Friday, 14 February 2014

We've moved!

Yes, that shiny new website we promised you has finally happened, shock horror! So, for a all the stuff you've enjoyed here and a whole lot more, head over to and fill your boots!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

2013: a new dawn for N£2G

We've been crap this year, sorry. We're not even going to make excuses, we just haven't been giving you the attention you deserve. We were busy building the Shard. Chris was a Games-Maker at the Olympics. Dan was driving the Spirit of Chartwell down the Thames in the Jubilee flotilla.

Lies. Damned lies. We've just been a couple of inattentive wallies, and we prostrate ourselves before you in fervent apology.


However... 2013, that's going to be BIG. Next year is the year we get this ship back on course and pound your brainboxes with so much awesome content, it'll stick in your gullet like dry cream crackers in an eating contest. Keep an eye on us come January, we'll make everything better. You'll see.

Monday, 12 November 2012

The Failures - 97 Escort 'track' car...

Again, we prove that from time to time we put our money where our mouths are and actually buy cars. Inevitably though, they almost always end up in a scrap yard. 

Build a car for the track, they said. It'll be huge amounts of fun, they said. Well, they, in their infinite wisdom, were wrong. So very very wrong. However, their overwhelming incorrectness was nothing in comparison to our phenomenal stupidity, mainly because we did in fact build one. Or at least attempt to. Humph.

This is how it all began. Yeah, we know it's an Escort. Or at least it was. 

At the time, we worked for a certain magazine which catered to those who enjoy a Ford of a Performance ilk. As such, building a track car seemed like a good idea. We'd get shiny bits on the cheap, we'd get to have bit of fun, and at the end of it all we could drive around the streets of Sevenoaks pretending we 'lived our lives one 1/4 mile at a time' or some such nonsense. At least, that was the plan. 

It started off well. We bought the Escort above for the princely sum of £160. Owned by a little old lady for many a year, it seemed like a good buy. The body was solid and the price was bang on. The fact that the cam-belt had snapped - reducing the engine to one solid block of bent metal in the process - was something we chose to ignore. Besides, we had no time for a piddly little 1.6 anyway. 

The last owner paid £11485. For an Escort. Bah!

Car acquired, we hit the spanners and stripped it down. We sourced fancy bits like coilover suspension, alloy wheels, stupidly sticky tyres, bucket seats, a warning horn that went 'bong', some go faster stickers and most crucially of all, a 2.0 engine with some 'go faster' bits. We were excited, we felt like Steve McQueen. We'd built a track car and it was fun. Huge amounts of fun, for all of 8 minutes. 

Just like an F1 car. If F1 cars were utter shite. 

So, two months in, lots of building and spannering, lots of stickers, some silly wheels and a train ride later and we were ready to pick up our pride and joy. Our mind was filled with thoughts of clipping the apex and 'closing the door' and brum brum noises. We hopped in, fired her up, listened to ex-Mondeo 2.0 Zetec purr and then hit the motorway. Then, some miles later as we were passing Clackett Lane services a bit of the engine fell out...

...which we probably needed if we wanted to progress with the rest of our journey. Arsehats.

Not ones to be put off, we put another engine in it. TO THE TRACK! Was our shout. Knock knock knock knock *silence* was the engine's response. Double arsehats.

I'm well broken, me. 

And that, as they say, was that. Many bits of paper with the Queen's face on had been wasted. The bugger had never seen a track and worst of all, we were forced to visit Clackett Lane services - seriously, it's like it got to 1989 there, then time stopped. 

Moral of the story? Don't build a track car unless you have more than £85 in your bank. And certainly don't use a 110,000 mile Mondeo engine. Or a cursed Escort. Hateful thing. 

Friday, 2 November 2012

We're still here...

Sorry folks, we're not ignoring you. No, don't look at us like that, and put that wobbly bottom lip away...we'll be back soon.

We'd love to tell you that we've been bought out by a large publishing house thanks to our journalistic prowess and, erm, stuff, but that's not the case. We have in fact, broken our laptop. Yeah, we suck. Anyway, we'll be back up to full steam soon. In the meantime, here's a picture of one of our deliveries in action...

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The Skoda Fabia VRs...

Oh, hello there. Yes, we're still alive and kicking and from this moment on we promise to be more regular with our updates. Y'see, we got a job and it's sort of stolen all our time. Sorry about that, and sorry for treating you like the Renault Clio with the wee-scented interior that no one wants to rent from Hertz. We won't do it again, we promise. Anyway, moving on.


No, wait, that's not right...

AHAAA! That's the pickle!

Yes, it's a Skoda and much like when we waffled on about the Octavia VRs, we'd encourage you to leave all your Skoda-based jokes by the door. They're not welcome in here, even if they are wearing shoes and being polite to the bouncer. 

Much like its bigger, petrol-engined brother, the Fabia VRs was released at a time when people started to take note of Skoda's ability to build cars that were not only reliable but also desirable. Yeah, Skoda, desirable. Deal with it. 

The year was 2003 and the Skoda Fabia was selling well. Robbing sales from VW's Polo (the very same platform the Fabia was based on), when the men in suits at Skoda HQ decided to do something really crazy: release a hot-hatch version of the very car they had been marketing to single mothers and ladies called Ethel or Margaret for the past four years (the Fabia was released in 1999 - keep up). Those crazy Eastern Europeans!


You'd think based upon the success of the Octavia, the bods with Auto-Cad and white coats might have opted to follow suit and employ a petrol engine with a turbo of some sort to power the 'hot' Fabia. However, they did no such thing. Nope, they employed a diesel engine, y'know, like what taxis, buses and locomotives have.

Well, it seemed like a good idea, until the mention of derv.

Like a petrol engine, but diesel

BUT WAIT! They weren't mad, they were, in fact, inspired! A 1.9 'Pumpe-Düse' diesel lump was stolen from the VW parts bin, it was treated to some shiny bits and then via witchcraft and magic they forced it to kick out 130bhp and 230lbft of torque. That's a lot. It's a hell of a lot when you consider 55mpg was a very real...urm...reality. Oh, they also bolted a six-speed cog-swapper to it as well, just, well, BECAUSE SHUT UP, THAT'S WHY!



The Skodites - that's what we're calling Skoda employees now - weren't content with just power from an unusual source, though. Nor were they satisfied with draping the angular lines of the Fabia in vents, wings, spoilers and badges. Nope, they were not going to stop until they went utterly bananas inside! There was leather, seats of a buckety persuasion and more. Just look at at it. IT'S A BLOODY SKODA AND IT'S NICER THAN OUR HOUSE!


Yo'ass just got comfort, punk!

And now, nine years on, you can have one of these amazing, fun, surprising little cars for less than the hallowed figure of £2000. You'll get speed, you'll get economy and you'll get funny looks from fellow motorists when you pull up to the derv pump. Most importantly of all, though, you'll get one of the most game-changing cars of Skoda's history, and you'll love every minute of it.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Pulsar GTiR...

It's a Nissan Sunny basically, with the added bonus of a distinct willingness to explode into a bazillion pieces at any given moment. Ergo, it's our kind of car.
A Pulsar. Pre explosion
Nissan is a huge company, famous for many impressive cars. When they decided to get involved in the WRC back in the early '90s they raided their brochures for a suitable car. They brushed aside any notion of a Skyline - a car they had received global praise for thanks to its 4WD system and instead opted for a Nissan Sunny. You know, the car the old lady down the street drives to ASDA once a month. Riiiight. To give them some credit, they didn't enter a 1.4LX into the WRC. That would've been silly. No, they jumped into their parts bin and treated it to a 2.0 twin-cam, 16 valve engine. They also made it 4WD and for good measure, they strapped a turbo to it. Yes, now we're talking. Of course if they wanted to rally it, they'd have to holomogate it, which means they'd have to build some road legal version for Joe Bloggs to buy.
A rallying Pulsar, presumably with its engine still intact
It was a bit of a wet blanket in the WRC and never really came to anything. No worry there though, as that meant they were cheap to buy. The boom of importing Japanese cars in the early 2000s was what really brought them to people's attention. Why buy a Skyline or Impreza for a millonty pounds when you could buy this 200+ bhp four-wheel-drive rocket for a fraction of the cast? It just made sense. Then, once it became known, the Max Power generation got their hands on it...
...urgh. The horror. Looks likes it's been covered in glue and driven through the Ripspeed aisle at Halfords. Luckily this passed and once they had moved onto other things like Evos, RX7s et al, the Pulsar fell into the hands of those looking for fun, power and individuality at a wallet friendly price.
They're now plentiful and dirt cheap, too. But be aware that they have a tendency to explode. We're not kidding either. A friend of ours bought one years ago and, on his way home, called to say he was going to do a high speed pass of the pub we were in. He did just that, but as he hurtled past at breakneck speed, he opted to change gear. Then the engine threw a con rod out of the side of the block. Nice. The car is still in his garage to this day. It's £34 if anyone wants it, though most of the engine is in the boot...and all over the A38. Another thing to remember is that it's mind-numbingly dull inside. It's a Nissan Sunny after all. Don't believe us? Well...
...yeah, see? Ignoring the dull innards and the engine's willingness to distribute it all over any given stretch of road, though, and you're on to a winner. It's rare, it's fun and it's dirt cheap to get more grunt of one. We'd invest in a GTiR if we could, but then again all our cars tend to explode at some point, so this would be no risk to us. Plus, Nissan did make the Skyline, and that was awesome, and in essence this is the Skyline's little brother. Its angry, explody little brother.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Escort RS2000...

We're going for a car with the coveted RS badge, and we're not afraid to admit it. Sadly though, this is Not £2 Grand, so throw away any thoughts of a rear-wheel-drive Mk1 or Mk2 Escort with a hot crossflow or some-such. There'll be none of that here, mainly because we have no desire to sell a kidney.

BAD! NO! NOT ALLOWED! Well, not for £2000

No, what we're focusing on is the often underrated, but huge fun to drive, final generation escort RS2000...

To the local MacDonald's, we've got some burnouts to do!

Let's get something out of the way first. We like Escorts here at Not £2 Grand. Pollitt has had four while Bevis has had, erm, some. We know they're a bit of an automotive taboo - it's not really 'cool' to like them unless they have a Cosworth YB engine and big wing on the back - but we don't care. We're not cool, so such stigma doesn't bother us. We did once have a taste of cool when we were younger - mum bought us a pair of Kickers for school. Oh, those were the days. Anyway, we digress. Yes, the late Escorts, we like them. Here's Pollitt's old 'track' Escort as proof...

We reserve the right to ignore the fact this picture was taken right after a con-rod had exited via the engine block

So, the final Escort RS2000. Admittedly it's not the finest car to ever carry the RS badge, but in 1996 it looked like it could be the last. The Focus was still a sketch on a designer's drawing board and any thoughts of an RS version were the stuff of pipe dreams. The buying public recognised this, and building on the success of the Mk V RS2000 and for that matter, the RS brand as a whole, they came flooding into Ford dealerships to buy what could possibly be a slice of history.

Sadly, Ford ruined all that. It stopped production of the RS2000 in 1996, allowing the Ford die-hards to snap it up, only to release the Escort GTi a year or so after. A car which, while missing out on the 2.0 engine and RS provenance, still managed to look exactly the same as an RS2000. From then on it was a slow decline in popularity for the RS2000. After all, why would you pay twice as much for an RS2000 when a GTi looked the same. Especially if you put some RS2000 badges on it, which many people did.

Oh, bought a GTi have you? *runs away crying*

The GTi, however, would be the RS2000's saving grace in the end. People bought those instead, then they covered them in glue and drove them through Halfords - a fate the RS2000 escaped. Instead, as the prices of the RS2000 dropped, they fell into the hands of caring owners. They ignored the slightly woolly handling and the fact that it might not have been the best RS ever. Ironically, they saved them and cherished them simply because they were an RS. Plus, the Mk VI did have its good points. It was a marvellous place to be thanks to awesomely comfy seats. The 150bhp engine was a stormer and the gearbox wasn't too bad either. They looked utterly fantastic, too. And, provided you didn't drive them to within an inch of their mechanical tolerances, they were a giggle to pilot on the twisty stuff. The last RS2000 was, and still is, an honest and enjoyable car in its own right, even if it's a bit 'off' the normal RS standard.

So then, let's recap. It wasn't the best RS ever, it was a bit (and we have this from good authority) 'woolly' to drive, they loved to rust (find us a Ford that doesn't) and they were ignored in favour of the cheaper GTi. So, on that basis, why should you buy one?

Well, for a start they're cheap. Your £2000 will get you a semi-decent one with ease. Plus, it is - no matter what anyone says - an important car. Hell, the Mk IV XR3i was rubbish, too, but they're now starting to fetch serious money. We reckon the last RS2000 is going to go the same way. It's got provenance, it's got rallying history - Gwyndaf Evans was great at rallying/crashing them - and most importantly of all, it's the last of the RS Escorts. Buy one now, show it some tlc and then stick it in the garage for a few years. We promise when you come to sell it, it'll be worth a lot more than £2000.