A trip to the ‘big city’…

LCCSLast weekend we made a rare visit to London to the London Classic Car Show, held in Excel in the Docklands. After a horrible train journey – 90 minutes longer than scheduled into London – which made us very glad we have given up commuting, it was an easy underground and Docklands Light Railway trip to the exhibition centre.

We had been invited as guests of our clients GaugePilot who were exhibiting at the show. GaugePilot is a very sophisticated in-car information system, with multiple applications for Classic, Rally and Race cars. Designed to look just like a 1950’s SpeedPilot, the unit offers several types of rally computer and was recently tested by James on the Winter Trial with great success. James has been working with GaugePilot to develop some of the rally applications and he is an authorised installer.

With up to 25 different gauges giving classic drivers peace of mind, the system constantly monitors the critical outputs of the engine and alerts can be set to allow the driver to stop before expensive damage is occurred. The GP also can also take the drama out of maintenance by storing all maintenance information and alert when routine servicing is due. For track use the system can life monitor critical components and data-logging software allows a driver or mechanic to recall and analyse how an engine has performed and review any triggered alerts.

GaugePilot are a new British company who are attracting a lot of interest. Here’s a picture of Rauno Altonen with GaugePilot when it was fitted in Brother Regie the Renault at Goodwood and in the Volvo on the Winter Trial at night.gp-rauno gp-winter-trialDSC06689

It’s been some years since we have been to a Classic Car show and there were some interesting things to see although a lot of the stands were high end dealers selling beautiful but slightly boring Jags, Porsches and the like.  The USP of the London Show is the ‘Grand Avenue’ a road through the middle of the show where cars are actually driven. This year it was set up as the 6 nations and countries competed for the public vote to who had produced the most iconic cars. I believe that Britain won! It’s quite a nice idea but in an exhibition centre the noise especially the commentary and the music was so loud you couldn’t hear yourself talk during the demonstrations which I imagine the dealers found very irritating.

Here are some pics of the cars I found interesting…

The Japanese section of the 6 nations was the most interesting, with this lovely Honda S800, cute Toyota sports 800, rare Nissan Skyline GTR and an unseen before Daihatsu Compagno Berlina 800. All really interesting and unusual.DSC06664 DSC06665 DSC06666DSC06669 DSC06667 DSC06668DSC06670 DSC06671 There were some lovely little 500’s for sale and although expensive seemed better value than some I’ve seen. I thought the little luggage rack would look good on Mario (or Nippy) but James felt it would cause too much loss of air flow to the engine.DSC06672 DSC06673 DSC06674 Bob Peterson’s recreations are amazing, I had to take a picture of this Birkin Bentley as we called our latest cat Birkin after Sir Tim Birkin (Our older cat is called Bentley)DSC06675 DSC06679 DSC06680 One of my favourite stalls although not motoring related was the City of London Distillery, I love artisan gins and these were very good, made in the City of London, under Blackfriars bridge, the lovely bottle is shaped to look like the dome of St Paul’s. I can feel the need for another trip to London to visit the Distillery.DSC06686 There were a few new cars dotted around including this eye-catching Fiat Abarth.DSC06690 An interesting display of McLaren F1’s with some great information, stories and bits of memorabilia around from the early days of Gordon Murray designing the car.DSC06691 DSC06692 DSC06693 DSC06695 DSC06696 The car I would ‘most like to buy’ was this lovely Fiat Giardiniera but no price tag!DSC06697 DSC06699 DSC06700

So our first ‘car’ event of the year and it’s now less than a month to the Goodwood Members Meeting so 2016 is now officially underway… watch this space, Mario will soon be out to play!

A day at McLaren F1…

Last saturday Mario (along with his friend Kato the Subaru 360) was invited to take part in the McLaren Employees Motorshow. The day at the spectacular McLaren Technology Centre near Woking was held during the F1 season summer break and was an excuse for staff to show off their interesting cars and specially invited others, to their family and friends and raise some money for Help for Heroes.

There was quite an interesting collection of cars including hotrods and americana, race machinery, including one guys collection of Lola’s, bikes and classics plus some modern sports cars, a smattering of McLarens road cars and even a couple of powerboats. The Bloodhound Land Speed Record team were also their with their mock up of the vehicle due to attempt the 1000mph on land challenge. Mario’s humans were especially keen on a couple of lovely Opals, the Manta would be a lovely everyday practical classic.

We were allowed in the Technology Centre to see the collection of McLaren race cars and the very impressive display of trophies although you wouldn’t want a lot of them on your mantlepiece, for something that is given as a prize for winning a significant world event some of them are very tacky looking and the use of sponsors logo’s as awards should definitely be banned – the Santander ‘flame’ trophies look especially poor!

We thought that we should keep quiet about Mario’s ‘relationship’ with Adrian Newey – ex McLaren designer and now at arch enemy Red Bull, funnily enough there didn’t seem to be any sign of the energy drink as refreshments! drain who we often see at the Goodwood Revival has always expressed his appreciation of the Multipla’s innovative design for it’s time.

Unfortunately there was no photography allowed inside the centre. You could see some of the workshop areas behind glass walls and they were completely pristine as was the whole of the building, McLaren are renowned for their precision and attention to detail which was certainly apparent wherever you looked down to the pens in the meeting room all being placed at exactly the same angle at every place. The actual building is very beautiful being long and low, constructed of glass and situated on the edge of an infinity lake, the surroundings are very natural with lots of wild planting.

Mario and Kato as always attracted a lot of attention. However it was the hottest day of the year and was rather a long and tiering day as we had to be there by 8.30 am and couldn’t leave until after 5pm. Mario went rather well and seemed to enjoy his ‘blast’ up and down the A3 having to be reined in at times from going too fast, he even overtook at one point but it was a Austin 7!