London Marathon Renault

London Marathon 2019 running with Renault for 23rd year

London Marathon RenaultRenault is to once again play a starring role in the London Marathon – by supplying nearly 30 support vehicles to help officials run the event.

This will include four converted Renault Master vans fitted with roof-mounted digital race clocks, which will be driven ahead of the elite races.

London Marathon Renault

Mo Farah will be among the runners keeping an eye on their progress by watching the roof of a Renault – being captured as he runs by the photographers touring on the back of the Master vans.

It is the 23rd year Renault has been official car provider for the London Marathon. The 29-car fleet has already been busy in the build-up to the event, helping organisers set up the course.

London Marathon Renault

The race director has toured the London Marathon route in a Renault, and top athletes and VIPs have been picked up from the airport in Renaults.

Other cars in the fleet include the Renault Koleos, Grand Scenic, Megane, plus the Kangoo and Trafic vans (but oddly, as the London Ultra Low Emission Zone is now live, not a single Renault Zoe electric car…).

London Marathon Renault

The London Marathon first took place in 1981. Since then, it has raised over £955 million for charity. Organisers are hoping the 2019 event will take the total raised to over £1 billion.

Formula E Virtually Live Ghost Racing

Race Formula E drivers in real-time with new Virtually Live game

Formula E Virtually Live Ghost RacingStarting with this weekend’s Paris E-Prix, fans of Formula E will be able to compete against a virtual recreation of the action happening on track.

The new ‘Virtually Live Ghost Racing: Formula E’ game uses telemetry and timing data from the actual race, creating a digital version for players to immerse themselves in.

What makes the new game so different, according to Formula E organisers, is the opportunity for gamers to test themselves against real action – not just algorithms or simulations.

Formula E Virtually Live Ghost RacingAlong with competing in a ‘live’ race as the action unfolds in Paris, players can also use the app to simply watch the E-Prix as well.

Live in-game commentary is also included, meaning those taking part are kept fully up to speed with the action happening in the real world.

Previous races from the latest two seasons of the FIA Formula E Championship are also included, allowing the opportunity to see if players could have improved on past results.

Formula E Virtually Live Ghost RacingAlong with live action, Virtually Live Ghost Racing also promises the ability to challenge friends, and create custom races against other online competitors.

Available for both Apple iOS and Android devices, the game is currently free to download from app stores now.

Launching the game was one of the key aims of Alejandro Agag, Founder & CEO of Formula E, who has been determined to make the sport as interactive as possible for fans.

Agag commented that “before we launched the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, I promised that one day our fans will be able to race against their favourite drivers in real time, making them a part of the racing more than ever before and now this dream is a reality.”

Volkswagen Classic Mission Maximum Booklet

Explore seven decades of groundbreaking Volkswagen history with new book

Volkswagen Classic Mission Maximum BookletLaunched to coincide with the recent Techno Classica 2019 show, Volkswagen has released a special booklet detailing some of the brand’s biggest achievements.

Covering 70 years of motorsport, engineering, and production records, the Mission Maximum collection has been created by Volkswagen Classic.

Responsible for supplying parts to the countless numbers of retro Veedub fans, and celebrating the marque’s history, Volkswagen Classic made a big effort for the Techno Classica event.

Volkswagen Classic Mission Maximum BookletAcknowledged as one of the leading vintage car shows and trade fairs, attendance at Techno Classica typically comes close to 200,000 people.

Held at the Messe Essen exhibition centre, this year’s show was also host to a wealth of modern classic cars going under the hammer as part of the RM Sotheby’s ‘Youngtimer’ sale.

For 2019, Volkswagen Classic brought along six special vehicles to the event, each chronicling impressive record-breaking feats of speed or endurance.

For those who didn’t make the show, they can at least read about those six cars, and more, in the new 68-page publication.

Volkswagen Classic Mission Maximum BookletPerformance records are one of the areas explored in Mission Maximum, with the stunning Volkswagen W12 one of the vehicles to fall under the microscope.

Created to demonstrate the performance of the W12 engine, the one-off supercar featured 600hp and a potential top speed in excess of 220mph.

Between 2001 and 2002, Volkswagen used the W12 to set twelve different speed records at the Nardo Ring circuit in Italy. Most impressive was an average of 200.6mph average maintained for a full 24 hours.

Volkswagen Classic Mission Maximum BookletVolkswagen’s latest record attempts are also detailed, with attention given to the all-electric I.D. R machine, which dominated the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 2018.

The company is currently testing and preparing the 680hp I.D. R for an assault on the fearsome Nürburgring-Nordschleife this summer.

Given Volkswagen’s history, it seems entirely plausible that the Mission Maximum booklet will need another new chapter by the end of 2019.

Drive It Day 2019: Six modern classics to buy now

Drive It Day

This Sunday (28 April), thousands of classic cars will take to the road for the annual Drive It Day. First introduced by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs in 2005, the date is as close as possible to the anniversary of the 1,000 Mile Trial – an event that saw vintage motor cars drive from London to Edinburgh and back.

You don’t have to drive to London or Edinburgh for Drive It Day in 2019, but a classic car would help. Which is why we’ve trawled the pages of Auto Trader to find half a dozen classics you can buy and drive home on Sunday.

There are scores of Drive It Day events up and down the country, but check with the organisers before turning up because places are limited. For example, the popular Sunday Scramble at Bicester Heritage is sold out.

Check out the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs’ Facebook page for details of more events, or simply do your own thing. Here are six classics to consider, with prices ranging from less than £500 to £50,000. To add a little flavour, we’ve avoided the usual suspects, so you won’t find any MGBs or Morris Minors here.

£500 budget: Mazda Demio

Mazda Demio

Look, you’re not exactly spoilt for choice when you’re rummaging around for roadworthy ‘classics’ in the bargain basement bucket. But while the Sunday Scramble might be off limits, this Mazda Demio is perfect for the Sunday Cup.

Fans of the Gran Turismo franchise will remember this little upstart from the original game and will have fond memories of maxing it out on the Autumn Ring and Grand Valley East.

This 2000 example is the posh spice variant: the Aegean was a special edition introduced in 1999. The mileage is on the high side and the MOT expires in June, but it looks like an honest example. And it’s only £395.

£1,000 budget: Volvo 940

Volvo 940

The Volvo 940 holds a huge amount of retro appeal – not to mention a huge amount of luggage space – not least because it’s a proper, old-school, rear-wheel-drive Volvo estate.

In fact, putting aside the V90 model name change in 1996, this is Volvo’s last rear-wheel-drive wagon. That’s got to be worth 975 notes on its own.

The vendor is selling it on behalf of his father, who has owned the car for the past 13 years. It looks in fine condition, while a fresh MOT should provide some piece of mind. Some new front tyres could be in order, mind.

£5,000 budget: Citroen BX

Citroen BX estate

The BX was a gamechanger for Citroen in the UK, with the turbodiesel models catapulting the brand into the hearts and minds of the nation’s company car drivers. In its day, the BX was the slightly eccentric and more interesting alternative to the likes of the Ford Sierra and Vauxhall Cavalier.

We’re not going to pretend that the best part of three grand is a cheap price for a K-reg BX estate, but this car is well on the way to modern classic status. And although we’d prefer an early model with the purer Gandini styling and original dashboard, a very late example holds some appeal.

We also like the fact that this BX19 TGD doesn’t have a single MOT advisory to its name since 2009. So much for French fragility.

£10,000 budget: Daihatsu Fourtrak

Daihatsu Fourtrak

The last time you saw a Daihatsu Fourtrak it was probably axle-deep in mud or propping up a dilapidated barn on a farm. These things are the workhorses of the rural community: rarely treated with compassion, but plugging on until the floor falls to the floor.

We suspect the dealer selling this 1992 example is chancing his arm with the price, but how do you value a 4×4 with such low mileage and without precedent?

There are just 26,000 miles on the clock, it has one owner from new and the MOT history is extremely encouraging. Think of it as a retro alternative to the new Suzuki Jimny, without the waiting list.

£20,000 budget: Jaguar XJR

Jaguar XJR

Formed in 1986, JaguarSport was a joint venture between Jaguar and TWR. The aim was to produce sporting versions of Jaguar’s regular saloons, with the cars completed at TWR’s facility in Kidlington.

As it was the 1980s, bodykits were the order of the day, along with Speedline alloy wheels and wider tyres. The majority of the XJ40-based XJRs were powered by a 3.6-litre engine, before the 4.0-litre version arrived in 1989.

Which makes this 1989 example one of the last 3.6 cars. Amazingly, it has been owned by the same gentleman since new and has just 21,000 miles on the clock.

£50,000 budget: Audi RS2

Audi RS2

Richard Gooding drove an Audi RS2 for Motoring Research, saying that “it’s a modern classic and practical performance car icon”.

This 162,000-mile example has been owned by the vendor for the past 11 years and appears to be in fabulous condition. The fact that it’s largely unmodified is a bonus.

If £40k seems like a lot for a 25-year-old Audi estate, remember that the Q5 range kicks off at £41,420. We know what we’d rather be driving on Drive It Day.

Whatever you’re driving this Sunday, have fun and drive safely.

Mecum Indy 2019 Dukes of Hazzard Dodge Charger

You could buy this Dodge Charger stunt car from the Dukes of Hazzard

Mecum Indy 2019 Dukes of Hazzard Dodge Charger

Few cars from TV and film are as instantly identifiable as the orange Dodge Charger which starred in the Dukes of Hazzard.

But don’t be mistaken for thinking this is just another tribute to the General Lee. This particular car put in enough screen time that it really deserved a mention in the end credits.

Heading to next month’s Mecum Auctions Indy 2019 event, this is an opportunity to a piece of real movie history.

Mecum Indy 2019 Dukes of Hazzard Dodge ChargerAdmittedly the 2005 Dukes of Hazzard movie, based upon the classic television series, will hardly go down in the annals of silver screen history. It collected seven nominations at the 26th Golden Raspberry Awards, and was named the worst film of 2005 by one movie critic.

In fact, the film is probably best remembered for Burt Reynolds portraying Boss Hogg, and Jessica Simpson’s cover of ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’’.

Oh, and for the stunts performed by the General Lee – the 1969 Dodge Charger, and prize possession of Bo and Luke Duke.

Mecum Indy 2019 Dukes of Hazzard Dodge ChargerThis Charger was one of many used during production of the film, and wears the original ‘stunt car #20’ stickers inside the door and under the hood.

In fact, this particular car is said to have starred in key scenes from the movie, including the final chase scene, and the lengthy drift around Lee Circle.

Unlike the numerous General Lee replicas which are a car show constant, the buyer of this will know it played the part of being a real ‘good ‘ole boy’ on screen.

Mecum Indy 2019 Dukes of Hazzard Dodge ChargerStunt car #20 still wears the battle scars from filming, and is supplied in what Mecum describe as ‘screen-used’ condition.

It means the orange paintwork, General Lee lettering, and Confederate flag on the roof are complete with genuine movie dirt and dents. Clearly this was not the car washed by Jessica Simpson in her music video.

If anything, it only adds to the authenticity, as does the signature from actor James Best, who played Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane in the original TV series.

Mecum Indy 2019 Dukes of Hazzard Dodge ChargerPower comes from a 383-cubic inch (6.3-l) Magnum V-8 engine. Although there is no mention of performance upgrades, judging by the film there is more than enough torque to spin the rear wheels.

This car is noted as being one of the few used in the film which featured a four-speed manual transmission, with a Hurst T-Handle shifter attached.

There is also the small matter of the uprated handbrake fitted especially to lock the back wheels, allowing for more lurid fish tail action on camera.

Mecum Indy 2019 Dukes of Hazzard Dodge ChargerOther movie upgrades include an aluminum radiator, a large racing-style tachometer for the interior, and a full roll cage which includes the engine bay.

It means the tan interior is slightly less accommodating than normal, but means you can go leaping ponds and broken bridges with carefree abandon.

And, just for reassurance, there is a ‘Dixie’ horn fitted, along with a front push bar, for full General Lee effect.

Mecum Indy 2019 Dukes of Hazzard Dodge ChargerThe General Lee is one of nine cars heading to Mecum’s Indy 2019 auction from the Joe McMurrey Collection.

McMurrey has become a prolific collector of classic cars, with a real penchant for Shelby Mustangs. That affection began as a school student, and has led to McMurrey owning a string of GT350s and other classic Shelby vehicles.

However, as shown by this Charger, he keeps an open mind to his collection, and admits that when selling cars he is “sad to see them go, but you’re opening up a new chapter in your life”.

Mecum Indy 2019 Dukes of Hazzard Dodge ChargerLot F113 will cross the Mecum auction block on Friday May 17th, with an estimated sale price of $50,000 to $70,000 (£39,000 to £54,000).

Mecum’s Indy 2019 sale will see some 2,000 vehicles go across the block during the incredible six-day event, held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

Although Indy 2019 will be packed with collector cars, not many will have had the on-screen prowess to rival the General Lee.

Men in Black: protecting the Earth from scum, in a Lexus

Men in Black Lexus

Lexus has announced that it will be the official vehicle supplier of the forthcoming Men in Black: International film, which premieres in UK and US cinemas on 14 June 2019.

The RC F is the vehicle of choice for the agents as they seek to protect the Earth from “the scum of the universe”. Not our words, but the words of the original promo poster for the film starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

It’s a dirty job, but somebody has got to do it. And there’s nothing like a little product placement when it comes to defending the galaxy.

“We’ve added some advanced capabilities to the RC F to assist the Men in Black agents, creating a truly one-of-a-kind alien fighting machine,” said Lisa Materazzo, vice president of Lexus marketing. “We can’t wait for moviegoers to see the RC F as they’ve never seen it before.”

As if to ram home the message that it is a thoroughly modern reboot of a film franchise dating back to 1997, the RC F will be joined by the RX Hybrid and LX SUVs. Well, crossovers and SUVs are threatening to take over the world.

Black suits and Ray Bans

Men in Black Lexus RC F

Maybe Agent M (Tessa Thompson) and (Agent H) Chris Hemsworth can do a job on them, too. Here come the Men in Black, the black suits with the black Ray Bans on, here to champion the cause for the humble saloons and estate cars.

We suspect the Fresh Prince could make that line work a little better with some rapping.

The collaboration between Lexus and Sony Pictures includes integration in the film, a co-branded television spot, a custom Men in Black RC F and sponsorship of the film’s premiere.

“We’re excited to collaborate with Lexus on this multi-tiered campaign in support of Men in Black: International,” said Jeffrey Godsick of Sony Pictures. “The Lexus RC F sports coupe provides the perfect vehicle for our team of Men in Black agents, led by Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson as they protect the galaxy.”

Meet Volkswagen’s new riot-ready police van

Police riot Van Volkswagen Crafter

If you encounter this new Volkswagen, you’re probably on the wrong side of the law. Meet the Crafter riot response vehicle.

How do you transform a humble Crafter into a police van, then? Well, Volkswagen’s blue-light conversion partner, Coleman Milne, does most of the work – starting with an ‘unbreakable’ windscreen and prison cell in the back.

Police riot Van Volkswagen Crafter

There’s also seating for seven, plus storage for riot shields, helmets and more crowd suppression gear. New side windows on the exterior complement the new windscreen, which is made of such strong reinforced plastic that an external metal cage is no longer required.

Along with that, there’s the generic police gear: communications equipment up-front and so on.

Police riot Van Volkswagen Crafter

“We’re delighted to reveal our latest blue-light conversion – a riot van based on the long wheelbase Volkswagen Crafter,” said Steven Cowell of Volkswagen fleet services.

“Following its much anticipated debut at the CV Show 2019, the PSU will be put into service across the country, supporting police forces in their vital roles.”

Police riot Van Volkswagen Crafter

Under the bonnet is an unmodified 2.0-litre 177hp diesel engine: reasonable power, even for the over-five-tonne Crafter. Besides, a lot of a riot van’s best work is done at either very low speeds, or at a standstill.

The new, riot-ready Crafter will be on display at the 2019 CV Show at the NEC in Birmingham, which runs from April 30 to May 2 2019.

Half think higher premiums for car insurance renewal should be illegal

insurance premiums

Half of drivers think making loyal insurance customers pay more should be illegal. That’s according to new research commissioned by GoCompare.

It’s common knowledge that renewal prices can be jacked up, given that many motorists see changing insurers as a hassle. As many as 62 percent of motorists allow their car insurance to automatically renew, even though switching could save them up to £247.

The Financial Conduct Authority has been watching the insurance market for some time. It’s taken steps to force insurers to improve information on their renewals, to help consumers in making decisions.

Renewal letters are mandatory, including the numbers previously paid by comparison with the proposed renewal figure. This letter must also encourage customers to make sure the cover is right for them, and remind them they can compare prices elsewhere.

Targeted price caps for particular insurance vendors are an option that could be explored by the Competition Markets Authority, but the outlawing of heightened renewal premiums looks unlikely.

Shop around – it’s easier than you’d think

insurance premiums

Switching insurers isn’t that difficult, and you don’t even have to switch to get a good deal. Get a good quote from someone else, then call up your current insurer and threaten to leave. Chances are, the numbers will tumble.

The reason it’s difficult to legislate against premiums is because, ultimately, it’s the consumer’s prerogative to find the best deal. Overly extortionate prices can be capped, but we owe it to ourselves to shop around.

“At renewal, car insurers offer to make life easy by continuing their customers’ cover without them needing to take any action,” said Lee Griffin, a founder of GoCompare.While this helps ensure drivers don’t inadvertently allow their cover to expire, the convenience of auto-renewing usually comes with a hefty price tag.  

“In lieu of legislation to close the gap between renewal and new business pricing, it’s imperative that people keep shopping around and switching to avoid getting ripped off.” 

Silverstone Auctions British Marques Sale

Jaguar XJ220s and super-rare custom XJS star at May auction

Silverstone Auctions British Marques SaleWhat could be better than owning one Jaguar XJ220? How about two – along with a rare distant cousin?

Next month’s Silverstone Auctions British Marques sale offers nearly a combined 1,100hp from the two XJ220s alone.

The incredible supercars form part of a collection dedicated to cars from Great Britain, on offer at Heythrop Park in Oxfordshire on 11 May.

Lot 429: 1995 Jaguar XJ220 – £325,000 to £375,000

Silverstone Auctions British Marques SaleThe Jaguar XJ220 stunned the world at the 1988 British Motor Show, with the promise of an exotic V12-powered supercar with four-wheel drive.

Many placed deposits, but demand would be hit by a dramatic downturn in the collector car market at the time.

Coupled with this, Jaguar also ditched the 4WD setup, moving to rear-wheel drive and a turbocharged V6 engine. Unsurprisingly, the initial flurry of 1,500 interested buyers fell to just 275 cars being delivered.

Silverstone Auctions British Marques SaleThose that stayed the course were not disappointed, though. Their £470,000 XJ220 was still beautiful, and would claim the title of fastest production car in the world in 1992.

Martin Brundle, of sports car racing and Formula 1 fame, clocked 212.3mph on the banked Nardo test track, although his record would be beaten after just a year

This particular right-hand-drive Le Mans Blue car has covered an astonishing 700 miles from new, and was found as part of a private collection in Malaysia.

Silverstone Auctions British Marques SaleIt means the Smoke Grey leather interior is as good as when in left the factory in 1995, and the 549hp 4.0-litre V6 has barely been run-in. Despite that, the car has been subject to a thorough overhaul by XJ220 specialists, Don Law Racing.

More than £25,000 was spent on maintenance, with the fuel tanks replaced, plus a set of new XJ220-specific Pirelli tyres sourced from Jaguar’s Classic Works department.

Lot 410 1997 Jaguar XJ220 – £300,000 to £350,000

Silverstone Auctions British Marques SaleThe second XJ220 up for grabs is this 1997 left-hand-drive example. Originally delivered to a buyer in Germany, we imagine this Spa Silver car made for fast progress and an impressive sight on unrestricted Autobahns.

Having covered 20,800km (12,925 miles) from new, the car has certainly seen more use than Lot 429, with the lower estimated selling price reflecting that.

It has also notched up six owners in the UK, but does have a fully documented history file.

Silverstone Auctions British Marques SaleLot 410  has also undergone recent mild restoration work at Jaguar’s own Classic Works department, with an unspecified but ‘significant’ amount spent there.

Included in the sale is an appropriate number plate, with Lot 410 wearing ‘220 XK’ just in case anyone needs reminding what the car is.

Silverstone Auctions British Marques SaleAlthough overshadowed by later hypercars such as the McLaren F1, the XJ220 still remains a formidable performance machine. If anything, these Big Cats are a comparative bargain.

Being capable of 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds, and setting a lap record around the Nürburgring-Nordschleife is pretty impressive, after all.

Lot 447: 1989 Railton F29 Claremont – £60,000 to £70,000

Silverstone Auctions British Marques SaleOne of the quirkier lots for sale at the Sale of British Marques is this incredible creation, one of only two ever made.  

Based upon the running gear of a contemporary Jaguar XJ-S, but with bodywork styled by William Towns, the F29 Claremont pays tribute to the classic Railton land-speed record cars of the 1930s.

Towns had previously designed the Aston Martin DBS V8, along with the wedge-shaped Lagonda, but had plans for an updated version of the Jaguar XJ-S convertible.

Silverstone Auctions British Marques SaleConstantly updating his sketches in hope of producing a car he referred to as the XJX, Towns seemed destined never to see his dream become reality. However, a chance meeting with millionaire John Ransom would change that.

With Ransom providing the money, Towns was able to put his dream into production, with Park Sheet Metal responsible for the streamlined bodywork. The company also constructed the XJ220, providing a neat link with the two lots above.

Priced at £105,000 when new in 1991, just two Railton F29s were produced, with this particular car staying in the possession of William Towns until his death in 2006.

Silverstone Auctions British Marques SaleIt’s powered by a 280hp Jaguar V12 engine, has covered 13,700 miles and comes with an in-depth history file.

Performance was somewhat sedate, with 0-60mph taking 8.1 seconds. The aerodynamic styling allows for a top speed of 143mph.

Although clearly not as quick as the XJ220s, the F29 Claremont is certainly rarer, and could potentially draw just as big a crowd of enthusiasts at any car show.

Jaguar I-Pace electric car charging at Gaydon

Revealed: the real barriers to drivers going electric

Jaguar I-Pace electric car charging at Gaydon

New research reveals what British motorists’ real concerns are about electric cars, and why many are hesitant to make the switch

The survey by Jardine Motors Group covers 2,000 car owners and throws up some interesting stumbling blocks…

Electric cars are too expensive

Electric car sales USA America Trump

Around three quarters of respondents said electric cars need to be cheaper before they’d seriously consider buying one.

Even with subsidies, electric cars are, generally speaking, more expensive than their internal-combustion counterparts. Save perhaps for the forthcoming Tesla Model 3, which ought to match or beat similar executive cars on price.

The fear of running out of charge

It’s a combination of a charging network that’s perceived as inadequate, plus cars that don’t go far enough and don’t charge quick enough.

Seven in 10 said they were worried about battery life. And eight in 10 of those who are debating the move said they were apprehensive about running out of charge.

Generally speaking, a minimum range of 260 miles was considered desirable before electric cars would be viable. Two-thirds also worry that many electric cars take too long to charge.

Charging an electric car is too complicatedCarwow ULEZ hybrid electric car

Seven in 10 respondents said all new-build homes should have charging points built in, while six in 10 said that it should be made law for employers to install electric car charging facilities.

The general feeling is that charging your car isn’t as easy as filling up with fuel, and that significantly reduces appeal. 

Just 15 percent plan to switch

In total, 300 respondents (15 percent) said they were looking to switch to an EV in the coming year.

Cars like the Kia E-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric are closing in on a 300-mile range, and more like them are to come. Range is a problem that’s getting solved, gradually.

However, manufacturers still need to bring prices and charge-times down – and a cohesive, easy-to-use charging infrastructure needs to ramp up.