You know that thing where you know of a car that would fit a thread and you can't for the life of you remember whose it is or where the thread has gone? That. Somewhere on RR is a Standard 8 or 10 in flat green, lowered, with Suzuki Cappucino running gear. It's a sort of make do and mend because the Suzie was utterly rotten and the Standard was mind-numbingly slow but works brilliantly.
I'm not sure about the leather interior thing. The seat on a café racer is barely a seat at all, so for the four-wheeled equivalent, I'd say you need something like a lightweight bucket. There's no weather protection to speak of (such as a fairing etc.) The café racer is all about lightness and speed, surely something like the new Caterham Seven 160 with the 660cc turbo Suzuki engine is exactly it? Or how about this Mini speedster?
This Volvo 140 fits the bill nicely. Admittedly, it's on Minilites but I think they work in this instance.
Gilbern Invaders are a Welsh car that look Italian... until you put it on wire wheels.
Better yet, put it on some slot mags, make it BRG and fit a vinyl roof. It's very difficult to be more British, especially with the restrained application of chrome.
Studebaker Commander. American cars aren't really known for carrying of a lighter touch with modifying, they have a lot of styling and make a lot of use of it. But Studebaker are different and this one with its Jaguar-esque alloys and lack of fuss or flounce painted in a very flattering and subtle shade gives it a strong overtone of Britishness in this picture. It may be different from other angles and indeed the front end could certainly look a little more Citroen-y head on, but overall it has the right feel to it and a UK plate would likely make it fit right in.
Working the night shift is bad, because it leaves me a lot of time to think. And what it's led me to think is this... That Mini speedster is cool, but pretty old skool (and nothing wrong with that). And the examples that HotWire mentioned in the OP are all old-skool too (GT6, Herald etc.) Could we bring the concept a bit further forward? MINI have sort of done it with the Superleggera Vision:
but that's too modern for us. What about.....a Mk3 Escort cabrio? I have no graphics program (or capabilities!), so I shall have to paint you a picture with words. I'm aiming for a kind of Escort speedster/barchetta/special. Rip off the roof, remove the bumpers, rollbar and rear seats, weld up the boot and doors, and remove the locks. Weld in a bulkhead behind the front seats and add in some more strengthening to the shell. To cover the space that once held the rear seats and roof, add a 'fairing'. If possible (and it might not be legal to do so), cut the windscreen frame down to at least half its height, or remove it and fit aero screens. Take out the dashboard and replace it with a very simple binnacle, with a speedo and rev counter (actually, the Superleggera has a nice simple dash). Lightweight bucket seats and harnesses, but I think we still need carpets. Rip out the door panels and all the gubbins for the windows and fit basic flat door cards. Remove the front indicators, plate over the holes, simple dome indicators in the bumpers below the headlights, maybe with separate sidelights too. Simple separate domes at the rear too. Remove the grille, add a mesh, á la Mondeo ST200. Drop it a few inches, and add wheels to taste, I think I'd like black steels, with smooth chrome hubcaps and rings. Tonneau cover to finish. So...thoughts? Would it work? Would it look horrendous? Anyone up for photoshopping it to see?
If there is something that ooze's British style then it has to be Morgan..
let's play homage to the 3 wheeler....
If l see another Herald with false minilights l will
I'm thinking herald 12/50 style no roof or screen but add the areo screens, rostyle steel banded wheels, Britol style dash with fighter plane gauges, quilted Bentley bucket seats just two seater with DB5 style rear lights and no horrid white bumpers TR3 style grille. Oh and engine something wizzy like ford's new 3 cylinder 140bhp engine mated to something crazy like 4 speed straight cut gearbox White with mat black bonnet and big black circle on the doors and blacked out recess for number plate
I'm not sure there is a definitive British style when it comes to modified cars - if there is then it leans towards a "race/rally car for the road" type I think - tuned original engine, or a bolt in swap from another car by the same manufacturer. Maybe a Rover V8 tucked up front if the owner has gone wild.
Unlikely to be a foreign car though - Ford or BL.
Fast Fords probably sum it up - like a South London Style Escort (warning - may return dodgy results if googled .
Or this Cortina:
(Sorry for the images - only ones I could find - feel free to remove them if there are copyright issues)
About the only country I can think of that really has its own style when it comes to modified cars is Australia - massive blowers, big wheels, and burnouts:
A British look is surely going to come from a mix of race cars and racing tintops , rally cars , prestige sports cars , and specials .Thats the basis of a British look , then mutated , i.e south london look , no bumpers , lowered , minilites .
Think British racing green , almond green , tartan red , old english white , modest wheels not o.t.t , standardish looking maybe a few bits more , maybe a few removed , stuff from the track or rally stage .
IMO , its understated modesty - with a punch underneath .
Mini speedster above reminded me of the 'British Look' MX5 that was at Wheels Day.
I really like the look of that MX5, and I like the fact that the 'look' has been applied to a foreign car. I think that the 'British look' could be applied to non-British cars quite well, just as the cafe racer look has been applied to non-British bikes successfully.
This look is sort of what I'm going to go for with my Peugeot 205, it'll be stripped out with just period-looking bucket seats, with a small, noisey 4-pot engine, standard (base model) exterior, wide steel wheels with sticky tyres. It might not come across as 'British look' though, being French...
It is great this has inspired some discussion .. I'm hoping it has inspired some ideas and maybe a build or two.
I think I've still not got to the bottom of what I have in my brain, or maybe I've not communicated it very well (when I look back at my posts)... everything feels close, but not exactly what I'm thinking. I reckon I'll have to build it and then work out if I'm talking out the side of my neck
I totally get what HoTWire means about Minilights (I am rather keen on them myself even though I run either Dunlop D1’s or reverse rims on my Mini) but as adam73bgt pointed out they can look very good on cars you don’t expect to see them on. It’s just a pity they didn’t make one of the best British wheels in more sizes – Rostyles. Yes I know they are American but they go hand in hand with the cool British cars of the 60’s and 70’s – Rover P5B, Mini 1275GT, Vauxhall Magnum - so I am claiming them for Queen and Country!
I think one of the problems with some of the cool British cars is that they seem to be in the domain of the flat cap brigade. There’s nothing wrong with this but it can lead us to be a little blinkered to the potential of these cars. A couple of years back my uncle gave me a 1500 MG Midget to run around in for a couple of month before he put it up for sale. It was a brilliant, really fun little car but was showing its age. When he came to sell it he had a hell of a job. Everyone said that it just needed too much doing to it to put it back to original. That was true but what would be the point, it was just be yet another 1500 MG Midget. It would have lent itself really well to a Café Racer look, whip off the rubber bumpers, teak the suspension, a subtle design edition to the paintwork and it would have been a really unique little car. The odd battle scar just adds to the overall look. I would never be worth a fortune but it would have been different and it would still be fun to drive.
I've kind of had similar thoughts along similar lines but in slightly different directions, spurred on by some entertaining drives recently.
Americans have lots of straight roads. The result? Drag racing and a whole style of car that is influenced by it. Hot rods, pro-touring etc.
Germans have lots of fast smooth autobahns. The result? Big, low, fast uber saloons rolling on big wheels. VIP-ish. Golfs bouncing and scraping along, fat and low.
What do we have? Lots of fast and twisty back roads, especially in Wales and Scotland, with good sightlines and lots of challenges. Why aren't we building "our" equivalent of "German Look" on Beetles? Fast-road focused Rover P5s with loads of grunt, Heralds with attitude... Not track day cars, not even necessarily street-racers, but something stiff enough to handle well, with enough compliance and ride height to handle the bumps and potholes, power enough to be point-and-squirt entertaining between the corners, lots of torque but not heavy. Enough "luxuries" to make it daily drivable - no fixed bucket seats or roll cages, not stripped out (maybe even a bit of Wilton & Walnut, that's what the British did best) but thoroughly civilised yet able to handle any situation.
If it's relatively common to see a late 1303 Beetle with lots of well thought through modern Porsche bits engineered into it, why are there no Aston Martin Morris Minors?
Half-baked and not really thought through. But does any of that make sense? A sort of motorised Brian Blessed
I'm glad I'm not the only one who has considered this kind of route. Before I bought my Lotus I was seriously looking at P4s, PC Crestas and the like, cars quintessentially British in look and feel, something that could be modified without removing its "Britishness" or style of its era. I had this idea of getting a P4, lowering it ( not too much) banded steels, polished hubcaps and chrome, nice paint and leaving the interior alone so that it wasn't mint but was clean, tidy and had a natural patina. The engine would have either been replaced with another 6 from a BMW or even a 24v Senator lump or it would have been breathed on, carrying out the kind of modifications that it could have received back in the day. The end result would have been CLEAN, something that isn't overly prevalent anymore, not that its a bad thing, each to their own.
I had this idea of getting a P4, lowering it ( not too much) banded steels, polished hubcaps and chrome, nice paint and leaving the interior alone so that it wasn't mint but was clean, tidy and had a natural patina. The engine would have either been replaced with another 6 from a BMW or even a 24v Senator lump or it would have been breathed on, carrying out the kind of modifications that it could have received back in the day. The end result would have been CLEAN, something that isn't overly prevalent anymore, not that its a bad thing, each to their own.
This is basically what the Retro scene actually is... or at least what it started out as, before we discovered the delights of our foreign friends and people started trying to re-create them, from Berg Cup to Bosozoku, it has all been rather interesting, in fact rather more interesting than our own (European) heritage and what we can do with that in our somewhat twisted modified brains, but I'm feeling saturated by it and (as my very first paragraph observes) I think we're missing a trick,.. seems I'm not alone
This thread has made me re think my wheel choice for the MG, maybe steels might be a way to go... Its also got me thinking of all the little touches you get on a british style car, like leather bonnet straps
I guess some people would make the argument that the British make a habit of looking all over the world for inspiration. Take the generally agreed birth of tikka masala. I think it supports the idea of taking something from overseas and making it fit better to the UK. The British look MX5 above is a good example, who else would put knock off hubs on a modern-ish sports car? Yes I know they are not real knock offs but the idea is right.
By the way, Hotwire, if you want to post more pics of gorgeous cafe racers, you sir, have my permission.