Tuesday 19 December 2017

The Oliver Winterbottom Diaries – October and November

It's that time of the year when we all start winding down in time for Christmas. But not Oliver Winterbottom! After a slower end to the summer, things picked up and he has been incredibly busy. Today we have a bumper post, to get you up to speed. You can catch up on May, June, July, August and September's entries here. 

3 October – Siân at Veloce sends three book reviews from September. Quite a detailed and pretty good one from Big End. Graham Robson also wrote one, as did New Zealand Classic Car. Getting fairly widespread coverage now.

6 October – Visit Alexander Boswell, son of Ian, who encouraged me to design cars when I was young. He and his sisters were family friends. I gladly sign his copy of my book.

9 October – Give talk at East Anglia Lotus Club at Tivetshall Old Ram. Capacity crowd and signed a number of books. Message from the Club Chairman: "Thank you very much for your talk and presentation last night. All comments were very favourable, a few members were disappointed that your book was not available to purchase last night, and perhaps you could recommend the most suitable source please." Note: Need to think about the book supply before future events, but don't want to become a 'bookseller.'

10 October – Book air mailed to China reaches its destination.
Discussing presenting a copy to the library of my old school Denstone College.
Create a book 'flyer' with quotes from reviews to help promote the book prior to Christmas. A4 sheet which can be folded for carrying.

11 October – My latest book flyer put on display at the Barnham Broom Bell.

12 October – Lunch at the Larling Angel, they put my book flyer on display. 
Contact Angus Marshall at lotusexcel.net to discuss pre-Christmas promotional possibilities. 

16 October – Find Jarrolds, Norwich bookseller review dated 1st of August on the web.

17 October – Richard Bond, Hethersett Queens Head, would like a book signed as a special gift. Suggest evening of Tuesday the 24th.

21 October – Go to BRM Association Evening in Bourne. Take a number of book flyers and distribute among potential purchasers. I catch up with various acquaintances and receive some praise from my book readers – much appreciated. Dick Salmon (BRM – A Mechanics Tale), Colin Crabb and Frans van de Camp were fellow authors attending. 

24 October – Another five-star review on Amazon USA.

27 October – Book TVR 1946-1982 by Matthew Vale arrives. Matthew has sent it as a thanks for my co-opertaion with his writing. First impressions are that he has done a first-class job, and the book is a significant addition to TVR history.
Visited Omicron (Lancia specialist) to meet Roger Constable who is in the book. He was away, but Martyn Cliffe (ex-Lotus) proprietor has book, which I happily sign.
Visited the Larling Angel. Two books bought after my last visit – blimey, how about the gift of the gab! Another copy in the offing as well.

28 October – Classic Team Lotus now have my book available from their online shop. Many thanks Team.

31 October – Arrange to present a copy of my book to the library of my old school Denstone College on Friday 10 November. 

Oliver's book flyer

1 November – Receive email from Miss Wu, an ex-enigeering colleague at Wanxiang EV, Xiaoshan, China, giving her latest address.

2 November – Air mail a copy of the book to Miss Wu, who is now working at Geely Automobile Research Institute, Hangzhou Bay New District, Ningbo, P.R. China. I noted that it is ironic that Geely now hold 52% of Lotus, so the book may give her more background that most of Geely management!

4 November – Get a copy of Auto Express with a brief review. God words, but the last comment on wanting more high-quality shots is rather pushing one's luck. The book goes back to 1961, so the pictures are chosen from whatever is available. 
Postman delivers Lotus Letters, the magazine of the Lotus Club of Holland. I met Jan-Bart Broertjies when I visited Clive Chapman at Classic Team Lotus. He has devoted a whole page to the book with four photos. I guess the words are good, but I don't read Dutch! Thanks Jan-Bart. 

7 November – Richard Bond, Queens Head Hethersett, wants a book signed as a gift, but will not get it before we both go away. Shame, it's for a famous person! See November 21 for a change of plan!

10 November – I return to my old school Denstone College, near Uttoxeter, to present a copy of my book to their library. My return was 56 years after I left, and 98 years since my father arrived there. 
Mrs Teather had arranged for me to present the book to the librarian Dr Ireland. I signed a brief message inside the front of the book: "Presented to Denstone College, Threlfall Library, by the author in recognition of the start in life that the college gave him. It is hoped this book will encourage young people to consider careers in the creative world. Oliver Winterbottom. Selwyn House, Denstone College, September 1958 - July 1961."
The Threlfall Library covers a large area that, in my day, included my house Common Room. It was therefore fitting that the shelf assigned to A life in car design was actually within the original room's space. 
Following this, I was invited to attend the school Remembrance Chapel Service. This was supported by the pupils, many parents, staff, and a few old boys, completely filling the large school chapel. The whole service was dignified and very moving. I was privileged to attend. 

11 November – I visit the Lancaster Classic Car Show at the NEC Birmingham. I am a guest of Angus Marshall, principal of the Lotus Elite/Eclat/Excel Owners Clubs (lotusexcel.net). We meet at the entrance and are joined by Barrie Wills, a contemporary ex-Jaguar apprentice and the last CEO of DeLorean. I was delighted to see so many familiar faces who are so loyal to these cars. The exhibition stand had a full complement of vehicles from the 1970's front engine range. 
Once in the exhibition, I had a superb day meeting lots of people. Starting with the famous, I was delighted to find Martin Lilley, one time owner of TVR Sports Car Ltd, on their club stand. He was with John Bailie – who I had not seen for quite a few years – the famous Bailie who designed the TVR logo! I also saw the redoubtable Andy who provided a Tasmin for the Classic Car shoot in Norfolk last year. On the way to their stand, I called at a Jaguar stand and had a chat with Roger Kemp, who does great works for the clubs associated with the Coventry company.

14 November – Meet John Morgan, ex-Lotus, in the Queens Head. Agree to sign book on a Tuesday, as that is the day I usually visit.

15 November – Send video and flyer to James at Octane Magazine.
Lizzie, the lady who edited and corrected my book, tells me she is leaving Veloce at the end of November. It will be a huge loss for Veloce and myself, as she was a joy to work with. Good Luck Lizzie!

16 November – Angus Marshall, of lotusexcel.net, sends me a Via Retro Classic Car Show report: "This weekend saw the UK's biggest indoor classic car exhibition, the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show 2017, held at the NEC in Birmingham. With five big halls and a smidgen above 70,000 visitors during the three days, 257 car clubs took part and 650 trade stand."

Contact "Andy" at TVR Car Club to remark that my book is not listed on the Club web shop!

17 November – James, of Octane Magazine, replied to my message with thanks.
Supply a copy of my book to Brian Stammers, the senior family member at the Larling Angel. 

18 November – Book air mailed to Miss Wu at Geely Automobile Research Institute in China arrives, having taken 15 days. Miss Wu and her husband worked for me at Wanxiang EV in Xiaoshan, China, in 2006-7.

20 November – Denstone College request copies of the library presentation photographs for an article they are preparing. 

21 November – Richard Bond, Hethersett Queens Head, asks me to sign a copy of the book which he is giving as a gift to a VIP classic car collector. We thought we may have missed the opportunity, but his plans were delayed. 

25 November – Visited Kettereingham Hall Piano Tea Room with my daughter Anne. She was born in the Garden Cottage, and I worked in the Hall for Colin Chapman. I left a document explaining my connection, and a copy of my book flyer. After lunch, we visited Garden Cottage and I delivered a flyer to Roger Pestle, who has lived there for 30 years. He does still work for Classic Team Lotus and Lotus Cars. He worked for my projects when at the Hall.

28 November – Lunch with Mike Kimberly and Matthew Vale at Eaton Red Lion. Matthew is writing a book on the Lotus Europe Twin Cam, so we were helping his research. I understand the book will be published by Veloce! Later, I sign Matthew's copy of my book with thanks. 

30 November – Pack the next completed notes and slides for my talk on the book to Club Lotus Avon next Tuesday, 5 December. 

What a great way to round off a very exciting year! You can buy your copy of A life in car design here. 

Friday 8 December 2017

Return of the Romeo!

The prestigious Italian brand, owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), just last week signed a multi-year technical and commercial partnership agreement with Swiss Sauber F1 Team for participation in the Formula 1 world championship beginning with the 2018 season.

The single-seaters will sport the distinctive colours and logo of Alfa Romeo, the team's Title Sponsor, and will be equipped with 2018 Ferrari power units.

The scope of the agreement includes strategic, commercial and technological cooperation in all applicable areas of development, including access to engineering know-how and the expertise of Alfa Romeo technical staff. This partnership will provide additional opportunities for the two organisations, in both Formula 1 and the automotive sector in general . 

The official name will be Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team.

Sergio Marchiane, CEO of FCA, said: "This agreement with the Sauber F1 Team is a significant step in the reshaping of the Alfa Romeo brand, which will return to Formula 1 after an absence of more than 30 years. A storied marque that has helped make the history of this sport, Alfa Romeo will join other major automakers that participate in Formula 1. The brand itself will also benefit from the sharing of technology and strategic know-how with a partner of the Sauber F1 Team's undisputed experience. The Alfa Romeo engineers and technicians, who have already demonstrated their capabilities with the newly-launched models, Giulia and Stelio, will have the opportunity to make that experience available to the Sauber F1 Team. At the same time, Alfa Romeo fans will once again have the opportunity to support an automaker that is determined to begin writing an exciting new chapter in its unique, legendary sporting history."

Pascal Picci, Chairman of Sauber Holding AG, commented: "We are very pleased to welcome Alfa Romeo to the Sauber F1 Team. Alfa Romeo has a long history of success in Grand Prix racing, and we are very proud that this internationally renowned company has chosen to work with us for its return to the pinnacle of motorsport. Working closely with a car manufacturer is a great opportunity for the Sauber Group to further develop its technology and engineering projects. We are confident that together we can bring the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team great success, and look forward to a long and successful partnership."

The return of Alfa Romeo, one of the major protagonists in Formula 1 history, is expected to contribute significantly to the appeal and future development of the sport. Alfa Romeo brings with it technological know-how and a large and passionate fan base, while participation in the championship also offers benefits for the brand in areas such as technology transfer and road safety. 

Alfa Romeo is known around the world for its racing heritage and technological excellence. The undisputed champion of the pre-war Grand Prix (in 1925, the GP Tipo 2 dominated the first World Championship), Alfa Romeo participated in Formula 1 from 1950 to 1988, both as a constructor and engine supplier. Immediately upon its debut, Alfa Romeo won the first two drivers' world championships, in 1950 and 1951, with drivers Nino Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio. From 1961 to 1979, Alfa Romeo participated as engine supplier to several F1 teams. Following its return as a constructor in 1979, Alfa Romeo achieved its best result in 1983, taking sixth place in the constructors' championship. More than 30 years after withdrawing as a competitor from Formula 1 (1985), the brand is returning with the clear intention to make its mark.

If you're a fan of Formula 1, and fancy reading more about the times when Alfa Romeo originally competed in races, then why not take a look at Brian Harvey's book Formula One – The Real Score?, a rewriting of the records of Formula One and its best drivers to include every race of equivalent standard to the official World Championship rounds. And for the Alfa Aficionado, we have Johnny Tipler's recently reprinted Alfa Romeo Giulia GT & GTA, now in paperback!

Friday 1 December 2017

The Oliver Winterbottom Diaries – August and September

It may now have been a fair few months since Oliver Winterbottom's autobiography first hit the shelves, but that doesn't mean that his promotional run has started to wind down. Today's blog post recounts how Oliver spent the end of his summer. Make sure you're all caught up with May, June and July's posts first!

1 August – I visit Ketts Books store, Wymondham, to ask for answer to email. Manager not present so message left. 

3 August – Receive email from Tom Smith (owner of Lotus M90/X100) in Texas. He attaches an article from Challenges, a French publication. I ask John Elwin if he knows this publication. It appears to be "copied" from the book, not a review. Sent copy to Veloce for comment.

Warren King (ex-Lotus Accounts Dept.) called, likes the book, asking if I will give a talk to Lotus East Anglia. Answer yes! Arranged for Monday the 9th of October, Tivittshall Ram, 8pm.
A guy I have known for years (don't know his name) from Larling Angel finds me at Farnham Broom Bell for signing his book. He had tried Hethersett Queens first and was redirected!

4 August – French article appears to be a well written independent story on the M90 – John Elwin's thoughts.

6 August – Find Amazon UK has two reviews online:
5.0 out of 5 Stars
A very interesting book and read for anyone interested in car design of the TVR company when the Tasmin was being designed, Lotus or Jaguar in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s to in the great man himself his life and all the cars he designed. Well written with lots of info on what went on in the three companies. Highly recommend.

5.0 out of 5 Stars
An entertaining and wonderful autobiography, providing an informative insight into the critical role Oliver played in the success of the industry.

16 August – Learnt we have sold 235 books by the end of May 2017. (It was available from Veloce from the 26th of April in the UK. In the USA it was available from the 15th of June.)

17 August – Andrew Walmsly brings book for signature.

29 August – Message from Tom Smith, owner of the Lotus X100 prototype, in Texas, that the car is OK after the mighty storms.

2 September – Finalise arrangements to support Vintage Day (10th of September) in Wymondham.
Present at Ketts Books, have a demo copy, shop have a dropship arrangement. I agree to return two weeks later to sign any, if required.

6 September – Thursday. Visit Ketts Books as arranged, but the two gentlemen running the shop had no idea why I had visited! It was pre-arranged and I left a copy of my book as agreed. I wonder how well Sunday will go!

7 September – Wymondham Vintage Day has my attendance shown on it:

10 September – Arrive in Wymondham Market Square 12 Noon. Vintage Day programme does not advertise book signed, indeed bookshop barely mentioned. Get to Ketts Books, Whartons Court about 1:45pm for 2pm start. Shop says organisers have emailed an apology for lack of info. (I agreed to come and sign books in June.) A few people passed, but the shop is not on the main street. Two more books sold and Dave Cutting (ex-Lotus) came in for a chat. Plenty of classic cars around the town, but a very disappointing day for me.

12 September – Dick Salmon, ex-BRM & Lotus, emails to say he is enjoying my book. He is in his 90s and did a good book on BRM himself (see 21st of September). I travel to Newmarket to meet my sister and her financial advisor. He brings a copy of my book, which I gladly sign, despite him driving a Porsche!

13-19 September – Assist Modern Classic magazine with images for their forthcoming feature on the Lotus M90/X100.

17 September – Vintage Sports Car Club meeting at Snetterton. Go with Jane and Ivor, meet a couple of their friends – two more books sold.

19 September – Complete construction of 25-slide show to use with talks about my book to two Lotus clubs this autumn. Script notes well on the way!

21 September – Amazing coincidence in Veloce monthly newsletter On The Grid: Veloce have re-printed Dick Salmon's book BRM – A mechanic's tale, and a very good book it is too. Crumbs, it is over 40 years since we had pints together in the Wicklewood Cherry Tree.

Delighted to find this 'blog' is published on the Veloce website.

Two of my books arrive so that I can send them to friends in China.

24 September – Long-standing family friend brings a book for signature. It is a birthday present for her son, who had one week of Work Experience in my office over 20 years ago, whilst he was at school.

26 September – Check out Amazon UK website. Only 14 left (more on the way). There are five reviews, ALL FIVE STAR!

30 September – Good news that my presentation slides for a talk on the 9th of October have transferred for projection satisfactorily. All my notes are written, so that's ready to go!

It's great to see that the momentum is still there with the promotional run! And it doesn't stop there, as next month's instalment will see Oliver gearing up for the Christmas push... Buy your copy of A Life in Car Design here

Thursday 30 November 2017

Beaulieu Events 2018

Famous for its collection of veteran, vintage and historic cars, the National Motor Musuem has grown into a spectacular destination for days out. It's also the go-to place for autojumble,  its International Autojumble event winning Tourism South East's Beautiful South Award this year.

The UK's National Motor Museum, is sited on land that was once home to a medieval royal hunting lodge, adjacent to a 12th Century Cistercian Abbey. Set in the picturesque village of Beaulieu, in the heart of the beautiful New Forest National Park, it's a wonderful place to visit, year-round.

Well known amongst auto buffs, it has been a firm favourite for family days out since the 1970s, and today is bigger and more popular than ever. The museum recently released its 2018 events calendar, covering from May, all the way to November. It's a great destination for a family or a solo visit, so why not take a look at what's on offer, and pencil in a date in your diary for next year?

Further details coming soon!
2018 sees the 70th anniversary of the Morris Minor, and the Spring Autojumble will see the Morris Minor Owners' Club attending with its own display. Veloce will be celebrating the Minor's anniversary with Morris Minor – 70 years on the road, coming in April 2018. We'll be releasing more details about this timely book, hailing from Morris Minor authority Ray Newel, over the coming weeks.

If you're looking for some Summer fun, you could do no better than the Hot Rod & Custom Drive-In Day, complete with Vintage Village. Or, if you'd like a retro-themed Father's Day weekend trip, pop along to Simply VW.

Beaulieu National Motor Museum 2018 Events Calendar


April 8
Simply Aston Martin
Back for its third year, Aston Martin owners are invited to start Beaulieu’s events calendar and bring their prized motors for a celebration of the iconic marque, with vehicles of every age and model.

April 22
In its 41st year, search for boating bargains at the largest outdoor sale of maritime items in Europe. Browse hundreds of stands with boating spares, accessories, clothing, tools, as well as new and used boats.


May 6
Simply Ford
This event is one of the biggest and most popular simply rallies when we expect more than 1500 Fords to join the display in the grounds of the National Motor Museum, in the 50th anniversary year of the Ford Escort.

May 19-20
Spring Autojumble
Start the motoring calendar by buying, selling and swapping anything automotive at more than 1000 stands offering everything from automobilia to cars for sale. Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Morris Minor.

May 20
Land Rover Rummage at Spring Autojumble
A spares-sourcing opportunity, selling anything and everything related to Land Rovers as part of Spring Autojumble.


June 3
Simply Porsche
Last year a record 1,000 cars roared into the grounds for this event, which welcomes Porsche owners and enthusiasts to the National Motor Museum.

June 10
Mini Cooper Day
Beaulieu is the host venue for the 32nd annual National Mini Cooper Register Rally, attracting thousands of Minis of every age, marque and model to the heart of the New Forest.

June 16
Simply VW
As part of a celebratory weekend, Vee Dubs of every type are invited to join this great day out for Volkswagen fans and visitors. Don’t miss Vintage Village, which will be selling fashions, accessories and homeware.

June 17
Father’s Day
Hot Rod & Custom Drive-In Day
A celebration of colourful Custom, Hot-Rod and Classic American cars and bikes especially for Father’s Day. Featuring live entertainment and Vintage Village nostalgia and bargains.

June 24
Simply Land Rover
In the 70th anniversary year of the Land Rover, this celebration of the legendary 4x4 will attract Land Rovers and Range Rovers of every age, model and condition. Watch out for an extra feature to be announced soon.


July 8
Simply Jaguar
Returning for its third year, this impressive display of treasured machines will range from classics to the latest models.

July 29
Simply Japanese
More than 56 car clubs gathered amongst the 1500 vehicles at last year’s event, showcasing members’ cars from city runabouts to performance sports cars.


August 4-5
Beaulieu Supercar Weekend
A high octane two-day event celebrating the supercar and including iconic models and special feature displays in the stunning backdrop of the Beaulieu parkland.

August 12
VW T Fest
Beaulieu plays host to this family-friendly event which is back by popular demand.


September 1-2 TBC
International Autojumble
Beaulieu’s most famous event and the largest Autojumble this side of the Atlantic, with more than 2000 stands selling classic and vintage spares, plus full-size cars and Bonhams auction.


October 27
Fireworks Spectacular
One of the biggest fireworks displays in the south and choreographed to music, this popular event offers a range of family entertainment.


November 11
Simply Smart
This final rally in Beaulieu’s busy events calendar makes a colourful display of some of the smallest and most characterful cars on the road.

For more information on great days out, and all that Beaulieu has to offer, visit the website, or catch them on social media … you won't be disappointed!



Thursday 23 November 2017

Plenty of Porsche!

You know how much we love all things Porsche here at Veloce, so today's blog post is a bumper Porsche post, packed with plenty of news, books, and photos to keep you entertained!

First off, at the beginning of last month, members of Porsche Club Great Britain (PCGB) came together at the 2017 Porsche Charity Day, to help raise over £12500 for Chestnut Tree House, a children's hospice based in Sussex. Formed in 1961, PCGB is Europe's largest Porsche club, and organises a host of events throughout the year. 
Held at Goodwood on the 7th of October, the charity event was also supported by PARR Porsche and Vroomphoto, and coincided with the club's popular track day. Thirty-six cars took part in the main event, while 150 gathered for a lunchtime parade around the historic circuit. The combined efforts of the Porsche community, and the extra involvement of PCGB, helped to increase the total from 2016's benchmark of £8000.

"In 2012, when the three of us were sitting at Goodwood Circuit's Aero Club Café and came up with an idea for raising funds for Chestnut Tree Children's Hospice as a one-off event, we never dreamt it would evolve into the day it has." Said Porsche Enthusiasts Jonathan Trees, Tony Clinch and Andrew Wilson. "Each successive year has grown and has now raised over £37000 for the Children's Hospice. This would never have happened without the continued growing support from everyone involved, so a big thank you. We would also like to thank Parr Motorsport, Porsche Club GB and Vroomphoto who have so kindly donated their time and have helped make the event what it is today."

"Porsche Club GB is proud to have supported this year's event and offered sincere thanks to all those who were so generous with their donations," said PCBG general manager Chris Seaward. "We look forward to working with Jonathan, Tony, and Andrew in 2018 to build on the momentum of this year." 

It's always great to see people raising lots of money for charity whilst doing something they love!

Remember a few weeks back when we had Roy Smith join us at Veloce HQ to sign copies of his new book Powered by Porsche – the alternative race cars? Well, the good news is, you can now purchase your own signed copy! Just add that you would like a signed copy in the comments sections when you got though the checkout on our webstore, and we will supply you with a signed bookplate as part of your order.

Roy has also supplied us with this new image of one of the cars that features in Powered by Porsche – the alternative race cars.

Martin Ridehalgh, Keith Martin, and Roy Smith with the Dulon Porsche

The car is the Dulon Porsche, which features on pages 127 and 132 of the book. It dates from the 1970s, and is awaiting the return of its Porsche 906 engine that is currently in build at Autofarm. Martin Ridehalgh was the driver in period of the Dulon Porsche, and its current owner and driver is Keith Martin, well known in Historic circles for racing a Dulon in the Masters series. 

And as if Roy Smith's latest book isn't enough, another new Porsche book has recently been wheeled off the press: Porsche Boxster & Cayman. Written by prolific Porsche maven Brian Long, this book is the definitive history of the 987-series Boxster and Cayman lines. Covering all variants from 2004 to 2012, this tome is packed full of information and contemporary illustrations sourced from the factory, it is the perfect guide for enthusiasts, historians, and those looking for authenticity.

With Christmas just around the corner, either of these books would make an excellent gift for the Porsche fanatic in your life. And, if you fancy going that extra mile for that special someone in your life, you could do no better than Brian Long's in-depth look at the entire history of the air-cooled Porches – The Ultimate Book of the Air-cooled Porsche 911. Limited to just 911 (what else?) copies, this elegant – not to mention hefty – volume comes in its own slipcase; a truly special gift for that truly special person in your life! Available only from the Veloce website.

Friday 17 November 2017

Iconic TV car sells for a 'cushtie' amount!

This past weekend saw the NEC Classic Car Show take place, and, again, it was a raging success! Classic car fans and aficionados alike descended upon Birmingham to see the sights that this year's show had to offer. 

One of the highlights of the show, year-in and year-out, is the Silverstone Auctions' Classic Motor Show Sale. The auction sees a wide variety of items passing through, from motoring memorabilia to bikes, and watches to cars. Among this years lot an iconic piece of television history went under the hammer, and sold for an amount that its small-screen owners could have only dreamed of earning ...

I'm of course talking about Del Boy's 1968 Reliant Regal which starred in the highly popular BBC comedy 'Only Fools and Horses!' A star of the legendary series, the 1968 Reliant Regal van is easily one of the most recognisable and loved classic cars of the small screen, transporting Del Boy and Rodney on their many riotous adventures in the smash-hit comedy.

'BWC 94F' was used in the 2002 Christmas Special, 'If They Could See Us Now,' and also featured in the BBC DVD 'The Story of Only Fools and Horses' as well as in several issues of the fanzine "Hookie Street".

"Del Boy's Reliant Regal is one of the most distinctive cars of BBC comedy history! Only Fools and Horses has a fan base spanning several generations and is something of a British treasure, so to have the van from the series up for auction is a real treat which will no doubt draw the crowds, " explains Nick Whale, managing director of Silverstone Auctions.

Today the van appears exactly as it did on screen, complete with tiger print plush interior and 'Trotters Independent Trading Co' decals. Accessories including a 'Tax in Post' window notice, nodding tiger, roof rack with suitcase, set of furry dice, personalised rubber foot mats, and a set of blow-up plastic dolls. With a reconditioned engine, a full synchromesh gearbox, a remote control key start, a DVD player and cassette radio, and even a smoke machine which emits smoke from the exhaust.

"Disregarding its TV provenance, it's probably the most reliable example of this 'marque' that you will find and has even participated in the London to Brighton rally in 2001 and 2004," concludes Nick. 

With 71778 miles recorded, the van was supplied with its original owners handbook, an MOT until 9th June 2018, and letters in the history file from the BBC which confirm its authenticity. 

The Reliant Regal was part of Sunday's sale, and enthusiastic bidding pushed the price to an incredible £41625, drawing gasps and applause. An amazing amount of money, but worth it when you consider the car's history and relevance to pop culture.  

Although you may not be able to get your hands on this iconic car now, if you fancy restoring your own, then we have just the book for you! How to restore Reliant Regal offers a guide in how to find a suitable Reliant Regal for restoration. It then gives a fully illustrated step-by-step guide on how to dismantle the car, and fully restore the body, chassis, electrics and engine back to showroom condition! 

Thursday 16 November 2017

What goes around …

Whether through its practical cars and SUVs, or the evergreen MX-5, Mazda is a pretty familiar marque to most road users. Many of you will also be aware of its rich motorsport history, too, being particularly famed for its use of Wankel rotary engines, both in its road- and track-going cars – and, of course, for winning the 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours with its rotary-engined 787B.

Mazda's rotary engines have always had a reputation for compact power (and a bit of a thirst), and have been used in a number of different models, going back to 1967. The RX-8 of 2012 was the last consumer vehicle to be powered by one of its super-smooth rotary engines.

Of course, concept cars rarely make it to the road as-is – if at all – but a peek at the specs are quite promising … and, to top it all, Mazda filed a patent in early 2016, for a direct-injection, turbocharged, rotary unit, which could top the 400hp mark … surely more than 'generator' spec?

Recently, Automotive News reported that Mazda is once again developing a rotary engine, and it could make it into production cars as soon as 2019. Actually, Mazda never stopped working on its rotary engines, it just scaled back development. So, will we start to see these high-revving units back on the roads? Well … sort of …

Most of the big automotive developments, these days, centre around new powertrain tech, so it’s probably no surprise that Mazda are investigating using rotary engines as generators for hybrid EVs. Mazda has form here, with its battery-powered 2013 Mazda2 concept car, which used a tiny 330cc rotary as a generator.

EVs and hybrid market share is increasing all the time, and will soon outstrip sales of traditional internal combustion (IC) engine cars, but, whilst they’ve come-on in leaps and bounds over the last few years, current electrical storage capacities are only just getting close to providing the range available from even modest IC engines – at least, not in a manner that most mortals can afford.

Because of this, ’range-extending’ is the name of the game for EV and hybrid vehicles, and this is where a Mazda rotary can help. Having a small-capacity, light, and – compared to a traditional reciprocating engine – simple rotary, generating power for electric motors, means longer ranges, fewer emissions, and, hopefully, cheaper vehicles.

So, whilst we haven’t seen the end of Mazda’s rotary offerings just yet, they won’t be returning in quite the same guise as before. But, there is still a glimmer of hope for such a vehicle. The Tokyo Motor Show concept RX-Vision, shown in 2015, teased a possible return for the rotary engine that could actually make it into production, and even compete favourably with such cars as the Alfa Romeo 4C, Jaguar F-Type, or Porsche Cayman. 

So, whilst we’ll likely see rotary engines make an appearance in Mazdas relatively soon, it may be a little longer before we see a Porsche-bothering rotary powered Mazda on the roads … but keep yours eyes and ears open … Mazda are still working on it …

If you’re a Mazda maven, or a rotary votary, we’ve a fine selection of books to whet your appetite …

From Brian Long, comes RX-7 – Mazda’s Rotary Engine Sports Car. This is a new edition of the definitive international history of Mazda’s extraordinarily successful Wankel-engined coupés and roadsters. It covers every RX-7, up to the end of production and introduction of the RX-8, and is packed with advice on buying your own RX-7, plus coverage of the RX-7 in motorsport, and production figures – not to mention plenty of colour photos, including advertising and sales literature. Japanese Performance had this to say: 

"Lavishly illustrated with 425 photographs, Brian Long’s definitive history of the RX-7 provides an in-depth insight into this mega Mazda. A ‘must have’ tome to grace the coffee table of any Japanese sports car enthusiast."

SKU: V5133 Format: Paperback Spec: 25x20.7cm • £32.50 • 216 pages • 425 colour and b&w pictures ISBN: 978-1-787111-33-2 UPC: 6-36847-01133-8 More info…

Marc Cranswick's Mazda Rotary-engined Cars – From Cosmo 110S to RX-8 is a complete history of Mazda’s rotary-engined vehicles, charting the challenges, sporting triumphs, and critical reactions to a new wave of sports sedans, wagons, sports cars ... oh, and trucks. As Evo magazine says: 

"A valuable asset to anyone who considers themselves a fan of either rotary engines or Mazda as a brand."
SKU: V4943 Format: Hardback Spec: 25x20.7cm • £40 • 192 pages • 233 colour pictures ISBN: 978-1-845849-43-6 UPC: 6-36847-04943-0

And finally, our very own Drive Guide Guru, Julian Parish, is no stranger to rotary engines, having extensive ownership experience of an RX-8. He has put his real-world experience and knowledge into Mazda RX-8 – All models 2003 to 2012, The Essential Buyer's Guideso if you're looking to buy an RX-8, either a first gen or second gen, including the R3, you'd be crazy not to read this first. Practical Classics' opinion: 

"Gives you expert advice, essential if you’re considering taking the plunge."

SKU: V4867 Format: Paperback Spec: 19.5x13.9cm • £12.99 • 64 pages • 100 pictures ISBN: 978-1-845848-67-5 UPC: 6-36847-04867-9


Thursday 9 November 2017

A Great Way to Close 2017's London Motor Week

Last week we told you that the theme of this year's Regent Street Motor Show was Route 66, and despite a damp start to the day, this year's show was very popular. Once again, the capital's premier shopping destination was transformed into the country's biggest free-to-view motor show. 

The famed street was closed to through traffic for the first Saturday in November and the road was filled with a glittering collection from the past, the present and the future. In addition to Enjoy Illinois' stand promoting the Mother Road, the penultimate event of London Motor Week featured close to 200 vehicles from the days of the horseless carriage, through the classic years right up to the battery and hydrogen-powered cars we will all be driving in the future.

Taking centre stage at the Show, though, were around 100 pioneers dating back to the dawn of motoring – all built before 1905. Among those judging the evocative veteran machines this year was renowned gardener and classic car enthusiast Alan Titchmarsh. After much deliberation, the panel of experts awarded the Overall Winner's trophy to the extraordinary dark green 4-cylinder Darracq owned by Malcolm Ginns.

The French car has a remarkable history, having been entered into the ill-fated Paris to Madrid 'race of death' in 1903. More than two million spectators came to watch along the road to Bordeaux, where this notorious race was officially halted as there had been so many fatal accidents en route – the largest toll of dead and injured persons in motor sport, including the death of Marcel Renault. Along with a number of other entrants, the Darracq's owner, Albert Arvengas went on to Madrid. The car remained in the Arvengas family until the 1970s and to this day still carries its original rear-entrance, tonneau body with five seats.

Further up Regent Street, and bringing the motoring story up to date, were displays of modern cars and bikes from companies including Renault and Triumph. Not content with the present, Go Ultra Low was looking to the future by offering drives in a wide range of contemporary battery-powered electric vehicles and plug-in petrol-electric hybrids from manufacturers including BMW, Renault, VW, Toyota, Kia, and Hyundai. Experts were also on hand to offer advice to anyone considering a zero or low emission and hybrid car as their next purchase. Visitors were also offered a short 'taster' test drive,  allowing them to sample the next generation of environmentally friendly transport.

For those with a need for speed, other displays on Regent Street included a preview of the biggest classic motor sport event on the calendar – the Silverstone Classic. It's stand not only included a huge screen broadcasting highlights from last summer's record-breaking event, but also three of the stand-out racers that will be in action next July. 

Motoring's classic years, meanwhile, were represented by Fiat 500 Club celebrating the 60th birthday of Italy's iconic city car with a colourful collection of original superminis including a rare Giardiniera and 500 Saloon. Closer to Piccadilly Circus, another very special display paid homage to London-built Talbots from the twenties and thirties. 

As is tradition, to mark the end of London Motor Week, the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run took place on Sunday. More than 400 pioneering veteran cars, their drivers and passengers gathered in Hyde Park waiting for daybreak to signal the start of the annual Run. Acknowledged as the longest running motoring event in the world, it was fitting that the sun rose in a blue sky as participants headed off for a nostalgic drive to the Sussex coast. One of the cars participating was the famous Genevieve, from the film of the same name. Genevieve, now owned by the Louwman Museum, is a regular and popular participant in the Run.

It's Genevieve!

This years Run featured the largest entry in recent years; staged, as it has been since 1930, by the Royal Automobile Club. Although a number of cars were diverted following a road traffic accident involving one of the participants vehicles, 315 of the 401 starters made it to Brighton to claim a coveted finishers' medal. 

In recent years the Chopard Regularity Trial has introduced an additional interesting element to the Run. This year's winner was Robert Abrey, driving a 1899 Daimler, who was awarded with a Chopard Millie Miglia Chronograph worth £4950.

This year's Veteran Car Run marked 121 years since the original Emancipation Run, which was held in 1896 to celebrate the Locomotive on the Highway Act. This raised the speed limit for 'light locomotives' from 4mph to 14mph and abolished the need for a man to walk ahead waving a red flag. First commemorated in 1897 with a re-enactment following the same route in 1927, the event has taken place every November since, apart form the war years and 1947 when petrol was rationed.

For more information on the Regent Street Motor Show and the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, check out there respective websites. 

Thursday 2 November 2017

Get your kicks, on Regent Street!

The Regent Street Motor Show returns this Saturday, but with a State side twist … With that in mind, and with my own personal interest in the Mother Road, today's blog post will take you into this iconic piece of American history,  whilst also giving you all you need to know about this weekend's London event!

Connecting Chicago to Los Angles, Route 66 is known to many as the Main Street of America, as it was one of the primary routes across the country, with as many as 210,000 people travelling it to migrate to California during the Great Depression. 

Though most of the old Route 66 has been bypassed by the various Interstates, much of the 300 miles that stretch across the 'Prairie State' still remains untouched from its heyday. Famous for quirky roadside attractions, many in Illinois, Route 66 is home to such curiosities as Wilmington's Gemini Giant, outside the soon-be-renovated Launching Pad diner; the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum located in Pontiac; and part of the old, original, historic brick road, which can still be found – and driven on – in Springfield. 

Illinois is where Route 66 begins, and as it is the presenting partner to this year's Regent Street Motor Show, the state, and its iconic Route 66 elements, will be showcased in the UK's capital. Director of Illinois' Office of Tourism, Cory Jobe, says, "This partnership is a prime opportunity for our team to highlight in a meaningful way all the Route 66 Americana flair that our international visitors travel to experience." Nick Wigley, CEO of Goose Live Events, the organisers of the show, adds, "We are delighted to welcome Route 66 to London: two iconic roads linked by a rock 'n' roll classic!"

The Regent Street Motor Show is a unique, free-to-view event that takes place as part of the larger London Motor week, run by the Royal Automobile Club." Since its inaugural show in 2005, it has grown in popularity over the years, and has even featured the famous Genevieve last year!

It is a hope to many that the historic Route 66 can be kept alive for many generations to come, and bringing some of this across the pond to us here in the UK is a sure-fire way to not only assist in the preservation of this classic piece of motoring history, but to also introduce it to a whole new audience. 

This certainly sounds like an exciting day, so, if you are near the capital on the 4th of November, and fancy a nice, free, family day out, why not go and get your kicks on the A4201! –Siân