Don’t Wake The Sleeping Wagons

sleeper

Gargling Gas adores the wagon/estate cars and gets all excited and squirmy over sleepers – because these two trends have been red hot for a few years now, you only have to take a short trip from your front door to stumble across a project or two.

I stumbled across an Audi estate today, the reason for this post and also to touch on a prospect wagon/sleeper build I’ve been thinking of taking on since I saw an old twin-turbo Mitsubishi for sale at the side of a road for peanuts. The Audi wasn’t anything special, a late 90s silver estate, sitting slightly low. I wasn’t sure if the suspension was worn or the owner intended the slight drop, but judging by the reconditioned and freshly painted rims, I guess the former. Simply adding dark metallic grey rims to a retro estate suddenly gave it bags of character and instantly erased any preconceptions about “family runs”, “another baby on the way” and practicality.

Over the past few years, Wagons have gained popularity, partly thanks to the Hipster trend and their penchant for 80s euro estates like the Volvos and BMWs, and partly (I think) because the boxy and retro cars are fast becoming the cool ride to customise. Whether it’s a Volvo drift missile, a GM dragster, or even a Japanese sleeper, the need for angles and sharp lines, simplicity and easy tuning means anyone can stamp their mark on a cool car without breaking the bank.

Despite its spike in popularity, compared to the much sought after 80s Jap hot-hatch turbos such as the Honda City Turbo, the Nissan March (turbo and supercharged) and the Toyota GTI-R Pulsar, the wagon is still a cheaper option. Same goes if you were to compare the wagon to the Nissan Silvia, predominately the S13, as it’s the ultimate choice for drift builds and fast becoming hard to find unmolested and in manual.

However, there were a few desirable wagons before the likes of the AMGs and the Ms took over, cars built for the family man refusing to compromise on power. The BMW 325i Touring (below) and the Audi RS2 Avant (above) are great examples of German engineering, cars designed to transport family and furniture comfortably and at speed – solid examples are few and far between.

The great thing about the retro Wagon is you’re bring something different to the table, its versatility shrugging off any of the labels that automatically come with the hot hatch and drift missile. The fact they mostly come as RWD means they can be adapted for drifting; if you require the stealthy sheep-in-wolf’s-clothing mobile, the wagon is the master of deception, especially if it has a roof rack.

Back to the Mitsubishi. If I remember correctly, it was the twin-turbo Galant VR4 Estate with tinted glass, after-market rims and bonnet vents, very much like the picture above. The thing was dusty but looked menacing, as though abandoned. It’s twin-turbo 2.5-L V6  had covered 89,000 miles and it was up for Ā£2750, but I already had a WRX wagon I was having fun in at the time.

The VR4 produces 280-bhp, and with some tuning and light modification, it could pump out 320-bhp, something easily obtainable with a twin-turbo V6. The one I saw for sale wasn’t exactly a sleeper because it suggested power and menace, but imagine sourcing a clean example with original rims and a ventless bonnet. Picture it, having had a full engine service, a slight boost increase and a re-map, up on a dyno, the readout topping 320-bhp. You could get away with stripping out the interior because tinted rear glass isn’t uncommon with estates. You’d be left with a considerably lighter, 320+bhp twin-turbo family wagon, an ostensibly unthreatening car… until you cut it up on the motorway.

For a third of the price of decent Nissan S13 or a rare Jap hot-hatch turbo you can pick up a car with so much tuning potential and areas of weight reduction, it will come an obsession until you finally hit its sweet spot and see your reflection grinning back at you in the rearview as you glide past a 911 turbo.

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WRX STI Smashes TT Course (on four wheels)

If you follow Gargling GasĀ you’ll know I’m a big fan of the Subaru WRX – I’ve owned two and currently drive a slightly modded Prodrive WRX. They are fast, relatively cheap to maintain andĀ reliable given their performance and great handling – after all, their technology (yes, all WRX owners will tell you this, on more than one occasion) has been tried, tested and developed in the WRC.

Anyway, enough of me going on andĀ mentioningĀ the great Colin Mcrae and Robert BurnsĀ as there’s another name making the headlines in the auto world.

Three-time British Rally champion, Mark Higgins set a new lap record of the Isle of Man TT course in a stock US spec 2015 WRX STI (pic above), albeit it with additional roll-cage, race harness, fire suppression system and modified springs and dampers. Renowned worldwide as the superbike road courseĀ where mistakes aren’t forgiven and deaths are common, Higgins previously set theĀ lap record in 2011 driving a (you’ve guessed it) Subaru.

I say mistakes aren’t forgiven, but Higgins must have had the gods looking over him in 2011 when he made a spectacular 150-mph save. Check out the footage below and watch just how much he jostles withĀ the steering wheel to keep the rocket from slamming into the walls. In an interview after, the Manx driver claimed the only way out of that situation was to simply floor it and power his way out of the drift.

 

The guy has real skillz, agreed?

This time round Higgins completed the 37.75-mile (60.7km) death run in 19:26, just over half a minute quicker than 2011. The impressive package from Subaru averaged a staggering 117.510-mph, staggering because the course isn’t exactly racetrack smooth.

As soon as any video footage is released, you’ll find it on here.

Drift Garage, Forsberg & Tuerck

If you are even remotely interested in the drift scene, whether you follow Formula Drift or you prefer mixing it up on the streets with your friends and your zip-tied missiles, you’ll have heard of the names Ryan Tuerck and Chris Forsberg. Not only are they Formula Drift pros, but they also spend time wrenching and hooning in their garage.

Drift Garage is a youtube venture featured on the Network @ channel. They promote all things cool and street like skating, BMX and Drifting. Should you want to delve further into what serious drifters do in their garages to push the sliding boundaries, the series of videos below will leave you wanting to rush out and find a cheap Nissan you can wrench on.

I especially liked the episode where they build a drift missile for $5000. Forsberg and Tuerck are both informative and amusing and it’s great to see two pros messing with relatively cheap cars – just look at the drift warrior above, for example, a car build purely for function and not form.

Check Drift Garage out if you are looking to satiate that need to slide and do something a little different.

Little Red Corvette

The Corvette is to America what the Aston Martin is to England. It doesn’t need any introduction, and since the majority of my readers are from the States, I don’t need to waffle on about heritage or what it means to the U.S. However, I will say that the word ‘Corvette’ – in my mind – evokes images of those signature rear lights, Face from the A-Team, and the crossed flags badge. The Corvette is light and slender and designed to cut the air like a bullet. The horsepower is always massive and models of past were loud widow-making maniacs… which is why I’ve always fancied one.

Over here in the UK you can pick up a 2008 car with low miles for under Ā£30,000. The C6 is a great-looking car, and I found an eBay example for Ā£28,000 that possesses a massive 6.2-L V8. Because the Corvette is light compared to the European cars, and the fact it pumps out 440-bhp, it is fast… very fast. You get the looks, a wonderful sound track that canĀ crumble buildings, and enough power to lay thick elevens every time you even glanceĀ at theĀ accelerator.

Although Jeremy ClarksonĀ contradictsĀ himself a lot when it comes to the Corvette (most cars come to think of it) – he loves it, he hates it, it’s too flimsy, it’s the most uncomfortable ride in the world, you can’t have one in Britain etc – I don’t think it’s too out of place in the UK. We are a nation of people who need big 4X4s just to pop to the Post Office. Certain parts of the UK you’ll only find Range Rover Sports and Mercedes G Wagons, all driven by mums who need to fit in two children and a handbag. Why would the Corvette be out of place? It’s not massive compared to these 4X4s, it’ probably more economic than the supercharged Range Rover, and it’s no bigger than an Aston Martin or Ferrari 599.

If you want that car with savage acceleration and a gut-rumbling sound track, the Corvette is the one for the job. It may be a little flimsy, but it is light and will keep you on your toes when the road turns bendy. If I suffer a midlife crisis, I’ll take a red Corvette over the 911 any day.

 

 

 

 

H.R. Giger Inspired Car Art

 

Yesterday I sadlyĀ learned the passing of the incredibleĀ andĀ incomparableĀ surrealist painter, sculptor and set designer, H.R. Giger. If you’ve seen the Alien movies you’ll have witnessed the mind of this Swiss genius. I’m not usually a Sci-Fi fan, but the horrors Giger introduced into the Alien movies pushed them heavily into the horror sub-genre – I’m a big fan of violence, blood and gore.

I was lucky enough to watch the first film at a friend’s house, aged 11. If I’m to be totally honest, I did scare me a little as the film set and Aliens were soĀ startlinglyĀ real – this movie makes the CGI of today look silly andĀ amateur.

A few years later at secondary school I was friends with a kid whose father earned a good living supplying the U.S. with his massive modern art canvases during the late 80s. This friend had a few H.R. Giger books in his room, and thumbing through them because of my love of horror, I realised this chap had a lot more going on in his head (pic above). Obviously, been a teenage male, this horror erotica stuck with me.

I was very sad to hear the great man had passed and it reminded me of the inspired car art pictured below. Further investigation led me to a whole load of Giger inspired automotive art, so seeing as this is a car site and I’m a big Giger fan, it’s totally fitting that I say R.I.P. and present some of the artĀ inspired by the manĀ now casting light somewhere dark, dank and brimmed with horror.

 

 

 

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Bad Ass Road Kill Charger

Muscle carĀ enthusiastsĀ will haveĀ definitely heard of Hot Rod Magazine and their brilliant YouTube channel. If you know this channel you’ll most likely know the Road Kill channel formed by Hot Rod Magazine’s Mike Finnegan and David Freiburger. These two guys literally know every nut and bolt of any muscle car ever built – the episode featured in this article is aĀ testamentĀ to their knowledge.

The Dodge Charger is an iconic muscle car, not onlyĀ featuringĀ in classic TV andĀ cinema but also making it into modern film too. The car pictured above is a ’68 Charger painted with the ‘serial child murderer’ brush. It is dripping with ‘bad ass’; itĀ emanatesĀ a sense of dread, fear and disgust.

Finnegan and Freiburger take this beaten up Charger, throw spanners andĀ wrenchesĀ its way and take a road trip any true man would kill for. It’s the kind of adventure that would take you to the level of excitement an 8-year-old kid would experience the night before Christmas. The best bit is its heart… yes, it’s a 440 big block, but it is ripped from the bowels of a camper van.

This is a bastard of a car, a Frankenstein machine botched together for the purpose of eating tarmac and terrifying the general public (the latter, I’m all for :D). It looks extremely sinister and irrationally evil; it is loud and probably handles like the devil with an icicle shoved up his arse, but it is beautiful and I want it.

What Car Would You Be Buried In?

 

Everyone takes a final ride in a car after they’ve died, but this isĀ the hearse, the vehicle taxiing you to your final place of rest. Having been a funeral driver, I think hearses are really really cool and I’d be more than happy to let a vintage Rolls Royce hearse transport my corpse to the grave.

 

But what if you could take that journey one step further and take your infinite sleep inside the car of your dreams? What if you could be placed behind the wheel of a car and slowly lowered six feet under? Would it be a car you grew up with? A muscle car, a super car, or your reliable daily,Ā oldĀ faithful?

Perhaps I’m too young to consider this seriously, as I’ve yet to experience many many more cars. I’dĀ know it would be some sort of performance car, maybe that project car that takes years to complete. Who knows?

Right now I like the thought of thundering my way to hell in an old school Mercedes. Yeah, the 190E Cosworth – the devil would have a job catching up with me in one of those babies. Then again, thinking about it, it would be criminal to bury one of these classics.

So what would be your final ride?