Ko-Op Tour of Deutschland | Going Around the Benz

As someone who is not all that into the Euro scene of car kulture, I will honestly admit that Mercedes-Benz have produced some machines that surpass other makers, even before they can put up a fight. It is fair to say Mercs have been pioneers from the get go.

The place is pretty sizeable, made obvious by the fact that upon entering the lobby you start the tour by elevating to the uppermost level of the museum’s nine planes, at some lofty height enough to make Luke a bit squeamish.

I found it amusing how the roof resembled the profile of an epitrochoid, the same shape as a rotor in a Wankel engine…

The floorplan of the Benz building is pretty cool, it flows down through the timeline of Mercedes and every significant model in their lineage can be found on each floor which signifies a decade.

Check out the gills on the side of the 300SL Gullwing! Back then, Merc’s design department were in the zone and produced some kutting edge automotive art. My favourite element has got to be the side-exit cannons coming out of the quarter-panel of that 300 SLR.

The section of the museum that was worth more than admission has got to be where I saw the 190E Evolution II. I wouldn’t change a thing on that machine.

Then we walked down a floor, and there it sat on a sloped bank stage amongst a plethora of Mercedes’ racing legends, the #3 Sonax 190E 2.6-16 Evo II DTM car of 1992. I vividly remember clocking some nuts laptime on Nurburgring (virtually) when it first appeared in Gran Turismo 4. I must have been 10 years old back then, getting giddy about my first sub-8 minute PB; that car has burnt a scar in my memory. It is the ultimate sleeper that is not sleeper at all in Evo form.

Ignore what I said about not altering the pure, elegant physique of the Merc; I would most definitely style it in the fashion of that touring car in two-tone. Maybe change the ‘BOSS HUGO BOSS’ livery to ‘BOSS COFFEE’ next to a silhouette of Tommy Lee Jones…

Once I found out Mercedes gave the rotary engine a chance, they shifted up in my rankings. The C111, although only went as so far as a design concept, is without a doubt one of the most interesting cars I saw and yeah, it’s probably because of the Wankelmotor. It was a decent attempt at defying convention, so I can’t fault Mercedes for trying back in the late 60’s when Mazda were doing the same, but disappointingly the German autogiants flipped off the possibility of a 3 or 4-rotor and developed the diesel lump that found its way into the 240D 3.0. Bit of a shame the C111 remained a development mule, since customers sent blank cheques to the company in hope that they would churn out production-models; would have been a success by the sounds of it…

Thats all for now, it was a quick one, but I feel I need to bust these posts out as I am lagging behind on the Germany content. Plus, I don’t really care for Mercedes-Benz at this point in time. I feel like the newer cars are lacking soul nowadays, and that goes for the majority of car manufacturers. I reckon Mercedes should pump out more krazy koncepts like they used to, and then find a way to go absolutely bananas on the drawing board for a flagship model…

Anyway, the real good bits are yet to come, so keep an eye or two out!

Ko-Op Tour of Deutschland | First Stop: The Ring

Just after coming back from Japan in June, returning to work wasn’t gruelling, but there’s always the helpless reminiscing about the great country no matter how many times I go back, its always an unforgettable experience.

I felt, however, I needed to do the trip that has always been within arms’ reach; the one any car “enthusiast” must fulfil as a rite of passage. Germany. Nurburgring in particular, but I wanted to ensure I got to see as much of the country as possible within a short span of time. Fortunately, I have a buddy who has featured on the site in previous posts (Luke) who has ventured twice before, so he had the Ring experience under his belt and was pretty keen on getting back out there this summer just gone. We planned the trip for about 6 nights, cramming a decent amount of highly car-related activities in. Not gonna spoile whats to come, but Nurburgring was just the beginning…

We picked the hire car up from the airport in Cologne, and made the drive down to Nurburg, home to the infamous Green Hell. It was really odd seeing the circuit, initially, as we were just rolling along the country road that lines up parallel to the Dottinger Hohe (the longest straight on the track, where we have all gone off at the end of on Gran Turismo). Luke was like, “See where that Audi gantry board is, that’s the home stretch”, and at first all I could do is replay memories in my head of watching replays of the virtual version of the Nordschleife, trying to work grasp my bearings. It was pretty nuts at first. Then it just kept getting nuttier, as the villages you drive through are littered with so much serious metal, you don’t know where to look.

A quick walk through the ‘ring`Boulevard’ where there’s a few manufacturer dealership/showrooms, a go-kart track, ‘ringwerk’ museum, a handful of giftshops, and a tattoo parlour. We then made our way back to the hero-hirecar which we spent hours debating over whether it was the update 184-bhp model or not. Turns out, it was, according to the VIN plate. Bit disappointing to be honest as I expected a bit more out of the tune-up Mazda made. Not complaining though; its boot was big enough for my camera backpack, a duffel, and a mini suitcase. Oh yeah, and it drove spektakularly.

On the Thursday we landed, practice for the VLN 4 hour endurance race was already in progress, so we headed to a couple corners where you can park up and spectate till your heart’s content, watching the beast-mimicking GT4 & GT3 cars blitz by, before we drove to our airbnb.

Took this just before I got shouted at by the giftshop saleswoman for pointing my camera at basically everything…

Suited & Booted, Kitted & … | Fitted UK 2019

Late July just gone, I decided to head over to Manchester and see what the north can offer when its time for the gladrags to be donned. Fitted UK is, from what I can tell, a pretty well established automotive outlet, and I have always been intrigued by the online content I have seen in the past: vehicles set up on 2-foot high stage platforms dotted about the main hall.

So, since I have been a bit slack on the blogfront, here is a image-heavy post for your viewing pleasure.

I chuckled to myself when I saw the reg on this R34 GT-R, as it spells out my initials. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the owner about to be able to tell him I want the keys back now, haha. As we all know, the Bayside Blue bombshell is a timeless klassik, so not much modification is needed to be honest. Tastefully executed, this V-Spec model had a few touches that made it stand out, like the inlet hardpiping, polished & engraved fusebox cover, and well-fitted black TE37s.

A hard combination to beat: Millenium Jade on an R32 GT-R equipped with a TRA-Kyoto Pandem widebody. I’m a sucker for this generation of Skyline just in stock form, but this tough-looking machine by JapSalon blew me away.

One of two “Midnight Purple” tinged R32s, this one wearing a set of Work CR2Ps under what seemed like a stock body sans the front and rear bumper add-ons. I found the assymetric headlight-intake unit quite kool, as was the purple underglow.

Yet another Pandem R32 Skyline that was getting a shedload of attention from the crowd gathering around it. It must be that metallic shade of purple doing justice to those body lines. That widebody conversion is incredibly well done; designer Kei Miura knows how to sculpt automotive art.

A few R35 GT-Rs made an appearance, of course, being the most popular and relatively more accessible of the “godzilla” selection. My top ranker was this all-carbon, Overtake-bodied model, with some TE37s in a colour rarely specced on the legendary wheel. This bodykit is featured on GTRs around the world, particularly those that destroy literally everything on a dragstrip, so rest assured its not just all for the sake of showing of that new weave.

The Pandem kraze was spreading like wildfire it seems, as this striking R32 in red was in attendance, with a set of wide Work VSXX 3-piece barrels shrouded by those girthy widearches.

Interesting take on this 4-door 4th Gen Civic, and it properly suits it. A style I wouldn’t mind seeing more of to be honest.

Back to basic and clean bodylines with this white-on-blue EK Civic.

I currently am unsure how I feel about this ‘Kanjozoku’ look being replicated outside of Japan. It is almost sacred, and the origin of the tribal car culture has deep roots, which I think is best left to those who run the real loop in Osaka. At the same time, there were a few decent builds that actually pulled off the street-runner look quite nicely.
That grey and white EJ Civic with its cut-up rear bumper was a kool thing.

Slightly left-field was this EF Civic with some pretty negatively cambered stance using Work Equip 40 wheels with chrome lips to polish off the look of this hatchback.

My fave Civic of the day has got to be this EG in two-tone, with its heavy duty rollcage (bolt-on or welded, I don’t know) and aggresive poise.

I love that look reminiscent of the Japanese 80s, with the top-bottom two-tone exterior paint.

Front and centre of the main stage sat this Phoenix Yellow DC5 Integra Type-R, a paint option never offered by Honda for the final generation fast FF coupe. Not only was it wearing an unusual colour code, the rare Mugen kit was a bit of a blast from the past. Saying that, the ‘Teg’ still looks fresh and modern till this day. Klap klap Honda, designers of timeless machines.

Very loud looking NA MX-5 hunkered down on some sprawly wheel fitment…

At first I thought the rollers under this NB MX-5 were Weds Bazreia, but I misjudged, as I soon found the centre caps read Euroline. Never come across these two-piece wheels by the one and only Work, which impressed me and proved how this this build is not your average low roadster. Would be mint to see this turbocharged Mazda moving swift out on the road. The touches of exposed carbon break the mould also, not to mention a bodykit I’ve never come across. A lot of cool details on this that some would overlook.

Emoji horn button doing a great job mirroring the driver’s reaction when they katch a full send in a roadster. Ahh, I do miss mine…

Its hard to make an S2000 look terrible. Some interesting choice wheels on that red one; orange Honda was cool playing the safe set-up.

Some more sick roadsters outside in the overflow.

My first car was a Toyota Aygo, not as radical as this LHD model from Finland (if I remember correctly, probably totally wrong).

First time seeing one of Khyzyl Saleem’s lifelike renderings come to, well, LIFE. This 86 he created sporting a Rocket Bunny widebody, was definitely a eye-katching machine, from its striking livery to the sharp trio of canards mounted low at both corners of the rear bumper. I kept going back for more, as the numerous photos exemplify.

Refreshing to see something other that panda white on a Hachiroku. Why I didn’t take more pics, I’ll never know…

Some dude was revving the arse off of some car, but I couldn’t stop gawping at this 86 and its wastegate/screamer pipe setup plumbed back from a BorgWarner turbo mated to, yep you guessed it, a 2JZ-GTE in place of that measly four-pot boxer lump.

Pretty sinister styling on this BRZ. Bit of fresh air from the typical look you find these cars built with. Very meaty wheel and tyre combo, paired with the edgy semi-paint, semi-carbon bodywork. And that rear diffuser looks like its ready to tear up a rally stage.

Silvias apleny at Fitted, but one in particular was my pick of the bunch…

The S13 has a charm in factory form, that cannot be paralleled with the other S-chassis. But this modified example has got the perfekt balance between aggression and elegance. I saw this car online months, even years back, and it struck me instantly. The ‘Miyabi’ bodykit produced by Spirit Rei really does flow with the S13 body, and those incredibly colour-coordinated Work Meister M1s crammed into the wheel arches do the entire ordeal justice.

The Z33 350Z is a nice all-rounder of a Japanese sporty gran-tourer. I really do hope Nissan bring the Fairlady back into production, with the same grunt and purity as the current and previous iterations…

A “Japanese Mercedes”?…

Or would you rather have the native original?

Plenty of klassic Bimmers, this E9 3.0 CS stood out with ease. Pillarless coupes will be missed, a design feat unfortunately left in the decades long gone.

Loved every bit of this E30. So neat and tidy, but at the same time going against the grain.

Regal 190E, looking even more dapper with a two-tone paint job. Cars from the 80s are getting better and better with age.

Pleasant surprise seeing a Cayman, of all things, with Work CRs mated to its hubs! That tartan and tan interior was found in the Porsche 924 next to it by the way, I was just feelin’ that helmet matchup.

Thats all I got for you here in this episode. Bit late in the day, but atleast you got to see some of what I thought camera-worthy at Fitted 2019. The quality of standards is pretty high for a UK car show, and it obviously shows in some of the entrants. Its a nice and diverse show, which will always attract the people from all backgrounds and interests, which is a positive I guess, bringing various walks of carlife together.

Thanks for stopping by, I’ve gotta dive into the Germany stuff on the next post, but I might switch it up in and amongst those posts just to keep you on your toes, and showcase some of what I find interesting – call them spotlight features or something of that nature…

IG: @soulfokus

Castle Combe Circuit – Spring Action Day 2019

We now enter the seasons where daylight lingers, less layers are worn, and of course when nearly everybody gets their pride and joy out to get their respective motors’ rubbers and fluids warm because they have been sat stone cold in the lockup.

The car show season kicks off unofficially at Castle Combe Circuit nestled in its home village of which it is named after, located in Wiltshire, UK. This track is quite a trek for someone who lives ‘up north’ so that is probably why I have never ventured this far before, but I can honestly say I did not regret the early start that Saturday morning. With a mix of ‘show & shine’ cars sitting pretty in their club stands and vendor tents, and track-ready monsters hauling ass on the tarmac, it was kinda like a small scale Goodwood, but instead of elite-level four (and sometimes 2 or 3) -wheeled weaponry, you have normal guys and gals who cherish their cars and just want to enjoy them however they like. Saying that, a Mclaren did show up, so…

Upon entering the circuit’s premises from across the road where we parked up the Demio in a grass field, I was drawn to this R35 and its clean and sharp look. The all carbon Knight Racer rear wing compliments the back end quite tidily, and even though its probably not all that functional, I can still appreciate the uniqueness of those bowed ends.

Innocent Blue Mica. I reckon the ability of the powertrain – from the looks of that single-turbo conversion – is nothing like the innocuousness of the name Mazda gave their colour option.

A stock-bodied S15 Silvia sporting the stylish Spec-R aero kit that could easily be mistaken for an aftermarket setup, especially with the rear-wing’s extravagant design including its integrated third brake light. The late 1990’s to early 2000’s gave birth to some of the most modern and fresh looking Japanese cars, that even to this day, pushing nearly 20 years old, still remain youthful in appearance.

Questionable styling on the rear end of this FD RX7. The rest of it including the fine details such as the metal flake paint and FEED carbon door handles add to the Mazda’s already characterful presence. The Scoot ‘Viper-style’ bonnet rounds it off nicely aswell. Very 1990’s Japan feels when I spotted this.

Ahh, the LanEvo IV. These generation of rally-bred beasts always make me swoon and I put it down to two things: the aggressive look without very much sharp lines on the car, and the analogue nature of the chassis, which in fact weighs ~1260kg in RS trim, which is unheard of in the modern gizmo-filled AWD performance cars of today!

These E30 M3s do give off a cool vibe, I will have to admit, even if I am more swayed by the 190E. You could tell the owner really treasured his Evo II model, as he had the boot stuffed with detailing kit which he obviously uses well enough to make the purple body gleam when the sunlight beams off the paint.

White on white RX7 looking healthy with its Borg Warner snail sitting snug in between the engine and chassis.

Walking through the paddock area, we stumble upon a set of rough looking, but well put together drift machines, mainly Silvias and Skylines, the odd Soarer, and then one brown coloured FD sat in the corner patiently waiting to rip up the course.

The ER34 Skyline you see above is easily ranked highly in my books for best in show. Very well executed, but I find it hard to imagine making a 4-door R34 ugly to be honest.

I am consistently irritated/saddened by the lack of well-built and styled Mazda 3/Axela MPS chassis, in the UK especially. I know of a few cool looking ones overseas, but never have I ever encountered one over here that hasnt been wrapped awfully or specced with distasteful wheels/aero. The limitless potential of both generations of Mazda’s hot hatch have been suppressed, I feel.

Another highlight of the show was this early generation VW Scirocco. I love the look of headlight deletes, do you reckon new cars would look cool with this mod? I wish I got more shots of this raw beast but thats my retrospective bane in life as a photog. Shame I did not see it out on track either.

This E46 in Alpine White wowed me, which isn’t difficult when I am met by one of the best M3 models to come out of Munich. Someone is ballsy/experimental when fitting current-gen M4(?) wheels to the predecessing coupe. It surprisingly suits the car almost perfectly, going to show how timeless this BMW is.

Now this is where the action takes place. Castle Combe is actually bigger than I imagined, and lapping the grounds’ perimeter is atleast more than a couple of mile. Sessions were split into the standard ‘Run What Ya Brung’ format and drift demonstrations performed by those more familiar with track work. Its refreshing to go to a show where you can see cars in motion, thats when they come alive in a sense.
I’ll let the photos do the talking.

So, thats your lot. Making the trip down south was worth it, especially when it can get tiresome seeing some of the same cars when attending shows in the northern part of England. I suppose it also gave me some practice taking panning shots, obviously I have loads to improve on in terms of composition and tracking, but for my first time these came out better than I expected. Stay tuned for future posts and let me know in the comments what your favourite car was out of the set!

Thanks for reading if you stayed this long!

Below the Surface: Tom & Co’s Underground Unit

It was a bit miserable and rainy last Saturday, but I had been meaning to utilise my workpal’s (Tom, who might pop up in another story if and when he completes his 1st Gen Mustang Fastback) car lift in a den he shares rental with.

Long story short, I ended up doing no “work” on my car but that can be rationally excused due to the unnecessity of a 2010 Mazda 2 fuel filter change. It’s one of those inline filters and we couldn’t work out where it lived under both the car and bonnet, so I thought frig it, theres a fresh Lotus outside thats waiting to be drooled over…


This Series 2 Elise belongs to Nev, a resident (literally) of the decently sized industrial unit Tom and his mates share to store and fiddle with their cars, bikes, vans, and tractor.
I met with Nev once before, when I was running the MX5, and I think it was he who kindly donated a set of wheels for me to drive about on whilst my Buddyclub SFs went in for a desperate powder coating. He happened to be working on his El Camino on that day, but immediately got distracted when I asked if it would be cool if I shot some pics of his Lotus parked up outside under the dull sky. Kindly agreeing, he then jumped at the opportunity of whipping his own pair of compact-system cameras out and decided to join me in capturing as much of the iconic aesthetic of this 2-seat B-road-beater.
Every curve on the car is near perfect, and that is probably why this car has not aged in all those 18 years of existence. It is extreme in its nature, but the intensity of its striking demeanor is not overpowering or distasteful. In a subtle way the Elise is graceful, perhaps it is this colour that makes it so.