V.I.S.I.T: 1963 Daimler V8 250

Two Daimler-badged cars were ever offered that offered the exquisite, turbine-like power of Edward Turner’s jewel-like small V8 engine. The first was a befinned,  plastic-bodied atrocity with a guppy mouth and propensity for cracking in early models. It was the Daimler SP250 (nee Dart) – and I rather like it, of course.

The second was eminently more sensible and a good deal classier, too. It was the Daimler V8 250 saloon, and one Saturday morning, as I sat by the river’s edge enjoying coffee, croissants and Arthur C Clarke, I was joined by this pristine red example.

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The Carchive: The 2007 Japanese Motor Vehicle Guidebook

Among the several documents that make up The Carchive, the Japanese Domestic Market volumes are among those that I revisit the most often. It all comes down to the ‘forbidden fruit’ nature of so many Far Eastern cars – just like even the most prosaic of North American cars, you just don’t see them on British roads.

I took myself out to Japan a decade ago for the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show and, needless to say, ended up comfortably exceeding my Cathay Pacific baggage allowance on the way home, having amassed a handsome assortment of JDM brochures. In addition to those, I invested ¥1,200 on this, the 420-page 2007 Japanese Motor Vehicles Guidebook, and it’s one of my favourite publications of all time.

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Fighting Obscelescence as a Grumpy Old Man

This coming weekend I will become 36 years old, distressingly sweeping me into the ‘late’ thirties bracket – an age that I remember my parents being just five minutes or so ago. While I know that many of you have a good few years on me, and that I still fall into the ‘what does a young buck like him know about anything’ category for some, I still know how it feels to watch far younger folk snapping at my heels and stealing a march on me when it comes to progress.

Progress. Moving on. Developing. I love to do it, I love to see it. But in so, so many ways, I hate to experience it. I’ve just bought a new DSLR – after eleven years and 28,597 shutter actuations I felt it was time to upgrade from a 6.1 megapixel Nikon D50 to something only a few years out of date, and as soon as it came out of its crisp new box I was already finding things I don’t like about my new D5300. Buyer’s remorse immediately hit me, and I was starkly reminded of the sacrifices I’ll be forced to make if I ever have to buy a new car.

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SO, do we actually want Automotive Autonomy?

Autonomous cars are gradually lurching closer to being a reality. Pretty soon kind of cars that mortal man can dare to aspire to will soon have an automatic pilot that runs beyond a simple cruise control. But what do you – the folk who will be sharing your roads with robots – really think?

Personally, despite my slightly dystopian outlook a year ago, I’m all for it. So long as I have the choice to drive my car how I like, when I like, if I like, it matters not one jot if it’s endowed with layers of NASA-grade technology. As autonomy reaches Level Three capability and beyond, though, one point intrigues me:

How many drivers will actually use it as it’s intended before it becomes mandatory?

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V.I.S.I.T: A ’79 Chevy Van in Woodbridge, Suffolk

The Chevy Van was one of those machines which was so numerous on North American roads as to blend in with the visual white noise of street furniture and roadside ephemera. No doubt it will become increasingly sought after as good examples become scarce, but I don’t suspect the supplies are due to dry up any day soon.

Examples in the UK, though, are few and far between, and tend to be rather well looked after. This is clearly true of the this superb bronze ’79 example seen in the well-to-do riverside town of Woodbridge in Suffolk, UK

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Peugeot Oxia Concept: Like reality, only better

I’ve always thought that the best concept cars are those that feel like they’re only a few degrees separated from real life. As if the car you’re looking at comes from some parallel now on some much cooler planet. One such car was the Peugeot Oxia concept of 1988.

One of my favourite years, ’88. Some of the best disposable pop music of all time (I loved Debbie Gibson when I was seven, and Voice of the Beehive and our own Transvision Vamp had the same appeal for my Dad, I’m sure), and it was also the year the Oxia was released at the Paris Auto Show, looking for all the world like the Peugeot 405 would if normal non supercars had never been invented.

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The Carchive: The European Ford Fusion

Sometimes a car brochure will positively sweat with pro-lifestyle excess, while others simply play things straight down the line. The best brochures will give you an accurate description of the conveyance they represent, the worst will leave almost everything to your imagination and force you to carry out your own research.

The most fascinating, though, are those which point to a car manufacturer not having the faintest idea what to do with one of its products. A case in point is the European Ford Fusion – a very different car to the comfy family sedan of that name that clogs the streets of North America

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Vauxhall SRV: State of the dart in 1970

The Vauxhall XVR concept actually had its feet bound firmly to 1965, despite styling that couldn’t look any more outlandish if you ate your own body weight of LSD and looked at it after spinning around really fast.

One of the names associated with its very existence was one Wayne Cherry, who went on to style a great many General Motors products – his overseeing the Vauxhall Astra GTE being of particular note. His concept game wasn’t over after the XVR, either. Witness the Vauxhall SRV of 1970 – a car which ventured far, far beyond the relative sanity of the XVR.

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Vauxhall XVR: The Little Vette that Wasn’t

This is a Vauxhall. You know, the famous French British arm of General Motors. Though it’s cars have been – badges and steering wheel side aside – virtually identical since the early ‘Eighties, there was a time when the the Griffin-badged company was fiercely independent.

Its cars may not always have been the most exciting on the road, but every now and again the Luton company would let its hair down and come up with something other than the humdrum family saloons that made  its bread and butter. And there’s no better example of this than the XVR concept of 1966. Remind you of anything?

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Prolonging the joy: Driving Anticipation

Wanderlust has got a tight grip on The Towers of Rust right now – my wife and I have got ourselves a minibreak booked in Slovenia in May. It’s all thanks to one of those last minute holiday websites. The last trip we went on, which took in Prague, Vienna and Budapest was organised in just such a way, and it took us quickly, effortlessly and oh so cheaply by rail between those great cities. This time its different.

This time, our package includes a rental car.

Exactly what it will be remains something of a mystery – and I don’t really care. In Iceland I ended up with an Opel Corsa automatic, and the incredible roads more than made up for the lukewarm conveyance. I’m kind of hoping the same will happen again. To say I’m looking forward to it is an understatement. I’ve even gone as far as buying a road atlas of Slovenia.

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