PH Blog: Brands spanking

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!


Comments (25) Join the discussion on the forum

  • sarah38 04 Jul 2012

    The full Brands GP circuit is fantastic, its such a shame they let us use it so little. I've been out on it twice in my race-prepped 205 GTI. My fav corner, and prob in my top 3 of all uk circuits, is Sterlings Bend - The left before the run to Clearways! Enjoy it PH people!

  • CDP 03 Jul 2012

    dapearson said:
    CDP said:
    It won't fit will it?
    Yes. All you need to do is take the rubber trim off the back doors. It's tight, but a caterham will fit without removing the rear wings.

    The van needs to be a LWB model too. The nosecone will then be about an inch or two away from the bulkhead.

    Several people that race use this setup. You can sleep in the van once the car is out, plus you can do 70mph on the way there/back. You also don't need to have a licence for towing (if you passed after 1996).

    Discreet too. No flashy covered trailer to attract attention.
    How wide is the Caterham? It's just I've got a Locost and being able to stuff one in the back of a panel van would be really useful. Saves mucking about with the trailer and those Citroens are pretty cheap. It's the same as the Fiat isn't it?

  • Gorbyrev 03 Jul 2012

    Enjoy your T5. I was reminded last night how much grip these things really have driving the A68 back to the home of scenery and driver's roads last night. £40K is perfectly possible with a few well chosen upgrades (Bilstein's anyone?) and the 180hp twin turbo engine. These things ain't cheap anymore, but they are far more capable than their predecessors. As for the Se7en, I'm guessing that is an R300 in the back, very nice.

  • Donkey62 03 Jul 2012

    Even though the full track is rarely used it's fairly grippy in the wet and dry is about the same. GP circuit is fantastic chance to pull some higher speeds up through the trees round the back past Hawthorne Hill with its elavation changes makes it special for me anyway. Enjoy it and be careful not to out brake yourself Dingle Dell and Sheene curve chasing the throttle which is so inviting.

  • Sivraj 02 Jul 2012

    Bugger you sneeked in first,
    Just picked up my T4 camper conversion this weekend (no where near £40,000)with plans to build and MEV exocet (£3- £4000)for a bit of on/off track fun. Maybe even a little two wheel fun if the funds allow (maybe and old blade or R1).
    Let me know how you get on or if you have any trouble with your trailer (recomendations would be welcome on the security side).smokin

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