Pierre

Les Belles Champenoises d’Epoque 2016

Every year, in the first days of March, Reims, in France, becomes an unavoidable meeting place for the classic car owners. The show, aka Salon Champenois du Véhicule de Collection, is best known by its organisers’ name : les Belles Champenoises d’Epoque.

If you expected to see Mercedes 300SLs, Ferraris, Aston Martins and such, you are too late. You had to go to Rétromobile, another major event, but for very different standards.

Les Belles Champenoises d’Epoque is considered beiing THE reference of popular shows. There, part sellers allow you to find whatever you need to  refurbish your carn and the populars take the most part of the cars exhibited. Let us show you around.

Luckily, the weather is fair, sparing the crowd that gathered at the entrance more than one hour before the opening of the doors. It’s a real rush since the opening, no one wants toi miss THE part they are looking for,, before someone else gets it. The aisles are filed at an incredible speed, and one hour after the opening, you have to pay attention not to push someone, either inside or outside !

There is a lot of sellers offering a wide range of parts, no pro would miss this event. You can hunt bargains for used parts, and even find body parts to restore at the “scrap sellers”. Some stalls look more like a bric-a-brac though, the appeal for old stuff associated to the automotive universe allow you you find whatever you can imagine. For example, you could find a large amount of scale models (old ans new), manuals, history books, old toys, or even decorative objects.

For those of you who just want to see classic cars, Les Belles Champenoises d’Epqoue is an interesting show as well. Two halls are dedicated to the clubs, exhibiting thei cars of their members, in compliance with the theme proposed by the organisers (who set a stand contest). This year, the the was “Cinema”, several stands had set demonstrations, while others had just decorated their stand. There is however a little drawback, the clubs tend to close their area with cords, preventing you to take the best pictures and not really inciting you to go and talk to the people there. There is a lot of cars exposed, nevertheless, and the populars have are highlighted, that is refreshing.

There was a motocycle exhibition too, because Les Belles Champenoises d’Epoque is not exclusively starring cars. There was a wide range of models and stands available for the visitors.

The other exhibition is not inside the site, but on the car park where were gathered the classic cars owend by the visitors. It is not the biggest park you can visit, Automédon has a far bigger one, but we can see really beatiful/rare models, sometimes coming form Belgium, the Netherlandsor even the UK ! You can meet a small group, here and there, they are the membmers of a forum or a club, enjoying the moment. It is a quite cheerful atmosphere.

To sum it up, Les Belles Champenoises d’Epoque is an unavoidable event for the popular car lover (mainly french cars, but you can find parts for english and italian cars quite easily). We recommend it to you if you missed it. See you there next year, especially if the weather is as clement as it was this year !

You can see all the pictures in this gallery

Pictures: Joel, Pierre et Bertrand.

Posted by Pierre in Non classé, Past events, 0 comments

The Jaguar XKSS is back !

Jaguar-Land Rover Heritage is no more, this department is now called Jaguar-Land Rover Classic. And their first big annoucement is awesome, they will build 9 brand new Jaguar XKSS.

If you do not know the XKSS, do not worry, it is a car known by well-informed people. In fact, it’s derived from the D-Type which was a successful race car, since its debut in 1954, replacing the C-Type. The D-Type is mainly known for winning the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1955, 1956 and 1957.

By the end of 1956, Jaguar wants to stop its official racing engagement, letting private team race with their cars. However, it does not mean stopping the development, becaus ethe D-Type is not approved as a road car in the US, They need 25 “street version” cars to be approved by the SCCA.

Jaguar’s board decides to produce 25 XKSS, derived from the D-Type, with bumpers, luggage rack, hood and a passenger door. However the factory where it is built burns whereas only 16 models have been produced ! This car is obviously rare and, besides replicas, extremely expensive.

The new lot of Jaguar XKSS to be built will not really be a bargain, though. The price tag for the “brand new” models is £1 million ! Jaguar-Land Rover Classis says it will be the fruit of the best of Jaguar engineering allied with the original look of the XKSS and a XK engine buildt with the greatest of care. 9 cars will be built, to finally reach the 25 cars that were intially planned, back in the day. Production is assumed to start next year.

However, do not try to call your local Jaguar dealer. You will not be allowed to book one, unless you are a huge car collector or one of the best Jaguar-Land Rover customers.

Posted by Pierre in News, Non classé, 0 comments
We tried it for you : MG B GT

We tried it for you : MG B GT

The MG B is a car we have known for a while, a French owner presented his roadster to our French team more than a year ago for a video report. This time, we could get behind the wheel, in a MG B GT !

Brief history of the MG B GT

The MG B is launched in 1962 and the GT appears in 1965. It is not just a coupé version of the roadster, it features several other modifications, such as a new windscreen or a different back panel.
In 1973 the MG B GT V8 appears with the Rover V8, a powerful engine compared to the 1.8 straight-fours.

In 1974 the design is modified due to the US regulations (the US were a major market for the B) and the addition of fat black plastic bumpers. Production will stop in 1980, making of the MG B the most produced roadster in the world before the arrival of the Mazda MX-5/Miata in 1989.

Driving a MG B GT : beware of the rain !

Valentin’s MG B GT waits for me under a february rain. The beautiful red/orange car starts easily and it is my first try at right hand driving ! The steering wheel is perfectly sized and the gear lever falls naturally in your hand.
The instrumentation is complete, even if the speedometer is in MPH, which a little disturbing on the French roads, but the car has been imported from the UK.
Our luggage stands on the “back seats” even if no one would sit in there, the backrests are 20 cm tall… It is still cold out there and we need to defrost before going.

After a few minutes to find my feet, the car appears to be really easy to drive. We head to the “Pays d’Othe” in the Champagne area. There, we can find winding roads in a hilly region, all that you can ask for a sports car but, today, the roads are completely wet and the rear axle keeps reminding it to you.
The car slides quite often but there is no big deal, this is easy to catch up. I have a few issues to place the car on the narrow roads we take, mainly due to the change of driving side. Valentin on the left seat is not completely reassured.

The driving is good and, once again, easy. The 98 ch of the 1.8 litre engine are helped by the gear ratio. The weight of this 1973 coupé is contained to 1080 kg. Due to the weather conditions, we did not give a try to aceeleration tests but it was said to need only 12.9 seconds from 0 to 60 mph.

This car is definitely designed for sport and, unlike most of the cars of this era, the brake pedal travel is progressive and precise. The rear axle wants to play once more, in a rapid curve this time, but no worries, you just have to keep it drifting. Even if the car is not really noisy (we can talk without screaming over the engine) the overdrive, activated by a simple switch, is more than welcome on the main roads, not to mention the fuel economy. To put it simply, this car is a clever concession between GT and sport.

It is time to give back the keys to Valentin, alas. A last look before leaving, it is really different from the roadster, the higher, more vertical, windscreen and the roof make the MG B GT a really enjoyable car.

Rating:

4 etoiles

Pros

Cons

– Economic, even at use Tiny interior space –
– Sports car but not radical Defrost from an other time –
– Reliable car
Rarity 3-etoiles
Price £1,500 to £12,000
Posted by Pierre in HOW is it?, Non classé, 0 comments