2017-08-15

Renault 6 rescue

A genuine garage find...


Isn't it every car enthusiast's dream to open up a long-forgotten garage and find a rare classic hidden inside? That dream still comes true surprisingly often and some amazing barn finds have been discovered in recent years, but I never thought it would happen to me. We were quite happy with the Maxi and weren't looking for another classic, and certainly had no intention of buying a Renault 6 but then this one unexpectedly found us and had to be saved. Read on for the story of its discovery after more than two decades hidden away in storage...

2017-07-29

Unsung heroes: Triumph TR7

British Leyland have far more than their fair share of unsung heroes, being the car company everyone loves to hate, and today's subject is the second Triumph-badged car to feature in this series. The Triumph TR7 is practically guaranteed to feature in all those lists of the world's worst cars that keep appearing, especially those compiled by Americans, who really seem to hate it with a passion. That's quite ironic really as it was designed specifically to appeal to the US market and the Americans mostly have themselves to blame for the way it turned out. Was it really that bad though? Yes, it suffered its share of issues and its story is one of missed opportunities and unrealised potential, but it's a surprisingly contradictory yet true fact that the TR7 is somehow both the least loved and simultaneously also the most successful member of the TR series.

Is it really fair to class this as one of the world's worst cars?

2017-07-23

An Unexceptional new venue

My favourite event of the year has just been and gone again: Hagerty's Festival of the Unexceptional returned for a fourth year at a new and even more upmarket venue. I thought Whittlebury Park was posh, but the Festival's new home was on another level, the grandiose and world-famous National Trust house and gardens at Stowe, surroundings that were a hugely marked contrast to the down-to-earth cars. I was promoted from spectator to exhibitor too - no longer do I have to suffer the indignity of attending in a modern car as the Maxi fits in perfectly at this event and arriving early allowed it to secure a front row spot in the classic parking, where it drew a lot of attention.

What a fantastic view! What goodies can you spot here?


2017-07-13

Photobucket's commercial suicide

A return to the subject of tech after a few months of vehicle-related posts. You will no doubt have noticed a recent major change to the Photobucket photo hosting website as the consequences are far-reaching and have single-handedly destroyed a large part of the internet through what I fear is a commercially-suicidal decision. For years Photobucket have offered free third-party hosting and thousands of people have taken advantage of this to host photos for use on forums, auctions and blogs, but they have now got greedy and decided to start charging an annual subscription of $399.99 for the privilege of displaying Photobucket-hosted images on other sites. Needless to say, there has been a huge backlash and the company is losing custom at a rapid rate, so the popular nickname of 'Photofuckit' is fully justified as angry customers give up and move elsewhere.

The most hated image on the internet right now. It's everywhere and has replaced countless photos.

2017-06-30

Back in the Field of Dreams

The weekend just gone marked the first anniversary of the muddy spectacle that was Shitefest 2016, and it was appropriately celebrated by being back in Chris and Claire's Field of Dreams. This year's official Shitefest took place at the beginning of the month at the Bubble Car Museum in Lincolnshire, but Chris decided to hold another open day in the field for visiting Autoshite members. So it was that another small group of shiters convened on Sunday for more tinkering, visiting cars this time including a beautiful Fiat X1/9 and a smart K-reg Astra diesel estate.

2017-06-21

Unsung heroes: Volvo F86

So far this series has mainly profiled cars, plus a couple of buses and a taxi, but I have never yet looked at the unsung heroes of the trucking world. Today that changes as I pay tribute to a pioneer that made a huge impact on the British haulage industry but lives in the shadow of its more glamorous sister model. Spend just a few minutes watching the traffic on any trunk road and chances are the majority of the many trucks that pass by will be Volvos, such is the marque's dominance nowadays. It all started from humble beginnings half a century ago when a small Scottish dealership called Ailsa Trucks imported their first Volvo F86.

Where it all began - the very first F86 in the UK

2017-06-18

The Quest continues

More about Quest 80


I haven't had much time for blogging lately as the show season is now in full swing. Last Sunday I was back at Gaydon for the truck show, but I'm not going to do a full review this time as it was the same deal as the last two years. My star of the show last year was B.R. Whorton's near-unique Quest 80 tipper, and this time they went one better and had both of them in attendance. That meant what is probably the world's entire population of Quest lorries were in one place, and a chat with the gentleman looking after them for the weekend revealed some more information so I can add extra detail to my original piece about Quest 80.

Every Quest lorry in existence in one photo


2017-05-31

Unsung heroes: Metrocab

Along with the red Routemaster bus, the other instantly recognisable symbol of London and British public transport is the black cab. I can practically guarantee what you're now thinking of will inevitably be the Austin FX4 or Carbodies Fairway as it later became, a classic design that roamed the streets of the capital and many other areas in huge numbers for decades.

The FX4 wasn't the only bespoke taxi designed specifically to meet London's peculiar requirements though; its main rival may be much less famous and doesn't have the same quintessentially British image but carved out a formidable reputation among cabbies and gave many years of reliable service so I have nominated it as this month's unsung hero. I'm talking about the Metrocab, a vehicle that was an excellent taxi in own right but is very much overshadowed by the iconic nature of the FX4 so it rarely gets the recognition it deserves.

Looks like the offspring of a Granada and a Range Rover but much more modern than the FX4
(By Mic from Reading - Berkshire, United Kingdom - Reading, Berkshire - UK, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38713195)


2017-05-29

Willington Classic Car Show

The late May bank holiday weekend can be a busy time for classic car owners, with no shortage of events throughout the country. My friend Mervyn organises a biannual show in his home village of Willington, near Bedford, so this was my destination yesterday. It is an informal event with no admission charge and no pre-booking, except for commercial vehicles to ensure space is available, so cars came and went throughout the afternoon and there was always something new to see. He estimated there was a record attendance this time of over 200 vehicles, and it was a very pleasant way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon.

 

2017-05-15

Dream cars: Rover SD1 estate

BL's greatest missed opportunity? 


I like estate cars. I don't really know why but I just have a fascination with them and often find them more attractive than the saloon or hatchback on which they're based, with a few exceptions of course. I also like the Rover SD1 for its radical Ferrari-inspired styling, so combine the two and it's highly likely that the result will be greatly appealing to me. British Leyland's troubled history is littered with cancelled projects that might have been great but never saw the light of day for whatever reason, the advanced mid-engined Rover P6BS and Capri-rivalling Triumph Lynx among others. Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity of all is the proposed SD1 estate, which would have been a formidable rival to the big Volvos, Mercedes and Ford Granada and ranks highly on my list of dream cars.

How I wish I could own one of these...


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