The Salon Privé event is well established in the UK’s motoring calendar, and after being held at a couple of different London-based locations, it moved out to Blenheim Palace in 2015. As well as including all the display and event cars, it became increasingly popular for attendees to bring their own supercars, and rather than leave these all in the public carpark, the organisers took advantage of the extra space available in the event’s new home to incorporate many of them in the displays associated with the main event. There were so many of them, that they almost constituted an event in its own right, and that can’t have gone unnoticed. In 2015, a much cheaper entry ticket was offered, which only allowed access to this part of the event, with the main collection of truly special classic and exclusive cars, as well as the dealers and the very posh lunch and drinks hosted on the South Lawn, available only to those who had paid for the costly entrance ticket. For 2017, an extra day was announced, which would focus solely on the Classic and Supercars. As Salon Privé seems every year to coincide with the Concours of Elegance weekend, I had already sorted my tickets which meant I attended the last day of the Salon Privé itself and then on the Sunday, when Blenheim was just hosting the Classic and Supercars, I was at Hampton Court for the Concours. I saw the pictures from the Blenheim event, and it looked as if missed out on relatively little of what I had seen at Salon Privé, even allowing for the fact that the weather made it one of the wettest days of the event year. When I was planning for 2018 once I discovered that Salon Privé – never a cheap event to attend – had increased the cost of even the cheapest ticket by a massive amount, again, I decided that this time I would switch my attendances around, and would go to Blenheim on the Classic and Supercar Day, following a Saturday at the Concours of Elegance the previous day. It certainly made for a much cheaper weekend. Here is what I saw.
One of the oldest cars in the entire event was also, in my opinion, one of the nicest. This is an Alfa 6C 1750 that was on Dylan Miles’ stand, a classic car dealer. The Alfa-Romeo 6C 1750 was one of the most successful racing Alfa Romeo’s ever built and was launched in 1929 as an evolution of the 1928 Mille Miglia winning 6C 1500. The 6C 1750 enjoyed a highly successful sporting career including a 1-2-3 finish at the Mille Miglia with the winning car of Tazio Nuvolari averaging more than 100 km/h in addition to top results at the Targa Florio, the Tourist Trophy and Spa 24 hours in the early 1930’s. Production of the Sport and Super Sport lasted only two years and many 6Cs were made with sports saloon and drophead coupe bodywork,k while the fastest and most attractive were the short chassis cars bodied by Zagato which remain the most desirable. This series four 6C 1750 GS was built in 1930 and was previously owned by highly respected pre-war Alfa racer Rodney Felton, known for his heroic racing exploits with both 8C and Tipo B in VSCC events for many years. The 6C was restored in the 1970s and fitted with the highly attractive Zagato type coachwork it wears today, beautifully hand crafted in aluminium. The Alfa later formed part of a large private UK collection and was displayed in a museum in the Isle of Man.
The only other Alfa in the event that I spotted was an example of the 4C Spider. First seen as a concept at the 2011 Geneva Show, the definitive Coupe 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! – and most love their car. The Spider model followed in 2015, with the first examples of these reaching owners around the turn of the year, and when these cars gather now, you are just as likely to see a Spider as a Competizione.
There have been three new Aston Martin bodystyles introduced in the last couple of years, and these constitute the bulk of the current range. There was a dealer display with an example of each, focused on the models that have only be first delivered in 2018. These are the new Vantage, the open-topped Volante version of the DB11 and the most recent addition to the range the DBS Superleggera, a car which few would yet have seen in person, as it is not yet on Britain’s roads in the owners’ hands.
Needless to say, there were owner examples of the Vantage and DB11 elsewhere in the displays, as well.
Oldest of the Aston Martin models at the event was this DB4 GT Zagato. It does indeed date back to 1962, but it is not actually an original Zagato model, having started out as a regular DB4 Series IV car.
Next up was the 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. As well as the DB6 saloon, there was one of these short chassis Volante models here.
Representing the longest lived design in Aston Martin’s history was this DBS. 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.
During 2016, a handful of luck customers were able to take delivery of one (or both) of a couple of very special versions of the Vantage offered, the GT8 and GT12, and examples of both were here. First of them was the Vantage GT12. This started out as the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 special edition when it was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show 2015. The company said that they would only manufacture 100 cars. After a complaint from Porsche over the use of the “GT3” moniker, the car was renamed the Vantage GT12. It features a new iteration of the 6.0-litre V12 that produces 592 bhp and 461 lb/ft of torque. It has a kerb weight of 1,535 kg (3,384 lb), and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. There were sufficient external alterations that you would know that you were looking at something very special. For the Vantage GT8, which was launched a year later, Aston decided to make more cars – 150 of them, which was 50 more than the GT12. The GT8 features the same 4.7-litre V8 as found in the base Vantage but with power now increased to 440 bhp, and has a top speed of 190 mph (310 km/h). The GT8 is available with either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed Sportshift II automated manual transmission, and has a kerb weight of 1,510 kg (3,329 lb), a 100 kg (220 lb) reduction over the V8 Vantage S.
Follow on to the DB7 was the DB9 (there has never been a car called DB8 – supposedly because people might have assumed this meant a V8 engine), and there was a nice example here. The Aston Martin DB9, designed by Marek Reichmann and Hendrik Fisker, was first shown by Aston Martin at the 2003 Frankfurt Auto Show, in coupe form. It was widely praised for the beauty of its lines. This was the first model to be built at Aston Martin’s Gaydon facility. It was built on the VH platform, which would become the basis for all subsequent Aston models. The Aston Martin DB9 was initially launched equipped with a 6.0 litre V12 engine, originally taken from the V12 Vanquish. The engine produced 420 lbf·ft of torque at 5,000 rpm and a maximum power of 444 hp at 6,000 rpm, allowing the DB9 to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 299 km/h (186 mph). The engine largely sits behind the front-axle line to improve weight distribution. Changes to the engine for the 2013 model year increased the power to 503 hp and torque to 457 lb-ft, decreasing the 0 to 60 mph time to 4.50 seconds and with a new top speed is 295 km/h (183 mph). The DB9 was available with either a six-speed conventional manual gearbox from Graziano or a six-speed ZF automatic gearbox featuring paddle-operated semi-automatic mode. The gearbox is rear-mounted and is driven by a carbon-fibre tail shaft inside a cast aluminium torque tube. The DB9 was the first Aston Martin model to be designed and developed on Ford’s aluminium VH (vertical/horizontal) platform. The body structure is composed of aluminium and composites melded together by mechanically fixed self-piercing rivets and robotic assisted adhesive bonding techniques. The bonded aluminium structure is claimed to possess more than double the torsional rigidity of its predecessor’s, despite being 25 percent lighter. The DB9 also contains anti-roll bars and double wishbone suspension, supported by coil springs. To keep the back-end in control under heavy acceleration or braking, the rear suspension has additional anti-squat and anti-lift technology. Later versions of the car also features three modes for the tuning: normal, for every-day use, sport, for more precise movement at the cost of ride comfort, and track, which furthers the effects of the sport setting. The Aston Martin DB9 Volante, the convertible version of the DB9 coupe, followed a few months later. The chassis, though stiffer, uses the same base VH platform. To protect occupants from rollovers, the Volante has strengthened windscreen pillars and added two pop-up hoops behind the rear seats. The hoops cannot be disabled and will break the car’s rear window if deployed. In an effort to improve the Volante’s ride while cruising, Aston Martin have softened the springs and lightened the anti-roll bars in the Volante, leading to a gentler suspension. The retractable roof of the Volante is made of folding fabric and takes 17 seconds to be put up or down. The Volante weighs 59 kilograms (130 pounds) more than the coupe. The coupe and Volante both share the same semi-automatic and automatic gearboxes and engine. The car was limited to 266 km/h (165 mph) to retain the integrity of the roof. Like the coupe, the original Volante has 420 lb·ft of torque at 5,000 rpm and a maximum power of 450 hp at 6,000 rpm. The 0 to 60 mph slowed to 4.9 seconds due to the additional weight. The DB9 was facelifted in July 2008, which mainly amounted to an increase in engine power, to 476 hp and a redesigned centre console. Externally, the DB9 remained virtually unchanged. For the 2013 model year revision, Aston made minor changes to the bodywork by adapting designs from the Virage, including enlarging the recessed headlight clusters with bi-xenon lights and LED daytime strips, widening the front splitter, updating the grille and side heat extractors, updating the LED rear lights with clear lenses and integrating a new rear spoiler with the boot lid. .On newer models, like the coupe’s, the Volante’s horsepower and torque increased to 517 PS (510 hp) and 457 lb·ft respectively. As a finale for the model, a more powerful DB9 was released in 2015, called the DB9 GT. This had 540 bhp and 457 lb-ft of torque at 5500 rpm, giving a 0 to 60mph time of 4.4 seconds and 0 to 100mph in 10.2 seconds, with the standing quarter mile dispatched in 12.8 to 12.9 seconds and a top speed of 183mph. Production of the DB9 ended in 2016 being replaced by its successor, the DB11.
Also here was an example of the outgoing Vanquish, the second generation to bear the name. This version started life as the Project AM310 Concept that was unveiled at the 2012 Concorso D’Eleganza at Villa D’Este on the shores of Lake Como, Italy. The concept car was based on the fourth generation VH platform. It included a tweaked version of Aston Martin’s familiar grille and headlight design and a more pronounced bulge in the bonnet – with the real One-77-inspired flourishes saved for the sides and the rear, the side vents run almost to the door handles (from One-77), new rear light design from One-77, and a 5.9-litre V12 engine that produced 550 PS. Aston Martin later announced that the concept would be put into production as the all new Aston Martin Vanquish. The exterior styling of the Vanquish is an evolution of the DBS with many styling cues such as the elongated side strakes being inspired by the Aston Martin One-77. The boot lid included an integrated rear spoiler designed to look as if it is impossible to make; this was done on the orders of Aston Martin Chief Executive, Dr. Ulrich Bez. The car has an exposed carbon fibre side skirt showing its all carbon fibre body. The Vanquish uses the new VH Generation IV platform which is lighter and uses more carbon fibre components than the VH Generation II platform used in the DBS. The car featured an all new interior based on the one found in the exclusive One-77. The standard interior was trimmed in hand stitched leather and alcantara and was available in a range of colours. The centre console features an revised infotainment system over the one found in the DBS. The car was available as either a 2-seater or 2+2. The Vanquish used an upgraded version of Aston Martin’s flagship 5.9-litre AM11 V12 engine called the AM28 with a power output of 565 bhp at 6,750 rpm and torque of 457 lb/ft at 5,500 rpm. The Vanquish can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.1 seconds, and has a top speed of 295 km/h (183 mph). Like most Aston Martins, the engine is front mid-mounted for better weight distribution, with the power going to the rear wheels. The Vanquish has 51/49 front/rear weight distribution, and a kerb weight of 1,739 kg (3,834 lb). It uses a fully catalysed stainless steel exhaust system with active bypass valves. The Vanquish uses an updated Touchtronic II six-speed automatic gearbox. It was the first Aston Martin model to be available with launch control. The combined space of cabin and a boot that, at 368 litres, is more than 60% larger than that of the DBS. The brakes are ventilated carbon ceramic discs, 398 mm (15.7 in) six-piston callipers in the front and 360 mm (14.2 in) four-piston callipers in the rear. The suspension is a lightweight aluminium front subframe with hollow castings with independent double wishbones incorporating anti-dive geometry, coil springs, anti-roll bar, and monotube adaptive dampers in the front and independent double wishbones with anti-squat and anti-lift geometry, coil springs, anti-roll bar, and monotube adaptive dampers in the rear. It has a three-stage adjustable adaptive damping system including normal, sport and track modes. The tyres are Pirelli P Zeros, 255/ZR20 in the front and 305/30 ZR20 in the rear. The vehicle was unveiled in the London Film Museum, Covent Garden, followed by 2012 Monterey Car Week. Deliveries to UK and Continental Europe began in late 2012. In August 2014, Aston Martin revealed technical modifications to the Vanquish. The changes include a new eight-speed Touchtronic III gearbox and upgraded AM29 V12 engine that produces 568 bhp and torque of 465 lb/ft. The changes greatly enhanced performance, with an acceleration of 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.6 seconds, and a top speed of 324 km/h (201 mph). In 2013, Aston Martin unveiled a convertible version of the Vanquish, called Volante. The Volante includes a full carbon fibre body, triple-skin lightweight fabric roof, 50% larger boot than its predecessor and the third generation Brembo 398 mm × 36 mm front and 360 mm × 32 mm CCM rear Carbon Ceramic Matrix (CCM) brake discs with six-piston front and four-piston rear brake callipers (from the One-77). The Vanquish Volante is 13% torsionally stiffer than the outgoing DBS Volante. The carbon fibre-skin of the Vanquish Volante was created by the engineering team at Aston Martin. The vehicle was unveiled at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Deliveries to Europe began in late 2013. On 16 November 2016, Aston Martin announced the new Vanquish S model. The Vanquish S features the same AM29 V12 engine, with power now increased to 595 bhp, and a new aerodynamic package. The Vanquish S can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.5 seconds, and the top speed remains unchanged at 201 mph (324 km/h). The starting price at launch was £199,950 and deliveries started in December 2016. Aston Martin also unveiled a convertible version of the Vanquish S called the Vanquish S Volante in 2017.
In 2017, Aston Martin announced a limited series production of the Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato; the latest creation from its long-standing partnership with the prestigious Italian design-house Zagato. The Vanquish Zagato Concept was unveiled to great acclaim at the prestigious Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este at Lake Como, Italy in May 2016. The Vanquish Zagato is available in 4 variants – coupe, convertible, speedster, and shooting brake body styles. The Vanquish Zagato features the same AM29 V12 from the Vanquish S, which produces 595 bhp and 630 N⋅m (465 lb⋅ft) of torque, allowing the Vanquish Zagato to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.5 seconds before reaching a top speed of 201 mph (324 km/h). This was a rare chance to see one.
One of the rarest cars of the day, as you just never see these on the road, was this One-77, a two-door, two-seater flagship sports car, which was first shown at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, although it remained mostly covered by a “Saville Row tailored skirt” throughout the show. It was revealed in full at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, and deliveries from the beginning of 2011. Prior to the One-77’s Paris Motor Show debut, various details about the car were revealed, but official specifications were not fully revealed until the 2009 Geneva Motor Show. The One-77 features a full carbon fibre monocoque chassis, a handcrafted aluminium body, and a 7,312 cc DOHC 4 valves per cylinder with Variable Valve Timing V12 engine developing 750 hp at 7,500 rpm and 553 lb/ft of torque at 5,000 rpm. Aston Martin claimed the engine to be the most powerful production naturally aspirated engine in the world when the first car was delivered. The car utilises a strengthened version of the DB9’s 6-speed automated manual transmission and height-adjustable pushrod suspension coupled with dynamic stability control. The car features Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres (255/35 ZR20 front, 335/30 ZR20 rear) and Carbon Ceramic Matrix brakes. The top speed was estimated to be 220 mph (350 km/h) and actual tests in December 2009 showed a figure of 220.007 mph (354.067 km/h), with a 0–60 mph acceleration time of approximately 3.5 seconds. The engineering and manufacturing of the carbon fibre chassis and suspension system was contracted to Multimatic of Canada. The projected weight was 1,500 kg (3,307 lb), but the production model weighs 1,630 kg (3,594 lb). The CO2 emissions of the One-77 are rated at 572 g/km. The production of the One-77 was limited to 77 cars, forming part of the name One-77, and sold for 1,15m. In May 2012, one of the 77 was involved in a crash in Hong Kong and was written-off, reducing the number of total cars in existence to 76.
There were a number of examples of Audi’s supercar, the R8. The second generation model has been available for a few years now, but somehow it does not seem to have quit captured the same level of interest as the first generation model did. That said, most of the examples that I saw here were indeed second generation cars, though there was one of the earlier ones here, too.
A dealer display included three of the models in Bentley’s current range. The imposing Mulsanne saloon was joined by the commercially very significant Bentayga, that we are all getting used to as it becomes a more common sight on our streets, and with them was the latest addition to the range the brand-new Continental GT.
There were a couple of further examples of the new Continental GT in the supercar displays, as well as several examples of the outgoing model.
BMW’s current supercar is the futuristic i8, and there were examples of both this and the recently added Roadster version here. The Roadster was launched at the 2017 Los Angeles Show in December, and it is only now that the first right hand drive cars are reaching the UK, three years after the first of the closed coupe models went on sale. For the Roadster, the basic parameters are the same as the Coupe: plug-in hybrid powertrain, housed an aluminium chassis with a carbon-fibre monotub. But the battery boasts a higher capacity, and the hybrid powertrain more muscle to take the i8 even further (and faster). The 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine now produces 231 bhp (up from 228), and the electric motor 143 hp (up from 131 hp) for a combined output of 374 hp to rocket the i8 coupe from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, and the roadster in 4.4 as they rocket towards their electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. With a battery pack upgraded from 20 Ah to 34 Ah and from 7.1 kWh to 11.6, it’ll also travel on electric power alone at speeds of up to 65 mph (instead of just 43 mph) – or 75 mph in eDrive mode. All-electric range is up to 34 miles (for the coupe, 33 for the convertible) on the ambitious New European Driving Cycle. The key new thing in the Roadster is the folding soft-top. Aside from the slight performance penalty, it does mean sacrificing the rear seats, but with the inherent rigidity of the carbon cell, chopping the roof off nets only a 132-pound weight penalty for a curb weight quoted at 3,516 lbs. That roof, incidentally, can raise and lower in just 15 seconds at speeds of up to 31 mph, folding into a compact Z-shaped vertical stack. The suspension’s been retuned for the roadster too, and new wheels for both versions reduce unsprung weight. These changes have been applied to the Coupe as well.
I also found this example of the current M3 in the owner’s parking area.
Something rather special that I found in among the other hypercars was this Brabham BT62 Officially launched in May this year, the BT62 is created by a new company led by former Formula 1 racer and Le Mans winner David Brabham, the son of three-time world champion Sir Jack. The BT62 name resumes a discontinued lineage of racing cars produced by the original Brabham brand. Brabham has been synonymous with motor racing since its founder, Sir Jack Brabham, first took to the F1 grid in 1955. This is a track-only car, which Brabham describes as a “low-slung, race-inspired car”. It will cost £1 million and be powered by a 5.4-litre V8 engine, with a power-to-weight ratio of 720bhp per tonne. Brabham says the BT62, a track-focused hypercar, has a dry weight of 972kg and be able to produce more than 1200kg of downforce. For comparison, the McLaren Senna GTR produces around 1000kg of downforce. Owners will be given membership of a track-focused driver development programme. It is expected that the first deliveries will be later this year.
This is a Blenheim Series 3. The model can trace its roots back to the 603, launched in 1976, to replace the 411, and along with the Zagato-built 412, the first all new Bristol design since the introduction of the 406 in the late 1950s. The original 603 was offered in two versions, largely owing to the energy crisis which increased fuel prices so that affordability of fuel was no longer a certainty for those who could afford such expensive cars. The 603E had a 5,211 cc V8 petrol engine, whereas the 603S had a larger 5.9-litre unit, from Chrysler. Both retained the same transmission and suspension as the 411, but the cabin had become more luxurious with the provision of electrically adjustable seats and air conditioning. With the 603S2, as the energy crisis eased, all Bristols had a standard 5.9-litre Chrysler unit that was to be used for all subsequent editions of the car. The headlamp clusters were also set in a new grille. The third series of 603, introduced in 1982 and continuing until 1994, saw Bristol adopt for the first time the names of the famous Bristol Aeroplane Company models for its cars. With this series of 603, there was a smaller radiator grille and more modern rear vision mirrors. The tail-lights were also mounted directly vertically, whereas on previous versions of the 603 the reversing lights were separate from the rear turn indicators and brake lights. The Bristol Britannia was the standard version, whilst the Bristol Brigand had a Rotomeister turbocharger added to the Chrysler V8 engine and a torque converter originally used on the 440 V8 to cope with the extra performance, which saw the Brigand capable of 150 mph. The Brigand could be distinguished from the Britannia by the bulge in the bonnet needed to accommodate the turbocharger, and also had alloy wheels as standard equipment. There were a number of minor changes to the appearance of both models during their 12-year production run, especially at the front. With the Blenheim, Bristol further refined the 603, in particular modernising the mechanicals of the car through the introduction of multi-port fuel injection, which improved both performance and fuel consumption. Turbocharging was no longer available, but the Blenheim Series 1 still had the same level of performance as the Brigand. There was a significant change in frontal and rear-end styling with the introduction of the Blenheim. The headlights were paired and mounted considerably inboard from the extreme front of the car. The bonnet was also modified with the fitting of gas struts to hold it up when open for the first time, and featured a fully rectangular hinge for the first time in Bristol’s history. Since that time the Blenheim has gone through two additional series, the Bristol Blenheim Series 2, made from 1998 to the end of 1999, featured for the first time a 4 speed overdrive automatic transmission, which significantly improved fuel consumption, whilst the Blenheim 3 which went on sale in 2000 saw the abandonment of the vertically mounted tail-lights and a much revised interior layout with completely new gear selector and improved instrumentation.
Needing little in the way of an introduction is the Veyron, still a magical hypercar to almost every single enthusiast of any age. There were two of them at the event. One – a “standard” car, and from relatively early in the production run, was offered for sale on the DK Engineering stand, and the other one was part of the display of hypercars and other specially selected display machines in the Great Court.
Also here was a Chiron. Taking its name from the 1920s and 1930s Grand Prix racer Louis Chiron, whose notable results included victory in the 1931 French Grand Prix at the wheel of a Bugatti Type 51, this amazing machine, first seen in production guise at the Geneva Show in 2016 had been previewed by the Vision Gran Turismo concept car at the 2015 Frankfurt Show, and a few times after that, such as at the 2016 Retromobile. The immensely powerful Chiron was conceived to occupy the position its highly celebrated predecessor held at the very top of the supercar ladder, one rung above the McLaren P1, Ferrari LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder – all of which had ceased production by the time of the Chrion’s launch. Bugatti describes the second of its modern day models as the most powerful road car to ever reach series production, and it does indeed produce a colossal 1479bhp which means it can reach 62mph in less than 2.5sec – despite weighing 1995kg – and has a maximum top speed of 261mph.. The phrase “series production” is all relative, though, with volumes set to be limited to 500 and a price to match its extreme performance at an eye watering €2.4 million (about £1.9 million) it will remain out of reach for all but the seriously rich. Bugatti boss Wolfgang Dürheimer portrays the quad-turbocharged 8.0-litre W16 powered Chiron as an all-new car that uses little from the Veyron. But while the new Bugatti has been comprehensively re-engineered and now features a full carbonfibre construction, it adopts a similar mechanical package to its record-breaking predecessor. At its heart is a heavily revised version of the quad-turbocharged 8.0-litre W16 configured petrol engine used by the Veyron. With a faintly absurd 1479bhp developed at 6750rpm, the mid-mounted unit delivers 492bhp more than the engine used by the Veyron – in the process providing the Chiron with a power-to-weight ratio of 741bhp per tonne. Torque has also risen by a substantial 257lb ft, peaking at 1179lb ft on a band of revs between 2000 and 6000rpm. Among the more significant developments brought to the Bugatti powerplant is a redesigned carbonfibre inlet manifold, heavily reworked injection system featuring 32 individua l injectors, larger and more powerful turbochargers, a revised intercooler system and new titanium exhaust system with a total of six catalysers that is claimed to provide a substantial reduction in back pressure over the old system. In a bid to provide the new Chiron with what Bugatti describes as a more linear delivery of power than the Veyron, the new turbochargers are operated in a two-stage process; during step off just two turbochargers function initially, with the remaining two joining in to boost performance when the engine speed rises above 3800rpm. The colossal reserves are channelled through a reworked version of the Veyron’s seven-speed dual clutch gearbox and multi-plate clutch four-wheel-drive system; the latter has an electronically controlled differential that provides a torque-vectoring function to vary the amount of drive apportioned to each of the rear wheels and the basis for what Bugatti dubs an “easy to drift” function. While it is yet to undergo final certification testing, Bugatti has released preliminary performance figures suggesting it has achieved its stated aim of making the Chiron faster than the Veyron with claims of 0-to-62mph in under 2.5sec, 0 to 124mph in less than 6.5sec and 0 to 186mph below 13.6sec. By comparison, the Veyron posted official times of 2.5sec, 7.3sec and 16.7sec respectively. As before, top speed is limited in two stages; the so-called handling mode allows 236mph before the electrics step in, and the top-speed mode provides a maximum of 261mph, eclipsing the Veyron by 7mph. The chassis of the Chiron is a clear development of the Veyron’s. In a bid to improve ride quality without compromising body control, it adopts an adaptive suspension system, providing variable ride height and damping control. In combination with variable characteristics for a new electro-mechanical steering system and the four-wheel-drive system, the driver can choose between five driving modes: Lift, Auto, Autobahn, Handling and Top Speed. The Lift mode increases the ride height for speed bumps, while in Auto, Autobahn and Handling modes the top speed is limited to 236mph. To engage Top Speed mode, the Chiron requires a ‘Speed Key’, which alters the engine management system to provide the claimed 261mph maximum. Reining in the vast performance are 420mm front and 400mm rear carbon-ceramic discs grabbed by eight-pot and six-pot calipers respectively. They provide the Chiron with a claimed 62 to 0 mph in 31.3m, 124 to 0 mph in 125m and 186 to 0 mph in 275m – in each case eclipsing the various claimed braking distances of its predecessor. Borrowing strong visual cues from the earlier Veyron, the new Chiron features an even more dramatic design with tauter surfacing, bolder details and added aerodynamic efficiency than that of the car it replaces. The man credited with the new appearance, Bugatti design boss Achim Anscheidt, says it was developed in close collaboration with Bugatti’s engineering team to ensure greater functionality without any loss in overall impact. Key design elements include a race-grade front splitter, large horizontal air ducts, a traditional horseshoe-shaped grille sporting a Bugatti badge fashioned from silver and enamel, distinctive LED headlamps – each with four individual lenses and integrated air ducts that feed cooling air to the front brakes, shapely front wings and a flamboyant semicircular sweep of bodywork extending from the trailing edge of its front wheelarches back towards the rear and into the A-pillars – the latter flourish clearly inspired by the look originally established by Jean Bugatti on the iconic Type 57. As on the Type 57, there is also a prominent centre fin running from the top of the grille across the bonnet and into the heavily rounded roof, providing an important contribution to the Chiron’s longitudinal stability, according to Bugatti. A NACA duct formed by shapely rear pillars replaces the individual air scoops used by the Veyron, channelling air into the engine bay more efficiently and with less turbulence than on its predecessor. It is at the rear where the more significant differences in appearance between the Veyron and Chiron are apparent, with a strong trailing edge, fully integrated rear spoiler, full width LED light band housing the tail lamps, indicators and reserving lamp, sizeable air ducts, large central mounted exhaust and race grade diffuser providing the new Bugatti with a particularly purposeful appearance from behind. Dimensionally, the Chiron remains close to its predecessor. At 4544mm long, 2038mm wide and 1212mm tall, it is 82mm longer, 40mm wider and 53mm higher than the Veyron. The similarities also extend to the wheelbase, which is just 1mm longer, at 2711mm. The Chiron sits on 285/30 R20 ZR tyres at the front, with 355/25 R21 ZR rubber at the rear. The basis for the new Bugatti is provided by a newly developed carbonfibre monocoque structure of the same standard as that used in Audi and Porsche’s LMP1 cars. In a departure from that used by the Veyron, it adopts a sandwich construction for the floor and a carbonfibre-reinforced plastic engine cradle at the rear for added stiffness and lower structure weight. Yet achieving the sort of stiffness achieved by the latest LMP1 race cars, the Chiron is155kg heavier than its predecessor at 1995kg. The increase in width has brought greater space to the two-seat interior and in particular the front wheel wells of the Chiron, according to Bugatti. Greater height has also liberated 12mm extra headroom compared with the Veyron. The cabin is trimmed in a combination of leather, carbonfibre and brushed aluminium. Among the new developments is a passenger airbag that deploys through carbonfibre – a first for a production vehicle. The Chiron is assembled at Bugatti’s headquarters in Mosheim, France. So far, Bugatti has received more than 150 orders for the new car, and deliveries will begin in October, with existing Veyron owners being given priority in the queue. Further variants of the Chiron are planned to be launched, including successor models to the Veyron Grand Sport, Veyron SuperSport and Veyron Grand Vitesse. It is likely that the car will be in “production” until about 2024.
This was definitely the car that was causing more head-scratching than any other. No-one seemed to be sure as to what it was, and with no badges on it, there were no clues to help out. It is the he Vanda Dendrobium, the first in an upcoming range of electric road cars from Singapore-based Vanda Electronics, which made its world debut at the 2017 Geneva Show, and about which next to nothing has been heard since. If it goes on sale, the 200mph British-built electric supercar concept will command a seven-figure price tag. The two-seat ‘petal-roofed’ Dendrobium is the product of Grove-based Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE), whose engineers spent 2016 turning design sketches into the neatly finished concept. According to Larissa Tan, the boss of Vanda Electrics, the next step is to engineer the Dendrobium for limited production “in the tens, rather than the hundreds”. But before ploughing in investment, Vanda will gauge reaction to the car at Geneva. If it goes into production, it will be[in about two years. The car has built the show car to running standard. Full details of the electric powertrain have not been revealed, but to hit 200mph, the Dendrobium will need more than 700bhp, four-wheel drive, a two-speed gearbox and most likely three electric motors — one at the front and two at the rear. However, to turn the concept car into a ‘dynamic demonstrator’, it features a single motor and a lithium ion battery pack derived from the Formula E set-up that WAE designed for the race series. WAE has been set a number of tough challenges by the Dendrobium’s design which features a teardrop-shaped centre section, exposed rear suspension components and unique roof/door opening. The rear-hinging doors and roof lend the supercar its name, their ‘petal-like’ shape mimicking the Vanda orchid, Singapore’s national flower. Dendrobium is an orchid genus. Locking the doors and lightweight roof shut at 200mph will be a considerable engineering challenge for WAE. The Dendrobium hasn’t been in the wind tunnel yet, but Cluett said its behaviour has been computer modelled. The tapering rear bodywork also leaves little volume for a battery pack. WAE can’t package the battery between the wheels, Tesla-style, because that would push the centre of gravity too high. As a result, it is likely to feature a relatively small battery pack of 30- 50kWh, rather than the 80- 100kWh of the Tesla Model S. The powertrain will be tuned to deliver the project’s two main targets: 200mph and 0-60mph in 2.7sec. There is also work to be done on the interior packaging which places the occupants too far outboard and pinned against an intrusive door trim. Remarkably, the Dendrobium’s design dates to 1996 and was created by an unnamed designer. According to Tan, it was revised “in the mid-2000s”, but the designer wishes to remain anonymous. Vanda Electrics is a privately funded engineering company with investors in the United States and China.
Oldest Ferrari at the event was this 1951 212 Export Barchetta which was one of a number of gorgeous Ferrari models on the DK Engineering stand. The 212 picked up where the 166 left off when it was launched in 1951. Two options formed the basis of all of the multi-bodied 212s, the Inter – intended as more of a GT, and the Export, with a shorter chassis making for the more sporting of the two. Retaining the infamous Colombo V12 from the 166, the 212 offered fantastic torque and performance from its now 2.5litre V12 engine. One of just 27 Export models, 0098E was fortunate to have the attractive Vignale Spider body work it retains today fitted in period. Delivered new to Pietro d’Acquarone, this car was raced extensively from new by his son Cesare. After his unfortunate passing in 1960, the car moved on to the Dubbini family where it would remain for more than 40 years. Each member of the family, just as keen as those before, to drive the car- especially at events and whilst the car was passed down to the next generation, it still saw regular activity including the Mille Miglia; a specific event it has completed several times, most recently in 2013. In 2013 it also changed owner, returning to the factory for a complete sympathetic restoration. 0098E retains its original engine, gearbox, brakes, suspension, steering and its original trim in Similpelle Beige. The factory confirmed the chassis is original and unmodified from its production form. The drum brakes are as they were when it left the factory doors in 1951, even the original tools remain with this example – as noted by the factory as an exceptional highlight and equally testament to its originality. Since its restoration it has seen both competition at the Monaco historic, and the red carpet at the Holyrood Concours of Elegance in 2015.
If that was the 1950s, then this is Ferrari in the 1960s. The 330 GTC and GTS were replaced in 1968 by the 365 GTC and GTS. This was essentially a re-engine of the 330 GTC/GTS, with the engine increasing from 4.0 litres and 300 bhp to 4.4 litres and 320 bhp. The styling remained almost unchanged: on both body styles differences were limited to vents moved from behind the front wheels to the bonnet. Like all 365s, the GTC and GTS were powered by a 4,390 cc Colombo V12 engine, specifically its Tipo 245/C variant. Fed by three twin-choke Weber 40 DFI carburettors, it produced 320 PS at 6,600 rpm. Integrating the gearbox with the final drive gave these cars a balanced 50:50 weight distribution. The 365 GTC and GTS retained the independent rear suspension, employing coil springs and wishbones, of its immediate predecessor. Brakes were servo-assisted discs all-round with a split circuit system. 168 examples of the coupé were built (including 22 in right hand drive) between the 1968 and 1970. It was replaced by the Ferrari 365 GTC/4. Just 20 spiders were built before its place was assumed by the 365 GTB/4-based Daytona Spider.
Launched at the Paris Motor Show in 1975 as a direct replacement for the Dino 246, and designed by Pininfarina with sweeping curves and aggressive lines, the 308 GTB and later targa-topped 308 GTS have gone on to become one of the most recognised Ferraris of all time. Fitted with a 2.9 litre DOHC V8 engine fed by four Webber 40DCNF Carburettors, the power output of 255bhp was sufficient to propel the 308 from 0 to 60mph in 6.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 159 mph. Tougher emissions standards in the 1980s challenged Ferrari more than many other marques. In 1980, fuel injection was adopted for the first time on the 308 GTB and GTS models, and power dropped quite noticeably fro 240 bhp to 214bhp. Two years later, at the 1982 Paris Motor Show, Ferrari launched the 308 quattrovalvole, in GTB and GTS form. The main change from the 308 GTBi/GTSi it succeeded were the 4-valves per cylinder—hence its name, which pushed output back up to 240 hp restoring some of the performance lost to the emission control equipment. The new model could be recognised by the addition of a slim louvred panel in the front lid to aid radiator exhaust air exit, power operated mirrors carrying a small enamel Ferrari badge, a redesigned radiator grille with rectangular driving lights on each side, and rectangular (in place of round) side repeaters. The interior also received some minor updates, such as a satin black three spoke steering wheel with triangular centre; cloth seat centres became available as an option to the standard full leather. Available included metallic paint, a deep front spoiler, air conditioning, wider wheels, 16-inch Speedline wheels with Pirelli P7 tyres, and a satin black roof aerofoil (standard on Japanese market models). Apart from the 32-valve cylinder heads, the V8 engine was essentially of the same design as that used in the 308 GTSi model. The gear and final drive ratios were altered to suit the revised characteristics of the four valves per cylinder engine. One other significant benefit of the QV four valve heads was the replacement of the non-QV models sodium valves which have been known to fail at the joint between the head and the stem. Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection and Marelli Digiplex electronic ignition were carried over from the GTBi/GTSi. The car was produced in this form until the launch of the 328 models in the autumn of 1985 which had larger 3.2 litre engines and a number of styling changes. 308 GTB models are becoming increasingly sought after, with prices rising steadily and quite steeply.
The 328 GTB was also here. Introduced at the 1985 Frankfurt Show alongside the Mondial 3.2 series, the Ferrari 328 GTB and GTS (Type F106) were the successors to the Ferrari 308 GTB and GTS which had first been seen in October 1975. While mechanically still based on the 308 GTB and GTS respectively, small modifications were made to the body style and engine, most notably an increase in engine displacement to 3185 cc for increased power and torque output. As had been the case for a generation of the smaller Ferraris, the model name referred to the total cubic capacity of the engine, 3.2 litres, and 8 for the number of cylinders. Essentially the new model was a revised and updated version of the 308 GTS, which had survived for eight years without any radical change to the overall shape, albeit with various changes to the 3-litre engine. The 328 model presented a softening of the wedge profile of its predecessor, with a redesigned nose that had a more rounded shape, which was complemented by similar treatment to the tail valance panel. The revised nose and tail sections featured body colour bumpers integral with the valance panels, which reflected the work done concurrently to present the Mondial 3.2 models, with which they also shared a similar radiator grille and front light assembly layout. Thus all the eight-cylinder cars in the range shared fairly unified front and rear aspects, providing a homogeneous family image. The exhaust air louvres behind the retractable headlight pods on the 308 series disappeared, coupled with an increase in the size of the front lid radiator exhaust air louvre, which had been introduced on the 308 Quattrovalvole models, whilst a new style and position of exterior door catch was also provided. The interior trim also had a thorough overhaul, with new designs for the seat panel upholstery and stitching, revised door panels and pulls, together with more modern switchgear, which complemented the external updating details. Optional equipment available was air conditioning, metallic paint, Pirelli P7 tyres, a leather dashboard, leather headlining to the removable roof panel plus rear window surround, and a rear aerofoil (standard on Japanese market models). In the middle of 1988 ABS brakes were made available as an option, which necessitated a redesign of the suspension geometry to provide negative offset. This in turn meant that the road wheel design was changed to accommodate this feature. The original flat spoke “star” wheels became a convex design, in the style as fitted to the 3.2 Mondial models, whether ABS was fitted or not. The main European market 328 GTS models had a tubular chassis with a factory type reference F 106 MS 100. Disc brakes, with independent suspension via wishbones, coil springs, and hydraulic shock absorbers, were provided all round, with front and rear anti roll bars. There were various world market models, each having slight differences, with right and left hand drive available. The V8 engine was essentially of the same design as that used in the 308 Quattrovalvole model, with an increase in capacity to 3185 cc. The engine retained the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system of its predecessor, but was fitted with a Marelli MED 806 A electronic ignition system, to produce a claimed power output of 270 bhp at 7000 rpm. As with the preceding 308 models the engine was mounted in unit with the all synchromesh five-speed manual transmission assembly, which was below, and to the rear of the engine’s sump. The 328 GTS continued in production for four years, until replaced by the 348 ts model in the autumn of 1989, during which time 6068 examples were produced, GTS production outnumbering the GTB (1344 produced) version almost five to one.
Object of many a poster on a young enthusiast’s bedroom wall when the car was new was the Testarossa and there was a nice example of the last of the line 512M here. A replacement for the BB512i, the final iteration of Ferrari’s first ever mid-engined road car, the Testarossa was launched at the Paris Show in October 1984. The Pininfarina-designed car was produced until 1991, with the same basic design then going through two model revisions, with the 512 TR and later F512 M which were produced from 1992 to 1996 before the model was replaced by the front-engined 550 Maranello. Almost 10,000 Testarossas, 512 TRs, and F512 Ms were produced, making it one of the most-produced Ferrari models, despite its high price and exotic design. The Testarossa followed the same concept as the BB512, but was intended to fix some of the criticisms of the earlier car, such as a cabin that got increasingly hot from the indoor plumbing that ran between the front-mounted radiator and the midships-mounted engine and a lack of luggage space. This resulted in a car that was larger, and at 1,976 millimetres (78 in) wide the Testarossa was half a foot wider than the Boxer and immediately condemned for being too wide, though these days it does not appear anything like as wide as it did when new. This resulted in an increased wheelbase that stretched about 2.5 in to 100 in which was used to accommodate luggage in a carpeted storage space under the front forward-opening lid. The increase in length created extra storage space behind the seats in the cabin. Headroom was also increased with a roofline half an inch taller than the Boxer. The design came from Pininfarina with a team of designers led by design chief Leonardo Fioravanti, the designer of many contemporary Ferraris. The design was originated by Nicosia, but the guidance of Fioravanti was equally important. Being a trained aerodynamicist, Fioravanti applied his know-how to set the aerodynamics layout of the car. This meant the large side intakes were not only a statement of style but actually functional – they drew clean air to cool the side radiators and then went upward and left the car through the ventilation holes located at the engine lid and the tail. As a result, the Testarossa did not need a rear spoiler like Lamborghini’s Countach yet produced zero lift at its rear axle. The aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.36 was also significantly better than the Lamborghini’s 0.42. Pininfarina’s body was a departure from the curvaceous boxer—one which caused some controversy. The side strakes sometimes referred to as “cheese graters” or “egg slicers,” that spanned from the doors to the rear wings were needed for rules in several countries outlawing large openings on cars. The Testarossa had twin radiators in the back with the engine instead of a single radiator up-front. In conjunction the strakes provided cool air to the rear-mounted side radiators, thus keeping the engine from overheating. The strakes also made the Testarossa wider at the rear than in the front, thus increasing stability and handling. One last unique addition to the new design was a single high mounted rear view mirror on the driver’s side. On US based cars, the mirror was lowered to a more normal placement in 1987 and quickly joined by a passenger side rear view mirror for the driver to be able to make safe easy lane changes. Like its predecessor, the Testarossa used double wishbone front and rear suspension systems. Ferrari improved traction by adding 10-inch-wide alloy rear wheels. The Testarossa drivetrain was also an evolution of the BB 512i. Its engine used near identical displacement and compression ratio, but unlike the BB 512i had four-valve cylinder heads that were finished in red. The capacity was 4,943 cc, in a flat-12 engine mid mounted. Each cylinder had four valves, lubricated via a dry sump system, and a compression ratio of 9.20:1. These combined to provide a maximum torque of 361 lb/ft at 4500 rpm and a maximum power of 390 hp at 6300 rpm. That was enough to allow the Testarossa to accelerate from 0–60 mph in 5.2 seconds and on to 100 mph. The original Testarossa was re-engineered for 1992 and released as the 512 TR, at the Los Angeles Auto Show, effectively as a completely new car, with an improved weight distribution of 41% front: 59% rear. The final evolution of the model was to the 512M, identified by its headlights, which were no longer of the pop-up variety. These are by the rarest, with just 500 produced over a two year period.
Launched in May 1994 as an evolution of the Ferrari 348, just about everything was changed, and improved for the F355, seen here in Berlinetta formats. Design emphasis for the F355 was placed on significantly improved performance, but driveability across a wider range of speeds and in different environments such as low-speed city traffic was also addressed, as the Honda NS-X had proved that you could make a supercar that could be lived with every day. Apart from the displacement increase from 3.4 to 3.5 litres, the major difference between the V8 engine in the 348 and F355 was the introduction of a 5-valve cylinder head. This new head design allowed for better intake permeability and resulted in an engine that was considerably more powerful, producing 375 hp. The longitudinal 90° V8 engine was bored 2mm over the 348’s engine, resulting in the small increase in displacement. The F355 had a Motronic system controlling the electronic fuel injection and ignition systems, with a single spark plug per cylinder, resulting in an unusual 5 valves per cylinder configuration. This was reflected in the name, which did not follow the formula from the previous decades of engine capacity in litres followed by number of cylinders such as the 246 = 2.4 litres and 6 cylinders and the 308 of 3.0 litres and 8 cylinders. For the F355, Ferrari used engine capacity followed by the number of valves per cylinder (355 = 3.5 litres engine capacity and 5 valves per cylinder) to bring the performance advances introduced by a 5 valve per cylinder configuration into the forefront. 5. The frame was a steel monocoque with tubular steel rear sub-frame with front and rear suspensions using independent, unequal-length wishbones, coil springs over gas-filled telescopic shock absorbers with electronic control servos and anti-roll bars. The car allows selection between two damper settings, “Comfort” and “Sport”. Ferrari fitted all road-going F355 models with Pirelli tyres, 225/40ZR 18 in front and 265/40 ZR 18 in the rear. Although the F355 was equipped with power-assisted steering (intended to improve low-speed driveability relative to the outgoing 348), this could optionally be replaced with a manual steering rack setup by special order. Aerodynamic designs for the car included over 1,300 hours of wind tunnel analysis. The car incorporates a Nolder profile on the upper portion of the tail, and a fairing on the underbody that generates downforce when the car is at speed. These changes not only made the car faster but also much better to drive, restoring Ferrari to the top of the tree among its rivals. At launch, two models were available: the coupe Berlinetta and the targa topped GTS, which was identical to the Berlinetta apart from the fact that the removable “targa-style” hard top roof could be stored behind the seats. The F355 would prove to be last in the series of mid-engined Ferraris with the Flying Buttress rear window, a lineage going back to the 1965 Dino 206 GT, unveiled at the Paris Auto Show. The Spider (convertible) version came later in the year. In 1997 the Formula One style paddle gear shift electrohydraulic manual transmission was introduced with the Ferrari 355 F1 adding £6,000 to the dealer asking price. This system promised faster gearchanges and allowed the driver to keep both hands on the steering wheel, It proved to be very popular and was the beginning of the end for the manual-transmission Ferrari. Ferrari produced 4,871 road-going Berlinetta models, of which 3,829 were 6-speed and 1,042 were F1 transmissions. The Spider proved to be the second-most popular F355 model, with a total production of 3,717 units, of which 2,664 were produced with the 6-speed transmission and another 1,053 produced with the F1 transmission. A total of 2,577 GTS models were produced, with 2,048 delivered with the 6-speed transmission and another 529 with the F1 transmission. This was the last GTS targa style model produced by Ferrari. This made a total production run of 11,273 units making the F355 the most-produced Ferrari at the time, though this sales record would be surpassed by the next generation 360 and later, the F430.
It was with the 360 Modena that sales of Ferrari models really took off, with unprecedented volumes of the car being sold. The 360 Modena was launched in 1999, named after the town of Modena, the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari. A major innovation in this all new model came from Ferrari’s partnership with Alcoa which resulted in an entirely new all-aluminium space-frame chassis that was 40% stiffer than the F355 which had utilised steel. The design was 28% lighter despite a 10% increase in overall dimensions. Along with a lightweight frame the new Pininfarina body styling deviated from traditions of the previous decade’s sharp angles and flip-up headlights. The new V8 engine, common to all versions, was of 3.6 litre capacity with a flat plane crankshaft, titanium connecting rods and generates 400 bhp Despite what looks like on paper modest gains in reality the power to weight ratio was significantly improved on over the F355, this was due to the combination of both a lighter car and more power. The 0 to 100 km/h acceleration performance improved from 4.6 to 4.3 seconds. The first model to be rolled out was the 360 Modena, available as a manual, or an F1 electrohydraulic manual. Next up was an open car. The 360 was designed with a Spider variant in mind; since removing the roof of a coupe reduces the torsional rigidity, the 360 was built for strength in other areas. Ferrari designers strengthened the sills, stiffened the front of the floorpan and redesigned the windscreen frame. The rear bulkhead had to be stiffened to cut out engine noise from the cabin. The convertible’s necessary dynamic rigidity is provided by additional side reinforcements and a cross brace in front of the engine. Passenger safety is ensured by a strengthened windscreen frame and roll bars. The 360 Spider displays a curvilinear waistline. The fairings imply the start of a roof, and stable roll bars are embedded in these elevations. Due to use of light aluminium construction throughout, the Spider weighs in only 60 kg heavier than the coupé. As with the Modena version, its 3.6 litre V8 with 400 bhp is on display under a glass cover. The engine — confined in space by the convertible’s top’s storage area — acquires additional air supply through especially large side grills. The intake manifolds were moved toward the centre of the engine between the air supply conduits in the Spider engine compartment, as opposed to lying apart as with the Modena. In terms of performance, the 0-60 mph time was slightly slower at 4.4 seconds due to the slight weight increase, and the top speed was reduced from 189 to 180 mph. Despite the car’s mid-mounted V8 engine, the electrically operated top is able to stow into the compartment when not in use. The convertible top was available in black, blue, grey and beige. The transformation from a closed top to an open-air convertible is a two-stage folding-action that has been dubbed “a stunning 20 second mechanical symphony”.The interior of the Spider is identical to that of the coupé. Sales of the Spider initially overtook those of the Coupe, but parity was restored when the third variant was launched, the Challenge Stradale, the finale model before replacement. It was essentially a lightened, factory tuned version of the Modena with many of the Modena’s optional extras becoming standard. Carbon seats, racing exhaust, carbon engine bay, and so on. Famously at the time Ferrari claimed it dropped up to 110 kg over the stock Modena helping to improve its handling. Many other chassis optimisations were carried out too such as stiffer titanium springs (lowering unsprung weight), stiffer bushings and an updated rear anti roll bar (the same anti-roll bar as used on the 430 Scuderia) along with a remapped active suspension computer. Changes also included larger 19″ BBS wheels, the use of carbon fibre for the frames of the seats and mirrors, titanium springs which were also 20% stiffer, and Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite disc brakes. A variety of options allowed for further weight reductions, including replacing the leather interior with fabric, removal of the power windows and mirrors, and deletion of the stereo. Lexan side windows were available in Europe only but everywhere else got the Lexan rear cover. It was officially introduced in March 2003 at the Geneva International Motor Show and went into production shortly thereafter. The CS can be compared to Porsche’s GT3 RS model in design approach and many magazines have placed them head-to-head in road tests. A single 360 Barchetta was produced as a special wedding present from Ferrari to former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo. In total, there were 8,800 Modenas and 7,565 Spiders produced. Seen here were both the regular 360 Modena models and the open-topped Spider cars.
There were also plenty of examples of the Ferrari F430 here, the successor to the Ferrari 360. This car debuted at the 2004 Paris Motor Show. Designed by Pininfarina, under the guidance of Frank Stephenson, the body styling of the F430 was revised from its predecessor, the Ferrari 360, to improve its aerodynamic efficiency. Although the drag coefficient remained the same, downforce was greatly enhanced. Despite sharing the same basic Alcoa Aluminium chassis, roof line, doors and glass, the car looked significantly different from the 360. A great deal of Ferrari heritage was included in the exterior design. At the rear, the Enzo’s tail lights and interior vents were added. The car’s name was etched into the Testarossa-styled driver’s side mirror. The large oval openings in the front bumper are reminiscent of Ferrari racing models from the 60s, specifically the 156 “sharknose” Formula One car and 250 TR61 Le Mans cars of Phil Hill. Designed with soft-top-convertible. The F430 featured a 4.3 litre V8 petrol engine of the “Ferrari-Maserati” F136 family. This new power plant was a significant departure for Ferrari, as all previous Ferrari V8’s were descendants of the Dino racing program of the 1950s. This fifty-year development cycle came to an end with the entirely new unit. The engine’s output was 490 hp at 8500 rpm and 465 N·m (343 lb/ft) of torque at 5250 rpm, 80% of which was available below 3500rpm. Despite a 20% increase in displacement, engine weight grew by only 4 kg and engine dimensions were decreased, for easier packaging. The connecting rods, pistons and crankshaft were all entirely new, while the four-valve cylinder head, valves and intake trumpets were copied directly from Formula 1 engines, for ideal volumetric efficiency. The F430 has a top speed in excess of 196 mph and could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds, 0.6 seconds quicker than the old model. The brakes on the F430 were designed in close cooperation with Brembo (who did the calipers and discs) and Bosch (who did the electronics package),resulting in a new cast-iron alloy for the discs. The new alloy includes molybdenum which has better heat dissipation performance. The F430 was also available with the optional Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite brake package. Ferrari claims the carbon ceramic brakes will not fade even after 300-360 laps at their test track. The F430 featured the E-Diff, a computer-controlled limited slip active differential which can vary the distribution of torque based on inputs such as steering angle and lateral acceleration. Other notable features include the first application of Ferrari’s manettino steering wheel-mounted control knob. Drivers can select from five different settings which modify the vehicle’s ESC system, “Skyhook” electronic suspension, transmission behaviour, throttle response, and E-Diff. The feature is similar to Land Rover’s “Terrain Response” system. The Ferrari F430 was also released with exclusive Goodyear Eagle F1 GSD3 EMT tyres, which have a V-shaped tread design, run-flat capability, and OneTRED technology. The F430 Spider, Ferrari’s 21st road going convertible, made its world premiere at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show. The car was designed by Pininfarina with aerodynamic simulation programs also used for Formula 1 cars. The roof panel automatically folds away inside a space above the engine bay. The conversion from a closed top to an open-air convertible is a two-stage folding-action. The interior of the Spider is identical to that of the coupé. Serving as the successor to the Challenge Stradale, the 430 Scuderia was unveiled by Michael Schumacher at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show. Aimed to compete with cars like the Porsche RS-models and the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera it was lighter by 100 kg/220 lb and more powerful (510 PS) than the standard F430. Increased power came from a revised intake, exhaust, and an ion-sensing knock-detection system that allows for a higher compression ratio. Thus the weight-to-power ratio was reduced from 2.96 kg/hp to 2.5 kg/hp. In addition to the weight saving measures, the Scuderia semi-automatic transmission gained improved “Superfast”, known as “Superfast2”, software for faster 60 millisecond shift-times. A new traction control system combined the F1-Trac traction and stability control with the E-Diff electronic differential. The Ferrari 430 Scuderia accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds, with a top speed of 202 miles per hour. Ferrari claimed that around their test track, Fiorano Circuit, it matched the Ferrari Enzo, and the Ferrari F430’s successor, the Ferrari 458. To commemorate Ferrari’s 16th victory in the Formula 1 Constructor’s World Championship in 2008, Ferrari unveiled the Scuderia Spider 16M at World Finals in Mugello. It is effectively a convertible version of the 430 Scuderia. The engine produces 510 PS at 8500 rpm. The car has a dry weight of 1,340 kg, making it 80 kg lighter than the F430 Spider, at a curb weight of 1,440 kg (3,175 lb). The chassis was stiffened to cope with the extra performance available and the car featured many carbon fibre parts as standard. Specially lightened front and rear bumpers (compared to the 430 Scuderia) were a further sign of the efforts Ferrari was putting into this convertible track car for the road. Unique 5-spoke forged wheels were produced for the 16M’s launch and helped to considerably reduce unsprung weight with larger front brakes and callipers added for extra stopping power (also featured on 430 Scuderia). It accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds, with a top speed of 315 km/h (196 mph). 499 vehicles were released beginning early 2009 and all were pre-sold to select clients. As well as a Scuderia, there were examples of the Coupe and the Spider 16M on show here.
Firmly placed in Ferrari’s history as one of their finest big GTs, the 550 Maranello’s combination of stylish Pininfarina lines and front mounted 12-cylinder engine meant this car had the potential to become an instant classic, following in the footsteps of its forebear, the 365 GTB/4 ‘Daytona’, and if you look at the way the prices are steading to go, it’s clear that the potential is being realised. Launched in 1996, and with modern styling cues, a 5.5 litre V12 engine producing around 485bhp and a reported top speed of 199mph, the 550 Maranello was a serious motor car. A less frenetic power delivery, the six speed manual box and excellent weight distribution were all factors in the 550 becoming the perfect European Grand Tourer. Ferrari updated the car to create the 575M. Examples of both 550 and 575 were here.
There was also a 550 Barchetta here. This roadster version of the 550 was launched at the Paris Motor Show in 2000 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Pininfarina. The 550 Barchetta Pininfarina was a true barchetta with no real convertible top provided, as you could see here, as the “roof” was in place during part of the day. The factory did provide a cloth soft top, but it was intended only for temporary use to protect the interior from rain as using the top above 70 mph was not deemed safe. Aesthetically, the barchetta featured a more deeply raked windshield than the coupé for improved aero dynamics, roll-over hoops behind the seats for the driver’s safety and a longer rear section than the coupé to complete the smooth overall design resulting in more cargo space than the coupé, even when it was less practical. Other changes included new 19-inch alloy wheels specially made for the barchetta. A total of 448 cars were produced, four more than initially planned 444 cars due to concerns of superstition in the Japanese market about the number 4. The 448 cars were preceded by 12 prototypes numbered P01–P12 on their interior plaques. To an observer the prototypes and production cars are indistinguishable. The mechanical underpinnings of the car remained the same as its coupé counterpart but the engine was given the F133C code mainly for differentiation. Performance figures differed significantly as compared to the 550 Maranello due to the loss of a roof, with 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) acceleration time increasing to 4.4 seconds and top speed reduced to 186 mph (300 km/h). All the 448 cars had a numbered plaque (i.e. x of 448) on the dashboard with Sergio Pininfarina’s signature.
The next V12 engined Ferrari was the 599 GTB (internal code F141) a new flagship, replacing the 575M Maranello. Styled by Pininfarina under the direction of Ferrari’s Frank Stephenson, the 599 GTB debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in February 2006. It is named for its total engine displacement (5999 cc), Gran Turismo Berlinetta nature, and the Fiorano Circuit test track used by Ferrari. The Tipo F140 C 5999 cc V12 engine produced a maximum 620 PS (612 hp), making it the most powerful series production Ferrari road car of the time. At the time of its introduction, this was one of the few engines whose output exceeded 100 hp per litre of displacement without any sort of forced-induction mechanism such as supercharging or turbocharging. Its 448 ft·lb of torque was also a record for Ferrari’s GT cars. Most of the modifications to the engine were done to allow it to fit in the Fiorano’s engine bay (the original Enzo version could be taller as it would not block forward vision due to its mid-mounted position). A traditional 6-speed manual transmission as well as Ferrari’s 6-speed called “F1 SuperFast” was offered. The Fiorano also saw the debut of Ferrari’s new traction control system, F1-Trac. The vast majority of the 599 GTB’s were equipped with the semi-automatic gearbox, with just 30 examples produced with a manual gearbox of which 20 were destined for the United States and 10 remained in Europe. The car changed little during its 6 year production, though the range did gain additional versions, with the HGTE model being the first, with a number of chassis and suspension changes aimed at making the car even sharper to drive, and then the more potent 599GTO came in 2010. With 670 bhp, this was the fastest road-going Ferrari ever made. Just 599 were made. The model was superceded by the F12 Berlinetta in 2012. It was the 599 GTO version that was on show here.
Continuing the V8 line is the 458 Italia, first officially unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. Once more, Ferrari advised that the model incorporated technologies developed from the company’s experience in Formula 1. The body computer system was developed by Magneti Marelli Automotive Lighting. The 458 came with a 4,499 cc V8 engine of the “Ferrari/Maserati” F136 engine family, producing 570 PS ( 562 hp) at 9,000 rpm and 540 N·m (398 lb/ft) at 6,000 rpm with 80% torque available at 3,250 rpm. The engine featured direct fuel injection, a first for Ferrari mid-engine setups in its road cars. The only transmission available was a dual-clutch 7-speed Getrag gearbox, in a different state of tune shared with the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. There was no traditional manual option, making this the fourth road-car after the Enzo, Challenge Stradale and 430 Scuderia not to be offered with Ferrari’s classic gated manual. The car’s suspension featured double wishbones at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear, coupled with E-Diff and F1-Trac traction control systems, designed to improve the car’s cornering and longitudinal acceleration by 32% when compared with its predecessors. The brakes included a prefill function whereby the pistons in the calipers move the pads into contact with the discs on lift off to minimise delay in the brakes being applied. This combined with the ABS and standard Carbon Ceramic brakes caused a reduction in stopping distance from 100–0 km/h (62-0 mph) to 32.5 metres. Ferrari’s official 0–100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time was quoted as 2.9–3.0 seconds with a top speed of 340 km/h (210 mph). In keeping with Ferrari tradition the body was designed by Pininfarina under the leadership of Donato Coco, the Ferrari design director. The interior design of Ferrari 458 Italia was designed by Bertrand Rapatel, a French automobile designer. The car’s exterior styling and features were designed for aerodynamic efficiency, producing a downforce of 140 kg (309 lb) at 200 km/h. In particular, the front grille features deformable winglets that lower at high speeds, in order to offer reduced drag. The car’s interior was designed using input from former Ferrari Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher; in a layout common to racing cars, the new steering wheel incorporates many controls normally located on the dashboard or on stalks, such as turning signals or high beams. At launch the car was widely praised as being pretty much near perfect in every regard. It did lack a fresh air version, though, but that was addressed with the launch of the 458 Spider at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. This convertible variant of the 458 Italia featured an aluminium retractable hardtop which, according to Ferrari, weighs 25 kilograms (55 lb) less than a soft roof such as the one found on the Ferrari F430 Spider, and can be opened in 14 seconds The engine cover was redesigned to accommodate the retractable roof system. It had the same 0–100 km/h time as the hard-top but a lower top speed of 199 mph. It quickly became the better seller of the two versions.
Also here were examples of the 458 Speciale, one of a a now long line of specially engineered cars added to complement the “regular” V8 models that started with the 100 units of the 348 Speciale produced in 1992, and followed up by the 360 Challenge Stradale, the 430 Scuderia and the 16M. In essence they are all about adding power and shedding weight. In simplistic terms, the road to the Speciale can be summed up in four words: more power, less weight. There are other, more detailed changes, too, obviously, but those are the cornerstones around which everything else is shaped. The normally aspirated, flat-plane crank V8 retains its 4497cc swept capacity but receives new cam geometry with higher valve lift, shorter inlet manifolds and different pistons providing a higher compression ratio. Internal friction is reduced, through the use of uprated materials and the upshot is 597bhp (up from 562bhp) generated at the engine’s 9000rpm limit. Torque is the same, at 398lb ft, still delivered at 6000rpm. The engine is mated to a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox whose upshifts, we were told at the launch of such gearboxes, are all but instant. That’s still true, but Ferrari has improved the response time to a pull on the lever and made the engine rev-match more quickly on downshifts to reduce the time that those take. The engine’s changes shave 8kg from the car’s overall weight – the exhaust is all aluminium and the intake is carbonfibre. Those 8kg form part of a claimed 90kg total saving at 1395kg now, versus 1485kg for a 458 Italia. Of this 90kg, 12kg is contributed by lighter, forged wheels, 13kg comes from bodywork and window changes (lighter glass all round and Lexan for the engine cover), and 20kg comes from the cabin. There are two flaps on the Speciale’s front valance, one either side of the prancing horse badge in its centre. Below 106mph these flaps remain closed, which diverts air towards the radiators. Above that speed, the radiators get quite enough cool air, thanks very much, so the flaps open, which reduces drag. Then, above 137mph, they move again, lowering to shift downforce to the rear of the car, in turn adjusting the balance 20 per cent rearward in order to promote high-speed cornering stability. At the rear, meanwhile, there is a new diffuser (the exhausts have been rerouted to make the most of its central section). Movable flaps in the diffuser adjust, but this time they are dependent not only on speed but also on steering angle and throttle or brake position. When lowered, the flaps stall the path of air into the diffuser and improve the Cd by 0.03. When raised, the diffuser adds downforce as it should. Bodywork changes, though, also bring some aerodynamic improvements, you’ll not be surprised to hear, with lessons applied from the LaFerrari and FXX programmes. In the front valance and under the rear diffuser, there are flaps that open at speed to reduce drag and improve downforce. Finally, there are new Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres in a unique compound – rather a sticky one, we suspect – plus new calibration for the adaptive dampers. The carbon-ceramic brake discs also use a new compound. 499 of them were built and they sold out very quickly.
Latest of the V8 line is the 488 GTB, and this was well represented here. Launched at the 2015 Geneva Show, the 488GTB followed the lead set by the California T in bringing turbocharging into a modern-day, mid-engined V8 Ferrari supercar for the first time. The engine is completely new when compared with its V8 stablemate, not only in components but also in feel and character. It is a twin-turbocharged 3902cc unit whilst that in the California T is 3855cc. In the 488 GTB, it produces 660bhp at 8000rpm and 560lb ft at 3000rpm. Both outputs are significant increases over the normally aspirated 4.5-litre V8 used in the 562 bhp 458 Italia and 597 bhp 458 Speciale, and also greater than the car’s biggest rival, the McLaren 650S. The torque figure of the 488 GTB is such that it also exceeds the 509lb ft at 6000rpm of the normally aspirated V12 used in the range-topping Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. The mighty new engine in the 488 GTB drives the rear wheels through a revised seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox derived from the 458. It features a new ‘Variable Torque Management’ system which, Ferrari says, “unleashes the engine’s massive torque smoothly and powerfully right across the rev range”. The gear ratios are also tuned to “deliver incredibly progressive acceleration when the driver floors the throttle”. The 488 GTB can crack 0-62mph in just 3.0sec, 0-124mph in 8.4sec and reach a top speed of 205mph. Its 0-62mph and 0-124mph times match the McLaren 650S’s, but the Woking car’s top speed is slightly higher at 207mph. The engine also accounts for the ‘488’ element of the car’s name, because each of the engine’s eight cylinders is 488cc in capacity when rounded up. The GTB suffix, standing for Gran Turismo Berlinetta, is a hallmark of previous mid-engined V8 Ferraris such as the 308 GTB. Not only is the new turbo engine more potent than the 4.5-litre V8 from the 458 Italia, but it is also more economical. Combined fuel economy is rated at 24.8mpg, compared with 21.2mpg in the 458 Italia, and CO2 emissions are 260g/km – a 47g/km improvement. Ferrari’s HELE engine stop-start system features on the 488 GTB. Developments on the dynamic side include a second generation of the Side Slip Angle Control system, called SSC2. This allows the driver to oversteer without intruding, unless it detects a loss of control. The SSC2 now controls the active dampers, in addition to the F1-Trac traction control system and E-Diff electronic differential. Ferrari says the result is “more precise and less invasive, providing greater longitudinal acceleration out of corners” and flatter, more stable behaviour during “complex manoeuvres”. Learnings from the Ferrari XX programme have also been incorporated into the 488 GTB, something that Ferrari says allows all drivers and not just professionals, to make the most of its electronic and vehicle control systems. It also claims the 488 GTB is “the most responsive production model there is”, with responses comparable to a track car. The 488 GTB has lapped Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in 1min 23sec – two seconds faster than the 458 Italia, and half a second quicker than the 458 Speciale. The dimensions of the 488 GTB – it is 4568mm in length, 1952mm in width and 1213mm in height – closely match the 458 Italia from which it has evolved. Its dry weight is 1370kg when equipped with lightweight options – 40kg more than the McLaren 650S. The new look, styled at the Ferrari Styling Centre, features several new aerodynamic features that improve downforce and reduce drag. Most notable is the addition of active aerodynamics at the rear through a ‘blown’ rear spoiler, where air is channelled from the base of the glass engine cover under the spoiler. This contributes to the 50% increase in downforce over the 458 Italia. Also new is a double front spoiler, an aerodynamic underbody, a large air intake at the front that references the 308 GTB, a diffuser with active flaps, new positioning for the exhaust flaps and new-look lights. The interior has been redesigned to be made more usable, including new switchgear, air vents and instrument panel. The multi-function steering wheel remains, while the infotainment system gets a new interface and graphics. The Spider followed the closed coupe model six months later, and supplies of that car are now reaching the UK. It is expected that this will be bigger seller of the car, as was the case with the 458 models.
This is an F12 TdF, a variant that Ferrari unveiled in October 2015, as a faster, lighter and more powerful special edition of the regular F12 Berlinetta. The accompanying press releases informed us that the the car was created in homage to the legendary Tour de France road races, which it dominated in the 1950s and 1960s with the likes of the 1956 250 GT Berlinetta. However, the full Tour de France name cannot be used, as this is registered to the famous annual cycle race held in France, and even the might of Ferrari’s often belligerent and bullying legal department clearly had not managed to get past that obstacle. The F12 TdF, described by its maker as “the ultimate expression of the concept of an extreme road car that is equally at home on the track”, keeps the same 6.3-litre naturally aspirated V12 engine as the regular F12 Berlinetta, but power has been boosted from 730bhp to 770bhp at 8500rpm, while torque has increased from 509lb ft to 520lb ft at 6750rpm. Ferrari says 80% of the car’s torque is available from 2500rpm. By comparison, McLaren’s 675LT features a 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine and produces 660bhp and 516lb ft – enough to give it a 0-62mph sprint time of 2.9 seconds. The older Ferrari 458 Speciale, meanwhile, made 597bhp from its 4.5-litre naturally aspirated V8. The car is capable of reaching 62mph in 2.9sec and has a top speed of more than 211mph. Official fuel consumption is rated at 18.3mpg, with CO2 emissions of 360g/km. Ferrari says it has has used various modifications derived from its F1 cars to boost the engine’s efficiency. The F12 TdF uses a new version of the firm’s dual-clutch automatic transmission, which features shorter gear ratios. New one-piece brake calipers – the same as those used on the LaFerrari supercar – are said to provide “outstanding” stopping distances, allowing the F12 TdF to brake from 62-0mph in 30.5 metres. Ferrari says the car’s performance is “second to none”, but that it has also been conceived to be “an extremely agile and powerful car which could also be driven by less expert drivers”. The F12 TdF has lapped Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in 1min 21sec. The regular F12 Berlinetta completed the lap in 1min 23sec – the same as the new 488. The LaFerrari currently holds the fastest time on the course, with a time of 1min 19.70sec. Among the other changes made to the F12 TdF are larger front tyres, allowing greater lateral acceleration through corners. Ferrari says the car’s “natural tendency” to oversteer has been compensated for by the use of a new rear-wheel steering system. Dubbed Virtual Short Wheelbase, the system – which automatically adjusts the rear wheels for the optimum steering angle – is said to increase stability at high speeds while guaranteeing “the steering wheel response times and turn-in of a competition car”. The F12 TdF’s aggressive bodywork includes a longer and higher rear spoiler, larger air vents to channel air flow along the sides of the car, a redesigned rear diffuser and new wheel arch louvres. It sits on 20in alloy wheels. Overall, the changes combine to give the F12 TdF 30% more downforce compared to the F12. Ferrari says the redesigned bodywork has almost doubled the aerodynamic efficiency of the car compared to the standard F12, while the use of lightweight carbonfibre inside and out has reduced the F12 TdFf’s kerb weight by 110kg over the standard car, which weighs 1630kg. The cabin is deliberately stripped out. The door panels feature carbonfibre trim, while knee padding replaces the traditional glovebox. The majority of the cabin is trimmed with Alcantara instead of real leather. Aluminium plates feature on the floor instead of mats, again hinting at the car’s track-focused nature. Just 799 examples were built, around 20 of which came to the UK, with an asking price of £339,000, around £100,000 more than the regular F12 Berlinetta.
There was an example of the regular F12 Berlinetta here, too.
Included in the special display in the Great Court were three of the series of Ferrari Hypercars of recent times. First of these was the F40, of 1987, which was the successor to the 288 GTO, the one car sadly not represented here. It was designed to celebrate Ferrari’s 40th anniversary and was the last Ferrari automobile personally approved by Enzo Ferrari. At the time it was Ferrari’s fastest, most powerful, and most expensive car for sale. As soon as the 288 GTO was launched, Ferrari started the development of an evolution model, intended to compete against the Porsche 959 in FIA Group B. However, when the FIA brought an end to the Group B category for the 1986 season, Enzo Ferrari was left with five 288 GTO Evoluzione development cars, and no series in which to campaign them. Enzo’s desire to leave a legacy in his final supercar allowed the Evoluzione program to be further developed to produce a car exclusively for road use. In response to the quite simple, but very expensive car with relatively little out of the ordinary being called a “cynical money-making exercise” aimed at speculators, a figure from the Ferrari marketing department was quoted as saying “We wanted it to be very fast, sporting in the extreme and Spartan,” “Customers had been saying our cars were becoming too plush and comfortable.” “The F40 is for the most enthusiastic of our owners who want nothing but sheer performance. It isn’t a laboratory for the future, as the 959 is. It is not Star Wars. And it wasn’t created because Porsche built the 959. It would have happened anyway.” Power came from an enlarged, 2936 cc version of the GTO’s twin IHI turbocharged V8 developing 478 bhp. The F40 did without a catalytic converter until 1990 when US regulations made them a requirement for emissions control reasons. The flanking exhaust pipes guide exhaust gases from each bank of cylinders while the central pipe guides gases released from the wastegate of the turbochargers. Engines with catalytic converters bear F120D code. The suspension was similar to the GTO’s double wishbone setup, though many parts were upgraded and settings were changed; the unusually low ground clearance prompted Ferrari to include the ability to raise the vehicle’s ground clearance when necessary. The body was an entirely new design by Pininfarina featuring panels made of Kevlar, carbon fibre, and aluminium for strength and low weight, and intense aerodynamic testing was employed. Weight was further minimised through the use of a plastic windscreen and windows. The cars did have air conditioning, but had no sound system, door handles, glove box, leather trim, carpets, or door panels. The first 50 cars produced had sliding Lexan windows, while later cars were fitted with wind down windows. The F40 was designed with aerodynamics in mind. For speed the car relied more on its shape than its power. Frontal area was reduced, and airflow greatly smoothed, but stability rather than terminal velocity was a primary concern. So too was cooling as the forced induction engine generated a great deal of heat. In consequence, the car was somewhat like an open-wheel racing car with a body. It had a partial undertray to smooth airflow beneath the radiator, front section, and the cabin, and a second one with diffusers behind the motor, but the engine bay was not sealed. Nonetheless, the F40 had an impressively low Cd of 0.34 with lift controlled by its spoilers and wing. The factory never intended to race the F40, but the car saw competition as early as 1989 when it debuted in the Laguna Seca Raceway round of the IMSA, appearing in the GTO category, with a LM evolution model driven by Jean Alesi, finishing third to the two faster space-framed four wheel drive Audi 90 and beating a host of other factory backed spaceframe specials that dominated the races. Despite lack of factory backing, the car would soon have another successful season there under a host of guest drivers such as Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Jacques Laffite and Hurley Haywood taking a total of three second places and one third. It would later be a popular choice by privateers to compete in numerous domestic GT series. Although the original plan was to build just 400 cars, such was the demand that in the end, 1311 were built over a 4 year period.
Fans who wanted to see what Ferrari would do next did not have too long to wait, as the next hypercar, the F50 appeared 4 years later, in 1995. This could almost be seen as a Formula 1 car for the road, as this mid-engined two seat roadster with a removable hardtop had a 4.7 litre naturally aspirated 60-valve V12 engine that was developed from the 3.5 litre V12 used in the 1990 Ferrari 641 Formula One car. Only 349 cars were made, of which 301 were red. Just 4 of them were black, making it, along with silver the least produced colour of the limited palate offered. The last F50 was produced in July 1997. These days this is the rarest of the quintet.
Widely rumoured to be going to be called the F60, Ferrari surprised everyone at its 2002 unveiling by giving their latest hypercar the name Enzo. This car was built using even more Formula One technology, such as a carbon-fibre body, F1-style electrohydraulic shift transmission, and carbon fibre-reinforced silicon carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite disc brakes. Also used were technologies not allowed in F1 such as active aerodynamics and traction control. After a downforce of 7600 N (1700 lbf) is reached at 300 km/h (186 mph) the rear wing is actuated by computer to maintain that downforce. The Enzo’s F140 B V12 engine was the first of a new generation for Ferrari. It was based on the design of the V8 found in Maserati’s Quattroporte, using the same basic design and 104 mm (4.1 in) bore spacing. The Enzo formed the basis for a whole array of other very special cars, including the FXX and FXX Evoluzione cars and the Maserati MC12 and MC12 Evoluzione as well as the Ferrari P4/5 and the Millechilli. Originally, 349 of these were going to be produced, but Ferrari decided to add another 50 to the total, meaning 400 in total were produced up until 2004.
From the current range were a couple of cars in a dealer display. These were the GTC4 Lusso, the updated version of the car which started out as the FF back in 2012 and the very latest addition to the range, the new Portofino, the replacement for the California T and which is only just filtering through to the dealers and hence owners.
Sole Ford in the show was this beautifully presented GT40. No, it is not one of the original and very rare cars from the 1960s, but a more recent recreation.
There were no fewer than 5 examples of the latest NS-X here. Four of them were on a dealer stand, and there was one further example in the owners parking area.
As well as the new cars, the dealer also had one of the first generation NS-X cars on display as well.
As well as a regular F Type Coupe R, there were at least two examples of the limited edition Project Seven here. First seen 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, 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, generally were the first to get their cars. 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.
For the Interceptor that Jensen launched in 1966, to replace the gawky CV8, the West Bromwich concern went to the Italian firm Carrozzeria Touring for some styling assistance, and the result is generally agreed to be highly successful. This large car with a massive wrap around glass rear window was quite practical compared to many of its rivals and the thumping great Chrysler V8 under the bonnet gave it the go to match the looks. The car underwent a number of upgrades through the years, reaching the Series 3 by 1971, with the latest 7.2 litre engine, standard air conditioning, and a number of other detailed changes. Around 6500 Interceptors, including the potent SP and the all wheel drive FF models were made. A convertible with powered soft top was introduced in 1974. Mainly intended for the American market, it was also sold in Europe. 267 convertibles were made. Rarer still is the Coupé version introduced in 1975, just 60 of which were made before the company’s demise. The Coupé was derived from the convertible and therefore lacked the distinctive rear window of the regular car. As is well known, Jensen went bankrupt in 1976, but thankfully, that was not the end of the Jensen story, though. A group of investors stepped in and re-launched production of the Interceptor, which was briefly re-introduced in the late 1980s as the Series 4 (S4). The car came back as a low-volume hand built and bespoke affair, marketed in a similar way to Bristol, with a price of £70,000 and more, to match. Though the body remained essentially the same as the last of the main production run of Series 3, the engine was a much smaller Chrysler supplied 5.9 litre which used more modern controls to reduce emissions comparatively and still produce about 250 hp. In addition, the interior was slightly re-designed with the addition of modern “sports” front seats as opposed to the armchair style of the earlier models, as well as a revised dashboard and electronics. The then owner sold up in 1990 to an engineering company believed to be in a stronger position to manufacture the car which lasted until 1993 with approximately 36 cars built, and while work commenced on development of a Series 5 (S5) Interceptor, once again receivers were called in and the company was liquidated. But the Interceptor is one of those cars with enduring appeal, and not only is there a thriving market for specialists such as Cropredy Garage to undertake comprehensive restorations of the cars, but the latest venture enables you to buy an Interceptor R, an example of which was on show here. These are created by a subsidiary of Cropredy Garage, Jensen International Automotive which as set up, with the financial backing and know-how of Carphone Warehouse founder and chairman Charles Dunstone who joined its board of directors. A small number of Jensen Interceptor Ss, which had started production under a previous company, are being completed by Jensen International Automotive (JIA), in parallel with JIA’s own production of the new Jensen Interceptor R; deliveries of the latter started at the beginning of 2011. These are rebuilds of original Interceptors using modern components, with a General Motors supplied supercharged 556 bhp 6.2 litre LS3 engine and 6 speed automatic transmission from a Chevrolet Corvette. All new front brakes, revised front geometry, a limited slip differential, adjustable dampers all around, bespoke 17″ alloys and Racelogic variable traction control complete the mechanical changes, and inside there is a bespoke new interior with revised heating and climate control, electric seats and mirrors, Bridge of Weir leather and Wilton carpets. Seen here were examples of both the Interceptor R and the S.
Oldest Lamborghini model that I came across here, on one of the dealer stands, as this Espada, a 4-seat grand touring coupé, launched in 1968. The car was designed by Marcello Gandini at Bertone. Gandini drew inspiration and cues from two of his Bertone show cars from 1967, the Lamborghini Marzal and the Jaguar Piraña. The name “Espada” means “sword” in Spanish, referring to the sword that the Torero uses to kill the bull in the Corrida. During its ten years in production the car underwent some changes, and three different series were produced. These were the S1 (1968–1970), the S2 (1970–1972) and the S3 (1972–1978). Each model featured interior redesigns, while only minor details were changed on the exterior. The Espada was launched at the 1968 Geneva Motor Show. The original design of the dashboard was inspired by the Marzal concept car, and featured octagonal housings for the main instruments, topped by an additional binnacle for the secondary gauges. Wheels were Campagnolo alloys on knock-off hubs, of the same design seen on the Miura. The tail lights were the same units mounted on the first series Fiat 124 Sport Coupé. 186 were made up until January 1970. At the 1970 Brussels Motor Show Lamborghini unveiled the Espada S2. Outside the only change was the deletion of the grille covering the vertical glass tail panel. Inside changes were more radical: all-new dashboard, centre console and steering wheel were installed. The instrument binnacle was of a more conventional rectangular shape, with round gauges. A wood-trimmed fascia extended along the entire width of the dashboard. Power output increased to 350 PS (345 bhp) due to a higher 10.7:1 compression ratio; the brakes were upgraded to vented Girling discs. Power steering was offered as an option. 575 Series II Espada were made, making it the most popular and desirable variant. The Espada S3 was launched in 1972. Its 3.9 litre V12 engine produced 325 PS (321 bhp) With the second redesign the dashboard changed to a aluminium-trimmed cockpit that kept all instruments and most controls (including the radio) within easy reach of the driver. Newly designed wheels on five-stud hubs replaces the earlier knock-off wider wheels fitted with Pirelli Cinturato 215/70WR15 CN12 tyres, making the Espada S3 instantly recognisable; other exterior changes included the square instead of hexagonal mesh grille and tail lights from the Alfa Romeo 2000 replacing the previous Fiat-sourced ones. In 1974 a Borg Warner automatic transmission became available. From 1975 large impact bumpers had to be installed to meet United States safety requirements; some people consider cars produced with them as a separate fourth series, but Lamborghini did not officially change the model designation. In total, 1217 Espadas were made, making it the most successful Lamborghini model until the expansion of Countach production in the mid-1980s.
Which small boy (and perhaps car loving girl) did not lust after a Countach back in the 1970s and 1980s. A dramatic looking car, this was the stuff of dreams that you would only ever see at the London or NEC Motor Shows. Countach first made an appearance, as a concept in 1971, but it was 1973 before the production car made its debut, and despite unfortunate timing with fuel shortages and a recession, and a number of financial problems for its maker, the car sold well throughout its production life. The Countach entered production as the LP400 with a 3929 cc engine delivering 370 hp. The first production Countach was delivered to an Australian in 1974. Externally, little had altered from the final form of the prototype except at the rear, where conventional lights replaced the futuristic light clusters of the prototype. The styling had become rather more aggressive than Gandini’s original conception, with the required large air scoops and vents to keep the car from overheating, but the overall shape was still very sleek. The original LP400 rode on the quite narrow tyres of the time, but their narrowness and the slick styling meant that this version had the lowest drag coefficient of any Countach model. The emblems at the rear simply read “Lamborghini” and “Countach”, with no engine displacement or valve arrangement markings as is found on later cars. By the end of 1977, the company had produced 158 Countach LP400s. In 1978, a new LP400 S model was introduced. Though the engine was slightly downgraded from the LP400 model (350 bhp), the most radical changes were in the exterior, where the tyres were replaced with 345/35R15 Pirelli P7 tyres; the widest tyres available on a production car at the time, and fibreglass wheel arch extensions were added, giving the car the fundamental look it kept until the end of its production run. An optional V-shaped spoiler was available over the rear deck, which, while improving high-speed stability, reduced the top speed by at least 16 km/h (10 mph). Most owners ordered the wing. The LP400 S handling was improved by the wider tires, which made the car more stable in cornering. Aesthetically, some prefer the slick lines of the original, while others prefer the more aggressive lines of the later models, beginning with the LP400 S. The standard emblems (“Lamborghini” and “Countach”) were kept at the rear, but an angular “S” emblem was added after the “Countach” on the right side. 1982 saw another improvement, this time giving a bigger, more powerful 4754 cc engine. The bodywork was unaltered, however the interior was given a refresh. This version of the car is sometimes called the 5000 S, which may cause confusion with the later 5000 QV. 321 of these cars were built. Two prototypes of the 1984 Countach Turbo S were built by Lamborghini, of which one is known to exist. The Turbo S weighed 1,515 kg (3,340 lb), while its 4.8 litre twin-turbo V12 had a claimed maximum power output of 758 PS and a torque output of 876 N·m (646 lb·ft), giving the car an acceleration of 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 335 km/h (208 mph). A turbo adjuster, located beneath the steering wheel, could be used to adjust the boost pressure from 0.7 bar to 1.5 bar at which the engine performed its maximum power output. The Turbo S has 15″ wheels with 255/45 tyres on the front and 345/35 on the rear. In 1985 the engine design evolved again, as it was bored and stroked to 5167 cc and given four valves per cylinder—quattrovalvole in Italian, hence the model’s name, Countach 5000 Quattrovalvole or 5000 QV in short. The carburettors were moved from the sides to the top of the engine for better breathing—unfortunately this created a hump on the engine deck, reducing the already poor rear visibility to almost nothing. Some body panels were also replaced by Kevlar. In later versions of the engine, the carburettors were replaced with fuel injection. Although this change was the most notable on the exterior, the most prominent change under the engine cover was the introduction of fuel injection, with the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, providing 414 bhp, rather than the six Weber carburettors providing 455 bhp. As for other markets, 1987 and 1988 model Quattrovalvoles received straked sideskirts. 610 cars were built. Seen here is one of the Countach 5000 Qv models.
Lamborghini had been toying for some time with the idea of a smaller and cheaper car, powered by a V8 engine, to rival the smaller Ferraris, and the result, the Urraco, was first seen at the 1970 Turin Show. It was styled by Marcello Gandini, and engineered by Paolo Stanzani. It was launched with a 2.5 litre V8 engine, engineered to be cheaper to build, with belt-driven camshafts, situated within a steel monocoque structure suspended on McPherson struts. It reached the market before the rival Maserati Merak and Ferrari 308 GT4 Dino, which should have given it a big advantage. But it did not. For a start, it was deemed not powerful enough, so even before the difficulties of the late 1973 Fuel Crisis made things difficult, the car did not sell well at all. The solution was to add more power, and this came when the engine was enlarged to 3 litres, with four chain-driven cams, which took power from 220 bhp to 265 bhp. A roll-hoop across the back of the cabin improved rigidity, and more powerful brakes were fitted. It sold better, though never in the sort of volume that had been anticipated, and the addition of an Italian market tax special P200 did not help much, either. Just 66 of these were built, whereas 520 of the original P250 models found buyers, and 190 of the more powerful P300s added to the total before production ceased in 1979.
The story did not quite end there, as in 1976 a heavily revised version, with removable targa roof panels, appeared, called the Silhouette. Officially presented at the 1976 Geneva Auto Show, the Silhouette had begun as a styling exercise by noted Italian Carrozzeria Bertone, distinguished from the Urraco by more angular styling. The Silhouette was the first Lamborghini to employ a targa top roof. The production Silhouette had a 3.0 litre all-aluminium alloy Lamborghini V8 mounted transversely behind the driver which gave it a performance of 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 6.5 seconds, 0 to 100 mph (0 to 161 km/h) in 16.1 seconds, and a top speed of 160 mph.. Of the 54 units built, just 12 of them with right-hand drive, 31 are currently known to exist. The Silhouette later evolved into the similar looking but more successful Lamborghini Jalpa.
And there was one of those here, too. The Jalpa was a development of the earlier Silhouette, which it replaced. Taking its name from a famous breed of fighting bulls, the Jalpa was fitted with a 3.5 litre double overhead camshaft version of the V8 engine used in the Silhouette on which it was based. The version used in the Jalpa produced 255 hp at 7,000 rpm and 225 lb/ft at 4,000 rpm. Lamborghini claimed the Jalpa could accelerate from 0 to 62 miles per hour (100 km/h) in 6.0 seconds, to 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) in 19.1 seconds and a 1/4 mile time of 15.4 at 92 miles per hour (148 km/h) with a top speed of 234 km/h (145 mph), Curb weight was 1,510 kilograms (3,329 lb). When the car was launched in 1981, the plastic components (bumpers, air intakes and engine cover) were black, and the car carried over the rectangular taillights of the Silhouette. This was changed in 1984 when round taillights were fitted and the black plastic parts were replaced by parts in body colour. In 1988, after falling sales, the new owners, Chrysler, decided to end production. The Jalpa had, overall, been decently successful, with 410 units sold.
At a time when the company was financed by the Swiss-based Mimran brothers, Lamborghini began development of what was codenamed Project 132 in June 1985 as a replacement for the Countach model. The brief stated that its top speed had to be at least 315 km/h (196 mph). The design of the car was contracted to Marcello Gandini, who had designed its two predecessors. When Chrysler bought the company in 1987, providing money to complete its development, its management was uncomfortable with Gandini’s designs and commissioned its design team in Detroit to execute a third extensive redesign, smoothing out the trademark’s sharp edges and corners of Gandini’s original design, and leaving him famously unimpressed. In fact, Gandini was so disappointed with the “softened” shape that he would later realise his original design in the Cizeta-Moroder V16T. The car became known as the Diablo, carrying on Lamborghini’s tradition of naming its cars after breeds of fighting bulls. The Diablo was named after a ferocious bull raised by the Duke of Veragua in the 19th century, famous for fighting an epic battle with ‘El Chicorro’ in Madrid on July 11, 1869 In the words of Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, the Diablo was designed “solely to be the biggest head-turner in the world.” The Diablo was presented to the public for sale on January 21, 1990. Its power came from a 5.7 litre 48-valve version of the existing Lamborghini V12 featuring dual overhead cams and computer-controlled multi-point fuel injection, producing a maximum output of 499 PS and 580 N·m (428 lb/ft) of torque. The vehicle could reach 100 km/h in about 4.5 seconds, with a top speed of 202 mph. The Diablo was rear-wheel drive and the engine was mid-mounted to aid its weight balance. The Diablo came better equipped than the Countach; standard features included fully adjustable seats and steering wheel, electric windows, an Alpine stereo system, and power steering from 1993 onwards. Anti-lock brakes were not initially available, although they would eventually be used. A few options were available, including a custom-moulded driver’s seat, remote CD changer and subwoofer, rear spoiler, factory fitted luggage set and an exclusive Breguet clock for the dash. The Diablo VT was introduced in 1993. Although the VT differed from the standard Diablo in a number of ways, by far the most notable change was the addition of all wheel drive, which made use of a viscous centre differential (a modified version of LM002’s 4WD system). This provided the new nomenclature for the car (VT stands for viscous traction). The new drivetrain could direct up to 25% of the torque to the front wheels to aid traction during rear wheel slip, thus significantly improving the handling characteristics of the car. Other improvements debuting on the VT included front air intakes below the driving lamps to improve brake cooling, larger intakes in the rear arches, a more ergonomic interior with a revised dashboard, electronically adjustable dampers, four-piston brake calipers, power steering, and minor engine refinements. Many of these improvements, save the four-wheel drive system, soon transferred to the base Diablo, making the cars visually nearly identical. Further updates would follow before the car gave way to the Murcielago in 2001. The Diablo sold in greater numbers than its predecessor with 2898 examples being made during its 11 year production life.
In its turn, the Diablo gave way to the Murcielago in 2001. Taking its name from the Spanish for “bat”, this was Lamborghini’s first new design in eleven years and more importantly, the brand’s first new model under the ownership of German parent company Audi, which was manifest in a much higher level of quality and reliability. The Murcielago was styled by Peruvian-born Belgian Luc Donckerwolke, Lamborghini’s head of design from 1998 to 2005. Initially it was only available as a Coupe. The Murciélago was an all-wheel drive, mid-engined supersports car. With an angular design and an exceptionally low slung body, the highest point of the roof is just under 4 feet above the ground. One of the vehicle’s most distinguishing features are its scissor doors. which lends to the extreme image. First-generation Murciélagos, produced between 2001 and 2006, were powered by a Lamborghini V12 that traces its roots back to the company’s beginnings in the 1960s. The rear differential is integrated with the engine itself, with a viscous coupling centre differential providing drive to the front wheels. Power is delivered through a 6-speed manual transmission. The Murciélago suspension uses an independent double-wishbone design, and bodywork features carbon fibre, steel and aluminium parts. The rear spoiler and the active air intakes integrated into the car’s shoulders are electro-mechanically controlled, deploying automatically only at high speeds in an effort to maximise both aerodynamic and cooling efficiency. The first generation cars were produced between 2001 and 2006, and known simply as Murciélago, sometimes Murciélago VT. Their V12 engines produced just under 580 PS (572 hp), and powered the car to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.8 seconds. Subsequent versions incorporated an alphanumeric designation to the name Murciélago, which indicated their engine configuration and output. However, the original cars are never referred to as “LP 580s”. The Murciélago Roadster was introduced in 2004. Primarily designed to be an open top car, it employed a manually attached soft roof as cover from adverse weather, but a warning on the windshield header advised the driver not to exceed 100 mph (160 km/h) with the top in place. The designer used the B-2 stealth bomber, the Wally 118 WallyPower yacht, and architect Santiago Calatrava’s Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències in Valencia, Spain as his inspiration for the roadster’s revised rear pillars and engine cover. In March 2006, Lamborghini unveiled a new version of its halo car at the Geneva Motor Show: the Murciélago LP 640. The new title incorporated the car’s name, along with an alphanumeric designation which indicated the engine’s orientation (Longitudinale Posteriore), along with the newly updated power output. With displacement now increased to 6.5 litres, the new car made 640 PS ( 631 hp) at 8000 rpm. The Murciélago’s exterior received a minor facelift. Front and rear details were revised, and side air intakes were now asymmetrical with the left side feeding an oil cooler. A new single outlet exhaust system incorporated into the rear diffuser, modified suspension tuning, revised programming and upgraded clutch for the 6-speed “e-Gear” automated sequential transmission with launch control rounded out the performance modifications. Interior seating was also re-shaped to provide greater headroom, and a new stereo system formed part of the updated dashboard. Optional equipment included Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite brakes, chrome paddle shifters and a glass engine cover. At the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show, Lamborghini announced that the roadster version of the Murciélago would also be updated to LP 640 status. At the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, Lamborghini unveiled the ultimate version of the Murciélago, the LP 670–4 SuperVeloce. The SV moniker had previously appeared on the Diablo SV, and Miura. SV variants are more extreme and track-oriented, and are released at the end of each model’s production run. The SuperVeloce’s V12 produced 670 PS (661 hp) at 8000 rpm and 660 N·m (490 lbf·ft) of torque at 6500 rpm, thanks to revised valve timing and upgraded intake system. The car’s weight was also reduced by 100 kg (220 lb) through extensive use of carbon fibre inside and out. A new lighter exhaust system was also used. As a result of the extensive weight loss, the SV had a power-to-weight ratio of 429 bhp/ton. Also standard were the LP 640’s optional 15-inch carbon-ceramic disc brakes with 6 piston calipers. The original production plan for the SV was limited to 350 cars, , but in fact only 186 LP 670-4s were produced before the factory had to make room for the new Aventador production line. Numbered cars 1–350 do not represent the order in which cars were manufactured. Only 5-6 were made with manual transmission. Production of the Murciélago ended on November 5, 2010, with a total run of 4,099 cars. Its successor, the Aventador, was released at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.
There were a number of examples of the Gallardo, the “entry level” model which Lamborghini added to their range in 2003. It was produced for 11 years, in a bewildering number of different versions, and proved very popular with over 10,000 examples being made, which meant that there were more Gallardo models made than all previous Lamborghini cars put together.
The Lamborghini Aventador was launched on 28 February 2011 at the Geneva Motor Show, five months after its initial unveiling in Sant’Agata Bolognese. The vehicle, internally codenamed LB834, was designed to replace the then-decade-old Murciélago as the new flagship model. In keeping with Lamborghini tradition, the Aventador is named after a fighting bull. Aventador was a bull that fought particularly valiantly in the bull ring of Zaragoza, Spain in 1993, earning the Trofeo de la Peña La Madroñera for its courage in the arena. The Aventador LP 700–4 uses Lamborghini’s new 700 PS (690 bhp) 6.5 litre 60° V12 engine weighing 235 kg. Known internally as the L539, the new engine is Lamborghini’s fourth in-house engine and second V12 design. It is the first all-new V12 since the 3.5 litre powerplant found in the 350GT. Its transmission, a single-clutch seven-speed semi-automatic, is built by Graziano Trasmissioni. Despite being single-clutch, gear-shifts are accomplished in 50 milliseconds. The new, electronically controlled, all-wheel drive system is developed and supplied by the Swedish company Haldex Traction, offering traction and handling capabilities based on their 4th generation technology. The 2013 Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster was announced for production on 27 December 2012, equipped with the same V12 engine as the coupé version, Lamborghini claims again that it can reach 60 mph in less than 3 seconds and a top speed of more than 350 km/h (217 mph). The removable roof consists of two carbon fibre panels, weighing 6 kg (13 lb) each, which required the reinforcement of the rear pillar to compensate for the loss of structural integrity as well as to accommodate the rollover protection and ventilation systems for the engine. The panels are easily removable and are stored in the front luggage compartment. The Aventador Roadster has a unique engine cover design and an attachable wind deflector to improve cabin airflow at high speed as well as a gloss black finish in the A-pillars, windshield header, roof panels, and rear window area. With a total weight of 1,625 kg (3,583 lb) it’s only 50 kg (110 lb) heavier than the coupé (the weight of the roof, plus additional stiffening in the sills and A-pillars). Production of the Aventador was planned to be limited to 4,000 vehicles (4,099 Murciélagos were built); however, earlier in 2016, it achieved the 5,000 unit milestone. The moulds used to make the carbon-fibre monocoque are expected to last 500 moulds each and only 8 have been made.
Now well-established in the range is the Huracan. Replacing Lamborghini’s sales leader and most produced car, the Gallardo, the Huracán made its auto show debut at the March 2014 Geneva Auto Show, and was released in the second quarter of 2014. The name of the Huracan LP 610-4 comes from the fact that this car has 610 metric horsepower and 4 wheel drive. Huracán (huracán being the Spanish word for hurricane) is inspired by a Spanish fighting bull. Continuing the tradition of using names from historical Spanish fighting bulls, Huracán was a bull known for its courage that fought in 1879. Also Huracan is the Mayan god of wind, storm and fire. Changes from the Gallardo included full LED illumination, a 12.3 inch full-colour TFT instrument panel, Fine Nappa leather and Alcantara interior upholstery, redesigned dashboard and central tunnel, Iniezione Diretta Stratificata (IDS, essentially an adapted version of parent Audi’s Fuel Stratified Injection) direct and indirect gasoline injections, engine Stop & Start technology, EU6 emissions regulation compliance, Lamborghini Doppia Frizione (LDF) 7-speed dual-clutch transmission with 3 modes (STRADA, SPORT and CORSA), 20 inch wheels, carbon-ceramic brake system, optional Lamborghini Dynamic Steering variable steering system and MagneRide electromagnetic damper control. In early 2015, the Huracán appeared on Top Gear. It got a neutral review from Richard Hammond who said that it was too tame to be a “proper Lamborghini.” However, it got around the Top Gear test track in 1:15.8 which is faster than any other Lamborghini to go around the track to date, including the Aventador.
A real surprise was to find an example of the Aventador SV-J here, as this model was only officially presented at Pebble Beach a few days before this event. This is the fastest Lamborghini you can buy new. With 759bhp and 531lb ft on tap, the SVJ (Superveloce Jota) matches the power output of the ultra-low-volume Centenario and is 29bhp more powerful than the Aventador S. This power figure is produced by a tuned version of Lamborghini’s naturally aspirated 6.5-litre V12 and is transmitted to the road through all four wheels. Four-wheel steering is also fitted, as per the Aventador S, but the SVJ builds upon the standard car’s agility with a second generation of its active aerodynamics system (ALA 2.0), with improvements over the first system including redesigned air inlets and aero channel designs. The system aided the SVJ in lapping the Nürburgring circuit in 6min 44.97sec – a new record for a production car. Lamborghini claims the SVJ’s downforce is 40% greater than that of the Aventador SV – its former performance flagship. Larger side air intakes, a huge rear wing, tweaked underbody with vortex generators and prominent rear diffuser and aerodynamic bodywork at the front help to achieve the improved aero figure. The chassis is tweaked for additional stiffness – a 50% stiffer anti-roll bar compared with the Aventador SV has been fitted, while the suspension’s damping force range is increased by 15% over the SV. Other tweaks to the suspension are claimed to improve the car’s on-track stability. A re-engineered exhaust system reduces back pressure and has been fettled to produce a “more emotive’ sound, as well as being lighter than the standard set-up, with higher exit points. Also among the mechanical upgrades is a tweaked seven-speed automated manual gearbox, while the four-wheel drive system now sends 3% more torque rearwards. The stability control and ABS systems are tweaked to accommodate the greater grip provided by the active aerodynamics. The car’s exclusive aluminium Nireo wheels are shod in specially made Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres and are stiffer, with a bespoke tread design for the Aventador SVJ. Lamborghini plans to build 900 SVJs, with UK prices starting at around £356,000 when deliveries begin in early 2019. An additional 63 units will be produced in 63 Edition guise, of which the Pebble Beach reveal car is one, celebrating the brand’s 1963 inception. These feature a bespoke colour and trim and will carry a higher price tag than the regular SVJ.
Also here were a couple of examples of the Urus, the new SUV model which was added to the range in 2017, and deliveries of which to UK customers are just starting. I am sure we will all get used to the idea of this, and the car in question, but at present, there are plenty of people who are far from convinced, judging by what I heard people saying.
Only a couple of Lotus models featured. The newer of the pair was one of the latest Elise models.
There was also a first generation Exige here. This was launched in 2000 and was effectively a closed coupe version of the Elise. It was fitted with a naturally aspirated 1.8 litre Rover K Series Inline-four engine in VHPD (Very High Performance Derivative) tune. It produces 177 bhp at 7,800 rpm in standard form. There was also a “track spec” version with 192 bhp available. The car has a five-speed manual gearbox, and a claimed top speed of 219 km/h (136 mph). 0–60 mph was achieved in 4.7 seconds and 0–100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.9 seconds. The first Exige used the round, less aggressive headlights of the first generation Elise, although the Elise was updated soon after the introduction of the Exige. The Series 1 was built until 2002, and 604 examples were made. It was not replaced until the Series 2 of 2004.
The Merak was introduced at the 1972 Paris Auto Show, over a year after the Bora, a car whose front part of the bodyshell up to the doors, it shares. The front ends are differenced mainly by the use of dual chrome bumpers in place of twin trapezoidal grilles, but the similarities end at the B-pillar. Unlike its bigger sister the Merak doesn’t have a true, fully glassed fastback, but rather a cabin ending abruptly with a vertical rear window and a flat, horizontal engine bonnet pierced by four series of ventilation slats. Giugiaro completed the vehicle’s silhouette by adding open flying buttresses, visually extending the roofline to the tail. The main competitors of the Merak were the similarly Italian, mid-engined, 3-litre and 2+2 Dino 308 GT4 and Lamborghini Urraco P250. However unlike its transverse V8-engined rivals the Merak used a more compact V6, that could therefore be mounted longitudinally. Having been designed during the Citroën ownership of Maserati, certain Citroën hydropneumatic systems were used in the Merak, as for the Bora. These included the braking system and the clutch which were both hydraulically assisted and operated, and the pop-up headlights were hydraulically actuated. After 1976, when the French manufacturer gave up control of Maserati, the Citroën-derived parts were gradually replaced by more conventional systems. In 1977 Alejandro de Tomaso purchased Maserati and the Bora was discontinued after a production run of less than 600 cars, while the Merak remained on sale for six more years. The Merak’s V6 engine descended from the 2.7 litre Tipo C.114 originally designed by Giulio Alfieri in 1967 for use in the Citroën SM, that was bored out to 91.6 mm to displace 2,965 cc. It was a chain-driven double overhead camshaft, 12-valve unit featuring an unusual 90° angle between the cylinder banks. The lubrication system used a wet sump and an oil cooler. This V6 did not end its days on the Merak: it was later modified and made into the first ever production twin-turbocharged engine in the Biturbo, ending its career in the 1990s Ghibli after reaching the highest specific output of any production engine at the time. The powerplant was mounted longitudinally behind the passenger compartment, and joined through a single-plate dry clutch to a 5-speed, all synchromesh Citroën transaxle gearbox and a limited-slip differential. The original Merak’s three-litre engine produced 190 PS at 6000 rpm. Three twin-choke Weber carburettors (one 42 DCNF 31 and two 42 DCNF 32) fed the engine, and the compression ratio was 8.75:1. Maserati declared a top speed of over 240 km/h (149 mph). Early Meraks (1972 to 1975) were fitted with the Citroën SM’s dashboard, characterised by oval instrument gauges inset in a brushed metal fascia and a single-spoke steering wheel. 630 were made up to 1974. The lightened and more powerful Merak SS (Tipo AM122/A) was introduced at the 41st Geneva Motor Show in March 1975, although it did not enter production until the next year. It featured a 50 kg weight reduction and a 30 PS power increase to 220 PS (217 hp), thanks to the adoption of three larger 44 DCNF 44 carburettors and a higher 9:1 compression ratio. The SS was recognisable from a black grille between the pop-up headlights. A Maserati-designed upper fascia with round instruments and a four-spoke steering wheel replaced the previous SM-derived interior furniture. Later cars were bestowed with the full driver-oriented dashboard and three-spoke padded steering wheel of the Maserati Bora. The US-spec version of the Merak SS also saw a return to traditional hydraulics, eliminating the last of the Citroen high pressure system. 1000 units of the SS had been made by 1983, when all Merak production ceased. A third version of the Merak was made, In November 1977 at the Turin Auto Show, De Tomaso launched the Merak 2000 GT (Tipo AM122/D), which was basically a Merak with a smaller two-litre powerplant. It was built almost exclusively for the Italian market, where a newly introduced law strongly penalised cars with engine capacity over 2000 cc by subjecting them to a 38% Value Added Tax against the usual 19% VAT. The Merak’s competitors already offered similar two-litre models, specifically the Urraco P200 and Dino 208 GT4. The Merak 2000 GT featured a 1,999 cc engine generating 170 PS (168 hp) at 7000 rpm. Colour choice was limited to two shades: metallic light blue or gold. The two-litre cars were also distinguished by a black tape stripe running just below the mid-body character line, matte black bumpers in place of the usual chrome and the absence of the front spoiler, available as an optional. The SS’s front bonnet with the grille between the headlights was used on 2000 GTs. When production ended in 1983 just 200 Meraks 2000 GT had been made. Although a total of 1830 Merak models were made, they are rare cars now. Their low values meant that when they went wrong, which they inevitably did, it was not economic to repair or restore them, and a large number have been scrapped, which is a pity, as this is a great looking car.
Also here were examples of the Tipo 338 and better known as the 3200GT and 4200GT and Spider. After producing BiTurbo based cars for 17 years, Maserati replaced their entire range with a new model in July 1998, the 3200 GT. This very elegant 2+2 grand tourer was styled by Italdesign, whose founder and head Giorgetto Giugiaro had previously designed, among others, the Ghibli, Bora and Merak. The interior design was commissioned to Enrico Fumia. Its name honoured the Maserati 3500 GT, the Trident’s first series production grand tourer. Sold mainly in Europe, the 3200 GT was powered by the twin-turbo, 32-valve, dual overhead cam 3.2-litre V8 engine featured in the Quattroporte Evoluzione, set up to develop 370 PS (365 hp). The car was praised for its styling, with the distinctive array of tail-lights, consisting of LEDs, arranged in the shape of boomerang being particularly worthy of comment. The outer layer of the ‘boomerang’ provided the brake light, with the inner layer providing the directional indicator. The car was also reviewed quite well by the press when they got to drive it in early 1999, though it was clear that they expected more power and excitement. That came after 4,795 cars had been produced, in 2001, with the launch of the 4200 models. Officially called the Coupé and joined by an open-topped Spyder (Tipo M138 in Maserati speak), these models had larger 4.2 litre engines and had been engineered so the cars could be sold in America, marking the return to that market for Maserati after an 11 year gap. There were some detailed styling changes, most notable of which were the replacement of the boomerang rear lights with conventional rectangular units. Few felt that this was an improvement. The cars proved popular, though, selling strongly up until 2007 when they were replaced by the next generation of Maserati. Minor changes were made to the model during its six year production, but more significant was the launch at the 2004 Geneva Show of the GranSport which sported aerodynamic body cladding, a chrome mesh grille, carbon fibre interior trim, and special 19-inch wheels. It used the Skyhook active suspension, with a 0.4 inch lower ride height, and the Cambiocorsa transmission recalibrated for quicker shifts. The exhaust was specially tuned to “growl” on start-up and full throttle. The GranSport was powered by the same 4244 cc, 90° V8 petrol engine used on the Coupé and Spyder, but developing 400 PS (395 hp) at 7000 rpm due primarily to a different exhaust system and improvements on the intake manifolds and valve seats. A six-speed paddle shift transmission came as standard. The GranSport has a claimed top speed of 180 mph (290 km/h) and a 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) time of 4.8 seconds. This time, all the cars from this generation were 4200 GT models.
Final Maserati type in the event was the GranTurismo, still a current model. This has been in production for over 10 years now, and has changed remarkably little during that time. Whilst you could argue that this is because the looks were spot on from inception, there is no doubting that the interior does look like the car is a generation old now. No quibbling with the sound it makes, though. Absolutely glorious!
There were large numbers of McLaren models on show, probably second only in quantity to the Porsche area, which we will come to.
The first of the road cars was the rather awkwardly titled MP4 12C, later shorted just to 12C. This was the first ever production car wholly designed and built by McLaren, and their first production road car produced since the McLaren F1, which ended production in 1998. McLaren started developing the car in 2007 and secretly purchased a Ferrari 360 to use as a test mule. The mule called MV1 was used to test the 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine. The car also featured side vents for additional cooling which were later incorporated in the final production model. Later in the year, the company purchased an Ultima GTR to test the braking system and suspension components, that mule was called the MV2. The space frame and body of that car were modified in order to accommodate the new components. Later another prototype was purchased which was another Ferrari 360 dubbed the MV3 which was used to test the exhaust system. McLaren then built two prototypes themselves called CP1 and CP2 incorporating the Carbon Monocell monocoque which were used for testing the heat management system and performance. The MP4-12C features a carbon fibre composite chassis, and is powered by a longitudinally-mounted Rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout McLaren M838T 3.8 litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, developing approximately 600 PS (592 bhp) at 7500 rpm and around 600 N⋅m (443 lbf⋅ft) of torque at 5600 rpm. The car makes use of Formula 1-sourced technologies such as “brake steer”, where the inside rear wheel is braked during fast cornering to reduce understeer. Power is transmitted to the wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The entire drivetrain is the first to be entirely designed and produced in house by McLaren. The chassis is based around a F1 style one-piece carbon fibre tub, called the Carbon MonoCell, weighing only 80 kg (176 lb). The MonoCell is made in a single pressing by using a set of patented processes, using Bi-Axial and Tri-Axial carbon fibre multiaxial fabrics produced by Formax UK Ltd. with the MonoCell manufactured by Carbo Tech in Salzburg, Austria. This has reduced the time required to produce a MonoCell from 3,000 hours for the F1 and 500 hours for the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, to 4 hours for the MP4-12C. The McLaren MP4-12C utilizes a unique hydraulic configuration to suspend the vehicle as opposed to more traditional coil springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. What McLaren has called “ProActive Chassis Control,” the system consists of an array of high and low pressure valves interconnected from both left to right and front to back, and the typical anti-roll bars were omitted entirely. When high pressure meets high pressure under roll conditions, stiffness results; and subsequently when high pressure meets low under heave and warp, more give is allowed, ultimately providing a firmer, competent suspension setup in spirited driving, and a very plush, compliant and comfortable ride when moving at slower, constant speeds. The car has a conventional two side-by-side seating arrangement, unlike its predecessor the McLaren F1 which featured an irregular three seat formation (front centre, two behind either side). To make up for this however, the car’s central console is narrower than in other cars, seating the driver closer to the centre. Interior trim and materials can be specified in asymmetric configuration – known as “Driver Zone”. The final car was unveiled to the public on 9 September 2009 before the company’s launch in 2010. A convertible version of the car called the MP4-12C Spider, as added to the range in 2012. The name’s former prefix ‘MP4’ has been the chassis designation for all McLaren Formula 1 cars since 1981. ‘MP4′ stands for McLaren Project 4 as a result of the merger between Ron Dennis’ Project 4 organisation with McLaren. The ’12’ refers to McLaren’s internal Vehicle Performance Index through which it rates key performance criteria both for competitors and for its own cars. The criteria combine power, weight, emissions, and aerodynamic efficiency. The coalition of all these values delivers an overall performance index that has been used as a benchmark throughout the car’s development. The ‘C’ refers to Carbon, highlighting the application of carbon fibre technology to the future range of McLaren sports cars. At the end of 2012, the name of the MP4-12C was reduced to 12C – that name is usually used when referring to the coupe. The open-top version now being called the 12C Spider.
In February 2014, McLaren announced the related 650S, with revised bodywork, upgraded engine and other technical improvements. In April 2014, McLaren announced the end of production of the 12C. The 650S is the core model in the Super Series, designed and developed to give the enthusiast driver the ultimate in luxury, engagement and excitement. Fitted with the award-winning 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine producing 650PS (641bhp) and 678Nm (500lb ft) of torque, it is a no compromise open-top high performance supercar with optimised levels of performance, handling and driver enjoyment. The secret of its success is its carbon fibre MonoCell chassis, which needs no extra strengthening to provide the necessary rigidity or safety when developing a convertible. This keeps any weight increase to a minimum, meaning the McLaren 650S Spider offers all the enjoyment and driver appeal of the fixed-roof sibling – but with the added appeal of roof-down driving. The 650S Spider is fitted with an electrically retractable hard top, which can be automatically raised or lowered on the move in less than 17 seconds. Building on the success of the MP4 12C, with which it shares much, the 650S series, first seen at the 2014 Geneva Show has proved very popular, helping to establish the brand as a serious rival to the established supercar players.
Commanding a significant price premium over the regular 650S cars, the 675LT sits in the “Super” part of the range (P1s are in the “Ultimate” collection). Those who thought that the 675LT might look little different from the “regular” 650S, with a simple elongation of the rear end underestimated the engineers at Woking, as the 675LT has a style and appearance all of its own, with lots of different detailing to distinguish it from the standard car, with carbon fibre wings and twin circular titanium exhaust pipes exposed at the rear deck to improve cooling, sitting above a new bumper and diffuser both made from carbon fibre. At the front there is a larger carbon fibre splitter and new front bumper design, aimed at improving cooling and downforce. Designed to be far more track focused than the 650S, it contains many elements aimed at improving handling and performance. The biggest difference to the way it feels is apparently down to 100kg reduction in weight, but it does also contain a significantly modified 666 bhp version of the 650S’ twin turbo 3.8 litre V8. 50% of engine parts are new, including the turbos, camshafts and connecting rods, along with detailed revisions to the cylinder heads and manifolds. As a consequence, the 0-60 time is reduced to 2.9 seconds, 0.1 seconds less than the 650S, though the top speed is slightly reduced due to the extra drag of the aerodynamic pack. 500 examples were built, and they all sold out within weeks, to the surprise of no-one, as this is a very impressive machine indeed.
Sitting below these cars in the range are the 540 and 570 models. The first of these were revealed at the 2015 New York Auto Show, going on sale towards the end of that year. These were labelled as part of McLaren’s Sports Series. This mid-engine sportscar features the lightweight carbon fibre MonoCell II chassis, and a highly efficient 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine generating 562bhp and 443lb/ft of torque. Although the model has been conceived with a greater focus on day-to-day usability and refinement, but it is still very much a pure McLaren, boasting a class-leading power-to-weight ratio of 434PS per tonne, and electrifying performance. The 570S Coupé accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in just 3.2 seconds, reaches 200km/h (124mph) in 9.5 seconds, and on to a top speed of 204mph. Pricing for the 570S Coupé started at £143,250, though like all cars of this type, that figure can quickly rise once you raid the options list.
The 570GT was added to the range at the 2016 Geneva Show and came with significant changes designed to make the car more road-biased and usable everyday. At the heart of the car is the same 562bhp twin-turbo 3.8-litre engine as in the 570S. The new car shares its front end and dihedral doors with the 570S on which it is based, but it gets a new roof and rear end, which features a new upper structure, spoiler and aerodynamic package. But the most significant feature is a glass ‘Touring Deck’. This is, in essence, a side-hinged glass door. The hinges can be on either side of the car, depending on whether it’s right- or left-hand drive, allowing for loading of the ‘boot’ at the kerbside. Opening it gives access to a leather-lined 220-litre luggage space behind the two-seat cabin. Couple this area with the 130-litre space at the front of the car and the 570GT’s total luggage carrying ability is 350 litres, which is more than a Ford Focus hatchback can offer. The space behind the seats is good for medium-sized bags, while the area immediately below the glass deck fits suit bags and laptop bags. The interior has also been tweaked. The basic structure remains the same as that in the 570S, but the materials used are more luxurious, and special Luxury or Sport interior themes will be offered. A tinted panoramic roof, equipped with a noise insulation and solar radiation absorption material, is standard to make the cabin lighter and airier. The more luxurious interior is in keeping with the car’s grand tourer brief, which has also entailed changes to the chassis. The spring rates have been reduced by 15% at the front and 10% at the rear for a softer ride than the 570S offers. The adaptive suspension system is shared with the 570S, however, and the Normal, Sport and Track driving modes remain, although the system and anti-roll bars have been revised to improve the ride over more broken surfaces. The glass hatch is framed in carbonfibre to ensure that the 570GT’s rigidity is as stiff as that in the 570S. The steering ratio of the electrohydraulic system has been reduced by 2% over the 570S, and iron brake discs with aluminium hubs are fitted as standard, replacing the 570S’s carbon-ceramic brakes. The Pirelli P Zero tyres are also of a bespoke compound designed to minimise road noise. The exhaust of the 570GT is taken from the detuned 540C model that sits below the 570S in the range, as it is 3dB quieter than the 570S’s sports exhaust system, although the fruitier pipe remains an option. The alloy wheels have a diameter of 19in at the front and 20in at the rear and are of a unique 15-spoke design. As you’d expect, the 570GT is well appointed. It comes with a full leather cabin, electrically adjustable and heated seats, an electrically adjustable steering column and soft-close dihedral doors. However, the new rear structure means the 570GT is heavier than its 570S sister car; the GT weighs 1350kg dry, compared with the 1313kg of the S. This has had a minuscule impact on performance; the 0-62mph time is 3.4sec (up 0.2sec from the 570S) and the 0-124mph time is 9.8sec (up 0.3sec). Top speed is 204mph, which is the same as the 570S can manage. The gearbox is the same seven-speed dual-clutch automatic unit, driving the rear wheels. Once the Sports Series range is complete, McLaren should be at its annual production target of 4000 cars by 2017, which it will maintain until 2019. It plans to build around 3000 cars this year, two-thirds of which will be in the Sports Series (the 650S range of supercars is the Super Series and the P1 is the Ultimate Series). McLaren expects around one in four Sports Series models to be the GT. At launch, the 570GT was priced at £154,000, just over £10,000 more than the 570S.
There were numerous examples of the 720S here, too. This car – a complete replacement for the 650S – was a star of the 2017 Geneva Show, and it was clear on looking at it, that the Woking firm really is increasingly a serious threat to Ferrari’s supercar supremacy, even before learning that total sales in just five years of production had passed 10,000 units. The 720S was presented as the firm’s new core model and the first of 15 new-generation McLarens, half of which will be hybrids, promised by 2022 under CEO Mike Flewitt’s ambitious Track 22 development plan. The 720S obeys all existing McLaren design rules. It is a two-seat supercar based on an all-carbonfibre tub, with aluminium space frames carrying the front and rear suspension, and it is powered by a twin turbo V8. However, within that envelope, it has been redesigned and updated in every detail. The exterior introduces a new ‘double skin’ door construction that eliminates the need for the prominent side air scoops previously thought essential in supercar design, while the engine grows to 4.0 litres, up from 3.8-litres, and now produces 710bhp. McLaren has further developed its carbonfibre chassis tub and upper structure, taking lessons from previous models, including the P1. Now dubbed Monocage II, the structure is cited as the key to the 720S’s 1283kg dry weight, which undercuts all competitors and beats that of its predecessor by 18kg. Monocage II’s stiffness has allowed McLaren’s designers to give the 720S remarkably thin A-pillars, a deep windscreen, B-pillars set well back and slim, glazed C-pillars, all of which contribute to first-class all-round visibility for the driver. The body panels are made either of carbonfibre or superformed aluminium, and their novel shape plays a key role in the 720S’s impressive aerodynamic performance. Low down at the front there are anti-lift aero blades reminiscent of those on the P1, while ultra-compact LED headlights fit into frontal ‘eye sockets’ that allow room for vents to feed the air conditioning and oil cooler. The body sides incorporate channels, formed by two skins and flowing past the dihedral doors, so cooling air can be directed along the body into the engine bay, uninterrupted by turbulence and resulting in a 15% improvement in cooling airflow. On the outer, lower part of the doors, there are F1-inspired blades that direct air away from the front wheel arches, assisting downforce and cutting drag. A big under-body diffuser at the rear sweeps up from the 720S’s flat floor almost to its rear wing, where the two elements frame the ultra-thin LED tail-lights. Because the top of the 720S’s engine is a remarkable 120mm lower than that of the 650S, the car also has a low, teardrop-shaped engine cover that allows an uninterrupted flow of air over the roof to the hydraulically actuated rear wing, which has a DRS drag reduction setting for optimal straight-line performance, an Aero setting for downforce in corners and a Brake setting (which sets the wing a steep 56deg from the horizontal) to increase drag and improve chassis balance under heavy braking. The result, says McLaren, is that the wing has 30% more downforce and its aero efficiency (the ratio of downforce to drag) is doubled. McLaren claims “new heights of performance” from its expanded turbo V8, now re-engineered for a capacity of 3994cc, thanks to a 3.6mm lengthening of its stroke. The engine also has lighter pistons and conrods and a stiffer, lightened crank, plus twin-scroll turbochargers with faster-spooling turbines, capable of spinning at 145,000rpm, and electronically controlled wastegates. In total, 41% of the engine’s components are new. A cast aluminium air intake system, visible through the mesh engine cover, feeds extra air to the more potent engine that now uses two injectors per cylinder. But rather than simply pumping in more fuel, the improved injection system gives more accurate metering, which helps to cut CO2 emissions by around 10%, to a class-leading 249g/km. Combined economy falls by a similar percentage to 26.4mpg. The 720S’s peak output of 710bhp is produced at 7000rpm, while maximum torque of 568lb ft is delivered at 5500rpm. The engine, longitudinally mounted behind the occupants, drives as before through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox mounted end-on to the engine, but McLaren says further refinement of its control software brings smoother gearchanges at low speeds and faster, sharper shifts at higher speeds. The launch control has also been improved, and as before, there are three driving modes — Comfort, Sport and Track — that govern both engine and dynamics. The chassis weight savings, allied to other reductions in mass, including 2kg from the brakes, 3kg from the electrics and 1.5kg from the airboxes, contribute as much to the 720S’s enhanced performance as its 11% power increase. The power-to-weight ratio is now 553bhp per tonne (up 15%) and, according to McLaren, beats the best in the segment. As a result, McLaren claims a “crushing” 0-60mph time of just 2.8sec, 0-124mph in 7.8sec and a top speed of 212mph. The 720S will also dispatch a standing quarter-mile in 10.3sec, representing a blistering performance for a pure road car. To accompany the performance, the 720S has a carefully engineered engine note which can be further enhanced with an optional, louder, sports exhaust system. Despite its performance potential, McLaren is adamant that its new car is as easily handled by ordinary drivers as it is by experts, with throttle response calibrated to provide “the optimum blend of immediate reaction and progressive comfort”. Although only five years old, McLaren’s all-independent system of front and rear double wishbones has been completely re-engineered, both to allow wheel geometry changes and, thanks to a redesign of the uprights and wishbones, to cut unsprung mass by 16kg. The 720S has an updated version of the Proactive chassis control electronics used by the 650S. The system features hydraulically interlinked dampers at each corner that remove the need for anti-roll bars, but the big improvement for the 720S’s system, which is dubbed PCCII, results from new software developed during a six-year collaboration with the University of Cambridge and using sophisticated information gathered by 12 new sensors and accelerometers. The result is even better contact between the tyres and the road surface. The system can assess conditions and adjust the suspension every five milliseconds. It also includes a Variable Drift function, which allows you to slide the car without losing control, and McLaren Brake Steer, pioneered in F1, which enhances agility in corners and traction out of them by braking separate wheels. McLaren engineers have retained electro-hydraulic steering for the 720S, despite rivals’ adoption of electric only systems, because they still feel it gives superior “clarity of feel”. Brakes are large, ventilated carbon-ceramic discs and the tyres are specially developed Pirelli P Zeros, 245/35 ZR19s at the front (up from the 650S’s 235s) and 305/30 ZR20s at the rear. McLaren claims a 6% increase in mechanical grip, which is about the same advantage as fitting track-focused Pirelli Corsas to a 650S. Although the 720S closely follows the outgoing 650S in its major dimensions, there are differences between them. The thin pillars, the depth of the windscreen and the all-round glass give a commanding view to all points that modern supercar drivers will find surprising. The redesigned interior surfaces have been ‘pushed away’ from the occupants as much as possible, to further enhance the feeling of space. Unlock the door and various instrument and courtesy lights go through a welcome sequence as the mirrors unfold. Opening the door also triggers an elaborate sequence on the upright TFT screen which changes its configuration according to driving mode. The driver can also ‘declutter’ the instruments, for example when on a track, via a special Slim mode. There’s a central 8.0in infotainment screen on the centre console, with ventilation settings carried along the bottom. The layout of switches, most of which are machined from aluminium, is simple. Standard cabin trim and seats are plush but, as with previous models, colour and trim material upgrades are available. McLaren has already begun taking orders, with the first cars due to be delivered in May. The entry price in the UK was £207,900. All 400 units of the Launch Edition version were sold even before the general pubic saw the car though many of these then hit the pre-owned market quite quickly, traded in once owners could take delivery of a car in the spec that they really wanted. McLaren’s goal is to sell around 1200 – 1500 720S models a year.
The hypercar display included a P1, and there were huge crowds which quickly formed around it when the car was started up.
It was only late in the afternoon when I came across the first Mercedes model of the day. an AMG GT Roadster, the open-topped version of the current top of the AMG range. It was not long before I then came across an example of the Coupe version as well.
Unless you go back to the 1930s. when MG made a few high performance cars which had racing more in mind than road use, the only model to get anywhere supercar status that bears the famous roundel is the SV, and there was one of these in the Great Court display. This car came about after MG-Rover acquired Qvale of Italy. Taking the Qvale Mangusta as a base, a car which had been designed, but not quite made production, MG Rover allocated the project code X80 and set up a subsidiary company, MG X80 Ltd., to produce their new model. A big factor behind the project was that was seen as having the potential sales in the United States, as the Mangusta had already been homologated for the American market. The MG X80 was originally revealed as a concept car in 2001. However, the styling was considered too sedate, so when the production model, now renamed MG XPower SV, was eventually launched the following year, designer Peter Stevens had made the car’s styling more aggressive. The conversion from a clay model to a production car, including all requirements, was done in just 300 days by the Swedish company Caran. The production process was complex, partly caused by the use of carbon fibre to make the body panels. The basic body parts were made in the UK by SP Systems and then shipped to Belco Avia near Turin for assembly into body panels. These were then assembled into a complete body shell and fitted onto the box frame chassis and running gear and shipped to MG Rover’s Longbridge factory to be trimmed and finished. Several of the cars’ exterior and interior parts were borrowed from current and past Fiat models. The headlights, for example, were taken from a Punto Mk.2 and the rear lights borrowed from a Fiat Coupe. The goal had been to get a street price of under £100,000, and on launch, the base model came in well under that at £65,000, and even the uprated XPower SV-R model was priced at £83,000. Those were ambitious prices for a car bearing MG badges, though, so not surprisingly, sales were slow. It is understood that just 82 cars were produced excluding the 4 ‘XP’ pre-production prototypes. This included a few pre-production and show cars which were later dismantled, before production was stopped due to lack of sales. Most were sold to private owners, with the final ones being sold to customers in early 2008.
2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the Plus 8 and to celebrate this half century, earlier in the year, Morgan presented the Morgan Plus 8 50th Anniversary Edition, and one of those was here. Peter Morgan and company first unveiled the Plus 8 prototype at the Earls Court Motor Show in London back in 1968. Some 6,000 units were built before the Rover V8 that powered it was discontinued in 2004, the Plus 8 dying along with it. The model was revived in 2012 on the aluminium chassis of the Aero 8, sharing its 4.8-litre BMW V8, but clothed in more old-fashioned bodywork than its more streamlined counterpart. With a weight of just 1,100 kilograms (2,425 pounds), it’ could run to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 4.5 seconds and top out at 155 mph (250 km/h). With that naturally aspirated engine now out of production, the Plus 8 and Aero 8 will be the last models to use it. In the end, just 50 examples of the anniversary special will be made, done up in a lacquered blue finish reminiscent of the first Plus 8 built, with yellow accents on the grille, bonnet, and rear tow eyes.
Launched in 2010, the Aero Supersports was essentially a targa roofed version of the stunning limited edition AeroMax that had amazed everyone a few years earlier. with the two cars sharing the same bonded aluminium chassis and lower bodywork. Like the AeroMax, it was designed by Matt Humphries. He produced the Aeromax, while he was still a design student at Coventry, but once he graduated he was appointed as Morgan’s first head of design and the Supersports was his first major project for the company. There is no doubting the success of the design. Undeniably a Morgan, but with a modern twist, this car can steal the attention away from just about any other car on the road, and the ability to turn heads continues when it is fired up (sadly not something we experienced on this occasion) with the noise that emanates from the side-exit exhaust system, generated by the bassy V8 soundtrack of the 367 bhp 4.8 litre BMW engine that is to be found under the bonnet. It has a bonded aluminium chassis and ‘superformed’ alloy body panels. Weighing just 1180kg, performance is on par with most supercars, despite what the looks might suggest. With a ZF six-speed gearbox, a 0-62 of 4.5sec is possible, as is an official figure of 23mpg. Modern Morgans have their dynamics underpinned by the company’s extensive – and successful – experience in GT racing; one of the Supersports roles was actually to homologate a more aerodynamically efficient body shape to help the competition effort. With this car, Morgan has pulled off a trick that many, far larger, organizations have failed at – successfully moving their brand up market. When the Aero 8 launched, it was £5000 less than the cheapest Porsche 911, but the Supersports had a price tag to match a Bentley Continental GT or Aston Martin. And Morgan had no trouble in selling every car that they could make.
The only other Japanese cars here barring the Honda NS-X models were a couple of somewhat modified Skyline GT-R cars, of which this V-Spec R33 is the one that my camera recorded. Like its predecessor, the GT-R was the most extreme version of a range of Skyline cars, which in R33 guise were launched in 1993 and would go on to be produced for 6 years. The previous R32 model was a well proven build but the R32 wasn’t without faults and suffered with uplift and balance issues. Along with that, Nissan was as other Japanese companies were under strict restrictions on power gains. So Nissan had to combat all these areas so the sophisticated strength Programme was made. Nissan increased the width by about one inch on the R33 to the R32 and made it about 4 inches longer. This gave the R33 a longer wheelbase overall and lower stance mixed with new technology now from the computer aerodynamic age. Each line on the R33 was intended to give the car ultimate aerodynamics with wider gaps in the bumper and angles of air movement which allowed better cooling, in addition to the fuel tank lifted; the battery moved to the boot/trunk. Rigidity points were added mixed with improvements on the Attessa and Hicas all now offered the R33 with the best aerodynamics, balance, and handling. Nissan engineers also found other ways to reduce weight, even by a few grams. This includes: Hollowing out the side door beams. Using high tensile steel on body panels. Reduction in sound deadening materials. Super HICAS becoming electric. Hollowing out of rear stabiliser bar. Use of high tensile springs front and rear. Shrinking the ABS actuator. Light aluminium wheels with higher rigidity The front and rear axles were made of aluminium (as in the BNR32) but also so were engine mount insulators and brackets New plastics were used for : fuel tank, head lamps, super high strength “PP” bumpers, air cleaner, changing the headlining material, changing material of rear spoiler. All this put together meant we saw an improved time against the R32 of 21 seconds faster around the Nurburgring and 23 seconds faster in V spec trim. Still making the R33 the fastest skyline around the Nurburgring. The BCNR33 GT-R version also had the same RB26DETT engine that the BNR32 was equipped with, although torque had been improved, due to changes in the turbo compressor aerodynamics, turbo dump pipe, and intercooler. The turbo core changed from a sleeve bearing to a ball bearing, but the turbine itself remained ceramic, except on N1 turbos (steel turbine, sleeve bearing). From the R33 onward, all GT-Rs received Brembo brakes. In 1995 the GT-R received an improved version of the RB26DETT, the ATTESA-ETS four-wheel-drive system, and Super HICAS 4-wheel steering. A limited edition model was created in 1996, called the NISMO 400R, that produced 400 hp from a road-tuned version of Nissan’s Le Mans engine. A stronger six-speed Getrag gearbox was used. An R33 GT-R driven by Dirk Schoysman lapped the Nordschleife in less than 8 minutes. The Skyline GT-R R33 is reported to be the first production car to break 8 minutes, at 7 minutes and 59 seconds. Other manufacturers had caught up since the R32 was released, and the R33 never dominated motorsport to the extent of the R32. The R33 saw victory in the JGTC GT500 dominating the class and taking victory each year until its final racing year in which it was finally beaten by the Mclaren F1 GTR. The R33 saw huge favour in the tuning world with it being a popular model on the Wangan and top tuning companies building heavily tuned version from Top Secret ran by Smokey Nagata to Jun etc. and later by companies like Sumo. HKS GT-R would hold a drag series record for several years in there drag series making a record win of 7.671-second pass at Sendai Hi-Land Raceway with Tetsuya Kawasaki behind the wheel and taking it to be the World’s fastest AWD car.
Noble first showed the M600 model in 2010. Intended to be a true rival to the likes of Ferrari, the M600 was a big jump up in terms of price from previous Nobles. It has a Volvo twin-turbocharged V8 engine producing 650 bhp, a carbon fibre body shell, and a 6-speed gear box, made by Yamaha, pitting itself directly against the V8 engined Ferrari models. This 2,800-pound (1,300 kg) M600 can accelerate from 0–100 km/h in 3.5 seconds and requires only another 4 seconds to achieve 100 mph (160 km/h). It has over 1G of grip on the skid pad. The brake discs in the Noble M600 are steel. The Noble comes with no ABS or ASM and TC all these features being optional. The car was received to some very positive reviews, impressing all who drove it. As you so rarely see one, there was much intrigue as to how many were actually being built. Noble had said that there would be no more than 50 a year, but it was strongly suspected that only a handful had ever been made. There was something of a surprise when an open-topped version appeared at the Geneva Show earlier this year, with no warning, and very little was said about it, even though it starred on the stand there. And there was one here, in a different colour to that show car.
There were two Pagani models here, both in the Great Court display, and between them they showed the two basic designs which have come out of this Modonese hypercar manufacturer, the Zonda and the Huayra.
2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of Porsche, and there have been numerous events during the year to celebrate this fact. Clearly the Porsche Owners Club and the event organisers here were not going to miss out, and so one of the features of the event was a massed gathering of Porsche models. A significant area of the main supercar display area, facing the Great Court and then most of the west area of the lawns adjacent to the house was given over to models from the popular Stuttgart marque. It was a colourful and varied display, with examples of most of the different model types that have emerged from the Zuffenhausen works during those 70 years represented, though there was an inevitable bias towards more recent products. I tried to be selective in picking the cars to photograph and present here, looking as much for variety and some of the less commonly seen models rather than trying to cover off everything that was on show, as that would have been a bit overwhelming.
Oldest model type here was the 356, though there were – slightly surprisingly – only a couple of them on show. Oldest of the Porsche models on display were a number of 356s, the car created by Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche (son of Dr. Ing. Ferdinand Porsche, founder of the German company), who founded the Austrian company with his sister, Louise. Like its cousin, the Volkswagen Beetle (which Ferdinand Porsche Senior had designed), the 356 was a four-cylinder, air-cooled, rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive car utilising unitised pan and body construction. The chassis was a completely new design as was the 356’s body which was designed by Porsche employee Erwin Komenda, while certain mechanical components including the engine case and some suspension components were based on and initially sourced from Volkswagen. Ferry Porsche described the thinking behind the development of the 356 in an interview with the editor of Panorama, the PCA magazine, in September 1972. “….I had always driven very speedy cars. I had an Alfa Romeo, also a BMW and others. By the end of the war I had a Volkswagen Cabriolet with a supercharged engine and that was the basic idea. I saw that if you had enough power in a small car it is nicer to drive than if you have a big car which is also overpowered. And it is more fun. On this basic idea we started the first Porsche prototype. To make the car lighter, to have an engine with more horsepower…that was the first two seater that we built in Carinthia (Gmünd)”. The first 356 was road certified in Austria on June 8, 1948, and was entered in a race in Innsbruck where it won its class. Porsche re-engineered and refined the car with a focus on performance. Fewer and fewer parts were shared between Volkswagen and Porsche as the ’50’s progressed. The early 356 automobile bodies produced at Gmünd were handcrafted in aluminium, but when production moved to Zuffenhausen, Germany in 1950, models produced there were steel-bodied. Looking back, the aluminium bodied cars from that very small company are what we now would refer to as prototypes. Porsche contracted with Reutter to build the steel bodies and eventually bought the Reutter company in 1963. The Reutter company retained the seat manufacturing part of the business and changed its name to Recaro. Little noticed at its inception, mostly by a small number of auto racing enthusiasts, the first 356s sold primarily in Austria and Germany. It took Porsche two years, starting with the first prototype in 1948, to manufacture the first 50 automobiles. By the early 1950s the 356 had gained some renown among enthusiasts on both sides of the Atlantic for its aerodynamics, handling, and excellent build quality. The class win at Le Mans in 1951 was clearly a factor. It was always common for owners to race the car as well as drive them on the streets. They introduced the four-cam racing “Carrera” engine, a totally new design and unique to Porsche sports cars, in late 1954. Increasing success with its racing and road cars brought Porsche orders for over 10,000 units in 1964, and by the time 356 production ended in 1965 approximately 76,000 had been produced. The 356 was built in four distinct series, the original (“pre-A”), followed by the 356 A, 356 B, and then finally the 356 C. To distinguish among the major revisions of the model, 356’s are generally classified into a few major groups. 356 coupés and “cabriolets” (soft-top) built through 1955 are readily identifiable by their split (1948 to 1952) or bent (centre-creased, 1953 to 1955) windscreens. In late 1955 the 356 A appeared, with a curved windshield. The A was the first road going Porsche to offer the Carrera 4 cam engine as an option. In late 1959 the T5 356 B appeared; followed by the redesigned T6 series 356 B in 1962. The final version was the 356 C, little changed from the late T6 B cars but with disc brakes to replace the drums.
There were surprisingly few examples of the front-engined cars from the late 1970s and 1980s here. The only on that features in my photos is a 944 Turbo. 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.
There were vast numbers of 911 models here, providing a comprehensive illustration of the evolution of this long-lived model, from the first cars of 1963 right up to the very latest cars. A representative selection of them, mostly the “special” cars, such as the RS models were grouped together in the display in the Great Court, and there were lots of other examples in the Owners Club parking area.
Early cars were well represented, and there were a number of the cars from the 1970s and 1980s, which showed a clear but steady evolution from the early, small-looking cars.
It was only really with the launch in 1989 of the 964 that a truly “new” model would appear. Designed by Benjamin Dimson in 1986, it featured significant styling revisions over previous 911 models, most prominently the more integrated bumpers. The 964 was considered to be 85% new as compared to its predecessor. The first 964s available in 1989 were all wheel drive equipped “Carrera 4” models; Porsche added the rear wheel drive Carrera 2 variant to the range in 1990. Both variants were available as a coupe, Targa or Cabriolet. The 964 Carrera was the last generation sold with the traditional removable Targa roof until the 2011 991. A new naturally aspirated engine called the M64 was used for 964 models, with a flat-6 displacement of 3.6 litres. Porsche substantially revised the suspension, replacing torsion bars with coil springs and shock absorbers. Power steering and ABS brakes were added to the 911 for the first time; both were standard. The exterior bumpers and fog lamps became flush with the car for better aerodynamics. A new electric rear spoiler raised at speeds above 50 mph and lowered down flush with the rear engine lid at lower speeds. A revised interior featured standard dual airbags beginning in 1990 for all North American production cars. A new automatic climate control system provided improved heating and cooling. Revised instrumentation housed a large set of warning lights that were tied into the car’s central warning system, alerting the driver to a possible problem or malfunction. The 964 was sold until 1993 when its place was taken by the 993. 62,172 were built. The car was not particularly well regarded by enthusiasts, with most preferring its predecessor or successor, but latterly, it has found greater favour and values are firming.
There were plenty of more recent models, too: the 993, 996, 997 and current 991 generation all much in evidence. Among them were several of the GT3 and RS cars.
From the current 991 generation of cars were a number of special models, including the 911R, the latest 911 GT2 RS and the 911T
The smaller Boxster was well represented. All three generations of the car were here, and there were a number of the rarer models such as the Spyder among those parked up.
The closed version, the Cayman, was also here in some quantity. Among them were a couple of the equally highly acclaimed Cayman GT4. Much rumoured for some time, the Cayman GT4 was officially launched at the 2015 Geneva Show, positioned to sit between the Cayman GTS and the 911 GT3. By the time of the official unveiling, the car was supposedly sold out many times over, though more recently it has become apparent that at least some Porsche dealers have been holding onto cars claiming that the first purchaser changed their mind, and then offering them to those who did not get one of the allocation a year ago, at vastly inflated prices. If true, this is very sharp practice indeed, but seems to be the sort to tricks that are becoming increasingly common as enthusiasts are being fleeced in the name of extra profit. For a starting price of around £65,000 in the UK, the lucky customer would get a car which used used a stiffened and strengthened Cayman bodyshell as a starting point, but lowered by 30mm . Porsche say that in fitting as many GT parts as possible, they did not make it out of a Cayman GTS, but rather they produced an entry-level mid-engined GT3 car. That sounds like PR spin to me, as of course the car does use an awful lot of parts from the regular Cayman. However, plenty is changed, too. There is a reworked version of the Carrera S’s 3.8-litre flat six engine, producing 380bhp at 7400rpm and 310lb ft at 4750-6000rpm, hooked up to a modified version of the Cayman GTS’s six-speed manual gearbox. A PDK dual-clutch automatic was considered but rejected, meaning the Cayman GT4 is manual only. This is enough to mean that the 0-62mph sprint takes 4.4sec and the top speed is 183mph, with combined fuel economy of 27.4mpg and CO2 emissions rated at 238g/km. The front axle and suspension are borrowed from the 911 GT3 and the rear axle and forged aluminium double wishbone suspension are completely new. Dampers are taken from the 911 GT3. The electric steering system from the 911 GT3 does make it onto the Cayman GT4 but is given new software. Stopping power is provided by standard steel brakes, or optional carbon-ceramics from the 911 GT3. The forged 20in alloy wheels were new and are shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. The rear 295/30 ZR20 tyres are bespoke, but the front 245/35 ZR20s were borrowed from the 911 GT3 as they were “a perfect match”. design-wise, the goal was to create a “zero lift car”, but thanks to the extensive aerodynamic and cooling package on the car – which includes a front splitter, a larger front grille and increased frontal air intakes, side air intakes, not one but two rear spoilers and a fully functional diffuser – the Cayman GT4 produces as much downforce at speed (100kg) as the 911 GT3. Every single part on the Cayman GT4 has a functional use. Other design features include “cool” black glass on the front and rear lights, blackened twin central exhausts and quality stitching on the twin lightweight bucket seats, taken from the 918 Spyder, as small details adding to that ‘want factor’.Despite all the extra equipment, the Cayman GT4 weighs no more than a Cayman GTS, tipping the scales at 1340kg dry. You could delete items such as the sat-nav and air-con to save weight, but few customers did, just as with the 911 GT3 RS were just 2% of buyers deleted the air-con. Inside, the steering wheel was new. The sports seats were trimmed in both leather and Alcantara. Standard equipment included bi-xenon headlights, a sports exhaust system, a Sport Chrono Package with dynamic engine mounts, the Porsche Torque Vectoring system, a mechanical limited-slip differential at the rear and the Porsche Stability Management system. On the options list were items such as carbonfibre-reinforced, plastic-backed seats for the two-seat interior. These weigh just 15kg each and were inspired by the 918 Spyder. A customised version of the Sport Chrono Package was offered, as is a Club Sport Package. Initially, it was declared that production would be very limited, with each Porsche Centre in the UK being allocated just 10 cars, but demand was such that Porsche relented and produced rather more cars than initially declared. And given the excellence of the car, no-one complained about this, as it simply allowed more people to get to enjoy it, as an owner.
From the current range was an example of the Panamera Sport Turismo, a model which joined the second generation Panamera saloon (hatch) at the end of 2017.
As well as all the 911s, also included in the special display in the Great Court was an example of the Carrera GT. The development of this car can be traced back to the 911 GT1 and LMP1-98 racing cars of the late 1990s, the career of both which had ended in 1998 not least due to FIA and ACO rule changes in 1998. Porsche had been planning a new Le Mans prototype for 1999, with the car initially intended to use a turbocharged flat-6, but later redesigned to use a new V10 engine, pushing the project back to planned completion in 2000. The V10 was a unit secretly built by Porsche for the Footwork Formula One team in 1992, but later shelved. The engine was resurrected for the Le Mans prototype and increased in size to 5.7 litres. The project was cancelled after two days of testing of the first car, in mid-1999, mostly due to Porsche’s wish to build the Cayenne SUV with involvement from Volkswagen and Audi, thus requiring engineering expertise to be pulled from the motorsports division. It was also speculated that VW-Audi chairman Ferdinand Piëch wanted Audi’s new Le Mans Prototype, the Audi R8 not to face competition from Porsche in 2004. However, Porsche did keep part of the project alive by using the 5.5 litre V10 from the prototype in a concept car shown at the 2000 Paris Motor Show, mainly in an attempt to draw attention to their display. Surprising interest in the vehicle and an influx of revenue provided from the Cayenne helped Porsche decide to produce the car, and development started on a road-legal version that would be produced in small numbers at Porsche’s new manufacturing facility in Leipzig. Porsche started a production run of Carrera GTs in 2004. Originally a production run of 1,500 cars was planned. However, Porsche announced in August 2005 that it would not continue production of the Carrera GT through to 2006, citing discontinuation was due to changing airbag regulations in the United States. By the end of production on May 6, 2006, more than 1,270 GTs had been sold, with at least 604 of those being in North America.
Also in this part of the display was the 918 Spyder, Porsche’s most recent hypercar.
The first customer versions of the much acclaimed A110 are just start to reach their lucky owners. These are people who put down a deposit and got their name in the queue many months ago. The staff on the stand here, which featured a couple of examples of the car, did say that were you to decide you wanted one now, you would probably have a wait of at least 18 months. It really does seem as if everything came together to produce an absolutely stonking car here, far better, probably than anyone expected.
The dealer display in the heart of the event here was my first chance to see the new Cullinan in person. I was not entirely convinced from the pictures I had seen, and I have to say that the real thing does little to make it appeal any more. But there is clearly a significant and growing market for cars of this type as Bentley have proved, so no-one can blame Rolls-Royce for coming up with their market entrant. This one is bigger, and going to be even more costly than the Bentayga, and it is even more, erm, “imposing”. Customer deliveries start around the turn of the year.
Also on show was the latest Phantom VIII, a very stately machine indeed, and one that is much easier to distinguish from its predecessor than you might have thought when the first photos appeared at its launch in mid 2017. Joining it was the open-topped Dawn.
Among the every first cars that anyone would come to as they walked up the long drive towards the house were a trio of demo Rolls Royce cars, which seemed to be constantly heading in and out of the event, as prospective owners were given the opportunity for a short run out in the car. These were the remainder of the range that had been seen in the midst of the event, and comprised the Ghost, Dawn and Wraith.
This is a P1 version of the first generation Impreza. To counter the grey imports of high-performance Japanese variants, Subaru UK commissioned Prodrive to produce a limited edition of 1,000 two-door cars in Sonic Blue, called the WRX “P1”. Released in March 2000, they were taken from the STI Type R lines and used for the P1. The car was the only coupé version of the WRX STI GC chassis to receive ABS. In order to allow for ABS, the DCCD was dropped. Engine output was boosted to 276 bhp, and the suspension optimised for British roads. Options were available from Subaru consisting of four-piston front brake calipers, electric Recaro seats, 18-inch wheels and a P1 stamped backbox. The P1, or Prodrive One, is echoed in the name of the Prodrive P2 concept car. They are among the most sought after of all Subaru Impreza models now.
The Griffith was the first of the modern generation TVRs. First seen as a concept at the 1990 British Motor Show, it wowed the crowds sufficiently that unlike the Show Cars of precediing years, may of which were never seen again, Peter Wheeler and his small team in Blackpool immediately set about preparing it for production. It took until mid 1992 before they were ready. Like its forerunner namesakes, the Griffith 200 and Griffith 400, the modern Griffith was a lightweight (1048 kg) fibreglass-bodied, 2-door, 2-seat sports car with a V8 engine. Originally, it used a 4.0 litre 240 hp Rover V8 engine, but that could be optionally increased to a 4.3 litre 280 hp unit, with a further option of big-valve cylinder heads. In 1993, a TVR-developed 5.0 litre 340 hp version of the Rover V8 became available. All versions of the Griffith used the Lucas 14CUX engine management system and had a five-speed manual transmission. The car spawned a cheaper, and bigger-selling relative, the Chimaera, which was launched in 1993. 602 were sold in the first year and then around 250 cars a year were bought throughout the 90s, but demand started to wane, so iIn 2000, TVR announced that the Griffith production was going to end. A limited edition run of 100 Special Edition (SE) cars were built to mark the end of production. Although still very similar to the previous Griffith 500 model, the SE had a hybrid interior using the Chimaera dashboard and Cerbera seats. Noticeably, the rear lights were different along with different door mirrors, higher powered headlights and clear indicator lenses. Some also came with 16-inch wheels. Each car came with a numbered plaque in the glove box including the build number and a Special Edition Badge on its boot. All cars also had a unique signature in the boot under the carpet. The SEs were built between 2000 and 2002, with the last registered in 2003. A register of the last 100 SEs can be found at TVR Griffith 500 SE Register. These days, the Griffith remains a much loved classic and to celebrate the car, the owners have a meet called “The Griff Growl.”
Just as numerous at the event 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.
The Tuscan was launched in 2000, by which time there had been a series of what we think of as the modern era TVRs produced for nearly a decade, the Cerbera, Griffith and Cerbera. The Tuscan did not replace any of them, but was intended to help with the company’s ambitious push further up market to become a sort of Blackpool-built alternative to Ferrari. It did not lack the styling for the task, and unlike the preceding models with their Rover V8 engines, the new car came with TVR’s own engine, a straight six unit of 3.6 litre capacity putting out 360 bhp. The Tuscan was intended to be the grand tourer of the range, perfectly practical for everyday use, though with only two seats, no ABS, no airbags and no traction control, it was a tough sell on wet days in a more safety conscious world, but at least there was a removable targa top roof panel for those days when the sun came out. The car may have lacked the rumble of a V8, but when pushed hard, the sound track from the engine was still pretty special, and the car was faster than the Cerbera, but sadly, the car proved less than reliable, which really started to harm TVR’s reputation, something which would ultimately prove to be its undoing.
Taking its name from the Greek name of a lightweight battle-axe used by the Scythians which was feared for its ability to penetrate the armour of their enemies, the final TVR model to be seen here was a Sagaris, a car which made its debut at the MPH03 Auto Show in 2003. The pre-production model was then shown at the 2004 Birmingham Motorshow. In 2005 the production model was released for public sale at TVR dealerships around the world. Based on the TVR T350, the Sagaris was designed with endurance racing in mind. Several design features of the production model lend themselves to TVR’s intentions to use the car for such racing. The multitude of air vents, intake openings and other features on the bodywork allow the car to be driven for extended periods of time on race tracks with no modifications required for cooling and ventilation. The final production model came with several variations from the pre-production show models such as the vents on the wings not being cut out, different wing mirrors, location of the fuel filler and bonnet hinges. As with all modern TVRs the Sagaris ignored the European Union guideline that all new cars should be fitted with ABS and at least front airbags because Peter Wheeler believed that such devices promote overconfidence and risk the life of a driver in the event of a rollover, which TVRs are engineered to resist. It also eschewed electronic driver’s aids (such as traction control or electronic stability control). In 2008, TVR unveiled the Sagaris 2, which was designed to replace the original Sagaris. In the prototype revealed, there were minor changes to the car including a revised rear fascia and exhaust system, and modifications to the interior. Sagaris models. on the rare occasions that they come up for sale, are pricey.
Something rather different from everything else presented thus far, but it was in among the supercars, was this Volvo 122S. 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.
AND FINALLY……. in the CAR PARK
I am sure there would have been plenty of interesting cars in the carpark during the day. When I arrived, I simply headed to the ticket entry point, without exploring what was parked up, as I was already later than I had planned to be, and by the time I was ready to leave, the vast majority of the public car park was clear, as most people seemed to have decided that around three or hours were sufficient and they had gone before me. So only three cars caught my eye, and they were these.
Every report needs an Abarth in it, and I came across this 595 – with a plate on it that I do not recognise, so I don’t know the owner – parked nearer to the entry point than I was, suggesting it had been there even longer than I had. There was also a rather nice Maserati GranTurismo which caught my attention.
And then there was this! As I got back to my car, I could see this rather unusuaI looking machine only a few feet away. I confess I had no idea as to what it might be, but Google really is your friend, so once I had looked up the plate, and then done some more digging, which told me that had this is an MEV Exocet, and it was only registered in July 2018. It is, of course a kit car. MEV is the abbreviated name of Mills Extreme Vehicles, a kit car design and manufacturing company based in Mansfield, UK. It was founded in 2003 by Stuart Mills. As of January, 2016 they manufacture this model, the Exocet and the Replicar, the former an exoskeletal design, the latter a full body design inspired by the Aston Martin DBR1 of the late 1950s. Both cars use the Mazda MX5 Mk1 sports car as their foundation. They also produce an enhanced version of the Exocet, the MX150R which currently runs in a UK race series regulated by the 750 Motor Club and the MSA. Stuart Mills has designed over 20 vehicles ranging from electric commuter trikes to off-road 4x4s, some of which have been commission builds and designs for external manufacture or technological educational purposes, others have been in-house or licensed manufacture. This car, the Exocet is based on an old Mazda MX5, which was selected because of the plentiful supply of donor cars and because it is the world’s best-selling sports car for a good reason, largely down to the fact that in the form in which Mazda built it, it provides great handling, a bullet proof power plant with many options for upgrades, short shift gearbox, and most important of all, it offered the capability, through the retention of its sub frames and suspension, for MEV’s bespoke tubular chassis to be bolted directly onto them. The only thing wrong with an MX5, according to the Exocet’s creator is that they are about 50% heavier than this creation! The Exocet was designed and built to replace the Rocket kit car but with the requirement that to be much easier and cheaper to build. Builders don’t have the daunting task of removing an engine and all the associated parts, or having to use alternative suspension components, as these all stay in situ. The builder is merely removing the MX5 monocoque and replacing it with the G-type Exocet chassis. This new approach to kit car building provides a quick, modern, lightweight car based on the ubiquitous MX5. As such, MEV claim that the Exocet is the lowest cost, easiest to build and fastest selling kit car in the world. It shows off its exoskeleton chassis and minimalist grp panels, it’s a real head turner, a blast to drive, and has a massively improved power to weight ratio. Both NA and NB Series 1.6 or 1.8 litre MX5s can be used as donors, and many of these have now reached the stage of MOT failures, as the sills have rotted That’s not a problem here, as they are not required. There is an added bonus in the the use of the MX5, as there is significant demand for parts that are not needed, such as the doors, boot lid, bonnet, wings, wing mirrors, rear light clusters, soft top, which, the maker claims means that builders ought to be able to finish up with a free donor once they have sold a few spares from the donor. There are a huge range of upgrades available on the market to tune the car. Anything from a set of track brake pads to a full blown supercharged kit to boost the 1.8 engine to 250 bhp, though one UK owner is known to have gone all the way to 430 bhp! All MX5’s have front and rear adjustable tracking and camber so you can tune the handling to suit the road or the track. You can also fit aftermarket shock absorbers with adjustable damping and a choice of spring rates and limited slip diffs are available. The kit comes with a bespoke chassis, alloy floor, front bulkhead panels and front centre tunnel (rear centre tunnel is part of the chassis), PVC side panels and rear bulkheads, grp panels, brake pipe, p clips, edge trim, bolts, washers and nuts, to secure chassis to sub frames, and rivets for floor. Even self tap screws are included! The parts retained from the donor car, married together with the Exocet kit will give you everything you need to build your kit except for the lighting set. This means you retain the sub frames, engine, radiator, fuel tank, all the suspension components, steering rack, steering column, brakes, transmission, exhaust system, wiring loom and engine management system, instrument binnacle, gear shift, handbrake and cables, seats and wheels (unless you choose grp ones or buy upgraded wheels). Unlike some cars of this type, there is plenty of room in it, Standard cars can accommodate drivers from 5’ to 6’3” and there is generous width for larger bodied drivers too! The Exocet was actually first shown at the Newark Kit Car show in 2010, and the kits are now made not just in the UK, but under licence in New Zealand and more recently in Australia. There is, apparently, an active Owners Club.
Although this event was an extension of Salon Privé, it most definitely was not Salon Privé, and given the massive price difference in tickets for the two, I should not have been surprised. This was “simply” a supercar event, with a lot of them present, including some of the most potent and rarest of modern hypercars. And that meant that it drew the crowds. Large numbers of them. By the time I arrived – around 15 minutes after the gates officially opened, thanks to an unannounced road closure on the A420 which caused a lengthy diversion, the event was packed out. Whilst there were lots of cars to see, the number of people trying to see it all suggested the photographer in me was in for a day of huge frustration, despite the fantastic weather (itself probably a contributor to the crowds). Although some of the owners did start to take their cars away by around lunchtime, a lot of the general public started to depart ten, too, so the fact that there are 400 photos in this report shows that the photographer’s initial apprehensions turned out to be somewhat mis-placed. There was certainly plenty to see, and if supercars and hypercars are your thing, this is probably as good a collection of almost every model as you are going to find in the UK, so on that basis, this has to rate as a good event. Just don’t expect it to feel like it has any connection to Salon Prove, as on this evidence, it really does not.