Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Supercharged MR2

I must admit I have a soft spot for the Mk 1 Toyota MR2 after owning one. But when I was looking for one (some 10 years ago) I noticed a number of adverts for a supercharged version, I had always assumed that these were after market modifications so steered clear, instead buying the 124bhp naturally aspirated version sold in the UK (the blue one below). I then discovered to my dismay, that these were factory produced!!!!! And what’s worse they were not much more that the one I had bought. Produced in the late production run of the Mk1 from 1987-89, the supercharged unit produced 145bhp and went to 60 in 6.7s, not bad for the late 80’s, especially from a 1.6ltr engine. The only difference (apart from the badges) was 2 bumps on the engine cover and larger grills to accommodate the intercooler mounted on top of the engine.

I have to agree with the press at the time that the handling of the MR2 was fantastic, a real driver’s car, with none of the usual “modern” driver aids such as ABS, traction control or power steering but mid engined, rear wheel drive and light. It was like Toyota decided to build a back to basics car to compete with the MX5 with a bit of a super car twist, and did a damn fine job. The supercharged version being the icing on the cake.

My old MR2-

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Porsche 912

In my naivety I thought that once the 911 was the car of choice for the Porsche machine its humble VW beginings were a distant memory, but recently my eyes have been opened to the 912. Produced along side the 911 between 1965 and 1969 it even outsold the legendary 911 in late 60's. Why you might ask, well the large flat 6 hung out of the back had given the 911 and bad reputation in the handling stakes. The 912 though had a much lighter flat 4, giving it a engine sound that harks back to its Beetle predecesor. Although the engine simirlarities end there, engine came out of the 356. With less pendulum action around the twisty stuff it was the drivers car of choice at the time, well atleast the car your almost guarenteed wont meet a tree down a country lane backwards anyway. To top it all off it was cheaper, sold as the entry level Porsche as the time.

But as history is written by the victors and VW spent the last 50 years sorting out the tail action of the 911 the low power 912 was lost with the improvements and an increasing pedigree of both the Porsche brand and the 911 flagship.

Today the 912 with modern tinkering to its engine now can produce the same power as its 911 stablemate of the same period but still with that better handling, all this and its much cheaper than the 911. And to be honest apart from the badge on the back could you tell the difference????

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Talbot/Matra Rancho

When I was a young lad with my obligatory corgi car collection, well Quality Street tin full of them, there was one that stood out, my model of the Rancho. It was the coolest looking thing, off road looks but more tonka toy looking. Jump forward to 2007 and a run with the lads to the Classic Car Show at the NEC in Birmingham, the car we all stopped and spent some time with was a red fully restored Rancho (the blurred pic below) and the one thing we all said was “when I was younger I so wanted one of those”.