Historic racing has become big business. Gone are the days when this was exclusively the preserve of the amateur, as nowadays at any event – and there are lots of them, but just in the UK, but at race tracks across Europe and beyond – you will see the same sort of slick operation involving a large pit crew, many of whom attend with a vast array of spares and tools, and there will be a paddock lined with massive race transporters, barely that different from those used by the likes of big-budget Formula 1. The origins of historic racing may be entwined in a combination of enthusiasm, nostalgia and the fact that there was a lower barrier to entry than for the professionals, but even as the budgets required to complete successfully have gone ever higher, there is still a more relaxed atmosphere at the events where cars of all manned of types and ages compete in ways that they would perhaps would not have done in period, all of which adds to the charm of these race meets and is why they are so popular with large crowds of attendees, both those participating and those who come along to watch. The Donington circuit added itself to the calendar back in 2011 with a three day Historic Festival, held over the early May Bank Holiday weekend, and the event quickly established itself on the calendar for competitors and enthusiasts alike. I’ve attended every year, generally only for one day, as it is unfortunately the case that it always clashes with the unmissable Auto Italia event at Brooklands and always enjoyed it, despite the fact that the weather has sometimes felt more like March than May. Here is my report from Day 3 of the 2018 Festival.
IN THE PITS AND PADDOCK
As with most classic and historic racing events, there is completely unrestricted access to the Pits and the Paddock, so you can get really close to the cars and all the preparation work, and when mechanics and drivers are not busy, they are always more than happy to talk about the sport they love, and their cars. Historic racing is big business these days, and although there is the odd privateer clearly entering on a low budget, most of what you see here is part of a slick operation which brings not just the cars, but countless sets of tyres, and all manner of spares and tools. Massive race transporters fill the Paddock area, and those associated all seem to know the drill as to how to unpack and set up in the Pits, and as soon as racing is finished, to pack up and head off to wherever the next racing weekend will be, likely another country in Europe for most of the entrants. So there’s always plenty of activity, and if you go back more than once during the day, as I did, what you see will be quite different. I’ve been to many historic racing events over the past few years, so a lot of the competing cars are familiar, but there are always a few that I’ve not come across before.
The event followed much the same format as it had done in 2017 when things had been amended so that the 3-day meet ran from Friday to Sunday, with all the qualifying taking place on the Friday, meaning that all track activity on Saturday and Sunday was competitive racing, with 19 different races squeezed into a packed agenda. These varied in length from 20 minutes to a gruelling 2 hours and wWith lots of different categories of cars, of differing types and ages, there was plenty of variety between one race and the next. Although I did spend a considerable part of the day watching the racing, all the photos are of the cars when they were in the pits or paddock area.
“MAD JACK” PRE WAR SPORTS CARS
Named after Richard ‘Mad Jack’ Shuttleworth, winner of the first-ever Donington Grand Prix in 1935, this was a race for pre-war sport cars. and was perhaps my favourite grid of the day, with all manner of fabulous machines from the 1920s and 30s competing for honours.
One of my absolute favourites was this Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Zagato Spyder. Although we now think of Alfa Romeos as a manufacturer of road cars, their prime focus in the 1920s and 30s was on racing. In the quest for more power, and hence speed, the first Alfa 8 cylinder engine was created by Vittorio Jano in 1924 for the 1987 cc P2. It featured a common crankcase and four plated-steel two-cylinder blocks, and in the P2, it won the first World Championship ever in 1925. Although it was a straight-8, the 8C designation was not used. Alfa’s efforts for the rest of the 20s were focused around 6 cylinder units, with the legendary 6C 1750 cars earning their place in history with successes in most of the notable races of the era. But to keep up with the competition, more power was needed for the 1930s, and this led to a renewed effort with a straight 8, a new 8C engine. First entered at the 1931 Mille Miglia, this unit also designed by Jano had a common crankcase, now with two alloy four-cylinder blocks, which also incorporated the heads. The bore and stroke (and hence rods, pistons and the like), were the same as the 6C 1750 (bore: 65 mm, stroke: 88 mm 2,336 cc). There was no separate head, and no head gasket to fail, but this made valve maintenance more difficult. A central gear tower drove the overhead camshafts, superchargers and ancillaries. It went on to power two models, the 8C 2300 (1931–1935) and the even more rare and expensive 8C 2900 (1936–1941), where the bore was increased to 68 mm and stroke to 100 mm to give an engine of 2,905 cc. It is the 8C2300 models which are the better known of these, and are highly prized these days. Initially, Alfa Romeo announced that the 8C was not to be sold to private owners, but by autumn 1931 Alfa were selling the unit installed in a rolling chassis in Lungo (long) or Corto (short) form with prices starting at over £1000. The chassis were fitted with bodies from a selection of Italian coach-builders such as Zagato, Carrozzeria Touring, Carrozzeria Castagna, Pininfarina and Brianza, even though Alfa Romeo did also make their own bodies. Some chassis were clothed by coach-builders such as Graber, Worblaufen and Tuscher of Switzerland and Figoni of France. Alfa Romeo also had a practice of rebodying cars for clients, and some racing vehicles were sold rebodied as road vehicles. Some of the famous first owners include Baroness Maud Thyssen of the Thyssen family, the owner of the aircraft and now scooter company Piaggio Andrea Piaggio, Raymond Sommer, and Tazio Nuvolari. The first model was the 1931 ‘8C 2300′, initially designed as a racing car, but actually produced in 188 units also for road use. Alfa often added the name of a circuit where the car had triumphed to the model name. Hence the 8C 2300 tipo Le Mans’ was a sport version of the ‘8C 2300’ which had a successful debut in the 1931 Eireann Cup driven by Henry Birkin and then went on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1931 (Howe-Birkin); 1932 (Chinetti-Sommer); 1933 (Nuvolari-Sommer) and 1934 (Chinetti-Etancelin). The racing version of the 8C 2300 Spider, driven by Tazio Nuvolari won the 1931 and 1932 Targa Florio race in Sicily, the 1931 Italian Grand Prix victory at Monza gave the “Monza” name to the twin seater GP car, a shortened version of the Spider.
This is an Ulster. Between 1926 and 1937 Bertelli was both technical director and designer of all new Aston Martins, and the cars for which he was responsible are now known as “Bertelli cars”. They included the 1½-litre “T-type”, “International”, “Le Mans”, “MKII” and its racing derivative, the “Ulster”, and the 2-litre 15/98 and its racing derivative, the “Speed Model”. Most were open two-seater sports cars bodied by Bert Bertelli’s brother Enrico (Harry), with a small number of long-chassis four-seater tourers, dropheads and saloons also produced. Bertelli was a competent driver keen to race his cars, one of few owner/manufacturer/drivers. The “LM” team cars were very successful in national and international motor racing including at Le Mans and the Mille Miglia. Whereas two of the 1934 Tourist Trophy Team Cars were rebuilt Le Mans racers, this, the third car, LM17, was built on a brand new chassis. It finished the TT in 7th overall and completed the Aston Martin 1-2-3 result. Ahead of the 1935 season, it was sold to privateer racer Maurice Falkner. He used it to win the 1.5-litre class in that year’s Mille Miglia and also competed in the 1935 Tourist Trophy and the 1936 Spa 24 Hours. Restored to its original, 1934 Tourist Trophy specification and colours, it has been part of Nick Mason’s collection for many years.
There was a second Ulster model here.
There were lots of vintage Bentley models in the class, the majority of them 3 litre cars.
The Frazer Nash company was founded in 1922 by Archibald Frazer-Nash who had, with Henry Ronald Godfrey founded and run the GN cyclecar company. The company was established in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, moving to Isleworth, Middlesex in 1929. The company entered receivership in 1927 and re-emerged as AFN Limited. The majority of AFN was acquired by H. J. (“Aldy”) Aldington in 1929 and run by the three Aldington brothers, H.J., Donald A. and William H. Aldy’s son, John Taylor (“JT”) Aldington was the last of the family owners/directors until AFN Ltd was sold to Porsche GB. The company produced around 400 of the famous chain drive models between 1924 and 1939. They were all built to order, with a surprisingly long list of different models offered during this time. Most had 1.5 litre 4 cylinder engines, and many of the models were built only in single digits, but the Fast Tourer/Super Sports and the TT Replica models were made in significant quantity.
This is a Low Chassis S Type Invicta. Invicta was founded by Noel Macklin with Oliver Lyle of the sugar family providing finance. Assembly took place in Macklin’s garage at his home at Fairmile Cottage on the main London to Portsmouth road in Cobham, Surrey. Macklin had previously tried car making with Eric-Campbell & Co Limited and his own Silver Hawk Motor Company Limited. The Invicta cars were designed to combine flexibility, the ability to accelerate from virtual standstill in top gear, with sporting performance. With the assistance of William (Willie) Watson, his mechanic from pre-World War I racing days, a prototype was built on a Bayliss-Thomas frame with Coventry Simplex engine in the stables of Macklin’s house on the western side of Cobham. The first production car, the 1925 2½ litre used a Meadows straight six, overhead-valve engine and four-speed gearbox in a chassis with semi elliptical springs all round cost from £595. Two different chassis lengths were available, 9 feet 4 inches (2.84 m) SC and 10 feet (3.0 m) LC to cater for the customer’s choice of bodywork. As demand grew a lot of the construction work went to Lenaerts and Dolphens in Barnes, London but final assembly and test remained at Fairmile. The engine grew to 3 litres in 1926 and 4½ litres in late 1928. The larger engine was used in the William Watson designed 1929 4½ litre NLC chassis available in short 9 feet 10 inches or long 10 feet 6 inches versions, but the less expensive A Type replaced the NLC in 1930. In 1930 the S-type, the best known of the company’s models, was launched at the London Motor Show. Still using the 4½ litre Meadows engine but in a low chassis slung under the rear axle. About 75 were made.
Although the Maserati company was founded in 1914, the first cars to bear the famous name did not appear until 1926. Fittingly, that is why it is called the Tipo 26. 43 of these cars were made, with a variety of engines from 1100 to 2500cc. This is a Tipo 26B and dates from 1929.
BTCC CARS, 1958 – 1966
There were several races for Touring Cars, ranging from those which would have competed 60 years ago, right through to the Super Touring Cars of the late 90s. For the earliest of these cars, there were two different races, on the Saturday and Sunday. First of these, which I did not see, as it was on he Saturday afternoon was the HRDC “Touring Greats” for pre-’60 Touring Cars and then on the Sunday there was a race for the HRDC “Coy’s Trophy” for cars from 1958 – 1966. There was immense variety in the cars entered for these races, with everything from the small but effective Mini Cooper, the Hillman Imp and Morris Minor competing against the might of the V8-engined Ford Falcons. Other stars of the class included the popular Mk1 Jaguar and Alfa Romeo Giulietta Ti Berlina.
PRE-66 UNDER 2 LITRE TOURING CARS (U2TC)
There are always plenty of Ford Lotus Cortinas in the U2TC for pre-66 under two-litre Touring Cars and they always face stiff opposition from such models as BMW 1800 TISA and Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA. just as they did in period.
SUPER TOURING CAR CHALLENGE: 1970 – 2005
A very wide time-span on this category, which took to the track on both Saturday and Sunday meant that there was massive variety in the cars competing, with models from across the 35 year period. There was an additional race, the Historic Touring Car Tony Dron Trophy held on the Saturday for which only the pre 1991 cars could compete.
Cars from the 1970s included a BMW 3.0 CSL, the ill-fated Jaguar XJC as well as Fords Escort RS1800 and Mark 2, Capri as well as a couple of rather nice Alfa Romeos, a Sud Sprint and an Alfetta GTV.
Entrant from the mid 80s were a couple of Rover SD1 cars. Not particularly successful when new, as they lacked reliability, the Bastos-liveried one was driven by Steve Soper to third place in this race.
Dating from more recent times were a number of stars from the late 90s: the Audi A4, the Alfa 156, Honda Accord, Volvo 850 T5 and a surprise entrant, a Holden Commodore, piloted by Abi Eaton.
GT AND SPORTS CAR CUP
Competing in a gruelling two hour race on Sunday morning were the entrants in this class which comprised genuine pre-66 GT cars and pre-63 sports-racing cars of a type that was raced in the World Endurance Championship in period. The grid featured some really glamorous machines such as the Lightweight E-type and Ferrari 250 GT Berlinettas as well as such iconic machines as Short Wheelbase Ferraris, DB4GT Astons, AC Aces, MGA Twincams, SZ Alfas, Lotus Elites and E-type Jaguars – all to genuine pre-1963 specification. The pre-63 sports cars had competed in a 1 hour race of their own on the Saturday morning.
The striking three-litre V12 scarlet Ferrari Breadvan was a one-off creation commissioned by a spurned Count Giovanni Volpi in 1962. When Enzo Ferrari refused to sell the immensely rich Venetian one of his new 250 GTOs, Volpi simply hired renowned engineer Giotto Bizzarrini to upgrade a Ferrari 250 GT SWB into a GTO beater – the result was the distinctive Breadvan, so known due to its extended rear roofline and shooting-break appearance. The re-bodied Ferrari made its debut at the 1962 Le Mans 24 Hours, outpacing all of Enzo’s GTOs before being sidelined by a driveshaft failure. Despite being immensely valuable, thanks to the enthusiasm of its current owner, it continues to regularly compete in major historic events such as the Silverstone Classic as well as making an appearance again here. “I bought it because I found it absolutely beautiful and then I found out about its amazing history and that made it even more outstanding,” said Hulsa. “I’m delighted that this award recognises the car for what it is – a very, very special racing car. It was made to be used from its conception – so it’s very much my philosophy that we should keep racing it.”
Believe it or not, this is a Morgan. More specifically, it is a Morgan SLR, one of just three which were built. Designed and built by Sprintzel Lawrence Racing (SLR), the brilliant British engineer Chris Lawrence intended the car to be a high performing sports car and chose as his base the Morgan +4 whose chassis, suspension and running gear he felt were the best of the time. The three cars performed competitively in races in the mid 60s, in part due to the effective body shape and in part due to the light weight of the thin one piece aluminium body.
Another unusual car is this Sunbeam Tiger. Just over seven thousand Sunbeam Tigers were built in total between 1964 and 1967, but three special lightweight racing cars were built in 1964 aimed to compete in the GT category of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. These three cars were highly modified versions of the production cars and fitted with attractive lightweight, fastback coupe bodies built by Lister. The car offered here, 7734 KV, was the first of the three competition cars and was used in the 1964 Le Mans tests. Post Le Mans, Ian Hall, the deputy head of the Rootes Competition department took possession of the car for his personal use and competed in a number of sprint races. 7734 KV was released to the private market in February 1965. The car was sold to John Eccles and John’s son, Roger competed in the GT class at the GRSCC Mallory Park sprint in April 1965. The car went on to compete at both Snetterton and Brands Hatch during ’65 – the Brands race being a significant one, being the only race that all three of the Le Mans Tigers competed in. From 1966 to 1972, the car had a number of owners, all of which used it for competition use before in 1973, Dick Barker from San Diego in California purchased 7734 KV, at which point the car was exported to the USA. Mr. Barker was responsible for carrying out a sympathetic and accurate restoration, over many years before finally showing the car in 1997 where it was once again reunited with the two other Le Mans cars.
Among the more familiar entrants were a number of MGB, Healey 3000, Lotus Elan and TVR Grantura.
PRE-’61 SPORTS CARS
The 1956/7 Ferrari 500 TRC was an altered version of the successful 500 TR of the previous year. The most significant changes were made to comply with Annex C of the International Racing Code, resulting in the “C” added to the model’s name. In order to follow these regulations, Ferrari widened the cockpit, added a passenger side door, fitted a full width windscreen with wipers, installed a 120 litre fuel tank and even added a stowable convertible top. The Scaglietti-built body, while similar to that of the 500 TR, had a lower hood and slightly reshaped wheel arches and fenders. Another change from the 500 TR was the longer 2,350 mm (93 in) wheelbase, derived from the 860 Monza. Suspension featured coil springs all around with a live rear axle. Like the 500 TR, the car weighed only 680 kg (1,500 lb), and produced 180 hp. Ferrari manufactured a total of 19 500 TRC chassis between 1956 and 1957. This model was the last 4-cylinder racing car built by Ferrari. Even though this model was never raced by Scuderia Ferrari as a works car, 500 TRCs were successfully raced by independent teams and drivers. At the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans, a 500 TRC finished 7th overall, claiming victory in the 2,000 cc class, Another 500 TRC claimed a 2,000 cc class win at the 1958 Targa Florio. Two 500 TRC chassis were upgraded by factory to 2.5-litre specification, creating the very rare 625 TRC model. They were both owned and raced by John von Neumann, owner of the Ferrari Representatives of California dealership. S/n 0672MDTR was further fitted with the 3.4 L 860 Monza engine, just to be refitted once more in 1958, this time with a 3.0 L 250 TR unit. S/n 0680MDTR was sold on May 12, 2012 at RM Sotheby’s auction in Monaco for €5 million. This one was originally supplied to Jacques Swater’s Equipe National Belge and was entered in the 2 litre class at the 1957 Le Mans 24 hours. It won its class and was placed 7th overall. It was then sold to Gaetano Starrabba, a gentleman racing driver who drove the car at races around Europe including the 1958 Targa Florio, but in the 1959 race, his luck ran out and he crashed heavily damaging the car extensively. It was eventually purchased by DK Engineering and restored. It is used in historic racing these days.
There were a couple of rather special early Lotus models entered here. Less well known is this Mark IX, an aluminium-bodied sports racing car, of which about thirty were made. It was closely related to the Lotus Mark VIII of 1954, only about seven of which were built. These cars were largely based on the innovative space frame of the Lotus Mark VI of 1952. The Lotus Mark VIII was Colin Chapman’s first fully enclosed aerodynamic design. Chapman’s basic requirements for the design were for a car of 1100 lbs powered by an 85 bhp engine and a maximum speed of 125 mph. Work began on this design in late 1953, and Chapman was assisted in the design of the body by the aerodynamicist Frank Costin who was the brother of Mike Costin his main collaborator. The spaceframe chassis for the Mark VIII has been described as “the most nearly perfect sports car chassis”. This was Lotus’ first true spaceframe and relied on the aircraft experience of Peter Ross and Gilbert McIntosh. Extremely light (the total weight of the frame alone was only 35 lbs) and very stiff, the frame consisted of only nineteen members and was fully triangulated. But from a practical point, however, the frame had limitations, mostly in maintenance. In order to install the engine, it had to disassembled and then reassembled inside the framework. The spaceframe retained the divided front axle independent suspension that Chapman had used on his earlier cars, with a de Dion layout with inboard brakes at the rear. A modified MG 1500 cc engine and transmission were installed, and a stressed undertray further stiffened the chassis. In its first race at Oulton Park, Chapman set the fastest lap of the day in Mark VIII prototype which was designated P3, but had to retire because of a blown head gasket. However, at the next race at Silverstone, Chapman won the 1,500 cc. class outright. It was at a subsequent meeting of the RAC British Grand Prix at Silverstone on 17 July 1954, where the reputation of Lotus cars was made as Chapman in the Lotus Mark VIII and Peter Gammon in the Mark VI beat the works quad-cam Porsche driven by Hans Herrmann again winning the class. The huge rear tail fins of the VIII proved quite a problem when transporting the cars. For the IX, these were toned down somewhat, as it was discovered that the smaller fins were no less effective. The chassis of the Mark IX was a new design, compared to that of the Mark VIII. Both were space frames of welded steel tube. The new chassis was an advance over the Mark VIII in terms of the efficiency of its design and avoiding the VIII’s need for diaphragm-stiffening panels. However both chassis still used an over-sized lower rail of 1.8-inch tube, a hang-over from the original design of the first Mark VI space frame. Compared to the Mark VIII, the Mark IX was shortened somewhat to a wheelbase of 7 feet 3.5 inches, and the body itself was about two feet shorter than that of the Mark VIII. During this early era, of 1954–1955, Lotus Engineering was still a fledgling company, and cars were delivered in different states of completion on special orders. Similar to the Mark VIII, the Mark IX was available in various configurations and different engines, including the 1500 cc MG, 1500 cc Connaught and 2-litre Bristol were fitted. However, the Mark IX designation is most often powered by the 1100 cc Coventry Climax engine. Apparently two models of Mark IX were offered – the “Club” and the “Le Mans”, the latter of which had larger drum brakes fitted. A total of about thirty of the Mark IX sports racing cars were produced in various forms, and these were successfully raced in both Europe and the US. The first two examples of the Mark IX were apparently delivered to the US with the 1100 cc Coventry Climax engine to compete in the 1955 running of the 12 Hours of Sebring race and were beaten by a Porsche Spyder. These cars were actually entered as Lotus Mark VIII models in the G class by Frank Miller of Larchmont, NY and by Bobby Burns and Norman J. Scott of Houston TX in, respectively, car numbers 78 and 79. The Lotus Works Team entered at least one Mark IX in the Le Mans 24 hour race in 1955, driven by Chapman, which may have been equipped with disc brakes. However, the car was disqualified apparently due to his reversing the car to re-enter the race track after going off course. A further revision created the Mark X, of which only 6 or 7 cars were built.
Perhaps better known is the Lotus Eleven, a racing car built in various versions by Lotus from 1956 until 1958. The later versions built in 1958 are sometimes referred to as Lotus 13, although this was not an official designation. In total, about 270 Elevens of all versions were built. The Eleven was designed by Colin Chapman and fitted with a sleek body designed by aerodynamicist Frank Costin. Its top version, dubbed Le Mans, was generally fitted with a 1100 cc Coventry Climax FWA engine and occasionally with a 1500 cc Coventry Climax FWB engine mounted in the front of a tubular space frame and featured a De Dion rear axle and Girling disc brakes. Fully loaded, the car weighed only about 1,000 lb (450 kg). Versions for a 1100 cc Climax engine (Club) and a 1172 cc Ford engine (Sport) were also produced; both featured a live rear axle and drum brakes. Several cars were fitted with alternative engines by their owners, these included Coventry Climax 1500cc FWB and FPF and 1200 cc FWE, Maserati 150S 1500cc, DKW 1000cc SAAB 850cc and 750cc engines. There were two main body styles: one with a headrest and the other with no headrest, just two small fins. Some cars were later fitted with a closed body with gullwing doors to meet GT specifications. Despite the wide variety of engines installed, the car was primarily designed to compete in the 1100 cc class where it was one of the most successful cars during the mid- to late-1950s. In 1956, An Eleven, modified by Costin with a bubble canopy over the cockpit, was driven by Stirling Moss to a class world record of 143 mph (230 km/h) for a lap at Monza. Several class victories at Le Mans and Sebring followed, and the Eleven became Lotus’ most successful race car design. A 750cc version won the Index of Performance at Le Mans in 1957. In 1957, the Eleven underwent a major design change, including a new front suspension and improvements to the drivetrain. Although officially called Eleven Series 2, these late models are sometimes informally referred to as Lotus 13s, since they were produced between the 12 and 14 models and the 13 designation was not used by Lotus. There have been several replicas and re-creations of the Lotus Eleven, including the Kokopelli 11, the Challenger GTS, the Spartak and the best known, the Westfield XI. The car seen here is the first of the S2 cars, with the Formula 2 style double wishbone suspension layout and was given by Chapman to the most successful club drivers of the 1956 season. Alan Stacey took delivery of this car and won the small capacity Championship in 1957, running as a Team Lotus entry. Alan was very quick and went on to larger engined sports cars and then to F1. He crashed fatally at Spa in 1960. The X1 on show had two subsequent owners and then put away for 38 years. The present owner found the car and carefully refurbished the X1 without over-restoration or modernisation. The cars run with the original engine and all original aluminium body panels. The car is now used regularly on the road and for minor events.
JAGUAR CLASSIC CHALLENGE
Although most of the Jaguars here had been entered in some of the other classes as well, there was a race specifically for pre-66 Jaguar cars, and the entry list, as you might expect, comprised an array of XK120, XK150 models as well as plenty of E Types.
SINGLE-SEATERS: FORMULA JUNIORS
Single-seater fans had three grids to enjoy. New to the Festival for 2018, the HSCC Derek Bell Trophy was for Formula 5000 and Formula 2 single-seaters built and raced between 1967 and 1979. This took place on both the Saturday and Sunday, but I seem somewhat devoid of pictures of the cars that were entered. Book-ending either end of the day on Sunday were the races for the smaller Formula Junior cars, competing in the FJHRA/HSCC ‘Silverline’ Championship races, the first for the front-engined cars and the later one for the rear-engined Formula Juniors, each showcasing the lovely little machines that were developed for a racing formula that was introduced 60 years ago to train future Grand Prix drivers.
In addition to the cars that were competing, a number of road cars that were parked up in this area of the event also caught my eye, among which were these:
This would appear to be a genuine Cobra 289 from 1964.
This is a ’57 Bel Air Wagon. Initially, General Motors executives wanted an entirely new car for 1957, but production delays necessitated the 1955–56 design for one more year. Ed Cole, chief engineer for Chevrolet, dictated a series of changes that significantly increased the cost of the car. These changes included a new dashboard, sealed cowl, and the relocation of air ducts to the headlight pods, which resulted in the distinctive chrome headlight that helped make the ’57 Chevrolet a classic. Fourteen-inch wheels replaced the fifteen-inch wheels from previous years to give the car a lower stance, and a wide grille was used to give the car a wider look from the front. The now famous ’57 Chevrolet tailfins were designed to duplicate the wide look in the rear. Bel Air models, though maintaining the same chassis, powertrains, and body, were given upscale gold trim: the mesh grille insert and front fender chevrons, as well as the “Chevrolet” script on the hood and trunk, were all rendered in anodized gold. The 1957 Chevrolets did not have an oil pressure gauge or a voltmeter. The base engine was an inline 6-cylinder called the Blue Flame Six. The engine was smoother running than the V-8. Carburetion came from a single one-barrel carburettor. The 1955 model year Chevrolet introduced its now-famous small-block V-8 — the first V-8 available in a Chevrolet since 1918. It has a displacement of 265 cu in (4,340 cc). Prior to 1955, Chevrolet offered a 235 cu in (3,850 cc) displacement in-line 6-cylinder engine only. The 1955 model, like its engine, was all new. The “shoebox” design, so named because it was the first Chevrolet to feature streamlined rear fenders, was a watershed for Chevrolet. The lightweight car, coupled with a powerful overhead valve V-8, became a showroom draw, but also thrust the company into the arena of competitive motorsports. 1955 Chevrolets went on to dominate drag racing and became a formidable force in circle track racing. In 1956, the design was lengthened somewhat in front and given a more squarish treatment; under the hood, engine power increased and a Chevrolet Corvette engine was available for the first time in a full-size passenger car. In 1957, the V-shaped trim on the tail fins was filled with a ribbed aluminium insert exclusive to the Bel Air’s upgraded trim level. The fuel-injected engine represented the first time that an internal combustion petrol engine in a passenger car reached an advertised one horsepower for each cubic inch benchmark, although the Chrysler 300B beat that by a year in its 355-hp, 354 c.i.d twin carburettor engine, and the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint was introduced a year earlier than that (1954), with a 79 cubic inch (1290cc) engine that produced 80 hp. In NASCAR racing the 283 with its increased horsepower gave the ’57 a dramatic advantage over the smaller 265 V8 the ’55 and ’56 had. NASCAR held the competition, especially the ’55–’57 Chevrolet to a cubic inch restriction because of all the races the ’57s were winning. This restriction stayed with the ’55–’57 until they were grandfathered out of the lower NASCAR divisions in the 1970s as the ’57 was still beating virtually all in their class. There were three model lines, the One Fifty, Two Ten and the upscale Bel Air, and an array of different body styles, which included 2- and 4-door sedans (identified by the “posts” between door windows), a 2-door “Sport Coupe” (a two-door hardtop – the car has no post between the front and back window when the windows are lowered), a “Sport Sedan” (a 4-door hardtop), a 2-door Utility Sedan, a two-door sedan with a package shelf instead of a rear seat, the Delray “Club Coupe”, which was a Two-Ten model 2-door sedan with a deluxe interior, the top-of-the-line 2-door Bel Air Nomad station wagon with a sloped pillar behind the hardtop door and sliding windows at the rear seat, the basic 2-door Handyman station wagon with an upright sedan B-pillar and a C-pillar, where the four-door wagons have one, available only in One-Fifty and Two-Ten trims, a 4-door, six-passenger station wagon, a 4-door, nine-passenger station wagon (both called Townsman in the One-Fifty series and Beauville for the Bel Air version), a Convertible. The ’57 cars are considered the most desirable of the three model years that used the same basic body style. An all new design did arrive for 1958.
Unusually for Ferrari, the 550 Maranello did not make its debut at a major Motor Show, but instead at a Ferrari Racing event at the Nurburgring in July 1996 and guests were given a ride around the circuit by a number of current and previous Ferrari F1 drivers, so they could see just what this new car, the replacement for the Testarossa was capable of. Now 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
This is a 1936 Ford Model 48A. The Model 48 was an update on Ford’s V8-powered Model 40A, the company’s main product. Introduced in 1935, the Model 48 was given a cosmetic refresh annually, begetting the 1937 Ford before being thoroughly redesigned for 1941. The 1935 Ford’s combination of price, practicality, and looks vaulted the company ahead of rival Chevrolet for the sales crown that year, with 820,000 sold. The 1935 Ford was a thorough refresh on the popular V8-powered Ford. The four-cylinder Model A engine was no longer offered, leaving just the 221 CID (3.6 L) V8 to power every Ford car and truck. The transverse leaf spring suspension remained, but the front spring was relocated ahead of the axle to allow more interior volume. The body was lowered and new “Center-Poise” seating improved comfort. Visually, the 1935 Ford was much more modern with the grille pushed forward and made more prominent by de-emphasized and more-integrated fenders. A major advance was a true integrated trunk on “trunkback” sedans, though the traditional “flatback” was also offered. Outdated body styles like the Victoria were also deleted for the year. The wooden panels were manufactured at the Ford Iron Mountain Plant in the Michigan Upper Peninsula from Ford owned lumber. Two trim lines were offered, standard and DeLuxe, across a number of body styles including a base roadster, five-window coupe, three-window coupe, Tudor and Fordor sedans in flatback or trunkback versions, a convertible sedan, a woody station wagon, and new Model 51 truck. Rumble seats were optional on coupe model. An oil pressure gauge (costing $4) and two windshield wipers were optional. If one got the optional radio, it replaced the ash tray. Chevrolet regained the sales lead at the end of 1936, but the Ford still sold extremely well. A new club cabriolet model was introduced with a fully framed windshield and weatherproof top, and the convertible sedan gained the popular integrated trunkback design. The look was updated with an inverted pentagonal grille with all-vertical bars beneath a prominent hood and three horizontal chrome side strips (on DeLuxe models). The V8 DeLuxe was called Model 68. A concealed horn, long a prominent part of the Ford’s design, also brought the car into modern times. The new trucks continued with the old grille. Other major changes for 1936 were the use of pressed steel “artillery” solid wheels instead of wire wheels. A new model arrived for 1937.
Although their sales only amounted to a small fraction of the total number of first generation Delta cars produced, it is the Integrale models which are best known these days, and the ones you most often see. It may be over 20 years since the last one was produced, but everyone, even youngsters, knows what they are, and just about everyone lusts after them, declaring them as a clear candidate for their Dream Garage. I know that I would certainly have one in mine! Seen here were a number of examples. 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 wa 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 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.
As designated “Event Partner”, Porsche had a sizeable display right in the middle of the Paddock, backing onto the Parc Ferme, and there was a mix of new or almost new models and some beautifully presented classics. New cars included the latest Cayenne and Macan, the current best sellers of the range.
Relatively recent was this 911 GT3 RS 4.0
Much older were these fabulous 356 cars.
A completely separate attraction was a demo of historic rally cars, on a special stage which had been created for the event. I’ve watched it in the past but this time just did not seem to find the time to do so. I did come across quite a disparate collection of a cars, a sub-set of those which had been in action, which included legends such as the Audi Quattro and Mitsubishi Evo V, as well as Ford’s Sierra and Sapphire Cosworth as well as less familiar rally cars, such as the Toyota Celica and Triumph 2500 PI.
F1 CAR DISPLAY
Inside the main building complex, there was a special display of cars to commemorate the unforgettable weekend in April 1993, when the crowds flocked to Donington Park as the circuit played host to its first Grand Prix in 55 years. Torrential rain made the track treacherous as, starting from 4th position, Ayrton Senna battled it out with Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher to win by an incredible 80 seconds. A display of historic Formula 1 cars on show were selected to pay tribute in particular to Ayrton Senna, as these were either driven by him or against him during his career up to 1993.
This is a 1993 Benetton B193B raced that year by Michael Schumacher and Riccardo Patrese
There were a couple of McLaren cars, too, including the MP4/8 that was Senna’s test car for the 1993 Donington Park race (courtesy of the Donington Collection museum) as well as an MP4/7 from 1992.
This 1984 Toleman TG-184-01 Hart Turbo is the car in which Senna caused a sensation for Friday practice at the 1984 British GP.
Also on show inside was this Austin Seven-based Special.
CAR CLUB DISPLAYS
A significant attraction off-circuit at this event is the Car Club displays. Whilst nothing like as extensive as the ones you will find at the Silverstone Classic, Donington still manages to attract well over 100 Clubs, many of the regionally focused, and the result is an in-field full of interesting machinery which is well worth seeing. Many of the Clubs are regular supporters of the event, but as is always the case, some appear one year and do not show the next and vice versa and even among the regulars, there is a good mix of specific cars that attend annually and those that have not been seen here before. Total numbers of cars do vary over the 3 days, so some clubs appeared to have a lot of space and few cars in it, presumably because on one of the other days, they had far more cars on site. The organisers move each Club around the site from year to year, in the interests of variety, and also depending on the state of the ground underneath, though this year that was not the challenge that it has been on some previous occasions. Whilst the total number of Clubs represented at the 2018 event seemed to be not dissimilar to previous years, the number of cars seemed well down. Even those Clubs that usually have a massive presence with in excess of 50 cars seemed to have scaled back, and some of the makes and marques I have seen here in previous years were simply not present at all.
I had enrolled Abarth Owners Club to be one of the participating Clubs, just as I have done every year since 2012. Interest among the members seems to have dropped off considerably from the years when we had the challenge of squeezing more than 20 cars into a space that was only really big enough to accommodate half that number. At least the 2018 presence was better than 2017 where on the Sunday my car had been the only one in the display, 4 having been present the day before. With ample space to house a lot of cars, it was a shame there were so few Abarths to occupy it. They were all 500-based models this time, but at least we pulled off the usual trick of them all being different, not just in colour, but also spec and individual model.
Attracting most attention, almost certainly, was the new Rivale. This is the latest celebration of Fiat’s partnership with Riva, which has already seen a special Riva version of the 500,. Described as being “the most sophisticated Abarth ever”, it is available either as a hatch or a cabriolet, with both of them featuring a two-tone Riva Sera Blue and Shark Grey paintwork. The Rivale is adorned with an aquamarine double stripe, satin chrome finish on the door handles and satin chrome moulding on the tailgate, various aesthetic elements inspired by the Riva 56 Rivale yachts and ‘695 Rivale’ logos, joined by Brembo Brakes, Koni suspension, and 17-inch Supersport alloy wheels. Enhancing the nautical theme the new 695 Rivale features either a carbon fibre or mahogany dashboard, black mats with blue inserts, blue leather seats and door panels, carbon fibre kick plates, special steering wheel wrapped in blue and black leather and with a mahogany badge, blue leather instrument panel cover, and mahogany gear lever knob and kick plate. These are joined by the standard Uconnect infotainment with a 7-inch display, which is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and there is also a hand-written numbered plate that can be customised with the mane of the customer’s yacht on request. Powering the 695 Rivale is the same 1.4-litre turbocharged engine that makes 180PS (177hp) and 184lb/ft of torque, that features in the 595 Competizione, allowing it to go from rest to 100km/h (62mph) in 6.7 seconds and up to a top speed of 225km/h (140mph). This is a regular model in the range, but confusingly, there is also the Abarth 695 Rivale 175 Anniversary, created to celebrate 175 years of the Riva brand. Just 350 of these were produced, half of them the hatch and the other half cabriolets. These featured 17-inch alloy wheels with a special pattern, celebratory badge on the outside, hand-crafted details such as the two-tone colour – blue and black hand-stitched leather seats with a celebratory logo stitched onto the headrest, carbon dashboard silk screen printed with special logo, numbered plate. Standard Rivale cars arrived in the UK only a few weeks ago.
This event has never attracted more than a handful of Alfa Romeo cars for display, either. Whether it is because it follows Brooklands, or some other reason, I am not sure. And in 2018 there were even fewer there had been in past years.
First of the all-new Giulia models to appear was the Berlina, launched in 1962. The styling was quite straight forward, but great attention was paid to detail. The engine bay, cabin and boot were all square shaped. But the grille, the rooflines and details on the bonnet and boot made for an integrated design from bumper to bumper. Thanks to Alfa Romeo using a wind tunnel during its development, the Giulia was very aerodynamic with a drag coefficient of Cd=0.34, which was particularly low for a saloon of the era and not a bad figure even for cars of today. Couple that with the fact that Alfa Romeo was one of the first manufacturers to put a powerful engine in a light-weight car (it weighed about 1,000 kilograms) and thanks to an array of light alloy twin overhead camshaft four-cylinder engine, similar to that of the earlier Giulietta models range, the car had a lively performance which bettered that of many sports cars of the day. The Tipo 105.14 was the first model, with a 1,570 cc Twin Cam engine with single down-draft carburettor generating 91 hp at 6500 rpm. The “TI” nomenclature referred to a class of Italian saloon car racing known as “Turismo Internazionale”, and had previously been applied to higher-performance versions of the 1900 and Giulietta saloons in the 1950s. However, for the Giulia saloon, the Ti was at first the only version available, and later, with the introduction of the TI Super and Super, the TI became the base version for the 1,600 cc engine class. The steering column gearchange (the only one in the Giulia range) was replaced with a floor change for 1964 (Tipo 105.08). Right hand drive cars, available from 1964, only ever had a floor change (Tipo 105.09). Brakes were by drums all around at first. Discs were introduced later, first at the front, and later all around. A brake servo was not fitted at first, but was introduced in later cars. The steering wheel featured the only horn ring ever in the Giulia range. The dashboard with a strip speedo is a notable feature, as is the steering wheel with a horn ring. The Giulia TI was phased out in 1968 and re-introduced as the austerity model 1600 S. Tipo 105.16 was a special racing model introduced in 1963. Quadrifoglio Verde stickers on the front wings were a distinguishing feature. Only 501 were made for homologation and today it is very rare and desirable. The 1,570 cc engine was fitted with two double-choke horizontal Weber 45DCOE carburettors for 110 hp at 6500 rpm. The body was lightened and a floor gearchange was fitted as standard, as were alloy wheels of very similar appearance to the standard steel ones of the TI. The TI’s instrument cluster with its strip speedometer was replaced with a three-instrument binnacle comprising speedometer, tachometer and a multi-gauge instrument (fuel, water temperature, oil temperature and pressure) – these instruments were similar to those fitted to the contemporary Giulia Sprint and Sprint Speciale coupes and Spider convertibles. The steering wheel was a three-spoke item with centre hornpush, also similar to that of the more sporting models. Braking was by discs all around, although the first cars used drums and early disc models lacked a servo which was introduced later. The police cars seen in The Italian Job were of this type. Tipo 105.06 was an austerity model made from 1964 to 1970 with a 1,290 cc single-carburettor engine for 77 hp at 6000 rpm. Four-speed gearbox with floor change fitted as standard (the 1300 was the only Giulia model not fitted with a five-speed gearbox). Though the engine was given a 105 series type number, it was basically the engine from the 101 series Giulietta Ti. This model appears not to have been exported to many markets outside Italy, if at all. Braking was by discs all around, without a servo at first, later with a servo. Tipo 105.26 was introduced in 1965. It transferred the technology from the racing TI Super to a road car, to make the most successful Giulia saloon. 1,570 cc engine with two double-choke Weber 40DCOE carburettors for a milder, but torquier tune than the TI Super – 97 hp at 5500 rpm. There was a new dashboard with two large round instruments (speedo and tacho) and clock, a sportier steering wheel with three aluminium spokes and centre horn push, similar to that of the Ti Super, later changed for one with the horn pushes in the spokes. All-around disc brakes with servo were fitted as standard from the outset. The serpent crest of the Sforza family appears in a badge on the C-pillar and is a distinguishing feature of the Super. For 1968, there was a suspension update, including revised geometry and a rear anti-roll bar. The wheels were changed in size from 5J x 15 to 5J x 14, and tyres from 155/15 to 165/14. For 1970, updates included dual-circuit brakes, centre-mounted handbrake lever to replace under-dash “umbrella handle”, larger external doorhandles, and top-hinged pedals (the latter in left hand drive models only; right hand drive continued with bottom-hinged pedals to the end of production). In 1972, Tipo 105.26 was rationalised into the Giulia 1.3 – Giulia 1.6 range. Tipo 105.39 built from 1965 to 1972. Right hand drive model replaced in 1970 by the 1300 Super. 1,290 cc engine with single down-draft carburettor for 81 hp at 6000 rpm. Unlike the re-deployed 101-series Giulietta engine of the austerity-model 1300, the 1300 ti motor was a 105 series engine, basically that of the sportier GT1300 Junior coupe with different camshaft timing (but the same camshafts) and induction system. Five-speed gearbox. Three-spoke bakelite steering wheel with plastic horn push covering the centre and spokes. Dashboard initially with strip speedo like that of the TI. For 1968, updates included a dashboard based on that of the Super, but with a simpler instrument binnacle, still featuring two large round instruments (speedo and tacho) and a separate fuel gauge, and the same suspension, wheel and tire updates applied to the Giulia Super in the same year. For 1970, updates included dual-circuit brakes, centre handbrake, larger external doorhandles and top-hinged pedals (on left hand drive cars only), again as applied to the Super for that year. Tipo 105.85 was basically a Giulia TI re-introduced in 1968 as a lower-level model to come between the 1300 and 1300 ti on one hand, and the Super on the other. It had a re-interpretation of the 1,570 cc single-carburettor engine for 94 hp at 5500 rpm and similar trim to the 1300 ti. Replaced in 1970 by the 1300 Super which offered similar performance in a lower tax bracket. The last cars from 1970 featured the top-hinged pedals, centre handbrake and dual-circuit brakes as for the Super and 1300 ti. Tipo 115.09 was introduced in 1970. It was basically a 1300 ti fitted with the engine from the GT 1300 Junior coupe that featured two double-choke horizontal carburettors; the engine actually had the GT 1300 Junior type number. This model was rationalised into the Giulia Super 1.3 – Giulia Super 1.6 range in 1972. In 1972 a rationalisation of the Giulia range saw the Super 1300 (Tipo 115.09) and the Super (Tipo 105.26) re-released as the Super 1.3 and Super 1.6. The two models featured the same equipment, interior and exterior trim, differing only in engine size and final drive ratio. The 1300 ti was dropped. A small Alfa Romeo badge on the C-pillar is a distinguishing feature, as are hubcaps with exposed wheel nuts. In December 1972 Alfa-Romeo South Africa released the 1600 Rallye. This locally developed more powerful 1600 cc version of the 1300 Super used the 1300’s single-headlight body shell. The car was largely ready for competition and was only planned to be built in limited numbers, and was fitted with racing-style rear-view mirrors, rally lamps, fully adjustable seats, and a limited-slip differential. Claimed power was 125 hp. The Giulia Super range was re-released in 1974 as the Nuova Super range, including the Giulia Nuova Super 1300 and 1600 This featured a new black plastic front grille and a flat boot lid without the characteristic centre spine. Otherwise the cars differed little from their Giulia Super predecessors and bore the same Tipo numbers with an S suffix. A Nuova Super fitted with a Perkins 1,760 cc diesel with 54 hp at 4000 rpm, was the firm’s first attempt at diesel power. The same Perkins diesel was used also in Alfa Romeo F12 van. The diesel version was slow, 138 km/h (86 mph), and the engine somehow unsuitable for a sport sedan so it was not big seller, only around 6500 examples were made in 1976 and the car was not sold in the UK. Production of the Giulia ceased in 1977. There are relatively few of these cars in the UK, and many of these are left hand drive models which have been re-imported relatively recently, or have been converted for historic racing, so it was good to see a nice road-going model here.
There was also a 105 Series Coupe model here. There’s a complex history to this much-loved classic. The first car was called the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT, and was revealed at a press event held at the then newly opened Arese plant on 9 September 1963, and displayed later the same month at the Frankfurt Motor Show. In its original form the Bertone body is known as scalino (step) or “step front”, because of the leading edge of the engine compartment lid which sat 1/4 an inch above the nose of the car. The Giulia Sprint GT can be distinguished from the later models by a number of features including: Exterior badging: Alfa Romeo logo on the front grille, a chrome script reading “Giulia Sprint GT” on the boot lid, and rectangular “Disegno di Bertone” badges aft of the front wheel arches; flat, chrome grille in plain, wide rectangular mesh without additional chrome bars; single-piece chrome bumpers; no overriders. Inside the cabin the padded vinyl dashboard was characterised by a concave horizontal fascia, finished in grey anti-glare crackle-effect paint. Four round instruments were inset in the fascia in front of the driver. The steering wheel was non-dished, with three aluminium spokes, a thin bakelite rim and a centre horn button. Vinyl-covered seats with cloth centres and a fully carpeted floor were standard, while leather upholstery was an extra-cost option. After initially marketing it as a four-seater, Alfa Romeo soon changed its definition of the car to a more realistic 2+2. The Giulia Sprint GT was fitted with the 1,570 cc version of Alfa Romeo’s all-aluminium twin cam inline four (78 mm bore × 82 mm stroke), which had first debuted on the 1962 Giulia Berlina. Breathing through two twin-choke Weber 40 DCOE 4 carburettors, on the Sprint GT this engine produced 105 hp at 6,000 rpm. Like all subsequent models, the Sprint GT was equipped with an all-synchromesh 5-speed manual transmission. The braking system comprised four Dunlop disc brakes and a vacuum servo. The rear brakes featured an unusual arrangement with the slave cylinders mounted on the axle tubes, operating the calipers by a system of levers and cranks. According to Alfa Romeo the car could reach a top speed of “over 180 km/h (112 mph)”. In total 21,902 Giulia Sprint GT were produced from 1963 to 1965, when the model was superceded by the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce. Of these 2,274 were right hand drive: 1,354 cars fully finished in Arese, and 920 shipped in complete knock-down kit form for foreign assembly. For 1966, the Giulia Sprint GT was replaced by the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, which was very similar but featuring a number of improvements: a revised engine—slightly more powerful and with more torque—better interior fittings and changes to the exterior trim. Alongside the brand new 1750 Spider Veloce which shared its updated engine the Sprint GT Veloce was introduced at the 36th Geneva Motor Show in March 1966, and then tested by the international specialist press in Gardone on the Garda Lake. Production had began in 1965 and ended in 1968. The Giulia Sprint GT Veloce can be most easily distinguished from other models by the following features: badging as per Giulia Sprint GT, with the addition of round enamel badges on the C-pillar—a green Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover) on an ivory background—and a chrome “Veloce” script on the tail panel; black mesh grille with three horizontal chrome bars; the grille heart has 7 bars instead of 6; stainless steel bumpers, as opposed to the chromed mild steel bumpers on the Giulia Sprint GT. The bumpers are the same shape, but are made in two pieces (front) and three pieces (rear) with small covers hiding the joining rivets. Inside the main changes from the Giulia Sprint GT were imitation wood dashboard fascia instead of the previous anti-glare grey finish, front seats revised to a mild “bucket” design, and a dished three aluminium spoke steering wheel, with a black rim and horn buttons through the spokes. The Veloce’s type 00536 engine, identical to the Spider 1600 Duetto’s, featured modifications compared to the Giulia Sprint GT’s type 00502—such as larger diameter exhaust valves. As a result it produced 108 hp at 6,000 rpm, an increase of 3 hp over the previous model, and significantly more torque. The top speed now exceeded 185 km/h (115 mph). Early Giulia Sprint GT Veloces featured the same Dunlop disc brake system as the Giulia Sprint GT, while later cars substituted ATE disc brakes as pioneered on the GT 1300 Junior in 1966. The ATE brakes featured an handbrake system entirely separate from the pedal brakes, using drum brakes incorporated in the rear disc castings. Though the Sprint GT Veloce’s replacement—the 1750 GT Veloce—was introduced in 1967, production continued throughout the year and thirty final cars were completed in 1968. By then total Giulia Sprint GT Veloce production amounted to 14,240 examples. 1,407 of these were right hand drive cars, and 332 right hand drive complete knock-down kits. The Alfa Romeo 1750 GT Veloce (also known as 1750 GTV) appeared in 1967 along with the 1750 Berlina sedan and 1750 Spider. The same type of engine was used to power all three versions; this rationalisation was a first for Alfa Romeo. The 1750 GTV replaced the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce and introduced many updates and modifications. Most significantly, the engine capacity was increased to 1779 cc displacement. Peak power from the engine was increased to 120 hp at 5500 rpm. The stroke was lengthened from 82 to 88.5 mm over the 1600 engine, and a reduced rev limit from 7000 rpm to 6000 rpm. Maximum torque was increased to 137 lb·ft at 3000 rpm. A higher ratio final drive was fitted (10/41 instead of 9/41) but the same gearbox ratios were retained. The result was that, on paper, the car had only slightly improved performance compared to the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, but on the road it was much more flexible to drive and it was easier to maintain higher average speeds for fast touring. For the United States market, the 1779 cc engine was fitted with a fuel injection system made by Alfa Romeo subsidiary SPICA, to meet emission control laws that were coming into effect at the time. Fuel injection was also featured on Canadian market cars after 1971. Carburettors were retained for other markets. The chassis was also significantly modified. Tyre size went to 165/14 from 155/15 and wheel size to 5 1/2J x 14 instead of 5J x 15, giving a wider section and slightly smaller rolling diameter. The suspension geometry was also revised, and an anti-roll bar was fitted to the rear suspension. ATE disc brakes were fitted from the outset, but with bigger front discs and calipers than the ones fitted to GT 1300 Juniors and late Giulia Sprint GT Veloces. The changes resulted in significant improvements to the handling and braking, which once again made it easier for the driver to maintain high average speeds for fast touring. The 1750 GTV also departed significantly from the earlier cars externally. New nose styling eliminated the “stepped” bonnet of the Giulia Sprint GT, GTC, GTA and early GT 1300 Juniors and incorporated four headlamps. For the 1971 model year, United States market 1750 GTV’s also featured larger rear light clusters (there were no 1970 model year Alfas on the US market). Besides the chrome “1750” badge on the bootlid, there was also a round Alfa Romeo badge. Similar Quadrofoglio badges to those on the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce were fitted on C pillars, but the Quadrofoglio was coloured gold instead of green. The car also adopted the higher rear wheelarches first seen on the GT 1300 Junior. The interior was also much modified over that of earlier cars. There was a new dashboard with large speedometer and tachometer instruments in twin binnacles closer to the driver’s line of sight. The instruments were mounted at a more conventional angle, avoiding the reflections caused by the upward angled flat dash of earlier cars. Conversely, auxiliary instruments were moved to angled bezels in the centre console, further from the driver’s line of sight than before. The new seats introduced adjustable headrests which merged with the top of the seat when fully down. The window winder levers, the door release levers and the quarterlight vent knobs were also restyled. The remote release for the boot lid, located on the inside of the door opening on the B-post just under the door lock striker, was moved from the right hand side of the car to the left hand side. The location of this item was always independent of whether the car was left hand drive or right hand drive. Early (Series 1) 1750 GTV’s featured the same bumpers as the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, with the front bumper modified to mount the indicator / sidelight units on the top of its corners, or under the bumper on US market cars. The Series 2 1750 GTV of 1970 introduced other mechanical changes, including a dual circuit braking system (split front and rear, with separate servos). The brake and clutch pedals on left hand drive cars were also of an improved pendant design, instead of the earlier floor-hinged type. On right hand drive cars the floor-hinged pedals were retained, as there was no space for the pedal box behind the carburettors. Externally, the series 2 1750 GTV is identified by new, slimmer bumpers with front and rear overriders. The combined front indicator and sidelight units were now mounted to the front panel instead of the front bumper, except again on the 1971-72 US/Canadian market cars. The interior was slightly modified, with the seats retaining the same basic outline but following a simpler design. 44,269 1750 GTVs were made before their replacement came along. That car was the 2000GTV. Introduced in 1971, together with the 2000 Berlina sedan and 2000 Spider, the 2 litre cars were replacements for the 1750 range. The engine displacement was increased to 1962 cc. The North American market cars had fuel injection, but everyone else retained carburettors. Officially, both versions generated the same power, 130 hp at 5500 rpm. The interior trim was changed, with the most notable differences being the introduction of a separate instrument cluster, instead of the gauges installed in the dash panel in earlier cars. Externally the 2000 GTV is most easily distinguished by its grille with horizontal chrome bars, featuring protruding blocks forming the familiar Alfa heart in outline, smaller hubcaps with exposed wheel nuts, optional aluminium alloy wheels of the same size as the standard 5. 1/2J × 14 steel items, styled to the “turbina” design first seen on the alloy wheels of the Alfa Romeo Montreal, and the larger rear light clusters first fitted to United States market 1750 GTV’s were standard for all markets. From 1974 on, the 105 Series coupé models were rationalised and these external features became common to post-1974 GT 1300 Junior and GT 1600 Junior models, with only few distinguishing features marking the difference between models. 37,459 2000 GTVs were made before production ended and these days they are very sought after with prices having sky-rocketed in recent years.
The Series 3 Spider was previewed in North America for the 1982 model year with the introduction of 2.0 litre Bosch electronic fuel injection to replace the SPICA mechanical injection. The Spider underwent a major styling revamp in 1983, which saw the introduction of black rubber front and rear bumpers. The front bumper incorporated the grille and a small soft rubber spoiler was added to the trunk lid. The change altered the exterior appearance of the car considerably and was not universally praised by enthusiasts. Various other minor mechanical and aesthetic modifications were also made, and the 1600 car (never available in North America) dropped the “Junior” name. The Quadrifoglio Verde (Green Cloverleaf) model was introduced in 1986, with many aesthetic tweaks, including sideskirts, mirrors, new front and rear spoilers, hard rubber boot mounted spoilers with integral 3rd stoplight, unique 15″ alloys and optional removable hardtop. Different interior trim included blood red carpets and grey leather seats with red stitching. The QV was offered in only 3 colours: red, silver and black. It was otherwise mechanically identical to the standard Spider Veloce model, with a 1962 cc double overhead cam, four-cylinder engine (twin two-barrel carburettors in Europe; North American models retained the Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection introduced for the 1982 model year except that the VVT mechanism was now L-Jet activated) and five-speed manual transmission. The interior was revised with a new centre console, lower dash panels (to meet U.S. regulations) and a single monopod gauge cluster (with electronic gauges). For the North American market a model dubbed the Graduate was added in tribute to the car’s famous appearance in the 1967 film, The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman. The Graduate was intended as a less expensive “entry-level” Alfa. While it had the same engine and transmission as the Quadrifoglio and Veloce, it lacked the alloy wheels and luxury features of the other two models. The Graduate model had manual windows, basic vinyl seats, a vinyl top, and steel wheels as standard. Air conditioning and a dealer-installed radio were the only options. It first appeared in 1985 in North America and continued until 1990. Minor changes occurred from 1986 to 89, including new paint colours, a centre high mount stop lamp midway through 1986 for North American models, a move away from the fade-prone brown carpet and new turn signal levers. Some 1988 models featured automatic seatbelts that extended from a large device between the front seats.
The 916 Series cars were conceived to replace two very different models in the Alfa range. First of these was the open topped 105 Series Spider which had been in production since 1966 and by the 1990s was long overdue a replacement. Alfa decided to combine a follow on to the Alfetta GTV, long out of production, with a new Spider model, and first work started in the late 1980s. The task was handed to Pininfarina, and Enrico Fumia’s initial renderings were produced in September 1987, with the first clay models to complete 1:1 scale model made in July 1988. Fumia produced something rather special. Clearly an Italian design, with the Alfa Romeo grille with dual round headlights, recalling the Audi-based Pininfarina Quartz, another design produced by Enrico Fumia back in 1981, the proposal was for a car that was low-slung, wedge-shaped with a low nose and high kicked up tail. The back of the car is “cut-off” with a “Kamm tail” giving improved aerodynamics. The Spider would share these traits with the GTV except that the rear is rounded, and would feature a folding soft-top with five hoop frame, which would completely disappear from sight under a flush fitting cover. An electric folding mechanism would be fitted as an option. Details included a one-piece rear lamp/foglamp/indicator strip across the rear of the body, the minor instruments in the centre console angled towards the driver. The exterior design was finished in July 1988. After Vittorio Ghidella, Fiat’s CEO, accepted the design, Alfa Romeo Centro Stile under Walter de Silva was made responsible for the completion of the detail work and also for the design of the interiors, as Pininfarina’s proposal was not accepted. The Spider and GTV were to be based on the then-current Fiat Group platform, called Tipo Due, in this case a heavily modified version with an all new multilink rear suspension. The front suspension and drivetrain was based on the 1992 Alfa Romeo 155 saloon. Chief engineer at that time was Bruno Cena. Drag coefficient was 0.33 for the GTV and 0.38 for the Spider. Production began in late 1993 with four cars, all 3.0 V6 Spiders, assembled at the Alfa Romeo Arese Plant in Milan. In early 1994 the first GTV was produced, with 2.0 Twin Spark engine. The first premiere was then held at the Paris Motor Show in 1994. The GTV and Spider were officially launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1995 and sales began the same year. The cars were well received. At launch, many journalists commented that Alfa had improved overall build quality considerably and that it came very close to equalling its German rivals. I can vouch for that, as I owned an early GTV for eighteen months, and it was a well built and reliable car. In 1997 a new engine, a 24-valve 3.0 litre V6, was available for the GTV along with bigger, 12.0 inch brakes and red four-pot calipers from Brembo. The console knobs were changed from round central to rectangle ones and to a three-spoke steering wheel. Some versions were upgraded with different front bumper mesh to bring the wind noise down to 74 dBA. In May 1998 the cars were revamped for the first time, creating the Phase 2 models. Most of the alterations were inside. The interior was changed with new centre console, painted letters on skirt seals, changed controls and switches arrangement and different instrument cluster. Outside, the main changes included chrome frame around the grille and colour-coded side skirts and bumpers. A new engine was introduced, the 142 hp 1.8 Twin Spark, and others were changed: the 2.0 Twin Spark was updated with a modular intake manifold with different length intakes and a different plastic cover. Power output of the 2.0 TS was raised to 153 hp. Engines changed engine management units and have a nomenclature of CF2. The dashboard was available in two new colours in addition to the standard black: Red Style and Blue Style, and with it new colour-coded upholstery and carpets. The 3.0 24V got a six-speed manual gearbox as standard and the 2.0 V6 TB engine was now also available for the Spider. August 2000 saw the revamp of engines to comply with new emission regulations, Euro3. The new engines were slightly detuned, and have a new identification code: CF3. 3.0 V6 12V was discontinued for the Spider and replaced with 24V Euro3 version from the GTV. 2.0 V6 Turbo and 1.8 T.Spark were discontinued as they did not comply with Euro3 emissions. By the 2001-2002 model year, only 2 engines were left, the 2.0 Twin.Spark and 3.0 V6 24V, until the Phase 3 engine range arrived. The Arese plant, where the cars had been built, was closing and, in October 2000, the production of GTV/Spider was transferred to Pininfarina Plant in San Giorgio Canavese in Turin. In 2003 there was another and final revamp, creating the Phase 3, also designed in Pininfarina but not by Enrico Fumia. The main changes were focused on the front with new 147-style grille and different front bumpers with offset numberplate holder. Change to the interior was minimal with different centre console and upholstery pattern and colours available. Instrument illumination colour was changed from green to red. Main specification change is an ASR traction control, not available for 2.0 TS Base model. New engines were introduced: 163 hp 2.0 JTS with direct petrol injection and 237 hp 3.2 V6 24V allowing a 158 mph top speed. Production ceased in late 2004, though some cars were still available for purchase till 2006. A total of 80,747 cars were made, and sales of the GTV and Spider were roughly equal. More V6 engined GTVs than Spiders were made, but in 2.0 guise, it was the other way round with the open model proving marginally more popular.
In previous years, there were lots of Aston Martin models on show, plenty of them going back to the glory days of the DB models of the 1960s. This time there were very few of hem, all of them recent models.
The majority were from the Vantage range which is still in production. 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 centre 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.
Follow on to the DB7 was the DB9 (there has never been a car called DB8 – supposedly because people might have assumed this meant a V8 engine), and there was a nice example here. The Aston Martin DB9, designed by Marek Reichmann and Hendrik Fisker, was first shown by Aston Martin at the 2003 Frankfurt Auto Show, in coupe form. It was widely praised for the beauty of its lines. This was the first model to be built at Aston Martin’s Gaydon facility. It was built on the VH platform, which would become the basis for all subsequent Aston models. The Aston Martin DB9 was initially launched equipped with a 6.0 litre V12 engine, originally taken from the V12 Vanquish. The engine produced 420 lbf·ft of torque at 5,000 rpm and a maximum power of 444 hp at 6,000 rpm, allowing the DB9 to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 299 km/h (186 mph). The engine largely sits behind the front-axle line to improve weight distribution. Changes to the engine for the 2013 model year increased the power to 503 hp and torque to 457 lb-ft, decreasing the 0 to 60 mph time to 4.50 seconds and with a new top speed is 295 km/h (183 mph). The DB9 was available with either a six-speed conventional manual gearbox from Graziano or a six-speed ZF automatic gearbox featuring paddle-operated semi-automatic mode. The gearbox is rear-mounted and is driven by a carbon-fibre tail shaft inside a cast aluminium torque tube. The DB9 was the first Aston Martin model to be designed and developed on Ford’s aluminium VH (vertical/horizontal) platform. The body structure is composed of aluminium and composites melded together by mechanically fixed self-piercing rivets and robotic assisted adhesive bonding techniques. The bonded aluminium structure is claimed to possess more than double the torsional rigidity of its predecessor’s, despite being 25 percent lighter. The DB9 also contains anti-roll bars and double wishbone suspension, supported by coil springs. To keep the back-end in control under heavy acceleration or braking, the rear suspension has additional anti-squat and anti-lift technology. Later versions of the car also features three modes for the tuning: normal, for every-day use, sport, for more precise movement at the cost of ride comfort, and track, which furthers the effects of the sport setting. The Aston Martin DB9 Volante, the convertible version of the DB9 coupe, followed a few months later. The chassis, though stiffer, uses the same base VH platform. To protect occupants from rollovers, the Volante has strengthened windscreen pillars and added two pop-up hoops behind the rear seats. The hoops cannot be disabled and will break the car’s rear window if deployed. In an effort to improve the Volante’s ride while cruising, Aston Martin have softened the springs and lightened the anti-roll bars in the Volante, leading to a gentler suspension. The retractable roof of the Volante is made of folding fabric and takes 17 seconds to be put up or down. The Volante weighs 59 kilograms (130 pounds) more than the coupe. The coupe and Volante both share the same semi-automatic and automatic gearboxes and engine. The car was limited to 266 km/h (165 mph) to retain the integrity of the roof. Like the coupe, the original Volante has 420 lb·ft of torque at 5,000 rpm and a maximum power of 450 hp at 6,000 rpm. The 0 to 60 mph slowed to 4.9 seconds due to the additional weight. The DB9 was facelifted in July 2008, which mainly amounted to an increase in engine power, to 476 hp and a redesigned centre console. Externally, the DB9 remained virtually unchanged. For the 2013 model year revision, Aston made minor changes to the bodywork by adapting designs from the Virage, including enlarging the recessed headlight clusters with bi-xenon lights and LED daytime strips, widening the front splitter, updating the grille and side heat extractors, updating the LED rear lights with clear lenses and integrating a new rear spoiler with the boot lid. .On newer models, like the coupe’s, the Volante’s horsepower and torque increased to 517 PS (510 hp) and 457 lb·ft respectively. As a finale for the model, a more powerful DB9 was released in 2015, called the DB9 GT. This had 540 bhp and 457 lb-ft of torque at 5500 rpm, giving a 0 to 60mph time of 4.4 seconds and 0 to 100mph in 10.2 seconds, with the standing quarter mile dispatched in 12.8 to 12.9 seconds and a top speed of 183mph. Production of the DB9 ended in 2016 being replaced by its successor, the DB11.
There were numerous examples of the “Big Healey” here, 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.
There was also a number of the smaller stablemate, the “Frog Eye”. Known officially as the Sprite, it was announced to the press in Monte Carlo by the British Motor Corporation on 20 May 1958, just before that year’s Monaco Grand Prix. It was intended to be a low-cost model that “a chap could keep in his bike shed”, yet be the successor to the sporting versions of the pre-war Austin Seven. The Sprite was designed by the Donald Healey Motor Company, with production being undertaken at the MG factory at Abingdon. It first went on sale at a price of £669, using a tuned version of the Austin A-Series engine and as many other components from existing cars as possible to keep costs down. It was produced for a little over 3 years before being replaced by a Mark 2 version, which was then joined by a badge-engineered MG version, the Midget, reviving a model name used by MG from the late 1920s through to the mid 1950s. Enthusiasts often refer to Sprites and the later Midgets collectively as “Spridgets.” The first Sprite quickly became affectionately known as the “frogeye” in the UK and the “bugeye” in the US, because its headlights were prominently mounted on top of the bonnet, inboard of the front wings. The car’s designers had intended that the headlights could be retracted, with the lenses facing skyward when not in use; a similar arrangement was used many years later on the Porsche 928. But cost cutting by BMC led to the flip-up mechanism being deleted, therefore the headlights were simply fixed in a permanently upright position, giving the car its most distinctive feature. The body was styled by Gerry Coker, with subsequent alterations by Les Ireland following Coker’s emigration to the US in 1957. The car’s distinctive frontal styling bore a strong resemblance to the defunct American 1951 Crosley Super Sport. The problem of providing a rigid structure to an open-topped sports car was resolved by Barry Bilbie, Healey’s chassis designer, who adapted the idea provided by the Jaguar D-type, with rear suspension forces routed through the bodyshell’s floor pan. The Sprite’s chassis design was the world’s first volume-production sports car to use unitary construction, where the sheet metal body panels (apart from the bonnet) take many of the structural stresses. The original metal gauge (thickness of steel) of the rear structure specified by Bilbie was reduced by the Austin Design Office during prototype build, however during testing at MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association) distortion and deformation of the rear structure occurred and the original specification was reinstated. The two front chassis legs projecting forward from the passenger compartment mean the shell is not a full monocoque. The front sheet-metal assembly, including the bonnet (hood) and wings, was a one-piece unit, hinged from the back, that swung up to allow access to the engine compartment. The 43 bhp, 948 cc OHV engine (coded 9CC) was derived from the Austin A35 and Morris Minor 1000 models, also BMC products, but upgraded with twin 11⁄8 inch SU carburettors which gave it 43 hp at 5200 rpm and 52 lb/ft at 3300 rpm. When tested by “The Motor” magazine in 1958. It had a top speed of 82.9 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 20.5 seconds. Fuel consumption of 43 mpg was recorded. The rack and pinion steering was derived from the Morris Minor 1000 and the front suspension from the Austin A35. The front suspension was a coil spring and wishbone arrangement, with the arm of the Armstrong lever shock absorber serving as the top suspension link. The rear axle was both located and sprung by quarter-elliptic leaf springs, again with lever-arm shock absorbers and top links. There were no exterior door handles; the driver and passenger were required to reach inside to open the door. There was also no boot lid, owing to the need to retain as much structural integrity as possible, and access to the spare wheel and luggage compartment was achieved by tilting the seat-backs forward and reaching under the rear deck, a process likened to potholing by many owners, but which resulted in a large space available to store soft baggage. The BMC Competition Department entered Austin Healey Sprites in major international races and rallies, their first major success coming when John Sprinzel and Willy Cave won their class on the 1958 Alpine Rally. Private competitors also competed with much success in Sprites. Because of its affordability and practicality, the Austin Healey Sprite was developed into a formidable competition car, assuming many variants by John Sprinzel, Speedwell and WSM. The Sebring Sprite became the most iconic of the racing breed of Austin Healey Sprites. Many owners use their Austin Healey Sprites in competition today, fifty years after its introduction. 48,987 “frogeye” Sprites were made and the car remains popular to this day.
The Mark II to Mark IV were all very similar and represented the evolution of the model throughout the 1960s, The Mark II was announced at the end of May 1961. It used the same 948 cc engine with larger twin 1 1⁄4 inch SU carburettors, increasing power to 46.5 bhp. A close-ratio gearbox was fitted. The bodywork was completely revamped, with the headlights migrating to a more conventional position in the wings, either side of a full-width grille. At the rear, styling borrowed from the soon-to-be-announced MGB gave a similarly more modern look, with the added advantages of an opening boot lid and conventional rear bumper bar. The result was a much less eccentric-looking sports car, though at the expense of some 100 lbs extra weight. It followed the MG version of the car which was introduced a couple of weeks earlier as ‘the new Midget,’ reviving a model name which had been a great success for the MG Car Company in the 1930s. The Midget was to prove more popular with the public than the Sprite and by 1972 had completely supplanted it within the BMC range. In October 1962, both Sprites and Midgets were given a long-stroke 1098 cc engine. A strengthened gearbox with Porsche (baulk-ring) synchromesh was introduced to cope with the extra power – 56 bhp. Front disc brakes were also introduced at the same time and wire wheels became an option. 31,665 Mark II Sprites were made. The Mark III Sprite was also marketed as the Mark II MG Midget – differences between the two were again restricted to minor trim detailing. Although still 1098 cc, the engine had a stronger block casting, and the size of the crankshaft main bearings was increased to two inches. A new (slightly) curved-glass windscreen was introduced with hinged quarterlights and wind-up side windows. Exterior door handles were provided for the first time, with separate door locks. Though the car could now be secured, with a soft-top roof the added protection was limited. The rear suspension was modified from quarter-elliptic to semi-elliptic leaf springs, which gave a more comfortable ride for a near-negligible weight penalty as well as providing additional axle location, the upper links fitted to the quarter-elliptic models being deleted. Though scarcely sybaritic, these changes helped the Sprite and Midget compete with the recently released Triumph Spitfire. 25,905 Mark III Sprites were made. The next upgrade was presented at the London Motor Show in October 1966. Besides receiving the larger 1275 cc engine (which disappointed enthusiasts by being in a lower state of tune than that of the Mini-Cooper ‘S’), the Mark IV and its cousin the Mark III MG Midget had several changes which were more than cosmetic. Most notable is the change from a removable convertible top, which had to be stowed in the boot, to a permanently affixed, folding top of greatly improved design, which was much easier to use. Separate brake and clutch master cylinders were fitted, as car manufacturers’ thoughts began to turn to making their products safer. For the 1970 model year cast-alloy wheels were fitted and the grille was changed to resemble that fitted to the MG Midget. 22,790 Mark IV Sprites were made. The Healey connection was discontinued in 1971, so the final 1,022 Sprites built were simply Austin Sprites.
The success of the Mulsanne Turbo and Turbo R brought new life to Bentley, changing the position of the preceding 15 years where sales of the marque’s badge-engineered Rolls Royce cars had been only a very small percentage of the company’s sales. The obvious next step would be further to enhance the distinctive sporting nature of the Bentley brand and move away from a Bentley that was merely a re-badged Rolls Royce. Bentley appointed stylists John Heffernan and Ken Greenley to come up with ideas for a new, distinctive, Bentley coupé. The fibreglass mock up was displayed at the 1984 Geneva Motor Show in Rolls-Royce’s “Project 90″ concept of a future Bentley coupé. The concept was met with an enthusiastic reception, but the Project 90 design was largely shelved as the company began to work towards a replacement for the Rolls-Royce Corniche. During this process, Graham Hull, chief stylist in house at Rolls Royce, suggested the designs before the board for the Corniche, would suit a Bentley coupé better. From this point it was decided the Corniche could continue as it was, and efforts would once again be channelled into a new Bentley coupé. In 1986 Graham Hull produced a design rendering of a new Bentley coupé which became the Continental R. Based on the Rolls Royce SZ platform (which was an evolution of the SY platform), an aerodynamically shaped coupé body had been styled. John Heffernan and Ken Greenley were officially retained to complete the design of the Continental R. They had run the Automotive Design School at the Royal College of Art and headed up their own consultancy, International Automotive Design, based in Worthing, Southern England. Greenley and Heffernan liaised constantly throughout the styling process with Graham Hull. The interior was entirely the work of Graham Hull and the small in house styling team at Rolls Royce. The shape of the car was very different from the somewhat slab sided four door SZ Rolls-Royce and Bentley vehicles of the time and offered a much improved 0.37 coefficient of drag. The Continental R also featured roof-cut door frames, a necessity to allow easier access into the car which had a lower roof line than its 4-door contemporaries. A subtle spoiler effect was also a feature of the rear. The finished car is widely acknowledged as a very cleverly styled vehicle, disguising its huge dimensions (The Continental R is around 4” longer than a 2013 long wheelbase Mercedes S Class) and a very well proportioned, extremely attractive, car. The “Continental” designation recalls the Bentley Continental of the post-war period. The “R” was meant to recall the R Type Bentleys from the 1950s as well as the Turbo R of the 1980s and 90’s where the “R” refers to “roadholding”. 1504 Continental R and 350 Continental T models were made before production finally ceased in 2003. The revival of the Bentley marque following the introduction of the Bentley Mulsanne Turbo, and then the Continental R, is widely acknowledged to have saved Rolls Royce Motor cars and formed the groundwork which led to the buyout and parting of the Rolls Royce and Bentley brands in 1998. Bentley was once again capable of standing alone as a marque in its own right.
Representing Chevrolet was this C5 generation Corvette.
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.
By the time that this Sovereign was launched, in 1969, Daimler cars were, with the exception of the DS420 Limousine, little more than Jaguars with a different grille and slightly altered trim. That does not mean that they were bad cars. Far from it, of course, as the XJ6 on which this model was based, was one of the very best luxury saloon cars available at the time. Even today this Series 2 model Coupe exudes elegance and class in a way that many of today’s high end models simply do not do. First shown in September 1973, at the same time as the Series 2 versions of the Jaguar XJ6/12 and related Daimler models, it soon became clear that this version was not ready for production, with problems surrounding the window sealing. The economic troubles unfolding in the western world at this time seem to have reduced further any sense of urgency about producing and selling the cars, so it was a further two years before the Coupés finally started to appear in Jaguar showrooms. The Coupé was based on the short-wheelbase version of the XJ. The elongated doors were made out of a lengthened standard XJ front door, with the weld seams clearly visible under the interior panels where two front door shells were grafted together with a single outer skin. Even with the delay, these cars suffered from water leaks and wind noise. All coupes came with a vinyl roof as standard. Since the coupe lacked B-pillars, the roof flexed enough that the paint used by Jaguar at the time would develop cracks. More modern paints do not suffer such problems, so whenever a coupe is repainted it is viable to remove the vinyl. Today many XJ-Cs no longer have their vinyl roof, also removing the threat of roof rust. Some owners also modified their XJ-C by changing to Series III bumpers. This lifted the front indicators from under the bumper and provided built in rear fog lights. Both six and twelve-cylinder models were offered, along with Daimler badged versions. However, the delayed introduction, the labour-intensive work required by the modified saloon body, the higher price than the four-door car, and the focus on the new XJ-S all contributed to a short production run of just two years. 6,505 of the 4.2 and 1,873 of the V12 Jaguar models were made, along with 1677 Daimler Sovereign and 477 Double Six models, making a total of 10,426. Nowadays, the cars are much respected for their elegant design.
A Club I’ve not seen here before was the one for the 131 Mirafiori and there were 4 cars here, most of which had been at Brooklands the day before. Named after the Turin suburb where it was built, the Fiat 131 was a much more conventional car than the innovative 128 and 127 which it joined in the range. The Fiat 131 employed construction techniques and technologies typical of its day. The body was a steel monocoque. Designed and styled on the typical three-box design, with distinct boxes for the engine compartment, passenger compartment, and boot. The major mechanical components were also conventional and contemporary, but with some notable advances. The 131 employed a front engine, rear-wheel drive layout. The engines were all inline-four types, derived from those used in the outgoing 124 range, with a cast iron cylinder block and aluminium alloy cylinder head. Initially the 131 was offered only with pushrod valve gear, which offered the innovation of being the worldwide first engine with OHV valve gear and a belt driven camshaft. Only later in the model’s life came the well known double overhead camshaft (DOHC) engines which used a toothed timing belt. Fuel supply was via a single Weber ADF twin-choke carburettor. Traditional contact breaker ignition systems were used, usually with Marelli distributors. The suspension system utilised fully independent front suspension, with MacPherson struts, track control arms and anti-roll bar. The rear suspension was quite advanced (when using a solid live rear axle), in that the rear axle was controlled by double unequal length trailing arms and a panhard rod, with coil springs and direct acting dampers. This design proved far superior to many of its contemporaries, especially with vehicle stability and handling. The car’s interior offered another worldwide first in having the secondary switches in the dashboard illuminated by a central bulb somewhere in the dashboard and fibre optics from there to the switches. The Fiat 131 Mirafiori was introduced at the 55th Turin Motor Show in late October 1974. The 131 came with a choice of a 1,297 cc or 1,585 cc OHV inline-four engines, both from the engine family first introduced on the Fiat 124. Both engines were fitted with a single twin-choke Weber 32 ADF downdraught carburettor. A four-speed manual transmission was standard, with a 5-speed manual and a 3-speed torque converter automatic optional on the 1600 engine only. The initial range comprised eleven different models. There were three body styles: 2-door saloon, 4-door saloon and Familiare station wagon (Estate on the British market). Station wagons were built by SEAT in Spain, but were labelled Fiats for all non-Spanish markets. Trim levels were two; the entry-level 131 Mirafiori (also known as “Normale” or “Standard”) had single square headlamps, wheels and dished hubcap from the 124, and simplified interior furnishings. Next was the better appointed 131 Mirafiori Special (or simply “S”), which could be distinguished from the base model by its quadruple circular headlamps, specific grille, side rubbing strips, chrome window surrounds, and rubber bumper inserts. Inside it added different instrumentation with triple square dials, a padded adjustable steering wheel, cloth upholstery, and reclining seats. Additionally the more sophisticated options—such as air conditioning, tachometer, limited slip differential and vinyl roof—were exclusive to the Special. Each body style could be combined with either of the engines and trim levels—save for the Special estate which only came with the larger engine. The 131 got a minor facelift in 1978. New DOHC, or “Twin Cam” engines arrived, and these models were badged as Supermirafiori. The biggest change exterior-wise for the Series 2 was larger rectangular shaped front lights, new bumpers, new bigger rear lights and new interior trim including a chunky, single-spoked steering wheel. Later in 1978, the 2-door sporting version Racing (Mirafiori Sport in the UK) with 115 PS twin cam engine, was launched. This car had four round headlights (the inner headlights being smaller than the outer ones, unlike any other Mirafiori model produced), different grille, spoilers and extended wheel arches, and a short-throw 5 speed gearbox. The Racing had top speed of 180 km/h (110 mph). Diesel engined versions also had four round headlights (equally sized), and a noticeable (and characteristic) bump in the hood to accommodate the taller engine. The 131 was updated again in March 1981. Production of the Racing/Sport versions ceased, although these were sold well into 1982. The same 2.0 twin cam engine went to the Supermirafiori. The car received a slightly updated interior (instruments, single-piece glovebox lid), whilst lower rubbing strips found their way onto all models up to CL specification. The Supermirafiori received larger lower door cladding. Mechanically, Mirafiori versions now received overhead cam engines rather than pushrod versions; a new 1.4 litre engine and a revised 1.6 litre. Also new were the clutch and gearboxes, a tweaked suspension was also introduced and the fuel tank increased in size by three litres. In June 1981, a new sport version, the Volumetrico Abarth, was introduced to some markets, with a supercharged version of the familiar 2 litre twin-cam. This car, also known as the 2000 TC Compressore, was built in a small series (about 200 units) and could reach 190 km/h (118 mph).In 1983, the production of saloon version was discontinued, but the estate, now named 131 Maratea, remained in production with two engine choices (115 PS 2.0 TC and 72 PS 2.5 D) until 1985, when they were replaced with the Ritmo-based Regata Weekend. These last versions featured four round headlights and the by-now familiar five-bar grille. In total, 1,513,800 units were produced in Italy. Seen here were Jason Hodgkinson’s Series 3 1400CL, a car which I have seen at numerous Italian car events all over the country in recent years, as well as a Series 1 1600 Special and a couple of the Sport model.
The Mark I Ford Escort was introduced in the UK at the end of 1967, making its show debut at Brussels Motor Show in January 1968, replacing the successful, long-running Anglia. The car was presented in continental Europe as a product of Ford’s European operation. Escort production commenced at the Halewood plant in England during the closing months of 1967, and for left hand drive markets during September 1968 at the Ford plant in Genk. Initially the continental Escorts differed slightly from the UK built ones under the skin. The front suspension and steering gear were differently configured and the brakes were fitted with dual hydraulic circuits; also the wheels fitted on the Genk-built Escorts had wider rims. At the beginning of 1970, continental European production transferred to a new plant on the edge of Saarlouis, West Germany. The Escort was a commercial success in several parts of western Europe, but nowhere more than in the UK, where the national best seller of the 1960s, BMC’s Austin/Morris 1100 was beginning to show its age while Ford’s own Cortina had grown, both in dimensions and in price, beyond the market niche at which it had originally been pitched. In June 1974, six years into the car’s UK introduction, Ford announced the completion of the two millionth Ford Escort, a milestone hitherto unmatched by any Ford model outside the US. It was also stated that 60% of the two million Escorts had been built in Britain. In West Germany cars were built at a slower rate of around 150,000 cars per year, slumping to 78,604 in 1974 which was the last year for the Escort Mark I. Many of the German built Escorts were exported, notably to Benelux and Italy; from the West German domestic market perspective the car was cramped and uncomfortable when compared with the well-established and comparably priced Opel Kadett, and it was technically primitive when set against the successful imported Fiat 128 and Renault 12. Subsequent generations of the Escort made up some of the ground foregone by the original model, but in Europe’s largest auto-market the Escort sales volumes always came in well behind those of the General Motors Kadett and its Astra successor. The Escort had conventional rear-wheel drive and a four-speed manual gearbox, or three-speed automatic transmission. The suspension consisted of MacPherson strut front suspension and a simple live axle mounted on leaf springs. The Escort was the first small Ford to use rack-and-pinion steering. The Mark I featured contemporary styling cues in tune with its time: a subtle Detroit-inspired “Coke bottle” waistline and the “dogbone” shaped front grille – arguably the car’s main stylistic feature. Similar Coke bottle styling featured in the larger Cortina Mark III (also built in West Germany as the Taunus) launched in 1970. Initially, the Escort was sold as a two-door saloon (with circular front headlights and rubber flooring on the “De Luxe” model). The “Super” model featured rectangular headlights, carpets, a cigar lighter and a water temperature gauge. A two-door estate was introduced at the end of March 1968 which, with the back seat folded down, provided a 40% increase in maximum load space over the old Anglia 105E estate, according to the manufacturer. The estate featured the same engine options as the saloon, but it also included a larger, 7 1⁄2-inch-diameter clutch, stiffer rear springs and in most configurations slightly larger brake drums or discs than the saloon. A panel van appeared in April 1968 and the 4-door saloon (a bodystyle the Anglia was never available in for UK market) in 1969. Underneath the bonnet was the Kent Crossflow engine in 1.1 and 1.3 litre versions. A 940 cc engine was also available in some export markets such as Italy and France. This tiny engine remained popular in Italy, where it was carried over for the Escort Mark II, but in France it was discontinued during 1972. There was a 1300GT performance version, with a tuned 1.3 L Crossflow (OHV) engine with a Weber carburettor and uprated suspension. This version featured additional instrumentation with a tachometer, battery charge indicator, and oil pressure gauge. The same tuned 1.3 L engine was also used in a variation sold as the Escort Sport, that used the flared front wings from the AVO range of cars, but featured trim from the more basic models. Later, an “executive” version of the Escort was produced known as the “1300E”. This featured the same 13″ road wheels and flared wings of the Sport, but was trimmed in an upmarket, for that time, fashion with wood trim on the dashboard and door cappings. A higher performance version for rallies and racing was available, the Escort Twin Cam, built for Group 2 international rallying. It had an engine with a Lotus-made eight-valve twin camshaft head fitted to the 1.5 L non-crossflow block, which had a bigger bore than usual to give a capacity of 1,557 cc. This engine had originally been developed for the Lotus Elan. Production of the Twin Cam, which was originally produced at Halewood, was phased out as the Cosworth-engined RS1600 (RS denoting Rallye Sport) production began. The most famous edition of the Twin Cam was raced on behalf of Ford by Alan Mann Racing in the British Saloon Car Championship in 1968 and 1969, sporting a full Formula 2 Ford FVC 16-valve engine producing over 200 hp. The Escort, driven by Australian driver Frank Gardner went on to comfortably win the 1968 championship. The Mark I Escorts became successful as a rally car, and they eventually went on to become one of the most successful rally cars of all time. The Ford works team was practically unbeatable in the late 1960s / early 1970s, and arguably the Escort’s greatest victory was in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally, co-driven by Finnish legend Hannu Mikkola and Swedish co-driver Gunnar Palm. This gave rise to the Escort Mexico (1598cc “crossflow”-engined) special edition road versions in honour of the rally car. Introduced in November 1970, 10,352 Mexico Mark I’s were built. In addition to the Mexico, the RS1600 was developed with 1,601 cc Cosworth BDA which used a Crossflow block with a 16-valve Cosworth cylinder head, named for “Belt Drive A Series”. Both the Mexico and RS1600 were built at Ford’s Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) facility located at the Aveley Plant in South Essex. As well as higher performance engines and sports suspension, these models featured strengthened bodyshells utilising seam welding in places of spot welding, making them more suitable for competition. After updating the factory team cars with a larger 1701 cc Cosworth BDB engine in 1972 and then with fuel injected BDC, Ford also produced an RS2000 model as an alternative to the somewhat temperamental RS1600, featuring a 2.0 litre Pinto (OHC) engine. This also clocked up some rally and racing victories; and pre-empted the hot hatch market as a desirable but affordable performance road car. Like the Mexico and RS1600, this car was produced at the Aveley plant.
The Sierra RS Cosworth model. a very sporting version of Ford’s upper-medium sized family car, 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, though in fact there was a late model hatch here as well.
There were more American Fords than European ones here, all of them Mustangs with an array of different cars on show, almost all of them from the long-running first generation that was produced from April 1964 to the end of the 1973 model year. The car evolved on a more or less annual basis, so the styling became less and less like the elegant initial models. Apparently there had been 270 cars on display on the Saturday and 40 of them had taken to the track in the lunchtime track parade – quite a sight, I imagine!
It is more than a quarter of a century since Honda stunned the world with a true Ferrari-beater. Its origins go back all the way to 1984, when Honda commissioned the Italian car designer Pininfarina to design the HP-X (Honda Pininfarina eXperimental), which had a mid-mounted C20A 2.0 L V6 configuration. After Honda committed to the project, management informed the engineers that the new car would have to be as fast as anything coming from Italy and Germany .The HP-X concept car evolved into a prototype called the NS-X, which stood for “New”, “Sportscar” and “eXperimental”. The NS-X prototype and eventual production model were designed by a team led by Chief Designer Ken Okuyama and Executive Chief Engineer Shigeru Uehara, who subsequently were placed in charge of the S2000 project. The original performance target for the NS-X was the Ferrari 328, and later the 348 as the design neared completion. Honda intended the NS-X to meet or exceed the performance of the Ferrari, while offering targeted reliability and a lower price point. For this reason, the 2.0L V6 of the HP-X was abandoned and replaced with a more powerful 3.0L VTEC V6 engine. The bodywork design had been specifically researched by Okuyama and Uehara after studying the 360 degree visibility inside an F-16 fighter jet cockpit. Thematically the F-16 came into play in the exterior design as well as establishing the conceptual goals of the NSX. In the F-16 and other high performance craft such as unlimited hydroplanes, single seat race cars etc. the cockpit is located far forward on the body and in front of the power plant. This “cab-forward” layout was chosen early in the NSX’s design to optimise visibility while the long tail design enhanced high speed directional stability. The NS-X was designed to showcase several Honda automotive technologies, many derived from its F1 motor-sports program. The NS-X was the first production car to feature an all-aluminium monocoque body, incorporating a revolutionary extruded aluminium alloy frame, and suspension. The use of aluminium in the body alone saved nearly 200 kg in weight over the steel equivalent, while the aluminium suspension saved an additional 20 kg; a suspension compliance pivot helped maintain wheel alignment changes at a near zero value. Other notable features included an independent, 4-channel anti-lock brake system; titanium connecting rods in the engine to permit reliable high-rpm operation; an electric power steering system; Honda’s proprietary VTEC variable valve timing system (a first in the US) and, in 1995, the first electronic throttle control fitted to a Honda. With a robust motorsports division, Honda had significant development resources at its disposal and made extensive use of them. Respected Japanese Formula One driver Satoru Nakajima, for example, was involved with Honda in the NS-X’s early on track development at Suzuka race circuit, where he performed many endurance distance duties related to chassis tuning. Brazilian Formula One World Champion Ayrton Senna, for whom Honda had powered all three of his world championship-winning Formula One race cars before his death in 1994, was considered Honda’s main innovator in convincing the company to stiffen the NSX chassis further after initially testing the car at Honda’s Suzuka GP circuit in Japan. Senna further helped refine the original NSX’s suspension tuning and handling spending a whole day test driving prototypes and reporting his findings to Honda engineers after each of the day’s five testing sessions. Senna also tested the NSX at the Nurburgring and other tracks. The suspension development program was far-ranging and took place at the Tochigi Proving Grounds, the Suzuka circuit, the 179-turn Nurburgring Course in Germany, HPCC, and Hondas newest test track in Takasu, Hokkaido. Honda automobile dealer Bobby Rahal (two-time CART PPG Cup and 1986 Indianapolis 500 champion) also participated in the car’s development. The production car made its first public appearances as the NS-X at the Chicago Auto Show in February 1989, and at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1989 to positive reviews. Honda revised the vehicle’s name from NS-X to NSX before final production and sale. The NSX went on sale in Japan in 1990 at Honda Verno dealership sales channels, supplanting the Honda Prelude as the flagship model. The NSX was marketed under Honda’s flagship Acura luxury brand starting in 1991 in North America and Hong Kong. It sent shockwaves through the industry, as the car was considerably better than the Ferrari 348 in just about every respect. But that was not the end of the story, of course. While the NSX always was intended to be a world-class sports car, engineers had made some compromises in order to strike a suitable balance between raw performance and daily driveability. For those NSX customers seeking a no-compromise racing experience, Honda decided in 1992 to produce a version of the NSX specifically modified for superior on-track performance at the expense of customary creature comforts. Thus, the NSX Type R (or NSX-R) was born. Honda chose to use its moniker of Type R to designate the NSX-R’s race-oriented design. In 1995, a Targa model was released, the NSX-T, which allowed customers to experience fresh air thanks to two removable targa top panels. The original NSX body design received only minor modifications from Honda in the new millennium when in 2002 the original pop-up headlamps were replaced with fixed xenon HID headlamp units. There wasn’t a Club display as such, and this car was parked up with a very diverse collection of other makes and models.
Even with both the Jaguar Drivers’ Club and the Jaguar Enthusiasts club here, there were not that many examples of the Big Cat here, far fewer than there have been in the past.
Oldest of the models on show was this SS100. Whilst the first cars we now think of as Jaguars were closely related to the Austin Seven, it was not long before Sir William Lyons was producing cars to his own design. The first of the open two-seater sports cars came in March 1935 with the SS 90, so called because of its claimed 90 mph top speed. This car used the 2½-litre side-valve, six-cylinder engine in a short-chassis “cut and shut” SS 1 brought down to an SS 2’s wheelbase. Just 23 were made. The SS90 was the precursor to one of the finest pre-war sports car ever made, the SS100. That car benefitted from some significant engine development work that was led by Harry Westlake, who was asked to redesign the 2½-litre 70 bhp side-valve engine to achieve 90 bhp. His answer was an overhead-valve design that produced 102 bhp and it was this engine that launched the new SS Jaguar sports and saloon cars in 1936. Shown first in the SS Jaguar 2½-litre saloon, the new car caused a sensation when it was launched at a trade luncheon for dealers and press at London’s Mayfair Hotel on 21 September 1935. The show car was in fact a prototype. Luncheon guests were asked to write down the UK price for which they thought the car would be sold and the average of their answers was £765. Even in that deflationary period, the actual price at just £395 would have been a pleasant surprise for many customers, something which characterised Jaguars for many decades to come. Whilst the new Jaguar saloon could now compete with the brand new MG SA, it was the next application of the engine that stunned everyone even more, with the launch of the legendary SS100. Named because it was a genuine 100 mph car, this open topped sports car looked as good as it was to drive. Only 198 of the 2½-litre and 116 of the 3½-litre models were made and survivors are highly prized and priced on the rare occasions when they come on the market. Such is their desirability that a number of replica models have been made over the years, with those made by Suffolk Engineering being perhaps the best known, and which are indeed hard to tell apart from an original 1930s car at a glance.
Although bearing a family resemblance to the earlier XK120 and XK140, the XK150, launched in the spring of 1957, was radically revised. A one-piece windscreen replaced the split screen, and the wing line no longer dropped so deeply at the doors. The widened bonnet opened down to the wings, and on the Roadster the windscreen frame was moved back 4 inches to make the bonnet longer. The XK140’s walnut dashboard was replaced by one trimmed in leather. On the early Drophead Coupés, the aluminium centre dash panel, which was discontinued after June 1958, had an X pattern engraving similar to the early 3.8 E-Type. Thinner doors gave more interior space. On the front parking lights, which were located atop the wings, a little red light reminded the driver the lights were on. Suspension and chassis were very similar to the XK140, and steering was by rack and pinion; power steering was not offered. The standard engine, the similar to the XK140, but with an new “B” type cylinder head, was the 3.4 litre DOHC Jaguar straight-6 rated at 180 SAE bhp at 5750 rpm but most cars were fitted with the SE engine whose modified cylinder head (B type) and larger exhaust valves boosted the power to 210 SAE bhp at 5500 rpm. Twin 1.75-inch (44 mm) SU HD6 carburettors were fitted. While the first XK150s were slower than their predecessors, the deficit was corrected in the spring of 1958 with a 3.4-litre “S” engine whose three 2-inch SU HD8 carburettors and straight-port cylinder head increased power to a claimed 250 SAE bhp. For 1960, the 3.4 litre engine was bored to 3.8 litres, rating this option at 220 hp in standard tune or 265 hp in “S” form. A 3.8 litre 150S could top 135 mph and go from 0–60 mph in around 7.0 seconds. Fuel economy was 18mpg. Four-wheel Dunlop 12 in disc brakes appeared for the first time although it was theoretically possible to order a car with drums. When leaving the factory the car originally fitted either 6.00 × 16 inch Dunlop Road Speed tyres as standard, or you could specify 185VR16 Pirelli Cinturato CA67 as a radial option on either 16 × 5K½ solid wheels (basic models) or 16 × 5K wire wheels. Production ended in October 1960, and totalled 2265 Roadsters, 4445 Fixed Head Coupés and 2672 Drophead Coupés.
One of the most loved Jaguars of all time, both when it was new, and still now, is the Mark 2 saloon. Many will tell you that it is not the 3 Series BMW that “invented” the “compact sports saloon” car class, but this model, which dates back to 1959. A thorough revision of the small Jaguar saloon that had joined the range in 1955, the Mark 2 was notable in that it was the first car to use the Arabic numeral in its name, as opposed to the Roman numerals of the larger Jaguar models. At launch, the earlier model which had hitherto been known by its engine size was christened the Mark 1. Although clearly based on that car, the updated car looked significantly different, with an increase of 18% in cabin glass area greatly improving visibility. The car was re-engineered above the waistline. Slender front pillars allowed a wider windscreen and the rear window almost wrapped around to the enlarged side windows now with the familiar Jaguar D-shape above the back door and fully chromed frames for all the side windows. The radiator grille was amended and larger side, tail and fog lamps repositioned. Inside a new heating system was fitted and ducted to the rear compartment (although still notoriously ineffective). There was an improved instrument layout that became standard for all Jaguar cars until the XJ Series II of 1973. As well as the familiar 2.4 and 3.4 litre engines, what made this car particularly special was that it was also offered with the potent 220 bhp 3.8 litre unit that was fitted to the XK150 and which would later see service in the E Type. This gave the car a 0 – 60 time of around 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 125 mph. No wonder that the Mark 2 became popular as a get-away car for the criminal fraternity, and to keep up with and catch them, many police forces bought the car as well. With revised suspension and standard four wheel disc brakes, the car was effective on the track, taking plenty of class wins when new, and it is still popular in historic racing circles today. The quickest and most successful private entries came from John Coombs, a man with significant race experience who operated a large Jaguar dealership in Guildford. Coombs would undertake modifications to meet the demands of his customers, so not all the cars that he worked on are the same. Jaguar replaced the Mark 2 with simplified and slightly more cheaply finished 240 and 340 models, as an interim measure until an all-new model was ready to take over from them. The 3.8 litre disappeared from the range at this time, but in the 7 years it had been in production, it had been the best seller of the range, with around 30,000 cars produced, as compared to 28,666 of the 3.4 litre and 25,741 of the 2.4 litre model.
Successor to the E Type was the XJ-S, launched in September 1975, and to a not universally approving public. This was a very different sort of sporting Jaguar, more boulevard cruiser than sports car, even though the car had plenty of appeal with its smooth V12 engine which gave it genuine 150 mph performance. Press reports were favourable, but a thirsty V12 and a car with inconsistent build quality and styling that not everyone warmed to meant that sales were slow, and they got slower as the decade passed, leading questions to be asked as to whether the car should continue. As well as sorting the saloon models, Jaguar’s Chairman, John Egan, put in place a program to improve the XJ-S as well, which also benefitted from the HE engine in early 1981. A Cabrio model and the option of the new 3.6 litre 6 cylinder engine from 1984 widened the sales appeal, and the volumes of cars being bought started to go up. A fully open Convertible, launched in 1988 was the model many had been waiting for, and by this time, although the design was over 10 years old, it was now brimming with appeal to many. 1991 saw an extensive facelift which changed the styling details as well as incorporating the latest mechanical changes from the Jaguar parts bin, making the XJS (the hyphen had been dropped from the name in 1990) a truly desirable car. There was a separate display just for the XJ-S, which was right next to the Abarth area, so there was plenty of opportunity to have a look at these cars.
Few would have guessed that the XJS would run for over 20 years, but eventually it came time for its replacement, and the car charged with so doing was the XK8. Development began in 1992, with design work having starting earlier, in late 1991. By October 1992 a design was chosen and later frozen for production in 1993. Prototypes were built from December 1993 after the X100 was given formal approval and design patents were filed in June 1994. Development concluded in 1996, at which point the car was launched. The first-generation XK series shares its platform with the Aston Martin DB7, and both cars are derived from the Jaguar XJS, though the platform has been extensively changed. One of the revisions is the use of the second generation of Jaguar’s independent rear suspension unit, taken from the XJ40. The XK8 was available in coupé or convertible body styles and with the then new 4.0-litre Jaguar AJ-V8 engine. In 1998 the XKR was introduced with a supercharged version of the engine. 2003 the engines were replaced by the 4.2-litre AJ34 engines in both the normally aspirated and supercharged versions. Equipment levels were generous and there was a high standard of fit and finish. Both models came with all-leather interior, burl walnut trim, and side airbags. Jeremy Clarkson, during a Top Gear test-drive, likened the interior of the original XK8 to sitting inside Blenheim Palace. The model ran for 10 years before being replaced by the X150 model XK.
There were also a couple of examples of Jaguar’s saloon car offerings from more recent times, too, the earlier of these an “X300” model XJ8. The “X300” model was the first XJ produced entirely under Ford ownership, and can be considered an evolution of the outgoing XJ40 generation. Like all previous XJ generations, it featured the Jaguar independent rear suspension arrangement. The design of the X300 placed emphasis on improved build quality, improved reliability, and a return to traditional Jaguar styling elements. At the car’s launch in October 1994 at the Paris Motor Show, Jaguar marketing material made use of the phrase “New Series XJ” to describe the X300 models. The X300 series represented the result of a £200 million facilities renewal program by Ford. which included the introduction of state-of-the-art automated body welding robots manufactured by Nissan. Aesthetically, the X300 received several updates in the design refresh led by Geoff Lawson in 1991. The mostly flat bonnet of the XJ40 was replaced with a fluted, curvaceous design that accentuated the four separate round headlamps. Rear wings were reshaped to accommodate the new wrap-around rear light clusters. Also, the separate black-rubber bumper bar of the XJ40 were replaced with a fully integrated body-coloured bumper. The interior of the X300 was similar to that found in the XJ40, with some revisions. The seats were updated to have a more rounded profile, wood trim was updated with bevelled edges, and the steering wheel was redesigned. Jaguar’s V12 engine and AJ6 inline-six (AJ16) engine were both available in various X300 models, although they received significant updates. Both engines were fitted with distributorless electronic engine management systems. The Jaguar X308 first appeared in 1997 and was produced until 2003. It was an evolution of the outgoing X300 platform, and the exterior styling is nearly identical between the two generations, though there are quite a few detailed differences if you know what to look for. The major change was the under the bonnet. Having discontinued production of both the AJ16 inline-six and V12 engines, Jaguar offered only its newly designed V8 engine (named the AJ-V8.) It was available in either 3.2 or 4.0 litre forms, although certain markets, such as the United States, only received cars powered by the 4.0 litre version. The 4.0 litre version was also supercharged in certain models. Equipment levels were notably more generous than had previously been the case.
This is from the X358 generation of XJ, a facelift of the X350, which debuted in February 2007 with a revised front grille and front bumper assembly featuring a prominent lower grille. A Jaguar emblem within the grille replaced the previous bonnet-mounted ornament. The front lights were revised and door mirrors incorporated side repeaters. The front fenders/wings had prominent faux side vents, and the side sills, rear bumper and tail lights were revised. The interior featured redesigned front seats. Short and long wheelbase versions were offered. Engines were carried forward with the diesel having assumed ever greater significance.
The original Elan was introduced in 1962 as a roadster, although an optional hardtop was offered in 1963 and a coupé version appeared in 1965, and there were examples of all of these here. The two-seat Lotus Elan replaced the elegant, but unreliable and expensive to produce Lotus Elite. It was the first Lotus road car to use a steel backbone chassis with a fibreglass body. At 1,600 lb (726 kg), the Elan embodied the Colin Chapman minimum weight design philosophy. Initial versions of the Elan were also available as a kit to be assembled by the customer. The Elan was technologically advanced with a DOHC 1557 cc engine, 4-wheel disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, and 4-wheel independent suspension. Gordon Murray, who designed the spectacular McLaren F1 supercar, reportedly said that his only disappointment with the McLaren F1 was that he couldn’t give it the perfect steering of the Lotus Elan. This generation of the two-seater Elan was famously driven by the character Emma Peel on the 1960s British television series The Avengers. The “Lotus TwinCam” engine was based on Ford Kent Pre-Crossflow 4-cylinder 1498 cc engine, with a Harry Mundy-designed 2 valve alloy chain-driven twin-cam head. The rights to this design was later purchased by Ford, who renamed it to “Lotus-Ford Twin Cam”. It would go on to be used in a number of Ford and Lotus production and racing models. Seen here was an example of the Drophead.
Parked up with the Lotus cars was a nice examples of the Ford Lotus Cortina Mark 1. The history of this model 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 could 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.
First mid-engined road-going Lotus was 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’ 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”.
Perhaps my favourite of all the Lotus models on show were the early Esprit models. 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 late 1987.
There were a couple of examples of the Excel here. 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.
Developed under the project name Project Eagle, this car was launched as the Evora on 22 July 2008 at the British International Motor Show. The Evora is based on the first all-new vehicle platform from Lotus Cars since the introduction of the Lotus Elise in 1995 (the Exige, introduced in 2000, and the 2006 Europa S are both derivatives of the Elise Evora was planned to be the first vehicle of three to be built on the same platform and was the first product of a five-year plan started in 2006 to expand the Lotus line-up beyond its track-specialised offerings, with the aim of making Evora a somewhat of a more practical road car that would appeal to the mainstream. As such it is a larger car than recent Lotus models Elise and its derivatives (Exige, Europa S, etc.), with an unladen weight of 1,383 kg (3,049 lb). It is currently the only Lotus model with a 2+2 configuration, although it is also offered in a two-seater configuration, referred to as the “Plus Zero” option. It is also the only 2+2 mid engined coupé on sale. The interior is larger to allow taller persons of 6’5″ to fit. The cooled boot behind the engine is large enough to fit a set of golf clubs, although Lotus Design Head Russell Carr denies that this was intentional. Lotus intends Evora to compete with different market sectors including the Porsche Cayman. The name “Evora” keeps the Lotus tradition of beginning model names with an “E”. The name is derived from the words evolution, vogue, and aura. and it of course sounds similar to Évora, which is the name of a Portuguese city and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sales started in summer 2009, with an annual target of 2000 cars per year, with prices between £45,000 and just over £50,000. and in America from the beginning of 2010. The Evora received several accolades at its launch from the British motoring press, including: Britain’s Best Driver’s Car 2009 from Autocar and Car of the Year 2009, from Evo. Sales, however, were far from target, as the car was seen as too costly. A more powerful Evora S was launched in 2010 with a supercharged equipped 3.5-litre V6. A facelifted and more powerful Evora 400 model was unveiled at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.
In previous years there have been an impressive collection of Marcos models here, but this time there were far fewer. Designed by brothers Dennis and Peter Adams, this well-known car caused something of a sensation when it was shown at the 1964 Racing Car Show. Known as the Marcos 1800, it had a glassfibre body, with a wooden chassis and was offered for sale fully built or in kit form. This was to be the design that would become familiar to sports car enthusiasts for more than 30 years, even though the original plywood chassis would later be replaced by a steel chassis and the futuristic scalloped dashboard also vanished after a few years. The plywood chassis was glued together from 386 separate pieces and was not only light and strong, but also required a minimum up front investment to construct. The extremely low Marcos required a nearly supine driving position and fixed seats, mounted lower than the floor of the car. In return, the entire pedal set could be moved fore and aft with a knob on the dashboard. If this proved not to be enough Marcos also offered optional booster pillows. This setup, with the fixed seats, remained until the end of Marcos production in late 2007. The original Marcos 1800 had a two-spoke steering wheel and a novel dash with a prominent centre console, a rather expensive design which did not survive onto the Ford-engined cars. The entire nose portion, of a long and tapered design, was hinged at the front and was held down by latches behind the front wheelwells. It used the cast-iron four-cylinder 96 hp Volvo 1778 cc B18 unit with overdrive gearbox from the Volvo P1800S enough for a 116 mph top speed and a 0-60 mph time of 8.2 seconds. Successful in competition, the rather expensive 1800 sold very slowly, and after the first 33 cars the de Dion rear suspension was replaced by a live Ford axle. The price was dropped from ₤1500 to ₤1340, but it was not enough to make the car profitable. Cars were stockpiling in 1966, and after 106 (or 99) had been built, the 1800 was replaced by the Ford-engined 1500. Normally fitted with a four-speed manual transmission a five-speed one was also available, allowing for a higher top speed. According to some sources, a few of the last cars built had the 2 litre Volvo B20 engine fitted, as did some of the racing cars. The 1800 is the only Marcos that is eligible for historic racing and as such is considerably more valuable today than later models. In 1966 the GT was changed to a pushrod inline-four Ford Kent engine of 1500 cc, in order to lower costs as the 1800 had been rather too expensive to market. The complex dash was also replaced with a flat polished wood unit, which was soon downgraded further yet to a mass-produced “wood-effect” one. Power and performance were both down on the 1800, but sales increased considerably. To hide the fact that a common Ford engine was used, Marsh replaced the rocker covers with Marcos ones and switched from Weber to Stromberg carburettors. An overbored Lawrencetune 1650 cc version was made available in 1967 (32 built) to ameliorate the power shortage, for the Marcos 1650 GT. The 1650 also had bigger disc brakes and a standard Webasto sunroof, but proved somewhat less than reliable It and the 1500 were both replaced by Ford’s new Crossflow four not much later, in late 1967. The 1600 proved to be the most popular model yet, with 192 cars built until early 1969. Weight was 740 kg (1,631 lb) and disc brakes up front were standard, although power assist was an optional extra. Production ended in October 1969 as the new steel chassis was not well suited for the crossflow engine. A new model, the 2 litre, appeared at the January 1969 London Show with the engine changed to the Ford Essex V4 engine from the Ford Corsair – while a V6 engine had already appeared at the top of the lineup in 1968. Also in 1969, the plywood chassis was gradually replaced by a square section steel one, which shortened production time and saved on cost. These steel framed cars required a lower sill panel and have reshaped rear bumpers, as well as some subtle interior differences. The wooden chassis had also begun to meet a certain amount of resistance from buyers. There seem to have been no V4-engined wooden cars made, although there is a few months overlap between the introduction dates. The V4 received most of the same standard and optional equipment (except the overdrive) and the same central bonnet bulge as did the V6 models; very few of the Marcos 2 litres still have their V4 engines, as a V6 swap is a rather quick job and makes for a much faster car than the original’s 85 hp. It was not exactly a success story, 78 2 litres were most likely built, although numbers as low as 40 have also been mentioned. New at the October 1968 London Show was the more powerful Marcos 3 litre. Fitted with the double-carb Ford Essex V6 engine and transmission from the Ford Zodiac, production beginning in January 1969. Max power was 140 bhp and aside from the badging, this car is most easily recognised by the large, central bonnet bulge necessary to clear the larger engine. The 3 litre had a four-speed manual with a Laycock-de-Normanville Overdrive for the third and fourth gears fitted. In December 1969 a twin-carburetted 3-litre Volvo B30 straight-six became available (initially only for the US), and in 1971 eleven or twelve cars were fitted with the 150 bhp Triumph 2.5-litre straight-six. These were called the Marcos 2½ litre. As the bonnet was a close fit over the various larger engines, this resulted in a corresponding variation in the bonnet design as regards changes designed to clear engine air intakes, often the only external sign of the type of engine fitted. All inline-sixes required a rather angular bulge right of centre on the bonnet to clear the carburettors. Around this time, some V6 cars begun sporting single rectangular headlights (not on US-market cars), borrowed from the Vauxhall Viva HB. Later in 1969 the six-cylinder cars, as with their four-cylinder counterparts, received the new steel chassis. Either 100 or 119 of the wood-chassied V6 cars were built. The Ford V6 version achieved over 120 mph on test and the Volvo-engined model was not far behind it, but the heavy cast-iron engines increased nose-heaviness in comparison to the four-cylinder variants. With US sales going strong, Marcos production was up to three per week and they had to invest in a bigger space in 1969. Cars for the North Americas market had Volvo’s inline-six cylinder, 3 litre engines with a standard Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic transmissions. They sat on tubular steel space frames, have a higher ride height, and no headlight covers – all of this was in order to get US road certification. Air conditioning was also listed as an option by New York-based importers Marcos International Inc. Delays and problems with the federalised cars were beginning to mount. In 1970, 27 exported cars were impounded by US Customs for supposedly not meeting federal law, causing Marcos to withdraw entirely from the US market. Together with the development costs of the Mantis and the introduction of VAT on kit cars on the horizon, Marcos had to close its doors for what turned out to be the first time. About sixty US market cars were built, some of which were brought back after the US market dried up in 1970 and converted to RHD for sale in the home market. Production of the Volvo 3 litre continued for the rest of the world, with these cars fitted with a four-speed manual transmission. Either 80 or 172 of the Volvo I6-engined Marcos were built until early 1972, with the final one destined to become the last Marcos built for the next ten years. After Marcos had run out of money the company was sold to Hebron & Medlock Bath Engineering in mid-1971. They themselves had to call in the receivers only six months later. The Rob Walker Garage Group bought the factory only to sell off everything, including some finished cars such as all six Mark 2 1600s built. Jem Marsh bought up spares and other parts at the liquidation sale and proceeded to run a company servicing existing Marcos, until he resumed production of Marcos kits in 1981. The original GT continued to be built until 1989 or 1990, being developed into its altered Mantula form. This was further developed into more powerful and aggressively-styled designs, culminating in the 1994 LM600 (which competed in the 1995 Le Mans 24-hour race).
There was a big showing of cars from the MX5 Owners Club, with examples from all four generations of what is now the world’s best-selling cars of all time. Hard to realise, but the first cars are now more than 25 years old.
Sole Mercedes on show was this W124 Cabriolet. The W124 saloon was launched in the autumn of 1984 and estate and coupe models followed a couple of years later, but it was not until 1991 before Mercedes launched a cabriolet, their first open=topped non-SL model for a very long time. Initially it was only offered with the top spec 24 valve 3 litre in-line 6 cylinder engine, the 300CE-24. In common with the whole range, the car was redesignated as the E 320 in 1993 and it was complemented by the less powerful, but less expensive E 220 in 1993, and the mainland-Europe-only E 200 in 1994. Mercedes brought the E 320 cabriolet (convertible) to the USA and Japan from 1993 to 1995. There were 68 E 36 AMG cabriolets built from 1993 until 1996 (54 LHD and 14 RHD) to complement the also rare E 36 AMG coupé, saloon (RHD only), and estate. Approximately 171 estate cars were produced for the Japanese market. The pre-merger AMG coupés are based on the 124 series 2 update. The AMG 3.4 CE (300CE-24 based coupé) were all LHD, 25 were produced from 1988 until 1993. There were also 7 cabriolets built, and eleven saloons (and possibly estates). AMG Japan also carried out such conversions locally. The E 320, E 220, and E 200 cabriolets ceased production in 1997.
The MGA replaced the long running T Series sports cars and presented a complete styling break from MG’s earlier sports cars. Announced on 26 September 1955, the car was officially launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show. A total of 101,081 units were sold through the end of production in July 1962, the vast majority of the 58.750 cars made were exported. Only 5869 cars were sold on the home market, the lowest percentage of any British car. It was replaced by the MGB. The MGA design dates back to 1951, when MG designer Syd Enever created a streamlined body for George Philips’ TD Le Mans car. The problem with this car was the high seating position of the driver because of the limitations of using the TD chassis. A new chassis was designed with the side members further apart and the floor attached to the bottom rather than the top of the frame sections. A prototype was built and shown to the BMC chairman Leonard Lord. He turned down the idea of producing the new car as he had just signed a deal with Donald Healey to produce Austin-Healey cars two weeks before. Falling sales of the traditional MG models caused a change of heart, and the car, initially to be called the UA-series, was brought back. As it was so different from the older MG models it was called the MGA, the “first of a new line” to quote the contemporary advertising. There was also a new engine available, therefore the car did not have the originally intended XPAG unit but was fitted with the BMC corporate B-Series type allowing a lower bonnet line. The MGA convertible had no exterior door handles, however the coupe did. It was a body-on-frame design and used the straight-4 1489cc “B series” engine from the MG Magnette saloon driving the rear wheels through a 4-speed gearbox. Suspension was independent with coil springs and wishbones at the front and a rigid axle with semi-elliptic springs at the rear. Steering was by rack and pinion. The car was available with either wire-spoked or steel-disc road wheels. The 1489 cc engine fitted with twin H4 type SU Carburettors produced 68 hp at first, but was soon uprated to 72 hp. Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes were used on all wheels. A high-performance Twin-Cam model was added for 1958. It used a high-compression (9.9:1 later 8.3:1) DOHC aluminium cylinder head version of the B-Series engine producing 108 hp. Due to detonation problems, a 100 bhp low-compression version was introduced later. Four-wheel disc brakes by Dunlop were fitted, along with Dunlop peg drive knock-off steel wheels similar to wheels used on racing Jaguars, unique to the Twin-Cam and “DeLuxe” MGA 1600 and 1600 MkII roadsters. These wheels and chassis upgrades were used on a small number of the “DeLuxe” models built after Twin-Cam production came to a halt. Aside from the wheels, the only outside identifier was a “Twin-Cam” logo near the vent aside the bonnet. A careful look at the rear wheel vents would also reveal another feature unique to Twin-Cam and DeLuxe: those 4 wheel Dunlop disc brakes . The temperamental engine was notorious for warranty problems during the course of production, and sales dropped quickly. The engine suffered from detonation and burnt oil. Most of the problems with the Twin-Cam engine were rectified with the low-compression version, but by then the damage had been done. Many restored Twin-Cams are running more reliably today than they ever did during production. The Twin-Cam was dropped in 1960 after 2,111 had been produced. Production ended in April 1960, but had slowed to a trickle long before. In May 1959 the standard cars also received an updated engine, now at 1588 cc producing 79.5 bhp . At the front disc brakes were fitted, but drums remained in the rear. Externally the car was very similar to the 1500 with differences including: amber or white (depending on market) front turn indicators shared with white parking lamps, separate stop/tail and turn lamps in the rear, and 1600 badging on the boot and the cowl. 31,501 of these were produced in less than three years. A number of 1600 De Luxe versions were produced with leftover special wheels and four-wheel disc brakes of the departed Twin-Cam, or using complete modified Twincam chassis left redundant by the discontinuance of that model. Seventy roadsters and 12 coupés were built. The engine size was increased again to 1622 cc by increasing the bore from 75.4 mm to 76.2 mm for the 1961 Mark II MGA. The cylinder head was also revised with larger valves and re-engineered combustion chambers. Horsepower increased to 90 bhp. It also had a higher ratio 4:1 rear axle, which made for more relaxed high-speed driving. An inset grille and Morris Mini tail lamps appearing horizontally below the deck lid were the most obvious visual changes. 8,198 Mark II roadsters and 521 coupés were built. As with the 1600 De Luxe, there were also some Mark II De Luxe versions; 290 roadsters and 23 coupés were produced.
As one of Britain’s most popular classic cars, it was no surprise to find several examples of the MGB here, with cars from throughout the model’s long life, both in Roadster and MGB GT guise, as well as one of the short-lived V8 engined cars. Launched in October 1962, this car was produced for the next 18 years and it went on to become Britain’s best selling sports car. When first announced, the MGB was an innovative, modern design, with a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series, though components such as the brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA and the B-Series engine had its origins back in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength, and with a 95hp 3-bearing 1798cc engine under the bonnet, performance was quite respectable with a 0–60 mph time of just over 11 seconds. The car was rather more civilised than its predecessor, with wind-up windows now fitted as standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while being 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. A five-bearing engine was introduced in 1964 and a number of other modifications crept into the specification. In late 1967, sufficient changes were introduced for the factory to define a Mark II model. Alterations included synchromesh on all 4 gears with revised ratios, an optional Borg-Warner automatic gearbox, a new rear axle, and an alternator in place of the dynamo with a change to a negative earth system. To accommodate the new gearboxes there were significant changes to the sheet metal in the floorpan, and a new flat-topped transmission tunnel. US market cars got a new safety padded dashboard, but the steel item continued for the rest of the world. Rostyle wheels were introduced to replace the previous pressed steel versions in 1969 and reclining seats were standardised. 1970 also saw a new front grille, recessed, in black aluminium. The more traditional-looking polished grille returned in 1973 with a black “honeycomb” insert. Further changes in 1972 were to the interior with a new fascia. To meet impact regulations, in late 1974, the chrome bumpers were replaced with new, steel-reinforced black rubber bumpers, the one at the front incorporating the grille area as well, giving a major restyling to the B’s nose, and a matching rear bumper completed the change. New US headlight height regulations also meant that the headlamps were now too low. Rather than redesign the front of the car, British Leyland raised the car’s suspension by 1-inch. This, in combination with the new, far heavier bumpers resulted in significantly poorer handling. For the 1975 model year only, the front anti-roll bar was deleted as a cost-saving measure (though still available as an option). The damage done by the British Leyland response to US legislation was partially alleviated by revisions to the suspension geometry in 1977, when a rear anti-roll bar was made standard equipment on all models. US emissions regulations also reduced horsepower. In March 1979 British Leyland started the production of black painted limited edition MGB roadsters for the US market, meant for a total of 500 examples. Due to a high demand of the limited edition model, production ended with 6682 examples. The United Kingdom received bronze painted roadsters and a silver GT model limited editions. The production run of 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 of the MGB of all model types were built, and although many of these were initially sold new in North America, a lot have been repatriated here. There were several Roadsters and MGB GT models here.
The MGC was produced as a sort of replacement for the Big Healey, though apart from sharing that car’s 3 litre straight six C Series engine, the reality is that the car was quite different and generally appealed to a different sort of customer. Or, if you look at the sales figures, you could say that it did not really appeal to anyone much, as the car struggled to find favour and buyers when new. More of a lazy grand tourer than an out and out sports car, the handling characteristics were less pleasing than in the B as the heavy engine up front did the car no favours. The market now, finally, takes a different view, though and if you want an MGC, in Roadster or the MGC GT form, you will have to dig surprisingly deeply into your pocket.
Sitting alongside the MGB in the MG range was the smaller Midget, and there were a number of these cars here, a Series 3 model and one of the last of the line, which came in black. The 1961 Midget resurrected the name that was used by MG for their smallest car, the M Type, in the late 20s, was the Midget announced in 1961, and was essentially a slightly more expensive badge-engineered version of the MkII Austin-Healey Sprite. The original ‘Frogeye’ Sprite had been introduced specifically to fill the gap in the market left by the end of production of the MG T-type Midget as its replacement, the MGA had been a significantly larger and more expensive car with greater performance. Many existing MG enthusiast and buyers turned to the Sprite to provide a modern low-cost sports car and so a badge-engineered MG version reusing the Midget name made sense. The new Midget differed from the Sprite only in its grille design, badging, colour options and having both leather seats and more external chrome trim as standard to justify its higher purchase price. Mechanically the car was identical to its Austin-Healey counterpart, retaining the rear suspension using quarter-elliptic leaf springs and trailing arms from the ‘Frogeye’. The engine was initially a 948 cc A-Series with twin SU carburettors producing 46 hp at 5500 rpm and 53 lb/ft at 3000 rpm. Brakes were 7″ drums all round. A hard top, heater, radio and luggage rack were available as factory-fitted extras. In October 1962 the engine was increased to 1098 cc, raising the output to 56 hp at 5500 rpm and 62 lb/ft at 3250 rpm, and disc brakes replaced the drums at the front. Wire spoked wheels became available. The doors had no external handles or locks and the windows were sliding Perspex side-screens. A heater was still an optional extra. The car sold well, with 16,080 of the small-engined version and 9601 of the 1098 being made before the arrival in 1964 of the Mark II. Externally the main changes were to the doors, which gained wind-up windows, swivelling quarter lights, external handles and separate locks. The windscreen also gained a slight curvature and was retained in a more substantial frame. The hood, though modified, continued to have a removable frame that had to be erected before the cover was put on. The rear springs were replaced by more conventional semi-elliptic types which gave a better ride. The engine block was strengthened and larger main bearings were fitted, increasing the power to 59 hp at 5750 rpm and torque to 65 lbf·ft at 3500 rpm. A total of 26,601 were made. 1967 saw the arrival of the Mark III. The engine now grew to 1275 cc using the development seen on the Mini-Cooper ‘S’. Enthusiasts were disappointed that this was a detuned version of the 76-bhp Cooper ‘S’ engine, giving only 65 hp at 6000 rpm and 72 lbf·ft at 3000 rpm. A reduced compression ratio of 8.8:1 was used instead of the 9.75:1 employed on the Cooper S engine. The Midget used the 12G940 cylinder head casting that was common to other BMC 1300 cars, whereas the Cooper ‘S’ had a special head with not only larger inlet, but also larger exhaust valves; however, these exhaust valves caused many ‘S’ heads to fail through cracking between the valve seats. The detuned engine was used for reasons of model range placement – with the Cooper ‘S’ spec engine, the Midget would have been faster than the more expensive MGB. The hydraulic system gained a separate master cylinder for the clutch. The hood was now permanently attached to the car, with an improved mechanism making it much easier to use. Minor facelift changes were made to the body trim in late 1969 with the sills painted black, a revised recessed black grille, and squared off taillights as on the MGB. The 13″ “Rostyle” wheels were standardised, but wire-spoked ones remained an option. The square-shaped rear wheel arches became rounded in January 1972 and later that year a Triumph steering rack was fitted, giving a gearing that was somewhat lower than earlier Midgets. A second exhaust silencer was also added in 1972. Alternators were fitted instead of dynamos from 1973 onwards. Many consider the round-arch Midgets with chrome bumpers produced for model years 1972 and 1974 to be the most desirable. These round-arch cars started leaving the Abingdon factory in late 1971. Between 1966 and the 1969 face lift, 22,415 were made, and a further 77,831 up to 1974.
Unless you go back to the 1930s. when MG made a few high performance cars which had racing more in mind than road use, the only model to get anywhere supercar status that bears the famous roundel is the SV, and this was also represented here. This car came about after MG-Rover acquired Qvale of Italy. Taking the Qvale Mangusta as a base, a car which had been designed, but not quite made production, MG Rover allocated the project code X80 and set up a subsidiary company, MG X80 Ltd., to produce their new model. A big factor behind the project was that was seen as having the potential sales in the United States, as the Mangusta had already been homologated for the American market. The MG X80 was originally revealed as a concept car in 2001. However, the styling was considered too sedate, so when the production model, now renamed MG XPower SV, was eventually launched the following year, designer Peter Stevens had made the car’s styling more aggressive. The conversion from a clay model to a production car, including all requirements, was done in just 300 days by the Swedish company Caran. The production process was complex, partly caused by the use of carbon fibre to make the body panels. The basic body parts were made in the UK by SP Systems and then shipped to Belco Avia near Turin for assembly into body panels. These were then assembled into a complete body shell and fitted onto the box frame chassis and running gear and shipped to MG Rover’s Longbridge factory to be trimmed and finished. Several of the cars’ exterior and interior parts were borrowed from current and past Fiat models. The headlights, for example, were taken from a Punto Mk.2 and the rear lights borrowed from a Fiat Coupe. The goal had been to get a street price of under £100,000, and on launch, the base model came in well under that at £65,000, and even the uprated XPower SV-R model was priced at £83,000. Those were ambitious prices for a car bearing MG badges, though, so not surprisingly, sales were slow. It is understood that just 82 cars were produced excluding the 4 ‘XP’ pre-production prototypes. This included a few pre-production and show cars which were later dismantled, before production was stopped due to lack of sales. Most were sold to private owners, with the final ones being sold to customers in early 2008.
There were a number of the classic Mini here, with models ranging from the Cooper S of the 1960s to some of the late model Coopers that were produced in the 90s.
In the last few years of production, there was a bewildering array of limited edition cars produced and there were a couple of these here. The Advantage was produced in June 1987, in time for the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. It was based on the Mini Mayfair and had the standard 998cc engine. All the cars were painted in Diamond White and there were Grey bumpers and door handles; black door mirrors; white wheel covers for the 12-inch steel wheels; Nimbus grey plastic wheel arch extensions and sill finishers. The cars sported a Tennis-net theme on lower body sides with “Advantage” script logo; Advantage logo on upper right of bootlid. Inside it came with Flint Grey and Jade Green “Tennis Net” cloth on seats and door panels. Standard equipment included a tachometer, radio-cassette, tinted glass, opening rear windows with chrome surround. Total production was 4,675, of which 2,500 were for the UK.
The Mini 35 was produced in 1994 to celebrate the 35th birthday of the car. Based on the Mini Sprite, it had the standard 4cylinder, 1275cc engine. It was available in the UK in a choice of three colours: Arizona Blue, Nevada Red and Diamond White. Distinguishing features outside included a Chrome grille, lock set and door handles, auxiliary driving lamps. and electric adjustable headlamp aim, along with a silver coachline with special decals. Inside there was Blue-and-pink “Jamboree” fabric, though export cars had the option of all-leather, perforated leather inserts with coloured piping that matched the exterior. There was a full walnut wood dash and door cappings, opening rear windows and an R652 stereo. Export model cars had 13″ alloy wheels. 1,000 were produced for the UK and 400 for export.
There were plenty of Morgan models here, most of them the classic shape that first appeared in the mid 50s and which is still available brand new now as the Plus 4 and Roadster.
Oldest Morgan here was a “Flat Rad”, the name given to the first of the 4-wheeled cars, produced from 1935. and more correctly called the 4-4. The first cars had the sliding pillar suspension of the three-wheeler plus an underslung live rear axle sitting over Z-section cross-section chassis side rails, carried in leaf springs. The first cars had a 34 bhp 1122 Coventry Climax four cylinder engine, a crossflow with overhead inlet and side exhaust valves. In competition form it had a slightly smaller capacity of 1098cc and it put out a healthy 50 – 60 bhp. The car enjoyed considerable success with a lightened car winning the Tourist Trophy in 1937 on handicap and in 1938 if finished second in class at Le mans. In 1939, Morgan changed to the 1267 cc overhead valve Standard Special engine which was both lighter and more powerful. Post was the name was changed to Plus 4 and in 1950 the engine was replaced by the much larger 2088cc 68 bhp Standard engine from the Vanguard and the body was revised to be slightly wider and roomier. The bodies were made of steel over a wooden frame. three different styles were offered: a two seater, a four seat tourer and a drophead coupe. This last was more sophisticated with a fixed windscreen frame sliding windows and a three position hood. The first of the cowled radiator cars arrived in 1953.
Also here was an Aero 8, the first new design from the Malvern Link company for over 35 years. Morgan’s first supercar, the first run of Aero models was unveiled at the Geneva motorshow in 2000 by Charles Morgan, it was in his words “the result of the biggest development project ever undertaken by the Morgan Motor Company”. The result of many years of hard work, a development programme that included racing in the FIA GT series and a partnership with BMW. Whilst the car structure comes as pre-formed bonded aluminium elements significant work goes into hand making the overall vehicle continuing the handmade history of the company. The method of building the car was ahead of most companies in the marketplace and represented a dramatic shift for the company. The superformed and bonded aluminium chassis has elements of an ash frame to provide a link to the more traditional cars. It was designed by Chris Lawrence who had a long standing relationship with Morgan and included many features of racing cars of the time. Items such as in-board shock absorbers, double wishbones all round, a flat floor, centre lock magnesium wheels, rose-jointed suspension and other elements were included providing significant handling improvements over previous models. Complete with a bespoke aluminium chassis, all independent suspension and powered by a 4.4 litre BMW V8 engine (M62TUB44) producing 286 bhp at 5500 rpm and 322 lbs-ft (430Nm) at 3750 rpm this was a radical departure from the traditionally built Morgans. Performance was 0 to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds with a top speed of 160 mph. The interior had a turned aluminium dashboard, unusual asymmetric design and a custom made Burberry case for use as a removable glovebox, along with nods to modern services such as cruise control, air-conditioning and a heated windscreen. With many elements from BMW including the engine, gearbox and axle to push 1100kgs the performance was on a par with Ferraris, Porsches, TVRs and other supercars of the day. Whilst the car did include an LSD the absence of other stability and traction aids mean the driver had total control over the car. Famous for its cross-eyed squint courtesy of the reversed VW Beetle headlamps, this was a culmination of both aerodynamic requirements and availability of light units at the time. Initially Porsche lights had been trialled along with the yet to be released new Mini units, the Mini lights were a favourite but BMW didn’t want the first model to launch their new headlights to be the Aero so these were not an option. Aerodynamically (extensive wind tunnel testing was carried out at MIRA – another Morgan first) Morgan needed a way to allow the leading edge of the front wings to be forward of the radiator, thus providing space to incorporate a front splitter. The VW Beetle headlamps were spotted by Chris Lawrence who invisaged reversing them to give the perfect angle to meet the aerodynamic requirements, and thus the cross-eyed look was born. Around 210 Series 1 cars were made with many smaller changes being made to the car over this period internally and externally. The Series 2 of the Aero 8 was launched at the 2004 Los Angeles Motor Show. This was the first Aero that was made for sale in North America. It was called the Aero Series 2 or Aero America as a result. The back of the car was changed in a number of ways. The petrol tank was repositioned to comply with US rear impact regulations. The boot lid was raised to improve aero-dynamics and storage. The previous folding roof was changed for a pram style changing the shape from the previous low “gangster” style roof of the Series 1. Now using the BMW V8 4.4L engine N62B44 333 bhp at 6,100 rpm and 331 lb-ft (450Nm) at 3,600 rpm using VarioCam on the inlet manifold. The factory offered single side exit exhausts as an option with the exit just in front of the rear wheels on each side. The new V8 provided a top speed of 160 mph with 0 to 62 mph acceleration in 4.8 seconds. Further revisions included a conversion to standard 5 stud wheels, uprated gearbox, brakes and other elements of the running gear. The car retained the same overall dimensions but internal space was increased by moving the doors further out and making the wings/running boards narrower over the Series 1. The unusual asymmetric dashboard of the Series 1 was replaced with a more conventionally styled dashboard however the fly-off handbrake was retained. Something in the region of 60 cars (both LHD and RHD) were produced. The third iteration of the Aero was largely around adding the new style Mini headlamps with changes to the wings and front panels resolving the famous squint of the earlier cars. It retained the interior and mechanical platform of the Series 2. This new front design went on to be used on the new AeroMax and subsequent Aero models. Version 4 of the Morgan Aero 8 saw the 3rd new engine in the life of the vehicle; the BMW 4.4 V8 has been replaced with the BMW 4.8 V8 (N62B48) with 362 bhp and 370 lb/ft of torque. This 13% power increase over the previous Aero gives the new Series 4 Aero 8 a power to weight ratio of 315bhp per tonne. A first for the Aero 8 also comes in the form of an optional automatic transmission; Morgan state: – ZFs 6 HP26 six speed gives even better performance than a manual gearbox due to its special lock up clutch, low power loss design and instant change characteristic. The automatic is usable either as a full automatic for more relaxed driving or in sport manual mode when the bespoke gear lever will hold the engine revs up to the maximum in each gear, increase change speed and blip the throttle to smooth down changes. In addition to these technical changes, a repositioned fuel tank (to improve the weight distribution), revised instrumentation (from cream dials with blue numerals to black with white), an increase in luggage space, revised air vents, a move to a conventional handbrake lever and air intakes and exits on the front wings distinguish the Series 4 Aero 8 from previous models. 179 of these were produced between 2007 and 2010.
Completing the display was the latest Three Wheeler. First referred to in 2011, and launched in production spec in 2012, has been a huge success for Morgan, and for a while the company simply could not build them fast enough. Relatively affordable, compared to the other products in the range, this fun machine has a 2 litre S&S engine coupled to an MX-5 gearbox, and a weight of 550 kg, which is enough to give it a top speed of around 115 mpg and a 0- 60 time of less than 5 seconds.
Although not many of the Datsun 240Z were sold in the UK, or indeed Europe, this car proved phenomenally popular in the US, and was really the beginning of the end for the British sports cars which American buyers had been buying in large quantities throughout the 1960s. Known internally as the Nissan S30, and sold in Japan as the Nissan Fairlady Z, the car we call the the Datsun 240Z, and the later 260Z and 280Z was the first generation of Z GT two-seat coupe, produced by Nissan from 1969 to 1978. It was designed by a team led by Yoshihiko Matsuo, the head of Nissan’s Sports Car Styling Studio. With strong performance from the 2.4 litre engine, and excellent ride and handling from the four-wheel independent suspension, the car was good to drive, In the United States, Datsun priced the 240Z within $200 of the MGB-GT, and dealers soon had long waiting lists for the “Z”. Its modern design, relatively low price, and growing dealer network compared to other imported sports cars of the time (Jaguar, BMW, Porsche, etc.), made it a major success for the Nissan Motor Corporation, which at the time sold cars in North America under the name Datsun. As a “halo” car, the 240Z broadened the image of Japanese car-makers beyond their econobox success. The car was updated to the 260Z in 1975, when a larger 2.6 litre engine was used.
Also here once again were some of the Super Samuri converted cars. They could not be called Samurai, for trademark reasons. Brainchild of Spike Anderson, the legendary proprietor of Samuri Conversions and the man responsible for a succession of Z-based racers in the 1970s, most notably Win Percy’s famous “Big Sam.”, the first 240Z that was adapted, FFA196L went on to become something of a motorsport legend. Spike purchased the car in 1973, for his personal transport, but the car did not remain standard for very long. What would turn out to be a lengthy and ongoing program of tuning commenced with gas-flowing the 2.4-litre, overhead-camshaft six’s cylinder head and raising the compression ratio, which was followed by ditching the standard carburettors in favour of triple Weber 4ODCOEs. Mangolesti supplied special inlet and exhaust manifolds, and in this specification, maximum power increased from 150 to 190 horsepower. Suspension improvements consisted of lowering the car by 40 mm and replacing the standard shock absorbers with Koni items. The weak braking was addressed by using ventilated discs and four-pot calipers from a Range Rover. Fitted with a deep front spoiler and refinished in distinctive red/bronze livery, Spike’s “Super Samuri” soon gained the attention of the motoring press. Various magazines tested the car and gave it rave reviews, typically achieving performance figures of 0–60 mph in 6.4 seconds and a top speed of 140 mph. FFA196L was pressed into service as the company demonstrator, and it was also used in competitions, contesting the 1973 British Hillclimb Championship. Despite competing against purpose-built lightweights, the Super Samuri finished 2nd in class at the season’s end, hinting at the 240Z’s potential. Keen to exploit it to the full, Spike acquired an ex-Works 240Z rally car, which he converted to full race specification. Christened “Big Sam” and driven by Win Percy, this legendary car went on to achieve considerable success. Scheduled to race in the 1974 Modsports Championship, “Big Sam” encountered problems on its Silverstone debut, forcing the team to fall back on “Super Samuri.” The car continued to serve as backup for “Big Sam” throughout the 1974 racing season, competing on no fewer than twelve occasions. Always driven to and from the meetings, it also doubled as a customer and press demonstrator, development hack and Spike’s own transport, covering 35,000 miles by the end of the year. “Super Samuri” competed in 14 Modsports races in 1978, finishing 2nd in class at the season’s end, a feat repeated in 1979, ‘80 and ‘81. Spike appears to have had an off year in 1982, as the 240Z could only manage 3rd. By now FFA196L had been driven more than 175,000 miles, competed in more than 60 races and 20 hillclimbs, and was featured in 15 magazine articles, making it arguably the best-known Japanese car in the UK. Neither of these cars were here, but there were three Super Samuri from the total of 62 road cars (and 75 altogether) that were built.
The 280ZX was successor to the 240Z and 260Z sports and marked a repositioning of the model to be more of a grand tourer. It was launched in the autumn of 1978 and reached Europe in the spring of 1979. The 280ZX was a complete redesign, retaining only the L28 inline-six engine and other driveline components from its predecessor. Both two-seat and four-seat (2+2) designs were offered. Compared to the more overtly sporting earlier models, the 280ZX was a much softer, heavier car, with less focus on driving and more on driver comfort and refinement. Softer suspension, better sound insulation, more comfortable seats, and ample equipment including high-end audio systems defined the new ZX. In the spirit of the times, emissions controls and aerodynamics were markedly improved over the first generation Z-cars, while weight was down somewhat as long as the buyer did not pick much from the very long options list. The exterior design was evolutionary, less rounded and with better integrated safety bumpers. Many parts, including the rear-axle and the power steering came from the Datsun 810 luxury sedan. Most of the design effort went into the entirely different and much more modern interior. It sold well in America, but found relatively little success in Europe. A replacement, the 300ZX, came in 1983, and this marked a return to a more sporting focus.
Completing the display were examples of the modern Z car, the 350Z and current 370Z.
Porsche Club GB had a large display, but they were yet another Club whose presence seemed smaller than it had been in previous years when literally hundreds of Porsche models were crammed into the allocated space.
Oldest of the cars in their display was a 356 Speedster. The 356 was created by Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche (son of Dr. Ing. Ferdinand Porsche, founder of the German company), who founded the Austrian company with his sister, Louise. Like its cousin, the Volkswagen Beetle (which Ferdinand Porsche Senior had designed), the 356 was a four-cylinder, air-cooled, rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive car utilising unitised pan and body construction. The chassis was a completely new design as was the 356’s body which was designed by Porsche employee Erwin Komenda, while certain mechanical components including the engine case and some suspension components were based on and initially sourced from Volkswagen. Ferry Porsche described the thinking behind the development of the 356 in an interview with the editor of Panorama, the PCA magazine, in September 1972. “….I had always driven very speedy cars. I had an Alfa Romeo, also a BMW and others. ….By the end of the war I had a Volkswagen Cabriolet with a supercharged engine and that was the basic idea. I saw that if you had enough power in a small car it is nicer to drive than if you have a big car which is also overpowered. And it is more fun. On this basic idea we started the first Porsche prototype. To make the car lighter, to have an engine with more horsepower…that was the first two seater that we built in Carinthia (Gmünd)”. The first 356 was road certified in Austria on June 8, 1948, and was entered in a race in Innsbruck where it won its class. Porsche re-engineered and refined the car with a focus on performance. Fewer and fewer parts were shared between Volkswagen and Porsche as the ’50’s progressed. The early 356 automobile bodies produced at Gmünd were handcrafted in aluminium, but when production moved to Zuffenhausen, Germany in 1950, models produced there were steel-bodied. Looking back, the aluminium bodied cars from that very small company are what we now would refer to as prototypes. Porsche contracted with Reutter to build the steel bodies and eventually bought the Reutter company in 1963. The Reutter company retained the seat manufacturing part of the business and changed its name to Recaro. Little noticed at its inception, mostly by a small number of auto racing enthusiasts, the first 356s sold primarily in Austria and Germany. It took Porsche two years, starting with the first prototype in 1948, to manufacture the first 50 automobiles. By the early 1950s the 356 had gained some renown among enthusiasts on both sides of the Atlantic for its aerodynamics, handling, and excellent build quality. The class win at Le Mans in 1951 was clearly a factor. It was always common for owners to race the car as well as drive them on the streets. They introduced the four-cam racing “Carrera” engine, a totally new design and unique to Porsche sports cars, in late 1954. Increasing success with its racing and road cars brought Porsche orders for over 10,000 units in 1964, and by the time 356 production ended in 1965 approximately 76,000 had been produced. The 356 was built in four distinct series, the original (“pre-A”), followed by the 356 A, 356 B, and then finally the 356 C. To distinguish among the major revisions of the model, 356’s are generally classified into a few major groups. 356 coupés and “cabriolets” (soft-top) built through 1955 are readily identifiable by their split (1948 to 1952) or bent (centre-creased, 1953 to 1955) windscreens. In late 1955 the 356 A appeared, with a curved windshield. The A was the first road going Porsche to offer the Carrera 4 cam engine as an option. In late 1959 the T5 356 B appeared; followed by the redesigned T6 series 356 B in 1962. The final version was the 356 C, little changed from the late T6 B cars but with disc brakes to replace the drums.
The vast majority of Porsche models here were 911 cars, of course, and there was quite a progression of these from the cars of the late 70s right up to the present day.
Standouts for me included a couple of 993 generation cars, a Turbo and the dramatic-looking Carrera RS. The 993 Turbo coupé was introduced in 1995. It featured a new twin-turbocharged engine displacing 3.6 litres and generating a maximum power output of 402 bhp. Air-to-air intercoolers, electronic engine management, redesigned cylinder heads and other modified engine internals completed the new engine. The 993 Turbo was the first 911 Turbo with all wheel drive, taken from the 959 flagship model. The Turbo’s bodywork differs from the Carrera by widened rear wheel arches (approximately 6 cm), redesigned front and rear bumper mouldings, and a fixed “whale tail” rear wing housing the intercoolers. New 18 in (460 mm) alloy wheels with hollow spokes were standard. The 993 Turbo was one of the first production cars in the world to have OBDII diagnostics system (the 3.8-litre and GT versions didn’t have that system, and the normally aspirated 993 variants didn’t get it until 1996 model year). The successors of the 993 Turbo since have had water-cooled heads. The car also had brakes that were larger than those on the base Carrera model. Throughout the production run of the Turbo, there were two distinct differences: the 1996 and the later model year cars. The Carrera RS is a lightweight variant of the Carrera. It features a naturally aspirated 3.8 litre engine generating a maximum power output of 296 bhp achieved by the use of lightweight forged pistons, dual oil coolers, big intake valves, Varioram variable-length intake manifold, a modified Bosch Motronic engine management system and lightened rocker arms. The 6-speed G50/31 manual gearbox with a short shifter used on the Carrera RS had modified gear ratios for the first three gears. The larger 322 mm cross drilled and ventilated discs brakes front and aft with four piston calipers were shared with the 911 Turbo and limited slip differential was included as standard equipment. The exterior is easily distinguishable from a normal Carrera by a large fixed rear wing, small front flaps and 3-piece 18 in aluminium wheels. The headlight washers were deleted for weight saving reasons. A seam welded body shell with an aluminium bonnet supported with a single strut was used along with thinner glass. On the interior, the rear seats were removed, and special racing seats along with spartan door cards were installed. Sound proofing was also reduced to a minimum. The suspension system used Bilstein dampers and the ride height was lowered for improved handling. Adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars and an under-bonnet strut-brace further increased handling. The final weight of the car amounted to be 1,280 kg (2,822 lb). The Carrera RS Clubsport (also referred to as the RSR or RSCS in some countries) was a track-oriented iteration of the Carrera RS with relatively limited road usability. The Clubsport came equipped with a welded roll cage. Certain comfort features such as carpets, power windows, air conditioning and radio were deleted. Exterior wise, it sports a larger rear wing and a deeper chin spoiler than the standard RS. The Carrera RS was produced in model years 1995 and 1996. It was street legal in European and many other countries around the world, but was not approved for export to the United States. Production amounted to 1,014 cars including 213 Clubsport variants.
Also here was a 991 generation Carrera T. This was announced in October 2017. The 911 Carrera T (Touring), offered the base Carrera drivetrain but with shorter rear axle ratio, mechanical differential lock, PASM Sport lowered suspension, Sport Chrono package and sports exhaust as standard. Additional features include a reduced sound insulation, light-weight glass side/rear windows, Sport-Tex seats, a shortened shift lever, deletion of the rear seats and communication system (with their re-addition available as a no-cost option), Carrera S wheels, as well as optional rear-wheel steering, PDK transmission and bucket seats.
There were also plenty of the regular 924 cars, in standard, 924 Turbo and 924S guises. 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 (29 kg) more, so front spring rates and anti-roll bars were revised. Weight distribution was now 49/51 compared to the original 924 figure of 48/52 front to rear. In order to help make the car more functional, as well as to distinguish it from the naturally aspirated version, Porsche added an NACA duct in the bonnet and air intakes in the badge panel in the nose, 15-inch spoke-style alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with five-stud hubs and a five-speed transmission. Forged 16-inch flat wheels of the style used on the 928 were optional, but fitment specification was that of the 911 which the 924 shared wheel offsets with. Internally, Porsche called it the “931” (left hand drive) and “932” (right hand drive). The turbocharged VW EA831 engine allowed the 924’s performance to come surprisingly close to that of the 911 SC (180 bhp), thanks in part to a lighter curb weight, but it also brought reliability problems.This was in part due to the fact that the general public did not know how to operate, or care for, what is by today’s standards a primitive turbo setup. A turbocharger cooled only by engine oil led to short component life and turbo-related seal and seat problems. To fix the problems, Porsche released a revised 924 turbo series 2 (although badging still read “924 turbo”) in 1979. By using a smaller turbocharger running at increased boost, slightly higher compression of 8:1 and an improved fuel injection system with DITC ignition triggered by the flywheel, reliability improved and power rose to 177 hp. In 1984, VW decided to stop manufacturing the engine blocks used in the 2.0 litre 924, leaving Porsche with a predicament. The 924 was considerably cheaper than its 944 stablemate, and dropping the model left Porsche without an affordable entry-level option. The decision was made to equip the narrower bodied 924 with a slightly detuned version of the 944’s 163 bhp 2.5 litre straight four, upgrading the suspension but retaining the 924’s early interior. The result was 1986’s 150 bhp 924S. In 1988, the 924S’ final year of production, power increased to 160 bhp matching that of the previous year’s Le Mans spec cars and the base model 944, itself detuned by 3 bhp. This was achieved using different pistons which raised the S’ compression ratio from 9.7:1 to 10.2:1, the knock-on effect being an increase in the octane rating, up from 91 RON to 95. This made the 924S slightly faster than the base 944 due to its lighter weight and more aerodynamic body. With unfavourable exchange rates in the late 1980s, Porsche decided to focus its efforts on its more upmarket models, dropping the 924S for 1989 and the base 944 later that same year.
There were several 944 models here, too. 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.
There were several examples of the successor 968 here, too.
There were also plenty of examples of the larger and long-running 928 model. The first V8 engined Porsche, it was originally conceived to replace the 911, though as we all know, that did not happen, with the two complementing each other in the range during the 18 year life of the 928. By the late 1960s, Porsche had changed significantly as a company, and executives including owner Ferdinand Porsche were toying with the idea of adding a luxury touring car to the line-up. Managing Director Ernst Fuhrmann was also pressuring Ferdinand to approve development of the new model in light of concerns that the current flagship model at the time, the 911, was quickly reaching the limits of its potential. Slumping sales of the 911 seemed to confirm that the model was approaching the end of its economic life cycle. Fuhrmann envisioned the new range-topping model as being the best possible combination of a sports coupe and a luxury sedan, something well equipped and comfortable enough to be easily driven over long distances that also had the power, poise and handling prowess necessary to be driven like a sports car. This set it apart from the 911, which was intended to be an out-and-out sports car. Ordered by Ferdinand Porsche to come up with a production-feasible concept for his new model, Fuhrmann initiated a design study in 1971, eventually taking from the process the final specification for the 928. Several drivetrain layouts were considered during early development, including rear and mid-engined designs, but most were dismissed because of technical and/or legislative difficulties. Having the engine, transmission, catalytic converter(s) and exhaust all cramped into a small rear engine bay made emission and noise control more difficult, something Porsche was already facing problems with on the 911 and wanted to avoid. After deciding that the mid-engine layout didn’t allow enough room in the passenger compartment, a front engine/rear wheel drive layout was chosen. Porsche also may have feared that the U.S. government would soon ban the sale of rear-engined cars in response to the consumer concern over safety problems with the rear-engined Chevrolet Corvair. Porsche engineers wanted a large-displacement engine to power the 928, and prototype units were built with a 5-litre V8 producing close to 300 hp. Ferdinand Piëch wanted this car to use a 4.6-litre V10 based upon Audi’s five-cylinder engine. Several members of the Porsche board objected, chiefly because they wished for Porsche AG to maintain some separation from Volkswagen. The first two running prototypes of Porsche’s M28 V8 used one four-barrel carburettor, but this was just for initial testing. The cars were sold with the planned Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system. When increasing concern within the company over the pricing and availability of fuel during the oil crisis of the 1970s became an issue of contention, smaller engines were considered in the interest of fuel economy. A push began for the development of a 3.3 litre 180 hp powerplant they had drawn up designs for, but company engineers balked at this suggestion. Both sides finally settled on a 4.5 litre SOHC per bank 16-valve V8 producing 240 PS which they considered to have an acceptable compromise of performance and fuel economy. The finished car debuted at the 1977 Geneva Motor Show, going on sale later that year. Although it won early acclaim for its comfort and power, sales were slow. Base prices were much higher than that of the 911 model and the 928’s front-engined, water-cooled design put off many Porsche purists, not least because the design marked a major change in direction for Porsche started with the introduction of the Porsche 924 in 1976 which purists found hard to accept. Porsche utilised a transaxle in the 928 to help achieve 50/50 front/rear weight distribution, aiding the car’s balance. Although it weighed more than the difficult-to-handle 911, its more neutral weight balance and higher power output gave it similar performance on the track. The 928 was regarded as the more relaxing car to drive at the time. It came with either a five-speed dog leg manual transmission, or a Mercedes-Benz-derived automatic transmission, originally with three speeds, with four-speed from 1983 in North America and 1984 in other markets. More than 80% had the automatic transmission. Exact percentage of manual gearbox cars for entire production run is not known but it is believed to be between 15 and 20%. The body, styled by Wolfgang Möbius under guidance of Anatole Lapine, was mainly galvanised steel, but the doors, front fenders, and hood were aluminium in order to make the car more lightweight. It had a substantial luggage area accessed via a large hatchback. The new polyurethane elastic bumpers were integrated into the nose and tail and covered in body-coloured plastic; an unusual feature for the time that aided the car visually and reduced its drag. Porsche opted not to offer a convertible variant but several aftermarket modifiers offered convertible conversions, most notably Carelli, based in Orange County, CA. The Carelli conversions were sold as complete cars, with the conversion doubling the price of the car. A reported 12 units were made. The 928 qualified as a 2+2, having two small seats in the rear. Both rear seats could be folded down to enlarge the luggage area, and both the front and rear seats had sun visors for occupants. The rear seats are small (due to the prominent transmission hump) and have very little leg room; they are only suitable for adults on very short trips or children. The 928 was also the first vehicle in which the instrument cluster moved along with the adjustable steering wheel in order to maintain maximum instrument visibility. The 928 included several other innovations such as the “Weissach Axle”, a simple rear-wheel steering system that provides passive rear-wheel steering to increase stability while braking during a turn, and an unsleeved, silicon alloy engine block made of aluminium, which reduced weight and provided a highly durable cylinder bore. Porsche’s design and development efforts paid off during the 1978 European Car of the Year, where the 928 won ahead of the BMW 7 Series, and the Ford Granada. The 928 is the only sports car ever to have won this competition, which is regarded as proof of how advanced the 928 was, compared to its contemporaries. Porsche introduced a refreshed 928 S into the European market in 1980 model year. Externally, the S wore new front and rear spoilers and sported wider wheels and tyres than the older variant, but the main change for the 928 S was under the bonnet where a revised 4.7 litre engine was used. European versions debuted with 300 PS, and were upgraded to 310 PS for 1984, though it is rumoured that they typically made around 330 hp. From 1984 to 1986, the S model was called S2 in UK. These cars used Bosch LH-Jetronic fuel injection and purely electronic Bosch ignition, the same systems used on the later 32-valve cars, though without the pollution controls. North American-spec 1983 and 1984 S models used, among other differences, smaller valves, milder camshafts, smaller diameter intake manifolds, and additional pollution equipment in order to meet emissions regulations, and were limited to 234 hp as a result. Due to low grade fuel 16V low compression S engine was made for Australian market in 1985 model year. It had 9.3:1 compression ratio pistons instead of normal 10.4:1 but used same large intake, high lift cams, large valves etc. of other S engines. In 1982, two special models were available for different markets. 202 “Weissach Edition” cars were sold in North America. Unusual features were champagne gold metallic paint, matching brushed gold flat disc wheels, two-tone leather interior, a plaque containing the production number on the dash and the extremely collectible three-piece Porsche luggage set. It’s believed these cars were not made with S spoilers even though these were available in U.S. during this time period as part of the “Competition Group” option. The “Weissach Edition” option was also available for the US market 911 in 1980 model year and 924 in 1981 model year. 141 special “50th Jubilee” 928 S models were available outside the U.S. and Canada to celebrate the company’s 50-year existence as a car manufacturer. This model is also sometimes referred to as the “Ferry Porsche Edition” because his signature was embroidered into the front seats. It was painted meteor metallic and fitted with flat disc wheels, wine red leather and special striped fabric seat centres. Similar 911 and 924 specials were also made for world markets. Porsche updated the North American 928 S for 1985, replacing the 4.7 litre SOHC engine with a new 5.0 litre DOHC unit sporting four valves per cylinder and producing 288 hp. Seats were also updated to a new style, these cars are sometimes unofficially called S3 to distinguish them from 16-valve “S” models. European models kept a 4.7 litre engine, which was somewhat more powerful as standard, though lower 9.3:1 compression 32-valve engine together with catalytic converters became an option in some European countries and Australia for 1986. In 1986, revised suspension settings, larger brakes with 4-piston calipers and modified exhaust was installed on the 928S, marking the final changes to old body style cars. These were straight from the 928S4, which was slated to debut a few months later. These changes came starting from VIN 1001, which means that the first thousand ’86’s had the old brakes, but later cars had the later systems. This later 1986 model is sometimes referred to as a 19861⁄2 or 1986.5 because of these changes. The name is a little misleading as more than 3/4 of the 1986 production had these updates. The 928 S4 variant debuted in the second half of 1986 with an updated version of the 5.0 litre V8 producing 320 PS, sporting a new single-disc clutch in manual gearbox cars, larger torque converter in automatics and fairly significant styling updates which gave the car a cleaner, sleeker look. S4 was much closer to being a truly world car than previous models as only major differences for North American models were instrumentation in either kilometers or miles, lighting, front and rear bumper shocks and the availability of catalytic converters in many other markets. The Australian market version was only one with different horsepower rating at 300 PS due to preparation for possible low grade fuel. Even this was achieved without engine changes. A Club Sport variant which was up to 100 kg (220 lb) lighter became available to continental Europe and U.S. in 1988. This model was watered down version of the 1987 factory prototype which had a lightened body. Also in 1987 the factory made four white lightened manual gearbox S4 models for racecar drivers who were on their payroll at the time. These were close to same as later actual Club Sport models and can also be considered prototypes for it. An SE (sometimes called the S4 Sport due to model designation on rear bumper), a sort of halfway point between a normally equipped S4 and the more race-oriented Club Sport, became available to the UK. It’s generally believed these Porsche Motorsport-engined cars have more hp than the S4. They utilise parts which later became known as GT pistons, cams and engine ECU programs. Some of them had stronger, short geared manual gearbox. The automatic gearbox was not available. For the 1989 model year, a visible change inside was digital trip computer in dashboard. At the same time Australian models received the same 320 PS engine management setup as other markets. Porsche debuted the 928 GT in the late winter 1988/89 after dropping the slowly selling CS and SE. In terms of equipment, the GT was like the 928 SE, having more equipment than a Club Sport model but less than a 928 S4 to keep the weight down somewhat. It had the ZF 40% limited-slip differential as standard like the Club Sport and SE before it. Also like the CS and SE, the GT was only available with a manual gearbox. European 1989 CS and GT wheels had an RDK tyre pressure monitoring system as standard, which was also optional for the same year S4. For 1990 model year Porsche made RDK and a 0-100% variable ratio limited-slip called PSD (Porsche SperrDifferential) standard in both GT and S4 models for all markets. This system is much like the one from the 959 and gives the vehicle even more grip. In 1990 the S4 was no longer available with a manual gearbox. The S4 and GT variants were both cut at the end of 1991 model year, making way for the final version of the 928. The 928 GTS came for sale in late 1991. Changed bodywork, larger front brakes and a new, more powerful 5.4 litre 350 PS engine were the big advertised changes; what Porsche wasn’t advertising was the price. Loaded GTS models could eclipse US$100,000 in 1995, making them among the most expensive cars on the road at the time. This severely hampered sales despite the model’s high competency and long standard equipment list. Porsche discontinued the GTS model that year after shipping only 77 of them to the United States. Total worldwide production of 928s over an 18 year period was a little over 61,000 cars. Second-hand models’ value decreased as a result of generally high maintenance costs due largely to spare parts that are expensive to manufacture, with the result that there are fewer survivors than you might expect, though with values hardening, people are now spending the money required to restore these cars.
The Cayman R made its world debut at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show on 17 November 2010. Based on the Cayman S, it featured the Porsche OEM aerokit that was first introduced in 2007 as a factory option, 19 inch lightweight wheels inherited from the Boxster Spyder, lighter aluminium doors from 997 911 GT3, lighter fibreglass bucket seats with carbon fibre backing from the 997 911 GT2, and with the removal of the radio, storage compartments, air-conditioning, and door handles which meant that the Cayman R weighed in at 54.8 kilograms (121 lb) less than a Cayman S. The Cayman R also received various cosmetic changes similar to ones seen on the earlier Cayman S Sport, such decals on the doors, instrument cover delete, gloss black painted mirrors, black model designation emblem on the trunk, as well as black painted wheels. With the new passive sports suspensions, the Cayman R was 10 mm (0.4 in) lower than a Cayman S equipped with PASM, or 20 mm (0.8 in) lower than one equipped with standard passive suspension. The engine was a 3.4-litre flat six Direct Fuel Injection DFI boxer engine that produced 330 hp. The standard Cayman R can achieve 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds, and with the optional 7-speed PDK dual clutch transmission and the Sport Chrono package, it can achieve 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds. The Cayman R with the manual transmission can reach the top speed of 175 mph and 174 mph with the PDK.
The Cayman GT4, much rumoured for some time, was officially launched at the 2015 Geneva Show, positioned to sit between the Cayman GTS and the 911 GT3. By the time of the official unveiling, the car was supposedly sold out many times over, though more recently it has become apparent that at least some Porsche dealers have been holding onto cars claiming that the first purchaser changed their mind, and then offering them to those who did not get one of the allocation a year ago, at vastly inflated prices. If true, this is very sharp practice indeed, but seems to be the sort to tricks that are becoming increasingly common as enthusiasts are being fleeced in the name of extra profit. For a starting price of around £65,000 in the UK, the lucky customer would get a car which used used a stiffened and strengthened Cayman bodyshell as a starting point, but lowered by 30mm . Porsche say that in fitting as many GT parts as possible, they did not make it out of a Cayman GTS, but rather they produced an entry-level mid-engined GT3 car. That sounds like PR spin to me, as of course the car does use an awful lot of parts from the regular Cayman. However, plenty is changed, too. There is a reworked version of the Carrera S’s 3.8-litre flat six engine, producing 380bhp at 7400rpm and 310lb ft at 4750-6000rpm, hooked up to a modified version of the Cayman GTS’s six-speed manual gearbox. A PDK dual-clutch automatic was considered but rejected, meaning the Cayman GT4 is manual only. This is enough to mean that the 0-62mph sprint takes 4.4sec and the top speed is 183mph, with combined fuel economy of 27.4mpg and CO2 emissions rated at 238g/km. The front axle and suspension are borrowed from the 911 GT3 and the rear axle and forged aluminium double wishbone suspension are completely new. Dampers are taken from the 911 GT3. The electric steering system from the 911 GT3 does make it onto the Cayman GT4 but is given new software. Stopping power is provided by standard steel brakes, or optional carbon-ceramics from the 911 GT3. The forged 20in alloy wheels were new and are shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. The rear 295/30 ZR20 tyres are bespoke, but the front 245/35 ZR20s were borrowed from the 911 GT3 as they were “a perfect match”. design-wise, the goal was to create a “zero lift car”, but thanks to the extensive aerodynamic and cooling package on the car – which includes a front splitter, a larger front grille and increased frontal air intakes, side air intakes, not one but two rear spoilers and a fully functional diffuser – the Cayman GT4 produces as much downforce at speed (100kg) as the 911 GT3. Every single part on the Cayman GT4 has a functional use. Other design features include “cool” black glass on the front and rear lights, blackened twin central exhausts and quality stitching on the twin lightweight bucket seats, taken from the 918 Spyder, as small details adding to that ‘want factor’.Despite all the extra equipment, the Cayman GT4 weighs no more than a Cayman GTS, tipping the scales at 1340kg dry. You could delete items such as the sat-nav and air-con to save weight, but few customers did, just as with the 911 GT3 RS were just 2% of buyers deleted the air-con. Inside, the steering wheel was new. The sports seats were trimmed in both leather and Alcantara. Standard equipment included bi-xenon headlights, a sports exhaust system, a Sport Chrono Package with dynamic engine mounts, the Porsche Torque Vectoring system, a mechanical limited-slip differential at the rear and the Porsche Stability Management system. On the options list were items such as carbonfibre-reinforced, plastic-backed seats for the two-seat interior. These weigh just 15kg each and were inspired by the 918 Spyder. A customised version of the Sport Chrono Package was offered, as is a Club Sport Package. With production limited – each Porsche Centre in the UK was allocated just 10 cars – the car sold out long before any reviews were published, but when they came, it was quite clear that Porsche had produced an absolutely cracking car. Anyone who managed to get one, and UK deliveries were a long time coming, was very lucky indeed.
Porsche revealed the latest Boxster Spyder based on the 981 Boxster in April 2015 at the New York Auto Show. The styling of the car is similar to the previous generation Spyder, continuing the twin hump rear deck and manually operated canvas top. It also shares some styling with the Cayman GT4, using the same front and rear fascia. The engine is also shared with the Cayman GT4, a 3.8 litre flat-6, making this the largest and most powerful engine used in a Boxster with 385 bhp. It was the lightest Porsche, weighing 1,315 kilograms (2,899 lb). This was achieved through the use of aluminium doors and rear boot lid, a manually operated roof and unique lightweight 20 inch wheels. The air conditioning and audio system were also removed, although they can be added as no cost options. Braking is via larger brakes than used on the Boxster S, being 340mm front and 330mm rear units taken from the 911 Carrera S. Also shared with the GT4 is a limited slip differential combined with Porsche Torque Vectoring and features a 20mm lower ride height. Additionally it also borrows the steering rack from the 911 Turbo S along with the same reduced diameter GT steering wheel as used in both the GT3 and GT4. The Boxster Spyder was only available with a 6 speed manual transmission. The Spyder had a base price of US$82,100 and was only available as a 2016 model with a total worldwide production of 2400 units, with 850 destined for the US.
Oldest of a much smaller number of classic Renault models than previous years was this NN Tourer, sometimes referred to as the 6CV. Powered by a 4-cylinder 951cc engine, the NN was first presented at the 1924 Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris as the successor for Renault Type KJ and Type MT. It was in effect a lengthened version of the MT, with an extra 200 mm of wheelbase, and the addition of front-wheel brakes. The exterior design was very simple and family-oriented. Renault at this stage still positioned the radiator behind the engine, which meant that there was no grille at the front, but there were prominent “gills” on the sides of the bonnet for cooling purposes. The car reached 60 km/h (37 mph) and 150,000 cars were sold. The NN2 was introduced in 1929, a larger and heavier car. The car was replaced by the Renault Monasix, though this was a larger car and was powered by a (small) 6-cylinder engine. It was only in 1937 that the manufacturer launched a replacement model in the 6 CV class, the Juvaquatre.
The R12 Gordini was never officially sold in the UK. Launched in 1970, a year after the regular saloon model, the Gordini was equipped with the all-aluminium 1565 cc block from the R16 TS fitted with two double-barrel Weber carburettors producing 123 hp, a reinforced crankshaft, a five speed gearbox, ventilated disc brakes on the front wheels and normal disc brakes on the rear wheels, as well as a tuned suspension. The Gordini was able to reach 115 mph and was sold with paint schemes comprising a solid pastel colour (there were several to choose from) with double white stripes added on, the most famous combination being French Blue with stripes, as seen here. 2225 Renault 12 Gordinis were sold in 1971 but after that sales began a free fall. Renault stopped production of the Gordini in 1974 after 5188 had been sold.
Final Renault here was a Twingo RS133, the sporting version of the second generation Twingo city car which was launched in early 2008 and was produced until 2013. It developed 133 bhp from its 1.6 litre petrol engine. Although quite well received by the press at launch, it never really found much favour in the market.
A reduced presence by the Renault-Alpine Owners on the day I attended meant that the only car I spotted here was a 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. Conceptually a modernisation of the design of its predecessor, the Alpine A310, that car’s silhouette was updated 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 the UK, it was sold simply as the Renault GTA, as Sunbeam (and then Chrysler/Talbot) had been using the “Alpine” badge since the 1950s. 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 capacity 2.5 litre turbocharged model. The central backbone chassis 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, but this soon dropped considerably, as the somewhat less than prestigious Renault had a hard time in the sports car marketplace. 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 catalyzed 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 catalyzed. In response Danielson SA, a famous French tuner, created an upgraded version of the Le Mans with 210 PS.
Sole Sunbeam I saw this year was this rather nice Alpine. Launched in 1959, the Alpine was aimed directly at the MGA. Lacking perhaps the sporting pedigree of the MG, even though the Alpine name was taken from the previous car to bear the name, an open -topped version of the Sunbeam-Talbot 90, which had enjoyed considerable success in motor-sports including the Monaco Rally, the car never really achieved the same sale success as the rival Abingdon product. The first cars, such as this Series 1, sported rather sizeable tail fins, but these ere quickly toned down as part of the annual revisions that Rootes Group made to their cars. The Alpine was produced until late 1967 and is an interesting alternative to the MGA and MGB. There was a late model 1725 here.
The 1800 Roadster, model number 18TR, was designed in the closing days of World War II. Triumph had been bought by the Standard Motor Company in 1944, and the managing director of Standard, Sir John Black, wanted a sports car to take on Jaguar, who had used Standard engines in the pre-war period. Frank Callaby was selected to style the new car. After getting Black’s approval for the general shape, Callaby worked with Arthur Ballard to design the details of the body. Design of the rolling chassis was by Ray Turner. Walter Belgrove, who had styled the pre-war Triumphs and was employed as Chief Body Engineer, had no part in the design. Early post-war steel shortages meant that the body was built from aluminium, using rubber press tools that had been used making panels for the largely wooden bodied Mosquito bomber that had been built by Standard during the war. The frame was hand welded up from steel tube. The engine was a version of Standard’s 1.5-litre, four-cylinder side-valve design that had been converted to overhead valves by Harry Weslake and built by Standard exclusively for SS-Jaguar before World War II. The Triumph version differed from the Jaguar version in having a 6.7:1 compression ratio instead of the Jaguar’s 7.6:1 and a downdraught Solex carburettor instead of the Jaguar’s side-draught SU. A four-speed gearbox with synchromesh on the top three ratios was used. The tubular steel chassis was a short-wheelbase version of the 1800 saloon, featuring transverse leaf sprung independent suspension at the front and a live axle with semi-elliptic springs at the rear. The rear track was wider than the front by some 4 inches. Brakes were hydraulic. The body design was anachronistic. A journalist old enough to remember the pre-war Dolomite Roadster that had inspired the car felt that the elegant proportions of the earlier model had been abandoned in favour of a committee-based compromise, “a plump Christmas turkey to set against that dainty peacock … [more] Toadster [than Roadster]”. The front had large separate headlamps and the radiator was well back from the front between large “coal scuttle” wings. Passenger accommodation was on a bench seat that was claimed to seat three: the car’s 64 inch width helped make a reality of the three-abreast seating, and the approach meant a column gear change was required. The car’s unusual width also made it necessary to fit three screen wipers in a row, an example followed by early shallow windscreen Jaguar E Types. Additional room for two was provided at the rear in a dickey seat with its own folding windscreen: this was outside the hood that could be erected to cover the front seat. Entry and exit to the dickey seat was never easy and a step was provided on the rear bumper. The Roadster was the last production car with a dickey seat. The actor, John Nettles, drove a red 1947 Triumph Roadster 1800 in the 1980s television series, Bergerac. Two cars were actually used over the duration of the series production. This was made evident by the colour difference of the front mudguards and body without hood ornament on one car used in the earlier series and the same colour front mudguards and body with the hood ornament on the other car used in later series. The same number plate J 1610 was used on both cars in the series. In some episodes both cars appeared purporting to be the same car. The only significant update in the Roadster’s production came in September 1948 for the 1949 models, when the 2088 cc Vanguard engine, transmission, and rear axle were fitted. A retrograde step was the fitting of a three-speed gearbox even though it now had synchromesh on bottom gear. Apart from minor modifications to the mounting points, the chassis, suspension and steering were unaltered. This later version of the Roadster was given the model designation TRA. The car was never made in large numbers and was mainly hand built. 2501 examples of the 1800 and 2000 of the larger-engined version were made. Production ended in October 1949.
The TR Register is another Club that always has a very significant presence here, and this year was no exception. Examples of this much loved sports car ranging from some of the early cars to the very last ones, spanning over 25 years of production were all here, packed into quite a compact area.
Oldest present were a couple of TR3 models. Launched in 1955, the TR3 was an evolution of the TR2 and not a brand new model. It was powered by a 1991 cc straight-4 OHV engine initially producing 95 bhp, an increase of 5 hp over the TR2 thanks to the larger SU-H6 carburettors fitted. This was later increased to 100 bhp at 5000 rpm by the addition of a “high port” cylinder head and enlarged manifold. The four-speed manual gearbox could be supplemented by an overdrive unit on the top three ratios, electrically operated and controlled by a switch on the dashboard. In 1956 the front brakes were changed from drums to discs, the TR3 thus becoming the first British series production car to be so fitted. The TR3 was updated in 1957, with various changes of which the full width radiator grille is the easiest recognition point and the facelifted model is commonly referred to as the Triumph “TR3A”, though unlike the later TR4 series, where the “A” suffix was adopted, the cars were not badged as such and the “TR3A” name was not used officially, Other updates included exterior door handles, a lockable boot handle and the car came with a full tool kit as standard (this was an option on the TR3). The total production run of the “TR3A” was 58,236. This makes it the third best-selling TR after the TR6 and TR7. The TR3A was so successful that the original panel moulds eventually wore out and had to be replaced. In 1959 a slightly modified version came out that had raised stampings under the bonnet and boot hinges and under the door handles, as well as a redesigned rear floor section. In addition, the windscreen was attached with bolts rather than the Dzus connectors used on the early “A” models. Partly because it was produced for less time, the original TR3 sold 13,377 examples, of which 1286 were sold within the UK; the rest being exported mainly to the USA.
Also here was the TR4. Successor to the TR3a, and code named “Zest” during development, the TR4 was based on the chassis and drivetrain of the previous TR sports cars, but with a modern Michelotti styled body. The TR 4 engine was carried over from the earlier TR2/3 models, but the displacement was increased from 1991cc to 2138 cc by increasing the bore size. Gradual improvements in the manifolds and cylinder head allowed for some improvements culminating in the TR4A model. The 1991 cc engine became a no-cost option for those cars destined to race in the under-two-litre classes of the day. Some cars were fitted with vane-type superchargers, as the three main bearing engine was liable to crankshaft failure if revved beyond 6,500 rpm; superchargers allowed a TR4 to produce much more horse-power and torque at relatively modest revolutions. The standard engine produced 105 bhp but, supercharged and otherwise performance-tuned, a 2.2-litre I4 version could produce in excess of 200 bhp at the flywheel. The TR4, in common with its predecessors, was fitted with a wet-sleeve engine, so that for competition use the engine’s cubic capacity could be changed by swapping the cylinder liners and pistons, allowing a competitor to race under different capacity rules (i.e. below or above 2 litres for example). Other key improvements over the TR3 included a wider track front and rear, slightly larger standard engine displacement, full synchromesh on all forward gears, and rack and pinion steering. In addition, the optional Laycock de Normanville electrically operated overdrive Laycock Overdrive could now be selected for 2nd and 3rd gear as well as 4th, effectively providing the TR4 with a seven-speed manual close ratio gearbox. The TR4 was originally fitted with 15×4.5″ disc wheels. Optional 48-lace wire wheels could be ordered painted the same colour as the car’s bodywork (rare), stove-enamelled (matte silver with chrome spinners, most common) or in matte or polished chrome finishes (originally rare, but now more commonly fitted). The most typical tyre originally fitted was 590-15 bias ply or optional radial tires. In the US at one point, American Racing alloy (magnesium and aluminium) wheels were offered as an option, in 15×5.5″ or 15×6″ size. Tyres were a problem for original owners who opted for 60-spoke wire wheels, as the correct size radial-ply tyre for the factory rims was 155-15, an odd-sized tyre at the time only available from Michelin at considerable expense. Some original TR4 sales literature says the original radial size was 165-15. The much more common 185-15 radials were too wide to be fitted safely. As a result, many owners had new and wider rims fitted and their wheels re-laced. The new TR4 body style did away with the classical cutaway door design of the previous TRs to allow for wind-down windows (in place of less convenient side-curtains), and the angular rear allowed a boot with considerable capacity for a sports car. Advanced features included the use of adjustable fascia ventilation, and the option of a unique hard top that consisted of a fixed glass rear window (called a backlight) with an integral rollbar and a detachable, steel centre panel (aluminium for the first 500 units). This was the first such roof system on a production car and preceded by 5 years the Porsche 911/912 Targa, which has since become a generic name for this style of top. On the TR4 the rigid roof panel was replaceable with an easily folded and stowed vinyl insert and supporting frame called a Surrey Top. The entire hard top assembly is often mistakenly referred to as a Surrey Top. In original factory parts catalogues the rigid top and backlight assembly is listed as the Hard Top kit. The vinyl insert and frame are offered separately as a Surrey Top. Features such as wind-down windows were seen as a necessary step forward to meet competition and achieve good sales in the important US market, where the vast majority of TR4s were eventually sold. Dealers had concerns that buyers might not fully appreciate the new amenities, therefore a special short run of TR3As (commonly called TR3Bs) was produced in 1961 and ’62. The TR4 proved very successful and continued the rugged, “hairy-chested” image that the previous TRs had enjoyed. 40,253 cars were built during production years. Most were sold new to the US, but plenty have returned, and it is estimated that there are not far short of 900 examples of the model in the UK at present.
Replacement for the TR4 was – predictably – the Triumph TR5, which was built for a 13-month period between August 1967 and September 1968. Visually identical to the Michelotti styled TR4,the TR5 hid the main differences under the body. The most significant change from the TR4 was the 2.5-litre straight-6 fuel-injected engine, developing around 145 hp, and which was carried forward to the TR6. At the time, fuel injection (or PI petrol injection, as it was sometimes then called) was uncommon in road cars. Triumph claimed in their sales brochure that it was the “First British production sports car with petrol injection”. Sadly, it was also somewhat troublesome, with mechanical issues a common occurrence. A carburetted version of the TR5 named Triumph TR250 was manufactured during the same period, to be sold in place of the fuel injected car on the North American market. A few of these have now been brought over to the UK and indeed there were both TR250 and TR5 cars here. The Triumph TR250, built during the same period for the North American market, was nearly identical to the TR5. But, because of price pressures and emission regulations the TR250 was fitted with twin Zenith-Stromberg carburettors rather than the Lucas fuel injection system. The reasons for this difference came down to price pressures of the American market, and tighter emissions regulations. The TR250’s straight-six engine delivered 111 bhp , 39 bhp less than the TR5; 0–60 mph acceleration took 10.6 seconds. Standard equipment on both models included front disc brakes, independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering and a four speed gearbox. Optional extras included overdrive and wire wheels. Both the TR5 and the TR250 were available with the “Surrey Top” hard top system: a weather protection system with rigid rear section including the rear window and removable fabric section over the driver and passenger’s heads.
Next up was the TR6, the first Triumph for some time not to have been styled by Michelotti. By the mid 1960s, money was tight, so when it came to replacing the TR4 and TR5 models, Triumph were forced into trying to minimise the costs of the redesign, which meant that they kept the central section of the old car, but came up with new bodywork with the front and back ends were squared off, reportedly based on a consultancy contract involving Karmann. The resulting design, which did look modern when it was unveiled in January 1969 has what is referred to as a Kamm tail, which was very common during 1970s era of cars and a feature on most Triumphs of the era. All TR6 models featured inline six-cylinder engines. For the US market the engine was carburetted, as had been the case for the US-only TR250 engine. Like the TR5, the TR6 was fuel-injected for other world markets including the United Kingdom, hence the TR6PI (petrol-injection) designation. The Lucas mechanical fuel injection system helped the home-market TR6 produce 150 bhp at model introduction. Later, the non-US TR6 variant was detuned to 125 bhp for it to be easier to drive, while the US variant continued to be carburetted with a mere 104 hp. Sadly, the Lucas injection system proved somewhat troublesome, somewhat denting the appeal of the car. The TR6 featured a four-speed manual transmission. An optional overdrive unit was a desirable feature because it gave drivers close gearing for aggressive driving with an electrically switched overdrive which could operate on second, third, and fourth gears on early models and third and fourth on later models because of constant gearbox failures in second at high revs. Both provided “long legs” for open motorways. TR6 also featured semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering, 15-inch wheels and tyres, pile carpet on floors and trunk/boot, bucket seats, and a full complement of instrumentation. Braking was accomplished by disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear. A factory steel hardtop was optional, requiring two people to fit it. TR6 construction was fundamentally old-fashioned: the body was bolted onto a frame instead of the two being integrated into a unibody structure; the TR6 dashboard was wooden (plywood with veneer). Other factory options included a rear anti-roll bar and a limited-slip differential. Some say that the car is one of Leyland’s best achievements, but a number of issues were present and remain because of poor design. As well as the fuel injection problems, other issues include a low level radiator top-up bottle and a poor hand-brake. As is the case with other cars of the era, the TR6 can suffer from rust issues, although surviving examples tend to be well-cared for. The TR6 can be prone to overheating. Many owners fit an aftermarket electric radiator fan to supplement or replace the original engine-driven fan. Also the Leyland factory option of an oil cooler existed. Despite the reliability woes, the car proved popular, selling in greater quantity than any previous TR, with 94,619 of them produced before production ended in mid 1976. Of these, 86,249 were exported and only 8,370 were sold in the UK. A significant number have since been re-imported, as there are nearly 3000 of these much loved classics on the road and a further 1300 on SORN, helped by the fact that parts and services to support ownership of a TR6 are readily available and a number of classic car owners’ clubs cater for the model.
What turned out to be the final TR model was launched in January 1975, and this time it really was all new. A dramatic Harris Mann wedge shaped was shock enough for the purists, but the fact that at launch it only came as a Fixed Head Coupe was almost too much for some to bear. In the end, though. more TR7s were sold than any other TR model, so it really cannot have been all that bad even if the car had a somewhat bumpy existence, moving production plant from Speke, Liverpool where the early cars were made, to Canley, Coventry in 1978 and then finally to the Rover Solihull plant in 1980. An open topped model did join the range in 1980 and small numbers of factory built TR8s with the 135 bhp Rover V8 engine under the bonnet were made, but the proposed 2+2 Lynx model, and a version with the 16 valve Dolomite Sprint engine and the 2 litre O Series unit never made production. The car was launched in the United States in January 1975, with its UK home market debut in May 1976. The UK launch was delayed at least twice because of high demand for the vehicle in the US, with final sales of new TR7s continuing into 1982. The TR7 was characterised by its “wedge” shape, which was commonly advertised as: “The Shape of Things to Come”, and by a swage line sweeping down from the rear wing to just behind the front wheel. It had an overall length of 160 inches, width of 66 inches, wheelbase of 85 inches and height of 49.5 inches, and a kerbside weight of 2205 pounds, exactly 1000 kg. During development, the TR7 was referred to by the code name “Bullet”.The original full size model wore MG logos because it was styled at Longbridge, which was not a Triumph factory. Power was provided by a 105 bhp 1,998 cc eight-valve four-cylinder engine that shared the same basic design as the Triumph Dolomite Sprint engine, mounted in-line at the front of the car. Drive was to the rear wheels via a four-speed gearbox initially with optional five-speed manual gearbox, or three-speed automatic from 1976. The front independent suspension used coil spring and damper struts and lower single link at the front, and at the rear was a four-link system, again with coil springs. There were front and rear anti roll bars, with disc brakes at the front and drums at the rear. The interior trim was revised in March 1977, with the broadcord seat covers being replaced with red or green “tartan” check inserts with black leather effect vinyl edging, which looks so very period. now The tartan trim was also reflected in the door cards in padded matching red or green tartan cloth inserts in the black leather effect vinyl. A number of other detailed changes were made, partly to ensure commonality of parts in future models, such as the Convertible and the TR8, and also based on what else was available from the corporate parts bin. Badging changed a number of times, but there were no other significant alterations before the end of production in 1981. In total approximately 115,000 TR7 models were built which includes 28,864 soft top/convertibles, and approximately 2,800 TR8 models. Seen here were both Coupe and Convertible models.
Although the TR models were the most numerous Triumph cars here, they weren’t the only ones on show. Among them were the larger Stag. Envisioned as a luxury sports car, this car was designed to compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz SL. It started as a styling experiment, cut and shaped from a 1963–4 Triumph 2000 pre-production saloon, which had also been styled by Michelotti, and loaned to him by Harry Webster, Director of Engineering at Triumph. Their agreement was that if Webster liked the design, Triumph could use the prototype as the basis of a new Triumph model. Harry Webster, who was a long time friend of Giovanni Michelotti, whom he called “Micho”, loved the design and took the prototype back to England. The end result, a two-door drop head (convertible), had little in common with the styling of its progenitor 2000, but retained the suspension and drive line. Triumph liked the Michelotti design so much that they propagated the styling lines of the Stag into the new Mark 2 2000/2500 saloon and estate. The initial Stag design was based around the saloon’s 2.5-litre six cylinder engine, but Harry Webster intended the Stag, large saloons and estate cars to use a new Triumph-designed overhead cam 2.5-litre fuel injected V8. Under the direction of Harry Webster’s successor, Spen King in 1968, the new Triumph OHC 2.5 PI V8 was enlarged to 2997 cc to increase torque. To meet emission standards in the USA, a key target market, the troublesome mechanical fuel injection was dropped in favour of dual Zenith-Stromberg 175 CDSE carburettors. A key aim of Triumph’s engineering strategy at the time was to create a family of engines of different size around a common crankshaft. This would enable the production of power plants of capacity between 1.5 and 4 litres, sharing many parts, and hence offering economies of manufacturing scale and of mechanic training. A number of iterations of this design went into production, notably a slant four-cylinder engine used in the later Triumph Dolomite and Triumph TR7, and a variant manufactured by StanPart that was initially used in the Saab 99. The Stag’s V8 was the first of these engines into production. Sometimes described as two four-cylinder engines Siamesed together, it is more correct to say that the later four-cylinder versions were half a Stag engine. It has sometimes been alleged that Triumph were instructed to use the proven all-aluminium Rover V8, originally designed by Buick, but claimed that it would not fit. Although there was a factory attempt by Triumph to fit a Rover engine, which was pronounced unsuccessful, the decision to go with the Triumph V8 was probably driven more by the wider engineering strategy and by the fact that the Buick’s different weight and torque characteristics would have entailed substantial re-engineering of the Stag when it was almost ready to go on sale. Furthermore Rover, also owned by British Leyland, could not necessarily have supplied the numbers of V8 engines to match the anticipated production of the Stag anyway. As in the Triumph 2000 model line, unitary construction was employed, as was fully independent suspension – MacPherson struts in front, semi-trailing arms at the rear. Braking was by front disc and rear drum brakes, while steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. Although other bodystyles were envisaged, these never made production, so all Stags were four-seater convertible coupés. For structural rigidity – and to meet new American rollover standards of the time – the Stag required a B-pillar “roll bar” hoop connected to the windscreen frame by a T-bar. A removable hardtop was a popular factory option for the early Stags, and was later supplied as a standard fitment. The car was launched one year late in 1970, to a warm welcome at the various international auto shows. Sadly, it rapidly acquired a reputation for mechanical unreliability, usually in the form of overheating. These problems arose from a variety of causes, all of which are now well understood, and for which solutions have been identified, but at the time, they really hurt the reputation and hence sales of the car. They ranged from late changes to the engine which gave rise to design features that were questionable from an engineering perspective, the choice of materials which necessitated the use of antifreeze all year round, the engine’s use of long, simplex roller link chains, which would first stretch and then often fail inside fewer than 25,000 miles; the arrangement of the cylinder head fixing studs, half of which were vertical and the other half at an angle causing sideways forces which caused premature failure of the cylinder head gaskets. and poor quality production from a plant troubled with industrial unrest and poor quality control. At the time, British Leyland never provided a budget sufficient to correct the few design shortcomings of the Triumph 3.0 litre OHC V8, and the dealers did not help matters. The Stag was always a relatively rare car. British Leyland had around 2,500 UK dealers when the Stag was on sale and a total of around 19,000 were sold in the UK. Thus the average dealer sold only seven or eight Stags during the car’s whole production run, or roughly one car per year. This meant that few dealers saw defective Stags often enough to recognise and diagnose the cause of the various problems. Many owners simply replaced the engine altogether, often with the Rover V8, Ford Essex V6, or even the Triumph 6-cylinder engine around which the car was originally designed. Perhaps thanks to such a reputation for its unreliable engine, only 25,877 cars were produced between 1970 and 1977. Of this number, 6780 were export models, of which 2871 went to the United States. The majority of cars were fitted with a Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic transmission. The other choice was a derivative of the ancient Triumph TR2 gearbox which had been modified and improved over the years for use in the TR series of sports cars. Other than the choice of transmissions there were very few factory-installed options. On early cars buyers could choose to have the car fitted with just the soft-top, just the hard-top (with the hood storage compartment empty) or with both. Later cars were supplied with both roofs. Three wheel styles were offered. The standard fitments were steel wheels with Rostyle “tin-plate” trims. Five-spoke alloy wheels were an option, as were a set of traditional steel spoke wheels with “knock-off”‘ hubcaps. The latter were more commonly found on Stags sold in North America on Federal Specification vehicles. Electric windows, power steering and power-assisted brakes were standard. Options included air conditioning, a luggage rack, uprated Koni shock absorbers, floor mats and Lucas Square Eight fog lamps, and a range of 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.
I did not spot any examples of the Spitfire this time, but I did see its close relative, the GT6, seen in Mark 3 form. In early 1963 Giovanni Michelotti was commissioned by Standard-Triumph to design a GT version of their recently introduced Spitfire 4. An unmodified Spitfire 4 was delivered to Michelotti’s design studios in Italy and late in 1963 the prototype Spitfire GT4 was returned to England for evaluation. The styling of the vehicle was a success but the extra weight of the GT bodyshell resulted in extremely poor performance from the Spitfire’s 1,147 cc power unit, and plans for producing the Spitfire GT4 were shelved. Michelotti’s fastback design for the Spitfire GT4 prototype was adopted by the Triumph racing programme for the 1964 season, as it was deemed to provide an aerodynamic benefit over the standard Spitfire body shape. Fibreglass copies of the Spitfire GT4’s fastback were grafted on to the race-modified Spitfires destined for competition. The Spitfire racing programme was successful, and in 1965 resulted in 13th overall and a 1st in class at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans (beating their main rivals, the MG Midgets). The Spitfire’s competitive success and the continuing commercial success of the production vehicle led Triumph to re-evaluate its shelved plans for a GT version of the Spitfire. To overcome the lack of performance inherent in the heavier body style the Spitfire’s 4-cylinder engine was replaced with the more powerful 1998 cc 6-cylinder engine from the Triumph Vitesse (which shared a similar chassis with the Spitfire and Triumph Herald). The car was further developed and refined and eventually launched as the Triumph GT6 (dropping the “Spitfire” prefix) to emphasise its GT styling and its 6-cylinder engine. Contemporary Triumph marketing advertised the GT6 as being developed from the “race winning Le Mans Spitfires” to capitalise on their aesthetic similarities, whereas the Le Mans Spitfires and the GT6 were actually two entirely separate development programmes (the GT programme pre-dating the racing programme). However, the marketing spin was so successful that many people erroneously believed the Le Mans Spitfires to actually be GT6s. The production car was introduced in 1966 and called the Triumph GT6. The new body was a sleek fastback design with an opening rear hatch which gave the GT6 the nickname “Poor man’s E-Type”. It was really a 2-seater, but a small extra rear seat could be ordered if required and was large enough for small children. The family resemblance to the Spitfire Mk II was strong, the longer 6-cylinder engine necessitated a new bonnet top with a power bulge and the doors were provided with opening quarter light windows and squared-off glass in the top rear corner. The 6-cylinder engine was tuned to develop 95 bhp at 5000 rpm, and produced 117 lb·ft of torque at 3000 rpm. The increased power necessitated certain changes to the Spitfire mechanics; the radiator was new and mounted further forward in the car and the gearbox was the stronger unit from the Vitesse, with optional overdrive. Front springs were uprated to cope with the extra weight of the new engine. The overall vehicle weight unladed was 1,904 lb (864 kg). The interior of the GT6 was well equipped; a wooden dashboard housed a full complement of instruments, with carpets and heater included as standard. The new car had some very strong selling points. The new engine provided a 106 mph top speed and 0–60 mph in 12 seconds, a little better than the MGB GT. Moreover, the unit was comparatively smooth and tractable, in marked contrast to the MG’s rather harsh 4-cylinder engine. Fuel economy was very reasonable for the period at 20mpg, and the interior well up to the competition. The only major criticism was of its rear suspension; the GT6 inherited the swing-axle system from the Spitfire, which in turn was copied from the Herald small saloon. In the saloon it was tolerated, in the little Spitfire it was not liked and in the powerful GT6 it was heavily criticised. Triumph had done nothing to improve the system for the GT6 and the tendency to break away if the driver lifted off the power mid-corner was not helped at all by the increased weight at the front of the car. The handling was most bitterly criticised in the USA, an important export market for Triumph, where they were traditionally very strong. Similar criticism was being levelled at the Vitesse saloon, which shared the GT6’s engine and its handling problems. Triumph realised that they needed to find an answer to the handling problem, if only to maintain their reputation in the USA. Their response came with the 1969 model year, with the introduction of the GT6 Mk II, known in the States as the GT6+. The rear suspension was significantly re-engineered using reversed lower wishbones and Rotoflex driveshaft couplings, taming the handling and turning the Triumph into an MGB beater. The Vitesse was also modified, but the Spitfire had to wait until 1970 for any improvements to be made. There were other changes for the Mk II; the front bumper was raised (in common with the Spitfire Mk.3) to conform to new crash regulations, necessitating a revised front end, and side vents were added to the front wings and rear pillars. Under the bonnet, the engine was uprated to develop 104 bhp with a new cylinder head, camshaft, and manifolds. Performance improved to 107 mph but perhaps more noteworthy the 0–60 mph time dropped to 10 seconds. The fuel economy was also improved to 25 mpg. The interior was updated with a new dashboard and better ventilation, a two-speed heater fan and a black headlining. Overdrive remained a popular option for the manual transmission. A further update to the Series 3 came in the autumn of 1970, at the same time as the Spitfire Mark IV was launched, but sales remained low and the car was deleted in the autumn of 1973 with production having reached 40,926 examples.
Another Club that in the past has put on a huge display, but whose numbers seemed somewhat reduced for 2018 is the TVR Car Club. Even with fewer cars on show, given the varied and often very vibrant colours in which many TVRs were delivered, especially in recent years, this was still one of the more colourful parts of the entire event.
The TVR M Series cars were built between 1972 and 1979, replacing the Vixen and Tuscan models. The styling showed a clear resemblance to the models that the M replaced, with the centre section of the car being carried forward and conceptually, the cars were little different, with a front mid-engine, rear-wheel drive layout and body-on-frame construction. The bodies themselves were built from glass-reinforced plastic (GRP). The engines were bought in, sourced from Triumph and Ford, which resulted in a number of different models being made. These included the 1600M, 2500M, 3000M, 3000S, and Taimar, as well as turbocharged versions of the 3000M, 3000S, and Taimar. The first model to start production was the 2500M in March 1972, after being built as a prototype in 1971, which had the 2500cc engine from the Triumph 2.5PI and TR6 under the bonnet. Ford engined 1600M and 3000M models followed later. The American market was financially very important to TVR, and Gerry Sagerman oversaw import and distribution of the cars within the United States from his facility on Long Island. Approximately thirty dealers sold TVRs in the eastern part of the country. John Wadman handled distribution of the cars in Canada through his business, JAG Auto Enterprises.. A small number of 5.0 litre Ford V8-powered cars were finished or converted by the TVR North America importer; these were sold as the 5000M. A total of 2,465 M Series cars were built over the nine years of production. Because of the hand-built and low-volume nature of TVR production, there are many small and often-undocumented variations between cars of the same model that arise due to component availability and minor changes in the build process. The M Series was regarded by contemporary reviewers as being loud and fast and having excellent roadholding. This came at the expense of unusual ergonomics, and heating and ventilation systems that were sometimes problematic. The first major alteration to the M Series body was the hatchback Taimar, introduced at the October 1976 British International Motor Show and using the same mechanicals as the 3000M. The name was inspired by the name of Martin’s friend’s girlfriend, Tayma. The opening hatchback alleviated the previous difficulty of manoeuvering luggage over the seats to stow it in the cargo area, and the hatch itself was opened electrically via a solenoid-actuated latch triggered by a button on the driver’s doorjamb. Over its three-year production, a total of 395 normally aspirated Taimars were built. The final body style for the M Series, an open roadster, arrived in 1978 as the TVR 3000S (marketed in some places as the “Convertible”, and referred to at least once as the “Taimar Roadster”.) Like the Taimar, the 3000S was mechanically identical to the 3000M; the body, however, had undergone significant changes. Only the nose of the car was the same as the previous coupes, as the windscreen, doors, and rear end had all been reworked. The redesign of the doors precluded the possibility of using wind-up windows, so sliding sidecurtains were instead fitted. These could be removed entirely and stowed in the boot, which, for the first time on a TVR, was a separate compartment with its own lid. The boot lid was operated electrically in a manner similar to the Taimar’s hatch. Its design was not finalised by the time the first cars entered production, so the first several cars (including the prototype) were built with no cutout for boot access. The final styling tweaks and the production of moulds for the fibreglass were done by Topolec Ltd. of Norfolk. The styling of the 3000S was revived in a somewhat modernised form later, with the 1987 introduction of the TVR S Series (although the S Series shared almost no components with the M Series cars.) The windscreen and convertible top had been adapted from those used on the Jensen-Healey roadster. Because Jensen Motors had ceased operation in 1976, the windscreen and sidecurtain designs were done by a company named Jensen Special Products, which was run by former Jensen employees. The design for the convertible top was finalised by Car Hood Company in Coventry. One of the minor undocumented variations found on M Series cars is the presence of a map light built into the upper windscreen surround of the 3000S. It appears to have been included only on a very small number of cars built near the end of the production run. When production of the 3000S ended (with 258 cars built), it cost £8,730. Reportedly, 67 of these cars were in a left-hand drive configuration, and 49 were exported to North America.
TVR replaced their long-running shape with something really quite radical looking in early 1980. with the Tasmin, and there was a relatively early version of these “wedge” era TVRs here. During the 1970s, when Martin Lilley started to look where to take the Blackpool based company next, he noted that Lotus appeared to have reinvented itself with the Elite, Eclat and Esprit, losing much of the kit-car image in the process, and he thought he needed to do something similar. He needed a new design language, so he contacted Oliver Winterbottom who had done the Elite/Eclat for the Norfolk firm, hoping for something new. The wedge-shaped design that Winterbottom created was produced in 1977, and a prototype was created the following year, before the new car’s launch very early in 1980. Based on the Taimar, but with very different wedge styling, the car was not exactly received with massive enthusiasm. The styling looked a bit like yesterday’s car, as the wedge era was on the wane, and the car’s price pitched it against cars like the Porsche 924 Turbo. Development of the new car had drained TVR’s finances, which led to Lilley ceding control of the company in 1981 to Peter Wheeler. The convertible that followed helped matters a bit, whereas the 2 litre 200 and the 2+2 model did not, but in 1983, TVR announced a revised version with the potent Rover 3.5 litre V8 under the bonnet, in lieu of the 2.8 litre Ford Essex unit, and it transformed the car. It was just what was needed, and over the next few years, a series of ever more potent models, with ever wilder styling came into the range. By 1986, the 450SEAC boasted 340 bhp, making this something of a supercar.
TVR’s next model took something of a retro look, the S Series which was announced at the 1986 British International Motor Show, initially as a concept. Due to a massive positive response, the car went into production in less than 12 months, with 250 pre-manufacture orders. This was Peter Wheeler’s first major development since buying the company from Martin Lilley, and the turning point in TVR’s fortunes, which had struggled with the “Wedge” based cars that had been introduced in 1980 to replace the long running M Series models. With styling which looked more like these popular M Series cars, the first S Series cars used Ford’s Cologne V6 in 2.8 litre 160 hp and for the later S2 to S4 had the later 2.9 litre 170 hp unit. TVR made frequent updates to the cars, moving from those retrospectively called the S1 to S2 and later S3 and S4 in short succession. The S3 and S4 received longer doors, although some late S2’s were also thus equipped. Vehicle models ending with “C” were used to denote vehicles which were fitted with a catalytic converter. Only the S3 and S4 were fitted with catalysts. The Cat was only introduced to the UK in August 1992, at “K” registration, but catalysed cars were produced before that, intended for export to markets with tighter emissions standards. Just as they had done with the “wedges”, TVR found more excitement by putting the Rover V8 engine under the bonnet of the car in lieu of the Ford unit, though the two models were offered in parallel. The V8S used a 4.0 litre fuel-injected Rover V8 engine, with gas-flowed cylinder heads, higher lift camshaft, compression ratio upped to 10:5:1, revised manifold, new chip for the engine management system and a limited slip differential. The result was 240 bhp at 5250 rpm and 270 lb/ft of torque at 3000 rpm. The V8S had a number of cosmetic differences over the V6. The bonnet had a large hump – created to house the Italian specification supercharger but carried over to all V8S models. The V8S had a small vent facing the windscreen, whereas S1 to S3 models face forward. Very late S3 and S4 models had no hump at all. As with all TVR’s there is no specific point in time when they changed styles, probably when they ran out! The suspension track was slightly wider on the V8S achieved with revised wishbones at the front and revised trailing arms at the rear. Disc brakes are fitted all round. The standard specification of the V8S included ½ hide leather interior, walnut trim, mohair hood, OZ alloy wheels, driving lamps, electric windows and door mirrors. 0-60 mph could be achieved in 4.9 seconds and 0-100 mph in 12.9 seconds. It was faster than an Aston Martin Virage, a Ferrari Testarossa, Lotus Esprit Turbo SE and Porsche Carrera 2 the supercars of the early 1990s. Between 1986 and 1994 2,604 S Series cars were made; 410 of these were of the V8S variety.
The Griffith was the first of the modern generation TVRs. First seen as a concept at the 1990 British Motor Show, it wowed the crowds sufficiently that unlike the Show Cars of precediing years, may of which were never seen again, Peter Wheeler and his small team in Blackpool immediately set about preparing it for production. It took until mid 1992 before they were ready. Like its forerunner namesakes, the Griffith 200 and Griffith 400, the modern Griffith was a lightweight (1048 kg) fibreglass-bodied, 2-door, 2-seat sports car with a V8 engine. Originally, it used a 4.0 litre 240 hp Rover V8 engine, but that could be optionally increased to a 4.3 litre 280 hp unit, with a further option of big-valve cylinder heads. In 1993, a TVR-developed 5.0 litre 340 hp version of the Rover V8 became available. All versions of the Griffith used the Lucas 14CUX engine management system and had a five-speed manual transmission. The car spawned a cheaper, and bigger-selling relative, the Chimaera, which was launched in 1993. 602 were sold in the first year and then around 250 cars a year were bought throughout the 90s, but demand started to wane, so iIn 2000, TVR announced that the Griffith production was going to end. A limited edition run of 100 Special Edition (SE) cars were built to mark the end of production. Although still very similar to the previous Griffith 500 model, the SE had a hybrid interior using the Chimaera dashboard and Cerbera seats. Noticeably, the rear lights were different along with different door mirrors, higher powered headlights and clear indicator lenses. Some also came with 16-inch wheels. Each car came with a numbered plaque in the glove box including the build number and a Special Edition Badge on its boot. All cars also had a unique signature in the boot under the carpet. The SEs were built between 2000 and 2002, with the last registered in 2003. A register of the last 100 SEs can be found at TVR Griffith 500 SE Register. These days, the Griffith remains a much loved classic and to celebrate the car, the owners have a meet called “The Griff Growl.”
Also here was the Chimaera, the slightly softer version of the Griffith, that was sold from 1993 to 2003. Offered with a choice of 4.0, 4,3 and later 4.5 and 5 litre Rover V8-based engines, this was still an exciting car, and a good looking one as well.
Soon after the Mark 2 Astra was launched in September 1984, Vauxhall added the GTE model using a 1.8-litre 115 bhp lifted from the Mark 1 GTE, but this was quickly dropped in favour of a 124 bhp 2.0 litre unit due to poorer than expected performance. All GTE models featured an all electronic dash with digital speedometer. Analogue instruments were an optional extra, but were very rarely selected over the digital dash. In 1988 Vauxhall’s twin-camshaft version of the engine, the C20XE known as the “red top” (due to the red spark plug cover), was fitted to the GTE and instantly created a stir with the motoring press because of its performance. When this engine was originally released in Europe and the UK it developed 156 bhp and 150 ft lbs of torque in standard form. A few years later the GTE 16v, now subject to stricter emissions regulations, was fitted with a catalytic converter and a new exhaust manifold, which robbed the engine of 6 bhp, and 5 ft lbs of torque, and added .5 of a second to the 0–60 mph time, raising it from 7.0 seconds to 7.5 seconds. In 1990 the “leather edition” limited-edition was launched, and an allocation of around 250 examples sold only through London dealerships. This special edition came with Bordeaux paint work, and crossed spoke alloy wheels. It was also known as the “London Edition” and featured in a single sheet brochure printed in April 1990. Between the brochure being printed, and the time they hit the road the “Leather Edition” acquired some extra dealer fit decals to help them stand out further from the standard 16 valve GTE. These decals comprise a small three colour flash on the tail gate next to the GTE badge, and the same colours under the bumper strips on the sides near the rear arch. A silver strip was also added adjacent to this. The colours used were that of the GM racing teams, and once fitted these cars also became known as the “Champion” Edition. They came with Recaro seats and door cards clad in Connolly Leather.
Sole Volvo here was this P1800S, example of the sports car that was manufactured by Volvo Cars between 1961 and 1973. The P1800 was a one-time venture by the usually sober Swedish Volvo, who already had a reputation for building sensible sedans. The project was originally started in 1957 because Volvo wanted a sports car to compete in the US and European markets, despite the fact that their previous attempt, the P1900, had failed to take off with only 68 cars sold. The man behind the project was an engineering consultant to Volvo, Helmer Petterson, who in the 1940s was responsible for the Volvo PV444. The design work was done by Helmer’s son Pelle Petterson, who worked at Pietro Frua at that time. Volvo insisted it was an Italian design by Frua and only officially recognised that it was by Pelle Petterson many years later. The Italian Carrozzeria Pietro Frua design firm (then a recently acquired subsidiary of Ghia) built the first three prototypes between September 1957 and early 1958, later designated by Volvo in September 1958: P958-X1, P958-X2 and P958-X3. In December 1957 Helmer Petterson drove X1, the first hand-built P1800 prototype to Osnabrück, West Germany, headquarters of Karmann. Petterson hoped that Karmann would be able to take on the tooling and building of the P1800. Karmann’s engineers had already been preparing working drawings from the wooden styling buck at Frua. Petterson and Volvo chief engineer Thor Berthelius met there, tested the car and discussed the construction with Karmann. They were ready to build it and this meant that the first cars could hit the market as early as December 1958. But in February, Karmann’s most important customer, Volkswagen forbade Karmann to take on the job, as they feared that the P1800 would compete with the sales of their own cars, and threatened to cancel all their contracts with Karmann if they took on this car. This setback almost caused the project to be abandoned. Other German firms, NSU, Drautz and Hanomag, were contacted but none was chosen because Volvo did not believe they met Volvo’s manufacturing quality-control standards. It began to appear that Volvo might never produce the P1800. This motivated Helmer Petterson to obtain financial backing from two financial firms with the intention of buying the components directly from Volvo and marketing the car himself. At this point Volvo had made no mention of the P1800 and the factory would not comment. Then a press release surfaced with a photo of the car, putting Volvo in a position where they had to acknowledge its existence. These events influenced the company to renew its efforts: the car was presented to the public for the first time at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1960 and Volvo turned to Jensen Motors, whose production lines were under-utilised, and they agreed a contract for 10,000 cars. The Linwood, Scotland, body plant of manufacturer Pressed Steel was in turn sub-contracted by Jensen to create the unibody shells, which were then taken by rail to be assembled at Jensen in West Bromwich. In September 1960, the first production P1800 left Jensen for an eager public. The engine was the B18, an 1800cc petrol engine, with dual SU carburettors, producing 100 hp. This variant (named B18B) had a higher compression ratio than the slightly less powerful twin-carb B18D used in the contemporary Amazon 122S, as well as a different camshaft. The ‘new’ B18 was actually developed from the existing B36 V8 engine used in Volvo trucks at the time. This cut production costs, as well as furnishing the P1800 with a strong engine boasting five main crankshaft bearings. The B18 was matched with the new and more robust M40 manual gearbox through 1963. From 1963 to 1972 the M41 gearbox with electrically actuated overdrive was a popular option. Two overdrive types were used, the D-Type through 1969, and the J-type through 1973. The J-type had a slightly shorter ratio of 0.797:1 as opposed to 0.756:1 for the D-type. The overdrive effectively gave the 1800 series a fifth gear, for improved fuel efficiency and decreased drivetrain wear. Cars without overdrive had a numerically lower-ratio differential, which had the interesting effect of giving them a somewhat higher top speed of just under 120 mph, than the more popular overdrive models. This was because the non-overdrive cars could reach the engine’s redline in top gear, while the overdrive-equipped cars could not, giving them a top speed of roughly 110 mph. As time progressed, Jensen had problems with quality control, so the contract was ended early after 6,000 cars had been built. In 1963 production was moved to Volvo’s Lundby Plant in Gothenburg and the car’s name was changed to 1800S (S standing for Sverige, or in English : Sweden). The engine was improved with an additional 8 hp. In 1966 the four-cylinder engine was updated to 115 PS, which meant the top speed increased to 109 mph. In 1969 the B18 engine was replaced with the 2-litre B20B variant of the B20 giving 118 bhp, though it kept the designation 1800S. For 1970 numerous changes came with the fuel-injected 1800E, which had the B20E engine with Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection and a revised camshaft, and produced 130 bhp without sacrificing fuel economy. Top speed was around 118 mph and acceleration from 0–62 took 9.5 seconds. In addition, the 1970 model was the first 1800 with four-wheel disc brakes; till then the 1800 series had front discs and rear drums. Volvo introduced its final P1800 variant, the 1800ES, in 1972 as a two-door station wagon with a frameless, all-glass tailgate. The final design was chosen after two prototypes had been built by Sergio Coggiola and Pietro Frua. Frua’s prototype, Raketen (“the Rocket”), is located in the Volvo Museum. Both Italian prototypes were considered too futuristic, and instead in-house designer Jan Wilsgaard’s proposal was accepted. The ES engine was downgraded to 125 bhp by reducing the compression ratio with a thicker head gasket (engine variant B20F); although maximum power was slightly down the engine was less “peaky” and the car’s on-the-road performance was actually improved. The ES’s rear backrest folded down to create a long flat loading area. As an alternative to the usual four-speed plus overdrive manual transmission, a Borg-Warner three-speed automatic was available in the 1800ES. With stricter American safety and emissions standards looming for 1974, Volvo did not see fit to spend the considerable amount that would be necessary to redesign the small-volume 1800 ES. Only 8,077 examples of the ES were built in its two model years.
AND FINALLY………. BBMF MEMORIAL FLY PASTS
Although the majority of the action was on the ground, as you would expect for a car-related event, there was also some interest in the sky as on both Saturday and Sunday there was a Memorial fly-past. On the Saturday, it was a Spitfire and a Hurricane from the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) which treated DHF visitors, and on the Sunday the BBMF came with a Dakota – a rather larger aircraft. With the clear cloudless skies of the day, there was an excellent view of this legendary plane.
Over the years, I’ve been at Donington events when the weather has provided a severe test of my interest levels and commitment, none more so perhaps than that incredibly wet and cold Grand Prix weekend of 1993, but more recently I have also experienced the biting wind that features rather more frequently even when the rain is absent. So it was a real pleasure to be able to attend this event and be bathed in spring sunshine. Make no mistake, it was a good day out, with an impressive array of machinery to be seen in the pits and out on track, and some nice cars among the Car Club displays, but it felt like it had lost something. The Car Cub displays, in particular, were thin compared to previous years, and whilst the absence of crowds around anything can be welcome there just was not the sort of buzz that you usually get from others enjoying their day out. There’s nothing wrong with the concept here, but for whatever reason, people just don’t seem to be coming in the numbers that they did even a couple of years ago. Whether that is because they have lost interest, or event congestion means they decided to go to something else, I am not sure. You certainly could not blame the weather, this time!