Project Car SOTU UK Edition: Nothing to see here

Three cars belong to my household. There’s the Audi A4 1.8T, a car with a reputation for a serious appetite for suspension ball joints and ignition coilpacks. Then there’s a ’95 Peugeot 306, which has the multiple afflictions of being French, old and worthless. And pride of the fleet is our Rover 800, widely regarded among the lowest point of Rover’s recent history. Best of all – mine has the 2.5-litre K-Series V6 engine, renown for its sinister cambelt arrangement and hunger for head gaskets.

So, what litany of woes can I report in keeping this motley collection of automotive detritus?

Well, none. Sorry about that. A far more interesting article will be along in a little while.

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BMW Z4: Sampling the old in anticipation of the new

With an all-new Z4 under development as a collaboration between Toyota and BMW, it’s worth looking at where BMW’s sports roadster has come from before we welcome the future.

Once upon a time, BMW was very good at preserving its principles. The famously stubborn brand said it would “never produce a front-wheel drive car”, a promise first rescinded by using the MINI brand as a workaround, and the more brazenly with the MINI-base 2 Series Active Tourer. For a long while, there “would never be a turbocharged M car”, owing to the fear of corrupting throttle response sharpness – though that fear, it turn out, was later quashed by twin-blown engines in the most recent M3 and M5.

BMW also once strenuously denied they’d ever put a folding hard-top on a Z4. A sports car didn’t need one, they said. With the 3-Series they had held off from folding hardtops until they found a way of packaging one effectively without it ruining the weight distribution. They finally managed, but you have to assume that they worked some kind of witchcraft to fit one on the E89 Z4 without exchanging the original’s no-frills premium for no-thrills tedium.

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The Carchive: 1966 American Motors Marlin

After last week’s Rambler Classic, I thought we’d carry on the AMC theme for another week with a look at another Kenoshan creation.

While the Rambler brochure was gorgeously photographed and remarkably forward-thinking in terms of presentation, this is something else. Inexplicably, though clearly based on photographs, the illustrations have been meticulously produced in an archaic oil-painting effect. Weird. Yet kinda beguiling.

Welcome back to The Carchive.

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eBay finds: A Ford Transit camper with a spring in its step.

Unlike North America, we never really went a bundle on the whole dayvan thing. Rather than five captains chairs, ankle-deep carpet and a quadraphonic sound system, we were more likely to fit our panel vans out with several hundred pounds of flimsy MDF cabinetry and a Porta Potti.

Our Ford Transit wasn’t hugely different in size to the American Econoline, but were rather less well endowed under the bonnet. Even thought some camper conversions were fairly plush inside, there was no escaping their commercial roots and their engines were intended for economy and ruggedness, rather than power and refinement. However, this eBay find is one Transit camper I can get behind, without fear of getting stuck behind.

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Thrill Ride: Highs and lows in a 2009 Honda S2000

Chris Haining July 24, 2017 Featured, Reviews

Honda’s famous S2000 won’t fail to give you a good time, but by God does it make you work for it.

I’m not easily embarrassed. I can’t afford to be, really – my height, Sideshow Bob feet, stupid hair and laughable fashion sense combined with my propensity for making stupid jokes make being thick skinned an essential defence mechanism. As a result, I can do things that are quite phenomenally idiotic because I don’t fear looking a complete fool. Usually.

On this unusually glorious summer day, I am in the company of a svelte, trim Honda S2000 roadster on a supermarket fuel forecourt, but instead of enjoying all the envious glances I wish the ground would swallow me up. For all my experience driving the good, bad and ugly, never before have I so comprehensively failed to open a fuel filler cap.

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The Carchive: 1966 American Motors Rambler Classic

We’ve been living in the past this last couple of fridays, and I reckon we ought to stay there for a little while. A fortnight back we were in 1966 to see what Buick was up to, last week we were giving Dodge a chance to impress us with the ’62 Dart. This week, it’s back to ’66 for a visit to Kenosha, WI, to hang out with AMC.

This brochure is for the last year of the Rambler Classic, which had been in production from ’61. Let’s see if it can be as exciting as the front cover promises. Welcome back to The Carchive.

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V.I.S.I.T: A UK-spec ’99 Cadillac Seville STS

I had reason to visit our local out-of-town retail park on Saturday, and the big parking lot at its core is usually home to at least something worthy of note. I was sorely disappointed at first, and my camera remained firmly enpocketed. However, when I emerged from the store and strolled back to my car, the most interesting car for miles around had chosen to park directly next to me.

All you guys across the pond to the West will wonder what all the fuss is about, but the Cadillac STS was a damned rare car in the UK when it was new. Today, it’s borderline extinct.

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The Carchive: 1962 Dodge

Last week, we all agreed that the 1966 Buick range was rather more interesting than its 51-year-on successor. This time, we’re heading back a little further, to see what Dodge had to offer us in 1962.

This brochure, presumably issued as a supplement to a magazine at the time, is among the most gratifyingly wordy of all those in The Carchive. It reads as a treatise of just what the “New lean breed of Dodge” was made of.

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The road to success is paved with high-class scrap.

My wife and I are ‘in training’ for a 75-mile walk later in the year, and we’ve been putting in some shorter stints to ease our way into things. Saturday saw us put in 20 miles, which is easy enough if there’s a pint of real ale available en route. Having a few interesting sights along the way also helps stave off tedium.

The ample cornfields in my neck of the woods do get repetitive, but agricultural premises can be verdant with abandoned iron. It was parked outside a stable block that I encountered this fallen German steed. I’m not sure when I last saw an E32 750iL on the road, and it’s not unreasonable to imagine that this example shared its fate with many others.

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The Carchive: Buick in 1966

Not every volume protected in the dank recesses of The Carchive is in the best possible condition. The truth is that certain documents of note would be worth far too much to be owned by the likes of me if they were as crisp and glossy as when they were new.

I don’t so much care about an immaculate front page, though. It’s the wealth of vintage imagery and information inside that counts, and never was that more the case than with this 1966 Buick line-up catalogue.

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