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Octane March 2020

Octane is a premium monthly magazine celebrating over 100 years of automotive design, from classic Bentleys to the latest BMW. We have been at the heart of the motoring industry for seventeen years, so we know our stuff when it comes to classic cars. Written by enthusiasts for enthusiasts, the magazine captures the exclusivity and excitement of the classic car world so you can experience it all wherever you are.

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United Kingdom
Autovia Limited
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12 Issues

in this issue

2 min
a very english hot rod

A modsports sAloon before its time, this radical lightweight was created in 1960 by RAF officer Michael Forrest. It’s dripping with ingenuity: the engine is used as a stressed member to stiffen the chassis and the steering box is mounted centrally between the track rods, eliminating the drag link. The body, flush-glazed in Perspex, is chopped and sectioned so the roof is almost 2ft lower than it was in 1932, and the steering column is almost horizontal. It has never been on a weighbridge but it feels lighter than a Caterham to push. It’s got ‘impecunious men in sheds’ running all the way through it – except that it sports expensive cast-alloy Speedex wheels and a Speedex bucket seat, and Forrest used to tow it to events behind a Rolls-Royce 20hp. Long-time…

2 min
rover runs jet 1, the first gas turbine car

Most of the modern cars we now own are piston-engined. Some, increasingly, are hybrid, fully electric, maybe even fuelled by hydrogen. But back in the late 1940s the British Rover car company thought there might be a different way to propel the family car of the future: with a jet engine. Rover, a rather staid and predictable manufacturer of cars for the middle classes, made quality saloons that bank managers would aspire to own but not to covet. It’s remarkable, then, that in ravaged post-war Britain this carmaker decided to change not only how people perceived its own image but the whole idea of car ownership. During World War Two, many car manufacturers stopped producing vehicles for domestic use and turned to war production. Rover was no exception, and its resources were…

2 min
chris mitchell

1. Racer Robin Sturgess took me on in 1962 when he opened a motor accessory shop in Leicester, and RSA Factors grew to 35 staff and two huge depots. The very first thing we launched was James Bond bullet hole transfers; they were a massive success, largely thanks to the News of the World condemning them as irresponsible! 2. In 1977, I set up Mitchell Marketing and took on Hammerite and Waxoyl for Finnigan’s. We changed everything and sales rocketed from half-a-million to seven million. I expanded into things like the Backflash – split red lettering that went in the back window, which was popular in the 1980s. It cost 77p to make and we set the retail at £7.99: that alone put both my daughters through boarding school. 3. I later…

2 min
decisions, decisions

Beatles versus stones, Bjorg against McEnroe, Senna or Prost: every sphere seems to have its premier league of eternal rivalries that take competition to a new level. In the world of classic cars there are loads, ranging from Midget and Spitfire to 250 GT SWB or DB4 GTZ, but pre-eminent among all battles is 911 versus E-type. There is no denying that they top the aspiration list for an astonishing number of people, and have long done so. I find that especially interesting because, while they are clearly both brilliant and iconic, other than that they actually have very little in common in ethos, tech or appearance. Perhaps the appeal is the breadth of model options, and, of course, the commensurate price variation. Running from substantially less than £50k (I know…

1 min
cliff hall 1926-2020

on tHe one Hand Cliff Hall was a society photographer and socialite, on the other he was someone deeply concerned about social injustice and racial inequality in Los Angeles. So much so that he came up with the answer to all LA’s problems: a sports car of his own design that would be ‘made by black hands in the black community’. That way the car would provide jobs and incomes for some of the most deprived communities in California, as well as an end product that would put that community on an equal standing mobility-wise with wealthier inhabitants of LA. With $100,000 of backing from businessman Louis Corwin, Hall used the money to build a pioneering small mid-engined wedge called the Corwin Getaway. It appeared at the LA Auto Show…

2 min
bike to basics

Why do usblokes hang onto stuff, even when we never intend using it again? I’ve had an old Freddie Grubb race-bike frame hanging on the wall of the farm workshop for decades. It dates from the ’60s and I’d bought it from an old family friend for £10 when I was 13. My first proper bike, it had five gears, racing wheels with quick-release hubs, a Brooks saddle that nearly ended my breeding potential even before I’d got started, and a frame painted a strange but appealing green hue. Its arrival triggered a short but frantic period in my life competing in 10- and 25-mile time trials in the under-16 class, with the odd Welsh hillclimb thrown in as well. I soon upgraded to an RJ Quinn bike frame for racing…