S: T he S tig v s To p Ge ar
A bri dg e too far? Bargain thrills in Yorkshire and Cumbria Plus the latest motoring news, rev iews, and opinion w w w. l i f e o n c a r s . b l o g s p o t . c o m
In this issue 3 Coming soon Finding your Ford Fiesta, Citroen DS3 or MINI Countryman a little less exciting than you’d expected? You should try these hardcore versions just unveiled for next year’s World Rally Championship
THE magazine is back! The question is...why? You're reading only the second ever magazine from Life On Cars, following the pilot version earlier this year. That issue was only ever meant to be a one-off, but in the end I decided there's just too much going on in the world of motoring to not do another. For starters, there's the trio of rally cars on the opposite page, which between them are set to herald the sport's most exciting season in years. As much as I'd love to see Ford finally winning again, the smart money's got to be on Sebastian Loeb and the Citroen contenders.
Then there's the LA Auto Show, including the Stateside debut for Jaguar's incredible C-X75, and the ongoing debacle of whether The Stig from Top Gear should have been unveiled or not. But most spectacular of all is the announcement of not one, but five new sports cars from Lotus - a company, don't forget, that's been to the brink of bankruptcy more than once in recent memory. Finally, there's just room to mention work on a special Car of The Year issue, due out later this year, but that's another issue for another time. Until now, enjoy this one...
Created by EDIToR David Simister DESIGNER David Simister www.lifeoncars.blogspot.com firstname.lastname@example.org
4 Fire up the... ...the latest contenders for your cash. Motoring writer David Simister has been behind more of the year’s most important cars, including the controversially-styled new MINI, the Countryman
6 The famous five No, not the characters from the Enid Blyton stories, but the quintet of new Lotus models recently revealed as part of the company’s quest to take on Porsche. Jaws to the floor, please...
8 LA Auto Show 2010 All the latest news from the increasingly important Stateside show, from the American debut of Jaguar’s glorious C-XJ5 concept car to a curious cabriolet version of Nissan’s Murano off-roader
10 The Stig secret You’ve been living in a cave if you don’t know the masked racer’s true identity by now, but why was the British media so hooked by the story? David Simister investigates media phenomenom of The Stig
11 Jaguar is 75! The company unveiled a turbine-powered supercar to celebrate, but at Life On Cars we couldn’t afford that. So we went endurance racing in Wales with an old XJ6 instead
Lancashire and Yorkshire are hiding some of Britain’s best driving roads, as we discovered when we took two Minis and a £100 Renault 5 to the Lakes and Dales in search of a good museum
ADDITIoNAL PHoToGARPHY: MINI, Ford and Citroen, Page 3; Mitsubishi, page 5; Pages 6 and 7, Lotus Cars; Nissan and Jaguar, Pages 8 and 9; Lotus Cars, page 14; all other photography by David Simister.
14 Best of the blog
Read Life On Cars each Wednesday in The Champion newspaper, on the web at www.lifeoncars.blogspot.com and on the radio on the Live From Studio One show on Dune 107.9fm
What connects the Lexus IS-F, David Hasselhoff, and Dragons’ Den? Easy - they’ve all been given a grilling in the Life On Cars column in The Champion. Here’s some of the highlights
16 Rover and out? David Simister has moved up in the world, thanks to a regal Rover that cost just £300. Pity about the tartan rug jokes, then
© Life on Cars 2010
Life On Cars
The cars you could be driving next year
Spirit of the Sixties YoU’LL have to turn the page for the full Fire Up The verdict, but MINI’s newest model - the four wheel drive Countryman isn’t really in the spirit of its cult classic predecessor. BMW are obviously keen to prove otherwise because they’ve just revealed a hardcore rally version, which is much more like it. With the same red colour scheme and foglight-heavy frontage as the Monte Carlo rally winners from the 1960s and stylised union flag on the windscreen, you can’t help feel the car’s makers are going for a bit of a Paddy Hopkirk nostalgia in their attempts to win the 2011 World Rally Championship.
It’s one of a trio of new contenders unveiled for next year’s World Rally Championship, with the emphasis on moving to smaller, lighter machines. Ford is keen on fighting for top honours on the rally stages, with this agressively-styled take on the latest Fiesta being the latest in a long line of rally machines from the
company, and Citroen, who scored a string of rally victories with its C4 WRC, is hoping to repeat its success with the DS3 WRC by employing the skills of rallying superstar Sebastian Loeb once again. It’s impossible to say who is going to win next year’s WRC, but it’ll be a blast finding out...
For the latest car news check out the Life On Cars blog at: lifeoncars.blogspot.com
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Fire up the...
The road test verdict on the motors that matter now makes its baby ...MINI Countryman BMW bigger than ever before THERE'S a little-known tale from the creation of the new MINI I suddenly remembered while roadtesting the Countryman. The story goes that just after BMW signed off the reinvention of the British small car classic, they figured that if their smallest car is called a MINI, then logically its eventual bigger brother should be christened the MAXI. only when they realised British Leyland had already tried - and not entirely successfully - did the idea get quietly dropped. This, to all extents and purposes, is that car; a MINI that stretches the idea of being minature to its vaguest, fuzziest
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realms yet. It is MINI made massive, a car that's trying to grow faster than the families spawned by the company's original customers. Don't move out of your MINI and into an MPV just yet, not when you can have the same retro style in a slightly bigger package. That's the idea, anyway. But the Countryman cutely named in homage of the Sixties Mini estates - comes across as a turgid take on its smaller and sportier sisters, boasting all the familiar MINI styling cues but in a slightly bloated way. It's the same story on the inside too, with an interior
that blends its use of colours and materials well but comes across as chintzy in some of the fussier details, particularly the pizza-sized speedometer surrouding the stereo. out on the road it handles impressively for something its size, with a smooth feel through the brakes and suspension, but it feels almost unrelated to the sprightly MINI hatchbacks, with the fun factor strangely absent. Where it does impress is not the packaging but the dressing, with the retro touches like the cool rocker switches on the dashboard being fa-
miliar to MINI moguls, but almost unheard of among rivals like Ford's Kuga and Nissan's Quashqai, which focus more on practicality than pose value. But in the end there's one big problem that'd stop me buying one: Skoda's Yeti, which can't match the MINI brand's catchet but makes up for it by being better almost everywhere else, particularly where driving, practicality and value for money are concerned. If you really want driving fun for all the famil, buy one of those. Weirdly, if you want the most MINI for your money, you're better off sticking with the smaller ones.
It’s a rare thing: a 4x4 for people who actually drive off road IT'S big, brash, and an unapologetic throwback to another age, but by gum you'd want it on your side in a fight. Mitsubishi's latest Shogun is the perfect car should you ever decide Southport needs a regime changePaint the letters ‘U' and ‘N' onto the bonnet of the very white 3.2 diesel version I tested and you could even pass yourself off as a peacekeeper, because this is exactly the sort of tough trooper of a vehicle the United Nations swears by. It's good enough for them, but is it still good enough for us? out on the road the Shogun drives exactly how you'd expect a tall fourwheel-drive weighing it at
...Mitsubishi Shogun three tonnes to, with the 168bhp V6 pulling well enough but being lumbered by the way the body rolls into the corners. The handy rear camera helps make parking a doddle and the oodles of torque are perfect for towing trailers and caravans, but you'll never es-
cape the sheer size of the Shogun. But it's biggest problem is the same one which affects all of the really big off-roaders, because buying one of these is bound to attract the unwanted attention of bystanders, who don't care what you have to tow or carry. Driv-
ing a Shogun - or a Discovery or Grand Cherokee for that matter - seems to attract an endless series of dirty looks, flicked fingers and scathing remarks. The Shogun is tough as nails, unstoppable on the rough stuff and a titan of the towing world. But politically correct it isn't.
higher than you'd like, but these are minor gripes with a grippy and involving Yorkshire Terrier of a car which snaps at the ankle of much bigger motors. But cast your eyes back to the cabin itself and you'll find you're in a very different world, with
swathes of metal giving the dash a shine of quality, and plenty of space for you and your passengers. It's clear Citroen is determined not only to take on the MINI with the DS3, but the likes of Alfa's MiTo and Audi's A1 too. It's that rare thing; a Citroen that's cool.
...Citroen DS3 It’s goodbye to cashback deals and depreciation as the French firm launches a luxurious take on the hot hatch. The good news is that it’s a cracker to drive THE hot hatch hits of yesteryear have been remixed and re-released by pop pickers Citroen for the first of the firm's new luxury lineup. Check out the company's sporty DS3 hatchback and it's obvious that the styling's definitely straight out of 2010, and defiantly not retro like its MINI and Fiat 500 rivals. It's got some clever styling cues, like the way the side pillars never quite
reach the roofline, but it's not a car you could ever mistake as something that's escaped from a motoring museum. Anyone used to the old C2 or Saxo VTS is going to be in familiar territory the first time they take the new arrival to a twisty corner - it's a blast, in the same way the best hot hatches are. The too-light clutch takes a little time to get used to and you always seem to sit a little
Life On Cars
IT'S the Paris Motorshow and every right-minded petrolhead is pondering the same question; why launch one new model when you can launch five? I always imagined the chaps at Lotus would get quite offended if you called them a conventional car maker, so it's somehow appropriate that just months after returning to the world's racetracks with a semi-official F1 effort they've launched a quintet of new cars. Not only have the Elise, Esprit, Elite and Elan models been revisted with a selection of sports cars in different shapes and sizes, the Norfolk company's also gunning for the likes of Porsche's Panamera with its four-door Eterne, making it the first Lotus saloon since the slightly loopy Lotus Carlton of the early 1990s. Is the company's PR coup five times better than just launching a single model, which on its own would have been enough to steal the show, like the Evora managed to at London's motorshow two years ago? I'm not so sure.
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L ot u s frui t Last month a British sports car company launched not one, but five new models in a bid to become the British answer to Porsche. These are the stunning new models that Lotus reckon will put them on the map
The new Esprit is the most immediately exotic and exciting - it's a real Ferrari-chaser, and the first we've had from Lotus since the original Esprit died off several years ago - and the Eterne is a bold venture into uncharted waters, but the others stray from Lotus heartlands a little too quickly. The ÂŁ35,000 Elise, for instance, is getting worryingly close to Porsche Boxster territory for what's meant to be a small, lightweight little sports car, but it's the Elan which is almost unrecognisable from its illustrious predecessors. Lotus reckons Elan drivers demand more but the last two were a success because they gave less - as in less weight, which made them a favourite with keen drivers. And the Elite? As a ÂŁ115,000 Lotus it makes little sense, but I love it already. Clearly nobody actually needs one, but that's exactly why I'd have one. I have until 2014 to save up.
Clockwise, from top left: The Elan, shown at Paris in classic Lotus yellow, moves in a more upmarket direction than its two predecessors, aiming for the Porsche 911 and costing around £75,000. The Elise, meanwhile, gets V6 power for the first time, and is expected to cost around £35,000. The Eterne, bottom, marks new territory for the firm, and is expected to compete with Porsche’s Panamera, in much the same way the Elite, at £115,000 will take on the Mercedes SL. But it’s the Esprit which should get petrolheads most excited, reviving a classic supercar name and taking aim straight at the Ferrari 458 Italia.
Five reasons to get your name on the waiting list
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LA Auto Show Starring the American debut of the most beautiful Jaguar for a generation, the turbine-powered C-X75. Oh, and a raft of eco-friendly debutantes too World debuts A number of new cars are being shown for the first time, including the Chevrolet Camaro Convertible, Saab 9-4X, Volkswagen Eos, the five door take on the Range Rover Evoque and Chryslerâ€™s 200. For more info visit www.lifeoncars. blogspot.com
Jaguar C-X75 ALRIGHT, we'll come clean; this stunning bit of kit was actually made public at the Paris Motorshow more than a month ago, but as it's impressing the Americans just as much, why not? Using gas turbines, electricity and a sophisticated four-wheel-drive system might all sound a bit space age but in truth Jaguar's C-X75 is as much about the 75-year-old
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company's past as the future, with shades of EType, XJ220 and even the XK180 concept car in its evocative curves. "The C-X75 is everything a Jaguar should be. It possesses remarkable poise and grace yet at the same time has the excitement and potency of a true supercar," said Jaguar design director Ian Callum, whose delicate sketching also brought us
the Aston Martin DB7 and the current Jaguar XK. "You could argue this is as close to a pure art form as a concept car can get and we believe it is a worthy homage to 75 years of iconic Jaguar design." But - as with its illustrious predecessors - there's pace to go with the grace, with the combined 780bhp from all four of the turbines making the
C-X75 capable of reaching 205mph, and getting from a standstill to 62mph in just 3.4 seconds. Will it make the production? Given its exotic powerplant and the number of previous Jaguar concepts which have failed to make it off the motorshow stand, probably not. Fingers crossed, though...
w 2010 Toyota RAV-4 EV
ToYoTA has teamed up with US electric sports car specialists Tesla to create this, a volt-power version of the RAV-4 off-roader. Although it hasn’t been officially confirmed yet both companies hope to see it on sale in the States by the summer of 2012.
Nissan Murano Crosscabriolet NISSAN’S sleek SUV, the Murano, is now available as a convertible, even if we’re still trying to figure out why. Designed to carry four adults in leather-lined al fresco comfort, the company say it
is the first ever crossover cabriolet, despite Jeep being able to offer you an open top Wrangler for roughly the same
price. If you’re tempted to try one out, you’d better head to the US, where it goes on sale early next year.
Volvo Air Motion CoMING a close second to the Jag in the jawdropping stakes is this, a Volvo that's lighter than a Formula one car and is powered by turbines soaring 1,000ft above it. No, really.
The Volvo Air Motion is not, the Swedish company argues, a car at all. It's a carver, which uses turbines flown like kites above it to harness the power of the wind, which the Air Motion then turns
into electricity. Unsurprisingly, it was designed in California, a state which loves both eco-friendly vehicles and the kite-surfing buggies which helped inspire this machine's design.
Volvo says the Air Motion not only demonstrates the beauty and purity of Scandinavian design, but also delivers a guilt free, raw driving experience. If IKEA sold cars?
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Some say... CHANCES are you'll know the nation's favourite tame racing driver. Some say he's a Formula Three driver and that after threatening to reveal his identity in an autobiography, he took on the world's biggest broadcaster in the High Court. All we (officially) know is he's called The Stig. The nationals' ongoing fascination with Top Gear's mystery man in the white racing overalls shows not only how big the Beeb's biggest programme is in 2010, but just how far the show something its creator claimed would be getting back to basics earlier this year - has moved away from being the pokey motoring show I grew up with. What most viewers forget is that the anonymous automotive character has revealed himself before, when in 2003 Perry McCarthy revealed he was the man behind the original, black-suited Stig. Top Gear dispatched with him in characteristically outlandish fashion, firing him and a nitrous-powered Jaguar XJS off the end of an aircraft carrier - but because the show wasn't as widely-watched at the time, the nationals largely ignored it. But when Ben Collins, the man behind McCarthy's white-suited replacement, decided he too wanted to reveal his
David Simister on why the UK media were hooked when The Stig was finally unmasked this year secretive role on the show, Top Gear had grown massively into a programme with an estimated 350 million viewers worldwide - making it one of the Beeb's biggest earners - and the media, already obsessed over the presenters' celebrity status, quickly pounced on the Stig story.
Tabloid sensation A number of national newspapers, notably The Daily Star, had already outed Collins as the character in January 2009, so when news of the autobiography and the High Court case hit the news in July this year, the Stig's identity had been "an open secret" for over a year. " The whole point of the Stig is the mystique – the bizarre characteristics he has, the wonderment created about what he might think, feel, do or look like. Kids adore the conceit, and I believe adults, although they know it’s a man in a suit (or is it?), gladly buy into the whole conceit because they find it entertaining," Andy Wilman, Top Gear's producer, wrote on his blog during the case, where he angrily defended the BBC's
right to keep the Stig secret. "Even the papers, who love to make mischief, have kept everyone guessing over the years because they acknowledge that viewers like the Stig secrecy thing." But in the end it was The Stig's lack of secrecy which killed the BBC's case, with Mr Justice Morgan, the high court judge who turned down the broadcaster's injunction request to block publication of the book in a private hearing , saying that "for all practicaly purposes" anyone who wanted to know The Stig's identity could easily obtain it through the media.
Clarkson’s shock "It was such a shock. It was horrible actually because I liked him and he came round to my house and had drinks and all that time he was writing a book," Jeremy Clarkson said a week later, in a video interview published by oxfordshire-based community news service WitneyTV. "He's just decided he'd rather be ... put it this way he's history as far as we are concerned. He's sacked."
Ben Collins - and Harper Collins, who will be publishing The Man in the White Suit later this year - had beaten the world's biggest broadcaster, and within weeks he'd given up the role altogether and switched to Fifth Gear, a rival motoring show on Channel Five. In his first piece, on dragsters, he told viewers "I can speak, and it's a massive pleasure to do so. I spent too long in a stormtrooper's outfit for my liking, but I've not given up my love of fast cars." Can Top Gear survive the scandal? Given its audience of millions, three charismatic presenters and a previous history of finding creative ways to deal with Stigs which speak too much, chances are it can. Some say...
Ever wondered what endurance racing a Jaguar around a muddy track might be like? Wonder no more...
Wheelspin in Wales HERE'S a date you probably didnâ€™t scrawl into your diary. Jaguar's 75th birthday. So far, the Coventry company's survived The Blitz, the ravages of several recessions and even the worst British Leyland can throw at it, which a couple of Life on Carsreading mates and I thought was worth celebrating. Until we saw the mud. The idea was brilliant; take a rotten Jag with a touch too many miles on
the clock to a dirt track in Prestatyn, put up against a field of more mundane motors in a six-hour endurance race, and watch it win with style. Admittedly, the 19-year-old XJ40 we'd picked wasn't one of the Big Cat's proudest moments, but it's still a car from a company with seven Le Mans wins, a string of rally victories and a slightly successful F1 team to its name. We couldn't lose. Unfortunately, the race
took place on the same drenched day Southport's Air Show got cancelled, meaning the track was a quagmire of squelch and mud even Range Rover owners would think twice about tackling. The race commentator, sat snugly in his caravan, put in perfectly as the field of Micras, Polos and Escorts raced past; we were driving 3.2 litres of pure wheelspin. I never thought I'd say this, but the Jag was just too big and too powerful, and with no grip we spent most of the time powersliding pointlessly as cars your mum used for the school run ten years ago tore ahead. We were losing, but because we were in a Jag, we were losing with style. our muddy outing is about as far from Jaguar's string of Le Mans as you can possibly imagine, but I
loved every minute of each chaotic lap, made more terrifying still because the steering wheel seemed to have little to no influence over where the big Jag was heading. It was a rubbish and yet utterly brilliant addition to Jaguar's proud motorsport pedigree. And here's the best bit; unlike the cocky whippersnappers who laughed every time their machines lapped ours, the Jag actually crossed the finish line, even if it was sliding sideways at walking pace. We might have been a long way off winning but we did the entire event, to quote an old Jag ad slogan, with grace, space and pace. A fitting tribute to the Big Cat, then. The maker of Britain's most beautiful cars is 75 years old, and we found a smashing way to mark the occasion. Literally. Life On Cars
Our day out
Itâ€™s hard to beat the Dales or Lakes for driving fun, as David Simister finds out AT one point, on a particularly gridlocked M6 near Lancaster, I actually thought going on another driving adventure was a bad idea. Readers of the Life On Cars website might have spotted something I'd planned called The Mountains and Museums Run, which had it not got cancelled thanks to no promotion whatsoever, would have last weekend been the first ever Life on Cars event. It got shelved because most of the classic car nuts (rightly) decided that october's just too wet and wild to take their pride and joy out, but - given that I'd booked a few
days off - a few mates and I decided to go anyway. Designed to be done in just two days, it's a cracking route through the countryside, taking in two counties, two National Parks, three motoring museums and one pub with very tall ambitions. More importantly, it mixes some of Britain's most demanding roads, including the Buttertubs and Kirkstone mountain passes - to make the motoring extra memorable. With the Mini long gone and the MGB nowhere near ready, it fell to the ÂŁ100 Renault 5 to get me to the fells, and as soon as I got there it became
instantly obvious that it was far faster than either of the two Minis my mates had brought along. For a car I bought originally as something to keep me moving while my own Mini was in winter hibernation earlier this year; it's really grown on me despite the dowdy styling. As well as being endlessly reliably, it's got far more poise and precision than any 1.4 hatchback really ought to! What I did learn from my lessons in the Lakes? Firstly, that The Mountains and Museums Run can be done in less than two days with stops at Cars of the Stars, The Bond Museum and the Lakeland Motor
Museum to spare. The route's here in all its glory, if you fancy giving it a go yourself, but I am planning on doing it as a proper event, when the weather's better, sometime next year. But more importantly I've reminded myself that it doesn't really matter what you're behind the wheel of (though it helps), as long as you've got a group of mates behind you and a few miles of challenging mountain passes ahead. You might have to put up with a few gridlocked motorways on the way there, but it's worth it. The smiles are back.
Clockwise, from left: The convoy reaches the spectacular Ribblehead Viaduct, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales; crossing Windermere on the car ferry, in the Lake District; stopping for a well-deserved break at the Tan Hill Inn, Britain’s highest pub at 1,732 feet
Bond Museum is licensed to thrill film fanatics
oNE of the places we visited on our adventure was the Bond Museum in Keswick, where you you can spy a series of motors used by Britain’s best known secret agent. Anyone who's ever been up to the Lakes on a rainy day is probably already familiar with the one sat in the town's Cars of The Stars Museum, but it's the much newer Bond Museum, a ten minute walk to the other side of the town, that's really worth the visit. If you've ever seen a Bond film - and I know of only one person who hasn't - it's an absolute gem.
How to join in the fun WANT to try it out for yourself? It couldn’t be easier: Where we stayed Patterdale Youth Hostel, Cumbria, 017684 82394 Where we dined Tan Hill Inn, near Keld, North Yorkshire, 01833 628 246 Where we visited Bond Museum, Keswick, Cumbria, 01768 775007 Cars of the Stars, Keswick, Cumbria, 01768 773757 Lakeland Motor Museum, Newby Bridge, Cumbria, 01539 530400 Roads we drove Buttertubs Pass, North Yorkshire; A685 between Kirkby Stephen and Kendal; A6 between Kendal and Penrith; A592, between Penrith and Windermere, A593, B6285, between Windermere and Coniston
obviously you get a silver DB5 thrown in - it is THE James Bond car - but you also get to see the aquatic Lotus Esprit once used to transport Roger Moore's eyebrows around, the invisible Aston from Die Another Day (although this particular gadget wasn't working that day) and just about every other prop Pinewood Studios had lying around. But my own particular favourite had to be the actual Aston used to escape from some annoyed Czech police officers in The Living Daylights, pictured, even though I was convinced it'd been blown up as part of the car chase across a frozen lake. It is the real star from my favourite Bond film of all, even though Timothy Dalton was also the best actor to play Bond. There, I said it. Whether you're a petrolhead or not, if you've ever enjoyed any James Bond film you're going to love this museum, which is well worth the visit on your next walking holiday in the Lakes. Complaints from Sean Connery fans to the usual address, please.
Full details of the route available online only at www.lifeoncars.blogspot.com Life On Cars
let loose Strange stories and outspoken opinion from the motoring world via the Life On Cars blog
Why Bluetooth, David Hasselhoff and open top sports cars don’t mix EVEN if he didn't bring down the Berlin Wall there's one thing we can all learn from David Hasselhoff; never, ever try talking to your car. I I was reminded of the Baywatch star and ambassador of all things slightly cringeworthy while at the wheel of Mazda's MX-5, one of my favourite little sports cars, in what should have been one of the most delightful drives I've bagged all year. With 2010's longest evening, a seaside resort, sunshine and a bright red roadster at my disposal, I had all the right ingredients. It's just a shame I mucked it up by trying to set up the phone instead. on the face of it cars with Bluetooth are a brilliant idea, because it removes any temptation to race around with Nokia's finest glued to your face, although it's something I
was a bit surprised to find in something as singlemindedly sporty as the two seater MX-5. The problem is - and it's something I've found with every car cum communication gizmo - is that they just don't work. The little Mazda, for instance, has a button on the steering wheel you press, at which point a female voice which sounds eerily similar to a BBC newsreader asks you to simply say the number you want to call. You then tell Anna Ford that you'd like to ring the missus, at which point she'll read back a number completely different to the one you've just told her. “Is this number correct?” You'll then have to say “No, no, No” repeatedly until the gadget hears you, a task made trickier
still by the whooshing wind noise you'll get if you've got the MX-5's roof down. The whole process repeats itself in an increasingly depressing loop, until Anna tells you, in her kindest BBC Breakfast voice, that you can't call your girlfriend, because she no longer exists. It was only at this point that I realised I was driving around Southport on my own while shouting “Yes, yes, yes!” at my car, and that absolutely every other road user could hear me because - being in a convertible on a sunny evening - the roof was down. At least KITT could tell David Hasselhoff he looked like he a lunatic. Mazda's MX-5 might be brilliant, but it's not intelligent enough to do that just yet.
Top ten lottery win cars
WHAT would you blow your Euromillions win on, given the chance? These are the ten star cars I suggested should fill the Life On Cars dream garage: 1) TVR Griffith 2) Aston One-77 3) Ferrari 458 Italia 4) Ferrari F40 5) Jaguar XJ220 6) TVR Cerbera 4.5 7) Range Rover Vogue 8) Audi Sport Quattro 9) Aston Martin Cygnet 10) Lotus Evora (pictured above)
Micro machine an a=-Peel-ing car prospect SSUPPoSE you landed a spot on business-savvy BBC show Dragon's Den. Given five smirking tycoons and an audience of millions, what would you pitch? So far the series has put serious amounts of cash behind a brand of spicy sauce, a treadmill for dogs, an indie band and a teddy bear that doubles up as an MP3 player, so they're not averse to making the occasional odd investment. But a four-ft-long car last made on the Isle of Man over forty years ago? Thanks to James Caan, the Peel is making a comeback! Most peoples' experience of this miniscule
motor is still the slightly ridiculous Top Gear episode from a couple of years ago, shown below, when all 6 ft 5 of Jeremy Clarkson squeezed himself in for a quick spin around the BBC News offices in London. He jokingly said it was the future, but James Caan is serious enough to stack a whopping £80,000 in its favour. Both the Peel P50 and the Trident, were powered by ancient moped engines when they first appeared in the early Sixties but when it's given the Dragon's Den treatment it'll be propelled along by an eco-friendly electric unit and cost
around £8,000, which is about the same as you'd pay for the four-seat treatment you'll get in a Fiat Panda. But no matter how hard you try, you can't get a Fiat Panda into an elevator, and that's the P50's party trick. Regular readers will already know I'm a big fan of fun little cars; along with owning an original Mini, I've admired the clever packaging of Toyota's tiny IQ since it was launched last year, and the Gulliver's World pro-
portions of the Peel just take things to a surreal new level. In much the same way as you want a phone that fits in your pocket, you know you want a car you can leave in that cupboard under the stairs at night. Would I buy one? Absolutely, although Champion Media Group might have to take a more liberal look at its car parking policy if I do. I'd leave mine next to my desk in the newsroom.
The Japanese M3 that’s too fast I’D rather have a Suzuki Swift than a 170mph Lexus. This is one of the contrived conclusions I've come to after spending a day driving a selection of newly-launched cars around the Yorkshire countryside, after which I sat down and pondered whether I really am The Champion office petrolhead. I'll say it again; I'd rather have a Suzuki Swift Don't get me wrong; I loved the Lexus, primarily because it's by far and away the most bonkers
car I've ever been allowed to drive. Anyone not familiar with this four-door flyer might dismiss it as a normal Lexus saloon with a bad Max Power bodykit on it, but the first moment you mash your right foot into the floor and get the 414bhp V8 to strut its stuff is sublime and scary in equal measure. It is intoxicatingly, frighteningly and licence-losingly fast. Which is why I couldn't recommend it, because its strongest suit, the tidal wave of torque it offers up, is also its biggest
drawback. The moments when you feel the explosiveness of this car's engine are just that; moments, because within seconds you've shot up to speeds you really shouldn't be doingI'm actually beginning to wonder whether I hanker for horsepower at all. A week after whinging that a wheelspinning Jag was completely outclassed by Escorts and Polos in an endurance race, I've realised that an entirely different bit of Japanese automotive engineering to the
Lexus is a belter for Britain's highways and byways. Suzuki's new Swift is about as far from the IS-F as I can imagine, but as if someone's stolen a Mazda MX-5, one of my favourite sports cars, disguised it as a small shopping car, and then put it on sale. IIt really is that good. Read more motoring rants from David Simister on the blog online at lifeoncars.blogspot.com Life On Cars
1996 Rover 214SEi: “RELAX. It's a Rover. The long-gone Longbridge concern's old ad slogan couldn't have rung more true the first time I gave the latest arrival on the Life On Cars fleet its first proper run, heading for home up
the M57. Sporty this £300, 1995 Rover 214 isn't, despite it coming in a rather fetching shade of British Racing Green. on wet, nasty November nights, it's nice to step into something that soothes your brow as you head home.
I'm so relaxed, in fact, that I haven't even bothered to ask the obvious questions yet. Is the notoriously fickle K-Series engine going to blow a head gasket? Are the strangely solid-looking sills hiding a lifetime of rot?
And - most worryingly - does my choice of a Rover as my latest purchase mean I'm about to prematurely celebrate my fiftieth birthday? All, I'm sure, will be revealed. November, 2010
One foot in the grave
The clapped out classics in the Life On Cars garage
Car of the Year The winners and losers from 2010, including best driver’s car, best road, the year’s biggest surprise and the coveted Life On Cars car of the year award Only in the next issue, see lifeoncars.blogspot.com for more details 16
Life On Cars
Published on Nov 19, 2010