Friday, 30 December 2011

Range Rover Evoque - Big Deal...

Last month, TopGear Magazine released its 2011 Awards issue. That in itself is not very interesting, but what is interesting is some of the winners. The McLaren MP4-12C (a mid-engined, Twin-Turbo supercar) won the GT Car Of The Year award, thanks to its clever hydraulic anti-roll system, the quirky Citroën DS5 won Family COTY and the Fisker Karma beat the likes of the Rolls-Royce Ghost and Bentley Mulsanne to be TopGear's Luxury Car of choice. So far, so mildly interesting, but the overall winner surprised me, and not in a good way...

Monday, 26 December 2011

Video Weekday - Happy Boxer Day

Uploaded: 20/7/11
Running Time: 3:43
Views When Posted: 32,719

According to my homepage, this is my 100th post on Small Blog V8. That's a lot. It's been 10 months, and I think I've roughly got the hang of it! Anyway, here is a video of one of my early inspirations, the late Colin McRae. Here he's doing his thing not in the signature 555 Impreza WRX, but in a Subaru Legacy RS, way back in 1993, when I was but a toddler. The video appears to cover an entire rally stage (although there is sudden rain at the end, so maybe not), which he of course scales in no time at all. Despite being the rallying predecessor to the now-famous Impreza, the early Legacy still features that signature 'boxer burble', so just enjoy a legendary driver before he was famous. Boxing Day? Pah. This is Boxer Day!

I would write a reflective post, having reached my 100th, but I kind of already did that. I'll just add that "" is the latest peculiar spam site that is giving me hits, and the Mini story seems to be proving quite popular, so thank you for reading that, and the virtual road test, which features a car with a boxer engine, as it happens. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video, and feel free to read through some of the other 99 posts!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Photo Dump - Merry Christmas!

Hello SBV8'ers (if there are any regulars). I'd just like to wish you a Merry Christmas! Have a great day today and I hope you all get/got what you wanted. This is my 20th Christmas, and I'm still getting just as much chocolate, so I'm fine with that!  In the mean time, enjoy some snowy GT5 pictures I made yesterday. Click to enlarge!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Virtual Road Test - Toyota GT 86

Image slightly pixellated thanks to MS Paint and Vista...
DISCLAIMER - Yes, I am aware that a virtual road test does not carry the same weight as a real one, and I can't speak of ride quality or mileage or pedal feel or interior quality, but this is mainly just for fun, so enjoy! Also, you can find my other posts on this car here and here.

Unfortunately, I am unlikely to be upgraded from a small-time blogger to a writer for TopGear Magazine or such like between now and June 2012, so chances are I won't be able to have a go in the hotly-anticipated new sports coupé built by Toyota and Subaru. However, the kind chaps at Polyphony Digital have now given the JDM Toyota 86 to all us GT5'ers for free this Christmas, so I thought I would play motor journalist and report my findings, having driven it for a couple of hours. This, then, is like one of those "first impressions" reviews magazines do after driving a new car at a launch event. Only virtual, obviously...

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Video Sunday - The Sprinting Horse

Uploaded: 13/12/11
Running Time: 3:04
Views When Posted: 15,010

There are two things every self-respecting supercar owner (of which there are depressingly few) must do with their magnificent new acquisition. The first one is show off in it - preferably in front of a camera for YouTube's pleasure - and the other is to see how fast it can go. Thankfully, one gentleman in Germany has combined both, as he takes to the autobahn and embarks on a quest to achieve 200mph in his new Ferrari 458 Italia on an un-restricted stretch. Enjoy!

The GPS-given speed (to make it official in some way) is measured in kilometres per hour, so for those of you who, like me, measure in miles per hour, the magic number to look for is 320km/h. In case you know mph and not km/h, here are a few conversions to remember, rounded to the nearest whole number:

100km/h = 62mph
160km/h = 100mph
200km/h = 124mph
300km/h = 186mph
320km/h = 200mph
350km/h = 217mph
400km/h = 248mph
402km/h = 250mph
450km/h = 280mph
483km/h = 300mph
500km/h = 311mph

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Video Saturday - Close Shave, Comrade

Uploaded: 14/12/11
Running Time: 1:03
Views When Posted: 439,216

Over the Christmas holidays, you might find that with hearty servings of turkey and pigs in blankets and chocolate, your digestion takes a hit. If you do end up having a little bit of trouble emptying your pooh chute, don't bother with buying laxatives, just take a laptop or smartphone into the little petrolhead's room with you and watch this video on full screen. That should work nicely.

Somewhere in Russia, people were having trouble coping with the slippery surface on this bridge, and the lorry ahead of the driver has to throw out the anchors all of a sudden. Finding that he can't slow down quick enough to avoid said lorry, the driver pulls alongside and immediately empties his bowels. You'll see why when you hit play...

If that doesn't work, there's always this bit of quick thinking from a Lebanese rally driver who suddenly discovered that someone had carelessly parked at the bottom of a jump.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A Brief History - BMC Mini

The first and last Minis ever
Look at these two cars and there's very little to tell you that they are separated by a full 41 years, or exactly 15,018 days. While the cream car on the right (621 AOK) came out of the Cowley factory on the 26th August 1959 as a cheap and innovative new small car for the housewife (according to chief designer Sir Alec Issigonis, not me), the final car on the left (X411 JOP) exited the Rover factory in Longbridge on the 4th October 2000 to much fanfare as a celebrated British icon, loved by millions and regarded as setting the template for all small cars that followed (except for not having a 'hatchback' tailgate, that was popularised by the Renault 5). With total sales of 5,387,862 units, it's also the best-selling British car in history. It is, quite simply, the Mini.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Video Sunday - Best. Scene. Ever.

Uploaded: 29/10/11
Running Time: 0:54
Views When Posted: 248,478

If you've been around on the internet, you may have already seen this clip as a .gif, but if not, then revel in the brilliantly awful, hilariously unrealistic nature of Bollywood action films. Also, aviators and a handlebar moustache make you invincible in all situations. This is a scientific fact. As factual as anything you're about to see, anyway...

I've actually seen crazier, but I'll have to look for that and post it next week. For now, enjoy 54 seconds of Bollywood.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Video Saturday - Sebastian Vettel Makes A Good Kimi Räikkönen

Uploaded: 4/12/11
Running Time: 4:32
Views When Posted: 185,472

We often think of racing drivers as being robots, who say what they're supposed to say before and after a race and are only really focused on one thing, often leaving their personalities at home (perhaps to save weight). Nowadays though, we have people like Jenson Button, and this bloke, some German guy called Sebastian Vettel, whoever he is (apparently he won some kind of F1 race this year). Here he is at the Autosport Awards flexing his comedic muscles by doing an impression of 2012 returnee Kimi Räikkönen, as well as making a war joke about knives. *shrugs*


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Formula 1 - Brazilian Grand Prix 2011

Interlagos Circuit, São Paolo, Brazil.
After 18 races, which should've been 19 were it not for Bahrain being a little busy to be holding a motor race, we come here, back to good old Brazil, home of Senna, Massa and Barrichello, for the final race of the 2011 Formula 1 season. For the 15th time this year, World Drivers Champion Sebastian Vettel had managed to extract the most from the fastest car on the grid and get pole position, setting a new record for most poles in a season. With the dominance he's had this year, his team mate Mark Webber hadn't won a single race in 2011, when an identical car had won 11 times, so with his car only one place and 0.2 seconds behind Vettel's, could the Australian go into the winter with a success rate higher than zero?

Friday, 2 December 2011

Video - Subaru BRZ GT300 Wakes You From Kimi-Induced Sleep

 Uploaded: 1/12/11
Running Time: 3:04
Views When Posted: 307

As a follow-up to yesterday's news flash about the dual release of the Toyota GT 86 and Subaru BRZ (which are twins), I'm posting this video of the BRZ GT300 set to compete in SUPER GT next year. Judging by the music, I'd say this is the video they played at this week's Tokyo Motor Show. The other melody you'll hear is the 300 horsepower race-tuned Boxer-4 engine. Enjoy! I know I did. This coupé and its new racing variant are getting me more excited than any other car released or unveiled this year.

Also, here's an interview with Iceman and F1 returnee, Kimi Räikkönen. See how long you can listen to that monotone before you drift off...

Uploaded: 29/11/11
Running Time: 5:40
Views When Posted: 8,430

Yeah, I didn't last much past the halfway point, myself...
Wake yourself up by watching the Subaru again.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Multiple News Flash - Kimi Räikkönen Back in F1, GT-86 + BRZ x GT300 = OMG

Subaru BRZ GT300. The words you're looking for are either "Dear Lord" or "Me Gusta"
Before I start writing the report on the Brazillian Grand Prix, I thought I would share three pieces of good news. First off, Magnum-eating legend Kimi Räikkönen is returning to Formula 1, secondly, Toyota and Subaru have finally unveiled the production version of the FT-86 (now called GT 86, as I shall explain) and BRZ coupés, and sexiest of all, Subaru has already designed the racing version for the SUPER GT series in 2012. Do your best Kool-Aid Man impression.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

How To Fix The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

A is the original layout and B is my version. You can tell because they're labelled in Altastrada font, which is superior to your font.
Although double DRS and a lack of Vettel helped to spice up this year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, it wasn't exactly Canada or Silverstone. Much of the problem with this race is in the track layout, as Hermann Tilke was probably far more interested in a) grandstands and facilities, and b) getting paid lots by sheiks, thus the track doesn't really lend itself to overtaking. Does someone without a background in circuit design or any proper real-life motor racing experience honestly believe they can do better at designing a Formula 1 racing circuit than a paid professional?

Well duh. Haven't you been on the internet before?

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Two Ways To Make A Porsche

There is a right way and a wrong way to build a Porsche. Or is there? Maybe, with the Panamera and Cayenne selling just as well or better than the 911 and Boxster/Cayman, there are two ways to make a Porsche, or maybe it's proof that people will buy anything with a Porsche badge on it... except a new-age Need For Speed game, perhaps. They all suck and so does EA for claiming exclusivity on using Porsches...

Anyway, what we have here are two new cars based on existing Porsches. One is an official model, called the Panamera GTS. The other is a heavily modified version of a '73 911, called the dp Motorsports "dp11 RS 2011". Catchy. But which one is best?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Formula 1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2011

Yas Marina Circuit. Grotesque Ferrari World theme park adjacent...
The Race In a Nutshell:
> Sebastian Vettel's luck finally runs out as he gets a right-rear puncture into Turn 2.
> 2nd place-starting Lewis Hamilton leads by 2.5s after lap 1.
> Jenson Button slips back from 3rd to... 3rd. KERS fails for a while, partially reset later on, battles Mark Webber
> McLaren make lightning-fast pit stops, Red Bull botch Webber's, he falls out of contention for 3rd.
> Webber battles Felipe Massa, causing the pair to fall behind Button.
> Sébastien Buemi and Paul Di Resta battle, Di Resta runs wide at T11 and falls behind Buemi, who later retired.
> Kamui Kobayashi overtakes a lot, finishes 10th to move Sauber ahead of Toro Rosso.
> Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna penalised for ignoring blue flags, Maldonado does it again later.
> Hamilton wins on his mum's birthday.

Top 5 Finishers: Hamilton, Alonso, Button, Webber, Massa

Since this track appared at the end of 2009, it has played host to some boring races. The only thing that spiced it up last year was the fact that the championship was in the balance, and even then it was disappointing, because Fernando Alonso was stuck behind Vitaly Petrov and Mark Webber couldn't get the job done, so Vettel won from pole and snatched the championship, leading to some complaining rightly that it didn't allow overtaking. If they had DRS last year at this race, Alonso would've been champion. This year, the pressure was off, everyone had time to vomit on the world's fastest roller coaster at the hideous Ferrari World theme park behind Turn 7, and it looked to be a 55-lap parade after he siezed pole position for the 14th time this season...

The New Chevrolet Corvette (Apparently)

It looks 'shawped. I can tell from teh pixels and from seeing quite a few shawps in mah tahm.
38 minutes after they said they would, Jalopnik have released what they say are images showing exactly what the next Chevrolet Corvette will look like. For some reason they based it on an assumed ZR1 version, so I had a go at toning it down to show you what the normal C7 Corvette may very well look like. I'm having mixed feelings towards it even after de-ricing it. Here's what else The Internet may know about it....

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Video Sunday - Every Second Counts

Uploaded: 16/11/10
Running Time: 5:22
Views When Posted: 243,648

If you don't really get the attraction of motorsport, if you think it's just tubes with spoilers going round in circles and turbocharged Subarus driving past anoraks wearing anoraks in a wood, watch this video. I'm sorry it has orchestral music - you may find it atmospheric, you may find it intruding or cheesy, but I didn't put it there, so I can't help it - but the choice of clips and the quotes from legends and masters of the sport, living and dead, make this an incredibe and moving video. Enjoy. That is all.

Also, as you may have noticed, the background is now carbon fibre, an idea I pinched off a friend's Tumblr blog. This page is now lighter and stronger than before! The smallblock V8 that validates the pun is now in the title image.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Video Saturday - Celebrating In Style

Uploaded: 5/11/11
Running Time: 5:40
Views When Posted: 72,321

You know you're living your life right when you can turn up at Monza and get to sit alongside Valentino Balboni, long-serving former chief test driver at Lamborghini and all-round cool guy. You also know you've made it on the internet when such a man says your username on camera and lets you film him hounding round the Italian Grand Prix circuit in a Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera. Marchettino has made it, and is living it right. I don't know if he actually makes money from filming supercars around Italy - although he has enough for a shiny red Abarth 500 and a fancy camera - but he should. That would be the perfect job. Here he is commemorating his 900th video in true style.

Supercar Weekday - Toyota 2000GT

Written for Jalopnik's gift to Jezebel each night

Think Toyota and you may well think Prius, or Corolla. Toyota have built their reputation on well-made, economical sedans (and nearly threw it away with the whole "Unintended Acceleration" fiasco, but let's not get into that now). The only problem with being known for cars like that is that it earns you quite a mundane image. Back in the 1960s, Toyota decided it didn't want such an image, and wanted to prove that they could not only build an original car, but something that could compete with the world's sports cars. In 1967, they stunned the world with the 2000GT, which was developed in partnership with Yamaha. This, then, is Japan's first 'supercar'.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Photo Dump - McLaren

First of all, if you haven't already, check out the new blog title image I made! Pretty cool, right? It's quite simple, but the redesign needed a proper title image to look finished. Since I used the same engine for that as the background, I might consider changing the bg to a different small block V8, but for the time being, enjoy the new pic. Anyway...

 Gran Turismo 5's Photo Mode is brilliant, because not only do you get all the professional camera settings to choose from, but the resulting image can look incredibly realistic, even though the cars are no different to the ones you actually race. Because I've filled up my Flickr account, I'm going to post a set of photos on here every so often. This time, the theme is McLaren.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Lightest Car Ever Made Should Be Easy To Park

In recent years, cars have suffered something called "model bloat", wherein each new generation of a model gets longer, wider and heavier as more safety features and creature comforts appear. Happily though, the last couple of years have seem most makers fight against this in various ways, partly to improve their cars' efficiency, and in some cases also to improve the driving experience by making them less cumbersome. Leading the charge, it seems, is a group of Dutch scientists, who have created what is undoubtedly the smallest and lightest car in motoring history. That is, if you consider it to be a car at all...

Sunday, 6 November 2011

SBV8 Spec 2.0

Farewell, original layout.
Yes, this here blog looks different now. I might have to get used to it myself, but it was necessary, because the site now looks cleaner. It also has a new background, which is still a General Motors LSA smallblock V8 (so the pun still stands), which powers the Cadillac CTS-V, and will eventually power the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 when it's unleashed next year. This slightly-wider SBV8 also allows for more tabs, which means I can give Video Sunday posts their own tab, seperating them from "SBV8", which usually refers to posts like this one.

I tried the new "Dynamic Views", but none of them quite did it for me, inventive as they were, so it's all layed out the same as the original. Consider it a facelift, like when a car is revised and tweaked to keep it fresh.

Otherwise, it's same old same old. Enjoy!

Video Sunday - It's All Uphill From Here

 Uploaded: 29/10/11
Running Time: 5:22
Views When Posted Here: 38,805

Yesterday, I went to a local rally event in Yateley Wood. I might write about it later, but one thing I noticed when the 2WD class was climbing up a little hill after a tight hairpin is that compared to the 4WD cars, some of them struggled with it. This guy, however, won't struggle one bit in his 2WD car. This is partly because he's racing on tarmac (ok, it's entirely because he's on tarmac), but it's also because he is driving a hillclimb car. You might want to adjust your volume.

The car in question is a Mercedes-Benz 190E, apparently an ex-DTM car, which is propelled by a mix of slick tyres, a 6-speed sequential gearbox and a 564bhp 3.4-litre Judd V8 (apparently an old Formula 1 engine), which is revving to nearly 10,000rpm as it flies up this hill. With a vehicle weight of around 816kg, "flies" would be the operative word were it not for all the extreme aerodynamic add-ons. As you can see at 3:42, the rear wing could do with being fixed on with something a little sturdier, but it doesn't seem to be an issue. If you've seen this video before and/or want to skip the montage, go to 1:50 in the video... and experience the noise.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Toyota FR-S - More Specs

Whoever scanned this needs to take the bar out the middle...
I was going to put this in an update to my original post about Toyota's and Subaru's antidote to the likes of the pious Prius, but there's been another sizeable spec-drop for the first fun affordable Toyota since the MR2 was killed off. This time it's about handling and the components and calculations that make this a rival to the Mazda MX-5 in terms of driver satisfaction. In case you didn't know, the MX-5's one of the very best small sports cars money can buy. Hopefully this won't get the same "chick car" image...


Stats Page. I can also see what browsers you're all using. What the hell is "Jasmine"???
This is just a little post to myself for having reached 10,000 views. It's quite lame that I feel the need to commemorate this, but never mind. I thought I'd put up something that those of you who don't blog may not have seen before, which is the Stats page. Here I can see what you're clicking on, why, how often, what with and from where, which is nice. The slightly depressing thing is that the majority of hits are from Google Images, but I guess that's fair enough for a small-time blog like this one. It's not like SBV8's being republished all over the internet.

Formula 1 - Korean and Indian Grands Prix 2011

2011 Standard Issue F1 Podium
First of all, my apologies for missing the report on the Korean Grand Prix. It's only the second one I've missed out (the other being round 2 at Malaysia), so I'll sum it up here:

The Korean Race In A Nutshell:
> Lewis Hamilton out-qualifies Vettel by 0.2s, the first time a non-Red Bull gets pole in 2011
> Vettel overtakes Hamilton at Turn 4 on lap 1 and pulls away, Jenson Button falls behind Felipe 
   Massa at Turn 3, then passed by Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso at Turn 4, Webber passes 
   Massa later in the lap
> Button and Nico Rosberg swap places a couple of times after first pit stop, Button gets ahead
> Massa forced to wait as Michael Schumacher and Vitaly Petrov beat him out of the pits, the pair 
   also overtake Alonso during pit stops
> Petrov and Alonso brake too late for Turn 3, Alonso runs wide to narrowly avoid Petrov piling into 
   the back of Schumacher, Petrov later given 5-place grid penalty in India for taking himself and 
   Schumacher out of the race
> Safety Car out, Hamilton now very close to Vettel, but the Red Bulls were superior in 
   twisty sections, so Hamilton fell back towards Webber, who didn't end up beating him despite 
   spectacular battling through the twisty sections and passing him at Turn 1, after which Hamilton 
   could use DRS to re-pass, Webber finished 0.4 seconds behind Hamilton
> Ferraris both overtake Rosberg, who then pits and finishes out of the points
> Alonso passes Massa on pit strategy, he and Button catch up to LH and MW, but no-one 
   changes places
> Vettel gets 10th win in 16 races, Red Bull Racing win constructor's title

Top 5 Finishers: Vettel, Hamilton, Webber, Button, Alonso

You can see the full race results by clicking this link, but now we move onto India, which held its first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix this past weekend, at the (very) newly-built Buddh International Circuit in New Delhi. While the race itself was simply a demonstration of how F1 in 2011 works, the track was certainly interesting and received much praise from the drivers, but less so from Martin Brundle, who complained online about the commentary box being a room with no window rather than in a tower overlooking the circuit, as is usual. In fact, a lot of the facilities and such behind the pit lane looked plain and simple, suggesting that they didn't have a great deal of time to build it all in. Another sign of that was the amount of dust on the track, apparently from when it was still being built mere weeks ago...

Monday, 31 October 2011

Toyota FR-S Is The New AE86

Image from leaked brochure photos. You'd think they'd be sure to take decent pictures...
After three different concepts cars and plenty of teasing and rumours, Toyota's light, FR-layout coupé has finally been revealed, although Toyota themselves weren't going to unveil it until the Tokyo Motor Show later in the year. This should teach them not to print manuals and brochures until the car has been unveiled properly... [UPDATED]

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Video Sunday - The Fastest Brick... In The World

Uploaded: 5/9/11
Running Time: 1:42
Views When Posted: 15,726

When a car rocks up alongside you with enormous rear tyres that say "Hoosier" on them and a turbo the size of a dog, you know you're in trouble... even if said car is a Volvo 850. Think Volvo and you probably think "brick", or "soccer mom" or "bad driver" or "safe" or something like that. What you don't think of, if you're normal that is, is "sub-seven-second quarter mile". Prepare to have your mind bent.

Pictured: Doomsday Device
This heavily turbocharged dragster may not even have started out in life as a real Volvo, and if it did, there isn't much of its original skeleton left. What there is, however, is a full set of drag tyres, a tubular space frame to stop the immense power and torque from folding the car in half when you stamp on the throttle, and a 2.3-litre 4-cylinder engine instead of some gigantic 7-litre V8, proving that there is a replacement for displacement, or rather an alternative. Thanks in no small part to the tornado that's surely generated by that turbocharger sitting outside the car, this Inline-4 produces over 1300 horsepower. Sure, that's not as much as the last unusual dragster I showed you on here, but considering the source, that's pretty gosh-darned impressive. What's more impressive is that while that Rolls-Royce needed a 9.6-litre V8 to do a standing quarter-mile in around 8 seconds, this Volvo does the same thing in just 6.85 seconds, maybe even faster with a smoother run. Not so weighed down with walnut and cashmere, perhaps?

So that's mightily impressive, but if this 850 with 1300 is not quite roadworthy enough for your tastes, may I suggest instead this brown Volvo 240 Estate fitted with the 2JZ-GTE 3-litre twin-turbo straight-six from a Toyota Supra RZ? Sleepers, as cars like this are known, are great because they look completely normal - dull, even - and yet one squeeze of the throttle will easily embarrass those who underestimate your machine. This one, complete with faded brown paint and a roof rack, even shows a blinged BMW M5 a clean pair of moose hooves! Video below:

Uploaded: 15/5/11
Running Time: 1:38
Views When Posted: 378,007

So that's just two of many unassuming Volvos with hidden talents. Pick your favourite!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Mini-Rant - Sinking To A New Low

No, I didn't mock this up on Photoshop. It's real...
If you don't mind, I'd like to write about something that isn't cars. You see, I went to the cinema to watch Tintin in 3D yesterday, which was actually very good, featuring spectacular graphics and scenery, faithfully recreated characters (including a digital cameo of Hergé at the start), smatterings of light comedy, a good story, and lots of Citroëns. :D

Normally when a silly or crap film pops up in the adverts before the movie starts, like many, I just dismiss it as something I won't watch/care about, but today I actually laughed out loud at a trailer. Not to make a point or anything, genuine laughter. The trailer in question wasn't a comedy - since when is a Hollywood comedy genuinely funny? - but a serious action film with a big Transformers-esque machine jumping out of the ocean, missiles firing and serious faces, even Liam Neeson's in it, and then the title popped up at the end...... it's called Battleship. Yes, that kind of Battleship.

Are you actually kidding me?! I would expect such a trailer to be an online parody, like the Minesweeper movie trailer, but this is a real movie, which looked completely straight-faced, and stars serious action guy Liam Goddamned Neeson (I've decided that's his action name). I sincerely hope it's not taking itself seriously, because no-one, but no-one, could watch a stressed military-mode Liam Neeson gazing a long gaze at a radar screen and saying "......B Four" without laughing their face off as a missile lands in the ocean, hitting nothing, before Neeson's destroyer gets annihilated and he drops to his knees going "YOU SUNK MY BATTLESHIP! YOU BASTAAARD!!"

It couldn't get any worse than that, could it? Well put your elbows on the table and aim your palms at your face, because they're fighting against aliens. As if the word 'why' hadn't entered my mind often enough already at the idea of an action movie based on a board game, an alien race is involved, for reasons I can't even begin to work out. Maybe Americans are too sensitive about which nations the good guys can still shoot down? Maybe Hollywood wants us to believe it has a sense of humour? One person told me that they're also locked into battle zones so they can't move, making it the same as the board game, except its budget is not the £10 or so that, y'know, normal people pay to play Battleship, but $200million. Oh, and the aliens. That's different too. Normally.

It's an absolute joke, this film. I wouldn't pay to watch that at the cinema. I wouldn't even wait for it to come out on DVD. I'd wait for it to appear on Sky Movies during a slow day...

Monday, 24 October 2011

A Dark Fortnight In Motor Racing

In the last two weeks, three highly respected racing drivers have died, with two of them dying shortly after brutal accidents in their respective series. Is this the sign of a lack of safety in motorsport? Is organisation getting worse? Nope, it's just a horrible coincidence. Even though I don't follow Moto GP, IndyCar or American off-road racing (think DiRT games), but I am aware of them, and whether you follow them or not, a dead sportsman is always a tragic loss, especially when in two weeks we lose an off-road champion, double Indy 500 winner and "a rising star in the world of Moto GP", someone rising to the very top of motorcycle racing. It's also a chilling reminder that despite the huge emphasis on safety in motorsport (hell, in everything) these days, and even though it's nothing like 1960s/70s Formula 1, it's never impossible to die racing.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Video Weekday - Gymkhana Faux

Uploaded: 12/10/11
Running Time: 3:42
Views (When Posted): 277,427

Hopefully by know you have seen the works of Mr. Ken Block (who has the same birthday as me, ignoring the year), a man who is now well-known for three things: Crashing out of the WRC, Gymkhana and DC Shoes, probably in that order for most rally fans. Thankfully, some British youths have acquired their own Monster Energy-branded Ford Fiesta and engaged in a good old-fashioned piss-take, entitled "Gymkhana 0.2: No Budget? No Problem!" Featuring just 10% of the power of Ken Block's purpose-built Fiesta Gymkhana, this 1986 Ford Fiesta (the Ghia version, no less) proves to be 90% as entertaining, and the video itself is hilarious! Watch out for the coughing exhaust pipe at 2:15.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Formula 1 - Japanese Grand Prix 2011

Suzuka Circuit. Dunlop Curve at Turn 7, Degner at T8 & 9, Esses = T3-6, Spoon = T13/4, 130R = T15
The Race In a Nutshell:
- Vettel forces Button to put two wheels on the grass off the line, dropping him into 3rd
- Hamilton and Massa rub cars, leaving debris, bringing out the Safety Car
- Michael Schumacher leads a Grand Prix for the first time since Japan 2006
- Button beats Vettel in the pits, Red Bulls suffer with tyre wear
- Alonso passes Vettel, closes in on Button, fails to pass him
- Vettel wins by finishing third

Top 5 Finishers: Button, Alonso, Vettel, Webber, Hamilton

Over the years, Suzuka Circuit in Japan has played host to ten F1 championship wins, including the likes of Damon Hill, Ayrton Senna, Mika Häkkinen and Michael Schumacher, and early this morning (by which I mean late in the afternoon), it became eleven. It's a good place for Formula 1, partly because Japanese fans are as dedicated as the most hardcore of Tifosi and partly because the drivers absolutely love this track, particularly the likes of the Esses section after turn 1 and the flat-out-if-you-dare 130R. Other testing corners include Spoon corner and the turn one-and-two combo, both of which are about carrying as much speed through the two parts as possible without running wide and being punished. The two "Degner" turns are just as unforgiving, even catching out Sebastian Vettel in Friday practice as he went wide out of T8 (Degner 1) and was sent straight into the close tyre wall. Not that he should feel bad about it, as over the years all the best F1 drivers and many besides have been in that wall at some point (Rubens Barrichello also slid off there on Friday, catching two wheels on the grass under braking for Degner 1 and gliding over the gravel into the tyres). It's one of the all-time great racing circuits, as well as a previous Honda test track, which explains the variety of different corner types. One sign that it's a true driver test is that all five of the world champions in the 2011 grid finished in the top six places.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Video Sunday - Supercar Sunday

Uploaded: 17/9/11
Running Time: 3:53
Views When Posted: 8,913

I'm not sure I really need to justify why you should take 4 minutes out of your time to watch this. It has a McLaren F1 in it, and that's all the persuasion you should need. Just listen to that 6.1-litre BMW V12, peek at the gold leaf under the rear spoiler/airbrake at ~1:20, ignore the squiggly sticker on the bonnet and enjoy the view. Hopefully this one won't have any copyright issues...

Friday, 7 October 2011

Formula 1 - Singapore Grand Prix 2011

Marina Bay Circuit
The Race In A Nutshell:
- Vettel wins from pole, not losing the lead at any point
- Hamilton and Massa make contact during and after the race, Hamilton penalised but climbs up to fifth place
- Schumacher gets airbourne trying to pass Pérez and brings out the Safety Car
- Vettel not crowned Driver's Champion...... yet

Top 5 Finishers: Vettel, Button, Webber, Alonso, Hamilton

Since 2008, Formula 1 has had a night race at Singapore. The artificial lights running over the cars makes them look much prettier somehow, and despite a lack of overtaking opportunities (I would straighten out turn 2 completely, make turn 1 faster and make 2 a high-speed braking zone for a less tight turn 3), it still makes for eventful racing. Recently, local government types criticised it for being "a playground for the rich", but isn't every GP?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Video Sunday - Supraman Returns

Uploaded: 30/9/11  4/10/11
Running Time: 3:32  3:38
Views At Time of Posting: 37,215  65,507

Feel free to sit back and enjoy some uphill drifting in Lillehammer in Norway, courtesy of Kenneth Moen and his modified Toyota Supra producing what I can only assume is a million horsepowers.

P.S. I only titled it as such because it's the best Supra-based pun I could think of off the top of my head. I don't know if he's actually returning from anywhere.

[Update - 12/10/11] Sadly it has been taken down for copyright reasons, which is a shame, because it was pretty cool...

[Update - 14/10/11] Happily the video was re-uploaded since I was informed of it being taken down on copyright grounds. It now has different music at the start to avoid a lawsuit. Now Supraman really has returned!

2011 Frankfurt Motor Show Highlights

Mercedes-Benz celebrates 125 years with the F125, as modelled by Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche and his magnificent facial hair
Last week, car companies from all over the world were gathered in Germany for the Frankfurt Motor Show, one of the major shows on the calendar. In total, 91 different new models and concept cars were shown off during the ten-day event running from the 15th-25th September. Here are ten of them that stood out for me.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Video Sunday - Eargasm

Uploaded: 9/9/11
Running Time: 2:21
Views At Time Of Posting: 22,033

Formula 1 features 24 cars with screaming high-pitched 2.4-litre V8 engines. We know this. But it's also worth listening out for the AMG medical cars. As well as the SLS Safety Car, the Medical Car that follows behind them for the first lap or two in case of early accidents has to pack more stuff into it, so instead they use a Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Estate, which is like a normal C-Class estate, but with a 487bhp version of the C63's grizzly, low-pitched 6.2-litre V8. Plus it has lights on the roof. I suggest you either turn up your speakers or put some headphones in, because someone was nice enough to film it doing its thing (and being driven satisfyingly hard) at last week's Italian Grand Prix... and it sounds good. Really good. Especially when the 7-speed automatic gearbox blips the throttle on down-shifts.

If you were hoping for a little more of the SLS AMG though, don't worry, YouTube user Jorrie2 has got your back. If you're hungry for more ear candy, him and 'Marchettino' are generally the people to search for.

Uploaded: 6/9/11
Running Time: 1:26
Views At Time Of Posting: 9,910

Formula 1 - Italian Grand Prix 2011

Autodromo Nazionale Monza track map (including disused oval)
The Race In A Nutshell:
- Liuzzi's HRT fishtails off and slides into turn 1, wiping out Rosberg and Petrov while causing chaos and bringing out the SC. Meanwhile, Alonso went from 4th to 1st from the start to the end of turn 1.
- Vettel overtakes around the outside of Curva Grande (no DRS) and into Della Roggia, first sign that he can actually overtake people on merit.
- Webber hits Massa off at Rettifilio, loses front wing and slides off at Parabolica, retiring.
- Hamilton gets stuck behind Schumacher for many laps, Schumi told off for illegal defending and Button catches and passes them both.
- Button takes 2nd from Alonso, Hamilton finishes 0.5s behind the Ferrari.

Top 5 Finishers: Vettel, Button, Alonso, Hamilton, Schumacher

Autodromo Nazionale Monza is the home of Italian motorsport, and of course the venue for Ferrari's home race each F1 season (there's even an old Ferrari 348 medical car that you can see behind the grid at the start of the race). Scuderia Ferrari are effectively Italy's national team, and there's an article of some kind in Italian newspapers about them every day, so it's a race they're keen to win, and did win last year thanks to Fernando Alonso. Going from Spa-Francorchamps to Monza, with its old and abandoned banked oval from over 40 years ago, you really appreciate the history that Formula 1 has, and these classic tracks are good things to keep on the calendar. As more and more new tracks in increasingly richer places provide slightly lacklustre racing, the old guard remind us that F1 isn't just a financially-driven parade, it's a sport. A sport for brave, talented speed freaks. Not many of said speed freaks would last the entire 53 laps and 308km at this year's Italian Grand Prix, however...

Monday, 12 September 2011

EcoVelocity 2011

Yes, this is a deer. Made out of a Yamaha bike. Any questions?
The inaugural EcoVelocity motor show has wrapped up after four days of displaying the latest green machines available in the UK. Selling itself as "the low-carbon motor festival" despite the lack of tents or mud, visitors could walk around poking, prodding and going "ooh, that's clever", or they could test drive a variety of new cars, ranging from super-clean petrol/diesel cars like the Fiat 500 TwinAir and Ford Focus ECOnetic, to hybrids like the Vauxhall Ampera and Honda CR-Z, to full-on electric cars like the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Nissan Leaf. Kids were also entertained by an 11-to-17-year-olds driving school with Seat Ibizas and R/C racing, while the over-18s waiting for test drives could also try out a Segway witchcraft-on-a-stick in a controlled environment.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Video Sunday - Now That's Dedication

Uploaded: 3/9/11
Running Time: 2:47
Views At Time of Posting: 6,732

Normally when you can't slow down enough for a tight corner on a race track (most commonly street circuits), there's a handy escape road for you to slither into. When Jeroen Bleekermolen got it wrong during qualifying for the ALMS Baltimore Grand Prix, he tried to go through a gap that wasn't quite big enough for his Porsche 911 GT3-R, and the left front wheel came off. Having traversed the maze of tyre walls to slow you down, he remembered a rule stating that if he didn't qualify on the same tyres he started the race with, he would be demoted to the back of the grid. What's a bear to do?

Either you can call it quits and take the hit, or you can run away to save the day as it turns out. He jumped out of the car, picked up the wheel, rolled it towards his 911, put it in the passenger door and crawled to the pits in tripod mode. The team then reattached it and he went on to secure Pole Position and win the race the next day! This is what you get for keeping your head and thinking creatively, whereas most drivers would just flap their arms around and moan to the interviewer afterwards. Credit to Mr. Bleekermolen.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Video Sunday - Rolls-Royce Silver Sacrilege

Uploaded: 22/08/2011
Running Time: 1:03
Views At Time of Writing: 11,040

Rolls-Royce has always been the epitome of luxury cars. If you have a "Roller", you are the daddy. A Rolls-Royce is meant as the ultimate in luxury, comfort, and perhaps status symbols. It is not, however, meant to have a Twin-Turbocharged 9636cc (588ci) Big-Block Chevy V8 engine shoehorned into it and a parachute attached to the boot lid. It's quite a creation, though.

The turbos were apparently running at a "Conservative" 17lbs of boost, yet the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow you see here did a standing quarter-mile in just over 8 seconds. A brand new Nissan GT-R takes 11.6 seconds or thereabouts to do the same thing. Once the project is finished and the engine is running at full whack, it should be capable of producing a tremendous 2300bhp and a quarter mile comfortably under 8 seconds. To quote James May, owner of a Rolls-Royce, "If this car had a monocle, it would fall out now". I shouldn't like that someone did this to a Roller, but frankly, it's awesome.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Formula 1 - Belgian Grand Prix 2011

Spa-Francorchamps track map. This is the longest circuit on the calendar, and one of the drivers' all-time favourites
The Race In A Nutshell:
- Bruno Senna locks up and causes collisions at turn 1, loses front wing, gains drive-thru penalty later
- Nico Rosberg took the lead at Les Combes, but fell back after DRS was enabled
- After first round of pit stops, Webber passes Alonso at Eau Rouge (no mean feat)
- Hamilton and Kobayashi collide braking into Les Combes, Hamilton crashes out at high speed
- Vettel capitalises on resultant Safety Car to take lead post-pitstop
- Big gains as Button goes from 13th to 3rd (leading briefly), Schumacher goes from 24th to 5th

Top 5 Finishers: Vettel, Webber, Button, Alonso, Schumacher

Spa, the only race track in the world shaped like a sub-machine gun, is the closest thing Formula 1 has to the Nürburgring Nordschleife in terms of length, history and difficulty (despite it having the longest flat-out section - from the exit of turn 1 to the braking zone at turn 5 - of any track on the calendar). This year's race marked the 20th anniversary of Michael Schumacher's Formula 1 début at this very track. He's gone from retiring on lap 1 in a Jordan car in 1991 to returning 20 years later as a 7-time world champion, Ferrari legend and 6-time Belgian GP winner (including winning it in 1992, just one year later). Contrastingly, the one considered "Schumacher 2.0" went into this race without a single Belgian win to his name. That didn't stop him qualifying on Pole Position by half a second though...

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Video Sunday - The Greatest Pony Video...... In The World

Uploaded: 13/8/2011
Running Time: 3:28

WAIT! Don't leave! I haven't been sucked into the "Brony" craze and this is worth watching, only because it's so well made. The lip syncing seems dead-on most of the time. Other than that, it pretty much is what it is.

Called "My Little TopGear: Friendship is Ambitious But Rubbish", the audio from a couple of TG episodes has been used to turn a popular My Little Pony cartoon into the greatest pony cartoon... In The World. It is quite random, but if you don't find the whole Brony thing so annoying, quite funny too.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Repost: How the Toyota Camry is Killing Our Dreams

I won't make a habit of reposting other people's writing, but I agree with this article and probably couldn't make the same point better. It's written by Mike Spinelli, an editor at American blog Jalopnik

We received some bad news this week. Mazda's rotary engine died again, while the Toyota Camry just keeps on living. Here's why we should care about the rotary engine, and why no one reads magazines about toasters.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Game Review: Test Drive Unlimited 2

Test Hardware: Xbox 360 Elite, Official Wireless Controller

In A Nutshell:

I like:
The idea
Showroom (and test driving cars I can't afford)
Choice of cars

I Don't Like:
Driving physics
Sub-standard graphics, sound (~)
Annoying commentary/characters
Quite repetitive single player

RATING: 65/100

I know it's been out since about February, but I finally picked up a copy of Test Drive Unlimited 2 last week. It only cost me £20, and to be honest I'm glad I didn't pay the £40 or so it would've been on release...

Ferrari 458 Spider Is Afraid Of Newspapers

It was inevitable, and now it's here. Ferrari has released a video of the new 458 Spider (unofficially the Italian word for convertible), which folds its metal roof (or maybe carbon fibre, details are still scarce) in a similar way to the 575 Superamerica from about 5 years ago, but in two parts instead of one, and hiding under a cover rather then sitting upside-down on the back. According to Ferrari, the use of a folding hardtop instead of rags actually saves 25kg, because the rest of the car didn't need as much doing to it to make it safe enough. They also claim that "The design was perfected to slow and diffuse the air in the cockpit, enabling normal conversation to be held even at speeds over 200 km/h". Surely any conversation held at over 124mph is going to involve screaming anyway? "Why are you talking to me?! Pay attention to the road or SLOW DOWN!" I guess it's just a measure of quality rather than a useful feature to advertise.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Video Sunday - Ken Block Marathon

Welcome to Video Sunday, a new regular feature that's fairly self-explanatory. This week commemorates the fifth video from American rally and stunt driver Ken Block, called Gymkhana 4 (that'll make sense in a minute). Without further ado, here is the first one, a pure and simple motorsport video featuring a 530 horsepower Subaru Impreza WRX STI (GD):

Uploaded: 11/11/08
Running Time: 4:27
Views At Time of Posting: 10,601,664

Thursday, 18 August 2011

The New Porsche 911: Don't Tell Me It Looks The Same

First the original 901 in the '60s, then the 996 in the late '90s, now the 991. Here is the third all-new 911 in 48 years.
A world without a Porsche 911 in showrooms is a world hard to imagine. The perennial German sports/supercar has been with us now since 1963, and has evolved many times over the years. First the 901 (changed to 911 after Peugeot had a strong word with them), then the 930, then 964, 993, 996, 997... and now this, the 991. Why they've gone backwards, I'm not quite sure.

But despite this being the seventh-generation Porsche 911, it's only the second time that evolution has leapt forward for what Jeremy Clarkson parrots call "a squashed Beetle", as it's only the third all-new 911 in 48 years. So what's changed?

Monday, 15 August 2011

SPOTTED: The New BMW 3-Series

Y'know, it's not really wise to have a photoshoot of a new model in a place where car spies can get to you, especially not when you're still heavily camouflaging the prototypes. That would make the camo somewhat pointless. Still, it does at least mean that we know what the new BMW 3-Series looks like: a smaller 5-Series.

Still, BMW must know themselves that all they need to do with the new 3er's body is to just make it look like a BMW, and because they've made it look like the 5, which looks like a 7, they have succeeded in that. It will always sell by the boatload because it's a BMW 3-Series, and nowadays they even make sure to make stupid and pointless cars like the X3 and X6 seem like a good idea by making them so well. Thus, a modern BMW that actually has a purpose is bound to be a huge success. Again.

In related news, the next M3 will have a Twin-Turbo 3.0 Straight-Six engine, to replace the naturally aspirated 4.0 V8 with something more powerful and less thirsty, according to British car magazine Autocar. An I6 makes more sense in an M3 than a V8, so this is a good thing, as long as it gets something right that its M5 cousin didn't and retains a manual gearbox option. Want fun driving for years? Change your own gears.

More info and images in the source link above

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Quick Video: Home-made donuts.

I'm not sure what the context is here, whether this man has just got divorced and can't keep the house, or was forced to sell his 7-litre AC Cobra, or my favourite thought that he just bought the house and plans to set up the living room on top of it. Talk about décor! "Ooh, I like what you've done with the floor. What's that smell though?" "Oh that? My doughnuts must be ready."

Whatever the context is, I just hope the floor stays the way it is. That's also superb car control, as it's very easy to let a car like that get out of hand, but he kept it in check with the brakes and didn't leave a scratch. Just plenty of delicious tyre marks.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

One Ticked Off The Bucket List

This article is so called because I've said from the start that I will drive this car before I die. As of 12/8/11, I have.
For my combined Birthday and Christmas present in 2009, my grandparents bought me a supercar gift experience that entitled me to drive a Lamborghini Murciélago 6.2 around a former airfield in Elvington in north Yorkshire (which I booked for February '10). Going from a 67bhp Fiat Grande Punto 1.2 to a 570bhp Lamborghini V12 a mere 2 or 3 months after passing my driving test was... interesting, especially as the driving position was rather awkward (requiring short arms and long legs) and I couldn't see out very well. The result was somewhat feeble driving. It was certainly fun though, and it sounded awesome - not just to hear that 6.2-litre V12, but also to snick-snick the open-gated manual gearbox into position - but I didn't really do myself proud. I didn't even hit 100mph. This year, however, was going to be better than last year......

Welcome Back To Small Blog V8

OK, I've now had my unannounced summer break. SBV8 will now be open for business as usual!

It has been 6 months since I started this blog, and I'm happy to see the viewing statistics climb each month (even if most of it appears to be Google image search results for the Red Bull X1), and this right here is my 50th published post, and I have decided to move things on a bit.

There will be a bit more content in the coming weeks, with a racing game review, new posts featuring spy photos of upcoming cars, and a very special something else very soon! I will also try to get back into the habit of doing a regular feature, even if it's not one of the original ones, such as a weekly news round-up or something. I have piloted a few changes to the F1 articles (including having a big track map at the top so you can see what corners I'm referencing and naming paragraphs so you can skip to the bit you missed if you don't want to read it all) which I have decided to keep, and if I find a way to have a Wikipedia-style Contents bar at the top, I will try to implement it. Of course, the other way to look at the issue of long articles is for me to just write less, and this is something I will also endeavour to do, but I don't want to miss anything out that might be important to someone, so that's a balance I must strike. Maybe a brief summary in bullet points at the top or something.

Anyway, I notice that I have a triplet of followers now as well, so if you have any suggestions for improvements, I'm happy to read them. You don't have to be a follower to have suggestions, so any lurkers out there are welcome to have their say as well.


I shall try to uphold my promises this time.