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Missy Charm

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  1. Who'd want to drive that? Hareton Senna?
  2. I used to have a mark one Focus saloon. It wasn't a great example of the breed, looked odd and didn't handle as well as the hatchback by virtue of being longer. It was identical to the hatch in all other ways, however, although did get a lot of comments as people thought it was weird. Incidentally we received mark two saloons as well as mark ones. The mark two is a better looking car, almost a miniature Mondeo: And on the subject of funny Focuses, what about the American mark two? For some reason they didn't get the normal mark two Focus in the States; Ford instead decided to facelift the mark one, which was sold there in pretty much identical form to the European car, circa 2005 using all sorts of weird local bits and mark two engines. The result wasn't great: You can see the vague attempt at mark two styling, but it's patently still the older car. They also sold that version as a sedan, which was better looking. If anything it was prettier than our mark one Focus saloon: In 2007 the Americans finally got a mark two, but again it wasn't the European mark two. That time they got a completely different, locally styled car which came only in sedan and coupe body styles: I suspect it was designed to look better as a small saloon than the European variant. Anyway things went back to normal for the mark three, which was the same on both sides of the Atlantic other than a sedan variant continuing in the States.
  3. Having a Toyota stolen: it's no picnic...
  4. All the posh jeeps and the like round here are sporting Krookloks, Clubloks, Stoplocks, Disclocks and all manner of early nineties Halfords tat on their steering wheels. How long until the Moss MS remote control alarm with LED scanner makes a comeback? On a serious note, why has this happened? Cars of the 2000-2010 period with combination immobiliser and ignition key are very difficult to steal without the key. The rise in thefts attributable to the introduction of keyless cars has proved that the keyless system is simply not a robust enough security system in the real world. Why, then, are car buyers not picketing dealerships and demanding a return to proper keys? I have driven keyless cars and they offer no practical advantage at all to cars with keys. Pressing an unlock button on a remote control key (I do like remote controlled locking, I must say), isn't that difficult. We don't need a technological solution to that problem because it isn't one. I suspect the answer is because it's cheaper to make keyless cars. There's no need to manufacture an ignition barrel and, additionally, no need to have a solid keyswitch structure in the vicinity of the steering wheel, which simplifies crash testing. But these things can be got round. Incidentally, most drivers seem to get in and stick their keyless key, which is usually on a bunch with other keys, in the nearest convenient cubbyhole. The bunch of keys is not, therefore, anchored to anything in the car. Have there been any injuries caused by bunches of keys sent flying by collisions? It's possible.
  5. One of these was parked in my road the other day; not seen it before so don't think it belongs to a neighbour. It's gone now. Was badged as a Megane Classic, which is presumably French for Orion.
  6. I've never understood the fixation with the blue car; it's clearly a one-off special that someone skilled concocted in his garage like so many other home-mades that were around at the time. Bodywork on production cars in those days was rubbish but lots of mechanical bits were fairly tough, leading to a surfeit of useable engines and gearboxes and the like in breakers' yards. The last war with the make do and mend mentality, and the affinity with mechanics and engineering that existed in the minds of many in what was then an industrial nation led to the obvious desire to do something with the car parts that were often just lying around. Specials were the obvious answer, bringing glamour to the mundane and grey backstreets of fifties Britain; they were a chance to express creative flair too, which was important in context. Where there is conformity there is always the desire to subvert; if you can't afford a sports-car, make one. Specials: they're nothing special! The blue car looks well made, but to find that unusual is to fail to understand the history of the period. The things people could put together in a backyard or a railway arch could be of equivalent quality to goods from proper manufacturers; indeed some outfits were actually putting series production cars together under similar circumstances. Things like engineering could be done at the special builder's works, sometimes when the supervisor's back was turned and sometimes with the boss's blessing. We'll probably never be able to say categorically that the special is actually a Salkeld Josephine GT (or whatever), because the answer is lost in time. Understanding why it is, however, leaves one free not to care.
  7. Yes and yes. Thank you; it's not the most attractive vehicle, is it!
  8. No photo, I'm afraid, but a taxi related query in regards to something seen in episode two of the third series of The Sweeney, 'Selected Target' (1976). During one of the many driving scenes that will be familiar to viewers of the programme, a strange looking black cab appears in shot for some time. It is parked up and static throughout. The car looks to be the usual black hackney in regular service and has a strong resemblance to the then ubiquitous Austin FX4. The mystery taxi seems to be identical in size to the Austin, and has a very similar silhouette; my guess is that it has an FX4 chassis and special coachwork, therefore. The key difference is the front end: instead of the usual round, sealed beam headlights and traditional upright radiator grille, the mystery car has a full width chrome slatted radiator and rectangular quartz headlights. That treatment gives the mystery taxi a flatter, more squared off frontal appearance that is more in keeping with seventies styling, but doesn't really blend nicely into the lines of the rest of the body. It almost looks like an attempt to create the Metrocab long before such a thing existed. Any ideas? My guess is that it's a special or running design proposal for updates to the FX4. Those updates never occurred, of course, as the good old black cab continued unaltered into the nineties...
  9. I've re-written that section, as it happens: 'I wrote a poem today! Well wrote’s pushing it, perhaps, but I did the typing.’ Phyllis, listening, heaved herself upright and turned to face Monica ‘Poem? What poem?’ ‘It’s called Dye-Gressions, hardly Eliot.’ ‘What do you think of that, Mr Box?’ asked Phyllis. ‘The girls writing poetry,’ the man replied. ‘What’s the harm. Auden’s my favourite: Night Mail.’ He sighed ‘my boys are hardly old enough to remember steam in scheduled service. There’s railway preservation and the odd special but it’s not the same.’ ‘I don’t mind the new ones,’ said Monica. ‘The steam engines were poor old things by the end.’ ‘They didn’t have to be,’ Box walked over to the office noticeboard and contemplated the dozens of documents, pictures and memos pinned to it. ‘Unbelievable,’ the man snatched a memo from the board, sending its pin flying. ‘Says here: “As Autumn approaches consider closing windows to keep heat in.”’ ‘Does it really,’ Elaine said. She opened the bottom drawer of her desk, took out a notebook and leafed through it. ‘We are all in agreement that yesterday there was a memo saying “Fresh air is good for you. Consider opening windows.”, and today’s directly contradicts that. I therefore make a tally mark in the ‘contradictory’ column, which takes the total number of contradictory memos received in 1979 to 15.’ ‘How’s the great memo race looking?’ asked Angie expectantly. ‘You’re leading with misspellings, 45 so far, but you need to watch out for Monica and her useless memos; she’s on 38 and she’s gaining, there were two last week. My grammatical errors are still looking a bit tasty at 35 and poor old Mr Box’s contradictions are stone cold last.’ ‘Here, less of the old!’ said Box. ‘The cockle’s still anyone’s,’ Monica mused.
  10. Thank you for the comments, all. I am well aware that there is 'too much'* detail in the extract, but the novel's role (in general terms, not this one) is to introduce readers to unknown concepts and unfamiliar territories. One has a certain responsibility to do something new and, bar Tom Wolfe, I don't believe anyone has shone a literary torch into car customising's corner of the universe; certainly nobody bar specialist publications, the odd human interest newspaper article and passing mentions in 'weren't the seventies crap' type stocking filler books has really touched on the British scene. It wasn't one of the most important aspects of working class life, but it was always there. The Capri is 'real', at least in book terms, but it is also metaphorical in the sense of being something that should be part of, but is excluded from, the realms of folk art and of English eccentricity. Those realms belong to echelons above the working class, so gain a sort of legitimacy. Custom vehicles are by nature excluded from that and have their very right to exist threatened by public opinion and the state. They are, therefore, a form of self-expression that is, on the one hand, lovingly produced and, on the other, looked down upon and occasionally outlawed. I think it's interesting, whether you do or not is your concern. *at least it's not Margaret Atwood with whole pages describing every single piece of furniture and decorative item in a room with sizes and relative positions!
  11. I have come to a point of needing to describe a customised mark one Capri. Does the following ring true? There passage is bookended by text not reproduced here, for obvious reasons. By way of scene setting, the car appears in a magazine article which is being read by one of the characters. First the Capri had been named: ‘Stardream’. It had then gained an RS3100 rear spoiler, a deep steel front airdam and flared wheelarches. The bodywork at the front had been altered to take Jaguar XJ-S quartz halogen headlights and a plain black radiator grille, to which was affixed a specially made chromium plated quad pointed star. The rear had been changed too, with hexagonal, jewel-like taillights from a Datsun coupe fitted along with a louvre over the back window. For brightwork the car retained the ordinary bumpers, which were supplemented by four spoke Appliance wheels and sidepipes with perforated heat-shields. Power came from a supercharged Ford 351 driving a Jaguar axle by way of a four-speed manual gearbox. The blower and air-scoop poked through a hole cut in the middle of the bonnet. Best of all was the paintjob: electric blue metalflake on the body, with plainer Prussian blue on the bonnet and boot-lid. The boot had an airbrushed mural of a spiral galaxy, done in shades of bluish white; the bonnet had another mural, the Jewel Box star cluster with the large stars painted in shades of emerald, ruby and sapphire. There was more airbrushing on the sides, from the central swage line downwards. Monica brought the magazine up to her nose for a closer look. A gloss black backdrop, star speckled and traversed by little silver spacecraft with fire belching engines. In the foreground was the name “Stardream”, picked out in futuristic, violet-purple letters. The paint was thickly lacquered, glass-like. Inside, the seats were upholstered in purple buttoned dralon and the floor covered in thick blue carpet. The dashboard was covered in blue dralon and there were enough auxiliary gauges to rival a light aircraft. Oddly, the unfashionably large two-spoke Capri steering wheel remained in place.
  12. Missy Charm

    Rozzer Shite

    Just to expand on a point made in the comments about the Jankel, I have driven various police cars whilst being paid to do so! They weren't the real thing, mind, just civilian stuff used for clerical duties but they were police cars of a sort. I had a basic driving permit as part of my job, which gave access to such gems as a Smart car and, most often, a Ford Fiesta. The Fiesta was a basic dark blue one on an X or a Y with five doors, the 1.3 pushrod engine and no power steering. The lack of PAS made it very difficult to drive, for me at least, because it was fitted with the steering wheel from a power-steering car; presumably Fords had standardised the wheels by that point. Anyway the steering wheel was small in diameter so applied very little leverage to the steering column, making it almost impossible to steer at low speeds. I have driven much bigger cars without power steering but, crucially, with appropriately sized wheels and haven't had a problem. Nicer than the Fiesta was a plain (unmarked to the uninitiated but the then police parlance was 'plain') Vauxhall Astra turbo diesel in silver grey. It was a mid-2000s modern Astra rather than the 'classic' one, and it wasn't a bad car. The engine was very smooth and quiet for a diesel but the trade off was a lack of power. It seemed to handle all right, but was marred by uncomfortable seats, a weird gear lever and the infamous Vauxhall flick down and spring up indicator stalk. Better still was a plain blue mark two Focus diesel estate. It was supposed to be a CID runabout but ended up being used by all and sundry because the local CID never seemed to go anywhere. The telly would have you believe that being a detective is all action, however the reality is that it's principally an office job. Uniformed officers do pretty much all the arresting and a lot of the routine enquiries; CID's role is to trawl through the evidence, interview suspects already in custody and wade through endless paperwork. They do leave the station now and again, but only for certain enquiries and not often enough to need more than one or two pool cars. Those are basic specification; CID doing anything with blue lights and emergency runs is pure fiction, in real life if they needed to catch someone they'd use the radio and send an area or traffic car after the miscreant. Incidentally a DI is the equivalent of a senior manager. A police station in a medium sized provincial town may have one or two, but they won't investigate run of the mill crime as they appear to in detective dramas. Their real job is to run the CID office and to provide liaison with the upper ranks in uniform and in major investigations. The latter are a sort of travelling circus who show up if something serious such as a murder happens.* All the cars were per manufacturer specification except some had police radios fitted. *How did I find all that out? Let's just say that the building only had one smoking area...
  13. Missy Charm

    Rozzer Shite

    That's a Jankel. I worked for Essex Police, many years ago, and visited the vehicle garages at Boreham once or twice where the Essex Jankel resided. It was based on a really big American Ford truck, an F-350 possibly, with a diesel engine and left hand drive. The Jankel rarely went anywhere as all sorts of special permits and so on were needed to drive it; I seem to recall that it was reserved for armed response too. The name 'Jankel' may be familiar to some: it's the same Jankel, Robert, who was behind Panther, Panther Westwinds and the RJD Tempest.
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