DREAM DRIVES SHEER HERTS ATTACK
In the first instalment of our all-new Dream Drives series, we put a Maloo R8 LSA through its paces across rural Hertfordshire…
It’s fair to argue that while many of us love to spend time tinkering with performance Vauxhalls, there’s nothing quite like the sense of euphoria that comes as a consequence of hitting the road in a great Griffin for no other reason than to enjoy the car as a plaything. We acknowledge that this sense of happiness is often amplified when you’re joined by mates keen to blow the dust off their own motors, and it is with that in mind that we’ve decided to present you with a series of Dream Drives, where we pair some of the UK’s best driving roads with top drawer Vauxhalls.
Whether you’re hanging with mates, organising an owners club meet or just fancy time out for the sheer hell of it, our aim is to furnish you with meeting points (suitable for multiple cars), suggested routes that provide fun driving between places of interest, recommend things to see and do (activities suitable for groups, couples and individuals), locations that lend themselves to photo opportunities, and a resting point where you can take stock of your fun-filled day out.
We decided to start the series in the rural environs of North Hertfordshire. Fed by various major motorways, it’s an easy place to get to no matter where you’re travelling from, and it’s an area that has much to offer those who like bombing around B-roads.
IN FULL FLIGHT
Our meeting point was Imperial War Museum Duxford. Sitting where the M11 and A505 intersect, Britain’s largest aviation museum offers ample parking
space for you and your pals. Over two hundred aircraft, military vehicles, artillery and naval vessels inhabit seven giant hangers, with the museum’s other attractions including legendary engines and the collected artefacts of various British Army regiments. You can have a butcher’s at active aircraft undergoing maintenance and restoration too!
After spending time boarding Concorde and being awestruck by Duxford’s incredible SR-71 Blackbird, we hopped into the supercharged 6.2litre Maloo R8 LSA that we’d hijacked for the day. Recognised as the world’s most powerful production utility vehicle, the Sting Red Joe Mangel machine cut a heavy presence on the road, evidenced by the enthusiasm showered upon us in the form of numerous ‘thumbs up’ gestures from fellow road users.
There’s no denying the blown V8 ute’s novelty factor, and if you’re the kind of person that fancies a big power twoseater sports car with plenty of luggage space, then it’s difficult to ignore this utterly bonkers addition to the Vauxhall portfolio. After all, we were (super) charging around comfortably with masses of camera support equipment chock-full at the rear. Try doing that in yer VX220!
Admittedly, the LSA-powered Maloo isn’t quite as hard-hitting (or as sensible!) as its VXR8 GTS stablemate, but we should be forever grateful that Vauxhall
saw fit to import a hundred examples of this batshit crazy eight-cylinder superstar from its native Australia. With very little weight at the back, the 536bhp firebreather delivers masses of fun on four wheels, and it’s clever enough to correct itself when that lightweight tail gets twitchy.
We left Duxford (not before selecting ‘Performance’ mode from the Maloo’s umpteen driver settings) and hit the westbound A505 for five miles before taking a sharp left hook onto the B1368 at Flint Cross. Presenting fast straights, tight turns and plenty of opportunity for high-speed hedgerow-lined hoonery, the road slices through the picturesque villages of Barley and Barkway, the latter home to James Bond and his missus. Yep, if you’ve ever wanted to play a 007-themed game of Knock Down Ginger, then the residence of luvvie lovers, Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, is rumoured to be nearby. Of course, we don’t condone such behaviour, and it’s worth remembering that the leather-faced action star has a license to kill. In contrast, the Maloo has a license to thrill, so we passed through each village until the B1368 took us to the confusingly-named hamlet of Hare Street, whereupon we joined the B1038 and set sail for what is widely regarded as one of the region’s best stretches of driving road – the A507 between Buntingford and Baldock.
This long, sweeping collection of bends, gradients and overtaking spots is perfect for performance motoring. There are plenty of places to get the power down, and Vauxhalls with upgraded
Travelling through the sleepy village of Barkway
V8 optional, Grand Prix Classics jacket essential
one of the most extraordinary vehicles to wear the Vauxhall name