Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The name's Bond...

Dur nur, dur ner ner ner, dur nur, der ner ner ner, NER NER, NUUUH, NER NER, D’NER NER-NER NER!

Yeah, James Bond, he’s awesome. He makes the ladies go “ooooh” and he makes the men go “I taught ‘im how to do that” all while sipping from a glass of shaken (not stirred) Vodka Martini. He’s one exceptionally cool dude - well, he is if you ignore the Timothy Dalton period, that was inexcusable - just keep your mind focused on the cool Bonds...



From beating up baddies in Bosnia to impressing lasses in Latvia, Bond can do it all. However, some might say (mainly us, seeing as we need to in a bid to have this post make sense) that he’s somewhat dependent on his wheels from time to time. He’s been in many a pickle over the decades and on a good number of occasions it’s been his motor that has seen him to safety. The Bond car really is just as important as Bond himself, and after digging about we’ve discovered that you, dear reader, can own your very own chunk of Bond machinery (not the actual machinery you understand – just their normal civilian equivalents) for no more than our £2k budget.

We're sorry that we can only offer you the 'normal' versions. We’d love to encourage you to buy cars with rocket launchers in the cup-holders and grenades in the spare wheel, but in this day and age it’s probably not advised. Unless you live in Moss Side, or Hackney; it’s more a matter of self-preservation there. Anyway, we digress…

So, a Bond car for under £2000 eh? Oh yes, here we go…



…actually, no. You’re not getting a DBS within our budget – you might get a toy version but certainly not a real car. In fact, £2000 wouldn’t even get you this lump of scrap that Bond bounced off its roof in Casino Royale while swerving to avoid the oh so pretty Vesper Lynd:



What the budget will get you, however, is one of these big suckers from Tomorrow Never Dies – the BMW 750iL. Put that eyebrow down, we’re bang on the money here. Do you not remember that brief period when the producers of the Bond movies took a large bag of money from some friendly German men in BMW coats, on the proviso that the blue and white roundel would find its way into the Bond movie franchise? Anything? Never mind - basically Bond drove BMWs for a bit, and now - in the real world - they're really quite cheap...



...which is good because you'll probably need to buy a few if you really want to get into the part of being Bond...



...hmm - smashing.

Before you do fling it off a multi-story car-park you might want to take a moment to bask in its luxury. Okay, so you won't have high-voltage door-handles or a rocket-launcher roof, but you will have leather by the acre and gizmos in numbers so great they could rival a Dixons stock-list. Moving it all along is a 5.0 V12 engine mated up to a silky smooth auto 'box which is no slouch, despite having to shove two tons of car along. This really is all the car Bond should have ever needed...had he not flung it into a branch of Avis Rent-A-Car, the lummox.

Not for you? How about something a bit more...French. Yeah, the 2CV as seen in For Your Eyes Only!



Urm, no, sorry, we're not quite sure what we were thinking there. Er, on with the post...your hair looks lovely today, LOOK OVER THERE!

A 2CV? We weren't talking about 2CVs - we'd never do that. We were talking about the other end of the scale - we were talking about the bad-guy cars!



Bond baddies like big German cars like Mercedes, and again these can be had for pennies. We've got a Mercedes 300SE on the personal N£2G fleet which we use for all kinds of criminal acts (not really Mr. Policeman) of an evening. It only cost us £200 too, leaving us with loads to spend on sharp suits and Ray Bans, just like real baddies.

Fancy something a little more stylish and a little less German? How about an Alfa...



...just like the bad guys in Quantum Of Solace? Okay, maybe not just like them, but close. You won't get a 159 for under £2k but you will get a 156 V6. Full of leather, chrome, Italian style and a tuneful V6 (along with a great many electrical components that will break for no apparent reason) the 156 a great way to spend around £1000, and as long as you get one in black you'll still look like a baddie!



Finally - and some may say most impressively - how about a Renault 11 just like in A View To A Kill?



Not very cool we know, but Bond did drive one. It also got its roof lopped off by a barrier along with the back-half which was kindly evacuated by a Renault 20. It didn't stop the plucky 11 though...



...and we're sure this had nothing to do with props, movie tricks and extensive modifications, honest. In fact we're pretty sure the 11 carried on without aid, such is the build quality of this amazing French automobile. Never mind, we can see your face, we know you're not interested. To be honest, no one is ever interested in old Renaults.

Tell you what, have a Lotus instead...



...okay, so it's the wrong Lotus, it doesn't work, it probably smells of wee and it's generally a bit rubbish. Who cares though, a Lotus is a Lotus after all and that's better than any functioning old Renault. Well, unless the Renault had rocket-launchers behind its headlights...

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

We're a bit busy...

...with (and it saddens us to say it) our real jobs at the moment. We'll have some updates soon though, we promise.

In the meantime, have a picture of a man being flung over a toasty Mondeo.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The Nissan S14/200SX...

Here at Not £2 Grand we like a bit of drifting. It's cool to watch, amazing to undertake and on the whole, pretty damn cool. Just look at this loon in a Viper for example, he's cooler than a cucumber, right?



Ahh yes, the art of entering a corner with the car already sideways. The application of more power and more steering lock all building up to the heroic slide which ensues - complete with huge plumes of smoke produced by your now scrap Nankang tyres. Yessir, drifting is mega.

Get it wrong though, and your once very expensive (around $100k in the case of this Viper) drift car becomes nothing more than downside-up, opposite-pointy-wheeled scrap...



...hmmm, not ideal. If only there was a cheaper alternative, but one that could be used as a normal daily driver too - not just a full-on drifter.

Enter stage-left a stylish, fun and cheap means of getting your clutch-kicking foot into the world of going sideways at speeds some cars would consider terrifying while going straight: the Nissan 200SX/S14. Who needs a Viper, eh?



Fitted with an SR20DET (that's a 2.0 twin-cam turbo engine to you and me) it was great at going 'woosh' and 'brrrrrm' amongst other noises, which is basically all that matters with a car like this. Another thing that made these engines popular was the blinding levels to which they could be tuned. Extracting 450bhp from an SR20DET is no difficult task; you just need to buy the right bits like a turbo that's as big as a dinner plate, some forged rods and pistons and a bloody great exhaust system amongst others. And you won't need to go to ends of the earth to find these bits' they're all commonplace and easy to obtain. Spend a few quid on the right bits and you really could end up with power figures nearing those you'd find in a Ferrari spec-list, but in a Nissan. And to think, some people have it in their head that only old people drive Nissans, slowly, to Farmfoods, on Sundays.

So that's the car and the engine, now let's look at what it does best...



Woah! Waahh! Woosh! Screech...and so on. Yes, get brave with an S14a and you'll find yourself having plenty of tail-happy, tyre-smoking fun. We do advise you do this on a track or some-such though, not the A627(M). It's not just skidding that the S14a does well - it drives pretty damn well too, rewarding any budding pilot with an enjoyable drive. There's good reason for this; the added bonus of 50% torsional rigidity thanks to the inclusion of higher rear strut mounts, apparently. Also, the fuel tank had been relocated to sit behind the rear seats opposed to being under the boot floor, as was the case in the S13. With the fuel tank between the rear seats and back axle the weight is spread much more evenly across the chassis. This combination of modifications made for a balanced, agile and responsive car - one that real 'drivers' responded well to much as you will too, should you take our advice and buy one.

Like we said, they're cheap...



...and girls like them, pretty girls without a bra at that...



...so you need to buy one. Go, now, go on! In terms of entertainment for your money you'd have to work hard to find something better than this. You won't get a chassis this good with an engine this powerful for less moolah, we promise you. If by some miracle you do, we bet you it blows up long before the seemingly infinitely reliable Nissan mechanicals would.

The S14 will drift around a race-track just as willingly as it will pop down to the shops to get some milk and bread. It's cheap enough to laugh off in the event it does expire and it's modern enough for you to run everyday as a normal commuter-mobile. In a nutshell, the S14 is ace.

Still need convincing do you? Well, let us help you out (we're handy like that). Here's a video of an S14 doing what they do best:

NISSAN 200SX SILVIA S14 BY FORMAT67.NET from FORMAT67.NET on Vimeo.



The staff here at Not £2 Grand would like to applaud themselves for making a post about a Japanese turbo woosh-bang-whizzy car without mentioning a certain movie franchise. It was difficult, but they're confident they got away with it.



Bollocks.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Skoda Octavia VRS...

Yes really, a Skoda. Unless you've been living under a rock for the last decade you'll no-doubt be aware that Skodas are a more than acceptable transport choice these days. Before you acknowledge their decade-long rise to VW-rivalling awesomeness there is one thing to observe: they were already busy being awesome back when top-loading VCRs were cutting edge...


"Three crest over cut, don't ditch, 7000 right flat" Or some kind of rallying terminology.

Yup, they're cool. Dispel from your mind any jokes about heated rear windows for warm hands when pushing, or pedaling with your feet. Such quips are not welcome here. Instead think about it this way: if Skodas were busy being brilliant in the days when 'Carry On' films were were classed as amusing, think how good they must be now!

Buying any old Skoda for under £2k is easy as there are plenty about. You might not know, however, that your £2k could buy you an example of the Skoda that set the world alight. This car single-handedly reinvented the brand, thanks to its grunt, power and general 'up yours' attitude to people who suffer from brand snobbery. We are of course talking about the Skoda Octavia VRS.



To put it in simple terms the VRS is, to the the stock Octavia, what the RS is to the Focus. The only thing is, you get one of these for a hell of a lot less.

It's a good job it was quick really, because it ain't no looker. That's not the point of this car though; buying a VRS for its aesthetic qualities is like dating a supermodel for her knowledge of shoes. You buy a VRS for what it can do - and they could do a lot. This was down to the fact that they housed an engine borrowed from a certain Audi - a small, fast and usually silver one.


An Audi engine, without the aid of being in an Audi

In a moment of genius the good people at VAG opted to fit all the oily bits from the Audi TT, including the 180bhp 20v turbocharged engine. This gave the VRS a dose TT power from the off, all for a fraction of the price of the Audi from where the engine came. This made it faster than the Golf GTi of the time, and the market soon twigged and switching from VW to Skoda became a common theme. Even the Police jumped on board...



...in fact Avon and Somerset Police used them as armed response units thanks to their speed, agility and crucially, practicality.

So that's Audi TT mechanical stuff with 180bhp, the Police like them and they're cheap. Still not convinced - still having a hard time getting over the Skoda badge? Okay, have another picture to convince you...



See, just like its older relative, the VRS was a hit on the rally stages. Not surprising really seeing as it came with a 300bhp version of the 1.8 20v turbo engine. It wasn't the biggest success in the WRC but it didn't do too badly either. It wasn't trying to shake up the WRC, all it had to do was be there to promote the name. As an exercise in pushing Skoda into a more positive light it was a roaring success; sales of the VRS went up even more and the attitude towards the Skoda name began to improve.

Still not convinced? There must be something wrong with you. We're not ones to judge here at Not 2 Grand, we are merely here to enthuse and inspire, so have some more urm, inspiration...



...one hell of a transformation there through the addition of nothing more than the aid of some Audi RS6 alloys and shorter springs. Proof you can make the unattractive appealing. Think of us as a sort of automotive Gok Wan if you will. We might even launch our own show, 'How to look good lowered on Audi wheels' or of course, we might just stick to this blog.

Anyway, add one of these to the mix...



...which is a KO4 turbo from a 225bhp Audi TT and you'll be well on your way to, er, 225bhp, adding further joy to VRS ownership and further misery to everyone who laughed when you bought one in the process. You can bet they won't have 225bhp, the losers.

Yes, the Octavia VRS is an out and out winner in our book. Buying one of these - provided it's been looked after - could be the best thing you do. However, if you still don't think the Skoda is the way to go take a look at this:



Now go and have a look at what a Golf GTi of the same age and spec would cost you, bare in mind that it's 30bhp less too.

We reckon you'll become a Skoda convert around 8 seconds into looking at prices.

Mad props to Mr. Bevis for educating me in my (now edited) failures!