I first head about Caffeine and Machine around the start of the year. Suddenly this venue started to appear in Facebook posts of many of my car friends. Of course I had to investigate. It turned out that the venue had only opened towards the end of October, but within a few short weeks at the least car-meet friendly time of the year, it had quickly established quite a reputation and had become very popular. SO popular, I found out that having extended the car park a couple of times, a pre-booking parking system had to be introduced. When you think about it, the concept was pretty simple. Take what had been a rather derelict pub complex, spend the money to restore the buildings and create a venue that appeals for those who want a drink and or a bite to eat, and then increase the appeal by creating a couple of meeting rooms and places where people could meet up in advance of wanting anything more than a morning coffee and you’ve got somewhere which will draw in the customers. Now add in the passion of the owner. Phil McGovern, for things automotive, and add in some car-related content in some of the rooms, and go out and advertise yourself as being the perfect place for car and bike enthusiasts to meet, and, well, social media quickly made this THE place for car and bike enthusiasts to gather. Its central location, a few miles south east of Stratford on Avon, helps, but as word got out, then it became apparent that people were travelling quite long distances just to come and see what it was all about. And the answer is that this car-friendly venue attracts a wide range of clientele ranging from families to the out and out car enthusiast who brings their pride and joy for others to see. Some people pop in for a coffee or a quick meal and then move on, whereas others stay for a lot longer than that. And this is clearly just what appeals to lots and lots of people, as on a busy Sunday, the place is so packed out that unless you have pre-reserved a car parking space, you will be politely asked if you could come back later when there is space on site.
I paid my first visit in March, as part of an Abarth Owners Club day out, and fell for the charms of the place just as so many had done before me and since. I decided that it would be an ideal place to hold the Abarth Summer Barbeque and that meant a couple of on-site meetings as well as the various email exchanges. Combine with that various visits when I was in the area, and I find that I popped in a number of times during May and June 2019. You never know quite what you will find when you pull into the site, or what will then arrive, and as this report evidences there is huge variety in the cars that do come on site. Modern performance cars are among the most evident of those parked up in the expansive areas around the site, which by May extend to some of the grassy areas up behind the buildings, but you also get plenty of rarities as well as lots of more common everyday moderns. Here are the cars which attracted my camera on the May and June visits.
Earlier in the day I had been at the Coventry Transport Museum Breakfast Club, and so I decided to pop in here en route home. The weather was not that inspiring, so the venue was not as busy as it can get on a Saturday, but even so, there was plenty to see, and whilst I was there quite a few more cars arrived.
Sole Abarth that I saw on this visit was a 124 Spider. This car has become slightly less rare now, with around 1750 of them sold in the UK, though it is unlikely to become any more commonplace, as it was recently announced that the car was withdrawn from sale, at least for now (due to a WLTP issue, I believe). That means it has had a short on sale time in the UK, as the 124 Spider only went on sale in September 2016, at the same time as the Fiat version, which was developed in parallel. Critics immediately complained that the Abarth version does cost a lot more, and there are those who think you don’t get enough extra for your money, but those who have driven it will tell you otherwise. You certainly get more power. The 1.4 MultiAir turbo unit jumps up from 138bhp to 168bhp, while torque also increases by a modest 10Nm to 250Nm, which gives it a 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds, which is half a second quicker than the 2.0-litre Mazda MX-5. The top speed is 143mph. It weighs just 1060kg meaning a power-to-weight ratio of 158bhp-per-tonne, and with the new Record Monza exhaust system it sounds great even at idle. The Abarth version gets a stiffer suspension setup than the regular Fiat 124 Spider, with Bilstein dampers and beefed-up anti-roll bars. Bigger Brembo brakes also feature, with aluminium calipers. It can be had with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission with paddles, and the latter gets a Sport mode for quicker shifts. Many of the UK cars sport the ‘Heritage Look’ pack, which is a no-cost option. It brings a matt black bonnet and bootlid, plus red exterior trim detailing and has proved popular. The £29,565 starting price gets you standard equipment such as cruise control, climate control, Bluetooth, a DAB radio and satnav, plus Alcantara black and red (or pure black) seat trim. The automatic gearbox is a £2,035 extra, while an optional visibility pack brings LED DRLs, auto lights and wipers and rear parking sensors.
Perhaps the nicest car that I saw whilst on site was this DB2/4 Mark 3 dating from 1959. Conversation with the owner elicited the fact that it has been in the same family since 1975 and the car is still used quite frequently. The DB2/4 was the first new post-war Aston, and the first car to adopt the now legendary DB naming convention, reflecting the fact that in 1947 David Brown had bought the Aston Martin and Lagonda companies and incorporated them as Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. Lagonda’s 2.6 litre dual overhead cam, straight-six engine, more powerful than the pushrod 1.9 litre unit in the Aston Martin 2-Litre Sports, was the main objective in Brown’s acquisition of the company. W. O. Bentley had supervised the engine’s design, which was largely by William (Willie) Watson, an engineer with the pre-war Invicta company who had collaborated on Lagonda’s pre-war V12 and also designed the short-lived post-war version. Work then started on producing a new car, which was called the DB2. This new model would utilise a version of the Lagonda engine in a shortened version of the tube-frame chassis designed by Claude Hill for the Aston Martin 2-Litre Sports, with a fastback coupé body designed by Frank Feeley. Three pre-production cars were entered for the 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans. One, which would become the development car for the production DB2, had the Lagonda straight-6, while the four-cylinder Aston Martin 2-litre unit powered the other two. After six laps the Lagonda-powered car, driven by Leslie Johnson, retired with overheating caused by failure of the water pump. One of the 2-litre cars was in 4th place and running without brakes when it crashed two hours short of the finish, fatally injuring driver Pierre Maréchal. The other finished 7th, crewed by Arthur Jones and Nick Haines. A month later, the larger-engined car, driven by Leslie Johnson and Charles Brackenbury, finished 3rd in the Spa 24-hour race, where one of the 2-litre cars was driven to 5th by Nick Haines and Lance Macklin. For 1950 all three factory team cars were equipped with the Lagonda engine. At the 1950 Le Mans race the one driven by George Abecassis and Lance Macklin finished 5th, with Brackenbury and Reg Parnell bringing another home 6th, which won Aston Martin 1st and 2nd in the 3-litre class. Across the Atlantic, Briggs Cunningham drove his DB2 to 2nd in its class at the inaugural Sebring race meeting in December 1950. The factory team cars continued racing in Europe throughout 1951, including at Le Mans, where Macklin and Eric Thompson took 3rd overall, with Abecassis and Brian Shawe-Taylor 5th. David Brown soon embarked on a series of Aston Martins designed specifically for competition use, starting with the DB3. Meanwhile, the production DB2 debuted at the New York Auto Show in April 1950 and continued in production until April 1953, by which time 411 had been made. The first 49 had a chrome-framed front grille in three separate parts, and large rectangular cooling vents in the front wings. Subsequent cars had a one-piece grille with horizontal chrome slats, and no side vents. The single-piece bonnet was hinged at the front. At the rear of the fixed-head coupé (FHC) a small top-hinged lid gave access to the spare wheel, and luggage space was behind the front seats, accessible only from inside the car. Later in 1950, a Drophead Coupé (DHC) variant was introduced. At least 102 were built. In April 1950, an engine with larger carburettors, inlet camshaft the same as the exhaust (for increased duration), and higher compression ratio pistons (8.16:1) was made available. Aston Martin’s first Vantage upgrade option offered 125 hp. Initially the higher compression ratio made the engine unsuitable for the British market, as the postwar austerity measures of the early 1950s restricted UK vehicles to 72 octane “Pool petrol”. The first DB2 Vantage, LML 50/21, was delivered to, and raced by, Briggs Cunningham in the United States. A revised version of the DB2 was launched in 1953, called the DB2/4. It was available as a 2+2 hatchback, marketed as a Saloon, as a Drophead Coupé (DHC) and as a 2-seat Fixed Head Coupe. A small number of Bertone bodied spiders were commissioned by private buyers. A further update in 1957 created the Mark III, and this was produced until the launch of the DB4 in 1958.
S3 and RS3 model Audis would seem to be popular among Caffeine & Machine attendees. It was an S3 Sportback which attracted my camera on this occasion.
The Speed is the performance derivative of the Mulsanne and offers greater performance and more premium features compared to the standard model. The 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine is modified and is rated at 530 bhp and 1,100 Nm (811 lb⋅/t) of torque (meanwhile the standard model’s engine is rated at 505 bhp) and 1,020 Nm (752 lb/ft) of torque) and benefits from a 13% increase in efficiency as a result of a newly redesigned combustion system that promotes a much faster and more controlled combustion process. This gives the Speed a 0–97 km/h acceleration time of just 4.8 seconds, which is 0.3 seconds faster than the standard model. Meanwhile, the top speed is increased from 296 to 306 km/h (184 to 190 mph). Other features specific to the Speed include a Sports mode in the suspension system settings, more assertive styling features such as a dark tint finish applied to the exterior stainless steel matrix grille, distinctive headlights, a “floating ellipse” design on the rear taillights, Bentley’s first ever directional style wheel and tyre set, and twin rifled exhaust tailpipes. Interior features include a new and unique colour split with new stitch lines that balances diamond quilted light-colour hide with darker, smooth hide, a 60 GB on-board hard drive, electrically-operated tables with recesses and connections for iPads and matching keyboards, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Also here was an example of the recently superceded second generation Continental GTC.
BMW and ALPINA
As I drove around the car park past the buildings, I spotted a long line of E39-generation 5 Series BMWs. My instant reaction was that this looked like some sort of gathering of the M5 Owners Club, but once parked up and I could make a closer inspection, it became apparent that this was a rather more varied collection of models from the E39 family. There were indeed some genuine M5 cars, but there were also some wannabe versions, and some which made no pretence at being anything other than a genuine 5 Series.
Among them were also examples of the B10 Alpina model of this generation. This was the first of the E39-based Alpina models, being launched at the March 1997 Geneva Show, and running for just 2 years before being replaced by a 3.3 litre version. It had an engine based on BMW’s 6 cylinder 2.8 litre unit, but enlarged to 3.2 litres, with lightweight Mahle pistons, modified cylinder head and combustion chamber, and a revised Siemens engine management system, all of which combined to give it an output of 260 bhp, making it almost as fast as the BMW 540i of the day. a car whose price it undercut. It was only offered with a 5 speed manual gearbox. Other Alpina changes included revised suspension, and the usual Alpina touches to the inside, A Touring version was also available. The later 3.3 model had 280 bhp from a 3.3 litre engine and the option of a Switchtronic automatic gearbox. There were also 340 bhp V8 and with the D10, diesel power E39-based models.
Parked up next to my car at one point was one of the current M4 models.
First of a couple of Ferrari models that I came across was this 458 Spider. An all new design, the 458 Italia was 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 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.
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 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.
Ford updated the Fiesta in August 1983 with a revised front end and interior, and a bootlid mirroring the swage lines from the sides of the car. The 1.3 L OHV engine was dropped, being replaced in 1984 by a CVH powerplant of similar capacity, itself superseded by the lean burn 1.4 L two years later. The 957 and 1,117 cc Kent/Valencia engines continued with only slight alterations and for the first time a Fiesta diesel was produced with a 1,600 cc engine adapted from the Escort. The new CTX continuously variable transmission, also fitted in the Fiat Uno, eventually appeared early in 1987 on 1.1 L models only. The second generation Fiesta featured a different dashboard on the lower-series trim levels compared to the more expensive variants. The recently launched XR2 model was thoroughly updated with a larger bodykit. It also featured a 96 bhp 1.6 litre CVH engine as previously seen in the Ford Escort XR3, and five-speed gearbox rather than the four-speed gearbox which had been used on the previous XR2 and on the rest of the Fiesta range. The engine was replaced by a lean-burn variant in 1986 which featured a revised cylinder head and carburettor; it was significantly cleaner from an environmental viewpoint but was slightly less powerful as a result with 95 bhp. Seen here was a Popular Plus, a rare survivor indeed these days.
Most recently, the most sporting Fords have been the RS versions of the Focus. On each occasion there was been a long wait for the car after the launch of the cooking models. The regular second generation cars were released in late 2004. An ST version followed very quickly, and for a long time, Ford maintained that was the only sporty Focus there was going to be. Finally, on December 17, 2007 Ford of Europe confirmed that a Mk 2 Focus RS would be launched in 2009, with a concept version due in mid-2008. t with an upgraded Duratec ST engine with 305PS Duratec RS, gearbox, suspension, and LSD. In 2008, Ford revealed the new Focus RS in “concept” form at the British International Motor Show. Contrary to numerous rumours and speculation, the RS was announced by Ford to have a conventional FWD layout. The Duratec RS engine was upgraded to produce 301 bhp and 325 lb/ft of torque. 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration was quoted to be under 6 seconds. The RS used a modified Volvo -engineered 2,522cc five-cylinder engine found in the Focus ST. A larger Borg Warner K16 turbo now delivers up to 20.3-psi of boost. A new air-to-air intercooler has been developed as a complement, while the forged crankshaft, silicon-aluminum pistons, graphite-coated cylinder bores, 8.5:1 compression ratio and variable valve timing also up the power output. The car remained front wheel drive, but to reduce torque steer used a Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing LSD, and a specially designed MacPherson strut suspension at the front called RevoKnuckle, which provided a lower scrub radius and kingpin offset than traditional designs while avoiding the increased weight and complexity of double wishbone and multi-link suspension setups. Ford UK claim: “It’s as close as you’ll come to driving a full-spec rally car (Ford Focus RS WRC). The production car was finally unveiled on 5 January 2009. It looked very distinctive, as at the rear a large venturi tunnel and a dramatic rear spoiler created a purposeful look. It was available in three expressive exterior colours: Ultimate Green, Performance Blue and Frozen White. The ‘Ultimate’ Green was a modern reinterpretation of the classic 1970s Ford Le Mans Green of the Ford Escort RS1600 era.
Ford played much the same guessing game about whether there would be an RS version of the third generation car as they had done with the earlier versions. Production of the regular cars started in late 2010, but it was not until the 2015 Geneva Motor Show before the production ready MKIII Ford Focus RS was unveiled. It came packing the turbocharged 2.3-litre inline-four engine found in the Mustang EcoBoost. In the Focus RS, the engine itself produces 350 hp. Power is sent to all four wheels via Ford’s all-new Torque-Vectoring All-Wheel-Drive system with a rear drive unit designed by GKN, as well as upgraded suspension and brakes. As well as that, the new Focus RS will be fitted with Drive Modes – including an industry-first Drift Mode that allows controlled oversteer drifts – and Launch Control. The RS will boast a model specific aerodynamic package that helps to differentiate it from other Focus models. The RS is capable of accelerating to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.7 seconds. Sales finally started in mid 2016, with long waiting lists having been created, though Ford did eventually catch up with expanded production levels allowing them to meet the demand.
Also here was the Mustang, finally available in the UK in right hand drive form. The car here was the GT 5.0, the version which has proved the more popular of the two engine choices offered.
This is a Honda Insight. Based on the Honda J-VX concept car unveiled at the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show, the Insight was introduced in Japan in November 1999 as the first production vehicle to feature Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist system. In the following month, December 1999, Insight became the first hybrid available in North America, followed seven months later by the Toyota Prius. The Insight featured optimised aerodynamics and a lightweight aluminium structure to maximize fuel efficiency and minimize emissions. In addition to its hybrid drive system, the Insight was small, light and streamlined — with a drag-coefficient of 0.25. The petrol engine is a 67 hp 1.0 litre, ECA series 3-cylinder unit providing lean burn operation with an air-to-fuel ratio that can reach 25.8 to 1. The engine utilises lightweight aluminium, magnesium, and plastic to minimize weight. The electrical motor assist adds another 10 kW (13 hp) and a maximum of 36 pound-feet (49 Nm) of torque when called on, with the aim to boost performance to the level of a typical 1.5 L petrol engine. It also acts as a generator during deceleration and braking to recharge the vehicle’s batteries, and as the Insight’s starter motor. (This improves fuel efficiency and extends the lifetime and fade resistance of the brakes, without adding unsprung weight). When the car is not moving, for example at a stop light, the engine shuts off. Power steering is electric, reducing accessory drag. The Insight uses the first generation of Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid technology. (The next generation, used in the Honda Civic Hybrid, is much more space-efficient.) The Insight’s electric assist is an ultrathin 60 mm (about 2.4 inches) brushless 10-kW electric motor located on the crankshaft. Located behind the seats are a series of commercial grade “D” sized NiMH batteries wired to provide a nominal 144 V DC. During heavy acceleration, the NiMH batteries drive the electric motor, providing additional power; during deceleration, the motor acts as a generator and recharges the batteries using a process called regenerative braking. A computer control module regulates how much power comes from the internal combustion engine, and how much from the electric motor; in the CVT variant, it also finds the optimal gear ratio. The digital displays on the dashboard display fuel consumption instantaneously. On the manual transmission up and down arrows suggest when to shift gears. Dashboard gauges monitor the current battery status, instantaneous fuel consumption, and mode of the electric motor — standby, engine assist or charging the batteries. High pressure, low rolling resistance tires and the use of low viscosity “0W-20” synthetic oil enhance fuel economy. The original Insight had a conventional manual transmission. Starting with the 2001 model, a CVT variant of the Insight was available; the CVT is similar to that used in the Honda Civic Hybrid and the Honda Logo. A traditional transmission shifts between a fixed set of engine-to-wheel ratios; however, a CVT allows for an infinite set of ratios between its lowest gear and its highest. A feature shared by the two hybrids (and now appearing in others) is the ability to automatically turn off the engine when the vehicle is at a stop (and restart it upon movement). Since it is more powerful than most starters of conventional cars, the Insight’s electric motor can start the engine nearly instantaneously. The Integrated Motor Assist is run by an “Intelligent Power Unit (IPU)”, a desktop computer-sized box. The Intelligent Power Unit, the Power control Unit, the Electronic Control Unit, the vehicle’s batteries, dc-to-dc converter and a high-voltage inverter are all located under the cargo floor of the vehicle, behind the seats. Honda increased the vehicle’s fuel efficiency using aluminium and plastic extensively to reduce the vehicle’s weight. The basic structure is a new, lightweight aluminium monocoque, reinforced in key areas with aluminium extrusions joined at cast aluminium lugs. Stamped aluminium panels are welded onto this structure to form an extremely light and rigid platform for the drivetrain and suspension. The Insight has a body weight less than half that of the contemporary Civic 3-door, with increased torsional rigidity by 38% and bending rigidity by 13%. Honda built the Insight with aluminium front brake calipers and rear brake drums, and with a largely aluminium suspension, in addition to standard aluminium wheels; reducing the ratio of un-sprung to sprung weight as well as the total weight. The fuel tank is plastic; the engine mounts were aluminium; and the exhaust is a small, thin wall pipe. Its compact spare is also aluminium. The Insight weighed 1,847 lb (838 kg) in manual transmission form without air conditioning, 1,878 lb (852 kg) with manual transmission and air conditioning, or 1,964 lb (891 kg) with CVT and air conditioning. Insight has a coefficient of drag of 0.25e. The absence of a rear seat allows the body to taper just behind the driver and the rear track is 110 mm narrower than the front track. The CVT-equipped Insight is classified as a super-low emissions vehicle. The Insight features low emissions: the California Air Resources Board gave the 5-speed model a ULEV rating, and the CVT model earned a SULEV rating – the 5-speed model’s lean-burn ability traded increased efficiency for slightly higher NOx emissions. The Insight was assembled at the Honda factory in Suzuka, Japan, where the Honda NSX and the Honda S2000 were also assembled. At the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show, Honda introduced the concept car Honda IMAS, an extremely fuel-efficient and lightweight hybrid car made of aluminium and carbon fibre, which was perceived by most observers to be the future direction where the Insight was heading. With its aluminium body and frame, the Insight was an expensive car to produce and was never designed for high-volume sales. Instead, it was designed to be a real world test car for hybrid technology and a gauge to new consumer driving habits. With an aerodynamic fuel-saving shape similar to the Audi A2, and some unconventional body colors it was a bit more than mainstream car buyers could handle, preferring more conservative styles. Production halted announced in May 2006, with plans announced to replace Insight with a new hybrid car, smaller than the eighth generation Civic, but not earlier than in 2009. Ahead of this announcement, Honda stopped selling Insight in the UK, for example, as early as December 2005. To fill the market niche void, in 2002 Honda rolled out a hybrid version of the Honda Civic – Honda Civic Hybrid, followed by Toyota’s redesign of the Prius in 2003 as a 2004 model. Total global cumulative sales for the first generation Insight were 17,020 units. Honda had originally planned to sell 6,500 Insights each year of production.
Sole Maserati here was mine, and I was pleased to see that, just as it had done at Coventry earlier in the day, it created lots of interest, with plenty of people taking photographs of it.
This is the new second generation CLA, a car which I had not realised had reached the UK. Many manufacturers and dealers do visit this site with their latest product, as they have figured out that it is a good place to give their new product a good airing and given the number of enthusiasts on site, that there will be of online coverage with Instagram, YouTube and Facebook posts as well. The new CLA does look very much like a slightly shrunken CLS, which is no bad thing, though the real test will be whether the car is better to drive and less difficult to get into compared to is rather underwhelming predecessor.
The Mini was the model that refused to die, with sales continuing after the launch of the Metro in 1980, and gathering momentum again in the 1990s, thanks in no small part to interest from Japan and because Rover Group decided to produce some more Cooper models. The first series of Cooper cars had been discontinued in 1971, replaced by the cheaper to build 1275GT, but when a limited edition model was produced in 1990, complete with full endorsement from John Cooper, the model was a sell out almost overnight, which prompted the decision to make it a permanent addition to the range. A number of refinements were made during the 90s, with fuel injection adding more power, a front mounted radiator and more sound deadening making the car quieter and new seats adding more comfort and a new dash making the car look less spartan inside.
Mitsubishi introduced the Lancer Evolution IX in Japan on March 3, 2005, and exhibited the car at the Geneva Motor Show for the European market the same day. The North American markets saw the model exhibited at the New York International Auto Show the following month. The 2.0 litre 4G63 Inline-four engine has MIVEC technology (variable valve timing), and a revised turbocharger design boosting official power output at the crankshaft to 291 PS ( 287 hp) and torque to 392 Nm (289 lb/ft). There were a number of different models offered, with increasing amounts of power. These were named and packaged different in different markets. In the United Kingdom, the Evolution IX used a model scheme based on the car’s horsepower. There were initially three models available: the FQ-300, FQ-320 and FQ-340 each with around 300, 320 and 340 PS (296, 316 and 335 bhp), respectively. An FQ-360 model was subsequently released as a successor to the Evolution VIII FQ-400. While the new FQ-360 produced 371 PS (366 bhp) at 6,887 rpm (less horsepower than its predecessor), although it had more torque at 492 Nm (363 lb/ft) at 3,200 rpm. All four models were designed to run on super unleaded petrol only. The MR FQ-360 was also released in limited numbers (only 200) in the last year of production. The FQ-300, 320, 340 came with a 6-speed, Bilstein monotube shocks, AYC (Active Yaw Control), and ran on super unleaded petrol only. The FQ-360 had a 6-speed, Bilstein monotube shocks, AYC (Active Yaw Control), Ralliart Sports Meter Kit, carbon front splitter, Speedline alloy wheels, super unleaded petrol only. The MR FQ-360 had a new turbo with titanium aluminium alloy turbo fins, Speedline Turini alloy wheels, Privacy Glass, lowered Eibach coil springs (10 mm (0.39 in) at the front/ 5 mm (0.20 in) at the rear), IX MR interior, super unleaded petrol only. The cars were not cheap to buy, but it was the running costs that were the real challenge, with very high servicing costs, and intervals as low as every 3000 miles. Enthusiasts soon found that they simply could not afford to run the cars when they were new.
There were lots of different 911 models here, with most of the distinct generations represented, ranging from a 911 SC of the late 70s through the 993 and its corresponding Turbo version of the late 90s, a couple of 996 era cars and the more recent 997.
There was also one example of the 928, the first V8 engined Porsche and originally conceived to replace the 911, though as we all know, that did not happen, with the two complementing each other in the range during the 18 year life of the 928. By the late 1960s, Porsche had changed significantly as a company, and executives including owner Ferdinand Porsche were toying with the idea of adding a luxury touring car to the line-up. Managing Director Ernst Fuhrmann was also pressuring Ferdinand to approve development of the new model in light of concerns that the current flagship model at the time, the 911, was quickly reaching the limits of its potential. Slumping sales of the 911 seemed to confirm that the model was approaching the end of its economic life cycle. Fuhrmann envisioned the new range-topping model as being the best possible combination of a sports coupe and a luxury sedan, something well equipped and comfortable enough to be easily driven over long distances that also had the power, poise and handling prowess necessary to be driven like a sports car. This set it apart from the 911, which was intended to be an out-and-out sports car. Ordered by Ferdinand Porsche to come up with a production-feasible concept for his new model, Fuhrmann initiated a design study in 1971, eventually taking from the process the final specification for the 928. Several drivetrain layouts were considered during early development, including rear and mid-engined designs, but most were dismissed because of technical and/or legislative difficulties. Having the engine, transmission, catalytic converter(s) and exhaust all cramped into a small rear engine bay made emission and noise control more difficult, something Porsche was already facing problems with on the 911 and wanted to avoid. After deciding that the mid-engine layout didn’t allow enough room in the passenger compartment, a front engine/rear wheel drive layout was chosen. Porsche also may have feared that the U.S. government would soon ban the sale of rear-engined cars in response to the consumer concern over safety problems with the rear-engined Chevrolet Corvair. Porsche engineers wanted a large-displacement engine to power the 928, and prototype units were built with a 5-litre V8 producing close to 300 hp. Ferdinand Piëch wanted this car to use a 4.6-litre V10 based upon Audi’s five-cylinder engine. Several members of the Porsche board objected, chiefly because they wished for Porsche AG to maintain some separation from Volkswagen. The first two running prototypes of Porsche’s M28 V8 used one four-barrel carburettor, but this was just for initial testing. The cars were sold with the planned Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system. When increasing concern within the company over the pricing and availability of fuel during the oil crisis of the 1970s became an issue of contention, smaller engines were considered in the interest of fuel economy. A push began for the development of a 3.3 litre 180 hp powerplant they had drawn up designs for, but company engineers balked at this suggestion. Both sides finally settled on a 4.5 litre SOHC per bank 16-valve V8 producing 240 PS which they considered to have an acceptable compromise of performance and fuel economy. The finished car debuted at the 1977 Geneva Motor Show before going on sale later that year. Although it won early acclaim for its comfort and power, sales were slow. Base prices were much higher than that of the 911 model and the 928’s front-engined, water-cooled design put off many Porsche purists, not least because the design marked a major change in direction for Porsche started with the introduction of the Porsche 924 in 1976 which purists found hard to accept. Porsche utilised a transaxle in the 928 to help achieve 50/50 front/rear weight distribution, aiding the car’s balance. Although it weighed more than the difficult-to-handle 911, its more neutral weight balance and higher power output gave it similar performance on the track. The 928 was regarded as the more relaxing car to drive at the time. It came with either a five-speed dog leg manual transmission, or a Mercedes-Benz-derived automatic transmission, originally with three speeds, with four-speed from 1983 in North America and 1984 in other markets. More than 80% had the automatic transmission. Exact percentage of manual gearbox cars for entire production run is not known but it is believed to be between 15 and 20%. The body, styled by Wolfgang Möbius under guidance of Anatole Lapine, was mainly galvanised steel, but the doors, front fenders, and hood were aluminium in order to make the car more lightweight. It had a substantial luggage area accessed via a large hatchback. The new polyurethane elastic bumpers were integrated into the nose and tail and covered in body-coloured plastic; an unusual feature for the time that aided the car visually and reduced its drag. Porsche opted not to offer a convertible variant but several aftermarket modifiers offered convertible conversions, most notably Carelli, based in Orange County, CA. The Carelli conversions were sold as complete cars, with the conversion doubling the price of the car. A reported 12 units were made. The 928 qualified as a 2+2, having two small seats in the rear. Both rear seats could be folded down to enlarge the luggage area, and both the front and rear seats had sun visors for occupants. The rear seats are small (due to the prominent transmission hump) and have very little leg room; they are only suitable for adults on very short trips or children. The 928 was also the first vehicle in which the instrument cluster moved along with the adjustable steering wheel in order to maintain maximum instrument visibility. The 928 included several other innovations such as the “Weissach Axle”, a simple rear-wheel steering system that provides passive rear-wheel steering to increase stability while braking during a turn, and an unsleeved, silicon alloy engine block made of aluminium, which reduced weight and provided a highly durable cylinder bore. Porsche’s design and development efforts paid off during the 1978 European Car of the Year, where the 928 won ahead of the BMW 7 Series, and the Ford Granada. The 928 is the only sports car ever to have won this competition, which is regarded as proof of how advanced the 928 was, compared to its contemporaries. Porsche introduced a refreshed 928 S into the European market in 1980 model year. Externally, the S wore new front and rear spoilers and sported wider wheels and tyres than the older variant, but the main change for the 928 S was under the bonnet where a revised 4.7 litre engine was used. European versions debuted with 300 PS , and were upgraded to 310 PS for 1984, though it is rumoured that they typically made around 330 hp. From 1984 to 1986, the S model was called S2 in UK. These cars used Bosch LH-Jetronic fuel injection and purely electronic Bosch ignition, the same systems used on the later 32-valve cars, though without the pollution controls. North American-spec 1983 and 1984 S models used, among other differences, smaller valves, milder camshafts, smaller diameter intake manifolds, and additional pollution equipment in order to meet emissions regulations, and were limited to 234 hp as a result. Due to low grade fuel 16V low compression S engine was made for Australian market in 1985 model year. It had 9.3:1 compression ratio pistons instead of normal 10.4:1 but used same large intake, high lift cams, large valves etc. of other S engines. In 1982, two special models were available for different markets. 202 “Weissach Edition” cars were sold in North America. Unusual features were champagne gold metallic paint, matching brushed gold flat disc wheels, two-tone leather interior, a plaque containing the production number on the dash and the extremely collectible three-piece Porsche luggage set. It’s believed these cars were not made with S spoilers even though these were available in U.S. during this time period as part of the “Competition Group” option. The “Weissach Edition” option was also available for the US market 911 in 1980 model year and 924 in 1981 model year. 141 special “50th Jubilee” 928 S models were available outside the U.S. and Canada to celebrate the company’s 50-year existence as a car manufacturer. This model is also sometimes referred to as the “Ferry Porsche Edition” because his signature was embroidered into the front seats. It was painted meteor metallic and fitted with flat disc wheels, wine red leather and special striped fabric seat centres. Similar 911 and 924 specials were also made for world markets. Porsche updated the North American 928 S for 1985, replacing the 4.7 L SOHC engine with a new 5.0 L DOHC unit sporting four valves per cylinder and producing 288 hp. Seats were also updated to a new style, these cars are sometimes unofficially called S3 to distinguish them from 16-valve “S” models. European models kept a 4.7 L engine, which was somewhat more powerful as standard, though lower 9.3:1 compression 32-valve engine together with catalytic converters became an option in some European countries and Australia for 1986. In 1986, revised suspension settings, larger brakes with 4-piston calipers and modified exhaust was installed on the 928S, marking the final changes to old body style cars. These were straight from the 928S4, which was slated to debut a few months later. These changes came starting from VIN 1001, which means that the first thousand ’86’s had the old brakes, but later cars had the later systems. This later 1986 model is sometimes referred to as a 19861⁄2 or 1986.5 because of these changes. The name is a little misleading as more than 3/4 of the 1986 production had these updates. The 928 S4 variant debuted in the second half of 1986 with an updated version of the 5.0 litre V8 producing 320 PS, sporting a new single-disc clutch in manual gearbox cars, larger torque converter in automatics and fairly significant styling updates which gave the car a cleaner, sleeker look. S4 was much closer to being a truly world car than previous models as only major differences for North American models were instrumentation in either kilometers or miles, lighting, front and rear bumper shocks and the availability of catalytic converters in many other markets. The Australian market version was only one with different horsepower rating at 300 PS due to preparation for possible low grade fuel. Even this was achieved without engine changes. A Club Sport variant which was up to 100 kg (220 lb) lighter became available to continental Europe and U.S. in 1988. This model was watered down version of the 1987 factory prototype which had a lightened body. Also in 1987 the factory made four white lightened manual gearbox S4 models for racecar drivers who were on their payroll at the time. These were close to same as later actual Club Sport models and can also be considered prototypes for it. An SE (sometimes called the S4 Sport due to model designation on rear bumper), a sort of halfway point between a normally equipped S4 and the more race-oriented Club Sport, became available to the UK. It’s generally believed these Porsche Motorsport-engined cars have more hp than the S4. They utilize parts which later became known as GT pistons, cams and engine ECU programs. Some of them had stronger, short geared manual gearbox. The automatic gearbox was not available. For the 1989 model year, a visible change inside was digital trip computer in dashboard. At the same time Australian models received the same 320 PS engine management setup as other markets. Porsche debuted the 928 GT in the late winter 1988/89 after dropping the slowly selling CS and SE. In terms of equipment, the GT was like the 928 SE, having more equipment than a Club Sport model but less than a 928 S4 to keep the weight down somewhat. It had the ZF 40% limited-slip differential as standard like the Club Sport and SE before it. Also like the CS and SE, the GT was only available with a manual gearbox. European 1989 CS and GT wheels had an RDK tyre pressure monitoring system as standard, which was also optional for the same year S4. For 1990 model year Porsche made RDK and a 0-100% variable ratio limited-slip called PSD (Porsche SperrDifferential) standard in both GT and S4 models for all markets. This system is much like the one from the 959 and gives the vehicle even more grip. In 1990 the S4 was no longer available with a manual gearbox. The S4 and GT variants were both cut at the end of 1991 model year, making way for the final version of the 928. The 928 GTS came for sale in late 1991. Changed bodywork, larger front brakes and a new, more powerful 5.4 litre 350 PS engine were the big advertised changes; what Porsche wasn’t advertising was the price. Loaded GTS models could eclipse US$100,000 in 1995, making them among the most expensive cars on the road at the time. This severely hampered sales despite the model’s high competency and long standard equipment list. Porsche discontinued the GTS model that year after shipping only 77 of them to the United States. Total worldwide production of 928s over an 18 year period was a little over 61,000 cars. Second-hand models’ value decreased as a result of generally high maintenance costs due largely to spare parts that are expensive to manufacture, with the result that there are fewer survivors than you might expect, though with values hardening, people are now spending the money required to restore these cars.
The 968 was launched in 1992, renamed from the 944, as so little of the outgoing S2 remained unaltered. In addition to the numerous mechanical upgrades, the new model also received significantly evolved styling both inside and out, with a more modern, streamlined look and more standard luxury than on the 944. Production was moved from the Audi plant in Neckarsulm to Porsche’s own factory in Zuffenhausen. The 968 was powered by an updated version of the 944’s straight-four engine, now displacing 3.0 L with 104 mm bore, 88 mm stroke and producing 240 PS. Changes to the 968’s powertrain also included the addition of Porsche’s then-new VarioCam variable valve timing system, newly optimized induction and exhaust systems, a dual-mass flywheel, and updated engine management electronics among other more minor revisions. The 968’s engine was the second-largest four-cylinder ever offered in a production car up to that time. A new 6-speed manual transmission replaced the 944’s old 5-speed, and Porsche’s dual-mode Tiptronic automatic became an available option. Both the VarioCam timing system and Tiptronic transmission were very recent developments for Porsche. The Tiptronic transmission had debuted for the first time ever only 3 years prior to the debut of the 968, on the 1989 Type 964 911. The VarioCam timing system was first introduced on the 968 and would later become a feature of the Type 993 air-cooled six-cylinder engine. The 968’s styling was an evolution on that of the outgoing 944, itself styled evolutionarily from the earlier 924, but elements were borrowed from the more expensive 928 model in an attempt to create a “family resemblance” between models, and the swooping headlamp design, inspired by those of the 959, previewed similar units found later on the Type 993 911. Along with the new styling, the 968 featured numerous small equipment and detail upgrades, including a Fuba roof-mounted antenna, updated single lens tail lamps, “Cup” style 16″ alloy wheels, a wider selection of interior and exterior colours, and a slightly updated “B” pillar and rear quarter window to accommodate adhesive installation to replace the older rubber gasket installation. Because some parts are interchangeable between the 968, 944 and 924, some enthusiasts purchase those parts from Porsche parts warehouses as “upgrades” for their older models. Like the 944, the 968 was sold as both a coupe and a convertible. Much of the 968’s chassis was carried over from the 944 S2, which in itself shared many components with the 944 Turbo. Borrowed components include the Brembo-sourced four-piston brake calipers on all four wheels, aluminium semi-trailing arms and aluminium front A-arms, used in a Macpherson strut arrangement. The steel unibody structure was also very similar to that of the previous models. Porsche maintained that 80% of the car was new. From 1993 through 1995, Porsche offered a lighter-weight “Club Sport” version of the 968 designed for enthusiasts seeking increased track performance. Much of the 968’s luxury-oriented equipment was removed or taken off the options list; less sound deadening material was used, electrical windows were replaced with crank-driven units, upgraded stereo systems, A/C and sunroof were still optional as on the standard Coupe and Convertible models. In addition, Porsche installed manually adjustable lightweight Recaro racing seats rather than the standard power-operated leather buckets (also manufactured by Recaro), a revised suspension system optimised and lowered by 20 mm for possible track use, 17-inch wheels rather than the 16-inch and wider tyres, 225 front and 255 rears rather than 205 and 225 respectively. The four-spoke airbag steering wheel was replaced with a thicker-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel with no airbag, heated washer jets were replaced with non heated, vanity covers in the engine bay were deleted, as was the rear wiper. The Club Sport has no rear seats, unlike the 2+2 Coupé. Club Sports were only available in Grand Prix White, black, Speed yellow, Guards red, Riviera blue or Maritime blue. Seat backs were colour-coded to the body. Club Sport decals were standard in either black, red or white but there was a ‘delete’ option. All Club Sports had black interiors with the 944 S2 door cards. Due to the reduction in the number of electrical items the wiring loom was reduced in complexity which saved weight and also the battery was replaced with a smaller one, again reducing weight. With the no frills approach meaning less weight, as well as the optimising of the suspension, Porsche could focus media attention on the Club Sport variants fast road and track abilities. This helped to slightly bolster the flagging sales figures in the mid-1990s. The Club Sport variant achieved a ‘Performance Car Of The Year’ award in 1993 from Performance Car magazine in the UK. Club Sport models were only officially available in the UK, Europe, Japan & Australia, although “grey market” cars found their way elsewhere. The declared weight of the 968 CS is 1320 kg, ~100 kg lighter than the regular 968. Acceleration from standstill to 100 km/h is 6.3 seconds and a top speed is 260 km/h (160 mph). A UK-only version called “968 Sport”, was offered in 1994 and 1995, and was essentially a Club Sport model (and was produced on the same production line with similar chassis numbers) with electric windows, electric release boot, central locking, cloth comfort seats (different from both the standard and the Club Sport). With the added electrics the larger wiring loom was used. The Sport Variant also got back the two rear seats, again in the cloth material specific to the Sport. At £29,975, the 968 Sport was priced £5,500 lower than the standard 968, but had most of the latter’s desirable “luxuries” and consequently outsold it by a large margin (306 of the 968 Sport models compared to 40 standard 968 coupés). In 1993, Porsche Motorsports at Weissach briefly produced a turbocharged 968 Turbo S, a fairly odd naming choice for Porsche which usually reserves the added “S” moniker for models that have been tuned for more power over a “lesser” counterpart, such as with the 911 Turbo. The 968 Turbo S shared the same body and interior as the Club Sport and visually can be identified by the NACA bonnet hood scoops, adjustable rear wing and deeper front spoiler. Powered by a large 8 valve SOHC cylinder head (944 Turbo S) with 3.0 Litre 944S2 style engine block. Tests conducted in 1993 produced a 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) of 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 282 km/h (175 mph), performance comparable to the much newer Type 996 911. It generated 305 bhp at 5600 rpm with a maximum torque of 370 lb·f) at 3000rpm. Only 16 were produced in total and only for sale in mainland Europe. Between 1992 and 1994, Porsche Motorsports Research and Development built and provided a full “Race” version (stripped out 968 Turbo S) for Porsche’s customer race teams. The 968 Turbo RS was available in two variations; a 337 bhp version using the K27 turbocharger from the Turbo S, which was built to the German ADAC GT specification (ballast added to bring the car up to the 1350 kg minimum weight limit), and an international spec version which used a KKK L41 turbocharger producing 350 bhp and was reduced to 1212 kg in weight. Only 4 were ever produced; 1 Guards Red, 1 Speed Yellow, 1 Black and 1 White. These are the rarest 968s ever produced.
This is a second generation Impreza WRX. Following the success of the first model, helped by the massive following of the rally cars, an all-new model version arrived in Japan in mid 2000, reaching Europe later in the year. WRX variants soon followed and these underwent continuous development on an annual basis. the bug-eyed styling caused more than a few comments and Subaru applied two significant facelifts to the front end following a largely negative reaction of the first cars, though the follow-on versions were different rather than necessarily being “better”. The car was a hoot to drive, but running costs were high, and whereas you used to see lots of them at enthusiast events, they are quite a rare sighting now.
This is a rally car recreation, one of around 5 cars which belongs to Claire Udell, the business manager on site, and as such is a car you could expect to see here quite frequently, although with 4 of cars in her possession, I guess she brings one of the others quite a bit of the time. It is based on a fifth generation Celica, the sporty Coupe that Toyota produced initially as a rival to the Ford Capri, back in 1970. It went on to live some years longer than the Ford, and thanks to a policy of all Japanese makers at the time of renewing their cars every 4 years, was available in far more distinct generations than its European rivals. The fifth generation car was produced form 1989 to 1993. Compared to its predecessor, it had new Super Round organic styling, upgraded wheels and tyres, more powerful GT-Four (US: All-Trac Turbo) with better cooling system, and for the Japanese market only, the 4-Wheel Steering (4WS) models. Toyota engineers claimed that the round styling and lack of straight edges increased strength without adding weight. The styling was later copied by other manufacturers. There were all manner of different versions offered in the Celica’s major markets and whilst the styling was perhaps more transatlantic in appeal than had been the case with the fourth generation car, it was adapted for Europe, where versions included a 1.6 ST-i (not sold in the UK), the 2.0 GT-i 16, and GT-Four. Some markets got a two door version., but it was the three door hatch which found its way to the UK, and the 2.0 GT-i 16 cabriolet was offered only in certain European countries. Only the 2.0 GT-i 16 liftback and GT-Four were officially sold in the UK. This one was presented as a reminder of the rallying success of the model.
With hot versions of regular family cars particularly popular among those who frequent this venue, it was no surprise to come across a number of GTi versions of VWs in the car park, and I noted both Polo and Golf GTi here.
My diary called for me to be at Adastral Park, just the east side of Ipswich on the day following the late May Bank Holiday, and such is the distance there from home that I had little choice to travel there the day before, on the Bank Holiday. Rather than going along the M4 and around the M25, Google Maps reminded me that it is just as quick to go up to the Midlands, up to the M6 and then head east along the A14. And so doing would take me more or less past Caffeine & Machine, so I figured I should stop by and see what was parked up on a day that I expected would be busy – a Bank Holiday blessed with nice weather. And so it proved to be. I had planned only to stay for an hour or so, but there was so much to see and plenty of comings and goings that I remained on site far longer than that and got the chance to see all sorts of different cars.
One of the first cars I spotted looked very familiar, and I was pretty sure that this was the 595 belonging to friend Steven Brownsea. Sure enough, a few minutes later, I bumped into Steven, who told me that he had been there with a couple of supercar-owning friends and that he is one of many who is now a real fan of the venue. Later in the visit I came across another 595 Competizione.
There was also a nice example of the 695 Rivale. This is the latest celebration of Fiat’s partnership with Riva, which has already seen a special Riva version of the 500,. Described as being “the most sophisticated Abarth ever”, it is available either as a hatch or a cabriolet, with both of them featuring a two-tone Riva Sera Blue and Shark Grey paintwork. The Rivale is adorned with an aquamarine double stripe, satin chrome finish on the door handles and satin chrome moulding on the tailgate, various aesthetic elements inspired by the Riva 56 Rivale yachts and ‘695 Rivale’ logos, joined by Brembo Brakes, Koni suspension, and 17-inch Supersport alloy wheels. Enhancing the nautical theme the new 695 Rivale features either a carbon fibre or mahogany dashboard, black mats with blue inserts, blue leather seats and door panels, carbon fibre kick plates, special steering wheel wrapped in blue and black leather and with a mahogany badge, blue leather instrument panel cover, and mahogany gear lever knob and kick plate. These are joined by the standard Uconnect infotainment with a 7-inch display, which is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and there is also a hand-written numbered plate that can be customised with the mane of the customer’s yacht on request. Powering the 695 Rivale is the same 1.4-litre turbocharged engine that makes 180PS (177hp) and 184lb/ft of torque, that features in the 595 Competizione, allowing it to go from rest to 100km/h (62mph) in 6.7 seconds and up to a top speed of 225km/h (140mph). This is a regular model in the range, but confusingly, there is also the Abarth 695 Rivale 175 Anniversary, created to celebrate 175 years of the Riva brand. Just 350 of these were produced, half of them the hatch and the other half cabriolets. These featured 17-inch alloy wheels with a special pattern, celebratory badge on the outside, hand-crafted details such as the two-tone colour – blue and black hand-stitched leather seats with a celebratory logo stitched onto the headrest, carbon dashboard silk screen printed with special logo, numbered plate. Standard Rivale cars arrived in the UK in April 2018, and quite a few have been sold. They always attract lots of interest when they do appear.
Final Abarth present was a Punto Evo, an update from the original Grande Punto It was launched at the 2010 Geneva Show, with the cars reaching UK buyers in the summer of that year, and it incorporated many of the changes which had been seen a few months earlier on the associated Fiat models, the visual alterations being the most obvious, with the car taking on the nose of the associated Fiat, but adapted to make it distinctively Abarth, new rear lights and new badging. There was more to it than this, though, as under the bonnet, the T-Jet unit was swapped for the 1.4 litre Multi-Air, coupled to a 6 speed gearbox, which meant that the car now had 165 bhp at its disposal. Eventually, Abarth offered an Esseesse kit for these cars, though these are exceedingly rare. For those in the know – which never seemed to be that many people – this was a really capable and desirable car, and the owners love them, lamenting the fact that the model had quite a short production life and has not been replaced.
Just a couple of Alfa Romeo models caught my eye. Older of the pair was a 916 Series Spider, a car whose values are now increasing, and which looks like it will achieve the full classic status that everyone thought it would even when the car was new. The 916 Series cars were conceived to replace two very different models in the Alfa range. First of these was the open topped 105 Series Spider which had been in production since 1966 and by the 1990s was long overdue a replacement. Alfa decided to combine a follow on to the Alfetta GTV, long out of production, with a new Spider model, and first work started in the late 1980s. The task was handed to Pininfarina, and Enrico Fumia’s initial renderings were produced in September 1987, with the first clay models to complete 1:1 scale model made in July 1988. Fumia produced something rather special. Clearly an Italian design, with the Alfa Romeo grille with dual round headlights, recalling the Audi-based Pininfarina Quartz, another design produced by Enrico Fumia back in 1981, the proposal was for a car that was low-slung, wedge-shaped with a low nose and high kicked up tail. The back of the car is “cut-off” with a “Kamm tail” giving improved aerodynamics. The Spider would share these traits with the GTV except that the rear is rounded, and would feature a folding soft-top with five hoop frame, which would completely disappear from sight under a flush fitting cover. An electric folding mechanism would be fitted as an option. Details included a one-piece rear lamp/foglamp/indicator strip across the rear of the body, the minor instruments in the centre console angled towards the driver. The exterior design was finished in July 1988. After Vittorio Ghidella, Fiat’s CEO, accepted the design, Alfa Romeo Centro Stile under Walter de Silva was made responsible for the completion of the detail work and also for the design of the interiors, as Pininfarina’s proposal was not accepted. The Spider and GTV were to be based on the then-current Fiat Group platform, called Tipo Due, in this case a heavily modified version with an all new multilink rear suspension. The front suspension and drivetrain was based on the 1992 Alfa Romeo 155 saloon. Chief engineer at that time was Bruno Cena. Drag coefficient was 0.33 for the GTV and 0.38 for the Spider. Production began in late 1993 with four cars, all 3.0 V6 Spiders, assembled at the Alfa Romeo Arese Plant in Milan. In early 1994 the first GTV was produced, with 2.0 Twin Spark engine. The first premiere was then held at the Paris Motor Show in 1994. The GTV and Spider were officially launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1995 and sales began the same year. The cars were well received. At launch, many journalists commented that Alfa had improved overall build quality considerably and that it came very close to equalling its German rivals. I can vouch for that, as I owned an early GTV for eighteen months, and it was a well built and reliable car. In 1997 a new engine, a 24-valve 3.0 litre V6, was available for the GTV along with bigger, 12.0 inch brakes and red four-pot calipers from Brembo. The console knobs were changed from round central to rectangle ones and to a three-spoke steering wheel. Some versions were upgraded with different front bumper mesh to bring the wind noise down to 74 dBA. In May 1998 the cars were revamped for the first time, creating the Phase 2 models. Most of the alterations were inside. The interior was changed with new centre console, painted letters on skirt seals, changed controls and switches arrangement and different instrument cluster. Outside, the main changes included chrome frame around the grille and colour-coded side skirts and bumpers. A new engine was introduced, the 142 bhp 1.8 Twin Spark, and others were changed: the 2.0 Twin Spark was updated with a modular intake manifold with different length intakes and a different plastic cover. Power output of the 2.0 TS was raised to 153 bhp. Engines changed engine management units and have a nomenclature of CF2. The dashboard was available in two new colours in addition to the standard black: Red Style and Blue Style, and with it new colour-coded upholstery and carpets. The 3.0 24V got a six-speed manual gearbox as standard and the 2.0 V6 TB engine was now also available for the Spider. August 2000 saw the revamp of engines to comply with new emission regulations, Euro3. The new engines were slightly detuned, and have a new identification code: CF3. 3.0 V6 12V was discontinued for the Spider and replaced with 24V Euro3 version from the GTV. 2.0 V6 Turbo and 1.8 T.Spark were discontinued as they did not comply with Euro3 emissions. By the 2001-2002 model year, only 2 engines were left, the 2.0 Twin.Spark and 3.0 V6 24V, until the Phase 3 engine range arrived. The Arese plant, where the cars had been built, was closing and, in October 2000, the production of GTV/Spider was transferred to Pininfarina Plant in San Giorgio Canavese in Turin. In 2003 there was another and final revamp, creating the Phase 3, also designed in Pininfarina but not by Enrico Fumia. The main changes were focused on the front with new 147-style grille and different front bumpers with offset numberplate holder. Change to the interior was minimal with different centre console and upholstery pattern and colours available. Instrument illumination colour was changed from green to red. Main specification change is an ASR traction control, not available for 2.0 TS Base model. New engines were introduced: 163 bhp 2.0 JTS with direct petrol injection and 237 hp 3.2 V6 24V allowing a 158 mph top speed. Production ceased in late 2004, though some cars were still available for purchase till 2006. A total of 80,747 cars were made, and sales of the GTV and Spider were roughly equal. More V6 engined GTVs than Spiders were made, but in 2.0 guise, it was the other way round with the open model proving marginally more popular.
There was also a Giulia Quadrifolgio here, the highly rated top of the range that finally reached British shores at the start of 2018 after a very long wait.
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.
The Audi Coupé (B2, Typ 81/85) was produced from 1980 to 1988, as a less expensive version of its turbocharged, permanent four-wheel drive Audi Quattro without turbocharger(s) or four wheel drive. Later, quattro was added as an option (Typ 85). Typ 81 was the internal model code for front-wheel drive Audi Coupés. The Coupé, first displayed at the Paris Salon 1980, featured a similar body shape to the Quattro, but without the knife-edged fender flares of the more expensive car. Mechanically, the biggest changes from the Quattro to the Coupé were the use of a naturally aspirated 1.9-litre carburettor petrol engine, 2.0-litre, 2.1-, 2.2-, or 2.3-litre fuel injected inline five-cylinder engine and a front-wheel drive drivetrain. Some lesser Coupés were also fitted with a 1.8-litre inline four-cylinder engine, injected or carburetted, and for the very first year of production a 1.6-litre “YN” 75 PS engine was available. The short-lived 1.6 was the only Coupé not to be fitted with a black rear spoiler. The Coupé was available as just plain “Coupé” or GL (four-cylinders only), “Coupé GT”, and “Coupé quattro” (without the GT tag). From 1986 until the end of production in late 1988, the Coupé GT was also available with the 110–112 PS 1.8-litre PV/DZ inline-four best known from the Golf GTi. For the last model year, the new 2,309 cc “NG” five cylinder was available, offering 136 PS at 5,600 rpm. This engine became available during 1987 for the last of the Audi Coupés sold in the US, where it produced 130 hp at 5,700 rpm as opposed to the 110 hp at 5,500 rpm available from the 2.2-litre five which had been used since the facelift for model year 1985. The Coupé had originally gone on sale in the US late in model year 1981 with the 100 hp 2,144 cc five-cylinder also used in the 5000 (Audi 100). The updated Coupé, introduced after the German industrial holidays in the autumn of 1984, was given new, slightly sloped radiator grille and headlights, a large wrap-around bumper with integrated spotlights and turn signals, plastic sill covers, and the large rear spoiler from the Audi Quattro. These changes brought the drag coefficient down to 0.36. A new dashboard was also introduced, as was a new interior. GL and standard versions were cancelled for model year 1987 and all FWD Coupés were from then referred to as “Coupé GT”. For the 1986 model year, the Coupés (as with all Audis) were available with more catalysed engine options. Also, the entire B2 range (Audi 80/90/Coupé) received stainless steel exhausts (for European markets at least). Also in September 1984, Audi made available the option of the quattro permanent four-wheel drive system to produce the Audi Coupé quattro, a model which was rarer than the turbocharged Quattro model. While most common with the 2.2-litre engine (also 2.3 for the last year, introduced 1987 for the US), in some markets the 1.8-litre four-cylinder models (90 and 112 PS engines) were also available with four-wheel drive. The Coupé and Coupé quattro models appear almost identical from the outside except for a few minor “quattro” specifics. While the GT had “COUPE GT” on the rear side windows, the CQ had the “quattro” decal as used on the Ur-Quattro. Similarly at the rear, the badging was “GT” and “quattro” respectively. The quattro versions also used the Ur-Quattro rear windscreen with “quattro” written into the heater elements (very obviously so on a cold and frosty morning), and the front grille was also adorned with the “quattro” badge from the Ur-Q. Inside, the cabin was identical except that the centre console received a differential lock switch, and LED bargraph displays in place of the GT’s three analogue-style gauges. Some Coupé quattros were distinguished by a body-coloured rear spoiler. Mechanically, the Coupé quattro depended on a combination of components from the GT and the Audi 80 quattro. The quattro permanent four-wheel drive drivetrain was almost identical to that used on the Ur-Quattro – the main differences being the use of the Coupé GT front struts, smaller 10 in diameter front brake disks, and lower ratios in the gearbox and rear differential. The damper and spring rates were also different from the Ur-Q. It was thus largely identical to the Audi 90 quattro and the North American Audi 4000 quattro. Wheels were 6.0Jx14″, with steel or aluminium alloy rims dependent on the market. 7.0Jx15″ Ronals, almost identical to the Ur-Quattro wheels, were also available. The CQ/90Q/4000Q also received their own exhaust manifold and downpipe. From September 1980 to September 1987, 174,687 Typ 81 Coupés were built. Quattro production ran from late 1984 to 1988, and was in the total region of 8,000 cars. This was one of the early models.
I felt a particularly soft spot for this B5 generation Audi S4, as I owned a car just like this one, even down to the Nogano Blue colour, from mid 2003 until March 2005 the first of a series of S-badged Audis that I would have. This was the second generation S4 (Type 8D), though the first one had in fact been a derivative of the larger Audi 100/A6 model. This car debuted in 1997, with factory production commencing October 1997, as part of the facelifted B5 platform Audi A4 line-up. In addition to the saloon, an S4 Avant was introduced into the lineup from 1998. Production of the B5 S4 ceased in September 2001, The B5 S4 features a 2.7-litre twin-turbo (‘biturbo’) 90° third-generation V6 engine with two lightweight aluminium alloy cylinder heads. The valvetrain includes five valves per cylinder, twin hybrid-driven (timing belt and roller chain) double overhead camshafts and variable valve timing for the inlet valves. The intake air is pressurized by two parallel water-cooled BorgWarner K03-series turbochargers; the charged air is cooled by two side-mounted air-to-air intercoolers (SMICs). It displaces 2,671cc and is rated to produce 261 bhp at 5,800 rpm, and generates 400 Nm (295 lbf/ft) of torque at 1,850 rpm. As in the previous S4, a six-speed C90 manual transmission was standard equipment, as was the Torsen T-2 quattro permanent all-wheel drive system. A five-speed ZF 5HP19 tiptronic automatic transmission became available for the first time as an option. The B5 S4 claims acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (0.0 to 62.1 mph) in 5.6 seconds, and had an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h (155.3 mph), making it both the quickest saloon/sedan in the Audi model line, and among the quickest saloon/sedans in the world at that time. I certainly enjoyed driving mine.
There were a couple of open-topped sporting Audi models here, too: the first generation R8 Spyder and a TT-S Roadster.
The Mulsanne Speed that I had seen on a previous visit was here once again.
Also a car that you can be pretty sure of seeing here was the M2, a popular choice among venue attendees, it would seem. The M2 was first revealed in Need for Speed: No Limits on November 2015, before later premiering at the North American International Auto Show in January 2016. Production commenced in October 2015 and is only available as a rear-wheel drive coupé. The M2 is powered by the turbocharged 3.0-litre N55B30T0 straight-six engine producing 365 bhp at 6,500 rpm and 465 Nm (343 lb/ft) between 1,450–4,750 rpm, while an overboost function temporarily increases torque to 500 N⋅m (369 lb⋅ft). The M2 features pistons from the F80 M3 and F82 M4, and has lighter aluminium front and rear suspension components resulting in a 5 kg (11 lb) weight reduction. The M2 is available with a 6-speed manual or with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission which features a ‘Smokey Burnout’ mode] 0-100 km/h acceleration times are 4.5 seconds manual transmission models and 4.3 seconds for models equipped with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h (155 mph) but can be extended to 270 km/h (168 mph) with the optional M Driver’s package. The M2 Competition was introduced at the 2018 Beijing Auto Show and succeeded the standard M2 Coupé. Production began in July 2018. The M2 Competition uses the high performance S55 engine which is a variant of the 3.0-litre twin turbocharged straight six engine found in the F80 M3 and F82 M4. The engine features a redesigned oil supply system and modified cooling system from the BMW M4 with the Competition Package, and also features a gasoline particulate filter in certain European Union countries to reduce emissions. Compared to the standard M2, the S55 produces an additional 30 kW (40 hp) and 85 Nm (63 lb/ft), resulting in a larger and more sustained power output of 405 bhp between 5,370–7,200 rpm, and 550 N⋅m (406 lb⋅ft) at 2,350–5,230 rpm. The 0-100 km/h acceleration time is 4.4 seconds for six-speed manual transmission models, and 4.2 seconds for models with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph), but the M Driver’s package can extend the limit to 280 km/h (174 mph) which is 10 km/h (6 mph) further than in the M2. The M2 Competition also has a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic strut bar, enlarged kidney grilles, and larger brake discs of 400 mm (15.7 in) in the front axle and 380 mm (15.0 in) in the rear axle. Because of the new engine and cooling system, the M2 Competition is 55 kg (121 lb) heavier than the standard M2 at 1,550 kg (3,417 lb) for manual transmission models and 1,575 kg (3,472 lb) for dual-clutch transmission models. It remains in production.
This is the new Cupra Ateca, the first model to bear the branding that Spanish parent SEAT plan to use for their most sporting offerings, The Ateca went on sale around the turn of the year, to mixed reviews. You need to look quite carefully to spot the Cupra badging though the copper-colour used in some places does aid recognition.
Oldest car of the day, by some margin is this 1924 3.5 litre Tourer.
The Ferrari FF (FF meaning “Ferrari Four”, for four seats and four-wheel drive, the Type F151) is a grand tourer presented by Ferrari on March 1, 2011 at the Geneva Motor Show as a successor to the 612 Scaglietti and is Ferrari’s first production four-wheel drive model. The body style has been described as a shooting-brake, a type of sporting hatchback/estate car with two doors. With a top speed of f 335 km/h (208 mph) and it accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.7 seconds, Ferrari stated that the FF was the world’s fastest four-seat automobile upon its release to the public. At the time of its reveal, the Ferrari FF had the largest road-going Ferrari engine ever produced: an F140 EB 6,262 cc naturally aspirated direct injected 65° V12, which produced 660 PS (485 kW; 651 hp) at 8,000 rpm and 683 N⋅m (504 lb⋅ft) of torque at 6000 rpm. The FF is equipped with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and paddle shift system similar to the California, the 458 Italia, and the Ferrari F12berlinetta. The new four-wheel drive system, engineered and patented by Ferrari, is called 4RM: it is around 50% lighter than a conventional system, and provides power intelligently to each of the four wheels as needed. It functions only when the manettino dial on the steering wheel is in the “comfort” or “snow” positions, leaving the car most often in the traditional rear wheel drive layout. Ferrari’s first use of 4RM was in a prototype created in the end of the 80s, called 408 4RM (abbreviation of “4.0 litre, 8 cylinder, 4 Ruote Motrici”, meaning “four-wheel drive”). This system is based around a second, simple, gearbox (gears and other components built by Carraro Engineering), taking power from the front of the engine. This gearbox (designated “power take off unit”, or PTU) has only two forward gears (2nd and 4th) plus reverse (with gear ratios 6% taller than the corresponding ratios in the main gearbox), so the system is only active in 1st to 4th gears. The connection between this gearbox and each front wheel is via independent Haldex-type clutches, without a differential. Due to the difference in ratios “the clutches continually slip” and only transmit, at most, 20% of the engine’s torque. A detailed description of the system (based on a conversation with Roberto Fedeli, Ferrari’s technical director) has been published. The FF shares the design language of contemporary Ferraris, including the pulled-back headlights of the 458 Italia, and the twin circular taillights seen on the 458 as well as the 599 GTB Fiorano. Designed under the direction of Lowie Vermeersch, former Design Director at Pininfarina, and Flavio Manzoni, Ferrari’s Styling Centre, work on the shooting brake concept initially started following the creation of the Sintesi show car of 2007. Distinctive styling elements include a large egg-crate grille, defined side skirts, and four exhaust tips. The shooting brake configuration is a departure from the conventional wedge shape of modern Ferraris, and the FF has been likened to the similarly-shaped 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Drogo race car. The combination of hatchback-like shooting-brake design and collapsible rear seats gives the Ferrari FF a boot capacity of between 16 and 28 cu ft. Luxury is the main element of the interior and the use of Leather is incorporated throughout, just like the predecessors of the FF. Creature comforts like premium air conditioning, GPS navigation system, carpeting and sound system are also used. An updated version. called the GTC4 Lusso was launched in 2016 by which 2291 examples had been built.
The successor to the 500 was the 126, which arrived in the autumn of 1972. Initially it was produced alongside the 500, which stayed in production until 1976. The 126 used much of the same mechanical underpinnings and layout as its Fiat 500 rear-engined predecessor with which it shared its wheelbase, but featured an all new bodyshell resembling a scaled-down Fiat 127, also enhancing safety. Engine capacity was increased from 594 cc to 652 cc at the end of 1977 when the cylinder bore was increased from 73.5 to 77 mm. Claimed power output was unchanged at 23 PS, but torque was increased from 39 Nm (29 lb/ft) to 43 Nm (32 lb/ft). A slightly less basic DeVille version arrived at the same time, identified by its large black plastic bumpers and side rubbing strips. A subsequent increase in engine size to 704 cc occurred with the introduction of the 126 Bis in 1987. This had 26 PS, and a water cooled engine, as well as a rear hatchback. Initially the car was produced in Italy in the plants of Cassino and Termini Imerese, with 1,352,912 of the cars made in Italy, but from 1979, production was concentrated solely in Poland, where the car had been manufactured by FSM since 1973 as the Polski Fiat 126p. Even after the introduction of the 126 Bis the original model continued to be produced for the Polish market. The car was also produced under licence by Zastava in Yugoslavia. Western European sales ceased in 1991, ready for the launch of the Cinquecento, but the car continued to be made for the Polish market. In 1994, the 126p received another facelift, and some parts from the Fiat Cinquecento, this version was named 126 EL. The 126 ELX introduced a catalytic converter. Despite clever marketing, the 126 never achieved the popularity of the 500, with the total number produced being: 1,352,912 in Italy, 3,318,674 in Poland, 2,069 in Austria, and an unknown number in Yugoslavia. This one would appear to be one of the Polish cars, badged 126P.
All three generations of the Focus RS were here.
Also representing Fast Fords were a number of Fiesta ST models. The current one, finally available last summer was joined by the limited production ST200 version of its predecessor.
Three different generations of the Mustang were here, too. Oldest of them was a 1968 car and then there were examples both of the current model, finally available to order directly in the UK in right hand drive form, as well as its predecessor, the car which debuted in 2004 with something of a retro style which proved very popular and helped generate something of a renaissance for the car.
Known internally at Rootes as the “Apex” project, the Imp was to be the group’s first post-Second World War small car. Its main rival on the home market was the BMC Mini, which preceded the Imp by almost four years. Launched in May 1963, much was expected of this promising small car, which was all-new and which was built in a new factory in Linwood in Scotland, far away from the rest of the Rootes Group’s facilities in the Coventry area. Conceived as a direct competitor to the BMC’s Mini, it adopted a different approach to packaging, with a space-saving rear-engine and rear-wheel-drive layout to allow as much luggage and passenger capacity as possible in both the rear and the front of the car. It used a unique opening rear hatch to allow luggage to be put into the back seat rest. In addition to its 875 cc all-aluminium power unit, adapted by Rootes from a Coventry Climax FWMA fire pump engine it was the first mass-produced British car to have an engine in the back and the first car to use a diaphragm spring clutch. The baulk-ring synchromesh unit for the transaxle compensated for the speeds of gear and shaft before engagement, which the Mini had suffered from during its early production years. It incorporated many design features which were uncommon in cars until the late 1970s such as a folding rear bench seat, automatic choke and gauges for temperature, voltage and oil pressure. At launch it was considered advanced for the time, but reliability problems quickly harmed its reputation, which led to the Rootes Group being taken over by Chrysler Europe in 1967. Over the life of the car, Rootes (and later Chrysler UK) produced four body styles. The original saloon was introduced in May 1963 and ran through to the end of production in 1976. It has an opening rear window, making it effectively a hatchback. The opening rear window was intended to make it easier to load the small luggage area behind the fold-down rear seat. The fold-down nature of the rear seat was itself unusual in small car design at the time, being more often associated with larger upmarket estate cars. In 1965 a van badged as the “Commer Imp” was introduced. A coupe, the Imp Californian, was introduced in 1967 at the same time as the van’s pressings were used to create an estate car, badged “Hillman Husky”. Several estate car prototypes using the saloon body with extended rooflines were tried, but never offered to the public. Instead, buyers choosing the estate had to settle for a van-derived car with somewhat unusual styling. Both the van and estate ceased production in 1970. In an attempt to interest a wider public when sales figures fell well short of the intended 100,000 cars per annum, several badge-engineered derivatives, such as the luxury Singer Chamois (launched October 1964), and the Sunbeam Sport (launched October 1966), with a more powerful twin-carburettor engine, were offered with varying degrees of success. For marketing reasons the Singer variants were sold as Sunbeams in many export markets, even before May 1970 when the Singer marque was discontinued altogether by Chrysler UK. In some markets, such as France, the “Sunbeam” name was used on all British Rootes products, including the Imp and the Husky. The coupe bodyshell is similar to the standard body but features a more shallow-raked windscreen and rear window which, unlike that on the standard bodied cars, can not be opened. The attempt at a more sporty design did not translate into better acceleration or top speed figures and the aerodynamics of the standard saloon are actually slightly better. The new body style made its first appearance at the Paris Motor Show in October 1967, with the introduction of the sporting Sunbeam Stiletto. The coupe body had also appeared, with less powerful engines, in the Hillman Imp Californian announced in January 1967 and the more luxurious Singer Chamois coupe. Production continued to 1976, and around 440,00 units were sold, a far cry from the figures achieved by the Mini, which sold at about 10 times that rate.
There have been Honda Civic models all the way back to 1972, with ten distinct generations offered in that time. Three of them were to be seen here. Oldest was a first generation car, a model you see very rarely these days, and whilst this one was far from pristine, it was still good to see a reminder of how it all started. The first generation Honda Civic was introduced on 11 July 1972, but sold as a 1973 model in Japan. It was equipped with a 1,169 cc four-cylinder water-cooled engine and featured front power disc brakes, reclining vinyl bucket seats, simulated wood trim on the dashboard, as well as optional air conditioning and an AM/FM radio. The Civic was available as a two door saloon, both a three- and a five-door hatchback, as well as a five-door station wagon, though this latter was never sold in the UK. Due to the 1973 oil crisis, consumer demand for fuel efficient vehicles was high, and due to the engine being able to run on either leaded or unleaded fuel, it gave drivers fuel choice flexibility over other vehicles. The CVCC engine debuted in December 1973, with a head design that allowed for more efficient combustion, and as a benefit the CVCC system did not require a catalytic converter or unleaded fuel to meet 1975 Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards for hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. The Civic was joined by a platform expansion of the three-door hatchback, called the Honda Accord in 1976. It was replaced by the second generation car in 1979.
This Type R model comes from the sixth generation. Introduced in September 1995, with 3-door hatchback, 4-door sedan and 2-door coupe bodystyles, replicating its predecessor’s line-up. A 5-door hatchback was also produced to replace the Honda Concerto hatchback in Europe but this model, while using the same design language as the rest of the Civic range, was quite distinct, instead being a hatchback version of the Honda Domani, sharing that car’s platform which was related to the fifth-generation (EG/EH/EJ) Civic. The Domani replaced the sedan version of the Concerto in Japan while the sedan version of the Concerto was directly replaced by the sixth generation Civic sedan in other markets. Two wagons were also made available; the JDM Orthia, based on the Civic sedan/3-door hatchback line, and a 5-door hatchback/Domani based model, sold as Civic Aerodeck, in Europe. Neither were offered in North America. The Civic 5-door hatchback also formed the basis for the 1995 Rover 400 although the 4-door sedan version of the Rover was quite distinct from the Domani. At its introduction in 1995, it won the Car of the Year Japan Award for the third time. The Type R version was , sold only in the Japanese domestic market, and only available as a hatchback and a 5-speed manual with LSD as the only available transmission. This model was equipped with the B16B 182 bhp at 8,200 rpm) (AKA PCT), which is essentially a destroked, but powerful, version of the B18C engine from the Integra Type R. The chassis was given the designation EK9. The EK9 was very special as it was essentially based on the JDM EK4 SiR but taken out of the production line and given additional reinforcement to the chassis and body shell. Weight was also meticulously removed to create a light weight racecar feel. Other additions over the EK4 were bigger brakes,5 stud wheel hub, quicker steering ratio, specially tuned suspension, Recaro seats, MOMO steering wheel, titanium shift knob, front lip spoiler, rear wing, smoked headlights and a hand built engine that embodied the racing spirit of Honda. This engine featured a hand polished cylinder head, lighter flywheel, redesigned cam profiles, high compression pistons and balanced crankshaft. The gearbox was fitted with a helical type limited slip differential. A number of these cars have subsequently found their way to the UK.
The eighth generation was released in September 2005, for the 2006 model year. For the eighth generation, Honda split the model into two different platforms, one for sedan and coupe, and one for a hatchback designed primarily for the European market using a simpler rear suspension from the Honda Fit and more aggressive styling. As of 2006, a total of 16.5 million Civics had been sold worldwide, with 7.3 million of them in the United States. Although the North American and the home market model differ externally, they are mechanically identical. The hatchback is available as a three and five-door. Both Si and Type R trim levels continued although the Japanese and European Type R, while sharing the same engine size, are mechanically different. In the US, an improved, sportier version of the Civic Si 4-door tuned by tuner Mugen was offered, featuring cosmetic alterations and changes to the suspension, wheels, slight exterior differences, and exhaust system. A Canadian only Acura model received a new nameplate, changing from the Acura EL to the Acura CSX. The end of this model generation also marked a hiatus of the Civic Type R in Japan, with no successor model until the later tenth generation, going on sale mid-2017.
This is an Integra type R and is from the fourth and final generation of the car, often referred to as the DC5, which is the Honda internal reference fro the car. The fourth generation Integra was introduced in Japan on April 13, 2001 and produced from July 2001 to July 2006. For North America (United States and Canada), it was introduced as the Acura RSX in accordance with Acura’s new alphabetical naming scheme. It also had an entirely new engine, the K-series. The Integra came in two models in the United States, the RSX and the RSX Type-S boasting the K20A2 engine from 2002 to 2004, while the 2005 and 2006 RSX-S came with a K20Z1. The RSX was sold as a Honda Integra in Japan and Australia, markets where Acura did not exist. In March 2006, Honda announced that the Integra would be discontinued in June after its final 300 cars were sold, due to the shrinkage of the coupe market. The reaction of the consumers towards the discontinuation, however, forced Honda to extend production until July 2006 and produce 150 more Integras. The Acura RSX was discontinued as well, as the RSX did not fit within the confines of Acura’s re-structured market strategy. This left the Acura TSX as Acura’s entry-level vehicle. Also, the introduction of the similarly powerful and less expensive 2006 model-year Honda Civic Si was there to fill in the gap left by the RSX. The DC5 Type R (Japanese market only) comes standard with a K20A 220 hp 2.0 litre DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder engine. The “i” in i-VTEC stands for intelligent VTEC, which employs VTC (Variable Timing Control) to advance or retard the intake cam timing within a 50 degree range. The Integra Type R comes equipped with Recaro seats, four-piston Brembo front brakes, a close ratio six-speed manual transmission, a limited-slip differential, variable back-pressure exhaust system, and a stiffer suspension.
There was also a nice example here of the S2000, the much missed sports car that Honda produced to mark their 50th anniversary. The S2000 was first alluded to at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show, with the Honda Sport Study Model (SSM) concept car, a rear-wheel-drive roadster powered by a 2.0 litre inline 4-cylinder engine and featuring a rigid ‘high X-bone frame’ which Honda claimed improved the vehicle’s rigidity and collision safety. The concept car was constructed with aluminium body panels and featured a 50:50 weight distribution. The SSM appeared at many automotive shows for several years afterwards, hinting at the possibility of a production version, which Honda finally announced in 1999. It featured a front mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout with power being delivered by a 1,997 cc inline 4-cylinder DOHC-VTEC engine. The engine produced outputs of 237–247 hp, and 153–161 lb/ft depending on the target market., and it was mated to a six-speed manual transmission and Torsen limited slip differential. The S2000 achieved what Honda claimed as “the world’s top level, high performance 4-cylinder naturally aspirated engine”. Features included independent double wishbone suspension, electrically assisted steering and integrated roll hoops. The compact and lightweight engine, mounted entirely behind the front axle, allowed the S2000 to achieve a 50:50 front/rear weight distribution and lower rotational inertia. An electrically powered vinyl top with internal cloth lining was standard, with an aluminium hardtop available as an optional extra. Although the S2000 changed little visually during its production run, there were some alterations, especially in 2004, at which point production of the S2000 moved to Suzuka. The facelifted car introduced 17 in wheels and Bridgestone RE-050 tyres along with a retuned suspension to reduce oversteer. The spring rates and shock absorber damping were altered and the suspension geometry modified to improve stability by reducing toe-in changes under cornering loads. The subframe has also received a revision in design to achieve a high rigidity. In the gearbox the brass synchronisers were replaced with carbon fibre. In addition, cosmetic changes were made to the exterior with new front and rear bumpers, revised headlight assemblies, new LED tail-lights, and oval-tipped exhausts. Although all the cosmetic, suspension and most drivetrain upgrades were included on the Japanese and European S2000s, they retained the 2.0l F20C engine and remained designated as an AP1. A number of special editions were made, such as the more track-oriented Club Racer version offered in the US in 2007/8 and the Type S for Japan in 2008/9. The UK received a GT for 2009, which featured a removable hard-top and an outside temperature gauge. The S2000 Ultimate Edition (continental Europe) and GT Edition 100 (UK) were limited versions of the S2000 released to commemorate the end of production. Both included Grand Prix White body colour, removable hard top, graphite-coloured alloy wheels, red leather interior with red colouring for stitching on the gear lever gaiter. The Ultimate Edition was unveiled at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show and went on sale in March 2009. The GT Edition 100 was a limited run of 100 units released for the UK market. In addition to the Ultimate Edition’s specification, it featured a black S2000 badge and a numbered plaque on the kick-plate indicating which vehicle in the series it was. The car was never replaced, as Honda decided to head off in the same direction as Toyota, producing a series of very dull appliance-like cars that focused on low emissions and dependability but of no appeal to the sort of enthusiast who bought (and probably kept!) an S2000.
Once again, the i30N loaned to the venue as well as a number of other examples of the model were to be seen around the site.
One of the most loved Jaguars of all time, both when it was new, and still now, is the Mark 2 saloon. Many will tell you that it is not the 3 Series BMW that “invented” the “compact sports saloon” car class, but this model, which dates back to 1959. A thorough revision of the small Jaguar saloon that had joined the range in 1955, the Mark 2 was notable in that it was the first car to use the Arabic numeral in its name, as opposed to the Roman numerals of the larger Jaguar models. At launch, the earlier model which had hitherto been known by its engine size was christened the Mark 1. Although clearly based on that car, the updated car looked significantly different, with an increase of 18% in cabin glass area greatly improving visibility. The car was re-engineered above the waistline. Slender front pillars allowed a wider windscreen and the rear window almost wrapped around to the enlarged side windows now with the familiar Jaguar D-shape above the back door and fully chromed frames for all the side windows. The radiator grille was amended and larger side, tail and fog lamps repositioned. Inside a new heating system was fitted and ducted to the rear compartment (although still notoriously ineffective). There was an improved instrument layout that became standard for all Jaguar cars until the XJ Series II of 1973. As well as the familiar 2.4 and 3.4 litre engines, what made this car particularly special was that it was also offered with the potent 220 bhp 3.8 litre unit that was fitted to the XK150 and which would later see service in the E Type. This gave the car a 0 – 60 time of around 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 125 mph. No wonder that the Mark 2 became popular as a get-away car for the criminal fraternity, and to keep up with and catch them, many police forces bought the car as well. With revised suspension and standard four wheel disc brakes, the car was effective on the track, taking plenty of class wins when new, and it is still popular in historic racing circles today. The quickest and most successful private entries came from John Coombs, a man with significant race experience who operated a large Jaguar dealership in Guildford. Coombs would undertake modifications to meet the demands of his customers, so not all the cars that he worked on are the same. Jaguar replaced the Mark 2 with simplified and slightly more cheaply finished 240 and 340 models, as an interim measure until an all-new model was ready to take over from them. The 3.8 litre disappeared from the range at this time, but in the 7 years it had been in production, it had been the best seller of the range, with around 30,000 cars produced, as compared to 28,666 of the 3.4 litre and 25,741 of the 2.4 litre model.
Now something of a rarity, this is a Lada 1500, known in its home market as the VAZ-2103 Zhiguli. It was introduced in 1972 and produced until 1984, the car was developed jointly by VAZ and FIAT at the same time as Fiat 124 Special, and the two models had the same basis and influenced each other. The 2103 was built under license and tailored for the Soviet and Eastern European market. The 2103 externally differs from its predecessor, the VAZ-2101 firstly by its four, that is, double sets of headlights, different grille and direction pointers, mouldings on the sides of the body and larger taillights. Its main difference – the more powerful 75 bhp 1,452 cc straight four petrol engine. In addition, this model is distinguished by the presence of vacuum brake booster as well as self-adjusting rear brakes and internally on new, Fiat 125 based, front panel along with its steering wheel and improved dashboard featuring wood imitation, tachometer, oil pressure gauge and front panel clock. The main differences between the VAZ-2103 and the Fiat 124 Special are the use of thicker-gauge steel for the bodyshell (so the 2103 weighed 1,030 kg (2,270 lb), the Fiat 105 kg (231 lb) less, an overhead camshaft engine (in place of the original Fiat OHV unit), and the use of aluminium drum brakes on the rear wheels in place of disc brakes. The car featured a starting handle for cranking the engine manually should the battery go flat in Siberian winter conditions, auxiliary fuel pump as well as improved soundproofing. It was later joined by the 1,198 cc powered 21035 and 1,294 cc VAZ 21011-engined 21033. VAZ were forbidden from selling the car in competing markets alongside the Fiat 124; however exports to Western European nations began in 1974 when the 124 was discontinued in favour of Fiat’s newer 131 Mirafiori model. The VAZ-2103 was sold in export markets from mid-1970s to early 1980. In the United Kingdom it was sold from May 1976 until May 1979 and it was the second Lada car to be sold in this market. Although starting to be slowly replaced with its successor, the VAZ-2106 already from 1976, it was still produced as far as 1984 and was the first VAZ model to be discontinued, despite not being the oldest one. It was mainly due to complexity of production and expense of its chrome lined elements which were severely reduced in VAZ-2106. Most remaining Lada models went back to Russia during the 1990s, so they are a rare sight these days.
This Continental Mark V made quite an impact on arrival. The car itself was also going to draw plenty of attention, but so did the driver and his passenger who were dressed in a style which canonly be described as fitting that of the car in period. The Continental Mark V is a personal luxury coupe that was marketed by the Lincoln division of Ford Motor Company from the 1977 to 1979 model years in North America. The fourth generation Mark series, the Mark V was derived from its Continental Mark IV predecessor, bringing an extensive update to the interior and exterior design. While only sold for three years, the Mark V is the best-selling generation of the Mark series, with 228,262 examples produced. At 230 inches long, the Mark V is the largest two-door coupe ever sold by Ford Motor Company, with the 233-inch long two-door and four-door Lincoln Continental sedans (produced alongside it) as the only longer vehicle ever marketed by Ford. Distinguished by its sharp-edged exterior design, design themes of the Mark V would be adapted onto Lincoln vehicles throughout the 1980s. For 1980, the Mark V was replaced by the Continental Mark VI. As the Mark series underwent downsizing in the interest of fuel economy, the Mark VI saw significant reductions in exterior dimensions. All Continental Mark Vs were assembled alongside the Lincoln Continental at the now-closed Wixom Assembly Plant in Wixom, Michigan.
As well as the regular Elise S2 car, there was also a Sport version here with a particularly large rear spoiler.
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.
Lotus dusted off the Europa name for a new car In 2005, based on the Elise, which was officially introduced at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show. Lotus Europa S production commenced in July 2006 and continued to 2010. The engine was a 2.0 litre turbo delivering 197 bhp at 5,400 rpm, with a maximum torque of 272 N·m (201 lb·ft) at 5,400 rpm, delivering 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds and a maximum speed of 143 mph. Lotus did not export the Europa S to the USA, but despite this, the American manufacturer Dodge developed an electric vehicle based on the Europa, known as the Dodge Circuit, which it planned to bring to the US market by 2010, but the project was cancelled in May 2009. The Europa SE was unveiled at the Geneva International Motor Show on 5 March 2008. The Europa was an upgraded model with more comfort in mind, intended to bring in more customers. The Europa S motor was modified to bring power to 222 bhp and torque to 300 N·m (221 lb·ft). Neither version was a success, though and the Europa was discontinued in 2010 after a short model life.
This is a Mantara, one of the many models that Marcos produced following their relaunch in the late 1980s. Designed by brothers Dennis and Peter Adams, this well-known car caused something of a sensation when it was shown at the 1964 Racing Car Show. Known as the Marcos 1800, it had a glassfibre body, with a wooden chassis and was offered for sale fully built or in kit form. This was to be the design that would become familiar to sports car enthusiasts for more than 30 years, even though the original plywood chassis would later be replaced by a steel chassis and the futuristic scalloped dashboard also vanished after a few years. The plywood chassis was glued together from 386 separate pieces and was not only light and strong, but also required a minimum up front investment to construct. The extremely low Marcos required a nearly supine driving position and fixed seats, mounted lower than the floor of the car. In return, the entire pedal set could be moved fore and aft with a knob on the dashboard. If this proved not to be enough Marcos also offered optional booster pillows. This setup, with the fixed seats, remained until the end of Marcos production in late 2007. The original Marcos 1800 had a two-spoke steering wheel and a novel dash with a prominent centre console, a rather expensive design which did not survive onto the Ford-engined cars. The entire nose portion, of a long and tapered design, was hinged at the front and was held down by latches behind the front wheelwells. It used the cast-iron four-cylinder 96 hp Volvo 1778 cc B18 unit with overdrive gearbox from the Volvo P1800S enough for a 116 mph top speed and a 0-60 mph time of 8.2 seconds. Successful in competition, the rather expensive 1800 sold very slowly, and after the first 33 cars the de Dion rear suspension was replaced by a live Ford axle. The price was dropped from ₤1500 to ₤1340, but it was not enough to make the car profitable. Cars were stockpiling in 1966, and after 106 (or 99) had been built, the 1800 was replaced by the Ford-engined 1500. Normally fitted with a four-speed manual transmission a five-speed one was also available, allowing for a higher top speed. According to some sources, a few of the last cars built had the 2 litre Volvo B20 engine fitted, as did some of the racing cars. The 1800 is the only Marcos that is eligible for historic racing and as such is considerably more valuable today than later models. In 1966 the GT was changed to a pushrod inline-four Ford Kent engine of 1500 cc, in order to lower costs as the 1800 had been rather too expensive to market. The complex dash was also replaced with a flat polished wood unit, which was soon downgraded further yet to a mass-produced “wood-effect” one. Power and performance were both down on the 1800, but sales increased considerably. To hide the fact that a common Ford engine was used, Marsh replaced the rocker covers with Marcos ones and switched from Weber to Stromberg carburettors. An overbored Lawrencetune 1650 cc version was made available in 1967 (32 built) to ameliorate the power shortage, for the Marcos 1650 GT. The 1650 also had bigger disc brakes and a standard Webasto sunroof, but proved somewhat less than reliable It and the 1500 were both replaced by Ford’s new Crossflow four not much later, in late 1967. The 1600 proved to be the most popular model yet, with 192 cars built until early 1969. Weight was 740 kg (1,631 lb) and disc brakes up front were standard, although power assist was an optional extra. Production ended in October 1969 as the new steel chassis was not well suited for the crossflow engine. A new model, the 2 litre, appeared at the January 1969 London Show with the engine changed to the Ford Essex V4 engine from the Ford Corsair – while a V6 engine had already appeared at the top of the lineup in 1968. Also in 1969, the plywood chassis was gradually replaced by a square section steel one, which shortened production time and saved on cost. These steel framed cars required a lower sill panel and have reshaped rear bumpers, as well as some subtle interior differences. The wooden chassis had also begun to meet a certain amount of resistance from buyers. There seem to have been no V4-engined wooden cars made, although there is a few months overlap between the introduction dates. The V4 received most of the same standard and optional equipment (except the overdrive) and the same central bonnet bulge as did the V6 models; very few of the Marcos 2 litres still have their V4 engines, as a V6 swap is a rather quick job and makes for a much faster car than the original’s 85 hp. It was not exactly a success story, 78 2 litres were most likely built, although numbers as low as 40 have also been mentioned. New at the October 1968 London Show was the more powerful Marcos 3 litre. Fitted with the double-carb Ford Essex V6 engine and transmission from the Ford Zodiac, production beginning in January 1969. Max power was 140 bhp and aside from the badging, this car is most easily recognised by the large, central bonnet bulge necessary to clear the larger engine. The 3 litre had a four-speed manual with a Laycock-de-Normanville Overdrive for the third and fourth gears fitted. In December 1969 a twin-carburetted 3-litre Volvo B30 straight-six became available (initially only for the US), and in 1971 eleven or twelve cars were fitted with the 150 bhp Triumph 2.5-litre straight-six. These were called the Marcos 2½ litre. As the bonnet was a close fit over the various larger engines, this resulted in a corresponding variation in the bonnet design as regards changes designed to clear engine air intakes, often the only external sign of the type of engine fitted. All inline-sixes required a rather angular bulge right of centre on the bonnet to clear the carburettors. Around this time, some V6 cars begun sporting single rectangular headlights (not on US-market cars), borrowed from the Vauxhall Viva HB. Later in 1969 the six-cylinder cars, as with their four-cylinder counterparts, received the new steel chassis. Either 100 or 119 of the wood-chassied V6 cars were built. The Ford V6 version achieved over 120 mph on test and the Volvo-engined model was not far behind it, but the heavy cast-iron engines increased nose-heaviness in comparison to the four-cylinder variants. With US sales going strong, Marcos production was up to three per week and they had to invest in a bigger space in 1969. Cars for the North Americas market had Volvo’s inline-six cylinder, 3 litre engines with a standard Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic transmissions. They sat on tubular steel space frames, have a higher ride height, and no headlight covers – all of this was in order to get US road certification. Air conditioning was also listed as an option by New York-based importers Marcos International Inc. Delays and problems with the federalised cars were beginning to mount. In 1970, 27 exported cars were impounded by US Customs for supposedly not meeting federal law, causing Marcos to withdraw entirely from the US market. Together with the development costs of the Mantis and the introduction of VAT on kit cars on the horizon, Marcos had to close its doors for what turned out to be the first time. About sixty US market cars were built, some of which were brought back after the US market dried up in 1970 and converted to RHD for sale in the home market. Production of the Volvo 3 litre continued for the rest of the world, with these cars fitted with a four-speed manual transmission. Either 80 or 172 of the Volvo I6-engined Marcos were built until early 1972, with the final one destined to become the last Marcos built for the next ten years. After Marcos had run out of money the company was sold to Hebron & Medlock Bath Engineering in mid-1971. They themselves had to call in the receivers only six months later. The Rob Walker Garage Group bought the factory only to sell off everything, including some finished cars such as all six Mark 2 1600s built. Jem Marsh bought up spares and other parts at the liquidation sale and proceeded to run a company servicing existing Marcos, until he resumed production of Marcos kits in 1981. The original GT continued to be built until 1989 or 1990, being developed into its altered Mantula form. This was further developed into more powerful and aggressively-styled designs, culminating in the 1994 LM600 (which competed in the 1995 Le Mans 24-hour race).
I was here in my Ghibli, and it was the only Maserati that I came across on site during the visit.
Now an established part of the McLaren range, the 570S along with its slightly cheaper and less powerful brother, the 540C, was 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, 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.
A couple of very different AMG-created models were here, from opposite ends of the range. The GT is the current flagship offered in both Coupe and Roadster guises in four different versions with varying amounts of power from a lot, to a lot more. It was the Coupe that was present here and it was joined by the outgoing CLA45 AMG, a car which I sampled a while back and found, although fast, to be thoroughly disappointing in just about every respect from its truly awful ride and terrible packaging to unimpressive build quality and a collection of squeaks an rattles unbefitting of any car let alone one as pricey as this.
Also here was a CL model from the W140 generation. The Mercedes-Benz W140 is a series of flagship vehicles that were manufactured by the German automotive company Mercedes-Benz from 1991 to 1998. On November 16, 1990, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the W140 S-Class via press release, later appearing in several February and March editions of magazines. The W140 made its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1991, with the first examples rolling off the production line in April 1991 and North American examples on August 6, 1991. Short (SE) and long (SEL) wheelbase sedans were offered initially, as well as the coupé (SEC = S-Klasse-Einspritzmotor (Fuel injection engine)-Coupé) body style C140 from October 1992. Like all Mercedes-Benz lines, the W140 S-Class was rationalized in late 1993 using the new “letter-first” nomenclature. The SE, SEL, and SEC cars were renamed the S-Class, with alphanumerical designations inverted. For example, the 500 SE became the S 500, and the 500 SEL became the S 500 L. In 1996 the coupé models following a mid-life update were separated into the CL-Class. As with its predecessor, the W126, the W140 was the first of the “next generation” of Mercedes-Benz models to feature the company’s new design theme. This design was adopted for the new C-Class in 1989 and during 1991 for use on the facelifted W124 in 1993. Development on the W140 began in 1981, originally set for an October 1989 production start. From 1982 to 1986 several designs were reviewed, until December 9, 1986 when a definitive design by Olivier Boulay was approved. Several prototypes were tested onwards from early 1987 and the final production exterior design was frozen in September 1987, with domestic design patents being filed on February 23, 1988 and U.S. patents six months later on August 23. The design was said by lead designer Bruno Sacco to be influenced by Jaguar’s XJ40 sedan and BMW’s E32 7-Series. Before production started, the exterior appearance of the W140 was revised in the form of the grille on all W140s being recessed as opposed to a planned exclusive grille on the top model, a feature which later spread to the rest of the Mercedes-Benz range. In 1987, an 18-month delay was made from 1989 to 1991 to accommodate a V12 engine and a high-performance braking system. This resulted in the final development prototypes being completed in June 1990. Pilot production models were made from June 1990 to January 1991. The W140 introduced innovations such as double-pane window glazing, power-assisted closing for doors and trunk lid, electric windows which lowered back down upon encountering an obstruction, rear-parking markers which rose from the rear wings (discontinued on later vehicles, and replaced with sonar-assisted parking) and a heating system which, if desired, continued to emit warm air after the engine was turned off. For details like this, the W140 is often known as the last Mercedes to be “over-engineered,” a Mercedes trait that was costing the company in product delays and overbudgeting. According to Motor Trend, this action reportedly caused project cost overruns and resulted in the departure of Wolfgang Peter, Daimler-Benz’s chief engineer. The vehicle is believed to have cost Mercedes-Benz over $1 billion to develop. For the consumer, the W140 cost a considerable 25 percent more than its predecessor, the W126. The W140 was to feature air suspension as an option, but it was dropped shortly before launch because Mercedes was still perfecting the technology at the time. Mercedes chose to launch air-suspension (AIRMATIC) in the next generation S-Class in 1998. The W140 instead used a rear hydropneumatic suspension, first introduced on the W116 450 SEL 6.9 (introduced in 1975) to be used on the S 500 and S 600 models. Following the mid-year facelift in 1995, Mercedes-Benz made Electronic Stability Control an optional fixture to both sedan and coupé body styles in the W140 range. Both the sedan and coupé body styles were equipped with Acceleration Slip Regulation (ASR) traction control as a standard feature on V8 models after the 1994 model year (V12 models always had ASR standard), and then the 1997 model year for I6 models. Like its predecessor, the car was available in two wheelbase lengths (short W140 and long V140) along with the C140 coupé. In 1991, a new M120 6 litre 402 horsepower V12 engine joined the lineup for the first time with the 600 SEL and 600 SEC. A “V12” badge was affixed to the C-pillar. In 1993, the 402 bhp ( 408 bhp Europe ) V12 engine was slightly detuned to 389 bhp to comply with tighter emission control regulations in the United States and Europe. The V8 models were tuned down from 322 to 315 bhp. This de-tuning, among other changes, involved the deletion of the full-throttle enrichment circuit,. The W140 600 SEL was available with wooden rear ash tray covers, wood/leather shift knob, leather dashboard and a suede headliner, unlike the V8 and inline 6-cylinder models. Following the facelift in 1994, the S 600 was updated with a wood/leather steering wheel, a V12 badge on the wood/leather shifter, double needle stitching all over the interior and two tone nappa leather seating – further distinctions from its lower rung siblings. In June 1993, as part of the new corporate naming campaign, the model range was renamed. This resulted in all SE and SEL models now being redesignated as “S”, being followed by the numbering. In late 1991, after worldwide launch, work begun on improvements to the W140. By the end of 1992, final design changes were approved and later patented(application) on February 27, 1993, exactly 5 years after the original W140 design patent application in 1988. In March 1994, the updated models were unveiled at the Geneva Auto Salon and went on sale in April 1994 in mainland Europe and in other markets during the second half of the year. The clear turn signal indicator lenses on the front and new taillights were the most obvious change, as was the grille including a new and distinctive one for S 600s. Headlamps were fitted with separate low H7, H1 fog, and high H1 beam reflectors in 1994; pre-1995 models used an H4 bulb and H3 for the fog lamp. In April 1995, “Parktronic” replaced the parking guiders on the rear boot lid. In 1995, the two tone exterior appearance was made to be monotone, low-beam xenon headlamps were added and the rear indicator lenses became clear. The changes were later introduced in June 1996 as 1996.5 models in Europe and 1997 models in the United States. The range was replaced by the far less bulky looking W220 saloon and C215 coupe in 1998 by which time Mercedes-Benz had built 432,732 examples, comprising 406,710 sedans and 26,022 coupés.
Once again, the “classic” Issigonis-designed Mini made an appearance here.
Representing the modern MINI was this example of a first generation MINI John Cooper Works GP, the last Mk I MINI variant to be produced using the supercharged Tritec engine. This was sold as a light-weight, quasi-race-prepped John Cooper Works model, hand-finished by Bertone in Italy. It was offered as a limited-production run of 2000 cars during the 2006 model year, with 444 of those originally intended for the UK market, although ultimately, 459 were sold, even though the price was somewhat eye-watering. The GP featured more bolstered Recaro front seats but had no rear seats, which along with reduced sound-deadening, removal of the rear wash-wipe system, optional air-conditioning and radio, and other weight-reduction steps, resulted in a weight saving of around 40 kg (88 lb) compared to a Cooper S. Mechanically, it featured a less restrictive intercooler, recalibrated engine management, high-volume injector nozzles, and a freer-flowing exhaust system. Extra cooling capabilities lets the supercharged engine run longer on cooler temperatures for better track performance. This resulted in an output of 218 hp from a faster revving engine. Additionally, the car had enhanced braking, suspension, and a smooth under-body for better aerodynamics. The whole geometry of the rear axle was modified with parts from the Mini Challenge race car to enhance the handling. In place of the rear seats there is a metal bar for a stiffer chassis performance. The car also offered many unique styling points, such as the red door mirrors, a carbon fibre rear spoiler, unique body kit, bespoke, 2 kg lighter four-spoke alloy wheels, and specialised badging. Available in just one colour scheme (Thunder Blue with a Pure Silver roof), each car was individually numbered and featured a decal on the roof along with a plaque on the dashboard. Although they were costly when new, they have held their value very well, and rarely come up for sale even now, more than 10 years after they were new.
The first Lancer Evo appeared in October 1992, but it was only really with the launch of the Evo IV that enthusiasts started to take proper note and the car’s legendary cult-following took off. The Lancer platform was completely changed in 1996, and along with it, the Evolution, which had become extremely popular throughout the world. The engine and transaxle were rotated 180° to better balance the weight and eliminate torque steer. There were two versions available, The RS and GSR. The RS version was produced as a competition car with a limited-slip front differential and a friction type LSD at the rear. It also came with GLX seats and a choice of either 16″ or 17″ OZ light weight racing wheels. The RS also had wind up windows, optional air conditioning in some models, and a few extra brace bars to strengthen the chassis, one behind the front grill and the other across the boot floor. The GSR and the RS shared a new twin scroll turbocharger which helped to improve response and increase power to 280 PS at 6,500 rpm and 243 lb·ft torque at 4,000 rpm. Mitsubishi’s new Active Yaw Control appeared as a factory option on the GSR model, which used steering, throttle input sensors and g sensors to computer-hydraulically control torque split individually to the rear wheels and as a result the 10000 Evolution IVs produced all sold quickly. The Evolution IV can be distinguished by its two large fog lights in the front bumper (option on RS version), and the newly designed tail lights on the rear, which became a standard design to Evolution V, which would become yet another trademark of the Evolution series. This new generation was slightly heavier than previous Evos—the GSR in particular due to the added technology systems—but to counter this the car produced even more power—the weight of the RS being 1,260 kg (2,778 lb) and the GSR being 1,345 kg (2,965 lb). Much of the technical improvements for this generation were also used in the second generation Mitsubishi RVR sold only in Japan. The car was soon updated to Evo V spec, with the latest car being shown in January 1998, and was then sold for just a year. Many aspects of the car were changed such as: the interior was upgraded in the GSR version with a better class of Recaro seat; te body kit had flared arches at the front and rear and a new aluminium rear spoiler replaced the IV FRP version and gave an adjustable angle of attack to alter rear down force; the track was widened by 10 mm (0.4 in), the wheel offset changed from ET45 to ET38 along with the wheel diameter which rose from 16″ to 17″ to accommodate Brembo brakes which were added to enhance braking. In addition the brake master cylinder bore increased by 0.3 millimetres (0.01 in). The engine was strengthened in a few areas and the cam duration was increased. The pistons were lighter with a smaller skirt area. 510 cc injectors were replaced with 560 cc injectors for better engine reliability due to more electrical “headroom” and the ECU was changed to include a flash ROM, allowing more boost pressure to the same TD05-HR as the Mitsubishi Evolution IV. Furthermore, the turbocharger was again improved. Torque was increased to 275 lb·ft at 3000 rpm. Power officially stayed the same, at 280 PS, though some claim horsepower was actually somewhat higher. These were true enthusiasts cars, but they were costly to run, and many have now been scraped, so it was good to see this one here.
After the ever softer evolution of the Z car, Nissan reversed the trend with the Z31 model, known as the 300ZX, introduced in late 1983. Designed by Kazumasu Takagi and his team of developers, the 300ZX had improved aerodynamics and increased power when compared to its predecessor, with a drag coefficient of 0.30. It was powered by Japan’s first mass-produced V6 engine instead of an inline 6. According to Nissan, the V6 engine was supposed to re-create the spirit of the original Fairlady 240Z. The Z31 generation featured five engine options, including a pair of 2 litre V6 units which were never available in Europe. Cars sold in the UK all had the 3.0 litre V6 unit. which made 240 hp in turbo form due to a better camshaft profile, also known outside of Europe as the Nismo camshafts. All European turbocharged models received a different front lower spoiler as well, with 84-86 models being unique and 87-89 production having the same spoiler as the USDM 1988 “SS” model. The Z31 body was slightly restyled in 1986 with the addition of side skirts, flared fenders, and sixteen inch wheels (turbo models only). Many black plastic trim pieces were also painted to match the body colour, and the bonnet scoop was removed. The car was given a final makeover in 1987 that included more aerodynamic bumpers, fog lamps within the front air dam, and 9004 bulb-based headlamps that replaced the outdated sealed beam headlights. The 300ZX-titled reflector in the rear was updated to a narrow set of tail lights running the entire width of the car and an LED third brake light on top of the rear hatch. The Z31 continued selling until 1989, more than any other Z-Car at the time. Over 70,000 units were sold in 1985. Cars produced from 1984-1985 are referred to as “Zenki” models, while cars produced from 1987-1989 are known as “Kouki” models. The 1986 models are a special due to sharing some major features from both. They are sometimes referred to as “Chuki” models, but are usually grouped with the Zenki models because of the head and tail lights.
Also here was one of the popular 350Z Coupe models. Released on July 2002 in Japan at reorganized Nissan Japanese dealerships called Nissan Blue Stage, and August 20, 2002 in the US., the 350Z coupé was available in 5 trim packages: ‘350Z’ (Base), ‘Enthusiast’, ‘Performance’, ‘Touring’, and ‘Track’ editions. In Europe, only the ‘Track’ trim was available, although it was badged and marketed as ‘350Z’. The Base model did not include a VLSD or Traction Control and was only available with cloth seats. It did not include cruise control, nor power or heated seats. The Enthusiast model came with traction control, a VLSD, and cruise control. The Performance model came with bigger 18-inch wheels, front air dam, rear spoiler, optional Brembo brakes, and VDC instead of Traction Control. Touring was made more of the luxury model. It had power, leather, heated seats, VDC, a VLSD, xenon headlamps, optional Brembos, 18-inch wheels, and optional GPS. The Track model included Brembo brakes, front air dam, rear spoiler, traction control, cloth seats, 18-inch wheels, VLSD, and optional GPS. In 2004 Nissan introduced the 350Z Roadster with an electrically retractable soft-top roof. In the U.S. market the car was available in two trim packages (Enthusiast and Touring), while in Europe, the same versions as the coupé were offered. Nissan added the Grand Touring (GT) trim to the Roadster trim packages for 2005. In 2005 Nissan launched a 35th Anniversary edition, with a revised exterior and interior. Early 2005 model-year 35th anniversary edition models were equipped with the original VQ35DE with 287 hp and automatic transmission. In January 2005, Nissan introduced the 35th Anniversary 6-speed manual models and Track models (mid-year introduction), which included the updated VQ35DE 300 hp Rev-up engine and new updated CD009 manual transmission. As well as minor changes to suspension tuning and parts. For the 2006 model year, the 350Z received changes for its mid-cycle facelift. The VQ35DE 300 hp Rev-up engine that was introduced mid-year 2005 on the Track and 35th Anniversary Edition with 6-speed manual transmission models was offered for every trim level that had a manual transmission option. The VQ35DE with 287 hp continued to be offered with only the 5-speed automatic. Additions included bi-xenon projectors, a revised front fascia, new LED rear lights, changes to the interior trim and speed sensitive steering. Touring and Grand Touring models had radio-steering controls standard, MP3 CD compatibility, and Satellite Radio became an available option. For the 2007 model year, the 350Z was again moderately revised. The VQ35DE V6 was replaced with a new VQ35HR V6. It produced 306 hp at 6800 rpm with 268 ft·lb at 4800 rpm using the revised SAE certified power benchmark. The VQ35HR had a raised redline to 7500 rpm and more torque across the rpm range. The bonnet was redesigned with a bulge reminiscent of the original 240Z to accommodate the raised deck height of the new VQ35HR. In the US, trim levels were narrowed down to 350Z (base), Enthusiast, Touring, and Grand Touring, while in Europe the same trim levels remained. Bluetooth was added for the 2007 model year. The car was replaced by the 370Z for the 2009 model year. It has never found quite the same levels of enthusiasm that greeted – and have stayed with – the 350Z.
This is an R32 generation Skyline, which debuted in 1989. It was available as either a 2-door coupe or 4-door hardtop sedan, all other bodystyles were dropped. The R32 featured several versions of the RB-series straight-6 engines, which had improved heads (the twelve port inlet was gone) and used the ECCS (Electronically Concentrated Control System) injection system. Also available was an 1,800 cc 4-cylinder GXi model. Most models had HICAS four-wheel steering, with the rear wheels being hydraulically linked to the front steering. The 2.5-litre GTS-25 became one of the first Japanese production cars to feature a 5-speed automatic transmission. The GTS-t came in standard and Type M configurations, with the Type M having larger five-stud 16-inch wheels, four piston front callipers and twin piston rears plus other minor differences. ABS was optional (except for the GT-R and GTS-4), mechanical LSD was standard on the GTR and viscous LSD was standard on all turbo models and optional on all but the GXi. Nissan also produced 100 Australian models of the R32. In addition, there was a 4WD version of the GTS-t Type M, called the GTS-4. This generation was considered a “compact” under Japanese legislation that determined the amount of tax liability based on exterior dimensions. The smaller engines were offered so as to provide Japanese buyers the ability to choose which annual road tax obligation they were willing to pay. The station wagon bodystyle was discontinued, and replaced by the Nissan Stagea. 296,087 of these cars were sold in its five year production run.
As ever, the 911 was well represented. This 997 model attracted my camera.
Also here was a 991 generation Carrera T. This was announced in October 2017. The 911 Carrera T (Touring), offered the base Carrera drivetrain but with shorter rear axle ratio, mechanical differential lock, PASM Sport lowered suspension, Sport Chrono package and sports exhaust as standard. Additional features include a reduced sound insulation, light-weight glass side/rear windows, Sport-Tex seats, a shortened shift lever, deletion of the rear seats and communication system (with their re-addition available as a no-cost option), Carrera S wheels, as well as optional rear-wheel steering, PDK transmission and bucket seats.
It did not take Renault long to add an RS version to their 3rd generation Megane range. debuting the car at the 2009 Geneva Show. This new Megane Renault Sport 250 included a 2.0litre twin-scroll turbo 4-cylinder F4Rt engine rated at 250 PS (247 bhp) at 5500 rpm and 340 Nm (251 lb/ft) at 3000 rpm with a 6-speed manual gearbox, Brembo front brakes, front splitter, extended sills and wheel arches, rear diffuser with central exhaust pipe, and 18-inch alloy wheels wearing 225/40R18 tyres. Aluminum pedals, a Renault Sport steering wheel with thumb grips, analog rev counter and sport seats with extra lateral support dress up the cabin. Other features include front LED daytime running lights and bi-xenon headlights. The 250 Cup variant contains a number of sharpened performance features including a stiffer chassis, track focused suspension, a limited slip differential and a slightly lighter gross weight. The Cup is differentiated visually with painted red brake calipers, instead of the silver calipers for the normal Sport. 18×8.25″ “Ax-l” alloy wheels are fitted with wider 235/40R18 tyres, while 19×8.25″ “Steev” wheels were available as an option with 235/35R19 tyres. In June 2011 Renault Sport revealed a limited edition 265 PS (261 bhp) version of the Mégane III called the Mégane R.S. Trophy. The Megane R.S. Trophy uses the same 2.0 four-cylinder as the standard 250 PS R.S. but thanks to modifications such as a new air intake and higher turbo pressure it gains an extra 15 hp, increasing the power output to 265 PS. It reaches 0–62 mph in six seconds flat and goes on to a top speed of 254 km/h (157 mph). It is recognizable thanks to model-specific decoration such as Trophy stickers on the doors, a new spoiler and specific 19″ rims with R.S. centre caps. It comes in a model-specific metallic yellow (Jaune Sirius) but is also available in more low-key colours such as white (Blanc Glacier), black (Noir Étoilé) and gray (Gris Cassiopée). Production was limited to 500 examples. In 2012, the Megane R.S. adopted the updated engine from the Trophy version with 265 PS (261 HP) and offers the same “Cup” and “Sport” versions like the previous 250 PS (247 HP) model. Changes include Piano Black interior highlights and wider LED daytime running lights with 6 LEDs per side rather than the 3 LEDs found in the RS250. The 18″ wheels were changed to a new design called “Tibor”, while the 19″ wheels carried over from the 250. Extreme Blue and Sport Yellow were dropped as colour options. In Australia, the Cup and Cup Trophée models were replaced with the Cup, Cup+ and Trophy+ with slightly more flexible specification levels.
As supplies of the new and highly rated A110 start to reach patient customers, most of whom placed an order and a deposit long ago, so the model becomes more visible at events where enthusiasts gather, and hence it was no great surprise to come across one here.
Along with the similar Roadster, the Smart Coupe was introduced in 2003, based on a stretched platform of the Fortwo with a full length of 3427 mm. The two variants were meant to be reminiscent of the British roadster of yore, such as the Triumph Spitfire or the MG B. Both the Roadster and Roadster Coupé came with a removable Targa roof or an electrical softtop. The Roadster was powered by 61 or 82 PS versions of the turbocharged 698cc 3-cylinder Suprex engine in the rear, whilst the Roadster Coupé only had the more powerful 82 PS engine. A steering wheel with Formula 1-style gearpaddles, to control the semi-automatic sequential transmission, was optional. Weighing as little as 790 kg (he Roadster was meant to provide the emotion of driving a sports car at an affordable cost; still, its price is not very far from that of a Mazda MX-5. Both the Roadster and Roadster Coupé were available in Brabus-tuned versions with power increased to 101 PS. The Brabus versions had a different twin sports exhaust, lower suspension, polished six-spoke aluminium alloy Monoblock VI 17″ wheels, front spoiler, side skirts and radiator grille. Exclusive Brabus (Xclusive) interior includes leather trimmed dashboard, alloy-effect accent parts, instrument graphics, leather/aluminium gearknob with Brabus labelled starter button, aluminium handbrake handle (which fouls the central armrest), aluminium pedals and Brabus labelled floor mats. The Brabus version also features stronger clamping of the clutch plates and a faster gearchange. The Monoblock wheels are known to be very soft and as a result are very easy to buckle. The lacquer on these wheels is also very poor, and corrosion can occur very early in the life of the wheel. Despite a projected break even of only 8-10,000 units per year, first year sales almost doubled this estimate. However, some Smart Roadsters leaked and production ceased due to the warranty work and other costs reaching an average of €3000 per vehicle. While a critical success, the Smart Roadster was, due to these costs, an economic failure for the company. 43,091 Coupe and Roadsters were built.
This is an Impreza WRX STi from the first generation of the Impreza family. There have been seven noted versions of the WRX dating back from Subaru’s original World Rally Cross staging vehicles. Subaru adopted the name “WRX” to stand for “World Rally eXperimental” as all WRX versions (1992 to present) feature rally inspired technology, including all wheel drive, stiffened suspensions and turbocharged four cylinder engines. The STi versions were marketed with consecutive numbers. Another way to determine the version of a WRX was to look at the chassis code. All WRX sold between 1992 and 2000 have the beginning chassis code of GC8 2/4 door sedan or GF8 hatchback; this is followed by a letter from A to G. Coupe versions share the “GC” code with sedans, except in the US, where they have a separate chassis code of “GM”. In 1994, Subaru introduced Subaru Tecnica International (STi badged) versions of the WRX in Japan. These models were upgraded from the standard WRX in many categories, including blueprinted performance-tuned engines, transmissions, and suspensions. The STi versions of the WRX were immensely successful in rallies and popular among street racers but were only sold in the Japanese market. Compared to the WRX, the STi had mostly mechanical modifications. (STi prepped Subaru rally cars since 1988 including the Legacy RS, the WRX STi Version was just the first car with an actual STi badge, though with handcrafted tuning). The WRX debuted in November 1992 with 240 PS. The centre differential was a viscous coupling type, the rear limited slip differential was a viscous type. The WRX Type RA is a stripped down version of the WRX that was available in the Japanese market for people to purchase for motorsports and tuning. Targeted for race and rally, the RA versions were generally lighter in weight; featuring reduced soundproofing, manual windows, car horn delete, no air conditioning, no anti-lock brakes, and added racing features such as more robust engines, 5th injection, intercooler water spray and shorter gearing. The WRX Type RA uses a closer ratio gearbox and a three-spoke leather steering wheel from Nardi. The ra model chassis code between GC8-(000000 to 005000) are only sold to the race team by order. Close ratio transmission is anticipated race use, the gap between each gear is brought closer together and a specific close ratio transmission is used. In Europe, the WRX was introduced as the Impreza GT, and as the Impreza Turbo 2000 (UK). It came with 208 hp. A bewildering array of different versions would follow until the release of the second generation Impreza in 2000.
Needing little introduction, perhaps, is this car, a 2nd generation MR2. Toyota proved that the market for small affordable sports cars was far from dead when they launched the first generation MR2 in 1984. As was the trend at the time among Japanese manufacturers, models were replaced on quite a regular 4/5 year cycle, so it was little surprise when a second generation car appeared in 1989. However, this one would go on to be produced for 10 years, The overall design changed little in that time, but there were lots of small details that were refined during that time. The car was generally well received, with its “mini Ferrari” looks proving quite an attraction, as were the willing engines and the entertaining handling. There are not that many nice clean examples left now, though.
Less familiar is this one, a Mark II Hardtop. Arriving in August 1984, the fifth generation of the Mark II family dropped the “Corona” name in Japan and became simply the Toyota Mark II. This generation Mark II had a lot of rivals including the Nissan Leopard, as well as the traditional competitor Nissan Laurel sedan. The Mark II continued to remain very viable for fleet sales, government agencies and taxi services. There are two different variations of the Mark II; the Hardtop and the Sedan. Visually they are different on the exterior while the interior remains untouched. Exterior changes on the Hardtop version includes a slanted nose which requires a new grille, a thinner headlamp assembly that match the slanted nose, frameless door windows, thinner tail lamp, front fenders and bumper. Body panel is stamped different from the standard version. The Standard version is exactly like the MX73 Toyota Cressida. It does not have the aggressive slanted front end, conservative body panels and framed windows. The Mark II (and its sister cars) received a Twin Turbo version of the 1G inline-six in October 1985. This powerful engine made the earlier turbocharged M-TE engine superfluous and it was discontinued. In August 1986 the range received a minor facelift and some technical improvements. The 1.8-liter LPG engine was replaced by a 2-liter version. The X70 station wagon was produced from 1984 to 1997 with only a few minor revisions over the years. In most markets, sales of this wagon was stopped when the next model of the sedan was introduced but they continued to be sold in Japan for use as delivery vehicles. It was finally superseded by the front-wheel-drive Mark II Qualis that was based on the Camry Gracia. In 1984 for the 1985 model year, a new Cressida was introduced by Toyota. This was the MX73 (MX72 for wagon). The 5M-E engine was mostly unchanged from the 1984 model year but gained a knock-sensor, which detected pre-ignition and adjusted timing accordingly when a lower-grade fuel was used. The 5M-E SOHC also was available in some markets. The bodystyle was all-new, larger, and more aerodynamic than previous generations. Like its main competitor at the time, the Nissan Maxima, it was given the “compact” designation, though it had grown in size. New options included were an electronic shock absorber control (TEMS), CD player, super monitor, digital gauges, standard woodgrain trim, and secondary radio controls that were placed right by the steering wheel for easier access while driving. The automatic transmission retained its Normal/Power selector as many other Toyotas would, but later in production, the Economy selection was dropped. In 1987 the automatic transmission was changed to the A340E that was also used with the 7M-GE and Lexus 1UZ-FE engine at the time. The 1988 model was not offered with a manual transmission and the wagon was discontinued in 1987. By 1988, power output was at 161 hp. Cressida badging was also used in other export markets with smaller engines. In Indonesia, the Cressida GLX-i was available with a 109 PS version of the two-litre 1G-E engine with no emissions controls and low compression suitable for lower-octane petrol. The Chaser GT Twin Turbo hardtop (GX71) series first appeared in August 1984. The “Avante” series previously introduced became a luxury upgrade starting with this generation and body styles were reduced again to a 4-door hardtop only. The exterior dimensions of this car were slightly smaller in comparison to sister cars Mark II and Cresta, but the Chaser was more performance oriented, while maintaining the advanced features and luxurious interior of the Cresta. October 1985, Mark II / Cresta 1G-GTEU vehicles equipped with “GT twin turbo” has appeared. Disc brakes are larger in diameter, and was now equipped with bucket seats, but Toyota’s TEMS electronic suspension wasn’t installed. Only Chaser “GT twin turbo S” 5-speed MT that there was only low-cost upgrades (early types only.) Minor changes were made in August 1986. The 1G-GEU engine received improvements, while the LPG engine was changed to the larger 3Y-PU, larger bumpers, front grille and changes in, substantial efforts were made to the equipment. Was popular in early-type rear combination lamps are kept to a minor change. January 1987 a special edition “Lordly” was released, May 1987 a special edition “Chaser Avante” was released. August 1987 special edition “New Extra XG Chaser” was released. In September 1987 the 2L and 2L-T diesel engines were now compliant with the 1986 passenger car emissions standards. In January 1988 special edition “Avante Supra” released as a companion to the third-generation Supra. April 1988 special edition “with extra XG Auto Air Conditioner” launch. A sixth generation Mark II arrived in August 1988.
This 280i is from the “wedge” generation of TVR models, at the time quite a radical-looking car, which TVR produced as a replacement for their long-running shape in early 1980. The car was initially called the Tasmin. During the 1970s, when Martin Lilley started to look where to take the Blackpool based company next, he noted that Lotus appeared to have reinvented itself with the Elite, Eclat and Esprit, losing much of the kit-car image in the process, and he thought he needed to do something similar. He needed a new design language, so he contacted Oliver Winterbottom who had done the Elite/Eclat for the Norfolk firm, hoping for something new. The wedge-shaped design that Winterbottom created was produced in 1977, and a prototype was created the following year, before the new car’s launch very early in 1980. Based on the Taimar, but with very different wedge styling, the car was not exactly received with massive enthusiasm. The styling looked a bit like yesterday’s car, as the wedge era was on the wane, and the car’s price pitched it against cars like the Porsche 924 Turbo. Development of the new car had drained TVR’s finances, which led to Lilley ceding control of the company in 1981 to Peter Wheeler. The convertible that followed helped matters a bit, whereas the 2 litre 200 and the 2+2 model did not, but in 1983, TVR announced a revised version with the potent Rover 3.5 litre V8 under the bonnet, in lieu of the 2.8 litre Ford Essex unit, and it transformed the car. It was just what was needed, and over the next few years, a series of ever more potent models, with ever wilder styling came into the range. By 1986, the 450SEAC boasted 340 bhp, making this something of a supercar.
The Cerbera was first shown as a prototype at the 1994 Birmingham Show, entering production in 1996. The name derives from Cerberus the three-headed beast of Greek legend that guarded the entrance of Hades. This was the third car manufactured by TVR under the leadership of Peter Wheeler, and it represented three firsts for the Wheeler-led company: the first hard-top—the Griffith and the Chimaera were both convertibles; the first 2+2—TVRs were traditionally two-seaters; the first to be driven by TVR’s own engines—historically, TVR had purchased engines from mainstream manufacturers like Rover, Ford and Triumph. Prior to the Cerbera, TVR had purchased V8 engines from Rover and then tuned them for their own use. When Rover was purchased by BMW, Peter Wheeler did not want to risk problems should the Germans decide to stop manufacturing the engine. In response, he engaged the services of race engineer Al Melling to design a V8 engine that TVR could manufacture in-house and even potentially offer for sale to other car-makers. In an interview for the television programme Top Gear, Wheeler explained “Basically, we designed the engine as a race engine. It was my idea at the time that if we wanted to expand, we ought to make something that we could sell to other people. We’ve ended up with a 75-degree V8 with a flat-plane crank. The bottom-half of the engine to the heads is exactly as you would see in current Formula One engines.” Wheeler was quoted at the time of the car’s launch as saying that the combination of light weight and high power was too much for a road car, a quote which ensured much free publicity in the press. Enthusiasts still argue about whether this was a typical example of Wheeler’s legendary frankness, or an equally typical example of his PR chief Ben Samuelson’s knack for saving on advertising costs by creating a story. The result was dubbed the “Speed Eight” (official designation ‘AJP8’) after Al Melling, John Ravenscroft and Peter Wheeler, a 4.2 litre V8 producing 360 hp and gave the Cerbera a top speed of 185 mph (297 km/h). A 4.5 litre version of the engine was later offered with 420 hp. The AJP8 has one of the highest specific outputs of any naturally aspirated V8 in the automotive world at 83.3 hp/litre for the 4.2 and 93.3 hp/litre for the 4.5. Later models of the 4.5 litre engine had the ‘Red Rose’ option, which increased output to 440 bhp (97.7 hp/litre) when fuelled with super-unleaded (high octane) and the driver pushed the unmarked button on the dashboard which altered the engine mapping to suit. In some cases, real-world outputs for production V8s (4.5 in particular) were down from TVRs quoted output. Some of these have seen some form of modification (ECU, induction, exhaust etc.) to bring the power back up to the factory quoted output. One of the attractions of the V8 Cerberas for many owners was the loud backfire produced on overrun, particularly at low speeds. In fact this was the result of an argument at the factory between one of TVR’s executives and the engineers mapping the engine. The engineers wanted to map out this “irregularity” to improve fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions, whilst the executive insisted it was exactly the kind of thing owners would like. In the end a compromise was reached in which the popping and banging remained on the 4.5 litre cars. With the success of the Speed Eight program, Wheeler also undertook the design of a “Speed Six” engine to complement it. This engine also made its debut in the Cerbera but was a 4.0 litre inline slant six design with four valves per cylinder to the Speed Eight’s two. In service however it gained a reputation for unreliability and many engines had to be rebuilt. The car itself was designed from the start as a four-seater. The rear seats are smaller than the front, a design commonly referred to as a “2+2”. However, the interior is designed so that the passenger seat can slide farther forward than the driver’s seat. This allows more room for the person sitting behind the front passenger. TVR have referred to this as a “3+1” design. TVR maintained its tradition of building cars that were not only exceptionally powerful but also very light for their size and power output. The Cerbera’s weight was quoted by TVR at 1100 kilograms, although customers claimed the weight varied between 1,060 kg (2,337 lb) and 1,200 kg (2,646 lb). The dashboard was designed especially for the Cerbera and uses a two-spar steering wheel as opposed to the typical three-spar previously found in most TVRs. The reason for this is that minor instruments are located on a small panel below the steering wheel and a third spar in the wheel would have made them difficult to read. Like all TVRs of the Peter Wheeler era, the Cerbera had a long-travel throttle to compensate for the lack of electronic traction-control and very sharp steering. The V8 powered cars were two turns from lock to lock and the Speed Six car was 2.4 turns. This made it easier for experienced drivers to maintain or regain control of the car in the event of a loss of traction but some less experienced drivers complained that it made the cars feel “twitchy” and more responsive than they would otherwise have preferred. In 2000, TVR changed the styling of the car slightly by modifying the headlights to more closely resemble those seen in the TVR Tuscan. The “facelift” features were available with all three engine configurations. In addition, the cars equipped with the 4.5 litre engine were offered with the “lightweight” option, reducing the overall weight through the use of lighter body panels and a slightly reworked interior. The final car was made in 2006.
Classic Beetle models were represented by a pair of cars, one of which is a current resident at the site and these were joined by a number of examples of the related Type 2 family.
This one is known as the Type 3, or more properly as the 1600 TL Variant. The Type 3 range was launched in 1961, and planned as a more costly model to appeal to those who could afford more money for a larger car than the Beetle (or Type 1). Initially called the 1500, the first models were 2 door saloons. An estate model, the Variant, arrived in 1963, and this car sold better than the Saloon. Later the engine was upgraded to 1600cc and a fastback model joined the range, at which point the original model was deleted from the UK range, though it continued on sale in Germany until well into the 1970s. 1600TL Fastback and Variant models were quite popular in the UK in the early 1970s and used to be a common sight, but like most cars of that era, the vast majority of them have been scrapped and most of the remaining ones have been snapped up by the “Dub” scene modifiers.
VW launched the second generation Golf in August of 1983, nearly 9 years after production of the first model to bear the name had begun. This time, a GTi version was included in the product plans from the start, and the new GTi was announced in May 1984. Like the regular Golf 2, it was almost 7″ longer than the Mark 1, with 3″ extra in the wheelbase and a 2″ wider track. It was also 10% heavier, but with significantly improved aerodynamics, resulting from attention to detail which included integrated gutters and flush glass as well as more rounded styling, the cd fell from 0.42 to 0.34. Initially it was powered by the same 1781cc fuel injected engine, but there were all round disc brakes and longer suspension travel improved the ride. Competitors came snapping at its heels, though, so after 2/5 years, VW responded by giving the car 24% more power, achieved by doubling the number of valves to 16. Lower stiffer suspension and bigger front brakes were also fitted, all of which restored the Golf GTi 16V to the top of the Hot Hatch pile. For most people that is, though the 8v car retained a following thanks to its broader torque spread. This less powerful car changed from a mechanical K-Jetronic injection system to a new Digifant electronic set up in 1987 at which point the front quarterlights were deleted, and a digital instrument pack became an option on the 16v car. Power steering became standard in late 1990 and the 8v gained the interior from the 16v model. Production ran through to February 1992, by which time the Mark 3 GTi was waiting in the wings. over 600,000 were built over an 8 year period, around 10% of all Mark 2 Golf production.
This is an example of the P1800 range, a sports car that was manufactured by Volvo Cars between 1961 and 1973. The car was a one-time venture by the usually sober Swedish Volvo, who already had a reputation for building sensible sedans. The project was originally started in 1957 because Volvo wanted a sports car to compete in the US and European markets, despite the fact that their previous attempt, the P1900, had failed to take off with only 68 cars sold. The man behind the project was an engineering consultant to Volvo, Helmer Petterson, who in the 1940s was responsible for the Volvo PV444. The design work was done by Helmer’s son Pelle Petterson, who worked at Pietro Frua at that time. Volvo insisted it was an Italian design by Frua and only officially recognised that it was by Pelle Petterson many years later. The Italian Carrozzeria Pietro Frua design firm (then a recently acquired subsidiary of Ghia) built the first three prototypes between September 1957 and early 1958, later designated by Volvo in September 1958: P958-X1, P958-X2 and P958-X3. In December 1957 Helmer Petterson drove X1, the first hand-built P1800 prototype to Osnabrück, West Germany, headquarters of Karmann. Petterson hoped that Karmann would be able to take on the tooling and building of the P1800. Karmann’s engineers had already been preparing working drawings from the wooden styling buck at Frua. Petterson and Volvo chief engineer Thor Berthelius met there, tested the car and discussed the construction with Karmann. They were ready to build it and this meant that the first cars could hit the market as early as December 1958. But in February, Karmann’s most important customer, Volkswagen forbade Karmann to take on the job, as they feared that the P1800 would compete with the sales of their own cars, and threatened to cancel all their contracts with Karmann if they took on this car. This setback almost caused the project to be abandoned. Other German firms, NSU, Drautz and Hanomag, were contacted but none was chosen because Volvo did not believe they met Volvo’s manufacturing quality-control standards. It began to appear that Volvo might never produce the P1800. This motivated Helmer Petterson to obtain financial backing from two financial firms with the intention of buying the components directly from Volvo and marketing the car himself. At this point Volvo had made no mention of the P1800 and the factory would not comment. Then a press release surfaced with a photo of the car, putting Volvo in a position where they had to acknowledge its existence. These events influenced the company to renew its efforts: the car was presented to the public for the first time at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1960 and Volvo turned to Jensen Motors, whose production lines were under-utilised, and they agreed a contract for 10,000 cars. The Linwood, Scotland, body plant of manufacturer Pressed Steel was in turn sub-contracted by Jensen to create the unibody shells, which were then taken by rail to be assembled at Jensen in West Bromwich. In September 1960, the first production P1800 left Jensen for an eager public. The engine was the B18, an 1800cc petrol engine, with dual SU carburettors, producing 100 hp. This variant (named B18B) had a higher compression ratio than the slightly less powerful twin-carb B18D used in the contemporary Amazon 122S, as well as a different camshaft. The ‘new’ B18 was actually developed from the existing B36 V8 engine used in Volvo trucks at the time. This cut production costs, as well as furnishing the P1800 with a strong engine boasting five main crankshaft bearings. The B18 was matched with the new and more robust M40 manual gearbox through 1963. From 1963 to 1972 the M41 gearbox with electrically actuated overdrive was a popular option. Two overdrive types were used, the D-Type through 1969, and the J-type through 1973. The J-type had a slightly shorter ratio of 0.797:1 as opposed to 0.756:1 for the D-type. The overdrive effectively gave the 1800 series a fifth gear, for improved fuel efficiency and decreased drivetrain wear. Cars without overdrive had a numerically lower-ratio differential, which had the interesting effect of giving them a somewhat higher top speed of just under 120 mph, than the more popular overdrive models. This was because the non-overdrive cars could reach the engine’s redline in top gear, while the overdrive-equipped cars could not, giving them a top speed of roughly 110 mph. As time progressed, Jensen had problems with quality control, so the contract was ended early after 6,000 cars had been built. In 1963 production was moved to Volvo’s Lundby Plant in Gothenburg and the car’s name was changed to 1800S (S standing for Sverige, or in English : Sweden). The engine was improved with an additional 8 hp. In 1966 the four-cylinder engine was updated to 115 PS, which meant the top speed increased to 109 mph. In 1969 the B18 engine was replaced with the 2-litre B20B variant of the B20 giving 118 bhp, though it kept the designation 1800S. For 1970 numerous changes came with the fuel-injected 1800E, which had the B20E engine with Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection and a revised camshaft, and produced 130 bhp without sacrificing fuel economy. Top speed was around 118 mph and acceleration from 0–62 took 9.5 seconds. In addition, the 1970 model was the first 1800 with four-wheel disc brakes; till then the 1800 series had front discs and rear drums. Volvo introduced its final P1800 variant, the 1800ES, in 1972 as a two-door station wagon with a frameless, all-glass tailgate. The final design was chosen after two prototypes had been built by Sergio Coggiola and Pietro Frua. Frua’s prototype, Raketen (“the Rocket”), is located in the Volvo Museum. Both Italian prototypes were considered too futuristic, and instead in-house designer Jan Wilsgaard’s proposal was accepted. The ES engine was downgraded to 125 bhp by reducing the compression ratio with a thicker head gasket (engine variant B20F); although maximum power was slightly down the engine was less “peaky” and the car’s on-the-road performance was actually improved. The ES’s rear backrest folded down to create a long flat loading area. As an alternative to the usual four-speed plus overdrive manual transmission, a Borg-Warner three-speed automatic was available in the 1800ES. With stricter American safety and emissions standards looming for 1974, Volvo did not see fit to spend the considerable amount that would be necessary to redesign the small-volume 1800 ES. Only 8,077 examples of the ES were built in its two model years. Seen here was a P1800S coupe.
In the spring of 1996, Volvo introduced a new high-performance Volvo 850 as a replacement for the hugely successful limited edition T-5R. Volvo decided there should be no direct successor to the T-5R, but due to its success, Volvo decided to develop a new high-performance model. The new car, based on the T-5R, was called the 850 R, which again came in either saloon or sport wagon editions. The only colours available were Bright Red, Black Stone, Dark Grey Pearl, Dark Olive Pearl, Turquoise Pearl and Polar White. In the U.S. market only Bright Red, Polar White and Black Stone were available. Cream yellow was discontinued for the 850 R. The saloon featured a newly designed rear spoiler; spoiler was now standard on the estate. The interior upgrades included bucket style heavily bolstered ‘sport’ front seats (Alcantara centre with leather bolsters), Alcantara door cards, 2-tone leather steering wheel, stainless steel ‘850’ kick plates and R branded over mats. A 200w amplifier was also added to the 8-speaker audio system as was the option to have an SC-805/815 in-dash CD player (some markets). For a limited time in 1996 only, Volvo offered a new heavy duty manual transmission designed specifically for the 850 R (excluding U.S. market), called the M59, which featured a viscous coupling limited slip differential. Furthermore, the M59 equipped cars were fitted with the B5234T4 2.3-litre 5-cylinder engine featuring a larger TD04HL-16T turbo, re-designed turbo manifold & intercooler, unique ecu with Motronic 4.4, uprated fuel pressure sensor and a heavy duty clutch. These modifications enabled the manual transmission cars to produce 250 bhp and 350 N⋅m (258 lb⋅ft) versus 240 bhp and 330 N⋅m (243 lb⋅ft) for the automatic transmission. Due to encumbrances placed on engine volume by the Italian government, 850 Rs sold in Italy were based on the 2.0 litre 850 Turbo. The transmission was the standard AW/50-42 used in all U.S. 850s, the M59 being available in other countries.
This was a weekday visit, timed for the late afternoon, when I popped in after leaving the Warwick office, heading home, and was really because I needed to meet with the staff on site to discuss and finalise the details of the upcoming Abarth Owners Club barbeque. Although online posts show a surprising number of cars at the site during a weekday, on this occasion, it was all very quiet, with only three or four cars parked up, and very little arrived in the time I was there.
About the only cars of interest which arrived whilst I was there were a duo of Cobra models, Needless to say, these are not the original cars from the 1960s, which you rarely see, but a couple of the many well-produced replica models, a steady stream of which have been produced by a large number of different companies on a more or less continuous basis ever since.
This 964 RS does not really count as a visitor, as it is one of the cars which lives on site. As far as I could tell, it actually belongs to owner Phil’s father, an enthusiast who can usually be seen somewhere onsite, frequently deep in conversation with some of the other visitors. Whilst I waited for my meeting to take place and drank up my coffee, he was engrossed talking to two visiting Germans. Designed by Benjamin Dimson in 1986, the 964 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.
Only a few days later, and I was back again. This time it was another Saturday, and once more it was following another Coventry Transport Museum Breakfast Club meeting. The weather gods had been particularly cruel to that, with a very wet morning meaning that just 13 cars had showed up. However, after enjoying some lunch in the city, by the time I had made it as far as Caffeine & Machine, the rain had largely stopped and this did encourage more people to get in their car and stop by. There was plenty to see.
This is a popular venue among Abarth Owners, as the number of posts that we see on the Club’s Facebook page every weekend will attest, so it was no surprise to come across a 595 model here.
Caffeine & Machine is only a few miles away from Gaydon, so it has, apparently, become a popular place for Aston Martin staff to drop into after they leave site. So whilst some of the Astons that you see here will indeed be privately owned, but others will be factory cars. I believe that this duo of the latest Vantage models were factory cars, as I did hear the gents who had brought them talking about the testing they are undertaking and where they were headed next with the cars.
Still highly rated more than a decade after production ceased is the B7 generation RS4, seen here in regular Saloon guise. There was no RS4 built on the Audi “B6” platform that served as the basis for the Audi A4 between 2001 and 2005. However, after a long hiatus, the second Audi RS4 quattro (Typ 8E), was built on Audi’s “B7” A4 platform. It was unveiled in February 2005. The RS4 became available to European customers in mid-2006. It was introduced at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in January, and arrived in June 2006 in North America. The B7 RS4 was an almost complete departure from previous Audi “RS” cars, as it was initially available as a four-door five-seat saloon with a five-door five-seat Avant and two-door four-seat Cabriolet versions arriving later. Only the Audi RS6 had taken this similar route (saloon and Avant) before; the previous RS4 and RS2 were available exclusively as Avants. Constructed from fully galvanised steel, the B7 RS4 uses lightweight aluminium for its front wings and bonnet. The saloon version features a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.31, from a frontal area of 2.17 m2. Like its B5 predecessor, visually, the B7 RS4 differs from its related B7 S4, by having even wider flared front and rear wheel arches, to allow for a wider axle track. Over the B7 A4, it also includes two larger frontal side air intakes (for the two additional side-mounted coolant radiators). The trim on the saloon and roof rails on the estate are chrome as standard but can also be found in black with the addition of the Optic Pack which includes a black front grill, all exterior trim and black roof rails on the estate version. The B7 RS4 also includes an optional adaptive headlights to complement the standard “Xenon Plus” (Bi-Xenon) High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps, which swivel around corners in conjunction with steering wheel movements. Also standard are daytime running lights (DRLs), found within the main headlamp housings, identical to its related B7 A4 and S4, and use a conventional tungsten filament bulb. An acoustic parking system with front and rear sensors is also a standard fitment. Unique carbon fibre interior trims, along with a lap timer within the central Driver Information System (DIS), aluminium pedal caps and footrest, and RS 4 logos complete the look. Kerb weight of the saloon variant starts at 1,650 kg (3,638 lb). The engine of the B7 RS4 is based on the existing all-alloy 4,163 cc V8 from the B6 S4, and shares many parts, and Fuel Stratified Injection, with the 4.2 FSI V8 engine in the Q7. The engine includes new cylinder block construction, and is a highly reworked, high-revving variant (redline at 8,000 rpm; rev limit of 8,250 rpm). The same engine base was used for the Audi R8 when Audi wanted to build their first supercar. However, the camshaft drive system was moved to the front of the block for the mid-engine R8. Audi factory numbers indicate that the B7 RS4 saloon can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 4.8 seconds, and arrive at 0 to 200 km/h (0 to 124 mph) in 16.6 seconds. Top speed for all variants is “officially” electronically limited to 250 km/h (155.3 mph), though some owners reported that the speed limiter is rather “liberal”, conforming to the pattern of previous Audi “RS” cars, with genuine top speeds of 270 km/h (168 mph) being recorded. The production run of the B7 RS 4 was 2006 to 2008 inclusive. Approximately 10,000 B7 RS4s were built, of which around 2,000 went to the USA.
This is definitely a place to come if you want to see a BMW M2, or two or more. Whenever I have been on site there have always been several of them parked up, and this visit was no exception.
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.
Britain’s best seller for many years now, several million examples of the Ford Fiesta have been on our roads, but the early ones are largely all but gone. There was one here. Originally developed under the project name “Bobcat” (not to be confused with the subsequent rebadged Mercury variant of the Ford Pinto) and approved for development by Henry Ford II in September 1972, just after the launch of two comparable cars – the Fiat 127 and Renault 5, the Fiesta was an all new car in the supermini segment, and was at the time the smallest car ever made by Ford. Development targets indicated a production cost US$100 less than the current Escort. The car was to have a wheelbase longer than that of the Fiat 127, but with overall length shorter than that of Ford’s Escort. The final proposal was developed by Tom Tjaarda at Ghia. The project was approved for production in late 1973, with Ford’s engineering centres in Cologne and Dunton (Essex) collaborating. Ford estimated that 500,000 Fiestas a year would be produced, and built an all-new factory near Valencia, Spain; a trans-axle factory near Bordeaux, France; factory extensions for the assembly plants in Dagenham, UK. Final assembly also took place in Valencia. The name Fiesta belonged to General Motors, used as a trim level on Oldsmobile estate models, when the car was designed but it was freely given for Ford to use on their new B-class car. After years of speculation by the motoring press about Ford’s new car, it was subject to a succession of carefully crafted press leaks from the end of 1975. A Fiesta was on display at the Le Mans 24 Hour Race in June 1976, and the car went on sale in France and Germany in September 1976; to the frustration of UK dealerships, right hand drive versions only began to appear in January 1977. Its initial competitors in Europe, apart from the Fiat 127 and Renault 5, included the Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Chevette. Chrysler UK were also about to launch the Sunbeam by this stage, and British Leyland was working on a new supermini which was eventually launched as the Austin Metro in 1980. The Fiesta was initially available in Europe with the Valencia 957 cc with high compression and low compression options, and 1,117 cc engines in Base, Popular, L, GL (1978 onward), Ghia and S trim, as well as a van. A sporting derivative, the 1.3 Supersport was offered for the 1980 model year, using the 1.3 litre Kent Crossflow engine, effectively to test the market for the similar XR2 introduced a year later, which featured a 1.6 litre version of the same engine. Black plastic trim was added to the exterior and interior. The small square headlights were replaced with larger circular ones, with the front indicators being moved into the bumper to accommodate the change. With a quoted performance of 0–60 mph in 9.3 seconds and 105 mph top speed, the XR2 hot hatch became a cult car beloved of boy racers throughout the 1980s. Minor revisions appeared across the range in late 1981, with larger bumpers to meet crash worthiness regulations and other small improvements in a bid to maintain showroom appeal ahead of the forthcoming second generation. Rust claimed almost all the original Fiestas, so they are a rare sight today. This one has been beautifully restored.
Another popular car among attendees here is the Hyundai i30N, the Korean giant’s extremely well-received first attempt at a hot hatch. It’s been on sale for around eighteen months now, but the car is quite a rare sighting on our roads. Until you come here, and then you will see several, including the one which is on long term loan to the venue.
This is the new second generation Evoque, deliveries of which are just starting. I was standing right by this car and struck up conversation with someone, who it turned out was the lucky driver of it. It emerged that he worked for JLR and this was his new company car. He had only take delivery of it during the week, and so had only driven it a few miles, but to date he was very pleased with it and he did say that it represented a considerable advance on the first generation car in so many respects.
Tow Maserati models featured this time. My Ghibli once more, as this was the car that I had taken to Coventry earlier in the day, and there was also an example of the GranCabrio, the elegant open-topped version of the large V8-powered GT model that has been on offer for a number of years now.
Skyline GT-R R33
Once again the mildly modified red 964 RS belonging to the owner’s father was here, and there was also a black 964 and the later 996 to represent the 911 family.
In response to SEAT setting a new record for a FWD production car at the Nürburgring race track with the Leon Cupra 280 at 7:58.4 and taking the title Renault earned during 3 years with the Megane 265 Trophy, since 2011, with a time of 8:07.97, Renault developed the 275 Trophy-R to retake the title a few weeks after. With Laurent Hurgon driving, the record was reclaimed with a Nürburgring lap time of 7:54.36. The Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy has a raft of changes, starting with a little more power courtesy of the Akrapovič titanium exhaust bringing power up to 271 bhp at 5500 rpm while torque is unchanged at 360 Nm (266 lb/⋅ft) at 3000 rpm. Additionally on the 101 kg (223 lb) lighter track focused Trophy-R, Öhlins dampers with Allevard composite coil springs and 19″ Speedline Turini wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres replace the KYB dampers with steel springs and 19″ Steev wheels with Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tyres used to date. A lithium battery saves 16 kg. The front brakes are changed to a 350mm 2 piece floating rotor (up 10mm) while using the same calipers & rear brakes. Interior changes see the deletion of the sound deadening, the air conditioning, stereo, sat nav and back seat while a rear brace is fitted in place. The Recaro Sportster CS front seats are exchanged for Recaro “pole position” fixed polycarbonate buckets trimmed with leather and Alcantara & Sabelt race harness belts fitted. The total weight saving of all the changes amounts to a 101 kg (223 lb) loss, bringing kerb weight down to 1,280 kg (2,820 lb), 7.5 L/100 km (38 mpg) nd 174 g/km of CO2/km. The Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R also beat the records of several others circuits, proved by the videos Suzuka circuit with Laurent Hurgon, Fuji International Speedway with Laurent Hurgon, Tsukuba circuit with Kazuo Shimizu. Production continued for the rest of the life of the third generation Megane model.
Once again there was an example of the Smart Coupe here.
Another of the on-site residents, 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 Cappuccino was a tiny Japanese sports car that found a small niche when offered to UK buyers. Designed to meet the Kei car specifications for lower tax and insurance in Japan, this tiny front mid-engined machine weighed just 725 kg and took its power from a turbocharged, three-cylinder, 12 valve 657 cc DOHC engine which generated 63 bhp. Its dimensions also conformed to Kei car regulations on length and width, being 3,295 mm (129.7 in) long and 1,395 mm (54.9 in) wide. Three removable roof panels meant that the car can be used as a closed coupé; T-top; targa; or, on retraction of the rear window and roll bar, a full convertible. Roof panels stowed in the boot, taking almost all the luggage space), and the rear window/rollcage assembly retracts into the body behind the seats. Unlike many convertibles of the time, the rear window is glass and wraparound, with demisting elements. Production began in 1991 and ceased in 1997. Suzuki UK decided that they wanted to sell the car, and it took 18 months of negotiation and technical co-operation between the Suzuki Motor Corporation and Suzuki GB to get the Cappuccino type approved and homologated for the UK market, with 23 adaptations to the Japanese Cappuccino. Finally, in October 1992 the Cappuccino had its first public viewing outside Japan, at the British International Motor Show. At the show, the Cappuccino won two prestigious IBCAM Design awards: “best sportscar under £20,000” and “best car of the show”. In October 1993 the Cappuccino was officially launched in the UK with a price of £11,995. Due to the car’s initial success in Japan, and the tight import quota of Japanese products to the UK, the original allocation of 1,500 cars was cut to 1,182. Such limited quantities dictated a streamlined colour choice: red and silver in the ratio 80:20. Between 1993–95 a total of 1,110 cars were registered in the UK, with the balance sold to other Suzuki distributors across Europe: Germany, France, the Netherlands and Sweden.
There was another example of the “wedge” TVR here, just as there had been when I was here a couple of weeks earlier.
The Type 2 “Bus” staged another appearance here. This one is from the second generation, first seen in late 1967. It was built in Germany until 1979. In Mexico, the Volkswagen Kombi and Panel were produced from 1970 to 1994. Models before 1971 are often called the T2a (or “Early Bay”), while models after 1972 are called the T2b (or “Late Bay”). This second-generation Type 2 lost its distinctive split front windshield, and was slightly larger and considerably heavier than its predecessor. Its common nicknames are Breadloaf and Bay-window, or Loaf and Bay for short. At 1.6 litres and 47 bhp DIN, the engine was also slightly larger. The battery and electrical system was upgraded to 12 volts, making it incompatible with electric accessories from the previous generation. The new model also did away with the swing axle rear suspension and transfer boxes previously used to raise ride height. Instead, half-shaft axles fitted with constant velocity joints raised ride height without the wild changes in camber of the Beetle-based swing axle suspension. The updated Bus transaxle is usually sought after by off-road racers using air-cooled Volkswagen components. The T2b was introduced by way of gradual change over three years. The first models featured rounded bumpers incorporating a step for use when the door was open (replaced by indented bumpers without steps on later models), front doors that opened to 90° from the body, no lip on the front guards, unique engine hatches, and crescent air intakes in the D-pillars (later models after the Type 4 engine option was offered, have squared off intakes). The 1971 Type 2 featured a new, 1.6 litre engine with dual intake ports on each cylinder head and was DIN-rated at 50 bhp. An important change came with the introduction of front disc brakes and new roadwheels with brake ventilation holes and flatter hubcaps. Up until 1972, front indicators are set low on the nose rather than high on either side of the fresh air grille – giving rise to their being nicknamed “Low Lights”. 1972’s most prominent change was a bigger engine compartment to fit the larger 1.7- to 2.0-litre engines from the Volkswagen Type 4, and a redesigned rear end which eliminated the removable rear apron and introduced the larger late tail lights. The air inlets were also enlarged to accommodate the increased cooling air needs of the larger engines. In 1971 the 1600cc Type 1 engine as used in the Beetle, was supplemented with the 1700cc Type 4 engine – as it was originally designed for the Type 4 (411 and 412) models. European vans kept the option of upright fan Type 1 1600 engine but the 1700 Type 4 became standard for US spec models. In the Type 2, the Type 4 engine, or “pancake engine”, was an option for the 1972 model year onward. This engine was standard in models destined for the US and Canada. Only with the Type 4 engine did an automatic transmission become available for the first time in the 1973 model year. Both engines were 1.7 L, DIN-rated at 66 bhp with the manual transmission and 62 bhp with the automatic. The Type 4 engine was enlarged to 1.8 L and 67 bhp DIN for the 1974 model year and again to 2.0 L and 70 bhp DIN for the 1976 model year. The two-litre option appeared in South African manufactured models during 1976, originally only in a comparably well-equipped “Executive” model. The 1978 2.0 L now featured hydraulic valve lifters, eliminating the need to periodically adjust the valve clearances as on earlier models. The 1975 and later U.S. model years received Bosch L-Jetronic electronic fuel injection as standard equipment; 1978 was the first year for electronic ignition, utilizing a hall effect sensor and digital controller, eliminating maintenance-requiring contact-breaker points. As with all Transporter engines, the focus in development was not on power, but on low-end torque. The Type 4 engines were considerably more robust and durable than the Type 1 engines, particularly in Transporter service. In 1972, exterior revisions included relocated front turn indicators, squared off and set higher in the valance, above the headlights. Also, square-profiled bumpers, which became standard until the end of the T2 in 1979, were introduced in 1973. Crash safety improved with this change because of a compressible structure behind the front bumper. This meant that the T2b was capable of meeting US safety standards for passenger cars of the time, though not required of vans. The “VW” emblem on the front valance became slightly smaller. Later model changes were primarily mechanical. By 1974, the T2 had gained its final shape. Very late in the T2’s design life, during the late 1970s, the first prototypes of Type 2 vans with four-wheel drive (4WD) were built and tested.
I enjoyed all these visits. Even if there were no cars to see, this is a venue that is well worth experiencing, as the food is both of good quality and sensibly priced and the location is very welcoming regardless of the weather. Add in the cars as well, and it is not hard to see why so many people have made this a regular haunt. I plan to do that, too. hoping to be able to stop by whenever I am in the area. Look out for further reports from this venue over the coming months.