Category Archives: Events

Jeep Comanche concept

Jeep unveils butch Comanche concept pick-up: a potential winner?

Here in the UK, Jeep is best-known for its upmarket American-style SUVs. But in the USA, the company has a devout following of off-road enthsuiasts.

Many of these loyal fans come together in Moab, Utah each spring for the Jeep Safari event. This year is the 50th annual Jeep Safari and will coincide with the company’s 75% anniversary. So it’s a big deal.

To market the occasion, Jeep has come up with an extra-special range of rugged concept vehicles, all of which will be in action at the Easter Jeep Safari. Top of the list for a vehicle which might actually be a viable production model is the muscular Comanche pick-up, which is based on the current Jeep Renegade:

Jeep Comanche concept

The Jeep Comanche concept is based on a Jeep Renegade but with some modifications…

The Comanche’s “Beige Against the Machine” concept exterior paint is accented with a Satin Black hood, a concept lower front fascia, winch, steel rear bumper, soft top, and spare tire in the bed. The wheelbase has been stretched an additional six inches versus a production Renegade to accommodate Comanche’s 5-foot bed.

Inside, the Comanche features custom seat covers, pedal covers, door sill guards, and Mopar all-weather mats. Jeep Performance Parts like off-road rock rails, a 2-inch lift kit and a winch bolster the Comanche’s off-road capability. The Comanche rolls on 16-inch painted wheels and 32-inch BF-Goodrich All Terrain T/A tyres.

However, what’s most interesting (remembering that this is the USA, home of big engines and cheap petrol) is that the Jeep Comanche is powered by a 2.0-liter diesel I-4 engine, mated Jeep’s smooth 9-speed automatic transmission.

Is Jeep using this year’s event to try and persuade their most loyal customers that small, modern diesels are man enough to power these big off roaders?

Maybe not…

One of the other models due to be in action at the Jeep Safari is the Jeep Trailcat. Based on the Jeep Wrangler, the Trailcat is being billed as the ultimate off-road machine. Shoe-horned under the bonnet is a 6.2-liter HEMI Hellcat V-8 engine, mated to a 6-speed manual transmission.

This result is a 707-horsepower beast that rides on 39.5-inch BF-Goodrich Krawler tyres, front and rear Dana 60 axles and Fox shocks. Subtle isn’t the word, but Jeep reckons that the interior is “simple yet functional”.

Jeep Trailcat 2016

The Jeep Trailcat is a one-off concept for the 2016 Jeep Safari. Based on a Jeep Wranger, it features a 6.2-liter HEMI V8 and 39.5″ tyres.

Wayback Wednesday: Vintage Ford Transits Plus One Of Vauxhall’s Finest…

It’s a quiet day today — perhaps because with election day tomorrow, anyone wanting press coverage might be holding off until there are fewer distractions around.

However, the lull in serious news has provieded me with a great opportunity to publish some photos of classic commercial vehicles — last weekend saw the Simply Ford event take place at Beaulieu, bringing together a stunning range of vintage Fords, including a number of vans:

First up is Tasha Rose’s impressive 1969 Transit Campervan, complete with unique Jimi Hendrix-inspired artwork. Are you experienced?

Tash Rose Hendrix Ford Transit Campervan

Next up is one of the legends of the Transit world — and always a major crowd pleaser, the V8-powered Transit Supervan 3:

Ford Transit Supervan 3 at Simply Ford '15

The V8-powered Ford Transit Supervan 3 at Simply Ford 2015. That bloke at the back — he’s looking at the engine, which is mounted in the load bay in this fire-breathing one-off…

The Transit Supervan 3 only seems to have been on static display at Beaulieu last weekend — it was fired up several times, but not driven. However, this beast does go — here’s a video clip of the Transit Supervan 3 in action at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2013, in the hands of former BTCC driver Anthony Reid:

What about Vauxall?

By sheer coincidence, today also marks the day when General Motors — the owner of Vauxhall — becomes the first car manufacturer in the world to produce 500 million vehicles.

A significant number of these have been British-built Vauxhalls, such as the new Vivaro: the Luton-based firm has been owned by GM for 90 years, but the UK is GM’s fourth-largest market, and many Vauxhall models are designed and built in the UK, for the UK and European markets.

Today’s Vauxhall’s are civilised and sensible models, suitable for modern life — but it wasn’t always thus. Here are a couple of wartime specials which were built at the firm’s Luton plant, where today, the Vivaro is built:

Vauxhall D-Type WW1 Staff Car

The Vauxhall D-Type Staff Car was made for the British Army during WW1.

Vauxhall also made an important contribution during WWII, when it built the Churchill tank at the Kimpton Road plant:

The Vauxhall-built Churchill tank

The Vauxhall-built Churchill tank was one of the heaviest tanks used in WWII

That’s all for today — normal service will be resumed once the dust has settled after tomorrow’s General Election. is neutral when it comes to politics, but I would encourage everyone to vote — as my French teacher used to say at school, “use it or lose it”…

Austin 7 Rally Delivers Commercial Theme in 2014

Austin 7 van

A ‘C Type’ Austin 7 Commercial Van

Butcher, baker, candlestick maker… whichever of these trades you were involved in, if you operated a delivery van in the 1920s or 1930s, there’s a good chance it was an Austin Seven — one of the original vans.

The Austin 7, the ‘baby’ Austin, was the first truly mass-produced British car and between 1922 and 1939 some 290,000 were built.

Today, enthusiasm for owning an Austin 7 is as strong as ever and the National Austin 7 rally never fails to attract a strong entry from all over the UK and Europe.

The theme for this year’s rally is ‘Commercial Austin 7s’, and some wonderful examples will join the hundreds of vehicles on display at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu on the 6th July, 2014.

The official rally is on the Sunday but many entrants take advantage of overnight camping to make a weekend of the event. On the Saturday there is an organised run around the New Forest followed by an evening barbecue. Austins form the core of the event, but all tax-exempt historic vehicles of all makes are invited to attend and will have a designated parking area on the rally field.

Visitors to the Beaulieu attraction on the day can also see the rally and the venue makes for an ideal day out for all the family. Beaulieu is home to a wide variety of attractions and the rally entry ticket also gives access to the historic Palace House and gardens and the National Motor Museum.

For more information on Beaulieu, visit For more information and entry forms for the rally, visit

British Gas Targets £1m For Great Ormond Street With Ford

British Gas Swims Britain Transit Custom

British Gas is hoping to raise £1m for Great Ormond Street with its Swims Britain challenge.

British Gas is hoping to raise £1m for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity this summer, with the British Gas “Swims Britain” challenge, which aims to encourage thousands of its staff members to take part in swimming challenges around the UK.

Challenges will take place throughout the UK, from Windsor in the south of England, up to Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland.

“It’s a massive challenge,” said British Gas sponsorship manager Matthew Leopold. “We want to get all of the British Gas team involved in this huge charity swimming event, from office and sales staff, to the engineers in the power stations and the people out driving their Ford Transit vans every day.”

As I reported recently, British Gas is a big fan of the Ford Transit and recently purchased 520 new Transits, so what better vehicle to support the Swims Britain challenge than a customised Ford Transit Custom?

“We wanted a vehicle that British Gas staff could relate to but could provide added comfort and flexibility, and the Ford Tourneo Custom fits the bill perfectly,” said Matthew.

The aquatic-themed Ford Tourneo Custom, a long wheelbase model, is powered by a Dagenham-built 125PS 2.2-litre TDCi diesel engine. The vehicle is well-equipped for the UK tour, with nine seats, a 230-volt power converter and Ford’s satellite navigation system.

Vans For Charity – Ford & VW Help Out

Vans are most often connected with relentless and unglamorous hard work – but there are exceptions. Two heart-warming stories involving vans popped into my inbox today, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Swans In Transit

Ford Transit and Swans of Wells

First up is Ford dealer Allen Ford of Bath, which has lent a long wheelbase, high roof Transit to event organiser Megan Witty, who is running the ‘Swans of Wells 2012’ public art initiative this summer, which is being run in celebration of the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

The initiative will see the 5ft tall swans, each individually decorated by local artists, sited around Wells between the end of May and September. Each of the 60 swans will be sponsored by local businesses.

Organiser Megan Witty explains the logistical challenges involved:

“All the swans have to be delivered to the individual artists, then collected and distributed around the city, and moved here, there and everywhere during the summer,” she said. “We were desperate for a suitably sized van and so very grateful that Allen Ford has been able to help.”

Allen Ford business manager Gary Milkins said the Bath dealer was happy to assist: “We loaned a Transit when Megan staged a similar event two years ago – the Lions of Bath – and it was a roaring success, attracting tourists to the city and raising money for local charities. It is great to be able to help once again.”

On 22 May the swans will make their first public appearance in Wells, along the route the Olympic torch will take through the city. They will then go on general display at sites across Wells from 28 May before being auctioned for charity on 29 September. The similar Lions of Bath 2010 event raised £65,000 for good causes.

Find out more at

Transporter Does ’92 In 92′

Volkswagen Transporter T5

A Volkswagen Transporter will carry Tim Spencer and his team to all 92 football league clubs in 92 hours!

Football fan Tim Spencer from Dorset was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure four years ago. He’s hoping to receive a kidney transplant later this year and is battling to help others with the disease by attempting to raise £25,000 for national charity Kidney Research UK, the UK’s leading kidney disease charity.

As a keen football fan, Tim hit on the idea of visiting all 92 football league clubs in 92 hours – a journey of 2,200 miles around the UK. For a football fan, this could be the ultimate road trip – so what better vehicle to travel in than a Volkswagen Transporter, kindly leant to him by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles UK.

Due to his current health, Tim will be undertaking the challenge with the help of a small team of friends, and will be setting off on Wednesday 18 April from Plymouth Argyle’s Home Park stadium and travelling across the UK before finishing at AFC Bournemouth’s Dean Court on Saturday 21 April.

Tim’s itinerary is available at, plus there will be regular updates via Twitter (#92in92).  In addition, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will also be inviting people to join in some fun challenges on its Facebook page during Tim’s journey with the chance to win a pair of football tickets. Full details will be posted at

To raise more funds, the challenge also includes two competitions to win an England football T-shirt signed by former England goalkeeper, Peter Shilton.  Full details are available by visiting  Anyone who would like to support Tim directly can also make a donation at

Joe Chettleburgh, Director of Community Giving at Kidney Research UK, said:

“With three million people in the UK at risk of kidney disease, we’re extremely grateful to Tim for the lengths to which he is going to raise money for Kidney Research UK.  It’s going to be a tough challenge for him so we are especially grateful to Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles for supplying a high quality van for his long and tiring journey.” wishes Tim and everyone else involved in ’92 in 92′ the best of luck.

Upcoming Events: BTCC Season Opener & 2012 Pageant Of Power

BTCC race track actionBTCC Season Opens 31st March

It is now less than a month until the start of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).

The first round takes place at Brands Hatch over the weekend of the 31st March – 1st April and indications so far are that nine different makes of car will be on the grid, all of them using the new flame-spitting, turbocharged engines that form part of the Next Generation Touring Car specification.

The 2012 BTCC title race will take place at nine top race circuits located in eight different counties throughout the country: Brands Hatch, Kent (1 Apr & 21 Oct); Donington Park, Derbys-Leics border (15 Apr); Thruxton, Hants (29 Apr), Oulton Park, Cheshire (10 June); Croft, North Yorks (24 June); Snetterton, Norfolk (12 Aug); Knockhill, Fife (26 Aug); Rockingham, Northants (23 Sept) and Silverstone, Northants (7 Oct).

Another of the BTCC’s massive appeals, notably among families, is that admission to all ten of its race weekends is FREE for accompanied children (age limits vary). This includes access to specially organised pit lane autograph sessions with the star drivers plus, at most events, the race teams’ central paddock.

Brands Hatch’s big BTCC weekend (31 March-1 April) will also include the first races of 2012 for the hotly-contested Ginetta Junior, Ginetta GT Supercup, Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Formula Renault and Renault Clio Cup championships that represent the very best in single-seater, sports and saloon car action. Nicolas Hamilton and Josh Hill – respectively the younger brother and son of Formula 1 champions Lewis Hamilton and Damon Hill – will be among those on the Clio Cup and Formula Renault starting grids.

Tickets for the event are still available at discounted prices including £25 per adult for Sunday’s main race day. For all ticketing options for the event visit Admission is FREE for children aged 12 and under all weekend.

For a full list of the BTCC’s 2012 race dates and circuits, visit

Four Aero-Engined Cars At 2012 Pageant Of Power

BMW Brutus - Pageant of Power 2012

The 500bhp, 46-litre BMW Brutus - see it at the Pageant of Power 2012

Did you watch Top Gear on the 4th March (last Sunday)? If so, you will have seen ‘Brutus’ in action – the fabulous 46-litre, 500bhp aero-engined BMW that was built after WWII using a surplus aeroplane engine!

There will be no fewer than four aero-engined cars at the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power in June, boasting a total of 135 litres of displacement and 2,800bhp. Although it’s still early, I thought I would share this with you while last week’s Top Gear might still be fresh in your mind (and ringing in your ears…).

Other aero-engined cars at the 2012 Pageant of Power will include a 23-litre Maybach Zeppelin (affectionately known as ‘Chitty Bang Bang 1’, one of four celebrated 1920s English race cars believed to have inspired the creation of the fictional Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), the 24-litre Napier-Bentley and the fearsome 42-litre Packard-Bentley.  Including Brutus, the combined power output for these four cars totals more than 2,800bhp.

James Hall, Event Director for the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power, said: “Aero-engined cars are a rare breed, but these are some of the most fascinating and exhilarating machines people are likely to ever encounter.  We can’t wait to see what the crowds make of these unique cars, as there is simply nothing else on the road that can match them for sheer drama.”

Now in its fifth year, the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power will take place on the Cholmondeley Estate in Cheshire from 15 to 17 June. (It’s just off the A534, midway between Wrexham and Crewe.)

A full event schedule and list of participants will be announced over the coming weeks, with Pageant organisers set to reveal some exciting new additions and features for 2012.

To buy tickets or find further information, visit

If you are travelling in a large group to one of these events, why not consider hiring a self-drive minibus to cut down on fuel costs and enable you all to travel together with one driver? Click here to compare minibus hire prices.

2012 IACF Antique Fair Dates – Upcoming Events

People who are not familiar with the antiques business in the UK sometimes ask where the ‘biggest’ or ‘best’ antiques fairs in the UK take place.

When it comes to the biggest antique and collectors fairs in the UK, there is no competition: The International Antiques and Collectors Fair at Newark is the biggest in the UK. It takes place six times a year at the Newark & Nottinghamshire Showground and attracts up to 4,000 stallholders at each event.

Buyers come from all over the UK and from continental Europe and North America – it has a reputation as a trade fair and many buyers are looking for stock for their own antiques businesses, although there are a great many collectors, too.

Organised by IACF, the Newark fair also has a number of siblings, each of which is large in its own right. Here’s a list of each of IACF’s UK fairs, together with its first 2012 date:

  • Newark: 2-3 February
  • Ardingly: 10-11 January
  • Swinderby: 12 March
  • Shepton Mallet: 20-22 January
  • Newbury: 26 March
  • Redbourn: 2 July

Ardingly, Swinderby and Shepton Mallet are all very large and well-established fairs that have been running for decades, and are popular with trade buyers and collectors alike. I’ve been to Newark and Ardingly many times and they are massive – if you are at all interested in antiques and collectables, as a dealer or collectors, they are well worth a visit.

For more details about all IACF fairs, visit

Need to hire a van or minibus for transport to one of the IACF 2012 fairs? Click here to compare van hire quotes.

Autosport International @ Birmingham NEC 12-15 Jan

Autosport International logo and datesAutosport International is Europe’s largest motorsport exhibition. It is aimed at all levels of motorsport – from karting to F1 – and includes the UK’s largest indoor racing track and the F1 Racing Display, providing you with a rare chance to see Formula One cars up close and personal.

You’ll be able to get some hands-on experience on the kart track and in some advanced motorsport simulators, while the Live Action Arena provides the opportunity to see the experts at work with racing, stunt driving, drifting and celebrity guest stars.

The arena seats 4,700 people and there are six shows a day on the 14th and 15th – so there is no danger of missing out on the chance to see rallycross cars, historic cars, drift cars and much more.

Lotus F1 car at Autosport InternationalThere will also be a wide range of exhibitors and other special events – see the Autosport International website for full details and ticket prices.

Autosport International 2012 takes place from the 12th – 15th January 2012 at the Birmingham NEC.

For full details visit

Need to hire a van or minibus for transport to Autosport International? Click here to compare van hire quotes.

X Factor Live Tour 2012 Dates & Venues – Book Early!

At HQ, the X Factor usually gets more votes than Strictly. After last weekend’s disappointing eviction of Misha B, we’re left with a trio of talented contestants battling it out for the honour of winning X Factor 2011.

Who will triumph – girl band Little Mix, Louis’ favourite, Amelia Lily, or former Liverpudlian hairdresser Marcus Collins?

The final showdown will take place at Wembley Arena this Sunday, but you do not have to leave it until then to book your X Factor Live Tour tickets for 2012 – tickets are already selling like hot cakes and availability is limited at each venue, so get in early.

Nine acts* will be performing on the X Factor Live Tour: Amelia Lily, Misha B, Kitty Brucknell, Marcus Collins, Johnny Robinson, Craig Colton, Little Mix, The Risk and Janet Devlin.

Here are the dates and venues* for the X Factor Live Tour – remember that some of these dates have two shows, one in the afternoon and one in the evening:

If you’re planning a trip with a group of friends to an X Factor Live event, there’s no doubt the best way to get there is in a minibus. Click here for an instant minibus hire quote.

  • Manchester MEN Arena: 25/02/2012
  • Liverpool Echo Arena: 27/02/2012
  • Nottingham Capital FM Arena: 29/02/2012
  • London Wembley Arena: 03/03/2012 – 04/03/2012
  • Dublin O2 Arena: 06/03/2012 – 07/03/2012
  • Belfast Odyssey Arena: 09/03/2012 – 10/03/2012
  • Aberdeen ECC: 13/03/2012
  • Glasgow SECC: 17/03/2012
  • Newcastle Metro Radio Arena: 19/03/2012
  • Sheffield Motorpoint Arena: 21/03/2012
  • Birmingham LG Arena: 24/03/2012 – 25/03/2012
  • Brighton Centre: 27/03/2012 – 28/03/2012
  • London O2 Arena: 31/03/2012
  • Cardiff Motorpoint Arena: 03/04/2012 – 04/04/2012

For full details, visit

*Please note that all details and dates are correct to the best of our knowledge – but cannot be held responsible for errors or cancellations. Please check before you make any transport arrangements.

Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour Dates – Book Your Minibus Now

The last few years has seen the television ratings battle between The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing become something of a pre-Christmas ritual.

If you keep your TV firmly tuned to the Beeb, then you may be planning on seeing a show on the Strictly Come Dancing live tour, which starts on the 20th January 2012 and runs through to the 26th February 2012.

Events like this are always more fun in a group – so if you are planning a group trip to see Strictly live, then you may want to consider hiring a minibus to get you to the event. That way, you only need one Des(ignated driver) and the rest can enjoy a drink during the interval and a natter en route. In addition, everyone stays together, you only have one parking charge to pay and your fuel bills will probably be less than they would for two or more cars.

Here are the dates for the 2012 Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour – many of these dates have two shows per day, a matinee and an evening performance, so family-friendly travel times should be possible:

  • Birmingham NIA: 20/01/2012 – 22/01/2012
  • Nottingham Arena: 24/01/2012 – 25/01/2012
  • London Wembley Arena: 27/01/2012
  • London O2 Arena: 28/01/2012 – 29/01/2012
  • Manchester Arena: 31/01/2012 – 01/02/2012
  • Sheffield Arena: 02/02/2012 – 03/02/2012
  • Liverpool Arena: 04/02/2012 – 05/02/2012
  • Newcastle Arena: 07/02/2012 – 09/02/2012
  • Glasgow SECC: 10/02/2012 – 12/02/2012
  • Cardiff (Motorpoint Arena): 15/02/2012 – 19/02/2012
  • Dublin O2 Arena: 22/02/2012 – 23/02/2012
  • Belfast Oddyssey: 24/02/2012 – 26/02/2012

For full details, visit

Please note that all details and dates are correct to the best of our knowledge – but cannot be held responsible for errors or cancellations. Please check before you make any transport arrangements.