Tag Archives: GMC

Early Morning Risers – Avenue Drivers Club

I have not been posting any irregular blogs from the Avenue Drivers Club meetings this year, this is because most of my Sunday mornings have been dedicated to relearning to drive the Institute of Advanced motoring way, however I have managed to get to a couple of ADC meetings at 8am and stayed long enough to grab a Coffee Croissant and enjoy the company off fellow early risers for an hour or so before my driving lessons.

Talbot Matra Murena, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

Among the cars that turned up in January was this recently preserved 1981 Talbot Matra Murena with a galvanised steel chassis and 3 abreast seating which represented the zenith of the Talbot Matra partnership.

Ford Escort RS Van, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

When I first came to Bristol in the late 80’s and early 90’s the lads vehicle of choice for a Saturday night in the city center was a white Escort 35 Van with either an RS, like the 1989 example seen here or RS Turbo power train and styling features including the RS alloy wheels and decals which would normally be seen on hot hatch versions of the Escort.

FIAT GMC, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

Two contrasting early risers at the March Avenue drivers meeting were this 1969 FIAT 500D and 1999 dual fuel GMC Sierra Pickup.

Opel GT Roadster, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

This 2008 Left Hand Drive Opel GT Roadster is a rebadged version of the Saturn Sky for the European Market, they were never sold in the UK because they were never manufactured with right hand drive.

Jaguar XK150, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

This magnificent 1959 Jaguar XK 150 was amongst the stars of this months Avenue Drivers Club meeting.

06 IMG_7543sc

When Vauxhall introduced the HC version of the Vauxhall Viva in 1970 they dropped the 2 liter twin carburetor version except for the Canadian market where the car was sold without Vauxhall Branding as the Frienza by Pontiac/Buick dealers. This particular car has is a 1971 Viva Deluxe that has been upgraded with a 2 litre / 122 cui motor and an unusual paint job.

Thanks for joining me on this Early Risers edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for a look at a ’69 Mustang. Don’t forget to come back now !


Silver Jubilee – Middle Barton Garage

The self styled “Italian Shrine” Middle Barton Garage celebrated its Silver Jubilee last weekend and I joined fellow members of the Bristol Pegasus Motor Club at Delamare services on the M4 at 8:30 am last Saturday to join in the fun.

Middle Barton Garage

Arthur in his 2006 Mustang GT led a couple of MX5’s a Westfield and yours truly in his humble Golf Mk IV Estate along some beautiful country roads as we took an indirect route with some challenging curves towards the newly relocated Middle Barton Garage which now lies just outside Somerton in Oxfordshire.

Bentley, Middle Barton Garage

We arrived early to find an eclectic assortment of vehicles accumulating including this 1924 Bentley fitted with a normally aspirated 4398 cc / 268 cui six cylinder motor. If I ever get to drive a vintage car of any sort this would be one I’d choose, it looked all set to go like a steam train with little in the way of refinement or creature comfort.

FIAT 124, barchetta, 128 3P, 500, 500 Abarth, Middle Barton Garage

Among the Middle Barton Garage friends and customer cars to turn up was this FIAT 124 Spider, one of at least two I saw on the day, a Barchetta, 128 3P and 500. Being polished in the background is a turbocharged racing Abarth 500.

Osella Abarth PA2, Middle Barton Garage

The Abarth Osella PA2 was built for the 1974 European 2 litre / 122 cui sports car championship, there does not seem to be much agreement on exactly how many PA2’s were built a chassis #013 was offered by Bonhams 5 years ago. The Osella PA2s running with four cylinder engines from Abarth, BMW or Ford were outclassed by the works V6 powered Alpine Renaults in 1974 the final year of the championship. This car chassis #011 is painted in the colours used by Georgian Prince in Spanish exile Jorge de Baragation who drove chassis #001 to a victory at Jarama in 1974.

Tornado FIAT 600D GT, Middle Barton Garage

Alongside the production of their Talisman sports cars Tornado Cars of Rickmansworth, not to be confused with Tornado Sports Cars of Kidderminster, offered a FIAT 600 D conversion to a more powerful spec. David Render bought the one of seen here and his friend Colin Chapman suggested and organised fitting an even more powerful Lotus Twin Cam motor to this car, with which David won more than 50 trophies in sprint and hill climb events.

GMC 100, Middle Barton Garage

The 1950 GMC 100 Pickup above is being finished off by one of Middle Barton Garages neighbours.

Ferrari, FIAT, Maserati, Lancia, Middle Barton Garage

As I left the Silver Jubilee celebration the Ferrari California Convertible and Maserati Bora 4th from right pulled up to join in the fun.

My thanks to Tony Castle-Miller of Middle Barton Garage and Nick of the Bristol Pegasus Motor Club for organising the event.

Thanks for joining me on this “Silver Jubilee” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be taking a close look at a car driven by Queen Elizabeth II during her coronation year. Don’t forget to come back now !


Baby Testarossa – Ferrari 348 TS

On Monday I looked at the GMC Syclone that was faster than a Ferrari, up to the 1/4 mile, today I am looking at the Spyder version of the Ferrari 348 that Car & Driver pitted the Syclone against in a road test.

Ferrari 348ts, BIAMF

The Ferrari 348 replaced the Ferrari 328 in 1989,

Ferrari 348ts, BIAMF

taking many of it’s striking styling queues from the Testarossa launched in 1984. The side mounted radiators meant passengers did not get toasted by the radiator pipes that ran alongside the cabin of the earlier 328 which featured a radiator mounted in the nose.

Ferrari 348ts, BIAMF

The 300 hp V8 motor was mounted longitudinally with a transverse gearbox ahead of the rear wheels, the opposite configuration of the earlier 328 which featured a transverse V8 engine and longitudinal gearbox.

Ferrari 348ts, BIAMF

While the Syclone proved faster than the 348 up to the 1/4 mile it soon ran out of puff when it reached 126 mph meaning this is the view Syclone drivers would get of the Ferrari as it powered up to 166 mph in a straight race.

Ferrari 348ts, BIAMF

8844 of these vehicles were produced from 1989 to 1995.

Thank for joining on this Ferrari Friday edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Traffic Light King – GMC Syclone

Max Grabowsky established the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company on the 22nd December 1901 which built a truck powered by a single cylinder motor. In 1909 the company was taken over by General Motors to form the General Motors Truck Company from which the GMC Truck brand was born. In 1916 a GMC Truck was driven from Seattle to New York City in just 30 days, ten years later a 2 ton GMC Truck took five days and 30 mins to travel from New York to San Francisco.

GMC Syclone

In 1990 GMC identified a niche market for a ‘performance’ truck based on the GMC Sonoma complete with lowered suspension, four wheel drive, fog lights and under the bumper corner spoilers.

GMC Syclone

The Syclone model was powered by a 280 hp 4.3 litre / 262 cui turbocharged V6 motor that was coupled with a 4 speed automatic transmission. ABS brakes, to keep all those horses under control, were used for the first time on an all wheel drive truck application.

GMC Syclone

Volkswagen Golf / Rabbit GTi inspired, to European eyes, red detailing inside and out was rounded off with 16 inch alloy wheels carrying comparatively low profile tyres.

GMC Syclone

Car & Driver famously pitted the $26,000 Syclone against a $122,000 296 hp Ferrari 348ts and in all the acceleration tests up to and including the 1/4 mile drag the Syclone came out best only loosing out with a top speed of 126 mph against the Ferrari’s 166 mph !

GMC Syclone

Built in Troy MI by Production Automotive Services, unlike the regular Sonoma which was built in Shreveport LA, the only downside of the Syclone was that it’s lowered suspension limited the carrying capacity to just 500 lbs, still considerably more than a Ferrari, but considerably less than that 1700 lbs plus of a regular GMC Sonoma.

GMC Syclone

It is thought just 2998 Syclones were built between 1991 and ’92, with just 3 made in 1992 ! 113 are thought to have been exported, with 31 returned, making today’s vehicle seen in Bristol one of just 82 Syclones thought to be outside the USA.

Patrick Bedard of Car & Driver summed up the Syclone as the pick up that would ‘do a Ferrari blur on the local scenery’ and ‘makes this capability seem like a perfectly wonderful idea.’ Sounds good to me, a very good idea indeed.

Thanks for joining me on this `Traffic Light King’ edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Follow That ‘Burb ! – Independence Day Touring Assembly

Yesterday evening Martin and Nick of the Bristol Pegasus Motor Club were responsible for organising an Independence Day Touring Assembly, in aid of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance and it was a good excuse to take some foreign guests staying with us out for an evening ride.

Independence Day Rally, BPMC

We assembled at The Parkway in Stoke Gifford where an eclectic collection of vehicles had gathered including

Hudson Suburban Sedan, Independence Day Rally, BPMC

a 1935 Hudson Suburban Sedan,

Ford V8 Pilot, Independence Day Rally, BPMC

and 1950 Ford V8 Pilot,

Independence Day Rally, BPMC

Ken kindly let our guests, Pablo from Barcelona seen here, jump into his Marlin 5exi.

Chevrolet Suburban, Independence Day Rally, BPMC

Soon it was time to go to The Griffin in nearby Warmley to pick up some members of Bristol Hotrods who joined us on our cruise. Not knowing exactly where I was going I took the advice to ‘follow that ‘burb’ referring to a large gold Rover V8 powered 1964 GMC Suburban belonging to Chris, who some of you may remember got me interested in drag racing not so long ago.

Independence Day Rally, BPMC

After a 20 min drive round what counts as Bristol’s ring road

Monarch GP, Independence Day Rally, BPMC

we arrived in the car park of The Griffin where I was surprised to find chain drive fan Duncan waiting for us in another of his amazing Edwardian vehicles a Monarch GP powered by an 8.4 litre / 512 cui Curtiss V8 aircraft engine.

Independence Day Rally, BPMC

No sooner had I taken a snap and we were on our way to our final destination in a convoy vaguely reminiscent of the Whacky Races, behind me here are a Parsons trials car, Duncan in his Monarch, what appears to be a genuine C type Jaguar and a Ford Hotrod.

Independence Day Rally, BPMC

Our final destination was the Book Barn in Hallatrow about 20 miles south of Bristol where coffee and a fine selection of used books was to be found including a Spanish English Dictionary for Pablo.

Ford, Independence Day Rally, BPMC

Outside I took the opportunity to get a closer look at some of the hotrods that had joined us from The Griffin, including this exquisitely painted Ford which was built from a kit,

Ford Anglia, Ford, Independence Day Rally, BPMC

this chopped Coupe which apparently started life as a humble 1949 Ford Anglia and is now fitted with a Supercharged Rover V8

Ford Coupé, Independence Day Rally, BPMC

and The Alchemist based on a 1933 Ford Coupe with tasty patina powered if I heard correctly by a 5300cc / 323 cui ‘Hemi’ V8.

Independence Day Rally, BPMC

Paulo from Milan took a real shine to the C – Type,

Marlin 5exi, Independence Day Rally, BPMC

but after a 20 mile ride with Ken he was left most impressed by the Marlin 5exi.

TVR Griffin 500, Marlin 5exi, Independence Day Rally, BPMC

My thanks to Martin and Nick who organised a splendid Assembly to everyone who came along and particularly to Ken and Rob, seen above in his TVR Griffin 500, for giving Paulo and Pablo rides in vehicles neither will forget in a hurry.

Hope you have enjoyed todays Independence Day Assembly edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you will join me again tomorrow for a look at a replica concept car. Don’t forget to come back now !

PS Please spare a thought for Nick’s wife Cherry who had the misfortune to get clobbered by a 4ft iron bar in a freak accident while at Goodwood on Friday. Best wishes for a speedy recovery Cherry.