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Event

Offline at the Ace Cafe – February

19th February 2017 — by Dave Cox

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February’s Offline meet at the Ace Cafe was our biggest yet. With a wide range of automotive metal and BBC’s Top Gear: Extra Gear in attendance. It was a great opportunity to forget about work and hang out with like minded people.

It was great to see some unusual cars there too, I don’t think I have ever seen a Jaguar XJ220 in person, or at least on the road. It had such clean smooth lines, hard to believe that it is around 23 years old. It has aged to well. Sadly it disappeared before I could get some decent pictures of it.

Another that really caught my attention was this Dodge Viper GTS-R, when I was a kid, this was one of my dream cars and this one in race trim was phenomenal. Again, that left before I could spend some time or speak to the owner. If you’re reading this, say “Hi” on any of our channels, we’d love to know more.

It was also pretty fascinating to see the Top Gear crew do their thing. I didn’t want to get in the way of their filming but you may see me in the back of shot in a few of them. I’d love to know what they thought of the night and can’t wait to see it aired. It really makes you feel proud when you see something like Top Gear turn up at your event.

There was also some regular faces there, you may recognise this E36 that I featured earlier this year, you can read about it here.

Also if this Mercedes AMG seems familiar, well we featured that earlier this year too, click this link and you can even see behind the scenes on the lovely guys at Xquisite Productions who built here.

Here is a cool little video that shows you guys what goes on during our meets. If you fancy popping a long, one night, we hold them on the second Monday of each month at the Ace Cafe. Check out the facebook page for more information.

And whilst we are sharing videos, our buddy Adam at 6Two1 did this awesome VLOG of the event too as we invited him down.

Words & Pictures: Dave Cox (Shooting Dave)

Reviews

Inside Xquisite Productions

2nd February 2017 — by Dave Cox

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Remember the feature on the Team Galag TG3 that was built by Xquisite Productions? Well, we thought we’d show you what a company that makes cars like that might look like.

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I should forewarn you though, I am not going to be able to share all of the juicy builds as they are under embargo. To enforce this secrecy is their fearsome guard dog, Hugo. Every shop needs a dog. I am particularly fond of French bulldogs so I was more than happy to keep him company whilst waiting for our shoot.

Outside is littered with all kinds of builds, offering a small insight into the range of creations that are made at Xquisite. A handful of Citroen “H-Van’s” converted into burger or coffee vans as well as converted ambulance with stacks and rather small looking Fiesta.

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Matt House swung by and provided us with a nutritious lunch before we headed out for a mooch around the car park.

Now if you recognise this car but can’t put your finger on as to why, this is because all of the cars that are on E4’s Carjackers there was a few others there too but sorry, I can’t show you them, you’ll just have to watch the show. This is the infamous chicken nugget car which as it turns out wasn’t loved all too much by the owner. Yes that is all expandable foam! It has a crispy yet spongy texture. To be honest, I wouldn’t want to be seen driving it but I do like how the car show has a sense of humour.

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You may also recognise this Peugeot 207 GTi from the show car jackers too as it was lurking in the background. Sadly that is about all I can show you from the workshop as there was a rather large project taking up most of the space. I find it fascinating how one company can have such a wide variety of projects and seemingly nail every single one of them. Burger Van? You got it! Bagged hatch back? No problem, batshit crazy Gumball car, coming right up!

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With demanding clients and harsh deadlines it is so refreshing to see them never let go of their creativity, they certainly do have a great team there. I am certainly hoping we get to bring you some more features from them in the future. Or at least go and see Hugo again.

Words and Pictures: Dave Cox (ShootingDave)

Reviews

The Abarth 124 Rally

25th January 2017 — by Dave Cox

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There is something about Rally Cars that seems get under people’s skin. Perhaps it is the heritage and romance or just the raw pace and sounds. There is no denying, they have a broad appeal.

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As I alluded to in our coverage of Autosport International I came across a special little car that stopped me in my tracks. Now I know there will be some of you expecting me to go on and talk about an aired out, wide body Ferrari or a gold Bugatti but I’m not. What I am talking about is a 1,8 litre Italian sports car built in Japan. But this car is really, rather special.

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You see, it has been some 40 years since the original Abarth 124 Spider last competed in the 1976 Monte Carlo Rally and now it is back, dedicated to those who share the same challenge and racing values. This version is based on the Abarth 124 road car, the more aggressive version of Fiat’s 124. The Rally version has replaced the standard 1.4 turbo engine and replaced it with a 1.8 direct injection turbo engine. This adds a nice boost in power from 178bhp to 296bhp at 6500rpm!

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Now we’re talking! Couple that to a quick 6-speed sequential gearbox and this red and yellow bar of soap is going to get lively real quick! Weight is biased towards the rear and it has quick steering and a mechanical limited slip-differential. So when it gets sideways, and it will, you can keep it there. Other changes have been to the exterior too, gone is the soft top and in is the new composite hard top to help keep the centre of gravity low.

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I also really appreciate the styling tribute to the original Abarth 124. The colour scheme look as good now as it did back the, the yellow over fenders, the rally lights it is all lovingly recreated in memory of the original. It is this subtle detailing that really shows how much love there is for this sport. I adore this car, I really wish I could have seen it at the Monte Carlo Rally that happened this January.

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What was your car of the show?

Words and Pictures: Dave Cox (ShootingDave)

Event

Autosport International 2017

23rd January 2017 — by Dave Cox

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Seeing as I have never attended the Autosport International show before, I had no idea what to expect.

I mean, I had a good idea, the vast halls of Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre were to be filled with a cross section of motor-sports finest offerings. So there was going to be cars. And seeing as this was a public event, there was bound to be people too.

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We started the day, or at least I did at 4:30 in the morning. I set off to rendezvous with other Fueltopia members, Phil ‘Paps’ McCusker and Kim Pham as well as a few other friends at the Ace Cafe at 6am before setting off in search of food and coffee. As the NEC loomed closer, the sun came up and caffeine started to finally take hold, we started to speculate as to what we might find in these great halls.

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First port of call was our own Fueltopia stand displaying offerings from Fueltopia Barrel Sprint, European Burnout Championship and Formula G. It was so good to see us with such a large presence, all three are our own sports  that we are proud of and it is nice to see them growing so well. Our staff were on hand to offer advice and encourage people to get involved with variety of grass roots motor-sports. Literally all you need to get involved is a valid European driving licence.

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You may also recognise this BMW that we featured a few weeks back. It was great to see it receive so much attention on the stand.

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Back to the show itself. Like many of you, my winter in the UK involved more booze and food than it did cars. Autosport provides a nice platform to spark enthusiasm and make plans for the coming year. It serves the public with big, bold and brash displays whilst giving plenty of opportunities to industry folk to discuss future plans and forge new alliances. My right hand spent as much time taking photos as it did shaking the hands of new acquaintances.

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Plodding through the vast hall in a zig-zag manor I found myself feeling overwhelmed with excitement and fear or missing something, much like a kid in a toy store. There was literally something for everyone here, from precision race cars to purpose built show cars. I felt a sense of guilt as well, as one stand tries to outdo the other you feel you might bypass something really special. A sense of regret at not spending more than one day there.

 

For instance you could spend a whole day pouring over the intricate details of both modern and historic Formula 1 cars. I may be biased towards the older generation of cars with their raw lines but their modern counterparts are dripping with details dreamt up by the world’s best engineers.

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Keeping an eye open on social media, I have already spotted a few cars that I completely missed. Most regrettably is the new Honda NSX – a car that I know pretty well as I did the online configurator for it, I am still yet to see one in person.

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However one car did stop me in my tracks, it isn’t the most flashiest of cars there but I was overcome with the urge to sit in it and go tearing down some back roads. It was the Abarth 124 Rally. It is undeniably cute, I really, really want one. We will show you a bit more about this car over the next week or so.

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The squadron of Group A Ford Sierra RS500’s left me a little shell shocked. Cars from the ’80s have a special place in my heart. Judging by the constant buzz around them, I am sure I was not alone in thinking so.

 

Mmm whale tail heaven!

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Speaking of ’80s, this E30 M3 Rally car really caught my attention, I knew the shot I wanted, I even waited for about 5 minutes to get it. I was so enamoured that I completely missed the bagged E30 M3 right in front of me. That was equally as flawless. And this was much the same story as you walked around, you would look at one thing, and like a siren, you would be drawn to it, blinkered to stunning machinery around it.

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Eventually Phil & I dragged ourselves away from the automotive candy store and headed to the live show arena.

The hour long show was a true automotive mix bag ranging from Stock Cars to legendary Rally Cars to new concept GT cars.

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And whilst the show was entertaining, no one was showing off more than Liam Doran who was in full attack mode! With anti-lag on, he was putting on his own firework display.

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Coming in hot…

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…before disappearing in a cloud of smoke.

Words & Pictures: Dave Cox (ShootingDave)
Additional Pictures: Phil ‘Paps’ McCusker

 

Reviews

Feature: Intergalactic Planetar-e36

8th January 2017 — by Dave Cox

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The BMW e36 has always held a special place in my heart. When I first passed my driving test, long before I picked up a camera, I wanted one. And to this day, I would still like one.

The sad reality is that, I can’t believe I’m going to say this, drifting has ruined them. They were launched 27 years ago, rear wheel drive and cheap, This meant it was an easy gateway into drifting being affordable and in plentiful supply. This popularity over the years saw the prices go from reasonable to comparatively stratospheric! This was bad news as it also meant that well kept and nicely modified versions were also becoming rarer and rarer. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a few new drift versions out there but you just don’t see that many of them anymore.

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The overwhelming visual thing you’ll notice when you first see the car is the wrap job. With inspiration drawn from Beastie Boys’ Intergalactic James’ e36 certainly wouldn’t look out of place lurking in the background of Stranger Things. CIAY, who has design wraps for Fail Crew’s cars (we will be bringing you a feature of Max’s Boss s14 later this year) was given a simple brief of “make it look like a mad galaxy car”. I’d say they certainly fulfilled the brief! The base layer has a deep galaxy feel to it, full of organic shapes and cosmic dust. This is contrasted nicely with the sharp geometric prismatic lines. In a way this kind of disguises the lines of the bimmer. The turquoise lines help punctuate it, grounding it back to that distinct ’90s shape.

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Attitude is added by lowering the altitude. This car rides on an Air Lift Performance system which means it can tuck the 18inch Rotiform TMB’s. A wheel design that stands apart from the typical deep dish that is more commonly found on modified e36’s. I think it works, the clean, non fussy design doesn’t do anything to take away from the wrap job but it also doesn’t let it down either.

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One of my favourite and also very subtle additions is the smoothed in deck-lid lip. It reminds me of the sort of spoiler found on the e46 M3 CSL’s. A nice touch considering none of the other original lines have been altered. I feel adding on a bolt on spoiler would have detracted from the clean look. I like the way it just adds the little piece of aggression to the rear nicely complementing the custom built EMP exhaust.

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Other modifications include Corbeau bucket seats, Luke harness, ASD hydro, Pipercross air filter, half cage and modified knuckles for my angle by SB motorsport. I think the end result will look awesome, the colour scheme is clearly loud but it ties so well together that it isn’t too much.

If you want to see this car in person then make sure you are at Autosport International 2017 at the Birmingham NEC this coming weekend. It will be on the Fueltopia stand number 9242 in the experience zone, hall 9. If you take any pictures be sure to tag us #Fueltopia or @Fueltopia, we’d love to see them. I’ll also be there on the Saturday so don’t be shy if you see me.

Words & Pictures: Dave Cox (Shooting Dave)