Dream cars: Isuzu 117 Coupé

As you've probably guessed by now, I have rather esoteric tastes when it comes to cars. I don't want to fill my dream garage with the common-or-garden Ferraris, Porsches and Rolls-Royces that most enthusiasts lust after and instead I fantasise over more left-field choices that you may never have heard of. Isuzu for instance is not a name usually associated with road cars and is better known for trucks and 4x4s like the Trooper and Rodeo. Indeed, the company is no longer active in the car market but in the past there were some little-known yet very attractive Isuzu cars, none more so than today's object of my affection, the 117 Coupé.

Isn't it a stunner? That colour is great too
(Image: eBay via taketotheroad.co.uk)


A Maxi model

It's been far too long since my last blog as I've been very busy and going through some tough times at work. There has been some very good news amongst all of this though: my prayers for a 1/76 scale model of the Austin Maxi have finally been answered by Oxford Diecast so I am looking forward to adding one to my collection soon. The Maxi has been overlooked by the model manufacturers for far too long and has been requested countless times, not just by me, so the news of its addition to their programme has been received with much enthusiasm and I'm sure it will be a good seller.

At long last, an affordable model Maxi


Molotow Liquid Chrome

I have a new favourite thing in my modelmaking toolkit. I can't be the only modeller to have spent years searching for the holy grail of a convincing chrome effect that can be applied by hand, and I've tried all sorts of different things but never been satisfied with the results. Until now that is - the Molotow Liquid Chrome paint pens seem to be the answer to my prayers and I was so impressed I just had to share my feelings.

The magic silver bullet


The end of Atlas Editions

Back in 2016, I wrote about Atlas Editions and their strange business practices. Since then things have carried on in much the same way and they have continued to supply subscribers with new models, albeit sometimes erratically and not always to their satisfaction. Now however, with effect from May 2018 and confirming speculation that had been rife for a while, the Atlas Editions brand is officially being phased out. All of the once omnipresent advertising has disappeared and the Atlas website now states that while existing subscriptions will be honoured, no new customers are being accepted, with visitors directed to the 'Model Space' website of Atlas's parent company De Agostini.instead. So what has led to this drastic decision being made?

Originally issued in mainland Europe, then the UK coach series and now widely available


The Thame Time Traveller

I've previously bemoaned the lack of interest in the modern-day bus scene on this blog. Thanks to accessibility legislation, all the interesting old step-entrance buses are now illegal to use on normal stage services and are confined almost exclusively to school runs, where they are difficult to photograph and impossible to travel on. Thus it was with great pleasure that I learned of an enthusiasts' tour on Saturday 5th May, organised by Chris Martin (no, not that one) of the Leyland Olympians Yahoo Group. Called the Thame Time Traveller, the aim was to sample seven of the Olympian school buses that form part of the fascinating fleet run by Walters Coaches of Oxford on various runs through the Oxfordshire countryside.

Very rarely does anyone other than schoolkids get to travel on these big beasts


The best of Bicester

Sunday 22nd April was the annual 'Drive It Day' so that meant no shortage of classic car shows. My choice of destination once again was the Sunday Scramble at Bicester Heritage, one of the largest and finest events of the year. Even in the twelve months since the last Scramble I attended, the site has continued to develop and expand, and its world-class reputation grows year by year. The place truly is a petrolhead's paradise and the great weather helped this Scramble become the biggest ever, with over 4000 tickets sold and more than a thousand visiting cars.

The spirit of Onslow is alive and well

There has already been a lot of media coverage, but these features always concentrate on the exotic stuff with arty photos of multi-million pound Ferraris and Bentleys. That's not my style so my self-declared mission was to search out the mundane everyday classics that so often get overlooked yet hold far more personal memories. There were plenty of these quietly hiding among the exotica, so here's my own round up of the highlights, a very different take on the event from what you'll read elsewhere.


Unsung heroes: Rover 600

My intention to profile an unsung hero every month has rather fallen by the wayside this year. I still have plenty of deserving candidates but seem to be short of time to write about them, so better late than never, my first unsung hero of 2018 is a successful British car that celebrated its 25th birthday this month yet is overlooked and almost forgotten compared with the rest of its manufacturer's sometimes inferior products. The Rover 600-series may be dismissed as nothing more than a Honda in a posh frock and doesn't have the following of its successor, but it was actually one of the company's best cars so I think it really deserves better.

Honda in drag or proper Rover?


A Hull of an auction

How could any car lover ever forget that famous moment in 2014 when Jaguar Land Rover announced they had purchased the entire car collection amassed by dentist Dr James Hull for a rumoured £100 million? This was believed to be the country's largest private collection and consisted of no less than 543 cars, which Dr Hull would only sell as one lot as he wanted it to remain intact with the new owner. Four years on, there was much excitement when news broke in February that a hundred surplus vehicles from this collection would be sold in a dedicated 'Affordable Classics' sale by Brightwells at Bicester Heritage on 21st March.

Just a small selection. Not what you might have expected from Dr Hull's collection.

I unfortunately wasn't able to attend in person but I've crunched some numbers and come up with my analysis of the auction. All figures quoted are the hammer prices, to which VAT and a 10% premium had to be added so the final costs were significantly higher.


Corneal surgery update

There's been another long absence from the blog but this time with good reason. Long-time readers may remember the corneal graft surgery I had way back in November 2016. As that was so long ago, you can be forgiven for thinking I was fully recovered by now but you'd be wrong as healing is a very slow process where eyes are concerned. On Monday 5th March I finally had the stitches removed from the graft, almost 18 months after they were put in, which meant another operation at the John Radcliffe Hospital, but this would be a day case under local anaesthetic.


A Tricentrol tribute

With my interest in the present-day bus and coach scene on the wane, I've started researching some of the many firms who used to ply their trade in my area but are sadly no longer with us. Very little evidence of the group's existence now remains and younger readers may never have heard of them as they went out of business about 30 years ago, but throughout the 1970s Tricentrol was one of the biggest and most familiar names in Bedfordshire and beyond. The Tricentrol empire was a substantial business, comprising not just a large fleet of coaches but also many other ventures in the car sales and truck industries managed from the head office in Dunstable, but has now vanished almost without trace.

I'm too young to have ever actually seen any Tricentrol vehicles in the flesh and not much has been written about the coaching side of the business, so this article has been compiled from PSV Circle records and contemporary news reports and there may be some inaccuracies as a result. Special thanks go to Frans Angevaare from the Netherlands for allowing use of photos from his extensive collection.  Read on for more on the rise and fall of Tricentrol...

A typical Tricentrol Bedford in London on one of the express services
(Photo: Frans Angevaare)

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