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Delicate sound of thunder: Nick Mason’s Ferrari 512 BB/LM

Yes, that Nick Mason. The man clearly can’t get enough noise in his life. After banging things with sticks for over four decades in epoch-defining kaleidoscopic rock outfit Pink Floyd, he became the lynchpin of “Ten tenths”, a business specializing in supplying the media with some of history’s most iconic and expensive cars.

As quoted on Ten Tenths’ website, the concept of the business is “akin to sending one’s children out to work”. And that pretty much sums it up. Nick Mason holds the keys to a huge array of exotic cars, and why not make them work for a living? This Ferrari 512 BB / LM is a case in point. Not one of the world’s most sought after machines, and with only a modest competition career to its name, this Prancing Horse receives only the right amount of mollycoddling.

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This is the 2017 Goodwood Festival of Speed

“Hot oil and thunder,
Sound and scent vie to overwhelm
Your senses. It’s Goodwood.”

An inverted racing car held aloft by sinuous metal tentacles can only mean one thing. It’s that glorious weekend, where the Sussex Downs echo to the sound of vintage motorsport weapons and high-dollar showroom icons alike. The Goodwood Festival of Speed is undoubtedly the foremost celebration of The Car to be held anywhere in Britain, and not a great many events can trump it anywhere in the world.

The Festival of speed is presented on such a colossal scale that it’s near impossible to catch everything that’s going on, but even a flavour of this weekend’s sights, sounds and smells is worth documenting. For the next two days, Hooniverse will be doing everything it can to recreate the experience in your living room.

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The Carchive: The 1978 Mazda 323

Think back to a simpler time. A time when the North America was resting between fuel crises, and Japanese imports had really captured the imagination of an increasingly value savvy and reliability-hungry buying public. It was also an era before lifestyle didn’t mean quite what it does now.

A look at Mazda’s car range today has the perky, zingy fun-size MX-5 at one end, and the upscale, rakishly contoured CX-7 at the other. Neither of these thoroughly modern offerings sell purely to folk who ‘need a car’, but that’s exactly what this sealed-beam marvel was in 1978. It’s the Mazda 323.

Welcome back to The Carchive

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Hooniverse Asks: What now for the rev-counter?

I drove my wife’s 306 this weekend, its instrument cluster is poorly photographed above and houses a speedo marked to a wildly ambitious 120 mph, and the biggest analogue clock you ever saw. Despite the lack of a tachometer, I found myself driving it the exact same way as either of my rev-counter equipped cars. To be honest, I never understood why – in European cars at least – a rev-counter was once seen as a luxury item. You had to choose something other than the entry-level model to earn one. On many North American cars in the ’90s and beyond, a tacho often came as part of a ‘Gage Pack’, that might be ordered for its perceived ‘sportiness’.

Unless you’re driving to the extreme, a tacho is nice, but not essential to have – unless you’re in some weird-sounding car where it’s hard to judge revs by ear. I suspect that, with automatic gearboxes left in full auto for most of the time, its use as an essential driving tool is becoming less and less relevant. And now, with user configurable dashboard displays, I suspect many drivers might prefer their instrument panel real-estate to be occupied by something else. Finally, as hybrid and full-electric cars grow ever more dominant, the rev-counter could become totally redundant, with fewer folk shedding tears than you might think.

So, if it has to go, what new instrument ought we see appearing in its place?

[Image: By Me.]

The Carchive: The Lancia Y10

From last week’s look at the Mazda 626, a car that had buyers both sides of the Atlantic abandoning domestic rivals in droves, we turn our attentions to a car that, as far as I know, was never sold Stateside in any official capacity.

It was an interesting car, an interesting design and an interesting premise. Using engineering shared by the utilitarian yet loveable Fiat Panda, the Lancia (née Autobianchi) Y10 was intended to offer all the benefits of a tiny car, with much of the luxury of a far larger one. That was the idea, anyway.

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In Search of Involvement: Finding it in blow-up form

Chris Haining June 19, 2017 Roadwork

Always on the quest for new and exciting experiences, my wife and I have just got into wearing neoprene and playing with rubber. With designs on seeing familiar things from a unique and dangerous perspective, we’ve taken up kayaking.

I’ve never previously been much involved in watersports – in the kind of aquatic pursuits I enjoy the most, getting wet often means you’ve had a very bad, expensive day out. Playing out on the estuary with the Kayak, though, is something else. With our inflatable plaything, you’re separated from the water by only air and a few millimeters of man-made membrane. Best of all, you’re 100% involved in what your vessel does.

So, just as I found helming a yacht and riding my bike, Kayaking reminded me of the feel and sensation that cars so often deprive us of.

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The Carchive: 1981 Mazda 626 Saloon and Coupe

The last couple of visits to The Carchive have taken a look at a few of North Americas most honest cars of the late ’70s. The economy offerings of Ford and Chevy – basic, simply engineered cars designed to work hard so their owners didn’t have to. They weren’t aspirational, but they were the right cars for the time.

It was around that time, though, that America’s domestic makers were really starting to feel the pressure of cars from the orient – and the same was true in Europe at the turn of the ’80s. The best selling car of that time – the Ford Cortina – was feeling a certain amount of strain from the Mazda 626.

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Classified-ad finds: Decidedly non-standard Cortina P100

The Ford Cortina P100 pickup is an increasingly forgotten machine. Effectively the front end of a late MkIV (colloquially MkV) Cortina mated with a ladder chassis rear end and a pickup bed, most examples used the famous 2.0-litre ‘Pinto’ engine in single-choke, low compression form, whose low 77bhp tune meant it would run on wood shavings and metaphors.

For the most part, these were working vehicles. Sold in Ford’s ‘commercials’ catalogue, the P100 pickup was never marketed as a recreational vehicle in the UK, unlike the Utes and Bakkies of other nations, including South Africa, where the P100 was actually built. As a result, the vast majority were used up and thrown away. Survivors are few, and many of those which live on have strayed wildly from ‘as built’ condition. And now, for a vast sum of money, you can buy an example of the latter.

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Power above absolutely all else: The Vauxhall Monaro VXR500

I have always maintained that great joy can be derived from a car with moderate roadholding limits. In a low-strung car, your excess of exuberance is swiftly met by tyre squeal and body roll – the magic is found in finding the limit and staying there. It’s the old maxim of ‘slow car fast’, and a refreshing alternative to supercars with limits of composure so untouchably high that anything less than a full chat mission becomes a chore.

Between the simple pleasures of a low-powered hatchback and the pure hedonism of a supercar, there lies another breed of car with an appeal all of its own. Cars that look and feel like regular family sedans and coupes but conceal deep reserves of firepower, yet have roadholding limits you can safely spend all day probing. We’re talking Muscle Cars – and this Monaro is a prime example.

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Driving the Kia Pride: The exhilaration of the past

Scientific endeavour has proven that a frog, if slowly heated in a vat of water, won’t notice until it’s too late and he’s boiled alive. I feel that this metaphor also fits for small cars, which may have made vast strides forwards in handling and roadholding prowess, but progress has been very gradual indeed.

If a habitual small car buyer changes his car every three years, the noticeable change between each successive version is incremental at best, and may well not even be detected. But throw the frog straight into a vat of boiling water, or put a Kia Picanto driver behind the wheel of a twenty-six year old Pride, and both reptile and human will immediately leap out, citing intolerable conditions.

Of course, the launch of the Mazda 121 / Ford Festiva / Kia Pride is an epoch ago in terms of car development, so I jumped at the chance to go back in time.

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