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The Motorists' Guide

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New & Used Car Reviews, Product Reviews
  1. What's new in this club
  2. A comprehensive pictorial history of all Vauxhall cars produced from 1945 up to and including models in production in 1995. This really is the ‘go-to’ publication if you need to compare your Vivas, Victors, Ventoras or Viceroys! Breaking down the many models into several chapters, this is a trip down memory lane for any postwar car enthusiast. Comprehensively illustrated, the book includes line drawings, black & white plus colour period photographs, together with interior detail. All models are covered along with sports derivatives, limited editions, vans, estates, coupes. It includes a section on motor sport achievements and TV/movie appearances. Contemporary factory advertising slogans used is key throughout. Complimenting the historical content, technical specifications, key production changes and build figures are also detailed. Trevor Alder has been driving Vauxhalls and Opels for many years and has previously written and compiled several Vauxhall/Opel publications from his massive self-indexed magazine archive. The research for this book suggests this a bookshelf-must for anyone interested in a slice of Britain's motoring heritage. Vauxhall Cars by Trevor Alder ISBN: 9781787115934 UPC: 6-36847-01593-0 AVAILABLE NOW at £19.99 (plus p&p) from Veloce Publishing Ltd (www.veloce.co.uk) Tel: 01305 260068 Source: https://www.carbooks.store/blogs/news/vauxhall-cars-1945-to-1995
  3. Steve reviews the worlds most iconic van on its 70th anniversary..... The Volkswagen Transporter. Just like the Volkswagen Beetle, the Transporter is just as famous worldwide and a true symbol of Volkswagen and recognised as a cult vehicle thanks to its involvement in the hippy movement and memories created over numerous generations for its use in holidays. Currently on is 6th version and 7th on the way, Steve takes a look at all generations of Transporter. T1 The first generation Transporter made its debut in 1950 and was a revolution being flat fronted and rear engined. Available in van, pickup, crewcab, minibus (microbus) and camper they all were fitted with aircooled 4 cylinder engines and 4 speed manual gearboxes. Affectionately known as the splitty due to the split windscreen, they were manufactured in Europe between 1950-1967 but lived on in South American/African markets into the 1970s. They are now a true motoring icon and prices are rising. T2 Released in 1968 as a direct replacement to the T1 the second generation built on the reputation of its predecessor and was to become known as the bay window, again thanks to its windscreen design. Just like the T1 the T2 was also fitted with aircooled engines and 4 speed gearboxes and were also available as van, pickup, crewcab, minibus (microbus) and camper. Despite production ending in 1979, the design lived on in South America up to 2015. T25 The T25 was the last rear ended Transporter but compared to the previous generations the windscreen was raked but was also available as a van, pickup, crewcab, minibus (microbus) and camper. Initially offered with a 1.6 or 2.0 litre aircooled engine, the world had moved on and the Transporter need to as well. As such the T25 was the first Transporter to be fitted with watercooled engines both in petrol and diesel form known as wasserboxers as they were watercooled flatfour configuration. Despite production ending in 1992, the design lived on in South Africa for another decade and ceasing production in 2002. T4 Released in 1990 the T4 was a revelation and a shock to Transporter fans, thanks to it being the first generation to be front engined. This helped boost space and flexibility for the Transporter which just like all previous versions came as a van, pickup, crewcab, minibus (microbus), camper and as a chassis cab. It was also the first Transporter to be available in two wheelbases, either short wheel base or long wheel base. The T4 was available with a multitude of petrol and diesel engines which became renowned for their reliability and built between 1990-2004. T5 The second front engined version, the T5 again grew in size over its predecessor and was available as a van, pickup, crewcab, minibus (microbus), camper and chassis cab which allowed it to be used as tipper, recovery truck of flatbed. It is also available as a short wheel base, long wheel base and short or high roof. The T4 was available with a multitude of petrol and diesel engines which ranged from 1.9 to 3.2 litres and built between 2003-2016. T6 This is the current generation, released in 2016 and follows on from its T5 predecessor in terms of appearance and chassis design but benefits from new engines and major interior improvements/redesign. Just like the T5 the current model is also available as a van, pickup, crewcab, minibus (microbus), camper and chassis cab which allowed it to be used as tipper, recovery truck of flatbed. It is also available as a short wheel base, long wheel base and short or high roof. T7 - The Future Volkswagen have announced the T7 Transporter, also known as the ID Buzz will hark back to its routes by being flat fronted and is achieved thanks to being the first Transporter to be powered only by electricity. It will be available as a van and minibus but I suspect other body variants will be offered. It will also come with the next generation autonomous driving technology. I hope you've enjoyed this article, please tell us your opinion by leaving a comment below.
  4. In the final installment Steve takes a look at another 10 British vehicles. Morgan 4/4 The 4/4 has been produced by the Morgan Motor Company since 1936 and the current styling was introduced on the Mk2 in 1955. All 4/4 models are fitted with a ford 4 cylinder engine and manual gearbox and is still in production. the 4/4, like other Morgan models is made with traditional methods of using a wooden frame made from ash and then covered in an aluminium skin. This means all Morgan's are hand made and no two cars are identical, and can be fully personalised by the first owner. They have proven very popular both here and abroad and currently the waiting list goes into years rather than months. JCB Founded in 1945 by Joseph Cyrill Bamford, JCB was been producing a variety of earth moving, agricultural, construction, waste moving and demolition machinery which is renowned across Europe and other parts of the world, and a most famous for their bright yellow/orange digger and tractor range. JCB also broke the land speed record in their Dieselmax land speed record vehicle which clocked a speed of 350.092mph. Land Rover Series models The series Land Rovers were the first mass produced civilian 4 wheel drive vehicle with doors fitted and started production in 1948 to be a competitor at the successful yet 2 wheel drive Willy's Jeep. There were 3 Series variants built between 1948-1985 and all were available is a short wheelbase, long wheelbase, pickup, convertible and modified variants for different uses such as in cherry pick or recovery vehicle form. The series Land rovers proved an instant success both with farmers and the British military and as such helped Land Rover to build a reputation of building "go anywhere" vehicles. MGA Launched in 1955 the MGA replaced the TF-Midget and became an instant success in America and other export markets selling over 101,000 units. Of those fewer than 6,000 cars were sold to UK buyers making it one of the least sold cars at the time on the UK market. Engines came either as a 1500cc or 1600cc and a twin cam model was available. The MGA also proved to be very competitive in motorsport where it has won multiple regional and National events in the USA and was entered into the 1955 Le Mans race where two cars finished 12th and 17th. AEC Matador/Marshall The Matador was a lorry built by Associated Equipment Company between 1938-1953 and was available as a 4x2 or 4x4 configuration and distinctive due to its flat front, radiator grill and cured roof. A 6 wheeled version was also produced known as the Marshall but its design was the same. In civilian use the Matador proved very successful as a tow truck, in forestry work, construction roles but the Matador is most famous due to its invaluable service during the Second World War where it was used for troop transport, tanker roles, supply transport as well as an artillery tractor. Range Rover Classic The Range Rover was the first executive vehicle from Land Rover and notably the first executive four wheel drive vehicle, which combined Land Rovers off-road capabilities but the luxuries of an executive saloon car. Built between 1969-1996 it became an instant hit in the UK and America and was available either as a 2 door or 4 door with a V8 or later a diesel engine. Jaguar XJS The XJS was designed to be the replacement for the very popular E-Type and available as a coupe or convertible, the latter came much later during production. Designed to be a grand tourer the XJS was built between 1975-1996 with engines ranging from V6 through to V12, the latter being the first true mass produced V12 engine in a production car. Despite not looking as pretty as the E-Type, it certainly is a design that looks better with age. The last role of the dice for the XJS was when Ford owned both Jaguar and Aston Martin, of which Ford used the XJS chassis and bulkhead on the Aston Martin DB7. Rover BRM LE Named after Rovers BRM race car the Rover BRM was based on the Rover 200 3 door family hatchback but featured a British Racing Green paint job, red quilted leather, alloy wheels, sports suspension, alloy gearknob and other alloy interior trim plus an orange grill surround and fitted with Rover's 1.8 K-series engine and reportedly faster, with better handling than the MG ZR which was also a sportier version on the 200 bodyshell. With only 1,145 examples ever built it is now a very rare and future classic. Land Rover Defender The Defender was the successor of the Series 3 Land Rover and was also known as the 90, 110 or 130 dependent on chassis length. Built between 1983-2016 the Defender was able to build on the reputation of the former Series models and proved popular with the British military, farmers and general members of the public who had recognised the Defender as a UK cult vehicle. It has also been described as a classless vehicle as it has the ability to blend in on any street and have been driven from all walks of life. Even the Queen owns one. It could be argued the last iconic Land Rover which has a loyal following. DeLorean DMC-12 The DMC-12 is the only British car to be built in Northern Ireland between 1980-1982 and was devised by John DeLorean who was a former General Motors designer. With a chassis designed by Lotus, a stainless steel body with gullwing doors and a 2.8 V6 petrol engine, on paper the DMC-12 had the makings of a supercar. Unfortunately it wasn't to be due to quality control issues, poor vehicle performance and a drugs scandal surrounding John DeLorean, it left the company in tatters after only 2 years of making cars. The cars biggest claim to fame was in Back to the future when Doc Brown builds a time machine out of a DeLorean. Does it count? This is one I want our readers to decide on and let us know in the comments whether you think the ZS can be considered quintessentially British. MG ZS The MG ZS was based on the Rover 45 which technically was a Honda design with Rover influences which was down to Rover/Hondas partnership in the later 80s/early 90s. The last of the line ZS models were aimed towards younger buyers thanks to its pearlescent paint finishes, large spoilers, side air vents and bodykits which fitted right in with the Maxpower era and ultimately did help boost sales. Along with engines which ranged from the 1.8 K-series engine through to the 2.5 V6 engine found in the bigger Rover 75/MG ZT. Overview I hope you've enjoyed reading this 3 part installment on quintessentially British vehicles as much as I have enjoyed compiling them.
  5. Steve runs through another selection of vehicles which defines Britain. Triumph Dolomite Sprint Launched in 1972 until 1980 the Dolomite Sprint was a performance saloon car designed to be the BMW M3 of its day. Fitted with a 1.8 litre 4 cylinder 127bhp engine and 4 speed gearbox with optional over drive and double wishbone suspension it was a great little machine but fragile. As you'd expect it also had success in racing, winning the Touring Car drivers championship in 1975. It also takes the credit of being having the first multi valve mass produced engine and to the engine credit, a version of it was still being used by Saab up until it went into receivership. Green Goddess - Bedford RLHZ The Green Goddess is a fire engine built by Bedford on their RL platform for the Auxiliary Fire Service after the Second World War between 1953-1956 and were kept in reserve by the Home Office up until 2004. In 1977 and 2002 the Green Goddesses saw action under the command of the Army during the Fire Service strikes. The Green Goddess was finally retired in 2004 when the Fire and Rescue Service Act was passed forcing Fire Services to make their vehicles available for use even when staff are on strike. However, that was not the end of the story as a lot of the Green Goddesses were shipped to Africa for fire Service duties. Rover SD1 The SD1 was an executive car built between 1976-1986 to replace the Rover P6 that featured styling allegedly taken from the Ferrari Daytona and was the last true rover to be built at the Solihull plant. The styling was praised both by the press and public as well as having a good variety of engines in 4 cylinder, 6 cylinder or 3.5 V8 variety meant the SD1 proved popular with fleet customers and police Forces. On one occasion a SD1 carrying a liver from Stanstead airport to Cromwell Hospital in Kensington completed the 27 mile journey across London in 30 minutes. The SD1 was also used successfully in both British Touring Cars and British Rally Championships during the 1980s. Rover 75/MG ZT Another Rover, this time the last large MG/Rover car to be built in the UK The Rover 75 and sportier looking variant the MG ZT were designed by BMW for the executive car sector, and was available with a 4 cylinder, 6 cylinder or Ford Mustang 4.6 V8 and was built between 1999-2005 up to the point MG/Rover went into receivership. Three body styles were offered which included saloon, estate and long wheel base also known as the Vanden Plas which was 200mm longer in the rear passenger compartment. this model proved popular with the British Government and was used by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair. A MG ZT-T (estate) managed to break the land speed record for non production estate car reaching a top speed of 225.609mph. AEC Routemaster Just like the FX4 Taxi mentioned on our first quintessentially British vehicles list, another strong symbol of Britain is a red Routemaster double decker bus which were a pioneering design when launched, and a common sight in London from 1956 up to their withdrawal from public service in 2005. such is the Routemasters popularity with the British public is featured in a list of top ten of British design icons along side the Mini and Concorde. Austin Healey The Austin Healey is a sports car built by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) between 1959-1967 across 3 versions and ceasing production when BMC ceased trading. The Healey was available either a 2 seater or 2+2 with the most popular engine of a 3.0 litre. The Healey proved very popular in America with 91% of the Healey models being exported there. it also found success in circuit racing in the UK, Australia and America. Triumph Stag Yet another convertible graces our list but this one is both pioneering yet controversial. The Stag is a 4 seater convertible which was also fitted with a metal hard top giving the impression of a coupe. the car was pioneering for the T top roll over bar design which allegedly saved the convertible car market in the USA which at the time was under threat from being banded due to roll over safety concerns. The Stag was mainly available with a V8 engine to cater for the American market but this was to be the cars biggest drawback. The engines were notorious for overheating and having the cylinder head weld to the block due to excessive heat amongst other issues, but non the less it has developed a cult following in the UK due to its practicality and gorgeous design. Ford Escort Compared to the other vehicles on this list I have collectively included all Ford Escort variants within this list. The Escort was a economy family car built between 1968-2004 over 6 generations and was available as a hatchback, saloon, estate, van and disabled access vehicle. The Escort managed to claim the title of Britain's most popular car away from British Leyland's 1100. Not all models were based on economy car ethics though, as various sporty models were offered such as the RS1600, RS1800, Mexico, RS2000 and RS Cosworth to name but a few. The Escort also proved it self to be a very competitive rally car and the Mk1/Mk2 were the most successful. MGB GT The successor to the MGA the MGB was available as a coupe known as the MGB GT, roadster MGC and performance model known as the MGB V8 and were built between 1968-1980 but did make a comeback by Rover from 1992-1995 as a limited edition roadster V8 known as the RV8. The MGB was pioneering as it was one of the first cars to incorporate crumple safety zones into its design. The MGB was also successful in racing and notably one the 1000 miles guards race at Brand Hatch in 1965. Jensen Interceptor The Interceptor was a grand tourer built by Jenson in Birmingham between 1966-1976 in mk1, 2 and 3 which were available either as a hatchback, coupe or convertible. All Interceptor models were fitted with Chrysler V8 engines mated to a 4 speed manual or 3 speed automatic gearbox and were well equipped for their day, benefitting from electric windows, power steering, radio plus 2 speakers and a wood rimmed steering wheel all as standard with options of air conditioning or anti lock brakes. The latter, made the interceptor the first car in the world to have a form of anti lock braking system (ABS). The interceptor was the first production car to be fitted with a four wheel drive system and traction control. Overview I hope you enjoyed the second installment of our quintessential British vehicles series and don't be disappointed if your favorite didn't make the list as there will be a third and final installment.
  6. Steve runs through a selection of vehicles which defines Britain Mini A true motoring icon, the Mini was designed to be an economy family car by Austin and Rover between 1959-2000. It was fitted with a transverse engine which allowed for 80% of the vehicle space to be used for people and luggage. But also had other innovative features such as rubber cones for the suspension which saved space along with being built as a monocoque which improved handling. The Min came about due to the threat of competition from other manufactures bringing small cars to Britain such as the Fiat 500 and the Bubble car. The Mini managed to win the nations heart, not only by being very successful in rallying, even winning the Monte Carlo Rally but it also appeared in the cult classic film the Italian Job. This cemented our love affair with the Mini. Jaguar E Type Enzo Ferrari described the E Type as the most beautiful care ever made and he wasn't wrong, the body was exquisite craftmanship. it wasn't just a fancy body on rubbish mechanicals either as the E Type was built as a unity construction, V12 petrol engine which could hit 150mph and was actually based on Jaguars successful D Type Le Mans racing cars which had run the race in 1955, 1956 and 1957. Not only did the E type look prettier and out perform its rivals but what sealed the deal for most buyers was that it was cheaper too. When the E type saloon was deputed, there was such a demand for the car Jaguar had a test driver take a convertible version over to Geneva, driving on through the night to make sure it got there the following morning. It naturaly had a very successful production run being built between 1961-1975. Reliant Regal/Robin/Rialto The Reliant brand made some of the worlds most popular 3 wheeled vehicles from the 1940s right through until the year 2000. The Reliant pioneered using fibreglass to make the bodies for their vehicles along with galvanising the chassis which helped provide longevity for their products. Reliant also made their own aluminium engines Their popularity and cult status is in part thanks to a yellow Regal Supervan which featured in the TV series Only Fools and Horses. The Reliant 3 wheelers have a loyal following and friendly/social clubs. Aston Martin DB5 No list of British cars would be complete without including the Aston Martin DB5 which despite selling in limited numbers, came to fame due to its role in the James Bond 007 franchise. Roger Moore could be seen tearing round in the films with a DB5 full of futuristic gadgets such as elector seats, machine guns, smoke sprayer and the ability to drop oil slicks. One of the Bond DB5 cars was later used in the Cannonball Run film with Roger Moore behind the wheel. Due to demand the DB5 is back in production but with a limited production run. Morris Minor The Morris Minor also known as the Moggy Minor was the successor to the Morris 8 and made its depute in 1948 and remained in production until 1972 on which point over 1.6 million had been sold. The Minor was available in 2 door or 4 door saloon as well as convertible, van and as an estate known as the Traveler. Designed to be a family car the Minor was fitted with rack and pinion steering and independent suspension which was modern technology in 1948 and engines were either 1000cc or 1.1cc. the Minor bowed out of production thanks to competition with other British Leyland products such as the Mini and Austin 1100 proving more popular. However the Minor has proved popular with British culture thanks to its popularity and god looks. Bedford Val coach The Bedford Val was a 6 wheeled chassis designed by Bedford and with 4 wheel steering which was quite a novelty at the time. various coach builders built bodies for the chassis including Plaxton, Major Vega, Harrington and Dupel to name a few and were aimed at being an executive coach. They were also sold abroad to some Asian countries as well as Australia and New Zealand. Some of the coaches were used as race transporters most notably the Brabham race team had a Plaxton bodied version. However, the Coaches main claims to fame are in part due to two other British Icons, the Beetles and the film classic the Italian Job. The Beetles used a Plaxton bodied Val on their Magical Mystery Tour and in the Italian job a Harrington Legionaire coach is used as the get away vehicle to transport the 3 Minis. Austin/Carbodies/LTI FX4/Fairway Taxi The FX4/Fairway was built between 1958 and 1997 by Austin, then Carbodies and finally London Taxi International and became a symbol of Britain due to their popularity as Hakney carriages and affectionally known as the black cab. Offered with a variety of diesel engines over its life time the FX4/Fairway was replaced in 1998 with the LTI TX1 which along with its successors has managed to gain as much affection as its FX4 predecessor. Rolls Royce Silver Shadow Is still the best selling Rolls Royce model made between 1965-1980 in two versions the Shadow 1 and shadow 2, on which most found owners of Royalty or celebrities such as Freddie Mercury, Elton John and Keith Moon who famously drove his Silver Shadow into a swimming pool. The Silver Shadow was the first Rolls Royce to use unitary chassis and body construction which offered increased space. the car was powered by a v8 engine, automatic gearbox and hydropneumatics suspension which allowed it to waft down the road. Austin 7 The Austin 7 is truly the first British peoples car built between 1923-1939 and was sold as an economy known and known as the baby Austin and available as a saloon or convertible known as a tourer. It proved very successful both here and abroad and both Japanese car manufacturing and BMW both owe credit to this humble Austin as it was the first BMW car made under licence as well as being made under licence in japan after the Second World War. Also the 7 was used as the basis by Bruce Mclaran and Lotus for their first specials in racing. Overview I hope you've enjoyed looking through this list as much as I did creating it, but don't be disappointed if your favourite classic isn't on it, as there will be two further installments.
  7. Just for fun, Steve looks at a selection of kit cars you could use daily. Kit cars are a great symbol of personalisation within the motor industry and people choose them for multiple aspects such as the building process, driving or social aspect of clubs. But believe it or not there are a selection of kit cars that can be pressed into daily service if required and you might have more fun in doing so! Quantum saloon Based on the humble Mk2 Ford Fiesta mechanicals the Quantum Saloon is a fibreglass monocoque body/chassis which can carry 4 people and more sportier looking than the Fiesta counterpart. Being based on the Fiesta Mk2 has meant replacement parts are cheap and the Fiesta interior is carried over to the Saloon. Engine options range from 1.0 litre to 1.6 litre but more modern Zetec engines can be fitted which offer greater performance. Jago Geep/Sandero The Geep, later renamed the Sandero for copyright reasons with Jeep is a small light weight Willys Jeep replica. The body moulds were taken direct from a WW2 Jeep and as such it matches in size to its WW2 counterpart but has a ladder frame chassis. The Geep/Sandero was fitted with mainly Ford Anglia or Escort running gear. it also comes with either a soft top or hard top but be warned it wont keep out the weather like a regular production car. Ginetta G26/G28/G30/G31 Based on Ford Cortina mk3/Mk4 mechanicals these Ginetta models are in many ways similar to the Quantum saloon and is a fibreglass body and galvanised chassis which can carry 4 people, as well as benefiting from a more sportier look than the Cortina counterpart. Being based on the Cortina has meant replacement parts are cheap and the Cortina interior is carried over. Engine options range are the Cortina's 4 or 6 cylinder engines. However, not all the components came from the Cortina as the doors and rear windows came from the Fiesta. Quantum 2+2 Also based on Mk2 Ford Fiesta mechanicals the Quantum 2+2 is a fibreglass convertible monocoque body/chassis which can carry 2 adults and 2 children and more sportier looking than the Fiesta counterpart. Being based on the Fiesta Mk2 has meant replacement parts are cheap and the Fiesta interior is carried over to the 2+2. Engine options range from 1.0 litre to 1.6 litre but more modern Zetec engines can be fitted which offer greater performance. Sterling Nova The Nova kit car is the most futuristic looking car on this list thanks to its jaw dropping roof opening design. Despite the supercar looks, underneath you'll find a humble VW Beetle chassis or Ford Cortina running gear which helps keep running costs low. The Nova is coming back into production by Sterling Sports Cars but will have a custom chassis and various engine options including V8's. The Nova has also featured in films such as Connonball Run 2 and Death Race. Quantum H4 Based on Mk3 Ford Fiesta mechanicals the Quantum H4 is a fibreglass monocoque convertible body/chassis which can carry 2 people and more sportier looking than the Fiesta counterpart. The H4 also benefits from a unique folding roof design which allows it to be a targa top or complete convertible which is known as a Surrey top. Being based on the Fiesta Mk3 has meant replacement parts are cheap and the Fiesta interior is carried over to the Saloon. Engine options range from 1.0 litre to 1.8 litre including RS turbo and RS1800 engines for ultimate performance. Nu Dimension 911 The Nu Dimension 911 is a very good replica of the current Porsche 911 992 variant and unlike other kit car replicas Nu Dimension have based this car on the Mk1 Porsche Boxter. That's right, this is a hard top Porsche Boxter and as such all the mechanical and interior components are left alone. Instead, new body panels are grafted onto the Boxter's shell giving the look of the current 911. This replica is so accurat, that even the headlights/taillights come from the 992 911. Toyota MR2 based replicas For simplicity I have grouped these styles of kit car together but in affect they are all body conversions whereby you remove various body parts and fit/graft new ones on to give an impression of a different car. In most cases these will often be seen as Ferrari replicas styled to look like the Ferrari 355, Dino or 360 and produced by companies such as DNA. as such all the MR2 mechanicals and interior are retained to aid cheaper running costs and reasonable performance/handling. GTM Libra The Libra was developed as modern incarnation of the Midias and is a fibreglass monocoque which then has Rover Metro subframes and running gear mounted to it. Don't be fooled though as the Libra was a fantastic bit of kit and was available with Rover K series engines and can be converted to run with Honda engines. A targa model was also offered to further the cars appeal and they have been proven to be successful on the track. BMW Z3 based replicas For simplicity I have grouped these styles of kit car together but in affect they are all body conversions whereby you remove various body parts and fit/graft new ones on to give an impression of a different car. In most cases these will often be seen as Ferrari replicas styled to look like the Ferrari 250, AC Cobra or the unique Bertini GT25 and produced by companies such as Tribute Automotive or Bertini. as such all the Z3 mechanicals and interior are retained to aid cheaper running costs and reasonable performance/handling. I hope you've enjoyed this selection of kit cars and let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
  8. Steve sets out to prove you can enjoy camping with a motorhome on a budget. Motorhomes are an ideal tool to see the world whilst having all your creature comforts with you, but they tend to be expensive. If you are a handy DIYer then here are a selection of budget vans (sub £2000) ideal for motorhome conversions. LDV Convoy/Pilot The Pilot and larger version, the Convoy were the last of the infamous Sherpa vans and were made between 1996-2006. Available as a van, hightop, or minibus, they proved popular with Royal Mail, motorhome conversions and schools and the low roof 17 seat minibus proved helped LDV take 60% of the minibus market share. Most models were fitted with PSA petrol or diesel engines which were either naturally aspirated or turbo charged and all engines are known for their dependability but can be sluggish, later models were fitted with just as dependable Ford engines. What further helped their popularity is that they were made in the UK and have a 15,000 service interval plus parts are easily obtainable, but be warned LDV built these vans from the parts bins of other manufacturers so you might have to do some searching when new parts are required. The payload of the Convoy ranges from 1,085kg - 1702kg which is good going and they're cheap to buy and in hightop minibus form are popular for DIY motorhome conversions. Bedford Rascal/Suzuki Super Carry/Daihatsu Hijet/Piaggio Porter The Bedford Rascal is a micro van sold between 1986-1993 and was also sold as a Vauxhall Rascal and Suzuki Super Carry all in effect the same vehicle and available as a van or minibus. All were fitted with a mid mounted 1.0 litre engine. They proved very popular and are ideal for narrow city streets. The design is so successful it is available brand new as a piaggio Porter. The payload capacity between all models ranges from 560-1120kg. You're probably wondering why a micro van is ideal for a motorhome, well a van this size can go to places large motorhomes just simply cant fit into. This is particularly ideal for narrow roads, or streets as found with very hold historic settlements. LDV Maxus Yet another LDV graces this article and technically the Maxus was the predecessor for the Convoy mentioned previously and was launched in 2004 and built in Birmingham up until 2009 when LDV went into receivership due to lack of funds from its parent company GAZ. The Maxus was fitted with a 2.5 Italian diesel engine with a 5 speed gearbox or 6 speed automatic and proved to be a popular van with UK buyers and received high ratings. What makes the Maxus ideal for motorhome conversions is that it was available in 3 different roof heights and 2 wheelbases. As well as being offered in 3 GVW of 2.8, 3.2 and 3.5 tons. The Maxus is back in production by the Chinese SAIC manufacture as the V80 which means body panels will be readily available. Ford Transit Mk6 2000-2006 The Ford Transit, Britain's most popular van and as such the most plentiful. Available in short wheel base, long wheel base, high top van and minibus, there's certainly plenty of choice for the DIY motorhome conversion. Most common engines are the 2.0 and 2.4 Duratorq diesel engines. the 2.0 litre is front wheel drive, where as the 2.4 is rear wheel drive both of which have a 15,000 mile service interval and both mated to a 5 speed gearbox. Dependent on model they can easily cope with a ton or two of weight which is ideal for any conversion. Transits generally hold their value, but parts are cheap, plentiful and should be cheap to insure. Iveco Daily Mk3 2000-2006 Just like the Transit from the same era the Daily is available in short wheel base, long wheel base, high top van and minibus, but is a more heavy duty van with plenty of choice for the DIY motorhome conversion. Diesel engine options range from 2.3-3.0 litres and mated to either a 5 or 6 speed manual gearbox or semi automatic gearbox dependent on body style. The Daily can carry anywhere from 2.8-6.5 tons so it'll cope with all motorhome fixtures and fittings without a doubt. Mercedes Vito For the £2000 budget early Mk2 models are available predominately with the 2.1 or 2.2 CDI engine and either a manual or automatic gearbox. The Vito is available in short or long wheelbase (Vario) but the former is more common. The Vito could be spec'd with a hightop but this appears to be rare, but poptop roofs are available if you require the extra height. Mechanically the Vito is a durable van but is prone to rusting, but no much so than other vans on this list.
  9. Steve takes a look at the first new Corolla model to grace our shores in over a decade. The Toyota Corolla, the world's most popular car. But with over a ten year absence on the UK market can the current model live up to its reputation? Exterior The styling of the new Corolla fits in nicely with the rest of the Toyota lineup including the Prius and the outgoing Auris, with it low nose and raked windscreen and thin LED headghlights make the Corolla appear to have come from a sci-fi program. The rear is quite bulbous thanks to a large rear boot lip but complimented with a large rear spoiler and finished off with alloy wheels. Visibility is very good but much like most modern cars thick C pillars obstruct the drivers view but generally the cabin feels airy. Interior Sliding into the interior, you'll find the seats supportive, especially the drivers seat which has lumbar support as standard. In addition the Corolla has plenty of leg and head space for both front and rear passengers and the boot is a very good size 361 litres but is slightly smaller on the 2.0 litre. the main issue I found with boot was the large bumper lip which would make it more difficult to get bulky items such as pushchairs in the car. As you'd expect from a Toyota the fit and finish of the cabin is superb with soft touch plastics, chunky controls and overall good materials being used. Furthermore, the equipment level is excellent with climate air conditioning, parking sensors, rear camera, 7" infortainment screen with Apple carplay/Android Auto, digital radio which provides a quality sound from the speakers, as well as Bluetooth, satnav all as standard. the dials are also clear to read and nicely laid out. On the road Engaging drive on the CVT gearbox the Corolla pulls away in electric mode which is silent and effortless, when the 1.8 petrol engine kicks in it is very quiet and is supported by low wind noise but road noise is prevalent. The engine on this model is the entry level unit producing 120bhp and a 0-62 time of 10.9 seconds which isn't as powerful or quick as its Ford Focus 1.0 litre 125bhp ecoboost rival but more the suitable for most scenarios. if you do want something more spritely then there is also a 2.0 litre 177bhp hybrid version which will fit the bill. The steering on Corolla is both light and positive making it easy to control and supported by brakes which have a good feel. The suspension is quite soft ironing out most lumps and bumps. The handling is geared more for relaxed driving rather than for exuberant driving. Overview The Corolla offers the traditional Toyota quality and technology with nice styling, however performance and handling falls short of some of its rivals such as the Ford Focus. Where I feel the Corolla will excel is in the fleet sector as hire cars or company cars.
  10. Steve takes a look at 4 mass produced amphibious cars Usually when you imagine an amphibious car you think of James Bond or in military use. We often forget that there are a limited selection of mass produced amphibious cars which you can buy and use daily if you wished. Dutton Surf Tim Dutton is currently the world's leading manufacturer of amphibious cars and gas been building them for over 30 years. It's therefore no surprise two of his vehicles have made the list. The Surf has the sensible, utilitarian mechanicals of the Suzuki Jimny including it's 1.3 petrol engine, 4 wheel drive system and even the interior. The Surf can accommodate four passengers in SWB or 6 with the LWB. The top speed for the Surf is 6mph but that won't stop you having fun. On the road the Surf will drive similar to a Jimny and with 4 wheel drive it makes it easier to enter/exit the water. Gibbs Aquada Easily, the most expensive, yet most pretty car on this list the Gibbs Aquada certainly isn't cheap. But it is the only fast amphibious sports car which is powered by a 125bhp Rover engine that can go over 100mph on the road and 30mph in the water, fast enough to pull a water skier behind. Compared to the others on this list the Aquada has a high top speed in water thanks to it's deep V hull and employing water jet propulsion rather than a propeller. Amphicar No amphibious car list is complete without an Amphicar! The Amphicar is really the world's first mass produced amphibious car and still the most successful selling 4000 cars but a rare sight today thanks to it's tendency to rust. The top speed of the Amphicar in water was 6mph, definitely built more for cruising inland water ways than speeding along. They proved more popular in the USA than in Europe but they do have a loyal following. Despite having the same top speeds as the Reef and Surf on the water, the Amphicar unfortunately doesn't drive as well on the roads like it's modern counterparts. However it certainly looks prettier! Dutton Reef Unlike the Surf, the Reef is 2 wheel drive only and shares it's underpinnings from the humble mk7 Ford Fiesta, including the headlights and interior. The body is bonded fibreglass making it a monocoque design. Just like the Amphicar and the Surf the Reefs top speed is also 6mph, but you don't need speed to have fun on the water. On the road the Reef will drive very similar to a conventional Ford Fiesta and could be used on a daily basis.
  11. Steve takes a look at a selection of retro inspired vans which are either still in production or have ceased production in the last few years. It's obvious vans are designed to carry a variety and a lot of stuff efficiently, but a van also has another crucial yet often forgotten role. For business owners, vans are moving billboards for their businesses. It cannot be denied that most new vans look similar to one another making it hard to stand out. However, I've found a selection of vans that will certainly stand out from the crowd. Piaggio Porter The Piaggio Porter is a micro van which started out in life as the Bedford Rascal, Vauxhall Rascal and Suzuki Super Carry which are all in effect the same vehicle. All were fitted with a mid mounted 1.0 litre engine including the new Porter. The Porter has proved very popular in Italy and is ideal for narrow city streets and has proven to be a very successful design. The payload capacity between all models ranges from 560-1120kg, and it's available as a van, minibus, tipper, dropside or chassis cab. Piaggio have really catered for all. Brazilian Volkswagen T2 Transporter It may come as a surprise to know that the infamous T2 Transporter was in production in Brazil untill 2015. This meant the T2 outlived it's next two successors the T25 and T4. It also ceased production the same year the T5 did in Europe, but the T5 is still being produced in Mexico by Dodge, but this is a side point. Just like the 1970s Transporter the Brazilian version looks almost identical. The key differences include a radiator grill in the front to accommodate for the 1.4 water-cooled petrol engine in the rear. The same engine which was in the Polo and Fox, therefore parts are readily available and it'll be fuel efficient. Also the roof line is slightly boxier and different front bumper. Believe it or not the Brazilian T2 is more common then you'd think thanks to various companies importing them. The payload is 780kg and mpg from the 1.4 petrol you can expect 30mpg. Mercedes Vario Easily the largest van on this list, the Vario is the daddy of retro looking vans, weighing around 3500kg and Snap-On's van of choice and manufactured between 1996-2013. Those who know your Mercedes vans will know that the Vario looks very similar to a former Mercedes van, the TN Transporter, but one that's been on steroids. its actually the successor to the Mercedes T2 and has proven popular as minibuses for private and public use. It is also available in other body variants such as crewcab dropside, dropside, luton, tipper and van with cherry picker attachment to name but a few. Post 2000 models are fitted with a 4.2 litre turbo diesel engine which is available in various power outputs dependent on the body style and offered with a 5 speed manual or automatic gearbox with mpg figures of around 20mpg. as you'd expect with a van of this size the payload is impressive at 4.4 tons and a load volume of 17.4 cubic metres. Due to the vans versatility it has been popular with emergency services, postal services such as UPS Piaggio Ape The Ape is definitely the smallest van in this lineup and some would argue it's not a van at all. What cannot be denied is it's success in Italy where it is regularly seen traversing narrow city streets or winding it's way around remote villages. Fuel efficiency is guaranteed as the Ape is powered by a 50cc moped engine, but don't be fooled as it can cope with 675kg! The UK it has proven popular as mobile coffee outlets but its suitable for a variety of tasks. Citroen H Van Technically this is a conversion kit which an be installed on a Peugeot Boxer but totally transforms the appearance, for the better I say! Unlike other retro styled vans with this option you will have the benefit not the most up to date safety features, and the second largest retro inspired van after the Mercedes Vario on the market with a payload between 1,125kg to 1,570kg. The engines will up be bang up to date with emissions and fuel economy which is a further bonus. Overview I hope I've inspired you to consider a retro van for your business and to show a glimpse of the varied selection of retro vans that are out there.
  12. Steve aims to find out whether the Ford Tourneo Connect is a good used MPV purchase by driving a 2017 1.5TDCI Zetec model. The Tourneo connect is technically the passenger carrying version of the second generation transit connect and deputed in the UK in 2014. The Tourneo connect shares its underpinnings with the Ford Focus and is aimed at competing against rivals such as the Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Rift and other similar sized vans. Exterior Compared to its predecessor and current rivals Ford have tried to make the Tourneo look less boxy by having long headlights, a large raked windscreen and a short bonnet which is set low which helps with the vehicles aerodynamics. The bumpers and side cladding on the Zetec trim is bare plastic which will help protect the Tourneo from inevitable bumps and scrapes. Furthermore, the Tourneo connect is fitted with sliding passenger doors on both sides which make climbing in a doddle. The second row seats fold and slide allowing access to the 3rd row of seating. Climbing in can be interesting, and even though a 6 foot adult can do it, it is reminiscent of climbing into the back of a three door car. The boot is a conventional hatchback type, and naturally large which will require space when opening. Interior Being based on a van, you can guarantee there is plenty of head and leg space both for front and 2nd row seat passengers, however 3rd row space is more limited and long legged passengers may find it not as comfortable. The boot is a reasonable size too when the 3rd row seats are in use and can take a weekly shop or pushchair - just. This limited space is no different to other MPVs such as the Citroen C4 grand Picasso and Renault Grand Scenic. With the 3rd row folded the boot size is carnivorous and can accommodate large cargo with ease as well as an array of storage compartments including under the floor, above the drivers head and in the side panels. The interior is mainly made of hard plastics, which will be hardwearing and ideal for family abuse and overall fit and finish is better than most of its rivals. Despite the Tourneo's versatility a key drawback I have found is the lack of support in the seat, especially for longer drives, the 2nd row bench seat can take 3 adults comfortably and the 3rd row seats are two separate items where again two adults can sit side by side. one thing to watch is the 2nd row seatbelts retracting, as they have been known to not retract properly and getting caught in the sliding door mechanisms. Over time this damages the seatbelt and looks similar to a dog chewing them. if you find the Tourneo Connect you are looking at then get this replaced by the seller as its a £500 job at Ford. The equipment level is decent too with Bluetooth, DAB radio, CD player, aux connection, electric front windows and electric mirrors as standard on the entry level Style model. Air conditioning is standard on Zetec models, Titanium models can also benefit from a panoramic sunroof. On the road The 1.5TDCI in this Tourneo is the more common engine choice but there is also a 1.0 litre ecoboost petrol if you prefer. This 1.5TDCI engine is very economical with an official figure of 61.4mpg and 120g/km CO2 and is mated to a 5 speed manual gearbox. as you can probably predict the Tourneo isn't designed to be quick but acceleration is acceptable. It will sit on the motorway at 70-80 comfortably but could benefit from a 6th gear to reduce the engine noise. on country roads there is some body roll which is inevitable with a tall vehicle such as this. Also on rough roads the Tourneo Connect has a tendency to fidget and over certain large bumps it crashes over them rather than absorbing the bumps. Despite its size the wind and road noise was less than I anticipated but not as reduced as some other MPVs. Thanks to large windows and mirrors the Tourneo Connect is easy to drive and park which is also helped by light steering. The brakes are very sharp which is great on a vehicle of this size when bringing it to a stop, but I found at low speeds the brakes could be a little snatchy. Overview Overall, I feel the Toureno Connect is an MPV which offers plenty of space, economy and versatility at reasonable price, however being van based it is less refined then other conventional MPVs but if you can overlook this then you will find it to be adequate for family transport, or taxi use.
  13. Steve takes a look at a selection of vehicles that he feels are best suited for dogs. It cannot be denied we are a nation of dog lovers, and 26% of Britain's currently own at least one dog. As such I feel it important to highlight a selection of vehicles which have been designed with the transport of your canine companion in mind and I have tried to cater for most budgets. Nissan X Trail The current X Trail can be equipped with a pet pack Nissan call 4dogs. The pack transforms the boot into a comfortable compartment for your dog. Included in the pack is a wipe down interior, fold away ramp, shower, dog bowl, spill free water bowl, a boot camera with audio link so you can see and talk to your pooch on the journey, harness hook and a drying system that blows warm air into the boot. Land Rover Freelander Mk1 Despite the youngest mk1 Freelanders being 14 years old Land Rover were ahead of their time when designing the Freelander as it vehicle was graced with a boot window that could be lowered so that your dog could have fresh air either on the move or whilst left in the vehicle. Not bad for a vehicle that made us depute in 1997. Jaguar F Pace Much like Nissan's pet pack, Jaguars pet accessories also convert the 650L boot into a nice dog transportation system which just like the Nissan includes wipe down interior, fold away ramp, shower, dog bowl, spill free water bowl. Skoda Superb Estate Despite no pet packs being available for the Superb it has still made the list due to it's low boot entry and flat floor, combined with 660 Litres of boot space makes it ideal for your dog. Furthermore the superb is very ice handling car which will make the journey more pleasant for you and your dog. Aston Martin DBX The DBX is Aston Martins first attempt at an SUV and is available with a petpack which includes a bumper protector, partition to transport to dogs in comfort as well as a wipe down interior and portable shower. Dacia Logan MCV Dacia has really made a name for itself in recent years with economical motoring and the Logan MCV is no exception. The robust interior should stand up to punishment from even the most energetic of dogs and they'll have ample space as the boot as a respectable 573 litres. Land Rover Discovery Sport Yet another Land Rover has made it into this list and much like it's Freelander predecessor the Discovery Sport also caters for dogs. The Disco is available with a pet pack which includes a boot that can take 981 litres, a folding ramp which can cope with 85kg abd a 6.5 litre portable shower. I appreciate the picture depicts a Range Rover but the pet accessories are the same. Mercedes E Class W213 Just like the Skoda, the E Class has a carnivorous boot that will take 670 litres. Furthermore the E Class has great roadholding which is ideal when transporting the most travel sick of dogs. Peugeot Rifter I know some will argue that the rifter technically is more related to a van than a car, what cannot be denied is it's ability to transport a dog in comfort thanks to 771 litres of boot space and lower boot floor. There's even an array of storage compartments for your assortment of doggy accessories. Volvo V70 Mk2 Launched in 2007 and ended production in 2016 the V70 is a very capable hauler thanks to it's 575 litres of boot space and lower entry make it ideal for dogs. Chrysler Grand Voyager MK2 I'll appreciate this is an oddball but one you should consider if you need to transport 7 people plus a dog. The Grand Voyager offers van like space but with the luxuries of an executive car. The boot can hold 756 litres with all 7 seats in situ which is very impressive when you consider that you couldn't swing a cat in the boot of the Citroen C4 Grand Picasso, Renault Grand Scenic and even the Ford Galaxy when the 3rd row of seats are in use as they take up most of the boot space. Ford Focus mk4 Estate Despite not being ba large estate car the Focus is still capable of transporting your dog with reasonable comfort thanks to 608 litres of boot space and an adjustable boot floor. I hope this list has helped you when choosing your next dog friendly car. Thanks for reading.

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