Category Archives: Friday Autoeclectic

Friday Autoeclectic: Astra GTE

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By Tim Smith

A few months ago I wrote a post about the Ford Sierra XR4i. My father owned that car around about the time we, as a family, were members of a local Fellowship. It was all about holding hands in the air and speaking in tongues and people who had been spoken to by The Lord.

If I’m honest I found it all a little confusing. Anyways, something that particular church was good at was cars. You see this was the eightees. Young twenty/thirty somethings who had the will and the way were making money left, right and, well, mostly to the right, regardless of belief.

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While my Dad had his 4i, one of his mate’s at the Fellowship had an Astra GTE. I knew, as a kid, that the 4i was faster, but not by much. They used to joke about racing. I’m not sure they ever did.

Fast forward ten years or so and myself and a date have been stuffed into the back of an acquaintance’s modified GTE. She was a nice girl, that date. I definately laughed too loud at one point (where nobody else did) while we watched American Pie in the Cinema, and I definately didn’t laugh anywhere else, but what the hay… what was I talking about?

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Ah, yes. The GTE. As he threw that thing along the main road from Stroud to Gloucester I can honestly say I’ve never been in something that felt so deeply overpowered. If this was Star Trek and I was an engineering chief, I’d be shouting  STRUCTURAL INTERGRITY FAILING.’

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Vauxhall, historically aren’t very good at making something that handles. However, they are quite good at getting people to make engines for them.

The GTE was no exception, the first version developing 124bhp from 1.8 litres. Later versions employed the 2-litre ‘red-top’ with 148bhp (or 150 of those slightly smaller German horses).

That doesn’t sound much in today’s money. After all, you can get that in a mid-range Corsa. But, here’s the rub: the Golf GTI of the 1.8’s time developed 112bhp. The Escort XR3i only 105bhp.

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The GTE, then, could outgun anything in it’s class at the traffic lights. In a time before Nurburgring lap times and ‘handling’ this was all that mattered.

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This week’s chosen car comes with the later red-top engine and the paint job, alloy combination I’ll always remember the GTE as having. At two-six, it does seem a little steep, but then, I reckon, that value will only climb.

Advert reproduced below:

Key facts

  • 1990
  • Petrol
  • Hatchback
  • Manual
  • 105000 miles

Solid Artic White, CURRENTLY UNDERGOING FULL SERVICE AND MOT AND CAMBELT, THIS GTE 16V IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS! VERY CLEAN INSIDE AND OUT WITH NONE OF THE USUAL RUST. CALL FOR FULL DETAILS, 12 months MOT, 6 months tax, Last serviced on 02/01/2014 at 105,000 miles, Service history, Excellent bodywork, Grey Cloth interior – Excellent Condition, Tyre condition Excellent, Immobiliser, Sunroof, Electric windows, Electric door mirrors, Sports seats, Power steering. 5 seats, CAR HAS BEEN GARAGED FOR LAST FOUR YEARS WITH VERY LITTLE USE. ORIGINAL SERVICE BOOK WITH STAMPS IN IT, ALL PREVIOUS MOT’S AND TAX DISCS! HPI CLEAR. A USABLE CLASSIC! CALL FOR FULL DETAILS, Experian auto check clear, £2,680

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Multiplication Innovation

Designed to be smaller, shorter than the competition, the Fiat Multipla was a moment of innovation for Fiat, and a moment of small mindedness for the buying public.

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Given the ‘Ugliest Car Of The Year’ award from that motoring show.  Interestingly, the television show’s sister magazine went on to vote it ‘Family Car Of The Year’ four years in a row. Three abreast seating made the most of the car’s footprint, while the rear seats (also three abreast) were configurable and removable giving a flexibility that even the then current MPV masters, Renault could not match. It can be argued that the Multipla is all the vehicle anyone could ever need.

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For the record, I like the looks. It is a machine with purpose, and together with those high, A-pillar mounted headlights it is comparable to a bus, train or even a light aircraft. This comparison, unfortunately will never find favour with the average consumer. We’ve all had it fed to us for too long that unless it has the grace of a Jaguar E-type, then it is ugly. It should be interesting that the true crux of this statement lies as much within the cultural perception of what is ugly, as to what actually can be shown to be objectively ugly; something that is proportionally disjointed.

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In the long-term it is likely that the Multipla (pre-facelift) will become a design and enthusiast’s classic. Some band of ‘forward thinking individuals’ will adopt it sooner or later. My money’s on a likely replacement to the VW Kombi, a car that is beginning to arch its way over the budget of the average earner.

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Of course, I could be wrong, but Multipla’s are bottoming out at the moment. If you desire to own something truly clever, for not a lot of outlay…

Advert reproduced below:

One owner from new, low mileage for year.New clutch fitted in November 2013, has been a very reliable car., BLUE, 1 owner, Next MOT due 01/10/2014, Tax expires 28/02/2014, Full service history, Electric windows, Air conditioning, CD player, Height adjustable driver’s seat, Folding rear seats, Child seat points (Isofix system), Alloy wheels, Spare wheel (Space-saver), Power steering, Steering wheel rake adjustment, Traction control, Central locking, Alarm, Immobiliser, Driver’s airbags, Side airbags, Passenger airbags. £875

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Ovlov Love

The first Volvo was made in 1927, the OV4 ‘Jacob’.

Built on a frame using beech and ash, it was, as Volvos still are, not overtly revolutionary, yet strong and capable. It was available in any colour as long as it was dark blue with black wings.

Volvo, have, over the years, become known for their solidity, and, to this day, trade inside of a culture that believes them to be safer than the competition. Occasionally, in the manufacturers history, someone, somewhere has been able to convince the powers that determine Volvo’s course to do something interesting.

Volvo 480

In 1986 Volvo launched the 480 coupe. It was Volvo’s first FWD passenger car. Early cars suffered from electrical problems, and seals tend to go on the pretty, rear, frameless bootlid, but these problems were largely cured with an attention to mechanical detail that the Swedish company have become known for. Still, it’s worth checking the footwells and boot floor for rainwater.

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The engines, by todays standards seem underpowered until you find out that the whole car weighs little over a ton. It might even be fun to drive. This particular car looks like it is owned by an enthusiast, a good sign for what is a rare but elderly car. Honest John quotes a 37.1% pass rate for MOTs. Enough said.

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I suspect that values for this pretty little Volvo (an interesting concept in of itself) have bottomed out, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Petrolicious made a short film on one in ten years or so time.  Maybe, maybe not. Either way I’m very near to buying this one for myself…

 

Advert reproduced below:

 

£550Volvo 480 GT 3dr 2.0

1994PetrolCoupeManual168000 miles
Reduced to £550 or Best Offer! Only selling because I’m starting a business. £2k+ spent on her to date. All work done by a qualified, very experienced mechanic. Only 250 of the 480GT model were made. The 480 was the first model to have the SIPS – Side Impact Protection System. The Air Conditioning was re-charged in July ’13. Overall she is in v.g.c. All 4 tyres are good as are the brakes. It had a Full Service & a new Clutch kit fitted 3 months ago. Hardly been driven since. Body work is good overall for her 19yrs. A little bit of surface rust on the bottom of the passenger door. The driver’s door was replaced 2 yrs ago with a white one. It was professionally resprayed & fitted but has a little bit of flaking in a few places. She comes with: original set of Snow Mats – front & back + original Vesa rims. She has a Manual 5-Speed Gearbox. Being sold with 2 sets of interiors. The original individually painted ‘patchwork’ design all leather interior. However, she currently has the other set installed – the Black Jacquard, which has leather trim. She also has the rare & much sort-after Roller Boot Cover. The spring action is no longer functioning, but the cover is still operable manually. She is 19 years old & does have some age related wear & tear. Please bare this in mind. N.B. If you get no answer when you phone, please leave your details so I can return your call., GREEN, 5+ owners, Part service history, Electric windows, Air conditioning, CD player, Leather trim, Heated seats, Height adjustable driver’s seat, Height adjustable passenger seat, Folding rear seats, Sports seats, Metallic paint, Spare wheel (Space-saver), Power steering, Steering wheel rake adjustment, Central locking, Alarm, Driver’s airbags. £550

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XR For i

My Father has a somewhat interesting if rough car history. A fascination with all things mechanical led him to love his machines. We, as a family, were never moneyed enough to have anything exotic but one car will always stick(1) in my mind.

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The Ford Sierra had a troubled birth, being widely lambasted by the tabloid press as having  ‘jelly mould’ styling. In an effort to give the car a fighting chance in the stare of poor sales a halo model was commisioned.

The XR4i, again, did not take an easy path. Earlier development models were inadequately powered and the heart of ‘the car you’ve always promised yourself’(2) was installed.

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The 4i didn’t sell well, but it did pave the way for the first and last of the European Ford thunder-saloons, the ineffable Sierra Cosworth.

For a certain six-year-old child it looked like everything you would ever want in a car. Not just a single, but double decked spoiler(3) attached to a coupe body with graphicked rear three-quarter windows.

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I have still vivid memories of my Father driving it with some abandon. These memories and this car are a part of the culture that makes me.

Today, it would neither see nor hear which way a moderately well driven Mondeo Diesel had come or even gone, but the romance of the car still remains. There are precious few left, and they will probably all go quietly into the void as folly for Ford and an example of poor motoring taste, but please, if you have the chance to own one, treat it well, for it is still part of a small (big) boy’s dream.

Advert reproduced below:

Registered on the Isle of Man from new and is believed to be the last example on the Island
Owned for 25 years with only one previous owner
Unmodified from original specification
93,000 miles PAS SunRoof,
no rust or body damage, interior in good condition
Has been serviced and maintained by the same garage for over 20 years and comes with FSH
In regular use and has been kept garaged
Price: £2225 Or near offer
Advert Type: For Sale
Category: Classic Cars
Make: Ford
Model: Sierra
Model (alt): Sierra XR4i
Year: 1984
Country: UK
Region: Isle of Man
Town: Douglas
Telephone: 07043 235363  (Privacy Service)
Status: Private
E-mail: Contact Advertiser via Email
Listing Date: 21-Jul-2013
Ref: C391725

                                                                        

1. And my Mother’s, as it turns out. (See comments)

2. The later 2.8 ‘Cologne’ V6, not the 3.0 mentioned in the ad…

3. This apparently served no better purpose than creating a certain amount of front end lift/alarm during high-speed driving.

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No Time

Renault is not historically an avant guarde maker of machines. While Citroen took care of the godess’ Renault would go about the everyday making hatchbacks for the everyman and woman. Indeed, their only standout innovative product(1) was the 1984 Espace.

Although the Espace wasn’t an especially new idea(2) Renault held onto this success so tightly that in 2001 they attempted to replace the unloved Safrane with two cars, one of which was effectively an Espace coupe, the Avantime.

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Thierry Metroz, design project manager, said ‘we wanted someone walking around the car to be continually astonished'(3). Although looking a little loose next to the 1999 ‘Coupespace’ concept, the Avantime retains its form simply by being unique.

The car features, contrary to much of the current generation, a large glass house. With no B pillars, both front and back windows could be retracted for a ‘grand air’ mode. The upper frame is exposed aluminium giving, perhaps, the world’s only justified two-tone colour scheme.

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The Avantime was effectively built, designed and engineered by Matra, the original makers of the Espace, their reasoning being that those who had been transported as children around in the Renault badged MPV would remain loyal to the concept. They weren’t, although putting one foot in front of the other in almost any European population centre will reveal that they did buy into the conceptually similar ‘crossover’.

Personally, I will never forget that as I would arrive to junior school I would always see a friend being delivered by the then new generation one Espace V6. It really did look like a shuttle that could achieve warp speeds. I still want one now.

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I think it is reasonable to state that almost everything on the road has become distinctly Germanic. Renaults own range (Renault Sport excepted(4)) has become largely derivative of this model. Perhaps seeking to distinguish themselves they have recently signed a production and development deal with Caterham. Renault Sport will continue to define their romanticism as a product, but we probably won’t see anything like the Avantime again.

Howmanyleft.co.uk shows that their are only 299 registered to British roads. I would suggest you go and find one.

Advert reproduced below:

£2,995

Renault Avantime 2.0 16V TURBO DYNAMIQUE 3DR 2002

Blue, Standard Features – ABS, Alloy wheels, Central locking, Electric sunroof, Front armrest, Headlight washers, Folding rear seats, Immobiliser, Passenger airbag, Rear armrest, Side airbags, Radio/CD, Rear headrests, Traction control, Audio remote control, Body coloured bumpers, Drivers airbag, Electric door mirrors, Front electric windows, Front head restraints, Heated door mirrors, Height adjustable drivers seat, PAS, Rear wiper, Remote central locking, Trip computer, Alarm, Electrically adjustable drivers seat, Front fog lights, Isofix child seat anchor points, Rear electric windows, £2,995

1. Although it was marketed and sold by Renault, the Espace was designed and engineered by Matra. For the sake of market dominant logic I will place the design and engineering-set within the end-consumer-standpoint-set.

2. The Espace was preceded by Guigiaro’s 1978 concept, the Lancia Megagamma, and to a certain extent the 1956 Fiat 600 Multipla.

3. Hutton, R, (2002) Renault Avantime [online] Available from: http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/renault-avantime-mini-test-road-test [Accessed 15/08/13]

4. There is a sub-argument that states the hot-hatch (largely what Renault do best these days) concept was first populated by the French with the Renault 5 Gordini. This maybe true, but the one we all remember, the one that perfected the recipe, was the Golf GTI.

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Galaxie’s Past

Even with a 7.0 litre V8, and even when put through a thorough weight loss program the second generation Ford Galaxie was not light enough to compete successfully on the drag-strips of the United States. Some of these lightened and modified Galaxie’s made there way on to the overcast shores of the archipelago known as the United Kingdom. There, they were given a new set of modifications making them suitable for the circuit racing based British Touring Car Championship.

The brute force of these large over-powered machines was enough to annihilate not only Jaguar’s superiority but also their own brakes. Many were crashed and by the time an answer had been found (GT40 spec discs) Lotus had modified another, more European Ford, the Cortina. The Galaxie’s sovereignty was finished.

Today’s SHCOTW is a slice of that American dream. Although not fitted with the 427cu.inch (7.0-litre) V8, it gets by with a 289cu. inch (4.7 litre) Windsor V8, an engine that Ford salesmen were still taking Benjamins for in 2001. 

The Galaxie pre-dates the Muscle Car period and this example should only produce around 190hp, but these machines are handsome, square-jawed and strait-talking in a way that American cars haven’t been for nearly forty years. Things, of course, have moved on and there is a chance that Elon Musk is redefining the American car as I write this, but it is always interesting to look in on that foreign country: the past. 

Advert reproduced below:

 

£11,995

Ford Galaxie 2 DOOR 500 1963

2 Doors, Automatic, Coupe, Petrol, 81,000 miles, Metallic SAND GOLD. JUST AN ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS RUST FREE DRY TEXAS STATE IMPORT, A TRULY WONDERFUL EXAMPLE OF THE NASCAR INSPIRED FASTBACK GALAXIE COUPE . RARE TO FIND SUCH A SOLID CAR AND EQUALLY RARE TO FIND ONE WITH THE 289 V8 ENGINE, RUNS LIKE A TOP AND PULLS LIKE A TRAIN…THROUGH IT’S CRIUSE A MATIC AUTO TRANSMISSION , SUPERB CHROME AND LOVELY INTERIOR WITH A FEW VERY MINOR BLEMISHES THAT YOU WOULD EXPECT FOR A 50 YEAR OLD CAR BUT WAY BETTER THAN ANY OTHER EXAMPLE WE HAVE SEEN OVER HERE IN THE UK FOR YEARS. TOTALLY ON THE KEY AND READY TO DRIVE AWAY STUNNING BIG ’60’S FORD WOW !!!. £11,995

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Vorsprung durch Technik

The rise of Audi, can, in many ways, be charted back to the Quattro. It is how they continue to sell their machines, and how consumers buy into that particular dream. 

A dream, however, as Lancia, Alfa-Romeo and in the not too distant past, Land-Rover demonstrated, is not enough. The dream must be backed up with a solidity of promise.

In 1982 this solidity was realised through the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’, ‘Advancement through technology’. The success of this phrase is made all the more remarkable that it was placed into a still Germanophobic society.

It was not the Quattro drivetrain, however, that formed the chassis of Audi’s success, but all the small things that add up to an efficient, well-built, satisfying product that pays regular tribute to the motoring writers cliche ‘hewn from solid’.

This weeks SHCOTW (A better title is in the lab, I promise) is a major piece of that culture. There aren’t many left of these remaining, with howmanyleft.co.uk showing a major fall in this early model’s numbers. This car over all other Audi products was featured both in Stephen Bayley’s book Cars – Freedom, Style, Sex, Power, Motion, Colour, Everything and The Design Museum’s Fifty Cars That Changed The World‘. It is now surely safe to say this is a classic. 

I give you two examples. One, surely the best model to find but a suspected money pit, and two, a relatively safe bet with a slightly steep price tag. Of course, life isn’t always so black and white and patience is the virtue within consumer society…

Adverts reproduced below:

Description

FOR FULL DETAILS OF THIS CLASSIC 2.2 5 CYLINDER QUATTRO TURBO  COMPLETE WITH 12 MONTHS MOT, PLEASE RING-07850550519, CASH ON COLLECTION.
VIEWING IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BEFORE BIDDING,PLEASE PHONE FOR DETAILS.

Part exchange

part ex possible
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Audi 100 CC TurboDiesel (Classic Car) 
£2,700 Omagh, County Tyrone

Audi 100cc Trubodiesel (Classic car) 1-owner, Full Service, New Timingbelt kit + water pump + thermostat, new gashet, new battery, new breake pads, very clean, good drive, 2keys. No TAX, MOT 28.05.2014, no corode, very good condition.
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