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Ran When Parked: Taking the Path less Travelled

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In recent weeks I have taken to riding my bike, nominally as a token gesture towards staying fit, but also as a means of enjoying something other than four-wheeled, fuel-burning personal transport.

My hour-long lunchtime ride also unlocks bits of my local scenery which have hitherto been too far removed far easy walking, yet not accessible by car, and it was while exploring a lane no wider than I am tall, that I was forced to grab two handfuls of my appallingly adjusted disc brakes and bring myself to an emergency stop.

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The Pointless Art of Putting off Purchases

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So, earlier this year my trusty Halfords own-brand, Pacific-rim manufactured 12 volt “Tyre Inflator” noisily coughed its last and seized. It was 20 or so years old and, though I opened it up out of morbid curiosity to gauge its potential fixability, I declared it dead. To be honest, judging by the sub-optimal engineering within, it’s a minor miracle that it made it through to its third operational decade.

So, with it confirmed as deceased, I reverted to my old (even older?) Halfords foot-pump. Thanks to a nail in Rover’s front right tyre, every third morning would see me pumping away at quarter-past seven, adding an additional 15PSI in order to drive to work. The tyre is now repaired, so my use of the foot pump became increasingly sporadic. A fortnight ago, though, I embarked on a plan to start using my bicycle again. I immediately discovered the tyres to contain not even a gnat’s fart worth of air, so it was out with the footpump again, which responded by falling to pieces in punishment for my complacency.

I stared at it numbly, with a knowing thought of “it figures”. And then smacked myself on the back of the head for not buying a replacement compressor already. What’s the longest you’ve unjustifiably left buying something you really need?

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In Search Of Drivetrain Feel: Finding it on my Bike

A few weeks back I had an epiphany. During a damn good trip out on my friend’s yacht, I suddenly found myself overdosing on all the sensation that I had been missing out on in virtually all of the modern cars I’ve driven in recent years. Steering systems in cars today deny us of the feel, communication and sensitivity that was once abundant in even humble cars of the past. It’s an evolution thing- the information may not be there but we can be pretty sure the grip is, and the car will make the turn. The tiller of a sailing boat, though, is loaded with information thanks to physics. The feeling is so real you could eat it.

It was after this tactile reawakening that I found myself thinking about other things a car does that we rarely feel, and one that struck me was that we’re hardly ever aware of how much effort the engine is putting into those daily errands we dismiss as trivial. There’s one easy way to remind ourselves.

You gotta ride a bicycle.

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Diecast Delights: Curio Corner – Peugeot 307 Paperweight by Norev

My wife is, if not supportive, certainly tolerant of my 1:18 collecting habits. Though no doubt wary of the increasing demands that my 100+ boxed models place on our attic storage resources, she is sensible to the joy and pleasure that I derive from them. Though I usually unbox them in private, (lest she find out I’ve bought another one), if I do brazenly open one up in the living room, she eyes me in the same kindly, understanding way as she might if I were a toddler.

This time, though, when the wraps came off she showed less patience, and instead issued, “great. Now just what the f*** are you going to do with that?”

And I don’t really know.

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The Carchive: The 1976 Ladas

It’s been a great week in the Redusernab, and we’ve seen an awful lot of ongoing projects. Some are fixer-uppers, some are basket-cases and some are just so monumentally exciting as to defy any attempt at description. But only one of them is a Lada.

In honour of Kamil’s Soviet slingshot, we’re heading back to Togliatti and 1976, to have a look at some Ladas.

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Project Car SOTU 2016: The Lion goes from strength to strength.

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When I documented the tragic events that unfolded late last year, where the life of my wife’s venerable Peugeot 306 briefly hung in the balance, public reaction was heartwarming. Internationally, the loyal readers of a website littered with exotic Mercedes, glamorous Datsun and exquisite Subaru project cars to name but a few, had embraced the old Peugeot to their collective bosom.

Well, from us both, thank you. And so for a full update on progress on the Peugeot, which continues to perform flawlessly on Nicola’s daily commute, as well as whisking us off for various low-budget holiday adventures. Just what have I achieved since last year?

Well, I’ve bought some paint.

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Project Car SOTU 2016: Rover 825 Si. Roverjoyed.

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I’m really not sure I’m doing this project car thing right. These stories are supposed to be full of skinned knuckles, bloodshed, anguish, despair and sorrow. On Monday my Audi update offered you nothing but a whimsical tale of low-stress ownership and perfect reliability. Today I follow it up with the latest on my 1997 Rover 825si Fastback, and it’s a story of low-stress ownership and perfect reliability.

Sorry about that.

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Diecast Delights: 1938 Auto-Union Type C Record Breaker in 1:18 scale.

Museums are divisive in their appeal. On the one hand, standing face to face with legendary machines, breathing in the vapours of oil and leather that time erodes from a classic or historic car is a humbling, nourishing experience.

On the other hand, unless such machines are kept working, you’re looking at corpses. Now inanimate hulks, the record breakers of the past are displayed in limbo between life and death. And if all the museum achieves is to enable us to gawp open-mouthedly at these silent giants, we might as well do that in the comfort of our own homes.

Here’s a good example of something worth revering, in a rather convenient scale.

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Project Car SOTU 2016: Project Audinary. Driving. Not quitting

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So it’s cammed, tubbed, lightened, balanced, bluprinted, polished, ported and perfect. Well, no, actually it’s none of those things. It does have an oil leak, but that’s more of a characteristic than a fault. The question it poses is- stick or twist?

The VW Group 1.8t engine is famously responsive to tuning efforts, with big dyno numbers just a map away, and the sky being the limit if you start swapping turbochargers and intercoolers around. The idea of more power is really very appealing. But, having just returned in it from a 1700 mile round trip to beyond the tip of Scotland, I get to wondering whether there’s really any point.

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The Carchive: The Renault Le Car 2 (5)

That time of the week has arrived where we briefly put aside all that is new and current, and take a few moments to think back at that which went before. The good, bad and ugly of motoring history. Join me for another visit to The Carchive,

Last week we were in late ’80s Italy for a look at one of the later X1/9s, a car which is difficult to imagine sitting in a Fiat dealer today. And so we move onto elsewhere in Europe, where Renault was trying to sell the last of their Mk1 Renault 5’s before an “all new SuperCinq” arrived. They called it Le Car, 2.

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