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  •   Secret Supercar Owner reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    JAY LENO The Collector / #2017 / #GM / #Cadillac-Escalade / #Cadillac / #SUV /

    Like me, Octane readers look at cars differently. To most people cars are like an appliance. They do a job. To me, cars are vehicles of excitement and fantasy. I mean, I would no more put lumber in the back of my #McLaren than put skis on a car.

    But to most people the automobile is an appliance like a refrigerator and they just want to combine the elements of one with the other. Americans are like that: ‘I’d like a two-seater sports car but it needs to carry five people.’ Well that’s not a two-seater sports car! So car companies came out with an SUV.

    GM and Ford created the SUV in the ’80s. Trucks did not have a luxury tax because they were trucks, they were utilitarian vehicles. So a number of people, including Ford, said: Why don’t we make a Lincoln version of the truck? Let’s take that 5% that people would have spent on extras for the car, fit a leather interior, aircon, and make a luxury truck. This is where the SUV came from. Personally, I would say that if you want a truck, get a truck. Combining car and truck does not work.

    SUVs are being made by almost all luxury and sports car companies now. #Bentley , #Jaguar , #Porsche ; #Lamborghini soon. It might be a bit strong to say making SUVs has saved these car companies but it certainly allowed the likes of #Porsche to breathe a little bit easier and spend a little more time and some of the profits from #Porsche-Cayenne on the latest version of the 911 – and the 918. I don’t think you’d have the 918 without the Cayenne.

    The car business is a compromise. How many musicians have to play commercials before they can make the album they want to do? I’m not sure how many car designers set their goal as creating an SUV. They all want to do an Aventador or a Miura or a #Ferrari-458 or a #McLaren-P1 . But if anybody can make one look good it’s Ian Callum. To design the F-Type and the new #Jaguar-F-Pace and make both work is a talent.

    I find when I buy magazines I skip through the #SUV road tests because I’m going to be reading about the cupholder and the seat that folds down so you can get this in and you can get that in. And none of that concerns me. I can’t think of any SUV that ever made me say ‘Oh man! I’d like to be able to try that.’ Except maybe the ridiculous #Lamborghini-LM002 . When the #Lamborghini LM002 came out it seemed enormous. I said, Oh my God, this is the biggest roadgoing vehicle I’ve ever seen. And now it’s probably smaller than an Escalade.

    The Escalade is one of Cadillac’s biggest-selling vehicles so it has helped keep the brand alive. It’s an enormous thing and it’s hugely popular. It’s replaced the Lincoln Town Car as the go-to vehicle for Hollywood award-winners. I get invited to these things and they used to send stretch limos that would bottom out on my driveway; now they come with this huge SUV, with tremendous ground clearance.


    The question of whether SUVs will kill off sports cars is not a worry. What is more likely to kill off sports cars is our roads, which are so terrible now, not only in LA but also the UK, I hear. I’ve had two wheels bent over the last five years or so, just driving home on the streets I take every day, because potholes open up and nobody fills them. Bang! You hit them hard in a car with maybe a 17- or 18-inch rim on it and it damages the wheel. Whereas a big SUV with a big rubber tyre and 22-inch rims is going to absorb that fairly easily.

    I can see that rationale for an SUV. Also, as roads get more crowded, people want a little more space in their vehicle, they want more room. You can’t really drive fast anyway so maybe an SUV is the way to go if you gotta carry a crib and this and that. I talk to a lot of moms who like a commanding view of the road and a lot of metal around them. I understand the need for it but I just don’t find them interesting as vehicles. To me, automobiles are about fantasy and style and I just look at SUVs and go hmmm. It doesn’t work for me.

    Having an SUV in the line-up might help brands whose traditional cars might limit potential buyers with their image. Like Rolls-Royce. Suddenly you’re not seen as just driving a #Rolls-Royce , it’s a #Rolls-Royce-SUV . It adds more of a lifestyle air to it, I suppose.

    Anything that keeps cutting-edge manufacturers going is fine with me. However, I don’t see #McLaren-SUV building an SUV any time in the near future and Ferrari will probably never build an SUV. Though it did build #Ferrari-SUV World – an amusement park – in Abu Dhabi. Now they’re talking about a Ferrari World in the United States. That’s like an SUV, isn’t it?

    ‘TO ME, AUTOMOBILES ARE ABOUT FANTASY AND STYLE AND I JUST LOOK AT AN SUV AND GO HMMMM ’
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  •   Ben Koflach reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Jay Leno uploaded a new video
    / #Steve-McQueen / #1956 #Jaguar-XKSS - Jay Leno's Garage / #Jaguar
    Steve McQueen's 1956 Jaguar XKSS - Jay Leno's Garage
    Steve McQueen's Jaguar: Steve McQueen bought it twice - and twice had his license suspended for driving it! Jay gets an in-depth tour of the King of Cool's "...
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  •   Matt Petrie reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    ROBERT COUCHER THE DRIVER

    ‘CLASSIC ENTHUSIASTS HAVE A BOND WITH THEIR CARS, SO THEY SEE BEYOND BRAND IMAGE - DRIVERS OF MODERN CARS DON’T’

    Let’s face it, we all like an underdog, especially here in Britain. I suppose you can apply the idea of an underdog to motor vehicles. Without wanting to anthropomorphise inanimate motor cars, human beings have had a long and illogical relationship with their motors. A car is a strong reflection of its owner’s personality and position in society and there is no brand stronger than a motor vehicle. #Audi , #Bentley , #BMW , #Ferrari , #Mercedes-Benz , #Jaguar , #Porsche , #Rolls-Royce and so on spend a fortune burnishing their brand credentials and it works. Aston Martin was recently the coolest brand in Britain, ahead of #Apple , #Nike and #Rolex .

    People very seldom just purchase a ‘car’. They buy a product that reflects themselves. As the doyen of advertising David Ogilvy said: ‘You have to decide what "image" you want for your brand. Image means personality.
    Products, like people, have personalities.’ Sure, people buy cars based on price, but the mid-market 3-Series has long outsold the perfectly good #Ford-Mondeo - because it has a BMW badge on the front. And why do so many urban dwellers want a 4x4?

    Because a soft-roader is a lot cooler than a sensible saloon.

    Of course, those of us who are ‘into’ classic or historic cars have a real attachment: we actually love our old cars, which is faintly ridiculous, though also great fun and rewarding. Apart from the engineering and performance, classic car types are acutely aware about what their cars say about them. Both an E-type Jaguar and Mini are cool icons of the 1960s but are totally different, only having the fact that they are motor vehicles with four wheels in common, unlike a Morgan three-wheeler. Classic cars offer a wide canvas for tweedy types and Teddy Boys alike.

    But because classic car enthusiasts actually have a bond with their cars, they can see beyond just the brand image in a way drivers of modern cars don’t. Of course, modern cars are built to hammer down endless motorways and sit in traffic, whereas classics are for enjoyment. That’s why many classic car owners will often have an underdog in their garage along with a more recognised classic. As well as his C-type Jaguar and #Rolls-Royce-Silver-Ghost , the late Alan Clark MP also enjoyed A #Citroen-2CV and a #VW-Beetle (the latter admittedly with a #Porsche-356 engine shoehorned into the rear).

    Americans call these ‘trinket’ cars. Fiat 500 Jollys used to be trinkets but, now that owners of superyachts want them as tenders, they are priced like expensive jewels. I’m sure, like me, you have a soft spot for the automotive underdog, a classic that is not about the smart badge on the bonnet. The first time I drove a classic Mini I was shocked at how good it was on a tight road. It made the Porsche 356 I was driving at the time seem a bit numb. And years ago my father had an immaculate #Lancia-Aurelia-B20GT . To be fair it was the last of the line, a heavy sixth-series example. But when I raced him in my boxy, four-door #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia saloon, I’d blow his (two) doors off every time.

    As a member of the #Drive-My team I’m fortunate to get to drive some pretty impressive pieces of kit. And it is interesting to see quite how good some cars are - often the underdogs - and quite how lousy some of the supposed great classics can be. My good friend Ray Jones of Sydney, Australia, invited me to take part in the #Mille-Miglia with him in #1999 . We were to drive his #Chrysler-75 .

    Some in the vintage world look down on these Americans. Halfway through, #Bentley specialist Stanley Mann wandered over. ‘What sort of supercharger do you have fitted to the Chrysler?’ he asked (we’d overtaken his vintage Bentley a number of times). Ray opened the bonnet. Its two huge SUs and banana-branch exhaust header would have given your average VSCC scrute heart failure but there was no blower. Stanley was amazed. And the #Chrysler had excellent, original hydraulic brakes.

    In 2007, deputy editor Mark Dixon and I competed in the #Mille-Migila in a bog-standard #Triumph-TR2 , mustering just about 90bhp. Not powerful, but it handled well. In the mountains this light car was ace because of its overdrive gearbox, which operated on second, third and top. The #Triumph really annoyed a number of drivers of heavy Mercedes-Benz Gullwings with their wide-ratio gearing. Up the steep mountain roads we indulged in some of the most impertinent overtaking ever.

    Yes, it was a proper underdog.

    ROBERT COUCHER

    Robert grew up with classic cars, and has owned a #Lancia-Aurelia-B20GT , Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Porsche 356C. He currently uses his properly sorted #1955 #Jaguar-XK140 as his daily driver, and is a founding editor of this magazine.
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  • Looked around the handsome interior and wistfully thought about the beauty of it all, stroking the finely textured instrument binnacle and absorbing the general ambience of well-being. Then I turned on the ignition: with a fine whine that eloquently spoke of high technology, the starter-motor engaged the flywheel. Like an animal stirring, the entire car powered-up and we were good to go. I was soon on a clear stretch of road in gloriously misty-sunny daylight.

    ‘LIKE CHILDBIRTH AND BRINGING UP CHILDREN, NO-ONE EVER TELLS YOU THE RAW TRUTH ABOUT CLASSIC CARS’

    On a good day in the right mood, there are few experiences better than driving a great car in a romantic location. Since the road was empty, I had an enjoyable time attacking the corners on the epic coast road from Lourinha to Peniche: juggling with braking points, tum-in, clipping apexes, gear selection. Feeling forces load-up and then disperse in a series of exciting peaks and dips. Truly, a delicious sort of erotic intercourse with a machine.

    What was the car? A dirt-cheap Hyundai rental I had picked up from Lisbon’s Portela airport. I doubt I could have worked this road faster - or more comfortably – in a #Porsche-917 .

    Like childbirth and bringing up children, no-one ever tells you the raw truth about classic cars. It’s a survival characteristic. If we were realistic about the pain of parturition and the fatigue (not to mention wince-inducing expense) involved in childcare and education, human reproduction would promptly cease. Civilisation would end. And with classic cars, if we spoke the truth, or, at least, faced the facts, we would be out of business. But we don’t. We bash on. If we were cold-eyed realists, we would have Hyundais. We are, instead, romantics.

    But my experience of driving or owning classic cars has been universally dismal. The fact that I am still enjoyably engaged with them is evidence of man’s laughable folly, of the triumph of blind hope over cruel experience. I remember a glorious-looking #1955 #Thunderbird in rural Illinois: steering so vague that there appeared to be no mechanical connections involved whatsoever. Certainly, spinning the wheel did not influence the car's direction. And the crude 120bhp lump could scarcely stir the prehistoric two-speed automatic... which was just as well, as the car had no brakes. Or the little #Fiat-Nuova-Cinquecento I bought for my wife. Ineffably cute, certainly, but it was like owning a sick pet: adorable, but tragic. It could not be made to move.

    The E-type, I found, handled like a rowing-boat. And the #Citroen-DS ? This astonishing car inspired Roland Barthes' wonderful line about design being ‘the best messenger of a world above that of nature’ - yet recently its wheezing, cumbersome demeanour made me yearn for something new. precise and Korean.

    But this, of course, has nothing to do with it. Complaining that (most) classic cars do not work well is like moaning that you can’t put Sevres porcelain in the dishwasher, that Rembrandt is low- res, Shakespeare can't do jivetalk. Abbey Road has crude stereo separation and Jack Kerouac took drugs. The whole point of any classic - in any medium or genre - is that it transcends the ordinary and defies rational criticism.

    For more than 30 years I have been fielding questions about 'classic design’. My response? Any classic has to have an ambiguous relationship with time: it must speak of the age that created it. but also be beyond the basic cycles of fashion. And classics must tell a story, evoking a mystique beyond the here-and- now. Additionally, they establish a type: true classics have neither precedents nor successors. They are magnificently singular. And. of course, desirable.
    I think the essence of a classic car is the way it excites desire, an anticipation of pleasures to come. Look at that #Lancia-B24 or that #Lotus-XV and you start an imaginative, rather than a real, journey. In a sense, desire is the opposite of nostalgia because nostalgia looks backwards while desire projects yearnings into the future. It does not matter if the experience of driving or owning a classic is often compromised, a classic speaks to a higher level of psychological engagement.

    As with people, flaws and mistakes make cars interesting. The baseball sage Yogi Berra said if the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be. The Hyundai is perfect, yet isn’t desirable. The #Thunderbird , #Jaguar , #Cinquecento and #DS are comedically imperfect, but I want one of each. Sometimes I think the only certain thing about human preference is its total lack of rationality. Thank God. Otherwise, we really would all be in Hyundais.
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  • Think the dashboard is really important to a car. You want to marry a woman with a pretty face because that's what you're going to be looking at over the breakfast table every day. And it’s a bit like that when you get in a car: when you look at that dashboard it should be pleasing.

    The term 'dashboard' goes back to the carriage days, when there was a piece of wood between the horse and the people riding in the carriage. The board would protect the occupants from dirt, manure or whatever was being kicked up by the horse’s hooves. And with the advent of horseless carnages, that board developed into the instrument panel.

    Walking around my garage. I was just thinking about the evolution of the dashboard. In Amenca the first totally modem dashboard was probably the #1913 #Packard Model 38. Because that was the first American car in which you would have all the controls - gauges, switches, everything you needed - right in front of the driver. Move on a decade or two and. as cars evolved, so too did dashboards.

    ‘BUGATTIS HAD THE THINNEST NEEDLES OF ANY GAUGES I’VE EVER SEEN. I ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT GAVE AN AIR OF ACCURACY’

    Bugattis like the Type 57 always had the thinnest needles of any gauges I’ve ever seen. They were so delicate, and I always thought that gave an air of accuracy.

    When Duesenberg came out in about 1927, Charles Lindbergh had flown the Atlantic. Aviation inspired automobiles. So everybody in the '30s wanted aircraft-styte dashboards. And all Duesenbergs had an altimeter built right into the dashboard. Why would a car have an altimeter? It made the car look aircraft-style. I remember a Humphrey Bogart movie - Black Legion - made in #1937 . The car Bogart bought in it was, I believe, a #1936 #Ford . He tells his kids: 'Look at that dashboard. Strictly aeroplane type.’

    One of the all-time most beautiful dashboards was the Cord’s. It had a brushed aluminium finish. That was the first car to have a horn ring instead of a push switch in the centre of the steering wheel. It was also one of the first cars to have a built-in radio. The speaker and volume control were in the roof. Very cool.

    The 1950s and early ’60s, at least in America, were. I think, the most fun time for dashboards. My #1957 #Buick-Roadmaster has a thing called the 'safety minder'. The speedometer is a ribbon that changes colour the faster you go, and you can set a little dial to a predetermined speed. When you hit that speed it gives out a kind of anaemic buzzzz. They called it a boon to driving safety.

    My all-time favourite speedo is probably from the #1961 #Chrysler-300G . It had a neon dashboard that looked as much like the Wurlitzer jukebox as you could possibly imagine. The most complicated thing to fix and restore. But just beautiful to look at at night - it bathed the whole interior of the car in neon.

    It’s hard to beat the Series 1 E-type. #Jaguar has done a lot of great dashboards but the E-type's is one of the prettiest. I always loved the toggle switches and the brushed aluminium finish too. I loved the three-spoke steering wheel, with its dimimshing- diameter holes, and the speedometer mounted on one side - it went to 160mph - and the tachometer on the other.

    As you'd expect from the French, the #Citroen-DS has a fascinating dashboard. The annoying thing about a lot of cars is the spokes of the steering wheel: you always have to look around them to see what you're hitting, the red line of the tacho or a number on the speedometer. With the single-spoke steering wheel, the three main dials on a DS are right in front of you. And the speedometer has a cool thing on it... Within the dial is an inner wheel that tells you your braking distance, how long it will take you to stop, at the speed you're going.

    The best dashboards are those that are easy to read. You know where you are with the car by the position of the needle. I like ones where the dials are large and easily legible. The reason #Porsche stuck with five circular dials for so long is because it was timeless and clear. I always found the #Bugatti-Veyron a little tricky to drive, because you go at such tremendous speeds and you glance at that dashboard and you’re not quite sure where you are.

    What annoys me most about modern dashboards is that nothing is intuitive. In any old car, to set the time, you look at the dock, pull the stalk out, turn it and you've done it. With modern cars you’ve got to read the manual. Hold down the dimmer switch while pressing the glovebox release simultaneously... Nothing is intuitive, you know, it's all sort of computerised. I really don't care for that.
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  • It’s always fascinated me how some cars are destined for greatness and others seem to fade away. I mean the classic example is the #Sunbeam-Tiger . Here was the #Sunbeam-Alpine , a little four-cylinder car, and it got an American V8 but it revitalised the Sunbeam, it gave it some panache and made it an exciting car. Yet the whole time there was another car in the background that was certainly the equal of the #Sunbeam #Tiger and maybe even more sophisticated. That was the #Daimler-SP250 ‘Dart’.

    I saw my first Dart when I was 16 years old. It was parked near the bowling alley. Like every one I’ve seen over the years it was not in particularly good shape. By that time it was three or four years old and a Massachusetts winter had taken its toll. But I was fascinated by the V8 and the dual exhausts and the four-speed-plus-overdrive.

    It was not the greatest-looking car. In fact when it was introduced in #1959 at the New York Auto Show it was deemed the ‘ugliest car’ at the show. But what made it so fascinating was this little jewel of a motor; a Hemi-head, 2.5-litre V8, developed by Edward Turner, the motorcycle designer responsible for such classic engines as the Aerial Square Four and the #Triumph-Bonneville .

    And when you open the Dart’s hood it knocks you out. It’s a visually stunning motor with the dual carburettors on it. It put out 140bhp. The body was made of glassfibre, so it weighed around 2000lb, and it was certainly the equal in performance of the #Jaguar #XK120 , #XK140 or #XK150 . It just wasn’t the best-looking car.

    The idea was that Daimler wanted to design something that would appeal to Americans. Everybody had fins so #Daimler thought, well, let’s put fins on our car. So the kind of camp-ish looking front end combined with the American fins, and it’s probably the most American car in concept that the English had designed up to that point. It had roll-up windows and had a heater and defroster, when most British cars still had plastic windows you had to slide yourself.

    So why wasn’t it a success? They built only 2648 of them and half were exported to America. They never quite caught on here because the 2.5-litre engine, although big for England, was pretty minuscule by American standards. The early cars suffered from flexible chassis and people used to complain that when you went around corners the doors flew open.

    ‘WHEN YOU OPEN THE DAIMLER DART’S HOOD IT KNOCKS YOU OUT. THAT V8 IS A VISUALLY STUNNING MOTOR’

    Yet it was incredibly fast. In fact it was so fast that the London police department ordered 30 of them, with automatic transmission, so they could catch the motorcyclists at the Ace Cafe - where they’d play a record and you had to go 100mph and be back in the cafe before the record ended. Well this is the only car that could catch those guys.

    So occasionally you see one of the 30 London police cars for sale. A guy wrote me a letter, telling me his uncle had bought the car new and willed it to him when he died. It was parked in the backyard for 40 years, but being glassfibre it never rusted out. I bought it sight unseen. I know you’re not supposed to do that but sometimes, when something different comes along, what are the odds of finding another one? From the photograph it all looked like it was there and I got a good deal on it.

    We brought it back to my shop and modified an intake manifold to take a #Weber carburettor. We put in rack-and-pinion steering and upgraded the brakes. And we did put a Tremec five-speed in place of the four-speed and overdrive. It drives so well, the looks grow on you. It’s fun to show up at British sports car events with a car that a lot of people have never heard of and even some of the older guys barely remember.

    I just wonder why it got so lost in British automotive history. I mean, we look back at the Elan with fondness. And the #MGB , the TR3. There are huge clubs devoted to these and so many love stories about them. Why the Daimler is not included in those I don’t know. I’ve found only two books on it, whereas you can go to a bookstore and find hundreds on the MG and the Triumph and even the Humber Super Snipe!

    When Daimler was bought by Jaguar, Sir William Lyons was appalled at its build quality, so he made sure the frames were strengthened and tried to correct the mistakes. He made it a pretty good car, but by that time the #Jaguar-E-type had made its debut so why would Jaguar want to take sales away from itself? Why have two competing sports cars? That’s why the #Daimler-Dart faded into obscurity.

    JAY LENO

    Comedian and talk show legend Jay Leno is one of the most famous entertainers in the USA. He is also a true petrolhead, with a massive collection of cars and bikes (see jaylenosgarage. com). Jay was speaking with Jeremy Hart.
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  • Not Alec Poole’s #glassfibre-bodied #Jaguar - do you know who owned It? Alec Poole’s old Jag?

    I found these photos of a glassfibre-bodied Jaguar that was supposed to have belonged to Alec Poole. The event is a hill climb in the Glen of Aherlow, Co. Tipperary, Ireland. I think it is in the early Eighties. The car was owned by Martin O’Dwyer, a garage owner from Ballywilliam, Co. Wexford. The numberplate is a trade plate and, as far as I can recollect, Martin used to drive the car to the events. That would be around 70 miles from Ballywilliam so it was a feat in itself to drive there, especially as the car had a quick rack, wide tyres and no power steering. Martin was a fan of glassfibre cars, having also campaigned a Mini Marcos for years.

    Does anyone know if it was owned by #Alec-Poole , and what became of it? I also heard that this car or a similar one competed on Bigwood Single Stage rally.
    • I never owned the Jaguar in question. Indeed, I moved to the UK in about #1973 . However I do recognise the person walking in front of the car in theI never owned the Jaguar in question. Indeed, I moved to the UK in about #1973 . However I do recognise the person walking in front of the car in the photo as #Brian-Foley , Autosport’s Ireland correspondent.  More ...
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  • A forgotten gem of what might loosely be termed the British noir genre of late-'50s and early-'60s films that may not have been particularly successful at the time, but were once an essential element of any truly successful school skive on a rainy weekday afternoon, is Payroll.

    This was in the 70s, of course, when regional TV stations (such as my own once-respected Granada) had the balls to show black-and-white films to their captive audience of pensioners, the infirm and truants whose only alternative at that time of die day was die test card on BBC 1.

    Thus, if you could endure Crown Court, The Cedar Tree, Painting With Nancy and perhaps General Hospital, then the reward was the Monday matinee and, likely as not, a film of the order of Payroll. Curled up with some toast and a glass of Vimto - and with the Mancunian rain lashing unanswered against the window - life didn’t get any better, especially if you could be sure Mum or Dad wouldn't turn up unannounced. The latter in particular would have been deeply unimpressed by such indolence.
    For me Payroll is up there with the hard-bitten ’50s American crime capers that inspired it, such as Concrete Jungle and The Killers. Yet it is a very British story of a factory security van heist that goes badly wrong. The miscreants - led by the darkly handsome Michael Craig as Johnny Mellors - get away with the £100k, but in the process fatally impale die driver of the armoured van on his (very non-collapsible) steering column by crushing him between Thames Trader 7 Ton tipper and Land-Rover battering rams.

    The factory workers attempt to take on the villains - after all, it’s their wages that are being made off with - and one hero manages to attach himself briefly to the bootlid of a speeding getaway Jaguar before ending up in the gutter.
    This was violent stuff for #1961 cinema audiences and I was pretty shocked myself watching it 15 years later. Seeing it again now by the magic of DVD, you can see that there is very little sentimentality to be found among the thieves and certainly no honour. Anyone who threatens Craig’s liberty is shot, poisoned, drowned in sinking sand (do they have that in Newcasde?) or simply left to die if they are no longer useful.

    The failed aspirations of the clerk are illustrated by the way he cowers behind the wheel of his Ford Pop'.

    Warning: this film even makes a Hillman Minx look sexy.

    In this and many other ways, Payroll is a precursor to Get Carter. It was shot mostly on location in Gateshead and Newcastle and, although there are no local accents, it has an authentic feel and should not be confused with the much more routine (but still appreciated on one of those rainy Monday afternoons) Edgar Wallace B features it superficially resembles. The use of a provincial location gives Payroll a slightly ‘kitchen sink' feel that was fashionable at the time (this being the era of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and other celebrated social realism films). And you can see the North East in all its raw industrial grittiness of backstreet garages, pubs and cobbled roads.

    As well as the underrated Craig, the strong cast includes the even more overlooked Tom Bell, the wonderful Kenneth Griffith and an unusually powerful pair of female characters who are given more to do than just simper and look pretty for once.
    A redoubtable Billie Whitelaw, fresh from Hell is a City (and soon to be muse of Samuel Beckett), plays the feisty spouse of the skewered security van driver while the smouldering Frangoise Prevost provides continental sex appeal as the cold-hearted, money-grabbing French wife of the snivelling factory dark (played by William Lucas, later the Doctor in Black Beauty) who gives the villains the information they need to carry out the heist.

    The vehicles are well cast, too. As mentioned, there is the inevitable #Jaguar MkI getaway car, while the Police drive poverty Ford Consuls (this is the North after all). The failed aspirations of the morally jelly-like clerk are well illustrated by the way he cowers behind the wheel of his miserable ‘sit up and beg’ Ford Popular.

    Rootes fans will be pleased to see that the true four-wheeled star of Payroll is a Hillman Minx convertible that Craig and Prevost – fatally attracted in their reflected avarice and duplicity - manage to make look pretty damn sexy (surely the first and only time in the on-screen history of the Minx) as they plot and connive on the bench front seat. The grieving Whitelaw tenaciously tracks down her husband’s killers and it becomes clear as the final scenes are played out in South- wold - where Mellors/Craig plans to escape to the Continent by boat - that this loot is not going to make anyone happy.

    The film makes me happy even without the Vimto and toast and all concerned can look back proudly on Payroll, not least Craig who was later in Life at the Top, but for me will always summon up visions of Triangle, the #Austin-Allegro of failed '80s soap operas about North Sea ferries.
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  • Egyptian lives on

    I thought you might be interested to know that the Egyptian you featured still exists and is on the DVLA database as BPA 315K and on SORN. The pictures of it (inset) are from Bonhams’ auction catalogue for the #XK s 60th celebration meeting at Goodwood in August #2008 , organised by the #Jaguar XK Club International.

    I was present at that auction and noted that bidding ran out at £12,000 and the car was unsold. Judging by the estimate, the reserve was probably £15,000. The car was in good condition and much as you see it in the photos. Indeed, the prices achieved for other lots that day seem ludicrously low; how the classic car market has changed!
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