The Carchive: 1993 Mercury Capri


It’s time once again to hand crank the engine of time for a slow cruise along the avenues of history. Welcome back to The Carchive.

As the winter grows progressively more bleak, what better than to think back to the summer. A time to feel the heat and the wind against your skin, and bask in the admiring glances you get when you’re topless in traffic.

Today we’re heading back to ’93 and looking at Ford’s Australian roofless wonder, the Capri.

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Diecast Delights: An ’89 911 Speedster in 1:18 scale.


I’ve never been bothered by the Star-Wars franchise. I’ve never been a fan of Bon Jovi. That film, and that band, are among the most followed and most popular of their respective genres, drawing in huge crowds whenever a new episode or a new album is released. The thing is, to me, every Star Wars film and every Bon Jovi album is just another one just like the last.

Of course; I’m an uneducated oaf. No doubt if somebody tied me to a chair and held my eyelids and ears open Clockwork Orange style, I could learn how to appreciate both of them. Which brings me to the Porsche 911. I’ve never really got the 911. I appreciate what it is, and what it does, but I’ve just never felt any great lust for it. I’m sure, though, if I owned one things would be different. And if I was to choose one, it would probably be the one you see before you, only about eighteen times as big.

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The Carchive: The 1984 Daimler Lineup


Sitting as I am peering through steam misted glass at a ceaseless slow rain, and mourning a sun which I’ve not glimpsed so far this month, I need something to perk me up and stoke my fire of enthusiasm once again. What better than a quick trip into The Carchive?

Last week we rather overdid it on Grey Poupon as we contemplated buying a Rolls-Royce in the early ’80s. Today we’re sticking with the decade, but twisting on the brand. For those who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) buy a Roller, there was always Daimler.

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eBay Find: Not Your Regular Ford Sierra 1.6

Chris Haining November 18, 2015 eBay Insanity, For Sale


Ah, the Ford Sierra. The controversial-at-first, aero-styled successor to the three-box Cortina. Arctic Circle correspondent Antti has one. Everybody should. It’s been a firm favourite of mine for years, no doubt thanks to years spent riding shotgun in Dad’s ’83 2.0 Ghia, with its impossibly plush velour, severely polished wood on the doors, “Graphic Information Module” and joystick for speaker balance and fade. I loved that car.

Sierras are a dying breed, these days. Huge swathes of the Sierra population were cut down in their prime in the late ’90s, chopped up as drivetrain donors for kit-car projects of various qualities. Only the very best, and most interesting, survive. One thing that separates the UK from the rest of Europe is that the three-door version was only ever sold here in two flavours; stripped bare economy or full house RS Cosworth (barring the XR4i with its different side pressings). An awful lot of the former were, over the years, transformed into replicas of the latter, often very, very badly.

This one, though, is rather more interesting than that.

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Automobile Modernisation: Knowing When To Stop

Chris Haining November 17, 2015 Diss-ign, Goodwood


Classic cars are lovely. They’re great to look at, entertaining to drive and evocative to smell. They’re also, almost universally, a pain in the arse to live with. There are various factors, all working together as a malevolent force, lurking in the background to strike at any time and ruin your enjoyment.

Unreliability, for starters, comes as a consequence of age. Anything will naturally degrade over time and so seals will become porous, metal will corrode and whole Lucas wiring looms will turn to dust or spontaneously combust. Maintenance simply has to be kept on top of, else you’ll suffer the worst of all consequences- guilt. This is the feeling of owning a once cherished, original classic, and being responsible for its downfall. Restoration is a terrifying prospect; a black hole capable of absorbing any money, time or relationships that aren’t nailed down.

Often, modernisation is chosen instead of restoration. If originality isn’t paramount, optimization is often a better bet. Sometimes it’s done with reckless abandon, so the original identity of the car is lost after far too much cosmetic surgery. Sometimes, though, a modernisation is carried out with beautifully measured subtlety. It’s all a question of knowing when to stop.

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Diecast Delights: An LTi TX1 London Taxi in 1:18 Scale


Recently this strand has dealt with the super-exotic as well as the super-attainable (if you’re in Europe) but we’ve barely touched on the “I’m stuck outside a busy venue and a little bit drunk, and I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to get home”. Until now.

The shape of the “black cab” has morphed over the years, but during the ’90s it became routine for examples to not actually be black at all. The bluff sides of the cab had been seen for its potential as advertising space years ago, and with advancements in vinyl wrapping technology came the opportunity for taxis to wear all manner of temporary liveries. One of the most famous to appear was an advertising campaign for Marmite, celebrating the centenary of their tar-like toast-borne yeast extract. And as a lifelong advocate of said substance, about twelve years ago I just had to buy a model depicting it.

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The Carchive: The Rolls-Royce Corniche


Ask your butler to take messages for a while, retire to your library, open the drinks globe and pour yourself a Speyside. The mundanities of life can be put on hold for a spell, for it’s time for a trip into The Carchive.

Having left 1976 Germany We’re back in Blighty for a spell and taking a trip to Crewe in 1982. When we arrive we’ll be asked to remove our shoes and empty our pockets of any sharp implements, don an overall with no zips or fasteners and carefully make our way onto the spotless factory floor where, with glacial sloth, a Rolls Royce Corniche is being crafted.

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Old News is Good News, So Let’s Sell The Past

Chris Haining November 12, 2015 All Things Hoon


It occurred to me the other day. I was watching an old episode of Top Gear from ten years ago or so, the episode where Jeremy Clarkson drives a 612 Scaglietti to Verbier in Switzerland, racing against Hamster and Capt. Slow who went by ‘plane. It’s stored on my hard drive, on hand to entertain me if ever I find myself in a cultural drought, automotively speaking. In fact, BBC are still trotting out re-runs of Top Gear and presumably will until the end of time, or they’re told not to. Of course, there’s nothing in any of the episodes we haven’t seen before.

This brings me to magazines. I don’t tend to buy magazines in the stores very often, and the reason for that is that, for me, new magazines have been largely replaced with old magazines. Previously, when heading off on a journey or a vacation I would usually pick up a substantial magazine such as “CAR” at the airport and read it en route.

Recently, though, I’ve been planning ahead and instead go on eBay and pick up a “CAR” from some random date in the ’80s instead. Take the jump to see why.

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Diecast Delights: A Ford StreetKa in 1:18


Last week we took a look at a McLaren F1, a car which still arguably stands as the reference point against which all supercars are judged. It’s a lovely model of an amazing car, but not necessarily an especially relevant one.

Truthfully, supercars and hypercars only exist in my collection for reasons of their historical significance and, in some cases, their beauty. I actually have more interest in models of cars which are actually relevant in day-to-day life. Fortunately, diecast manufacturers have realised that there’s a market for models of everyday cars as well as cost-no-object wondermobiles. Today we look at a model of Ford’s short-lived roadster, the StreetKa.

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Craigslist Find: A 1982 Austin Allegro…. In Seattle!


A problem shared is a problem halved. Every morning the citizens of Great Britain wake to greet another drizzly, congested day, just as drizzly and congested as the last one. We bear an awful lot of weight on our shoulders,  our chequered and violent history with its rapid empire downscaling, our recent international sporting inadequacies and, who can forget, our notorious dental failings. But there is one terrible footnote in British history which gives us dull feelings in the pits of our stomachs, and is only mentioned in hushed tones. The Austin Allegro.

Up until now I thought the Allegro was a plague which only affected us and a few patches of mainland Europe whose defences were obviously lacking. But no. It appears that there’s one in Seattle (which I thought was a Metro and Maestro only zone). And it’s for sale!

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