Hark The Herald

Triumph Herald in storage.

Beneath years of dust and fossilised spare part boxes, a pair of Triumph Heralds sit forlornly between a breeze-block garage wall and the metal casing of a former paint spray booth. Five more Heralds and a Vitesse occupy the main floorspace, a Dolomite Sprint and Herald-based MG TF-like Gentry are parked within the booth. Automobilia laden shelves, motoring photographs and posters cover the walls. An adjoining room contains tottering piles of car magazines and books alongside numerous ancient bicycles and the component parts of a large train set. A second…

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Porsche 356

Frontal view of Porsche 356 B in the paddock at Bo'ness.

One of my more tiresome habits is to refer to the first-generation Volkswagen Beetle whenever possible within earshot of friends who own Porsche 911s. This is partly because, even though its engine is clearly in the wrong place, I like the 911 more than I want to admit and try to disguise the fact in public. However, it’s true that there is a connection between these famous long-running models, and even another car closely linked to both. That car is the Porsche 356. Designed by Ferdinand ‘Ferry’ Porsche, the son…

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Ford Fiesta Mk1 Popular

Mk1 Ford Fiesta Popular.

As someone who spent a large part of his youth competing in races, sprints and hillclimbs in a variety of Vauxhall Novas, I suppose I should have been programmed to dislike early examples of the Ford Fiesta. Fiestas, like Minis, were the enemy in those days. The Road Saloons up to 1300cc class was flooded with both, most of them driven by people of great talent and determination. There were times when I thought that if they would all scuttle off and leave me in peace my motorsport life would…

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Hillclimb History At Bo’ness

Bo'ness hillclimb as seen from the original start line.

Although I still regard circuit racing as home territory, despite not having done any for quite a while, regular readers will be aware that most of my competition activity these days involves hillclimbing, a sport in which you drive as quickly as you can up a short track with no concern that anyone will attempt to gain an advantage by drop kicking your car into nearby pastures. Opinions vary on this topic, but as far as I’m concerned the first ever hillclimb took place at Chanteloup-les-Vignes to the north-east of…

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The Wonderful Creations Of Paul Jaray

Three Paul Jaray prototypes being driven through Berlin in the 1920s.

In the early 1920s, Paul Jaray, a young man of Hungarian origins who was born in Austria and would die in Switzerland, rebuilt examples of three contemporary cars produced by Audi, Dixi and Ley with results that were dramatic both technically and aesthetically. Nearly a century later, they remain as shocking as they must have done when they first took to the road. By the conventions of the time, cars had more or less vertical windscreens and radiator grilles, along with large headlights attached to the bodywork rather than being…

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Classic Remise

Old pickup truck at Classic Remise in Berlin.

Since 1899 a tram depot has stood on Wiebestrasse in the central Berlin district of Moabit. Having survived Allied bombing during World War II, this rather fine industrial building fell into disuse during the 1960s and then into subsequent decay. In 2002 the old depot was bought by an enterprising group of people who, following a sensitive conversion, re-opened it the following year as Meilenwerk, a centre for the storage, display, restoration, servicing and celebration of classic cars and motorcycles. The original name Meilenwerk was used under licence, and in…

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Volkswagen Golf Ecomatic

Rare example of a surviving right-hand drive Volkswagen Golf Ecomatic.

It seems odd to describe a mainstream car built not much more than twenty years ago as a “classic”, but I think the Volkswagen Golf Ecomatic is just peculiar enough to qualify. In most respects it’s a very ordinary third-generation five-door Golf fitted with a non-turbo 1.9-litre diesel engine whose maxmium power output is just 63bhp. (Nowadays that seems a ridiculously feeble figure, but the car is quite light, being unencumbered with safety equipment that would be considered essential in the modern era, so it doesn’t feel as slow as…

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Jaguar E-Type Series III V12 2+2

Jaguar E-Type Series III V12 2+2.

The most important thing, as any film star will tell you, is not to make eye contact. So although I’m conscious of the onlookers who are obviously regarding me as That Bloke Who’s About To Drive The E-Type, I don’t encourage any of them to start talking to me. Because if they did, I would quickly have to admit that it isn’t my car, and it’s not for sale, and I couldn’t afford to buy it if it were, and this whole experience is barely going to last half an…

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Honda Insight

Contemporary press shot of first-generation, left-hand drive Honda Insight.

When I say that petrol-electric hybrid cars are nothing new, I don’t just mean they’ve been around for as long as Facebook. Porsche put one into limited production in the early years of the 20th century, and a single example of the Armstrong Phaeton was built in Connecticut even before that. The original Honda Insight is much more recent, but it has the distinction of being the first hybrid to go on general sale in the UK, the earliest example in this context having been registered in March 2000. This…

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Revisiting The Renault 8

Red 1965 Renault 8

The Renault 8 is at the front and centre of my lifetime enthusiasm for cars, but it took the unexpected offer of a half-hour drive in one for me to realise this. Why, of all things, the 8? It was a not particularly outstanding example of what we would now call a supermini, nowhere near as attractive at first glance as the Dauphine it replaced, though I do like its smile. For me, cars have faces, perhaps less obviously now than before. In those days, different Renaults had different faces,…

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