Buy a DIY Caterham Seven for £65 a week

Buy a DIY Caterham Seven for £65 a week

Buy a DIY Caterham Seven for £65 a week

Struggling to find the perfect Christmas present for the tinkerer in your life? Caterham has just announced it will now offer finance on its self-assembly models for the first time.

Previously, Caterham Finance has only been available to buyers of factory-built and pre-owned cars.

The Seven 160, 270, 360 and 420 models are all available in kit form, offering a saving of £3,000 over the ready-built models.

Caterham Cars chief commercial officer David Ridley said: “There has been an increase in customers wishing to build their own Seven in recent years. We are delighted to be able to provide a finance facility to these customers, making owning and building a new Caterham even more attainable.”

Customers will be able to fund the cost of a Seven over 48 months. For example, a self-assembly Seven 160 is available with a deposit of £3,099 and monthly payments of £279 at 19.5% APR Representative, equating to £65 per week, with a final payment of £6,399.

That’s quite a substantial interest rate but, with Caterham suggesting it takes 80 to 100 hours to build a Seven, is there a better petrolhead gift this Christmas?

Vauxhall Astra SCOTY 2015

Vauxhall Astra is Scot­tish Car of the Year 2015

Vauxhall Astra SCOTY 2015The new Vauxhall Astra has been awarded Scottish Car of the Year 2015 by the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers in a big night for the British car brand.

Not only did the Astra win the overall SCOTY gong, it also scooped the Family Car of the Year and Eco Car of the Year awards – and the Vauxhall Viva was also made Scotland’s Compact Car of the Year.


Read more:

Vauxhall Astra review: 2015 first drive

6 ways the new Vauxhall Astra could beat the Ford Focus

Vauxhall: we do NOT cheat emissions tests


Alisdair Suttie, President of the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers, said: “2015 has been an amazing year for new cars and made the judges’ decisions harder than ever, so it is all credit to Vauxhall that its new Astra has won out.

“The Astra sets new standards with the way it drives, its efficiency and the quality of its construction and materials. Not only is it a pleasure to drive, it’s also a resounding endorsement of British workmanship.”

Leon Caruso, Vauxhall’s retail sales director, was a happy man: “Winning the overall SCOTY gives us a huge boost and our retailers in the region will be delighted with the additional success I am sure this will bring to these cars.”

SCOTY 2015 winners

Other brands were celebrating after a successful night in Scotland: Mazda won three category awards with the Mazda 2, MX-5 and CX-3 all winning category awards.

There were several more British-built cars picking up prizes in Scotland: Jaguar’s new XE was made best executive car, the Land Rover Discovery Sport was best diesel car and the Honda Civic Type R was Scotland’s favourite hot hatch of the year.

In a surprise award scoop for the venerable and soon-to-retire 4×4, the Land Rover Defender was also awarded best Used Car of the Year.

Dieselgate may have stopped Volkswagen winning any category prizes, but VW Group cars were still winners: the Audi TT was Scotland’s favourite coupe and the Skoda Super Estate was its best load-lugger.

SCOTY Hall of Fame

  • 1998: Ford Focus
  • 1999: Jaguar S-Type
  • 2000: Audi A2
  • 2001: Jaguar X-Type
  • 2002: Mazda 6
  • 2003: Volvo XC90
  • 2004: Peugeot 407
  • 2005: BMW 3 Series
  • 2006: Jaguar XK
  • 2007: Ford Mondeo
  • 2008: Ford Fiesta
  • 2009: Land Rover Discovery 4
  • 2010: Kia Sportage
  • 2011: Range Rover Evoque
  • 2012: Dacia Duster
  • 2013: Volkswagen Golf
  • 2014: Hyundai i10
  • 2015: Vauxhall Astra
RAC Black Friday

Breakdown risk for online Black Friday deliveries

RAC Black FridayUK fleets are panicking delivery van breakdowns could mean Black Friday buyers have to wait for their Christmas bargains, new research from RAC Truck Rescue has revealed.

It has discovered almost a third of British businesses running fleets struggle to cope with reliability issues – and the sudden spike from Britain’s growing enthusiasm for Black Friday sales will put added pressure on distribution and haulage networks.

Black Friday: Asda cuts price of petrol to less than £1 a litre

“Consumers expect prompt and reliable delivery of the items they have bought online and fleet operators will be preparing for the extra pressure that comes at this time of year,” said head of RAC Truck Rescue Matt Dallaway.

The RAC is warning a sharp drop in temperatures coinciding with Black Friday this year further heighten the risk of breakdowns: last year, RAC Truck Rescue attended more than 100,000 breakdowns, with 10,000 happening in November and December.

No wonder almost half of businesses surveyed by the RAC reckon the cost of maintenance and repairs is a major issue second only to the price of fuel.

Also compounding the risk of Black Friday delivery delays is a shortage of drivers – the Road Haulage Association believes almost 50,000 extra drivers are needed to cope with the ever-increasing demand of online sales.

Black Friday sales are this year expected to pass the £1 billion mark for the first time, and most of them will come from online sales.

Black Friday: Asda cuts price of petrol to less than £1 a litre

Black Friday: Asda cuts price of petrol to less than £1 a litre

Black Friday: Asda cuts price of petrol to less than £1 a litre

Asda has cut the cost of petrol at its 273 filling stations across the UK to 99.7p per litre – despite saying it wouldn’t be taking part in Black Friday deals this year.

It comes after George Osborne refused to increase the cost of fuel duty in this week’s spending review.

Asda President and CEO Andy Clarke said: “The Chancellor’s freeze on fuel duty is what our customers were hoping for. We’re adding a further boost by investing in a three-day fuel price drop meaning drivers can now benefit from fuel as low as 99.7ppl in the crucial run-up to the festive period.

[bctt tweet=”Drivers can now benefit from fuel as low as 99.7ppl in the crucial run-up to the festive period” via=”no”]

It’s the first time petrol prices have dropped below a pound since summer 2009. Asda has said it will offer cheap prices on petrol (99.7p) and diesel (103.7p) as part of a three-day price drop.

On Monday, Asda will revert to a market-leading price of 103.7p per litre on unleaded and 106.7p per litre on diesel.

Clarke added: “We’d urge the Chancellor to continue with a freeze on fuel duty in the March Budget to help maintain discretionary income levels for families.”

The RAC responded by saying we could see further reductions in fuel prices.

RAC Fuel Watch spokesman Simon Williams said: “Due to the latest dip in the crude oil price we had predicted that the most price-competitive fuel retailers would soon be selling petrol for £1 so it is great to see that landmark price is now available across the country at the most expensive time of year.

“Even though this promotion only lasts for three days it will help to bring prices down at forecourts nationwide. While we are some way from seeing the average petrol price reach £1, prices at more and more retailers should be getting ever closer to that figure.”

Scrapping of paper tax discs leads to more unlicensed car on UK roads

Scrapping of paper tax discs leads to more unlicensed cars on UK roads

Scrapping of paper tax discs leads to more unlicensed car on UK roads

The number of untaxed cars on Britain’s roads has more than doubled since the paper tax disc was abolished, according to statistics released by the Department of Transport.

In 2013 the estimated number of unlicensed vehicles in use on UK streets was 210,000 (0.6%), but in 2015 this figure rose to 1.4%.

In total 560,000 of vehicles (1.5%) were unlicensed in 2015. This is the highest level for eight years and equates to £80 million worth of potential revenue that was lost.


Read more:

2015 tax discs selling for thousands online

Road tax reforms could cost country £167m

7 new laws drivers need to know


The rise demonstrates the consequence of the abolition of the paper tax disc, which came into force on 1 October 2014, according to the RAC.

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “These are very worrying and disappointing statistics indeed. Sadly, the concerns we raised about the number of car tax evaders going up at the time the tax disc was confined to history have become a reality.

[bctt tweet=”These are very worrying and disappointing statistics indeed.” via=”no”]

“The RAC believes it is vital that this survey is repeated in 12 months’ time – if not sooner – rather than in the normal two-year period so we can establish once and for all whether the increase is simply a temporary result of the new system.”

The DVLA has responded by saying the new system makes it easier than ever for people to tax their cars.

DVLA Chief Executive Oliver Morley said: “Almost 99% of all vehicles on the road are correctly taxed: that’s around £6 billion in vehicle tax passed to the Treasury every year. We write to every registered vehicle keeper in the UK to remind them when their tax is due and we have introduced a range of measures to make vehicle tax easy to pay. At the same time we are taking action against those who are determined to break the law.”

Retro Road Test: British Motor Heritage MGB

Retro Road Test: British Motor Heritage MGB

Retro Road Test: British Motor Heritage MGB

The MGB is arguably the nation’s most popular classic car. It’s a victim of its own success, though – owners love them, but their popularity means some enthusiasts turn up their noses when they see yet another MGB turning up at a classic car show. We’ve put it through our rigorous retro road test to find out whether it’s deserving of the love it gets, or whether it’s overrated.

Retro Road Test: Skoda Octavia vRS
Retro Road Test: Austin Metro

This example is owned by British Motor Heritage (BMH). The firm was originally established in 1975 as a subsidiary of British Leyland, in an attempt to support owners of classic cars by providing parts created using original tooling. BMH was acquired by BMW as part of its £800 million Rover Group takeover in 1994, before being sold by the Germans in 2001. Since then it’s operated as a private company.

What are its rivals?

What are its rivals?

In its time, the MGB would have been a rival for the likes of the Fiat X1/9 and Triumph Spitfire. The MGB is a more appealing proposition in our eyes, but these rivals will certainly be a rarer sight on the roads. Buyers today might even consider newer classics such as the Mazda MX-5.

What engine does it use?

What engine does it use?

Apart from the special V8 version, all MGBs used the same 1.8-litre B-Series engine. It produced 95hp at most (power was reduced in some versions) – not a lot by today’s standards. Although it was considered a heavy car at the time, 95hp is plenty for a car weighing less than 1,000kg. This example isn’t entirely standard either, using fuel injection rather than the standard carburettors.

What’s it like to drive?

What’s it like to drive?

This is a subject that’s divided opinion in the Motoring Research office. If you’re used to modern cars, the answer is: not very well. The brakes are, naturally, hard work – requiring a big shove of the middle pedal to lose speed, and you soon get into the habit of using gears to slow down.

For a car that can trace its roots back to 1962, however, it handles very well. The rack-and-pinion steering provides the kind of feedback drivers of modern cars can but dream of. It’s a proper sports car driving experience – you sit low down, and its four-cylinder engine creates a pleasing rasp.

What’s really surprising is how torquey the B-series engine is. Most of the time, you can leave it in fourth-gear, flicking the overdrive on and off using the switch on the gearknob. If you do need to change gears, the gear change is a smidgen on the notchy side, but a short throw means it’s not too much of a chore.

Reliability and running costs

Reliability and running costs

Being such a popular classic car, there’s a huge amount of support for the MGB in both the club scene and specialist companies. While there’s no reason why an MGB should be unreliable if it’s looked after and serviced regularly, parts are readily available and you’re unlikely to encounter an issue that isn’t covered in depth on internet forums.

Although the 1.8-litre engine isn’t the most powerful, it will be thirsty by modern standards. Don’t expect to see it easily returning more than 30mpg on a regular basis.

Could I drive it every day?

Could I drive it every day?

Despite this, you’d have to be very committed to drive an MGB every day. Even this very tidy example could soon become a chore: our man Tim tried it on an M25 commute one November evening and complained about how noisy it was on the motorway – not to mention the lack of radio and heavy steering. On the plus side, it’d be easy to make an MGB easier to live with – whether it’s by fitting power steering, a radio, or comfier seats. The overdrive makes things quieter, too…

How much should I pay?

How much should I pay?

MGB values vary dramatically. The GT model is less desirable than the roadster, and people are happy to pay more for the earlier examples with chrome bumpers. You can pick up a ropey rubber-bumpered GT for a couple of grand, but you probably shouldn’t. £6,000 will buy a tidy roadster, or you can double that in the hunt for a restored example.

What should I look out for?

What should I look out for?

Rust. A few minor bubbles on the wings or sills can be hiding much more serious rot – and that can be expensive to sort out. BMH can provide new panels – they’re brand new, made using the original tooling so should fit perfectly, but they’re not cheap. To give you an idea, a steel bonnet from BMH will cost £427.27 (and that’s not including painting or fitting). An aluminium one is more than £700.

Other than that, it’s pretty much the regular classic car precautions. Has it been looked after? Serviced regularly? Are there any modifications – if so, have they done to a good standard, and are they the sort of modifications you’d want? Track day mods won’t be ideal if you’re looking for a car to pootle around in at weekends.

Should I buy one?

Should I buy one?

It depends what you want in a car. If you get your thrills from driving flat-out on country roads, or are looking for a track day car, there are better, newer options out there. If you want a rare classic that’ll get lots of attention, there are lots of slightly leftfield options available. But if you want a British sports car that’s brilliant at pootling around on a sunny day, with a huge support network, the MGB is ideal.

Pub fact

Pub fact

In 1967 MG launched a 3.0-litre straight-six version of the MGB, known as the MGC. It was intended to replace the Austin Healey but soon developed a poor reputation – the heavy engine and new suspension meant it didn’t handle as well as the MGB, and journalists at the time criticised it. It was axed after just two years.

VW emissions scandal has dented faith in car companies but not in diesel

Volkswagen emissions scandal has dented faith in car companies but not in diesel

VW emissions scandal has dented faith in car companies but not in diesel

More than half of motorists (57%) have lost confidence in the environmental claims made by car manufacturers since news of Volkswagen test rigging broke, according to a survey by the RAC.

However, the vast majority of diesel car owners (96%) have no plans to reduce their annual mileage, and just over half don’t think Dieselgate will adversely affect the resale value of their cars. Only 22% of diesel car owners think their car will now be harder to sell on, and only 34% believe the value of their car has gone down.

The VW revelations appear to have heightened concerns about fuel economy more than diesel emissions, with nearly three-quarters (73%) of the 2,565 people surveyed saying they were more concerned about MPG than diesel particulates.

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “It’s clear from our research that despite all the talk about the real world emissions of pollutants from diesel cars and light commercial vehicles exceeding test values, motorists are generally far more concerned about their vehicles’ fuel economy than they are about its emissions of pollutants.

“While motorists are not oblivious to the harmful effects of diesel emissions, they are far more concerned about fuel economy because of the impact this has on household finances.”

Awareness about the European emissions test process has increased since September, with 66% of those asked believing that EU testing is not close enough to real-life driving conditions.

And 55% of people are concerned about the impact of diesel emissions on the air quality where they live. Anxiety about the harmful effects of nitrogen oxide and other diesel particulates has almost doubled from 24% to 43%, even though 15% of people didn’t understand the impact they can have on health.

George Osborne

Spending review 2015: diesel company car drivers will continue to be penalised

George Osborne

Chancellor George Osborne has announced that drivers of diesel company cars will continue to pay an extra 3% in tax following “the slower than expected introduction of more rigorous EU emissions testing”.

Osborne said the Government would continue to support the development of ultra-low emission vehicles, but the planned axe of a 3% diesel car supplement for company car drivers would be delayed until 2021.

RAC urges George Osborne to cut costs for motorists

Previously, plans were in place to drop the supplement – meaning drivers of diesel company cars would pay the same benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax as those with petrol cars emitting the same CO2.

Last night, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) president Gareth Jones urged the Government not to penalise the industry following the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

He said: “Create the conditions that allow us to develop the quality products for which we are world-renowned. Back us to create the jobs, economic growth and prosperity that Britain needs. We have shown we can deliver; work with us to make sure that success continues.”

The Chancellor today announced he’d be spending more than £5 billion on roads maintenance and was creating a £250 million pothole fund. A further £250 million would be invested in Kent’s motorway infrastructure in a bid to relieve some of the congestion caused by Operation Stack.

Osborne also confirmed he would bring forward reforms to the compensation culture around minor motor accident injuries.

He said: “This will remove over £1bn from the cost of providing motor insurance. We expect the industry to pass on this saving, so motorists see an average saving of £40-50 per year off their insurance bills.”

SMMT president: don't judge this industry on the actions of one

SMMT president: don't judge this industry on the actions of one

SMMT president: don't judge this industry on the actions of one

The president of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has spoken out about the negative impact the Volkswagen emissions scandal is having on the rest of the industry.

Speaking at the SMMT’s 99th annual dinner in London yesterday evening, Gareth Jones said the impact of the defeat device cheat on the rest of the UK automotive industry is “unjust, unfair and plain wrong.” Allegations that other car manufacturers are involved are “unfounded”.

Jones called upon the many detractors to “not judge this industry on the actions of one – or on an outdated test regime.” This is in reference to widespread criticism by everyone from Government down that the official fuel economy test does not represent real-world driving. The SMMT has known this for years, he said, and being publicly saying as much too.

[bctt tweet=”‘Do not judge this industry on the actions of one – or on an outdated test regime'”]

“The test regime must change, and is changing. Real world tests and the World Light Test Procedure (WLTP) have long been advocated by the SMMT.”

Jones also insisted the industry ought to be judged on the progress it has made, such as cutting CO2 emissions by a quarter in a decade, which is “exceeding targets”.

George Osborne’s spending review

Addressing industry leaders, politicians and media on the eve of George Osborne’s spending review, Jones urged the chancellor to continue investment that has helped the UK’s new car market grow to the second largest in Europe.

RAC urges George Osborne to cut costs for motorists

He said: “While the UK’s productivity is falling behind that of global competitors, in automotive we excel. We have the best record in Europe and our productivity has increased four times faster than the UK average. How? Sheer hard graft, hard won investment and a culture that demands continuous improvement and innovation.”

However, he added that there are also major challenges to overcome, including today’s spending review – with cuts expected across government departments.

Jones added: “We have shown Britain has what it takes to be a manufacturing powerhouse again. But we can’t do it alone. So we say to government: Create the conditions that allow us to develop the quality products for which we are world-renowned. Back us to create the jobs, economic growth and prosperity that Britain needs. We have shown we can deliver; work with us to make sure that success continues.”

SMMT president: don't judge this industry on the actions of one

SMMT president: don’t judge this industry on the actions of one

SMMT president: don't judge this industry on the actions of one

The president of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has spoken out about the negative impact the Volkswagen emissions scandal is having on the rest of the industry.

Speaking at the SMMT’s 99th annual dinner in London yesterday evening, Gareth Jones said the impact of the defeat device cheat on the rest of the UK automotive industry is “unjust, unfair and plain wrong.” Allegations that other car manufacturers are involved are “unfounded”.

Jones called upon the many detractors to “not judge this industry on the actions of one – or on an outdated test regime.” This is in reference to widespread criticism by everyone from Government down that the official fuel economy test does not represent real-world driving. The SMMT has known this for years, he said, and being publicly saying as much too.

[bctt tweet=”‘Do not judge this industry on the actions of one – or on an outdated test regime'”]

“The test regime must change, and is changing. Real world tests and the World Light Test Procedure (WLTP) have long been advocated by the SMMT.”

Jones also insisted the industry ought to be judged on the progress it has made, such as cutting CO2 emissions by a quarter in a decade, which is “exceeding targets”.

George Osborne’s spending review

Addressing industry leaders, politicians and media on the eve of George Osborne’s spending review, Jones urged the chancellor to continue investment that has helped the UK’s new car market grow to the second largest in Europe.

RAC urges George Osborne to cut costs for motorists

He said: “While the UK’s productivity is falling behind that of global competitors, in automotive we excel. We have the best record in Europe and our productivity has increased four times faster than the UK average. How? Sheer hard graft, hard won investment and a culture that demands continuous improvement and innovation.”

However, he added that there are also major challenges to overcome, including today’s spending review – with cuts expected across government departments.

Jones added: “We have shown Britain has what it takes to be a manufacturing powerhouse again. But we can’t do it alone. So we say to government: Create the conditions that allow us to develop the quality products for which we are world-renowned. Back us to create the jobs, economic growth and prosperity that Britain needs. We have shown we can deliver; work with us to make sure that success continues.”