Caffeine and Machine – November 2019

Caffeine and Machine opened its door in October 2018 and within weeks the crowds of people who came to visit overwhelmed the car parking facilities. More than once in those early weeks, the parking area was expanded, and restrictions had to be introduced with people who had not pre-booked being politely turned away when the site was full, which it generally was on a weekend especially if the sun shone. Word very quickly spread that this delightful venue combined a genuine welcome for cars and bikes of every type with a place that offered a range of good quality and reasonably priced food and drinks, with plenty of space to enjoy them outdoors when the weather permits. Many people pop in for a quick coffee or a bite to eat. but others stay longer, and it is a popular rendez-vous point for Car Clubs. You never know quite what you will see on-site, and if you stay long enough, you can guarantee a whole load more than is already there on arrival.

I’ve already posted a couple of reports covering visits in the middle of the year, and this posting covers what turned out to be the last time in 2019 that I would stop by. It was the last Sunday in November, and I had been in Coventry the night before, so thought I would stop by en route back home to Bristol, especially as some winter sunshine seemed to be on the agenda. Just before I set off, I saw some online posts to say that there would be a special meeting there to celebrate the cars and life of the recently deceased Russell Brooks, which promised even more interest than you might usually expect on a weekend close to Christmas. Here is what I saw during that visit.


Sure enough, parked up by the main entrance to the building were indeed a number of rally cars, many of them in that iconic Andrews Heat for Hire livery that adorned many of the cars that the late Russell drove. The most iconic of them all, a Manta 400, was being put back into a trailer as I pulled into the site, so the photographer missed that one, but there were still a number of rallying legends here to inspect and admire.

Russell’s motor sport career had humble beginnings, winning his class in a Production Car Trial behind the wheel of his mother’s Renault Dauphine before gradually moving on to Road Rallies and then the lure of gravel rallying and the forests took hold. Russell’s potential was quickly spotted and after a phone call with British Leyland’s Special Tuning division, he received the loan of what was the last-ever works built Mini. Unfortunately, after stage wins interspersed with several crashes, the money ran out. 1974 saw the start of what was to become one of the most iconic sponsorship deals in rallying, when Andrews Heat for Hire agreed to a one year deal to sponsor an Escort RS2000 and Ford’s Stuart Turner agreed to provide a works car. Of course the sponsorship deal continued way beyond one year. In 1977, Russell won his first British Rally Championship, beating such drivers as Ari Vatanen, Roger Clark, Pentii Arikkala and Tony Pond at which point he became a full-time driver.

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By 1980, the era of the Mark 2 Ford Escort had come to an end and Russell struck a deal with Talbot UK to provide a Sunbeam Lotus. 1982 saw another change of manufacturer and another work’s drive this time for GM Dealersport in the Vauxhall Chevette and a close association with the man who was to become his biggest rival, Jimmy McRae.

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Jimmy was driving the Opel Ascona 400 and the British Rally Championship was their battleground. It got more serious in 1984 when Brooks switched to the Manta 400, as did McRae. The battles that year and the next were legendary. McRae took his third title and then Brooks fought off the Audi Quattros of Michele Mouton, Malcolm Wilson and finally David Llewellyn to take the 1985 British Rally Championship. Group B cars were banned during the 1986 season, but the governing body allowed the Manta 400 to continue on rounds of the Championship which did not count towards European status. Russell continued with GM Dealersport and went on to win the Welsh International in a Manta until he returned to Ford for 1988.

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By the start of the 1990s. Brooks had all but retired from rallying though he continued to support a number of local events. He continued to support the Race Retro event at Stoneleigh Park until very recently, always entertaining the crowds in one of his old cars. Sadly, ill health took over, and he died on 29 October 2019, aged 74.

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The display of cars was a great tribute to a real rally star, a local resident and a man who endeared himself to everyone who met him. I never did, though I do recall seeing him being interviewed a couple of times and he had plenty of tales to tell. May be Rest In Peace.

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There were a few other rally-style cars on site here, too with more Mark 2 Escorts, a VW Golf and a Mini Cooper.

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The Alpina B5 (E60) is the first generation of the Alpina B5 high performance executive car manufactured by German automobile manufacturer Alpina from 2005 to 2011. Based on the BMW 5 Series (E60), the car was available in saloon and wagon bodystyles. The car succeeded the E39-based Alpina B10. The B5 is based on the 545i and uses a modified version of its 4.4-litre valvetronic V8 engine designated by Alpina as the H1 (shared with the B7 and B6). Changes to the engine include an Alpina specific block made by Steyr, a forged crankshaft and low compression Mahle pistons. The engine retains the valvetronic system and uses a centrifugal-type supercharger, made by ASA to Alpina’s specifications the supercharger is belt-driven by the crankshaft and has a boost pressure of about 0.8 bar (11.7 psi). The supercharger was added to eliminate lag in power delivery during every day use. The modified engine has a power output of 500 PS (493 bhp) at 5,500 rpm and 700 Nm (516 lb/ft) from 4,250 to 5,250 rpm. The engine has a red-line of 6,000 rpm. The car uses a 6-speed “Switch Tronic” transmission manufactured by ZF Friedrichshafen. The transmission has a manual over-ride mode in which gears are shifted by buttons on the steering wheel. Unlike its sister car, the B6, the B5 does not come with a limited slip differential. The B5 comes with 19-inch forged multi-spoke alloy wheels and Michelin Sport Contact 2 tyres measuring 245/40 ZR19 at the front and 275/35 ZR19 at the rear. The B5 has Alpina’s own suspension system designed to give a soft ride in normal driving conditions. The brakes used on the car were taken from the Middle-Eastern specification 760Li. Exterior changes over a regular 5 Series included a front chin spoiler with Alpina lettering and optional Alpina pinstripes on the exterior paint. The interior came standard with Lavalina leather upholstery, wood trim, BMW iDrive system, Alpina gauges, perforated Alpina sports seats and Alpina badging throughout. The interior was fully customisable by the Alpina interior department. Introduced in 2008, the B5 S is a high performance variant of the B5. The B5 S has a further upgraded engine having a power output of 530 PS (523 bhp) at 5,500 rpm and 724 N⋅m (534 lb⋅ft) of torque at 4,750 rpm. The electronic damper control system (EDC) of the standard B5 was recalibrated and came with Comfort and Sport settings. It came with 20-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels and Michelin pilot sport tyres for increased grip. Claimed performance figures for the car include a standing kilometre time of 22.1 seconds, a 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) acceleration time of 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 317 km/h (197 mph).

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Sole Aston Martin here during the visit was this example of the recently superceded V8 Vantage model here. Following the unveiling of the AMV8 Vantage concept car in 2003 at the North American International Auto Show designed by Henrik Fisker, the production version, known as the V8 Vantage was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 2005. The two seat, two-door coupé had a bonded aluminium structure for strength and lightness. The 172.5 inch (4.38 m) long car featured a hatchback-style tailgate for practicality, with a large luggage shelf behind the seats. In addition to the coupé, a convertible, known as the V8 Vantage Roadster, was introduced later in that year. The V8 Vantage was initially powered by a 4.3 litre quad-cam 32-valve V8 which produced 380 bhp at 7,300 rpm and 409 Nm (302 lb/ft) at 5,000 rpm. However, models produced after 2008 had a 4.7-litre V8 with 420 bhp and 470 Nm (347 lbft) of torque. Though based loosely on Jaguar’s AJ-V8 engine architecture, this engine was unique to Aston Martin and featured race-style dry-sump lubrication, which enabled it to be mounted low in the chassis for an improved center of gravity. The cylinder block and heads, crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, camshafts, inlet and exhaust manifolds, lubrication system and engine management were all designed in house by Aston Martin and the engine was assembled by hand at the AM facility in Cologne, Germany, which also built the V12 engine for the DB9 and Vanquish. The engine was front mid-mounted with a rear-mounted transaxle, giving a 49/51 front/rear weight distribution. Slotted Brembo brakes were also standard. The original V8 Vantage could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds before topping out at 175 mph. In 2008, Aston Martin introduced an aftermarket dealer approved upgrade package for power and handling of the 4.3-litre variants that maintained the warranty with the company. The power upgrade was called the V8 Vantage Power Upgrade, creating a more potent version of the Aston Martin 4.3-litre V8 engine with an increase in Peak power of 20 bhp to 400 bhp while peak torque increased by 10 Nm to 420 Nm (310 lb/ft). This consists of the fitting of the following revised components; manifold assembly (painted Crackle Black), valved air box, right and left hand side vacuum hose assemblies, engine bay fuse box link lead (ECU to fuse box), throttle body to manifold gasket, intake manifold gasket, fuel injector to manifold seal and a manifold badge. The V8 Vantage had a retail price of GB£79,000, US$110,000, or €104,000 in 2006, Aston Martin planned to build up to 3,000 per year. Included was a 6-speed manual transmission and leather-upholstery for the seats, dash board, steering-wheel, and shift-knob. A new 6-speed sequential manual transmission, similar to those produced by Ferrari and Lamborghini, called Sportshift was introduced later as an option. An open-topped model was added to the range in 2006 and then in the quest for more power a V12 Vantage joined the range not long after. All told, Aston produced 18 different versions of the model in a production run which continued until 2018, with a number limited edition cars swelling the ranks.

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Designed, developed and built by Quattro GmbH, Audi’s high performance private subsidiary, the Audi R8 is often heralded as the world’s best everyday supercar. Built on an aluminium monocoque chassis, the R8 has been described by 6-time le Mans winner Jacky Ickx as the “best handling road car today”, high praise indeed, and he is far from the only person to be impressed. Even the UK motoring journalists, not renowned for the positive words that they pen on Audis (in complete contrast to their German peers) almost ran out of superlatives for this car. This is one of the V8 models, dating from 2009, which means that it has 430 bhp, a 0-60 time of 4.0 seconds and a top speed of 168 mph. There was a nice examples here.

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Also here was this A3 Sportback which bore ABT badging. ABT specialise in the tuning and modification of Audi and other VW Group cars. You rarely see them on British roads, though.

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There were two newly released BMWs here. Make up your mind on the visual appeal of either, but they don’t win any prizes with me. The front wheel drive 1 series, seen here in what will probably be one of the bigger selling versions, the 118s, manages to look clumsy and fussy from most angles, although there are far worse examples in the range. By all accounts, it is a decent enough car and the combination of the badge and finance deals mean it is bound to be a big seller, so will surely soon become a familiar sight on our roads.

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The other newcomer was the latest X3M. This is a costly machine, and so you would think it would only have a small potential market, but I never cease to be amazed by the number of people who somehow manage to fund one. This one did not actually get rave reviews when the UK press drove it a few weeks ago, but again, I doubt that will be much of a deterrent to those who want an M badged BMW.

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Oldest Ford here was this mildly modified Anglia 105E. Well known now, thanks to a starring role in the Harry Potter films, the Anglia 105E was launched in October 1959. It was a basic car, even in the better selling De Luxe version, so it was not surprising that Ford introduced a more powerful and luxurious model from 1962, the 123E Anglia Super. It had a larger 1198 cc engine and other refinements. Towards the end of the run Ford experimented with two colours of metallic paint on the Anglia, “Blue Mink” and “Venetian Gold”. 250 were made in the Blue and 500 were made in the Gold. Anglia saloons were provided with various levels of trim. The base model was the Standard, and this sported no chromework, painted rear light surrounds, steel slatted grille and limited interior trim. The deluxe had a chrome side strip, chrome rear lights, glovebox lid, sun visor and full width chrome radiator grille while the top of the range, also seen here, was the Super, which had twin chrome side strips, contrasting coloured roof and side flash, plusher interior trim, together with the 1198 cc engine and a gearbox with synchromesh on first gear. Production concluded at the end of 1967 when the car was replaced by the Escort.

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Complementing the rally version of the Sierra was this road-going Sierra RS Cosworth, a very sporting version of Ford’s upper-medium sized family car, which was built by Ford Europe from 1986 to 1992, the result of a Ford Motorsport project with the purpose of producing an outright winner for Group A racing in Europe. The project was defined in the spring of 1983 by Stuart Turner, then recently appointed head of Ford Motorsport in Europe, who had realised right away that Ford was no longer competitive in this area. Turner got in touch with Walter Hayes, at the time the vice-president of public relations at Ford, to get support for the project. Hayes had earlier been the driving force behind the development of the Ford GT40 that won Le Mans in 1966, and the Cosworth DFV engine that brought Ford 154 victories and 12 world championships in Formula One during the 1960s and 1970s. Hayes found the project very appealing and promised his full support. Turner then invited Ken Kohrs, vice-president of development, to visit Ford’s longtime partner, the automotive company Cosworth, where they were presented a project developed on Cosworth’s own initiative, the YAA engine. This was a twin cam, 16-valve engine based on Ford’s own T88 engine block, better known as the Pinto. This prototype proved an almost ideal basis for the engine Turner needed to power his Group A winner. Therefore, an official request for a turbocharged version (designated Cosworth YBB) capable of 180 HP on the street and 300 HP in race trim, was placed. Cosworth answered positively, but they put up two conditions: the engine would produce not less than 204 HP in the street version, and Ford had to accept no fewer than 15,000 engines. Turner’s project would only need about 5,000 engines, but Ford nevertheless accepted the conditions. The extra 10,000 engines would later become one of the reasons Ford also chose to develop a four door, second generation Sierra RS Cosworth. To find a suitable gearbox proved more challenging. The Borg-Warner T5, also used in the Ford Mustang, was chosen, but the higher revving nature of the Sierra caused some problems. Eventually Borg-Warner had to set up a dedicated production line for the gearboxes to be used in the Sierra RS Cosworth. Many of the suspension differences between the standard Sierra and the Cosworth attributed their development to what was learned from racing the turbocharged Jack Roush IMSA Merkur XR4Ti in America and Andy Rouse’s successful campaign of the 1985 British Saloon Car Championship. Much of Ford’s external documentation for customer race preparation indicated “developed for the XR4Ti” when describing parts that were Sierra Cosworth specific. Roush’s suspension and aerodynamics engineering for the IMSA cars was excellent feedback for Ford. Some production parts from the XR4Ti made their way into the Cosworth such as the speedometer with integral boost gauge and the motorsport 909 chassis stiffening plates. In April 1983, Turner’s team decided on the recently launched Sierra as a basis for their project. The Sierra filled the requirements for rear wheel drive and decent aerodynamic drag. A racing version could also help to improve the unfortunate, and somewhat undeserved, reputation that Sierra had earned since the introduction in 1982. Lothar Pinske, responsible for the car’s bodywork, demanded carte blanche when it came to appearance in order to make the car stable at high speed. Experience had shown that the Sierra hatchback body generated significant aerodynamic lift even at relatively moderate speed. After extensive wind tunnel testing and test runs at the Nardò circuit in Italy, a prototype was presented to the project management. This was based on an XR4i body with provisional body modifications in fibreglass and aluminium. The car’s appearance raised little enthusiasm. The large rear wing caused particular reluctance. Pinske insisted however that the modifications were necessary to make the project successful. The rear wing was essential to retain ground contact at 300 km/h, the opening between the headlights was needed to feed air to the intercooler and the wheel arch extensions had to be there to house wheels 10” wide on the racing version. Eventually, the Ford designers agreed to try to make a production version based on the prototype. In 1984, Walter Hayes paid visits to many European Ford dealers in order to survey the sales potential for the Sierra RS Cosworth. A requirement for participation in Group A was that 5,000 cars were built and sold. The feedback was not encouraging. The dealers estimated they could sell approximately 1,500 cars. Hayes did not give up, however, and continued his passionate internal marketing of the project. As prototypes started to emerge, dealers were invited to test drive sessions, and this increased the enthusiasm for the new car. In addition, Ford took some radical measures to reduce the price on the car. As an example, the car was only offered in three exterior colours (black, white and moonstone blue) and one interior colour (grey). There were also just two equipment options: with or without central locking and electric window lifts. The Sierra RS Cosworth was first presented to the public at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1985, with plans to release it for sale in September and closing production of the 5,000 cars in the summer of 1986. In practice, it was launched in July 1986. 5545 were manufactured in total of which 500 were sent to Tickford for conversion to the Sierra three-door RS500 Cosworth. The vehicles were manufactured in right hand drive only, and were made in Ford’s Genk factory in Belgium. Exactly 500 RS500s were produced, all of them RHD for sale in the UK only – the biggest market for this kind of Ford car. It was originally intended that all 500 would be black, but in practice 56 white and 52 moonstone blue cars were produced.To broaden the sales appeal, the second generation model was based on the 4 door Sierra Sapphire body. It was launched in 1988, and was assembled in Genk, Belgium, with the UK-built Ford-Cosworth YBB engine. Cylinder heads on this car were early spec 2wd heads and also the “later” 2wd head which had some improvements which made their way to the 4X4 head. Suspension was essentially the same with some minor changes in geometry to suit a less aggressive driving style and favour ride over handling. Spindles, wheel offset and other changes were responsible for this effect. Approximately 13,140 examples were produced during 1988-1989 and were the most numerous and lightest of all Sierra Cosworth models. Specifically the LHD models which saved weight with a lesser trim level such as manual rear windows and no air conditioning. In the UK, the RHD 1988-1989 Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth is badged as such with a small “Sapphire” badge on the rear door window trims. All 1988-1989 LHD models are badged and registered as a Sierra RS Cosworth with no Sapphire nomenclature at all. “Sapphire” being viewed as a Ghia trim level that saw power rear windows, air conditioning and other minor options. Enthusiasts of the marque are mindful of this and will describe the LHD cars by their body shell configuration, 3 door or 4 door. As the Sapphire Cosworth was based on a different shell to the original three-door Cosworth, along with its more discreet rear wing, recorded a drag co-efficient of 0.33, it registered slightly better performance figures, with a top speed of 150 mph and 0-60 of 6.1 seconds, compared to the original Cosworth. In January 1990, the third generation Sierra RS Cosworth was launched, this time with four wheel drive. As early as 1987, Mike Moreton and Ford Motorsport had been talking about a four wheel drive Sierra RS Cosworth that could make Ford competitive in the World Rally Championship. The Ferguson MT75 gearbox that was considered an essential part of the project wasn’t available until late 1989 however. Ford Motorsport’s desire for a 3-door “Motorsport Special” equivalent to the original Sierra RS Cosworth was not embraced. The more discreet 4-door version was considered to have a better market potential. It was therefore decided that the new car should be a natural development of the second generation, to be launched in conjunction with the face lift scheduled for the entire Sierra line in 1990. The waiting time gave Ford Motorsport a good opportunity to conduct extensive testing and demand improvements. One example was the return of the bonnet louvres. According to Ford’s own publicity material, 80% of the engine parts were also modified. The improved engine was designated YBJ for cars without a catalyst and YBG for cars with a catalyst. The latter had the red valve cover replaced by a green one, to emphasise the environmental friendliness. Four wheel drive and an increasing amount of equipment had raised the weight by 100 kg, and the power was therefore increased to just about compensate for this. The Sierra RS Cosworth 4×4 received, if possible, an even more flattering response than its predecessors and production continued until the end of 1992, when the Sierra was replaced by the Mondeo. The replacement for the Sierra RS Cosworth was not a Mondeo however, but the Escort RS Cosworth. This was to some extent a Sierra RS Cosworth clad in an “Escort-like” body. The car went on sale in May 1992, more than a year after the first pre-production examples were shown to the public, and was homologated for Group A rally in December, just as the Sierra RS Cosworth was retired. It continued in production until 1996. The Sierra and Sapphire Cosworths were undoubted performance bargains when new, but they also gained a reputation both for suffering a lot of accidents in the hands of the unskilled and also for being among the most frequently stole cars of their generation. These days, though, there are some lovely and treasured examples around and indeed you are far more likely to see a Cosworth version of the Sierra than one of the volume selling models.

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Ford played much the same guessing game about whether there would be an RS version of the third generation car as they had done with the earlier versions. Production of the regular cars started in late 2010, but it was not until the 2015 Geneva Motor Show before the production ready MKIII Ford Focus RS was unveiled. It came packing the turbocharged 2.3-litre inline-four engine found in the Mustang EcoBoost. In the Focus RS, the engine itself produces 350 hp. Power is sent to all four wheels via Ford’s all-new Torque-Vectoring All-Wheel-Drive system with a rear drive unit designed by GKN, as well as upgraded suspension and brakes. As well as that, the new Focus RS will be fitted with Drive Modes – including an industry-first Drift Mode that allows controlled oversteer drifts – and Launch Control. The RS will boast a model specific aerodynamic package that helps to differentiate it from other Focus models. The RS is capable of accelerating to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.7 seconds. Sales finally started in mid 2016, with long waiting lists having been created, though Ford did eventually catch up with expanded production levels allowing them to meet the demand. There were a couple of them here.

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Final Ford of note was an example of the early Mustang.

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On previous visits, there have been lots of performance-oriented Honda models here, This time there was only one of note, an S2000, the much missed sports car that Honda produced to mark their 50th anniversary. The S2000 was first alluded to at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show, with the Honda Sport Study Model (SSM) concept car, a rear-wheel-drive roadster powered by a 2.0 litre inline 4-cylinder engine and featuring a rigid ‘high X-bone frame’ which Honda claimed improved the vehicle’s rigidity and collision safety. The concept car was constructed with aluminium body panels and featured a 50:50 weight distribution. The SSM appeared at many automotive shows for several years afterwards, hinting at the possibility of a production version, which Honda finally announced in 1999. It featured a front mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout with power being delivered by a 1,997 cc inline 4-cylinder DOHC-VTEC engine. The engine produced outputs of 237–247 hp, and 153–161 lb/ft depending on the target market., and it was mated to a six-speed manual transmission and Torsen limited slip differential. The S2000 achieved what Honda claimed as “the world’s top level, high performance 4-cylinder naturally aspirated engine”. Features included independent double wishbone suspension, electrically assisted steering and integrated roll hoops. The compact and lightweight engine, mounted entirely behind the front axle, allowed the S2000 to achieve a 50:50 front/rear weight distribution and lower rotational inertia. An electrically powered vinyl top with internal cloth lining was standard, with an aluminium hardtop available as an optional extra. Although the S2000 changed little visually during its production run, there were some alterations, especially in 2004, at which point production of the S2000 moved to Suzuka. The facelifted car introduced 17 in wheels and Bridgestone RE-050 tyres along with a retuned suspension to reduce oversteer. The spring rates and shock absorber damping were altered and the suspension geometry modified to improve stability by reducing toe-in changes under cornering loads. The subframe has also received a revision in design to achieve a high rigidity. In the gearbox the brass synchronisers were replaced with carbon fibre. In addition, cosmetic changes were made to the exterior with new front and rear bumpers, revised headlight assemblies, new LED tail-lights, and oval-tipped exhausts. Although all the cosmetic, suspension and most drivetrain upgrades were included on the Japanese and European S2000s, they retained the 2.0l F20C engine and remained designated as an AP1. A number of special editions were made, such as the more track-oriented Club Racer version offered in the US in 2007/8 and the Type S for Japan in 2008/9. The UK received a GT for 2009, which featured a removable hard-top and an outside temperature gauge. The S2000 Ultimate Edition (continental Europe) and GT Edition 100 (UK) were limited versions of the S2000 released to commemorate the end of production. Both included Grand Prix White body colour, removable hard top, graphite-coloured alloy wheels, red leather interior with red colouring for stitching on the gear lever gaiter. The Ultimate Edition was unveiled at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show and went on sale in March 2009. The GT Edition 100 was a limited run of 100 units released for the UK market. In addition to the Ultimate Edition’s specification, it featured a black S2000 badge and a numbered plaque on the kick-plate indicating which vehicle in the series it was. The car was never replaced, as Honda decided to head off in the same direction as Toyota, producing a series of very dull appliance-like cars that focused on low emissions and dependability but of no appeal to the sort of enthusiast who bought (and probably kept!) an S2000.

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Parked up with a disparate group of modern performance oriented machines was this Kia Pro-cee’d GT-line. It would probably be stretching a point even to call this a warm hatch, as although it does sport some of the styling touches inside and out to denote something a cut above the regular volume sellers, the reality is that there were no significant changes to the mechanical specification to give the car any wilder a performance. That said, this is still a smart looking car and will doubtless deliver reliable motoring to its owner for years to come, even if he or she cannot quite keep up with their mates when the foot is hard on the floor.

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My Ghibli was not the only one present, as I also came across this model, in the very attractive paintwork that Maserati call Blu Emozione.

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A real star of the day. and the largest vehicle present was a Mercedes-Benz G500 4×4². This was initially shown to the public as a concept car, called “Extreme-G”. One reason the concept was developed was due to the high demand for the G-Class — in 2014 the G-Class sold over 14,000 units, which is a lot for such an expensive type of vehicle, and with high profit margins to boot. As a result, a considerable budget for low-volume derivatives was authorised. Positive response to this show car helped endorse the development of a series production version. The car was launched at the Geneva Show and brought into production in 2015. The Mercedes-Benz G500 4×4² has a 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine producing 416 bhp and 450 lb/ft (610 Nm) of torque, a seven-speed automatic transmission, and three lockable differentials, like any regular G-Wagen. The special axles and wheels are complemented by suspension with dual spring and shock damper struts with adjustable damping, on all corners. The car features very aggressive styling, that uses the front fascia copied from the G63 and G65 AMG, and dual side-pipe exhausts that exit ahead of the rear wheels on both flanks. The vehicle’s ground clearance of 410 mm (16.1 in) slightly betters that of a Humvee, but it can sprint from naught to 60 mph in less than six seconds. On the inside, the car offers comfort and materials similar to a luxury saloon.
Compared to the already very robust standard G550, the 4×4² still offers much more of every off-road specification: 7.9 in (20 cm) of extra ground-clearance, 15.8 in (40 cm) of additional wading depth, a 21.6-degree steeper approach-angle, 23.4 degrees greater breakover-, and 13.4 extra degrees departure-angle. The front track is wider by 9 inches (23 cm), the rear by 10 inches (25 cm). The Mercedes 4×4² beats the Hummer H1 on paper in almost every off-road measurement — except for traversing a slope. The 4×4² is limited to a 28.4 degrees bank-angle, compared with the Humvee’s 30°. Though initially not available, the car was introduced to the U.S. market as a 2017 model – called the G550 4×4² – at an introduction price around $200,000. In spite of the difference in designation, it has the same drivetrain as the global version. Few were sold in the UK.

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As well as the Cooper version seen earlier in this report there was a regular 1973 Mini 1000 model here.

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Although the styling has change little for a very long time, this is a recent product from Morgan.

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There were a couple of different generations of the GT-R here, including the current R35 cars.

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These days when you see a Peugeot 205. it tends to be one of the legendary GTi models, but there are surviving examples of the less sporting cars out there, too, and this was one of them, a relatively late model Style. The styling of the 205 is often thought to be a Pininfarina design, although Gerard Welter claims it is an in-house design; Pininfarina only styled the Cabriolet. It is often credited as the car that turned Peugeot’s fortunes around. Before the 205, Peugeot was considered the most conservative of France’s “big three” car manufacturers, producing large saloons such as the 504 and 505, although it had entered the modern supermini market in 1973 with the Peugeot 104. The genesis of the 205 lay within Peugeot’s takeover in 1978 of Chrysler’s European divisions Simca and the former Rootes Group, which had the necessary expertise in making small cars including the Simca 1100 in France and Hillman Imp in Britain. It was around this time that Peugeot began to work on the development of a new supermini for the 1980s. It was launched on 24 February 1983, and was launched in right-hand drive form for the UK market in September that year. Shortly after its launch, it was narrowly pipped to the European Car of the Year award by the similar sized Fiat Uno, but ultimately (according to the award organizers) it would enjoy a better image and a longer high market demand than its Italian competitor. It was one of five important small cars to be launched onto the European market within a year of each other – the other three models being the Uno, the second generation Ford Fiesta, the original Opel Corsa (sold as the Vauxhall Nova on the British market) and the original Nissan Micra. Its launch also closely followed that of the Austin Metro and Volkswagen Polo MK2. Early 205s used the X engine (commonly nicknamed the Douvrin “Suitcase Engine”) from the older Peugeot 104, although these were later (1987–1988) replaced with the newer XU and TU-series engines, which were of PSA design. Engines ranged from 954 cc to 1905 cc engine displacement, in carburettor or fuel injected petrol and diesel versions. Its use of the now standard PSA Peugeot Citroën suspension layout of MacPherson struts at the front, with torsion bar suspension rear suspension, that debuted in the Peugeot 305 estate, was a key ingredient of the success of the 205. This is fully independent using torsion bars (Torsion spring) and trailing arms. It is very compact and was designed to minimise suspension intrusion into the boot, giving a wide flat loadspace, while providing excellent ride and handling. The diesel models employed the XUD PSA Diesel inline-four engine, lifted from the Citroën BX which was introduced in September 1982. These XUD engines had a capacity of 1769 cc (XUD7) and 1905 cc (XUD9) and are closely related to the XU5 and XU9 petrol engines in the BX16 and BX19 of the time respectively, as well as the engines later used in the 205 GTI 1.6 and Automatic (also 1.6) and GTI 1.9 respectively (other Peugeot/Citroën [PSA] products, such as the 305 and Talbot Horizon as well as the BX, used the XUD9 1905 cc Diesel engine of the same capacity as the 205 GTI 1.9 and Citroën BX 19 petrol engined models). The XUD7 (and XUD9) Diesel Engines were world-beating and so petrol-like that many buyers were won over by petrol car performance combined with diesel economy. The 205 GRD (1.8 Diesel, 59 bhp, 78 lb/ft (105.8 Nm)), for instance, was as fast yet smoother than the 205 GR (1.4 Petrol, 59 bhp, 78 lb/ft (105.8 Nm)), due to the engine developing peak torque at much lower rpm, while using much less fuel. There were also various versions intended for commercial use, such as the two-seater XA-series. There was also the “205 Multi”, a tall-bodied special version on XA or XE-basis built by independent coachbuilders like Gruau and Durisotti. Gruau called their XA-based two-seater version the “VU”, while the five-seat XE-based version was called the “VP”. Durisotti began building the 205 Multi in 1986; it was called the “205 Multi New Look”. The 205 was an instant hit, and its styling was echoed in every Peugeot model that was to follow. The exterior styling was never facelifted or significantly altered in its 15-year production run. There was a dashboard redesign for the 1988 model year, and in late 1990 the 205 received new door design and cards, clear front indicators, new ‘smoked’ rear light clusters, single point petrol injection and catalytic converters were introduced, to meet the new 1992 pollution limits. These updates came at a crucial time, as 1990 also saw the arrival of a completely new French competitor, the Renault Clio, while the Rover Metro and Volkswagen Polo were also heavily updated, and Ford had already replaced its Fiesta with a third generation model. Still, the 205 was still widely regarded in the motoring press as the benchmark car in this sector by 1990. At the beginning of 1993, Peugeot launched the 306, which officially replaced the 309; the arrival of this car also diminished the 205’s role (and its sales figures) in the Peugeot range, as had the arrival of the smaller 106 in September 1991 – although the final demise of the 205 was still some years away. The engines were continuously updated, with the new “TU” engines introduced in 1988. In 1991, the 205 dTurbo was launched with a powerful, turbocharged version of the 1,769 cc xud diesel engine. After several years of gradually declining sales, the Peugeot 205 was discontinued in the United Kingdom in 1996. The Peugeot 205 was still offered in the “Sacré Numéro” and “Génération” models until the end of the production in 1998, the last models were GLD 1.7 configuration and were sold in Argentina. Most of the later European versions were only sold in France. Due to the pressure from the market, with buyers wanting a Peugeot supermini in the mould of the 205 again, the company finally built a direct replacement in the 206, which was launched in 1998. 5,278,050 Peugeot 205s have been sold, and a significant percentage of them were still in circulation as of 2009. By 2014, there were still as many as 14,000 on the road in the United Kingdom, compared to the peak high of 374,773 in 1994. With potentially as many 400,000 sales in the UK, it became the best selling car ever sold by Peugeot in the UK – although its success was emulated a few years later by the larger 306 and later by the 206. It also helped boost the popularity of the Peugeot brand there, as well as being at least a factor in Peugeot’s decision to phase out the Talbot brand in the mid 1980s when launching new models to be built at the former Rootes Group plant near Coventry and the former Simca plant at Poissy.

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Until the recent addition of the Spyder model at the top of the 718 Boxster range, the GTS version had been the top of the range, and it was generally seen as the pick of those on offer, even if the switch to a 4 cylinder turbo instead of the V6 model of its predecessor was seen as a largely regrettable step.

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Quantum Sports Cars was founded by Mark and Harvey Wooldridge in 1987 and since that time they had a series of cars which have all been based on a succession of Ford Fiesta platforms. The first car was a hatchback which looked a little like the Ginetta G26. Only small numbers of these cars were made. By 1993 the firm was also offering a 2+2 convertible, also based on the Ford Fiesta Mark 2, which has been Quantum’s most successful model with 431 examples built to date. Since the previous model had evolved, at the time the Wooldridges considered this to be their second model: numbering therefore began “Q2-001”, which is now owned by a long term club member. One 2+2 with a two-litre engine rather than the more common Fiesta XR2 one, was featured in magazine articles and also loaned to the BBC’s Top Gear for testing. Jeremy Clarkson and his wife drove the car and compared it favourably with mass-market alternatives such as the Mazda MX-5 during the test. The only criticism was based on the smell of new fibreglass. The 2+2 is a practical open top sports tourer, with a large boot and spacious interior, while remaining light and sporty. The prototype, and a handful of early customer cars, had round headlights but the alternative nose with the drop down flaps was offered as production started and proved far more popular. Another 2+2, number 013, built by its owner in Pinner, Middlesex in 1993, the only one outside Europe, is now in New Zealand. A Ford 1800cc diesel was substituted for the original XR2 petrol engine, and a turbocharger has been added. The vehicle is in daily use, both as a family car and – with or without a trailer – for some of the parcel carrying trade of Allbays Transport, an Auckland North Shore passenger and courier goods transport business. A handful of 2+2 LHD cars are in The Netherlands and one is in Germany. One owner has converting his to full electric drive using HPEVS AC50 motor with Curtis 1238 controller with Li battery pack front and rear. It also has power steering, Mk4 fiesta dash, electric heating and many other upgrades. The 2+2 is no longer made but plans had been mooted by the previous owners of QSC to further revise the design to offer more spacious rear seats, although to date this has not happened. About 455 2+2 cars were built. The next car, called the H4, as it was the fourth different design was based on the next generation Fiesta. Just 215 of these were made between 1998 and 2003 at which point the brothers decided to sell up, and the moulds were sold on to an Iranian company. The rest of the company was also sold on. And it was sold on again in 2010. There have been quite a few changes of location and ownership since then, with the company still in business, based in Devon and these days the company produce a sort of slightly awkward looking alternative to a Caterham or a Westfield.

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A couple of hot Renault models caught my eye, both of them from the Clio family.

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In 2004, Subaru launched an STI variant of the Forester, the Forester STI, for the Japanese Market, sharing the same engine as the 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Starting with the 2004 XT, the turbocharged version had active valve control system AVCS cylinder heads. The i-AVLS active valve lift system became standard on the naturally aspirated version of the Forester in 2006. This increased horsepower and torque figures to 173 bhp and 166 lb/ft. The 2006 XT received a higher compression ratio to 8.4:1 from 8.2:1. This increased the XT’s power to 230 bhp and 235 lb/ft. A small number of these cars came to the UK as grey imports and this is one.

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This is an Impreza WRX from the first generation of the Impreza family. There have been seven noted versions of the WRX dating back from Subaru’s original World Rally Cross staging vehicles. Subaru adopted the name “WRX” to stand for “World Rally eXperimental” as all WRX versions (1992 to present) feature rally inspired technology, including all wheel drive, stiffened suspensions and turbocharged four cylinder engines. The STi versions were marketed with consecutive numbers. Another way to determine the version of a WRX was to look at the chassis code. All WRX sold between 1992 and 2000 have the beginning chassis code of GC8 2/4 door sedan or GF8 hatchback; this is followed by a letter from A to G. Coupe versions share the “GC” code with sedans, except in the US, where they have a separate chassis code of “GM”. In 1994, Subaru introduced Subaru Tecnica International (STi badged) versions of the WRX in Japan. These models were upgraded from the standard WRX in many categories, including blueprinted performance-tuned engines, transmissions, and suspensions. The STi versions of the WRX were immensely successful in rallies and popular among street racers but were only sold in the Japanese market. Compared to the WRX, the STi had mostly mechanical modifications. (STi prepped Subaru rally cars since 1988 including the Legacy RS, the WRX STi Version was just the first car with an actual STi badge, though with handcrafted tuning). The WRX debuted in November 1992 with 240 PS. The centre differential was a viscous coupling type, the rear limited slip differential was a viscous type. The WRX Type RA is a stripped down version of the WRX that was available in the Japanese market for people to purchase for motorsports and tuning. Targeted for race and rally, the RA versions were generally lighter in weight; featuring reduced soundproofing, manual windows, car horn delete, no air conditioning, no anti-lock brakes, and added racing features such as more robust engines, 5th injection, intercooler water spray and shorter gearing. The WRX Type RA uses a closer ratio gearbox and a three-spoke leather steering wheel from Nardi. The ra model chassis code between GC8-(000000 to 005000) are only sold to the race team by order. Close ratio transmission is anticipated race use, the gap between each gear is brought closer together and a specific close ratio transmission is used. In Europe, the WRX was introduced as the Impreza GT, and as the Impreza Turbo 2000 (UK). It came with 208 hp. A bewildering array of different versions would follow until the release of the second generation Impreza in 2000.

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Subaru introduced the “New Age” Impreza, the second generation car, to Japan in August 2000, and it arrived in Europe towards the end of that year. Larger in size compared to the previous iteration, the sedan increased its width by 40 mm (1.6 in), while the wagon notably increased by just 5 mm (0.2 in)—placing the two variants in different Japanese classification categories. The coupe body style from the first generation did not reappear for the new series, and the off-road appearance package that included contrasting-coloured bumpers did carry over forward. Marketed as a separate model line, this North America-only variant was, as before, badged the Outback Sport. Naturally aspirated flat-four (boxer) engines comprised the 1.5-litre EJ15, the 1.6-litre EJ16, the 2.0-litre EJ20, and the 2.5-litre EJ25. Turbocharged versions of the 2.0- and 2.5-litre engines were offered in the WRX and WRX STI models. STI models featured a more powerful 2.0-litre (2.5-litre outside of the Japanese market) turbocharged engine. WRX models featured a 2.0-litre turbocharged boxer engine until 2005, after which they switched to the 2.5-litre turbocharged engine. As with the first generation, the turbocharged STI variants were available in numerous specifications with a myriad of limited edition variants sold. The bug-eyed styling was not well received, and Subaru had two further attempts at the front end, neither of which was entirely successful, either, but enthusiasts were happy to overlook the gawky looks because the way the car drove. Subaru issued yearly updates to the STI, tweaking cosmetics and equipment levels, and also improving performance and handling. The car was replaced in 2007 by the third generation Impreza, widely regarded as inferior in many ways to this version.

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From the long-running Beetle range was this 1303 model. Once production got underway, VW continued to evolve from their original design, with a series of evolutionary changes. Among the most significant were those which came in for the first time in 1971. From this point there were 2 different Beetle models: the familiar standard Beetle and a new, larger version, different from the windscreen forward. All Beetles received an engine upgrade: the optional 1500 cc engine was replaced by a 1600 cc with twin-port cylinder heads and a larger, relocated oil cooler. The new engine produced 60 hp. The ventilation system was improved with the original dash-top vents augmented by a second pair aimed directly at the driver and passenger. For the first time the system was a flow-through design with crescent-shaped air exits fitted behind the rear quarter windows. Airflow could be increased via an optional 2-speed fan. The standard Beetle was now badged as the VW 1300; when equipped with the 1600 engine, it was badged 1300 S, to avoided confusion with the Type 3, which wore VW 1600 badges. The new, larger Beetle was sold as the 1302/1302 S, offering nearly 43% more luggage capacity, up from 140 litres in front to 260 (remaining at 140 in back). A new MacPherson strut front suspension was incorporated, similar to what was used in the Type 4, and the front track was widened. The new suspension layout allowed the spare tire to be positioned flat under the trunk floor. Although the car had to be lengthened slightly to accomplish this, it allowed a reduction in turning radius. To gain additional trunk volume, the under-dash panel[clarification needed] was lowered, allowing the fuel tank to be shifted rearward. From the windscreen back the big Beetle was identical to its smaller progenitor, except for having the also new semi-trailing arm rear suspension as standard equipment. Overall, the bigger Beetle was 50 mm (2.0 in) longer, 35 mm (1.4 in) wider, and rode on a 20 mm (0.79 in)-longer wheelbase. Both Beetles were available with or without the L Package. The convertible was now based on the 1302 body. 1972 models had an 11% larger rear window (40 mm [1.6 in] taller), and the convertible engine lid with four rows of louvres was now used on all Beetles. Inside the vehicle, a four-spoke energy-absorbing steering wheel was introduced, the windshield wiper/washer knob was replaced in favour of a steering column stalk, and intermittent wipers were a new option available in selected markets. An engine compartment socket for the proprietary VW Diagnosis system was also introduced. The rear luggage area was fitted with a folding parcel shelf. A limited-edition Commemorative model was launched in celebration of the Beetle’s passing the record of the Ford Model T as the world’s most-produced automobile. The Commemorative Beetle was a 1302 S finished in a special Marathon Blue Metallic paint and unique 4.5 x 15 styled steel wheels. 1973 models featured significantly enlarged “elephant foot” taillamps mounted in reshaped rear fenders. In the engine bay, the oil-bath air cleaner gave way to a dry element filter, and the generator was replaced with an alternator. The 1302/Super became the 1303 with a new taller wrap-around windscreen. The changes to the cowl and windshield resulted in slight redesign of the front hood. The instrument panel, formerly shared with the standard Beetle, was all-new and incorporated a raised speedometer pod, rocker-style switches and side-window defrosters. The 1303 was deleted in 1976, as by this time, the new front wheel drive cars had started to build up sales momentum, and it was clear that the Beetle’s popularity was on the wane.

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This was as most enjoyable visit, as indeed every occasion when I have stopped by has proved to be. As well as a splendid array of cars to remind us of a sadly departed rallying legend, there was a nice variety of cars to see. I look forward to many visits in 2020.

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