In a slightly grandiose billing, the Race Retro event calls itself Europe’s Number 1 Historic Motor Show. That’s a bold claim indeed. I’ve been to this event almost every year since its inception over 10 years ago, and have always enjoyed the eclectic mix of different forms of motorsport that can be seen on display and in some cases in action. It takes place at the Stoneleigh Park site that used to be known for the site of the now defunct Royal Agricultural Show, and the main part of the event spreads across the four interconnected exhibition halls that these days are used for all manner of conferences and exhibitions. There is a significant outdoor element to the event, too, with a Live Rally Stage being set up for a mouth-watering array of historic rally cars to show themselves in action. Silverstone Auctions hold a sale spread over the weekend, and this is based in a different building, entry to which you only gain if you buy a costly catalogue, as is so often the case with auction sales these days. Although I have attended most of these events since 2007, in recent times, there has been a diary clash with the February half term dates for this event clashing with the London Classic Car Show at Excel, a problem further compounded when that event added an extra facet to their show branded Historic Motorsport International. Putting the two on at the same time was not a smart move, and probably both suffered in content and also attendances than they deserved. It did mean that I missed the 2017 Race Retro event, so was interested to see what 2018 would bring.
IN THE EXHIBITION HALLS
There are a large number of display stands spread across the 4 main halls and these range from traders with product to sell, dealers, motor sport clubs and venues as well as a number of specially curated Displays which showcase specific cars, drivers and technologies. There’s a really wide mix of cars here, of all ages.
Displayed in the entry foyer was this 1949 Connaught L2. Connaught Engineering, often referred to simply as Connaught, was a Formula One and sports car constructor from the United Kingdom. Their cars participated in 18 Grand Prix, entering a total of 52 races with their A, B, and C Type Formula 2 and Formula 1 Grand Prix Cars. They achieved 1 podium and scored 17 championship points. The name Connaught is a pun on Continental Autos, the garage in Send, Surrey, which specialised in sales and repair of European sports cars such as Bugatti, and where the cars were built. In 1950, the first single-seaters, the Formula 2 “A” types, used an engine that was developed by Connaught from the Lea-Francis engine used in their “L” type sports cars. The engine was extensively re-engineered and therefore is truly a Connaught engine. The cars were of conventional construction for the time with drive through a preselector gearbox to a de Dion rear axle. In 1952 and 1953, the races counting towards the World Championship were to Formula 2 rules so drivers of these cars could take part in those events. Connaught designed a new car for the 2½ litre Formula 1 of 1954 which was to have a rear-mounted Coventry Climax V8 engine (the “Godiva”), but when the engine was not proceeded with, a conventionally arranged “B” type was designed using an Alta engine developed into 2½ litre form. The first cars were built with all-enveloping aerodynamic bodywork but later rebodied conventionally (as the photos below show). In 1955, driving a Connaught in this form, Tony Brooks scored the first win in a Grand Prix by a British driver in a British car since 1923, in a non World Championship race at Syracuse. Thereafter the “B” type has been known as the “Syracuse” Connaught and the name was used for the car presented in the 2004 revival In 1962, Jack Fairman attempted to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in a Connaught race car, but failed to find the necessary speed to make the field. Prior to the single-seat racing cars they built a small number of road going sports cars developed on the Lea-Francis Sports Chassis, which achieved considerable competition success. These were of types L2 and L3, and three examples of the stark Cycle Winged L3/SR Sports Racer. Two sports cars, based on the A Type Formula 2 cars, the ALSRs were also built for competition work.
1968 LONDON to SYDNEY – 50 YEARS ON
The 50th anniversary of the epic 1968 London to Sydney Marathon was marked with a special four car display, three of which were actual veterans of the event.
The one that is a recreation is the car that won the event, the Hillman Hunter, as driven by Andrew Cowan.
There were two of the Austin 1800s “LandCrabs” here. The Hillcrest Motors car hit a wooden bridge post in Turkey putting a hole in the gearbox that wasn’t noticed until the oil loss caused terminal crankshaft damage bringing the 1800 to a halt in India. The ex-Royal Navy car of Captain Hands Hamilton. Captain Tim Lees-Spalding and Commander Philip Stearns, another of the 6 examples of the Austin entered, was the only one to finish the event undamaged. It was in 31st place. The Navy had actually helped BMC develop some aspects of the competition cars, but when it came to supplying one for this event, there was not a spare one for the Royal Navy team to drive, at which point the British School of Motoring stepped in with sponsorship and a car,which is why this one was not finished in the red and white of the other cars. It’s also why it has survived. At the end of the rally, the Australian Government had waived import duty on the competing cars, so it was much cheaper for the teams to leave the cars there and fly home. BSM wanted this one for promotional work so it was shipped back and used for police high-speed pursuit training. Its current owner found it in the 80s as a cheap rally car, but when he found the history, as an ex Navy man himself, he knew he had to preserve it. The other car here was owned by his flat mate from university days.
Fourth car was the ex-Bill Bengry, Arthur Brick and John Preddy-driven Motorway Remoulds-entered Ford Cortina 1600GT whose restoration had completed just in time for the Show. Everything seen here is as it would have been back in 1968. The bodyshell is original and although the sign-writing is new, it was done by Les Price the same man who did it back in 1968. Although it had no roll cage, it did have extra steel rods brazed into the roof pillars and there were extra bits of welding to stiffen the shell. The steel wheels could be hammered back into shape and were deliberately narrow to avoid putting pressure on the axles. The car finished 23rd, though they had been closing in on the top 10 in Australia when they ran into a dust bowl, broke the back axles and had to buy a replacement from the local Ford dealer.
30 YEARS of JAGUAR at LE MANS
This was a 2 car display with 2 legendary le Mans winning Jaguar models here, their victories 30 years apart.
Older of the pair was a D Type “long nose”. as driven by Mike Hawthorn in 1956. Although it shared many of its mechanical components with the C-Type, including the basic straight-6 XK engine design, initially of 3.4 litres and later enlarged to 3.8 litres in the late fifties, the structure of the car was radically different. The innovative monocoque construction brought aviation industry technology to competition car design, together with an aeronautical understanding of aerodynamic efficiency. The structural design, revolutionary at the time, applied aeronautical technology. The “tub”, or cockpit section, was of monocoque construction, mostly comprising sheets of aluminium alloy. Its elliptical shape and comparatively small cross-section provided torsional rigidity and reduced drag. To the front bulkhead was attached an aluminium tubing subframe for the engine, steering assembly, and front suspension. Rear suspension and final drive were mounted to the rear bulkhead. Fuel was carried in the tail and the designers followed aviation practice by specifying a deformable Marston Aviation Division bag in place of a conventional tank. The aerodynamic bodywork was largely the work of Malcolm Sayer, who had joined Jaguar following a stint with the Bristol Aeroplane Company during the Second World War and later worked on the C-Type. For the D-Type, he insisted on a minimal frontal area. To reduce the XK engine’s height, Jaguar’s chief engineer, William Haynes, and former Bentley engineer, Walter Hassan, developed dry sump lubrication, and it has been said that the car’s frontal area was also a consideration in canting the engine at 8½° from the vertical (which necessitated the offset bonnet bulge). Philip Porter, in his book Jaguar Sports Racing Cars, says that “[a] more likely reason was to provide extra space for the ram pipes feeding the three twin-choke Weber carburettors.” Reducing underbody drag contributed to the car’s high top speed; for the long Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans, a fin was mounted behind the driver for aerodynamic stability. For the 1955 season, factory cars were fitted with a longer nose, which lengthened the car by 7½ inches and further increased maximum speed; and the headrest fairing and aerodynamic fin were combined as a single unit that smoothed the aerodynamics and saved weight. Mechanically, many features were shared with the outgoing C-Type. Its front and rear suspension and innovative all-round disc brakes were retained, as was the XK engine. Apart from the new lubrication system, the engine was further revised as development progressed during the D-Type’s competition life. Notably in 1955 larger valves were introduced, together with asymmetrical cylinder heads to accommodate them. Jaguar D-Types fielded by a team under the leadership of Jaguar’s racing manager Lofty England were expected to perform well in their debut at the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans race. In the event, the cars were hampered by fuel starvation caused by problems with the fuel filters, necessitating pit stops for their removal, after which the entry driven by Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt speeded up to finish less than a lap behind the winning Ferrari. The D-Type’s aerodynamic superiority is evident from its maximum speed of 172.8 mph on the Mulsanne Straight compared with the 4.9 litre Ferrari’s 160.1 mph. For 1955 the cars were modified with long-nose bodywork and engines uprated with larger valves. At Le Mans, they proved competitive with the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLRs, which had been expected to win. Mike Hawthorn’s D-Type had a narrow lead over Juan Manuel Fangio’s Mercedes when another Mercedes team car was involved in the most catastrophic accident in motorsport history.Driver Pierre Levegh and more than 80 spectators lost their lives, while many more were injured. Mercedes withdrew from the race. Jaguar opted to continue, and the D-Type driven by Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb went on to win. Mercedes withdrew from motorsport at the end of the 1955 season, and Jaguar again entered Le Mans in 1956. Although only one of the three factory-entered cars finished, in sixth place, the race was won by a D-Type entered by the small Edinburgh-based team Ecurie Ecosse and driven by Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson, beating works teams from Aston Martin and Scuderia Ferrari. In America, the Cunningham team raced several D-Types. In 1955, for example, a 1954 works car on loan to Cunningham won the Sebring 12 Hours in the hands of Mike Hawthorn and Phil Walters, and in May 1956 the team’s entries for Maryland’s Cumberland national championship sports car race included four D-Types in Cunningham’s white and blue racing colours. Driven by John Fitch, John Gordon Benett, Sherwood Johnston and team owner Briggs Cunningham, they finished fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth, respectively. Although Jaguar withdrew from motorsport at the end of the 1956 season, 1957 proved to be the D-Type’s most successful year. Jaguar D-Types took five of the top six places at Le Mans; Ecurie Ecosse, with considerable support from Jaguar, and a 3.8-litre engine, again took the win, and also second place. This was the best result in the D-Type’s racing history. Rules for the 1958 Le Mans race limited engine sizes to three litres for sports racing cars, which ended the domination of the D-Type with its 3.8-litre XK engine. Jaguar developed a three-litre version to power D-Types in the 1958, 1959 and 1960 Le Mans races but it was unreliable, and by 1960 it no longer produced sufficient power to be competitive. The D-Type’s success waned as support from Jaguar decreased and the cars from rival manufacturers became more competitive. Although it continued to be one of the cars to beat in club racing and national events, the D-Type never again achieved a podium finish at Le Mans. By the early 1960s it was obsolete. Total D-Type production is thought to have included 18 factory team cars, 53 customer cars, and 16 XKSS versions. A 1955 car was sold at Sothebys in 2016 for £19,8 million, making it the most valuable British car ever.
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.
40 YEARS of GROUND EFFECT
This was a special display of 8 cars which helped to mark 40 years since the first “ground effect” cars were seen in motor racing. The use of aerodynamic influence was not new and could be traced back to the early days of motor racing, of course, as Gustave Eiffel (he of Parisian tower fame) had a wind tunnel which Peugeot used in the 1910s, but it was Colin Chapman at Team Lotus who first capitalised fully on the notion of the racing car as an inverted wing, pressed to the track by the air that passed over its bodywork contours. Chapman’s landmark design was the Lotus 79, first seen early during the 1978 season. Mario Andretti gave the car a winning debut in the Belgian Grand Prix and scored four further victories in the year on his way to winning the season’s title.
Building on Chapman’s initiative, Williams took the concept a stage further with the Patrick Head-inspired FW07 which gave the team its maiden F1 success in the 1979 British Grand Prix and carried Australian driver Alan Jones to the championship in 1980.
The Group C Sports Prototype Porsche 956, chassis number 103 was part of the display. The 956 features a chassis made of an aluminium monocoque, a first for the company helping to allow the car to meet the 800kg weight maximum for Group C and the 956 was also the first Porsche to exploit ground effect aerodynamics. It produced over three times as much downforce as the older 917 model.
Also here were the 1983 Ralt RTS3 Forumla 3 car, raced in period by Martin Brundle against the late Ayrton Senna and the Chevron B48 F2 car, a rare car as it is one of only 10 produced and two remaining. It was raced in the 1979 F2 championship, finishing second twice.
The Toleman TG280 of 1980, a star of Formula 2, the Toleman TG280 actually played a significant role in F1 history too. How? Well the TG280 was so dominant in the 1980 European F2 season that the team decided to step up to F1. Minor success followed, with Derek Warwick scoring notable points in 1983 before a certain Ayrton Senna joined in ’84. Senna took a Toleman to second place at Monaco that year and although he left after only one season, the team ultimately became Benetton, then Renault, then Lotus and then Renault again.
An 1982 Arrows A4 and an Ensign N180 from 1980 completed the line-up. The Cosworth DFV-powered Ensign N180 was heavily influenced by the all-conquering Williams FW07, but didn’t enjoy the same success in Formula 1. In the 1980 season its best performance was a ninth place in South Africa, although an upgraded version of the car did finish fourth in Brazil and sixth in Monaco the following year.
RALLY LEGEND MIKI BIASION
A 5 car display paid tribute to the rallying legend that is Miki Biasion, with 2 Lancia and 2 Ford cars from his past on show.
Oldest of these cars was a fabulous Lancia 037. 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.
Follow on to that car was the legendary Delta Integrale which would go on to dominate world rallying for several years, in Group A spec after the Group B cars had been outlawed. The sudden change in the rules left many manufacturers without a suitable car, with the partial exception of Lancia. The Delta HF 4WD (Abarth SE043), with its two-litre turbocharged engine and four-wheel-drive, was clearly a more suitable Group A rally car than its rivals, the underpowered Mazda 323 and Ford Sierra XR4x4, the powerful but rear-drive Ford Sierra RS Cosworth and BMW M3, and the front-drive Opel Kadett GSi and Renault 11 Turbo. However, it was not without flaws. The wheel arches were restrictive, the wheels and therefore the brakes were too small, and the suspension travel was limited. Access to key components for servicing was also restricted by the car’s compact size and transverse-engined layout, the one defect that subsequent evolutions could not fully rectify. Even so, little doubt was expressed before the 1987 season began that Lancia, and one of its drivers, would win the World Championship. In 1987 the Lancias were driven by Massimo Biasion, Juha Kankkunen and Markku Alén. Biasion opened with victory in the Monte Carlo Rally and later in the season won the Argentina and Sanremo rallies. However, Juha Kankkunen’s four podium places, coupled with victories on the Olympus Rally and the final round, the RAC Rally, saw him clinch the title ahead of Markku Alén, whose title hopes ended on the RAC with a series of accidents, including overturning the car in front of the television cameras on one of the opening day’s short spectator stages. Lancia won seven of the eleven rounds which counted towards the manufacturers’ championship and with them the world title. However Kankkunen, reputedly disillusioned with team politics and the apparent favoritism shown towards Biasion, left the team at the end of the season and rejoined Toyota. The Delta HF 4WD also won the first two events of the 1988 season, Bruno Saby taking the win at Monte Carlo and Markku Alén in Sweden, before the HF integrale “8v” (Abarth SE044) appeared at the third round in Portugal. Team boss Cesare Fiorio remarked in an interview before that event that the Integrale’s larger wheels, bigger brakes, improved suspension and greater power would make it more competitive on asphalt, although on gravel it represented a relatively small improvement over the 4WD. Markku Alen went out with transmission failure early in the event, giving rise to some concern about the strength of the transmission and causing the team to undertake a great deal of precautionary maintenance to Biasion’s car. However, the Italian driver suffered no serious mechanical problems and continued to take victory. A new and stronger six-speed gearbox was already under development and was introduced for the next event. Lancia then dominated the rest of the season. Only once were they beaten in a straight fight, on the dry asphalt of Corsica by Didier Auriol in a Ford Sierra RS Cosworth. By the season’s end Lancia had won ten of the eleven rounds which counted for the manufacturers’ series, and Biasion was drivers’ World Champion, having clinched the title on the penultimate round. Markku Alén rounded off the season with victory on the RAC Rally, a personal first for the Finn. During 1989 serious challengers to Lancia’s dominance began to emerge, including the Toyota Celica GT-Four ST165, which in the hands of Juha Kankkunen had run Markku Alén close on the previous year’s 1000 Lakes Rally before retiring with mechanical failure. The Toyota remained unreliable for the first part of the 1989 season, however, and Lancia, with Biasion, Alen and Auriol (whom the team had recruited after his performances in the Ford the previous year) the lead drivers, were able to pull out a substantial championship lead. By the time guest driver Mikael Ericsson took it to victory on the Rally Argentina, the 8v Integrale had won all of its previous twelve World Championship events. Later in the season, however, developmental difficulties with the Mitsubishi Galant were overcome and Ericsson, now driving for Mitsubishi, won the 1000 Lakes Rally, where no Lancias finished in the top three. Kankkunen then took the Toyota to a maiden victory in Australia, with his teammate Kenneth Eriksson second and Alén third. The Integrale was beginning to slip behind its key competitors, but by then Lancia was already working on the next evolution. The Integrale 16v made its début on the 1989 Rallye Sanremo where, for the first and only time, it ran in Italian racing red. Didier Auriol went out early in the event after a high-speed crash, but Biasion went on to win. Having won both the manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles for the third year running, Lancia declined to contest the final round of the season, the RAC Rally. Lancia continued to use the HF integrale 16v throughout the 1990 season. Juha Kankkunen rejoined the team, joining Biasion and Auriol. Lancia won the manufacturers’ title, with six wins, but these were shared between the team’s three drivers, and in the drivers’ title race Sainz, driving a Toyota Celica GT-Four ST165, took the lead. The issue was eventually settled on the RAC Rally, when Kankkunen crashed whilst leading, leaving the Spanish driver to take the title, the first time since 1986 that Lancia had not won both drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships. The 1991 season saw another close battle between Toyota and Lancia. There was some pre-season speculation that the Delta was now outclassed by the Celica, an impression reinforced by Carlos Sainz’s win on the opening round, the Monte Carlo. However, in the hands of Juha Kankkunen the Delta took wins in Kenya, Argentina, Finland and Australia, and Didier Auriol also won at Sanremo, giving Lancia the manufacturers’ title for a record fifth time. Meanwhile, Sainz crashed out in Australia and retired with electrical failure in Catalunya, putting Kankkunen in contention for the driver’s title. By this time Toyota and Lancia were reputedly working with blank cheques and win-at-all-costs budgets from their parent companies, and rumours abounded of creative interpretations of the rules, especially on the part of Lancia. However, nothing was ever proven, although it was common knowledge that all of the major Group A cars had far more power than the notional 300 bhp limit, probably closer to 400 in most cases. The Lancia was among the most powerful, which, along with its reliability, accounts partly for its continued success in the face of handicaps such as poor weight distribution (the Delta was always nose-heavy) and a transmission system less sophisticated than that of the Toyota. The 1991 RAC Rally saw a close battle in the British forests between Kankkunen and Sainz, which was settled late in the event when the head gasket blew on Sainz’s Toyota, giving Kankkunen his third driver’s championship. During the latter part of the 1991 season, Lancia developed the Delta HF integrale “Evoluzione” (Abarth SE050), sometimes nicknamed the “Deltona” or “Super Delta”, which would début on the 1992 Monte Carlo. This final evolution, with its stiffer body, wider wheel arches, bigger wheels and brakes, improved suspension and aerodynamics and more powerful engine, was 5-6% faster under most circumstances than the 16v car. However, it represented the most that could be extracted from a design that was fundamentally outdated and, with no successor planned, Lancia officially withdrew from rallying at the end of 1991. For the next two seasons the cars would be run by the semi-private Jolly Club team, albeit initially with continuing support from the factory. For 1992 Toyota had an all-new Celica, in contrast to Lancia’s updated Delta, leading to renewed speculation that Lancia would be outclassed. In fact the Celica initially proved problematic and Auriol dominated the early part of the season for Lancia, taking a record six wins and pulling out a large championship lead. Kankkunen also scored consistent podium finishes and a win in Portugal, whilst guest driver Andrea Aghini won the Rallye Sanremo. Lancia therefore took the manufacturers’ title for a sixth consecutive year. Meanwhile, Sainz initially struggled with the new car and slipped behind, even struggling at times to beat a resurgent Ford team with its rather unwieldy Sierra, but a late-season fight-back by the Spaniard, coupled with retirement in Sanremo and only tenth place in Catalunya for Auriol, saw Kankkunen, Auriol, and Sainz enter the RAC rally within three points of each other. The three-way title race was decided when Auriol’s engine failed and Kankkunen went off the road, leaving Sainz to take an unexpected second driver’s title. For 1993, Auriol and Kankkunen both left Lancia and joined the Toyota team, while Sainz moved to the Jolly Club, where he was supported by Aghini and Gustavo Trelles. Lancia’s sponsorship from Martini also ended, and the Jolly Club Deltas ran in the colours of Sainz’s sponsor, oil firm Repsol. With the end of the factory’s involvement technical developments were minor, despite assurances given to Sainz at the beginning of the season that development of the car would continue, and by mid-season it was clear that the Delta was now outclassed by newer competitors such as the latest Toyota and the Ford Escort RS Cosworth. Sainz took second on the Acropolis Rally, but that was the car’s best placing. He finished second again at Sanremo, but the team was subsequently disqualified and docked points for fuel irregularities, and Sainz had by then retired from the Catalunya Rally with electrical failure. The Jolly Club decided not to contest the final round of the series and withdrew, signalling the end of both the Delta’s career as a top-line rally car and Lancia’s involvement in the World Rally Championship. In total, the four evolutions of the Lancia Delta won 46 World Championship rallies, and Lancia’s run of six consecutive manufacturers’ titles remains a record. Outside the World Championship the Delta was used by several private teams, with varying degrees of backing from the works team. Jolly Club ran as a second-string team throughout the Group A era, before taking over from the official works team for 1992-3. Other teams using the car included Astra Motorsport and HF Grifone. Drivers using Deltas run by teams such as these won the European title in every year between 1987 and 1991, and also in 1993, the car’s last major success. Astra continued to run Deltas on European and some World Championship events in 1994, the best result being fourth place for Alessandro Fiorio on the Acropolis Rally. Deltas also took many national titles in continental Europe.
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).
After the cancellation of Group B, like most manufacturers, Ford focused their efforts on Group A, and the next car that they chose to use was a rally-modified version of the Sapphire Cosworth, which had originally been developed for the track for various Touring Car formulae. This WRC car was always more at home on the road than on loose surfaces, and took its only victory at the 1988 Tour de Corsica, with future world champion Didier Auriol at the helm. Others to drive it included Stig Blomqvist, Carlos Sainz and Jimmy 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.
DAVE RICHARDS and PRODRIVE TRIBUTE
Dave Richards is best known as the founder of the hugely successful MotorSport and technology company Prodrive, a name synonymous with victories at the highest level. That applies to Formula 1, rallying, endurance racing and Touring Cars, and there were examples of cars for four of these genres on this stand which celebrated the achievements of the company and the man. Dave’s early career is memorable for exploits as co-driver to rally greats such as the late Tony Pond and he would also partner Ari Vatanen with notable success, the pair winning British and Scandinavian rally championships before going to win the World Rally Championship in 1981 with the Ford Escort RS1800.
Aston Martin DB9 GT
The BAR 006 was a Formula 1 car that competed in the 2004 Formula One season, driven by Jenson Button and Takuma Sato, and the official test driver was Anthony Davidson. The BAR-Honda 006 was officially launched at Circuit de Catalunya, Spain. From the onset of the season, the car proved to be very competitive with Jenson Button scoring ten podiums and challenging for victory on many occasions, most notably in Italy. However, despite the car’s obvious potential for victory, neither driver scored one during the season. Despite being arguably the second fastest car on the grid, it was still a long way off the Ferrari that won all but three races of the year. Nevertheless, BAR managed second in the Constructors’ Championship after a close fight with Renault throughout the year and Button, who many tipped as driver of the year, scored third in the Drivers’ Championship behind the Ferrari duo of Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher who scored his seventh World Championship.
The 911 SC RS was born out of the need to provide Porsche Group C race sponsor Rothmans with a relatively instant rally car for them to enter in their distinctive blue and white livery in various markets – the four-wheel drive 959 project had been intended to fill this role, but was running behind schedule. Because having a larger engine would have meant being in a capacity class with a higher weight limit, the SC RS was based on the earlier 3-litre SC rather than the newer 3.2-litre Carrera. Whilst Rothmans picked up most of the tab with some support from Shell and Michelin, both development and running the new rally car were entrusted to David Richards’ then Silverstone-based Prodrive Team under the Rothmans Porsche rally Team banner for the 1984 European Rally Championship and the inaugural Middle Eastern rally Championship. To satisfy FIA homologation requirements, 20 cars had to be produced, five being assigned to Prodrive and the rest sold on as ‘Special Edition’ road cars. Based mainly on the 911 Turbo chassis, though with normally aspirated motor, the SC RS inherited the Turbo’s wide-arch bodywork, suspension (homologated with helicoidal springs from 1985) and brakes with front calipers all round and adjustable balance control. Whilst engine capacity remained the same at 2994cc, new forged pistons increased compression from 9.8 to 10.3:1, fuel injection was by Kugelfisher rather than Bosch K-Jetronic and different cylinder heads and camshafts were fitted. The transmission consisted of beefed up clutch, Type 915 5-speed gearbox with different ratios, oil cooler and LSD. Most bodywork was in steel with wings, doors and bonnet in aluminium and bumpers, sills, engine lid and rear spoiler in glass-fibre, thinner glass and lightweight door trims were employed. Weighing in at 960kg and with Type 908/18 engine achieving 255bhp at 7000rpm in ‘standard’ tune, the street version of the SC RS would reach 60mph in 4.9s, 100mph in 11.5s and had 153mph potential. The Prodrive rally cars were even more special, though, gaining heavy-duty shock absorbers, reinforced strut-brace and larger torsion bars, 22m at the front and 27.5mm at the rear, whilst in place of the usual 8.31 final drive and depending on the terrain, 8:35 or 7:37 could be specified. Panels were quick-release and interior much more minimalist, the crew in their bucket seats protected by full harnesses and aluminium roll-over bar. Soon, Rothmans Rally Porsche engine power output had risen to 290 very useable bhp, sufficient for Team cars to win seven major rallies in 1984. For thus equipped, Henri Toivonen won the Ypres 24 Hours, Mille Pistes, Costa Smeralda and Madeira events to finish second in the 1984 European Championship and, with three victories, Saeed Al Hajri became Middle Eastern Champion. With such rear-wheel drive only and production-based cars being at a considerable disadvantage when competing against the latest Group B 4WD Supercars, the SC RS programme was scaled down for the 1985 season. Even so, with chassis and transmission reinforced, coil-springs introduced and oil ducting improved, and with Billy Coleman and Bernard Beguin joining Al Hajri in the driver line-up, Rothmans Porsches still won five rallies in 1985 to take both the Middle Eastern and Irish crowns as well as 2nd places on the Tour de France and in Alsace, and a 3rd on the Tour de Corse. Statistically, however, by clinching two Middle Eastern titles in consecutive years, as well as 17th place on the 1984 RAC and 4th and 5th overall on the 1985 and 1986 Acropolis, it is the Quatari who has been by far the most successful SC RS driver – and, more than twenty years on, he is still driving Porsches on rallies, competing in this year’s 6000k Moscow to Mongolia in a Cayenne S.
Subaru Impreza WRX 555
BRIAN REDMAN DISPLAY
Excelling in sports cars and Formula 5000, Lancashire-born Redman raced at supercharged Morris Minor Traveller at Rufforth in 1959. It was six years before his career gained momentum when he proved almost unbeatable in Charles Bridges lightweight E Type Jaguar during 1965. When he moved into sports cars Brian was first behind the wheel of the Lola T70 before moving onto the Ford GT40 which he drove at the 1967 le Mans 24 Hours. He also raced in Formula 2 in the Lola Ford T100 and ended 1967 by winning the non-championship Kyalami Nine Hours with Wyer’s Mirage M1-Ford and Jacky Ickx. Redman won just about every sports car race during his career apart from le Mans.
There were a couple of dramatic display cars here. The Audi Sport Quattro S1 was a variant of the Quattro developed for homologation for Group B rallying in 1984, and sold as a production car in limited numbers. It featured an all aluminium 2,133 cc Inline-five engine with a bore X stroke of 79.3 mm × 86.4 mm DOHC 4 valves per cylinder, Bosch LH Jetronic fuel injection and a KKK K27 turbocharger. The engine was slightly smaller than that of the standard Audi Quattro in terms of displacement in order to qualify for the 3-litre engine class after the 1.4 multiplication factor applied to turbocharged engines. In road-going form, the engine was capable of generating 306 PS at 6,700 rpm and 350 N⋅m (258 lb⋅ft) at 3,700 rpm, with the engine on the competition cars initially generating around 450 PS. The car in competition form also featured a body shell composed of carbon-kevlar and wider wheel arches, wider wheels (nine inches as compared to the Ur-Quattro’s optional 8-inch-wide (200 mm) wheels), the steeper windscreen rake of the Audi 80 (requested by the Audi Sport rally team drivers to reduce internal reflections from the dashboard for improved visibility) and, most noticeably, a 320 mm (12.6 in) shorter wheelbase. In addition to Group B competition in rallying, the Sport Quattro won the 1985 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with Michèle Mouton in the driving seat, setting a record time in the process. 224 cars in total of this “short version” Sport Quattro were built, and were offered for sale for 203,850 German Marks. The Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2 was introduced at the end of 1985 as an update to the Audi Sport Quattro S1. The car featured an inline 5-cylinder engine that displaced 2,110 cc and generated an officially quoted power output figure of 480 PS. However, the turbocharger utilised a recirculating air system, with the aim of keeping the unit spinning at high rpm, when the driver closed the throttle, either to back off during cornering, or on gearshifts. This allowed the engine to resume full power immediately after the resumption of full throttle, reducing turbo lag. The actual power figure was in excess of 507 PS at 8,000 rpm. In addition to the improved power output, an aggressive aerodynamic kit was added that featured very distinctive wings and spoilers at the front and rear of the car to increase downforce. The weight was reduced to 1,090 kg (2,403 lb). The S1 could accelerate from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.1 seconds. Some of the cars were supplied with a “power-shift gearbox”, a forerunner of the DSG technology. The S1 E2 made its debut at the 1985 Rally Argentina, with Blomqvist driving. This variant was successful in the rally circuit, with Röhrl and Christian Geistdörfer winning the 1985 San Remo Rally. A modified version of the E2, was also driven by Michèle Mouton. The S1 E2 would become the final Group B car produced by Audi, with the works team withdrawing from the Championship following the 1986 rally in Portugal. The final factory cars of 1986 were rated at 600 PS. In 1987, the car won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb driven by Walter Röhrl.
This is a Chevron B26, a car which was built in 1973 to compete in Group 5 racing. This car raced in the 1974 World Sports Car Championship by John Watson and Peter Gethin, among others.
There was also a Ford Sierra RS Cosworth.
TRIBUTE to DAN GURNEY and CONNEW F1
Few racing cars are restored 40 years later by the very people who built them in the first place but that is what has happened to the little-known Connew F1 car. It was built at a time when F1 was still possible for those with a little budget and a big ambition. Peter Connew was a designer at Team Surtees who decided to build his own F1 car at the end of 1970. The first designs were drawn up by Peter early the next year, with the car being completed by spring 1972, the product of just three people and a tiny budget. Connew looked after design, Barry Boor – his cousin and a woodwork teacher by trade – made the bodywork and friend Roger Dean was chief mechanic. Its Formula 1 career was chequered to put it mildly. It failed to enter the 1972 French Grand Prix and was a non starter in Britain after a problem in practice and the team was then refused permission to race in Germany. The car has now been restored by Peter and Barry.
The M14 was the last Formula 1 car driven by Bruce McLaren before his death in 1970, and the last driven by the late Dan Gurney before his retirement from the sport that same year. McLaren and teammate Denny Hulme had started the season well: Hulme finished second at the opening South African GP and fourth in Monaco, while McLaren finished second in Spain. McLaren’s death while testing a Can-Am car would have been enough to destroy many a team, but the arrival of Dan Gurney for a couple of races helped them weather the storm and they ultimately finished the season fifth.
Also on this stand was a Chevron B48 from 1979.
STEVE PARRISH and BIKES
Celebrating the bike side of the sport was a small display with bikes ridden by the legend that is Steve Parrish, which included this Suzuki RG 500.
With so few of the original cars having been produced and their prices being so high on the rare occasions they come up for sale, there is a significant market in recreations of the legendary Shelby products that include the Cobra and the Daytona and these examples were to be found on display here.
The road car that I spotted was a fabulous Giulia SS, or in full, the Sprint Speciale. The car was produced between 1957 and 1965, latterly with Giulia badging. Just 1,366 examples were made. The first cars were fitted with the 1,290cc Giulietta engine and then in 1963 this was replaced by the more powerful 1,570cc Giulia unit. The SS, or Sprint Speciale series was never intended to be a volume car and it was considerably more expensive than the other models in the Giulietta and Giulia ranges. It certainly looked special, with streamlined bodywork which bore a marked resemblance to some of the marque’s earlier competition designs, particularly the famous Disco Volante sports-racer, not to mention the BAT 9 show car. With an all-up weight of under 950kgs, a five-speed gearbox and an output of 112bhp (in Giulia form) these were excellent road cars and were equally used in competition. They don’t come up for sale very often, and needless to say, the price tag is not small when they do.
There were two racing Alfa models here. Very rare indeed was this Alfa 33 16v Super Tourer, which was fresh from a two year restoration, during which time the owner, Adrian Hawkins, discovered more about its history. The car came into the UK in 1993 from Italy where Alfa had been developing it as a Super Touring car. It is one of just two made and was tested repeatedly at Monza, with lots of development changes being made. The AlfaSud-derived longitudinal flat four engine proved to be unreliable, so the factory’s focus shifted to the new 155 instead. The intriguing thing is that the car does not appear officially to exist! Alfa Corse took 2 of the 33 16v from the production line at Pomigliano before they were finished, so they never had chassis plates, though nor were the gaps in the production records closed, so there are a pair of missing numbers. It is interesting to think that had the car succeeded, it could have been this and not the 155 in which Tarquini might have won the BTCC Championship in 1994.
Displayed alongside it was the later 156 Touring Car of the late 90s.
2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the Chevron B8 of 1968. This 2 litre car was developed to compete in GT/Group 4 racing and enjoyed much success. 44 examples were made, of which 35 used BMW 2 litre engines.
Two Fords from a similar era, around 1964, but very different in execution, from either side of the Pond were this Anglia Touring Car and a Falcon GT Coupe, a car which has enjoyed much success in Historic Sports Car racing in recent times.
Not a real Stratos, sadly, but one of the replica models produced by Hawk. These cars are pretty faithful to the original, though the right hand drive gives the game away and make ownership possible to far more people than would be the case were such recreations not produced.
1965 Lola T60
This was a rather nice Europa Special. Oldest of the array of Lotus car here was an example of the firm’s first mid-engined product, the Europa. The concept originated during 1963 with drawings by Ron Hickman, director of Lotus Engineering (Designer of the original Lotus Elan, as well as inventor of the Black and Decker Workmate), for a bid on the Ford GT40 project. That contract went to Lola Cars as Colin Chapman wanted to call the car a Lotus and Henry Ford II insisted it would be called Ford. Chapman chose to use Hickman’s aerodynamic design which had a drag coefficient of Cd 0.29 for the basis for the Europa production model. The car was originally intended to succeed the Lotus 7. Volkswagen owned the rights to the Europa name in Germany so cars for sale in Germany were badged Europe rather than Europa. The original Europa used Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s minimalist steel backbone chassis that was first used in the Lotus Elan, while also relying on its fibreglass moulded body for structural strength. The four-wheel independent suspension was typical of Chapman’s thinking. The rear suspension was a modified Chapman strut, as used for Chapman’s earlier Formula racing car designs. Owing to the rubber suspension bushes used to isolate engine vibration from the car body, the true Chapman strut’s use of the drive shaft as the lower locating link could not be followed whilst still giving the precise track and handling desired. The forward radius arms were increased in size and rigidity, to act as a semi-wishbone. A careful compromise between engine mounting bush isolation and handling was required, culminating eventually in a sandwich bush that was flexible against shear but stiff in compression and tension. The car’s handling prompted automotive writers to describe the Europa as the nearest thing to a Formula car for the road. Aside from the doors, bonnet, and boot, the body was moulded as a single unit of fibreglass. The first cars has Renault 1470cc engines, and suffered from a number of quality issues as well as limited visibility. An S2, released in 1968 brought improvements to the build quality, but Lotus knew that the Renault engine was not powerful enough for what they thought the car could achieve on track and on the road, so the Europa underwent another update in 1971 when the Type 74 Europa Twin Cam was made available to the public, with a 105 bhp 1557cc Lotus-Ford Twin Cam engine and a re-designed bodyshell to improve rearward visibility. Initially with the same gearbox as the earlier cars, once the supply had been exhausted in 1972 a new stronger Renault four-speed gearbox was introduced. Mike Kimberley, who rose to become chief executive of Group Lotus, then a new engineer at Lotus, was appointed Chief Engineer of the Europa TC project. 1,580 cars were shipped as Europa “Twin Cam” before Lotus switched to a 126 bhp “Big Valve” version of the engine. The big valve “Europa Special” version was aspirated by Dell’Orto carburettors version of the same engine; in addition it also offered a new Renault five-speed (Type 365) gearbox option. It weighed 740 kg (1631 lb), Motor magazine famously tested a UK Special to a top speed of 123 mph, did 0–60 mph in 6.6 seconds, and ran the 1/4 mile in 14.9 sec. This at a time when all road tests were carried out with both a driver and passenger, with only the driver on board the 0–60 mph time would have been well under 6 seconds, a phenomenal performance for the period. Introduced in September 1972 the first 100 big valve cars were badged and painted to honour the just won Team Lotus’s 1972 F1 World Championship title with John Player Special as sponsors, all with five-speed gearbox, these were all black with gold pin stripe matching the livery of the GP cars – plus a numbered JPS dash board badge, becoming the first ever John Player Special commemorative motor vehicles. The “Special” name and colour scheme was planned to be dropped after the first 200 cars, reverting to the Twin Cam name, but such was the reaction to the new car that the name and pin stripe scheme remained until the end of Europa Production although colours other than black were made available. In the end only the numbered plaque distinguishing the first 100 JPS cars from other black Europa Specials. According to Lotus sources, no Special left the factory with “numbered JPS badges” or “JPS stickers” – these were added by the American importer & weren’t official done by Lotus. There were no “badged” cars sold in the UK, Australia, etc, just in the USA. In total 4710 Type 74s were produced of which 3130 were “Specials”.
Also here was a race-spec Evora.
The MG Car Club has long had its own competitions department, specifically for the enjoyment of its members and to encourage and assist those owners taking their first or subsequent steps in motorsport. Two successful cars from the firm’s history were displayed on the Club stand, an MGA and it successor, the MGB.
Representing the Malvern Link-based sports car manufacturer was Richard Thorne Classic Cars, a Morgan main agent for over 35 years, who specialise not just in new model sales but also modern and historic race preparation, as well a servicing and restoration work.
Hall 3 always contains a couple of long lines of historic Motor Bikes, with one brand highlighted as a theme marque for the year. This time it was Norton and there were plenty of these legends here for the bike enthusiast to drool over.
Porsche Club GB had a display stand in one corner of Hall 3, and there were three quite different cars on it. Oldest of these – in design terms – was an early model 911 and it was joined by a first generation Boxster and a recent 911 GT3.
Elsewhere, in fact on an adjoining stand was this 550RS Replica. Inspired by the Porsche 356, and some spyder prototypes built and raced by Walter Glöckler starting in 1951, the factory decided to build a car designed for use in auto racing. The model Porsche 550 Spyder was introduced at the 1953 Paris Auto Show. The 550 was very low to the ground, in order to be efficient for racing. In fact, former German Formula One racer Hans Herrmann drove it under closed railroad crossing gates during the 1954 Mille Miglia. The first three hand built prototypes came in a coupé with a removable hardtop. The first (550-03) raced as a roadster at the Nurburgring Eifel Race in May 1953 winning its first race. Over the next couple of years, the Werks Porsche team evolved and raced the 550 with outstanding success and was recognised wherever it appeared. The Werks cars were provided with differently painted tail fins to aid recognition from the pits. Hans Herrmann’s particularly famous ‘red-tail’ car No 41 went from victory to victory. Porsche was the first car manufacturer to get race sponsorship which was through Fletcher Aviation, who Porsche was working with to design a light aircraft engine and then later adding Telefunken and Castrol. For such a limited number of 90 prototype and customer builds, the 550 Spyder was always in a winning position, usually finishing in the top three results in its class. The beauty of the 550 was that it could be driven to the track, raced and then driven home, which showed the flexibility of being both a road and track car. Each Spyder was individually designed and customised to be raced and although from the pits it was difficult to identify the sometimes six 550s in the race, the aid of colouring tail spears along the rear wheel fenders, enabled the teams to see their cars. The racing Spyders were predominantly silver in colour, similar to the factory colour of the Mercedes, but there were other splashes of blue, red, yellow and green in the tail spears making up the Porsche palette on the circuit. Each Spyder was assigned a number for the race and had gumballs positioned on doors, front and rear, to be seen from any angle. On some 550s owned by privateers, a crude hand written number scrawled in house paint usually served the purpose. Cars with high numbers assigned such as 351, raced in the 1000 mile Mille Miglia, where the number represented the start time of 3.51am. On most occasions, numbers on each Spyder would change for each race entered, which today helps identify each 550 by chassis number and driver in period black and white photos. The later 1956 evolution version of the model, the 550A, which had a lighter and more rigid spaceframe chassis, gave Porsche its first overall win in a major sports car racing event, the 1956 Targa Florio. Its successor from 1957 onwards, the Porsche 718, commonly known as the RSK was even more successful. The Spyder variations continued through the early 1960s, the RS 60 and RS 61. A descendant of the Porsche 550 is generally considered to be the Porsche Boxster S 550 Spyder; the Spyder name was effectively resurrected with the RS Spyder Le Mans Prototype.
Elsewhere in the show was this racing 356 model.
Although the vast majority of the rally cars that were present could be found either in the Parc Ferme at the end of Hall 4, or out on the special stage, a number of them were on display stand in the other halls, and these make for a quite contrasting display when they are all presented together, with cars covering the last 50 years of the sport, some being rather more familiar than others.
Mini Cooper S
The Saab 96 V4 had a long and successful career as a rally car, especially with the legendary Erik Carlsson behind the wheel, notching up numerous victories over the years.
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.
Opel Manta 400
Created for the short lived Group B rally category, the 4WD mid engined MG Metro 6R4 of 1984 (6-cylinder, rally car, four-wheel-drive) was a world away from the best selling city car to which it bore only a superficial cosmetic resemblance. The competition car effectively only shared the name of the production Metro as it featured a mid-mounted engine with four wheel drive transmission enclosed within a semi-monocoque seam-welded tubular chassis. The development of this vehicle had been entrusted to Williams Grand Prix Engineering. The resulting car was shown to the world in May 1985. It was powered by a David Wood designed bespoke 3-litre V6 powerplant which used some of the engine architecture of the Cosworth DFV. It featured twin overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. The engine was a break from the norm, as it wasn’t turbocharged as the majority of its competitors were. The engine was mounted back to front in the car, with the forward end of the engine facing the hatchback and the gearbox attached conventionally behind it and, therefore, in the middle of the vehicle. The four-wheel-drive was permanently engaged, and drove separate propshafts to the front and rear differentials. The rear differential was mounted on the side of the engine sump with one driveshaft running through the sump to the nearside rear wheel. Much of the outer bodywork was made of GRP, with the only exception being the roof panels (which were aluminium), the steel doors and the remaining panels from the original Metro shell. The doors were, however, concealed by plastic airboxes. Indeed, models now on show generally have stickers demonstrating where it is safe to push from when moving the vehicle, so as not to damage the bodywork. The 6R4 appeared in two guises. There was a so-called Clubman model which was the road going version which developed in the region of 250 bhp, of which around 200 were made and sold to the public for £40,000 (the homologation version). A further 20 were taken and built to International specifications which had a recorded output of over 410 bhp. At its launch in 1985, Rover announced that it would complete the necessary number of cars required for homologation by November of that year. This was undertaken at the group’s large manufacturing facility at Longbridge. The car was to participate in the Lombard RAC rally in November 1985, and an example, driven by works driver Tony Pond, finished a highly respectable third, behind two Lancia Delta S4s. This good start was unfortunately not repeated, and although a 6R4 was entered in rallies at Monte Carlo, Sweden, Portugal and Corsica during the 1986 season, none of the Metros managed to complete a course. The majority of these problems were related to the V6 powerplant which suffered teething issues. Halfway during the 1986 season, Group B was banned (following a series of fatal crashes in which both competitors and spectators lost their lives). From that point on, the 6R4 was always going to be limited in front line competition, although they were run with limited success for the remainder of the year. A number passed into private hands and have proved formidable rally and rallycross cars. Despite the expiry of the 6R4’s homologation the MSA still allow the cars to run in competition although engine sizes have been limited to 2800cc (single plenum engines) and 2500cc (multi-plenum engines). Austin Rover withdrew from the rallying scene at the end of the season, but in 1987 all the parts and engines were sold to Tom Walkinshaw Racing, whereupon the V6 engine reappeared in the Jaguar XJ220, this time with turbochargers added.
Perhaps the least familiar of them all was this Proton Iriz RS. Proton used to sell road cars in the UK, and after the initial popularity of the Saga model in the 1990s, they found themselves under increasing pressure with the follow-up models finding matters more difficult. The UK was the last market in Europe where they were sold, largely because the home country, Malaysia, is also a right hand drive country, but very quietly, the cars disappeared from new car showrooms a couple of years ago. The Iriz is the latest supermini-sized hatch model, which took over the Savvy that was sold here. It made is debut in 2014 and in road car form is a fairly generic looking competitor in a market stuffed full of talent. But Proton have a history in rallying which goes back before the association with Lotus to their Mitsubishi-based roots, so don’t bet against the potential for this Iriz RS version.
This is a 1983 RT3, a Formula 3 car. The history of the RT3 started in 1979, a ground effect Formula Three car which was enhanced every year until 1984, becoming the dominant car in the formula. Ayrton Senna won the 1983 British Formula Three Championship driving an RT3. RT30 was introduced for the flat-bottom rules coming into effect in 1985. This was notable mainly for being very asymmetric – it had only one sidepod containing a radiator, and a deformable structure panel on the other side. The RT30 was, like many Ralts, developed over several seasons, evolving by the 1985-6 seasons into a highly competitive car, although some teams converted their old RT30s into flat-bottom cars and enjoyed a measure of success with these.
The Santa Pod raceway were promoting their facility and the events that they run there with a striking looking very long and low Dragster as well as an enclosed machine which had started out life as a mark 2 Ford Zephyr.
SHELSLEY WALSH – MIDLAND AUTO CLUB
The Midland Automobile Club, whose base is at the UK’s oldest motorsport location, the pictures Shelsley Walsh hillclimb in Worcestershire had a corner stand in Hall 1, promoting both the Club and the events that take place at Shelsley during the season. There were two cars on the stand to help draw in the punters.
As well as providing the second example of the 1980 Toleman TG280 in the show, the stand also contained a Dallara F302- 037, a Formula 3 car first seen in 2002.
An interesting collection of cars on the TR Enterprises stand showed not just completed work but restoration in progress. As well as the well known TR4 as styled by Michelotti, there was a body shell for the TR4 SLR, a one-off which shared a body style with the three Morgan SLR cars that you do see competing at historic events from time to time. The origins of the TR4 SLR story begin in 1960 when club racer, Neil Dangerfield, bought Sid Hurrells Triumph TR3A (registered “SAH 137”) for use on road and track. After a couple of successful seasons with the TR3A, Dangerfield bought a brand new TR4 from Hurrells SAH tuning concern in 1962. The “SAH 137” registration was transferred to the new car and so the TR4 tale begins. Sid Hurrell prepared the TR4 for racing and Dangerfield duly campaigned it around the English circuits in 1962/63. He also drove it to Monza for the 3 hour GP support race in 1963, finished 2nd in class and drove it home again!! By the end of 1963, Chris Lawrence (of Morgan fame) had taken over the preparation of the car. A discussion between Chris, John Sprinzel and Neil Dangerfield led to the decision to remove the old TR4 body and replace it with a new curvaceous, low drag one. Having been fashioned from aluminium by Williams and Pritchard, the ‘new’ car was built up by Chris Lawrence. Christened “SLR” (which stood for Sprinzel LawrenceTune Racing), it was unveiled to the public at the Racing Car Show at Olympia in January 1964. Three further examples were subsequently built on Morgan chassis’, all complying with the period Group 3 Appendix J category Neil (and occasionally Chris Lawrence) raced the car in 1964 and 1965 at various circuits including Goodwood, Spa Francorchamps and Silverstone. Current owner, Tony Griffin, acquired the vehicle in 1986 in a fairly rough state. He set about restoring the car to its former glory with the help of Ken Heywood. The culmination of their efforts was an entry in the inaugural Goodwood Revival meeting in 1998 where the car was also honoured by being invited to take part in the “Dream Grid” parade, driven by none other than Neil Dangerfield!! The car has been a regular invitee to the Revival ever since. TR Enterprises built a fresh engine for the car in 2012. More recently, the decision has been taken to produce a tool-room copy of this unique car and this is the shell of that new creation.
There were a couple of historic TVR race cars here. Not to be confused with the later (or much earlier) roadcar with the same name, this is a Tuscan built for the Tuscan Challenge series, a one-make series dedicated to the second incarnation of the TVR Tuscan sports car (Initially developed as a road car and then built for the race series), and takes place throughout the United Kingdom. Inaugurated in 1989, its high power-to-weight ratio, capability of reaching 190 mph (310 km/h) and loud engine noise, combined with close racing in a field consisting of over 30 cars at its peak, made the series become, at the time, the premier one-make series in the UK with an extensive TV coverage; over the years, many drivers who competed in the series moved on in major championship series and many notable drivers have guest driven in a race. The company underwent management changes in 2005, and the TVR Tuscan Challenge was merged with its owner club’s series, which has been reformatted to allow for all TVR models.
Also here was a Grantura, the first series production TVR, and a model which you do see competing in historic racing championships these days.
Final stand of note in this part of the event was that for the VSCC, who were promoting their program of events for the forthcoming year. They had one car on the stand, the fabulous ERA 4D, the last development of this classic voiturette racing car and the only D-Type ever built. Originating as R4B in 1935, the car was rebuilt as a C-Type by modifying the front end of the chassis frame to accommodate independent Porsche-type torsion bar front suspension. Over the winter of 1937-38 the car was given a completely new fully boxed frame, and was designated R4D. This was the first ERA to be fitted with a Zoller supercharger (in 1935), and R4D accumulated a formidable competition record in its various guises, finally being purchased from the works by Raymond Mays, and running as a privately entered car in 1939. Mays set numerous pre-war records in R4D, including Prescott and Shelsley Walsh hill climbs, Brighton Sprints and Brooklands Mountain Circuit. Mays describes his history with the car in his book Split Second. After World War II R4D continued in active competition, but the demands on Mays’s time created by the evolving BRM project meant he competed less frequently. In 1952 Mays sold R4D to Ron Flockhart. In 1953 Flockhart had a phenomenally successful season, winning the Bo’ness hill climb in a record setting 33.82 seconds. The car was featured on the cover of Autosportmagazine. This success led to his joining the BRM team as a works driver, and later successes at Le Mans and elsewhere. In 1954 Ken Wharton purchased R4D from Flockhart and used the car to win the RAC Hill Climb Championship. In 1955 he used R4D and his Cooper to finish equal first in the hill climb championship with Tony Marsh. Since Wharton was a multiple previous winner, the RAC awarded the championship to newcomer Marsh. An achievement of R4D in the post-war era is that it has won the Brighton Speed Trials seven times, driven by Raymond Mays four times and Ken Wharton three times, more wins than any other car at this event. The owner after Ken Wharton was the pseudonymous “T. Dryver,” creator of the aero-engined De Havilland-M.G. Special. He raced the ERA in the Brighton Speed Trials in 1957 but his chance of achieving fastest-time-of-the-day was spoiled by rain.From the mid-fifties onward, the car had a variety of owners, but achieved notable success in historic racing in the hands of Neil Corner and Willie Green (the latter driving for Anthony Bamford). R4D rose to pre-eminence again in the hands of Anthony Mayman, achieving many successes and setting many pre-war records at various venues. In recent years the car has been owned and driven by James Baxter and Mac Hulbert, and continues to be one of the most successful pre-war racing cars still active in competition, having set new pre-war records at numerous venues. That trend continued, with Baxter winning the class at this event.
Zolfe was founded in 2007 in the UK by Nic Strong. The company was also joined by the Caterham Cars Technical Director Jez Coates. Wolfe also partners with the following companies, Sparlonz Plasticz (also owned by Nic Strong), Stadco, MTCe, Simpact, AP Racing, Avon Tyres, Powertorque Engineering and KN Engineering. The car that they developed and put together is a lightweight road going track car with a classic 60’s style and uses/takes influences from many other classic/modern sports cars. The car has a spaceframe chassis and composite body, with rear-drive. As shown originally the car had a Suzuki motor cycle engine but it was decided to lengthen the wheelbase for greater practicality and production cars have either a Mazda engine or a 2.3-litre Ford Duratec engine in various states of tune up to 300 bhp. The transmission is based on that from a Mazda MX5. A special feature of the car is its very low weight of under 700 kg. A production rate of 30 cars a year was hoped for. For production cars the name was changed to the Zolfe GTC4. Four variants are offered: the Sprintz is the basic road car; the Speedz is intended for track use and has a six speed gearbox and limited slip differential; the Sportz is a road going version of the Speedz with a little extra comfort and the Zolfster will be an open version of the car.
LIVE STAGE – INTERVIEWS
As well as the Special Displays in Hall 3 there was a Live Stage area and this was used for an extensive array of live interviews with motorsport stars from the world of racing and rallying. A different list of names features on each day, with most stars doing an interview with host Gemma Scott during the morning and in the afternoon taking questions from the audience. The person whose interview I caught was rally star Miki Biasion who talked with great candour and a great matter-of-factness about his fantastic career behind the wheel in the forests over many years.
PRIDE OF THE PADDOCK DISPLAY
At the far end of Hall 4, backing onto the divider which separated the Parc Ferme for the Rally Cars from the indoor exhibitions were a line of cars which were grouped together in what was called “Pride of the Paddock”. This was quite an eclectic mix with some standard road cars, some modified ones, and some rally cars both well known and less so. There was a competitive element, as this was a sort of “People’s Concours”, with attendees being given the opportunity to vote for their favourite.
This is a Healey 100, one of Britain’s most popular classics. Donald Healey had been producing a range of expensive sports cars from the 1940s, cars such as the Silverstone, the Abbott and the Farnham. For the 1952 London Motor Show, he produced a new design, which was called the Healey Hundred, based on Austin A90 mechanicals, which he intended to produce in-house at his small car company in Warwick. It was one of the stars of the 1952 Show, and it so impressed Leonard Lord, the Managing Director of Austin, who was looking for a replacement to the unsuccessful A90. that Lord struck a deal with Healey on the spot, to build it in quantity. Bodies made by Jensen Motors would be given Austin mechanical components at Austin’s Longbridge factory. The car was renamed the Austin-Healey 100, in reference to the fact that the car had a top speed of 100 mph. Production got under way in 1953, with Austin-Healey 100s being finished at Austin’s Longbridge plant alongside the A90 and based on fully trimmed and painted body/chassis units produced by Jensen in West Bromwich—in an arrangement the two companies previously had explored with the Austin A40 Sports. By early 1956, production was running at 200 cars a month, 150 of which were being sold in California. Between 1953 and 1956, 14,634 Austin-Healey 100s were produced, the vast majority of them, as was the case for most cars in this post war era, going for export. The car was replaced by an updated model in 1956, called the 100-6. It had a longer wheelbase, redesigned bodywork with an oval shaped grille, a fixed windscreen and two occasional seats added (which in 1958 became an option with the introduction of the two-seat BN6 produced in parallel with the 2+2 BN4), and the engine was replaced by one based on the six-cylinder BMC C-Series engine. In 1959, the engine capacity was increased from 2.6 to 2.9 litres and the car renamed the Austin-Healey 3000. Both 2-seat and 2+2 variants were offered. It continued in this form until production ceased in late 1967. The Big Healey, as the car became known after the 1958 launch of the much smaller Austin-Healey Sprite, is a popular classic now. You come across the 3000 models more frequently than the 100s, as they accounted for more than 60% of all Big Healey production.
The Ferrari Challenge debuted in 1993 and at that time included just an Italian and European series. The 348 Challenge was the car that launched the event. The model was derived directly from the 348 TB. Only very few changes were made to the original car, in fact: the 348 Challenge had a more powerful 320 hp engine (+20 hp), a different exhaust system, slick tyres, modified brakes and specific dynamic air intakes. Naturally the 348 Challenges were also equipped with the regulation racing safety kit that included a roll cage, six-point harness, fire extinguisher, front tow hook and electric circuit breaker. The car’s final season was 1995 during which it was flanked by the F355 Challenge which replaced it completely the following year.
Two very contrasting models were both a standard and a modified Anglia 105E of the early 1960s as well as a Fiesta from the late 90s.
Rather than being a genuine C type from the 1950s, this is a more modern recreation. A number of these have been produced by companies such as Proteus, Lynx and Suffolk Engineering.
One of the more unusual cars here was this 1986 ex Lada UK Toyo Tyres Super Road Saloon Samara. This car was supplied directly by the Russian factory to Satra Motors UK, the brand’s importer. It was the first Samara to be registered in the UK, on 7th August 1986 as one of three lhd VAZ 2018 “UK Prototype” models. It was used specifically to develop UK road car specifications and homologations and was used by Geoff Warkup as his Lada company car. The remaining prototypes were used for development and homologation of the Works Group A cars. Geoff used one of these as a works car and it made its rally debut on the 1987 Halkidiki Rally, whilst the third car was built by Bridge Motorsport and it made its debut on the 1987 RAC Rally. These cars later formed the Dealer Team Lada Rally Team in the 1988 British Open Rally Championship. By this time the regular Samara was on sale in the UK so the first car was offer to Roger Turner, a Lada dealer in Leicestershire, for use in competition. A skilled driver, he was also expert in developing the car for its rally exploits. Roger debuted the car at the end of the 1990 Falken production race series and competed in this series in 1991 with a 1575cc engine. The car then competed in the 1993 – 1995 Toyo Tyres Super Road Saloon Series with a highly developed 1650cc engine. Roger achieved great success with the car. At the end of 1995 it was rebuilt again with the 1575cc engine it still has now, though this would be the final year in which Roger competed. The sister car competed in Dealer Team Lada/Mountsorrel livery. Roger died in 2003 and ownership passed to Mike Morrell and he has maintained it in its 1995 specification ever since, finally selling it at the start of 2018 to Paul Glass who already owned the sister car, thus reuniting the two after a gap of 23 years.
What makes this Marina Coupe special is that the Rover V8 engine has been squeezed under the bonnet. Whilst this is a replica, there were rally cars produced to this spec in period. In 1970 Donald Stokes ordered the BMC Competitions Department closed and disbanded. By the time the Marina appeared, it was becoming obvious that Stage Rallying was gaining popularity, and in early 1971 it was decided to use the new model in the November 1971 RAC Rally. Luckily for BL, Special Tuning had a rally driver on its books by the name of Brian Culcheth and so with no team, no mechanics, no funding and initially no sponsorship a team of talented engineers developed a 1.3 coupé into a rally car, funded purely by sales of performance parts from Special Tuning. Knowing that the 1.8-litre engine was too heavy for decent handling, they concentrated on the 1.3-litre engine and using Mini components got good horsepower figures from it; then they played a flanker to pen the field in the 1.3 classes. All rally teams used one particular course to test, so the car was fitted with a full-race 1.8 and blasted around the track in front of the Ford rally team – consequently they withdrew from the 1.3 class allowing the car to claim 1st in Class for the 1971 Rally. Subsequently, the car was entered in 17 more national and international rallies up to 1975, either being placed or winning class honours in twelve of them, the others being crashes/failures. In South Africa, the local Leyland subsidiary also rallied the Marina for several years. These were serious machines, fitted originally with the Rover V8 and later with a 200 bhp Triumph Dolomite Sprint engine. Leykor chose the heavier and less powerful Dolomite engine since more performance parts, including a close-ratio five-speed transmission, were available. With the appearance of the SD1 this situation changed again, but the Dolomite engine was used into 1977 at least. In 1974 Foden commissioned a Rover V8-engined Marina to compete in the UDT London–Sahara–Sydney Marathon rally. Driven by Major John Hemsley and Major John Skinner, the car stormed through several stages before suffering rear-axle failure in the desert. John Hemsley started the rally with his left arm in a cast having broken his wrist, leaving John Skinner to change gear for him during the special stages. The rear axle had been the only part obtained from a non-BL source. For 1976 BL management decided to move to the Triumph Dolomite Sprint for its main rallying weapon.
This was another example of a 550RS replica, complementing the one seen elsewhere in the event.
There were two examples of the Chevette 2300 HS here. 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.
RALLY CARS: IN ACTION and AT REST
One of the most popular elements of the event is the Live Action Rally Stage. Every time I have attended this event there seem to be more and more cars entered for this and the total in 2018 was well over 80. The Stage moves around the site eery year as the organisers try to find somewhere that can not just accommodate a lot of cars (gone are the days when only one was on stage at a time) and with decent views for the spectators. In 2018 – when sunshine made watching a less nippy experience than it often is – all the spectators were at one end of a course which comprised several moderate length straights with a few hay bale chicanes added for more interest. The viewing could have been better, as the cars certainly merited it. The unmistakable voice of rallying, Tony Mason provided a live commentary. As well as the more obvious rally stars of the last 50 years there were several more unusual entrants here.
Not really a rally car per se, the Ariel Nomad was created for just the sort of terrain over which rally cars do compete, so this example did not feel unduly out of place in this collection of cars.
There were several example of the legendary Quattro here, including those with the shorter wheelbase Sport body.
In 1970, the England football squad, led by Sir Alf Ramsey, were preparing to travel to Mexico City for the Word Cup. The Daily Mirror, in conjunction with the Royal Automobile Club, sent out a press release announcing a unique motor sport event; a rally which was to be waved off by Sir Alf Ramsey from Wembley Stadium on 19th April 1970 to finish in Mexico City on 27th May to coincide with the start of the world football tournament. The rally was named the ‘Daily Mirror World Cup Rally’ and the route passed through Munich, Budapest, Monza, Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago La Paz and Panama. Four BLMC Austin Maxis were prepared for the event; two works supported cars and two private teams – one of which was entered by The Royal Hussars/17/21 Lancers with Capt. HRH Prince Michael of Kent and a further private entry, which is presented today, prepared by Marshalls of Cambridge which was driven by three ladies led by Tish Ozanne with Bronwyn Burrell and Tina Kerridge as co-drivers. The event was gruelling; with 4,500 miles in Europe and 11,500 miles in South America to be covered, the tight schedules demanded a high pace be maintained in order to make each timing point with the crews also requiring oxygen whilst travelling above 15,000ft in the Andes. Out of 106 starters, only 26 finished. Hannu Mikkola won the event; Rosemary Smith finished 10th in the Works Maxi taking the Ladies prize, while the other Works Maxi finished 22nd. Capt. HRH Prince Michael of Kent went off the road at Ltuporanga, 10 miles from the start at Rio, smashing his drive shafts in the process, and withdrew. The Marshalls car sadly lost time by getting stuck in mud after leaving Buenos Aires and also had to withdraw. Apparently, the ladies were understandably devastated by this turn of events. Of these four cars, only two are known to survive today. The HRH Prince Michael car resides within the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon and the Marshall car, seen here, which remains as if it had just been competing in that famous rally. BLMC were keen for all the Maxi’s to do well and shared details of the works car preparation with the private teams; therefore, MCE 7G, prepared by Peter Baldwin, apprentice Ray Brand and painter, Richard Watts of Marshalls of Cambridge, is very much as the works Maxi. The modifications are too numerous to mention here, but do include glass fibre bonnet and doors (with Les Leston pins), plexiglass rear and side windows, welded tailgate with modified boot opening, bull bar and mesh, fog and spot lamps easily detachable via the rare Lucas rubber plug, works sump guard, strengthened and guarded suspension, front and rear telescopic dampers plus hydrolastic suspension with hydraulic pipes routed inside the car. A 25 gallon, foam filled (recently re-foamed) flexible fuel tank (dated March 1970) with separate gauge, alloy fuel tank support box and Irvin straps reside in the boot along with shovel, boot dust cover, temporary windscreen, double Lucas fuel pump and Monza fuel filler. The Maxi rides upon its original magnesium wheels with a further two being secured on the roof, all shod with new competition Maxsport tyres. The engine was originally a 1500cc unit with a cable change gear box; however, Tish Ozanne later improved the car by fitting a 1750cc unit with a rod change box for events in Europe. Inside, a John Aley roll bar is fitted, standard modified seats with rear storage, under seat tool storage, Britax seat belts front and rear, braced Intertech steering wheel, rear parcel shelf mounted suspension pump with the reservoir inside the boot, Halda Twinmaster, Smiths eight day clock with pea lights, rev. counter, 240kph rebuilt Smiths odometer, oil pressure gauge and battery gauge. Due to the altitude in the Andes, a 40,000ft altimeter is fitted with oxygen supply pipes and regulator. A push button starter gets things going. The differences between this Maxi in its battle dress and a standard car are legion and go far beyond a few rally lights and alloy wheels. Benefitting from a recent re-commission works and a tune by the original builder, Peter Baldwin, MCE 7G is one of the first 500 Maxis built.
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.
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 car.
Rather different was this Cinquecento Sporting which belongs to local resident Mark Barnes who also has the more recent Abarth 500-based rally car in his collection.
Both the Mark 1 and Mark 2 Escort cars were phenomenally successful as rally cars, with a long list of events that the cars won through an illustrious career. There was a nice Mexico Mark 1 here as well as a number of examples of the Mark 2 car.
This was the very first event on which this particular Escort RS1700T had been seen. It is one of just 5 RS1700Ts car left. It dates from late in the cars development. It has no rallying history but did about 25,000 test track miles back in the day before Ford realised that the car was never going to be competitive with the Audi Quattro and abandoned the program. 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.
There were further examples of the RS200 and Sapphire Cosworth to join the cars that had been seen inside the event.
That all-conquering machine for so many years in the late 80s and early 90s, the Delta Integrale, was here, of course.
Lotus didn’t produce a V8 engined Esprit until the 1990s, but prototype chassis number one had a V8 a good two decades earlier. Not that it was fitted with a V8 during its prototyping duties. The car was heavily modified by Cypriot rallycross driver Dimi Mavgropolis once it left the Lotus factory to suit his chosen motorsport discipline. The rear overhang was much shortened with modified rear bodywork, and a spaceframe chassis underneath to accommodate the Rover-derived 3.9-litre engine and Hewland DG300 gearbox. Bodywork at the front was changed, too, with no shortage of louvres adding to the car’s purposeful look. It’s slightly rough and ready, but suits its intended purpose perfectly. The car has been owned by Terry Maynard for almost three decades, and has been a regular at this event for many years. Terry regularly competed in rallycross events during his early ownership of the car, but these days uses it for only a handful of rally stage events each year. Terry’s son Neil Maynard was driving it at this event. ‘It’s really good to drive,’ he says. ‘It’s quite tail happy but controllable. I rallycross a Triumph TR8, so I’m used to rear wheel drive, but being mid-engined this is a bit different. It never understeers.’ Terry also has a Ford RS200, but Neil hasn’t been allowed to drive that on a stage yet. ‘I’m hoping to be allowed to soon,’ he says. The father-and-son clearly have fun with the car – that much you can tell from the fact that it is ofen (though not on this occasion) to be seen with skis on the roof and wooden fish in the driver’s door pocket, both inspired by the (very different) James Bond Esprit.
Unlike other car makers who had to manufacturer 200 road going versions of their chosen car to get a ticket into Group B, the RX-7 was accepted into the mix through prior homologation in Group 1, Group 2 and its subsequent Group 4 upgrades and the fact that the car was based on the standard Series 3 version of the road-going RX-7 that had been in production since 1977 and of which over 400,000 units had been sold. Group B homologation, signed off by the FIA on February 1 1984, still required 20 ‘Evolution’ competition models to be built, though. The Group B car looked very much like the road car, with wider wing flares and a large rear spoiler being the best visual clue. It had an uprated engine which put out around 300 bhp and an oil cooler was included. There was limited success, with a third place on the Acropolis Rally of 1985 being the only notable result in the car’s very short career as whilst the Mazda Rally Team Europe (MRT) Group B RX-7 was a highly capable rally car, the overall package built around a naturally aspirated engine and rear-wheel-drive chassis proved no match for machines like the Audi Quattro S1, Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 and Lancia Delta S4 which all featured forced induction and four-wheel-drive and bespoke bodies. Then there was the fact that MRT never had full factory backing from Mazda Motor Company, which ultimately shunned the RX-7 and decided to put its weight behind the development of the Group A Mazda 323/Familia 4WD. But that’s another story.
Two very different Mini models here: an example of the legendary Cooper S of the 1960s was joined by something far more recent, a WRC Cuntryman.
The Datsun Violet of the late 1970s was Nissan’s most successful rally car of the 1970s and 80s. It won the Safari Rally in Kenya from 1979 to 1982 consecutively, all with Shekhar Mehta behind the wheel. The 1979 and 1980 winners were powered by an SOHC engine; the 1981 and 1982 winners were Violet GT models with a DOHC engine. These Safari records are only matched by the Toyota Celica GT-Four which won the 1992–95 events. Driven by Timo Salonen, the Violet also won the 1980 Rally New Zealand and the 1981 Rallye Côte d’Ivoire.
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).
Peugeot produced their 205 T16 to compete against the Audi Quattro and Lancia Delta of the mid 80s. To homologate the 205 T16 (“Turbo 16”) Group B rally car, Peugeot had to produce 200 road-going examples. According to the Group B regulations, these had to be based on a current production road car. Peugeot decided to base the Group B rally car on the two door version of the 205. The engine was based on the cast iron block of the Diesel version of the then new XU engine family, albeit with a specially developed 16-valve head. The gearbox came from the Citroen SM but was mounted transversely. The car had all wheel drive. The body was built by Heuliez, where standard three door bodyshells from the production line were delivered and heavily modified. Heuliez cut off the complete rear of the car and welded in a transverse firewall between the B-posts. The rear frame was then built in a mixture of sheet steel profiles and tubes. The front was modified in a similar way with a tube frame carrying the front suspension. The completed bodies were delivered to Simca (Talbot) for the 200-series production cars and to Peugeot Talbot Sport for the competition versions. All street versions (VINs P1 to P200) were left hand drive and identically kitted out in dark grey colour, except the first (VIN P1) that was painted white and carried all the competition cars’ decoration for demonstration purposes. The competition cars of the first evolution series (VIN C1 to C20) were built at the sport department Peugeot Talbot Sport and presented to the public at the same day as the standard street version. Later competition vehicles of the Evolution 2 series (VIN C201 to C220) were built differently as the rear spaceframe had no more sheet steel profiles in it but was completely made from tubes only. Apart from the appearance, the road variants had practically nothing in common with the regular production model and shared the transverse mid-engine, four-wheel drive layout of the rally car, but had less than half the power; at around 200 PS. The T was for Turbo; the 16 stands for 16 valves. Outwardly similar to a normal 205, the T16 had wider wheel arches, and the whole rear section lifted up to give access to the engine. Underneath, the complex drivetrain from the rally car was kept to abide by the Group B rules In addition to the Group B model, the lesser 205 GTI was also FIA approved for competition in the Group N and Group A categories. Peugeot Talbot Sport’s factory 205 T16s under Jean Todt were the most successful cars to compete in the last two years of the World Rally Championship’s Group B era, winning the 1985 and 1986 Constructors’ and Drivers’ titles with Timo Salonen and Juha Kankkunen respectively against such notable competition from Audi, Lancia and Ford, with an Evolution 2 model being introduced for the latter of those two seasons. Also here were Group A spec cars.
In response to Lancia’s rallying success with the mid-engined Stratos, Renault’s Jean Terramorsi, vice-president of production, asked Bertone’s Marc Deschamps to design a new sports version of the Renault 5 Alpine supermini. The distinctive new rear bodywork was styled by Marcello Gandini at Bertone. Although the standard Renault 5 has a front-mounted engine, the 5 Turbo featured a mid-mounted 1,397 cc Cléon-Fonte with fuel fed by Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection and a Garrett AiResearch T3 turbocharger OHV 2 valves per cylinder Inline-four engine placed behind the driver in mid-body in a modified Renault 5 chassis. In standard form, the engine developed 160 PS at 6000 rpm and maximum torque of 221 Nm (163 lb/ft) at 3250 rpm. Though it used a modified body from a standard Renault 5, and was badged a Renault 5, the mechanicals were radically different, the most obvious difference being rear-wheel drive and rear-mid-engined instead of the normal version’s front-wheel drive and front-mounted engine. At the time of its launch it was the most powerful production French car. The first 400 production 5 Turbos were made to comply with Group 4 homologation to allow the car to compete in international rallies, and were manufactured at the Alpine factory in Dieppe. Many parts later transferred to the Alpine A310, such as the suspension or alloy wheel set. The R5 Turbo was conceived with dual intent, promoting the sales of the common R5 and being homologated in the FIA group 3 and 4 categories of the rally championship (today WRC). All the motorsport derivatives were based on the Turbo 1. The factory pushed the engine output up to 180 PS for the Critérium des Cévennes, 210 PS for the Tour de Corse, and by 1984 as much as 350 PS in the R5 Maxi Turbo. Driven by Jean Ragnotti in 1981, the 5 Turbo won the Monte Carlo Rally on its first outing in the World Rally Championship. The 2WD R5 Turbo soon faced the competition of new Group B four-wheel drive cars that proved faster on dirt. There are several victories throughout the early 80’s in the national championships in France, Portugal, Switzerland, Hungary, and Spain, many victories in international rallies throughout Europe, with wins in iconic rallies such as Monte-Carlo. After the factory ceased support, it lived a second life being developed by many teams and enthusiasts to compete in regional championships and local races in which it was ubiquitous and reached many success for almost 20 years. At the time of retirement, the newly created historical categories allowed these cars to return to international events and competitions, living a third life. For these reasons it has accessed to a legendary status and has a huge fan base.
There were surprisingly few Subaru cars here. As well as one of the legendary Impreza WRX cars, though, there was one of its predecessors, as driven by Jimmy McRae. 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.
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.
As well as another example of the TR7, also here was the earlier big saloon, the 2500 Mark 2.
Further examples of the Chevette 2300 HS were joined by the later Astra GTE Mark 2, a car which never achieved the same success in the forests as that rear wheel drive icon had done.
A first generation Golf GTi was joined by the much more recent Polo WRC car.
IN THE CAR PARK
As always with events like this, there is likely to be plenty of interest in the public car park, so I made sure that I wandered back there in the middle of the day, which was easy to do as I had been outside watching those Rally Cars anyway. And sure enough, parked up in the various areas of the site which were being used to accommodate the cars of hose visiting were a number of what you might call more interesting vehicles as well as the lines of cars which currently are commonplace. Here is what I found:
I always have a keen eye for any Abarths to be found in the car parks and on this occasion I came across three of them, all them from the 500 family. None of the plates rang any bells, though, so I suspect that none of those present belonged to people I know personally.
Genuine AC Cobra are rare beasts, as not that many were produced, but for the last as long as anyone can remember, there have been all manner of replica and officially sanctioned continuation type cars produced, so there are pretty decent numbers of cars around that bear the legendary shape of this raw sports car. This is definitely not an original, but is still nice and with an amazing noise when the engine is fired up.
The Shelby Daytona Coupe (also referred to as the Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe) is an American sports-coupé related to the AC Cobra roadster, loosely based on its chassis and drive-train. It was built for auto racing, specifically to take on Ferrari and its 250 GTO in the GT class. Just six Shelby Daytona Coupes were built between 1964 and 1965, as Shelby was reassigned to the Ford GT40 project to compete at the 24 hours of Le Mans, again to beat Ferrari in the highest level prototype class. With the Shelby Daytona, Shelby became the first American constructor to win a title on the international scene at the FIA World Sportscar Championship in 1965. Whilst 5 of those originals were gathered together at the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed, neither of the two on site here were from the extremely valuable original production. Both were replicas, of which a reasonable number have been produced over the years, as there are plenty of people who love this car and want to own one but cannot afford the millions charged for an original on the rare occasions that one comes up for sale.
Visually similar to the 159 models at the front, the Brera and Spider boasted unique styling from the A pillars rearwards. They were offered with the same range of engines as the 159, and thanks to that strong, but rather heavy platform on which they were built, even the 3.2 litre V6 cars were more Grand Tourer than rapid sports car. Pininfarina was responsible for both models. The Brera was first to market, in 2005, with the Spider following in 2006. Production of both ceased in late 2010, by which time 12,488 units of the Spider and 21,786 units of the Brera had been built. It will be very surprising if these do not attain classic status, and the consequent rise in values, though that has not happened yet.
The wedge shaped Lagonda V8 saloon was launched in 1976 at the London Motor Show and was a total contrast to the 1974 model, sharing little but the engine. Deliveries of the Lagonda did not commence until 1979. Series 2 cars were originally fitted with digital LED dashboards and touch pad controls, but the innovative steering wheel controls and gas plasma display were abandoned in 1980. The Lagonda retailed at GB£49,933 in 1980, significantly more than a Ferrari 400 or Maserati Kyalami but less than a Rolls-Royce Corniche. The car commenced sales in the US from 1982 with minor amendments to the front bumper and airdam due to regulations. Mechanically, it was similar to the established V8 Coupe, but the larger and heavier body meant that the performance was not quite as strong. The Series 3 was produced for only one year, in 1986/7, with just 75 units manufactured, and featured fuel injected engines. Originally with cathode ray tube instruments, later versions featured a vacuum fluorescent display system similar to that used by some Vauxhalls and Opels, but were the same as the Series 2 model from the exterior. The Series 4 was launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1987 and received a significant exterior facelift by the car’s original designer William Towns. The car’s sharp edges were rounded off and the pop-up headlights were eliminated, with a new arrangement of triple headlights on each side of the grille being the most obvious alteration, along with the removal of the side swage line (or character line) and the introduction of 16-inch wheels. With production of around one car per week, 105 Series 4 cars were manufactured. The last car was produced during January 1990. 81 remain registered in the UK. This one was part of the Silverstone Auction, but it was parked up outside.
That was also the case for this DB9. Designed by Marek Reichmann and Hendrik Fisker, the DB9 was first shown at the 2003 Frankfurt Auto Show, in coupe form. It was widely praised for the beauty of its lines. This was the first model to be built at Aston Martin’s Gaydon facility. It was built on the VH platform, which would become the basis for all subsequent Aston models. The Aston Martin DB9 was initially launched equipped with a 6.0 litre V12 engine, originally taken from the V12 Vanquish. The engine produced 420 lbf·ft of torque at 5,000 rpm and a maximum power of 444 hp at 6,000 rpm, allowing the DB9 to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 299 km/h (186 mph). The engine largely sits behind the front-axle line to improve weight distribution. Changes to the engine for the 2013 model year increased the power to 503 hp and torque to 457 lb-ft, decreasing the 0 to 60 mph time to 4.50 seconds and with a new top speed is 295 km/h (183 mph). The DB9 was available with either a six-speed conventional manual gearbox from Graziano or a six-speed ZF automatic gearbox featuring paddle-operated semi-automatic mode. The gearbox is rear-mounted and is driven by a carbon-fibre tail shaft inside a cast aluminium torque tube. The DB9 was the first Aston Martin model to be designed and developed on Ford’s aluminium VH (vertical/horizontal) platform. The body structure is composed of aluminium and composites melded together by mechanically fixed self-piercing rivets and robotic assisted adhesive bonding techniques. The bonded aluminium structure is claimed to possess more than double the torsional rigidity of its predecessor’s, despite being 25 percent lighter. The DB9 also contains anti-roll bars and double wishbone suspension, supported by coil springs. To keep the back-end in control under heavy acceleration or braking, the rear suspension has additional anti-squat and anti-lift technology. Later versions of the car also features three modes for the tuning: normal, for every-day use, sport, for more precise movement at the cost of ride comfort, and track, which furthers the effects of the sport setting. The Aston Martin DB9 Volante, the convertible version of the DB9 coupe, followed a few months later. The chassis, though stiffer, uses the same base VH platform. To protect occupants from rollovers, the Volante has strengthened windscreen pillars and added two pop-up hoops behind the rear seats. The hoops cannot be disabled and will break the car’s rear window if deployed. In an effort to improve the Volante’s ride while cruising, Aston Martin have softened the springs and lightened the anti-roll bars in the Volante, leading to a gentler suspension. The retractable roof of the Volante is made of folding fabric and takes 17 seconds to be put up or down. The Volante weighs 59 kilograms (130 pounds) more than the coupe. The coupe and Volante both share the same semi-automatic and automatic gearboxes and engine. The car was limited to 266 km/h (165 mph) to retain the integrity of the roof. Like the coupe, the original Volante has 420 lb·ft of torque at 5,000 rpm and a maximum power of 450 hp at 6,000 rpm. The 0 to 60 mph slowed to 4.9 seconds due to the additional weight. The DB9 was facelifted in July 2008, which mainly amounted to an increase in engine power, to 476 hp and a redesigned centre console. Externally, the DB9 remained virtually unchanged. For the 2013 model year revision, Aston made minor changes to the bodywork by adapting designs from the Virage, including enlarging the recessed headlight clusters with bi-xenon lights and LED daytime strips, widening the front splitter, updating the grille and side heat extractors, updating the LED rear lights with clear lenses and integrating a new rear spoiler with the boot lid. On newer models, like the coupe’s, the Volante’s horsepower and torque increased to 517 PS (510 hp) and 457 lb·ft respectively. As a finale for the model, a more powerful DB9 was released in 2015, called the DB9 GT. This had 540 bhp and 457 lb-ft of torque at 5500 rpm, giving a 0 to 60mph time of 4.4 seconds and 0 to 100mph in 10.2 seconds, with the standing quarter mile dispatched in 12.8 to 12.9 seconds and a top speed of 183mph. Production of the DB9 ended in 2016 being replaced by its successor, the DB11.
Audi models that stood out for me were this 1st generation R8 and a B8 generation RS4 Avant.
Bentley replaced the 3 Litre with a more powerful car by increasing its engine displacement to 4.5 litres. As before, Bentley supplied an engine and chassis and it was up to the buyer to arrange for their new chassis to be fitted with one of a number of body styles, most of which were saloons or tourers. Very few have survived with their four-seater coachwork intact. WO Bentley had found that success in motorsport was great publicity for the brand, and he was particularly attracted to the 2 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, the inaugural running of which took place 26–27 May 1923, attracting many drivers, mostly French. There were two foreign competitors in the first race, Frank Clement and Canadian John Duff, the latter winning the 1924 competition in his personal car, a Bentley 3 Litre. This success helped Bentley sell cars, but was not repeated, so ater two years without success, Bentley convened a group of wealthy British men, “united by their love of insouciance, elegant tailoring, and a need for speed,” to renew Bentley’s success. Both drivers and mechanics, these men, later nicknamed the “Bentley Boys”, drove Bentley automobiles to victory in several races between 1927 and 1931, including four consecutive wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and forged the brands reputation. It was within this context that, in 1927, Bentley developed the Bentley 4½ Litre. Two cylinders were removed from the 6½ Litre model, reducing the displacement to 4.4 litres. At the time, the 3 Litre and the 6½ Litre were already available, but the 3 Litre was an outdated, under-powered model and the 6½ Litre’s image was tarnished by poor tyre performance. Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin, described as “the greatest British driver of his day” by W. O. Bentley, was one of the Bentley Boys. He refused to adhere strictly to Bentley’s assertion that increasing displacement is always preferable to forced induction. Birkin, aided by a former Bentley mechanic, decided to produce a series of five supercharged models for the competition at the 24 Hours of Le Mans; thus the 4½ litre Blower Bentley was born. The first supercharged Bentley had been a 3-litre FR5189 which had been supercharged at the Cricklewood factory in the winter of 1926/7. The Bentley Blower No.1 was officially presented in 1929 at the British International Motor Show at Olympia, London. The 55 copies were built to comply with 24 Hours of Le Mans regulations. Birkin arranged for the construction of the supercharged cars having received approval from Bentley chairman and majority shareholder Woolf Barnato and financing from wealthy horse racing enthusiast Dorothy Paget. Development and construction of the supercharged Bentleys was done in a workshop in Welwyn by Amherst Villiers, who also provided the superchargers. W.O. Bentley was hostile to forced induction and believed that “to supercharge a Bentley engine was to pervert its design and corrupt its performance.” However, having lost control of the company he founded to Barnato, he could not halt Birkin’s project. Although the Bentley 4½ Litre was heavy, weighing 1,625 kg (3,583 lb), and spacious, with a length of 172 in and a wheelbase of 130.0 in, it remained well-balanced and steered nimbly. The manual transmission, however, required skill, as its four gears were unsynchronised. The robustness of the 4½ Litre’s latticed chassis, made of steel and reinforced with ties, was needed to support the heavy cast iron inline-four engine. The engine was “resolutely modern” for the time. The displacement was 4,398 cc. Two SU carburettors and dual ignition with Bosch magnetos were fitted. The engine produced 110 hp for the touring model and 130 hp for the racing model. The engine speed was limited to 4,000 rpm. A single overhead camshaft actuated four valves per cylinder, inclined at 30 degrees. This was a technically advanced design at a time where most cars used only two valves per cylinder. The camshaft was driven by bevel gears on a vertical shaft at the front of the engine, as on the 3 Litre engine. The essential difference between the Bentley 4½ Litre and the Blower was the addition of a Roots-type supercharger to the Blower engine by engineer Amherst Villiers, who had also produced the supercharger. W. O. Bentley, as chief engineer of the company he had founded, refused to allow the engine to be modified to incorporate the supercharger. As a result, the supercharger was placed at the end of the crankshaft, in front of the radiator. This gave the Blower Bentley an easily recognisable appearance and also increased the car’s understeer due to the additional weight at the front. A guard protected the two carburettors located at the compressor intake. Similar protection was used, both in the 4½ Litre and the Blower, for the fuel tank at the rear, because a flying stone punctured the 3 Litre of Frank Clement and John Duff during the first 24 Hours of Le Mans, which contributed to their defeat. The crankshaft, pistons and lubrication system were special to the Blower engine. It produced 175 hp at 3,500 rpm for the touring model and 240 hp at 4,200 rpm for the racing version, which was more power than the Bentley 6½ Litre developed. Between 1927 and 1931 the Bentley 4½ Litre competed in several competitions, primarily the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The first was the Old Mother Gun at the 1927 24 Hours of Le Mans, driven as a prototype before production. Favoured to win, it instead crashed and did not finish. Its performance was sufficient for Bentley to decide to start production and deliver the first models the same year. Far from being the most powerful in the competitions, the 4½ Litre of Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin, raced neck and neck against Charles Weymann’s Stutz Blackhawk DV16, setting a new record average speed of 69 mph; Tim Birkin and Jean Chassagne finished fifth. The next year, three 4½ Litres finished second, third, and fourth behind another Bentley, the Speed Six, which possessed two more cylinders.The naturally aspirated 4½ Litre was noted for its good reliability. The supercharged models were not; the two Blower models entered in the 1930 24 Hours of Le Mans by Dorothy Paget, one of which was co-driven by Tim Birkin, did not complete the race. In 1930, Birkin finished second in the French Grand Prix at the Circuit de Pau behind a Bugatti Type 35. Ettore Bugatti, annoyed by the performance of Bentley, called the 4½ Litre the “fastest lorry in the world.” The Type 35 is much lighter and consumes much less petrol. Blower Bentleys consume 4 litres per minute at full speed. In November 1931, after selling 720 copies of the 4½ Litre – 655 naturally aspirated and 55 supercharged – in three different models (Tourer, Drophead Coupé and Sporting Four Seater, Bentley was forced to sell his company to Rolls-Royce for £125,175, a victim of the recession that hit Europe following the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
The BMW 1 Series M Coupe (often referred to as the “1M”) is the high-performance model of the E82 coupe range, developed by BMW’s motorsport branch BMW M. While BMW naming convention would have called the car the “M1”, the name “BMW 1 Series M” was used instead, to avoid confusion with the original BMW M1. At the 2007 Tokyo Auto Show, BMW unveiled the “BMW 1 Series tii Concept”, which was thought to be a preview of the M version of the 1 Series. However, the eventual M model appeared four years later and with significant differences, such as a six-cylinders instead of four. BMW officially announced the making of the M variant of the BMW 1-Series Coupé in December 2010. The 1M coupe was BMW M’s second turbocharged engine (after the S63 V8 which debuted in the X6M). Since the 1M Coupe’s N54 engine was also used in the E89 BMW Z4 sDrive35is, the 1M Coupe is the first M model to use an engine originally released in a non-M model. The outputs for this engine are 335 bhp at 5900 rpm and 450 Nm (332 lb/ft) from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm. An additional 50 Nm (37 lb/ft) is produced during overboost taking overall peak torque to 500 Nm (369 lb/ft). The only available drivetrain is a six-speed manual gearbox with an M limited slip differential. The front and rear track widths were widened by 74 mm (2.9 in) and 46 mm (1.8 in) respectively. As a result, the overall width is 1,803 mm (71.0 in). The curb weight is 3,296 lb (1,495 kg). Initial plans were to limit production of the 1M Coupe to 2700 units; however, the final production total was 6309. Values of the car never dipped much and they are highly sought after these days.
The M2 was first revealed in Need for Speed: No Limits on November 2015, before later premiering at the North American International Auto Show in January 2016. Production commenced in October 2015 and is only available as a rear-wheel drive coupé. The M2 is powered by the turbocharged 3.0-litre N55B30T0 straight-six engine producing 365 bhp at 6,500 rpm and 465 Nm (343 lb/ft) between 1,450–4,750 rpm, while an overboost function temporarily increases torque to 500 N⋅m (369 lb⋅ft). The M2 features pistons from the F80 M3 and F82 M4, and has lighter aluminium front and rear suspension components resulting in a 5 kg (11 lb) weight reduction. The M2 is available with a 6-speed manual or with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission which features a ‘Smokey Burnout’ mode. 0-100 km/h acceleration times are 4.5 seconds manual transmission models and 4.3 seconds for models equipped with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h (155 mph) but can be extended to 270 km/h (168 mph) with the optional M Driver’s package. The M2 Competition was introduced at the 2018 Beijing Auto Show and succeeded the standard M2 Coupé. Production began in July 2018. The M2 Competition uses the high performance S55 engine which is a variant of the 3.0-litre twin turbocharged straight six engine found in the F80 M3 and F82 M4. The engine features a redesigned oil supply system and modified cooling system from the BMW M4 with the Competition Package, and also features a gasoline particulate filter in certain European Union countries to reduce emissions. Compared to the standard M2, the S55 produces an additional 30 kW (40 hp) and 85 Nm (63 lb/ft), resulting in a larger and more sustained power output of 405 bhp between 5,370–7,200 rpm, and 550 N⋅m (406 lb⋅ft) at 2,350–5,230 rpm. The 0-100 km/h acceleration time is 4.4 seconds for six-speed manual transmission models, and 4.2 seconds for models with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph), but the M Driver’s package can extend the limit to 280 km/h (174 mph) which is 10 km/h (6 mph) further than in the M2. The M2 Competition also has a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic strut bar, enlarged kidney grilles, and larger brake discs of 400 mm (15.7 in) in the front axle and 380 mm (15.0 in) in the rear axle. Because of the new engine and cooling system, the M2 Competition is 55 kg (121 lb) heavier than the standard M2 at 1,550 kg (3,417 lb) for manual transmission models and 1,575 kg (3,472 lb) for dual-clutch transmission models. It remains in production.
The classic H Van is a surprisingly common sighting in the UK, as many of these have been restored and now see service as mobile food stalls. The Citroën H Van, Type H, H-Type or HY was a panel van (light truck) produced by the French automaker Citroën between 1947 and 1981 It was developed as a simple front wheel driven van after World War II. A total of 473,289 were produced in 34 years in factories in France and Belgium. Like the 1934 Citroën Traction Avant, the H had a unitary body with no separate frame, four-wheel independent suspension, and front-wheel drive. For a commercial van, this combination provided unique benefits – a flat floor very close to the ground, and 6 ft (180 cm) standing height, with a side loading door. The distinctive corrugated body work used throughout the period of production was inspired by German Junkers (Aircraft) starting from the First World War until the 1930s, the three engined Junkers Ju 52 being the last to use this construction. Henry Ford also adopted this construction for the Ford Tri-Motor passenger aircraft. The ribs added strength without adding weight, and required only simple, low cost press tools. The flat body panels were braced on the inside by ‘top hat’ box sections, at right angles to the ribs. The welded floor was strong enough to support a horse. Most H Vans were sold in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. At the Slough Trading Estate assembly facility (1926-1966), Citroën UK built a very small number of right hand drive versions. The German market was supplied by a key competitor, the Volkswagen Type 2. As with the Volkswagen, the H Van could not be sold in the US as a commercial vehicle after 1964, due to the Chicken tax. The engine, gearbox and many smaller parts are shared with other Citroën models. The engine and gearbox are nearly identical to those in the Traction Avant and later the DS, only mounted with the engine in front of the gearbox. The headlights were identical to those of the 2CV, while speedometers were successively borrowed from the Traction Avant and the Ami 6. While the derated Traction avant 4 cylinder engine and the unsophisticated 3 speed gearbox (non syncromesh on first gear) only gave a modest top speed of just under 100 km/h, the chassis and suspension layout provided remarkable roadholding qualities, especially on the short wheelbase version: low slung chassis, engine and drivetrain well behind the front wheels axles, with very little overhangs, combined with sophisticated totally independent suspensions (the front ones used double torsion bars instead of conventional coil springs) were features scarcely found on period passenger cars. Like the contemporary Citroën 2 CV, the H type van could often be driven “pedal to the metal” on winding rural roads. The 1.9 litre motor offered more usable power than the 1.2 litre motor of its competitor, the 1950 Volkswagen Type 2. The basic design changed very little from 1947 to 1981. Vehicles left the Citroën factory with only three body styles: the standard enclosed van, a pick-up version, and a stripped-down body which went to non-Citroën coach-builders and formed the basis for the cattle-truck and other variants. The basic version had an overall length of 4.26m, but vehicles were also available in a LWB version with an overall length of 5.24m. In September 1963 the earlier style rear window – a narrow vertical window with curved corners – was replaced with a square window the same height but wider, 45 cm on each side. The bonnet was modified to give two additional rectangular air intakes at the lower edges, one for a heater, the other a dummy for symmetry. In early 1964, the split windscreen used since 1947 was replaced with a single windscreen, while in late 1964 the chevrons on the radiator grille, previously narrow aluminium strips similar to those on the Traction Avant, were replaced with the shorter, pointed style of chevrons as used on most Citroën vehicles in the last decades of the twentieth century. In November 1969 the small parking lights were discontinued, the front indicators were recessed into the wings, and the shape of the rear wings was changed from semi-circular to rectangular. Rear hinged ‘Suicide’ cab doors were used until the end of production in 1981, except on vehicles manufactured for the Dutch market where conventionally hinged doors were available from 1968.
Launched late in 1962, the Daimler V8 Saloon was essentially a rebadged Jaguar Mark 2 fitted with Daimler’s 2.5-litre 142 bhp V8 engine and drive-train, a Daimler fluted grille and rear number plate surround, distinctive wheel trims, badges, and interior details including a split-bench front seat from the Jaguar Mark 1 and a black enamel steering wheel. Special interior and exterior colours were specified. Most cars were fitted with power-assisted steering but it was optional. Automatic transmission was standard; manual, with or without overdrive, became an option in 1967. The 2.5 V8 was the first Jaguar designed car to have the Daimler badge. A casual observer, though not its driver, might mistake it for a Jaguar Mark 2. The Daimler’s stance on the road was noticeably different from a Mark 2. In April 1964 the Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic transmission was replaced by a D1/D2 type, also by Borg-Warner. A manual transmission, with or without an overdrive unit usable with the top gear, became available on British 2.5 V8 saloon in February 1967 and on export versions the following month. Cars optioned with the overdrive had the original 4.55:1 final drive ratio. In October 1967, there was a minor face-lift and re-labelling of the car to V8-250. It differed only in relatively small details: “slimline” bumpers and over-riders (shared with the Jaguar 240/340 relabelled at the same time), negative-earth electrical system, an alternator instead of a dynamo and twin air cleaners, one for each carburettor. Other new features included padding over the instrument panel, padded door cappings and ventilated leather upholstery, reclinable split-bench front seats and a heated rear window. Power steering and overdrive were optional extras. Jaguar replaced its range of saloons—the 240, the 340, the 420, and the 420G—with the XJ6 at the end of 1968. The company launched the XJ6-based Daimler Sovereign the following year to replace the Daimler saloons—the 240-based V8-250 and the 420-based Sovereign. Henceforth all new Daimlers would be re-badged Jaguars with no engineering links to the pre-1960 Daimlers.
Representing the Dodge Challenger was this 1971 model. Almost certainly a belated response by Dodge to the Mustang and Camaro, the Challenger was introduced in the autumn of 1969 for the 1970 model year, one of two Chrysler E-body cars, the other being the slightly smaller Plymouth Barracuda. Both the Challenger and Barracuda were available in a staggering number of trim and option levels, offering virtually every engine in Chrysler’s inventory. The first Barracuda had actually beaten the Mustang to market by a few weeks, but it was the Ford which really captured the public’s imagination and which came to define the sector known as the “Pony Car”. There was room for more models, as GM discovered when they produced the Camaro and Firebird in 1967. The Challenger’s longer wheelbase, larger dimensions and more luxurious interior were prompted by the launch of the 1967 Mercury Cougar, likewise a bigger, more luxurious and more expensive pony car aimed at affluent young American buyers. The wheelbase, at 110 inches was two inches longer than the Barracuda, and the Dodge differed substantially from the Plymouth in its outer sheetmetal, much as the Cougar differed from the shorter-wheelbase Ford Mustang. Air conditioning and a heated rear window were optional. Exterior design was done by Carl Cameron, who also did the exterior for the 1966 Dodge Charger. Cameron based the 1970 Challenger grille off an older sketch of his 1966 Charger prototype that was to have a turbine engine. The Charger never got the turbine, but the Challenger featured that car’s grille. Although the Challenger was well received by the public (with 76,935 produced for the 1970 model year), it was criticised by the press, and the pony car segment was already declining by the time the Challenger arrived. Sales fell dramatically after 1970, and though sales rose for the 1973 model year with over 27,800 cars being sold, Challenger production ceased midway through the 1974 model year. A total of 165,437 Challengers were sold over this generation’s lifespan.
Firmly placed in Ferrari’s history as one of their finest big GTs, the 550 Maranello’s combination of stylish Pininfarina lines and front mounted 12-cylinder engine meant this car had the potential to become an instant classic, following in the footsteps of its forebear, the 365 GTB/4 ‘Daytona’, and if you look at the way the prices are steading to go, it’s clear that the potential is being realised. Launched in 1996, and with modern styling cues, a 5.5 litre V12 engine producing around 485bhp and a reported top speed of 199mph, the 550 Maranello was a serious motor car. A less frenetic power delivery, the six speed manual box and excellent weight distribution were all factors in the 550 becoming the perfect European Grand Tourer. Ferrari updated the car to create the 575M.
After a gap of some years, Ferrari added a 4 seater V8 model to the range at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, with the California. According to industry rumours, the California originally started as a concept for a new Maserati, but the resulting expense to produce the car led the Fiat Group to badge it as a Ferrari in order to justify the high cost of purchase; the company denies this, however. The California heralded a number of firsts for Ferrari: the first front engined Ferrari with a V8; te first to feature a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission; the first with a folding metal roof; the first with multi-link rear suspension; and the first with direct petrol injection. Bosch produced the direct injection system. The engine displaces 4,297 cc, and used direct injection. It delivered 453 bhp at 7,750 rpm; its maximum torque produced was 358 lbf·ft at 5,000 rpm. The resulting 106 bhp per litre of engine displacement is one of the highest for a naturally aspirated engine, as other manufacturers have used supercharging or turbocharging to reach similar power levels. Ferrari spent over 1,000 hours in the wind tunnel with a one-third-scale model of the California perfecting its aerodynamics. With the top up, the California has a drag coefficient of Cd=0.32, making it the most aerodynamic Ferrari ever made until the introduction of the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. Throughout the California’s production, only 3 cars were built with manual transmission, including one order from the UK. On 15 February 2012, Ferrari announced an upgrade, which was lighter and more powerful. Changes include reducing body weight by 30 kg (66 lb), increased power by output of 30 PS and 11 lbf·ft, acceleration from 0–100 km/h (62 mph) time reduced to 3.8 seconds, introduction of Handling Speciale package and elimination of the manual transmission option. The car was released at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show as a 2012 model in Europe. To give the clients a more dynamic driving experience, an optional HS (Handling Speciale) package was developed as part of the update. It can be recognised by a silver coloured grille and ventilation blisters behind the front wheel wells. The HS package includes Delphi MagneRide magnetorheological dampers controlled by an ECU with 50% faster response time running patented Ferrari software, stiffer springs for more precise body control and a steering rack with a 9 per cent quicker steering ratio (2.3 turns lock to lock as opposed to the standard rack’s 2.5). A more substantive update came in 2014, with the launch of the California T, which remains in production. It featured new sheetmetal, a new interior, a revised chassis and a new turbocharged powertrain.
The latest of the V8 line is the 488 GTB, and one of there was here. Launched at the 2015 Geneva Show, the 488GTB followed the lead set by the California T in bringing turbocharging into a modern-day, mid-engined V8 Ferrari supercar for the first time. The engine is completely new when compared with its V8 stablemate, not only in components but also in feel and character. It is a twin-turbocharged 3902cc unit whilst that in the California T is 3855cc. In the 488 GTB, it produces 660bhp at 8000rpm and 560lb ft at 3000rpm. Both outputs are significant increases over the normally aspirated 4.5-litre V8 used in the 562 bhp 458 Italia and 597 bhp 458 Speciale, and also greater than the car’s biggest rival, the McLaren 650S. The torque figure of the 488 GTB is such that it also exceeds the 509lb ft at 6000rpm of the normally aspirated V12 used in the range-topping Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. The mighty new engine in the 488 GTB drives the rear wheels through a revised seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox derived from the 458. It features a new ‘Variable Torque Management’ system which, Ferrari says, “unleashes the engine’s massive torque smoothly and powerfully right across the rev range”. The gear ratios are also tuned to “deliver incredibly progressive acceleration when the driver floors the throttle”. The 488 GTB can crack 0-62mph in just 3.0sec, 0-124mph in 8.4sec and reach a top speed of 205mph. Its 0-62mph and 0-124mph times match the McLaren 650S’s, but the Woking car’s top speed is slightly higher at 207mph. The engine also accounts for the ‘488’ element of the car’s name, because each of the engine’s eight cylinders is 488cc in capacity when rounded up. The GTB suffix, standing for Gran Turismo Berlinetta, is a hallmark of previous mid-engined V8 Ferraris such as the 308 GTB. Not only is the new turbo engine more potent than the 4.5-litre V8 from the 458 Italia, but it is also more economical. Combined fuel economy is rated at 24.8mpg, compared with 21.2mpg in the 458 Italia, and CO2 emissions are 260g/km – a 47g/km improvement. Ferrari’s HELE engine stop-start system features on the 488 GTB. Developments on the dynamic side include a second generation of the Side Slip Angle Control system, called SSC2. This allows the driver to oversteer without intruding, unless it detects a loss of control. The SSC2 now controls the active dampers, in addition to the F1-Trac traction control system and E-Diff electronic differential. Ferrari says the result is “more precise and less invasive, providing greater longitudinal acceleration out of corners” and flatter, more stable behaviour during “complex manoeuvres”. Learnings from the Ferrari XX programme have also been incorporated into the 488 GTB, something that Ferrari says allows all drivers and not just professionals, to make the most of its electronic and vehicle control systems. It also claims the 488 GTB is “the most responsive production model there is”, with responses comparable to a track car. The 488 GTB has lapped Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in 1min 23sec – two seconds faster than the 458 Italia, and half a second quicker than the 458 Speciale. The dimensions of the 488 GTB – it is 4568mm in length, 1952mm in width and 1213mm in height – closely match the 458 Italia from which it has evolved. Its dry weight is 1370kg when equipped with lightweight options – 40kg more than the McLaren 650S. The new look, styled at the Ferrari Styling Centre, features several new aerodynamic features that improve downforce and reduce drag. Most notable is the addition of active aerodynamics at the rear through a ‘blown’ rear spoiler, where air is channelled from the base of the glass engine cover under the spoiler. This contributes to the 50% increase in downforce over the 458 Italia. Also new is a double front spoiler, an aerodynamic underbody, a large air intake at the front that references the 308 GTB, a diffuser with active flaps, new positioning for the exhaust flaps and new-look lights. The interior has been redesigned to be made more usable, including new switchgear, air vents and instrument panel. The multi-function steering wheel remains, while the infotainment system gets a new interface and graphics. The Spider followed the closed coupe model six months later, and it has become the bigger seller of the pair, as was the case with the 458 models.
The Tipo (Type 160 in development speak) was styled by the I.DE.A Institute design house, and produced between 1988 and 1995. The Tipo was initially available only as a five door hatchback. The car was made entirely out of galvanised body panels to avoid rust, and was built on a completely new Fiat platform, which was later used on Fiat, Alfa-Romeo, and Lancia models. It stood out because of its boxy styling that gave it innovative levels of packaging, rear passenger room being greater than that in a rear-wheel-drive Ford Sierra, but in a car that was of a similar size to the smaller Ford Escort. This type of design was comparable to the smaller Fiat Uno, which was launched five years earlier. For 1989, the Tipo won the European Car of the Year award. Unveiled in January 1988, the Tipo went on sale in Europe during June 1988, and on the right-hand drive UK market from 16 July 1988, initially base (i.e.), DGT, (early Italian market DGT models were badged as ‘digit’, presumably in recognition of the digital dash, but this was quickly changed to DGT after a dispute over ownership of the name, leading to confusion about whether the model was diesel-powered) S, SX and 16v trim levels were available. Power outputs ranged from 57 to 146 bhp, with a engines of 1.1, 1.4, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.8 16v, 2.0, and 2.0 16v litre petrol engines, as well as a 1.7 and 1.9 diesel, and 1.9 turbodiesel, though not all of these were available in all markets. The 1.1 base engine was widely regarded as underpowered for the car, which was otherwise roomy for five adults and with above average equipment. This version was never sold in the UK, which initially received only the 1.4 and 1.6 versions of the Tipo, with the 1.8 and 2.0 petrol engines and the diesel powered units not being imported until the early 1990s. The smaller Uno had been a huge success there during the 1980s (peaking at more than 40,000 sales in 1988) and it was widely expected by both Fiat and by the motoring press that the Tipo would prove similarly successful, not least as the car launched into a favourable market in the UK, where none of the “big three” (Ford, Vauxhall, and Austin Rover) had launched an all new car of this size for at least four years. However, these three marques all had new Tipo sized products within three years, and increased competition reduced the Tipo’s sales. Initially it won plaudits for its innovative and practical design, as well as its good handling. It was originally sold with only 1.4 and 1.6 petrol engines, although the 16 valve 1.8 and 2.0 engines with fuel injection became available in the early 1990s. The digital dashboard of higher end models proved to be controversial and unreliable. The addition of the more powerful models did little to help, even though these were pretty good. The top of the range was the 2.0 Sedicivalvole (16 valves), which took its engine from the Lancia Thema, and with a much smaller and lighter bodyshell to house it, this power unit brought superb performance and handling, and a top speed of around 130 mph (210 km/h), which made it faster than the Volkswagen Golf GTI of that era. Many thought it to be one of the best cars in its class at the time. The Tipo was facelifted in 1993 and a three door version was added, as well as minor exterior changes (the two evolutions of the car can be differentiated by their slightly different radiator grilles and headlamps) and improved specifications; safety features like stiffer bodyshells, driver’s airbag, and side impact bars were added to the range. This included the new S, SX, and SLX trim levels, as well as a new eight valve 2.0 GT model. The Tipo ceased production in the summer of 1995, and was replaced by the three door Fiat Bravo and five-door Fiat Brava.
Presented in what a livery that is a tribute to the Alan Mann prepared race cars of the 1960s was this Mark 1 Lotus Cortina. As well as the regular cars, there were also Lotus-Cortina models here. The history of this version began in 1961, before the launch of Ford’s family saloon. Colin Chapman had been wishing to build his own engines for Lotus, mainly because the Coventry Climax unit was so expensive and his chance came when he commissioned Harry Mundy (a close friend and designer of the Coventry Climax engine and technical editor for Autocar) to design a twin-cam version of the Ford Kent engine. Most of the development of the engine was done on the 997cc and 1,340cc bottom end, but in 1962 Ford released the 116E five bearing 1,499 cc engine and work centred on this. Keith Duckworth, from Cosworth, played an important part in tuning of the engine. The engine’s first appearance was in 1962 at the Nürburgring in a Lotus 23 driven by Jim Clark. Almost as soon as the engine appeared in production cars (Lotus Elan), it was replaced with a larger capacity unit (82.55 mm bore to give 1,557 cc). This was in order to get the car closer to the 1.6 litre capacity class in motorsport. Whilst the engine was being developed, Walter Hayes (Ford) asked Colin Chapman if he would fit the engine to 1,000 Ford saloons for Group 2 homologation. Chapman quickly accepted, although it must have been very busy in the Cheshunt plant, with the Elan about to be launched. The Type 28 or Lotus Cortina or Cortina Lotus (as Ford liked to call it) was duly launched. Ford supplied the 2-door Cortina bodyshells and took care of all the marketing and selling of the cars, whilst Lotus did all the mechanical and cosmetic changes. The major changes involved installing the 1,557 cc 105 bhp engine, together with the same close-ratio gearbox as the Elan. The rear suspension was drastically altered and lightweight alloy panels were used for doors, bonnet and boot. Lightweight casings were fitted to gearbox and differential. All the Lotus factory cars were painted white with a green stripe (although Ford built some for racing in red, and one customer had a dark blue stripe due to being superstitious about green). The cars also received front quarter bumpers and round Lotus badges were fitted to rear wings and to the right side of the radiator grille. Interior modifications were limited to a centre console designed to accommodate the new gear lever position, different seats and the later style dashboard, featuring tachometer, speedometer, oil pressure, water temperature and fuel level gauges. A wood-rimmed steering wheel was fitted. The suspension changes to the car were quite extensive; the car received shorter struts up front, forged track control arms and 5.5J by 13 steel wheel rims. The rear was even more radical with vertical coil spring/dampers replacing the leaf springs and two trailing arms with a A- bracket (which connected to the differential housing and brackets near the trailing arm pivots) sorting out axle location. To support this set-up, further braces were put behind the rear seat and from the rear wheelarch down to chassis in the boot. The stiffening braces meant that the spare wheel had to be moved from the standard Cortina’s wheel well and was bolted to the left side of the boot floor. The battery was also relocated to the boot, behind the right wheelarch. Both of these changes made big improvements to overall weight distribution. Another improvement the Cortina Lotus gained was the new braking system (9.5 in front discs) which were built by brake specialist Girling. This system also was fitted to Cortina GTs but without a servo, which was fitted in the Cortina Lotus engine bay. Initially, the engines were built by J. A Prestwich of Tottenham and then Villiers of Wolverhampton. In 1966, Lotus moved to Hethel in Norwich where they had their own engine building facilities. The Cortina Lotus used a 8.0 in diaphragm-spring clutch, whereas Ford fitted coil-spring clutches to the rest of the range. The remainder of the gearbox was identical to the Lotus Elan. This led to a few problems because although the ultra-close gear ratios were perfect for the race track or open road, the clutch was given a hard time in traffic. The ratios were later changed. The early cars were very popular and earned some rave reviews; one magazine described the car as a tin-top version of a Lotus 7. It was ‘THE car’ for many enthusiasts who before had to settle for a Cortina GT or a Mini-Cooper and it also amazed a lot of the public who were used to overweight ‘sports cars’ like the Austin-Healey 3000. The launch was not perfect however, the car was too specialist for some Ford dealerships who did not understand the car; there are a few stories of incorrect parts being fitted at services. There were a few teething problems reported by the first batch of owners, (most of these problems show how quickly the car was developed) some of the engines were down on power, the gear ratios were too close and the worst problem was the differential housing coming away from the casing. This problem was mainly caused by the high loads put on the axle because of the A bracket it was an integral part of the rear suspension. This was made even worse by the fact any oil lost from the axle worked its way on to the bushes of the A bracket. There were 4 main updates made to the Mk1 Lotus during its production to solve some of these problems. The first change was a swap to a two-piece prop shaft and the lighter alloy transmission casing were changed for standard Ford items; this also included swapping the ultra close ratio gears for Cortina GT gear ratios, the main difference was 1st, 2nd and reverse were much higher ratios. from 1964, standard panels were used rather than the light alloy ones. Alloy items and ultra-close ratios coulds be specified when buying new cars. The 2nd main change came in late 1964 when the entire Cortina range had a facelift which included a full width front grille and aeroflow outlets in the rear quarters because the Cortina Lotus also gained Ford’s new ventilation system which also included an update to the interior. The third and probably most important change came in mid-1965, when the Lotus rear suspension was changed for the leaf springs and radius arms of the Cortina GT. This replaced all the stiffening tubing as well. The last update also came in 1965 when the rear drums were swapped for self-adjusting items and also the famous 2000E gearbox ratios were used. These lowered 1st and reverse about halfway between the Cortina GT ratios and the ultra close-ratio box. All these changes made the cars less specialised but far more reliable and all the special parts were still available for competition as well as to members of the public. The Cortina Lotus had by this time earned an impressive competition reputation. It was also being made in left hand drive when production finished around late 1966 and the Mk2 took over. 3306 examples were made. It is sometimes suggested that the survival rate is well in excess of that, with many cars being created out of non-Lotus models. There certainly are plenty of those around, so it really is a case of “buyer beware” if in the market to acquire one of these cars.
The Ford Escort RS Cosworth is a sports derivative and rally homologation special of the fifth generation European Ford Escort. It was designed to qualify as a Group A car for the World Rally Championship, in which it competed between 1993 and 1998. It was available as a road car from 1992–96 in very limited numbers. Ford developed the car around the chassis and mechanicals of its spiritual predecessor, the Sierra Cosworth to accommodate the larger Cosworth engine and transmission, whilst clothing it in Escort body panels to make it resemble the standard car. Designed under the guidance of Rod Mansfield and John Wheeler of Ford’s SVO department, the styling was carried out during 1989, a year before the standard Escort was launched, by Stephen Harper at MGA Developments in Coventry. The spoiler was added by Frank Stephenson, who originally proposed a three-deck piece. The body tooling was created by coachbuilders Karmann at their facility in Rheine, Germany, where the cars were manufactured. Changes were made to the engine management system and a new turbocharger was fitted. Permanent four wheel drive with a 34/66% front/rear split came courtesy of an uprated five speed gearbox as used in the Sierra Cosworth. Recaro sports seats came as a standard fitment. Later production models were available without the oversize tail spoiler although by far the majority were still ordered with it. Like its Sierra predecessor, they are commonly nicknamed “Cossie” by enthusiasts. The car’s top speed was 150 mph, which rivalled lower-end supercars including the Audi Quattro, BMW M3, Nissan 300ZX and Toyota Supra, and comfortably outperformed traditional “hot hatchbacks” like the Volkswagen Golf GTI. It was much faster than the 126 mph which the Escort RS2000 and earlier Escort RS Turbo were capable of. Two versions were produced. The initial 2,500 units were “homologation specials” used to get the FIA accreditation for entry into the World Rally Championship. They were fitted with a Garrett T3/T04B turbocharger. Among these initial units, a handful were badged as Motorsport versions, these lacked certain refinements such as a sunroof and sound deadening. The initial cars included features that, although they made the Cosworth a more effective car, did not enhance it as a road vehicle, and once the rules were satisfied Ford attempted to make the car less temperamental and easier to drive under normal conditions. The second generation, starting production from late 1994, were fitted with a Garrett T25 turbocharger, a smaller unit which reduced turbo lag and increased usability in everyday driving situations. With these later models, the ‘whale tail’ spoiler became a delete option. . The Escort Cosworth was a rare car, with 7,145 vehicles produced from the start of production on 19 February 1992 until the last car rolled out of the factory on 12 January 1996.
Most recently, the most sporting Fords have been the RS versions of the Focus. On each occasion there was been a long wait for the car after the launch of the cooking models. The regular second generation cars were released in late 2004. An ST version followed very quickly, and for a long time, Ford maintained that was the only sporty Focus there was going to be. Finally, on December 17, 2007 Ford of Europe confirmed that a Mk 2 Focus RS would be launched in 2009, with a concept version due in mid-2008. t with an upgraded Duratec ST engine with 305PS Duratec RS, gearbox, suspension, and LSD. In 2008, Ford revealed the new Focus RS in “concept” form at the British International Motor Show. Contrary to numerous rumours and speculation, the RS was announced by Ford to have a conventional FWD layout. The Duratec RS engine was upgraded to produce 301 bhp and 325 lb/ft of torque. 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration was quoted to be under 6 seconds. The RS used a modified Volvo -engineered 2,522cc five-cylinder engine found in the Focus ST. A larger Borg Warner K16 turbo now delivers up to 20.3-psi of boost. A new air-to-air intercooler has been developed as a complement, while the forged crankshaft, silicon-aluminum pistons, graphite-coated cylinder bores, 8.5:1 compression ratio and variable valve timing also up the power output. The car remained front wheel drive, but to reduce torque steer used a Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing LSD, and a specially designed MacPherson strut suspension at the front called RevoKnuckle, which provided a lower scrub radius and kingpin offset than traditional designs while avoiding the increased weight and complexity of double wishbone and multi-link suspension setups. Ford UK claim: “It’s as close as you’ll come to driving a full-spec rally car (Ford Focus RS WRC). The production car was finally unveiled on 5 January 2009. It looked very distinctive, as at the rear a large venturi tunnel and a dramatic rear spoiler created a purposeful look. It was available in three expressive exterior colours: Ultimate Green, Performance Blue and Frozen White. The ‘Ultimate’ Green was a modern reinterpretation of the classic 1970s Ford Le Mans Green of the Ford Escort RS1600 era.
A rather different Ford is this one, a Camper based on the US F150 model of the mid 1960s. This is based on the fourth generation of the F150 range. Ford introduced a dramatically new style of pickup in 1961 with the fourth generation F-Series. Longer and lower than its predecessors, these trucks had increased dimensions and new engine and gearbox choices. Additionally, the 1961–1963 models offered an optional unibody design with the cab and bed integrated. The traditional separate cab/bed was offered concurrently. The unibody proved unpopular, and Ford discontinued the option after the 1963 model year. In 1965, the F-Series was given a significant mid-cycle redesign. A completely new platform, including the “Twin I-Beam” front suspension, was introduced that would be used until 1996 on the F-150 and until 2016 on the F-250/350 4×2. Additionally that year, the Ranger name made its first appearance on a Ford pickup; previously a base model of the Edsel, it was now used to denote a high-level styling package for F-Series pickups The fifth generation came in 1967 and was visually quite similar to this one, but was larger in every key dimension.
Sitting below the Hunter in the Hillman range of the 1970s was the Avenger, a conventionally engineered small saloon that competed with the Ford Escort and Vauxhall Viva. 1250 and 1500cc models from launch were upgraded to 1300 and 1600cc in the autumn of 1973 and these garnered the majority of sales, but they are not the cars that have survived in the greatest numbers. The ones that you most often see now are the Tiger models. Named to evoke memories of the Sunbeam Tiger, the Avenger Tiger concept began as a publicity exercise. Avenger Super (four-door) cars were modified by the Chrysler Competitions Centre under Des O’ Dell and the Tiger model was launched in March 1972. Modifications included the 1500 GT engine with an improved cylinder head with enlarged valves, twin Weber carburettors and a compression ratio of 9.4:1. The engine now developed 92.5 bhp at 6,100 rpm. The suspension was also uprated, whilst brakes, rear axle, and gearbox are directly from the GT. The cars were all painted in a distinctive yellow called Sundance and they featured a bonnet bulge, whilst a rear spoiler and side stripes were standard, set off with “Avenger Tiger” lettering on the rear quarters. They are also distinguished by the fact that have rectangular headlights. Road test figures demonstrated a 0–60 mph time of 8.9 seconds and a top speed of 108 mph, which beat the rival Ford Escort Mexico, but fuel consumption was heavy. All Avenger Tigers were assembled by the Chrysler Competitions Centre and production figures are vague but around 200 of the initial Mark 1 seems likely. In October 1972, Chrysler unveiled the more “productionised” Mark 2 Tiger. The Avenger GL bodyshell with four round headlights was used. Mechanically identical to the earlier cars, the bonnet bulge was lost although the bonnet turned matt black, and there were changes to wheels and seats. These cars went on sale at £1,350. Production was around 400. These were available in a bright red colour called Wardance as well as the earlier Sundance, both with black detailing. Seen here was an Avenger GLS.
Replacement for the XK models came in 1961 with the E Type, and it stunned the world at its premier at the 1961 Geneva Show. Considered by many to be Sir William Lyons’ greatest achievement, not only did the car have stop-you-in-your-tracks gorgeous styling, but it had explosive performance (even if the 150 mph that was achieved in The Autocar’s Road Test is now known to have been with a little “help”), but it was the price that amazed people more than anything else. Whilst out of reach for most people, who could barely afford any new car, it was massively cheaper than contemporary Aston Martins and Ferraris, its market rivals. It was not perfect, though, and over the coming years, Jaguar made constant improvements. A 2+2 model joined the initial range of Roadster and Coupe, and more powerful and larger engines came when the 3.8 litre was enlarged to 4.2 litres, before more significant styling changes came with the 1967 Series 2 and the 1971 Series 3, where new front end treatments and lights were a consequence of legislative demands of the E Type’s most important market, America. There was a nice example of the Series 1 here.
Lancia launched the Delta in 1979, as what we would now think of as a “premium hatch”. Offered in 1300 and 1500cc engines, this car, which collected the prestigious “Car of the year” award a few months later, brought Italian style and an expensive feeling interior to a new and lower price point in the market than Lancia had occupied since the early days of the Fulvia some 15 years earlier. The range grew first when a model was offered using the 4 speed AP automatic transmission and then in late 1982, more powerful models started to appear, with first a 1600cc engine, and then one with fuel injection, before the introduction of the HF Turbo. All these cars kept the same appearance and were quite hard to tell apart. These were the volume models of the range, but now they are very definitely the rare ones, as it is the performance versions which have survived and are now much loved classics, even though relatively were sold when they were new, thanks to a combination of the fact that they were quite costly and that they only ever came with left hand drive. The Integrale evolved over several years, starting off as the HF Turbo 4WD that was launched in April 1986, to homologate a new rally car for Lancia who needed something to fill the void left by the cancellation of Group B from the end of 1986. The Delta HF 4X4 had a four-wheel drive system with an in-built torque-splitting action. Three differentials were used. Drive to the front wheels was linked through a free-floating differential; drive to the rear wheels was transmitted via a 56/44 front/rear torque-splitting Ferguson viscous-coupling-controlled epicyclic central differential. At the rear wheels was a Torsen (torque sensing) rear differential. It divided the torque between the wheels according to the available grip, with a maximum lockup of 70%. The basic suspension layout of the Delta 4WD remained the same as in the rest of the two-wheel drive Delta range: MacPherson strut–type independent suspension with dual-rate dampers and helicoidal springs, with the struts and springs set slightly off-centre. The suspension mounting provided more isolation by incorporating flexible rubber links. Progressive rebound bumpers were adopted, while the damper rates, front and rear toe-in and the relative angle between springs and dampers were all altered. The steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. The car looked little different from the front wheel drive models. In September 1987, Lancia showed a more sophisticated version of the car, the Lancia Delta HF Integrale 8V. This version incorporated some of the features of the Delta HF 4WD into a road car. The engine was an 8-valve 2 litre fuel injected 4-cylinder, with balancing shafts. The HF version featured new valves, valve seats and water pump, larger water and oil radiators, more powerful cooling fan and bigger air cleaner. A larger capacity Garrett T3 turbocharger with improved air flow and bigger inter-cooler, revised settings for the electronic injection/ignition control unit and a knock sensor, boosting power output to 185 bhp at 5300 rpm and maximum torque of 224 lb/ft at 3500 rpm. The HF Integrale had permanent 4-wheel drive, a front transversely mounted engine and five-speed gearbox. An epicyclic centre differential normally split the torque 56 per cent to the front axle, 44 per cent to the rear. A Ferguson viscous coupling balanced the torque split between front and rear axles depending on road conditions and tyre grip. The Torsen rear differential further divided the torque delivered to each rear wheel according to grip available. A shorter final drive ratio (3.111 instead of 2.944 on the HF 4WD) matched the larger 6.5×15 wheels to give 24 mph/1000 rpm in fifth gear. Braking and suspension were uprated to 284 mm ventilated front discs, a larger brake master cylinder and servo, as well as revised front springs, dampers, and front struts. Next update was to change the engine from 8 valves to 16. The 16v Integrale was introduced at the 1989 Geneva Motorshow, and made a winning debut on the 1989 San Remo Rally. It featured a raised centre of the bonnet to accommodate the new 16 valve engine, as well as wider wheels and tyres and new identity badges front and rear. The torque split was changed to 47% front and 53% rear. The turbocharged 2-litre Lancia 16v engine now produced 200 bhp at 5500 rpm, for a maximum speed of 137 mph and 0–100 km/h in 5.5 seconds. Changes included larger injectors, a more responsive Garrett T3 turbocharger, a more efficient intercooler, and the ability to run on unleaded fuel without modification. The first Evoluzione cars were built at the end of 1991 and through 1992. These were to be the final homologation cars for the Lancia Rally Team; the Catalytic Evoluzione II was never rallied by the factory. The Evoluzione I had a wider track front and rear than earlier Deltas. The bodyside arches were extended and became more rounded. The wings were now made in a single pressing. The front strut top mounts were also raised, which necessitated a front strut brace. The new Integrale retained the four wheel drive layout. The engine was modified to produce 210 bhp at 5750 rpm. External changes included: new grilles in the front bumper to improve the air intake for engine compartment cooling; a redesigned bonnet with new lateral air slats to further assist underbonnet ventilation; an adjustable roof spoiler above the tailgate; new five-bolt wheels with the same design of the rally cars; and a new single exhaust pipe. Interior trim was now grey Alcantara on the Recaro seats, as fitted to the earlier 16V cars; leather and air conditioning were offered as options, as well as a leather-covered Momo steering wheel. Presented in June 1993, the second Evolution version of the Delta HF Integrale featured an updated version of the 2-litre 16-valve turbo engine to produce more power, as well as a three-way catalyst and Lambda probe. A Marelli integrated engine control system with an 8 MHz clock frequency which incorporates: timed sequential multipoint injection; self-adapting injection times; automatic idling control; engine protection strategies depending on the temperature of intaken air; Mapped ignition with two double outlet coils; Three-way catalyst and pre-catalyst with lambda probe (oxygen sensor) on the turbine outlet link; anti-evaporation system with air line for canister flushing optimised for the turbo engine; new Garrett turbocharger: water-cooled with boost-drive management i.e. boost controlled by feedback from the central control unit on the basis of revs/throttle angle; Knock control by engine block sensor and new signal handling software for spark park advance, fuel quantity injected, and turbocharging. The engine now developed 215 PS as against 210 PS on the earlier uncatalysed version and marginally more torque. The 1993 Integrale received a cosmetic and functional facelift that included. new 16″ light alloy rims with 205/45 ZR 16 tyres; body colour roof moulding to underline the connection between the roof and the Solar control windows; aluminium fuel cap and air-intake grilles on the front mudguards; red-painted cylinder head; new leather-covered three-spoke MOMO steering wheel; standard Recaro seats upholstered in beige Alcantara with diagonal stitching. In its latter years the Delta HF gave birth to a number of limited and numbered editions, differing mainly in colour, trim and equipment; some were put on general sale, while others were reserved to specific markets, clubs or selected customers.
First Lotus I came across was this splendid example of the Esprit Turbo. The silver Italdesign concept that eventually became the Esprit was unveiled at the Turin Motor Show in 1972 as a concept car, and was a development of a stretched Lotus Europa chassis. It was among the first of designer Giorgetto Giugiaro’s polygonal “folded paper” designs. Originally, the name Kiwi was proposed, but in keeping with the Lotus tradition of having all car model names start with the letter “E”, the name became Esprit. The production Esprit was launched in October 1975 at the Paris Auto Show, and went into production in June 1976, replacing the Europa in the Lotus model lineup. These first cars eventually became known as S1 Esprits. With a steel backbone chassis and a fibreglass body, the Esprit was powered by the Lotus 907 4-cylinder engine, as previously used in the Jensen Healey. This engine displaced 2.0 litre, produced 160 bhp in European trim 140 bhp in US/Federal trim, and was mounted longitudinally behind the passengers, as in its predecessor. The transaxle gearbox was a 5-speed manual unit, previously used in the Citroën SM and Maserati Merak; it featured inboard rear brakes, as was racing practice at the time. The Series 1 embodied Lotus’ performance through light weight mantra, weighing less than 1,000 kg (2,205 lb). The original Esprit was lauded for its handling and is said to have the best steering of any Esprit. However, it was generally regarded as lacking power, especially in markets such as the United States where the engine was down-rated for emissions purposes. Lotus’ claim of 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 138 mph may be thought of as optimistic – actual road test times indicated 0-60 mph in 8 seconds and a top speed of around 133 mph. The S1 Esprit can be distinguished from later Esprits by a shovel-style front air dam, Fiat X1/9 tail lights, lack of body-side ducting, and Wolfrace alloy wheels. Inside the car, the most obvious indication of an S1 Esprit is a one-piece instrument cluster with green-faced Veglia gauges. The car gained fame through its appearance in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) where a fictionally-modified version was featured in a long action sequence. Bond’s Esprit car is first chased on road, by a motorcycle, then by another car, and then a helicopter, then converts into a submarine for an undersea battle. A series of improvements made to the Esprit during its initial run culminated in the S2 Esprit, which was introduced in 1978. The most obvious of these changes are intake and cooling duct “ears” located behind the rear quarter window, tail lights from the Rover SD1, and an integrated front spoiler. S2 Esprits also used 14-inch Speedline alloy wheels designed specifically for Lotus. Other changes included relocating the battery from above the right side fuel tank (under the rear quarter window) to the rear of the car, adding an access door to the engine cover, as well as replacing the instrument cluster made by Veglia with individual gauges made by Smiths and using different style of switches on the dashboard. During this era, a special edition car was released to commemorate Lotus’s racing victories and their victory in the 1978 F1 World Championship. Sharing the black and gold colour scheme of Lotus’ then F1 sponsor, John Player & Sons, these cars are commonly known as the John Player Special (JPS) Esprits. The “JPS” Esprit has the same mechanicals as the regular two-litre S2. According to Lotus themselves a limited series of 300 was built, but most likely the total was considerably lower.Lotus’ records of production figures are notoriously vague, but best estimates suggest that 149 JPS Esprits were produced. The S2.2 was produced as a stop-gap model from May 1980, almost identical to the S2 but with an enlarged (2.2 litre) type 912 engine used. This kept horsepower the same, but bumped up torque from 140 lb·ft to 160 lb·ft. Importantly, the S2.2 also introduced the use of a galvanised chassis, although it did not benefit from the succeeding S3’s chassis improvements. These cars are extremely rare even among Esprits: according to Lotus themselves, only 88 were produced in its thirteen-month production span. In 1980 the first factory turbocharged Esprit was launched. Initially, this was another special edition model commemorating F1 ties and reflecting current sponsorship, this time in the blue, red and chrome livery of Essex Petroleum, and is therefore known as the Essex Esprit. The new turbocharged dry-sump type 910 engine produced 210 hp and 200 lb·ft of torque. 0-60 mph could be achieved in 6.1 seconds, with a top speed of 150 mph. These performance improvements were coupled to a redesign and strengthening of the chassis and rear suspension, where an upper link was added to alleviate strain on the driveshafts, along with brake improvements. The Essex cars introduced a Giugiaro-designed aerodynamic body kit with a rear lip spoiler, prominent louvered rear hatch, more substantial bumpers, a deeper front airdam, and air ducts in the sills just ahead of the rear wheels, which were 15″ Compomotive three piece items. Internally, scarlet leather, combined with a roof-mounted Panasonic stereo, made for a dramatic environment. 45 Essex Esprits were built, interspersed and followed by a number of non Essex-liveried but otherwise identical specification dry-sump turbo cars. Two Essex-spec Turbo Esprits – one in white and the other in copper – were featured in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981), although these were scripted as the same vehicle – the white one was destroyed by an anti-burglar explosion system in Spain, while the copper red one was a “rebuild” of the original (actually a joke between Bond and Q in the latter’s laboratory), and was fully functional (the copper exterior paint colour for the replacement car was chosen to make the car stand out more in filming against the snowy background of Cortina, Italy, the only locale in which it appears). By the close of 1980, Lotus was effectively building three different models of Esprit, with distinct chassis designs and body moulds – the Domestic S2.2, the Export S2.2, and the dry-sump Turbo Esprit. Introduced in April 1981, the Turbo Esprit and S3 Esprits marked a necessary consolidation: both new models had a common chassis, inheriting much of the configuration of the Essex cars, whilst body production was based on a single common set of moulds. The S3 continued to use the 2.2 litre type 912 engine of the S2.2, whilst the Turbo Esprit reverted to a less complex wet-sump lubrication system, retaining the power and torque outputs of its dry-sump predecessor. The interior for both cars was revised and featured new trim; combined with changes to the body moulds this resulted in more headroom and an enlarged footwell. Externally, the Turbo Esprit retained the full aerodynamic body kit of the Essex cars, and featured prominent ‘turbo esprit’ decals on the nose and sides; the S3 gained the more substantial bumpers, yet retained the simpler sill line and glazed rear hatch of the S2.2 body style. Both models were supplied with 15″ BBS alloy wheels. For the 1985 model year, the S3 and Turbo underwent some slight alterations to the bodywork and to the front suspension. In April 1986, the final incarnations of the Giugiaro-styled Esprit were announced, with raised engine compression giving rise to the ‘HC’ moniker. This increased the output of the naturally aspirated engine to 172 hp and 160 lb·ft for the Esprit HC, and to 215 hp and 220 lb·ft for the Turbo Esprit HC, with the increased torque available at a lower rpm. For markets with stringent emissions requirements (mainly the United States), Lotus introduced the HCi variant, teaming the higher compression engine with Bosch KE-Jetronic fuel injection and a catalytic converter- the first fuel-injected Esprits. This engine had the same peak power as the carburettor version, but at a somewhat higher engine speed, and torque dropped to 202 lb·ft. A revised version was launched in the autumn of 1987.
Quite a rarity these days, even though it is believed that there are still almost 200 of these cars left in the UK, was this Eclat. Based on the Elite, the Eclat Series 1 (1975–1980) was announced in October 1975. It used a 1973 cc 160 hp Lotus 907 Slant Four engine. Later cars (1980–1982) used a larger 2174 cc Lotus 912 engine, however, because of emission regulations modifications it still only produced 160 hp. It did, however, produce more torque and thus improved the car’s performance. Both were versions of the Lotus 900 series engine series, which was also used in naturally aspirated and turbo charged versions in the Lotus Esprit. Early cars either had a four speed Ford gearbox or the five speed gearbox derived by Lotus from Austin Maxi components. Later cars used a Getrag five speed gearbox. Some cars (524) were fitted with three-speed automatic gearboxes. The Eclat had disc brakes at the front, and inboard drum brakes at the rear. Air conditioning and power steering were offered as options. The different equipments of the Series 1 cars were called 520, 521, 522, 523, and 524. The 520 has a four-speed transmission, a Ford bolt pattern, steel wheels, and smaller brakes. The remainder of the range have a 114.3 mm bolt pattern, the same disc brakes as the Elite, and GKN alloy wheels. They also received a twin exhaust and various other comfort items such as a clock and a cigar lighter. The 522 added power steering and the 523 also received air conditioning. The 524 is like the 523 but with the automatic transmission. Some other cars were also fitted with the automatic, and Lotus accommodated a variety of changes to the cars. There were also sporty versions of the 520 and 521 called the Eclat Sprint, with a black-and-white paint job, an oil cooler, and a variety of other performance upgrades. Approximately 1500 examples of the Eclat were produced. The original mild steel chassis fitted by Lotus had a strip of felt fitted between body and the steel cross-member of the chassis. In damp climates, the felt became a water trap and caused structural corrosion, resulting in a crumbling rear chassis. Chassis replacement was initially not cost effective on the Eclat and Elite, and in consequence resale values suffered. Series 2 cars were fitted with a galvanised chassis as standard and a large number of Series 1 vehicles have had replacements fitted, which are usually galvanised. The car was well received by the motoring press, which praised the car’s handling and grip.The fuel consumption was also considered reasonable at the time, in comparison with the larger and multi cylinder engines used in competitor GT cars. In 1981 Lotus introduced the Type 84, called the Lotus Eclat S 2.2 Riviera. This model, which was available for two years, came with a removable roof panel, aircon, vented bonnet and rear spoiler. Production totalled 223 units. In 1982, the Eclat was developed into the Eclat Excel (later badged simply as the Lotus Excel), which used the same engine, but a modified version of the chassis, altered bodywork, and Toyota gearbox, driveline, and brakes.
There were a couple of examples of the successor here, the Excel. Known internally as the Type 89, the Excel, built from 1982 to 1992, was a development of the earlier Lotus Eclat, which itself was based on the Type 75 Elite. Although a promising design, the Elite and Eclat had suffered from numerous quality control issues which were difficult for owners to accept given the price of the cars. The Excel was a concerted effort to address these, and it stood every chance of so doing, as it took advantage of the relationship with Toyota. This had started when Toyota engaged Lotus to assist with engineering work on the Supra. During this period, Toyota then became a major shareholder in Lotus. Part of the deal between the two included the use of many Toyota mechanical components in Lotus’ cars. The original Excel (aka the Eclat Excel) used the W58 manual transmission, driveshafts, rear differential, 14×7 in alloy wheels, and door handles from the Supra Mk II, which was made from 1982 to 1986. The engine was the familiar all-aluminium, DOHC 2.2 litre Lotus 912 Slant Four which was also used in the Lotus Esprit S3. During its lifetime, the Excel received two major upgrades. With the introduction of the Excel SE which had a 180 bhp engine vs the standard 160 bhp car in October 1985, the bumpers, wing and interior was changed, including a new dashboard. In October 1986 the Excel SA with automatic gearbox was introduced. Further facelifts in 1989 saw Citroën-derived mirrors, as featured on the Esprit, and 15 inch OZ alloy wheels to a similar pattern as the Esprit’s. According to Lotus records, only 1 Excel was manufactured to USA specification. The lack of release in the USA was due to the high emission regulations (which would hinder the car’s performance), and poor sales of the car in Europe.
There has only ever been one front wheel drive model with Lotus badges on it, the “M100” Elan sports car. Like many specialist produced cars of the era, there was a long wait for this car form when news first broke that it was under development to the actual release of cars people could buy. The M100 Elan story goes back to 1986 and the purchase of Lotus by General Motors which provided the financial backing to develop a new, small, affordable car in the same spirit as the original Elan, the last of which had been built in December 1972. A development prototype, the M90 (later renamed the X100) had been built a few years earlier, using a fibreglass body designed by Oliver Winterbottom and a Toyota-supplied 1.6-litre engine and transmission. Lotus was hoping to sell the car through Toyota dealerships worldwide, badged as a Lotus Toyota, but the project never came to fruition and the prototype was shelved, although Lotus’s collaboration with Toyota had some influence on the design of the Toyota MR2. The idea of a small roadster powered by an outsourced engine remained, however, and in late 1986 Peter Stevens’s design for the Type M100 was approved and work began by Lotus engineers to turn the clay styling buck into a car that could be built. This process was completed in just under three years, a remarkably short time from design to production car. The M100 Elan was conceived as a mass-market car and in particular one that would appeal to US buyers. Consequently, Lotus put an enormous effort (for such a small firm) into testing the car; over a two-year period 19 crash cars and 42 development vehicles were built, logging nearly a million test miles in locations from Arizona to the Arctic. The Elan was driven at racing speeds for 24 hours around the track at Snetterton. Finally each new car was test-driven for around 30 miles at Lotus’s Hethel factory to check for any manufacturing defects before being shipped to dealers. The choice of front-wheel drive is unusual for a sports car, but according to Lotus sales literature, “for a given vehicle weight, power and tyre size, a front wheel drive car was always faster over a given section of road. There were definite advantages in traction and controllability, and drawbacks such as torque steer, bump steer and steering kickback were not insurmountable.” This was the only front-wheel-drive vehicle made by Lotus. Every model made since the M100 Elan, such as the Lotus Elise, has been rear-wheel drive. The M100 Elan’s cornering performance was undeniable (on release the Elan was described by Autocar magazine as “the quickest point to point car available”). Press reaction was not uniformly positive, as some reviewers found the handling too secure and predictable compared to a rear-wheel-drive car. However, the Elan’s rigid chassis minimised roll through the corners and has led to its description as ‘the finest front wheel drive [car] bar none’. Unlike the naturally aspirated version, the turbocharged SE received power steering as standard, as well as tyres with a higher ZR speed rating. The M100 Elan used a 1,588 cc double overhead camshaft (DOHC) 16-valve engine, sourced from the Isuzu Gemini and extensively modified by Lotus (a third generation of this engine was later used in the Isuzu Impulse), which produced 162 hp. 0–60 acceleration time was measured by Autocar and Motor magazine at 6.5 seconds, and a top speed of 137 mph was recorded. Significant differences in the Isuzu-Lotus engine from the original include a new exhaust system, re-routed intake plumbing for better thermodynamic efficiency, improved engine suspension, and major modifications to the engine control unit to improve torque and boost response. Almost all models featured an IHI turbocharger. Two variants were available at launch, the 130 bhp Elan 1.6 (retailing at £17,850) and the 162 bhp Turbo SE (£19,850). Initial sales were disappointing, perhaps because its launch coincided with a major economic recession in the UK and USA, and perhaps also because it coincided with the cheaper Mazda MX-5 which was arguably similar in concept, though the MX-5 was quite intentionally nostalgic and old fashioned (apeing the original Elan), while the M100 was deliberately futuristic, modern and forward looking. The Elan was regarded as a good product in a bad market, but was also very expensive to make (the cost to design and produce the dashboard alone was more than the total cost of the Excel production line), and sales figures were too low to recoup its huge development costs. Altogether 3,855 Elans were built between November 1989 and July 1992, including 129 normally aspirated (non-turbo) cars. 559 of them were sold in the US, featuring a ‘stage 2 body’ which had a different rear boot spoiler arrangement together with a lengthened nose to accommodate a USA-compliant crash structure and airbag, and 16-inch wheels (optional in most markets, standard in the U.S.) instead of 15-inch as on the UK model. A limited edition of 800 Series 2 (S2) M100 Elans was released during the Romano Artioli era (produced June 1994–September 1995) when it was discovered that enough surplus engines were available to make this possible. According to Autocar magazine, the S2 addressed some of the concerns over handling, but power was reduced to 155 bhp and the 0–60 acceleration time increased to 7.5 seconds, due to the legislative requirement to fit a catalytic converter in all markets. The S2s have very similar performance to the USA vehicles, having an identical engine management system calibration and a slightly lower overall vehicle weight.
As I headed out to go and see what had been parked up in the public parking areas in the middle of the day, I spotted a Ghibli in Rosso Folgore and immediately wondered if someone had moved my car, as this is a colour you really don’t see very often. As I got nearer, I could see that it had a different coloured interior and indeed the plate confirmed that this a second Ghibli on site in this colour. There were in fact further examples of the Ghibli that I came across as I wandered up and down the lines of parked up cars.
The Merak was the marque’s entry level car from the 1970s, introduced at the 1972 Paris Auto Show, over a year after the Bora, a car whose front part of the bodyshell up to the doors, it shares. The front ends are differenced mainly by the use of dual chrome bumpers in place of twin trapezoidal grilles, but the similarities end at the B-pillar. Unlike its bigger sister the Merak doesn’t have a true, fully glassed fastback, but rather a cabin ending abruptly with a vertical rear window and a flat, horizontal engine bonnet pierced by four series of ventilation slats. Giugiaro completed the vehicle’s silhouette by adding open flying buttresses, visually extending the roofline to the tail. The main competitors of the Merak were the similarly Italian, mid-engined, 3-litre and 2+2 Dino 308 GT4 and Lamborghini Urraco P250. However unlike its transverse V8-engined rivals the Merak used a more compact V6, that could therefore be mounted longitudinally. Having been designed during the Citroën ownership of Maserati, certain Citroën hydropneumatic systems were used in the Merak, as for the Bora. These included the braking system and the clutch which were both hydraulically assisted and operated, and the pop-up headlights were hydraulically actuated. After 1976, when the French manufacturer gave up control of Maserati, the Citroën-derived parts were gradually replaced by more conventional systems. In 1977 Alejandro de Tomaso purchased Maserati and the Bora was discontinued after a production run of less than 600 cars, while the Merak remained on sale for six more years. The Merak’s V6 engine descended from the 2.7 litre Tipo C.114 originally designed by Giulio Alfieri in 1967 for use in the Citroën SM, that was bored out to 91.6 mm to displace 2,965 cc. It was a chain-driven double overhead camshaft, 12-valve unit featuring an unusual 90° angle between the cylinder banks. The lubrication system used a wet sump and an oil cooler. This V6 did not end its days on the Merak: it was later modified and made into the first ever production twin-turbocharged engine in the Biturbo, ending its career in the 1990s Ghibli after reaching the highest specific output of any production engine at the time. The powerplant was mounted longitudinally behind the passenger compartment, and joined through a single-plate dry clutch to a 5-speed, all syncromesh Citroën transaxle gearbox and a limited-slip differential. The original Merak’s three-litre engine produced 190 PS at 6000 rpm. Three twin-choke Weber carburettors (one 42 DCNF 31 and two 42 DCNF 32) fed the engine, and the compression ratio was 8.75:1. Maserati declared a top speed of over 240 km/h (149 mph). Early Meraks (1972 to 1975) were fitted with the Citroën SM’s dashboard, characterised by oval instrument gauges inset in a brushed metal fascia and a single-spoke steering wheel. 630 were made up to 1974. The lightened and more powerful Merak SS (Tipo AM122/A) was introduced at the 41st Geneva Motor Show in March 1975, although it did not enter production until the next year. It featured a 50 kg weight reduction and a 30 PS power increase to 220 PS (217 hp), thanks to the adoption of three larger 44 DCNF 44 carburettors and a higher 9:1 compression ratio. The SS was recognisable from a black grille between the pop-up headlights. A Maserati-designed upper fascia with round instruments and a four-spoke steering wheel replaced the previous SM-derived interior furniture. Later cars were bestowed with the full driver-oriented dashboard and three-spoke padded steering wheel of the Maserati Bora. The US-spec version of the Merak SS also saw a return to traditional hydraulics, eliminating the last of the Citroen high pressure system. 1000 units of the SS had been made by 1983, when all Merak production ceased. A third version of the Merak was made, In November 1977 at the Turin Auto Show, De Tomaso launched the Merak 2000 GT (Tipo AM122/D), which was basically a Merak with a smaller two-litre powerplant. It was built almost exclusively for the Italian market, where a newly introduced law strongly penalised cars with engine capacity over 2000 cc by subjecting them to a 38% Value Added Tax against the usual 19% VAT. The Merak’s competitors already offered similar two-litre models, specifically the Urraco P200 and Dino 208 GT4. The Merak 2000 GT featured a 1,999 cc engine generating 170 PS (168 hp) at 7000 rpm. Colour choice was limited to two shades: metallic light blue or gold. The two-litre cars were also distinguished by a black tape stripe running just below the mid-body character line, matte black bumpers in place of the usual chrome and the absence of the front spoiler, available as an optional. The SS’s front bonnet with the grille between the headlights was used on 2000 GTs. When production ended in 1983 just 200 Meraks 2000 GT had been made. Although a total of 1830 Merak models were made, they are rare cars now. Their low values meant that when they went wrong, which they inevitably did, it was not economic to repair or restore them, and a large number have been scrapped, which is a pity, as this is a great looking car.
Also here was an example from the car known internally as the Tipo 338 and brought to market as the 3200GT and 4200GT and Spider. After producing BiTurbo based cars for 17 years, Maserati replaced their entire range with a new model in July 1998, the 3200 GT. This very elegant 2+2 grand tourer was styled by Italdesign, whose founder and head Giorgetto Giugiaro had previously designed, among others, the Ghibli, Bora and Merak. The interior design was commissioned to Enrico Fumia. Its name honoured the Maserati 3500 GT, the Trident’s first series production grand tourer. Sold mainly in Europe, the 3200 GT was powered by the twin-turbo, 32-valve, dual overhead cam 3.2-litre V8 engine featured in the Quattroporte Evoluzione, set up to develop 370 PS (365 hp). The car was praised for its styling, with the distinctive array of tail-lights, consisting of LEDs, arranged in the shape of boomerang being particularly worthy of comment. The outer layer of the ‘boomerang’ provided the brake light, with the inner layer providing the directional indicator. The car was also reviewed quite well by the press when they got to drive it in early 1999, though it was clear that they expected more power and excitement. That came after 4,795 cars had been produced, in 2001, with the launch of the 4200 models. Officially called the Coupé and joined by an open-topped Spyder (Tipo M138 in Maserati speak), these models had larger 4.2 litre engines and had been engineered so the cars could be sold in America, marking the return to that market for Maserati after an 11 year gap. There were some detailed styling changes, most notable of which were the replacement of the boomerang rear lights with conventional rectangular units. Few felt that this was an improvement. The cars proved popular, though, selling strongly up until 2007 when they were replaced by the next generation of Maserati. Minor changes were made to the model during its six year production, but more significant was the launch at the 2004 Geneva Show of the GranSport which sported aerodynamic body cladding, a chrome mesh grille, carbon fibre interior trim, and special 19-inch wheels. It used the Skyhook active suspension, with a 0.4 inch lower ride height, and the Cambiocorsa transmission recalibrated for quicker shifts. The exhaust was specially tuned to “growl” on start-up and full throttle. The GranSport was powered by the same 4244 cc, 90° V8 petrol engine used on the Coupé and Spyder, but developing 400 PS (395 hp) at 7000 rpm due primarily to a different exhaust system and improvements on the intake manifolds and valve seats. A six-speed paddle shift transmission came as standard. The GranSport has a claimed top speed of 180 mph (290 km/h) and a 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) time of 4.8 seconds. Production ceased at the end of 2006 in readiness for the launch of the GranTurismo.
This is a W126 generation of the S Class. The W126 series premiered in September 1979, launching in Europe in March 1980 and in the autumn of that year for the UK, US and Australia replacing the W116 line. The W126 line featured improved aerodynamics and enlarged aluminium engine blocks. In Australia in 1981, the W126 S-Class won Wheels magazine’s Car of the Year award. The S Class continued the tradition of its predecessors by introducing lots of new technology, much of it focused on safety. In December 1980, the W126 introduced a driver side airbag, as patented by Mercedes-Benz in 1971, as well as passenger side airbags (in 1988), seat-belt pretensioners, and traction control. It was the first production car to feature an airbag standard, and as late as 1991 there were only a few other manufacturers in Europe who offered an airbag. The interior featured additional courtesy and reading lamps, along with heated seats and a more advanced climate control system. A four-speed automatic transmission was standard. Although the top of range Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 of the previous generation was not directly replaced, the W126 carried forward the hydropneumatic suspension of the 6.9 as an option on the 500SEL. A new cruise control system was offered as well. Succeeding the roadster based coupes, the W126 introduced a two-door variant, the SEC coupé in the autumn of 1981.The powerplants on the W126 S-Class included straight-6 and V8 engines. During its life, an increasing number of European sales came from the diesel model but this was not offered in the UK, where only the petrol models were sold. Initially the car had 2.8, 3.8 and 5.0 litre engines, and these were updated before a more substantive mid-cycle update in 1986. At that point the 280SE became the 300SE, the 380SE was replaced by a 420SE the 500SE gained a new engine and a top of the range 560SEL was added. There were some subtle modifications to the exterior. The car was replaced by the next generation S Class, the W140 in 1991. Total sales of the W126 S-Class sedans reached 818,036 units, with an additional 74,060 coupes sold.
The SLS was the first Mercedes-Benz designed and built from scratch entirely by AMG. Upon its introduction at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, the SLS AMG’s 571 PS (563 bhp) M159 engine was according to AMG “the world’s most powerful naturally aspirated production series engine” ever produced. The SLS AMG was designed by Mark Fetherston to be a modern 300SL Gullwing, adopting the feature of the gull-wing doors that swing open upwards on gas struts, and must be closed manually as AMG engineers decided against the 41 kg (90 lb) of additional weight that auto-closing systems would have added to the car. In case of a roll-over, the doors can be fully detached to allow the occupants to leave the vehicle. The SLS AMG Roadster was unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt International Motor Show, as convertible variant, with conventional doors and three-layered fabric soft top (having a magnesium, steel and aluminium construction) which opens and closes in 11 seconds, and can be operated on the move at up to 50 km/h (31 mph). The roadster’s DIN kerb weight is 40 kg (88 lb) more than the SLS AMG Coupé. Certain reinforcements were made to the roadster in order to compensate for the loss of roof which includes side skirts with greater wall thicknesses and more chambers, a dashboard cross-member is supported against the windscreen frame and centre tunnel by additional struts, a curved strut between the soft top and the tank reinforces the rear axle, a reinforcing cross-member behind the seats to support the fixed roll-over protection system. An electric version of the car, the SLS AMG Electric Drive, was presented at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, but never entered production. The more focused Black Series, with more power and reduced weight did, though, following a presentation at the 2012 Los Angeles Show. Plenty of special editions of the car did, though, culminating in the 2014 SLS AMG GT Final Edition. The SLS was replaced by the somewhat cheaper (to build and hence to buy) AMG GT which remains in production.
As one of Britain’s most popular classic cars, it was no surprise to find an example of the MGB here. Launched in October 1962, this car was produced for the next 18 years and it went on to become Britain’s best selling sports car. When first announced, the MGB was an innovative, modern design, with a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series, though components such as the brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA and the B-Series engine had its origins back in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength, and with a 95hp 3-bearing 1798cc engine under the bonnet, performance was quite respectable with a 0–60 mph time of just over 11 seconds. The car was rather more civilised than its predecessor, with wind-up windows now fitted as standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while being 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. A five-bearing engine was introduced in 1964 and a number of other modifications crept into the specification. In late 1967, sufficient changes were introduced for the factory to define a Mark II model. Alterations included synchromesh on all 4 gears with revised ratios, an optional Borg-Warner automatic gearbox, a new rear axle, and an alternator in place of the dynamo with a change to a negative earth system. To accommodate the new gearboxes there were significant changes to the sheet metal in the floorpan, and a new flat-topped transmission tunnel. US market cars got a new safety padded dashboard, but the steel item continued for the rest of the world. Rostyle wheels were introduced to replace the previous pressed steel versions in 1969 and reclining seats were standardised. 1970 also saw a new front grille, recessed, in black aluminium. The more traditional-looking polished grille returned in 1973 with a black “honeycomb” insert. Further changes in 1972 were to the interior with a new fascia. To meet impact regulations, in late 1974, the chrome bumpers were replaced with new, steel-reinforced black rubber bumpers, the one at the front incorporating the grille area as well, giving a major restyling to the B’s nose, and a matching rear bumper completed the change. New US headlight height regulations also meant that the headlamps were now too low. Rather than redesign the front of the car, British Leyland raised the car’s suspension by 1-inch. This, in combination with the new, far heavier bumpers resulted in significantly poorer handling. For the 1975 model year only, the front anti-roll bar was deleted as a cost-saving measure (though still available as an option). The damage done by the British Leyland response to US legislation was partially alleviated by revisions to the suspension geometry in 1977, when a rear anti-roll bar was made standard equipment on all models. US emissions regulations also reduced horsepower. In March 1979 British Leyland started the production of black painted limited edition MGB roadsters for the US market, meant for a total of 500 examples, but due to a high demand, production ended with 6682 examples. The United Kingdom received bronze painted roadsters and a silver GT model limited editions. The production run of home market limited edition MGBs was split between 421 roadsters and 579 GTs. Meanwhile, the fixed-roof MGB GT had been introduced in October 1965, and production continued until 1980, although export to the US ceased in 1974. The MGB GT sported a ground-breaking greenhouse designed by Pininfarina and launched the sporty “hatchback” style. By combining the sloping rear window with the rear deck lid, the B GT offered the utility of a station wagon while retaining the style and shape of a coupe. This new configuration was a 2+2 design with a right-angled rear bench seat and far more luggage space than in the roadster. Relatively few components differed, although the MGB GT did receive different suspension springs and anti-roll bars and a different windscreen which was more easily and inexpensively serviceable. Although acceleration of the GT was slightly slower than that of the roadster, owing to its increased weight, top speed improved by 5 mph to 105 mph because of better aerodynamics. 523,826 examples were made.
The Midas is a British made kit car initially using Mini running gear. Harold Dermott and his company, D&H Fibreglass Techniques, of Greenfield, Oldham, Greater Manchester, England came to an agreement in 1975 with Marcos cars to take over production of their Mini Marcos model. The car, with its odd-ball looks, was looking outdated so Dermott asked the designer Richard Oakes to come up with a new model. The new car, which was called the Midas, was launched at the 1978 Performance Car Show in London. The car had a composite body with no chassis, using the Mini engine/gearbox and front subframe but replacing the rear subframe with a beam on which the trailing arms were hinged. In 1981 an updated model was introduced with improvements suggested by Gordon Murray of the Brabham Formula 1 team at the time. The car was available in three versions called Gold and Bronze depending on completeness. Demand for cars was now outstripping the small workshop in Oldham so a move was made to a factory in Corby, Northamptonshire and the company name changed to Midas Cars Ltd. Further improvements were made in 1985 when the Midas Gold was adapted to take Austin or MG Metro parts. A restyle was also made at the same time, again by Richard Oakes, involving wider wings, a “frogeye” front and larger windows. Gordon Murray provided input to improve the aerodynamics. In order to sell complete cars as well as kits a Midas successfully underwent a full ECE12 crash test. A convertible version appeared in 1989 and featured on the front cover of Car magazine, but all production stopped in March 1989 when the premises were destroyed by fire. The rights to the car were purchased in 1990 by Pastiche Cars of Rotherham, Yorkshire who relaunched the range and made a handful of convertibles before the receivers were called in again in 1991 and sold the Gold Convertible on to GTM Cars of Sutton Bonnington, Nottinghamshire. GTM added a series of changes including Hydragas suspension and a hardtop. The range continued to develop with, in 1995 a new 2+2 coupé based on the K-Series engined Metro and Rover 100 models. The moulds of the Gold coupe were sold to Berlin, Germany by GTM in 1990 where they were used for an unemployment project. In the meantime the old Mini based Midas had reappeared being made by Midtech cars for a short time. In 2001 the Midas changed hands again when GTM sold it to a new Midas Cars Ltd based in Redditch, West Midlands. The range now consisted of the Coupé, renamed the Cortez, and a K-Series powered convertible named the Excelsior. Although the cars were well received the company went into liquidation in 2003. A new company, Alternative Cars Ltd was set up in 2003 and in 2004 restarted production of kit form versions of the Gold Convertible, Cortez and Excelsior based in a small workshop unit at Clanfield, Oxfordshire. In 2007 the Midas Owners Club rediscovered the Gold coupe moulds in Germany and bought them and were imported back to England.
Mitsubishi introduced the second generation Lancer towards the end of 1979 with the first cars reaching the UK early in 1980. Initially just two engines were offered, a 1400 and 1600cc four saloon with much sharper styling making the car look more modern. Later in the year the 2000 Turbo model joined the range, and this potent car, sold in small quantities, which put out 135 PS, found immediate interest, as this was one of the first what would become a torrent of regular family cars with a turbo added for more performance (and lag, in most cases). Indeed, Mitsubshi added Turbos to all the rest of the range in the months following the launch of this one. It was relatively expensive, so not that many were sold, and survivors are few and far between, so this was a real rarity.
The Monza was planned as a successor for the Commodore Coupé. Whilst the Commodore had been little more than a six cylinder Rekord, and indeed would continue to be so throughout the 80s, Opel planned a larger model to sit above it in the range, to replace the old Admrial and Diplomat saloons. The result was the large Senator saloon and Monza coupe, first seen in the autumn of 1977. The Monza would allow Opel to compete, so they thought with the Mercedes W126 coupé and the BMW 6 series. But what Opel hadn’t realised was that the old ways were too old. The car was big without being hugely luxurious. This did not mean that the Monza was not comfortable. There was plenty of space inside the car, and the enormous seats left you with a feeling of sitting in a much more upmarket brand than Opel. But the internals consisted of parts mainly borrowed from the Rekord, which meant cloth seats, and lots and lots of plastic on the dashboard and inner doors. Even the rev counter and the tachometer was taken directly from the Rekord E models, so that when you sat in one, the feeling was not that you drove a Monza, but more that you where driving a Rekord. If that wasn’t enough trouble for Opel, they also experienced gearbox problems. The engine range for the Monza A1 was the 3.0S, the 2.8S, the newly developed 3.0E and later the 2.5E (the 3.0 had 180 bhp and 248 Nm with fuel injection). The 3-speed Borg Warner automatic transmission from the Commodore range needed to be modified to cope with the new and improved power outputs. Opel’s own 4-speed manual gearboxes were not up to the job and, instead of putting in a more modern 5-speed manual gearbox, Opel turned to gearbox and transmission producer Getrag, and installed the Getrag 264 4-speed manual gearbox in the early Monzas. But when people bought a big, luxurious coupé they wanted modern products as well, and Opel obliged, as soon the Getrag 5-speed manual gearboxes, replaced the old 4-speed gearbox. The Monza, however, was good to drive. It handled quite well, thanks to the newly developed MacPherson strut system for the front of the car, as used on the Rekord E1 and E2, and the new independent rear suspension gave the car soft, yet firm and capable, driving characteristics and excellent stability for such a big car. When Opel realised that the public disliked the Rekord interior, they introduced the “C” package. The “C” cars where fitted with extra instruments (oil pressure, voltmeter etc.) and the interior was either red, dark blue, green, or brown. As all parts of the interior were coloured, it seemed more luxurious than it did previously. The A1 also came with a sports package or “S” package. The cars all where marked as “S” models on the front wings, and came with 15-inch Ronal alloy wheels, a 45% limited slip differential. In 1982, the Monza, Rekord and Senator all got a face-lift and was named the A2 (E2 for the Rekord). The A2 looked similar to the A1 overall but with some changes to the front end. The headlights increased in size, and the front looked more streamlined than that of the A1. Also the chrome parts like bumpers were changed to a matt black finish, or with plastic parts. The bumpers were now made of plastic and made the Monza take look less like the Manta, despite the huge size difference. The rear lights were the same and the orange front indicators was now with white glass, giving a much more modern look to the car. Overall the update was regarded as successful although retrospectively some of the purity of the lines of the early car were lost. At a time of rising fuel prices, the need for fuel efficiency was becoming paramount, and Opel decided to change the engine specifications of the Monza. This meant introducing both the straight 4 cylinder CIH 2.0E and the 2.2E engines from the Rekord E2. However, as the Monza weighed almost 1400 kg, and the 115 bhp of the two engines, the cars were underpowered and thus unpopular. The 2.5E was given a new Bosch injection system so between 136 and 140 bhp was available. The 2.8S was taken out of production. The 3.0E engine stayed the top of the range. The 3.0E was given an upgraded Bosch fuel injection and gained a small improvement in consumption. The last incarnation of the Monza was the GSE edition in 1983; basically the A2 car, but a high-specification model which had Recaro sports seats, digital LCD instruments, and an enhanced all-black interior. It also featured a large rear spoiler on the boot. Also GS/E models are equipped with a 40% limited slip differential, an addition that had to be ordered separately on earlier 3,0E cars when purchasing. By the time the Senator was updated to the new Senator B, in 1987 and the Monza cancelled, 43,812 Monzas had been built. There was no direct replacement.
There were two distinct generations of Manta, the car that Opel conceived to compete against the Ford Capri. The second, the Manta B, in Opel speak lasted far longer than the first. It was launched in August 1975. This two-door “three-box” car was mechanically based directly on the then newly redesigned Opel Ascona, but the overall design was influenced by the 1975 Chevrolet Monza. The Manta had more “sporty” styling, including a droop-snoot nose not seen on the Ascona, which was similar to the UK equivalent, the Cavalier Mk1. Engines were available ranging from the small 1.2-litre OHV engine, the 1.6-litre CIH and the 1.9-litre CIH. Also in 1976 the GT/E engine from the Manta A series was adapted into the Manta B programme spawning the GT/E Manta B series. In 1979 the GT/E had the engine replaced with the new 2.0 litre CIH and with a new designed Bosch L injection system. Power output was now 108 hp. The 1.9-litre engine gave way to the 2.0 litre S engine which was aspirated by a Varajet II carburettor. This engine was the most used engine by Opel at the time, and was to be found in several Opel Rekord cars. In 1978, a three-door hatchback version appeared to complement the existing two-door booted car. This shape was also not unique, being available on the Vauxhall Cavalier Sports Hatch variant. Both Manta versions received a facelift in 1982, which included a plastic front spoiler, sideskirts for the GT/E and GSi models, a small wing at the rear and quadruple air intakes on the grille. Also the 1.2-, 1.6- and 1.9-litre engines were discontinued and replaced by the 1.3-litre OHC engine, the 1.8-litre OHC and the 2.0-litre S and E CIH engines (although the 75 PS 1.9N continued to be available in a few markets). The GT/E was renamed and was called the GSi from 1983 (except in the UK where the GT/E name continued). Production of the Manta continued well after the equivalent Ascona and Cavalier were replaced by a front-wheel-drive model “Ascona C”. The Vauxhall Cavalier Mk1 Sportshatch and Coupe did not continue past 1981, and there were no coupe versions the MK2 Cavalier range. In 1982 the 1.8-litre Opel Family II engine from the Ascona C was fitted in the Manta B (replacing the CIH unit) making a more economical Manta B to drive. It could run 14 km per litre and use unleaded fuel. The 1.8 was very popular and was in production for 5 years (1982–1987). The 2.0S models where discontinued in 1984 and only the GSi was available with the “large” engine (GT/E in the UK). In 1986 Opel released the last Manta B model the Exclusive (1987 in the UK), giving it all of the best in equipment. Recaro seats with red cloth, grey leather like interior and the full bodypack known from the i200 models. This consisted of twin round headlights in a plastic cover, front spoiler and rear lower spoiler from Irmscher, sideskirts and the known 3 split rear spoiler of the Manta 400 (producing 80 kg (176 lb) of weight on the rear at 200 km/h). In the UK, the Exclusive GT/E models were available in colours such as Dolphin Grey with matching dark grey cloth seats with red piping. These also had the quad headlights, front spoiler but a rear bumper which housed the number plate, coupled with a black plastic strip between the rear light clusters. The rear spoiler was similar to the standard GT/E. Opel finally ceased the production of the Manta B in 1988, only producing the GSi version after 1986 (it was sold as the GT/E in the UK). Its successor, the Calibra – sold as a Vauxhall in Britain, and as an Opel everywhere else – was launched in 1989. The car seen here had a body kit on it redolent of the Manta 400 rally cars.
The 924 was originally another joint project of Volkswagen and Porsche created by the Vertriebsgesellschaft (VG), the joint sales and marketing company funded by Porsche and VW to market and sell sports cars, For Volkswagen, it was intended to be that company’s flagship coupé sports car and was dubbed “Project 425” during its development. For Porsche, it was to be its entry-level sports car replacing the 914. At the time, Volkswagen lacked a significant internal research and design division for developing sports cars; further, Porsche had been doing the bulk of the company’s development work anyway, per a deal that went back to the 1940s. In keeping with this history, Porsche was contracted to develop a new sporting vehicle with the caveat that this vehicle must work with an existing VW/Audi inline-four engine. Porsche chose a rear-wheel drive layout and a rear-mounted transaxle for the design to help provide 48/52 front/rear weight distribution; this slight rear weight bias aided both traction and brake balance. The 1973 oil crisis, a series of automobile-related regulatory changes enacted during the 1970s and a change of directors at Volkswagen made the case for a Volkswagen sports car less striking and the 425 project was put on hold. After serious deliberation at VW, the project was scrapped entirely after a decision was made to move forward with the cheaper, more practical, Golf-based Scirocco model instead. Porsche, which needed a model to replace the 914, made a deal with Volkswagen leadership to buy the design back. The deal specified that the car would be built at the ex-NSU factory in Neckarsulm located north of the Porsche headquarters in Stuttgart, Volkswagen becoming the subcontractor. Hence, Volkswagen employees would do the actual production line work (supervised by Porsche’s own production specialists) and that Porsche would own the design. It became one of Porsche’s best-selling models, and the relative cheapness of building the car made it both profitable and fairly easy for Porsche to finance. The original design used an Audi-sourced four-speed manual transmission from a front wheel drive car but now placed and used as a rear transaxle. It was mated to VW’s EA831 2.0 litre 4 cylinder engine, subsequently used in the Audi 100 and the Volkswagen LT van (common belief is that ‘the engine originated in the LT van’, but it first appeared in the Audi car and in 924 form has a Porsche-designed cylinder head). The 924 engine used Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, producing 125 bhp in European cars, but a rather paltry 95 bhp for the US market models, though this was improved to 110 hp in mid-1977 with the introduction of a catalytic converter, which reduced the need for power-robbing smog equipment. The four-speed manual was the only transmission available for the initial 1976 model, later this was replaced by a five-speed dog-leg unit. An Audi three-speed automatic was offered starting with the 1977.5 model. In 1980 the five-speed transmission was changed to a conventional H-pattern, with reverse now on the right beneath fifth gear. Porsche made small improvements to the 924 each model year between 1977 and 1985, but nothing major was changed on non-turbo cars. Porsche soon recognised the need for a higher-performance version of the 924 that could bridge the gap between the basic 924s and the 911s. Having already found the benefits of turbochargers on several race cars and the 1975 911 turbo, Porsche chose to use this technology for the 924, eventually introducing the 924 turbo as a 1978 model. Porsche started with the same Audi-sourced VW EA831 2.0 litre engine, designed an all new cylinder head (which was hand assembled at Stuttgart), dropped the compression to 7.5:1 and engineered a KKK K-26 turbocharger for it. With 10 psi boost, output increased to 170 hp. The 924 turbo’s engine assembly weighed about 65 lb more, so front spring rates and anti-roll bars were revised. Weight distribution was now 49/51 compared to the original 924 figure of 48/52 front to rear. In order to help make the car more functional, as well as to distinguish it from the naturally aspirated version, Porsche added an NACA duct in the bonnet and air intakes in the badge panel in the nose, 15-inch spoke-style alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with five-stud hubs and a five-speed transmission. Forged 16-inch flat wheels of the style used on the 928 were optional, but fitment specification was that of the 911 which the 924 shared wheel offsets with. Internally, Porsche called it the “931” (left hand drive) and “932” (right hand drive). The turbocharged VW EA831 engine allowed the 924’s performance to come surprisingly close to that of the 911 SC (180 bhp), thanks in part to a lighter curb weight, but it also brought reliability problems. This was in part due to the fact that the general public did not know how to operate, or care for, what is by today’s standards a primitive turbo setup. A turbocharger cooled only by engine oil led to short component life and turbo-related seal and seat problems. To fix the problems, Porsche released a revised 924 turbo series 2 (although badging still read “924 turbo”) in 1979. By using a smaller turbocharger running at increased boost, slightly higher compression of 8:1 and an improved fuel injection system with DITC ignition triggered by the flywheel, reliability improved and power rose to 177 hp. In 1984, VW decided to stop manufacturing the engine blocks used in the 2.0 litre 924, leaving Porsche with a predicament. The 924 was considerably cheaper than its 944 stablemate, and dropping the model left Porsche without an affordable entry-level option. The decision was made to equip the narrower bodied 924 with a slightly detuned version of the 944’s 163 bhp 2.5 litre straight four, upgrading the suspension but retaining the 924’s early interior. The result was 1986’s 150 bhp 924S. In 1988, the 924S’ final year of production, power increased to 160 bhp matching that of the previous year’s Le Mans spec cars and the base model 944, itself detuned by 3 bhp. This was achieved using different pistons which raised the S’ compression ratio from 9.7:1 to 10.2:1, the knock-on effect being an increase in the octane rating, up from 91 RON to 95. This made the 924S slightly faster than the base 944 due to its lighter weight and more aerodynamic body. With unfavourable exchange rates in the late 1980s, Porsche decided to focus its efforts on its more upmarket models, dropping the 924S for 1989 and the base 944 later that same year. Seen here was a 924 Turbo.
Whilst its precursor, the 924, had received largely positive reviews, it was criticised by many including Porsche enthusiasts for its Audi-sourced engine and although the Turbo model had increased performance, this model carried a high price, which caused Porsche to decide to develop the 924, as they had with generations of the 911. They re-worked the platform and a new all-alloy 2.5 litre inline-four engine, that was, in essence, half of the 928’s 5.0 litre V8, although very few parts were actually interchangeable. Not typical in luxury sports cars, the four-cylinder engine was chosen for fuel efficiency and size, because it had to be fitted from below on the Neckarsulm production line. To overcome roughness caused by the unbalanced secondary forces that are typical of four-cylinder engines, Porsche included two counter-rotating balance shafts running at twice engine speed. Invented in 1904 by British engineer Frederick Lanchester, and further developed and patented in 1975 by Mitsubishi Motors, balance shafts carry eccentric weights which produce inertial forces that balance out the unbalanced secondary forces, making a four-cylinder engine feel as smooth as a six-cylinder. The engine was factory-rated at 150 hp in its U.S. configuration. Revised bodywork with wider wheel arches, similar to that of the 924 Carrera GT, a fresh interior and upgrades to the braking and suspension systems rounded out the major changes and Porsche introduced the car as the 944 in 1982. It was slightly faster (despite having a poorer drag co-efficient than the 924), the 944 was better equipped and more refined than the 924; it had better handling and stopping power, and was more comfortable to drive. The factory-claimed 0-60 mph time of less than 9 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph which turned out to be somewhat pessimistic, In mid-1985, the 944 underwent its first significant changes. These included : a new dash and door panels, embedded radio antenna, upgraded alternator, increased oil sump capacity, new front and rear cast alloy control arms and semi-trailing arms, larger fuel tank, optional heated and powered seats, Porsche HiFi sound system, and revisions in the mounting of the transaxle to reduce noise and vibration. The “cookie cutter” style wheels used in the early 944s were upgraded to new “phone dial” style wheels (Fuchs wheels remained an option). 1985 model year cars incorporating these changes are sometimes referred to as “1985B”, “85.5” or “1985½” cars. For the 1987 model year, the 944 Motronic DME was updated, and newly incorporated anti-lock braking and air bags. Because of the ABS system, the wheel offset changed and Fuchs wheels were no longer an option. In early 1989 before the release of the 944S2, Porsche upgraded the 944 from the 2.5 to a 2.7 litre engine, with a rated 162 hp and a significant increase in torque. For the 1985 model year, Porsche introduced the 944 Turbo, known internally as the 951. This had a turbocharged and intercooled version of the standard car’s engine that produced 220 PS at 6000 rpm. In 1987, Car and Driver tested the 944 Turbo and achieved a 0-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds. The Turbo was the first car using a ceramic port liner to retain exhaust gas temperature and new forged pistons and was also the first vehicle to produce identical power output with or without a catalytic converter. The Turbo also featured several other changes, such as improved aerodynamics, notably an integrated front bumper. This featured the widest turn signals (indicators) fitted to any production car, a strengthened gearbox with a different final drive ratio, standard external oil coolers for both the engine and transmission, standard 16 inch wheels (optional forged Fuchs wheels), and a slightly stiffer suspension (progressive springs) to handle the extra weight. The Turbo’s front and rear brakes were borrowed from the Porsche 911, with Brembo 4-piston fixed calipers and 12-inch discs as ABS also came standard. Engine component revisions, more than thirty in all, were made to the 951 to compensate for increased internal loads and heat. Changes occurred for the 1987 model year. On the interior, the 1987 944 Turbo for North America became the first production car in the world to be equipped with driver and passenger side air bags as standard equipment. A low oil level light was added to the dash as well as a 180 mph (290 km/h) speedometer as opposed to the 170 mph speedometer on the 1986 model Turbos. Also included is the deletion of the transmission oil cooler, and a change in suspension control arms to reduce the car’s scrub radius. The engine remained the same M44/51 as in the 1986 model. In 1988, Porsche introduced the Turbo S. The 944 Turbo S had a more powerful engine (designation number M44/52) with 250 hp and 258 lb·ft torque (standard 944 Turbo 220 hp and 243 lb·ft. This higher output was achieved by using a larger K26-8 turbine housing and revised engine mapping which allowed maintaining maximum boost until 5800 rpm, compared to the standard 944 Turbo the boost would decrease from 1.75 bar at 3000 rpm to 1.52 bar at 5800 rpm. Top speed was factory rated at 162 mph. The 944 Turbo S’s suspension had the “M030” option consisting of Koni adjustable shocks front and rear, with ride height adjusting threaded collars on the front struts, progressive rate springs, larger hollow rear anti-roll/torsion bars, harder durometer suspension bushings, larger hollow anti-roll/torsion bars at the front, and chassis stiffening brackets in the front frame rails. The air conditioning dryer lines are routed so as to clear the front frame brace on the driver’s side. The 944 Turbo S wheels, known as the Club Sport design, were 16-inch Fuchs forged and flat-dished, similar to the Design 90 wheel. Wheel widths were 7 inches in the front, and 9 inches in the rear with 2.047 in offset; sizes of the Z-rated tyres were 225/50 in the front and 245/45 in the rear. The front and rear fender edges were rolled to accommodate the larger wheels. The manual transmission featured a higher friction clutch disc setup, an external cooler, and a limited slip differential with a 40% lockup setting. The Turbo S front brakes were borrowed from the Porsche 928 S4, with larger Brembo GT 4-piston fixed calipers and 12-inch discs; rear Brembo brakes remained the same as a standard Turbo. ABS also came standard. The 944 Turbo S interior featured power seats for both driver and passenger, where the majority of the factory-built Turbo S models sported a “Burgundy plaid” (Silver Rose edition) but other interior/exterior colours were available. A 10-speaker sound system and equalizer + amp was a common option with the Turbo S and S/SE prototypes. Only the earlier 1986, 250 bhp prototypes featured a “special wishes custom interior” options package. In 1989 and later production, the ‘S’ designation was dropped from the 944 Turbo S, and all 944 Turbos featured the Turbo S enhancements as standard, however the “M030” suspension and the Club Sport wheels were not part of that standard. The 944 Turbo S was the fastest production four cylinder car of its time. For the 1987 model year, the 944S “Super” was introduced, featuring a high performance normally aspirated, dual-overhead-cam 16-valve 190 PS version of the 2.5 litre engine (M44/40) featuring a self-adjusting timing belt tensioner. This marked the first use of four-valve-per-cylinder heads and DOHC in the 944 series, derived from the 928 S4 featuring a redesigned camshaft drive, a magnesium intake tract/passages, magnesium valve cover, larger capacity oil sump, and revised exhaust system. The alternator capacity was 115 amps. The wheel bearings were also strengthened and the brake servo action was made more powerful. Floating 944 calipers were standard, but the rear wheel brake circuit pressure regulator from the 944 turbo was used. Small ’16 Ventiler’ script badges were added on the sides in front of the body protection mouldings. Performance was quoted as 0 – 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds and a 144 mph top speed due to a 2857 lb weight. It also featured an improved programmed Bosch Digital Motronic 2 Computer/DME with dual knock sensors for improved fuel performance for the higher 10.9:1 compression ratio cylinder head. Like the 944 Turbo, the 944S received progressive springs for greater handling, Larger front and rear anti-roll bars, revised transmission and gearing to better suit the 2.5 litre DOHC higher 6800 rpm rev limit. Dual safety air bags, limited-slip differential, and ABS braking system were optional on the 944S. A Club Sport touring package (M637) was available as was the lightweight 16 inch CS/Sport Fuch 16×7 and 16×9 forged alloy wheels. This SC version car was raced in Canada, Europe and in the U.S. IMSA Firehawk Cup Series. Production was only during 1987 and 1988. It was superseded in 1989 by the ‘S2’ 944 edition. The 1987 944S power-to-weight ratio was such that it was able to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 6.5 seconds thus matching the acceleration of its newer larger displacement 3.0 litre 944 S2 sibling. In 1989 the 944S2 was introduced, powered by a 211 PS normally aspirated, dual-overhead-cam 16-valve 3.0 litre version of the 944S engine, the largest production 4-cylinder engine of its time. The 944S2 also received a revised transmission and gearing to better suit the 3.0 litre M44/41 powerplant. The 944S2 had the same rounded nose and a rear valance found on the Turbo model. This was the first example of the use of an integrated front bumper, where the fender and hood profiles would merge smoothly with the bumper, a design feature that has only now seen widespread adoption on the 1990 onward production cars. Performance was quoted as 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds with a top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph) via manual transmission. A Club Sport touring package (M637) was also available. Dual air bags (left hand drive models), limited-slip differential and ABS were optional. Series 90 16-inch cast alloy wheels were standard equipment. In 1989, Porsche released the 944 S2 Cabriolet, a first for the 944 line that featured the cabriolet body built by ASC-American Sunroof Company at Weinsberg Germany. The first year of production included sixteen 944 S2 Cabriolet for the U.S. market. For the 1990 model year, Porsche produced 3,938 944 S2 Cabriolets for all markets including right-hand drive units for the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa. This car was raced, including the British championship that was called the Porsche Motorsport Championship. Production was during 1989, 1990, and 1991. The 944 S2 power-to-weight ratio was such that it was able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. In February 1991, Porsche released the 944 Turbo Cabriolet, which combined the Turbo S’s 250 hp engine with the cabriolet body built by ASC-American Sunroof Company at Weinsberg Germany. Porsche initially announced that 600 would be made; ultimately 625 were built, 100 of which were right-hand drive for the United Kingdom, Japanese, Australian, and South African market. None were imported to the U.S. and The Americas. In early 1990, Porsche engineers began working on what they had intended to be the third evolution of the 944, the S3. As they progressed with the development process, they realised that so many parts were being changed that they had produced an almost entirely new vehicle. Porsche consequently shifted development from the 944 S/S2 to the car that would replace the 944 entirely, the 968. The 944’s final year of production was 1991. A grand total 163,192 cars in the 944 family were produced between 1982 and 1991. This made it the most successful car line in Porsche’s history until the introductions of the Boxster and 997 Carrera.
Successor to the A110 was the A310 and there was one here. Launched in 1971, the four-cylinder car was larger, heavier, and no more powerful than its predecessor, which meant it was generally considered under-powered. The car was first shown at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show. The prototype A310 had louvres across the rear windscreen; these were not carried over to the production model. Early models had a NACA duct mounted near the window atop the left front fender, later four-cylinder cars received two, mounted closer to the front of the car. In 1976, to help flagging sales, the lower-cost A310 SX was presented. This model has a 95 PS version of the Renault 16/17’s 1647 cc inline-four and simplified equipment. The basis of the A310 was a hefty tubular steel backbone chassis, clothed in a fibreglass shell. As for the previous A110 the entire body was moulded in a single piece. Like the ill-fated De Lorean DMC-12, which used the same PRV powertrain, the engine was mounted longitudinally in the rear, driving forward to the wheels through a manual five-speed gearbox. The driving position was low and sporty, although the front wheel arches encroached on the occupants’ feet, pointing them towards the centre of the car. The A310 was labour-intensive, having been developed for small-scale artisanal production – a car took 130 hours to build from start to finish. The front axle also came in for some criticism, although in 1974 the balljoint mountings were replaced by rubber/steel bushings (silent-blocs) which somewhat improved the longevity. While many bits of the A310 came from the Renault parts shelf as expected, others are more surprising – the steering rack is from the Peugeot 504, while the turn signals are Simca 1301 units. In 1976 the A310 was restyled by Robert Opron and fitted with the more powerful and newly developed 90-degree 2664 cc V6 PRV engine, as used in some Renaults, Volvos and Peugeots. The later V6 received a black plastic rear spoiler as well, useful for keeping the tail planted but somewhat marring to purity of the original’s lines. With 150 PS on tap, the A310 PRV V6 was Renault’s performance flagship capable of 220 km/h (137 mph) and acceptable acceleration. The tail-heavy weight distribution gave handling characteristics similar to the contemporary Porsche 911. Beginning with model year 1981 (in late 1980), the rear suspension was shared with the mid-engined Renault 5 Turbo. Rather than the previous three-lug wheels, the A310 also received the alloys used for the 5 Turbo, albeit without the painted elements In the later models (1983-1984) of the A310 a “Pack GT” which was inspired from the Group 4 A310 racing cars would be developed, it gained wheel arches and larger spoilers front and rear. A few Alpine A310 V6 Pack GT Kit Boulogne were built (27 examples), here the PRV V6 was bored out to 2.9 litres and was then further modified by Alpine, fitted with triple Weber 42DCNF carburettors that pushed power to 193 PS. 2340 examples of the 4 cylinder car and 9276 of the V6 were made. It is a rare car these days.
Follow on to that car was the GTA, the first car launched by Alpine under Renault ownership (though Alpine had been affiliated with Renault for many years, with its earlier models using many Renault parts). It effectively updated the design of its predecessor, the Alpine A310, updating that car’s silhouette with modern design features like body-integrated bumpers and a triangular C pillar with large rear windshield. It used the PRV V6 engine in a rear-engined layout, with extensive use of Polyester plastics and fibreglass for the body panels making it considerably lighter and quicker than rivals such as the Porsche 944. It was one of the most aerodynamic cars of its time, the naturally aspirated version achieved a world record 0.28 drag coefficient in its class. The GTA name, used to denote the entire range of this generation, stood for “Grand Tourisme Alpine” but in most markets the car was marketed as the Renault Alpine V6 GT or as the Renault Alpine V6 Turbo. In Great Britain it was sold simply as the Renault GTA, Rather than being cast in a single piece as for the preceding A310, the new Alpine’s body was cast in a large number of small separate panels. This required a major overhaul of the Alpine plant, leaving only the sandblasting machinery intact. The car was also considerably more efficient to manufacture, with the time necessary to build a finished car dropping from 130 to 77 hours – still a long time, but acceptable for a small-scale specialty car. The PRV engine in the naturally aspirated model was identical to the version used in the Renault 25, a 2849 cc unit producing 160 hp. Also available was the smaller (2.5 litres) turbocharged model. The central backbone chassis (with outriggers for side impact protection) was built by Heuliez and then transferred to Dieppe – aside from the body, most of the car was subcontracted to various suppliers. At the time of introduction, daily production was ten cars. This soon dropped considerably, as the somewhat less than prestigious Renault had a hard time in the sports car marketplace. The average production for the six full years of production was just above 1000 per annum, or just above three per day. The first model introduced was the naturally aspirated V6 GT, which entered production in November 1984, although press photos had been released in September 1984. The car was first shown at the 1985 Amsterdam Rai, immediately after which it also went on sale. In July 1985 the Europa Cup model appeared; this limited edition model was intended for a single-make racing championship and 69 cars were built (54 in 1985 and 15 more in 1987). In September 1985 the turbo model followed, which increased the power of the PRV unit to 200 PS. At the 1986 Birmingham Show the right-hand-drive version was presented and UK sales, as the Renault GTA, commenced. In early 1987 a catalysed version appeared, with fifteen less horsepower. This meant that the Turbo could finally be sold in Switzerland, and later in other European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands when they adopted stricter legislation. The catalysed model had lower gearing in fourth and fifth gears, in order to somewhat mask its power deficit. In 1988 anti-lock brakes became available. For the 1989 model year the Mille Miles version appeared. With the non-catalysed engine, this model heralded a re-focus on the Alpine name. The Renault logo was gone from the car, with an alpine logo up front and a large “Alpine” print appearing between the taillights. However, as the name ‘Alpine’ could not be used in the UK the name Alpine was removed from cars destined for the UK; there was no large print at the back of these cars and a UK specific logo was fitted to the front of the car. The Mille Miles, a limited edition of 100 cars, also featured a special dark red metallic paintjob, polished aluminium wheels, and a large silver grey triangular stripe with the Alpine “A” across the left side of the front. In February 1990 the limited edition Le Mans arrived, this car had a more aggressive body kit with polyester wheel arch extensions and a one piece front with smaller headlights. Wheels were 3 piece BBS style produced by ACT, 8×16″ front & 10×17″ rear. Many of these changes were adopted for the succeeding A610. The regular V6 GT and V6 Turbo ended production during 1990, while the Le Mans version continued to be produced until February 1991. 325 of these were built in total. Also in 1990, Renault was forced to install the less powerful catalysed engine in cars destined for the home market, leading to grumbling amongst Alpine enthusiasts about the loss of power (down to 185 PS) while the 25 Turbo saloon actually gained power when it became catalysed. In response Danielson SA, a famous French tuner, created an upgraded version of the Le Mans with 210 PS.
Part of the R8 family marketed as the Rover 200 and 400 family that were sold from late 1989 until 1995, these cars shared much with the Honda Concerto. The hatch and saloon models used the same body panels with only limited changes to Rover-ise them, but Rover did introduce their own unique models as well, with a 3 door hatch, the Coupe, the 400 Tourer and this, the Cabrio all being cars without a direct Honda equivalet. The Coupe and Cabrio came in 1992 and proved popular, as indeed the whole range was. It was offered with the 1.4 and 1.6 litre petrol engines. These lower volume cars continued in production for a couple of years after the arrival of a new generation of Rover 200 and 400 models in 1995, and they were updated with the dashboard from the new and smaller Rover 200 for this period before production ceased in 1998.
This is a Sera, a 3-door 2+2 hatchback coupe manufactured and marketed by Toyota from 1990 to 1996. The Sera debuted in 1988 as the Toyota AXV-II concept car in almost production-ready form, and is noted for its mostly glass roof canopy and its butterfly doors, which tilt up and forward when open. Released with a single engine configuration and body style, the Sera featured optional configurations for its transmission, brakes, cold climate and sound-system. Toyota marketed three trim versions, marketed as Phases, over its production and marketed the Sera exclusively in Japanese Toyota retail sales channels Toyota Corolla Store — as an alternative to the Toyota MR2, which was exclusive to Toyota Vista Store. The Sera came with the 1496 cc inline 4 5E-FHE unleaded petrol engine, the largest capacity version of Toyota’s E series of engines included in the Paseo and the Starlet. It produced 104 bhp and 132 Nm (97 lb⋅ft) of torque. This was installed in a front-mount, front wheel drive transverse configuration with electronic fuel injection. All versions came with power assisted rack and pinion steering and either the Toyota A242L 4-speed automatic or the Toyota C155 5-speed manual transmission. The brakes were vented discs at the front and drums at the rear, unless fitted with the optional Anti-Lock Braking system which had vented discs all round. Mechanically the car is related to both the Paseo and the Starlet, sharing similar floorpans, suspension, steering and brakes. The unusually positioned hinges of the butterfly doors and their smallness left insufficient space for conventional full-sized opening windows. The Toyota Sera is a 3-door hatchback coupe of monocoque steel construction. The Sera’s butterfly doors are hinged at the top center of the windscreen, and bottom of the A pillar and open forward and up in a manner similar to the McLaren F1 and Saleen S7 – the McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray cited the Sera as the inspiration of the F1’s door arrangement. The weight of each door is primarily supported by a thick gas strut and counterbalanced by a smaller secondary strut inside the door. Unlike conventional hinged side-opening doors, the butterfly doors can be opened fully in a fairly confined space, requiring only 43 cm (17 in) of lateral clearance. The Alfa Romeo Stradale is believed to be the first car to feature dihedral doors which, like the Sera, features windows that curve upward into the ‘roof’ section of the vehicle. The rear hatch is constructed of a single piece of glass without a supporting steel frame. This, in combination with a steeply sloping front windscreen and glass upper-door/roof panels (a total of six separate glass pieces overall), gives the Sera its distinctive canopy and provides expansive visibility, although the thick B-pillar create a significant blind spot, especially on the driver’s side. To deal with its high solar load, air-conditioning and twin removable interior roof panels are standard. Front bucket seats feature three point seatbelts and can tilt and slide forward to give access to the rear. The rear bench seat features a fixed central arm rest and either two or three point seat belts. In its normal interior configuration (with the back seats up and the parcel shelf in place) the rear cargo area does have a noticeably small opening (52 cm by 82 cm) and an elevated lip necessitating the lifting of luggage quite high before it can be placed inside. However the boot (trunk) is relatively deep and spacious. In addition the rear seats fold down and both the parcel shelf and the rear divider panel (usually in place behind the back seats) can be completely removed, in essence turning the entire rear half of the car into a cargo area. As such the Toyota Sera has a large amount of available storage space for its size. The space-saving spare tire and changing kit are contained in a small compartment below the boot floor. The Sera/EXY-10 was one of the first cars to feature projector headlights (though the 1988 AXV-II concept model featured conventional lights). As the Sera was built solely for the Japanese market all cars were right-hand drive as factory standard and the speedometer and odometer units were metric. This makes the car readily importable into countries with similar standards and requires only minimal changes for ones such as the United Kingdom (where vehicles are also right-hand drive but instruments are in Imperial units). However, major alterations may be necessary before the Sera is legal for general use in, or even importation into, other countries. Toyota produced the Sera in three distinct trim variants, with either manual or automatic transmission, standard or ABS brakes and regular stereo or Super-Live Sound System (“SLSS” – see below) forming the three major choices for buyers. There were also a large number of additional factory options available across the entire production run. A total of 15,941 were built between February 1990 and December 1995. 15,852 units were initially registered in Japan.
Envisioned as a luxury sports car, the Stag was designed to compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz SL. It started as a styling experiment, cut and shaped from a 1963–4 Triumph 2000 pre-production saloon, which had also been styled by Michelotti, and loaned to him by Harry Webster, Director of Engineering at Triumph. Their agreement was that if Webster liked the design, Triumph could use the prototype as the basis of a new Triumph model. Harry Webster, who was a long time friend of Giovanni Michelotti, whom he called “Micho”, loved the design and took the prototype back to England. The end result, a two-door drop head (convertible), had little in common with the styling of its progenitor 2000, but retained the suspension and drive line. Triumph liked the Michelotti design so much that they propagated the styling lines of the Stag into the new Mark 2 2000/2500 saloon and estate. The initial Stag design was based around the saloon’s 2.5-litre six cylinder engine, but Harry Webster intended the Stag, large saloons and estate cars to use a new Triumph-designed overhead cam 2.5-litre fuel injected V8. Under the direction of Harry Webster’s successor, Spen King in 1968, the new Triumph OHC 2.5 PI V8 was enlarged to 2997 cc to increase torque. To meet emission standards in the USA, a key target market, the troublesome mechanical fuel injection was dropped in favour of dual Zenith-Stromberg 175 CDSE carburettors. A key aim of Triumph’s engineering strategy at the time was to create a family of engines of different size around a common crankshaft. This would enable the production of power plants of capacity between 1.5 and 4 litres, sharing many parts, and hence offering economies of manufacturing scale and of mechanic training. A number of iterations of this design went into production, notably a slant four-cylinder engine used in the later Triumph Dolomite and Triumph TR7, and a variant manufactured by StanPart that was initially used in the Saab 99. The Stag’s V8 was the first of these engines into production. Sometimes described as two four-cylinder engines Siamesed together, it is more correct to say that the later four-cylinder versions were half a Stag engine. It has sometimes been alleged that Triumph were instructed to use the proven all-aluminium Rover V8, originally designed by Buick, but claimed that it would not fit. Although there was a factory attempt by Triumph to fit a Rover engine, which was pronounced unsuccessful, the decision to go with the Triumph V8 was probably driven more by the wider engineering strategy and by the fact that the Buick’s different weight and torque characteristics would have entailed substantial re-engineering of the Stag when it was almost ready to go on sale. Furthermore Rover, also owned by British Leyland, could not necessarily have supplied the numbers of V8 engines to match the anticipated production of the Stag anyway. As in the Triumph 2000 model line, unitary construction was employed, as was fully independent suspension – MacPherson struts in front, semi-trailing arms at the rear. Braking was by front disc and rear drum brakes, while steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. Although other bodystyles were envisaged, these never made production, so all Stags were four-seater convertible coupés. For structural rigidity – and to meet new American rollover standards of the time – the Stag required a B-pillar “roll bar” hoop connected to the windscreen frame by a T-bar. A removable hardtop was a popular factory option for the early Stags, and was later supplied as a standard fitment. The car was launched one year late in 1970, to a warm welcome at the various international auto shows. Sadly, it rapidly acquired a reputation for mechanical unreliability, usually in the form of overheating. These problems arose from a variety of causes, all of which are now well understood, and for which solutions have been identified, but at the time, they really hurt the reputation and hence sales of the car. They ranged from late changes to the engine which gave rise to design features that were questionable from an engineering perspective, the choice of materials which necessitated the use of antifreeze all year round, the engine’s use of long, simplex roller link chains, which would first stretch and then often fail inside fewer than 25,000 miles; the arrangement of the cylinder head fixing studs, half of which were vertical and the other half at an angle causing sideways forces which caused premature failure of the cylinder head gaskets. and poor quality production from a plant troubled with industrial unrest and poor quality control. At the time, British Leyland never provided a budget sufficient to correct the few design shortcomings of the Triumph 3.0 litre OHC V8, and the dealers did not help matters. The Stag was always a relatively rare car. British Leyland had around 2,500 UK dealers when the Stag was on sale and a total of around 19,000 were sold in the UK. Thus the average dealer sold only seven or eight Stags during the car’s whole production run, or roughly one car per year. This meant that few dealers saw defective Stags often enough to recognise and diagnose the cause of the various problems. Many owners simply replaced the engine altogether, often with the Rover V8, Ford Essex V6, or even the Triumph 6-cylinder engine around which the car was originally designed. Perhaps thanks to such a reputation for its unreliable engine, only 25,877 cars were produced between 1970 and 1977. Of this number, 6780 were export models, of which 2871 went to the United States. The majority of cars were fitted with a Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic transmission. The other choice was a derivative of the ancient Triumph TR2 gearbox which had been modified and improved over the years for use in the TR series of sports cars. Other than the choice of transmissions there were very few factory-installed options. On early cars buyers could choose to have the car fitted with just the soft-top, just the hard-top (with the hood storage compartment empty) or with both. Later cars were supplied with both roofs. Three wheel styles were offered. The standard fitments were steel wheels with Rostyle “tin-plate” trims. Five-spoke alloy wheels were an option, as were a set of traditional steel spoke wheels with “knock-off”‘ hubcaps. The latter were more commonly found on Stags sold in North America on Federal Specification vehicles. Electric windows, power steering and power-assisted brakes were standard. Options included air conditioning, a luggage rack, uprated Koni shock absorbers, floor mats and Lucas Square Eight fog lamps, and a range of after-market products, most of which were dealer installed as optional accessories could also be fitted. Rather unusually for a 4-seat touring car, the accessory list included a sump protector plate that was never produced. This was probably included as a slightly “gimmicky” tribute to Triumph’s rallying successes. Nowadays, the Stag is seen in a very different light, with lots of very enthusiastic and knowledgeable owners who enjoy the good points of this attractive looking car and who revel in the fact that the market has not yet boosted prices into the unaffordable category, as one day will surely happen.
The Tuscan was launched in 2000, by which time there had been a series of what we think of as the modern era TVRs produced for nearly a decade, the Cerbera, Griffith and Cerbera. The Tuscan did not replace any of them, but was intended to help with the company’s ambitious push further up market to become a sort of Blackpool-built alternative to Ferrari. It did not lack the styling for the task, and unlike the preceding models with their Rover V8 engines, the new car came with TVR’s own engine, a straight six unit of 3.6 litre capacity putting out 360 bhp. The Tuscan was intended to be the grand tourer of the range, perfectly practical for everyday use, though with only two seats, no ABS, no airbags and no traction control, it was a tough sell on wet days in a more safety conscious world, but at least there was a removable targa top roof panel for those days when the sun came out. The car may have lacked the rumble of a V8, but when pushed hard, the sound track from the engine was still pretty special, and the car was faster than the Cerbera, but sadly, the car proved less than reliable, which really started to harm TVR’s reputation, something which would ultimately prove to be its undoing.
A not uncommon sight at events in the West Midlands and the South West, this is an Ultima, the sports car manufactured by Ultima Sports Ltd of Hinckley, Leicestershire, England, and described by commentators as a supercar. It is available both in kit form and as a “turnkey” (i.e. assembled by the factory) vehicle. The design is a mid engined, rear wheel drive layout, with a tubular steel space frame chassis and GRP bodywork. Both close coupe and convertible versions have been made. The latter is called the Ultima Can-Am. Kit builders are free to source and fit a variety of engines and transmissions but the Chevrolet small block V8 supplied by American Speed mated to either a Porsche or Getrag transaxle is the factory recommended standard, and this configuration is fitted to all turnkey cars.
Based on the Australian Holden model, the Monaro was also sold in the United Kingdom as the Vauxhall Monaro where it won Top Gear magazine’s best muscle car award in 2004. Vauxhall offered the Monaro buyer a limited edition prior to discontinuation of the model: the VXR 500. A Harrop supercharger was installed onto the standard GM 6.0 L LS2 engine by Vauxhall dealer Greens of Rainham in conjunction with tuning firm Wortec, increasing power to 500 bhp and torque to 677 Nm (500 lb/ft). In addition to this, a shorter gear linkage was added to enable quicker shifts. The resultant 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) was 4.8 seconds. With the end of production, Vauxhall opted to replace the Monaro in 2007 with a version of the HSV Clubsport R8 4-door sedan. The new model sports sedan is simply referred to as the Vauxhall VXR8.
I saw this car at this event when I last came in 2016. It is a regular Volvo 850 Estate which has been made up to look like the cars which competed in the BTCC in 1993 and 1994.
My enthusiasm for this event has diminished somewhat over the years. Ticket prices have increased significantly, and the display content has not done the same thing. For sure there were a number of lovely historic cars from a number of genres of motor-sport on show inside the halls and there was a very impressive collection of rally cars to be seen outside. And with some early spring sunshine on the day I attended, watching them in action was a great way to spend a significant part of the day without getting turned into an icicle, though the viewing area was not really as good. as I would have liked. And that probably sums up this event. The ingredients are largely there, but the execution is just not quite on point. It’s not an automatic entry into my 2019 diary, but nor is it one that I would definitely eschew.