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The Carchive: The GKN Lotus Europa V8 (GKN47D)

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For this week’s visit to The Carchive we venture into one of many small chambers which are subsidiary to the main cave network, the furthest you can go without potholing. This is where I keep all those automotive artefacts which fit into the category of “specialist” which is another word for “miscellaneous”.

Everybody knows The Lotus Europa, the first of the mid-engined Lotus coupé’s  and variously built with Renault or Ford four cylinder engines. Of course, it was inevitable that somebody would take the initiative to install a bigger, more powerful engine at some point, and many Europas have been butchered by have-a-go heretics over time. However, there was one organisation who managed to double the cylinder count of the Europa, and did it properly.

Yes, this was what GKN did in 1968 to prove that they knew a thing or three about cars.

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A Four Grand Fantasy Frenzy in ’93

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It’s one of life’s little pleasures, probably enjoyed less often now that everything happens in the virtual world (taking your laptop into the bathroom is a bit…. eww). I’m talking about spending a little time in the smallest room while idly flicking through a local Ads paper, daydreaming about snapping up one of the many bargains right there in your lap. Fun to do, even more entertaining when you’re in another country reading about cars which are almost impossibly exotic to you, despite their low, low fiscal value.

When I first visited the USA as a twelve year old my knowledge of American cars up to then was based solely on the rare occasions that Car magazine tested something from the other side of the Atlantic, or perhaps when I’ve found a copy of Car and Driver during a visit to one of my the local USAF bases. As soon as our Delta L1011 touched down at Orlando International I realised that I actually recognised precious few of the cars I was surrounded by. I felt genuinely ashamed of myself.

So, to resolve this, the first time my Dad stopped at Citgo to fuel our Alamo Lumina, I seized the chance to pick up the local Autotrader and start putting names to the shapes. Twenty four years later, let’s take a look back at the rich variety of machinery I feasted my eyes upon that exciting evening in August ’93.

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Diecast Delights: A 1975 Peugeot 504 in 1:18 Scale

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Now here’s a car which ought to appeal to Hoons on either side of the Atlantic. Indeed, one which is probably somehow more revered in the USA than it is in the UK.

The Peugeot 504 is one of the more iconic shapes ever to have emerged from the nominally dull-as-dishwater category of “ordinary family sedan”, although that would probably be to undersell it somewhat. Plaudits rained down on the 504 from launch in ’68 right up to now, and with have been as important to the development of Africa as the Industrial Revolution was to the development of England, the Peugeot isn’t in danger of being culturally forgotten any time soon.

Still, having a 1:18 copy handy for safe keeping won’t do anybody any harm.

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Hardcore In The Metal: Anytec 747 Cab.

Chris Haining February 1, 2016 Motorboat Monday

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I love it when I buy a product and I know exactly what has gone into its creation. I love it when I look at a piece of furniture and find more to it than immediately meets the eye- when you remove a drawer and find beautiful dovejoints on the carcass, or when you dismantle an amplifier and find immaculately hand-soldered components and a neat, well-conceived layout.

I also love honesty in design. I love when the inner workings are expressed as a vital part of the whole. I admire when the oily bits are seen as important as the shiny bits. At the recent London Boat Show I was delighted to come face to face with a boat which very definitely wears its heart on its sleeve, while offering welcome relief from white fibreglass that dominated the show.

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The Carchive: The Asia Rocsta.

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Time for our weekly trawl through the filthsome deposits at the bottom of the swamp of motoring history. Put on your drysuit and plug your nostrils, it’s The Carchive and we’re going in.

From last week’s Volvo we’re heading forward in time to the mid ’90s, but diverting to the Pacific Rim, as we check out the South Korean car that R Kelly and Kid Rock had in mind when they sang “I’m a Rocsta, baby”.

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One Small Argument In Favour Of Autonomous Cars. But Only A Bit.

Chris Haining January 27, 2016 All Things Hoon

I find the idea of my car driving itself fairly repellent. I love driving. I love the sensation through the controls and how the car responds to my inputs, and I love being actively involved in the decision making process.

The arguments against autonomous cars are many and varied, however, after yet again being stuck in traffic on a local major road this morning, I’m reminded of one of the major points which are pro driver-less cars. Put simply; there are far too many crappy drivers out there who ought to have their decision making rights revoked.

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Retro Heaven on the A127

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Just outside Basildon, on the A127 arterial road linking London with the coast, there sits a pub and roadside eatery which, it feels, hasn’t really changed since the early Eighties. This made it the perfect venue for a weekend meeting of the South-Eastern chapter of the UK’s notorious group of aficionados of The Worthless Car. Autoshite, as it’s otherwise known.

When you spend a lot of your time exchanging views with other people digitally, it’s nice to occasionally interface with blood and flesh and put faces to the internet psuedonyms. This last Sunday I seized the opportunity to mingle and bask in the glory of the inglorious.

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Diecast Delights: An Opel Ascona (B) i2000

IMAG4499As has been mentioned here before, my favourite 1:18 models tend to be of ordinary, everyday cars, albeit those which no longer feature on the road prominently enough to still be in the collective conscious of the general public.

A case in point is the second generation Opel Ascona, a car which, seemingly bizarre in hindsight, was sold alongside its Vauxhall Cavalier sister on the UK market for a good few years towards the end of the ’70s. In a parking lot the bluff-fronted Ascona looked oddly distinctive beside the shovel-nosed Cavalier; which wore the nose of the Opel Manta, which was also based on this platform. Confused? So were GM.

Anyway, here’s Opel Ascona (B), the limited edition i2000 model, in 1:18 scale.

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Project 31: Genius Rekindled after 50 Years.

Chris Haining January 25, 2016 Motorboat Monday

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There once was a company named Marine Projects, who started to produce boats in their Plymouth, Devon yard in 1965. The first craft they marketed was a round-bilged motor yacht, sharing its well-proven hull mouldings of the Senior 31. Their version was marketed as the Project 31, and was successful enough to catapult Marine Projects into the limelight. Three years later, they launched their Princess 32, and a world renown trademark was born.

50 years after that Project 31 first touched the water, Princess have a range of yachts running way beyond 100ft overall. But what better way of celebrating a half-century than by looking back at where they came from? To that end, Princess bought back one of their old Project 31s and gave it a thorough makeover.

And in doing so, created a boat that they really ought to put in their range portfolio.

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The Carchive: The ’79 Volvo 260 Range

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As we put another tiring, prickly week behind us, let’s take a quick break from all that is new and surprising in the world and relax with something old and familar. Join me  as I squint at today’s ever so slightly out of focus document from The Carchive.

After last week’s look at a Triumph of British engineering, we’re heading across the North Sea and making land in Sweden, with a printed look at 1979’s Volvo 260 range.

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