Guest contributor: Justin Fox on Catalina Park, the hidden race track of Katoomba, Australia

•February 11, 2014 • 4 Comments

Earlier this week we hit the road to discover Catalina Park, a disused motor racing venue located at Katoomba, in the Blue Mountains.

The 2.1 km circuit opened on 12 February 1961 and was originally used for top-level motorsport in the 1960s (the lap record is 53 seconds). The mountain location caused problems with fog causing delays in the race programs; in addition, the track was very narrow by today’s standards and surrounded by walls, Armco railings, and hillside. The track fell into greater disuse with the opening of other circuits nearer to Sydney such as Oran Park and Amaroo Park.

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Assorted grab bag of stuff we like

•February 10, 2014 • 7 Comments

Getting right to it.

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What’s the modern-day spiritual successor to the MkI Golf (Rabbit) GTI?

•February 7, 2014 • 5 Comments

We think it’s the Ford Fiesta ST. Adjusted for inflation, the GTI’s $8,350 in 1984 is roughly $18,800 today. The Ford Fiesta ST lists at $21,400.

If we were in the market for a brand new small, affordable hot hatch (note: we aren’t), the Fiesta ST would probably be the one to buy, as in many ways the latest GTI has matured its way out of the segment.

What a great new car purchase this would make.

Guest contributor: Shaheen Karimian and Lindsey Stengle on the 1968-1976 Mercedes-Benz W114

•February 4, 2014 • 1 Comment

The Mercedes-Benz W114 and W115 (six-cylinder and four-cylinder versions of the same chassis, respectively), produced from 1968 to 1976, was the predecessor to the modern-day E-Class. Often overlooked today in favor of such models as the W123 (its popular immediate successor) and the upmarket W108 (with which its production overlapped), the Stroke Eight or Strich Acht has nevertheless attracted a small but devoted following. Friends, business partners, and W114 owners multiple times over Shaheen Karimian and Lindsey Stengle of Niche Motoring talk to us about their appeal.

MCB: Why the W114?

NM: To us, the W114 strikes the perfect balance between the old school, chrome bumpers and hubcaps-era Benz and what is considered a “modern” vehicle. They are a forgotten model in the classic Mercedes lineup and deserve some love. Cars and parts are still readily available and cheap compared to the bigger models in the range. W114s also feature Benz’s famous feeling of quality. Door action is incredibly precise and classically vault-like.

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Assorted grab bag of stuff we like

•February 3, 2014 • 12 Comments

Getting right to it.

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Flogging the 6.9 (at 8/10ths) at Road Atlanta

•January 29, 2014 • 5 Comments

This has always been a good read. The synopsis:

[Journalist Brock] Yates was approached by the [Daimler-Benz] factory to write promotional literature about the [Mercedes-Benz 450SEL] 6.9. He agreed, but under the condition that he could list the car’s faults as well as its positives. Daimler-Benz agreed in turn, and Yates was given a US-spec 6.9 to drive from Manhattan to the Road Atlanta grand prix race track in Georgia (source).

Some choice bits:

…In driving parlance, a brisk pace on the highway is sometimes described as 5/10th, while a flat-out, no-holds-barred lap of a race track is measured at 10/10ths…

 

…At 120 mph, I slipped open the sun roof and made a lap with the radio playing. This was perfectly practical in terms of wind noise and general listening pleasure, but I shut the sound off and went back to work, fearing that a music-induced lapse in concentration might bend some very expensive sheet metal…

 

…The car rolled into the pits and aside from a slight, completely normal hissing sound as the hydropneumatic suspension readjusted itself, the 6.9 was behaving as if nothing had happened – much like a strong, young thoroughbred after an early morning exercise…

Read all of it here.

Guest contributor: Rick Flores on his 2002 Honda S2000

•January 28, 2014 • 10 Comments

We think that the Honda S2000 – produced from model year 2000 to 2009 – is destined to become a classic. Respected by driving enthusiasts the world over as much today as they were when first introduced, we suspect they will only increase in esteem with the passage of time. And while we’re usually a proponent of a car’s stock wheel-and-tire setup, we like owner Rick Flores’ example – a lot – for the way its delicious BBS RXes fill out the Honda’s wheel arches. It just looks the business, doesn’t it?

MCB: Why the S2000?

RF: Going into my search for a car I knew I wanted the car to be five things: a) exceptionally sporty, as well as a good platform for modification, b) reliable enough to not leave me stranded wherever I needed to go, c) rare enough to turn heads, d) easy enough to work on with hand tools and basic mechanical skills, and e) rear wheel drive. I had a preference for something with an open top and a naturally-aspirated engine. Naturally, my short list included cars like the Porsche Boxster, the BMW Z4, and the Honda S2000. Projected running costs nixed the Boxster, and poor performance compared to the S2000 nixed the Z4. There was only one car for me.

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