PetrolBlog takes a look at Spencer Haze, one of James Ruppert's more curious inventions. Still, makes a change from £500 bangers.
I'll start with a quote...
Every day was the same for Spencer Haze, because every day was August 29th 1973. First he drove to an abandoned abattoir in London's Docklands, parked up and waited for something or someone...
This is the opening and closing paragraph from a book that marks the rebirth of Spencer Haze, one of James Ruppert's more curious diversions in the motoring world. Most of us will know James for being the Godfather of the banger, the Grandaddy of motoring on the cheap. But in Spencer Haze, we also discover that James is also quite mad. And that's a good thing. No really, it is.
Most of you will remember the excellent 4Car website that was launched in 2000. At the time it was one of the best news and review sites on the ‘net and was often my first port of call for well informed and unbiased opinions. I, like many others, was rather sad when it was forced to close in 2009.
4Car was also home to Spencer Haze, a private eye from 1973 who, when on the verge of uncovering a major conspiracy, was left for dead in a deep freeze in London's Docklands. Having been taken out by an animal tranquiliser, Spencer spent the next 27 years with only frozen peas for company, before being discovered by a group of thugs up to no good.
The confusion surrounding waking up nearly three decades later could be enough to make most people reach for the tranquiliser again, but instead Spencer goes on a mission to find out what happened to him and who tried to kill him.
What follows is the story of Spencer's journey as he first travels to his former home where he starts to piece his life together again. It's an altogether retro experience, that's best read with the soundtrack of The Sweeney and Minder playing in the background. It isn't long before the leading lady Saffron is parading around in just her black bra and undies and Spencer is laying a few punches on some nasty villains. You can almost hear the ooofs, wallops and whacks through your computer.
If this all sounds a bit Life on Mars, then it will come as no surprise to discover that James Ruppert pitched the Spencer Haze idea to television companies long before Sam Tyler and Gene Hunt hit our screens. Needless to say James was none too pleased when Life on Mars turned up and was quick to make this known to the BBC. Sadly for James, nothing came of it and Spencer was literally left out in the cold until 2012.
Today you can buy a copy of the Spencer Haze book for just £1.97 and in a time when you'll buy a smartphone app for a similar price, only to delete it when you discover it's a bit rubbish, this seems like great value. Of most interest are the countless sketches of cars that show just how well James can draw. Less successful are his drawings of people who have more than a little resemblance to characters from Beavis and Butt-head. Curiously though, James seems quite adept at sketching a blonde wearing nothing but black underwear...
If you're a petrolhead and fancy reading something a little different, then head across to www.spencerhaze.com to order your copy. Actually scrub that, if you fancy something very different, head to the website. It's quite unlike anything else you'll buy off the web and James has clearly spent many hours labouring over the drawings. Not to mention the storyline which holds together very well.
In fact, I'd like to see it turned into a mini series. Can I put myself forward for a part please, James? I quite fancy a go in a Jensen Intercepter.
Splash on the Brut, grab yourself a Babycham and tell your bird to shut it. Spencer Haze is in town and he's hungry.
Spencer Haze is available online only and is priced at £1.97. Order your copy here.