Monday, March 31, 2014

Lyonheart Production Update

Lyonheart K
Photo courtesy Lyonheart Cars Ltd.
Those of you who’ve got one on order already know, but for the rest of us, seems production on the Lyonheart K will be delayed. According to a press release from last month—yes, I’m a bit behind—the Lyonheart K, originally slated to be produced sometime this year or the first half of next year, will be another six to twelve months late.

According to management, they’ve decided to look for a new base vehicle in order to incorporate new technology. CEO Robert Palm said, "We believe it is far more important for our customers to be taking advantage of the most recent developments in automotive technology, especially in this price range, than being able to receive their car earlier. The Lyonheart K has a timeless design, which will remain identical in spite of the structural changes on the car."

In the interim, they’re still taking orders. Even though I won’t be buying any of the planned run of 250 cars, I hope they do end up building them. Gotta admit, their increasingly vague production schedule makes me a little uneasy.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Classics at Beaulieu: 1970 TVR Vixen S3

1970 TVR Vixen S3
Photo by Kate Tompkins
If you like your British sports cars hand-built and rare, this Vixen S3 at the National Motor Museum fits the bill nicely. According to its information plaque, the Vixen S1 was introduced in 1967, followed by the S2 in 1968. The S3 was only made from October 1970 to April 1972, and only 168 were produced.

Under that fibre-glass body is a 4-cylinder Ford Capri GT engine capable of 86 bhp at 5,500 rpm. The asking price when new was £1,245, but that was in component form—you still had to put it together. This one’s been rebuilt by its current owner and looks pretty good. Today’s price? I saw one online for just under £20,000 pounds.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Do It Yourself Auto Chip and Scratch Repair

Touchup Paint Pens
Photo courtesy Automotive Touchup
Had a press release come across my desk recently for car paint in a pen, and while I haven’t tried the product yet myself {the thought of touching the car with sandpaper terrifies me), I thought I’d pass the information on for those who might be interested.

The products are called Touchup Paint Pens, and they’re put out by Automotive Touchup. Basically, you go to their website, put in your year, make and model, and find the right paint for your vehicle—they say they can match 60,000 original factory colours. I was easily able to find the one I would need, but was also able to find paint for a 1942 Chevy, and a 1955 Volkswagen.

Order one each of Primer Paint Pen (if you’re down to bare metal), Basecoat Paint Pen (that’s the one that matches your vehicle) and High Gloss Clearcoat Paint Pen. Once the pens arrive, follow the directions on the website. They have lots of example videos you can watch, too.

If you’re dealing with something larger than chips and scratches, Automotive Touchup also offers touch-up bottles and spray paint cans.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bentley Teases with SUV Photo

Bentley SUV
Photo courtesy Bentley Motors Limited
Back in September of last year, I said that Bentley had confirmed its concept SUV would become reality. Now they’re teasing us with a photo of the new vehicle, which is expected to arrive at dealerships in 2016. Doesn’t reveal much, does it? Not really any more than the initial drawing.

However, their press release did say, apart from again promising “the most luxurious and powerful SUV on the market,” that they expected to sell at least 3,000 SUVs a year. That may not sound like a lot until you realize that Bentley’s total vehicle sales for 2013, their best year ever, were only 10,120 cars.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Subaru Incentives for 2014 Targa Newfoundland Competitors and Staff

Thinking about taking part in this year’s Targa Newfoundland? You might want to drive or lease a Subaru.

Why? Earlier this year, Subaru Canada’s Brian Hyland, Director, After Sales, announced an incentive program for competitors, their immediate families, and Targa event staff. It’s a pretty sweet program, too, and makes sense, since Subaru’s been involved one way or another with the Targa Newfoundland since the beginning. Including not just Subaru-driving competitors but event staff is a nice touch.

Here are the details from the official press release:

  • Participants and/or any immediate family member (mother, father, spouse, son or daughter) who purchase or lease a new Subaru from January 1 – December 31, 2014 will be eligible for a $750.00 rebate. This rebate is also being made available to the Targa event staff. 
  • Participants who use any model of Subaru for entry into any of the 4 main categories within Targa Newfoundland (Open, Modern, Classic, Grand Touring) will receive a $500.00 Entrant Award which goes towards their entry fee.
  • Performance awards are also included in the program. These would apply towards Subaru entrants in any of the 4 competition categories: Open, Modern, Classic and Grand Touring.  A Subaru that achieves first place in any of the categories will receive a cash award of $2,000.00, second place $1,500.00 and third place $1,000.00.

[SOURCE: Newfoundland International Motorsports Limited]

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Perils of Potholes

While potholes could be considered a sign of spring, they’re not a very welcome one. Some I’ve seen lately look big enough to swallow an entire wheel. Obviously the best thing to do with potholes is to avoid them by looking ahead, but in case you spot them too late for evasive manoeuvres, here’s some advice from Allstate Roadside Services on how to avoid damage:

Make sure your tires are properly inflated.

Leave plenty of room in front of your vehicle so you can avoid potholes without getting into a crash.

If you can't avoid a pothole, slow down before you hit it and don't brake. Braking can actually cause more damage.

When driving over the pothole, hold the steering wheel firmly to avoid losing control.

Use caution and drive slowly when driving over a puddle of water or through the snow because it might be hiding a particularly deep pothole.

That all sounds like good advice, though I’m starting to think keeping your tires inflated is the stock answer to everything (traction, braking, mileage…). Unfortunately, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of chances over the next few weeks to put it all into practice.

[SOURCE Allstate Insurance Company via]

Monday, March 17, 2014

Classics at Beaulieu: 1968 MGC GT

1968 MGC GT
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Unlike the 1963 Hillman Imp I wrote about in my last post about the National Motor Museum, this pale blue MGC GT is a rare car, with only 4,457 of the GT version ever built. The MG Owners Club website says only 9,002 MGCs were built at all (the others were roadsters).

The MGC was meant to replace the Austin Healey 3000, which was no longer selling as well as it had been. While you can find a much more detailed explanation on the MG Owners Club site, basically it was decided to stuff the engine from the Austin Healey 3000 into the body of an MGB (obviously, there had to be changes made to both). The result was good for cruising, and had a top speed of 120 mph, but didn’t have the MGB’s sporty moves and handling.

This particular model has just 20,000 miles on it and is in “extremely original” condition.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Mail Order Morgan

Morgan Three-Wheeler
Photo courtesy Hammacher Schlemmer
Those of us in North America who would love to own a Morgan Three-Wheeler no longer have to go to the UK to acquire one. Thanks to Hammacher Schlemmer, it’s possible to get an authentic Morgan here. It can be ordered in eight different colours and two different leather styles. The price is $59,000 (I’m assuming that doesn’t include shipping as that would vary depending on where you lived) and it’s listed as “Canada Duty Free.” The cars are built to order by the Morgan Motor Company and shipped over. So if you’re looking for a cool cross between a car and a motorcycle, with a vintage look, check it out. British racing green for me, I think.

Here’s a description from the catalogue, for those unfamiliar with the Morgan: “This rear-wheel drive vehicle seats its driver and passenger within an aerodynamic aluminum ‘bullet’ hull and a padded leather aircraft-style cockpit. Powered by a 2.0 liter, 80-hp S&S V-twin engine that provides 4 1/2-second 0-60 mph acceleration and a top speed of 115 mph, it provides superior track and hill performance with the classic growl of a bygone era without the temperamental performance of cars from the period. Unlike vehicles that mollycoddle drivers with power steering or automatic transmission, this one provides yesteryear's thrilling experience of applying effort when gripping the leather-clad wheel or engaging the manual brakes. Its 5-speed manual transmission provides reliable downshifting and its rugged front tires grip the road for precise cornering. Meeting U.S. motortricycle classification, its 94" wheel base results in little to no body roll during turns - rollbars and seat belts provide additional safety measures.”


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Can’t Wait a Year for a Custom-Built Batmobile? How About a DIY Gotham Roadster?

Earlier this week I wrote about the replica Batmobiles available through Hammacher Schlemmer. They’re seriously cool but not exactly cheap and there’s a long build time. I can’t guarantee the build time would be any shorter, but if you’re a hands-on type, you might want to check out the ’66 Gotham Roadster kits available through Batrodz.

You will need a donor car on which to build your Gotham Roadster. Batrodz suggests using a 1973-1979 Lincoln continental town car. Failing that, you need a car with a 127” wheel base. You then buy a Level #1 or Level #2 kit (some of the assembly has been done on the Level #2) and follow the directions in the assembly manual. The body is hand laid fibreglass. The Level #1 kit will run you $6,500 (not including shipping), the Level #2 kit is another $1,500 on top of that.

Kits include all the various body parts, front and rear Plexiglas canopy, and even a rear turbine tube.

And if there’s more space in your garage, they also have kits for a ’66 Gotham Cycle.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Own Your Own Batmobile

Photo courtesy Hammacher Schlemmer
When I was a kid, I thought TV’s Batmobile was pretty cool. Actually, I still do. So I was intrigued when I saw that Hammacher Schlemmer was offering replica Batmobiles for sale. Officially licensed, roadworthy replicas. Sigh.

They’re built on a Lincoln chassis, appropriately enough (the original TV Batmobile was a Lincoln concept car modified by George Barris). Under the hood is a 383 Blueprint Crate engine which puts out 430 hp. I don’t know if the original had an automatic transmission, but this one does. It also has all kinds of cool stuff found on the original (not all of it functional), including a propane tank in the rear that gives the illusion of the original’s atomic afterburn. There’s a video on the Hammacher Schlemmerpage where you can see it in action.

Hammacher Schlemmer are careful to note that while the original Batmobile had no rearview mirrors, this one comes with clamp-on side mirrors to make it street legal, and also has a rear video camera. I’m sure Batman would approve.

The price is $200,000 which seems reasonable, all things considered. You can’t have it in a hurry, though, as each one takes almost a year to build. Guess that would allow time to modify the garage into a Batcave. Hmm.