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Jan Anderle and The Dálník: Blurring the line between Bike and Car.

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Repulsive, isn’t it? A gargoyle among the sirens of steel and rubber that make up the historic motorcycle collection of the National Technical Museum, Prague. It may be redolent of the kind of creature that lurks at the bottom of the ocean’s deepest trenches, but it also happens to be one of the more interesting footnotes in European transportation development in the 20th century.

I covered the way-ahead-of-its-time ČAS Sc quite recently, and this, the Dálník 250 prototype is even more extreme in its concept. Find out more about it and what it led to after the jump.

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Quick Spin- VW e-up! Are Friends Electric?

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As any curious, hands-on non-affiliate of PETA will confirm, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Every car manufacturer on our collective radar seems to have at least murmured something about Electric Cars, and every attempt at replacing combustion with conduction as our favoured motivational fuel seems to end up with a very different product.

Recently I reported on the unsettlingly expensive i3, the quasi sci-fi imaginings of BMW which have translated into production without neutering from the original design concept, as a statement of “can-do” from the Bavarian powerhouse. Now, as something of a contrast, lets take a look at the way they do things electrically in Wolfsburg. … Continue Reading

The Carchive:- The Mk1 VW Golf (1980)

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We’ve not done this for a while now, so lets don the requisite safety clothing, connect up our breathing apparatus and ready ourselves to descend into the swirling vortex that is The Carchive.

The last volume that bobbed to the surface in this series was for the Alfa Romeo Arna, but prior to that it was the turn of the VW Corrado. Today we’re going a bit further back in that car’s lineage to the Wolsburg machine which turned out to be Genesis for a long line of celebrated ‘dubs. It’s the Mk 1 Golf.

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A Honda Zoomer….. from 1921? The ČAS Sc.

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The Honda Zoomer, available since 2002 on the Japanese and American market, is recognised by several people I’ve met as an iconic piece of micro-scooter design. I happen to agree with them. Its stripped-down form and the way its vital structural members are laid bare for all to see makes for a refreshingly different take on the oft-cliche’d scooter convention. It’s an expression of High-Tech Architecture on two-wheels.

So, when working my way along the crowded line of motorcycles on permanent exhibition at the National Technical Museum in Prague, I was quite taken aback to see this machine for the first time. It appears to be everything the Honda Zoomer is, yet was built some eighty-one years earlier. It being two-wheel Tuesday, take a closer look after the jump.

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V.I.S.I.T: Czech street scene- Automobily Prahy.

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I’d been looking forward to this trip for ages. There were a number of gravities which pulled us towards the Czech capital; not least the fascinating history that the country has built up having been directed under a number of regimes during the last century. The architecture, too, promised (and delivered) a rich blend of renaissance, gothic, cubist, art-nouveau and brutalist styles to gawp at. Beer too, is in abundance and very cheap.

Of course, I had my camera on standby in case I encountered anything wheeled that was notable. Judge my results for yourself with the photoflood after the jump.

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The Surprising State Ride of Czech President Václav Havel.

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Striving for social status in life can bring many rewards. My 33 years on the planet have seen me ascend to ownership of a 1997 Rover 825si (which I try not to mention too often in case I’m seen as arrogant or aloof). Jeff Glucker, my elder (and better) has a Bugatti EB110 and a fleet of GM EV-1s scattered around the world (and you thought they’d been destroyed….).

But what happens when you suddenly find yourself elected president of a former Communist-controlled land? Czechoslovakia at the end of the ’80s was a country rich with engineering talent, so creating a car fit for a President wouldn’t be a significant challenge. So, after his election after the Velvet Revolution of late 1989, what did Václav Havel drive?

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BMW i3 and i3 Range Extender: Existential Review

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Have you ever wondered how arts reviewers manage to get away with saying what they do? Every time I pick up one of the London newspapers I spend time reviewing the reviews section, purely because I’m fascinated by opinion. What on Earth gives a person, particularly a non-artist, the right to judge on “how good” a new art installation, performance or recording is? Who’s to say that one idea is any more valid than another?

Of course, cars are a lot less subjective than art. For anybody who has ever taken an interest in driving it should be painfully obvious when a car fails, wholly or in part, to do its job competently. Or indeed when it excels. But sometimes the line between car and art becomes blurred. The BMW i3 has come along and established itself in a hitherto unoccupied slot in the vehicle-roadspace continuum. It’s a new idea, and I found it kind of tricky to get my head around.

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World Of Top Gear:- The Best World…..in the World?

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What exactly might one expect to see or experience in the World Of Top Gear? Well, it should be staged on a huge budget and ought to involve dizzying numbers of exotic cars and recreations of lavish overseas locations. Explosions should be massive and frequent and perilous situations should present themselves regularly. A sense of fun should pervade, and every visitor should be granted the opportunity to participate in peculiar, arcane challenges. Perhaps animatronic effigies of Hammond, May and Clarkson could patrol, issuing choice soundbites possibly ending with “Power!”. As long as humour, horseplay and horsepower are all represented, the possibilities are endless.

Actually, in a manner entirely fitting with the ever-so-slightly shambolic nature of things that happen on the 8PM Sunday stalwart, World Of Top Gear is basically a big shed with a load of old cars in it. But hey, we all enjoyed this stuff on the small screen, so why not take a gawp at them in the flesh? Take the jump for a tour of the embodiment of “ambitious but rubbish”. How hard can it be?

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Weekend at Beaulieu Finale; The Motherlode

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My coverage of the Beaulieu Autojumble left me with so many millions of hastily shit shot images that filleting them into sensible portions for visual consumption has been a major, and long winded undertaking.

Well, this is it. The end, finally. Click over the jump for a final outsplurge featuring some of the notables that I’m simply never going to get around to writing about, or that are of such extreme minority interest that it wouldn’t be worth it anyway.

Spoiler: There’s a Rover 825 Coupé in there, you lucky, lucky people

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Weekend At Beaulieu: You Name It, We Got It.

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“How much for the one, badly corroded and horrifically, brutally deformed Lotus Eclat alloy?”
“That’s £110, mate”
“Hmm, that’s a bit rich, considering the condition. I was thinking more like £60”
“You’re having a laugh, mate. I can’t let that go for less than a ton”
“Look I’ll take it now for £70”

….and so it goes on for the next ten minutes. This conversation was occurring literally everywhere you walked. It’s an inevitable phenomenon at this kind of an event; the prices marked on items is arbitrary at best and haggling is the norm. But before the skilful negotiation can break out, you have to have the kind of stuff laid out on your stall that everybody wants. And to be completely honest, walking past hundreds of identical stalls covered in rusty obsolete parts I had a hard time telling the trash from the treasure.

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