This was the third of three Sunday Scrambles to be held at the Bicester Heritage site in 2017, and having attended the first two, I needed no persuading to clear space in the diary for this one. Think of the Sunday Scramble as a sort of extended Breakfast Club, as the concept is very similar, with cars of every type from those dating back to the dawn of motoring to almost brand new models all turning up on site. Attendees comprise a mix of sole entries and Car Club organised displays. These latter are parked up in the area adjoining the air-field, whilst the singleton entries take up space elsewhere in what is referred to as the “technical site”. This area comprises all manner of what are almost like streets, with parking areas surrounding the historic buildings, which, on every visit, show even further evidence of restoration, as the site returns to full splendour. This way of parking up cars leads to some great photographic backdrops, further improved on this occasion by the autumn leaves which are in that transition between changing colour on the trees and fluttering to the ground. It also means that, with cars coming and going pretty much all morning, you need to do several laps of the site, and even then when you see someone else’s photo stream it is evident that you missed quite a few entirely. Many of the businesses hosted on site open their doors during the event, giving tantalising glimpses of repair and restoration work on all manner of old and historic cars. Combine that with several stalls offering tea and coffee and bacon rolls, as well as ice creams, and with well over 1000 car on show, and you can easily pass most of the day here, as indeed I did. Here’s what I saw:
It was not just me that was keen to attend this event, but many other Abarth owners as well, as those who came to the last event in April thoroughly enjoyed their day here. I kept being asked just when tickets would be available, which is always a good sign. We ended up with well over 20 cars in the Abarth Owners Club display, which was a good turnout. What was a bit surprising was that they were all 500 based, with a wide variety of these cars from early 500s through the various iterations of 595s and a couple of the recently released 695 Yamaha XSR model.
Although there was visible Alfa Romeo Owners Club branding visible, there was an interesting collection of classic Alfa models here, which I very much enjoyed seeing. Oldest of these was a Giulietta Berlina.
Final evolution of the ever so pretty 105 Series Coupe models was this, 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.
Alfa replaced the 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. Seen here was one of the Series 2 cars.
There was also one of the later S4 cars here, the final evolution of the long-running model, which was first seen in 1990. Mechanically, the biggest different was the use of Bosch Motronic electronic fuel injection with an electric fan. Externally, the Spider lost its front under-bumper spoiler and the rather ungainly rear boot spoiler of the S3, and picked up 164-style rear lights stretching across the width of the car as well as plastic bumpers the same colour as the car. This also marked the first generation of the car with automatic transmission, as well as on-board diagnostics capabilities. The car had remained in production largely thanks to continued demand in North America, though this market had to wait until 1991 for the changes to appear on their cars. European markets were offered a car with a 1600cc engine and carburettors as well as the 2 litre injected unit. Production finally ended in 1993, with an all new model, the 916 Series Spider appearing a year later. The S4 car was not officially sold in the UK, but plenty have found their way to our shores since then.
I was really pleased to see this 164 Cloverleaf, one of my favourite cars of the event. I had the pleasure of driving a Twin Spark version of the 164 for 4 years and 160,000 miles and to this day, it is the car I regret parting with more than any other of the fleet that I have owned over the years. When I bought mine, Alfa were selling a very small number of cars per month in the UK, so they were never that common, and sadly, survival rates are very low. Most people who know anything about the history of the 164 will be aware that this is one of the four so-called Type 4 cars, a joint venture involving Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia and Saab. In 1978 these four marques agreed to each develop an executive saloon based on a shared platform to compete against the likes of the Ford Granada and Opel Rekord (Vauxhall Carlton) as well as more premium saloons by BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the form of the 5-Series and E-Class, respectively. Alfa’s Project 164 started life as Project 154 and was completed in 1981, then still under Alfa Romeo. A year later, that project morphed into the 164 based on the Type Four platform. This new model was designed by Enrico Fumia of Pininfarina, with a wedge shape that afforded it a leading drag coefficient of Cd=0.30. The design would later influence the rest of the Alfa Romeo range starting in 1990 with the major redesign of the 33 and culminating with the 155, and Pininfarina also adapted it (much to the maker’s chagrin) for the 1987 Peugeot 405 and the 1989 Peugeot 605 saloons. Initial testing of the 164’s dynamic elements (engine and drivetrain) began in 1984, where mules based on the then contemporary Giulietta were used. In 1985, the first pre-production 164’s were put through their paces on the road. Heavily disguised, with many false panels and even a false nose design (borrowing heavily from the then equally undeveloped 155), sporting 4 round headlamps, these vehicle mules served to test the 164 for the gruelling 1 million kilometre static and road testing demanded of the design. In 1986 and 1987, the first 150 164’s were given their pre-production testing. In terms of engineering demands, these exceeded every Alfa before, and by quite a substantial margin. In Morocco, desert testing saw 5 grey 164 Twinsparks and V6’s undergo the equivalent of the Paris-Dakar rally. Road conditions varied from good tarmac to off-road conditions, and accelerometers confirmed the superiority of the 164 in terms of passenger comfort. This data was cross-confirmed in the engineering laboratory with a sophisticated dummy in the driver’s seat, with accelerometers both in its seat, and in its ears to mimic that of the semi-circular canals of the ear. The Twinspark and the V6 underwent handling trials at Arese. The Twinspark displayed very mature driving manners at the limit, with minimal skid. The V6 displayed a 25% increase in at-the-limit skid, a natural consequence of its greater nose weight. ABS testing confirmed that the Twinspark has superior braking to the V6. Brake linings of the 164’s were run at maximum braking until they literally glowed with heat, and displayed no deviation in form. The 164 was the first Alfa to feature slotted double-walled disc brakes. At no point were the discs drilled to release excess heat, the original design being demonstrated to be excellent. Sound production was tested in an anechoic chamber, the car being subjected to stress and road noise testing, with instruments and with live subjects at the wheel, on a specially designed rig. Electromagnetic stability of the complex electronic system was also tested, in an anechoic chamber equipped with EM emitters (radar). The 164 engines were run to destruction, the Twinspark proving to be the most robust, and with the longest possible engine life. The V6 displayed only 10% shorter overall engine life. All this testing meant that by the time the production car, called the 164 was unveiled at the 1987 Frankfurt Motor Show – the last model to be developed while the Alfa Romeo was still a fully independent company, even though the launch was a few months after the takeover by Fiat – that the car was far more thoroughly developed and tested than any Alfa preceding it. There were plenty of innovations in the build, too, thanks to the extensive use of galvanised steel for the frame and various body panels for the first time in the brand’s history. Moreover, the car featured advanced electronics thanks to the most complex wiring harness fitted to any Alfa Romeo. For example: it had three onboard computers (one for air conditioning, one for instrumentation, and one for the engine management); air conditioning and instrument functions shared a multiple-mode coded Zilog Z80-class microcontroller for dashboard functioning). The instrumentation included a full range of gauges including an advanced check-panel.. The car was a sensation at launch. For a start, it looked fantastic thanks to Enrico Fumia of Pininfarina’ design. The first 1:1 scale model of the car had been produced in 1982 and design cues had been publicly revealed on the Alfa Romeo Vivace concept car, which was exhibited at the 1986 Turin Motorshow that went on to influence the design of the Alfa Romeo GTV and Spider (916 series) launched in 1993, but the result was distinctive and elegant and very different from any of its rivals, or indeed any of the other Tipo 4 cars. The 164 became the first Alfa to benefit from extensive use of computer aided design, used to calculate structural stresses that resulted in a very rigid but still relatively lightweight chassis. Although sharing the same platform as that of the Lancia Thema, Fiat Croma and Saab 9000, by virtue of the fact that it was the last of the four to enter production, it featured unique front suspension geometry and the most distinctive styling of the lot. In fact, for example, the other cars all shared identical side door panels. Though still voluminous, the 164 had the tightest aperture to the boot, which had a 510-Litre capacity. The interior was spacious and modern, available with standard velour seating or leather trim depending on the model. Its dashboard continued the avantgarde design of the exterior with a centre dashboard that was dominated by a large number of seemingly identical buttons arranged in rows. Air-direction within the ventilation system was controlled by a pair of servomechanisms, which were constructed using notoriously fragile plastic gears that were prone to failure. Depending on the model, the 164 could feature automatic climate control and electronically controlled damping suspension – the latter, for example, in the sports-oriented Quadrifoglio Verde (“Green Cloverleaf “) and 164S models. This suspension actively reduced damping in response to conditions to provide a dynamic compromise between road holding and comfort. At launch, the original 164 range comprised three models: a 148 bhp 2.0 Twin Spark, the 192 bhp 3.0i V6 12-valve and a 2.5 Turbodiesel (badged “TD”). It took a year before the first cars reached the UK and the first eighteen months saw only the 3 litre model offered. The bigger selling 2.0 TS arrived in the summer of 1990, just before the range was expanded by the 4-cylinder 2.0i Turbo, the sports-oriented 3.0i V6 Quadrifoglio Verde (badged “QV” or “S”) and North American export versions that included the luxury-oriented 164 L (“L” for Lusso) and the 164 S (in essence, the “QV”). Apart from minor running production upgrades, the next change came in 1993 with the launch of the 164 Super. Key differences on the outside consisted of larger bumpers with chrome trimmings added to the upper edge and revised headlights with a slimmer profile. Inside, there were revised instruments and a centre console that featured more delineated switchgear. The range was now also bolstered by a 3.0 V6 24V with a 24-valve engine upgrade and the 3.0 V6 Quadrifoglio 4 (badged “Q4”), which was the most powerful and sole all wheel drive variant built. Production ended in late 1997, with a gap of nearly two years before the replacement model would go on sale.
Rather than replacing the 916 Series GTV with a single model, Alfa elected to produce two successors., The more commodious of the two, the GT, was the first to appear, making its debut in March 2003 at the Geneva Motor Show, finally going on sale in early 2004. It was built at the Pomigliano plant, alongside the 147 and 159. The GT was based on the Alfa 156 platform, which was also used for the 147, providing the 2-door coupé with genuine five-passenger capacity. It was styled by Bertone. Most mechanicals were taken directly from the 156/147 using the same double wishbone front suspension and MacPherson rear setup. The interior was derived form the smaller hatchback 147 and shared many common parts. The GT shared the same dash layout and functions, the climate control system as well as having a similar electrical system. Some exterior parts were taken from 147 with the same bonnet, wing mirrors and front wings (from 147 GTA). The engine range included both a 1.8 TS, and 2.0 JTS petrol engine, a 1.9 MultiJet turbodiesel, and a top-of-the-range 240 bhp 3.2 V6 petrol. There were few changes during the GT’s production life. In 2006 Alfa introduced a 1.9 JTD Q2 version with a limited slip differential, and also added a new trim level called Black Line. In 2008 Alfa introduced the cloverleaf model as a limited edition complete with new trim levels, lowered suspension, body kit, 18 inch alloy wheels and was only available in the colours black, Alfa red, or blue. with 1.8 and 2.0 litre petrol engines as well as the 1.9 litre Multijet turbo diesel. The GT was acclaimed for its attractive styling and purposeful good looks, in 2004 being voted the world’s most beautiful coupe in the annual ‘World’s Most Beautiful Automobile’ (L’Automobile più Bella del Mondo) awards. The car sold reasonably well, with 80,832 units being produced before the model was deleted in 2010.
The other successor cars were the Brera models. Visually similar to the 159 models at the front, the Brera and Spider boasted unique styling from the A pillars rearwards. They were offered with the same range of engines as the 159, and thanks to that strong, but rather heavy platform on which they were built, even the 3.2 litre V6 cars were more Grand Tourer than rapid sports car. Pininfarina was responsible for both models. The Brera was first to market, in 2005, with the Spider following in 2006. Production of both ceased in late 2010, by which time 12,488 units of the Spider and 21,786 units of the Brera had been built. It will be very surprising if these do not attain classic status, and the consequent rise in values, though that has not happened yet. It is the Spider that you see more frequently these days and indeed that was the version on show here.
First seen as a concept at the 2011 Geneva Show, the production 4C Competizione model did not debut for a further 2 years. Production got underway later that year at the Maserati plant in Modena, and the first deliveries were late in 2013. Production was originally pegged at 1000 cars a year and a total of just 3500, which encouraged many speculators to put their name down in the hope of making a sizeable profit on selling their cars on. That plan backfired, and in the early months, there were lots of cars for sale for greater than list price. Press reaction to the car has been mixed, with everyone loving the looks, but most of them feeling that the driving experience is not as they would want. Owners generally disagree – as is so often the case! For sure, it has no radio, and no carpets and no luggage space to speak of, but you know that when you buy it. It won’t be the car everyone, but if you can live with these limitations, you are sure to enjoy it. Indeed, all owners I have ever spoke to do love their car. I know I would if I could find space (and funds!) for one in my garage!
Making another appearance here is this rather splendid 1936 SC Charlesworth, which I understand belongs to Dan Geoghegan, the General Manager of the site. The SC model came out in 1935 and had the larger 2.7-litre engine (good for an easy 90mph) plus improved steering and suspension, a stiffened chassis and twin electric fuel pumps. The low-slung chassis endowed the car with tremendous handling and grip for its day: “’When cornering it is not only free from rolling – the low build sees to that – but the layout is such that it clings to the intended path at quite unexpected speeds, and when centrifugal force does eventually produce a skid, it is of the rear wheels only and easily controlled,” observed Motor Sport’s tester. Motor magazine were equally enthusiastic: “The new Alvis Speed Twenty is the type of car which looks right, feels right and is right. From the driver’s point of view the controls are all just where they are required and the power, speed and acceleration provided by the silky six-cylinder engine are a real eye-opener to anyone accustomed to driving about in more ordinary motor cars.” Although the car was available in rolling chassis form to receive a coachbuilt body of the owner’s choosing, the majority of customers plumped for the handsome Charlesworth Saloon bodywork that you see here. By the time production came to an end in late 1936, just 1,165 Speed Twenties of all types had been built and all are increasingly sought-after today. As copies of the original factory build sheets confirm, this particular car was delivered new to Messrs. Saunders of Buxton on 12th February 1935. Passing through a few more hands in the north of England, it was then acquired by a Barrie Simkins of Wakefield who was to treat it to a total body-off restoration between 1979 and 1986, fully documented by many photographs and invoices in the history file. This included a new ash frame and a full engine rebuild plus much other work. Since the restoration was completed the car has covered some 12,000 miles, and the car has been continually improved and maintained, primarily by Red Triangle.
Among the many other Alvis models here were a couple of the smaller and cheaper 12/50 and later 12/60 (I think). Not being an expert on the marque, it is quite likely that some of them are not, but there are not enough clues in my photos (or on the cars on the day) to provide better identification. The 12/50 was introduced in 1923 and went through a series of versions, with the last ones being made in 1932. A range of factory bodies (made by Carbodies and Cross & Ellis) could be specified in two- or four-seat form, either open or closed. The first models were designated SA and SB and had a 1496 cc 4-cylinder overhead valve engine in a chassis with a wheelbase of 108.5 in for the SA and 112.5 in for the SB. The engines of these early cars were carried in a subframe bolted to the relatively slender ladder chassis. The SA usually carried two-seat bodywork; often the classic so-called “duck’s back” style named after its pointed rear end, which was said to resemble that of a duck. The SA and SB 12/50s were built with brakes on the rear wheels only. All the 12/50s had a four speed non-synchromesh gearbox with right hand change. The SC arrived in Autumn 1924 for the 1925 model year with a larger 1598 cc engine (unless the 1496 cc unit was specified for sporting use) and, like all the remaining cars, the longer chassis. Front wheel brakes were offered as an option on this model. A new stronger chassis was designed and used for the TE of 1926, which had its engine, now built around a redesigned crankcase enlarged again to 1645 cc, and the TF of the same year which retained the smaller 1496 cc version. A single-plate clutch replaced the previous cone type, and for these and all subsequent 12/50s the engine was bolted directly to the chassis, dispensing with the subframe of previous models. From the TE and TF models onwards four-wheel brakes were fitted as standard. The TE and TF were superseded in 1927 by the TG and SD with large and small engine respectively. The TG was the standard ‘touring’ model, while the SD – powered by the 1496cc engine, now fitted with a large-port cylinder head – satisfied the needs of the sporting motorist. Also available in this year was the TH, which had the gearbox and rear axle ratios of the ‘touring’ TG, but the sub-1500cc engine of the SD. The TG and SD models were available until 1929. The 12/50 was withdrawn between 1929 and 1930 when the company decided that the future lay with the front-wheel drive FD and FE models, but when these did not reach the hoped for volumes a final version of the 12/50 was announced as the 1645 cc 1931 TJ continuing until 1932. The TJ is referred to by Alvis historians as being from the ‘revival period’, and it differs from its predecessor in a number of ways, notably coil instead of magneto ignition, deep chromed radiator shell, and rear petrol tank in place of the scuttle-mounted tank on most older 12/50s. Survival rate of the 12/50 cars is good, and they are popular classics at VSCC events.
Alvis had quite a reputation in the 1930s for producing high quality sports machines, and it was with cars like this Speed 20 that this reputation had become established.
This very imposing looking car is a 1937 Silver Crest. These were costly cars that were first announced in mid 1937 and produced until the advent of war. Sold with a saloon car or coupé body, they used what was then advanced technology intended to provide a top speed in excess of 80 mph and sold at a relatively high purchase price. The Silver Crest had a six-cylinders 2.4 or 2.8-litre engine using a four bearing crankshaft and a vibration damper. Camshaft and auxiliaries were driven from the crankshaft by Triplex chain. Synchronised triple S.U. carburettors feed in petrol from twin fuel pumps from a 16-gallon tank at the back of the car. Alvis also offered the car as a chassis only, for a bespoke body. The chassis package included lighting and starting sets, twin electric windscreen wipers, all instrument panel fittings, bonnet, front wings and running boards, battery, twin horns, front bumper, all tyres, foot pump and tool kit.
The Alvis Fourteen also known as TA 14 was the first car to be produced by major defence contractor Alvis cars after World War II. The entire car factory had been destroyed on the night of Thursday 14 November 1940. Announced in November 1946 it was made until 1950 when its postwar austerity 1900 cc engine was replaced by the 2993 cc 26.25 HP Alvis Three Litre or TA 21 The Fourteen was available as a four-door sports saloon built for Alvis by Mulliners of Birmingham but there were also Tickford and Carbodies drophead versions. When compared with the 12/70 car it replaced the interior is 4 inches wider and the distance between rear-seat armrests is increased almost 5 inches. The 1892 cc engine is a slightly larger-bore version of the one used in the 12/70 and produced 65 bhp It is fitted with a single SU type H4 -inch side-draught carburettor. Inlet valves have been enlarged. The triplex chain drive has been given an automatic tensioner. The engine’s exhaust system has been extensively revised and the direction of flow of cooling water around the engine has been substantially changed. The bodies were mounted on an updated pre-war Alvis 12/70 chassis that was widened and lengthened but retained the rigid-axle leaf spring suspension. Employing Silentbloc bushes (except at the front of the front springs to maintain steering precision) it is controlled by double acting Armstrong hydraulic dampers. Hypoid bevel final drive was fitted for the first time and greatly reduced the height of the transmission tunnel. Steering is by Marles with a spring spoked steering wheel. Mechanically operated brakes are two-leading-shoe type by Girling. Disc wheels replaced the 12/70’s wire wheels and are fitted with larger tyres. The car seen here is one of a series of Shooting Brake versions which were produced by Tickford, and dates from 1948.
Produced between 1953 and 1955, the TC was an update of the 3 Litre. The car was available in four-door saloon and drophead versions essentially the same as the TA 21. The saloon bodies were made for Alvis by Mulliners of Birmingham) and the dropheads by Tickford. A sunshine roof remained standard as did “separately adjustable front seats; heater and air-conditioning unit; Trico windscreen washers” drawing the comment from Autocar “In detail fittings . . . this car leaves little to be desired. The 2,993 cc engine was upgraded to produce 100 bhp by modifying the cylinder head and fitting twin SU carburettors. Suspension was the same as the TA 21, independent at the front using coil springs with leaf springs at the rear. The 11 in drum brakes using a Lockheed system were also retained. However this update found few buyers during a very difficult year for the British Motor Industry and though it remained in the catalogue and continued to be advertised it was in practice replaced by the Grey Lady. The TC.21/100 or Grey Lady was announced on 20 October 1953 came with a guarantee of a speed of 100 mph resulting from an improved exhaust system and an engine compression ratio raised from 7:1 to 8:1 to take advantage of the availability of better petrol. The final drive ratio was raised from 4.09:1 to 3.77:1. A paired front fog lamp and matching driving lamp became a standard fitting. The bonnet gained air scoops and wire wheels were fitted to try to enliven the car’s image. A heater was fitted as standard but a radio remained an expensive option. A saloon version tested by The Motor magazine in 1954 had a top speed of 100.1 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 15.4 seconds. A fuel consumption of 20.6 mpg was recorded. The test car cost £1,821 including taxes. Nevertheless just 18 months later the Times’ Motoring Correspondent tested and reported on the Grey Lady under the headline “Few Concessions to Fashion Trends”. His opening gambit was that this Alvis was now one of the few British cars that did not look American and, he said, there was little concession to the cult of streamlining beyond the two air scoops in the bonnet. He wrote that spacious internal headroom and wire wheels completed that picture. It was noted the instruments were not in front of the driver but in the centre of the dashboard (instrument panel) and so the speedometer was apt to be masked by the driver’s left hand. However the front seats were comfortable and rear seat passengers received padding on the wheel arches surmounted by armrests. Leather upholstery, pile carpets and walnut facings for the dashboard and lower parts of the window frames completed the traditional picture. He did however say that “the driver who is sensitive to the “feel” of his car will enjoy every moment of his motoring irrespective of the traffic” and reported the car’s behaviour on corners was extremely stable though potholes like those caused by recessed manhole covers proved very heavy going for the springing. Nonetheless, 7576 examples of the model were produced.
Final Alvis models here were a couple of the last type that were produced before the firm ceased car manufacture in 1967. These were a TD21 Drophead and a TE21. Conceived in 1956, this design was launched as the TD21, and it was quite a departure from the lovely, but rather “post-war” TC21. However, on its arrival in dealer’s showrooms, it quickly set about changing established views of the Alvis. Following the loss of coachbuilders Mulliner and Tickford (who were now tied to other companies), Alvis turned to the Swiss coachbuilder, Graber whose tradition of producing sleek, modern and very elegant saloons and dropheads proved a good fit in terms of the way Alvis saw their future. Graber first presented this new style to the Alvis board in late 1957 who were very impressed with the Swiss company’s flowing design and commissioned the body to be built on the new TD chassis. To ease logistical problems, Park Ward of London, built the Graber designed bodies in the UK. The Alvis Three Litre TD21 Series I was produced between the end of 1958 and April 1962, and was powered by the TC’s 2993 cc engine, uprated by 15bhp to 115 as a result of an improved cylinder head design and an increased compression ratio. A new four-speed gearbox from the Austin-Healey 100 was incorporated, while the suspension remained similar to the cars predecessor, independent at the front using coil springs and leaf springs at the rear, but the track was increased slightly and a front anti-roll bar added. From 1959 the all drum brake set up was changed to discs at the front retaining drums at the rear. In April 1962, the car was upgraded with four wheel Dunlop disc brakes in place of the disc/drum combination, aluminium doors, a five-speed ZF gearbox and pretty recessed spotlights either side of the grille, these improvements coming together to create the TD21 Series II. The car would be updated in 1963 to create the TE21, with its distinctive dual headlights proving a recognition point, and the later TF21, continuing in production until 1967 at which point Alvis ceased car manufacture.
Parked next to each other were a couple of examples of the Ariel Atom. Popular primarily as a track day car, the Atom was first seen in public at the British International Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham in October 1996, the result of a student project by Coventry University transport design student, Niki Smart. Known then as the LSC (Lightweight Sports Car), it was developed at the university in 1996 with input and funding from various automotive industry members, including British Steel and TWR. Ariel Motor Company boss Simon Saunders was a senior lecturer whose responsibility for the project was primarily as financial manager and design critic for Smart, whom he described as “The best all-round design student I’ve ever seen.” Since then, an operation was created in Crewkerne, Somerset, and around 100 cars a year are produced there. Each one is made by a single person, who undertakes everything from assembly to final road test before putting his name on the finished product. There have been 7 distinct models, with a wide variety of different engines ranging from a 2 litre Honda VTEC unit in naturally aspirate and supercharged guise, to the ultimate, the 500, with a 3 litre V8 that generates 500 bhp. Visually, the cars look similar at a quick glance, and it takes a real marque expert (which I am not!), to tell them apart.
A name long-forgotten by most, Armstrong-Siddeley, a Coventry-based manufacturer started producing cars in 1919. The two examples of the marque here were the last model that the firm produced, the Sapphire. A replacement for the Whitley, the Sapphire was first seen in 1952, and extended into quite a range of different models over the next 8 years. The first model to bear the Sapphire name was the 346, introduced late in 1952 for sale in 1953 and continuing until 1958. It had a six-cylinder 3,435 cc engine with hemi-spherical combustion chambers and could have optional twin Stromberg carburettors, a £25 extra, which increased the output from 125 to 150 bhp giving a top speed in excess of 100 mph. The front suspension was independent coil springs with a rigid axle and leaf springs at the rear. The body was available as a four- or six-light (two or three windows on each side) at the same cost and with either a bench or individual front seats. The seats were finished in leather, with the dashboard and door-cappings in walnut veneer. A heater was standard. It was introduced with the choice of a Wilson electrically-controlled finger-tip four-speed pre-selector gearbox as a £30 option, or four-speed synchromesh gearbox. It became available with a Rolls-Royce four speed automatic transmission with the introduction of the Mark II in 1954. A long-wheelbase model was launched in 1955 as a limousine version which had the pre-selector gearbox as standard, however, there was an optional four-speed manual column-change gearbox available. 7,697 of the 346s were produced. Next to appear were the cheaper Sapphire 234 and 236 cars. They were identical in appearance but sold with different engines having different performance characteristics. The 234 could be purchased with wire wheels as an optional extra. The 234 was produced from 1955 to 1958 and used a four-cylinder 2,290 cc version of the 346 engine. The transmission was a manual four-speed gearbox with optional overdrive. It was a genuine 100 mph car intended for the man who liked high performance, and 803 of them were produced. The 236 was made between 1955 and 1957 and used the six-cylinder 2,310 cc engine previously seen in the Whitley. A conventional manual gearbox was available but many were fitted with a Lockheed Manumatic “clutchless” transmission. Overdrive was an option on either transmission. This car with an 85 mph maximum was intended to be a quiet, flexible, easy-to-drive saloon, and 603 were produced. In 1958, Armstrong-Siddeley showed what would turn out to be their final model, and the car seen here, the Star Sapphire. Little changed externally from the 346, the radiator grille no longer rose to the top of the bonnet, and there were other detailed changes, including concealed door hinges and the fact that the front doors now hinged at their leading edge. The six-cylinder engine was enlarged more than 16% to 3,990 cc with larger twin Stromberg carburettors as standard and power output increased to 165 bhp Perhaps more important was an increase of nearly 30% in torque at 50 mph. Big end and main bearings were now made of lead indium and a vibration damper fitted to the nose of the crankshaft. The compression ratio was raised to 7.5 to 1. The car could now lap the Lindley high speed track at 104 mph. Various suspension modifications had been carried out. Servo-assisted 12″ Girling disc brakes were now installed on the front wheels and Burman recirculating ball power steering was standardised with a turning circle reduced by 4’6″. A BorgWarner type DG automatic gearbox was fitted which incorporated a lever on the fascia to hold intermediate gear at 35, 45, 55, and 65 mph. There was an independent heater for the rear passengers and demisting slots for the rear window. All features were standard, the provision of alternatives being believed to lead to an unsatisfactory compromise. This was a high quality car, intended to rival Daimler, Jaguar and even Rolls Royce products of the era, and indeed the Star Sapphire won the £4,000 four-door coachwork class at the 1958 Earls Court Motor Show ahead of a Princess limousine and a Jaguar Mark IX. When production ceased in 1960, 902 saloons had been made, as well as 77 long-wheelbase cars, 73 of which were built as limousines (including 2 prototypes). The limousine version was made in 1960 only and had a single-carburettor engine and manual gearbox (the automatic gearbox was fitted to 12 examples). The remaining 4 chassis were used for 3 hearses and an ambulance, meaning a total of 980 Star Sapphires were produced.
This very splendid vintage Aston is a 1 1/2 Litre Second Series, Le Mans 2/4 seater. These were made between 1932 and 1934. Aston Martin’s single-overhead-cam engine with a Bore/Stroke of 69.3 mm x 99 mm, had first been seen in the 1927 models, was highly efficient and now had an output of 70 bhp from 1.5 litres, an outstanding development by early 1930s standards. Twin Horizontal SU carburettors were fitted. The aluminium body was mounted on a separate steel chassis which had beam axles front and rear with semi-elliptic leaf springs. 4-Wheel drum brakes, mechanically operated at the rear, and by cable at the front were used. During 1932 the Aston Martin International Le Mans had slowly sold at £650; the 1933 Aston Martin Le Mans model retailed at £595, thereby increasing the chance of the car selling faster. Aston Martin, encouraged by the car’s reception, began to offer alternative wheelbase lengths: 102 or 120 inches and a choice of open two-seater or four-seater bodywork. The cars were long, low and immediately recognisable by their unique radiator style and had great character making all the appropriate mechanical noises that characterised Aston Martin. Aston Martin made the cars exclusive; between 1932 and 1933, only 130 were produced.
Oldest of the Aston Martins in the Owners Club display was this DB6, a model launched in 1965 as a replacement for the DB5 which had run since 1963. The wheelbase was now 4″ longer than before, resulting in an extensive restyle with a more raked windscreen, raised roofline and reshaped rear quarter windows. Opening front quarter lights made a reappearance, but the major change was at the rear where a Kamm tail with spoiler improved the aerodynamics, greatly enhancing stability at high speeds. “The tail lip halves the aerodynamic lift around maximum speed and brings in its train greater headroom and more luggage space”, declared Motor magazine, concluding that the DB6 was one of the finest sports cars it had tested. Famed employee, Tadek Marek, designed the six cylinder engine, which had been enlarged to 3,995cc for the preceding DB5 and remained unchanged. Power output on triple SU carburettors was 282bhp, rising to 325bhp in Vantage specification. Premiered at the 1965 London Motor Show, the DB6 Volante marked the first occasion the evocative ‘Volante’ name had been applied to a soft-top Aston Martin. After 37 Volante convertibles had been completed on the DB5 short wheelbase chassis, the model adopted the longer DB6 chassis in October 1966. A mere 140 DB6 based Volantes were manufactured, and of these only 29 were specified with the more powerful Vantage engine.
Representing the longest lived design in Aston Martin’s history was this V8 Volante. By the mid 1960s, Aston Martin’s customers had been clamouring for an eight-cylinder car, so Aston Martin designed a larger car. The engine was not ready, however, so in 1967 the company released the DBS with the straight-six Vantage engine from the DB6. Two years later, Tadek Marek’s V8 was ready, and Aston released the DBS V8. Though the body and name was shared with the six-cylinder DBS, the V8 sold for much more. The body was a modern reinterpretation of the traditional Aston Martin look, with a squared-off grille and four headlights (though some consider the styling derivative of the early Ford Mustang). Distinguishing features of the V8 model are the larger front air dam and lack of wire wheels, though some six-cylinder DBS cars also used the V8’s alloy wheels. The tail lights were taken from the Hillman Hunter. A road test report of the time noted that the car had gained 250 lb in weight with the fitting of the V8 in place of the previously used six-cylinder unit, despite the manufacturer’s assurance that the engine weighed only 30 lb more than the older straight-six. Other contributions to the weight gain included heavier ventilated brake discs, air conditioning, fatter tyres, a new and stronger ZF gearbox as well as some extra bodywork beneath the front bumper. Marek’s V8 engine displaced 5,340 cc and used Bosch fuel injection. Output was not officially released, but estimates centre around 315 hp. The DBS V8 could hit 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and had a top speed of nearly 160 mph. 402 DBS V8s were built. In April 1972, the DBS V8 became just the Aston Martin V8 as the six-cylinder DBS was dropped, leaving just this car and the six-cylinder Vantage in production. The V8 became known as the AM V8, a model retroactively referred to as the Series 2 V8 to separate it from later models. Visual differences included twin quartz headlights and a mesh grille, a front design which was to last until the end of production in 1989. AM V8 cars, produced from May 1972 through July 1973, used a similar engine to the DBS V8, albeit with Bosch fuel injection rather than the earlier carburettors. Just 288 Series 2 cars were built. Although David Brown had left the company, he had overseen development of this model. The first 34 cars still carried leftover “DBS V8” badging. The car switched back to Weber carburettors for the Series 3 in 1973, ostensibly to help the car pass new stricter emissions standards in California but most likely because Aston Martin was unable to make the Bosch fuel injection system work correctly. These cars are distinguished by a taller bonnet scoop to accommodate four twin-choke (two-barrel) Weber carbs. The car produced 310 hp and could reach 60 mph in 6.1 seconds with an automatic transmission or 5.7 with a manual. Performance suffered with emissions regulations, falling to 288 hp in 1976. The next year, a more powerful “Stage 1” engine with new camshafts and exhaust brought it up to 305 hp. Production of Series 3 cars lasted from 1973 through October 1978, but was halted for all of 1975. 967 examples were produced in this time. While earlier V8 cars have louvers cut into the little panel mounted beneath the rear windshield, the Series 3 and later cars instead have a small lip at the bottom of this panel, just ahead of the leading edge of the bootlid. The “Oscar India” specification was introduced in October 1978 at the Birmingham International Motor Show. Visually, the former scoop on the bonnet gave way to a closed “power bulge”, while a spoiler was integrated into the tail. Most Oscar India cars were equipped with a Chrysler “Torqueflite” three-speed automatic transmission, with wood trim fitted for the first time since the DB2/4 of the 1950s. Just 352 Oscar India models were built from 1978 through 1985. The power of the now de-smogged engines kept dropping on American market cars, down to a low of 245 hp in the early eighties. The convertible “Volante” was introduced in June 1978, but featured the Series 4 bonnet a few months before the coupé received the Oscar India update. The Volante Series 1 weighs 70 kg (155 lb) more than the coupé, due to the necessity of reinforcing the frame. US market cars received much larger bumpers beginning with the 1980 model year, adding weight and somewhat marring the car’s lines. Owners of US-specified cars often modify them to have the slimmer European bumpers. By 1981, the success of the Volante meant that the coupé model was only built on individual demand. The fuel-injected Series 5 cars were introduced in January 1986 at the New York International Auto Show. The compact Weber/Marelli system no longer needed the space of the previous carburettors, so the bonnet bulge was virtually eliminated. 405 Series 5 cars were built before production ceased in 1989. The Volante Series 2 received the same changes; 216 were built.
With the DB7, produced from September 1994 to December 2004, Aston Martin made more cars from a single model than all Astons previously made, with over 7000 built. Known internally as the NPX project, the DB7 was made mostly with resources from Jaguar and had the financial backing of the Ford Motor Company, owner of Aston Martin from 1988 to 2007. The DB7’s platform was an evolution of the Jaguar XJS’s, though with many changes. The styling started life as the still-born Jaguar F type (XJ41 – coupe / XJ42 – convertible) designed by Keith Helfet. Ford cancelled this car and the general design was grafted onto an XJS platform. The styling received modest changes by Ian Callum so that it looked like an Aston Martin. The first generation Jaguar XK-8 also uses an evolution of the XJ-S/DB7 platform and the cars share a family resemblance, though the Aston Martin was significantly more expensive and rare. The prototype was complete by November 1992, and debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in March, 1993, with the car positioned as an “entry-level” model below the hand-built V8 Virage introduced a few years earlier. With production of the Virage (soon rechristened “V8” following Vantage styling revisions) continuing at Newport Pagnell, a new factory was acquired at Bloxham, Oxfordshire that had previously been used to produce the Jaguar XJ220, where every DB7 would be built throughout its production run. The DB7 and its relatives were the only Aston Martins produced in Bloxham and the only ones with a steel unit construction inherited from Jaguar . Aston Martin had traditionally used aluminium for the bodies of their cars, and models introduced after the DB7 use aluminium for the chassis as well as for many major body parts. The convertible Volante version was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in 1996. Both versions have a supercharged straight-six engine that produced 335 bhp and 361 lb·ft of torque. The Works Service provided a special Driving Dynamics package, which greatly enhanced performance and handling for drivers who wanted more than what the standard configuration offered. In 1999, the more powerful DB7 V12 Vantage was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show. Its 5.9 litre, 48-valve, V12 engine produced 420 bhp and 400 lb·ft of torque. It has a compression ratio of 10.3:1. Transmissions were available with either a TREMEC T-56 six speed manual or a ZF 5HP30 five speed automatic gearbox. Aston Martin claimed it had a top speed of either 186 mph with the manual gearbox or 165 mph with the automatic gearbox, and would accelerate from 0–60 mph in 4.9 seconds. It is 4,692 mm long, 1,830 mm (72.0 in) wide, 1,243 mm (48.9 in) high, with a weight of 1,800 kg (3,968.3 lb). After the launch of the Vantage, sales of the supercharged straight-6 engine DB7 had reduced considerably and so production was ended by mid-1999. In 2002, a new variant was launched, named V12 GT or V12 GTA when equipped with an automatic transmission. It was essentially an improved version of the Vantage, its V12 engine producing 435 bhp and 410 lb·ft of torque for the manual GT, although the automatic GTA retained the 420 bhp and 400 lb·ft of torque of the standard DB7 Vantage. Additionally, the GT and GTA chassis had substantially updated suspension from the DB7 Vantage models. Aesthetically, compared to the Vantage it has a mesh front grille, vents in the bonnet, a boot spoiler, an aluminium gear lever, optional carbon fibre trim and new wheels. It also has 14.0 in front and 13.0 in rear vented disc brakes made by Brembo. When being tested by Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear in 2003, he demonstrated the car’s ability to pull away in fourth gear and continue until it hit the rev limiter: the speedometer indicated 135 mph. Production of the GT and GTA was extremely limited, as only 190 GT’s and 112 GTA’s were produced worldwide with 17 of them shipped to the US market, for a total of 302 cars.
Final Aston that I spotted was an example of the still current V8 Vantage.
This late model Audi 100 CS caught my eye on arrival, as it was already parked up. I recalled seeing the car at Cholmondley the previous year, and talking to the owner who had told me that it is one of fewer than 10 of the second generation Audi 100 in the UK, and that as far as is known, all the survivors are 5 cylinder cars. Known as the C2 generation of Audi 100, the model was launched in 1976 and it created a lot of headlines as on offer along with the proven 4 cylinder engines was an in-line five-cylinder unit, which Audi claimed offered “six-cylinder power and four-cylinder economy”. Initially, it had 100 bhp, and this was later upgraded to 136 PS. Unlike the first generation model, there was no Coupe, but Audi did add a second bodystyle with the five-door hatchback model, the 100 Avant, which as launched in August 1977. The mainstay of the range remained the four-door sedan model. A two-door sedan version was offered, primarily on the domestic market, from February 1977, but by now there was little demand for large two-door sedans and thus only a few of these two-door Audi 100 C2s were sold. At the top of the line, the Audi 200 made its appearance at the 1979 Frankfurt Show, with fuel injected five-cylinder engines in either naturally aspirated or turbocharged forms At the end of September 1977, the Audi 100 became the manufacturer’s first model to reach a production level of 1,000,000 units. The millionth Audi 100 was a hatchback Audi 100 Avant assembled not at the company’s main Ingolstadt plant but to the west, at the Neckarsulm factory which, since the demise of the mainstream volume models from the NSU range, had been concentrating on providing additional production capacity for the fast selling Audi range.
Still well-regarded over 35 years since its launch is the Quattro, a legend which transformed rallying and brought the idea of four wheel drive as a performance benefit to the market. The idea for a high-performance four-wheel-drive car was proposed by Audi’s chassis engineer, Jörg Bensinger, in 1977, when he found that the Volkswagen Iltis could outperform any other vehicle in snow, no matter how powerful. Bensinger’s idea was to start developing an Audi 80 variant in co-operation with Walter Treser, Director of Pre-Development.. Following an unveiling on 1st March 1980, Audi released the original Quattro to European customers in late 1980, with the car featuring Audi’s quattro permanent four-wheel drive system (hence its name), and the first to mate four-wheel drive with a turbocharged engine. The original engine was the 2,144 cc in-line-5-cylinder 10 valve SOHC, with a turbocharger and intercooler. It produced 197 bhp propelling the Quattro from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.1 seconds, and reaching a top speed of over 220 km/h (137 mph). The engine was eventually modified to a 2,226 cc inline-5 10 valve, still producing 197 bhp, but with peak torque lower in the rev-range. In 1989, it was then changed to a 2,226 cc inline-5 20v DOHC setup producing 217 bhp, now with a top speed of 230 km/h (143 mph) Audi Quattros are referred to among owners and enthusiasts by their engine codes, to differentiate between the earlier and later versions: the earliest 2144 cc 10v being the “WR” engine, the 2226 cc 10v being the “MB” engine, and the later 20v being the “RR” engine. Hence, Quattro models may be referred to as either the WR Quattro, MB Quattro, and RR or “20v” Quattro, respectively. Quattro car production was 11,452 vehicles over the period 1980–1991,and through this 11 year production span, despite some touch-ups, there were no major changes in the visual design of the vehicle. For the 1983 model year, the dash was switched from an analogue instrument cluster, to a green digital LCD electronic instrument cluster. This was later changed in 1988 to an orange LCD electronic instrument cluster. The interior was redesigned in 1984, and featured a whole new dash layout, new steering wheel design, and new centre console design, the switches around the instrument panel were also redesigned at this time. In 1985 the dash changed slightly with harder foam and lost a diagonal stripe, the dash switches were varied slightly and the diff lock pull knob gave way to a two-position turning knob with volt and oil temp digital readouts. External styling received very little modification during its production run. Originally, the car had a flat fronted grille featuring four separate headlamp lenses, one for each of the low and high beam units. This was altered for the 1983 model year, and replaced with combined units featuring a single lens, but housing twin reflectors. This was changed again, for the 1985 model year, in what has become known as the ‘facelift model’ and included such alterations as a new sloping front grille, headlights, and trim and badging changes. Max speed was 124 mph. The RR 20v Quattro also featured a new three spoke steering wheel design, leather covering for door arm rests, gloveboxes, centre console and door pockets. There was also a full length leather-wrapped centre console running all the way to the rear seats. The 20v was also the first Ur-Q to have “quattro” script interior with partial leather seats. The floor on the drivers side had a bulge due to dual catalytic exhaust setup. The different models may be distinguished by the emblems on their boot lids: the WR had a vinyl ‘quattro’ decal or a brushed aluminium effect plastic emblem, the MB had chrome plated ‘audi’, ‘audi rings’ and ‘quattro’ emblems, whilst the RR had only chrome plated ‘audi rings’. The rear suspension was altered early on with geometry changes and removal of the rear anti-roll bar to reduce a tendency for lift-off oversteer. For the 1984 facelift, the wheel size went from 6×15-inch with 205/60-15 tyres to 8×15-inch wheels with 215/50-15 tyres. At the same time the suspension was lowered 20 mm with slightly stiffer springs for improved handling. For 1987, the Torsen centre differential was used for the first time, replacing the manual centre differential lock. The last original Audi Quattro was produced on 17 May 1991, more than two years after the first models of the new Audi Coupe range (based on the 1986 Audi 80) had been produced.
Many of the components in the Quattro were shared with these cars, the second generation Audi 80. This had been launched in September 1978, as a four door saloon, like its predecessor, and available with a small number of different engines and trims. Deliveries of the fuel injected GLE and two door bodied cars began early in 1979. The body of the B2 Audi 80 was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. No Estate or Avant variant was available, as the Volkswagen Passat filled that role, as the B2 was intended to move the 80 upmarket from the mid-sized family segment to a compact executive model pitched to rival the BMW 3-Series. The corresponding B2 version of the Passat appeared two years later, and although the two cars shared the same platform and running gear as before, the Passat had a much stronger visual identity distinct from its Audi 80 sister in comparison with the B1. The 80 first became available with four-wheel drive in 1983. The model was essentially an Ur-Quattro without the turbocharger and with saloon bodywork. The four-wheel drive 80, however, weighed more than a front-wheel drive Audi 100 CD with the same 2144 cc 136 PS engine, and with its worse aerodynamics it was slower than the larger, better equipped, and lower-priced 100. The 80 quattro received twin headlamps, a front spoiler with integrated foglights, and a body-coloured rubber spoiler on the rear. There was also a “quattro” script on the bootlid and a twin exhaust. The luggage compartment was marginally smaller. The 80 quattro was a bargain compared to the Ur-Quattro, but less so in comparison with the two-wheel drive 80 GTE or the 100 CD, although they did not offer the impressive road holding that the quattros do. In 1983, the 80 Sport was introduced in the UK, based on the GTE. It came with quattro-style Ronal alloys, rubber rear spoiler, deep chin spoiler, striped charcoal Recaro interior, and optional body graphics including full-length “Audi Sport” stripes. In mid-1984, Audi gave the B2 a subtle facelift with tail lights resembling the ones of the Typ 44 Audi 100, and different front and rear bumpers and headlights and an updated interior, and introduced the 90 nameplate for the 5 cylinder cars, pushing them still further up-market. The 1.6- and 1.8-litre 4 cylinder engines were replaced by newer iterations of the same, enabling the fitment of catalytic converters. The saloons were offered until late 1986 in Europe, and the B2-based Audi Coupé lasted through to 1988 before being changed. Seen here were both the pre- and post-facelift cars, both of them rare sightings in the UK these days.
There were three examples of the popular Seven here, and they were each very different. Herbert Austin’s masterpiece which did much to put Britain on wheels in the 1920s was first seen in 1922, as a four seat open tourer. Nicknamed Chummy, the first 100 featured a 696cc four cylinder engine, which was quickly upgraded to the 747cc unit that remained until the end of production some 17 years later. The first cars had an upright edge to the doors and a sloping windscreen, but from 1924, the screen became upright and there was a sloping edge to the doors, as well as a slightly longer body. Stronger brakes came along in 1926, along with a slightly taller nickel-plated radiator grille, conventional coil ignition, a more spacious body and wider doors. An even longer and wider body arrived in 1930, as well as a stronger crankshaft and improvements to the brakes which coupled front and rear systems together so they both worked by the footbrake. In 1931 the body was restyled , with a thin ribbon-style radiator and by 1932 there was a four speed gearbox to replace the earlier three-speeder. 1933 saw the introduction of the Ruby, a car that looked more modern with its cowled radiator. There were also Pearl and Opal versions. Development continued, so in 1937 there was a move to crankshaft shell bearings in place of the white metal previously used, and the Big Seven appeared. The last Seven was made in 1939, by which time 290,000 had been produced. Aside from saloons and tourers, there had been vans and sports derivatives like the Le Mans, the supercharged Ulster and the rather cheaper Nippy. Around 11,000 Sevens survive today, and seen here were a Van, a Nippy and a late model open Tourer.
The only other Austin that I captured on camera was an A40 Somerset. A rival to the Morris Oxford and Hillman Minx in the early 1950s, it was launched in 1952, as a replacement for the A40 Devon and Dorset. Only made until 1954, it looked bigger than its predecessor, though that was largely an illusion of the new appearance which was somewhat “Transatlantic” in style with flowing lines, intended to increase the car’s appeal to export markets. The Somerset bore a close resemblance with the larger Austin A70 Hereford, and telling the two apart at glance is no easier than some of today’s cars where people think that the same styling went under the “reduce” or “enlarge” buttons! The Somerset shared a number of components with its earlier sibling which included a similar 1.2 litre straight-4 pushrod B series engine, but updated to produce 42 hp, compared to the Devon’s 40 hp, giving the car a top speed of 69 mph. Stopping it was done with hydraulic brakes. The Austin A40 Somerset’s reputation for being somewhat slow and lumbering to drive is not wholly deserved. The vehicle had to endure poor quality petrol supplies and in consequence had retarded ignition settings to tolerate the low octane rating of this poor fuel grade to avoid the ‘pinking’ condition that was well known in those times. In fact BMC later produced a kit to improve the performance and fuel consumption of these cars once premium fuel supplies resumed under the popular petrol brands. This kit comprised a replacement distributor and an optional head gasket for the cylinder head that was thinner and therefore raised the compression slightly from the standard 7.2:1. An Autocar magazine road test published 18 April 1952 achieved a maximum of 66 mph and a 0-60 mph acceleration of 36.6 seconds whereas the example registered new in February 1954 and given a Used Car Test published in the Autocar series dated 8 April 1960 returned a 0-60 mph time of just 27.9 seconds. The standing quarter mile was down from 24.4 secs to 23.2 secs a marked improvement on the former result taken in 1952 and directly comparable with the Mini 850 launched in 1959, that was considered to be fairly brisk then. There were two close fitting front seats which could be arranged as a bench seat, with space freed up by virtue of the four speed column mounted gear change. The Somerset was initially offered only as a 4-door saloon, with a 3-passenger 2-door convertible, of the same body shape, introduced in late 1952. The body for the convertible was made by Carbodies of Coventry and the model was marketed as the Austin A40 Somerset Coupé. The convertible differed from the saloon in having separate front seats that folded forward to give access to the rear. The Austin Motor Company in 1953 made a “special” version of around 500 Somerset saloons with a more powerful engine, different interior appointments and two-tone paintwork. The Austin Somerset Special had a top speed of 74 mph. Over 173,000 were sold before the Somerset was replaced by the A40 Cambridge in 1954. 7243 of them were convertibles.
There were a couple of 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.
This CA-based model was serving up coffees and was really rather splendid. The CA was a distinctive pug-nosed light commercial vehicle produced between 1952 and 1969, manufactured in short-wheelbase and long-wheelbase forms, each form available in either a 10–12 cwt or a 15 cwt version. Generally it was supplied as a light delivery van with sliding doors, but it was also available as a chassis with cowl upon which specialist bodywork could be added. The Bedford Dormobile was a Campervan conversion based on the Bedford CA van. In its day, the vehicle was ubiquitous; the Ford Transit of its time. These vehicles were built from very thin sheet steel and rusted badly, meaning that they are now rare.
There was a very varied assembly of Bentley models here. Oldest of them was a 3 litre Oldest of the models present were a number of the 3 and 4.5 litre cars that were produced in the 1920s and which epitomise the classic Bentley to many people. The 3 Litre was the company’s first model, first shown in 1919 and made available to customers’ coachbuilders from 1921 to 1929. It was conceived for racing. The Bentley was very much larger than the 1368 cc Bugattis that dominated racing at the time, but double the size of engine and strength compensated for the extra weight. The 4000 lb (1800 kg) car won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1924, with drivers John Duff and Frank Clement, and again in 1927, this time in Super Sports form, with drivers S. C. H. “Sammy” Davis and Dudley Benjafield. Its weight, size, and speed prompted Ettore Bugatti to call it “the fastest lorry in the world.” The 3 Litre was delivered as a running chassis to the coachbuilder of the buyer’s choice. Bentley referred many customers to their near neighbour Vanden Plas for bodies. Dealers might order a short cost-saving run of identical bodies to their own distinctive design. Most bodies took the simplest and cheapest form, tourers, but as it was all “custom” coachwork there was plenty of variation. The 2,996 cc straight-4 engine was designed by ex-Royal Flying Corps engineer Clive Gallop and was technically very advanced for its time. It was one of the first production car engines with 4 valves per cylinder, dry-sump lubrication and an overhead camshaft. The four valve SOHC Hemi design, with a bevel-geared shaft drive for the camshaft, was based on the pre-war 1914 Mercedes Daimler M93654 racing engine. Just before the outbreak of the war Mercedes had placed one of the winning Grand Prix cars in their London showroom in Long Acre. At the suggestion of W.O. Bentley, then being commissioned in the Royal Naval Air Service, the vehicle was confiscated in 1915 by the British army, dismantled at Rolls-Royce and subjected to scrutiny. A notable difference to both the Mercedes and the aero engines was the cast-iron monobloc design, and the fully Aluminium enclosed camshaft, which greatly contributed to its durability. But having the valve-head and block in one-piece made for a complicated and labour intensive casting and machining. This was a feature shared during that time by the Bugattis which the car was later to compete with. The engine was also among the first with two spark plugs per cylinder, pent-roof combustion chambers, and twin carburettors. It was extremely undersquare, optimised for low-end torque, with a bore of 80 mm (3.1 in) and a stroke of 149 mm (5.9 in). Untuned power output was around 70 hp, allowing the 3 Litre to reach 80 mph. he Speed Model could reach 90 mph; the Super Sports could exceed 100 mph. A four-speed gearbox was fitted. Only the rear wheels had brakes until 1924, when four-wheel brakes were introduced. There were three main variants of the 3 litre and they became known by the colours commonly used on the radiator badge. There was a definite rule controlling badge colours but astonishingly it has since been established that given “special circumstances” the factory would indeed supply a “wrong” colour. Blue label was the standard model with 117.5 in wheelbase from 1921 to 1929 or long 130.0 in wheelbase from 1923 to 1929. The Red label used a 5.3:1 high compression engine in the 117.5 in wheelbase chassis and was made from 1924 to 1929. The Green label was made between 1924 and 1929 and was the high performance model with 6.3:1 compression ratio and short 108 in wheelbase chassis. 100 mph performance was guaranteed. As well as 3 Experimental cars, Bentley produced 1088 examples of the 3 litre, and the Speed Model numbered 513 and there were 18 Super Sports.
Also present here was what are sometimes referred to as the “Derby” Bentley. These were produced after the acquisition of Bentley by Rolls-Royce, in 1934, at which point the focus of the brand shifted to the production of large and elegant tourers. The cars retained the famous curved radiator shape based on earlier Bentley models, but in all meaningful respects they were clearly Rolls-Royces. Although disappointing some traditional customers, they were well received by many others and even W.O. Bentley himself was reported as saying that he would “rather own this Bentley than any other car produced under that name.” The Rolls-Royce Engineer in charge of the development project, Ernest Hives (later Lord Hives), underlined the Rolls-Royce modus operandi in a memo addressed to company staff “our recommendation is that we should make the car as good as we know how and then charge accordingly.” At a time when the Ford 8 could be purchased new for £100, an early Bentley 3½ Litre cost around £1,500 (equivalent to £6400 vs. £96,000 today), putting it beyond the reach of all but the wealthiest consumers. Despite not being a car of remarkable outright performance, the car’s unique blend of style and grace proved popular with the inter-war elite and it was advertised under the legend the silent sports car. Over 70% of the cars built between 1933 and 1939 were said to have still been in existence 70 years later. Although chassis production ceased in 1939, a number of cars were still being bodied and delivered during 1940. The last few were delivered and first registered in 1941. The 3.5 litre came first. Based on an experimental Rolls-Royce project “Peregrine” which was to have had a supercharged 2¾ litre engine, the 3½ Litre was finally fitted with a less adventurous engine developed from Rolls’ straight-6 fitted to the Rolls-Royce 20/25. The Bentley variant featured a higher compression ratio, sportier camshaft profile and two SU carburettors on a crossflow cylinder head. Actual power output was roughly 110 bhp at 4500 rpm, allowing the car to reach 90 mph. The engine displaced 3669 cc with a 3¼ in (82.5 mm) bore and 4½ in (114.3 mm) stroke. A 4-speed manual transmission with synchromesh on 3rd and 4th, 4-wheel leaf spring suspension, and 4-wheel servo-assisted mechanical brakes were all common with other Rolls-Royce models. The chassis was manufactured from nickel steel, and featured a “double-dropped” layout to gain vertical space for the axles and thus keep the profiles of the cars low. The strong chassis needed no diagonal cross-bracing, and was very light in comparison to the chassis built by its contemporary competitors, weighing in at 2,510 pounds (1,140 kg) in driveable form ready for delivery to the customer’s chosen coachbuilder. 1177 of the 3½ Litre cars were built, with about half of them being bodied by Park Ward, with the remainder “dressed” by other coachbuilders like Barker, Carlton, Freestone & Webb, Gurney Nutting, Hooper, Mann Egerton, Mulliner (both Arthur and H J), Rippon, Thrupp & Maberly, James Young, Vanden Plas and Windovers in England; Figoni et Falaschi, Kellner, Saoutchik and Vanvooren in Paris; and smaller concerns elsewhere in UK and Europe. Beginning in March, 1936, a 4¼ Litre version of the car was offered as replacement for the 3½ Litre, in order to offset the increasing weight of coachwork and maintain the car’s sporting image in the face of stiff competition. The engine was bored to 3½ in (88.9 mm) for a total of 4257cc. From 1938 the MR and MX series cars featured Marles steering and an overdrive gearbox. The model was replaced in 1939 by the MkV, but some cars were still finished and delivered during 1940-1941. 1234 4¼ Litre cars were built, with Park Ward remaining the most popular coachbuilder. Many cars were bodied in steel rather than the previous, more expensive, aluminium over ash frame construction.
From the post-war period, there were a couple of examples of the Mark VI and similar R Type, one a saloon and the other with a drophead body. The Mark VI was announced in May 1946, and produced from 1946 to 1952 it was also both the first car from Rolls-Royce with all-steel coachwork and the first complete car assembled and finished at their factory. These very expensive cars were a genuine success, long-term their weakness lay in the inferior steels forced on them by government’s post-war controls. The chassis continued to be supplied to independent coachbuilders. Four-door Saloon, two-door saloon and drophead coupe models with bodies by external companies were listed by Bentley along with the Bentley-bodied saloon. This shorter wheelbase chassis and engine was a variant of the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith of 1946 and, with the same standard steel body and a larger boot became the cautiously introduced Silver Dawn of 1949. The same extended-boot modification was made to the Mark VI body in 1952 and the result became known as the R type Bentley.
A close relative of the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, the S Type was first revealed in April 1955. It represented a complete redesign of the standard production car, the R Type. It was a more generously sized five- or six-seater saloon with the body manufactured in pressed steel with stressed skin construction, with the doors, bonnet and boot lid made of aluminium. The external appearance was very different, although the car still had the traditional radiator grille. Compared to the outgoing R Type, the new model had a three inch longer wheelbase, was lower of build without reducing headroom and with an enlarged luggage boot, softer suspension with electrically operated control of rear dampers, lighter steering and improved braking. The engine, still a clear descendants of the one originally used in the Rolls-Royce Twenty from 1922 to 1929, had its capacity increased to 4887cc, and a four-speed automatic gearbox was standard, with the ability to select individual ratios if desired, which was enough to give the Bentley a top speed of just over 100 mph and 0 – 60 acceleration times of around 13 seconds. Standard and from 1957, long wheelbase saloons were offered and some were sent to the coachbuilders for alternative bodies to be fitted. An upgrade in 1959, creating the S2, saw the installation of a new V8 engine, and in 1962, the S3 cars gained four round headlights. 3072 S Types were made, 145 of them with coachbuilt bodies as well as 35 of the long wheelbase cars, before the model was replaced by the new T Type in 1965. Seen here was an early S Type with the standard factory body.
Although the Turbo models claimed the limelight of the 1980s and 1990s, the lesser versions of the car sold well, too. Several different version of what started out simply as the Mulsanne, a badge-engineered version of the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit were offered. The Eight was Bentley’s “entry-level” offering from 1984 until 1992. Distinguished mainly by a wire-mesh grille radiator instead of vertical slats, the Eight also had somewhat less equipment than the similar Mulsanne on which it was based. This brought the introductory price to under the psychologically important £50,000 mark at the time of introduction, £6,000 less than the Mulsannne. A firmer suspension offered slight handling improvements. The Eight was so popular that sales expanded from the original UK market to Europe and the United States. The Eight was introduced with cloth upholstery, steel wheels, and a mesh grille that was simpler than the slatted grille of the Mulsanne. Fuel injection and anti-lock brakes were added in 1986, leather upholstery and power memory seats were added in 1987, and automatic ride height adjustment was added in 1990. In Britain, catalytic converters became optional in 1990 – although they had been available long before in markets where such were required. The three-speed automatic transmission was replaced by a four-speed transmission in August 1992. The Bentley Brooklands was introduced in 1992 as a replacement for the Bentley Mulsanne S and Bentley Eight models. It was intended as a slightly cheaper alternative to the Bentley Turbo R, featuring the same styling, underpinnings and the Rolls-Royce 6.75-litre V8 engine, but without the more powerful model’s turbocharger. The Brooklands continued Bentley’s relatively angular design theme, which was also used on contemporary Rolls-Royce vehicles, throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. The exterior design featured the classic Bentley waterfall grille as well as dual headlights with wraparound parking lights. As in many Bentley and Rolls-Royce vehicles, the Brooklands also featured the trademark descending bootlid and chrome B-pillars. The interior remained relatively unchanged from previous Bentley models, with more curvaceous design elements surrounding the leather-wrapped centre console. The steering wheel and interior door panels remained largely unchanged; the major change arrived in the form of relocating the gear selector to the centre console – for decades the standard practice among R-R and Bentley models utilised a steering column mounted selector. The interior continued to be surrounded by ample woodgrain which featured engraved, lighter-coloured outlines on the door panels.
I’ve seen this diminutive little British Berkeley here a couple of times now. It is a Berkeley B95. The B95 and B105 models were launched at the 1959 Geneva Motor Show and boasted more power from twin-cylinder Royal Enfield 692 cc four-stroke engines, with the 40 bhp Super Meteor engine in the B95 and the 50 bhp Constellation unit in the B105 which could reputedly exceed the magic 100 mph. The engines featured Berkeley-design primary chain cases to accommodate a Lucas Bendix starter motor, an external Lucas dynamo mounted above the gearbox, and a duplex (or double-row) chain drive to the differential. Kerb weight increased to 402 kg (886 lb). B95 engine numbers have the unique prefix ‘SMTB’, while B105 engines are prefixed ‘SMUA’. The prototype car was SE492 chassis number 638, which was modified to add bracing to withstand the extra power and weight of the four-stroke engine, a taller bonnet with large grille to accommodate the engine, and unfaired headlights. In mid-February 1959 this car spent two weeks at the Royal Enfield factory, during which time it covered 500 miles of general road use and 1,000 mi of endurance testing at MIRA. By the time of the press release announcing the launch of the B95 in March 1959, a further 2,500 miles of road and track tests had also been carried out by Berkeley factory drivers. Perhaps to address the reputation for breaking down that the two-strokes had developed, especially in export markets, it was emphasised by the factory that during this testing there had been no involuntary stops or any form of mechanical failure, and that further testing would be performed until a total of 15,000 miles had been completed. At its launch, the B95 cost £659. Chassis numbers followed on from the SE492 series, and chassis number 670 (the earliest known B95) was registered at the end of March 1959. The first B105, chassis number 686, was delivered about one month later. Series production continued to chassis number 835. A separate batch of about 12 cars (chassis numbers 850 to 861) appear to have been made for Mantles Garage in the summer of 1960, which used some chassis parts and the bucket seats of the T60. About 178 B95 and B105 models were made in total, of which approximately 15 to 20 cars were sold to export markets.
BMW and ALPINA
As has been the case at the previous Scrambles I’ve attended, the BMW Car Club turn up in significant numbers, with a big display of BMW and Alpina models. A few of them are simply regular models from the current range, but most of them are older and would count at least as what the Germans call “youngtimers” if not even Classics. The oldest of the cars on show was a pre-war Frazer-Nash BMW 326. Produced between 1936 and 1941, and again briefly, under Soviet control, after 1945, the 326 was BMW’s first four-door sedan. It had an innovative design and sold well despite its relatively high price. Designed by Fritz Fiedler, the 326 featured a box-section frame that could readily be adapted for derivative models. Also innovative were the torsion bar rear suspension, inspired by the dead axle suspension of the Citroën Traction Avant, and the hydraulic braking system, the first to be used on a BMW car. Styled by Peter Schimanowski, the 326 was offered as a four-door sedan and as a two- or four-door cabriolet. The 326 sedan was the first BMW available with four doors. The BMW 320, BMW 321, BMW 327, and BMW 335 were based on the 326. The streamlined form of the body contrasted with previous relatively upright BMWs: drag was presumably reduced further by including a fixed cover over the spare wheel at the back. The 1971 cc straight 6 engine was a version of the 319’s power plant, with the bore increased from 65 mm to 66 mm, and an unchanged stroke of 96 mm giving a displacement of 1,971 cc. In the 326 application, it was fed by twin 26 mm Solex carburetors to produce a claimed maximum output of 50 PS. The top speed is 115 km/h The four-speed gear box was supported by freewheeling on the bottom ratios and synchromesh on the top two. The 326 was introduced at the Berlin Motor Show in February 1936 and was offered for sale from May of that year. By the time production was suspended in 1941, the Eisenach plant had produced 15,949 of them.
Oldest of the post-war BMW models here were a couple of “02” Series cars, one of which was separate from the main BMW Car Club Display. The 1600-2, as the first “02 Series” BMW was designated, was an entry-level BMW, and was smaller, less expensive, and less well-appointed than the New Class Sedan on which it was based. BMW’s design director Wilhelm Hofmeister assigned the two-door project to staff designers Georg Bertram and Manfred Rennen. The 9.1 in shorter length and wheelbase and lighter weight of the two-door sedan made it more suitable than the original New Class sedan for sporting applications. As a result, the two door sedan became the basis of the sporting 02 Series. The 1600-2 (the “-2” meaning “2-door”) made its debut at the Geneva Show in March 1966 and was sold until 1975, with the designation being simplified to “1602” in 1971. The 1.6 litre M10 engine produced 84 hp at 5,700 rpm and 96 lb·ft. A high performance version, the 1600 TI, was introduced in September 1967. With a compression ratio of 9.5:1 and the dual Solex PHH side-draft carburettor system from the 1800 TI, the 1600 TI produced 110 hp at 6,000 rpm. Also introduced in September 1967 was a limited-production cabriolet, which would be produced by Baur from 1967 through 1971. A hatchback 1600 Touring model was introduced in 1971 but was discontinued in 1972. It was what came next which was more significant. Helmut Werner Bönsch, BMW’s director of product planning, and Alex von Falkenhausen, designer of the M10 engine, each had a two litre engine installed in a 1600-2 for their respective personal use. When they realised they had both made the same modification to their own cars, they prepared a joint proposal to BMW’s board to manufacture a two litre version of the 1600-2. At the same time, American importer Max Hoffman was asking BMW for a sporting version of the 02 series that could be sold in the United States. As per the larger coupe and 4-door saloon models, the 2.0 engine was sold in two states of tune: the base single-carburettor 2002 producing 101 hp and the dual-carburettor high compression 2002 ti producing 119 hp.In 1971, the Baur cabriolet was switched from the 1.6 litre engine to the 2.0 litre engine to become the 2002 cabriolet, the Touring hatchback version of the 02 Series became available with all engine sizes available in the 02 Series at the time and the 2002 tii was introduced as the replacement for the 2002 ti. The 2002 tii used the fuel-injected 130 hp engine from the 2000 tii, which resulted in a top speed of 185 km/h (115 mph). A 2002 tii Touring model was available throughout the run of the tii engine and the Touring body, both of which ended production in 1974. The 2002 Turbo was launched at the 1973 Frankfurt Motor Show. This was BMW’s first turbocharged production car and the first turbocharged car since General Motors’ brief offerings in the early 1960s. It produced 170 hp. The 2002 Turbo used the 2002 tii engine with a KKK turbocharger and a compression ratio of 6.9:1 in order to prevent engine knocking. Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection was used, with a sliding throttle plate instead of the usual throttle butterfly. The 2002 Turbo was introduced just before the 1973 oil crisis, therefore only 1,672 were built. The 1802 was introduced in 1971 and was available with either the original 2-door sedan body or the 3-door Touring hatchback introduced that year. Production of the Touring model continued until 1974, with the 1802 sedan ending production the following year. The 1502, an economy model with an engine displacement of 1573 cc was introduced in 1975. This engine had a lower compression ratio of 8.0:1, therefore standard-octane petrol could be used. While the rest of the 02 Series was replaced in 1975 by the E21 3 Series, the 1502 was continued until 1977. The cars seen here were both 2002 models, the yellow one was a late model car with the square rear lights.
It was nice to see a couple of E28 M5 cars ere, the first model to bear the now legendary name. This M5 made its debut at Amsterdam Motor Show in February 1984. It was the product of demand for an automobile with the carrying capacity of a saloon, but the overall appearance of a sports car. It utilised the 535xi chassis and an evolution of the bodykit from the M535i. At its launch, the E28 M5 was the fastest production sedan in the world. The first generation M5 was hand-built in Preussenstrasse/Munich prior to the 1986 Motorsport factory summer vacation. Thereafter, M5 production was moved to Daimlerstrasse in Garching where the remainder were built by hand. Production of the M5 continued until November 1988, well after production of the E28 chassis ended in Germany in December 1987. The M5 was produced in four different versions based on intended export locations. These were the left-hand drive Euro spec, the right-hand drive UK spec, the LHD North American spec for the United States and Canada, and the RHD South African spec. The European and South African M5s used the M88/3 engine which produced 286 PS. North American 1988 models used the S38B35 engine which was equipped with a catalytic converter and produced 256 hp. With a total production of 2,191 units, the E28 M5 remains among the rarest regular production BMW Motorsport cars – after the BMW M1 (456 units), BMW E34 M5 Touring (891 units), and the BMW 850CSi (1510 units).
Also from the E28 generation was this 525e, an economy optimised version of the regular 5 Series that was launched in 1983, and which found very limited success.
Oldest of the legendary M cars was tis fabulous E30 M3 Evo. Produced initially purely as a homologation special, the car achieved far greater levels of interest than ever imagined, and the rest, as they say, is history. Based on the 1986 model year E30 3 Series, the car was initially available with the 2 door body and was later offered as a convertible bodies. The E30 M3 used the BMW S14 engine. The first iteration of the road car engine produced 195 PS with a catalytic converter and 200 PS without a catalytic converter in September 1989 power was increased to 215 PS with a catalytic converter. The “Evolution” model (also called “EVO2”) produced 220 PS. Other Evolution model changes included larger wheels (16 X 7.5 inches), thinner rear and side window glass, a lighter bootlid, a deeper front splitter and additional rear spoiler. Later the “Sport Evolution” model production run of 600 (sometimes referred as “EVO3”) increased engine displacement to 2.5 litres and produced 238 PS. Sport Evolution models have enlarged front bumper openings and an adjustable multi-position front splitter and rear wing. Brake cooling ducts were installed in place of front foglights. An additional 786 convertibles were also produced. The E30 M3 differed from the rest of the E30 line-up in many other ways. Although using the same basic unit-body shell as the standard E30, the M3 was equipped with 12 different and unique body panels for the purposes of improving aerodynamics, as well as “box flared” wheel-arches in the front and rear to accommodate a wider track with wider and taller wheels and tyres. The only exterior body panels the standard model 3 Series and the M3 shared were the bonnet, roof panel, sunroof, and door panels. The E30 M3 differed from the standard E30 by having a 5×120 wheel bolt pattern. The E30 M3 had increased caster angle through major front suspension changes. The M3 had specific solid rubber offset control arm bushings. It used aluminium control arms and the front strut tubes were changed to a design similar (bolt on kingpins and swaybar mounted to strut tube) to the E28 5 Series. This included carrying over the 5 series front wheel bearings and brake caliper bolt spacing. The rear suspension was a carry over from the E30. The E30 M3 had special front and rear brake calipers and rotors. It also has a special brake master cylinder. The E30 M3 had one of two Getrag 265 5-speed gearboxes. US models received an overdrive transmission while European models were outfitted with a dogleg version, with first gear being down and to the left, and fifth gear being a direct 1:1 ratio. Rear differentials installed included a 4.10:1 final-drive ratio for US models. European versions were equipped with a 3.15:1 final drive ratio. All versions were clutch-type limited-slip differentials with 25% lockup. To keep the car competitive in racing following year-to-year homologation rules changes, homologation specials were produced. These include the Evo 1, Evo 2, and Sport Evolution, some of which featured less weight, improved aerodynamics, taller front wheel arches (Sport Evolution; to further facilitate 18-inch wheels in DTM), brake ducting, and more power. Other limited-production models (based on evolution models but featuring special paintwork and/or unique interior schemes commemorating championship wins) include the Europa, Ravaglia, Cecotto, and Europameister. Production of the original E30 M3 ended in early 1992.
There were a number of other, later generation M3 models here as well, such as the E46 Coupe.
The first car to bear the 6 Series nomenclature was the E24, which was launched in 1976, as a replacement for the E9 model 3.0 CS and CSL coupés first produced in 1965. The 3.0 CS was almost changed by adding a few centimeters in height to make it easier for customers to get into the car. However, Bob Lutz rebelled against the decision and rough drafted an alternative version that soon became the 6 series. Production started in March 1976 with two models: the 630 CS and 633 CSi. Originally the bodies were manufactured by Karmann, but production was later taken in-house to BMW. In July 1978 a more powerful variant, the 635 CSi, was introduced that featured as standard a special close-ratio 5-speed gearbox and a single piece black rear spoiler. The bigger bore and shorter stroke facilitated max 218 hp at 5200rpm and a better torque curve. For the first year, the 635 CSi was offered in three colours (Polaris, Henna Red, Graphite), and could also be spotted by the front air dam that did not have attached fog lights. These simple cosmetic changes reportedly worked to reduce uplift on the car at high speeds by almost 15% over the non-spoiler body shape. This early model shared suspension components with the inaugural BMW 5-series, the E12. In 1979 the carburettor 630 CS was replaced with the 628 CSi with its fuel injected 2.8 litre engine taken from the BMW 528i. In 1980 the 635 CSi gained the central locking system that is also controlled from the boot. Also, the E24 body style converted from L-jetronic injection to a Bosch Motronic DME. In 1982 (Europe) and 1983 (US), the E24 changed slightly in appearance, with an improved interior and slightly modified exterior. At the same time, the 635 CSi received a new engine, a slightly smaller-bored and longer-stroked 3430 cc six to replace the former 3453 cc engine and became available with a wide-ratio 5-speed manual or an automatic. This slight change was in fact a major change as pre-1982 cars were based on the E12 5-series chassis; after mid-1982, E24s shared the improved E28 5-series chassis. The only parts that remained the same were some of the exterior body panels. E24s produced after June 1987 came with new, ellipsoid headlamps which projects beam more directly onto road surface (newly introduced E32 7-series also sporting them). The sleeker European bumpers were also discontinued. Previous cars had either a European-standard bumper or a larger, reinforced bumper to meet the US standard requiring bumpers to withstand impact at 5 mph without damage to safety-related components. 1989 was the last year for the E24 with production stopping in April. The E24 was supplanted by the considerably heavier, more complex, and more exclusive 8 Series. BMW Motorsport introduced the M 635 CSi in Europe at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1983. It is essentially an E24 powered by the powerplant of the BMW M1 – the M88 with 286 PS). Most of the cars were equipped with special metric 415 mm diameter wheels requiring Michelin TRX tyres. A catalysed, lower compression ratio version of the car with the S38 engine (260 PS ) was introduced in the U.S. in 1987. All M6 cars came standard with a 25% rear limited slip differential. U.S. models included additional comforts that were usually optional on models sold in Europe such as Nappa leather power seats and a dedicated rear A/C unit with a centre beverage chiller. 4,088 M635CSi cars were built between 1983 and 1988 with 1,767 U.S. M6 built. Seen here was a rather nice M635 CSi.
Representing the E31 8 Series, a car which found less favour than everyone expected when it was new, as this 840Ci. While it did supplant the original E24 based 6 Series in 1991, a common misconception is that the 8 Series was developed as a successor. It was actually an entirely new class aimed at a different market, however, with a substantially higher price and better performance than the 6 series. Design of the 8 Series began in 1984, with the final design phase and production development starting in 1986. The 8 Series debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) in early September 1989. The 8 Series was designed to move beyond the market of the original 6 Series. The 8 Series had substantially improved performance, however, as well as a far higher purchase price. Over 1.5 billion Deutsche Mark was spent on total development. BMW used CAD tools, still unusual at the time, to design the car’s all-new body. Combined with wind tunnel testing, the resulting car had a drag coefficient of 0.29, a major improvement from the previous BMW M6/635CSi’s 0.39. The 8 Series supercar offered the first V-12 engine mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox on a road car. It was the first car to feature CAN bus—a form of multiplex wiring for cars that is now an industry standard. It was also one of the first vehicles to be fitted with an electronic drive-by-wire throttle. The 8 Series was one of BMW’s first cars, together with the Z1, to use a multi-link rear axle. While CAD modelling allowed the car’s unibody to be 8 lb (3 kg) lighter than that of its predecessor, the car was significantly heavier when completed due to the large engine and added luxury items—a source of criticism from those who wanted BMW to concentrate on the driving experience. Some of the car’s weight may have been due to its pillarless “hardtop” body style, which lacked a “B” post. Sales of the 8 Series were affected by the global recession of the early 1990s, the Persian Gulf War, and energy price spikes. As a result, plans for the M8 supercar were dropped in 1991. A cheaper 8 cylinder 840CI joined the range in 1993 in an effort to boost sales, and to an extent it, did but this was still not enough and BMW pulled the 8 Series from the North American market in 1997, having sold only 7,232 cars over seven years. BMW continued production for Europe until 1999. The ultimate worldwide production total was 31,062.
Final BMW of note was a Z4 Coupe.
There were a number of Alpina models here, too. Three of the ones I photographed were based on the 3 Series of three consecutive generations. Oldest was an E36-based Cabrio.
Next up was a B3 3.3 version of the E46 3 Series. This was launched in saloon form at the 199 Geneva Show, with the coupe following at Frankfurt later in the year., the Touring at Geneva in 2000 and finally a convertible at the 2000 Birmingham Show It had an engine which was based on that of the US spec M3 unit. but enlarged with longer bore and stroke, as well as a different cylinder head and lighter pistons, giving it an output of 280 bhp. A six speed Getrag manual box was standard with a five speed Switchtronic unit an option. The suspension was uprated with stiffer dampers. Outside the changes were subtle with larger spoilers front and rear the only clue if the customer opted not to have the marque’s distinctive pin-striping. Inside there were the usual Alpina touches including sports seats in Alpina stitched leather and bespoke instruments. In 2002, Alpina updated the car to the 3.3S, with a more powerful 305 bhp of the same engine. Most of these cars were based on the post-facelift E46.
Third of the trio was from the next generation, the E92 Coupe. The first of the E9x generation of 3 series-based Alpina models was actually the D3, only the second diesel powered Alpina model, and based on the 320d. It was presented at the 2005 IAA in Frankfurt and over the ensuing months, additional body styles were added. The petrol powered B3 came in 2007, based on the 335i. starting again with a saloon launched at the Geneva Show that year with the other bodystyles following during the year. The N54 engine from the regular 335d (itself a turbo unit) was given the Alpina treatment to up the power to 360 bhp.It was only ever available coupled of a 6 speed ZF switchtronic gearbox. The usual Alpina sort of changes to the exterior (larger spoilers front and rear and quad exhaust pipes) and inside were applied. In 2010 the model was replaced by the B3S, which increased power to 400 bhp, larger due to more effective cooling and ducting, the rest of the car remaining as before.
Next up was an E39-based B10 3.3S. The B10 was launched at the March 1997 Geneva Show, and ran for just 2 years before being replaced by a more potent 3.3 litre version. It had an engine based on BMW’s 6 cylinder 2.8 litre unit, but enlarged to 3.2 litres, with lightweight Mahle pistons, modified cylinder head and combustion chamber, and a revised Siemens engine management system, all of which combined to give it an output of 260 bhp, making it almost as fast as the BMW 540i of the day. a car whose price it undercut. It was only offered with a 5 speed manual gearbox. Other Alpina changes included revised suspension, and the usual Alpina touches to the inside, A Touring version was also available. The later 3.3 model had 280 bhp from a 3.3 litre engine and the option of a Switchtronic automatic gearbox. There were also 340 bhp V8 and with the D10, diesel power E39-based models offered.
The Alpina version of the F01 7 Series, called the B7, was launched at the 2009 Geneva Show. with a long wheelbase version following later that year at the Tokyo Show, and an all-wheel drive version at the 2010 Geneva Show. Motive power for this model was a version of the twin turbo 4.4 litre V8 unit as used in the 750i and not the supercharged engine which had been used in the Alpina versions of the previous generation of E65 and E60 5 Series and 6 Series E 63 cars. With modified Garrett turbos, and other changes, this was enough for the engine in this car to put out 507 bhp, enough to give it a 0 – 60 times of 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 280 km/h. A Switch-tronic automatic gearbox was fitted. The front of the rides 15mm lower and the rear 10mm lower than the standard model. Inside there are many Alpina touches, including sports seats in Alpina stitched leather, and bespoke instruments with blue backgrounds and red pointers. Outside, the changes are also fairly subtle.
There was just one Bristol that I saw here, and it was an example of the first car to bear the Bristol name, the 400. 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 rather splendid machines dates from 1955
The Caterham story is one of continual development, a four decade process of honing Colin Chapman’s original design, which is now 60 years old. Since 1973, when Graham Nearn’s Caterham cars took over the rights and manufacture of the fly-weight sportscars, it’s grown more power, better engines, more sophistication in both suspension and powertrains, as well – in some cases – as more space inside and certainly more creature comforts, all while preserving the original character. Caterham completed 42 of the heavier and not that well thought of Series 4 cars before deciding to concentrate on the classic Series 3 design, with a simple space frame chassis clothed in aluminium and glassfibre. At the time of the S3, the power unit was from Ford, with the Crossflow unit developing 84 bhp in GT form with a twin choke carburettor, though twin Webers were never far away. Sevens had started out with Ford side valve power, before the 948cc BMC A Series unit found its way into the car, followed by Ford’s new 1340cc and 1498cc engines, before the head redesign put the intake and the exhaust on opposite sides. When Ford discontinued the Kent engine in 1976, it caused something of a difficulty for Caterham, as this also meant the end of the Twin Cam and the BDR engines, of which Caterham had bought 500 in preceding years, and whilst the final pushrod engines came from South Africa, eventually the supply ran out and a new supplier was needed. At first the firm turned to Vauxhall’s 2 litre unit for the higher powered cars but when the found out that Rover were developing a new and sophisticated twin cam engine, which turned out to be the K Series unit, a deal was struck and the first K Series engined Caterhams appeared in 1991, once the multi-point injection version was available (the single point would have required a bonnet bulge which Caterham did not want). To get round the relative lack of torque, Caterham developed their own close ratio 6 speed gearbox which was lighter than the Ford unit they had been using, and which could cope with larger capacity and more powerful K Series units as Rover made them available. Caterham continued to develop the car throughout the 90s, starting to make their own steering racks among other changes. By the time the K Series and the 240 bhp Vauxhall engines in the HPC car came along, the interior had become plusher with a long cockpit option and a wider variant, the SV. There were now proper bucket seats instead of those with a plywood backrest and in 1996 the handbrake moved from under the dash to the transmission tunnel. This required extra tubing in the chassis, which made it 80% stiffer. The front suspension had gained a proper top wishbone and separate anti-roll bar, but the biggest change came with the adoption of de Dion rear suspension. The move was occasioned by a need to keep the rear wheels linked and parallel to each other, yet still as simple as possible, though the engineers harboured a desire for a fully independent rear end, which finally came about with the CSR version in 2004. This change improved the ride massively on bumpy roads and makes the car feel more planted. The collapse of Rover in 2005 meant the end for the K Series, so there was a switch back to Ford power, using the Sigma engine, which happily fits under the bonnet – something that few modern engines do as they are now often simply too tall. Adding more power is a law of diminishing returns with a Caterham, thanks to the aerodynamics, though there are now an array of different power outputs offered, but the most recent change was a new entry level model, which uses a 660cc Suzuki turbo triple, with a live axle and a similar power to weight ratio to the classic single carb Ford powered models of 30 years ago. However, these days you can get carpets, leather seats and full weather gear if you upgrade to an S pack. Caterham plan to continue to develop the car for as long as they can. To date they have built around 16,000 examples, and it is said that were you to gather 100 models together, you would not find two the same, even though, colour apart, many cars look very similar at a quick glance. The one seen here is a very recent car, produced as a limited edition car to mark the 60th anniversary of the Lotus Seven, with a “back to basics” look to it.
More instantly recognisable was this 1957 Corvette, from the first generation of the long-lived sports car. The first Corvette was introduced late in the 1953 model year. Originally designed as a show car for the 1953 Motorama display at the New York Auto Show, it generated enough interest to induce GM to make a production version to sell to the public. First production was on June 30, 1953.This generation was often referred to as the “solid-axle” models (the independent rear suspension was not introduced until the second generation).Three hundred hand-built polo white Corvette convertibles were produced for the 1953 model year. The 1954 model year vehicles could be ordered in Pennant Blue, Sportsman Red, Black, or Polo White. 3,640 were built, and sold slowly. The 1955 model offered a 265 cu in (4.34 litre) V8 engine as an option. With a large inventory of unsold 1954 models, GM limited production to 700 for 1955. With the new V8, the 0-60 mph time improved by 1.5 seconds. A new body was introduced for the 1956 model featuring a new “face” and side coves; the taillamp fins were also gone. An optional fuel injection system was made available in the middle of the 1957 model year. It was one of the first mass-produced engines in history to reach 1 bhp per cubic inch (16.4 cc) and Chevrolet’s advertising agency used a “one hp per cubic inch” slogan for advertising the 283 bhp 283 cu in (4.64 litre) Small-Block engine. Other options included power windows (1956), hydraulically operated power convertible top (1956), heavy duty brakes and suspension (1957), and four speed manual transmission (late 1957). Delco Radio transistorised signal-seeking “hybrid” car radio, which used both vacuum tubes and transistors in its radio’s circuitry (1956 option). The 1958 Corvette received a body and interior freshening which included a longer front end with quad headlamps, bumper exiting exhaust tips, a new steering wheel, and a dashboard with all gauges mounted directly in front of the driver. Exclusive to the 1958 model were bonnet louvres and twin trunk spears. The 1959–60 model years had few changes except a decreased amount of body chrome and more powerful engine offerings. In 1961, the rear of the car was completely redesigned with the addition of a “duck tail” with four round lights. The light treatment would continue for all following model year Corvettes until 2014. In 1962, the Chevrolet 283 cu in (4.64 litre) Small-Block was enlarged to 327 cu in (5.36 litre). In standard form it produced 250 bhp. For an extra 12% over list price, the fuel-injected version produced 360 bhp, making it the fastest of the C1 generation. 1962 was also the last year for the wrap around windshield, solid rear axle, and convertible-only body style. The boot lid and exposed headlamps did not reappear for many decades. An all-new C2 generation model was launched for 1963.
An unusual sighting in the UK, this is a 1964 Chrysler Valiant, not an American model but one made a sold by Chrysler Australia between 1962 and 1981. Initially a rebadged locally assembled Plymouth Valiant from the United States, from the second generation launched in 1963, the Valiant was fully manufactured in Australia. It was sold locally but also in New Zealand and South Africa, with smaller numbers also exported to South-East Asia and the United Kingdom. Parent company Chrysler made a substantial investment in Australian manufacturing facilities, by establishing operations in South Australia with an assembly plant at Tonsley Park in 1964 and an engine foundry at Lonsdale in 1968. The Valiant thus established its position as the third of the “Big 3” Australian-made vehicles behind the Holden Kingswood and Ford Falcon. The Australian Valiant was built on the North American A-body platform but with many parts and components from Australian suppliers. Apart from a sedan and wagon body style, 1965 saw the introduction of a commercial utility that was badged the Wayfarer and later exported to South Africa as the Rustler. In September 1969 the two-door Hardtop was released and in 1971 the Charger. Greater differentiation from the donor car crept in over time, particularly since the VE series, which was embraced by the Australian motoring press and won the 1967 Wheels magazine Car of the Year award. The VF series of 1969 and the VG of 1970 departed even further from its North American donor both in terms of styling and performance—with the latter series introducing the Hemi-6 engine that replaced the Slant-6. Moreover, Australia continued to produce a station wagon model, called the Safari, even after this body style being discontinued for North America. Beginning in 1971, the VH series saw Chrysler Australia develop the entire lineup locally until the CM series of 1979, which marked the end of local production in 1981.
1934 saw the introduction of the Citroen’s revolutionary and mould-shattering front-wheel-drive semi-monocoque Citroën Traction Avant. The Traction endured a troubled and prolonged birth process, however, and was part of an ambitious investment programme which involved, also in 1934, the bankruptcy of the business, and its acquisition by Citroën’s principal creditor. The patron himself died in 1935. In this troubled situation, availability of the larger Rosalies (although re-engined with a turned-around version of the new Traction’s OHV four-cylinder engines) continued till 1938: it is only through the distorting prism of subsequent events that its reputation has been diminished when set against the technical brilliance of its successor. There were three examples of the Traction Avant here. Produced for over 20 years, many different versions were made during that time, all with the same styling outline, but with power outputs ranging from 7 to 15CV, and different wheelbases, as well as some with Coupe and Convertible body styles. There was even one model with a large opening tailgate, the Commerciale.
Despite the fact that 2,315,739 BXs were built during its 12-year production run, and the car sold well in the UK, these are getting increasingly scarce, so it was nice to see one here, a very rare 4×4, which the owner, a real enthusiast for the model. has recently sourced, he told me. The rather angular hatchback was designed by Marcello Gandini of Bertone, based on his unused design for the British 1977 Reliant FW11 concept and his 1979 Volvo Tundra concept car. It was the second car to benefit from the merger of Peugeot and Citroën in 1976, the first being the Citroën Visa launched in 1978. The BX shared its platform with the more conventional 405 that appeared in 1987, except the rear suspension which is from a Peugeot 305 Break. Among the features that set the car apart from the competition was the traditional Citroën hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension, extensive use of plastic body panels (bonnet, tailgate, bumpers), and front and rear disc brakes. The BX dispensed with the air cooled, flat four engine which powered the GS, and replaced it with the new PSA group XY, TU and XU series of petrol engines in 1360 cc, 1580 cc and, from 1984, 1905 cc displacements. In some countries, a weaker, 80 PS version of the 1580cc engine was badged as the BX15E instead of BX16. A 1124 cc engine, in the 11TE, very unusual in a car of this size, was also available in countries where car tax was a direct function of engine capacity, such as Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Greece. The 11TE model was seen by foreign motoring press as slow and uncomfortable. It was fitted to the cars made from 1988 to 1993 and produced 55 hp. The 1.1 and 1.4 models used the PSA X engine (known widely as the “Douvrin” or “Suitcase Engine”), the product of an earlier Peugeot/Renault joint venture, and already fitted in the Peugeot 104 and Renault 14. The 1.6 version was the first car to use the all-new short-stroke XU-series engine. It was produced in a new engine plant at Trémery built specifically for this purpose, and was later introduced in a larger 1.9-litre version and saw long service in a variety of Peugeots and Citroëns. The XUD diesel engine version was launched in November 1983. The diesel and turbo diesel models were to become the most successful variants, they were especially popular as estates and became the best selling diesel car in Britain in the late 1980s. Despite being launched on the continent in the autumn of 1982, it wasn’t launched onto the British market until August 1983, initially only with 1.4 and 1.6 petrol engines, although further engine options and the estate model would arrive later, and it would go onto become one of the most popular foreign-built cars here during the second half of the 1980s. A year after the launch of the hatchback model, an estate version was made available. In 1984 power steering became optional, welcome particularly in the diesel models. In the late 1980s, a four-wheel drive system and turbodiesel engines were introduced. In 1986 the MK2 BX was launched. The interior and dashboard was redesigned to be more conventional-looking than the original, which used Citroën’s idiosyncratic “satellite” switchgear, and “bathroom scale” speedometer. These were replaced with more conventional stalks for light and wipers and analogue instruments. The earlier GT (and Sport) models already had a “normal” speedometer and tachometer. The exterior was also slightly updated, with new more rounded bumpers, flared wheelarches to accept wider tyres, new and improved mirrors and the front indicators replaced with larger clear ones which fitted flush with the headlights. The elderly Douvrin engine was replaced by the newer TU-series engine on the 1.4 litre models, although it continued to be installed in the tiny BX11 until 1992. 1988 saw the launch of the BX Turbo Diesel, which was praised by the motoring press. The BX diesel was already a strong seller, but the Turbo model brought new levels of refinement and performance to the diesel market, which brought an end to the common notion that diesel cars were slow and noisy. Diesel Car magazine said of the BX “We can think of no other car currently on sale in the UK that comes anywhere near approaching the BX Turbo’s combination of performance, accommodation and economy”.In 1989, the BX range had further minor revisions and specification improvements made to it, including smoked rear lamp units, new wheeltrims and interior fabrics. Winning many Towcar of the Year awards, the BX was renowned as a tow car (as was its larger sister, the CX), especially the diesel models, due to their power and economy combined with the self levelling suspension. The biggest problem of the BX was its variable build quality, compared to its competition. In 1983, one quarter of the production needed “touchups” before they could be shipped, though later models were more solid. The last BX was sold around 1994, by which time its successors had already been launched. It had been partially replaced by the smaller ZX in early 1991, but its key replacement was the slightly larger Xantia that went on sale at the beginning of 1993. The BX was launched onto the right-hand drive UK market in August 1983, initially only with 1.4 and 1.6 petrol engines, although by 1986 it had been joined by more engine options as well as a five-door estate model. The BX enjoyed a four-year run as the UK’s best selling diesel engine car from 1987, and was consistently among the most popular imported cars.
With only 100 examples to be made, and only a small number delivered to date, the chances of seeing a David Brown Speedback GT on the road are pretty slim,. but there was one here, road registered. Revealed in 2014, the Speedback GT is the first product from David Brown Automotive, whose founder has nothing to do with the former Aston chief whose initials still adorn that company’s sports cars. It’s actually based on the discontinued Jaguar XK and powered by its 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine. Only it’s completely rebodied by hand with styling reminiscent of the old Aston DB5. Updated for 2017, the Speedback GT is now further refined, but no less exclusive. Each example is made to order, and priced at £495,000 before taxes. Details of the latest enhancements remain scarce, but among them are some new wheel options. Each of the two examples on display feature “further refinements in design and engineering, including examples of unique bespoke features, as well as colour & trim personalisation.” According to the manufacturer, “the 2017 model year Speedback GT… has undergone a wide-range of significant engineering and design developments.” This niche automaker announced its move from its current base in Coventry to new headquarters at the Silverstone circuit. Set to open in May, the 18,000-square-foot facility is located right opposite the entrance to the track.
One of the louder cars at the event was this Pantera. Designed by American Tom Tjaarda, and unlike the Mangusta, which employed a steel backbone chassis, the Pantera was a steel monocoque design, the first instance of De Tomaso using this construction technique. The Pantera logo included a version of Argentina’s flag turned on its side with a T-shaped symbol that was the brand used by De Tomaso’s Argentinian cattle ranching ancestors. The car made its public debut in Modena in March 1970 and was presented at the 1970 New York Motor Show a few weeks later. Approximately a year later the first production Panteras were sold, and production was increased to three per day. The curious slat-backed seats which had attracted comment at the New York Show were replaced by more conventional body-hugging sports-car seats in the production cars: leg-room was generous but the pedals were off-set and headroom was insufficient for drivers above approximately 6 ft. Reflecting its makers’ transatlantic ambitions, the Pantera came with an abundance of standard features which appeared exotic in Europe, such as electric windows, air conditioning and even “doors that buzz when … open”. By the time the Pantera reached production, the interior was in most respects well sorted, although resting an arm on the central console could lead to inadvertently activating the poorly located cigarette lighter. The first 1971 Panteras were powered by a Ford 351 cu in (5.8 litre) V8 engine that produced a severely underrated 330 hp. Stock dynos over the years proved that power was more along the lines of about 380 hp. The high torque provided by the Ford engine reduced the need for excessive gear changing at low speeds: this made the car much less demanding to drive in urban conditions than many of the locally built competitor products. The ZF transaxle used in the Mangusta was also used for the Pantera: a passenger in an early Pantera recorded that the mechanical noises emanating from the transaxle were more intrusive than the well restrained engine noise. Power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes and rack and pinion steering were all standard equipment on the Pantera. The 1971 Pantera could accelerate to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. In the summer of 1971, a visitor to the De Tomaso plant at Modena identified two different types of Pantera awaiting shipment, being respectively the European and American versions. From outside, the principal differences were the larger tail lamps on the cars destined for America, along with addition of corner marker lamps. The visitor was impressed by the large number of cars awaiting shipment; but in reality, spending the best part of a year under dust covers in a series of large hangars probably did nothing for the cash-flow of the business or the condition of some of the cars by the time they crossed the Atlantic. Late in 1971, Ford began importing Panteras for the American market to be sold through its Lincoln Mercury dealers. The first 75 cars were simply European imports and are known for their “push-button” door handles and hand-built Carrozzeria Vignale bodies. A total of 1,007 Panteras reached the United States that first year. These cars were poorly built, and several Panteras broke down during testing on Ford’s test track. Early crash testing at UCLA showed that safety cage engineering was not very well understood in the 1970s. Rust-proofing was minimal on these early cars, and the quality of fit and finish was poor, with large amounts of body solder being used to cover body panel flaws. Notably, Elvis Presley once fired a gun at his Pantera after it would not start. An L model (“Lusso”) was added in 1972 and a GTS version in 1974, but it was not enough and Ford ended their importation to the US in 1975, having sold around 5,500 cars. De Tomaso continued to build the car in ever-escalating forms of performance and luxury for almost two decades for sale in the rest of the world. A small number of Panteras were imported to the US by grey market importers in the 1980s, notably Panteramerica and AmeriSport. After 1974, Ford US discontinued the Cleveland 351 engine, but production continued in Australia until 1982. De Tomaso started sourcing their V8s from Australia once the American supplies dried up. These engines were tuned in Switzerland and were available with a range of outputs up to 360 PS. The chassis was completely revised in 1980, beginning with chassis number 9000. From May 1980 the lineup included the GT5, which had bonded and riveted-on fibreglass wheelarch extensions and from November 1984 the GT5S model which had blended arches and a distinctive wide-body look. The GT5 also incorporated better brakes, a more luxurious interior, much larger wheels and tires and the fibreglass body kit also included an air dam and side skirts. Production of the wide body GT5 (and similarly equipped narrow body GTS models) continued until 1985, when the GT5-S replaced the GT5. Although the factory has not made its records available, an analysis based on Vehicle Identification Numbers by the Pantera Owners Club of America (POCA) late model (9000 series) registrar has shown that fewer than 252 GT5 Panteras were likely to have been built. The GT5-S featured single piece flared steel fenders instead of the GT5’s riveted-on fibreglass flares, and a smaller steel front air dam. The ‘S’ in the GT5-S name stood for “steel”. Otherwise the GT5-S was largely identical to the GT5. The POCA 9000 series registrar’s VIN analysis indicates that fewer than 183 GT5-S Panteras were built. Concurrent GTS production continued, on a custom order and very limited basis, until the late 1980s. The car continued to use a Ford V8 engine, although in 1988, when the supply of Ford 351 Cleveland engines from Australia ran out, De Tomaso began installing Ford 351 Windsor engines in the Pantera instead. For 1990 the 351 was changed to the Ford 302 cu in (4942 cc, commonly called a “5.0”). Incorporating a Marcello Gandini facelift, suspension redesign, partial chassis redesign and the new, smaller engine, the Pantera 90 Si model was introduced in 1990. Only 38 90 Si models were sold before the Pantera was finally phased out in 1993 to make way for the radical, carbon-fibre-bodied Guarà. Some say 41 were built (with the last one not finished until 1996), of which four were targa models. The targas were converted by Pavesi directly off the production lines. In all, about 7,200 Panteras were built. The car here was from the later production, with the much wider body and extended wheelarches.
There had been an Edsel Villager at this event back in April, which was one of the rarer cars of the day, as there are very few of these models in the UK. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that were two Edsel models here this time. The Edsel was technically a separate marque that was planned, developed, and manufactured by the Ford Motor Company for model years 1958–1960. With the Edsel, Ford had expected to make significant inroads into the market share of both General Motors and Chrysler and close the gap between itself and GM in the domestic American automotive market. Ford invested heavily in a yearlong teaser campaign leading consumers to believe that the Edsel was the car of the future – an expectation it failed to deliver. After it was unveiled to the public, it was considered to be unattractive, overpriced, and overhyped. The Edsel never gained popularity with contemporary American car buyers and sold poorly. The Ford Motor Company lost $250 million on the Edsel’s development, manufacturing, and marketing and the very name “Edsel” became a popular symbol for a commercial failure. The Ford Motor Company had become a publicly traded corporation on January 17, 1956, and thus was no longer entirely owned by members of the Ford family. The company was now able to sell cars according to current market trends. Ford’s new management compared the company’s roster of makes with that of General Motors and Chrysler, and concluded that Lincoln was competing not with Cadillac, but with Oldsmobile, Buick and DeSoto. Ford developed a plan to move Lincoln upmarket, with the Continental broken out as a separate make at the top of Ford’s product line, and to add a premium/intermediate vehicle to the intermediate slot vacated by Lincoln. Marketing research and development for the new intermediate line had begun in 1955 under the code name “E car”,which stood for “experimental car.” Ford Motor Company eventually decided on the name “Edsel”, in honour of Edsel B. Ford, son of the company’s founder, Henry Ford (despite objections from Henry Ford II). The proposed vehicle marque would represent the start-up of a new division of the firm alongside that of Ford itself and the Lincoln-Mercury division, whose cars at the time shared the same bodies. The Edsel was introduced amid considerable publicity on “E Day”—September 4, 1957. It was also promoted by a top-rated television special, The Edsel Show, on October 13, but the promotional effort was not enough to counter the adverse initial public reaction to the car’s styling and conventional build. The day after its launch, the Edsel was described as a “reborn LaSalle,” a brand that had disappeared in 1940. For months, Ford had been telling the industry press that it “knew” (through its market research) that there would be great demand for the vehicle. Ford also insisted that, in the Edsel, it had built exactly the “entirely new kind of car” that Ford had been leading the buying public to expect through its pre-introduction publicity campaign for the car. In reality, however, the Edsel shared its engineering and bodywork with other Ford models, and the similarities were apparent once the vehicle was viewed first-hand. The Edsel was to be sold through a newly formed division of the Ford Motor Company, as a companion to the Ford Division, Mercury Division, Lincoln Division and (newly formed but also short-lived) Continental Division. Each division had its own retail organization and dealer network. The free-standing Edsel Division existed from November 1956 until January 1958, after which Edsel sales and marketing operations were integrated into the Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln division. Initially Edsel was sold through a new network of approximately 1,187 dealers. This briefly brought the total number of dealers of all Ford products to 10,000. Ford saw this as a way to come closer to parity with Chrysler, which had 10,000 dealers, and General Motors, which had 16,000. As soon as it became apparent that the Edsels were not selling, many of these dealers added Lincoln-Mercury, Ford of Britain, or Ford of Germany franchises to their dealerships with the encouragement of Ford Motor Company. Some dealers, however, closed For the 1958 model year, Ford produced four submodels of Edsel: The larger Mercury-based Citation and Corsair, and the smaller Ford-based Pacer and Ranger. The Citation was offered in two-door and four-door hardtop and two-door convertible versions. The Corsair was available in two-door and four-door hardtop versions. The Pacer was available as a two-door or four-door hardtop, four-door sedan, or two-door convertible. The Ranger was sold in two-door and four-door hardtop or sedan versions. The four-door Bermuda and Villager wagons and the two-door Roundup wagon were based on the 116-inch wheelbase Ford station wagon platform and shared the trim and features of the Ranger and Pacer models. The Edsel offers several of what were then considered innovative features, among which are its rolling-dome speedometer; warning lights for such conditions as low oil level, parking brake engaged, and engine overheating; and its push-button Teletouch transmission shifting system in the centre of the steering wheel (a conventional column-shift automatic was also available at a reduced price). Other Edsel design innovations include ergonomically designed controls for the driver and self-adjusting brakes (which Ford claimed for the Edsel as a first for the industry, even though Studebaker had pioneered them earlier in the decade). The Edsel also offers such features, advanced for the time, as seat belts (which were available at extra cost as optional equipment on many other makes) and child-proof rear door locks that could only be opened with the key. In the first year, 63,110 Edsels were sold in the United States, and 4,935 were sold in Canada. Though below expectations, this nevertheless represented the second-largest launch for any new car brand to date, exceeded only by the DeSoto introduction in 1929. For the 1959 model year, the Edsel brand fielded only two series, the Ford-based Ranger and Corsair. The larger Mercury-based Edsels were discontinued. Replacing the Pacer as the top-line Ford-based Edsel, the new Corsair was offered as a two-door and four-door hardtop, four-door sedan, and two-door convertible. The Ranger was sold as a two-door and four-door hardtop, two-door and four-door sedan, and the Villager station wagon. In the 1959 model year, 44,891 Edsels were sold in the U.S., and 2,505 were sold in Canada. For the 1960 model year, Edsel’s last, only 2,846 vehicles were produced. All but the pilot cars were assembled at the Louisville, Kentucky assembly plant. The marque was reduced to the Ranger series of sedans, hardtops, convertibles, and the Villager station wagons. The Edsel shared a basic chassis, glass, and major sheet metal with the 1960 Ford Galaxie and Fairlane models that were built on the Louisville assembly line with it. But the Edsel has its own unique grille, bonnet, and four upright oblong taillights, along with its side-sweep spears. The Edsel’s front and rear bumpers were also unique. The 1960 Edsel rides on a 120-inch wheelbase, compared to the concurrent Ford’s 119-inch span, and it also uses a different rear suspension. The cars did, however, share engines and transmissions. Ford announced the end of the Edsel program on Thursday, November 19, 1959. However, production continued until late in November, with the final tally of 2,846 model year 1960 cars. Total Edsel sales were approximately 116,000, less than half the company’s projected break-even point. The company lost $350 million, or the equivalent of $2,900,000,000 in 2017 dollars, on the venture. Only 118,287 Edsels were built, including 7,440 produced in Ontario, Canada. By U.S. auto industry standards, these production figures were dismal, particularly when spread across a run of three model years. Historians have advanced several theories in an effort to explain the Edsel’s failure. Popular culture often faults the car’s styling. Consumer Reports has alleged that poor workmanship was the Edsel’s chief problem. Marketing experts hold the Edsel up as a supreme example of the corporate culture’s failure to understand American consumers. Business analysts cite the weak internal support for the product inside Ford’s executive offices. According to author and Edsel scholar Jan Deutsch, the Edsel was “the wrong car at the wrong time.”
Fafnir was a German engine and vehicle manufacturer based in Aachen. They made a range of cars between 1908 and 1926. The company was founded in 1894 producing needles. With the growth of the bicycle industry, they started to make wheel spokes. In 1898, the company was registered as “Carl Schwanemeyer, Aachener Stahlwarenfabrik AG”. From 1902 the name “Fafnir” started to be used on the company’s products, including a range of motorcycle engines. In 1904, the company started to produce kits, consisting of an engine and associated components, to allow others, particularly bicycle makers, to enter into motor vehicle production. These were sold under the name “Omnimobil”. The kit at first was based around a two-cylinder engine rated at 6 HP with later a larger option with a four-cylinder, 16 HP unit. Beginning in 1908, finished cars were manufactured with the type “274” with a 1520 cc engine and a maximum speed of 60 km/h (37 mph) and the type “284” with 2012cc capable of 70 km/h (43 mph). The engines had overhead inlet and side exhaust valves. By 1912 six different models were available at prices between 4,100 and 16,000 German Reichsmark(RM). In 1919, the company changed its name to Aachener Stahlwarenfabrik Fafnir-AG. The pre war 1924 cc Typ 472 and 2496 cc Typ 384 were re-introduced and a new Typ 471 with 1950 cc engine announced which could be bought with a supercharger. The Typ “471” proved to be the last car model made and survived in production until 1927. Fafnir had its own racing team running up to seven cars with drivers including Rudolf Caracciola. A replica of one of the racing cars has been built in the UK and competed in number of VSCC events fitted with a WW1 Hall-Scott aero engine, which is what is seen here. Fafniir production methods were very labour-intensive, and with the difficult trading conditions of the 1920s failed to compete with the large manufacturers. Prices were reduced, but losses mounted and with debts of 1.8 million RM the banks forced the company into bankruptcy in 1925 with a resulting closure in 1926.
In April there had been a huge Ferrari Owners Club gathering here, but that was not the case this time, with just a couple of Ferrari models that I came across. Older of the pair was a 308 GT4 Dino, a model which was introduced at the Paris Motor Show in 1973. It only gained the “Prancing Horse” badge in May 1976, which replaced the Dino badges on the front, wheels, rear panel and the steering wheel. This has caused major confusion over the years by owners, enthusiasts and judges. During the energy crisis at that time many prospective owners were hesitant to buy such an expensive automobile not badged “Ferrari” being confused at the significance of the Dino name. The GT4 was a groundbreaking model for Ferrari in several ways: it was the first production Ferrari to feature the mid-engined V8 layout that would become the bulk of the company’s business in the succeeding decades, and was the first production Ferrari with Bertone (rather than Pininfarina) designed bodywork. Pininfarina was upset by the decision to give cross-town rival Bertone the design, considering all they had done for Ferrari. The styling featured angular lines entirely different from its curvaceous 2-seater brother, the Dino 246, and was controversial at the time. Some journalists compared it to the Bertone-designed Lancia Stratos and Lamborghini Urraco, also penned by Marcello Gandini. From the cockpit the driver sees only the road. It has perfect 360 degree visibility, no blind spots, upright and comfortable seating position, a real boot, a back seat for soft luggage, and very easy engine access. Enzo Ferrari himself took a major role in its design, even having a mock-up made where he could sit in the car to test different steering, pedals and cockpit seating positioning. The chassis was a tubular spaceframe based on the Dino 246, but was stretched for a 115.2 in wheelbase to make room for the second row of seats. The suspension was fully independent, with double wishbones, anti-roll bars, coaxial telescopic shock absorbers and coil springs on both axles. Niki Lauda helped set up the chassis. The 2927 cc V8 was mounted transversally integrally joined with the 5-speed transaxle gearbox. The engine had an aluminium alloy block and heads, 16-valves and dual overhead camshafts driven by toothed belts; it produced 255 hp in the European version and 240 hp in the American. The induction system used four Weber 40 DCNF carburettors. The GT4 was replaced by the Mondial 8 in 1980 after a production run of 2,826 308s and 840 208s.
Replacement for that car was the Mondial, and an example of this was the other Ferrari present. Produced by Ferrari from 1980 through 1993, it replaced the 208/308 GT4. The “Mondial” name came from Ferrari’s history — the 500 Mondial race car of the early 1950s. Despite its predecessor being Bertone styled, the Mondial saw Ferrari return to Pininfarina for styling. Sold as a mid-sized coupe and, eventually a cabriolet, it was conceived as a ‘usable’ model, offering the practicality of four seats and the performance of a Ferrari. The car had a slightly higher roofline than its stablemates, with a single long door either side, offering easy access and good interior space, reasonable rear legroom while all-round visibility was excellent. The cabriolets also hold the distinction of being the only production automobile in history that has four seats, is rear mid-engined, and is a full convertible. The car body was not built as a monocoque in the same way as a conventional car. The steel outer body produced by the famous Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Scaglietti, in nearby Modena, was built over a lightweight steel box-section space frame. The engine cover and rear luggage compartment lids are in light alloy. The seats and interior were trimmed in Connolly hide, contrasting with the body colour. Most cars were painted rosso red, but some were black or silver, and a few were dark blue. The Mondial was the first Ferrari car where the entire engine/gearbox/rear suspension assembly is on a detachable steel subframe. This design made engine removal for a major rebuild or cylinder head removal much easier than it was on previous models. Unusually, the handbrake is situated between the driver’s seat and the inner sill. Once the handbrake is set it drops down so as, not to impede egress and ingress. Instead of the conventional “H” shift pattern, the gearbox has 1st gear situated in a “dog leg” to the left and back, behind reverse. This pattern, otherwise known as a “reverse h-gate”, allows quicker gear shifts between 2nd and 3rd gear, and also between 4th and 5th. The Mondial underwent many updates throughout production. There were four distinct iterations (8, QV, 3.2, and t), with the latter 3 having two variations each. (coupe and cabriolet). The first car was introduced as the Mondial 8 at the 1980 Geneva Auto Salon. It was the first Ferrari to depart from the company’s simple 3-digit naming scheme, and some reviews found it relatively mild, compared to other Ferraris, regarding performance, drawing criticism from some in the motoring press. It used a mid/rear-mounted Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection V8, shared with the 308 GTBi/GTSi, mounted transversely. The engine used in the 1973 Dino 308 GT4. The K-Jetronic system is mechanical, with a high-pressure pump which streams fuel continuously to the injectors; it does not have a computer, just a few relays to handle the cold start sequence etc. The chassis was also based on the 308 GT4, but with a 3.9 inch longer wheelbase at 104.3 in. The suspension was the classic layout of unequal-length double wishbones and Koni dampers all around. Today, the Mondial 8 is considered one of the marque’s most “practical” vehicles, due to its 214 hp, proven drivetrain, four seats, and relatively low cost of maintenance (major services can be performed without removing the entire engine/transmission subframe). 703 examples were made. The first Mondial engine, although a DOHC design, used just two valves per cylinder. The 1982 Quattrovalvole or QV introduced a new four-valve head; the combustion chamber design purportedly based on the early eighties Formula 1 engine. Again, the engine was shared with the contemporary 308 GTB/GTS QV, and produced a much more respectable 240 hp. Appearance was largely as per the Mondial 8, although with red engine heads and prominent “quattrovalvole” script at the rear. 1,145 coupés built between 1982 and 1985. A new Cabriolet body style added for 1983. Body styling remained the same as the coupé variant, with the roof maintaining the ‘buttress’ design of the roof, though the Cabriolet required the rear seats to be mounted closer together laterally. The introduction of the Cabriolet saw the popularity of the Mondial rise, particularly in the American market, where the convertible body style was highly desirable. The Cabriolet has the added distinction of being the only four-seat, mid-rear engine, convertible automobile ever manufactured in regular production. 629 units were produced between 1983 and 1985, making this the rarest version of the Mondial. Like the Ferrari 328, the Mondial’s engine grew in both bore and stroke to 3,185 cc in 1985. Output was now 270 PS. The Mondial 3.2 was first presented at the 1985 Frankfurt Auto Show in September that year. Available in both Coupé and Cabriolet forms, styling refreshed with restyled and body-coloured bumpers, similar to the 328 with more integrated indicators and driving lamps, and new alloy wheels with a more rounded face. The 3.2 also boasted a major interior update, with a more ergonomic layout and a more rounded instrument binnacle. Later cars, from 1987 onwards, also sported ABS brakes. Fuel injection remained the primarily mechanical Bosch K-Jetronic (CIS) with an O2 sensor in the exhaust providing feedback to a simple computer for mixture trimming via a pulse modulated frequency valve that regulated control fuel pressure. The ignition system was Marelli Microplex, with electronic advance control and one distributor per bank of the V8. The 1988 Mondial 3.2 would be the final model year that retained the relatively low maintenance costs of the 308/328 drivetrain, allowing major service items like timing belt and clutch replacement performed with the engine/transmission package still in the car. The final Mondial evolution was 1989’s Mondial t, which was a substantially changed model. It was visually different from preceding Mondial models, the most recognizable being the redesign of the air intakes to a smaller rectangular shape. Additionally, the door-handles were of a visually different design, as were the front and rear bumpers which became body coloured. New front and rear wings cover wider tracks and are re-profiled to a fuller shape compared to previous models, which feature a rolled lip. The ‘t’ called attention to the car’s new engine/transmission layout: the previously-transverse engine mounted longitudinally while the gearbox remained transverse, thus forming a ‘t’. By adopting this layout, a longer engine could be mounted lower in the chassis, improving handling dramatically. The ‘t’ configuration was used by Ferrari’s Formula One cars of the 1980s, and would be the standard for the marque’s future mid-engined V8 cars, beginning with the 348, introduced later in the year. The transverse manual gearbox fitted with a Limited Slip Differential with a twin-plate clutch design with bevel gears driving the wheels. Later in production, a Semi-automatic transmission termed “Valeo” was available as an option; while shifting was using a traditional gear lever, the clutch was actuated automatically without a clutch pedal. The engine was up to 3405 cc and 300 hp, controlled by Bosch Motronic DME 2.5 (later DME 2.7) electronic engine management that integrated EFI and ignition control into a single computer unit. Two of these used in the car: one for each bank of the engine. Engine lubrication upgraded to a dry-sump system. The Mondial’s chassis would underpin a new generation of 2-seat Ferraris, right up to the 360, but the 2+2 Mondial would end production just four and a half years later in 1993. However, the “t” layout of the engine and transaxle, adapted from Ferrari’s Formula One cars, continues to be used in mid-engined V8 model Ferraris to date, albeit with a more sophisticated chassis. The new layout saw the engine and transmission mounted on a removable subframe; the assembly removed from the underside of the vehicle for maintenance. This process is necessary for timing belt replacement, making this a costly procedure for the owner who does not have a lift. On the other hand, the clutch was now located at the very rear of the drive train. This arrangement makes clutch replacement and service a simple, inexpensive, and readily owner-do-able proposition. The “t” was home to other Ferrari firsts: It used power assisted steering for the first time and had a 3-position electronically controlled suspension for a variable tradeoff between ride quality and road holding. It also had standard ABS. Total production of the t Coupe was 858 (45 Right Hand Drive), and the t Cabriolet of 1,017 (51 Right Hand Drive, meaning that around 6000 Mondial cars were produced over those 13 years, making it one of the most commercially significant Ferraris to date.
Smallest, and oldest Fiat here was an example of the Nuova 500, a model which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2017. Known as project 110, the brief for the Nuova 500 was to create a micro-car that would not only carry on the tradition of the earlier Topolino, but which would also take sales away from the ever popular Lambretta and Vespa scooters of the day. It clearly needed to be smaller than the 600 which had been released with a conventional 4 cylinder engine. Not an easy task, but development started in 1953 and by August 1954, two designs were ready to be shown to Fiat management. They selected one, and serious development began. At first the car was referred to as the 400, as it was going to have a 400cc engine, but it was soon realised that this was just too small, so a larger 500cc air-cooled engine was developed. It was signed off in January 1956, with production starting in March 1957 in advance of a June launch. Fiat’s marketing department got busy, with hundreds of the new car taking to the streets of Turin, each with a pretty girl standing through the open sunroof that was a feature of all the early cars. The press loved it. 50 units were shipped to Britain, where the car made its debut at Brands Hatch, and again the reception was enthusiastic. But the orders just did not come in. Fiat went for a hasty rethink, relaunching the car at the Turin Show later that year. power was increased from 13 to 15 bhp, and the poverty spec was lessened a little, with headlight bezels, brightwork on the side and chrrome hubcaps, a Nuova500 badge on the engine cover, winding side windows (the launch cars just had opening quarterlights) and the option of a heater fan. It was enough to get sales moving. The original car was still offered, at a lower price, called the Economy. In the first year of production, 28,452 Fiat 500s were made. Over the next 19 years, the car changed little in overall appearance, but there were a number of updates with more power and equipment added. A 500 Sport was launched in August 1958, with a more powerful version of the 499cc engine. It lost the soft top, having a ridged steel roof, to increase strength of the body. It was only available in grey with a red side flash. The first major changes came in 1960 with the 500D. This looks very similar to the Nuova, but with two key differences. One is the engine size: the D features an uprated 499 cc engine producing 17 bhp as standard, an engine which would be used right through until the end of the L in 1973; and the other is the roof: the standard D roof does not fold back as far as the roof on the Nuova, though it was also available as the “Transformable” with the same roof as the Nuova. The D still featured “suicide doors”. There were larger rear light clusters, more space in the front boot thanks to a redesign of the fuel tank and new indicators under the headlights. A year later, Fiat added a light on the rear-view mirrors and a windscreen washer, but the car still lacked a fuel gauge. Sales increased from 20,900 in 1960 to 87.000 in 1961, 132,000 in 1962 and by 1964, the last year of production, they hit 194,000 units. The D was replaced in 1965 by the 500F, which finally moved the door hinges from back to the front, owing to changes in Italian safety laws. There was a deeper windscreen and thinner door pillars, which increased the height of the car by 10mm, improving visibility for the driver. The 500F ran through to 1975, from 1968 alongside the more luxurious 500L which was added to the range in 1968. The L is easy to tell apart, with its bumper overriders. The final updates created the 500R, which incorporated many changes from the 126 under the skin of the classic shape, and in this form production continued alongside the newer 126 until 1976. To be seen here was a 500L
This was a rather nice late example of the mid-engined X1/9. This model 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.
Making another appearance here, having been seen at the event earlier in the year was this 1st generation Panda 4×4 in “rally” guise.
It was quite a surprise to find not one, but two of the rare 131 Mirafiori Sporting models here, and these were joined by Jason Hodgkinson’s well-known Series 3 1400CL. Named after the Turin suburb where it was built, the Fiat 131 was a much more conventional car than the innovative 128 and 127 which it joined in the range. The Fiat 131 employed construction techniques and technologies typical of its day. The body was a steel monocoque. Designed and styled on the typical three-box design, with distinct boxes for the engine compartment, passenger compartment, and boot. The major mechanical components were also conventional and contemporary, but with some notable advances. The 131 employed a front engine, rear-wheel drive layout. The engines were all inline-four types, derived from those used in the outgoing 124 range, with a cast iron cylinder block and aluminium alloy cylinder head. Initially the 131 was offered only with pushrod valve gear, which offered the innovation of being the worldwide first engine with OHV valve gear and a belt driven camshaft. Only later in the model’s life came the well known double overhead camshaft (DOHC) engines which used a toothed timing belt. Fuel supply was via a single Weber ADF twin-choke carburettor. Traditional contact breaker ignition systems were used, usually with Marelli distributors. The suspension system utilised fully independent front suspension, with MacPherson struts, track control arms and anti-roll bar. The rear suspension was quite advanced (when using a solid live rear axle), in that the rear axle was controlled by double unequal length trailing arms and a panhard rod, with coil springs and direct acting dampers. This design proved far superior to many of its contemporaries, especially with vehicle stability and handling. The car’s interior offered another worldwide first in having the secondary switches in the dashboard illuminated by a central bulb somewhere in the dashboard and fibre optics from there to the switches. The Fiat 131 Mirafiori was introduced at the 55th Turin Motor Show in late October 1974. The 131 came with a choice of a 1,297 cc or 1,585 cc OHV inline-four engines, both from the engine family first introduced on the Fiat 124. Both engines were fitted with a single twin-choke Weber 32 ADF downdraught carburettor. A four-speed manual transmission was standard, with a 5-speed manual and a 3-speed torque converter automatic optional on the 1600 engine only. The initial range comprised eleven different models. There were three body styles: 2-door saloon, 4-door saloon and Familiare station wagon (Estate on the British market). Station wagons were built by SEAT in Spain, but were labelled Fiats for all non-Spanish markets. Trim levels were two; the entry-level 131 Mirafiori (also known as “Normale” or “Standard”) had single square headlamps, wheels and dished hubcap from the 124, and simplified interior furnishings. Next was the better appointed 131 Mirafiori Special (or simply “S”), which could be distinguished from the base model by its quadruple circular headlamps, specific grille, side rubbing strips, chrome window surrounds, and rubber bumper inserts. Inside it added different instrumentation with triple square dials, a padded adjustable steering wheel, cloth upholstery, and reclining seats. Additionally the more sophisticated options—such as air conditioning, tachometer, limited slip differential and vinyl roof—were exclusive to the Special. Each body style could be combined with either of the engines and trim levels—save for the Special estate which only came with the larger engine. The 131 got a minor facelift in 1978. New DOHC, or “Twin Cam” engines arrived, and these models were badged as Supermirafiori. The biggest change exterior-wise for the Series 2 was larger rectangular shaped front lights, new bumpers, new bigger rear lights and new interior trim including a chunky, single-spoked steering wheel. Later in 1978, the 2-door sporting version Racing (Mirafiori Sport in the UK) with 115 PS twin cam engine, was launched. This car had four round headlights (the inner headlights being smaller than the outer ones, unlike any other Mirafiori model produced), different grille, spoilers and extended wheel arches, and a short-throw 5 speed gearbox. The Racing had top speed of 180 km/h (110 mph). Diesel engined versions also had four round headlights (equally sized), and a noticeable (and characteristic) bump in the hood to accommodate the taller engine. The 131 was updated again in March 1981. Production of the Racing/Sport versions ceased, although these were sold well into 1982. The same 2.0 twin cam engine went to the Supermirafiori. The car received a slightly updated interior (instruments, single-piece glovebox lid), whilst lower rubbing strips found their way onto all models up to CL specification. The Supermirafiori received larger lower door cladding. Mechanically, Mirafiori versions now received overhead cam engines rather than pushrod versions; a new 1.4 litre engine and a revised 1.6 litre. Also new were the clutch and gearboxes, a tweaked suspension was also introduced and the fuel tank increased in size by three litres. In June 1981, a new sport version, the Volumetrico Abarth, was introduced to some markets, with a supercharged version of the familiar 2 litre twin-cam. This car, also known as the 2000 TC Compressore, was built in a small series (about 200 units) and could reach 190 km/h (118 mph).In 1983, the production of saloon version was discontinued, but the estate, now named 131 Maratea, remained in production with two engine choices (115 PS 2.0 TC and 72 PS 2.5 D) until 1985, when they were replaced with the Ritmo-based Regata Weekend. These last versions featured four round headlights and the by-now familiar five-bar grille. In total, 1,513,800 units were produced in Italy.
Continuing on the theme of rare were two of only a handful (less than 10) of the UK’s remaining Tipo Sedicivalvole cars, which it turned out were not owned by the same person, though both owners did say that they do own more than one example each. The Tipo (Type 160 in development speak) was styled by the I.DE.A Institute design house, and produced between 1988 and 1995. The Tipo was initially available only as a five door hatchback. The car was made entirely out of galvanised body panels to avoid rust, and was built on a completely new Fiat platform, which was later used on Fiat, Alfa-Romeo, and Lancia models. It stood out because of its boxy styling that gave it innovative levels of packaging, rear passenger room being greater than that in a rear-wheel-drive Ford Sierra, but in a car that was of a similar size to the smaller Ford Escort. This type of design was comparable to the smaller Fiat Uno, which was launched five years earlier. For 1989, the Tipo won the European Car of the Year award.
Unveiled in January 1988, the Tipo went on sale in Europe during June 1988, and on the right-hand drive UK market from 16 July 1988, initially base (i.e.), DGT, (early Italian market DGT models were badged as ‘digit’, presumably in recognition of the digital dash, but this was quickly changed to DGT after a dispute over ownership of the name, leading to confusion about whether the model was diesel-powered) S, SX and 16v trim levels were available. Power outputs ranged from 57 to 146 bhp, with a engines of 1.1, 1.4, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.8 16v, 2.0, and 2.0 16v litre petrol engines, as well as a 1.7 and 1.9 diesel, and 1.9 turbodiesel, though not all of these were available in all markets. The 1.1 base engine was widely regarded as underpowered for the car, which was otherwise roomy for five adults and with above average equipment. This version was never sold in the UK, which initially received only the 1.4 and 1.6 versions of the Tipo, with the 1.8 and 2.0 petrol engines and the diesel powered units not being imported until the early 1990s. The smaller Uno had been a huge success there during the 1980s (peaking at more than 40,000 sales in 1988) and it was widely expected by both Fiat and by the motoring press that the Tipo would prove similarly successful, not least as the car launched into a favourable market in the UK, where none of the “big three” (Ford, Vauxhall, and Austin Rover) had launched an all new car of this size for at least four years. However, these three marques all had new Tipo sized products within three years, and increased competition reduced the Tipo’s sales. Initially it won plaudits for its innovative and practical design, as well as its good handling. It was originally sold with only 1.4 and 1.6 petrol engines, although the 16 valve 1.8 and 2.0 engines with fuel injection became available in the early 1990s. The digital dashboard of higher end models proved to be controversial and unreliable. The addition of the more powerful models did little to help, even though these were pretty good. The top of the range was the 2.0 Sedicivalvole (16 valves), which took its engine from the Lancia Thema, and with a much smaller and lighter bodyshell to house it, this power unit brought superb performance and handling, and a top speed of around 130 mph (210 km/h), which made it faster than the Volkswagen Golf GTI of that era. Many thought it to be one of the best cars in its class at the time. The Tipo was facelifted in 1993 and a three door version was added, as well as minor exterior changes (the two evolutions of the car can be differentiated by their slightly different radiator grilles and headlamps) and improved specifications; safety features like stiffer bodyshells, driver’s airbag, and side impact bars were added to the range. This included the new S, SX, and SLX trim levels, as well as a new eight valve 2.0 GT model. The Tipo ceased production in the summer of 1995, and was replaced by the three door Fiat Bravo and five-door Fiat Brava.
Joining them was another of the “Tipo Tre” cars, a Tempra SW, a car which belongs to Gavin Bushby, whom I had met at this event back in April when he had brought along a Tempra Saloon which he had just found. The Fiat Tempra (Type 159) was a family car intended as a replacement for the Fiat Regata. The original project was called Tipo 3, being a mid size car between the Fiat Tipo (project Tipo 2) and the bigger Fiat Croma (project Tipo 4). The chassis and some other parts (most notably, the doors) were shared with the Fiat Tipo. Other vehicles, derived from the same project were Lancia Dedra (theTempra’s closest relative, sharing all mechanical components), Lancia Delta second generation, Alfa Romeo 155, Alfa 145 and Alfa 146. The Tempra saloon was shown for the first time in newspapers in November 1989 and introduced at the 1990 Geneva Salon, with the estate version (marketed as the “Tempra SW”) arriving two months later in Turin. The Tempra’s engine range was similar to that of the Tipo. Initially 1.4- and 1.6-litre models had carburettor engines. Both of these models were discontinued in 1992, due to the new European emission standards, and thus all models from 1992 on had catalytic converters and electronic injection. Transmission was a standard five speed manual, but for the first time a midsize sedan was offered as with a continuously variable transmission which was previously available on the Fiat Uno, Panda, Ritmo and Tipo. This, called the “Selecta”, was available only with the 1.6 litre engine with either bodystyle. As of July 1991, the 2.0 litre SX model became available with an optional four speed automatic transmission. Presented at the 1992 Geneva Show, there was a version of the station wagon which offered the two litre engine, combined with permanent four wheel drive. The four wheel drive version had a slight front bias (56/44%). During its six year production run, few changes were made apart from a minor facelift in April 1993, which resulted in a new front grille and other minor styling changes, as well as new equipment levels. Only two trim levels were available in its early years: standard (S) and SX, both reasonably equipped considering the Tempra’s low price. SX models for example, featured power windows, power locks, adjustable belts and steering wheel, front fog lights, body coloured bumpers, velvet upholstery, a futuristic digital dashboard and many other standard extras. They were also available with optional extras like anti-lock brakes, alloy wheels, sunroof, electronic climate control, etc. A facelift in April 1993 featured more trim levels, now ranging from the standard models (“L” in the United Kingdom, where it was only available with 1.4 engine) via the S and SX to the top SLX, which was only available with 1.8, and 2.0 litre engines in the United Kingdom. An optional driver’s airbag was another innovation that year. The four wheel drive Station Wagons continued to be available in some markets such as Switzerland. The car was built in Brazil and Turkey (by Tofas), as well as Italy, and there were local variants available in both of these markets, as well as the popular Marengo commercial version which sold well in Italy. In the UK, the SW outsold the saloon. The Tempra was discontinued in Europe in August 1996, and in Brazil in 1998. It was replaced by the Fiat Marea. There are only a very small number of them left in the UK now.
When I saw this Mark 1 Cortina Convertible, I assumed it was a Crayford, but a chat with the buy standing by it elicited the fact that it is not, and it is even rarer than that, having being produced by SUNI in South Africa. The car has recently arrived in the UK, and is undergoing a complete restoration, which is currently only part way through. I have not been able to find out anything more about the SUNI conversions.
The Mark 2 Escort Sport sat below the performance flagship RS2000 in the range, and combined a 1600cc engine (where regular Escort models mostly had 1100 and 1300cc engines) with some sporty styling touches. It was quite popular when new, but there are few survivors now.
2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the Fiesta going on sale. Britain’s best seller for many years now, several million have been on our roads, but the early ones are largely all but gone. There was one here. Originally developed under the project name “Bobcat” (not to be confused with the subsequent rebadged Mercury variant of the Ford Pinto) and approved for development by Henry Ford II in September 1972, just after the launch of two comparable cars – the Fiat 127 and Renault 5, the Fiesta was an all new car in the supermini segment, and was at the time the smallest car ever made by Ford. Development targets indicated a production cost US$100 less than the current Escort. The car was to have a wheelbase longer than that of the Fiat 127, but with overall length shorter than that of Ford’s Escort. The final proposal was developed by Tom Tjaarda at Ghia. The project was approved for production in late 1973, with Ford’s engineering centres in Cologne and Dunton (Essex) collaborating. Ford estimated that 500,000 Fiestas a year would be produced, and built an all-new factory near Valencia, Spain; a trans-axle factory near Bordeaux, France; factory extensions for the assembly plants in Dagenham, UK. Final assembly also took place in Valencia. The name Fiesta belonged to General Motors, used as a trim level on Oldsmobile estate models, when the car was designed but it was freely given for Ford to use on their new B-class car. After years of speculation by the motoring press about Ford’s new car, it was subject to a succession of carefully crafted press leaks from the end of 1975. A Fiesta was on display at the Le Mans 24 Hour Race in June 1976, and the car went on sale in France and Germany in September 1976; to the frustration of UK dealerships, right hand drive versions only began to appear in January 1977. Its initial competitors in Europe, apart from the Fiat 127 and Renault 5, included the Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Chevette. Chrysler UK were also about to launch the Sunbeam by this stage, and British Leyland was working on a new supermini which was eventually launched as the Austin Metro in 1980. The Fiesta was initially available in Europe with the Valencia 957 cc with high compression and low compression options, and 1,117 cc engines in Base, Popular, L, GL (1978 onward), Ghia and S trim, as well as a van. A sporting derivative, the 1.3 Supersport was offered for the 1980 model year, using the 1.3 litre Kent Crossflow engine, effectively to test the market for the similar XR2 introduced a year later, which featured a 1.6 litre version of the same engine. Black plastic trim was added to the exterior and interior. The small square headlights were replaced with larger circular ones, with the front indicators being moved into the bumper to accommodate the change. With a quoted performance of 0–60 mph in 9.3 seconds and 105 mph top speed, the XR2 hot hatch became a cult car beloved of boy racers throughout the 1980s. Minor revisions appeared across the range in late 1981, with larger bumpers to meet crash worthiness regulations and other small improvements in a bid to maintain showroom appeal ahead of the forthcoming second generation. Rust claimed almost all the original Fiestas, so they are a rare sight today.Ford updated the Fiesta in August 1983 with a revised front end and interior, and a bootlid mirroring the swage lines from the sides of the car. The 1.3 L OHV engine was dropped, being replaced in 1984 by a CVH powerplant of similar capacity, itself superseded by the lean burn 1.4 L two years later. The 957 and 1,117 cc Kent/Valencia engines continued with only slight alterations and for the first time a Fiesta diesel was produced with a 1,600 cc engine adapted from the Escort. The new CTX continuously variable transmission, also fitted in the Fiat Uno, eventually appeared early in 1987 on 1.1 L models only. The second generation Fiesta featured a different dashboard on the lower-series trim levels compared to the more expensive variants. The recently launched XR2 model was thoroughly updated with a larger bodykit. It also featured a 96 bhp 1.6 litre CVH engine as previously seen in the Ford Escort XR3, and five-speed gearbox rather than the four-speed gearbox which had been used on the previous XR2 and on the rest of the Fiesta range. The engine was replaced by a lean-burn variant in 1986 which featured a revised cylinder head and carburettor; it was significantly cleaner from an environmental viewpoint but was slightly less powerful as a result with 95 bhp Seen here was a facelift 1.1L.
Only a couple of years its junior was this facelift version of the Escort RS Turbo. A sporting Escort was announced with the launch of the first front wheel drive 1.1, 1.,3 and 1,6 litre cars in October 1980. This was the XR3, and it came initially with a carb fed 1.6 litre engine generating 105 bhp and had a four speed gearbox. Fuel injection finally arrived in October 1982 (creating the XR3i), eight months behind the limited edition (8,659 examples), racetrack-influenced RS 1600i. The Cologne-developed RS received a more powerful engine with 115 PS, thanks to computerised ignition and a modified head as well as the fuel injection. For 1983, the XR3i was upgraded to 115bhp thanks to the use of fuel injection and a five speed transmission had been standardised. Both variants proved very popular, getting a significant percentage of Escort sales and also as a slightly more affordable alternative to a Golf GTi. For those for whom the performance was not quite enough, Ford had an answer, withe the RS Turbo. This 132 PS car was shown in October 1984, as a top of the range car, offering more power than the big-selling XR3i and the limited production RS1600i. Going on sale in the spring of 1985, it proved to be somewhat of a disappointment, with the chassis coming in for severe criticism. The RS Turbo Series 1 was only marketed in a few European nations as production was limited to 5,000 examples, all in white. They were well equipped, with the alloy wheels from the limited production RS 1600i, Recaro seats, and a limited slip differential. One car only was finished in black; it was built especially for Lady Diana. Ford facelifted the entire Escort range in January 1986, and a few months later, a revised Series 2 RS Turbo emerged, which adopted the styling changes of the less potent models, and the new dashboard, as well as undergoing a mechanical revision and the addition of more equipment including anti-lock brakes. The Series 2 cars were available in a wider range of colours.
Ford replaced the first Fiesta model in April 1989 with an all-new looking design, although it carried over much of the mechanical componentry. A year later, they added a performance model to the range, the Fiesta RS Turbo, to sit above the XR2i, on which it was based. It was visually similar. The main differences were 14″ alloy wheels (an inch larger and of a different design than those fitted to the XR2i) with 185/55 VR14 Pirelli P600 tyres, green rather than blue stripe mouldings, colour-coded rear spoiler and door pillars, opening rear quarter windows, green tinted glass and RS bonnet louvres. Anti-lock brakes and a “Quickclear” heated front windscreen were options at extra cost. Inside the car the differences included Recaro seats trimmed in “Ascot In Raven” material and a grey leather trimmed gear knob and a three-spoke steering wheel (as opposed to the two-spoke used in the XR2i), which also had the RS Turbo logo embossed on the centre cap. The RS Turbo’s CVH engine retained the same 1597cc capacity as the XR2i, but had a lower compression ratio of 8:1. The Garrett T2 turbocharger supplied 8 psi of boost and was chosen as space between the engine and radiator prevented the use of the larger T3 from the Escort RS Turbo. As with the Escort, an air-to-air intercooler was fitted, although this was slightly larger on the Fiesta. The quoted power output was 133ps at 5500rpm, with 183 nm of torque at 2400rpm which gave the car a top speed of 133 mph and a 0-60 of 7.9 seconds. The car was not generally well received with reviews citing poor handling and uncommunicative steering as its weak points. The spiralling insurance costs of the early 1990s did not help either, with the car being a particular target for thieves. The Fiesta RS1800 was introduced as the replacement for the RS Turbo in 1992. The turbocharged 1.6 litre CVH engine from the RS Turbo was replaced by a 1.8 litre version of the Zetec engine, and had a similar claimed maximum power output of 130 PS.
There were a number of examples of the SportKa here. Plans to give this the name Ka Si were abandoned when someone realised just how the car would come to be known! It was launched in 2003, and came with a sporty body kit, wider track with stiffened suspension and redesigned 16″ (40 cm) alloy wheel, slightly widened bumpers front and rear with integral fog lamps. A convertible model called StreetKa also appeared at the same time. In 2005, all Ka models including SportKa and StreetKa received a slightly updated interior, bringing the cabin back up to date, while still retaining the look and feel of the original. Both StreetKa and SportKa received a new 93 hp 1.6-litre 8-valve Duratec petrol engine, whereas Ka, Ka Collection, and LuxuryKa retained the 1.3-litre Duratec petrol engine. The SportKa was noted for its surprising advertising campaign, “The Ka’s Evil Twin”, denouncing the Ka’s traditionally perceived “cute” design.
Enthusiasts waited for a long time for a truly sporting version of the Focus, and finally it came in 2002, nearly 4 years after the launch of the volume models. There was an even longer wait for an RS version of the second generation Focus. The regular cars were released in late 2004. An ST version followed very quickly, and for a long time, Ford maintained that was the only sporty Focus there was going to be. Finally, on December 17, 2007 Ford of Europe confirmed that a Mk 2 Focus RS would be launched in 2009, with a concept version due in mid-2008. t with an upgraded Duratec ST engine with 305PS Duratec RS, gearbox, suspension, and LSD. In 2008, Ford revealed the new Focus RS in “concept” form at the British International Motor Show. Contrary to numerous rumours and speculation, the RS was announced by Ford to have a conventional FWD layout. The Duratec RS engine was upgraded to produce 301 bhp and 325 lb/ft of torque. 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration was quoted to be under 6 seconds. The RS used a modified Volvo -engineered 2,522cc five-cylinder engine found in the Focus ST. A larger Borg Warner K16 turbo now delivers up to 20.3-psi of boost. A new air-to-air intercooler has been developed as a complement, while the forged crankshaft, silicon-aluminium pistons, graphite-coated cylinder bores, 8.5:1 compression ratio and variable valve timing also up the power output. The car remained front wheel drive, but to reduce torque steer used a Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing LSD, and a specially designed MacPherson strut suspension at the front called RevoKnuckle, which provided a lower scrub radius and kingpin offset than traditional designs while avoiding the increased weight and complexity of double wishbone and multi-link suspension setups. Ford UK claim: “It’s as close as you’ll come to driving a full-spec rally car (Ford Focus RS WRC). The production car was finally unveiled on 5 January 2009. It looked very distinctive, as at the rear a large venturi tunnel and a dramatic rear spoiler created a purposeful look. It was available in three expressive exterior colours: Ultimate Green, Performance Blue and Frozen White. The ‘Ultimate’ Green was a modern reinterpretation of the classic 1970s Ford Le Mans Green of the Ford Escort RS1600 era.
There were a number of US Fords here. The oldest were three examples of the Model A, the car which took over from the long-running Model T in 1927, and which was sold until 1932, with a variety of different bodystyles, ranging from two and four door tourers, to several converted for utility use.
Looking rather splendid in a garage all by itself was this 1958 Fairlane. The first Fairlane had been seen in 1955, taking their name from Henry Ford’s estate, Fair Lane, near Dearborn, Michigan. Over time, the name referred to a number of different cars in different classes; the Fairlane was initially a full-sized car, but became a mid-sized car from the 1962 model year Second generation cars arrived in 1957, when a new style gave a longer, wider, lower, and sleeker look with low tailfins. The new proportions and modern styling were a hit with customers to the extent that the Ford outsold Chevrolet in 1957 for the first time since 1935. A new top trim level was reversed, the Fairlane 500. For the first time, the lower-level Custom line had a shorter wheelbase than the Fairlane. Engines were largely the same as the year before. The big news for 1957 was the introduction of the Fairlane 500 Skyliner power retractable hardtop, whose solid top hinged and folded down into the boot space at the touch of a button. Another facelift for 1958 had fashionable quad headlights, a grille that matched the 1958 Thunderbird, and other styling changes. New big-block FE V8s of 332 and 352 CID (5.4 and 5.8 litres) replaced the previous largest V8s, and a better three-speed automatic transmission was also available. A new top-level full-sized model was introduced at mid-year 1959, the Ford Galaxie. The 1959 Galaxie displayed both “Fairlane 500” and “Galaxie” badging.
This is a 1963 Falcon Sprint 2 door Coupe, which although looking large to European eyes was one of the array of “compact” cars that America produced in the early 1960s. Historically, the “Big Three” auto manufacturers (GM, Ford and Chrysler), had focused purely on the larger and more profitable vehicles in the US and Canadian markets. Towards the end of the 1950s, all three manufacturers realised that this strategy would no longer work. Large automobiles were becoming increasingly expensive, making smaller cars such as Fiats, Renaults, Toyotas, and Volkswagens increasingly attractive. Furthermore, many American families were now in the market for a second car, and market research showed women especially thought the full-size car had grown too large and cumbersome. At the same time, research showed many buyers would prefer to buy US or Canadian if the domestic manufacturers offered a smaller car with lower cost of ownership. Thus, all three introduced compacts: the Valiant from Chrysler (becoming the Plymouth Valiant in 1961, and joined by a downsized Dodge Dart in 1962), GM’s Chevrolet Corvair, and the Ford Falcon. Studebaker also introduced the Lark, and Rambler downsized its near-compact American in 1960. The project which became the Falcon was started and sponsored by Ford General Manager Robert S. McNamara, who commissioned a team to create what by American standards of the time would be a small car but elsewhere in the world considered a mid-size. McNamara, who was promoted to Group Vice President of Cars and Trucks by the time the Falcon was launched, was intimately involved in development, insisting on keeping the costs and weight of the car as low as possible. Engineer Harley Copp employed a unibody atop a standard suspension and sourced parts from Ford’s existing bin to keep the price low yet provide room for six passengers in reasonable comfort. The sales success of the conventional Falcon along with slow sales of GM’s rear-engined Corvair led General Motors to introduce their own compact car based on the Falcon’s principles, the Chevy II. The 1960 Falcon was powered by a small, lightweight 95 hp 2.4 litre Mileage Maker straight-6 with a single-barrel carburettor. Construction was unibody, and suspension was fairly standard, with coil springs in front and leaf springs in the rear. Brakes were drum all around. A three-speed manual column shift was standard, and the two-speed Ford-O-Matic automatic was optional. There was room for six passengers in reasonable comfort in the simple interior. Body styles included two- and four-door sedans, two- or four-door station wagons, and the Ranchero car-based pickup, transferred onto the Falcon platform for 1960 from the Fairlane. A Mercury derivative, the Mercury Comet, originally intended for the defunct Edsel marque, was launched in the US midway through the 1960 model year. Robert McNamara, a Ford executive who became Ford’s president briefly before being offered the job of U.S. Defense Secretary, is regarded by many as “the father of the Falcon”. McNamara left Ford shortly after the Falcon’s introduction, but his faith in the concept was vindicated with record sales; over half a million sold in the first year and over a million sold by the end of the second year. The 1961 model year introduced an optional 101 hp, 2.8 litre six, and two new models were introduced; a bucket-seat and console sedan model in a higher trim level called the Futura, and a sedan delivery. Also, the Ford Falcon brochure featured Charlie Brown and Lucy from the Peanuts comic strip who remained until 1965. Ford boasted of the good fuel economy achieved by the six-cylinder Ford Falcon models in advertising. The fuel economy was good, a claimed 30 mpg‑US, compared to other American cars at the time. The 1962 model year had a Squire model of the four-door station wagon with faux wood trim on the sides. The bucket-seat “Futura” model was offered with a slightly upgraded interior, factory-installed safety belts, different side trim (spears), and different emblems. Halfway through the model year, Ford changed the roof line at the back window to more of a Thunderbird design and offered a four-speed transmission for the first time. The two-door Futura sedan (also referred to as an ‘illusion hardtop’ because of the chrome trim around the side window opening) sported a flat rear window in place of the panoramic (wrap-around) window on earlier models to bring its design in line with other Ford cars of the era. In 1962, Ford introduced the Ford Falcon Club Wagon and Deluxe Club Wagon, an eight-passenger, flat-front, van. Ford also promoted that in a Mobilgas economy run, the Falcon got 32.5mpg. In 1963, even more models were available. There was now a four-door Futura and a Deluxe wagon. Futura Convertible and Futura Sports Convertible models were also included in the 1963 range. Later, hardtops, and the new “Sprint” model were introduced. Halfway through the model year (February 1963), the Fairlane’s 164 hp “Challenger” 4.3 litre V8 engine was offered for the first time. The Falcon was climbing in trim level from its budget beginnings, as Ford attempted to wring more profit from the line. The only time a V8 option was available in a first-generation Falcon was the 1963½ model, and these cars were produced in very limited numbers (Sprint two-door hardtop (bucket seats) 10,479 produced and Sprint convertible (bucket seats) 4,602 produced). These first-generation Falcon Sprint cars were the basis for the 1964½ Mustangs released by Ford one year later. Many (if not most) of the interior, chassis, suspension, and drivetrain components were derived from those used on the 1963½ Ford Falcon Sprint and/or Fairlane models. In simplest terms, the 1963½ Falcon Sprint is nearly mechanically identical to the 1964½ Mustang while being aesthetically different. A completely new (and larger) model arrived for 1964.
This 1963 Country Squire belongs to Julian Balme, one of the writers for Classic & Sports Car magazine and he has written about the car on occasion there. He has now figured that his fleet is too large and the car needs to be moved on, which is why it was sporting “For Sale” signs in the windows.
There were also a couple of Mustang models: an early car and a rather nice 1968 GT350 which I have seen at this event before.
Frazer Nash is known for making a series of small sports cars in the late 1920s and early 1930s, which featured a chain drive, mostly with 1.5 litre engines. Initially successful on the track as well as popular on the road, the limitations of their solid rear axle and relatively crude chassis started to tell, and in the mid 1930s, the company set up an arrangement with BMW to import their models instead, losing focus on their own cars. Frazer Nash models are nevertheless still popular among enthusiasts today.
At first glance this looks like an Austin Healey. But it is not, and a closer look will reveal a Haldane badge on it. These cars were made by a company called Haldane Developments Ltd, founded by John Haldane on 15 September 1988 in Glasgow in Scotland. Haldane started with the production of automobiles and kits. The first model was the HD 100. This was a replica of the Austin-Healey 100. It had a self-developed chassis a chassis and a fibreglass body. The four-cylinder engine came from the Vauxhall Chevette . From 1993, a revised chassis was produced which would accommodate Ford engines out. Between 1987 and 1994 about 100 examples were made. In 1991, the HD300 was added the HD 300 to the range. This was based on the later Austin-Healey 3000. By 2008, 36 of these had been produced. Like many such ventures, Haldane struggled financially and the company was liquidated in 1994. Pilgrim Cars, well known for their own kit cars took over and created the Haldane Motor company, now based in Hefield in Sussex. A small number of cars were produced during tis time before the venture was ended in 2008. Last year, the owner told me that he knows of 20 or so Haldane cars at present, so there are more of them out there.
This is a Healey Silverstone, an open two-seater road / racing sports car, that was made by the Donald Healey Motor Company. The Silverstone had headlights behind the grille to make it more aerodynamic. It was designed to be a dual purpose “race and ride” car. It also had a 104-horsepower 2.5-litre Riley I-4 engine and four speed manual transmission. The Silverstone was hand-built at Healey’s Warwick factory and just 105 were produced. Healey was producing a range of expensive cars in small quantities at the time and when the British government doubled the purchase tax on (luxury) cars over £1000 from 33.33% to 66.66% in 1948, Healey realised his business would be in trouble, so he decided to make a high performance car that was under £1000. The result was the Healey Silverstone. The car had a very successful competition history when new. Production ended in September 1950 when it was replaced by the Nash-Healey.
Sitting below the Hunter in the Hillman range of the 1970s was the Avenger, a conventionally engineered small saloon that competed with the Ford Escort and Vauxhall Viva. 1250 and 1500cc models from launch were upgraded to 1300 and 1600cc in the autumn of 1973 and these garnered the majority of sales, but they are not the cars that have survived in the greatest numbers. The ones that you most often see now are the Tiger models. Named to evoke memories of the Sunbeam Tiger, the Avenger Tiger concept began as a publicity exercise. Avenger Super (four-door) cars were modified by the Chrysler Competitions Centre under Des O’ Dell and the Tiger model was launched in March 1972. Modifications included the 1500 GT engine with an improved cylinder head with enlarged valves, twin Weber carburettors and a compression ratio of 9.4:1. The engine now developed 92.5 bhp at 6,100 rpm. The suspension was also uprated, whilst brakes, rear axle, and gearbox are directly from the GT. The cars were all painted in a distinctive yellow called Sundance and they featured a bonnet bulge, whilst a rear spoiler and side stripes were standard, set off with “Avenger Tiger” lettering on the rear quarters. They are also distinguished by the fact that have rectangular headlights. Road test figures demonstrated a 0–60 mph time of 8.9 seconds and a top speed of 108 mph, which beat the rival Ford Escort Mexico, but fuel consumption was heavy. All Avenger Tigers were assembled by the Chrysler Competitions Centre and production figures are vague but around 200 of the initial Mark 1 seems likely. In October 1972, Chrysler unveiled the more “productionised” Mark 2 Tiger. The Avenger GL bodyshell with four round headlights was used. Mechanically identical to the earlier cars, the bonnet bulge was lost although the bonnet turned matt black, and there were changes to wheels and seats. These cars went on sale at £1,350. Production was around 400. These were available in a bright red colour called Wardance as well as the earlier Sundance, both with black detailing. There were none of them here, instead there were a couple of the regular cars, including a nicely presented 1500GT.
One of the oldest vehicles of the event was this magnificent 1927 Humber 14/40 saloon and one of about 20 known to survive from the 801 built between 1926 and ’29. It has been known to the Humber Register since 1953.
The other Humber here was a Sceptre, which ended up being the last model to bear the brand’s name. The Sceptre MK I, introduced in 1963, was a luxury car based on the Hillman Super Minx. It featured a unique roof, glass and upper/rear bodywork not shared with the Super Minx or the related Singer Vogue. The Sceptre was originally intended as a four-door replacement for the Sunbeam Rapier, but was launched as a Humber, while the Rapier continued in production with little modification until 1967. This resulted in the Sceptre being more sporty in character than traditional Humbers. The Sceptre was positioned at the top of the mid-range Rootes Group cars, above the Hillman Super Minx and Singer Vogue. It featured similar twin headlight styling to the Vogue and a more powerful 80 bhp version of the 1,592 cc Minx engine. The high level of equipment included disc front brakes, overdrive, screen washers, reversing lamp, rev counter and a full range of instruments. Automatic transmission was made available later. A MK IA was introduced in 1964. Whilst the Super Minx and Vogue received revised six light styling in 1964, the Sceptre body continued unchanged until 1965 when it was replaced by the MK II. Production of the MK I and IA models totalled 17,011 units. The Sceptre MK II, introduced in 1965, featured revised front end styling and a twin carburettor version of the 1,725 cc engine. It was produced until 1967. Production of the MK II totalled 11,983 units. The car was replaced in 1967 by a completely new design from the Arrow family.
Quite a rarity is this Innocenti C. At the 1960 Turin Auto Show, BMC’s Italian partner Innocenti had shown a small Spider built upon Sprite underpinnings. The car was the first design of Tom Tjaarda’s, drawn for Carrozzeria Ghia. Ghia’s partner firm OSI built the bodyshells, when the car entered production in early 1961. The original Innocenti 950 Spider had the Frogeye’s 948 cc engine with 43 hp, 624 of these were built. Later in 1961 an uprated 46.5 hp was installed. In February 1963 the 1098 cc “S” model was introduced, this also had front disc brakes to cope with the extra power. The 1100 with 58 hp could also be fitted with a removable hardtop. The Spider wasn’t a mere reshelling, as the entire bulkhead was moved forward to provide longer doors and a more modern look. Unlike the spartan Frogeye, the Spider also had wind-up windows and a permanent windscreen. 4,790 of the 950 Spiders were built, and 2,074 of the 1100 cc Spiders. The Innocenti Spider originally sold well in Italy, with production running at 13 cars per day in 1962, but it had a hard time competing against the cheaper Sprite in export markets. As more modern competitors arrived and as the British-built Sprite was modernised, sales dropped precipitously, with only 63 cars built in 1965. Thus, Innocenti presented the reworked Innocenti Coupé in September 1966, still with the same 1100 engine as seen in late Spiders. The badging on the car simply read “Innocenti C”. The Coupé’s all-new bodywork was wider and longer than the Spider’s, and the wheelbase was extended by 150 mm to 2,180 mm (85.8 in). The floorpan was reworked to allow for the seats to be mounted lower than in a Sprite, making the cabin less cramped. It was competitively priced in the Italian market, slotting nicely between the smaller Fiat 850 Coupé and the bigger Fiat 124 Sport Spider. Only 794 were built when production ended in 1968.
Oldest Jaguar was one of the rather splendid saloons that were produced in the late 1930s and again once production resumed after the war until 1949. Sometimes referred to as the Jaguar Mark IV. the cars were marketed as the Jaguar 1½ litre, Jaguar 2½ litre and Jaguar 3½ litre with the Mark IV name later applied in retrospect to separate this model from the succeeding Mark V range. All these cars were built on a separate chassis frame with suspension by semi-elliptic leaf springs on rigid axles front and rear. Biggest seller, with 10,980 made, was the smallest model of the range, the 1½ litre, which originally featured a 1608 cc side valve Standard engine but from 1938 this was replaced by a 1776 cc overhead-valve unit still from Standard who also supplied the four-speed manual transmission. Pre-war the car was available as a saloon or drophead coupé but post war only the closed model was made. Up to 1938 body construction on all the models was by the traditional steel on wood method but in that year it changed to all steel. Performance was not a strong point but 70 mph was possible: the car featured the same cabin dimensions and well-appointed interior as its longer-engined brothers. Despite its lack of out-and-out performance, a report of the time, comparing the 4-cylinder 1½-litre with its 6-cylinder siblings, opined that the smallest-engined version of the car was “as is often the case … the sweetest running car” with a “big car cruising gait in the sixties”. For the 2½ Litre, the engine was alsosourced from Standard but had the cylinder head reworked by SS to give 105 bhp. Unlike the 1½ Litre there were some drophead models made post-war. The chassis was originally of 119 in but grew by an inch in 1938, the extra length over the 1½ Litre was used for the six-cylinder engine as the passenger accommodation was the same size. Nearly 7000 of these were sold. The 3½ Litre, introduced in 1938, was essentially the same body and chassis as the 2½ Litre but the larger 125 bhp engine gave better performance but at the expense of economy. The car seen here is a 1½ Litre dating from 1939.
This was a rather nice C type. Without the full registration plate to hand, I’ve not been able to confirm whether this is an original car or one of the many replicas that have been made.
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.
There was also an example of the S Type here. Having made 2 significant new car launches in 1961 at the top of the range, with the gargantuan Mark X and the E Type, for their next new model, Jaguar turned their attention lower down, believing that the Mark 2, based on design which had first launched in 1955 would need updating to keep it competitive. Sir William Lyons believed that the car would need to adopt some of the innovations that had been seen on the Mark X and the E Type, such as Jaguar’s new independent rear suspension and the triple SU carburettor version of the 3.8-litre XK engine Accordingly work started on a call which was codenamed “Utah Mk III”, (the Mark 2 having been “Utah Mk II”) and which made its public debut as the S Type. Both time and budget were limited, so rather than being an all new car, the S Type was a major redevelopment of the Mark 2. It used a mid-scale version of the Mark X independent rear suspension to replace the Mark 2’s live rear axle and featured revised styling, with the changes more obvious at the back with a longer tail giving more boot space. rear bodywork, with only minor changes to the front and a slightly flattened roofline, which is one reason why a lot of people have trouble distinguishing the car from its smaller brother. A more luxurious interior was fitted, with greater use of burr walnut and leather than was to be found in the Mark 2. The S Type was available with either 3.4 or 3.8-litre XK engines but only in twin carburettor form because the triple carburettor set-up would not fit into what was essentially still the Mark 2 engine bay. By the time of the S Type’s release in 1963, the Mark 2 was still selling strongly, despite its age, whereas the Mark X was selling less well than had been hoped, especially in its intended market of the USA, so Sir William decided to retain all three models in the Jaguar range concurrently. Sales of the S Type were relatively modest throughout its 6 year production life, with 9928 of the 3.4 litre and 15.065 of the 3.8 litre cars made.
The 420G is still one of the largest Jaguar models ever made. When the time came to replace the Mark IX, Jaguar adopted a completely new look, with the resulting car, unsurprisingly called the Mark X, being notably larger. Indeed its bulk, especially the width, came to characterise the car, and constituted one of the obstacles to sales in Europe, though this was less of a handicap for the American market, for whom it had been designed. The first three years production used the familiar 3.8 litre XK engine, and this was enlarged to 4.2 litre in 1964 in line with the E Type. The Mark X was the first Jaguar to feature fully independent rear suspension and the last to feature an interior with abundant standard woodwork, including the dashboard, escutcheons, window trim, a pair of large bookmatched fold out rear picnic tables, and a front seat pull-out picnic table stowed beneath the instrument cluster. Later, air conditioning and a sound-proof glass division between the front and rear seats were added as options. For the London Motor Show in October 1966 the Mark X was renamed the Jaguar 420G (not to be confused with the smaller Jaguar 420, which was an update of the smaller S Type). The 420G differed visually from the Mark X only with the addition of a vertical central bar splitting the grille in two, side indicator repeaters on the front wings, and a chrome strip along the wing and door panels (two tone paint schemes were also available with the chrome strip omitted). Interior changes included perforations in the central sections of the leather seats, padded dashboard sections for safety, moving the clock to a central position, and the introduction of air conditioning as an option. A “limousine” version was available, on the standard wheelbase, with a dividing glass screen partition and front bench seat replacing the separate seats of standard cars. The wheelbase was extended by 21″ with the mechanical underpinnings of the car being subtly re-bodied for the 1968 Daimler DS420. Despite running for the same length of time as the Mark X (5 years) the 420G sold in less than a third of the numbers: this lack of popularity and the increasing production of the XJ6 resulted in the 420G being run out of production in 1970. Whilst over 18,500 of the Mark X were made, just 5,763 of the 420G were made.
Replacement for the XK models came in 1961 with the E Type, and it stunned the world at its premier at the 1961 Geneva Show. Considered by many to be Sir William Lyons’ greatest achievement, not only did the car have stop-you-in-your-tracks gorgeous styling, but it had explosive performance (even if the 150 mph that was achieved in The Autocar’s Road Test is now known to have been with a little “help”), but it was the price that amazed people more than anything else. Whilst out of reach for most people, who could barely afford any new car, it was massively cheaper than contemporary Aston Martins and Ferraris, its market rivals. It was not perfect, though, and over the coming years, Jaguar made constant improvements. A 2+2 model joined the initial range of Roadster and Coupe, and more powerful and larger engines came when the 3.8 litre was enlarged to 4.2 litres, before more significant styling changes came with the 1967 Series 2 and the 1971 Series 3, where new front end treatments and lights were a consequence of legislative demands of the E Type’s most important market, America. There were examples of all the first two Series here, all in Coupe format.
Successor to the E Type was the XJ-S, launched in September 1975, and to a not universally approving public. This was a very different sort of sporting Jaguar, more boulevard cruiser than sports car, even though the car had plenty of appeal with its smooth V12 engine which gave it genuine 150 mph performance. Press reports were favourable, but a thirsty V12 and a car with inconsistent build quality and styling that not everyone warmed to meant that sales were slow, and they got slower as the decade passed, leading questions to be asked as to whether the car should continue. As well as sorting the saloon models, Jaguar’s Chairman, John Egan, put in place a program to improve the XJ-S as well, which also benefitted from the HE engine in early 1981. A Cabrio model and the option of the new 3.6 litre 6 cylinder engine from 1984 widened the sales appeal, and the volumes of cars being bought started to go up. A fully open Convertible, launched in 1988 was the model many had been waiting for, and by this time, although the design was over 10 years old, it was now brimming with appeal to many. 1991 saw an extensive facelift which changed the styling details as well as incorporating the latest mechanical changes from the Jaguar parts bin, making the XJS (the hyphen had been dropped from the name in 1990) a truly desirable car. Seen here was a late model V12 Coupe.
There was also a Series 3 example of the well-respected XJ6 here. This was released in April 1979, and was based solely on the long-wheelbase version of the car, and incorporated a subtle redesign by Pininfarina. Externally, the most obvious changes over the SII were the thicker and more incorporated rubber bumpers with decorative chrome only on the top edge, flush door handles for increased safety, a one-piece front door glass without a separate 1/4 light, a grille with only vertical vanes, reverse lights moved from the boot plinth to the larger rear light clusters and a revised roofline with narrower door frames and increased glass area. There were three engine variants, including the 5.3 litre V12, the 4.2 litre straight-six and 3.4 litre straight-six. The larger six-cylinder, and V12 models incorporated Bosch fuel injection (made under licence by Lucas) while the smaller six-cylinder was carburettor fed. There was also the option of a sunroof and cruise control for the first time on an XJ model. In 1981 the 5.3 V12 models received the new Michael May designed “fireball” high compression cylinder head engines and were badged from this time onwards to 1985 as HE (High Efficiency) models. In late 1981 Daimler Sovereign and Double Six models received a minor interior upgrade for the 1982 model year with features similar to Vanden Plas models. Also for the 1982 model year, a top spec “Jaguar” Vanden Plas model was introduced for the US market. In late 1982 the interior of all Series III models underwent a minor update for the 1983 model year. A trip computer appeared for the first time and was fitted as standard on V12 models. A new and much sought-after alloy wheel featuring numerous distinctive circular holes was also introduced, commonly known as the “pepperpot” wheel. In late 1983 revision and changes were made across the Series III model range for the 1984 model year, with the Sovereign name being transferred from Daimler to a new top spec Jaguar model, the “Jaguar Sovereign”. A base spec Jaguar XJ12 was no longer available, with the V12 engine only being offered as a Jaguar Sovereign HE or Daimler Double Six. The Vanden Plas name was also dropped at this time in the UK market, due to Jaguar being sold by BL and the designation being used on top-of-the-range Rover-branded cars in the home UK market. Daimler models became the Daimler 4.2 and Double Six and were the most luxurious XJ Series III models, being fully optioned with Vanden Plas spec interiors. Production of the Series III XJ6 continued until early 1987 and on till 1992 with the V12 engine. In 1992, the last 100 cars built were numbered and sold as part of a special series commemorating the end of production for Canada. These 100 cars featured the option of having a brass plaque located in the cabin. This initiative did not come from Jaguar in Coventry. It was a local effort, by Jaguar Canada staff and the brass plaques were engraved locally.132,952 Series III cars were built, 10,500 with the V12 engine. In total between 1968 and 1992 there were around 318,000 XJ6 and XJ12 Jaguars produced.
Creating lots of interest when it arrived and where it was parked up was this XJ220. As is well known, the XJ220 was developed from a V12-engined 4-wheel drive concept car designed by an informal group of Jaguar employees working in their spare time. The group wished to create a modern version of the successful Jaguar 24 Hours of Le Mans racing cars of the 1950s and ’60s that could be entered into FIA Group B competitions. The XJ220 made use of engineering work undertaken for Jaguar’s then current racing car family. The initial XJ220 concept car was unveiled to the public at the 1988 British International Motor Show. Its positive reception prompted Jaguar to put the car into production; some 1500 deposits of £50,000 each were taken, and deliveries were planned for 1992. Engineering requirements resulted in significant changes to the specification of the XJ220, most notably replacement of the Jaguar V12 engine by a turbocharged V6 engine. The changes to the specification and a collapse in the price of collectible cars brought about by the early 1990s recession resulted in many buyers choosing not to exercise their purchase options. A total of just 271 cars were produced by the time production ended, each with a retail price of £470,000 in 1992. The production XJ220 used a 3.5-litre (3498 cc) twin turbocharged engine, which was given the designation Jaguar/TWR JV6. This engine, which replaced the Jaguar V12 engine featured in the concept car, was a heavily redesigned and significantly altered version of the Austin Rover V64V V6 engine. The decision to change the engine was based on engine weight and dimensions, as well as to environmental emission considerations. Use of the shorter V6 engine design allowed the wheelbase of the XJ220 to be shortened and its weight to be reduced; the V12 engine was definitively ruled out when it was determined it would have difficulty in meeting emissions legislation whilst producing the required power and torque. TWR purchased the rights to the V64V engine from Austin Rover in 1989 and developed a completely new turbocharged engine, codenamed JV6, under the auspices of Allan Scott, with proportions roughly similar to the V64V, and suitable for Sportcar racing. TWR redesigned all parts of the engine, increasing the displacement to 3.5 litres, and adding two Garrett TO3 turbochargers. The JV6 engine would first be used in the JaguarSport XJR-10 and XJR-11 racing cars; its compact dimensions and low weight made it an ideal candidate for the XJ220. The engine had a 90° bank angle, four valves per cylinder and belt-driven double overhead camshafts. It shares a number of design features with the Cosworth DFV Formula One engine. The V64V engine chosen had a short but successful career as a purpose-designed racing car engine. It was designed by Cosworth engine designer David Wood for Austin Rover Group’s Metro derived Group B rally car, the MG Metro 6R4. The redesign work necessary to create the Jaguar/TWR JV6 engine was undertaken by Andrew Barnes, TWR’s Powertrain Manager, and also involved Swiss engine builder Max Heidegger who had designed and built the race engines used in the XJR-10 and XJR-11 racing cars.The XJ220’s engine had a bore and stroke of 94 mm × 84 mm (3.70 by 3.31 inches), dry sump lubrication, Zytek multi point fuel injection with dual injectors and Zytek electronic engine management. The engine was manufactured with an aluminium cylinder block, aluminium cylinder heads with steel connecting rods and crankshaft, and in the standard state of tune, it produced a maximum power of 550 PS at 7200 rpm and torque of 475 lb·ft at 4500 rpm. The XJ220 can accelerate from 0–60 miles per hour in 3.6 seconds and reach a top speed of 213 miles per hour.The exhaust system had two catalytic converters, which reduced the power output of the engine. During testing at the Nardò Ring in Italy the XJ220, driven by 1990 Le Mans Winner Martin Brundle achieved a top speed of 217.1 miles per hour when the catalytic converters were disconnected and the rev limiter was increased to 7,900rpm; owing to the circular nature of the track, a speed of 217 mph is equivalent to 223 mph on a straight, level road. The V64V engine had the additional benefit of being very economical for such a powerful petrol engine, it was capable of achieving 32 mpg, in contrast, the smallest-engined Jaguar saloon of the time, the Jaguar XJ6 4.0 could only achieve around 24 mpg. Four-wheel drive was decided against early in the development process, for a number of reasons. It was thought rear-wheel drive would be adequate in the majority of situations, that the additional complexity of the four-wheel drive system would hinder the development process and potentially be problematic for the customer. FF Developments were contracted to provide the gearbox/transaxle assembly, modifying their four-wheel drive transaxle assembly from the XJ220 concept into a pure rear-wheel drive design for the production car. A five-speed gearbox is fitted; a six-speed gearbox was considered but deemed unnecessary, as the torque characteristics of the engine made a sixth gear redundant. The transaxle featured a viscous coupling limited slip differential to improve traction. The transmission system featured triple-cone synchromeshing on first and second gears to handle rapid starts, whilst remaining relatively easy for the driver to engage and providing positive feel. The exterior retained the aluminium body panels of the XJ220 concept, but for the production vehicles, Abbey Panels of Coventry were contracted to provide the exterior panels. The scissor doors were dropped for the production model, and significant redesign work was carried out on the design when the wheelbase and overall length of the car was altered. Geoff Lawson, Design Director at Jaguar took a greater interest in the car and insisted the design had to be seen to be a Jaguar if it was to be successful in promoting the company.Keith Helfet returned to undertake the necessary redesign work mandated by the change in the wheelbase, which was reduced by 200 mm. The turbocharged engine required larger air intakes to feed the two intercoolers. Situated between the doors and the rear wheels, the air intakes were larger on the production version of the XJ220 than on the concept car. A number of small design changes for the body were tested in the wind tunnel; the final version had a drag coefficient of 0.36 with downforce of 3,000 lb at 200 mph. The XJ220 was one of the first production cars to intentionally use underbody airflow and the venturi effect to generate downforce. The rear lights used on the production XJ220 were taken from the Rover 200. The production model utilised the same Alcan bonded honeycomb aluminium structure vehicle technology (ASVT) as the concept car for the chassis. The chassis design featured two box section rails which acted as the suspension mounting points and would provide an energy absorbing structure in the event of a frontal impact, these were successfully tested at speeds up to 30 mph, an integral roll cage formed part of the chassis and monocoque, providing additional structural rigidity for the car and allowing the XJ220 to easily pass stringent crash testing.The rear-wheel steering was dropped from the production car to save weight and reduce complexity, as was the height adjustable suspension and active aerodynamic technology. The suspension fitted to the production model consisted of front and rear independent suspension, double unequal length wishbones, inboard coil springs and anti-roll bars, with Bilstein gas-filled dampers. The suspension was designed in accordance with the FIA Group C specifications. The braking system was designed by AP Racing and featured ventilated and cross-drilled discs of 13 in diameter at the front and 11.8 in diameter at the rear. The calipers are four pot aluminium units. JaguarSport designed the handbrake, which are separate calipers acting on the rear brake discs. Feedback from enthusiasts and racing drivers resulted in the decision to drop the anti-lock braking system from the production car. The braking system was installed without a servo, but a number of owners found the brakes to be difficult to judge when cold and subsequently requested a servo to be fitted.Rack and pinion steering was fitted, with 2.5 turns lock to lock; no power assistance was fitted. The Bridgestone Expedia S.01 asymmetric uni-directional tyres were specially developed for the XJ220 and had to be rateable to a top speed in excess of 220 mph, carry a doubling of load with the exceptionally high downforce at speed and maintain a compliant and comfortable ride. Rally alloy wheel specialists Speedline Corse designed the alloy wheels, these are both wider and have a larger diameter on the rear wheels; 17 inches wheels are fitted to the front and 18 inches are fitted at the rear, with 255/55 ZR17 tyres at the front and 345/35 ZR18 tyres at the rear.The interior was designed for two passengers and trimmed in leather. Leather trimmed sports seats are fitted together with electric windows and electrically adjustable heated mirrors. The dashboard unusually curves round and carries onto the drivers door, with a secondary instrument binnacle containing four analogue gauges, including a clock and voltmeter fitted on the front of the drivers door. Air conditioning and green tinted glazing was also fitted.The luggage space consists of a small boot directly behind and above the rear portion of the engine, also trimmed in leather. The car was assembled in a purpose-built factory at Wykham Mill, Bloxham near Banbury. HRH The Princess of Wales officially opened the factory and unveiled the first production XJ220 in October 1991. The JV6 engines used in the Jaguar racing cars were produced by Swiss engineer Max Heidegger, but delivering the number of engines required for the XJ220 program was considered beyond his capacity. TWR formed a division, TWR Road Engines, to manage the design, development, construction and testing of the engines for the production cars. The JV6 engine used in the XJ220 featured little commonality with the engines Heidegger built for use in the XJR racing cars, being specifically engineered to meet performance and in particular, the European emissions requirements, which the race engines didn’t have to meet. FF Developments, in addition to their design work on the gearbox and rear axle assembly were given responsibility for their manufacture. The aluminium chassis components and body panels were manufactured and assembled at Abbey Panels factory in Coventry, before the body in white was delivered to the assembly plant at Bloxham. The car, including chassis and body components, consists of approximately 3000 unique parts. The first customer delivery occurred in June 1992, and production rates averaged one car per day. The last XJ220 rolled off the production line in April 1994; the factory was then transferred to Aston Martin and used for the assembly of the Aston Martin DB7 until 2004.
Final Jaguar here was a Project Seven. This was first shown in the summer of 2013, more of an indication of what could be done with the new F Type rather than as something which was going to be produced, but such was the clamour from enthusiasts that Jaguar decided to build a limited run of them, and even at a starting price of £130,000, there were more people who wanted to buy one than cars that Jaguar planned to make, with the car selling out before it officially went on sale. Just 250 will be built, 80 available to buyers in the UK, 50 in Germany and the balance to the Americans, who, it would seem, have been getting their cars first. The Seven in the name refers to Jaguar’s seven Le Mans wins (two of them with the help of Ecurie Ecosse, of course). Visually, it is easy to recognise from a standard F Type, with its abbreviated screen, its new front bumper, many aero mods (carbonfibre splitter, blade-like side skirts, rear diffuser and deck-mounted rear wing) and its nose stripes and racing roundels. The owner explained that he is not allowed to put a number on the roundel for road use, and he is also agonising over whether to put on a front number plate, as it would spoil the looks of the car. The Project 7 starts as a standard V8 drophead, with its 5.0-litre supercharged engine modified to produce 567bhp, which is 25bhp more than an F-Type R Coupé and 516lb ft of torque (15lb ft more). Proportionally speaking, these aren’t huge increases, but they’re delivered via unique throttle maps that let you feel the extra energy from around 2500rpm and these figures do make this the most powerful Jaguar ever made. Combine this with the benefits of a 45kg weight reduction (35kg of this comes from that rather ungainly “get you home” hood and the seats have race-bred carbonfibre shells) and you get an F-Type capable of the 0-60mph sprint in 3.8sec. The top speed is electronically limited to 186mph or 300km/h, as with other F-Types. With the exhaust butterflies open (there’s a special console switch), the car emits a superb growl-bark that turns into a magnificent crackle on the overrun. It’s the one thing that makes you want to slow down, though we did not get the real benefit of this as the car was driven, carefully around the rough and cobbled surfaces of the Square. A lot of the engineering effort spend on developing the car was in rebalancing the suspension and aerodynamics for high-speed duty. Font negative camber was increased from 0.5 to 1.5deg, to encourage the front wheels to dig in, and rear torque vectoring – differential braking of the rear wheels – is there to make the car turn easily. The car’s rear-biased aerodynamic downforce was addressed by fitting side skirts and a large front splitter, while slightly reducing the effectiveness (and drag) of the bootlid wing. Project Seven is fitted with all the top-end running gear: eight-speed Quickshift transmission, electronic differential, carbon-ceramic brakes, unique-tune adaptive dampers and its own special settings for engine management and chassis stability control. The Project 7 also has unique springs and anti-roll bars, the most prominent feature being front springs that are a stonking 80% stiffer, to cope with the potential force generated by the brakes and withstand turn-in loads at high speed on the soft standard Continental Force tyres. Engineers also moved the Sport and standard suspension settings further apart, to provide good options for short and long-distance use. The modifications are apparently most obvious on track, and Jaguar SVO reckon most owners will take their cars there as part of the limited mileage that they will probably cover in an average year.
The Jensen C-V8, a four-seater GT, was launched in October 1962, It had fibreglass bodywork with aluminium door skins, as did the preceding 541 series. All C-V8s used big-block engines sourced from Chrysler; first the 361 and then, from 1964, the 330 bhp 383 in³. Most of the cars had three-speed Chrysler Torqueflite automatic transmission, but seven Mk2 C-V8s were produced with the 6-litre engine and four-speed manual gearbox , followed by two manual Mk3s. While the great majority of C-V8s were made in right-hand drive, ten were made in left-hand drive. The car was one of the fastest production four-seaters of its era. The Mk II, capable of 136 mph, ran a quarter mile in 14.6 seconds, and accelerated from 0–60 mph in 6.7 seconds. The upgraded Mk II, introduced in October 1963, had Selectaride rear dampers and minor styling changes. Changes on the Mk III, the final version of the series which was introduced in June 1965, included a minor reduction in overall length, deeper windscreen, equal size headlamps without chrome bezels, improved interior ventilation, wood-veneer dashboard, the addition of overriders to the bumpers, and a dual-circuit braking system. The factory made two convertibles: a cabriolet, and a Sedanca that opened only above the front seats. The front of the C-V8 was styled with covered headlamps, similar to those on the Ferrari 275 GTB and Jaguar 3.8 E-type as a key element of the design. But because of concerns that they might reduce the effectiveness of the headlamps, the covers were deleted for the production cars. As a consequence the C-V8’s front-end appearance was compromised and proved controversial for decades. Owners are now starting to return their cars to the original streamlined styling intended by the car’s designer Eric Neale. The model was discontinued in 1966 after a total production run of 500. The fibreglass body, and the fact that the twin-tube frame was set in from the perimeter of the car, have contributed to the model’s comparatively high survival rate.
This is a 3.5 litre car dating from 1935.
Sole Lamborghini, and of course, a current model, was this attention-grabbing Huracan.
Designed by Vittorio Jano, the Lancia Aurelia was launched in 1950 and production lasted until the summer of 1958.The very first Aurelias were the B10 Berlinas. They used the first production V6 engine, a 60° design developed by Francesco de Virgilio who was, between 1943 and 1948 a Lancia engineer, and who worked under Jano. The first cars had a capacity of 1754 cc, and generated 56 hp. During production, capacity grew from 1.8 litres to 2.5 litres across six distinct Series. Prototype engines used a bore and stroke of 68 mm x 72 mm for 1569 cc; these were tested between 1946 and 1948. It was an all-alloy pushrod design with a single camshaft between the cylinder banks. A hemispherical combustion chamber and in-line valves were used. A single Solex or Weber carburettor completed the engine. Some uprated 1991 cc models were fitted with twin carburettors. At the rear was an innovative combination transaxle with the gearbox, clutch, differential, and inboard-mounted drum brakes. The front suspension was a sliding pillar design, with rear semi-trailing arms replaced by a de Dion tube in the Fourth series. The Aurelia was also first car to be fitted with radial tyres as standard equipment. Aurelia was named after Via Aurelia, a Roman road leading from Rome to France. The B21 version was released in 1951 with a larger 1991 cc 70 hp engine and a 2-door B20 GT coupé appeared that same year. It had a shorter wheelbase and a Ghia-designed, Pininfarina-built body. The same 1991 cc engine produced 75 hp in the B20. In all, 500 first series Aurelias were produced. This is generally believed to the first car to use the name GT, or Gran Turismo. The B20 GT Aurelia had a successful career in motorsport, too. In the 1951 Mille Miglia the 2-litre Aurelia, driven by Giovanni Bracco and Umberto Maglioli, finished 2nd beaten only by the Ferrari America. The same year it took first in class and 12th overall at LeMans. Modified Aurelias took the first three places on 1952’s Targa Florio with Felice Bonetto as the winner and another win on Lièges-Rome-Lièges of 1953.
As has been the case the last couple of times I’ve been here, there were plenty of classic Land Rover models here, ranging from a nicely presented Series 1 to more recent ones. They were joined by a first generation Range Rover.
The original Elan was introduced in 1962 as a roadster, although an optional hardtop was offered in 1963 and a coupé version appeared in 1965, and there were examples of all of these here. The two-seat Lotus Elan replaced the elegant, but unreliable and expensive to produce Lotus Elite. It was the first Lotus road car to use a steel backbone chassis with a fibreglass body. At 1,600 lb (726 kg), the Elan embodied the Colin Chapman minimum weight design philosophy. Initial versions of the Elan were also available as a kit to be assembled by the customer. The Elan was technologically advanced with a DOHC 1557 cc engine, 4-wheel disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, and 4-wheel independent suspension. Gordon Murray, who designed the spectacular McLaren F1 supercar, reportedly said that his only disappointment with the McLaren F1 was that he couldn’t give it the perfect steering of the Lotus Elan. This generation of the two-seater Elan was famously driven by the character Emma Peel on the 1960s British television series The Avengers. The “Lotus TwinCam” engine was based on Ford Kent Pre-Crossflow 4-cylinder 1498 cc engine, with a Harry Mundy-designed 2 valve alloy chain-driven twin-cam head. The rights to this design was later purchased by Ford, who renamed it to “Lotus-Ford Twin Cam”. It would go on to be used in a number of Ford and Lotus production and racing models. Seen here was an example of the Sprint and one of the later S4 cars.
There was also a Plus 2 here. Introduced in 1967, the Elan +2 had a longer wheelbase and two rear seats and so was intended for those Lotus customers who needed space to carry (small) people in the back, without sacrificing the same basic principles which made the Elan so appealing. A fast and agile sport coupe, a number of different engines were fitted over the years, with the later models having 130 bhp and a 5 speed gearbox at their disposal, which gave a top speed of 120 mph and 0–60 acceleration of 7.9 seconds and 0-100 mph 21.8 seconds. 5,200 Elans +2 were made, with production ceasing in 1975. Fewer than 1,200 of these cars remain on the roads today. Their relative rarity, beautiful lines, impressive performance and practicality are the main factors for the rising interest on these cars among collectors.
First mid-engined road-going Lotus was the Europa. The concept originated during 1963 with drawings by Ron Hickman, director of Lotus Engineering (Designer of the original Lotus Elan, as well as inventor of the Black and Decker Workmate), for a bid on the Ford GT40 project. That contract went to Lola Cars as Colin Chapman wanted to call the car a Lotus and Henry Ford II insisted it would be called Ford. Chapman chose to use Hickman’s aerodynamic design which had a drag coefficient of Cd 0.29 for the basis for the Europa production model. The car was originally intended to succeed the Lotus 7. Volkswagen owned the rights to the Europa name in Germany so cars for sale in Germany were badged Europe rather than Europa. The original Europa used Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s minimalist steel backbone chassis that was first used in the Lotus Elan, while also relying on its fibreglass moulded body for structural strength. The four-wheel independent suspension was typical of Chapman’s thinking. The rear suspension was a modified Chapman strut, as used for Chapman’s earlier Formula racing car designs. Owing to the rubber suspension bushes used to isolate engine vibration from the car body, the true Chapman strut’s use of the drive shaft as the lower locating link could not be followed whilst still giving the precise track and handling desired. The forward radius arms were increased in size and rigidity, to act as a semi-wishbone. A careful compromise between engine mounting bush isolation and handling was required, culminating eventually in a sandwich bush that was flexible against shear but stiff in compression and tension. The car’s handling prompted automotive writers to describe the Europa as the nearest thing to a Formula car for the road. Aside from the doors, bonnet, and boot, the body was moulded as a single unit of fibreglass. The first cars has Renault 1470cc engines, and suffered from a number of quality issues as well as limited visibility. An S2, released in 1968 brought improvements to the build quality, but Lotus knew that the Renault engine was not powerful enough for what they thought the car could achieve on track and on the road, so the Europa underwent another update in 1971 when the Type 74 Europa Twin Cam was made available to the public, with a 105 bhp 1557cc Lotus-Ford Twin Cam engine and a re-designed bodyshell to improve rearward visibility. Initially with the same gearbox as the earlier cars, once the supply had been exhausted in 1972 a new stronger Renault four-speed gearbox was introduced. Mike Kimberley, who rose to become chief executive of Group Lotus, then a new engineer at Lotus, was appointed Chief Engineer of the Europa TC project. 1,580 cars were shipped as Europa “Twin Cam” before Lotus switched to a 126 bhp “Big Valve” version of the engine. The big valve “Europa Special” version was aspirated by Dell’Orto carburettors version of the same engine; in addition it also offered a new Renault five-speed (Type 365) gearbox option. It weighed 740 kg (1631 lb), Motor magazine famously tested a UK Special to a top speed of 123 mph, did 0–60 mph in 6.6 seconds, and ran the 1/4 mile in 14.9 sec. This at a time when all road tests were carried out with both a driver and passenger, with only the driver on board the 0–60 mph time would have been well under 6 seconds, a phenomenal performance for the period. Introduced in September 1972 the first 100 big valve cars were badged and painted to honour the just won Team Lotus’ 1972 F1 World Championship title with John Player Special as sponsors, all with five-speed gearbox, these were all black with gold pin stripe matching the livery of the GP cars – plus a numbered JPS dash board badge, becoming the first ever John Player Special commemorative motor vehicles. The “Special” name and colour scheme was planned to be dropped after the first 200 cars, reverting to the Twin Cam name, but such was the reaction to the new car that the name and pin stripe scheme remained until the end of Europa Production although colours other than black were made available. In the end only the numbered plaque distinguishing the first 100 JPS cars from other black Europa Specials. According to Lotus sources, no Special left the factory with “numbered JPS badges” or “JPS stickers” – these were added by the American importer & weren’t official done by Lotus. There were no “badged” cars sold in the UK, Australia, etc, just in the USA. In total 4710 Type 74s were produced of which 3130 were “Specials”.
In 1987, a new version of the Esprit was unveiled, incorporating rounder styling cues given by designer Peter Stevens (who later designed the McLaren F1). A new Lotus patented process was introduced to create the new body, called the VARI (Vacuum Assisted Resin Injection) process, which offered more advantages than the previous hand laid process. Kevlar reinforcement was added to the roof and sides for roll-over protection, resulting in an increase of the Esprit’s torsional rigidity by 22 percent. Giugiaro is said to have liked the restyling, claiming it was perhaps too close to his original design. The Stevens styled cars retained the mechanical components of the previous High Compression Esprit and Turbo Esprit, but introduced a stronger Renault transaxle, which necessitated a move to outboard rear brakes. However, the MY 1988 North American Esprit Turbo kept its Citroën SM type transaxle and the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system used in the previous model year. The car’s Type 910 engine retained 215 bhp and 220 lb·ft, but decreased its zero to sixty from 5.6 seconds to a varied time between 5.4 – 5.1 seconds and a top speed of over 150 mph. The exterior style changes were accompanied by a redesign of the interior, allowing a little more space for the occupants. The Stevens styled Esprit is often known by its project code of X180. In 1989, the Esprit was again improved with the GM multi-port, electronic fuel injection system and the addition of a water to air intercooler, which Lotus has named the Chargecooler, producing the SE (Special Equipment). This inline-four engine was known as the Type 910S. Horsepower was pushed up to 264 with 280 available on overboost and zero to sixty miles per hour times reduced to 4.7 seconds with a top speed of over 160 mph. Several modifications were made to the body kit as well, like side skirts which are parallel to the body, five air ducts in the front air dam, wing mirrors from the Citroën CX and the addition of a rear wing. Along with the SE, Lotus produced the little seen Esprit S, a midrange turbocharged car offering fewer appointments and 228 hp, as well as the standard turbo still offering 215 hp . The N/A and lower-powered turbo were cancelled after 1990, and the S in 1991. Another unusual variant was a two-litre “tax special” developed for the Italian market, fitted with an intercooled and turbocharged version of a new 1,994 cc version of the venerable 900-series four-cylinder engine. Equipped with SE trim, this appeared in December 1991 and produced 243 PS at 6,250 rpm. Beginning in the autumn of 1996, this engine became available in other markets as well. The Esprit was a popular and successful addition to the American IMSA Bridgestone Supercar Championship and as a result Lotus produced the SE-based X180R, with horsepower bumped to 300 and with racing appointments. The Sport 300 was a derivative of the X180R sold in Europe, which included many modifications. These are known as the fastest of the four-cylinder Esprits and among the most desirable. In 1993, another exterior and interior revamp of the car resulted in the S4 which was the first model to include power steering. The exterior redesign was done by Julian Thompson, which included a smaller rear spoiler placed halfway up the rear decklid. Other major changes were to the front and rear bumpers, side skirts and valence panels. New five spoke alloy wheels were also included in the redesign. The S4 retained the same horsepower as the SE at 264 hp.The S4 was succeeded in 1994 by the S4s (S4 sport), which upped power to 300 bhp and 290 lb·ft of torque, improving all-around performance while retaining the comfort of the previous version. Top speed was increased to 168 mph, skidpad increased to 0.91g, an increased slalom of 61.7 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 4.6 seconds. Although the engine kept its 2.2-litre capacity, many modifications were added to improve engine performance. Some of the changes were enlarged inlet ports, cylinder head modifications, a re-calibrated ECM and a revised turbocharger. The most visible external styling changes was the addition of a larger rear wing taken from the Sport 300. In 1996 the Esprit V8 used Lotus’ self-developed all-aluminium, twin-turbocharged (Garrett T25/60 turbos) 90-degree V-8, Code-named Type 918, in front of the same Renault transmission as before with no Chargecooler. Derek Bell developed an uprated gearbox that overcame a lot of the gearbox problems with a much thicker single piece input shaft. The Type 918 engine was detuned from a potential 500 bhp to 350 bhp to prevent gearbox damage due to the fragility of the Renault UN-1 transmission. In period tests, zero to sixty miles per hour came in at 4.4 seconds and top speeds of over 175 mph were achieved. Produced alongside V8 models was the GT3, a turbocharged four-cylinder car with the type 920 2.0 litre chargecooled and turbocharged engine which had been used only in Italian market cars previously. In 1998 the V8 range was split into SE and GT specifications, both cars with a much changed interior configuration, both offering similar performance with the SE being the more luxurious of the two. The ultimate incarnation of the Esprit came in 1999 with the Sport 350. Only 50 were made, each offering 350 horsepower (per the name) and various engine, chassis and braking improvements, like the addition of AP Racing brakes, stiffer springs and a revised ECU. Several visual changes were made as well, including the addition of a large carbon fibre rear wing on aluminium uprights in place of the standard fibreglass rear wing. By this time the Esprit could reach 60 mph in 4.3 seconds as well as reaching 0-100 mph in less than 10 seconds, and weighed 1,300 kg (2,866 lb) as a result of many modifications. Thereafter, Lotus made little development aside from minor cosmetic changes including a switch to four round tail lights for the 2002 model year. Esprit production ceased in February 2004 after a 28 year production run. A total of 10,675 Esprits were produced.
There has only ever been one front wheel drive model with Lotus badges on it, the “M100” Elan sports car. Like many specialist produced cars of the era, there was a long wait for this car form when news first broke that it was under development to the actual release of cars people could buy. The M100 Elan story goes back to 1986 and the purchase of Lotus by General Motors which provided the financial backing to develop a new, small, affordable car in the same spirit as the original Elan, the last of which had been built in December 1972. A development prototype, the M90 (later renamed the X100) had been built a few years earlier, using a fibreglass body designed by Oliver Winterbottom and a Toyota-supplied 1.6-litre engine and transmission. Lotus was hoping to sell the car through Toyota dealerships worldwide, badged as a Lotus Toyota, but the project never came to fruition and the prototype was shelved, although Lotus’s collaboration with Toyota had some influence on the design of the Toyota MR2. The idea of a small roadster powered by an outsourced engine remained, however, and in late 1986 Peter Stevens’s design for the Type M100 was approved and work began by Lotus engineers to turn the clay styling buck into a car that could be built. This process was completed in just under three years, a remarkably short time from design to production car. The M100 Elan was conceived as a mass-market car and in particular one that would appeal to US buyers. Consequently, Lotus put an enormous effort (for such a small firm) into testing the car; over a two-year period 19 crash cars and 42 development vehicles were built, logging nearly a million test miles in locations from Arizona to the Arctic. The Elan was driven at racing speeds for 24 hours around the track at Snetterton. Finally each new car was test-driven for around 30 miles at Lotus’s Hethel factory to check for any manufacturing defects before being shipped to dealers. The choice of front-wheel drive is unusual for a sports car, but according to Lotus sales literature, “for a given vehicle weight, power and tyre size, a front wheel drive car was always faster over a given section of road. There were definite advantages in traction and controllability, and drawbacks such as torque steer, bump steer and steering kickback were not insurmountable.” This was the only front-wheel-drive vehicle made by Lotus. Every model made since the M100 Elan, such as the Lotus Elise, has been rear-wheel drive. The M100 Elan’s cornering performance was undeniable (on release the Elan was described by Autocar magazine as “the quickest point to point car available”). Press reaction was not uniformly positive, as some reviewers found the handling too secure and predictable compared to a rear-wheel-drive car. However, the Elan’s rigid chassis minimised roll through the corners and has led to its description as ‘the finest front wheel drive [car] bar none’. Unlike the naturally aspirated version, the turbocharged SE received power steering as standard, as well as tyres with a higher ZR speed rating. The M100 Elan used a 1,588 cc double overhead camshaft (DOHC) 16-valve engine, sourced from the Isuzu Gemini and extensively modified by Lotus (a third generation of this engine was later used in the Isuzu Impulse), which produced 162 hp. 0–60 acceleration time was measured by Autocar and Motor magazine at 6.5 seconds, and a top speed of 137 mph was recorded. Significant differences in the Isuzu-Lotus engine from the original include a new exhaust system, re-routed intake plumbing for better thermodynamic efficiency, improved engine suspension, and major modifications to the engine control unit to improve torque and boost response. Almost all models featured an IHI turbocharger. Two variants were available at launch, the 130 bhp Elan 1.6 (retailing at £17,850) and the 162 bhp Turbo SE (£19,850). Initial sales were disappointing, perhaps because its launch coincided with a major economic recession in the UK and USA, and perhaps also because it coincided with the cheaper Mazda MX-5 which was arguably similar in concept, though the MX-5 was quite intentionally nostalgic and old fashioned (apeing the original Elan), while the M100 was deliberately futuristic, modern and forward looking. The Elan was regarded as a good product in a bad market, but was also very expensive to make (the cost to design and produce the dashboard alone was more than the total cost of the Excel production line), and sales figures were too low to recoup its huge development costs. Altogether 3,855 Elans were built between November 1989 and July 1992, including 129 normally aspirated (non-turbo) cars. 559 of them were sold in the US, featuring a ‘stage 2 body’ which had a different rear boot spoiler arrangement together with a lengthened nose to accommodate a USA-compliant crash structure and airbag, and 16-inch wheels (optional in most markets, standard in the U.S.) instead of 15-inch as on the UK model. A limited edition of 800 Series 2 (S2) M100 Elans was released during the Romano Artioli era (produced June 1994–September 1995) when it was discovered that enough surplus engines were available to make this possible. According to Autocar magazine, the S2 addressed some of the concerns over handling, but power was reduced to 155 bhp and the 0–60 acceleration time increased to 7.5 seconds, due to the legislative requirement to fit a catalytic converter in all markets. The S2s have very similar performance to the USA vehicles, having an identical engine management system calibration and a slightly lower overall vehicle weight.
It is now over 20 years since Lotus launched the Elise, a model which showed a return to the core values of simplicity and light-weight which were cornerstones of Colin Chapman’s philosophy when he founded the marque in 1955. The first generation Elise was produced for just over 4 years, with a replacement model, the Series 2 arriving in October 2000. It came about as the Series 1 could not be produced beyond the 2000 model production year due to new European crash sustainability regulations. Lacking the funding to produce a replacement, Lotus needed a development partner to take a share of investment required for the new car. General Motors offered to fund the project, in return for a badged and GM-engined version of the car for their European brands, Opel and Vauxhall. The result was therefore two cars, which although looking quite different, shared much under the skin: a Series 2 Elise and the Vauxhall VX220 and Opel Speedster duo. The Series 2 Elise was a redesigned Series 1 using a slightly modified version of the Series 1 chassis to meet the new regulations, and the same K-series engine with a brand new Lotus-developed ECU. The design of the body paid homage to the earlier M250 concept, and was the first Lotus to be designed by computer. Both the Series 2 Elise and the Opel Speedster/Vauxhall VX220 were built on the same production line, in a new facility at Hethel. Both cars shared many parts, including the chassis, although they had different drive-trains and power-plants. The VX220 carried the Lotus internal model identification Lotus 116, with the code name Skipton for the launch 2.2 normally aspirated version and Tornado for the 2 litre Turbo which came out in 2004. Fitted with 17 inch over the Elise’s 16 inch front wheels, the Vauxhall/Opel version ceased production in late 2005 and was replaced by the Opel GT for February 2007, with no RHD version for the United Kingdom. The Elise lived on. and indeed is still in production now, some 15 years later, though there have been countless different versions produced in that time. Whilst the first of the Series 2 cars came with the Rover K-Series engine, and that included the 111S model which had the VVC engine technology producing 160 hp (119 kW), a change came about in 2005 when Lotus started to use Toyota engines. This was initially due to Lotus’ plans to introduce the Elise to the US market, meaning that an engine was needed which would comply with US emissions regulations. The selected 1.8 litre (and later 1.6 litre) Toyota units did, and the K-series did not. that MG-Rover went out of business in 2005 and engine production ceased confirmed the need for the change. Since then, Lotus have offered us track focused Elise models like the 135R and Sport 190, with 135 bhp and 192 bhp respectively, as well as the 111R, the Sport Racer, the Elise S and Elise R. In 2008 an even more potent SC model, with 218 bhp thanks to a non-intercooled supercharger was added to the range. In February 2010, Lotus unveiled a facelifted version of the second generation Elise. The new headlights are now single units; triangular in shape they are somewhat larger than the earlier lights. The cheapest version in Europe now has a 1.6 litre engine to comply with Euro 5 emissions, with the same power output as the earlier 1.8 136bhp car. Lotus has been through some difficult times in recent years, but things are looking more optimistic again, with production numbers having risen significantly in the last couple of years, after a period when next to no cars were made. The Elise is still very much part of the range. Seen here were an array of Series 1 and Series 2 models.
There were a couple of Exige models here, too. The earliest cars were little more than a fixed roof version of the Elise with the most potent K Series *the 190 bhp VHPD version) installed. More recently the car has established its own identity, and crept further upmarket with its 3.5 litre Toyota engines.
Developed under the project name Project Eagle, this car was launched as the Evora on 22 July 2008 at the British International Motor Show. The Evora is based on the first all-new vehicle platform from Lotus Cars since the introduction of the Lotus Elise in 1995 (the Exige, introduced in 2000, and the 2006 Europa S are both derivatives of the Elise. Evora was planned to be the first vehicle of three to be built on the same platform and was the first product of a five-year plan started in 2006 to expand the Lotus line-up beyond its track-specialised offerings, with the aim of making Evora a somewhat of a more practical road car that would appeal to the mainstream. As such it is a larger car than recent Lotus models Elise and its derivatives (Exige, Europa S, etc.), with an unladen weight of 1,383 kg (3,049 lb). It is currently the only Lotus model with a 2+2 configuration, although it is also offered in a two-seater configuration, referred to as the “Plus Zero” option. It is also the only 2+2 mid engined coupé on sale. The interior is larger to allow taller persons of 6’5″ to fit. The cooled boot behind the engine is large enough to fit a set of golf clubs, although Lotus Design Head Russell Carr denies that this was intentional. Lotus intends Evora to compete with different market sectors including the Porsche Cayman. The name “Evora” keeps the Lotus tradition of beginning model names with an “E”. The name is derived from the words evolution, vogue, and aura. and it of course sounds similar to Évora, which is the name of a Portuguese city and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sales started in summer 2009, with an annual target of 2000 cars per year, with prices between £45,000 and just over £50,000. and in America from the beginning of 2010. The Evora received several accolades at its launch from the British motoring press, including: Britain’s Best Driver’s Car 2009 from Autocar and Car of the Year 2009, from Evo. Sales, however, were far from target, as the car was seen as too costly. A more powerful Evora S was launched in 2010 with a supercharged equipped 3.5-litre V6. A facelifted and more powerful Evora 400 model was unveiled at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.
There seemed to be just one Maserati in the entire event, a 224 24v Coupe, one of a large number of variants of the BiTurbo family. Maserati replaced their entire range in 1981 with the BiTurbo. Introduced initially as a single model, a 2 door coupe with a 2 litre twin-turbo V6 engine, over the next 15 years, it would evolve into a complex range of different models, and three basic bodystyles, as well as the special low-volume Karif and V8 engined Shamal cars. The car was designed by Pierangelo Andreani, Chief of Centro Stile Maserati up to 1981, and was somewhat influenced by the design of the recent Quattroporte III. The BiTurbo marked quite a change of direction for the Modense firm, a consequence of its acquisition by Alejandro de Tomaso in 1976. de Tomaso’s ambitious plans for the marque were to combine the prestige of the Maserati brand with a sports car that would be more affordable than the earlier high-priced models that had traditionally made up the Maserati range. The Biturbo was initially a strong seller and brought Italian prestige to a wide audience, with sales of about 40,000 units, but it quickly became apparent that the quality of the car was way off what the market expected, and the car is not regarded as one of the marque’s better models. Indeed, the Biturbo is number 28 in the BBC book of “Crap Cars” and in 2007 was selected as Time Magazine’s worst car of 1984, although they ranked the Chrysler TC by Maserati as a “greater ignominy”. Between 1987–89 a facelift was phased in, which helped to soften the sharp bodylines. The redesign included a taller and more rounded grille with mesh grille and bonnet, aerodynamic wing mirrors and 15″ disc-shaped alloy wheels, now mounted on 5-lug hubs. Some models received the wraparound bumpers with integral foglights and the deep sills introduced with the 2.24v. In 1991 the entire lineup was restyled for a second time, again by the hand of Marcello Gandini; the design features introduced with the Shamal were spread to the other models. Gandini, the Shamal’s designer, developed an aerodynamic kit that included a unique spoiler at the base of the windscreen hiding the windshield wipers, a rear spoiler, and side skirts. The new two-element headlights used poli-ellypsoidal projectors developed by Magneti-Marelli. Inset in body-colour housings, they flanked a redesigned grille, slimmer and integrated in the bonnet; the 1988 bumpers were adopted by all models. The 15″ disc-shaped alloys were replaced by new 16″ seven-spoke wheels, with a hubcap designed to look like a centerlock nut. The second facelift was referred to as “nuovolook”. The engines underwent change, too. As well as being the first ever production car with a twin-turbocharged engine, it was also the first production car engine with three valves per cylinder. The aluminium 90-degree SOHC V6 engine was roughly based on the 2.0 litre Merak engine, itself based on earlier V8 Formula One Maserati engines, designed by Giulio Alfieri. Because in Italy new cars with engine displacement over 2000 cc were subjected to a 38% value added tax, against 19% on smaller displacement cars, throughout the Biturbo’s production life there were both two-litre models aimed mainly at the domestic market and “export” versions, initially with a 2.5 litre V6. The carburettor 2.5 unit produced 185 hp and 208 lb·ft of torque in North American spec and slightly more elsewhere. Fuel injection was fitted in 1987 raising power to 187 hp. In 1989 the enlarged 2.8 litre engine bumped power to 225 hp and 246 lb·ft of torque for North America and 250 PS for Europe. In 1988, with the coupés being restyled, the Biturbo name was dropped in favour of 222—meaning 2-door, 2-litre engine and 2nd generation. The car carried all the visual clues of Gandini’s first facelift, with a more rounded grille and bonnet, different wing mirrors and rear spoiler. The engine size of the 222 E export model grew from the Biturbo’s 2.5- to 2.8-litres. A mixed velour-leather interior was standard on the domestic models, while export markets got leather upholstery as standard. 1990 saw the arrival of the 2.8 litre 222 SE, heir to the Biturbo ES. It inherited the latter’s limited paint finish availability (red, silver or black) and the dark trim and grille, while modern aprons and side skirts (blacked out as well) came from the 2.24v. After just a year the 222 SE was replaced by the 1991-restyled 222 SR; the SR offered adaptive suspension as an option. Simultaneously the very similar 222 4v. joined the lineup; it was a 222 SR with a 2.8 litre four-valve engine, the first DOHC car in the direct Biturbo E lineage. It used wider, 16″ 7-spoke wheels.
There were a couple of examples of the W123 generation here, a Coupe and a Saloon. Mercedes-Benz introduced the W123 four-door versions on 29 January 1976. While there were some technical similarities to their predecessors, the new models were larger in wheelbase and exterior dimensions. The styling was also updated, although stylistic links with the W114 / W115 were maintained. Initially, all models except 280/280E featured quad unequal-size round headlights and the latter large rectangular units. When facelifted, these units became standard across the range. All W115 engines were carried over, with the 3-litre 5-cylinder diesel model being renamed from “240D 3.0” to “300D” (as it had already been called before in North American markets). The only new engine was the 250’s 2,525 cc inline-six (Type M123, a short-stroke version of the 2.8-litre six Type M110) that replaced the old 2,496 cc Type M114 “six”. In the spring of 1976, a Coupé version was introduced on a shorter wheelbase than the saloon (106.7 in versus 110.0 in). This W123C/CE was available as a 230C (later 230CE) and as a 280C/CE in most markets; in North America there were additional 300CD versions with naturally aspirated, later turbocharged 3-litre diesel engines. In North America, buyers favored diesel engines for upmarket cars, while CAFE legislation meant that Mercedes-Benz North America had to lower their corporate average fuel economy. This led to the introduction of a few diesel models only sold in the United States. It is a tribute to the car’s instant popularity – and possibly to the caution built into the production schedules – that nine months after its introduction, a black market had developed in Germany for Mercedes-Benz W123s available for immediate delivery. Customers willing to order new cars from their local authorised dealer for the recommended list price faced waiting times in excess of twelve months. Meanwhile, models that were barely used and were available almost immediately commanded a premium over the new price of around DM 5,000. From August 1976, long-wheelbase versions (134.8 in) were produced. These were available as 7/8 seater saloons with works bodies or as a chassis with complete front body clip, the latter serving as the base for ambulance and hearse bodies by external suppliers like Binz or Miesen. These “Lang” versions could be ordered as 240D, 300D and 250 models. At the Frankfurt Auto Show in September, 1977 the W123T estate was introduced; the T in the model designation stood for “Touring and Transport”. All engines derivative except “200TD” were available in the range. T production began in March, 1978 in Mercedes’ Bremen factory. It was the first factory-built Mercedes-Benz estate, previous estates had been custom-built by external coachbuilders, such as Binz. In early 1979, the diesel models’ power output was increased; power rose from 54 hp to 59 hp in the 200D, from 64 hp to 71 hp in the 240D and from 79 hp to 87 hp in the 300D; at the same time, the 220D went out of production. The first Mercedes turbo diesel production W123 appeared in September, 1981. This was the 300 TD Turbodiesel, available with automatic transmission only. In most markets, the turbocharged 5-cylinder 3-litre diesel engine (Type OM617.95) was offered only in the T body style, while in North America it was also available in saloon and coupé guises. June 1980 saw the introduction of new four-cylinder petrol engines (Type M102). A new 2-litre four with shorter stroke replaced the old M115, a fuel-injected 2.3-litre version of this engine (in 230E/TE/CE) the old carburettor 230. Both engines were more powerful than their predecessors. In 1980/81, the carburettor 280 versions went out of production; the fuel-injected 280E continued to be offered. In September 1982, all models received a mild facelift. The rectangular headlights, previously fitted only to the 280/280E, were standardised across the board, as was power steering. Since February 1982, an optional five-speed manual transmission was available in all models (except the automatic-only 300 turbodiesel). W123 production ended in January, 1986 with 63 final T-models rolling out. Most popular single models were the 240D (455,000 built), the 230E (442,000 built), and the 200D (378,000 built). The W123 introduced innovations including ABS (optional from August, 1980), a retractable steering column and an airbag for the driver (optional from 1982). Power (vacuum servo) assisted disc brakes were standard on all W123s. Available options included MB-Tex (Mercedes-Benz Texturized Punctured Vinyl) upholstery or velour or leather upholstery, interior wood trim, passenger side exterior mirror (standard on T models), 5-speed manual transmission (European market only), 4-speed automatic transmission (standard in turbodiesel models), power windows with rear-seat switch cut-outs, vacuum powered central locking, rear-facing extra seats (estate only), Standheizung (prestart timer-controlled engine heating), self-locking differential, sun roof, air conditioning, climate control, “Alpine” horn (selectable quieter horn), headlamp wipers (European market only), Tempomat (cruise control), power steering (standard after 1982/08), seat heating, catalytic converter (available from 1984 for California only, from fall (autumn) 1984 also in Germany for the 230E of which one thousand were built). These days, the cars are very popular “youngtimer” classics, with all models highly rated.
It is quite sobering to realise that the W201 is now a 35 year old design. Mercedes spent over £600 million researching and developing the 190 and subsequently said it was ‘massively over-engineered’. It marked a new venture for Mercedes-Benz, finally giving it a new smaller model to compete with the likes of the BMW 3 Series. The W201-based 190 was introduced in November 1982, and was sold in right-hand drive for the UK market from September 1983. Local red tape in Bremen (which produced commercial vehicles at the time) prevented Daimler-Benz from building the 190 there, so production was started in Sindelfingen at a capacity of just 140,000 units per year. Eventually after just the first year, Bremen was cleared for production of the 190, replacing its commercial vehicle lines, and there the 190 was built with the first running modifications since release. Initially there were just two models, the 190 and 190 E. Each was fitted with an M102 1,997 cc displacement engine. The 190 was fitted with an M102.921 90 hp engine and the 190 E fitted with an M102.962 122 hp engine. In September 1983, the 190 E 2.3 (2,299 cc) was released for the North American market only (although a 190 E 2.3 appeared in other countries later), fitted with a 113 hp M102.961 engine. This reduction in power was due to the emissions standards in the North American market at the time. The intake manifold, camshaft, and fuel injection system were refined in 1984, and the engine produced 122 hp. The carburettor 190 was revised in 1984 as well, increasing its horsepower rating to 105 hp. 1984 also saw the arrival of the 2.3-16 “Cosworth.” In 1985, the 190 E 2.3 now came fitted with the M102.985 engine, producing 130 hp until it was revised in 1987 to use Bosch KE3-Jetronic Injection, a different ignition system, and a higher compression ratio, producing 136 hp. 1987 marked the arrival of the first inline-six equipped 190, the 190 E 2.6. Fitted with the M103.940 engine, the 190 E 2.6 provided 160 hp with a catalyst and 164 hp without. In the North American market, the 190 E 2.6 was sold until 1993, the end of W201 production. From 1992-1993 the 2.6 was available as a special “Sportline” model, with an upgraded suspension and interior. The 190 E 2.3 was sold until 1988, then went on a brief hiatus until it was sold again from 1991 until 1993. The W201 190 D is known for its extreme reliability and ruggedness with many examples doing more than 500,000 miles without any major work. The 190 D was available in three different engines. The 2.0 was the baseline, and was never marketed in North America. The 2.2, with the same power as the 2.0, was introduced in September 1983. It was only available in model years 1984 and 1985, and only in the USA and Canada. The 2.5 was available in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The 2.5 Turbo, while sold in mainland Europe, but not the UK for many years, was available to American buyers only in 1987 and is now somewhat of a collectors item. The exterior of the 2.5 Turbo is different from other models in that it has fender vents in the front passenger side wing for the turbo to breathe. Although the early cars were very basic and not very powerful, they sold strongly, and things only got better as the model evolved, with the result that over 1.8 million had been produced by the time the W202 model arrived in 2002 to replace it.
Oldest MG here was this pair of J2 models. The J-type was produced from 1932 to 1934. This 2-door sports car used an updated version of the overhead camshaft, crossflow engine, used in the 1928 Morris Minor and Wolseley 10 and previously fitted in the MG M-type Midget of 1929 to 1932, driving the rear wheels through a four-speed non-synchromesh gearbox. The chassis was from the D-Type with suspension by half-elliptic springs and Hartford friction shock absorbers all round with rigid front and rear axles. The car had a wheelbase of 86″ and a track of 42″. Most cars were open two-seaters, but a closed salonette version of the J1 was also made, and some chassis were supplied to external coachbuilders. The open cars can be distinguished from the M type by having cut-away tops to the doors. Small numbers of J3 and J4 models, designed for racing, were made and the J1 was the four seater model in the range, but by far the most common were the J2 models, such as this one. The 847cc engine gave the car a top speed of 65 mph, although The Autocar managed to get nearly 20 mph more than that from a specially prepared one that they tested in 1933. The most serious of the J2’s technical failings is that has only a two-bearing crankshaft, which could break if over-revved. The overhead camshaft is driven by a vertical shaft through bevel gears, which also forms the armature of the dynamo. Thus any oil leak from the cambox seal goes into the dynamo brushgear, presenting a fire hazard. Rather than hydraulic brakes the car has Bowden cables to each drum. Although requiring no more pedal force than any other non-power-assisted drum brake if they are well maintained, the drums themselves are small, and even in period it was a common modification to replace them with larger drums from later models. Nonetheless, the car was quite popular, and at £199, was relatively affordable.
This is a replica K3. Launched at the 1932 London Motor Show, the K-Type replaced the F-Type Magna but having at first a slightly smaller capacity engine it took the name Magnette. The chassis was similar to the Magna but strengthened and had the track increased by 6 inches to 48 inches and was available in two lengths with a wheelbase of either 94 inches or 108 inches. The steering was modified with a patented divided track rod which was claimed to reduce kick back at the steering wheel. The brakes were cable operated with 13-inch (330 mm) drums made of “Elektron”, a light magnesium alloy, with shrunk in steel liners. Suspension by half-elliptic springs and Hartford friction shock absorbers all round with rigid front and rear axles. Wire wheels with 4.75 x 19 tyres and centre lock fixing were used. The engines were based on a Wolseley overhead camshaft design used first in the 1930 Wolseley Hornet and subsequently used by MG in the F-Type but subject to a major re-design. The stroke was reduced from 83 mm to 71 mm to reduce the capacity from 1272 cc to 1087 cc and a cross flow cylinder head fitted. Fitted at first with triple SU carburettors it produced 39 bhp at 5500 rpm. In early 1933 a modified version of the engine was announced that had improved valve timing and only two carburettors but the output was up at 41 bhp. This engine was called the KB and the previous version, which continued in use, the KA. In late 1933 they were joined by the KD with a larger 1271 cc capacity by returning to the F-Type stroke of 83 mm but with the improved cylinder head and timing power was up to 48.5 bhp. (The F-Type had only been rated at 37 bhp.) In addition there was the KC engine for the racing cars. This retained the 1087 cc capacity but with the aid of a supercharger power was up at 120 bhp at 6500 rpm. Drive was to the rear wheels through either a four-speed non-synchromesh gearbox or ENV made pre-selector type. All the road cars were capable of reaching 75 mph.The K3 was the racing variant and used the short chassis. The KC engine at first used a Powerplus supercharger replaced later by a Marshall-made one. They were prominently mounted in front of the engine below the radiator. Preselector gearboxes were used. They were successfully raced in 1933, winning the 1100 cc class in the Mille Miglia driven by Capt. George Eyston and Count Lurani and scoring an outright victory (on handicap) in the Ulster RAC Tourist Trophy (TT) race where the car was driven by Tazio Nuvolari at an average speed of 78.65 mph. The K3’s greatest international success came in the 1934 24 Hours of Le Mans, when chassis # K3027 finished 4th overall and won the Index of Performance, as driven by Lindsay Eccles and C.E.C. Martin. This car is on display at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, PA. The K3 attracted the great names of the racing world – Sir Tim Birkin of Bentley fame, Whitney Straight and ‘Hammy’ Hamilton. Only 33 were made and as well as the works cars they could be bought for £795 but subsequently quite a few replicas have been made often from the K1 and K2 models. The K3 raced well into the post-war period, and many of the cars did not survive intact. A car-by-car analysis shows that most of them had new bodies, engine changes, or were destroyed.
The first of the T Series sports cars appeared in 1936, to replace the PB. Visually they were initially quite similar, and as was the way in the 1930s, updates came frequently, so both TA and TB models were produced before global hostilities caused production to cease.
Whilst the TC, the first postwar MG and launched in 1945, was quite similar to the pre-war TB, sharing the same 1,250 cc pushrod-OHV engine, it had a slightly higher compression ratio of 7.4:1 giving 54.5 bhp at 5200 rpm. The makers also provided several alternative stages of tuning for “specific purposes”. It was exported to the United States, even though only ever built in right-hand drive. The export version had slightly smaller US specification sealed-beam headlights and larger twin rear lights, as well as turn signals and chrome-plated front and rear bumpers. The body of the TC was approximately 4 inches wider than the TB measured at the rear of the doors to give more cockpit space. The overall car width remained the same resulting in narrower running boards with two tread strips as opposed to the previous three. The tachometer was directly in front of the driver, while the speedometer was on the other side of the dash in front of the passenger. 10,001 TCs were produced, from September 1945 to Nov. 1949, more than any previous MG model. It cost £527 on the home market in 1947.
That car proved particularly popular with Americans who took the majority of production. It was replaced in 1950 by the TD, which combined the TC’s drivetrain, a modified hypoid-geared rear axle, the MG Y-type chassis, a familiar T-type style body and independent suspension using coil springs from the MG Y-type saloon. A 1950 road-test report described as “most striking” the resulting “transformation … in the comfort of riding”. Also lifted from the company’s successful 1¼-litre YA saloon for the TD was the (still highly geared) rack and pinion steering. In addition the TD featured smaller 15-inch disc type road wheels, a left-hand drive option and standard equipment bumpers and over-riders. The car was also 5 inches wider with a track of 50 inches. For the driver the “all-weather protection” was good by the standards of the time. For night driving, instrument illumination was “effective but not dazzling, by a pale green lighting effect”. There was still no fuel gauge, but the 12 gallon tank capacity gave a range between refuelling stops of about 300 miles and a green light on the facia flashed a “warning” when the fuel level was down to about 2½ gallons. In 1950 the TD MkII Competition Model was introduced, produced alongside the standard car, with a more highly tuned engine using an 8.1:1 compression ratio giving 57 bhp at 5,500 rpm. The higher compression ratio engine was offered with export markets in mind, and would not have been suitable for the UK, where thanks to the continued operation of wartime fuel restrictions, buyers were still limited to 72 octane “Pool petrol”. The TD MkII also featured twin fuel pumps, additional Andrex dampers, and a higher ratio rear-axle. Nearly 30,000 TDs had been produced, including about 1700 Mk II models, when the series ended in 1953 with all but 1656 exported, 23,488 of them to the US alone.
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.
As one of Britain’s most popular classic cars, it was no surprise to find several examples of the MGB here, with cars from throughout the model’s long life, both in Roadster and MGB GT guise, as well as one of the short-lived V8 engined cars. 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 were several Roadsters and MGB GT models here including an example of the Jubilee.
The MGC was produced as a sort of replacement for the Big Healey, though apart from sharing that car’s 3 litre straight six C Series engine, the reality is that the car was quite different and generally appealed to a different sort of customer. Or, if you look at the sales figures, you could say that it did not really appeal to anyone much, as the car struggled to find favour and buyers when new. More of a lazy grand tourer than an out and out sports car, the handling characteristics were less pleasing than in the B as the heavy engine up front did the car no favours. The market now, finally, takes a different view, though and if you want an MGC, in Roadster or the MGC GT form the latter of which was to be seen here, you will have to dig surprisingly deeply into your pocket.
Sitting alongside the MGB in the MG range was the smaller Midget, and there was an early model here. 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.
In advance of the all-new MX5 rival that was still some way off production, MG decided to re-enter the open topped sports car market in 1992 when they launched the MGR V8, which combined new body panels with the standard MGB body shell to create an updated MGB model. The suspension was only slightly updated, sharing the leaf spring rear of the MGB. The boot lid and doors were shared with the original car, as were the rear drum brakes. The engine was the 3.9-litre version of the aluminium Rover V8, similar to the one previously used in the MGB GT V8. A limited-slip differential was also fitted. The interior featured veneered burr elm woodwork and Connolly Leather. The engine produced 190 bhp at 4,750 rpm, achieving 0–60 mph in 5.9 seconds, which was fast but largely due to the rear drum brakes and rear leaf springs, the RV8 was not popular with road testers at the time. A large proportion of the limited production went to Japan – 1579 of the 2000 produced. Only 330 RV8s were sold initially in the UK, but several hundred (possibly as many as 700) of these cars were re-imported back to the UK and also Australia between 2000–2010 with a peak number of 485 registered at the DVLA in the UK.
Completing the lineup was the most recent MG sportscar, the MGF. 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.
There were a couple of early Mini models here. The Austin was a very early car from the first few months of production, and it was joined by a slightly later example.
The Mini was the model that refused to die, with sales continuing after the launch of the Metro in 1980, and gathering momentum again in the 1990s, thanks in no small part to interest from Japan and because Rover Group decided to produce some more Cooper models. The first series of Cooper cars had been discontinued in 1971, replaced by the cheaper to build 1275GT, but when a limited edition model was produced in 1990, complete with full endorsement from John Cooper, the model was a sell out almost overnight, which prompted the decision to make it a permanent addition to the range. A number of refinements were made during the 90s, with fuel injection adding more power, a front mounted radiator and more sound deadening making the car quieter and new seats adding more comfort and a new dash making the car look less spartan inside.
MILITARY VEHICLES and DISPLAYS
The Bicester site is a former RAF Base, and as such there is a strong military tradition, which is marked at these events by displays of all manner of military vehicles ranging from Willys Jeeps to a Humber Staff car and some larger machinery, as well as displays by many in period military dress, who perform various manoeuvres and drills during the day, to entertain the crowds.
There were plenty of Morgan models here, with the oldest being a Three Wheeler from the 30s, and this was joined by plenty of more recent cars, among the Plus 4 and Plus 8 models, as well as a rather nice Aeromax and the latest Three Wheeler.
Although the Minor name is associated with the Issigonis-designed car (that will feature) below, the first time the name was used was with this car. Beginning in 1922, the tiny Austin Seven had brought motoring to a new public and broadened the market. Against that Morris’ Oxfords and Cowleys had taken 41 per cent of the entire 1925 British private car market. Morris sales had begun to slow in 1926. They were revived by a new face for the Morris Oxford and Cowley and an expansion of Morris’ range both up and down the scale. The same year William Morris realised millions from the sale and stock market listing of preference shares in his business and he privately bought Wolseley, founded by Herbert Austin, which up to a few years earlier had been Britain’s largest car manufacturer. This gave Morris ample wherewithal to go after Herbert Austin’s little car with his own small Morris. With a surplus of production facilities, and Wolseley’s design engineers added to his own at Morris Commercial Cars, little time was taken for development of the Morris Minor. A more complex design than Austin’s Seven the all-new car was revealed in 1928. The launch was on 11 October 1928 at the opening of London’s 22nd Olympia Motor Show. A 4-seater tourer was displayed and a 4-seated saloon with sliding windows. Both had two doors. The Times’ motoring correspondent tested the fabric saloon and reported at length in December finishing with “I liked the general control and one does not get the impression that one is driving a very small car”. The fabric covered bodies used so much wadding to smooth their corners birds learned to peck through the fabric for the felt to build their nests. Coachbuilt, steel-panelled cars with a folding “sunshine” roof, for £9 more than the fabric car, were announced in August 1929 and all three cars were given rear-hinged doors with their forward ends sloping towards the front at the bottom. A 5-cwt van was added to the Minor range for 1930. It was displayed as Morris’ smallest van offering at the 1929 Motor Transport Show. The following year, in August 1930, a new 2-seater semi-sports joined the range with a hood and side screens. It was designed for two adults and their luggage and was cheapest in the range by £5. The tourer and two saloons, fabric and steel-panelled, remained in production. Advertisements referred to improved coachwork comfort and finish and improved lubrication and electrical systems. Tyres were now 19 x 4.00-inches. The coachbuilt saloon might now be had in black as well as blue. This last saloon came with automatic windscreen wiper, rear-vision mirror, safety glass and the new chromium finish. Morris’ stand at Olympia displayed just a chassis of the Minor. Just before Christmas 1930 Sir William Morris released a statement saying that he would put on the market very soon a new car to sell at £100 and it would be known as the Morris Minor S.V. two-seater. The body, he said, is to be coach built—steel panels on a wood frame—has as few bright parts as possible “to reduce polishing” and is finished in naval grey with red upholstery. Decarbonisation and valve adjustment were very simple and contributed to the new car’s low running costs. Within a few months 2-door saloon models with the S.V. type engine were also in production. A 4-seater S.V. tourer was announced in April.The overhead valve engine was proving to be expensive to make and Wolseley’s design—the six-cylinder version powered their successful Hornet saloon, and racing MGs—suffered from oil getting into the dynamo. So in 1931 a version with valve gear re-designed by staff of Morris Engines using side-valves and giving nearly the same power output, 19 bhp was introduced. On the road, the tester advised, the new Morris Minor S.V. exceeded 50 mph. A certain amount of wheel-bounce consumed a lot of power when testing standing-start times. The tappets could have been adjusted more finely, the accelerator needs a steadier spring and there should be a rest pedal beside it. Speed and brake levers were rather distant, top speed was apt to jump out when the load came off, some wheel bounce and movement with such a short wheelbase is acceptable, the foot brakes pulled to the near-side. The lower cost of the new engine allowed the Minor to be sold for the magic £100 as a stripped-down two-seater. The S.V. 2-seater cars were priced exactly 25 per cent cheaper than the SOHC cars had been. For a while both overhead and side valve versions were produced. The overhead-camshaft unit survived until 1932 in the four-door model, which also gained hydraulic brakes. In August 1931 a new radiator shape was revealed. The overhead valve version was renamed Morris Family Eight and was given a 7 ft 7 inches wheelbase, an extra 13 inches. The Family Eight was placed within the range between the Minor and Cowley. This saloon has four doors and has enough room for four grown persons. 17 x 4.50-inch tyres were fitted to the new Magna type wire wheels. Magna wheels were now fitted throughout the entire Morris range. The saloon bodies were slightly restyled with a more rounded look being given an “eddyfree” front, the standard size was roomier, their front seats could be adjusted and their doors were widened and fitted with safety glass winding instead of sliding windows. New colour schemes were made available. The fuel tank moved from the scuttle area below the windscreen to the rear of the car. An electric fuel pump or “automatic petrol-lift” was fitted. These Morris Family Eight cars were fitted with hydraulic brakes. Their new smooth sloping screen and rounded front allowed smooth passage of air and less resistance. The use of hydraulics distinguished the Morris from the competing Austin 7 with its less reliable cable brakes. The S.V. cars continued now known as Morris Minors in contrast to the Morris Family Eight cars. Morris displayed at the next Motor Show in October 1932 a Minor chassis for £87.10.0. For £90 the same chassis came equipped with a four-speed twin-top gearbox (“silent” third), cam steering and deep radiator. The 2-door Minor coachbuilt saloon was £125 or with fixed head £122.10.0. By the end of August 1933 all Morris cars had synchromesh four-speed gearboxes, dipping headlights, hydraulic shock absorbers, leather upholstery, hydraulic brakes, rear petrol tank, direction indicators and safety glass. The Family Saloon and Minor added to that illuminated direction indicators and pneumatic upholstery. The Minor and Family Saloon were replaced by the Morris Eight in August 1934 with an entirely new body and a slightly larger 918 cc engine.
One size up from that was the Eight, and the best known version of this was produced from 1935 to 1948, inspired by the sales popularity of the similarly shaped Ford Model Y. The success of the car enabled Morris to regain its position as Britain’s largest motor manufacturer. The Eight was powered by a Morris UB series 918 cc four-cylinder side-valve engine with three bearing crankshaft and single SU carburettor with maximum power of 23.5 bhp. The gearbox was a three-speed unit with synchromesh on the top two speeds and Lockheed hydraulic brakes were fitted. Coil ignition was used in a Lucas electrical system powered by a 6 volt battery and third brush dynamo. The body which was either a saloon or open tourer was mounted on a separate channel section chassis with a 7 feet 6 inches wheelbase. The tourer could reach 58 mph and return 45 mpg; the saloons were a little slower. The chrome-plated radiator shell and honeycomb grille were dummies disguising the real one hidden behind. In September 1934 the bare chassis was offered for £95. For buyers of complete cars prices ranged from £118 for the basic two-seater to £142 for the four door saloon with “sunshine” roof and leather seats. Bumpers and indicators were £2 10 shillings (£2.50) extra. Compared with the similarly priced, but much lighter and longer established Austin 7, the 1934/35 Morris Eight was well equipped. The driver was provided with a full set of instruments including a speedometer with a built in odometer, oil pressure and fuel level gauges and an ammeter. The more modern design of the Morris was reflected in the superior performance of its hydraulically operated 8 inch drum brakes. The Morris also scored over its Ford rival by incorporating an electric windscreen wiper rather than the more old-fashioned vacuum powered equivalent, while its relatively wide 45 inch track aided directional stability on corners. The series I designation was used from June 1935 in line with other Morris models, cars made before this are known as pre-series although the official Morris Motors designation was by the model year even though they were introduced in October 1934. Of the 164,102 cars produced approximately 24,000 were tourers. Seen here were a Saloon, and Tourer.
No surprise to see the evergreen Morris Minor here as this is a very popular classic. The Minor was conceived in 1941. Although the Nuffield Organization was heavily involved in war work and there was a governmental ban on civilian car production, Morris Motors’ vice chairman, Miles Thomas, wanted to prepare the ground for new products to be launched as soon as the war was over. Vic Oak, the company’s chief engineer, had already brought to Thomas’ attention a promising junior engineer, Alec Issigonis, who had been employed at Morris since 1935 and specialised in suspension design but he had frequently impressed Oak with his advanced ideas about car design in general. Issigonis had come to Oak’s particular attention with his work on the new Morris Ten, which was in development during 1936/7. This was the first Morris to use unitary construction and was conceived with independent front suspension. Issigonis designed a coil-sprung wishbone system which was later dropped on cost grounds. Although the design would later be used on the MG Y-type and many other post-war MGs the Morris Ten entered production with a front beam axle. Despite his brief being to focus on the Ten’s suspension Issigonis had also drawn up a rack and pinion steering system for the car. Like his suspension design this was not adopted but would resurface in the post-war years on the MG Y-type, but these ideas proved that he was the perfect candidate to lead the design work on a new advanced small car. With virtually all resources required for the war effort, Thomas nonetheless approved the development of a new small family car that would replace the Morris Eight. Although Oak (and Morris’ technical director, Sidney Smith) were in overall charge of the project it was Issigonis who was ultimately responsible for the design, working with only two other draughtsmen. Thomas named the project ‘Mosquito’ and ensured that it remained as secret as possible, both from the Ministry of Supply and from company founder William Morris (now Lord Nuffield), who was still chairman of Morris Motors and, it was widely expected, would not look favourably on Issigonis’ radical ideas. Issigonis’ overall concept was to produce a practical, economical and affordable car for the general public that would equal, if not surpass, the convenience and design quality of a more expensive car. In later years he summed up his approach to the Minor; that he wanted to design an economy car that “the average man would take pleasure in owning, rather than feeling of it as something he’d been sentenced to” and “people who drive small cars are the same size as those who drive large cars and they should not be expected to put up with claustrophobic interiors.” Issigonis wanted the car to be as spacious as possible for its size and comfortable to drive for inexperienced motorists. Just as he would with the Mini ten years later, he designed the Mosquito with excellent roadholding and accurate, quick steering not with any pretence of making a sports car, but to make it safe and easy to drive by all. As work proceeded, there were plenty of battle to overcome, to get Issigonis’ ideas approved, and not all of them were. The production car, called the Minor was launched at the British Motor Show at Earls Court in London on October 27, 1948. At the same show Morris also launched the new Morris Oxford and Morris Six models, plus Wolseley variants of both cars, which were scaled-up versions of the new Minor, incorporating all the same features and designed with Issigonis’ input under Vic Oak’s supervision. Thus Issigonis’ ideas and design principles underpinned the complete post-war Morris and Wolseley car ranges. The original Minor MM series was produced from 1948 until 1953. It included a pair of four-seat saloons, two-door and (from 1950) a four-door, and a convertible four-seat Tourer. The front torsion bar suspension was shared with the larger Morris Oxford MO, as was the almost-unibody construction. Although the Minor was originally designed to accept a flat-4 engine, late in the development stage it was replaced by a 918 cc side-valve inline-four engine, little changed from that fitted in the 1935 Morris 8, and producing 27.5 hp and 39 lbf·ft of torque. This little engine pushed the Minor to just 64 mph but delivered 40 mpg. Brakes were four-wheel drums. Early cars had a painted section in the centre of the bumpers to cover the widening of the production car from the prototypes. This widening of 4 inches is also visible in the creases in the bonnet. Exports to the United States began in 1949 with the headlamps removed from within the grille surround to be mounted higher on the wings to meet local safety requirements. In 1950 a four-door version was released, initially available only for export, and featuring from the start the headlamps faired into the wings rather than set lower down on either side of the grille. The raised headlight position became standard on all Minors in time for 1951. From the start, the Minor had semaphore-type turn indicators, and subsequent Minor versions persisted with these until 1961 An Autocar magazine road test in 1950 reported that these were “not of the usual self-cancelling type, but incorporate[d] a time-basis return mechanism in a switch below the facia, in front of the driver”. It was all too easy for a passenger hurriedly emerging from the front passenger seat to collide with and snap off a tardy indicator “flipper” that was still sticking out of the B-pillar, having not yet been safely returned by the time-basis return mechanism to its folded position. Another innovation towards the end of 1950 was a water pump (replacing a gravity dependent system), which permitted the manufacturer to offer an interior heater “as optional equipment”. When production of the first series ended, just over a quarter of a million had been sold, 30 per cent of them the convertible Tourer model. In 1952, the Minor line was updated with an Austin-designed 803 cc overhead valve A-series engine, replacing the original side-valve unit. The engine had been designed for the Minor’s main competition, the Austin A30, but became available as Austin and Morris were merged into the British Motor Corporation. The new engine felt stronger, though all measurements were smaller than the old. The 52 second drive to 60 mph was still calm, with 63 mph as the top speed. Fuel consumption also rose to 36 mpg. An estate version was introduced in 1952, known as the Traveller (a Morris naming tradition for estates, also seen on the Mini). The Traveller featured an external structural ash (wood) frame for the rear bodywork, with two side-hinged rear doors. The frame was varnished rather than painted and a highly visible feature of the body style. Commercial models, marketed as the Morris Quarter Ton Van and Pick-up were added in May 1953. Rear bodies of the van versions were all steel. The 4-seat convertible and saloon variants continued as well. The car was again updated in 1956 when the engine was increased in capacity to 948 cc. The two-piece split windscreen was replaced with a curved one-piece one and the rear window was enlarged. In 1961 the semaphore-style trafficators were replaced by the flashing direction indicators, these were US-style red at the rear (using the same bulb filament as the brake lamp) and white at the front (using a second brighter filament in the parking lamp bulb) which was legal in the UK and many export markets at the time (such as New Zealand). An upmarket car based on the Minor floorpan using the larger BMC B-Series engine was sold as the Riley One-Point-Five/Wolseley 1500 beginning in 1957: versions of this Wolseley/Riley variant were also produced by BMC Australia as the Morris Major and the Austin Lancer. In December 1960 the Morris Minor became the first British car to sell more than 1,000,000 units. To commemorate the achievement, a limited edition of 350 two-door Minor saloons (one for each UK Morris dealership) was produced with distinctive lilac paintwork and a white interior. Also the badge name on the side of the bonnet was modified to read “Minor 1,000,000” instead of the standard “Minor 1000”. The millionth Minor was donated to the National Union of Journalists, who planned to use it as a prize in a competition in aid of the union’s Widow and Orphan Fund. The company, at the same time, presented a celebratory Minor to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, but this car was constructed of cake.The final major upgrades to the Minor were made in 1962. Although the name Minor 1000 was retained, the changes were sufficient for the new model to be given its own ADO development number. A larger version of the existing A-Series engine had been developed in conjunction with cylinder head specialist Harry Weslake for the then new ADO16 Austin/Morris 1100 range. This new engine used a taller block than did the 948 cc unit, with increased bore and stroke bringing total capacity up to 1,098 cc. Although fuel consumption suffered moderately at 38 mpg, the Minor’s top speed increased to 77 mph with noticeable improvements in low-end torque, giving an altogether more responsive drive. Other changes included a modified dashboard layout with toggle switches, textured steel instrument binnacle, and larger convex glove box covers. A different heater completed the interior upgrade, whilst the larger combined front side/indicator light units, common to many BMC vehicles of the time, were fitted to the front wings. These now included a separate bulb and amber lens for indicators while larger tail lamp units also included amber rear flashers. During the life of the Minor 1000 model, production declined. The last Convertible/Tourer was manufactured on 18 August 1969, and the saloon models were discontinued the following year. Production of the more practical Traveller and commercial versions ceased in 1972, although examples of all models were still theoretically available from dealers with a surplus of unsold cars for a short time afterwards. 1,619,857 Minors of all variants were ultimately sold and to be seen here were both a 2 door saloons and a Tourer.
There were a couple of old Morris Commercials here, selling ice creams and coffees. More distinctive, and more often seen these days, was the J Van. This was a 10 cwt (0.5 ton) van launched by Morris Commercial in 1949 and produced until 1961. After the formation of the British Motor Corporation in 1952, by the merger of Morris’ parent company, the Nuffield Organisation, and Austin, the Commercial name was dropped and the van was marketed as the Morris J-type. The van followed the emerging trend of having forward controls and sliding doors on each side. It was made in both left and right hand drive versions. As well as complete vehicles, the J-type was also supplied in chassis form to external body makers and it appeared, amongst other uses, as a pick-up, tipper truck, ice cream van and milk float. Many were bought by the British Post Office and these differed from standard in having rubber front and rear wings. The J type was fitted with a 1476 cc four-cylinder side-valve engine based on the one used in the contemporary Morris Oxford MO car. Drive to the rear wheels is through a three-speed gearbox and initially a spiral bevel type rear axle, later replaced by a hypoid type. The van was updated to the JB in 1957 when an overhead valve 1489 cc, BMC B-Series engine was fitted along with a four-speed gearbox. An Austin version of the van appeared in 1957 known as the Austin 101 and differed from the Morris only in badging and radiator grille styling. Production ceased early in 1961 after over 48,600 had been made. It was replaced by the Morris J4.
There was also an example of the J2 Van here. This was a small, forward-control van (driver’s cab on top of the engine) launched by Morris Commercial in 1956 and produced until 1967. It was offered with the familiar B-series petrol engine, initially in 1489 cc form, but this was subsequently enlarged to 1622 cc. Until 1961 the van was sold alongside the relatively old-fashioned and slightly smaller Morris Commercial J-type. From 1960 the company also offered the slightly smaller Morris Commercial J4 which broadly followed the same overall architecture as the J2. The J2 van was marketed as both the Morris J2 and the Austin J2 or Austin 152.
Although not many of the Datsun 240Z were sold in the UK, or indeed Europe, this car proved phenomenally popular in the US, and was really the beginning of the end for the British sports cars which American buyers had been buying in large quantities throughout the 1960s. Known internally as the Nissan S30, and sold in Japan as the Nissan Fairlady Z, the car we call the the Datsun 240Z, and the later 260Z and 280Z was the first generation of Z GT two-seat coupe, produced by Nissan from 1969 to 1978. It was designed by a team led by Yoshihiko Matsuo, the head of Nissan’s Sports Car Styling Studio. With strong performance from the 2.4 litre engine, and excellent ride and handling from the four-wheel independent suspension, the car was good to drive, In the United States, Datsun priced the 240Z within $200 of the MGB-GT, and dealers soon had long waiting lists for the “Z”. Its modern design, relatively low price, and growing dealer network compared to other imported sports cars of the time (Jaguar, BMW, Porsche, etc.), made it a major success for the Nissan Motor Corporation, which at the time sold cars in North America under the name Datsun. As a “halo” car, the 240Z broadened the image of Japanese car-makers beyond their econobox success. The car was updated to the 260Z in 1975, when a larger 2.6 litre engine was used.
There were also a couple of examples of the Skyline here, an R32 and its successor, the R33.
This is a first generation Commodore GS/E Coupe. The Commodore A was manufactured from 1967 to 1971, based on the Rekord C. After having offered a Rekord-6 powered by a 2.6 litre 6-cylinder engine since March 1964, in February 1967 Opel launched the Commodore as a faster up-market version of the Rekord. The Commodore was initially available with the familiar 2.2-litre six or a larger 2.5 litre engine developing 115 PS with a single carburettor. Body styles comprised a two-door or four-door saloon and a two-door hardtop/fastback coupé. In September 1967 the sporty Commodore GS offering 130 hp from a twin carburettor 2.5 litre six was introduced. For 1969, the carryover 2.2-litre six was dropped and the optional 2-speed Powerglide automatic was abandoned in favour of Opel’s new 3-speed automatic transmission. From September 1969, the base 2.5 litre engine was pumped up to 120 PS; at the same time, both remaining engines received hydraulic valves for smoother running, a new exhaust system and six camshaft bearings. The handbrake lever was moved from its position under the dash to a location between the front seats and the fuel tank was enlarged from 55 to 70 litres. An even more sporty model than the GS, the Commodore GS/E, debuted in March 1970. It had a 2.5 litre engine equipped with Bosch D-jetronic fuel injection system developing 150 PS, which gave the car a top speed of 197 km/h (123 mph). The Commodore GS/E also had a career in motorsports, with a car prepared by Steinmetz. In April 1970 a Commodore with a detuned and carburetted 2.8 litre six giving 145 PS followed, called the GS 2800. 156,330 Commodore As were built, including 2,574 GS and GS/E variants. Making this car even more unusual is the fact that it was built from a complete knock-down kit at the firm’s Bienne factory in Switzerland. All sorts of Opels were assembled at the plant from 1934 to ’73, and carry a ‘Suisse Bienne’ VIN plate.
There were two distinct generations of Manta, the car that Opel conceived to compete against the Ford Capri. The second, the Manta B, in Opel speak lasted far longer than the first. It was launched in August 1975. This two-door “three-box” car was mechanically based directly on the then newly redesigned Opel Ascona, but the overall design was influenced by the 1975 Chevrolet Monza. The Manta had more “sporty” styling, including a droop-snoot nose not seen on the Ascona, which was similar to the UK equivalent, the Cavalier Mk1. Engines were available ranging from the small 1.2-litre OHV engine, the 1.6-litre CIH and the 1.9-litre CIH. Also in 1976 the GT/E engine from the Manta A series was adapted into the Manta B programme spawning the GT/E Manta B series. In 1979 the GT/E had the engine replaced with the new 2.0 litre CIH and with a new designed Bosch L injection system. Power output was now 108 hp. The 1.9-litre engine gave way to the 2.0 litre S engine which was aspirated by a Varajet II carburettor. This engine was the most used engine by Opel at the time, and was to be found in several Opel Rekord cars. In 1978, a three-door hatchback version appeared to complement the existing two-door booted car. This shape was also not unique, being available on the Vauxhall Cavalier Sports Hatch variant. Both Manta versions received a facelift in 1982, which included a plastic front spoiler, sideskirts for the GT/E and GSi models, a small wing at the rear and quadruple air intakes on the grille. Also the 1.2-, 1.6- and 1.9-litre engines were discontinued and replaced by the 1.3-litre OHC engine, the 1.8-litre OHC and the 2.0-litre S and E CIH engines (although the 75 PS 1.9N continued to be available in a few markets). The GT/E was renamed and was called the GSi from 1983 (except in the UK where the GT/E name continued). Production of the Manta continued well after the equivalent Ascona and Cavalier were replaced by a front-wheel-drive model “Ascona C”. The Vauxhall Cavalier Mk1 Sportshatch and Coupe did not continue past 1981, and there were no coupe versions the MK2 Cavalier range. In 1982 the 1.8-litre Opel Family II engine from the Ascona C was fitted in the Manta B (replacing the CIH unit) making a more economical Manta B to drive. It could run 14 km per litre and use unleaded fuel. The 1.8 was very popular and was in production for 5 years (1982–1987). The 2.0S models where discontinued in 1984 and only the GSi was available with the “large” engine (GT/E in the UK). In 1986 Opel released the last Manta B model the Exclusive (1987 in the UK), giving it all of the best in equipment. Recaro seats with red cloth, grey leather like interior and the full bodypack known from the i200 models. This consisted of twin round headlights in a plastic cover, front spoiler and rear lower spoiler from Irmscher, sideskirts and the known 3 split rear spoiler of the Manta 400 (producing 80 kg (176 lb) of weight on the rear at 200 km/h). In the UK, the Exclusive GT/E models were available in colours such as Dolphin Grey with matching dark grey cloth seats with red piping. These also had the quad headlights, front spoiler but a rear bumper which housed the number plate, coupled with a black plastic strip between the rear light clusters. The rear spoiler was similar to the standard GT/E. Opel finally ceased the production of the Manta B in 1988, only producing the GSi version after 1986 (it was sold as the GT/E in the UK). Its successor, the Calibra – sold as a Vauxhall in Britain, and as an Opel everywhere else – was launched in 1989. The two cars seen here were late model GT/E cars.
Panther Westwinds, of Byfleet, has been building small numbers of retro-styled cars, based on Jaguar mechanicals since the launch of the J72 in 1972. To try to boost sales, they came up with a smaller and cheaper product, the Lima, which was first seen at the 1976 London Motor Show. It used Vauxhall Viva and Magnum mechanicals, including that car’s 2279 cc four cylinder engine. A later Mark II model used a purpose-built chassis, and this is one of those cars. The body was built of fibreglass in a roadster style reminiscent of an Allard or Morgan. The Lima was produced in volume, with over 500 built by the time of the introduction of the Lima Turbo in February 1979. The Turbo Lima was fitted with 14-inch alloy wheels, and had a TURBO graphic on the bonnet. The turbocharged version, with an engine developed in Southern California, had 178 hp rather than the 108 hp of the original and claimed a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of less than six seconds. Lima production lasted until 1982 with 897 cars produced. It was replaced by the similar Panther Kallista for the 1980s.
One of my favourite cars from the last Sunday Scramble I attended was a now rare 505 Saloon, which bore a hand-written advising people not to move it, as the brakes did not work. It was here again, and had been moved, and the notice was gone, so I assume that some restoration work has been undertaken in the intervening months. The 505 had a long production life, as it was built from 1979 to 1992 in Sochaux, as well as being manufactured in various other countries including Argentina (by Sevel from 1981 to 1995), China, Indonesia and Nigeria. 1,351,254 505s were produced between 1978 and 1999 with 1,116,868 of these being saloons, but there are very few of them left in the UK, or even Europe (Africa is a different matter, of course!). Officially unveiled on 16 May 1979, the 505 was the replacement for the 504 with which it shared many of its underpinnings. It was originally available only as a saloon. There was a long wait for the estate, which when it did come included an eight-passenger Familiale version, both being seen at the 1982 Geneva Motor Show. The 505’s styling, a collaboration between Pininfarina and Peugeot’s internal styling department, is very similar to that of its smaller brother the 305. The original interior was designed by Paul Bracq, generally more well known for his work for Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The UK launch came in October 1979. The 505 was the last of Peugeot’s rear-wheel drive cars, with a front engine, mounted longitudinally. The suspension system included MacPherson struts and coil springs at front and semi-trailing arms with coil springs at rear, with a body-mounted rear differential and four constant-velocity joints. Station wagons (and most sedans built in Argentina) had instead a live-axle rear suspension, with Panhard rod and coil springs. Stabiliser bars were universal at front but model-dependent at rear. The car used disc brakes at the front, and either disc or drum brakes at the rear, depending on the model. The steering was a rack and pinion system, which was power assisted on most models. The first cars came with the familiar 2 litre carburettor and the Douvrin injected petrol engines and a 2.1 litre diesel. This latter was gradually upgraded to larger and more powerful units and a GTi model, the first Peugeot to bear the name was launched in 1984. Later Peugeot would add a Turbo 4 cylinder unit and the 2.7 litre Douvrin V6 engine, to give the car a more luxurious feel which it needed when it took over from the 604 as the marque’s flagship. The Break (Estate) and Familiale versions were quite different from saloons. The wheelbase was also longer, to help make it one of the most spacious in the market, at 2,900 mm (114 in). This was, not coincidentally, the same exact wheelbase as had been used on both the 404 and 504 estate derivatives. The Familiale (family estate), with its third row of bench seats (giving a total of eight forward-facing seats), was popular with larger families and as a taxi. The two rows of rear seats could be folded to give a completely flat load area, with 1.94 cubic metres of load capacity. The total load carrying capacity is 590 kg (1,301 lb). When released, it was hailed as a luxury touring wagon. The Familiale was marketed as the “SW8” in the United States, for “station wagon, eight seats.” The 505 was praised by contemporary journalists for its ride and handling, especially on rough and unmade roads; perhaps one reason for its popularity in less developed countries; – “Remember that the 505´s predecessor, the 504, had an outstanding ride. It took a British-market model on a hard charging drive across the green lanes of the Chilterns. The impacts were well suppressed and the car veritably floated over the undulations and potholes. I concluded that the 505 is as good as the 504 (but no better).” The 505 also had good ground clearance; if it wasn’t enough though, Dangel offered a taller four-wheel drive version of the 505 estate equipped with either the intercooled turbodiesel 110 hp engine or the 130 hp 2.2 L petrol engine. The four-wheel drive 505 also had shorter gear ratios. The interior styling was viewed positively in contemporary reviews: “Having settled into the 505’s neat cockpit one notices how handsomely styled it all would appear to be. The tweed seats and brown trim look smart and less confrontational than offerings from a certain other French marque.” But the ergonomics were criticised too: “The ashtray was competitively sized but is placed directly behind the gear stick. For British market cars, this will be a constant nuisance while our continental cousins will consider the placement quite logical and natural.” The range was given a facelift, including an all new interior, in 1986, but European Peugeot 505 production began to wind down following the launch of the smaller Peugeot 405 in 1987. Saloon production came to a halt in 1989, when Peugeot launched its new flagship 605 saloon, while the estate remained in production until 1992 – although plans for an estate version of the 605 never materialised. The 605 was in production for a decade but never matched the popularity of the 505. In some countries such as France and Germany, the 505 estate was used as an ambulance, a funeral car, police car, military vehicle and as a road maintenance vehicle. There were prototypes of 505 coupés and 505 trucks, and in France many people have modified 505s into pickup trucks themselves.
Older of the duo of Plymouth models here was a 1958 Plaza. This was Plymouth’s entry-level car from 1954 to 1958, priced under the Plymouth Savoy. It was offered in sedan, coupe and wagon variants. Known as Plymouth’s “Price Leader”, in 1958 the Plaza offered buyers the widest choice of options to date. Options formerly reserved only for higher priced lines were available on the Plaza for the first time in history. The Business Coupe, which was the least produced model of Plymouth in 1958 (1,472 units), differed from the regular 2dr Club Sedan in that the rear seat was an optional accessory. Plymouth also added a special edition to the Plaza fleet in ’58. Based on a Plaza Club Sedan, the “Silver Special” had a custom paint job with silver paint on the roof and in the Sportone inserts plus a short stainless steel spear that accented the front fenders and extended partially into the front doors. The final custom touch was on the rear fins where the Silver Special bore “Forward Look” emblems instead of the traditional “Plaza” scripts. It is isn’t known how many of the 94,728 Plazas produced in 1958 were fitted with the Silver Special trim package, but they are believed to be very rare cars. Like most models of its kind in the 1950s and 1960s, the Plaza — with its minimal trim and plain cloth-and-vinyl upholstery, and limited option choices — saw most of its appeal toward fleet buyers, such as police departments, where luxury and comfort were not primary concerns. However, the model was available to budget-conscious private consumers who wanted or needed the room of a full-sized automobile and the availability of such items as a V-8 engine and automatic transmission. For the 1959 model year, Plymouth discontinued the Plaza and moved the Savoy name down to its entry level model.
This is a 1964 Valiant Wagon, and an interesting contrast with the Australian-built Chrysler version already depicted in this report.
There were a couple of beautifully restored Porsche models in one of the buildings, representing the work of one of the on-site businesses. These comprised a 356 Coupe and a (presumably genuine) 911 Carrera RS.
As at previous events, there was a big showing of Porsche models courtesy of the Porsche Owners Club, who had amassed several long lines with examples of just about every model and style that has been offered in the past 60 years. The 911 family of cars dominated this display, with numerous examples covering the history of the model, ranging from some early cars, through the successive 964, 993, 996, 997 and 991 generations.
There were a number of the front engined cars here, too, starting with the 924, in standard and Turbo guises, as well as one of the rare Carrera GT cars. The 924 was originally another joint project of Volkswagen and Porsche created by the Vertriebsgesellschaft (VG), the joint sales and marketing company funded by Porsche and VW to market and sell sports cars, For Volkswagen, it was intended to be that company’s flagship coupé sports car and was dubbed “Project 425” during its development. For Porsche, it was to be its entry-level sports car replacing the 914. At the time, Volkswagen lacked a significant internal research and design division for developing sports cars; further, Porsche had been doing the bulk of the company’s development work anyway, per a deal that went back to the 1940s. In keeping with this history, Porsche was contracted to develop a new sporting vehicle with the caveat that this vehicle must work with an existing VW/Audi inline-four engine. Porsche chose a rear-wheel drive layout and a rear-mounted transaxle for the design to help provide 48/52 front/rear weight distribution; this slight rear weight bias aided both traction and brake balance. The 1973 oil crisis, a series of automobile-related regulatory changes enacted during the 1970s and a change of directors at Volkswagen made the case for a Volkswagen sports car less striking and the 425 project was put on hold. After serious deliberation at VW, the project was scrapped entirely after a decision was made to move forward with the cheaper, more practical, Golf-based Scirocco model instead. Porsche, which needed a model to replace the 914, made a deal with Volkswagen leadership to buy the design back. The deal specified that the car would be built at the ex-NSU factory in Neckarsulm located north of the Porsche headquarters in Stuttgart, Volkswagen becoming the subcontractor. Hence, Volkswagen employees would do the actual production line work (supervised by Porsche’s own production specialists) and that Porsche would own the design. It became one of Porsche’s best-selling models, and the relative cheapness of building the car made it both profitable and fairly easy for Porsche to finance. The original design used an Audi-sourced four-speed manual transmission from a front wheel drive car but now placed and used as a rear transaxle. It was mated to VW’s EA831 2.0 litre 4 cylinder engine, subsequently used in the Audi 100 and the Volkswagen LT van (common belief is that ‘the engine originated in the LT van’, but it first appeared in the Audi car and in 924 form has a Porsche-designed cylinder head). The 924 engine used Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, producing 125 bhp in European cars, but a rather paltry 95 bhp for the US market models, though this was improved to 110 hp in mid-1977 with the introduction of a catalytic converter, which reduced the need for power-robbing smog equipment. The four-speed manual was the only transmission available for the initial 1976 model, later this was replaced by a five-speed dog-leg unit. An Audi three-speed automatic was offered starting with the 1977.5 model. In 1980 the five-speed transmission was changed to a conventional H-pattern, with reverse now on the right beneath fifth gear. Porsche made small improvements to the 924 each model year between 1977 and 1985, but nothing major was changed on non-turbo cars. Porsche soon recognised the need for a higher-performance version of the 924 that could bridge the gap between the basic 924s and the 911s. Having already found the benefits of turbochargers on several race cars and the 1975 911 turbo, Porsche chose to use this technology for the 924, eventually introducing the 924 turbo as a 1978 model. Porsche started with the same Audi-sourced VW EA831 2.0 litre engine, designed an all new cylinder head (which was hand assembled at Stuttgart), dropped the compression to 7.5:1 and engineered a KKK K-26 turbocharger for it. With 10 psi boost, output increased to 170 hp. The 924 turbo’s engine assembly weighed about 65 lb more, so front spring rates and anti-roll bars were revised. Weight distribution was now 49/51 compared to the original 924 figure of 48/52 front to rear. In order to help make the car more functional, as well as to distinguish it from the naturally aspirated version, Porsche added an NACA duct in the bonnet and air intakes in the badge panel in the nose, 15-inch spoke-style alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with five-stud hubs and a five-speed transmission. Forged 16-inch flat wheels of the style used on the 928 were optional, but fitment specification was that of the 911 which the 924 shared wheel offsets with. Internally, Porsche called it the “931” (left hand drive) and “932” (right hand drive). The turbocharged VW EA831 engine allowed the 924’s performance to come surprisingly close to that of the 911 SC (180 bhp), thanks in part to a lighter curb weight, but it also brought reliability problems.This was in part due to the fact that the general public did not know how to operate, or care for, what is by today’s standards a primitive turbo setup. A turbocharger cooled only by engine oil led to short component life and turbo-related seal and seat problems. To fix the problems, Porsche released a revised 924 turbo series 2 (although badging still read “924 turbo”) in 1979. By using a smaller turbocharger running at increased boost, slightly higher compression of 8:1 and an improved fuel injection system with DITC ignition triggered by the flywheel, reliability improved and power rose to 177 hp. In 1984, VW decided to stop manufacturing the engine blocks used in the 2.0 litre 924, leaving Porsche with a predicament. The 924 was considerably cheaper than its 944 stablemate, and dropping the model left Porsche without an affordable entry-level option. The decision was made to equip the narrower bodied 924 with a slightly detuned version of the 944’s 163 bhp 2.5 litre straight four, upgrading the suspension but retaining the 924’s early interior. The result was 1986’s 150 bhp 924S. In 1988, the 924S’ final year of production, power increased to 160 bhp matching that of the previous year’s Le Mans spec cars and the base model 944, itself detuned by 3 bhp. This was achieved using different pistons which raised the S’ compression ratio from 9.7:1 to 10.2:1, the knock-on effect being an increase in the octane rating, up from 91 RON to 95. This made the 924S slightly faster than the base 944 due to its lighter weight and more aerodynamic body. With unfavourable exchange rates in the late 1980s, Porsche decided to focus its efforts on its more upmarket models, dropping the 924S for 1989 and the base 944 later that same year.
There were also several examples of the car’s sort of successor, sort of stablemate, the 944. Whilst its precursor, the 924, had received largely positive reviews, it was criticised by many including Porsche enthusiasts for its Audi-sourced engine and although the Turbo model had increased performance, this model carried a high price, which caused Porsche to decide to develop the 924, as they had with generations of the 911. They re-worked the platform and a new all-alloy 2.5 litre inline-four engine, that was, in essence, half of the 928’s 5.0 litre V8, although very few parts were actually interchangeable. Not typical in luxury sports cars, the four-cylinder engine was chosen for fuel efficiency and size, because it had to be fitted from below on the Neckarsulm production line. To overcome roughness caused by the unbalanced secondary forces that are typical of four-cylinder engines, Porsche included two counter-rotating balance shafts running at twice engine speed. Invented in 1904 by British engineer Frederick Lanchester, and further developed and patented in 1975 by Mitsubishi Motors, balance shafts carry eccentric weights which produce inertial forces that balance out the unbalanced secondary forces, making a four-cylinder engine feel as smooth as a six-cylinder. The engine was factory-rated at 150 hp in its U.S. configuration. Revised bodywork with wider wheel arches, similar to that of the 924 Carrera GT, a fresh interior and upgrades to the braking and suspension systems rounded out the major changes and Porsche introduced the car as the 944 in 1982. It was slightly faster (despite having a poorer drag co-efficient than the 924), the 944 was better equipped and more refined than the 924; it had better handling and stopping power, and was more comfortable to drive. The factory-claimed 0-60 mph time of less than 9 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph which turned out to be somewhat pessimistic, In mid-1985, the 944 underwent its first significant changes. These included : a new dash and door panels, embedded radio antenna, upgraded alternator, increased oil sump capacity, new front and rear cast alloy control arms and semi-trailing arms, larger fuel tank, optional heated and powered seats, Porsche HiFi sound system, and revisions in the mounting of the transaxle to reduce noise and vibration. The “cookie cutter” style wheels used in the early 944s were upgraded to new “phone dial” style wheels (Fuchs wheels remained an option). 1985 model year cars incorporating these changes are sometimes referred to as “1985B”, “85.5” or “1985½” cars. For the 1987 model year, the 944 Motronic DME was updated, and newly incorporated anti-lock braking and air bags. Because of the ABS system, the wheel offset changed and Fuchs wheels were no longer an option. In early 1989 before the release of the 944S2, Porsche upgraded the 944 from the 2.5 to a 2.7 litre engine, with a rated 162 hp and a significant increase in torque. For the 1985 model year, Porsche introduced the 944 Turbo, known internally as the 951. This had a turbocharged and intercooled version of the standard car’s engine that produced 220 PS at 6000 rpm. In 1987, Car and Driver tested the 944 Turbo and achieved a 0-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds. The Turbo was the first car using a ceramic port liner to retain exhaust gas temperature and new forged pistons and was also the first vehicle to produce identical power output with or without a catalytic converter. The Turbo also featured several other changes, such as improved aerodynamics, notably an integrated front bumper. This featured the widest turn signals (indicators) fitted to any production car, a strengthened gearbox with a different final drive ratio, standard external oil coolers for both the engine and transmission, standard 16 inch wheels (optional forged Fuchs wheels), and a slightly stiffer suspension (progressive springs) to handle the extra weight. The Turbo’s front and rear brakes were borrowed from the Porsche 911, with Brembo 4-piston fixed calipers and 12-inch discs as ABS also came standard. Engine component revisions, more than thirty in all, were made to the 951 to compensate for increased internal loads and heat. Changes occurred for the 1987 model year. On the interior, the 1987 944 Turbo for North America became the first production car in the world to be equipped with driver and passenger side air bags as standard equipment. A low oil level light was added to the dash as well as a 180 mph (290 km/h) speedometer as opposed to the 170 mph speedometer on the 1986 model Turbos. Also included is the deletion of the transmission oil cooler, and a change in suspension control arms to reduce the car’s scrub radius. The engine remained the same M44/51 as in the 1986 model. In 1988, Porsche introduced the Turbo S. The 944 Turbo S had a more powerful engine (designation number M44/52) with 250 hp and 258 lb·ft torque (standard 944 Turbo 220 hp and 243 lb·ft. This higher output was achieved by using a larger K26-8 turbine housing and revised engine mapping which allowed maintaining maximum boost until 5800 rpm, compared to the standard 944 Turbo the boost would decrease from 1.75 bar at 3000 rpm to 1.52 bar at 5800 rpm. Top speed was factory rated at 162 mph. The 944 Turbo S’s suspension had the “M030” option consisting of Koni adjustable shocks front and rear, with ride height adjusting threaded collars on the front struts, progressive rate springs, larger hollow rear anti-roll/torsion bars, harder durometer suspension bushings, larger hollow anti-roll/torsion bars at the front, and chassis stiffening brackets in the front frame rails. The air conditioning dryer lines are routed so as to clear the front frame brace on the driver’s side. The 944 Turbo S wheels, known as the Club Sport design, were 16-inch Fuchs forged and flat-dished, similar to the Design 90 wheel. Wheel widths were 7 inches in the front, and 9 inches in the rear with 2.047 in offset; sizes of the Z-rated tyres were 225/50 in the front and 245/45 in the rear. The front and rear fender edges were rolled to accommodate the larger wheels. The manual transmission featured a higher friction clutch disc setup, an external cooler, and a limited slip differential with a 40% lockup setting. The Turbo S front brakes were borrowed from the Porsche 928 S4, with larger Brembo GT 4-piston fixed calipers and 12-inch discs; rear Brembo brakes remained the same as a standard Turbo. ABS also came standard. The 944 Turbo S interior featured power seats for both driver and passenger, where the majority of the factory-built Turbo S models sported a “Burgundy plaid” (Silver Rose edition) but other interior/exterior colours were available. A 10-speaker sound system and equalizer + amp was a common option with the Turbo S and S/SE prototypes. Only the earlier 1986, 250 bhp prototypes featured a “special wishes custom interior” options package. In 1989 and later production, the ‘S’ designation was dropped from the 944 Turbo S, and all 944 Turbos featured the Turbo S enhancements as standard, however the “M030” suspension and the Club Sport wheels were not part of that standard. The 944 Turbo S was the fastest production four cylinder car of its time. For the 1987 model year, the 944S “Super” was introduced, featuring a high performance normally aspirated, dual-overhead-cam 16-valve 190 PS version of the 2.5 litre engine (M44/40) featuring a self-adjusting timing belt tensioner. This marked the first use of four-valve-per-cylinder heads and DOHC in the 944 series, derived from the 928 S4 featuring a redesigned camshaft drive, a magnesium intake tract/passages, magnesium valve cover, larger capacity oil sump, and revised exhaust system. The alternator capacity was 115 amps. The wheel bearings were also strengthened and the brake servo action was made more powerful. Floating 944 calipers were standard, but the rear wheel brake circuit pressure regulator from the 944 turbo was used. Small ’16 Ventiler’ script badges were added on the sides in front of the body protection mouldings. Performance was quoted as 0 – 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds and a 144 mph top speed due to a 2857 lb weight. It also featured an improved programmed Bosch Digital Motronic 2 Computer/DME with dual knock sensors for improved fuel performance for the higher 10.9:1 compression ratio cylinder head. Like the 944 Turbo, the 944S received progressive springs for greater handling, Larger front and rear anti-roll bars, revised transmission and gearing to better suit the 2.5 litre DOHC higher 6800 rpm rev limit. Dual safety air bags, limited-slip differential, and ABS braking system were optional on the 944S. A Club Sport touring package (M637) was available as was the lightweight 16 inch CS/Sport Fuch 16×7 and 16×9 forged alloy wheels. This SC version car was raced in Canada, Europe and in the U.S. IMSA Firehawk Cup Series. Production was only during 1987 and 1988. It was superseded in 1989 by the ‘S2’ 944 edition. The 1987 944S power-to-weight ratio was such that it was able to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 6.5 seconds thus matching the acceleration of its newer larger displacement 3.0 litre 944 S2 sibling. In 1989 the 944S2 was introduced, powered by a 211 PS normally aspirated, dual-overhead-cam 16-valve 3.0 litre version of the 944S engine, the largest production 4-cylinder engine of its time. The 944S2 also received a revised transmission and gearing to better suit the 3.0 litre M44/41 powerplant. The 944S2 had the same rounded nose and a rear valance found on the Turbo model. This was the first example of the use of an integrated front bumper, where the fender and hood profiles would merge smoothly with the bumper, a design feature that has only now seen widespread adoption on the 1990 onward production cars. Performance was quoted as 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds with a top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph) via manual transmission. A Club Sport touring package (M637) was also available. Dual air bags (left hand drive models), limited-slip differential and ABS were optional. Series 90 16-inch cast alloy wheels were standard equipment. In 1989, Porsche released the 944 S2 Cabriolet, a first for the 944 line that featured the cabriolet body built by ASC-American Sunroof Company at Weinsberg Germany. The first year of production included sixteen 944 S2 Cabriolet for the U.S. market. For the 1990 model year, Porsche produced 3,938 944 S2 Cabriolets for all markets including right-hand drive units for the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa. This car was raced, including the British championship that was called the Porsche Motorsport Championship. Production was during 1989, 1990, and 1991. The 944 S2 power-to-weight ratio was such that it was able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. In February 1991, Porsche released the 944 Turbo Cabriolet, which combined the Turbo S’s 250 hp engine with the cabriolet body built by ASC-American Sunroof Company at Weinsberg Germany. Porsche initially announced that 600 would be made; ultimately 625 were built, 100 of which were right-hand drive for the United Kingdom, Japanese, Australian, and South African market. None were imported to the U.S. and The Americas. In early 1990, Porsche engineers began working on what they had intended to be the third evolution of the 944, the S3. As they progressed with the development process, they realised that so many parts were being changed that they had produced an almost entirely new vehicle. Porsche consequently shifted development from the 944 S/S2 to the car that would replace the 944 entirely, the 968. The 944’s final year of production was 1991. A grand total 163,192 cars in the 944 family were produced between 1982 and 1991. This made it the most successful car line in Porsche’s history until the introductions of the Boxster and 997 Carrera.
One of the last cars I saw before leaving was an example of the larger 928 model, in S4 guise. The first V8 engined Porsche, it was originally conceived to replace the 911, though as we all know, that did not happen, with the two complementing each other in the range during the 18 year life of the 928. By the late 1960s, Porsche had changed significantly as a company, and executives including owner Ferdinand Porsche were toying with the idea of adding a luxury touring car to the line-up. Managing Director Ernst Fuhrmann was also pressuring Ferdinand to approve development of the new model in light of concerns that the current flagship model at the time, the 911, was quickly reaching the limits of its potential. Slumping sales of the 911 seemed to confirm that the model was approaching the end of its economic life cycle. Fuhrmann envisioned the new range-topping model as being the best possible combination of a sports coupe and a luxury sedan, something well equipped and comfortable enough to be easily driven over long distances that also had the power, poise and handling prowess necessary to be driven like a sports car. This set it apart from the 911, which was intended to be an out-and-out sports car. Ordered by Ferdinand Porsche to come up with a production-feasible concept for his new model, Fuhrmann initiated a design study in 1971, eventually taking from the process the final specification for the 928. Several drivetrain layouts were considered during early development, including rear and mid-engined designs, but most were dismissed because of technical and/or legislative difficulties. Having the engine, transmission, catalytic converter(s) and exhaust all cramped into a small rear engine bay made emission and noise control more difficult, something Porsche was already facing problems with on the 911 and wanted to avoid. After deciding that the mid-engine layout didn’t allow enough room in the passenger compartment, a front engine/rear wheel drive layout was chosen. Porsche also may have feared that the U.S. government would soon ban the sale of rear-engined cars in response to the consumer concern over safety problems with the rear-engined Chevrolet Corvair. Porsche engineers wanted a large-displacement engine to power the 928, and prototype units were built with a 5-litre V8 producing close to 300 hp. Ferdinand Piëch wanted this car to use a 4.6-litre V10 based upon Audi’s five-cylinder engine. Several members of the Porsche board objected, chiefly because they wished for Porsche AG to maintain some separation from Volkswagen. The first two running prototypes of Porsche’s M28 V8 used one four-barrel carburettor, but this was just for initial testing. The cars were sold with the planned Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system. When increasing concern within the company over the pricing and availability of fuel during the oil crisis of the 1970s became an issue of contention, smaller engines were considered in the interest of fuel economy. A push began for the development of a 3.3 litre 180 hp powerplant they had drawn up designs for, but company engineers balked at this suggestion. Both sides finally settled on a 4.5 litre SOHC per bank 16-valve V8 producing 240 PS which they considered to have an acceptable compromise of performance and fuel economy. The finished car debuted at the 1977 Geneva Motor Show, going on sale later that year. Although it won early acclaim for its comfort and power, sales were slow. Base prices were much higher than that of the 911 model and the 928’s front-engined, water-cooled design put off many Porsche purists, not least because the design marked a major change in direction for Porsche started with the introduction of the Porsche 924 in 1976 which purists found hard to accept. Porsche utilised a transaxle in the 928 to help achieve 50/50 front/rear weight distribution, aiding the car’s balance. Although it weighed more than the difficult-to-handle 911, its more neutral weight balance and higher power output gave it similar performance on the track. The 928 was regarded as the more relaxing car to drive at the time. It came with either a five-speed dog leg manual transmission, or a Mercedes-Benz-derived automatic transmission, originally with three speeds, with four-speed from 1983 in North America and 1984 in other markets. More than 80% had the automatic transmission. Exact percentage of manual gearbox cars for entire production run is not known but it is believed to be between 15 and 20%. The body, styled by Wolfgang Möbius under guidance of Anatole Lapine, was mainly galvanised steel, but the doors, front fenders, and hood were aluminium in order to make the car more lightweight. It had a substantial luggage area accessed via a large hatchback. The new polyurethane elastic bumpers were integrated into the nose and tail and covered in body-coloured plastic; an unusual feature for the time that aided the car visually and reduced its drag. Porsche opted not to offer a convertible variant but several aftermarket modifiers offered convertible conversions, most notably Carelli, based in Orange County, CA. The Carelli conversions were sold as complete cars, with the conversion doubling the price of the car. A reported 12 units were made. The 928 qualified as a 2+2, having two small seats in the rear. Both rear seats could be folded down to enlarge the luggage area, and both the front and rear seats had sun visors for occupants. The rear seats are small (due to the prominent transmission hump) and have very little leg room; they are only suitable for adults on very short trips or children. The 928 was also the first vehicle in which the instrument cluster moved along with the adjustable steering wheel in order to maintain maximum instrument visibility. The 928 included several other innovations such as the “Weissach Axle”, a simple rear-wheel steering system that provides passive rear-wheel steering to increase stability while braking during a turn, and an unsleeved, silicon alloy engine block made of aluminium, which reduced weight and provided a highly durable cylinder bore. Porsche’s design and development efforts paid off during the 1978 European Car of the Year, where the 928 won ahead of the BMW 7 Series, and the Ford Granada. The 928 is the only sports car ever to have won this competition, which is regarded as proof of how advanced the 928 was, compared to its contemporaries. Porsche introduced a refreshed 928 S into the European market in 1980 model year. Externally, the S wore new front and rear spoilers and sported wider wheels and tyres than the older variant, but the main change for the 928 S was under the bonnet where a revised 4.7 litre engine was used. European versions debuted with 300 PS , and were upgraded to 310 PS for 1984, though it is rumoured that they typically made around 330 hp. From 1984 to 1986, the S model was called S2 in UK. These cars used Bosch LH-Jetronic fuel injection and purely electronic Bosch ignition, the same systems used on the later 32-valve cars, though without the pollution controls. North American-spec 1983 and 1984 S models used, among other differences, smaller valves, milder camshafts, smaller diameter intake manifolds, and additional pollution equipment in order to meet emissions regulations, and were limited to 234 hp as a result. Due to low grade fuel 16V low compression S engine was made for Australian market in 1985 model year. It had 9.3:1 compression ratio pistons instead of normal 10.4:1 but used same large intake, high lift cams, large valves etc. of other S engines. In 1982, two special models were available for different markets. 202 “Weissach Edition” cars were sold in North America. Unusual features were champagne gold metallic paint, matching brushed gold flat disc wheels, two-tone leather interior, a plaque containing the production number on the dash and the extremely collectible three-piece Porsche luggage set. It’s believed these cars were not made with S spoilers even though these were available in U.S. during this time period as part of the “Competition Group” option. The “Weissach Edition” option was also available for the US market 911 in 1980 model year and 924 in 1981 model year. 141 special “50th Jubilee” 928 S models were available outside the U.S. and Canada to celebrate the company’s 50-year existence as a car manufacturer. This model is also sometimes referred to as the “Ferry Porsche Edition” because his signature was embroidered into the front seats. It was painted meteor metallic and fitted with flat disc wheels, wine red leather and special striped fabric seat centres. Similar 911 and 924 specials were also made for world markets. Porsche updated the North American 928 S for 1985, replacing the 4.7 litre SOHC engine with a new 5.0 litre DOHC unit sporting four valves per cylinder and producing 288 hp. Seats were also updated to a new style, these cars are sometimes unofficially called S3 to distinguish them from 16-valve “S” models. European models kept a 4.7 litre engine, which was somewhat more powerful as standard, though lower 9.3:1 compression 32-valve engine together with catalytic converters became an option in some European countries and Australia for 1986. In 1986, revised suspension settings, larger brakes with 4-piston calipers and modified exhaust was installed on the 928S, marking the final changes to old body style cars. These were straight from the 928S4, which was slated to debut a few months later. These changes came starting from VIN 1001, which means that the first thousand ’86’s had the old brakes, but later cars had the later systems. This later 1986 model is sometimes referred to as a 19861⁄2 or 1986.5 because of these changes. The name is a little misleading as more than 3/4 of the 1986 production had these updates. The 928 S4 variant debuted in the second half of 1986 with an updated version of the 5.0 litre V8 producing 320 PS, sporting a new single-disc clutch in manual gearbox cars, larger torque converter in automatics and fairly significant styling updates which gave the car a cleaner, sleeker look. S4 was much closer to being a truly world car than previous models as only major differences for North American models were instrumentation in either kilometers or miles, lighting, front and rear bumper shocks and the availability of catalytic converters in many other markets. The Australian market version was only one with different horsepower rating at 300 PS due to preparation for possible low grade fuel. Even this was achieved without engine changes. A Club Sport variant which was up to 100 kg (220 lb) lighter became available to continental Europe and U.S. in 1988. This model was watered down version of the 1987 factory prototype which had a lightened body. Also in 1987 the factory made four white lightened manual gearbox S4 models for racecar drivers who were on their payroll at the time. These were close to same as later actual Club Sport models and can also be considered prototypes for it. An SE (sometimes called the S4 Sport due to model designation on rear bumper), a sort of halfway point between a normally equipped S4 and the more race-oriented Club Sport, became available to the UK. It’s generally believed these Porsche Motorsport-engined cars have more hp than the S4. They utilise parts which later became known as GT pistons, cams and engine ECU programs. Some of them had stronger, short geared manual gearbox. The automatic gearbox was not available. For the 1989 model year, a visible change inside was digital trip computer in dashboard. At the same time Australian models received the same 320 PS engine management setup as other markets. Porsche debuted the 928 GT in the late winter 1988/89 after dropping the slowly selling CS and SE. In terms of equipment, the GT was like the 928 SE, having more equipment than a Club Sport model but less than a 928 S4 to keep the weight down somewhat. It had the ZF 40% limited-slip differential as standard like the Club Sport and SE before it. Also like the CS and SE, the GT was only available with a manual gearbox. European 1989 CS and GT wheels had an RDK tyre pressure monitoring system as standard, which was also optional for the same year S4. For 1990 model year Porsche made RDK and a 0-100% variable ratio limited-slip called PSD (Porsche SperrDifferential) standard in both GT and S4 models for all markets. This system is much like the one from the 959 and gives the vehicle even more grip. In 1990 the S4 was no longer available with a manual gearbox. The S4 and GT variants were both cut at the end of 1991 model year, making way for the final version of the 928. The 928 GTS came for sale in late 1991. Changed bodywork, larger front brakes and a new, more powerful 5.4 litre 350 PS engine were the big advertised changes; what Porsche wasn’t advertising was the price. Loaded GTS models could eclipse US$100,000 in 1995, making them among the most expensive cars on the road at the time. This severely hampered sales despite the model’s high competency and long standard equipment list. Porsche discontinued the GTS model that year after shipping only 77 of them to the United States. Total worldwide production of 928s over an 18 year period was a little over 61,000 cars. Second-hand models’ value decreased as a result of generally high maintenance costs due largely to spare parts that are expensive to manufacture, with the result that there are fewer survivors than you might expect, though with values hardening, people are now spending the money required to restore these cars.
Also from Porsche were examples of the Boxster and Cayman including the highly rated GT4 version.
This Regent Van dates from 1954. Like most manufacturers, Reliant had to cease vehicle production during the war, but were quick to return to this business once hostilities ceased. They launched the Regent, a midly modified version of what they had been making before the war. Still visually similar to an oversized motorcycle, the first Regent was completed on 13 March 1946, just ten years after the first twin-cylinder van was built. The Regent grew to a GVW of 10 cwt and was better equipped with sliding windows in the doors, rather than canvas side screens. Two larger models were produced, a 12 cwt Regent and a Prince Regent. In 1953, the Regent continued to be built alongside the Reliant Regal. The Regent was eventually replaced by the Regal Mk II 5cwt van in 1956.
Following the success of the Scimitar GT Coupe, Reliant looked as to how to evolve the car and Tom Karen of Ogle was asked to submit some body designs based on the Ogle Design GTS estate car experiment for a new four seater Scimitar, the SE5 Reliant Scimitar. Managing Director Ray Wiggin, Chief Engineer John Crosthwaite and fibreglass body expert Ken Wood went to Ogle’s in Letchworth to look at a couple of mock-up body designs for the new SE5. Wiggin told Wood to go ahead and do a proper master. The SE5 was conceived and ready for the 1968 Motor Show in under 12 months. For the SE5 John Crosthwaite and his team designed a completely different longer chassis frame, revised and improved suspension, new and relocated fuel tank, a rollover bar, new cooling system, spare wheel mounted in the nose to give increased rear space and a 17 1⁄4 gallon) fuel tank. When designing the chassis Crosthwaite worked closely with Ogle body stylist Peter Bailey to modify and refine the prototype. The SE5 came with the same 3.0 litre Ford Essex engine used in the SE4a/b. This gave the SE5 a claimed top speed of over 120 mph. A Borg-Warner automatic transmission was added as an option in 1970 and by 1971, overdrive on the 4-speed manual was offered. In 1972 several improvements were included in the upgrade to SE5A, including a boost in power. The extra 7 hp and maximum engine speed raised performance quite a bit and the GTE was now capable of 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds and top speed was raised to 121 mph. The SE5’s flat dashboard also gave way to a curved and moulded plastic one. The 5a can be recognised from a 5 at the rear by the reverse lamps which are below the bumper on the earlier model and are incorporated into the rear clusters on the later version (these were also carried over onto the SE6 and later). 4311 SE5s were produced. It was an instant success; GT production was cut down and the proportion of GTEs to GTs being built was four-to-one. Reliant increased their volume by 20 per cent in the first year. The 5A model sold more than any other Scimitar, with 5105 manufactured. Princess Anne was given a manual overdrive SE5 as a joint 20th birthday present and Christmas present in November 1970 by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. It was Air Force blue in colour with a grey leather interior and registered 1420 H in recognition of her position as Colonel-in-Chief of the 14th/20th Hussars. Princess Anne subsequently owned eight other GTEs.
There were a couple of them here.
One of the first people I spoke to was the Dutch owner of this R4 Van, who had indeed come over from Holland to attend the event. Well, what he said was that he was going to be in the UK to visit some friends, so he made sure he timed his visit so he could attend Bicester, as he had heard such good things about it. We had quite a good chat, and I admired his rather nice R4 van, and then surprise him by telling him that there was indeed another R4 on site. This was a French plated R4 GTL and it was in one of the dealer displays to one side of the site. Rust has claimed most of the 8 million R4s that were built, so it was good to see a couple of them here today.
The other Renault here was a rather original, unrestored Floride Convertible. Although a very French product of its time, its inspiration comes from America. In the late 1950s, Renault was envious of the growing success in North America of the Volkswagen Beetle and were looking for ways they might match the Volkswagen’s success with their own Renault Dauphine. At a convention of North American distributors that took place in Florida, Renault’s US dealers called for the creation of a Dauphine coupé/cabriolet which would improve Renault’s image in the critical US market. Renault’s chairman, Pierre Dreyfus, agreed, and since the concept had been born at a convention in Florida the car instantly became known within the company as the “Renault Floride”. Ironically, the “Floride” name was considered unsuitable for 49 of the 50 states of the USA, however, since it could have implied disrespect to states other than Florida. For this reason an alternative name, “Caravelle”, was from the start used for North America and for other major markets (including the UK) where the principal language was a form of English. The Floride was unveiled at the 1958 Paris Motor Show. A small rear-engined design by Pietro Frua at Carrozzeria Ghia, it used the floorpan and engine of the Renault Dauphine. The car was offered as a 2+2 coupe, a 2+2 cabriolet and as a convertible, the latter being a cabriolet with a removable hardtop.The 89.2 in wheelbase was shared with the Renault Dauphine but longer overhangs meant that overall the Floride was longer by a significant 12.6 in, as well as being slightly lower and very slightly wider. At launch the Floride, like the Dauphine on which it was based, came with an 845cc four-cylinder water-cooled engine mounted at the back of the car. However, the power unit on the Floride was fed using a Solex 32 mm carburettor as against the 28 mm diameter of the Solex carburetor on the Dauphine. The Florides making their French show debut on the stand at the 1958 Paris Motor Show came with a claimed power output of 37 hp. By the time deliveries commenced, in early summer 1959, it was also possible for customers to specify a performance version, engineered by Amedee Gordini, which produced 40 hp by means of various modifications to the inlet manifold and camshaft, and a compression ratio raised from 7.6:1 to 8.0:1. Power was delivered to the rear wheels via a three speed manual transmission with synchromesh on the upper two ratios. For a supplement of 200 New Francs customers could instead specify a four speed transmission on the slightly heavier coupé version of the car. Having regard to the car’s power-to-weight ratio most customers chose to pay extra for the four speed gear box. Although designed by Frua of Italy, the car’s body was constructed locally, by the automobile body maker Société des usines Chausson, based in Asnières-sur-Seine at the northern edge of Paris, and known in France as the producer of many of the school bus bodies used for transporting children in country areas. In October 1959, the Floride, along with the Renault Dauphine, appeared with significant suspension improvements. The new suspension was conceived by the by now almost legendary automotive engineer Jean-Albert Grégoire and baptised by Renault “Suspension Aérostable”, being intended to improve the car’s ride and road holding. The addition of extra rubber springs at the front reduced roll and auxiliary air spring units (mounted inboard of the conventional coils) at the rear gave the rear wheels a small degree of negative camber and increased cornering grip. In March 1962, the Caravelle received a new 956 cc engine that would be also used by the new Renault 8 from June. Although the new “Sierra” series five-bearing engine shared no components with the existing 845 cc Dauphine engine, it was conceptually very similar: the engine size was chosen in order to come in (slightly) below the top of the 5CV car tax band in France. It had a sealed cooling system as well as a new front suspension, new rear geometry, new steering, and a new gear linkage. Moving the radiator behind the engine also freed up an extra 12 cm of space behind the front seat. Maximum power output increased to 48 hp. Four-speed transmission, already included in the price at no extra cost on some export markets, now came as part of the standard with the new engine even for French buyers, although bottom gear still made do without synchromesh The upgraded cars, first presented at the 1962 Geneva Motor Show, now featured disc brakes on all four wheels: the Floride was the first French volume car to benefit from this enhancement which also reduced unsprung weight by approximately 6 kg The Caravelle name also replaced the Floride name in all markets from 1962 onwards. In 1964 another R8-derived engine of 1108 cc was introduced to the Caravelle, producing 55 hp. This model was tested by “Autocar” magazine in November 1965, who found it had a top speed of 89 mph and accelerated from 0-60 mph in 17.8 seconds, with an “overall” fuel consumption of 30.2 mpg. The Caravelle’s performance closely matched that of the contemporary Triumph Spitfire 4 under most headings, though the Spitfire was a couple of mph ahead on top speed. The British car market was still protected by tariffs at this time, but even allowing for that the Renault looks expensive in this company: The Caravelle came with a UK recommended price of £1039 as against £666 for the Spitfire 4. Production got under way slowly, with only 3,777 cars completed in 1959. However, in 1960, following the important “Aérostable” suspension upgrades, Renault produced 36,156 Florides. By the mid-1960s the Caravelle, which had been fashionably styled at launch, was looking dated, while the reduction and elimination of internal tariffs within the Common Market led to intensified competition in France for buyers of inexpensive sports cars, notably from Italy. Between 1966 and 1967 annual production tumbled from 4,880 to 2,991. During 1968 only 1,438 were produced, and it was during the summer of that year that Renault withdrew the Caravelle.
With renowned Riley Specialist Blue Diamond being one of the businesses hosted on site, there are always going to be plenty of Riley models on show, and owners bring their cars to augment those that would have been evident anyway. Looking at the long line of cars, you begin to see why Riley got into trouble in the 1930s, as they simply produced too many different models. Seen here were quite an array of cars, ranging from a Monaco Saloon through a number of Sprites, and various Nine and Twelve-based sports cars.
The Riley RM Series was the last model developed independently by Riley. RM vehicles were produced from 1945, after the Second World War, until the 1952 merger of Riley’s parent company, the Nuffield Organisation with Austin to form BMC. They were originally made in Coventry, but in 1949 production moved to the MG works at Abingdon. The RM models were marketed as the Riley 1½ Litre and the Riley 2½ Litre. There were three types of RM vehicles produced: the RMA was a large saloon, and was replaced by the updated RME, both of which had the 1.5 litre engine; the RMB was an even larger car, and was replaced by the RMF, and these cars had the 2.5 litre engine; the RMC and RMD were open topped cars produced in limited numbers, intended largely for the all important export markets, with about 500 of each being made. These were nicely produced quality cars and considered quite sporting in their day, with the sort of appeal that many years later would be inherent in a BMW. Ironically, of course, BMW now own the rights to the Riley brand. It is an RME Saloon that was seen here.as well as an RMC. The RMC (Roadster) was an open 2-door, single bench seat, 2/3-seater version of the RMB, with a large rear deck area and fold-flat windscreen. Instead of side windows it was supplied with flexible celluloid-glazed side curtains with a hole for hand signals and, when deployed, flimsy synthetic roofing over a light metal frame. It shared that car’s 2.5 litre 100 hp engine, and could reach 100 mph. The car was primarily designed for the North American export market, and just over 500 were built from 1948 until 1951. The gear change lever was moved to the steering column on left-hand-drive models.
The Riley badge at the top of the grille told me the marque, or so I thought, but when I tried to find out a little more about this car, I got a blank from the DVLA website. However, a bit more work with Google elicited that this is in fact a replica and not the original deal. It is a Replica Riley Vincent MPH, designed to recall the styling of the much sought after racing MPH models that Riley built in 1934. of which just 12 were built. The Vincent version was originally conceived back in the early 1980s by “Autocar & Motor” road tester Martin Vincent, and then further refined and developed to exacting standards by ex-aircraft and race car engineer, Toni Dwornik. So the Vincent MPH now benefits from the uniquely balanced blend of Thirties styling and Modern technology!! Unlike the original cars, the Vincent ones are built to last. The chassis is jig assembled and Mig welded from 1/8″ thick hollow box section steel and generously cross braced. A surface treatment of oven baked polyester so tough that it should withstand a hammer blow without chipping and all major sections are sealed from the elements to prevent internal corrosion. The body too, is intended to weather more than a few winters. Hand rolled Aluminium bonnet with the main body designed with an integral floor for a structural integrity is formed from a substantial polyester composite moulding. The entire body work is set off with a deep lustrous surface finish using the latest generation of acrylic paint to ensure that it will stay looking fine for many years to come. In cars of this type, one area often neglected is the suspension development, not so with the Vincent MPH, driving pleasure was one of the principal aims and with that in mind Leaf springs have been replaced by Coil over Shock absorber as the main method of ride and handling control. Offered as a self-build kit, the Vincent has continued to be developed over the last 30 years, with detailed modifications improving the comfort, feeling of space and driving characteristics whilst retaining the overall style of the concept. Today, the Vincent MPH business is part of Dwornik Engineering. This car was first registered in 1998, with a recorded year of manufacture of 1996. It has a 2 litre Ford Pinto engine under the bonnet.
Final Riley here was an example of the very last model to bear the Blue Diamond badge before it was killed off in 1969, a Kestrel 1300 Mark 2. Apart from the luxurious Vanden Plans version, this version sat at the top of the ADO16 range. First of the ADO16 cars, the second of Issigonis’ trio of front wheel drive designs, to appear was the Morris 1100, which was unveiled in August 1962. A four door saloon, with styling that had been influenced by Pininfarina, this car applied the same principles as had been seen in the Mini of three years earlier, but in a larger package, creating plenty of space for 4 or even 5 adults and with more luggage room. Power came from a 1098cc version of the proven A Series engine, which gave it a lively (for the time!) performance and the combination of a long wheelbase and innovative hydrolastic suspension gave it a particularly comfortable ride. A sporting MG model, with twin carburettors was added to the range before the year was out. In 1963 an Austin model appeared, identical to the Morris in all but grille and tail end treatment, and then Wolseley, Riley and even Vanden Plas models were added to the range in 1965 and 1966, as well as Countryman and Traveller estate versions of the Austin and Morris. The range was Britain’s best selling car in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Sole Rolls Royce of the day, that I found, at least, was this 20/25 model.
This is a Rover 14, dating from 1938. A member of what are known as the P2 family, these were launched in October 1938, and produced until the war interrupted production, and then again from 1945 to 1948. An “entirely new” car, this generation Rover 14 had a more powerful 1901cc engine, new coachwork, “easy-clean” wheels and additional refinements including synchromesh on 3rd and top gears (not essential on cars with freewheel), automatic chassis lubrication and anti-roll stabilisers front and back. The track was now 48 inches, and the tools were now in a rubber-lined tray. There were other variants in the range, the Rover 10, Rover 12, Rover 16 and Rover 20 variants. The post-war cars had another 2½ inches added to the wheelbase as well as 2½ inches to the track. They were replaced by the P3 models.
Whilst the 3 litre P5 model may have been thought of as a replacement for the top end of the long running P4 Rovers, it was really this car, the P6 model, first seen in October 1963 which was its true successor. Very different from the long-running 60/75/80/90/95/100/105/110 models, this car took some of its inspiration, it is claimed, from the Citroen DS as well as lessons learned from Rover’s Jet Turbine program of the 1950s and early 60s. It was a “clean sheet” design, carrying nothing over, and was advanced for the time with a de Dion tube suspension at the rear, four-wheel disc brakes (inboard on the rear), and a fully synchromesh transmission. The unibody design featured non-stressed panels bolted to a unit frame. The de Dion set-up was unique in that the “tube” was in two parts that could telescope, thereby avoiding the need for sliding splines in the drive shafts, with consequent stiction under drive or braking torque, while still keeping the wheels vertical and parallel in relation to the body. The Rover 2000 won industry awards for safety when it was introduced and included a carefully designed “safety” interior. One innovative feature was the prism of glass on the top of the front side lights. This allowed the driver to see the front corner of the car in low light conditions, and also confirmed that they were operative. One unique feature of the Rover 2000 was the design of the front suspension system, in which a bell crank (an L-shaped rotating bracket trailing the upper hub carrier joint) conveyed the vertical motion of the wheel to a fore-and-aft-horizontally mounted spring fastened to the rear wall of the engine compartment. A single hydraulically damped arm was mounted on the firewall for the steering. The front suspension was designed to allow as much width for the engine compartment as possible so that Rover’s Gas Turbine engine could be fitted. In the event, the engine was never used for the production vehicle, but the engine compartment width helped the accommodation of the V8 engine adopted years after the car’s initial launch for the 2000. The luggage compartment was limited in terms of usable space, because of the “base unit” construction, complex rear suspension and, in series II vehicles, the battery location. Lack of luggage space (and hence the need to re-locate the spare tyre) led to innovative options for spare tyre provision including boot lid mountings and optional Dunlop Denovo run-flat technology. The car’s primary competitor on the domestic UK market was the Triumph 2000, also released in October 1963, just one week after the Rover, and in continental Europe, it contended in the same sector as the Citroen DS which, like the initial Rover offering, was offered only with a four-cylinder engine – a deficiency which in the Rover was resolved, four years after its launch, when Rover’s compact V8 was engineered to fit into the engine bay. The Rover 2000 interior was not as spacious as those of its Triumph and Citroen rivals, especially in the back, where its sculpted two-person rear seat implied that Rover customers wishing to accommodate three in the back of a Rover should opt for the larger and older Rover 3 Litre. The first P6 used a 1,978 cc engine designed specifically for the car, which put out around 104 bhp. That was not enough to live up to the sports saloon ambitions, so Rover later developed a twin SU carburettor version with a re-designed top end and marketed the revised specification vehicles as the 2000 TC. The 2000 TC was launched in March 1966 for export markets in North America and continental Europe, relenting and making it available to UK buyers later that year. This engine generated around 124 bhp. The standard specification engines continued in production in vehicles designated as 2000 SC models. These featured the original single SU. More performance was to come. Rover saw Buick’s compact 3528 cc V8 unit that they had been looking at developing as the means of differentiating the P6 from its chief rival, the Triumph 2000. They purchased the rights to the innovative aluminium engine, and, once improved for production by Rover’s own engineers, it became an instant hit. The Rover V8 engine, as it became known, outlived its original host, the P5B, by more than thirty years. The 3500 was introduced in April 1968, one year after the Rover company was purchased by Triumph’s owner, Leyland and continued to be offered until 1977. The light metal V8 engine weighed the same as the four-cylinder unit of the Rover 2000, and the more powerful car’s maximum speed of 114 mph as well as its 10.5-second acceleration time from 0–60 mph were considered impressive, and usefully faster than most of the cars with which, on the UK market, the car competed on price and specifications. It was necessary to modify the under-bonnet space to squeeze the V8 engine into the P6 engine bay: the front suspension cross-member had to be relocated forward, while a more visible change was an extra air intake beneath the front bumper to accommodate the larger radiator. There was no longer space under the bonnet for the car’s battery, which in the 3500 retreated to a position on the right side of the boot. Nevertheless, the overall length and width of the body were unchanged when compared with the smaller-engined original P6. Having invested heavily in the car’s engine and running gear, the manufacturer left most other aspects of the car unchanged. However, the new Rover 3500 could be readily distinguished from the 2000 thanks to various prominent V8 badges on the outside and beneath the radio. The 3500 was also delivered with a black vinyl covering on the C-pillar, although this decoration later appeared also on four-cylinder cars. A 3-speed Borg Warner 35 automatic was the only transmission until the 1971 addition of a four-speed manual 3500S model, fitted with a modified version of the gearbox used in the 2000/2200. The letter “S” did not denote “Sport”, it was chosen because it stood for something specific on those cars: “Synchromesh”. However it is important to note that the 3500S was noticeably quicker than the automatic version of this car with a 0-60mph time of 9 seconds, compared with 10.1 for the standard car. Moreover, due to the fuel-guzzling nature of automatic gearboxes of this era, the manual car’s official cycle was 24mpg compared to the automatic’s 22mpg. The Series II, or Mark II as it was actually named by Rover, was launched in 1970. All variants carried the battery in the boot and had new exterior fixtures such as a plastic front air intake (to replace the alloy version), new bonnet pressings (with V8 blips even for the 4-cylinder-engined cars) and new rear lights. The interior of the 3500 and 2000TC versions was updated with new instrumentation with circular gauges and rotary switches. The old-style instrumentation with a linear speedometer and toggle switches continued on the 2000SC versions. The final changes to the P6 came in the autumn of 1973 when the 2200 SC and 2200 TC replaced the 2000 SC and TC. These cars used an enlarged 2,205 cc version of the 2000 engine, which increased power outputs to 98 and 115 bhp respectively as well as offering improved torque. The P6 was replaced by the SD1 Rover, a completely different sort of car indeed, after 322,302 cars had been built. Seen here was an late model 3500S, a very aspirational car in its day.
There was an example of the increasingly rare Rover-badged Metro-based cars here. Shortage of funds meant that although an all-new replacement for the 1980 Austin Metro was developed during the mid 1980s, it was never cleared for production, and with pressure from competition intensifying, Rover Group had to resort to a clever revamp to keep sales of their supermini buoyant. The result was revealed In May 1990. As well as adopting Rover badging, the looks had been modernised, but it was what had been done under the bonnet that was far more significant, with the relatively new K-Series engine finding a home in both 1100 and 1400cc guises. Combined with a five speed gearbox in more costly models, and a new trim that looked decidedly up-market for a small car, suddenly the Metro was back in contention, and that year, the model won high praise and just about every comparison test there was. The MGs were no more, but there was a 1.4 GTi car at the top of the range, and a sporty looking GTa which was less powerful and therefore more affordable and with insurance that younger drivers could arrange. There were examples of the GTa and the cheaper S here, as well as one of the later Rover 100 cars, which appeared in December 1994. The mechanics of the car remained much the same with 1.1 and 1.4 petrol engines and Hydragas suspension, but there was now the option of a Peugeot-sourced 1.5 diesel rather than the previous 1.4. The exterior was altered in an attempt to disguise the car’s age, meet the increased cooling requirements of the Peugeot motor and offer a reduced-format Rover family grille. This was achieved through fitment of new front and rear bumpers, sill covers, rear boot handle and headlamps, bonnet and grille. A variety of bolder paint colours and the use of chrome trim helped give a more upmarket appearance. The interior trim was revised to give a greater impression of quality and luxury, but since the basic architecture had remained unchanged since the original 1980 car it was considered by many as being short on space and outdated in comparison to its most modern rivals (most of which had been replaced with all-new models since the launch of the Rover Metro) It was criticised by the press for its lack of equipment, with front electric windows only available on the range topping 114 GSi. Rear electric windows were never an option on the 100. Neither were Anti-Lock Brakes, Power Steering or a rev counter (except the GTa and later manual 114 GSi models) One saving grace for the 100 was the option of full leather trim, a rarity in a small car and coupled with the standard wood veneer dashboard inserts, a tinted glass sunroof and the optional wood veneer door cappings, the 114 GSi made for traditional luxury motoring; an image Rover was trying to retain. The only safety efforts came in the form of an optional drivers airbag, an alarm, a passive engine imobiliser, a removable radio keypad, central locking and side intrusion beams. Overall, the 100 series was considered a rather typical facelift of a car which had been a class leader on launch some years earlier, only to be overtaken by newer cars including the Renault Clio, Fiat Punto and Volkswagen Polo. It was launched only a year before a heavily revised Ford Fiesta. In 1997, the Rover 100 gave a poor performance in EuroNCAP crash tests. Despite the improved safety features, including side impact bars in the doors and an optional driver’s airbag, the 1970s design was showing its age and it was at the time the only car tested to receive a one-star Adult Occupant Rating. Other superminis tested at the same time received 2 or 3 stars out of five. The passenger compartment was subjected to severe structural damage in the frontal-offset test and results showed a high risk of injury to all body regions for the driver. Meanwhile, the side impact test also showed high injury risks. The Rover 100’s dismal safety showing was not its only problem by 1997. It was fast falling behind the best cars in its sector when it came to design, build quality, refinement and specification, although it remained strong in terms of fuel economy and affordability. Unlike the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Corsa, the Rover 100 could still provide sub-£7,000 motoring. Facing a complete collapse of sales, Rover withdrew the 100 from production – marking the end of nearly 18 years of production.
This is a Singer SM Roadster, a car that is little known these days. The Singer Roadster was a 9HP open 2/4-seater sports-tourer automobile made by Singer from 1939 to 1955. It was launched in March 1939 as an open version of Singer’s Bantam saloon and using many Bantam parts. After less than six months production was suspended for the duration of World War II then restarted with the engine moved forward, more interior space and other minor modifications. The Roadster was upgraded to the 4A model in 1949 with a four speed manual gearbox. The short lived 4AB and 4AC models were released in 1950 followed by the 4AD SM Roadster in 1951. This final version was officially known as the Singer SM Roadster. First seen at the October 1951 Paris Motor Show it was initially intended for export only. It used the 48 hp 1497 cc engine from the SM1500 saloon fitted to a virtually unchanged chassis and body, retaining the hydraulic/mechanical hybrid braking system. A 58 hp twin carburettor engine option was offered from 1953. The 4AD can be told apart from a 4AB by its larger, rounder bumpers, as well as bigger taillights mounted on long stalks. Although early 4AD production was still all for export, with the smaller 4AB being regularly available in the United Kingdom, from 1953 1.5 litre cars became available on the domestic market as well.The last cars were made in 1955.
Replacing the Sunbeam-Talbot 90s were the first cars to bear the Rapier name and the first of the “Audax” range of light cars produced by the Rootes Group. Announced at the London Motor Show in October 1955, it preceded its Hillman Minx and Singer Gazelle counterparts which were not introduced until 1956. The Rapier was a four-seat, two door hardtop coupé, and although designed “in house” by the Rootes Group, it was inspired, via the Raymond Loewy design organisation, by the new-generation Studebaker coupés of 1953. The styling of the Series I Rapier was undertaken by the design firm of Raymond Loewy Associates and showed a great deal of influence of Raymond Loewy’s 1953 Studebaker Hawk (itself an acclaimed design). Available in a range of two-tone colour schemes typical of the period, it had a steering column gear change, leather trim and an overdrive as standard fittings. Vinyl trim was an option in the UK and standard in certain export territories. Rapier bodies were built by Pressed Steel, shipped to Thrupp & Maberly in north London where they were painted and trimmed, then shipped again to the Rootes assembly plant at Ryton-on-Dunsmore near Coventry where the engines, transmission and running gear were fitted. This complex situation persisted until late 1963 when the Series IV was introduced. The Rapier’s 1,390 cc engine was essentially the same as that fitted to the Hillman Minx but with a raised compression ratio (8:1 instead of 7:1), a Zenith DIF 36 carburettor and revised inlet and exhaust manifolds. In this form it developed 62.5 bhp at 5000 rpm. A column change, four speed transmission with overdrive on third and top was included in the price as a standard feature. From October 1956, directly as a result of experience gained in international rallying by Rootes’ competition department, the Rapier was fitted with the updated R67 engine on which the Stromberg carburettor was replaced by twin Zenith 36 WIP carburettors on a new inlet manifold. This engine produced 67.5 bhp at 5000 rpm, the effect of which was to reduce the Rapier’s 0-60 mph time by almost 1 second and increase its top speed by 3 mph. In competition, a Rapier driven by Peter Harper finished in fifth place in the 1958 Monte Carlo Rally. In total, 7,477 units were produced of this initial version of the Sunbeam Rapier. It was discontinued in 1958 on the introduction of the Series II, which was announced on 6 February 1958, available in hardtop and convertible forms. Rootes arranged for nine of the new cars to be in Monte Carlo for the press to try at the end of the 1958 Monte Carlo Rally. The traditional Sunbeam radiator grille was reintroduced, albeit shortened and widened and the spaces at its sides were filled with horizontal side grilles. The two-tone lower body colour scheme of the Series I was discontinued in favour of a broad full length flash in the same colour as the roof, but the most obvious change was the appearance on the rear wings of pronounced fins. The interior of the Series II was little changed from that of the Series I, except that a floor gear change replaced the column change, a modification, developed on the works Series I rally cars. To keep costs down, the leather upholstery, standard on the Series I, was discontinued in favour of vinyl and overdrive became an extra cost option. An improvement in the Series II though, was its more powerful engine. Referred to as the Rallymaster, it had an increased capacity of 1,494 cc. The capacity increase combined with a higher compression ratio of 8.5:1 and larger inlet and exhaust valves to raise the power output to 73 bhp at 5,200 rpm. Autocar quoted the top speed as 91 mph with a 0-60 mph time of 20.2 seconds. Also as a direct result of competition experience, the Series II was fitted with larger front brakes and a recirculating ball steering box instead of the worm and nut box of the Series I. The Series II was discontinued in favour of the Series III in 1959 after 15,151 units (hardtop and convertible) had been built. The Series III was introduced in September 1959. Rootes made subtle changes to the car’s body which individually were insignificant but when combined, considerably altered its appearance. For example, the number of horizontal bars in each of the side grilles was increased from three to four and the boot lid acquired an oblong number plate recess and surround in place of the square one of the earlier cars. The most striking change was the redesigned side flash, now narrower and lower down the side of the car with the Rapier script on its rear end. The most subtle change, however, was a reduction in thickness of the windscreen pillars and a lowering of the scuttle line to give a 20% increase in windscreen area. Inside the Series III the changes were more evident. Rootes stylists completely redesigned the seats and interior panels and specified that they be trimmed in single colour vinyl with contrasting piping. For the first time, deep pile carpets were fitted as standard in the foot-wells (previous versions had rubber mats). The steering wheel, control knobs and switches were in black plastic instead of beige. The dashboard, instead of being, as in the earlier cars, padded metal and plastic, was covered in burr walnut veneer surmounted by a padded crash roll fitted with black-faced British Jaeger instruments. Mechanically, the Series III benefitted from the design of the Sunbeam Alpine sports car with which it shared its engine. Although the engine’s displacement was still 1,494 cc, it was fitted with a new eight-port aluminium cylinder head with an increased compression ratio and redesigned valves, and used a new, sportier camshaft. The twin Zenith carburettors from the Series II remained but were mounted on a new water heated inlet manifold. The result of these changes was a power increase of 5 bhp to 78 bhp at 5400 rpm. Gearbox changes included higher second, third and top gear ratios, and a reduced angle of gear lever movement to make for shorter lever travel and snappier changes. New front disc brakes significantly improved the Rapier’s braking capability and widened its front track to give greater stability and improved road-holding. The Series III, of which 15,368 units were built (hardtop and convertible) gave way to the Series IIIA in April 1961, which was was announced with the Series II Sunbeam Alpine 1,592 cc engine. Externally and internally the Series IIIA was identical to the Series III. The improvements were directed solely at improving the durability of the car. To this end, engine capacity was increased and a stiffer crankshaft fitted. To increase reliability, the crankshaft incorporated larger diameter connecting rod bearings which called for modifications to the connecting rods and gudgeon pins. Modified oil and water pumps completed the engine changes. As a result, power output increased from 78 bhp to 80.25 bhp at 5,100 rpm and torque increased from 84 lb·ft at 3500 rpm to 88.2 ft·lbf at 3,900 rpm.In addition, the Series IIIA included many detail changes such as an increased diameter front anti-roll bar which greatly improved roadholding, a redesigned clutch bell housing, a revised clutch assembly with nine pressure springs instead of six and a redesigned air cleaner assembly. Inside the car a fresh-air heater, hitherto available only at extra cost, became a standard fitting. All of these changes combined to make the Series IIIA subtly different from its predecessor and to give the Sunbeam Rapier a new lease of life in the showroom. Maximum speed for the Series IIIA was lower than the Series III at 90 mph. It also took longer than the Series III to get to 60 mph (19.3 seconds) but its engine was far more durable. In mid 1963, the Series IIIA convertible was discontinued but the hardtop soldiered on until October 1963 when it was replaced by the Series IV. When production of the Series IIIA ceased, 17,354 units had been built. Late in 1963, Rootes were set to drop the Rapier. It was no longer the mainstay of the competitions department because Rootes had directed its competitive effort towards the Hillman Imp and the Sunbeam Tiger. In fact a totally new Series IV Rapier had been designed, prototypes built and testing completed, and then the Rootes Group changed its mind! The new Series IV Rapier became the Mark I Humber Sceptre and the old Series IIIA Rapier was redesigned, hopefully to give it a new lease of life as a touring saloon rather than a sports coupé. The most obvious difference was the change to 13-inch road wheels in common with the rest of Rootes’ light car range. This meant that the stainless steel wheel trims of earlier Rapiers were replaced by Rootes corporate hub caps and rim finishers. At the front, the car was redesigned to make it look more up-to-date. A new bonnet made the front look lower and flatter and the front wings were modified to accept extensions housing alloy side grilles and sidelights with amber turn indicators. The traditional Sunbeam grille, already stylised for the Series II, was further modified to give a lower, more square shape with a pronounced convex profile. New headlamp rims were fitted, in fact Sunbeam Alpine items but chromed for the Rapier, and a new front bumper using the same shape and profile as the rest of the Light Car range. At the back, a new full width number plate plinth appeared with a new Light Car range bumper. To give a more open look from the side, the frames were removed from the side windows. Finally, small badges fitted at the bottom of each front wing and on the boot lid proclaimed each car to be a “Series IV”. Inside, a new dash, still in walnut veneer, but with the glove box raised into the dash itself allowed the inclusion of a proper storage shelf on each side of the car. Instrumentation and controls were much as before except that the heater switches and ashtray were now housed in a console in front of the gear lever. To aid driver comfort, an adjustable steering column was fitted along with new front seats which allowed more fore and aft adjustment and for the first time, included backrest adjustment. In common with the rest of the light car range, the Rapier’s front suspension was re-engineered to replace the half king pin on each side of the car with a sealed for life ball joint. All other suspension joints became either sealed for life or were rubber bushed thereby eliminating every grease point on the car. Gearing was adjusted overall to compensate for the smaller wheels and the front brake discs were reduced in size so that they would fit inside the wheels. A brake servo became standard and the spring and damper settings were adjusted to give a softer ride. A new diaphragm clutch and new clutch master cylinder brought lighter and more progressive clutch operation. The 1,592 cc engine from the Series IIIA was unchanged but the twin Zenith carburettors finally gave way to a single twin-choke Solex 32PAIA in the interests of serviceability. The effect of the new carburettor was to increase power to 84 bhp and torque to 91 lb·ft at 3,500 rpm. In October 1964, along with the rest of the light car range, the Series IV received the new Rootes all synchromesh gearbox, a change which coincided with the introduction of a new computerised chassis numbering system. When production of the Series IV ceased in 1965, 9700 units had been built. Pending completion of the new Fastback Rapier, Rootes decided to have one more go at updating the Sunbeam Rapier. In September 1965 they introduced the Series V version which looked exactly like the Series IV inside and out except for badges on wings and boot which now said “1725”, revealing a re-developed engine, although the actual capacity was 1,724 cc. Rootes redesigned the Rapier’s four cylinder engine to increase the capacity, with a new five main bearing crankshaft, making the unit stronger and smoother. This engine would be developed for many subsequent models. In the Series V Rapier the engine developed 91 hp at 5,500 rpm. To further update the car, they changed its polarity from positive to negative earth and fitted an alternator in place of the dynamo. They also devised a new twin pipe exhaust system so that the new engine could breathe more easily. The effect of these changes was to increase the Rapier’s maximum speed to 95 mph and reduce its time from rest to 60 mph to 14.1 seconds. However, for all its improvements, the Series V just did not sell. By the time it was discontinued in June 1967, only 3,759 units had been built, making it the rarest of all the “Series” Sunbeam Rapiers. Seen here was a Series III Fixed Head model.
The first Sunbeam to bear the Alpine name was an open-topped version of the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 sports saloon, named after the model’s success in rallying, especially the Monte Carlo rally, launched in 1953. Kenneth Howes and Jeff Crompton were tasked with doing a complete redesign in 1956, with the goal of producing a dedicated sports car aimed principally at the US market to compete with the MGs and Triumphs that were very popular. Ken Howes contributed some 80 per cent of the overall design work, which bears more than incidental resemblance to the early Ford Thunderbird, hardly a surprise, as Howe had worked at Ford before joining Rootes. The Alpine was produced in four subsequent revisions until 1968. Total production numbered around 70,000. Production stopped shortly after the Chrysler takeover of the Rootes Group. Styled by the Loewy Studios for the Rootes Group, the “Series” Alpine started production in late 1959. One of the original prototypes still survives and was raced by British Touring car champion Bernard Unett. The car made extensive use of components from other Rootes Group vehicles and was built on a modified floorpan from the Hillman Husky estate car. The Series I used a 1,494 cc engine with dual downdraft carburettors, a soft top that could be hidden by special integral covers and the first available wind-up side windows offered in a British sports car of that time. The running gear came mainly from the Sunbeam Rapier, but with front disc brakes replacing the saloon car’s drums. An overdrive unit and wire wheels were optional. The suspension was independent at the front using coil springs and at the rear had a live axle and semi-elliptic springing. The Girling-manufactured brakes used 9.5 in discs at the front and 9 in drums at the rear. An open car with overdrive was tested by The Motor in 1959. It had a top speed of 99.5 mph and could accelerate from 0–60 mph in 13.6 seconds. A fuel consumption of 31.4 mpg was recorded. The test car cost £1031 including taxes. 11,904 examples of the series I were produced. The Series II of 1962 featured an enlarged 1,592 cc engine producing 80 bhp and revised rear suspension, but there were few other changes. When it was replaced in 1963, 19,956 had been made. The Series III was produced in open and removable hardtop versions. On the hardtop version the top could be removed and the soft-top was stored behind the small rear seat; also the 1592 cc engine was less powerful. To provide more room in the boot, twin fuel tanks in the rear wings were fitted. Quarter light were fitted to the windows. Between 1963 and 1964, 5863 were made. For the Series IV, made in 1964 and 1965, there was no longer a lower-output engine option; the convertible and hardtop versions shared the same 82 bhp engine with single Solex carburettor. A new rear styling was introduced with the fins largely removed. Automatic transmission with floor-mounted control became an option, but was unpopular. From autumn 1964 a new manual gearbox with synchromesh on first gear was adopted in line with its use in other Rootes cars. A total of 12,406 were made. The final version was the Series V, produced between 1965–68 which had the new five-bearing 1,725 cc engine with twin Zenith-Stromberg semi-downdraught carburettors producing 93 bhp. There was no longer an automatic transmission option. 19,122 were made. The car also formed the basis for the V8 engined Tiger, and you tend to see those more often than the regular Alpines that were seen here, both of them late model cars.
There was also an example of the Alpine Harrington here. These were Coupe versions of the Alpine, much like the later MGB GT in concept, which were built by Thomas Harrington Ltd. After the Le Mans Index of Efficiency success of 1961, Harrington sold replicas as the “Harrington Le Mans”, using a fastback body and an engine tuned to 104 hp. Unlike the Le Mans racers, these cars had a more integrated rear roofline and were without the tail fins of the roadsters. Until 1962 the car was assembled for Rootes by Armstrong Siddeley. Over 400 of them were produced, based on the Series II, III and IV.
There was a nice example of the Sunbeam Lotus here, in the later of the two colour schemes in which the car was offered. The first ones were black and silver and the later ones, with a revised flush plastic grille were two tone blue and silver. The Sunbeam started off life as a Chrysler, launched in 1977, as the long awaited replacement for the Hillman Imp, production of which had ended a year earlier. Based on a cut-down version of the Avenger chassis, this neat looking hatch was initially offered with a choice of 1.0, 1.3 and 1.6 litre 4 cylinder engines and it retained rear wheel drive at a time when all the rivals were switching front wheel drive This was a move forced upon its maker by the lack of capital to do anything else, but whilst it was not great for space efficiency, it would have an advantage when it came to the sporting versions and indeed for what would turn out to be a very successful career in motorsport. The sporting road cars hit the market in 1979, and these are the only examples of the Sunbeam that you tend to see these days. By the time they hit the market, the Chrysler badging had gone, as a consequence of the sale of Chrysler’s European business to Peugeot-Citroen in the summer of 1978 meant that by mid 1979 a new name was required. The old Talbot branding was dusted off and overnight the cars all became Talbots. The first potent Sunbeam to appear had been the Ti, a sort of modern day version of the Avenger Tiger, with a 110 bhp twin carb 1600cc engine under the bonnet. It went on sale in the spring of 1979, as an appetiser for something more special, which had been unveiled at the Geneva Show in March, a few weeks earlier. The Sunbeam Lotus was the fruits of Chrysler’s commission to sports car manufacturer and engineering company Lotus to develop a strict rally version of the Sunbeam. The resulting ‘”Sunbeam Lotus” was based on the Sunbeam 1.6 GLS, but fitted with stiffer suspension, a larger anti-roll bar and a larger transmission tunnel. The drivetrain comprised an enlarged 2172 cc version of the Lotus 1973 cc 907 engine, a 16 valve slant four engine (the Sunbeam version being type 911, similar to the “Lotus 912”), along with a ZF gearbox, both mounted in the car at Ludham Airfield, close to the Lotus facility in Hethel, Norfolk, where the almost-complete cars were shipped from Linwood. Final inspection, in turn, took place in Stoke, Coventry. In road trim, the Lotus type 911 engine produced 150 bhp at 5,750rpm and 150 lb/ft of torque at 4,500rpm. In rallying trim this was increased to 250 bhp Production cars were not actually ready for deliveries to the public until after the mid-year rebranding, and thus became the “Talbot Sunbeam Lotus”. At first these were produced mostly in black and silver, although later models came in a moonstone blue and silver (or black) scheme. The car saw not only enthusiastic press reviews, but also much success in the World Rally Championship – in 1980, Henri Toivonen won the 29th Lombard RAC Rally in one, and, in 1981, the Sunbeam Lotus brought the entire manufacturer’s championship to Talbot. There is an enthusiastic following for Sunbeam Lotus cars these days.
Symbol of Communist East Germany, the Trabant needs little in the way of introduction. Although the majority of cars produced were two door saloons, other body styles were made and this is the Trabant 601 Kübel, which was added to the range in 1966. Effectively, this is a “Jeep” version with no doors, folding roof, auxiliary heating system, and the ignition system is RFI shielded. It proved quite a talking point at the event.
There were lots of Triumph models here, with plenty of variety and most of the different models from the glory years of the 1960s and 1970s represented by at least one example.
Most numerous Triumph model here was the Stag, a significant number of which were to be found parked up together, although there were a few more scattered around the rest of the venue. Envisioned as a luxury sports car, this car was designed to compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz SL. It started as a styling experiment, cut and shaped from a 1963–4 Triumph 2000 pre-production saloon, which had also been styled by Michelotti, and loaned to him by Harry Webster, Director of Engineering at Triumph. Their agreement was that if Webster liked the design, Triumph could use the prototype as the basis of a new Triumph model. Harry Webster, who was a long time friend of Giovanni Michelotti, whom he called “Micho”, loved the design and took the prototype back to England. The end result, a two-door drop head (convertible), had little in common with the styling of its progenitor 2000, but retained the suspension and drive line. Triumph liked the Michelotti design so much that they propagated the styling lines of the Stag into the new Mark 2 2000/2500 saloon and estate. The initial Stag design was based around the saloon’s 2.5-litre six cylinder engine, but Harry Webster intended the Stag, large saloons and estate cars to use a new Triumph-designed overhead cam 2.5-litre fuel injected V8. Under the direction of Harry Webster’s successor, Spen King in 1968, the new Triumph OHC 2.5 PI V8 was enlarged to 2997 cc to increase torque. To meet emission standards in the USA, a key target market, the troublesome mechanical fuel injection was dropped in favour of dual Zenith-Stromberg 175 CDSE carburettors. A key aim of Triumph’s engineering strategy at the time was to create a family of engines of different size around a common crankshaft. This would enable the production of power plants of capacity between 1.5 and 4 litres, sharing many parts, and hence offering economies of manufacturing scale and of mechanic training. A number of iterations of this design went into production, notably a slant four-cylinder engine used in the later Triumph Dolomite and Triumph TR7, and a variant manufactured by StanPart that was initially used in the Saab 99. The Stag’s V8 was the first of these engines into production. Sometimes described as two four-cylinder engines Siamesed together, it is more correct to say that the later four-cylinder versions were half a Stag engine. It has sometimes been alleged that Triumph were instructed to use the proven all-aluminium Rover V8, originally designed by Buick, but claimed that it would not fit. Although there was a factory attempt by Triumph to fit a Rover engine, which was pronounced unsuccessful, the decision to go with the Triumph V8 was probably driven more by the wider engineering strategy and by the fact that the Buick’s different weight and torque characteristics would have entailed substantial re-engineering of the Stag when it was almost ready to go on sale. Furthermore Rover, also owned by British Leyland, could not necessarily have supplied the numbers of V8 engines to match the anticipated production of the Stag anyway. As in the Triumph 2000 model line, unitary construction was employed, as was fully independent suspension – MacPherson struts in front, semi-trailing arms at the rear. Braking was by front disc and rear drum brakes, while steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. Although other bodystyles were envisaged, these never made production, so all Stags were four-seater convertible coupés. For structural rigidity – and to meet new American rollover standards of the time – the Stag required a B-pillar “roll bar” hoop connected to the windscreen frame by a T-bar. A removable hardtop was a popular factory option for the early Stags, and was later supplied as a standard fitment. The car was launched one year late in 1970, to a warm welcome at the various international auto shows. Sadly, it rapidly acquired a reputation for mechanical unreliability, usually in the form of overheating. These problems arose from a variety of causes, all of which are now well understood, and for which solutions have been identified, but at the time, they really hurt the reputation and hence sales of the car. They ranged from late changes to the engine which gave rise to design features that were questionable from an engineering perspective, the choice of materials which necessitated the use of antifreeze all year round, the engine’s use of long, simplex roller link chains, which would first stretch and then often fail inside fewer than 25,000 miles; the arrangement of the cylinder head fixing studs, half of which were vertical and the other half at an angle causing sideways forces which caused premature failure of the cylinder head gaskets. and poor quality production from a plant troubled with industrial unrest and poor quality control. At the time, British Leyland never provided a budget sufficient to correct the few design shortcomings of the Triumph 3.0 litre OHC V8, and the dealers did not help matters. The Stag was always a relatively rare car. British Leyland had around 2,500 UK dealers when the Stag was on sale and a total of around 19,000 were sold in the UK. Thus the average dealer sold only seven or eight Stags during the car’s whole production run, or roughly one car per year. This meant that few dealers saw defective Stags often enough to recognise and diagnose the cause of the various problems. Many owners simply replaced the engine altogether, often with the Rover V8, Ford Essex V6, or even the Triumph 6-cylinder engine around which the car was originally designed. Perhaps thanks to such a reputation for its unreliable engine, only 25,877 cars were produced between 1970 and 1977. Of this number, 6780 were export models, of which 2871 went to the United States. The majority of cars were fitted with a Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic transmission. The other choice was a derivative of the ancient Triumph TR2 gearbox which had been modified and improved over the years for use in the TR series of sports cars. Other than the choice of transmissions there were very few factory-installed options. On early cars buyers could choose to have the car fitted with just the soft-top, just the hard-top (with the hood storage compartment empty) or with both. Later cars were supplied with both roofs. Three wheel styles were offered. The standard fitments were steel wheels with Rostyle “tin-plate” trims. Five-spoke alloy wheels were an option, as were a set of traditional steel spoke wheels with “knock-off”‘ hubcaps. The latter were more commonly found on Stags sold in North America on Federal Specification vehicles. Electric windows, power steering and power-assisted brakes were standard. Options included air conditioning, a luggage rack, uprated Koni shock absorbers, floor mats and Lucas Square Eight fog lamps, and a range of after-market products, most of which were dealer installed as optional accessories could also be fitted. Rather unusually for a 4-seat touring car, the accessory list included a sump protector plate that was never produced. This was probably included as a slightly “gimmicky” tribute to Triumph’s rallying successes. Nowadays, the Stag is seen in a very different light, with lots of very enthusiastic and knowledgeable owners who enjoy the good points of this attractive looking car and who revel in the fact that the market has not yet boosted prices into the unaffordable category, as one day will surely happen.
Many of the other Triumph cars here were TR sports cars, of which the oldest present was a TR3b model. Launched in 1955, the TR3 was an evolution of the TR2 and not a brand new model. It was powered by a 1991 cc straight-4 OHV engine initially producing 95 bhp, an increase of 5 hp over the TR2 thanks to the larger SU-H6 carburettors fitted. This was later increased to 100 bhp at 5000 rpm by the addition of a “high port” cylinder head and enlarged manifold. The four-speed manual gearbox could be supplemented by an overdrive unit on the top three ratios, electrically operated and controlled by a switch on the dashboard. In 1956 the front brakes were changed from drums to discs, the TR3 thus becoming the first British series production car to be so fitted. The TR3 was updated in 1957, with various changes of which the full width radiator grille is the easiest recognition point and the facelifted model is commonly referred to as the Triumph “TR3A”, though unlike the later TR4 series, where the “A” suffix was adopted, the cars were not badged as such and the “TR3A” name was not used officially, Other updates included exterior door handles, a lockable boot handle and the car came with a full tool kit as standard (this was an option on the TR3). The total production run of the “TR3A” was 58,236. This makes it the third best-selling TR after the TR6 and TR7. The TR3A was so successful that the original panel moulds eventually wore out and had to be replaced. In 1959 a slightly modified version came out that had raised stampings under the bonnet and boot hinges and under the door handles, as well as a redesigned rear floor section. In addition, the windscreen was attached with bolts rather than the Dzus connectors used on the early “A” models. Partly because it was produced for less time, the original TR3 sold 13,377 examples, of which 1286 were sold within the UK; the rest being exported mainly to the USA.
Also here was the TR4. 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.
I did not spot any examples of the short-lived TR5, but there were several of the successor to that car here, the TR6, the first Triumph for some time not to have been styled by Michelotti. By the mid 1960s, money was tight, so when it came to replacing the TR4 and TR5 models, Triumph were forced into trying to minimise the costs of the redesign, which meant that they kept the central section of the old car, but came up with new bodywork with the front and back ends were squared off, reportedly based on a consultancy contract involving Karmann. The resulting design, which did look modern when it was unveiled in January 1969 has what is referred to as a Kamm tail, which was very common during 1970s era of cars and a feature on most Triumphs of the era. All TR6 models featured inline six-cylinder engines. For the US market the engine was carburetted, as had been the case for the US-only TR250 engine. Like the TR5, the TR6 was fuel-injected for other world markets including the United Kingdom, hence the TR6PI (petrol-injection) designation. The Lucas mechanical fuel injection system helped the home-market TR6 produce 150 bhp at model introduction. Later, the non-US TR6 variant was detuned to 125 bhp for it to be easier to drive, while the US variant continued to be carburetted with a mere 104 hp. Sadly, the Lucas injection system proved somewhat troublesome, somewhat denting the appeal of the car. The TR6 featured a four-speed manual transmission. An optional overdrive unit was a desirable feature because it gave drivers close gearing for aggressive driving with an electrically switched overdrive which could operate on second, third, and fourth gears on early models and third and fourth on later models because of constant gearbox failures in second at high revs. Both provided “long legs” for open motorways. TR6 also featured semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering, 15-inch wheels and tyres, pile carpet on floors and trunk/boot, bucket seats, and a full complement of instrumentation. Braking was accomplished by disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear. A factory steel hardtop was optional, requiring two people to fit it. TR6 construction was fundamentally old-fashioned: the body was bolted onto a frame instead of the two being integrated into a unibody structure; the TR6 dashboard was wooden (plywood with veneer). Other factory options included a rear anti-roll bar and a limited-slip differential. Some say that the car is one of Leyland’s best achievements, but a number of issues were present and remain because of poor design. As well as the fuel injection problems, other issues include a low level radiator top-up bottle and a poor hand-brake. As is the case with other cars of the era, the TR6 can suffer from rust issues, although surviving examples tend to be well-cared for. The TR6 can be prone to overheating. Many owners fit an aftermarket electric radiator fan to supplement or replace the original engine-driven fan. Also the Leyland factory option of an oil cooler existed. Despite the reliability woes, the car proved popular, selling in greater quantity than any previous TR, with 94,619 of them produced before production ended in mid 1976. Of these, 86,249 were exported and only 8,370 were sold in the UK. A significant number have since been re-imported, as there are nearly 3000 of these much loved classics on the road and a further 1300 on SORN, helped by the fact that parts and services to support ownership of a TR6 are readily available and a number of classic car owners’ clubs cater for the model.
What turned out to be the final TR model was launched in January 1975, and this time it really was all new. A dramatic Harris Mann wedge shaped was shock enough for the purists, but the fact that at launch it only came as a Fixed Head Coupe was almost too much for some to bear. In the end, though. more TR7s were sold than any other TR model, so it really cannot have been all that bad even if the car had a somewhat bumpy existence, moving production plant from Speke, Liverpool where the early cars were made, to Canley, Coventry in 1978 and then finally to the Rover Solihull plant in 1980. An open topped model did join the range in 1980 and small numbers of factory built TR8s with the 135 bhp Rover V8 engine under the bonnet were made, but the proposed 2+2 Lynx model, and a version with the 16 valve Dolomite Sprint engine and the 2 litre O Series unit never made production. The car was launched in the United States in January 1975, with its UK home market debut in May 1976. The UK launch was delayed at least twice because of high demand for the vehicle in the US, with final sales of new TR7s continuing into 1982. The TR7 was characterised by its “wedge” shape, which was commonly advertised as: “The Shape of Things to Come”, and by a swage line sweeping down from the rear wing to just behind the front wheel. It had an overall length of 160 inches, width of 66 inches, wheelbase of 85 inches and height of 49.5 inches, and a kerbside weight of 2205 pounds, exactly 1000 kg. During development, the TR7 was referred to by the code name “Bullet”.The original full size model wore MG logos because it was styled at Longbridge, which was not a Triumph factory. Power was provided by a 105 bhp 1,998 cc eight-valve four-cylinder engine that shared the same basic design as the Triumph Dolomite Sprint engine, mounted in-line at the front of the car. Drive was to the rear wheels via a four-speed gearbox initially with optional five-speed manual gearbox, or three-speed automatic from 1976. The front independent suspension used coil spring and damper struts and lower single link at the front, and at the rear was a four-link system, again with coil springs. There were front and rear anti roll bars, with disc brakes at the front and drums at the rear. The interior trim was revised in March 1977, with the broadcord seat covers being replaced with red or green “tartan” check inserts with black leather effect vinyl edging, which looks so very period. now The tartan trim was also reflected in the door cards in padded matching red or green tartan cloth inserts in the black leather effect vinyl. A number of other detailed changes were made, partly to ensure commonality of parts in future models, such as the Convertible and the TR8, and also based on what else was available from the corporate parts bin. Badging changed a number of times, but there were no other significant alterations before the end of production in 1981. In total approximately 115,000 TR7 models were built which includes 28,864 soft top/convertibles, and approximately 2,800 TR8 models. Seen here was a rather nice Convertible model.
The TR’s smaller and cheaper brother was the Spitfire and there were a couple of examples of the long-lived Mark IV. Based on the chassis and mechanicals of the Triumph Herald, the Spitfire was conceived as a rival to the Austin-Healey Sprite and MG Midget, which were launched a year earlier. The Triumph soon found a strong following, with many preferring it to the BMC cars which in time would become in-house stablemates. Mark II models arrived in 1965 and a more comprehensive facelift in 1967 with the distinctive “bone in mouth” front grille necessitated by US bumper height regulations also brought changes, but it was with the Mark IV that the greatest number of alterations would come about. The Mark IV featured a completely re-designed cut-off rear end, giving a strong family resemblance to the Triumph Stag and Triumph 2000 models, both of which were also Michelotti-designed. The front end was also cleaned up, with a new bonnet pressing losing the weld lines on top of the wings from the older models, and the doors were given recessed handles and squared-off glass in the top rear corner. The interior was much improved: a proper full-width dashboard was provided, putting the instruments ahead of the driver rather than over the centre console. This was initially black plastic however was replaced with wood in 1973. An all-new hardtop was also available, with rear quarter-lights and a flatter rear screen. By far the most significant change, however, was to the rear suspension, which was de-cambered and redesigned to eliminate the unfortunate tendencies of the original swing-axle design. The Triumph GT6 and Triumph Vitesse had already been modified, and the result on all these cars was safe and progressive handling even at the limit. The 75 hp engine was now rated at 63 hp (for UK market employing the 9:1 compression ratio and twin SU HS2 carburettors; the less powerful North American version still used a single Zenith Stromberg carburettor and an 8.5:1 compression ratio) due to the German DIN system; the actual output was the same for the early Mark IV. However, it was slightly slower than the previous Mark III due to carrying more weight, and employing a taller 3.89:1 final drive as opposed to the earlier 4.11:1. The engine continued at 1296 cc, but in 1973 was modified with larger big-end bearings to rationalise production with the TR6 2.5 litre engines, which somewhat decreased its “revvy” nature; there was some detuning, to meet new emissions laws, which resulted in the new car being a little tamer. With the overall weight also increasing to 1,717 lb (779 kg) the performance dropped as a consequence, 0 to 60 mph now being achieved in 15.8 seconds and the top speed reducing to 90 mph. The overall fuel economy also dipped to 32mpg. The gearbox gained synchromesh on its bottom gear. The Mark IV went on sale in the UK at the end of 1970 with a base price of £735. In 1973 in the United States and Canada, and 1975 in the rest of the world, the 1500 engine was used to make the Spitfire 1500. Although in this final incarnation the engine was rather rougher and more prone to failure than the earlier units, torque was greatly increased by increasing the cylinder stroke to 87.5 mm (3.44 in), which made it much more drivable in traffic. While the rest of the world saw 1500s with the compression ratio reduced to 8.0:1, the American market model was fitted with a single Zenith-Stromberg carburettor and a compression ratio reduced to 7.5:1 to allow it to run on lower octane unleaded fuel, and after adding a catalytic converter and exhaust gas recirculating system, the engine only delivered 53 bhp with a slower 0–60 time of 16.3 seconds. The notable exception to this was the 1976 model year, where the compression ratio was raised to 9.1:1. This improvement was short-lived, however, as the ratio was again reduced to 7.5:1 for the remaining years of production. In the UK the 9:1 compression ratio, less restrictive emissions control equipment, and the Type HS2 SU carburettors now being replaced with larger Type HS4 models, led to the most powerful variant to date. The 1500 Spitfire now produced 71hp (DIN) at 5500 rpm, and produced 82 lb/ft of torque at 3000 rpm. Top speed was now at the magical 100 mph mark, and 0 to 60 mph was reached in 13.2 seconds. Fuel economy was reduced to 29mpg. Further improvements to the suspension followed with the 1500 included longer swing axles and a lowered spring mounting point for more negative camber and a wider rear track. The wider, lower stance gave an impressive skid pad result of 0.87g average. This put the Spitfire head and shoulders over its competition in handling. The American market Spitfire 1500 is easily identified by the big plastic over-riders and wing mounted reflectors on the front and back wings. The US specification models up to 1978 still had chrome bumpers, but on the 1979 and 1980 models these were replaced by black rubber bumpers with built-in over-riders. Chassis extensions were also fitted under the boot to support the bumpers. Detail improvements continued to be made throughout the life of the Mark IV, and included reclining seats with “chequered brushed nylon centre panels” and head restraints, introduced for domestic market cars early in 1977 along with a new set of column stalk operated minor controls (as fitted already in the TR7) replacing the old dashboard mounted knobs and switches. Also added for the model’s final years were a wood dash, hazard flashers and an electric screen washer, in place of the previous manual pump operated ones. Options such as the hard top, tonneau cover, map light and overdrive continued to be popular, but wire wheels ceased to be available. The 1980 model was the last and the heaviest of the entire run, weighing 1,875 lb (850.5 kg). Base prices for the 1980 model year was £3,631 in the UK. The last Spitfire, an Inca Yellow UK-market model with hardtop and overdrive, rolled off the assembly line at Canley in August 1980, shortly before the factory closed. It was never sold and is now displayed at the museum at Gaydon.
There were also examples of the Spitfire’s close relative, the GT6, seen in Mark 3 In early 1963 Giovanni Michelotti was commissioned by Standard-Triumph to design a GT version of their recently introduced Spitfire 4. An unmodified Spitfire 4 was delivered to Michelotti’s design studios in Italy and late in 1963 the prototype Spitfire GT4 was returned to England for evaluation. The styling of the vehicle was a success but the extra weight of the GT bodyshell resulted in extremely poor performance from the Spitfire’s 1,147 cc power unit, and plans for producing the Spitfire GT4 were shelved. Michelotti’s fastback design for the Spitfire GT4 prototype was adopted by the Triumph racing programme for the 1964 season, as it was deemed to provide an aerodynamic benefit over the standard Spitfire body shape. Fibreglass copies of the Spitfire GT4’s fastback were grafted on to the race-modified Spitfires destined for competition. The Spitfire racing programme was successful, and in 1965 resulted in 13th overall and a 1st in class at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans (beating their main rivals, the MG Midgets). The Spitfire’s competitive success and the continuing commercial success of the production vehicle led Triumph to re-evaluate its shelved plans for a GT version of the Spitfire. To overcome the lack of performance inherent in the heavier body style the Spitfire’s 4-cylinder engine was replaced with the more powerful 1998 cc 6-cylinder engine from the Triumph Vitesse (which shared a similar chassis with the Spitfire and Triumph Herald). The car was further developed and refined and eventually launched as the Triumph GT6 (dropping the “Spitfire” prefix) to emphasise its GT styling and its 6-cylinder engine. Contemporary Triumph marketing advertised the GT6 as being developed from the “race winning Le Mans Spitfires” to capitalise on their aesthetic similarities, whereas the Le Mans Spitfires and the GT6 were actually two entirely separate development programmes (the GT programme pre-dating the racing programme). However, the marketing spin was so successful that many people erroneously believed the Le Mans Spitfires to actually be GT6s. The production car was introduced in 1966 and called the Triumph GT6. The new body was a sleek fastback design with an opening rear hatch which gave the GT6 the nickname “Poor man’s E-Type”. It was really a 2-seater, but a small extra rear seat could be ordered if required and was large enough for small children. The family resemblance to the Spitfire Mk II was strong, the longer 6-cylinder engine necessitated a new bonnet top with a power bulge and the doors were provided with opening quarter light windows and squared-off glass in the top rear corner. The 6-cylinder engine was tuned to develop 95 bhp at 5000 rpm, and produced 117 lb·ft of torque at 3000 rpm. The increased power necessitated certain changes to the Spitfire mechanics; the radiator was new and mounted further forward in the car and the gearbox was the stronger unit from the Vitesse, with optional overdrive. Front springs were uprated to cope with the extra weight of the new engine. The overall vehicle weight unladed was 1,904 lb (864 kg). The interior of the GT6 was well equipped; a wooden dashboard housed a full complement of instruments, with carpets and heater included as standard. The new car had some very strong selling points. The new engine provided a 106 mph top speed and 0–60 mph in 12 seconds, a little better than the MGB GT. Moreover, the unit was comparatively smooth and tractable, in marked contrast to the MG’s rather harsh 4-cylinder engine. Fuel economy was very reasonable for the period at 20mpg, and the interior well up to the competition. The only major criticism was of its rear suspension; the GT6 inherited the swing-axle system from the Spitfire, which in turn was copied from the Herald small saloon. In the saloon it was tolerated, in the little Spitfire it was not liked and in the powerful GT6 it was heavily criticised. Triumph had done nothing to improve the system for the GT6 and the tendency to break away if the driver lifted off the power mid-corner was not helped at all by the increased weight at the front of the car. The handling was most bitterly criticised in the USA, an important export market for Triumph, where they were traditionally very strong. Similar criticism was being levelled at the Vitesse saloon, which shared the GT6’s engine and its handling problems. Triumph realised that they needed to find an answer to the handling problem, if only to maintain their reputation in the USA. Their response came with the 1969 model year, with the introduction of the GT6 Mk II, known in the States as the GT6+. The rear suspension was significantly re-engineered using reversed lower wishbones and Rotoflex driveshaft couplings, taming the handling and turning the Triumph into an MGB beater. The Vitesse was also modified, but the Spitfire had to wait until 1970 for any improvements to be made. There were other changes for the Mk II; the front bumper was raised (in common with the Spitfire Mk.3) to conform to new crash regulations, necessitating a revised front end, and side vents were added to the front wings and rear pillars. Under the bonnet, the engine was uprated to develop 104 bhp with a new cylinder head, camshaft, and manifolds. Performance improved to 107 mph but perhaps more noteworthy the 0–60 mph time dropped to 10 seconds. The fuel economy was also improved to 25 mpg. The interior was updated with a new dashboard and better ventilation, a two-speed heater fan and a black headlining. Overdrive remained a popular option for the manual transmission. A further update to the Series 3 came in the autumn of 1970, at the same time as the Spitfire Mark IV was launched, but sales remained low and the car was deleted in the autumn of 1973 with production having reached 40,926 examples.
There were several saloon-based models here, too. Among them was an example of the Triumph Herald, in 1200 Saloon format. Towards the end of the 1950s Standard-Triumph offered a range of two-seater Triumph sports cars alongside its Standard saloons, the Standard 8 and 10, powered by a small (803 cc or 948 cc) 4-cylinder engine, which by the late 1950s were due for an update. Standard-Triumph therefore started work on the Herald. The choice of the Herald name suggests that the car was originally intended to be marketed as a Standard, as it fits the model-naming scheme of the time (Ensign, Pennant and Standard itself). But by 1959 it was felt that the Triumph name had more brand equity, and the Standard name was phased out in Britain after 1963. Giovanni Michelotti was commissioned to style the car by the Standard-Triumph board, encouraged by chief engineer Harry Webster, and quickly produced designs for a two-door saloon with a large glass area that gave 93 per cent all-round visibility in the saloon variant and the “razor-edge” looks to which many makers were turning. As Fisher & Ludlow, Standard-Triumph’s body suppliers became part of an uncooperative BMC, it was decided that the car should have a separate chassis rather than adopting the newer monocoque construction. The main body tub was bolted to the chassis and the whole front end hinged forward to allow access to the engine. Every panel – including the sills and roof – could be unbolted from the car so that different body styles could be easily built on the same chassis. As an addition to the original coupé and saloon models, a convertible was introduced in 1960. The Standard Pennant’s 4-cylinder 948 cc OHV engine and 4 speed manual gearbox was used with synchromesh on the top three gears and remote gear shift and driving the rear wheels. Most of the engine parts were previously used in the Standard 8/10. The rack and pinion steering afforded the Herald a tight 25-foot turning circle. Coil and double-wishbone front suspension was fitted, while the rear suspension, a new departure for Triumph, offered “limited” independent springing via a single transverse leaf-spring bolted to the top of the final drive unit and swing axles. Instruments were confined to a single large speedometer with fuel gauge in the saloon (a temperature gauge was available as an option) on a dashboard of grey pressed fibreboard. The coupé dashboard was equipped with speedometer, fuel and temperature gauges, together with a lockable glovebox. The car had loop-pile carpeting and heater as standard. A number of extras were available including twin SU carburettors, leather seats, a wood-vaneered dashboard, Telaflo shock absorbers and paint options. In late 1958, prototype cars embarked on a test run from Cape Town to Tangiers. An account of the journey was embellished by PR at the time. However only minor changes were deemed necessary between the prototype and production cars. The new car was launched at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 22 April 1959 but was not an immediate sales success, partly owing to its relatively high cost, approaching £700 (including 45 per cent Purchase Tax). In standard single-carburettor form the 34.5 bhp car was no better than average in terms of performance. A saloon tested by The Motor magazine in 1959 was found to have a top speed of 70.9 mph and could accelerate from 0–60 mph in 31.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 34.5 mpg was recorded. The rear suspension was criticised as yielding poor handling at the extremes of performance though the model was considered easy to drive with its good vision, light steering (smallest turning circle of any production car) and controls, and ease of repair. A Herald S variant was introduced in 1961 with a lower equipment level and less chromium than the Herald, offered in saloon form only. The 948cc Herald Coupe and Convertible models were discontinued in 1961, the 948cc Herald Saloon in 1962 and the Herald S in 1964. Standard-Triumph experienced financial difficulties at the beginning of the 1960s and was taken over by Leyland Motors Ltd in 1961. This released new resources to develop the Herald and the car was re-launched in April 1961 with an 1147 cc engine as the Herald 1200. The new model featured rubber-covered bumpers, a wooden laminate dashboard and improved seating. Quality control was also tightened up. Twin carburettors were no longer fitted to any of the range as standard although they remained an option, the standard being a single down-draught Solex carburettor. Claimed maximum power of the Herald 1200 was 39 bhp, as against the 34.5 bhp claimed for the 948 cc model. One month after the release of the Herald 1200, a 2-door estate was added to the range. Disc brakes became an option from 1962. Sales picked up despite growing competition from the BMC Mini and the Ford Anglia, with the car proving particularly popular to women drivers. The coupé was dropped from the range in late 1964 as it was by then in direct competition with the Triumph Spitfire. The Triumph Courier van, a Herald estate with side panels in place of rear side windows, was produced from 1962 until 1966, but was dropped following poor sales. Production in England ceased in mid-1964. CKD assembly by MCA in Malta continued till late 1965, at least. The Courier was powered by the 1147 cc engine. An upmarket version, the Herald 12/50, was offered from 1963 to 1967. It featured a tuned engine with a claimed output of 51 bhp in place of the previous 39, along with a sliding (Webasto) vinyl-fabric sunroof and front disc brakes as standard. The 12/50, which was offered only as a 2-door saloon, was fitted with a fine-barred aluminium grille. The power output of the 1200, which remained in production alongside the 12/50, was subsequently boosted to 48 bhp. In October 1967 the range was updated with the introduction at the London Motor Show of the Herald 13/60, which was offered in saloon, convertible and estate-bodied versions. The sun-roof remained available for the saloon as an optional extra rather than a standard feature. The front end was restyled using a bonnet similar to the Triumph Vitesse’s and the interior substantially revised though still featuring the wooden dashboard. Interior space was improved by recessing a rear armrest in each side panel. The engine was enlarged to 1296 cc, essentially the unit employed since 1965 in the Triumph 1300, fitted with a Stromberg CD150 carburettor, offering 61 bhp and much improved performance. In this form (though the 1200 saloon was sold alongside it until the end of 1970) the Herald Saloon lasted until December 1970 and the Convertible and Estate until May 1971, by which time, severely outdated in style if not performance, it had already outlived the introduction of the Triumph 1300 Saloon, the car designed to replace it and was still selling reasonably well but, because of its labour-intensive method of construction, selling at a loss.
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. 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.
Launched at the same time as the Rover 2000 was Triumph’s large saloon car, also called 2000. A replacement for the long running Standard Vanguard, this was the more sporting of the duo, with a subtly different appeal from the Rover. Between them, the cars defined a new market sector in the UK, promising levels of comfort and luxury hitherto associated with larger Rover and Jaguar models, but with usefully lower running costs and purchase prices, all in a modern package. Both added more powerful models to their range, with Rover going down the twin carburettor route, whilst in 1967, Triumph installed a larger 2.5 litre engine and the then relatively new fuel injection system, creating the 2.5PI, which is what was to be seen here. This Lucas system was not renowned for its reliability in the early days, but it did make the car rapid and refined. A facelift in 1969 brought new styling front and rear, which turned out to be a taster for a new grand tourer model which would emerge a few months later, and in this Mark 2 guise, the car was sold until 1977, in both saloon and estate guises. A mid range model, with twin carburettors but the larger engine, the 2500TC was introduced in 1974 and the 2500S arrived in 1975 with more power but also carb fed, to replace the troublesome and thirsty PI. These are the most sought after models now. Representing the model here was a 2.5PI which was made up to look like the entrant in the 1970 London to Mexico rally.
The 1300 Saloon a medium sized luxury car, was intended as a replacement of the popular Triumph Herald. Launched at the London Motor Show in October 1965, the 1300 was designed by Michelotti in a style similar to the larger Triumph 2000. It was Leyland’s first front-wheel drive design. Their major rival was BMC, who were at the time producing three FWD model ranges including the Mini and the best-selling Austin 1100 series; it was hoped by Leyland that some of the 1100s phenomenal success would rub off on the new Triumph. Triumph decided to adopt a different layout to BMC however, placing the engine above the gearbox in a front-back configuration (but not sharing the same oil) rather than BMC’s transverse engine layout. This resulted in a tall profile for the engine/gearbox combination which limited styling options. The engine was the same 1296 cc unit as used in the Triumph Herald 13/60. (the engine had originated in 1953 in the Standard Eight in 803 cc form) A conventional OHV four-cylinder unit, it developed 61 hp with the single Stromberg CD150 carburettor (also as used in the Herald 13/60) and was mated to a 4-speed all-synchromesh gearbox. Front suspension was by double wishbone layout, attached to a shock-absorber/spring unit, and the rear suspension by semi-trailing arms and coil springs like the 2000. The interior was particularly well-appointed with full instrumentation in a wooden dashboard, wooden door cappings, adjustable steering column and comfortable seats with ventilated PVC upholstery. There was through-flow ventilation with outlets under the rear roof lip. The car was fairly roomy, and aside from a slightly baulky gearchange, easy to drive with very reasonable performance. Standard equipment was generous and included thick carpeting but no heated backlight. Although not reclining, the front seats were remarkably versatile and could be easily adjusted for height and rake. The steering column was adjustable not only up and down but back and forth as well. From a safety angle the door handles were recessed and could not be caught on clothing and the (awkward to operate) window winders were spring-loaded and similarly recessed. The instrument panel had a speedometer, fuel gauge, temperature gauge, ammeter and a comprehensive cluster of warning lights arranged in a “pie chart” formation. The rear seat had a centre armrest which could be folded up when not in use. Although the car was costly compared to its more humdrum rivals, it did find favour, both with the press, who rated it, and the public, who bought it in decent quantity. For 1968, the 1300TC joined the basic model. The TC used the engine then fitted in the Triumph Spitfire, which featured twin SU carburettors and in this configuration provided an advertised 75 hp. The compression ratio of the TC was 9.0:1, whereas the single carb engine compression was rated 8.5:1 The car was identified by discreet “TC” badges. Top speed was significantly higher than the 1300 at a claimed 90 mph and acceleration times were cut by 11 percent to a 0–50 mph time of 11.5 seconds. A road test a few months later significantly improved on the company’s performance claims, achieving a maximum speed of 93 mph and 0–50 mph time of 10.5 seconds. With the car then retailing for a recommended UK price of £909, the road test concluded that “the 1300 TC costs only £41 more than the original model, and is a very good bargain indeed”. An estate version of the 1300 reached the concept stages, but was never produced due to budgetary constraints, so all 1300s are four door saloons. In August 1970 the 1300 and 1300TC were replaced by the Triumph 1500. The engine was enlarged to 1493 cc, providing a useful increase in torque, but a decrease in overall power and increased fuel consumption. The front end was cleaned up considerably, and the rear redesigned with longer tail, providing a useful increase in boot space. Production of the FWD Triumphs came to an end in 1973. 113,00 examples of the regular 1300 were made and 35,342 1300TCs, but there are surprisingly few left now.
Representing the Dolomite range was one of the late model 1500 models. The Dolomite really was the 3 Series of its day, a family sized saloon that offered a combination of luxury and sportiness that made it a cut above the average Cortina and Marina. Designed as the successor for the upmarket variants of Triumph’s front-wheel drive designs, and also to replace a sporting relative of the Herald, the 6-cylinder Triumph Vitesse, the Triumph Dolomite was unveiled at the London Motor Show in October 1971. However, due to a number of strikes and other industrial upsets, the car was not reported to be in full production until October 1972. The Dolomite used the longer bodyshell of the front wheel drive Triumph 1500, but with the majority of the running gear carried over from the rear-wheel drive Triumph Toledo. Initially, the only version available used the new slant-four 1854 cc engine, which mated an alloy OHC head to an iron block, providing 91 bhp which offered sprightly performance. This was a version of the engine that the company was already providing to Saab for use in their 99 model. The car was aimed at the then-new compact performance-luxury sector, vying for sales against cars such as the BMW 2002 and Ford Cortina GXL, and was offered with a high level of standard equipment, including twin headlamps, a clock, full instrumentation, luxury seats and carpets, a heated rear window, and a cigar lighter. Styling was similar to the Triumph 1500, with some updates such as a black painted rear panel, vinyl D-posts, and new wheel trims. The car was capable of 100 mph with 60 mph coming up in just over 11 seconds. An overdrive gearbox was soon made available as an option, offering relaxed motorway cruising and improved fuel economy, and there was also an optional automatic transmission. Although the Dolomite proved to be refined and rapid, competitors such as the BMW 2002 had a performance advantage which was costing Triumph dearly, both in terms of sales and prestige. To remedy this, Triumph unveiled the Dolomite Sprint in June 1973, although the launch had been delayed by a year; it had been due to go on sale in 1972. A team of engineers led by Spen King developed a 16-valve cylinder head with all of the valves being actuated using a single camshaft rather than the more conventional DOHC arrangement. The capacity was also increased to 1,998 cc and combined with bigger carburettors the output was upped to 127 bhp. This represented a significant power increase over the smaller 1850cc variant, however it fell short of the original target of 135 bhp Despite BL engineers being able to extract a reliable 150 bhp from test engines, the production line was unable to build the engines to the same level of quality, with production outputs being in the region of 125 bhp to 130 bhp. This led to the original model designation, the Dolomite 135, being replaced at short notice with the Sprint name. As a result of the use of this engine, the Dolomite Sprint has been claimed to be “the world’s first mass-produced multi-valve car”. While other multi-valve engines (notably the Lotus 907) were produced in volume, they were not used in mass production vehicles until after the introduction of the Dolomite Sprint. The design of the cylinder head won a British Design Council award in 1974. Performance was excellent, with 0–60 mph taking around 8.4 seconds, with a maximum speed of 119 mph. Trim was similar to the 1850, with the addition of standard alloy wheels (another first for a British production car), a vinyl roof, front spoiler, twin exhausts and lowered suspension. By now seats were cloth on the 1850, and these were also fitted to the Sprint. Due to the increase in power brought by the new engine, the rest of the driveline was upgraded to be able to withstand the extra torque. The gearbox and differential were replaced by a version of those fitted to the TR and 2000 series cars, albeit with a close ratio gearset in the gearbox. The brakes were upgraded with new pad materials at the front, and the fitment of larger drums and a load sensing valve at the rear. Other changes over the standard Dolomite included the option of a limited slip differential. The optional overdrive and automatic transmission from the 1850 model were also offered as options on the Sprint. Initial models were only offered in Mimosa Yellow, although further colours were available from 1974 on. At launch the Sprint was priced at £1740, which compared extremely well to similar cars from other manufacturers. Prospective buyers would have been hard pressed to justify the extra £1000 cost of the BMW 2002 Tii, which offered similar performance. The four-door practicality of the Sprint also made it a very attractive proposition for the young executive choosing his first company car. The press gave the Dolomite Sprint an enthusiastic reception. Motor summarised its road test (subtitled “Britain leads the way”) with glowing praise: ” …the Sprint must be the answer to many people’s prayer. It is well appointed, compact, yet deceptively roomy. Performance is there in plenty, yet economy is good and the model’s manners quite impeccable … Most important of all, it is a tremendously satisfying car to drive”. Sadly, it proved not quite so satisfying to own, as the legendary BL lack of reliability was a feature on some, but by no means all Sprints. In 1976, Triumph rationalised their range, calling all their small models, Dolomite, and using the same body shell, so the Toledo (which had maintained its stubby tail until this point) and 1500TC became the Dolomite 1300, 1500 and 1500HL respectively. With minor changes to trim and equipment, the cars continued in production until 1980.
Oldest TVR model here was a Vixen. First introduced in 1967 as an evolution of the discontinued 1800S, the new Vixen used the same chassis as the outgoing car, but a significant change was the use of the 1599 cc Ford Kent engine (as found in the Ford Cortina GT), developing 88 bhp, a change necessitated by the problems TVR were having with receiving MG engine deliveries, and also in an effort to lower the price of the car. To use up remaining supplies, the first twelve Vixens built still received the MGB engine. The bodywork was also slightly revised, with the bonnet having a broad flat air intake scoop. The rear of the car with fitted with the round Cortina Mark I tail lamps. 117 of these were built before the S2 model arrived in 1968. This version was built with the longer (90 inch) wheelbase chassis, introduced on the Tuscan V8 but which TVR had now standardised to address complaints about difficulty of ingress. The bonnet was restyled again, with some early cars having a prominent central bulge, and later cars having twin intake ducts at the front corners of the bonnet. The tail lamps were updated from the round Cortina Mark I style to the newer wraparound Mark II style. Also very significant was the fact that the body was bolted (rather than bonded) to the chassis, meaning that it could be easily removed for repairs. The interior was improved, with a leather-skinned steering wheel mounted much lower than before. In a further attempt to improve the quality feel, the body was thicker and panel fit was improved. Sales were strong, with 438 of these made before the arrival of the S3, which continued to improve the car with a number of detail changes. The heat extraction vents on the bonnet were decorated with “Aeroflow” grilles borrowed from the Ford Zodiac Mark IV, and the Ford four-cylinder engine was now in the same tune as in the Ford Capri, producing 92 bhp. Instead of wire wheels, cast alloy wheels were fitted as standard. 165 of these were made before the final iteration, the S4 was launched. This was an interim model that used the TVR M Series chassis with the Vixen body shell. Apart from the chassis, there were no significant mechanical or cosmetic changes between the S3 and S4. Twenty-two were built in 1972 and one in 1973. TVR added a 1300 model to the range in late 1971. This was built in an attempt to fill an “economy” market segment for sports cars. It was powered by a 1296 cc Triumph Spitfire engine making 63 bhp, but its lacklustre performance limited its sales success. Top speed was barely 90 mph. Only fifteen were built, all in 1972. The final six of these cars were built on a M Series chassis, and the very last 1300 was also built with M Series bodywork, although it never received a “1300M” designation. Not to be confused with the later 2500M, the 2500 (marketed as the Vixen 2500 in the United States) was built between 1971 and 1972, and was designed to take advantage of the fact that the Triumph 2.5 litre inline-six engine had already been certified for US emissions standards (although only in 105 bhp form.) The final production run of the 2500 (comprising 96 cars) used the M Series chassis with Vixen-style bodywork. 385 of these cars were made.
TVR replaced their long-running shape with something really quite radical looking in early 1980. with the Tasmin, and there was a relatively early version of these “wedge” era TVRs here. During the 1970s, when Martin Lilley started to look where to take the Blackpool based company next, he noted that Lotus appeared to have reinvented itself with the Elite, Eclat and Esprit, losing much of the kit-car image in the process, and he thought he needed to do something similar. He needed a new design language, so he contacted Oliver Winterbottom who had done the Elite/Eclat for the Norfolk firm, hoping for something new. The wedge-shaped design that Winterbottom created was produced in 1977, and a prototype was created the following year, before the new car’s launch very early in 1980. Based on the Taimar, but with very different wedge styling, the car was not exactly received with massive enthusiasm. The styling looked a bit like yesterday’s car, as the wedge era was on the wane, and the car’s price pitched it against cars like the Porsche 924 Turbo. Development of the new car had drained TVR’s finances, which led to Lilley ceding control of the company in 1981 to Peter Wheeler. The convertible that followed helped matters a bit, whereas the 2 litre 200 and the 2+2 model did not, but in 1983, TVR announced a revised version with the potent Rover 3.5 litre V8 under the bonnet, in lieu of the 2.8 litre Ford Essex unit, and it transformed the car. It was just what was needed, and over the next few years, a series of ever more potent models, with ever wilder styling came into the range. By 1986, the 450SEAC boasted 340 bhp, making this something of a supercar. The model seen here was a 350i.
Most recent TVR here was the 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.
I’m still not quite sure which model this is. A bit of Googling reveals that the car dates from 1932 and has a 2.2 litre engine. I could not find any Vauxhall that matched that when looked at the cars they produced.
Making a welcome appearance here was an example of the Mark 1 Cavalier. The Cavalier was a critical model for Vauxhall, who had been trailing Ford and BL in the sales charts in the all important home market for some time. Much of the reason for that is because they lacked a car to compete directly against the market-leading Ford Cortina, their rival, the Vauxhall Victor having grown in size with every model update marking it more of a Granada competitor, a size up. The Cortina class was crucial, as the United Kingdom tax system meant that sales to company car fleets comprised a larger proportion of the overall market – especially for middle-weight saloons – than elsewhere in Europe. It was dominated by the Cortina, which regularly achieved over 10% of the total market and yet when Cortina Mk II had been replaced by the Ford Cortina Mk III in 1970, in the eyes of the all important company car fleet managers, the newer Cortina never quite matched the earlier car for reliability, notably in respect of problems with its cable clutch and with camshaft wear in the 1.6 and 2.0 litre ohc units. With alternatives in a market which only really wanted “British” cars, and traditionally engineered ones at that, limited to the Morris Marina, there was a clear need for some competition, which meant that the market should have been particularly receptive to Vauxhall’s new Cortina challenger. There was a slight problem that the new car was actually made in Belgium, but that objection was pushed to one side by many when they saw this smartly styled car. Launched with a choice of 1596 and 1,896 cc engines, the Cavalier was a restyled version of the second generation German Opel Ascona, offered as a two and four-door saloon, and with a two-door booted coupé body, withe coupe only available with the larger engine, The Ascona/Cavalier was built on what GM called the U-car platform. Whilst the Cavalier was originally intended to have its own bodywork, it ended up with the front of an Opel Manta B model and the rearend of an Opel Ascona B model, to keep costs down. A different nose, designed by Wayne Cherry, was the only obvious styling feature to set the Vauxhall apart. Although van, pick-up and estate versions were also on the drawing board, these never made production and nor did the prototype that was built using the 2.3 litre Vauxhall Slant-4 engine, planned for use in a high performance variant, which meant that the larger engined Cavaliers were exclusively powered by the Opel CIH engine. The Cavalier did not replace the larger Victor, which remained in production until 1978, as the VX1800/VX2000, With growing demand, and also a desire to answer the “but it is not British built” objection, Vauxhall started to produce the Cavalier in the UK, with the first Cavalier to be assembled at Vauxhall’s Luton plant being driven off the production line by Eric Fountain, Vauxhall’s manufacturing director, on 26 August 1977, after which the 1256 cc version, assembled at Luton and using engine and transmission already familiar to Viva 1300 owners, broadened the range. At that stage the 1584 cc Cavalier and the 1897 cc which had joined it were still being imported from Belgium, but in due course these, too, started to emerge from the Luton production plant. The range was revised in 1978, when the 1.9 litre engine was enlarged to 2 litres and a few weeks later, a three-door hatchback known as the Sports hatch (also seen on the Manta) was added to the range. Apart from minor updates, that was it until the model was replaced in the autumn of 1981 by the new front wheel drive J-car, but there was a new trim added to the range in 1980, the LS, and there was a rare survivor of that on show here. The original Cavalier was a relatively strong seller in Britain, even though it never quite matched the runaway sales success of the Ford Cortina, or even the sales figures attained by British Leyland’s Morris Marina (which sold well throughout the 1970s despite an adverse reputation) but it at least managed to help Vauxhall regain lost ground in a market sector where it had declined during the first half of the 1970s as Victor sales slumped. Nearly 250,000 were sold but there are few survivors of any type of the Mark 1, so this was an interesting display of a once popular, and still, to my eyes, good looking car.
It is over 35 years this year since the launch of the Mk 2 Cavalier, a model which marked the introduction of front wheel drive and the availability of a hatchback to a market segment that was still very conservative in its taste. That the new car was head and shoulders above all its rivals was very evident very quickly, with lusty 1.3 and 1.6 litre engines making it good to drive just adding to the appeal. The range expanded with the more luxurious CD version arriving in late 1982, at which point a five speed gearbox became an option, and a 1.8 litre injected engine added some spice to the SRi version which every 1.6L driver aspired to. Diesels came in 1983 and there was also a practical Estate model in the UK (but not the rest of Europe) which used pressings developed for the Australian Holden Camira version. An open topped model was offered later. A mild facelift in 1986 was enough to keep the car fresh until its replacement by the more rounded and aerodynamic looking Mark 3 in 1988, but somehow it never quite hit the same spot, and GM have struggled ever since to find the same appeal as this car did. Seen here was one of the Calibre versions which were a conversion done by Tickford. 500 cars were produced with the engine from the SRi 130 and a 5 speed close ratio box. All were produced in Carmine Red with Grey Chicago velour trim. The bodywork was a joint design by Tickford and Irmscher. The price new was £13,127 It is believed that just 5 are left on the road.
Final Vauxhall here was a VX220 Turbo, 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.
Needing little in the way of introduction was this Beetle 1300 from the mid 60s.
There were several of the legendary Type 2 “Bus” here. One of them looked a massive restoration project indeed, with little more than a rusty shell to start from, and a second one, whilst better will also entail a lot of work, but given the prices that these fetch, there is doubtless a profit to be had here. Joining them were several that had been restored and which could be enjoyed each and every day.
Contemporary with these was the Type 1 Karmann Ghia Coupe. This model debuted at the October 1953 Paris Auto Show as a styling concept created for Ghia by Luigi Segre. In the early 1950s, Volkswagen was producing its economy car, the Type 1 (Beetle), but with an increase in post-war standards of living, executives at Volkswagen proposed adding a halo car to its model range, contracting with German coachbuilder Karmann for its manufacture. Karmann in turn contracted the Italian firm Ghia, who adapted styling themes previously explored for Chrysler and Studebaker to a Beetle floorpan widened by 12 in. Virgil Exner claimed that the design was his, based on the 1953 Chrysler D’Elegance. In contrast to the Beetle’s machine-welded body with bolt-on wings, the Karmann Ghia’s body panels were butt-welded, hand-shaped, and smoothed with English pewter in a time-consuming process commensurate with higher-end manufacturers, resulting in the Karmann Ghia’s higher price. The design and prototype were well received by Volkswagen executives, and in August 1955 the first Type 14 was manufactured in Osnabrück, Germany. Public reaction to the Type 14 exceeded expectations, and more than 10,000 were sold in the first year. The Type 14 was marketed as a practical and stylish 2+2 rather than as a true sports car. As they shared engines, the Type 14’s engine displacement grew concurrently with the Type 1 (Beetle), ultimately arriving at a displacement of 1584 cc, producing 60 hp. In August 1957, Volkswagen introduced a convertible version of the Karmann Ghia. Exterior changes in 1961 included wider and finned front grilles, taller and more rounded rear taillights and headlights relocated to a higher position – with previous models and their lower headlight placement called lowlights. The Italian designer Sergio Sartorelli, designer of the larger Type 34 model, oversaw the various restylings of the Type 14. In 1970, larger taillights integrated the reversing lights and larger wrap-around indicators. Still larger and wider taillights increased side visibility. In 1972, large square-section bumpers replaced the smooth round originals. For the USA model only, 1973 modifications mandated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) included energy-absorbing bumpers. A carpeted package shelf replaced the rear seat. In late 1974 the car was superseded by the Porsche 914 and the Golf based Scirocco.There were both early and late model cars on show here.
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 aorund 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).
Final VW was certainly a car the Germans would call a “Youngtimer” classic, this rather nice Corrado VR6. VW had enjoyed considerable success with the Scirocco, a front wheel drive Hatch that was based on the Golf, and offered a stylish modern alternative to the Ford Capri and Opel Manta. the second generation car did not quite the same favour as the first, but even so there was eager anticipation of what was initially thought would be the third generation car. But as VW looked to push the model further upmarket, they opted for a new name, choosing Corrado for the car, which debuted in 1988. Although the new car’s floorpan was based on that of the Mark 2 Golf/Jetta, there had been a plan that the model would actually replace the Porsche 944. That idea came to nought and the car, built by Karmann, as the Scirocco had been, took its place in the VW range, alongside the Scirocco which remained in production for a further three years. All Corrados were front-wheel drive and featured petrol engines, the car debuting with two engine choices: a 1.8 litre 16-valve inline-four with 136 hp and a troublesome supercharged 1.8 litre eight-valve inline-four, marketed as the G60 and delivering 160 hp. The Corrado G60 was named for the G-Lader with which it was equipped, a scroll supercharger whose interior resembles the letter “G”. Volkswagen introduced two new engines for 1992. The first was a naturally-aspirated 2.0 litre 16-valve 136 bhp inline-four, basically a further development of the 1.8 litre engine; this engine was not made available to the North American market. The second was the 12-valve VR6 engine, which came in two variants: a 2.8 litre 179 bhp model for the US and Canadian markets and a 2.9 litre 187 bhp version for the European market. Upon revising the engine, VW updated the styling with a new front grille and foglamps. With the introduction of the VR6 engine, the G60 engine disappeared from the North American market after 1992 and European market in 1993. The VR6 engine provided a compromise between both V-shaped and straight engines by placing the two cylinder banks at an angle of 15° with a single cylinder head. This design allowed engineers to fit a six-cylinder engine into roughly the same space that was previously occupied by four-cylinder engines, while closely approaching the smoothness of a straight-six design. By the time it was launched, VW had updated the Golf to the Mark 3,and some elements of its A3 platform was introduced on the Corrado with the VR6 announcement, including the suspension components, the rear axle assembly and some parts of the A3’s ‘plus’ type front axle assembly. The subsequent wider front wheel-track of the Corrado VR6 necessitated the fitting of new front wings with wider wheel arches and liners along with a new front bumper assembly. Together with a new raised-style bonnet to accommodate the VR6 engine, these body improvements were carried across the model range. A 2.0 litre eight-valve model with 115 hp was produced in Europe in 1995. A UK-only limited production model, the Corrado Storm, was also sold. Some discreet “Storm” badging, a colour-keyed front grille, an additional Storm badge on the gear gaiter surround (an upgrade from the standard Karmann badge), 15 inch BBS “Solitude” alloy wheels, and standard fitment of some previously optional items (such as the leather heated front seats) were all that differentiated this model from the base Corrado VR6. Only 500 were produced: 250 in Classic Green with a cream leather interior, and 250 in Mystic Blue, a colour unique to the Storm, with a black leather interior. The Storm models are the most desirable of all these days. Production ended in 1995. Although the car was much praised for its handling, and the VR6 engine was sublime, t was costly, Karmann’s build quality was patchy and those who experienced the G60 versions had more than their fair share of reliability issues (A colleague of mine had at least 4 superchargers blow in the first 60,000 miles). All told, 97,521 Corrados were produced.
There was a late model example of the “Amazon” Volvo here. Although costly when new, thanks to the UK’s Import Duty which applied to foreign car imports at the time, the Volvo of this era was surprisingly popular with UK buyers. The cars were tough, as strong success in rallying evidenced, but not that many have survived. There’s a complex history to this model, with lots of different numbers applied to the car during a 13 year production run. When introduced, the car was named the Amason (with an ‘s’), deriving from the fierce female warriors of Greek mythology, the Amazons. German motorcycle manufacturer Kreidler had already registered the name, and the two companies finally agreed that Volvo could only use the name domestically (i.e., within Sweden), modifying the spelling to Amazon. Subsequently, Volvo began its tri-digit nomenclature and the line became known as the 120 Series. Under prototype designation 1200, following the PV444’s internal designation as the 1100, the Amazon was released in the press in February 1956, with production initially set to begin in July of the same year, and deliveries commenced in August 1956 — under the now modified internal designation 120 series. The Amazon sedan’s ponton genre, three-box styling was inspired by US cars of the early 1950s, strongly resembling the Chrysler New Yorker sedan and the Chrysler 300C hardtop Coupe. According to designer Jan Wilsgaard, the Amazon’s styling was inspired by a Kaiser he saw at the Gothenburg harbour. The Amazon featured strong articulation front to rear, pronounced “shoulders”, and slight but visible tailfins. These features became inspiration for Peter Horbury when reconceiving Volvo’s design direction with the V70 after decades of rectilinear, slab-sided, boxy designs. The Amazon’s bodywork was constructed of phosphate-treated steel (to improve paint adhesion) and with heavy use of undercoating and anti-corrosive oil treatment. The Amazon shared the wheelbase, tall posture and high H-point seating of its predecessor, the PV. In 1959 Volvo became the world’s first manufacturer to provide front seat belts as standard equipment — by providing them on all Amazon models, including the export models — and later becoming the first car featuring three-point seat belts as standard equipment. The Amazon’s handbrake location, outboard of the driver’s seat, was intended to accommodate subsequent bench seat models with column shift transmissions — which never materialised. Buyers began to receive the first cars in February 1957, and initial models were two-tone red and black with light grey roof, light grey with a black roof, followed by a dark blue with grey roof in 1958. Further iterations included the 121, the base model with a single carburettor 66 bhp engine, the 122S introduced in 1958 as a performance model equipped with a dual carburettor 85 bhp engine. The estate version was introduced at the 1962 Stockholm Auto Show, and Volvo manufactured 73,000 examples between 1962 and 1969. The Amazon estate featured a two-piece tailgate, with the lower section folding down to provide a load surface and the upper section that hinged overhead. The vehicle’s rear licence plate, attached to the lower tailgate, could fold “up” such that when the tailgate was lowered and the vehicle in use, the plate was still visible. This idea was used by the original 1959 Mini. In recent years a similar arrangement was used on the tailgate of the Subaru Baja. In 1966 the Volvo PV ended production, replaced by the Amazon Favorit, a less expensive version of the Amazon, without exterior chrome trim, a passenger-side sun visor or cigarette lighter, and with a three-speed rather than four-speed transmission — available in black with red interior and later white or black with red interior. The newer Volvo 140 was becoming the company’s mainstream model, and the last of the four-door 120 saloons were produced in 1967, the year which saw the launch of the 123GT, which was a Model 130 with high-compression four-cylinder B18B engine (from the Volvo P1800), M41 gearbox, fully reclining seats, front fog and driving lights (on some markets), alternator, fender mounted mirrors, special steering wheel, dash with a shelf and tachometer, and other cosmetic upgrades. In 1969 the displacement of the old B18 engine was increased and the engine was called the B20. The last Amazon was manufactured on 3 July 1970. By the end of production, 234,653 four-door models, 359,917 two-door models and 73,220 station wagons had been produced, of which 60% were exported; a total of 667,791 vehicles.
This is a nice example of the Volvo P1800, a sports car that was manufactured by Volvo Cars between 1961 and 1973. The car was a one-time venture by the usually sober Swedish Volvo, who already had a reputation for building sensible sedans. The project was originally started in 1957 because Volvo wanted a sports car to compete in the US and European markets, despite the fact that their previous attempt, the P1900, had failed to take off with only 68 cars sold. The man behind the project was an engineering consultant to Volvo, Helmer Petterson, who in the 1940s was responsible for the Volvo PV444. The design work was done by Helmer’s son Pelle Petterson, who worked at Pietro Frua at that time. Volvo insisted it was an Italian design by Frua and only officially recognised that it was by Pelle Petterson many years later. The Italian Carrozzeria Pietro Frua design firm (then a recently acquired subsidiary of Ghia) built the first three prototypes between September 1957 and early 1958, later designated by Volvo in September 1958: P958-X1, P958-X2 and P958-X3. In December 1957 Helmer Petterson drove X1, the first hand-built P1800 prototype to Osnabrück, West Germany, headquarters of Karmann. Petterson hoped that Karmann would be able to take on the tooling and building of the P1800. Karmann’s engineers had already been preparing working drawings from the wooden styling buck at Frua. Petterson and Volvo chief engineer Thor Berthelius met there, tested the car and discussed the construction with Karmann. They were ready to build it and this meant that the first cars could hit the market as early as December 1958. But in February, Karmann’s most important customer, Volkswagen forbade Karmann to take on the job, as they feared that the P1800 would compete with the sales of their own cars, and threatened to cancel all their contracts with Karmann if they took on this car. This setback almost caused the project to be abandoned. Other German firms, NSU, Drautz and Hanomag, were contacted but none was chosen because Volvo did not believe they met Volvo’s manufacturing quality-control standards. It began to appear that Volvo might never produce the P1800. This motivated Helmer Petterson to obtain financial backing from two financial firms with the intention of buying the components directly from Volvo and marketing the car himself. At this point Volvo had made no mention of the P1800 and the factory would not comment. Then a press release surfaced with a photo of the car, putting Volvo in a position where they had to acknowledge its existence. These events influenced the company to renew its efforts: the car was presented to the public for the first time at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1960 and Volvo turned to Jensen Motors, whose production lines were under-utilised, and they agreed a contract for 10,000 cars. The Linwood, Scotland, body plant of manufacturer Pressed Steel was in turn sub-contracted by Jensen to create the unibody shells, which were then taken by rail to be assembled at Jensen in West Bromwich. In September 1960, the first production P1800 left Jensen for an eager public. The engine was the B18, an 1800cc petrol engine, with dual SU carburettors, producing 100 hp. This variant (named B18B) had a higher compression ratio than the slightly less powerful twin-carb B18D used in the contemporary Amazon 122S, as well as a different camshaft. The ‘new’ B18 was actually developed from the existing B36 V8 engine used in Volvo trucks at the time. This cut production costs, as well as furnishing the P1800 with a strong engine boasting five main crankshaft bearings. The B18 was matched with the new and more robust M40 manual gearbox through 1963. From 1963 to 1972 the M41 gearbox with electrically actuated overdrive was a popular option. Two overdrive types were used, the D-Type through 1969, and the J-type through 1973. The J-type had a slightly shorter ratio of 0.797:1 as opposed to 0.756:1 for the D-type. The overdrive effectively gave the 1800 series a fifth gear, for improved fuel efficiency and decreased drivetrain wear. Cars without overdrive had a numerically lower-ratio differential, which had the interesting effect of giving them a somewhat higher top speed of just under 120 mph, than the more popular overdrive models. This was because the non-overdrive cars could reach the engine’s redline in top gear, while the overdrive-equipped cars could not, giving them a top speed of roughly 110 mph. As time progressed, Jensen had problems with quality control, so the contract was ended early after 6,000 cars had been built. In 1963 production was moved to Volvo’s Lundby Plant in Gothenburg and the car’s name was changed to 1800S (S standing for Sverige, or in English : Sweden). The engine was improved with an additional 8 hp. In 1966 the four-cylinder engine was updated to 115 PS, which meant the top speed increased to 109 mph. In 1969 the B18 engine was replaced with the 2-litre B20B variant of the B20 giving 118 bhp, though it kept the designation 1800S. For 1970 numerous changes came with the fuel-injected 1800E, which had the B20E engine with Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection and a revised camshaft, and produced 130 bhp without sacrificing fuel economy. Top speed was around 118 mph and acceleration from 0–62 took 9.5 seconds. In addition, the 1970 model was the first 1800 with four-wheel disc brakes; till then the 1800 series had front discs and rear drums. Volvo introduced its final P1800 variant, the 1800ES, in 1972 as a two-door station wagon with a frameless, all-glass tailgate. The final design was chosen after two prototypes had been built by Sergio Coggiola and Pietro Frua. Frua’s prototype, Raketen (“the Rocket”), is located in the Volvo Museum. Both Italian prototypes were considered too futuristic, and instead in-house designer Jan Wilsgaard’s proposal was accepted. The ES engine was downgraded to 125 bhp by reducing the compression ratio with a thicker head gasket (engine variant B20F); although maximum power was slightly down the engine was less “peaky” and the car’s on-the-road performance was actually improved. The ES’s rear backrest folded down to create a long flat loading area. As an alternative to the usual four-speed plus overdrive manual transmission, a Borg-Warner three-speed automatic was available in the 1800ES. With stricter American safety and emissions standards looming for 1974, Volvo did not see fit to spend the considerable amount that would be necessary to redesign the small-volume 1800 ES. Only 8,077 examples of the ES were built in its two model years. Seen here is one of the 1800S cars.
This was an absolutely pristine looking Wartburg 1.3, a model that was not sold in the UK when new. These were produced by Automobilwerk Eisenach between October 1988 and April 1991, as an updated version of the Wartburg 353, with a 1.3 litre, four-stroke, four-cylinder engine as also used in the second generation Volkswagen Polo, instead of the original 1-litre, two-stroke, three-cylinder unit found in the 353. In 1984 a deal was reached in which IFA would assemble Volkswagen’s 1.3-litre EA111 engine under license, in the Barkas plant in Karl-Marx-Stadt (Chemnitz). The engine was too long to be mounted longitudinally in the Wartburg 353, and too long to fit between the front wheels in a transverse installation. One prototype with the longitudinal engine was built, nicknamed Nasenbär (Coati) because of its long nose. Wartburg chose the transverse option, and thus the Wartburg 1.3 only entered production in October 1988 as a new transmission also had to be developed, as well as an entirely new front end (everything ahead of the A-pillar was new). The track was widened by 3.9 inches in front and by 2.4 inches in the rear, necessitating small wing extensions. The new drivetrain also meant that the gearlever migrated to the floor, instead of on the column where it was usually found on Wartburgs. The considerable changes meant that the development costs far outreached the projected expense of manufacturing the four-stroke 1600 cc engine developed by Wartburg’s own engineers in the early seventies. The appearance was also altered by the installation of a new front panel, with large wraparound turn signals and a smoothed-off appearance. Being rather expensive (nearly twice the price of the 353 W), the 1.3 sold slowly from the get-go. The two-stroke 353 W continued to be built until 1989, when imported cars became available. Being a four-stroke was not enough of a novelty to convince buyers, especially in Western export markets. After the reunification in late 1989, the Wartburg 1.3 was no longer competitive, and production slowed down until it was discontinued on 10 April 1991. A pickup version (not available within the Eastern Bloc) called the Wartburg 1.3 Trans was also available, although only about 920 were built. A total of 152,757 Wartburg 1.3 were built, about half of them intended for export.
A close relative of the better known MG Magnette was this Wolseley 4/44, produced from 1953 to 1956. It was designed under the Nuffield Organisation but by the time it was released in 1953, Wolseley was part of BMC. Much of the design was shared with the MG Magnette ZA which was released later in the same year. Unlike the MG, the 4/44 used the 1250 cc XPAW engine a version of the XPAG engine previously seen in the later MG T-type series of cars but detuned by only having a single carburettor. The power output was 46 bhp at 4800 rpm. The four speed manual transmission had a column change. The construction was monocoque with independent suspension at the front by coil springs and a live rear axle. The car had upmarket trim with wooden dashboard and leather seats and a traditional Wolseley radiator grille with illuminated badge but was expensive at £997 on the home market. The 4/44 was replaced in 1956 by the similar Wolseley 15/50.
Many of the workshops on site were open, and you could either peer in from the side, or in some cases wander in for a really close up look at what was underway. Staff from some of them were on hand to answer questions and to talk about their work. Although some of the businesses here are marque specific, such as Blue Diamond, who work on Rileys, others will clearly apply their skills to whatever work comes their way, so there is great variety and you never quite know what you will find in each of the workshops. I rather liked this pair of Jaguar XK120s.
Elsewhere, you could see a workshop, which included the famous ex works Jaguar D Type 207RW, as well as countless other priceless cars that are to be seen during the season in historic racing. This is clearly where many of them come for servicing, fettling and any repair work associated with their track action.
Another business here concentrates on vintage Bentleys, and there are always several examples of these imposing machines in various states of repair and restoration.
As with previous events, a musical backdrop was provided by a mobile cinema organ, and I came across a vintage Fire Engine, as well as the site’s popular Traction Engine, which was being used to haul the trailer taking people back to the “modern’s” car park.
Having now attended three Bicester Sunday Scrambles, I’ve started to spot which cars would appear to be regular attendees. That’s almost inevitable at any event, as let’s face it, there are only so many classic and interesting cars around, and people will, like me, make a habit of going back to events that they enjoy, with the car that they own. But this really is not a demerit here in the way that it is at some Breakfast Clubs, as this event is so big that there would appear to be far more cars that were not at the last one than ones that were, and anyway, with such a large site, cars end up parked in very different places each time, so you get a very different view of whatever is on show. So, tis proved to be an excellent day, just as expected. It is a shame that is clashes with the Prescott Autumn Finale, also an event which I enjoy, but as there are only so many weekends in the season, so diary clashes are inevitable. With both venues having announced their 2018 dates, I can see that the two do clash again, but I can say now, that great though the Prescott event is, this one is likely to win out. Meanwhile, the next Sunday Scramble takes place on 8th January 2018. I will be there.