Charleston – French racing blue in the morning sun

French_Vintage (1)Last weekend, friend of Any Given Reason Luke Jaksa and I were rushing through the hills chasing rally cars around as part of Scouts Rally SA. We were on our way to a jump out behind Nairne and we simply couldn’t be late as it’s always the first cars that jump the hardest. We had empty stomachs and an empty fuel tank, but nothing could stop us. Except, perhaps, a group of vintage French cars stopped on the side of the road. How often do you happen to see a Bugatti Type 35A and a pair of Amilcar’s in the wild?

French_Vintage (10)Rally cars be damned, this was WAY more interesting.

French_Vintage (13)The trio were out for a Sunday morning drive and had stopped just out of Charleston when one of the Amilcar’s suffered a puncture to its front tire. You sometimes forget just how different vintage cars are to the more modern stuff we’re used to. Who even packs a brass hammer when they go for a drive anymore, let alone actually needs to use one? Brass and hickory, a winning combination. Continue reading

Driven – Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk7

LausanneFerrari 709Imagine the board meeting when the idea of the hot hatch was first mooted. ‘Sir, we’ve done some in-depth market analysis and determined that not everyone has the ability to own both a practical hatchback and a sports car. Let’s build a hatchback that looks tough and is also a hoot to drive’. ‘Jones, well done. Gents – to the production line!’

LausanneFerrari 720It’s an idea so plainly obvious today, but back in the day it was a revelation. For decades before there had been practical cars that were fun to drive, such as the original Mini and the Alfasud, but their brio was an almost incidental byproduct. It wasn’t until the 1975 launch of the Volkswagen Golf GTI that a hatchback was specifically engineered and marketed to also be a sports car. The hot hatch category is oversaturated today, but when the GTI was launched the term didn’t even exist. The GTI is one of a very small group of cars that actually created its own market segment.

LausanneFerrari 724The white Mk1 you see here is an immaculate example of the first true hot hatch, owned by a local Adelaide enthusiast who campaigns it regularly both in the hills and in club motorsport events. Its 1600cc, Bosch K-Jetronic injected four makes 80kw which is respectable for the day, even more enticing considering it has just 810kg to pull gleefully around. The black fender flares make it look that little bit tougher, and the GTI hallmarks of a red grille surround, tartan seat trim and a golf ball shifter knob are there for the first time.

LausanneFerrari 710The Mk7 GTI next to it has just been launched to critical acclaim, and this particular example is the closest in specification we could organize – it’s the same shade of white, a traditional three-pedal manual, and it has the trademark GTI hallmarks of a red grille surround, tartan seat trim and a golf ball shifter knob. Continue reading

Any Given Reason Burger Meet 3

BurgerMeet3 627The concept of Burger Meet is simple – a car park meet to get as many readers of Any Given Reason and their cars in the same place as possible. The emphasis is on diversity and informality, and the vague idea of standing around a car park eating burgers is about as far as the planning goes.

BurgerMeet3 525On the evening of Saturday 28th December, the readers of Any Given Reason descended on the Hagen Arms Hotel at Echunga in the Adelaide Hills to watch the sun set with burgers, beers, and of course, cars. And what a spectacular array of cars it was – but more on that later.

BurgerMeet3 518The thing that makes organising Burger Meet such an exciting, rewarding and completely terrifying experience is that I have absolutely no idea who actually reads and follows this blog. I get traffic statistics but they’re just abstract numbers and graphs, so when I put the word out that Burger Meet 3 was happening I had exactly zero idea who and how many people would actually come. I guessed about 80 cars and thought it would be pretty cool if we could fill the car park, but when streams of cars started pouring in and it wasn’t even the 6pm start-time yet, I started to get a little nervous/overjoyed. Continue reading

Driven – Mercedes-Benz AMG A45

DSC_0012The official tuning arm of Mercedes-Benz, AMG, has a reputation for building slightly bonkers cars. It began back in the early 70’s with the 6.9 V8 500SEL built for the European Touring Car Championship and continues today as the company stuffs gruff V8’s, usually with a supercharger or twin turbochargers added for good luck, into whatever Mercedes-Benz product they can lay their hands on. So what exactly is the AMG badge now doing on the side of a medium sized four cylinder hatchback? It may be turbocharged and have four wheel drive, but still…

DSC_0037Rest assured, this is still a proper AMG and one look at the numbers reinforces that. The turbocharged 2.0 engine produces 360hp (265kw) and an astounding 450nm of torque, making it the most powerful four cylinder production engine, ever. 100hp/litre used to be the old benchmark – the A45 smashes that out of the ballpark with 180hp/litre and it races to 100km/h in just 4.6sec. The Haldex 4WD drives the front wheels around town for fuel economy, but can divert up to 50% to the rear when the pace picks up.

DSC_0093Hmm… a fast, turbocharged, four cylinder, all wheel drive small car – haven’t we seen this before? Well, yes. The concept isn’t exactly new, but the A45 brings a lot more to the table than the others. It offers style, build quality and levels of refinement that makes an Evo X or STI look and feel quite crummy in comparison, and the AMG brand brings benefits you don’t get with a Golf R or BMW 1M. It may be keenly priced (on the AMG scale), but make no mistake – the A45 is a legitimate AMG. That means your hand crafted engine bears the name and signature of its builder. You also have access to the same program of customer benefits, like drive days and product launches, that SLS buyers get which is possibly one of the greatest marketing ploys ever. The A45 will attract new buyers to the brand and when it comes time for them to upgrade, of course they’ll buy another, more expensive AMG. Who’d give up the lairy track days you now look forward to? Continue reading

The second Any Given Reason Burger Meet

DSC_0291As the alarm went off at about 6am on Sunday morning, I awoke to a really odd sound. A constant, almost comforting patter. What was it? Ah yes, rain. And lots of of it. In my early morning stupor I came to the conclusion that I should just go back to sleep, and it probably will stop by the time I need to get up. 7am and the alarm buzzed again, and for some damned reason it was still raining. At least I wouldn’t need to wash the car I concluded, and promptly fell back asleep. Wintery mornings do not welcome the early bird.

DSC_0075Rewind a couple of weeks. After receiving some feedback from the first Burger Meet held on a Friday evening at Fancy Burger in Blackwood, I decided to try something a little different for the second Burger Meet. The main suggestions were that the location was less than inspiring, and that people wanted to go for a bit of a drive as well. So with sunny late summer hills mornings in mind the decision was made to hold the second Burger Meet on a Sunday morning in Mylor, with the burgers served up from the picturesque Harvest Cafe.

DSC_0370Gourmet breakfast burgers? Check. Picture-perfect surroundings? Check. Twisty driving roads to arrive at the venue? Check. Constant rain and freezing cold temperatures? Check. Damn. With this in mind I didn’t really expect a huge turnout, and I couldn’t really blame people for not coming. It takes a strong passion for cars to get out of a nice warm bed on such an awful Sunday morning.

DSC_0025But then one by one, people started arriving in all sorts of interesting cars. Continue reading

The second AGR Burger Meet, to be held at Harvest Cafe Mylor

32Sunday April 21, 9.00am, Harvest Cafe, Mylor

The second Any Given Reason Burger Meet will be held in the picturesque township of Mylor in the Adelaide Hills from 9am on Sunday April 21. With a huge choice of some of the best driving roads in the state to get there and a special breakfast burger served by the lovely folks at the charming Harvest Cafe, it is shaping up to be a relaxing morning of all things automotive.

BM_2You’ll find Harvest Cafe at 240 Strathalbyn Road, on your right coming from Adelaide. Burger Meet will be utilizing the Mylor playground carpark, which is on your left a little further on from Harvest Cafe. Note – don’t go into the main oval entry; the playground entry is another hundred meters down the road. Look for the Skate Ramp sign.

BM-01The second Burger Meet will follow the same formula as the first – a whole bunch of car people standing around a carpark talking about cars, to the accompaniment of good burgers and coffee. And like last time, it doesn’t matter what you bring. Sports, modern, rally, race, Euro, Jap, American, stance, classic, vintage, motorbikes, hot rods, insane off-roaders – it’s all welcome so long as it’s just a little bit interesting.

BM_03You can read about the first Burger Meet here, and ask in the comments section if you’ve got any questions about the day. I look forward to seeing you all there!

Andrew

It’s time to do it again – the second Any Given Reason Burger Meet

BM2Save the date – Sunday April 21, 9.00am, Adelaide Hills

It’s time to do it again before winter sets in! We received some feedback after the last meet that a Sunday morning might be a good idea, so we’re going to give it a try. Burgers for breakfast? Why not! Or maybe we’ll change the name to Bagel Meet? Either way, it’s the same formula of a whole bunch of car people standing around a carpark talking about cars. And like last time, it doesn’t matter what you bring. Sports, modern, rally, race, Euro, Jap, American, stance, classic, vintage, motorbikes, hot rods, insane off-roaders – it’s all welcome so long as it’s just a little bit interesting.

32
Some feedback we received after the last meet is that you guys would like to incorporate a bit of a drive (that’s what Any Given Reason is all about, anyway), so the location this time will be in the Adelaide Hills, mostly likely somewhere around Mylor or Hahndorf. We’re currently searching for a suitable cafe, and the exact location will be advised once this has been locked down.

For those that didn’t make it last time or have no idea what I’m talking about, click here to read about the first Burger Meet at Blackwood.

Hope to see you all there!

Andrew