Tuesday 8 December 2020

Kawasaki H2 Love by Phil Green

Today, we're handing over duty to guest blogger Phil Green. To say Phil is a petrolhead is a bit of an understatement. From articles delving into the issues of Spitfire carburation (the fighter plane, not the car), to a full Stag restoration (yes, the car), and a smattering of restored motorcycles, Phil's love of things with wheels and engines is obvious.

In this post, Phil takes us through some of his 'adventures' in motorcycle restoration. Whether you're considering a restoration of your own, a classic bike lover, or simply on your coffee break, grab your cup, put your feet up, and read on …


It was a key step almost always undertaken by people of my generation when buying a secondhand car or motorcycle ... purchasing The Workshop Manual. Automatically following the act of acquiring a new vehicle came the primeval urge to understand how it worked … and therefore how to fix it!

The one and only time I ever departed from this sacred routine was back in the early 1980s when, quite incredibly, I purchased a Workshop Manual for a motorcycle that I had never even seen due to its rarity in the UK, and actually had no plans to buy at the time. I'd never seen this manual on sale before, but such was my fascination with Japanese two strokes, I went ahead and splashed out on a manual for a vehicle I did not have. The manual was for a Kawasaki H2 750 Mach IV. 

My background is engineering and, as I progressed up the managerial ladder, I spent more and more of my time pushing around paperwork, rather than engineering, and problem-solving, which was a cause of much frustration to me. Purchasing a house in 1999 with a tandem garage was the turning point, and a 1971 Triumph Stag restoration was my saviour in subsequent years. A few years ago, I had the Stag on the road (come on, they are never really finished), and my thoughts turned to other possible projects.

I have always been a two stroke freak, and grew up on Yamaha parallel twins, but the large Japanese two stroke triple models were out of production when I passed my driving licence, and seemed unattainable for some reason at the time even though the secondhand option was a possibility.

As the Stag continued to consume less and less of my time, I began toying with the idea of returning to my first love, and decided I should look around for a project bike to restore. Engine capacity had to be as big as possible and definitely a two stroke from the 70s. The ideal candidate appeared to be a Suzuki GT750, or ‘kettle’ as they are affectionately known in the UK. I began researching and scanning advertisements of bikes for sale, and was shocked by the prices these 40-year-old-plus bikes were commanding. It would appear that prices were being driven up by demand from my generation attempting to relive their youth, or (as in my case) owning a machine they could only dream of when younger.

In actual fact, there were two candidate models I had in mind for a new project: either a Suzuki GT750 or a Kawasaki 750 H2, although I felt it very unlikely that I would locate the latter model as relatively few had been imported into the UK back in the 1970s. In fact, even though I had the Workshop Manual tucked away somewhere in my attic, I could not remember ever having seen or touching such a bike, even at the numerous shows and race meets I attended back in the day.

I generated several automated searches online, but the demand for these bikes and the prices paid for them were severe obstacles. I did not want a finished bike. It was essential it was a restoration project as I get such enjoyment from doing the work myself. I had done everything I could on the Stag, even spraying the bodywork in a single-width garage, and I can honestly say it was, well, let’s call it 'character-building,' though I would not have missed every torturous step forward, and occasional step backward, for the world.

Frustratingly, my search continued for several years without success, during which I became aware that many project bikes were actually being imported from the USA where they existed in much larger number than in the UK. Ideally, I wanted a bike that was complete rather than a box of bits. I always felt it was safer to buy a complete bike and take it apart to check that all the parts are present, and there are no difficult-to-source items missing.

After a few agonising near misses with GT750s and one H2, I did manage to finally source a 1976 Suzuki GT750A in January 2020, much to my delight. Incredibly, I found it on eBay, which is hideously competitive, but the stars were aligned that day and I barely hesitated before pressing the ‘Buy It Now’ button. The bike was an unrestored Canadian import that clearly had not run for some time, but would turn over with compression, and appeared complete, apart from lack of an airbox.

The bike came with a NOVA (Notification of Vehicle Arrival) which I have since learnt is essential when importing a vehicle in terms of possible tax liability, but no original ownership documents. This caused a slight problem when I tried to register the bike with the DVLA, but, a quick phone call later, the department was happy with the bike’s history and the dating certificate I had sourced from the VJMC (Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club), and I was promptly issued a V5. Okay, the first logbook issued was for a Kia 750 (?) which was swiftly corrected, but I did find the whole experience relatively straightforward. I needed a dating certificate for the bike from the VJMC in order to ensure that I received an age-relevant number plate, which would classify the bike as an historic vehicle and therefore free from road tax (and MOT, as it transpires).

Transporting the Suzy through my house to the garage was an experience I do not think my son and I will ever forget (the outside route was not possible because of a 90 degree passageway and single doorway into my garden). Even though I had checked the dimensions of the Suzy, it felt huge when trying to push it up the steps and through my front door. To this day, I am not clear how the handlebars went through the front doorway. I sat astride the bike whilst my son pushed and, suddenly, we were inside! We then transited the living and dining rooms before exiting into the rear garden via French doors. The lack of a working front brake added to the ‘excitement’ going down the garden steps to my small shed where the bike was stored.

So, I had bagged the Suzuki! But I needed to sort out the garage access and better storage. During the first lockdown, I managed to get another set of French doors installed between my workshop and garden, and also removed a wall, allowing a motorcycle to be wheeled straight through from garden storage to the front of the house. Even though Suzy was temporarily in a very small, shed, I did start the restoration process. In all honesty, it kept me sane during the spring/summer lockdown as, unexpectedly, I had to survive lockdown alone! 

I began to consider longer term storage for Suzy whilst she was being restored, and when she was on the road again (hopefully, next spring). As I began to ponder the ideal dimensions of a new workshop/storage shed in my garden, a germ of an idea began to form … why stop at one bike … why not size the storage for at least two?

Many friends and family were shocked when the Suzuki arrived, but a few long-term friends were not surprised at all as they knew my history. A couple of them knew of my fascination with the H2, but even they were completely unprepared by what I did  next ...

Unbeknown to most, I had retained my H2 online searches, just in case. Over and over again, I saw completed, highly-priced bikes for sale, but very few project bikes. I got close once when I became aware of an H2 for sale on the south coast that had yet to be advertised. Ahead of the pack for once! But photos supplied by the seller confirmed that the frame had been cut to make a café racer which for me, was a big no-no. I wanted originality of nothing.

And so it went on, with none of my friends really aware of just how serious I was about adding an H2 to the Suzuki. Yes, some knew I still pined for an H2, and sent me links to various relevant photos and videos online, but none realised just what was going on in my head. I had decided to give up on the UK and search overseas, but initial attempts to find an overseas agent were fruitless. Whichever way I looked at it, trying to buy a bike overseas without seeing it, from someone I did not know, and having it shipped to the UK was a huge risk not to be undertaken lightly.

Things suddenly fell into place in June 2020 when a message and photo appeared in a Kawasaki Triple Forum on Facebook. The message read “Anybody fancy a project bike?” and the photo showed two H2s in various states of disassembly on the back of a trailer in New York State, USA. I quickly took the plunge and responded that I was interested, following up with a personal message explaining my desire to find a suitable H2 project.

To his great credit, the seller contacted me again in July to give me first option on one of the two project H2s he had available.There followed several weeks of photos and email exchanges where I questioned everything I could think of. I studied the photos very closely, and I mean VERY closely, blowing them up on the biggest screen I could.

Phil Green and his Kawasaki H2

To cut a long story short, in July I thought 'what the hell!' and agreed to buy the bike. In the meantime, I had realised that the seller was President of the Kawasaki Triple Club, and a renowned expert on all things relating to Kawasaki triples. Even though I did not know him before the transaction, I always felt that he was being very straight with me with everything I asked. But I did  take a big swallow before sending over a deposit – for a bike I had never seen, to a guy I had never met, who lived overseas ...

The purchase price included shipping to the UK, delivery to my home address, and arranging the NOVA and V5. Following payment of the deposit, I tried to relax, but could not help occasionally firing off emails requesting updates. The bike took a long road trip from Michigan to Wisconsin, where it was placed in its container for the journey overseas to the UK.

While all this was going I told absolutely no one at all about what I'd done … well, apart from one friend in Australia and also, strangely Jude at Veloce. Jude had asked why I was purchasing The Kawasaki Triples Bible from Veloce when I did not have a Kawasaki triple … and so I confessed, swearing her to secrecy, but I kept all my other friends and family very much in the dark. Perhaps I was worried it would all go horribly wrong and I would be left with egg on my face.

Come October, I received a phone call from a number I did not recognise, interrupting a work Skype meeting. For some reason I answered the call, even though I did not recognise the number. It was a motorcycle transportation company, advising me that it had an H2 to deliver to me!

And so, on October 13, 2020, I became the proud owner of a 1972 Kawasaki 750 H2 project bike ... boy, did I shock a few people when they finally found out. Would I have done this crazy thing if it hadn’t been for the weirdness of lockdown? Who knows …?

The H2 now sits in my new storage shed patiently awaiting my attention. She will have to wait until after the Suzy is completed, though. 

In the meantime, just where is that Workshop Manual I purchased back in 1980 …?

The Kawasaki H2  
If you'd like to share your stories of restoration successes – or nightmares – or if you've written a post on a subject you think would make for a good guest spot on our blog, email us with your ideas and we'll take a look!

As you might expect, given that our first books were workshop manuals, we have a great selection for anyone working on their own resto project, from two wheels, to four … even three!

With over 80 to choose from we can't list them all here, so click this link …


… and you can see all our workshop manuals – everything from busses and bikes, to scooters and Reliant Regals! 

Thursday 26 November 2020

Jamie Chadwick joins Extreme E with Veloce Racing

Jamie Chadwick is joining Team Veloce for the inaugural season of Extreme E beginning next March, as one of 20 drivers competing in this brand new off-road all-electric SUV series … yep; you read it right!

Extreme E is a new motorsport series, created with climate awareness and eco principles built-in from the ground-up (no pun intended), and promises to offer something truly unique in the world or motorsport. Founded by Spanish businessman and ex-politician, Alejandro Agag, the series already has some big names on-board; Lucas di Grassi (former Formula E champ), Andre Lotterer (three-times Le Mans champ), and Katherine Legge, (seasoned Formula E, IndyCar/ChampCar, and DTM racer), to name a few. And then there’s team X44, founded by a certain Lewis Hamilton … hmm … name sounds familiar …

Alejandro Agag

Jamie is racing for the Veloce Racing team (fantastic name, but we are biased … and no relation, sadly) which was founded by none-other than Adrian Newey and Jean Eric-Vergne. Currently, two other female racers are confirmed; the UK’s Catie Munnings and Sara Price from the US.

The series aims to provide a fantastic spectacle, and one that could, perhaps, be a little more relatable for many people, than some race series. All-electric SUVs help not only to reduce fossil fuel use, but also create a filter-down effect for technology, much as other formulas have led to improvements in consumer vehicles. Using SUVs presents viewers with a more familiar vehicle than the extreme tech of F1 and Formula E, and could help bring a broader range of viewers to the sport. With SUVs being the biggest selling, and biggest growing auto market, bringing down its eco footprint could have a big effect on reducing fossil fuel use.

NOT your typical SUV.

As well as utilising all-electric SUVs, the series consulted experts in the fields of ecology and environmental science to ensure that it has minimal environmental impact. There will even be a team of scientists travelling with the race teams, investigating the effects of climate change in each location.

Further lessening the eco burden, people and equipment will be ferried to each region in RMS St Helena, an ex-Royal Navy cargo vessel modified to act as a floating paddock. And as if that wasn’t enough, the series is drawing up plans to leave lasting legacies in the areas it visits, with tree-planting, clean-up operations, and renewable energy initiatives.

RMS St Helena, Extreme E transport vessel

Perhaps the most unusual aspect of Extreme E – certainly for traditional motorsports fans – is that there will be no track-side spectators. Instead, the entire series will be broadcast on TV and streamed online, with filming carried out by drones.  For viewers, the spectacle promises to be a feast for the eyes. If the trick shots and flyovers made possible by drone cams aren’t exciting enough, each race location will offer a very different environment for racing – from steamy rainforests, and frozen glaciers, to arid deserts, each being a 'poster child' for the effects of global heating and ecological damage.

Last year, Jamie showed her mettle by taking the championship crown in the female-only W Series. Sadly, the Covid pandemic brought a halt to this year’s W Series action, but it’s due back on track in 2021. Extreme E announced in April that there would be an equal number of male and female drivers, making it a rare opportunity to race against the opposite sex; as Jamie told BBC Sport:

"It's huge. It's amazing what Extreme E have done with the format they have chosen. It’s exciting for me because it gives me this opportunity - it's the same for everyone, 100% fair.

"It's such a male-dominated sport. There are so few females, that you have to take that responsibility [of being a female role model]. But I'm always just focused on doing the best job I can possibly do."

Jamie’s involvement in the sport has also had a knock-on effect on her own awareness of ecological issues, already making a positive impact on her own actions:

"I've definitely been made more aware of climate issues, with a lot of stats and things I wasn't aware of before. I try to do everything I can to help in my own life, such as scootering everywhere."

Jamie’s journey hasn’t always been smooth running, but with a W Series championship under her belt, Extreme E on the horizon, momentum continues to gather for Jamie, and with eight W Series races supporting the 2021 F1 season, the opportunity to add vital points to her Superlicence is just around the corner. Heaven knows it’s about time we saw a female racing driver in F1 again; the last to race was Lella Lombardi, in 1976.

We’d like to wish Jamie – and the brilliantly named Veloce Racing – the best of luck in the inaugural Extreme E season. We’ll be watching and cheering come March 2021 – and as they say on social #VivaVeloce !

Find out more about Extreme E and Jamie’s latest challenge, on the BBC at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/motorsport/55061262

Visit Jamie’s site http://jamiechadwickracing.com for all the latest news from Jamie, and the Veloce Racing site https://www.veloce-racing.com

Find out the what, when, and how of Extreme E at https://www.extreme-e.com

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Farewell to a life in car design

Oliver Winterbottom, with his 1966 Concorso Grifo d’Oro Bertone award-winning model.
(Courtesy Malcolm Griffiths/Classic & Sports Car)

It with much sadness that we announce that Veloce author, automotive designer, and dear friend of Veloce Publishing, Oliver Winterbottom, passed away on Friday 6th October, aged 76.

Oliver spent his entire career designing cars, and a short period designing boats. Beginning his working life as an engineering apprentice at Jaguar Cars, he later spent five years there as a staff designer. 

Model and drawings on display in
Turin for the Bertone competition in 1966.

In 1971, Oliver joined Lotus Cars as Design Manager, where he was responsible for styling, body engineering, and aerodynamics. His designs have come to symbolise an entire era of auto design, defined by the classic 'wedge' shape styling. In 1975, he transferred from Lotus to Colin Chapman’s luxury boat company.

A short period of self employment, and the start of the TVR Tasmin range of sports cars, saw him joining the company through to the launch of the Tasmin Convertible and 2 +2. In 1980 he returned to Lotus to lead the joint Lotus/Toyota sports car project, completing a running prototype vehicle.

Oliver, with the JCL Mamba, a design
he created in 1976.

After a stint working in the US as Project Manager for General Motors, he returned to the UK and rejoined Lotus, holding a number of senior management positions in engineering and vehicle safety. He resigned in 1998 to set up a consultancy, where he worked until his retirement in 2009. 

Oliver always maintained a 'hands-on' approach throughout his career, both to the design and to the development of a wide range of products. Besides vehicle design, he had interests in architectural design, boats, and civil engineering. He loved Italian coachwork from the 1950’s to the present, regretting the decline of the traditional design houses. 

Colin Spooner, Roger Putnam, Mike Kimberley, Colin Chapman
and Oliver Winterbottom inspect a full-size coupé model.

Oliver's work took him all over the world – France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Sweden, USA, Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Brazil and Russia. He always enjoyed travel, and took an interest in the history and geography of the regions he visited, to get a better understanding of the places and the people there.

Since our first meeting Oliver in 2016, for preliminary work on A Life in Car Design, Oliver has been a warm friend to all at Veloce. Instrumental in helping publicise and promote his book, many of Oliver’s efforts in this area are recounted in a series of posts on the Veloce blog, called Oliver Winterbottom’s Diaries. Recounting his travels to shows and auto events across the UK and beyond, his diary included everything from funny stories and anecdotes, to meetings with friends, old and new, and commentary on many current events, technologies, and happenings that came to his broad attention.

Oliver gave frequent talks, and was a regular at car shows up and down the country.
Here Oliver is interview for local radio at the Hinckley Classic Show, 2018. 

Oliver gained genuine pleasure from meeting and chatting with anyone interested in cars, design, boats, and much more besides, whether they be industry insider, or a private individual, and his passion for such things never dwindled, as is evident from his blog diaries. He was particularly keen on passing on his knowledge and an enthusiasm for creative work to younger generations, and often gave talks and presentations for car clubs and organisations. You can hear Oliver discussing his thoughts on this, and more, in our 2017 interview, below.

Whether retelling his experiences from his decades in the auto industry, to hearing his funny stories – and, of course, his recommendations for good Inns and Pubs to eat and drink around the country (and where to avoid) – Oliver was always a engaging, always entertaining, and always a gentleman; he will be sorely missed by all at Veloce Publishing.

We would like to extend our condolences to Oliver’s family.

Oliver Winterbottom

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Our new press release archive

While most of our readers will be familiar with our website and online store, there are some aspects of our site that many may be unaware of, unless a trade customer, dropshipper, or media worker. Once such area is press releases, which have just received a major overhaul.

Press releases are the publicity life blood for most publishers, and we have kept and maintained an archive covering seven years of Veloce and Hubble & Hattie press releases, stretching back to 2013. Our press releases have been popular with trade and media partners, but are not so well known to our customers, newer partners and dropshippers. 

Timed to coincide with a book's release, or with a newsworthy story, releases are invaluable in letting the world know about our latest books and news. To give easy access to our releases, old and new, and for trade partners and customers alike, we have corralled two years of releases together, in one place, on our website.

Covering 2020 to-date, and the whole of 2019, each press release includes assets such as images and text files – perfect for trade partners publicising our books, and super fans wanting to know more. Now anyone can access the information that press and media bodies see, direct from our website.

You can find our press release pages under More at veloce.co.uk, or you can view via our dedicated subdomain at https//media.veloce.co.uk.

All the releases are arranged by date, with year and month index pages, and each includes the following downloadable assets:

  • A high resolution cover image in JPG format
  • A plain-text file containing the full press release text
  • A ZIP press pack, comprising of a number of press pics, plus the cover and text files mentioned above

In addition, a link to each book’s product page is included, pointing to Veloce or Hubble & Hattie websites, where relevant.

We will be adding new press releases to the site as they appear, and we hope to add releases from our extensive archive, as we are able: we still receive requests for information on many books in our back catalogue, even for those that have been out of print for some time.

We hope these pages will be especially useful to our trade and media partners – don’t forget that you can use any information from our website product pages, as well as our from press release pages, so long as it is specifically to help publicise, market, or review our books. 

As mentioned above, we have made available 2019 and 2020 press releases online, to start with. We aim to add pre-2019 titles as we are able (sometimes, there's just not enough hours in the day), but, in the meantime, if you would like press releases or assets for one of our pre-2019 titles, please do email us, and we will see if we have something for you.

Also, before a book is in print, we are often required to make a wide range assets for internal, social, and marketing purposes, many of which can be made available upon request, and can include product mockups, spreads, and themed graphics. 

Of course, not all books have such assets, but we may have something for a particular book that suits your needs. So, if you’re advertising, marketing, or reviewing one of our books, head over to our press release pages, and product pages, to see what’s available; you’re welcome to contact us if you have a specific query about a book, or what assets are available.

Click here to visit our new press release archive.

Friday 16 October 2020

The Cars of Eddie Van Halen

October saw the loss of an icon of rock music, and an inspiration to generations of guitar players. Eddie Van Halen passed away at age 65. Eddie Van Halen burst onto the music scene in 1978, with the eponymous album Van Halen. The group was formed in 1972, by Eddie and brother Alex, and continued with varying lineups – including with son, Wolgang – until the present day.

As someone who grew up listening to Van Halen, learning riffs and songs that I still play today (albeit at a fraction of the volume and with a fraction of the talent), I can vouch for the huge effect he had on music, then and now. I may have been a little late to the Van Halen party, but I can still remember the first time I heard the blistering guitar tones: a modded Strat, rewound PAF pickups blasting through a Marshal Plexiglass powered by a Variac (yeah – I’m a guitar nerd). 

Eddie's iconic home-made 'Frankenstrat.'

That sound was to become Van Halen’s trademark 'brown sound,' and partnered to his fluid two-handed playing style, became the defining tone for a generation of guitarists. The song was Mean Street, and the album was Van Halen’s fourth, Fair Warning; it was a hair-raising 'eureka' moment for millions of wannabe Guitar Gods the world over. At that moment, I knew that I was going to be Van Halen one day. Of course, without the skills or ability, that dream never materialised (although I do play an authentic Drop Dead Legs).

Whilst the guitarists among you will be familiar with Eddie’s techniques, tones, and guitars, you may not be so familiar with his love of cars. Along with his fellow bandmates, Eddie loved high-speed driving, almost as much as he loved high-gain playing. His extensive collection changed much over the years, working through a selection of Lamborghinis and Ferraris, to what was to become his last favourite (more on that later). Today, we pay tribute to one of the most influential guitarists of all time, in a manner befitting Veloce – with a look at some of his stunning car collection.

Eddie's 'Van Hauler' C1500 pickup. (Courtesy Hemmings.com)

Possibly one of Eddie’s most well known cars, is this custom Chevrolet C1500 pickup – or Van Hauler. Despite a fairly understated appearance, this beast was built by Hot Rods by Boyd and designed by none other than Chip Foose

Sporting subtle Frankenstrat inspired paint, with mods including a rear rollpan, and billet grille, it also sported a not-so-subtle 6.2-litre V8 LT1 engine swap, and independent rear suspension from a Corvette. The truck fell into disrepair, but was restored by Hot Rods by Boyd in 2009, and was auctioned in 2010. A second truck with a more extensive paint job was built for Sport Truck magazine, as a giveaway car.

Staying with trucks, Jim Bassett’s Bones Fab Hot Rod and Muscle Car shop built and maintained the gorgeous Dodge COE, above. Already modified when purchased, coming with a 6.9-litre diesel and four-speed manual transmission, it was further 'improved' with a 7.3-litre turbo diesel, ZF five-speed 'box, and overdrive. 

EVH’s collection features a number of cars by Bones Fab, and the next example is a fine 1970 Chevrolet Nova. As with most things EVH, the car is modded, featuring a 454 LSX motor, good for 650hp, completely revised rear suspension and brakes, and carbon fibre bonnet and boot. It also looks pretty fine in the Cali sunshine in Tang Yellow Orange paint.

1970 Chevrolet Nova …

… looks good from EVERY angle.

Chevrolet features predominantly in Eddie’s collection, with a 1957 Chevy Nomad, perhaps one of his more 'sedate' cars. It is, though, a beautiful example of period styling, stock air and power steering, and V8 power. Stock and steady it may be, but it still fetched a staggering $930,000 at Barret-Jackson’s 2009 Scottsdale auction. A Chevy with 'a little more gain' than the Nomad, was Eddie’s 1955 210, a 408cu-in small-block shoebox Chevy, which Eddie kept until 2016.  

Edie's Nomad. (Courtesy Barret-Jackson)

1955 210. (Courtesy Mecum Auctions)

When he wasn’t getting his adrenaline rush on stage, Eddie loved to race on track. He was known to push his cars as hard as his guitars and amps, and the latest car to become his favourite was an eminently pushable Porsche 911 GT3 RS. 

Sporting '5150' plates (the name of his recording studio, and 1986 album), when asked about the car by Car and Driver magazine, he said;

For one, it’s just so light. But really, it’s the handling. I don’t know how Porsche did it. We raced in the rain at Buttonwillow, which is my favorite track. We raced in the fucking rain and we never lost it, never spun out. BBI [Autosport] did my suspension. I set it up so you can feel it go and you can actually slide the damn car. It’s the first time ever I’ve been able to four-wheel-drift a Porsche. Every other Porsche I’ve ever had, I’ve spun them all. Well, every 911, anyway.

To borrow from Spinal Tap, Eddie liked to turned things up to 11, in stereo, so what better than a pair of Audi R8s to help the volume? The R8 proved to be a firm favourite with Eddie, owning V8 and V10 versions – both six-speed manuals, and both supercharged. Both pretty quick with EVH behind the wheel, too.

For me, though, the car in Eddie’s collection that shows his true petrolhead credentials, as well as a deep appreciation for the spirit of driving – and trailblazing – is his 1972 Lamborghini Miura S. The car – or rather the engine sound – even made an appearance on the track Panama, from Van Halen’s album 1984; the car was backed into the studio, hooked-up to the microphones, and given a good dose of Eddie’s right foot. Fast forward to 2:54 in the video to hear the unmistakeable tone of a Van Halen V12! 

The Lamborghini Miura S. Sounds good too.

Fittingly, the Miura was the first mid-engined production car, the first modern supercar. More than anything, it set the tone for everything that followed … just like the great man himself. 

Carl Lender / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Eddie Van Halen
A tribute by Kevin Atkins

Monday 12 October 2020

Getting back on track

To say 2020 has been difficult year, for pretty much everyone, is an understatement. There will, no doubt, be further obstacles to navigate before we can say we’re through the worst of the pandemic, but we’ve fought-on with distance, masks and hand gel, and we’ll continue to do just that.

During the pandemic, we have tried our utmost to keep our books, both old and new, flowing, and to bring new projects to fruition. It’s not been easy, but we’re now starting to get our programme back on track, and new books are starting to come online at a gathering pace. There is still much uncertainty, and some supply chain disruption; we’ve even seen highly unusual instances of new books selling out before we can restock.

So, whilst things aren’t back to normal yet, we can at least whet your appetite and reveal just a few of the brilliant reads we have coming your way over the next few months – and more will follow.

First, though; let's catch up with a book that came into stock between editions of On the Grid that you may have missed, and that you can get your hands on today …

FIAT 124 Spider & Pininfarina Azzura Spider
(AS-DS) 1960 to 1985

These 2-seater sporty convertibles have been entertaining drivers with an engaging ride since they debuted at the 1966 Turin Motor Show. From 1981, the car carried the Pininfarina badge, and the name was even used again, admittedly for a very different car, for 2016’s MX-5-based FIAT.

If the call of open-top motoring is too loud for you to ignore, then this is the book for you. This Essential Buyer’s Guide is dedicated to helping you buy your perfect classic 124 Spider, giving you essential information and tips, direct from marque expert Campbell Robertson. With  this, you’ll be able to confidently assess a 124 Spider for purchase.

As with all our Essential Buyer’s Guides, you’ll discover what it’s like living with a Spider, where and how to buy, advice on the most suitable model, and in-depth analyses of the Spider’s strengths and weaknesses. There’s also coverage of suppliers, and the social scene around the cars, including clubs and organisations worldwide.

The heart of each of our guides is our unique 60 Minute Evaluation chapter, with points scoring system, taking you through each part of the car and the issues  you look at for. Score each section as you go, tot-up the result, and you’ll get a score that will reveal whether you’re looking at a prime candidate, or a lemon.

The FIAT 124 Spider & Pininfarina Azzura Spider Essential Buyer’s Guide is ready and waiting for you at https://bit.ly/Fiat-124-Spider-and-Pininfarina-Azzura-Spider-EBG

Coming soon

Keep your eyes peeled, or request notification, for these fantastic books – all should be here before Christmas.

Chevrolet ½-ton C/K-Series Pickup Trucks 1973-1987 – “Built to Stay Tough” by Norm Mort

First up, we have a new book by Norm Mort in our Those were the days…™ series. This is a detailed look at the history and development of the 3rd generation of the popular Chevy ½-ton C/K-Series pickups. 

These subtly styled trucks were produced from 1973 to 1987, more than holding their own in a competitive market, against the likes of the Ford 150, as well as various Dodges, Jeeps, and International Harvesters.

Beginning with a brief history, it includes a detailed look at the evolution of the 3rd gen models, with year-by-year descriptions. As well as detailing production models, with specifications and options, you’ll also find industry facts and figures, rarely seen cutaway images, and previously unpublished photos of fully restored C/K trucks, and customisations by Chevy enthusiasts.

This is a wonderful record of a much loved classic American pickup, and even covers the market demands which often led to the introduction of niche models, intended to broaden the market base. Definitely one for all American truck fans.
  • Engine & chassis specifications included
  • Covers all optional equipment
  • Detailed close-up of all engines offered
  • 3rd generation ½-ton Chevrolet pickup truck production facts and figures from 1971-1983
  • Focus on all of the Chevrolet ½-ton C/K-Series models offered
  • Previously unpublished images of fully restored ½-ton C/K-Series pickups
  • Many images sourced from period advertisements and brochures
  • Images of rarer performance versions
  • Descriptive, detailed text on annual model changes, period road tests & references when new
  • Highlights distinctive styling cues and increasing market focus on luxury features
£15.99 UK • $25 USA • $32.99 CAN
Paperback • 20.5x19cm • 96 pages • 112 pictures

Lotus Elan and Plus 2 Source Book by Matthew Vale

Lotus is a name that needs no introduction to Veloce readers, but Matthew Vale’s Elan and Plus 2 Source Book is the perfect volume for owners and wannabe owners.

The Elan was the first 'affordable' – and successful – road car from Colin Chapman and Lotus, a replacement for the more expensive (and less reliable) Elite, and carried the brand through the 60s and into the 70s.

This is a practical, warts-and-all guide to owning and running one of these British classics, crammed with pictures and advice. If you’ve dreamed about getting and Elan or +2, whether to restore, as a daily driver, or as a project car for upgrading, and want to know what it’s really like to live with one, this is your first port of call. We also have your second … more on that later.

From a brief look at the history of the Elan and +2, to a detailed originality guide, it’s an eye opener. You’ll find engine specifications, gear ratios, dimensions and capacities, and discover the design changes made by Lotus across the lifetimes of the models.

The real gem of this book is an 'owners section,' providing a window on real-world ownership and maintenance, revealing common faults, and showing how to keep an Elan or +2 in top condition. There’s also information on worthwhile upgrades, and a section on restoration (or rescue), for all those who want to push their Elan to new heights … or maybe bring one back from the dead.

  • Useful, practical, warts-and-all guide to owning and running a Lotus Elan or +2
  • An invaluable source of real-world advice for existing owners
  • Packed with up-to-date data
  • Details Elan and +2 product history and chronology
  • Guide to original features, and changes, through the life of all models
  • Highly detailed specifications for all models
  • Engine, transmission, suspension, steering, brakes, and dimension specifications
  • Comprehensive restoration, renovation and preservation section
  • Illustrated with high quality photos throughout
  • The perfect guide for all Lotus owners, buyers, and restorers!

£45 UK • $60 USA • $78 CAN
Hardback • 25x25cm • 208 pages • 300 pictures

Once you’ve read Matthew’s Elan and +2 Source Book, and if you decide to take the plunge into Lotus ownership, then your next step will likely be buying your very own Elan or +2 … and we have just what you need …

The Lotus Elan Essential Buyer’s Guide is designed to give you all the technical details – and all the skills – needed to make buying a good example as straightforward as possible. Covering the S1 to Sprint, and +2 to Plus 2S 130/5 cars made between 1962 and 1974, it’s the perfect companion to Matthew’s Source Book, and with its unique 60 minute evaluation chapter, with points scoring system, assessing a car like a pro is now something you can do yourself.

Checkout the Essential Buyer’s Guide here: https://www.veloce.co.uk/store/Lotus-Elan-p135968916

Motorcycles, Mates and Memories – Recalling sixty years of fun in British motorcycle sport by Bill Snelling

We take to two wheels next, as we look back over sixty years of motorcycle sport, with Bill Snelling. Bill was born into a family for whom a motorcycle combination was a way of life. Working at Arthur Lavington’s Velo shop at the age of 15, Bill rode long-distance trails, with some success, before branching into racing, has worked as a columnist for Motorcycle Weekly, and is a photo archivist and TT/MGP historian. 

Bill’s book is a look at the social history of motorcycle sport, as seen from the saddle. It’s an entertaining biography, recounting a lifetime spent at the heart of the British motorcycle racing scene, and living on the Isle of Man.

You’ll read of the decades of mayhem, mud and madness that have characterised Bill’s 70-year life – 'living the dream' - as Bill says! From his early days at Lavington’s Velo shop, to long-distance trials, and the many race circuits he has ridden.

The book is also a personal account of the golden years of the TT, and features original photos from the TT archives, capturing the thrill of the races. Sharing his passion and experiences as a rider and Manx GP competitor, this is a book from a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast, competitor, author, and historian.

£16.99 UK • $29.95 USA • $32.95 CAN
Paperback • 14.8x21cm • 160 pages • 202 pictures

Morris Cars 1948-1984 – A Pictorial History by Ray Newell

Joining our popular A Pictorial History series, is Ray Newell’s much anticipated book on Morris cars. A prominent marque since its 1913 inception, postwar cars were exported around the world, with many assembled overseas, and despite production ending in 1984, many models have an enthusiastic following today.

Ray has had a long association with Morris cars, has been the Secretary of the Morris Minor Owners Club since 1963, and was a founding member of the Morris Vehicles Association in 2013. Ray has packed his knowledge into a book bursting with colour photos, detailed information on colour schemes, optional equipment, and technical specs – even dash diagrams and gearchange gate patterns.

Morris Cars – A Pictorial History is fine addition to the range, and a brilliant record of Morris cars, no matter where your interest lies. Inside you’ll find: Morris Minor, Series MM, Series ll, Morris 1000; Morris Oxford Series MO; Morris Six MS; Morris Oxford Series ll, Series lll, Series IV, Series V, Series VI; Morris Cowley 1200  Morris Cowley 1500; Morris Isis; Morris Mini; Morris 1100/1300; Morris 1800 Morris 2200; Morris 18/22; Morris Marina; Morris Ital; and the Morris Metro Van (The last Morris Model).

£16.99 UK • $24.99 USA • $32.99 CAN
Paperback • 14.8x21cm • 160 pages • 202 pictures

Find out more at: https://www.veloce.co.uk/store/Morris-Cars-1948-1984-Pictorial-History-p187271811

So, that's it for our look at some of the books we have coming your way. Stay up-to-date by signing up to our newsletter, On the Grid, and get notified when the book is in stock by clicking the buttons on the book pages (see our last blog entry for more details).

Watch this space for more books coming soon. 

Monday 10 August 2020

Be the FIRST!

Our new web store has been live for around six months, and has been performing excellently. We've had plenty of very positive feedback on the new site, and some helpful constructive criticism, so, never ones to rest on our laurels, we've been fettling, fine-tuning, and maintaining various parts ever since the site went live.

To use an automotive analogy, all new sites need some aerodynamic and mechanical fine-tuning – an ongoing process, of course – as we improve it, and make it faster and more useful for our customers and fellow enthusiasts.

To use another automotive analogy; if our old store was the classic Jaguar of websites, our new store is more the Porsche Taycan, or something along those lines (feel free to insert your own favourite Classic / Modern auto reference in the comments below). As with all things Classic vs Modern, some classics have features that are just too good to ignore, so we've brought back a much loved feature from our own 'classic' store, hooked it up to our new power unit and chassis, and it's racing now, as you read this. (I promise that that's the last of the auto analogies).

Get ahead of the pack

You can now request a notification email be sent to you when a book comes into stock at Veloce. Every entry for a print book that's either out of stock or coming soon, now includes a Notify me button and an email address field. Simply pop your email address into the box, press the button, and we'll do the rest. The moment a book is put into stock at Veloce, you'll receive an email alert with a direct link to the product in our store, so you can buy your copy straight away, and get ahead of the pack.

As mentioned, improvements and enhancements to our web site are a continuing process, and we'll be making our behind-the-scenes tweaks as usual over the coming weeks and months. Some of you may notice, some you may not, so make sure to stay subscribed to our newsletter and mailouts to hear about new features. new books coming your way in 2020 and beyond, and all the latest news and views from Veloce Publishing. If you have a feature request, or if you think there's something we can add to our site (or remove, of course) to improve it, let us know via email.

In the meantime, head over to our online shop, choose your next great Veloce read, and get notified … and you can get your Veloce fix before anyone else!

Thursday 16 July 2020

Model behaviour

Finding something to fill an hour or two probably isn’t much of an issue for most of us, with home schooling, and things to fix, fettle, or fine-tune. Lockdown, however, has sometimes meant spare time is unavoidable, sending us searching for something fun or entertaining … and preferably not too tricky.

Enter paper craft! Covering a multitude of areas, today, we focus on the print-and-make 3D variety; printable sheets containing patterns with cut, fold, and glue marks that can be formed into 1D, 2D, or 3D objects.These exquisitely designed creations have become quite a movement of late, and can fill time perfectly. We take a peek at just a few of the automotive models that have caught our eye recently, each of which can put you on the road to paper modelling nirvana!

With models to suit the absolute beginner and the extreme engineer alike, all interests, ages, and genders are catered for. Most models need just a few simple tools to make; a printer. cutting rule, craft knife or scissors, and glue or tape. You can supplement these with cutting mats, circle cutters, and maybe markers to customise your creations, should you get the buzz. To get an idea of how they 'work,' check out Loony Toons Crafts' YouTube video, below, taking you through crafting a Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 model. You can download the free template from a link on the video page:

First up, is papercruiser.com, created by paper artist Jesse. You’ll likely see Jesse’s models on a number of sites for auto clubs and groups, and he even creates bespoke templates for a fee. There are pages for Ford, International, Willys, and Toyota, among others, and Jesse offers some great free templates that you can download from the website. His YouTube channel has plenty of instructional videos to help you get to grips with the models. Free models include a wonderful VW Westfalia Vanagon (the star of this post's header pic), and a SpotMini, Boston Dynamics’ four-legged utility robot.

Give your creation a workout with these paper rocks, free from papercruiser.com

You’ll also find categories for Easy, Intermediate, and Advanced difficulty. The range is quite diverse, taking in everything from a Tesla Semi and Trailer, to a Willy’s Jeep woody, and even some boulders and a jerry can; there is a leaning towards more rugged vehicles and off-roaders, which suits us fine. If you’re feeling particularly brave, why not try your hand at a rolling model of a FJ55 Land Cruiser, or an open-top Jeep Rubicon?

papercruiser.com's homepage hints at the range of models he sells

When you consider the skill and work required to create the template designs, you'll be pleasantly surprised to discover that the most expensive is a mere $6.50 (£5). Models also come in a choice of colours - up to 20 on some. A bespoke model is quite a bit more expensive, but that's hardly surprising when you consider that a design can take up to 40 hours to create. Check out the papercruiser.com website and facebook page to see and buy these amazing creations.

PaperCraftSquare is our next stop, a site offering links to many paper craft models, from a huge range of sources, with a vast number of free models. Its Vehicle section alone has 400 pages, and you'll find aircraft, military vehicles, motorcycles, railway locomotives – even a Husqvarna Rider 316 Ts AWD Snow Removal machine. Non-vehicular models are just as diverse, ranging from an ancient Roman Villa, to a Star Wars moisture evaporator ('vaporator' for all the die-hard fans reading this … and, yes, there's a Millenium Falcon). 

Bugatti Type 35B in paper form

As you'd expect with so many templates, motorsport vehicles are in abundance, and you'll find F1 cars from every era, as well as rally, touring, and other disciplines. PaperCraftSquare is particularly good for finding models of old or obscure vehicles, as well as military and commercial rarities. 

A paper Valentino Rossi pilots a Yamaha YZR-R1 (also paper)

Last, but by no means least, we have a site that's both inspirational and fun, and guaranteed to get kids and adults crafting. Canon, the camera and printer manufacturer, created the Creative Park website to provide free craft activities for owners of its colour printers, and covers all manner of art and craft activities, with instructions for each. Its Paper Craft section is full of high-quality marvels of paper engineering, some of which feature working mechanisms
Every Creative Park model is expertly designed and comes with instructions

Its range of automobile models isn’t the largest, but it does boast three classic Jaguar models, an MG TC, and a wonderful Mercedes-Benz 500K. The site has too much to list here, and it really does cover everything; it even has paper costumes, models that help to teach the natural sciences, and educational and fun games and puzzles. Oh, and DINOSAURS!

Who could resist a paper T-Rex?
It's well worth taking a look around Creative Park, if only to wonder at the sheer range of items, and the ingenuity of its artists and designers. You'll also find projects for home and living, and, for the parents among you, there are dozens of fun and educational models, activities, and construct-your-own toys to keep them occupied and entertained, and group activities to include family and friends.

We asked a few Velocisti, which paper craft model they would choose to make … here's what they said:

Rod Grainger (Publisher)
Rod's choice is a Chevrolet Confederate Deluxe Sports Roadster, and Dr Who's TARDIS ("To get away from CV19")

Jude Brooks (Publisher)
Jude's choice is a Cockatiel (presently under construction!), and a Unicorn.

Geraldine Cetin (Marketing Co-ordinator)
Geraldine chooses the iconic (desktop-friendly Sagrada Familia, and an Exotic Shorthair. ("Because it looks like mine!")

Emma Shanes (Office Administrator)
Emma, who is always up for an art or craft challenge, decided to make her choices, and opted for the Statue of Liberty, and Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs.

Caught the paper crafting bug? Made your own paper masterpieces?
Share your crafty creations with us on twitter, facebook or instagram with the hashtag #papercraft.