Monday 2nd July 2012


PH BLOG: BRANDS SPANKING

The 12-wheeled, twin-engined alternative to that new 911 and a date with the Brands GP...


The value of stuff is an ongoing PH obsession. You just have to look at any car review we’ve got on the site and see how quickly someone comes in and kicks off the “How much? You could have a <insert 911 variant, classic BMW M car, possibly even used Ferrari of choice> for that!”

Just like putting your bike on a rack...
Just like putting your bike on a rack...
It’s a game we all like to play of course. On occasion we get the chance to do it for real too, like now. So, you’ve got around £70K to spend on a four-wheeled plaything. What are you thinking? A 997 GT3 perhaps? What about a brand new Jaguar XKR? Or, seeing as we’re really talking a proper, daft plaything how about something like an Ariel Atom, a KTM X-Bow or a Lotus Exige with a whole load of track-friendly bells and whistles?

Or what about half that for a white van? Bear with me here…

Fun as all of the above cars may be the places and opportunities to really enjoy them are becoming ever more limited. There are places in the UK – Scotlandsprings to mind – where you can still enjoy a proper car in some proper landscape. And there are of course plenty of tracks where you can really let it hang out. Sod’s law most of these places are a decent schlep from where many of us live and work. And the realities of driving long distances in these kind of cars to reach terrain on which they can really work doesn’t necessarily add up.

Caterham heard it was our first time towing...
Caterham heard it was our first time towing...
Step up PH’s latest fleet acquisition (OK, temporary acquisition) and just over half of that £70K budget. Yes, it’s a posh van. But even at a fairly burly £40K it leaves plenty of room in the budget for a trailer and something interesting to stick on it. And, much as you might sling your mountain bike on a rack and head to Wales or some skis in the boot and drive to the Alps, we’re going to put that idea to the test with the aid of a trailer and a Caterham.

The pitch is that you use the comfy, leather-upholstered and relatively frugal van for the boring bits of motorway that lead to more interesting places to drive something like a Caterham. In the first instance for us that’ll be the Alps. And then a track or two, kicking off with a visit to Brands Hatch and my first ever go on the full Grand Prix layout.

First chance to drive the full Brands lap...
First chance to drive the full Brands lap...
I’m especially excited about this. I’ve driven the Indy circuit many times. As has anyone who’s done even one track day there. Not like it takes long to get round is it. And I’ve always gazed longingly at the blocked off exit at Surtees leading to Pilgrim’s Drop, Dingle Dell and those other mythical places beyond.

There’s nothing like being told you’re not allowed to do something to make it sound even more enticing and the severe restrictions in place on usage of the GP loop mean opportunities to enjoy it are strictly limited. But Club MSV has kindly agreed to let us have a play and I’ve got some explaining to do when the question of why we’re coming back from our European tour a little early. We’ll be there on 11 July and if you fancy joining us Club MSV still has a few places left.

Brands GP - soon to be featuring PH
Brands GP - soon to be featuring PH
In the meantime I need to get swotting up on my ‘proper Brands’ track knowledge. I’ve been there once for a photoshoot and it looks mega. I can’t wait to give it a proper go in ‘our’ Caterham… Lap videos, advice, links and tips gratefully received if you’ve been lucky enough to drive it already!

Dan

Author: Dan Trent
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