Wednesday 26 October 2022

Road - Ford Fiesta

Shedding a tear ... Ford has announced the discontinuation of the Ford Fiesta. Despite still being a popular entry level car for many folk, sales of compact SUVs are rising faster while saloon car sales are diminishing and that includes the Focus - and the Mondeo which has already gone.

So now it's the Fiesta's turn to disappear over the horizon into hazy fond memory territory. Forget the skinny wheels and the waggly gearstick, when it was launched in 1976 many folk thought it was the bees knees. Compared to today's cars it handled like a paper bag in the wind, but  back then it was considered pretty sharp, especially by the youngsters.

For many it was their first car and when Ford realised they had a winner on their hands along came the deluxe, Ghia and sporty versions.

The original 1100cc, 4 cylinder petrol engine pumped out some 52 bhp. Considering that today's 1 litre, three cylinder Fiesta ST can produce around 200 bhp, that sounds pretty desperate. But in a car which weighed less than three quarters of a tonne and featured all-round coil sprung suspension this provided a dose of automotive fun for a generation which had just discovered Status Quo, Dr Hook, Barry White and the Bay City Rollers, not to mention flower power and flared velvet trousers!

And although the nought to 60 mph time of 15 seconds doesn't sound much to get excited about, that put a lot of bigger cars to shame at a time when it was only the exotic specialist and expensive end of the market which produced sub 10 second machinery.

The car proved ripe for the tuning market and DIY brigade who indulged in twin choke carbs, high lift cams and straight through exhausts. So it was only a matter of time before Ford started introducing their own range of bigger engines.

Compared to today's 'hot hatches', the original Fiesta might not even be classed as 'warm', but back then this was as desirable and different as an Ariel Atom - with clothes on.

Another thing we'll miss is the price. The 1981 Ford Fiesta Mk1 in the photos was £3,674 when it was brand new 40 odd years ago!



Monday 24 October 2022

Rally - 2023 BRC Calendar & Dates

The 2023 MS UK British Rally Championship gets another makeover for next season. The championship series will feature seven events across the four home nations, with rallies in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, and Wales. It will also return to mainland Europe as it visits Belgium for the first time since 2019.

More info and dates here:


Saturday 22 October 2022

Rally - Defender Rally series

Arrive and Drive ... If you like rallying and fancy something different, there is an alternative. It's called the 'Defender Rally Series by Bowler 2023 UK Championship'. Basically this is a one-make 9 event series for current model Land Rover Defenders with the UK-wide championship taking in stage rallies, hill rallies and competition safaris, so a wide variety of events, terrains and challenges. Organised and promoted by Land Rover competition specialist Bowler Motors Ltd, the competition is limited to 12 teams with Bowler looking after the build and prep of 12 identically prepared 300 bhp Defenders. Options include buying and running your own car with a top-end 'arrive & drive' package for the well-heeled. The buy-in price starts from £108,334 (plus VAT) and if you think that's expensive then just count up what it would cost to buy and run a Rally2, 3 or 4 car for a season!

I've got the 334 quid end of the package but just need the other 100 grand to top it up. I'll tell you what though, having watched some hill rallies and comp safaris plus stage rallies I think I'd go for this rather than a season of car rallying! Or is that an age thing?

There's more info here:


Wednesday 19 October 2022

Rally - A clarification

Apparently quite a few folk were surprised to see a certain ex-journalist on Mull at the weekend after having said that he wasn't going to Mull at all, and then even more surprised to see a short report on this very page on his experience while there. Some folk even wondered if the chap in question had a change of heart and decided not to retire.

Nae chance, the big chap didn't actually tell any real 'fibs'. He didn't go to Mull as a journalist, he went as a spectator. There is a difference. As for the wee roundup report, that was based on just a few observations from the sidelines, and maybe you'll allow such personal indulgences from other 'spectator outings' in future.

So anyone expecting a review or report from this weekend's final round of the Scottish Rally Championship in Kielder will have to look elsewhere. Having said that, the big chap may well appear in the background but only as a spectator, and for the first time in a very long time, he won't make up his mind till the last minute. If it's cauld, wet and windy then he won't be going, but if it's to be fair, fine and dry then maybe, just maybe.

That in itself marks a big change in lifestyle. In the past, reporting duty demanded a physical presence at events. There are some 'journalists' around who will write reports from the luxury of home by phoning those who finished well for a few quotes plus a bit of background info. Then they will scour social media for film clips and information to add a bit of colour, but that's not the way the majority do it.

A proper job requires a physical presence. Wet feet, chapped lips, sunburn and midge bites - it all adds to the experience. There's nothing to beat standing under a flapping eezi-up trying to extract information from drivers and co-drivers, and if they won't tell, then quiz the service crews who have to fix the bluidy things! That cannot be replicated in a phone call.

Speaking for myself that means I don't HAVE to be there on Saturday, because I'm not reporting. However, I will have the luxury of deciding the night before whether I WANT to go or not, and that hasn't been the case for over 50 years. Admittedly, it's a weird feeling.

There were other reasons for going to Mull. It was the 50th running of the event and I just had to visit the cairn at Dervaig to tell Brian of future plans. And here's an odd, little known fact, there was another very personal reason too. My birthday is on the 15th of October each year. That means I have spent more of my birthdays on the Isle of Mull than I have with my own family at home! Maybe it's time to fix that!


Sunday 16 October 2022

Rally - MacKinnon's 4th Mull

Nine seconds determined the outcome of this year's Beatson's Building Supplies Mull Rally. After 150 miles of cut-throat, butt clenching competition, Paul Mackinnon with Paul Beaton took his 4th victory by just 9 secs from Daniel Harper and denying him his third crown. Astounding! Mackinnon first acquaintance with the new Hyundai was at the rally shakedown, so he was still learning on that first night, but then to go and win the bluidy thing. Amazing.

Hard lines for Harper and Chris Campbell. It could have been closer still as the MINI stalled on the start line of a Saturday afternoon stage necessitating a switch-off and compulsory re-set which takes an agonising 15 seconds as the car sat there just yards past the stage start line, silent but the clock already underway. Fortunately it fired up instantly after the reset and they were off but the lead has gone in that silly, electrical glitch.

After the daylight run, David Wright had closed the gap to 19 seconds on third placed John MacCrone but come the 30 miler and the Escort took a minute and 20 seconds out of the Fiesta. Job done.

Stephen Thompson had a marvellous run too in the 2 litre Mk2. He hasn't done many events this past couple of years, and despite the rust, finished 5th just ahead of the impressively fast improving newcomer to the sport, Neil Roskell. Wayne Sisson ensured that Mitsubishis can still be contenders as can Subaru Imprezas with Craig Rutherford 8th. And but for a "silly off", Stewart Morrison might have done better than 9th in his 2 litre Escort, but what about Alan Gardner? Tenth in a Mk1. OK it's a Millington Mk1, and the running gear is shit hot, but it's still a Mk1.

Event sponsor John Marshall had an excellent run into 11th just ahead of the 2 litre Mk2 of Mick Harbour but what about Ross Hunter in the Peugeot 205. 13th overall in a car powered by a 96,000 mile ex-taxi Citroen Xantia 2 litre engine. Incredible.

And then there's Des and Kev. Bluidy hell. The two front running 1600 cars finished 19th and 20th overall. A mighty effort from Dangerous Des in the wee Peugeot in the dark and streaming wet saw him overhaul King Kev in the Nova to take the class by 0.9 seconds. Yup, you read that right, less than ONE second separated this pair of fighting terriers. If you thought the fight for overall victory was close, the winning margin here was less than a BSB - British Standard Ba'hair.

Third in this class was young Archie Swinscoe. 25th overall in a Vauxhall Adam - stunning! This is only Archie's first full season in 'senior' rallying and his previous experience of night time rallies was the Jim Clark Friday night run and then Argyll, and remember, he put it off in the dark in Argyll! But to come here to Mull and do this. Watch out Rovanpera and Solberg, there's another youngster on the make.

Speaking of youngsters, John Cressey scored a scintillating 35th overall in a 'proper' Mini winning the 1300 class. If anyone exemplifies the spirit of Mull then it's North Yorkshire's Cressey. With his son Martin co-driving, Cressey Snr can trace his roots back to the 1990s and early 2000s when he and Ian Grindrod were regular top six finishers in a succession of Opel Mantas and Astras, and here he is, still rallying on Mull for the sheer fun of it in a wee Mini. Second in class was the mighty mouse itself, the Metro City of Innes Mochrie with daughter Kirsty keeping faither on the not so straight and very narrow. Magic.

And speaking of co-drivers, they too are stars of the show. Rallying, especially on Mull, is a team sport, and then there are the real stalwarts, the service crews. Lying in puddles with water running down their necks and out their trousers legs trying to fix the bluidy things that get battered, bent and broken.

Mull is not just about the winners though. Each and every finisher had their own personal victories, whilst the non-finishers will have their own very personal and often painful tales to tell too.

And the real nutters? Sorry, heroes? Those orange clad masochists who stood rooted and anchored to their posts throughout the weekend. It's a surprise none of them were blown off their feet across the Sound and onto the mainland!

As for this spectating lark. I stood there sodden, from bunnet to boot, feet splungeing on the move through wet grass and puddles, head bent against the wind and horizontal rain and thought, "WTF?" And then MacCrone came by, tyres smacking on the streaming wet tar, spray swishing from all four wheels, the bark of four mad mental cylinders thrashing out their rock'n'roll mechanical cacophany, red hot gases erupting from the pipe at the back, the tail sashaying out of the bend as the front wheels turned into the drift. Ya beezer, this spectating lark could maybe catch on, eh?

Top Ten

1, Paul MacKinnon/Paul Beaton  (Hyundai i20 Rally2) 2hrs 13mins 05.7secs

2, Daniel Harper/Chris Campbell (MINI JCW WRC) 2h 13m 14.1s

3, John MacCrone/Peter MacCrone (Ford Escort Mk2) 2h 14m 55.6s

4, David Wright/Paula Swinscoe (Ford Fiesta R5) 2h 17m 49.3s

5, Stephen Thompson/Larry Higton (Ford Escort Mk2) 2h 22m 54.6s

6, Neil Roskell/Andrew Roughhead (Ford Fiesta R5) 2h 26m 55.2s

7, Wayne Sisson/Peredur Davies (Mitsubishi Lancer EvoX) 2h 27m 40.1s

8, Craig Rutherford/Michael Hendry (Subaru Impreza) 2h 28m 32.4s

9, Stewart Morrison/Jason MacPhail (Ford Escort Mk2) 2h 29m 47.9s

10, Alan Gardiner/Dave Robson (Ford Escort Mk1) 2h 29m 51.4s