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Me and my car: Adam Enright and his 1983 Ford Capri

MaMC Adam Enright and his 1983 Ford Capri
Photo by Matt Colin Evans (@mattcolinevans)

Press play and head for the mountain pass: Adam Enright tells Charlotte Vowden why the wilds of north Wales are the best place for listening to cassette tapes in his Ford Capri. 

It’s more than three decades since the Ford Capri went out of production, but third-generation Ford fan Adam believes theres no better (fair-weather) ride than his Mk3 when it comes to tackling the winding mountain roads on his way to work in north Wales.

“Listening to a grainy cassette tape through the speakers in a Ford Capri while driving a windy mountain road is one of the best things in life. Theres a big grass lay-by at the top of a hill near where I live in Caernarfon in north Wales that looks out over the bay towards the Isle of Anglesey. I pass through old mining villages and go past abandoned slate mines to get there, park up and watch the sunset with my music going. On a nice day I can see all the way over to Ireland. 

These days people see it as quirky, but I like how down to earth the car is. There are no surprises hidden anywhere, its mechanical and it works. People are amazed that its got an analogue clock and love that its got a tape deck. They wonder how difficult it is to tell the time while Im driving because theyre not used to having to focus on numbers and hands. 

When I was a kid I never had an iPod or CD player, but I did have a walkman; Ive always been a bit of an old soul. I like to think vinyl has had its comeback, and the age of tapes is creeping forward. A lot of bands put out new music in this old format now, and listening to it with the vintage twist of a cassettes crackle and pop is great. I try to be a tidy driver but the glove box is absolutely rammed full of tapes, there are some on the back seats too, and theres a plastic bag full of them in the boot. 

Im 24 and work for Adventure Parc Snowdonia as an electrical engineer. There are lots of opportunities for engineers elsewhere in the country, especially across the border in England, but I cant move away from the area because its stunning.

There are some amazing roads on my commute into the Conwy valley, like Llanberis and Pen-y-Pass, and driving them in the Capri is brilliant. It takes me the same amount of time to cut through the mountains as it does to go on the dual carriageway along the coast; I cant believe that people sit in traffic on their way to and from work when youve got drives like this on the doorstep.

The Capri isnt my daily but I dont see the value in parking it in the garage and keeping it pristine; I bought it to use it, drive it and enjoy it. Being rear-wheel drive, I tend not to take it out in the wet because it can be a little bit hairy on wriggly roads, but it does handle well and its great fun to chuck around.

My school friends had pictures of Ferraris and the Lamborghini Countach on their bedroom walls growing up, but I had old Fords. People say the Capri is Europes answer to the muscle car, which I think is a good description, and I loved watching The Professionals on TV because the characters ragged it round in a Mk3. 

My mum brought me up and I spent quite a lot of time with my grandad; he was always there for me, he was my absolute hero. His name was Anthony and he was an engineer too, he taught me a lot about working on cars and I think he was a great influence. He arranged for me to work at a garage in his village over the summer holidays as a kid, I learned to weld there and spent hours sanding bumpers, wings and sills ready for painting.

Brand loyalty is dead because there are so many brands out there, and people dont connect with cars in the same way anymore. We became a Ford family because grandad knew the family that owned the Ford dealership on Anglesey – thats where I grew up, and thats where my grandparents are from. My mums first car was a Ford fiesta and so was mine. I then bought a 99 Ford Cougar for £500 as a present to myself when I turned 21.

I got my Capri in June 2021 using money my grandad left me when he passed away. I think hed appreciate the input hes had on making a dream come true for me. It was £9,000 and worth every penny. Ive taken it over to Anglesey a couple of times, theres a nice view point over the Menai Strait towards the Menai Bridge, where grandad and I stopped one day for a bit of lunch. I went back recently and had a little thanks for this” moment. 

I wanted a Capri to do up myself, and although this one had already been refurbished, as soon as I saw it I knew I wanted it to be mine. Id never seen one in this unusual emerald green and it looked so good in the sunlight, plus my grandad was Irish – I just couldnt ignore the signs. Id set out in the morning not meaning to buy it, and by the afternoon it was parked on my driveway. It was meant to be.

My Ford Capri is a 1983 2.0-litre S. Its not got the big burbly V6 in there, but its a solid engine; when I pulled the dipstick out to check the oil before I bought it, it was clear as a whistle. The seller took me for a spin and it hugged the road, I didnt expect such an old car to feel as smooth as it did. There was a little bit of play, so I put a new steering rack on it and had the tracking done.

Taking care of an older car gives you life skills that can be applied elsewhere, like problem solving and working with your hands, but sometimes on a cold morning when the Capri doesnt want to start, a few stern words do help.

I dont know much about its history, but Id like to delve into it. I think I could learn a lot from previous owners and it would be great to find out if the car has done any massive road trips. The thought of spending two hours on a motorway to get somewhere else doesnt really appeal, but Id love to go to Germany because my grandad was based there for a while when he served in the RAF.

Locally, Im now known as the guy with the Ford Capri. Its pretty noticeable and one guy even called it an absolute work of art”. Its nice that people share their memories with me too, theyre often buried in the back of the mind until you see the familiar shape of a car, and if someone wants to sit in it, I say go for it. All my mates have been out in the Capri and my friend drives his three-year-old over to mine just so that he can sit in it. The horn is on the end of the indicator stork and he spends the whole time hammering it, beeping away and having a great time.

MaMC: Adam Enright and his 1983 Ford Capri
Matt Colin Evans (@mattcolinevans)

Both my grandparents were quite poorly before they passed away, but my grandad was especially ill. I used to work night shifts, and then be with him during the day, and I talked to him about buying a Capri a lot. The car has been good for me, and I think my mum loves it because she knows how much it means to me.”

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Ford Classic and Capri Owners Club

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Heveningham Concours is back!

Heveningham Concours

The fifth annual Heveningham Concours – a motorsport and aviation event like no other – will take place on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 July 2022 at Heveningham Hall in Suffolk.

The event will host up to 50 of the world’s most beautiful cars, while the aviation concours will feature around a dozen equally rare propeller planes.

On Friday 1st July, entrants and special guests will drive through the picturesque Suffolk countryside as part of The Heveningham Tour, stopping for lunch at a unique, but secret location. We could tell you where, but we might have to kill you…

Each year, the judges award Laurence Edwards-designed bronze trophies in the following classes: post-war, pre-war, supercar, plus the Hanna Aviation Trophy to the best plane.

There’s also a separate prize for the winner of Horsepower Hill, a timed sprint along the estate’s main drive. Horsepower Hill, which returns for the third year, takes place on both days and features its own supercar paddock and drifting area. Spectators are at the heart of the action, with viewing areas overlooking a spectacle not to be missed.

Thunderdrome, an oval flat track around a central bowl, is all-new for next year’s event and sees two competitors try and catch one another from opposite sides – with all the dust kicked up from the likes of a Ferrari F40 screaming sideways through the dirt it’s set to be anything but a straightforward race.

Chairman of the motorsport judging panel, Max Hunt, said: “For the past two years, we sadly had to cancel because of Covid. For 2022, we’re going to make up for it with something that’s really special: even by our standards!”

As ever, all proceeds go to charity, plus the concours also provides a full scholarship for a student to undertake a post-graduate MA in Intelligent Mobility at the Royal College of Art.

Heveningham Concours takes place at the same time as the long-standing Country Fair that attracts around 20,000 people annually, again with all monies going to charity.

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Modern Classics – MINI One

BMW launches a classic electric Mini

electric mini

BMW has revealed that it will launch a classic electric Mini later in 2022, entitled the MINI Recharged Project.

Under development by a dedicated team at MINI Plant Oxford, BMW is to launch a classic electric Mini later in the year. In the announcement, BMW describes the concept as ‘an electric motor for the original Mini combines tradition with pioneering technology – all in the spirit of circular economy.’

They go on to say ‘If Alec Issigonis could design the classic Mini again today, the iconic small car would have an electric motor. After all, the original launched in 1959 was created during an oil crisis and based on the idea of saving fuel and transporting four occupants and their luggage in the smallest possible footprint.’

electric mini

To this day, MINI remains linked to the principles of designer Issigonis with its creative use of space and driving fun. The MINI Recharged project is an opportunity to continue telling the story of the classic Mini in the 21st century, in a sustainable way.

The conversion of classic Minis to an electric drive combines traditional values with future-oriented technology. The idea was born even before the British premium manufacturer had a fully electric car on offer with the MINI Cooper SE (electricity consumption combined:17.6 – 15.2 kWh/100 km according to WLTP; CO2 emissions combined: 0 g/km.).

As a one-off, a classic Mini Electric was built in 2018 and presented at the New York Auto Show. The reactions were so positive that a dedicated team from MINI Plant Oxford set to work and developed the plan to make a corresponding offer available to customers who own a classic Mini.

To experience traditional go-kart handling with an emission-free drivetrain, the original petrol engine of the classic Mini is replaced by a modern electric drive. Only reversible changes are made to the substance of the vehicle during the conversion as part of MINI Recharged. Careful handling of the historical heritage is an important part of the concept. This makes it possible to restore the classic Mini to its original condition at a later date. During the conversion, the original engine of each vehicle is marked and stored so it can be reused in the event of a future retrofit of the classic Mini.

“What the project team are developing preserves the character of the classic Mini and enables its fans to enjoy all-electric performance. With MINI Recharged, we are connecting the past with the future of the brand,” says Bernd Körber, Head of the MINI Brand.

The MINI Recharged project means a vehicle’s life can be extended in a sustainable way. A classic Mini can now be given a new lease of life, accompanying its owner into the future, whilst maintaining its much-loved heritage. The drive is a modern electric motor that generates a continuous output of up to 90 kW and accelerates the electrified classic Mini from zero to 100 km/h in approximately nine seconds. The energy is supplied by a high-voltage battery, which can be charged with an output of up to 6.6 kW and enables a predicted range of around 160 kilometres. In addition, every electrified classic Mini from MINI Recharged receives the characteristic central instrument cluster, familiar since the early days of the classic, which now displays the drive temperature, the selected gear, range and speed.

MINI Recharged fans gain a whole new driving experience; a silent drivetrain with instant acceleration and the ability to enter the electric or low-emission driving zones of many large cities, otherwise inaccessible with a combustion engine. For example, the classic electric Mini can drive in Oxford Street or Piccadilly Circus in London, and once again be part of the cityscape, without the driver having to pay an environmental tax (congestion charge) beforehand. In addition, the electric classic conversion does not need a new registration.

MINI Recharged fits seamlessly into the brand’s future strategy, which also includes the aspect of circular economy. For this project, no new vehicles are being produced, instead they are being created from much-loved, existing cars. It allows a classic Mini to begin a second, more sustainable life. Today, one in five new MINI models has an electrified drive and now the MINI Recharged project will allow the love of the brand’s classic vehicles to become an experience combining the past and the future.

The bespoke upcycling of the classic Mini is carried out exclusively in the UK. Each converted vehicle is given an individual number, making it unique. “Individuality also plays an important role with MINI Recharged,” says Sebastian Beuchel, Head of MINI Global Brand Management. “Unique classic Mini models have always been created, including true works of art on wheels. That’s why future collaborations are also planned as part of the MINI Recharged programme, allowing well-known artists to express their creativity with specially designed classic Mini models.”

Find more info:
BMW Group

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Best of 1980s British TV Comedy Cars

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Best of 1980s British TV Comedy Cars

You may not immediately think of the cars when you remember the classic comedy shows you watched 40 years ago, but there were an incredible number of vehicles featured throughout the decade. Here’s our friends at Lancaster Insurance’s Best of ’80s British TV Comedy Cars

This is another ‘Top Ten’ that could easily have become a ‘Top One Hundred’ but we finally managed to narrow down our selection of British TV Comedy Cars. We have already covered the Reliants of Only Fools and Horses, George and Mildred ended in 1979, while Home James and The Bottle Boys were all immediately rejected on the grounds of dreadfulness. Nor was Howard’s Way actually intended as a comedy. However, watch out later in the year for another list with the Morris Minor 1000 from Open All Hours, the Ford Mustang from Just Good Friends, the Fiat 500 from Dear John

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet 1983 – 2004 Ford Zephyr 6 De Luxe Mk. IV

British film and TV police cars

Or the comedy with the world’s most dilapidated 1969 Zephyr 6 De Luxe, even if Oz does refer to it as “a canny car”. The location work for Series One is an opportunity to marvel at typical German traffic in the early 1980s; Audi 80 B2, Opel Ascona B, VW Passat B1, Ford Taunus TC2, Peugeot 305 and Mercedes-Benz W115, to name but a few cars. All this plus Michael ‘Mr. Bronson’ Sheard as ‘Herr Grunwald’ and a lack of Jimmy Nail’s singing in the first season.

Boon 1986 – 1995 Austin Montego Mayfair

British film and TV police cars

Two principal vehicles were a Norton Commando 850 and a 1965 BSA Lightning. The four-wheeled stars were a Montego 1.6 Mayfair, a Jaguar XJ6 Series III, a 1981 Renault 4 TL, and a very rare 1988 Nissan Bluebird ZX Turbo. If that were not enough, Boon also included a Rover 216 SE, a Renault 5 TL Series I and even a BMW Alpina B10. The show is worth viewing for the supporting vehicles, which range from a Bristol 411 and a Citroen BX Estate to a Peugeot 205 GTI and a police Vauxhall Senator B.

Bread 1986 – 1991 ‘Jaguar 240’

British film and TV police cars

An ‘eighties sitcom that dates horrendously, but the lead car remains viewable; the 1968 ‘Jaguar 240’ owned by Joey Boswell. In fact, sharp-eyed viewers noted that in many of the scenes, it was a disguised Daimler V8 250. The second most prominent vehicle was Victor Boswell’s 1965 Volkswagen Beetle 1200, a reminder that 35 years ago, such cars were still regarded as cheap runabouts. Finally, the exteriors of Bread were filmed at Elswick Street in Liverpool, giving viewers the chance to marvel at the lost realm of Ford Escort Mk. IIs and Commer 2500 Vans.

Chance in a Million 1984 – 1986 VW Beetle 1200 ‘Jeans’

British film and TV police cars

Sometimes, a sitcom lingers persistently in the memory – e.g. “what was that comedy series with a 1974 Beetle 1200 ‘Jeans’ and a young Simon Callow?”. The answer is Chance in a Million, with a supporting cast of typical mid-eighties automotive life. This is an outer London of Austin Metros, slightly down at heel Ford Cortina L Mk. IIIs, and Rover 2000 SD1s. N.B Volkswagen introduced the Jeans limited edition in 1973, and they were instantly recognisable via their ‘Tunis Gelb’ paint finish, black exterior fittings and ‘Blue Jeans’ cloth upholstery.

The Comic Strip Presents…1982 – 2011 Honda Acty

British film and TV police cars

A comedy with almost too many sublime car-related moments to list. The first edition, Five Go Mad in Dorset, featured an Alvis TC 21-100 Drophead, a police Wolseley 6/90 and a Rover P4 75 ‘Cyclops’ – “Secret agents, blah, blah, blah”. Bad News (filmed before Spinal Tap) has a Ford Transit Mk. I tour bus and the VW Type 2 Camper in A Fistful of Traveller’s Cheques. Best of all, Mr. Jolly Lives Next Door starred Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson, a first-generation Honda Acty, a black Citroen DS23 (with a telegraph pole on the roof), and an unfortunate Trojan 200. Not to mention a somewhat traumatised Nicholas Parsons.

Cowboys 1980 – 1981 Jaguar Mk. VIII

British film and TV police cars

An unfairly neglected sitcom with a) a Bedford CF, b) a memorably catchy theme song from Joe Brown, and c) the great Roy Kinnear in the UK’s most down at heel Jaguar Mk. VIII. The last-mentioned is more than enough to make Cowboys worth the price of the DVD boxset. Best episode: C.L.O.D., with some excellent stunt work involving the Bedford and fleeting appearances from a Ford Corsair, a Renault 20 and a Series III ADO16.

The Gaffer 1981 – 1983 Rover P6

British TV Comedy Cars

Sometimes, a car only appears in the opening credits to become instantly memorable. For example, the Rover P6s (the programme employed more than one) in The Gaffer was one of the most famous sitcom cars of the 1980s. And four decades ago, there really were factory bosses who resembled Bill Maynard and piloted an array of ten or even twenty-year-old rusting Triumphs 2000s, Ford Granadas, and Jaguar XJ6 Series Is and even Vauxhall Crestas PCs. Even if their owner did not have The Gaffer‘s approach to parking tickets:

Terry and June 1979 – 1987 Leyland Princess

Yes, Terry and June really did last until as late as August of 1987. Several cars occupied the driveway of ’26 Elmtree Avenue’ throughout the nine series, from an Austin Ambassador to a Ford Sierra and a Granada Mk. II and Mk. III, although the model still associated with the series is the Leyland Princess. Terry Medford drove two; a Tara Green 1700 HL S2 and a Brooklands Green 2200 HL S1 modified to resemble a Series 2. The finest episode for car enthusiasts was 1983’s A Day in Boulogne, with extensive footage of French roads dominated by Citroen Visas, Renault 18 Breaks and various Deux Chevauxs. Plus, a Dover car park filled with Datsun Cherry 100As and Mini Clubman Estates.

Yes Minister 1980 – 1984 Ford Granada Ghia Mk. II

One of the genuinely great situation comedies and with quite a few motoring moments. Jim Hacker’s transport is a black Princess 1700HL S2, reflecting official practice at that time. In 1975 mid-ranking Cabinet ministers were chauffeured in a fleet of Wolseley’ Wedges’, and HM Government continued to use the ADO71 until 1982. The best Yes Minister stories for fans of classic vehicles are The Death List with its police Triumph 2500TC Mk. II and Party Games with Hacker’s Granada Ghia and – a familiar sight in almost any British ‘eighties sitcom – a Met. Rover 3500 SD1.

The Young Ones 1982 – 1984 Ford Anglia 105E De Luxe

Can it really be 40 years ago when The Young Ones was first broadcast? The most famous vehicle over the two series was Vyvyan’s 1962 Ford Anglia De Luxe, customised with flame decals, special wheels and a cadaver’s leg on the bonnet. As the show progressed, its owner demonstrated that he was about as good a driver as he was an authentic punk rocker – i.e. not very:

Trivia notes; many street scenes were shot in Bristol, and the bus that crashed into Cliff Richard’s poster in the final episode is a 1963 AEC Routemaster:

Andrew Evanson, Senior Operations Manager for Lancaster Insurance, said: “Many of the 80’s comedies haven’t aged all that well, unlike some of the fabulous cars that are in them. The best thing about revisiting 70’s and 80’s TV is the sheer amount of great period cars to be seen. Even though most of those cars won’t have survived there will still be a few examples amongst collectors and enthusiasts. Having a ‘famous’ car can have an impact on it’s value so we would suggest exploring an agreed value policy so that the true value of the car would be realised should the worst happen.”

Find more info:
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Changes to the Highway Code announced

the Highway Code

Here at Mike Brewer Motoring we always want you to enjoy your car, but we’re also keen to help you stay the right side of the law. So we’re highlighting some important changes to the Highway Code which come into effect on 29 January.

One of the biggest changes the the Highway Code for 2022 is Rule H1 which introduces a ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ with those most at risk in a collision placed at the top, for example pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. The rule states that “those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others.” So think HGVs downwards with plenty of responsibility on car drivers to be far more aware of other road users.

You’ll also want to be aware of the changes introduced under Rule H2, amongst them the fact that drivers no longer have priority when turning into or out of a junction. So if a pedestrian is waiting to cross you must give way. And the same applies at zebra crossings – drivers must stop if someone is waiting, rather than just already crossing. The changes also state that drivers shouldn’t sound their horn or rev their engine at a crossing as that could intimidate pedestrians, nor flash their lights to indicate they should cross. Got all that?  Good.

the Highway Code

Which now brings us to Rule H3, the gist of which is that car drivers need to treat cyclists and horse riders more like other motorists. That means things like not cutting across them if you are turning into or out of a junction; not cutting across their path so they have to swerve to avoid you; and waiting for a suitable gap in a flow of cyclists before pulling out. Also a part of the new rules is a requirement that drivers give at least 1.5 metres of space at up to 30mph when passing a cyclist. It all seems like common sense stuff, but there’s never any harm in a reminder to be more considerate.

And while we’re on the subject of being more considerate we should draw your attention to Rule 239 which covers parking on the roadside. Alongside reinforcing the need to take care when opening the door to avoid hitting anyone, it now advises using what’s known as the ‘Dutch Reach’ method. This involves using the hand furthest from the door to operate the handle (so left hand for the driver’s door) which naturally encourages you to turn your head and look over your shoulder. We’ve probably all had those near misses with a passing cyclist, so this is a good habit to get into.

Highway Code Changes

That same Rule also now encompasses electric vehicles, advising drivers using a charge point to be considerate when it comes to using cables so as not to create obstacles or trip hazards. Again, this is sensible stuff.

As you can imagine, there’s plenty more detail contained within the revisions so once the changes come into effect we’d heartily encourage you to get a copy of the Highway Code, or take a look at the official government website, make yourself a brew and spend a little time reminding yourself of the rules of the road. We might just give our own Mike Brewer a little test!

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Salon Privé London heads to Royal Hospital Chelsea

Salon Privé

The organisers of Salon Privé have announced a new international luxury car event at the Royal Hospital Chelsea from April 21-23, 2022.

Whereas the nucleus of the globally renowned Salon Privé at Blenheim Palace is the Concours d’Elégance, for Salon Privé London, the focus will be on creating an environment where simply everything on display is for sale.

The event takes place at the iconic Royal Hospital Chelsea and will occupy the main South Lawn of the Grade I and II listed property. Given its timing at the start of the season, it will serve as Europe’s first automotive manufacturer event, with Salon Privé London and Salon Privé Blenheim now book-ending the famed British social calendar.

Salon Privé is one of the UK’s oldest and most respected automotive events, now in its 17th year. Based at Blenheim Palace, it attracts some of the world’s most prolific classic car owners and is renowned for being a destination event not only for private collectors, but also premium automotive brands such as Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Porsche and Rolls-Royce, to name but a few.

Mike Brewer Motoring - Salon Prive

David Bagley, co-founder of Performance Events Limited, said: “In recent years, more and more luxury automotive brands have been favouring the upmarket, more experiential concours environment in which to globally launch their new models. Many of them present either at The Quail or Pebble Beach during Monterey Week before coming to Salon Privé at Blenheim for their UK or European debuts. With an early Q2 dateline, Salon Privé London will be the first European automotive event in the calendar offering manufacturers the opportunity to present new model debuts early in the year from a highly visible capital location.”

While there is obvious synergy between the two, Salon Privé London will be an entirely new event relevant to its urban location. Whereas Blenheim Palace offers a more gentile, garden-party experience where guests can enjoy the uniquely relaxing ambience of ‘Britain’s Greatest Palace’, the London edition will be more energetic and vibrant, high on style and with a party atmosphere.

Mike Brewer Motoring - Salon Prive

Perhaps the most significant difference between Blenheim and London will be the Concours d’Elégance. While the Blenheim Palace Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance is a traditional ICJAG event, open only to privately owned cars and where it is forbidden to enter a car that is for sale, Salon Privé London offers the complete opposite. The ‘Concours de Vente’ will feature 60 of the very best collector cars from the UK and Europe’s most prominent specialist dealers, with all of them available for sale.

This new edition is the brainchild of Andrew Bagley, who explained: “This is a world exclusive – an opportunity for the global elite collector car dealers to take centre stage themselves and enter a car in the inaugural Salon Privé Concours de Vente with all the cars in the new concours for sale across the three days of the event. But there will be judging and silverware too, with the most-prized classic car being awarded the ultimate Prix d’Honneur in the Concours de Vente Gala Dinner on the Friday night in the Great Hall of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.”

He continued: “It is time for the world’s best collector car dealers to enjoy being ‘the guest’ for a change, with three days of cocktail parties, judging, parades, galas and more. Salon Privé Concours de Vente is set to turn the concours world upside down.”

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Bicester Heritage Spring Scramble tickets released

Bicester Heritage Spring Scramble

Historic motoring enthusiasts will have the opportunity to purchase one of the 5,000 tickets for the 24th of April Scramble event, held at Bicester Heritage.

Normally accessible by appointment only, attendees will be able to explore the best-preserved WW2 RAF Bomber Station in the country from 9am to 4pm, gaining access behind the doors of the 45 industry-leading Specialist workshops that the Bicester Heritage hub for historic motoring enterprise is renowned for.

Bicester Heritage Spring Scramble
credit Bicester Heritage

2022 will be the eighth year of the Scramble events, attracting tens of thousands of automotive enthusiasts from around the world and celebrates the ongoing partnership with classic vehicle insurer Hagerty.

Guests will also be able to enjoy refreshments from on-site beverage producers Wriggly Monkey Brewery and Sky Wave Gin and experience the world of vintage aviation on the site’s active grass airfield, in addition to exploring the workshops and tanker sheds that are usually kept behind lock and key.

Bicester Heritage Spring Scramble
credit Bicester Heritage

Bicester Heritage’s Scramblers membership club will be present in full force, promising a range of curated displays and special surprises from members and guest automotive producers alike.

Scramblers and the Scramble events exist to celebrate the historic motoring sector and the magic in the driving and preservation of classic cars, while making these experiences open and accessible for future generations.

Bicester Heritage Spring Scramble
credit Bicester Heritage

Dan Geoghegan, CEO Bicester Heritage adds: “Spring has truly sprung, with an April Scramble promising warmer weather and the chance for all ages to explore and engage with our fantastic on-site Specialists.”

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Buyers Guide: Alfa Romeo MiTo

Alfa Romeo MiTo

Stylish and sporty, a used Alfa Romeo MiTo promises fun and affordability so here’s what you need to know before buying one.

Alfa Romeo have long been revered for their stylish, sporting cars and the brand rightly has a keen following amongst enthusiasts. Since the demise of the Alfasud in the late-1980s they’d not really had a small model with which to tempt buyers, but that changed in 2008 with the announcement of the MiTo.

Named after the cities of Milan and Torino (where it was designed and built respectively) it certainly looked the part, and was intended to lure buyers away from compact premium rivals such as the MINI and Audi A1. Arriving in the UK in January 2009 it remained on sale until 2018.

The Range

Only available as a three-door hatchback, it was therefore simply a matter of choosing the engine and trim level that suited your budget. The MiTo was originally offered in Turismo, Lusso and Veloce forms with the latter boasting a body kit and 17-inch alloys.

The specification got richer with each variant but even entry-level cars got plenty of kit including air-conditioning and Alfa’s ‘DNA’ system that gave drivers the choice of Dynamic, Normal or All-Weather modes. Just over a year after the car’s UK launch a new Cloverleaf trim level was introduced as the range-topper, while a Turismo Sport arrived in August the same year.

Wider changes were made in spring 2011 when the number of model variants was reduced and the range now badged as Sprint, Distinctive and Quadrifoglio Verde. Keen to keep its smallest model competitive Alfa made yet more changes between 2014 and 2017, all of which mostly involved tweaks to the styling and equipment levels – including improved infotainment thanks to the touchscreen Uconnect system – with some revised engines thrown in for good measure. It was enough to keep the MiTo in touch with evermore capable rivals, although overhauling the hugely popular MINI remained a challenge.

Alfa Romeo MiTo

Engine and Transmission

During nigh-on a decade of production the MiTo would be powered by a range of small capacity petrol and diesel engines, with the former mostly 1.4-litre units. At launch buyers could pick from a 95bhp 16-valve unit that was good for 0-62mph in 11.2 secs and 47mpg, or punchier 1.4TB versions with 120 or 155bhp. T

here was more power for 2010 with the introduction of Alfa’s new MultiAir engine, another 1.4 unit that offered 135 or 170bhp. This employed a clever system whereby the lift and duration of the inlet valves were controlled via solenoid valves managed by the engine ECU. In its most powerful form it punched the MiTo to 62mph in 7.5 seconds.

By 2012 there was also the choice of the turbocharged, 2-cylinder TwinAir unit managing a modest 85bhp from its 0.9 litres. As for the diesels it was a choice of 1.3- and 1.6-litre JTDm units with various outputs and claimed economy of up to 80mpg.

With the potential for EGR valve and DPF issues, think about whether you really need an oil-burner before committing. Petrol engines are broadly reliable with proper maintenance, so avoid anything with a patchy or non-existent service history; service intervals were extended after 2012 so regular attention is even more important.

MultiAir units need the correct grade of oil (misfires, poor running and costly repairs can result otherwise), whilst most petrol engines have a cam belt that needs renewing every 72k miles/5 years; budget around £300 at a specialist.

Transmission wise, it was 5- or 6-speed manuals depending on engine, noting that prior to 2010 the latter was the potentially troublesome M32 ‘box. Bearing wear can occur towards 80k miles, so watch for whines, obstructive selection or jumping out of gear.

From 2011 there was also Alfa’s TCT dual-clutch transmission with optional paddle shifters, and while it worked well anything other than smooth, prompt gearshifts could point to actuator or sensor issues.

Running Gear

If you were expecting technical fireworks beneath the MiTo’s skin you’d have been disappointed, although the conventional layout bodes well for future maintenance.  Suspension was by MacPherson struts up front and a semi-independent torsion beam axle at the back, and general wear and tear aside – tired dampers, worn bushes and anti-roll bar drop links and perished front strut top mounts – there’s little of concern. The adaptive dampers fitted to some variants are pricey to replace, though – close to £400 each.

Assuming discs and pads are in decent condition there’s not much else to worry about with the brakes. The electrically-assisted steering raises the potential for trouble, though, so if the assistance feels intermittent or there’s any warning lights it’ll need further investigation; new EPAS units are £700 with refurbished ones around half that.

It’s also advisable to try the DNA switch in each mode to ensure you can feel any changes to throttle response, steering and damper tune. Lastly, it’s worth a check for kerb-damaged alloys and signs of uneven tyre wear.


With no issues around external corrosion to worry about you can concentrate on ensuring the cabin is up to scratch. It looked decently sporty and quality was reasonable, so unless you’re looking at an abused example it should still be in good nick. A few rattles and creaks are to be expected, but otherwise it’s a matter of just checking for the usual scuffs and scrapes and damaged leather trim.

As for the electrics, it’s wise to ensure everything still works as it should, paying particular attention to climate control and infotainment systems. The heater fan resistor can fail but it’s a straightforward fix, while a failing battery can cause all manner of strange electrical issues – check there first before assuming the worst. The wiring loom to the tailgate can also be a trouble spot, so ensure items like the rear wiper operate correctly.

Finally, check the alternator on pre-2011 cars – water could drip onto it from the scuttle, causing damage.

What we say

While some of the MiTo’s rivals provide a more well-rounded driving and ownership experience there’s still something appealing about the small Alfa. Much of that is down to the lively engines, and when you factor in generous equipment levels and temptingly-affordable prices it’s easy to see why it might get the nod over more obvious choices. And with plenty of specialists and an enthusiastic and friendly owner’s club there’s plenty of support and advice on hand to make ownership easier. Find one that’s been cherished and there should be plenty of enjoyment to be had.

Find more info:

Wikipedia Alfa Romeo MiTo

Join the club:

Alfa Romeo Owners Club

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F1 fun at the British Motor Museum this February half term

February Half Term

It’s all about Formula 1 fun at the British Motor Museum during February half term with a host of exciting racing themed family activities!

From 19 – 27 February half term, families can also discover the much loved British sports cars from manufacturers such as Morgan, Lotus, Triumph, McLaren, Bentley and Aston Martin within the collection.

Families can drop into the Learning Space to design and make a LEGO® Formula 1 Racing Car every day of February half term between 10am – 3pm and ‘race’ it along a track. Once children have recorded their time on the pitstop wall, you can take a photo of your car to print out and take home.

A Family Weekend Tour will take place on 19 & 20 and 26 & 27 February at 1:30pm when children can help the Museum’s ‘resident racing driver’ Jackie Demon pick out their next drive and discover the amazing racing cars in the Museum’s collection.

Professor Pickle and Doctor Pumpkin will be running their ever-popular Science Shows on 21, 22, 24 and 25 February and sharing the secret science of speed. For one day only on Wednesday 23 February, join the STEM ambassadors from MOD Kineton to make and launch ‘Rocket Cars.’

There is also a new ‘Road Map’ family trail enabling children to explore the cars in the collection that are linked by name to different destinations around the world. Simply pick up the ‘Road Map’ Trail at the Family Activity Station andreturn for a reward sticker.

Emma Rawlinson, Lifelong Learning Officer at the British Motor Museum said: “February’s activities are all about helping families engage with our collection in a fun and interactive way, bringing cars to life with great stories, fun facts and hands on science. There is something for all ages to enjoy.”

Museum entry is just £40 for a family in advance or £44 on the day, £14.50 for adults in advance or £16 on the day, £12.50 for concessions in advance or £14 on the day, £9 for children (5-16 years) in advance or £10 on the day and under 5s are FREE. There is also the option to Gift Aid or donate your entry fee and get an Annual Pass in return, at no extra cost. All family activities are included in Museum admission and run on a drop in basis, just visit the Family Activity station on arrival to find out what is going on when. All activities are suitable for 3+ years with adult supervision, unless otherwise specified.

Find more info:

British Motor Museum – February Half Term

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Top Ten Facts: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang


Top Ten Facts: The Italian Job

The Italian Job

The Italian Job was not the most successful British film of 1969. It was released on the 5th of June and became the 14th most popular cinema feature of that year, with the number one place occupied by Carry On Camping. However, frequent screenings on television created its legacy to the extent that it is now regarded as one of Michael Caine’s most famous pictures.

The Italian Job continues to be essential viewing for motoring enthusiasts around the world. Here our friends at Lancaster Insurance give their ten reasons why.
N.B. Yes, that is Frank ‘Father Jack Hackett’ Kelly as one of the prison warders.

The Minis

The Italian Job

The Austin Mini Cooper S fleet all sport ‘G’ registration suffixes despite sporting an Mk. I grille. The newly formed British Leyland Motor Corporation was only prepared to provide older models to the production, and the six principal Minis finished in standard colours. They were repainted two red, two white and two blue – with Cibie ‘Oscar’ auxiliary lamps enhancing their appearance. In 2008 the producer Michael Deeley complained that BLMC “only agreed to sell us three Minis at trade price and the other 30-odd we bought…we wanted bonnet straps, the big fog lights and all the usual extras, that you see in the picture; they were not interested in anything of that nature”.


The Italian Job

As Paramount backed The Italian Job, the studio chief Robert Evans wanted Robert Redford in the lead while the screenwriter Troy Kennedy Martin saw Nicol Williamson rather than Noël Coward as Mr. Bridger. Benny Hill, a very popular member of the cast, rewrote most of his dialogue and came up with the idea of the Professor’s obsession. Deeley was keen to cast other comics and comedy actors such as Irene Handl and John Le Mesurier, while Simon Dee’s cameo was a quid quo pro for Michael Caine’s appearance on his chat show. Robert Rietti, who played the Police Chief, was also one of British cinema’s finest revoice artists.

Rémy Julienne

The Italian Job

When shooting commenced, Julienne was already a legend for his cinematic stunts; here is some of his early screen work:

He detailed the main alterations to the Minis, including fitting sump guards and stripping their cabins of any fitting that would catch on the stunt driver’s clothes. The crew also removed the back seats. None of the three Mini drivers – David Salamone as ‘Dominic’ in the red Cooper, Barry Cox as ‘Chris’ in the white Cooper and Richard Essame as ‘Tony’ in the blue Cooper  – were professional thespians and their lines were post dubbed by another performer.

The Coach

Initially, the filmmakers considered fitting a treadmill inside the coach and believed that the 1964 Bedford VAL 14 Harrington Legionnaire had to be driven slowly for the autostrada scene. Another of their many concerns was the tyres exploding once the cars were aboard. However, Julienne informed them that the first two precautions were unnecessary. Le Patron ordered the front of the Bedford to be reinforced with steel plating, although the driver’s seat was still forced forward by several inches. A pressure cannon was used for the disposal of the Minis while the director Peter Collinson waves the cars aboard the VAL 14. Surprisingly, no one else on location really wanted that role…

The Supporting Cars

The father of David Salamone owned Blenheim Motors who provided the film with the Thames 400E ‘Dormobile’, the Land-Rover and the Daimler DR450 Limousine. Salamone recently told The Daily Telegraph “we did not have a vehicle transporter, so friends, my girlfriend and my mother were roped in to drive the cars to locations. I had to take one of the Fiat Dinos from Italy to Twickenham, and because I only just made it to the late-night ferry to Dover, I finally arrived in the studio with minutes to spare”.

The Lamborghini The Aston Martins The Alfa Romeos and The Fiat Dinos

Of the other major automotive stars, Lamborghini’s Enzo Moruzzi doubled for Rossano Brazzi as the Miura P400 sped along the Great St Bernard Pass; the film camera was mounted on the door. The Lamborghini survives, as does one of the two Aston Martins used on screen. Enthusiasts of fine motor cars invariably notice how the ‘DB4’ destroyed by the Mafia is a heavily disguised Lancia Flaminia 3C Cabriolet. The Alfa Romeo Giulias were the archetypal Italian police car of the late ‘sixties, while the three Fiat Dino Coupes were originally red or blue before being painted black for the film.

The Jaguar E-Types

When filming began, Richard Essame owned the E-Type Roadster, which the production company bought from him. 848 CRY was the 12th RHD example to leave Browns Lane. Both it and the Coupe were worth circa £900 at the time, or the price of a new Ford Cortina Super Mk. II, and today many Jaguar devotees find the Mafia confrontation scene hard to watch. They would be even less impressed to learn that Collinson actually took a sledgehammer to one car to intensify the damage. Fortunately, CRY survived filming and is now in the custody of the famous motoring author and publisher Philip Porter.

The Stunts and Locations

Watching the film now is to marvel at the many achievements of Julienne and his equipage. The wedding party scene lasts for just a few seconds, but the extras were carefully arranged to minimise risk. When negotiating the steps, the Cooper drivers had to maintain a fairly high speed to avoid rolling, nor could they perform an emergency stop. The tunnel chase was staged at the Stoke Aldemoor sewer in Coventry for a fee of £1,000 to the city council. Alas, the condition of the tunnel wall made it impossible for Julienne to complete a 360-degree spin.

The Rooftop Jump

The Italian Job

Julienne’s favourite stunt in the film was the jump between Fiat’s Lingotto buildings. It did not feature in the original script, but the great man believed it was possible to have all three Minis simultaneously leap the gap. His challenges were many, for the buildings were 70 feet above the ground and the cars needed to clear 60 feet. Furthermore, the landing point was 12 feet lower than the launching point. The crew placed a lorry filled with polystyrene in the gap between the buildings, and on the day of the stunt, the extras were genuinely fearful for the drivers’ lives. One local cameraman was so terrified he fled the location.


Kennedy Martin had Roger Beckermann driving a silver Iso Grifo rather than a Lamborghini. On location Benny Hill would talk to the waiters in Italian. Frankie Howerd was the second choice for the role of Simon Peach. A scene of Charlie Croker despatching the Professor to Geneva ahead of the gang did not make the final cut due to the running time. The great British Blues singer/songwriter Duffy Power plays the harmonica on Self Preservation Society. Michael Caine could not drive when filming The Italian Job, and the Aston Martin was towed out of the underground car park.

Andrew Evanson, Senior Operations Manager for Lancaster Insurance, said: “Even if not the most successful, The Italian Job is one of the most iconic films of its day, the chase scenes through the streets of Turin are legendary. The film is one I never tire of watching and is full of classic car nostalgia. Whether you own a classic Mini, an Aston Martin like Charlie Croker or an E-Type, a classic specialist like Lancaster Insurance should be your first call to arrange insurance cover. We just hope you take better care of your cars than Michael Caine and his crew did!”

Find more info:

Lancaster Insurance

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