So we're now transporting ourselves back to around March 2021, sorta due to a fault of my own, but also not. Straight from having the STK camshaft fitted at Delarey Racing Developments, Juliette went for the absolute coolest makeover EVAR! It turns out that there's been quite a few people following the transformation of our owned-since-new Corsa sedan into a little more than your average streetcar. Over the years I've been happy to sit on the sidelines and document everyone else's action on track, or hot cars at a park-off, but something changed and I want to be on the other side of the camera every now and then. I think I'll have to blame Wikus from Delarey Racing Developments though, that session around VKC driving #Caddy96 left quite the impression...
So back on track... A mate of mine, Wayne Bull, told me that the chap who does his car's bodywork was keen help out in my mission and offered to do some work on my car. Now the last time this happened it was a 6-month nightmare, but this wasn't any ordinary body shop. The offer of help came from Frederick Hattingh, the main man and one of the amazing team behind the FIAD Dent Removal Gauteng shop. If you haven't directly heard of them, I'm willing to bet big amounts that you do know of their work...
As you can imagine, I was quite surprised, and in a bit of disbelief because, well, just look as what these guys do! I went through to Fiad Dent to meet Frederick and discuss what would be done. Firstly - and this is something everyone can attest to not just guys like me getting amazing help - Frederick is a brilliant chap with a great eye for the right mods in the right places. You know those people that always put in a little extra, not to make people happy, but because it's just who they are. That's him.
So anyway, back to Juliette. She's a 1.4i CD, and so while the bumpers were colour-coded, the wing mirrors and beadings were left in black. All I wanted done on the looks side was have them colour-coded white, along with the set of Corsa GSi side skirts that I was gifted by Big Boss Auto a while back that needed fitting too. I was gifted a set of race seats by Dylan Huber from Huber Motorsport (thanks so much man!) that he removed from his race SEAT when he upgraded, and so I asked Frederick if he could help fit them, along with a steering wheel my wife bought me and some DRD race pedals given to me by Wikus. Frederick said he had a few little things he'd like to do to the car too, so I gave him free rein on that one. Plans sorted...
TWO WEEKS LATER...
Daaaaaaaaaaamn! So like I said, Frederick went over and above and then some. The man got EVERYTHING right and Juliette was looking absolutely brilliant, all bias aside. I couldn't believe the amount of changes to the car, properly thought out, tasteful changes. I mean yeah, I knew the work would be proper but I wasn't ready for so many cool things. I mean she was in decent condition for her age, but now she's one good looking lil' sedan. Check out these changes!
As you can see, I received a whole lot more than I thought I would, and I'm super happy with everything done. It's like having a brand new car again, which is the best feeling ever. Every single drive makes me feel like a 20-year old again. I cannot thank Frederick and the Fiad Dent crew enough for this, the same goes to their suppliers who came on board to sponsor the tinting and signage things. You guys all rock so much! As you can see, the work is great, and these guys work on so many cars in the show and race scene that you should absolutely trust them with your car, no matter what it is that you need or want done.
Just look at this!!!!
As I was about to leave, Frederick spotted summin' on the side skirt that he wasn't happy with and wanted me to bring the car back so he could sort it. That hasn't happened yet, because in between this awesome upgrade you see here from around March and now, I managed to pretty much wreck the Corsa's engine doing some "preventative maintenance" that did the exact opposite of what I had intended. More on that in a separate post coming soon...
During Lockdown I decided that the family Opel Corsa sedan that my wife gave me needed to be more than just a runaround and so I started planning things to make her as reliable as new along with a wee bit more power. The end result is to be a weekend toy that I can put on the various short tracks I shoot so that I can also have a bit of fun. After 20 years of shooting things, I want some hands-on action in my old age. I'd been posting various updates on what I've replaced on the Corsa on my social media pages and a bunch of awesome friends and companies took notice and offered their services to make the task easier for me. Simon Johnstone from STK Performance got wind of my shenanigans and without a word sent me a 270-degree STK camshaft with an SQP vernier pulley to help with the engine side of the plans. You can imagine the look on my face when the courier arrived. That was in November last year. I then asked Wikus Dippenaar from Delarey Racing Developments if he'd be keen to help fit the camshaft, and in typical Wikus fashion, he was happy to come on board to do the install. This man helps so many people in the industry that he actually deserves an award. Over and above having a fully equipped workshop and access to the every tool and machine available, DRD is run out of Goldwagen Delarey so any little parts needed for the Corsa would be immediately on hand to make the job run smooth.
Personally, the only car I've done any serious kind of mechanical work on has been a Mk1 Golf, and with DRD/Goldwagen being centred mainly on all things Volkswagen, it was pretty much the same for Wikus and Cheandre. With the patient in theatre being an Opel Corsa, I figured it would be just as easy, I mean it's also a small budget car, right? Wrong! While I love this little Corsa, it's small 1.4-litre engine is rather overcomplicated, especially when compared to a Mk1 lump. This extended the task of a few hours into an overnighter, well it technically was done in less than a day, but we left the final start up until the following morning just in case.
Fitting a camshaft on a Mk1 is simple, you make sure you're on TDC and then simply loosen the tensioner pulley, remove the cam belt, remove the cam cover, remove the camshaft caps and remove the camshaft. Then you do it all in reverse but add in a new camshaft and Robert's your mother's brother - you have successfully "dropped in a cam". On the Corsa there's not a normal cylinder head, it's a 2-piece setup that sees the camshaft located in a separate section to the cylinder head - a cam box. We located the only bolts there are to remove this cam box, and it turns out that the Corsa's cam box bolts are also the cylinder head bolts, turning the simple job into some pretty advanced mechanics - well for me anyway. So be warned if you're fitting a camshaft to one of the older generation Opel motors, you will also need a full head gasket kit to get the job done, an extra expense many aren't aware of or ready for, never mind the skills and tools needed.
In adding to the new gaskets you'll need to replace all fluids in the engine too because they all sort of fall out when you lift the cylinder head off. With so many parts stripped away, it's also a good idea to try and replace as many worn components as are available and that you can afford to make sure you take full advantage of an unplanned engine teardown.
With the cam box cover removed, you can see how the camshaft runs through the centre of the cam box. If you could easily remove the front right fender you could do the job with the cylinder head in place, but seeing as cars aren't quite modular like that, it's not an option. When the cam box is removed after taking out the cylinder head bolts, you're greeted with the bare rockers resting on the valve springs, but once you're this far the cylinder head is freed from the sub assembly, and it pretty much has to be pulled completely off because a 200k-km deep gasket just ain't going back in. This was an opportunity to give the head a once over, especially after completing over 210 000km it was kinda necessary. There was a wee bit of carbon build up, likely built up during the car's slow days when the kid drove it. Seriously, Miss Daisy would fire him for taking too long to get to the shops. The rockers and hydraulic lifters all looked brand new, no wear marks anywhere - and as we were to later discover, the camshaft was perfect too. Impressive really.
With the cam box off, the camshaft slides out of the belt end and the new one slides straight back in. It does need to be lubed up thanks to the tight tolerance where sections of the shaft and the cam box work together basically as a bearing of sorts. Wikus is highly-skilled at guiding the big shaft into the tight hole though. Once it's all the way in, a camshaft seal is popped on the belt end to make sure the oil stays where it should be.
After that, the cam needs to be rotated to match the block - being in set at top dead centre - so when you bolt it down tight you have the right lobes pushing the right valves open for the correct firing order. This was where Wikus's brain came in again, it's 100% something I would have cocked up properly, even if I was given drawn instructions. Cheandre, the other hands-on DRD crew member who's yet another top chap, cleaned the carboned up pistons with a drill wire brush and compressed air and stuff, and a close inspection showed perfect pistons and rings with zero play and the cylinder bore had no scarring. Super awesome, especially for the mileage. While the head was off, the same thing was done to the valves and combustion chambers. Even the valve stem seals were perfect, which makes me wonder how some smoking cars out there have been driven in their lives. Everything ended up looking brand new again, which makes me smile. Using a very technical-looking feeler gauge thingymajig Wikus found the EXACT top dead centre to the micro-millimetre and after a new head gasket was laid down, the head was put back on with the timing kept at TDC all round. A little care must be taken here because the rockers and their guides simply rest on top of the valve springs so you have to line things up properly, but the lube stuff used was thick and did the job.
With the head bolted down and torqued to the OEM settings - a mind-boggling process, the bits around needed to be reassembled. A new set of cam belt-side plastics was fitted before the vernier pulley went back on. With the point of the pulley being adjustable and the point of the plastic cover to protect the belt, a plan had to be made. As I said, DRD/Goldwagen has everything you need, and so the outer cover was popped into the laser cutter and a circle with a slightly larger diameter as the pulley was perfectly cut out in seconds. With the modified cover in place I now have easy access to change the timing on the pulley while the belts stay protected from anything that may flick up from the road. That's part of why I LOVE visiting this workshop, it's like being in one of those professional garage build YouTube series, there's no such thing as 'can't' there. During the assembly, a bunch of small old parts and pipes and nuts and bolts that looked a little suspect were replaced, including a new water pump. The old one worked fine, but it looked like rust was about to have a proper lunch on it and seeing as everything was open... A new cam belt tensioner went in along with a new belt and oil filter. The blue plug wires and blue air filter were cool finishing touch to match the blue of the vernier pulley. Wikus and Cheandre also sorted out an induction pipe from the bumper to the air filter giving the 1400 a cool lil' growl. So damn cool!
With everything replaced, assembled and sorted out, the Corsa's engine bay is looking just too cool and it feels great to know that it's also mechanically good again to last many more years to come, well as long as we have dead dinosaurs to feed her I guess. A completely unexpected side effect of "dropping a cam in" but I'm also grateful that there are places like Goldwagen Delarey that still carry everything you need to keep a classic Corsa safely and reliably on the road at an affordable price. Like seriously, the wing mirrors aren't available from Opel SA/GM or whoever owns them now, but the list price for a right hand side mirror is well in excess of R6000. SIX THOUSAND RAND. At Goldwaen Delarey? You're looking at under R400. So yeah, Goldwagen FTMFW!
I want to send a huge shoutout to the Goldwagen Delarey and Delarey Racing Developments crew for all the help during this feature. So very much appreciated guys 🙏🏼. Another huge thanks to Simon Johnstone at STK for sending me the camshaft and pulley - you rock man!
So what's it like having a 270-degree STK camshaft in a 1.4i Corsa? Flippin' rad man! I do love me a small capacity motor, and having one that revs up smooth and fast makes me drive like a little bit of a chop. Thanks to the full custom-built exhaust from TMSS Motorsport the little sedan has that much-loved burble only a good system and cam can make. Now you have to remember that a camshaft doesn't increase power by leaps and bounds, but with the valves staying open a little longer and lifting a little higher, there is a definitely a difference. The vernier pulley allows you to move the new power curve around the rev range so that you can set up the car and the power delivery to suit your driving style and needs.
After the cam fitment, the car drove great for a few days, but the ECU finally caught on and threw a hissy fit. I got some new generic and also some 2nd-hand OEM sensors and things stayed the same. Only after a bit more research did I discover that the only way to sort out the idling and timing on a Corsa is by fitting a piggyback chip. I did manage to find a cool balance when I set the vernier pulley advanced, everything works great but the MIL stays on. It doesn't bug me but it's not right so I will sort it out. Just after I got it running great, I managed a dyno run at DynoSport for shits & giggles and the result was 51.9kW and 89Nm.
Luckily when I mentioned that the solution would be the fitment of a Unichip in a social media update, Opel brain and all round good guy Tristan Palmer contacted me and donated his UniChip Q from his old 2.0 8-valve Corsa. Fitment and tuning of the chip will hopefully follow on in a not too distant update as soon as I have the spare funds. Until then, keep an eye out for the next update that saw the Corsa getting a visual makeover, not that she wasn't a neat lil thing already...
When I was at the instruction day at the Jaguar Land Rover Experience Centre I saw my very first new Defender in the wild, and it has that new retro flavour to it - or in other words, it's awesome! I had to have a few snaps for myself and when my instruction session was over and before the day's second session, I had the chance. The super hot Defender P400 S was parked on a paved road under a tree, and when I said I wanted some pics they offered to move the car for me, but I decided to do something I used to do long ago to practice working with what you've got. I told them the Defender was parked just right and I'd shoot around the car. So the challenge to myself when I do this is to get as many interesting shots as possible working with angles and the surrounding elements with no real control over the light, jus adapting to it. It makes you think and encourages thinking outside of the box, well for me anyway. The first two images are just to show where the Defender was parked and what I had to work with. I used my Canon 6D Mk2 with a Sigma Art 24-70mm f/2.8 and a Canon 70-200mm F/4.0.
I took loads of shots, which I'll upload to the CWM Facebook page when I have a chance, but in the meantime here's some selections that I liked. Have you ever done exercises like this? What have you done? Let me know your thoughts.
One thing I often end up being is The Stand-In Guy, and that's not a complaint in any way at all. Over the years it's seen me attending some pretty amazing events, and this time round was no different when one of the SAGMJ members couldn't make it to a training session at the Jaguar Land Rover Experience Centre in Lonehill, and I could... I knew things were being upgraded at the venue, and I haven't been past in a few years so wasn't expecting what I saw - a state-of-the-art facility that has everything you could need or want to teach proper driving both on and off road. There's also a brilliant restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch, and plenty room for training and conferences and the like. There's also a merchandise shop, racing simulators and some really amazing models and displays. The new Defender on steelies is just too cool, as is the half an E-Pace.
The order of the day was to drive a variety of Jaguar models (XE, XF, F-Type, F-Pace SVR and the E-Pace) as part of the Jaguar Half Day Dynamic course while learning about braking, handling and the effects of both active and passive safety systems in simulated emergency situations. After a briefing with Devin Scott, one of the Experience Instructors, we headed out to put the theory into practice, in other words, the fun part of the day. The emergency brake / lane change manoeuvre can be quite intimidating for those that haven't experienced it. You do end up putting a fair amount of trust into the car (and your own abilities), but if done right it can be a life-saving move on the roads out there. We also put the handling to test on a slalom course which thanks to the variety of cars, showed the differences in the dynamics of SUVs vs sedans, all-wheel drive vs rear-wheel drive and even combustion vs electric - something we're going to all need to learn about soon. On that note electric vehicles are just mad man, the Jaguar I-Pace has a ridiculously fast pull off and surprisingly decent handling thanks to the weight of the batteries being low down in the chassis. Feeling this and knowing how these cars react is a must for anyone who will ever climb behind the wheel of an EV. They're deceptively powerful, silent and they're patiently waiting for you to become a viral video when you accidentally mash the accelerator and the car launches.
These events are great, they remind you that you're not the driving god you think you are, which can dent some egos and that's great for a laugh. I won't go into all the tech and theory learned, that's the job of the instructors when you book a course, and you really should. It's affordable, a great Christmas or birthday pressie, you can potentially get an insurance discount, and more importantly it equips you to better deal with surviving our notoriously dangerous roads. Also, can you really put a price on getting to drive the latest Jaguars or Land Rovers in a world-class venue right on your doorstep in Jo'burg? I reckon not.
I did the morning session, and stayed behind to get shots of the afternoon session, but I had to leave before it was over so I didn't manage any skidpan pics. Just imagine the same pics with water everywhere. For more on the experience, click on through to the website. A huge thanks goes out to Marcel, Devon and the third guy who's name has done a runner (sorry guy), as well as the rest of the JLR crew for a great day at the office. See why being part of the SAGMJ is cool?
Here's a few pics, I'll add a full album on the CWM Facebook page.
When you crack an invite from Ford South Africa to attend a round of the SA Cross-country Championship Series, the Ford Parys 400, you clear your calendar and make sure you go. I know from experience, having attended one towards the end of 2019 which also involved the crew from Neil Woolridge Motorsport. It was also at the Parys Airfield, so I knew what to expect and where we'd be headed to see the racers fly by at speeds on gravel and veld that will blow your mind. It's especially scary when you're standing in the path of a Ford Ranger barreling towards you with such speed that you know if the driver just blinks at the wrong time you could end up sharing space with splattered bugs on the grille. Of course with the NWM crew, they're all pros so that won't (shouldn't) happen. Ford Ranger #334 was piloted by Lance Woolridge with navigator being Elvéne Vonk, a name you really should know if you're a fan of motorsport in SA. Ford Ranger #377 saw Gareth Woolridge at the wheel with Boyd Dreyer taking on nav duties.
At the last event like this, we were transported to the spectator points in a fleet of Ranger Raptors, and this year we were in the comfort of a few Ford Tourneo Customs, the perfect long range people carrier. Of course they weren't as fleet on the gravel, but having your own aircon vent blasting ice cold air on you when the outside temps were in the mid-30s was something I wouldn't have traded for much else on that day. There was definitely a noticeable decease in the amount of spectators thanks to the Covid things, but there were still enough people out and about tracking and supporting their favourite drivers to create some small traffic jams and to make the competitors perform that much harder. There really are die-hard motorsport fans in SA, my kinda people.
In between viewing points, we were treated to a fantastic catered lunch at the crew's pits and each of us there was gifted with the coolest Ford Performance/NWM/Castrol Edge-branded camping chair that will accompany to every event I attend from now on. A Q&A session with members of NWM was pretty interesting, especially learning how well the Rangers are faring is what's essentially a higher class. At the end of a clearly gruelling event, the Ford-based teams did great. Gareth and Boyd in Ranger #377 clinched a 3rd overall for the day and the team also claimed the South African Cross Country Series Manufacturers Award as well as the Team Award. Fellow Ford drivers Wors Prinsloo (#T41) took the Class T win with Malcolm Kock (#T28) 2nd. A true blue Ford weekend!
A huge thanks to Ford SA and Neil Woolridge Motorsport for yet another awesome event, there is no better way to watch an offroad event. To the behind the scenes crew making sure all the journos and influencers are treated like royalty, you get the biggest thanks for working so hard on such a hot day. It's events like these that keep the interest and passion for shooting motorsport alive.
In the world of double cab bakkies, there is none (in SA) bigger than Ford’s Ranger Raptor. It’s a monstrous thing with dimensions that exclude it from any normal-sized garage. Ok, sure, the competition doesn’t quite fit either, but if you were to own a competitor bakkie that only just squeezes into your garage, upgrading to a Ranger Raptor would see you needing home renovations to accommodate. In the double cabs I’ve reviewed before, I’ve always mentioned that I’m only ever a fan of these when driving them. Puttering around in my car I bitch and moan about double cab drivers on the highways because the majority (how’s that for a generalisation?) of them drive like twats, but when I’m behind the wheel of one I automatically subscribe to the “when in Rome” way of thinking - that's King Twat to you!. So I either have a problem with big bakkies, or I’m the problem in a big bakkie. You see, you can’t help it, when you’re in such a big beast of a thing it feels fantastic and your manners are quickly forgotten. “What? You dare to try take a that gap in front on me? In that pathetic attempt at transportation? Stay in your lane, inferior being” is pretty much where my thought process goes, and generalising again, it’s probably like that for all big bakkie drivers.
I’ve mentioned that it’s the biggest double cab out there, but I think it’s also the best looking. I’m not picking on the others, they all really do look good for the most part, just not this good. The Ranger Raptor is a top-of-the-line Wildtrak under the skin, but with select changes and all the right curves in all the right places, it’s immediately distinguishable from the Wildtrak. Head on, the first thing that should draw your eyes in is the massive FORD in the centre of the grille. We’ve seen similar aftermarket grilles fitted to other Rangers before, but this OEM piece is just better. I think the fact that it’s flanked by widened fenders helps too, it’s an evil-looking thing, it makes sense why small hatchbacks and single cab bakkies scramble out of the way. In total the Raptor is a good 168mm wider at 2028mm with the wheel track 150mm wider, it's 44mm longer and 22mm higher. The front bumper is different with a spaced fitment that adds to the perception of a bigger overall size, and having it in black instead of being body-coloured just works, no matter the body colour. The bash plate is again a different colour, this time silver, making for a three-way contrast which makes for proper bakkie eye candy. Round back the taillights have a unique design and the badging is a few font sizes bigger. Just below the integrated rear bumper you’ll notice there’s now dual tow hooks, which just looks badass.
The side profile is just brilliant, and the signature Raptor stickers work well. In fact I spotted a Performance Blue Raptor minus stickers the other day and it just looks wrong. Subjective of course, but also, I’m right and you should just accept it. There’s 17-inch wheels that are finished in a satin black, again this works perfectly no matter the shade of exterior paint. They’re wrapped in some chunky 33-inch BF Goodrich all-terrain rubber, adding to that bad-ass look. There’s a sizeable fender gap, which is thanks to the Raptor’s party trick – Fox Racing suspension. This not only raises the body by 50mm, it affords the thing some mind-blowing off-road capability with 283mm of ground clearance. Not in the sense of traversing obstacles, although in the slower technical bits it is massively capable of course. I’m talking switching the electronic drive mode to BAJA, activating all-wheel drive and crossing flat-is off-road stretches at silly speeds. If you haven’t seen any of the testing of this thing on YouTube, you have to. It’s so much fun, and with the power on tap long sweeping 4-wheel drifts are controllable and instantly addictive. Or so I’ve been told…
The cabin is more like something you’d expect in an RS streetcar, there’s absolutely awesome leather and alcantara Recaro race seats, a leather trimmed dash, a chunky leather-bound sports steering wheel, paddle shifters and brushed aluminium accents splashed around the cabin. The instrument cluster shows all the usual info, it does have a sporty look to it too. The 8-inch touchscreen heading up the infotainment system uses Ford’s Sync 3 system, which has always been a favourite thanks to its intuitive ease of use and an abundance of functions and features. The sound system bangs, and somehow it’s quite fitting having it blare my Country Rock playlist while kicking down dirt roads in a Ranger Raptor. All that’s missing is a Stetson, unless my wife is sitting shotgun because she’s always wearing one. There’s ample space front and rear, a compliment of 6-footers will be right at home and not even touch elbows. The Recaro seats are probably the most comfortable I’ve been in, they’re a little wider than usual, likely in anticipation of some of the homegrown farmer types who are usually built on a bigger chassis than us city boys. Tell me that Tim McGraw's Truck Yeah doesn't work in a Ranger Raptor, and I'll call you a liar.
Powering the Ford Ranger Raptor is something most don’t expect, and many hardcore fans don’t agree with. Based on looks alone, you’d think the Ranger Raptor would share the Mustang’s 5.0-litre Coyote V8, the Shelby’s 5.2-litre Voodoo V8 or in a perfect world, the GT500’s 5.2-litre Predator V8. Instead we find four less cylinders and an addiction to diesel fuel. It’s sort of like meeting a 6ft7, 250kg MMA fighter with a tenor voice. So continue my analogy, it’s purely in the voice because said 250kg MMA fighter will be able to pull your arm off and beat you with the wet end, no matter what tone of voice he has. While the diesel powerplant in the Ranger Raptor measures in with a mere 2.0-litres in capacity, it does happen to have a pair of turbochargers attached making some magick, the result being a decent 157kW of power with a massive 500Nm of torque. Them’s good numbers, and with that torque kicking in at just 1500rpm it makes for a fun drive. Mated to this powerplant we find a new 10-speed auto transmission. It’s brilliant, smooth as silk and it doesn’t ever hunt for the right gear no matter what drive mode you select in the Terrain Management System. I do think, and you’d have to check with some more technical people, that there’s some sort of torque limiter built in because all those Newtons don’t seem to kick in off the line when you mash the loud pedal. Lining up against more than one VW Amarok more than once, the Raptor ended up playing catch-up being out-launched from the get-go. Against the same Amaroks while rolling from 100km/h, the Raptor seems to be a much stronger beast and it quickly put the VWs on the back foot - you can definitely feel that torque in your butt dyno. Fuel consumption is rated at 8.7-litres/100km, which is great for a massive thing like the Raptor, except that even on a 200km trip with cruise control set to 125km/h the best figures returned (according to the on-board system), was 11.2-litres/100km. When showing the aforementioned Amarok how nice the Raptor tailgate looks, that figure pretty much doubled. But you know what? I didn’t care. Like the Mustang, I ended up spending two months' petrol budget on this thing in a week, the smiles were well worth it.
The price tag for the Ranger Raptor is high, you’re looking at paying closer to the R900k mark now, and adding in finance and all those fun fees, this going to be well over a bar by the time you’ve paid the bank back. That’s a big chunk of change, especially in the strange times we find ourselves in. There’s plenty awesome cars and bakkies to be had for that price, but if I had the opportunity, I reckon I’d still have me a Ranger Raptor if I was keen on making a big statement. Like the Mustang, this thing makes you feel like a boss no matter if you’re on a sand road, off road, in the veld, on the tar or in the local Spar's parking lot. I think also having it being locally produced is just brilliant and adds plenty braai-time talking points. I initially thought that Ford Performance Blue is the ultimate colour for one of these, but Colorado Red, Frozen White and Shadow Black look just as mean. After seeing one in the metal, my lotto winnings would be best spent on a Conquer Grey Raptor – I don’t think it’s possible to have a cooler factory double cab. If a V8 version does happen one day, that would be pretty cool, but I quite like this one just the way it is. For more info, head on over to www.ford.co.za, or click on the .pdf at the end of the article.
⬇️ PORN ALERT ⬇️
Gotta love it when you have Mustang content following Mustang content, well I do anyway. In the post about the 2.3 EcoBoost Mustang I mentioned that I prefer the turbo 4 over the rumbling V8, and as predicted it caused a few arguments on somme online groups where the article was shared. It seems the general consensus is that if you want a Mustang, it must be the V8 or nothing. Well, if the entry 4-cylinder upset the purists and fans (many of whom mostly argue without having driven any kind of Mustang at all), then this new once-off prototype will have them wanting the Ford top brass hunted down and tortured. There was already an uproar in May when the all-electric Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 full electric dragster was released. Also a one-off prototype, that monster packs a whopping 1045kW of power and over 1 490Nm of instant torque. It was only a matter of time before the men in white coats from Ford Performance tried another mad project. For this one they roped in the talent from RTR for a collaboration and turned their attention and expertise to a different discipline, the result being The Ford Mustang Mach-E 1400, a vehicle set to tear up circuits with actual turns and banks - and drift like an absolute monster.
From the release:
“Now is the perfect time to leverage electric technology, learn from it, and apply it to our portfolio,” said Ron Heiser, chief programme engineer, Mustang Mach-E. “Mustang Mach-E is going to be fun to drive, just like every other Mustang before it, but Mustang Mach-E 1400 is completely insane, thanks to the efforts of Ford Performance and RTR.” The Mustang Mach-E 1400 is the result of 10,000 hours of collaboration by Ford Performance and RTR aimed at bridging the gap between what an electric vehicle can do and what customers tend to believe it can do. “Getting behind the wheel of this car has completely changed my perspective on what power and torque can be,” said Vaughn Gittin Jr., RTR Vehicles founder, motorsports champion and professional fun-haver. “This experience is like nothing you’ve ever imagined, except for maybe a magnetic roller coaster.”
Mustang Mach-E 1400 has taken shape without rules. The Ford design team and RTR used many of the same tools Ford uses for its race cars and production programmes. Aerodynamics are optimised for shape and location, with a focus on cooling ducts, front splitter, dive planes and rear wing. Mustang Mach-E 1400 has seven motors – five more than even Mustang Mach-E GT. Three are attached to the front differential and four are attached to the rear in pancake style, with a single driveshaft connecting them to the differentials, which have a huge range of adjustability to set the car up for everything from drifting to high-speed track racing.
“The challenge was controlling the extreme levels of power provided by the seven motors,” said Mark Rushbrook, motorsports director, Ford Performance. “Mustang Mach-E 1400 is a showcase of the art of the possible with an electric vehicle.” The chassis and powertrain are set up to allow the team to investigate different layouts and their effects on energy consumption and performance, including rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive. Drift and track setups have completely different front end configurations like control arms and steering changes to allow for extreme steering angles in drifting. Power delivery can be split evenly between front and rear, or completely to one or the other. Downforce is targeted at more than 1,000kg at 257km/h.
The 56.8-kilowatt-hour battery (installed) is made up of nickel manganese cobalt pouch cells for ultra-high performance and high discharge rate. The battery system is designed to be cooled during charging using a di-electric coolant, decreasing the time needed between runs. An electronic brake booster is integrated to allow series regenerative braking combined with ABS and stability control to optimise the braking system. Mustang Mach-E 1400 features Brembo™ brakes, like the Mustang GT4 race car, and a hydraulic handbrake system designed for drifting that integrates with the powertrain controls to enable the ability to shut off power to the rear motors. Mustang Mach-E 1400, which is set to debut at a NASCAR race soon, serves as a test bed for new materials. The hood is made of organic composite fibres, a lightweight alternative to the carbon fibre that comprises the rest of the vehicle.
Ford is investing more than $11.5 billion in electric vehicles worldwide and the Mustang is the perfect nameplate to start this exciting chapter in electric vehicles.
A Mustang doesn't need a V8 to make you smile - a turbo is the perfect replacement for displacement.
Mustang – Since 1964. Yup, the motoring icon that is the Ford Mustang started 56 years ago with it's debut at the World’s Fair held in New York on the 17th April 1964 - the same day it was launched in Ford dealerships across the USA. The powers that be should have immediately known that success was a given thanks to the absolutely astonishing fact that the first day sales of the Ford Mustang tallied a whopping 22 000 units. Incidentally many of those first Mustangs are sought after by collectors because they were classified as 1964 ½ models, with 1965 only being the first full year of production. The model was expected to sell 100 000 models in that first year, but it ended up being the most successful vehicle launch since the 1927 Model A Ford totalling over 400 000 sales in 1965 alone; in just two years over a million Mustangs were scattered around the USA and a few outlying countries.
Now when most people think of the Ford Mustang, classic or modern, the Ponycar is pictured with a growling V8 powerplant. It's totally possible to get into a fistfight with a total stranger of a Ford fanatic by arguing that other engine offerings can be just as good. I mean back in the 60s all those sales weren't attributed to the 8-cylinder models, many of those cars were inline 6-cylinder models. They were cheaper than the 8-banger and were part of the reason that the sales were so good; it put the Mustang within reach of the blue collar workers. It's the same these days, since new life was breathed into the Mustang back in 2015 when it was turned into a global model, there's was the option of a 3.7-litre V6 and a 2.3-litre 4-cylinder EcoBoost turbocharged powerplant - much to the dismay of purists.
Even though 2015 isn't too long ago, this generation Ford Mustang received a makeover before this 2019/2020 facelift. In and amongst things changed and updated, some exterior bits were redesigned to keep the car looking as fresh as it's competitors, and at the same time the V6 powerplant was dropped from the option list leaving the V8 and the turbocharged inline-4 as the only options. The 2020 model arrived with the 5.0 V8's power figures at a very healthy 331kW and 529Nm, and the EcoBoost rated at 213kW with 441Nm - and both setups have now benefitted from a new slick 10-speed auto transmission. So looking at those figures, 213kW isn't something to turn your nose up at. Those that live their life by the numbers cars spit out never seem to acknowledge that it's a decent chunk of killerwatts from a 4-cylinder setup, even if there's 300cc more than usual. I mean the holy grail of hatchbacks, the GTi is rated at 169kW and the highly tuned Golf R is at 228kW. All of a sudden the numbers from the entry-level Mustang are worth taking note of...
The last time I drove a Mustang was during the local launch in December 2015 and it's one of those motoring experiences that has stuck with me. Rolling along the beach road in Camps Bay in a Mustang is pretty much ingrained in my motoring memory highlights, and while the yellow 5.0 V8 GT was great, I swear that I had more fun driving the EcoBoost. I did mention so to a few fellow journos and this saw me getting the stinkeye in reply. I guess that feeling of boost pressure building up tickled my fancy more than it did the others. Now, here in July of 2020 after a week with the latest incarnation of the droptop 2.3 EcoBoost Mustang, my mind is even more set. Yeah, the burbling V8 is a winner, no argument there, but daaaaaamn the feeling of reward I personally get from driving the 4-banger is hard to beat. While the V8 GT can hit 100km/h in a quick 4.8-seconds, this here 4-banger is claimed to run the test in a respectable 5.8-seconds. If you catch a V8 Mustang driver not paying attention, the 2.3 will out-launch it and that puts the V8 on a serious back foot with more than it's work cut out to try and catch up. You also have to remember that these cars are often bought to be modified. If I gave you a 5.0 V8 GT and a budget of R50 000 for upgrades, and I spent the same R50 000 on the 2.3 EcoBoost, I'll put my money on the 4-banger every single time. It is, after all, the same powerplant found in Ford's Focus RS but it only has to power two wheels.
I was commissioned to shoot a private test and tune event over the weekend that I had the Mustang, and I must say it did feel pretty damn awesome pitching up at one of these events in such a tasty car. I got to take it up and down the strip a few times, not for measured times of course, it was just to get between the pits and the start line so I could get into position to shoot what I needed. During lunch when the track was closed I was able to take advantage and test the onboard Track Apps, in this case the drag race feature. When you enable it, the 12-inch digital instrument cluster transforms into a drag strip Christmas Tree that gives you a proper countdown launch and times your run and speed over different distances. It also tweaks the electronics to be optimum for drag racing, and so the steering firmed up, the transmission did some magick things and the car went like the clappers. In normal mode when you mash the accelerator, the Mustang pulls off with urgency and the rears scrabble for traction a little in 1st gear, but in Drag Mode the gear changes are hard and immediate resulting in the tyres chirping on shift up until 5th gear. This resulted in a smile cramp from hell, but one that I'd happily endure on a daily basis.
A few people commented on how cool Ruby (that's what I named her) looks, sounded and ran and even though it wasn't my car, it felt fukken awesome. Then some chop commented to his friend that I better not be there to race because it's ONLY the 4-cylinder. The Kempton Park in me wanted to defend Ruby's honour and hand out a PK or two, but with so many witnesses around I decided it best to ignore the insult and carry on with my day. Well, that was until it was time for me to head home. There may or may not be an Instagram story depicting a certain Lucid Red convertible 2.3 EcoBoost Mustang doing a bit of a burnout at the track's staging area before nailing it 3/4 of the way down the strip and left out of the venue.
While there's a million and one performance cars available on the market, a good many being more powerful and faster than an EcoBoost Mustang, it really doesn't matter. The feeling you get while driving around in an icon with a history spanning over half a century long is rather hard to compare to. On the performance car front, not many can say their lineage started out that long ago. Over and above the feeling you get, attention is also part of the package. In my review week there was not one single time I drove the car that I didn't get a thumbs up or a compliment on "my" car. At first I told people it was a press car, but by day 4 I just nodded a thanks in appreciation. This car is great for the self esteem. Of course there's more to the Mustang than great styling, a smooth and fast transmission and loads of power - there's so much tech and safety crammed in too.
It's the perfect daily driver, Ford's SYNC 3 is in play via the 8-inch touchscreen, so you can control everything from calls and text messaging to music and SatNav - via voice control too if you like. There's also Android Auto which I used to bang tunes from my YouTube Music app through the absolutely brilliant Bang & Olufsen 10-speaker audio system (including a woofer). It also caters perfectly to my new obsession - Audible. A 100km drive listening to Stephen King's The Gunslinger made my Sunday evening drive home from the track just perfect. I'm not gonna bore you with the extensive spec and feature list, for that you can download the Mustang brochure below this video below that shows some of the working of the instrument cluster.
The Ford Mustang is more than a car, it's an icon that somehow makes you feel like the proverbial million bucks. I didn't want to stop driving it, I used the car for the most ridiculous trips. I even made sure to "forget" things when I went on some errands just so that I could go back again. And again. I went through almost four tanks of fuel during my week with the Ponycar, making up for all the money I saved on fuel during lockdown. Does that mean it's heavy on fuel? I have absolutely no idea and I actually didn't care either, I never once looked at the consumption figures. I'm sure they're available on Ford's website or some other online review but this just isn't the kind of car where consumption makes any difference, well to me anyway. I had configured the instrument cluster to display the Sports tachometer running from the left and over the top section to the right of the cluster with the speedometer on the right below that, and I added three gauges in the centre to monitor the engine oil temp, transmission oil temp and boost pressure. There was simply nothing else I needed or wanted to see. The soft top opens up in around ten seconds, and I did manage to drive the car for about half an hour with the top down, but even with the heater blasting and the heated seats on full, July just isn't the right time to have no roof on your car, unless you're ok with frozen, well, everything. In all honesty, if I was buying a Mustang for myself, I'd likely choose the Fastback because I'd rarely have the top down - unless I lived at the coast, because this is the ultimate beach cruise car with the roof down.
While the Ford Mustang range in SA is pricey, you can't really put a tag on the way these cars make you feel. Ok, you can, but some things really are worth it. The Mustang range starts at R833 900 for the 2.3 EcoBoost Fastback and R901 600 for the droptop, while the V8 starts at R993 700 for the Fastback and R1 061 000 for the droptop. The limited edition Bullitt is also still available and that starts at R1 079 700 and is only in Fastback guise. These figures also include a 4-year/120 000km Comprehensive Warranty, a a 6-year/90 000km Service Plan (with 15 000km intervals, which covers all scheduled servicing except friction materials, i.e. brake pads and wiper blades), a 5-year/unlimited km Corrosion Warranty and a 3-year/unlimited km cover for mechanical, electrical, flat tyres, batteries, medical emergencies and towing, if needed, to the nearest Ford dealership.
Oh and a week behind the wheel confirmed something else for me - all those Mustang vids where they get tail-happy leaving events and taking out the surrounding everything, is 110% down to moronic drivers... Eedjits.
In a motoring world where the buzzword is SUV, the folk at Opel went their own way by throwing a new MPV into the mix. Luckily years of experience means the automaker knows what buyers want in a people carrier and the result, the Opel Combo Life, is really, really good. I've seen a few online chats where the Combo Life was mentioned and there were actually a few people complaining about the exterior styling of the MPV. While I agree that styling is subjective and everyone has their own taste, I'll happily point out how wrong they are. I mean come on, just look at this thing. I love how it looks with the front-end being immediately recognisable as an Opel thanks to the design that follows the rest of the company's architecture, the side profile is just right and the rear's square dimensions sort of tells you that this people carrier got it's start as a cargo hauler, and that's not a bad thing. This translates to a massive boot that also has a nice and low floor making loading of luggage, shopping or a host of kitchen appliances as easy as possible. The Opel Combo Life Enjoy won't only work as a brilliant family runaround, but could easily double as an Uber Van for a bunch of mates wanting to responsibly head out on the jol. Having the rear doors on both sides being sliding doors means loading and unloading of passengers can easily, and more importantly safely done in tight spaces or up again the pavement on any side of the road.
As said, the Opel Combo Life looks great and is instantly recognisable as the larney version thanks to the bumpers and trimmings being given body-matching paint and having all the rougher workhorse version bits being made pretty to tempt modern families. It runs on some good-looking 16-inch wheels, although if I had one of these as a daily, i'd have 17s on as a bare minimum, and 18s just to bump up the aesthetics a little to my personal taste, I'd happliy sacrifice a little drive comfort for some head-turning looks, and look good it will. The OEM makeover has worked very well though, on my drives with the car I had five people asking me what I was driving and where they could have a closer look at one. Of course I let them have a good look inside and outside of the press car (because that's pretty much the point of one) and then directed them to Williams Hunt Fourways to chat to the sales team there. I'm almost 100% sure that three of the five were quite serious about making an offer on one. On one of the days I was heading along Ontdekkers Road which has about fifty-12 traffic lights, and I noticed a woman in a Fiat Doblo taking pics of the Opel Comb Life at just about every red light, even weaving through traffic to be able to pull along side for a side shot and ahead for a front shot. Usually I'd be worried that I was driving like a chop and the pics would be for social media shaming, but I was driving like and angel, and the hoot and wave when she finally turned off the road told me she was heading back to the office to research more about the awesomeness she captured on her phone that 's in the same segment as her car, but better in every way. Either that or I have a new stalker.
The Opel Combo Life Enjoy is a 5-seater, but if you wanted to squeeze people in and safety belts weren't an issue you'd easily pack a soccer team in. There just so much space. Overseas there's a model that uses the rear boot space as two extra seats, and even in that case there's more than enough space for full-sized people in those extra seats instead of the usual amount (lack of) of space you'll find in most pop-up 7-seaters. The boot is HUGE, like you can take a family of five on holiday and easily fit all their luggage in huge. If by some chance there's not enough space for the planned load, you can individually fold the rear seats down, and when all three are folded flat you can fit in a payload of up to 690kg. That's close to the payload in a Corsa/Chev bakkie. Over and above the massive boot there's also storage space and pockets all over the cabin. I quite like the space above the front windscreen, very handy.
The driving position is great, the seats are height and reach adjustable with lumbar support, and there's so many large windows that there are no real blind spots, visibility is well above average. With the rather sporty looking steering wheel having height and reach adjustments everyone from a 6-foot plus body builder to someone who's endured lifelong teasing for being short can fit just right. Controls are all within easy reach, well those that aren't accessible via the steering controls, but mostly everything is at the tip of your thumbs. The 7-inch touchscreen heads up the infotainment system that makes use of Opel's Intellilink software, easily one of the better systems out there, easy and intuitive to use with pleasing visuals. The radio plays through a 6-speaker system that's more than capable of letting others in traffic in on your playlists. I kept my Samsung connected via the screen-mirroring functionality of Android Auto, enabling use of my YouTube Music app for tunes and Waze for navigation.
Over and above the driving position and good level of specification, there's also decent safety in play. We find no less than six airbags fitted; a pair for the front action, a pair for the front sides and a set of full-length curtains. In fact over at Euro NCAP the people carrier received four out of five stars - a 91% for adult occupant safety, 81% for child safety, 58% for vulnerable road users and 68% for the safety assist on board. That's great going. We find all the usual acronyms too like ABS with EBD, ESP, and TC along with hill-start assist. There's also child locks for the sliding rear doors so you can stop the tykes from trying to play in traffic. Check the viod below for the crash test - you'll see that the test was done on the Peugeot Rifter, which shares pretty much everything with the Opel Combo and the Citroën Berlingo - a happy side effect of the sharing of technology between the brands.
As said, the Opel Combo Life Enjoy offers up a great drive, which is in large part thanks to that really good 1.6-litre powerplant. Usually such a small capacity for an MPV like this would be an issue, but the turbodiesel 4-cylinder has more than enough power on tap. There's just 68kW in play, but thanks to that turbo the toque is way up at 230Nm and so even with a full compliment of passengers there's no struggle to get up to illegal speeds. There is only a manual option, a 5-speed with a nice and short throw, and being a low-revving diesel can mean plenty cog-swapping in traffic but that's not a complaint from this driver. I do reckon an auto option would have made the soccer mom crowd happier though. Consumption claims are an average of just 5.0-litres/100km, but the best I saw during my week was 6.8-litres/100km on the onboard telemetry. I have no doubt that it would drop had I taken more longer roads. While it's "just" and MPV, it's really a blast to drive.
I really enjoyed my week with the Opel Combo Life Enjoy, it has the looks, the spec and the features all wrapped up with a great motor. It's one of those cars that you really don't mind driving, even looking for excuses to take it out sometimes. In the burgeoning world of the SUV, this is one MPV that must not be overlooked. Especially with a starting price of R369 900 that includes a 3-year / 120 000km Warranty with Roadside Assist, a 12-year / unlimited km Anti-Corrosion Warranty and a 3-year / 60 000km Service Plan. Check out more details and spec over on the main Opel site.
Back in May Ford South Africa was yet another manufacturer to digitally launch a new model. The model in question is the Figo Freestyle, which differs from the one we already know in a couple of ways. I could start transcribing the supplied press release for you, but I reckon nothing will do it as well the launch video hosted by DJ Ankletap from YFM. Spend a few minutes watching this, and both marvel at the car and Ankletap's bilingual brilliance, he's brilliant. Almost as cool as the new car.
“The All-New Figo Freestyle builds on Ford’s reputation as one of the pioneers of the utility vehicle segment,” says Doreen Mashinini, General Manager Marketing at FMCSA. With its SUV-derived design cues, robust stance with increased ground clearance and commanding seating position, it has the credentials of an SUV in a compact package that is ideally suited to city driving during the week and escaping to the countryside on weekends. “It fulfils the growing demand from younger buyers for a vehicle that is more compact and affordable than the compact SUV offerings, but is equally capable and designed for adventurous, active and free-spirited individuals,” Mashinini adds. “With bigger wheels, an increased ride height and integrated skid plates that enhance its capabilities on less-than-perfect roads, the Figo Freestyle is designed to meet the aspirations of these young and dynamic customers. It is a cool, connected and very capable package.”
Figo Freestyle 1.5 Trend Hatch 5MT R 226 700
Figo Freestyle 1.5 Titanium Hatch 5MT R 247 500
All Figo and Figo Freestyle models come standard with Ford Protect which includes a service plan covering 4-years/60 000km, three-year unlimited distance roadside assistance and four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty. This is complemented by a 5-year/unlimited distance corrosion warranty. Service intervals are every 15 000km.