• Going under the hood of UK Drivers

    For most of us, if not us all, our vehicles are central parts in the motors of our everyday lives. We drive to work and home at night, to get into town or otherwise away from the hectic rhythm of city living.

    Given their significance, it’s striking how little we know in general about fixing, repairing and maintaining our cars, which Halfords has quantified the extent of in a recent series of graphics titled the Car Maintenance Survey.

    There’s a spread of insights here that surprised and concerned us, but we’ve picked out five that we think are the most important and have given a little explanation why underneath!

    This one left us a little taken aback (no doubt as taken aback as the 16% of 25-35 year olds will be when they learn that it’s under the bonnet, like pretty much everything else). However, the knowledge gap we can sympathise with, to a (fairly limited) point; people leave everything for the mechanic to deal with. It’s more disconcerting, though, that this 16% of people are ones we share the road with!

    Driving with a chipped windscreen is not just a motoring offence; it puts everyone in the car at serious risk of harm from objects like stones dashing from the road at high speeds. Moreover, a small chip grows into a fully shattered pane at an incredible pace. In the event of a crash, a windscreen break can have lethal consequences; the airbag, for instance, may expand outwards through the broken screen, rather than forward towards the people inside, providing an absolutely insufficient protection in so doing.

    Again, some of the data that Halfords has gathered is mindboggling. You’re a serious risk on the roads when driving without adequate visibility, more to other people than yourself. It’s a selfish, reckless move and really surprising that it’s something that one in four people would choose to do, particularly, of all places, in London.

    There are pretty standard tests you can use to ensure that your tyres remain in fine, working stead. Halfords have compiled a nifty guide that anyone with any uncertainties should check out!

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  • RAREST OF THE RARE: ‘57 CORVETTE SUPER SPORT!

    One of the rarest factory-built Corvettes ever built can be seen for the first time in 60 years at the Amelia Island Concours next month.

    The ‘57 Corvette Super Sport prototype originally built for GM’s famous Motorama shows of the 1950s will, after six decades hidden from view, break cover in a special exhibit at the 22nd annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance on March 12, 2017. After its auto show duties, it was sold to Ralph Poole of Albuquerque, NM. The current owner, John Baldwin purchased the car in 1996.

    “We’ve been working on the SS for the last few weeks and have it running nicely for the first time since the 1950s,” said owner John Baldwin.

    Actually a 1956 model, the Corvette was customized by the Chevrolet studio at GM Design and “updated” with a one-off 1957 Vin # tag. It was used to showcase the first fuel-injected Corvette engine, which debuted in 1957 models. This special Corvette debuted at the January 1957 New York Waldorf Astoria Auto Show (there was no Motorama show in 1957) and the Chicago Auto Show, but has not been seen by the public for the past 60 years. Power for this unique prototype comes from a fuel-injected 283/283 small-block mated to a close ratio three-speed transmission.

    “This unique Corvette is practically unknown,” said Bill Warner, founder and Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. “It was the cover car for the June, 1957 issue of Speed Age magazine and then it disappeared. It’s been hidden for its entire life. For it to be at Amelia is the sort of thing we dream of.”

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  • Just Where Are The Best Deals on Wheels?

    When looking to buy a car there is certainly no shortage of choice. The UK has over 4,900 franchised dealers plus many more generalists. Car auctions, internet sites and private ads offer even more options but this still leaves many buyers wondering just where is the best place to get a really good deal.

    For most people, a car is likely to be the second most expensive single item that they will ever buy and so it is important to get it right. There is certainly plenty of choice and if you are looking to buy a used car in the London area, it is possible to find almost every conceivable make and model within a radius of a few miles. The first decision is whether to buy new or second-hand. New car sales are booming, fuelled largely by some of the new methods of financing them such as personal contract plans and leasing as new recruits to the world of motoring consider car ownership very much along the same lines as mobile phone contracts with a continuous monthly charge and regular upgrades being the order of the day. The canny buyer, however, realises that such a throw-away mentality results in some great cars appearing on the second-hand market and it usually means that the first owner has paid dearly for the privilege of new car ownership or lease. A car’s value depends on several things but one of the most predictable is its age and the depreciation curve is invariably steeper in its early days.

    By steering clear of the lure of new cars, a buyer may suddenly realise that his budget will now stretch to a much better specified car. Most car purchases involve the heart more than the head and even our London buyer may fancifully visualise cruising along deserted country roads with the roof down whereas, in reality, a nose-to-tail daily commute is probably much more likely with emission levels and congestion charges figuring highly in any car buying decision.

    There are undoubtedly some great bargains to be found but the risks should not be underestimated. Perhaps the ideal car could be almost new or fairly young, low mileage, well maintained and with a known history. An ex-demonstrator from a franchised dealer or an ex-lease car could probably fit the bill and some of those previously used by disabled people under the Motability leasing scheme can often be exceptionally good but the range of vehicles on offer may be rather limited. Buying ex-fleet vehicles is another option to be considered but some of these may have covered high mileages and a used taxi or minibus is certainly not to be recommended.

    Another interesting idea is to check what vehicles are available from car rental companies such as those offered under the Hertz Rent2Buy scheme. The idea that ex-rental cars have been roughly treated by uncaring drivers is simply not borne out by the facts and there are some real gems to be found. Hertz even allow for an extended test drive in the form of rental for a few days so there should be no unpleasant surprises here!

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