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


2018-05-26

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

2018-05-18

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


2018-05-06

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


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