Traffic chaos on UK roads expected as motorists make belated Easter getaway

Traffic chaos on UK roads expected as motorists make belated Easter getaway

Traffic chaos on UK roads expected as motorists make belated Easter getaway

The RAC has warned that more than 20 million of us will hit the roads this bank holiday weekend in a bid to make up for the bad weather experienced over Easter.

RAC Traffic Watch predicts 5.4 million leisure journeys will be made today as motorists attempt to beat the rush – while traffic levels will spike to 8.4 million on Saturday. A further 6.9 million trips will be made on Sunday and another 4.8 million on Monday – taking the weekend total to 20.1 million.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “The number of people who plan to use their cars for leisure trips, whether that’s visiting family and friends or enjoying a day out or some time away, is far greater this year than last. In fact our data shows us that we are likely to see a similar volume of car use as we did at Easter which is traditionally the biggest driving bank holiday weekend of the year.

“This level of recreational car journeys is the highest we have seen in recent times. We think it can only be a hangover effect from Easter falling in late March when perhaps people didn’t drive as much as they would have had it been April when the weather would have been a little warmer.

“Now the clocks have gone forward and we’ve already had a feel of warmer weather there’s every reason to head for the traditional weekend getaway spots in the hope of being able to enjoy some fun in the sun. As a result we are expecting more than nine million more car journeys than on the last May Day Bank Holiday.”

The motoring organisation says that, although petrol prices are increasing, the average price of fuel is still 7p a litre cheaper than it was this time last year.

Revealed: the May Day Bank Holiday traffic hotspots

· M5 from Bristol to Taunton
· A303 Andover to Ilminster
· A30 and A38 Exeter to Cornwall
· M4 between Cardiff and Swansea
· M25 between Gatwick and M1
· A23/M23 to Brighton
· A47 Swaffham to Great Yarmouth
· A11 Thetford to Norwich
· M55 between Preston and Blackpool
· A14 between Midlands and East Coast
· A66 between M6 and the coast
· M53 between Liverpool and Chester

McLaren F1

Dream ticket: nearly-new McLaren F1 tops our lottery list

McLaren F1A Veyron goes faster, a Lamborghini shouts louder and a new Porsche 911 Turbo S is quicker to 62mph. But for us, the McLaren F1 remains the ultimate supercar.

Only 106 F1s were made, 64 of which were road cars; the rest were strictly for the racetrack. So they rarely come up for sale, and this car – chassis number 69, and one of the last built – is something (even more) special.

Why? Because the F1 McLaren calls ‘#069’ has just 2,800 miles on the clock, and has been maintained by McLaren Special Operations since new. Well, you’d hardly take it to Kwik Fit…

McLaren F1Return of the Mac

Painted in svelte Carbon Black, it has ‘stealth finish’ 17in centre-lock magnesium wheels. Inside, the driver’s seat – positioned centrally, of course, for optimum weight distribution – is upholstered in red and black leather, while the passenger seats either side are trimmed in Alcantara (man-made suede).

Car #069 also comes with all its original equipment, including a fitted luggage set, titanium tool kit, a correct numbered edition of the Driving Ambition McLaren F1 book – and even a limited-edition F1 owner’s watch.

Still, who cares about the time when you have a BMW Motorsport V12 behind you and 627hp beneath your right foot? Certainly not us.

McLaren F1Murray’s minter

We have to confess, none of us at Motoring Research have ever had the privilege of driving a McLaren F1. But those who have, say it’s of one the most invigorating, visceral and downright sensational cars on the planet.

And how could it not be? The F1’s V12 is naturally-aspirated, so there’s no turbo lag to worry about. It’s refreshingly analogue, with an old-school manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive. And it doesn’t have any electronic safety systems – not even ABS brakes. In a car capable of 243mph, that’s a slight concern.

Indeed, the F1 is as close to no-compromise as road cars get. It was one man’s single-minded vision of the ultimate driving machine, and that man – Gordon Murray – designed his dream without concern for cost. It was the first road car with a carbon fibre chassis and the engine bay is lined with 24-carat gold (the best material for reflecting heat).

McLaren F1If you have to ask…

So, what is the price of supercar supremacy? Tellingly, McLaren won’t say, although interested parties are invited to email specialoperations@mclaren.com for more details.

Given that Rowan Atkinson recently sold his twice-crashed F1 for a reported £8million, it certainly won’t be cheap. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised to see it achieve eight figures.

To put that in perspective, the F1 was the most expensive production car ever made, at £635,000 when new. But its value has increased hugely in the intervening years, to the level of rare, classic Ferraris.

Let’s hope whoever buys #069 doesn’t get too hung up on its value and actually drives it. After all, it’s what Gordon Murray would have wanted…

 

Revealed: the reasons why no one wants to buy your car

Revealed: the reasons why no one wants to buy your car

Revealed: the reasons why no one wants to buy your car

Got a used car that you’re struggling to shift? That could be because of the one time you forgot to get it serviced – or even because it smells – according to a survey by the AA.

Out of the 18,741 AA members questioned, nearly a quarter (24%) have backed out of buying a secondhand car because it pongs of wet dog fur, children’s sick or stale cigarettes – while 38% were put off by the car’s history. This could be a missed service or receipts suggesting regular costly repairs.

Interestingly, the survey also discovered the people in Wales are fussier over things like bodywork than those in London, with 41% of respondents in Wales being put off by bodywork compared to 33% in London – presumably because those of us in the capital are more likely to experience the occasional scrape.

Managing Director of AA Cars, Paul Yates, said: “Buying a used car shouldn’t mean buying a bad car but there are simple checks you can do, whether you’re buying through a dealer or privately.

“Ask to see the service history, and if it’s incomplete or shows lots of repair work, that could be a warning sign. A history check will also rule out insurance write-offs and stolen cars.

“If you’re unsure if a car is in good mechanical condition or not, it’s worth having an independent inspection carried out through a reputable company such as the AA, or buy through a dealer who has independently inspected cars. From our experience, an independent inspection allays most fears and ensures complete transparency when buying from a dealer.”


Opinion

I’ve been there – on several occasions. Spotted a car for sale on eBay, thought it looked perfect, travelled to take a look at it (often with cash in my pocket) and discovered the pictures were hiding a ghastly smell or the seller’s definition of ‘full service history’ differed from mine.

The last car I bought, an old Toyota RAV4, absolutely reeked when I first looked at it. The old fella who owned it had clearly used it as a vehicle for taking his dogs out. Normally I’d be put off by a nasty smell, but I was really keen on the car, so I persevered.

On the journey home, I thought I’d made a mistake. Even with all the windows open, the smell was strong enough to make me feel sick. It was awful. But it’s amazingly easy to get rid of a nasty smell in cars. A decent hoover (using shake-and-vac – yes, it still exists) along with a spray of Oust and, finally, an ‘air-con bomb’ bought off the internet worked wonders. The latter worked amazingly – I’d noticed the smell got worse with the heater on, but £10 and 10 minutes invested on an air-con bomb really got rid of the smell.

The result? I got a good deal on a car no one else wanted because it stunk – so if you’re buying, use it as a negotiating point. If you’re selling, it’s really easy to get rid of smells and well worth the money on a few cleaning products. Don’t be naive – even if you can’t smell it, if you’ve been carrying animals in the car or smoking in it, potential buyers will notice.

Andrew Brady


The survey also found that more than a third (34%) of respondents in the East Midlands have been put off by an interior in poor condition – but Londoners aren’t as picky, with 28% citing this as a reason why they’ve missed out on a used car.

Preview: Silverstone Classic – the world's biggest classic motor racing festival

Preview: Silverstone Classic – the world’s biggest classic motor racing festival

Preview: Silverstone Classic – the world's biggest classic motor racing festival

The legendary Silverstone circuit is hosting ‘the world’s biggest classic motor racing festival’ in July – with cars such as exotic, classic Ferraris taking to the track alongside 90s BTCC saloons. We’ve been along for a sneak preview of what the weekend has to offer.

BTCC Ford Mondeos

BTCC Ford Mondeos

From a time when Touring Cars were arguably at their peak, these two Mondeos in Rapid Fit livery look the part. Note the fuel tanker in the background – probably required, given the amount of fuel-guzzling race cars in attendance.

BTCC Peugeot 406 and MG Metro Turbo

BTCC Peugeot 406 and MG Metro Turbo

Another touring car from the mid-90s, the Peugeot 406 is seen here in the pits alongside an MG Metro Turbo.

BTCC Audi A4

BTCC Audi A4

From a time before Audis were fashionable, the British Touring Car Championship gave the German premium car manufacturer a much-needed image boost.

BTCC Volvo S40

BTCC Volvo S40

The same could be said for the Volvo S40 – but the 850 estates that preceded it were much cooler, in our opinion.

Jaguar XJ12

Jaguar XJ12

And here’s a selection of 80s racers – we spy a Jaguar XJ12 up front, along with a Rover SD1, Ford Sierra Cosworth, Ford Capri and a handful of Triumph Dolomites.

Morgans

Morgans

Such a British affair – a trio of Morgans take to the track. In the centre is a Morgan 4/4 from 1947 – although it’s hard to believe that nearly 50 years separate it from the other two.

Lotus Cortina

Lotus Cortina

Based on the first-generation Ford Cortina, the Lotus Cortina used a 1.6-litre twin-cam engine and the same close-ratio gearbox as the Elan. It’s very popular for historic racing, with no fewer than eight on the grid at Silverstone this weekend. This example is piloted by Richard Dutton and Neil Brown.

Triumph Dolomite

Triumph Dolomite

‘Butch’ indeed. Is there a cooler car of the period than a Triumph Dolomite Sprint? This one’s owned by Duncan Wiltshire.

Austin Healey 3000

Austin Healey 3000

While the Dolly might win cool points, we think there’s little chirpier than a yellow Austin Healey being ragged around Silverstone. This Mk1 Austin Healey 3000 is being driven by Richard Collyer.

Preview: Silverstone Classic – the world's biggest classic motor racing festival

Preview: Silverstone Classic – the world's biggest classic motor racing festival

Preview: Silverstone Classic – the world's biggest classic motor racing festival

The legendary Silverstone circuit is hosting ‘the world’s biggest classic motor racing festival’ in July – with cars such as exotic, classic Ferraris taking to the track alongside 90s BTCC saloons. We’ve been along for a sneak preview of what the weekend has to offer.

BTCC Ford Mondeos

BTCC Ford Mondeos

From a time when Touring Cars were arguably at their peak, these two Mondeos in Rapid Fit livery look the part. Note the fuel tanker in the background – probably required, given the amount of fuel-guzzling race cars in attendance.

BTCC Peugeot 406 and MG Metro Turbo

BTCC Peugeot 406 and MG Metro Turbo

Another touring car from the mid-90s, the Peugeot 406 is seen here in the pits alongside an MG Metro Turbo.

BTCC Audi A4

BTCC Audi A4

From a time before Audis were fashionable, the British Touring Car Championship gave the German premium car manufacturer a much-needed image boost.

BTCC Volvo S40

BTCC Volvo S40

The same could be said for the Volvo S40 – but the 850 estates that preceded it were much cooler, in our opinion.

Jaguar XJ12

Jaguar XJ12

And here’s a selection of 80s racers – we spy a Jaguar XJ12 up front, along with a Rover SD1, Ford Sierra Cosworth, Ford Capri and a handful of Triumph Dolomites.

Morgans

Morgans

Such a British affair – a trio of Morgans take to the track. In the centre is a Morgan 4/4 from 1947 – although it’s hard to believe that nearly 50 years separate it from the other two.

Lotus Cortina

Lotus Cortina

Based on the first-generation Ford Cortina, the Lotus Cortina used a 1.6-litre twin-cam engine and the same close-ratio gearbox as the Elan. It’s very popular for historic racing, with no fewer than eight on the grid at Silverstone this weekend. This example is piloted by Richard Dutton and Neil Brown.

Triumph Dolomite

Triumph Dolomite

‘Butch’ indeed. Is there a cooler car of the period than a Triumph Dolomite Sprint? This one’s owned by Duncan Wiltshire.

Austin Healey 3000

Austin Healey 3000

While the Dolly might win cool points, we think there’s little chirpier than a yellow Austin Healey being ragged around Silverstone. This Mk1 Austin Healey 3000 is being driven by Richard Collyer.

Volkswagen-Group

Volkswagen: we may have to sell assets to pay for the emissions scandal

Volkswagen badgeVolkswagen Group may have set aside €16.2 billion to pay for the emissions scandal (and further billions to cover legal bills) but the firm has admitted even this may not be enough – and says there’s a risk may have to consider selling assets to pay the dieselgate bill.

In its latest Annual Report, the firm outlines the risks from the emissions issue and says that there may be further “significant financial liabilities” on the horizon, particularly from legal risks, criminal and administrative proceedings, costlier-than-expected technical solutions and lower market prices.

Repurchase obligations are also noted, in reference to the recent agreement to buy back cars in the United States. The firm also admits that demand for its cars may decrease, “possibly exacerbated by a loss of reputation or insufficient communication”.

And how will it pay for all these risks if they come to pass? In the worst case scenario, it acknowledges, by selling stuff: “The funding needed to cover the risks may lead to assets having to be sold due to the situation and equivalent proceeds of them not being achieved as a result”.

What could Volkswagen Group sell?

Volkswagen Group is, of course, an asset-rich company. It owns:

  • Volkswagen Passenger Cars
  • Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles
  • Audi
  • Bentley
  • Bugatti
  • Lamborghini
  • Porsche
  • Ducati
  • MAN
  • Scania
  • SEAT
  • Skoda

Could the emissions scandal possibly lead to it having to sell one or more of those marques? And if so, who would it sell to?

Ironically, Volkswagen’s huge loss reported for the last financial year includes a $3.8 billion windfall from Suzuki, which completed a stock buy-back of Volkswagen’s stake in it back in September 15 – just before news of the emissions crisis broke…

Lotus Cars

Lotus weighs up savings in a year of cuts

Lotus CarsLotus has revealed it’s cut a hefty 207kg from its model range in the past year alone, proving the spirit of founder Colin Chapman, whose mantra was ‘just add lightness’, is alive and well.

Significant weight savings include 70kg cut from the Lotus Evora Sport 410 over the already-honed Evora 400, 91kg from the Exige Sport 350 over the Exige S, while even the familiar Elise has benefitted from a weight reduction of 15kg.

It means even the heaviest Lotus model tips the scales at under 1,400kg – significantly lighter than even the lightest, supposedly-lightweight all-aluminium Jaguar F-Type, which in base 340hp V6 guise tips the scales at 1,537kg.

“To perfect a pure sports car, you must consider weight your enemy,” said Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales. “Lose weight and you will make significant gains: hard er and faster cornering, better braking, greater agility and responsiveness, along with faster acceleration.

“Colin Chapman famously said, ‘Adding power makes you faster on the straights, subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere,” and that thinking has become part of our DNA.”

Lotus Elise

As such, the inspirational new Lotus boss has, for the past few years, been running a so-called Lightweight Lab, where all Lotus models are stripped bare and each part analysed to see how to make it lighter. It’s this strategy that’s led to such significant ongoing savings.

Examples include the Lotus Exige Sport 350, where detail engineering cut the weight piece-by piece:

  • Louvred tailgate: -3kg
  • Redesigned gearshift mechanism: -3kg
  • Revised subrame: -3kg
  • Optimised body panels: -12kg

Optional carbon composite components cut another 30kg, giving the roadster a kerbweight of just 1,085kg – outrageous for a 350hp rear-drive sports car (and key to its impressive performance).

Lotus also points out its bonded aluminium chassis technology is still considered a benchmark in the automotive industry, more than 20 years since it was introduced.

Lotus Elise Chassis

Lightweight extrusions are bonded together with epoxy adhesive which means the ultra-strong chassis for the Elise and Exige weighs just 68kg. That’s half that of an equivalent steel chassis  – and, significantly, roughly the same weight as a carbon fibre chassis, despite being significantly cheaper and more adaptable.

Now, Lotus continues to find weight savings in the lightweight lab, with Gales coining the phrase, ‘the Lotus approach to light is right engineering’.

So, 207kg has been cut in a single year alone. How much more lightness can be added?

Haynes Motor Museum

25 cars you don’t want to miss at the Haynes Motor Museum

Haynes Motor MuseumThe Haynes International Motor Museum is one of our favourite car museums, offering an eclectic blend of supercars and everyday classics.

We’ve selected 25 of our favourite exhibits, leaving you to create a shortlist of your own. You’ll find the museum in Somerset, just off the A303.

Multimillion pound ‘Doozy’

Haynes Motor Museum

Sitting proudly in the hall entitled ‘The American Dream’ is this 1931 Duesenberg Model J. The Duesenberg company was established by E.L. Cord of the Cord Motor Company, with the sole aim of building the most luxurious cars in the world. The example in the Haynes Museum is one of eight built and was formerly owned by Mrs Payne Whitney of Pratt & Whitney fame. The museum values the ‘Doozy’ at a cool £8 million.

Gandini’s greatest triumph?

Haynes Motor Museum

Once upon a time, this Lamborghini Countach took pride of place in the famous ‘Red Room’, but following the museum’s multimillion pound revamp it was moved to the supercar collection. The Countach is one of Marcello Gandini’s most famous creations and remains the pin-up star for a generation of petrolheads.

When Ford gave Ferrari a bloody nose

Haynes Motor Museum

Legends are born out of the strangest of circumstances. Back in the 1960s it looked highly likely that Ferrari would be sold to the Ford Motor Company, with the American giant keen to go racing. Having spent millions of dollars on due diligence, Ford bosses were left high and dry when Enzo Ferrari famously pulled out of the deal. Ford reacted in the best possible way, by creating the GT40 and winning Le Mans. The rest, as they say, is history.

Just don’t mention the electronics

Haynes Motor Museum

This might be a gallery featuring cars you don’t want to miss at the Haynes Motor Museum, but with the Aston Martin Lagonda it’s more a case of can’t miss. A flawed gem it might be, not least because of the eye-wateringly expensive electronics, but you can’t help but marvel that such a car exists. We’d be tempted to say they don’t make’em like they used to, but Aston Martin has launched an all-new Lagonda super-saloon.

Big cat crippled by the economic crisis

Haynes Motor Museum

We all know the backstory: Jaguar builds a four-wheel drive, V12-engined prototype; people get rather excited; huge deposits are put down; car becomes rear-wheel drive, V6-engined; economy collapses; potential buyers pull out; Jaguar struggles to sell the car, even at a reduced price. Back in the early 90s, the Jaguar XJ220 was a bit of a laughing stock, but time has been kind to the 212mph supercar from Oxfordshire. And let’s face it: Jaguar has built nothing else quite like the XJ220.

Who ya gonna call?

Haynes Motor Museum

Fans of Ghostbusters will tell you that Ecto-1 was a 1959 Cadillac Professional ambulance/hearse, but that hasn’t stopped Haynes slapping a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man on the roof of this Pontiac Superior ambulance and having a little fun. Press one of those buttons to the right of the former City of Lewistown emergency vehicle and Ray Parker Jr. will do his thing. Who ya gonna call?

Maserati and Citroen: a match made in heaven?

Haynes Motor Museum

This has to be the most eccentric corner of the Haynes Motor Museum. To the left of this Citroen SM you’ll find a DS and Traction Avant, with a 2CV appearing further down the line. The DS gets its fair share of press, so we’ll focus on the SM, which was powered by a Maserati V6 engine.

The most desirable Porsche in the world?

Haynes Motor Museum

This is one of the most highly sought-after 911s on the planet and to some, the most desirable Porsche in the world. A total of 1,580 RS examples were built, in either Touring or Lightweight specification. This example could be worth as much as £1 million.

Classic Pininfarina styling

Haynes Motor Museum

The 250 GT Cabriolet on display at the Haynes Motor Museum is a series II, first launched at the 1959 Paris Motor Show. The original 250 GT Cabriolet made its debut at the 1957 Geneva Motor Show and a mere 40 were built before Ferrari toned down the styling, increased the size of the boot and treated the cabin to a more luxurious feel.

Mark Webber’s Red Bull RB6

Haynes Motor Museum

Next to the display of supercars you’ll find a section of the Museum dedicated to Mark Webber and his Red Bull RB6 F1 car. This is the actual car the Australian drove as he raced to victory in the British and Hungarian Grand Prix of 2010. His dulcet tones are played through speakers as you wander around the car.

Nobody mention the fuel bill

Haynes Motor Museum

If we had to name the car we’d most like to drive home in, this Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9 would be in with a shout. This was the flagship of the S-Class range, featuring the likes of hydropneumatic suspension, ABS brakes and the small matter of a 6.9-litre V8 engine. The Museum’s patron, John H. Haynes OBE, used it as his personal car, clocking up 130,000 miles in the process. We won’t ask what he spent on fuel.

Fast Ford to Mexico

Haynes Motor Museum

Even when surrounded by such illustrious and exotic vehicles, a fast Ford still manages to hold its own. Of course, it helps when the Ford in question is an Escort Mexico, so named following success in the London to Mexico World Cup Rally. The Mexico was powered by a detuned version of the engine found in the Escort RS1600 and soon became a hero of road and track.

The ultimate Haynes registration number?

Haynes Motor Museum

If we’re honest, as nice as this 1987 Bentley Continental Convertible is, the registration number is the only reason it makes our 25-car shortlist. CAR 800K – or CAR BOOK – is a reference to the Haynes Publishing Business, famous for producing the Haynes Manual.

We don’t need roads…

Haynes Motor Museum

It needs no introduction, does it? The DeLorean DMC-12 is a prime example of a seriously flawed vehicle, elevated to a higher status by external factors. The story surrounding the development and collapse of the DeLorean Motor Company would have ensured a lasting legacy for the Belfast-built sports car, but its starring role in Back to the Future presented it with an iconic status.

Genesis of the hot hatch?

Haynes Motor Museum

Was the Volkswagen Golf GTI the first hot hatch? Strictly speaking, no, because the likes of the Simca 1100 TI and Renault 5 Alpine/Gordini got there first, but the Golf GTI is credited as perfecting the recipe and taking the idea to the mainstream. Hard to believe it is 40 years old in 2016.

Good enough for Ringo Starr

Haynes Motor Museum

How can a car so large and imposing look so elegant and beautiful? The HK500 is arguably the ultimate Facel Vega, not least because of its huge Chrysler 6.3-litre V8 engine. This gave it a tremendous turn of pace, but it wasn’t the most nimble of creatures to chuck into a corner. But does that matter when something looks this good? Previous owners such as Stirling Moss, Pablo Picasso, Ava Gardner, Ringo Starr and Tony Curtis didn’t seem to mind.

Gordon Bennett, that’s pretty

Haynes Motor Museum

OK, cards on the table: of all the cars at the Haynes Motor Museum, this the one we spent the most time gawping at. There’s just something about the Gordon-Keeble GK1, with its Italian styling, American V8 engine and British engineering. This four-seater coupe featured a glassfibre body, two petrol tanks and an interior that could shame more illustrious rivals.

Who needs a 280 Brooklands anyway?

Haynes Motor Museum

With all the hoo-ha surrounding the auction prices of Mk3 Ford Capris, it would be all too easy to forget there was a Mk1 and Mk2. The model on display at the Haynes Motor Museum is actually a Mk1 facelift model, notable for its larger headlights and separate indicators. The facelift also benefited from a revised suspension, larger taillights and new seats.

Born to be the miniMetro…

Haynes Motor Museum

Here’s a rarity and a must-see exhibit for fans of the classic Mini. It’s a 1978 British Motor Corporation (BMC) Mini prototype, otherwise known as the 9X. Sir Alec Issigonis was convinced he could create a small car superior to the original Mini and to this end the 9X was blessed with more interior space in a smaller overall package. Sadly, it never saw the light of day and – three years later – British Leyland launched the Austin miniMetro.

Electric dream turns to nightmare

Haynes Motor Museum

This one doesn’t take up a great deal of room in the Museum, but it deserves its place amongst the more exotic exhibitions. Sir Clive Sinclair’s vision of the future was a great British failure and there were too many problems to list in one short paragraph. That said, who wouldn’t want a go in this 1980s electric dream?

Prince William and Prince Harry’s Zip Cadet Karts

Haynes Motor Museum

Here’s another blast from the past, with two Zip Cadet Karts, designed for children aged between 8 and 11. The karts remain the property of Princes William and Harry. We wonder if the Duke of Cambridge will present these to Prince George and Princess Charlotte?

Corvettes overload

Haynes Motor Museum

Fans of the Chevrolet Corvette will not be disappointed with the display of Vettes at the Haynes Motor Museum. You can chart the history of this all-American sports car thanks to six historic models. We think these cars are unlikely to fall down a sinkhole.

The Lotus position

Haynes Motor Museum

Not to be left out, there’s one corner of Haynes devoted to Norfolk mustard. We adore this four-car collection, consisting of Elise, Europa, Elan and Elite. One day, somebody might fix the Elite’s headlights…

In the corner stands a Boxer…

Haynes Motor Museum

In its day, the Ferrari 512 Berlinetta Boxer (BB) was one of the fastest cars you could buy. The 512 stands for 5.0-litre, 12-cylinders – an engine that developed 360hp. With a top speed of 188mph, this wasn’t a Ferrari for the fainthearted.

A Triumph of British engineering

Haynes Motor Museum

When you see cars like the Dolomite Sprint, you have to ask yourself, where did it all go wrong for Triumph? Of course, the reasons for the decline in the British car industry have been well documented, but in the ‘Dolly’ Sprint, Britain had a performance saloon to take on the world. It seems like a fitting conclusion to our round-up of the best exhibits at the Haynes International Motor Museum.

SEAT Ibiza: Retro Road Test

SEAT Ibiza: Retro Road Test

SEAT Ibiza: Retro Road Test

This is the original SEAT Ibiza. A hugely important car for the brand, it was the first car created independently by the firm after it split from Fiat in 1982. It pre-dates Volkswagen Group ownership and, despite its Fiat Ritmo underpinnings, featured cutting-edge Italdesign styling.

SEAT Ibiza: what are its rivals?

SEAT Ibiza: what are its rivals?

Similar in size to 80s superminis such as the Ford Fiesta, Fiat Uno and Austin Metro, the SEAT Ibiza offered excellent value compared to its mainstream peers (Spanish labour was cheap, after all). It also competed with larger budget offerings such as the Hyundai Pony and Toyota Corolla.

SEAT Ibiza: what engine does it use?

SEAT Ibiza: what engine does it use?

All engines used in the original Ibiza were inline four-cylinder motors – the 0.9-litre tested here was a Fiat engine, producing 44hp. More powerful engines were created in partnership with Porsche (yes, really – it made more sense than small-time SEAT creating its own powertrains), ranging from a 63hp 1.2-litre engine to the sporty 102hp 1.5 SXi. A 1.7-litre Fiat diesel was also available.

SEAT Ibiza: what’s it like to drive?

SEAT Ibiza: what’s it like to drive?

The first thing you notice is the awkward driving position. While this writer isn’t particularly lanky (other superminis of the era pose no problem), the leg needs to be bent awkwardly to give the accelerator pedal a trickle of revs.

Once moving, it’s more comfortable to treat the gas pedal like an on/off switch. And with 44hp, that’s unlikely to result in any difficulties, even with its skinny 145-section tyres. That’s not to say it’s slow. Officially, the first-generation Ibiza takes 18.4 seconds to hit 62mph, but it feels nippier than that.

Around town, the Ibiza’s narrow pillars (typical of 80s superminis) mean visibility is much better than modern cars. It’s happy to dart in and out of traffic, while the curious stalkless indicators are a novelty compared to the conventional ones you’d get in a Fiesta, for example. It’s also worth noting that the seats are exceptionally comfortable.

SEAT Ibiza: reliability and running costs

SEAT Ibiza: reliability and running costs

On the one hand, an original SEAT Ibiza shouldn’t cost a fortune to run. It is a supermini, after all, with the respectable fuel economy you’d expect. Classic insurance should be affordable, too – but be aware that parts won’t be cheap (and that’s if you can find them). Fortunately it’ll share some parts with more common vehicles such as the Fiat Panda, but we’ve seen reports of brake discs and clutch plates selling for extortionate prices.

SEAT Ibiza: could I drive it every day?

SEAT Ibiza: could I drive it every day?

On the one hand, everyone was driving cars like this on a daily basis just 20 years ago. If you find one in good condition and you don’t cover too many miles, it should stand up to being used daily without too much fuss – providing you keep it well maintained.

But with the numbers left on the road, it would seem a bit of a shame. Combine that with a feeling of vulnerability (it feels tiny in traffic next to 21st century cars) and a short supply of parts, and you might want to look elsewhere for an everyday runaround.

SEAT Ibiza: how much should I pay?

SEAT Ibiza: how much should I pay?

It’s finding one that’s the problem. Despite being relatively popular on the continent, the original Ibiza never sold in huge numbers in the UK, and very few have survived. If you seriously want to buy one, it’ll be a matter of joining the owners’ club, spamming the internet with wanted posts and keeping in with specialist garages.

If you do find one, don’t expect it to be cheap. We wouldn’t pay over the odds for an untidy example with a short or no MOT, but if it’s a good example and you really want it, you could be looking at several thousand pounds.

SEAT Ibiza: what should I look out for?

SEAT Ibiza: what should I look out for?

Rust is an issue, particularly around the wheel arches. Other than that, they’re pretty simple – but as mentioned, finding parts can be difficult. Don’t shrug off something like a slipping clutch or cracked windscreen as an easy fix. Be extremely picky and negotiate hard if there are any issues. But remember, you might find it hard to find another one.

SEAT Ibiza: should I buy one?

SEAT Ibiza: should I buy one?

An early Ibiza would make for an interesting purchase, if you can find one. Something like a first- or second-generation Fiesta might be a wiser choice – not only is it easier to find a good example, it’d also be easier to maintain and perhaps a more enjoyable car to drive.

If you do want an Ibiza, we’d probably look for a higher-spec model than the example tested here. Although the 0.9-litre engine does a respectable job of keeping up with modern traffic, a more powerful engine would be more enjoyable as well as more reliable. And the System Porsche engine would make it slightly easier to justify it to your mates.

SEAT Ibiza: pub fact

SEAT Ibiza: pub fact

What you’re looking at here could have been the second-generation Volkswagen Golf. Designer of the original Golf, Giorgetto Giugiaro, had his design rejected for the mk2 (instead, VW decided to use its in-house team). Along came SEAT, asking him to design a spacious supermini, he went a bit Blue Peter and showed the firm a project he’d created earlier.

The MG GS is going to be like a Nissan Qashqai but much, much cheaper

The MG GS is going to be like a Nissan Qashqai but much, much cheaper

The MG GS is going to be like a Nissan Qashqai but much, much cheaper

MG is set to reveal its new crossover at next week’s London Motor Show – and the firm’s sales and marketing chief has revealed the biggest hint yet that it should massively undercut the family-favourite Nissan Qashqai.

Speaking ahead of the unveiling, Matthew Cheyne said: “We’re extremely proud of the GS, so we’re looking forward to unveiling it and speaking to attendees of the event about how easily it will fit into their lifestyle. I can assure potential customers that it will be consistent with the MG-family pricing strategy.”

That ‘MG-family pricing stategy’? As product manager, Andrew Lowerson, told us at the launch of the facelifted MG6: “when you sit in the MG6, it won’t be as good as a Skoda Octavia. But it’s £7,000 cheaper than the equivalent Skoda Octavia.”

So how cheap will the MG GS be?

Stacking it up against rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, as well as the £8,399 MG3 and £13,995 MG6, the MG GS is likely to start at less than £15,000. That’s phenomenally cheap for a fashionable crossover. The Qashqai starts at £18,545.

We’ll be seeing the MG GS in the metal for the first time at the London Motor Show, but first impressions based on leaked pictures suggest it might not offer quite the compromise on quality that the slow-selling MG6 does.

Cheyne added: “Next week will be a really exciting moment for us, as we’re getting closer to launching this fantastic car into the market. Members of the public are finally getting the chance to get their hands on the UK model and see for themselves what an outstanding car this is.”

The MG GS is going to be like a Nissan Qashqai but much, much cheaper

What else do we know about the MG GS?

It’s an exciting car for MG. No, that’s not marketing hype – the firm is finally delivering a car that could meet demands from car buyers. Based on a scaleable SUV platform, we could also see a smaller Nissan Juke arrival as soon as next year.

Despite being cheaper than mainstream rivals, the dimensions of the MG GS (4.5m in length) mean it will sit at the larger end of the segment. Like the MG6, that could mean it aces on practicality.

In terms of powertrains, we’re expecting a 1.5-litre petrol (from the MG3) and the same 1.9-litre turbodiesel as the MG6. A hybrid version is mooted for the future. Most models are likely to be front-wheel drive, although the GS is already on sale in China as a four-wheel-drive. That could be offered here, but it won’t be cheap.