Author Archives: Pete Barden

Get the apps you need for school holiday trips

Best driving apps for school holidays 2014

The school holidays are about to start, so prepare for the traditional backseat standards of ‘are we there yet’ and ‘mum… I need a wee’. Don’t panic, though, here’s the Crawley Down Group’s guide to summer holiday driving apps to ensure your kids don’t drive you to distraction…

Get the apps you need for school holiday trips

Get the apps you need for school holiday trips

Driving apps for school holiday road trips

Browse our special summer holiday selection of apps to keep the children happy and adults sane as you head for hols or days out.

days-outWhere to go… 2014 AA Days Out Guide
First job is to decide where you’re going to point your car once it’s filled with the aforementioned children. Kids seemingly have just two words in their travel vocab, so be sure you have some ammunition to fire back at their demand for a trip to ‘Alton Towers’. Fortunately, the 2014 AA Days Out Guide has more than 1,800 suggestions and information for UK attractions. From stately homes, castles and gardens, to theme parks, zoos, museums and galleries, there should be something to tempt. Most entries will include admission price info, contact details and multimedia links.
Top tip: Use the search around current location, or search around location of choice to automatically bring up all days out that are nearby.
How much: £Free
Get it for iOS
Get it for Android 

aa-roadwatch-proAvoid snarl-ups…  AA Roadwatch Pro
The AA returns to save the day once again. This time it’s to help avoid the UK’s holiday-clogged arteries as thousands of desperate parents pour on to the streets in search of ‘fun’ to appease bored offspring. This app uses data from sat-nav leader TomTom and will let you enter two postcodes and monitor all jams en-route as they appear. With this knowledge in hand, you can re-route before your grind to a halt. You’ll need to pay a yearly subscription, but at £1.99 it’s a steal.
Top tip: Set up an alert for your trip and the app will send you a message if any new jams occur. Also, it comes with a seven-day free trial if the £1.99-a-year subscription is putting you off.
Get it for iOS

next-junctionAvoid motorway madness… Next Junction app
The admission price of your chosen attraction is likely to seriously dent your finances, so make sure you don’t plunge deeper into debt by purchasing food, petrol or accommodation on the motorway. Next Junction lets you search for off-motorway (hence cheaper) amenities such as petrol stations, pubs, restaurants, hotels and caravan sites. It will also search for attractions. The app uses GPS, so knows where you are and will tell you what junction to take as you evacuate the motorway. It works across the entire UK motorway network. Free database updates are included in the purchase price.
Top tip: Use this app to save on fuel and snacks. With fuel alone, heading off the motorway is likely to save you around 10p a litre… which could easily be more than £7.00 when filling up a standard family car.
How much: £0.69p
Get it for iOS
Coming soon for Android

fastfoodBad food makes happy kids… Fast Food UK
Fast food might not be great for kids, but the odd sortie into KFC and McDonalds certainly won’t do them any lasting harm. It’s a great way to grab some quick food and get back on the road to take advantage of quieter lunchtime traffic. Get this app and avoid that timewasting tradition of trawling unfamiliar towns looking for your favourite fast food outlet. The app uses GPS to grab your location and direct you to the closest ‘restaurant’. It also gives you the opportunity to filter results.
Top tip: Open directions to the outlet directly from the app itself.
How much: £0.69p
Get it for iOS
Get an Android fast food finder

tolietsMum… I need a wee… Toilet Finder
It’s the inevitable call from the backseat that every driver dreads. Wasting time looking for toilets and desperately trying to avoid bumps in the road can seriously dent the enjoyment of your family day out. However, download this app and you’ll have a fighting chance of retaining dry upholstery and happy kids. The app uses GPS to locate your nearest public toilet – with more than 60,000 logged throughout the world.
Top tip: Submit new public toilets to help build the already huge database of loos.
How much: £Free
Get it for iOS
Get it for Android

radio-playerEntertain them… Radio Player
There aren’t many radio stations that appeal to young kids – which is where Radio Player app can fill the void. This digital radio app has everything from the mainstream to student radio stations – plus several that are dedicated entirely to kids. Grab yourself a Bluetooth transmitter for a few pounds and play out through your car’s sound system.
Top tip: Tune in to Fun Kids radio. Find out more at
How much: £Free
Get it for iOS 
Get it for Android

nearly-thereRevolt on the back seat… Are We Nearly There Yet
When things start to get tetchy on the backseat – usually by the end of your street – it’s time to crack open this app. It keeps them occupied with fun facts and I Spy questions that are based on the route that you’re travelling. An old-school game given a modern interactive makeover.
How much: £Free
Top tip: Use it to keep kids occupied on otherwise tedious motorway trips.
Get it for iOS


omwWe’ll be there soon… OMW App
If you’re travelling to meet friends or family, they’ll want to know when you’ll be arriving… but finding yourself stuck in the middle of a traffic jam in the back of nowhere makes it difficult to give any meaningful ETA. That’s where this app steps up to the plate. Simply add your destination postcode and the mobile phone number of the person you’re visiting – and they’ll receive a link to a screen that shows your location and estimated time of arrival. It constantly updates, too, so traffic jams will be taken into account.
Top tip: A great way to ensure that your hosts don’t light that BBQ too soon.
How much: £Free
Get it for iOS

weatherFour seasons in one day… Met Office Weather Application
We couldn’t get through a whole feature looking at heading out in Britain without mentioning the weather. Heading for the beach only to find you’ve arrived at the same time as a mini tornado from the Caribbean tends to put a slight dampener on your daytrip, which is why you need the Met Office Weather App on your phone. Get the best up-to-the-minute updates on weather as you travel – allowing for mid-route diversions to indoor activities should the climate take a turn for the worse.

Top tip: Use the hourly updates for the location of your choice as you travel.
How much: £Free
Get it for iOS
Get it for Android

cyclopsStay under the limit… Cyclops speed monitor and camera warning
We should always stay within speed limits, but unfamiliar roads can make it hard to know what that limit is. Add boisterous backseat occupants to the equation and it becomes easy to drift over the prevailing speed limit. Cyclops will keep an eye on your speed and tell you if you’re exceeding the current limit, while also warning you of any speed cameras. The app uses Waypoint Technology™ to locate your car – which helps prevent false alarms – and warns you of live mobile cameras and camera vans, frequent mobile camera sites, fixed speed cameras, red light cameras, average speed cameras, variable speed cameras, and temporary cameras.
Top tip: Use Cyclops for free for 14 days – after which it’ll £2.99/year
How much: £Free then £2.99 per year
Get it for iOS

AA Parking

AA Parking

Car park panic… AA Parking
In days of old, a summer trip out would involve three hours in a traffic jam followed by an hour stalking a parking space – leaving time for a quick portion of soggy chips and an ice cream before it was time to head back home. Fortunately, the AA Parking app can help you find your nearest car park or parking bay in just minutes. The app has a handy feature that shows real-time parking availability in connected car parks. It’ll also give you prices, opening hours and directions. More time for more soggy chips and bank-busting ice creams… happy days.
Top tip: Heading for coastal towns or city centres? Use the app to find park and ride services – they’ll save plenty of cash.
How much: £1.99
Get it for iOS
Get it for Android

find-my-carDude, where’s my car… Find My Car
Have you ever parked in a vast theme park car park and neglected to note your location – only to spend several hours hunting it down as you come to leave? This is where the Find My Car app will help. It allows you to save your car’s exact location using GPS, then, on your return, simply open up the app and it will display the fastest walking route back to your vehicle. It’ll also tell you how far you have to go and display a real-time ETA. Could become an invaluable tool this summer.
Top tip: Use for theme parks, festivals or even at campsites to find your tent.
How much: £Free
Get it for iOS
Get it for Android (Alternative app for Android devices)

ice-creamCool it… Ice Cream Finder
When it comes to heading home, there’s no better carrot for extracting kids from any attraction than the promise of an ice cream on the return journey. However, failing to deliver on this promise will have serious implications for your sanity – which is why Ice Cream Finder makes a must-have app this summer.
Top tip: Use GPS to find the nearest ice cream-selling outlet to you
How much: £0.69p
Get it for iOS
Get it for Android (Alternative app for Android devices)

stainsClean-up time… Ultimate Stain Remover Tips
You made it back from your day out and now it’s time to take a deep breath and see what stains have been deposited on your backseat upholstery. From ice cream to tomato sauce and beyond, this app dishes the dirt on the best way clean just about any type of fabric abuse the kids can come up with.
Top tip: The app also has info on removing suspicious odours.
How much: Free
Get it for iOS 
Get it for Android


Jaguar XK.. drop-top motoring at its best

Going topless in 2014… convertible buying guide

It’s summer, so our minds turn to just one thing… buying a convertible. Should you take the plunge and go topless this year? Here’s the Crawley Down Group’s essential guide to drop-top motoring.

Jaguar XK.. drop-top motoring at its best

Jaguar XK.. drop-top motoring at its best

What to look for when buying a used convertible

Top five used convertibles
Thinking about adding a drop-top to your fleet, but don’t know where to start? Relax, we’ve got our top five convertibles right here.

VW Golf Cabriolet

Golf Cabriolet… bringing some glamour and fun to the ever-so-slightly dull

Golf Cabriolet… bringing some glamour and fun to the ever-so-slightly dull

No surprises to see the Volkswagen Golf in the list of our best five convertibles. The standard car offers a well-balanced blend of fun and comfort, while losing the roof adds a little more glamour to the rather sensible-looking standard package. You can drop the top in just 18 seconds – while driving at speeds of up to 18mph. The folding roof does eat up the boot space, though, with its 350 litres dropping to 250 with the top down.
How much: Prices start from around £500 for a shabby 20-year-old version, but expect to pay £12,000+ for presentable example from the noughties.

Porsche Boxster Roadster

Porsche Boxster Roadster… impress the neighbours and deplete your bank balance

Porsche Boxster Roadster… impress the neighbours and deplete your bank balance

If you’re looking for the real deal when it comes to open-top motoring, then look no further than the Boxster. With its mid-engine layout bringing the sort of corner-munching amusement that most can only dream of, there are few cars that can compete with the Boxster’s fun factor. It’s also perfectly drivable for every day use, too. It has a range of powerful engines that all give excellent performance, along with a proper sports car sound track.
How much: Late 90s versions of these cars are available from around £3k and while they’re not as good as later models, they still have buckets of hi-octane wow factor. A word of warning, though, Porsche ownership rarely results in a trip to a garage that doesn’t come with a price tag of at less than £1,000. New versions will cost you will cost you from £15,000 for a five-year-old example.

Audi TT Roadster

Audi TT – if your head rules your heart

Audi TT – if your head rules your heart

If you like the Porsche Boxster, but the sensible side of your brain is telling you not to be so foolish, then the Audi TT is the perfect compromise. It’s got the looks, the glamour and pretty decent performance, too. It’ll also be much cheaper to run, with four frugal diesel powerplants on offer. However, if you’re looking for something a little sporty, why not choose the rapid petrol engine combined with Audi’s Quattro four-wheel-drive system? The TT has a fabric roof, but this is pretty efficient at keeping the noise out – even if some owners have reported leaks. There’s a new model on the way – so expect to pay a lot less for secondhand examples when it arrives.
How much: Expect to pay around £2000+ for an example from around the turn of the century. You’ll need to look out for water damage from leaky roofs. Make sure the car has its top in place and windows closed when you view it – otherwise the owner might be trying to hide tell-tale musty odours. Buying a five-year-old car will cost from £10,000

Mazda MX-5 Roadster

Mazda MX-5… point and shoot rear-wheel-drive anarchy

Mazda MX-5… point and shoot rear-wheel-drive anarchy

If you like your thrills delivered through the rear wheels then the point-and-shoot handling of the MX-5 will be the convertible for you. Okay, it’s not the fastest of cars, but the kart-like dynamics and low-slung stance will make give you a white-knuckled drive its more practical counterparts can’t come close to. Point this at a corner and prepare to have a rather large grin spread from ear to ear. For pure fun, this has to be our pick of the pack.
How much: Pay from £500 for a mid-nineties version. It might fall apart after a few months, but who cares? Okay, with a more sensible head on, buying a pristine five-year-old example should cost from around £5,000.

Mini Convertible

Mini Convertible… fun, but rear seats are useless

Mini Convertible… fun, but rear seats are useless

It’s not the most practical of cars, but that’s not really a prerequisite when it comes to choosing a convertible, in any case. The boot is tiny and the rear seats are just there for show. However, it is a great car to drive, with nippy engines and handling. The roof can drop in 15 seconds, so the unpredictable British weather shouldn’t be able to wreak too much havoc on your stylish interior. There’s also the option of getting it in Cooper S trim for those want performance as well as good looks.
How much: Expect to pay from around £3,500 for a 2005 example. In fact, the Mini is one of the UK’s cheapest convertibles to buy.

Roof or no roof
British weather can be a tad unpredictable, so is it really worth spending your cash on a convertible? Don’t worry, we can help. Simply check out our graphic with the UK’s sunniest and wettest locations. Our top tip would be to head online and search for car adverts with Caernarvonshire postcodes selling a ‘hardly used convertible…’

Graphic Liz Winstone

Graphic Liz Winstone

Top tips for tip-top drop tops

Don't be let down by your roof

Owning a convertible is great, but you’ll need to ensure you keep the roof in stellar condition – or expect rips and leaks to rain on your care-free drop-top motoring. Convertibles come with fabric, vinyl or metal roofs, and keeping them in good condition is a top priority. Metal lids are generally okay to wash as normal, but vinyl and fabric need a little more tlc. Here’s how to keep your drop-top in tip-top condition.

Here’s how to keep your vinyl top clean – without damaging it.

  • Use a lint roller to remove any dust or dirt from the vinyl before you start cleaning
  • Don’t use any form of cleaning brush on vinyl roofs – scuffs look bad
  • Use a shampoo that’s designed specifically for vinyl hoods. Use a pH neutral car wash
  • Apply a vinyl protectant to help preserve the colour of the roof and prevent the vinyl becoming brittle
  • Allow the roof to dry in sunlight before you put it in the garage

Drop some water on the roof – if it beads that’s good, but if the beading is uneven or the water soaks in, then it’s time to apply protectant. Here’s how.

  • Park the car out of the sun and wait until the fabric roof is cool to the touch
  • Use a soft brush to gently rub the fabric to remove any dirt
  • Applying a dry-clean spray will help prevent the top from becoming waterlogged
  • Use an aerosol-based protectant to provide protection against rain and UV rays

Try before you buy
Looking to upgrade the Ford Focus for sporty little convertible this summer? Why not test drive these topless monsters… Find out how much it’ll cost you to hire an open-top supercar for the night.
All prices from

  • Porsche Carrera 4 GTS Cab: It’s one of the finest-handling cars on the road. How much: £785.30 for 24 hours
  • Lamborghini LP560-4 Spyder: Fancy a 5.2-litre Lambo for the day? How much: £1,013.30 for 24 hours
  • Ferrari California: Forget that new carpet - blow your cash on roof-down ride of a lifetime. How much: £1,070.30 for 24 hours
  • Audi R8 Spyder: 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 194mph, Anyone? How much: £899.30 for 24 hours

Fernando Alonso at Silverstone: image credit

British Grand Prix 2014… all you need to know

It’s British Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone, so here’s all the information you’ll need to get the adrenaline pumping with The Crawley Down Group’s guide to the British GP on Sunday, July 6…

The Silverstone circuit

The Silverstone circuit

What and when

Here’s what’s happening and when…

Day 1: Thursday, July 3: Fans’ Thursday – pit lane walk
Fans’ Thursday is held on the July 3, just ahead of the British Grand Prix and is part of the celebrations of the 50th Grand Prix. For the first time at the British Grand Prix the Formula One pit lane will be open and the access is free to all three-day ticket holders. The pit lane walk gives you unique insight into the teams’ garages where preparation for the weekend ahead will take place.

10.00am-12.00pm The Pit Lane Walk
3.00pm-6.00mp The Pit Lane Walk
7.00pm- 7.30pm The Dexters performing on Arena E-Zone Stage.
8.00pm-9.30pm The Kaiser Chiefs Performing on Arena E-Zone Stage.

Ticket Prices:
Three Day Ticket: From £340
Where: Get tickets here

Kaiser Chiefs Performance: £45.00
Where: Get tickets here

Day 2: Friday July 4 – Vintage dress Friday and first practice
To celebrate its 50th Grand Prix, Silverstone has organised a Vintage attire competition from the 50s to 80s. Outfits must be posted to Twitter or Instagram before 12pm on Friday, July 4 – with the #silverstone50 tag. Judges will pick 20 finalists by 3:30pm on July 4, with winners invited to a drinks reception backstage. Five finalists will then be chosen (one from each decade, 50s, 60s, 70 and 80s) to have the chance of winning two grid passes for the 2014Formula One Santander British GP on July 6.

9.00am-6.00pm: 50th Anniversary Parade display opens
10.00am-11.30pm: F1 first practice session
12.00pm-12.45pm: GP2 practice session
1.05pm-1.15pm: Spitfire air display
2.00pm-3.30pm: F1 second practice session
3.55pm- 4.25pm: GP2 qualifying session
4.45pm-5.30pm: Porsche Mobil 1 Super cup practice session
5.50pm-6.35pm: GP3 practice session
6.45pm-7.45pm: Cheatles (Beatles Tribute) Performing

Ticket Prices:
General admission:
Adult: from £74.93 (16+)
Children: from £37.47
Where: Get tickets here

Fernando Alonso at Silverstone: image credit

Fernando Alonso at Silverstone: image credit

Day 3: Saturday 5th July- Practice/Qualifying

8.45am-9.15am: GP3 qualifying session
9.00am-6.00pm: 50th Anniversary parade display open
10.00am-11.00am: F1third practice session
11.25am-11.55am: Porsche Mobil 1 Super cup qualifying session
12.20pm-12.30pm: Spitfire air display
1.00pm-2.00pm: F1 qualifying session
2.40pm- 3.45pm: GP2 first race (29 laps or 60 mins)
4.20pm- 4.55pm: GP3 first race (15 laps or 30 mins)
5.00pm-7.30pm: Showing of the film ‘1-Life on the Limit’ on the Arena E-Zone stage
7.45pm-8.45pm: ABC performing on the Arena E-Zone stage

Ticket Prices:
General Admission:
Adult from £97.98 (16+)
Children from £48.99
Where: Get tickets here

Day 4: Sunday 6th July- Race

9.00am-6.00pm: 50th Anniversary Parade display opens
8.10am-8.45am: GP3 second race (15 laps or 30mins)
9.20am-10.10am: GP2 second race (21 laps or 45mins)
10.30am -11.05am: Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup race (13 laps or 30mins)
11.30am: F1 drivers track parade
11.45am-12.15pm: F1 starting grid presentation
12.30pm: F1 pit lane opens
12.45pm: F1 closed grid formation
12:46pm: F1 National Anthem by Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Marching Band
1.00pm-3.00pm: F1 GP (52 laps or 120 mins)

Ticket Price:
General Admission:
Adult: from £172.91
Children: from £ 86.46

Classic racing at Silverstone with Niki Lauda going through Maggotts Copse

Classic racing at Silverstone with Niki Lauda going through Maggotts Copse: image credit

50TH Grand Prix parade
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday there will be a 50th Grand Prix parade to celebrate Silverstone’s half century of races

The parade will include:
Sir Jackie Stewart, driving his 1969 British Grand Prix-winning Matra MS80
Rubens Barrichello, driving the Williams FW07b,
David Brabham, driving his late father’s 1960 British Grand Prix-winning Cooper Climax T53
Dario Franchitti in Jim Clark’s 1963 British Grand Prix-winning Lotus 25
Adrian Newey who will drive Ronnie Peterson’s March 711

Friday: 12.50pm-1.05pm
Saturday: 12.05pm-12.20pm
Sunday: 11.10am-11.25am

Take the hot seat
If the British GP has got your right foot twitching, then why not experience some high-octane anarchy with a single-seater experience at one of the UK’s top racing circuits? Here are a few on offer…

Single-seater experience at Silverstone

Single-seater experience at Silverstone

Ultimate single seater driving at Silverstone- Weekends
Just be warned – once you experience the high-speed performance combined with point-and-shoot steering, you’ll want to come back on a weekly basis.

How much: £175
Where: Northamptonshire (Midlands) – Silverstone Circuit
Schedule of Experience:

  • 30 minutes: Briefing on circuit driving techniques
  • 20 minutes: First driving session (pace car)
  • 20 minutes: Second driving session (without pace car)
  • 15 minutes: Debrief

The total duration of the experience is 2 hours.
More info

F200 Single Seater Drive at Goodwood Motor Circuit
Hit this legendary circuit in a Formula Ford 2000 single-seat racer, as you undertake and practice laps while learning racing lines and the techniques that’ll keep you gripped to the road.
How much: £159
Where: Goodwood, Chichester, West Sussex
Schedule of Experience:

  • Welcome, introduction and briefing on circuit driving techniques
  • Familiarisation laps in training car with a professional race driver / instructor
  • Drive course car with the instructor as passenger
  • 4 laps driving a Formula Ford 2000 single-seater racing car
  • Individual driving assessment and certificate
  • The experience lasts one hour.

More info

Brands Hatch/Oulton Park Single Seater Driving Experience
Race Master gets you as close to the F1 dream without having the surname ‘Button’ as you hit the track in the mighty BMW M3 and a high-performance single-seater race car. Choose from two world-famous venues: Brands Hatch or Oulton Park.
How much: £185
Where: Brands Hatch Circuit
Kent DA3 8NG
Oulton Park Circuit
Little Budworth,
Cheshire CW6 9BW
Schedule of Experience:
Hit the track in a powerful BMW M3 and high downforce F1-style single seater as you attempt to tame one of these world famous racing circuits! Paired with a professional racing driver, you will first be strapped into the ferocious BMW M3, capable of 0-60mph in 4.5seconds and shown how to harness the immense power its V8 engine produces. You will then be strapped into an exhilarating single-seater racing car and set a sequence of solo flying laps!
More info

 By Hannah Dunn

Lewis Hamilton presses the flesh at Goodwood FoS

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2014… round-up

The Goodwood Festival of Speed might be over for another year, but with exhaust fumes still lingering over the Sussex Downs, we look back at the best of this year’s hi-octane romp through the ages of motor sport.

Lewis Hamilton presses the flesh at Goodwood FoS

Lewis Hamilton presses the flesh at Goodwood FoS

Once again, the must-go event for petrolheads and fashionistas, alike, proved to be the unmissable spectacle of white-knuckle driving we’ve learned to expect. Forget the elitist attitude of Formula One, the Goodwood Festival of Speed (FoS) is about as close as most of us will ever get to such a snarling, spitting collection of racing machines – and the speed-hungry pilots that risk life and limb to propel them up the terrifying hay-bale and flint wall-lined hill climb. Here’s our guide to the best of this year’s action.

Start your engines

Let’s fire up this blog with a couple of sound bites to put you in the mood for action. Recorded live at the FoS, we captured a 1970s Chevron Chevrolet B24 racer and a Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 car. Click the sound clips below and let the adrenaline surge through your veins…

Goodwood FoS – our pick of the cars
So many cars, so many tales to tell, but we’ve picked just a few cars that caught our eye at this year’s FoS.

  • Maserati 250F: The 220bhp 2.5-litre Maserati 250F that the legendary Juan Manual Fangio drove to a brace of F1 wins in 1954.
  • Bentley Number One: This old fella won Le Mans in 1920 and 1930. The car finally retired from racing after crashing out in horrific style going over the banking at Brooklands in 1932 – killing its driver ‘Bentley Boy’ Clive Dunfee.
  • Maserati Alfieri concept car: Maserati celebrated its centenary at Goodwood, while also showing an eye for the future with this 520bhp Aliferi concept car that will bothering the likes of Jaguar’s F-Type and the Porsche 911 come 2016.
  • Michael Schumacher’s Benettons: With slightly more encouraging news about the seven-time F1 champ coming out of his camp, his old Benetton rides were drawing plenty of attention.
  • Formula E car: If electric cars make you think Nissan Leaf, then prepare for a shock… meet this all-electric racer that fires from 0-62mph in just 3.0 seconds and powers on to a top speed of 142mph. The new Formula E race series kicks off later this year in Beijing.
  • Jaguar Project 7: This 567bhp monster is inspired by the D-type that’s celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. It’s also set to become Jag’s fastest road-going car with its 5.0-litre supercharged V8 blasting it from 0-62mph in just 3.9 seconds before topping out at 186mph. The Project 7 will be limited to just 250 examples and will be built by the manufacturer’s new SVO division.
  • Mercedes AMG Petronas F1: It’s the current F1 table-topper and looking unlikely to be pushed from its lofty perch any time soon. The only real question is whether Brit racer Lewis Hamilton can get a bit of luck to go his way and pip German team mate Rosberg for the title. Have a listen to it, above.
  • VW Golf GTI Roadster: Who said that Golfs were dull? Just check out this concept car that was designed for the Gran Turismo franchise. The GTI Roadster is powered by a 500bhp, 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6. Just don’t expect to see it in your local dealership any time soon.
  • Shelby Mustang GT 350: A must-have Mustang for the serious collector, this 302bhp, 4.7-litre GT-350 was looking resplendent on Goodwood’s Cartier Concours Lawn.
  • Napier Railton: Built in 1933 and powered by an engine taken from a plane, this racer came from an age where drivers would consider losing a leg as no more than a minor inconvenience. Getting up close to this beast really is an awe-inspiring experience. It is also famous for setting the lap record at Brooklands racing circuit with an average speed of 143mph.


There’s always one…
Some people should stick to two wheels when it comes to transport… and Olympic cycling champ Chris Hoy is one such person. Swapping the velodrome for the Goodwood Hill and his bike for a Nissan GT-R Nismo turned out to be a poor choice. Watch the video to see what happened when Chris went driving.

Our photos
Sit back and enjoy some more of the photos from our day at the FoS.

Glastonbury Festival... but will it rain for 2014?

UK festival guide 2014

The sun’s here, so pack your tent, jump in your car and head to one of the many festivals the UK has to offer. Find the event for you with The Crawley Down Group‘s 2014 Festival Guide.

Here are some of the best festivals on offer – along with some handy advice on how to extricate your car from a mud-filled festival ‘car park and keeping tabs on kids in festival crowds.

Best of UK music festivals 2014

Click on the names of festivals below to get more info on costs, dates and who’s on the bill.



Glastonbury Festival... but will it rain for 2014?

Glastonbury Festival… but will it rain for 2014?

Where: Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset
When: June 25-29
How much: £210 weekend ticket
Vibe: It’s the place to be seen for festival fashionistas across the UK. Just be prepared for the now-almost inevitable mud-bath that is sure to ensue as the gates open.
Who’s playing: Metallica headline the Pyramid stage, alongside legends such as Dolly Parton, Kasabian, Robert Plant, Ed Sheeran and Lana Del Rey. There are so many more great acts, though, so make sure you check the website for full details.

Hop Farm
Where: Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Kent
When: July 4-6
How much: £135.00/weekend, £68-78.00/day
Vibe: If you’re looking for a local festival to enjoy with the kids, then Hop Farm is the place to be. A family-friendly festival with an eclectic mix of retro-big-hitters from your teenage years along with the best of contemporary pop, jazz and folk. Something for everyone.
Who’s playing: Friday night headline act is Ray Davies of Kinks fame, while Beach Boys founding member Brian Wilson heads Saturday night, with Grace Jones closing proceedings on Sunday. Other acts throughout the weekend include Echo and the Bunnymen, 10CC, Deacon Blue, James Blunt, Caro Emerald, Squeeze, Billy Ocean and Brit folksters Bellowhead. Jo Brand and Milton Jones will be making you laugh in the comedy tent. See the website for the full line-up.

Cornbury Music Festival
Where: Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire
When: July 4-6
How much: £200 with camping
Vibe: Music festival with the air of a country fair. Champagne, posh loos and a massage zone. Great for those with kids.
Who’s playing: Headline acts for Cornbury as follows…
Friday’s line-up includes: The Feeling, Suzanne Vega, Arrested Development, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Jools Holland and the Rhythm & Blues Orchestra (with special guests Melanie C, and Marc Almond). Saturday brings Georgie Fame, Scouting For Girls, and Simple Minds. Sunday closes the event with The Gipsy Kings, Sam Bailey, Luke Friend, Kid Creole and the Coconuts.

Where: Knebworth Park, Herts
When: July 4-6
How much: £205 with camping
Vibe: Lots of leather and hair. A must-go festival for rockers and metal fans.
Who’s playing: Check the website for a full list of who’s playing, but headline acts include the Prodigy, Iron Maiden and Metallica.


Wireless main stage image credit

Wireless main stage image credit

Where: Finsbury Park, London and Perry Park, Birmingham
When: July 4-6
How much: London weekend £210.00; Birmingham weekend; £172.00
Vibe: One for the hipsters, with simultaneous events in London and Birmingham. Wireless doesn’t allow kids below the age of five and if your offspring are teens – you’re probably too old be going anyway.
Who’s playing: Headline acts include Kanye West, Drake and Bruno Mars, along with supporting performances from the like of Azealia Banks, Basement Jaxx, Ellie Goulding, J Cole, John Newman, Iggy Azalea, Outkast, Pharrell Williams, Rudimental,

British Summertime
Where: Hyde Park, London
When: July 4-17
How much: £69.00 (July 4), £49.50 (July 6), £60.00 (July 12), £35.00 (July 13)
Vibe: British Summertime opens on Sunday, July 4 and runs through to Sunday, July 13. Acts appear on four stages with headliners from heavy metal acts such as Black Sabbath through to teen-faves McBusted, so you’re sure to find your niche.
Who’s playing: Headline acts include Arcade Fire (July 3), Black Sabbath (July 4), The Libertines (July 5), McBusted (July 6), Neil Young (July 12), Tom Jones. Supporting acts include Motorhead, The Pogues, Backstreet Boys and Little Mix. Once again, check the website for the full eclectic mix of acts appearing.

T in the Park
Where: Balado, Kinross, Perthshire
When: July 11-13
How much: £205 with camping
Vibe: Scotland’s main festival brings a huge variety of musical styles across seven main stages. Plenty of camping space and other activities such as a fun fair, comedy tent and market.
Who’s playing: Headline acts include the Arctic Monkeys, Biffy Clyro, Calvin Harris and Paolo Nutini. See the website for full line-up.

Keep tabs on the kids

Don’t let an errant child spoil your festival. Here’s our essential kit for keeping tabs on offspring.

Where: Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk
When: July 17-20
How much: £187.50 for adult ticket
Vibe: Whatever you’re into, Latitude should be capable of exciting your ears and eyes… It’s not just music; with comedy, film, theatre, dance and art just a few of the alternative activities on offer as you enjoy a culture-filled weekend at the seaside.
Who’s playing: Headline acts include Damon Albarn, the Black Keys and Haim, while Dara O Briain and Simon Amstell will be providing the funny stuff. See the website for full line-up.

Global Gathering
Where: Long Marston Airfield, Stratford-upon-Avon
When: July 25-26
How much: £130 for weekend ticket
Vibe: A huge two-day event that’s for over-18s only and covers everything dance-related, with musicians and DJs entertaining up to 50,000 people.
Who’s playing: Who isn’t playing might be an easier list, but dance-world big-hitters taking the stage include David Guetta, Eric Prydz, Katy B, Netsky, Sub Focus, Tinie Tempa, Pete Tong. Full listings can be found on the website.

Where: East Kirkcarswell, Dundrennan, Dumfries and Galloway
When: July 25-26
How much: £119 for weekend ticket
Vibe: A lively affair that’s perfect fall all ages and ends with a giant wicker figure being set alight. It’s a great area of the country to extend your stay and take in some touring, too.
Who’s playing: Enjoy a bill for all generations that includes Dizee Rascal, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, The Feeling and Del Amitri. Full listings can be found on the website.

Camp Bestival

Camp Bestival image credit

Camp Bestival image credit

Where: Lulworth Castle, Dorset
When: July 31-August 3
How much: £195.00 weekend camping
Vibe: Family-friendly festival frolics for all to enjoy this summer. With music, comedy, arts and crafts, spoken word, dance and plenty more besides, this really is the family camping trip you’ve been yearning for. It all takes place with a backdrop of stunning Jurassic coastline, too.
Who’s playing: Mr Tumble will be making an appearance for the kids, while Basement Jaxx and De La Soul will be on hand to keep the grown-ups occupied. Other highlights include Johnny Marr, Sinead O’ Connor, Peter Hook and the Light, Chas & Dave, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, The Wedding Present and Charlotte Church,

Cambridge Folk Festival
Where: Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge
When: July 31-August 3
How much: From £50
Vibe: One of Europe’s most renowned festivals, where quality acts play in a uniquely intimate venue. However, this means tickets sell out fast, so if you miss out this year, make sure you put it in your calendar for 2015.
Who’s playing: An impressive list of headline acts includes Newton Faulkner, Sinéad O’Connor, Rosanne Cash and Van Morrison. Full listings can be found on the website.

Wilderness Festival
Where: Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire
When: August 7-10
How much: Weekend £152.00
Vibe: A celebration of culture, food, outdoor pursuits and theatre, Wilderness has a little of something for all tastes. Oh, and did we mention the late-night partying?
Who’s playing: Headline acts include London Grammar, Burt Bacharach and Metronomy. Find a full list of performers can be found on the event’s website.

Getting out of mud-filled car parks

In the same way we all knew England’s World Cup campaign would end in pain, another summer certainty is the inevitable TV footage of festival-goers attempting to extricate their cars from 8ft-deep mud in makeshift car parks across the country. There’s no need to be caught out, though, simply follow this guide to coping with car park mud.

  • Stay calm: While everyone else is up to their axles in the brown stuff, staying calm and assessing the situation will help ensure you have the best chance of escape.
  • Footwear: Make sure you swap your mud-encrusted wellies for clean, dry shoes when you get behind the wheel. Slimy footwear could result in slipping off the pedals and making a bad situation far worse.
  • Avoid the spin: Jumping into your jalopy and burying the accelerator will only ensure you go down rather than forward. Aid your chances of gaining traction by pulling away in second gear. This will reduce the chance of wheelspin. If you’re driving a larger automatic, select ‘D2’.
  • Traction action: Taking some ‘traction aid’ with you will help keep your car moving while others are left wallowing in the slime. Pack your car with old cardboard or bags of cat litter. You can then place this around your ‘drive’ wheels to improve traction. You can even buy specially designed gadgets for this, such as these ‘escape tracks’ from the RAC.
  • Keep on rolling: Once you gain traction, keep moving. Remain in a low gear and keep throttle inputs to an absolute minimum.
  • Tramlines: It might be tempting to follow tramlines created by other vehicles, but these will be full of mud and deep, invisible holes just waiting to beach your vehicle.
  • Towing: Make sure you know where your car’s towing eye is before you set off. Many are kept with the jack, but you’ll need to make sure yours is where it should be. If not, get a new one before you travel. Also, before you get going, make sure you speak to the towing driver and plan your route. If you’re a member of the AA, the motoring organisation operates a Special Operations Response Team (AA SORT) which will come and extricate you from just about any situation .

V Festival
Where: Hylands Park, Chelmsford and Weston Park, South Staffordshire
When: August 16-17
How much: Weekend £89.00/day; £189.00/weekend (with camping)
Vibe: One of the ‘big’ festivals, V is held at two sites – in Essex and South Staffs – and offers a big-hitting selection of commercial acts that’ll ensure you’re able to sing along to most bands and performers taking to the stage.
Who’s playing: Sing along with headliners such as Justin Timberlake and The Killers, plus supporting acts such as Ed Sheeran, Elbow, Kaiser Chiefs, Manic Street Preachers, Paolo Nutini and Lily Allen. Visit the V Festival website for full list of acts and locations.

Where: Daresbury Estate, Warrington, Cheshire
When: August 22-24
How much: Weekend £180.00 for weekend
Vibe: The long-running dance daddy is back for another year, with a 60,000 sell-out crowd expected. Not really a surprise considering the A-list-packed bill.
Who’s playing: Headline names include Calvin Harris, Tiesto, Avicii, Pete Tong, Eric Prydz and Annie Mac. Check the website for a full bill listing.

Reading and Leeds Festival

Leeds Festival Image credit

Leeds Festival: Image credit

Where: Richfield Avenue, Reading and Bramham Park, Leeds
When: August 22-24
How much: Weekend £213.00 for weekend
Vibe: Another double-header, with Reading and Leeds both hosting an event. Both events peddle a guitar-heavy selection of alternative, punk, indie and metal.
Who’s playing: Impressive headline acts include Queens of the Stone Age, Paramore, Arctic Monkeys and Blink 182 – but there’s so much more. Check the website.

The Big Festival
Where: Churchill Heath Farm, Kingham, Oxfordshire
When: August 29-31
How much: Weekend £115.00 for weekend
Vibe: Hosted by Blur bassist Alex James and celeb chef Jamie Oliver, expect plenty of designer wellies, smug parents and expensively dressed young children running around the musician’s farm.
Who’s playing: Fatboy Slim and Jamie Cullum lead the big names, check the website for more.

The Bestival
Where: Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight
When: September 4-7
How much: Weekend £180.50 for weekend
Vibe: With 20 stages on offer, there really will be something to tempt everyone into the mosh pit. It’s the final festival hurrah of the summer, so don’t miss out.
Who’s playing: Basement Jaxx, Busta Rhymes, Disclosure, Laura Mvula, London Grammar, Major Lazer, Paloma Faith, Sam Smith, Wild Beasts. Check the website for more.



Live from the Goodwood Festival of Speed

Welcome to our live coverage from day 1 of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where we’ll be reporting direct from the the site throughout the day.

75030peuWe’ll be bringing you the best of the action and unique atmosphere from this most-iconic of motor sport-inspired events. We’ll be uploading photos, videos, audio clips and news from around 10.00am on Thursday, June 26. Join us trackside for a fix of hi-octane action as it happens.


Driving gadgets – summer 2014

Summer’s coming, so it’s time to browse our latest collection of motoring-related gadgets. From all-new toys to classic innovation, here’s our summer selection of must-have gadgets for your car – as compiled by the Crawley Down Group.

 Must-have driving gadgets at a glance…

Hover your cursor over the gadgets below for a quick description, then click on the link for an in-depth analysis and purchase details.

EE Buzzard – Wi-fi for your car

Connect up to 10 devices

Connect up to 10 devices

Anyone who suffers from post-connectivity disorder the moment they step three inches beyond the confines of a Wi-Fi network will be relieved hear that help has arrived. The all-new EE Buzzard is an internet device that will convert your car from a mere mode of transport into a fully functioning, super-fast Mi-Fi hub.

Designed to fit in your drinks holder, the coke can-sized device plugs into your 12v cigarette socket and provides an online connection for up to 10 devices.

The Buzzard launched on May 28 and will be available with data plans from £10 a month on a two-year deal and an upfront payment of £19.00. There will also be a £49.00 pay-as-you-go option.
How much: From £19.00 upfront with monthly data charges from £10. Pay-as-you-go also available.
Where: Head to

The Doona – a baby seat that’s a buggy

A car seat that's a buggy, too

A car seat that’s a buggy, too

It could well be the answer to every parent’s dream; a baby seat that at the flick of a clip folds out into a stylish stroller.

Collapsing it again is slightly more time consuming, with a four-step process required, but just think of all that bootspace you’ll be saving. It weighs 15lbs and comes in seven colours, including bright pink and sky blue.

It has passed stringent UK testing procedures for baby seats, so there’s no need to worry about safety.
How much: £299.00
Where: Pre-order the Doona at

Digital Tiny Traveller Wireless Baby Monitor

A safer way to keep an eye on baby

A safer way to keep an eye on baby

Research reveals that children – young babies in particular – are one of the top reasons for motorists to become dangerously distracted while driving. That’s where the Digital Tiny Traveller Wireless Baby Monitor for Your Car comes into its own – with the snappily-named device allowing you to keep a quick eye on junior, while also keeping your eyes on the road.

Simply train the camera on your baby – using one of three mounting options that cover front- and rear-facing seats – stick the monitor to your screen and keep a watchful wireless eye on the child without ever having to turn round.

The system includes night vision viewing, so you’ll never be left in the dark. The kit comes with a camera, monitor and all the mounts you’ll need. With no hard-wiring to worry about, it’s simple to install, too.
How much: From £159.99
Where: Buy it at

Get a supercar soundtrack

Give your vehicle a supercar soundtrack

Give your vehicle a supercar soundtrack

Ever had the desire to drive a Ferrari 512, but you have bank account that suggests a mid-noughties Ford Fiesta is more suitable? You need the SoundRacer V12.

The device uses an innovative FM transmitter to fill your car with the soundtrack of a real-life Ferrari 512 V12 engine. The device hooks up with your FM tuner to pump the V12’s sports-tuned exhaust roar through your car’s speakers.

It reacts to throttle inputs, giving an authentic audio experience for wannabe prancing horse pilots – whatever they’re driving. It’s not perfect, but makes a great gift for the car geek in your life – or even as a treatment for men in their 40s who’ve suddenly started using Just For Men hair dye, shaving their nostrils and plunging head-first into a mid-life crisis…

How much: £29.99

Espresso maker for your motor

Make an espresso from the comfort of your car

Make an espresso from the comfort of your car

Anyone who’s ever had to buy coffee from a motorway service station will know what it’s like to be both robbed and poisoned at the same time! However, never again will you be denied the right to feed your caffeine addiction while travelling the UK’s highways and byways.

Meet the A Modo Mio Espressego…a portable capsule-powered coffee machine that brews the perfect espresso wherever you are.

Simply pull over, plug it into your cigarette lighter, add water and within two minutes you’ll be sipping a thermos of aromatic black nectar – right there in your car. The manufacturer offers 10 blends, which can be bought in packs of 16 for £3.89… that’s almost half a cup of lukewarm froth in your local high street emporium. It’s light, compact and highly recommended.
How much: £89.00

Pay-as-you-go GPS tracking device


Keep an eye on your car

Worried about having your car stolen – or just a little concerned you might forget where you parked it? This mini GPS tracker could be just the thing.

No expensive or complicated fitment involved, simply magnetically attach it to the underside of your vehicle and get ready to track. Once the purchase price is taken care of, all you’ll need is an active pay-as-you-go SIM card and a smartphone.

Want to know where your car is? Simply send a text to the SIM card number and it’ll reply with an SMS detailing its co-ordinates, vehicle speed, time and date. The device will also include a link to view its current location using Google maps.

Don’t worry about the tracker’s magnetic purchase on the underside of your car, its adhesive properties are equivalent to 50kg  – ensuring that even the most determined speed hump or pothole will fail in its mission to shake it off. It’s waterproof and has standby battery power that’s good for up to three weeks, according to the manufacturer. It also has a ‘shock’ sensor, that can be set-up to let you know when the tracker has started to move.

How much: £226.00

 Kärcher Chassis Cleaner

Clean chassis means safer driving

Clean chassis means safer driving

Despite what the reality looking out the window might tell you, a quick check of the calendar will, in fact, confirm it’s summer. So, after a long, hard winter it’s time to tackle the grime and give your car its annual spring clean.

However, liberating your vehicle’s chassis from the corrosive effects of road salt is not really what your trusty sponge was designed for.

Enter the Kärcher Chassis cleaner! Simply attach it to your Kärcher pressure washer and slide it beneath your vehicle for high-powered shampoo and rinse.

It can also be used to deliver a layer of protective treatment that will last for six weeks – potentially adding cash to your vehicle when selling and slashing repair bills at MoT time.
How much: £69.99

Portable stove  that charges your phone

Travel stove will cook your tea and charge your phone

Travel stove will cook your tea and charge your phone

Heading off on a road trip? Then don’t leave home without this innovative travel stove that, along with not requiring you to carry any flammable fuels, will also charge your phone as it fries your bacon and eggs.

Rather than running on dangerous fuels, such as gas or paraffin, the Biolite Campstove is powered solely by sticks you find lying around.Fan powered jets of air then circulate through the combustion chamber to create the heat you need to cook.

None of the heat is wasted, either – it’s simply converted into electricity to power the fans and as a source of energy for other devices. Plug your phone into the cooker and get a free charge to go with your dinner. Smartphone usability and food  – that’s the essential covered, then.

How much: £129.96

Alcosense Digital Breathalyser Lite

Are you over the limit the morning after?

Are you over the limit the morning after?

We all understand that drinking and driving is unacceptable, but this device can help ensure you don’t drive the next day while still over the limit.

The way our body deals with alcohol varies significantly from person to person, with some remaining over the limit for up to 12 hours  – despite imbibing just a couple of drinks. The pocket-sized Alcosense device is one of the best on the market and analyses our breath in the same way as roadside units employed by the police.

Simply plug in a tube, turn it on, wait for the countdown and blow. Keep going until you hear a bleep and wait for your result. It uses the same metrics as the police, so a result of 0.9bac means you’re over the limit. With 17% of all drink-drive prosecutions resulting from ‘morning after’ breath tests, this really is a vital piece of kit for your car.
How much: £39.99

Halfords 4-Way Multi-Socket

Feed your power-hungry digital pets

Feed your power-hungry digital pets

With smartphones, iPods, sat-navs and other such devices fighting for power in your car, the Halfords 4-Way Multi-Socket is just the thing to keep your digital pets happy and fed while on the road.

Simply plug it into your cigarette lighter and – as the name hints – let it deliver power to a maximum of four devices.

There’s also a feature to show the status of your car battery.
How much: £12.99

 The gadget we’re waiting for… self-cleaning cars

Let’s face it, we’ve all got something better to do on a Sunday morning than get up and wash our cars. Nissan engineers seem to agree, because they’re carrying out tests on a new paint system that repels mud and grime. Watch the video to see just how well it works.


Want to see more tech and gadgets? Have a look at out blackbox video app feature.

New Website

Our new website and virtual showroom

Welcome to The Crawley Down Group’s all-new virtual showroom and service centre. Read on to find out how our new website will help drive a customer experience that can’t be rivalled for convenience, while also delivering an interactive service that’s ready and waiting whenever you need it. Here are just few highlights of the many innovative online services we’re proud to offer…

At-a-glance guide…

Here’s a quick overview of what’s new. Simply hover your cursor over the hot-spots to find out more. Scroll down for more in-depth analysis of new features.

New car showroom:

Visit our virtual showroom

Visit our virtual showroom

Enter the virtual showroom and take a tour of our all-new car pages. Browse The Crawley Down Group’s entire range of makes and models then drill down into each individual variant – finding the exact version that’s a perfect fit for your requirements.

Our easy-to-read pages provide all the must-have information you’ll need when choosing your next car. From average fuel economy and CO2 emissions to how much you’ll be paying for Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax), we have the numbers that count. We’ve stripped back the jargon and noise to ensure the information you want can easily shine through.

Visit the virtual showroom and we’re sure you’ll be impressed.

Used cars – get an instant finance quote:

Get an instant finance quote with all the cars

Get an instant finance quote with all the cars

Buying a used car can be a great way to get the car you really want at an equally attractive price. We hold a large selection of vehicles that encompasses all makes and models, which you can search right here on our all-new website.

Best of all, though, we automatically provide you with a full finance quote explaining how much you’ll have to pay throughout the purchase process. We’ll give you all the information you need to make a decision that’s right for you and your budget.

You’ll love this transparent, easy-to-read quotation service and we’re sure you’ll find a car to love, too.

Request an MOT or Service:

Request an MOT or service - whatever time of day it is

Request an MOT or service – whatever time of day it is

As motorists, you know that booking an MOT or service shouldn’t be a drama!

We agree, which is why you can use our website to request a booking without the need to be left stewing to a infuriatingly annoying version of Greensleeves – only to be met by a recorded message informing you the service department is ‘now closed’ and you should call back during office hours.

Our service is never too busy to take your requests and it doesn’t shut down and go home at 5.30pm, either. It’ll be right here 24 hours a day – ready when you are.

Free car valuations:

Online valuations for your car - when you need them

Online valuations for your car – when you need them

Finances play a major part in any car purchase, which is why our free online valuation section makes an essential car-buying tool for anyone considering a new vehicle.

Knowing how much your car is worth as a part-exchange asset will help provide vital information to ensure you can optimise your purchasing power. Simply type in your registration details, give us a few details and we’ll provide a part-exchange value.

Try it now and see just how much your vehicle could be worth against an all-new model… you might be pleasantly surprised.


Use our new website while you're out and about

Use our new website while you’re out and about

We know that much of your online business has shifted to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets – which is why we’ve reacted to your needs with our all-new mobile-responsive website design.

We’ve cut back the noise and created a clear, easy-to-use website that responds to whatever size of screen you’re viewing it on – providing a fast and fully functional service wherever you are.

No complicated mobile-specific urls are required, just log on as normal and we’ll make sure you get the right view for the device you’re using.


Call our friendly, expert staff to discuss your Motability needs Contact our friendly, expert staff to discuss your needs

Call our friendly, expert staff to discuss your Motability needs

If you need advice on Motability vehicles, or want to find out if you could be eligible to join the scheme, The Crawley Down Group is here to help.

Just head to our new Motability section and we’ll help you find the information you need to get on the road with this vital scheme that ensures disabled people of all ages have easy, affordable access to a car that’s right for their specific needs.

Simply fill in the online form and we’ll get straight back to you.

Blogs, features and advice:

Get the latest news and advice from our blog section

Get the latest news and advice from our blog section

Take a look at our blog and advice section for all the latest in motoring-related topics that matter to you. From seasonal advice guides, to claiming compensation for a pothole-inflicted auto injury, we’ve got it all.

Don’t forget to send us a message if you have a subject you want covered – we’re here for you, after all.

We hope you like our new site – why not use the comments section below to let us know your thoughts.



Celebrate with the chance to win an iPad Mini

To celebrate the launch of the brand new website, CDG are giving away an iPad mini!

To find out more and how to enter visit

The competition closes at midday on 20th June.
Good luck!

A303 Stonehenge

Bank Holiday Weekend Driving

Bank Holidays are great… until you step from your door, jump in your car and grind to a halt twenty yards down the road. Don’t despair though, the Crawley Down Group has all the info you need to swerve the getaway gridlock.

Traffic jam

Be prepared this Bank Holiday

Before you go…

Ensuring your trusty jalopy doesn’t end up at the side of the road in a steaming mess is a great way to make sure your trip comes with a suitably happy ending – and with Bank Holiday escapades signalling the end of winter hibernation for many cars, this garage-ridden sojourn could leave you motor in need of some serious tlc.

Here’s our pre-journey check list for anyone heading out for a weekend away this Bank Holiday weekend.

Top tips to beat Bank Holiday gridlock

1) Plan your journey in advance, allowing plenty of time for breaks and unexpected toilet stops.

2) Always assume that traffic will be heavy, so adjust your ETA accordingly.

3) Complete pre-journey vehicle checks (see above) at least a day before you travel.

4) Pack driving-related documentation such as licence, insurance certificate and breakdown cover.

5) Charge your mobile phone.

6) Pack luggage in advance of your departure time – allowing time for bags to be repacked or culled if they don’t fit.

7) Pack a coolbox with plenty of snacks and water.

8) Plan breaks – the driver should rest for at least 20 minutes every 2.5 hours.

Where to go…

From weekends away, to day trips in the South East, here are a few of our favourite things to do on a ‘summer’ Bank Holiday weekend…

Beside the seaside

Brighton Pier

Brighton Pier – just one of the Sussex city’s many attractions
Image credit:

Brighton: A must-go destination whatever the weather, with plenty of attractions, shopping and eating opportunities for all.
Where to go: Grab the official Visit Brighton App with sections covering Things to See & Do, Food & Drink, What’s On, Where to Stay and Shopping. The app contains listings for hundreds of businesses, opening times, admission prices, locations and contact details. Also included are ‘Live’ event listings, mini-guides to the ‘City Villages’ of Brighton & Hove, and links to themed walking tour podcasts
Donwload the Visit Brighton app: for iPhone  and Android.

No way motorway…

Why not ignore your sat-nav’s soulless addiction to motorway travel and take the drivers’ choice for a change…

Avoid the clogged arteries of the M25 and M3, by experiencing the anomaly that is the A272… running lazily from Cross In Hand in East Sussex, to beyond Winchester, it winds serenely between the stunning scenery of the North and South Downs. The lack of dual carriageway sections and its virtually entirely rural route is said to give drivers an experience which is reminiscent of English country roads as they were 50 or more years ago. To some it’s the only way to traverse the South, while to others it’s the worst b****y road in the region. Try it and let us know where you sit on this one.


The A272… the South East’s alternative gateway to the West
Image credit: Peter Jordan

Once you reach the westerly head of the A272, you’ll be able join that ‘highway to the sun’ – the iconic A303. From here you’ll be able to enjoy one of the quintessential UK routes that remind motorists of a time when driving was something to relished and not merely a series of uninspiring stop-start slogs between anonymous motorway junctions.

Can’t wait to get out on the road? Then take a ride along the A303 from Basingstoke to Honiton with the 95.6-mile section covered in 5.44 minutes – at an average speed of 1000mph.


Motorway savings

If you chose to travel on a motorway over the Bank Holiday weekend, then don’t get ‘taken advantage of’ by service stations. Motorway services will add around 10p per litre of fuel compared with local stations and double the price of food and drinks. A basic cheese sandwich was found to cost £3.99 at some motorway service stations, while a similar sarnie could be bought for around £1.00 on nearby high streets, according to the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

Avoid this assault  on your wallet by downloading an app such as What Gas Petrol Prices, which will help locate petrol stations close to the motorway where the cost of fuel and snacks will be far more palatable.

Keeping the kids happy

Why not leave the iPad behind and introduce your kids to some old-skool car games from your childhood? Go pre-pixel with some of these classics…

Rock, scissors, paper

Rock, scissors, paper… how to play

Rock Paper Scissors: An age-old fave that requires no preparation – apart from getting the rules and instructions here.

Link Words: Players choose a category, such as cars, then the first player picks a related word, such as Skoda. The next player has to think of a car make that starts with the last letter of the previous one – so Aston Martin would suffice for this example. Anyone who falters is out!

I Spy: The ‘daddy’ of all old-skool car games. A player chooses an object they can see and says… ‘I spy with my little eye something beginning with …’, the others then have to guess the object.  Make sure their choice isn’t likely to be 25 miles back down the road by the time everyone gives up, as the ensuing rear-seat massacre might taint the otherwise happy holiday atmosphere.

When I went to the Car Boot Sale: A car-related variation on the ‘I went to market’ game. The first player says ‘when I went to the car boot sale I bought a VHS copy of Jane Fonda’s fitness workout (other obsolete items also available)’, the second player then repeats this and adds another item and so on. Anyone who forgets a ‘purchase’ – probably an age-addled adult – is ridiculed and booted out of the game.

Silence of the Lambs: A great example of reverse psychology that’s useful when you need a break from the incessant clatter of back-seat chatter. Simply offer a sweet for the person who can be quietest for the longest period… sit back and enjoy the ensuing 4.5 seconds of unadulterated peace and quiet.

When stress strikes…

If the worst happens and you find yourself as the filling of a 10-mile automotive sandwich, then follow these stress-busting tips from automotive psychologist Conrad King.

1)      Avoid the smell of fast foods, fresh bread and pastry. This will make you hungry and increase your need to drive fast to find sustenance. If you’re unable to do this, stress and irritability will increase.

2)      However, some smells are said to improve your mood and driving ability. These include peppermint and cinnamon. Lemon and coffee also help to clear the red mist, so pack plenty of Polos and coffee for a stress-free and fresh-breathed trip this May Bank Holiday.

Your perfect Bank Holiday drives

A303 Stonehenge

Is the A303 past Stonehenge one of your favourite drives? Let us know
Image credit: Pam Brophy

We’d love to know your all-time top Bank Holiday road trips. Send yours here and we’ll post them for all to enjoy.

Have fun out there…