The Weekend Supplement: 18th May 2013

Hello and welcome to the second edition of PetrolBlog’s Weekend Supplement. Last week’s premiere of the new feature seemed to go down pretty well, so buoyed by the enthusiastic reception, we thought we’d roll it out again.

This week we’re coming to you from beautiful Tuscany in Italy where we’re about to fly home following a glorious couple of days. Yesterday we attended the International Mini Meeting at the Mugello Circuit, but that wasn’t before an epic 400-mile drive from Munich to Tuscany via Lake Garda in a MINI Cooper S and MINI John Cooper Works Clubman. It’s fair to say we’ve had worse days – full write-up of the trip and the Mini event coming up next week on PetrolBlog.

We’ve also been out in Sicily testing the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, which means PBHQ has been empty since Tuesday night. Just hoping the squatters haven’t moved in.

But anyway, enough of the waffle. Grab your weekend breakfast and enjoy – read tolerate – this week’s Weekend Supplement.

The world’s favourite airline livery?

Alitalia liveryWe’ve been in Italy an awful lot this week which, aside from the mammoth drive on Friday, has meant an awful lot of flying on Alitalia aircraft. The question is – as far as petrolheads are concerned – is Alitalia the most evocative airline livery in the world?

Seeing the red, white and green colours should ultimately bring to mind images of Italy, but as far as PetrolBlog is concerned it’s all about the legendary 1970s rally car – the Lancia Stratos HF.

Which therefore makes Alitalia officially the coolest airline on the planet. Italian airports simply have a whiff of Lancia – the essence of Stratos. Would make for a pungent retro-style aftershave.

Is the Alitalia-sponsored Lancia Stratos the greatest race-car sponsorship of all time? Marlboro-McLaren would run it close, as would JPS-Team Lotus and Rothmans-Porsche, with Gulf Racing and Martini Racing also warranting a mention.

Lancia Stratos HF with Alitalia livery

It’s interesting to note that the most evocative race-car liveries of all time seem to be those associated with cigarettes and alcohol. But with tobacco sponsorship now banned from Formula 1 and teams now sponsored by energy drinks firms and tech companies we’ve never heard of, have we seen the best of the race-car liveries? Or is it just a case of nostalgia creeping in – a rose-tinted view of motorsport from our youth?

What’s the best livery of all time? Answers on a postcard, usual address, etc, etc.

The Power of F1 Dreams

McLaren Honda at the 1992 Canadian Grand Prix

This week Honda announced that in 2015 it will be returning to Formula 1 to be reunited with McLaren. The team will be known quite simply as McLaren Honda.

This is indeed very good news. Not least because it allows PetrolBlog the opportunity to show this wonderful photo from the 1990s. Honda, it’s good to have you back – Formula 1 feels empty without you.

Now do the honourable thing and ensure this partnership is used to good effect on your road cars. We want the Civic Type-R and NSX to be brilliant and for you to build a Type-R version of the rather wonderful looking Civic Tourer please. Thank you.

The last and lost Mini of Longbridge

There’s been an awful lot of coverage surrounding the news that the Mini 1275 GT found under the tunnels of Longbridge is about to be auctioned. You can read the story on Keith Adams‘ excellent AROnline site, but to cut a long story very short, a Mini was used as a pool car at Longbridge, a canister fell on its roof, the Mini was hidden away, many years later it was rediscovered, Mini was recovered, the end.

Or not quite – as it’s now going be sold to the highest bidder. Debate rages as to how much it will go for and indeed whether or not it’s actually that important at all.

The last, lost Mini of Longbridge

But the wider discussion focused on whether or not it should be restored. Is this 1275 GT that was destined to spend an eternity stuck underneath the West Midlands now destined for greatness once again?

PetrolBlog reckons it should be left well alone. The backstory will be all the more richer if the Mini is retained in its current condition. They’ve already removed some of its intrigue by hammering-out the canister-shaped dent in the roof. No, the Mini should remain unrestored – a poignant reminder Britain’s automotive past and a warning to anyone thinking about hooning around a factory floor this weekend. Cars and canisters don’t mix and you may not have a tunnel in which to hide your little misdemeanour.

Weekend Want: Oltcit 1100R

What do you get if you combine the Romanian province of Oltenia with Citroën? The answer is Oltcit – a short-lived collaboration between the Romanian government and Citroën which allowed the French carmaker to produce cars in Romania and sell cars in Eastern Europe. Citroën got a new market in which to sell cars and Romania kind of inherited its very own ready-made car industry.

The Romanian government took the majority share in Oltcit and insisted that 40% of components needed to be sourced in Romania. A factory was built but by the time full-scale production got underway in 1983, it was already three years behind schedule. Hardly the best of starts.

The car they produced was the Oltcit – known as the Citroën Axel in parts of Western Europe. It wasn’t one of Citroën’s greatest hours. The delay in getting to production meant that it was already out-dated by the time it went on sale and it wasn’t exactly built to the highest of standards.

Oltcit 1100R for sale

This doesn’t stop PetrolBlog fancying this Oltcit 1100R though. It’s powered by the same 1.3-litre engine found in the Citroën GSA and despite appearances it doesn’t share any components with the Citroën Visa.

It was never sold in the UK, with the Netherlands being the closest it ever got to these shores. So it’s a bit of rarity. If you fancy it you will need to get used to informing people that no, it’s not a Citroën Visa and then explaining to them what it really is. Which should make you a hit at dinner parties.

Next week on PetrolBlog

Next week sees the delivery of a Volvo S60 Polestar to PBHQ and a decision on the fate of the Citroën AX GT.

There’s also the aforementioned review of the Mini meeting, plus a report on the drive through Europe, an Eastern Bloc oddity, a couple of new car reviews and a whole heap of waffle and bunk.

Enjoy your grapefruit juice and Cheerios.

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ABOUT AUTHOR
Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

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