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A Classic Car show British weather can’t ruin

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There are six long months to go until this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. No doubt the many local and regional car meets that naturally occur will fill some of the weekends in, but it would be nice if there could be a proper, full-scale event – one where highly tuned race behemoths can come to life – to punctuate our wait?

Well, turns out there is. The London Classic Car promises its own opportunities to watch motoring icons in action. There’s a central parade strip on which drivers can ‘open ‘er up’ to rapturous applause. And though the show may be in cold, drizzly February and not mid-summer, and may be set in a bleak urban environment rather than surrounded by some of the most invigorating scenery these isles have to offer. But it does have one considerable advantage –

It’s indoors.

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Motorboat Monday: A diminutive Fairey with a fair bit of urge

Chris Haining January 23, 2017 Motorboat Monday

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After last week’s shallow-draft scorcher from North America, today’s offering for Motorboat Monday comes from three thousand miles West, and could barely be more different in character than the V8-motivated Kindsvater.

It’s only fifteen feet long, and has a fraction of the power, but good things come in small packages. As with last week’s boat, today’s has been the subject of a painstaking restoration, and is a glorious example of a boat that has become rather rare.

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The Carchive: The 1987 Mercury Topaz

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It’s Friday night, and, oh… well, nobody’s going to be reading this, anyway. I could write absolutely anything on the inauguration day of a new US president; everybody will be out drinking vast quantities of alcohol either to celebrate or to try to forget. Not I, though. Your loyal servant is here when it matters, on hand to share pages from old car brochures. Welcome to The Carchive.

Today’s offering is appropriately American, but not necessarily a car that’s widely revered. Why? Well, it’s a 1987 Mercury Topaz, that’s why.

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Drown (out) your sorrows with Supercars.

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We don’t get political here at Hooniverse, but what we do do is offer somewhere to escape to when the world is heavy with grim omens. And what better form of escape is there for the octane-veined motive-power enthusiast than a field packed with glittering supercars?

The 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed was impeccably timed to coincide with the half-hour British summer, and wading through the sea of supercars was a distinctly upbeat moment (not spoilt at all by the fact that I had just been hurled up the hillclimb in an Aston Martin). After reaching the ‘top’, the Bugatti, Ferraris, Mclarens and many, many more assembled ready for the return trip. The video beyond the jump is what it looked, and sounded like.

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Craigslist find: TWO 1982 Cub Commuter microcars!

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About four-fifths through the previous Century, a category of car that had lain dormant for a while suddenly went through a renaissance. The microcar. There were many reasons that people should be tempted by a tiny, lightweight, basic car – cost savings to the driver, reduced environmental impact and the smug feeling of grabbing that hard-to-use last parking space.

We’ve all heard of the most popular microcars – the KV MINI naturally leaps to mind, but others are a little more obscure. If Mr Hollis Danley is in da house, smash him a high five for unearthing this buried gem from the vermont Craigslist. It’s a Cub Commuter. Of course it is.

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Motorboat Monday: 455Ci in a Kindsvater Jet Boat

Chris Haining January 16, 2017 Motorboat Monday

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455 Cubic Inches. Oldsmobile V8 power. In a boat which displaces so little it’s practically on the plane when it’s not moving.

This glorious machine was glinting away on the Classic Motor Boat Association stand at the 2017 London International Boat Show. And I’ll bet that, given an opportunity, it would have been one of the very loudest vessels on display, as well as one of the smallest.

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A Datsun 160J: When the tinworm loses its appetite

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Though it’s nowhere near as hostile as that of Iceland, the British climate is one that incubates tinworms to an extent that they will feverishly tuck into any metalwork that takes their fancy.

My forum moniker alludes to the fact that the pesky blighters evidently find the 1988 Rover 800 a particular delicacy, and will make any metalwork concealed by plastic panelling disappear in short order. And, while the rapid lessening of heavy steelwork will undoubtedly improve your acceleration times, waking up one morning to find that your car is growing smaller is a constant fear of the Rover owner.

But ‘eighties Rovers are low-fat compared to what tinworms liked to eat in the past. They may have found Thatcher-era Fords, Vauxhalls and Leyland products delicious, and really liked to chow down on an occasional non-galvanised Italian, but they enjoyed nothing more than a Japanese meal from the ’70s. All of this makes this immaculate ’79 Datsun 160J an improbable survivor.

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Not The Carchive: To finish on a bright note.

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It’s been a good day. I was going to fill the 15:00 slot with a visit to The Carchive, and I had photographed – and you’re gonna love this – a 1987 brochure for the Mercury Topaz. But one thing lead to another and I’ve run out of time to write it up. So lets finish up on something a bit different, and a whole lot more yellow.

Here’s a car that the world doesn’t tend to mention very often any more. It’s fallen off many radars, living firmly in the shadow of two more recent cars from the same Germano-French-Italian brand – as it would later become. It’s a bit of a favourite of mine.

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P66: The Forgotten Jensen

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Back before the great Intensedebate Apocolypse of 2014, I managed to find myself behind the wheel of one of the most spectacular cars ever to come out of Birmingham. Not an especially long list, admittedly, but a star-studded one. Nevertheless, the Jensen Interceptor was a British car with Italian style and American brute power – an intoxicating combination.

But what if Italy hadn’t got involved? With Britain now about to bid adieu to our European partnership once and for all, it’s interesting to look back at how the Interceptor might have developed if Jensen’s in-house stylist, Eric Neale’s suggestion had gone into production. This is the P66, the Interceptor that never did.

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Diecast Delights: The Audi Avus Concept

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Concept cars. As an impressionable kid the unveiling of new concept cars was always the highlight of my motor show trips. On any manufacturers stand these lurid flights of fancy would stand out from the massed ranks of more spacious superminis and cleaner-burning diesels, which, naturally, bored the shit out of me.

No, give me something in chrome, with crazy doors and a mountain of power, and all those earnest, practical conveyances are suddenly put in context. They represented where we were, the concepts would show us where we were going. But fast-forward a few decades and yesterday’s concepts become even more fascinating.

Like the original Metropolis; as channelled by Matt Groenings Futurama; yesterday’s vision of tomorrow is often way more exciting than what inevitably surfaces when its time comes. The Audi Avus concept was unveiled in an era before the TT and the R8; neither of which really owe all that much to the Avus, apart perhaps from its spirit. It was Audi’s tangible sci-fi vision of a future supercar, before later concepts came to define the design language that would soon ensure that every Ingolstadt product seems uncomfortably familiar. The Avus presents such a fascinating parallel to the present that I just had to add it to my diecast collection.

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