By the middle of the year, it seemed as if the whole world, certainly the whole world of those interested in cars had heard about Caffeine & Machine. Indeed, not just heard about it, but also had been to sample the place. And in most cases, they were sufficiently enthused with what they found at this recently opened attraction, which combines a place to meet and grab a coffee or some rather tasty food with being a rendez-vous point just outside Stratford on Avon for car and bike enthusiasts, that it has become a regular haunt. After my initial visit in March when I brought a collection of Abarth owners to the location, I have made several more visits. Those which occurred in May and June of 2019 were featured in an initial report dedicated to presenting the more notable cars that I found on site on each occasion. This report follows a similar approach covering visits during July and August of 2019.
First of the two visits in scope for the report is a Sunday, in the height of summer. There’s lots going on over every weekend at this time of the year and indeed I had been at the inaugural SuperCar Fest at Shelsley Walsh the day before, choosing to stay over in Coventry having dropped my friend and passenger for the day, Andy Convery, off at his abode that evening. Rather than head straight home, I decided to drop into Caffeine & Machine, not least because before leaving my hotel I had seen their posts on Facebook announcing the presence on site of a very special and rather rare car, which I was anxious to see in the metal. It was mid morning when I arrived and the site was pretty busy, as you would expect on a sunny Sunday morning. Although I did not intend to stay very long, as car cars kept arriving. I did remain on site a lot longer then planned, which of course meant I got to see quite a variety of different cars of all types.
Barely was I parked up when I saw the first of what would turn out to be a number of Abarth models arriving. This is a popular for Abarth owners to come to, individually just as much part of some organised Club visit, so it was no surprise to see this 595 in the latest and rather eye-catching Adrenaline Green paintwork, or later to find that there was a Podium Blue car parked next to it. The Record Grey car belongs to a young enthusiast is often here.
Original Cobra models are few and far between but over the years there have been all manner of replica models, and continuation series cars, many of them built to a very high standard, and worth significant money in their own right. There were a couple of them here.
Replacement for the much loved 156 was the 159. The Alfa Romeo 159 had a troubled development, being designed in the midst of the Fiat-General Motors joint venture which was terminated in 2005. Originally, the 159 was intended to use GM’s Epsilon platform; however, late during its development it was changed to the GM/Fiat Premium platform. The Premium platform was more refined and expensive, being intended for E-segment executive cars such as an Alfa Romeo 166 successor but that never materialised, so Alfa Romeo attempted to recoup some of the platform development costs with the 159. General Motors originally planned Cadillac, Buick and Saab models for this platform but ending up discarded them over cost concerns. Unfortunately, the 159’s late transition to what was fundamentally made as an E-segment platform resulted in the 159 having excessive weight, a problem shared by its sisters, the Alfa Romeo Brera coupe and Spider convertible. The 159 was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro in collaboration with the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo. The nose featured a traditional Alfa Romeo V-shaped grille and bonnet, and cylindrical head light clusters. Similar to its coupé counterpart, front of the car was influenced by the Giugiaro designed 2002 Brera Concept. Several exterior design cues were intended to make the car appear larger, supposedly to appeal to potential buyers in the United States; however, the 159 was never exported to that region. The interior featured styling treatments familiar from earlier cars, including the 156, such as deeply recessed instruments which are angled towards the driver. Alfa Romeo intended for the 159 to compete more directly with BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi by using higher quality interior materials; however, it has been said that Alfa Romeo misjudged their brand’s positioning relative to the more well-known German luxury automakers. Several levels of trim were available, depending on market. Four trim levels: Progression, Distinctive, Exclusive and Turismo Internazionale (TI) featured across Europe. In the UK there were three levels of trim: Turismo, Lusso and Turismo Internazionale (TI). A Sportwagon variant was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 2006. The 159’s size made it considerably more comfortable than the 156 due to its larger, roomy interior. However, the considerable growth in dimensions deterred many 156 owners from considering the 159 as a direct replacement model, and something seemed to be lost in the character of the new car. Initially offered with a choice of 1.9 and 2,2 litre 4 cylinder and 3.2 litre V6 petrol engines and 1.9 and 2.4 litre diesel units, and an optional four wheel drive system. An automatic gearbox option for the 2.4 JTDM diesel model was also launched in late 2006, and later extended to other versions. In 2007 a four-wheel drive diesel model was released and the 2.4-litre diesel engines’ power output increased to 210 hp, with a newly reintroduced TI trim level also available as an option. For model year 2008 the mechanics and interiors of the 159 were further developed. The 3.2 litre V6 model was offered in front wheel drive configuration, achieving a top speed of 160 mph. All model variants came with Alfa’s electronic “Q2” limited slip differential. As a result of newly introduced aluminium components, a 45 kilograms (99 lb) weight reduction was achieved. For 2009, Alfa introduced a new turbocharged petrol engine badged as “TBi”. This 1742 cc unit had direct injection and variable valve timing in both inlet and exhaust cams. This new engine had 200 PS (197 hp) and would eventually replace the GM-derived 2.2 and 1.9 JTS units.In 2010, all petrol engines except for the 1750 TBi were retired, ending the use of General Motors-based engines in the 159. The only remaining diesel engines were the 136 PS and 170 PS 2.0 JTDm engines. In 2011, the 159 was powered only by diesel engines. In the UK, Alfa Romeo stopped taking orders for the 159 on 8 July 2011. Production for all markets ceased at the end of 2011, after 240,000 had been built.
Rather than replacing the 916 Series GTV with a single model, Alfa elected to produce two successors, The more commodious of the two, the GT, was the first to appear, making its debut in March 2003 at the Geneva Motor Show, finally going on sale in early 2004. The other 916 series replacement cars were the Brera and Spider models, and this is what was to be seen here. Visually similar to the 159 models at the front, the Brera and Spider boasted unique styling from the A pillars rearwards. They were offered with the same range of engines as the 159, and thanks to that strong, but rather heavy platform on which they were built, even the 3.2 litre V6 cars were more Grand Tourer than rapid sports car. Pininfarina was responsible for both models. The Brera was first to market, in 2005, with the Spider following in 2006. Production of both ceased in late 2010, by which time 12,488 units of the Spider and 21,786 units of the Brera had been built. It will be very surprising if these do not attain classic status, and the consequent rise in values, though that has not happened yet.
There were also a couple of Alfa Romeo from the current range here, a regular Stelvio and a Giulia in top spec Quadrifolgio guise.
There were a couple of the recently superceded Vantage model here. Following the unveiling of the AMV8 Vantage concept car in 2003 at the North American International Auto Show designed by Henrik Fisker, the production version, known as the V8 Vantage was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 2005. The two seat, two-door coupé had a bonded aluminium structure for strength and lightness. The 172.5 inch (4.38 m) long car featured a hatchback-style tailgate for practicality, with a large luggage shelf behind the seats. In addition to the coupé, a convertible, known as the V8 Vantage Roadster, was introduced later in that year. The V8 Vantage was initially powered by a 4.3 litre quad-cam 32-valve V8 which produced 380 bhp at 7,300 rpm and 409 Nm (302 lb/ft) at 5,000 rpm. However, models produced after 2008 had a 4.7-litre V8 with 420 bhp and 470 Nm (347 lbft) of torque. Though based loosely on Jaguar’s AJ-V8 engine architecture, this engine was unique to Aston Martin and featured race-style dry-sump lubrication, which enabled it to be mounted low in the chassis for an improved center of gravity. The cylinder block and heads, crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, camshafts, inlet and exhaust manifolds, lubrication system and engine management were all designed in house by Aston Martin and the engine was assembled by hand at the AM facility in Cologne, Germany, which also built the V12 engine for the DB9 and Vanquish. The engine was front mid-mounted with a rear-mounted transaxle, giving a 49/51 front/rear weight distribution. Slotted Brembo brakes were also standard. The original V8 Vantage could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds before topping out at 175 mph. In 2008, Aston Martin introduced an aftermarket dealer approved upgrade package for power and handling of the 4.3-litre variants that maintained the warranty with the company. The power upgrade was called the V8 Vantage Power Upgrade, creating a more potent version of the Aston Martin 4.3-litre V8 engine with an increase in Peak power of 20 bhp to 400 bhp while peak torque increased by 10 Nm to 420 Nm (310 lb/ft). This consists of the fitting of the following revised components; manifold assembly (painted Crackle Black), valved air box, right and left hand side vacuum hose assemblies, engine bay fuse box link lead (ECU to fuse box), throttle body to manifold gasket, intake manifold gasket, fuel injector to manifold seal and a manifold badge. The V8 Vantage had a retail price of GB£79,000, US$110,000, or €104,000 in 2006, Aston Martin planned to build up to 3,000 per year. Included was a 6-speed manual transmission and leather-upholstery for the seats, dash board, steering-wheel, and shift-knob. A new 6-speed sequential manual transmission, similar to those produced by Ferrari and Lamborghini, called Sportshift was introduced later as an option. An open-topped model was added to the range in 2006 and then in the quest for more power a V12 Vantage joined the range not long after. All told, Aston produced 18 different versions of the model in a production run which continued until 2018, with a number limited edition cars swelling the ranks.
Follow on to the DB7 was the DB9 (there has never been a car called DB8 – supposedly because people might have assumed this meant a V8 engine), and there was a nice example here. The Aston Martin DB9, designed by Marek Reichmann and Hendrik Fisker, was first shown by Aston Martin at the 2003 Frankfurt Auto Show, in coupe form. It was widely praised for the beauty of its lines. This was the first model to be built at Aston Martin’s Gaydon facility. It was built on the VH platform, which would become the basis for all subsequent Aston models. The Aston Martin DB9 was initially launched equipped with a 6.0 litre V12 engine, originally taken from the V12 Vanquish. The engine produced 420 lbf·ft of torque at 5,000 rpm and a maximum power of 444 hp at 6,000 rpm, allowing the DB9 to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 299 km/h (186 mph). The engine largely sits behind the front-axle line to improve weight distribution. Changes to the engine for the 2013 model year increased the power to 503 hp and torque to 457 lb-ft, decreasing the 0 to 60 mph time to 4.50 seconds and with a new top speed is 295 km/h (183 mph). The DB9 was available with either a six-speed conventional manual gearbox from Graziano or a six-speed ZF automatic gearbox featuring paddle-operated semi-automatic mode. The gearbox is rear-mounted and is driven by a carbon-fibre tail shaft inside a cast aluminium torque tube. The DB9 was the first Aston Martin model to be designed and developed on Ford’s aluminium VH (vertical/horizontal) platform. The body structure is composed of aluminium and composites melded together by mechanically fixed self-piercing rivets and robotic assisted adhesive bonding techniques. The bonded aluminium structure is claimed to possess more than double the torsional rigidity of its predecessor’s, despite being 25 percent lighter. The DB9 also contains anti-roll bars and double wishbone suspension, supported by coil springs. To keep the back-end in control under heavy acceleration or braking, the rear suspension has additional anti-squat and anti-lift technology. Later versions of the car also features three modes for the tuning: normal, for every-day use, sport, for more precise movement at the cost of ride comfort, and track, which furthers the effects of the sport setting. The Aston Martin DB9 Volante, the convertible version of the DB9 coupe, followed a few months later. The chassis, though stiffer, uses the same base VH platform. To protect occupants from rollovers, the Volante has strengthened windscreen pillars and added two pop-up hoops behind the rear seats. The hoops cannot be disabled and will break the car’s rear window if deployed. In an effort to improve the Volante’s ride while cruising, Aston Martin have softened the springs and lightened the anti-roll bars in the Volante, leading to a gentler suspension. The retractable roof of the Volante is made of folding fabric and takes 17 seconds to be put up or down. The Volante weighs 59 kilograms (130 pounds) more than the coupe. The coupe and Volante both share the same semi-automatic and automatic gearboxes and engine. The car was limited to 266 km/h (165 mph) to retain the integrity of the roof. Like the coupe, the original Volante has 420 lb·ft of torque at 5,000 rpm and a maximum power of 450 hp at 6,000 rpm. The 0 to 60 mph slowed to 4.9 seconds due to the additional weight. The DB9 was facelifted in July 2008, which mainly amounted to an increase in engine power, to 476 hp and a redesigned centre console. Externally, the DB9 remained virtually unchanged. For the 2013 model year revision, Aston made minor changes to the bodywork by adapting designs from the Virage, including enlarging the recessed headlight clusters with bi-xenon lights and LED daytime strips, widening the front splitter, updating the grille and side heat extractors, updating the LED rear lights with clear lenses and integrating a new rear spoiler with the boot lid. .On newer models, like the coupe’s, the Volante’s horsepower and torque increased to 517 PS (510 hp) and 457 lb·ft respectively. As a finale for the model, a more powerful DB9 was released in 2015, called the DB9 GT. This had 540 bhp and 457 lb-ft of torque at 5500 rpm, giving a 0 to 60mph time of 4.4 seconds and 0 to 100mph in 10.2 seconds, with the standing quarter mile dispatched in 12.8 to 12.9 seconds and a top speed of 183mph. Production of the DB9 ended in 2016 being replaced by its successor, the DB11.
I had seen this rather distinctive DB11 at Shelsley Walsh the previous day. And with a finish like that, you are not going to forget it in a hurry. Actually, it is a wrap rather than paint. I happened to be standing by the entrance when it pulled in, and was talking to a young and very knowledgeable enthusiast, who clearly was not a fan, as he barely paused for breath in condemning what he saw as little short of desecration to an otherwise desirable car.
This is a good place to see the most sporting of Audi models, with a significant number of S and RS cars usually to be found parked up, and that was the case on this visit. Oldest of these was a B5 generation RS4 Avant. This dates from an era when Audi only produced one RS model at a time, meaning that the variant had quite a short production life. Introduced by Audi in late 1999, for main production and sale from 2000, this was effectively the successor to the Porsche / quattro GmbH joint venture-developed Audi RS2 Avant that was sold in the mid 1990s. Like its RS2 predecessor, it was available only as an Avant. Although related to the Audi B5 S4, many of the outer body panels were altered, with wider front and rear wheel arches, to allow for the wider axle track on the RS 4. With unique front and rear bumpers and side sills, and the rear spoiler from the S4 Avant, the aerodynamic modifications achieved a drag coefficient of Cd 0.34 and a very purposeful look, especially when finished in a sober colour such as the two examples seen here. It was the mechanical changes, though, which had the huge difference. The engine was developed from the 2.7 litre V6 ‘biturbo’ used in the B5 S4, and retained the same 2,671 cc capacity, but much was changed. Developed and manufactured in the UK by Cosworth Technology, it featured enlarged intake and smaller exhaust ports on the two Cosworth cast aluminium alloy cylinder heads, two parallel BorgWarner turbochargers, two larger side-mounted intercoolers, dished piston crowns, stronger connecting rods, larger intake ducting, enlarged exhaust system, and a re-calibrated engine management system. The modifications increased the engine’s output from 265 bhp to 375 bhp at 7,000 rpm, and with 325 lb/f·ft of torque. The engine was controlled by a Bosch Motronic ME 7.1 electronic engine control unit (ECU), using a Bosch ‘E-Gas’ electronic drive by wire throttle. The engine had multipoint sequential fuel injection, a MAF, six individual single-spark coils and NGK longlife spark plugs. The engine oil was cooled by a dual oil:water cooler and an oil:air cooler. There was a 6 speed manual transmission and Audi’s Torsen-based quattro system. Even with a kerb weight of 1,620 kilograms (3,571 lb), the RS 4’s powerful engine gave it the performance of a sports car. 100 km/hcould be reached from rest in 4.9 seconds, 160 km/hin 11.3 seconds, and 200 km/h in 17.0 seconds. Top speed was electronically limited to 262 km/h (162.8 mph) Audi produced 6,030 units between 1999 and 2001.
Also here was the more recent B8 generation RS4 Avant as well as the still current RS3 Sportback.
Also here was a first generation TT and a couple of examples of Audi’s highly rated first generation R8 supercar.
Also a car that you can be pretty sure of seeing here was the M2, a popular choice among venue attendees, it would seem. The M2 was first revealed in Need for Speed: No Limits on November 2015, before later premiering at the North American International Auto Show in January 2016. Production commenced in October 2015 and is only available as a rear-wheel drive coupé. The M2 is powered by the turbocharged 3.0-litre N55B30T0 straight-six engine producing 365 bhp at 6,500 rpm and 465 Nm (343 lb/ft) between 1,450–4,750 rpm, while an overboost function temporarily increases torque to 500 N⋅m (369 lb⋅ft). The M2 features pistons from the F80 M3 and F82 M4, and has lighter aluminium front and rear suspension components resulting in a 5 kg (11 lb) weight reduction. The M2 is available with a 6-speed manual or with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission which features a ‘Smokey Burnout’ mode. 0-100 km/h acceleration times are 4.5 seconds manual transmission models and 4.3 seconds for models equipped with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h (155 mph) but can be extended to 270 km/h (168 mph) with the optional M Driver’s package. The M2 Competition was introduced at the 2018 Beijing Auto Show and succeeded the standard M2 Coupé. Production began in July 2018. The M2 Competition uses the high performance S55 engine which is a variant of the 3.0-litre twin turbocharged straight six engine found in the F80 M3 and F82 M4. The engine features a redesigned oil supply system and modified cooling system from the BMW M4 with the Competition Package, and also features a gasoline particulate filter in certain European Union countries to reduce emissions. Compared to the standard M2, the S55 produces an additional 30 kW (40 hp) and 85 Nm (63 lb/ft), resulting in a larger and more sustained power output of 405 bhp between 5,370–7,200 rpm, and 550 N⋅m (406 lb⋅ft) at 2,350–5,230 rpm. The 0-100 km/h acceleration time is 4.4 seconds for six-speed manual transmission models, and 4.2 seconds for models with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph), but the M Driver’s package can extend the limit to 280 km/h (174 mph) which is 10 km/h (6 mph) further than in the M2. The M2 Competition also has a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic strut bar, enlarged kidney grilles, and larger brake discs of 400 mm (15.7 in) in the front axle and 380 mm (15.0 in) in the rear axle. Because of the new engine and cooling system, the M2 Competition is 55 kg (121 lb) heavier than the standard M2 at 1,550 kg (3,417 lb) for manual transmission models and 1,575 kg (3,472 lb) for dual-clutch transmission models. It remains in production.
Also here was an M3 CS. The CS was a special edition produced in 2018 with an upgraded engine rated at 454 hp and 601 Nm (443 lb/ft). The weight was reduced by 50 kg (110 lb) through the use of a carbon fibre front spoiler, Alcantara interior parts and thinner glass for the side windows. The price premium over the standard car was in excess of £20,000 which seemed an awful lot. Production of the CS totalled 1,200 units.
Sole Citroen of note was this rather nice DS21 dating from 1970. It is hard to imagine just how revolutionary this car must have seemed when it was unveiled at the Paris Show in 1955. 18 years in secret development as the successor to the Traction Avant, the DS 19 stole the show, and within 15 minutes of opening, 743 orders were taken. By the end of the first day, that number had risen to 12,000. Contemporary journalists said the DS pushed the envelope in the ride vs. handling compromise possible in a motor vehicle. To a France still deep in reconstruction after the devastation of World War II, and also building its identity in the post-colonial world, the DS was a symbol of French ingenuity. It also posited the nation’s relevance in the Space Age, during the global race for technology of the Cold War. Structuralist philosopher Roland Barthes, in an essay about the car, said that it looked as if it had “fallen from the sky”. An American advertisement summarised this selling point: “It takes a special person to drive a special car”. Because they were owned by the technologically aggressive tyre manufacturer Michelin, Citroën had designed their cars around the technically superior radial tyre since 1948, and the DS was no exception. The car featured a novel hydropneumatic suspension including an automatic levelling system and variable ground clearance, developed in-house by Paul Magès. This suspension allowed the DS to travel quickly on the poor road surfaces common in France. In addition, the vehicle had power steering and a semi-automatic transmission (the transmission required no clutch pedal, but gears still had to be shifted by hand though the shift lever controlled a powered hydraulic shift mechanism in place of a mechanical linkage, and a fibreglass roof which lowered the centre of gravity and so reduced weight transfer. Inboard front brakes (as well as independent suspension) reduced unsprung weight. Different front and rear track widths and tyre sizes reduced the unequal tyre loading, which is well known to promote understeer, typical of front-engined and front-wheel drive cars. As with all French cars, the DS design was affected by the tax horsepower system, which effectively mandated very small engines. Unlike the Traction Avant predecessor, there was no top-of-range model with a powerful six-cylinder engine. Citroën had planned an air-cooled flat-6 engine for the car, but did not have the funds to put the prototype engine into production. The 1955 DS19 was 65% more expensive than the car it replaced, the Citroën Traction Avant. This did impact potential sales in a country still recovering economically from World War II, so a cheaper submodel, the Citroën ID, was introduced in 1957. The ID shared the DS’s body but was less powerful and luxurious. Although it shared the engine capacity of the DS engine (at this stage 1,911 cc), the ID provided a maximum power output of only 69 hp compared to the 75 hp claimed for the DS19. Power outputs were further differentiated in 1961 when the DS19 acquired a Weber-32 twin bodied carburettor, and the increasing availability of higher octane fuel enabled the manufacturer to increase the compression ratio from 7.5:1 to 8.5:1. A new DS19 now came with a promised 83 hp of power. The ID19 was also more traditional mechanically: it had no power steering and had conventional transmission and clutch instead of the DS’s hydraulically controlled set-up. Initially the basic ID19 was sold on the French market with a price saving of more than 25% against the DS, although the differential was reduced at the end of 1961 when the manufacturer quietly withdrew the entry level ID19 “Normale” from sale. An estate version was introduced in 1958. It was known by various names in different markets: Break in France, Safari and Estate in the UK, Wagon in the US, and Citroën Australia used the terms Safari and Station-Wagon. It had a steel roof to support the standard roof rack. ‘Familiales’ had a rear seat mounted further back in the cabin, with three folding seats between the front and rear squabs. The standard Break had two side-facing seats in the main load area at the back. During the 20 year production life, improvements were made on an ongoing basis. In September 1962, the DS was restyled with a more aerodynamically efficient nose, better ventilation and other improvements. It retained the open two headlamp appearance, but was available with an optional set of driving lights mounted on the front bumpers. A more luxurious Pallas trim came in for 1965 Named after the Greek goddess Pallas, this included comfort features such as better noise insulation, a more luxurious (and optional leather) upholstery and external trim embellishments. The cars were complex, and not always totally reliable, One of the issues that emerged during long term use was addressed with a change which came in for 1967. The original hydropneumatic system used a vegetable oil liquide hydraulique végétal (LHV), similar to that used in other cars at the time, but later switched to a synthetic fluid liquide hydraulique synthétique (LHS). Both of these had the disadvantage that they are hygroscopic, as is the case with most brake fluids. Disuse allows water to enter the hydraulic components causing deterioration and expensive maintenance work. The difficulty with hygroscopic hydraulic fluid was exacerbated in the DS/ID due to the extreme rise and fall in the fluid level in the reservoir, which went from nearly full to nearly empty when the suspension extended to maximum height and the six accumulators in the system filled with fluid. With every “inhalation” of fresh moisture- (and dust-) laden air, the fluid absorbed more water. For the 1967 model year, Citroën introduced a new mineral oil-based fluid liquide hydraulique minéral (LHM). This fluid was much less harsh on the system. LHM remained in use within Citroën until the Xantia was discontinued in 2001. LHM required completely different materials for the seals. Using either fluid in the incorrect system would completely destroy the hydraulic seals very quickly. To help avoid this problem, Citroën added a bright green dye to the LHM fluid and also painted all hydraulic elements bright green. The former LHS parts were painted black. All models, including the Safari and ID, were upgraded at the same time. The hydraulic fluid changed to the technically superior LHM (Liquide Hydraulique Minéral) in all markets except the US and Canada, where the change did not take place until January 1969, due to local regulations. Rarest and most collectable of all DS variants, a convertible was offered from 1958 until 1973. The Cabriolet d’Usine (factory convertible) were built by French carrossier Henri Chapron, for the Citroën dealer network. These DS convertibles used a special frame which was reinforced on the sidemembers and rear suspension swingarm bearing box, similar to, but not identical to the Break/Safari frame. It was an expensive car, so only 1,365 were sold
The Copen was originally designed with a 660 cc turbocharged engine in order to meet Japanese kei car regulations. However, since this engine did not meet environmental emissions standards in several other countries, the Copen was fitted with a more powerful 1.3 L non-turbo engine in these markets in 2007. The Copen was never built with left-hand-drive for the first four model years (2002-2005). The right-hand-drive Copen was officially sold in Germany and some European countries from 2003 to 2005 and with smaller 660cc engine. After a lacklustre sale in Germany for the right-hand-drive Copen, Daihatsu introduced the left-hand-drive Copen with bigger 1.3 L engine, which was announced at 2005 IAA Frankfurt, along with new trim level, ZZ. The sales increased to 802 units for model year 2006. The sales number declined greatly from 2007 until Copen was withdrawn from German market in the summer of 2011. Daihatsu introduced 60 “farewell edition” (Abscheidmodell) Copen in Germany. The Copen been featured on Top Gear when James May attempted to find the best convertible car. The contestants were the Mercedes-Benz CLK, Audi A4, Citroën C3 Pluriel, Volkswagen New Beetle, and the Copen. May loved the Copen, but he had one small problem: it felt “toy-ish”. On 13 January 2011, Daihatsu announced that it would withdraw the Copen from the European market in 2011 due to the increasing strength of the Japanese Yen and sharp decline in sales from 2006 to 2011. Daihatsu announced on 2 April 2012 that the production for Copen would cease in August 2012 with the final “10th Anniversary Edition” model. The 500 “10th Anniversary Edition” models were luxuriously appointed with leather upholstery and commemorative 10th Anniversary plate in the door openings. The Japanese have seen a second generation model.
Successor to the Ferrari 360, this model debuted at the 2004 Paris Motor Show. Designed by Pininfarina, under the guidance of Frank Stephenson, the body styling of the F430 was revised from its predecessor, the Ferrari 360, to improve its aerodynamic efficiency. Although the drag coefficient remained the same, downforce was greatly enhanced. Despite sharing the same basic Alcoa Aluminium chassis, roof line, doors and glass, the car looked significantly different from the 360. A great deal of Ferrari heritage was included in the exterior design. At the rear, the Enzo’s tail lights and interior vents were added. The car’s name was etched into the Testarossa-styled driver’s side mirror. The large oval openings in the front bumper are reminiscent of Ferrari racing models from the 60s, specifically the 156 “sharknose” Formula One car and 250 TR61 Le Mans cars of Phil Hill. Designed with soft-top-convertible. The F430 featured a 4.3 litre V8 petrol engine of the “Ferrari-Maserati” F136 family. This new power plant was a significant departure for Ferrari, as all previous Ferrari V8’s were descendants of the Dino racing program of the 1950s. This fifty-year development cycle came to an end with the entirely new unit. The engine’s output was 490 hp at 8500 rpm and 465 N·m (343 lb/ft) of torque at 5250 rpm, 80% of which was available below 3500rpm. Despite a 20% increase in displacement, engine weight grew by only 4 kg and engine dimensions were decreased, for easier packaging. The connecting rods, pistons and crankshaft were all entirely new, while the four-valve cylinder head, valves and intake trumpets were copied directly from Formula 1 engines, for ideal volumetric efficiency. The F430 has a top speed in excess of 196 mph and could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds, 0.6 seconds quicker than the old model. The brakes on the F430 were designed in close cooperation with Brembo (who did the calipers and discs) and Bosch (who did the electronics package),resulting in a new cast-iron alloy for the discs. The new alloy includes molybdenum which has better heat dissipation performance. The F430 was also available with the optional Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite brake package. Ferrari claims the carbon ceramic brakes will not fade even after 300-360 laps at their test track. The F430 featured the E-Diff, a computer-controlled limited slip active differential which can vary the distribution of torque based on inputs such as steering angle and lateral acceleration. Other notable features include the first application of Ferrari’s manettino steering wheel-mounted control knob. Drivers can select from five different settings which modify the vehicle’s ESC system, “Skyhook” electronic suspension, transmission behaviour, throttle response, and E-Diff. The feature is similar to Land Rover’s “Terrain Response” system. The Ferrari F430 was also released with exclusive Goodyear Eagle F1 GSD3 EMT tyres, which have a V-shaped tread design, run-flat capability, and OneTRED technology. The F430 Spider, Ferrari’s 21st road going convertible, made its world premiere at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show. The car was designed by Pininfarina with aerodynamic simulation programs also used for Formula 1 cars. The roof panel automatically folds away inside a space above the engine bay. The conversion from a closed top to an open-air convertible is a two-stage folding-action. The interior of the Spider is identical to that of the coupé. Serving as the successor to the Challenge Stradale, the 430 Scuderia was unveiled by Michael Schumacher at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show. Aimed to compete with cars like the Porsche RS-models and the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera it was lighter by 100 kg/220 lb and more powerful (510 PS) than the standard F430. Increased power came from a revised intake, exhaust, and an ion-sensing knock-detection system that allows for a higher compression ratio. Thus the weight-to-power ratio was reduced from 2.96 kg/hp to 2.5 kg/hp. In addition to the weight saving measures, the Scuderia semi-automatic transmission gained improved “Superfast”, known as “Superfast2”, software for faster 60 millisecond shift-times. A new traction control system combined the F1-Trac traction and stability control with the E-Diff electronic differential. The Ferrari 430 Scuderia accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds, with a top speed of 202 miles per hour. Ferrari claimed that around their test track, Fiorano Circuit, it matched the Ferrari Enzo, and the Ferrari F430’s successor, the Ferrari 458. To commemorate Ferrari’s 16th victory in the Formula 1 Constructor’s World Championship in 2008, Ferrari unveiled the Scuderia Spider 16M at World Finals in Mugello. It is effectively a convertible version of the 430 Scuderia. The engine produces 510 PS at 8500 rpm. The car has a dry weight of 1,340 kg, making it 80 kg lighter than the F430 Spider, at a curb weight of 1,440 kg (3,175 lb). The chassis was stiffened to cope with the extra performance available and the car featured many carbon fibre parts as standard. Specially lightened front and rear bumpers (compared to the 430 Scuderia) were a further sign of the efforts Ferrari was putting into this convertible track car for the road. Unique 5-spoke forged wheels were produced for the 16M’s launch and helped to considerably reduce unsprung weight with larger front brakes and callipers added for extra stopping power (also featured on 430 Scuderia). It accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds, with a top speed of 315 km/h (196 mph). 499 vehicles were released beginning early 2009 and all were pre-sold to select clients.
The 458 evolved into the 488 GTB, and this model was represented here, too. Launched at the 2015 Geneva Show, the 488GTB followed the lead set by the California T in bringing turbocharging into a modern-day, mid-engined V8 Ferrari supercar for the first time. The engine is completely new when compared with its V8 stablemate, not only in components but also in feel and character. It is a twin-turbocharged 3902cc unit whilst that in the California T is 3855cc. In the 488 GTB, it produces 660bhp at 8000rpm and 560lb ft at 3000rpm. Both outputs are significant increases over the normally aspirated 4.5-litre V8 used in the 562 bhp 458 Italia and 597 bhp 458 Speciale, and also greater than the car’s biggest rival, the McLaren 650S. The torque figure of the 488 GTB is such that it also exceeds the 509lb ft at 6000rpm of the normally aspirated V12 used in the range-topping Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. The mighty new engine in the 488 GTB drives the rear wheels through a revised seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox derived from the 458. It features a new ‘Variable Torque Management’ system which, Ferrari says, “unleashes the engine’s massive torque smoothly and powerfully right across the rev range”. The gear ratios are also tuned to “deliver incredibly progressive acceleration when the driver floors the throttle”. The 488 GTB can crack 0-62mph in just 3.0sec, 0-124mph in 8.4sec and reach a top speed of 205mph. Its 0-62mph and 0-124mph times match the McLaren 650S’s, but the Woking car’s top speed is slightly higher at 207mph. The engine also accounts for the ‘488’ element of the car’s name, because each of the engine’s eight cylinders is 488cc in capacity when rounded up. The GTB suffix, standing for Gran Turismo Berlinetta, is a hallmark of previous mid-engined V8 Ferraris such as the 308 GTB. Not only is the new turbo engine more potent than the 4.5-litre V8 from the 458 Italia, but it is also more economical. Combined fuel economy is rated at 24.8mpg, compared with 21.2mpg in the 458 Italia, and CO2 emissions are 260g/km – a 47g/km improvement. Ferrari’s HELE engine stop-start system features on the 488 GTB. Developments on the dynamic side include a second generation of the Side Slip Angle Control system, called SSC2. This allows the driver to oversteer without intruding, unless it detects a loss of control. The SSC2 now controls the active dampers, in addition to the F1-Trac traction control system and E-Diff electronic differential. Ferrari says the result is “more precise and less invasive, providing greater longitudinal acceleration out of corners” and flatter, more stable behaviour during “complex manoeuvres”. Learnings from the Ferrari XX programme have also been incorporated into the 488 GTB, something that Ferrari says allows all drivers and not just professionals, to make the most of its electronic and vehicle control systems. It also claims the 488 GTB is “the most responsive production model there is”, with responses comparable to a track car. The 488 GTB has lapped Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in 1min 23sec – two seconds faster than the 458 Italia, and half a second quicker than the 458 Speciale. The dimensions of the 488 GTB – it is 4568mm in length, 1952mm in width and 1213mm in height – closely match the 458 Italia from which it has evolved. Its dry weight is 1370kg when equipped with lightweight options – 40kg more than the McLaren 650S. The new look, styled at the Ferrari Styling Centre, features several new aerodynamic features that improve downforce and reduce drag. Most notable is the addition of active aerodynamics at the rear through a ‘blown’ rear spoiler, where air is channelled from the base of the glass engine cover under the spoiler. This contributes to the 50% increase in downforce over the 458 Italia. Also new is a double front spoiler, an aerodynamic underbody, a large air intake at the front that references the 308 GTB, a diffuser with active flaps, new positioning for the exhaust flaps and new-look lights. The interior has been redesigned to be made more usable, including new switchgear, air vents and instrument panel. The multi-function steering wheel remains, while the infotainment system gets a new interface and graphics. The Spider followed the closed coupe model six months later, and supplies of that car are now reaching the UK. It is expected that this will be bigger seller of the car, as was the case with the 458 models.
Final Ferrari here was a GTC4 Lusso, the latest version of the 4-seater all-wheel drive model which debuted as the FF back in 2011.
The Capri Mk III was referred to internally as “Project Carla”, and although little more than a substantial update of the Capri II, it was often referred to as the Mk III. The first cars were available in March 1978, but failed to halt a terminal decline in sales. The concept of a heavily facelifted Capri II was shown at the 1976 Geneva show: a Capri II with a front very similar to the Escort RS2000 (with four headlamps and black slatted grille), and with a rear spoiler, essentially previewed the model some time before launch. The new styling cues, most notably the black “Aeroflow” grille (first used on the Mk I Fiesta) and the “sawtooth” rear lamp lenses echoed the new design language being introduced at that time by Ford of Europe’s chief stylist Uwe Bahnsen across the entire range. Similar styling elements were subsequently introduced in the 1979 Cortina 80, 1980 Escort Mk III and the 1981 Granada Mk IIb. In addition, the Mk III featured improved aerodynamics, leading to improved performance and economy over the Mk II and the trademark quad headlamps were introduced. At launch the existing engine and transmission combinations of the Capri II were carried over, with the 3.0 S model regarded as the most desirable model although the softer, more luxurious Ghia derivative with automatic, rather than manual transmission, was the bigger seller of the two V6-engined models. Ford began to focus their attention on the UK Capri market as sales declined, realising the car had something of a cult following there. Unlike sales of the contemporary 4-door Cortina, Capri sales in Britain were to private buyers who would demand less discounts than fleet buyers allowing higher margins with the coupé. Ford tried to maintain interest in 1977 with Ford Rallye Sport, Series X, “X Pack” options from the performance oriented RS parts range. Although expensive and slow selling these proved that the press would enthusiastically cover more developed Capris with higher performance. In early 1982, the Essex 3.0 V6 which had been the range topper since September 1969 was dropped, while a new sporty version debuted at the Geneva Motor Show, called the 2.8 Injection. The new model was the first regular model since the RS2600 to use fuel injection. Power rose to a claimed 160 PS, even though tests showed the real figure was closer to 150 PS, giving a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph), but the car still had a standard four-speed gearbox. The Capri 2.8 Injection breathed new life into the range and kept the car in production 2–3 years longer than Ford had planned. The four-speed gearbox was replaced with a five-speed unit early on – at the same time Ford swapped the dated looking chequered seats for more luxurious looking velour trim. A more substantial upgrade was introduced in 1984 with the Capri Injection Special. This development used half leather seating and included a limited slip differential. Externally the car could be easily distinguished by seven spoke RS wheels (without the customary “RS” logo since this was not an RS vehicle) and colour-coded grille and headlamp surrounds. At the same time the 2.0 Capri was rationalised to one model, the 2.0 S, which simultaneously adopted a mildly modified suspension from the Capri Injection. The 1.6 model was also reduced to a single model, the 1.6 LS. The car was finally deleted at the end of 1986, 1.9 million cars having been made over 18 years, and having been sold only in the UK for the final months of production.
The Ford Escort RS Cosworth is a sports derivative and rally homologation special of the fifth generation European Ford Escort. It was designed to qualify as a Group A car for the World Rally Championship, in which it competed between 1993 and 1998. It was available as a road car from 1992–96 in very limited numbers. Ford developed the car around the chassis and mechanicals of its spiritual predecessor, the Sierra Cosworth to accommodate the larger Cosworth engine and transmission, whilst clothing it in Escort body panels to make it resemble the standard car. Designed under the guidance of Rod Mansfield and John Wheeler of Ford’s SVO department, the styling was carried out during 1989, a year before the standard Escort was launched, by Stephen Harper at MGA Developments in Coventry. The spoiler was added by Frank Stephenson, who originally proposed a three-deck piece. The body tooling was created by coachbuilders Karmann at their facility in Rheine, Germany, where the cars were manufactured. Changes were made to the engine management system and a new turbocharger was fitted. Permanent four wheel drive with a 34/66% front/rear split came courtesy of an uprated five speed gearbox as used in the Sierra Cosworth. Recaro sports seats came as a standard fitment. Later production models were available without the oversize tail spoiler although by far the majority were still ordered with it. Like its Sierra predecessor, they are commonly nicknamed “Cossie” by enthusiasts. The car’s top speed was 150 mph, which rivalled lower-end supercars including the Audi Quattro, BMW M3, Nissan 300ZX and Toyota Supra, and comfortably outperformed traditional “hot hatchbacks” like the Volkswagen Golf GTI. It was much faster than the 126 mph which the Escort RS2000 and earlier Escort RS Turbo were capable of. Two versions were produced. The initial 2,500 units were “homologation specials” used to get the FIA accreditation for entry into the World Rally Championship. They were fitted with a Garrett T3/T04B turbocharger. Among these initial units, a handful were badged as Motorsport versions, these lacked certain refinements such as a sunroof and sound deadening. The initial cars included features that, although they made the Cosworth a more effective car, did not enhance it as a road vehicle, and once the rules were satisfied Ford attempted to make the car less temperamental and easier to drive under normal conditions. The second generation, starting production from late 1994, were fitted with a Garrett T25 turbocharger, a smaller unit which reduced turbo lag and increased usability in everyday driving situations. With these later models, the ‘whale tail’ spoiler became a delete option. . The Escort Cosworth was a rare car, with 7,145 vehicles produced from the start of production on 19 February 1992 until the last car rolled out of the factory on 12 January 1996.
Most recently, the most sporting Fords have been the RS versions of the Focus. On each occasion there was been a long wait for the car after the launch of the cooking models. The regular second generation cars were released in late 2004. An ST version followed very quickly, and for a long time, Ford maintained that was the only sporty Focus there was going to be. Finally, on December 17, 2007 Ford of Europe confirmed that a Mk 2 Focus RS would be launched in 2009, with a concept version due in mid-2008. t with an upgraded Duratec ST engine with 305PS Duratec RS, gearbox, suspension, and LSD. In 2008, Ford revealed the new Focus RS in “concept” form at the British International Motor Show. Contrary to numerous rumours and speculation, the RS was announced by Ford to have a conventional FWD layout. The Duratec RS engine was upgraded to produce 301 bhp and 325 lb/ft of torque. 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration was quoted to be under 6 seconds. The RS used a modified Volvo -engineered 2,522cc five-cylinder engine found in the Focus ST. A larger Borg Warner K16 turbo now delivers up to 20.3-psi of boost. A new air-to-air intercooler has been developed as a complement, while the forged crankshaft, silicon-aluminum pistons, graphite-coated cylinder bores, 8.5:1 compression ratio and variable valve timing also up the power output. The car remained front wheel drive, but to reduce torque steer used a Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing LSD, and a specially designed MacPherson strut suspension at the front called RevoKnuckle, which provided a lower scrub radius and kingpin offset than traditional designs while avoiding the increased weight and complexity of double wishbone and multi-link suspension setups. Ford UK claim: “It’s as close as you’ll come to driving a full-spec rally car (Ford Focus RS WRC). The production car was finally unveiled on 5 January 2009. It looked very distinctive, as at the rear a large venturi tunnel and a dramatic rear spoiler created a purposeful look. It was available in three expressive exterior colours: Ultimate Green, Performance Blue and Frozen White. The ‘Ultimate’ Green was a modern reinterpretation of the classic 1970s Ford Le Mans Green of the Ford Escort RS1600 era.
Ford played much the same guessing game about whether there would be an RS version of the third generation car as they had done with the earlier versions. Production of the regular cars started in late 2010, but it was not until the 2015 Geneva Motor Show before the production ready MKIII Ford Focus RS was unveiled. It came packing the turbocharged 2.3-litre inline-four engine found in the Mustang EcoBoost. In the Focus RS, the engine itself produces 350 hp. Power is sent to all four wheels via Ford’s all-new Torque-Vectoring All-Wheel-Drive system with a rear drive unit designed by GKN, as well as upgraded suspension and brakes. As well as that, the new Focus RS will be fitted with Drive Modes – including an industry-first Drift Mode that allows controlled oversteer drifts – and Launch Control. The RS will boast a model specific aerodynamic package that helps to differentiate it from other Focus models. The RS is capable of accelerating to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.7 seconds. Sales finally started in mid 2016, with long waiting lists having been created, though Ford did eventually catch up with expanded production levels allowing them to meet the demand. There were a number of them here, including one of the rare limited edition red-painted cars.
Also here was the Mustang, finally available in the UK in right hand drive form. There were a number of the current right hand drive cars here, as well as a couple of the previous generation and from early in the name plate’s existence a 350 GT-H (replica, no doubt).
The Mustangs were not the only American Ford models here, with two other very different vehicles also present. Older of these was a Model T, the huge selling car that literally put America on wheels and which was sold from 1908 to 1927.
And there was a Bronco here as well. Beginning production development in 1977 (before its predecessor was released for sale) the 1980–1986 Bronco was designed to address many concerns that held the 1978–1979 Bronco out of production. Nominally shorter and lighter, the 1980 Bronco was designed to adopt a more efficient powertrain while retaining its full-size dimensions. In 1982, the Ford Bronco II made its debut; unrelated to the full-size Bronco, the Bronco II was a compact SUV based on a shortened Ranger pickup truck and sized similarly to the 1966–1977 Bronco. Again based on the Ford F-Series, the 1980–1986 Bronco is based upon the Ford F-150 (1980–1986 seventh generation). Although based on an all-new chassis, the Bronco retained its 104 in (2,642 mm) wheelbase. Both transfer cases were replaced with a New Process 208 version. In front, the 1980–1986 Bronco is fitted with a Dana 44 front axle with Ford TTB (Twin Traction Beam) independent front suspension. As with the 1978–1979 Bronco, the rear axle is a leaf-sprung Ford 9-inch axle. For the first time since 1977, the Bronco came with an inline-six engine as standard; the 4.9L 300 I6 was available solely with a manual transmission. The 400 V8 was discontinued, with the 351M taking its place and the 302 V8 making its return as the base-equipment V8. The 351 Windsor made its debut in the Bronco as it replaced the 351M in 1982; gaining a 210 hp “high-output” version in 1984. In 1985, the 5.0L V8 (302) saw its carburettor replaced by a multiport electronic fuel-injection system, rising to 190 hp (the standard 156 hp 5.8L V8 was discontinued for 1986). As with its 1978–1979 predecessor, the 1980–1986 Bronco shares much of its external sheetmetal with the F-Series pickup line, with the same parts from the doors forward. Based on a design proposal originally used in the development of the previous-generation Bronco, the B-pillar of the roofline was modified slightly to produce an improved seal for the hardtop. Prior to 1984, the hardtop included sliding window glass as an option. For 1982, the Bronco saw a slight facelift as it adopted Ford’s blue oval emblem, taking the place of “F-O-R-D” lettering on the bonnet, and the bronco horse was removed from the fender emblems. The 1980–1986 Bronco adopted the same trim levels as the Ford F-Series pickups. Following the introduction of the Ford Ranger compact pickup, the Bronco adopted Bronco (base, replacing Custom), Bronco XL, and Bronco XLT. In 1985, Ford added an Eddie Bauer trim package for the Bronco. Featuring a colour-keyed two-tone exterior, the trim package featured an outdoors-themed interior. The model was produced until 1986 at which point a fourth generation version was unveiled.
When I first parked up, I noticed that there were three or four examples of the DC5 generation Integra. That did not strike me as particularly notable, as this is an enthusiast’s car, and just the sort of machine you could reasonably expect to find here. But then more arrived, and more, and more…….. in the end there were more than 25 of them on site, and yes, this was indeed a planned meeting of the Owners Club. All the available colour variants were here, and gradually, as other cars departed, it proved possible for them to get most of their cars so they were parked together in one massed gathering.
The fourth generation Integra was introduced in Japan on April 13, 2001 and produced from July 2001 to July 2006. For North America (United States and Canada), it was introduced as the Acura RSX in accordance with Acura’s new alphabetical naming scheme. It also had an entirely new engine, the K-series. The Integra came in two models in the United States, the RSX and the RSX Type-S boasting the K20A2 engine from 2002 to 2004, while the 2005 and 2006 RSX-S came with a K20Z1. The RSX was sold as a Honda Integra in Japan and Australia, markets where Acura did not exist. In March 2006, Honda announced that the Integra would be discontinued in June after its final 300 cars were sold, due to the shrinkage of the coupe market. The reaction of the consumers towards the discontinuation, however, forced Honda to extend production until July 2006 and produce 150 more Integras. The Acura RSX was discontinued as well, as the RSX did not fit within the confines of Acura’s re-structured market strategy. This left the Acura TSX as Acura’s entry-level vehicle. Also, the introduction of the similarly powerful and less expensive 2006 model-year Honda Civic Si was there to fill in the gap left by the RSX. The DC5 Type R (Japanese market only) comes standard with a K20A 220 hp 2.0 litre DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder engine. The “i” in i-VTEC stands for intelligent VTEC, which employs VTC (Variable Timing Control) to advance or retard the intake cam timing within a 50 degree range. The Integra Type R comes equipped with Recaro seats, four-piston Brembo front brakes, a close ratio six-speed manual transmission, a limited-slip differential, variable back-pressure exhaust system, and a stiffer suspension.
This Type R model comes from the sixth generation. Introduced in September 1995, with 3-door hatchback, 4-door sedan and 2-door coupe bodystyles, replicating its predecessor’s line-up. A 5-door hatchback was also produced to replace the Honda Concerto hatchback in Europe but this model, while using the same design language as the rest of the Civic range, was quite distinct, instead being a hatchback version of the Honda Domani, sharing that car’s platform which was related to the fifth-generation (EG/EH/EJ) Civic. The Domani replaced the sedan version of the Concerto in Japan while the sedan version of the Concerto was directly replaced by the sixth generation Civic sedan in other markets. Two wagons were also made available; the JDM Orthia, based on the Civic sedan/3-door hatchback line, and a 5-door hatchback/Domani based model, sold as Civic Aerodeck, in Europe. Neither were offered in North America. The Civic 5-door hatchback also formed the basis for the 1995 Rover 400 although the 4-door sedan version of the Rover was quite distinct from the Domani. At its introduction in 1995, it won the Car of the Year Japan Award for the third time. The Type R version was , sold only in the Japanese domestic market, and only available as a hatchback and a 5-speed manual with LSD as the only available transmission. This model was equipped with the B16B 182 bhp at 8,200 rpm) (AKA PCT), which is essentially a destroked, but powerful, version of the B18C engine from the Integra Type R. The chassis was given the designation EK9. The EK9 was very special as it was essentially based on the JDM EK4 SiR but taken out of the production line and given additional reinforcement to the chassis and body shell. Weight was also meticulously removed to create a light weight racecar feel. Other additions over the EK4 were bigger brakes,5 stud wheel hub, quicker steering ratio, specially tuned suspension, Recaro seats, MOMO steering wheel, titanium shift knob, front lip spoiler, rear wing, smoked headlights and a hand built engine that embodied the racing spirit of Honda. This engine featured a hand polished cylinder head, lighter flywheel, redesigned cam profiles, high compression pistons and balanced crankshaft. The gearbox was fitted with a helical type limited slip differential. A number of these cars have subsequently found their way to the UK.
The eighth generation was released in September 2005, for the 2006 model year. For the eighth generation, Honda split the model into two different platforms, one for sedan and coupe, and one for a hatchback designed primarily for the European market using a simpler rear suspension from the Honda Fit and more aggressive styling. As of 2006, a total of 16.5 million Civics had been sold worldwide, with 7.3 million of them in the United States. Although the North American and the home market model differ externally, they are mechanically identical. The hatchback is available as a three and five-door. Both Si and Type R trim levels continued although the Japanese and European Type R, while sharing the same engine size, are mechanically different. In the US, an improved, sportier version of the Civic Si 4-door tuned by tuner Mugen was offered, featuring cosmetic alterations and changes to the suspension, wheels, slight exterior differences, and exhaust system. A Canadian only Acura model received a new nameplate, changing from the Acura EL to the Acura CSX. The end of this model generation also marked a hiatus of the Civic Type R in Japan, with no successor model until the later tenth generation, going on sale mid-2017.
Also here was a second generation CRX. The Honda CR-X, originally launched as the Honda Ballade Sports CR-X in Japan, is a front-wheel-drive sport compact car manufactured by Honda between 1983 and 1991. It was replaced by the Honda CR-X del Sol for the 1992 model year. Although there are many supposed definitions for the acronym CR-X, the most widely accepted is “Civic Renaissance Experimental”. The second generation model was produced from 1987 to 1991 and looked fairly similar to the first, though under the skin plenty had changed. More power was on offer especially from 1989 when the legendary VTEC engine was fitted under the bonnet. The car did not sell in huge quantities in the UK and is correspondingly rare now.
Once again, the i30N loaned to the venue as well as a number of other examples of the model were to be seen around the site.
Replacement for the acclaimed XK models came in 1961 with the E Type, and it stunned the world at its premier at the 1961 Geneva Show. Considered by many to be Sir William Lyons’ greatest achievement, not only did the car have stop-you-in-your-tracks gorgeous styling, but it had explosive performance (even if the 150 mph that was achieved in The Autocar’s Road Test is now known to have been with a little “help”), but it was the price that amazed people more than anything else. Whilst out of reach for most people, who could barely afford any new car, it was massively cheaper than contemporary Aston Martins and Ferraris, its market rivals. It was not perfect, though, and over the coming years, Jaguar made constant improvements. A 2+2 model joined the initial range of Roadster and Coupe, and more powerful and larger engines came when the 3.8 litre was enlarged to 4.2 litres, before more significant styling changes came with the 1967 Series 2 and the 1971 Series 3, where new front end treatments and lights were a consequence of legislative demands of the E Type’s most important market, America. The example seen here was a V12-engined Series 3 Coupe.
It took nearly 40 years for Jaguar to get from E to F in their naming scheme, but the F Type is in many ways the spiritual successor to the E Type and there was a nice Coupe version here.
Lamborghini had been toying for some time with the idea of a smaller and cheaper car, powered by a V8 engine, to rival the smaller Ferraris, and the result, the Urraco, was first seen at the 1970 Turin Show. It was styled by Marcello Gandini, and engineered by Paolo Stanzani. It was launched with a 2.5 litre V8 engine, engineered to be cheaper to build, with belt-driven camshafts, situated within a steel monocoque structure suspended on McPherson struts. It reached the market before the rival Maserati Merak and Ferrari 308 GT4 Dino, which should have given it a big advantage. But it did not. For a start, it was deemed not powerful enough, so even before the difficulties of the late 1973 Fuel Crisis made things difficult, the car did not sell well at all. The solution was to add more power, and this came when the engine was enlarged to 3 litres, with four chain-driven cams, which took power from 220 bhp to 265 bhp. A roll-hoop across the back of the cabin improved rigidity, and more powerful brakes were fitted. It sold better, though never in the sort of volume that had been anticipated, and the addition of an Italian market tax special P200 did not help much, either. Just 66 of these were built, whereas 520 of the original P250 models found buyers, and 190 of the more powerful P300s added to the total before production ceased in 1979.
The convertible variant of the Gallardo, called the Gallardo Spyder, was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January 2006. It was considered by the company to be an entirely new model, with the engine having a power output of 520 PS and a low-ratio six-speed manual transmission. The Spyder has a retractable soft-top. It evolved in parallel with the fixed roof model, with a number of different versions being produced before the car was deleted in 2014, replaced by the Huracan.
This is the latest version of Lamborghini’s Huracan, the Evo. Looking outwardly very similar to the outgoing version, the Evo has been extensively reworked and among the changes it now features a fully-integrated Vehicle Dynamics Control System, new infotainment technology with advanced connectivity which means it can accelerate from zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 2.9 seconds. Lamborghini gave the Huracan EVO a new front bumper, featuring a front splitter with integrated wing design, aiding airflow. Meanwhile, the larger air intakes boast the automaker’s signature Y-shape, while the profile reveals a new wheel design and new side air intakes. However, it’s the rear end that arguably makes the revised Huracan stand out the most. The twin exhaust tips are positioned higher up in the rear bumper, while the upper end of the rear section features an integrated, slotted spoiler for increased downforce The car’s floor is all about maximising aerodynamic efficiency. In fact, according to Lambo, the Huracan EVO’s airflow-friendly styling improves downforce and overall aerodynamics by more than five (!) times compared to the first-generation Huracan. “Lamborghini is intent on leading the advance to the highest level of super sports car technologies and driving emotion. This is the essence of the new Huracán EVO. It takes the extraordinary abilities of the Huracán Performante and combines state-of-the-art vehicle dynamic control to amplify the everyday Huracán driving experience,” stated the company’s CEO, Stefano Domenicali. “The Huracan EVO is the very definition of evolution: it is a step ahead, redefining the segment parameters. It is remarkably easy to drive, while delivering the most responsive, sensory and agile driving experience, in every environment.” Inside the Huracan EVO you’ll find dedicated ‘EVO’ trim in an Alcantara and leather trimmed interior, with Arancio Dryope details to match the Arancio Xanto exterior on this particular press release model. Available on request are Carbon Forged Composites and Lamborghini’s patented Carbon Skin, to go with the new customizable ambient lighting system. Customers will be able to choose from a wide range of Style Packs, as well as Lamborghini’s Ad Personam program. In terms of tech, there’s a new 8.4-inch touchscreen display in the centre console, available multi-finger gesture control, Apple CarPlay with smartphone integration, connected sat-nav, web radio, integrated high-capacity hard disk and an optional dual-camera telemetry system. The Huracan EVO’s 5.2-litre naturally-aspirated V10 now puts down 640 PS (631 HP) at 8,000 rpm and 600 Nm (442 lb-ft) of peak torque at 6,500 rpm, an increase of 30 PS (29 HP) compared to its predecessor. Thanks to a dry weight of 1,422 kg (3,135 lbs), the Italian exotic has a 2.22 kg/hp weight-to-power ratio and accelerates from zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 2.9 seconds. Zero to 200 km/h (124 mph) takes 9 seconds flat, while braking from 100 km/h to a standstill is achieved in 31.9 meters (104 feet). The Huracan EVO’s top speed is rated at more than 325 km/h (202 mph). Bottom line, performance specs are pretty much identical to those of the Huracan Performante. Last, but not least, the EVO features new tech such as the Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata (LDVI), a central processing unit that controls every aspect of the car’s dynamic behavior, aided by the Lamborghini Piattaforma Inzerziale (LPI), a comprehensive set of accelerator and gyroscope sensors positioned at the car’s centre of gravity. Other noteworthy dynamics features include the rear-wheel steering system, four-wheel torque vectoring system, improved magnetorheological active suspension, new advanced traction control system, upgraded all-wheel drive system, and enhanced steering response. The Huracan EVO’s starting price is upwards of £165,256.
Lancia’s mid-range car of the 1970s started out in 1972 with the Beta Berlina, but it was not long before they filled out their range, first with a Coupe, in 1974 then a three door model called HPE in 1975 and finally an open topped model, the Spyder. Launched in 1976, the open-topped version of the Coupe was designed by Pininfarina but actually built by Zagato, which is why it was known as the Zagato in America. The Spyder used the Coupé’s shorter wheelbase and featured a targa top roof panel, a roll-over bar and folding rear roof.. Early models did not have a cross-member supporting the roof between the tops of the A to B pillars. Later models had fixed cross-members. It was initially powered by either the 1600 or 1800 twin-cam engine, later being replaced by the new 1.6 and 2.0. It never received the IE or VX engines. There were fuel injected engines for the US market. Lancia spelt the name with a “y” rather than an “i” possibly to differentiate the car from the Alfa Romeo Spider, though most people tend to use the “Spider” spelling these days. 9390 examples were built.
In 1987, a new version of the mid-engined Esprit was unveiled, incorporating rounder styling cues given by designer Peter Stevens (who later designed the McLaren F1). A new Lotus patented process was introduced to create the new body, called the VARI (Vacuum Assisted Resin Injection) process, which offered more advantages than the previous hand laid process. Kevlar reinforcement was added to the roof and sides for roll-over protection, resulting in an increase of the Esprit’s torsional rigidity by 22 percent. Giugiaro is said to have liked the restyling, claiming it was perhaps too close to his original design. The Stevens styled cars retained the mechanical components of the previous High Compression Esprit and Turbo Esprit, but introduced a stronger Renault transaxle, which necessitated a move to outboard rear brakes. However, the MY 1988 North American Esprit Turbo kept its Citroën SM type transaxle and the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system used in the previous model year. The car’s Type 910 engine retained 215 bhp and 220 lb·ft, but decreased its zero to sixty from 5.6 seconds to a varied time between 5.4 – 5.1 seconds and a top speed of over 150 mph. The exterior style changes were accompanied by a redesign of the interior, allowing a little more space for the occupants. The Stevens styled Esprit is often known by its project code of X180. In 1989, the Esprit was again improved with the GM multi-port, electronic fuel injection system and the addition of a water to air intercooler, which Lotus has named the Chargecooler, producing the SE (Special Equipment). This inline-four engine was known as the Type 910S. Horsepower was pushed up to 264 with 280 available on overboost and zero to sixty miles per hour times reduced to 4.7 seconds with a top speed of over 160 mph. Several modifications were made to the body kit as well, like side skirts which are parallel to the body, five air ducts in the front air dam, wing mirrors from the Citroën CX and the addition of a rear wing. Along with the SE, Lotus produced the little seen Esprit S, a midrange turbocharged car offering fewer appointments and 228 hp, as well as the standard turbo still offering 215 hp . The N/A and lower-powered turbo were cancelled after 1990, and the S in 1991. Another unusual variant was a two-litre “tax special” developed for the Italian market, fitted with an intercooled and turbocharged version of a new 1,994 cc version of the venerable 900-series four-cylinder engine. Equipped with SE trim, this appeared in December 1991 and produced 243 PS at 6,250 rpm. Beginning in the autumn of 1996, this engine became available in other markets as well. The Esprit was a popular and successful addition to the American IMSA Bridgestone Supercar Championship and as a result Lotus produced the SE-based X180R, with horsepower bumped to 300 and with racing appointments. The Sport 300 was a derivative of the X180R sold in Europe, which included many modifications. These are known as the fastest of the four-cylinder Esprits and among the most desirable. In 1993, another exterior and interior revamp of the car resulted in the S4 which was the first model to include power steering. The exterior redesign was done by Julian Thompson, which included a smaller rear spoiler placed halfway up the rear decklid. Other major changes were to the front and rear bumpers, side skirts and valence panels. New five spoke alloy wheels were also included in the redesign. The S4 retained the same horsepower as the SE at 264 hp.The S4 was succeeded in 1994 by the S4s (S4 sport), which upped power to 300 bhp and 290 lb·ft of torque, improving all-around performance while retaining the comfort of the previous version. Top speed was increased to 168 mph, skidpad increased to 0.91g, an increased slalom of 61.7 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 4.6 seconds. Although the engine kept its 2.2-litre capacity, many modifications were added to improve engine performance. Some of the changes were enlarged inlet ports, cylinder head modifications, a re-calibrated ECM and a revised turbocharger. The most visible external styling changes was the addition of a larger rear wing taken from the Sport 300. In 1996 the Esprit V8 used Lotus’ self-developed all-aluminium, twin-turbocharged (Garrett T25/60 turbos) 90-degree V-8, Code-named Type 918, in front of the same Renault transmission as before with no Chargecooler. Derek Bell developed an uprated gearbox that overcame a lot of the gearbox problems with a much thicker single piece input shaft. The Type 918 engine was detuned from a potential 500 bhp to 350 bhp to prevent gearbox damage due to the fragility of the Renault UN-1 transmission. In period tests, zero to sixty miles per hour came in at 4.4 seconds and top speeds of over 175 mph were achieved. Produced alongside V8 models was the GT3, a turbocharged four-cylinder car with the type 920 2.0 litre chargecooled and turbocharged engine which had been used only in Italian market cars previously. In 1998 the V8 range was split into SE and GT specifications, both cars with a much changed interior configuration, both offering similar performance with the SE being the more luxurious of the two. The ultimate incarnation of the Esprit came in 1999 with the Sport 350. Only 50 were made, each offering 350 horsepower (per the name) and various engine, chassis and braking improvements, like the addition of AP Racing brakes, stiffer springs and a revised ECU. Several visual changes were made as well, including the addition of a large carbon fibre rear wing on aluminium uprights in place of the standard fibreglass rear wing. By this time the Esprit could reach 60 mph in 4.3 seconds as well as reaching 0-100 mph in less than 10 seconds, and weighed 1,300 kg (2,866 lb) as a result of many modifications. Thereafter, Lotus made little development aside from minor cosmetic changes including a switch to four round tail lights for the 2002 model year. Esprit production ceased in February 2004 after a 28 year production run. A total of 10,675 Esprits were produced.
It is now over 20 years since Lotus launched the Elise, a model which showed a return to the core values of simplicity and light-weight which were cornerstones of Colin Chapman’s philosophy when he founded the marque in 1955. The first generation Elise was produced for just over 4 years, with a replacement model, the Series 2 arriving in October 2000. It came about as the Series 1 could not be produced beyond the 2000 model production year due to new European crash sustainability regulations. Lacking the funding to produce a replacement, Lotus needed a development partner to take a share of investment required for the new car. General Motors offered to fund the project, in return for a badged and GM-engined version of the car for their European brands, Opel and Vauxhall. The result was therefore two cars, which although looking quite different, shared much under the skin: a Series 2 Elise and the Vauxhall VX220 and Opel Speedster duo. The Series 2 Elise was a redesigned Series 1 using a slightly modified version of the Series 1 chassis to meet the new regulations, and the same K-series engine with a brand new Lotus-developed ECU. The design of the body paid homage to the earlier M250 concept, and was the first Lotus to be designed by computer. Both the Series 2 Elise and the Opel Speedster/Vauxhall VX220 were built on the same production line, in a new facility at Hethel. Both cars shared many parts, including the chassis, although they had different drive-trains and power-plants. The VX220 carried the Lotus internal model identification Lotus 116, with the code name Skipton for the launch 2.2 normally aspirated version and Tornado for the 2 litre Turbo which came out in 2004. Fitted with 17 inch over the Elise’s 16 inch front wheels, the Vauxhall/Opel version ceased production in late 2005 and was replaced by the Opel GT for February 2007, with no RHD version for the United Kingdom. The Elise lived on. and indeed is still in production now, some 15 years later, though there have been countless different versions produced in that time. Whilst the first of the Series 2 cars came with the Rover K-Series engine, and that included the 111S model which had the VVC engine technology producing 160 hp, a change came about in 2005 when Lotus started to use Toyota engines. This was initially due to Lotus’ plans to introduce the Elise to the US market, meaning that an engine was needed which would comply with US emissions regulations. The selected 1.8 litre (and later 1.6 litre) Toyota units did, and the K-series did not. that MG-Rover went out of business in 2005 and engine production ceased confirmed the need for the change. Since then, Lotus have offered us track focused Elise models like the 135R and Sport 190, with 135 bhp and 192 bhp respectively, as well as the 111R, the Sport Racer, the Elise S and Elise R. In 2008 an even more potent SC model, with 218 bhp thanks to a non-intercooled supercharger was added to the range. In February 2010, Lotus unveiled a facelifted version of the second generation Elise. The new headlights are now single units; triangular in shape they are somewhat larger than the earlier lights. The cheapest version in Europe now has a 1.6 litre engine to comply with Euro 5 emissions, with the same power output as the earlier 1.8 136bhp car. Lotus has been through some difficult times in recent years, but things are looking more optimistic again, with production numbers having risen significantly in the last couple of years, after a period when next to no cars were made. The Elise is still very much part of the range. Seen here were an array of Series 1 and Series 2 models.
Final Lotus of note was this example of the latest Exige, a model which has moved quite a way from its Elise roots with the adoption of 3.5 litre Toyota power and changed body styling. Successive updates have added power to the car and money to the price tag.
After producing BiTurbo based cars for 17 years, Maserati replaced their entire range with a new model in July 1998, the 3200 GT. This very elegant 2+2 grand tourer was styled by Italdesign, whose founder and head Giorgetto Giugiaro had previously designed, among others, the Ghibli, Bora and Merak. The interior design was commissioned to Enrico Fumia. Its name honoured the Maserati 3500 GT, the Trident’s first series production grand tourer. Sold mainly in Europe, the 3200 GT was powered by the twin-turbo, 32-valve, dual overhead cam 3.2-litre V8 engine featured in the Quattroporte Evoluzione, set up to develop 370 PS (365 hp). The car was praised for its styling, with the distinctive array of tail-lights, consisting of LEDs, arranged in the shape of boomerang being particularly worthy of comment. The outer layer of the ‘boomerang’ provided the brake light, with the inner layer providing the directional indicator. The car was also reviewed quite well by the press when they got to drive it in early 1999, though it was clear that they expected more power and excitement. That came after 4,795 cars had been produced, in 2001, with the launch of the 4200 models. Officially called the Coupé and joined by an open-topped Spyder (Tipo M138 in Maserati speak), these models had larger 4.2 litre engines and had been engineered so the cars could be sold in America, marking the return to that market for Maserati after an 11 year gap. There were some detailed styling changes, most notable of which were the replacement of the boomerang rear lights with conventional rectangular units. Few felt that this was an improvement. Minor changes were made to the model during its six year production, but more significant was the launch at the 2004 Geneva Show of the GranSport which sported aerodynamic body cladding, a chrome mesh grille, carbon fibre interior trim, and special 19-inch wheels. It used the Skyhook active suspension, with a 0.4 inch lower ride height, and the Cambiocorsa transmission recalibrated for quicker shifts. The exhaust was specially tuned to “growl” on start-up and full throttle. The GranSport was powered by the same 4244 cc, 90° V8 petrol engine used on the Coupé and Spyder, but developing 400 PS (395 hp) at 7000 rpm due primarily to a different exhaust system and improvements on the intake manifolds and valve seats. A six-speed paddle shift transmission came as standard. The GranSport has a claimed top speed of 180 mph (290 km/h) and a 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) time of 4.8 seconds. The cars proved popular, though, selling strongly up until 2007 when they were replaced by the next generation of Maserati.
Also here was an example of the still current GranCabrio.
In early 2016, McLaren announced that they would split their product range into three distinct Series: Sports, Super and Ultimate. The 650S was the core model in the Super Series, designed and developed to give the enthusiast driver the ultimate in luxury, engagement and excitement. Fitted with the award-winning 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine producing 650PS (641bhp) and 678Nm (500lb ft) of torque, it is a no compromise open-top high performance supercar with optimised levels of performance, handling and driver enjoyment. The secret of its success is its carbon fibre MonoCell chassis, which needs no extra strengthening to provide the necessary rigidity or safety when developing a convertible. This keeps any weight increase to a minimum, meaning the McLaren 650S Spider offers all the enjoyment and driver appeal of the fixed-roof sibling – but with the added appeal of roof-down driving. The 650S Spider is fitted with an electrically retractable hard top, which can be automatically raised or lowered on the move in less than 17 seconds. Building on the success of the MP4 12C, with which it shares much, the 650S series, first seen at the 2014 Geneva Show has proved very popular, helping to establish the brand as a serious rival to the established supercar players. The car seen here is a 650S Spider with some personalisation from MSO. It was also a car that I had seen at Shelsley Walsh the day before this visit.
Attracting a fair bit of interest was this A35 AMG, a model released this year as an interim step between the regular A Class Mercedes hatches and the forthcoming full-on A45 AMG car. It is intended to compete with the Audi S3 and Golf GTi, but the reviews of it were a bit luke warm, suggesting that you probably need to be a Mercedes fan to put it at the top of your shopping list.
From that previous generation were a couple of different models, the lairy-looking A45 AMG, with subtelty a word definitely missing from its vocabulary (among other things!) and the exceedingly cramped and rather disappointing CLA Saloon.
From the opposite end of the Mercedes range was this GT Roadster, one of what has become a vast range of different versions of the current sporting top of the range.
As one of Britain’s most popular classic cars, it was no surprise to find a nice example of the MGB here. Launched in October 1962, this car was produced for the next 18 years and it went on to become Britain’s best selling sports car. When first announced, the MGB was an innovative, modern design, with a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series, though components such as the brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA and the B-Series engine had its origins back in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength, and with a 95hp 3-bearing 1798cc engine under the bonnet, performance was quite respectable with a 0–60 mph time of just over 11 seconds. The car was rather more civilised than its predecessor, with wind-up windows now fitted as standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while being 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. A five-bearing engine was introduced in 1964 and a number of other modifications crept into the specification. In late 1967, sufficient changes were introduced for the factory to define a Mark II model. Alterations included synchromesh on all 4 gears with revised ratios, an optional Borg-Warner automatic gearbox, a new rear axle, and an alternator in place of the dynamo with a change to a negative earth system. To accommodate the new gearboxes there were significant changes to the sheet metal in the floorpan, and a new flat-topped transmission tunnel. US market cars got a new safety padded dashboard, but the steel item continued for the rest of the world. Rostyle wheels were introduced to replace the previous pressed steel versions in 1969 and reclining seats were standardised. 1970 also saw a new front grille, recessed, in black aluminium. The more traditional-looking polished grille returned in 1973 with a black “honeycomb” insert. Further changes in 1972 were to the interior with a new fascia. To meet impact regulations, in late 1974, the chrome bumpers were replaced with new, steel-reinforced black rubber bumpers, the one at the front incorporating the grille area as well, giving a major restyling to the B’s nose, and a matching rear bumper completed the change. New US headlight height regulations also meant that the headlamps were now too low. Rather than redesign the front of the car, British Leyland raised the car’s suspension by 1-inch. This, in combination with the new, far heavier bumpers resulted in significantly poorer handling. For the 1975 model year only, the front anti-roll bar was deleted as a cost-saving measure (though still available as an option). The damage done by the British Leyland response to US legislation was partially alleviated by revisions to the suspension geometry in 1977, when a rear anti-roll bar was made standard equipment on all models. US emissions regulations also reduced horsepower. In March 1979 British Leyland started the production of black painted limited edition MGB roadsters for the US market, meant for a total of 500 examples. Due to a high demand of the limited edition model, production ended with 6682 examples. The United Kingdom received bronze painted roadsters and a silver GT model limited editions. The production run of 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.
In mid 2001, an MG version of the 45 was launched, called the ZS, which gave MG a range of 3 different models as well as the TF sports car. Both the hatch and saloon bodystyles were offered. The view of the press was that the suspension and steering alterations completely transformed the car, but this model was in a difficult part of the market, compared to the smaller ZR and is found fewer buyers. Those who did sample the ZS, especially in ZS 180 guise with the 2.5 litre KV6 got an absolutely cracking car though. It sported a V6 with all the aural benefits when all its rivals had 4 cylinder turbo engines. Later cars were facelifted to distinguish them more clearly from the Rover 45, with elements of the X Power bodykit being made standard.
Final MG here was an example of the most recent MG sportscar, the MG TF. MG re-entered the sports car market in 1995 with the launch of the MGF Two versions of this mid-engined and affordable rival to the Mazda MX5 were offered: both of which used the 1.8 litre K-Series 16-valve engine. The cheaper of the two put out 118 hp and the more costly VVC model (by dint of its variable valve control) had 143 hp. Rover Special Projects had overseen the development of the F’s design and before finalising the styling bought-in outside contractors to determine the most appropriate mechanical configuration for the new car. Steve Harper of MGA Developments produced the initial design concept in January 1991 (inspired by the Jaguar XJR-15 and the Ferrari 250LM), before Rover’s in house design team refined the concept under the leadership of Gerry McGovern. The MGF used the Hydragas suspension, a system employing interconnected fluid and gas displacers, which gave the car a surprisingly compliant ride and which could be tuned to provide excellent handling characteristics. The MG F quickly shot to the top of the affordable sports car charts in Britain and remained there until the introduction of the MG TF in 2002. The MG F underwent a facelift in Autumn of 1999 which gave the car a revised interior as well as styling tweaks and fresh alloy wheels designs. There was also the introduction of a base 1.6 version and a more powerful 160 hp variant called the Trophy 160, which had a 0-60 mph time of 6.9 seconds. It was only produced for a limited time. An automatic version with a CVT called the Steptronic was also introduced. A comprehensive update in 2002 resulted in the MG TF, named after the MG TF Midget of the 1950s. Based upon the MG F platform but heavily redesigned and re-engineered, the most significant mechanical changes were the abandonment of Hydragas suspension in favour of conventional coil springs, the new design of the air-induction system that along with new camshafts produces more power than in MG F engines, and the torsional stiffness of the body increased by 20%. Various cosmetic changes included a revised grille, redesigned front headlights, bumpers, side air-intake grills and changes to the rear boot,. The car continued to sell well. Production was suspended when MG-Rover went out of business, but resumed again in 2007 when Nanjing built a number more.
Representing the modern MINI was this example of a first generation MINI John Cooper Works GP, the last Mk I MINI variant to be produced using the supercharged Tritec engine. This was sold as a light-weight, quasi-race-prepped John Cooper Works model, hand-finished by Bertone in Italy. It was offered as a limited-production run of 2000 cars during the 2006 model year, with 444 of those originally intended for the UK market, although ultimately, 459 were sold, even though the price was somewhat eye-watering. The GP featured more bolstered Recaro front seats but had no rear seats, which along with reduced sound-deadening, removal of the rear wash-wipe system, optional air-conditioning and radio, and other weight-reduction steps, resulted in a weight saving of around 40 kg (88 lb) compared to a Cooper S. Mechanically, it featured a less restrictive intercooler, recalibrated engine management, high-volume injector nozzles, and a freer-flowing exhaust system. Extra cooling capabilities lets the supercharged engine run longer on cooler temperatures for better track performance. This resulted in an output of 218 hp from a faster revving engine. Additionally, the car had enhanced braking, suspension, and a smooth under-body for better aerodynamics. The whole geometry of the rear axle was modified with parts from the Mini Challenge race car to enhance the handling. In place of the rear seats there is a metal bar for a stiffer chassis performance. The car also offered many unique styling points, such as the red door mirrors, a carbon fibre rear spoiler, unique body kit, bespoke, 2 kg lighter four-spoke alloy wheels, and specialised badging. Available in just one colour scheme (Thunder Blue with a Pure Silver roof), each car was individually numbered and featured a decal on the roof along with a plaque on the dashboard. Although they were costly when new, they have held their value very well, and rarely come up for sale even now, more than 10 years after they were new.
After producing limited numbers of the Aero Max and later open topped version of what had been Morgan’s first new bodystyle since the ill-fated Plus 4 Plus of 1964 at the 2015 Morgan announced the revival of the original Aero 8 but with updated mechanicals, and it was one of these cars that was seen here.
This was the car which convinced me that I needed to stop by Caffeine & Machine, as the venue had posted pictures of it on their Facebook page, and I knew that this could well prove it be the only chance I would get to see it in the metal in the UK. It is the special version of the GT-R produced to celebrate the model’s 50th anniversary which was premiered at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last year. The car has since gone on a world tour that’s seen it displayed at Laguna Seca in California during the Monterey Motorsports Reunion, Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and the Nissan Crossing in Japan. The Nissan GT-R 50 by Italdesign was confirmed for series production in December 2018. The Nissan GT-R50 by Italdesign stands out from the regular Japanese sports car thanks to its bespoke bodywork which includes an active rear wing. In terms of power, the GT-R Nismo’s 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine has been upgraded with new internals and now pumps out 710 hp and 575 lb-ft (780 Nm) of torque. The Japanese manufacturer will build just 50 examples with each one priced at €990,000 ($1.12 million) before taxes and optional extras.
Also on display was the latest 2020 version of the GT-R Nismo.
There were also several of the regular R35 generation model GT-R cars here, showing how the car has evolved quite subtly from the first UK market cars of 2009.
Earlier generations of the GT-R were here, too. There were a couple of very different examples from the R32 generation. The R32 generation Skyline debuted in 1989 and was available as either a 2-door coupe or 4-door hardtop sedan, all previous bodystyles were dropped. The R32 featured several versions of the RB-series straight-6 engines, which had improved heads (the twelve port inlet was gone) and used the ECCS (Electronically Concentrated Control System) injection system. Also available was an 1,800 cc 4-cylinder GXi model. Most models had HICAS four-wheel steering, with the rear wheels being hydraulically linked to the front steering. The 2.5-litre GTS-25 became one of the first Japanese production cars to feature a 5-speed automatic transmission. The GTS-t came in standard and Type M configurations, with the Type M having larger five-stud 16-inch wheels, four piston front callipers and twin piston rears plus other minor differences. ABS was optional (except for the GT-R and GTS-4), mechanical LSD was standard on the GTR and viscous LSD was standard on all turbo models and optional on all but the GXi. Nissan also produced 100 Australian models of the R32. In addition, there was a 4WD version of the GTS-t Type M, called the GTS-4. This generation was considered a “compact” under Japanese legislation that determined the amount of tax liability based on exterior dimensions. The smaller engines were offered so as to provide Japanese buyers the ability to choose which annual road tax obligation they were willing to pay. The station wagon bodystyle was discontinued, and replaced by the Nissan Stagea. 296,087 of these cars were sold in its five year production run.
Also here was the next generation R33 model.
Completing the Nissan picture was this 370Z Nismo, still a current model, one which has been in production for nearly a decade now.
Follow on to the Noble M10, the M12 was a two-door, two-seat model, originally planned both as a coupe and as a convertible. All M12s were powered by modified bi-turbocharged Ford Duratec V6 engines. There was a full steel roll cage, steel frame, and G.R.P. (fibreglass) composite clam shell body parts. Although looking to be track derived, the M12 was street-legal, ready for both road and track. The M12 has no anti-roll bars on the car, allowing for a comfortable feel. The coupe evolved through four versions of Noble cars, with the 425 bhp M400 as the ultimate version of the M12, following the first 2.5 litre 310 bhp car, the 352 bhp 3 litre GTO-3 and the GTO-3R. The car was sold in the US, where it proved quite popular, with 220 GTO-3Rs and M400s sold there. US production rights were sold in February 2007 to 1G Racing from Ohio. Due to high demand of these cars, 1G Racing (now Rossion Automotive) released its own improved car based on the M400, named Rossion Q1. Another company which is also producing a model developed from the M12 is Salica Cars 1 with their Salica GT and Salica GTR.
Perhaps the best loved of all Peugeot models is the 205 GTi, and there was one of these here. Peugeot launched their new “supermini”, the 205 in January 1983, just one day after Fiat had presented the Uno, one of the car’s principal rivals. It was an immediate hit, with smart styling and a range of engines which combined with sharp handling made it good to drive. Mindful of the success of the Golf GTi, in the class above, and how a small car with good handling could take more power, as the Mini Cooper had proved, Peugeot came up with the GTi in early 1984. The first models had a 1.6 litre XU5J engine, producing 105 PS, which was uprated in 1987 with a cylinder head with larger valves thus becoming XU5JA, which took the power output up to 115 bhp. Visually the car retained the good looks of the 3 door version of the regular models, but it featured plastic wheel arch extensions and trim, beefier front and rear bumper valances and judicious use of red badging and trim. The shell also underwent some minor changes, including larger wheel arches (to suit the larger wheels , and the suspension was redesigned and sat lower on the GTI with stiffer springs, different wishbones and a drop-linked anti-roll bar. Red was a dominant colour inside. The car was an instant hit. At the end of 1986, Peugeot followed up with a more potent model, the 1.9 GTi, whose XU9JA engine produced 128 PS. Internally the engine of this car and the 1.6 model are very similar, the main differences on 1.9 litre versions being the longer stroke, oil cooler, and some parts of the fuel injection system. The shorter stroke 1.6 litre engine is famed for being revvy and eager, while the 1.9 litre feels lazier and torquier. Outside the engine bay the main differences between the 1.6 GTi and the 1.9 GTi are half-leather seats on the 1.9 GTi vs. cloth seats and disc brakes all-round (1.9 GTi) vs. discs at the front and drum brakes at the back; as well as the 14-inch Speedline SL201 wheels on the 1.6 GTi vs. 15 inch Speedline SL299 alloys on the 1.9 GTi. The 205 is still often treated as a benchmark in group car tests of the newest GTI models or equivalent. Peugeot itself has never truly recreated this success in future GTI models, although they came very close with the highly regarded GTI-6 variant of the Peugeot 306.
There have been GTi badged versions of all the Peugeot models whose numbering starts with a 2 ever since, but the next two failed pretty comprehensively to generate any sort of enthusiasm among anyone really. The 208 GTi, launched in 2014 promised rather more and did receive quite positive reviews, though no-one apart from the French thought it troubled the Fiesta ST as an overall proposition. This rather unusual two tone paint, with the split being front and back rather than top and bottom is an option which a few buyers have taken up.
Also here was a 106 Quiksilver. The Peugeot 106 is a city car produced between 1991 and 2003. Launched in September 1991, it was Peugeot’s entry level offering throughout its production life, and was initially sold only as a three door hatchback, with a five door hatchback joining the range in the beginning of 1992. Production ended in July 2003. A wide range of petrol and diesel engines were offered, initially with carburettors but these were quickly change over to fuel injection when mandatory catalysts came in. Peugeot offered a bewildering array of limited production models over the 106’s life and the Quiksilver was one of those. It was available with a choice of either the 1.1 or 1.4 litre petrol engines. Available only in silver with a black interior fitted with Quiksilver badges and logos on the exterior, the special edition was a bit of a gimmick, but silver was the best colour for the 106 and the Quiksilver brand – whatever it’s meant to be – was considered cool by people who like to get wet for sporting reasons. Few have survived.
Oldest Porsche here was this rather impressive 550RS replica.
The 924 was originally another joint project of Volkswagen and Porsche created by the Vertriebsgesellschaft (VG), the joint sales and marketing company funded by Porsche and VW to market and sell sports cars, For Volkswagen, it was intended to be that company’s flagship coupé sports car and was dubbed “Project 425” during its development. For Porsche, it was to be its entry-level sports car replacing the 914. At the time, Volkswagen lacked a significant internal research and design division for developing sports cars; further, Porsche had been doing the bulk of the company’s development work anyway, per a deal that went back to the 1940s. In keeping with this history, Porsche was contracted to develop a new sporting vehicle with the caveat that this vehicle must work with an existing VW/Audi inline-four engine. Porsche chose a rear-wheel drive layout and a rear-mounted transaxle for the design to help provide 48/52 front/rear weight distribution; this slight rear weight bias aided both traction and brake balance. The 1973 oil crisis, a series of automobile-related regulatory changes enacted during the 1970s and a change of directors at Volkswagen made the case for a Volkswagen sports car less striking and the 425 project was put on hold. After serious deliberation at VW, the project was scrapped entirely after a decision was made to move forward with the cheaper, more practical, Golf-based Scirocco model instead. Porsche, which needed a model to replace the 914, made a deal with Volkswagen leadership to buy the design back. The deal specified that the car would be built at the ex-NSU factory in Neckarsulm located north of the Porsche headquarters in Stuttgart, Volkswagen becoming the subcontractor. Hence, Volkswagen employees would do the actual production line work (supervised by Porsche’s own production specialists) and that Porsche would own the design. It became one of Porsche’s best-selling models, and the relative cheapness of building the car made it both profitable and fairly easy for Porsche to finance. The original design used an Audi-sourced four-speed manual transmission from a front wheel drive car but now placed and used as a rear transaxle. It was mated to VW’s EA831 2.0 litre 4 cylinder engine, subsequently used in the Audi 100 and the Volkswagen LT van (common belief is that ‘the engine originated in the LT van’, but it first appeared in the Audi car and in 924 form has a Porsche-designed cylinder head). The 924 engine used Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, producing 125 bhp in European cars, but a rather paltry 95 bhp for the US market models, though this was improved to 110 hp in mid-1977 with the introduction of a catalytic converter, which reduced the need for power-robbing smog equipment. The four-speed manual was the only transmission available for the initial 1976 model, later this was replaced by a five-speed dog-leg unit. An Audi three-speed automatic was offered starting with the 1977.5 model. In 1980 the five-speed transmission was changed to a conventional H-pattern, with reverse now on the right beneath fifth gear. Porsche made small improvements to the 924 each model year between 1977 and 1985, but nothing major was changed on non-turbo cars. Porsche soon recognised the need for a higher-performance version of the 924 that could bridge the gap between the basic 924s and the 911s. Having already found the benefits of turbochargers on several race cars and the 1975 911 turbo, Porsche chose to use this technology for the 924, eventually introducing the 924 turbo as a 1978 model. Porsche started with the same Audi-sourced VW EA831 2.0 litre engine, designed an all new cylinder head (which was hand assembled at Stuttgart), dropped the compression to 7.5:1 and engineered a KKK K-26 turbocharger for it. With 10 psi boost, output increased to 170 hp. The 924 turbo’s engine assembly weighed about 65 lb more, so front spring rates and anti-roll bars were revised. Weight distribution was now 49/51 compared to the original 924 figure of 48/52 front to rear. In order to help make the car more functional, as well as to distinguish it from the naturally aspirated version, Porsche added an NACA duct in the bonnet and air intakes in the badge panel in the nose, 15-inch spoke-style alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with five-stud hubs and a five-speed transmission. Forged 16-inch flat wheels of the style used on the 928 were optional, but fitment specification was that of the 911 which the 924 shared wheel offsets with. Internally, Porsche called it the “931” (left hand drive) and “932” (right hand drive). The turbocharged VW EA831 engine allowed the 924’s performance to come surprisingly close to that of the 911 SC (180 bhp), thanks in part to a lighter curb weight, but it also brought reliability problems. This was in part due to the fact that the general public did not know how to operate, or care for, what is by today’s standards a primitive turbo setup. A turbocharger cooled only by engine oil led to short component life and turbo-related seal and seat problems. To fix the problems, Porsche released a revised 924 turbo series 2 (although badging still read “924 turbo”) in 1979. By using a smaller turbocharger running at increased boost, slightly higher compression of 8:1 and an improved fuel injection system with DITC ignition triggered by the flywheel, reliability improved and power rose to 177 hp. In 1984, VW decided to stop manufacturing the engine blocks used in the 2.0 litre 924, leaving Porsche with a predicament. The 924 was considerably cheaper than its 944 stablemate, and dropping the model left Porsche without an affordable entry-level option. The decision was made to equip the narrower bodied 924 with a slightly detuned version of the 944’s 163 bhp 2.5 litre straight four, upgrading the suspension but retaining the 924’s early interior. The result was 1986’s 150 bhp 924S. In 1988, the 924S’ final year of production, power increased to 160 bhp matching that of the previous year’s Le Mans spec cars and the base model 944, itself detuned by 3 bhp. This was achieved using different pistons which raised the S’ compression ratio from 9.7:1 to 10.2:1, the knock-on effect being an increase in the octane rating, up from 91 RON to 95. This made the 924S slightly faster than the base 944 due to its lighter weight and more aerodynamic body. With unfavourable exchange rates in the late 1980s, Porsche decided to focus its efforts on its more upmarket models, dropping the 924S for 1989 and the base 944 later that same year.
There were also a couple of the equally highly acclaimed Cayman GT4. Much rumoured for some time, the Cayman GT4 was officially launched at the 2015 Geneva Show, positioned to sit between the Cayman GTS and the 911 GT3. By the time of the official unveiling, the car was supposedly sold out many times over, though more recently it has become apparent that at least some Porsche dealers have been holding onto cars claiming that the first purchaser changed their mind, and then offering them to those who did not get one of the allocation a year ago, at vastly inflated prices. If true, this is very sharp practice indeed, but seems to be the sort to tricks that are becoming increasingly common as enthusiasts are being fleeced in the name of extra profit. For a starting price of around £65,000 in the UK, the lucky customer would get a car which used used a stiffened and strengthened Cayman bodyshell as a starting point, but lowered by 30mm . Porsche say that in fitting as many GT parts as possible, they did not make it out of a Cayman GTS, but rather they produced an entry-level mid-engined GT3 car. That sounds like PR spin to me, as of course the car does use an awful lot of parts from the regular Cayman. However, plenty is changed, too. There is a reworked version of the Carrera S’s 3.8-litre flat six engine, producing 380bhp at 7400rpm and 310lb ft at 4750-6000rpm, hooked up to a modified version of the Cayman GTS’s six-speed manual gearbox. A PDK dual-clutch automatic was considered but rejected, meaning the Cayman GT4 is manual only. This is enough to mean that the 0-62mph sprint takes 4.4sec and the top speed is 183mph, with combined fuel economy of 27.4mpg and CO2 emissions rated at 238g/km. The front axle and suspension are borrowed from the 911 GT3 and the rear axle and forged aluminium double wishbone suspension are completely new. Dampers are taken from the 911 GT3. The electric steering system from the 911 GT3 does make it onto the Cayman GT4 but is given new software. Stopping power is provided by standard steel brakes, or optional carbon-ceramics from the 911 GT3. The forged 20in alloy wheels were new and are shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. The rear 295/30 ZR20 tyres are bespoke, but the front 245/35 ZR20s were borrowed from the 911 GT3 as they were “a perfect match”. design-wise, the goal was to create a “zero lift car”, but thanks to the extensive aerodynamic and cooling package on the car – which includes a front splitter, a larger front grille and increased frontal air intakes, side air intakes, not one but two rear spoilers and a fully functional diffuser – the Cayman GT4 produces as much downforce at speed (100kg) as the 911 GT3. Every single part on the Cayman GT4 has a functional use. Other design features include “cool” black glass on the front and rear lights, blackened twin central exhausts and quality stitching on the twin lightweight bucket seats, taken from the 918 Spyder, as small details adding to that ‘want factor’.Despite all the extra equipment, the Cayman GT4 weighs no more than a Cayman GTS, tipping the scales at 1340kg dry. You could delete items such as the sat-nav and air-con to save weight, but few customers did, just as with the 911 GT3 RS were just 2% of buyers deleted the air-con. Inside, the steering wheel was new. The sports seats were trimmed in both leather and Alcantara. Standard equipment included bi-xenon headlights, a sports exhaust system, a Sport Chrono Package with dynamic engine mounts, the Porsche Torque Vectoring system, a mechanical limited-slip differential at the rear and the Porsche Stability Management system. On the options list were items such as carbonfibre-reinforced, plastic-backed seats for the two-seat interior. These weigh just 15kg each and were inspired by the 918 Spyder. A customised version of the Sport Chrono Package was offered, as is a Club Sport Package. Initially it was declared that production would be very limited, but Porsche soon relented and far more were built than had originally been declared.
Porsche revealed the latest Boxster Spyder based on the 981 Boxster in April 2015 at the New York Auto Show. The styling of the car is similar to the previous generation Spyder, continuing the twin hump rear deck and manually operated canvas top. It also shares some styling with the Cayman GT4, using the same front and rear fascia. The engine is also shared with the Cayman GT4, a 3.8 litre flat-6, making this the largest and most powerful engine used in a Boxster with 385 bhp. It was the lightest Porsche, weighing 1,315 kilograms (2,899 lb). This was achieved through the use of aluminium doors and rear boot lid, a manually operated roof and unique lightweight 20 inch wheels. The air conditioning and audio system were also removed, although they can be added as no cost options. Braking is via larger brakes than used on the Boxster S, being 340mm front and 330mm rear units taken from the 911 Carrera S. Also shared with the GT4 is a limited slip differential combined with Porsche Torque Vectoring and features a 20mm lower ride height. Additionally it also borrows the steering rack from the 911 Turbo S along with the same reduced diameter GT steering wheel as used in both the GT3 and GT4. The Boxster Spyder was only available with a 6 speed manual transmission. The Spyder had a base price of US$82,100 and was only available as a 2016 model with a total worldwide production of 2400 units, with 850 destined for the US.
Other example of the 718 Boxster were also here.
There were far more examples of the evergreen 911 here. These ranged from some early models with a 2.4 and 2.7 Carrera RS from the early 1970s representing the first of the body styles, as well as what is known as the G Series from the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The “GT3” nameplate was introduced in 1999 as part of the first generation of the Porsche 996 model range (commonly known as 996.1. As with Porsche’s previous 911 RS models, the 996 GT3 was focused on racing, and so was devoid of items that added unnecessary weight to the car. Sound deadening was almost completely removed, as were the rear seats, rear loud speakers, sunroof, and air conditioning, although automatic air conditioning and CD/radio became no-cost optional add-ons. The engine of the 996 GT3 set it apart from most of the other Porsche 996 models, although it shared the same basic design of the standard so-called “integrated dry sump” flat-six engine. The engine is naturally aspirated and based on the unit used in the Porsche 962 and Porsche 911 GT1 race cars. That engine was known as the ‘Mezger’ engine, after its designer Hans Mezger. The engine uses the original air-cooled 911’s versatile dry-sump crankcase, with an external oil reservoir. The 996 GT3 has 360 PS (355 bhp), compared to the 300 PS (296 bhp) of the regular Porsche 996. In GT3 configuration, this so-called “split” crankcase (meaning the parting line of crankcase is on the crankshaft centreline) uses, instead of a fan and finned cylinders, separate water jackets added onto each side of the crankcase to cool banks of three cylinders with water pumped through a radiator. Thus, the GT3 engine is very similar to the completely water-cooled Porsche 962 racing car’s engine, which is based on the same crankcase. The 962 differs, however, by using six individual cylinder heads while the GT1/GT3, like the air and water-cooled Porsche 959, uses two cylinder heads, each covering a bank of three cylinders. The GT3 engine could thus also be thought of as similar to a 959 engine, but with water-cooled cylinders. Up to early model year 2004 996 GT3 production, the basic casting used for the crankcase of the GT3 was the same as the air-cooled engine. The “964” casting number was visible on the bottom of the crankcase, and on areas normally machined in air-cooled applications, but not in water-cooled ones. The crankcase casting was changed in mid-2004 to a “996” casting number crankcase to eliminate these external air-cooled remnants, but internally it was the same. Because the 911 air-cooled crankcase uses the Porsche 356 engine to transmission mounting flange configuration, the 996 GT3 used a manual gearbox also of air-cooled 911 heritage. This gearbox has interchangeable gear ratios and is more durable making it more suitable for racing than the standard 911 type 996 gearbox. To bring the vehicle’s track-prowess to the maximum level, Porsche endowed the GT3 with enlarged brakes, a lowered, re-tuned suspension system, lighter-weight wheels and a new front bumper with matched rear spoiler to help increase downforce, thereby increasing grip. Porsche offered a no-cost option for the GT3 called the ‘Clubsport’ package. This option replaced the standard electrically adjustable leather front seats with manually adjustable racing buckets finished in fire-retardant fabric, single mass flywheel, bolt-in half-roll cage, 6-point drivers racing harness (also replacing the standard side airbags), fire extinguisher (mounted in the front passenger footwell) and preparation for a battery master switch. The Clubsport option was never offered to US customers, ostensibly due to the additional DOT crash testing that would have been required to allow US sales. Porsche made significant updates to the GT3 for 2004 (the first year the car was offered to US customers), using the 2002 996 facelift including headlights that were differentiated from the Porsche Boxster. The 2004 version is commonly known as the 996.2 GT3. Horsepower was raised to 381 PS and torque to 284 lb/ft (385 Nm), 80% of which was available from 2,000 rpm. The braking setup was upgraded, now featuring 6-piston calipers on the front (rears remained 4-piston), and the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake system was offered as an option. The popularity of the GT3 meant that this has been a feature of the 911 range ever since.
There were plenty of other 996, 997 and 991 models here, reflecting the popularity of the evergreen 911 as an enthusiast’s car.
The RS version of the 991 GT3 was launched at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, and featured in first drive articles in the press a few weeks later, with cars reaching the UK in the summer and another series of universally positive articles duly appearing. It had very big shoes to fill, as the 997 GT3 RS model was rated by everyone lucky enough to get behind the wheel, where the combination of extra power and reduced weight made it even better to drive than the standard non-RS version of the car. A slightly different approach was taken here, with the result weighing just 10kg less than the GT3. It is based on the extra wide body of the 991 Turbo. Compared to the 991 GT3, the front wings are now equipped with louvres above the wheels and the rear wings now include Turbo-like intakes, rather than an intake below the rear wing. The roof is made from magnesium a bonnet, whilst the front wings, rear deck and rear spoiler all in carbonfibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), the rear apron is in a new polyurethane-carbonfibre polymer and polycarbonate glazing is used for the side and rear windows. The wider body allows the RS’s axle tracks to grow, to the point where the rear track is some 72mm wider than that of a standard 3.4-litre Carrera and the tyres are the widest yet to be fitted to a road-going 911. A long-throw crankshaft made of extra-pure tempered steel delivers the 4mm of added piston stroke necessary to take the GT3’s 3.8-litre flat six out to 3996cc . The engine also uses a new induction system, breathing through the lateral air intakes of the Turbo’s body rather than through the rear deck cover like every other 911. This gives more ram-air effect for the engine and makes more power available at high speeds. It results in an output of 500 bhp and 339 lb/ft of torque. A titanium exhaust also saves weight. The suspension has been updated and retuned, with more rigid ball-jointed mountings and helper springs fitted at the rear, while Porsche’s optional carbon-ceramic brakes get a new outer friction layer. Which is to say nothing of the RS’s biggest advancement over any other 911: downforce. The rear wing makes up to 220kg of it, while the front spoiler and body profile generates up to 110kg. In both respects, that’s double the downforce of the old 997 GT3 RS 4.0. The transmission is PDK only. The result is a 0-62 mph time of just 3.3 seconds, some 0.6 seconds quicker than the 997 GT3 RS 4.0 and 0-124 mph (0-200kmh) in 10.9 seconds. The 991 GT3 RS also comes with functions such as declutching by “paddle neutral” — comparable to pressing the clutch with a conventional manual gearbox –- and Pit Speed limiter button. As with the 991 GT3, there is rear-axle steering and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus with fully variable rear axle differential lock. The Nürburgring Nordschleife time is 7 minutes and 20 seconds. The interior includes full bucket seats (based on the carbon seats of the 918 Spyder), carbon-fibre inserts, lightweight door handles and the Club Sport Package as standard (a bolted-on roll cage behind the front seats, preparation for a battery master switch, and a six-point safety harness for the driver and fire extinguisher with mounting bracket). Needless to say, the car was an instant sell out, even at a starting price of £131,296.
Also here was a 991 generation Carrera T. This was announced in October 2017. The 911 Carrera T (Touring), offered the base Carrera drivetrain but with shorter rear axle ratio, mechanical differential lock, PASM Sport lowered suspension, Sport Chrono package and sports exhaust as standard. Additional features include a reduced sound insulation, light-weight glass side/rear windows, Sport-Tex seats, a shortened shift lever, deletion of the rear seats and communication system (with their re-addition available as a no-cost option), Carrera S wheels, as well as optional rear-wheel steering, PDK transmission and bucket seats.
Also from the 991 generation was this 911 GT2 RS. The car was officially launched by Porsche at the 2017 Goodwood Festival of Speed along with the introduction of the 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series. The 991 GT2 RS is powered by a 3.8 L twin-turbocharged flat-6 engine that has a maximum power output of 700 PS (691 bhp) at 7,000 rpm and 750 Nm (553 lb/ft) of torque, making it the most powerful production 911 variant ever built. Unlike the previous GT2 versions, this car is fitted with a 7-speed PDK transmission to handle the excessive torque produced from the engine. Porsche claims that the car will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 2.7 seconds, and has a top speed of 340 km/h (211 mph). The car has a roof made of magnesium, front lid, front and rear wings and boot lid made of carbon-fibre, front and rear apron made of lightweight polyurethane, rear and side windows made of polycarbonate and a exhaust system made of titanium. Porsche claims that the car has a wet weight of 1,470 kg (3,241 lb). A Weissach package option is available, which reduces weight by 30 kg (66 lb), courtesy of the additional use of carbon-fibre and titanium parts. This includes the roof, the anti-roll bars, and the coupling rods on both axles being made out of carbon-fibre, while the roll cage is made from titanium. The package also includes a set of magnesium wheels. Deliveries started in 2018 and Porsche said that they would only build 1,000 units. Production ceased in February 2019.
Completing the array of Porsche models was the latest model, code-named the 992. This was launched at the Los Angeles Show last November, with UK deliveries starting a few weeks later. The initial range was limited to a couple of versions, but other the next few months far more will arrive, to provide the sort of extensive range that was offered in the last couple of generations.
The Clio RS models are both a valued classic and also a popular car for those who want a low cost motor sport competitor, meaning that you see both road and modified cars. This first generation Clio RS182 has been painted to look like some of the race cars.
As supplies of the new and highly rated A110 start to reach patient customers, most of whom placed an order and a deposit long ago, so the model becomes more visible at events where enthusiasts gather, and hence it was no great surprise to come across one here.
Another of the on-site residents, this is a P1 version of the first generation Impreza. To counter the grey imports of high-performance Japanese variants, Subaru UK commissioned Prodrive to produce a limited edition of 1,000 two-door cars in Sonic Blue, called the WRX “P1”. Released in March 2000, they were taken from the STI Type R lines and used for the P1. The car was the only coupé version of the WRX STI GC chassis to receive ABS. In order to allow for ABS, the DCCD was dropped. Engine output was boosted to 276 bhp, and the suspension optimised for British roads. Options were available from Subaru consisting of four-piston front brake calipers, electric Recaro seats, 18-inch wheels and a P1 stamped backbox. The P1, or Prodrive One, is echoed in the name of the Prodrive P2 concept car. They are among the most sought after of all Subaru Impreza models now.
Subaru introduced the “New Age” Impreza, the second generation car, to Japan in August 2000, and it arrived in Europe towards the end of that year. Larger in size compared to the previous iteration, the sedan increased its width by 40 millimetres (1.6 in), while the wagon notably increased by just 5 millimetres (0.2 in)—placing the two variants in different Japanese classification categories. The coupe body style from the first generation did not reappear for the new series, and the off-road appearance package that included contrasting-coloured bumpers did carry over forward. Marketed as a separate model line, this North America-only variant was, as before, badged the Outback Sport. Naturally aspirated flat-four (boxer) engines comprised the 1.5-litre EJ15, the 1.6-litre EJ16, the 2.0-litre EJ20, and the 2.5-litre EJ25. Turbocharged versions of the 2.0- and 2.5-litre engines were offered in the WRX and WRX STI models. STI models featured a more powerful 2.0-litre (2.5-litre outside of the Japanese market) turbocharged engine. WRX models featured a 2.0-litre turbocharged boxer engine until 2005, after which they switched to the 2.5-litre turbocharged engine. As with the first generation, the turbocharged STI variants were available in numerous specifications with a myriad of limited edition variants sold. The bug-eyed styling was not well received, and Subaru had two further attempts at the front end, neither of which was entirely successful, either, but enthusiasts were happy to overlook the gawky looks because the way the car drove. Subaru issued yearly updates to the STI, tweaking cosmetics and equipment levels, and also improving performance and handling. The car was replaced in 2007 by the third generation Impreza, widely regarded as inferior in many ways to this version.
The Cappuccino was a tiny Japanese sports car that found a small niche when offered to UK buyers. Designed to meet the Kei car specifications for lower tax and insurance in Japan, this tiny front mid-engined machine weighed just 725 kg and took its power from a turbocharged, three-cylinder, 12 valve 657 cc DOHC engine which generated 63 bhp. Its dimensions also conformed to Kei car regulations on length and width, being 3,295 mm (129.7 in) long and 1,395 mm (54.9 in) wide. Three removable roof panels meant that the car can be used as a closed coupé; T-top; targa; or, on retraction of the rear window and roll bar, a full convertible. Roof panels stowed in the boot, taking almost all the luggage space), and the rear window/rollcage assembly retracts into the body behind the seats. Unlike many convertibles of the time, the rear window is glass and wraparound, with demisting elements. Production began in 1991 and ceased in 1997. Suzuki UK decided that they wanted to sell the car, and it took 18 months of negotiation and technical co-operation between the Suzuki Motor Corporation and Suzuki GB to get the Cappuccino type approved and homologated for the UK market, with 23 adaptations to the Japanese Cappuccino. Finally, in October 1992 the Cappuccino had its first public viewing outside Japan, at the British International Motor Show. At the show, the Cappuccino won two prestigious IBCAM Design awards: “best sportscar under £20,000” and “best car of the show”. In October 1993 the Cappuccino was officially launched in the UK with a price of £11,995. Due to the car’s initial success in Japan, and the tight import quota of Japanese products to the UK, the original allocation of 1,500 cars was cut to 1,182. Such limited quantities dictated a streamlined colour choice: red and silver in the ratio 80:20. Between 1993–95 a total of 1,110 cars were registered in the UK, with the balance sold to other Suzuki distributors across Europe: Germany, France, the Netherlands and Sweden.
When I first saw this I had to do a double take to be sure it was what I thought it was, and everyone else who passed it seemed to have to do the same thing. It is indeed the recently superceded and long-running Jimny, but this is in Japanese spec which means that there are quite a lot of detailed differences from the versions sold here.
This is an example of the classic 40-series style Land Cruiser which was produced from 1960 right through to 1984, with minimal changes to the appearance, but plenty of detailed mechanical refinements. All models came with the same 2 door body style (the later and partially concurrent 70 style had 4 passenger doors), with a choice of fixed roof or open topped.
The Toyota Corolla Levin and the Toyota Sprinter Trueno are small, almost identical, lightweight, compact sports coupés which were produced by Toyota from 1972 to 2004. The name of this Corolla model was taken from one of the New Zealand venues of the Tasman Series motor races. However Levin in Old English does mean lightning and Trueno in Spanish means thunder. In Japan, the Corolla Levin was exclusive to Toyota Corolla Store locations, and the Sprinter Trueno was exclusive to Toyota Auto Store locations, later renamed Toyota Vista Store in 1980. The car seen here is a Trueno Coupe, and comes from the same family as the legendary AE86 Corolla sold between 1983 and 1987. The Corolla Levin came with fixed rectangular headlights which distinguished it from the Sprinter Trueno with retractable headlights. However, the American Corolla SR5 and GT-S also had retractable headlights the same as Japanese Trueno, but with longer bumpers to meet the US Federal standards. Two versions were offered: the AE85 was aimed more at economy with a 1.5 litre engine and the netter known AE86 was the sporting version with the 1588cc injected engine familiar in the Corolla versions sold in Europe. The car is venerated pretty much the world over these days and is of course the inspiration, both conceptually and in name, for the current GT86 model.
Final Toyota here was a third generation MR2. The third-generation MR2 was marketed as the Toyota MR-S in Japan, Toyota MR2 Spyder in the US, and the Toyota MR2 Roadster in Europe. Also known as the Midship Runabout-Sports, the newest MR2 took a different approach than its predecessor, most obviously becoming a convertible and receiving the ‘Spyder’ marketing nomenclature. The first prototype of MR-S appeared in 1997 at the Tokyo Motor Show. The MR2 Spyder chief engineer Harunori Shiratori said, “First, we wanted true driver enjoyment, blending good movement, low inertia and light weight. Then, a long wheelbase to achieve high stability and fresh new styling; a mid-engine design to create excellent handling and steering without the weight of the engine up front; a body structure as simple as possible to allow for easy customizing, and low cost to the consumer.” The only engine available for the ZZW30 was the all-aluminium alloy 1ZZ-FED, a 1.8 litre Inline-four engine. Like its predecessors, it used DOHC and 4 valves per cylinder. The intake camshaft timing was adjustable via the VVT-i system, which was introduced earlier on the 1998 MR2 in some markets. Unlike its predecessors, however, the engine was placed onto the car the other way round, with the exhaust manifold towards the rear of the car instead of towards the front. The maximum power of 138 bhp at 6,400 rpm and 126 lb/ft (171 Nm) of torque at 4,400 rpm was quite a drop from the previous generation, but thanks to the lightness of the car it could still move quite quickly, accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.8 to 8.7 seconds depending on the transmission option, the Sequential Manual being unable to launch and shift as quickly as the clutch operated manual. Curb weight is 996 kg (2,195 lb) for manual transmission models. In addition to the 5-speed manual transmission, a 6-speed manual or 5-speed Sequential Manual Transmission (SMT) was also available starting in 2002. The SMT was a standard feature in Australian market; however, air conditioning was optional. After 2003, a 6-speed SMT was an option. The SMT had no conventional H-pattern shift lever or clutch pedal. The driver could shift gears by tapping the shift lever forward or backward or by pressing steering-wheel mounted buttons. Clutch engagement is automatic, and the car will automatically shift to second and then first gear when stopping. Cruise control was never offered with the manual transmission, but was standard for SMT-equipped cars. The MR2 Spyder featured a heated glass rear window. A hard top was also available from Toyota in Japan and Europe. Production ended in 2007 and there was no direct successor. As well as the standard car, there was a heavily modified one here, too.
Representing TVR here was the Chimaera, the slightly softer version of the Griffith, that was sold from 1993 to 2003. Offered with a choice of 4.0, 4,3 and later 4.5 and 5 litre Rover V8-based engines, this was still an exciting car, and a good looking one as well.
The Type 2 “Bus” staged another appearance here. This one is from the second generation, first seen in late 1967. It was built in Germany until 1979. In Mexico, the Volkswagen Kombi and Panel were produced from 1970 to 1994. Models before 1971 are often called the T2a (or “Early Bay”), while models after 1972 are called the T2b (or “Late Bay”). This second-generation Type 2 lost its distinctive split front windshield, and was slightly larger and considerably heavier than its predecessor. Its common nicknames are Breadloaf and Bay-window, or Loaf and Bay for short. At 1.6 litres and 47 bhp DIN, the engine was also slightly larger. The battery and electrical system was upgraded to 12 volts, making it incompatible with electric accessories from the previous generation. The new model also did away with the swing axle rear suspension and transfer boxes previously used to raise ride height. Instead, half-shaft axles fitted with constant velocity joints raised ride height without the wild changes in camber of the Beetle-based swing axle suspension. The updated Bus transaxle is usually sought after by off-road racers using air-cooled Volkswagen components. The T2b was introduced by way of gradual change over three years. The first models featured rounded bumpers incorporating a step for use when the door was open (replaced by indented bumpers without steps on later models), front doors that opened to 90° from the body, no lip on the front guards, unique engine hatches, and crescent air intakes in the D-pillars (later models after the Type 4 engine option was offered, have squared off intakes). The 1971 Type 2 featured a new, 1.6 litre engine with dual intake ports on each cylinder head and was DIN-rated at 50 bhp. An important change came with the introduction of front disc brakes and new roadwheels with brake ventilation holes and flatter hubcaps. Up until 1972, front indicators are set low on the nose rather than high on either side of the fresh air grille – giving rise to their being nicknamed “Low Lights”. 1972’s most prominent change was a bigger engine compartment to fit the larger 1.7- to 2.0-litre engines from the Volkswagen Type 4, and a redesigned rear end which eliminated the removable rear apron and introduced the larger late tail lights. The air inlets were also enlarged to accommodate the increased cooling air needs of the larger engines. In 1971 the 1600cc Type 1 engine as used in the Beetle, was supplemented with the 1700cc Type 4 engine – as it was originally designed for the Type 4 (411 and 412) models. European vans kept the option of upright fan Type 1 1600 engine but the 1700 Type 4 became standard for US spec models. In the Type 2, the Type 4 engine, or “pancake engine”, was an option for the 1972 model year onward. This engine was standard in models destined for the US and Canada. Only with the Type 4 engine did an automatic transmission become available for the first time in the 1973 model year. Both engines were 1.7 L, DIN-rated at 66 bhp with the manual transmission and 62 bhp with the automatic. The Type 4 engine was enlarged to 1.8 L and 67 bhp DIN for the 1974 model year and again to 2.0 L and 70 bhp DIN for the 1976 model year. The two-litre option appeared in South African manufactured models during 1976, originally only in a comparably well-equipped “Executive” model. The 1978 2.0 L now featured hydraulic valve lifters, eliminating the need to periodically adjust the valve clearances as on earlier models. The 1975 and later U.S. model years received Bosch L-Jetronic electronic fuel injection as standard equipment; 1978 was the first year for electronic ignition, utilising a hall effect sensor and digital controller, eliminating maintenance-requiring contact-breaker points. As with all Transporter engines, the focus in development was not on power, but on low-end torque. The Type 4 engines were considerably more robust and durable than the Type 1 engines, particularly in Transporter service. In 1972, exterior revisions included relocated front turn indicators, squared off and set higher in the valance, above the headlights. Also, square-profiled bumpers, which became standard until the end of the T2 in 1979, were introduced in 1973. Crash safety improved with this change because of a compressible structure behind the front bumper. This meant that the T2b was capable of meeting US safety standards for passenger cars of the time, though not required of vans. The “VW” emblem on the front valance became slightly smaller. Later model changes were primarily mechanical. By 1974, the T2 had gained its final shape. Very late in the T2’s design life, during the late 1970s, the first prototypes of Type 2 vans with four-wheel drive (4WD) were built and tested.
Also here were a number of the latest performance VW models, including Polo and Golf GTi cars.
Volvo introduced the 850 saloon in 1991, the first large front wheel drive model in their range, positioned as a slightly more sporting model compared to the established 940 and 960 cars against which it was produced. An estate model and a wider range of engines soon joined that initial car. For 1995, the special limited edition 850 T-5R was offered, and was a commercial success, leading Volvo to produce a second run in 1996. Originally, it was to be called 850 Plus 5. The vehicle was based on the 850 Turbo, utilising the B5234T4 engine with a special ECU (Bosch #628 in U.S and #629 in EU) that added an additional 2 psi (0.1 bar) of turbocharger boost pressure, giving the engine an extra 18 hp for a total of 243 hp and 250 lb/ft (340 Nm) of torque. The engine was mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission or 5-speed manual transmission, the latter of which was not available in the United States. The T-5R was renowned as a sleeper car; despite its boxy, understated appearance, it boasted a drag coefficient of 0.29 and was capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.8 – 6.0 seconds (depending on transmission and body type). The top speed was electronically limited to 152.2 mph (244.9 km/h). The vehicle came standard with Pirelli P-Zero tyres, providing lateral grip of 0.88 g. The engine tuning was co-developed with Porsche, as was the transmission and other powertrain components. Porsche also aided in designing some of the interior, such as the Alcantara seat inserts. These cars came as standard with nearly every feature available, only a handful of options – such as heated rear seats – were available. On the North American market only two options could be chosen, a trunk-mounted Alpine 6-CD changer and no-cost 16″ wheels for a smoother, more comfortable ride and driveability in snow when using all-season tyres. Also included in the 1995 T-5R package was a front bumper with a lip, rear spoiler, side skirts, polished aluminium door sills, special graphite leather and Alcantara seats, and a black interior with deep walnut wood grain accents. Both yellow and black versions came with the same black interior as the only choice. The T-5R has an additional badge to the left of the “850” on the trunk, referred to as “The Motorsport badge”. The standard road wheel was the titanium-grey 5-spoke 17×7 “Titan”. 1995 was the only year that the a model was badged as a “T-5R”; the following year, as Volvo recognised the vehicle’s popularity, the model was renewed with the designation “850R”. The T-5R featured side airbags installed in the seat cushions. The side airbags were integrated into the rest of the Volvo model line the following year as an option, and became standard a year after that; other manufacturers soon followed suit. The car was also fitted with an early example of daytime running lamps. Also, just like the 940, it had three-point seatbelts at all five seating positions (previously, cars had only a lap belt for the centre rear seat). The T-5R also used the OBDII diagnostics system, a year before OBDII was made an automotive standard. 6964 T-5Rs were produced worldwide, of which the largest market was Germany (1,433), Italy (914; 2.0 turbo), United States (876), Japan (749), Netherlands (489), UK (440), Sweden (321), Spain (185), and Canada (103). The 1995 850 T-5R was limited in exterior paint colour choices: Stone Black – 2,516 worldwide including saloon and estate; Olive Green metallic – 1,911 worldwide including saloon and estate; Cream Yellow – 2,537 worldwide including saloon and estate. Only 346 sedans in this colour were imported into the United States; wagons, only 49. Cream Yellow was marketed in the Australian market as ‘Faded Yellow’ to compensate for the unrelenting Australian sun. The Gothenburg boffins were aware of the 1990s paint technology, and the fact it wouldn’t retain its deep lustre over the course of time, and hence, the clever marketing descriptor, ‘Faded Yellow’ was coined. Colour distribution was limited in some countries i.e. not all countries got all 3 colours, Norway only received yellow. Two white, two Aubergine and three grey T-5Rs were also produced. The white and aubergine cars were pre-production cars whereas the grey ones were produced by special demand for the Arabian market. Both aubergines, at least one grey and at least one white T-5R were still registered in Sweden as late as 2014.
It was around 5 weeks later when I would make a next visit. This time it was mid Saturday afternoon when I got there having been at the MITCAR event up in Ryton on Dunsmore during the morning. Like so many events these days, people had arrived early for that and correspondingly left early, so there was a gap of a few hours between that one effectively finishing and a dinner appointment with a group of friends back in Coventry in the evening. We decided that a quick trip to Caffeine and Machine was the perfect way of filling those few hours. When we all arrived, the car park was pretty quiet, which was a little disappointing, but it turned out that earlier in the day it had been absolutely heaving, but when the passing rain shower, which had been quite light in Coventry, had dropped rather more rain here, many had simply departed. And although it was once again dry by the time of our arrival, there were not that many cars that arrived after we did. Even so, there were still a number of notable cars to see and which are presented here.
THE MOTOR.net CARS
Although I had been at an Italian car event in the morning, with a number of friends from the long-running TheMotor.net group that we created around 13 years ago, none of them own Italian cars, so we brought an along an eclectic mix of vehicles from different automobile producing nations, in the true spirit of this event. As well as my Maserati Ghibli, they ranged from Alex Wild’s recently acquired Hyundai Ioniq in the rarely seen red paint, to Karl Haines’ much loved BMW M140i and Pete Geddes’ rather splendid Jaguar XF 5.0 V8 which has been mildly modified in the exhaust department with a particularly sonorous sounding system that rumbles beautifully. Because it was not that busy, and also because the car park attendant, a guy called Duncan Brookes, is also from TheMotor.net. we were able to park the cars together, on the grass.
First Alfa to catch my eye was this rather nice 155. These days you are more likely to come across a 155 at a gathering of Italian cars than other Alfa models of the same period, as this rather boxy saloon has built up quite a following in recent years, though there was just one of them here at this event. The 155 was one of a series of cars built by the Fiat Group on a shared platform, the so called Tipo 3 or Tipo Tre, which sat under the Fiat Tipo, and Lancia Delta 2, as well as the Fiat Coupe. Built to replace the rear wheel drive 75, the 155 was somewhat larger in dimension than its predecessor. The 155 was designed by Italian design house I.DE.A Institute which achieved an exceptional drag coefficient of 0.29, and the rather boxy design gave the car a sizeable boot, as well. The single most significant technical change from the 75 was the change to a front-wheel drive layout. This new configuration gave cost and packaging benefits but many Alfa die-hards and the automotive press lamented the passing of the “purer” rear-wheel drive layout on a car from this sporting marque. Not even the availability of the 155 Q4, which had a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and a permanent four-wheel drive powertrain, both derived from the Lancia Delta Integrale; making the car essentially a Lancia Delta Integrale with a different body was enough to win the sceptics over. Reception of the model was generally lukewarm. The 75 had been conceived prior to Fiat’s acquisition of the Alfa brand, so as “the last real Alfa” it cast rather a shadow over the 155; the loss of rear-wheel drive was frequently cited as the main cause of the disappointment. Nevertheless, the 155 was entered in Touring Car racing and was successful in every major championship it entered, which gradually improved its image. Belatedly, the factory introduced a wider version in 1995 (the “wide-body”) which as well as a wider track and revised steering based on racing experience or requirements, also brought in new 16-valve engines for the 1.8 and 2.0-litre whilst retaining the 2.5 V6 and making some improvements to cabin materials and build quality. There were several Sport Packs available, including a race-inspired body kit (spoiler and side skirts) and black or graphite-coloured 16-inch Speedline wheels. The more genteel could opt for the Super which came with wood inserts in the cabin and silver-painted alloy wheels. With this version, the 155 really came good. When production ceased in 1998, following the launch of the 156, 192,618 examples had been built.
There was also the two generations later 159 here.
Needing little in the way of introduction, perhaps, is this BMW i8. First introduced as the Concept Vision EfficientDynamics, the i8 is part of BMW’s “Project i” and it is being marketed as a new brand, BMW i, sold separately from BMW or Mini. The BMW i3, launched for retail customers in Europe in the fourth quarter of 2013, was the first model of the i brand available in the market, and it was followed by the i8, released in Germany in June 2014 as a 2015 model year. Other i models are still expected to follow. The initial turbodiesel concept car was unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt International Motor Show. In 2010, BMW announced the mass production of the Vision EfficientDynamics concept in Leipzig beginning in 2013 as the BMW i8. The BMW i8 petrol-powered concept car destined for production was unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show and the final production version of the BMW i8 was unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt International Motor Show. It features butterfly doors, head-up display, rear-view cameras and partially false engine noise. Series production of customer vehicles began in April 2014. The electric two-speed drivetrain is developed and produced by GKN. It is the first production car with laser headlights, reaching further than LED lights. The i8 has a vehicle weight of 1,485 kg (3,274 lb) (DIN kerb weight) and a low drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.26. In all-electric mode the BMW i8 has a top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph). In Sport mode the i8 delivers a mid-range acceleration from 80 to 120 km/h (50 to 75 mph) in 2.6 seconds. The electronically controlled top speed is 250 km/h (155 mph). By early November 2016 global sales since mid-2014 totalled more than 10,000 units, making the i8 the world’s top selling plug-in electrified sports car. The top selling markets are the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, China and Canada.
Once again there was a Focus RS here. This time it was a car from the second generation.
After the large number of Honda models present on my last visit, this time the only one of note was a Civic Type R from the previous generation, a model which was highly thought of when new, but which came late in the life of that version of the Civic and which only had a short production run.
Once again, the i30N was here with not just the regular 5 door hatch present, but also the more recently introduced Fastback model as well.
One of the most loved Jaguars of all time, both when it was new, and still now, is the Mark 2 saloon. Many will tell you that it is not the 3 Series BMW that “invented” the “compact sports saloon” car class, but this model, which dates back to 1959. A thorough revision of the small Jaguar saloon that had joined the range in 1955, the Mark 2 was notable in that it was the first car to use the Arabic numeral in its name, as opposed to the Roman numerals of the larger Jaguar models. At launch, the earlier model which had hitherto been known by its engine size was christened the Mark 1. Although clearly based on that car, the updated car looked significantly different, with an increase of 18% in cabin glass area greatly improving visibility. The car was re-engineered above the waistline. Slender front pillars allowed a wider windscreen and the rear window almost wrapped around to the enlarged side windows now with the familiar Jaguar D-shape above the back door and fully chromed frames for all the side windows. The radiator grille was amended and larger side, tail and fog lamps repositioned. Inside a new heating system was fitted and ducted to the rear compartment (although still notoriously ineffective). There was an improved instrument layout that became standard for all Jaguar cars until the XJ Series II of 1973. As well as the familiar 2.4 and 3.4 litre engines, what made this car particularly special was that it was also offered with the potent 220 bhp 3.8 litre unit that was fitted to the XK150 and which would later see service in the E Type. This gave the car a 0 – 60 time of around 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 125 mph. No wonder that the Mark 2 became popular as a get-away car for the criminal fraternity, and to keep up with and catch them, many police forces bought the car as well. With revised suspension and standard four wheel disc brakes, the car was effective on the track, taking plenty of class wins when new, and it is still popular in historic racing circles today. The quickest and most successful private entries came from John Coombs, a man with significant race experience who operated a large Jaguar dealership in Guildford. Coombs would undertake modifications to meet the demands of his customers, so not all the cars that he worked on are the same. Jaguar replaced the Mark 2 with simplified and slightly more cheaply finished 240 and 340 models, as an interim measure until an all-new model was ready to take over from them. The 3.8 litre disappeared from the range at this time, but in the 7 years it had been in production, it had been the best seller of the range, with around 30,000 cars produced, as compared to 28,666 of the 3.4 litre and 25,741 of the 2.4 litre model.
Once again there was an example of the R32 generation GT-R here.
During the 1990s, Porsche was facing financial troubles and rumours of a proposed takeover were being spread. The signature air-cooled flat-6 of the 911 was reaching the limits of its potential as made evident by the 993. Stricter emissions regulations world wide further forced Porsche to think of a replacement of the air-cooled unit. In order to improve manufacturing processes, Porsche took the aid of leading Japanese car manufacturer Toyota whose consultants would assist in the overhaul of the Zuffenhausen manufacturing facility introducing mass production techniques which would allow Porsche to carry out production processes more efficiently. Porsche had realised that in order to keep the 911 in production, it would need radical changes. This led to the development of the 996. The sharing of development between the new 911 and the entry level Boxster model allowed Porsche to save development costs. This move also resulted in interchangeable parts between the two models bringing down maintenance costs. The Porsche 996 was a new design developed by Pinky Lai under Porsche design chief Harm Lagaay from 1992 to 1994; it was the first 911 that was completely redesigned, and carried over little from its predecessor as Porsche wanted the design team to design a 911 for the next millennium. Featuring an all new body work, interior, and the first water-cooled engine, the 996 replaced the 993 from which only the front suspension, rear multi-link suspension, and a 6-speed manual transmission were retained in revised form. The 996 had a drag coefficient of Cd=0.30 resulting from hours spent in the wind tunnel. The 996 is 185 mm (7 in) longer and 40 mm (2 in) wider than its predecessor. It is also 45% stiffer courtesy of a chassis formed from high-strength steel. Additionally, it is 50 kg (110 lb) lighter despite having additional radiators and coolant. All of the M96 engines offered in the 996 (except for the variants fitted to the Turbo and GT2/GT3 models) are susceptible to the Porsche Intermediate Shaft Bearing issue which can potentially cause serious engine failure if not addressed via a retrofit. The 996 was initially available in a coupé or a cabriolet (Convertible) bodystyle with rear-wheel drive, and later with four-wheel drive, utilising a 3.4 litre flat-6 engine generating a maximum power output of 296 bhp. The 996 had the same front end as the entry-level Boxster. After requests from the Carrera owners about their premium cars looking like a “lower priced car that looked just like theirs did”, Porsche redesigned the headlamps of the Carrera in 2002 similar to the high performance Turbo’s headlamps. The design for the initial “fried egg” shaped headlamps could be traced back to the 1997 911 GT1 race car. In 2000, Porsche introduced the 996 Turbo, equipped with a four-wheel-drive system and a 3.6-litre, twin-turbocharged and intercooled flat-six engine generating a maximum power output of 420 bhp, making the car capable of accelerating from 0–60 mph in 4.2 seconds. An X50 option which included larger turbochargers and intercoolers along with revised engine control software became available from the factory in 2002, increasing power output to 451 bhp. In 2005, Porsche introduced the Turbo S, which had the X50 option included as standard equipment, with the formerly optional Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) composite ceramic brakes (PCCB) also included as standard. In 2000, power output on the base Carrera model was increased to 300 bhp. 2001 marked the final year of production for the base Carrera 4 Coupé in narrow body format. In 2002, the standard Carrera models underwent the above-mentioned facelift. In addition, engine capacity was also increased to 3.6-litres across the range, yielding gains of 15 bhp for the naturally aspirated models. 2002 also marked the start of the production of the 996 based Targa model, with a sliding glass “green house” roof system as introduced on its predecessor. It also features a rear glass hatch which gave the driver access to the storage compartment. Also in 2002, the Carrera 4S model was first introduced. The C4S, as it is called among the enthusiasts, shares the wide-body look of the Turbo as well as the brakes and suspension. It was a Targa model which was to be seen here.
This is the newly launched Megane RS Trophy R, and this is the one with those really expensive options which takes the list price to over £70,000. By any standards that is an awful lot of cash for a car of this size, regardless of how good it may be.
There were a couple of Impreza models here. Older, and rarer of them was an RB5. These were built to celebrate the return of British driver Richard Burns to the rally team, constituting a limited edition of 444 Turbo 2000 “RB5” models in grey, built in 1999 for the UK. The basic model had little more than cosmetic differences, but most had the WR Sport Performance Pack, an option consisting of a new ECU and exhaust for 240 PS (237 bhp) and 350 Nm (258 lb/ft) torque. There was also an optional Prodrive suspension pack.
Once again, the second generation Impreza was represented here with this WRX STi model.
Quite a rarity now, this is a Starlet. The 60 series, introduced in February 1978, was better known than the first, being the first to be extensively sold outside Japan, being imported to Europe, including the United Kingdom, from 1978, by which time superminis were soaring in popularity, though unlike most of its rivals, it had rear wheel drive. It was offered with a 993cc, 1,166cc or 1,290 cc. Three- and five-door hatchbacks were offered in export markets, although a longer five-door wagon variant (also known as the “Van” in the Japanese market) was sold in Japan and certain Asian and European markets. The Van arrived in October 1978. In Japan, the Starlet was only available with the larger, 1.3 litre, engine once it had been introduced, excepting the Van model which retained the smaller, 1.2 litre, 3K-HJ type. The 60 series Starlet was the first Toyota passenger car to utilise rack-and-pinion steering. Suspension on 60 series Starlets is in the form of MacPherson front struts accompanied by four link rear suspension with coil springs for hatchback models and leaf spring suspension on van models. Trim levels were Standard, De Luxe (also known as DX in some markets), GL, XL, S, Si, Sprint, SE and Lisse, though Europe only saw a couple of these. Si models have a fuel injected 4K-E engine. Sprint models include a tachometer, five-speed (K50) transmission, 1,290 cc (4K) engine and a different, “racy”, interior compared to other models. Sprint models also feature Toyota Sports Handling Suspension and the external trimming on the car is clipped into place, as opposed to being glued on as in other models. Sprint models also include the same alloy wheels as featured on early AE86 Corollas. Japanese market models did not generally have self-retracting rear seatbelts. Japanese and New Zealand market models have 203 mm front brake rotors, as opposed to many other markets receiving Starlets with 228 mm front brake rotors. In 1980, the Starlet was facelifted to include square headlights and a second facelift followed in 1983 to incorporate a slant nose front end, and a lower hatch opening. A third generation model, switched to front wheel drive, arrived in Europe in mid 1985.
The Tuscan was launched in 2000, by which time there had been a series of what we think of as the modern era TVRs produced for nearly a decade, the Cerbera, Griffith and Cerbera. The Tuscan did not replace any of them, but was intended to help with the company’s ambitious push further up market to become a sort of Blackpool-built alternative to Ferrari. It did not lack the styling for the task, and unlike the preceding models with their Rover V8 engines, the new car came with TVR’s own engine, a straight six unit of 3.6 litre capacity putting out 360 bhp. The Tuscan was intended to be the grand tourer of the range, perfectly practical for everyday use, though with only two seats, no ABS, no airbags and no traction control, it was a tough sell on wet days in a more safety conscious world, but at least there was a removable targa top roof panel for those days when the sun came out. The car may have lacked the rumble of a V8, but when pushed hard, the sound track from the engine was still pretty special, and the car was faster than the Cerbera, but sadly, the car proved less than reliable, which really started to harm TVR’s reputation, something which would ultimately prove to be its undoing.
Although it looks quite different, the VX220 and its Opel Speedster alter ego share much under the skin with the Lotus Elise, and indeed the cars were built for General Motors, by Lotus at Hethel. Quite unlike any Vauxhall that had ever come before it, the VX220 was the result of a deal between GM and Lotus, struck to generate enough funding for the latter to be able to develop a replacement for their Elise model, something forced on them owing to changes in European crash safety regulations for the 2000 model year. Lotus agreed to develop and produce a 2 seater sports car for GM, on the new Series 2 Elise chassis, with the a concept version of the proposed GM model being shown at the Geneva Motor Show in 1999. Although the body styling was different, clearly the economies would only work if as much else could be shared, and that presented a challenge as it was planned to use a 1.8-litre Toyota engine, similar to that found in the Toyota Celica, in the second generation Elise, whereas the GM cars clearly had to use a GM engine, namely the 2.2-litre GM Ecotec engine from the Astra. As neither engine had been used in the original Elise, which had been fitted with a 1.8-litre Rover K-Series engine, this simply became one of the many design challenges .In order to accommodate the production of the new cars, Lotus expanded its Hethel factory to a capacity of 10,000 cars, with around 3,500 slots allocated to Speedster production. Production of the Speedster commenced in 2000. The car was hailed by the motoring press as a great drivers’ car and won several accolades, including Top Gear’s Car of the Year in 2003. The lesser naturally aspirated 2.2 version was considered easier to drive than the potent Turbo model, and some journalists suggested that the Opel/Vauxhall car was better value for money than the Lotus, among them one Jeremy Clarkson in his 2003 DVD Shoot Out. However, the market did not really agree, and sales were limited. The car was deleted in 2005, with no successor.
As I, and indeed others have observed before, it is not hard to see why Caffeine & Machine became an instant success and a very popular venue. Even without the attractions of the car park, the coffee is good, as is the food, both of which are well priced, and the setting is very pleasant, so this is a great place to arrange to meet people. Now factor in the automotive content as well, and it is a sure fire winner. I will be back as often as I can be when I am in the area, so expect to see further reports of the varied and unpredictable contents of the car park from this great venue.