Velocette Venom Thruxton

Velocette Venom Thruxton 1960s British classic motorcycle

'Velocette' was a stylish name for a manufacturer of sleek, sophisticated motorcycles. 'Venom Thruxton' was likewise apt. 'Venom' was descriptive of the ferocity of the bike's tuned engine. While 'Thruxton' was, and is, an English racetrack - the free-flowing layout of which was perfect for giving the bike its head!

The Thruxton was essentially a road bike - though one easily converted to Clubmans / production racer spec. Along with its potent motor, it boasted rock-solid suspension, light alloy wheel-rims, and a twin-leading-shoe front brake. On the open road, the Thruxton cruised at 90mph. That was good going in 1965 ... especially from a single piston!

Styling-wise, the Thruxton was all purposeful solidity. That was complemented by the finesse of the fishtail silencer, and ventilated front-brake. The jet-black paintwork is moodier than Marlon Brando on a bad day! And the cursive script of the logo sets off a sweet tank to a tee. A combination, then, of rugged good looks and brute power, the Venom Thruxton spat sweet poison. Best not to get too close ... however alluring the aroma of its 'Castrol R' oil!

De Tomaso Pantera

De Tomaso Pantera Italian classic supercar

'Pantera' is Italian for panther. Elvis Presley shot his De Tomaso Pantera ... when it would not start! To be fair to the 'King', he was not the only owner to lose patience with the car. The Pantera did have a bit of a 'rep'. Build quality - or the lack of it - was a topic which came up a lot. Specifically, rust and overheating. But, 10,000 Panteras were built. Surely, the car must have had had its good points?

Ghia is one of the most illustrious names in coach-building history. The company was owned by Alejandro De Tomaso - an Argentinian business magnate, who had moved to Italy. So revered was Ghia that Ford of North America sought to acquire it. De Tomaso did a deal with them. He would sell them the rights to Ghia - if they agreed to distribute the Pantera through their huge dealership network. Fittingly, the car was powered by a 5.8-litre Ford V8. The automotive giant took the bait ... not a wise move, as it turned out! To begin with, things were looking good. Ford shifted 4,000 Panteras, in short order. But then the rot set in ... literally! It was not long before the Pantera was becoming a liability. Ford were snowed under by customer complaints! By 1974, they had had enough. They called time on any more imports.

But, it was not all bad! The Pantera's top speed was a more than acceptable 160mph. The car's mid-mounted engine meant handling was excellent. And should anything go awry with that engine, the breakers' yards were full of V8s. As for the styling ... it was certainly striking! Ultimately, De Tomaso was a maverick. Before the Pantera, he had 'fostered' the Vallelunga, and the Mangusta. Both, automotive 'problem children'! In later years, he would take over the reins at Maserati and Innocenti. In the end, though, the Pantera stayed in production for 25 years. That would seem to suggest that for all its flaws, the Pantera had a bit of hidden genius. As for Elvis ... he was probably just having a bad day!