Wednesday, 31 August 2011
IT'S been a long time coming, but it's finally happening. A new Land Rover is on the horizon!
To understand why this picture of the DC100 concept - an official image drawn by someone working at Land Rover, not an Auto Express-style artist's impression - marks such a momentous occasion in motoring history you have to understand the context.
The outgoing hardcore Land Rover, the Defender, has been with us in one form or another since 1983, and is the direct descendant of a string of off-roaders going all the way back to the original Series One of 1948. The fact that its styling and off-road ability have barely changed in more than sixty years mean it isn't just a Land Rover. It is the Land Rover.
It's a big deal to me personally because I've been brought up in a family of Land Rover lovers - two Series Twos, two Range Rover Classics and a 110 Station Wagon, if you're interested - you should care too. Travel to say, Shropshire or Somerset and every cattle auction, rural police station and country pub car park is brimmed with Defenders. The proper Land Rover, with its no-nonsense design and the obligatory horsebox, is just somehow part of the landscape.
Do I like the new one? It depends on whether Land Rover make a Horlicks of it or not. I actually quite like the styling and think it moves the car on, in the same way Jaguar managed with the XJ last year, but the secret to the old one's success was in its ability to do a thousand different jobs.
That's why, to make it work, Land Rover would need to make the DC100 not just in the shape you see above, but with an endless array of other bodystyles and in several different sizes to make it appeal to the Defender's customers, which is everyone from school run mum to the British Army.
Designing the new Land Rover is an awfully big deal, because it's an iconic off-roader that's been doing sterling work in some of the world's remotest places for more than 60 years. Replacing the Defender is one of the toughest tasks in motoring, and Land Rover knows it.
No wonder it's taken them 28 years to come up with it.
Monday, 29 August 2011
A FERRARI Enzo, a Frogeye Sprite, a brace of E-Types and a Noble with a Boeing-esque wing on the back.
It's not often you get to keep pace with such an eclectic collection of sports cars, and certainly not on Ormskirk's one-way system. Luckily, I have a 40-year-old MG that's more than up to the task.
If you were at last Sunday's Ormskirk MotorFest, you'll probably know by now it wasn't just a success in a vague, it-wasn't-a-flop sort of way. By noon, both the town centre and Coronation Park were swarming with people, and not just the usual bunch of sad petrolheads (i.e: me) either. Maybe it was the cast of cars and bikes that'd turned up or the unexpected sunshine, but something about seemed to capture the imagination of thousands of visitors.
I loved milling around all the old Triumphs (two and four wheeled) but I was also lucky enough to get a perspective few other visitors got; I actually got to drive the closed one-way streets in a classic car. A classic car that had encountered two different breakdowns less than a fortnight earlier. Boy, was I nervous.
Yet once I'd crawled out of Coronation Park and got onto the streets, the nerves faded away. Here I was in the event's only MGB GT, with the full-length sunroof open, cruising past streams of excited children asking their parents what all these strange old cars were. They absolutely loved it.
I've seen a couple of clips on YouTube since and seen what the thousands of visitors saw; a crisp Seventies GT car, burbling around Ormskirk with the sun bouncing off the chrome and the deep, throaty exhaust ricocheting off the shop front windows. Then again, I was out of the MG just in time to see the F1 cars and the superbikes strutting their stuff, and they sounded epic. The scream of the Saudia Williams as it scorched past the parish church is one I'll never forget.
I'm lucky enough to have experienced Ormskirk's MotorFest on several different levels; as a participant, as a visitor, and as a journalist covering it for The Champion. I'd like to use what little influence I have with this column to make a plea to Aintree Circuit Club and West Lancashire Borough Council on behalf of everyone who enjoyed it.
Please, please do it again...
Sunday, 28 August 2011
THE FIRST pictures from today's Ormskirk MotorFest...
Champion reporter David Simister not only covered the event, but also took part in it, doing several laps of the MotorFest circuit in his 1972 MGB GT.
Among the event's big draws were a Ferrari Enzo formerly owned by rock star Rod Stewart, a top fuel dragster, and a host of racing bikes and ex-F1 cars.
A special online magazine produced by Life On Cars as a guide to the event has also been well received, and since been published earlier this week has been read by more than 250 people.
A full report from the show and a special Champion video will be uploaded in the next few days, so Life On Cars will keep you posted!
Have you been to the Ormskirk MotorFest? Let us know what you thought of it by sending an email to email@example.com
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
A FERRARI Enzo owned by none other than rock legend Rod Stewart is one of the many glorious machines taking part in the Ormskirk MotorFest on August 28.
You can find out all about in the latest edition of the Life On Cars Magazine, which is given over entirely to the event and is officially backed by Aintree Circuit Club, the show's organisers.
Monday, 22 August 2011
THIS ISN'T the sound of the Ormskirk Motorfest. That, as you'd expect, is going to be lots of deep-throated V8s, the scream of a succession of superbikes and the screeching of tyres.
What this is is the sound of West Lancashire town crier Don Evans, who is equally loud. He is therefore the perfect person to make a traditional announcement in the middle of a busy town centre, without the aid of a microphone and with some escaped lunatic who kept asking if I worked for The Ormskirk Advertiser throughout the recording (sorry about that).
The magazine, which has lots more information, will be on Life On Cars tomorrow. Until then, enjoy a proud Lancastrian speaking rather loudly!
Friday, 19 August 2011
THERE'S another issue of the Life On Cars Magazine on the way, and this time it's something a bit special.
Not only is the sixth issue given over entirely to the Ormskirk Motorfest, taking place on August 28, but it's a publication that's got the official backing of the event's organisers. Life On Cars has been given the behind-the-scenes look at one of the north west's most exciting motoring events, and in this new publication you'll be able to find out all about it.
Regular readers will also spot that the magazine's been given a bit of a revamp, to keep it fresh and full of ideas, which I hope you'll enjoy when it's launched in the next couple of days.
Watch this space...
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
I KNOW I'M not a fan of teaser shots and sketches, but I like this one.
This is all that Jaguar's prepared to reveal right now about the C-X16, a new sports car it's promising to unveil at next month's Frankfurt Motorshow, and already rumours are rife in Internetdom that it's either a) the first clue as to how the current XK's successor will shape up, or b) the "small sports car" owners Tata have been dropping hints about for ages.
Ian Callum, Director of Design at Jaguar Cars said:
"Great Jaguars have always been beautiful, innovative and have looked firmly to the future. The finished C-X16 concept has the potential to do these things while retaining the ability to surprise, to excite and invigorate."
For my money, it looks a little like the old Aston Martin DB7, but that's not a bad thing.
Is it a true E-Type successor? Watch this space...
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
THE centenary-edition Ford Fiesta, the revamped Renault Twingo, the more generously equipped SEAT Leon and a Nissan Micra with a supercharger. What do all these new cars have in common?
Nope, you're wrong. They're all being launched just in time to tie in with the launch of the 61-registration plate.
Back in ye olden days of say, 10 or 15 years ago, new registration plates used to be a big deal. I distinctly recall reading through special supplements made by papers like The Champion listing all the shiny cars you could buy on, say, an ‘R' registration plate. Now of course the supplements are long gone because - let's face it - nobody cares.
Why would you, when the current registration plates make no sense at all?
You'd be forgiven for thinking you'd need a maths degree to understand it. The new prefix, for instance, is 61, which marks out that your new motor's been registered in the second half of 2011, although it's too complicated to explain why. The two letters that precede it, I know because I don't get out more, signify where in the country you bought it - but not in any way Joe Public is going to understand - and the three at the end you make up yourself. Still following?
It's completely and utterly unsurprising that precisely nobody gets worked up about having the latest registration plates anymore, because nobody I know actually understands them. Numberplates, I've reckoned for years, need as much as a revamp as some of the cars they'll be destined to appear on.
Why not, for instance, replace the completely meaningless local lettering with, say, postcodes? People understand postcodes and have better chance of being able to tell the police, for instance, that an L39-registered car is from the Ormskirk area. It'd also have the added benefit of giving visiting motorists a clue as to what town they're in (unless, like me, you run on Pub Satnav).
And scrap the six-month thing, for Pete's sake. If you lose the smug factor after six months, why bother? Change it to say, just ‘12' for next year's new models, and stick with it for the whole 12 months. Buying a new car will regain its cachet in an instant.
Finally, the last scramble of numbers should just be something dull and chronological; for instance, if you were the 1,001st person to buy a car in the PR8 area, then yours should be 1001. It's boring but at least people will remember it, which is what you'd want if your 12-registered C-Class gets stolen in a resumption of last week's riots. It's also at least slightly more sensible than the surreal system currently used for new cars.
Unless anyone's got any better ideas...
Monday, 15 August 2011
CLASSIC car connoisseurs from across Sefton and West Lancashire helped to make a charity festival held near Hesketh Bank a success.
More than 200 owners of classic and vintage cars and motorbikes headed to Elim, off Hundred End Lane for the 10th Hundred End Festival of Transport, which organiser Brian Moorcroft told Life On Cars had met with a warm response despite wet weather during parts of the weekend (August 13 and 14).
“It was a very good event, with about 250 cars in all, and even though the weather wasn't on our side earlier on the sun did eventually come out and make it an event everybody enjoyed,” he said.
“Even though there was another event on in Lytham St Annes on the same weekend, which made it quieter than usual, we were still confident we could beat last year's fundraising total of £2,840, which goes towards helping the Clatterbridge Cancer Care Trust.
Mr Moorcroft, who exhibited his own 1933 Austin 10 Cabriolet, also added that he would like to thank both William Hunter of Huntapac for providing portable toilets for the event free of charge, and Mere Brow business Top Trophies North for providing the trophies presented as awards to entrants in the event.
Have you got a motoring event or story for Life On Cars? Get in touch with David Simister on 01704 392404 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, 9 August 2011
AS of right now my Mini is a four-wheeled Schrodinger's cat. It is not just a car. It is a paradox of quantum mechanics.
For anyone not into their tricky brainteasers, Schrodinger's cat is an unfortunate feline which gets stuffed into a box*, alongside, say, a vial of poison, and then locked out of view. Said moggy is, until you open up the box again, both alive and dead at the same time. It exists in two simultaneous states. Just like the internals of the 19-year-old Mini Sprite now that I've booked it in for its MOT.
The box itself - the bits of the Mini I've been able to check out - are fine. The tyres are in good nick, all the lights and switches work as Austin Rover intended, the gaping holes that used to be the boot floor have been welded into a pleasing patch of clean metal and there aren't any rough edges you'd accidentally stab yourself with. The sills appear solid, but that's the problem. They appear solid.
To stretch a metaphor a tad too far, the "cat" is all the bits I haven't checked because I haven't had it up on a ramp, like you're supposed to. Has corrosion taken hold in places you can't see unless you've access to a proper garage? Are the shock absorbers shot to bits? Have the emissions dipped to dangerously carcinogenic level? Basically, my car mechanically is brilliant and rubbish at the same time, because I honestly won't know until tomorrow. This is why I, as someone who is rubbish at mending things, dreads the MOT.
Stay tuned to find out just how bad the news is when it emerges from the garage tomorrow morning...
* No cats were actually harmed in the writing of this article
UPDATE, August 11: The cat, it turns out, is dead, because the Mini has failed its MOT. The good news is that it shouldn't be too tricky or expensive to revive it. Cue the phone call to PartCo!
Sunday, 7 August 2011
THE stirring sight of a Lancaster bomber, a Spitfire and a Hurricane flying side by side was just one of the treats in store for those visiting the Woodvale Rally today.
Even though weather which proved wetter than yesterday meant proceedings got off to a damp start, by mid-afternoon the event was in full swing with the sun shining down on the many exhibitors hoping to head home with one of the many awards up for grabs.
This video from the 2011 Woodvale Rally will appear on The Champion website later this week to tie in with our newspaper report of the event, but click below for a sneak preview:
Life On Cars also took these pictures of today's event at RAF Woodvale:
I'd also like to point you in the direction of this excellent video of the military procession through Southport yesterday - featuring entrants from the Rally - which has just made it onto YouTube:
A full follow up of the 2011 Woodvale Rally will appear in the next edition of The Champion (published Wednesday, August 10).
Saturday, 6 August 2011
DESPITE the threat of wet weather today at the Woodvale Rally has proved to be a packed event, with a strong show from hundreds of classic cars, bikes, trucks and more.
Life On Cars has taken these pictures from today's event:
More images and news from the event will appear on Life On Cars throughout the weekend and in the next edition of The Champion (published August 10).