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Reviews

Benny Rees’ sleek Celica

27th March 2017 — by Dave Cox

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“Sweet Mustang man…” a phrase Ben often hears when people approach his car.

You may guffaw but it is true, you can clearly see the American influences on this vehicle. The Japanese during this era were known for designing the vehicles using tracing paper and pictures of cars from all around the world. Just look at the “C” Pillars, the rear louvres and the vertical tail lights. All of which are styling cues taken from the Ford Mustang. It is no wonder that the RA28 Celica got the nickname “Japanese Mustang” and therefore you can forgive people’s mistakes.

Reviews

Feature: Das Galag TG3

2nd January 2017 — by Dave Cox

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This thing is pure pantomime. It is a comically wide, hilariously loud chrome disco ball.  It is as subtle as farting in bed after a night of curry and beer, you’re bound to notice.

Now I will be the first to admit that I don’t know a huge amount about Mercedes. To my mind they are the type of car that is driven by taxi drivers and your Dad and often beige in colour. However they do have a way of clawing back some of that reputation by popping down to Halfords and sticking some chrome letters on the back. That, and shoehorning a thumping great V8 in the front of them. Even still, I failed to see their appeal.

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I even drove an E63 AMG Estate at Mercedes World in Woking, sure it was entertaining, loud and at the same time comfortable, I just never could shake off the thought of men in tweed transporting themselves to and from the golf club. To me they were rich boys toys, over styled, over weight and, dare I say it, vulgar. But what do I know? The sheer volume of them on the roads proves that I may be alone in this thinking.

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However, in late 2015 Mercedes announced the AMG GT and GTs. Everything I knew about the three pointed star had been changed, and I was very happy.

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The proportions of this GT cruiser are so well considered, that long bonnet, the swept back windscreen, the short cabin and curves that seem to never end. Who wouldn’t want to go mile munching in a thing that looks this pretty. Well that is exactly what the guys at Team Galag thought when they commissioned Xquisite Productions to build them a car for the Gumball 3000.

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What Xquisite did was not just bolt a body kit, because you can’t really call it as such. It is more of a complete reshell. It is said that there are a further six inches added to the width of this car already very wide car taking it well past the two meter mark. They managed this without disrupting the flow of Mark Fetherston’s original vision.

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Just look at how the body extends well past the rear taillights, normally the standard body would follow the contours of the lights. Not any more. In case the reshell was too subtle a rather large (read bloody huge) carbon fibre wing was added. In fact it had to be cut down so that it didn’t extend past the cars width.


Up front we have a front splitter the size of a tea tray, canards that resemble Jaw’s fins and fender vents that looks like, well, fender vents. Round back with that large wing we spoke of but also a functioning rear diffuser. If it is all still too subtle for you, you could just remove the mufflers and wrap the whole thing in chrome. Oh…ok. Well it is Gumball after all. And as such you want your car to look like a race car but would you really want to do 3000miles in a race car?

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Didn’t think so. So the interior was left as stock and to be honest, it is a great place to sit, everything works save for the sports exhaust button. The reason for that is they have removed the rear mufflers so it is on all the time. Naughty. There are exhaust flaps up front which get opened when you but the car in race mode.

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The seats are supple and supportive with AMG details on the back rest, the driving position is comfortable with great visibility. Heated seats, cruise control, air conditioning, satnav, RACE BUTTON, it has it all. I love the red stitching details and the  Edition 1 AMG alcantara steering wheel. I’d love to jump in and chew through some miles across Europe.

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Following the car through town to our shoot location was both hilarious and gob-smacking. The noises it makes in race mode are filthy. It is a dirty, filthy, brutal bark punctuated by pops and bangs. It’s like a heavily congested, snoring elephant rolling around on bubble wrap during a firework display. It was great to school kids gather and point as it set off from traffic lights, gawping motorists as went past and the cackling from myself and Phil as struggled to keep up with it. I love this thing.


The speed side of things is due to the fact that this AMG now how has a much smaller twin turbo V8 only 4.0L versus the old 6.2L n/a of 5.5L twin turbos but it makes more power, and is more driveable AND it has better fuel economy. The noise, well, as we mentioned, it doesn’t have any mufflers out back.

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Now when Phil and I first saw this at the Ace Cafe which you can see in this blog here it was dark and hard to see all the little details. But getting up close and personal to it during this shoot allows you to appreciate some of the differences this TG3 (Team Galag 3) has to the GT3 variant. I for one prefer the standard front grill versus the bar version. the original cooling ducts for the brakes remain too as well as the standard headlights. I’m not going to pretend it is understated but the redesign does a nice job of sitting between the standard and the race version of this car.

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With light rapidly falling away it was time to wrap up and head home. I really didn’t want to leave this silly, obnoxious, brilliant car behind. So on the way back I spent some time hanging out of the passengers window of Phil’s BMW catching some rolling shots. I’m lying really, I was just trying to get a better listen of it one last time. Now, if only I could find a spare £100k…

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I want to pay a special thanks to Kay at Xquisite Productions and his team for allowing the opportunity to shoot it. I really do appreciate it, any time you have something else cool to shoot, don’t hesitate in asking us to pop down.

Words & Pictures: Dave Cox (Shooting Dave)
Additional Pictures: Phil “Paps” McCusker

Spec list:
4.0L Twin Turbo V8
Mid/Front Engine, Rear Wheel Drive
503bhp @ 6250 rpm
479 lb-ft Torque @ 1750 rpm
7 Speed AMG SpeedShift Dual Clutch transmission
1674kg curb weight
0-60mph – 3.8 Seconds
top speed – 193mph

Reviews

Mellow Yellow – Rich’s S15

3rd July 2016 — by Dave Cox

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Now before my baptism into drifting around 4 years ago, which is where I met Rich, I had never really seen, let alone heard of a Nissan S15. Admittedly there one was one early introduction in Fast & Furious but I hadn’t really stood next to one.

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Rich bought his S15 just over a year ago now. It was imported from Japan, was fitted with air ride and had a standard SR20 mated to an automatic slush box and was intended to be another build for the now infamous Driftworks team. The project never got underway and Rich acquired the car through the business. Now with shelves full of drift spec parts and crates of Work Wheels coming in, it didn’t take too long for the cogs of inspiration to start turning.

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The goal was simple, low and wide. First port of order was to tackle the “wide” portion of this build. This one done with some Origin Lab fender adding an extra 50mm in the rear and 40mm up front. The front are direct replacements but the rear are riveted into place with some fab work underneath.

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40 and 50mm might not sounds like a lot but to me I think the difference is profound. Adding so much more drama to the rear and even tying it in with the OEM rear bumper looks great.

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The vents behind the front wheel add that little bit of needed aggression too. During the build process, Rich decided to ditch the standard rear wing. A move that I think really works well. I actually think it looks more aggressive without it. You’ll have to take my word for it as I don’t have pictures of both.

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To make the rear of the car feel less naked, Rich added in a roof spoiler, a clean an elegant addition I’d say. Standard lights were also swapped out for DMAX style rears.

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Another import modification on there is the Fueltopia graphic! Who doesn’t want one of those?

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Continuing on with the exterior modifications was the addition of a Origin Lab front bumper, the differences from the OEM version are subtle. Origin Labs here just take the standard formula and subtle aggressive tweaks along with new side skirts, really ties the look together.

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Next on the agenda, the lows. Now I did mention that this was on air ride but Rich tells me that it was leaky and provided horrible ride quality so the bags were ditched in favour of some HSD coilovers giving him the ride comfort and adjustability he was looking for. I don’t want to get all scene on you but the fitment is on point, there is just enough clearance and having been in the car, it ride so well. Paired to the width of this car, it really has transformed the way it looks.

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The 18″ Work Wheels Emotion CR2P (18×9 et-10 front – 18×11 et-0 rear) that were chosen for this car contrast the yellow paint work nicely. I was trying to think what other colour choice would go, black would contrast too much and possibly fade away compared to the yellow paint work. Other colour choices I think would run the risk of looking too garish. Maybe I’m wrong, white isn’t something I would normally go for but I think they are spot on here.

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To keep the front wheels from rubbing when turning the OEM tension rods were swapped out for Geomasters, sitting the wheel better in the arch and offering better lock.

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The interior is pretty much standard, with the original Japanese dash intact. Not sure he has any plans to tear into this one, maybe some comfy race seats. I really like how the Personal steering wheel matches the exterior colour.

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I have followed this banana being built for just over a year now and I like to think that I have shared as much enthusiasm for this car as he has. I wouldn’t change a thing about the way it looks. Yellow isn’t my colour, at all. BUT I am really blown away by it. You can’t miss it. It just works so well.

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Rich does have plans for upgrading the power portion of it as this is very much low and slow, there are talks of a Red top SR engine swap, I keep pushing him to go the V8 route but we shall see.

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People kept wanting to see this thing and ask questions about it and I can see why. We shot most of this shoot up a Driftworks HQ but then we headed into central Birmingham to get some rolling shots. As I was hanging out of the side of the car, people were stopping and staring. At the car, not the idiot waving his camera around outside of the chase car.

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It was nice to see it get so much attention, I couldn’t help but smile was we were following it into the city centre. It looks so wide and so low from behind. Originally I though the front of S15’s were their best feature, but now, seeing how this one sits, I have to think it is the rear.

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Rolling shots over, we headed back to DW and waited for the sun to set to do some lit shots. All the while, I couldn’t help smile. Shoot done, it was time for beer. Cheers Rich, I love this car, I will even let you sell it to me (mates rates) once you’re done.

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Words & Pictures: Dave Cox (ShootingDave)

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