As sure as the River Lee running through Cork City, summer to the motoring enthusiast means the annual Volkswagen Audi Group Enthusiasts Show and Shine in Fermoy Co. Cork. In the interests of full disclosure I have to admit to having an inside track on this subject, as I made a small contribution to the organizing this year.
2018 brings about the 16th edition of the VAGE Show and Shine from the Corrin Events centre.
Over the years there’s been a change in the venue from time to time, but no change in substance. The show has always maintained it’s laid-back vibe and atmosphere. Make no mistake, that approach is by design and not accident, the club will tell you the show is as much a chance for them to meet up with good friends from around the country as it is for guys and gals attending.
As with any outdoor event, the show is always dependent on the weather to play ball, and in one of the driest summers in years, surely there was no cause for concern…well maybe a little! In nearly a carbon copy of the 2017 show, the day started out overcast and drizzly, but as lunchtime approached the weather final started to co-operate. Summer was once again alive at the VAGE show.
That said the early morning weather didn’t deter car enthusiasts the land over. A steady stream made their way to the grounds throughout the morning and into the early afternoon. Strong attendance from clubs like Autostadt, MLVW, GTINI and DB Dailys really added to the atmosphere. Show sponsors George Dalton Revo and D&D Detailing Gtechniq also put on a fantastic display of high quality motors.
In recent years the show has open up to become an all German show, why should the VAG gang have all the fun they thought? It turned out to be an inspired decision as the quality of BMW, Opel and Mercedes on display was phenomenal. It just goes to show that you don’t know what little gems are tucked away through out the land.
Case in point was the beautiful 1979 Mk1 Opel Kadett that picked up the runner up car in show award. Talking to the owner after picking up their prize, I found out that it was only the cars 2nd spin in 12 months. The weather had cleared enough for them to make the spin down and it paid dividends!
Winner of the best in show was the beautiful little mk1 VW Derby coupe. A fantastic car and a credit to its owner. It’s reassuring to know that these great cars are still knocking around the place and long may it last! Owning motors like these must be closer to a vocation than a hobby such is the level of detail and love gone into them. I’d hate to be trying to find parts for them!
So another year down for the VAGE show, and the future looks bright. Like the economy there seems to be a real bounce in the car scene in Ireland lately, long may it last.
Here’s to VAGE 2019, we hear the weather is going to great!
In the latest episode of the garage life the guys are waiting for parts to arrive back for Shanes Mazda Rx7. In the meantime, they finally start on the Mk2 Gti Golf project.
They get the car on the ramp to see how bad the rust is and it the project worth doing… make sure to subscribe to channel to keep up with the latest
Like all things garage related things dont go to plan. In this video the team remove the engine gearbox and diff from the Mazda Rx7.
The engine is going for a rebuild after 3 years of racing.
The gearbox…well stay tuned
The diff is just going back to a standard Mazda diff to suit the ratios of the new gearbox.
You can subscribe to the guys here – www.youtube.com/freshfixnet
They are also on instagram – https://www.instagram.com/the_garage_life/
Word association is a fabulous thing, and entirely subjective to personal taste, education or interest. It’s the natural reaction of bringing any number of random thoughts to the forefront of your mind at even the slightest stimulus. It’s a fascinating phenomenon, and its study can tell all manner of things about a person. Play word association as a petrol head and it’s likely to conjure up vivid insights into car culture at large. Say Honda to someone with a lust for all things JDM, and chances are the word Civic will pop up much quicker than something like Prelude or Stream, but then other words follow on as the association runs deeper. In a typically Japanese sense of rigid formality, two other 5 letter words have become synonymous with lovers of Honda’s humble economy car, they being Osaka and Kanjo!!Even Better is this Kanjo Civic
On the face of things, Osaka appears to be just like a number of other large Japanese cities. Built around a large port similar in size to Yokohama, the City has swelled as people flock to live and work in a true Economic hub. With a population of 19 million, second only to Tokyo, Osaka seems rather mundane. Attractions run to a few amusement parks and museums, as well as art galleries and sports teams, but shopping is one of the largest draws. It’s always seemed to me that Osaka is Japan’s fashionable hub, where individual style plays a large role for locals. Yet, at night, Osaka is home to a totally different attraction that is secretive, illegal and intoxicating in equal amounts.
Circling the heart of the city is the Hanshin Expressway, an almost 9 mile stretch of road elevated above the city streets as an orbital route for weary commuters. Think of it as Osaka’s M50 and you get the idea. During the day, the road is clogged with countless thousands of people on their way to and from the city centre, but once darkness falls, it becomes the playground of the Kanjo Racers!
As a race highly regarded for its very meticulous approach to structure and organisation, the Japanese sure know, almost better than most, how to just disconnect from the monotony of life and go out and find pure enjoyment. The size and variety of the domestically produced vehicular output means this escape can be seen in all manner of quirky Japanese ways of enjoying car culture. The Bosozoku guys get that buzz from massively over the top styling and excessive noise, as well as ever pushing the boundaries of camber and sensibility. While this might never have caught on elsewhere, imagine what the few guys out sliding their Corolla’s around mountain roads in the 80’s would have thought if you said their quest get away from it all would turn into a worldwide mainstream sport with professional teams and drivers. While drifting and tuning in Japan are designed to show off, the Kanjo is at the other end of the spectrum.
Much like those mad men that gained notoriety racing at huge speeds around Tokyo’s Wangan Expressway in the 90’s, the Kanjo is mired in secrecy and all that goes on happens very much in the shadows. At the dead of night, countless drivers take to the Loop and make it their racetrack, with other cars becoming no more than obstacles to be navigated around. The Honda Civic has become the ultimate weapon of choice, as the nimble front-drive hatch has become engrained in Kanjo folklore, as countless hockey mask wearing driver’s use every last drop of V-Tec power to become the fastest. This is pure lunacy, and naturally law enforcement takes a very dim view on these antics. Stories go that cars can appear to race week after week in all manner of new paint schemes to avoid detection or to conceal the identity of the driver.
The Kanjo is an expression of style and a massive, noisy two fingered salute to the system. These guys are sticking it to the man every time they enter the slip road under the glare of the street lights. The cars themselves are as un-apologetic as the people involved, with pure function taking precedent over form. While some of the few available pictures of the Kanjo racers may depict well maintained Civics of a variety of generation, the reality is these cars are often hacked together simply to go fast, and fit and finish up close can certainly leave a lot to be desired. Then again get up close with any drift car and it’s usually the very same story, where owners know that getting the car to perform far out ways aesthetics.
But while we could daydream for hours of Civics buzzing around darkened Expressways with limiters bouncing off tunnel walls, the reality is that we lie nearly 9000 miles away on the other side of the world. Us Irish share a lot with our Japanese brethren, both island nations not overly fond of their neighbours and boasting centuries of unique heritage. We have soaked up the automotive offerings from the land of the rising sun unlike almost anyone else, with countless square plated imports roaming our streets on a daily basis, from mundane people carriers to high performance weapon. But here I am standing on the docks in Cork on an overcast Sunday looking at possibly the most anticipated arrival to our shore in quite some time!
To see a Kanjo inspired Civic is generally very cool, as their distinctive race car style and large rear wings are a sight to behold, but actually getting up-close with a genuine one is a rare treat. As I said earlier, these cars are built to race, so many are pushed until they can give no more and then the carcasses are picked over for any re-useable part. Seeing a complete car leaving Japan is uncommon, but when Domie Morey spotted this in the JDM auctions he knew full well that this was the ultimate Honda to add to long history of cars from the brand.
The thing that grabs you visually from any distance is the vibrant colour scheme and the distinctive Motul Oil livery. First seen on the 1987 JTCC Honda Civic, this colour scheme has adorned some of the most successful racecars to have taken to the likes of Fuji Speedway or Suzuka. This car is an EF model Civic, and the paint work is just that, actually, properly finished paint. Everything about this car is designed to stand out, and that is certainly achieved as countless heads turn to look as we get through the shoot.
While the paint scheme steals all the attention, the bodywork it adorns is pretty much bog standard and exactly as it left the factory 27 years ago. Each corner is adorned by 16 inch BuddyClub P1 wheels finished in what appears to be the same bright white as the car itself, while another P1 sits in the boot showing signs that it has seen action at some point.
Inside, sparse would be a kind description. Devoid of any manner of sound deadening or carpet, Domie reluctantly declares that it’s quite a rattly and noisy place to be. In true racecar-spec, the interior floor genuinely looks like it was painted with a roller brush, and little if any care was taken when what appear to have been a screwdriver or hammer was used to hack a hole for the roll cage through the dash. While the passenger is given nothing more than a flimsy looking original seat, a properly mounted Bride LowMax along with a Sabelt harness keeps the driver pinned in place, with the response from the front wheels fed through a Fujitsubo Racing steering wheel.
Pop the Motul liveried bonnet and there’s certainly no wheezy 1300cc Single Carb unit lurking beneath. Sitting proud is the much vaulted B16 lump, ultimately regarded as one of the greatest affordable performance engines of all time, and while the full internal spec is unknown, there are clues all around the bay that give rise to this Civics savage acceleration. An all new larger Mugen head is an obvious sign of work done, as is the Cusco strut brace and aftermarket ECU, but delve deeper and you find a stainless Jasma manifold and other details.
Listening to the Civic both at idle and flying past, you would very easily be mistaken for thinking there was nothing connected to the end of the manifold, and truthful there isn’t much! A complete straight through is routed beautifully under the car, with a Jasma back box sitting out the rear. Full BC coilovers at every corner keeps the EF planted to the ground, and it appears that they can only adjusted lower when Domie investigated.
While we may have countless more expensive or quicker cars that have rolled off the boats from Asia, all it took was a single camera phone picture of this car from Dublin Docks that sent the Internet pretty much into a frenzy. There is nothing out there that ties together a unique style, a story and a sense of hard-core driving and manages to pull it off. Most don’t understand it, but like everything in car culture, just appreciate it for what it is. Ireland need more nutters like Domie, who in a good way dedicate themselves to a certain style and aren’t afraid to make their dreams a reality and bring some of the coolest cars ever seen to these shores!!
Winter is such an odd time. All the glory and success of the last year is parked in a corner, cars are rolled into garages, spanners earn their keep and generally everyone presses a big reset button. As the days shorten to nothing more than a quick blast of sunlight and the roads descend into a grimy hell, plans are a-brewing. year is the very same. Be it tinkering with new parts, dealing in new cars or even deciding on which events & championships to attack, the rally community keeps ticking over at a ferocious paces. Rumours swirl of who has placed orders on the latest machinery while the various graphics shops only whet the appetite with snippets of new liveries. But then it’s time for Galway Internationl 2017, the talking and shadow boxing is over, the cobwebs are rubbed off and it’s time to launch full tilt into 2017.
A traditional curtain raiser, the Galway International is the opening round of the Irish Tarmac Championship, as well as a number of smaller regional championships, and has long been the place where the masses could cop eyes on the latest cutting edge rally machinery as they got their first blast on Irish Tar. Scrutiny on the Friday was long the go-to spot for all the unveilings, although the rise of the internet makes any surprises almost common knowledge before the covered trailers are cracked open for the first time. Sitting with the coveted No. 1 on the door was Garry Jennings in his Subaru Impreza S12 WRC. Last year’s winner, Jennings has become a sporadic sight on the stages, although watching him at full, often very sideways, chat is special. Although now quite an aging car against its rivals, the Scooby is still an incredibly potent package.
Right behind Garry on the road were a pair of Fiesta WRC’s of Declan Boyle & Roy White. Although none of the WRC men were eligible to score championship points, each came West with strong desires to perform well and get mileage on the cars before tackling the National Series. White, last year’s National winner was on the pace right from the start in the older Fiesta, but it was Boyle in the 2015 spec car that was neck and neck with Jennings at the head of the time sheets early on. Unfortunately for Declan, he seems to always either end up at the head of the pack or suffering from problems, with very little between them. This time around, his Galway charge would end on Saturday afternoon with an engine issue that couldn’t be sorted in Service.
Being the 1st round of the ITRC meant that all those with title aspirations crossed the start ramp, led by last year’s runner-up Alistair Fisher, driving a new Ford Fiesta R5. A string of similar cars followed with the Moffett brothers Sam & Josh in a pair of distinctive R5’s, Stephen Wright was in another and Stephen McCann debuted a high revving S2000 Fiesta. A surprise late entrant was Robert Barrable in yet another R5 Fiesta. Robert was one of the first people to embrace the new-era of cars, when he bought a Skoda Fabia S2000 in 2011, winning the West Cork, and even pushed Craig Breen right to the edge at the 2015 Circuit of Ireland, but this was a return to the stages after 20 months away.
Also towards the front, all manner of new driver and car combo’s got a first outing. Aaron MacHale had swapped an S2000 Fabia for last year’s championship winning Citroen DS3 R5, although his event would come to an end on Saturday. Paul Rowley had gone the same route from a Skoda to a Citroen, while Brendan Cumiskey had traded the Fiesta for an R5 Fabia. Joseph McGonigle was pushing the lovely Maxol-liveried Skoda hard all weekend, while Johnny Green had a redesigned DS3 yet there were eyes looking elsewhere among the International field.
Towards the end of last year, Ford WRC outfit M-Sport announced their involvement in a brand new junior rally programme revolving around the Fiesta R2 National. Based on a 1L Turbocharged Fiesta, and sounding distinctly like a Porsche, this is a route designed to get younger drivers onto the ladder of progression through the sport. While there has been no talk of who has committed to the idea as of yet, Jon Armstrong, a regular competitor at Junior WRC level, was sent out to put on a bit of a show in the all new car, and that he certainly did!
Now, when getting ready for the trip to Galway, there’s two things to expect. The first is that there’ll be new cars to ogle, the other being that it’s going to be cold, and damp and very muddy!! It’s just the way it is. Stonewalls turn black from wheel spray, and standing on Stage 1 it’s clear that nearly every car is scrabbling for any semblance of grip on the shiny tarmac. It seems a real battle to get power down, and the rear-wheel drive modified crew only highlight this. A once solid roadside bank becomes nothing more than a collection of mud and shards of Ford Escort rear lights as all manner of approaches to a slow hairpin right turns into an arse out show for the masses of spectators.
The National section of the rally encompasses all manner of modified machinery, but is naturally dominated by fast Escorts. Gary Kiernan, Damien Tourish, Pat McHugh and countless others were pushing hard all weekend, with the battle for the spoils ending with 1.6 seconds in Kiernan’s favour. Liam Howlett was his ever sideways self when passing on SS1, but alas it was yet another meeting of Big Red and a solid ditch that would end their run on the second test. The distinctive pair of BMW’s of Eugene Meegan and Richard Whelan added a bit of variety, but it was a Corolla Twincam of Kevin Eves who grabbed the final podium spot.
Further down the pack, countless personal battles raged from those looking to take class honours to Art McCarrick simply wanting to finish a rally for the first time! His C-Sport Civic was among a number of rapid Honda’s being pushed hard, and Declan Boyle’s son Michael debuted his newly built EG Hatch. The choice to get left-hand drive is a serious statement of intention as the young Donegal man looks to be gunning for Marty Gallagher or Will Creighton in homologated R2 machinery at some point.
Following a rally can be easy enough, and all it takes is a decent sense of direction with a map and in no time you can be running from stage to stage, buy when taking pictures, I prefer to go deeper into a stage and stroll away from the busy junctions. Where’s the fun in standing at a bale chicane, when a mile down the road you have a personal view as the cars come over a blind crest into a 200m straight. Its bliss as cars fly past inches away at over 100mph, a rare sight on wat is definitely one of the tighter and twistier rallies. The stone lined roads seem a myriad of junctions and turns, and the relative flat landscape makes standing water a definite issue.
The Historic Championship, which kicked off last December in Killarney, was sparse on competitors but certainly didn’t lack in spectacle or commitment. A pair of German visitors brought along some beautiful sounding Porsche 911’s, while Galway’s Frank Cunningham had jaws dropping with his BMW M3, but it was a familiar Escort battle between Ernie Graham and Gareth Lloyd setting the pace. Graham took the win this time, but expect plenty of dicing between the pair all year.
The weather, cold but mainly fine on Saturday, came into play with a vengeance on Sunday morning. Ice covered the stages, and the first loop was cancelled on safety grounds. Coupled with a stage shortage caused by a disgruntled resident, the Sunday blast turned into a sprint to the finish. After being pushed early on by Boyle, Garry Jennings had plenty of breathing room once his rival retired. A very controlled drive saw the red Subaru crossing the winner’s ramp yet again with nearly 60 seconds to spare. Roy White brought his Fiesta home in second to secure a WRC 1-2, but he only had 8 seconds to spare over Ali Fisher. Although 3rd, Fisher heads to Clonakilty in a few weeks with maximum Championship points before Round 2 the West Cork Rally. Sam Moffett got second, while Barrable has committed to further events after finishing 3rd in the championship runners.
And so we’re off. 2017 is go, we have the first big event of the year in the books and now it’s time for planning all over again. No matter where in the country, a rally will be close at some stage, and the merry band of drivers, crews and fans will descend no matter the time or weather!