Monday, October 30, 2006

"My other car is a talking Austin Maestro"

The Best Cars Ever - Episode II

The Ford Capri

Before becoming American Vice President in 1973, Gerald Ford had only one obsession, stated most clearly in a 1968 speech to the House of Representatives in which he declared,

"We must strive, at all costs, to give the working classes of Great Britain an affordable sports coupe."

To this end, Ford approached young actor and stylist Richard Ghia, with a view to creating 'the working man's Ferrari'. The result was unveiled to stunned onlookers at the 1969 Hull Motor Show.

The Capri was a revelation. For little more than the cost of a Hillman Imp, the Great British youth could now afford a car which could easily out-perform Porsches, Lancias and even (sometimes) Vauxhall Vivas. On a 1971 edition of BBC2's Top Gear Lord Lucan achieved a speed of 181 mph in a Capri 3.0i on the M1, going from 0-60 in 4 seconds in a test-start on the hard-shoulder just approaching Loughborough Services (an area later made famous by Gillian Taylforth and Michael Knight).

Throughout the 70s and early 80s the Capri was the car to have for sports-minded Britons, and among its owners were Benny Hill (later a charismatic TV evangelist), Sid James, The Queen Mother and Cardinal Cormack Murphy O'Connor.

Growing up during these years I dearly longed for my dad to get a Capri, and eventually he did, albeit well into the 1980s. It was worth the wait however - it was a Ghia (all top-of-the-range Fords were styled by US actor, Richard Ghia). I vividly recall my dad doing 210mph in our Capri one Sunday morning, on a quiet B-Road. It was nearly as fast as our Austin Maxi had been, and looked so much better. Here's our Capri on our front drive in a photo taken in 1986:

As the pressures of his position as Vice-President (and later President) of America, began to take its toll on Ford, his cars became somewhat less adventurous. The Escort and the Fiesta (named after his two favourite magazines) certainly failed to excite this writer.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Ted Rogers in the 25th Century

"Tarmac: That could signify the tarmac on an airport runway, suggesting a holiday. Or it could refer to the tarmac on a road, on which a brand new car would drive. But dustbin vans also drive on tarmac roads . . . . . . "

Meanwhile, in the world of the wireless . .

This Saturday featuring an exclusive session from Sharon And The Family Stone.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

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