Last week I was present at the launch of the new Bond in Motion exhibition at the Beaulieu National Motor Museum. It was a lavish affair, complete with champagne, celebrities and people who were generally dressed in much smarter clothes than I. Almost immediately I was greeted by the sight of Britt Ekland sprawled across the bonnet of an Aston Martin. Then, within a matter of minutes, I caught sight of Esther Rantzen, Colin Salmond and Eunice Gayson. I don't recall Esther Rantzen ever being a Bond girl. Maybe she was in the concept film, Live and That's Life?
Once the tour of the Bond vehicles was complete, I did my customary wander around the car park. You may remember that I spent a quite delightful couple of hours looking around the car park at the Goodwood Festival of Speed?
Truth be told, there weren't as many delights to be found at Beaulieu, but considering the number of cars there, the proportion of interesting motors was probably just as high. These are the pick of PetrolBlog.
Peugeot 106 XSI
When was the last time you saw an original and unmodified Peugeot 106 XSI? I bet you can't remember. Which is why it was such a joy to see such a lovely example at Beaulieu. According to How Many Left?, there are only 332 on the road, with a further 257 classed as SORN. Only 332 on the road?! How many of those are as beautifully untouched as this one is anyone's guess, but it's quite telling that barely a decade ago, there were over 3.5k left in the UK. A rapid decline of a car that is now firmly on PetrolBlog's radar for 2012. Oh and just check out those yellow fogs. Win!
Subaru Tribeca B9
I've never, ever seen a Subaru Tribeca in the wild and quite frankly I'm not sure I'd be in a rush to see another one. Judging by the number plates, it looks like this particular car is owned by the Beaulieu Estate. They can keep it. Still, it's a rare beast and has to be worth at least 100 points in your I-Spy book of car spotting.
Ah, this is more like it. An Isle of Wight registered E28 BMW that looks well used and rather lovely. Amazingly, according to How Many Left?, there were 4k of these on the road in the year 2000. Now the number is less than 250. It's therefore good to see an E28 that's being kept alive. It's always been my favourite BMW and it made me hanker for my old M535i. If you own this BMW, please step forward and show yourself. I'll buy you a pint.
This was the first car I noticed as I drove into the car park. Through the powers of twitter, I discovered that it is owned by none other than esteemed journalist, Richard Gunn. It's a great shame that the film producers never had the foresight to use an Allegro as one of the Bond cars. In my book, it's one of the greatest missed opportunities of all time.
Looking more like a car for a Bond villain than the kind of car 007 would drive himself, the Camaro certainly stood out in the car park.
Volvo S70 T5
A mid-90s Volvo saloon is a car that only a petrolhead will appreciate. The S70 T5 is a fantastic wolf in sheep's clothing, with a glorious 5-cylinder turbocharged engine that develops 236bhp. What's more, it will sprint to 60mph in just 6.4 seconds and go on to a top speed of 150mph. It's the thinking man's BMW M3, albeit less focused and slightly less sharp than its German rival. This particular example was in wonderful condition and a credit to its owner. It's never been a particularly common car, with numbers peaking at just 834 in the year 2000. But it's interesting to note that there are only 353 left on the road today. Like the 106 XSI above, this is a car that is now firmly on the radar for 2012. As folk might say on twitter - '#WANT!'.
Effortlessly cool. Enough said.
A Bentley is hardly PetrolBlog fodder, but a stuntman with the number plate F411 GUY gets some respect.
Look out for PetrolBlog reporting from a car park near you soon. We're also available to hire for weddings, birthdays, Bar Mitzvahs...