By the time May comes around, my events schedule is usually pretty full, with conflicts causing more than a few difficult decisions on where to go for an automotive fix, but for some reason, the first full weekend of May, which included the second Sunday of the month, appeared clear, with nothing to which I was already committed. That meant that all I had to do was to choose between the two Breakfast Club meets which clash every month: Shelsley Walsh or Bristol. The former was tempting, as I have not been this year, but with their new policy of needing to pre-register, which I had not done, and the fact that it is over an hour away, whereas Queen Square is just 8 miles and 15 minutes from home, I decided to stay local, meaning that I have now attended every other gathering at this location in 2016. That could have meant seeing mostly the same cars as on previous occasions, as there are many regulars who come this event more frequently than me, but when I got there, this does not really seem to be the case, with plenty of cars that I had not seen before. The popularity of the Breakfast Club has meant that people are arriving ever earlier, and sure enough when I got there at 7:45am, there were barely any parking spaces left on the inner perimeter of the Square. Cars continued to arrive at quite a rate, filling every available and unavailable space. And then at around 9:30am, two traffic wardens arrived. They immediately radio-ed for reinforcements, and they started systematically walking around the Square, requesting that unless everyone who was parked on the pavement or a yellow line moved their car, then they would be ticketed. Many took to their cars, and started to circumnavigate the Square, hoping to spot an alternative space, of which, of course, there were none until a few people actually departed. It completed paralysed all traffic movement for a good half an hour, which whilst good for the photographer, created plenty of other problems. Only a sharp shower encouraged people to head away altogether, free-ing the traffic flow. Sadly, this further proves the view that this event has become a victim of its own success, and has simply outgrown the location. That there continue to be a very small minority of people who see no issue in revving their engines hard at 8am despite requests that people specifically do not do this (the man in the grey E63 AMG Mercedes, that includes you). The whole future of this event in this location could be in the hands of the attendees and it only takes a couple of individuals to kill it off for everyone. These issues notwithstanding, there was of course lots that was good and interesting, and this report shows some, but by no means all of the cars that were present at some point during the morning.
When I attended in March, there were 4 Abarths present, but this month, there was just one: mine. Although it is 7 years now since the 500 Abarth first hit the UK’s roads, and several thousand of them have been sold, you can still go several days without seeing another one, and when they are shown, they always attract plenty of attention. I could see – sometimes from a discreet distance – that there were lots of people having a good look at my 595 Competizione 180.
I can’t think of a Queen Square Breakfast Club that I’ve been to (and that’s quite a few now, over the years) where there has not been at least one Cobra, or more accurately a Cobra replica or continuation series cars. This meet was not going to change that, though my pictures only seem to have recorded one example this time, a 427 replica.
There were several Alfa Romeo models here, and, according to Nick Grange, who has recently taken up the organiser’s reins of the Bristol Area section of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club, some of them were cars that have not been seen at the event before. Others are regulars, of course, and that is certainly the case for Nick’s 33 Veloce. Believe it or not, the 33 is actually the best selling Alfa in history, with just under a million of them sold between 1983 and 1994. Of course, precious few seem to have survived, as the car struggled to gain the affections of the enthusiasts in the way that the model’s predecessor, the AlfaSud, did, so when rust and old age came on, the vast majority of the cars were simply scrapped. There were two distinct generations of the 33. The first ran from 1983 until 1990 and then a major facelift was applied with new front and rear styling to bring the looks more into line with the new 164. A mild facelift was applied to the first 905 series cars in late 1986. Exterior alterations were limited to clear indicator lens, wheel covers and alloy wheels of new design, the adoption of side skirts on all models, and a new front grille. Two-tone paint schemes were discontinued. There were more significant changes inside, with a more conventionally designed dashboard and steering wheel, which superseded the innovative moveable instrument binnacle. All 1.5 variants now had the 105 PS engine from the now discontinued 1.5 QV; a TI (Turismo Internazionale) trim level was exclusive to the front-wheel drive 1.5 hatchback. Changes were made to the suspension, brakes and gearbox, with closer-spaced ratios. A new 1,712 cc 116 bhp engine was introduced on the 1.7 Quadrifoglio Verde, which replaced the 1.5 QV. The 1.7 engine was developed from the 1.5 by enlarging bore and stroke; it also used new cylinder heads, incorporating hydraulic tappets. To cope with the increased power the new QV was equipped with vented front brake discs. The 1.7 QV looked close to its predecessor, but had lost the grey mid-body stripe and gained new alloy wheels, wind deflectors on the front windows, more pronounced side skirts and a rear body-colour spoiler on the boot lid. Inside it featured a leather-covered steering wheel, red carpets, and leatherette-backed sport seats upholstered in a grey/black/red chequered cloth. Diesel models were offered in some continental markets, but these were not sold in the UK, where only 1.5 and 1.7 Green Cloverleaf hatchback models were sold, as well as a market-specific 1.7 Sportwagon estate; all three were also available in “Veloce” versions, outfitted by Alfa Romeo GB with a colour-matching Zender body kit. Nick’s car is one of these.
This 75 is a car which apparently has not been seen at the event before. The Alfa 75 is one those cars to which time has been kind. Considered a bit of a left field choice when new, more and more people have written approving words about the car as time goes by, with many focusing on the handling prowess of this rear wheel drive saloon as reason for their respect for its talents. Launched in 1985, as a replacement for the stubby-tailed 116 Series Giulietta that you rarely see these days, the 75 took its name from the fact that it marked the 75th anniversary of the founding of Alfa Romeo. Although the majority of 75 models that were produced between 1985 and 1992 were powered by either the 1.8 or 2 litre Twin Spark 4 cylinder or 2.5 and 3 litre V6 engines, there were some special cars produced, too, largely to homologate the car for motorsport. 500 examples of the Turbo Evoluzione were produced in spring 1987 to meet Group A requirements. The car had many modifications compared to the normal turbo model. The engine was down-sleeved to 1,762 cc from 1,779 cc and while the claimed power is the same as in the standard turbo, this engine is better suited for power upgrades than the standard 75 Turbo engine.
Skipping forward a couple of generations of the mid-sized Alfa, and we get to the stunning 156. Alfa enjoyed something of a renaissance in the late 1990s and much of that can be attributed to this car, a sports saloon which not only won the “Car of the Year” award, but also generated plenty of magazine headlines asserting that it was a better car than the previously indomitable 3 Series BMW. I owned a 2.5 V6 model for 30 months, and almost had to have the keys forcibly removed from my pocket at the end of the lease. It was a beautiful car that drove well, and was just the right size, before cars underwent the bloat of recent years. The range started off with 1.8 and 2 litre 4 cylinder Twin Spark cars and the 192 bhp 2.5 V6 model, and then in the following years this expanded with a 1.6 litre at the bottom of the range, a couple of diesels and the high end GTA which had a bored out 250 bhp 3.2 litre V6 to power it. The stylish Sport Wagon arrived in 2000, to rival the 3 series Touring. There was one example of the model type here.
Alfa models that do appear here pretty regularly are examples of the the 916 Series GTV, and there were a couple present this month, a “regular” model and one of the limited edition GTV Cup cars. Thoughts about producing a replacement for the Alfetta GTV and the much older 105 Series Spider go back to the late 1980s. The task was handed to Pininfarina, and Enrico Fumia’s initial renderings were produced in September 1987, with the first clay models to complete 1:1 scale model made in July 1988. Fumia produced something rather special. Clearly an Italian design, with the Alfa Romeo grille with dual round headlights, recalling the Audi-based Pininfarina Quartz, another design produced by Enrico Fumia back in 1981, the proposal was for a car that was low-slung, wedge-shaped with a low nose and high kicked up tail. The back of the car is “cut-off” with a “Kamm tail” giving improved aerodynamics. The Spider would share these traits with the GTV except that the rear is rounded, and would feature a folding soft-top with five hoop frame, which would completely disappear from sight under a flush fitting cover. An electric folding mechanism would be fitted as an option. Details included a one-piece rear lamp/foglamp/indicator strip across the rear of the body, the minor instruments in the centre console angled towards the driver. The exterior design was finished in July 1988. After Vittorio Ghidella, Fiat’s CEO, accepted the design, Alfa Romeo Centro Stile under Walter de Silva was made responsible for the completion of the detail work and also for the design of the interiors, as Pininfarina’s proposal was not accepted. The Spider and GTV were to be based on the then-current Fiat Group platform, called Tipo Due, in this case a heavily modified version with an all new multilink rear suspension. The front suspension and drivetrain was based on the 1992 Alfa Romeo 155 saloon. Chief engineer at that time was Bruno Cena. Drag coefficient was 0.33 for the GTV and 0.38 for the Spider. Production began in late 1993 with four cars, all 3.0 V6 Spiders, assembled at the Alfa Romeo Arese Plant in Milan. In early 1994 the first GTV was produced, with 2.0 Twin Spark engine. The first premiere was then held at the Paris Motor Show in 1994. The GTV and Spider were officially launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1995 and sales began the same year. The cars were well received. At launch, many journalists commented that Alfa had improved overall build quality considerably and that it came very close to equalling its German rivals. I can vouch for that, as I owned an early GTV for eighteen months, and it was a well built and reliable car. In 1997 a new engine, a 24-valve 3.0 litre V6, was available for the GTV along with bigger, 12.0 inch brakes and red four-pot calipers from Brembo. The console knobs were changed from round central to rectangle ones and to a three-spoke steering wheel. Some versions were upgraded with different front bumper mesh to bring the wind noise down to 74 dBA. In May 1998 the cars were revamped for the first time, creating the Phase 2 models. Most of the alterations were inside. The interior was changed with new centre console, painted letters on skirt seals, changed controls and switches arrangement and different instrument cluster. Outside, the main changes included chrome frame around the grille and colour-coded side skirts and bumpers. A new engine was introduced, the 142 hp 1.8 Twin Spark, and others were changed: the 2.0 Twin Spark was updated with a modular intake manifold with different length intakes and a different plastic cover. Power output of the 2.0 TS was raised to 153 hp. Engines changed engine management units and have a nomenclature of CF2. The dashboard was available in two new colours in addition to the standard black: Red Style and Blue Style, and with it new colour-coded upholstery and carpets. The 3.0 24V got a six-speed manual gearbox as standard and the 2.0 V6 TB engine was now also available for the Spider. August 2000 saw the revamp of engines to comply with new emission regulations, Euro3. The new engines were slightly detuned, and have a new identification code: CF3. 3.0 V6 12V was discontinued for the Spider and replaced with 24V Euro3 version from the GTV. 2.0 V6 Turbo and 1.8 T.Spark were discontinued as they did not comply with Euro3 emissions. By the 2001-2002 model year, only 2 engines were left, the 2.0 Twin.Spark and 3.0 V6 24V, until the Phase 3 engine range arrived. The Arese plant, where the cars had been built, was closing and, in October 2000, the production of GTV/Spider was transferred to Pininfarina Plant in San Giorgio Canavese in Turin. In 2003 there was another and final revamp, creating the Phase 3, also designed in Pininfarina but not by Enrico Fumia. The main changes were focused on the front with new 147-style grille and different front bumpers with offset numberplate holder. Change to the interior was minimal with different centre console and upholstery pattern and colours available. Instrument illumination colour was changed from green to red. Main specification change is an ASR traction control, not available for 2.0 TS Base model. New engines were introduced: 163 hp 2.0 JTS with direct petrol injection and 237 hp 3.2 V6 24V allowing a 158 mph top speed. Production ceased in late 2004, though some cars were still available for purchase till 2006. A number of limited edition cars were produced during the model’s lifetime, of which the Cup, produced in 2001, is perhaps the best known. Based on the 3.0 V6 version, and inspired by a one-model Alfa GTV Cup race series, 419 of these cars were made. There were 180 3.0 V6 24V GTV Cups, out of which 155 RHD versions and 239 cars with 150 PS 2.0 TS were available in LHD only. 3.0 V6 cars were only produced in red ,while 2.0 TS cars were mostly silver with a few examples in red. Limited edition plaques, that were made of silver, differed for the RHD and LHD versions, having red and black texts accordingly. The differences between the standard car and the Cup version were a factory standard rear spoiler, front spoiler, side skirts, wheel arch side vents and titanium-like finish 17″ ‘telephone dial’ alloys, whilst mechanically the car was the same as the regular 215 hp V6. The interior was different in that had leather-material upholstery.
When it came to replacing the GTV, Alfa decided to offer two new Coupe models, the GT which offered space for 4 adults, based on a mix of 147 and 156 componentry and the Brera, which shared its platform and front end styling with the 159. A Spider version was developed in parallel. Both cars had their own unique Pininfarina styling from the A pillars rearwards. They were offered with the same range of engines as the 159, and thanks to that strong, but rather heavy platform on which they were built, even the 3.2 litre V6 cars were more Grand Tourer than rapid sports car. The Brera was first to market, in 2005, with the Spider following in 2006. Production of both ceased in late 2010, by which time 12,488 units of the Spider and 21,786 units of the Brera had been built. It will be very surprising if these do not attain classic status, and the consequent rise in values, though that has not happened yet. It was the Spider model which was on show here.
Final Alfa here was David Root’s Special, which was parked up even before I arrived, meaning that he must have made a particularly early start. I’ve written about this car several times, conveying a combination of its history – from information which David has typed up and presents on a laminated sheet which is displayed with his car – and something of its inspiration. I’d never really checked the detail of this last point, having formed my own conclusions based on what I knew of 1930s Alfas which David had always said were the inspiration behind this unique car that he created himself. It would seem that my assumptions were not quite correct, and I am happy to put the record straight. I had assumed that it was designed an homage to the 1935 8C Tipo C 35 Monoposto, a race car of which just 8 were built in 1935 and in which Tazio Nuvolari won the 1936 Coppa Ciano. But in fact, the real inspiration, and car of David’s dreams was the 8C2900. This was produced at around the same time in 1935, but to understand it, you have to go back a bit earlier in the 1930s to the equally desirable 8C2300. This was the first car with the now legendary 8 cylinder engine, developed by Vittorio Jano and which went on to score at least one victory in every major race and championship. In its initial 1931 configuration, the engine displaced 2336 cc, it grew gradually to 2905 cc, primarily by increasing the stroke. The engine was created by mounting two alloy blocks of four cylinders on a single crankcase. On top of the two blocks an alloy head was installed, housing two camshafts. Aspiration was forced, through two Roots-Type Superchargers. Although the engine increased in size throughout its career, its layout and auxiliaries remained very much similar to Jano’s 1931 design. One of the best known racing cars powered by the 8 cylinder engine was the Tipo B or P3 of 1932, which is to date considered as one of the finest Grand Prix racers ever constructed. Run by Enzo Ferrari’s Scuderia Ferrari, the Alfa Romeos were almost unbeatable. From its 1931 introduction, the 8C 2300 took four straight victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, driven by talented drivers like Tazio Nuvolari and Luigi Chinetti. Tazio Nuvolari’s brilliance was even more visible when driving the P3, the first single seater racer ever. The P3 was unbeaten in 1933, but eventually succumbed to defeat by the greater budgets being spent by Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union. With the rise of the German Grand Prix teams, Alfa Romeo focused more of its attention on sportscar and road racing. Designed specifically for Italy’s most legendary road race, the Mille Miglia, was the 8C 2900. Much like the contemporary Grand Prix racers, the 8C 2900 featured all-round independent suspension, with wishbones at the front and swing-axles at the rear. Installed in the chassis was a 220 bhp version of the 2905cc eight cylinder engine, which was created by mounting two four-cylinder alloy blocks on a single crankcase with twin Roots-type superchargers attached. The suspension was all-independent with wishbones in the front and the rear had swing-axles. A total of six of these road racers, later known as 8C 2900A, were constructed. Three of these were entered in the 1936 running of the Mille Miglia. The new cars were immediately successful and occupied the first three places at the finish with the Brivio and Ongaro driven 8C on top. A year the cars secured a second victory and the next two places. With the winning cars as a base, a road going customer version was constructed. Dubbed 8C 2900B, the road car featured a de-tuned engine, with 40 hp less, but other than that were very similar to the racer and even in this guise they were the fastest production vehicle in the world at the time. Two versions were available, the 2800 mm short wheelbase (Corto) and 3000 mm long wheelbase (Lungo) versions. Most of these were sent to Touring to be fitted with Berlinetta, Spyder and Roadster bodies. With its competition chassis and high top speed it was faster and quicker than anything its competition had to offer. Due to its high price, only a very few of these supercars were constructed, just 10 Lungo and 20 Corto chassis cars. Being very similar to the competition 8C 2900A, it came as no surprise the 8C 2900B was used as a racer as well. To suit this purpose Alfa Romeo constructed a further 13 8C 2900B chassis fitted with the 220 bhp engine. Many of these were fitted with roadster bodies and were entered in road races like the Mille Miglia. After the two 8C 2900A victories in 1936 and 1937, another two victories were scored by the 8C 2900B in 1938 and 1947. No other Alfa Romeo has scored as many Mille Miglia victories as the 8C 2900. Needless to say, on the rare occasions that one of these legends comes up for sale, there is an eight figure price tag, putting the car well out of reach of most of us. Like many of us, David dreamed of owning a car like the original, but unlike most of us, he did the next best thing to paying the millions and decided to create his own. The story starts back in 1989, somewhat deterred by the thought of the hours that could be spent lying underneath a rusty wreck at the side of the road, missing some obscure part that would need to be made specially, he decided to opt for a special combining retro styling with new bodywork and reasonably modern mechanics. A company called Classic Specials created that something, combining a bespoke chassis using MGB mechanics with a Lenham Healey bodyshell. Ten years later, in 1999, at the Castle Combe Classic Action Day he ‘blew’ the trusty B Series engine and that was the turning point which caused him to wonder if he could not actually design his own car. Many of us dream of doing this, but he actually decided to set about the task. Using the MG-Lenham chassis and Lenham Healey rear bodywork, the MG engine and gearbox were replaced with those from a 1969 Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV. Then a body had to be designed and constructed. This was done by making a buck from the aeroscreens forward, which was used to make a mould and moulding. Whilst it is not a precise rendering of the classic 8C2900, the result, he result which is variously described as an Alfa Special or a “Bitsarrini, looks very professional, and the car always generates lots of positive and appreciative comments whenever it is displayed. Today was no exception.
Sole Aston Martin of the day was a DB7, a car which is no exaggeration to say was single-handedly responsible for saving this much loved marque from otherwise certain extinction. The DB7 was produced by Aston Martin from September 1994 to December 2004 and sold in greater volume than all Astons previously made, with over 7000 built. Known internally as the NPX project, the DB7 was made mostly with resources from Jaguar and had the financial backing of the Ford Motor Company, owner of Aston Martin from 1988 to 2007. The DB7’s platform was an evolution of the Jaguar XJS’s, though with many changes. The styling started life as the still-born Jaguar F type (XJ41 – coupe / XJ42 – convertible) designed by Keith Helfet. Ford cancelled this car and the general design was grafted onto an XJS platform. The styling received modest changes by Ian Callum so that it looked like an Aston Martin. The first generation Jaguar XK-8 also uses an evolution of the XJ-S/DB7 platform and the cars share a family resemblance, though the Aston Martin was significantly more expensive and rare. The prototype was complete by November 1992, and debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in March, 1993, with the car positioned as an “entry-level” model below the hand-built V8 Virage introduced a few years earlier. With production of the Virage (soon rechristened “V8” following Vantage styling revisions) continuing at Newport Pagnell, a new factory was acquired at Bloxham, Oxfordshire that had previously been used to produce the Jaguar XJ220, where every DB7 would be built throughout its production run. The DB7 and its relatives were the only Aston Martins produced in Bloxham and the only ones with a steel unit construction inherited from Jaguar . Aston Martin had traditionally used aluminium for the bodies of their cars, and models introduced after the DB7 use aluminium for the chassis as well as for many major body parts. The convertible Volante version was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in 1996. Both versions have a supercharged straight-six engine that produced 335 bhp and 361 lb·ft of torque. The Works Service provided a special Driving Dynamics package, which greatly enhanced performance and handling for drivers who wanted more than what the standard configuration offered. In 1999, the more powerful DB7 V12 Vantage was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show. Its 5.9 litre, 48-valve, V12 engine produced 420 bhp and 400 lb·ft of torque. It has a compression ratio of 10.3:1. Transmissions were available with either a TREMEC T-56 six speed manual or a ZF 5HP30 five speed automatic gearbox. Aston Martin claimed it had a top speed of either 186 mph with the manual gearbox or 165 mph with the automatic gearbox, and would accelerate from 0–60 mph in 4.9 seconds.It is 4,692 mm long, 1,830 mm (72.0 in) wide, 1,243 mm (48.9 in) high, with a weight of 1,800 kg (3,968.3 lb). After the launch of the Vantage, sales of the supercharged straight-6 engine DB7 had reduced considerably and so production was ended by mid-1999. In 2002, a new variant was launched, named V12 GT or V12 GTA when equipped with an automatic transmission. It was essentially an improved version of the Vantage, its V12 engine producing 435 bhp and 410 lb·ft of torque for the manual GT, although the automatic GTA retained the 420 bhp and 400 lb·ft of torque of the standard DB7 Vantage. Additionally, the GT and GTA chassis had substantially updated suspension from the DB7 Vantage models. Aesthetically, compared to the Vantage it has a mesh front grille, vents in the bonnet, a boot spoiler, an aluminium gear lever, optional carbon fibre trim and new wheels. It also has 355 mm (14.0 in) front and 330 mm (13.0 in) rear vented disc brakes made by Brembo. When being tested by Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear in 2003, he demonstrated the car’s ability to pull away in fourth gear and continue until it hit the rev limiter: the speedometer indicated 135 mph. Production of the GT and GTA was extremely limited, as only 190 GT’s and 112 GTA’s were produced worldwide with 17 of them shipped to the US market, for a total of 302 cars
Most of the Audi models here were RS cars, with, once again, two current RS3 models proudly on display as well as a B7 generation RS4 Avant, and the earlier (and now somewhat modified) B5 2.7 litre twin turbo S4 in Avant guise.
There was also an R8, belonging to the owner of the Swindon Karting Centre, which did several laps of the Square, and only parked up very late on during the morning.
Oldest Audi here, and certainly the rarest these days was a C3 generation 100 Avant. I’ve seen this car make a brief appearance here before on a couple of occasions, but both times, it seems to arrived mid morning, done a lap of a very full Square and headed off again, so it was nice this time to be able to see if close up and get some pictures, even if the purist in me did not really approve of the wheels on it. Audi launched the third generation of model to bear the 100 name in October 1982, and immediately hit the headlines as not only did the car have an aerodynamic look, but it achieved a drag coefficient of just 0.30 for its smoothest base model, which was the lowest of any production car on sale at the time. As well as making all its rivals look instantly old-fashioned, the increased aerodynamic efficiency resulted in better fuel economy and allowed Audi to use the 5 cylinder 2.1 litre engine as the top model (initially) and yet be competitive in performance terms with engines nearer 3 litres than 2. There were lots of detailed design features which contributed to this aerodynamic performance, but perhaps the most significant was the use of flush windows, something which has been adopted by virtually all manufacturers today. Audi later introduced another innovation on the 100, which was the Procon-Ten safety system, which pulled the steering column forward, away from the driver if there was a frontal impact. Not surprisingly, the 100 won the Car of the Year award a few weeks after launch, and it went on to sell strongly for the next 9 years when it was replaced by the C4 generation model. The range grew during that time, with the Avant added in early 1984. Unlike the previous generation, where it was a Hatch model, this time, the Avant was a shapely estate car, which lost little of the aerodynamic efficiency of the saloon and yet had far greater carrying capacity. As with the previous model, there was a 200 range as well. Launched in 1983 this was the upmarket brother, sharing the same body, but with more powerful engines, including a very potent Turbo, and greater levels of equipment. Audi offered a range of engines in the car during its lifetime, most of them based on the 5 cylinder unit, but lesser 4 cylinder engines also found their way under the bonnet, along with a number of diesel units, and the quattro all wheel drive system, became an option.
Sole pre-war car of the meet was this diminutive Austin Seven.
This late model “Big Healey” 3000 was making another appearance.
Just as Audi was dominated by RS models, so the BMWs here were mostly M models, with an E30 M3, an E46 Cabrio, an E92 Coupe and a couple of the latest M4 models meaning that only the E36 generation was unrepresented.
There were also a couple of Z cars, both from the Z3 family. This is BMW’s first mass-produced mass market roadster, and was the first new BMW model to be manufactured in the United States. In E number speak, it was coded the E36/7, for the roadster variant which was first to market, being introduced in 1995, and E36/8 refers to the coupe variant which was released in 1999. The Z, as used for the earlier Z1, and later Z4 and Z8 models stands for Zukunft, which is German for “future”. The BMW Z3 was introduced via video press release by BMW North America on June 12, 1995 and made a short appearance in the James Bond film GoldenEye on November 17, 1995. Karen Sortito was responsible for the campaign, and sales of the Z3 spiked as the film sat at number one at the Box Office. In the 1996 production run, more than 15,000 roadsters were sold by the time the car was introduced. Initially it was offered with a 1.9 litre 4 cylinder engine, though a 2.8 litre V6 unit soon joined it. Additional engine choices came along during the model’s lifetime, of which the one which got the enthusiasts most interested was when the 3.2 litre unit from the M3 was squeezed under the bonnet to create a car which was officially known as the M Roadster, though many refer to it as the Z3M. There were some visual differences as well, including a more aerodynamic front bumper with no fog lights, a rear bumper designed to fit quad exhausts, temperature and oil gauges in the centre console, an M sports steering wheel and gear lever, M seats and 17-inch M wheels. Outside mirrors also have a more aerodynamic design. The front gills on Z3M models are different as well, with a chrome strip running through them. Z3M models did not share cosmetic changes from the facelift, but they had and bigger brakes. In 2000, the S52 engine replaced the S50 and this was updated again with the S54 engine installed in the 2001 and 2002 model year vehicles. The Coupe version, an example of which was present was mechanically the same as the Roadster and was added to the range in mid 1999. This model was fearsomely expensive when new and hence sold in tiny quantities. BMW did in due course offer the Coupe body, with its unusual breadvan styling with less powerful engines, but only the 6 cylinder units. A facelift for the range was introduced in 2000, and the Z3 ended production in 2002 when it was replaced by the BMW Z4.
I followed this Bristol Fighter all the way down the M32, so was optimistic that it was heading for the event, even though the driver took a different route through the central part of Bristol, and sure enough, it arrived more or less the same time as I did. There is an element of mystery around the Fighter, as indeed there is with all Bristol Cars and that is exactly how the late Tony Crook wanted it to be. What is known is the Fighter was produced in very small numbers from 2004 until the company suspended manufacturing in 2011. It has a coupé body with gullwing doors which, was designed by former Brabham Formula One engineer Max Boxstrom and a good aerodynamic performance with a Cd of 0.28. The rear wheel drive Fighter uses a front-mounted V10 engine of 7,996 cc based on that of the Dodge Viper and the Dodge Ram SRT-10 pick up but modified by Bristol to produce 525 bhp at 5,600 rpm and 515 lb·ft (698 N·m) of torque at 4,200 rpm. This was in keeping with Bristol’s use of Chrysler engines since 1961. In the more powerful Fighter S the engine was tuned to give 628 hp (660 hp at high speed using the ram air effect). The car weighed 1,600 kg (3,527 lb). Owners could choose between a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Although there were never any independent tests published, it was claimed it could achieve the 0–60 mph sprint in 4.0 seconds, and enjoys a power-to-weight ratio of 267.8 kW/ton (362 bhp/ton). The car has a claimed top speed of 210 mph. The greatest mystery is how many were built. Some say just 8, whilst others put the number at 13. Either way, this is a rare car.
Making another appearance at the event was this Buick Riviera. The model was launched in 1963, so this would seem to be an early car. Its origins go back to the previous decade. In the late 1950s, GM lacked a personal luxury car to compete with the highly successful Ford Thunderbird—a uniquely styled, two-door, four-passenger car. To fill this gap, an experimental Cadillac design, the XP-715, was created. Its angular styling was reportedly inspired by GM styling chief Bill Mitchell’s visit to London during the period, when he was struck by the sight of an elegant, custom-bodied Rolls Royce. He later said that “knife-edged” styling was what he wanted for the new model, but with a lower profile. The design itself was penned by stylist Ned Nickles. However, Cadillac management was not particularly interested in such a vehicle and in 1960 the project was thrown open for competition by the other GM divisions. Buick, desperate to revive its flagging sales, enlisted the aid of the McCann-Erickson advertising agency to create its presentation. Buick won, and the finished design was adapted to a shortened version of Buick’s cruciform frame. The design was substantially the same as the original, although the hidden headlights—originally concealed in the fender grilles—were initially omitted for cost reasons. The production Riviera’s distinctive bodyshell was unique to it, which was unusual for a GM product. It rode a cruciform frame similar to the standard Buick frame, but shorter and narrower, with a 2.0 in narrower track. Its wheelbase of 117 in and overall length of 208 in were 6.0 inches and 7.7 in shorter, respectively, than a Buick LeSabre, but slightly longer than a contemporary Thunderbird. At 3,998 lb it was about 390 pounds lighter than either. It shared the standard Buick V8 engines, with a displacement of either 401 cu in (6.57 litres) or 425 cu in (6.96 litres), and had a unique continuously variable design twin turbine automatic transmission. Power brakes were standard, using Buick’s massive “Al-Fin” (aluminium finned) drums of 12 in diameter. Power steering was standard equipment, with an overall steering ratio of 20.5:1, giving 3.5 turns lock-to-lock. Rather than the “Sweepspear” used on beltlines of earlier Buicks with the Riviera package, the new Riviera sported new “Coke bottle styling”, with the middle of the body exhibiting a tapered tucked-in appearance. The Riviera was introduced on October 4, 1962, as a 1963 model, with the 325 hp 401 cu in (6.6 litre) “Nailhead” V-8 as the only available engine, fitted with dual exhaust as standard equipment, and the turbine drive the only transmission, at a base price of $4,333, though typical delivered prices with options ran upwards of $5,000. Buick announced in December 1962, the availability of a 340 hp 425 cu in (7.0 litre version of the Nailhead as an option. Total production was deliberately limited to 40,000 vehicles (in a year that Buick sold 440,000 units overall) to emphasise its exclusivity and to increase demand; only 2,601 of them were delivered with the 425 cu in engine in the 1963 model year. The Riviera continued with minimal trim changes for 1964. For 1965, Buick introduced the “Gran Sport” option, which included the dual-quad Super Wildcat 425 V8, a numerically higher 3.42 axle ratio, and stiffer, heavy-duty suspension. The stock dual exhaust pipes were increased from 2.0 inches to 2.25 inches inside diameter and had fewer turns to reduce backpressure. The 401 cu in V8 returned as the standard Riviera engine and the Super Turbine 400 transmission retained the variable pitch torque converter, but was fitted with a three-speed gear selector. Externally, the headlamps were concealed behind clamshell doors in the leading edges of each fender, as in the original design. Further back, the non-functional side scoops between the doors and rear wheel arches were removed, and the taillights were moved from the body into the rear bumper. A vinyl roof became available as an option, initially offered only in black, and the tilt steering wheel optional in previous years was now standard equipment. A second generation model, based on the first was announced for the 1966 model year. This and all subsequent models, although still well liked would never quite hit the same spot as the first Riviera. Total sales for the three model years was a respectable 112,244. All in all, the Riviera was extremely well received and considered a great success, giving the Thunderbird its first real competition. These days the car is considered highly collectible.
There was a second Buick here, a 1959 Le Sabre, which arrived just as the traffic jam made movement around the Square slow to non-existent. I don’t think the owner actually parked up, but at least I could get a good look at the car as it sat in the traffic. For 1959, Buick applied new names to all their cars, with LeSabre being adopted in place of Special, which meant that it was the entry level model. Sitting above it came the Invicta and the Electra. The styling was all new, too. The 1959 Buicks adopted the new GM B- and C-body used on all of the corporation’s full-sized cars. The larger C-body used on the Electra as well as the Oldsmobile 98 and all Cadillacs was basically a stretched out B-body rather than a distinct body and chassis for 1959–60. Wheelbases increased by one inch on all models. The new styling included slanted headlights in front along with a chromed square grille somewhat similar to the 1958 Buick and “Delta-wing” fins back along with round taillights. The appearance was shared with two other Buick models, the mid-level Invicta and the top model Electra. While Invicta and Electra/225 models were powered by Buick’s new 401-cubic-inch V8, LeSabre continued with the 364-cubic-inch V8 previously used in all Buicks in 1957 and 1958. In standard form, the engine delivered 250 hp with a two-barrel carburettor and 10.25 to 1 compression ratio (with Dynaflow transmission; manual transmission cars had a lower 8.5 to 1 compression ratio but horsepower was still rated at 250). Optionally available was a four-barrel version of the 364 rated at 300 hp. A three-speed manual transmission was standard on LeSabre but most cars were built with the optional two-speed Dynaflow automatic transmission that was standard equipment on the Invicta and Electra/225. A three-speed “Triple Turbine” Dynaflow variant was also available. Power steering and power brakes were optional and all 1959 Buicks used the unique 12-inch finned aluminium brake drums for improved stopping power that were originally introduced on the 1957 Roadmaster. For 1960, the LeSabre received a minor facelift with a concave grille and horizontal headlights centered by Buick’s then-new “Tri-Shield” logo, which is still in use today. Re-introduced to Electras and other Buicks for 1960 were the chrome “VentiPort” portholes first introduced in 1940 and last seen in 1957. LeSabre and Invicta models had three portholes while Electras and Electra 225s were “four-holers”. Inside, a revised instrument panel featured a “Mirromatic” speedometer for which the lens could be adjusted to better visibility to suit the driver. A new two-spoke steering wheel with horn bars was introduced, replacing the time-honoured horn ring then still common to most automobiles. The 250- and 300 hp 364-cubic-inch V8s were continued from 1959, but a new no-cost option was a 235 hp lower-compression two-barrel version of the 364 with a lower compression ratio to permit use of regular-grade gasoline instead of the premium fuel required with all other Buick engines. There was another completely new -and somewhat toned down – design for 1961.
Just as in March, there was a Cadillac Coupe de Ville here, but this time it was a 1964 model, earlier than the one seen last time I was here, and dating from that year means that it was from the second series of Cadillac to bear the Coupe de Ville name. Cadillac had restyled and re-engineered this model for 1961. A new grille slanted back towards both the bumper and the hood lip, along the horizontal plane, and sat between dual headlamps. New forward slanting front pillars with non-wraparound windshield glass were seen. The revised backlight treatment had crisp angular lines with thin pillars on some models and heavier semi-blind quarter roof posts on others. De Ville models featured front series designation scripts and a lower body “skeg” trimmed with a thin, three-quarter-length spear moulding running from behind the front wheel opening to the rear of the car. Standard equipment included power brakes, power steering, automatic transmission, dual backup lights, windshield washer, dual speed wipers, wheel discs, plain fender skirts, outside rearview mirror, vanity mirror, oil filter, power windows and 2-way power seats. Rubberised front and rear coil springs replaced the trouble prone air suspension system. Four-barrel induction systems were now the sole power choice and dual exhaust were no longer available. A new short-decked four-door Town Sedan hardtop appeared mid-season. A mild face lift characterised Cadillac styling trends for 1962. A flatter grille with a thicker horizontal centre bar and more delicate cross-hatched insert appeared. Ribbed chrome trim panel, seen ahead of the front wheel housings in 1961, were now replaced with cornering lamps and front fender model and series identification badges were eliminated. More massive front bumper end pieces appeared and housed rectangular parking lamps. At the rear tail lamps were now housed in vertical nacelles designed with an angled peak at the centre. A vertically ribbed rear beauty panel appeared on the deck lid latch panel. Cadillac script also appeared on the lower left side of the radiator grille. The short-deck hardtop Town Sedan was moved from the De Ville series to the Series 6200, being replaced by a short-deck Park Avenue. In addition all short deck Cadillac models went from being 6-window sedans in 1961 to 4-window sedans in 1962 and 1963. Standard equipment included all of last year’s equipment plus remote controlled outside rearview mirror, five tubeless black wall tires, heater and defroster and front cornering lamps. Cadillac refined the ride and quietness, with more insulation in the floor and behind the firewall. De Ville sales as a separate series exceeded their sales level as a trim level for the first time ever at 71,883 units, or nearly 45% of Cadillac’s total sales. The 1963 Cadillac was essentially the same as the previous year. Exterior changes imparted a bolder and longer look. Hoods and deck lids were redesigned. The front fenders projected 4.625 inches further forward than in 1962 while the tailfins were trimmed down somewhat to provide a lower profile. Body-side sculpturing was entirely eliminated. The slightly V-shaped radiator grille was taller and now incorporated outer extensions that swept below the flush-fender dual headlamps. Smaller circular front parking lamps were mounted in those extensions. A De Ville signature script was incorporated above the lower beltline molding near the rear of the body. A total of 143 options including bucket seats with wool, leather, or nylon upholstery fabrics and wood veneer facings on dash, doors, and seatbacks, set an all-time record for interior appointment choices. Standard equipment was the same as the previous year. The engine was entirely changed, though the displacement and output remained the same, 390 cu in (6.4 litre) and 325 hp. There was another facelift in 1964 and really a minor one. New up front was a bi-angular grille that formed a V-shape along both its vertical and horizontal planes. The main horizontal grille bar was now carried around the body sides. Outer grille extension panels again housed the parking and cornering lamps. It was the 17th consecutive year for the Cadillac tailfins with a new fine-blade design carrying on the tradition. Performance improvements including a larger V-8 were the dominant changes for the model run. Equipment features were same as in 1963 for the most part. Comfort Control, a completely automatic heating and air conditioning system controlled by a dial thermostat on the instrument panel, was introduced as an industry first. The engine was bumped to 429 cu in (7 litre), with 340 hp available. Performance gains from the new engine showed best in the lower range, at 20 to 50 mph traffic driving speeds. A new technical feature was the Turbo-Hydramatic transmission, also used in the Eldorado and the Sixty Special. A De Ville script above the lower belt moulding was continued as an identifier. This was the first year for the De Ville convertible. De Ville sales reached 110,379 units, accounting for nearly two thirds of all Cadillacs sold.
There were a couple of Camaro models here, both of which have been seen at the event before. The Camaro was GM’s very definite response to the huge success of Ford’s Mustang, which had been codenamed Panther. Although there had been rumours that GM was doing something, this was an era when even the journalists were surprised. and on June 21, 1966, around 200 automotive journalists of them were when they received a telegram from General Motors stating, “…please save noon of June 28 for important SEPAW meeting. Hope you can be on hand to help scratch a cat. Details will follow…(signed) John L. Cutter – Chevrolet public relations – SEPAW secretary.” The following day, the same journalists received another General Motors telegram stating, “Society for the Eradication of Panthers from the Automotive World will hold first and last meeting on June 28…(signed) John L. Cutter – Chevrolet public relations SEPAW secretary.” These telegrams were something of a puzzle at the time. On June 28, 1966, General Motors held a live press conference in Detroit’s Statler-Hilton Hotel. It was to be the first time in history that 14 cities were connected in real time for a press conference via telephone lines. Chevrolet general manager Pete Estes started the news conference stating that all attendees of the conference were charter members of the Society for the Elimination of Panthers from the Automotive World and that this would be the first and last meeting of SEPAW. Estes then announced a new car line, project designation XP-836, with a name that Chevrolet chose in keeping with other car names beginning with the letter C such as the Corvair, Chevelle, Chevy II, and Corvette. He claimed the name, suggests the comradeship of good friends as a personal car should be to its owner and that to us, the name means just what we think the car will do… go. The Camaro name was then unveiled. Automotive press asked Chevrolet product managers, what is a Camaro? and were told it was a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs. According to the book “The Complete Book of Camaro: Every Model Since 1967”, the name Camaro was conceived by Chevrolet merchandising manager Bob Lund and General Motors vice president Ed Rollett, while they were reading the book Heath’s French and English Dictionary by James Boïelle and by de V. Payen-Payne printed in 1936. Lund and Rollett found the word “camaro” in the French-English dictionary to mean friend, pal, or comrade. The article further repeated Estes’s statement of what the word camaro was meant to imply, that the car’s name “suggests the comradeship of good friends, as a personal car should be to its owner”. In fact, the actual French word that has that meaning is “camarade”, from which the English word “comrade” is derived, and not “camaro”. “Camaro” is not a recognised word in the French language. Be that as it may, the Camaro was first shown at a press preview in Detroit, Michigan, on September 12, 1966, and then later in Los Angeles, California, on September 19, 1966. Public introduction of the new model was on September 26, 1966. The Camaro officially went on sale in dealerships on September 29, 1966, for the 1967 model year It was an instant success. The first generation model ran for three years before an all new second generation car premiered (late) for the 1970 model year. Dubbed “Super Hugger”, the second-generation Camaro was developed without the rush of the first generation and benefitted from a greater budget justified by the success of the first generation. Although it was an all-new car, the basic mechanical layout of the new Camaro was familiar, engineered much like its predecessor with a unibody structure utilising a front subframe, A-arm and coil spring front suspension, and rear leaf springs. The chassis and suspension of the second generation were greatly refined in both performance and comfort; base models offered significant advances in sound-proofing, ride isolation, and road-holding. Extensive experience Chevrolet engineers had gained racing the first-generation led directly to advances in second-generation Camaro steering, braking, and balance. Although it began its run with a number of high-performance configurations, as the 1970s progressed, the Camaro grew less powerful, succumbing, like many production cars of the era, to the pressures of tightening emissions regulations and a fuel crisis. Major styling changes were made in 1974 and 1978; 1981 was the final model year for the second-generation Camaro and it was one of the 1981 cars which was to be seen here.
There was also an example of the recently superceded Camaro SS here.
There was also a Corvette here, a C4 model, the fourth generation to near the name. It was was the first complete redesign of the Corvette since 1963. Production was to begin for the 1983 model year but quality issues and part delays resulted in only 43 prototypes for the 1983 model year being produced that were never sold. All of the 1983 prototypes were destroyed or serialised to 1984 except one with a white exterior, medium blue interior, L83 350 ci, 205 bhp V8, and 4-speed automatic transmission. After extensive testing and modifications were completed, it was initially retired as a display sitting in an external wall over the Bowling Green Assembly Plant’s employee entrance. Later this only surviving 1983 prototype was removed, restored and is now on public display at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It is still owned by GM. On February 12, 2014, it was nearly lost to a sinkhole which opened up under the museum. Regular fourth generation production began on January 3, 1983; the 1984 model year and delivery to customers began in March 1983. The 1984 model carried over the 350 cu in (5.7 litre) L83 slightly more powerful (5 bhp) “Crossfire” V8 engine from the final 1982 third generation model. New chassis features were aluminium brake calipers and an all-aluminium suspension for weight savings and rigidity. The new one piece targa top had no centre reinforcement. A new electronic dashboard with digital liquid crystal displays for the speedometer and tachometer was standard. Beginning in 1985, the 230 bhp L98 engine with tuned port fuel injection became the standard engine. September 1984 through 1988 Corvettes offered a Doug Nash designed “4+3” transmission – a 4-speed manual coupled to an automatic overdrive on the top three gears. It was designed to help the Corvette meet U.S. fuel economy standards. Since 1981, when it was last offered, a manual transmission returned to the Corvette starting with production in late-1984. The transmission proved to be problematic and was replaced by a modern ZF 6-speed manual transmission in 1989. In 1986, the second Corvette Indy Pace Car was released. It was the first convertible Corvette since 1975. A Centre High Mounted Signal Light – a third centre brake light – was added in 1986 to comply with safety regulations. While the colour of the pace car used in the race was yellow, all 1986 convertibles also had an Indy 500 emblem mounted on the console, making any colour a “pace car edition”. In 1987, the B2K twin-turbo option became available from the factory. The Callaway Corvette was a Regular Production Option (RPO B2K). The B2K option coexisted from 1990 to 1991 with the ZR-1 option, which then replaced it. Early B2Ks produced 345 bhp and 450 lb·ft later versions boasted 450 bhp and 613 lb·ft .1988 saw the 35th Anniversary Edition of the Corvette. Each of these featured a special badge with an identification number mounted next to the gear selector, and were finished with a white exterior, wheels, and interior. In 1991, all Corvettes received updates to the body, interior, and wheels. The convex rear fascia that set the 1990 ZR-1 apart from the base model was now included on L98 Corvettes, making the styling of the expensive ZR-1 even closer to that of the base cars. The most obvious difference remaining between the base and ZR-1 models besides the wider rear wheels was the location of the CHMSL, which was integrated into the new rear fascia used on the base model, but remained at the top of the rear-hatch on the ZR-1’s. For the 1992 model year, the 300 bhp LT1 engine was introduced, an increase of 50 bhp over 1991’s L98 engine. This engine featured reverse-flow cooling (the heads were cooled before the block), which allowed for a higher compression ratio of 10.5:1. A new distributor was also debuted. Called “Optispark”, the distributor was driven directly off the front of the camshaft and mounted in front of the timing cover, just above the crankshaft and harmonic balancer. Also new for 1992 was Acceleration Slip Regulation (ASR), a form of traction control which utilised the Corvette’s brakes, spark retard, and throttle close-down to prevent excessive rear wheel spin and possible loss of control. The traction control device could be switched off if desired. A special 40th Anniversary Edition was released in 1993, which featured a commemorative Ruby Red colour, 40th anniversary badges, and embroidered seat backs. The 1993 Corvette also marked the introduction of the Passive Keyless Entry System, making it the first GM car to feature it. Production of the ZR-1 ended in 1995, after 6,939 cars had been built. 1996 was the final year of C4 production, and featured special models and options, including the Grand Sport and Collector Edition, OBD II (On-Board Diagnostics), run flat tires, and the LT4 engine. The 330 bhp LT4 V8 was available only with a manual transmission, while all 300 bhp LT1 Corvettes used automatic transmissions. Chevrolet released the Grand Sport (GS) version in 1996 to mark the end of production of the C4 Corvette. The Grand Sport moniker was a nod to the original Grand Sport model produced in 1963. A total of 1,000 GS Corvettes were produced, 810 as coupes and 190 as convertibles. The 1996 GS came with the high-performance LT4 V8 engine, producing 330 bhp and 340 lb·ft . The Grand Sport came only in Admiral Blue with a white stripe down the middle, and black wheels and two red stripes on the front left wheel arch Seen here was an early C4 coupe and one of the 40th anniversary convertible cars.
One car which I had not seen at this event before was this French plated Visa II Super E. Indeed, I had to scratch my head to figure out when I had last seen any Citroen Visa, even in its native France, as despite the fact that Citroen built 1,254,390 examples of the model between 1978 and 1988, the model is all but extinct everywhere. There was a very long gestation to this car, which goes all the way back to 1965, when Robert Opron worked on the Citroën G-mini prototype and projet EN101, a replacement for the 2CV, using the flat twin engine from the 2CV. It was supposed to launch in 1970. The advanced space efficient designs with very compact exterior dimensions and an aerodynamic drag co-efficient Cd of 0.32, were axed because of adverse feedback from potential clients. With Citroen’s small car range all getting somewhat elderly, the decision was taken to try again, with the Citroën Prototype Y which was planned to replace the 2CV based Citroën Ami that dated back to 1960 in the early seventies. This was originally developed in co-operation with Fiat, built on the lessons from the Citroën G-mini and EN101 projects. It used the then new and advanced Fiat 127 platform, that used a transverse front wheel drive engine, with an end on gearbox layout that Fiat had pioneered in the 1960s. When co-operation with Fiat ended, a new Citroën designed platform was planned. After the takeover of Citroën by Peugeot in the wake of the 1974 oil crisis, the renamed “Projet VD (Voiture Diminuée)” became the Citroën Visa, incorporating the floor pan and advanced 104 engine, with its transmission (under the engine) and chassis. It was the first new model under the platform-sharing policy of PSA Peugeot Citroën that continues today. The earlier Citroën LN had just been a facelift of the Peugeot 104Z “Shortcut” with a re-engine and transmission from the Citroën Dyane. Eventually, in 1984, the original Citroën platform design from “Project Y” emerged as the Oltcit Club in Romania, using a Citroën Visa flat-twin engine and Citroën GS based gearbox, and Citroën GS flat-four engine and gearbox, and was also sold in Western Europe as the flat-four only Citroën Axel to recoup money that Citroën had invested in Romania, which the communist government could not repay. This project was problematic for Citroën due to build quality issues, only 60,184 cars were made, even though the base models were priced below the 2CV in Western Europe. The Axel was never sold in the UK. The five-door Citroën Visa and the three-door Axel look very similar, but there is no part interchangeable between these two Citroën models. The Visa entered a crowded market, with supermini competitors including the Chrysler Sunbeam, Mk1 Renault 5, Mk1 Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Chevette, Mk1 VW Polo and Fiat 127. Though it was launched as a supermini, it was about the same length (3725mm) and height (1430mm), but slightly narrower at 1526mm than a Volkswagen Golf Mk1, which was in the next class up. It was part of a ‘between sizes’ policy that Citroën also followed with the BX. From its launch in September 1978, the front-wheel drive Visa was available in “Spécial” and “Club” models with a mapped electronic ignition 652 cc, 2-cylinder and a “Super” (later “Super E”) model (called the 11RE after 1984), with the advanced Peugeot 1,124 cc Douvrin engine / PSA X engine, a four-cylinder “Suitcase engine” — all aluminium alloy, chain driven overhead cam, with gearbox in the sump, sharing engine oil, mounted almost on its side. The 1124 cc was as economical as the Citroën 2CV-derived twin, but with much better performance. Later on it had 1,219 cc (Super X) and then 954 cc (10E after 1984) and 1,360 cc (1983 Visa GT and 14TRS after 1985) versions of the same engine. The ergonomic design of the Visa controls used a Citroën “PRN Satellite” (P=Pluie – Rain, R=Route – Road, N=Nuit – Night) which gave access on one cylindrical unit to wipers, washers, horn, indicators, headlamps and flashers, all mounted a finger’s reach away from the steering wheel. The heat and ventilation control sliders that moved in arcs, were on the other side of the steering wheel, also within closer reach than usual. In 1982 the Visa underwent a major external restyling, designed by Heuliez, to look more mainstream. It kept the original interior and “PRN Satellite” controls until 1985 when, along with the Citroën BX, it was updated with a new bulkier dashboard, instruments and switchgear that made the car feel smaller inside. Stalk switchgear like contemporary Peugeots added self-cancelling indicators, but it kept the original monospoke steering wheel. It had very soft, but well damped, long travel, fully independent suspension with coil-sprung MacPherson struts at the front and coil sprung trailing arms at the rear, that caused it to have a soft ride like the Citroën 2CV, but without such extreme roll angles. CAR magazine made the Visa diesel one of its top ten models on the market for two years running in the mid-1980s (January 1986 and 1987), for its versatility (higher models in the range had split rear seats which could be lifted-out to give an almost van-like luggage capacity); ride comfort (“like a limousine”); its ability to maintain high average speeds due to high levels of grip; and value for money. It was also particularly aerodynamically stable at high speeds for a relatively light, narrow and tall car. It would remain unperturbed by cross-winds and truck bow waves at motorway speeds. It also had at the middle ‘R’ trim level and above, (currently unfashionable), but practical, grey plastic side rubbing strips, to protect against car park damage. The very curved sides of the windscreen, enabled the use of a very large single wiper on the long narrow windscreen, without fouling the windscreen seal. The front of the revised car, was designed to aerodynamically reduce the deposition of dirt on the headlights, and to reduce the risk of stone chips to the headlights, bonnet and windscreen. The heating and ventilation system, (even though it used only a water control valve for temperature control and not air mixing), could provide cold air from fascia side vents, to the face while warming the car. The central directable fascia vents could be heated and angled, so that they could be pointed directly at the windscreen in front of the driver, to keep it clear in extreme misting conditions. There was also an additional mid level vent, to blow air between the front seats to the back of the car. The rear parcel shelf was in two hinged sections, one in the car, the other on the tailgate, to allow objects that were slightly too tall to still fit without removing the shelf. When carrying larger loads, the part of the shelf attached to the tailgate could be folded up, and fixed with the elasticated support strings, to protect the rear window and heated rear screen elements. Long time CAR magazine columnist George Bishop, actually bought one with his own money. Before the advent of the diesel model, the electronic ignition (mechanical and vacuum controlled), 1124cc high compression engined Super E, (later renamed 11RE) with high gearing, was the best seller in the range. It was better equipped than the base 1.0 litre Austin Metro and Ford Fiesta it was priced against, having height adjustable halogen headlights, intermittent rear wash-wipe and multi-speed / intermittent front wipers, heated rear window, removable split folding rear seats, as well as five doors when its main competitors in the UK only had three, (the five-door Metro was launched in 1985, the five-door mark three Fiesta launched in 1989). A five speed gearbox was optional, when the base model competitors could only be had with a four speed. Most 1980s base model hatchback economy cars did without halogen headlights and rear wash-wipes, even heated rear windows could be optional. The 1984 launched 954cc 10E model was a direct competitor on specification to the Metro and Fiesta, but significantly undercut them on price. A four-door convertible version, with the doors and window frames remaining intact, of the 11RE was also produced in the Heuliez factory from 1984. This was heavier and slower than the hatchback that it was based on. In spring 1984 the very successful diesel version was added. The Visa 17D and 17RD used the famously rugged and refined, class-leading 1,769 cc XUD diesel and transmission from the Peugeot 205. It also capably powered the Peugeot 405, which was two classes larger, and made light work of powering the lightweight Visa. It had too wide a track for the original engine compartment and wings, so the front wings were extended with large black plastic wheel arch panels. The spare wheel that in smaller petrol engine versions, was mounted on top of the flat or near horizontal engine, was bolted to the otherwise flat boot floor — compromising luggage space. In continental Europe, a basic diesel van the ‘Visa Enterprise’ was sold that used the normal Visa bodyshell with the rear doors welded shut. It mounted a spacesaver spare wheel under the bonnet, over the diesel engine. Some diesel hatchbacks there, also used this arrangement. At the Paris Salon 1984, for model year 1985, the 1.4 litre TRS was presented. This version was produced for two years (1985–1987), shared its engine with the Citroën BX14. Even though it received a favourable review by CAR magazine who felt it was a better performance/economy compromise than the 11RE, it wasn’t very successful, due to being squeezed by the Visa Diesel and the extremely competitively priced BX 14. Between 1985 and 1987 the 1.1 litre petrol and 1.7 litre diesel “Leader” special editions were marketed. In the latter half of the eighties a 55 PS catalysed version of the 1,360 cc engine was added for markets with stricter emissions standards. No automatic gearbox version was produced. The first sporting versions of the Visa included the “Visa GT” (1.4 litre with double-barrel carburettor and 80 hp, the “Visa Chrono” (93 hp) from the 1.4 litre engine, this time with two double-barrel carbs). The Visa “Mille Pistes” (112 hp) and four-wheel drive) was the rare production version of Citroen’s successful (if unlikely looking) Visa rally car, the Visa Chrono and Chrono II. At the Paris Salon 1984, for model year 1985, the high-performance 1.6 GTi was presented. The GTi used the 1.6 litre fuel injected XU5J engine and transmission combination (105 or 115 hp) versions) from the successful Pininfarina styled Peugeot 205 GTI. Citroën gave the GTi plastic wheel arch extensions and quad round headlights, to differentiate the model and try to make it look more sporty. It received good reviews about its ride, performance and roadholding, but due to its older, failed facelift looks and its five-doors, even with a much lower price than the chic 205 it was not a big seller. The Visa hatchback ceased production in 1988, after a production run of 1,254,390 cars. It was only partially replaced in the Citroën range by the smaller and less commodious 1987 five-door Citroën AX. The upper end of the range would eventually be replaced by the small engined models of the 1991 Citroën ZX, there being a 1.1 litre version of that car in some countries, but a 1.4 litre was the smallest engine in the UK. The 1985 Citroën C15 diesel box van version of the Visa continued to be produced until 2005, (although the petrols were phased out in the early 1990s), due to its practicality (able to load a standard pallet) and low running costs, even though the 1996 Citroën Berlingo was supposed to replace it. The C15 was also the basis of the Romahome camper van. In the UK, there were nearly 20,000 examples still registered in 1994, but by 2002 that figure had fallen below 1,000 and as of 2011 there were a mere 136 still registered, 95 of them as SORN. A rare sighting indeed.
Whether the diminutive Daihatsu Copen will ever get the same level of following as some of the other Japanese Kei-cars that have been sold here over the years is something that probably only time will tell. A 2-door roadster with an aluminium retractable hardtop, the model debuted at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show as the Daihatsu Copen concept. It went into production in 2002 and was made for 11 years before a second generation model replaced it. The Copen was originally designed with a 660 cc turbocharged engine in order to meet Japanese kei car regulations. However, since this engine did not meet environmental emissions standards in several other countries, the Copen was fitted with a more powerful 1.3 litre non-turbo engine in markets such as the UK. Sales here were steady, but small in volume, which is not surprising, though the car did get some welcome publicity when it featured on Top Gear where James May attempted to find the best convertible car. The contestants were the Mercedes-Benz CLK, Audi A4, Citroën C3 Pluriel, Volkswagen New Beetle, and the Copen. James loved the Copen, but he had one small problem: it felt “toy-ish”. On January 13, 2011, Daihatsu announced that it would withdraw the Copen from the European market effective from 31 January 2013 due to the ongoing strength of the Japanese Yen. Then on April 2, 2012, Daihatsu announced that Copen production would cease in August 2012 with the final 500 cars being limited 10th Anniversary editions.
By the late 1960s, the Sovereign was little more than a Jaguar XJ Series car with the traditional Daimler fluted radiator grille and minor trim differences, and it sold in small quantities compared to the Jaguar. This is a Series 2 model, to many eyes, the most elegant of the three generations of the long running model.
This is an example of the first generation of Dodge to bear the Ram name. First seen in 1981, it was not really an all new design so much as a facelift of the fourth generation of the D Series, dating back to 1972. The name change was one of the alterations made when Lee Iacocca took charge of the ailing Chrysler Corporation. Ram as a name came about as this recalled the bonnet ornament first seen on a 1933 Dodge truck, and the new branding was pretty evident in the new design, with an embossed “DODGE RAM” name on the tailgate along with other obvious changes like the grille and bonnet, the taillights, and the entire interior. More subtle was the addition of a “shoulder” line reminiscent of the GM competition. Beginning in 1981, even more corrosion-resistant steel was used in the construction of the trucks. This body style continued until 1994 and many of these vehicles are still on the road. Many body panels are interchangeable for all models from 1972–1994, so it is not uncommon to see a “hybrid” with, as an example, a 1978 grille mounted with a 1974 bonnet and a 1991 cab. Sometimes the bed is swapped with a moving truck style box for models like these. In most jurisdictions, the year is dictated by the year of the truck’s chassis regardless of the body which has been bolted to it. Also kept was the Utiline step-side model that had the same truck bed that dated back to the 1940s. This was dropped during this last era of the W/D Dodge trucks. A narrower range of engines was offered: the base power plant was the 225 cu in (3.7 litre) slant-6, now with top-fed hydraulic tappets, and the 318 cu in (5.2 litre) and 360 cu in (5.9 litre) LA-series V8s. The slant-6 was supplanted by the 3.9 litre V6 for 1988; in 1992 it and the V8s became Magnum engines. The 6BT 5.9 litre 12-Valve Cummins B Series diesel engine became an option in 1989. Sales were good during the Sweptline era and into the late 1970s. A combination of stagnant styling nearly two decades old plus brand loyalty primarily to Chevrolet and Ford during the 1980s and 1990s reduced sales volume for the first generation Dodge Ram. A wholly new Dodge Ram was released for the 1994 model year.
There was also an example of the Viper here, one of the most dramatic sports cars ever to have come out of America. The Viper started out as a concept car, but, unlike most such show cars, as Chrysler Corp have proved several times in recent years, public reaction was such that the model was put into production. Initially offered as an open topped roadster, the GTS Coupe was added to the range in 1996. Dubbed the “double bubble”, the roof featured slightly raised sections that looked like a bubble to accommodate the usage of helmets and taking design cues from the Pete Brock designed Shelby Daytona. More than 90% of the GTS was new in comparison to the RT/10 despite similar looks. The GTS came with the same 8.0 litre V-10 engine but power would be increased to 450 hp. This was the first Viper to be equipped with airbags and also included air conditioning, power windows and door locks. The model was chosen as the pace car for the Indianapolis 500. These days the cars still turn heads everywhere they go and this one proved quite an attraction when it was parked up. Sadly, it was right on the corner where the traffic wardens first appeared, so it had be moved early during the event.
There were several Ferrari models here, all of them V8 cars. Parked up at various points around the Square were F430 Coupe and Spider cars and there was a pair of yellow F430 and 360 Spider models next to each other, and I also came across the more recent 458 Italia and Spider.
There were two small Fiats here, the much loved 500L and what you could think of as its spiritual successor, a trio of generations on, the Seicento Sporting. The latter had quite a following, taking over from the inspired Cinquecento Sporting, as it combined a sporty appearance and the brio that many enjoy in a car that was affordable both to buy and run and insure for younger drivers. Although the cars are getting elderly now, there is an enthusiastic owners club, and a section of the Fiat Forum concentrated on these baby Fiats.
First of many Ford models that I came across during the morning was this Mark 3 Zodiac. In early 1962 Ford replaced the existing Consul/Zephyr/ Zodiac range with a dramatically restyled model although the new cars did share some of the mechanical components, as well as the basic chassis design, with the Mark II models. At the bottom of the range, the Consul name disappeared, to be replaced by Zephyr 4. Once again, the range was topped by the Zodiac, which was an upmarket version of the Zephyr 6, but differed considerably from that model with its limousine-type rear doors, sharper roofline with a much narrower C-pillar, a revised rear end, a unique grille with four headlights instead of two, exclusive bumper bars, plusher seating, and up-market upholstery, dashboard and interior fittings. A choice of individual or bench front seat was available trimmed in leather or cloth. The front doors and bonnet panels were shared with the Zephyr 6. The Executive version had extra luxury fittings again. The 2553 cc single-carburettor six-cylinder engine was improved internally to increase the power output to 109 bhp and a new four-speed all synchromesh transmission with column change was fitted. The brakes, servo assisted, use discs at the front and drum at the rear. On test with The Motor magazine in 1962, the Zodiac Mark 3 had a top speed of 100.7 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 13.4 seconds and it delivered a touring fuel consumption of 22.6 mpg. The test car cost £1070 including taxes on the UK market. Mark 3 models were produced for 4 years before being replaced by the Mark IV in January 1966.
The Z cars were eventually replaced by the Consul/Granada in 1972, the first Ford which was standardised across Ford UK and Ford Germany, though even then, there were differences in engine options and some bodystyles, such as the 2 door saloon which were not offered to the UK buyer. Everything standardised when production was consolidated to a single plant, in Germany in 1976 and by the time the Mark 2 cars arrived in September 1977, the range was completely unified, though the entry level 2 door saloon remained something unique for the German market as there was still demand for large cars in this format. The Granada was a popular car, doyen of the Executive Car park throughout its life, as it was still perceived as British, even though it was not longer built here. On show at this event were a Mark 2 2.8 Saloon and the post 1981 facelift Estate in top of the range 2.8i Ghia X spec.
No question about the British ness of the still much-loved Cortina, and present here were three of the four generations that were produced (the Cortina 80, sometimes referred to as the Mark V was really only a facelift of the 1976 Mark IV). It was the last generation that was missing, and indeed that is the rarest of the 4 types now even though all of them sold in excess of 1 million examples each when new, and the car regularly had over 10% market share throughout the 1970s, Seen here were a Mark 1. Lotus Cortina Mark 2 and a Mark 3 XL in a very period bright orange colour.
Another event regular is this Fiesta Fly, a conversion of Ford’s first ever front wheel drive supermini which was first seen in 1981. Designed by David McMullan, it had a permanently welded-shut boot, with a plastic sill fitted to prevent the car from needing to be repainted. The production history of the Fiesta Fly is not clear; but the common claim that only 20 or so cars were built is probably untrue. It is believed that this figure refers to the number built by Crayford, rather than the number built in total. What is known is that Dorset-based firm F. English Coachwork Division bought the rights to produce the Fiesta Fly sometime in 1982, and Autocar reported in September 1983 that about 100 Fiesta Fly conversions had been produced. It is believed that F English built around 200 Fiesta Flys, with 83 known to survive. Crayford also reportedly built two Fiesta Flys based on the Mk2 Fiesta. It was possible to purchase any production Fiesta model in Fiesta Fly form, not just the 1300 and XR2 models as is often reported.
The Fiesta ST is popular among enthusiasts who want a brand new car, so it was no surprise to see a number of these present.
The sporting Escort was much in evidence, as is often the case, with a Mark 2 RS1800, examples of the pre- and post-facelift RS Turbo Mark 3 cars and a Mark 4 Cabrio.
Sometimes there are large numbers of more recent sporting Focus models here, but this month I only recall seeing this one, a first generation RS.
There were a couple of the Sapphire RS Cosworth saloons present. The Sierra RS Cosworth models built by Ford Europe from 1986 to 1992 were the result of a Ford Motorsport project with the purpose of producing an outright winner for Group A racing in Europe. The project was defined in the spring of 1983 by Stuart Turner who had recently been appointed head of Ford Motorsport in Europe, and he realised right away that Ford was no longer competitive in this area. Turner got in touch with Walter Hayes, at the time the vice-president of public relations at Ford, to get support for the project. Hayes had earlier been the driving force behind the development of the Ford GT40 that won Le Mans in 1966, and the Cosworth DFV engine that brought Ford 154 victories and 12 world championships in Formula One during the 1960s and 1970s. Hayes found the project very appealing and promised his full support. Turner then invited Ken Kohrs, vice-president of development, to visit Ford’s longtime partner, the automotive company Cosworth, where they were presented a project developed on Cosworth’s own initiative, the YAA engine. This was a twin cam, 16-valve engine based on Ford’s own T88 engine block, better known as the Pinto. This prototype proved an almost ideal basis for the engine Turner needed to power his Group A winner. Therefore, an official request for a turbocharged version (designated Cosworth YBB) capable of 180 HP on the street and 300 HP in race trim, was placed. Cosworth answered positively, but they put up two conditions: the engine would produce not less than 204 HP in the street version, and Ford had to accept no fewer than 15,000 engines. Turner’s project would only need about 5,000 engines, but Ford nevertheless accepted the conditions. The extra 10,000 engines would later become one of the reasons Ford also chose to develop a four door, second generation Sierra RS Cosworth. To find a suitable gearbox proved more challenging. The Borg-Warner T5, also used in the Ford Mustang, was chosen, but the higher revving nature of the Sierra caused some problems. Eventually Borg-Warner had to set up a dedicated production line for the gearboxes to be used in the Sierra RS Cosworth. Many of the suspension differences between the standard Sierra and the Cosworth attributed their development to what was learned from racing the turbocharged Jack Roush IMSA Merkur XR4Ti in America and Andy Rouse’s successful campaign of the 1985 British Saloon Car Championship. Much of Ford’s external documentation for customer race preparation indicated “developed for the XR4Ti” when describing parts that were Sierra Cosworth specific. Roush’s suspension and aerodynamics engineering for the IMSA cars was excellent feedback for Ford. Some production parts from the XR4Ti made their way into the Cosworth such as the speedometer with integral boost gauge and the motorsport 909 chassis stiffening plates. In April 1983, Turner’s team decided on the recently launched Sierra as a basis for their project. The Sierra filled the requirements for rear wheel drive and decent aerodynamic drag. A racing version could also help to improve the unfortunate, and somewhat undeserved, reputation that Sierra had earned since the introduction in 1982. Lothar Pinske, responsible for the car’s bodywork, demanded carte blanche when it came to appearance in order to make the car stable at high speed. Experience had shown that the Sierra hatchback body generated significant aerodynamic lift even at relatively moderate speed. After extensive wind tunnel testing and test runs at the Nardò circuit in Italy, a prototype was presented to the project management. This was based on an XR4i body with provisional body modifications in fibreglass and aluminium. The car’s appearance raised little enthusiasm. The large rear wing caused particular reluctance. Pinske insisted however that the modifications were necessary to make the project successful. The rear wing was essential to retain ground contact at 300 km/h, the opening between the headlights was needed to feed air to the intercooler and the wheel arch extensions had to be there to house wheels 10” wide on the racing version. Eventually, the Ford designers agreed to try to make a production version based on the prototype. In 1984, Walter Hayes paid visits to many European Ford dealers in order to survey the sales potential for the Sierra RS Cosworth. A requirement for participation in Group A was that 5,000 cars were built and sold. The feedback was not encouraging. The dealers estimated they could sell approximately 1,500 cars. Hayes did not give up, however, and continued his passionate internal marketing of the project. As prototypes started to emerge, dealers were invited to test drive sessions, and this increased the enthusiasm for the new car. In addition, Ford took some radical measures to reduce the price on the car. As an example, the car was only offered in three exterior colours (black, white and moonstone blue) and one interior colour (grey). There were also just two equipment options: with or without central locking and electric window lifts. The Sierra RS Cosworth was first presented to the public at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1985, with plans to release it for sale in September and closing production of the 5,000 cars in the summer of 1986. In practice, it was launched in July 1986. 5545 were manufactured in total of which 500 were sent to Tickford for conversion to the Sierra three-door RS500 Cosworth. The vehicles were manufactured in right hand drive (RHD) only, and were made in Ford’s Genk factory in Belgium. Exactly 500 RS500s were produced, all of them RHD for sale in the UK only – the biggest market for this kind of Ford car. It was originally intended that all 500 would be black, but in practice 56 white and 52 moonstone blue cars were produced.To broaden the sales appeal, the second generation model was based on the 4 door Sierra Sapphire body. It was launched in 1988, and was assembled in Genk, Belgium, with the UK-built Ford-Cosworth YBB engine. Cylinder heads on this car were early spec 2wd heads and also the “later” 2wd head which had some improvements which made their way to the 4X4 head. Suspension was essentially the same with some minor changes in geometry to suit a less aggressive driving style and favour ride over handling. Spindles, wheel offset and other changes were responsible for this effect. Approximately 13,140 examples were produced during 1988-1989 and were the most numerous and lightest of all Sierra Cosworth models. Specifically the LHD models which saved weight with a lesser trim level such as manual rear windows and no air conditioning. In the UK, the RHD 1988-1989 Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth is badged as such with a small “Sapphire” badge on the rear door window trims. All 1988-1989 LHD models are badged and registered as a Sierra RS Cosworth with no Sapphire nomenclature at all. “Sapphire” being viewed as a Ghia trim level that saw power rear windows, air conditioning and other minor options. Enthusiasts of the marque are mindful of this and will describe the LHD cars by their body shell configuration, 3 door or 4 door. As the Sapphire Cosworth was based on a different shell to the original three-door Cosworth, along with its more discreet rear wing, recorded a drag co-efficient of 0.33, it registered slightly better performance figures, with a top speed of 150 mph and 0-60 of 6.1 seconds, compared to the original Cosworth. In January 1990, the third generation Sierra RS Cosworth was launched, this time with four wheel drive. As early as 1987, Mike Moreton and Ford Motorsport had been talking about a four wheel drive Sierra RS Cosworth that could make Ford competitive in the World Rally Championship. The Ferguson MT75 gearbox that was considered an essential part of the project wasn’t available until late 1989 however. Ford Motorsport’s desire for a 3-door “Motorsport Special” equivalent to the original Sierra RS Cosworth was not embraced. The more discreet 4-door version was considered to have a better market potential. It was therefore decided that the new car should be a natural development of the second generation, to be launched in conjunction with the face lift scheduled for the entire Sierra line in 1990. The waiting time gave Ford Motorsport a good opportunity to conduct extensive testing and demand improvements. One example was the return of the bonnet louvres. According to Ford’s own publicity material, 80% of the engine parts were also modified. The improved engine was designated YBJ for cars without a catalyst and YBG for cars with a catalyst. The latter had the red valve cover replaced by a green one, to emphasise the environmental friendliness. Four wheel drive and an increasing amount of equipment had raised the weight by 100 kg, and the power was therefore increased to just about compensate for this. The Sierra RS Cosworth 4×4 received, if possible, an even more flattering response than its predecessors and production continued until the end of 1992, when the Sierra was replaced by the Mondeo. The replacement for the Sierra RS Cosworth was not a Mondeo however, but the Escort RS Cosworth. This was to some extent a Sierra RS Cosworth clad in an “Escort-like” body. The car went on sale in May 1992, more than a year after the first pre-production examples were shown to the public, and was homologated for Group A rally in December, just as the Sierra RS Cosworth was retired. It continued in production until 1996. The Sierra and Sapphire Cosworths were undoubted performance bargains when new, but they also gained a reputation both for suffering a lot of accidents in the hands of the unskilled and also for being among the most frequently stole cars of their generation. These days, though, there are some lovely and treasured examples around and indeed you are far more likely to see a Cosworth version of the Sierra than one of the volume selling models.
This Capri 2.0 Laser is from the closing years of production of the “Car you always promised yourself”. The Laser trim was applied to the remaining 1.6 and 2.0 litre models from November 1984 onwards. By this time Capri sales were confined to the UK, with only right hand drive cars being made from this date. The Laser featured a fully populated instrument pod, leather gear lever, leather steering wheel, four-spoke alloy wheels as used on the S models, an electric aerial and colour-coded grille and mirrors.
There was also an example of the Probe here. You don’t see these very often now, and indeed, the car fell some way short of Ford’s (European) sales expectations even when new, when it was up against the Vauxhall Calibra and Toyota Celica. The probe name has first been used on a futuristic designs produced by Ford and Ghia, starting in the late 70s. The Probe I, first shown in 1979, was a wedge-shaped design that incorporated a number of drag-reducing features like covered rear wheels and pop-up headlights. This was followed the next year by a much more conventional looking Probe II, whose hatchback styling was also reminiscent of the pony cars. The 1981 Probe III was an advanced demonstrator with covered wheels, but its bodywork evolved into the more conventional Ford Sierra and styling notes that were used on the Ford Taurus. The 1982 Probe IV was a more radical concept car with a low Cd and evolved into the equally radical 1984 Probe V. As is often the case, ford simply elected to use the Probe name for something quite different when it came to a production car. It was a long time in the making, with the initial thinking going back to 1979 when the energy crisis of that year and the economic slump initiated by high fuel prices prompted Ford to start work on a major redesign of the Mustang. The new design was to be based on a totally new platform introduced to Ford by Japanese car manufacturer and Ford partner Mazda. But when the new generation of the Ford Mustang neared its release date, oil prices dropped to an all-time low and Mustang buyers expressed their displeasure in the style of the proposed replacement. The car was eventually released, not as a Ford Mustang but as the Ford Probe. It was not the first sporty Ford that was produced with Mazda, as there had also been work with the Australian division to create and introduce a redesigned Ford Capri, which ended up as the 1989-1994 Mercury Capri roadster. The Probe was a product of the joint Ford and Mazda venture called the AutoAlliance International. Its unique body panels and interior were designed and manufactured in the AutoAlliance assembly plant located in Flat Rock, Michigan, the same facility that manufactured the Mazda MX-6 coupe and Mazda 626 sedan for the North American market. Both generations of the Probe were sold in Japan as Fords, at Ford/Mazda sales channels called Autorama. Japanese models were not in compliance with Japanese Government regulations concerning exterior dimensions and engine displacement, resulting in Japanese buyers being held liable for additional taxes as a result. The Ford Probe was introduced to the U.S. market in 1988 and was completely different from the Mazda MX-6, which was a 2-door coupe with traditional fixed headlights, though it shared shared most of its mechanical parts with the Mazda MX-6 and 626 and was built on the same Mazda GD platform as the 626 Coupe. Although conceived to replace Mustang, Ford kept that car in production alongside their new Coupe, hopeful it would find its own place in the market. However, the first Probe’s sales fell well short of Ford’s expectations. The Probe’s styling, while modern, was not universally accepted. It was also not affordable, making many buyers choose another, more-prestigious brand, for the price of a Ford Probe. The Ford and Mazda design teams merged to give the Probe a complete redesign for the 1993 model year. As before, the Probe was to share its under-structure with Mazda’s MX-6 and 626, this time the new GE platform. Mazda engineered the engine, transmission, and chassis, while Ford engineered the body and interior. Technically, the second generation Probe is 60% Mazda and 40% Ford. Despite the car being extended 2 inches and widened 4 inches, it was 125 pounds lighter than the first generation Probe. The second generation Probe was introduced in August 1992 as a 1993 model. Some European markets had received the first generation Probe, but it was not widely offered, whereas this one was, going on sale across Europe in the spring of 1994, filling the gap left there by Ford since the demise of the Capri seven years earlier. The base model used the 2.0 litre Mazda FS-DE 16-valve 4-cylinder engine, performance instrument cluster with tachometer and full gauge compliment, and an electronic AM/FM stereo. The sportier GT model was powered by the 2.5 litre Mazda K engine KL-DE 24-valve V6,and had low profile P225/50VR16 91V Goodyear VR50 Gatorback tires, 4-wheel disc brakes, unique front and rear fascias, fog lights, 5-spoke aluminium wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and driver-seat power lumbar/seat back side bolster adjustment. Both engines featured dual overhead cam designs with the choice of a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic transmission. It was sold for 4 years, before being quietly withdrawn. Another coupe that was offered on both sides of the Atlantic, the Cougar, would replace it.
Oldest American Ford here was this 1940 Pickup. This vehicle dates from the era when Ford still produced its trucks by providing different body work for the rear part of its passenger car range, so it is based on the V8 range of models which date back to 1932. Ford wrong-footed everyone with their replacement for the Model A by making a V8 engine available where all their rivals only had 6 (or sometimes 4(cylinders, and the cars proved very popular, making Ford one of the market leaders against their rivals. There were annual updates to the product, with the most significant change coming in 1937 when a more rounded look front appeared, with fine horizontal bars in the convex front and hood-side grilles. The front grille was V-shaped, rather than following the fenders into a pentagon shape, as on the 1936 model. Faired-in headlights were a major modernisation found on both the Standard and DeLuxe trim versions, though much of the rest of the design was shared between Ford’s two lines. A larger water pump was used to help aid in cooling. ‘Slantback’ sedans gained a rear boot door, though space was limited, and ‘Trunkback’ versions continued gaining sales. The station wagon had seating for eight passengers. A 4-door “convertible sedan” with roll up windows was offered in small numbers in the DeLuxe series. The 1938 recession hurt sales, as did Ford’s continuing of the 1937 cars, including most body panels. 1938 DeLuxe models were differentiated with a heart-shaped grille, though standard models retained the 1937 look. The fading Slantback sedan design was cancelled for good. Only a V8 was offered, either a 60 hp V8 or an 85 hp V8. A new dash was used, with recessed controls for safety. The 1938 trucks were finally updated, having continued with 1935 looks. Changes included a vertical oval grille and substantial fenders and bumpers. Ford’s look was again modernised for 1939 — the Deluxe used a low pointed grille with heavier vertical slats, while the standard Ford had a higher grille with horizontal dividers. The headlights (the example illustrated has been converted to ’40 Ford sealed beam headlamps – ’39s used bulb and reflector lamps, the last year for these) were moved farther apart, now sitting almost in front of the wheels. The side grilles and louvres were removed in favour of chrome strips on Deluxe models. The “alligator” bonnet opened deep from the top of the grille back, eliminating the side panels found on previous models. The phaeton, club coupe, and convertible club coupe models were discontinued. The engine was also revised for 1939 with downdraft carburetors widening the torque band but leaving power unchanged at 85 hp. Hydraulic brakes were a major advancement across the Ford line. A high flat-topped bonnet dominated the front look of the 1940 model, as the grille spread out to reach the fenders to differentiate the Deluxe line and the headlights were pushed wider still. The standard Ford inherited the grille of the 1939 model with blackout on each side of a heavy chrome centre; heavier headlight surrounds serve as another major differentiator from the 1939. 1940 was the last year of the 1937 design and its smaller V8 engine, with a straight-six engine to be reintroduced the following year. Sealed-beam headlights were one of the few major advances for 1940, while a hydraulic top was new on the convertible.A new model was introduced for 1941.
Also now, it would seem, an event regular is this E Series Econoline Van. An example of the first series to bear the name, the first Ford Econoline was introduced for the 1961 model year. Based on the compact Ford Falcon, it was sized roughly to compete with the Chevrolet Corvair 95 (Greenbrier Sportswagon) and Volkswagen Type 2, which was 172.3 in (4,376 mm) long. It was originally offered as a cargo van, an eight-passenger van with three rows of seats (which carried the Ford Falcon name) and as a pickup truck. A 165 lb (75 kg) counterweight was fitted over the rear wheels to balance the front-heavy vehicle, which was sometimes removed by later owners. The implementation of situating the driver on top of the front axle with the engine near the front wheels is called, in the US, a “cab over” short for cab over engine configuration. In Europe it is called a “forward control” vehicle. The body styling borrowed heavily from the, smaller, UK produced, Thames 400E which had been in production since 1957 and the 1956-64 Jeep Forward Control. Instead of the rear-mounted engine used by Volkswagen and Chevrolet, the first E-Series had a flat nose with the engine between and behind the front seats. Early models had a 144 CID inline 6-cylinder engine with a three-speed manual transmission. Later models had 170 CID or 240 CID engines with a three-speed manual or automatic transmission. It was an immediate success with utilities like the Bell Telephone System. In its first year, 29,932 standard vans, 6,571 custom Econoline buses, 11,893 standard pickups and 3,000 custom pickups were made. The success of the Econoline led to its layout being adopted in 1964 by the Chevrolet Van/GMC Handi-Van and Dodge A100; it would also be utilised internationally and sold by Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Toyota, with microvans called the Subaru Sambar and the Daihatsu Hijet.
As ever, there were a number of Mustangs here. Newest was one of the latest 5.0 GT Fastback cars which has recently gone on sale in right hand drive form after what has seemed like a very long wait indeed. It is the first Mustang ever to be offered to UK customers with right hand drive, but the fact that all earlier models have the wheel on the less convenient side of the car has not stopped a surprisingly large number of enthusiasts from bringing older models to the UK, and there are quite a lot of each model generation on our shores. Seen here with the latest car were a couple of first generation models, an early Coupe and a 1969 Fastback.
As well as the latest rather “in yer face” Civic Type R, there were a couple of previous generation models here.
From a distance, you would probably have seen this car and thought that it was “simply” an example of the classic Issigonis-designed Mini. But get up close and not would you spot the fact that it was a left hand drive car, but it bore Innocenti badges and some different detailing, especially the front grille. Innocenti was an Italian machinery works originally established by Ferdinando Innocenti in 1920. Over the years they produced Lambretta scooters as well as a range of cars, most of them with British Leyland origins. After World War II, the company was famous for many years for Lambretta scooters models. From 1961 to 1976 Innocenti built under licence the BMC (later the British Leyland Motor Corporation, or BLMC for short) Mini, with 998 cc and 1,275 cc engines, followed by other models, including the Regent (Allegro), with engines up to 1,485 cc. The company of this era is commonly called Leyland Innocenti. The Innocenti Spyder (1961–70) was a rebodied version of the Austin-Healey MKII Sprite (styling by Ghia). The car was produced by OSI, near Milan. In 1972 BLMC took over control of the company in a £3 million deal involving the purchase of the company’s land, buildings and equipment. BLMC had high hopes for its newly acquired subsidiary at a time when, they reported to the UK press, Italian Innocenti sales were second only to those of Fiat, and ahead of Volkswagen and Renault. There was talk of further increasing annual production from 56,452 in 1971 to 100,000. However, the peak production under BLMC was 62,834 in 1972, in spite of exports increasing from one car in 1971 to more than 17,000 in 1974. Demonstrating their ambitions, the British company installed as Managing Director one of their youngest UK based senior executives, the then 32-year-old former Financial Controller Geoffrey Robinson. Three years later BLMC ran out of money and was nationalised by the UK government. In February 1976, the company passed to Alejandro de Tomaso and was reorganised by the De Tomaso Group under the name Nuova Innocenti. Benelli had a share and British Leyland retained five percent, with De Tomaso owning forty-four percent with the aid of a rescue plan from GEPI (an Italian public agency intended to provide investment for troubled corporations). Management was entirely De Tomaso’s responsibility, however, and later in 1976 GEPI and De Tomaso combined their 95% of Innocenti (and all of Maserati) into one new holding company. However, with the loss of the original Mini, the Austin I5, and the (admittedly slow-selling) Regent, sales were in freefall. Production was nearly halved in 1975 and was down to about a fifth of the 1974 levels in 1976. After this crisis, however, the new Bertone-bodied Mini began selling more strongly and production climbed to a steady 40,000 per annum by the end of the ’70s. The first model had Bertone-designed five-seater bodywork and was available with Leyland’s 998 cc and 1275 cc engines. Exports, which had been carried out mainly by British Leyland’s local concessionaires, began drying up in the early eighties as BL did not want to see internal competition from the Innocenti Mini. Sales to France (Innocenti’s biggest export market) ended in 1980, with German sales coming to a halt in 1982. Around the same time, the engine deal with Leyland ended, and production soon dropped into the low twenty thousands. Later models, from model year 1983 on, used 993 cc three-cylinder engines made by Daihatsu of Japan. De Tomaso developed a turbocharged version of this engine for Daihatsu which found use in both Innocenti’s and Daihatsu’s cars. Fiat bought the company in 1990, and the last Innocenti models were versions of the Uno-based Fiat Duna Saloon and Estate, which were badged Elba. The brand was retired in 1996. The car seen here was badged Cooper 1300, and these cars had lots of little differences compared to the Longbridge and Cowley made models. Innocenti had been assembling Minis since 1965, creating finished cars from CKD kits, the first cars called Innocenti 850. In 1971, they started to produce the Innocenti Cooper 1300, following the demise of the model in the UK, which had been replaced by the 1275GT, and it continued until 1975 when all the Issigonis Minis were deleted, to be replaced by the hatchback Bertone Mini 90 and 120 cars
Jaguar saloons are popular classics, and the model most often seen is the much-loved Mark 2, but there are plenty of other nice models in the back catalogue and it was one of these other ones, an S Type, which was here. Having made 2 significant new car launches in 1961 at the top of the range, with the gargantuan Mark X and the E Type, for their next new model, Jaguar turned their attention lower down, believing that the Mark 2, based on design which had first launched in 1955 would need updating to keep it competitive. Sir William Lyons believed that the car would need to adopt some of the innovations that had been seen on the Mark X and the E Type, such as Jaguar’s new independent rear suspension and the triple SU carburettor version of the 3.8-litre XK engine Accordingly work started on a call which was codenamed “Utah Mk III”, (the Mark 2 having been “Utah Mk II”) and which made its public debut as the S Type. Both time and budget were limited, so rather than being an all new car, the S Type was a major redevelopment of the Mark 2. It used a mid-scale version of the Mark X independent rear suspension to replace the Mark 2’s live rear axle and featured revised styling, with the changes more obvious at the back with a longer tail giving more boot space. rear bodywork, with only minor changes to the front and a slightly flattened roofline, which is one reason why a lot of people have trouble distinguishing the car from its smaller brother. A more luxurious interior was fitted, with greater use of burr walnut and leather than was to be found in the Mark 2 The S Type was available with either 3.4 or 3.8-litre XK engines but only in twin carburettor form because the triple carburettor setup would not fit into what was essentially still the Mark 2 engine bay. By the time of the S Type’s release in 1963, the Mark 2 was still selling strongly, despite its age, whereas the Mark X was selling less well than had been hoped, especially in its intended market of the USA, so Sir William decided to retain all three models in the Jaguar range concurrently. Sales of the S Type were relatively modest throughout its 6 year production life, with 9928 of the 3.4 litre and 15.065 of the 3.8 litre cars made.
The other Jaguar on show was a rather nice Series 3 E Type V12 Roadster
This car clearly puzzled a lot of attendees, who were unsure quite what I might be. As I have seen it a number of times before, though probably not now for a couple of years, I did at least know its identity. It is a K1 Attack, and despite the very professional looking finish, it is a kit car (yes, really!), the product of a Slovakian firm called K-1 Styling & Tuning, headed by Dick Květňanský and a designer Juraj Mitro. A lightweight two-seat roadster, it is possible to assemble a full sports car using the power units of a donor car of your choice. The initial K-1 Attack evolved into the K-1 Attack Roadster 3.0 V6, which was produced by the company K-1 Engineering as a complete sports car, made in a limited edition of 35 pieces.
I think everyone was surprised to find this massive KenworthTruck parked up in the Square. It was already in situ when I arrived, so I can only guess at how it got there, pointing apparently in the “wrong” direction. I would imagine that it was brought to the corner of the Square, and then reversed into position. It certainly claimed the prize for the largest vehicle of the morning.
There were three Lamborghinis here: a Huracan, a Gallardo and an Aventador
Two pairs of Lotus models were present. Both the Esprits were V8 cars, one of them being a late model car with the twin round rear lights that featured in the final years of production.
There were also a couple of Exige models, one of which was a rare Exige S Sprint dating from 2008. This was a limited edition car, just 40 of which were produced for sale in the UK. Reminding us of the Elan Sprint of the early 70s, which had a distinctive two tone finish, these cars were offered in a duo-tone paint scheme of Aspen White on the lower portion of the body and a choice of Solar Yellow or Persian Blue on the upper portion of the body. The two colours were separated by a gold stripe bearing the name Exige Sprint on the doors on either side of the car. To celebrate the start of Lotus production at Hethel in 1967, just 40 cars were built for the UK market and each one had an individually numbered chassis year build plate covering 1967 to 2007, except for 1982, the year of Colin Chapman’s untimely and tragic death. Each car came together with a heritage pack containing a unique certificate signed by Lotus’ Chief Executive Mike Kimberley and “The Lotus Book” written by William Taylor featuring in depth review of the models produced at Hethel. The Lotus Exige Sprint also included as standard, ultra-lightweight forged alloy wheels, air conditioning, Sport Pack, Touring Pack and the then newly available Performance Pack giving phenomenal acceleration of zero to 60 mph in just 4.0 seconds, reaching 100 mph in just another 6 seconds before topping out at 146 mph. The Sprint also featured a unique interior trim with distinctive embroidery and exterior decals. Even without the unique paint and trim features that the Exige Sprint benefitted from, equipping a standard Exige to the same specification would have cost a customer £44,050 so the £42,550 for the Exige Sprint represented good value, especially as an example of the car was recently advertised for £35,000, showing how well it has held its value.
As is always the case, there were plenty of MX5s here, with representation from all 4 generations of what is now the world’s best selling sports cars, from the NA Series which launched in the UK in the Spring of 1990 right up to the latest ND Series model which finally reached our roads in the Summer of 2015.
In March, there were hardly examples of the Three Pointed Star here, but it was very different this time round. Without doubt the single model that was most represented was the AMG C63, with no fewer than 4 examples of the previous generation W204 Saloon and a Coupe, and a couple of the latest W205 Saloons as well as au undepicted blue Estate model. I have a feeling that there may even have been a couple of C63s than this. Truly this awesome-sounding car, which does only sell in small quantities thanks to its high purchase price and running costs, made its mark here.
The other Mercedes that I spotted is one that has been here a number of times before, a 380SL version of the long running and popular R107 SL series.
As well as the commonly seen MGB GT and example of which was here, there was a MGC Roadster. Visually similar to the MGB, the MGC was launched in 1967, with the inline 3 litre C series engine squeezed under the bonnet (complete with hump to accommodate its extra height). The car was not particularly well-received, with the extra weight of the engine changing the handling, and not to the better, and after disappointing sales of only a few thousand, the car was pulled from the market in 1970. Nowadays, the market is taking a more positive view and you will pay a five figure sum, and not starting with a 1, for a decent example.
As well as the Innocenti Mini already depicted in this report, there were two more models which attracted my camera. First of these was a Classic “Issigonis” designed car.
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, nearly 10 years after they were new.
There have been ten different generations of Evo, based on the current Mitsubishi Lancer of the day. Enthusiasts will probably never agree as to which one was the “best”, as although the model steadily gained more power, and more electronic aids, it also gained weight (and cost!), so many would argue that the last of the line, and longest running version, the Evo X was perhaps not the “best”. The VI which was also here has a fair claim to being among the most favoured of all.
4/4 4 seater
Two examples of the Minor Traveller were here.
Making one of its regular appearances here was this 1947 de Luxe.
The XUD diesel engine that was fitted under the bonnet of most of Peugeot and Citroen’s cars in the 1980s and 1990s was probably the “best” diesel of its era, having a combination of smoothness, relatively low noise levels, performance and economy that no-one else in the market could match at the time. Offered initially as a 1905cc normally aspirated unit, and making its debut in the Talbot Horizon, over time, smaller capacity units and a turbo were added, creating a range of diesel options. The pert little 205 was available with the engine from its launch in 1983, and when the Turbo unit was available, this was also offered in the car. It was badged dTurbo, and the car was positioned as much as any performance-diesel could be in the early 1990s. Although the engine itself was tough, other elements of the 205 wore out, or rusted, so survivors are rare, so it was nice to see this one.
Once again there were two Firebird models here, one of which had been present back in March. That was the earlier of the two cars, dating from 1969. Pontiac introduced the Firebird in 1967, at the same time as the Chevrolet Camaro, a car whose underpinnings it shared. Although the bodystyles of the two cars were different in detail, the relationship remained obvious through the four generations of the two models, and the pair would evolve in parallel, as direct rivals to Ford’s Mustang, the car from which they took their inspiration. The first generation Firebirds had a characteristic Coke bottle styling. Unlike its cousin the Chevrolet Camaro, the Firebird’s bumpers were integrated into the design of the front end. The Firebird’s rear “slit” taillights were inspired by the Pontiac GTO. Both a two-door hardtop and a convertible were offered through the 1969 model year. Originally, the car was a “consolation prize” for Pontiac, who had wished to produce a two-seat sports car of its own design, based on the original Banshee concept car. However, GM feared such a vehicle would directly compete with Chevrolet’s Corvette, and the decision was made to give Pontiac a piece of the pony car market by having them share the F-body platform with Chevrolet. The base model Firebird came equipped with the OHC inline-6 and a single-barrel carburettor. The next model, the Sprint, had a four-barrel carburettor, developing 215 hp Most buyers opted for one of the V8 engines: the 326 CID (5.3 litre) with a two-barrel carburettor producing 250 hp; the “H.O.” (High Output) engine of the same displacement, but with a four-barrel carburettor and producing 285 hp; or the 400 CID (6.6 litre) from the GTO with 325 hp. A “Ram Air” option was also available in 1968, providing functional hood scoops, higher flow heads with stronger valve springs, and a different camshaft. Power for the Ram Air package was the same as the conventional 400 H.O., but the engine peaked at a higher RPM. The 230 CID (3.8 litre) engines were subsequently replaced by 250 CID (4.1 litre) engines, the first developing 175 hp using a single-barrel carburettor, and the other 215 hp with a four-barrel carburettor. Also for the 1968 model, the 326 CID (5.3 litre) engine was replaced by one with a displacement of 350 cubic inches (5.7 litre). An “H.O.” version of the 350 CID with a revised cam was also offered starting in that year, which developed 320 hp. Power output of the other engines was increased marginally. In 1969, a $725 optional handling package called the “Trans Am Performance and Appearance Package,”, named after the Trans Am Series, which included a rear spoiler, was introduced. Of these first “Trans Ams,” only 689 hardtops and eight convertibles were made. There was an additional Ram Air IV option for the 400 CID engine during that year, complementing the Ram Air III; these generated 345 and 335 hp respectively. The 350 “H.O.” engine was revised again with a different cam and cylinder heads resulting in 330 hp. During 1969 a special 303 cu in (5.0 litre) engine was designed for SCCA road racing applications that was not available in production cars. The styling difference from the 1967 to the 1968 model was the addition of Federally-mandated side marker lights: for the front of the car, the turn signals were made larger and extended to wrap around the front edges of the car, and on the rear, the Pontiac (V-shaped) Arrowhead logo was added to each side. The front door vent-windows were replaced with a single pane of glass. The 1969 model received a major facelift with a new front end design but unlike its big brother the GTO, it did not have the Endura bumper. The instrument panel and steering wheel were revised. The ignition switch was moved from the dashboard to the steering column with the introduction of GM’s new locking ignition switch/steering wheel. Due to engineering problems that delayed the introduction of the all-new 1970 Firebird beyond the usual autumn debut, Pontiac continued production of 1969 model Firebirds into the early months of the 1970 model year. The convertible model seen here dates from 1967 and the Coupe, with its new front end, from 1969.
After a model run of 12 years, GM replaced the Firebird and closely related Chevrolet Camaro for 1982 with a completely new model, which looked very different from their predecessors. There had been two fuel crises whilst the car was under development, so GM had to consider the weight and the fuel consumption of the 3rd generation models as they developed them. Known as the F-body, the third generation Firebird and Camaro were proposed as possible front wheel drive platforms, but the idea was scrapped and they emerged as rear wheel drive cars. The state of the art of computerised engine management was in its infancy, and as long as saving fuel was the primary objective, it was not possible to have high horsepower and torque numbers. They did manage to cut enough weight from the design so that acceleration performance would be better than the 1981 models. They also succeeded in the fuel consumption department, offering a 4-cylinder Firebird that would provide 34 mpg GM executives decided that engineering effort would best be spent on aerodynamics and chassis development. They created a modern platform, so that when engine technology advanced, they would have a well-balanced package with acceleration, braking, handling, and aerodynamics. For the time being, they would have world class aerodynamics and handling, and excellent fuel economy. The body design was very different from what had gone before, with edgier lines and the windscreen slope set at 62 degrees, (about 3 degrees steeper than anything GM had ever tried before), and for the first time, a large, glass-dominated hatchback that required no metal structure to support it. Two concealed pop-up headlights, a first on the F-Body cars, were the primary characteristic that distinguished the 3rd Gen Firebird from both its Camaro sibling and its prior form (a styling characteristic carried into the 4th Gen’s design). In addition to being about 500 pounds (230 kg) lighter than the previous 2nd Gen design, the 3rd Generation Firebird was the most aerodynamic product GM had ever released. Wind tunnels were used to form the new F-Body platform’s shape, and Pontiac took full advantage of it. The aerodynamic developments extended to the finned aluminium wheels with smooth hubcaps and a functional rear spoiler. This basic design remained in production for 11 years, though there were lots of detailed changes made during that time, with more power being added to try to return to the glory days of Firebird appealing to the performance enthusiast.
As always, there were lots of Porsche models here. In March there had been two of the latest 911 GT3 RS cars present, but this time there were none, and there had also been three of the also very limited production Cayman GT4 cars. There was one of these, and it was different from the trio of models that had come in March. The Cayman GT4, much rumoured for some time, was officially launched at the 2015 Geneva Show, positioned to sit between the Cayman GTS and the 911 GT3. By the time of the official unveiling, the car was supposedly sold out many times over, though more recently it has become apparent that at least some Porsche dealers have been holding onto cars claiming that the first purchaser changed their mind, and then offering them to those who did not get one of the allocation a year ago, at vastly inflated prices. If true, this is very sharp practice indeed, but seems to be the sort to tricks that are becoming increasingly common as enthusiasts are being fleeced in the name of extra profit. For a starting price of around £65,000 in the UK, the lucky customer would get a car which used used a stiffened and strengthened Cayman bodyshell as a starting point, but lowered by 30mm . Porsche say that in fitting as many GT parts as possible, they did not make it out of a Cayman GTS, but rather they produced an entry-level mid-engined GT3 car. That sounds like PR spin to me, as of course the car does use an awful lot of parts from the regular Cayman. However, plenty is changed, too. There is a reworked version of the Carrera S’s 3.8-litre flat six engine, producing 380bhp at 7400rpm and 310lb ft at 4750-6000rpm, hooked up to a modified version of the Cayman GTS’s six-speed manual gearbox. A PDK dual-clutch automatic was considered but rejected, meaning the Cayman GT4 is manual only. This is enough to mean that the 0-62mph sprint takes 4.4sec and the top speed is 183mph, with combined fuel economy of 27.4mpg and CO2 emissions rated at 238g/km. The front axle and suspension are borrowed from the 911 GT3 and the rear axle and forged aluminium double wishbone suspension are completely new. Dampers are taken from the 911 GT3. The electric steering system from the 911 GT3 does make it onto the Cayman GT4 but is given new software. Stopping power is provided by standard steel brakes, or optional carbon-ceramics from the 911 GT3. The forged 20in alloy wheels were new and are shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. The rear 295/30 ZR20 tyres are bespoke, but the front 245/35 ZR20s were borrowed from the 911 GT3 as they were “a perfect match”. design-wise, the goal was to create a “zero lift car”, but thanks to the extensive aerodynamic and cooling package on the car – which includes a front splitter, a larger front grille and increased frontal air intakes, side air intakes, not one but two rear spoilers and a fully functional diffuser – the Cayman GT4 produces as much downforce at speed (100kg) as the 911 GT3. Every single part on the Cayman GT4 has a functional use. Other design features include “cool” black glass on the front and rear lights, blackened twin central exhausts and quality stitching on the twin lightweight bucket seats, taken from the 918 Spyder, as small details adding to that ‘want factor’.Despite all the extra equipment, the Cayman GT4 weighs no more than a Cayman GTS, tipping the scales at 1340kg dry. You could delete items such as the sat-nav and air-con to save weight, but few customers did, just as with the 911 GT3 RS were just 2% of buyers deleted the air-con. Inside, the steering wheel was new. The sports seats were trimmed in both leather and Alcantara. Standard equipment included bi-xenon headlights, a sports exhaust system, a Sport Chrono Package with dynamic engine mounts, the Porsche Torque Vectoring system, a mechanical limited-slip differential at the rear and the Porsche Stability Management system. On the options list were items such as carbonfibre-reinforced, plastic-backed seats for the two-seat interior. These weigh just 15kg each and were inspired by the 918 Spyder. A customised version of the Sport Chrono Package was offered, as is a Club Sport Package. With production limited – each Porsche Centre in the UK was allocated just 10 cars – the car sold out long before any reviews were published, but when they came, it was quite clear that Porsche had produced an absolutely cracking car. Anyone who managed to get one, and UK deliveries were a long time coming, was very lucky indeed.
There was a regular Cayman S here, too, from the first generation of the model.
Several 911s were on show, ranging from a number of the G Series models of the late 70s and early 80s, in Targa, Cabrio and Turbo guises as well as a later 993 Carrera S and Turbo, a couple of 996s and the more recent 997.
Four cylinder models were a 944 and a 924 Turbo
The Rambler American was a rather humdrum mid-sized family car sold throughout the 1960s. This one had clearly had some performance upgrades applied, as well as some visual alterations.
Sporting Renaults present included the third generation Clio RS 197 and the earlier 182 Trophy as well as the larger Megane RS265.
From a distance, you may have thought that this was a second Austin Healey 3000, but get closer and you realise it is different in many details, with a slightly larger body. It is a product of Sebring International, a Gloucestershire-based company which has been producing replica Big Healeys since 1994, During this time, there have been a range of models offered, called SX, TMX, MXR, ZX and Exalt. They use fibreglass or metal bodywork, the style of which is reminiscent of the classic Austin-Healey 3000 sports cars produced between 1959 and 1967. The company name derives from the Sebring International Raceway in the USA, at which Austin-Healey cars were very successful. A range of engine options have been available, including a 5.7 litre Chevrolet V8, the familiar Rover V8 in all capacities from 3.5 to 4.6 litres, and various Ford and Nissan powerplants. Automatic transmission or 5-speed manual gearbox can be specified (except on the ZX, which is manual-only). Hardtops are available on some models. The cars are sold either in kitcar form or fully built.
One lone Subaru was present, a 3rd generation Impreza WRX in Hatchback form.
The first Sunbeam to bear the Alpine name was an open-topped version of the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 sports saloon, named after the model’s success in rallying, especially the Monte Carlo rally, launched in 1953. Kenneth Howes and Jeff Crompton were tasked with doing a complete redesign in 1956, with the goal of producing a dedicated sports car aimed principally at the US market to compete with the MGs and Triumphs that were very popular. Ken Howes contributed some 80 per cent of the overall design work, which bears more than incidental resemblance to the early Ford Thunderbird, hardly a surprise, as Howe had worked at Ford before joining Rootes. The Alpine was produced in four subsequent revisions until 1968. Total production numbered around 70,000. Production stopped shortly after the Chrysler takeover of the Rootes Group. Styled by the Loewy Studios for the Rootes Group, the “Series” Alpine started production in late 1959. One of the original prototypes still survives and was raced by British Touring car champion Bernard Unett. The car made extensive use of components from other Rootes Group vehicles and was built on a modified floorpan from the Hillman Husky estate car. The Series I used a 1,494 cc engine with dual downdraft carburettors, a soft top that could be hidden by special integral covers and the first available wind-up side windows offered in a British sports car of that time. The running gear came mainly from the Sunbeam Rapier, but with front disc brakes replacing the saloon car’s drums. An overdrive unit and wire wheels were optional. The suspension was independent at the front using coil springs and at the rear had a live axle and semi-elliptic springing. The Girling-manufactured brakes used 9.5 in (241 mm) discs at the front and 9 in (229 mm)drums at the rear. Coupé versions of the post-1959 version were built by Thomas Harrington Ltd. After the Le Mans Index of Efficiency success of 1961, Harrington sold replicas as the “Harrington Le Mans”, using a fastback body and an engine tuned to 104 hp. Unlike the Le Mans racers, these cars had a more integrated rear roofline and were without the tail fins of the roadsters. Until 1962 the car was assembled for Rootes by Armstrong Siddeley. An open car with overdrive was tested by The Motor in 1959. It had a top speed of 99.5 mph and could accelerate from 0–60 mph in 13.6 seconds. A fuel consumption of 31.4 mpg was recorded. The test car cost £1031 including taxes. 11,904 examples of the series I were produced.The Series II of 1962 featured an enlarged 1,592 cc engine producing 80 bhp and revised rear suspension, but there were few other changes. When it was replaced in 1963, 19,956 had been made. The Series III was produced in open and removable hardtop versions. On the hardtop version the top could be removed and the soft-top was stored behind the small rear seat; also the 1592 cc engine was less powerful. To provide more room in the boot, twin fuel tanks in the rear wings were fitted. Quarter light were fitted to the windows. Between 1963 and 1964, 5863 were made. For the Series IV, made in 1964 and 1965, there was no longer a lower-output engine option; the convertible and hardtop versions shared the same 82 bhp engine with single Solex carburettor. A new rear styling was introduced with the fins largely removed. Automatic transmission with floor-mounted control became an option, but was unpopular. From autumn 1964 a new manual gearbox with synchromesh on first gear was adopted in line with its use in other Rootes cars. A total of 12,406 were made. The final version was the Series V, produced between 1965–68 which had the new five-bearing 1,725 cc engine with twin Zenith-Stromberg semi-downdraught carburettors producing 93 bhp. There was no longer an automatic transmission option. 19,122 were made. The car also formed the basis for the V8 engined Tiger, and you tend to see those more often than the regular Alpine that was seen here.
Arriving relatively late in the morning, and thus finding plenty of parking in an area which had been cleared by the wardens earlier on, was this Swallow Doretti. The Doretti story begins with a transatlantic triumvirate of enterprising minds: Ernest Sanders of Walsall-based engineering firm Helliwells, a subsidiary of the Tube Investments conglomerate, Arthur Andersen of the Rome Cable company in California and Sir John Black, the Managing Director of Standard Triumph. Andersen and Sanders were both involved in manufacturing steel tubes, having met when Andersen devised an improved manufacturing method using the same American-built machines as Sanders used in England. They harboured a desire to market sports cars in the US. Sanders was an old friend of Sir John Black, who wanted to try to stem the sales growth being seen by Austin-Healey, with its 100 model. The three got together to hatch out a plan for a new sports car which they would aim at the West Coast of America. Black would supply the running gear, the TI Group owned the Swallow Coachbuilding Company Ltd – acquired in 1935 from what had evolved separately to become Jaguar Cars – would build it and Andersen would sell it. The task of designing the car fell to another TI staffer, Frank Rainbow. Swallow were making motorcycles at the time, and this new sports car would use up spare production capacity as well as creating publicity for other capabilities of the TI Group. The stage was set, even though none other than Black had any background in making cars. The styling of the new car was a long away from the Triumph TR2 whose mechanicals it would use, and as Andersen and Sanders had a background in steel tubing, it was perhaps not a surprise that the chassis was constructed from Reynolds 50-ton chrome-molybdenum tube produced by Helliwells in Walsall. The stylish body was constructed from 16 gauge aluminium over a 22 gauge steel inner shell, fabricated by Panelcraft of Birmingham. Despite the alloy body, the car was heavier than the TR2, but not by much, and it would proved very strong. Work had begun on the project in January 1953 and the completed first car was put on the Queen Mary and shipped to New York in the autumn of that year, from where it was transferred to Los Angeles. The car was well received, though the American dealers did suggest that wind-up windows rather than perspex sidescreens would be a good idea and they wanted a bigger boot. Sanders, no doubt pressured by his bosses, chose to ignore these suggestions and to put the car into production. The name is derived from Dorothy Deen, daughter of Arthur Andersen. A vivacious blonde, she had a company called Cal Sales Inc which sold the TR2, and would go on to sell the Doretti as well Before moving into that business, she had been involved in another company which sold a range of Italian accessories under the Doretti brand, a sort of Italianised go-faster version of her name. The British firm bought the brand name from her for just $1. The production Doretti proved to be every bit as sporting as the Triumph whose mechanicals it used, with its 90 bhp 2 litre TR2 engine making it capable of 100 mph, with 0-60 mph acceleration time of 12.3 seconds and a fuel consumption of around 28 mpg. Most cars were supplied with Laycock-de Normanville electric epicyclic overdrive, one of the refinements which meant the car was more civilised than the TR2, with another advantage being that the car had an easy to erect hood, which actually did seal the car off from the weather. The Doretti was bigger than the TR2 in every dimension, but that did not translate into any more space inside it. Sir John Black was a staunch supporter of the car and was keen to adopt it as a triumph product, but that was not to be. The first production car was delivered to him in November 1953. Keen to explore the cars performance he went out for a high speed run in it which had a disastrous end when a lorry turned across his path. he was seriously injured and forced to retire from Standard-Triumph as a result. Production of the Doretti continued though, for a while, but at £1107, when a TR2 was only £886, it was costly. That was not the only problem, though. What really sealed its fate was that rival manufacturers, most notably Jaguar, started to get concerned that the car was a threat to them, and they threatened to take away their business from TI as a components supplier. TI got the message and quietly withdrew the car in February 1955, after just 2776 had been made and just as an improved Mark II version was being prepared., with a stiffer chassis and better weight distribution.
There were a couple of examples of the Sunbeam Lotus here. One was liveried up to look like the works rally cars, and sadly I failed to get a photo of this, but I did record the other one, which is shown here. It is an example of the later model with a revised flush plastic grille. The Sunbeam started off life as a Chrysler, launched in 1977, as the long awaited replacement for the Hillman Imp, production of which had ended a year earlier. Based on a cut-down version of the Avenger chassis, this neat looking hatch was initially offered with a choice of 1.0, 1.3 and 1.6 litre 4 cylinder engines and it retained rear wheel drive at a time when all the rivals were switching front wheel drive This was a move forced upon its maker by the lack of capital to do anything else, but whilst it was not great for space efficiency, it would have an advantage when it came to the sporting versions and indeed for what would turn out to be a very successful career in motorsport. The sporting road cars hit the market in 1979, and these are the only examples of the Sunbeam that you tend to see these days. By the time they hit the market, the Chrysler badging had gone, as a consequence of the sale of Chrysler’s European business to Peugeoit-Citroen in the summer of 1978 meant that by mid 1979 a new name was required. The old Talbot branding was dusted off and overnight the cars all became Talbots. The first potent Sunbeam to appear had been the Ti, a sort of modern day version of the Avenger Tiger, with a 110 bhp twin carb 1600cc engine under the bonnet. It went on sale in the spring of 1979, as an appetiser for something more special, which had been unveiled at the Geneva Show in March, a few weeks earlier. The Sunbeam Lotus was the fruits of Chrysler’s commission to sports car manufacturer and engineering company Lotus to develop a strict rally version of the Sunbeam. The resulting ‘”Sunbeam Lotus” was based on the Sunbeam 1.6 GLS, but fitted with stiffer suspension, a larger anti-roll bar and a larger transmission tunnel. The drivetrain comprised an enlarged 2172 cc version of the Lotus 1973 cc 907 engine, a 16 valve slant four engine (the Sunbeam version being type 911, similar to the “Lotus 912”), along with a ZF gearbox, both mounted in the car at Ludham Airfield, close to the Lotus facility in Hethel, Norfolk, where the almost-complete cars were shipped from Linwood. Final inspection, in turn, took place in Stoke, Coventry. In road trim, the Lotus type 911 engine produced 150 bhp at 5,750rpm and 150 lb/ft of torque at 4,500rpm. In rallying trim this was increased to 250 bhp Production cars were not actually ready for deliveries to the public until after the mid-year rebranding, and thus became the “Talbot Sunbeam Lotus”. At first these were produced mostly in black and silver, although later models came in a moonstone blue and silver (or black) scheme. The car saw not only enthusiastic press reviews, but also much success in the World Rally Championship – in 1980, Henri Toivonen won the 29th Lombard RAC Rally in one, and, in 1981, the Sunbeam Lotus brought the entire manufacturer’s championship to Talbot. The first road cars were finished in the two tone black and silver colour scheme that is seen here. Later models were also offered in two tone blue and silver. There is an enthusiastic following for Sunbeam Lotus cars these days.
There were a couple of sporting Toyota models here. The more familiar was an example of the second generation MR2 and there was also one of the late 80s Supra models.
There were a couple of examples of the Stag here. Envisioned as a luxury sports car, the Triumph Stag was designed to compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz SL. The car started as a styling experiment, cut and shaped from a 1963–4 Triumph 2000 pre-production saloon, which had also been styled by Michelotti, and loaned to him by Harry Webster, Director of Engineering at Triumph. Their agreement was that if Webster liked the design, Triumph could use the prototype as the basis of a new Triumph model. Harry Webster, who was a long time friend of Giovanni Michelotti, whom he called “Micho”, loved the design and took the prototype back to England. The end result, a two-door drop head (convertible), had little in common with the styling of its progenitor 2000, but retained the suspension and drive line. Triumph liked the Michelotti design so much that they propagated the styling lines of the Stag into the new Mark 2 2000/2500 saloon and estate model lines. The initial Stag design was based around the saloon’s 2.5-litre six cylinder engine, but Harry Webster intended the Stag, large saloons and estate cars to use a new Triumph-designed overhead cam 2.5-litre fuel injected V8. Under the direction of Harry Webster’s successor, Spen King in 1968, the new Triumph OHC 2.5 PI V8 was enlarged to 2997 cc to increase torque. To meet emission standards in the USA, a key target market, the troublesome mechanical fuel injection was dropped in favour of dual Zenith-Stromberg 175 CDSE carburettors. A key aim of Triumph’s engineering strategy at the time was to create a family of engines of different size around a common crankshaft. This would enable the production of power plants of capacity between 1.5 and 4 litres, sharing many parts, and hence offering economies of manufacturing scale and of mechanic training. A number of iterations of this design went into production, notably a slant four-cylinder engine used in the later Triumph Dolomite and Triumph TR7, and a variant manufactured by StanPart that was initially used in the Saab 99. The Stag’s V8 was the first of these engines into production. Sometimes described as two four-cylinder engines Siamesed together, it is more correct to say that the later four-cylinder versions were half a Stag engine. It has sometimes been alleged that Triumph were instructed to use the proven all-aluminium Rover V8, originally designed by Buick, but claimed that it would not fit. Although there was a factory attempt by Triumph to fit a Rover engine, which was pronounced unsuccessful, the decision to go with the Triumph V8 was probably driven more by the wider engineering strategy and by the fact that the Buick’s different weight and torque characteristics would have entailed substantial re-engineering of the Stag when it was almost ready to go on sale. Furthermore Rover, also owned by British Leyland, could not necessarily have supplied the numbers of V8 engines to match the anticipated production of the Stag anyway. As in the Triumph 2000 model line, unitary construction was employed, as was fully independent suspension – MacPherson struts in front, semi-trailing arms at the rear. Braking was by front disc and rear drum brakes, while steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. Although other bodystyles were envisaged, these never made production, so all Stags were four-seater convertible coupés. For structural rigidity – and to meet new American rollover standards of the time – the Stag required a B-pillar “roll bar” hoop connected to the windscreen frame by a T-bar. A removable hardtop was a popular factory option for the early Stags, and was later supplied as a standard fitment. The car was launched one year late in 1970, to a warm welcome at the various international auto shows. Sadly, it rapidly acquired a reputation for mechanical unreliability, usually in the form of overheating. These problems arose from a variety of causes, all of which are now well understood, and for which solutions have been identified, but at the time, they really hurt the reputation and hence sales of the car. They ranged from late changes to the engine which gave rise to design features that were questionable from an engineering perspective, the choice of materials which necessitated the use of antifreeze all year round, the engine’s use of long, simplex roller link chains, which would first stretch and then often fail inside fewer than 25,000 miles; the arrangement of the cylinder head fixing studs, half of which were vertical and the other half at an angle causing sideways forces which caused premature failure of the cylinder head gaskets. and poor quality production from a plant troubled with industrial unrest and poor quality control. At the time, British Leyland never provided a budget sufficient to correct the few design shortcomings of the Triumph 3.0 litre OHC V8, and the dealers did not help matters. The Stag was always a relatively rare car. British Leyland had around 2,500 UK dealers when the Stag was on sale and a total of around 19,000 were sold in the UK. Thus the average dealer sold only seven or eight Stags during the car’s whole production run, or roughly one car per year. This meant that few dealers saw defective Stags often enough to recognise and diagnose the cause of the various problems. Many owners simply replaced the engine altogether, often with the Rover V8, Ford Essex V6, or even the Triumph 6-cylinder engine around which the car was originally designed. Perhaps thanks to such a reputation for its unreliable engine, only 25,877 cars were produced between 1970 and 1977. Of this number, 6780 were export models, of which 2871 went to the United States. The majority of cars were fitted with a Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic transmission. The other choice was a derivative of the ancient Triumph TR2 gearbox which had been modified and improved over the years for use in the TR series of sports cars. Other than the choice of transmissions there were very few factory-installed options. On early cars buyers could choose to have the car fitted with just the soft-top, just the hard-top (with the hood storage compartment empty) or with both. Later cars were supplied with both roofs. Three wheel styles were offered. The standard fitments were steel wheels with Rostyle “tin-plate” trims. Five-spoke alloy wheels were an option, as were a set of traditional steel spoke wheels with “knock-off”‘ hubcaps. The latter were more commonly found on Stags sold in North America on Federal Specification vehicles. Electric windows, power steering and power-assisted brakes were standard. Options included air conditioning, a luggage rack, uprated Koni shock absorbers, floor mats and Lucas Square Eight fog lamps, and a range of aftermarket products, most of which were dealer installed as optional accessories could also be fitted. Rather unusually for a 4-seat touring car, the accessory list included a sump protector plate that was never produced. This was probably included as a slightly “gimmicky” tribute to Triumph’s rallying successes. Nowadays, the Stag is seen in a very different light, with lots of very enthusiastic and knowledgeable owners who enjoy the good points of this attractive looking car and who revel in the fact that the market has not yet boosted prices into the unaffordable category, as one day will surely happen.
Representing Triumph’s sports car line was this Spitfire Mark IV. Based on the chassis and mechanicals of the Triumph Herald, the Spitfire was conceived as a rival to the Austin-Healey Sprite and MG Midget, which were launched a year earlier. The Triumph soon found a strong following, with many preferring it to the BMC cars which in time would become in-house stablemates. Mark II models arrived in 1965 and a more comprehensive facelift in 1967 with the distinctive “bone in mouth” front grille necessitated by US bumper height regulations also brought changes, but it was with the Mark IV that the greatest number of alterations would come about. The Mark IV featured a completely re-designed cut-off rear end, giving a strong family resemblance to the Triumph Stag and Triumph 2000 models, both of which were also Michelotti-designed. The front end was also cleaned up, with a new bonnet pressing losing the weld lines on top of the wings from the older models, and the doors were given recessed handles and squared-off glass in the top rear corner. The interior was much improved: a proper full-width dashboard was provided, putting the instruments ahead of the driver rather than over the centre console. This was initially black plastic however was replaced with wood in 1973. An all-new hardtop was also available, with rear quarter-lights and a flatter rear screen. By far the most significant change, however, was to the rear suspension, which was de-cambered and redesigned to eliminate the unfortunate tendencies of the original swing-axle design. The Triumph GT6 and Triumph Vitesse had already been modified, and the result on all these cars was safe and progressive handling even at the limit. The 75 hp engine was now rated at 63 hp (for UK market employing the 9:1 compression ratio and twin SU HS2 carburetors; the less powerful North American version still used a single Zenith Stromberg carburettor and an 8.5:1 compression ratio) due to the German DIN system; the actual output was the same for the early Mark IV. However, it was slightly slower than the previous Mark III due to carrying more weight, and employing a taller 3.89:1 final drive as opposed to the earlier 4.11:1. The engine continued at 1296 cc, but in 1973 was modified with larger big-end bearings to rationalise production with the TR6 2.5 litre engines, which somewhat decreased its “revvy” nature; there was some detuning, to meet new emissions laws, which resulted in the new car being a little tamer. With the overall weight also increasing to 1,717 lb (779 kg) the performance dropped as a consequence, 0 to 60 mph now being achieved in 15.8 seconds and the top speed reducing to 90 mph. The overall fuel economy also dipped to 32mpg. The gearbox gained synchromesh on its bottom gear. The Mark IV went on sale in the UK at the end of 1970 with a base price of £735. In 1973 in the United States and Canada, and 1975 in the rest of the world, the 1500 engine was used to make the Spitfire 1500. Although in this final incarnation the engine was rather rougher and more prone to failure than the earlier units, torque was greatly increased by increasing the cylinder stroke to 87.5 mm (3.44 in), which made it much more drivable in traffic. While the rest of the world saw 1500s with the compression ratio reduced to 8.0:1, the American market model was fitted with a single Zenith-Stromberg carburettor and a compression ratio reduced to 7.5:1 to allow it to run on lower octane unleaded fuel, and after adding a catalytic converter and exhaust gas recirculating system, the engine only delivered 53 bhp with a slower 0–60 time of 16.3 seconds. The notable exception to this was the 1976 model year, where the compression ratio was raised to 9.1:1. This improvement was short-lived, however, as the ratio was again reduced to 7.5:1 for the remaining years of production. In the UK the 9:1 compression ratio, less restrictive emissions control equipment, and the Type HS2 SU carburettors now being replaced with larger Type HS4 models, led to the most powerful variant to date. The 1500 Spitfire now produced 71hp (DIN) at 5500 rpm, and produced 82 lb/ft of torque at 3000 rpm. Top speed was now at the magical 100 mph mark, and 0 to 60 mph was reached in 13.2 seconds. Fuel economy was reduced to 29mpg. Further improvements to the suspension followed with the 1500 included longer swing axles and a lowered spring mounting point for more negative camber and a wider rear track. The wider, lower stance gave an impressive skid pad result of 0.87g average. This put the Spitfire head and shoulders over its competition in handling. The American market Spitfire 1500 is easily identified by the big plastic over-riders and wing mounted reflectors on the front and back wings. The US specification models up to 1978 still had chrome bumpers, but on the 1979 and 1980 models these were replaced by black rubber bumpers with built-in over-riders. Chassis extensions were also fitted under the boot to support the bumpers. Detail improvements continued to be made throughout the life of the Mark IV, and included reclining seats with “chequered brushed nylon centre panels” and head restraints, introduced for domestic market cars early in 1977 along with a new set of column stalk operated minor controls (as fitted already in the TR7) replacing the old dashboard mounted knobs and switches. Also added for the model’s final years were a wood dash, hazard flashers and an electric screen washer, in place of the previous manual pump operated ones. Options such as the hard top, tonneau cover, map light and overdrive continued to be popular, but wire wheels ceased to be available. The 1980 model was the last and the heaviest of the entire run, weighing 1,875 lb (850.5 kg). Base prices for the 1980 model year was £3,631 in the UK. The last Spitfire, an Inca Yellow UK-market model with hardtop and overdrive, rolled off the assembly line at Canley in August 1980, shortly before the factory closed. It was never sold and is now displayed at the museum at Gaydon.
Final Triumph here was a late model Dolomite Sprint, looking rather more subtle, perhaps in its Brooklands Green paint than the early cars all of which came in Mimosa Yellow. Final Triumph as a Dolomite. In many ways, the Dolomite was the 3 Series of its day, a family sized saloon that offered a combination of luxury and sportiness that made it a cut above the average volume-selling Cortina and Marina. Designed as the successor for the upmarket variants of Triumph’s front-wheel drive designs, and also to replace a sporting relative of the Herald, the 6-cylinder Triumph Vitesse, the Triumph Dolomite was unveiled at the London Motor Show in October 1971. However, due to a number of strikes and other industrial upsets, the car was not reported to be in full production until October 1972. The Dolomite used the longer bodyshell of the front wheel drive Triumph 1500, but with the majority of the running gear carried over from the rear-wheel drive Triumph Toledo. Initially, the only version available used the new slant-four 1854 cc engine, which mated an alloy OHC head to an iron block, providing 91 bhp which offered sprightly performance. This was a version of the engine that the company was already providing to Saab for use in their 99 model. The car was aimed at the then-new compact performance-luxury sector, vying for sales against cars such as the BMW 2002 and Ford Cortina GXL, and was offered with a high level of standard equipment, including twin headlamps, a clock, full instrumentation, luxury seats and carpets, a heated rear window, and a cigar lighter. Styling was similar to the Triumph 1500, with some updates such as a black painted rear panel, vinyl D-posts, and new wheel trims. The car was capable of 100 mph with 60 mph coming up in just over 11 seconds. An overdrive gearbox was soon made available as an option, offering relaxed motorway cruising and improved fuel economy, and there was also an optional automatic transmission. Although the Dolomite proved to be refined and rapid, competitors such as the BMW 2002 had a performance advantage which was costing Triumph dearly, both in terms of sales and prestige. To remedy this, Triumph unveiled the Dolomite Sprint in June 1973, although the launch had been delayed by a year; it had been due to go on sale in 1972. A team of engineers led by Spen King developed a 16-valve cylinder head with all of the valves being actuated using a single camshaft rather than the more conventional DOHC arrangement. The capacity was also increased to 1,998 cc and combined with bigger carburettors the output was upped to 127 bhp. This represented a significant power increase over the smaller 1850cc variant, however it fell short of the original target of 135 bhp Despite BL engineers being able to extract a reliable 150 bhp from test engines, the production line was unable to build the engines to the same level of quality, with production outputs being in the region of 125 bhp to 130 bhp. This led to the original model designation, the Dolomite 135, being replaced at short notice with the Sprint name. As a result of the use of this engine, the Dolomite Sprint has been claimed to be “the world’s first mass-produced multi-valve car”. While other multi-valve engines (notably the Lotus 907) were produced in volume, they were not used in mass production vehicles until after the introduction of the Dolomite Sprint. The design of the cylinder head won a British Design Council award in 1974. Performance was excellent, with 0–60 mph taking around 8.4 seconds, with a maximum speed of 119 mph. Trim was similar to the 1850, with the addition of standard alloy wheels (another first for a British production car), a vinyl roof, front spoiler, twin exhausts and lowered suspension. By now seats were cloth on the 1850, and these were also fitted to the Sprint. Due to the increase in power brought by the new engine, the rest of the driveline was upgraded to be able to withstand the extra torque. The gearbox and differential were replaced by a version of those fitted to the TR and 2000 series cars, albeit with a close ratio gearset in the gearbox. The brakes were upgraded with new pad materials at the front, and the fitment of larger drums and a load sensing valve at the rear. Other changes over the standard Dolomite included the option of a limited slip differential. The optional overdrive and automatic transmission from the 1850 model were also offered as options on the Sprint. Initial models were only offered in Mimosa Yellow, although further colours were available from 1974 on. At launch the Sprint was priced at £1740, which compared extremely well to similar cars from other manufacturers. Prospective buyers would have been hard pressed to justify the extra £1000 cost of the BMW 2002 Tii, which offered similar performance. The four-door practicality of the Sprint also made it a very attractive proposition for the young executive choosing his first company car. The press gave the Dolomite Sprint an enthusiastic reception. Motor summarised its road test (subtitled “Britain leads the way”) with glowing praise: ” …the Sprint must be the answer to many people’s prayer. It is well appointed, compact, yet deceptively roomy. Performance is there in plenty, yet economy is good and the model’s manners quite impeccable … Most important of all, it is a tremendously satisfying car to drive”. Sadly, it proved not quite so satisfying to own, as the legendary BL lack of reliability was a feature on some, but by no means all Sprints. In 1976, Triumph rationalised their range, calling all their small models, Dolomite, and using the same body shell, so the Toledo (which had maintained its stubby tail until this point) and 1500TC became the Dolomite 1300, 1500 and 1500HL respectively. With minor changes to trim and equipment, the cars continued in production until 1980.
This little Trojan bubble car is an event regular, and it always attracts lots of interest, with many intrigued by the car, especially when they see the whole front open and how you have to launch yourself in (carefully!). Trojan had a long history producing cars and trucks, and this was the last model produced to bear their name, but it was not their design. In fact it was a German Heinkel built under licence at the Croydon works between 1960 and 1965. The original Heinkel Kabine was a microcar designed by Heinkel Flugzeugwerke and built by them from 1956 to 1958. The Kabine Model 150, used a 174 cc 9.2 hp single-cylinder four-stroke engine that powered the Heinkel Tourist scooter. Later that year, Heinkel introduced the Kabine Model 153 (with three wheels) and the Kabine Model 154 (with four wheels), both with 204 cc engines. The engines in these models were later reduced in capacity to 198 cc for insurance purposes. The Kabine had a steel unit body. Access to the interior was by an opening front, but in order not to infringe Iso Rivolta’s patent used on the Isetta, the steering wheel did not move with the door. However, it did feature a reverse gear, unlike some other bubble cars. The fabric sun roof served as an emergency escape hatch should the sole door in front become jammed in a collision. Production was transferred under licence to Dundalk Engineering Company in Ireland in 1958 but the licence was withdrawn shortly afterwards due to poor quality control. Production restarted in 1960, again under licence, under the Trojan 200 name by Trojan Cars Ltd. in the UK, and continued until 1966, and the car was also assembled from 1959 to 1962 under licence by Los Cedros S.A. in Argentina, alongside Studebaker pickups.
Half a dozen TVR models were present this month. Oldest of them was a 350i, one of the “wedge” era TVRs produced from 1980, and the version which finally brought the Tasmin series to life. During the 1970s, TVR had been making the M Series, including the Taimar hatch and open topped 3000S, which had their roots way back in the 60s, and 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.
As is often the case, there were several examples of the much loved TVRs from the 90s to the end of production in 2006, a Griffith, a couple of Tuscans, a T350C and a Sagaris.
Making another appearance at this event was this Lotus Carlton, a 177 mph sports saloon with acceleration that was the equal of contemporary supercars. Based on the regular Vauxhall Carlon/Opel Omega A which had been luanched in the autumn of 1986, this car was upgraded by Lotus Cars. Like all Lotus vehicles, it was given a type designation — Type 104 in this case. The external differences were minimal with the addition of a rear spoiler, vents on the bonnet, Lotus badges on the front wings and bootlid, a bodykit and considerably wider wheel arches distinguishing it from a standard Carlton/Omega. The car was only sold in one colour, a shade called Imperial Green, a very dark green that in anything but direct light appears black. Performance modifications started with an upgraded engine, which was enhanced by Lotus from the standard Opel 2969 cc 24v straight six unit used in the GSi. The engine was enlarged to a capacity of 3615 cc.Lotus then added twin Garrett T25 turbochargers, which provide up to 0.7 bar of boost from about 1500 rpm. The original distributor ignition system of the engine was replaced with a three-coil wasted spark system. The distributor drive was re-purposed as a water pump drive for the water-air intercooler circuit. The intercooler itself is manufactured by Behr and is capable of reducing the temperature of the compressed charge from 120 °C to 60 °C. In addition to fitting two turbochargers and an intercooler system, Lotus directed a number of engineering changes to the engine so that it would perform reliably with the higher power output. To cope with the higher cylinder pressures (about 95 bar), the external webbing on the engine block was reinforced. The crankshaft was replaced as well; early development crankshafts were machined from billet steel in Italy, but the production units were forged by Opel and sent to Maschinenfabrik Alfing Kessler for machining. The cylinder head was left mostly the same as the 24-valve head from the Opel Omega, although the combustion chamber was milled to reduce the static compression ratio to 8.2:1 (from 10.0:1). The engine is fitted with forged slipper pistons produced by Mahle. Piston connecting rods were replaced with new units made to an original Lotus design. The same six-speed manual ZF transmission as fitted to a contemporary Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 was used to transfer this power to the rear wheels via a rear limited-slip differential from the V8 Holden Commodore. The multi-link suspension of the Omega, already praised by the automotive press, was modified by Lotus for better high-speed stability and improved handling dynamics. To combat the problem of significant camber change (seen with the car at high speed and when fully laden), the self-levelling suspension from the Opel Senator was fitted. Also borrowed from the Senator was the Servotronic power steering system, which provides full power assist at parking speeds, and reduces the power assist as the road speed increases. The Lotus engineers would have preferring using a rack and pinion steering arrangement, but cost and space constraints limited them to the worm-and-roller arrangement. Initial sketches for the wheels showed a split-rim composite design, but this was ultimately abandoned in favor of a monoblock wheel design, with cited concerns over the durability of the wheels in poor road conditions. The final design for the 17″ wheels was manufactured by Ronal, along with wider tyres than those used on the Opel Omega, with the tyre compound used being the same as that on the Lotus Esprit Turbo SE, with a combination of oils and low hysteresis. This allowed for improved high-speed stability and better performance in wet conditions. The car was fitted with 12.9 in brake discs with four-piston AP calipers at the front and 11.8 in discs with two-piston calipers at the rear. The Lotus Carlton produced 377 bhp and 419 lb/ft of which 350 lb/ft was available from 2000 rpm. The car was capable of 0–60 mph in 5.2 seconds and achieve 0–100-0 mph in less than 17 seconds. Tall gearing allowed it to achieve approximately 55 mph in first gear. The Lotus Carlton/Omega held the title of the fastest four-door saloon car for some years. Production of the Lotus Carlton/Omega began in 1990, four years after the original Omega went on sale. Opel had hoped to build 1,100 cars in total, but owing to the recession of the early 1990s, the £48,000 cars did not sell as well as anticipated and production at Lotus was halted in December 1992. Only 950 cars were completed: 320 Carltons and 630 Omegas, 150 short of the original target.
This was the second Cavalier Convertible that I have seen in a week, one having also been at the Donington Historic Festival a week before this Breakfast Club. By the time I got to this one, parked up, the rain had paid a visit, so the owner had erected the hood, which spoils the looks a bit. The Convertible version of the Mark 2 Cavalier was launched in 1985. It was based on the 2-door saloon which was only available for a short time in the UK and was not very successful. The conversion of the Convertible was carried out by Hammond & Thiede. The car only came with the 1.8 injected petrol engine. Standard equipment included electrical operated and heated door mirrors, electric boot release. Optional equipment included a 3 speed automatic gear box, electric front windows, power steering, drivers seat height adjust and two-coat metallic paint. An equivalent open topped Opel Ascona was also offered. Production continued up till the introduction of the Mk3 Cavalier in October 1988.
In March there was a nice example of the Type 3 VW, in Fastback guise. This type there was the estate, or Variant, model here, a bodystyle which proved to be the more popular in the UK when this car was new. Introduced at the 1961 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Type 3 was initially marketed as the Volkswagen 1500 and later the Volkswagen 1600, and was offered in three body styles: two-door Notchback, a two door coupe style Fastback and a two door estate car, known as the ‘Variant’ in most markets, and ‘Squareback’ in the United States. The Type 3 diversified Volkswagen’s product range beyond the existing models – the Type 1 (Beetle), Type 14 Karmann Ghia, Type 2 (Bus) – while retaining their engineering principles, notably the air-cooled engine, all round torsion bar suspension, and the rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout. The Type 3 followed the Type 1, using a low-profile version of Volkswagen’s rear-engined, 4-cylinder air-cooled engine, as well as body-on-chassis construction while featuring ponton styling in contrast to the Type 1’s articulated wings and running boards. VW finalised the design by 1959 with prototypes ready for testing by 1960. Secrecy was such that even at the 1960 Geneva Auto Show, VW denied they were readying a new design. In 1961 VW announced the new line as the “VW 1500”. Production began in August 1961, a month before launch, with the new car having three-box styling in a notchback saloon body. An associated Karmann Ghia 1500 (also known as the Type 34 Karmann Ghia) with a coupé body followed a few months later, with production starting in November 1961 and deliveries in January 1962. The estate bodied Variant followed, with the first cars produced in February 1962. Two convertibles based on the 1500 Notchback were also announced with the original models, but did not enter production. The Fastback, or TL version, a fastback coupé, arrived in August 1965, at the same time the 1600 engine was introduced. Volkswagen’s intention was that this model should replace the Notchback, which is what happened in the UK market, but in other markets, including the German domestic market, the number of customers preferring the older Notchback shaped car was higher than foreseen, and in the end both Notchback and Fastback body shapes remained in production until July 1973. Volkswagen of America began importing the Type 3 in 1966 in the “Squareback” and “Fastback” but not the Notchback configurations. The Type 3 was competing in the market with the Chevrolet Corvair that had been previously introduced in the United States in 1960, which incorporated a 6-cylinder rear-mounted air-cooled engine in notchback and station wagon body style, as well as a compact van derived from the platform. The Type 3 was initially equipped with a 1493 cc engine based on the air-cooled 1192 cc flat-4 found in the Type 1, but given a 69 mm stroke it became the basis for the 1300 cc and 1600 cc engines that followed in the later Beetle (Type 1) and Volkswagen Type 2 T1 and T2. While the long block remained the same as the Type 1, the engine cooling was redesigned by putting the fan on the end of the crankshaft instead of on the generator. This reduced the height of the engine profile, allowed greater cargo volume, and earned the nicknames of “Pancake” or “Suitcase” engine. The engine’s displacement would eventually increase to 1584 cc. It used a similar transmission to the Beetle but with higher ratios. Unlike the Beetle, the Type 3 engine and transmission unit was mounted into a subframe which contained the complete rear suspension, in turn rubber-mounted to the floorpan and body, thereby isolating vibration and road noise from the passenger space. The original Volkswagen 1500 used a single side-draught 32 mm Solex PHN carburettor. In August 1963 VW introduced single- and twin-carburettor versions, respectively the Volkswagen 1500 ‘N’ (Normal), rated at 45 PS, and the 1500 ‘S’ (Super), 54 PS which had high-compression (8.5:1) domed 83 mm pistons and twin downdraught 32 mm Solex PDSIT carburettors for more power. The Type 3 engine was enlarged to 1600cc for 1966 and in 1968 became the world’s first volume production car to feature electronic fuel injection – pioneered by Bosch. The Bosch D-Jetronic system was offered on the Volkswagen 1600 TE & LE version (E designating “Einspritzung” or “injection” in German). A similar Bosch injection system was used in the later Type 4 VW 411, some models of the Porsche 914, Opel Admiral, Diplomat and Commodore, and available for the Volvo P1800. Also introduced for 1968 was a fully automatic transmission. A notable advance from the Type 1 to the Type 3 was the front suspension — although similar to the Type 1, it was the first Volkswagen front suspension to incorporate transverse round torsion bars, as opposed to the Type 1’s torsion leaves. The Type 3’s torsion bars are cross-mounted in the lower tube, so that each individual torsion bar spans the full width of the car, the upper tube containing an anti-roll bar that connects the upper trailing links to each other. In 1968 the rear suspension was upgraded to double jointed CV joint semi trailing arm suspension (sometimes called IRS by VW enthusiasts to differentiate it from the previous swing-axle type), a design feature that previously appeared on the VW Type 2 in 1967. Like the Type 1, The Type 3 offered both front and rear luggage areas, with greater volume and easier rear cargo accessibility via a rear-opening boot lid. In all four variants (Karmann Ghia, Notchback, Squareback and Fastback), the engine was located under a panel in the rear. The Type 3 also featured wall-to-wall carpeting, and was available with air conditioning in the US. The model received a facelift in 1970, when a 115 mm (4.5 in) nose-lengthening added 1.5 cu ft to the front luggage capacity. Volkswagen offered the Type 3 in a lower trim level in Europe, marketed as the 1600A. In the US, and for 1973 only, Volkswagen offered two trim levels of the Type 3 Fastback, marketed as the Type 3 Sedan and Type 3 Basic Compact. The Basic Compact featured reduced content, including limited colour and upholstery availability and without belt line chrome, clock, electric heated rear window – and with painted frames around the vent windows, a black cardboard front boot liner over the fuel tank without a liner on the sides of the boot or over the firewall, plain vinyl door panels without door pockets and rubber mats in lieu of interior carpet. While the Type 3 was a more modern design, it never reached the same level of popularity as the Beetle, though both the Fastback and the Variant sold in excess of 1.2 million examples each . As Volkswagen started to produce front-wheel-drive water-cooled designs, production ended in 1973 at the Wolfsburg plant, with production moving to VW’s new Emden plant, which was later retooled in 1973 to build the first generation Passat, the car which effectively replaced the Type 3 range.
Rather better known is the Type 2, which was offered from 1950 until its replacement in 1979, in a vast array of different body styles. It is the Camper Vans, both factory produced and modified by such well known firms as Devon and Westfalia that are best known and most sought after these days. This late model example, with what became known as the “Bay Front” is the only one I photographed, but I recall that there were other rather heavily modified (and slammed) examples here as well.
VW had enjoyed considerable success with the Sciroccos, a front wheel drive Hatch that was based on the Golf, and offered a stylish modern alternative to the Ford Capri and Opel Manta. the second generation car did not quite the same favour as the first, but even so there was eager anticipation of what was initially thought would be the third generation car. But as VW looked to push the model further upmarket, they opted for a new name, choosing Corrado for the car, which debuted in 1988. Although the new car’s floorpan was based on that of the Mark 2 Golf/Jetta, there had been a plan that the model would actually replace the Porsche 944. That idea came to nought and the car, built by Karmann, as the Scirocco had been, took its place in the VW range, alongside the Scirocco which remained in production for a further three years. All Corrados were front-wheel drive and featured petrol engines, the car debuting with two engine choices: a 1.8 litre 16-valve inline-four with 136 hp and a troublesome supercharged 1.8 litre eight-valve inline-four, marketed as the G60 and delivering 160 hp. The Corrado G60 was named for the G-Lader with which it was equipped, a scroll supercharger whose interior resembles the letter “G”. Volkswagen introduced two new engines for 1992. The first was a naturally-aspirated 2.0 litre 16-valve 136 bhp inline-four, basically a further development of the 1.8 litre engine; this engine was not made available to the North American market. The second was the 12-valve VR6 engine, which came in two variants: a 2.8 litre 179 bhp model for the US and Canadian markets and a 2.9 litre 187 bhp version for the European market. Upon revising the engine, VW updated the styling with a new front grille and foglamps. With the introduction of the VR6 engine, the G60 engine disappeared from the North American market after 1992 and European market in 1993. The VR6 engine provided a compromise between both V-shaped and straight engines by placing the two cylinder banks at an angle of 15° with a single cylinder head. This design allowed engineers to fit a six-cylinder engine into roughly the same space that was previously occupied by four-cylinder engines, while closely approaching the smoothness of a straight-six design. By the time it was launched, VW had updated the Golf to the Mark 3,and some elements of its A3 platform was introduced on the Corrado with the VR6 announcement, including the suspension components, the rear axle assembly and some parts of the A3’s ‘plus’ type front axle assembly. The subsequent wider front wheel-track of the Corrado VR6 necessitated the fitting of new front wings with wider wheel arches and liners along with a new front bumper assembly. Together with a new raised-style bonnet to accommodate the VR6 engine, these body improvements were carried across the model range. A 2.0 litre eight-valve model with 115 hp was produced in Europe in 1995. A UK-only limited production model, the Corrado Storm, was also sold. Some discreet “Storm” badging, a colour-keyed front grille, an additional Storm badge on the gear gaiter surround (an upgrade from the standard Karmann badge), 15 inch BBS “Solitude” alloy wheels, and standard fitment of some previously optional items (such as the leather heated front seats) were all that differentiated this model from the base Corrado VR6. Only 500 were produced: 250 in Classic Green with a cream leather interior, and 250 in Mystic Blue, a colour unique to the Storm, with a black leather interior. The Storm models are the most desirable of all these days. Production ended in 1995. Although the car was much praised for its handling, and the VR6 engine was sublime, t was costly, Karmann’s build quality was patchy and those who experienced the G60 versions had more than their fair share of reliability issues (A colleague of mine had at least 4 superchargers blow in the first 60,000 miles). All told, 97,521 Corrados were produced. There were two present here.
Another vehicle I’ve not seen here before was this beautifully presented, if slightly customised Mark 1 Golf Caddy pickup. The Caddy came into being when Volkswagen was experimenting with Golf derivatives, an estate and a pickup. Volkswagen of America was interested in the pickup, and they were first to market this body style with the Rabbit Pickup in North America, produced at the Volkswagen Westmoreland Assembly Plant in Pennsylvania from 1978 to 1984. Trim levels such as LX and Sportruck were available, along with two engine choices, the 1.5 litre diesel and the 1.7 litre petrol. One unique feature of the time was that the diesel came with a 5 speed gearbox, with the 5th gear labeled as “E” or “Economy”. The Caddy actually wasn’t called Caddy until 1982 when it was released in Europe. European Caddys were built in Volkswagen’s plant TAS in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1982 till 1992. The original Caddy was produced in South Africa until 2007, alongside the first generation Golf itself (which was sold until 2009). The stamping equipment was shipped from the closed plant in Westmoreland for both models. The second generation Caddy, released in 1995, was based on the Polo, and came as a van rather than a pickup.
Final VW here was an example of the Beetle Cabrio. Like the Corrado, this was also produced by Karmann at their Osnabruck facility. Production of an open-topped Type 1 Beetle Cabriolet began in 1949. The convertible was more than a Beetle with a folding top. To compensate for the strength lost in removing the roof, the sills were reinforced with welded U-channel rails, a transverse beam was fitted below the front edge of the rear seat cushion, and the side cowl-panels below the instrument panel were double-wall. In addition, the lower corners of the door apertures had welded-in curved gussets, and the doors had secondary alignment wedges at the B-pillar. The top was cabriolet-style with a full inner headliner hiding the folding mechanism and crossbars. In between the two top layers was 1 in (25 mm) of insulation. The rear window was tempered safety glass, and after 1968, heated. Due to the thickness of the top, it remained quite tall when folded. To enable the driver to see over the lowered top, the inside rearview was mounted on an offset pivot. By twisting the mirror 180 degrees on a longitudinal axis, the mirror glass would raise approximately 2 in (5.1 cm). The convertible was generally more lavishly equipped than the sedan with dual rear ashtrays, twin map pockets, a visor vanity mirror on the passenger side, rear stone shields, and through 1969, wheel trim rings. Many of these items did not become available on other Beetles until the advent of the optional “L” (Luxus) Package of 1970. After a number of stylistic and technical alterations made to the Karmann cabriolet, corresponding to the many changes VW made to the Beetle throughout its history, the last of 331,847 cabriolets came off the production line on 10 January 1980.
This a nice example of the Volvo P1800, a sports car that was manufactured by Volvo Cars between 1961 and 1973. The car was a one-time venture by the usually sober Swedish Volvo, who already had a reputation for building sensible sedans. The project was originally started in 1957 because Volvo wanted a sports car to compete in the US and European markets, despite the fact that their previous attempt, the P1900, had failed to take off with only 68 cars sold. The man behind the project was an engineering consultant to Volvo, Helmer Petterson, who in the 1940s was responsible for the Volvo PV444. The design work was done by Helmer’s son Pelle Petterson, who worked at Pietro Frua at that time. Volvo insisted it was an Italian design by Frua and only officially recognised that it was by Pelle Petterson many years later. The Italian Carrozzeria Pietro Frua design firm (then a recently acquired subsidiary of Ghia) built the first three prototypes between September 1957 and early 1958, later designated by Volvo in September 1958: P958-X1, P958-X2 and P958-X3. In December 1957 Helmer Petterson drove X1, the first hand-built P1800 prototype to Osnabrück, West Germany, headquarters of Karmann. Petterson hoped that Karmann would be able to take on the tooling and building of the P1800. Karmann’s engineers had already been preparing working drawings from the wooden styling buck at Frua. Petterson and Volvo chief engineer Thor Berthelius met there, tested the car and discussed the construction with Karmann. They were ready to build it and this meant that the first cars could hit the market as early as December 1958. But in February, Karmann’s most important customer, Volkswagen forbade Karmann to take on the job, as they feared that the P1800 would compete with the sales of their own cars, and threatened to cancel all their contracts with Karmann if they took on this car. This setback almost caused the project to be abandoned. Other German firms, NSU, Drautz and Hanomag, were contacted but none was chosen because Volvo did not believe they met Volvo’s manufacturing quality-control standards. It began to appear that Volvo might never produce the P1800. This motivated Helmer Petterson to obtain financial backing from two financial firms with the intention of buying the components directly from Volvo and marketing the car himself. At this point Volvo had made no mention of the P1800 and the factory would not comment. Then a press release surfaced with a photo of the car, putting Volvo in a position where they had to acknowledge its existence. These events influenced the company to renew its efforts: the car was presented to the public for the first time at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1960 and Volvo turned to Jensen Motors, whose production lines were under-utilised, and they agreed a contract for 10,000 cars. The Linwood, Scotland, body plant of manufacturer Pressed Steel was in turn sub-contracted by Jensen to create the unibody shells, which were then taken by rail to be assembled at Jensen in West Bromwich, England. In September 1960, the first production P1800 left Jensen for an eager public. The engine was the B18, an 1800cc petrol engine, with dual SU carburettors, producing 100 hp. This variant (named B18B) had a higher compression ratio than the slightly less powerful twin-carb B18D used in the contemporary Amazon 122S, as well as a different camshaft. The ‘new’ B18 was actually developed from the existing B36 V8 engine used in Volvo trucks at the time. This cut production costs, as well as furnishing the P1800 with a strong engine boasting five main crankshaft bearings. The B18 was matched with the new and more robust M40 manual gearbox through 1963. From 1963 to 1972 the M41 gearbox with electrically actuated overdrive was a popular option. Two overdrive types were used, the D-Type through 1969, and the J-type through 1973. The J-type had a slightly shorter ratio of 0.797:1 as opposed to 0.756:1 for the D-type. The overdrive effectively gave the 1800 series a fifth gear, for improved fuel efficiency and decreased drivetrain wear. Cars without overdrive had a numerically lower-ratio differential, which had the interesting effect of giving them a somewhat higher top speed of just under 120 mph, than the more popular overdrive models. This was because the non-overdrive cars could reach the engine’s redline in top gear, while the overdrive-equipped cars could not, giving them a top speed of roughly 110 mph. As time progressed, Jensen had problems with quality control, so the contract was ended early after 6,000 cars had been built. In 1963 production was moved to Volvo’s Lundby Plant in Gothenburg and the car’s name was changed to 1800S (S standing for Sverige, or in English : Sweden). The engine was improved with an additional 8 hp. In 1966 the four-cylinder engine was updated to 115 PS, which meant the top speed increased to 109 mph. In 1969 the B18 engine was replaced with the 2-litre B20B variant of the B20 giving 118 bhp, though it kept the designation 1800S. For 1970 numerous changes came with the fuel-injected 1800E, which had the B20E engine with Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection and a revised camshaft, and produced 130 bhp without sacrificing fuel economy. Top speed was around 118 mph and acceleration from 0–62 took 9.5 seconds. In addition, the 1970 model was the first 1800 with four-wheel disc brakes; till then the 1800 series had front discs and rear drums. Volvo introduced its final P1800 variant, the 1800ES, in 1972 as a two-door station wagon with a frameless, all-glass tailgate. The final design was chosen after two prototypes had been built by Sergio Coggiola and Pietro Frua. Frua’s prototype, Raketen (“the Rocket”), is located in the Volvo Museum. Both Italian prototypes were considered too futuristic, and instead in-house designer Jan Wilsgaard’s proposal was accepted. The ES engine was downgraded to 125 bhp by reducing the compression ratio with a thicker head gasket (engine variant B20F); although maximum power was slightly down the engine was less “peaky” and the car’s on-the-road performance was actually improved. The ES’s rear backrest folded down to create a long flat loading area. As an alternative to the usual four-speed plus overdrive manual transmission, a Borg-Warner three-speed automatic was available in the 1800ES. With stricter American safety and emissions standards looming for 1974, Volvo did not see fit to spend the considerable amount that would be necessary to redesign the small-volume 1800 ES. Only 8,077 examples of the ES were built in its two model years. Seen here is one of the 1800S cars.
Sometimes there are quite an assembly of military vehicles, but this time the only one of its genre was this 1941 Willys Jeep.
This was a great show of a wide variety of cars, and even the chaos caused by people just jamming up the Square once the wardens arrived, and the sharp rain shower which caused those with open topped cars to have to race back to erect their roofs, did not negate the enjoyment. But there are some very real questions about the event’s future. Despite requests that people do not rev their engines, and certainly not at 8am, a couple of individuals still persist in doing so, and the few who thought they could show off power-sliding around the corner away from the Square are also likely to invite additional attentions of the authorities which could see the whole thing closed down. Even without this anti-social behaviour, whether the wardens come or not, it is clear that the event has outgrown the venue. Whether there will still be a meeting here later in the year, when my diary is next clear to attend has to remain something I would not currently put much money on. And that is a pity.