Short chassis, lightweight cars with big power – it’s a recipe for instant grins, and one that gave TVR a reputation as a builder of some of the wildest machines you can buy.
The company was founded in 1958 by TreVoR Wilkinson and shot to success at the height of the UK kit car boom, when selling cars in knockdown form avoided harsh sales taxes on cars. Believe it or not, but at one point TVR was the third largest sports car manufacturer in the world. Unlike almost all of its contemporaries, the TVR product has never changed in spirit. With trademark wild angles and curves the design’s gave a uniform ‘stuff you’ to the establishment, and build quality was always akin to that of a kit car.
But who cares about fit and finish when you’re behind the wheel of something like this T350C, which was spotted on the Friday morning commute just outside of the Adelaide CBD. The 3600cc dry-sumped straight six, with its factory 11.8:1 compression ratio, sends 350hp to the rears. The curvaceous fibreglass body sits over adjustable double wishbone suspension with coilovers front and back, and with a traditional 5 speed manual and none of that ABS/traction control/stability control rubbish to worry about the whole package weighs in at a scant 1187kg. Near 50/50 weight distribution (51.9% front, 48.1% rear) and fat rubber on the back only sweetens the deal.
There are some very special cars hiding in Adelaide, and two of them were spotted in the city at the opening of Royal Car Wash this morning.
The Lamborghini Murcielago needs no introduction. An old school hairy chested supercar, the venerable Murcie gets by on the drama of its scissor doors and the brute force of its six-and-a-half litre V12.
With a limited production run of just 500, the Lexus LFA is one of the rarest supercars as well as one of the most technologically advanced. The shrill of its naturally aspirated 4.8 litre V10 is spine tingling, and the complexity and quality of its carbon-fibre construction is awe inspiring. This LFA is not a garage queen and sees regular use on the streets and hills of Adelaide, even on rainy mornings such as today. Supercars are good, but supercars that get used are even better.
Any Given Reason has just returned from pre-event scruitineering at City Holden for this weekend’s Adelaide Motorsport Festival, and if the small snapshot of cars present at that time is anything to go by we’re in for quite the treat.
This coming Saturday I will step out from behind the camera and put the helmet on, competing in the Windy Point Hillcimb in our Alfa Romeo Sprint. Friend of Any Given Reason Luke Jaksa will take the lens on Saturday, capturing the spirit of this first-time hillclimb for AGR. My father will be behind the wheel of the Alfa for Sunday’s Victoria Park Sprint, while I will be relegated to the sidelines behind the camera once again. But there will be Formula One cars roaring around the Victoria Park circuit as well as hundreds of other fine machines, so it’s hardly a tough job.
Spectating is going to be pretty tricky up at Windy Point on Saturday, and my advice is to get there early to get a good spot at the lookout. You could try your luck trekking through the bushland but I understand they will be very hot on keeping people away for safety reasons, so be prepared to be turned back if this is your plan.
The upcoming Adelaide Motorsport Festival was launched to the media last week with a display of several important racing cars on the Victoria Park circuit, including two Formula One cars that raced in the Adelaide Grand Prix in the eighties.
The inaugural event, to be held on the weekend of 12-13 April, has been described as a virtual ‘museum-in-motion’ and celebrates South Australia’s rich motorsport heritage. The event commences on Saturday with the (still to be confirmed) Windy Point Hillclimb, although Sunday’s Victoria Park Sprint will be the headline component and the one that draws the crowds. A section of Wakefield Road will be used to link up a complete circuit with the permanent section of the Clipsal 500/Grand Prix circuit in Victoria Park, creating the perfect setting for the competition vehicles to stretch their legs in the heart of the CBD fringe.
Ten Formula One vehicles have so far been confirmed for the event, including the first ever Lotus F1 car from 1957, a 1974 March, the Beatrice Lola Hart driven by Alan Jones in 1985, his 1980 World Championship winning Williams and the car’s shown here. It will be a rare opportunity to not just see these cars, but to hear and experience them being properly worked as their designers intended. Continue reading →
There’s an interesting observation to be made when comparing human versus internal combustion as forms of propulsion. There are obviously exceptions (I’m one of them), but on the whole, ‘car guys’ aren’t typically also into cycling. However, road cyclists usually take at least a passing interest in cool cars. Road bikes are also finely tuned machines, and whilst this is a concept I plan to explore in more detail in a future story, a passion for the bicycle usually overflows into a passion for other mechanical devices.
Out an about on my bike during the recent Tour Down Under pro cycling race in Adelaide, I spotted two vehicles that support my theory. The first was this left-hand drive Citroen H van, from Rapha Racing. Rapha produce a range of mighty fine cycling kit, and are suppliers to the Sky Pro Team.
The H was produced in France and Belgium from 1947 to 1981 and is known for its distinctive corrugated iron bodywork which adds strength without adding weight, whilst also reducing manufacturing costs. Rapha have fitted their beautifully restored van out with an espresso machine (another cycling institution), and were out all over the hills during race week providing a much needed caffeine shot to the thousands of fans out on their bikes. I spotted it here dispensing much needed relief at the top of Eagle on the Hill, after making a rather sweaty ascent.
By far the coolest vehicle I’ve spotted in a long time was this Volvo 240GL Wagon (bet you never thought you’d read those words on Any Given Reason!). The car itself is nothing special, but the fact that it was stickered up as a period European support car for 70’s Belgium cycling champion Eddy Merckx was beyond cool. Continue reading →
There are rare occurrences, and then there’s seeing a Giallo Modena Ferrari F50 in midweek Adelaide traffic. Unlikely? Damn, it’s about as unlikely as you could get.
The F50 has always sat in the shadow of its older brother, but technologically speaking it’s the more fascinating and sophisticated car. Whereas the F40 relies on sheer turbocharged brute force, the F50 delivers its punch through a howling 60 valve, 65deg V12 derived from the F92A Formula 1 engine. The engine and six-speed gearbox also doubles as the rear suspension mounting points, and the whole assembly is mounted as a single stressed unit direct to the carbon tub. That’s pure racecar exotica, and the F50 is closer to an F1 car for the road than any other Ferrari has been.
With only 349 F50’s built and only 31 in this colour, it is significantly rarer than the F40 too. It just goes to show that there is some very special machinery hiding in the garages of Adelaide, and if you happen to be in the right place at the right time you just might get a glimpse.
A two door, rear engined, air cooled flat six coupe. We’ve been here a million times before, right? Well, no. It’s rare for the American auto industry to try something radically new, but they most certainly did with the Chevrolet Corvair in 1960. Not only was this a move away from large land barges into something smaller, safer, more modern and far sportier, but its layout was truly big news – air cooled flat sixes have been commonplace since the 911, but the Corvair actually predated our favorite Porsche by three whole years. And what’s more, from 1965 the all aluminum, 2300cc motor could be enjoyed in turbocharged form. That’s proper innovation for 1965.
Of course the Corvair will forever go down in history, connected indefinitely to the name of political activist Ralph Nader, who’s book Unsafe at Any Speed slammed the first generation’s swing arm rear suspension in his damning review of the American car industry. External testing by the DOT later determined the Corvair to be no more diabolical than four of its more popular contemporaries and noted that the Porsche 356, Volkswagen Beetle and some Mercedes-Benz all used swing arms without issue. Despite a complete re-design in 1965 to fully independent rear suspension, the damage was done and after years of declining sales the Corvair was discontinued in 1969 after nearly 1.8 million of the revolutionary coupe, sedan, wagon, convertible and van had been sold.
Apart from a few small spots of rust, this lightly modified example was in mint condition and spotted sitting pretty in Adelaide’s Torrens Parade Ground recently. Still in left hand drive, this example has a nice stance over its three piece split rims, and I really dig the pro touring style front air dam, unfortunately a little hidden in the shadows of these midday photos. It just goes to show how a few carefully chosen and reversible modifications can really change the whole feel of a car.
The Volkswagen scene continues to amaze with its sheer size and diversity. Regardless of your particular automotive tastes, there’s a type or style of Volkswagen to match and a bunch of enthusiastic people out there doing it. The annual Volksfest, organised by the Volks Enthusiasts Club of SA, is Adelaide’s biggest dedicated Volkswagen show and the place where bug’s, buses, water cooled and a huge variety of anything Volkswagen or Volkswagen based comes to meet.
AGR has long been a proponent of the fact that when it comes to a car show, the location is the single biggest factor contributing to a good day. Volksfest was previously held on a closed road in Port Adelaide and that was brilliant, but the organisers have really outdone themselves and for 2013 somehow managed to secure Elder Park, in the heart of Adelaide’s CBD, as the venue.
A rock ‘n roll band played the famous Rotunda and the show fanned out radially from there, with the Festival Centre & Intercontinental as backdrop on one side and the impressive new Adelaide Oval re-development just a stones throw over the Torrens. Continue reading →
1963. Kennedy was assassinated and an American Baptist minister voiced his dream in DC. A band called The Beatles were on the rise, the Great Train Robbery captivated a nation and for the first time since the end of the war the Berlin Wall opened for one day passes. It’s almost unimaginable what West Germany must have seemed like through the eyes of an Easterner, especially as that first raspy flat six Porsche 911 roared past.
Yes, a lot happened internationally in 1963. After the devastation of war, West Germany was getting back on its feet and proving itself to the world. The country was experiencing an economic boom for the first time and Porsche had shown, with its 356, that people once again had money to spend on sports cars. The Porsche story is one of evolution, and in 1963 the small company unveiled their next move – the 911. The same engine was in the same place (in the 912, at least), and the car had grown in size. There was now a six cylinder option for increased performance and new styling embraced postmodernism yet still remained quintessentially Porsche. I don’t know if people in 1963 knew the importance of the new 911 or maybe it was just another expensive car, but in retrospect it’s clear that an icon was born.
An icon that, whilst now significantly massaged to suit the tastes, demands and regulations of the age we live in, still exists in almost undiluted form some fifty years later. I can’t think of another car, product, place or even an idea that fits that description. We can wax lyrical all we like, but a 911 is still a 911. End of story. Continue reading →
At Any Given Reason we’re all about actually driving our cars as their makers intended. However, as the speeding fine that came in the post this morning attests, this is not always a feasible thing to do anymore. As alluring as the dream of you, a GT3 RS and an empty hills road is, the harsh reality is seemingly blanket 80km/h speed limits and Orwellian laser detection cameras. I feel almost ashamed to say this, but I fear that so long as you value the possession of your license, driving a GT3 on said hills roads would, for the most part, be an extremely frustrating experience and a constant exercise in self restraint. So that raises the question – is it actually possible to have fun driving slowly?
To answer this question I’ve arranged a drive that is quite different to what I normally do. In fact, more than just arranging a drive; I’ve organised a bit of a social experiment, if you will. The car I’ve chosen just happens to be the fastest accelerating Australian car ever made, but on this drive I really just want to find out if it’s any fun to drive at 50km/h. We’re going to go and cut a few laps of the city on a Saturday night and see if we actually enjoy the experience. It could go either way, but somehow I suspect the FPV GT RSPEC is going to be the right car for the task.
I’m standing waiting on Grenfell Street’s footpath for our 11pm rendezvous, the bass line of the DJ’s tunes emanate from the pub across the road; a group of tipsy girls walk past me, hardly noticing my presence as they discuss their next venue. But it’s not long until another bass line roar can be heard echoing off the buildings, and as I look up from my phone the jet black FPV stops kerbside. And it’s an especially mean looking machine in RSPEC guise – the glossy black duco offset by red striping on the bonnet and down the side, red wheels and a red spoiler, with large ‘BOSS 335’ lettering in relief. I can hardly believe that it has more street presence than the 911 Carrera that passes by as we take in the details, but it does. The humble Falcon has come a long way.