The May Bank Holiday in the UK means only one thing: the BHP Show! Once a year the petrolhead community of Kent and the surrounding counties descend on the Lydden Hill circuit for an orgy of all that’s great and good in the modified car scene.
It features such an eclectic mix of cars that there is always something for everyone. From fast road…
…to full-on rip-snorting race machinery. Local importers and BHP Show regulars SVA Imports were there bright and early with their stunning Time Attack Evo.
The devil is in the detail. There are so many note-worthy features of the car, but the ceramic-coated full race exhaust manifold does it for me every time.
Alongside the Time Attack Evo, SVA brought the double European Drift Championship-winning Nissan 350Z out of retirement for the ‘Luney’ challenge. I’ll go into more detail on this in my next post.
With Lydden Hill being just a few miles from the port of Dover, Evan Thomas dropped in on his way home from the opening round of the 2012 Time Attack championship.
Ford is always particularly well represented at the BHP Show, normally by insanely-powerful MkI and MkII Escorts.
It’s not all about the power though. This nicely-finished Toyota MR2 featured a bespoke interior and a V6 engine that looked like it had been fitted in the factory.
The ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ Trans-Am, Kowalski’s Dodge Challenger and Bond’s DB5 – these cars played such a huge part in their respective movies that I feel they should have had a credit right under Reynolds, Newman and Connery. Of all the great cars from the movies, few are more memorable than Doc Emmett Brown’s elaborate creation: the ‘Back To The Future’ Delorean.
This car is not one of the original cars used in the 1985 movie; it’s actually a recreation built by Universal Studios for the 20th anniversary of ‘Back To The Future’. Built from the original plans, the car is perfect in every detail. Looking at it you could be forgiven for thinking it’s actually capable of time-travel! It was an absolute pleasure to be able to get up close and personal with a true movie legend.
The Rat-look is an acquired taste, and I have seen far too many examples that take the ‘look’ just that step too far, but I think this MkI Caddy has got it spot on – low and ratty with great detailing in the retro suitcase on the roof-rack and lobster pots in the load area.
I have seen this MkI estate ripping up the track in the public track sessions many times, but for BHP 2012 it was restricted to static duties.
This was due to the fitting of a fresh YB Cosworth turbo engine with just a handful of miles on it.
This aggressive Escort looked like it was spoiling for a fight…
Underneath those massive x-pack style arches were huge dished cross-spoke rims shod with wide slick tyres.
To back up the aggressive looks, under the bonnet was a carbon-clad, normally-aspirated Cosworth YB on throttle bodies. The sound was just incredible! A real show-stopper.
A walk up the hill from the paddock were the local car club areas.
Some cars were still showing battle-scars from the opening round of the British Drift Championship.
I have never been into air-cooled VWs, but you have to appreciate the work that goes into creating something like this split-screen camper. Very, very cool.
From the crazy camber on this Beetle…
…to the crazy fitment on this Golf. Two examples of extreme Volkswagen styling.
It was great to see the RK Tuning R32 Skyline take to the track.
I will be looking more closely at the shenanigans on track in another post, but you can read more about this stunning car in Bryn’s Speedhunters feature.
One of the things I love about the BHP Show is the atmosphere. Nothing is out of bounds and nothing is roped-off or hidden away.
If you see an open door, stick your head in and have a look. It’s the perfect way to see exactly what goes into building a truly great car.
Wherever you are around the Lydden Hill circuit you can always get a great view of what’s going on track-side.
Back when I was 17 years old, the car to have was a Ford. Living in middle-England we shunned the dare-I-say-it ‘superior’ hot hatches from Germany in favour of offerings from the Blue Oval. The weapon of choice was the Escort XR3i; if you owned an XR Escort you were undoubtedly cool. If you owned its faster brother, the Escort RS Turbo, then you were uber-cool…
…and if you were lucky enough to be the owner of the legendary Sierra Cosworth, you attained almost god-like status among your petrolhead peers.
Nestled in the middle of the fast-Ford range was an ultra-rare and very special Escort RS1600i. At a glance you would be forgiven for thinking it was just an XR3i with different wheels, deeper front spoiler and a larger rear wing. But get under the skin and you find a very different kettle of fish.
The RS1600i was a homologation-special: the fuel-injected CVH engine sported electronic ignition, trick cams and a higher compression ratio. Coupled with massive changes to the suspension set-up and a very limited production run, it made the RS1600i the ultimate MkIII Escort. Possibly even out-cooling the mighty Cosworth in the social hierarchy.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing though. Looking back, I cant help but think that I was missing out on something by ignoring Germany’s hot hatches…
There is no missing an Oreca Viper GTS.
With eight litres and 10 cylinders it’s a pretty outrageous engine…
…Even more so when one is shoe-horned into a three-door Sierra to create one hell of a sleeper.
It sits just nicely in the engine bay.
If Darth Vader had provided company transport for his troops, this Euro-look Saxo would have been it. The Stormtrooper hanging from the rear-view mirror was a nice touch.
This VW Polo on Porsche-style Teledials looked great.
There was quite a macabre display in the back of this Dolimite Sprint.
An Alfa GT 1300 Junior: perfection in every detail.
This turbo began its life feeding air at 5-bar pressure to a 1,000hp F1 engine. Now in its later years it’s on restricted duties feeding a 1,300cc Hyabussa bike engine at just 1.7 bar, in an insanely fast Dax-Rush Time Attack machine.
It’s an A-series but not as we know it. I’m still a little shocked at how fast space-framed racing Minis actually are. There is very little that can live with them around Lydden Hill.
The gem of the show for me was this 1986 Lola Cosworth F1 THL-2.
1.5 litres, twin-turbocharged and a claimed 1,000hp available.
Standing just a few inches away when they fired it up was something I will never forget. You don’t so much hear it as feel it with every bone in your body.
The car has been lovingly restored to race condition by Geoff Page Racing. A true piece of living, breathing F1 history.
I cant quite get my head around what it would take to drive it. Commanding 1,000hp around Monaco from this cockpit must have been truly terrifying!
This Ford Transit slammed on Bentley wheels looked fantastic…
…but if I had to pick one car to drive away from the show (not including 1,000hp F1 cars) it would have to be this Sierra RS Cosworth, black and lowered on OZ Racing rims. Three-door perfection!
I’ll wrap up my show coverage here, but I will be back with action from on the track in the second part of my look at BHP 2012.