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  • Post is under moderation
    Ben Barry
    ‘Ridiculous. One does not simply “get over” combustion engines’ It’s not often that, in the course of a casual Saturday morning drive and a chat, you find yourself facing an unpleasant truth you’ve been avoiding for years. I had planned to sit in the passenger seat of ‘my’ #BMW-M850i-xDrive-G15 / #BMW-G15 / #BMW and simply ask reader Andy Cole what he thought of the car. (The story’s in Our Cars) But then things got a bit heavy. Like us, Andy’s an enthusiast.

    Like me, he’s moved by a good Bavarian straight-six; they do something to him. Or rather, they did something to him. ‘I think I’m over internal combustion engines,’ Andy told me, matter of factly. Ridiculous, I thought to myself. One does not simply ‘get over’ combustion engines. But over the next couple of days it dawned on me that, like or not, I’ll have no choice but to get over engines. This ushered in a feeling of profound sadness, so last night I cracked open a beer, wandered into my garage and sat a while contemplating my little shrine to the engine. Having replaced a popped bulb in its instrument cluster and fixed its silent horn, I replaced the fairing on my 1991 Honda VFR400, with its 399cc V4: 15,000rpm redline and 55bhp (138bhp per litre to the Ferrari 812 Superfast’s 121bhp…). Then I glanced up, at the vast print of the single most impressive Formula 1 car yet conceived, the McLaren Mp4/4: a holy – and almost perfect – combination of Gordon Murray free-thinking and another superb Honda engine, the turbo V6 (a pretty punchy 433bhp per litre). What a waste. A century of hard-won expertise, gleaned and proven in competition apparently now redundant. The electric future resets everything, and so I find myself grieving for an age that, while not behind us, is surely on borrowed time. Does Honda feel the same? Secretly, I think it does. A couple of years ago I visited its Collection Halls in Japan.
    Ostensibly Honda’s museum, it’s also a shrine to the wonder of the internal combustion engine and one company’s passionate love affair with it. And at the recent Geneva motor show, at which Honda shouted about its battery-electric e Prototype city car, I spoke with the car’s project leader, Kohei Hitomi. I told him that for me Honda was synonymous with great engines. Did it plan to build the same reputation with motors? ‘When comparing engines with electric motors, the differences in characteristics and performance will be smaller,’ he told me, looking a little sad. ‘In the past Honda made a difference; with an engine’s characteristics, its performance and its reliability. This will change with the move to electrification. We will probably have to look elsewhere to make this Honda difference.’ I could have hugged him. Don’t worry, Kohei, together we can get through this.

    My garage – and my beer fridge – are always open. Another month, another couple of awards. This month we’ve cleared space in the trophy cabinet for further recognition of CAR’s standout writing: Ben Oliver for feature writer and James Taylor for road tester, at the recent Newspress awards. You’ll find irrefutable evidence of their greatness on Drive-My.

    Enjoy the issue.
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    Ben Barry
    Ben Barry joined the group BMW G15/G14 8-Series
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    Ben Barry
    / #Jaguar-D-type / #Jaguar / 'On the Road to Victory' #Jim-Clark drives through the snowy streets of Newcastle, on his way to a race meeting at Full Sutton. Based on an extract from the book 'Jim Clark at the Wheel'.
    Giclee on paper, image size 56cm x 42cm, limited edition of 100.
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    CAR: #Porsche-911E / #Porsche-911 / #1972-Porsche-911E / #Porsche / #Porsche-911-2.4E
    Year of manufacture #1972
    Recorded mileage 3226km
    Asking price £119,995
    Vendor Cotswold Collectors Cars, near Bibury, Gloucestershire; tel: 01242 821600; www.cotswoldcars.com

    WHEN IT WAS NEW
    Price £4827
    Max power 165bhp / DIN
    Max torque 152lb ft / DIN
    0-60mph 8.9 secs
    Top speed 137mph
    Mpg 17-23

    This ’1973 model-year 2.4E, with comfort pack and S gauges, was resprayed from a metallic green before it left France in 2002, and in this ownership from ’14 has been painted by Riviera Coachworks, part of a refurbishment that included a £25,000 Autofarm engine rebuild. The finish is even, but with a few polish marks on the bonnet and window trims, plus a tiny chip on the left rain gutter. The brightwork, including the sill trims, looks good bar a few blemishes, but the driving lamp reflectors are starting to corrode. The front wing bolts were off for the repaint; the strut bolts are undisturbed.

    It now has Fuchs alloys, though it originally came with cookie-cutters that are still with the car, shod with 2005 (f) and 2010 (r) Michelins, behind which the discs look recent. The spacesaver spare wheel is unused and there’s a jack and tools, plus a cut-off for the twin batteries but no compressor evident, and the gas struts are too weak to hold the lid open.

    Inside, the smart vinyl looks original and the carpets are probably repros. The headlining is excellent and the original Blaupunkt radio still works, as does the clock. The windows work, but slowly. The motor is clean and tidy, with its shroud painted body colour. It wears new exhausts and heat exchangers, plus there are fresh Nylocs and oil-return pipes. It also has the later hydraulic cam-chain tensioners fitted, a typical Autofarm touch. The oil is clean, and the filter is marked 14.5.17 and 584km.

    The injected flat-six starts after a brief churn and settles to a slowish tickover. It behaves just as a healthy small-bumper 911 should, with a taut, supple ride, no suspension clonks and that wonderfully communicative steering, tracking straight and with smooth brakes that don’t pull. When warm, it shows slightly more than the expected 4bar of oil pressure at 4000rpm – about 4.5 – and feels peppier than a standard 165bhp 2.4E, so it may have been rebuilt with extra enthusiasm or S cams. Excellent.

    This sweet 911 comes with a comprehensive history file, American and European manuals and a spare key, plus MoT until June.

    SUMMARY

    EXTERIOR Fine paint; a few polish marks
    INTERIOR Some new; all wearing well
    MECHANICALS Very healthy rebuilt engine

    VALUE 6/10
    For Super condition; goes well
    Against Not the original (darker) colour, but #Viper-Green is nicer

    SHOULD I BUY IT?
    If you want a highly original Porsche 911, as good as an S, it should be on your list. The similar, ex-John Fitzpatrick car sold at auction for similar money, but was poor cosmetically.
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    Ben Barry
    Ben Barry joined the group Classic Porsche 911
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    CAR: #Chevrolet-Nomad / #GM / #1957-Chevrolet-Nomad / #Chevrolet /

    Year of manufacture #1957
    Recorded mileage 18,850
    Asking price £37,500
    Vendor Dave Caruso, Hertfordshire (private sale); tel: 07737 096073

    WHEN IT WAS NEW
    Price $2757
    Max power 185bhp
    Max torque 275lb ft
    0-60mph 12.3 secs
    Top speed 99mph
    Mpg 15

    This rare wagon came to the UK two years ago, imported from California by the vendor. It’s going only because he has too many other cars vying for his time. It’s straight and apparently rot-free under an older repaint. The solid chassis has a few minor knocks, the inner wings and arches are mint. The only flaws were small bubbles at the base of the passenger door. All of the brightwork is present and undamaged, most of it likely original, and the correct Nomad rear script will be on by the time of sale. The front ‘Dagmar’ rubbers are undamaged, plus the wheeltrims are undinged, the centre badges all intact. It wears a sunvisor plus the dash-mounted ‘signal seer’ prism for reading traffic lights. All the windows (sliding at the sides) open and close as they should, and there are H4 lights, plus new exhausts. It sits on Classic radials, with plenty of tread – including the spare, near which we find new rear dampers and a repaired upper mount on the right.

    The 283 is stock apart from a four-barrel Holley, but the original twin-choke Rochester is included. Its coolant is full and green, the oil darkish and mid marks, while the transmission fluid is pink and sweet-smelling. Inside, it’s superb with all the dash trim intact, though the instrument bezels and the steering column shroud are chromed. The seat covers are probably repro items; the driver’s seat base velour is worn threadbare and a tear in the back was due to be fixed. The headlining is excellent and all of the chrome strips are in place. There are electric wipers, auxiliary gauges under the dash, and it has a modern digital radio in the original slot.

    It starts easily, and drives really well for a 60 year old, suggesting that it’s never been significantly apart. There’s plenty of grunt from the V8 and smooth changes from the three-speed Turboglide, though it’s quite lowgeared. It tracks straight, with no clonks from the suspension, and the re-lined brakes are sharp, but they pull slightly to the right. It’s easy to manage and the compact turning circle comes as a surprise. Oil pressure is over 50psi warm when driving, and coolant steady at about 85ºC. The Chevy will be sold UK-registered – its NOVA paperwork is already done.

    SUMMARY

    EXTERIOR Straight; repainted; good trim
    INTERIOR All there and all works; some wear to the driver’s seat
    MECHANICALS In rude health; performs well
    VALUE 7/10

    For Standard and super-cool, with desirable options
    Against Bubbles on offside door

    SHOULD I BUY IT? Well priced compared to similar cars in the US, it’s deceptively usable on UK roads, being about the size of today’s large European cars
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    Ben Barry
    Ben Barry joined the group Detroit Barocco
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