How to do your Block
KEN Block recently finished ninth in the gruelling Rally New Zealand, part of the World Rally Championship. That’s an outstanding effort for a driver who isn’t a full-timeWRC competitor, but fans of the 44-year-old American are more interested in a performance scheduled for July 9.
On that day, the fifth of Block’s tyre-torturing, roadmelting Gymkhana mini-epics will be released online. Previews suggest the action, this time, is in San Francisco.
Considering that Block is Ford-contracted, it’s reasonable to expect a homage to Steve McQueen’s Ford Mustang chase scenes from the 1968 cop classic shot on San Francisco’s hilly streets. Then again, Block has made his name by delivering scenes few could predict.
The man is a car dancer, and his 480kW artform is as universally popular as Fred Astaire’s. If your computer is a little slower on July 9, blame it on a few million global Gymkhana downloads. IF you ever doubted the worth of World War II, consider that Ducati only turned to manufacturing motorcycles after bombing ended the company’s first incarnation as an electronics firm. That’s right. As Australian Motorcycle News lately reminded readers, Ducati began as a radio parts maker. A few thousand Allied bombs aimed at Bologna fixed that decision, leading to Ducati becoming the world’s leading supplier of raw Italian twowheeled cool. Were it not for air-delivered ordnance, innercity hipster folk and cafe-racer types might never have enjoyed desmodromic valve actuation. There is no truth to the rumour, by the way, that Harley Davidson began as a maker of Kinder Surprise toys. As informed readers will already be aware, Harley Davidson initially manufactured the world’s first bouncy castles. AS my dear old grandmother always used to tell me: ‘‘Tim, if you ever find a well-maintained Nissan 200SX that has not been entirely ruined by modifiers or drifters, buy it immediately.’’ She certainly knew her turbocharged Japanese coupes. Happily there are about two dozen 200SXs in Carsguide, many worth considering and all of them worth a test drive.
This is one of the great forgotten classics of modern motoring. Produced from the early 1990s in a couple of body styles and various states of tune, the basics remained the same throughout the 200SX’s life: front engine, rearwheel drive, independent rear suspension, svelte looks and poetic handling.
Key to the 200SX’s charm is its 2.0-litre 16-valve turbo four. The rev-happy engine and Nissan’s rear-drive platform provide the same essential layout as Ford’s celebrated Sierra turbo, except that you can actually buy a 200SX here. Pay as little as $16,000 or so. Avoid the automatic. Gran never much cared for those. carsguide.com.au.
On the road: Ken Block in action in NZ and (inset) behind the wheel of aV8 Supercar last year