New BBC series – #MotorheadsTV

July 5th, 2016

For a large chunk of 2016 I have been writing and filming a new series with Tom Ford for BBC Worldwide called Motorheads. Due out in autumn on a channel yet to be confirmed (the Beeb play their cards close to their corporate chest) the series is born around the vast amount of uploaded video clips featuring everything from redneck motorsport and terrible parking, to unemployed IT people in the Netherlands converting their car to drive using a phone for €1000.

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Think of it, then, as a vehicular Russell Howard’s Good News mashed with Harry Hill’s TV Burp. But with some car-based experiments and japes. Rest assured we had a dollop of laughs making the series.

I’ll be the first person to admit that my blogging frequency is weak these days, as the most interaction takes place via my Twitter and Insta accounts. A completely new Carpervert site is about 5 years overdue, but finally in the pipeline as I write this. And yes, it will include much more car content, not to mention the odd retro mower, aquarium or Tamiya RC model. Just because.

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Silent but violent – my electric car goes quicker than an Aventador

July 5th, 2016

Back in 2012 I dragged a bizarre little electric relic from a shed in Bristol and embarked on a mission to build an electric hot rod. This EV would embrace the custom car culture but push the boundaries and perceptions of EVs (electric vehicles).

With over 2000 amps under its skin and a full MoT, in 2015 the Enfield 8000 ‘Flux Capacitor’ ran in the 10 second quarter mile bracket by the end of 2015. 10.84 sec @121mph.

2016 marks the start of a world record attempt in the little yellow ochre angle bottomed Isle-of-Wight born curiosity. I want to be the world’s quickest street legal EV. The magic number to beat is 10.25 seconds on the quarter mile. In June I reached a personal best of 10.51 @ 129mph. We have fitted an additional battery pack in the boot and are now meddling with final drive gear ratios (because the car is too short to fit a gearbox in). To follow the mods, the skinned knuckles and the celebrations just head to www.flux-capacitor.co.uk/blog.php

 

 

 

JONNY’S ’75 ALIVE

June 22nd, 2015

This is possibly the most exciting blog I’ve written. Because everything until now has been the lead up to actually racing the Flux Capacitor for the first time.

Almost three years after buying an electrically dead flood damaged Enfield 8000, the moment to first shake-down and then race the little nine-foot-long ‘leccy relic was here. Weather conditions at Santa Pod were kind to us, Olly Young at Currentracing.co.uk was on hand to run the necessary checks and help charge the Hyperdrive Kokam lithium-ion battery pack for the first time, and dial in the desired power tune to the old EV’s modern controller and battery management system.

 

I know it sounds stupid, but the Enfield felt surprisingly together and ready for action. The first job of the shakedown is to check nothing feels dangerous, then it’s time to bed in both the elec motor’s brushes and also the custom BG Developments braking system.

After the shakedowns in Santa Pod’s deserted pit area earlier in the week (which you will see in the vid) I had half an idea of how the Flux Capacitor felt. And it was quick, even cruising at 1000 of the 2000 available amps. We upped the amps to 1300 for a quick squirt and then felt ready to punish the full quarter mile a few days later.

Race suit on, battery pack charged and happy, the debut quarter mile run was a mild 16-second affair. But the main thing was that the car felt like it was stable and happy at high speeds. That was always my worry, what with the 1.75-metre wheelbase and all. Time to turn up the power.

Over the course of the Santa Pod Big Bang event, the Enfield covered nine quarter mile passes. Our second run was 13.7 second @ 92mph. 3 seconds had been shaved off the ET by simply dropping rear tyre pressure by 10 psi (for grip) and increasing amps to 1400.

In an EV race car, the amps act as your instant torque (acceleration) and the voltage level will govern your terminal speed. The car is direct drive with no gearbox, so it’s all down to the voltage we race with, versus the gearing in the Ford 9” back axle (3:00 to 1 ratio). We raced with just over 200 volts.

Clinching 3 consistent 13 second runs felt amazing. Each time the little Enfield never shimmied at speed or felt like it needed a parachute to stop. We dialled in 1400 amps and took the voltage to 220v.

I’d got used to using the line-lock to hold the front wheels and let the rears smoke up for the burnout. Perhaps it was coincidence but my biggest burnout to date tallied with getting the Flux Capacitor into the 12s. It gripped hard on its street legal drag radials and never lost traction at all. The wheelie bars just kissed the ground on initial launch.

SILENT BUT VIOLENT

I could hardly believe the rate of progression with the car over the weekend. Never did I think would we hit 12 second quarter mile times so soon, but did three in a row.

First a 12.62 @ 101.6mph, then a 12.83 @ 102.3mph. Not only was the yellow peril in the mid 12s, but also it had cracked 100mph before crossing Santa Pod’s finish gantry.

The fastest we have gone so far is 12.56 @ 101.4mph. In other words, 0-101mph in 12.5 seconds. That is the 1/8th mile in 7.9 at 87 mph, which approximately equates to 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds. It felt ridiculous. It was as if the humble British electric midget was born to go this fast with such ease. I barely fought the wheel all weekend.

As it was out first race meeting and the car fresh, we made sure there was still plenty of power and adjustment left untapped. There’s still an extra 150 volts and 600 amps to play with and try to put down onto tarmac, and of course you have to consider track temp, ambient temp (which heavily effects the power of batteries – we were running a second slower in the morning than the afternoon for no reason!) and tyre pressure.

But the best bit? People’s reaction. The chuckles. The cheers. The kids asking their Dads if it was a real car.

A massive thank you to Adrian Flux, npower, Hyperdrive and Red Maple to their patience and continued belief in this daft little project. Also big props to Nick at Gas It for lending me his motorhome and toaster. Thanks to Olly Young at Current Racing, without whom I would have never got this car finished, safe or fast. Cheers guys. Who said British engineering was rubbish?

Enjoy the video.

https://youtu.be/sNqNKCXDdY8

 

It moved. It’s (a)live.

March 16th, 2015

After at least 18 months more than I originally planned the Enfield 8000 electric hot rod has gone live. In a Hungerford trading estate after dark it moved under its own amps thanks to the mentoring help of Olly Young at www.currentracing.co.uk. I must have travelled almost 20mph. The brakes worked, as did the steering. Now it’s time to do some final tweaks and checks before trying some higher speed test shakedowns. These will happen before the end of March. Exciting times. As usual check out the blog progress via: www.flux-capacitor.co.uk/blog.php

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New BBC car telly series

January 31st, 2015

Mud, Sweat & Gears is a new BBC America TV series that I’ve spent a lot of 2014 filming. It’s just started going out in the states, but essentially it is a mash-up of Scrapheap Challenge, Total Wipeout and MacGyver. And maybe a little pinch of British Top Gear. Anyway, there’s more info here if you fancy finding out more about a car TV show with explosions and weird mods that isn’t intellectual in the slightest

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Powered by npower

February 12th, 2013

Somebody at the energy giant npower liked what they saw/heard. A few meetings later I am proud to announce that they are the latest sponsor of my Flux Capacitor EV hot rod project.

As I write this the Enfield’s high voltage wiring is nigh on finished, thanks to the boys at Current Racing Then it’s time to order some batteries and bolt the front brake calipers/discs up (and hope they fit).

If you are a battery company and are interested in getting involved in the Flux Capacitor, please get in touch.

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That green box is called a Zilla. It is basically the ECU brain of the car, freshly imported from the US after nearly £4k. Ouch. It is situated under the passenger seat where it lives next to a contactor switch (which completes the circuit and makes it go forward). I’m learning more about EVs each week. Still have no idea how the Enfield is going to drive when I mash the ‘loud’ pedal….

Merry Christmas from British Sleigh-Land…

December 25th, 2012

Why bother with a gang of farty Reindeer when you could thrust across the midnight sky in an Austin Princess? Ho Ho Ho… oh.

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This badly made e-card is now at least a year old. Unfortunately I was too busy moving house to build a new one. Sorry. I may come across as cheap, but I do donate to charities and this year I gave two homeless people food. Well, one guy said he wasn’t hungry but he fancied a can of cola. I bought him a six pack. It felt like the right thing to do.

My mum always said I was special

December 18th, 2012

With Fifth Gear filming over for the year (two series back to back made 2012 a manic one), I was so chuffed to win an award. I think I’m allowed to call myself the ‘HeadlineAuto Broadcast Journalist Of The Year 2012’. Many thanks to everyone who chose me. It was a massive – but pleasant – shock. I will personally aim to make 2013 even more inspiring, informative and leftfield.

Oh, and if Mrs Carpervert is reading this YES I will be thinning out the hoarded tat in the conservatory via ebay asap. Does anyone want to buy an original Matra Rancho sales brochure?

In 2013 I’ll be trying to drive this thing fast too…

I’ve never done a CV before

November 7th, 2012

Since going freelance in 2006 I’ve (perhaps foolishly, p’raps flukily) never sat down to write a CV.

Ironic, seeing as my job involves a lot of writing. Before a journo there were some college jobs.

I saved up for my first car (the Beetle) by building prawn baguettes at the Safeway coffee shop in Taunton. Before that was Monkton Elm garden centre, Bishops Lydeard Londis check-out (there were two tills), lawn mowing for the ladies in big bungalows nearby (could cut and strim 11 in a weekend at a push). And then there was my favourite – Watermarque aquarium superstore. Happy days. Well, apart from Safeway.

This, then, is my visual CV. Hope you enjoy it. There’s two versions. One for busy people and a longer version for busy-but-more-patient folk.

PS: Enjoy Movember. I’m going all-out for a Selleck style lip slug. Rest assured there’s a 308 GTS on my Christmas list.

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Hello Skyfall

October 27th, 2012

On the right is one of the seven (or 12, depending on who you ask) Landie Defender pick-ups that were used in the 007 flick Skyfall. They were subjected to a good thrashing around an Istanbul market square during a chase that takes place in the opening 15 minutes of the film.

I won’t ruin it for anyone, but I can say that the Defenders were converted to petrol engines with auto boxes (and an ECU tweak), together with uprated shocks and front wheels spaced out by 7-inches. The latter was to cope with a stunt driver’s cage mounted on the roof.  If this info is bobbins then blame the film’s stunt guru – Chris Corbould. He’s done a few Bond films now. His favourite 007 screen challenge? The ice driving missile firing very green Jag XKR roadster in Die Another Day. It was converted to 4WD, but you probably already knew that.

Skyfall’s automotive stunts are much more believable. The baddies tool around in Audis. There are no new Astons on screen, but I can vouch for how comfy M’s long wheel base XJ Jag is. I snored in it all the way back from the preview screening.