Ten Things We Learned This Week

Aeroplane-engined MR2s and rubbernecking screens: it’s the week’s weirdest car stories

You can fit an aircraft engine in a Toyota MR2

Keen viewers of Top Gear may remember that in series 18 Jeremy manhandled two beasts from a very different era: the aeroplane-engined BMW Brutus, and the aeroplane-engined Bentley Meteor.

The Bentley was a Twenties lookalike, fashioned from the ground up and sporting an engine straight out of a Spitfire. A Spitfire! The BMW was equally bonkers and more terrifying, being from 1925, having no brakes and a 12-cylinder, 46-litre engine at the front. They were loud, they were very fiery, and overall, bloody brilliant. 

That’s why we got excited when we heard about Marc Labranche, an engineer from Indiana, who’s squeezed a radial aircraft engine (the kind of engine that looks like a starfish twerking) into the back of an old MR2. You can check it out here.

Could this bring about a renaissance of modern day aero cars? We really hope so.

Ford is building a right-hand-drive Mustang

For the first time in the history of the earth, Ford will build a right-hand-drive Mustang. Straight from the factory and everything.

Why is this important? It means those Mustang enthusiasts who live in places like Australia, South Africa and, yes, here can drive an example of Ford’s newest pony car with the wheel on the correct side.

Ford is currently preparing this prototype RHD ‘Stang for ‘various development tests’ to make sure swapping the wheel over won’t make the car entirely fall apart. Whether or not it makes your ability to drive a really massive muscle car on British roads any better remains to be seen.

The only way to stop a driver with dementia from driving the wrong way down the motorway is to crash into them head-on

Earlier this week a 77-year-old man with dementia decided to pop out for a little drive in his Honda Jazz… the wrong way down the M6.

Making a wrong turn at J5, Rowley Regis proceeded to head south on northbound carriageway of the M6 roll road at 50mph. Concerned, the police had to take pretty serious action, sacking off the ‘light blast of the blues and twos’ and went straight for the ‘crash head-on into them’ chapter of the training book.

“Officers took the decision to make a deliberate head-on contact with the Honda to bring it to a stop,” a police spokesman told the BBC. Thankfully Rowley was not hurt and returned home to his family while an officer sustained a minor injury.

A 16-year-old boy will be allowed to drive a Formula One car next year

Meet Max Verstappen, son of Jos ‘the boss’ Verstappen, and soon-to-be full time Toro Rosso Formula One driver. Only Max is 16, turns 17 next month, and will become the youngest ever F1 driver in history when he starts next year.

If the thought of letting a teenager who can’t legally drive in his own country and was born when the Teletubbies ruled the world, behind the wheel of a carbon-fibre, turbocharged go-kart terrifies you, it needn’t. Our man Ollie Marriage raced with Max – sort of – and witnessed first hand this kid’s incredible ability.

Champions of Formula One, you have been warned…

Bugatti took a very expensive family photo

As the awesome Veyron’s production comes to an end, Bugatti decided to gather all six of the ‘Legends’ special edition range together for the first time. They even took a photo to savour the moment of all six of the special Grand Sport Vitesse – that’s the 1,200bhp 254.04mph roof down version – being in each other’s presence. Total value? A cool £10.5 million.

The Legends Series commemorates six special people who played an integral and fundamental role in shaping the company; a company whose path led to a segment on TG telly that briefly made James May a world record holder. Briefly.
You can read our dedicated history of the awesome Veyron here.


Toyota will build engines using THE SUN

Not the newspaper, but the actual, real-life, really quite hot yellow blob that our little planet orbits around. Yes, Toyota has installed some 13,000 solar panels into its North Wales engine production factory, which will provide 10 per cent of all the electricity required for manufacturing at the site.

In fact, we’re told this energy will power the factory to build up to 22,500 engines a year. It allows Toyota to reduce the site’s carbon emissions. Is this interesting? Only if this saving of energy is offset by workers POWERSLIDING the new RCF and its MASSIVE naturally-aspirated V8 at lunchtime in the carpark.

The Department for Transport has spent £2.3 million on ‘rubbernecking screens’

Don’t you hate it when you’re on the motorway and everything just grinds to a frustrating stop? You sit there for minutes – sometimes hours – crawling your way to whatever incident has happened. Then, it turns out the delay is caused by people just wanting to have a look at the problem on the other side of the carriageway.

We had this experience recently on a V12 group test when a dairy lorry overturned, dumping thousands of gallons of milk across the road. Thankfully, the Highways Agency dispatched a crack team of kittens in hi-vis jackets to lick the carriageway clean. But because everyone wanted to see a kitten in a hi-vis jacket, both carriageways were in an inch-by-inch crawl. A classic case of rubbernecking.

But, according to the Department of Transport, this is about to come to an end. To “keep the motorways flowing” it has purchased 3,000, 2.1m by 2m high privacy screens that will, apparently, stop people trying to peek a look as to what’s going on. It’ll also leave the nervous hi-vis kittens to get on with their work in peace.

But would they stop you rubbernecking? Or will it slow you down even more as you try to peep a look through the holes in the fence? Let us know below.

Eau Rouge has always been epic

Each year the FIA enforces a four-week holiday on the F1 circus. This gives Adrian Newey enough time to make his yearly pilgrimage to Faliraki, Kimi Räikkönen to go to the pub and Lewis Hamilton to catch up on TOWIE.

But this weekend the season continues, and at one of the most legendary circuits on the calendar: Spa-Francorchamps.

Aside from serving excellent chips with mayonnaise, Spa’s known primarily for one sphincter-puckering corner: Eau Rouge. The 180+mph corner has provided some amazing action over the years, a lot of which has been captured in this masterful montage of twenty onboard videos of Eau Rouge from one of Formula One’s most famous corner from 1991 to 2013.

We’ve got men on the ground at the track this weekend, so pop back over the weekend to keep up on what’s going on.

Lots of money was spent at Pebble Beach

Each year, a selection of red-trouser-wearing car enthusiasts head to a playground peninsula of California. On this peninsula lies Pebble Beach, a golf course that, for one weekend a year, transforms its 18th hole into the most prodigiously exclusive concourse competition and car auction in the world.

It’s a place where you can wander between $26m Ferraris and rub shoulders with the rich and famous. And this year we were there, reporting back each time the hammer dropped or someone chocked on their champagne when they found out that a Ferrari GTO sold for £22,687,500 – £13 million less than was expected. Bargain!

Check out some of the stories from the event below;

Ferrari 250 GTO sells for £23m

Pebble Beach: the good, the bad and the pricey

Has Pebble Beach jumped the shark? 

The best way to survive a bike crash is by doing a perfect somersault

Earlier this week we showed you footage of an unassuming car playing house music waaaay too loud as it cruises down the motorway. Then, as the electro beat builds to the point of climax… BAM! A speeding biker goes for a gap that’s being filled by a car changing lanes, the bike rear-ends the car, vaulting the biker into the air like a leathery rag doll.

However, as you’ll see, it doesn’t end as you’d imagine. Click here to see what happens. And if you’ve already seen it, it’s worth another watch. Then show your mates.

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