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…

Performance Vauxhall - - DREAM DRIVES - WORDS Dan Furr PHO­TOS Dan Sher­wood

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.

FULLY CHARGED

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.

VIL­LAGE PEO­PLE

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

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