Autosport International with Performance and Tuning Car Show – January 2020

There’s been a major Show dedicated to all forms of motorsport in the UK for a very long time. Wind the clock back far enough, and it was called the Racing Car Show, and it used to be held over as many as 10 days, the opportunity to see all the latest cars and technologies for the forthcoming season of racing, and usually with a few road cars added for good measure. For the past 30 years the show, held at Birmingham’s NEC Exhibition Centre in mid January, has been called the Autosport show. As well as static displays of the cars from just about every genre, of motor sport many of the suppliers to this sector also participate with their latest products on display. Recent years have seen a Live Action Arena added to the event, which is designed to broaden the appeal of the event, and an adjunct to pure motorsport has also been a series of exhibits around performance cars of some sort. In previous years, there was an association with on-line forum PistonHeads but that seems to have ended, and for 2020, the event was branded simply “Autosport International and Performance Car Show”. This is a three day event, but the Friday is reserved for the Trade leaving just the weekend for public access.

I last attended this event back in 2014. Every year when the schedules are announced and this one pops up, I write it on the calendar, and then have decided not to go. Largely, that is because although there is nothing much else going on to proved an alternative temptation, the price of the tickets, along with the other costs of a day at the NEC, seems far too high to be able to justify to myself. Part of the problem is that you have to buy a ticket including the Live Action Area, and having seen this show a couple of times in the past, it is just too same-y, and not actually that interesting to watch for this to add to the attractions for me. However, when a friend found a discount code which cut the advance ticket cost from £37 to £18 (plus the iniquitous booking fee that so many ticket agencies add on as a nasty surprise when you go to check out your purchase), I decided to give it another go. And so. here is what I found.


Autosport magazine may have been sponsoring the event for the last 30 years, but the magazine goes back further than that. 70 years to be precise, and to mark this anniversary, they presented a specially curated display with a two or three cars of significant from each of their 7 decades, chosen from a variety of different categories of the sport. It was one of the highlights of the event, with some lovely and very historic machinery on show.


First car in the display was the legendary Jaguar C Type, winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1951 and ’53. The C-Type was built specifically for the race track . It used the running gear of the contemporary road-proven XK120 clothed in a lightweight tubular frame, devised by William Heynes, and clothed in an aerodynamic aluminium body designed by Malcolm Sayer. The road-going XK120’s 3.4-litre twin-cam, straight-6 engine produced between 160 and 180 bhp, but when installed in the C-Type, it was originally tuned to around 205 bhp. Early C-Types were fitted with SU carburettors and drum brakes. Later C-Types, from mid 1953, were more powerful, using triple twin-choke Weber carburettors and high-lift camshafts. They were also lighter, and braking performance was improved with disc brakes on all four wheels, which were something of a novelty at the time, though their adoption started to spread quite quickly after Jaguar had used them. The lightweight, multi-tubular, triangulated frame was designed by William Heynes. Malcolm Sayer designed the aerodynamic body. Made of aluminium in the barchetta style, it is devoid of road-going items such as carpets, weather equipment and exterior door handles. The C-Type was successful in racing, most notably at the Le Mans 24 hours race, which it won twice. In 1951 the car won at its first attempt. The factory entered three, whose driver pairings were Stirling Moss and Jack Fairman, Leslie Johnson and triple Mille Miglia winner Clemente Biondetti, and the eventual winners, Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead. The Walker-Whitehead car was the only factory entry to finish, the other two retiring with lack of oil pressure. A privately entered XK120, owned by Robert Lawrie, co-driven by Ivan Waller, also completed the race, finishing 11th. In 1952 Jaguar, worried by a report about the speed of the Mercedes-Benz 300SLs that would run at Le Mans, modified the C-Type’s aerodynamics to increase the top speed. However, the consequent rearrangement of the cooling system made the cars vulnerable to overheating, and all three retired from the race. The Peter Whitehead-Ian Stewart and Tony Rolt/Duncan Hamilton cars blew head gaskets, and the Stirling Moss-Peter Walker car, the only one not overheating having had a full-sized radiator hurriedly fitted, lost oil pressure after a mechanical breakage. Testing by Norman Dewis at MIRA after the race proved that the overheating was caused more by the revisions to the cooling system than by the altered aerodynamics: the water pump pulley was undersized, so it was spinning too fast and causing cavitation; also the header tank was in front of the passenger-side bulkhead, far from the radiator, and the tubing diameter was too small at 7/8 inch. With the pump pulley enlarged, and the tubing increased to 1 1/4 inch, the problem was eliminated. The main drawback of the new body shape was that it reduced downforce on the tail to the extent that it caused lift and directional instability at speeds over 120 mph on the Mulsanne Straight. These cars had chassis numbers XKC 001, 002 and 011. The first two were dismantled at the factory, and the third survives in normal C-type form. In 1953 C-Types won again, and also placed second and fourth. This time the body was in thinner, lighter aluminium and the original twin H8 sand cast SU carburettors were replaced by three DCO3 40mm Webers, which helped boost power to 220 bhp. Further weight was saved by using a rubber bag fuel tank, lighter electrical equipment and thinner gauge steel for some of the chassis tubes . Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt won the race at 105.85 mph (170.35 km/h) – the first time Le Mans had been won at an average of over 100 miles per hour (161 km/h). 1954, the C-Type’s final year at Le Mans, saw a fourth place by the Ecurie Francorchamps entry driven by Roger Laurent and Jacques Swaters. Between 19951 and 1953, a total of 53 C-Types were built, 43 of which were sold to private owners mainly in the US. When new, the car sold for about $6,000, approximately twice the price of an XK120. Genuine cars have increased in value massively in recent years, however buyers do need to be aware that replicas have been produced by a number of companies, though even these are far from cheap to buy these days. Cars with true racing provenance are well into the millions now.

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Even more splendid, to my mind was this fabulous Maserati 250F, a legend which celebrated two F1 titles along with eight wins, eight poles and 10 fastest laps. 26 of these legends were made between January 1954 and November 1960. Twenty-six examples were made. The 250F principally used the 2.5-litre Maserati A6 straight-six engine which generated 220 bhp at 7400 rpm, ribbed 13.4″ drum brakes, wishbone independent front suspension and a De Dion tube axle. It was built by Gioacchino Colombo, Vittorio Bellentani and Alberto Massimino; the tubular work was by Valerio Colotti. The 250F first raced in the 1954 Argentine Grand Prix where Juan Manuel Fangio won the first of his two victories before he left for the new Mercedes-Benz team. Fangio won the 1954 Drivers’ World Championship, with points gained with both Maserati and Mercedes-Benz; Stirling Moss raced his own privately owned 250F for the full 1954 season. In 1955 a 5-speed gearbox; SU fuel injection (240 bhp) and Dunlop disc brakes were introduced. Jean Behra drove this in a five-member works team which included Luigi Musso. In 1956 Stirling Moss won the Monaco and Italian Grands Prix, both in a works car. In 1956 three 250F T2 cars first appeared for the works drivers. Developed by Giulio Alfieri using lighter steel tubes they sported a slimmer, stiffer body and sometimes the new 315 bhp V12 engine, although it offered little or no real advantage over the older straight 6. It was later developed into the 3 litre V12 that won two races powering the Cooper T81 and T86 from 1966 to 1969, the final “Tipo 10” variant of the engine having three valves and two spark plugs per cylinder. In 1957 Juan Manuel Fangio drove to four more championship victories, including his legendary final win at German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring (Aug. 4, 1957), where he overcame a 48 second deficit in 22 laps, passing the race leader, Mike Hawthorn, on the final lap to take the win. In doing so he broke the lap record at the Nürburgring, 10 times. By the 1958 season, the 250F was totally outclassed by the new rear engined F1 cars, however, the car remained a favourite with the privateers, including Maria Teresa de Filippis, and was used by back markers through the 1960 F1 season, the last for the 2.5 litre formula. In total, the 250F competed in 46 Formula One championship races with 277 entries, leading to eight wins. Success was not limited to World Championship events with 250F drivers winning many non-championship races around the world. Stirling Moss has repeatedly said that the 250F was the best front-engined F1 car he drove. This car was originally driven by Argentinian racing driver Onofre Marimón who participated in 11 Formula One World Championship Grand Prix, following his debut in July 1951, but who tragically, just three years later, was killed driving the car during practice at the Nürburgring ahead of the 1954 German Grand Prix, becoming the first driver ever to be fatally injured at a World Championship GP. Following the crash, the 250F was rebuilt by the carmaker as the Monza Streamliner and finished fourth in the 1955 Italian Grand Prix driven by Frenchman Jean Behra. However, the car’s rebirth was short lived as it was virtually destroyed in a fire at the Maserati factory in the summer of 1956. What salvageable parts remained were bought from the factory by restorer Cameron Millar in the mid-sixties, who subsequently sold the parts on as a whole car in component form to Ray Fielding, an avid collector who owned a number of other Maserati racing cars. He commenced the restoration and rebuilding of 2518, and while he eventually managed to complete the car, sadly it never turned a wheel in competition during its time under the Fielding family’s ownership. The 250F changed hands once more in 2011 and was rebuilt for a third time, with the intention that the car would be used in competition once again. The work was carried by Hertfordshire-based DK Engineering and was sold to the current owner Niall Dyer in early 2014.

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Third car from the 1950s was the much smaller Cooper-Climax T51, Formula One and Formula Two racing car designed by Owen Maddock and built by the Cooper Car Company for the 1959 Formula One season. The T51 earned a significant place in motor racing history when Jack Brabham drove the car to become the first driver to win the World Championship of Drivers with an engine mounted behind them, in 1959. The T51 was raced in several configurations by various entrants until 1963 and in all no less than 38 drivers were entered to drive T51s in Grand Prix races.

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Successful as much these days in historic racing as it was when new, the Ford Lotus Cortina needs little in he way of an introduction.

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Dating from 1966 is this Lola T90/00, designed to be raced in the Indianapolis 500. Lola’s first appearance at the Indianapolis 500 wasn’t a very successful one, it had been in 1965 when Al Unser and Bud Tingelstad raced a pair of T80s. The reason Lola hadn’t been as successful as hoped is that a number of problems stemming from late completion prevented sufficient testing. Both drivers complained of a handling problem that caused the car to “heave” as it entered a corner, this was later discovered to be caused by a flaw in the suspension geometry. The following year, Lola built the T90 in an attempt to win the Indy 500 with their new found knowledge from the year before. The T90 consisted of an aluminium monocoque constructed from the 16-gauge aluminium that the Indy regulations stipulated. Sheet steel diaphragms were fitted at the front and the rear of the tub with additional internal stiffness coming from four braces housed within the pontoons that would take the Firestone-designed fuel cells, whilst externally a sloping scuttle in front of the instrument panel gave additional rigidity. Tubular steel subframes were attached to both the front and rear of the chassis, the front subframe carrying the oil tank, radiator and the forward mountings for the lower wishbone. At the rear there were two subframes above and below the two-speed Hewland gearbox, the upper one carrying the attachment point for the single top link and the top spring/damper mounting. The lower subframe had the mounting points for the lower wishbones. The T90 was designed to accept either the 2.8-litre 4-cylinder Offenhauser engine or the 4.2-litre 4-cam Ford V8 engine. The Offenhauser (often called the Offy) built by Meyer-Drake in California, was fitted with Hilborn fuel injection and a Paxton Roots-type supercharger and gave some 520 bhp. The Ford whilst being slightly less powerful was a more known quantity having won the 1965 race in Jim Clark’s Lotus 38. Thanks to Lola’s efforts, Graham Hill won the 1966 Indianapolis 500 in a Lola T90, and on his way to becoming the only driver to have won the treble, 1962/8 World Drivers Champion, 1966 Indianapolis 500 and 1972 Le Mans winner.

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Pioneered by technical genius Colin Chapman, the Lotus 49 was highly advanced for its era. The specially-designed engine chassis configuration meant that the engine became a stress-bearing structural member. Due to its inherent performance and structural advantages, the concept is still being used in current Formula One cars. The revolutionary 49 won the 1968 and 1970 Formula One World Championships driven by Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt respectively. In the 42 races that the 49 competed, it won 12 races and finished on the podium a staggering 23 times.

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The Porsche 917 transformed the 1970s endurance racing landscape. Its flat-12 engine could propel the car to speeds of up to 240mph down the long Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans. The 917 won the prestigious French enduro twice in 1970 and ’71 before heading across the Atlantic and annihilating Can-Am.

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This Lancia Stratos HF was making its UK debut, visiting from its usual home in Italy. It is the fourth Stratos to have been built and the first non-works Stratos to enter a rally. Campaigned by Roberto Cambiaghi, the Stratos was operated by the Jolly Club, which helped to develop the initial batch of 7 Group 4 Stratos in conjunction with the Lanica HF works team during its debut 1974 WRC season. This extended the capacity of the small Lancia team while Fiat distanced themselves from the project, focusing still on Abarth rally cars instead. This car functioned as the lead car of a 2-car team on the 1974 San Remo, the other car being driven by Gabriele Sciasca. Whilst the works car of Sandro Munari scored the Stratos’ first WRC victory en route to that year’s Championship, Cambiaghi retired mid-rally whilst Sciasca hit a bridge.

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The Lotus 79 was the first F1 car to take full advantage of ground effects aerodynamics, pioneered in its immediate predecessor, the Lotus 78. The undercar pressure problems in the 78 were resolved with the 79, with further design work on the venturi tunnels under the car, which allowed the low pressure area to be evenly spaced along the whole of the underside. This was achieved by extending the rear bodywork to a point inside the rear wheels, allowing the underside to extend further back, instead of ending abruptly in front of the rear wheels as on the 78. As a result, the rear suspension was also redesigned to allow the air to exit the rear more cleanly than on its predecessor. This allowed a smaller rear wing to be designed, causing less drag. When the car first appeared, the upper bodywork was steeply raked and featured “Coke bottle” sidepods. After work in the wind tunnel, these features were found to be unnecessary, as the car generated so much downforce anyway. These features were, however, later incorporated into the Lotus 80. In all, five chassis were built during the design’s lifetime, with the prototype 79/1 being sold to Héctor Rebaque to race as a privateer entrant. The car was powered by the Ford Cosworth DFV and constructed of sheet aluminium honeycomb, specially strengthened for the pressures exerted on the car by the ground effect. The fuel tank was one single cell behind the driver, as opposed to separate fuel tanks as on the 78. This had the advantage of increasing fire protection and moving the centre of gravity to the middle of the car, helping cornering and braking. The 79 was also the first F1 car to be designed using computer design aids. In fact, it was the first F1 car to use computers to analyse it in the pits on race weekends. The car was secretly tested in late 1977 by Ronnie Peterson and proved extremely fast, but the chassis suffered early fatigue due to the severe suction and g-forces generated by the ground effect. The 79 produced about 30% more downforce than the 78, something not foreseen by Ogilvie and Rudd, who went back to the drawing board. The chassis was strengthened in specific points, mostly around the monocoque and load bearing points on the chassis tub, and the car was found to be even faster than before. The need for smooth airflow dictated the car must have clean lines. Nicknamed “Black Beauty” by the press and F1 fans alike, for its graceful design and sleek profile and its black and gold livery through sponsorship by John Player Special cigarettes, the Lotus 79 was instantly competitive on its debut, the 1978 Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder. It took pole at the hands of Mario Andretti by more than a second, and won the race comfortably. Andretti said after driving the 79 for the first time that the Lotus 78 was like driving a London bus. Peterson once quipped, after scoring an impressive pole position, that the car was so brilliantly set up, all he had to do was steer. The 79 was not without its problems, however. Wright and Ogilvie noted that the car was very marginal in some aspects of its design. Andretti had reservations over the car’s brakes, which faded noticeably over a race distance, especially in hot conditions; the exhaust had a tendency to overheat, and the monocoque tub was not as stiff as the team would have liked, which meant a new casting had to be fabricated several times during the two seasons the car was used. The 79 proved to be almost unbeatable during the 1978 Formula One season and provided an unprecedented level of domination. The car took six more victories during the season giving the drivers’ championship to Andretti, and the constructors’ championship to Lotus. Its only serious rivals during the season were the Ferrari 312T3, and the advantage its Michelin tyres gave in hot weather conditions, and the Brabham BT46B “fan car”. The fan car only raced once, winning the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix, before Brabham voluntarily withdrew the car. Meanwhile, the Ferraris only won when the Lotus failed to finish. So superior was the Lotus, that most races became a scrap for minor placings, as Andretti and Peterson regularly finished first and second, more often than not by a considerable margin ahead of the rest of the field. On the rare occasion the 79 did not win or fail, one or other driver was usually on the podium. Andretti was comfortably world champion in 1978, and Peterson finished the season as the runner-up, although posthumously, as he died after a startline crash at Monza, the race where Andretti wrapped up the championship. Peterson was not in the 79 for that race; he drove the previous year’s 78 due to a severe crash in practice and his being unable to fit into Andretti’s spare car. Jean-Pierre Jarier took over the second Lotus for the rest of the season and was leading the race in both America and Canada — he also grabbed pole position in Canada — until the 79 suffered mechanical failures in both. It proved, however, that even with a lesser driver, the 79 was still competitive. In 1979, the 79 was to be replaced by the Lotus 80, intended to be the next step in the evolution of ground effects. Martini Racing replaced JPS as sponsor in that year, so the car appeared in British racing green. The 80 proved to be a total failure and Lotus was forced to go back to the 79, driven by Andretti and Carlos Reutemann. Several podium places were scored and the 79 was in contention for victory in the early stage of the season, but the next generation of ground effects cars led first by the Ligier JS11, then Ferrari 312T4 and then Williams FW07 — a car heavily based on the 79 — outclassed the Lotus. Although the car was updated with revised bodywork and a new rear wing, Lotus slipped to fourth in the constructors’ championship and the car was retired at the end of the 1979 season, without winning any further races. The 79 did however provide Nigel Mansell with his first Formula One test in December 1979 at Paul Ricard. In its lifetime, the 79 took 7 wins, 10 pole positions, 121 points and won the last drivers’ and constructors’ world championships for Lotus. The 79 is credited with pushing Formula One into the aerodynamics era, and its influence is still keenly felt on today’s modern F1 cars. After Rubens Barrichello drove the 79 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2000, he came away raving about its phenomenal grip and traction, and stated it felt like a modern Grand Prix car.

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Throughout the 1980s, the popularity of touring car racing grew rapidly with major car manufacturers investing in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) and global tin-top series. The Ford Sierra RS500 was hugely successful in Australia, winning the Bathurst 1000 and Sandown 500. It also celebrated victory closer to home, extending its success into the next decade by winning the 1990 BTCC with Rob Gravett at the wheel.

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Amassing 15 wins from 16 races in the 1988 Formula One season, the MP4/4 combined the McLaren aerodynamic package, Senna and Prost pairing and the 650 hp all-conquering Honda V6 engine to create a formidable combination. A pioneer in the late 1980s the MP4/4 was the first to introduce the 30 degrees reclining seating position which is still being used in modern Formula One cars. The seating position meant the driver was lower in the car providing less aerodynamic disturbance while in turn creating a safer cockpit. Statistically the most successful Formula One car in history, the MP4/4 was truly dominant, this was most notable in qualifying when at the San Marino Grand Prix both McLarens lapped in the 1 minute 27s while the rest of the field could only achieve 1 minute 30s.

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Debuting at the 1988 24 Hours of Daytona, the Jaguar XJR-9 was specifically designed for the 24 hours of Le Mans and the Mulsanne straight. The low-aerodynamic package allowed the drivers to reach speeds of up to 245mph. This raw speed and aerodynamic efficiency translated into victory at the 1988 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 1988 Le Mans victory was the first time a Jaguar car had won the prestigious race since 1957. Over the season the XJR-9 had more success winning the World Sports Prototype Championship with ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle winning the drivers’ championship.

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Competing in the 1992 F1 World Championship, the Williams FW14B dominated the championship, winning 10 out of the 16 races to secure the title. A major contribution to the dominance of the Williams was the active suspension, the system controlling the vertical movement of the wheels relative to the chassis or vehicle body with an onboard system. The technology suited the more aggressive driving style of Nigel Mansell that enhanced the aerodynamic downforce of the FW14B.

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This Lola T94/00, an Indy car driven by Nigel Mansell, was making it first UK appearance for more than 12 years. Although Mansell won the 1993 Indy Car World Series on his first attempt, 1994 in the Lola T94/00 was less successful scoring no wins against Penske’s new 1000 bhp PC-23. Mansell brought this Lola home second at Long beach and Cleveland, ending the season eighth.

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An icon of the forests, the Subaru Impreza 555 came to dominate rallies of the late 90s and early 00s in the same way that the Delta Integrale had done a few years earlier. The car was debuted at 1993 Rally Finland and won a total of five world rally titles, including three consecutive manufacturers’ titles in and two drivers’ titles. The car enjoyed success with a number of drivers at the wheel, but it will be with the late Colin McRae piloting the car that it is is best remembered.

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Heading into the new millennium, Audi developed the R10. It was, at the time, the most expensive project ever undertaken by Audi Sport. The V12 powerhouse won its maiden race at the 2006 12 Hours of Sebring along with its debut at Le Mans in 2006. Unlike most LMP1 prototypes the R10 was powered by a diesel engine, and the fuel economy and broad power band proved advantageous for long- distance competition.

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The Brawn BGP 001 is a Formula One world championship winning racing car, the design of which was started by Honda Racing, and completed and then built by the team after it was renamed to Brawn GP. It was the first and only Formula One car constructed by the Brawn GP team, and was used to contest the 2009 Formula One season. It was notable for its unusual “double” diffuser, and its legality was disputed though ultimately deemed legal by the FIA. Given the limited budget and development time, only three chassis were ever made (larger teams, such as McLaren build as many as eight): one for each driver and a spare. The spare was used by Rubens Barrichello in Singapore, while Jenson Button used the second Brawn chassis BGP 001-02 in every practice, qualifying session and race between the 2009 Australian Grand Prix and the 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix. This meant that he won the championship in the oldest car on the grid. Chassis BGP 001-02 is owned by Ross Brawn and was demonstrated at the 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed. Chassis 02 was painted silver after 2009 for the 2010 launch of Mercedes GP and used as a demonstration car for 2 years before being returned to its previous Brawn livery. The car won eight out of the seventeen Grands Prix it competed in.

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Showing how the sport is evolving to meet new regulations and a trend towards a lower cabon future was this Formula E Gen 1 car. Formula E, known as ABB FIA Formula E for sponsorship reasons, is a single seater motorsport championship that uses only electric cars. The series was conceived in 2011 in Paris by Jean Todt at the FIA , and the inaugural championship commenced in Beijing in September 2014. It is sanctioned by the FIA. Alejandro Agag is the founder and current chairman of Formula E Holdings. For the first four seasons, an electric racing car built by Spark Racing Technology, called the Spark-Renault SRT 01E, was used. The chassis was designed by Dallara, a battery system created by Williams Advanced Engineering and a Hewland five-speed gearbox. Michelin was the official tyre supplier. For the first season, 42 electric cars were ordered by the series, with four cars made available to each of the ten teams and two cars kept for testing purposes. This first Formula E car had a power of at least 250 bhp (190 kW). The car was able to accelerate from 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 3 seconds, with a maximum speed of 225 km/h (140 mph). The generators used to re-charge the batteries are powered by glycerine, a by-product of bio-diesel production. In the first season, all teams used an electric motor developed by McLaren (the same as that used in its P1 supercar). But since the second season, powertrain manufacturers could build their own electric motor, inverter, gearbox and cooling system; the chassis and battery stayed the same. There were nine manufacturers creating powertrains for the 2016–17 season: ABT Schaeffler, Andretti Technologies, DS-Virgin, Jaguar, Mahindra, NextEV TCR, Penske, Renault, and Venturi.

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The Porsche 919 Hybrid is a Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) racing car built and used by Porsche in the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons of the FIA World Endurance Championship. It was Porsche’s first all-new prototype since the RS Spyder and the first to compete in the premier level of sports car racing since the Porsche 911 GT1. Work on the car began in mid-2011, and its monocoque was finalised at the end of 2012 with inspiration from the 911 GT3 R Hybrid racing car and the 918 Spyder hybrid-sports vehicle. The car features two separate energy-recovery hybrid systems to recover thermal energy from exhaust gases and convert kinetic energy into electrical energy under braking for storage into lithium-ion battery packs. In accordance with the 2014 regulations, the vehicle was placed in the 6 MJ (1.7 kWh) class. It has a two-litre 90-degree V4 mid-mounted mono-turbocharged petrol engine that produces 500 hp (370 kW) and acts as a chassis load-bearing member. On 4 March 2014, the 919 Hybrid was shown to the press for the first time during the Geneva Motor Show. Porsche supplied two cars, driven by six drivers, for the season. Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb won three pole positions and the season-ending 6 Hours of São Paulo as Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber helped the team to finish third in the World Manufacturers’ Championship. The car was further developed in accordance with the 2015 regulations. Its front was reshaped, and its weight was reduced by manufacturing the chassis as a single piece. The hybrid system was made lighter and more efficient to produce additional power and was categorised into the 8 MJ (2.2 kWh) category. Bernhard, Hartley and Webber won four out of eight races to claim the 2015 World Endurance Drivers’ Championship and the World Manufacturers’ Championship. Earl Bamber, Nico Hülkenberg and Nick Tandy triumphed in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving a third 919 Hybrid. The car was further developed for the 2016 season. Many of its components were improved through detailed performance enhancements and reducing overall weight. The engine was made lighter, and the car’s hybrid system was made more efficient and powerful. Porsche created three distinct body kits to aerodynamically match the 919 Hybrid to a track. Dumas, Jani and Lieb won the 6 Hours of Silverstone and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Consistent performances from the trio won them the 2016 World Endurance Drivers’ Championship and the team’s second. Although Bernhard, Hartley and Webber had reliability issues in the season’s first three races, the trio won four of the six remaining rounds to help Porsche win its second consecutive World Manufacturers’ Championship. Further development was undertaken for the 2017 season. The front of the car was redesigned to make it less aerodynamically sensitive to small debris, and the car’s rearward air intakes were redesigned for the radiators to cool the engine. Tandy and former Audi LMP1 driver André Lotterer joined Jani in place of Dumas and Lieb, and Bamber teamed up with Bernhard and Hartley, replacing the retired Webber. Porsche finished on the podium in the first two rounds. Bamber, Bernhard and Hartley recovered from a 13-lap deficit to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans and three more races for Porsche’s third consecutive World Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships at the season’s penultimate round, the 2017 6 Hours of Shanghai. After 2017, the 919 Hybrid project was discontinued to allow Porsche to enter Formula E and an evolution of the car called the 919 Evo, which was demonstrated in 2018.

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In the hybrid era, Formula 1 has developed the most efficient and fastest cars to ever race. One of the most dominant F1 cars in the last decade was the Mercedes F1 W06 Hybrid.
It won a stunning 16 races out of a possible 19 in the 2015 season. Driven by now six-time champion Lewis Hamilton and 2016 title-winner Nico Rosberg, the combination of Mercedes’ hybrid technology and engineering brilliance put the car in a league of its own. The German manufacturer still continues to lead the way in F1, withstanding immense pressure from Ferrari and Red Bull.

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The Show is not just about cars, but also about the people in motorsport. And many well known names made an appearance at the event during the three days it was open to the public, with up and coming Formula 1 star Lando Norris, being the man asked to cut the ribbon to declare the Show open to the public. Many of those present came on stage in an area almost tucked away at one end of one of the Halls, where they were interviewed for a few minutes before the autograph hunters all pushed forwards to try to get something signed by one of their heroes. Among the stars I saw, and listened to were Johnny Herbert and Ari Vatanen – very different in style when speaking just as they were when behind the wheel of a car in their respective sports of Formula 1 and Rallying.

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Perhaps the next best aspect of the Show, for me, were the displays of historic rally cars. There were in fact two collections, a few aisles apart. One was the “official” display, as billed in the event’s promotional material, but in fact the second collection, on the BGMSport stand which was promoting classic rallying including the Rally Day held at Castle Combe each year had a wider selection of rally icons and was for me another highlight of the day.

Based on the two-door body of the 131 first series, the Fiat 131 Abarth Rally was equipped with a four-cylinder twin camshaft engine derived from the Fiat two-litre and developed by Abarth. The road version had a 1995 cm3 displacement and delivered a power of 140 HP beefed up to 235 on the racing version. It was the “golden age” of the so-called Group 4: technical rules allowed teams to convert everyday family sedans into authentic race cars. The brand won the constructors’ world championship for the first time after its debut in 1977 with the Fiat 131 Abarth Rally. The title was successfully defended the following year and won once again in 1980 thanks to the many victories of the duo Markku Alén – Walter Röhrl: the German won the drivers’ championship title in 1980. Had there been an official drivers ranking in 1977 and 1978, Alén would have been world champion already back then. This is a re-built ex-works Markku Alen car.

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The Ferrari 308 GTB is not the sort of car you would immediately associate with rallying, but there were genuine Group 4 spec cars that did compete. Despite being a high profile undertaking, it wasn’t Ferrari themselves who developed the 308 GTB into a rally car, but Michelotto. In 1973 official Ferrari support withdrew from all other forms of motorsport to concentrate solely on F1, and so it was the Padova dealership that stepped up to fill the void. And although their name is synonymous with racing Ferraris today, the 308 rally was their first project. 11 Group 4 cars were prepared, with Andruet’s 2nd place in Corsica being the highlight. Later, four Group B versions were made, but the surge in development from Lancia, Audi, Peugeot, and Ford with space-framed specially-constructed race cars meant that anything with a road car base was obsolete and so Michelotto turned their attention to the 308 GT/M, 288 GTO, and the Ferrari F40 instead. This is one of the Group B cars, previously driven by nine-times Spanish Rally Champion Antonio Zanini. Following an extensive restoration the car has been driven at Goodwood and finished second in the Modena Centro Ore Classic.

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There was another example of the Ford Lotus Cortina here.

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Perhaps the rarest car of this display was this Ford Escort RS1700T. After winning the world championship in 1979 Ford sold all of the Mk2 works cars to David Sutton (who they probably didn’t suspect would go on to win the title with Ari Vatanen two years later) to begin work on the new Group B project. Front wheel drive was a no-brainer so the engine was mounted longitudinally and designer John Wheeler knew that getting a good front to rear balance would be key, so a transaxle system, similar to what Porsche had done with the 924 was devised. Coupled with fully independent rear suspension based on what Fiat was utilising with great success in the 131 it was fully 2 seconds a mile faster than the Mk2 when they tested on the same tracks used by the 1982 Portugal Rally. The team were confident that with a field of Fiat 131s, Opel Asconas, Lancia 037s and Renault 5 Turbos the rear wheel drive Mk3 looked a viable option. It certainly wasn’t all plain sailing though. When you look for any story of the RS1700T on the internet you’ll find the quote ‘plagued with problems’, but not much more information than that. The 200 road cars that needed to be build in order for the rally version to be homolgated was an arbitrary number intended to deter small constructors from building a competitive one-off protoype and therefore keep the highest class exclusively for major manufactures. But Boreham had a much smaller motorsports department than their rivals Audi, Peugeot and Lancia, so the project was only viable if they changed as little as possible from the standard Mk3 Escort. Making a front wheel drive road car into a rear wheel drive rally car with as little bespoke parts as possible wasn’t exactly an ideal situation and from the start the whole project was a compromise. Small things include lower control arms and anti-roll bars from the Sierra and the steering rack is based on Mustang, but they never made a right-hand drive Mustang so it’s a kind of hybrid device. But the transaxle, with the big torque tube running between the seat was a huge but necessary modification and for the ideal suspension geometry they made bespoke inner wings to fit the Group 4 Mk2 Escort turrets and struts. For better weight distribution the front cross member was moved forwards by three inches and eagle eyed Mk3 enthusiasts might notice the shorter distance between the end of the bumper and the beginning of the arch. The car then had a 52/48 front to rear weight ratio. The mid-engined RS200 has 51/49. Lancia and Opel would have had a serious rival… But the problem was that Audi wouldn’t. When the Quattro was launched onto the scene everyone with a rear wheel drive car looked on in dismay. The game was forever changed and Ford Motorsport knew that their car was dead in the water. The first reaction was to start rallying with the rear wheel drive car while simultaneously developing a 4×4 version, but top brass decided to ditch the Mk3 in favour of a new ground-up 4×4 car built to the limit of what the Group B regulations would allow. The RS1700T project wasn’t all in vain though. With so much development work put into it the technology swap to the new project meant that there was a running prototype of the RS200 in just three months. Two hundred BDA engines had already been made and bored out to 1803cc they were all used in the new car. The transaxle gearing system pioneered in the RS1700T was re-used in the front of the mid-engined car… but all the remaining Mk3 prototypes were to be destroyed… Project manager Mick Jones had a better idea though. He was emigrating to South Africa and as there were no tedious homolgation rules to worry about there he took all the available rally cars with him. A couple competed in the 1984 season but as unfinished projects understandably they had more retirements than good results. Before the 1985 championship though there was a lot of work done to one of the cars. Cutting out surplus metal in the floor and doors, making all the body panels out of light-weight Kevlar and the windows out of polycarbonate saved a huge 250kg. The rear chassis rails were modified to give the suspension more articulation and to cope with the much higher ambient temperatures the duel core radiator was replaced with a much bigger quad-core one and the intercooler was waved to the nose behind the grill. A pair of oil coolers were mounted at the back, one for the gearbox and one for the engine. They are completely exposed and you certainly wouldn’t want to touch one after the car has been running. There is no way a car could run these in Europe and it was only because of the loose regulations in South Africa that they could be made like this. The idea was copied from the Audi Quattro, but theirs were protected under the wing and mesh. At only 980kg and with 350bhp in its final trim it was a good handling car and at the 1985 Nissan rally took its one and only win. Later that year in the Fleet Lease, which is kind of the South African equivalent of Pikes Peak, it split a pair of Audis to get 2nd. But that, rather sadly, is the sum total of the RS1700T’s competitive achievements and after that the car fades from history as for close to three decades they languished in storage or were left standing outside to rot away. And what of all the others? There is perhaps one guy, and only one guy, who knows just about all there is to know about the project; Paul Moulston is possibly the car’s biggest fan and with a voice husky from days of telling the story over and over, he told it to me too. A grand total of 18 prototypes were made with varying configurations and set ups but just 4 are known to survive. A fifth may or may not be in a Boreham storage facility, depending on who you ask. One resides in a big private collection in America, someone in the UK is restoring one, Malcolm Wilson owns another which is kept in the M-Sport museum and is in need of some serious TLC to get it running, although it’s possible Malcolm wants to keep it in 100% original condition. And there’s this one, the only running example. Well, it will be once the engine has been rebuilt. But what about the ones that don’t exist? Paul knows all about them as well. P1 was just a Fiesta with a Mk2 Escort grafted onto the front. P2 and P3 were simply mock-ups to test installations and body kit measurements and the fourth was the first that could actually be driven. P5 was a show car and the rest were a mixture of road cars and a few fully prepped rally cars. Most had the 1780cc turbocharged BDA engines but turbos were a very new technology on rally cars in the early ’80s so they also tested a normally aspirated 2.3l engine made by Brian Hart. One of these was crashed by Vatanen in Portugal but even though the car had to be lifted out of a ravine by a crane it was repairable. It’s sister wasn’t so fortunate though. Project manager Mick Jones rolled it at an airfield at 128 miles an hour. He was fortunate to walk away with just a few bruised ribs but the car was written off. That was P9. The one Brian bought is P18, the last and also the most developed. Lightened and with the additional cooling it looks more like what we would have seen rallying in 1984. Once in the UK it was totally stripped and the bare shell acid dipped before as many parts as possible were re-installed. It’s about 80% original as every attempt to restore worn parts was made and only pieces that were totally beyond repair or had the potential of causing an accident were scrapped. They even left the rough welding on all the reinforced chassis rails. The engine had a bit of an issue with a smoking turbo though so it was taken to Julian Godfrey Engineering where they found a leaking seal. It was rebuilt and run on their dyno for nine hours to make sure it wouldn’t explode but when they fitted it back to the engine they noticed some more problems. Obviously as the engine management system is a Botch Motronic from 1982 and they weren’t expecting it to be perfect, but these guys have been working on engines since the Cortina was the current model so they know a sick one when they hear it. It was stripped down for a thorough investigation where enough little problems were found that it was decided a full rebuild was warranted and a new management system fitted. The car is never going to be rallied but with a one of a kind vehicle like this, if a job is worth doing then it’s worth doing properly.

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After Ford decided to abandon the RS1700T project in frustration in 1983, they were left without a new vehicle to enter into Group B. Not wanting to abandon Group B or simply “write off” the cost of developing the failed 1700T, executives decided to make use of the lessons learned developing that vehicle in preparing a new, purpose-built rally car. In addition, Ford executives became adamant that the new vehicle would feature all-wheel-drive, an addition they felt would be necessary to allow it to compete properly with all-wheel-drive models from Peugeot and Audi. The new vehicle was a unique design, featuring a plastic-fibreglass composite body designed by Ghia, a mid-mounted engine and four-wheel drive. The cars were built on behalf of Ford by another company well known for its expertise in producing fibreglass bodies – Reliant. To aid weight distribution, designers mounted the transmission at the front of the car, which required that power from the mid-mounted engine go first up to the front wheels and then be run back again to the rear, creating a complex drive train setup. The chassis was designed by former Formula One designer Tony Southgate, and Ford’s John Wheeler, a former F1 engineer, aided in early development. A double wishbone suspension setup with twin dampers on all four wheels aided handling and helped give the car what was often regarded as being the best balanced platform of any of the RS200’s contemporary competitors. The Ford parts-bin was raided to help give the RS200 a Ford corporate look, for example the front windscreen and rear lights were identical to those of the early Sierra and the doors were cut-down Sierra items; though small parts-bin items like switchgear were also used to save development time and expenses. Power came from a 1,803 cc single turbocharged Ford-Cosworth “BDT” engine producing 250 hp in road-going trim, and between 350 and 450 bhp in racing trim; upgrade kits were available for road-going versions to boost power output to over 300 bhp. Although the RS had the balance and poise necessary to be competitive, its power-to-weight ratio was poor by comparison, and its engine produced notorious low-RPM lag, making it difficult to drive and ultimately less competitive. Factory driver Kalle Grundel’s third-place finish at the 1986 WRC Rally of Sweden represented the vehicle’s best-ever finish in Group B rallying competition, although the model did see limited success outside of the ultra-competitive Group B class. However, only one event later, at the Rally de Portugal, a Ford RS200 was involved in one of the most dramatic accidents in WRC history, claiming the lives of three spectators and injuring many others. Another Ford RS200 was crashed by Swiss Formula One driver Marc Surer against a tree during the 1986 Hessen-Rallye in Germany, killing his co-driver and friend Michel Wyder instantly. The accident at Rally Portugal set off a chain reaction and the RS200 became obsolete after only one full year of competition as the FIA, the governing board, which at the time controlled WRC rally racing, abolished Group B after the 1986 season. For 1987, Ford had planned to introduce an “Evolution” variant of the RS200, featuring a development of the BDT engine, called later as BDT-E, displacing 2,137 cc developed by Briton Brian Hart. Power figures for the engine vary quite a bit from source to source, depending on the mechanical setup e.g. boost levels, power output ranges from as little as 550 bhp to as high as 815 bhp; although most typical output was 580 bhp at 8000 rpm and 400 lb/ft (542 Nm) at 5500 rpm of torque. It has been said that the most powerful Evolution models can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just over two seconds, depending on gearing. Upgraded brakes and suspension components were part of the package as well. The ban on Group B racing effectively forced the E2 model into stillbirth; however, more than a dozen of them were successfully run from August 1986 ’til October 1992 in the FIA European Championships for Rallycross Drivers events all over Europe, and Norwegian Martin Schanche claimed the 1991 European rallycross title with a Ford RS200 E2 that produced over 650 bhp. One RS200, which found its way into circuit racing, originated as a road car; it was converted to IMSA GTO specification powered by a 750+ BHP 2.0 litre turbo BDTE Cosworth Evolution engine. Competing against the numerous factory backed teams such as Mazda, Mercury and Nissan, with their newly built spaceframe specials, despite being a privateer, the car never achieved any real success to be a serious contender and was kept by the original owner. A parts car was built in England and later used to compete in the Unlimited category at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, where it was driven by Swede Stig Blomqvist in 2001, 2002 and 2004 and in 2009 by former British Rallycross champion Mark Rennison. The RS200 was designed from the ground-up as a purpose-built, mid-engined rally-supercar, and the 200 homologation road-legal models were essentially a by-product of Ford wanting to race the RS200 and show off their technology capabilities in the increasingly popular World Rally Championship. It was also designed by engineers who had extensive backgrounds in motorsports, and the engine had a smooth power delivery and functioned more like a racing car engine, as opposed to every one of the other highly modified production-based engines that Audi, Lancia and Peugeot had in their cars. The other famous Group B cars were all based on front-engined production models- and in both the Lancia Delta S4 and the Peugeot 205 T16’s case- hatchbacks, and in the Audi Quattro’s case- a luxury coupe. Although the Group B-spec S4 and T16 cars were mid-engined, they still originated as front-engined cars. Lancia’s predecessor to the Delta S4- the 037- was also a mid-engined Group B supercar, but it was based on and had originated from Lancia’s mid-engined Montecarlo production car. FIA homologation rules for Group B required the construction of at least 200 road-legal vehicles, and Ford constructed these 200 units with spare parts for another 20+ units put aside for the racing teams. Those chassis and spare parts were later also used to build a couple of non-genuine, so-called bitsa cars. A total of 24 of the 200 original cars were reportedly later converted to the so-called “Evolution” models, mostly marked by their owners as “E” or “E2” types. Ford’s first intention was to mark the FIA-required 20 “Evo” cars as series numbers 201 to 220 but as this was actually not necessary according to the FIA rules they later kept their original series numbers (e.g. 201 = 012, 202 = 146, 203 = 174 et cetera).

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This Ford Focus WRC in Group A spec was driven by none other than rallying legend Colin McRae. The Ford and M-Sport-built Ford Focus WRC replaced the Escort WRC for 1999. It debuted on the Monte Carlo Rally in January, with Colin McRae and Simon Jean-Joseph driving the two Martini Racing-liveried works machines. It set several fastest stage times and McRae finished a provisional third place on the stages, only to be disqualified later due to an illegal water pump. McRae gave the Focus its first win two events later at the Safari Rally, in Kenya, finishing over 15 minutes ahead of the second placed Toyota Corolla WRC of Didier Auriol. Although McRae then immediately followed up this success with a victory at the next round in Portugal, the Scot’s title chances faded amid reliability problems with the new car and a series of costly shunts. McRae finished sixth in the drivers’ standings. During this debut season, many drivers drove the second Focus of the team – France’s Simon Jean-Joseph for some tarmac events, 2003 World Rally champion Petter Solberg of Norway (who replaced Rådström in the Safari Rally) and Thomas Rådström of Sweden on loose-surface rounds (except Safari who was replaced by Petter Solberg). The car continued, with a variety of drivers until the end of 2005 when it was replaced by a new vehicle based on he second generation Focus.

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Ford withdrew from the WRC at the end of 2012, so thereafter the presence of Ford in the championship has been down to its former rally partner, British-based preparation firm M-Sport. Attention switched to the Fiesta, with this car dating from 2017.

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Follow on to the Stratos was the 037, and there were a couple of these here. The Lancia Rally (Tipo 151, also known as the Lancia Rally 037, Lancia 037 or Lancia-Abarth #037 from its Abarth project code 037) was a mid-engine sports car and rally car built by Lancia in the early 1980s to compete in the FIA Group B World Rally Championship. Driven by Markku Alén, Attilio Bettega, and Walter Röhrl, the car won Lancia the manufacturers’ world championship in the 1983 season. It was the last rear-wheel drive car to win the WRC. In 1980 Lancia began designing the 037 to comply with the then new FIA Group B regulations that allowed cars to race with relatively few homologation models being built. Abarth, now a part of the Lancia-Fiat family, did most of the design work, even incorporating styling cues from some of its famous race cars of the 1950s and 1960s such as a double bubble roof line. The car was born from the collaboration between Pininfarina, Abarth, Dallara and the project manager, engineer Sergio Limone. Prior to its first participation in the 1982 World Rally Championship season, 200 road-going models were built to comply with Group B regulations. The Lancia 037 was a silhouette racer; while it was loosely based on the Lancia Montecarlo (also known as Scorpion in the US and Canadian markets) road car, they shared only the centre section with all body panels and mechanical parts being significantly different. Steel subframes were used fore and aft of the production car centre section, while most of the body panels were made from Kevlar. The mid-engined layout of the Montecarlo was retained, but the engine was turned 90 degrees from a transverse position to a longitudinal position. This allowed greater freedom in the design of the suspension and while moving engine weight forward. An independent double wishbone suspension was used on both the front and rear axles, with dual shock absorbers in the rear in order to cope with the stresses of high speed off road driving. The 037 is notable as it retained the rear-wheel drive layout that was nearly universal for rally cars of the pre-Group B period; nearly all subsequent successful rally cars used four-wheel drive, making the 037 the last of its kind. Unlike its predecessor, the first 037s had a 2.0 litre 4-cylinder supercharged engine. Based on the long stroke twin cam which powered earlier Fiat Abarth 131 rally cars, the four valve head was carried over from the 131 Abarth but the original two carburettors were replaced by a single large Weber carburettor in early models and later with fuel injection. It features a ZF transaxle. Lancia also chose a supercharger over a turbocharger to eliminate turbo lag and improve throttle response. Initially power was quoted at 265 hp but with the introduction of the Evolution 1 model power jumped to 300 with the help of water injection. The car made its competition debut at the 1982 Rally Costa Smeralda in Italy, where two cars were entered but both retired due to gearbox issues. The 1982 season was plagued with retirements for the 037, but the new car did manage to achieve several wins including its first win at the Pace Rally in the UK. The 1983 season was considerably more successful for the 037: Lancia took the 1983 World Rally Championship Constructors’ title with Germany’s Walter Röhrl and Finland’s Markku Alen its principal drivers, despite serious competition from the 4WD Audi Quattro. Both drivers, however, missed the final round of the series, despite Röhrl maintaining a mathematical chance of the drivers’ title: such honours instead went to Audi’s veteran Finn, Hannu Mikkola. For the 1984 Constructors’ title defence, Lancia introduced an Evolution 2 version of the 037 with improved engine power, up to 325 bhp, from an enlarged 2111cc engine, but this was not enough to stem the tide of 4WD competition, losing to Audi in both 1984 championships, and again to the 4WD Peugeot 205 T16 in its final works season in 1985. Indeed, Alen collected the final 037 win, and the sole one for the E2 model, on the 1984 Tour De Corse, before it was finally pensioned off in the Martini sponsored Lancia factory rally car line-up in favour of its successor, the uniquely supercharged and turbocharged 4WD Delta S4, for the season-ending RAC Rally in Great Britain. Driver Attilio Bettega died in a 037 crash in 1985. This particular car was a fourth place finisher in San Remo driven by Fabrizio Tabatan. After many years of neglect, the car returned to the ex-works Baldi brothers for repair and is now in a private collection in the UK.

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There were a couple of Subaru models in the display. As well as the better known Impreza WRC, there was a Legacy RS WRC. Although Subaru had participated in the World Rally Championship at various times since 1980, it was not until September 1989, that the Subaru World Rally Team, in its current form, was created. Subaru Tecnica International (STi) president Ryuichiro Kuze forged a partnership with the British firm Prodrive to prepare and enter the recently introduced Legacy RS in the World Rally Championship. Prodrive’s vehicle development began upon the team’s formation in September 1989, creating the Group A Subaru Legacy RS rally car, based on the road going Subaru Legacy sedan. The Legacy was powered by a longitudinally mounted boxer engine, giving it a low centre of gravity. Already equipped with a symmetrical all wheel drive system, it made a good starting point for a rally car. David Lapworth described the development of the car as a “steep learning curve.” The car lacked power and a weak transmission and braking system also hampered the car. To correct its flaws, Prodrive completed a new car, the 1992 Legacy RS, which featured a totally redesigned fuel injection system, during the 1991 season, introduced on the season’s last rally. The team campaigned the 1992 Legacy during the first part of the 1993 season, and on its last rally, achieved the car’s first and only win.

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Following the launch of the Sunbeam hatch in the autumn of 1977, ways were sought to create more interest with the addition of sporting versions. The first of these was the Ti, which was launched in early 1979. Chrysler had also commissioned the sports car manufacturer and engineering company Lotus to develop a strict rally version of the Sunbeam. The resulting ‘”Sunbeam Lotus” was based on the Sunbeam 1.6 GLS, but fitted with stiffer suspension, a larger anti-roll bar and a larger transmission tunnel. The drivetrain comprised an enlarged 2172 cc version of the Lotus 1973 cc 907 engine, a 16V slant four engine (the Sunbeam version being type 911, similar to the “Lotus 912”), along with a ZF gearbox, both mounted in the car at Ludham Airfield, close to the Lotus facility in Hethel, Norfolk, where the almost-complete cars were shipped from Linwood. Final inspection, in turn, took place in Stoke, Coventry. In road trim, the type 911 engine produced 150 bhp at 5,750rpm and 150 lb·ft of torque at 4,500rpm. In rallying trim this was increased to 250 bhp. The Sunbeam Lotus was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in April 1979, but the road-going version of the rally car was not actually ready for deliveries to the public until after the rebranding, and thus became the “Talbot Sunbeam Lotus”. At first these were produced mostly in black and silver, although later models came in a moonstone blue and silver (or black) scheme. The car saw not only enthusiastic press reviews, but also much success in the World Rally Championship – in 1980, Henri Toivonen won the 29th Lombard RAC Rally in one, and, in 1981, the Sunbeam Lotus brought the entire manufacturer’s championship to Talbot. The car had a short career, as new owners, Talbot, decided to kill off the Sunbeam in 1981.

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In 1976, at the instigation of new chairman Bob Price, Vauxhall decided to increase their profile in international rallying. They developed a rally version of the Chevette in conjunction with Blydenstein Racing, which ran Dealer Team Vauxhall, the nearest equivalent to a ‘works’ competition team that GM policy would allow. In order to compete in international rallying, the car had to be homologated; for Group 4, the class the HS was to compete in, this meant building 400 production vehicles for public sale. Vauxhall created a far more powerful Chevette variant by fitting the 2.3 litre slant-four engine, using a 16-valve cylinder head which Vauxhall was developing – though the rally cars used the Lotus 16-valve head until a rule change by the FIA banned them in 1978. Fitted with two Stromberg carburettors the engine developed 135 bhp. Suspension and rear axle were from the Opel Kadett C GT/E and the gearbox was a Getrag five-speed. Chevrolet Vega alloy wheels (similar in appearance to the Avon wheels used on the droopsnoot Firenza) were used, as well as a newly developed glass-reinforced plastic air dam. The result was a very fast and well handling, if rather unrefined, road car. Like the Droopsnoot Firenza, the HS was available only in silver, with red highlighting and a bright red, black and tartan interior; though (partly to help sell unsold vehicles) some cars were repainted in other colours, such the black Mamos Garage HS-X. The HS became a great success as a rally car, chalking up notable wins for drivers such as Pentti Airikkala and Tony Pond. It was a challenge to the most successful rally car of the time, the Ford Escort, winning the British Open Rally Championship for drivers in 1979 and for manufacturers in 1981. It was also successful in other national rally championships, such as Belgium’s. To keep the rally car competitive into the 1980s an evolution version, the Chevette HSR, was developed which was successful for several more years. The modified cars featured glass reinforced plastic (fibreglass) front and rear wings, spoiler, bonnet and tailgate (giving the HSR the nickname ‘Plastic Fantastic’), revised suspension (particularly at the rear, where extra suspension links were fitted), and other minor changes. Group 4 evolution required a production run of 50 cars incorporating the new modifications; these were made by rebuilding unsold HSs and by modifying customers’ vehicles. However, the merger of the Vauxhall and Opel marketing departments resulted in Dealer Team Vauxhall and Dealer Opel Team (DOT) joining to form GM Dealer Sport (GMDS); with the Chevette soon to be obsolete, Opel were able to force the cancellation of the HSR rally programme in favour of the Manta 400.

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The second display contained another collection of rally icons, some more obvious and better known in this form than others.

The Audi Quattro of 1980 completely transformed rallying and also had a pretty profound effect on road cars, as well as changing Audi’s image from being worthy but dull to something far more desirable. As this is the 40th anniversary of the Quattro and there are lots of events planned to mark this, it was a little surprising that this was the sole example here and not more of a fuss was being made.

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Citroen C1

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The GTM Coupé is a Mini based kit car dating back to 1967. The design was inspired by the Ferrari Dino, albeit much smaller. GTM is short for “Grand Touring Mini”. The car was first shown at the 1967 Racing Car Show and soon afterwards went into production by the Cox brothers from their garage in Hazel Grove, Stockport as the Cox GTM. In 1969 the rights to the design and manufacturing were bought by Howard Heerey and the Cox part of the name was dropped. His father’s company Midland Garage took over manufacture of the GTM. In April 1980 ownership changed again to GTM Engineering, who upgraded and continued to manufacture the Coupé until 1995. The Coupé is a mid-engined two-seater sports car designed to give outstanding performance for its time, and impeccable handling. The design is composed of two Mini front subframes, with traditional Mini rubber cone suspension, linked by a sheet steel semi-monocoque chassis. The chassis’ deep centre tunnel backbone is supplemented by two generous sills. The car is mid-engined: the rear subframe contained the engine as in a Mini with the steering arms locked in position with adjustable rods and ball joints. This is held in place by a 1″ square tubular space frame, all the way from the rear bulkhead. The front subframe carried the steering rack, fuel tank and radiator. Brakes and wheels remained as per the options available to the Mini, post April 1982 GTM Coupés being designed to allow fitment of 13″ wheels. Mini or later Metro engines could be installed. Cox himself only built fifty cars. Howard Heerey’s Midland Garage then took over, renaming the car simply GTM. Heerey kept developing the car, reaching a third variant by 1971 (referred to as 1-3, for “model 1, variation 3”), when about 170 kits had been manufactured. This third model used the Mini’s front bumper (earlier models had none) and the taillights of the Triumph Dolomite. The rear subframe was changed from a sheetmetal to a lighter and easier to manufacture spaceframe design, which also freed up space for the radiator to be fitted next to the engine rather than up front. The company also changed names again, to Howard Heerey Engineering Ltd. By 1972, Heerey had to close up shop and sold the jigs and moulds to HE Glass-Fibre of Hartlewood. They remained dormant until 1976 when KMB Autosports began manufacturing spare parts again, but no new cars were built until the parts and jigs were sold in April 1980 after a long period of negotiations. GTM Engineering (later GTM Cars) continued to build about 600 more Coupés in a number of iterations from 1980 until 1995, and updated the design in 1983. This was the fifth variation, which received a front-mounted Austin Allegro radiator to minimize earlier models perennial overheating problems. Peter Leslie’s Primo Designs of Stoulton (Worcestershire) took over manufacture in 1996 and continued to build the design into the early 2000s, largely unchanged. As built by GTM Cars, the Coupé was available in several groups of “part packs” that were designed to allow each stage of the build to be purchased separately as they were undertaken, spreading the costs over a period. In 1985 a complete kit cost £2380. “Labour packs” were also available for customers that wished GTM to undertake specific stages in the construction. The chassis is fabricated from 18-20 swg steel, to incorporate the floor pan, boxed sills and the central tunnel box section. It forms a very robust structure. The fabrication is carried forwards in order to locate the front sub-frame, and a 1″ square tubular space frame extends beyond the rear bulkhead to carry the rear sub-frame. Welding was carried out by MIG for consistent quality and to avoid distortion. The chassis was fully jigged during manufacturing to ensure a true and accurate assembly. The body is moulded in high quality glass reinforced plastic. It is extremely tough, non rusting and, being unstressed, is not subject to gel-coat star crazing as found on many cars using GRP body shells. The windscreen is laminated glass and the rear screen perspex. The doors are double skinned glass fibre fitted with anti-burst locks, steel window frames, and steel strengthers to avoid door drop, often found on glass fibre cars. The sliding windows are toughened glass, coming from the Mini Traveller. The bonnet is again moulded in high quality glass reinforced plastic. It is hinged at the front to give access to under bonnet space. A completely separate boot compartment situated behind the engine offers 4 cu ft of luggage space with separate locking boot cover. In 2015 Hambly Sportscars Ltd. purchased the Primo (ex-GTM) Coupé Project, and are now supplying spare parts. They were also developing a Ford Fiesta-engined version of the kit with a new rear subframe.

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Ford Escort Mark 2

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Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV

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In 1979 work began on a rally-spec Opel. Both the Ascona B and the Manta B were used for this. The Ascona 400 model was the more successful of the two, largely due to better weight distribution. Opel joined forces with German tuner Irmscher and Cosworth in Britain, to make the 400. Cosworth was given the task to develop a 16-valve 2-cam head for the CIH spec engine block, and Irmscher who earlier in 1977 and 78 had proven that they knew their way around an Opel building the i2800, was to design the exterior and interior of the cars. The results were not bad. Opel however had problems with the engine. The first idea of using a 2.0-litre engine and then using the 16-valve head from Cosworth simply did not give enough power. The problem was that the heads had already been built, so the heads were made to fit on the CIH type 4-cylinder engine block. So they built an unusual engine using a 2.0-litre engine block with an overbore and larger pistons, a crankshaft from the 2.3-litre diesel engine of same type (CIH) and ended with a 2.4-litre engine block. Mounting the 16-valve head on this gave a massive output, and the opportunity to make several tune-ups for the rally drivers. Opel delivered the first 23 specimens in 1981 which were recognizable by the 2 slot front grille (1982, 83, and 84 models had 4 slot grilles). The cars were delivered as both street cars and factory tuned rally cars. The streetcars known as Phase 1 cars, were luxury versions of the Manta B Coupé. Although all the changes to give the body more strength were still implemented, the cars were delivered with all kinds of exclusive packaging. Recaro seats with big Opel badges on the cloth, Irmscher leather steering wheel, and even front light washers were mounted. The cars were all delivered in Arctic White colour, with White Ronal lightweight 7×15″ alloys. The engine was fitted with a Bosch LE injection system and power output was 144 bhp. The Phase 2 however was quite different. It had large extended arches front and rear made of materials such as carbon and kevlar to keep the weight down, lightweight doors, bonnet, spoilers and windows. The wheels were still from Ronal but now measuring 8×15″ front and 10×15″ rear. The engine output was 230 bhp using a set of 1.9 in DCOE style carburettors, and the cars could be delivered with different gearboxes from ZF and with different rear axle options like LSD. Phase 3 which is also a term used when talking about the i400s was not a factory tune-up. Many racers of the time had their garages tune up the engine even further. Some made it across the 300 bhp mark and even today, engines can be tuned to deliver just over 340 bhp still naturally aspirated. The Manta 400 was produced in a total of 245 specimens following the homologation regulations by FISA (today FIA). But the i400 also spawned some other “i” models: The first was the i200 which basically was a GSi model Manta B with most of the Manta 400’s appearance. 700 were made and are still considered a collector’s item. The i200 used a tuned 2.0E engine delivering 125 PS. There was also the i240, which is rarer as only 300 were produced, it is fitted with the i400 engine block but using a normal eight-valve cast-iron head from the 2.0E engine. First presented at the 1985 Geneva Motor Show, it produces 134 bhp and has a claimed top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph).

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Toyota Celica

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British Leyland ran a team of TR7s in rally competitions from 1976 to 1980. These cars initially used the 16-valve Dolomite Sprint engine and later switched to the Rover V8 engine (before the introduction of the TR8, so dubbed “TR7 V8”). They were reasonably successful on tarmac events but were less successful on gravel sections. The most successful driver of these cars was Tony Pond. The 16-valve engined TR7 rally car was homologated for group 4 in October 1975, well before any 16-valve TR7 Sprints are known to have been produced. This was possible at the time using the “100-off rule”, as John Davenport called it, in the FIA’s appendix J to the International Sporting Code 1975. This 100-off rule described a list of “Optional equipment which may be recognsed with a minimum production of 100 units per year to equip 100 cars” and requirements for their use. However, it did not require that any cars actually be so equipped, just that 100 of the “bolt-on option kits” be produced, listed, and made available for sale. As well as alternative cylinder heads with different numbers of cams and valves, this list of optional equipment also included many other engine, suspension, and transmission components, and so covered the use of the 4-speed, close-ratio gearbox and overdrive from the Triumph Dolomite Sprint (the heavy duty axle from the 5-speed TR7 was initially homologated for group 3 by another, less clear, route, though re-homologated later, presumably on production of 5-speed TR7s). Further modifications, including the larger front brakes and rear disk brakes, were covered as “Optional equipment which may be recognised without a minimum production”. In 1975, Appendix J listed yet more modifications allowed, with restrictions, to cars for group 4, including pistons, manifolds, carburettors, and suspension, etc., that could be fitted without the FIA needing to recognise or approve them. However, the BL rally team had to regain approval for the 16-valve head for the 1978 season, and several others such as Lancia, Toyota, Vauxhall, and Ford had similar problems at that time. This was because the FIA deleted the 100-off rule from 1976, though mechanical parts and cars already using it were allowed to be used until the end of 1977. The number of cars suitable for “normal sale” required to gain approval of such a modification under the 1976 rules does not appear to be recorded. However, several other similar modifications of the era, including the Vauxhall Chevette HSR, Porsche 924 Carrera GTS, and possibly Ford RS rally cars, involved production of batches of 50 cars. This may explain, at least in part, the production of the 60 or so 16-valve TR7 Sprints in 1977. Their use in this homologation process is shown by 6 photographs of a TR7 Sprint (later registered SJW 530S) described in the British Motor Museum Film and Picture Library archives as “TR7 Sprint Homologation”. The V8 version was homologated on 1 April 1978. This was homologated as a separate model, the TR8, directly into group 4, but because the TR8 had not yet been launched “as a compromise to keep the BL marketing people happy, it was called the TR7V8 instead.” At that time, appendix J required 400 cars suitable for “normal sale”. However, the number produced by April 1978 is believed to have been less than 150. Journalist and historian Graham Robson quotes John Davenport as saying “In those days there was no rigorous FIA inspection system. Provided that one provided a production sheet signed by an important manager, then nobody worried”. Robson goes on, “A lot of fast and persuasive talking then went on, to show that the makings of well over 500 [sic.] cars were either built, partly built, or stuck in the morass of the Speke strike—the result being that homologation was gained.” However, the FIA rules are specific that these should be “entirely finished cars, e.g., cars in running condition and ready for delivery to the purchasers.” Also, the Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800 was re-homologated into Group 4, as the 2 L Escort RS, with only about 50 produced in 1977 and only about 109 in total – though has been claimed the FIA had included Escorts modified to RS1800 specification by others, after sale, despite this clearly being outside the FIA’s rules. The TR7-V8 models continue to be successful in classic rallying events.

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This Vauxhall Astra GSi, restored over a 17 year period by Adam Crowton, is not actually a works car. Many of the Astra rally cars were built by Vauxhall dealerships using parts from Harry Hockley and they got a discount if they used this livery. It was effectively a way of bulking out the fleet. The only actual works cars in 1993 were David Llewelyn’s and David Higgins’. Driver Daren Herring built this one from a bare bodyshell bought from Lockers as a college project. The Welsh tourist office sponsored him, paying to have Llandudno advertised on the wings. Herring contested the 1993 Manx and RAC Rallies in it then two British Championships. From 1997 to 2003 it was used at a Rally School, where there were a lot of Astra rally cars, but by 2003 it was really ready for the scrapyard but the current owner saw that the rally parts were still in good condition and offered scrap value for the car, for which he got a genuine ex-RAC Rally car.

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And finally there was a Group A spec Volkswagen Golf GTi.

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In recent years, the BTCC has gained a lot of new fans, and many will tell you that this is one of the most exciting racing series out there at present. I am inclined to agree with them, so was looking forward to a special BTCC display. I was rather disappointed, as instead of seeing examples of most of the field, there were just three cars on the main KwikFit BTCC Stand, the Toyota Corolla, Vauxhall Astra and the Infiniti Q50.

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There was a separate stand which featured Colin Turkington’s BMW 3 Series, a car which made its debut in the 2019 season and did rather well, taking the championship at the end of the year.

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Final current BTCC car that I came across elsewhere in the Hall was this VW CC.

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There was no one specific display for cars that compete in the various Sports and GT championships around Europe, but a number of these cars were to be found, dispersed around the show.

Aston Martin Vantage GT3

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This is a Maserati GranTurismo MC GT4, which started life as a Trofeo before being upgraded to GT4 specification to run in Euro GT4, British GT and Euro GT. In 2017 the car had wins at Spa and Zandvoort and this year will be competing in the new 2020 CSCC “Slicks Series” for modified saloons, hatches, sports and GT cars at a number of major UK circuits.

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There was even a McLaren Senna among the cars.

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This was another impressive assembly, with examples of all the Formula 1 cars from the 2019 season. I have to confess that Formula 1 with the same level of interest as I used to do when it was compulsive viewing every other Sunday afternoon, with Murrary Walker getting even more excited than I was. That meant that I could not even instantly recognise some of the liveries and cars, but luckily they were all labelled.

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About as different you get were these cars, deliberately light-weight for optimum performance on grass tracks. Some are based on small production cars, others are purpose designed for the task.

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Different again were these amazing machines, with stupendous amounts of power and torque. The pictures of them in action that were displayed on the stand suggest that this is a form of motosport that everyone should experience at least once!

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Spread on various other stands throughout the Show were a number of other cars, many of them familiar as road cars that have been modified for motorsport, some with more modifications than others.


Sole Alfa Romeo of the event was this Scuderia MiTo in Tazio Nuvolari tribute livery. This is the only Multi-Air engined Alfa to run in the power-to-weight controlled “Power Trophy” class of the Alfa Rromeo Championship which allows modifications but controls performance for eligible Alfas, Fiats and Lancia.

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There were four works-entered Austin 1800s in the 16,000 km London-Sydney Marathon of 1968 and the all Australian crew were doing well, setting a good pace as they headed towards the crucial final stages. Evan Green, ‘Gelignite’ Jack Murray and George Shepheard had paced themselves through the early stages of the Marathon to be sure their car was in good shape for the crucial final stages; they were eleventh in Turkey, eighth in Afghanistan and fifth in Western Australia. By South Australia, they were the top placed Australian crew. There are several replicas of these works cars around these days.

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The Benetton B192 is a Formula One racing car designed by Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne and raced by the Benetton team in the 1992 Formula One season. The car had a delayed start in 1992, being debuted at the Spanish Grand Prix while the team made do with an upgraded version of the B191 for the opening three rounds. The car was quite competitive with Michael Schumacher and Martin Brundle scoring several podiums with it. Schumacher, in his first full F1 season, came of age as a Grand Prix driver when he won the rain-affected Belgian Grand Prix after a clever pit strategy put him in the lead after dropping behind Brundle with a brief off and realising upon seeing Brundle’s tyres that the wets were blistering as the track dried. Brundle came close to a possible victory at the Canadian Grand Prix, chasing race leader Gerhard Berger until a transmission issue ended his bid at winning the race. Schumacher would finish the season third in the standings, Brundle sixth. The car had a very well designed, nimble chassis and it made the most of the disadvantages it inherited with the under-powered Ford V8. It did not have the sophisticated driver aids of its rivals, lacking active suspension, ABS, traction control, and a semi-automatic gearbox. When Martin Brundle drove the B192 again in 2008 at Silverstone, he recalled that although it was slightly tail-happy, it was very comfortable to drive and said of it “…I can live with it, it’s great!”. It was a substantial improvement over the previous year’s car which Brundle described as being “very heavy on the steering”, “a real challenge to drive … and sometimes it felt like a bathtub with a loose wheel”. Benetton eventually finished 3rd in the Constructors’ Championship after scoring points in every race of the season, with Schumacher even finishing 3rd in the Drivers’ Championship with 53 points, perhaps surprisingly ahead of reigning world champion Ayrton Senna, who won three races to Schumacher’s one but who struggled with retirements.

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The Bill Thomas Cheetah was an American sports car designed and engineered entirely with American components, and built from 1963 to 1966 by Chevrolet performance tuner Bill Thomas. It was developed as a competitor to Carroll Shelby’s Cobra. William P. “Bill” Thomas was born on 28 May 1921 and lived in Anaheim, California. In 1956 Thomas commenced work tuning and modifying Chevrolet Corvettes for racing for C S Mead Motors Co. By 1960, Thomas had started his own company, Bill Thomas Race Cars. At that time General Motors approached him to undertake performance work on the new Chevrolet Corvair. He also prepared the 1962 409 Bel-Airs and Biscaynes for drag racing and another Chevrolet stock car for Louis Unser who won its division of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. He was also contracted by GM to develop the Chevy II. In 1963 Thomas gained covert support from General Motors Performance Product Group head Vince Piggins to develop the Cheetah as a concept vehicle. It was designed by Thomas and Don Edmunds, his lead fabricator. Edmunds is credited with the bulk of the construction of the car. Financing for the project came from private investors, Thomas, and John Grow, a Rialto California Chevrolet dealer. Grow owned the prototype car. Using his racing connections, Thomas arranged for material assistance from Chevrolet for the major components – the Corvette 327 engine, Muncie transmission, and independent rear-end assemblies. Other components were stocked from the larger GM parts bin, such as Chevrolet passenger car spindles, and NASCAR spec Chevrolet drum brakes. Following delivery of the drivetrain components, Edmunds laid them out on the shop floor and began taking measurements. Using chalk, Edmunds sketched the basic outline of the chassis. The original blueprints of the Cheetah by Edmunds consisted of a few simple drawings showing the major components in block form, with major dimensions marked. Edmunds’ design methodology for the majority of cars he built during his career was to sketch what he thought a car ought to look like, then build it. Only his last few Indy cars involved professional designers. Once the chassis shape was determined, Edmunds sketched the body. He showed his drawings to Thomas and after a few minor changes, began construction. The Cheetah was designed to be a cruising machine or styling exercise, not a racing car. Thomas wanted a prototype to show General Motors the level of work his company could do with the intent to obtain additional contract work. After construction began Thomas decided the car would also compete on the racetrack to further promote the concept. The chassis had not been designed for this and therefore was not rigid enough for racing. This problem emerged once the car began to compete. Once Edmunds had the lower half of a rolling chassis built, he constructed a plywood body form or “buck” on which fit on top of the chassis. The buck included removable metal frames which showed the outline of the windows. Once completed, the body buck and forms were sent to California Metal Shaping for an aluminium body and Aircraft Windshield Co for the windows. Once returned to Thomas’, it was finished by Don Borth and Edmunds. A second car was also constructed with an aluminium body, but the remainder of the cars were fibreglass. The production models used fibreglass bodies. The first were produced by two different companies – Contemporary Fibreglass and Fibreglass Trends. Contemporary Fiberglass was selected to produce the bodies following some problems with the Fibreglass Trends moulds. Fibreglass Trends went on to produce their own version of the Cheetah under the name GTR, which was used for drag racing. The Cheetah’s chassis was constructed of Drawn Over Mandrel (DOM) cro-moly tubing that was heliarc welded (more commonly referred to as TIG or tungsten inert gas welding) using a P&H Mining DAR-200 welder. The design of the car was unusual in that it was front engined, but with the engine sitting so far back in the chassis that the output yoke of the transmission connected directly to the input yoke on the differential, basically making the driveshaft only a universal joint linking the transmission with the differential. With the engine positioned in this manner, the driver’s legs were beside the engine. The exhaust system headers passed over the top of the driver’s and passenger’s legs. The tops of the footboxes were curved to make room for Edmunds’ handmade headers. This design takes the attributes of what is known as an FRM layout to an extreme. Consequently, this design gave a front/rear weight distribution roughly approximating a mid-engined vehicle without the cost of an expensive transaxle arrangement. This design style resulted in a hot driver’s compartment – an issue that would impact the Cheetah’s performance on the track. Former employees believe that the #001 aluminium car sold to Chevrolet for evaluation and later repurchased by Thomas formed the base model for the Super Cheetah project. This proto-type Super Cheetah was intended to become the new 1965 improved street Cheetah, which was also rumored that it was going to be raced at Le Mans. Work started on the Super Cheetah early in 1964, roughly within the same timeframe as Carroll Shelby’s “Ferrari-focused” Shelby Daytona racing coupe. A 4130 chrome moly steel space frame was produced for the Super Cheetah, incorporating changes suggested by Chevrolet during its evaluations at Riverside with input from Bob Bondurant, Jerry Titus, and others from June 1963 to 1964. The redesign also incorporated changes learned from experience with racing the original Cheetahs. The interior was widened for driver comfort with 2 more inches either side of the foot pedal, the steering rack-and-pinion moved to rear steer position of the front spindles (unlike Bill’s 1st design front steer position on the 1964 model), the front frame section had 7°caster built into it, the front shock tower area had new diagonal tubing installed to limit chassis flex, the front upper and lower a-arms had ball joints and the rear chassis area was enlarged to allow for more fuel capacity. The project was never finished by Thomas because of Chevrolet’s decision to withdraw its support. In 1964, race car rules changed from 100 cars needed for homologation to 1000 cars. This prompted Chevrolet to advise Thomas that they would no longer support the Cheetah project. Another major factor ending the project was the rapidly evolving race car design and true mid-engined configurations represented the wave of the future. For instance Shelby Daytona coupes were rendered obsolete by the Ford GT40. Thomas, faced with these negative factors as well as a fire that destroyed his factory on 9 September 1965, made the business decision to end production of the Cheetah and move on to other projects, including collaboration on the Nickey Chevrolet Camaros. The last documented Bill Thomas produced Cheetah was ordered in the fall of 1965 and delivered in April 1966.

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There was another example of the 308 GTB Group 4 here.

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In a display which would remind everyone who went to see “Le Mans 66” (or “Ford vs Ferrari” depending on which side of the Atlantic you are), there were replica examples of both cars, the Ford GT40 and Ferrari on this stand.

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There quite a variety of different Fords with motor sport connections here, from the GT40, the car built by Ford expressly to beat Ferrari at Le Mans, as well as cars which were produced for the road as a homologation special, such as the Sierra Cosworth, and cars which were conceived for the road and which found success in sport as well, such as the Mark I Escort and the Capri Mark 3 and the latest Fiesta WRC car.

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A car conceived for the track, but which is available in road-going guise is the diminutive Ginetta G40. There are two different one-make championships for these cars. The Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship is a multi-event, one make motor racing championship held across England and Scotland, featuring a mix of professional motor racing teams and privately funded drivers, aged between 14 and 17, competing in Ginetta G40s that conform to the technical regulations for the championship. It forms part of the extensive program of support categories built up around the British Touring Car Championship centrepiece. This is the thirteenth Ginetta Junior Championship, and the first with new title sponsor Michelin. Like all motorsport, you need deep pockets, or some serious sponsorship to take part, as with races taking place from the first at Brands Hatch in March, to the season finale also at Brands on 13 October transport and logistics will be a significant addition to the cost of the car, the tyres and repairing any damage. The Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup is also a multi-event, one make GT motor racing championship held across England and Scotland, also featuring a mix of professional motor racing teams and privately funded drivers, but they compete in the larger and more potent Ginetta G55s that conform to the technical regulations for the championship. 2019 is the ninth Ginetta GT4 Supercup, having rebranded from the Ginetta G50 Cup, which ran between 2008 and 2010. The season commences in April at Brands Hatch – on the circuit’s Indy configuration – and concludes at the end of September at the same venue, utilising the Grand Prix circuit, after twenty-two races held at eight meetings, all in support of the 2020 British Touring Car Championship.

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This NS-X was on the Tegiwa Stand. Not a firm that I am familiar with, they make a wide variety of performance and tuning parts for a wide range of European and Japanese cars, and this NS-X was showcasing several of their products, along with a distinctive livery.

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Jaguar had brought along a couple of examples of the very special XE SV Project Eight. This limited-run super-saloon (of sorts) was unveiled in 2017, with the first cars hitting the roads in the middle of 2019. Just 300 are set to be built. It was developed — and is being built by — Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations, the division that’s responsible for high-performance SVR-branded Range Rovers and F-Types, as well as low-volume specials such as the 2015 F-Type Project 7. The Project 8 is only available with left-hand drive. It shares its basic body-in-white with the everyday XE, but just about everything else is new. Every body panel but the roof and front doors are bespoke, the suspension has been entirely reworked and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres feature on a Jaguar for the very first time. The familiar 5.0-litre supercharged V8 that serves across JLR has also been shoehorned in. Here, it develops 592bhp and 516lb ft, making the Project 8 Jaguar’s most powerful road car to date. The aero package is bespoke, too, of course, and capable of generating 122kg of downforce at 186mph. The optional Track Pack, which costs £10,000 and saves 12kg, swaps out the rear seats for a half-roll-cage and adds carbon-backed bucket seats up front with four-point harnesses. The price tag of £149,00 means that you have to be absolutely sure you want one, and it would seem that not enough people have been, with sales proving harder to find than Jaguar had anticipated.

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Displayed on the Yokohama stand was this, a replica of the 1964 Mini Cooper S that Paddy Hopkirk drove to success on the Monte Carlo rally.

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On the National Motorsports Academy was this Mosler MT900T, a sports car that was built in the United States and the United Kingdom by Mosler Automotive. Three sub-models were produced. The MT900R was a racing version of the MT900. The basic car was updated as the MT900S for 2005, with the MT900S Photon being an optional performance package. The original MT900 was introduced in 2001 and the MT900S finished production in May 2011. Components for 25 MTs were produced as of January, 2005, though only about 35 road cars and 50 racing versions have officially been completed (c.20 of which are MT900S). The MT900 was the replacement for the Mosler Raptor.

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The Ogle SX1000 is a front-wheel drive Mini-based coupé-style motor vehicle designed by David Ogle, the founder of Ogle Design. The car was introduced to the public in December 1961, and from the following year David Ogle Ltd. offered to transform any customer’s Mini into an SX1000 for £550. All of the car’s mechanical components came from the Mini, but with a new fibreglass body shell. The windscreen comes from the Riley 1.5, as does the indicator stalk on the right of the steering column. The SX1000 has the same front disc and rear drum brake arrangement as the standard Mini Cooper. BMC, the manufacturer of the Mini on which the SX1000 is based, initially refused to supply new parts to David Ogle Ltd, but eventually relented on condition that the word Mini was not mentioned in any promotional material. All Ogle cars were subsequently supplied with new Mini cooper 997 cc and priced at £1,190. The motoring magazine Autocar was the first to road test the SX1000, over more than 1000 miles. Their complimentary test report stated that the car was able to exceed 99 mph. Motorsport reported in their test that the car could reach 90 mph on the straight and 100 mph on a long downhill gradient, albeit with some road rumble and vibration through the gear lever. Fuel consumption was 35 mpg. While Motorsport magazine’s reviewer was impressed by the car, and in particular by the high quality of its glassfibre body, the report’s overall conclusion was that “Economically it is difficult to justify the purchase of a car like this which is heavier than the standard car from which it is derived and has fewer seats”.
In May 1962 David Ogle was killed in a road traffic accident when he crashed into a lorry while driving the Ogle Lightweight to the Brands Hatch racing circuit. The company decided to cease production of the SX1000 following Ogle’s death. The last cars were completed towards the end of 1963, by which time 69 had been built.

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Although the 911 is an accomplished road car, the model has been used for racing almost throughout its long life, and there were a couple of examples here, from different generations of the car.

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Skoda were showing the latest Fabia WRC rally car.

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Oil company Motul had this fabulous Studebaker Silver Hawk classic car on display on their stand. This beast of a car dates back to the 1950’s and hails from Indiana, USA. The car was converted into a race car by former BTCC champion Patrick Watts and competed at the Goodwood Revival last September.

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Further examples of the successful Sunbeam Lotus were on show here.

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In 2018 Toyota finally had the success at the Le Mans 24 hour race that they had been seeking for a number of years, and this is that winning car, which has never been cleaned since its victory. The Toyota TS050 Hybrid was developed for the 2016 Le Mans Prototype rules in the FIA World Endurance Championship. The car is the direct successor of the Toyota TS040 Hybrid, which competed in both the 2014 and 2015 FIA WEC seasons. The TS050 was revealed at the Circuit Paul Ricard on 24 March 2016 due to Toyota’s 2-year cycle policy, ahead of the WEC Prologue, at the Circuit Paul Ricard. Compared to the previous car, the Toyota TS040 Hybrid, the car features a number of changes, with the naturally-aspirated 3.7-litre V8 engine being dropped, and replaced by a new 2.4L Twin-turbocharged V6 engine. In addition to this, the Capacitor Hybrid energy storage system has been dropped, and replaced with a new Lithium-ion battery, with the car now moving to the 8 Megajoule sub-class in LMP1-Hybrid. Initial photographs revealed that the car utilised suspension concept appearing similar to that previously used in the TS040, a double wishbone arrangement with pushrod actuated internal components paired with Torsion bars. Compared to the TS040, the nose was also raised, a trait shared with its rivals, the Audi R18, and the Porsche 919 Hybrid, which allowed for a large opening beneath the nose, and for elements to be placed to tune the airflow. For the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship, the TS050 underwent a substantial redesign, with majority of the previous years bodywork being heavily modified or removed, with the monocoque being the sole piece of bodywork which was carried over. In the front of the car, the nose was raised slightly, while the undercut was made into the sidepod of the car. Internally, the car also underwent changes, with the coolers being relocated and being raised, while the rear suspension layout was slightly modified. Due to new regulations in the championship aimed at reducing the speeds of the car, the front splitter was raised up by 15mm, while the rear diffuser was narrowed, while other regulations implemented as a form of cost control meant that only two aerodynamic configurations were introduced, down from the previous year’s three. The car featured a new 2.4L V6 Twin-Turbocharged Engine, replacing the previous year’s design, while the previous year’s 8 megajoule hybrid season was upgraded, and carried over to the new car. Toyota had reworked the block, head, and combustion chamber on the gas engine, to run allow for a higher compression ratio and to boost thermal efficiency of the engine. The Hybrid system of the car was upgraded with smaller and lighter motor-generator units, whilst the Lithium-Ion battery pack was also modified. Prior to the WEC Prologue Pre-season test, it was also revealed by Toyota that the car had undergone 30,000km in testing, consisting of five tests, at various circuits, including the Circuit Paul Ricard, Ciudad del Motor de Aragón, Algarve International Circuit. Of the 5 tests, four of these were revealed to be 30-hour endurance tests. Toyota came into the 2018–19 FIA World Endurance Championship season as the only LMP1 team with hybrid entries. After taking a one-two victory at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, they became the second Japanese car manufacturer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans after Mazda in 1991 with the Mazda 787B, Toyota scoring another 1-2 finish.

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Hall 4 was allocated to what was billed as the Performance and Tuning Show. There were a number of dealers and trade stands in here, so there were not actually that many cars to see, certainly given the size of the hall. They varied quite dramatically from Owners Club classics through a few brand new cars and several which had undergone extensive modifications, either mechanically or visually or both.


Sole example of the Scorpion brand was this car on Italian Events company Carossa Events’ stand. Called a 595C “Grand Tour”, the car had been wrapped, as this rather attractive deep red colour is not as bright as the standard Abarth Red that is the only red offered by the factory at present.

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The Cannon Run is an annual event that covers huge distances across many countries in the space of three or so action packed days. Most of the entrants have the latest super- and hypercars, and as well as driving at high speed (and encountering problems with law enforcement agencies in some countries), the YouTubers that are among the participants produce GigaBytes of content which has an appeal to some. Not me, really, though. The stand here was promoting the 2020 event and was also offering would-be participants the chance to rent a car in which they could take part. There were soome eye-catching cars on their stand, including a McLaren Senna.

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There were two examples of the 488 Pista here, a model which was unveiled on 6 March 2018 at the Geneva Motor Show. The Pista’s design was influenced by the 488 GTE and 488 Challenge race variants. The car has received many mechanical and exterior modifications to make it more capable than the 488 GTB. The 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine now generates a power output of 720 PS (710 bhp) at 8,000 rpm and 770 Nm (568 lb/ft) of torque at 3,000 rpm due to the use of new camshafts, a larger intercooler, strengthened pistons, titanium connecting rods and Inconel exhaust manifolds in the engine borrowed from the 488 Challenge. Revisions to the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission also allow for shifts in 30 milliseconds when drivers enter race mode. The most noticeable exterior changes for the Pista are at the front end. Air passes through the ducts in front bumper and which direct it through a large vent in the hood, which creates more downforce over the nose at high-speeds. Helping boost performance further, the air intake tunnels have been moved from the flanks to the rear spoiler to optimize clean air flow. Other exterior changes include underbody diffusers and the rear diffuser shared with the 488 GTE. In total, the car generates 20% more downforce than the 488 GTB. On the interior, carbon fibre and Alcantara are used throughout in order to reduce weight. Overall, the car is 200 lb (91 kg) lighter than the 488 GTB due to the use of carbon fibre on the hood, bumpers, and rear spoiler. Optional 20-inch carbon fibre wheels available for the Pista save an additional 40% of weight. The car also incorporates a Side-slip Angle Control system having an E-Diff3, F-Trac and magneto rheological suspension to improve handling at high speeds. These modifications enable the 488 Pista to accelerate from 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 2.85 seconds, 0–200 km/h (0–124 mph) in 7.6 seconds and give the car a maximum speed of 340 km/h (211 mph), according to the manufacturer. First deliveries of the model to the UK took place late in 2018, but it is still a rare sight.

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The Pista’s predecessor was here too, the 458 Speciale. Like the Pista which followed it, the 458 Speciale was on release the latest of a long line of specially engineered cars added to complement the “regular” V8 models that started with the 100 units of the 348 Speciale produced in 1992, and followed up by the 360 Challenge Stradale, the 430 Scuderia and the 16M. In essence they are all about adding power and shedding weight. In simplistic terms, the road to the Speciale can be summed up in four words: more power, less weight. There are other, more detailed changes, too, obviously, but those are the cornerstones around which everything else is shaped. The normally aspirated, flat-plane crank V8 retains its 4497cc swept capacity but receives new cam geometry with higher valve lift, shorter inlet manifolds and different pistons providing a higher compression ratio. Internal friction is reduced, through the use of uprated materials and the upshot is 597bhp (up from 562bhp) generated at the engine’s 9000rpm limit. Torque is the same, at 398lb ft, still delivered at 6000rpm. The engine is mated to a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox whose upshifts, we were told at the launch of such gearboxes, are all but instant. That’s still true, but Ferrari has improved the response time to a pull on the lever and made the engine rev-match more quickly on downshifts to reduce the time that those take. The engine’s changes shave 8kg from the car’s overall weight – the exhaust is all aluminium and the intake is carbonfibre. Those 8kg form part of a claimed 90kg total saving at 1395kg now, versus 1485kg for a 458 Italia. Of this 90kg, 12kg is contributed by lighter, forged wheels, 13kg comes from bodywork and window changes (lighter glass all round and Lexan for the engine cover), and 20kg comes from the cabin. There are two flaps on the Speciale’s front valance, one either side of the prancing horse badge in its centre. Below 106mph these flaps remain closed, which diverts air towards the radiators. Above that speed, the radiators get quite enough cool air, thanks very much, so the flaps open, which reduces drag. Then, above 137mph, they move again, lowering to shift downforce to the rear of the car, in turn adjusting the balance 20 per cent rearward in order to bpromote high-speed cornering stability. At the rear, meanwhile, there is a new diffuser (the exhausts have been rerouted to make the most of its central section). Movable flaps in the diffuser adjust, but this time they are dependent not only on speed but also on steering angle and throttle or brake position. When lowered, the flaps stall the path of air into the diffuser and improve the Cd by 0.03. When raised, the diffuser adds downforce as it should. Bodywork changes, though, also bring some aerodynamic improvements, you’ll not be surprised to hear, with lessons applied from the LaFerrari and FXX programmes. In the front valance and under the rear diffuser, there are flaps that open at speed to reduce drag and improve downforce. Finally, there are new Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres in a unique compound – rather a sticky one, we suspect – plus new calibration for the adaptive dampers. The carbon-ceramic brake discs also use a new compound. 499 of them were built and they sold out very quickly.

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It was with the 360 Modena that sales of Ferrari models really took off, with unprecedented volumes of the car being sold. The 360 Modena was launched in 1999, named after the town of Modena, the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari. A major innovation in this all new model came from Ferrari’s partnership with Alcoa which resulted in an entirely new all-aluminium space-frame chassis that was 40% stiffer than the F355 which had utilised steel. The design was 28% lighter despite a 10% increase in overall dimensions. Along with a lightweight frame the new Pininfarina body styling deviated from traditions of the previous decade’s sharp angles and flip-up headlights. The new V8 engine, common to all versions, was of 3.6 litre capacity with a flat plane crankshaft, titanium connecting rods and generates 400 bhp Despite what looks like on paper modest gains in reality the power to weight ratio was significantly improved on over the F355, this was due to the combination of both a lighter car and more power. The 0 to 100 km/h acceleration performance improved from 4.6 to 4.3 seconds. The first model to be rolled out was the 360 Modena, available as a manual, or an F1 electrohydraulic manual. Next up was an open car. The 360 was designed with a Spider variant in mind; since removing the roof of a coupe reduces the torsional rigidity, the 360 was built for strength in other areas. Ferrari designers strengthened the sills, stiffened the front of the floorpan and redesigned the windscreen frame. The rear bulkhead had to be stiffened to cut out engine noise from the cabin. The convertible’s necessary dynamic rigidity is provided by additional side reinforcements and a cross brace in front of the engine. Passenger safety is ensured by a strengthened windscreen frame and roll bars. The 360 Spider displays a curvilinear waistline. The fairings imply the start of a roof, and stable roll bars are embedded in these elevations. Due to use of light aluminium construction throughout, the Spider weighs in only 60 kg heavier than the coupé. As with the Modena version, its 3.6 litre V8 with 400 bhp is on display under a glass cover. The engine — confined in space by the convertible’s top’s storage area — acquires additional air supply through especially large side grills. The intake manifolds were moved toward the center of the engine between the air supply conduits in the Spider engine compartment, as opposed to lying apart as with the Modena. In terms of performance, the 0-60 mph time was slightly slower at 4.4 seconds due to the slight weight increase, and the top speed was reduced from 189 to 180 mph. Despite the car’s mid-mounted V8 engine, the electrically operated top is able to stow into the compartment when not in use. The convertible top was available in black, blue, grey and beige. The transformation from a closed top to an open-air convertible is a two-stage folding-action that has been dubbed “a stunning 20 second mechanical symphony”. The interior of the Spider is identical to that of the coupé. There were several examples of both the Modena Coupe and the Spider here.

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Final Ferrari model I spotted was this F355 Berlinetta. Launched in May 1994 as an evolution of the Ferrari 348, just about everything was changed, and improved for the F355. Design emphasis for the F355 was placed on significantly improved performance, but driveability across a wider range of speeds and in different environments such as low-speed city traffic was also addressed, as the Honda NS-X had proved that you could make a supercar that could be lived with every day. Apart from the displacement increase from 3.4 to 3.5 litres, the major difference between the V8 engine in the 348 and F355 was the introduction of a 5-valve cylinder head. This new head design allowed for better intake permeability and resulted in an engine that was considerably more powerful, producing 375 hp. The longitudinal 90° V8 engine was bored 2mm over the 348’s engine, resulting in the small increase in displacement. The F355 had a Motronic system controlling the electronic fuel injection and ignition systems, with a single spark plug per cylinder, resulting in an unusual 5 valves per cylinder configuration. This was reflected in the name, which did not follow the formula from the previous decades of engine capacity in litres followed by number of cylinders such as the 246 = 2.4 litres and 6 cylinders and the 308 of 3.0 litres and 8 cylinders. For the F355, Ferrari used engine capacity followed by the number of valves per cylinder (355 = 3.5 litres engine capacity and 5 valves per cylinder) to bring the performance advances introduced by a 5 valve per cylinder configuration into the forefront. 5. The frame was a steel monocoque with tubular steel rear sub-frame with front and rear suspensions using independent, unequal-length wishbones, coil springs over gas-filled telescopic shock absorbers with electronic control servos and anti-roll bars. The car allows selection between two damper settings, “Comfort” and “Sport”. Ferrari fitted all road-going F355 models with Pirelli tires, size 225/40ZR 18 in front and 265/40 ZR 18 in the rear. Although the F355 was equipped with power-assisted steering (intended to improve low-speed driveability relative to the outgoing 348), this could optionally be replaced with a manual steering rack setup by special order. Aerodynamic designs for the car included over 1,300 hours of wind tunnel analysis. The car incorporates a Nolder profile on the upper portion of the tail, and a fairing on the underbody that generates downforce when the car is at speed. These changes not only made the car faster but also much better to drive,m restoring Ferrari to the top of the tree among its rivals. At launch, two models were available: the coupe Berlinetta and the targa topped GTS, which was identical to the Berlinetta apart from the fact that the removable “targa-style” hard top roof could be stored behind the seats. The F355 would prove to be last in the series of mid-engined Ferraris with the Flying Buttress rear window, a lineage going back to the 1965 Dino 206 GT, unveiled at the Paris Auto Show. The Spider (convertible) version came later in the year. In 1997 the Formula One style paddle gear shift electrohydraulic manual transmission was introduced with the Ferrari 355 F1 adding £6,000 to the dealer asking price. This system promised faster gearchanges and allowed the driver to keep both hands on the steering wheel, It proved to be very popular and was the beginning of the end for the manual-transmission Ferrari. Ferrari produced 4,871 road-going Berlinetta models, of which 3,829 were 6-speed and 1,042 were F1 transmissions. The Spider proved to be the second-most popular F355 model, with a total production of 3,717 units, of which 2,664 were produced with the 6-speed transmission and another 1,053 produced with the F1 transmission. A total of 2,577 GTS models were produced, with 2,048 delivered with the 6-speed transmission and another 529 with the F1 transmission. This was the last GTS targa style model produced by Ferrari. This made a total production run of 11,273 units making the F355 the most-produced Ferrari at the time, though this sales record would be surpassed by the next generation 360 and later, the F430.

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The ST Owners Club had a number of sporting cars on show, ranging from a standard looking second generation Focus ST to a number of modified Fiesta and Mondeo ST models.

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The Hyundai i30 N has been on sale for a couple of years now, during which time it has sold quite well, following some very positive reviews that were published at launch, with everyone rating the car as every good, and then when the price was factored in, making it very easy to recommend. I’ve still not managed to drive one, sadly.

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The latest Huracan Evo, as launched at the 2019 Geneva Show, was here. The appearance barely changed with the Evo version, but under the skin there were plenty of changes, making it the car that many said it should have been from the outset. There was also an example of the Aventador.

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One of the many modified cars here was this Lumma CLR RS, a car which started out life as a Range Rover Evoque. Most of Lumma’s modifications are cosmetic with a range of styling addenda, but they also offer larger wheels, revised and lowered suspension and exhausts. There is a small but significant market for cars like this, and Lumma is one of a number of companies who cater for people who like this sort of thing.

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There were a couple of cars on the Marcos Owners Club stand. Rarer of the two was the newer, a TSO. These were manufactured between 2004 and 2007 and featured a Chevrolet V8 engine in either 350 bhp or 400 bhp versions. The car’s components were CAD designed in England, while chassis engineering has been done by Prodrive. Also in 2004, the 5.7-litre Chevrolet Corvette (LS1) V8 TSO GT was announced, but solely for the Australian market. It was joined in 2005 by the GT2 for the European market. In 2006 Marcos announced the TSO GTC, a modified version of the current TSO with a racing suspension, racing brakes and a rear diffuser. The car continues on with its Chevrolet-sourced 420 bhp V8, but there is also a 462 bhp Performance Pack available as well. With the extra power from the Performance Pack the TSO GTC accelerates to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and to 100 mph in 8.5 seconds. With the bigger brakes, 340 mm AP Racing brakes, the TSO GTC delivers a 0-100-0 time of 12.9 seconds. With the extra power, its 50 to 70 mph time is just 2.1 seconds. Top speed is over 185 mph. Marcos Engineering Ltd went into administration on October 9, 2007, with production of only 5 or 6 road cars plus some incomplete examples.

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What many think of as the “classic” Marcos shape was also represented by this 1971 3 litre car. Designed by brothers Dennis and Peter Adams, this well-known car caused something of a sensation when it was shown at the 1964 Racing Car Show. Known as the Marcos 1800, it had a glassfibre body, with a wooden chassis and was offered for sale fully built or in kit form. This was to be the design that would become familiar to sports car enthusiasts for more than 30 years, even though the original plywood chassis would later be replaced by a steel chassis and the futuristic scalloped dashboard also vanished after a few years. The plywood chassis was glued together from 386 separate pieces and was not only light and strong, but also required a minimum up front investment to construct. The extremely low Marcos required a nearly supine driving position and fixed seats, mounted lower than the floor of the car. In return, the entire pedal set could be moved fore and aft with a knob on the dashboard. If this proved not to be enough Marcos also offered optional booster pillows. This setup, with the fixed seats, remained until the end of Marcos production in late 2007. The original Marcos 1800 had a two-spoke steering wheel and a novel dash with a prominent centre console, a rather expensive design which did not survive onto the Ford-engined cars. The entire nose portion, of a long and tapered design, was hinged at the front and was held down by latches behind the front wheelwells. It used the cast-iron four-cylinder 96 hp Volvo 1778 cc B18 unit with overdrive gearbox from the Volvo P1800S enough for a 116 mph top speed and a 0-60 mph time of 8.2 seconds. Successful in competition, the rather expensive 1800 sold very slowly, and after the first 33 cars the de Dion rear suspension was replaced by a live Ford axle. The price was dropped from ₤1500 to ₤1340, but it was not enough to make the car profitable. Cars were stockpiling in 1966, and after 106 (or 99) had been built, the 1800 was replaced by the Ford-engined 1500. Normally fitted with a four-speed manual transmission a five-speed one was also available, allowing for a higher top speed. According to some sources, a few of the last cars built had the 2 litre Volvo B20 engine fitted, as did some of the racing cars. The 1800 is the only Marcos that is eligible for historic racing and as such is considerably more valuable today than later models. In 1966 the GT was changed to a pushrod inline-four Ford Kent engine of 1500 cc, in order to lower costs as the 1800 had been rather too expensive to market. The complex dash was also replaced with a flat polished wood unit, which was soon downgraded further yet to a mass-produced “wood-effect” one. Power and performance were both down on the 1800, but sales increased considerably. To hide the fact that a common Ford engine was used, Marsh replaced the rocker covers with Marcos ones and switched from Weber to Stromberg carburettors. An overbored Lawrencetune 1650 cc version was made available in 1967 (32 built) to ameliorate the power shortage, for the Marcos 1650 GT. The 1650 also had bigger disc brakes and a standard Webasto sunroof, but proved somewhat less than reliable It and the 1500 were both replaced by Ford’s new Crossflow four not much later, in late 1967. The 1600 proved to be the most popular model yet, with 192 cars built until early 1969. Weight was 740 kg (1,631 lb) and disc brakes up front were standard, although power assist was an optional extra. Production ended in October 1969 as the new steel chassis was not well suited for the crossflow engine. A new model, the 2 litre, appeared at the January 1969 London Show with the engine changed to the Ford Essex V4 engine from the Ford Corsair – while a V6 engine had already appeared at the top of the lineup in 1968. Also in 1969, the plywood chassis was gradually replaced by a square section steel one, which shortened production time and saved on cost. These steel framed cars required a lower sill panel and have reshaped rear bumpers, as well as some subtle interior differences. The wooden chassis had also begun to meet a certain amount of resistance from buyers. There seem to have been no V4-engined wooden cars made, although there is a few months overlap between the introduction dates. The V4 received most of the same standard and optional equipment (except the overdrive) and the same central bonnet bulge as did the V6 models; very few of the Marcos 2 litres still have their V4 engines, as a V6 swap is a rather quick job and makes for a much faster car than the original’s 85 hp. It was not exactly a success story, 78 2 litres were most likely built, although numbers as low as 40 have also been mentioned. New at the October 1968 London Show was the more powerful Marcos 3 litre. Fitted with the double-carb Ford Essex V6 engine and transmission from the Ford Zodiac, production beginning in January 1969. Max power was 140 bhp and aside from the badging, this car is most easily recognised by the large, central bonnet bulge necessary to clear the larger engine. The 3 litre had a four-speed manual with a Laycock-de-Normanville Overdrive for the third and fourth gears fitted. In December 1969 a twin-carburetted 3-litre Volvo B30 straight-six became available (initially only for the US), and in 1971 eleven or twelve cars were fitted with the 150 bhp Triumph 2.5-litre straight-six. These were called the Marcos 2½ litre. As the bonnet was a close fit over the various larger engines, this resulted in a corresponding variation in the bonnet design as regards changes designed to clear engine air intakes, often the only external sign of the type of engine fitted. All inline-sixes required a rather angular bulge right of centre on the bonnet to clear the carburettors. Around this time, some V6 cars begun sporting single rectangular headlights (not on US-market cars), borrowed from the Vauxhall Viva HB. Later in 1969 the six-cylinder cars, as with their four-cylinder counterparts, received the new steel chassis. Either 100 or 119 of the wood-chassied V6 cars were built. The Ford V6 version achieved over 120 mph on test and the Volvo-engined model was not far behind it, but the heavy cast-iron engines increased nose-heaviness in comparison to the four-cylinder variants. With US sales going strong, Marcos production was up to three per week and they had to invest in a bigger space in 1969. Cars for the North Americas market had Volvo’s inline-six cylinder, 3 litre engines with a standard Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic transmissions. They sat on tubular steel space frames, have a higher ride height, and no headlight covers – all of this was in order to get US road certification. Air conditioning was also listed as an option by New York-based importers Marcos International Inc. Delays and problems with the federalised cars were beginning to mount. In 1970, 27 exported cars were impounded by US Customs for supposedly not meeting federal law, causing Marcos to withdraw entirely from the US market. Together with the development costs of the Mantis and the introduction of VAT on kit cars on the horizon, Marcos had to close its doors for what turned out to be the first time. About sixty US market cars were built, some of which were brought back after the US market dried up in 1970 and converted to RHD for sale in the home market. Production of the Volvo 3 litre continued for the rest of the world, with these cars fitted with a four-speed manual transmission. Either 80 or 172 of the Volvo I6-engined Marcos were built until early 1972, with the final one destined to become the last Marcos built for the next ten years. After Marcos had run out of money the company was sold to Hebron & Medlock Bath Engineering in mid-1971. They themselves had to call in the receivers only six months later. The Rob Walker Garage Group bought the factory only to sell off everything, including some finished cars such as all six Mark 2 1600s built. Jem Marsh bought up spares and other parts at the liquidation sale and proceeded to run a company servicing existing Marcos, until he resumed production of Marcos kits in 1981. The original GT continued to be built until 1989 or 1990, being developed into its altered Mantula form. This was further developed into more powerful and aggressively-styled designs, culminating in the 1994 LM600 (which competed in the 1995 Le Mans 24-hour race).

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These modern MINIs had all been, erm, personalised.

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There was an Owners Club stand for the much-loved GT-R. It was busy at all times I went near to it, making photos of the cars on show – most of which had been heavily modified, as is often the case with all generations of the GT-R – difficult or impossible to photograph. This R33 is the only one I captured.

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Sitting on a stand by itself was this example of the latest 718 Cayman GT4, the facelifted car that was launched during 2019. It is a shame that most of the visual changes add fussiness to the car, but I am sure it is still an absolute belter to drive.

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By far the best of the very small number of Owners Club stands was this one, featuring an interesting assembly of RenaultSport cars.

From the first generation Clio family was this Clio Williams. Renault launched the Clio Williams in 1993 as a limited edition of 3,800 cars (1,300 more than they needed for homologation purposes) with each car bearing a numbered plaque on the dash. These sold out so quickly that Renault ended up building 1,600 more. After the first series, due to the demand, Renault built the Williams 2 and 3, with more than 12,000 eventually being built. However, many new road cars were directly converted to race cars and when damaged replaced with another converted road car, which means that the actual number of road cars is significantly lower than the figures suggest. The car was named after the then Renault-powered Formula One team WilliamsF1, though Williams had nothing to do with the design or engineering of this Clio. The modifications to the Clio 16S on which it was based were the work of Renault Sport, Renault’s motorsport division. Nevertheless, this car had a Formula One link by being the sport’s Safety Car in 1996. The naturally aspirated 1,998 cc DOHC 4 valves per cylinder fed by Multipoint fuel injection Inline-four engine, was rated at 147 PS (145 bhp) at 6,100 rpm and 175 Nm (129 lb/ft) at 4,500 rpm of torque. It has a top speed of 215 km/h (134 mph) equipped with performance-tuned ride and handling. Renault later released the Williams 2 and Williams 3 special editions, much to the chagrin of those owners who had been assured of the exclusivity of the “original” Williams. One common mistake people can make is thinking that the 2.0 16V (F7R) used in the Williams is simply a bored out 1.8 16V (F7P), whereas, in reality the large engine had different size valves, cams, stroked crank and engine oil cooler. Other differences between the Williams and the Clio 16S it is based on include a wider front track with wishbones similar, but not the same as the Renault 19, wider Speedline alloys, uprated (JC5) gearbox, bespoke four-to-one manifold, firmer suspension, and some cosmetic differences on the exterior and interior. The differences between the three versions of the Williams were largely a reflection of phase changes across the Clio range, e.g. the gradual addition of enhanced safety features and cosmetic variations. Other than this, the Williams 1 and 2 had no sunroof and were painted in 449 Sports Blue. The final Williams 3 was painted in a slightly brighter shade of blue (432 Monaco Blue) and finally gained a sunroof which had long been standard on virtually all previous Clios. The original Williams was the lightest of the three, lacking the electrics necessary for the sunroof or the mirrors, and was the only one to support a metal plaque stating the build number. Respected motoring journalists consistently rate the Williams as one of the very best hot hatches ever made,[citation needed] regardless of era. Its many accolades included 3rd place in EVO magazine’s “Greatest front-wheel-drive car ever” feature in 2006 behind the newer Clio 182 Trophy and Honda Integra Type-R and 6th place in EVO’s Car Of The Decade feature in 2004. The Renault Clio Williams was and still is a very popular rally car. The basic racing version (Gr.N) had racing suspension, different engine management, and a more free flowing exhaust. Power output was around 165 PS. Roll cage was made by Matter France. Bucket seats were made by Sabelt. The next step up was the Gr.A car, which was fitted with 16″ Speedline 2012 rims (with optional extractors), further improvements on suspension and more tuned engine producing between 205–220 PS. Front brakes were also updated with 323 mm discs and four-pot Alcon brake calipers. The final evolution was the Renault Clio Williams Maxi kit-car with wider arches and 17″ Speedline 2012 rims and improved Proflex suspension. Sodemo engine was further tuned to 250–265 PS.

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A rather different sort of Renault is this Renault Clio V6 Renault Sport, to give the car its full and rather cumbersome name. This was a rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout hot hatch based on the Renault Clio launched in 2001, very much in the same style as the earlier mid-engined R5 Turbo models of the 1980s. Designed by Renault, the Phase 1 models were built by Tom Walkinshaw Racing and Phase 2 were designed and helped by Porsche and built by Renault Sport in Dieppe. The Clio V6 was based on the Clio Mk II, though it shared very few parts with that car. The 3.0 litre 60° V6 engine, sourced from the PSA group. It was the ES9J unit as used in the Peugeot 406, 407 and 607, and the Citroen C 5 and not the one that Renault used in the 3 litre Laguna engine, which had an PRV (Peugeot, Renault & Volvo) an earlier development 90° V based on a V8 that never was. For this car it was upgraded to around 227 bhp and placed in the middle of the vehicle where the more ordinary Clios have rear seats – making this car a two-seater hot hatch. In order to accommodate the radical change from front-engine, front-wheel drive hatchback to mid-engine, rear-wheel drive two-seater quasi-coupé, the car had to be extensively reworked structurally, leading to the Phase 1 version being some 300 kg (660 lb) heavier than the sportiest “regular” Clio, the 172 Cup. Due to this, even though the V6 model had significantly more power, it was not remarkably faster in a straight line accelerating to legal road speeds than the 172 Cup – accelerating to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds compared to the Cup’s 6.7 seconds – though its maximum speed was significantly higher at 146 mph compared to 138 mph. Opinions varied on the handling, but many found it very twitchy and the car soon a gained a reputation for breaking away with little warning. That was largely addressed by the Phase 2 cars which were launched in 2003. The front end took on the same sort of new design as had been applied to the regular models. The engine was upgraded, to make the Phase 2 Clio V6 the most powerful serial produced hot hatch in the world with 255 bhp exceeding the 247 bhp of the Alfa Romeo 147 GTA and the 222 bhp SEAT León Cupra R. Based on the Phase 1 engine, its extra performance was helped with assistance from Porsche and although the Phase 2 gained even more weight, the result was a a reduced 0–60 mph run at 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 153 mph. Though based on a utilitarian hatchback, the Clio V6 was not a practical family car. With an average fuel consumption of 24 mpg, this resulted in an empty fuel tank in just over 300 miles. The loss of the back seats and most of the boot space, due to the engine placement, resulted in a severe restriction in luggage space – there was only a small space in the front where the engine used to be, suitable for a holdall or week-end groceries, a small netted area behind the seats plus a small stash area under the tailgate. The enhanced steering made tight manoeuvring a little challenging, the turning circle being a rather awkward 13 m (42.7 ft) – around three car lengths – turning what might normally be a three-point turn into a five-point turn. Standard equipment in the car was good, this was not a stripped-out special, and it included rain sensing windscreen wipers, automatic headlights, air conditioning, and six speakers and CD changer. The Phase 2 Clio V6 retailed for £27,125 in the United Kingdom, until it was withdrawn from sale in 2005 coinciding with a facelift for the Clio range. The Phase 2 was received far more enthusiastically by the ever-critical UK press. These days there is no doubting the fact that this is a a modern classic.

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The third generation hot Clios generally got the thumbs up, as well. The first of these were called the Clio RS 197. Launched in 2005, the new Clio III drew technology from Formula One, including a rear diffuser and brake cooling side vents, they upgraded the engine, now to 194 bhp (197 PS). The car is heavier than its predecessor, but the acceleration figures are slightly improved due to a combination of more power, torque and the new six-speed gearbox with shorter gearing according to the official figures published on the Renaultsport website. The facelifted Clio III appeared in 2009 and was further enhanced with the inclusion of a front splitter and the engine now produces 197 bhp (147 kW; 200 PS). This has been made possible by tweaks to the exhaust system, valve timing and ECU also stated to give a slight increase in fuel economy. Acceleration figures are expected to be slightly improved due to shorter gearing in 1, 2 and 3 and enhancements have been made to the cup chassis including making the steering rack more responsive. Cosmetic enhancements include the addition of larger tailpipes protruding slightly from the rear diffuser, i.d. coloured front bumper insert, wing mirror covers and rear diffuser and i.d. interior trim. Renault also introduced a new i.d. paint option of Alien Green. The 200 was highly regarded by EVO magazine, remaining their hot hatch of choice since 2009. “After the mild disappointment of the Clio 197, Renaultsport has got the Clio back to its very best, producing a cracking small hot hatch more than capable of chasing down supercars on eCOTY 2009 for a top five finish”.It was hailed by CAR Magazine as “the 911 GT3 of hot hatches”and has also remained CAR Magazine’s “Best in Class” since its release in 2009. There were a number of Limited Edition cars based on the RS200. Production ended when the fourth generation Clio was launched in 2015.

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Completing the collection of Clio models was the latest fifth generation car. We are told that there will not be a full-blown RS version of this one, as the numbers do not stack for sales versus the cost of developing one. Many enthusiasts will be hoping this is not the case. Meanwhile, the standard car looks like the interior is significantly better than that of it predecessor. Let’s the driving experience is, too, as the old car was particularly disappointing in my experience.

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Three generations of the larger Megane were here, too. It was only really with the second Megane, the one with the very distinctive rear-end treatment that this became a car to grab the attentions of the enthusiast. A series of ever more potent and focused models followed on from the initial RS225 car, and the most extreme of the lot was this, the Megane RS R26R. This was based on the Mégane Renault Sport 230 F1 Team R26, but 123 kg (271 lb) lighter. Weight reduction is achieved via the removal of the rear seats and seat belts, passenger airbag and curtain airbags (the driver’s airbag remains), climate control (air conditioning remains as standard), rear wash/wipe and heated rear window, front fog lamps, headlamp washers, radio/CD player and most of the soundproofing. Other features include a carbon fibre bonnet, polycarbonate tailgate and rear side windows, Sabelt seats with carbon fibre shell and aluminium base, 6-point harnesses, a rear spoiler, optional roll cage and an optional titanium exhaust. New parts include new front springs (14 mm/100 kg), new rear springs (16.2 mm/100 kg), recalibrated shock absorber settings, grooved brake discs, new alloy wheels are fitted with a different offset increasing the track by 4 mm (0.2 in), optional Toyo Proxes R888 225/40R18 tyres (Michelin Pilot Sport 2 235/40R18 standard) and stiffer lower arm bushes. 450 vehicles were made with 230 destined for the UK market. The car went on sale in October 2008 for £22,990, following its unveiling at The 2008 British International Motor Show. It proved a bit too extreme and sales were sufficiently sluggish that quite a few of the cars were returned to France and converted to left hand drive. Now, of course, it is valued as a modern classic.

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It did not take Renault long to add an RS version to their 3rd generation Megane range, debuting the car at the 2009 Geneva Show. This new Megane Renault Sport 250 included a 2.0 litre twin-scroll turbo 4-cylinder F4Rt engine rated at 250 PS (247 bhp) at 5500 rpm and 340 Nm (251 lb/ft) at 3000 rpm with a 6-speed manual gearbox, Brembo front brakes, front splitter, extended sills and wheel arches, rear diffuser with central exhaust pipe, and 18-inch alloy wheels wearing 225/40R18 tyres. Aluminum pedals, a Renault Sport steering wheel with thumb grips, analog rev counter and sport seats with extra lateral support dress up the cabin. Other features include front LED daytime running lights and bi-xenon headlights. The 250 Cup variant contains a number of sharpened performance features including a stiffer chassis, track focused suspension, a limited slip differential and a slightly lighter gross weight. The Cup is differentiated visually with painted red brake calipers, instead of the silver calipers for the normal Sport. 18×8.25″ “Ax-l” alloy wheels are fitted with wider 235/40R18 tyres, while 19×8.25″ “Steev” wheels were available as an option with 235/35R19 tyres. In June 2011 Renault Sport revealed a limited edition 265 PS (261 bhp) version of the Mégane III called the Mégane R.S. Trophy. The Megane R.S. Trophy uses the same 2.0 four-cylinder as the standard 250 PS R.S. but thanks to modifications such as a new air intake and higher turbo pressure it gains an extra 15 hp, increasing the power output to 265 PS. It reaches 0–62 mph in six seconds flat and goes on to a top speed of 254 km/h (157 mph). It is recognizable thanks to model-specific decoration such as Trophy stickers on the doors, a new spoiler and specific 19″ rims with R.S. centre caps. It comes in a model-specific metallic yellow (Jaune Sirius) but is also available in more low-key colours such as white (Blanc Glacier), black (Noir Étoilé) and gray (Gris Cassiopée). Production was limited to 500 examples. In 2012, the Megane R.S. adopted the updated engine from the Trophy version with 265 PS (261 HP) and offers the same “Cup” and “Sport” versions like the previous 250 PS (247 HP) model. Changes include Piano Black interior highlights and wider LED daytime running lights with 6 LEDs per side rather than the 3 LEDs found in the RS250. The 18″ wheels were changed to a new design called “Tibor”, while the 19″ wheels carried over from the 250. Extreme Blue and Sport Yellow were dropped as colour options. In Australia, the Cup and Cup Trophée models were replaced with the Cup, Cup+ and Trophy+ with slightly more flexible specification levels.

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There were also a couple of the latest, fourth generation cars here. The “standard” RS280 model went on sale around eighteen months ago, and received a muted response. Renault launched a much more hard-core version in the summer of 2019. the Trophy R. Priced between £50,000 and a little over £70,000 depending on options, there is no doubting the fact that even in standard form this is a very expensive car. There is no consensus on whether it is really worth the premium over cars you would consider its rivals, such as the Honda Civic Type R. Only a small number are ear-marked for the UK.

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There were plenty of heavily modified and in many cases wrapped cars on the remaining stands in this Hall. Particularly striking were these: a Bugatti Veyron and a 6 wheel Mercedes G Wagen, as well as a Lamborghini Urus.

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So the big question is: did I enjoy the Show and was it good enough to persuade me that I should not hesitate when details of the 2021 event (dates for which are already announced as 14 – 17 January 2021) become available? Had I paid the full advance price of £37 for a ticket, I would definitely say that this was very poor value for money, and that I had been right to give the show a miss for the past several years. At £20, the answer is not quite so easy. For sure there were some interesting displays here, with the Autosport 70th anniversary feature, the historic Rally Cars and the Formula 1 collection all showcasing a nice variety of cars, but on the whole I still felt disappointed. The Performance Car part of the Show is definitely one for the enthusiast of heavily modified cars (which is not me) and there is not that much of it anyway, and the Autosport bit just seemed to be a lot of, well, I am really not sure what. The Halls were full, but there just did not seem to be anything like enough to see, in complete contrast to the NEC Classic, which occupies mostly the same floor space yet which challenges anyone to take it all in even over two days. So, whilst I would not rule the 2021 edition of the Show out, even with a discounted ticket, if there is some other event going on at the same time, I don’t think I will fret too much if I miss this one.

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