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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

NewsReviewsTopic

Night Sessions – Dan Guirey

20th September 2017 — by Dave Cox

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this week in night sessions…

…Dan Guirey’s Mk1 Golf. I’d see this car before on instagram, in fact I had seen it at Players Classic where it was ripping around the circuit. It’s punchy livery and squat dimensions made me want to shoot it.

A local meet at Krispy Kremes presented itself as an ideal opportunity. Lashing down with rain meant that the conditions were less than ideal. But I was growing impatient. I wanted to shoot this.

Meeting Dan as he man handled armfuls of doughnuts we quickly worked out a plan. With the car park too busy we headed to a retail park. Not feeling it, I moved on to another location. That sucked too. Back to location 1 but this time Dan had spotted a nice little spot just beyond. Done.

Lights, camera, action! And I mean action, the persistent rain meant that I was using my coat to protect my camera. Being left in just a t-shirt (I should really plan better) meant that I had to work fast. Also handling electronics in the rain is a tad on the sketchy side.

Back to the car. It’s cute proportions disguise the animal that it is. Peel back the wrapper and you will be greeted with a 1.8L 8 valve G60 engine which is turbo charged. The result is an engine capable of 300bhp! Plenty given the car’s weight. Dan is running the car at 240bhp due to handling issues. But don’t you just want a go?

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

 

EventReviewsTopic

Night Sessions

13th September 2017 — by Dave Cox

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Welcome to Night Sessions!

Largely unplanned and often last minute, Night Sessions is a place for small, opportunistic features that take place once the sun goes down. Treat it like automotive postcards. You won’t find any detailed descriptions, just a few headline facts and a few pictures.

Paul Beechey starts us off with our first Night Session with his stroked SR22 powered S14a. With 520bhp and aggressive Wisefab steering kit it’s intended use of a drift car is pretty evident.  I was visiting family down on the South East coast of Kent when I found myself with a spare hour in the evening. A quick message and before long, the unmistakable SR bark could be heard outside my front door.

Grabbing my camera gear I ran out the door and slotted myself into the bucket seats. As Paul demonstrated how the turbo spools up just after 3000rpm I tried my best to navigate to a quiet industrial estate where we set up to grab some quick pictures. Satisfied with what I had shot, we headed back so Paul could get back to his family and I could get back to my beer.

 

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