After seven years when this event was known as the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power, it was given a new name for 2016, with the title now the Cholmondeley Power and Speed. In concept, though, nothing much has changed. Held in the grounds of the the eponymous Castle, in a spectacular setting a few miles to the west of Nantwich in Cheshire, the event runs over three days in the middle of June, with attractions including a very diverse paddock of cars and bikes which can be seen parked up and in action on a testing track that snakes around the grounds, as well as rib rides and power boat displays on the lake, attractions in the air, a display of cars from over 50 Car Clubs, the latest products from a number of supporting local dealers, and a trade area offering everything from car parts to crafts and some tempting food and drink products. The event has been unluckier than most with the unpredictabilities of the British weather, with many years being beset by ceaseless rain and some very soggy conditions underfoot. The timing was changed from mid July to mid June to see if that helped, and it has made little difference, with the event rarely being bathed in the sunshine which would make all the difference. For 2016, the rain more or less stayed away, but it was resolutely grey and the ground underfoot was damp, which was a shame, even though it was thankfully firm enough to mean that the deep mud that afflicted the event a couple of years earlier was thankfully just a bad memory. Having booked Abarth Owners Club in for a display stand, I decided to make a weekend of it, largely because a good friend and I had plans for a Saturday evening in the area. Whilst we did enjoy that, returning to the site on Sunday, it quickly became apparent that there was little here that was different between the two days. The Paddock and events program was exactly the same, and even the Car Club displays did not seem very different. So one day would definitely have been enough for this event. Here’s what was on show.
IN THE PADDOCK
This is the heart of the event. A very varied collection of around 200 cars and a large number of bikes are assembled in a Paddock area which amounts to little more than covered parking, and then a couple of times in the morning and a further couple of times in the afternoon, each can be seen in action on the testing circuit around the track. This is a 1.2 mile circuit around the grounds of the Castle which includes tight turns, straw bale chicanes on the straight and a hump-back bridge which seems plenty of competitors get momentarily air-born. The vehicles are sourced from a mix of private ownership and those supplied by manufacturers and dealers, covering a wide variety of genres from historic race and rally cars to brand new super cars. There is lots of competition to set the fastest time, especially among the manufacturers, many of whom now bring not just a car and a driver but a few mechanics to ensure their cars are perfectly set up. Some of the competing vehicles were ones I have seen at this event in previous years, but there were also plenty that were making their first appearance here, some of them familiar and others sufficiently rare that I had to look at the accompanying plaque to find out what they were.
First up, alphabetically, is this glorious 8C Spider. Although I am sure there are those who would beg to differ, my contention is that car styling in the twentyfirst century has gone through a period which will not be viewed particularly positively in years to come, with a myriad of forgettable designs and more recently plenty which in trying to be distinctive are just downright ugly. There have been a few high points, though, and top of that list for me must be the Alfa 8C Competizione, a lone example of which was to be seen here. As well as the looks, this car also has noise on its side, with a sound track which must rate as one of the best of recent times. So that is two boxes ticket for me. The press saw it rather differently, and were rather critical of the car when it was new, but for me, finding plenty to fault with the way the car drove. First seen as a concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2003, the concept was conceived as a reminder for people who were perhaps slightly disillusioned with contemporary Alfa products that the company could still style something as striking in the 21st century as it had been able to do in the 1950s and 1960s. Public reaction was very positive, but Fiat Group Execs were very focused on Ferrari and Maserati and they were not entirely convinced that a car like this was appropriate as it could encroach on those brands’ territory. It was only in 2006, with new management in place that it is decided that a limited production run of just 500 cars would give the once proud marque something of a boost. Announcement of the production version, visually little different from the 2003 concept car was made at the 2006 Paris Show, and it was soon evident that Alfa could have sold far more than 500 cars To turn the concept into reality, Alfa used a shortened Maserati Quattroporte platform with a central steel section, subframes front and rear and main outer panels that were all made from carbon fibre, with the result that the complete car weighed 300 kg less than the GranTurismo. Final assembly was carried out by Maserati, with the cars being built between 2007 and 2010. Competiziones (Coupes) first, and then 500 Spiders. Just 40 of the Competizione models came to the UK. Most of them were sent to the US, so this car is exceptionally rare and is much sought after by collectors. They were fearsomely expensive when new, listing for around £150,000, but prices have never dipped far below this, so anyone who bought one, should they ever feel the need to sell it, is not going to lose money on the car.
Based on the E21 3 Series 323i, this B6 2.8 was launched in 1978. It had an upgraded 2.8 litre engine, based on the one installed in the 528i of the day, with reworked pistons combustion chambers and an increased compression ratio, which increased the available power to 197 bhp. The standard four speed gearbox was replaced by a Getrag 5 speeder. Alpina also upgraded the suspension with new Bilstein struts and there were 6″ wide 195/50 wheels on the front and 7″ 205/50 alloys on the back The brakes were also improved with ventilated drilled discs at the front. Recaro bucket seats replaced the standard items and there was a Momo steering wheel. Outside, there was a lower front spoiler and the option of the Alpina stripes. In mid 1981, the power was increased still further to 215 bhp, the same as was offered by the standard 3.5 litre BMW unit at the time. Production of the model ceased when BMW replaced the E21 with the new E30. 533 cars were built.
Another rather splendid open-topped model is this DB6 Volante. The DB6 was launched in 1965 as a replacement for the DB5. The wheelbase was now 4″ longer than before, resulting in an extensive restyle with a more raked windscreen, raised roofline and reshaped rear quarter windows. Opening front quarter lights made a reappearance, but the major change was at the rear where a Kamm tail with spoiler improved the aerodynamics, greatly enhancing stability at high speeds. “The tail lip halves the aerodynamic lift around maximum speed and brings in its train greater headroom and more luggage space”, declared Motor magazine, concluding that the DB6 was one of the finest sports cars it had tested. Famed employee, Tadek Marek, designed the six cylinder engine, which had been enlarged to 3,995cc for the preceding DB5 and remained unchanged. Power output on triple SU carburettors was 282bhp, rising to 325bhp in Vantage specification. Premiered at the 1965 London Motor Show, the DB6 Volante marked the first occasion the evocative ‘Volante’ name had been applied to a soft-top Aston Martin. After 37 Volante convertibles had been completed on the DB5 short wheelbase chassis, the model adopted the longer DB6 chassis in October 1966. A mere 140 DB6 based Volantes were manufactured, and of these only 29 were specified with the more powerful Vantage engine.
Rather more recent is this V8 Vantage N430. Based on the established car, which has been in production since 2005, the N430 is a ‘Special Edition’ inspired by Aston Martin’s rich racing pedigree to celebrate the success of its V8 Vantage GT4 race car. The ‘N’ stands for Nurburgring where the GT4 racecars have enjoyed much success and the ‘430’ refers to the power is produces – 430bhp. This is absolutely a roadgoing car with a top speed of 190mph. This particular model is fitted with the sportshift II gearbox. Built to special order, this is possibly the last one of about 50 RHD such cars to be produced.
The “Big Healey”, officially called the 3000 is popular not just as a road-going classic, but also in historic motorsport, as the car was an effective competitor when new, notching up plenty of success in rallying. Donald Healey had been producing a range of expensive sports cars from the 1940s, cars such as the Silverstone, the Abbott and the Farnham. For the 1952 London Motor Show, he produced a new design, which was called the Healey Hundred, based on Austin A90 mechanicals, which he intended to produce in-house at his small car company in Warwick. It was one of the stars of the 1952 Show, and it so impressed Leonard Lord, the Managing Director of Austin, who was looking for a replacement to the unsuccessful A90. that Lord struck a deal with Healey on the spot, to build it in quantity. Bodies made by Jensen Motors would be given Austin mechanical components at Austin’s Longbridge factory. The car was renamed the Austin-Healey 100, in reference to the fact that the car had a top speed of 100 mph. Production got under way in 1953, with Austin-Healey 100s being finished at Austin’s Longbridge plant alongside the A90 and based on fully trimmed and painted body/chassis units produced by Jensen in West Bromwich—in an arrangement the two companies previously had explored with the Austin A40 Sports. By early 1956, production was running at 200 cars a month, 150 of which were being sold in California. Between 1953 and 1956, 14,634 Austin-Healey 100s were produced, the vast majority of them, as was the case for most cars in this post war era, going for export. The car was replaced by an updated model in 1956, called the 100-6. It had a longer wheelbase, redesigned bodywork with an oval shaped grille, a fixed windscreen and two occasional seats added (which in 1958 became an option with the introduction of the two-seat BN6 produced in parallel with the 2+2 BN4), and the engine was replaced by one based on the six-cylinder BMC C-Series engine. In 1959, the engine capacity was increased from 2.6 to 2.9 litres and the car renamed the Austin-Healey 3000. Both 2-seat and 2+2 variants were offered. It continued in this form until production ceased in late 1967. The Big Healey, as the car became known after the 1958 launch of the much smaller Austin-Healey Sprite, is a popular classic now. You come across the 3000 models more frequently than the 100s, as they accounted for more than 60% of all Big Healey production.
Making another appearance was local boy, BAC, with their Mono. The Briggs Automotive Company (BAC) is a British sports car manufacturing company based in Speke, Liverpool, founded in 2009 by brothers Neill and Ian Briggs to produce specialist sports cars targeted at enthusiasts. The company’s first and so far only vehicle is the Mono, which was conceived with the objective of creating a pure driving experience with a central-seat format. The Mono, a single seater road-legal sports car, was launched in 2011, the result of a team effort with engineers from Cosworth, Hewland, Sachs, AP and Kumho Tires all partnered with designers at BAC. The Mono uses carbon fibre composite construction over a steel chassis (with FIA compliant rollover structure) inspired by the construction principles employed in DTM race cars. The nose of the vehicle provides a storage compartment and doubles as impact protection. The Mono is powered by a 2.3-litre four-cylinder Cosworth engine producing 285 bhp and 206 lb·ft a heavily modified Ford Duratec The engine is mounted longitudinally to maintain the centralised balance of the car. The car runs a F3-specification six-speed sequential gearbox developed by Hewland. This gearbox operates a semi-automatic transmission tuned to complete gear shifts in 35 milliseconds. These specifications result in a 0–62 mph time of 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 170 mph. Weight-distribution in the Mono is focused on maintaining a low centre of gravity. The system includes a fully adjustable pushrod suspension system with damping elements made by SACHS Racing. AP Racing developed the retardation and stopping ability of the car. The Mono runs on specifically designed Kumho V70A road tires. During production, each vehicle is custom-built around the purchaser’s body shape. The size of the seat, pedal reach and steering wheel position are modified in order to suit the individual’s ergonomic requirements. The Mono ran 1:14.3 at the Top Gear test track. This makes it the one of the fastest cars to go around the Top Gear track on road legal tyres. In late 2012, the BAC Mono was featured in Need for Speed: Most Wanted. The BAC Mono also appeared in GRID 2, Driveclub in 2014, and Project CARS and Forza Motorsport 6 in 2015.
Bentley replaced the 3 Litre with a more powerful car by increasing its engine displacement to 4.5 litres. As before, Bentley supplied an engine and chassis and it was up to the buyer to arrange for their new chassis to be fitted with one of a number of body styles, most of which were saloons or tourers. Very few have survived with their four-seater coachwork intact. WO Bentley had found that success in motorsport was great publicity for the brand, and he was particularly attracted to the 2 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, the inaugural running of which took place 26–27 May 1923, attracting many drivers, mostly French. There were two foreign competitors in the first race, Frank Clement and Canadian John Duff, the latter winning the 1924 competition in his personal car, a Bentley 3 Litre. This success helped Bentley sell cars, but was not repeated, so ater two years without success, Bentley convened a group of wealthy British men, “united by their love of insouciance, elegant tailoring, and a need for speed,” to renew Bentley’s success. Both drivers and mechanics, these men, later nicknamed the “Bentley Boys”, drove Bentley automobiles to victory in several races between 1927 and 1931, including four consecutive wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and forged the brands reputation. It was within this context that, in 1927, Bentley developed the Bentley 4½ Litre. Two cylinders were removed from the 6½ Litre model, reducing the displacement to 4.4 litres. At the time, the 3 Litre and the 6½ Litre were already available, but the 3 Litre was an outdated, under-powered model and the 6½ Litre’s image was tarnished by poor tyre performance. Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin, described as “the greatest British driver of his day” by W. O. Bentley, was one of the Bentley Boys. He refused to adhere strictly to Bentley’s assertion that increasing displacement is always preferable to forced induction. Birkin, aided by a former Bentley mechanic, decided to produce a series of five supercharged models for the competition at the 24 Hours of Le Mans; thus the 4½ litre Blower Bentley was born. The first supercharged Bentley had been a 3-litre FR5189 which had been supercharged at the Cricklewood factory in the winter of 1926/7. The Bentley Blower No.1 was officially presented in 1929 at the British International Motor Show at Olympia, London. The 55 copies were built to comply with 24 Hours of Le Mans regulations. Birkin arranged for the construction of the supercharged cars having received approval from Bentley chairman and majority shareholder Woolf Barnato and financing from wealthy horse racing enthusiast Dorothy Paget. Development and construction of the supercharged Bentleys was done in a workshop in Welwyn by Amherst Villiers, who also provided the superchargers. W.O. Bentley was hostile to forced induction and believed that “to supercharge a Bentley engine was to pervert its design and corrupt its performance.” However, having lost control of the company he founded to Barnato, he could not halt Birkin’s project. Although the Bentley 4½ Litre was heavy, weighing 1,625 kg (3,583 lb), and spacious, with a length of 172 in and a wheelbase of 130.0 in, it remained well-balanced and steered nimbly. The manual transmission, however, required skill, as its four gears were unsynchronised. The robustness of the 4½ Litre’s latticed chassis, made of steel and reinforced with ties, was needed to support the heavy cast iron inline-four engine. The engine was “resolutely modern” for the time. The displacement was 4,398 cc. Two SU carburettors and dual ignition with Bosch magnetos were fitted. The engine produced 110 hp for the touring model and 130 hp for the racing model. The engine speed was limited to 4,000 rpm. A single overhead camshaft actuated four valves per cylinder, inclined at 30 degrees. This was a technically advanced design at a time where most cars used only two valves per cylinder. The camshaft was driven by bevel gears on a vertical shaft at the front of the engine, as on the 3 Litre engine. The essential difference between the Bentley 4½ Litre and the Blower was the addition of a Roots-type supercharger to the Blower engine by engineer Amherst Villiers, who had also produced the supercharger. W. O. Bentley, as chief engineer of the company he had founded, refused to allow the engine to be modified to incorporate the supercharger. As a result, the supercharger was placed at the end of the crankshaft, in front of the radiator. This gave the Blower Bentley an easily recognisable appearance and also increased the car’s understeer due to the additional weight at the front. A guard protected the two carburettors located at the compressor intake. Similar protection was used, both in the 4½ Litre and the Blower, for the fuel tank at the rear, because a flying stone punctured the 3 Litre of Frank Clement and John Duff during the first 24 Hours of Le Mans, which contributed to their defeat. The crankshaft, pistons and lubrication system were special to the Blower engine. It produced 175 hp at 3,500 rpm for the touring model and 240 hp at 4,200 rpm for the racing version, which was more power than the Bentley 6½ Litre developed. Between 1927 and 1931 the Bentley 4½ Litre competed in several competitions, primarily the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The first was the Old Mother Gun at the 1927 24 Hours of Le Mans, driven as a prototype before production. Favoured to win, it instead crashed and did not finish. Its performance was sufficient for Bentley to decide to start production and deliver the first models the same year. Far from being the most powerful in the competitions, the 4½ Litre of Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin, raced neck and neck against Charles Weymann’s Stutz Blackhawk DV16, setting a new record average speed of 69 mph; Tim Birkin and Jean Chassagne finished fifth. The next year, three 4½ Litres finished second, third, and fourth behind another Bentley, the Speed Six, which possessed two more cylinders.The naturally aspirated 4½ Litre was noted for its good reliability. The supercharged models were not; the two Blower models entered in the 1930 24 Hours of Le Mans by Dorothy Paget, one of which was co-driven by Tim Birkin, did not complete the race. In 1930, Birkin finished second in the French Grand Prix at the Circuit de Pau behind a Bugatti Type 35. Ettore Bugatti, annoyed by the performance of Bentley, called the 4½ Litre the “fastest lorry in the world.” The Type 35 is much lighter and consumes much less petrol. Blower Bentleys consume 4 litres per minute at full speed. In November 1931, after selling 720 copies of the 4½ Litre – 655 naturally aspirated and 55 supercharged – in three different models (Tourer, Drophead Coupé and Sporting Four Seater, Bentley was forced to sell his company to Rolls-Royce for £125,175, a victim of the recession that hit Europe following the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
There were two examples from the Continental GT range. As well as the latest SuperSports, there was a GT3-R here. This is a limited production car, with 300 units made, including 99 for the US and 4 for Canada, based on the Continental GT V8 S coupe and inspired by the Continental GT3 race car, with 100 kg (220 lb) weight reduction, increased engine power to 580 PS and 516 lb·ft, torque vectoring for each of the rear wheels, shorter gearing, recalibrated control software, all-new titanium exhaust with 7 kg weight saving and retuned acoustics, forged 21-inch alloy wheels in gloss black, Pirelli tyres, sport-focused Electronic Stability Control programme, Carbon Silicon Carbide (CSiC) braking system (420 mm front and 356 mm rear brake discs, 8-piston front calipers in green), two-seat cabin with carbon fibre, Alcantara and leather interior upholstery; bespoke sporting seats with additional side support through deeper bolsters upholstered in Beluga black leather and diamond-quilted Alcantara, upholstered steering wheel and gear shifter, centre console and fascia panels in carbon fibre, carbon fibre door casings with diamond-quilted Alcantara inner panels, rear cabin with a carbon fibre surround and upholstered in leather and Alcantara, green hide colour on the seats, instrument panel, door panels, contrast stitching throughout the seats and diamond-quilted areas; GT3-R badging at centre console, passenger-side fascia panel, sill treadplates; GT3-R stitching at seat headrests in with contrast-green stitching, carbon fibre fixed rear wing and boot lid, bonnet with two vents, Glacier White body colour with gloss carbon fibre contrasts, two-tone green graphics tracing two power lines to the side profile of the car (one leading backwards from the front wheel, the other tracing the shape of the Continental GT’s rear haunch), headlamp bezels, matrix grille, window surrounds and bumper strips in gloss black. US models also included sequentially numbered GT3-R sill treadplates. The vehicle was unveiled at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and deliveries started late in 2014.
Final Bentley here was the new Bentyaga, the rather controversial new SUV that recently went on sale. This might be a big and heavy car, but it proved just how nimble it is when it headed out on the track.
There are large numbers of Bikes entered, again, from the familiar to the real rarities. I’m no expert on these, though I did take a few photos of some of the large number that were assembled, and present these here.
Those who are old enough will recall the epic battles in the Touring Car Championship between the E30 M3, as seen here, and the Ford Sierra Cosworth that had us on the edge of our seats for lap after lap. Although it may be less obvious now, the original M3 was developed very much as a homologation special to allow BMW to compete at this level. Its status as a legendary road car was very much secondary to its racing exploits at the time.
The 1956 Chapman Mercury III (CMIII) was built by a self-taught mechanic almost 60 years ago. It was taking part here driven by Oliver Tomlin, the grandson of its original creator and driver. The CMIII was built by motor racing enthusiast Phil Chapman. He longed for a car he could both drive on the road and race at weekends, but as he couldn’t afford the price tag of a performance car, he decided to build his own. Working with minimal tools and facilities, Phil designed and made the first incarnation of the Mercury – CMI – in a corrugated-iron shed in the late 1940s. CMIII was the third incarnation of Phil’s dream, designed from the inside out, starting with sketches of the chassis in chalk on the garage floor. From there, Phil cut and welded the tubing and built the fibreglass mould for the body, no mean feat in the early fifties! The finished CMIII was a resounding success and allowed Phil to realise his dream of competing in hill climbs and sprints throughout the late fifties and early sixties. He won numerous awards and raced at the original Chateau Impney sprint events. Phil ran CMIII until 1964, when he reluctantly sold it to fund his next project, having dreamed up a new car – the CMIV – with his own four-wheel-drive system. Phil bought back the CMIII, in the late 1970s, rebuilt it and returned to hill climbing. This time he shared competitions with his daughter, Oliver’s mother, Sandra Tomlin, who had caught the hill climb bug from accompanying her father to events as a child. Sandra graduated to driving single-seater hill climb cars and held numerous ladies’ records, including at Wiscombe, Gurston, Prescott, Shelsley Walsh, Loton Park and Harewood, between 1999 and 2014. As Phil grew older, he decided to withdraw from the sport altogether and loaned the car to the next generation of the family – his grandson, Oliver. Phil died in 2011, but his competitive genes and the car have continued to thrive. Today his daughter Sandra, and her children Oliver, 39, and Amy, 36, regularly compete at hill climb events across the country, with Oliver proudly driving his grandfather’s Chapman Mercury III.
Perhaps the most distinctive looking Cooper here was this 1954 T23. This was based on the earlier Cooper T20, which was produced at the beginning of 1952 and was powered by a L6 Bristol engine. The Bristol engine had been chosen because it was viewed as the best available 2-litre unit at the time. The manufacturer, Bristol Aeroplane Company based the six-cylinder engine’s design on the pre-war BMW 328. The engine displaced 1971cc with hover-head valves actuated by cross-pushrods. In standard guise it produced nearly 130 horsepower, which was about 40 horsepower less than the competition. The engine was lacking in power in comparison to its competition. Cooper chose to continue with the engine due to its availability, reliability, and parts were in abundance. To compensate for its lack of power, Cooper devised an uncomplicated and lightweight chassis. The resulting car was the Cooper T20, also known as the Cooper-Bristol Mark I (MKI). A prototpye was debuted to the public at Hollyfield Road in early 1952. The car was given a four-speed manual gearbox and a traditional Cooper suspension. The suspension included tranverse leaves and tubular wishbones. The chassis had been inspired by the Mark V 500 and featured a box-section chassis with holes drilled into the frame to reduce the overall weight. The steering was by rack-and-pinon with a 1.75 turns lock-to-lock. Located on all four corners were Cooper magnesium cast-type that measured 10-inches in diameter. The prototype car was sold to Archie Bryde. Bob Chase purchase a T20 and it was raced by Mike Hawthorn who had much success with the car. At the Belgian Grand Prix, it was driven to a spectacular fourth place finish. Late, a third place finish in the British Grand Prix was achieved. A fourth at the Dutch Grand Prix earned him a fourth place finish in the World Championship. Hawthorn drove the car to a victory at the Lavant Cup where he was chased by two other Cooper-Bristols. Another victory was scored at the Formule Libre Chichester Cup. Mike Hawthorn’s career would continue with much success. The T20 had paved the way for this aspiring driver. The Cooper-Bristol T20 often outclassed the more powerful cars, though they had trouble beating the Ferrari’s. It was Cooper’s first Formula 2 car and was replaced in 1953 by the T23, also known as the Cooper Bristol MKII. The T23 had many improvements, such as a lighter tubular frame and larger brakes. The drum brakes of the MKI had been one of the vehicles achilles heal. The MKII’s were given 11-inch Alfin light-alloy drums. The body was slightly redesigned, making it smoother and more aerodynamic. Powered by Bristol engines, the car failed to score any championship points during the 1953 season. At the conclusion of the 1953 season, the cars were raced in Formula Libre classes, by such memorable names as Australia’s Jack Brabham. During the very early 1950s, Cooper had built a reputation by dominating the Formula 3 class. This had been a profitable venture and the company had wanted to diversify by moving into the Formula 2 class. Their customers had been asking for a Formula 2 car in which they could continue to climb the racing class ladder. Thus, the creation of the Formula 2 Cooper T20 MKI’s. The car had proved capable, but more was required to become a serious contender. Hawthorn joined with Maranello in 1953, competing in F1 competition under the Ferrari banner. His career would continue for several years, mostly at the wheel for Ferrari’s and Maserati’s. Coopers next iteration of the T20 was the Mark II, T23. All, but one, of the cars were powered by Bristol engines, still with the engine being placed in the front. One example was given a BRG Alta engine and owned by Peter Whitehead and driven by Moss. One of the factory drivers was Britshman, John Barber. He traveled to Argentina at the start of the 1953 F1 season to compete with his Cooper T23. He managed an eighth place finish, seven laps down from the victor. Cruz Schwelm entered an MKI, but it retired prematurely due to mechanical problems. Alan Brown and Cruz Schwelm retired in the Buenos Aires City Libre GP, and Barber managed an 11th place finish in the Mark II. At the close of the season, Gerard and Moss had managed some victories in minor events. The Cooper MKI and MKII models continue to race, with some being converted to sports racing cars. Some of the cars had success in the Formula Libre class and in Formula 1, though with larger engines and improvements throughout the vehicle. The 1953 World Championship season had run under Formula 2 regulations. At the close of the season, the regulations changed to 2.5-litres in natural aspirated. Cooper decided to focus on Formula 3, unveiling the newest contender, the Mark VIII 500 in October. The ‘curved-tube’ concept was unveiled to the public where its streamlined body was hailed as the sleekest Cooper to-date.
There were another couple of Cooper models here, a 1952 Mark VI and a 1957 T43.
There were a couple of examples of the sporting 135M here, dating from 1936 and 1937. The Delahaye 135, also known as “Coupe des Alpes” after its success in the Alpine Rally, was first presented in 1935 and signified Delahaye’s decision to build sportier cars than before. The 3.2-litre overhead valve straight-six with four-bearing crankshaft was derived from one of Delahaye’s truck engines and was also used in the more sedate, longer wheelbase (124 in) Delahaye 138. Power was 95 hp in twin carburettor form, but 110 hp were available in a version with three downdraught Solex carbs, offering a 148 km/h (92 mph) top speed. The 138 had a single carburettor and 76 hp, and was available in a sportier 90 hp iteration. The 135 featured independent, leaf-sprung front suspension, a live rear axle, and cable operated Bendix brakes. 17-inch spoked wheels were also standard. Transmission was either a partially synchronised four-speed manual or four-speed Cotal pre-selector transmission. Competition 135s set the all-time record at the Ulster Tourist Trophy and placed second and third in the Mille Miglia in 1936, and the 1938 24 Hours of Le Mans.The list of independent body suppliers offering to clothe the 135 chassis is the list of France’s top coachbuilders of the time, including Figoni & Falaschi, Letourneur et Marchand, Guilloré, Marcel Pourtout, Frères Dubois, J Saoutchik, Franay, Antem and Henri Chapron. Production of the 3.2-litre version ended with the German occupation in 1940 and was not taken up again after the end of hostilities. A larger-displacement (3,557 cc) 135M was introduced in 1936. Largely the same as the regular 135, the new engine offered 90, 105, or 115 hp with either one, two, or three carburettors. As with the 135/138, a less sporty, longer wheelbase version was also built, called the “148”. The 148 had a 3,150 mm wheelbase, or 3,350 mm in a seven-seater version. On the two shorter wheelbases, a 134N was also available, with a 2,150 cc four-cylinder version of the 3.2-litre six from the 135. Along with a brief return of the 134, production of 148, 135M, and 135MS models was resumed after the end of the war. The 135 and 148 were then joined by the larger engined 175, 178, and 180 derivatives. The 135M continued to be available alongside the newer 235 until the demise of Delahaye in 1954. An even sportier version, the 135MS, soon followed; 120–145 hp were available, with competition versions offering over 160 hp. The 135MS was the version most commonly seen in competition, and continued to be available until 1954, when new owners Hotchkiss finally called a halt. The MS had the 2.95 m wheelbase, but competition models sat on a shortened 2.70 m chassis. The 135 was successful as racing car during the late 1930s, winning the Monte Carlo rally 1937 and 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1938. The Le Mans victory, with Chaboud and Trémoulet at the wheel, was decisive, with two more Delahayes coming in second and fourth. A regular 135 came seventh at the 1935 Le Mans, and in 1937 135MS came in second and third. Appearing again in 1939, two 135MS made it to sixth and eighth place, and again after the war the now venerable 135MS finished in 5th, 9th, and 10th. 135s finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 11th and 12th in the 1936 French Sports Car Grand Prix at Montlhéry. John Crouch won the 1949 Australian Grand Prix driving a 135MS.
Oldest of the Ferrari models here was a 365 GTB/4, better known as the Daytona. First seen at the 1968 Paris Motor Show, the 365 GTB/4 was the last of the classic front engined V12 Ferrari models. Almost immediately the 365 GTB/4 gained its ‘Daytona’ moniker from Ferrari’s 1-2-3 result in the 1967 24-hour race of the same name. The Daytona’s engine and handling certainly didn’t undermine its racing nomenclature. The 4.4-litre, 4-cam V12 produced an astonishing 352bhp and, despite its 1,633kg bulk, the Daytona was billed as the fastest road car in the world. Not only was 174mph more than brisk, but crucially, it was faster than the Miura. The 5-speed gearbox was mounted at the rear for a more optimal weight distribution, and helped give the Daytona its predictable handling and solid road-holding. Like so many Ferraris of the period, the Daytona’s beautiful bodywork was designed by Pininfarina with the car built by Scaglietti. The delicate front was cleanly cut with both pop-up and Plexiglas headlight varieties. The rear slope was suggestively rakish and a Kamm tail provided further clues as to the performance of the car. The wheel arch flares, although elegant in proportion, are the only real overt notion that this car has significant pace, until you drive one! A number of them had their roof removed in the 1980s when people wanted the far rarer GTS Spider version, but values of the cars are such now that I would hope no-one would even contemplate such an act of sacrilege again! Along with 123 “official” open-topped GTS cars, 1284 Daytona models were produced.
A few years its junior was this 308 GTB. Although this looks very much like a road car, it is in fact a Group B Rally version. Introduced at the Paris Salon in 1975, the beautiful 308GTB – Ferrari’s second V8-engined road car – marked a welcome return to Pininfarina styling following the Bertone-designed Dino 308GT4. Badged as a ‘proper’ Ferrari rather than a Dino, the newcomer had changed little mechanically apart from a reduction in wheelbase, retaining its predecessor’s underpinnings and transversely mounted 3.0-litre V8 engine that now featured dry-sump lubrication. In road tune this superbly engineered power unit produced 255bhp, an output good enough to propel the car to a top speed of 150mph. Produced initially with vetroresina (glassfibre) bodywork – the first time this material had been used for a production Ferrari – the Scaglietti-built 308 used steel exclusively after April 1977. The first steel bodied cars were manufactured in 1976, the change bringing with it a considerable weight penalty (of around 150kg) and consequent reduction in performance. The 308GTB was clearly intended for the road, so it must have been surprising when Ferrari debuted an experimental 308 race car a year later. Eventually known as the Group 4, these made-to-order 308s contested the top level of motorsports and won events like the 1981 Targa Florio. Since Ferrari was focused on F1, the racing department known as Reparto Corse was too busy to focus on the 308. Instead, the prototype was made at Assistenza Clienti under Gaetano Florini. His intention was to make a 308 for the Group 4 category that could contest international events like the Targa Florio and LeMans. This was motivated by a NART-prepared 308 GT4 which ran the 1974 and 75 LeMans. In the beginning of 1976, Ferrari homologated their 308 test car (chassis 22711) and began initial tests around Fiorano. This car was intended to be capable of races like LeMans, but never raced probably due to Fiat’s restrictions on Ferrari. Ferrari initially called their new car the Versione Sport and offered the engine upgrades to potential race teams. Not long after after, Ferrari changed their minds and decided to outsource manufacturing of the car to Giuliano Michelotto who had prepared the successful Lancia Stratos out of his Padova-based facility. Stripped-down tubs were delivered straight to Michelotto and Ferrari helped them further develop the 308 Group 4 program. Subcontracting the project to Michelotto helped teams like Charles Pozzi take the 308 into World Rally without protest from Fiat who restricted Ferrari to F1 development. The new racer took advantage of the 308’s mid-engine layout, Fibreglass body and double wishbone independent suspension. The Tipo F106 V8 was upgraded substantially to ‘A21’ specification. This included a mechanical fuel injection system by Kugelfischer and 10.5:1 high-compression pistons to produce 315bhp at 8000 rpm. Furthermore, a dry-sump lubrication system was fitted with supplementary 8-litre oil tank as well as lighter aluminium-alloy cylinder heads and crankcase. Attached to the new engine was a close-ratio gearbox with greatly improved acceleration. An 80/20 limited-slip differential was fitted to power the rear wheels. Stopping power was provided by double-circuit Lockheed brakes having 21 in (305 mm) ventilated discs and four piston calipers. As with most rally cars, a rear wheel handbrake was also fitted. Outwardly, the body was reshaped to include flared wheel arches that could cover the new 5-Spoke Campagnolo wheels and tires. Some parts of the body were also made from Kevlar and thin fiberglass to reduce weight. Inside, the cabin was spartan with a flat dashboard, integral roll cage and bucket seats. The first production 308 GTB Group 4s were completed in 1978 as Michelotto’s first Ferrari. The first, chassis 20951, debuted at the 1978 Targa Florio, but failed to finish. That year it would run into a string of DNFs which was saved by the First important victory by by ‘Lele’ Pinto at the Rallye del Monza. Over the next couple years nine more 308s were delivered from 1980 to 1983, made from both new and used cars. In 1981, Andruet and co-driver Tilber took the overall victory at the Targa Florio on 13th March, 1981 in chassis 19051. 11 of these cars were built. After 1983, 308s were prepared for Group B rally racing with a new set of specifications. It is thought that fewer than half a dozen of the Group B 308s were built by Michelotto in Italy, while in the UK, rally driver and sports car specialist Tony Worswick developed his own version, and that is the one seen here.
There was also a road-going 308 GTSi here.
Next up was a 360 Challenge Stradale. This was a production track day focused car based on the 360 Modena. From a handling and braking performance perspective was the equivalent of adding a FHP (Fiorano Handling Pack) to the 360, which was available for V12 models such as the 550, 575 or F599 but never separately for the V8’s. It was inspired by the 360 Modena Challenge racing car series so the focus was primarily on improving its track lapping performance credentials by concentrating on handling, braking and weight reduction characteristics, which are essential in pure racing cars. Ferrari engineers designed the car from the outset with a goal of 20% track day use in mind and 80% road use. With only a small 20 bhp improvement in engine power from the Modena (and boasting an improved power-to-weight ratio) the Challenge Stradale accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.1 seconds according to Ferrari, four tenths faster than a Modena, but bald figures do not paint the full picture. For the enthusiastic driver the differences are truly staggering; genuine systematic improvements were achieved to the setup and feel of the whole car. Throttle response from the digital throttle was ratcheted up and feedback through the steering wheel was enhanced. The responsiveness of the controls, the balance of the chassis, the braking performance and the driver feedback all contribute greatly to the overall driving experience. Thanks to CCM brakes borrowed from the Enzo, some lower weight parts and a FHP handling pack, the Challenge Stradale was able to claim an impressive 3.5 seconds improvement per lap of its Fiorano circuit compared to the Modena (the target was 2.5 seconds). In total, the Challenge Stradale is up to 110 kg (243 lb) lighter than the standard Modena if all the lightweight options are specified such as deleted radio, lexan (plexiglass) door window and Alcantara fabric (instead of the leather option). As much as 74 kilograms (207 lb) was taken off on the car by lightening the bumpers, stripping the interior of its sound deadening and carbon mirrors and making the optional Modena carbon seats standard. Resin Transfer Moulding was utilized for the bumpers and skirts, a carry over from the Challenge cars which resulted in lighter bumpers than on the Modena. The engine and transmission weight was slimmed down 11 kg (24 lb) through the use of a smaller, lighter weight sports (yet still stainless steel) exhaust back box and valved exit pipes. The Challenge Stradale also got Brembo carbon ceramic brakes as standard (which later became standard fitment on the F430) which shaved 16 kg off the curb weight and improved handling by reducing unsprung weight and completely eliminating brake fade. Cars fitted with the centre console stereo option, sub speaker box behind the seats and glass side windows re-gained approximately 30 kg over the best selected options (from a weight perspective). Challenge Stradale models are much sought after these days, and when they do come up for sale, they command a huge premium over the regular 360 Modena cars.
There is just one example of the FXX which is road-legal, and this is it. Revealed in 2005, the FXX used some technology developed from the Enzo Ferrari, and combined it with some new developments from Ferrari and its suppliers. An evolution of the Enzo, in essence, the FXX shares some components with the original car, but numerous, significant developments are unique to the FXX. The FXX’s engine was based on the Enzo’s, but displacement was increased to 6,262 cc from 5,998 cc. The output was boosted from the Enzo’s 670 PS to 820 PS at 8,500 rpm. The gearbox incorporated the latest developments from Ferrari’s F1 program and has a shift time of under 100 ms. The brake pads were also upgraded from the Enzo. It did, however, retain the Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite discs found on the Enzo. The tyres are custom-developed 19″ slicks. The FXX features comprehensive data-monitoring and telemetry that not only allows the driver to improve performance, but also provides Ferrari technicians with valuable data to improve the FXX and future road-going Ferraris. The model was only sold in Europe. Units could be imported, but not owned, in any other continent. 30 of them were built, with one special edition added to the 29 that were originally planned. Those original 29 were all sold to pre-selected past Ferrari customers. The 30th was retained by Ferrari S.p.A. and presented to Ferrari’s F1 World Champion driver, Michael Schumacher, when he retired from Formula One racing at the end of 2006. Schumacher’s FXX differs from others in being black without a stripe, having red trimmed wheels, matte rather than chrome exhaust tips, and his personal logo stitched on the racing seats. However, “acquiring” an FXX was only a part of the overall program. The FXX Evolution package was reported to cost 1.5 million euros (excluding taxes) including the car, the crew and the services provided by Ferrari, and this only allowed them to drive the car on special track days, approved by Ferrari. As part of the FXX programme, the car is maintained by the Ferrari factory, and FXX owners also participate in Ferrari’s testing and brand development programs as well as being entitled to be briefed by Ferrari on the car’s performance after every drive. The purpose of this particular program was to allow Ferrari’s top customers exclusive access to its most up-to-date technology and to utilise their input in the development of future models. Ferrari’s sister company, Maserati, developed a similar car, the MC12 Corsa. It is suspected that one reason Ferrari so closely guarded the FXX at launch was due to the car incorporating various advanced technology from Ferrari’s F1 team that the company did not want being inadvertently released to rivals.
Making another appearance here, having attended in 2014 and 2015, this might look a bit like a classic Nuova 500 but there is not much about Ian Medcalf’s car which is very like the way it originally left the factory. It was at this event in 2014 as well, when I learned that it had a tuned BMC A Series engine to power it. During the winter of 2014/15, the engine was uprated again to give the car even more power.
This is not actually a “real” Ford GT40, but rather one of the (many) recreations. Technically, it is called a GTD40, and it was built by gentleman racer, the late Tony Marsh, six times British National Hill Climb Champion. This GTD40 has a custom-built chassis around the engine and Hewland gearbox from Tony Marsh’s multi event winning F2/Sprint/Hill Climb Car. It is powered by a twin turbo charged 4550cc Rovercraft V8 developed to produce over 600bhp.
The latest Civic Type R is a welcome return to the hot hatch market for Honda, something that enthusiasts have been waiting for ever since the last model ceased production.
Although bearing a family resemblance to the earlier XK120 and XK140, the XK150, launched in the spring of 1957, was radically revised. A one-piece windscreen replaced the split screen, and the wing line no longer dropped so deeply at the doors. The widened bonnet opened down to the wings, and on the Roadster the windscreen frame was moved back 4 inches to make the bonnet longer. The XK140’s walnut dashboard was replaced by one trimmed in leather. On the early Drophead Coupés, the aluminium centre dash panel, which was discontinued after June 1958, had an X pattern engraving similar to the early 3.8 E-Type. Thinner doors gave more interior space. On the front parking lights, which were located atop the wings, a little red light reminded the driver the lights were on. Suspension and chassis were very similar to the XK140, and steering was by rack and pinion; power steering was not offered. The standard engine, the similar to the XK140, but with an new “B” type cylinder head, was the 3.4 litre DOHC Jaguar straight-6 rated at 180 SAE bhp at 5750 rpm but most cars were fitted with the SE engine whose modified cylinder head (B type) and larger exhaust valves boosted the power to 210 SAE bhp at 5500 rpm. Twin 1.75-inch (44 mm) SU HD6 carburettors were fitted. While the first XK150s were slower than their predecessors, the deficit was corrected in the spring of 1958 with a 3.4-litre “S” engine whose three 2-inch SU HD8 carburettors and straight-port cylinder head increased power to a claimed 250 SAE bhp. For 1960, the 3.4 litre engine was bored to 3.8 litres, rating this option at 220 hp in standard tune or 265 hp in “S” form. A 3.8 litre 150S could top 135 mph and go from 0–60 mph in around 7.0 seconds. Fuel economy was 18 mpg. Four-wheel Dunlop 12 in disc brakes appeared for the first time although it was theoretically possible to order a car with drums. When leaving the factory the car originally fitted either 6.00 × 16 inch Dunlop Road Speed tyres as standard, or you could specify 185VR16 Pirelli Cinturato CA67 as a radial option on either 16 × 5K½ solid wheels (basic models) or 16 × 5K wire wheels. Production ended in October 1960, and totalled 2265 Roadsters, 4445 Fixed Head Coupés and 2672 Drophead Coupés. Seen here was a rather nice XK150S Drophead Convertible.
There were a couple of models from the current catalogue that were taking part, too: the brand new F-Pace, which is only just going on sale as well as the now familiar F Type.
An enduring classic that has far more appeal now than when it was new (not an uncommon story) is the Jensen Interceptor, launched as a replacement for the rather gawky looking CV8 of the early 1960s. After a false start when a car with the same name was shown in 1965, which received a massive “thumbs down”, Jensen went to Italy to find a new stylist for another attempt. They ended up with Carozzeria Touring, who produced a stunning looking grand tourer which, although sharing some styling cues with other models that they had designed, had a style all of its own, and they then approached another, Vignale, to build the bodies before they would be shipped back to West Bromwich for final assembly. As with the CV8, motive power came from a large Chrysler V8 engine, which gave the car effortless performance, and a somewhat prodigious thirst. The original specification included electric windows, reclining front seats, a wood rimmed steering wheel, radio with twin speakers, reversing lights and an electric clock. Power steering was included as standard from September 1968. The Mark II was announced in October 1969, with slightly revised styling around the headlamps, front grille and bumper and revised rear lights. The interior was substantially revised in order to meet US regulations, and air conditioning was an option. The Mark III, introduced in 1971, revised the front grille, headlamp finishers and bumper treatment again. It had GKN alloy wheels and air conditioning as standard, and revised seats. It was divided into G-, H-, and J-series depending on the production year. The 6.3 litre engine was superseded by the 7.2 litre in 1971. A Convertible version was premiered in 1974,. but just 267 were built, and then in 1975 a Coupe model was shown, effectively a fixed roof version of the Convertible, just 60 of which were made as by this time, the company had fallen on hard times due to the then world-wide recession, and massive and costly reliability problems with its Jensen-Healey sports car. It was placed into receivership and the receivers allowed production to be wrapped up using the available cache of parts. Production of the Interceptor ended in 1976. Enthusiasm for the car remained, though, so in the late 1980s, a group of investors stepped in and re-launched production of the Interceptor, as the Series 4, back as a low-volume hand built and bespoke affair, marketed in a similar way to Bristol, with a price (£70,000 and more) to match. Though the body remained essentially the same as the last of the main production run of series 3; the engine was a much smaller Chrysler supplied 5.9 litre unit which used more modern controls to reduce emissions comparatively and still produce about 230 hp. In addition, the interior was slightly re-designed with the addition of modern “sports” front seats as opposed to the armchair style of the earlier models, as well as a revised dashboard and electronics. The then owner sold up in 1990 to an engineering company believed to be in a stronger position to manufacture the car which lasted until 1993 with approximately 36 cars built, and while work commenced on development of a Series 5 Interceptor, once again receivers were called in and the company was liquidated. Even that was not quite the end of the story, as the Jensen specialist based at Cropredy Bridge has made a business out of rebuilding original Interceptors using modern components, with a General Motors supplied 6.2 litre LS3 engine and transmission from a Chevrolet Corvette. In May 2010, Jensen International Automotive was set up, with the financial backing and know-how of Carphone Warehouse founder and chairman Charles Dunstone who joined its board of directors. A small number of Jensen Interceptor Ss, which had started production under a previous company, are being completed by Jensen International Automotive (JIA), in parallel with JIA’s own production of the new Jensen Interceptor R; deliveries of the latter started at the beginning of 2011.
This a K-1 Attack Roadster, a sports car built by the Slovak car company K-1 Engineering. The cars were manufactured by hand in Bratislava. Attack was officially launched in May 2002,but was in development since 1999. The car was originally made for racing, developed by Engineer Dick Kvetnansky and designed by Juraj Mitra and was completed in 2000. The car was built initially as a race car, upon seeing the demand as a road car the car was made available as a kit car using the 90-93 Honda Accord as the donor car. Small modifications could be made to accommodate the H22 engine from the Honda Prelude as well. In May 2002, K-1 Engineering presented the Attack Roadster at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Powered by a 3.0 litre Ford Mondeo ST220 V6 engine, producing 242 PS at 7000 rpm, mated to a 6-speed manual transmission gearbox. The Attack could accelerate to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 5.2 seconds. Top speed was electronically limited to 155.4 mph (250 km/h). In 2003 a K-1 Attack was donated by Mr. Dick Kvetnansky to a development team of high school students in the west Philadelphia Learning Academy and was the only Attack with a full carbon fibre body. The team of students was led by the Engineer-teacher Simon Hauger, their ultimate goal was to build “The World’s first Hybrid Supercar”. In 2004, the project was completed and won an International fuel efficiency competition in 2005, beating out Billion dollar car manufacturers like Honda, Toyota and even Tesla. In 2006 it again competed and won, sweeping the competition. The car was capable of a 0 – 60 mile time in 3.5 seconds, and gave a mileage up to 68 miles per gallon. The rear wheels of the car were powered by a Volkswagen GTI Diesel engine that was modified to run on soy bean oil and there were plans to power the front wheels by an AC Propulsion electric motor and then later by an Azure motor but this was never completed. The car was not only super-fast and economical, but was also eco-friendly (pollution free), thereby achieving its goal. According to the fuel efficiency competition, the car was given a wide media coverage by TV channels like the Discovery Channel, ABC, NBC, CABLE TV, and various car magazines. The car is now located in Beverly Hills and owned by Prince Fuad Abdallah Haboud Camanero Faresi. In 2008, a K-1 Attack was modified by car racer Alojosa Tushek from Slovenia, who got the body modified by Oliver Ashley he also added a luxury interior and an Audi 4.2 litre V8 engine from the Audi RS series delivering 450HP at 7900 rpm and 315 lb-ft of torque at just 3,200 rpm. Tushek called it the “Renovatio T500 Tushek”. It first debuted at the Top Marques Monaco in April 2012 and then at the Salon Prive, UK in September of 2012. There was also a production version by Ford, available only in Europe. Somewhere between 20 and 40 were produced and exported to the United States by K-1 Engineering before production ceased. The kit was plagued by poor support, lack of assembly instructions and an extremely difficult build process due to ill conceived design aspects. In 2011 B-Racing was born and gained the rights and tooling to begin manufacturing again. Since then countless improvements, refinements and available upgrades have been made including several options for using different donor cars. Pricing has also dropped from the original $20K to less than $10K making the kit very affordable.
This is a Lagonda Rapier, a small car produced by the British Lagonda company from 1934 to 1935. A few more were subsequently produced by the independent Rapier Car Company. At the heart of the car was an all new 1104 cc twin overhead camshaft four-cylinder engine. The design of this was done by a consultant Thomas Ashcroft (known as Tim) with the brief of producing “Britain’s finest 1100 cc engine”. The engine was originally intended to be cast in light alloy but to save cost it was eventually made in cast iron using the original patterns making it rather heavy. It did, however, produce 50 bhp at 5400 rpm, a very good output for the time. Production of the engine was sub-contracted to Coventry Climax. The chassis was designed by Charles King and consisted of steel sections bolted together. The engine was connected to a four-speed preselector gearbox with right-hand change lever and the Girling system rod operated brakes had large 13 in (330 mm) drums. Half-elliptic springs provided the suspension controlled by friction dampers. Although the original car as shown at the 1933 London Motor Show had a wheelbase of 90.75 in (2,305 mm), in order to cater for a wider range of bodies, production cars from 1934 had this extended by 8 in to 98.75 in The factory supplied the running chassis for £270 to customers who could then select their own coachwork. Most cars had bodies by E. D. Abbott Ltd of Farnham, Surrey. A complete car with Abbott four-seat tourer body sold for £368. Other suppliers of coachwork included John Charles, Maltby and E J Newns who made around 12, subsequently known as Eagles. The engine was just too large for use in the popular 1100 cc class so a few cars were made with 1084 cc engines. In 1935 the Lagonda company failed and was bought by Alan Good who reformed it as LG Motors (Staines) Ltd. As part of the general upheaval the rights to make the Rapier were sold to a new company Rapier Cars Ltd of Hammersmith Road, London, a premises previously used by Lagonda as their London service centre. The intention was now to sell the car complete with body and a design was produced by Ranalah. A four-seat tourer was priced at £375. Production continued until 1938 but only 46 cars were made.
Which small boy (and perhaps car loving girl) did not lust after a Countach back in the 1970s and 1980s. A dramatic looking car, this was the stuff of dreams that you would only ever see at the London or NEC Motor Shows. Countach first made an appearance, as a concept in 1971, but it was 1973 before the production car made its debut, and despite unfortunate timing with fuel shortages and a recession, and a number of financial problems for its maker, the car sold well throughout its production life. The Countach entered production as the LP400 with a 3929 cc engine delivering 370 hp. The first production Countach was delivered to an Australian in 1974. Externally, little had altered from the final form of the prototype except at the rear, where conventional lights replaced the futuristic light clusters of the prototype. The styling had become rather more aggressive than Gandini’s original conception, with the required large air scoops and vents to keep the car from overheating, but the overall shape was still very sleek. The original LP400 rode on the quite narrow tyres of the time, but their narrowness and the slick styling meant that this version had the lowest drag coefficient of any Countach model. The emblems at the rear simply read “Lamborghini” and “Countach”, with no engine displacement or valve arrangement markings as is found on later cars. By the end of 1977, the company had produced 158 Countach LP400s. In 1978, a new LP400 S model was introduced. Though the engine was slightly downgraded from the LP400 model (350 bhp), the most radical changes were in the exterior, where the tyres were replaced with 345/35R15 Pirelli P7 tyres; the widest tyres available on a production car at the time, and fibreglass wheel arch extensions were added, giving the car the fundamental look it kept until the end of its production run. An optional V-shaped spoiler was available over the rear deck, which, while improving high-speed stability, reduced the top speed by at least 16 km/h (10 mph). Most owners ordered the wing. The LP400 S handling was improved by the wider tires, which made the car more stable in cornering. Aesthetically, some prefer the slick lines of the original, while others prefer the more aggressive lines of the later models, beginning with the LP400 S. The standard emblems (“Lamborghini” and “Countach”) were kept at the rear, but an angular “S” emblem was added after the “Countach” on the right side. 1982 saw another improvement, this time giving a bigger, more powerful 4754 cc engine. The bodywork was unaltered, however the interior was given a refresh. This version of the car is sometimes called the 5000 S, which may cause confusion with the later 5000 QV. 321 of these cars were built. Two prototypes of the 1984 Countach Turbo S were built by Lamborghini, of which one is known to exist. The Turbo S weighed 1,515 kg (3,340 lb), while its 4.8 litre twin-turbo V12 had a claimed maximum power output of 758 PS and a torque output of 876 N·m (646 lb·ft), giving the car an acceleration of 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 335 km/h (208 mph). A turbo adjuster, located beneath the steering wheel, could be used to adjust the boost pressure from 0.7 bar to 1.5 bar at which the engine performed its maximum power output. The Turbo S has 15″ wheels with 255/45 tyres on the front and 345/35 on the rear. In 1985 the engine design evolved again, as it was bored and stroked to 5167 cc and given four valves per cylinder—quattrovalvole in Italian, hence the model’s name, Countach 5000 Quattrovalvole or 5000 QV in short. The carburettors were moved from the sides to the top of the engine for better breathing—unfortunately this created a hump on the engine deck, reducing the already poor rear visibility to almost nothing. Some body panels were also replaced by Kevlar. In later versions of the engine, the carburettors were replaced with fuel injection. Although this change was the most notable on the exterior, the most prominent change under the engine cover was the introduction of fuel injection, with the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, providing 414 bhp, rather than the six Weber carburettors providing 455 bhp. As for other markets, 1987 and 1988 model Quattrovalvoles received straked sideskirts. 610 cars were built. There was one model here and a couple elsewhere in the event in the Supercar display.
There was just one Lancia here, an example of the iconic Stratos on show. A Bertone-designed concept car called the Lancia Stratos Zero was shown to the public in 1970, but shares little but the name and mid-engined layout with the Stratos HF version. A new car called the New Stratos was announced in 2010 which was heavily influenced by the design of the original Stratos, but was based on a Ferrari chassis and engine. Bertone had no previous business with Lancia, who were traditionally linked with Pininfarina, and he wanted to come into conversation with them. Bertone knew that Lancia was looking for a replacement for the ageing Fulvia for use in rally sports and so he designed an eye-catcher to show to Lancia. Bertone used the running gear of the Fulvia Coupé of one of his personal friends and built a running showpiece around it. When Bertone himself appeared at the Lancia factory gates with the Stratos Zero he passed underneath the barrier and got great applause from the Lancia workers. After that a co-operation between Lancia and Bertone was formed to develop a new rally car based on ideas of Bertone’s designer Marcello Gandini who already had designed the Lamborghini Miura and Countach. Lancia presented the Bertone-designed Lancia Stratos HF prototype at the 1971 Turin Motor Show, a year after the announcement of the Stratos Zero concept car. The prototype Stratos HF (Chassis 1240) was fluorescent red in colour and featured a distinctive crescent-shaped-wrap-around windshield providing maximum forward visibility with almost no rear visibility. The prototype had three different engines in its early development life: the Lancia Fulvia engine, the Lancia Beta engine and finally for the 1971 public announcement, the mid-mounted Dino Ferrari V6 producing 190 hp. The use of the Dino V6 was planned right from the beginning of the project, but Enzo Ferrari was reluctant to sign off the use of this engine in a car he saw as a competitor to his own Dino V6. After the production of the Dino car had ended the “Commendatore” (a popular nickname for Enzo Ferrari) agreed on delivering the engines for the Stratos, and Lancia then suddenly received 500 units. The Stratos was a very successful rally car during the 1970s and early 1980s. It started a new era in rallying as it was the first car designed from scratch for this kind of competition. The three leading men behind the entire rallying project were Lancia team manager Cesare Fiorio, British racer/engineer Mike Parkes and factory rally driver Sandro Munari with Bertone’s Designer Marcello Gandini taking a very personal interest in designing and producing the bodywork. Lancia did extensive testing with the Stratos and raced the car in several racing events where Group 5 prototypes were allowed during the 1972 and 1973 seasons. Production of the 500 cars required for homologation in Group 4 commenced in 1973 and the Stratos was homologated for the 1974 World Rally Championship season. The Ferrari Dino V6 engine was phased out in 1974, but 500 engines among the last built were delivered to Lancia. Production ended in 1975 when it was thought that only 492 were made (for the 1976 season, the Group 4 production requirement was reduced to 400 in 24 months. Manufacturer of the car was Bertone in Turin, with final assembly by Lancia at the Chivasso plant. Powered by the Dino 2.4 litreV6 engine that was also fitted to the rallying versions, but in a lower state of tune, it resulted in a power output of 190 hp, giving the road car a 0–100 km/h time of 6.8 seconds, and a top speed of 232 km/h (144 mph). The Stratos weighed between 900 and 950 kilograms, depending on configuration. Power output was around 275 hp for the original 12 valve version and 320 hp for the 24 valve version. Beginning with the 1978 season the 24 valve heads were banned from competition by a change to the FIA rules. Even with this perceived power deficit the Stratos was the car to beat in competition and when it did not suffer an accident or premature transmission failure (of the latter there were many) it had great chances to win. Despite the fact that the Stratos was never intended to be a race car, there were two Group 5 racing cars built with 560 hp, using a single KKK turbocharger. The car won the 1974, 1975 and 1976 championship titles in the hands of Sandro Munari and Björn Waldegård, and might have gone on to win more had not internal politics within the Fiat group placed rallying responsibility on the Fiat 131 Abarths. As well as victories on the 1975, 1976 and 1977 Monte Carlo Rally, all courtesy of Munari, the Stratos won the event with the private Chardonnet Team as late as 1979. Without support from Fiat, and despite new regulations that restricted engine power, the car would remain a serious competitor and proved able to beat works cars in several occasions when entered by an experienced private team with a talented driver. The last victory of the Stratos was in 1981, at the Tour de Corse Automobile, another World Rally Championship event, with a victory by longtime Stratos privateer Bernard Darniche. When the Fiat group favoured the Fiat 131 for rallying Lancia also built two Group 5 turbocharged ‘silhouette’ Stratos for closed-track endurance racing. These cars failed against the Porsche 935s on closed tracks but proved successful in hybrid events. While they failed in the Tour de France Automobile, one of these cars won the 1976 Giro d’Italia Automobilistico, an Italian counterpart of the Tour de France Automobile. One of the cars was destroyed in Zeltweg, when it caught fire due to overheating problems. The last surviving car would win the Giro d’Italia event again before it was shipped to Japan to compete in the Fuji Speedway based Formula Silhouette series, which was never raced. The car would then be sold and reside in the Matsuda Collection before then being sold to the renowned collector of Stratos’, Christian Hrabalek, a car designer and the founder of Fenomenon Ltd, who has the largest Lancia Stratos Collection in the world, 11 unique Lancia Stratos cars, including the fluorescent red 1971 factory prototype and the 1977 Safari Rally car. His interest in the car led to the development of the Fenomenon Stratos in 2005. The Stratos also gained limited success in 24 Hours of Le Mans, with a car, driven by Christine Dacremont and Lella Lombardi, finishing 20th in 1976.
Making another appearance here following its debut at this event in 2015, was this Range Rover Sport SVR, the most potent version of the popular model.
This is a 1951 Lester MG. Garage owner and expert tuner of MG cars, Harry Lester was one of the more successful sports car competitors in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In 1949 he designed and built his own car, with a rigid tubular chassis, lightweight aluminium body and utilising the favoured engine of many club racers of the time, the XPAG unit from the MG TC. So successful was the car in his hands that a trio of wealthy young amateur racers decided to form a team and commissioned him to build them a car each, plus a spare. They called themselves “The Monkey Stable” and enjoyed much success in their first year, 1952, a highlight being winning the team prize at the first 9 hours race at Goodwood. In subsequent years their fortunes changed, as did their cars, going to Kieft MGs in 1953, then back to Lesters in 1955. In the interim, the Monkey Stable drivers twice drove for the Bristol team at Le Mans and one of their number, Pat Griffith, briefly became a works driver for Aston Martin, partnering Peter Collins in a number of long-distance events. It all ended in tragedy, however, when team founder Jim Mayers was killed at Dundrod in the 1955 TT race, only weeks after another team member, Mike Keen, had crashed fatally at Goodwood. Two of the cars survive.
Another of the current cars in the Paddock, this is the GS-F, a rival to the BMW M5 and Mercedes E63 AMG. On paper, it ought to keep up with them, but sales of the car in Europe are paltry, making it a very rare sight indeed.
Beginning in 1954, company manager and racing driver Brian Lister brought out the first in a series of sports cars from a Cambridge iron works. Inspired by Cooper, he used a tubular ladder chassis, de Dion rear axle, and inboard drum brakes. Like others, he used a tuned MG engine and stock gearbox. It made its debut at the British Empire Trophy at Oulton Park in 1954, with former MG pilot Archie Scott Brown at the wheel. Later, Lister swapped in a Moore-tuned Bristol two-litre engine and knockoff wire wheels in place of the MG’s discs to improve performance. For the sports car race supporting the 1954 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Scott Brown won the two-litre class and placed fifth overall behind only works Aston Martins. In 1955, a handful of Lister-Bristols were built with a new body built by an ex-Bristol employee with the aid of a wind tunnel. Despite its new fins and strakes, it was less successful than the original Lister-Bristol of 1954. Lister moved up to a six-cylinder motor from a Formula 2 Maserati A6GCS for their own car, while customers continued to receive the Bristol motor, sold for ₤3900. Lister also attempted single-seater racing with a multi-tube chassis powered by a Coventry-Climax motor and using an MG gearbox, but the car was a failure. For 1957, Lister redesigned the car around a 3.4 litre Jaguar D-type Jaguar D-type XK inline-six, with an aerodynamic aluminium body; it was tested by racing journalist John Bolster, performing a 0–100 mph run in 11.2 seconds. Driver Archie Scott Brown won the 1957 British Empire Trophy in the new Lister-Jaguar. Refined again in 1958, the Lister-Jaguar entered international competitions. Brown was killed that season when he crashed the Lister-Jaguar at Spa-Francorchamps. Lister also developed another single-seater car based on the Lister-Jaguar, for use in the unique Race of Two Worlds at Monza. Cars from this era are affectionately known as the “Lister Knobbly” cars, due to their curved bodywork. For 1959, Lister hired aerodynamicist Frank Costin who produced entirely new bodywork built around a new Chevrolet Corvette powerplant. However, the front-engine layout of the new Lister-Chevrolet was quickly eclipsed by the rear-engine layout of the new Cooper sports car. By the end of 1959, Lister withdrew from competition, although production of sports cars continued for customers. More recently, of course, there has been a series of 10 “new” Lister Jaguar cars produced.
This T142 dates from 1969. Lola’s first Formula A model, the T140, had been a great success in sales and although the Eagle had proved faster in the US, its price advantage ensured good sales for an improved model, the T142, in 1969. In the US market, several of Lola’s Can-Am customers decided to try the new Formula A and the T142 also sold well in the UK, where Formula 5000 was having its first season. With 28 vehicles produced in the space of just ten months, the T142 would prove to be the most successful production F5000 ever, at least in terms of units sold. Even the later Lola T332 couldn’t manage that in a single year. A better indication of “market share” is by appearances, either in the race or even on an entry list, and Lola’s market share was a massive 42% in 1969.
Although there were not quite as many Lotus cars here as there had been in 2015, when there had been a special display to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the company, there were still plenty of classic Lotus models in the Paddock. Oldest of them was this 1955 Mark IX, an aluminium-bodied sports racing car, of which about thirty were made. It was closely related to the Lotus Mark VIII of 1954, only about seven of which were built. These cars were largely based on the innovative space frame of the Lotus Mark VI of 1952. The Lotus Mark VIII was Colin Chapman’s first fully enclosed aerodynamic design. Chapman’s basic requirements for the design were for a car of 1100 lbs powered by an 85 bhp engine and a maximum speed of 125 mph. Work began on this design in late 1953, and Chapman was assisted in the design of the body by the aerodynamicist Frank Costin who was the brother of Mike Costin his main collaborator. The spaceframe chassis for the Mark VIII has been described as “the most nearly perfect sports car chassis”. This was Lotus’ first true spaceframe and relied on the aircraft experience of Peter Ross and Gilbert McIntosh. Extremely light (the total weight of the frame alone was only 35 lbs) and very stiff, the frame consisted of only nineteen members and was fully triangulated. But from a practical point, however, the frame had limitations, mostly in maintenance. In order to install the engine, it had to disassembled and then reassembled inside the framework. The spaceframe retained the divided front axle independent suspension that Chapman had used on his earlier cars, with a de Dion layout with inboard brakes at the rear. A modified MG 1500 cc engine and transmission were installed, and a stressed undertray further stiffened the chassis. In its first race at Oulton Park, Chapman set the fastest lap of the day in Mark VIII prototype which was designated P3, but had to retire because of a blown head gasket. However, at the next race at Silverstone, Chapman won the 1,500 cc. class outright. It was at a subsequent meeting of the RAC British Grand Prix at Silverstone on 17 July 1954, where the reputation of Lotus cars was made as Chapman in the Lotus Mark VIII and Peter Gammon in the Mark VI beat the works quad-cam Porsche driven by Hans Herrmann again winning the class. The huge rear tail fins of the VIII proved quite a problem when transporting the cars. For the IX, these were toned down somewhat, as it was discovered that the smaller fins were no less effective. The chassis of the Mark IX was a new design, compared to that of the Mark VIII. Both were space frames of welded steel tube. The new chassis was an advance over the Mark VIII in terms of the efficiency of its design and avoiding the VIII’s need for diaphragm-stiffening panels. However both chassis still used an over-sized lower rail of 1.8-inch tube, a hang-over from the original design of the first Mark VI space frame. Compared to the Mark VIII, the Mark IX was shortened somewhat to a wheelbase of 7 feet 3.5 inches, and the body itself was about two feet shorter than that of the Mark VIII. During this early era, of 1954–1955, Lotus Engineering was still a fledgling company, and cars were delivered in different states of completion on special orders. Similar to the Mark VIII, the Mark IX was available in various configurations and different engines, including the 1500 cc MG, 1500 cc Connaught and 2-litre Bristol were fitted. However, the Mark IX designation is most often powered by the 1100 cc Coventry Climax engine. Apparently two models of Mark IX were offered – the “Club” and the “Le Mans”, the latter of which had larger drum brakes fitted. A total of about thirty of the Mark IX sports racing cars were produced in various forms, and these were successfully raced in both Europe and the US. The first two examples of the Mark IX were apparently delivered to the US with the 1100 cc Coventry Climax engine to compete in the 1955 running of the 12 Hours of Sebring race and were beaten by a Porsche Spyder. These cars were actually entered as Lotus Mark VIII models in the G class by Frank Miller of Larchmont, NY and by Bobby Burns and Norman J. Scott of Houston TX in, respectively, car numbers 78 and 79. The Lotus Works Team entered at least one Mark IX in the Le Mans 24 hour race in 1955, driven by Chapman, which may have been equipped with disc brakes. However, the car was disqualified apparently due to his reversing the car to re-enter the race track after going off course. A further revision created the Mark X, of which only 6 or 7 cars were built.
The legendary Lotus 18 was here, of course. This was the first mid-engined car built by Lotus and was a marked improvement over Chapman’s early and only moderately successful front-engined formula cars, the 12 and 16. It was introduced for the 1960 F1, F2 and FJ seasons, with about 27 examples of the F1 and F2 versions and 110 of the FJ versions being built. As a stop-gap before the introduction of the 18’s successor models, the Lotus 20 for F2/FJ and 21 for F1, some 18 chassis were rebodied with 21 skins to create the interim Lotus 18/21 hybrid derivative. The car was a classic Chapman design, being extremely light and simple; the body was made up of lightweight panels bolted to heavily-triangulated tube frame (almost spaceframe) chassis. Thus the car was rigid, strong and light, maintaining the 16’s forward weight distribution despite the engine moving behind the driver. It was powered initially by a 2,467 cc Coventry Climax FPF four cylinder DOHC engine inherited from the Grand Prix version of the Lotus 16. In 1960, the FPF was enlarged slightly to 2497 cc, which produced 239 hp at 6,750 rpm from a weight of only 290 lbs and had a wide torque range. The 2.5 litre engine was replaced by a 1.5 litre Climax FPF Mk.II with new Formula One engine rules in 1961. The Formula Junior variant used a 998 cc Cosworth Mk.III or a Downton BMC “A” Series with 948cc displacement. The Formula Junior version also used smaller gauge chassis tubing and Alfin drum brakes on all four corners.
The Lotus 23 was designed by Colin Chapman as a small-displacement sports racing car. Nominally a two-seater, it was purpose-built for FIA Group 4 racing in 1962-1963. Unlike its predecessors Lotus 15 and 17, the engine was mounted amidship behind the driver in the similar configuration developed on Lotus 19. To comply with FIA rules, it had a regulation trunk space to the right-rear of the driver, a windshield wiper, a horn, pairs of headlights and tail lights, rear center license plate light, a wire-operated emergency brake, and a mounting space for one spare tire under the front body. The 23 used a wider version of the Lotus 22 space frame, clothed in a fibreglass body. The front suspension was a typical double wishbone arms with outboard coil/damper unit using the Triumph upright made by Alford & Alder, Triumph Herald rack and pinion steering, and outboard Girling non-ventilated disc brake. The rear had the top link with lower reversed wishbone, top and bottom radius arms with the top arm at the height of the halfshaft, combined with the outboard disc brakes and coil/damper unit. Unlike the arrangement for Lotus 20 suspension, the halfshafts had Metalastic rubber ‘doughnuts’ on the inside, carrying no cornering (side) forces. The side forces are carried by the lower wishbone, together with the top ‘I’ arm link, which connects the tail end of the upper side tube in the frame with the extended top end of cast alloy upright. The tie-rod end, front top and bottom wishbone outside joints and the rear lower wishbone inside joint were Heim joints. The rest of the suspension joints were rubber joint, with joint-mounting pipes welded onto the ends of suspension arms. While most of the suspension arms were in common with Lotus 22, the angle of the rear radius arms on the plan view was different from the narrower-frame Lotus 22, so they were not interchangeable with the 22. It was originally intended for engines of 750 cc to 1300 cc with a Renault 4 speed transaxle, but had a 5 speed Hewland Mk.III in production, which used the entire Volkswagen magnesium alloy transaxle case in upside-down configuration, housing bespoke straight-cut gears with dog-rings, and the Volkswagen differential gear set. Unlike the later Mk.IV, the Mk.III had the shifter rod at the end of the VW nose casing, so the shifting rod (pipe) from the centre gear lever location extended to the tail end of the chassis. On the frame structure, the lower side pipes and the width-wise lower pipe behind the cockpit were rectangle tubes, with most of the other frame pipes being round steel tubes in various diameter. The upper left round pipe was used as the water (the use of anti-freeze chemicals was prohibited by most of the race organisers at the time for the danger of making the Tarmac slippery) feed pipe for the radiator up front, and the lower right side pipe and a half of the width-wise lower rear cockpit pipe was the return tube. Likewise, the upper right side pipe was the oil feed to the oil cooler, and the lower left tube was the return. This frame was mostly made by Arch Motors, carrying ‘AM’ serial number. This configuration was shared with Lotus 22 and other Formula cars of the time, but the combination of a wider and thus larger radiator, wider (and somewhat bulkier) steel frame acting as a cooling device, and the small displacement engines resulted in more than ample cooling capacity. Atypical of the contemporary racing cars, Lotus 23 models sometimes experienced an over-cooling problem in sprint races, and displayed a very stable water temperature in endurance racing. The much thicker 3 point roll bar as opposed to the original thin 2 point, smoked wind screen, slightly wrong location of the right hand side rear view mirror, and the lack of a small windshield wiper are incorrect restorations. 23B cockpit. The two structural pipes (one just inside of the gear lever) running length-wise connecting the front bulkhead to the rear section, are unique to 23B and 23C. These are the correct rear view mirror locations. The 23B in 1963 had the original central gear lever relocated to the right side of the driver, and the radiator and oil cooler were combined into a single unit, with the lower 1/5 or so acting as the oil cooler. The frame received additional structural tubes to take the torque of Lotus TwinCam-based 1.6 litre Cosworth Mk.XII and Mk.XIII, mated to “high torque spec” 5 speed Hewland Mk.V transaxle. Smaller displacement engines were mated to 5 speed Hewland Mk.IV. Both the Mk.IV and Mk.V transaxles had GKN (Ford Zephyr) differential gears and a forward-facing selector rod on the right side in a bespoke (Hewland made) tail casing. The intake funnels on the Weber carburettors on 23B (and the 23C) were housed in a “cold air box” which received fresh air from two oval holes cut out on the top side of the rear body behind the driver. The 23B proved to be very successful in being a “giant killer” often beating cars in larger classes, but the limited road adhesion due to the narrow tyre width became apparent as the shortcoming in running with the larger cars. The 23C was developed using much wider Formula Two tyres mounted on wider 6-stud wobbly-web wheels front and rear. The body received wing-extensions to cover the wider tyres, with the characteristic 23/23B rear wings (covering the top half of the wheels on the outside) cut-out to expose the entire tyre/wheel in the side view. The Lotus 23 proved a competitive, durable, and popular race car and they are still a mainstay of vintage racing in Europe and the United States today. Including the 23B and 23C, about 130 examples were made in period, but the popularity of the model led to many additional cars assembled from replacement and reproduction parts. The current estimate on the total number ranges between 200 and 400 excluding Xanthos and Noble.
The Type 51 first appeared in 1967, designed for the new Formula Ford series. The chassis was derived from that of the improved Lotus 31 Formula 3, which in turn makes it a derivative of the Lotus 20 Formula Junior. The mechanical parts were shared with the Ford Cortina, which meant initially a 1500cc engine with 80hp and later a larger 1599cc of 100hp. The 51 was very successful on the circuits and commercially, with 218 of them made. The Lotus 61 replaced it in 1969.
There were a couple of other classic Lotus racers here.
This is a Type 26R version of the small Elan a lightened version of the road car that was first produced in 1962. This car was the quickest of the pre-1966 cars around the track, with a time of 73.79 seconds.
This looks like the Europa roadcars that Lotus sold from 1966 to 1975, but it is in fact a Type 47. The Europa was originally conceived as a clubmans sports racer to replace the Lotus 7, but it was realised that the car would be uncompetitive with the Renault engines available. A decision was therefore made for Lotus Components to manufacture a specialist race car based on the Europa to be raced by Team Lotus and sold to private entrants. Although the very first Type 47 was based on a modified Europa, all subsequent cars were produced entirely by Lotus Components rather than the main factory. Launched at the same time as the S1 Europa, the body of the 47 was thinner than the standard Europa and with larger wheel arches. Side vents into the engine bay were added after the 1st few cars experiencing problems with engine bay temperature. The engine, gearbox and rear suspension were completely different from the standard Europa and were taken in their entirety from the Lotus 23/Lotus 22 Formula Junior with a Lotus-Ford Twin Cam based 165 hp 1,594 cc Cosworth Mk.XIII dry sump engine, and a Hewland FT 200 5-speed gearbox and suspension with reversed bottom wishbone, top link and dual radius arms. The front upright was specially cast in common with the F2 version of Lotus 41X to accommodate a larger Girling brake for the later 47A model (which had the Alfa Romeo tail lamp shared with the Europa S2) with reinforced front frame. The Type 47 exact production numbers are unknown, the last car was 47GT-85 but it is unlikely 85 47GT’s were produced, estimates vary from 55 to 68 during the years 1966-70. Although the 47GT is the best known, a few 47F’s were produced, these had the detachable body similar to the S2 Europa, but retaining the large wheel arches and side vents of the 47GT. Fitted with a tuned Ford cross flow engine but with the Renault gearbox and rear suspension of the Europa. The number produced is unknown but probably no more than 6. As a mobile test bed for the new 2 litre Lotus 907 engine being developed for the forthcoming Elite and Eclat, the Type 62 was produced. Only two such cars were ever made. These were space frame cars with F1 suspension to handle the 240 hp from the engine. Although deliberately made to resemble the Europa, in practice the only connection to the Europa was a few of the Europa’s body panels. It did win its first event the 1969 BOAC 500 at Brands Hatch with John Miles and Brian Muir at the wheel. Replica 47’s and 62’s are bespoke-manufactured by Banks Europa Engineering, in several variations. A one-off 47, fitted with a Rover V8 engine (3.5 litre enlarged out to 4.4 litre), was built for GKN in 1968 and registered, GKN 47D, with 300 hp it was capable of 180 mph (290 km/h).
There were a couple of modern Lotus models here, too: an Evora and the latest Exige V6.
Another brand new model taking part in the event was this Ghibli saloon.
This is a 2013 McLaren MP4-12C 50th Anniversary Edition Spider, which had unique 50th Anniversary branding and styling that came with the familiar carbon-fibre composite chassis-ed car with its tin-turbo 3.8 V8 engine developing 590bhp and a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox, which gives the car explosive performance including performance of 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds.
This rather special AMG GT model was entered in the GUMBALL 3000 event, by Team Galag.
One of the less-likely cars in the Paddock was this Messerschmitt KR200. Temporarily not allowed to manufacture aircraft after the end of the war, the company had turned its resources to making other products. In 1952, Fend approached Messerschmitt with the idea of manufacturing small motor vehicles. These were based on his Fend Flitzer invalid carriage. The first of Fend’s vehicles to enter production at Messerschmitt’s Regensburg factory was the KR175. The title Kabinenroller means “scooter with cabin”. While the Messerschmitt name and insignia were used on the car, a separate company, incorporated as Regensburger Stahl- und Metallbau GmbH, was created to manufacture and market the vehicle. The KR200 replaced the KR175 in 1955. While using the same basic frame as the KR175 with changes to the bodywork (notably including wheel cutouts in the front fenders) and an improved canopy design, the KR200 was otherwise an almost total redesign. The rear suspension and engine mounting were reworked, and hydraulic shock absorbers were installed at all three wheels. Tyre sizes were enlarged to 4.00×8. Retailing for around DM 2,500, the KR200 was considered an instant success with almost 12,000 built during its first year, which was the highest annual production for Kabinenroller models. A maximum speed in excess of 90 km/h (56 mph) despite a claimed power output of only 10 PS reflected the vehicle’s light weight and low aerodynamic drag. An “Export” package included a two-tone paint scheme, painted hubcaps, a fully trimmed interior, a heater, a clock, and a sunshade for the canopy. In 1956, around a year after West Germany joined NATO, Messerschmitt was allowed to manufacture aircraft again and lost interest in Fend’s microcars. Messerschmitt sold the Regensburg works to Fend who, with brake and hub supplier Valentin Knott, formed Fahrzeug- und Maschinenbau GmbH Regensburg (FMR) to continue production of the KR200 and his other vehicles. In 1957, the KR200 Kabrio model was released, featuring a cloth convertible top and fixed side window frames. This was followed by the KR201 Roadster without window frames, using a folding cloth top, a windscreen, and removable side curtains. A Sport Roadster was later offered with no top and with the canopy fixed into place so that the driver would have to climb in and out at the top of the car. Production of the KR200 was heavily reduced in 1962 and ceased in 1964 as sales had been dropping for a few years. The demand for basic economical transport in Germany had diminished as the German economy boomed. A similar situation developed in other parts of Europe such as in the manufacturer’s biggest export destination, the United Kingdom, where sales were particularly affected by the increasing popularity of the Mini. In 1955, in order to prove the KR200’s durability, Messerschmitt prepared a KR200 to break the 24-hour speed record for three-wheeled vehicles under 250 cc. The record car had a special single-seat low-drag body and a highly modified engine, but the suspension, steering, and braking components were stock. Throttle, brake, and clutch cables were duplicated. The record car was run on 29-30 August 1955 at the Hockenheimring for 24 hours and broke 22 international speed records in its class, including the 24-hour speed record, which it set at 103 km/h (64 mph).
This is a TC, adapted for racing.
There were a couple of examples of the legendary Mini Cooper from the 1960s.
Earlier than the time we think of as the real glory years for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo rally cars, this is an Evo 3, which arrived in February 1995, with several improvements over the previous models. New, more aggressive styling and a new nose moulding improved the air supply to the radiator, intercooler and brakes. New side skirts and rear bumper mouldings and a larger rear spoiler were added to reduce lift. An improved engine had a higher compression ratio than before, and a new turbocharger compressor (65 mm to 68 mm), which gave a power output of 270 bhp at 6250 rpm and 228 lb/ft at 3000 rpm. It was produced until Auguist 1996, when the Evo IV arrived.
The latest Aero 8 Roadster was first seen at the Geneva Show earlier this year, and there was an example here.
Making another appearance here, much to the delight of the crowds who always enjoying this car, was Chris Williams’ fabulous Napier-Bentley. This vintage racing car is a one-off special built in 1968 by David Llewellyn, based on a Sunbeam chassis but, after a serious accident, was re-built on the chassis of a 1929 8 Litre Bentley. It has a 24 Litre Napier Sea Lion W12 boat engine based on the Napier Lion aeroplane engine, the same as that used in the silver Napier-Railton, which it resembles closely, which develops approximately 550 bhp With its red bodywork and Napier-Railton-esque grille, it is spectacular and entertaining in action. Being a W12, the engine has three banks of four very large stub exhausts, one of which points straight out of the side of the car. The sound of the car has been likened to a World War I biplane or cluster or mortar bombs going off. Due to the immense torque of the engine (c.1,400 ft-lbs), the rear tyres can be made to produce clouds of smoke whenever the car is launched, while the exhausts produce sparks, flames and smoke. In the past, I have seen Chris making toast from the heat of the exhaust after he has taken the car out on track. It certainly tends to leave the grass under where it is parked looking somewhat singed. An amazing car – but it was not the only one of its type that was here.
Nothing like as well-known as the Austin-Healey were cars like this one, a Nash-Healey, of which 507 were made over a 4 year period, between 1951 and 1954. Marketed by Nash-Kelvinator Corporation with the Nash Ambassador drivetrain and a European chassis and body, it served as a halo (or image) vehicle, or flagship car, for the automaker to promote the sales of the other Nash models. It was “America’s first post-war sports car”, and the first introduced in the U.S. by a major automaker since the Great Depression. The Nash-Healey was the product of the partnership between Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and British automaker Donald Healey. Later on, the car was restyled by Pinin Farina and subassembly began in Italy. Donald Healey and Nash-Kelvinator CEO George W. Mason had met on the Queen Elizabeth, going from the United States to Great Britain. Healey was returning to England after his attempt to purchase engines from Cadillac, but General Motors declined his idea. His idea was to expand production of the Healey Silverstone that race car driver Briggs Cunningham had customised with Cadillac’s new 1949 overhead-valve V8 engine. Mason and Healey met over dinner and a production plan ensued during the remainder of the voyage. The two became friends because they were both interested in photography. Nash Motors supplied the Donald Healey Motor Company with the powertrain components: the Ambassador’s inline six-cylinder OHV 3.85 litre engine and three-speed manual transmission with Borg-Warner overdrive, plus torque tube and differential. Healey fitted a lighter, higher-compression aluminium cylinder head (in place of the cast-iron stock item) with twin SU carburettors that were popular on British sports cars at the time. This increased power from the stock 112 hp version to 125 hp. Compared to other contemporary British sports cars, the Nash-Healey’s engine was long, heavy, and bulky. However, Donald Healey’s original plan was to use an even heavier 5.4 litre Cadillac V8 engine and the car was designed with an engine bay that allowed a few later owners to convert their cars to V8 power. The chassis was a widened and reinforced Healey Silverstone box-section ladder-type steel frame. Independent front suspension, also Healey Silverstone, was by coil springs, trailing link, and a sway bar. The rear suspension featured Nash’s rear end and coil springs replaced the Silverstone’s leaf springs, while the beam axle was located by Panhard rod. Healey designed the aluminium body, but it was outsourced. Panelcraft Sheet Metal of Birmingham fabricated the body. It incorporated a Nash grille, bumpers, and other trim. Healey was responsible for the car’s final assembly. The car had drum brakes all round. Wheels were steel, dressed up with full-diameter chrome hubcaps and 4-ply 6.40×15-inch whitewall tires. The interior featured luxurious leather upholstery, foam rubber cushions, adjustable steering wheel, and a cigarette lighter. Completed vehicles were shipped to the United States for sale through the Nash dealership network. A prototype was exhibited at the Paris Motor Show in September 1950. The production model debuted at the February 1951 Chicago Auto Show and Donald Healey gave the first example to Petula Clark. The car had the registration number PET 1. The only colours available were “Champagne Ivory” and “Sunset Maroon”, and the suggested retail price of US$3,767 proved uncompetitive. For 1952, Nash commissioned Italian designer Pinin Farina to revise Healey’s original body design. One objective was to make the sports car more similar to the rest of Nash’s models. The front received a new grille incorporating inboard headlights. The sides now featured a distinct fender character lines ending with small tailfins in the rear. A curved windshield replaced the previous two-piece flat windshield. The restyled car appeared at that year’s Chicago Auto Show. Carrozzeria Pininfarina in Turin built the bodies which, save for aluminium bonnet, boot lid and dashboard, were now all steel, which with careful engineering, reduced curb weight. The Nash engine was now 4.1 litres with American-made twin Carters producing 140 hp. Shipping costs were considerable: From Kenosha, Wisconsin the Nash engines and drivelines went to England for installation in the Healey-fabricated frames. Healey then sent the rolling chassis to Italy, where Pininfarina’s craftsmen fashioned the bodywork and assembled the finished product. Finally Farina exported the cars to America. The result was a $5,908 sticker price in 1953, while the new Chevrolet Corvette was $3,513. The 1953 model year saw the introduction of a new closed coupé alongside the roadster (now termed a “convertible”). Capitalising on the 3rd-place finish at Le Mans by a lightweight racing Nash-Healey purpose-built for the race, the new model was called the “Le Mans” coupé. Nash had already named the powerplant the “Le-Mans Dual Jetfire Ambassador Six” in 1952, in reference to the previous racing exploits of the lightweight competition cars. Some describe the new design as “magnificent”. Some “people didn’t take to the inboard headlights”.This headlight mounting was described as “Safety-Vu” concentrating illumination, and their low position increased safety under foggy situations. The 1953 “Le Mans” model was awarded first prize in March of that year in the Italian International Concours d’Elegance held at Tresa, Italy.In 1954, Nash Motors became a division of American Motors Corporation (AMC) that was formed as a result of a merger with Hudson Motor Car Company. Nash was faced with limited resources for marketing, promotion, and further development of this niche market car in comparison to its volume models. By this time AMC knew that a similar luxurious two-seat Ford Thunderbird with V8 power was being planned. In light of the low sales for the preceding years, Nash delayed introduction of the 1954 models until 3 June and discontinued the convertible, leaving just a slightly reworked “Le Mans” coupé, distinguished by a three-piece rear window instead of the previous one-piece glass. Healey was focusing on its new Austin-Healey 100, “and the Nash-Healey had to be abandoned.” Although the international shipping charges were a significant cost factor, Nash cut the POE (port of entry) price by more than $1,200 to $5,128. Production ceased in August. A few leftover 1954s were sold as 1955 models. This particular car – one of around 20 survivors – was restored a couple of years ago.
Conceptually very similar to the Napier-Bentley is this Packard-Bentley, known affectionately as Mavis. This one-off vintage racing car was specifically built by VSCC member Chris Williams. It is powered by a massive American 42 litre Packard 4M-2500 V-12, developing 1,500 bhp , sourced from an American World War II-era marine military PT boat. The car debuted at this very event in July 2010, and since then has made appearance at a number of VSCC and other events around the country, often alongside Williams’ other Bentley special, the Napier Bentley, which was also present here. When interviewed about it, Williams claimed the car has been light-heartedly criticised as the “biggest automotive waste of time, money and engineering expertise ever built”. The car is based on a 1930 Bentley 8-litre chassis, although it is highly modified. The car also has 24 exhaust pipes, however it only has 12 cylinders, contrary to some rumours; this is because the engine is a twin-port design. The steering column is offset and angled to allow it to clear the huge engine block, and the fake torpedoes strapped to the side of the car are actually oil tanks. With the matt-black paint and v-shaped grille, the large size of the car means it drew much attention at its first event. With the amount of torque produced by the engine (2,000 foot-pounds), the rear tyres can be made to create large volumes of smoke upon launch, whilst the 24 exhaust stubs emit clouds of smoke and streamers of flame. Unsurprisingly, the car proved to be a very popular spectator attraction, both when static and whilst being driven here.
A three-wheeled motor vehicle, the Slingshot .was introduced in 2014 as a 2015 model, and it is now selling well. I’ve certainly seen a number on US roads during recent visits. The Slingshot is manufactured by Polaris Industries, which claims “It’s a three-wheeled motorcycle!” It has a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, side-by-side bucket seats, and does not lean. Three-point seat belts are fitted, however it has no airbags or crumple zone, and driver and passenger must wear motorcycle helmets in certain jurisdictions. It has no roof, doors, or side windows. A small windscreen is an optional extra on the base model, and fitted as standard on the SL model. The steering wheel, gear stick, and brake, clutch, and throttle pedals have a conventional automobile layout. The Slingshot weighs 1,743 pounds (791 kg) and is powered by a 2.4 litre inline four engine derived from the GM Ecotec, formerly used by GM in the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky sports cars, coupled to a 5 speed manual gearbox. The standard Slingshot has two 17″ front wheels and a singular 18″ wheel in the rear.
This 911 bore the badging RS and 2.7, suggesting that despite the rather sober look compared to many of the other Carrera RS cars of 1973, it really is the “special one”, and so it turned out to be.The Carrera name was reintroduced from the 356 Carrera which had itself been named after Porsche’s class victories in the Carrera Panamericana races in Mexico in the 1950s. The RS – standing for Rennsport in German, ie “race sport” – was built to meet motorsport homologation requirements. Compared to a standard 911S, the Carrera 2.7 RS had a larger engine (2687 cc) developing 210 PS with Bosch (Kugelfischer) mechanical fuel injection, revised and stiffened suspension, a “ducktail” rear spoiler, larger brakes, wider rear wheels and rear wings. In RS Touring form it weighed 1,075 kg (2,370 lb), in Sport Lightweight form it was about 100 kg (220 lb) lighter, the saving coming from thin gauge steel used for parts of the body shell and also the use of thinner glass. In total, 1,580 were made, and qualified for the FIA Group 4 class. 49 Carrera RS cars were built with 2808 cc engines producing 300 PS. For the 1974 IROC Championship (which started in December 1973), 1973 Carrera RSR models were fitted with the 3.0 engine and a flat “whale tail” in place of the ducktail spoiler. In 1974, Porsche created the Carrera RS 3.0 with mechanical fuel injection producing 230 PS. Its price was almost twice that of the 2.7 RS, but it offered racing capability. The chassis was largely similar to that of the 1973 Carrera RSR and the brake system was from the Porsche 917. The use of thinner metal plate panels and a spartan interior enabled its weight to be reduced to around 900 kg (2,000 lb). The Carrera RSR 3.0 was sold to racing teams and scored wins in several major sports car races of the mid-1970s. Also, a prototype Carrera RSR Turbo (with 2.1-litre engine due to a 1.4x equivalency formula) came second at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1974 and won several major races, a significant event in that its engine would form the basis of many future Porsche attempts in sports car racing. This, and the earlier Porsche 917, was Porsche’s commitment to turbocharger applications in its cars. Genuine RS models are highly prized these days.
Proton Motorsports’ British based partner Mellors Elliot Motorsports (MEM) prepared a FIA Super 2000 compliant Proton Satria Neo based on the road car’s chassis. It is powered by the same engine as found in the Proton Waja 1.8. The team’s drivers in 2011 on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), starting with the Rally Monte Carlo was Chris Atkinson. He contested all six rounds of the 2011 Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) and Per-Gunnar Andersson who drove the second car for the Proton team in the IRC events, while Alister McRae continued to drive for Proton in the APRC, where he took the car to its first drivers and constructors titles in the 2011 APRC. A pair of Proton Satria Neo S2000s were used in an episode of Top Gear, in a race between the British presenters and their Australian counterparts at Cornbury Park, a former Rally GB venue.
This is a Sprite, dating from 1936. These were small sports cars based on the contemporary Riley Twelve chassis, with open two seater bodywork, made between 1936 and 1938. The Sprite is nearly always pictured with its distinctive cowled grille, but the early models had a more traditional Riley Radiator. The Sprite is essentially the 1½ Litre version of the MPH / Imp model. Indeed, it shared the chassis of the 6 cylinder cars, meaning that in theory at least the engines can be swapped. However, with the cowled grille giving the car a very different look to almost any other Riley, this heritage is rarely understood by the lay man. The car was (and indeed still is) successful in many classes of racing over the years. Of the 60 or so believed to have been produced, over 50 have been identified, a remarkably high rate for any Riley. The out-and-out racing attitude of the MPH models had been toned down for the Sprite, with full wings in place of the almost cycle-wings of the earlier cars. This was a design developed by the pre-production models, which had different profile wings. They also omitted the cowls, and had a variety of other detail differences. The tail was also modified to suit the new wings, and always seems to have enclosed the spare wheel, as opposed to the twin spares often mounted on the rear of Imps and MPHs. As the last of the factory produced sports cars, the Sprite has proven popular, with a great many replicas being built on cut down saloon chassis over the years.
In September 1982, the first Celica turbo was launched in Japan for the local market only. The GT-T (TA63) came with the twin-spark 1.8-litre 3T-GTE engine, W55 5-speed manual gearbox, a limited slip differential, pump up lumbar “sports” seats and optional digital dash. To meet the FISA regulation for Group B Rally Car to compete in the World Rally Championship (WRC), 200 units of the Celica GT-TS were built. These were the basic cars for Group B Celica Twincam Turbo (TA64) which were built and rallied by Toyota Team Europe (TTE). The Group B Celica TCT made its WRC debut in the 1983 Rally Finland. The production car had 178 hp and with its 320 bhp 4T-GTE engine, the fully works rally car was the most powerful third-generation Celica. It was driven by Juha Kankkunen and Bjorn Waldegaard in the 1983 to 1986 WRC Championship.
British Leyland ran a team of TR7s in rally competitions from 1976 to 1980. These cars initially used the 16-valve Dolomite Sprint engine and later switched to the Rover V8 engine (before the introduction of the TR8, so dubbed “TR7 V8”). They were reasonably successful on tarmac events but were less successful on gravel sections. The most successful driver of these cars was Tony Pond. The 16-valve engined TR7 rally car was homologated for group 4 in October 1975, well before any 16-valve TR7 Sprints are known to have been produced. This was possible at the time using the “100-off rule”, as John Davenport called it, in the FIA’s appendix J to the International Sporting Code 1975. This 100-off rule described a list of “Optional equipment which may be recognised with a minimum production of 100 units per year to equip 100 cars” and requirements for their use. However, it did not require that any cars actually be so equipped, just that 100 of the “bolt-on option kits” be produced, listed, and made available for sale. As well as alternative cylinder heads with different numbers of cams and valves, this list of optional equipment also included many other engine, suspension, and transmission components, and so covered the use of the 4-speed, close-ratio gearbox and overdrive from the Triumph Dolomite Sprint (the heavy duty axle from the 5-speed TR7 was initially homologated for group 3 by another, less clear, route, though re-homologated later, presumably on production of 5-speed TR7s).Further modifications, including the larger front brakes and rear disk brakes, were covered as “Optional equipment which may be recognised without a minimum production”. In 1975, Appendix J listed yet more modifications allowed, with restrictions, to cars for group 4, including pistons, manifolds, carburettors, and suspension, etc., that could be fitted without the FIA needing to recognise or approve them. However, the BL rally team had to regain approval for the 16-valve head for the 1978 season, and several others such as Lancia, Toyota, Vauxhall, and Ford had similar problems at that time. This was because the FIA deleted the 100-off rule from 1976, though mechanical parts and cars already using it were allowed to be used until the end of 1977. The number of cars suitable for “normal sale” required to gain approval of such a modification under the 1976 rules does not appear to be recorded. However, several other similar modifications of the era, including the Vauxhall Chevette HSR, Porsche 924 Carrera GTS, and possibly Ford RS rally cars, involved production of batches of 50 cars. This may explain, at least in part, the production of the 60 or so 16-valve TR7 Sprints in 1977. Their use in this homologation process is shown by 6 photographs of a TR7 Sprint (later registered SJW 530S) described in the British Motor Museum Film and Picture Library archives as “TR7 Sprint Homologation”. The V8 version was homologated on 1 April 1978. This was homologated as a separate model, the TR8, directly into group 4, but because the TR8 had not yet been launched “as a compromise to keep the BL marketing people happy, it was called the TR7V8 instead.” At that time, appendix J required 400 cars suitable for “normal sale”. However, the number produced by April 1978 is believed to have been less than 150. Journalist and historian Graham Robson quotes John Davenport as saying “In those days there was no rigorous FIA inspection system. Provided that one provided a production sheet signed by an important manager, then nobody worried”. Robson goes on, “A lot of fast and persuasive talking then went on, to show that the makings of well over 500 [sic.] cars were either built, partly built, or stuck in the morass of the Speke strike—the result being that homologation was gained.” However, the FIA rules are specific that these should be “entirely finished cars, e.g., cars in running condition and ready for delivery to the purchasers.” Also, the Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800 was re-homologated into Group 4, as the 2 L Escort RS, with only about 50 produced in 1977 and only about 109 in total – though has been claimed the FIA had included Escorts modified to RS1800 specification by others, after sale, despite this clearly being outside the FIA’s rules. The TR7-V8 models continue to be successful in classic rallying events.
The Unipower GT was a British specialist sports car first shown at the January 1966 Racing Car Show, and produced by truck maker Universal Power Drives Ltd in Perivale, Middlesex and later by U.W.F. Automotive in London until production ceased in early 1970, by which time around 71 cars are believed to have been made, including about 15 built by U.W.F. Originally the brainchild of Ernie Unger and Attila sports racing car designer Val Dare Bryan in the early 1960s the design of Unipower GT was actually said to have been penned by a moonlighting member of the GT40 design team. The car was based on BMC Mini mechanical components with the transverse engine and gearbox unit mounted in a mid-engine configuration. A strong square tubular spaceframe chassis with integral roll-over protection was produced by racing car specialist Arch Motors and was bonded to a fibreglass body made by Specialised Mouldings who supplied many of the top sports, racing and F1 constructors of the day. The end product was a light yet rigid structure, with all-round independent coil spring and wishbone suspension. Combining light weight, a low centre of gravity and low aerodynamic drag from a body that measured just 40.5 inches high, the Unipower GT offered very good performance and excellent road holding and handling characteristics. Available with the 998 cc Mini-Cooper or more potent 1275 cc Cooper “S” engine, this later version was reported to be capable of 0–60 mph in around 8 seconds and to have a maximum speed of almost 120 mph. Several lightweight competition models were produced by the factory with disc brakes all round, the first one shown at the 1967 Racing Car Show with Stirling Moss featured a Downton tuned 1275cc Cooper S engine and knock on Minilite wheels. This car was purchased by Salisbury tuning firm Janspeed and raced internationally for them by BMC works driver Geoff Mabbs throughout 1967. Other race cars were campaigned by John E Miles (for Em Newman / Gordon Allen), UWF part owner Piers Weld Forrester (who took two cars to Le Mans in 1969 but failed to qualify), BMC works racing driver and Unipower head of sales Andrew Hedges, John Blanckley, Stanley Robinson, Roger Hurst, Tom Zettinger and Alberto Ruiz-Thiery who all raced cars on the continent at such venues as Mugello, Nurburgring, Spa, Barcelona and Jarama. Two Mk1 race cars were also shipped to the U.S, the first for Paul Richards to race in Gp6 events. Kris Harrison and Bob Barell also raced a Unipower GT at the Watkins Glen 6 Hours in 1969 amongst other events whilst Roger Enever and Piers Weld Forrester were to take a car to Sebring for the 12hr race in the same year but did not race. A design was produced for a larger Unipower but this did not go into production with the original makers instead eventually evolving into the AC ME3000.
Still one of the less familiar modern cars in the display was this Zenos E10S. First revealed at the Autosport International show in January 2014, the car proved that it was a reality and not just a statement of intent that had been first suggested when two ex-Caterham gents, Ansar Ali and Mark Edwards, showed off a sketch of the E10. Launched with an asking price of under £30,000., for your money you get a 2.0-litre Ford GDI petrol engine making 200bhp and 155lb ft of torque, mounted in the middle, and powering the rear wheels through a limited slip differential and a six-speed transverse manual gearbox. The launch edition also gets removable front and rear wings coloured red, bespoke Zenos composite seats, four-point race harnesses, an OZ performance wheel pack with ZZR Avon tyres, footwell heating and even a quick release steering wheel. The whole thing weighs in at 650kg – thanks to a hybrid carbon and aluminium monocoque – while suspension is of the double wishbone variety all round (with Bilstein dampers). As such, it’s estimated to accelerate from 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds and rock on to a top speed of 135mph, though both of these figures are yet to be confirmed. Plans were announced to create two further models, the E11 and E12 sports cars (the first a roadster, the second a coupe) by 2018, though as ever with start ups, the reality of what can be done and how quickly was somewhat ambitious. The E10 has had good reviews, but is still struggling in a competitive and small sector in the market place.
In 2015, there were different “special” displays on each of the three days of the event. They proved somewhat disappointing, with only a handful of cars to the two themes on the days I visited. For 2016, the decision was taken to have a single display over the weekend, The theme was “Supercars: Past, Present and Future”. Even with this running over a couple of days, it proved not to be a massive display, sadly, with only a handful of cars on show on the Saturday and slightly more on the Sunday.
Firmly placed in Ferrari’s history as one of their finest big GTs, the 550 Maranello’s combination of stylish Pininfarina lines and front mounted 12-cylinder engine meant this car had the potential to become an instant classic, following in the footsteps of its forebear, the 365 GTB/4 ‘Daytona’, and if you look at the way the prices are steading to go, it’s clear that the potential is being realised. Launched in 1996, and with modern styling cues, a 5.5 litre V12 engine producing around 485bhp and a reported top speed of 199mph, the 550 Maranello was a serious motor car. A less frenetic power delivery, the six speed manual box and excellent weight distribution were all factors in the 550 becoming the perfect European Grand Tourer. Ferrari updated the car to create the 575M.
Ford Mustang Convertible
Jaguar E Type Series 1 Roadster
There were a couple of examples of Lamborghini’s Countach, the early 4000 and later 5000S, to join the one that I had already seen in the Paddock.
Lotus Esprit Turbo
Mercedes 300SL Roadster
Perhaps the least well-known of the cars in this display, and certainly one of the rarest was this fabulous Toyota 2000GT. A front-engine, rear-wheel drive, two-seat, hardtop coupé grand tourer designed by Toyota in collaboration with Yamaha, the 2000GT was first displayed to the public at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1965. It was then manufactured under contract by Yamaha between 1967 and 1970. In Japan, it was exclusive to Toyota’s Japanese retail sales channel called Toyota Store. The 2000GT revolutionised the automotive world’s view of Japan, then viewed as a producer of imitative and stodgily practical vehicles. As sleek, high-performance fastback, it demonstrated its auto makers could produce a sports car to rival the better marques of Europe. Most of the 2000GT’s design was done by Yamaha, which also did much automobile work for other Japanese manufacturers, originally for Nissan rather than Toyota. Many credit the German-American designer Albrecht Goertz, a protégé of Raymond Loewy who had previously worked with Nissan to create the Silvia, as inspiration. He had gone to work for Yamaha in Japan in the early 1960s to modernise Nissan’s two-seater Fairlady sports car. A prototype 2000GT was built, but Nissan declined. Yamaha then proposed the design to Toyota, whom they also did contract work for, then perceived as the most conservative of the Japanese car manufacturers. Wishing to improve their image, Toyota accepted the proposal, but employed a design from their own designer Satoru Noza. The resulting car is widely considered a classic among 1960s gran turismos. Its smoothly flowing “coke bottle” bodywork was executed in aluminium and featured pop-up headlights above large plexiglass covered driving lamps flanking the grille similar to those on the Toyota Sports 800. Bumpers were minimal, and the car was extremely low, just 45.7 in to the highest point of the roof. In spite of a custom open-top version built for the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, a factory-produced convertible was never offered. The engine was a longitudinally mounted 2.0 litre straight-6, based on the engine in the top-of-the-line Toyota Crown sedan. It was transformed by Yamaha with a new double overhead camshaft head into a 150 hp sports car unit, with three carburettors. A five speed manual gearbox was part of the spec. Just 351 examples were made, and on the rare occasions that one comes up for sale, you could well be looking at figures of half a million to buy one.
There was a concours competition for these cars, hosted by Cheshire Classic Cars. The Best Presented award went to Rob Woodall’s Ford Mustang Convertible, the Judges’ Choice went to Jane Weitzmen’s Toyota 2000GT and the Peoples’ Choice being awarded to Ron Pearson’s Ferrari 458 Italia, a car I never even saw on site. The Overall Best of Show went to Keith Ashworth’s Mercedes 300SL Roadster
A number of local dealers had the latest models on show, with this proving quite a popular part of the event.
Star attraction on the BMW stand, provided by Blue Bell Cars, a Cheshire BMW dealer for over 25 years, was this i8.
There were two very different models from the 2 Series: a rear wheel drive 220i Convertible and a front wheel drive 218d Active Tourer.
Also on display plinths were an X5 M50d and the latest 730d M-Sport.
Civic Type R and BTCC car
Other cars on show included a CR-V Black Edition, the smaller HR-V and the recently released third generation Jazz.
Also on show were a couple of bikes including this CBR model.
There’s a lot that is new at Jaguar these days, and this was a chance to catch up with some of the latest products, with the established XJ joined by the recently released second generation XF, the brand new F-Pace and the ever-so pretty F Type.
Joining the Jaguar models were some of the latest Land Rover products, with the Evoque, Discovery Sport and Range Rover Sport all on show.
In a separate are of the site, the Land Rover Experience was giving people the opportunity to experience for themselves just how capable these cars are when faced with an array of obstacles. Many of them look almost unfeasible for any car, but these models all seem to take them in their stride.
There were a lot of Lexus models on show. I am no fan of the latest styling, even though it has been around for a few years now, and has become reasonably familiar. It was the GS-F that I was looking at when I was approached by one of the sales assistants, who promised to send me more details. And to be fair, I was contacted by a local dealer the following Monday morning – though he was pretty clear that they did not have a GS-F as a demonstrator!
Lexus sales in the UK (and indeed the whole of Europe) are heavily dependent on their CrossoverSUV models, so the latest RX is an important vehicle for the brand. I can’t imagine that it will convert many to the brand who are not already loyal, but those who have one of the outgoing cars will probably like this one, even if the styling is bolder than what went before.
The smaller NX300h – a very bold design that many think looks like the result of a low speed crash test – was on show with the established CT200h and the IS and GS saloons.
Also on show were the large coupe models, the potent RC-F and the RC300h. The initial interest in these cars seems to have subsided and they are rare sightings on our roads.
LOTUS and CATERHAM
Oakmere Cars had a number of Lotus and Caterham models on show, with the latest Elise as well as a rather nice looking S in a yellow/white combination, as well as an Evora 400 and an Exige, and a Caterham Seven.
Sole Mazda model here was a new “ND Series” MX5, shown with some of the other sports cars by Oakmere Cars.
Also part of the Blue Bell BMW display was a lone example of the Mini, the latest Cooper JCW – a rather pricey top of the range model.
A comprehensive array of Morgan models included examples of the current range, with the popular Three-wheeler joined by Plus 4 and Plus 8 models, as well as the latest Aero 8 Convertible.
With the exception of the little-loved Micra, there were examples of the entire Nissan range here. Excitement comes from the well-established GT-R and the 370Z sports car, whilst the sensible models include the Note, the rarely seen Pulsar hatch and the big-selling Juke, Qashqai and X-Trail cross-over cars.
There was not a display of Toyota cars per se, but I did come across this GT86, which was on show courtesy of Oakmere Cars
This Chimaera was also part of the Oakmere Cars display.
We’ve been a long time for the new Trident to become available, with cars being shown at various events, with a promise of an imminent start to production, and to date, nothing has transpired. And here we are again with the latest Iceni coupe making an appearance here. Launched (again) in 2014, alongside two other new Trident models, the Magna fastback and the Venturer estate, the Iceni – a diesel sports car claimed to be the fastest and most fuel-efficient car of its kind in the world – will go on sale in limited numbers with prices starting at £96,000. All models are powered solely by a 6.6-litre V8 turbodiesel engine, which in standard form produces 424bhp and 950lb ft of torque. Upgrades are available, taking the car to 651bhp and 1057lb ft. Trident claims a top speed of over 190mph, but won’t be drawn on an actual figure yet. The engine is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission, while other features include performance brake discs and calipers at the front and rear, with uprated shock absorbers and springs. Inside, the Iceni features leather trim, sports seats and an integrated touchscreen with satellite navigation and a DAB radio, alongside numerous options as part of four upgrade packs. Trident boasts a range of around 2000 miles for the Iceni running from a single tank of bio-diesel, as well as a combined return of around 68.9mpg. Key to that range and to the Iceni’s performance is its torque multiplication technology. Company founder Phil Bevan says his formula of low revs and increased torque should lead to improving fuel efficiency over normal performance cars: High-revving cars have become trendy but Trident point out that horsepower takes over from torque as it’s a crankshaft speed-related formula, and theirs is based all on torque. Their car changes gear at 3000rpm, so has masses and masses of torque, the standard car having 950lb ft at 3000rpm along with 424bhp. At 70mph, the engine is doing just 980rpm. The latest car was last seen at the Salon Prive show in 2012, although that was apparently an early prototype, something the company has been doing for nearly eight years. They have had to perfect their innovation of torque multiplication. And it’s been a tortuous route having to make their own gearbox and differential and their own engine ECU to capitalise on the torque. Target customers are those who may have considered a Jaguar XK or Aston Martin DB9. There is apparently a waiting list. And still we wait……..
There’s a large area of land between the bridge that goes over the track, where the admission booths are located, and the narrow path that leads over the lake to the central area, and this is used for a mixture of the trade stalls and some special displays. There’s a real mix of stuff in here. Some of the car accessory and modification firms are here, as well as those selling cleaning and detailing products, as well as plenty with food and drink, either for instant consumption or to take away.
This array of KTM Bikes attracted my camera. There was little else in this area which did, though I did sport a Gumball 3000 support vehicle Mercedes G Wagen parked up in this area, too.
ICE CREAM VANS
This was an interesting and popular display at the 2015 event, so it was repeated fro 2016. A surprisingly diverse variety of different vehicles that had been adapted to form ice cream vans over the past 40 or 50 years made for quite a colourful display.
There is a strong military theme through the event, with live demonstrations by some active forces members on site proving to be one of the crowd pullers. There were also this array of military vehicles, again, an eclectic collection from British and American sources, and some more recent than others.
A special display promoting the Welsh Rally contained a number of Ford Escort models. This was a successful rally car from the early Mark 1 and most especially with the Mark 2 of the late 1970s. The later Mark 4 also enjoyed a certain amount of success, even though the whole rally scene had changed considerably by the time it was around in the mid 1990s.
Showing the latest thinking was this Fiesta-based model.
I also came across this Nissan 200RS Rallycar in the trade area.
CAR CLUB DISPLAYS
Another important part of this event are the Car Club Displays. Over 40 Clubs had registered, and a large area is allocated to the Clubs on the outside of the track, with some Clubs (Abarth included this time), getting a pitch which allowed their members to watch the action on track from their cars. Those Clubs who had booked space ranged from those with a geographical focus (all of which were relatively local) to others that cover a specific model or marque. There was plenty of space, but sadly, few of the Clubs got anywhere close to filling what had been allocated to them. Often this can prove to be the case on a Saturday, but come Sunday, far more cars appear, and the event looks full. That was not really the case this time, with most of the cars present for the whole weekend. Reviewing my reports from previous years, I also find that many of the cars were the same as had been shown before (inevitable, to an extent, and let’s face it, it is only the fact that I have changed my car since the 2015 event that means I am not guilty of the same!) but even so, there were some nice cars among these displays.
It was a small gathering of Abarths this time, with slightly more cars present on the Sunday than the Saturday. They were all 500 based, with a mix of recent acquisitions (such as mine), and cars that their proud owners have had for a longer period of time.
A car I’ve certainly not seen at this event before, or indeed any other, was this second generation 100 5S CS. Talking to the owner, it would seem that it is one of just 3 of this generation of Audi 100 left in the UK, all of which are 5 cylinder cars. He told me that more of the closely-related 200s survive.
From a distance, this looked like an example of the popular Quattro, but get it close, and you realise that it is actually one of the related Coupe models instead. Confusingly, though, it had Quattro badging on it, as this became an option on the post 84 facelift cars. The Audi Coupé (B2, Typ 81/85) was produced from 1980 to 1988, as a less expensive version of its turbocharged, permanent four-wheel drive Audi Quattro without turbocharger(s) or four wheel drive. Later, quattro was added as an option (Typ 85). Typ 81 was the internal model code for front-wheel drive Audi Coupés. The Coupé, first displayed at the Paris Salon 1980, featured a similar body shape to the Quattro, but without the knife-edged fender flares of the more expensive car. Mechanically, the biggest changes from the Quattro to the Coupé were the use of a naturally aspirated 1.9-litre carburettor petrol engine, 2.0-litre, 2.1-, 2.2-, or 2.3-litre fuel injected inline five-cylinder engine and a front-wheel drive drivetrain. Some lesser Coupés were also fitted with a 1.8-litre inline four-cylinder engine, injected or carburetted, and for the very first year of production a 1.6-litre “YN” 75 PS engine was available. The short-lived 1.6 was the only Coupé not to be fitted with a black rear spoiler. The Coupé was available as just plain “Coupé” or GL (four-cylinders only), “Coupé GT”, and “Coupé quattro” (without the GT tag). From 1986 until the end of production in late 1988, the Coupé GT was also available with the 110–112 PS 1.8-litre PV/DZ inline-four best known from the Golf GTi. For the last model year, the new 2,309 cc “NG” five cylinder was available, offering 136 PS at 5,600 rpm. This engine became available during 1987 for the last of the Audi Coupés sold in the US, where it produced 130 hp at 5,700 rpm as opposed to the 110 hp at 5,500 rpm available from the 2.2-litre five which had been used since the facelift for model year 1985. The Coupé had originally gone on sale in the US late in model year 1981 with the 100 hp 2,144 cc five-cylinder also used in the 5000 (Audi 100). The updated Coupé, introduced after the German industrial holidays in the autumn of 1984, was given new, slightly sloped radiator grille and headlights, a large wrap-around bumper with integrated spotlights and turn signals, plastic sill covers, and the large rear spoiler from the Audi Quattro. These changes brought the drag coefficient down to 0.36. A new dashboard was also introduced, as was a new interior. GL and standard versions were cancelled for model year 1987 and all FWD Coupés were from then referred to as “Coupé GT”. For the 1986 model year, the Coupés (as with all Audis) were available with more catalysed engine options. Also, the entire B2 range (Audi 80/90/Coupé) received stainless steel exhausts (for European markets at least). Also in September 1984, Audi made available the option of the quattro permanent four-wheel drive system to produce the Audi Coupé quattro, a model which was rarer than the turbocharged Quattro model. While most common with the 2.2-litre engine (also 2.3 for the last year, introduced 1987 for the US), in some markets the 1.8-litre four-cylinder models (90 and 112 PS engines) were also available with four-wheel drive. The Coupé and Coupé quattro models appear almost identical from the outside except for a few minor “quattro” specifics. While the GT had “COUPE GT” on the rear side windows, the CQ had the “quattro” decal as used on the Ur-Quattro. Similarly at the rear, the badging was “GT” and “quattro” respectively. The quattro versions also used the Ur-Quattro rear windscreen with “quattro” written into the heater elements (very obviously so on a cold and frosty morning), and the front grille was also adorned with the “quattro” badge from the Ur-Q. Inside, the cabin was identical except that the centre console received a differential lock switch, and LED bargraph displays in place of the GT’s three analogue-style gauges. Some Coupé quattros were distinguished by a body-coloured rear spoiler. Mechanically, the Coupé quattro depended on a combination of components from the GT and the Audi 80 quattro. The quattro permanent four-wheel drive drivetrain was almost identical to that used on the Ur-Quattro – the main differences being the use of the Coupé GT front struts, smaller 256 mm (10 in) diameter front brake disks, and lower ratios in the gearbox and rear differential. The damper and spring rates were also different from the Ur-Q. It was thus largely identical to the Audi 90 quattro and the North American Audi 4000 quattro. Wheels were 6.0Jx14″, with steel or aluminium alloy rims dependent on the market. 7.0Jx15″ Ronals, almost identical to the Ur-Quattro wheels, were also available. The CQ/90Q/4000Q also received their own exhaust manifold and downpipe. From September 1980 to September 1987, 174,687 Typ 81 Coupés were built. Quattro production ran from late 1984 to 1988, and was in the total region of 8,000 cars.
This is a nice example of the Mark 1 Sprite, affectionately known in the UK as the “Frog Eye”. The Sprite was announced to the press in Monte Carlo by the British Motor Corporation on 20 May 1958, just before that year’s Monaco Grand Prix. It was intended to be a low-cost model that “a chap could keep in his bike shed”, yet be the successor to the sporting versions of the pre-war Austin Seven. The Sprite was designed by the Donald Healey Motor Company, with production being undertaken at the MG factory at Abingdon. It first went on sale at a price of £669, using a tuned version of the Austin A-Series engine and as many other components from existing cars as possible to keep costs down. It was produced for a little over 3 years before being replaced by a Mark 2 version, which was then joined by a badge-engineered MG version, the Midget, reviving a model name used by MG from the late 1920s through to the mid 1950s. Enthusiasts often refer to Sprites and the later Midgets collectively as “Spridgets.” The first Sprite quickly became affectionately known as the “frogeye” in the UK and the “bugeye” in the US, because its headlights were prominently mounted on top of the bonnet, inboard of the front wings. The car’s designers had intended that the headlights could be retracted, with the lenses facing skyward when not in use; a similar arrangement was used many years later on the Porsche 928. But cost cutting by BMC led to the flip-up mechanism being deleted, therefore the headlights were simply fixed in a permanently upright position, giving the car its most distinctive feature. The body was styled by Gerry Coker, with subsequent alterations by Les Ireland following Coker’s emigration to the US in 1957. The car’s distinctive frontal styling bore a strong resemblance to the defunct American 1951 Crosley Super Sport. The problem of providing a rigid structure to an open-topped sports car was resolved by Barry Bilbie, Healey’s chassis designer, who adapted the idea provided by the Jaguar D-type, with rear suspension forces routed through the bodyshell’s floor pan. The Sprite’s chassis design was the world’s first volume-production sports car to use unitary construction, where the sheet metal body panels (apart from the bonnet) take many of the structural stresses. The original metal gauge (thickness of steel) of the rear structure specified by Bilbie was reduced by the Austin Design Office during prototype build, however during testing at MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association) distortion and deformation of the rear structure occurred and the original specification was reinstated. The two front chassis legs projecting forward from the passenger compartment mean the shell is not a full monocoque. The front sheet-metal assembly, including the bonnet (hood) and wings, was a one-piece unit, hinged from the back, that swung up to allow access to the engine compartment. The 43 bhp, 948 cc OHV engine (coded 9CC) was derived from the Austin A35 and Morris Minor 1000 models, also BMC products, but upgraded with twin 11⁄8 inch SU carburettors which gave it 43 hp at 5200 rpm and 52 lb/ft at 3300 rpm. When tested by “The Motor” magazine in 1958. It had a top speed of 82.9 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 20.5 seconds. Fuel consumption of 43 mpg was recorded. The rack and pinion steering was derived from the Morris Minor 1000 and the front suspension from the Austin A35. The front suspension was a coil spring and wishbone arrangement, with the arm of the Armstrong lever shock absorber serving as the top suspension link. The rear axle was both located and sprung by quarter-elliptic leaf springs, again with lever-arm shock absorbers and top links. There were no exterior door handles; the driver and passenger were required to reach inside to open the door. There was also no boot lid, owing to the need to retain as much structural integrity as possible, and access to the spare wheel and luggage compartment was achieved by tilting the seat-backs forward and reaching under the rear deck, a process likened to potholing by many owners, but which resulted in a large space available to store soft baggage. The BMC Competition Department entered Austin Healey Sprites in major international races and rallies, their first major success coming when John Sprinzel and Willy Cave won their class on the 1958 Alpine Rally. Private competitors also competed with much success in Sprites. Because of its affordability and practicality, the Austin Healey Sprite was developed into a formidable competition car, assuming many variants by John Sprinzel, Speedwell and WSM. The Sebring Sprite became the most iconic of the racing breed of Austin Healey Sprites. Many owners use their Austin Healey Sprites in competition today, fifty years after its introduction. 48,987 “frogeye” Sprites were made and the car remains popular to this day.
Sole Ferrari among the Car Club cars was this Mondial. Produced by Ferrari from 1980 through 1993, it replaced the 208/308 GT4. The “Mondial” name came from Ferrari’s history — the 500 Mondial race car of the early 1950s. Despite its predecessor being Bertone styled, the Mondial saw Ferrari return to Pininfarina for styling. Sold as a mid-sized coupe and, eventually a cabriolet, it was conceived as a ‘usable’ model, offering the practicality of four seats and the performance of a Ferrari. The car had a slightly higher roofline than its stablemates, with a single long door either side, offering easy access and good interior space, reasonable rear legroom while all-round visibility was excellent. The cabriolets also hold the distinction of being the only production automobile in history that has four seats, is rear mid-engined, and is a full convertible. The car body was not built as a monocoque in the same way as a conventional car. The steel outer body produced by the famous Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Scaglietti, in nearby Modena, was built over a lightweight steel box-section space frame. The engine cover and rear luggage compartment lids are in light alloy. The seats and interior were trimmed in Connolly hide, contrasting with the body colour. Most cars were painted rosso red, but some were black or silver, and a few were dark blue. The Mondial was the first Ferrari car where the entire engine/gearbox/rear suspension assembly is on a detachable steel subframe. This design made engine removal for a major rebuild or cylinder head removal much easier than it was on previous models. Unusually, the handbrake is situated between the driver’s seat and the inner sill. Once the handbrake is set it drops down so as, not to impede egress and ingress. Instead of the conventional “H” shift pattern, the gearbox has 1st gear situated in a “dog leg” to the left and back, behind reverse. This pattern, otherwise known as a “reverse h-gate”, allows quicker gear shifts between 2nd and 3rd gear, and also between 4th and 5th. The Mondial underwent many updates throughout production. There were four distinct iterations (8, QV, 3.2, and t), with the latter 3 having two variations each. (coupe and cabriolet). The first car was introduced as the Mondial 8 at the 1980 Geneva Auto Salon. It was the first Ferrari to depart from the company’s simple 3-digit naming scheme, and some reviews found it relatively mild, compared to other Ferraris, regarding performance, drawing criticism from some in the motoring press. It used a mid/rear-mounted Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection V8, shared with the 308 GTBi/GTSi, mounted transversely. The engine used in the 1973 Dino 308 GT4. The K-Jetronic system is mechanical, with a high-pressure pump which streams fuel continuously to the injectors; it does not have a computer, just a few relays to handle the cold start sequence etc. The chassis was also based on the 308 GT4, but with a 3.9 inch longer wheelbase at 104.3 in. The suspension was the classic layout of unequal-length double wishbones and Koni dampers all around. Today, the Mondial 8 is considered one of the marque’s most “practical” vehicles, due to its 214 hp, proven drivetrain, four seats, and relatively low cost of maintenance (major services can be performed without removing the entire engine/transmission subframe). 703 examples were made. The first Mondial engine, although a DOHC design, used just two valves per cylinder. The 1982 Quattrovalvole or QV introduced a new four-valve head; the combustion chamber design purportedly based on the early eighties Formula 1 engine. Again, the engine was shared with the contemporary 308 GTB/GTS QV, and produced a much more respectable 240 hp. Appearance was largely as per the Mondial 8, although with red engine heads and prominent “quattrovalvole” script at the rear. 1,145 coupés built between 1982 and 1985. A new Cabriolet body style added for 1983. Body styling remained the same as the coupé variant, with the roof maintaining the ‘buttress’ design of the roof, though the Cabriolet required the rear seats to be mounted closer together laterally. The introduction of the Cabriolet saw the popularity of the Mondial rise, particularly in the American market, where the convertible body style was highly desirable. The Cabriolet has the added distinction of being the only four-seat, mid-rear engine, convertible automobile ever manufactured in regular production. 629 units were produced between 1983 and 1985, making this the rarest version of the Mondial. Like the Ferrari 328, the Mondial’s engine grew in both bore and stroke to 3,185 cc in 1985. Output was now 270 PS. The Mondial 3.2 was first presented at the 1985 Frankfurt Auto Show in September that year. Available in both Coupé and Cabriolet forms, styling refreshed with restyled and body-coloured bumpers, similar to the 328 with more integrated indicators and driving lamps, and new alloy wheels with a more rounded face. The 3.2 also boasted a major interior update, with a more ergonomic layout and a more rounded instrument binnacle. Later cars, from 1987 onwards, also sported ABS brakes. Fuel injection remained the primarily mechanical Bosch K-Jetronic (CIS) with an O2 sensor in the exhaust providing feedback to a simple computer for mixture trimming via a pulse modulated frequency valve that regulated control fuel pressure. The ignition system was Marelli Microplex, with electronic advance control and one distributor per bank of the V8. The 1988 Mondial 3.2 would be the final model year that retained the relatively low maintenance costs of the 308/328 drivetrain, allowing major service items like timing belt and clutch replacement performed with the engine/transmission package still in the car. The final Mondial evolution was 1989’s Mondial t, which was a substantially changed model. It was visually different from preceding Mondial models, the most recognizable being the redesign of the air intakes to a smaller rectangular shape. Additionally, the door-handles were of a visually different design, as were the front and rear bumpers which became body coloured. New front and rear wings cover wider tracks and are re-profiled to a fuller shape compared to previous models, which feature a rolled lip. The ‘t’ called attention to the car’s new engine/transmission layout: the previously-transverse engine mounted longitudinally while the gearbox remained transverse, thus forming a ‘t’. By adopting this layout, a longer engine could be mounted lower in the chassis, improving handling dramatically. The ‘t’ configuration was used by Ferrari’s Formula One cars of the 1980s, and would be the standard for the marque’s future mid-engined V8 cars, beginning with the 348, introduced later in the year. The transverse manual gearbox fitted with a Limited Slip Differential with a twin-plate clutch design with bevel gears driving the wheels. Later in production, a Semi-automatic transmission termed “Valeo” was available as an option; while shifting was using a traditional gear lever, the clutch was actuated automatically without a clutch pedal. The engine was up to 3405 cc and 300 hp, controlled by Bosch Motronic DME 2.5 (later DME 2.7) electronic engine management that integrated EFI and ignition control into a single computer unit. Two of these used in the car: one for each bank of the engine. Engine lubrication upgraded to a dry-sump system. The Mondial’s chassis would underpin a new generation of 2-seat Ferraris, right up to the 360, but the 2+2 Mondial would end production just four and a half years later in 1993. However, the “t” layout of the engine and transaxle, adapted from Ferrari’s Formula One cars, continues to be used in mid-engined V8 model Ferraris to date, albeit with a more sophisticated chassis. The new layout saw the engine and transmission mounted on a removable subframe; the assembly removed from the underside of the vehicle for maintenance. This process is necessary for timing belt replacement, making this a costly procedure for the owner who does not have a lift. On the other hand, the clutch was now located at the very rear of the drive train. This arrangement makes clutch replacement and service a simple, inexpensive, and readily owner-do-able proposition. The “t” was home to other Ferrari firsts: It used power assisted steering for the first time and had a 3-position electronically controlled suspension for a variable tradeoff between ride quality and road holding. It also had standard ABS. Total production of the t Coupe was 858 (45 Right Hand Drive), and the t Cabriolet of 1,017 (51 Right Hand Drive, meaning that around 6000 Mondial cars were produced over those 13 years, making it one of the most commercially significant Ferraris to date.
As in previous years, there were a number of examples of the Fiat Coupe here. Developed as the Tipo 175, the Coupe was introduced at the Brussels Motor Show in 1993. It is perhaps best remembered for its distinctive, angular design, with unique scalloped side panels. The body was designed by Chris Bangle from Centro Stile Fiat, while the interior was designed by Pininfarina, and the car media headlines in auto magazines during 1992 after several spy shots were taken revealing the car on test. On its launch in 1993, the Coupé was available with a four-cylinder, 2.0 litre 16V engine, in both turbo (190 PS) and normally aspirated (139 PS) versions. Both engines were later versions of Fiat’s twin-cam design and inherited from the Lancia Delta Integrale. 1996 brought in a 1.8 litre 131 PS 16V engine (not available in the UK), along with a 2.0-litre 5-cylinder 20V (147 PS), and a 5-cylinder 2.0-litre 20V turbo (220 PS). The turbocharged 16 and 20 valve versions were equipped with a very efficient Viscodrive limited-slip differential to counter the understeer that plagues most powerful front wheel drive cars. Additionally, the coupe featured independent suspension all round: at the front MacPherson struts and lower wishbones anchored to an auxiliary crossbeam, offset coil springs and anti-roll bar; at the rear, trailing arms mounted on an auxiliary subframe, coil springs and an anti-roll bar. The car was well received at launch, and the 5 cylinder engines just made it even better, with sales increasing slightly for a couple of years, but then they started to drop off, as Coupe models in general fell from favour. 1998 saw the release of the Limited Edition which featured red Brembo brake calipers at the front and standard red calipers at the back, a body kit, push-button start, six-speed gearbox, strut brace to make the chassis more rigid and Recaro seats with red leather inserts which offered better support than the standard 20VT seats. The LE was produced in Black, Red, Vinci Grey (metallic), Crono Grey and Steel Grey (metallic). The bodywork of the LE also benefited from titanium coloured insert around the light bezels and the wing mirrors. Each Limited Edition (‘LE’) Coupé was manufactured with a badge located by the rear-view mirror which contained that car’s unique number (it is rumoured that Michael Schumacher was the original owner of LE No. 0001, however when the question was raised to him personally he confirmed he had owned one, but a red one, while LE No. 0001 is a Crono Grey one). Originally a spokesman from Fiat stated only approximately 300 Limited Editions would be built. The final number was much higher, perhaps as many as 1400. This angered many of the owners of the original 300 cars and almost certainly impacted residual values. The original number however was quoted by a Fiat UK spokesman, so probably that number only applied to the UK market. The numbered plaque on every Coupe features enough space for 4 numbers. In 1998 the 2.0-litre 5-cylinder 20V got a Variable Inlet System which brought the power to 154 PS. The 2.0-litre 5-cylinder 20V Turbo received a 6-speed gearbox and a large, satin gloss push starter button. In addition, the sills of the Turbo version were colour matched with the body paintwork. Fiat also released the 2.0 litre 5 cylinder Turbo ‘Plus’. This model came with an option kit that made it virtually identical to the LE, except for minor interior design changes and without the unique identification badge of the LE. In 2000 Fiat released another special version of the Fiat Coupé. Featuring the 1.8-litre engine, it was only available throughout mainland Europe and marketed as an elegant and affordable edition. Fiat also made changes throughout the rest of the range: new seats, side skirts and wheels for the 2.0-litre 20V model, ‘Plus’ edition wheels on turbo models and Fiat manufactured seats on the ‘Plus’ that were virtually identical to the original Plus Recaro seats with the addition of extra airbags. The 2.0-litre 20V Turbo model is capable of accelerating from 0–100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 6.5 seconds and 6.3 seconds for the 20v Turbo Plus, with a top speed of 240 km/h (149 mph) or 250 km/h (155 mph) with later 6-speed gearbox. When production finally stopped in September 2000, a total number of 72,762 units had been produced. There are still well over 1000 units in the UK, so this is a Fiat which has proved durable as well as good to drive, and to look at.
You rarely see a GTM by itself, as these British produced kit cars only ever sold in small enough quantities that they rarely appear in normal everyday motoring. When they come to an event, such as this one, the enthusiastic Owners Club tends to bring several examples along, and that was definitely the case here. Like many low volume specialist producers, there’s quite a complex history around GTM. The firm started out creating small and relatively inexpensive kitcars in 1967, when they produced the Cox GTM, a mid-engined Mini-based machine with styling inspired by the Ferrari Dino (so it is said!). Production stopped after 5 years, and ownership of the company changed a few times over the next few years, with production of new cars, as opposed to spares, starting again in 1980, with an updated version of the GTM Coupe. The model continued to be developed and the company took advantage of the Austin-Rover K Series engine when it became available. In 1998 they launched a new car, the Libra. Three years in development, it was a collaboration between GTM Cars directors Peter Beck & Paddy Fitch, designer Richard Oakes and suspension designer Bryn Davies. Conceived as a lightweight sports car, it uses no subframes for its suspension with all the mountings being bolted straight to the GRP monocoque tub. At the front it uses unequal length wishbones of GTM design locating uprights from the Rover Metro/100 range and a forward mounted steering rack for extra legroom. The rear suspension is an unusual double trailing arm design, bolted to the rear bulkhead and using the same uprights as the front. The engine/transmission unit is held in a frame hanging off the rear bulkhead, a frame which also locates the rear hinging engine cover which incorporates a sizeable boot which can accommodate a full size set of golf clubs. The front ‘clamshell’ conceals the radiator, battery, master cylinders etc. and also manages to stow a full size spare wheel (either 16″ or 17″). A removable roof panel can be stowed behind the seats for an open top experience. Initially launched with the 1.4 litre Rover ‘K’-Series engine, the Libra has been fitted successfully with 1.6, 1.8, 1.8 VVC and KV6 2.5 litre Rover engines as well as some Honda units and the Audi 1.8 turbo engine. Production ceased in 2010, as supply of the necessary parts dried up.
Focus of the Honda Owners Club was the S2000, the much missed sports car that Honda produced to mark their 50th anniversary. The S2000 was first alluded to at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show, with the Honda Sport Study Model (SSM) concept car, a rear-wheel-drive roadster powered by a 2.0 litre inline 4-cylinder engine and featuring a rigid ‘high X-bone frame’ which Honda claimed improved the vehicle’s rigidity and collision safety. The concept car was constructed with aluminium body panels and featured a 50:50 weight distribution. The SSM appeared at many automotive shows for several years afterwards, hinting at the possibility of a production version, which Honda finally announced in 1999. It featured a front mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout with power being delivered by a 1,997 cc inline 4-cylinder DOHC-VTEC engine. The engine produced outputs of 237–247 hp, and 153–161 lb/ft depending on the target market., and it was mated to a six-speed manual transmission and Torsen limited slip differential. The S2000 achieved what Honda claimed as “the world’s top level, high performance 4-cylinder naturally aspirated engine”. Features included independent double wishbone suspension, electrically assisted steering and integrated roll hoops. The compact and lightweight engine, mounted entirely behind the front axle, allowed the S2000 to achieve a 50:50 front/rear weight distribution and lower rotational inertia. An electrically powered vinyl top with internal cloth lining was standard, with an aluminium hardtop available as an optional extra. Although the S2000 changed little visually during its production run, there were some alterations, especially in 2004, at which point production of the S2000 moved to Suzuka. The facelifted car introduced 17 in wheels and Bridgestone RE-050 tyres along with a retuned suspension to reduce oversteer. The spring rates and shock absorber damping were altered and the suspension geometry modified to improve stability by reducing toe-in changes under cornering loads. The subframe has also received a revision in design to achieve a high rigidity. In the gearbox the brass synchronisers were replaced with carbon fibre. In addition, cosmetic changes were made to the exterior with new front and rear bumpers, revised headlight assemblies, new LED tail-lights, and oval-tipped exhausts. Although all the cosmetic, suspension and most drivetrain upgrades were included on the Japanese and European S2000s, they retained the 2.0 litre F20C engine and remained designated as an AP1. A number of special editions were made, such as the more track-oriented Club Racer version offered in the US in 2007/8 and the Type S for Japan in 2008/9. The UK received a GT for 2009, which featured a removable hard-top and an outside temperature gauge. The S2000 Ultimate Edition (continental Europe) and GT Edition 100 (UK) were limited versions of the S2000 released to commemorate the end of production. Both included Grand Prix White body colour, removable hard top, graphite-coloured alloy wheels, red leather interior with red colouring for stitching on the gear lever gaiter. The Ultimate Edition was unveiled at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show and went on sale in March 2009. The GT Edition 100 was a limited run of 100 units released for the UK market. In addition to the Ultimate Edition’s specification, it featured a black S2000 badge and a numbered plaque on the kick-plate indicating which vehicle in the series it was. The car was never replaced, as Honda decided to head off in the same direction as Toyota, producing a series of very dull appliance-like cars that focused on low emissions and dependability but of no appeal to the sort of enthusiast who bought (and probably kept!) an S2000.
The one Honda that was not an S2000 was the much earlier S800 model. The S800 was introduced at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, as a replacement for the earlier Honda S600, and to compete with the Austin-Healey Sprite, MG Midget, Triumph Spitfire and Fiat 850 Spider. Like the S600, it was available as either a coupe or roadster and continued the advanced technology of its predecessors. The 791 cc straight-4 engine produced 70 hp at 8000 rpm, thus making this Honda’s first 100 mph automobile, but still allowing for 35 mpg. In April 1967 the car was described as the fastest production 1-litre car in the world thanks to its high revving engine (up to 10,000 rpm and the manufacturer’s history of manufacturing powerful relatively low capacity motor-cycle engines. In 1967, the S800 became available in Britain. By this time the model had the more conventional drive layout than had been seen in the early cars, which gave it predictable handling and a firm ride. It was also cheaper than the Mini Cooper and Triumph Spitfire. In February 1968, the S800M (aka S800MK2) was introduced with flush mounted interior door handles, side marker lights outside, dual-circuit brakes, lean burn carburation under the bonnet and safety glass. These changes were made for the American market, but the car was never imported there officially. Production ended in May 1970 with 11,536 S800s produced. Honda did not manufacture another S roadster for nearly thirty years until the release of the S2000 for the 2000 model year.
Few would have guessed that the XJS would run for over 20 years, but eventually it came time for its replacement, and the car charged with so doing was the XK8, several nice examples of which were on show here. Development began in 1992, with design work having starting earlier, in late 1991. By October 1992 a design was chosen and later frozen for production in 1993. Prototypes were built from December 1993 after the X100 was given formal approval and design patents were filed in June 1994. Development concluded in 1996, at which point the car was launched. The first-generation XK series shares its platform with the Aston Martin DB7, and both cars are derived from the Jaguar XJS, though the platform has been extensively changed. One of the revisions is the use of the second generation of Jaguar’s independent rear suspension unit, taken from the XJ40. The XK8 was available in coupé or convertible body styles and with the then new 4.0-litre Jaguar AJ-V8 engine. In 1998 the XKR was introduced with a supercharged version of the engine. 2003 the engines were replaced by the 4.2-litre AJ34 engines in both the normally aspirated and supercharged versions. Equipment levels were generous and there was a high standard of fit and finish. Both models came with all-leather interior, burl walnut trim, and side airbags. Jeremy Clarkson, during a Top Gear test-drive, likened the interior of the original XK8 to sitting inside Blenheim Palace. The model ran for 10 years before being replaced by the X150 model XK.
A large number of kit cars, all of which show some inspiration from the Caterham Seven, were assembled here.
It is well over 20 years since the last new car with Lancia badges on it was sold in Britain, and indeed such as the perceived recognition and value of the brand that the recent and rather short-lived attempt to sell the Ypsilon and Delta saw them with Chrysler badges, and yet there is a Lancia that is still well known and revered by enthusiasts of all ages. That car is the legendary Delta Integrale, a model which features on the Bucket Lists of many people, me included. Whenever one appears, you always hear plenty of people saying how much they love this rather boxy hatchback which started out life in 1979 as arguably the first “premium” family-sized hatchback. Despite winning the Car of the Year award, sales were steady rather than spectacular, even when more potent 1600, injected and HF Turbo cars augmented the initial range of 1300 and 1500cc models. That all changed in April 1986 with the launch of the HF Turbo 4WD. This car was conceived to homologate a new rally car for Lancia who needed something to fill the void left by the cancellation of Group B from the end of 1986. The Delta HF 4X4 had a four-wheel drive system with an in-built torque-splitting action. Three differentials were used. Drive to the front wheels was linked through a free-floating differential; drive to the rear wheels was transmitted via a 56/44 front/rear torque-splitting Ferguson viscous-coupling-controlled epicyclic central differential. At the rear wheels was a Torsen (torque sensing) rear differential. It divided the torque between the wheels according to the available grip, with a maximum lockup of 70%. The basic suspension layout of the Delta 4WD remained the same as in the rest of the two-wheel drive Delta range: MacPherson strut–type independent suspension with dual-rate dampers and helicoidal springs, with the struts and springs set slightly off-centre. The suspension mounting provided more isolation by incorporating flexible rubber links. Progressive rebound bumpers were adopted, while the damper rates, front and rear toe-in and the relative angle between springs and dampers were all altered. The steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. The car looked little different from the front wheel drive models. In September 1987, Lancia showed a more sophisticated version of the car, the Lancia Delta HF Integrale 8V. This version incorporated some of the features of the Delta HF 4WD into a road car. The engine was an 8-valve 2 litre fuel injected 4-cylinder, with balancing shafts. The HF version featured new valves, valve seats and water pump, larger water and oil radiators, more powerful cooling fan and bigger air cleaner. A larger capacity Garrett T3 turbocharger with improved air flow and bigger inter-cooler, revised settings for the electronic injection/ignition control unit and a knock sensor, boosting power output to 185 bhp at 5300 rpm and maximum torque of 224 lb/ft at 3500 rpm. The HF Integrale had permanent 4-wheel drive, a front transversely mounted engine and five-speed gearbox. An epicyclic centre differential normally split the torque 56 per cent to the front axle, 44 per cent to the rear. A Ferguson viscous coupling balanced the torque split between front and rear axles depending on road conditions and tyre grip. The Torsen rear differential further divided the torque delivered to each rear wheel according to grip available. A shorter final drive ratio (3.111 instead of 2.944 on the HF 4WD) matched the larger 6.5×15 wheels to give 24 mph/1000 rpm in fifth gear. Braking and suspension were uprated to 284 mm ventilated front discs, a larger brake master cylinder and servo, as well as revised front springs, dampers, and front struts. Next update was to change the engine from 8 valves to 16. The 16v Integrale was introduced at the 1989 Geneva Motorshow, and made a winning debut on the 1989 San Remo Rally. It featured a raised centre of the bonnet to accommodate the new 16 valve engine, as well as wider wheels and tyres and new identity badges front and rear. The torque split was changed to 47% front and 53% rear. The turbocharged 2-litre Lancia 16v engine now produced 200 bhp at 5500 rpm, for a maximum speed of 137 mph and 0–100 km/h in 5.5 seconds. Changes included larger injectors, a more responsive Garrett T3 turbocharger, a more efficient intercooler, and the ability to run on unleaded fuel without modification. The first Evoluzione cars were built at the end of 1991 and through 1992. These were to be the final homologation cars for the Lancia Rally Team; the Catalytic Evoluzione II was never rallied by the factory. The Evoluzione I had a wider track front and rear than earlier Deltas. The bodyside arches were extended and became more rounded. The wings were now made in a single pressing. The front strut top mounts were also raised, which necessitated a front strut brace. The new Integrale retained the four wheel drive layout. The engine was modified to produce 210 bhp at 5750 rpm. External changes included: new grilles in the front bumper to improve the air intake for engine compartment cooling; a redesigned bonnet (hood) with new lateral air slats to further assist underbonnet ventilation; an adjustable roof spoiler above the tailgate; new five-bolt wheels with the same design of the rally cars; and a new single exhaust pipe. Interior trim was now grey Alcantara on the Recaro seats, as fitted to the earlier 16V cars; leather and air conditioning were offered as options, as well as a leather-covered Momo steering wheel. Presented in June 1993, the second Evolution version of the Delta HF Integrale featured an updated version of the 2-litre 16-valve turbo engine to produce more power, as well as a three-way catalyst and Lambda probe. A Marelli integrated engine control system with an 8 MHz clock frequency which incorporates: timed sequential multipoint injection; self-adapting injection times; automatic idling control; engine protection strategies depending on the temperature of intaken air; Mapped ignition with two double outlet coils; Three-way catalyst and pre-catalyst with lambda probe (oxygen sensor) on the turbine outlet link; anti-evaporation system with air line for canister flushing optimised for the turbo engine; new Garrett turbocharger: water-cooled with boost-drive management i.e. boost controlled by feedback from the central control unit on the basis of revs/throttle angle; Knock control by engine block sensor and new signal handling software for spark park advance, fuel quantity injected, and turbocharging. The engine now developed 215 PS as against 210 PS on the earlier uncatalysed version and marginally more torque. The 1993 Integrale received a cosmetic and functional facelift that included. new 16″ light alloy rims with 205/45 ZR 16 tyres; body colour roof moulding to underline the connection between the roof and the Solar control windows; aluminium fuel cap and air-intake grilles on the front mudguards; red-painted cylinder head; new leather-covered three-spoke MOMO steering wheel; standard Recaro seats upholstered in beige Alcantara with diagonal stitching. In its latter years the Delta HF gave birth to a number of limited and numbered editions, differing mainly in colour, trim and equipment; some were put on general sale, while others were reserved to specific markets, clubs or selected customers.
There were only a couple of Lotus models in the Club display this time. Oldest of these was the car known either as the Plus 2 or the +2. Introduced in 1967, the Elan +2 had a longer wheelbase and two rear seats and so was intended for those Lotus customers who needed space to carry (small) people in the back, without sacrificing the same basic principles which made the Elan so appealing. A fast and agile sport coupe, a number of different engines were fitted over the years, with the later models having 130 bhp and a 5 speed gearbox at their disposal, which gave a top speed of 120 mph and 0–60 acceleration of 7.9 seconds and 0-100 mph 21.8 seconds. 5,200 Elans +2 were made, with production ceasing in 1975. Fewer than 1,200 of these cars remain on the roads today. Their relative rarity, beautiful lines, impressive performance and practicality are the main factors for the rising interest on these cars among collectors.
There was also an example of the second generation Elise here.
One of the shortest lived Lotus models was the modern Europa. Based on the Elise, the car was officially introduced at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show. Lotus Europa S production commenced in July 2006 and continued to 2010. The engine was a 2.0 litre turbo delivering 197 bhp at 5,400 rpm, with a maximum torque of 272 N·m (201 lb·ft) at 5,400 rpm, delivering 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds and a maximum speed of 143 mph. Lotus did not export the Europa S to the USA, but despite this, the American manufacturer Dodge developed an electric vehicle based on the Europa, known as the Dodge Circuit, which it planned to bring to the US market by 2010, but the project was cancelled in May 2009. The Europa SE was unveiled at the Geneva International Motor Show on 5 March 2008. The Europa was an upgraded model with more comfort in mind, intended to bring in more customers. The Europa S motor was modified to bring power to 222 bhp and torque to 300 N·m (221 lb·ft). Neither version was a success, though and the Europa was discontinued in 2010 after a short model life.
Oldest MG in the MG Owners Club display area was an MG TC. The TC was the first postwar MG, launched in 1945. It was quite similar to the pre-war TB, sharing the same 1,250 cc pushrod-OHV engine with a slightly higher compression ratio of 7.4:1 giving 54.5 bhp at 5200 rpm. The makers also provided several alternative stages of tuning for “specific purposes”. It was exported to the United States, even though only ever built in right-hand drive. The export version had slightly smaller US specification sealed-beam headlights and larger twin rear lights, as well as turn signals and chrome-plated front and rear bumpers, where it proved very popular particularly among GIs who had recently been demobbed and wanted a small British sports car like they had seen when on duty in Europe. The body of the TC was approximately 4 inches wider than the TB measured at the rear of the doors to give more cockpit space. The overall car width remained the same resulting in narrower running boards with two tread strips as opposed to the previous three. The tachometer was directly in front of the driver, while the speedometer was on the other side of the dash in front of the passenger. 10,001 TCs were produced, from September 1945 (chassis number TC0251) to Nov. 1949 (chassis number TC10251), more than any previous MG model. It cost £527 on the home market in 1947.
Final version of the popular T Series sports car was the TF, launched on the 15 October 1953. Although it looked quite a bit different, this was really just a facelifted TD, fitted with the TD Mark II engine, headlights faired into the wings, a sloping radiator grille concealing a separate radiator, and a new pressurised cooling system along with a simulated external radiator cap. This XPAG engine’s compression ratio had been increased to 8.1:1 and extra-large valves with stronger valve springs and larger carburettors increased output to 57.5 bhp at 5,500 rpm. In mid-1954 the engine capacity was increased by 17 per cent to 1466 cc and designated XPEG. The bore was increased to 72 mm and compression raised to 8.3:1 giving 63 bhp at 5,000 rpm and a 17 per cent increase in torque. The car was now designated TF1500, and externally distinguished by a cream background enamel nameplate on both sides of the bonnet, placed just to the rear of the forward bonnet-release buttons. Production ended at chassis number TF10100 on 4 April 1955 after 9,602 TFs had been manufactured, including two prototypes and 3,400 TF1500s. A number of replica models have been built in more recent years, with the Naylor of the mid 1980s being perhaps the best known.
Next up was the MGB. Launched in October 1962, this car was produced for the next 18 years and it went on to become Britain’s best selling sports car and these days it has to be one of the most popular classics there is. When first announced, the MGB was an innovative, modern design, with a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series, though components such as the brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA and the B-Series engine had its origins back in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength, and with a 95hp 3-bearing 1798cc engine under the bonnet, performance was quite respectable with a 0–60 mph time of just over 11 seconds. The car was rather more civilised than its predecessor, with wind-up windows now fitted as standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while being 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. A five-bearing engine was introduced in 1964 and a number of other modifications crept into the specification. In late 1967, sufficient changes were introduced for the factory to define a Mark II model. Alterations included synchromesh on all 4 gears with revised ratios, an optional Borg-Warner automatic gearbox, a new rear axle, and an alternator in place of the dynamo with a change to a negative earth system. To accommodate the new gearboxes there were significant changes to the sheet metal in the floorpan, and a new flat-topped transmission tunnel. US market cars got a new safety padded dashboard, but the steel item continued for the rest of the world. Rostyle wheels were introduced to replace the previous pressed steel versions in 1969 and reclining seats were standardised. 1970 also saw a new front grille, recessed, in black aluminium. The more traditional-looking polished grille returned in 1973 with a black “honeycomb” insert. Further changes in 1972 were to the interior with a new fascia. To meet impact regulations, in late 1974, the chrome bumpers were replaced with new, steel-reinforced black rubber bumpers, the one at the front incorporating the grille area as well, giving a major restyling to the B’s nose, and a matching rear bumper completed the change. New US headlight height regulations also meant that the headlamps were now too low. Rather than redesign the front of the car, British Leyland raised the car’s suspension by 1-inch. This, in combination with the new, far heavier bumpers resulted in significantly poorer handling. For the 1975 model year only, the front anti-roll bar was deleted as a cost-saving measure (though still available as an option). The damage done by the British Leyland response to US legislation was partially alleviated by revisions to the suspension geometry in 1977, when a rear anti-roll bar was made standard equipment on all models. US emissions regulations also reduced horsepower. In March 1979 British Leyland started the production of black painted limited edition MGB roadsters for the US market, meant for a total of 500 examples. Due to a high demand of the limited edition model, production ended with 6682 examples. The United Kingdom received bronze painted roadsters and a silver GT model limited editions. The production run of homemarket limited edition MGBs was split between 421 roadsters and 579 GTs. Meanwhile, the fixed-roof MGB GT had been introduced in October 1965, and production continued until 1980, although export to the US ceased in 1974. The MGB GT sported a ground-breaking greenhouse designed by Pininfarina and launched the sporty “hatchback” style. By combining the sloping rear window with the rear deck lid, the B GT offered the utility of a station wagon while retaining the style and shape of a coupe. This new configuration was a 2+2 design with a right-angled rear bench seat and far more luggage space than in the roadster. Relatively few components differed, although the MGB GT did receive different suspension springs and anti-roll bars and a different windscreen which was more easily and inexpensively serviceable. Although acceleration of the GT was slightly slower than that of the roadster, owing to its increased weight, top speed improved by 5 mph to 105 mph because of better aerodynamics. 523,826 examples of the MGB of all model types were built, and although many of these were initially sold new in North America, a lot have been repatriated here. Both the Roadster and MGB GT models were here.
The MGF and later TF of the 90s and early twentyfirst century are firmly established as classics now, and there were examples of this model among the older MG cars. It was 1995 when MG produced their much-awaited all-new sports car, and their answer to the Mazda MX5 and recently revealed Fiat Barchetta, the MGF. Two versions of this mid-engined and affordable sportscar were offered: both of which used the 1.8 litre K-Series 16-valve engine. The cheaper of the two put out 118 hp and the more costly VVC model (by dint of its variable valve control) had 143 hp. Rover Special Projects had overseen the development of the F’s design and before finalising the styling bought-in outside contractors to determine the most appropriate mechanical configuration for the new car. Steve Harper of MGA Developments produced the initial design concept in January 1991 (inspired by the Jaguar XJR-15 and the Ferrari 250LM), before Rover’s in house design team refined the concept under the leadership of Gerry McGovern. The MGF used the Hydragas suspension, a system employing interconnected fluid and gas displacers, which gave the car a surprisingly compliant ride and which could be tuned to provide excellent handling characteristics. The MG F quickly shot to the top of the affordable sports car charts in Britain and remained there until the introduction of the MG TF in 2002. The MG F underwent a facelift in Autumn of 1999 which gave the car a revised interior as well as styling tweaks and fresh alloy wheels designs. There was also the introduction of a base 1.6 version and a more powerful 160 hp variant called the Trophy 160, which had a 0-60 mph time of 6.9 seconds. It was only produced for a limited time. An automatic version with a CVT called the Steptronic was also introduced. A comprehensive update in 2002 resulted in the MG TF, named after the MG TF Midget of the 1950s. Based upon the MG F platform but heavily redesigned and re-engineered, the most significant mechanical changes were the abandonment of Hydragas suspension in favour of conventional coil springs, the new design of the air-induction system that along with new camshafts produces more power than in MG F engines, and the torsional stiffness of the body increased by 20%. Various cosmetic changes included a revised grille, redesigned front headlights, bumpers, side air-intake grills and changes to the rear boot,. The car continued to sell well. Production was suspended when MG-Rover went out of business, but resumed again in 2007 when Nanjing built a number more. There were example of both the MGF and later MG TF models here.
Unless you go back to the 1930s. when MG made a few high performance cars which had racing more in mind than road use, the only model to get anywhere supercar status that bears the famous roundel is the SV, and this was also represented here. This car came about after MG-Rover acquired Qvale of Italy. Taking the Qvale Mangusta as a base, a car which had been designed, but not quite made production, MG Rover allocated the project code X80 and set up a subsidiary company, MG X80 Ltd., to produce their new model. A big factor behind the project was that was seen as having the potential sales in the United States, as the Mangusta had already been homologated for the American market. The MG X80 was originally revealed as a concept car in 2001. However, the styling was considered too sedate, so when the production model, now renamed MG XPower SV, was eventually launched the following year, designer Peter Stevens had made the car’s styling more aggressive. The conversion from a clay model to a production car, including all requirements, was done in just 300 days by the Swedish company Caran. The production process was complex, partly caused by the use of carbon fibre to make the body panels. The basic body parts were made in the UK by SP Systems and then shipped to Belco Avia near Turin for assembly into body panels. These were then assembled into a complete body shell and fitted onto the box frame chassis and running gear and shipped to MG Rover’s Longbridge factory to be trimmed and finished. Several of the cars’ exterior and interior parts were borrowed from current and past Fiat models. The headlights, for example, were taken from a Punto Mk.2 and the rear lights borrowed from a Fiat Coupe. The goal had been to get a street price of under £100,000, and on launch, the base model came in well under that at £65,000, and even the uprated XPower SV-R model was priced at £83,000. Those were ambitious prices for a car bearing MG badges, though, so not surprisingly, sales were slow. It is understood that just 82 cars were produced excluding the 4 ‘XP’ pre-production prototypes. This included a few pre-production and show cars which were later dismantled, before production was stopped due to lack of sales. Most were sold to private owners, with the final ones being sold to customers in early 2008.
There were a number of Classic “Issigonis” Mini models here, including a couple of the many different limited edition models that were produced in the model’s later life. The Italian Job cars, inspired by the 1969 film “The Italian Job”, were made to look like Coopers though they produced only 50 hp. Launched in October 1992, they were based on the Mini Mayfair, and had the standard 1275cc engine. There was a choice of four exterior colours, three of them inspired by the film: Flame Red; Metallic British Racing Green; Diamond White and Electric Blue. External recognition points included body-coloured wing mirrors, white grilles and black bumpers, with special decals/badges which included bonnet stripes, an “Italian Job” badge, crossed Italian and British flag decals whilst inside there was black tweed trim, a three-spoke steering wheel with Italian flag on steering wheel and front seats, tnted glass, twin driving lamps and opening rear quarter windows. 1,000 were made for the UK, and 750 for Italy
Also dating from 1992, but a bit earlier in the year was the British Open Classic. Also based on the 1275cc Mayfair, these were all produced in British Racing Green, and they had chrome bumpers, grille, and handles; body-coloured door mirrors; black wheelarch extensions and sill finishers, along with coachlines with “British Open Classic” decals and coat of arms, whilst inside there was Stone Beige Countryman Tweed upholstery with leather inserts and green piping, cream leather steering wheel, matching doorcards and seatbelts, label stitched to seats reading “By Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen”. There was an electrically operated full-length Webasto sunroof, Minilite-style alloy wheels, R552 stereo, opening rear windows. 1000 were made for the UK market. The British Open Classic was also made for other markets in larger numbers, these can be identified by either being left hand drive, fuel injected or no tweed inserts in the seats. UK spec Open Classics were all carburetor engines but the shell is single point injection as it has the bracket on the bulk head to the right of the carburetor. Unlike most limited editions the Open Classic has opening rear windows and a two pod dash, i.e. no rev counter. The export version has a three pod dash (this seems to vary, a German version and an Italian version are known, which have two pod dashes, so further research please). Also, there are export versions in existence, which are black, again, known are German and Italian cars. The Italian version also has beige cloth upholstery, without leather trimmings, also prepared for a radio (speakers, cables and antenna, but delivered without actual stereo unit).
Other models included a “regular” car from the late 80s and a Van.
The Morgan Owners Club always manage to assemble a large number of cars, and this year was no exception, with lots to look at. Among the familiar Plus 4 and Plus 8 cars were the less commonly seen 4 seater version.
There were a large number of RCZ models here. This car was produced to try to boost the image of Peugeot, which had taken quite a tumble in the early part of the 21st Century. It was officially introduced at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2009 having been initially announced as the 308 RCZ concept car at the 2007 Frankfurt show. It was assembled by Magna Steyr, a subsidiary of Magna International. Petrol engines were based on Prince platform while the diesels were the familiar HDi units The RCZ won many international awards such as five successive ‘Best Sports Car’ awards from Diesel Car magazine and the Top Gear ‘2010 Coupe of the Year award’. The 30,000th RCZ came off the assembly line on June 21, 2011. The 50,000th RCZ was built on 14 February 2013 and was painted in Moroccan Red, a new red on the facelifted vehicle. After a production period of almost six years, the last Peugeot RCZ rolled off the assembly line in the Magna Steyr Graz plant at September 18, 2015.
There were also examples of Peugeot’s latest GTi cars, a 308 GTi, in the distinctive optional dual paint finish, as well as a 208 GTi.
Sole Rover here was an example of the first new car that Rover announced after the war was the P4 model, known as the 75. It was launched at the Earls Court Motor Show in September 1949, to replace all previous models and then continued in production until 1964, though the car underwent lots of change under the skin in those 15 years. Designed by Gordon Bashford, the car went into production in 1949 as the 6-cylinder 2.1-litre Rover 75. It featured unusual modern styling in stark contrast with the outdated Rover P3 model 75 which it replaced. Gone were the traditional radiator, separate headlamps and external running boards. In their place were a chromium grille, recessed headlamps and a streamlined body the whole width of the chassis. The car’s styling was derived from the then controversial 1947 Studebakers. The Rover executives purchased two such vehicles and fitted the body from one of them to a prototype P4 chassis to create a development mule. In James Taylor’s highly regarded book ‘Rover P4 – The Complete Story’ he advised that this vehicle was affectionately known as the ‘Roverbaker’ hybrid. Another, at the time minor, distinctive feature but this one did not catch-on was the centrally mounted light in the grille where most other manufacturers of good quality cars provided a pair, one fog and one driving light often separately mounted behind the bumper. Known, unkindly, as the “Cyclops eye” it was discontinued in the new grille announced 23 October 1952. The earliest cars used a more powerful version of the Rover engine from the 1948 Rover P3 75, a 2103 cc straight-6 engine now with chromium plated cylinder bores, an aluminium cylinder head with built-in induction manifold and a pair of horizontal instead of downdraught carburetters. A four-speed manual transmission was used with a column-mounted gear lever which was replaced by a floor-mounted mechanism in September 1953. At first the gearbox only had synchromesh on third and top but it was added to second gear as well in 1953. A freewheel clutch, a traditional Rover feature, was fitted to cars without overdrive until mid-1959, when it was removed from the specifications, shortly before the London Motor Show in October that year. The cars had a separate chassis with independent suspension by coil springs at the front and a live axle with half-elliptical leaf springs at the rear. The brakes on early cars were operated by a hybrid hydro-mechanical system but became fully hydraulic in 1950. Girling disc brakes replaced drums at the front from October 1959. The complete body shells were made by the Pressed Steel company and featured aluminium/magnesium alloy (Birmabright) doors, boot lid and bonnets until the final 95/110 models, which were all steel to reduce costs. The P4 series was one of the last UK cars to incorporate rear-hinged “suicide” doors. After four years of the one model policy Rover returned to a range of the one car but three different sized engines when in September 1953 they announced a four-cylinder Rover 60 and a 2.6-litre Rover 90. A year later, an enlarged 2230cc engine was installed in the 75, and an updated body was shown with a larger boot and a bigger rear window and the end of the flapping trafficators, with redesigned light clusters. Further detailed changes would follow. Announced 16 October 1956, the 105R and 105S used a high-output, 8.5:1 compression version of the 2.6 litres engine used in the 90. The higher compression was to take advantage of the higher octane fuel that had become widely available. This twin-SU carburettor engine produced 108 hp. Both 105 models also featured the exterior changes of the rest of the range announced a month earlier. The 105S featured separate front seats, a cigar lighter, chromed wheel trim rings and twin Lucas SFT 576 spotlamps. To minimise the cost of the 105R, these additional items were not standard, however they were provided on the (higher priced) 105R De Luxe. The 105R featured a “Roverdrive” automatic transmission. This unit was designed and built by Rover and at the time was the only British-built automatic transmission. Others had bought in units from American manufacturers such as Borg-Warner. This unit was actually a two-speed automatic (Emergency Low which can be selected manually and Drive) with an overdrive unit for a total of three forward gears. The 105S made do with a manual transmission and Laycock de Normanville overdrive incorporating a kick-down control. The 105S could reach a top speed of 101 mph. Production of the 105 line ended in 1958 for the 105R and 1959 for the manual transmission 105S, 10,781 had been produced, two-thirds with the manual transmission option. For 1959 the manual model was described simply as a 105 and the trim and accessory level was reduced to match the other models. In 1959, the engines were upgraded again, with the 80 replacing the 60 and the 100 replacing the 90 and the 105. The four cylinder cars were not particularly popular, though and in September they were replaced by the six cylinder 95. Final model was the 110, which took its place at the top of the range until production ceased, a few months after the very different P6 model 2000 had come along. These cars are popular classics these days.
There were plenty of TR models here, reflecting the popularity of this long-running and very British sports car. There were none of the TR2 and TR3 cars, so the earliest ones were the TR4 and TR4a. Code named “Zest” during development, the car was based on the chassis and drivetrain of the previous TR sports cars, but with a modern Michelotti styled body. The TR 4 engine was carried over from the earlier TR2/3 models, but the displacement was increased from 1991cc to 2138 cc by increasing the bore size. Gradual improvements in the manifolds and cylinder head allowed for some improvements culminating in the TR4A model. The 1991 cc engine became a no-cost option for those cars destined to race in the under-two-litre classes of the day. Some cars were fitted with vane-type superchargers, as the three main bearing engine was liable to crankshaft failure if revved beyond 6,500 rpm; superchargers allowed a TR4 to produce much more horse-power and torque at relatively modest revolutions. The standard engine produced 105 bhp but, supercharged and otherwise performance-tuned, a 2.2-litre I4 version could produce in excess of 200 bhp at the flywheel. The TR4, in common with its predecessors, was fitted with a wet-sleeve engine, so that for competition use the engine’s cubic capacity could be changed by swapping the cylinder liners and pistons, allowing a competitor to race under different capacity rules (i.e. below or above 2 litres for example). Other key improvements over the TR3 included a wider track front and rear, slightly larger standard engine displacement, full synchromesh on all forward gears, and rack and pinion steering. In addition, the optional Laycock de Normanville electrically operated overdrive Laycock Overdrive could now be selected for 2nd and 3rd gear as well as 4th, effectively providing the TR4 with a seven-speed manual close ratio gearbox. The TR4 was originally fitted with 15×4.5″ disc wheels. Optional 48-lace wire wheels could be ordered painted the same colour as the car’s bodywork (rare), stove-enamelled (matte silver with chrome spinners, most common) or in matte or polished chrome finishes (originally rare, but now more commonly fitted). The most typical tyre originally fitted was 590-15 bias ply or optional radial tires. In the US at one point, American Racing alloy (magnesium and aluminium) wheels were offered as an option, in 15×5.5″ or 15×6″ size. Tyres were a problem for original owners who opted for 60-spoke wire wheels, as the correct size radial-ply tyre for the factory rims was 155-15, an odd-sized tyre at the time only available from Michelin at considerable expense. Some original TR4 sales literature says the original radial size was 165-15. The much more common 185-15 radials were too wide to be fitted safely. As a result, many owners had new and wider rims fitted and their wheels re-laced. The new TR4 body style did away with the classical cutaway door design of the previous TRs to allow for wind-down (roll-up) windows (in place of less convenient side-curtains), and the angular rear allowed a boot (trunk) with considerable capacity for a sports car. Advanced features included the use of adjustable fascia ventilation, and the option of a unique hard top that consisted of a fixed glass rear window (called a backlight) with an integral rollbar and a detachable, steel centre panel (aluminium for the first 500 units). This was the first such roof system on a production car and preceded by 5 years the Porsche 911/912 Targa, which has since become a generic name for this style of top. On the TR4 the rigid roof panel was replaceable with an easily folded and stowed vinyl insert and supporting frame called a Surrey Top. The entire hard top assembly is often mistakenly referred to as a Surrey Top. In original factory parts catalogues the rigid top and backlight assembly is listed as the Hard Top kit. The vinyl insert and frame are offered separately as a Surrey Top. Features such as wind-down windows were seen as a necessary step forward to meet competition and achieve good sales in the important US market, where the vast majority of TR4s were eventually sold. Dealers had concerns that buyers might not fully appreciate the new amenities, therefore a special short run of TR3As (commonly called TR3Bs) was produced in 1961 and ’62. The TR4 proved very successful and continued the rugged, “hairy-chested” image that the previous TRs had enjoyed. 40,253 cars were built during production years. Most were sold new to the US, but plenty have returned, and it is estimated that there are not far short of 900 examples of the model in the UK at present.
Replacement for the TR4 was – predictably – the Triumph TR5, which was built for a 13-month period between August 1967 and September 1968. Visually identical to the Michelotti styled TR4,the TR5 hid the main differences under the body. The most significant change from the TR4 was the 2.5-litre straight-6 fuel-injected engine, developing around 145 hp, and which was carried forward to the TR6. At the time, fuel injection (or PI petrol injection, as it was sometimes then called) was uncommon in road cars. Triumph claimed in their sales brochure that it was the “First British production sports car with petrol injection”. Sadly, it was also somewhat troublesome, with mechanical issues a common occurrence. A carburetted version of the TR5 named Triumph TR250 was manufactured during the same period, to be sold in place of the fuel injected car on the North American market. A few of these have now been brought over to the UK and indeed there were both TR250 and TR5 cars here. The Triumph TR250, built during the same period for the North American market, was nearly identical to the TR5. But, because of price pressures and emission regulations the TR250 was fitted with twin Zenith-Stromberg carburettors rather than the Lucas fuel injection system. The reasons for this difference came down to price pressures of the American market, and tighter emissions regulations. The TR250’s straight-six engine delivered 111 bhp , 39 bhp less than the TR5; 0–60 mph acceleration took 10.6 seconds. Standard equipment on both models included front disc brakes, independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering and a four speed gearbox. Optional extras included overdrive and wire wheels. Both the TR5 and the TR250 were available with the “Surrey Top” hard top system: a weather protection system with rigid rear section including the rear window and removable fabric section over the driver and passenger’s heads.
There were plenty of the TR6, my favourite of all the TRs here. By the mid 1960s, money was tight, so when it came to replacing the TR4 and TR5 models, Triumph were forced into trying to minimise the costs of the redesign, which meant that they kept the central section of the old car, but came up with new bodywork with the front and back ends were squared off, reportedly based on a consultancy contract involving Karmann. The resulting design, which did look modern when it was unveiled in January 1969 has what is referred to as a Kamm tail, which was very common during 1970s era of cars and a feature on most Triumphs of the era. All TR6 models featured inline six-cylinder engines. For the US market the engine was carburetted, as had been the case for the US-only TR250 engine. Like the TR5, the TR6 was fuel-injected for other world markets including the United Kingdom, hence the TR6PI (petrol-injection) designation. The Lucas mechanical fuel injection system helped the home-market TR6 produce 150 bhp at model introduction. Later, the non-US TR6 variant was detuned to 125 bhp for it to be easier to drive, while the US variant continued to be carburetted with a mere 104 hp. Sadly, the Lucas injection system proved somewhat troublesome, somewhat denting the appeal of the car. The TR6 featured a four-speed manual transmission. An optional overdrive unit was a desirable feature because it gave drivers close gearing for aggressive driving with an electrically switched overdrive which could operate on second, third, and fourth gears on early models and third and fourth on later models because of constant gearbox failures in second at high revs. Both provided “long legs” for open motorways. TR6 also featured semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering, 15-inch wheels and tyres, pile carpet on floors and trunk/boot, bucket seats, and a full complement of instrumentation. Braking was accomplished by disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear. A factory steel hardtop was optional, requiring two people to fit it. TR6 construction was fundamentally old-fashioned: the body was bolted onto a frame instead of the two being integrated into a unibody structure; the TR6 dashboard was wooden (plywood with veneer). Other factory options included a rear anti-roll bar and a limited-slip differential. Some say that the car is one of Leyland’s best achievements, but a number of issues were present and remain because of poor design. As well as the fuel injection problems, other issues include a low level radiator top-up bottle and a poor hand-brake. As is the case with other cars of the era, the TR6 can suffer from rust issues, although surviving examples tend to be well-cared for. The TR6 can be prone to overheating. Many owners fit an aftermarket electric radiator fan to supplement or replace the original engine-driven fan. Also the Leyland factory option of an oil cooler existed. Despite the reliability woes, the car proved popular, selling in greater quantity than any previous TR, with 94,619 of them produced before production ended in mid 1976. Of these, 86,249 were exported and only 8,370 were sold in the UK. A significant number have since been re-imported, as there are nearly 3000 of these much loved classics on the road and a further 1300 on SORN, helped by the fact that parts and services to support ownership of a TR6 are readily available and a number of classic car owners’ clubs cater for the model.
There were a few Stag models present on the Saturday and quite a few more on the Sunday. A couple of the Triumphs present were the Stag. Envisioned as a luxury sports car, this car was designed to compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz SL. It started as a styling experiment, cut and shaped from a 1963–4 Triumph 2000 pre-production saloon, which had also been styled by Michelotti, and loaned to him by Harry Webster, Director of Engineering at Triumph. Their agreement was that if Webster liked the design, Triumph could use the prototype as the basis of a new Triumph model. Harry Webster, who was a long time friend of Giovanni Michelotti, whom he called “Micho”, loved the design and took the prototype back to England. The end result, a two-door drop head (convertible), had little in common with the styling of its progenitor 2000, but retained the suspension and drive line. Triumph liked the Michelotti design so much that they propagated the styling lines of the Stag into the new Mark 2 2000/2500 saloon and estate. The initial Stag design was based around the saloon’s 2.5-litre six cylinder engine, but Harry Webster intended the Stag, large saloons and estate cars to use a new Triumph-designed overhead cam 2.5-litre fuel injected V8. Under the direction of Harry Webster’s successor, Spen King in 1968, the new Triumph OHC 2.5 PI V8 was enlarged to 2997 cc to increase torque. To meet emission standards in the USA, a key target market, the troublesome mechanical fuel injection was dropped in favour of dual Zenith-Stromberg 175 CDSE carburettors. A key aim of Triumph’s engineering strategy at the time was to create a family of engines of different size around a common crankshaft. This would enable the production of power plants of capacity between 1.5 and 4 litres, sharing many parts, and hence offering economies of manufacturing scale and of mechanic training. A number of iterations of this design went into production, notably a slant four-cylinder engine used in the later Triumph Dolomite and Triumph TR7, and a variant manufactured by StanPart that was initially used in the Saab 99. The Stag’s V8 was the first of these engines into production. Sometimes described as two four-cylinder engines Siamesed together, it is more correct to say that the later four-cylinder versions were half a Stag engine. It has sometimes been alleged that Triumph were instructed to use the proven all-aluminium Rover V8, originally designed by Buick, but claimed that it would not fit. Although there was a factory attempt by Triumph to fit a Rover engine, which was pronounced unsuccessful, the decision to go with the Triumph V8 was probably driven more by the wider engineering strategy and by the fact that the Buick’s different weight and torque characteristics would have entailed substantial re-engineering of the Stag when it was almost ready to go on sale. Furthermore Rover, also owned by British Leyland, could not necessarily have supplied the numbers of V8 engines to match the anticipated production of the Stag anyway. As in the Triumph 2000 model line, unitary construction was employed, as was fully independent suspension – MacPherson struts in front, semi-trailing arms at the rear. Braking was by front disc and rear drum brakes, while steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. Although other bodystyles were envisaged, these never made production, so all Stags were four-seater convertible coupés. For structural rigidity – and to meet new American rollover standards of the time – the Stag required a B-pillar “roll bar” hoop connected to the windscreen frame by a T-bar. A removable hardtop was a popular factory option for the early Stags, and was later supplied as a standard fitment. The car was launched one year late in 1970, to a warm welcome at the various international auto shows. Sadly, it rapidly acquired a reputation for mechanical unreliability, usually in the form of overheating. These problems arose from a variety of causes, all of which are now well understood, and for which solutions have been identified, but at the time, they really hurt the reputation and hence sales of the car. They ranged from late changes to the engine which gave rise to design features that were questionable from an engineering perspective, the choice of materials which necessitated the use of antifreeze all year round, the engine’s use of long, simplex roller link chains, which would first stretch and then often fail inside fewer than 25,000 miles; the arrangement of the cylinder head fixing studs, half of which were vertical and the other half at an angle causing sideways forces which caused premature failure of the cylinder head gaskets. and poor quality production from a plant troubled with industrial unrest and poor quality control. At the time, British Leyland never provided a budget sufficient to correct the few design shortcomings of the Triumph 3.0 litre OHC V8, and the dealers did not help matters. The Stag was always a relatively rare car. British Leyland had around 2,500 UK dealers when the Stag was on sale and a total of around 19,000 were sold in the UK. Thus the average dealer sold only seven or eight Stags during the car’s whole production run, or roughly one car per year. This meant that few dealers saw defective Stags often enough to recognise and diagnose the cause of the various problems. Many owners simply replaced the engine altogether, often with the Rover V8, Ford Essex V6, or even the Triumph 6-cylinder engine around which the car was originally designed. Perhaps thanks to such a reputation for its unreliable engine, only 25,877 cars were produced between 1970 and 1977. Of this number, 6780 were export models, of which 2871 went to the United States. The majority of cars were fitted with a Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic transmission. The other choice was a derivative of the ancient Triumph TR2 gearbox which had been modified and improved over the years for use in the TR series of sports cars. Other than the choice of transmissions there were very few factory-installed options. On early cars buyers could choose to have the car fitted with just the soft-top, just the hard-top (with the hood storage compartment empty) or with both. Later cars were supplied with both roofs. Three wheel styles were offered. The standard fitments were steel wheels with Rostyle “tin-plate” trims. Five-spoke alloy wheels were an option, as were a set of traditional steel spoke wheels with “knock-off”‘ hubcaps. The latter were more commonly found on Stags sold in North America on Federal Specification vehicles. Electric windows, power steering and power-assisted brakes were standard. Options included air conditioning, a luggage rack, uprated Koni shock absorbers, floor mats and Lucas Square Eight fog lamps, and a range of 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.
The TR’s smaller and cheaper brother was the Spitfire and there was an example of the Series IV, from the later part of a long production life. Based on the chassis and mechanicals of the Triumph Herald, the Spitfire was conceived as a rival to the Austin-Healey Sprite and MG Midget, which were launched a year earlier. The Triumph soon found a strong following, with many preferring it to the BMC cars which in time would become in-house stablemates. Mark II models arrived in 1965 and a more comprehensive facelift in 1967 with the distinctive “bone in mouth” front grille necessitated by US bumper height regulations also brought changes, but it was with the Mark IV that the greatest number of alterations would come about. The Mark IV featured a completely re-designed cut-off rear end, giving a strong family resemblance to the Triumph Stag and Triumph 2000 models, both of which were also Michelotti-designed. The front end was also cleaned up, with a new bonnet pressing losing the weld lines on top of the wings from the older models, and the doors were given recessed handles and squared-off glass in the top rear corner. The interior was much improved: a proper full-width dashboard was provided, putting the instruments ahead of the driver rather than over the centre console. This was initially black plastic however was replaced with wood in 1973. An all-new hardtop was also available, with rear quarter-lights and a flatter rear screen. By far the most significant change, however, was to the rear suspension, which was de-cambered and redesigned to eliminate the unfortunate tendencies of the original swing-axle design. The Triumph GT6 and Triumph Vitesse had already been modified, and the result on all these cars was safe and progressive handling even at the limit. The 75 hp engine was now rated at 63 hp (for UK market employing the 9:1 compression ratio and twin SU HS2 carburettors; the less powerful North American version still used a single Zenith Stromberg carburettor and an 8.5:1 compression ratio) due to the German DIN system; the actual output was the same for the early Mark IV. However, it was slightly slower than the previous Mark III due to carrying more weight, and employing a taller 3.89:1 final drive as opposed to the earlier 4.11:1. The engine continued at 1296 cc, but in 1973 was modified with larger big-end bearings to rationalise production with the TR6 2.5 litre engines, which somewhat decreased its “revvy” nature; there was some detuning, to meet new emissions laws, which resulted in the new car being a little tamer. With the overall weight also increasing to 1,717 lb (779 kg) the performance dropped as a consequence, 0 to 60 mph now being achieved in 15.8 seconds and the top speed reducing to 90 mph. The overall fuel economy also dipped to 32mpg. The gearbox gained synchromesh on its bottom gear. The Mark IV went on sale in the UK at the end of 1970 with a base price of £735. In 1973 in the United States and Canada, and 1975 in the rest of the world, the 1500 engine was used to make the Spitfire 1500. Although in this final incarnation the engine was rather rougher and more prone to failure than the earlier units, torque was greatly increased by increasing the cylinder stroke to 87.5 mm (3.44 in), which made it much more drivable in traffic. While the rest of the world saw 1500s with the compression ratio reduced to 8.0:1, the American market model was fitted with a single Zenith-Stromberg carburettor and a compression ratio reduced to 7.5:1 to allow it to run on lower octane unleaded fuel, and after adding a catalytic converter and exhaust gas recirculating system, the engine only delivered 53 bhp with a slower 0–60 time of 16.3 seconds. The notable exception to this was the 1976 model year, where the compression ratio was raised to 9.1:1. This improvement was short-lived, however, as the ratio was again reduced to 7.5:1 for the remaining years of production. In the UK the 9:1 compression ratio, less restrictive emissions control equipment, and the Type HS2 SU carburettors now being replaced with larger Type HS4 models, led to the most powerful variant to date. The 1500 Spitfire now produced 71hp (DIN) at 5500 rpm, and produced 82 lb/ft of torque at 3000 rpm. Top speed was now at the magical 100 mph mark, and 0 to 60 mph was reached in 13.2 seconds. Fuel economy was reduced to 29mpg. Further improvements to the suspension followed with the 1500 included longer swing axles and a lowered spring mounting point for more negative camber and a wider rear track. The wider, lower stance gave an impressive skid pad result of 0.87g average. This put the Spitfire head and shoulders over its competition in handling. The American market Spitfire 1500 is easily identified by the big plastic over-riders and wing mounted reflectors on the front and back wings. The US specification models up to 1978 still had chrome bumpers, but on the 1979 and 1980 models these were replaced by black rubber bumpers with built-in over-riders. Chassis extensions were also fitted under the boot to support the bumpers. Detail improvements continued to be made throughout the life of the Mark IV, and included reclining seats with “chequered brushed nylon centre panels” and head restraints, introduced for domestic market cars early in 1977 along with a new set of column stalk operated minor controls (as fitted already in the TR7) replacing the old dashboard mounted knobs and switches. Also added for the model’s final years were a wood dash, hazard flashers and an electric screen washer, in place of the previous manual pump operated ones. Options such as the hard top, tonneau cover, map light and overdrive continued to be popular, but wire wheels ceased to be available. The 1980 model was the last and the heaviest of the entire run, weighing 1,875 lb (850.5 kg). Base prices for the 1980 model year was £3,631 in the UK. The last Spitfire, an Inca Yellow UK-market model with hardtop and overdrive, rolled off the assembly line at Canley in August 1980, shortly before the factory closed. It was never sold and is now displayed at the museum at Gaydon.
There were also a couple of examples of the closed Coupe derivative, the GT6, seen here in final Mark III guise and in he very period Magenta colour. The Mark III was launched in the autumn of 1970 and the styling changes mirrored those made to create the Spitfire Mk IV. These included a cut-off rear end, recessed door handles and a smoother front end. Only detail changes were made to the mechanics, but in 1973 – close to the end of the car’s production life – the rear suspension was changed again, this time for the cheaper (but still effective) “swing-spring” layout fitted to the Spitfire Mk IV. This was a modification of the swing axle rear suspension used on the Herald-derived models, with the transverse leaf spring mounted on a pivot, eliminating roll stiffness at the rear, and thus greatly reducing the jacking effect under cornering loads. To compensate for this loss of roll stiffness, a larger front anti-roll bar was fitted. A brake servo was also added in 1973, and seats were changed from vinyl to cloth. There was still a fairly comprehensive options list, but the knock-on wire wheels were no longer available. The unladen weight increased slightly to 2,030 lb. Engine power and torque for the Mk III was similar to the Mk II, but better aerodynamics led to a new top speed of 112 mph and a 0–60 mph time of 10.1 seconds. Performance was now comfortably ahead of the MGB GT, which reached about 105 mph and 60 mph in approximately 13 seconds. Fuel economy was also improved to 28 mpg. The last USA models relatively performed poorly owing to the compression ratios being reduced to allow the use of lower octane unleaded gasoline. The Mk III never sold in the numbers hoped for by Triumph, and was comprehensively beaten in the marketplace by the MGB. Triumph refused to release an official convertible version of the GT6 and, after poor sales, it was dropped from the Triumph range at the end of 1973, although a few cars were sold the following year.
The local branch of the TBR Owners Club had a good number of cars on show. Oldest of these was a 400SE, one of the “wedge” series of cars which started out when TVR replaced their long-running shape with something really quite radical looking in early 1980. with the Tasmin. During the 1970s, when Martin Lilley started to look where to take the Blackpool based company next, he noted that Lotus appeared to have reinvented itself with the Elite, Eclat and Esprit, losing much of the kit-car image in the process, and he thought he needed to do something similar. He needed a new design language, so he contacted Oliver Winterbottom who had done the Elite/Eclat for the Norfolk firm, hoping for something new. The wedge-shaped design that Winterbottom created was produced in 1977, and a prototype was created the following year, before the new car’s launch very early in 1980. Based on the Taimar, but with very different wedge styling, the car was not exactly received with massive enthusiasm. The styling looked a bit like yesterday’s car, as the wedge era was on the wane, and the car’s price pitched it against cars like the Porsche 924 Turbo. Development of the new car had drained TVR’s finances, which led to Lilley ceding control of the company in 1981 to Peter Wheeler. The convertible that followed helped matters a bit, whereas the 2 litre 200 and the 2+2 model did not, but in 1983, TVR announced a revised version with the potent Rover 3.5 litre V8 under the bonnet, in lieu of the 2.8 litre Ford Essex unit, and it transformed the car. It was just what was needed, and over the next few years, a series of ever more potent models, with ever wilder styling came into the range. By 1986, the 450SEAC boasted 340 bhp, making this something of a supercar.
Taking some styling cues from the earlier 3000S was this car, the rather later and more modern S2. The TVR S Series was announced at the 1986 British International Motor Show, initially as a concept. Due to a massive positive response, the car went into production in less than 12 months, with 250 pre-manufacture orders. This was Peter Wheeler’s first major development since buying the company from Martin Lilley, and the turning point in TVR’s fortunes, which had struggled with the “Wedge” based cars that had been introduced in 1980 to replace the long running M Series models. With styling which looked more like these popular M Series cars, the first S Series cars used Ford’s Cologne V6 in 2.8 litre 160 hp and for the later S2 to S4 had the later 2.9 litre 170 hp unit. TVR made frequent updates to the cars, moving from those retrospectively called the S1 to S2 and later S3 and S4 in short succession. The S3 and S4 received longer doors, although some late S2’s were also thus equipped. Vehicle models ending with “C” were used to denote vehicles which were fitted with a catalytic converter. Only the S3 and S4 were fitted with catalysts. The Cat was only introduced to the UK in August 1992, at “K” registration, but catalysed cars were produced before that, intended for export to markets with tighter emissions standards. Just as they had done with the “wedges”, TVR found more excitement by putting the Rover V8 engine under the bonnet of the car in lieu of the Ford unit, though the two models were offered in parallel. The V8S used a 4.0 litre fuel-injected Rover V8 engine, with gas-flowed cylinder heads, higher lift camshaft, compression ratio upped to 10:5:1, revised manifold, new chip for the engine management system and a limited slip differential. The result was 240 bhp at 5250 rpm and 270 lb/ft of torque at 3000 rpm. The V8S had a number of cosmetic differences over the V6. The bonnet had a large hump – created to house the Italian specification supercharger but carried over to all V8S models. The V8S had a small vent facing the windscreen, whereas S1 to S3 models face forward. Very late S3 and S4 models had no hump at all. As with all TVR’s there is no specific point in time when they changed styles, probably when they ran out! The suspension track was slightly wider on the V8S achieved with revised wishbones at the front and revised trailing arms at the rear. Disc brakes are fitted all round. The standard specification of the V8S included ½ hide leather interior, walnut trim, mohair hood, OZ alloy wheels, driving lamps, electric windows and door mirrors. 0-60 mph could be achieved in 4.9 seconds and 0-100 mph in 12.9 seconds. It was faster than an Aston Martin Virage, a Ferrari Testarossa, Lotus Esprit Turbo SE and Porsche Carrera 2 the supercars of the early 1990s. Between 1986 and 1994 2,604 S Series cars were made; 410 of these were of the V8S variety.
TVR really came good in the early 1990s. Having shown a new concept at every Motor Show in the second half of the 1980s, none of which went into production (luckily in the case of some of them!), Peter Wheeler hit the bulls eye with the Griffith in 1990, and a lot of work was undertaken to get it into a state in which the car could be sold. For many, it remains the best TVR ever, but it was the slightly toned down and cheaper brother that followed a few months later which achieved far greater sales volume. That car was the Chimaera and there were examples of both of these models types here.
There were a couple of examples of the T350C, a model produced from 2002 to 2006. It was based on the Tamora, and was powered by TVR’s Speed Six engine in 3.6 litre form, producing 350 hp. The T350 was available in coupe and targa versions, the coupe version being known as the T350C, and the targa version the T350T. The T350 later formed the base of the TVR Sagaris. Function dominates form evident by the car’s aero-dynamic design which was created for maximum downforce and minimal drag. The smooth frontal nose and the sharp rear cut tail allowed the car to be aerodynamically efficient while reducing drag. The sloping rear line of the car ensured that the car generates minimum lift at high speeds. The car shared many components with the entry level Tamora such as the interior, multi-function display and analogue metres. The optional Sport package added extra options in the multi-functional display such as lap-times, oil temperature and water temperature. The fastback design of the car gave the customer an advantage of increased boot space, making it one of the more practical of TVR models.
Final TVR present was a Tamora, this car was launched in 2002, as the entry point of the range, taking over from the Chimaera. It was fitted with TVR’s in-house ‘Speed Six’, a DOHC 3605 cc six-cylinder engine rated at 350 hp and 290 lb/ft of torque at 5500 rpm, mated to a five-speed manual. Brake rotors were 12.0 inches up front, and 11.1 inches in the back, both clamped by AP Racing calipers. The suspension is a double wishbone setup at all four corners. Standard wheels are 16×7 inch aluminium, with 225/50ZR-16 Avon ZZ3 tyres. The Tamora was built on a 93-inch wheelbase, and the car’s overall profile measured 154.5 inches long, 67.5 inches wide and 47.4 inches high. It weighed 2,337 pounds, with 58/42 weight distribution. Keeping with the TVR tradition, the Tamora lacked driving aids such as traction control and ABS as well as air bags. It was still in production when TVR went bankrupt in 2006.
In previous years, there have been an array of Chevette and Cavalier models, but they were conspicuous by their absence here. That meant that the oldest and rarest Vauxhall on show was an example of the “droop snoot” Firenza. The story of the Firenza goes back to May 1971 when Vauxhall launched a Coupé version of the HC Viva that had premiered the previous autumn, in the hope that this would give them a rival to Ford’s Capri and the new Morris Marina Coupe. The initial Firenza was available in a base model 1159 cc overhead valve and two models with overhead camshaft, in 1598 cc and 1975 cc variants. The latter was the same engine as used in the earlier Viva GT. Some six months after launch, in December 1971, performance was boosted when the engine capacities were enlarged to 1256 cc, 1798 cc and 2279 cc respectively. All models had a front-mounted four-cylinder engine driving the rear wheels. Suspension was double wishbone and coilsprings at the front, and a live rear axle with trailing arms and coils at the rear. The SL model in each engine size carried the highest level of trim. The model changes in early 1972 included the introduction of a top-of-the-line 2300 Sport SL model (introduced at the Geneva Motor Show), using the 2279 cc engine. The 2300 Sport SL was the only version to feature the seven dial dash (speedometer, clock, rev counter, fuel, oil pressure, water temp, & battery charge). The engine was an inclined four-cylinder with single overhead camshaft and twin Stromberg carburettors, producing 122 bhp. The oversquare straight four engine was renowned for its big torque curve, making the car very flexible and easy to drive. The interior was equipped with bucket seats, front and back, to carry four persons. The centre console with heater controls and warning lights was quite distinctive and luxurious for the time. The 2300 Sport SL was raced by the Dealer Team Vauxhall, following their successes with the Viva GT. In Castrol colours, these cars enjoyed many successes. A limited edition version of the Firenza was built in South Africa, using the Z28 engine from the Chevrolet Camaro, in order to qualify the vehicle for racing. In 1973, Vauxhall acknowledged that their rather dull model range needed a makeover, and developed a radical version of the Firenza, known officially as the High Performance (HP) Firenza, but known colloquially as the “droopsnoot” after its dramatically styled aerodynamic nose. The nose was moulded from GRP, and featured two pairs of Cibié headlamps behind toughened glass covers. The overall look was somewhat reminiscent of the Renault Alpine A310, and used the same headlamp units. Several prototypes of the HP Firenza were considered with different types of front end treatment, requiring different degrees of change from the standard production front end, including cars known as Black Knight and Daytona, the latter for its resemblance to the Ferrari Daytona, a favourite of Wayne Cherry. At that time, the original flat-fronted Firenza model was rebadged as the Magnum coupé, and the name Firenza was used exclusively for the HP version. This car was an exciting styling departure for Vauxhall, and certainly created something of a buzz. The engine was the 2.3-litre variant of the OHC Slant Four engine, uprated to a very torquey 131 bhp using a variety of parts developed by Blydenstein Racing. It had twin 175 Stromberg carburettors, high-lift camshaft and free-flow tubular exhaust manifold. The car was restyled on the David Jones original by American designer Wayne Cherry and the result was an exceptionally low drag coefficient for its time. Suspension was uprated and lowered, brakes uprated, and a 5-speed ZF dog leg gearbox was installed, a much stronger unit than fitted to the standard model (though rather noisy). Another unusual and unique feature of the car was the alloy Avon Safety Wheels, which were designed to retain the tyre safely in the event of a puncture. This was the first car to use these wheels in production. All production cars were painted in the same colour – Silver Starfire, and featured a largely black interior with silver-grey cloth seats. An unusual interior feature of dubious utility was the passenger grab handle on the dash in place of the standard glovebox. The car was a design triumph for Vauxhall, but a marketing failure. The car was launched to much publicity in a special one-off race at Thruxton circuit in Hampshire, with top drivers of the day taking part including Gerry Marshall and Barry “Whizzo” Williams, who won the race. However, the fuel crisis of the time meant that suddenly it became very hard to sell gas-guzzling cars like this (even though the aerodynamics increased fuel economy greatly, reducing the power needed to attain its top speed by some 30 hp), and coupled with some production line difficulties in actually building the car meant that sales and delivery were slow, and eventually just 204 examples were built, far short of the 30,000 projected. This very low volume was obviously a disaster for Vauxhall, but ironically it has led to the car becoming a very collectible classic, thus ensuring its survival—some of the much more common production cars produced alongside it can be now harder to find. Celebrity owners of droopsnoot Firenzas are footballer Luther Blissett and former sports commentator Stuart Hall. The Firenza was also very successful in saloon car racing in the 1970s, especially in its Old Nail and Baby Bertha versions, piloted to great effect by Gerry Marshall.
Since the Monaro, Vauxhall have offered potent Saloon models based on the latest Holden Commodores, variously badged VXR8 and VXR. These continue to be among the cheapest routes into V8 muscle-car motoring available to new car buyers in the UK, with prices at least £20k less than the German rivals. Whilst some of the reason for that is obvious when you look inside at the rather ordinary looking trim and finish, for those who want the most performance for the money, these are well worth considering new, and with savage depreciation afflicting them, even better value second hand, though the running costs (largely thanks to the very heavy fuel consumption and fiscally-challenged CO2 ratings) could prove ruinous. Seen here is a VXR GTS model.
IN THE CAR PARKS
With the general parking only a proverbial stone’s throw from the Car Club display areas, taking a look around the general parking was an obvious thing to do, and my visits there yielded quite an array of cars that I thought were camera worthy, and here they are.
There were a couple of 595 models that I found here. I did not recognise the pates of either, so can only surmise that they belong to people who are not part of the Owners Club, and therefore would be unaware that there would be some marque specific parking only a few paces away.
This was a nice Cobra-style replica.
Having a rather short production life was the GTA version of the 147. Launched in 2002. this car was intended to compete with the most sporting Golf and Focus models of the day. as well as injecting more potency into a range which always seemed like it needed more power. Fitted with a 3.2 V6 engine which produced 247 bhp, the 147GTA was the most powerful hot hatch available at the time, and the modifications to the body, including lower sills and wider wheel arches, if anything, made it look even better rather than endowing it with the sort of “after market look” that can afflict some high end performance versions of regular family cars. Performance figures were impressive, with the car able to achieve a top speed of 153 mph. It had a widened body by 15 mm at each side to accommodate the 225/45R17 tyres. Most models had a 6-speed manual transmissions; whilst a smaller number of other models used the semi automatic Selespeed system. Production ran through to 2004 and in total 5,029 147 GTAs were built, 1004 of which were Selespeeds. Only around 300 came to the UK, so this was never a common sighting on British roads.
With the DB7, produced from September 1994 to December 2004, Aston Martin made more cars from a single model than all Astons previously made, with over 7000 built. Known internally as the NPX project, the DB7 was made mostly with resources from Jaguar and had the financial backing of the Ford Motor Company, owner of Aston Martin from 1988 to 2007. The DB7’s platform was an evolution of the Jaguar XJS’s, though with many changes. The styling started life as the still-born Jaguar F type (XJ41 – coupe / XJ42 – convertible) designed by Keith Helfet. Ford cancelled this car and the general design was grafted onto an XJS platform. The styling received modest changes by Ian Callum so that it looked like an Aston Martin. The first generation Jaguar XK-8 also uses an evolution of the XJ-S/DB7 platform and the cars share a family resemblance, though the Aston Martin was significantly more expensive and rare. The prototype was complete by November 1992, and debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in March, 1993, with the car positioned as an “entry-level” model below the hand-built V8 Virage introduced a few years earlier. With production of the Virage (soon rechristened “V8” following Vantage styling revisions) continuing at Newport Pagnell, a new factory was acquired at Bloxham, Oxfordshire that had previously been used to produce the Jaguar XJ220, where every DB7 would be built throughout its production run. The DB7 and its relatives were the only Aston Martins produced in Bloxham and the only ones with a steel unit construction inherited from Jaguar . Aston Martin had traditionally used aluminium for the bodies of their cars, and models introduced after the DB7 use aluminium for the chassis as well as for many major body parts. The convertible Volante version was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in 1996. Both versions have a supercharged straight-six engine that produced 335 bhp and 361 lb·ft of torque. The Works Service provided a special Driving Dynamics package, which greatly enhanced performance and handling for drivers who wanted more than what the standard configuration offered. In 1999, the more powerful DB7 V12 Vantage was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show. Its 5.9 litre, 48-valve, V12 engine produced 420 bhp and 400 lb·ft of torque. It has a compression ratio of 10.3:1. Transmissions were available with either a TREMEC T-56 six speed manual or a ZF 5HP30 five speed automatic gearbox. Aston Martin claimed it had a top speed of either 186 mph with the manual gearbox or 165 mph with the automatic gearbox, and would accelerate from 0–60 mph in 4.9 seconds. It is 4,692 mm long, 1,830 mm (72.0 in) wide, 1,243 mm (48.9 in) high, with a weight of 1,800 kg (3,968.3 lb). After the launch of the Vantage, sales of the supercharged straight-6 engine DB7 had reduced considerably and so production was ended by mid-1999. In 2002, a new variant was launched, named V12 GT or V12 GTA when equipped with an automatic transmission. It was essentially an improved version of the Vantage, its V12 engine producing 435 bhp and 410 lb·ft of torque for the manual GT, although the automatic GTA retained the 420 bhp and 400 lb·ft of torque of the standard DB7 Vantage. Additionally, the GT and GTA chassis had substantially updated suspension from the DB7 Vantage models. Aesthetically, compared to the Vantage it has a mesh front grille, vents in the bonnet, a boot spoiler, an aluminium gear lever, optional carbon fibre trim and new wheels. It also has 14.0 in front and 13.0 in rear vented disc brakes made by Brembo. When being tested by Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear in 2003, he demonstrated the car’s ability to pull away in fourth gear and continue until it hit the rev limiter: the speedometer indicated 135 mph. Production of the GT and GTA was extremely limited, as only 190 GT’s and 112 GTA’s were produced worldwide with 17 of them shipped to the US market, for a total of 302 cars
Audi’s R8 has been around for nearly 10 years now, and it still draws the crowds.
Follow on to the 456GT was the 612 Scaglietti. Launched in 2004, this large 4 seater would be produced until 2011 when it was replaced by the FF. It never quite hit the spot for many people and the fact that Ferrari made few changes to it during its life makes you wonder if they really loved it like some of the other models in the range.
Once a very common sight on our roads, as this was Britain’s best seller, with between 12 – 15 % of the market, the Cortina 80, seen here in volume-selling 1.6 L guise is a rarity now. The car was announced on 24 August 1979. Officially the programme was code named Teresa, although externally it was marketed as “Cortina 80”, but the Mark V tag was given to it immediately on release by the press, insiders and the general public. Largely an update to the Mark IV, it was really a step between a facelift and a rebody. The Mark V differentiated itself from the Mark IV by having revised headlights with larger turn indicators incorporated (which were now visible on the side too), a wider slatted grille said to be more aerodynamically efficient, a flattened roof, larger glass area, slimmer C-pillars with revised vent covers, larger slatted tail lights (on saloon models) and upgraded trim. Improvements were also made to the engine range, with slight improvements to both fuel economy and power output compared to the Mark IV. The 2.3 litre V6 engine was given electronic ignition and a slight boost in power output to 116 bhp, compared to the 108 bhp of the Mark IV. Ford also claimed improved corrosion protection on Mark V models; as a result, more Mark Vs have survived; however, corrosion was still quite a problem. The estate models combined the Mark IV’s bodyshell (which was initially from the 1970 Ford Taunus) with Mark V front body pressings. A pick-up (“bakkie”) version was also built in South Africa. These later received a longer bed and were then marketed as the P100. Variants included the Base, L, GL, and Ghia (all available in saloon and estate forms), together with Base and L spec 2-door sedan versions (this bodystyle was available up to Ghia V6 level on overseas markets). The replacement for the previous Mark IV S models was an S pack of optional extras which was available as an upgrade on most Mark V models from L trim level upwards. For the final model year of 1982 this consisted of front and rear bumper overriders, sports driving lamps, an S badge on the boot, tachometer, 4 spoke steering wheel, revised suspension settings, front gas shock absorbers,’Sports’ gear lever knob, sports road wheels, 185/70 SR x 13 tyres and Fishnet Recaro sports seats (optional). Various “special editions” were announced, including the Calypso and Carousel. The final production model was the Crusader special edition which was available as a 1.3 litre, 1.6 litre, and 2.0 litre saloons or 1.6 litre and 2.0 litre estates. The Crusader was a final run-out model in 1982, along with the newly introduced Sierra. It was the best-specified Cortina produced to date and 30,000 were sold, which also made it Ford’s best-selling special edition model. Another special edition model was the Cortina Huntsman, of which 150 were produced. By this time, the Cortina was starting to feel the competition from a rejuvenated Vauxhall, which with the 1981 release Cavalier J-Car, was starting to make inroads on the Cortina’s traditional fleet market, largely helped by the front wheel drive benefits of weight. Up to and including 1981, the Cortina was the best selling car in Britain. Even during its final production year, 1982, the Cortina was Britain’s second best selling car and most popular large family car. On the continent, the Taunus version was competing with more modern and practical designs like the Talbot Alpine, Volkswagen Passat, and Opel Ascona. The very last Cortina – a silver Crusader – rolled off the Dagenham production line on 22 July 1982 on the launch of the Sierra, though there were still a few leaving the forecourt as late as 1987, with one final unregistered Cortina GL leaving a Derbyshire dealership in 2005. The last Cortina built remains in the Ford Heritage Centre in Dagenham, Essex, not far from the factory where it was assembled.
One of the rarest cars of the day was this rather splendid Piazza Turbo. In 1978, Isuzu commissioned Giorgetto Giugiaro to design a new sporty car to replace the 117 Coupe (also a Giugiaro design).They delivered several T Series Chevettes (developed in 1973 in South America) to the Italdesign studio in Italy and allowed Giugiaro free rein over the design. The result of this effort was the wedge-shaped three-door hatchback called the Asso di Fiori (“Ace of Clubs”) prototype and show car. It was shown at the 1979 Tokyo Motor Show to rave reviews. Giugiaro referred to the design as his fifth “Copernican revolution”, integrating the design innovations of many different previous designs into one, mass producible, vehicle. Within 48 hours of its unveiling at the Tokyo Motor Show, Isuzu fast tracked the vehicle into production with minimal changes to the design.Items that remained were the single blade front windshield wiper, and an integrated steering wheel adjustment that also moved the instrument cluster, with wiper controls and exterior lighting controls installed just behind the steering wheel on either side. The first Piazza rolled off the production line in September 1980 in Fujisawa, Japan, available with either 120 PS, 120 lb/ft 2.0 litre SOHC inline-four MPFI engine, a carryover from the Isuzu 117 Coupé, or a 135 PS, 123 lb/ft 2.0 litre DOHC MPFI I4 engine. Five-speed manual and 4-speed automatic transmissions were available, and all models were rear-wheel drive. In April 1984, a 180 PS, 185 lb/ft turbocharged SOHC I4 engine was introduced, and the DOHC naturally aspirated engine was phased out in years that followed. Piazzas were available in a multitude of trim levels including Bella, XN, XJ, XE, XG, Nero, and others. There were three different suspension tuning levels, standard, Irmscher, and Lotus. The car was launched in the US market as the Impulse in 1983. For the UK, it arrived in 1985, in only one trim level and only inTurbo form, with a 147 bhp 2.0 Turbocharged engine. The Piazza had a shaky start in the UK with the first importer Isuzu GB, based in Maidstone, Kent going out of business in 1986, and London car dealer Alan Day bought the remaining stock of Piazzas at a bargain price. These cars were sold by Alan Day at significantly reduced price; the main reason Isuzu GB went out of business was due to high unit price. In 1987 International Motors Group of West Bromwich (IM Group) were awarded the official Isuzu franchise for the UK. (They also at the time represented Subaru and Hyundai in the UK.) IM Group still marketed the Piazza in single trim/engine form, but they only sold the updated ‘Lotus’ Piazza. The earlier cars sold by Day became known as ‘pre-Lotus’ cars; the suspension and handling of these pre-Lotus cars was derided by UK Press as poor, especially the live axle arrangement at the rear, which by the late ’80s was seen to be antiquated. The updated ‘Handling by Lotus’ car was available from 1987 and the handling, although keeping the live axle arrangement, was transfomed by Lotus in the UK after significant development work, involving modified suspension layouts, larger brakes, specially produced dampers and Goodyear tyres. The ‘Handling by Lotus’ cars had updated interior and exterior equipment. The exterior having a redesigned rear, with a large ‘hoop’ spoiler, new rear lamps, new rear badging with ‘Handling by Lotus’ badges and removal of the rubber side bumper strakes for a cleaner, more modern look. The updated interior trim was mainly ‘tweed’ check fabric, an updated centre console, but the loss of air conditioning to keep the price down for the UK market. Isuzu (UK) Ltd, the West Bromwich-based importer, sold the Lotus Piazza from 1987 to 1989, before concentrating on the 4WD Isuzu Trooper. They never sold the second generation Piazza in the UK, nor was it sold in any European market.
There was another example of the stylish XK8 here.
Two very different Mercedes models caught my eye: the gull-wing doored SLS AMG and a relatively early G Wagen.
Among the large numbers of modern MINI was this 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 were a couple more Morgan cars in addition to those on the Club stand, Among them was an Aero 8
Considered by many to be the very best of the “hot” Peugeot models of the 1990s was the 306 Rallye. This was initially a UK-only model, launched in 1999. Mechanically the car was identical to a GTI-6, but had a minimal specification that deleted many GTI-6 standard features including fog lights, air conditioning, sunroof, electric windows, temperature sensor. Only 500 were produced in 3 non-metallic colours including; 100 in black, 200 in Cherry Red and 200 in Bianca White. While some were fitted with Phase 3 tailgates and bonnets, the car was basically a Phase 2 in terms of the fuse box and electrical wiring loom, including the use of Phase 2 remote locking. Seat upholstery was cloth in a specific Rallye pattern. The more austere specification led to the car being lighter than a GTI-6.
Among the various 911s models here was one of the special 50th anniversary cars as well as a 997 generation Turbo S.
There was another example of the Stag here, to complement the ones that were in the Club display.
Final car in this report and one needing little introduction is this Monaro, a more recent attempt by Vauxhall to bring some sparkle into their range. Although Vauxhall had abandoned the large car market with the end of production of the Omega in 2003, the Australian part of GM, Holden, has continued to produce large saloons – the Commodore – and to sell them with large V8 engines as these still appeal to the local Antipodean customers. So, the Monaro is no more than a rebadged Coupe version of the Holden Commodore, fitted with a series of 5.7 and 6.2 litre engines, offered for tens of thousands less than equivalently powerful German machines of this size. It found a narrow appeal as although the cars were cheap to buy, they were costly to run (fuel) and depreciation was savage, thanks to an extent to the lack of the prestige badge.
I left this event feeling somewhat disappointed. All the ingredients are there: the venue is excellent, and the concept and vision of the organisers is spot on, too, but yet again, the execution failed to live up to the potential, with this being the “thinnest” event yet of the five I have attended. Bad luck with the weather in the early years, and a venue that seemed spectacularly ill-prepared to cope with getting cars on and off site in thick mud must have been noted by plenty of those who have attended in the past, and this time, even more than was evident in 2015, people seemed to stay away – both those who might have brought a car to show in the Club displays as well the general public. Official visitor figures showed a massive reduction in total numbers attending, so it is perhaps no surprise that the venue has announced they need a rethink, and the event will not take place in 2017 whilst they consider what they need to do to realise the potential from all the ingredients. I do hope that they manage to figure out what that is, and to deliver against it.