2018-12-07

Chevrons Rally Top Ten

It's winter, it's cold, dark and wet, and the car show season seems like it was an age ago. As I sit here in the darkness, I think back to the shows I've attended this year and some of my favourite things I've seen. Although I've never owned one, I do like Citroens and the Citroen Car Club holds its annual Chevrons Rally just down the road in Little Horwood over a weekend in September, so for the last two years I have visited in the Maxi and been made very welcome despite not even having a Citroen. Here I present my personal top ten of the cars in attendance at both events.


As you can see from the contrast between the cars above (a 425cc 2CV from 1957 and a 1998 XM V6), the Chevrons Rally is open to all of the many cars made by Citroen over the years, right up to brand new ones, and there is always a large and diverse turnout. The 2018 event also saw a celebration of the Citroen Visa's 40th birthday, with an impressive lineup of 14 cars assembled. So without further ado, read on for my top ten favourites from the 2017 and 2018 Chevrons Rallies...

2018-11-20

Flickr fail?

Time for another tech post: fresh from the saga of Photobucket's disastrous changes of last year, I once again find myself discussing an unpopular change to an online photo hosting service but this time it does affect me personally. Back in the mists of time I had an account at Fotopic.net but since that company went out of business, Flickr has been my (and many other photographers') site of choice.

After a tough recent past that has seen a lot of ups and downs as part of the Yahoo empire, Flickr has now found itself in the ownership of fellow photography site SmugMug, which it was hoped would create a new era of focus and stability. However, in recent weeks a controversial and potentially damaging change to Flickr policies was announced, sparking a vocal backlash in the wake of Photobucket's similar actions. Read on to see the message in full and why I think this change isn't all bad news...

2018-10-02

Unsung heroes: MG Maestro Turbo

The unsung heroes series seems to have become rather more occasional than I intended, but here at last is a new entry. This one has been on my list of candidates for a long time and I was finally spurred into featuring it by attending an event that celebrated its 30th birthday. Consider the Austin Maestro, a thoroughly uninspiring bread-and-butter car driven mainly by pensioners with nothing for petrolheads to get excited about. However, you may be surprised to learn that 30 years ago at the height of the performance wars, someone at Austin-Rover went berserk and added a large dose of spices to that butter, creating the hottest of all hot hatches...

Doesn't look that special, does it?


2018-09-18

Motoring Misfits: Austin 'Minor' van

It's been a while since my last blog, and there's no particular reason, just everyday life getting in the way. Today I want to start a new occasional series looking at a subject that fascinates me: the 'motoring misfit', those odd vehicles that while not necessarily bad just didn't seem to have a place in the market, and my first candidate at first glance appears to be something very common.



Look at the van pictured above. Isn't that a Morris Minor, one of the most popular and beloved vehicles of its era, so how on earth can I claim it to be a motoring misfit? Take another look though and you'll see this is a Minor in disguise - there's a crinkly grille and an Austin badge where you'd expect it to say Morris. How come a Morris Minor van ended up wearing the Austin identity? It isn't a DIY job as you might think but a standard production model, so keep reading to find out why its manufacturer felt the need to create this pointless motoring misfit...

2018-08-18

Invacar field test

I'm a very happy man at the moment. I've just ticked something odd off my bucket list that very few people have ever done and I certainly never expected to do. You may remember that a couple of years ago I told the story of the Invacar and expressed a desire that one day I might actually see one, but with so few left I honestly didn't hold out much hope of that ever happening. The day has come however, and not only have I looked closely at an Invacar in the flesh but I even had the opportunity to get behind the handlebars and take it for a drive! There was no way I could pass up a unique chance like that... 

Little TWC, star of the show


2018-07-30

Festival of the Unexceptional: Concours Top Ten

As promised last time, here's the second of my top tens from the brilliant Festival of the Unexceptional. This one is a run down of my favourites in the Concours de l'Ordinaire and, new to celebrate the Festival's fifth birthday, the Invitational Class consisting of past winners, cars from manufacturers' heritage fleets and others specifically invited by Hagerty. As ever, the standard of entries was extremely high and they're all deserving winners so it proved very difficult to select only ten, but here after a lot of deliberation are my final choices...  

2018-07-18

Festival of the Unexceptional: Classic Parking Top Ten

Saturday 14th July marked the fifth birthday of Hagerty's Festival of the Unexceptional, a celebration of mundane and ordinary motoring held for the second year running in the glamorous surroundings of Stowe House and Gardens. The Concours de l'Ordinaire and its hand-selected entrants may be the centrepiece of the event, but there were plenty more equally remarkable vehicles to be found quietly lurking in the classic car parking alongside. After much deliberation and hard decision making over what would make the final cut, here's a round up of my top ten favourites from that area. How many of these do you remember?

2018-07-16

Range Rover field test

Modern Range Rovers leave me cold. I think they're hideous and vulgar and have absolutely no desire to own one. The original, retrospectively known as the Range Rover Classic, on the other hand has long been a favourite of mine and I think its simple, rugged yet elegant shape is a design classic that looks great. I'd never actually driven or even sat in one though, until now that is.

A proper Range Rover in what should be its natural habitat


The Saturday just gone was the fifth running of Hagerty Insurance's Festival of the Unexceptional and there will be a full report on that event in due course, but this year it was decided to make a weekend of it and hold an after party in the Field of Dreams for invited guests. A nice man called Ian from Hagerty owns the blue Range Rover that can usually be found at the events they sponsor, and when he turned up on Sunday I cheekily asked if I could have a go. "Sure", he said, "the keys are in it", so I clambered in and off I went across the field to realise my dream of driving a classic Range Rover.

2018-07-01

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)


2018-06-20

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


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