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THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN


I


t takes all kinds of people to own a Subaru Impreza. They come from all walks of life. All age brackets. From the backward baseball cap-wearer, to the speed freak, the family man to the professional. Yet, I had never come across a chemical analyst, a scientist working for one of Ireland’s foremost ethical and analytical pharmaceutical firms, owning an example, until I met Colin Kyle, a charming 30 year old, possessing a keen eye for performance matters, balanced by a wit and intelligence that could only have arisen from his intensive education background. Yet, despite a career that commenced, when he left university to work as an analytical scientist for another major firm, a clue to his automotive fascination lies in a family steeped in a background of Ford Motor Company (Visteon) employment. It was inevitable that his first car should be a Ford Ka, followed in short order by a variety of small Fords, including various Fiestas that culminated in a rather special five-door Q-car. “Truth is,” admitted Colin, “I could never leave them alone. I was always changing something on the car, adding some ‘go-faster’ goodies, or messing around with suspension and brakes. However, my ultimate Fiesta was based on the Mark Four ‘Zetec S’ model, to which I had fitted the engine and running gear from a Ford Puma Racing (the wide-bodied, RS-blue finished, super-sporting, homologation car that enabled Ford to rally its pretty Puma Coupe in the 1990s - Ed).


“It was such an innocuous machine. Scarcely anybody knew what it was, because I kept it looking as standard as possible, although it had Mondeo V6 brakes and seriously modified suspension components to ensure that it handled as strongly as it performed.”


Named ‘Matilda’, after the unerringly accurate rifle used by Sean Connery in the film, ‘The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen’, a potential basket-case of


an STi Version 5 has been turned into an astonishingly rapid road and drag-star by its Irish owner and he shows no signs of wishing to relinquish his grip on it.


CHANGE OF DIRECTION Most of Colin’s family had been employed by Ford, until the company decided to rationalise its component production base, which it relocated to its other Visteon plants in Palmela, Portugal, and points north and east of there. Visteon, it should be highlighted, was Ford’s ‘just-in-time’ sub-production facility, making extruded plastic mouldings for inlet manifolds, as well as assembling in-car entertainment units for its Ford-Sound systems. Yet, Colin was looking for his ‘perfect job’. Being a young man, keen to exercise his personal employment rights and to find his feet in the market, in 2005 he accepted a job offer from some friends, who owned and had a close association with East Coast Customs, the Lisburn-based tuning house. It was a radical departure, from what he had been trained for, but Colin felt an unerring desire to explore its potential. In some respects, it was fortunate that he had been given the opportunity of a job that some young chaps would simply die to carry out. “Naturally, it would create a ‘blip’ in my curriculum vitae,” he confessed, “but I knew that I had to do it. Things could have been so different, mind you, had I not. The chances were, I would never have found ‘Matilda’ and I might never had discovered such an easy


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