Video: Ken Block’s Gymkhana 4 – Bonus Edit

May 22, 2012

Say what you rightly have to say (and think) about the Ken Block/DC Shoes ‘Gymkhana’ series of spectacular, automotive hoonery… Some call it masturbational and self-congratulating to the point of being absurd and some celebrate the undoubtedly phenomenal driving skills and OTT antics of Mr. Block (and the overall sound/visual production levels) as something we should covet and simply enjoy in this Health ‘n Safety riddled world we’ve become so (worryingly) obsessed with…

Either way, there’s no denying that a newly stripped-back and ‘less-Hollywood’ re-edit of last Summer’s Gymkhana 4 video will entice the interest of even the most stuffy of automotive enthusiasts… This is just flat-out, automotive pornography on an out-of-control level that’s just pure fun and simply ridiculous… Enjoy…!

-Blake J.

Video Tribute: Carroll Shelby and the Cobra

May 15, 2012
As most of you will have probably heard or read by now, we lost an American automotive legend last week – Carroll Shelby passed away resulting in complications from pneumonia… He was 89.

Carroll in the original AC Cobra – the 1962 CSX2000

Responsible for developing the mighty AC Cobra (great feature in last month’s Octane magazine), the Shelby line of high performance Mustangs and lest we forget his heavy involvement with bringing the Ford GT40 to fruition where it swept the limelight away from Ferrari in ’66 by winning Le Mans 1, 2, 3… It subsequently won Le Mans every year to ’69.

The GT40 that crossed the line in 1st place at the legendary 1966 Le Mans

The video below comes courtesy of a ‘Behind The Headlights’ feature/documentary that originally aired on the Speed Channel. At just over 43 minutes in length (edited w/out those annoying US commercials) it comes as an intriguing testament to the die-hard mentality and perseverence of Carroll and all the talented ‘blue collar’ engineers that developed and assisted with the birth of the Cobra from its original, humble British roots to the flame-spitting, Le Mans-entered Daytona Cobra Coupe…
Enjoy… 😉
Rest in peace Carroll…
Also, for those wishing to own a Carroll Shelby-approved ‘continuation’ of the original Cobra Coupe (amongst other ’60s Ford/Chevy Motorsport icons), you simply can’t go wrong in checking yourself into one of the incredibly beautiful (and detail-ridden) examples built by South African-based Superformance. Some tasty examples of their stunning recreations below…

The Superformance Corvette Grand Sport Roadster

Their Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe…

And their exquisite GT40 recreation…

Blake J.

Mustang Shelby 1000: Limited Edition 1,100HP ‘Stang For The Insane

March 28, 2012

If the recently launched 650 bhp Mustang Shelby GT500 has you crying out for even more power to twist through the live rear axle of Ford’s increasingly belligerent musclecar, then perhaps you’ll want to remove the lollipop from your mug and steer your sights towards this new creation from Shelby: The Shelby 1000.

Available in two states of tune – 950 bhp in ‘standard’ tune or 1,100 bhp in full-on ‘track’ tune – the Shelby 1000 marks the 50th anniversary of the first time Carroll Shelby slotted a big V8 into a small AC way back in ’62 and will have its official debut at the upcoming New York Auto Show.

Starting with the new GT500 as a base, Shelby completely strips the 5.4L V8 and adds a new crankshaft, camshaft, valve springs, new conrods and pistons, ports the cylinder heads, upgrades the exhaust and cooling systems and tops it all off by replacing the supercharger with a Kenne Bell 3.6L supercharger…

The openly faked/photoshopped 'lift-off' pic, compliments of Shelby themselves...

For the track-only 1,100 bhp full-on-nutter version, the tuning goes even further with American Racing headers, a Borla 3-inch exhaust and a Whipple 4.0L supercharger rounding out the madness.

Onto the handling upgrades; you get new anti-roll bars and firmer bushes along with new suspension uprights. Eibach adjustables, new control arms and a Watts link system also make the list. The brakes receive six-piston calipers up front and four-piston units out back while the aero mods include an aggressively vented and bulging hood (to contain all of that power, y’see…) along with a new front splitter, sideskirts and rear diffuser. The rear-end is also replaced with a 9-inch unit and is mated to an aluminium driveshaft.

Quite why you’d spend $149,995 (yes, you read that correctly) for even more power to be (arguably) wasted through the rear tires is beyond this writer’s grasp of motoring reason but hey, some people get absolutely enthralled by the prospect of owning such a thing, purely for schoolyard-levels of bragging rights, one could very easily (and rightly) assume. Only 100, in total, will be made.

And it’s also worth mentioning that the $149,995 does not include the base GT500 that you’ll have to give Shelby as a donor car in order to receive all of the above upgrades. If you’d prefer Shelby to do all of the work from scratch, then that’ll set you back a smidge over $200,000… and hopefully a pill to ingest that blanks-out the fact that you paid that much $ for a Mustang…

There are very few cars on the market nowadays that any motoring enthusiast might consider ‘kind of ridiculous’… add this to that list please.

(Promo-vid from the Road & Track folks…)

-Blake J.

Turbos in F1: Documentary Highlights Its Birth

March 26, 2012

A fascinating 2-part period-era documentary here from the 1980s focusing on the emerging computerized presence in F1. As the narrator aptly puts it – “Gone are the oily rags and the flat-capped amateurs… Here, computers, rubber, metalogy, synthetics, electronics and aerodynamics consume fortunes…”

Many have sustained that it was this exact movement/moment in F1 when the heavy focus on decimal-obsessed, precisional accuracy replaced the ‘fun’ aspect of racing… Few would argue that it definitely signalled the end of an era and the beginning of a new one that resides to this day though.

At nearly 2 hours in length (in 2 parts), it’s a bit of a long-haul, but I cannot stress how interesting this documentary is in exposing the newfound troubles, clashes and endless headaches that permeated throughout the sport in the ’80s when these technologies were new and fresh yet bewilderingly complicated for their creators…

Jean-Pierre Jabouille in the Renault of 1977 - the first-ever (yet highly problematic) Turbo F1 car


-Blake J.

Car Commercials: When Cars Started… erm, Talking

January 19, 2012

The 1980’s were undeniably desperate and challenging times for the various American automakers. Ever since the previous decade’s fuel-crisis and the follow-up onslaught of frugally economical (and lightweight/well-built) cars from Japan, Korea and Europe showing up on Dealer forecourts (and eventually owner’s driveways), the American automaker was forced to change and adapt with the times or be left out wondering what happened to their once-burgeoning command of the home-market.

K.I.T.T. made it alright for cars to voice-up their opinions and concerns.

Yet as the 80’s wore on and the ‘Big-3’ of the North American auto-landscape caught on (sort of) to the public’s desires and wants and subsequently dished out lines of wheezing, comically-sprung and legislatively-enforced under-powered vehicles, the overall mood of the automotive arena (as mirrored in the advertisements of the day) started to… shift…. in a rather strange and almost unsettling way.

Herbie the Love Bug - Genesis

Suddenly, cars from all walks of makes were awarded oddly bespoke identities and even started voicing their way into owner’s daily-driven rituals (step forward, yappy Nissan 300zx of the late-80’s). The car commercials of the time even went one step further with this odd phenomenon…

Here we have two shining examples of this ‘new and playful identity’ via Ford in 1986 when vehicular advertisements were cresting the brink of becoming absolutely ridiculous…

-Blake J.

Photos of the Day: Ferrari at Le Mans – 1969 (+video)

December 13, 2011

The 1969 Le Mans 24HR race was the stuff of legends. Before the race even started, many had bagged Porsche to win outright victories with its impressive (yet controversial) fleet of 908 and 917 long-tails. Ford had already performed a hat-trick at Le Mans with their 3rd victory in-a-row from the previous year’s 1968 race, so Porsche (along with Matra and to some extent, Ferrari) were adament in knocking Ford off of the top-spot for outright victories in 1969.

Ferrari entered two 312P Berlinettas (essentially F1 cars dressed-up in different bodies) driven by Perdo Rodriguez/David Piper (#18) and Chris Amon/Peter Schetty (#19) but unfortunately both failed to finish the race – the Amon/Schetty car being forced to retire on the very first lap after John Woolfe crashed his Porsche 917 (sadly, killing him) which subsequently dislodged its fuel-tank, of which the Ferrari drove straight over top of and exploded in the process.

The race came down to the final laps with Jacky Ickx (in the same Le Mans-winning Ford GT40 from the year before) doing lap-after-lap battle with Hans Herrmann in his Porsche 908, both of them exchanging the lead position on each lap. At the final turn, Jacky was able to take advantage of the Porsche’s ailing brakes and out-breaked Hans in his 908, coming out ahead in the final turn and winning Le Mans 1969 by mere seconds.

I’ve always loved the fact that Jacky Ickx made a subtle statement against the traditional sprint-to-your-car-and-get-in-and-go start of the Le Mans by merely strolling over to the GT40 when the flag dropped. He then calmly got in, buckled himself up and casually drove off… and, of course, in last place.

Ickx winning by mere seconds...

*** There’s a great DVD out there from Duke called ‘Le Mans 1969 – La Ronde Infernale’ that I highly recommend for your motoring DVD library, by the way. In the meantime, here’s the uploaded YouTube version of it… Enjoy.

Part 1:

 Part 2:

Part 3: 

Part 4:

-Blake J.

Forgotten For Good: The ’74-’78 Ford Mustang II

December 12, 2011

From within the vast, long halls of the Better-left-unsaid files of American motoring comes this: The truly terrible ’74-’78 Mustang II.

Lee Iacocca - mastermind of the original 60's Ponycar, proudly displaying his new 'little jewel of a car'

When the fuel crisis of the early-’70s sounded the inevitable death-knell for big-block, mega-horsepowered V8 engines within the automotive industry, Ford was in the same camp as everyone else by initiating the fleet-wide downsizing efforts and subsequently harsh, power-sapping emissions controls that basically choked and neutered any ‘performance’ that may have existed in the first place. Gone was the 100-octane fuel and 325+ bhp Cobra Jet engines of recent latter days and in place was 87-octane lighter-fluid powering an asthmatic Pinto-sourced 4-cylinder engine dispelling a horrifically depressing 88 bhp. If you craved more power (and you would), Ford could offer you up a 2.8L ‘Cologne’ V6 sourced from Ford of Europe – gee, thanks…

The first year that saw the Mustang gain a 4-cyl. engine - no V8 was on offer

Throughout the mid-1970s leading up to the early ’80s, the onsluaght of ‘fake’ musclecars (what with their fake air-scoops that scooped nothing and tarted-up graphics promising ‘exciting’ motoring) didn’t exactly help matters either. The sting of industry-wide downsizing had bitten hard and nowhere was this more evident than with Ford’s attempts to glamourize and illusion-ize the depressing fact that their Ponycar’s damaged reputation was now a mere shadow of its former self.

The 1976 model with the 'performance pack' option - looks fast. Wasn't...

In 1975, Ford attempted to regain some of their former glory by bringing back the option of a V8 engine, but by then the 302 cu. in. motor was only able to chuck out a paltry 122 bhp – a new low for the legendary small block that had seen it carry 271 bhp just ten years earlier. The debilitating emissions equipment imposed by the Federal Government was made even worse by the fact that almost all of the American automakers were trying to gain economical fuel/emissions figures from 1960s engines – engines that were never designed for fuel economy in the first place.

Ford clung to their new creation though and marched on with this automotive catastrophe – in 1976 they introduced a ‘performance package’ option that saw a rather gaudy ‘Cobra II’ graphics pack (complete with iconic twin racing-stripes) emblazoned across their wheezing, still single-tail-piped embarrassment. 1977 saw the visuals (remember, there was no more performance) take on an even-more pronounced presence with loud, fibreglass air-dams, a chin-spoiler and a hood scoop that didn’t actually scoop anything. This was the act of dressing-up a polished turd taken to all-new heights (and lows)… Or so everyone thought….

The hit TV show, Charlie's Angels, saw Farrah Fawcett's character glamourize Ford's ailing creation

1978 was to be the ultimate low for the ailing, burnt-out Disco days of the Mustang. With the introduction/final-blow of the ‘King Cobra’, Ford must have surmised that buyers enjoyed the feeling of looking as if they were going fast while not exactly doing so – this was a page in the Mustang’s history that saw it borrow inspiration from the flashy, decal-identifying Pontiac Trans Am of the time. GM had a flame-belching chicken splashed across the hood of its ‘sportscar’ while Ford opted for a Cobra seemingly spewing out beams of venom – good comedy, that.

The final act - The King Cobra

Mercifully, the Mustang II’s existence came to an end after the 1978 model year after 5000+ models of the King Cobra were built, leaving behind a chapter in the once-proud Ponycar’s legacy that will forever be looked upon as the era best left forgotten.

-Blake J.

Pic of the Day: 1966 Ford Mustang GT Fastback

December 5, 2011

Not a lot to add here, really… What a gorgeous car. Love how the red pin-stripes on the tires and lower sills work so well against the grey/granite paintwork.

Le droooolll…

-Blake J.

A.I. Coffee Break: 1980 Scottish Rally Video

November 23, 2011

An excellent-quality 2-part video here with outstanding footage and sounds representing the era just prior to the 4WD revolution in Rallying (spearheaded by the Audi Quattro) and the subsequent introduction by the FIA of the famed Group B regulations for 1982.

Witness the flying Finns, Hannu Mikkola and Ari Vatanen, slinging and slithering their tail-wagging Ford Escort RS1600’s throughout the rugged Scottish forests and highlands. Stig Blomqvist showing his spectacular driving aplomb in his front-wheel-drive Saab 99 Turbo. Tony Pond reining-in his vicious, V8-engined Triumph TR7. Henri Toivonen writhing his Talbot Sunbeam Lotus throughout the stages despite mechanical failures and punctures… Toyotas, Opels, etc… The intimacy of the captured footage is eye-opening to say the least.

Yet what I love most about this era of Rallying is the general lackadaisical approach to interviews, interactions with fans and the various mechanical maladies – these drivers would soon be propelled onto the International scene with increased pressure from big-budget sponsorships and manufacturer commitments. In a way, these pre-Group B years just prior to the massive 80’s Rally explosion almost come across as a parting glimpse of a more innocently cloaked time of fun and friends before everything became a lot more serious. Enjoy.

Part 1

Part 2

-Blake J.

POTD/Spotlight: Ford GT in iconic Gulf Colours

November 18, 2011

When Ford unveiled their modern-day re-interpretation of the 1960’s Le Mans-dominating/Ferrari-slaying GT40 back in 2004 (reborn as the ‘GT’), it bowled over the crowds with its beautifully similar lines and near-identical dimensions to that of the iconic original. It was little bit wider, a little bit taller (by 3 in.) and a little less lairy than that of the be-scooped, original raucous racer, but there was no doubt that Ford had nailed a winner with its supercharged 550 bhp V8 leviathan (650 bhp with some tasty Ford-sanctioned upgrades).

Accolades and group-test awards came pouring in. It even managed to bag Evo Magazine’s coveted Car of the Year acolade back in 2005, beating out the likes of a certain Ferrari F430 for the crown. Seeing as how production of Ford’s GT ended just over 5 years ago with 4,038 being made, your chance to bag one now with relatively low miles on the clock will be a relative dawdle… though, if I’m to be honest, I’d be sorely tempted to track down one of the rarer light-blue and orange GTs painted in those race-bred Gulf colours…

For those that hanker after an exquisitely-built near-identical replica of the 60’s original GT40, there’s always the South African-based Superformance who will build you one to your own personal spec and desires. I’ve always enjoyed this Fifth Gear vid of Tiff Needell blasting around South Africa in the Superformance GT40…

-Blake J.

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