Dave’s passion for driving is reignited by a car that combines the best of past and present.
This performance article is somewhat inspired by something I read not long ago that was posted on Facebook, which captured my imagination and instantly transported me back to my youth.
It was a brilliant article illustrating the memoirs from a US air force pilot by the name Brian Shul, who was soaring 80,000 feet above the Nevada desert close to Mach 3 in the cock pit of none other than, in my humble opinion, probably the most iconic and certainly my favourite aircraft of all time – the SR-71 Blackbird. An aircraft that needs little introduction amongst us closet aircraft geeks, the full operating specs are still classified to this day.
You may be wondering why this article inspired me and remind me of my childhood. Well, I used to gaze up at my bedroom ceiling at my numerous Airfix models, dreaming of one day flying above the clouds in an SR-71 Blackbird. Sadly, it was a dream I would not realise, but instead found myself growing up, working at my dad’s garage and being around iconic fast cars, like the Sierra Cosworth, Lancia Delta, E30 BMW M3, MK 2 Golf GTI, Peugeot 205 GTI… proper drivers’ cars that were great fun to drive, but in today’s standards are incredibly slow. I can remember the unmistakable smell of leaded 4-star petrol and hydrocarbons, which undoubtedly fuelled my passion for tuning cars and helped shape and inspire what ADS is all about today – high octane performance tuning!
However, if I’m being honest, my desire for driving cars has somewhat diminished and the flame in my heart has gone out. Every day I get to drive some of the fastest cars on the planet – the Audi RS6 C7 with over 700bhp, stage 3 Porsche 997 GT2 turbo – but it doesn’t really blow my skirt up as it should! It’s because they’re just too good and to be brutally honest, my 83-year-old neighbour could drive one equally as fast as I could with little or no worry. The really simple things I used to enjoy, like wheel spin and fighting for traction in the bends, have all but disappeared. DSG transmission, AWD, Traction control is now so effective, you could train a chimpanzee to do a hot lap in a modern car, and where’s the fun in that? Although cars have
become so unbelievably fast, they just lack the sheer fun I remember when I used to joy ride cars for the fun of it, driving modern cars has become more like playing on a PlayStation, boring!
We appear to be in some post-apocalyptic Fast and Furious daydream and all kids want to do is to see how fast you can make a car go in a straight line over a quarter of a mile, personally I would rather watch paint dry. It’s not my idea of how driving a car should be, but I guess coupled with modern day road congestion and slightly over zealous law enforcement, who can blame them? I’m often asked at work, ‘What’s the bhp?’ ‘What’s the 0-60 time?’ I just stand there shaking my head and thinking to myself, you haven’t a bloody clue. What happened to driving a car because of the way it makes you feel?
One of the other reasons I have become somewhat numb to the sheer speed achievable in modern cars is the fact I ride motorbikes. My last bike was a Suzuki GSXR 1000, which simply
defies all logic of what’s possible on public roads. It has a power to weight ratio close to that of an F1 car, pretty cool I know, and lots of fun. Sadly, it’s just not all that safe and now that I have
multiple offspring and a beautiful wife to care for, my bike has been somewhat reluctantly sold. To really quench my thirst for power and speed is going to cost me a small mortgage and the truth is, after constant reinvestment into the business, I simply can’t afford to buy the car I want. Nissan GTR, Audi RS6, stage 3 TTRS maybe, stage 3 Golf R… I don’t know, I can’t make up my
mind, or can I…
I refer back to the article I read about Brian Shul rocketing above the earth in his SR-71 at speeds the likes of you and I could never truly begin to comprehend. When he was asked if it was fun to fly the jet, he replied: “Fun would not be the first word I would use to describe flying this plane. Intense, maybe. Even cerebral.” I never knew what he quite meant by that, until now.
Recently we had not an unfamiliar car in the workshop, the brand-new SEAT Leon Cupra 280, which is equipped with the mightily impressive EA888 engine and a manual box. Yes, that’s
right, a manual box! I tip my hat to the man who suggested putting a manual box into this platform because for starters, it’s completely useless. The speed needed to select each gear in
between your eyeballs popping out of your head is so fast, all you end up doing is waving your left arm around, like holding onto a bull on a dog lead. Secondly, it’s the most fun I’ve had in a car
since drifting Sapphire Cosworth on Southport beach when I was 10!
This engine is absolutely ludicrous and now with a REVO stage 2, REVO carbon air intake, full
Milltek exhaust and Sachs racing clutch, it kicks out a whopping 420 bhp! Let’s just take stock
for a moment, here we have a modern car which is kicking out 420 bhp, is front- wheel drive,
manual… it just breaks all the laws of physics and makes you rethink what’s possible in a hatchback that’s the same as a Mk 2 golf GTI.
It goes back to pure basics, whilst encompassing all the benefits from a hot hatch from the mid
80’s and being propelled from an engine that surely belongs to science fiction. All harnessed by an electronic sports differential, which can only be described as witchcraft, allowing unbelievable grip, even when accelerating out of corners.
Hand on heart, I can honestly say that this SEAT Leon Cupra 280 FWD now with a few ADS
tweaks, is quite honestly the most fun I’ve had in a car for a very long time. Is it the fastest? No.
Does it wheel spin? Yes. Is it completely safe? No, but boy is it fun to drive. Bravo SEAT and ladies and gentleman, welcome back to the glory days of pure driving pleasure!