Mark Dixon

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1967 Meyers Manx The Thomas Crown Affair buggy

There’s cool, and then there’s driving Steve McQueen’s dune buggy on a California beach cool. Mark Dixon does his best to live up to the legend.

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1929 Frazer Nash Super Sports

Prior to arriving at Thruxton Circuit in the ’Nash, the last time I’d spun a car was maybe 15 years ago. It wasn’t a pleasant experience: a left-hand-drive lorry pulled out on me on a dual-carriageway as I was overtaking, and it punted my 1986 Audi 100 into a complete 360. Possibly more than one rotation — I wasn’t keeping count — but, by amazing good fortune, there was a very low kerb and a wide verge, and the car pirouetted right around the lorry, bounced onto the grass and came to a halt. The nearside front door was stoved in, but the rest of the car was undamaged and I later bought a replacement door in the same colour and swapped them.

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Count Stanisław Czaykowski - Gone but not forgotten

War hero, aristocrat, and a brave racing driver who deserves more than a mere footnote in history.

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1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 - on the road in super-rare original muscle car

Rare in the USA, let alone the UK, this ultra-low-mileage performance Camaro has had notable racing driver owners – both then and now.

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1963 Austin Mini Cooper

2023 marks the 60th anniversary of the Mini Cooper S – and this example is the oldest survivor. Mark Dixon tells the story of a Mini that has truly lived a life.

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1925 Bugatti Type 35A - driving a stunningly original prototype

In 1925, Bugatti offered a more customer-friendly version of its Type 35 Grand Prix car, which it named the 35A. Mark Dixon drives the prototype.

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1932 Austin Seven

This year marks 100 years of the Austin Seven. Mark Dixon drives a rather special example to a very special event.

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1967 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow

Unloved for decades, the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow is now back in fashion – and with good reason, argues Mark Dixon.

Editor's comment
No decade for young men

The cultural touchpoints that unify every British child of the ’70s are myriad. On the telly there was Blakes 7 (Glynis Barber, say no more), the memory of your parents hurriedly covering your eyes during the sexy bits of I, Claudius and, because things weren’t quite bleak enough in real life with non-stop power cuts and non-start bin emptying, there was The Survivors to cheer everyone up of any evening.

The pop charts were full of nowdisgraced lascivious men in stacked heels, represented by now-disgraced impresarios and introduced by now-disgraced disc jockeys. Driveways were packed with Marinas, playground arguments were largely over who was the sexiest member of Pan’s People and, inexplicably, Joe Bugner was everywhere. And that is only the tip of the iceberg of the misery. Of course it wasn’t all bad: there was the summer of 1976, and most of all a Corgi 1:43 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow in every toy box. Mine, like most of my friends’, was the far-rareron- the-road MPW two-door (in Silver Sand, I think). If any car reflected the fortunes of the decade itself, the Shadow was it. It went into 1970 as a glamorous five-year-old, the pinnacle of sophistication and class both mechanically and in status, and came out of the 1970s as the slightly tawdry wheels of choice of the more successful northern working men’s club comics. As if things couldn’t get worse, this glorious machine that once laid claim to be The Best Car In The World then had to endure years in the wilderness as the wedding car of choice.

How did everyone – except the wedding hire companies – forget the sheer magnificence of the Silver Shadow? Has there ever been a more dramatic fall from motoring grace? Which is why I am so delighted that the Shadow seems to be enjoying a long overdue rehabilitation. Because of my age, I simply can’t support all the elements of the motoring 1970s that a younger generation now deems acceptable – like russet, saffron and all the other BL euphemisms for excrement-coloured paint – but the re-gentrification of this oncearistocratic Royce (Rolls is for proles, as they used to say) is a cause I can get right behind. The number of its champions has been quietly but steadily growing under the radar, except for Harry Metcalfe whose campaign is rather more public, and prices have been rising accordingly. Good; everyone deserves a second chance.
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2023 Bentley Continental GT Speed - in Sicily

For the launch of its new Continental GT Speed, Bentley chose a unique test track — an abandoned USAF nuclear missile base in Sicily.

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2022 Bentley ‘Blower’ Continuation

Bentley is well on the way to completing its batch of a dozen Blower Continuation cars. Mark Dixon compares new and original examples on track.

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The brand new 1967 Alvis 3.0-Litre Graber Super Coupé

Not a restoration but a brand new car: this is the Alvis Graber Super Coupé, and Mark Dixon drives it exclusively for Octane

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Three generations Ford GT and GT40

So good, they reinvented it not once, but twice. But how much of the DNA of the original Ford GT and GT40 survives in their 21st Century reinterpretations? Time to find out.

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Truly unique 1921 Ford Model T

Australia has produced more than its fair share of great motoring journalists, and one of the greatest is Doug Blain who – like several of his compatriots – came over to the Old Country in the 1960s to show us how it should be done.

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1936 Squire LWB by Ranalah

A true supercar of its day, the Squire was literally a schoolboy’s dream — and it was all over by the time its creator was 26 years old. Mark Dixon drives one of the seven cars that were made

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1972 Datsun 240Z Super Samuri ‘Specification 3’

Legendary Datsun tuner Spike Anderson built only one ‘G-nose’ Super Samuri 240Z. Mark Dixon takes it on a tour of Anderson’s old haunts

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