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Sleeping On The Job

1977 Pontiac Firebird Esprit - The Driver

1977 Pontiac Firebird Esprit – The Driver

In the world of crime, getaway cars are more important than the heat you are packing, for a whilst a BB gun would fool the general public and the entire staff of a bank, a useless engine will have you worrying about showers and soap before you’ve shouted, “Drive!”

Kray Twins Ronald and Reginald

Kray Twins Ronald and Reginald

If I think “getaway car” my mind always goes to the days of 60s London, the Kray Twins, “Mad” Frankie Frazer and the other real life gangsters who paired Savile Row suits with brass knuckle dusters. British cars of the era weren’t particularly fast, including those of the Police, so when gangsters starting using the power and might from the 3.8-L Jaguar Mk 2, the Old Bill didn’t stand a chance… until they started using them as motorway cars.

Jaguar Mk2

Jaguar Mk2

The Mk 2 gained a reputation as a fast car among criminals and the police because of its 220-bhp straight-six engine. In its day, 0-60-mph in 8.5-seconds was pretty impressive for a big car, another reason criminals used them – along with the getaway driver and four gunmen, you still had room for the all-important SWAG and perhaps a few body parts. Although it wasn’t entirely inconspicuous because of its grandeur, it was a sleeper in its own right because you wouldn’t exactly expect it to burn rubber.

’67 Shelby GT500 “Eleanor”

In the movies we’ve seen all types of getaway car, from the Pontic Firebird in The Driver (1977) to the Minis from the Italian Job. A lot of movies show the bank job getaway cars as monstrous black muscle cars or vehicles like the Ford GT500 Mustang, Eleanor from Gone In 60 Seconds… which is cool in fantasy but…

Whilst these fantasy cars look great on film, I suspect in real life they’d get you caught pretty quick – not only would you stick out like a sore thumb, modern police cars wouldn’t struggle too much to keep up.

This leads me onto wolf in sheep’s clothing cars, Q cars, and the 2011 movie, Drive. In this brilliant crime movie (derived from the James Sallis novel of the same name), a stuntman (Ryan Gosling) uses a bland and boring silver Chevrolet Impala (the most popular car purchased in California at the time) as a getaway car. The Impala looks like any other car on the street, only under it harnesses extra power (300-bhp).

In the clip below, a mechanic tells the driver, “Plain Jane and boring; just like you asked for,” exactly what makes a sleeper so cool. Inconspicuous and fast without anything giving the game away – these assets are what the ultimate sleeper and getaway car are all about.

Check out the opening movie scene below, probably my favourite intro into any film – in fact, this clip almost plays out like a mini-movie in its own right.

If you like the concept of the sleeper car, check out our sister Sleeper Cars site on G+.

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What Oddball Car Would You Own?

Nissan March Super Turbo

Nissan March Super Turbo

If you’ve followed us for a while, you’ll have seen this little car before, an oddball of its generation for both technical and aesthetic reasons. It’s a little shopping cart capable of embarrassing all of the boy-racer hot-hatches of its time.

In a previous post, I detailed specifications on the Nissan March Super Turbo should you want to geek out of them like me. I praised the little March Super Turbo for its use of both a supercharger and turbocharger, but as this post isn’t about power, I’ll continue to give my other reasons as to why I would more than happily clear a space for this in my garage.

Nissan March Super Turbo

Nissan March Super Turbo

I love this quirky car because, despite its tiny supercharged and turbocharged 930cc engine and the fact its relatively quick, it isn’t shouting about it. Essentially, it’s the ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing, a vehicle usually purchased by the blue-rinse brigade to pick up their shopping – at this point you should also know Gargling Gas’ sister page is devoted to Sleeper Cars . Aside from the rally-style fogs and small hood vent, the March’s boxy – and let’s face it, un-sexy – body help it pull on its deceiving wooly pull-over.

The guys from Mighty Car Mods featured it on one of their YouTube episodes, a great little snippet if you’re digging my choice of oddball car.

The Nissan March Super Turbo is my ‘oddball’ car, but what’s yours and why?

Family To 62-mph In 4.7 Seconds

Audi RS6

Audi RS6

We love estate cars at Gargling Gas because wagons are cool. They allow the working man to load up ladders and work benches, the family man to cram in children, flat pack furniture and bags of hedge trimmings, the psychopath the jam in chainsaws, axes and sacks of lime, all in the comfort of a car. These practical vehicles become even cooler when they possess 911 Turbo performance figures.

The inspiration for this post came from the car pictured above, the Audi RS6 Avant. It’s a great looking car, but it’s not exactly the sort of car you’d expect to have to move out of the way on the motorway. It’s also not the sort of car you’d expect to see pass you at the speed of light. Having moved over for one yesterday, I watched in awe as this silver estate streaked by, listened as its twin-turbo V10 throbbed and blatted and catapulted it into the horizon, just before I caught a glimpse of the badge: RS6.

Not being the world’s biggest Audi fan, I did a little homework on the RS badge. I knew it was Audi’s equivalent of the M and AMG divisions, and I’ve always known about the RS2 from being a sleeper nut.

In fact, after doing my homework on the current RS cars and their incredible figures, it only highlighted what an amazing feat of technology the RS2 was/is considering it was built over 20 years ago.

Audi RS6 C7 Avant

Audi RS6 C7 Avant

Despite knocking the previous model’s V10 on the head, Audi’s current RS6 C7 Avant pictured above (damn that Nardo grey looks good) produces a ridiculous 560-bhp and 516-lb-ft from a twin-turbo 4.0-L V8. That means you are able to whisk the kids out of the house and to 62-mph in 3.9 seconds – experts claim this is an over estimate by Audi, too. Considering these impressive figures, the 20-year-old RS2 hits 62-mph in 4.7 seconds, all from a considerably smaller single-turbo 2.2-L straight 5 engine.

Audi RS2 Avant

Audi RS2 Avant

Okay, so the RS2 is obviously lighter, but it offers better mileage and still provides the mod-cons such as Recaro racing seats, air-con and a decent sound system. The handling was well ahead of its time, too, the combination of AWD and its Porsche-designed braking and suspension systems making it more at home on the Nßrburgring than the supermarket carpark.

In 1995 Autocar clocked the RS2 from 0 to 30 mph at just 1.5 seconds, a time quicker than the McLaren F1 road car, and amazingly Jacques Villeneuve’s Williams F1 car.

Because Audi’s styling was fairly subtle, the RS2 is the king of Sleepers, a car Gargling Gas has to adore. They are fairly hard to come by now as they are real classics, but offered the choice of an RS6 or an RS2, I’d have to take the latter.

The Term “Sleeper” Is Thrown Around Too Much

Gramps - Mighty Car Mods 11 Second Subaru Liberty

Gramps – Mighty Car Mods 11 Second Subaru Liberty

Sleeper Car Lists

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a good Sleeper car list; it’s great to see auto enthusiasts shake up the Top 20s with various makes and models. However, I’ve noticed a large amount of these sleeper car lists  include the likes of the BMW M5, the Audi RS6 or RS3, the Cadillac CTS-V and even those infamous Dodge Hellcats – you only have to hear the name “Hellcat” and I bet the last words to leave your lips would be “understated”, “subtle” or “bland”.

Sleeper Car? Just Remember This: S.U.B.

Those three adjectives Subtle/Understated/Bland/describe what makes for the perfect Sleeper – it’s that simple. You take the underdog and inject it with steroids – a bit of a cliche, I know, but fitting because what you put into the car shouldn’t be a visual enhancement. What you inject into a Sleeper car’s metaphorical veins is the stuff of exciting and ingenious creation. It allows for that personal touch, each caress carefully thought out for both deception and extra power.

Carroll Shelby & The 146-bhp Dodge Omni GLHS

Carroll Shelby & The 146-bhp Dodge Omni GLHS

The late tuning legend, Carroll Shelby had the right idea with the Dodge Omni, a very basic little car he thought suited a turbocharged 2.2-L engine. The Omni GLHS was a pocket-rocket for its time, and despite the tell-tale decals, it remained a standard looking grocery-getter.

Nissan March Super Turbo

Nissan March Super Turbo

Another perfect example of a sheep in wolf’s clothing is the quirky little Nissan above. Notice the “Super Turbo”? This was the ultimate granny car that boasted both a supercharger and a turbocharger.

What About The Modern Sleeper?

If we brush the whole misunderstood entries – AMG, M badge, RS badge – aside, what exactly are we left with?

This is where I thrown in my two cents, and instead of posting a list, I’ll reveal a couple of my new favourites and let you post your ultimate sleeper cars in the comments box.

Ford Flex EcoBoost

Ford Flex EcoBoost

The crossover vehicle above is fairly rare in the UK, not something you’d expect to find here at Gargling Gas, however, this Ford Flex EcoBoost is as sly as they come. Its very eco-aware and green and very visible EcoBoost badge masks the fact this boxy car boasts around 350-hp and 355-lb-ft of torque, propelling it to 60-mph in under 6 seconds.

EcoBoost Badge

EcoBoost Badge

The Ford Flex’s rear end may reveal a leaf and the word “Eco”, but combine its 3.5-L V6 and the word “Boost” and you are capable of giving a scare to a lot of mid-range performance cars.

Volvo V60 Polestar

Volvo V60 Polestar

Volvo aren’t synonymous with massive HP or performance, more safety and solidarity. Although you have to be a bit of a car guy to understand what this gorgeous teal colour suggests, the Volvo Polestar looks like any modern family estate. It doesn’t look cheap or slow, but it doesn’t really suggest serious power either. Thanks to modern brands giving their entire fleet of models a mean and aggressive slant to them, apart from the colour, this slips under the radar.

This is where Volvo’s Polestar racing division come into play. This estate’s straight-six engine features a bigger twin-scroll turbo and intercooler, meaning 350-hp and 369-lb-ft of torque. That’s a family car that’ll do 0-62-mph in 4.9 seconds. 

If you’ve read this far you obviously love Sleeper cars. Don’t forget to check out our sister Sleeper Car site on G+ and let me know your top sleepers in the comments box below.

What Would Be Your Last Serenade Car?

Ken Block Hoonicorn

Ken Block Hoonicorn

Life has handed you a bad hand; family, friends and society have turned their back on you; you’ve been jilted by your significant other; the machine has truly sucked you in, chewed you up and spat you out. If there was any justice left in the world, the law decided it wasn’t for you and instead smashed you hard in the face with its polished gavel.

Your options are very limited, perhaps limited to just one way out… you give the world a final serenade.

Grind House (Death Proof Car)

Grind House (Death Proof Car)

The cowardly way out would be to eat the barrel of a gun, but what if you sought vengeance before you checked out? What if there was more than one “problem” that needed “attending to” before your final serenade?

This sounds a little grim, a tad Hollywood, doesn’t it? I guess it is, especially considering this post stemmed from reading about a guy called, Raoul Moat.

Raoul Moat

Raoul Moat

To tell a long story short and to avoid straying from the automotive angle I’m trying to pitch, the man pictured above went on a shooting spree in 2010. Devastated his girlfriend cheated on him,  Moat had the Northumbria Police (UK) running around like headless chickens on a six-day manhunt. This involved 160 armed officers, armed response vehicles, sniper teams, helicopters, dogs, armoured anti-terrorist police vehicles from Northern Ireland, and even an RAF Tornado jet.

After driving around his local areas with a sawn-off shotgun, shooting his girlfriend, her lover, and a couple of cops, Moat was eventually recognised by the police. They managed to contain him in the open, leading to a live TV standoff. After six hours of negotiation, Moat ended everything by shooting himself.

If he hadn’t killed and shot at police officers, Moat could’ve been the peoples’ anti-hero, a vigilant taking revenge for a broken heart – how many movies have played out this scenario?

Part of me can understand when a person loses the plot and seeks revenge. Having had problems his entire life, a cheating partner and many run-ins with the law – despite having being a police informant – it’s not exactly surprising the odd maniac slips the net.

Raoul Moat's Lexus

Raoul Moat’s Lexus

Along with his sawn-off, Moat used a black Lexus IS200 SE to unleash his fury on the world. With the black rims, some might even aptly call it ‘murdered-out’. A Lexus isn’t exactly the car I would picture Moat driving (more an EVO VIII), but it’s a solid, reliable and fast(ish) car, better than average – it served its purpose.

If Gargling Gas were to go on a hellbent killing spree, needing a vehicle to traverse counties or states, those who know the blog would instantly say, “Buick GNX“. And they’d be correct, although that would be the Hollywood/fantasy car – the reality car would be German, grey, fast, completely unassuming, the ultimate sleeper.

VW-Phaeton-6-0-W12-4MOTION

VW-Phaeton-6-0-W12-4MOTION

Enter the 2010 – 2011 VW Phaeton, a solid lump of (let’s face it) bland metal wrapped around a 6.0-L W16 engine, boasting 444-bhp and 413-ft-lbs of torque.

You wouldn’t stick out going from A-B, you have the thunder to evade capture, the sheer weight and build quality would see off anyone trying to interfere with your journey, and if you opted for auto, you could load your weapons whilst driving at 150-mph. Throw in some anti-puncture tyres and you could cause all kinds of trouble on the open highway.

VW-Phaeton-6-0-W12-4MOTION

VW-Phaeton-6-0-W12-4MOTION

So my final questions to all of you auto enthusiasts would be:

What vehicle and weapons would you choose to go on a vengeful killing spree if you were in a movie?

What ‘reality’ vehicle would you choose and what mods would you install considering the pragmatic/survivor angle.

Finally, if you do decide to undertake such a journey, please send in some pics to Gargling Gas first…

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Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing: The Sleeper Car

Ford Granada Sleeper ZZZ ZZZ

Ford Granada Sleeper ZZZ ZZZ

You may or may not have heard of the term “Sleeper Car” before – to some it probably sounds like a camper van vehicle or caravan – however, a Sleeper Car is the complete opposite of the meaning derived from the word “Sleeper”.

As you’ve most likely guessed from the title, this type of vehicle is a bog standard car hiding and possessing enormous amounts of power under its coat.

Example: How great would it be to embarrass a Porsche at the lights in an old Mitsubishi Galant? How is this done? Mitsubishi are primarily known for their EVO cars, the ultimate turbo tuning machines. Despite this, their Galant VR4 (pretty standard in appearance) comes with 276 bhp stock, so with some tuning and performance upgrades at a relatively low cost, they can be boosted to around 600+ bhp.

Mitsubishi Galant VR4

Mitsubishi Galant VR4

Depending on your budget, any car can be transformed into a Sleeper car. I recently watched an episode of Fast N’ Loud on Discovery where Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufman took an old ’59 Rambler Wagon (pic below), treated and clear coated its weathered body for effect, but installed a massive 4.8L Chevrolet V8 with an Edelbrock Carburettor and MSD direct ignition and disk brakes. From the outside it looked like an old truck, but a blip of the gas and it could shift tectonic plates.

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One problem you face boosting horsepower is hiding the upgrades needed to cope with the extra grunt. The main two are exhausts and brake callipers. Unless you purchase black callipers, simply paint them before installation. Exhausts are pretty simple if you can get under the car – ensure they are out of sight but still manage to function properly. Sports exhausts usually offer different styles, either for sound or performance. Try and pick one that offers optimum flow as well as offering a good amount of muffle – a deep rumbling exhaust suggests upgrades.

If you have bottomless pit of money to throw at car, check this Sleeper Car out for scaring pretty much any other potential racer at the lights. This is essentially an F1 powered Alfa 164 Procar. It was built in cooperation with Brabham and possess the only Alfa Romeo V10 ever built. This disguised Alfa produces 605 bhp at 12,000 rpm! – not sure what the insurance premium would be on this one.

Alfa Sleeper F1 Car

Alfa Sleeper F1 Car

The perfect wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Alfa Sleeper Car

Alfa Sleeper Car

My favourite and perhaps the ultimate Sleeper is “Farm Truck” from the TV show Street Outlaws – check out the video below and witness the power that old truck can lay down.

If you are thinking about creating a Sleeper Car with a small budget, aim for a small and light turbo car, something you can add a cold air intake and bigger exhaust to, also one in which an ECU tweak is viable. These three options can add as much as 60-80 bhp to a small turbo car, putting you in the same arena as the bigger sporty saloons.

Fugly Yet Fast Sleeper

What you see above is a typical elderly person’s car, or a hand-me-down any teenager would secretly appreciate as a key to freedom . It’s a rather bland Ford Festiva, a late eighties box of delights. By ‘delights’ I mean the installation of a beautiful mid-mounted V8 – this is taking the creation of the Sleeper to the highest level. 

In many ways this is complete insanity; not in the concept of transforming this car into a stealth whip, but the fact the gorgeous V8 and its set-up must cost around twenty times the price of the vehicle. Whilst it can obviously pump out some serious BHP, it can only find the tarmac through the Ford’s silly little 13″ wheels.

The engine may be mid-mounted but it’s still a front wheel drive car, which equals mental under/torque steer. Another factor that may/will kill its driver is the decision to overlook the addition of bigger brakes… the builder “might get around to those” – let’s hope he stays alive long enough.

Now take these exhausts into consideration – I’ve seen a picture with them hidden beneath those black flaps (Maybe they only pop out when on the move?) but they are a pretty original looking, very Mad Max. If you dig this sleeper, there are more pictures on Autoblog.