The Good Oil: A modified Bentley, mighty Mini, and more
Bentley defaced in pop artist attack
From the "Ways To Ruin Your Expensive Car" file comes this pop art disaster from Sir Peter Blake.
No, not the sailing one, the artist one; the one who designed the multi-peopled Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover for the Beatles.
He's created a load of other stuff, too, of course (you have only to visit London's Tate Modern Art Gallery to discover he is hailed as a graphic genius of some worth), but the Beatles' work is as indelibly stamped into the pop culture consciousness as Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is a big line drawn under the term "High Renaissance".
Anyway, now in his 80s, Blake has turned his hand to car painting. Not in an AAA Panelbeating and Repairs kind of way, but rather in a deface-a-Bentley kind of way.
The pop art project is in collaboration with Bentley, which supplied a Continental GT S convertible for Sir Peter to set upon with his paints. The results are, well, colourful. Yellows, pinks, blues, British Racing Green (of course) and the artist's trademark big red love heart all adorn the car in a whirl of colour, which The Good Oil has no doubt will have Very Important Art Critics nodding sagely while scratching chins thoughtfully.
But don't worry; it's all for chaaaridy. The multi-coloured Bentley will be auctioned at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on June 24. Proceeds will be donated to the Care2Save Charitable Trust, which provides palliative and hospice care around the world.
Subaru's WRX for Isle of Man record
The Isle of Man conjures images of knee-down superbike riders threading their collective way through sinewy lanes, skimming past immoveable drystone walls and across slippery wet manhole covers at insane speeds.
But four-wheeled vehicles give the world famous course a good go on occasion, too. Proving that it hasn't left motorsports behind entirely, Subaru is set to launch an all-new assault on the course. This isn't unusual however, as the Japanese manufacturer has what's known as "form" in these parts. Near-stock-standard Subaru WRX STi sedans have set lap records in 2011 and 2014. But now Subaru has signalled its intent to push the lap record bar higher still, with a purpose-built Isle of Man racer.
Built by Subaru of America for the challenge, the WRX STi (which will be piloted by rallyist Mark Higgins, who holds the 2014 record) features numerous mods, including big gaping air vents up front and what appears to be the wing from a Cessna light aircraft on the boot.
With a bona fide race car at his disposal, Higgins -- who lives on the island -- is surely set to squeeze a decent amount out of the existing record on June 10.
The attempt will certainly make for exciting viewing for spectators.
Thank goodness for those protective hay bales, then.
Mini sedan might mine pedigree past
Picture / Supplied
Think small sedans are a dying segment of the new car market? The Good Oil would agree. But those shape-shifting masters of the niche model, MINI, appear to be scoffing at the notion. A British motoring magazine claims to have scooped the carmaker's plans for an Audi A3 sedan rival.
Even weirder than that, it has been suggested the MINI sedan could see the revival of an ancient nameplate: Riley.
The report suggests a small sedan would be an attempt to push the brand into a more premium space. Upmarket versions of the Mini hatchback have appeared in the past, but this seems to be an attempt to establish an entirely new model line for the BMW-owned marque in the same manner as the Countryman and Clubman.
There is no confirmation from MINI as to whether the plan even exists, but an insider has allegedly told a journalist a small sedan is a priority for the manufacturer, which sees a premium model as a way of distancing itself from its "cartoonish" image.
But badging such a model a Riley? Is that a realistic marketing manoeuvre or just British car journalist patriotism run amok?
Those of you born after 1980 might be scratching your head at the connection, but in the glorious 1960s -- when Mini was part of the British Motor Corporation (BMC), it shared its clever box-on-wheels DNA with family badges Riley and Wolseley.
The cars were diminutive but well-specified sedans (essentially Minis with small boots framed by then-fashionable fins) known respectively as the Elf and the Hornet. When BMW bought Mini from the cash-strapped Rover Group in 2000 (and changed its name to the more shouty MINI), the desperate Brits threw in a handful of other trademarks as sweeteners, including Riley.
If the Riley name was to be reignited for such a model it would join the Countryman and Clubman as a nameplate that reaches back into MINI's heritage; an admirable move, but not really a name that conjures up images of dynamic performance or premium positioning. Mind you, "A3 sedan" hardly quickens the pulse either.
We'll watch developments with interest, although the report suggests the small sedan would firmly target the North American and Chinese markets. So whether we see a right-hand drive example anytime soon is even more of an open-ended question. But with such a strong line in British pedigree being mined, you'd have to think the chances are high.
This week in motoring:
5.38 MILLION: Minis manufactured 1959-2000
80 PER CENT: Mini's internal space for passenger comfort
700 CLUBS: Registered worldwide for Mini enthusiasts
2 NAMES Mini was marketed as Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor