While writing these days, it is not every day I am given the opportunity to help out others in need. Most days I sit here typing away at my keyboard listening to music at way too loud a volume inadvertently winding people up. More recently, however, I’ve been given the opportunity to help out some people in need and that is by fundraising for a charity close to my heart called SameYou. While this is a fantastic charity and one I’d love to help out, due to never fundraising in my life, I have no clue where to start or what to do and this is where I need your help.
For those that may not have heard of the charity SameYou, they’re a small UK-based brain injury charity that is run by the one & only Emilia Clarke from HBO’s ‘Game Of Thrones’ series boxset. It was originally set up by Emilia and her team after her own personal fight with a brain injury at the young age of only 24. This was one of the many reasons why it hit me personally. With me having Epilepsy from my late teens and writing more in-depth about it here only a few weeks back, I thought it’d be a brilliant idea to write to them about fundraising. After a few weeks of no reply, I finally woke up yesterday to a reply from them with a couple links for setting up a GoFundMe Fundraiser event for them, the thing is, as I mentioned above, I’ve never fundraised before for anybody.
With this blog, website and all the social media pages that run alongside it all being about cars, I feel as if the fundraising should be car related in some way or other. The only issue is that my mind is drawing a blank when it comes down to using the art of cars to help fundraise. Of course, you can do the classic Car wash and raise money that way but with the weather being sketchy at best around here recently, I can’t see that ending well for anyone.
Now while I may not have many ideas flowing, I do have one idea that is a possibility but would need a lot of physical & mental training as well as permission from numerous doctors & professionals in the know before it could even go-ahead. I am of course talking about pulling one of our cars over a certain distance. Not just would this need to be overlooked by doctors and medical professors, I’d also need to get the right apparatus to pull the car in question. with both ProjectC70 and our 2007 Seat Altea XL both being about 2 tons in weight, the apparatus would need to support both my weight and the car’s weight as well. On top of that, I’d obviously need a location as well as space to do it in. This is of course just an idea, for now, that might not even come to any fruition but it is an idea nonetheless.
Is there anything else that could possibly be done through the art of using cars to fundraise other than that?. With my memory not being great at the best of times, it is at this time where I could be doing with some help to put something together to put this wonderful charity on the map a little bit. Brain Injury is and can be a killer for many people and for it to hit young people before they even get their lives on track is simply awful, so with some help and some suggestions, I’d be willing to help out where needed to fundraise.
Hope You Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson
With the cold dark nights slowly starting to go away and all of us recently transcending into a new year, this is the perfect time to go out and buy and modify a potential track weapon for the summer season. With car season coming into full effect in a few month’s time, this is the best time to be buying a cheap track day car. With a majority of people not being able to buy something expensive in the first place and insurance being difficult for covering track days, the cheaper the car, the easier it is to insure so think carefully when picking your perfect cheap track day car. Here are ten potential track day cars that won’t break the bank but should be great fun when modified right.
Mazda MX-5 NA/NB:
It was just typical that a Mazda MX-5 would make this list, but before thinking that this is just news repeating itself, hear me out before you scroll away. There’s a very good reason why the MX-5 is so loved on the track day scene. First of all, they’re undeniably cheap. with good examples being anywhere from £1000-£2000 you can pick one up easily. Secondly, they are a good base for modifications and with a massive scene for MX-5’s in general, you’ll have a field day getting the right parts needed to make your MX-5 a little track weapon. With early Na & NB MX-5’s having a really low curb weight, you really don’t need much to get the most out of an MX-5 really good for track days, with power being low from standard, insurance should be well cheap and fairly easy to get as well. Look out for rust on the early ones, especially the NA’s as these suffer quite bad from tin worm.
MG ZR 1.8 160 VVC:
Yes, I know what you may be thinking…….an MG ZR? really? well, hear me out on this. As the name suggests, the ZR has 160 bhp from the factory which is plentiful for track days. With a few suspension tweaks like coilovers and uprated anti-roll bars and you soon realize the full potential the Zr has to give you handling wise. Reliability isn’t fantastic, especially the fabled head gasket issues these cars suffer from but as long as you can get an uprated gasket fitted to them, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever have an issue with them going bang. With an FWD drivetrain layout, it may not be as pure to drive as the MX-5 above but what it lacks in purity it makes up for in usability. Where the MX-5 has the opportunity to spin out on a damp or really wet track, the FWD layout of the ZR means that it’ll pretty much stick to the track regardless of the conditions. Prices can be had from a few hundred pounds to about £2000+ for a minter. Insurance isn’t the cheapest, especially for really young drivers but for what it’s worth, if you can afford one and modify it properly, it’ll be a rewarding drive.
Renault Clio 197/200:
Potentially the newest car here, it’s an honest surprise that these are now becoming so cheap now to go out and buy & run. While these two are quite a bit more than the MG or MX-5 above, £3,000 isn’t to be sniffed at for a well looked after Clio 197 or Clio RS200. Because it’s a Renault, you’re almost certified to be the king or queen of the track day thanks to their impeccable handling, their fantastic grip and last but not least the stonking amount of power they both have. in Cup spec, you really get a true understanding of why Renault has a certain reputation when it comes to fast hot hatches. reliability is so-so but as long as you can get a good one and know your way around French electrics then you should be fine.
Subaru Impreza GC8 Turbo 2000:
Possibly the only AWD car on this list, the MK1 Subaru Impreza Turbo 2000 is a very good shout for a track day car. With 215bhp and an old-style AWD system, the 2000 Turbo is both quick and easy to drive regardless of weather conditions. With 4 doors on tap and a big boot, these are also very practical as well. The Impreza is a very well known contender on the rough stuff and pretty much cut it on numerous rally stages across the world making it an icon in the process. Due to that, they handle really well and with their signature Flat-4 engine under the bonnet, it makes for both a fantastic noise and a pretty much 50-50 weight distribution. Finding one isn’t that easy these days, especially one that is in a mint condition but if you search high and low, you’ll be bound to find one within budget. Watch out for rust with these as just like any Japanese ’90s car, they rust badly.
Ford Fiesta ST MK6:
This list wouldn’t be complete without the MK6 Fiesta ST or even a Fast Ford for that matter. While it may have not worn the RS badge, the MK6 ST made up for that with a stonking 150bhp from a 2.0 engine. That may not sound like much these days but considering that a Citroen C2 VTS had about 120bhp and a Corsa C SRi had about 130bhp, this Fiesta was a little firecracker. Add in the Fiesta MK6’s lightweight and it’s fantastic chassis and it’s no surprise that these can become a fantastic track car. Fast Fords are always a perfect buy but watch with the MK6 ST, due to these being owned by a good few boy racers over the years, it can be very easy to find a bad example of one. Make sure to get one with full ford service history and try and get one preferably owned by an enthusiast. If you want to make more power then there is, of course, both Mountune and Airtec to help you with that as well as a plethora of others.
SEAT Leon Cupra 1M:
Before anyone says anything, this choice right here isn’t a biased choice whatsoever. For those that know me, know that one of my favorite hatches is a Seat Leon. In my opinion, even though we own an MK2 Leon FR that is fantastic, my favorite Leon is the original – the 1M. Now while a Cupra R will be way out of the equation, a 1M Cupra 1.8T will be well within budget and still looks and goes just as well as it’s badder & faster stablemate. With 180bhp from its 1.8T 20v engine, you are bound to have a great time thrashing this little beauty around a track. Reliability is very good with these cars as long as you can get a good one and with aftermarket support as long as your arm, you’ll be sure to improve on any weak points the car may have. Prices for these are very cheap even for a minter so finding one shouldn’t really be an issue.
MK3 Toyota MR-2:
Here we have a left-field entry and our first mid-engined entry into track day car ownership. While the MK3 may not be the best MR-2 money can buy, what it lacks in credibility it certainly makes up for with driver enjoyment. The MR-2 always was and always has been a driver’s car even from the get-go throughout its 3 generations. With the third-generation car, the 3S-GE & 3S-GTE engine was dropped for a 2ZZ unit shared with the 7th Generation Celica T-Sport. While it wasn’t the quickest and you do have to wring its neck to get every available power out of it but that’s the charm of this generation of MR-2. If power is an issue then it is very easy to fit the 3.0 V6 engine from the Camry into the car. This pretty much doubles the power of the original engine, gives it way more torque and also has a wonderful engine note to boot. Being a Toyota, reliability shouldn’t be an issue, even with a V6 swap so mechanically it should be ok. Check for rust though as these cars suffer from it, while not as bad as other cars, if not treated it can become worse over time.
MGF & TF 1.8:
While on the subject of mid-engined cars, let me introduce you to yet another left-field choice and also another MG to make the list, this time the MGF & TF. Just like the MR-2 above, the F/TF is a mid-engined 2-door sports car with a low amount of power and also a low weight to boot. With the 1.8 fitted it creates 134bhp which may seem like a piddly amount compared to others on this list but trust me, with a car as light as the F/TF, you don’t need tons of power to get the most out of these cars. Buying & finding one of these cars is fairly easy to do as prices are cheap and there’s plenty around the place. Reliability is the same as the ZR above and unfortunately, just like that car, the F & TF both suffer from Headgasket issues, fear not, however, as you can get a stronger head gasket to fit into these cars to make the engines stronger and more capable of abuse a track day brings.
Peugeot 306 GTi-6 & Rallye:
No track day list would be complete without one of the best hatchbacks of the ’90s, I am of course talking about the Peugeot 306. In particular the 306 GTi-6 as well as the 306 Rallye. Considered by most as one of the best budget hot hatches going, it’s only right that these two variants make the list. What made these two cars great was their handling, as with every ’90s Peugeot, the 306 handled beautifully and could easily run rings around a similarly aged Golf or Astra. The Rallye is the rarer variant out of the two and for good reasons, they were lightly stripped out to make them a pure driving machine. The items that were removed consisted of the electric windows as well as the electrically operated mirrors, the Alloys were changed out for lightweight steelies and even the stereo was removed to remove as much weight as possible. Put any of these cars on a track and you’ll soon realize why they are loved the world over. Prices have not quite hit big money for these cars yet but trying to find one isn’t easy, especially a Rallye. Reliability isn’t terrible on these cars, especially considering French car’s reputation for their reliability.
Honda Civic VTi Coupé EM1:
Last but not least, we come to the Honda Civic Coupé EM1. First of all, these cars are unbelievably cheap to buy and run, with a VTi costing about £2000-£4000 depending on condition, these are one hell of a way of getting a VTEC powered track car. With 160bhp on tap, the VTi is no slouch neither and due to its lightweight, it certainly shifts. Being a Honda, reliability is never going to be an issue and with aftermarket support as large as ever for these cars, it is very easy to get bits together to make the perfect track day beast. With a very large engine bay and a small bay, it is very easy to do most modifications yourself making it so much cheaper to transform into a track car. Alongside the decent power figure is also a very low weight figure. weighing in at around a ton, it doesn’t need a lot of modifications to make it competitive. With EP3’s and FN2’s still being a tad expensive, getting an EM1 makes perfect sense as they are relatively cheaper and a whole lot lighter as well as being a very good left-field choice for a track day car.
With car season coming up within the next few months, it is very tempting to want to go to a track day, I know I’ve been thinking about them recently. Whether it’s your first ever track day or you’re a master, it is very easy to go out and buy something expensive, fast and way too on the edge for most tracks and conditions but with these cars above, it shows that you can go out and buy something on a budget, fairly quick and competitive and also capable around most tracks without being too much on the edge.
Hope You Enjoy!
As some of you out there may know, I own a Volvo C70 Coupé known as ProjectC70. for those that don’t, in March 2015 I bought said Volvo as my first car for a measly £1200. Out of those 4½ years of ownership, a good 3½ years have been as a long-going project car, hence the name ProjectC70. A lot of people know about my car and the changes it’s had but one thing I have never said about it was how it ultimately saved my life from a truly horrible bout of Epilepsy.
Now before we get onto the car, I want to start from the very beginning. From a very young age, I have had health issues. From the age of 1½, I have had Kidney issues that meant for a majority of my life and even up to now, I was always having checkups at hospitals and for a good 14 years, I was also on a high-calorie milk feed to make up for the lack of food I was able to process. Since 15 years of age, this was pretty much my life and I was used to it. I was told what I could & couldn’t do and kept at life proving doctor after doctor wrong. By the time I was 15 I was lucky enough to have my last ever operation regarding my kidneys and this entailed me not needing to be on a high-calorie milk feed every night.
After that, everything was perfect, I was able to live life as normal for pretty much the first time in my life and I was so elated. I was so new to it that it felt strange to just do things that everyone else took for granted. It was going well and I was enjoying life, I was able to leave school at 16 & take up college doing the Mechanics course I loved. This was until April 2014 came around. This was when the worst thing to ever happen to anyone happened to me, this was my first seizure.
It was a normal college day and everything went normally, maybe a bit tired and stressed to some account but nothing out of the ordinary for a typical college student. I remember coming home and going to sleep for about an hour or so and by this time, this was a relatively normal thing for me to do. After waking up from my small nap that’s when everything got threw up in the air. I was shouted for my dinner and withing 5 minutes of waking up, I experienced my first ever seizure at the dining table in our house.
While I don’t remember a lot of what exactly happened, I remember getting sent to the hospital to find out what the hell had happened. After originally thinking it was a heart murmur, they soon took a brain scan and that was where they found out I possibly had Epilepsy. It was only until the second fit about a month later that they actually officially diagnosed it as Epilepsy. This is where something inside me just started to click, this was when I decided to fight the long difficult battle.
When in the hospital, I was told that the kind of seizures that I’d had were known as ‘Tonic-Clonic’ fits, the worst kind of epilepsy you can have. What that means, in short, is that when a seizure hits me, I go unconscious and start to convulse all my muscles. While they last for maybe a few minutes, the recovery is by far the worst. The headaches are futile and the pain in my joints is even worse, for me, it takes a good few weeks to actually get back to full health. For the first few hours, all I want to do is sleep.
As I said, with the news of this coming as a shock to all of us, I decided to fight it the best way I could and that was to buy a car, this is when the fight within me started. From August of 2014, I saved as much money as I possibly could to buy my very own C70 and I wasn’t going to give up without a fight and on March 6th the following year, ProjectC70 came into my life.
When the car came along I was elated once more. It was everything I’d ever wanted in life and to a young 17-18-year-old, I never realized that it’d be possible for someone in my situation would be able to have this happen so soon after my recovery. Even from the start of C70 ownership, I knew that there was a different feeling inside me about this car, it wasn’t just a box on wheels, it was my shield from my horrible brain injury.
Even though I was elated, I knew that I had to try my hardest to keep my fits at bay and try as I might, I did just that for over a year and a half but in October 2016 they came back with a vengeance. Instead of having one fit one day then another maybe a few weeks later, this time I had two fits in the same night one after the other. With that happening, I was back to the beginning again.
No fear though, I had my beloved C70 outside to get me through it all and regardless of what I had to personally go through, as long as my C70 was there I was prepared to fight with all the might I could muster. This is when I started to fix the C70 up and when it started to become a project car of the highest proportions. With ProjectC70 sitting outside in desperate need of work and me being at a bad point health-wise, I felt as if I could take on the world one bolt at a time.
When working on the car, regardless of how I might have been both mentally & physically, It never once phased me that I had this condition that could rear its head at literally any moment without any real signs. When working on the car, it was just me at that moment fixing something I loved, for those few hours I was normal.
All in all, I’ve probably had over 10 fits in the 5½ years I’ve had epilepsy and throughout it all, the C70 has been there by my side as my reason to fight the condition. It must’ve worked as I’ve not had a fit for well over a year now and to add to that, slowly but surely the C70 is also taking shape as well and for that, I couldn’t be happier.
Many people think that cars are just a piece of metal on wheels with no real purpose but to get us humans from point A to point B but for me and many others, certainly for those who are in really bad situation health-wise, cars are so much more than that. Recently I have been told to get rid of the C70 for something else but with everything I’ve gone through with it, I could simply never sell it.
By Alex Jebson
When it comes to cars, a lot of people love them for certain reasons. Whether it is their dream car or even a car they saw belting around racetracks, everyone has a reason why they like certain cars. For me and the C70, it was simple, I had a massive love for GT cars so when given the opportunity to own one as my first car I jumped at the chance. Add in the S80 that we had prior to me saving, this added the fuel to the fire so to speak, I simply had to have one. For my mate Junior, it was a very similar story but with a very different car manufacture. Whereas a lot of people might lust after a BMW M3 or a Jaguar F-Type, Junior has an undying love for Ssangyong Musso’s.
So, why is this and what makes Junior of all people like these cars so much? Well, simply put when he was growing up, his dad bought his first-ever Musso. Unfortunately Junior can’t really remember much about it apart from the fact it was silver, regardless of all that though, it sparked something inside him that he simply couldn’t shake however hard he tried. This was the start of Junior’s obsession with these true underdogs of the 4×4 world.
When I say that these are underdogs in the 4×4 world, I really mean it. The Musso exists due to a partnership between SsangYong & none other than Mercedes-Benz. Simply put, SsangYong was to build a car using the running gear from Mercedes and the Musso was the outcome. Engines available were a 2.9 non-turbo diesel which had a low output of 98bhp and a 0-60 time of 19.7s making it the slowest 4×4 on the UK market. after that, you had a 2.9 turbo diesel with 120bhp and an improved 0-60 run of 14 seconds. If you wanted a petrol-powered Musso, there was a 2.3 N/A 4-cylinder with 146bhp and then the mightiest of them all, the king daddy if you so wish. I am of course talking about the GX220. Because of the Mercedes underpinnings and the large bay that the Musso had, the mighty 3.2 M104 inline 6 was slotted in place giving the Musso a healthy 220bhp and a 0-60 of between 8.5s and 9-5s depending on reports. as mentioned, this was the engine in the GX220 which also so happened to be the top-spec Musso available at the time. The 3.2 powering it was so mighty that it was even known as the fastest 4×4 on the UK market for quite a substantial time even beating out the V8 Range Rovers which is actually surprising to hear, especially considering that a V8 Range Rover is one of my all-time favorite 4×4’s. Transmissions available for the Musso’s were either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed auto.
Designed from scratch by Ken Greenley, it isn’t actually too terrible in the looks department compared to other SsangYongs to come. With SsangYong being known throughout the Millenium for building truly ugly cars, the Musso stands proud as a 4×4 that actually looks rather good compared to the rest of the lineup. Even though these cars don’t appeal to a lot of people in regard to their design I actually like some of the design details they have. For example, the front door kinks down towards the front wing giving the car a rather nice side profile. Add in the rear-end and the way that it meets at an angle in the middle is also a nice touch and looks very Range Rover-ish but with an obvious stronger rake. Add in the 6-spoke wheels that come standard and it looks alright for a 4×4.
Getting back to Junior and his out & out obsession with these cars, it properly started for him when he was given his first Musso in green. Originally bought as a family car, it got replaced by another Musso so instead of part exchanging the old one for the replacement, it got given to Junior to play around with and that was the one Junior started to fall for. Unfortunately in 2009, the green one Junior had been given had to get stripped & sent to the scrapyard due to the overall condition of it. Shortly afterward, his dad sold the second green one with all the spares from the one Junior had.
After being without a Musso for about 4 years, in 2013 Juniors’ dad was looking at another 4×4 to tow their caravan they had and this is where the silver one came about. After being told about it sitting in a garden for about 4 years they eventually bought it for £350. Surprisingly after 4 years of sitting, it started the first time and only really need a few wheel nuts and new brakes to pass. After getting it roadworthy they used it for everything including a move from Bristol to Dumfries, Scotland. It was used daily up until July of last year where sadly Junior’s dad, unfortunately, passed away. Since then it was put into storage where it sat until March of this year when junior himself took the car over and brought it home to the driveway where it now currently sits.
Due to both his and his dad’s love for these underdogs, Junior decided to keep his dad’s memory alive by buying himself a red GX220 to remember him by. His original plan was to restore it but due to quite severe rust, it, unfortunately, got scrapped as it was too far gone. This is where his new one comes in. With junior feeling bummed out by the condition his red one was in, he decided to buy a white 1997 Musso GX220 as it’s replacement. Named ‘Harley’, this Musso is an Australian Import GX220 with the 4-speed auto fitted to it. White is a rare colour for Musso’s, especially here in the UK so to see a white one is quite a sight.
In the late ’90s, Daewoo bought out SsangYong which meant that there was also a Daewoo variant of the Musso, major differences between the two were new bumpers, new lights and a new front grille. Apart from that they pretty much stayed the same all the way from 1993 to 2005, not bad going for a 12-year life span. The Musso name came back recently but instead of getting applied to a 4×4 it was put onto their new pickup truck instead.
With everybody loving cars for different reasons, It’s nice to see people like Junior not just keeping these cars going but also keeping his dad’s spirit alive as well. All the rare parts and money in the world means nothing, especially if it’s getting preserved to keep a long-lost family members spirit alive and Junior is doing exactly that and good on him. anyone in that same situation would do that if given half the chance, including me!
Hope You Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson
So we all know the story with the Lexus LS400 right? If not, here is a brief rundown on it. In the late ’80s, Toyota wanted to build a full-sized luxury car to rival the best from Germany, America & The UK. The only issue that they had was their image, see at the time Toyota was known for building cheap, reliable and long-lasting vehicles with no other real attributes apart from getting the occupant from A-B in relative comfort. this was a major problem for the brand, especially when they wanted to build a luxury car, simply put Toyota simply couldn’t bring a luxury car to the market and expect it to sell to either current SEL or XJ40 owners due to badge snobbery and on the other hand, they couldn’t sell it to the humble Corolla owner as they simply couldn’t stump up over the equivalent of £60,000 on what was a Toyota product. Not wanting to give up, Toyota decided to take a leaf out of both Nissan & Honda’s book and create a luxury sub-brand, thus creating what we all know as Lexus. This is the story of both the beginnings of Lexus and the LS400.
With Lexus standing for ‘Luxury Exports to The U.S’, this name worked out well, not just was it to the point, to people who didn’t really know or didn’t really care, the brand ‘Lexus’ pretty much rolled off the tongue as a manufacturer with a bit of caliber. With the name figured out, Toyota went on to build its first-ever Lexus branded car. Originally named Project F1, it stood for ‘Flagship One’ before eventually getting known & released as the LS400. The simple task of the LS was to be the best car the world has ever seen. Unlike its rivals from Germany, America, and even the UK, the Lexus was unbelievably reliable. Like a lot of Japanese cars of the time, it was built to work day in day out without falter or hassle. With Toyota and Lexus slowly getting customers through their doors with the original LS400, they decided to move on to the 2nd generation model in 1994.
While the second generation may have looked similar to the original, pretty much everything was updated and upgraded. It was longer than the previous generation but somehow shaved off 95kg compared to the MK1 it replaced. Add in the updated 1UZ it had carried over from the original car, it made 260bhp & 270 Ib-ft torque which meant an upgraded 0-60 time of 7.5 seconds.
With a lot of Lexus’ these days, the LS400 came equipped with an absolute ton of fancy equipment as standard and the MK2 was no different. Dual-Zone climate control was added as well as rear cupholders, in regards to the entertainment system, an in-dash CD changer was also added as well as an option. The best part though was the electric memory steering wheel, it would come out and greet you when you turned the key and then go back once you got out the car to make it easier to get in and out. Compared to its rivals, for the amount of kit it got as standard, it was by far more than the equivalent Mercedes or Jaguar, add in the lower price and its no real wonder the LS400 flew out the showroom.
What made the MK2 so good though was its packaging. See, with the likes of Mercedes or Audi or even Jaguar, the Lexus never had an LWB option which meant that it never went crazier in the price for a bit more legroom. They were able to make it longer thus giving it better interior legroom while still retaining the same wheelbase as the original.
The MK2 also got enhancements in safety with larger crumple zones and 3-point seatbelts at all possible positions. On top of all that, it also got a collapsible steering column making it one of the first cars to ever have an electrically operated collapsible steering column. While in Europe and in the US it was badged as a Lexus, over in Japan it was badged as the Toyota Celsior and with every JDM spec car, these came with even more options than the equivalent Lexus badged models. These included reclining rear seats, a GPS system as well as more exterior colors.
In 1997, the LS400 was facelifted to give it a fresher appearance, this included new headlamp units, a new grille and refreshed rear lamps as well as new front fascia, new wing mirrors and a new set of wheels. Interior wise it got retractable rear headrests, a trip computer, reading lamps and ultraviolet tinted glass. Mechanically speaking, it got a new 5-speed automatic gearbox and a new state of the art VVTi system raising power to 290bhp and a 30Ib-ft increase in torque which meant that acceleration times & fuel economy was vastly increased.
By the early ’00s, the LS400 got even more equipment thrown at it, these include the option of the CD-ROM based GPS system taken from its Japanese cousin, front side airbags, HID headlamps, a traction control system and brake assist. In Japan, the Celsior got the first-ever laser adaptive cruise control system which was big news back then. Unlike modern systems where it controls the throttle and brakes according to the vehicle in front, the Celsior’s version worked off throttle control and downshifting.
What To Look For.
While Lexus’ are uber reliable compared to its rivals, like every car they do have their issues. While Toyota & Lexus took home many a reliability award during the time of production, don’t expect these to be perfect.
First of all, due to all the equipment onboard it is no doubt that after nearly 30 years on the road something will come up and one of these is the LCD screen for the clock & climate control going black.
The power steering fluid can leak which can then go all over the alternator failing it in the process. if this does happen you’d need to fork out on a new alternator & power steering pump.
Bad spark plugs can cause a shuddering on these cars, with a V8 you, of course, have to buy 8 of these but due to plugs not being too expensive these are relatively affordable. While you are there, change out the ignition coils as these can also cause similar issues.
Catalytic converters are also an issue on these cars and replacements aren’t exactly cheap, quote a good few hundred pounds for them to be replaced. For these, it’d be easier to get these from the main dealers as aftermarket ones don’t last too long on these.
Check both the seat rails & the seatbelts as these can get tired & blocked over time. Thankfully there are a good few guides on how to fix these issues so they aren’t as bad as first thought.
The main issue really with this car and with every Lexus it seems are the eye-watering parts prices & labor costs from the dealer. Even though it runs Toyota parts, Lexus charges a good chunk more for their parts and a lot of these can be crazy expensive. Thankfully the Lexus LS400 & Toyota Celsior don’t have too many issues compared to a lot of big cars so it shouldn’t be needing these parts all the time and with Lexus & Toyota specialists all over the place, it is easy to find places that can fix stuff cheaper than the main dealers.
With prices for these hitting a very low bracket, it is very easy to find yourself lusting after one of these brilliant cars and with Toyota’s impeccable reliability record it makes perfect sense to buy one over an equivalent Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz or Audi A8. As long as you can find a perfect one in an amazing condition they’ll be bound to last for millions of miles. Parts prices and labor are expensive, especially at main dealers but with a lot of specialists around the place, it really isn’t difficult to get a majority of the issues fixed a whole lot cheaper.
Hope You Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson
For those who are new around here, I have owned a Volvo C70 Coupé MK1, lovingly known as ProjectC70 for well over 4 years now. Over those years it has been on quite a journey to bring it back up to a standard befitting of such a brilliant little car. Now when you are so busy fixing up cars you tend to sometimes forget certain elements of ownership issues like birthdays and anniversaries, I know I do. So when it came to my C70’s 19th birthday I just had to celebrate it the only way I could.
Recently I have hardly been posting or writing and that has been due to lack of actual work happening on the car to be quite honest. While not a lot has actually been happening regarding the car, I have still got plans in my head and I am still following them through slowly but surely. Now my C70 has officially hit its 19th birthday, the best way to celebrate it is to buy numerous amounts of car parts and get them ready for fitment. In the last few months, some of you may have noticed that I had removed the dashboard from the car to fit chrome rings around the dials, on top of that I also removed a majority of the interior to clean it all out and dry out after a spurt of water ingress started to show its leery head. Now they are done I am now going to move on to some far more exciting jobs and tasks. These include getting some money together to get the steering wheel refurbished, the seats refurbished and possibly retrimmed as well as the main CD player fixed as well as numerous other small fixes. At the moment I am going to be going out on a whim and buying parts for the car which will need to be custom-made to fit, I’m not going to say too much on what they are in case they don’t fit but expect it to be a first if they do.
On top of all the interior jobs I have done thus far and the ones I still need to do, I have also recently done a coolant change on the C70 so that it runs cooler now it’s getting into the colder months. While doing said coolant change I changed over a few rusty clips so there is no risk of any of them failing and causing the car to overheat or worse – blow up! My next mechanical job will be working out why the cruise control isn’t engaging, If I can’t work out how to fix it I’ll more than likely go on to replacing all the old suspension components with new stuff both front & rear.
Apart from the Suspension, the cruise control issues, and the bodywork/metalwork, ProjectC70 is in a very good state for its age, with a majority of small jobs needing doing I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel which is something I’d never even consider on saying a good few months back.
Even after 4 years of ownership, my love for ProjectC70 is still there and as long as it runs, drives and puts a smile on my face I’ll be having it for a long time. For now, I’m currently fixing up the parts I’ve ordered hence why the work on the car has stopped but that in itself hasn’t stopped me loving it any less.
I hope this explains why a lot of posts & articles about ProjectC70 have slowly come to a halt, as soon as the weather starts to clear up the best that it can I will start to get back to work on fixing it up and making it the best it can be. Considering that ProjectC70 has now officially hit 19 years old it is only right to get back to work on it again and making it the best it can be. For now, though, I’d like to raise a glass to the C70’s 19th birthday. It is not every day a modern car can reach even 10 years old without too many issues let alone nearly 20. Volvo really did create a well-built product with the C70 and it shows.
Hope you Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson
Aston Martins have always been truly amazing cars. all the way to the engineering of them to the gorgeous looks, everything about them is impeccable. One of those cars which fits the bill is the original Vanquish. Now, of course, everyone knows the original Vanquish from the James Bond film ‘Die Another Day’ however, not everyone remembers the Vanquish I’m about to re-introduce you to. I am of course talking about the 2004 Vanquish Zagato Roadster concept.
When the original Vanquish was released in 2002, it was met with a very warm welcome, it was a completely new platform with a then-brand-new 6.0 V12 powering it, on top of that it was absolutely gorgeous and in some ways, it started the mold for Astons during the early noughties. When Aston Martin brings out a new model, they tend to bring out a Coupé first and then a convertible model known as the Volante and they have been doing this for years. With the Vanquish, however, for some reason unbeknown to the general public, you could only get it in Coupé body style. Now while this never really bothered a majority of Vanquish owners, a good few Aston aficionados were desperately waiting for a Volante-esque model to appear. While Aston themselves never released an official Volante variant of the car, a very well known design studio decided to collaborate with the brand to create a now one-off roadster variant of the Vanquish, I am of course talking about Zagato.
Now the relationship between Zagato & Aston Martin goes way back to the early ’60s with the DB4 GT Zagato and has since continued with the V8 Zagato of the ’80s, the DB7 of the early ’00s and more recently the second-gen Vanquish Zagato. In fact, I’d personally say that the relationship they have together is synonymous, they just go hand in hand. With the relationship that the two companies have it was only fair that Zagato were the ones to create such a beautiful masterpiece that is the Vanquish Roadster.
So what exactly makes up the ingredients of the Zagato Roadster? Well, it started off in life as a pre-production Coupé that was sent over to Zagato’s headquarters in Milan, Italy. From there, an extensive amount of work was carried out to transform it into what we have here. Away goes the metal fixed roof in favor of a double-bubble affair made entirely of glass behind the front seats. The roof is a cloth style fixture with an apparent metal hardtop being included as well for those cold winter months. The old automatic gearbox has been ditched for a proper 6-speed manual affair and it’s so much better for it. The front end of it is pretty much standard barring the Zagato badge on the front wings but the rear is on a completely different level.
The first thing you notice when looking at the rear end of it is the DB7 AR1 style tail lamps, the second thing you spot is the integrated boot spoiler that incorporates the third brake lamp, below that is the Aston Martin crest to show off its origins. Just under that sits the rear license plate which then leads on to the simple but effective rear bumper & the exhaust tips that sit each side of the bumper. It is simply gorgeous and yet so distinctively Aston Martin. Note that there is no Vanquish or Zagato badges on the rear of the car whatsoever. If it didn’t have the Aston Martin badge you honestly wouldn’t know it was one until you saw the front of it.
The interior is typical Vanquish barring a few things, one of those being the manual gearknob sticking out the center console and the other being the red interior. The color, in fact, takes up a majority of what you see. The only real parts which break up the interior are the small but effective silver trim which adorns the door cards, the center console around the gearknob & the grey air vents. Adding to this is the two-tone steering wheel consisting of both a red & grey color combination. Now normally a Red interior like this does come across as off-putting, especially as the exterior color of the car is a really lovely blue but in the case of this car, it really works well together. a very small detail but a change none-the-less is the panel where the clock and engine button sits, now normally in a normal Vanquish, it’d seat the gearbox buttons but as this is a manual they’re simply removed as they’re not needed. to finish off the interior look, it has some rather lovely set of white dials finished with chrome rings around the outside to make it that extra bit classy.
Want to hear the best part of all this though? Of course, you do. See, unlike many other concepts & one-offs, the Vanquish here is a working car that has even been wind tunnel tested to make sure it’s as quiet as can be at relatively high speeds. Over the 15 years since it’s launch, it has been able to rack up just under 17 thousand miles which may not sound like a lot but compared to other one-offs & concepts, it shows that it is actually a useable car. This isn’t just some showpiece which doesn’t move, in fact in its early days it went to all different shows including the Concours D’Elegance back in 2004. In fact, it was actually bought a little bit after the show was over by somebody who simply fell in love with it and wanted it to add to his collection. It stayed in America for the majority of its life until it got bought & imported back to the UK in 2017 where it has been ever since.
I remember reading about the Zagato Roadster in a James Bond magazine when I was young but I never really took much notice until I recently started reading about Vanquishes in general. Out of all the special & rare Aston’s made over the years, the Zagato Roadster has to be one that has simply been forgotten about which is a real shame as it is truly stunning.
It is very difficult to make an already gorgeous car even better looking but looking at it states that with a little bit of help by a company like Zagato anything can be achieved. In my opinion, it should’ve been made as a production style model but as Aston at the time were busy releasing car after car, it was difficult for them financially to commit to such a thing which makes this the only Zagato roadster in the world, such a shame really.
Hope You Enjoy!
Are you the kind of person to be forever joining car groups but getting nowhere, do you want to join a car group with no hate, and do you want to make new friends in the process? Well, have I got the group for you! Let me introduce you to the wonderful place that is Motorheads International.
So what exactly is Motorheads International or MHI for short? Well MHI is a car page & group over on Facebook, with accounts both on Instagram & Twitter if that is your thing. It was created way back in 2011 and has been going ever since and has grown into a group of 18k members strong as of right now. As the name might suggest it’s an international group with members coming from everywhere around the world – whether you are from Sweden, Australia, America or even Italy everyone is welcome.
The best part about MHI is both the variety of cars as well as the owners who own the beauties. You’ll find people on there who are vintage race cars drivers, mechanics, tow truck drivers or even pilots who own anything from a Honda Beat to a Ferrari or Lamborghini. Everyone is really friendly and also helpful which is something you don’t hardly see in car groups these days – especially ones this large!!
If there is any hint of trouble, the admin team who run the group get onto the case straight away and get the group back to the way a group should be which is chilled, civil and above all hate free.
The group is now so large and so out there that if you search hard enough on YouTube you might even find an advert for it on some videos, the exact same can be said for Facebook as well. The group is not far from hitting 20K members so if you ever want to join then I’ll leave a link to the group so you can always get involved.
Josefin, who is a member of the admin team from Scandinavia is always out at different events both photographing & representing the group wherever she goes so that the group gets bigger and bigger and she is not the only one, a plethora of different members are doing the exact same. If you are one for going to events, you’ll find a good few getting set up by fellow members that you can always join and chill at.
On top of all that, the group has its own website which sells merchandise, whether it be clothing or even stickers for your car, you’ll find something for you. With good prices as well as a plethora of different good quality merchandise for sale, you won’t be breaking the bank neither.
I got involved in the group with thanks to an admin member called Colton who sent me an invite over on Messenger to join, now at first, I was apprehensive as it’s not the normal way I’d personally get invited or even join a group but there was no need to worry whatsoever. I was welcomed in with open arms and I’ve been in the group with ever since!
I’m in a lot of groups over on Facebook, but MHI alongside RPM365 are my two go-to groups to get involved with, in fact, I’d say that they both have very similar traits. They both have numerous active members with posts going up at any time of the day, hardly any hate and generally a brilliant group to be a part of.
As promised, I’ll post the links to the group page if anyone wants to join, lets help get this group to 20k members. If you like the sound of the group, I’d personally join it as you’ll probably not come across a group as chilled out as them.
While there, join the group chat for car-based conversations & a chilled out chat with fellow members and within no time you’ll end up making some new car friends in the process.
FB Group page link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/299872620053201/
Hope You Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson
These days when it comes down to the age of a vehicle, a car can be one of three things. It can be a ‘Modern’, a ‘Retro’ or a ‘Classic’. Classics are classed as being well over 25 years old and are pretty much sought after for petrol-heads. Thing is though, what if I was to tell you that there is an age bracket which separates ‘Moderns’ from ‘Retros’. These are known as Modern Classics and generally, sit between 15-25 years old.
Now, these might be nothing new, even though no one hardly talks about them modern classics are accepted in communities. With this article, however, I want to ask a general question and that is this; What exactly makes a Modern Classic and what does it take for a car become one? It’s no lie that I love both Classic & Retro cars. In fact, I wrote an article on them explaining as to why but with some lovely new machinery coming out recently from a plethora of manufacturers, It is safe to say that I’m into modern cars as well.
Now Modern Classics for me personally are cars which while relatively old now were new when I was young, these can be anything from the original Ford Focus RS all the way up to a Pagani Zonda C12 for example. The reason why I’d consider these modern classics is that they’re both at that age where they are kind of forgotten about compared to both moderns & classics. Add in the popularity these cars once had, and it’s no surprise that these are becoming modern classics.
The thing is though, not every car can be a modern classic as I’ll prove. Take for example my own car and my stepdads Seat Leon. both of these cars were made around about the same time, both of them were relatively well-loved which shown both in sales & reviews and they both were replaced by their newer incarnations at around the same time. However, for me personally, the Leon doesn’t come across as a modern classic. For a start, it’s only a 1.4 so it’s nothing really special. Would I feel different if it was a Cupra or a Cupra R? More than likely but as it’s an everyday model it doesn’t come across as anything special, never mind a modern classic. This moves me onto my car, while it’s not the ‘T5’ which is the one which will more than likely gravitate towards being a modern classic, C70’s as a whole are quite rare cars and have a very strange but special upbringing. For a start, all MK 1 C70’s were engineered by Tom Walkinshaw Racing which made them drive rather well for a big car, add in the rivals and at the time Volvo’s 4th ever coupe, it has everything there to make it a modern classic.
For those reasons you can kind of understand why I have it in my mind why my car will be a modern classic and why the Seat, unfortunately, can’t be. Trying to judge what makes a modern classic isn’t easy though, in fact, these days a lot of cars you’d never think of being modern classics are starting to become collectible by both collectors & buyers everywhere. Take the humble 5th generation Toyota Celica for example, not everyone is a fan of them and that is understandable but it seems that the years have been kind as they’re starting to rise in value to people & enthusiasts in the know.
The thing is, modern classics are different to everyone, take for example a Fiesta RS Turbo from the early nineties. For anyone who was born around that time they might consider that a modern classic whereas I’d classify it as retro instead which can make things confusing and awkward.
You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned anything about the RX’s situation in this debate. Well for me, even though the Lexus has what it takes to be a truly special car in years to come. For me personally, it’s not quite old enough yet to be classified as a modern classic. With hybrids still in 2019 being quite a taboo subject, I feel like it’s going to be quite a bit of time before we see our Lexus as a modern-day classic.
Some of you may have read my Calibra article a few weeks ago and gasped at the fact that it is turning 30 years old this year, I certainly know I did. The thing is, when I was young and living in London, I used to see these nearly everywhere to the point they were fairly common so to find out that they were going to be celebrating such a milestone it certainly shocked me. They’d been under the radar for so long that even I forgot they were as old as they were and that is the typical story of a modern classic.
So what exactly makes a modern classic? Age is, of course, a major factor, now I’d personally say anything from 15 to 20 years old is a modern classic but other people may have more stringent rules on the matter. For me, the car has to be something rather special, whether it’s a small city car or a high-end supercar. If it is something which is well-loved then that’s another sure-fire way of spotting a modern classic. Last but not least, for me, they need to be relatively rare. There is no point in trying to consider a relatively modern Fiesta as a modern classic because they are nearly everywhere these days which kind of defeats the point. Now, of course, rarity isn’t everything when it comes to a modern classic however it does help.
So going by that what would you guys consider a modern classic? For me, there are lots of cars which fit that bill, from Ford Mondeo ST220’s all the way to Vauxhall Monaro VXR’s even down to the humble Rover 75 V6, these cars all share something good about them which all make them perfect candidates for being modern classics. Is there anything else which can go on that list? Let me know in the comments and I’ll share my thoughts.
Hope you enjoy!
By Alex Jebson
Getting older is not easy, especially for cars. So when it comes time to celebrate a specific cars birthday you’ll always find it’s a big thing. So with that in mind, I’d like you to raise a glass and celebrate the 30th birthday of the Vauxhall Calibra.
So, what is the Vauxhall Calibra and why is it so special to us European petrol heads? Well, the Calibra was Vauxhall/Opel’s replacement for the outgoing manta B2. It was based on the then-new MK3 Cavalier/Vectra A, however, unlike the cavalier, the Calibra was a whole lot more aerodynamic. For the time, it was the sleekest car available which was huge back in 1989. The looks stayed relatively the same with a few minor changes midway through the production run up until 1997 when production ceased. Externally these included an updated front grille, slightly different headlamps as well as slightly altered front & rear bumpers while internally there was a newer steering wheel & slightly altered dash with airbags fitted.
Engines were plentiful in the Calibra range. Sizes ranged from a plethora of 2.0 liters all the way up to the 168bhp 2.5 V6, the 2.0’s could be had in either 8 valve or 16 valve configurations with the early 16v ‘Red Top’ lumps being engineered by Cosworth however these never really had the dynamics to match the Calibras beautiful sleek bodywork. That was until 1992 when a truly spectacular variant of the Calibra was unveiled.
I’m of course talking about the 4×4 Turbo. These are known by owners and Vauxhall people alike as the holy grail of the Calibra range and for good reasons. Engine-wise, it had the C20LET which was a turbocharged version of the already existing C20XE, however, the changes didn’t stop there. The 4×4 turbo also had a six-speed Getrag gearbox fitted to help get the most of the turbo 4 pot, these two helped the Calibra tons but Vauxhall wasn’t finished just yet. Normally, the Calibra was a three-door FWD coupé which was fine until you started converting it to run an AWD layout. With most of the lineup consisting of mainly FWD cars, Vauxhall took the independent rear suspension setup from the already existing Omega and fabricated it to fit the Calibra chassis, this made the car perform leaps and bounds compared to the FWD variants. Power output for the 4×4’s stood at 204bhp and with a top speed of over 150mph, these were quick for a mid-nineties Vauxhall.
The 2.5 V6 C25XE engine arrived for the Calibra in 1993 and while it was down on power compared to the 4×4 Turbo at only 168bhp, It was credited for being the better one to both own & drive due to its linear power delivery. This engine was used as the base for the 4×4 DTM race car which had success in the German Touring Car Championship.
While on the subject of the DTM championship, after the success, Vauxhall came up with the DTM limited edition to celebrate. These were only available in white to mimic the race car. Limited to only 22 cars, trying to find one now is not easy as these are becoming future classics & owners aren’t wanting to get rid any time soon.
The Calibra was able to fend off competition from a lot of coupé’s for quite a good amount of years and with race success under its belt, it sold relatively well for a European GM product. It could never outsell the likes of a Mercedes-Benz or BMW as these were the darlings of the coupé market in the nineties but it wasn’t a complete flop. With its sister car the cavalier taking numerous BTCC championships with thanks to the legend that is John Cleland, both the Cavalier & Calibra were loved, especially in the UK.
With everyone in the nineties wanting to be seen, the Calibra was a very good credible car to buy. It had racing success under its belt as did the Cavalier it shared a lot of components with. It looked fantastic as well with its gorgeous bodywork and with the C20LET model in the 4×4 turbo, it made for a decent performance car and if you couldn’t quite stretch to the turbo, the normal variants were just as good.
Unfortunately, in 1995 GM decided to pull the plug on the Cavalier for the upcoming Vectra B and due to poor sales in its later life, the Calibra ceased production two years later. It lasted for 8 years and with that came many a good variant and a car for everyone. In the UK it crafted the way for many a performance Vauxhall throughout the ’90s and put them on the map for making really good performance cars which weren’t too expensive to buy or run and that statement still stands true 30 years after the Calibra’s launch. Even today, Vauxhall has never made a replacement as of yet which is a shame.
To celebrate the 30th birthday of the car, there is due to be a static display ran by CalibraClub.net, Performance Vauxhall Show & Performance Vauxhall at this years PVS at Bruntingthorpe Airfield, there are tons of Calibra owners wanting to join but slots are only for ten cars. Expect to see anything from early models to the limited edition cars and anything in between. The PVS or ‘Performance Vauxhall Show’ as it’s fully known is a huge UK-based Vauxhall show so that’ll be the best place to celebrate the cars birthday in style.
So, raise your glasses to the Calibra, a brilliant car often overlooked by people. If you ever find a 4×4 Turbo or a limited edition Calibra for sale, go out and buy one as soon as possible, you won’t regret it.
Hope You Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson