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The Motorists Guide

Steve Q

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  1. The W212 E class – the successor to the venerable W211 model, but is it better? Steve drives a 2016 facelift model to find out The Mercedes W212 E Class was originally launched in 2009 to replace the well-built W211 version, which itself had helped recover Mercedes reputation at building reliable, long lasting cars after the quality control issues of the late 1990s/early 2000s. There was no doubt that both the car and Mercedes engineers had big shoes to fill but thankfully the gamble paid off as the new model was able to build on the good reputation of its forbearer. The W212 was not only bigger than the previous model it was also more refined. The W212 is available in saloon, estate, coupe and convertible body styles which differed from the previous two E class models as they were only available in saloon or estate. With adding the coupe and convertible to the model lists it meant Mercedes could go back to its routes and provided a link to the original world famous W124 E class which paved the way for Mercedes in building tough, large luxury cars. Another hark back to the past can be seen in the W212 styling as the angular pre-facelift front end not only looked more aggressive, it also brought itself back to the boxy, straight-edged W124. The W212 also gained flared (ponton) rear arches which too were a hint of the past as Mercedes designers took styling cues from 1950s/1960s vehicles. With all the historic touches in the W212 you’d be forgiven to think that the car itself is stuck in the past but nothing could be further from the truth. The W212 was the first model of E class to be fitted with lane departure warning (option), drowsiness detection and road sign recognition. Other safety features include blind spot detection as an option as well as neck pro head restraints which are connected to sensors to the vehicle and can predict a rear end shunt. The head restraints adjust to reduce the risk of a whiplash injury. Furthermore, there are plenty of engine choices available to cater for all needs, whether you’re using the W212 E Class for taxi duty or a performance saloon ideally suited to the autobahn. There are four petrol engines on offer for the E Class comprising of the 4 cylinder E200 (184hp) and E250 (211hp), or the stonking powerhouses of the 5.5 litre AMG or E63 AMG V8 engines which the latter produces 557 hp along with 720Nm of torque. There are also three diesel engines available which include the E220 (170hp) or E250 (204hp) which are both 4 cylinder engines. The biggest diesel engine is the E350 V6 which produces 252hp/620Nm torque and is by far the smoothest diesel engine in the range. The V6 comes equipped with BlueTEC for further efficiency and reduced Co2 emissions. This is achieved by a combination of Adblue technology, and high injection pressure with piezo injectors. Mercedes claim the V6 was the cleanest diesel engine when the W212 facelift was launched and reduces Nitrogen emissions by 90%. Unusually there is also a E300 diesel hybrid which has 204hp combined with 500Nm of torque which is thanks to the electric motor. Like most other hybrid systems the vehicle will run on electric up to 30mph then convert to running on the combustion engine. I feel this variant would be ideally suited for taxi service due to the fuel economy, cheap tax, and manufacture MPG figures of 62 combined. The only drawback for this model is the towing rate as it can only tow 300kg. This brings me neatly onto the topic of the facelifted E Class which debuted in 2012 and benefitted with new LED adaptive headlights, updated front bumper, grill and bonnet along with other subtle cosmetic tweaks and alleged cost Mercedes 1 billion euros in design and development. The facelift brought the E Class into line with other newer models within the Mercedes range and brought to an end the dual headlight setups. The interior also received mini tweaks but otherwise remained unchanged from the preface lift. I personally prefer the facelift W212 but my only criticism is the lacking of the raised 3 pointed star on the bonnet, but I believe this can be easily fitted for those like me who would still want the raised star by replacing the flat Mercedes emblem on the bonnet. Driving the Mercedes W212 E Class The car I have on test a 2016 Night Edition saloon which is one of the last cars built and fitted with the 350 V6 diesel engine and nine-speed 9G-Tronic gearbox. Being a Night Edition this particular special edition is fitted with a black painted roof, door mirrors, and bumper inserts as well as having AMG styling including the front bumpers and wheels. This particular car also has the panoramic sunroof option, black leather interior, parking sensors with reversing camera, Bluetooth, satnav, dual zone climate control, xenon headlights, LED rear lights and a DAB radio. Climbing into the cabin the E Class is equipped with a generous helping of leather on the electric memory seats and door cards and joined by chrome handles, inserts, vents, switches, and a gorgeous chrome edges analogue clock set within the dash. As you’d expect the cabin is of very good quality with soft touch plastics and all switches set with the centre console. The cabin is also fitted with ambient lighting and aluminium dash inserts, but the crown jewel is a well-positioned multimedia screen which controls the DAB radio, Bluetooth, satnav and reverse camera which has all been previously mentioned. I found the seats very comfortable and easily adjusted with the electric functions which are found on the doors. Rear legroom and headroom are very generous too even for those who are 6ft. This excludes the coupe version where even at 5ft 8” my head touched the headlining. Legroom also is a problem on the coupe for those with long legs. The estate version can also have the added practicality of a rear-facing bench seat, which increases the seating capacity to seven. Turning the key the V6 settles to a smooth quiet idle and to set off the column shifter stalk is pressed down. This differs from the W211 as the automatic gearbox was controlled via a lever between the seats or with the paddle shifter behind the steering wheel on sport models. On the open road, the 350 V6 engine and auto gearbox are very refined, the engine being smooth under acceleration and changed effortlessly by the gearbox. It’s also worth noting that the 9-speed box differs very little from the 7 speed which is also offered on certain W212 models. The benefit of the 9 speed include, ever so slightly smoother gear changes and the extra gears help with economy but the only niggle we found was that it would have a tendency to change more often. But I must stress that we are nit-picking really and it is a superb gearbox. I drove the E Class in a mixture of town, country and motorway driving and the V6 diesel achieved between 25-32mpg but I feel this could be increased on very long journeys. Other areas of the driving experience were great too, the steering was light yet responsive and was supported by a sublime suspension set up which ironed out most bumps in the road. Air suspension is an optional extra on the W212 for the rear but I found the coils and dampers are this car gave a ride that felt no real difference compared to the air suspension. If anything its better as it’s less to go wrong, as the air suspension on any car can become notoriously tricky to repair if it breaks. However, in terms of reliability, I feel that the W212 E Class a further improvement on the previous model both in refinement and build quality and to prove Mercedes trust in this model the body shell has a 30-year perforation guarantee which is one of the longest warranties on the market today. Hopefully, Mercedes have finally managed to banish the rust demons of the 1990s, that dogged the company and affected its reputation. But thankfully they have managed to rebound from the dark days and offer products which exceed that of the infamous W124 series. The Motorists Guide View Overall I found the W212 E Class one of the best cars I have tested for AutoEvoke and couldn’t fault it in any area. I found the build quality superb with no rattles or squeaks and the driving characteristics wonderfully balanced, compliant and comfortable. Would I own one? I’d say yes, without a shadow of a doubt and I feel that Mercedes are finally back on form with dependable and robust large luxury cars. Dimensions Length: 4879mm (saloon) Width: 2071mm (including wing mirrors) Height: 1474mm (saloon)
  2. 322 miles in one day. Steve travelled to Las Vegas to take a 2018 Ford Mustang convertible on a short road trip through too glorious states. Las Vegas – a city synonymous for gambling, partying and generally a play ground for the rich and famous. However, what if you want a change from the hustle and bustle of the city and see more of what the silver state has to offer? The answer is to hire a car and I have devised a perfect road trip which allows you enjoy some of the amazing scenery, ghost towns, mining towns and route 66 which all helped make the states of Nevada and Arizona both famous and rich. Below is a picture of the planned route. Tips for driving in Nevada & Arizona · You can turn right onto a road even if your traffic light sequence is on red if it is safe to do so. · We would recommend obeying the speed limits as he had been warned we would see lots of Police cars. We only saw four marked Police vehicles but there were probably plenty of unmarked cars we didn’t see! · Plan your route as phone signal can be limited in certain remote locations. · Fuel stations can be limited when you’re out in the desert and as such we would recommend not letting the fuel tank fall below the ¼ tank mark. · Always where your seatbelt whilst driving · Never pass a school bus with the stop sign out. · Never use your mobile phone whilst driving except through a hands free device. · Children 6 years or younger are required to have a child restraint system. · Do not drink and drive. Speed limits 15mph - School Zones 25mph - residential areas 45mph - Areas going into towns 65mph - Urban freeways, rural highways 70mph - Rural interstate freeways Our recommendations · Don’t stop at fort Mohave unless you require a break · Do visit the Hoover Dam · Consider visiting Chloride ghost town (off route 93) · Take plenty of pictures Have fun! Starting location Most of the car rental companies are situated near to the McCarran Airport, which are a short taxi ride from most of the hotels situated near to the strip and cost approximately $20 for a ride there or back. To get the best deals on hire cars my advice is to book as early as possible and pay in full at the time of booking. Besides getting a cheaper price this also allows you to splash out on a nicer vehicle is desired. For example a similar Ford Mustang to the one I have on test would cost you £111 from Alamo if booked months in advance, whereas on the day it would have cost you more than double the price. The rental charge is for a full 24 hours from the time of booking and we’d recommend collecting your car at around 7am. This sounds early, but believe me the trip is worth it. Rental car location address: McCarran Airport Rental Car Return, 7231 Gilespie St, Las Vegas, NV 89119, USA Red Rock Canyon The first point of interest on our road trip is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area and features a 12 mile drive around beautiful scenery. Leaving the rental car lot its approximately a 30 minute drive to Red Rock Canyon along Route 215 & 159. Arriving at red Rock there is a toll booth where you pay the $15 vehicle fee to drive around the site. You will not be disappointed in spending the $15 as the views are breath taking and the following pictures do not do the area justice. Red Rock address: Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center, 1000 Scenic Loop Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89161, USA Nelson ghost town After leaving red rock Canyon you have to back track yourself along route 215 and subsequently join the freeway, which becomes route 95 that takes you directly out of Las Vegas and into the wonderful Nevada desert. You need to keep an eye out though for the left turn for route 165 which takes you directly to Nelson. However there are two parts of Nelson, the first part that will come into view is the more modern buildings. Don’t stop here, instead carry on around the corner and you’ll be met by the rustic mining town. Once you’ve parked the car, head over to the visitor centre to check in and be given relevant safety information but to be fair your main danger is rattle snakes. The owners of the ghost town are lovely and they kindly ask if you’re going to take lots of pictures to pay a measly $10. The visitor centre does have cold drinks for sale in the freezer, but be warned you might get a surprise, as the carcases of the rattle snake caught in that year are kept in there! Nelson is lovingly preserved and you cannot be impressed by the town’s charm. From Red Rock Canyon, Nelson is an hour’s drive and approximately 60miles . Nelson address: Nelson, NV 89046, USA Colorado River As you leave Nelson turn right out of the carpark to head through the Eldorado Canyon and drive the 5 miles approx to the majestic Colorado River. You’ll find the road is a dead end but offers great views of the surrounding area. Oatman Arizona Leaving the Colorado River you head back along the 165 and re-join the 95 to head towards Arizona. On our trip we stopped at the town Fort Mohave which was 1 hour 35 minutes from Nelson but other than getting a bite to eat we didn’t find anything else of note at the town. Therefore we’d recommend driving straight through the town to another famous ghost town – Oatman. To get to Oatman you have to come off route 95 and take route 163 through the Mesquite creek to reach the town. On the way you’ll go through, yet more stunning scenery in the Mojave Desert. As you get nearer to Oatman you’ll discover that you have come onto the world famous Route 66 which not only passes through Oatman but will take you to our next destination as well. Oatman is another well preserved ghost town with plenty of shops, bar and hotel. There’s also a small mine you can enter as well as a jail and museum which were both closed on our visit. It’s worth noting that if you intend to visit the town on a weekend, they often do wild west style shoot outs on the main road. Another curiosity for the town are the semi wild Burros that roam the streets. These donkey like creatures were once domesticated in the twos boom years but as they escaped from their owners throughout the decades the breed became more wild. But it has to be said they love to be fed and fussed over! Kingman Arizona Leaving Oatman, you continue along the historic Route 66 for just under an hour to arrive at the town of Kingman. However before I discuss Kingman I want to talk about the fantastic drive to the town via the world’s most famous highway. The drive between Oatman and Kingman is breath-taking but can alos be dangerous if you chose to drive irresponsibly. The stretch of 66 we were on had shear drops, uneven surfaces at the edge of the highway and tight turns. It is truly an amazing experience but as already mentioned it would not suffer fools. On arriving at Kingman there is a fantastic traditional diner where food and drink is served with enthusiasm. The staff were friendly and genuinely interested in talking to us both about our trip but also about the UK. Next to the diner was a second-hand car lot which sold muscle cars and hotrods which stood out. I definitely wanted one or two! Unfortunately because we had arrived at Kingman at 9pm not a lot of places were open and couldn’t get a full flavour of what the town had to offer. After we were finished at the diner we picked up route 93 and headed back towards Las Vegas with a plan to visit the Hoover Dam before it closed at 9pm. unfortunately we arrived 15 minutes late and thus couldn’t visit the Dam. After this setback we decided to return the car to the rental company and which concluded our road trip. The Motorists Guide View: Thanks for reading our Nevada & Arizona road trip, we hope we have inspired you to complete a US road trip of your own and we can assure you that you won't be disappointed! Have you done a road trip that you think we should consider doing? Then don’t hesitate to contact us! Read the Ford Mustang review here
  3. 322 miles in one day. Steve travelled to Las Vegas to take a 2018 Ford Mustang convertible on a short road trip through too glorious states. Las Vegas – a city synonymous for gambling, partying and generally a play ground for the rich and famous. However, what if you want a change from the hustle and bustle of the city and see more of what the silver state has to offer? The answer is to hire a car and I have devised a perfect road trip which allows you enjoy some of the amazing scenery, ghost towns, mining towns and route 66 which all helped make the states of Nevada and Arizona both famous and rich. Below is a picture of the planned route. Tips for driving in Nevada & Arizona · You can turn right onto a road even if your traffic light sequence is on red if it is safe to do so. · We would recommend obeying the speed limits as he had been warned we would see lots of Police cars. We only saw four marked Police vehicles but there were probably plenty of unmarked cars we didn’t see! · Plan your route as phone signal can be limited in certain remote locations. · Fuel stations can be limited when you’re out in the desert and as such we would recommend not letting the fuel tank fall below the ¼ tank mark. · Always where your seatbelt whilst driving · Never pass a school bus with the stop sign out. · Never use your mobile phone whilst driving except through a hands free device. · Children 6 years or younger are required to have a child restraint system. · Do not drink and drive. Speed limits 15mph - School Zones 25mph - residential areas 45mph - Areas going into towns 65mph - Urban freeways, rural highways 70mph - Rural interstate freeways Our recommendations · Don’t stop at fort Mohave unless you require a break · Do visit the Hoover Dam · Consider visiting Chloride ghost town (off route 93) · Take plenty of pictures Have fun! Starting location Most of the car rental companies are situated near to the McCarran Airport, which are a short taxi ride from most of the hotels situated near to the strip and cost approximately $20 for a ride there or back. To get the best deals on hire cars my advice is to book as early as possible and pay in full at the time of booking. Besides getting a cheaper price this also allows you to splash out on a nicer vehicle is desired. For example a similar Ford Mustang to the one I have on test would cost you £111 from Alamo if booked months in advance, whereas on the day it would have cost you more than double the price. The rental charge is for a full 24 hours from the time of booking and we’d recommend collecting your car at around 7am. This sounds early, but believe me the trip is worth it. Rental car location address: McCarran Airport Rental Car Return, 7231 Gilespie St, Las Vegas, NV 89119, USA Red Rock Canyon The first point of interest on our road trip is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area and features a 12 mile drive around beautiful scenery. Leaving the rental car lot its approximately a 30 minute drive to Red Rock Canyon along Route 215 & 159. Arriving at red Rock there is a toll booth where you pay the $15 vehicle fee to drive around the site. You will not be disappointed in spending the $15 as the views are breath taking and the following pictures do not do the area justice. Red Rock address: Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center, 1000 Scenic Loop Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89161, USA Nelson ghost town After leaving red rock Canyon you have to back track yourself along route 215 and subsequently join the freeway, which becomes route 95 that takes you directly out of Las Vegas and into the wonderful Nevada desert. You need to keep an eye out though for the left turn for route 165 which takes you directly to Nelson. However there are two parts of Nelson, the first part that will come into view is the more modern buildings. Don’t stop here, instead carry on around the corner and you’ll be met by the rustic mining town. Once you’ve parked the car, head over to the visitor centre to check in and be given relevant safety information but to be fair your main danger is rattle snakes. The owners of the ghost town are lovely and they kindly ask if you’re going to take lots of pictures to pay a measly $10. The visitor centre does have cold drinks for sale in the freezer, but be warned you might get a surprise, as the carcases of the rattle snake caught in that year are kept in there! Nelson is lovingly preserved and you cannot be impressed by the town’s charm. From Red Rock Canyon, Nelson is an hour’s drive and approximately 60miles . Nelson address: Nelson, NV 89046, USA Colorado River As you leave Nelson turn right out of the carpark to head through the Eldorado Canyon and drive the 5 miles approx to the majestic Colorado River. You’ll find the road is a dead end but offers great views of the surrounding area. Oatman Arizona Leaving the Colorado River you head back along the 165 and re-join the 95 to head towards Arizona. On our trip we stopped at the town Fort Mohave which was 1 hour 35 minutes from Nelson but other than getting a bite to eat we didn’t find anything else of note at the town. Therefore we’d recommend driving straight through the town to another famous ghost town – Oatman. To get to Oatman you have to come off route 95 and take route 163 through the Mesquite creek to reach the town. On the way you’ll go through, yet more stunning scenery in the Mojave Desert. As you get nearer to Oatman you’ll discover that you have come onto the world famous Route 66 which not only passes through Oatman but will take you to our next destination as well. Oatman is another well preserved ghost town with plenty of shops, bar and hotel. There’s also a small mine you can enter as well as a jail and museum which were both closed on our visit. It’s worth noting that if you intend to visit the town on a weekend, they often do wild west style shoot outs on the main road. Another curiosity for the town are the semi wild Burros that roam the streets. These donkey like creatures were once domesticated in the twos boom years but as they escaped from their owners throughout the decades the breed became more wild. But it has to be said they love to be fed and fussed over! Kingman Arizona Leaving Oatman, you continue along the historic Route 66 for just under an hour to arrive at the town of Kingman. However before I discuss Kingman I want to talk about the fantastic drive to the town via the world’s most famous highway. The drive between Oatman and Kingman is breath-taking but can alos be dangerous if you chose to drive irresponsibly. The stretch of 66 we were on had shear drops, uneven surfaces at the edge of the highway and tight turns. It is truly an amazing experience but as already mentioned it would not suffer fools. On arriving at Kingman there is a fantastic traditional diner where food and drink is served with enthusiasm. The staff were friendly and genuinely interested in talking to us both about our trip but also about the UK. Next to the diner was a second-hand car lot which sold muscle cars and hotrods which stood out. I definitely wanted one or two! Unfortunately because we had arrived at Kingman at 9pm not a lot of places were open and couldn’t get a full flavour of what the town had to offer. After we were finished at the diner we picked up route 93 and headed back towards Las Vegas with a plan to visit the Hoover Dam before it closed at 9pm. unfortunately we arrived 15 minutes late and thus couldn’t visit the Dam. After this setback we decided to return the car to the rental company and which concluded our road trip. The Motorists Guide View: Thanks for reading our Nevada & Arizona road trip, we hope we have inspired you to complete a US road trip of your own and we can assure you that you won't be disappointed! Have you done a road trip that you think we should consider doing? Then don’t hesitate to contact us!
  4. The Ford Mustang – an American icon but does the 2018 model make a viable purchase? Steve went to Las Vegas to find out. I start this car review in an unusual fashion, as I have a confession to make. When I landed at the Las Vegas McCarran airport I was expecting to be driving away in the 5.0 V8 version of the Mustang, however, due to a mix up I, in fact, ended up with a turbocharged four-cylinder 2.3 Ecoboost version with the automatic gearbox. However, I must stress that the Ecoboost engine isn’t lacking in performance as it produced 313bhp and 319 of torque. Unperturbed I felt this to be more fitting to our UK readers where the Ecoboost engine makes more financial sense, both in purchase cost and running cost. Walking up to the Mustang it cannot be denied that it has road presence, especially in the eye-popping race red which looked stunning and seemed fitting for this American legend. Since the turn of the millennium, various car manufacturers have tried to mimic their retro-inspired designs of yesteryear with varying success. The Volkswagen Beetle and the Chrysler PT Cruiser immediately spring to mind but even Ford followed suit with the previous Mustang version. However, with the current Mustang, I feel Ford got the look spot on. I liked the front end with its swooping vented bonnet which was nicely matched to the aggressive looking lights and large vents. The side profile was nice too with bulging arches and topped off with a classic Mustang-derived rear end with signature rear light clusters. My only criticism is if found was with the alloy wheels which didn’t fill the arches enough but do give the Mustang a nice ride. Opening the door you are welcomed to mustang horse puddle lights and illuminated Mustang sill plates which invite you to slide into the black leather bucket seat. I found the interior welcoming and well presented with the dials clear and nicely positioned in the instrument cluster. The seat was both comfortable and supportive which would become crucial on the long drive that lay ahead. I also found the seating and steering wheel controls easily adjusted as well as finding the other switches well positioned. However I felt the aircon switches could have been better presented, but this could be more due to my poor eyesight rather than a fault with the design! The interior felt well built with a mixture of plastics used and certainly felt no different to interiors of vehicles found in Europe. It cannot be denied that the Mustang is well equipped and even in this entry-level version you get keyless ignition, DAB radio, Bluetooth technology, and reverse camera as standard. After I located the engine start button I then found the second most important button (in my opinion) on the convertible, the roof switches. Ford has made this an effortless affair by having both a twist handle to unlock/lock the roof into place, and then a button to raise and lower the fabric roof which glides neatly behind the rear seats. Pressing the start button the engine bursts into life and settles to a nice burble but I do admit I missed the V8 soundtrack. Driving in traffic was a doddle, with a good amount of torque to help you pull away at traffic lights and visibility was good on the whole with the roof either up or down. The exception I found to be the door mirrors which I felt were designed more for form rather than function. Moving onto the freeway I found the Ecoboost engine very refined and gave a nice engine note when accelerating but settled down and quiet when cruising. I found the automatic gearbox adequate but some changes were jerky which hampered the experience slightly. As you’d expect there was a lot of wind noise when going over 70mph with the roof down but I didn’t find the wind to be an issue. I was very impressed with how the roof reduced wind noise when up, and found it wasn’t far off what you’d find with a solid roof. There were no squeaks or rattles to note either which certainly impressed me, especially as convertibles can suffer from scuttle shake caused by uneven road surfaces or under acceleration as the chassis flexes. One key concern for UK buyers will be fuel economy, but I found the Mustang on par with vehicles of a similar size and engine setup as I was averaging 22-24mpg but bare in mind this is American gallon, not European gallon. Turning off the Freeway and driving onto the historic Route 66 your thoughts of fuel economy quickly disappear as you’re presented with stunning scenery and various twists and turns. On the bends, the Mustang handles very well, with limited body roll and feels planted to the road, but you soon appreciate the width of the car which will make the car interesting on UK roads. The good handling is matched with sharp brakes which were certainly ideal when we were met with a burro in the middle of the road just outside the Arizona town of Oatman. Heading towards Kingman and with the night closing in the Mustangs automatic headlights kicked in and gave great illumination. Furthermore, the cold set in and as such the roof was put up and heater activated. I found the heater warmed the cabin very efficiently which is aided by having dual climate control. After stopping for a coffee break in Kingman we headed for our return journey back to Las Vegas which the Mustang completed effortlessly. The Motorists Guide view Overall I found the Mustang a joy to drive and despite covering 600 miles in it I didn’t feel tired or uncomfortable afterward. I found it to be well put together as well as being nicely appointed. However, no car is perfect and the Mustang isn’t without issues such as the occasionally jerky automatic gearbox and small wing mirrors to name a couple. If you are in the market for a convertible sports car then I would recommend you consider the Mustang due to its value for money in comparison to its competitors and you’ll certainly exclusivity on UK roads.
  5. Steve Q

    2018 Ford Mustang Convertible

    Changed GOOD POINTS to Good value for money compared to its competitors Well equipped
  6. Steve gets behind the wheel of a 3rd generation E class to see whether it is a used car gem. The Mercedes W211 E class was launched in 2002 to replace the notoriously rust prone W210 model. There was a lot riding on this new E class and most importantly Mercedes reputation, due to build quality issues affecting various models of Mercedes both in the late 1990s and into the start of the 21st century. This new model E Class was only available in two body styles, either saloon or estate and three spec levels were offered on release which were; Classic, Elegance and Advantgarde. Even the entry level Classic spec was well equipped and benefited from climate air conditioning, cruise control, alloy wheels, heated washer jets and rain sensing wipers. The Elegence trim added interior touches such as wood trim, leather trimmed steering wheel/gear knob and the top spec Advantgade benefited from part leather trim, Xenon headlights, LED rear lights and specific five spoke alloy wheels. Various engine options were available including a good array of diesel engines which reflected the market at the time, as diesels were in favour with buyers and the government. The options were; 220CDI, 270CDI (prefaclift only), 280CDI and 320CDI in diesel form. On the other hand petrol buyers weren’t forgotten about as the E Class was available as a 200, 320 (V6) or a 500 (V8) which was fitted to the AMG and later replaced by the E63 at the end of production. The key to a long engine life for any Mercedes is regular maintenance and this should help reduce some issues. One key issue on CDI engines are injector seal failure and this can be sotted by a rough running engine and a fuel smell in the cabin. As you would expect it is not cheap to repair and you’ll be looking roughly up to £500. Also bearings for the super chargers pulley can fail especially on cars that have covered more than 100,000 miles. Due to the age of most W211 cars, most will have covered more than 100k so it’s worth checking the service history for this work being carried out. Unfortunately the early cars weren’t without faults, but compared to the previous rusty W210 the W211 suffered from electrical and mechanical gremlins. The most important electrical issue to watch out for on early cars, those built up to 2005 are faults with the Sensotronic Brake Control (SBC) system. The SBC system was designed to be a form of anti-skid control and was able to make adjustments to brake pressure to help keep the car more stable under braking. However the system has been known to fail and even Mercedes replaced the SBC units when the cars were within warranty. Due to the amount of customer complaints/system issues Mercedes reverted to a hydraulic system for the facelift model. In addition, one key issue with early E class models is with the radiator which has been known to leak into the gearbox oil cooler. This ultimately jams the torque converter and can result in an expensive bill but only affects models built up to 2003 and fitted with a Valeo radiator. Mercedes facelifted the E class for the 2006 model year and thankfully this rectified a lot of the early faults and around 2000 improvements were made, including to the performance and handling. The facelift was graced with new headlights, grill and bumper which helped improve the styling. For the facelift a sport spec was also added which was fitted with 18” wheels, cornering lights, stiffer suspension, gear shift paddles and cost £1,470 as an optional extra on the estate and a whopping £3,570 on the saloon. As you would expect safety wasn’t neglected either and the facelifted E Class was fitted with a tyre pressure monitoring system as well as adaptive braking system which flash the brake lights to warn cars behind of sudden braking. If the car behind still fails to stop the E Class is fitted with PRE SAFE occupant protection and neck pro head restraints which both prepare the occupants and vehicle for an imminent impact. Driving the W211 Mercedes E Class The car I have on test is a facelift 2006 280CDI estate model with the optional extra sport trim which has covered 133,000 miles. Sliding into the comfy leather seat it is clear to see that this model of E Class differs greatly from its boxy predecessors. The cabin is light and airy as well as having a dash that curves and gives the E Class a modern, yet sophisticated look and is very well laid out. The front seats are easily adjusted thanks to the electric adjustment and memory feature as well as being heated which is ideal for the up and coming winter. This is also supported with the reach and rake adjusted from the leather steering wheel. Turning the key and the V6 diesel engine fires and quickly settles to a smooth idle. Engaging drive and pulling away it is clear that the V6 diesel has brisk acceleration which is further helped from the 7 speed GTRONIC gearbox, both of which present no drama. The W211 E Class was highly praised for its handling characteristics, with great body control/neutral handling and this particular car is no exception. The ride is very compliant and absorbs bumps well, which is impressive as the sport model has the stiffer suspension but is supported with self-levelling Airmatic air suspension on the rear. Furthermore the steering is precise and gives the driver confidence to push the car into the corners. As you’d expect the braking system is more than adequate to stop this autobahn stormer, and can bring the car to a stop in half the distance of the Highway Codes distances which is impressive for a car of this size and weight. On examining the cabin it is clear that the interior is built well and very electrical item was working and the interior was showing no real signs of wear, other than on the driver seat bolster. There is a generous amount of leg and head room for rear passengers as well as having a carnivorous boot which can also be fitted with optional extra rear facing seats. The Motorists Guide View The W211 E Class was a very expensive car when new but now they can be obtained for as little as £1500 and are exceptional value for money. But be warned there will be a lot of cheap E class cars out there which are suffering from mechanical or electrical issues, and as such a comprehensive service history is a must. Cars that are in good, cared for condition will provide fantastic family transport as well as providing good levels of comfort, equipment and safety and it is a car I would strongly recommend. Dimensions Saloon Length: 4,818mm (15ft 10in) Width: 1,822mm (6ft 0in) Height: 1,452mm (4ft 9in) Luggage capacity: 540 litres (rear seats up) Estate Length: 4,850mm (16’ 0”) Width: 1,822mm (6’ 0”) Height: 1,495mm (4’ 11”) Luggage capacity: (rear seats up): 690 litres. Luggage capacity: (rear seats down): 1,950 litres. Kerb weight: 1,785kg – 1,885kg
  7. In the last week both motoring fans and Hollywood have been mourning the loss of a true filming icon, Burt Reynolds who sadly passed away from a heart attack at the age of 82 in Florida. As a fitting tribute Steve looks through some of the cars that starred alongside him during some his most memorable films. Pontiac Firebird Trans Am – Smokey and the bandit One of Burt Reynolds defining films was Smokey and the Bandit which was released in 1977 and featured a 1976/1977 Tans Am which was used as a diversion to keep cops off the trail of the illegal cargo in the back of the truck. After the film sales for the Trans Am rocketed and Reynolds was also also gifted one of the Trans Am promo cars. 1979 Dodge Sportsman Ambulance – Cannonball Run The 1981 film Cannonball run involved a road race and was loosely based on the real 1979 Running the Cannonball race, but not only that the ambulance was used both the actual race and then starred in the film. This was No coincidence as the director for the Cannonball Run had raced the ambulance. 1971 International Scout – Deliverance In this 1974 film Reynolds drives a 1971 International Scout. This 800B model was one of the last of the Mk1 Couts before it was replaced by the Mk2 version. 1968 Chevrolet Camero – Cop and a half Cop and a half was a 1993 comedy which featured Reynolds as a cop who teams up with an 8 year old boy to solve a murder investigation. The film Reynolds drives a 1968 Chevrolet Camero which is fitted with a SS badge. However it is unknown if this car was a real SS as it did not have the SS bonnet. 1974 Citroen SM – Longest Yard This Citroen SM featured in the 1974 film the longest Yard but is only seen in the first few scenes. In the film Reynolds takes the car from his angry girlfriend when intoxicated. She reports the car stolen and a police chase ensues, which ends with the Citroen sinking in water after being pushed off a dock. 1975 Porsche 935 replica – Cannonball Run Compared to the Dodge ambulance mentioned previously this Porsche 935 replica only stars briefly in the film and is based on a 1969 Porsche 911. However those vital scenes gave us too important parts of the film, the first was captain Chaos but also the line “anti radar paint, turbo charged. JJ, nothing can stop us now! Nothing!” As can be suspected this did not go well and the car crashes after encountering a Police roadblock. 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am – Hooper This 1978 film is about an aging stuntman who wants to prove he’s still got the skills to do this risky line of work. Hooper was realised after Smokey and the Bandit which could partially explain why a Trans Am was used in Reynolds next film. The Pontiac in question was used in the second half of the film and is used for the films climatic ending where its jumps a 323ft gorge. 1978 GMC k10 stepside – Hooper Another noticeable cars used in the film Hooper is this GMC k10. In the first part of the film Reynolds drives this modified GMC pickup and it is featured in one of the films best scenes when he is pulled over by the police doing 55mph in reverse. 1971 Ford 500 – White Lightening White Lightening was released in 1973 and would be Burt Reynolds first car movie. In the film Reynolds, an ex-convict is employed by the Police to catch a corrupt sheriff who killed his brother and runs a moonshining ring. In the film Reynolds used a modified Ford 500 which was fitted with 429cu V8.
  8. Steve Q

    Fitting a sunstrip

    Sunstrips can both be aesthetically pleasing and yet very useful. The concept actually originates to the 1970s, where certain cars would be fitted with a green tint across the top of the windscreen. Then in the 1980s and 1990s it was quite common to see racing cars being fitted with sunstrips to not only block out the sun, but also provide extra sponsorship space on the vehicle. This craze then later filtered onto both the modified car scene for a racey look, and the commercial vehicle sector to provide a space for company sign writing. If you would like to fit a sunstrip either for vehicle modification, company advertising or just to block out the sun on winter days then here’s our fitting guide: Step 1 Wash the windscreen. This might seem obvious but if you don’t then the sunstrip might not stick properly to the windscreen. Step 2 Place the strip on the car (unstuck!) to measure your desired width of the sunstrip, and then mark the point with tape (we used blutak). You may need an assistant to help with this and also remember the sunstrip can NOT be in the wipers sweep or cover more than 25% of the window area. Alternately some sunstrips come pre measured for your car to make them easier to fit. Step 3 Trim to the sunstrip to the desired size. Step 4 Spray the windscreen with a water/washing up liquid mixture to help get the sunstrip in the right place. Step 5 Peel off the backing of the sunstrip and attach the strip to the windscreen to the mark line (we used blutak for the marker). Step 6 Now the sunstrip is fitted, you now need to use the water/washing up liquid mixture with a squeegee to get the air bubbles out. A pin might also come in handy to help with this. Once this is done, you can admire your hard work. Please note we used more than one type of sunstrip for the making of this guide.
  9. As tribute to the King of Pop - Michael Jackson, Steve has a look through some of his more unusual cars on his 60th birthday. 1990 rolls Royce limousine As one would expect limousines are part and parcel of a celebrity life style and Michael had more than one Rolls Royce limo. 1988 GMC Jimmy High Sierra Fire Truck One of the oddities within the collection was a fire truck, painted with Neverland Fire Dept sign writing. However it isn’t quite clear why Michael owned this. 1909 Detamble replica Another unusual purchase by Michael was this Detamble replica, especially when he could have afforded a genuine example. 1997 Neoplan Touring Bus Naturally no pop star is without a tour bus and Michael was no exception. This bus featured cream leather interior, as well as a bathroom made from gold, granite and obviously porcelain. 1988 Lincoln Town Car limousine And here’s another one of Michaels limos. The Lincoln Town car was popular with musicians and even Elvis had one. 1993 Ford Ecoline Day Van The day van was a very popular vehicle in America, and like a lot of Americans Michael owned one. His Ecoline was fitted with Televisions and games consoles. 2001 Harley Davidson Police Motorcycle It wasn’t just cars Michael had in his collection, as he also owned this Police spec Harley Davidson. But I have to admit that it’s a good match for the GMC Fire Truck. 1954 Cadillac Fleetwood Another American icon, and a must have in any car collection is a Cadillac. This car comes from a great time in American car design and this particular car was featured in the filming of Driving Miss Daisy. 1988 GMC Jimmy personality One of the least luxurious vehicles in Michael’s fleet, but non the less practical.
  10. Spark Plugs are a small, yet vital part for the running of your engine and they can also tell you what condition the engine is in. In addition, spark plugs are both cheap and easy to replace as well as being a regular serving item. The most seen types of spark plug conditions are seen below as well as what they could mean you’re your vehicle. Fitting Spark Plugs Step 1 Let the engine cool and make sure the ignition is OFF as you don’t want the vehicles electrical system to potentially run through you! Then you can open the bonnet. Step 2 Remove the engine cover from your vehicle. This step may not be applicable to certain vehicles, particularly classic vehicles. Step 3 Locate the spark plugs. This will depend on the type of engine fitted to your vehicle. Four cylinder engines have four spark plugs on the top or side of the engine in a line. V6, V8, V10 and V12 engines have six, eight, 10 and 12 spark plugs respectively which will be evenly spaced on each side. spark plug layout on a four cylinder engine Step 4 Remove the end of the HT lead attached to the spark plug which should just unclip from the spark plug. It’s worth doing one spark plug at a time so as not to get confused when you’re refitting the leads as incorrect fitment will affect the running of the engine. It’s also worth checking the condition of the HT leads because if they’re damaged then they too will need replacing. Step 5 Remove the spark plug using the correct sized socket or spark plug removal tool. Once the spark plug is removed its worth checking its condition by using the above guide. Then use a feeler gauge to check the gap between the spark plug as you’ll need the same gap between the new plugs so in order to get a good spark. This will usually be between .028 - .060 inch. If you need a spark plug removal tool then you can buy it here Step 6 Screw the new spark plug in by using your hand and then use the correct sized socket or spark plug removal tool to tighten the spark plug. Don’t over tighten the spark plug as it can cause damage to either plug or the head of the engine. Also I recommend to first screw the spark plug by hand as cross threading the spark plug could damage the head of the engine. Step 7 Reattach the end of the HT lead and then repeat step 4 – 6 with each spark plug. Step 8 Start the engine to make sure then engine is running properly. It the engine seems rough then I would advise to switch off the engine immediately and check that you have fitted the HT leads to the correct spark plugs. If you need to buy spark plugs then you can get them Here
  11. Steve Q

    Full-scale, moving Bugatti Chiron made from Lego revealed

    This is truly staggering and all credit to the designers and builders. I'd love a drive!
  12. Steve Q

    Volkswagen deliveries halted by WLTP emissions certification

    Oh dear, oh dear. This doesn't help volkswagen whilst it's still in the mist of the emissions scandal. I wonder how many other manufacturers are facing the same issue?
  13. Steve Q

    Behind the scenes at Britain's ice-cream van HQ

    Wow! I do love to have a look around this factory :)
  14. The language of tyres can seem a complex, and one few drivers understand. When choosing tyres drivers are guided by the tyre shop, and most drivers understand which Brands are premium, mid-range or budget and how to check tread depths. However the tyre sidewall gives you a lot of useful information, you just have to understand the hieroglyphics. Here is a useful tyre chart courtesy of Pearltrees to help you decipher the code:
  15. Having an auxiliary fuse box can be beneficial to those who intend to modify their vehicle, either for work or pleasure and who intend to add additional electrical components such as exterior/interior lighting, stereo upgrades and alarms to name but a few. To fit a battery master switch you’ll need: Auxiliary fuse box with junction box - Examples available from eBay Four gauge wire from an auto accessories/ICE shop Insulated spade connectors Step 1 Disconnect the battery. This might seem obvious but if you forget you run the risk of running the cars electrical system through you! Step 2 Run the four gauge wire from the battery to your chosen fuse box location. This could be in the engine bay or even in the cabin. DON’T connect the four gauge wire to the battery yet. Step 3 Connect the other end of the four gauge wire to the junction box. The other end of the junction box will split the electrical supply between your additional electrical components. Step 4 Those split electrical supplies are then individually connected with insulated spade connectors to the fuse box. Connection point can be seen at the side of this fuse box. Step 5 Mount/attach the junction box and fuse box to the vehicle. Step 6 Fit the correct size fuses to the fuse box. Step 7 Re-join the four gauge wiring to the battery. Then reconnect the leads to the battery and you’re finished. Please note that the items shown in the pictures may differ from the one available in your country, however the fitting process will be the same.
  16. Car security has come a long way in the last twenty years thanks to improved locks and immobilisers, however with the introduction of keyless entry and keyless ignitions car theft is sadly on the increase. To help boost security you could look at fitting a battery master switch which acts as a type of immobiliser by cutting off the negative earth electrical supply but allows the alarm, radio and clock to function when the master switch is fitted with a fuse holder. If this sounds like a good idea to you, then my first piece of advice would be to assess where you are going to fit the switch. You’ll probably need to do measuring so in order you can buy/make brackets to hold the switch. To fit a battery master switch you’ll need: 1. Battery master switch, with key and fuse holder Examples from eBay 2. Four gauge wire from an auto accessories/ICE shop 3. Four Ring terminals 4. Suitable brackets 5. Nuts and bolts. This will depend on the size of brackets you’ve bought/made and where you have placed them. Step 1 Disconnect the battery. This might seem obvious but if you forget you run the risk of running the cars electrical system through you! Step 2 Assuming you have decided on where you’ll fit the switch, the next job is to attach your brackets through the holes in the switch base. Step 3 Attach the ring terminals to the four gauge wire. Step 4 Break into the battery negative lead and attach the four gauge wire with ring terminals. It might be worth crimping it to hold it in place as well. Step 5 Connect the negative battery lead to one of the master switch connectors and use a ring terminal to connect the fuse holder. Step 6 Connect the other end of the fuse holder to the switch and then re-join the four gauge wiring to the battery. Step 7 If you haven’t done already, attach the switch and its brackets to your chosen part of the vehicle. Step 8 Then fit the fuse into the fuse holder. Your fuse and fuse holder may differ from the one shown in the picture. Step 9 Test your handy work by fitting the red key and starting the ignition. If all is well then take the red key out and job done. Just don’t lose red the key! Picture below showing an example of the finished article. Please note that the items shown in the pictures may differ from the one available in your country, however the fitting process will be the same.
  17. Steve Q

    Age defying Volkswagens

    Steve looks through five Volkswagens that lasted longer in production than you might think! VW Beetle The last Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the assembly line in Wolfsburg-German in 1978 for the hard top and 1980 for the Karman cabriolet; however that wasn’t the end of the story. Production continued in South America where there was still high demand for cheap, simple transportation at assembly plants both in Mexico and Brazil. Despite the introduction of the Golf, Beetles were still being officially imported from Mexico by Volkswagen Germany well into the1980s. Personal imports continued in small numbers, until two professional car import companies started importing larger quantities of Mexican Beetles from 1996 right up to the end of production in 2003. The Mexican Beetles were based on the late 70s body and chassis, similar to that of the 1200 but fitted with a 1600cc fuel injected engine producing 90bhp and catalytic converter. The Mexican Beetles also benefited from an electric washer bottle as opposed the vacuum system as found on the 1970s versions, as well as front disc brakes as standard. Besides these alterations the Beetle remained relatively unchanged, keeping the same suspension setup and four speed manual gearbox as found on the older versions. UK importers were generous with options lists which included right hand drive conversions, folding sunroofs, CD players and even heated windscreens. Even with the novelty factor the Mexican Beetle remains a rare sight on UK roads. Ultima Edicion Beetle VW Transporter bay window Just like the Beetle, South America was in high demand of the bay window transporter due to its versatility where both van and minibus versions were produced in Volkswagens Brazilian plant. The name was changed to kombi but the same 1970s design soldiered on with an air-cooled engine, until 2006 when new emissions rules were brought into force in Brazil. To prolong the life of the Kombi Volkswagen Brazil fitted it with a 1200cc water cooled engine which could also be found in the Fox, this not only reduced emissions but it meant the old designed gained a front radiator grill. Professional importers started bringing the kombi into the UK at the start of the Millennium, where buyers could select from a variety of interior and colour options, but more importantly allowed them to have the retro looks but within a brand new vehicle. Unfortunately progress left the Kombi behind, thanks to safety legislation production ceased in 2013. Last Edition Kombi VW golf Mk1 The first generation Golf was launched in 1974 as a direct replacement to the much loved Volkswagen Beetle. For buyers the golf was a vast improvement over the beetle, as it was available as a five door hatchback or two door cabriolet as well as having more powerful water cooled engines. Just like the Beetle the Golf developed a loyal following, and the model built on Volkswagens reputation for providing reliable family transport. The sporty Golf GTI was launched in 1975 which marked the introduction of the “hot hatch” and became a benchmark for other manufactures to follow due to its practicality and fun driving characteristics. The Mk1 Golf ceased production in Europe in 1983 for the hard top, but the cabriolet remained in production for another decade and final bowed out in 1993. However that was not the end of the story, because as we’ve seen previously in this article certain countries still required cheap and economical transportation. The Golf Mk1 continued to be produced in Africa until 2009 but was renamed Citi Golf so as to differentiate itself from the later model Golfs. The Citi Golf was available with either a 1.4, or 1.6 fuel injected engine and was available in four trim levels; CitiRox, CitiSport, TenaCiti and CitiStorm. 2003 Citi Golf VW Jetta Mk2 The Mk2 Jetta was noticeably longer, wider and taller than the previous model and was available in three and five door saloon. The second generation Jetta was released in 1984 and immediately became a sales success in America, where it outsold the Golf and even achieved bestselling European car of the year in America in 1991. In the same year the Jetta was introduced into the Chinese market in complete knock down (CKD) form, but this later changed in 1995 when China started their own production using locally sourced components. The Jetta was the first Volkswagen to be released in China but due to Volkswagens strong reputation the Jetta has become a popular choice for taxi drivers in China even despite the Mk2 Jetta production ending in 2013. VW Golf Mk4 The fourth generation Golf was introduced to the UK in mid-1998 to replace the aging mk3 model and was available in 3 or 5 door hatchback, estate or cabriolet even though the latter was just a facelifted Mk3 Golf convertible which naturally confused buyers. The Mk4 Golf brought with it various improvements over the outgoing model as it was both longer and wider than the previous model as well as being taller which all improved the cabin space. In early 2004 the Golf Mk4 was replaced by the fifth generation in continental Europe, but it continued to be sold as the Golf City in Canada and in South America until 2010. The Golf City was facelifted in 2007 and was available with either a 2.0 115hp petrol engine or a TDI engine, and sold well due to being competitively priced at $15,300 Canadian dollars. In south America the Golf City was available in either a 1.6, 1.8 or 2.0 petrol engine and was available in two trim levels.
  18. The start of the millennium is shockingly 18 years ago now, and since those wild parties and concerns over computer meltdowns, various special run of the mill cars were born. Steve runs through 12 cars in no particular order introduced in the Noughties (2000-2009) which he feels could become classics. Renault Avantime The word Avantime translated from French means “ahead time” and which was a perfect name for this Renault which was crossed between an MPV and coupe. It certainly was ahead of its time, and one I feel if released tomorrow in the growing MPV market it would sell well. It was fitted with either a 2.0 or 3.0 petrol engine and featured a panoramic roof and futuristic rear lights all wrapped up in a luxurious cabin. Alas, it was not to be and the Avantime had a poor sales record in the UK. However, this means that it is guaranteed to become a future classic due to its rarity and exclusivity. Ford Focus RS The Mk1 Focus RS was the first Ford hot hatch from Ford since the immortal Escort Cosworth and as such had big shoes to fill. However, thanks to Colin Mcrae at the wheel the Focus RS proved itself to be a very capable rally car and as such developed a loyal following. The Focus RS had a low volume production run where 4,500 were made for the European market, of which just under half ended up on UK roads. The Focus RS was powered by a 4 cylinder turbocharged engine producing approximately 212bhp and as such could easily give its competitors a run for their money. Just like other cars on this list I feel the Focus RS is a guaranteed future classic due to its rarity but more importantly due to its motorsport pedigree. Volkswagen Golf Mk5 GTI The Golf Mk5 GTI aimed to build on the Golfs dependability as a family car but aimed to inject some excitement back into the GTI name which some buyers of the previous models had been missing in both the Mk3 and Mk4 GTI. To do this Volkswagen gave the Mk5 GTI a hot 2.0 petrol engine, combined with a touch of retro flair with a tartan interior and Golf ball gearknob. Overall the changes made the Mk5 GTI very appealing to buyers and I sure will help in making it a future classic. BMW Mini R50/R52/R53 The BMW New Mini was released in 2001 just as the classic Mini production ended. This was a sad and exciting time for Mini fans, but also a bold move by BMW which cannot be denied has been a complete success. The Mini owes this to its design cues taken from the classic mini such as the grill and headlights, as well as the large round speedometer and classic style switchgear. The new Mini wasn’t all show and no go either, as its sporty yet classic looks were backed up by great handling thanks to a wheel at each corner and a great selection of engines. Citroen C6 The C6 was Citroen's flagship model aimed at competing with the likes of the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series or Mercedes E class. However, the C6 wasn’t as conservative as its German rivals due to the body style such as the concave rear window, the roof angle, hydropneumatic suspension and unusual interior design. Unfortunately, the C6 wasn’t a big seller compared to its rivals and as such it makes it a rarity today. But I feel just like its predecessors of the BX and CX the C6 will become a future classic. Jaguar XK The second generation Jaguar XK appeared in 2006 and had a hard act to follow in light of the success of the first generation and just like its predecessor the XK was available in coupe and convertible form. Thankfully Jaguar managed to succeed in releasing another exquisite designed sports car, however, some of the general public felt the car had copied Aston Martin in some of the body lines. This isn’t as daft as it sounds, as the same designer had been used for the creation of the Aston Martin Vanquish and the XK. The stunning design was also mated to a supercharged V8 as well as having a lovely interior. Renault Clio 172/182 The Mk2 Clio range gained the first sporty model at the start of the 21st Century and kicked off with the 172. This later developed into a facelifted version which included Xenon headlights, rain sensing wipers, more airbags, 6 cd player and climate air-conditioning. The final phase of the 172 was the Cup version which was a lightweight version of the 172 and naturally wasn’t fitted with any of the extras of the facelift model except for subtle body modifications. In 2004 the 172 made way for the 182 which gained slight cosmetic tweaks and increased performance. Just like the 172, the 182 also had a lightweight Cup version but then gained the Trophy spec which was a limited production run of 550 cars and was fitted with upgraded Sach shocks. I feel this Renault pocket rocket is sure to be a classic, with the 172 Exclusive model (172 units made) and 182 Trophy commanding the most money if kept in original condition. Honda S2000 The S2000 was yet another car to be released at the turn of the century and released in the year of the Millennium. The S2000 became synonymous as a true drivers car thanks to a 1997cc four-cylinder VTEC engine which could reach a staggering 9000rpm as well as appearing in the second Fast and furious film, 2 Fast 2 Furious. It also benefitted from a 50:50 weight distribution and double wishbone suspension which meant that it had great handling to match the performance. The most sort after models ar the GT Edition (UK)/Ultimate Edition (Continental Europe) which symbolised the end of production in 2009 and were limited to 200 cars. 100 GT Edition/100 Ultimate Editions which were finished in white with red leather interior, grey wheels and came with the additional hard top. Mazda RX8 Launched in 2003 the RX8 was a clever design, not only did the coupe style body hide four doors the engine too was something special. All RX8 models were fitted with a 1.3 Wankel rotary engine which were available in power from 180bhp up to 231bhp. The RX8 benefitted from sports car-like handling and performance but had all the advantages of a normal family hatchback. However, reliability issues affected the model due to engine lobe wear and engines requiring a rebuild at no less than 80,000 miles. I feel the RX8 is a guaranteed future classic due to its rarity and unusual design. MG ZT The MG ZT and its sister the Rover 75 were the last big MG Rover cars to be built at Longbridge, but had been designed by BMW and were available in either saloon or estate. The MG ZT was powered by a 120bhp 1.8 K series engine, 160bhp/180bhp 2.5 V6 engine or a Ford Mustang 4.6 litre V8 and available with either a manual or automatic gearbox. The rarest versions were fitted with the options such as the X pack which increased power or pearlescent paint. But the V8 versions are coveted by enthusiasts as they are rear wheel drive as opposed to the other models which are front wheel drive and had a chassis setup developed by Prodrive. Vauxhall Monaro The Vauxhall Monaro will look very familiar to our Australian or American readers, as the Monaro was badged as a Holden Monaro in Australia and a Pontiac GTO in America respectively. Released in 2004 to the UK market the Monaro was relatively unchanged from its Holden sister, and fitted with the 5.7 small block gen 3 V8 for the first generation model or a 6.0 litre V8 as fitted to the second generation which also benefited from cosmetic changes. The Monaro was a rare car in the UK even when new which will only help with its future values and well worth considering if you want a proper V8 powered right-hand drive muscle car. Alfa Romeo Brera The final car on this list and by no means the least is the Alfa Romeo Brera which was launched in 2005 as a replacement for the aging GTV and based on the Alfa 159 platform. The Brera was available in four trim levels; Medium, Sky view, Turismo Internazionale and Brera S the latter was only available in the UK and featured improved handling which was helped by tuning company Prodrive. The Brera was available with a 2.2 four-cylinder petrol, 3.2 v6 petrol engine or a 2.4 diesel. Total production figures for the Brera exceeded 21,000 but despite this, the Brera was not a common sight on British roads even when new and as such will help make it a future classic.
  19. On the 9th August 2015 I had the fortune of visiting the historic MG factory at Longbridge in Birmingham, and on arrival we waited for our guide in the MG Showroom which gave me a chance to have a look over the MG3 and MG6. Our guide then met us and took us across to the main buildings where we were shown into a room and learnt the history of the MG brand and SAIC future plans for the marque. After the presentation the real fun began and we were shown a faithful reconstruction of Morris office and then moved onto the Technical Centre. As no surprise we were not allowed to take any pictures, but we were show an MG3 turbo prototype as well as the CAD/CAM machines as well as the engine test facilities. The test facilities at Longbridge design and develop the engines and suspension for European MG3s and as such they differ from their Chinese siblings. We then moved onto the heart of the site where we saw the build process for the MG3 but I must confess the conveyor belts and production lines were silent on the day of our visit as production only occurred two days a week. We were also informed that the cars arrive from China to the UK as Complete Knock Down (CKD) kits and reassembled at Longbridge. The silence was eerie but I was just pleased to see the factories still being used for their orginal purpose instead of just idling. The final part of the tour was to be shown MG’s private collection of prototypes and historic vehicles which included some limited edition models and key successes such as the Mini, TF and Austin Healey. Overall the factory tour was a great day out and a real insight into the current operations of MG.
  20. On August 12th 2015 I was lucky enough to visit the former DeLorean Factory in Dunmurry-Belfast and was surprised to find that the site is still being used in the manufacture of car components for no other that Peugeot and Citroen. I visited the site on a Sunday and as such it was much like a ghost town which how it must have felt shortly after DMC demise and closure in 1983. On looking around the various factory units it was amazing to still see some of the original DMC-12 production line equipment still hanging from the ceilings and which sit redundant and forever waiting. I look round and try to picture what the site would have looked like in the heyday of production and feel a sadness that the production was cut short. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to look at the historic Delorean test track due to a lack of time which was a real shame as it is under threat from being built on. Nor did I get to drive up to the famous Delorean House as it is a private residence which had subsequently sold the year before. I do hope that Belfast stops any proposals of housing on the Delorean test track, as it would be a great loss to Belfast due to the history the test track and the rest of the factory complex holds for the city.
  21. In the sleepy Leicestershire village of Barkby there is an unusual sight, parked in the carpark of the Church View Nursey garden centre sits an old double decker bus. This in itself doesn’t sound unusual but what sets this bus apart from many other classic buses is the fact that this one has been converted into a wonderful cafe. The Mash Tun opened in July 2017 by Joe and Laura and who already have a loyal customer base. The bus cannot be missed by passers-by as it sits near the roadside and on arrival there is plenty of parking, which is ideal when the café and garden centre gets busy. Walking over to the bus I found the staff to be very friendly and welcoming, as they talk to you from a hatch in the side of the bus which was once a window. The hatch is where you’ll find the vast menu of both hot and cold food, as well as doubling up for placing your order and on this occasion I ordered a bacon and egg roll with a pot of tea. At this point you also pay for your order either with cash or card payment. Once your order has been placed, you head upstairs and take a pew on one of the up-cycled or handcrafted seating areas which cannot be denied is certainly unique. After a short wait the staff will bring your drinks up to you, followed shortly by your food order. Both of which I found were always delivered with a smile. Tucking into my bacon and egg roll I found both the bacon and egg to be fresh and superb, whilst finding the tea plentiful thanks to a large vintage style pot and presented with a cup, saucer and a biscuit on the side. The food served is either homemade, locally sourced or Fairtrade which further reinforces the quality of the food and drink on offer. The atmosphere of the café was warm with other customers seeming happy and enjoying their orders too. I would highly recommend the Mash Tun Café both for the great food and prompt service and it certainly would make a nice stop for anyone who is taking their classic car out for a run in the idyllic Leicestershire countryside. Details: Church View Nursery/Mash Tun Cafe Queniborough Road, Barkby, Leicester LE7 3QJ http://themashtuncafe.co.uk/ Opening Times: Monday: CLOSED Tuesday: 9:30am-5pm Wednesday: 9:30am-3pm Thursday: 9:30am-5pm Friday: 9:30am-5pm Saturday: 9:30am-5pm Sunday: 10am-4pm The Owners: Joe and Laura with their daughter Flo
  22. Set off the main through fair in Syston Town centre sits a quintessentially British tea room called Occasions which oozes with charm thanks to its quirky vintage setting and lovely staff. Occasions was set up by Emma five years ago to bring something a little different to Syston by offering light lunches with sandwiches, toasties, cream teas which are combined with delicious homemade cakes in a friendly and unique setting. Walking through the door, a classic doorbell rings which is then followed by a warm welcome from Emma and her staff. You then take a seat either in the main café or in the parlour room which would not look out of place in Great Gatsby, and given time to peruse the menu before the staff come over to take your order. On this occasion (no pun intended!) I ordered the cream tea which came with a fruit scone, cream, jam and a pot of tea. After my order had been taken I only had to wait a short time before my order arrived, but I will be clear this wasn’t because I had ordered something simple as other patrons who ordered salads or sandwiches also received their food quickly and always with a smile. All food is freshly prepared and there is a great attention to detail for presentation for all orders that I could see, as well as being exquisite in taste. The food and tea was served on vintage china which only adds to the ambiance of the Tea Room. I cheekily topped off my cream tea with a piece of mouth-watering chocolate cake, which as previously mentioned is homemade and is certainly as great as it looked! I would strongly recommend this fantastic Tea Room to anyone, which is certainly ideal if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of a hectic life but also makes a lovely stop for those who fancy a vintage stop in their vintage car. Details: Occasions Tea Room 8A High St Syston Leicester LE7 1GP 0116 3191819 Opening Times: Monday: CLOSED (Except Bank Holidays & the Monday before Christmas) Tuesday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Wednesday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Thursday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  23. On January 4th 2018 I was given the opportunity to tour the prestigious Morgan Motor Company factory who have been making hand built cars on the same site in Malvern for over 100 years When I arrived I headed straight to the café for a well-earned lunch of soup and tea after the two hour drive. The café had a good selection of both hot and cold food as well as snacks which catered for most tastes. After lunch the tour began with a presentation of the history behind Morgan and the key events that made the company the success that it is today. We were then taken to see Morgan’s private collection of cars which included prototypes, race cars and included a couple of last of the line vehicles. Afterwards, we headed for a look around the various factory buildings where everything is produced, excluding the engine and gearbox which are brought in from other manufactures. The first part of the build process is the manufacture of the chassis which is built with a combination of wood and steel for all models, excluding the Aero which uses a combination of wood and aluminium. During this phase of the build process the engine, gearbox, suspension, brakes, wiring and wheels are added. The rolling chassis is then wheeled into a workshop where the hand crafted wooden body is fitted. The wooden body is made with a mixture of woods, clued together and set with tools which are nearly as old as the building itself. The bare skeleton body is then treated to its custom built aluminium body panels, and it’s said that this tailored process prevents body parts from being interchangeable between Morgan cars. For example a bonnet cannot be taken from one car and transferred to another, even if it was made by the same builder. Once the body it completed the car is moved into the paint shop where modern paint processes are used to achieve a gleaming finish. In theory any colour is a available if you’re willing to pay for the privilege, and in most cases the customers are. The freshly painted Morgan is then transferred to the interior trimmers who hand craft the interiors from leather and just like the paint, any colour is available. They have to be careful not to damage the paintwork! The final phase of the build is the pre delivery inspection which involves checking that every component is fit for purpose, and after the car has been through the vigorous checks the test drivers take the cars out for a drive in the beautiful Malvern country side to make sure that car has handling characteristics to match the exquisite looks. Only after all that, will the finished masterpiece be loaded onto a covered transporter and shipped to its new owner, who is keenly waiting in any part of the world. The tour ends with a look around the Morgan museum which contains some of the oldest Morgan’s in the world and even has Morgans which have owned been owned by the Morgan family. I then got a quick look in the shop which naturally had Morgan merchandise including clothing, alcohol, key rings and other items befitting of the manufacture and vehicles. I found the Morgan factory tour one of the best available, and only increased my respect and understanding of the build process and the craftsmanship required to complete each vehicle. I felt a great atmosphere within the factory, and it has only increased my longing to own a Morgan one day.
  24. Steve Q

    Alfa Romeo Mito to be axed in early 2019

    I think this has been along time coming bas the mito is a bit long in the tooth now. Still, it's not a bad car to drive and do feel it needs a replacement. Think Alfa could also do with an estate and a more affordable saloon in the range to widen the brands appeal.
  25. On August 12th 2015 I was lucky enough to visit the former DeLorean Factory in Dunmurry-Belfast and was surprised to find that the site is still being used in the manufacture of car components for no other that Peugeot and Citroen. I visited the site on a Sunday and as such it was much like a ghost town which how it must have felt shortly after DMC demise and closure in 1983. On looking around the various factory units it was amazing to still see some of the original DMC-12 production line equipment still hanging from the ceilings and which sit redundant and forever waiting. I look round and try to picture what the site would have looked like in the heyday of production and feel a sadness that the production was cut short. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to look at the historic Delorean test track due to a lack of time which was a real shame as it is under threat from being built on. Nor did I get to drive up to the famous Delorean House as it is a private residence which had subsequently sold the year before. I do hope that Belfast stops any proposals of housing on the Delorean test track, as it would be a great loss to Belfast due to the history the test track and the rest of the factory complex holds for the city.
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