Archive for ‘Classic Car’

September 10, 2013

Actual Size

The Mini: surely Issigonis’ shining gem. And what a diamond it is too. Where the version 2.0 from the good folks at BMW has gone from strength to strength the original is a hard one to beat! Wide wheelbase with smaller wheels on the corners of a shorter chassis and that Series A Morris engine turned sideways, the smaller and very functional proportions with good handling were apparent from the get-go.

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It went on to be as iconic as The Beatles in the sixties; a swingin’ time for all. The roof was oft emblazoned with the union flag. Front spots reinforced the round-eye headlights and aided nighttime driving as well as celebrated the sweeping victories of several Monte Carlo rallies through the sixties (until the French changes the rules citing uncompetitive lighting…).

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Like the Morris Minor of yesterdays notes, the Mini also came in variations, a small van, the wood framed Countryman… “Ouch! You’ll gi’ yersel’ a spelk wi’ that boot youth!”

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Also available was the Jeep like Mini Moke, and the sportier engines Cooper S. Racer of both two and four wheels, John Coopers collaboration with BMC to produce a highly competitive performance motor car.

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The best view of a Mini! Behind its go-cart handling wheel, centrally located speedo and 360° all round clear view. One of the cars I learned to drive in was a latter model Cooper, a racing green late 80’s model. One of the best cars I ever drove.

September 9, 2013

Not quite a lesser car…

The Morris Minor, or Moggie as it was affectionately known, was a popular, inexpensive, compact family car. Easy to maintain, purely functional and fairly easy on the eyes is was manufactured between 1948 and 1971 seeing over 1.3 million produced. The blighty VW Beetle or Citroen deux chevaux. Its wholesome lines came from the mind of Alec Issigonis (the chief designer of The Mini). Like some matronly nurse it took to the British roads like the proverbial duck to water.

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It saw many versions including the gnatty soft-top convertible seen above as well as the classic wood framed estate Traveler and delivery van. Both below. That battleship grey colour is pure blighty mid-fifties and a holiday to Llandudno.

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Diminutive power was conjured up from compact sub litre power units derived from the predecessor Morris Eight, however early engine bay layout is wide enough for an envisioned flat four (like a Beetle) but the sidevalve inline four is utilized. Here is a very early MM looking lively in its original green.

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The Lucas battery is bigger than the 27 bhp engine. Probably heavier too! Here’s another pristine engine bay, everything is obvious and with room for any home mechanic to keep his transport on the road. This is the A Series overhead valve inline four which went on, with ongoing evolution, to see half a century’s production in The Mini. Sir Alec spun it 90° to ensure that compact cars place in history.

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This ‘motor’ was developed by famed engine designer Harry Weslake who would go on to design the powerplants of Jaguars (later this week) and had indeed been involved in the Rolls Royce Merlin engine – arguable one if the Best sounding engines ever – especially at speed from a Supermarine Spitfire.

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Look at this… Lines like the platinum tress’d Diana Dors, who’d not get a smile whilst adjusting your tweed cap and donning your string back drivers gloves… 
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And besides it’s the car used by Keith and Candice Marie on their rural trip in the much loved Mike Leigh drama Nuts in May.

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CANDICE MARIE

Keith?

KEITH

Mmm.

CANDICE MARIE

You know you always tell me to chew everything 72 times?

KEITH

Mmm.

CANDICE MARIE

Well I don’t think that can be right, because, um for instance you’re chewing nuts now, and they have to be chewed 72 times because they’re very hard. But earlier on I was eating mushroom, and I only got to 31 and it slipped down my throat quite naturally. So it doesn’t always have to be 72 times does it?

KEITH

[long pause while chewing] I think the important thing is to uh, use your discretion.

September 8, 2013

British Car Show

Car Week! On Geordie Biker blog this week. The Palatine vintage British car show was held today in the spacious Harper College campus lots.

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Numerous examples of all the popular marques were represented. I’ll cover them as the week progresses but the included: Jaguar, MG, Triumph, Rolls Royce, Austin Healey, Mini, Morris Minor, Lotus, and Morgan to name several. Plenty of them were in exceptional mechanical condition. Dedicated owners indeed.

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As I kept walking around I saw another, then another model to put on a desire list… But as with all things British and antiquated much effort is needed to keep them on the road. A motorcycle is hard enough!

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A well tooled garage space, time and funding all required for success.

September 20, 2011

VP’s Bike ~ The Bonnie

A neat thin strip vertical ad highlighting the sublime Bonneville as the sporty choice of business executives. Looming office buildings flank the parked ride between lesser ‘motorcars’. It’s rival of the time was of course the E Type Jag; serious competition indeed!

Still a damn fine machine…