 60. As if you need the helmet; you’re never going to hit a speed that would be likely to do any damage. Suffice to say, you are much better off hiring a sports…

Aston Martin DB9

Aston Martin has always held a special place in my heart. As a boy, I remember watching Timothy Dalton drive across Arctic tundra in the V8 Vantage Volante, being chased by the Ruskies. Times have changed, though, and the Iron Curtain has fallen. This issue, we couldn’t be further from tundra. This quarter, I convinced the ladies and gents at the hallowed Aston Martin Lagonda head office to loan us their new V12 DB9 Volante for an epic drive from Bristol to Antibes. The last time I drove across Europe was in a One Series BMW, following a team of 110 Defenders from Copenhagen to Monaco on the Gumball Rally….

Know your Vintage

I like to think that we’ve all been there (in truth it’s probably just my very small warped mind that’s obsessed about this, but you’re reading it, so hey-ho). Allow me to set the scene: I was having a lovely evening in polite company and someone had brought an American with them. Either as a quaint distraction or through a genuine love of all things dumbed-down. Whilst said American was grappling with a receptacle that holds less than one (US) gallon of drink and was staring at knives and forks with confusion, I found myself feeling constantly uneasy at the next topic of conversation or misnomer to be blurted out…

Jaguar F-Type

I haven’t found a review of the 3.0 F-Type so telling myself that Jaguar thought we were edgy and cool with a kind of anti-hero take on sports cars and not a small publication who isn’t to be trusted with the V8. They lent us the V6 one – not even the V6 S. I’m fine with that. I think I seem fine. Much like the F-Type, I’ll do different levels of review. The first is what I call the entry level review: buy one of these. It’s properly fast and sounds like a race car. Don’t go for white as it looks shit. The second review is more luxurious…

Jaguar XJR

As it comes sweeping into the car park, I ask myself if the XJR really is the short wheelbase. It is, but it also looks massive. Looking similar to a pissed-off battleship, this car says, ‘Yes, I own the company and, yes, I have no qualms about my source of income. Kalashnikov anyone?’ Jaguar have tried very hard to shake off the Brummie pub landlord image of the Jaguar XJ, and I can say, if you still think that, the new XJR will metaphorically smash a pool cue in half whilst striding towards you with a fixed stare, wearing the sharpest suit you have ever seen. Respect it. First impressions…

Loyal Defender

‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. An adage that you could apply to many things in this world, but none more than an item as steeped in heritage and tradition as Land Rover’s Defender – or so you would think. As old as the hills themselves, this iconic vehicle is woven into the very fabric of our country. For decades we have farmed in them, taken the family out in them, and when the mood takes us, we’ve occasionally invaded in them. From its birth as the Series 1 in 1948, through to what we know as the Defender, Land Rover’s trusty workhorse has changed very little. Well, you…

Austin Healey 3000

My understanding of the classic car world could be described as entry level at best. It begins with the classing system. I assume that if it comes with colour-coordinated driving gloves and requires a checklist to start it, you can class it as a classic. Apparently not. Antique means it was built somewhere between 1880 and 1930. The pre-war, war and post-war classifications speak for themselves. Then we have classic from the late-50s to mid-80s. Having probably given one era too many years, I fully expect the Bristol owners club to organise a very slow picket outside my apartment, ending with a drive for scones somewhere. Ok, let’s give the…

Camaro

When Cheverolet put the Camaro on sale in September of 1966, the SR-71 Blackbird was flying at Mach 3 over mother Russia, The Beatles were apparently more famous than the son of god and wooden-toothed Walt Disney sadly popped his clogs. The 60s were a time of psychedelic drugs, JFK, civil-rights and a cultural counter revolution; a time that I would be hard pressed not to spin the dial to, if old Doc Brown turned up the in DeLorean. So, whilst America was on its way to a decade of societal change, so was the automotive industry.When Ford released the Mustang in 1964, there was no serious reaction from GM….

15th Anniversary Gumball Rally

I remember being 16 years old it was a suitably dull day in my home town so i decided to head into town and loiter as the rest of the youths did. The loitering led to boredom so some twenty minutes later i found myself in GAME purchasing a copy of Gumball3000 for the PS2. A fast paced game that involved driving a range of different vehicles across various countries whilst trying not to crash or get nicked by the eastern European rozzers. This year we were asked by the team at Twisted Land Rover if we should like to join them on the 15 year anniversary of the Gumball Rally travelling…

Eagle Jaguar

The E-Type was first presented to the world’s press at the Restaurant du Parc des Eaux Vives, in Geneva on 15 March 1961, a launch timed to coincide with the Geneva Motor Show of the same year. Such was the media excitement and clamour for demonstration runs up a nearby hill-climb that Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons instructed chief test driver Norman Dewis to drive through the night to bring another model to Switzerland. Dewis, who was one of the team drivers for the ‘55 Le Mans Team, took eleven hours to drive from Calais to Geneva. Averaging 68mph, across France. On non-motorway roads. In a factory-fresh car. Strewth! When…

Carrera 2

At 5:30am my street is very much asleep. I jump into my 930 Turbo and off into the darkness, as I rumble towards dawn and a more modern driving experience. Sunrise comes and goes, along with the M32, M4, A420 and the M40. At 7:40am, I arrive at Silverstone and park the car, still feeling a little fuzzy from the early start. The Porsche experience centre at Silverstone is everything that you would expect from the Stuttgart manufacturer. The cylindrical building is clad in glass, with a showroom downstairs and a long sweeping parabola of stairs taking you up to a restaurant, overlooking the test track. After a much-needed cup…

Bentley W12 GTC

It may be named Continental, but the new Bentley is unapologetically British. From the moment that W.O. Bentley’s brand new, three-litre engine roared into life, in his London-based New Street Mews workshops, sometime during October 1919, his dream, his passion “To build a good car, a fast car, the best in class” started coming to fruition. This innovative engine, designed by ex-Royal Flying Corps officer Clive Gallop, had four valves per cylinder, and lightweight aluminium pistons. It was good enough to power Douglas Hawkes’s car, in the 1922 Indianapolis 500 race, at an average speed of 80mph. The 1920s were a golden decade for Bentley. Ettore Bugatti, his greatest competitor…

Ferrari California

Ferrari taken over to Europe to make sure that the natives are not ‘too restless’. Speed essential to report from the ground, so the latest Ferrari California 30 was chosen for the journey. It was to take four days, 1605 miles, and visits to Paris, Bordeaux, and Le Mans to confirm that the bad weather had not unsettled the natives, and that the entente was still cordiale. ‘Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough! It isn’t fit for humans now’, opined John Betjeman in his famous ten-stanza poem of 1937. Fast forward 75 years, and ‘we are fortunate now’ that the majority of the 850 factories that incurred his wrath…