Category Archives: Competitions

Yamaha XT500 Paris-Dakar

Before the eighties had fully taken hold of the aesthetic; long before the availability of factory specced adventure tourers; before bloat-tanked Ténérés had littered the byways of Europe and beyond; before superbikes with full fairings and colourways like toothpaste brands - there was the one pot thumper.

And the most resonant expression of this simple design was the Yamaha XT500.

The launch of the XT500 was a bold punt on the part of Yamaha - who had responded to the American thirst for a simple, rigged and reliable long distance trail bike by producing the four stroke, 500cc single.

Though at the time these burbling simpletons were generally considered to be past their sell-by date - Yamaha innovated by using lightweight materials such as magnesium for the crank case and aluminium for the fuel tank. There was also a newly designed cradle frame as well as an integral oil tank.

When you threw these elements into the mix the XT's slim, rugged frame was more than able to deal with the thumping up-and-down vibration of the single cylinder. A few years after its initial appearance in 1975, the bike eventually caught the imagination of riders in the European market like wildfire.

The XT won the first two places in the inaugural Paris-Dakar Rally in 1979 and then placed in all the top four spots in the 1980 event. A new generation of fans with a passion for adventure motorcycling was born all over Europe- and the team colours to which they aspired was the sky blue of the Yamaha team.

Yamaha's soon-to-be-ubiquitous Ténéré brand grew out of the XT500 - and would become synonymous with the word adventure among European motorcycle fans in the years to come.

There's a simple rawness to the Paris-Dakar specced version of the XT (above) - and this rawness is reflected in the video below.

Makes you want to dump the Tom Tom and head out into the wilderness.

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Grand Prix, 1966

There's been a lot of stuff written about Le Mans, Steve McQueen's 1971 classic portrayal of endurance racing. Sure, it was a brilliantly gritty portrayal of the scene and featured the Coolest Man in the World. But for us, Jon Frankenheimer's 1966 feature Grand Prix does all the things that Le Mans does, but slightly better and with an understated style.

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With a budget of around nine million dollars and some of the most incredible action photography ever shot: the film's look and feel was augmented by maestro of the title sequence Saul Bass. And though the plot line and the acting, even from non-professional driving stars like James Garner is fundamentally hokey - it matters little.

Because what you're really watching this movie for three other things: the brilliant titles and graphic montages; the power and the glory of the action sequences; and last but no means least, the beautiful, ear-splitting sound.

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Though Bass failed to be rewarded for his title sequences, the movie did pick up the Oscar gongs for Best Film Editing, Best Sound and Best Sound Effects. But curiously, despite its widespread success and obvious visual and aural quality, it remains a relatively obscure classic.

Featuring many of the leading drivers of the year's GP roster, including Graham Hill, Phil Hill, Jim Clark and John Surtees, what the film manages to capture is the grease thick danger and adrenalin of Formula 1 during this era.

And the sequence that features the Spa-Francorchamps circuit (below), is the greatest I have ever seen. This sort of quality footage would be almost impossible to achieve with all the digital tech available today.

Enjoy and marvel at how this was achieved. In glorious celluloid.

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Guess the Car Competition

This competition has now finished, but you can still play for fun.
Keep an eye out for our next competition...

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If you think you know your cars, why not give our competition a go. Below are twenty cars or bits of cars, all you have to do is guess the make and model. Launch the quiz.

Get all twenty right and you can win £250 for yourself and another £250 for the charity of your choice!

But be warned - this quiz is hard, seriously hard. Launch the quiz.

Increase your chance of winning - Get your friends to help, or challenge them to beat your score -

Click on the thumbnail to expand.

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