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Reviews

7 hours in a bean tin – The Citroen C1 –

16th November 2017 — by Mark Turner

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Downsizing is the buzzword all manufacturers are using these days. Smaller cars with smaller, forced induction engine petrol engines. It’s the way the industry is going.

It’s a cultural change. We’re used to having the car we want because we can. My father in law always bought diesel cars. He did very low miles but had always had diesels because he wanted a diesel. There are plenty of people just like him, buying 4×4’s or just simply big cars because they want to. Maybe it’s a status thing, maybe they just feel safer in bigger cars? But could we manage with one of the modern city cars? Surely they’re toys for nipping to the shops in and not much else?

Back in the day, city cars were pretty shit. They certainly weren’t considered a viable alternative to a normal size car. Take one of them on the motorway and you’d be taking your life in your hands. They were usually japanese or Korean imports with the odd British shit heap thrown in, made out of paper and cardboard it seemed with little in the way of crash protection. First gen Honda Civic, Daihatsu Charade, Classic Mini, Citroen AX and so on.

Time moves on and the pace of change is startling. City cars are a long way from where they started, which prompted us to do a little experiment.Can you take a modern city car on our busy motorways and not get blown into the weeds by the exhaust of a passing Romanian trucker?

There’s only one way to find out. Road trip!

We got our grubby mits on a Citroen’s C1. Tiny but still finds room for 4 doors, a glass tailgate and some boot space. Ours was a Flair edition so had funky alloy wheels, air conditioning, electric windows with the rear windows dark tinted, sat nav, bluetooth 7″ touch drive interface with mirror screen and a revvy little Puretech 1.2L 3 cylinder engine.

This engine was awarded the engine of the year at the International Engine of the Year Awards in 2016 and again in 2017. It’s a decent engine with enough power to be fun.

Our C1 also had a reversing camera (seriously, the car is less than 3.5M long), Height-adjustable driver’s seat, speed limiter (a bit like cruise control), Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and scored 4 stars in the euro ncap test, which is impressive for a car you could carry around in a man bag.

It’s a pretty cool little car, comfy high back seats and that 3 cylinder engine sounds great. It has a distinctive 3 cylinder growl that reminds me of the Daihatsu gtti pocket rocket from years ago.

The plan was simple, if a little stupid. A road trip from Northampton to Middlesbrough and back…..in a day. Roughly 400 miles and around 7 hours driving time!

The little C1 performed without fault. There were no issues at all. Not one, but it is a new car so should be reliable shouldn’t it?

I wish i could tell about about a road trip from hell, with hookers and car chases…….but i can’t.

In reality, i worked my way through the miles and miles of roadworks that plague the UK’s motorways, sat at 50mph (the speed limiter was very handy here) and in between the roadworks i got the little C1 up to a nice cruising speed without issue. It sat at 80mph for mile after mile, without missing a beat. The only issue i had was knob head reps who couldn’t handle sitting behind a city car. They must have felt it was an attack on their virility or something because they absolutely had to overtake……..then usually pull in front of me and slow down.

It wasn’t intimidating and it wasn’t a struggle to keep up, in fact, it was easy to forget you were in a city car. It doesn’t feel cramped and isn’t screaming at motorway speeds, it just feels normal.

When you’re behind the wheel, you kind of forget you’re in a little car, It’s quite deceptive.

The experience is a bit like going on a caravan holiday. For that week, you only have what you can fit in the caravan. You travel light, leave unnecessary clutter at home. The C1 is similar. You don’t pile all of your worldly possessions into it, you take what you need.

Often i have a boot rammed full of all sorts of shit i don’t even use. In the C1 i just took what i needed which was very liberating.

Our little Citroen C1 was great around town and took us on a 7 hour road trip without so much as an aching back.

Granted, if you do high miles and drive all over the country, maybe the C1 is too much of a jump, culturally i mean. It’s more than up to the job but i doubt i’ll see many reps dumping their executive euroboxes for a C1 any time soon.

Maybe we should all take a look at our relationship with our cars. Do we really need a 4×4 or a big diesel saloon or whatever we drive? Could we be more frugal? Think of the money we could save. A C1 starts at around £8400 which is less than half the price of a new Ford Focus and around a quarter of the price of a BMW X3. That’s a lot of holiday spending money.

For that, you could hire something bigger from time to time if you needed it and still save shed loads of money.

This road trip was done just to test a theory. To be honest, the C1’s natural habitat isn’t the motorway. It’s perfectly fine there but really, this thing is better suited to flying around town, having a hoot with the little 3 cylinder fun bag. It wasn’t great on fuel after our 7 hour road trip. Not bad but not good enough to justify changing from a big diesel eurobox to a C1.

But, that’s missing the point. A couple of important things to remember. First, diesels are dying. Say what you will, legislation is making it harder and harder to produce diesel engines that are clean enough. Secondly, around town, the mpg is great. We drive a petrol Zafira to do the school runs and so on. It’s shocking on fuel, crippling even, and just terrible to drive. This little C1 would pay for itself in no time and provide some smiles along the way.

If there was one negative, it’s that they do this 1.2 puretech engine with a turbo. It puts out 130bhp but sadly there are no plans to slip one in the C1 or it’s sibling the Peugeot 108. That would be fun, oh well.

Reviews

Edd Tubbs’ ’32 Ford Pickup

19th October 2017 — by Dave Cox

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Heading to Players, I wasn’t expecting to find this…

In a sea of stanced Euro cars, I spotted this ’32 Ford Pickup. Nestled between an Evo and Mk2 Escort was Edd’s creation. A labour of love that took 4 years to create. And it’s still not finished!

As I mentioned in my coverage of Players 11.0 it is a challenge to give every car the proper attention it needs at an event like this. As you walk around, only the the visually impressive stop you in your tracks. And that is unfair. You could walk past something like this.

Sure it might not be slammed, running a fire breathing, methanol drinking, quadruple turbo’d V8 but it does deserve your attention. Look at the dash, notice anything strange? “OH yeah!” That’s right, it’s right hand drive. And that is just one of the small details that adorn this car.

As mentioned, Edd had the truck 4 years. In that time he had it stripped down to the bare chassis. He then had a it straightened to remove the 3/4″ twist that it had. Buckland Automotive was enlisted to help and the also laddered the rear as well as adding new cross members. The chassis modification was so that modern coilovers could be fitted.

Edd set about chopping the roof 2 inches and channelling the cab by 3 to aid that hot rod look. And get this, the bed is the original 90 year old piece! He just refinished the floor in maple and yatch varnish. Power is taken care of by a Rover 3.5 v8. It has been completely rebuilt, re bored new high compression pistons and bearing, fast road cam, Holley 4 barrel, hand built open headers laker style and a Cadillac air box.

His handy work hasn’t stopped there either. He even turned his attention to the interior. He fully rewired it, has auto meter gauges the start button is WW2 new old stock used in hurricanes and spitfires. The shifter and linkage boast a knuckle duster top. With the bench seat re-trimmed in cream with diamond double stitched centres.

The exterior is resprayed in VW tornado red over a black base and lighter red base, his brother and himself rubbed the paint work through to reveal the base colours (over one evening /night till the early hours of the morning) then it was clear coated over that the next day.

Are you smiling yet? I am, doesn’t this sound like a fun project to work on. Running modern coilovers and wearing modern paint, one could argue that it was at the right car show.

Edd will tell you that the car isn’t 100% finished. He had to push to finish the car as he had a £50 bet on with a friend. (My kind of bet). He has also promised to take his nephew to prom in it. I don’t know Edd but I feel that it gives some sort of insight into what he is like. I said it was a labour of love and it would seem that his close friends and family are also invested into this build.

I love that.

Words & Pictures: Dave Cox (ShootingDave)
Instagram: @ShootingDave

NewsReviewsTopic

Night Sessions – Rich Maguire

12th October 2017 — by Dave Cox

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This week in night sessions…

…Rich Maguire and his STi Gravel Express. No, that isn’t a typo. This was a genuine development car for STi.

Rich had brought himself down to the Fueltopia monthly Offline Meet at the Ace Cafe second Monday of each month if you’re wondering. I had seen it there a few times before and always nodded in approval as I passed it.

On this particular meet, sat there under the sodium arch lights of the Ace Cafe my penchant for fast wagons spiked. Knowing of a cool location round the corner, Phil and I went inside to find Rich. He happily handed over the keys and, we were off.

As this is a STi development vehicle it is running full pink STi suspension, and with a mild tune, around 350bhp. Rich set about making some other improvements both visually and performance focused. 355mm Porcshe brakes, fifteen52 carbon wheels, cusco coilovers, and ABW wide arch kit.

Feeling the car as we drove over speed bumps, the suspension wasn’t crashy at all, you could certainly cruise around in this as well as hoon it around a track. This is exactly what he does with it. He’s even driven it to Gatebil and back. I love the classic lines of this car. The added width and lower ride height really help make it look aggressive.

I wonder if he would let me borrow it for a drive up to Wales?

Oh and if you want to see a bigger feature, check out Dan Fegent’s feature on it HERE

Words & Pictures: Dave Cox (SHOOTINGDAVE)
Instagram: @ShootingDave

Event

Veterans of the Car World

10th October 2017 — by Phil McCusker

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“You’re in the desert… why would the car need wind-shield wipers?

Imagine spending the week, looking at impressive builds in the worlds biggest car show, SEMA. Sounds like a dream…. Right?

No. Las Vegas has been the hub of one of the largest Automotive events for several years, the show itself has been going for a lot longer than I have been around, but there are some guys that have been tinkering with cars, for as long as the SEMA show has been around, and probably before.

We were looking for something else, less crazy than the builds we spotted at SEMA…

Cue a 3 Hour drive via the Mojave Desert, to Lake Havasu City, AZ

Next to a Man Made lake in Arizona, stands 43 Square Miles of desert town, steeped in Military history after being founded as an Army Air Corps camp back in the 1950’s so it makes sense that we stumbled upon a Veterans Car meet.

I have always been a fan of the car culture in America, the builds are often insane and I have always had a soft spot for american muscle.

This green ’63 Thunderbird was no exception, the fine attention to every detail was obvious that this car had been built with a lot of love over the last few years, for a car that was over 50 Years Old, it was in better condition than most show cars that I have seen in the UK.

Small Details, when in the Desert, you don’t need everything. The minimal yearly rainfall, means that you can get away with not having wipers, not that I can imagine the torque heavy V8 that breathes life into the Green machine would be fun to drive in the Rain!

This Richard Petty inspired Plymouth Belvedere was a throwback to the ’66 & ’67 NASCAR Grand National Season, was it a genuine Petty Car? I Sadly don’t have the answer for that, perhaps it is, going by the Trophies that were found near the car.

“Fast Toys, aren’t just for the Boys”

I found an amazing atmosphere in Lake Havasu, everybody had the time for everyone else, there was no, I’m better than you Chevy Guys, you Ford Guys, nothing, the feeling of a passion bringing people together in one place was overwhelming, for some of them, this wasn’t the first time they had met, with many having served tours around the world, from Vietnam all the way to some of the most recent campaigns.

As I walked around, having video called some people back home in the UK, scanning the array of metal that surrounded me, I found myself looking for smaller details, oddities and just general cool things

I then spotted something that looked a bit out of place.

When I first cast my eye over towards this Chevy Nova, I noticed a POW MIA Ribbon on the back, nothing unusual to find in the United States, they are very proud as a Nation when it comes to their Military, but as I looked closer I found that there was not one, but two Hummingbirds, one hidden below the Ribbon, signifying the sacrifice that someone has made, for their Country, that they were so proud of, that they felt the need to defend it at the ultimate cost.

This was an unusual sight, but a prime example of the dedication to the cars here, this was a C6 Generation Corvette, but the rear end took a moment, it has a ’63 Stingray rear end, which you would almost take for granted the amount of work that would go into this, the paint, the general thought process to come up with the idea in the first place is just beyond what I could dream up.

I will return one day to Lake Havasu City, hopefully with some cold hard cash and head for the Docks in a piece of American Car history.

Words & Pictures – Phil McCusker

Event

FBS goes Live at Japshow finale

2nd October 2017 — by Craig Toull

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The 5th round of the 2017 Fueltopia Barrel Sprint took place on 1st October and saw the FBS championship integrating with the Japshow Finale at Santa Pod Raceway. The Barrel Sprint track moved to the Live action arena to provide entertainment to those coming straight through the gate, giving the spectators a grandstand view of the action from the top of the hill. The smaller width with less run off, brung the concrete blocks closer alongside the track, giving a new mental challenge to the drivers.

The morning practice began on a wet and very greasy track surface, this causing even the current championship leaders a few teething issues. Once the drivers had dialed in the conditions and the surface started to dry the times started to drop. Practice continued until lunchtime and the drivers started to prepare themselves for qualifying, with only a few weeks to go until the Gymkhana Grid Finals in South Africa some of the drivers had made rather drastic alterations to their vehicles (including totally new engines, addition of race fuel and whole new engine calibrations) and this gave them the perfect opportunity to test the cars before they are loaded onto a boat.

After a short lunch break a further 30 mins of practice was given to the drivers before qualifying. This also saw the return of Jake Archer in a borrowed car take to the track. Qualifying began after the practice session and it was soon very apparent that there were going to be some very close battles.

Qualifying results were in and it would see a top 16 format in RWD, top 4 in AWD, top 3 in U1 and top 2 in FWD. Battles commenced and results started to come in, the times were that close it came down to reaction times on the 3rd and 4th position battle for RWD, Ryan Milton vs Philip Staniford in their turbocharged MX5s, the win went to Philip in his military inspired MX5. The final battle seeing Mike Newland and Adam Elder go head to head for 1st place, Adam taking the top spot and putting Mike in 2nd.

Again in the 4WD class reaction time would be the deciding factor, after a quick check it was found that with only a 0.1 second reaction time difference we would see Jonathan Buck get the top spot, with Dmitrij Sribnyj taking 2nd and Andrew Stevens in 3rd.

U1 class would see Andy Biddle taking 1st place, Nick Biddle taking 2nd and Tim Eardley taking 3rd.

Front wheel drive class only involved 2 drivers this weekend, Sean Franklin in his Ford puma and Jake Archer borrowing Seans puma. The win would unexpectedly go to Jake in the borrowed car.

The final round of the year takes place in 2 weeks time at Santa Pod Raceway and if you would like to be involved then visit the FBS website for more information, make sure your car meets the minimum requirements and turn up with your driving licence for a chance to be on that podium.

Photos and words by Craig Toull

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