Motoring.guru Blog Page 12
29th August 2018
More reminiscing - 1980s Subaru XT Turbo 1800
It was an autumn day in 1985 when as a young lad riding my Yamaha FS1E moped up Cornwall Road, Hatch End as fast as it would go, trying to get to my YTS garage job on time that I first laid my eyes on a Subaru XT Turbo.
I'm sure my jaw dropped inside my old AGV full face helmet, as it was as if a vehicle had just landed from space, and not only that, it was parked on 'our' forecourt, a place normally home to the antiquated Ladas and Reliant three wheelers that 'we' mainly dealt with.
The XT was a fabulous wedge shape, resplendent in bright metallic blue, with a white underbelly, pop up headlights, twin exhaust tailpipes, smooth modern wheel trims, and modern 80s graphics stating: 'XT', 'Turbo' and '4WD'!
I parked up the 'fizzy' and rushed inside to find out what this futuristic craft was all about.
It was possibly in one of the first batches of XTs in the UK, and as 'our' Stanmore sales department was considered a London Subaru dealer, they were allocated a few and this one was already sold and at the humble service and parts department for it's pre-delivery inspection.
This car really was a revelation to me. As I've said the garage I'd recently started working at on Margaret Thatcher's youth training scheme mainly handled cars I considered to be embarassing, such as Ladas, Reliants and Dafs, but they were also franchised dealers for Hyundai and Subaru. I'd seen a few modern looking L-series Subarus coming through, even one or two Turbo estates, but nothing like this at 'our' garage.
It took a little while for more XT's to come our way, but I remember the managing director had a demonstrator in metallic red to use (alongside his collection of Mercedes SLs) fairly early on.
By 1987 I was a fully fledged employee in the parts department and workshop, and by now with a full car licence I got to drive many different cars including the odd enigmatic (even then) XT, and they were quite something with their turbocharged 1800cc flat fours compared to the staple diet of Lada Riva 1200s. I remember getting a telling off for driving a customers white automatic XT rather enthusiastically, and being seen by said customer and then getting away with wearing much of the tread off the front tyres of another metallic red one- with rare manual transmission together with it's switchable 2WD it was a teenagers wheelspin dream machine.
It wasn't all sci-fi and fantasy though, we had two very heavily crashed XT's come through the yard gates, one written off immediately and the other eventually written off, I believe after the bodyshop owner was driven to some kind of breakdown trying to get it straight. Mechanically they seemed pretty tough like all Subarus but the workshop did change a full engine on one after it came in on a flat bed truck with a connecting rod sticking through the alloy block, having been allowed to run out of oil by it's owner...
19th August 2018
Brands Hatch Festival Italia
First time for me to the Festival Italia at Brands Hatch. I bought the tickets and got accepted as a display car way back in February, but it came around quickly.
It was a very early start as we had to be inside before 8.30am and had a drive of around 70 miles to get there, but it was all worth it.
Lots of fantastic Italian machinery on display and lots of great racing on the track from 'road' Ferraris (308-360 era), vintage F1 cars, Italian Vs Inglese and the Alfa Romeo BTCC races which included a very quick Alfetta GTV, 156s, 147s, 75s and Abarth Puntos!
A personal highlight was that the display cars got to drive a display lap (or two!) around the circuit at the end of the day, and so I can say that my family and I have driven my 25 year old Alfa around the Brands Hatch circuit.
Cars included in the picture montage below include: Piaggio Ape 'pizza truck', Lancia Thema 16v Turbo, Fiat Punto Bertone cabriolet, Lancia Beta Coupe, Fiat/ Abarth X1/9, Lancia Delta HF Turbo, Lombardi Abarth, Fiat Strada Abarth, Lancia Aurelia, and my Alfa 33 16v.
Early August 2018
Enjoyed a short holiday in San Remo, Italy and as ever I was on the lookout for any exciting cars and bikes.
As our taxi came off the main road onto the windy road down to the coast the first car we met was an early mk1 Fiat Panda, and then even more thrilling was that a familiar sounding and looking motorcycle came around a bend and it was a fabulous late 1970s Moto Morini Sport being ridden enthusiastically!
Over the five day stay I saw over a dozen different Mk1 Pandas including a Sisley 4x4. They remain in abundance in Italy, but I also noticed quite a few Fiat Seicentos, many in very good condition, which I can see being the next popular Italian 'peasant' transportation over the next decade or two.
Other notable cars spotted and included in the photo montage below were an immaculate Fiat Brava, a very rare Fiat Duna Weekend (Uno estate) and a Lancia Ypsilon.
I also saw an almost as new condition early Lancia Delta in light metallic blue, but couldn't grab a shot in time.
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