July 2015 Issue of 4×4 Magazine
Given the boyish good looks and youthful sparkle of the photograph on this page, it may surprise some to realise that I have been around the block a few times; quite a few trips while travelling in a Modified vehicle, as it happens. A lot of these Modifieds have actually been of the performance, or motorsport, persuasion, starting with the humble Mini. I still have a small paperback book called Tuning The Mini, written by a guy called Clive Trickey. It was actually the third edition, published in 1972 and the first time it had been produced was way back in 1966. I always felt that the guy should go into business running a garage called Trickey Modifications, but I’m not sure that ever happened. He was, however, one of the first to recognise the less than perfect quality of the casting of the cylinder head for the, then relatively new, A-Series engine in the Mini. Attacking the head with grinding bits and emery paper he improved the whole thing, significantly improved the power output and got us enthusiasts to use words like ‘porting’ and ‘gas flow’ as if we were real engineers. Like thousands of young would-be racers, I bought a set of grinding bits, borrowed my dad’s electric drill and attacked the lump of British steel on my ‘bog standard’ Mini’s engine, making everything look nice and shiny. Bolted back on the engine, and on my first test run through the lanes in Norfolk, I was convinced that the power output of the wheezy knackered old unit had been greatly improved. Of course, the Mini went even quicker when I later spray-painted it lime green (a standard Renault colour if I remember) with a matching matt black roof. Lowering the seat, adding a throttle pedal extension. There were no limits to my modification abilities…
In many ways, Trickey started a whole new industry. I was lucky later in my career to actually edit a magazine called Cars and Car Conversions, which as the name suggests was basically about vehicles, which were anything but standard. Years later the term ‘boy racer’ was coined and a magazine called Max Power took centre stage. Where previously it had all been about Minis and Ford Escorts, it was the Japanese vehicles like the Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Evo that made all the noise. Rules, regulations, modern mass production methods, the advent of complex computer software plus rising insurance costs, have all but made the amateur modification expert extinct – with one glorious exception…
At present, probably the last bastion of vehicle modification is thankfully the 4×4. Just as I managed with my humble Mini back in nineteen hundred and frozen to death, you can still do minor tweaks to your 4×4’s suspension, perhaps add a snorkel to allow some water fun, or you can go the whole hog and modify your production vehicle so it can take you on a journey of a lifetime, transporting you and looking after you’ as you cross entire Continents.
Modifications is the theme of this issue, and as I look longingly back into the past of owning my Mini, JEX 505, it’s great to still be able to enjoy the process with 4x4s. Enjoy it while you can. And on that point, here’s hoping you enjoy this issue. I’d like to think that Mr Clive Trickey would have approved.
Nigel Fryatt, Editor
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