As has been observed on these pages before, Breakfast Club meetings have sprung up all over the country in recent years, and they have become very popular. Indeed, many have outgrown their original locations, or have had to had a ticketing system introduced to try to retain some form of control over numbers. That’s not happened to this one (yet), and with a vast amount of space available even without encroaching in the Orchard, it could easily cope with even more people than it currently seems to attract, should the need arise. Whilst some events take place every month, others, and this is one of them, are restricted to the warmer months of the year, so there are Prescott Breakfast Club meetings only from April to October, and of the seven that were in the diary for 2017, three of them were “away fixtures” (for which pre-booking was required). Such are the range of events taking place every weekend, I have only managed to attend one of the “home fixtures” in 2017, and note that I did not even achieve that in the previous year. By mid October, when the events calendar is starting to look a little less congested, the weather is going to be more or a risk for those with cars that prefer sunnier and drier conditions, but despite a forecast, and indeed a reality that was, well, autumnal, there was a good crowd of cars and people at this event, numbers swelled by a massive presence from the Morgan Owners Club, who were the latest Club to decide to coincide a meeting like this with a meeting of their own, something that Prescott encourages. I had a very short journey to the event, having paid a visit to to my mother the afternoon and evening before, and as she is in Gotherington, it was only a mile or so for me to get to see what was already on site and to enjoy the arrival of cars after me. Here is a review of what came along.
Alphabetically, the first car to present is this AC Ace, and that seems fitting as it is a car that is almost always at Prescott whenever I visit, usually to be found in the parking area for the marshalls. AC had come back to the market after the Second World War with the staid 2-Litre range of cars in 1947, but it was with the Ace sports car of 1953 that the company really made its reputation in the post war years. Casting around for a replacement for the ageing 2-Litre, AC took up a design by John Tojeiro that used a light ladder type tubular frame, all independent transverse leaf spring suspension, and an open two seater alloy body made using English wheeling machines, possibly inspired by the Ferrari Barchetta of the day. Early cars used AC’s elderly 100 bhp two-litre overhead cam straight-six engine (first seen soon after the end of the First World War), which, according to a 1954 road test by Motor magazine, gave a top speed of 103 mph, a 0–60 mph in 11.4 seconds and a fuel consumption of 25.2 mpg. It was hardly a sporting engine, however, and it was felt that something more modern and powerful was required to put the modern chassis to good use. Joining the Ace in 1954 was the Aceca hard top coupé, which had an early form of hatchback rear door but used the same basic timber framed alloy body. From 1956, there was the option of Bristol Cars’ two-litre 120 bhp straight-six with 3 downdraught carburettors and slick four-speed gearbox. Top speed leapt to 116 mph with 0–60 mph in the nine second bracket. Overdrive was available from 1956 and front disc brakes were an option from 1957, although they were later standardised. In 1961 a new 2.6-litre straight-six ‘Ruddspeed’ option was available, adapted by Ken Rudd from the unit used in the Ford Zephyr. It used three Weber or SU carburettors and either a ‘Mays’ or an iron cast head. This setup boosted the car’s performance further, with some versions tuned to 170 bhp, providing a top speed of 130 mph and 0–60 mph in 8.1 seconds. However, it was not long before Carroll Shelby drew AC’s attention to the Cobra, so only 37 of the 2.6 models were made. These Ford engined models had a smaller grille which was carried over to the Cobra.
Also present were a couple of Cobra, or rather Cobra replicas, as neither of these were examples of the now rare and valuable original cars, but rather a couple of the many recreations built more or less continuously since the 1970s. I rather liked it.
Related to the Cobra is the Shelby Daytona Coupe. This American sports-coupé was loosely based on the AC’s chassis and drive-train. It was built for racing, specifically to take on Ferrari and its 250 GTO in the GT class. Just six Shelby Daytona Coupes were built between 1964 and 1965, before Shelby was reassigned to the Ford GT40 project to compete at the 24 hours of Le Mans, again to beat Ferrari in the highest level prototype class. With the Shelby Daytona, Shelby became the first American constructor to win a title on the international scene at the FIA World Sportscar Championship in 1965 and has recently been chosen for historic preservation as a significant vehicle in the history of auto racing. Those six cars are immensely valuable, and you only see them occasionally – most notably when 5 of them were gathered together at the Goodwood Festival of Speed a few years ago. In July 2015, Shelby American announced that they would produce a limited run of 50 continuation Daytonas to honour the 50th anniversary of the Daytona’s win at the 1965 FIA Sports Car Championship. Some of the 50 are aluminium-bodied, while others have cheaper fibreglass bodies. The car seen here is not one of these, either. Instead, it is one of a series of reproductions which have been made over the years by a number of different companies, including: the Superformance Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe who made the “SPF Coupe”; Shelby Licensed Replica; All Pro Cars; Borland Racing Development’s Daytona Sportscar reproduction; Factory Five Racing’s Type 65 Coupe, reproduction; Shell Valley Companies’ 1964 Daytona Coupe Series II, reproduction; Lesher Motor Sports; and Kirkham Motor Sports 289 Coupe.
Alfa replaced the pretty Giulia-based Spider model with an all-new design which finally made its debut in 1966 together with the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce at an event organised in Gardone Riviera. With its boat tailed styling, it quickly found favour, even before taking a starring role in the film “The Graduate”. The original 1600cc engine was replaced by a more powerful 1750cc unit at the same time as the change was made to the rest of the range, and the car continued like this until 1970, when the first significant change to the exterior styling was introduced on the 1750 Spider Veloce, with the original’s distinctive elongated round tail changed to a more conventional cut-off tail, called the “Kamm tail”, as well as improving the luggage space. Numerous other small changes took place both inside and out, such as a slightly different grille, new doorhandles, a more raked windscreen, top-hinged pedals and improved interior trim. 1971 saw the Spider Veloce get a new, larger powerplant—a 1962 cc, 132 hp unit—and consequently the name was changed from 1750 Spider Veloce to 2000 Spider Veloce. The 1600 Spider restarted production a year later as the Spider 1600 Junior, and was visually identical to the 1300. 1974 saw the introduction of the rare, factory request, Spider-Targa. Based upon the Spider, it featured a Porsche style solid rear window and lift out roof panels, all made out of black GRP type material. Less than 2,000 models of such type were ever made and was the only part solid roof Spider until the introduction of the factory crafted hard top. The 1300 and 2000 cars were modified in 1974 and 1975 respectively to include two small seats behind the front seats, becoming a “two plus two” four seater. The 1300 model was discontinued in 1977. Also, between 1974 and 1976, the early-style stainless-steel bumpers were discontinued and replaced with black, rubber-clad units to meet increasingly stringent North American crash requirements. 4,557 examples of the 1300 Junior were made and 4,848 of the 1600 Junior as well as 16,320 2000 Spider Veloces and 22,059 of 2000 Spider Veloce US version. There were also 4,027 1750 Spider Veloces produced.
There was also a 105 Series Coupe model here. There’s a complex history to this much-loved classic. The first car was called the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT, and was revealed at a press event held at the then newly opened Arese plant on 9 September 1963, and displayed later the same month at the Frankfurt Motor Show. In its original form the Bertone body is known as scalino (step) or “step front”, because of the leading edge of the engine compartment lid which sat 1/4 an inch above the nose of the car. The Giulia Sprint GT can be distinguished from the later models by a number of features including: Exterior badging: Alfa Romeo logo on the front grille, a chrome script reading “Giulia Sprint GT” on the boot lid, and rectangular “Disegno di Bertone” badges aft of the front wheel arches; flat, chrome grille in plain, wide rectangular mesh without additional chrome bars; single-piece chrome bumpers; no overriders. Inside the cabin the padded vinyl dashboard was characterised by a concave horizontal fascia, finished in grey anti-glare crackle-effect paint. Four round instruments were inset in the fascia in front of the driver. The steering wheel was non-dished, with three aluminium spokes, a thin bakelite rim and a centre horn button. Vinyl-covered seats with cloth centres and a fully carpeted floor were standard, while leather upholstery was an extra-cost option. After initially marketing it as a four-seater, Alfa Romeo soon changed its definition of the car to a more realistic 2+2. The Giulia Sprint GT was fitted with the 1,570 cc version of Alfa Romeo’s all-aluminium twin cam inline four (78 mm bore × 82 mm stroke), which had first debuted on the 1962 Giulia Berlina. Breathing through two twin-choke Weber 40 DCOE 4 carburettors, on the Sprint GT this engine produced 105 hp at 6,000 rpm. Like all subsequent models, the Sprint GT was equipped with an all-synchromesh 5-speed manual transmission. The braking system comprised four Dunlop disc brakes and a vacuum servo. The rear brakes featured an unusual arrangement with the slave cylinders mounted on the axle tubes, operating the calipers by a system of levers and cranks. According to Alfa Romeo the car could reach a top speed of “over 180 km/h (112 mph)”. In total 21,902 Giulia Sprint GT were produced from 1963 to 1965, when the model was superceded by the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce. Of these 2,274 were right hand drive: 1,354 cars fully finished in Arese, and 920 shipped in complete knock-down kit form for foreign assembly. For 1966, the Giulia Sprint GT was replaced by the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, which was very similar but featuring a number of improvements: a revised engine—slightly more powerful and with more torque—better interior fittings and changes to the exterior trim. Alongside the brand new 1750 Spider Veloce which shared its updated engine the Sprint GT Veloce was introduced at the 36th Geneva Motor Show in March 1966, and then tested by the international specialist press in Gardone on the Garda Lake. Production had began in 1965 and ended in 1968. The Giulia Sprint GT Veloce can be most easily distinguished from other models by the following features: badging as per Giulia Sprint GT, with the addition of round enamel badges on the C-pillar—a green Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover) on an ivory background—and a chrome “Veloce” script on the tail panel; black mesh grille with three horizontal chrome bars; the grille heart has 7 bars instead of 6; stainless steel bumpers, as opposed to the chromed mild steel bumpers on the Giulia Sprint GT. The bumpers are the same shape, but are made in two pieces (front) and three pieces (rear) with small covers hiding the joining rivets. Inside the main changes from the Giulia Sprint GT were imitation wood dashboard fascia instead of the previous anti-glare grey finish, front seats revised to a mild “bucket” design, and a dished three aluminium spoke steering wheel, with a black rim and horn buttons through the spokes. The Veloce’s type 00536 engine, identical to the Spider 1600 Duetto’s, featured modifications compared to the Giulia Sprint GT’s type 00502—such as larger diameter exhaust valves. As a result it produced 108 hp at 6,000 rpm, an increase of 3 hp over the previous model, and significantly more torque. The top speed now exceeded 185 km/h (115 mph). Early Giulia Sprint GT Veloces featured the same Dunlop disc brake system as the Giulia Sprint GT, while later cars substituted ATE disc brakes as pioneered on the GT 1300 Junior in 1966. The ATE brakes featured an handbrake system entirely separate from the pedal brakes, using drum brakes incorporated in the rear disc castings. Though the Sprint GT Veloce’s replacement—the 1750 GT Veloce—was introduced in 1967, production continued throughout the year and thirty final cars were completed in 1968. By then total Giulia Sprint GT Veloce production amounted to 14,240 examples. 1,407 of these were right hand drive cars, and 332 right hand drive complete knock-down kits. The Alfa Romeo 1750 GT Veloce (also known as 1750 GTV) appeared in 1967 along with the 1750 Berlina sedan and 1750 Spider. The same type of engine was used to power all three versions; this rationalisation was a first for Alfa Romeo. The 1750 GTV replaced the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce and introduced many updates and modifications. Most significantly, the engine capacity was increased to 1779 cc displacement. Peak power from the engine was increased to 120 hp at 5500 rpm. The stroke was lengthened from 82 to 88.5 mm over the 1600 engine, and a reduced rev limit from 7000 rpm to 6000 rpm. Maximum torque was increased to 137 lb·ft at 3000 rpm. A higher ratio final drive was fitted (10/41 instead of 9/41) but the same gearbox ratios were retained. The result was that, on paper, the car had only slightly improved performance compared to the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, but on the road it was much more flexible to drive and it was easier to maintain higher average speeds for fast touring. For the United States market, the 1779 cc engine was fitted with a fuel injection system made by Alfa Romeo subsidiary SPICA, to meet emission control laws that were coming into effect at the time. Fuel injection was also featured on Canadian market cars after 1971. Carburettors were retained for other markets. The chassis was also significantly modified. Tyre size went to 165/14 from 155/15 and wheel size to 5 1/2J x 14 instead of 5J x 15, giving a wider section and slightly smaller rolling diameter. The suspension geometry was also revised, and an anti-roll bar was fitted to the rear suspension. ATE disc brakes were fitted from the outset, but with bigger front discs and calipers than the ones fitted to GT 1300 Juniors and late Giulia Sprint GT Veloces. The changes resulted in significant improvements to the handling and braking, which once again made it easier for the driver to maintain high average speeds for fast touring. The 1750 GTV also departed significantly from the earlier cars externally. New nose styling eliminated the “stepped” bonnet of the Giulia Sprint GT, GTC, GTA and early GT 1300 Juniors and incorporated four headlamps. For the 1971 model year, United States market 1750 GTV’s also featured larger rear light clusters (there were no 1970 model year Alfas on the US market). Besides the chrome “1750” badge on the bootlid, there was also a round Alfa Romeo badge. Similar Quadrofoglio badges to those on the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce were fitted on C pillars, but the Quadrofoglio was coloured gold instead of green. The car also adopted the higher rear wheelarches first seen on the GT 1300 Junior. The interior was also much modified over that of earlier cars. There was a new dashboard with large speedometer and tachometer instruments in twin binnacles closer to the driver’s line of sight. The instruments were mounted at a more conventional angle, avoiding the reflections caused by the upward angled flat dash of earlier cars. Conversely, auxiliary instruments were moved to angled bezels in the centre console, further from the driver’s line of sight than before. The new seats introduced adjustable headrests which merged with the top of the seat when fully down. The window winder levers, the door release levers and the quarterlight vent knobs were also restyled. The remote release for the boot lid, located on the inside of the door opening on the B-post just under the door lock striker, was moved from the right hand side of the car to the left hand side. The location of this item was always independent of whether the car was left hand drive or right hand drive. Early (Series 1) 1750 GTV’s featured the same bumpers as the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, with the front bumper modified to mount the indicator / sidelight units on the top of its corners, or under the bumper on US market cars. The Series 2 1750 GTV of 1970 introduced other mechanical changes, including a dual circuit braking system (split front and rear, with separate servos). The brake and clutch pedals on left hand drive cars were also of an improved pendant design, instead of the earlier floor-hinged type. On right hand drive cars the floor-hinged pedals were retained, as there was no space for the pedal box behind the carburettors. Externally, the series 2 1750 GTV is identified by new, slimmer bumpers with front and rear overriders. The combined front indicator and sidelight units were now mounted to the front panel instead of the front bumper, except again on the 1971-72 US/Canadian market cars. The interior was slightly modified, with the seats retaining the same basic outline but following a simpler design. 44,269 1750 GTVs were made before their replacement came along. That car was the 2000GTV. Introduced in 1971, together with the 2000 Berlina sedan and 2000 Spider, the 2 litre cars were replacements for the 1750 range. The engine displacement was increased to 1962 cc. The North American market cars had fuel injection, but everyone else retained carburettors. Officially, both versions generated the same power, 130 hp at 5500 rpm. The interior trim was changed, with the most notable differences being the introduction of a separate instrument cluster, instead of the gauges installed in the dash panel in earlier cars. Externally the 2000 GTV is most easily distinguished by its grille with horizontal chrome bars, featuring protruding blocks forming the familiar Alfa heart in outline, smaller hubcaps with exposed wheel nuts, optional aluminium alloy wheels of the same size as the standard 5. 1/2J × 14 steel items, styled to the “turbina” design first seen on the alloy wheels of the Alfa Romeo Montreal, and the larger rear light clusters first fitted to United States market 1750 GTV’s were standard for all markets. From 1974 on, the 105 Series coupé models were rationalised and these external features became common to post-1974 GT 1300 Junior and GT 1600 Junior models, with only few distinguishing features marking the difference between models. 37,459 2000 GTVs were made before production ended and these days they are very sought after with prices having sky-rocketed in recent years.
There was a much longer wait for a Coupe version of the AlfaSud than there had been for the larger Alfetta, the Alfasud Sprint being presented to the press in September 1976 in Baia Domizia and shown at the Turin Motor Show in November some five years after the launch of the saloon. Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro like the AlfaSud, whose mechanicals it was based on, it had a lower, more angular design, featuring a hatchback, although there were no folding rear seats. The AlfaSud Sprint was assembled together with the AlfaSud in the Pomigliano d’Arco plant, located in southern Italy—hence the original “Sud” moniker. Under the Alfasud Sprint’s bonnet there was a new version of the AlfaSud’s 1186 cc four-cylinder boxer engine, stroked to displace 1,286 cc, fed by a twin-choke carburettor and developing 75 hp at 6,000 rpm. Mated to the flat-four was a five-speed, all-synchromesh gearbox. The interior was upholstered in dark brown Texalfa leatherette and tartan cloth. Options were limited to alloy wheels, a quartz clock and metallic paint. In May 1978 the AlfaSud Sprint underwent its first updates, both cosmetic and technical. Engine choice was enlarged to two boxers, shared with the renewed AlfaSud ti, a 78 hp 1.3 (1,350 cc) and a 84 hp 1.5 (1,490 cc); the earlier 1286 cc unit was not offered anymore, remaining exclusive to the AlfaSud. Outside many exterior details were changed from chrome to matte black stainless steel or plastic, such as the wing mirrors, window surrounds and C-pillar ornaments; the B-pillar also received a black finish, the side repeaters changed position and became square, and the front turn signals switched from white to amber lenses. In the cabin the seats had more pronounced bolsters and were upholstered in a new camel-coloured fabric. Just one year later, in June 1979, another engine update arrived and the AlfaSud Sprint became the AlfaSud Sprint Veloce. Thanks to double twin-choke carburettors (each choke feeding a single cylinder) and a higher compression ratio engine output increased to 85 hp and 94 hp, respectively for the 1.3 and 1.5. In February 1983 Alfa Romeo updated all of its sports cars; the Sprint received a major facelift. Thereafter the AlfaSud prefix and Veloce suffix were abandoned, and the car was known as Alfa Romeo Sprint; this also in view of the release of the Alfa Romeo 33, which a few months later replaced the AlfaSud family hatchback. The Sprint also received a platform upgrade, which was now the same as that of the Alfa Romeo 33; this entailed modified front suspension, brakes mounted in the wheels instead of inboard like on the AlfaSud, and drum brakes at the rear end. Three models made up the Sprint range: 1.3 and 1.5, with engines and performance unchanged from the AlfaSud Sprint Veloce, and the new 1.5 Quadrifoglio Verde—1.5 Cloverleaf in the UK. A multitude of changes were involved in the stylistic refresh; there were a new grille, headlamps, wing mirrors, window surrounds and C-pillar ornaments. Bumpers went from chrome to plastic, and large plastic protective strips were added to the body sides; both sported coloured piping, which was grey for 1.3 cars, red for the 1.5 and green for the 1.5 Quadrifoglio. At the rear new trapezoidal tail light assemblies were pieced together with the license plate holder by a black plastic fascia, topped by an Alfa Romeo badge—never present on the AlfaSud Sprint. In the cabin there were new seats with cloth seating surfaces and Texalfa backs, a new steering wheel and changes to elements of the dashboard and door panels. Sprint 1.3 and 1.5 came with steel wheels with black hubcaps from the AlfaSud ti. The newly introduced 1.5 Quadrifoglio Verde sport variant was shown at the March 1983 Geneva Motor Show. Its engine was the 1,490 cc boxer, revised to put out 104 hp at 6,000 rpm; front brake discs were vented and the gearing shorter. In addition to the green bumper piping, also specific to the Quadrifoglio were a green instead of chrome scudetto in the front grille, a rear spoiler and 8-hole grey painted alloy wheels with metric Michelin TRX 190/55 tyres. Inside a three-spoke leather-covered steering wheel, green carpets and sport seats in black cloth with green embroidery. In November 1987 the Sprint was updated for the last time; the 1.3 variant was carried over, while the 1.5 engine was phased out and the 1.5 QV was superseded by the 116 hp Sprint 1.7 Quadrifoglio Verde. The 1,286 cc engine was directly derived from the 33 1.7 Quadrifoglio Verde, and could propel the Sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.3 seconds; to cope with the increased engine power, the 1.7 QV adopted vented brake discs upfront. the coloured piping and side plastic strips were deleted, and the Quadrifoglio had alloy wheels of a new design. A fuel injected and 3-way Catalytic converter-equipped 1.7 variant, with an engine again derived from a 33, was added later for sale in specific markets. There were a total of 116,552 Sprints produced during its lifespan, which lasted from 1976 to 1989. 15 of these formed the basis of the Australian-built Giocattolo sports car, which used a mid-mounted Holden 5.0 group A V8 engine. The Sprint had no direct predecessor or successor. The car seen here, another stalwart of Prescott, is one of the earlier models with the chrome bumpers.
Most recent Alfa here was a 916 Series 3.0 GTV. Like many an Alfa, the 916 GTV and Spider models achieved classic status almost before production ceased, and thanks to the much improved rust protection and build quality standards of the late 90s, the survival rate is good. Prices for the remaining cars did continue to diminish for some time but in recent months they have started to increase suggesting that the market has seen the appeal of these cars, something the owners did not need to be told. The 916 Series cars were conceived to replace two very different models in the Alfa range. First of these was the open topped 105 Series Spider which had been in production since 1966 and by the 1990s was long overdue a replacement. Alfa decided to combine a follow on to the Alfetta GTV, long out of production, with a new Spider model, and first work started in the late 1980s. The task was handed to Pininfarina, and Enrico Fumia’s initial renderings were produced in September 1987, with the first clay models to complete 1:1 scale model made in July 1988. Fumia produced something rather special. Clearly an Italian design, with the Alfa Romeo grille with dual round headlights, recalling the Audi-based Pininfarina Quartz, another design produced by Enrico Fumia back in 1981, the proposal was for a car that was low-slung, wedge-shaped with a low nose and high kicked up tail. The back of the car is “cut-off” with a “Kamm tail” giving improved aerodynamics. The Spider would share these traits with the GTV except that the rear is rounded, and would feature a folding soft-top with five hoop frame, which would completely disappear from sight under a flush fitting cover. An electric folding mechanism would be fitted as an option. Details included a one-piece rear lamp/foglamp/indicator strip across the rear of the body, the minor instruments in the centre console angled towards the driver. The exterior design was finished in July 1988. After Vittorio Ghidella, Fiat’s CEO, accepted the design, Alfa Romeo Centro Stile under Walter de Silva was made responsible for the completion of the detail work and also for the design of the interiors, as Pininfarina’s proposal was not accepted. The Spider and GTV were to be based on the then-current Fiat Group platform, called Tipo Due, in this case a heavily modified version with an all new multilink rear suspension. The front suspension and drivetrain was based on the 1992 Alfa Romeo 155 saloon. Chief engineer at that time was Bruno Cena. Drag coefficient was 0.33 for the GTV and 0.38 for the Spider. Production began in late 1993 with four cars, all 3.0 V6 Spiders, assembled at the Alfa Romeo Arese Plant in Milan. In early 1994 the first GTV was produced, with 2.0 Twin Spark engine. The first premiere was then held at the Paris Motor Show in 1994. The GTV and Spider were officially launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1995 and sales began the same year. The cars were well received. At launch, many journalists commented that Alfa had improved overall build quality considerably and that it came very close to equalling its German rivals. I can vouch for that, as I owned an early GTV for eighteen months, and it was a well built and reliable car. In 1997 a new engine, a 24-valve 3.0 litre V6, was available for the GTV along with bigger, 12.0 inch brakes and red four-pot calipers from Brembo. The console knobs were changed from round central to rectangle ones and to a three-spoke steering wheel. Some versions were upgraded with different front bumper mesh to bring the wind noise down to 74 dBA. In May 1998 the cars were revamped for the first time, creating the Phase 2 models. Most of the alterations were inside. The interior was changed with new centre console, painted letters on skirt seals, changed controls and switches arrangement and different instrument cluster. Outside, the main changes included chrome frame around the grille and colour-coded side skirts and bumpers. A new engine was introduced, the 142 hp 1.8 Twin Spark, and others were changed: the 2.0 Twin Spark was updated with a modular intake manifold with different length intakes and a different plastic cover. Power output of the 2.0 TS was raised to 153 hp. Engines changed engine management units and have a nomenclature of CF2. The dashboard was available in two new colours in addition to the standard black: Red Style and Blue Style, and with it new colour-coded upholstery and carpets. The 3.0 24V got a six-speed manual gearbox as standard and the 2.0 V6 TB engine was now also available for the Spider. August 2000 saw the revamp of engines to comply with new emission regulations, Euro3. The new engines were slightly detuned, and have a new identification code: CF3. 3.0 V6 12V was discontinued for the Spider and replaced with 24V Euro3 version from the GTV. 2.0 V6 Turbo and 1.8 T.Spark were discontinued as they did not comply with Euro3 emissions. By the 2001-2002 model year, only 2 engines were left, the 2.0 Twin.Spark and 3.0 V6 24V, until the Phase 3 engine range arrived. The Arese plant, where the cars had been built, was closing and, in October 2000, the production of GTV/Spider was transferred to Pininfarina Plant in San Giorgio Canavese in Turin. In 2003 there was another and final revamp, creating the Phase 3, also designed in Pininfarina but not by Enrico Fumia. The main changes were focused on the front with new 147-style grille and different front bumpers with offset numberplate holder. Change to the interior was minimal with different centre console and upholstery pattern and colours available. Instrument illumination colour was changed from green to red. Main specification change is an ASR traction control, not available for 2.0 TS Base model. New engines were introduced: 163 hp 2.0 JTS with direct petrol injection and 237 hp 3.2 V6 24V allowing a 158 mph top speed. Production ceased in late 2004, though some cars were still available for purchase till 2006. A total of 80,747 cars were made, and sales of the GTV and Spider were roughly equal. More V6 engined GTVs than Spiders were made, but in 2.0 guise, it was the other way round with the open model proving marginally more popular.
Even now, Alpina models are rare beasts, but go back to the 1970s and 1980s and they were almost unheard of. The first real presence that the marque had in the UK came in 1985, when an arrangement was made with Frank Sytner for distribution of them in the UK. One of the BMWs that was current at the time was the E28 5 series and there were three different Alpina models based on that car, the B7S Turbo and the B9 and B10 Saloons. The B9 came first, launching in November 1981, a few months after the debut of the standard E28, featuring a 3.5 litre inline 6 cylinder engine. When this unit was updated in 1985, the model designation changed to B10. 577 of these cars were made. In standard form, the BMW 3.5 litre engine delivered 218 bhp, but after the special Alpina treatment, this was upped to 245 bhp. Other changes included new springs, gas-filled dampers, uprated discs and 16″ Alpina wheels on the outside, and a leather steering wheel, Alpina upholstery and Recaro seats on the inside. The second generation B7 Turbo arrived in April 1984 and just like the E12 based B7S Turbo cars which had been built between November 1981 and May 1982, this was the fastest 4 door saloon in the world, and this latest one took performance to new levels. Using the BMW 3.5 litre engine again, as it now had a higher compression than before, boost was not quite as great as it had been, at 0.7 bar, but that and the other detailed changes Alpina made were enough to give the new B7 Turbo an output of 300 bhp and 320 bhp in the catalyst equipped models, along with 509 Nm of torque, resulting in a top speed of 265 – 270 km/h, and a 0- 100 km/h time of either 4.8 or 6.1 seconds depending on which test source you believe. The gearbox was a Getrag 5 speed manual unit that had been developed for the 745i. Uprated Bilstein suspension was fitted, with height adjustable rear dampers and the car had what for the time were huge wheels, 205/55 16″ at the front and 225/55 at the rear. Inside the car was much like the B7 Turbo but with a black roof lining. Alpina made 236 non cat and 42 catalyst cars before “production” ended in the summer of 1987.
Although better known now, sales volumes are still small, so it was quite a surprise that a second Alpina model turned up, this one a recent D3S Touring, based on the current F31 3 Series model.
There was no doubt that Audi hit the bull’s eye with the B7 generation of their RS4, as the car was received rapturously by everyone including a UK press who are rarely impressed by fast Audi models. There had been RS4 built on the Audi “B6” platform that served as the basis for the Audi A4 between 2001 and 2005, but after a long wait, the second Audi RS4 quattro, built on Audi’s “B7” A4 platform, by quattro GmbH was finally unveiled in February 2005 at Audi’s ‘quattro Night’ celebration at the company headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany. The RS4 became available to European customers in mid-2006. It was introduced at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in January, and arrived in June 2006 in North America. It was a thoroughly re-engineered car compared to the S4 on which it was based. The engine was based on the existing all-alloy 4.2 V8 from the B6 S4, and shared many parts, and Fuel Stratified Injection, with the 4.2 FSI V8 engine in the Q7. The engine includes new cylinder block construction, and is a highly reworked, high-revving variant (redline at 8,000 rpm; rev limit of 8,250 rpm). The same engine base was used for the Audi R8. It generated 414 bhp, and was couple of a six speed manual gearbox, the only transmission available. Audi factory numbers indicated that the B7 RS4 saloon could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds, and arrive at 200 km/h in 16.6 seconds. The top speed was artificially limited to 155 mph, though many owners found ways of disabling this, which allowed the car to add another 20 mph to its capabilities.Constructed from fully galvanised steel, the B7 RS4’s body was subtly different from the lesser B7 models, with lightweight aluminium for its front wings and bonnet. Like its B5 predecessor, visually, the B7 RS4 differed from its related B7 S4, by having even wider flared front and rear wheel arches, to allow for a wider axle track. Over the B7 A4, it also includes two larger frontal side air intakes (for the two additional side-mounted coolant radiators). The trim on the saloon and roof rails on the estate are chrome as standard but can also be found in black with the addition of the Optic Pack which includes a black front grille, all exterior trim and black roof rails on the estate version. The B7 RS4 also includes an optional adaptive headlights to complement the standard “Xenon Plus” (Bi-Xenon) High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps, which swivel around corners in conjunction with steering wheel movements. Also standard are daytime running lights (DRLs), found within the main headlamp housings, identical to its related B7 A4 and S4, and use a conventional tungsten filament bulb. An acoustic parking system with front and rear sensors is also a standard fitment. Unique carbon fibre interior trims, along with a lap timer within the central Driver Information System (DIS), aluminium pedal caps and footrest, and RS 4 logos complete the look. The B7 RS4 was something of a departure from previous Audi “RS” cars, as although it was initially available as a four-door five-seat saloon; five-door Avant, and Cabriolet versions arrived later. Only the Audi RS6 had taken this similar route (saloon and Avant) before; the previous RS4 and RS2 were available exclusively as Avants. With the new B8 generation A4 launched in the autumn of 2007, production of the RS4 models ended early in 2008, as I found out when I was a little bit too late in thinking of ordering one to replace my B7 generation S4. Approximately 10,000 B7 RS4s were built, of which around 2,000 went to the USA.
One of the older cars present was this delightful Seven, which I saw departing with Charles and Piers Trevelyan in it. Charles is the Chairman of the Bugatti Owners Club, based at Prescott, and usually arrives at events here in a Bugatti, so it was good to see he had brought something else from his “fleet”.
There was one examples of the “Big Healey” here, one of Britain’s most popular classics. Donald Healey had been producing a range of expensive sports cars from the 1940s, cars such as the Silverstone, the Abbott and the Farnham. For the 1952 London Motor Show, he produced a new design, which was called the Healey Hundred, based on Austin A90 mechanicals, which he intended to produce in-house at his small car company in Warwick. It was one of the stars of the 1952 Show, and it so impressed Leonard Lord, the Managing Director of Austin, who was looking for a replacement to the unsuccessful A90. that Lord struck a deal with Healey on the spot, to build it in quantity. Bodies made by Jensen Motors would be given Austin mechanical components at Austin’s Longbridge factory. The car was renamed the Austin-Healey 100, in reference to the fact that the car had a top speed of 100 mph. Production got under way in 1953, with Austin-Healey 100s being finished at Austin’s Longbridge plant alongside the A90 and based on fully trimmed and painted body/chassis units produced by Jensen in West Bromwich—in an arrangement the two companies previously had explored with the Austin A40 Sports. By early 1956, production was running at 200 cars a month, 150 of which were being sold in California. Between 1953 and 1956, 14,634 Austin-Healey 100s were produced, the vast majority of them, as was the case for most cars in this post war era, going for export. The car was replaced by an updated model in 1956, called the 100-6. It had a longer wheelbase, redesigned bodywork with an oval shaped grille, a fixed windscreen and two occasional seats added (which in 1958 became an option with the introduction of the two-seat BN6 produced in parallel with the 2+2 BN4), and the engine was replaced by one based on the six-cylinder BMC C-Series engine. In 1959, the engine capacity was increased from 2.6 to 2.9 litres and the car renamed the Austin-Healey 3000. Both 2-seat and 2+2 variants were offered. It continued in this form until production ceased in late 1967. The Big Healey, as the car became known after the 1958 launch of the much smaller Austin-Healey Sprite, is a popular classic now. You come across the 3000 models more frequently than the 100s, as they accounted for more than 60% of all Big Healey production.
Needing little in the way of an introduction was this GTC version of the current Bentley Continental.
This 400 is an example of the first car to bear the Bristol name. After World War II, the Bristol Aeroplane Company decided to diversify and formed a car division, which would later be the Bristol Cars company in its own right. BAC subsequently acquired a licence from Frazer Nash to build BMW models. Bristol chose to base its first model on the best features of two outstanding pre-war BMWs, namely the 328’s engine, and the 326’s frame. These were covered with a neat mainly steel body but with aluminium bonnet, door and boot skins and inspired by the BMW 327’s. Launched in 1947, the Bristol 400 featured a slightly modified version of BMW’s six-cylinder pushrod engine of 1,971 cc This engine, considered advanced for its time due to its hemispherical combustion chambers and very short inlet and exhaust ports, developed 80 horsepower at 4,500 revs per minutes and could carry the 400 to a top speed of around 92 mph with acceleration to match. In order to maintain a hemispherical combustion chamber, the valves had to be positioned at an angle to the head. In order to drive both sets of valves from a single camshaft, the Bristol engine used a system of rods, followers and bell-cranks to drive the valves on the far side of the engine from the camshaft. Owners soon found that setting and maintaining the numerous clearances in the system was difficult but vital to keep the engine in tune. The gearbox was a four-speed manual with synchromesh on the upper three ratios and a freewheel on first. The model 400 was the only Bristol to be fitted with a steel and aluminium skin, and had all flat glass, but for the curved rear window, glazed in perspex, which was available to specification with a top hinge. This feature was very welcome on warmer climate export markets, where the sliding door windows provided only marginal ventilation to the passengers. The 400 featured independent front suspension with a transverse leaf spring and a live axle, located by an A-bracket over the differential case and longitudinal torsion bars with transverse arms and brackets at the rear. It featured a lengthy 114 inch wheelbase and a very BMW-like grille at the front of its long bonnet. The passenger area was very short, with the spare tyre mounted inside the boot on the first cars, but eventually mounted on the rear hinged boot lid, inside an aluminium cover. 487 examples were made.
This 1929 Model 80 is a regular at Prescott events, having been seen not just at the VSCC meet, but on other occasions during the year as well.
It was with the 360 Modena that sales of Ferrari models really took off, with unprecedented volumes of the car being sold. The 360 Modena was launched in 1999, named after the town of Modena, the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari. A major innovation in this all new model came from Ferrari’s partnership with Alcoa which resulted in an entirely new all-aluminium space-frame chassis that was 40% stiffer than the F355 which had utilised steel. The design was 28% lighter despite a 10% increase in overall dimensions. Along with a lightweight frame the new Pininfarina body styling deviated from traditions of the previous decade’s sharp angles and flip-up headlights. The new V8 engine, common to all versions, was of 3.6 litre capacity with a flat plane crankshaft, titanium connecting rods and generates 400 bhp Despite what looks like on paper modest gains in reality the power to weight ratio was significantly improved on over the F355, this was due to the combination of both a lighter car and more power. The 0 to 100 km/h acceleration performance improved from 4.6 to 4.3 seconds. The first model to be rolled out was the 360 Modena, available as a manual, or an F1 electrohydraulic manual. Next up was an open car. The 360 was designed with a Spider variant in mind; since removing the roof of a coupe reduces the torsional rigidity, the 360 was built for strength in other areas. Ferrari designers strengthened the sills, stiffened the front of the floorpan and redesigned the windscreen frame. The rear bulkhead had to be stiffened to cut out engine noise from the cabin. The convertible’s necessary dynamic rigidity is provided by additional side reinforcements and a cross brace in front of the engine. Passenger safety is ensured by a strengthened windscreen frame and roll bars. The 360 Spider displays a curvilinear waistline. The fairings imply the start of a roof, and stable roll bars are embedded in these elevations. Due to use of light aluminium construction throughout, the Spider weighs in only 60 kg heavier than the coupé. As with the Modena version, its 3.6 litre V8 with 400 bhp is on display under a glass cover. The engine — confined in space by the convertible’s top’s storage area — acquires additional air supply through especially large side grills. The intake manifolds were moved toward the center of the engine between the air supply conduits in the Spider engine compartment, as opposed to lying apart as with the Modena. In terms of performance, the 0-60 mph time was slightly slower at 4.4 seconds due to the slight weight increase, and the top speed was reduced from 189 to 180 mph. Despite the car’s mid-mounted V8 engine, the electrically operated top is able to stow into the compartment when not in use. The convertible top was available in black, blue, grey and beige. The transformation from a closed top to an open-air convertible is a two-stage folding-action that has been dubbed “a stunning 20 second mechanical symphony”. The interior of the Spider is identical to that of the coupé. There were a number of examples here, with both the Coupe and Spider represented.
There was also a 360 Challenge Stradale here. This was a low production track day focused car based on the 360 Modena. From a handling and braking performance perspective was the equivalent of adding a FHP (Fiorano Handling Pack) to the 360, which was available for V12 models such as the 550, 575 or F599 but never separately for the V8’s. It was inspired by the 360 Modena Challenge racing car series so the focus was primarily on improving its track lapping performance credentials by concentrating on handling, braking and weight reduction characteristics, which are essential in pure racing cars. Ferrari engineers designed the car from the outset with a goal of 20% track day use in mind and 80% road use. With only a small 20 bhp improvement in engine power from the Modena (and boasting an improved power-to-weight ratio) the Challenge Stradale accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.1 seconds according to Ferrari, four tenths faster than a Modena, but bald figures do not paint the full picture. For the enthusiastic driver the differences are truly staggering; genuine systematic improvements were achieved to the setup and feel of the whole car. Throttle response from the digital throttle was ratcheted up and feedback through the steering wheel was enhanced. The responsiveness of the controls, the balance of the chassis, the braking performance and the driver feedback all contribute greatly to the overall driving experience. Thanks to CCM brakes borrowed from the Enzo, some lower weight parts and a FHP handling pack, the Challenge Stradale was able to claim an impressive 3.5 seconds improvement per lap of its Fiorano circuit compared to the Modena (the target was 2.5 seconds). In total, the Challenge Stradale is up to 110 kg (243 lb) lighter than the standard Modena if all the lightweight options are specified such as deleted radio, lexan (plexiglass) door window and Alcantara fabric (instead of the leather option). As much as 74 kilograms (207 lb) was taken off on the car by lightening the bumpers, stripping the interior of its sound deadening and carbon mirrors and making the optional Modena carbon seats standard. Resin Transfer Moulding was utilized for the bumpers and skirts, a carry over from the Challenge cars which resulted in lighter bumpers than on the Modena. The engine and transmission weight was slimmed down 11 kg (24 lb) through the use of a smaller, lighter weight sports (yet still stainless steel) exhaust back box and valved exit pipes. The Challenge Stradale also got Brembo carbon ceramic brakes as standard (which later became standard fitment on the F430) which shaved 16 kg off the curb weight and improved handling by reducing unsprung weight and completely eliminating brake fade. Cars fitted with the centre console stereo option, sub speaker box behind the seats and glass side windows re-gained approximately 30 kg over the best selected options (from a weight perspective). Challenge Stradale models are much sought after these days, and when they do come up for sale, they command a huge premium over the regular 360 Modena cars.
The latest of the V8 line is the 488 GTB, and there was a recently acquired example of the Spider version here. Launched at the 2015 Geneva Show, the 488GTB followed the lead set by the California T in bringing turbocharging into a modern-day, mid-engined V8 Ferrari supercar for the first time. The engine is completely new when compared with its V8 stablemate, not only in components but also in feel and character. It is a twin-turbocharged 3902cc unit whilst that in the California T is 3855cc. In the 488 GTB, it produces 660bhp at 8000rpm and 560lb ft at 3000rpm. Both outputs are significant increases over the normally aspirated 4.5-litre V8 used in the 562 bhp 458 Italia and 597 bhp 458 Speciale, and also greater than the car’s biggest rival, the McLaren 650S. The torque figure of the 488 GTB is such that it also exceeds the 509lb ft at 6000rpm of the normally aspirated V12 used in the range-topping Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. The mighty new engine in the 488 GTB drives the rear wheels through a revised seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox derived from the 458. It features a new ‘Variable Torque Management’ system which, Ferrari says, “unleashes the engine’s massive torque smoothly and powerfully right across the rev range”. The gear ratios are also tuned to “deliver incredibly progressive acceleration when the driver floors the throttle”. The 488 GTB can crack 0-62mph in just 3.0sec, 0-124mph in 8.4sec and reach a top speed of 205mph. Its 0-62mph and 0-124mph times match the McLaren 650S’s, but the Woking car’s top speed is slightly higher at 207mph. The engine also accounts for the ‘488’ element of the car’s name, because each of the engine’s eight cylinders is 488cc in capacity when rounded up. The GTB suffix, standing for Gran Turismo Berlinetta, is a hallmark of previous mid-engined V8 Ferraris such as the 308 GTB. Not only is the new turbo engine more potent than the 4.5-litre V8 from the 458 Italia, but it is also more economical. Combined fuel economy is rated at 24.8mpg, compared with 21.2mpg in the 458 Italia, and CO2 emissions are 260g/km – a 47g/km improvement. Ferrari’s HELE engine stop-start system features on the 488 GTB. Developments on the dynamic side include a second generation of the Side Slip Angle Control system, called SSC2. This allows the driver to oversteer without intruding, unless it detects a loss of control. The SSC2 now controls the active dampers, in addition to the F1-Trac traction control system and E-Diff electronic differential. Ferrari says the result is “more precise and less invasive, providing greater longitudinal acceleration out of corners” and flatter, more stable behaviour during “complex manoeuvres”. Learnings from the Ferrari XX programme have also been incorporated into the 488 GTB, something that Ferrari says allows all drivers and not just professionals, to make the most of its electronic and vehicle control systems. It also claims the 488 GTB is “the most responsive production model there is”, with responses comparable to a track car. The 488 GTB has lapped Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in 1min 23sec – two seconds faster than the 458 Italia, and half a second quicker than the 458 Speciale. The dimensions of the 488 GTB – it is 4568mm in length, 1952mm in width and 1213mm in height – closely match the 458 Italia from which it has evolved. Its dry weight is 1370kg when equipped with lightweight options – 40kg more than the McLaren 650S. The new look, styled at the Ferrari Styling Centre, features several new aerodynamic features that improve downforce and reduce drag. Most notable is the addition of active aerodynamics at the rear through a ‘blown’ rear spoiler, where air is channelled from the base of the glass engine cover under the spoiler. This contributes to the 50% increase in downforce over the 458 Italia. Also new is a double front spoiler, an aerodynamic underbody, a large air intake at the front that references the 308 GTB, a diffuser with active flaps, new positioning for the exhaust flaps and new-look lights. The interior has been redesigned to be made more usable, including new switchgear, air vents and instrument panel. The multi-function steering wheel remains, while the infotainment system gets a new interface and graphics. The Spider followed the closed coupe model six months later, and supplies of that car are now reaching the UK. It is expected that this will be bigger seller of the car, as was the case with the 458 models.
Sole Fiat of the morning was an X1/9, in the limited edition VS spec. The X1/9 followed a 1969 show concept car called the Autobianchi Runabout, with styling by Bertone under chief designer Marcello Gandini. The Runabout was powered by the same engine as the Autobianchi A112. Designed around the all-new 128 SOHC engine and with the gearbox (transmission) from the front wheel drive Fiat 128, the X1/9 relocated the transverse drive train and suspension assembly from the front of the 128 to the rear of the passenger cabin, directly in front of the rear axle, giving a mid-engined layout. The layout also located the fuel tank and spare wheel side by side ahead of the engine, directly behind the seats — optimising the proportion of the car’s weight falling within its wheelbase for more effective handling and also enabling cargo areas front and rear. Unlike Fiat’s marketing nomenclature at the time which used a numerical system (e.g., 127, 128, 124, 131) denoting relative position in the model range, the X1/9 retained its prototype code as its marketing name. Fiat’s prototype coding used X0 for engines, X1 for passenger vehicles and X2 for commercial vehicles. The X1/9 was thus the ninth passenger car developed using the nomenclature. The prototype car featured a distinctive wedge shape and took many styling cues from contemporary power-boat design. Though the more extreme features of the Runabout such as the C pillar mounted headlights and the small wind-deflector windscreen were lost for the production car, many aesthetic features of the Autobianchi Runabout are readily identifiable on the X1/9. The long flat bonnet with central indentation, the large front overhang, the wedge shape with prominent C pillar roll-over hoop and the car-length indented plimsoll-line all made the successful transition to the X1/9, giving it a highly distinctive appearance. Once developed for production, the two-seater featured sharp-edged styling with a wedge shape, pop-up headlights and a removable hard top roof panel (targa top). The removable hardtop stores in the front luggage compartment, below the front hood, only slightly reducing the space available for cargo. An aftermarket company offered a top made of lightweight clear-smoked polycarbonate. The car was developed for release for European sales in 1972 to replace the 850 spider by Bertone. It was not intended as a replacement for the 124 Sport spider and production of the 124 spider and X1/9 continued in parallel for much of the X1/9’s life. The car’s monocoque body was produced at the Bertone factory in Torino and then transported to the Fiat’s Lingotto factory for final assembly. In 1982, shortly after the introduction of the 1500 model, complete production was assumed by Bertone with models subsequently badged as the “Bertone” X1/9. Bertone models featured revised footwells redesigned to enhance legroom and sitting comfort for persons taller than the original design’s target. The first models featured a 75 bhp 1290 cc single overhead cam engine with an aluminium head. In 1978 the more powerful 85bhp 1500cc unit found its way into the engine bay which necessitated a raised engine cover to provide the clearance. Larger bumpers were fitted at this time. Fiat made few other changes for many years, as if they lost interest in the car. The last production models were named the Gran Finale and sold over the 1989/1990 period. They were a dealer modification of the special edition (commonly abbreviated to SE) of 1988/1989, with the addition of a rear spoiler and “gran finale” badges.
By some margin, this was the oldest car on display, a 1903 Model A. I don’t recall ever having seen it before. The Model A was the first car produced by Ford, beginning production in 1903. Ernest Pfennig, a Chicago dentist, became the first owner of a Model A on July 23, 1903. The car came as a two-seater runabout for $800 or the $900 four-seater tonneau model with an option to add a top. The horizontal-mounted flat-2, situated amidships of the car, produced 8 hp. A planetary transmission was fitted with two forward speeds and reverse, a Ford signature later seen on the Ford Model T. The car weighed 1,240 lb (562 kg) and could reach a top speed of 28 mph. It had a 72-inch wheelbase and sold for a base price of US$750. Options included a rear tonneau with two seats and a rear door for $100, a rubber roof for $30 or a leather roof for $50. Band brakes were used on the rear wheels. Although Ford advertised the Model A as the “most reliable machine in the world”, it suffered from many problems common to vehicles of the era, including overheating and slipping transmission bands. The Model A was sold only in red by the factory, though some were later repainted in other colours. However, it was $150 more than its most direct competitor, the Oldsmobile Curved Dash, so did not sell as well. 1,750 cars were made from 1903 through 1904 during Ford’s occupancy of its first facility: the Ford Mack Avenue Plant, a modest rented wood-frame building on Detroit’s East Side. The Model A was replaced by the Ford Model C during 1904 with some sales overlap. The company had spent almost its entire $28,000 initial investment funds with only $223.65 left in its bank account when the first Model A was sold. The success of this car model generated a profit for the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford’s first successful business.
This was a nice example of the S2000, the much missed sports car that Honda produced to mark their 50th anniversary. The S2000 was first alluded to at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show, with the Honda Sport Study Model (SSM) concept car, a rear-wheel-drive roadster powered by a 2.0 litre inline 4-cylinder engine and featuring a rigid ‘high X-bone frame’ which Honda claimed improved the vehicle’s rigidity and collision safety. The concept car was constructed with aluminium body panels and featured a 50:50 weight distribution. The SSM appeared at many automotive shows for several years afterwards, hinting at the possibility of a production version, which Honda finally announced in 1999. It featured a front mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout with power being delivered by a 1,997 cc inline 4-cylinder DOHC-VTEC engine. The engine produced outputs of 237–247 hp, and 153–161 lb/ft depending on the target market., and it was mated to a six-speed manual transmission and Torsen limited slip differential. The S2000 achieved what Honda claimed as “the world’s top level, high performance 4-cylinder naturally aspirated engine”. Features included independent double wishbone suspension, electrically assisted steering and integrated roll hoops. The compact and lightweight engine, mounted entirely behind the front axle, allowed the S2000 to achieve a 50:50 front/rear weight distribution and lower rotational inertia. An electrically powered vinyl top with internal cloth lining was standard, with an aluminium hardtop available as an optional extra. Although the S2000 changed little visually during its production run, there were some alterations, especially in 2004, at which point production of the S2000 moved to Suzuka. The facelifted car introduced 17 in wheels and Bridgestone RE-050 tyres along with a retuned suspension to reduce oversteer. The spring rates and shock absorber damping were altered and the suspension geometry modified to improve stability by reducing toe-in changes under cornering loads. The subframe has also received a revision in design to achieve a high rigidity. In the gearbox the brass synchronisers were replaced with carbon fibre. In addition, cosmetic changes were made to the exterior with new front and rear bumpers, revised headlight assemblies, new LED tail-lights, and oval-tipped exhausts. Although all the cosmetic, suspension and most drivetrain upgrades were included on the Japanese and European S2000s, they retained the 2.0 litre F20C engine and remained designated as an AP1. A number of special editions were made, such as the more track-oriented Club Racer version offered in the US in 2007/8 and the Type S for Japan in 2008/9. The UK received a GT for 2009, which featured a removable hard-top and an outside temperature gauge. The S2000 Ultimate Edition (continental Europe) and GT Edition 100 (UK) were limited versions of the S2000 released to commemorate the end of production. Both included Grand Prix White body colour, removable hard top, graphite-coloured alloy wheels, red leather interior with red colouring for stitching on the gear lever gaiter. The Ultimate Edition was unveiled at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show and went on sale in March 2009. The GT Edition 100 was a limited run of 100 units released for the UK market. In addition to the Ultimate Edition’s specification, it featured a black S2000 badge and a numbered plaque on the kick-plate indicating which vehicle in the series it was. The car was never replaced, as Honda decided to head off in the same direction as Toyota, producing a series of very dull appliance-like cars that focused on low emissions and dependability but of no appeal to the sort of enthusiast who bought (and probably kept!) an S2000.
At first glance, I assumed this was a C Type, and as the originals are both rare and valuable, guessed ti might be a replica, especially given the registration plates. And it turned out that it is. But it is not something like a Suffolk, as a conversation with the proud owner revealed that he had built it himself. The car is pretty much perfect in recreating the original, but being based on a 1984 XJ6, it apparently drives better, as it has more power and much better brakes. The project took 5 years, and the owner reckons that the car has doubled in value since he built it. It was very impressive.
Although bearing a family resemblance to the earlier XK120 and XK140, the XK150, launched in the spring of 1957, was radically revised. A one-piece windscreen replaced the split screen, and the wing line no longer dropped so deeply at the doors. The widened bonnet opened down to the wings, and on the Roadster the windscreen frame was moved back 4 inches to make the bonnet longer. The XK140’s walnut dashboard was replaced by one trimmed in leather. On the early Drophead Coupés, the aluminium centre dash panel, which was discontinued after June 1958, had an X pattern engraving similar to the early 3.8 E-Type. Thinner doors gave more interior space. On the front parking lights, which were located atop the wings, a little red light reminded the driver the lights were on. Suspension and chassis were very similar to the XK140, and steering was by rack and pinion; power steering was not offered. The standard engine, the similar to the XK140, but with an new “B” type cylinder head, was the 3.4 litre DOHC Jaguar straight-6 rated at 180 SAE bhp at 5750 rpm but most cars were fitted with the SE engine whose modified cylinder head (B type) and larger exhaust valves boosted the power to 210 SAE bhp at 5500 rpm. Twin 1.75-inch (44 mm) SU HD6 carburettors were fitted. While the first XK150s were slower than their predecessors, the deficit was corrected in the spring of 1958 with a 3.4-litre “S” engine whose three 2-inch SU HD8 carburettors and straight-port cylinder head increased power to a claimed 250 SAE bhp. For 1960, the 3.4 litre engine was bored to 3.8 litres, rating this option at 220 hp in standard tune or 265 hp in “S” form. A 3.8 litre 150S could top 135 mph and go from 0–60 mph in around 7.0 seconds. Fuel economy was 18mpg. Four-wheel Dunlop 12 in disc brakes appeared for the first time although it was theoretically possible to order a car with drums. When leaving the factory the car originally fitted either 6.00 × 16 inch Dunlop Road Speed tyres as standard, or you could specify 185VR16 Pirelli Cinturato CA67 as a radial option on either 16 × 5K½ solid wheels (basic models) or 16 × 5K wire wheels. Production ended in October 1960, and totalled 2265 Roadsters, 4445 Fixed Head Coupés and 2672 Drophead Coupés.
One of the most loved Jaguars of all time, both when it was new, and still now, is the Mark 2 saloon. Many will tell you that it is not the 3 Series BMW that “invented” the “compact sports saloon” car class, but this model, which dates back to 1959. A thorough revision of the small Jaguar saloon that had joined the range in 1955, the Mark 2 was notable in that it was the first car to use the Arabic numeral in its name, as opposed to the Roman numerals of the larger Jaguar models. At launch, the earlier model which had hitherto been known by its engine size was christened the Mark 1. Although clearly based on that car, the updated car looked significantly different, with an increase of 18% in cabin glass area greatly improving visibility. The car was re-engineered above the waistline. Slender front pillars allowed a wider windscreen and the rear window almost wrapped around to the enlarged side windows now with the familiar Jaguar D-shape above the back door and fully chromed frames for all the side windows. The radiator grille was amended and larger side, tail and fog lamps repositioned. Inside a new heating system was fitted and ducted to the rear compartment (although still notoriously ineffective). There was an improved instrument layout that became standard for all Jaguar cars until the XJ Series II of 1973. As well as the familiar 2.4 and 3.4 litre engines, what made this car particularly special was that it was also offered with the potent 220 bhp 3.8 litre unit that was fitted to the XK150 and which would later see service in the E Type. This gave the car a 0 – 60 time of around 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 125 mph. No wonder that the Mark 2 became popular as a get-away car for the criminal fraternity, and to keep up with and catch them, many police forces bought the car as well. With revised suspension and standard four wheel disc brakes, the car was effective on the track, taking plenty of class wins when new, and it is still popular in historic racing circles today. The quickest and most successful private entries came from John Coombs, a man with significant race experience who operated a large Jaguar dealership in Guildford. Coombs would undertake modifications to meet the demands of his customers, so not all the cars that he worked on are the same. Jaguar replaced the Mark 2 with simplified and slightly more cheaply finished 240 and 340 models, as an interim measure until an all-new model was ready to take over from them. The 3.8 litre disappeared from the range at this time, but in the 7 years it had been in production, it had been the best seller of the range, with around 30,000 cars produced, as compared to 28,666 of the 3.4 litre and 25,741 of the 2.4 litre model. Seen here was a Mark 2 3.4.
Modern Lamborghinis were represented by this pairing of the V12-engined Aventador and the V10 Gallardo Spider.
I spotted this Jalpa arriving and went over to talk to the owner, who it turned out also owns a 595C Abarth, so we had quite a long chat indeed. It was only after letting him move away from his car so he could see what else was parked up that I wandered back over to the entrance to find that an example of the Jalpa’s predecessor, the Urrraco had also sneaked in. One of these cars is rare, but to get two at the same event is quite remarkable. Lamborghini had been toying for some time with the idea of a smaller and cheaper car, powered by a V8 engine, to rival the smaller Ferraris, and the result, the Urraco, was first seen at the 1970 Turin Show. It was styled by Marcello Gandini, and engineered by Paolo Stanzani. It was launched with a 2.5 litre V8 engine, engineered to be cheaper to build, with belt-driven camshafts, situated within a steel monocoque structure suspended on McPherson struts. It reached the market before the rival Maserati Merak and Ferrari 308 GT4 Dino, which should have given it a big advantage. But it did not. For a start, it was deemed not powerful enough, so even before the difficulties of the late 1973 Fuel Crisis made things difficult, the car did not sell well at all. The solution was to add more power, and this came when the engine was enlarged to 3 litres, with four chain-driven cams, which took power from 220 bhp to 265 bhp. A roll-hoop across the back of the cabin improved rigidity, and more powerful brakes were fitted. It sold better, though never in the sort of volume that had been anticipated, and the addition of an Italian market tax special P200 did not help much, either. Just 66 of these were built, whereas 520 of the original P250 models found buyers, and 190 of the more powerful P300s added to the total before production ceased in 1979. The story did not quite end there, as in 1976 a heavily revised version, with removable targa roof panels, appeared, called the Silhouette, and both were replaced by the Jalpa in the 1980s, though neither of these sold as well as the Urraco.
Lancia replaced the long-running Appia with a new model in 1963, the Fulvia. Like the larger Flavia which had been shown 3 years earlier, it came with front wheel drive, and a host of exquisite engineering which ensure that even though it was expensive, it was actually not profitable for its maker, and was a direct contribution to the marque’s bankruptcy and take over by Fiat in 1969. It was not long before the initial Berlina saloon model was joined by a Coupe. First seen in 1965. the Coupe proved to be the longest lived of all Fulvia variants, surviving until 1976 when it was effectively replaced by the 1300cc version of the Beta Coupe. Before that, it had undergone a steady program of updates, with more powerful engines, including a capacity increase from the initial 1200cc of the narrow angle V4 to 1300 and then later 1600cc, and the car was developed into a successful rally machine for the late 60s. The Sport Zagato version was designed by Ercole Spada at Zagato and was intended to be the more sporting model of the range. It was also considerably more expensive. Early cars had an unusual side hinged bonnet, but this was changed on the Series 2 models which were launched in 1970, and which also switched to all-steel bodies. Seen here was a nice Coupe in S2 guise.
Brand new, as this is one of the first examples in the country, is the LC500 which was brought along to the event not by an owner but by a dealer. The LC has its origins in the LF-LC study revealed in late 2011, and changes to that concept were kept to a minimum, a rarity for such an extreme design. Underpinned by the new GA-L platform it goes against the forced induction trend by using a naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 borrowed from the RC F and GS F. Its 467 bhp are sent the rear wheels via a brand new Aisin 10-speed auto transmission, making for a naught to 100km/h (62mph) acceleration of less than 4.5 seconds. Going after a pretty strong competition, it’s only natural to come with the latest tech that includes adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation and lane-keeping assist. The manufacturer will also allow prospective buyers to replace the standard panoramic glass with an optional carbon fibre roof.. The LC will also be available in a Hybrid version. Plenty of people seem to have declared that thet like the look of it. I am not among them, finding the front to be particularly difficult.
Sole Maserati present was my Ghibli, which I decided to bring, as it was clean (ish) for once, and it certainly did not look out of place among the array of recent performance cars. I spotted plenty of people taking a closer look.
Representing the British supercar manufacturer was this MP4 12C, the first model that the Woking-based firm introduced as they started to produce road cars in quantities rather greater than the limited F1 had been. McLaren started developing the car in 2007 and secretly purchased a Ferrari 360 to use as a test mule. The mule called MV1 was used to test the 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine. The car also featured side vents for additional cooling which were later incorporated in the final production model. Later in the year, the company purchased an Ultima GTR to test the braking system and suspension components, that mule was called the MV2. The space frame and body of that car were modified in order to accommodate the new components. Later another prototype was purchased which was another Ferrari 360 dubbed the MV3 which was used to test the exhaust system. McLaren then built two prototypes themselves called CP1 and CP2 incorporating the Carbon Monocell monocoque which were used for testing the heat management system and performance. The final car was unveiled to the public on 9 September 2009 before the company’s launch in 2010 and availability of customer cars in 2011. Called the MP4-12C, a rather clumsy name which was later shortened to 12C, it featured a carbon fibre composite chassis, and was powered by a mid-mounted McLaren M838T 3.8-litre V8, twin-turbo engine developing approximately 592 hp (600 PS) and around 443 lb-ft of torque. The car made use of Formula 1-sourced technologies such as “brake steer”, where the inside rear wheel is braked during fast cornering to reduce understeer. Power was transmitted to the wheels through a seven-speed shift dual-clutch gearbox. A convertible version of the car called the MP4-12C Spider, renamed the 12C Spider in 2012, was launched a few months after the Coupe. In February 2014, McLaren announced the related 650S, with revised bodywork, upgraded engine and other technical improvements. In April 2014, McLaren announced the end of production of the 12C.
Also a recent model was this C63 AMG Estate, which definitely had one of the more agreeable sounding engine and exhaust systems of all the cars present, rivalling several of the supercars.
Oldest of the MG models present was tis 1935 PA. The PA and later PB replaced the J Type Midget. These 2-door sports cars used an updated version of the overhead camshaft, crossflow engine that was also used in the 1928 Morris Minor and Wolseley 10 as well as the J-type Midget of 1932 to 1934. It drove the rear wheels through a four-speed non-synchromesh gearbox. The chassis was a strengthened and slightly longer version of that used in the J-type with suspension by half-elliptic springs all round with rigid front and rear axles. Steering was initially by a Marles Weller and later a Bishop Cam system. The two-seat car had a wheelbase of 87″ and a track of 42″. Most cars were open two seaters, but streamlined Airline coupé bodies were also made. The P-type was also available as a four-seater, a car that suffered from a lack of power and poor rear ground clearance. Whereas J, K and L-type MGs differentiated between versions with the use of numbers, with 1 indicating a four-seater (the J1) and 2 a two-seater (the J2), this was not the case with the P-type (or its six-cylinder sister, the N-type Magnette), and there is no clue to the type in the name. The first version, the PA used an 847 cc engine similar to the one on the J-Type, but now with a 3-bearing crankshaft, larger camshaft and twin SU carburettors. It produced 36 bhp at 5,500 rpm. In 1935, a PA open two-seater cost £222. Around 2,000 PAs were made. In late 1936 the PA was replaced by the PB, which had a larger 939cc 43bhp engine and which is distinguished by a grille of vertical slats as opposed to the honeycomb pattern of the PA. 526 examples of the PB were made.
The MGA replaced the long running T Series sports cars and presented a complete styling break from MG’s earlier sports cars. Announced on 26 September 1955, the car was officially launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show. A total of 101,081 units were sold through the end of production in July 1962, the vast majority of the 58.750 cars made were exported. Only 5869 cars were sold on the home market, the lowest percentage of any British car. It was replaced by the MGB. The MGA design dates back to 1951, when MG designer Syd Enever created a streamlined body for George Philips’ TD Le Mans car. The problem with this car was the high seating position of the driver because of the limitations of using the TD chassis. A new chassis was designed with the side members further apart and the floor attached to the bottom rather than the top of the frame sections. A prototype was built and shown to the BMC chairman Leonard Lord. He turned down the idea of producing the new car as he had just signed a deal with Donald Healey to produce Austin-Healey cars two weeks before. Falling sales of the traditional MG models caused a change of heart, and the car, initially to be called the UA-series, was brought back. As it was so different from the older MG models it was called the MGA, the “first of a new line” to quote the contemporary advertising. There was also a new engine available, therefore the car did not have the originally intended XPAG unit but was fitted with the BMC corporate B-Series type allowing a lower bonnet line. The MGA convertible had no exterior door handles, however the coupe did. It was a body-on-frame design and used the straight-4 1489cc “B series” engine from the MG Magnette saloon driving the rear wheels through a 4-speed gearbox. Suspension was independent with coil springs and wishbones at the front and a rigid axle with semi-elliptic springs at the rear. Steering was by rack and pinion. The car was available with either wire-spoked or steel-disc road wheels. The 1489 cc engine fitted with twin H4 type SU Carburettors produced 68 hp at first, but was soon uprated to 72 hp. Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes were used on all wheels. A high-performance Twin-Cam model was added for 1958. It used a high-compression (9.9:1 later 8.3:1) DOHC aluminium cylinder head version of the B-Series engine producing 108 hp. Due to detonation problems, a 100 bhp low-compression version was introduced later. Four-wheel disc brakes by Dunlop were fitted, along with Dunlop peg drive knock-off steel wheels similar to wheels used on racing Jaguars, unique to the Twin-Cam and “DeLuxe” MGA 1600 and 1600 MkII roadsters. These wheels and chassis upgrades were used on a small number of the “DeLuxe” models built after Twin-Cam production came to a halt. Aside from the wheels, the only outside identifier was a “Twin-Cam” logo near the vent aside the bonnet. A careful look at the rear wheel vents would also reveal another feature unique to Twin-Cam and DeLuxe: those 4 wheel Dunlop disc brakes . The temperamental engine was notorious for warranty problems during the course of production, and sales dropped quickly. The engine suffered from detonation and burnt oil. Most of the problems with the Twin-Cam engine were rectified with the low-compression version, but by then the damage had been done. Many restored Twin-Cams are running more reliably today than they ever did during production. The Twin-Cam was dropped in 1960 after 2,111 had been produced. Production ended in April 1960, but had slowed to a trickle long before. In May 1959 the standard cars also received an updated engine, now at 1588 cc producing 79.5 bhp . At the front disc brakes were fitted, but drums remained in the rear. Externally the car was very similar to the 1500 with differences including: amber or white (depending on market) front turn indicators shared with white parking lamps, separate stop/tail and turn lamps in the rear, and 1600 badging on the boot and the cowl. 31,501 of these were produced in less than three years. A number of 1600 De Luxe versions were produced with leftover special wheels and four-wheel disc brakes of the departed Twin-Cam, or using complete modified Twincam chassis left redundant by the discontinuance of that model. Seventy roadsters and 12 coupés were built. The engine size was increased again to 1622 cc by increasing the bore from 75.4 mm to 76.2 mm for the 1961 Mark II MGA. The cylinder head was also revised with larger valves and re-engineered combustion chambers. Horsepower increased to 90 bhp. It also had a higher ratio 4:1 rear axle, which made for more relaxed high-speed driving. An inset grille and Morris Mini tail lamps appearing horizontally below the deck lid were the most obvious visual changes. 8,198 Mark II roadsters and 521 coupés were built. As with the 1600 De Luxe, there were also some Mark II De Luxe versions; 290 roadsters and 23 coupés were produced. On show here was one of the rare MGA Twin Cam models.
As one of Britain’s most popular classic cars, it was no surprise to find the MGB here. Launched in October 1962, this car was produced for the next 18 years and it went on to become Britain’s best selling sports car. When first announced, the MGB was an innovative, modern design, with a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series, though components such as the brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA and the B-Series engine had its origins back in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength, and with a 95hp 3-bearing 1798cc engine under the bonnet, performance was quite respectable with a 0–60 mph time of just over 11 seconds. The car was rather more civilised than its predecessor, with wind-up windows now fitted as standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while being 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. A five-bearing engine was introduced in 1964 and a number of other modifications crept into the specification. In late 1967, sufficient changes were introduced for the factory to define a Mark II model. Alterations included synchromesh on all 4 gears with revised ratios, an optional Borg-Warner automatic gearbox, a new rear axle, and an alternator in place of the dynamo with a change to a negative earth system. To accommodate the new gearboxes there were significant changes to the sheet metal in the floorpan, and a new flat-topped transmission tunnel. US market cars got a new safety padded dashboard, but the steel item continued for the rest of the world. Rostyle wheels were introduced to replace the previous pressed steel versions in 1969 and reclining seats were standardised. 1970 also saw a new front grille, recessed, in black aluminium. The more traditional-looking polished grille returned in 1973 with a black “honeycomb” insert. Further changes in 1972 were to the interior with a new fascia. To meet impact regulations, in late 1974, the chrome bumpers were replaced with new, steel-reinforced black rubber bumpers, the one at the front incorporating the grille area as well, giving a major restyling to the B’s nose, and a matching rear bumper completed the change. New US headlight height regulations also meant that the headlamps were now too low. Rather than redesign the front of the car, British Leyland raised the car’s suspension by 1-inch. This, in combination with the new, far heavier bumpers resulted in significantly poorer handling. For the 1975 model year only, the front anti-roll bar was deleted as a cost-saving measure (though still available as an option). The damage done by the British Leyland response to US legislation was partially alleviated by revisions to the suspension geometry in 1977, when a rear anti-roll bar was made standard equipment on all models. US emissions regulations also reduced horsepower. In March 1979 British Leyland started the production of black painted limited edition MGB roadsters for the US market, meant for a total of 500 examples. Due to a high demand of the limited edition model, production ended with 6682 examples. The United Kingdom received bronze painted roadsters and a silver GT model limited editions. The production run of home market limited edition MGBs was split between 421 roadsters and 579 GTs. Meanwhile, the fixed-roof MGB GT had been introduced in October 1965, and production continued until 1980, although export to the US ceased in 1974. The MGB GT sported a ground-breaking greenhouse designed by Pininfarina and launched the sporty “hatchback” style. By combining the sloping rear window with the rear deck lid, the B GT offered the utility of a station wagon while retaining the style and shape of a coupe. This new configuration was a 2+2 design with a right-angled rear bench seat and far more luggage space than in the roadster. Relatively few components differed, although the MGB GT did receive different suspension springs and anti-roll bars and a different windscreen which was more easily and inexpensively serviceable. Although acceleration of the GT was slightly slower than that of the roadster, owing to its increased weight, top speed improved by 5 mph to 105 mph because of better aerodynamics. 523,826 examples of the MGB of all model types were built, and although many of these were initially sold new in North America, a lot have been repatriated here.
There was also one of its smaller stablemate, the Midget, one of the later rubber-bumpered cars. The 1961 Midget resurrected the name that was used by MG for their smallest car, the M Type, in the late 20s, was the Midget announced in 1961, and was essentially a slightly more expensive badge-engineered version of the MkII Austin-Healey Sprite. The original ‘Frogeye’ Sprite had been introduced specifically to fill the gap in the market left by the end of production of the MG T-type Midget as its replacement, the MGA had been a significantly larger and more expensive car with greater performance. Many existing MG enthusiast and buyers turned to the Sprite to provide a modern low-cost sports car and so a badge-engineered MG version reusing the Midget name made sense. The new Midget differed from the Sprite only in its grille design, badging, colour options and having both leather seats and more external chrome trim as standard to justify its higher purchase price. Mechanically the car was identical to its Austin-Healey counterpart, retaining the rear suspension using quarter-elliptic leaf springs and trailing arms from the ‘Frogeye’. The engine was initially a 948 cc A-Series with twin SU carburettors producing 46 hp at 5500 rpm and 53 lb/ft at 3000 rpm. Brakes were 7″ drums all round. A hard top, heater, radio and luggage rack were available as factory-fitted extras. In October 1962 the engine was increased to 1098 cc, raising the output to 56 hp at 5500 rpm and 62 lb/ft at 3250 rpm, and disc brakes replaced the drums at the front. Wire spoked wheels became available. The doors had no external handles or locks and the windows were sliding Perspex side-screens. A heater was still an optional extra. The car sold well, with 16,080 of the small-engined version and 9601 of the 1098 being made before the arrival in 1964 of the Mark II. Externally the main changes were to the doors, which gained wind-up windows, swivelling quarter lights, external handles and separate locks. The windscreen also gained a slight curvature and was retained in a more substantial frame. The hood, though modified, continued to have a removable frame that had to be erected before the cover was put on. The rear springs were replaced by more conventional semi-elliptic types which gave a better ride. The engine block was strengthened and larger main bearings were fitted, increasing the power to 59 hp at 5750 rpm and torque to 65 lbf·ft at 3500 rpm. A total of 26,601 were made. 1967 saw the arrival of the Mark III. The engine now grew to 1275 cc using the development seen on the Mini-Cooper ‘S’. Enthusiasts were disappointed that this was a detuned version of the 76-bhp Cooper ‘S’ engine, giving only 65 hp at 6000 rpm and 72 lbf·ft at 3000 rpm. A reduced compression ratio of 8.8:1 was used instead of the 9.75:1 employed on the Cooper S engine. The Midget used the 12G940 cylinder head casting that was common to other BMC 1300 cars, whereas the Cooper ‘S’ had a special head with not only larger inlet, but also larger exhaust valves; however, these exhaust valves caused many ‘S’ heads to fail through cracking between the valve seats. The detuned engine was used for reasons of model range placement – with the Cooper ‘S’ spec engine, the Midget would have been faster than the more expensive MGB. The hydraulic system gained a separate master cylinder for the clutch. The hood was now permanently attached to the car, with an improved mechanism making it much easier to use. Minor facelift changes were made to the body trim in late 1969 with the sills painted black, a revised recessed black grille, and squared off taillights as on the MGB. The 13″ “Rostyle” wheels were standardised, but wire-spoked ones remained an option. The square-shaped rear wheel arches became rounded in January 1972 and later that year a Triumph steering rack was fitted, giving a gearing that was somewhat lower than earlier Midgets. A second exhaust silencer was also added in 1972. Alternators were fitted instead of dynamos from 1973 onwards. Many consider the round-arch Midgets with chrome bumpers produced for model years 1972 and 1974 to be the most desirable. These round-arch cars started leaving the Abingdon factory in late 1971. Between 1966 and the 1969 face lift, 22,415 were made, and a further 77,831 up to 1974.
MG re-entered the sports car market in 1995 with the launch of the MGF Two versions of this mid-engined and affordable rival to the Mazda MX5 were offered: both of which used the 1.8 litre K-Series 16-valve engine. The cheaper of the two put out 118 hp and the more costly VVC model (by dint of its variable valve control) had 143 hp. Rover Special Projects had overseen the development of the F’s design and before finalising the styling bought-in outside contractors to determine the most appropriate mechanical configuration for the new car. Steve Harper of MGA Developments produced the initial design concept in January 1991 (inspired by the Jaguar XJR-15 and the Ferrari 250LM), before Rover’s in house design team refined the concept under the leadership of Gerry McGovern. The MGF used the Hydragas suspension, a system employing interconnected fluid and gas displacers, which gave the car a surprisingly compliant ride and which could be tuned to provide excellent handling characteristics. The MG F quickly shot to the top of the affordable sports car charts in Britain and remained there until the introduction of the MG TF in 2002. The MG F underwent a facelift in Autumn of 1999 which gave the car a revised interior as well as styling tweaks and fresh alloy wheels designs. There was also the introduction of a base 1.6 version and a more powerful 160 hp variant called the Trophy 160, which had a 0-60 mph time of 6.9 seconds. It was only produced for a limited time. An automatic version with a CVT called the Steptronic was also introduced. A comprehensive update in 2002 resulted in the MG TF, named after the MG TF Midget of the 1950s. Based upon the MG F platform but heavily redesigned and re-engineered, the most significant mechanical changes were the abandonment of Hydragas suspension in favour of conventional coil springs, the new design of the air-induction system that along with new camshafts produces more power than in MG F engines, and the torsional stiffness of the body increased by 20%. Various cosmetic changes included a revised grille, redesigned front headlights, bumpers, side air-intake grills and changes to the rear boot,. The car continued to sell well. Production was suspended when MG-Rover went out of business, but resumed again in 2007 when Nanjing built a number more. This is one of the TF cars.
This is a Lancer Evo VI, of the type which was produced between January 1999 and February 2001. Based on the Lancer saloon, the Evo kept pace with changes to that model, so the Evo IV, seen in 1996 had been a new model compared to the first three Evo generations. Evo IV, V and VI were all broadly similar with detailed changes coming with each new iteration. The Evolution VI’s changes mainly focused on cooling and engine durability. It received a larger intercooler, larger oil cooler, and new pistons, along with a titanium-aluminide turbine wheel for the RS model, which was a first in a production car. The Evolution VI received new bodywork yet again, with the most easily noticeable change being within the front bumper where the huge fog lights were reduced in size and moved to the corners for better airflow. A new model was added to the GSR and RS lineup; known as the RS2, it was an RS with a few of the GSR’s options. Another limited-edition RS was known as the RS Sprint, an RS tuned by Ralliart in the UK to be lighter and more powerful with 330 hp. Yet another special edition Evolution VI was released in December 1999: the Tommi Mäkinen Edition, named after Finnish rally driver Tommi Mäkinen who had won Mitsubishi four WRC drivers championships. It featured a different front bumper, Red/Black Recaro seats (with embossed T. Mäkinen logo), 17″ Enkei white wheels, a leather Momo steering wheel and shift knob, a titanium turbine that spooled up more quickly, front upper strut brace, lowered ride height (with tarmac stages in mind), and a quicker steering ratio. Amongst other colours, the Evo VI came in either red (Tommi Mäkinen Edition only), white, blue, black or silver with optional special decals, replicating Tommi Mäkinen’s rally car’s colour scheme. This car is also sometimes referred to as an Evolution 6½, Evolution 6.5, or TME for short. There were two “standard” models. The RS – “rally sport” had a close-ratio 5-speed, minimal interior, rally suspension, Rear 1.5 Way LSD as opposed to AYC, (Shortened close-ratio 5-speed transmission, Optional Enkei Wheels, Optional Recaro Seats, Optional Air Conditioner, Optional Brembo brakes, Optional power windows). The GSR came with a 5-speed, gauge pack, AYC (Active Yaw Control), Anti-Lock Braking System, Recaro front bucket and rear seat, auto air-conditioner, double-din audio, power windows, Brembo brakes. The Tommi Mäkinen Edition Models also came in RS and GSR guise. The RS was the same as the standard RS with close-ratio 5-speed, lowered ride height, Tommi Mäkinen Edition front bumper, and titanium turbine (same option with standard RS) and the GSR was the same as the standard GSR with lowered ride height, Tommi Mäkinen Edition front bumper, Red/Black Recaro seats (with embossed T. Mäkinen logo), 17″ Enkei white wheels and titanium turbine. These cars were fearsomely expensive to run, and as such, you don’t see them very often any more.
No question about it, there were more Morgans here than anything else, with a total of over 30 cars. Morgan owners are a hardy breed, so the fact that the weather was really rather challenging only a few miles away was clearly no deterrent to those who came along. There was a wonderful mix of cars, ranging from a “flat radiator” through plenty of Plus 4 and Pus 8 cars to the more recent models which included the reborn Plus 8 with a rather wider body.
Also here were a number of the Aero 8 cars. Designed by Matthew Humphries, the Aero 8 is notable for several reasons, primarily because it is the first new Morgan design since 1964’s Plus 4 Plus. It does not use anti-roll bars, an oddity in a modern sporting car. It is also the first Morgan vehicle with an aluminium chassis and frame as opposed to traditional Morgan vehicles (“trads”) that have an aluminium skinned wooden body tub on a steel chassis. The engine first powering the Aero 8 was a 4400 cc V8 built by BMW mated to a 6-Speed Getrag transmission. In 2007, the Series 4 Aero 8 was released which had an upgraded 4799 cc V8 built by BMW with an optional ZF automatic transmission. All Aero 8s are assembled at Morgan’s Malvern Link factory, where they are able to produce up to 14 cars a week (Aeros and trads). On release in 2002, it was criticised for its “cross-eyed” look which originally was justified by the manufacturers as conferring aerodynamic benefits. In response, Morgan changed the design for 2007 and later cars to a front end design based on the Morgan Aeromax, using Mini rather than VW New Beetle headlights. The Morgan Aeromax is the coupe variation of the Aero 8. Production, which was undertaken in 2008 and 2009, was limited to one hundred cars, each costing £110,000. Owners have included Richard Hammond, Rowan Atkinson and Paul O’Grady. The taillights of AeroMax and Super Sports were borrowed from Lancia Thesis. The Morgan Aero SuperSports is a targa-roofed version of the AeroMax, sharing its bonded aluminium chassis and lower bodywork with the coupe, which was produced in 2010. At the Geneva Motor Show in March 2015, Morgan announced a new Morgan Aero 8 model, which remains in the current range.
Also available brand new is the Three-Wheeler, a model which has proved extremely popular, since its premiere at the 2011 Geneva Show.
There was an example of a much earlier 3 wheeler here, too, showing the inspiration for the current car. This one dates from 1952, the last year of production of these F-Series cars. They had been introduced in 1933 at the Olympia Motor Cycle Show. The F-4 had a new pressed-steel chassis the four-cylinder Ford Sidevalve engine used in the Model Y, and a four-seat body. The F-4 was supplemented by the two-seat F-2 in 1935 and the more sporting F Super, with cycle-type wings and louvred bonnet tops, in 1937. Production of these Ford-engined three-wheelers continued until 1952.
It was only when talking to the owner that I found out that this Aero 8 is not just any shade of red, but is actually the same shade as is used on Ferrari products and the owner had received special permission from Ferrari to have it painted in Rosso Corsa.
The paint on this new Aero 8 is also by special request two tone, with the green being a 1977 Porsche 930 Turbo colour. It turned out that the owner also has an Avantime, one of the last model SAAB 9.5 cars and a Triumph Stag.
This is an example of the last generation of Firebird produced. Launched for the 1993 model year, the fourth-generation Firebird amplified the aerodynamic styling initiated by the previous generation. While the live rear axle and floorpan aft of the front seats remained largely the same, ninety percent of the Firebird’s parts were all-new. Overall, the styling of the Firebird more strongly reflected the Banshee IV concept car than the 1991 “facelift” did. As with the Camaro, major improvements included standard dual airbags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, 16-inch wheels, rack-and-pinion power steering, short/long-arm front suspension, and several non-rusting composite body panels. Throughout its fourth generation, trim levels included V6-powered Firebird, and V8-powered Formula and Trans Am. The early cars mustered just 160 bhp in 3.4 litre V6 guise, which made them less than rapid, but power outputs were gradually increased with the substitution of that engine with a larger 200 bhp 3.8 litre unit in mid 1995. Trans Am cars had a 5.7 litre V8, initially the LT1 unit shared with the Corvette and later upgraded to the LS1 The T5 five-speed manual transmission was standard with the V6s, as was the Borg-Warner T56 six-speed manual for the V8s. A four-speed automatic was optional for both, featuring built-in electronic controls beginning in 1994. A mid-life facelift came in 1998, at the same time as one was applied to the Camaro, and this brought a new design for the bonnet and bumpers, and some other detailed changes to the lights and external trim. It was not enough, as sales of these cars had slumped badly and it was clear that they were on the slippery slope to deletion without a replacement. Production halted in 2002.
As seems to be the case at almost every you go to these days, there were plenty of Porsche 911-badged models here, no surprise given that the model has been in production for over 50 years now, and it is estimated that around 70% of all those made are still in existence. Although the name has remained for over 50 years, the model has evolved considerably in that time, and these cars are often referred to by their internal development codes to identify some of the many variants. Several of those present were those with the original 911 body style. The car continued to evolve throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, though changes initially were quite small. The SC appeared in the autumn of 1977, proving that any earlier plans there had been to replace the car with the front engined 924 and 928 had been shelved. The SC followed on from the Carrera 3.0 of 1967 and 1977. It had the same 3 litre engine, with a lower compression ratio and detuned to provide 180 PS . The “SC” designation was reintroduced by Porsche for the first time since the 356 SC. No Carrera versions were produced though the 930 Turbo remained at the top of the range. Porsche’s engineers felt that the weight of the extra luxury, safety and emissions equipment on these cars was blunting performance compared to the earlier, lighter cars with the same power output, so in non-US cars, power was increased to 188 PS for 1980, then finally to 204 PS. However, cars sold in the US market retained their lower-compression 180 PS engines throughout. This enabled them to be run on lower-octane fuel. In model year 1980, Porsche offered a Weissach special edition version of the 911 SC, named after the town in Germany where Porsche has their research centre. Designated M439, it was offered in two colours with the turbo whale tail & front chin spoiler, body colour-matched Fuchs alloy wheels and other convenience features as standard. 408 cars were built for North America. In 1982, a Ferry Porsche Edition was made and a total of 200 cars were sold with this cosmetic package. SCs sold in the UK could be specified with the Sport Group Package (UK) which added stiffer suspension, the rear spoiler, front rubber lip and black Fuchs wheels. In 1981 a Cabriolet concept car was shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Not only was the car a true convertible, but it also featured four-wheel drive, although this was dropped in the production version. The first 911 Cabriolet debuted in late 1982, as a 1983 model. This was Porsche’s first cabriolet since the 356 of the mid-1960s. It proved very popular with 4,214 sold in its introductory year, despite its premium price relative to the open-top targa. Cabriolet versions of the 911 have been offered ever since. 911 SC sales totalled 58,914 cars before the next iteration, the 3.2 Carrera, which was introduced for the 1984 model year. Coupe models outsold the Targa topped cars by a big margin.
It was only really with the launch in 1989 of the 964 that a truly “new” model would appear. Designed by Benjamin Dimson in 1986, it featured significant styling revisions over previous 911 models, most prominently the more integrated bumpers. The 964 was considered to be 85% new as compared to its predecessor. The first 964s available in 1989 were all wheel drive equipped “Carrera 4” models; Porsche added the rear wheel drive Carrera 2 variant to the range in 1990. Both variants were available as a coupe, Targa or Cabriolet. The 964 Carrera was the last generation sold with the traditional removable Targa roof until the 2011 991. A new naturally aspirated engine called the M64 was used for 964 models, with a flat-6 displacement of 3.6 litres. Porsche substantially revised the suspension, replacing torsion bars with coil springs and shock absorbers. Power steering and ABS brakes were added to the 911 for the first time; both were standard. The exterior bumpers and fog lamps became flush with the car for better aerodynamics. A new electric rear spoiler raised at speeds above 50 mph and lowered down flush with the rear engine lid at lower speeds. A revised interior featured standard dual airbags beginning in 1990 for all North American production cars. A new automatic climate control system provided improved heating and cooling. Revised instrumentation housed a large set of warning lights that were tied into the car’s central warning system, alerting the driver to a possible problem or malfunction. In 1992, Porsche produced a super-lightweight, rear-wheel-drive only version of the 964 dubbed Carrera RS for the European market. It was based on Porsche’s 911 “Carrera Cup” race car and harked back to the 2.7 and 3.0 RS and RSR models. It featured a revised version of the standard engine, titled M64/03 internally, with an increased power output of 260 bhp and lightweight flywheel coupled to the G50/10 transmission with closer ratios, asymmetrical Limited Slip Differential and steel synchromesh. A track-oriented suspension system with 40 mm (1.6 in) lower ride height, stiffer springs, shocks and adjustable stabiliser bars without power steering (RHD UK cars did have power steering). A stripped-out interior devoid of power windows or seats, rear seats, air conditioning, cruise control, sound deadening or a stereo system (optionally fitted) and new racing-bucket front seats were part of the package. The front boot cover was made of aluminium and the chassis was seam welded. Wheels were made of magnesium and the glass was thinner in the doors and rear window. The Carrera RS is approximately 345 pounds (155 kg) lighter than the Carrera 2 model. Also available were a heavier Touring variant (with sound deadening, power seats (optional), undercarriage protection and power windows) and an N/GT racing variant with a stripped, blank metal interior and a roll cage. They also came with optional lights on the visors. The RS was regarded as somewhat challenging to drive, though as time has gone by, everyone seems to have warmed to it. Many were finished in some very bold colours, like this one was.
More recent 911 models here examples from the 996, 997 and current 991 generations.
Perhaps the most imposing car of the morning was this 1933 Rolls-Royce 20/25 with a Park Ward coupe body. The 20/25 was the second of Rolls-Royce Ltd’s pre-war entry level models. Built between 1929 and 1936, it was tremendously popular, becoming the most successful selling inter-war Rolls-Royce. Its success enabled Rolls-Royce to survive the economic difficulties of the Great Depression years and remain one of world’s great brands. A total of were 3,827 20/25s were produced, of which over 70% are still on the road today. The 20/25 was the successor of the highly successful 20 hp Rolls-Royce Twenty introduced in 1922. The target market for the 20/25 was the same as the Twenty – the luxury, owner driver market. The project to develop the next generation 20 hp was code named Goshawk. The goal for the new model was to increase power & performance. This was achieved by increasing the bore size from 3 to 3.25 inches. The stroke was unchanged at 4.5 inches. This resulted in a 17% increase in capacity from 3128 to 3675cc – bring the RAC rating up to 25.4 hp. The new 20/25 model was debuted at the 1929 Olympia Motor Show and proved to be tremendously popular becoming the greatest of the inter-war successes. There were 3827 20/25 hp produced – over twice the number of its contemporary sibling the Phantom II. The popularity of the 20/25 saved Rolls-Royce Limited during the pre-war economically difficult years. Ultimately 20/25 model was replaced by the 25/30 model in 1936 in which the bore was further increased to 3.5 inches. In 1938 the 25/30 was given a new chassis with independent front suspension and was renamed the Wraith. The 20/25 also enabled Rolls-Royce Ltd to quickly capitalise on its 1931 acquisition of Bentley Motors Ltd. As part of integrating its acquisition, Rolls-Royce management discontinued the Bentley 8-Litre car due to the perceived market overlap with the Phantom II. This meant the acquisition brought with it the Bentley brand, debt and engineers & manufacturing employees with no product to produce. They quickly decided to create a new Bentley using the 20/25 engine with some adaptions and a chassis developed for a 2 ¾ litre Rolls-Royce that was to be an economy version of the 20/25 but had been cancelled. This formed the basis of the first Derby Bentley – the 3 ½ litre Bentley. The “Silent Sports Car” as they become known were highly successful and were another major contribution of the 20/25 to the success of Rolls-Royce Ltd. Like all Rolls Royce models of the period, the owner was responsible for selecting the body from the coachbuilder of their choice, Rolls Royce only supplying the engine and chassis.
It is hard to imagine now just how excited people were when this dramatically different looking Rover burst onto the scene in July 1976. These days it takes a very extreme supercar for most car enthusiasts to get truly animated, but back then, a 3.5 litre V8 engined 5 seater British hatchback was all it took, and it was no surprise that the model collected the “Car of the Year” award later in 1976, fending off the second placed Ford Fiesta and the new Audi 100. Replacing both the Rover P6 and the big Triumphs which had been launched at the 1963 Motor Show and updated only in detail since then, this new David Bache styled car, with more than a hint of Ferrari Daytona in its profile really was something very different indeed to look at, even if underneath it was more of a clever update of proven mechanicals, with the 3.5 litre V8 engine carried over from its predecessor. Early press reports suggested that the car was as good to drive as it was to behold, and quickly there were long waiting lists as Rover struggled to produce the car fast enough in an all-new manufacturing facility in Solihull. Sadly, it did not take too long before it became apparent that although the car had been a long time in gestation, there were a number of design and manufacturing quality issues, quite apart form the extra ones that were inflicted by a still very truculent and strike-prone workforce. These frustrations did little to quell demand, though, which increased when the promised 6 cylinder models arrived in the autumn of 1977. 2300 and 2600 models sported a new 6 cylinder engine and were the more obvious replacement for the big Triumph and the Rover 2200 than the V8 car had been. BL’s next move was to take the car up market with the launch of the V8S in 1979 which was available in a rather bright Triton Green metalllic paint and a choice of gold or silver alloy wheels, as well having a far higher standard level of equipment. It was replaced by the even more luxurious Vanden Plas model in late 1980. More significant was a facelift which came in early 1982. A revised rear window line was aimed at improving the rather limited rear visibility and finally a rear wiper was fitted, this having been excluded from the earlier cars as it had been deemed unnecessary by a BL management who still thought that they knew better than the customers who clamoured for one) and the bumpers and lights were altered, along with significant interior trim and equipment changes. A few weeks later, a cheaper 4 cylinder 2000 model appeared, with the O Series engine under the bonnet, aimed at the all important fleet market and later that year it was joined by a diesel version, using the VM Motor engine, creating the 90 bhp 2400SD. The real joy though was the car revealed at the 1982 British Motor Show, the Vitesse, which boasted fuel injection and 190 bhp to give the car better performance, and with a new front and rear spoiler, the looks to suggest that this was an Autobahn-stormer to rival BMW and Mercedes. Of course, the other reason for the Vitesse was so as to homologate some of the changes for what turned out to be a less than successful career on the race track. It was this which led to the final handful of Vitesse models having a further power upgrade with the TwinPlenum versions, and these are the most highly prized cars of the lot these days. That said, values of SD1 remain very low, with the result that the majority of the cars have been scrapped as they are economic to restore. Despite its size and weight, the car was adapted for motor sport and enjoyed some success in series such as the contemporary Touring Car championships, and this car is made up to look (sort of) like one of those entrants.
A rare sight in the UK are the performance Subarus that only a few years ago were so popular among enthusiasts. This is the current WRX STi.
Successor to the TR3a, and code named “Zest” during development, the TR4 was based on the chassis and drivetrain of the previous TR sports cars, but with a modern Michelotti styled body. The TR 4 engine was carried over from the earlier TR2/3 models, but the displacement was increased from 1991cc to 2138 cc by increasing the bore size. Gradual improvements in the manifolds and cylinder head allowed for some improvements culminating in the TR4A model. The 1991 cc engine became a no-cost option for those cars destined to race in the under-two-litre classes of the day. Some cars were fitted with vane-type superchargers, as the three main bearing engine was liable to crankshaft failure if revved beyond 6,500 rpm; superchargers allowed a TR4 to produce much more horse-power and torque at relatively modest revolutions. The standard engine produced 105 bhp but, supercharged and otherwise performance-tuned, a 2.2-litre I4 version could produce in excess of 200 bhp at the flywheel. The TR4, in common with its predecessors, was fitted with a wet-sleeve engine, so that for competition use the engine’s cubic capacity could be changed by swapping the cylinder liners and pistons, allowing a competitor to race under different capacity rules (i.e. below or above 2 litres for example). Other key improvements over the TR3 included a wider track front and rear, slightly larger standard engine displacement, full synchromesh on all forward gears, and rack and pinion steering. In addition, the optional Laycock de Normanville electrically operated overdrive Laycock Overdrive could now be selected for 2nd and 3rd gear as well as 4th, effectively providing the TR4 with a seven-speed manual close ratio gearbox. The TR4 was originally fitted with 15×4.5″ disc wheels. Optional 48-lace wire wheels could be ordered painted the same colour as the car’s bodywork (rare), stove-enamelled (matte silver with chrome spinners, most common) or in matte or polished chrome finishes (originally rare, but now more commonly fitted). The most typical tyre originally fitted was 590-15 bias ply or optional radial tires. In the US at one point, American Racing alloy (magnesium and aluminium) wheels were offered as an option, in 15×5.5″ or 15×6″ size. Tyres were a problem for original owners who opted for 60-spoke wire wheels, as the correct size radial-ply tyre for the factory rims was 155-15, an odd-sized tyre at the time only available from Michelin at considerable expense. Some original TR4 sales literature says the original radial size was 165-15. The much more common 185-15 radials were too wide to be fitted safely. As a result, many owners had new and wider rims fitted and their wheels re-laced. The new TR4 body style did away with the classical cutaway door design of the previous TRs to allow for wind-down windows (in place of less convenient side-curtains), and the angular rear allowed a boot with considerable capacity for a sports car. Advanced features included the use of adjustable fascia ventilation, and the option of a unique hard top that consisted of a fixed glass rear window (called a backlight) with an integral rollbar and a detachable, steel centre panel (aluminium for the first 500 units). This was the first such roof system on a production car and preceded by 5 years the Porsche 911/912 Targa, which has since become a generic name for this style of top. On the TR4 the rigid roof panel was replaceable with an easily folded and stowed vinyl insert and supporting frame called a Surrey Top. The entire hard top assembly is often mistakenly referred to as a Surrey Top. In original factory parts catalogues the rigid top and backlight assembly is listed as the Hard Top kit. The vinyl insert and frame are offered separately as a Surrey Top. Features such as wind-down windows were seen as a necessary step forward to meet competition and achieve good sales in the important US market, where the vast majority of TR4s were eventually sold. Dealers had concerns that buyers might not fully appreciate the new amenities, therefore a special short run of TR3As (commonly called TR3Bs) was produced in 1961 and ’62. The TR4 proved very successful and continued the rugged, “hairy-chested” image that the previous TRs had enjoyed. 40,253 cars were built during production years. Most were sold new to the US, but plenty have returned, and it is estimated that there are not far short of 900 examples of the model in the UK at present.
In 1962, three years after the launch of the Herald, Triumph created a more sporting version by putting a 1600cc 6 cylinder engine under the bonnet, calling the result the Vitesse, which they offered with both saloon and convertible bodies. Handling of the early cars, on their swing axle suspension was best described as “interesting”, but Triumph worked hard to revise (tame!) it so by the time that the 2 litre models were launched in 1965, the car was rather easier to drive briskly on bendy roads. A Mark 2 version was launched in 1968, with new front end styling and other trim differences, and the model lived on until 1971. To be seen here was a late model 2 litre Convertible Mark 2.
The Griffith was the first of the modern generation TVRs. First seen as a concept at the 1990 British Motor Show, it wowed the crowds sufficiently that unlike the Show Cars of precediing years, may of which were never seen again, Peter Wheeler and his small team in Blackpool immediately set about preparing it for production. It took until mid 1992 before they were ready. Like its forerunner namesakes, the Griffith 200 and Griffith 400, the modern Griffith was a lightweight (1048 kg) fibreglass-bodied, 2-door, 2-seat sports car with a V8 engine. Originally, it used a 4.0 litre 240 hp Rover V8 engine, but that could be optionally increased to a 4.3 litre 280 hp unit, with a further option of big-valve cylinder heads. In 1993, a TVR-developed 5.0 litre 340 hp version of the Rover V8 became available. All versions of the Griffith used the Lucas 14CUX engine management system and had a five-speed manual transmission. The car spawned a cheaper, and bigger-selling relative, the Chimaera, which was launched in 1993. 602 were sold in the first year and then around 250 cars a year were bought throughout the 90s, but demand started to wane, so iIn 2000, TVR announced that the Griffith production was going to end. A limited edition run of 100 Special Edition (SE) cars were built to mark the end of production. Although still very similar to the previous Griffith 500 model, the SE had a hybrid interior using the Chimaera dashboard and Cerbera seats. Noticeably, the rear lights were different along with different door mirrors, higher powered headlights and clear indicator lenses. Some also came with 16-inch wheels. Each car came with a numbered plaque in the glove box including the build number and a Special Edition Badge on its boot. All cars also had a unique signature in the boot under the carpet. The SEs were built between 2000 and 2002, with the last registered in 2003. A register of the last 100 SEs can be found at TVR Griffith 500 SE Register. These days, the Griffith remains a much loved classic and to celebrate the car, the owners have a meet called “The Griff Growl.”
Also present was a Chimaera, the slightly softer version of the Griffith, that was sold from 1993 to 2003. Offered with a choice of 4.0, 4,3 and later 4.5 and 5 litre Rover V8-based engines, this was still an exciting car, and a good looking one as well.
One of the real head-turners was this Ultima which was well able to hold its own against some more costly machinery. Although the model has been in low volume “production” for many years now, there are still plenty of people who do not know what the car is, and the fact that there are no badges on it, and now no tax disc, means that there are no clues even when you see it in person. The Ultima is manufactured by Ultima Sports Ltd of Hinckley in Leicestershire, and is generally described by commentators as a supercar. It is available both in kit form and as a “turnkey” (i.e. assembled by the factory) vehicle. The design is a mid engined, rear wheel drive layout, with a tubular steel space frame chassis and GRP bodywork. Both close coupe and convertible versions have been made. The latter is called the Ultima Can-Am. Kit builders are free to source and fit a variety of engines and transmissions but the Chevrolet small block V8 supplied by American Speed mated to either a Porsche or Getrag transaxle is the factory recommended standard, and this configuration is fitted to all turnkey cars.
The VX220 is the only true sports car that the marque has produced in the last 90 years. Quite unlike any Vauxhall that had ever come before it, the VX220 was the result of a deal between GM and Lotus, struck to generate enough funding for the latter to be able to develop a replacement for their Elise model, something forced on them owing to changes in European crash safety regulations for the 2000 model year. Lotus agreed to develop and produce a 2 seater sports car for GM, on the new Series 2 Elise chassis, with a concept version of the proposed GM model being shown at the Geneva Motor Show in 1999. Although the body styling was different, clearly the economies would only work if as much else could be shared, and that presented a challenge as it was planned to use a 1.8-litre Toyota engine, similar to that found in the Toyota Celica, in the second generation Elise, whereas the GM cars clearly had to use a GM engine, namely the 2.2-litre GM Ecotec engine from the Astra. As neither engine had been used in the original Elise, which had been fitted with a 1.8-litre Rover K-Series engine, this simply became one of the many design challenges .In order to accommodate the production of the new cars, Lotus expanded its Hethel factory to a capacity of 10,000 cars, with around 3,500 slots allocated to Speedster production. Production of the Speedster commenced in 2000. The car was hailed by the motoring press as a great drivers’ car and won several accolades, including Top Gear’s Car of the Year in 2003. The lesser naturally aspirated 2.2 version was considered easier to drive than the potent Turbo model, and some journalists suggested that the Opel/Vauxhall car was better value for money than the Lotus, among them one Jeremy Clarkson in his 2003 DVD Shoot Out. However, the market did not really agree, and sales were limited. The car was deleted in 2005, with no successor.
A popular classic now, this was a nice example of the first generation Golf GTi. The model was first seen at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1975. The idea behind it was rather straightforward – take a basic-transportation economy car and give it a high-performance package, making it practical and sporty. It was one of the first small cars to adopt mechanical fuel injection, which meant that the 1588cc engine put out 110 bhp, a big increase on what was available in the regular Golf models, which, in conjunction with a light weight of just 810 kg, gave it a top speed of around 100 mph and a 0 – 60 time of 9 seconds, impressive figures in their day. Volkswagen initially built the GTI only for the home market of West Germany, but launched it onto the British market in 1977 in left-hand drive form, with a right-hand drive version finally becoming available in 1979 as demand and competition increased. Many regard the Golf GTI Mk1 as the first “hot hatch” on the market, it was in fact preceded by the Autobianchi A112 Abarth in 1971, although it would prove to be far more popular than the earlier car in the UK market since the A112 Abarth was never available in RHD. It also competed with a number of quick small saloons including the Ford Escort RS2000. When the Escort switched to front-wheel drive and a hatchback for the third generation model in 1980, Ford launched a quick XR3 model which was comparable to the Golf GTI in design and performance. The Golf GTI was among the first “hot hatch” with mass market appeal, and many other manufacturers since have created special sports models of their regular volume-selling small hatchbacks. Within a few years of its launch, it faced competitors including the Fiat Ritmo, Ford Escort XR3/XR3i, Renault 5 GT Turbo and Vauxhall Astra/Opel Kadett GTE. A five speed gearbox became available in 1981 and in 1982, the engine was enlarged to 1780cc, which increased the available power a little. The car proved popular in the UK from the outset, with over 1500 being sold in 1979. Although the subsequent recession saw new car sales fall considerably during 1980 and 1981, sales of the Golf GTI reached nearly 5,000 in 1981. This also came in spite of the arrival of a popular new British-built competitor – the Ford Escort XR3. By 1983, the GTI accounted for more than 25% of total Golf sales (some 7,000 cars).
There was also an example of the regular Mark 2 Golf here.
Now quite a rare sighting, this Volvo 480ES was parked up on the track rather than in the main event. The 480 was produced in Born, Netherlands, at the factory that built DAF cars, including the DAF 66 based Volvo 66, and later, the Volvo 300 Series. It was the first front-wheel drive car made by the automaker. The 480 was available in only one body style on an automobile platform related to the Volvo 440/460 five door hatchback and four door sedan models. It featured an unusual four seat, three door hatchback body, somewhere between liftback and estate in form, the first Volvo of its style since the P1800ES, and the last until the unveiling of the C30. All of these models featured a frameless glass hatch for cargo access.. Volvo took six years from the time the 480 was conceived, through its development, and finally brought to production readiness. Designed by Volvo’s Dutch subsidiary, the “sporty 480 ES coupe” was introduced to change the automaker’s “frumpy image” and into the “yuppie” market segment. The concept was to market a modern, compact front wheel drive car with a unique low slung design targeting buyers “between 25 and 40, probably with a higher than average education and with a career.” The press launch was on October 15, 1985, but the 480 was first put on public show at Geneva in March 1986, becoming available to the buyers in 1987. It was initially well received, with the press describing it as having a “sleek hatch body” in contrast to Volvo’s traditional “boxcar look”. Because the 480 was originally planned for the North American market (evidenced by its front and rear side markers, not used on European automobiles). it was, Volvo claimed, one of the first cars sold in Europe featuring bumpers designed to comply with United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulations to withstand a 5 mph front rear impact without damage to the engine, lights, and safety equipment. This was the only Volvo to feature pop up headlamps for better aerodynamics. Volvo highlighted that the car was “well-endowed with advanced electronics” and the automaker’s press release described in detail the numerous features, though some of these would prove to be the cause of the reliability problems that plagued early cars. The 480 had good handling, due in part to its Lotus designed suspension. The normally aspirated Renault engines were reliable. The 1987 models were available with ABS as an optional extra. In 1988, a Turbo version was introduced, the Garrett AiResearch turbocharger increasing the power from 108 bhp to 118 bhp. Maximum torque was 129 lb-ft compared to 103 lb-ft for the naturally aspirated engine. In 1993 new legislation meant that catalytic converters had to be fitted to unleaded petrol engines, power dropped and so the 2.0 litre engine was developed; it was rated at 108 bhp and 122 lb-ft. A four-speed automatic transmission was also offered. In 1991, the 480 received new mirrors, headrests for the back seats, as well as subtle modifications to the trim and body colour bumpers. The 2.0 naturally aspirated engine was also introduced, again based on the Renault F3 engine. Changes between the CEM (Central Electronic Module) are externally apparent with the introduction of a total closure system whereby the key can be held in the lock position to close the windows and (where fitted) sunroof. Earlier CEM modules feature a “passing” function for the wipers, whereby fully depressing the accelerator pedal will switch intermittent wipers to full. Early 1992 saw the first release of special editions such as the “TwoTone”. 1994 saw the United Kingdom release of the “Celebration” limited edition of 480 specially equipped and numbered cars. In 1994, the 480 also received its last light update, and now sported clear front turn signals. Production ended on 7 September 1995. According to the Volvo Museum, 76,375 cars in ES and Turbo versions were made between 1986 and 1995.
This was a great morning, with plenty of variety and a nice atmosphere. The dates for 2018 have now been published, with just 6 events scheduled, 2 of them “away”. Most of them clash with something else I have in mind for the day, so it may well be not til late in the season before I get to attend again, but for anyone who can make it earlier than that, then 22nd April sees the first Prescott Breakfast Club of the season, and would be well worth a visit.