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Die-Cast Delights: A Renault 5 Turbo in 1:18 Scale

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Some people follow themes in their diecast car collections. Some folk own a model of everything ever in the entire Ferrari back catalogue. Some folk collect exclusively silver models, and there are, of course, motorsport fanatics who use their collection to demonstrate their allegiance to a given team or driver.

Me? I collect stuff I think is awesome. That’s all. And what’s more awesome than a tiny shopping hatchback transformed into a fire-breathing Group-B rally monster? The answer I’m looking for is “very little”.

It’s the Renault 5 Turbo.

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Seeing Red: A Tail-Lamp Design Rant

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When a car first finds itself being dreamily outlined on a piece of designer’s layout paper, it will inevitably begin life as a series of swoopy lines. The general aesthetic concept will go through a whole series of disposable sketch stages before one of them is thumb-upped for further evolution. A long way down the line some engineering-type folk will set about converting that flight of fancy into something which can actually be produced.

Sometimes it’s easy see where the final build has had to be “fudged” a bit to comply with the stylists imaginings. A prime example can be found in the front and rear light units on a car, which are often contrived to be a certain shape whether there’s any legitimate justification for it or not.

Being able to see where this has happened has become my new design pet hate.

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Flatulence Meets Rapid Transit

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It’s one of those stories that local prime-time TV news presenters absolutely love, because it allows them to use words like “Poo” and “Farts”, causing much giggling among infant viewers. It’s also just about awesome enough to warrant coverage here.

CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) powered buses are nothing even remotely new, but over the years alternatives have been sought for that dinosaur gas. One source currently finding favour is total bullshit. It’s BioMethane, distilled from essence of cow excreta and general farm waste. The entire process is claimed to be carbon neutral, but frankly none of the above is headline stuff, is it? The awesome bit comes from how its operator, Reading Buses of Hampshire, UK, have chosen to publicise their fleet of 34 BioMethane buses.

By setting a Service Bus Land Speed Record.

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Diecast Delights: Lotus Elise 111S in 1/18 Scale

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You know, collecting diecast models is a peculiar hobby that everybody goes about in different ways. There are dozens of forums out there devoted to it, but a common theme is people fawning over the latest releases by companies like Exoto, Spark and CMC. These models are often made in extremely limited numbers, and the first person to flex their chequebook wins. The thing is, is this really collecting, or is it just shopping? And does it even matter?

With neither of my daily drivers being worth much more than £500, I have neither the funds nor the stomach to pump several hundred quid at a time into buying toys. Besides which, models at the high end of the industry are like jewellery, and end up being displayed in a similar way. It can end up being more about the model itself than the actual car it represents. For me the car is paramount, and if 85% of the detail can be bought for 15% of the price, then I’m all for it.

Hence this Lotus Elise now appearing in my collection after an eBay bidding war in which my maximum bid was £20.

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The Carchive: The Vanden Plas 1500

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It’s high time we busted out our cagoules and oilskins, left the warmth and cosiness of today’s automotive scene, and exposed ourself to the stormy doldrums of motoring past.

Welcome back to The Carchive.

On our last visit we admired the marvellous if short lived Caterham 21, and we saw that it was good. Today we gasp in awe at the equally British Vanden Plas 1500, and can see that it’s, well, An Allegro.

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Motorways, Bridges, Graffiti and Peas?

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The M25 basks in the daily blast-furnace of London weather, a ribbon of miserable blacktop encrusted with tin boxes containing automatons shuttling endlessly to and fro of whatever workaday duties require their presence. Great Britain’s premier orbital highway is, in so many ways, a very humdrum place to be.

Apart from when you’re passing Gerrards Cross, travelling clockwise. You’ll pass under this bridge which is pretty much the ONLY thing on the M25 that can come close to putting a smile on your face. Even if you’re stuck under it, for hours, again, because of a lorry fire. This work of a very determined graffiti artist has developed and endured over time.

It all started with Peas.

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Project Car SOTU: Project Audinary ON THE ROAD! (For Now)

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Last time we spoke I was, well, probably doing everything entirely the wrong way. The front end was all off, the cambelt tensioner had de-tensioned itself in a fairly spectacular way, and some umming and ahh-ing was going down, accompanied by mammoth quantities of tea and swearing.

And to be honest it carried on like that, including various attempts by the parts suppliers to actually furnish me with the CORRECT bits, until suddenly the stars aligned and Project Audinary burst into life once again. Click the jump for all the gory details.

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The Carchive Special Edition: Ferrari 456M

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While I usually mine The Carchive for the old, the unusual or the downright inexcusable, because today is my birthday I’m going for a completely self-indulgent choice, just like I did this time last year with the Maserati Quattroporte Evoluzione.

The Ferrari 456 is miles off the Hooniverse radar, really. In terms of significance to the marque the 456 is unlikely to go down in history as an outright classic, it was never a track-day superhero nor was it an in-your-face stylistic exhibitionist like the Testarossa or the Berlinetta Boxer.

Despite this, and in some ways, the 456 is my second favourite car in history. Take the jump if you’re interested in why.

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Viva La Bedfordshire: It’s Another Old Vauxhall

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Yesterday we looked at a magnificently accessorised example of one of Vauxhall of Luton’s V-Bombers, the Victor estate. Today it’s the turn of that car’s little sister, the Viva, also appearing at Classics On The Quay, and again in that Hooniverse-friendly Longroof format.

The Viva was, I believe I’m right in saying, the very last car where Vauxhall were allowed to exercise their development muscle without being pressured to share their toys and play nice with Opel. Every subsequent car to wear the proud Griffon badge would have either some or most of its design in common with something from Germany.

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To The Victor Belongs The Spoilers.

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I was raised on a diet of Blue Ovals. Henry was our favourite uncle and he treated us well, and even if the family has grown distant from him over time, we’re still very fond of the way he does things. In contrast, we never really warmed to The General. He seemed a little stand-offish, and we never really related to him. Only now am I starting to realise what a talented guy he was, and how much great work he did.

Back in the early ’70s Vauxhall were still allowed to talk and think for themselves. General Motors still ruled them with a rod of iron and fists of steel, but the Griffon emblem was still proudly affixed to vehicles which, by and large, were all largely developed by the clever chaps in Luton. The Vauxhall Victor you see before you visited the recent Classics at the Quay show, and is completely and utterly magnificent.

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