WELCOME to totalkitcar online …

A warm welcome to totalkitcar online…….I was reading a book from Evro Publishing this week, one of their great series taking a decade-by-decade look at Formula One.

The title in question covers my favourite era, the eighties, a period that really captured my imagination with hugely powered turbos, grenade engines in qualifying trim, some rumoured to be packing as much as 1500bhp.

In the wild days of the F1 turbo era it was often said that in qualifying trim Nelson Piquet’s Brabham-BMW produced 1500bhp! Pic courtesy of www.f1since81.wordpress.com

It was also the time when largesse and financial excesses came to the fore, budgets spiralling out of control. As a lad, almost born and bred at Brands Hatch, it’s my favourite circuit and the sight of the front-running turbo cars coming out of Clearways, suffering from huge lag before ‘BOOM’ as the turbos cut in launching them along the main straight, was spectacular.

This was also the time when one of my favourite motor-racing quotes was heard: A journalist arriving late to the press box asked a colleague who was quick. “Oooh they are all quick, even the slow ones are quick.”

One day in the summer of 1986, when I was working for Kit Cars & Specials magazine, I got wind of a Formula One test at Brands Hatch and bunked off work on the pretence of ‘visiting a client’ and headed to north Kent with a flask and a box of sandwiches, parking myself in the grandstand on the pit straight. This gave me a great view of all the track and pit activities (Patrick Tambay firing a water pistol into the left ear of Steve Rider springs to mind as does what looked like a bit of a barney between Eddie Cheever and Riccardo Patrese!).

Ayrton Senna drove for Lotus during the wildest days of the turbo cars. Pic courtesy of www.motorsport.com

Two things really grabbed me – in addition to the colossal performance of the turbocharged cars, was the Tyrrell team, still running around with normally-aspirated Cosworth DFV V8s in their delicate Maurice Philippe-designed 015. Apart from being massively outgunned by the turbos (even Piercarlo Ghinzani’s Osella and Ivan Capelli’s AGS Motori Moderni – well maybe not the latter!), the contrast between the way Martin Brundle and my all-time favourite driver, Stefan Bellof handled their cars on the Brands Hatch GP circuit was stark.

Although it was outgunned by the turbo cars the Tyrrell 015, as driven by Martin Brundle and the late, great Stefan Bellof, was a beautifully balanced car. It’s amazing to see how far forward to drivers sat in those days.

Bellof’s control was instinctive almost and it shouldn’t be forgotten that the year that Ayrton Senna came to real prominence in the rain at Monaco when catching Alain Prost’s McLaren, Bellof was catching the pair of them in his underdog Tyrrell, hand over fist.

One thing that I vividly remember was a speed gun and read-out at the end of the Brands pitlane on the straight. I sat and marvelled as most of the big name drivers flashed past at over 130mph on the short blast to Paddock Hill Bend. However, Senna, then driving for Lotus was a bit late out but I’d noticed that as he sat in his car he was blipping the throttle in a most unique and distinctive way. However, when he did a few laps and got up to speed he shattered the top speed of the day with a blistering 152mph! It was then that I think all of those present really knew that he was something a bit extra special…

As a footnote to this, I used to love it when the World Sportscar Championship came to Brands Harch each year for their eight-hour endurance race. The sight of Porsche 956 and 962 Group C cars, often piloted by current F1 drivers of the day was a real highlight. I really liked the Martini-sponsored Lancia LC2, a very pretty car but absolutely hopeless for endurance racing. However, in qualifying trim with its Ferrari-F1 spec turbo engine with the wick turned up; minimum fuel load – wow. It really was quite something especially with Riccardo Patrese driving. A turbo haze usually followed it but if it held together it would often take pole. The races were always a different matter though …normally dominated by a Porsche 956/962 either factory-prepared or privateer such Joest or Brun.

Watching the very pretty Lancia LC2 GpC car qualify, especially with Riccardo Patrese at the wheel, was a sight to behold. The Ferrari turbo engine always had its wick turned right up during qualifying. Not so good for longevity though!

TKC MAG March/April 2018 is out NOW.


We’ve got plenty of good stuff this issue again, dear reader and here’s just a sample …

Crendon CR427 The Crendon CR427 is a jewel of a Cobra replica and in late 2016 it was taken over by Anthony Hale of Absolute Horsepower, who has spent the time since gently revising the kit although he knows he doesn’t have to change much as it’s a winner. STEVE HOLE went to see how he’s getting on.
MEV Exocet G-Type Mills Extreme Vehicles has announced what is effectively the Exocet Mk3, known as the G-Type, which although looking familiar features a whole host of amendments, not to mention the availability of Mazda MX-5 Mk3 donor.
GBS Profile GBS Zero, ATR dampers, brake calipers, throttle bodies, a CNC-filled machine shop and Kit Parts Direct. There’s a lot going on at Great British Sports Cars.
Ian Hyne column Ian’s back with more ‘Hyne-sight’
Richard Bird column This issue Richard talks LPG and speed cameras!
INDUSTRY GREATS – Microplas Les Brown charts the history of the industry’s earliest and most important marques, Microplas, real automotive GRP pioneers.
Rust, its causes and how to cure it Rob Marshall deals with matters of a tin-worm nature.
Barry Boughton’s AK427 Barry Boughton has been a busy boy on his glorious AK427 build and brings us up to date with developments over the winter.
From the Archives The grand old Peerless features in From the Archives this issue.
Merlin Sports Cars Another once prolific kitcar marque, after many years away, Merlin is back.
Introducing – 2Spec Transmission 2Spec do a nice line in restorations with BMW 2002 a speciality but they also know a bit about gearboxes.
Coolex – The Cool Experts Nottingham-based Coolex has recently moved premises and Steve Hole paid them a visit to see how the radiator meisters are settling in.
Aries Motorsport/AB Performance These two manufacturers work closely together but remain independent although now share premises. A very impressive new premises…
Body Conversion round-up We round up all the body conversion kits that you can buy in the UK.



Hoffmann Cabrio

A beautifully-quirky period-style cabriolet that had been available for many years in its native Germany, was the Hoffman Cabrio designed by Wolfgang Hoffmann.

Hoffmann 2CV is a Citroën 2CV specialist supplying spare parts, stainless steel chassis and GRP replacement body parts. Hoffmann introduced his Cabrio in 1988 since when almost 2000 have been sold (approximately 250 factory builds included). The company also offers other 2CV-based models including a van, a pickup and a wild limo.

Wolfgang Hoffmann also produces this cool 2CV Limo

The Cabrio was available in the UK for a short period between 2005-2006, marketed by Brighton-based 2CV Heaven. I’m not sure why it didn’t catch-on here as it was beautifully made and overwhelmingly charming. Maybe, it had something to do with the purple patch for 2CV-based kits passing because by the mid-noughties Lomax sales had diminished greatly.

If it had arrived in the UK ten years earlier perhaps it would have been more prolific? Who knows. Plus, hindsight is a wonderful thing!

SNIPPETS 1 ……..Caterham Cars will be holding their annual open day on Easter Monday, April 2, at their showroom in Crawley. If you’ve never been before it is well worth the visit, even if you’re not a Seven owner.

Head to: Caterham Gatwick; Dialog, Fleming Way, Crawley, West SussexRH10 9NQ. 

More information from www.caterhamcars.com or 01293 312 300.

Caterham Cars hold their annual open day at their Caterham Gatwick (Crawley to be precise!) on Easter Monday, April 2.

SNIPPETS 2. …….. The first GBS Cars & Coffee event takes place on Saturday, March 24 at the company’s factory near Newark.

Great British Sports Cars are also the sponsors for the newly-formed Lincolnshire Automobile Club (www.lincolnshireauomobileclub.com).

SNIPPETS 3……… Burlen Ltd, the world’s only manufacturer of genuine SU (Skinners Union), AMAL and Zenith carburettors, is gearing up for another hugely exciting display at the Goodwood Members’ Meeting this weekend (March 17-18).

The Salisbury-based company will be showcasing its latest products and services, including everything there is to know about SU Carburettors and spares.

Amongst Burlen’s Goodwood arsenal will be its revolutionary SUi fuel injection system, which sees a fuel injection device work inside a carb. It’s one of historic motoring’s most eagerly anticipated products and Burlen’s staff will be on hand to talk interested parties through the development.

Also on the stand will be examples of their SU Carburetter restoration service, bound to attract plenty of attention from enthusiasts in attendance. Plus, Burlen’s SU Clothing Company tweed caps will go up for grabs at the Members’ Meeting, for the first time.

Burlen boss, Mark Burnett said: “We’re delighted to be back at Goodwood for the 76th Members’ Meeting to showcase everything from the world of SU. This year we’ll not only be exhibiting the extensive range of SU Carburettors and spares but also our rather fetching new selection of head-worn tweed in the form of vintage-styled caps. The event represents the start of the motorsport season in the UK and there’s no better place to get the ball rolling for SU in 2018, too.”

More information from www.goodwood.com or www.burlen.co.uk.

We’re delighted to support this great charity at TKC Mag/totalkitcar – get it checked out boys.


Thanks for letting me know that you’ve been enjoying these fun, little album tips. They are intended to bring you some great music – often, admittedly, of a ‘crunchy’ guitar blues-rock variety – including some stuff that you may not have heard before, or even forgotten about, while also being easy to find on Apple Music or Android equivalent.

Every now and then when I get tired of hearing ‘Freebird’ and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ (again) I drift away from playing Lynyrd Skynyrd albums, but it’s not long before I am heavily rotating classics like ‘That Smell’, ‘Gimme Back My Bullets’, ‘What’s Your Name’, ‘Gimme Three Steps’ or the majestic anti-drug song ‘That Smell’.

The band packed a real punch with their triple-guitar attack and in the late Allen Collins they had a master of his instrument, but it’s more than that as their lyrics and general songs had real delicacy and let’s be honest, genius, about them, a word one would have to associate with vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, too.

All of their early albums are first class and above but I regularly reach for ‘Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd’, ‘Gimme Back My Bullets’ and ‘the iconic ‘Street Survivors’. Sublime stuff.


Thanks for the über positive feedback over this fun weekly beer-orientated item. It’s our real ale recommendation as with over 1400 micro-breweries in the UK, you won’t struggle to find a local artisan, with some of them truly tiny. Fact is cask ale drinkers are spoilt for choice. Let us also point out that we definitely DON’T condone drink/driving rather than enjoying a pint in moderation during your leisure time.

A recent visit to Norfolk presented a welcome opportunity to sample the wares of Reepham, Norfolk-based Panther Brewery and their stunningly good Red Panther, a clean, nutty-tasting red ale of 4.1% ABV with a crisp, hoppy finish. More from www.pantherbrewery.co.uk.

That’s about it from me this week so until next Friday (March 23), when I look forward to welcoming you here again, I’ll bid you a great week and pleasant motoring but do take care out on the roads.

See Ya…

Best Regards