Abarths: British Motor Museum, Gaydon to Caffeine & Machine – March 2019

The brief that I gave myself when planning this event, the first Abarth Owners Club meet of 2019, was that as it would be in early March, it needed to have an indoor element in case the weather should prove inhospitable, plenty of parking on hard-standing, and as it was intended to be accessible to as many of the membership as possible, should be somewhere in the middle of the country. My first thoughts were that the Caffeine and Machine, which had come to my notice around the start of the year, just a few weeks after it had opened, looked to be an ideal base, as it was getting ever increasing amounts of favourable publicity from all manner of car enthusiasts. I was certainly keen to investigate for myself and this looked like a good opportunity. Then I had an idea of adding a second venue to the day, a few miles away from Caffeine and Machine – the recently revamped museum at Gaydon which is now called the British Motor Museum, a more accurate reflection of its contents since the scope extended more widely than just products of the former British Leyland companies. The two destinations are only around 10 miles apart, with the most direct route connecting them being a mix of A and B roads through the Warwickshire countryside which promised a few minutes of fun for a convoy of Abarths. Unsurprisingly, the idea found favour with quite a number of owners, keen for a day out before the main events gets started in April.


Start point was to be at Gaydon, and I had been advised that an area of the main car park would be marked off for us, so that we could get all the cars together. Although the doors to the museum do not open until 10am, so I had suggested that there was no point in arriving much before this time, it was no great surprise when I came down the long approach drive at around 9:30 am to note that there were already quite a few Abarths parked up in a line, and nor was it a particular surprise as I parked up to see to whom some of the cars belonged as it was the usual suspects who had arrived early. As it turned out, I was actually quite grateful for the chance to meet and greet those who had arrived before museum opening time and to start getting some photos of the cars, as the morning just shot by, and I certainly ran out of time to do as much as I wanted before our planned departure at around 1pm .

Despite the signage, people who were nothing to do with our Group, and not in Abarths seemed to think it was OK to park up amongst us, but as I remained outside for a while, as custodian of the Club tickets for the museum, I was able to persuade everyone to park elsewhere in what was a largely empty car park, something some did more graciously than others. That meant we were able to get all the cars parked up in a long line, though with nearly 25 cars there, the only way you would have been able to get them all in one photo would probably have been from a drone. The majority of the cars were 500-based, and, as ever, no two were the same, with a mix of cars from early models such as Paul Hatton’s 500 Esseesse, through to a number of newly acquired Series 4 cars. A number of the different colours that have been offered were on show, and there was a good mix of factory-standard and cars which had been personalised by their owners.

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Standing out, even from quite a distance, was Carla Rigden’s Adrenaline Green 595 Trofeo. This colour was a new addition to the range at the end of 2018, and by all accounts we are going to start seeing a lot of cars in this colour when Abarths are gathered together, as there have been a lot of people on the Facebook page not just saying how they like it, but also announcing that they’ve ordered one in this colour. It is certainly striking, but as Abarth proved when they added other bold colours – such as the rich Podium Blue and the popular Modena Yellow – the shape and lines of this car suit bold colours in a way that a lot of other modern cars do not. The Trofeo was also an addition to the range, and is positioned between the Turismo and the Competizione, designed to offer some of the features of the latter but with a little less power (165 bhp as opposed to 180 bhp) and a lower price and likely cheaper insurance.

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Also distinctive is the 695 XSR Yamaha Edition, a limited production car that was made in 2017. Neil Rollinson, a Midlands resident, had brought his along. Created in recognition of the fact that for the third year running, in 2017 Abarth was to be Official Sponsor and Official Car Supplier of the Yamaha Factory Racing Team, competing in the 2017 FIM MotoGP World Championship. In the wake of the Abarth 595 Yamaha Factory Racing and the 695 biposto Yamaha Factory Racing Edition, the 695 XSR Yamaha Limited Edition special series is available exclusively with a Pista Grey livery: only 695 sedans and 695 convertibles will be made. The new car was created to celebrate the Yamaha XSR900 Abarth, which is the first exclusive motorcycle to spring from the collaboration between the two brands and which sports the same grey livery with red trim as the 695 XSR, as well as sharing many of its features. The special series makes extensive use of carbon fibre to demonstrate its affinity with the front fairing, front mudguard and saddle cover of the two-wheel Yamaha. The Abarth 695 XSR and the Yamaha XSR900 Abarth also share Akrapovič ultralight exhaust developed in the racing world to boost the personality, sound and performance of both vehicles. On the Abarth car, the carbon fibre tailpipes enhance the looks and technology of the exhaust system. The XSR logo on the tailgate distinguishes the Abarth 695 XSR, while an aluminium badge identifies the sequential number of 695 units for each body type. Other carbon fibre details, in addition to the mirror caps and Akrapovič tailpipes, are available as optional equipment, such as dashboard fascia, pedal covers, gear knob and kick plate. The car uses the 1.4 T-Jet engine delivering 165 bhp. Equipment on this special series includes Koni rear suspension and Eibach springs, 17” Supersport alloy rims with Matt Black finish, Satin Chrome accents on handles and badge supports, red details on bumpers and mirrors, red brake callipers and a braking system with perforated discs. This version can be customised even further using the tuning kit to increase the power to 180 HP, improve handling by fitting a Koni front suspension with FSD (Frequency Selective Damping) valve and make braking even prompter with 305x28mm perforated and self-ventilating Brembo floating front discs with high-performance Ferodo HP 1000/1 front brake pads. It also features the new UconnectTM 7″ HD LIVE system integrated with Apple CarPlay allows iPhone users to access contents such as Apple Maps, Messages, telephone calls, Apple Music, also with Siri voice assistance.

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Pleasingly, as well as the 500-based cars, there were 3 examples of the Abarth Punto here. All three were of the Evo generation, with James King’s car being a Supersport version. The Punto Evo was launched at the 2010 Geneva Show, with the cars reaching UK buyers in the summer of that year, and it incorporated many of the changes which had been seen a few months earlier on the associated Fiat models, the visual alterations being the most obvious, with the car taking on the nose of the associated Fiat, but adapted to make it distinctively Abarth, new rear lights and new badging. There was more to it than this, though, as under the bonnet, the T-Jet unit was swapped for the 1.4 litre Multi-Air, coupled to a 6 speed gearbox, which meant that the car now had 165 bhp at its disposal. Eventually, Abarth offered an Esseesse kit for these cars, though these are exceedingly rare. The SuperSport, is usually identified by the distinctive black bonnet, though James’ car no longer features it. Just 199 of the SuperSport versions were built, of which around 120 are registered on UK roads. These cars had many of the options from the Punto Evo included as standard. Power came from the the 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo engine, tuned to produce 178bhp and 199lb ft of torque, up from 165 of the standard Punto Evo, giving the SuperSport a 0-62 time of 7.5 seconds and a top speed of over 132mph. To help put the power down, the SuperSport was fitted with wider 18″ wheels and optional Koni FSD dampers. Standard equipment included the Blue&Me infotainment system with steering wheel controls, automatic climate control and a popular option was the ‘Abarth Corsa by Sabelt’ sports leather seats. The SuperSport was available in the same colours as the regular Punto Evo, which means white, grey, black and red.

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Slightly surprisingly, there was only one 124 Spider among the cars we amassed. Eagerly awaited, the 124 Spider went on sale in September 2016. A quick reminder as to what this car is: The Abarth 124 Spider was developed in parallel with the Fiat model. It does cost a lot more, and there are those who think you don’t get enough extra for your money, but those who have driven it will tell you otherwise. You certainly get more power. The 1.4 MultiAir turbo unit jumps up from 138bhp to 168bhp, while torque also increases by a modest 10Nm to 250Nm, which gives it a 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds, which is half a second quicker than the 2.0-litre Mazda MX-5. The top speed is 143mph. It weighs just 1060kg meaning a power-to-weight ratio of 158bhp-per-tonne, and with the new Record Monza exhaust system it sounds great even at idle. The Abarth version gets a stiffer suspension setup than the regular Fiat 124 Spider, with Bilstein dampers and beefed-up anti-roll bars. Bigger Brembo brakes also feature, with aluminium calipers. It can be had with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission with paddles, and the latter gets a Sport mode for quicker shifts. Many of the UK cars sport the ‘Heritage Look’ pack, which is a no-cost option. It brings a matt black bonnet and bootlid, plus red exterior trim detailing and has proved popular. The £29,565 starting price gets you standard equipment such as cruise control, climate control, Bluetooth, a DAB radio and satnav, plus Alcantara black and red (or pure black) seat trim. The automatic gearbox is a £2,035 extra, while an optional visibility pack brings LED DRLs, auto lights and wipers and rear parking sensors. Even a couple of years after the first cars reached the UK, this is a rare sighting, although in excess of 1750 of them are now on UK roads.

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The museum at Gaydon has roots dating back to 1983, when the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust (B.M.I.H.T.) was established to ensure the preservation of an important collection of vehicles and archived owned, at that time, by British Leyland. BL agreed to transfer the unique vehicle and artefact collections from Austin, Morris, MG, Riley, Wolseley, Standard Triumph, Jaguar and Rover, into a series of charitable trusts, under the umbrella management of the B.M.I.H.T. The trusts included the Austin Rover Group (later, Rover Group) Heritage Trust, the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust and the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust. When Ford acquired Jaguar cars in 1990, the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust collection was moved to the Jaguar Browns Lane facility in Coventry, and the Rover Group Trust gifted its collections to the B.M.I.H.T. Syon Park in London was home to some of the Trust’s vehicles until 1993, while the rest were stored at Studley Castle in Warwickshire, together with the archive collection. Funded by the Rover Group and other sponsors, a new, spacious museum at Gaydon, called the ‘Heritage Motor Centre’ (and set within 65 acres of landscaped grounds) was opened in 1993. This move enabled the Trust’s collection of more than 25 vehicles and a vast quantity of archives to be brought together and made more accessible to the public. At the time that it was built, the purposed-designed museum sat in a rural area, just a mile or so off the M40 motorway, but with very little passing traffic. With plenty of space on site, the museum quickly became not just a destination in its own right, but one that was very popular for hosting Car Clubs and larger events. More recently, it has acquired new neighbours with both Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover opening up facilities next door which have grown massively in size over the years. With the collapse of the MG-Rover Group in 2005, remit of the collection was widened to cover cars that extended beyond MG-Rover and all its predecessors in title, and as it grew, so some pruning of the collection was called for, with a few duplicates sold off. Even so, there were far more cars than could ever be displayed, and whilst some were crammed into a storage facility, others were just abandoned outside, as visitors frequently observed and commented. More space was clearly called for, and so since 2004 the Trust, whose declared mission is to collect, conserve, research and display for the British nation, motor vehicles, archives and ancillary material relating to the motor industry in Great Britain has raised funds for a variety of projects, including major redevelopment of the Museum. A new mezzanine floor to provide additional exhibition space opened in 2007, but that was not enough to cope with ever growing demands for display space. Hence the recent works costing £5.1m, culmination of a 5 year program, which saw a significant set of alterations to the existing display space and the construction of an additional building called the ‘Collections Centre’ building to house and display the reserve vehicle collection of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust and the Jaguar Heritage Trust, 250 cars in total. The museum was closed for several weeks at the end of 2015 and reopened in mid February 2016. Although I’ve been to a number of events at the site since then, I’ve never really found the time to have a good look at the new museum and the Collections Centre, so I rather hoped to put that right on this occasion.


One of the most significant changes to be included in the revamp of the museum was the moving of the main entrance so it is somewhat to the left of where it was, Instead of it being directly ahead of you as you arrive on site from the long approach road, it is now very much to the left. The building is essentially a semi-circle in shape, and this change has now probably created more space for some of the displays. After you pass the cashier’s desk, ticket duly bought, you are in what is called the Welcome Gallery, and there are half a dozen cars in this area, with a dividing wall meaning that you have to pass them all and go round the corner of the wall to see the rest of the museum, which just adds to the anticipation of what is to come. The cars that were on show had all been selected for their historic significance and were pretty varied.

Oldest car of the group is indeed one of the oldest British cars there is, an 1897 Daimler Grafton Phaeton, the oldest surviving Coventry built Daimler car. It has only had four owners from new. The car is maintained in full running order, and used to regularly compete in the annual London to Brighton Run, held on the first Sunday in November. The Daimler Company was formed on 14 January 1896 and a factory was opened at the Motor Mills in Coventry. The company held the British licence rights to the German Daimler patents, and was therefore allowed to use the name as well. Early cars were imported from Germany or France, but production of British-built Daimlers was underway by 1897. Originally bought by a Doctor in Shropshire who reputedly used it for tours of Belgium and France, by 1906 it had passed to the second owner who kept it until 1954. The third owner was Ted Woolley who restored the car and had it registered under the appropriate mark AD 1897. His exploits with the car were legendary, and included a crossing of the Col du Cenis 7,000ft up in the Alps, on a tour from Britain to Munich and Turin. After his death in 1984, the car was bought by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust. Further restoration was carried out in 1993-94, at which time the car was returned to its original blue colour. This Daimler is powered by a twocylinder four horsepower engine, and ignition is by a hot tube system. The top speed is 24mph (40 km/h), and it cost £375 when new. It was initially fitted with tiller steering, but this was converted to wheel steering by Daimler in 1899 (the patch on the bonnet covers the hole for the original column). The hood is made of elephant hide.

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This 1925 MG is known as ‘Old Number One’. Old Number One was not actually the very first MG of all but was the first sports car to bear the name. It was a one-off built by Cecil Kimber for the 1925 Land”s End Trial, and was later sold off but bought back by MG in the early 1930s.

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HUE166 is now a world-famous Land Rover. and these days it looks immaculate, which is quite an achievement as until its discovery and rescue in 2016, it had spent 20 years rotting in a Welsh field. It is a hugely significant vehicle as this is the prototype, which appeared at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show, launching the iconic 4×4 vehicle. Huey – given the name because it bore the registration number HUE 166 – was designed by car giant Rover’s then-technical chief, Maurice Wilks, who owned a farm at Red Wharf Bay in 1947. When found, it had been missing for 63 years, but more of its history has now come to light. It was built in 1948 with left hand drive and listed as “Experimental” on the logbook and record of sale and featured a number of unique features that did not go into mass production such as thicker aluminium alloy body panels, a galvanised chassis and a removable rear tub. Later that year it was upgraded with new production parts by engineers and converted to current right hand drive setup. It was registered on 25 June 1955 with registration SNX 910. In the 1960s it had a number of owners in the Midlands. It was last on the road in the 1960s, after which it spent 20 years in a field being used as a static power source. In 1988 it was bought as a restoration project by someone living near Solihull in the West Midlands, where it had been produced. But then it was forgotten again and spent years “languishing” in the owner’s back garden, Jaguar Land Rover said, until its “surprise discovery” in 2016.

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Looking very elegant is this splendid 1952 Bentley R Type Continental, a high-performance version of the R-Type. It was the fastest four-seat car in production at the time. The prototype was developed by a team of designers and engineers from Rolls-Royce Ltd. and coachbuilder H. J. Mulliner & Co. led by Rolls-Royce’s Chief Project Engineer, Ivan Evernden. Rolls-Royce worked with H. J. Mulliner instead of their own coachbuilding subsidiary Park Ward because the former had developed a lightweight body construction system using metal throughout instead of the traditional ash-framed bodies. The styling, finalised by Stanley Watts of H. J. Mulliner, was influenced by aerodynamic testing conducted at Rolls-Royce’s wind tunnel by Evernden’s assistant, Milford Read. The rear fins stabilised the car at speed and made it resistant to changes in direction due to crosswinds. A maximum kerb weight of 34 long hundredweight (1,700 kg) was specified to keep the tyres within a safe load limit at a top speed of 120 mph (190 km/h). The prototype, with chassis number 9-B-VI[ and registration number OLG-490, which earned it the nickname “Olga”, was on the road by August 1951. Olga and the first series of production Continentals were based on the Mark VI chassis, and used a manual mixture control on the steering wheel boss, as these versions did not have an automatic choke. The early R Type Continental has essentially the same engine as the standard R Type, but with modified carburation, induction and exhaust manifolds along with higher gear ratios. The compression ratio was raised to 7.25:1 from the standard 6.75:1, while the final gear ratio was raised (lowered numerically) from 3.41 to 3.07. Despite its name, the two-door Continental was produced principally for the domestic home market, most of the 207 cars produced were right-hand drive, with 43 left-hand drive examples produced for use abroad. The chassis was produced at the Rolls-Royce Crewe factory and shared many components with the standard R type. R-Type Continentals were delivered as rolling chassis to the coachbuilder of choice. Coachwork for most of these cars was completed by H. J. Mulliner & Co. who mainly built them in fastback coupe form. Other coachwork came from Park Ward (London) who built six, later including a drophead coupe version. Franay (Paris) built five, Graber (Wichtrach, Switzerland) built three, one of them later altered by Köng (Basel, Switzerland), and Pininfarina made one. James Young (London) built in 1954 a Sports Saloon for the owner of the company, James Barclay. After July 1954, the car was fitted with an engine with a larger bore of 94.62 mm, giving a total displacement of 4887 cc. The rarity of the R Type Continental, with just 208 built, has made the car valuable to car collectors. In 2015 a 1952 R Type Continental, in unrestored condition, sold for over $1 million USD.

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Another well known car, this is the first Morris Mini Minor off the line in Cowley in April 1959. It was kept for posterity and has always been owned by BMC and its successors, although it wasn’t registered until 1983.

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The Jaguar E-type created a sensation when it was launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1961. Here was a beautiful sports car with the promise of a top speed of 150 mph, available for little more than £2,000 in the home market. The open car was the work of aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer and was derived from his D-type racing car. However, Sir William Lyons insisted that there should also be a fixed-head coupé version of the car. This design was created by Bob Blake, and became Sir William’s favourite E-type. In mechanical terms, the E-type continued to use the three-carburettor 3.8 litre XK engine with a 9:1 compression ratio and 265 bhp (gross) which had been introduced in the XK150 3.8S model. Similarly, the four wheel disc brake system was by now an established Jaguar feature. New was Bob Knight’s independent coil spring rear suspension, and while the body was basically of monocoque construction, it had a front subframe for the engine. At launch, the E-type coupé cost £2,197 but by 1963, with a reduction in Purchase Tax, this had actually come down to £1,913. While the top speed of the original press car 9600 HP on test with The Autocar in 1961 had been measured as 150 mph, few standard production cars would reach the magic figure – but they came close! From 1961 to 1964, Jaguar made 7,671 3.8 litre coupés, of which 1,799 had right-hand drive, and 1,559 were sold in the home market, where the coupé was more popular than the open two-seater. This car was built on 8 October 1963 and was originally finished in Opalescent Silver Blue with Dark Blue interior trim. It was sold in London, with an original registration mark of GS 55 but was later re-registered under 410 PE before finally being allocated the age-related mark YKE 374A. Although the mileage of 61,000 is believed genuine, it was completely restored in previous ownership and was then re-finished in Red with Biscuit trim. It was bought by Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust in January 2003.

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Newest car in this gallery was this imposing Rolls Royce Phantom, the vehicle of choice for the rich and famous who like to arrive in style. The Phantom was the first all-new Rolls-Royce introduced after BMW bought the company, and this is an early example donated to the Heritage Motor Centre by its manufacturer. Note that the Spirit of Ecstasy is not visible as it retracts into the radiator grille when the ignition is switched off, and also the huge wheels, the largest ever fitted to any production car.

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This part of the museum was not changed during the latest revamp. The Time Road is around the outer edge of the museum, and is two cars wide, with an array of cars displayed in chronological order, starting with the dawn of motoring and ending with the sort of cars that were on the roads in the 1980s. Some of the cars from the collection seem to be pretty much a permanent fixture in this display, whereas others get swapped in and out. Although the majority of the cars showcased here are from marques that ultimately ended up in the British Leyland empire, some of them, especially the more recent ones, are from other British marques that played their part in the evolution of the car and our motoring heritage.

This 1899 Wolseley 3½hp Voiturette was the third model Wolseley made by Herbert Austin who later left the company to form his own business, Austin Cars. It has a single cylinder, 1300cc engine producing 4bhp and had a top speed of 20mph (32km/h) – quite fast in its day.

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Towering above many other vehicles of the period is this 1902 Albion A1 Dogcart. Albion was founded in 1899, building cars up until 1915. After WW1 (1914-18) the firm concentrated on commercial vehicles (lorries and buses) and became part of Leyland in 1951. The Albion Dogcart was first manufactured in 1900. It has a flat-twin 2.1 litre 8hp engine and ran on solid tyres. Later models had a range of larger engines, culminating with a 3.1 litre 4-cylinder unit by the outbreak of WW1.

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The roots of the British Daimler Company derived from the founder of the German Daimler company. Although the two organisations were quite separate from the turn of the 19th century, both owe their existence to one man. Gottlieb Daimler had been experimenting with internal combustion engines from 1872 when he became Technical Director for Doktor N.A. Otto in Germany. Ten years later, Daimler continued his pioneering work at Cannstatt where he was joined by Wilhelm Maybach. During this time, Daimler was taking out patents on his new engines before using one to power his first motor carriage in 1886. A British engineer called Frederick Simms was able to buy the patent rights for the British Empire (except Canada) and formed the Daimler Motor Syndicate Limited in London in 1893. The company was to manufacture Daimler engines in Britain and later, in 1895, became the Daimler Motor Company Limited and progressed to the manufacture of complete cars. At that time, motorists would often purchase a chassis which would be sent to a coachbuilder for the body to be built and fitted. This explains, in part, why there can be so many variations of bodies built on the same chassis. Thus the 35 horsepower open tourer car in the Trust’s Collection has a four seat tonneau body, possibly built by Daimler, whilst King Edward VII took delivery of a landaulette on a similar chassis in 1907. By the time these cars were built, the company employed more than 2,000 people and was earning nearly £200,000 a year in profits. This particular Daimler TP35, with its 8.5 litre four cylinder engine, was originally a Daimler works car, a sister to the one which famously set the ‘Fastest Time Of Day’ in the very first hill climb at Shelsley Walsh in 1905, driven by Ernest Instone, General Manager of Daimler. It has a works number plate DU 541. After several decades languishing at the Daimler factory, it was suggested in 1955 that Rupert Instone, Ernest’s son, should run the old Daimler at the Shelsley Walsh Jubilee meeting that autumn. It was in poor condition but it did manage the drive from Coventry to Shelsley and up the hill. After this it was tidied up and went initially to the motor museum at Beaulieu before coming to the Coventry Art Gallery and Museum (the precursor to today’s Coventry Transport Museum) in 1967. It was rebuilt during the 1970s under the supervision of Mike Bullivant and had another outing to Shelsley Walsh in 1979 where it was driven up the hill by the famous Bill Boddy, editor of MotorSport magazine from 1936 to 1991. The car was eventually acquired by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust in 1997, since when it has been kept in good running order and tackled Shelsley Walsh again in 2018.

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Dating from 1924 was this Trojan, a somewhat.eccentric design which was conceived to be cheap. It also proved to be long lived. Designed in 1913 by Leslie Houndsfield the final version were still in production after the second World War. Between 1923-28 Trojans were made under agreement by Leyland at their Kingston-on-Thames factory were in the region of 15000 were produced. The car was powered by a two stroke twin engine housed beneath the front seat, with an epicyclic gearbox. Final drive was by chain to the solid rear axle, it has a transmission hand brake and foot brake activated on a drum in the nearside rear wheel. The punt like chassis frame is suspended on flexible cantilever springs which according to Houndsfield rendered pneumatic tyres unnecessary, so Trojans ran on solid tyres. Sold with the slogan Can You Afford To Walk (Trojans claim that the car was more frugal than the cost of boot leather and socks) this 1924 example was priced at £ 175 new. *The engine size was quoted as 1527cc on this car and 1498cc on later ones (1925 onwards), however according to the DVLA this car has an engine of 1141cc.

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This is a 1934 Standard 10-12 Speedline The Speed range was introduced at the 1934 British Motor Show to supplement the normal model range and were produced until 1936 when the model was replaced by the more aerodynamic Flying Standard. There were three cars which shared the same strengthened 10hp chassis. They used the 12hp 1.5 litre engine with a higher gear ratio, knock-on hub caps and a high compression aluminium cylinder head fed by twin carburettors. The body was streamlined as per the trend and as such this model was the forerunner of the Flying Standards. During WW2 this car was painted black and used as a Police car.

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Although pre-war MG is best known for its sports cars, the Abingdon marque did head up market in the late 1930s, producing a range of cars which were aimed at competing with the emerging Jaguar saloons, and there were examples here of the first of the three series that resulted, the SA. The SA Saloon was launched as the 2 litre, and only later became known as the SA. The car had been originally planned as an advanced performance saloon to rival the likes of SS Cars (later to be known as Jaguar) and even Bentley with all independent suspension and was given the factory code of EX150 and designated the S-type. A prototype was made but with the amalgamation of MG with Morris Motors in 1935, development stopped. The Cowley drawing office picked up the project again but a much more conservative car appeared with conventional live rear and beam front axles. The SA used a tuned version of the six cylinder 2062cc Morris QPHG engine which it shared with the Wolseley Super Six but enlarged to 2288cc. The capacity was increased again to 2322cc in 1937 bringing it into line with the Wolseley 18. This was a tall engine and to allow the bonnet line to be as low as possible the twin SU carburettors had their dashpots mounted horizontally. Drive was to the live rear axle via a four speed manual gearbox with synchromesh on the top two ratios (on all but a few early models). Wire wheels were fitted and the drum brakes were hydraulically operated using a Lockheed system. A built in Jackall jacking system was fitted to the chassis. The saloon body, the only option available at the time of the car’s launch, was made in-house by Morris and was a spacious four door with traditional MG grille flanked by two large chrome plated headlights. The spare wheel was carried on the boot lid. Inside there were individual seats in front and a bench seat at the rear, all with leather covering. Much use was made of walnut for the dashboard and other trim items. A Philco radio was offered as an optional extra for 18 Guineas (£18.90). From April 1936 a Tickford drophead coupé by Salmons joined the range priced at £398, the saloon was £375, and in July coachbuilders Charlesworth offered a four door tourer at £375. The tourer originally had straight topped doors but these were replaced with front ones with cutaway tops from 1938 and at the same time the spare wheel moved to the front wing. Of the 2739 cars made, 350 were exported with Germany proving the best market. Quite a few have survived, though many are in need of restoration, and that is a costly business, as this was a complex car, and values of the car do not (yet) make this financially justifiable, which is a pity, as this is a supremely elegant car.

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This is a 1937 Wolseley 14/56 Police car. The 26th June 1936 saw the introduction of the Series II – 14/56 Saloon, replacing the earlier ‘New Fourteen‘, along with a Salon de Ville variant being introduced later in September 1936. The 14/56 became one of the most popular models to be produced with approximately 15,000 during the short life of the Series II. Unlike the Morris equivalent at the time, the Wolseley 14/56 featured overhead valve engine and four-speed gearbox, along with ‘Easiclean’ steel-pressed wheels. The ‘Jackall’ system was also available, whereby a hand pumped hydraulic system could be used to raise the front, rear, or all of the wheels off the ground. As with other Series II cars, the simple distinction between the later Series III 14/60 introduced on 27th September 1938 are that of the bonnet louvres, there being four horizontal along each side for the Series II.

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The Ford Popular 103E differed visually from the Anglia E494E in having smaller headlights and a lack of trim on the side of the bonnet. Early 103Es had the three spoke banjo type Anglia/Prefect steering wheel as stocks of these were used up, but most have a two spoke wheel similar to the 100E wheel but in brown. Early Populars also had the single centrally mounted tail/stop-lamp of the Anglia, but this changed to a two tail/stop lamp set up with the lamps mounted on the mudguards and a separate number plate lamp. This car proved successful because, while on paper it was a sensible alternative to a clean, late-model used car, in practice there were no clean late-model used cars available in postwar Britain owing to the six-year halt in production caused by the Second World War. This problem was compounded by stringent export quotas that made obtaining a new car in the late 1940s and into the early 1950s difficult, and covenants forbidding new-car buyers from selling for up to three years after delivery. Unless the purchaser could pay the extra £100 or so for an Anglia 100E, Austin A30 or Morris Minor, the choice was the Popular or a pre-war car. 155,340 Populars were produced.

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The 1949 Rover 75 P4 ‘Cyclops’ was the brand’s first all-new model after the war, replacing the P3 which had been a carry-over. This first model of the P4 cars had an extra headlight fitted to the centre of the grill, hence the nickname ‘Cyclops’. The extra light was omitted from 1952 onwards. The ’75’ number related to the engine’s horsepower output.

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NWL 576 was the very first production Morris Minor. It was re-acquired by Morris Motors in 1960 as a result of a competition to celebrate the production of the millionth Minor by finding the oldest still in use, which turned out to be the oldest of all and its owner was given a brand new Minor Million in exchange.

The Triumph Mayflower was a four-seat ​1 1⁄4-litre small luxury car noted for its razor-edge styling. It was built by the Standard Motor Company and sold by Standard’s subsidiary, The Triumph Motor Company (1945). It was announced at the October 1949 British International Motor Show, but deliveries did not commence until the middle of 1950. One of the nine prototype Triumph Mayflower’s, “JWK 612”, was factory tested 5000 miles across Europe in 1950, they used the famous rooftop test track of Impéria Automobiles in Belgium. The Mayflower was manufactured from 1949 until 1953. The Mayflower’s “upscale small car” position did not find a ready market, and sales of 35,000 units did not meet Standard’s expectations. The company’s next small car, the Standard Eight of 1953, was a basic 0.8-litre economy car.

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Replacing the Mayflower was the Standard Eight. Launched in 1953, the Eight was a completely new car with unit construction and the new Standard SC overhead valve engine. It was offered only as a 4-door saloon. The new engine of 803 cc produced slightly less power than the outgoing larger sidevalve unit with 26 bhp at 4500 rpm but this was increased to 30 bhp at 5000 rpm in 1957. The 4-speed gearbox, with synchromesh on the top three ratios, was available with optional overdrive from March 1957. Girling hydraulic drum brakes were fitted. To keep prices down, the car at launch was very basic with sliding windows, single windscreen wiper and no external boot lid. Access to the boot was by folding down the rear seat, which had the backrest divided in two (an innovation copied in saloons from late 1980s onward to extend their boot-space into the passenger-compartment). The 1954 De luxe got wind up windows and the Gold Star model of 1957 an opening boot lid. From mid-1955 all the Eights finally got wind up windows. At launch the car cost £481 including taxes on the home market. The Standard Ten of 1954 shared the bodyshell and running gear but was more powerful and not quite so basic and would outlast the Eight by continuing until 1961.

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The 1958 MG Magnette ZB was a desirable sports saloon of the period, though if you were feeling unkind, you could describe it as a bit of a BMC kit car – they had a Wolseley body and an Austin engine. However, the use of rack and pinion steering was certainly not normal Austin practice nor was the wood and leather interior trim. The ZA was produced from 1953-56, the ZB replacement being made from 1956-58. The last Magnettes were the MkIII and MkIV models from 1959-68, based on the more modern Farina body style.

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In October 1956, Austin Motor Company obtained permission from American Motors to sell the Metropolitans in overseas countries where AMC did not have a presence. The early brochures for the Austin Metropolitans used a reversed photograph to show an apparently right hand drive (RHD) car parked in an English country town (Chipping Campden), because only left hand drive vehicles were available at the time the photos were taken. From December 1956, production of Austin Metropolitans began, and from April 2, 1957, approximately 9,400 additional units were sold in overseas markets that included the United Kingdom. List prices for the UK Series III models were £713 17s 0d for the Hardtop and £725 2s 0d for the Convertible. An estimated 1,200 Metropolitans were sold there in four years, according to several published sources. However one British journalist has estimated the figure at around 5,000 Markedly American, the styling was considered outlandish compared with the more sober British-styled models in the British Motor Corporation lineup. Only Series III and Series IV Metropolitans were produced for sale in the UK. Series III models carried the prefix HD6 (Convertible) or HE6 (Hardtop). Some very early Series III models carried the prefix HNK3H or HNK3HL (L=Left-Hand Drive). The prefix is thought to indicate “Home Nash Kelvinator Series 3 H=1400-1999cc (Metropolitan=1500cc)”. UK Series III sales ran from April 1957 to February 1959. Series IV models, which carried the prefix A-HJ7 (Convertible) or A-HP7 (Hardtop), were sold from September 1960 to February 1961. The Metropolitan was not available for UK sales between February 1959 and September 1960, since all production during that time was for US & Canadian dealers. When sales in the UK resumed they were sold through Austin dealers at listed prices of £707 6s 8d for the Hardtop and £732 2s 6d for the Convertible. Austin was dropped from the name, which now became simply “Metropolitan”, and the cars carried no Austin badges although they had Austin Company chassis plates. Despite this the car remained known, by trade and public alike, as the Austin Metropolitan, often shortened to Austin Metro in common parlance. The ‘Metro’ tag was adopted by BMC (later British Leyland) as a house name, re-emerging in 1980 on the Austin (mini) Metro. In May 1960, Car Mart Ltd. (a large Austin dealership in London, UK) presented Princess Margaret with a specially prepared Metropolitan finished in black with gold trim and gold leather interior as a wedding present. It was stolen in London in February 1961. As a result of low sales, production of the Austin Metropolitan ended in February 1961. An additional two “one-offs” were built in March and April, after serial Metropolitan production ended. Total Austin Metropolitan production has been estimated at between 9,384 and 9,391 cars.

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By the mid 1950s, the BMC organisation was well established, and it dominated the UK market with a 39% share. Plans were made for a complete new range of cars that would encompass all the marques: Austin, Morris, MG, Riley and Wolseley. Italian stylist Pininfarina was commissioned to design them. The first model to appear was the A40 which was launched in October 1958 at the London Motor Show. Although it is frequently referred to as the A40 Farina, it was only ever badged as the A40. It was only ever sold with Austin badging. At a time when Turin auto-design studios were, for the most part, consulted only by builders of expensive “exotic” cars, Austin made much of the car’s Italian styling, with both “Pinin” Farina and his son Sergio being present at the car’s UK launch. As would become apparent in later years, the car was something of a scaled-down version of the forthcoming Austin Cambridge and Morris Oxford, but without an extended boot. The A40 Farina was intended to replace the Austin A35, from which it inherited much of its running gear, and was a capacious thoroughly modern small car, with a brand new distinctive “two box” shape and generous headroom in the back seat. It was a saloon, the lower rear panel dropped like a then conventional bootlid, the rear window remaining fixed. The Countryman hatchback appeared exactly a year later in October 1959, and differed from the saloon in that the rear window was marginally smaller, to allow for a frame that could be lifted up, with its own support, while the lower panel was now flush with the floor and its hinges had been strengthened It was effectively a very small estate car with a horizontally split tailgate having a top-hinged upper door and bottom-hinged lower door. October 1959 also saw the standardisation on both cars of self-cancelling indicators and the provision of a centre interior light and, in early summer 1960, a flat lid was added over the spare wheel in the rear luggage compartment. At launch the car shared the 948 cc A-Series straight-4 used in other Austins including its A35 predecessor. The suspension was independent at the front using coil springs with a live axle and semi elliptic leaf springs at the rear. The drum brakes were a hybrid (hydromech) arrangement, hydraulically operated at the front but cable actuated at the rear. The front drums at 8 in were slightly larger than the 7 in rears. Cam and peg steering was fitted. Individual seats were fitted in the front, with a bench at the rear that could fold down to increase luggage capacity. The trim material was a vinyl treated fabric. Options included a heater, radio, windscreen washers and white-wall tyres. The gearchange lever was floor-mounted with the handbrake between the seats. The door windows were not opened by conventional winders, but pulled up and down using finger grips; a window lock position was on the door handle. A Series 2 version of the car appeared in 1962, and continued for 5 more years. The car seen here was a Series 1 model.

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This Austin 1100 has the rare 4 speed Automotive Products automatic gearbox fitted. Second of the Issigonis trio of space efficient front wheel drives was the ADO16 family of cars, which was first seen in August 1962 as the Morris 1100. A four door saloon, with styling that had been influenced by Pininfarina, this car applied the same principles as had been seen in the Mini of three years earlier, but in a larger package, creating plenty of space for 4 or even 5 adults and with more luggage room. Power came from a 1098cc version of the proven A Series engine, which gave it a lively (for the time!) performance and the combination of a long wheelbase and innovative hydrolastic suspension gave it a particularly comfortable ride. A sporting MG model, with twin carburettors was added to the range before the year was out. In 1963 an Austin model appeared, identical to the Morris in all but grille and tail end treatment, and then Wolseley, Riley and even Vanden Plas models were added to the range in 1965 and 1966, as well as Countryman and Traveller estate versions of the Austin and Morris. Revised Mark 2 cars were launched in the autumn of 1967, at which point the 1275cc engine was offered across the range and 2 door saloon versions of the car were finally made available. It would dominate Britain’s sales charts for the rest of the decade, with a number of other revisions before the disappearance of the Riley Kestrel in 1969, the arrival of the 1300 GT cars and then the launch in 1971 of Mark 3 cars by which time the range was pruned to allow for the new Morris Marina to take over. Production finally ceased in 1974.

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This Reliant Regal Van dates from 1970. The first Regal, a three-wheeled passenger car appeared in 1952. The most significant advance came in 1962 with the Regal 3/25 introduced with a monocoque construction made entirely of glass fibre and a new Reliant 600cc later updated to 700cc in August 1968. it is the van version, the Supervan III that was immortalised by Del Boy in the long running TV comedy Only Fools and Horses. When the Morris Minor van was reaching the end of production the Royal Mail investigated a number of likely replacements for its delivery fleet. In 1970 50 Supervan III’s entered service on trial basis, although the model was not finally selected.

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Known internally at Rootes as the “Apex” project, the Imp was to be the group’s first post-Second World War small car. Its main rival on the home market was the BMC Mini, which preceded the Imp by almost four years. Launched in May 1963, much was expected of this promising small car, which was all-new and which was built in a new factory in Linwood in Scotland, far away from the rest of the Rootes Group’s facilities in the Coventry area. Conceived as a direct competitor to the BMC’s Mini, it adopted a different approach to packaging, with a space-saving rear-engine and rear-wheel-drive layout to allow as much luggage and passenger capacity as possible in both the rear and the front of the car. It used a unique opening rear hatch to allow luggage to be put into the back seat rest. In addition to its 875 cc all-aluminium power unit, adapted by Rootes from a Coventry Climax FWMA fire pump engine it was the first mass-produced British car to have an engine in the back and the first car to use a diaphragm spring clutch. The baulk-ring synchromesh unit for the transaxle compensated for the speeds of gear and shaft before engagement, which the Mini had suffered from during its early production years. It incorporated many design features which were uncommon in cars until the late 1970s such as a folding rear bench seat, automatic choke and gauges for temperature, voltage and oil pressure. At launch it was considered advanced for the time, but reliability problems quickly harmed its reputation, which led to the Rootes Group being taken over by Chrysler Europe in 1967. Over the life of the car, Rootes (and later Chrysler UK) produced four body styles. The original saloon was introduced in May 1963 and ran through to the end of production in 1976. It has an opening rear window, making it effectively a hatchback. The opening rear window was intended to make it easier to load the small luggage area behind the fold-down rear seat. The fold-down nature of the rear seat was itself unusual in small car design at the time, being more often associated with larger upmarket estate cars. In 1965 a van badged as the “Commer Imp” was introduced. A coupe, the Imp Californian, was introduced in 1967 at the same time as the van’s pressings were used to create an estate car, badged “Hillman Husky”. Several estate car prototypes using the saloon body with extended rooflines were tried, but never offered to the public. Instead, buyers choosing the estate had to settle for a van-derived car with somewhat unusual styling. Both the van and estate ceased production in 1970. In an attempt to interest a wider public when sales figures fell well short of the intended 100,000 cars per annum, several badge-engineered derivatives, such as the luxury Singer Chamois (launched October 1964), and the Sunbeam Sport (launched October 1966), with a more powerful twin-carburettor engine, were offered with varying degrees of success. For marketing reasons the Singer variants were sold as Sunbeams in many export markets, even before May 1970 when the Singer marque was discontinued altogether by Chrysler UK. In some markets, such as France, the “Sunbeam” name was used on all British Rootes products, including the Imp and the Husky.The coupe bodyshell is similar to the standard body but features a more shallow-raked windscreen and rear window which, unlike that on the standard bodied cars, can not be opened. The attempt at a more sporty design did not translate into better acceleration or top speed figures and the aerodynamics of the standard saloon are actually slightly better. The new body style made its first appearance at the Paris Motor Show in October 1967, with the introduction of the sporting Sunbeam Stiletto. The coupe body had also appeared, with less powerful engines, in the Hillman Imp Californian announced in January 1967 and the more luxurious Singer Chamois coupe. Production continued to 1976, and around 440,00 units were sold, a far cry from the figures achieved by the Mini, which sold at about 10 times that rate. Seen here was a 1969 Imp Super.

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Following the success of the Scimitar GT Coupe, Reliant looked as to how to evolve the car and Tom Karen of Ogle was asked to submit some body designs based on the Ogle Design GTS estate car experiment for a new four seater Scimitar, the SE5 Reliant Scimitar. Managing Director Ray Wiggin, Chief Engineer John Crosthwaite and fibreglass body expert Ken Wood went to Ogle’s in Letchworth to look at a couple of mock-up body designs for the new SE5. Wiggin told Wood to go ahead and do a proper master. The SE5 was conceived and ready for the 1968 Motor Show in under 12 months. For the SE5 John Crosthwaite and his team designed a completely different longer chassis frame, revised and improved suspension, new and relocated fuel tank, a rollover bar, new cooling system, spare wheel mounted in the nose to give increased rear space and a 17 1⁄4 gallon) fuel tank. When designing the chassis Crosthwaite worked closely with Ogle body stylist Peter Bailey to modify and refine the prototype. The SE5 came with the same 3.0 litre Ford Essex engine used in the SE4a/b. This gave the SE5 a claimed top speed of over 120 mph. A Borg-Warner automatic transmission was added as an option in 1970 and by 1971, overdrive on the 4-speed manual was offered. In 1972 several improvements were included in the upgrade to SE5A, including a boost in power. The extra 7 hp and maximum engine speed raised performance quite a bit and the GTE was now capable of 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds and top speed was raised to 121 mph. The SE5’s flat dashboard also gave way to a curved and moulded plastic one. The 5a can be recognised from a 5 at the rear by the reverse lamps which are below the bumper on the earlier model and are incorporated into the rear clusters on the later version (these were also carried over onto the SE6 and later). 4311 SE5s were produced. It was an instant success; GT production was cut down and the proportion of GTEs to GTs being built was four-to-one. Reliant increased their volume by 20 per cent in the first year. The 5A model sold more than any other Scimitar, with 5105 manufactured. Princess Anne was given a manual overdrive SE5 as a joint 20th birthday present and Christmas present in November 1970 by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. It was Air Force blue in colour with a grey leather interior and registered 1420 H in recognition of her position as Colonel-in-Chief of the 14th/20th Hussars. Princess Anne subsequently owned eight other GTEs.

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This fine example of a BL Wedge is actually the very last in a long line of cars to bear the Wolseley name. The 18-22 range was launched at the end of March 1975 with Austin, Morris and Wolseley badges, but barely six months later the separate versions were dropped and all models became known as Princess, the Wolseley name being a casualty of this decision. Unlike the Allegro, Harris Mann’s design made it into production with few changes and although widely derided it was a brave effort to do something different; the lack of a hatchback was an unwise decision by the management though. The Wolseley was the top of the line and had the 2.2 litre 6 cylinder E Series engine to power it and plusher trim than in the Austin and Morris versions.

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Part of the pilot build batch, this top-of-the-range Austin Metro HLS model was displayed on the Austin-Rover stand at the 1980 British Motor Show where the Metro was launched to critical acclaim. It has never been registered and has spent most of its life in the Gaydon collection.

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This Ford Cortina 2.0 Ghia is one of the last examples of the car which had been Britain’s best seller for more than a decade. The car regularly took early 15% of the market – quite unthinkable in this day and age.

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The rest of the layout has changed quite significantly. There are three large groupings of cars, arranged in a circle, each corresponding to a theme, as the core of what is on show, along with plenty of other cars, artefacts and memorabilia in smaller sections. So although a lot of the vehicles displayed may be familiar from previous visits, the way they are presented is new.


For many people, this will be one of the most interesting parts of the museum, as rather than comprising cars that were once familiar on our roads, these are the one-offs, prototypes and concepts that never made it to production, the existence of most of which was unknown to all bar a handful of people at the time these vehicles were constructed.

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The A30 was introduced as a Saloon at the 1951 Earls Court (London) Motor Show. It heralded it was the first Austin to receive the new OHV engine that would become known as the BMC A series. It was also the first Austin of unitary construction. This hand built Convertible was produced as a prototype in 1952 differing from the Saloon in having very deep sills to add rigidity and a much larger boot extending to the two seats. The side vents are a later addition and originate from an Austin A70. The design never entered production.

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This pretty little thing is possibly one of BMC’s greatest missed opportunities. It is the Longbridge version of ADO34, which was active between 1960 and 1964 that aimed to possibly develop a front-wheel drive Mini-based roadster as a possible new MG Midget or Austin-Healey Sprite. Following the launch of the MG Midget in 1961, it was considered as a possible MG Midget or Austin Healey Sprite replacement. The project was cancelled in about 1964. In 1965 Peugeot released the 204 Cabriolet, also styled by Pininfarina and featuring strong visual similarities to the ADO34, especially at the near-identical rear. The 204’s transverse engined, front-wheel drive configuration (a new approach for Peugeot) was also BMC-inspired. Sadly the project was cancelled, along with the related ADO35 coupe and ADO36 Austin-Healey version, and it wasn’t until 30 years later that the Lotus Elan became the first production front-wheel-drive sports car.

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This is an Austin Ant, a small four wheel drive vehicle designed by Sir Alec Issigonis. Widely regarded as a military vehicle it was also designed for civilian usage. It’s military role was intended to be as a replacement for the military version Mini Moke. The project was cancelled before full scale production in 1968 as part of the rationalisation of the British Leyland conglomerate, following their merger with BMC it was felt the Ant overlapped the role of the Land Rover. The Ant was powered by a transversely mounted BMC A series engine, canted over to allow greater ground clearance.

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The Mini Moke was never a success in military service due to its low ground clearance and two-wheel-drive. BMC’s rather unorthodox solution to the latter problem was to install another front subframe complete with A-series engine in the back with its steering locked, this creating the Twini Moke. Each engine has its own gearbox but both are controlled by the same clutch; there are two gearlevers so it is theoretically possible to put each engine in a different gear! The cost and complexity meant the prototype remained unique, although Citroen used a similar system in the 2CV Sahara.

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The BMC 9X was undoubtedly Alec Issigonis’s greatest achievement and surely concrete proof of his genius as it was so far ahead of its time. It was developed as a potential replacement for the Mini and managed the impossible in being even smaller and lighter but more spacious, thanks in part to an all-new 850cc four-cylinder engine. It had a hatchback body and this prototype was built in 1969, thus predating the similar-looking Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 104, but sadly due to a combination of factors was never approved for production and only escaped destruction thanks to the personal intervention of its creator.

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This 1971 Crompton Leyland Electricar has now returned to Gaydon after being on loan to other museums. This prototype electric city car is based on Mini running gear and was styled by Michelotti and built as a joint venture between British Leyland and electric vehicle specialist Crompton Electricars. It was never intended for production, being judged not to be viable for the usual reason: the weight and expense of the battery pack.

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Developed by Roy Axe and Gerry McGovern and inspired by the Ferrari 308, the mid-engined MG EX-E was presented as a concept at the 1985 Frankfurt Motor Show to generate interest in the MG brand but never led to a production car. It survives in the Gaydon collection and the styling has aged well, bearing a striking similarity to the Honda NSX, but it is sadly only an engineless fibreglass mockup and no running version was ever built.

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The Triumph TR7 was always intended to have a fastback coupe version which had the code name Lynx. The Lynx concept had fallen well behind the TR7 due to constant changes, with the TR7 being launched alone in 1975. This is thought to be the last of the 18 Lynx prototypes produced. The Lynx has a lengthened wheelbase to enable rear seats to be fitted and the TR7 panels were redesigned to give a different side aspect. Fitted with a Rover V8 engine with this example having Lucas electronic fuel injection. Seen as a would be successor to the Stag which was discontinued in 1977 but BL were losing interest in the sports car market and the project was shelved.

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This Rover SD1 estate is one of two that were built. The other car is displayed at the Haynes Museum, and sports a different rear end treatment. This car was conceived to replace the very popular large Triumph cars, and although Sir Michael Edwards, then Chairman of BL drove one for a while, the SD1 was never put into production. It would surely have done well, as there were few competitors on the market at the time.

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When Rover took over control of Alvis in 1965 plans were made to revive Alvis car production It was decided that Rover would design a fast sports car for assembly by Alvis. The P6BS was a project by Spen King and Gordon Bashford the code P6 is because it incorporates a chassis from the Rover 2000 range while BS stands for Buick Sports from the Buick derived V8 engine. The Rover V8 engine is slightly offset to allow a single seat to be mounted in the back, there is a good boot space and all round visibility. The roof panels are removable. The project was cancelled in 1968 following the British Leyland rationalisation programme. This is the only surviving prototype.

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Rover’s gas turbine experimental programme stemmed from the 1950 JET 1 (now in the Science Museum) which achieved 150 mph in sped tests. The T3 was the third gas turbine car designed by Spencer king and Gordon Bashford. The turbine is rear mounted and the car incorporates four wheel drive and De Dion rear suspension. The turbine has a centrifugal compressor which rotates at up to 52,000 rpm. The car is fitted with all round disc brakes. The Achilles heal of the gas turbine is fuel consumption and although this is a perfectly practical road car, it has a paraffin fuel consumption of 13/14 mpg at very best.

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This the fourth and last of the Rover Gas Turbine project cars, although in 1963 they produced a Le Mans car in co-operation with BRM. They also produced a small number of experimental gas turbine lorries between 1968-69 in co-operation with Leyland. The T4 is based on the Rover 2000 prototype, unveiled two years ahead of the Rover 2000. The Turbine drives the front wheels. Fuel consumption (Kerosene) is in the region of 16-20mpg. Rover claimed the T4 could have been put in production in three years at a price of around £3000-4000 at a time when the most expensive Rover in production cost £1948.

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Rover’s final gas turbine car was this Le Mans racer based on the chassis of a crashed 1962 BRM Formula 1 car. It first ran at the 1963 race with an open-top body and was classed as an experimental vehicle outside the main entry. For the following year it gained its current body designed by William Towns, but was withdrawn from the race due to lack of testing time, and its only competitive outing was in 1965, when it finished an impressive tenth overall despite damage to the turbine.

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This display is more of a semi-circle than a complete circle, and comprises a number of historically significant Jaguar models, mostly with a sporting connection. Not officially part of the collection, these all belong to the Jaguar-Daimler Heritage Trust. Ever since the closure of the small museum at the former Browns Lane factory, there is no publically accessible display location for the more than 300 cars that they own, so in the interests of making some of them available for the public to enjoy, there are a number on show in the Coventry Museum and some more of them here.

This XK 120, more than any other, was the car that established Jaguar’s motor sport credentials. Though neither the first nor the last of the competition XK120s, NUB 120 was by far the most successful of the breed. Unlike most other competition cars in the Jaguar Collection, NUB 120 was not a works car, but was privately owned and campaigned by Ian Appleyard, with his wife Patricia, William Lyons’ daughter, acting as navigator. It missed victory in its first ever event, the 1950 Tulip Rally in Holland, by one quarter of an inch. Appleyard did not make the same mistake again, entering the 1950 Alpine Rally and winning a Coupe des Alpes. The following year, Appleyard and NUB 120 repeated their success in the Alpine Rally and added the RAC Rally and the elusive Tulip Rally to their string of victories. Despite failing to win the Alpine Rally outright in 1952, the third consecutive run, without incurring a single penalty point, earned the first ever Gold Cup for the car! The secret of the XK 120s competition success was its extremely rugged chassis, the extraordinary reliability of its then new 3.4-litre, twin-cam engine and the light weight of its all-alloy bodywork (later production cars were built from steel). Its only weakness was its brakes, with heavy wear rates and susceptibility to fade, which almost proved the undoing of the Appleyards on many occasions during their time together. At the end of its active career in 1953, NUB 120 came back to Jaguar and has been with us ever since. Ian Appleyard replaced it with a new XK 120, registered RUB 120. Today NUB 120 is maintained in full working order and can often be seen at classic car events supporting the marque whose reputation it did so much to establish.

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This C-type – chassis XKC045, registered as NDU 289 when built in 1953, is one of the later production cars, and unlike the 1953 Works cars which had the new disc brakes, it was still fitted with SU carburettors and drum brakes. It was sold as a Personal Export Delivery to the Italian driver Mario Tadini who entered it in the 1953 Mille Miglia. Tadini had been racing in the Mille Miglia since 1930 with his highest previous finish as a 2nd place. Sadly he and his co-driver Pietro Cagnana did not finish. Mario Tadini who was one of the major investors in the most famous team in motor racing history – Scuderia Ferrari. This was conceived by chance over dinner on November 16 1929. The idea was to form an organisation to run wealthy enthusiasts under the stewardship of sometime racer Enzo Ferrari. Textile heirs Augusto and Alfredo Caniato backed the scheme along with Tadini whose money came from a chain of clothes shops he owned in Bologna. In mid 1954 NDU 289 was sold to Ivo Badaracco in Switzerland and he drove it in the 1954 Swiss Grand Prix (he had driven an XK120 in the same race in 1953) where he finished 3rd. After many years in Switzerland, it came back to the UK in the 1970s and was bought for the JDHT in 1983. The C-type brought Jaguar its first victory in the Le Mans 24-hour race. The XK120 had demonstrated its abilities in racing, by finishing twelfth in the 1950 Le Mans driven by Leslie Johnson. It was clear that the company had the makings of a world-beater, so chief engineer William Heynes set to work to create a competition version – the XK120C, or C-type, primarily for the Le Mans race. Using the XK120’s proven engine, transmission and front suspension, Heynes devised a more rigid, lightweight tubular chassis. This was fitted with a handsome wind-cheating aluminium body, designed by Malcolm Sayer, the ex-Bristol aerodynamicist. The engine was tuned to 260 bhp, the brakes were improved, and the rear suspension now used transverse torsion bars. The first cars were ready in the spring of 1951. Almost immediately, three cars were entered at Le Mans. During the race two cars retired but the third, driven by Whitehead and Walker, won at an average speed of 93 mph (150 km/h). The C-type body was modified for the 1952 race, but all the team cars retired with cooling problems. For the 1953 race Jaguar reverted to the original body design, and fitted the cars with the revolutionary Dunlop disc brakes. The three cars entered finished first, second and fourth. The winners, Rolt and Hamilton, averaged a speed of over 100 mph (161 km/h) for the first time in the history of the Le Mans race. Although the C-type was a hand-built machine, it was listed in Jaguar’s sales catalogue (at a price of £2,327), and of the 53 cars built, 43 were sold to private owners.

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Even among D-types this is a unique car. It is the factory prototype for the machine which set the seal on the Jaguar Le Mans legend, culminating in a hat-trick of victories from 1955 to 1957. With its advanced monocoque construction and beautiful low-drag body, it maximised the potential of the XK engine, offering over 170 mph while remaining tractable enough to be driven on the road. Indeed the works cars were driven from Coventry to Dover, onto the ferry, and then down the main roads to the French circuit. Although the C-type had decisively beaten Europe’s best at Le Mans in 1951 and 1953, the threat from Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari made it clear to Jaguar Team Manager “Lofty” England and engineer Bill Heynes that they needed a new car. This was the result – stronger, lighter and faster than the C-type, yet powered by a 270 bhp development of the same XK engine. This meant that private owners could easily buy and maintain these cars, which provided a useful back-up to the works team. This prototype was completed in May 1954, and immediately travelled to France for a Le Mans test session where Jaguar works driver Tony Rolt broke the lap record by five clear seconds. Back at Coventry, it was used for more development work, while a further three D-types were built for the race itself. In the event fuel contamination sidelined two cars, but the third finished a close second after a Ferrari. Victories at Reims and Sebring were a promising pointer for the following year, when Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb won Le Mans – Jaguar’s third victory. In 1956, two works cars crashed and one suffered engine failure, but the honours fell to another D-type of the private Ecurie Ecosse team. In 1957, Ecurie Ecosse brought Jaguar’s total to five Le Mans wins, three of them for the D-type – a world beating sports-racing car, which you could buy from a Jaguar dealer and drive home.

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There’s only one Jaguar XJ13 in the world and this is it. Built as a potential Le Mans contender, it never competed in any race. Its development inevitably had to take second place to that of the much more important new saloon car which became the XJ6, launched in 1968. By the time XJ13 was completed, its design had become obsolete against new cars from Ferrari and Ford, never mind the Porsche 917. Anyway, the Le Mans regulations were changing, and prototype cars were limited to engines of 3 litres. To run cars with larger engines, manufacturers had to build fifty examples as production cars (later reduced to twenty-five). This did not stop XJ13 from being one of the most beautiful racing cars of all time, thanks to the talent of aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer who had also been responsible for the C-type and D-type shapes. Nor should anyone doubt the potential of its unique 502 bhp, 5 litre V12 engine. During early testing in 1967, it lapped the MIRA test track at over 161 mph (259 km/h), establishing a lap record in the hands of racing driver David Hobbs, despite the car still being in the development stages. Many of the lessons learned in the development of the racing engine were used in Jaguar’s production V12 engine which would be produced for twenty-five years from 1971 to 1996. There is, however, a twist in the tale of the XJ13. In 1971, having spent four years sitting under a cover in the factory, it was taken out of mothballs and returned to MIRA to be filmed for the E-type V12 launch. With Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis at the wheel, on the final lap after filming, a tyre punctured on the banking, sending the car into the retaining fence, from where it rebounded, to flip end over end twice, before rolling twice and coming to rest on its wheels. Dewis, who had the presence of mind to turn off the ignition, took refuge under the scuttle and escaped unhurt. The bodywork was badly damaged but the car was rebuilt and demonstrated at the British Grand Prix meeting at Silverstone in July 1973. XJ13 is still run today, albeit at less frantic speeds!

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In 1975, Bob Tullius’ Group 44 racing team won seven races, including the Road Atlanta National Finals, and took the SCCA Championship. Although the E-type had been raced in many events right from its introduction in 1961, even in lightweight form the car was not competitive in first-line events such as Le Mans against the new generation of cars from Ferrari, and later Ford and Porsche. However, the E-type was to experience a renaissance late in its career, with the V12-engined Series 3 model. In 1974, Mike Dale of British Leyland Motor Inc, the Jaguar importer in the USA, decided to enter the E-type in the Class B production car championship of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). Two independent companies were chosen to prepare and race the cars, Huffaker of California for the West Coast races, and Group 44 of Virginia for the East Coast races. Group 44 had been founded ten years before by Bob Tullius and Brian Fuerstenau, and had an impressive list of race victories, as well as ten national championships, to their credit. The Huffaker prepared car, driven by Lee Mueller, won its first race at Seattle in August 1974, while at the same time the Group 44 car missed victory at Watkins Glen as the gearlever broke in Bob Tullius’s hand while he was in the lead with three laps to go. However, this initial setback was soon forgotten and the E-types swept all before them for the rest of the season, with Mueller scoring a total of three victories and Tullius five. By 1975, of course, the E-type was out of production, and the stock of cars remaining in the USA had been sold off. Therefore the E-type racing programme was concluded with the 1975 season. Bob Tullius and Group 44 however continued their successful involvement with Jaguar, first in the XJS, and later with the specially-built XJR sports racing cars which in the 1980s contested the American IMSA races, and brought Jaguar back to Le Mans.

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With the re-organisation of British Leyland in 1973, for a time Jaguar Cars Limited disappeared as a company name. Jaguar became simply a part of the Leyland Cars company. No Jaguar had taken part in first-line motor sport in the UK since the E-type and the Mark II faded from the scene in the mid-1960s. In theory, it would boost the image of both Jaguar and Leyland, if a Jaguar were to make a successful comeback in racing. All British Leyland motor sport activities were now centralised, and the company increasingly made use of contractors who took on the preparation of cars, and the management of racing teams. Ralph Broad of Broadspeed had enjoyed a successful run with Triumph Dolomites in British saloon car racing. He had ideas of his own about the possibility of developing the Jaguar V12 engine for a proper racing car, and was therefore chosen to spearhead an attempt to bring a Jaguar back into racing, running the XJ12 coupé version – XJC for short – in the European Touring Car Championship. Development began in 1975, and the car was unveiled in March 1976. Staying within the regulations for the Touring Car Championship, the cars were substantially modified by Broad, and amongst other features, were fitted with a manual gearbox! The cars’ debut came in the Tourist Trophy race at Silverstone in September 1976. Derek Bell led the race for a while, until a driveshaft failed. This was to be the recurring theme throughout the car’s brief career: Always spectacular, often fast, but usually denied the reliability – or luck – needed to stay the course, or to achieve a respectably high finish. The best result was to be a second place for Bell and Andy Rouse at the Nürburgring in 1977. Alas, it was not enough for BL to agree to continue with the project for a further season, although Ralph Broad personally never changed his opinion that with further development, the car would have been a winner.

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This is a Jaguar XJR-5 Group 44 Racer. The return of Jaguar to long-distance sports car racing was begun in the USA. In 1974 and 1975, Bob Tullius of the Group 44 team had successfully run an E-type in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) production car races, with sponsorship from the then British Leyland Motor Inc, the American Jaguar importers which eventually became Jaguar Cars Inc. At Atlanta in 1975, Tullius clinched the national Group B championship. However, the E-type was now out of production, and Tullius switched to the new XJ-S which won him the 1977 and 1978 SCCA Trans-Am championships. While still racing the XJ-S in 1981, Tullius now hatched a plan to develop a mid-engined endurance racer round the proven Jaguar V12 engine, for the IMSA Camel GTP series. The car was designed by Lee Dykstra, previously associated with Ford racing. In its debut race at Elkhart Lake in 1982, the new car came third, but was initially often plagued by minor technical problems or accidents. The first win for Tullius and co-driver Bill Adam came at Road Atlanta in April 1983 with the car on display – chassis 009. This season was to prove the best for the Group 44 car in American racing with a further win for Tullius and Adam in this car at Lime Rock in May. But Tullius had already set his sights on a larger target: The world championship for sports car endurance racing, or to be more precise, the 24-hour race at Le Mans in France. Bearing in mind Jaguar’s past record at Le Mans, with five wins from 1951 to 1957, there was a great deal of emotion attached to a return to this race, especially in 1984, the year that Jaguar achieved independence from the BL company. Although the Le Mans entry arguably compromised Group 44’s chances to win the American championship, the two cars which appeared in the 1984 race were widely welcomed and applauded. Sadly, neither finished, but in 1985, one of the two Group 44 cars finished at Le Mans in thirteenth place, the first time that a Jaguar had finished at Le Mans since 1963. The drivers were Tullius himself, together with Chip Robinson and Claude Ballot-Lena. If not successful, Group 44 had paved the way for the TWR-Jaguar.

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Perhaps better known is this XJR-9, the Le Mans winning car. The long awaited return to Le Mans came in 1984 when Jaguar teamed up with the American Group 44 team who designed and produced a sports racing car around the Jaguar V12 engine. Two cars were entered for the 1984 race but both failed to finish. In 1985 a Group 44 car managed to finish the race in thirteenth place, winning the GTP category, the first time in twenty-two years that a Jaguar had been classified as a finisher. Following the success of Tom Walkinshaw and his TWR Racing Team which dominated the European Touring Car Championship with the Jaguar XJS, TWR were given the task of designing a sports racing car to win Le Mans for Jaguar. The cars that were entered in the 1986 and 1987 Le Mans all performed well but luck was not on their side, they all succumbed to failures that were incidental rather that fundamental to the cars’ design or construction. In 1988 Jaguar went to Le Mans in strength, with an entry of five XJR-9 cars, all powered by the Jaguar V12 engine producing 750bhp from a capacity of 7.0 litres. Two of the cars retired but the remaining three went on to finish first, fourth and sixteenth. The winning Jaguar, driven by Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries and Andy Wallace, completed 394 laps and covered a distance of 5332.79km (3313.63 miles), in comparison the winning D-type of 1957 covered a distance of 4397km (2732 miles). This was Jaguar’s year in sports car racing, as 1988 also saw Jaguar take the world championship with wins in six out of ten Group C races. The Le Mans victory was repeated with the XJR-12s which came first and second in 1990, and another world championship fell to Jaguar in 1991, although the best placing at Le Mans that year was second. In 1993, an XJ220C won the GT class at Le Mans, in Jaguar’s latest appearance at the Sarthe circuit to date. And the Jaguar may yet one day return to its favourite hunting ground.

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The second circle of display cars focused on motor sport and comprised a variety of cars with competition history, some rather better known than others.

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In the winter of 1907/08 Austin built four cars to enter in the 1908 French Grand Prix. Two shaft and two chain driven cars. Both shaft driven cars crashed in practice and the parts used to build this shaft driven car. All three cars started the race driven by Warwick Wright, Dario Resta, and J.T.C. Moore-Brabazon (later Lord Brabazon of Tara who went on to hold the first ever British pilots licence), Warwick Wright was forced to retire with a seized engine, while the cars of Moore-Brabazon and Dario Resta finished 18th and 19th respectively and were also the highest place British cars. This is the Moore-Brabazon car the only survivor of the team. The cars shared many parts with the then current Austin 60hp touring car and were no match for the continental racers. Afterwards the cars were sold on as fast tourers. This example was owned for a number of years by Sir Hickman-Bacon the premier baronet of England. He had a special touring body built, which he could detach leaving the car as a two seater. The champion boxer Jack Johnson was also an owner of the remodelled cars. This car also featured in the 1984 film Greystoke, The Legend of Tarzan starring Christopher Lambert.

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Built by the Morris distributor for Wales, H.R. Wellstead using a modified Morris Oxford chassis, the rear springs were converted to Semi-elliptic in place of the original three quarters and the engine was modified. The Bullnose radiator was was fitted with a streamlined cowl and the artillery wheels replaced by wires. The streamlined body had originally been fitted to a Gwynne Eight. Raced regularly at Brooklands the Red Flash achieved a standing lap record of 78mph. The car was in the possession of the Wellstead family until 1961 when it was donated to Morris Motors.

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Dating from 1922 this Austin Twenty is the car which a Mr AE Filby drove from London to Cape Town and back in 1934.

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Stung by the success of the MG in all types of motor racing, Sir Herbert Austin decided to encourage a factory racing team. In 1932 a private Austin Seven Ulster caught Austin’s eye, driven by T, Murray Jamieson who worked for Amhurst Villiers and was developing a supercharged car of his own design. Jamieson was recruited with the brief to design the ultimate Austin Seven. His first design was a speed record car resembling a miniature of Malcolm Campbells Bluebird, He added a high pressure Rootes supercharger to the 747cc engine, boosting compression to the point of it requiring 32 studs to anchor the cylinder head. The car ran at the Montlehery and Southport speed trials but did not meet expectation and a decision was made to turn it into a track racer. The engine and transmission was retained and clothed in a frame and body similar to that of the American Sprint race cars. The lightweight car weighed only 431kg (8.5 cwt). To lower the driving position the transmission was offset. On its debut at the 1934 Brooklands Whitsun meeting and driven by factory driver Driscoll the car took the lap record in the Mountain handicap. Two new cars were built to the same design for 1935. One was destroyed in 1937 at Brooklands in a crash that effectively ended the racing career of ladies champion Kay Petre. Both cars had proved extremely successful on the track at Brooklands and Donington and in hillclimbs such as Shelsey Walsh. This is the sole surviving car.

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A second Austin Seven Special was this 1936 twin cam racer.

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This 1955 Austin A90 Westminster is the car which Richard Pape drove 17,500 miles from North Cape in Norway to Cape Town, South Africa, the first ever journey on this route.

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This 1959 Austin-Healey 3000 rally car, originally registered SJB 471, was the first 3000 off the production line and was used by the works rally team. After a successful career it was sold off by the BMC Competitions Department, but was subsequently bought by Unipart and used in historic rallies before being placed on loan to Gaydon.

This is a 1959 Austin Se7en Mini Downton. Downton Engineering was a respected tuning firm who started tweaking Minis even before John Cooper. This early example was personally owned by Downton founder Daniel Richmond, who used it in a number of sprints and saloon car races, and was taken over after his premature death by his widow, who left it to the BMIHT in her will.

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Second only to 621 AOK, 33 EJB is one of the most famous Minis of all. It was driven to victory in the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally by Paddy Hopkirk, the first Mini to win this historic event. Displayed with it was a second Mini Cooper S. This is the Mini which won the Monte Carlo Rally again in 1965, with AJB 44B driven by Timo Makinen. This was one of the first 1275cc Cooper S cars, 33 EJB being a 1071cc version.

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Built for the short lived Group B rally category, the car was a world away from the BL. Metro super-mini from which it took the name. Featuring a mid-mounted engine, with four wheel drive transmission enclosed in a seam welded tubular chassis, with the developement entrusted to Williams Grand Prix Engineering. The car was first shown in May 1985 and was powered by a bespoke three litre V6 engine which used some of the engine architecture of the Cosworth DFV. It featured twin overhead cam shafts and four valves per cylinder, though not turbocharged as were most of its competition. Mounted south to north (backwards), in mid-ship with a permanently engaged four wheel drive, driving separate propshafts to the front and rear differentials. Most of the body was of GRP with an aluminium roof panel and steel doors. The car appeared in two guises the road going Clubman version with around 250bhp of which around 200 were sold to the public (£ 40,000) for homologation purposes, and around 20 competition cars which had an output up to 410bhp. The cars faced stiff competition in the Group B sector and despite a promising start to their programme Austin Rover withdrew, from the rallying scene at the end of 1987. Though they have since proved formidable in rallycross. Following the cancellation of the programme all parts and engines were sold to Tom Walkinshaw Racing, where upon the V6 engine reappeared with turbochargers in the Jaguar XJ220.

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The TVR Tuscan series was introduced in 1999, powered by TVR’s own 4.0 litre 6 cylinder engine. With plenty of power, aggressive looks and lightweight carbon fibre bodies many were destined to go racing. This competition model the T400R this was the first of seven chassis produced in 2001 specifically for racing. In the hands of owner John Hartshorne this car contested the 2001, 02 and 03 British GT Championships followed by a three year stint in the Le Mans Endurance series. 7th in class in the 2005 Le Mans 24 hour it was the last TVR to contest this classic event.

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This is a 1978 March-Triumph 783. In the late 1970s the March Formula 3 team was sponsored by Unipart and used a tuned version of the 16-valve slant-four engine from the Triumph Dolomite Sprint. This car, still owned by Unipart and on indefinite loan to Gaydon, was used by Nigel Mansell in his very first race in an open-wheel championship.

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Dating from 1970 was this 3 litre V8 engined March-Ford 701, the first Formula One car from March engineering, then a new constructor based at Bicester in Oxfordshire. The name an acronym from the names of its founders Max Moseley (now FIA President), Alan Rees, Graham Coaker, and Robin Herd (the designer and then ex-McLaren). March entered the Grand Prix arena as a works team in 1970 but also sold the chassis to Ken Tyrell’s team which included World Champion Driver Jackie Stewart. In 1969 Tyrell had run Matra Fords that had taken both driver and constructors championships but Matras new owner Chrysler had insisted the 1970 Matra should have its own V12 engine. Preferring the Ford Cosworth DFV engine Tyrell had turned to March taking with him his French Blue and Elf sponsorship. The 701’s results were variable but Stewart took this 701 to 2nd place at both Zandvoort, in the Dutch grand Prix and Monza in the Italian GP he won the Spanish Grand Prix in Jarama in a sister 701. Tyrell had their own new design for 1971 so the partnership lasted only one year.

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There are three fabulous MG Record Breaker Cars here, the EX 135 of 1938, MG EX 179 of 1954 and EX 181 of 1957. This remarkable trio continuously set class records between 1938 and 1959 in engine sizes from 350cc to 1506cc. The EX 181 still holds the the reputation as being the fastest MG ever when driven by Phil Hill to 254.91 mph at Bonneville in 1959.

The MG EX 179 record car has its origins in 1952 with the creation of the first two MGA prototypes. The EX 172, one was modified with a small windscreen and a full belly pan but the results proved disappointing. Renamed EX 179 it was given its fully streamlined body and other mods. In 1954 it was sent to the Bonneville Salt Flats in the USA for an assault on the Class F records. Driven by Goerge Eyston it achieved seven International Records including a record of 153mph and a twelve hour record of of 120.74mph. Reconfigured in 1956 with a BMC B series 1500cc engine it went on again to set multiple records.

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Oldest of the trio was the EX135. Following independent attempts on the class G (1100cc) records in MG’s firstly by Goerge Eyston then by Goldie Gardiner. Cecil Kimber of MG and Lord Nuffield contacted Gardiner with the idea of creating a works prepared record car. Reid A Railton was called upon to design a fully enclosed streamlined body, built at Abingdon in 1938, and mounted on Gardener’s successful K3 based car and it was unveiled to the press in July 1938. On its first appearance on the Frankfurt Autobahn in November 1938 the new Class G records (1100cc) were set at 187.57 for the Kilometre and 187.61 for the mile. This was just the start of this cars remarkable career that stretched to 1952 and included 750cc, 500cc and 350cc records. The car claimed 30 records.


Third of the circle of cars was one focused on Sports Cars. There were a number of different marques represented in this collection, illustrating how so many legendary sports models have come from the UK over the years.

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This is a 1931 MG 18/80, one of the last of these cars to be built. While its predecessors were very closely based on the “Bullnose” Morris Oxford, the MG 18/80 of 1928 was the first model in which the factory had designed the chassis itself, and was the first car to have the typical MG grille with vertical standing slats and vertical centre bar and higher set headlights. It was initially known as the ‘MG Six’. The MG 18/80 derived from the Morris Light Six/ Morris Six, for which Cecil Kimber had MG build a stronger chassis. The Mark I and Mark II were available in a variety of body styles, two- and four-door, two- and four-seater and both closed and touring cars. The Mark I was built from 1928 to 1931, to a total of 501 examples. From 1929 onwards, the Mark II was offered in parallel, with 236 built. Production ended in 1931 and there was no immediate successor, It was not until the launch of the SA in 1936 that MG made such a large car again.

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A 1935 Morgan Supersports 3-wheeler. The high level exhaust on the side of this car shows that it is Supersports model, fitted with a 990cc V-twin Matchless engine. Matchless units replaced the earlier JAP engines in 1935.

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Dating only a couple of years later is this Morgan, often referred to as a “Flat Rad”, the name given to the first of the 4-wheeled cars, produced from 1935. but 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.

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Replacing the J series cars was the 1934 PA. The PA and later PB replaced the J Type Midget. These 2-door sports cars used an updated version of the overhead camshaft, crossflow engine that was also used in the 1928 Morris Minor and Wolseley 10 as well as the J-type Midget of 1932 to 1934. It drove the rear wheels through a four-speed non-synchromesh gearbox. The chassis was a strengthened and slightly longer version of that used in the J-type with suspension by half-elliptic springs all round with rigid front and rear axles. Steering was initially by a Marles Weller and later a Bishop Cam system. The two-seat car had a wheelbase of 87″ and a track of 42″. Most cars were open two seaters, but streamlined Airline coupé bodies were also made. The P-type was also available as a four-seater, a car that suffered from a lack of power and poor rear ground clearance. Whereas J, K and L-type MGs differentiated between versions with the use of numbers, with 1 indicating a four-seater (the J1) and 2 a two-seater (the J2), this was not the case with the P-type (or its six-cylinder sister, the N-type Magnette), and there is no clue to the type in the name. The first version, the PA used an 847 cc engine similar to the one on the J-Type, but now with a 3-bearing crankshaft, larger camshaft and twin SU carburettors. It produced 36 bhp at 5,500 rpm. In 1935, a PA open two-seater cost £222. Around 2,000 PAs were made. In late 1936 the PA was replaced by the PB, which had a larger 939cc 43bhp engine and which is distinguished by a grille of vertical slats as opposed to the honeycomb pattern of the PA. 526 examples of the PB were made.

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Dating from 1951 is this interesting two-seater, a Marauder, which was built by former Rover engineers George Mackie and Peter Wilks on a shortened Rover P4 chassis. Only around 15 were built between 1950 and 1952 before tax changes priced the car out of the market and both Mackie and Wilks subsequently rejoined Rover.

The Alpine was derived from the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 Saloon, and has become colloquially known as the “Talbot” Alpine. It was a two-seater sports roadster initially developed for a one-off rally car by Bournemouth Sunbeam-Talbot dealer George Hartnell. It had its beginnings as a 1952 Sunbeam-Talbot drophead coupé. Announced in March 1953 it received its name following Sunbeam-Talbot saloons successes in the Alpine Rally during the early 1950s. On its first competitive outing, the July 1953 Coupe des Alpes, the new car won the Coupe des Dames (Sheila van Damm) and, without loss of any marks, four Coupes des Alpes driven by Stirling Moss, John Fitch, G Murray-Frame and Sheila van Damm. The car has a four-cylinder 2,267 cc engine from the saloon, but with a raised compression ratio. However, since it was developed from the saloon platform, it suffered from rigidity compromises despite extra side members in the chassis. The gearbox ratios were changed, and from 1954 an overdrive unit became standard. The gearchange lever was column-mounted. A true open 2-seater, there were no external door handles or wind-up windows. The Sunbeam Alpine Mk 1 Special was based on the 2267 cc Mk 1 Sunbeam Talbot motor, with alloy rocker cover and Siamese exhaust ports (cylinders 2 and 3). These motors developed a reputed 97.5 bhp at 4,500 rpm, mainly by raising the compression ratio to 8.0:1 and incorporating a special induction manifold with a twin choke Solex 40 P.I.I carburettor. The motors of the Sunbeam Alpine Team Cars (MKV 21 – 26) were configured the same as the Sunbeam Alpine Mk I Special, with further tuning by ERA to raise power to 106 bhp The Alpine Mark I and Mark III (no Mark II was made) were hand-built – as was the 90 drophead coupé – at Thrupp & Maberly coachbuilders from 1953 to 1955, and remained in production for only two years. Of the 1582 automobiles produced, 961 were exported to the USA and Canada, 445 stayed in the UK, and 175 went to other world markets. In 2000 it was estimated that perhaps as few as 200 had survived.

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The Swallow Doretti is a two-seater British sports car built on Swallow’s own design of box-section tube chassis using Triumph TR2 mechanicals, made between 1954 and 1955. It was intended for the U.S. market and to be a more refined two-seater than available there at that time. The car was built by the Tube Investments Group subsidiary, Swallow Coachbuilding Company (1935) Ltd, bought for its 1935 to 1946 association with Jaguar’s prewar motorcycle sidecars. Sometimes known for its similarity to the Ferrari 166MM ‘Barchetta’ and Austin-Healey 100. The Doretti name was derived from Dorothy Deen, who managed the Western US distributorship Cal Sales. The Trade Mark logo and Doretti name is in the ownership of Canadian Peter Schömer. He is building a new limited edition sports car called the Doretti TR250 ‘Corsa Veloce’ using the Ferrari TR 250 chassis and engine from 1957. Based on the Triumph TR2 it had much improved stability, its track was 3 in (76 mm) wider and its wheelbase 7 in (178 mm) longer. The Doretti had a tubular Reynolds 531 manganese–molybdenum, medium-carbon steel chassis. Reynolds was another member of the T I Group. The double-skinned body had an inner structural skin made of steel and an aluminium outer skin. Most cars were supplied with Laycock-de Normanville electric epicyclic overdrive and they were capable of 100 mph. The car was designed by in-house engineer Frank Rainbow, and produced in the TI factory at The Airport, Walsall, Staffordshire. Production stopped in 1955 when the parent company TI Group changed policy. Allegedly, pressure from the British motor industry, most notably Jaguar, led to the cessation of production of the Doretti. It is thought that the directors of TI were pressured in that the production of the Doretti sports car placed TI at an advantage over their customers buying raw materials, creating a conflict of interest. 276 Mk I cars were made, including a single fixed head coupe version. Three prototype Mk II cars, the Sabre were produced. These had a stiffer chassis and better weight distribution.

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Final version of the popular T Series sports car was the TF, launched on the 15 October 1953. Although it looked quite a bit different, this was really just a facelifted TD, fitted with the TD Mark II engine, headlights faired into the wings, a sloping radiator grille concealing a separate radiator, and a new pressurised cooling system along with a simulated external radiator cap. This XPAG engine’s compression ratio had been increased to 8.1:1 and extra-large valves with stronger valve springs and larger carburettors increased output to 57.5 bhp at 5,500 rpm. In mid-1954 the engine capacity was increased by 17 per cent to 1466 cc and designated XPEG. The bore was increased to 72 mm and compression raised to 8.3:1 giving 63 bhp at 5,000 rpm and a 17 per cent increase in torque. The car was now designated TF1500, and externally distinguished by a cream background enamel nameplate on both sides of the bonnet, placed just to the rear of the forward bonnet-release buttons. Production ended at chassis number TF10100 on 4 April 1955 after 9,602 TFs had been manufactured, including two prototypes and 3,400 TF1500s. A number of replica models have been built in more recent years, with the Naylor of the mid 1980s being perhaps the best known.

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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, sixty years after its introduction. 48,987 “frogeye” Sprites were made and the car remains popular to this day.

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There are so many Lotus Seven replicas and lookalikes on the road that sometimes it’s hard to remember what an original car looks like. Most that you see are Caterhams or Westfields, but there are dozens of similar cars, which I suppose is a tribute to the purity of its design. This is the real thing, a 1969 Lotus Seven S3. The first Seven appeared in 1957, followed by the Series II and then, in 1968, the Series III (S3). This twin-cam SS car is fitted with a Lotus-Holbay twin-cam engine that develops 120bhp. Not a lot you might say, but in a car weighing only 595kg it makes for very spirited performance!

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This is a 1970 Jensen FF, Although based on the more commonly seen Interceptor, the FF is distinguished by a few styling cues, the most obvious being the twin (rather than single) diagonal air vents on the front wing, just rear of the wheel-arches. The frontal appearance was revised in September 1968. The main difference of course was one you could not see which is that the Jensen FF had standard four-wheel drive, the first non all-terrain production car so equipped, and an anti-lock braking system. The use of four-wheel drive in a passenger car preceded the successful AMC Eagle by thirteen years and the Audi Quattro by fourteen years, and the Subaru Leone by five years. The Dunlop Maxaret mechanical anti-lock braking system had previously been used only on aircraft, lorries, and racing cars. An experimental version was first fitted to the earlier Jensen C-V8, but this did not go into production. The letters FF stand for Ferguson Formula, after Ferguson Research Ltd., who invented the car’s four-wheel drive system. Although it was a highly innovative vehicle in a technical sense, the FF was not commercially successful. Its price was high — about 30% higher than the Jensen Interceptor, and more than that of luxury GTs from much more prestigious makers. The FF also suffered from a design problem, and not one easily cured: the system was set up for a driver in the right-hand seat, and no considerations had been made to making it left-hand drive. In particular, the central transfer case and both propeller shafts protruded into the left-hand seat space. The steering gear and brake servo were fitted on the right-hand side, and there was no space for them on the left. By the early 1970s, Jensen’s primary markets were in overseas markets where cars were driven on the right-hand side of the road. The FF could not be sold in the United States. In the UK a reputed 320 to 330 examples of the Jensen FF V8 model were made according to The Jensen Owners Club.

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A three-tier construction was used to present three of the most popular sports car of the 60s and 70s. This was the only such display item in he museum, and seemed a bit incongruous compared to everything else. It contained two Triumphs, a TR6 ,and the very last Spitfire to be made, as well as the very last MG Midget. This was made on 7 December 1979, after 73,899 of the last version had been made. The last 500 home-market cars were painted black.

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Other cars in this display included a McLaren MP12 4C and a 1971 Lotus Europa S2. In certain markets the Lotus Europa was initially known as the Europe due to another manufacturer owning the rights to the Europa name. By the time this one was built, all of these cars were officially named Europa but this is one of a small number of UK-spec versions that emerged from the factory with Europe badges in error.

The origin of the MG SV began with the 1996 De Tomaso Bigua coupe concept. The investment to take the project forward proved beyond De Tomaso and the project was taken over by US importer Kjell Qvale who set up a production shop in Modena. This operation was not a success and foundered. Looking for a flagship car to promote the MG brand the Rover Group acquired the assets. The McLaren F1 designer Peter Stevans was brought on board to direct styling, with the final design revealed at the 2002 British Motor Show. The SV had carbon fibre panels, and was assembled at the Modena facility. Power came from a Ford derived V8 with 320bhp. The SV was shipped to MG Longbridge for final assembly and trimming Priced at £ 65,750 for the SV or £ 82,000.for the SV-R with 385bhp. It was intended to produce 130 a year but in the end a total of less than 100 were built, few of which found paying customers.

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This one of four Aston Martin Vanquish created for the 20th James Bond film Die Another Day. Created by EON productions who had produced the DB5 40 years earlier for the film Goldfinger. The cars are equipped with 007 gadgets that include, a pair of machine guns that pop through the bonnet vents, four heat seeking missiles and a pair of shotguns that operate through the radiator grille. Each car is four wheel drive, utilising a Ford Explorer front differential and drive shafts, and a Ford V8 engine to allow enough room for the rockets. This particular car was used for the chase sequence in the films opening scene on an ice lake and is equipped with a special gearbox, allowing the car to travel at 100mph in reverse as well as forwards.

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This is a 1949 Land Rover Tickford Station Wagon. The first fully-enclosed Land Rovers were hand-built from wood and aluminium with factory approval by coachbuilding firm Tickford and were very expensive vehicles aimed at well-heeled country gentlemen. A cheaper factory-produced station wagon was soon introduced and the Tickford discontinued after less than 700 were built, all but 50 of which were exported, making them very sought-after in enthusiast circles today.

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Standard production forward-control Land Rovers are rare in themselves, but this is a unique prototype. It was built on a special 112-inch chassis to meet a military requirement for an all-terrain vehicle capable of carrying a 1500kg payload, but rejected by the MoD so it was converted into a recovery vehicle for use at the Solihull factory. The yellow livery gave it the nickname ‘Buttercup’ and it later served for around 20 years at the Gaydon proving ground, but is now restored and lives in the museum.

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This Series 1 86″ Land Rover was used as a Royal Review vehicle.

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One of the more outlandish Land Rover conversions was this one by Cuthbertson of Biggar, designed to cope with even more difficult terrain than the standard vehicle, specifically boggy conditions. They were built by dropping a standard long-wheelbase Series II without wheels onto a subframe with tracked bogies; The bogies are mounted onto their own “frame” which is then attached to the underside of the existing Land Rover set up via mounting plates at the centre of each leaf spring. It is not clear how many were made originally but estimates are that 10 to 12 survive. The low angle of the photo emphasises the extra height and also in view is what appears to be a front-mounted power take-off that is right at knee level!

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This 968 Land Rover Series IIA 109″ is known as the ‘Pink Panther’. Almost since the beginning Land Rovers have been used by the military and numerous special versions have appeared to cope with specific requirements. One of the most distinctive was the Pink Panther for use by the SAS in desert warfare, the pink colour being effective camouflage when viewed from the air. About a hundred Series IIA models were adapted in this way by removing unneccessary body parts and adding equipment including long-range fuel tanks, machine guns and smoke dischargers, and similar conversions were later carried out on Series III and Defender versions.

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The car that created the entire SUV market sector. Now in the Heritage collection at Gaydon, YVB 153H was the first production vehicle off the line and formed part of the batch used for pre-launch testing. For this purpose they were badged as ‘Velar’, a fictional marque invented by Rover to throw the press off the scent and keep the car’s real identity secret until its launch.

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The new Range Rover was the chosen vehicle for an expedition that set out to do something that had never been done before: cross the entire American continent from Anchorage, Alaska to Cape Horn off the southern coast of Chile. The main obstacle was the jungle of the Darien Gap between Panama City and Colombia, and it took three months to cover just 250 miles but the Range Rovers made it through where no car had ever been before. VXC 868K was one of the two vehicles used on the expedition.

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2008 saw Land Rover’s 60th anniversary, for which a new series of special edition Defenders were produced. Branded the “SVX”, three models were built. All were painted black with “satin” effect body graphics on the vehicles’ sides and bonnet carrying the “60th” logo used throughout 2008 at various special events and on anniversary merchandise. Bespoke five-spoke alloy wheels were used and a new silver-coloured front grille design was used. This also incorporated a new design of headlamp with the sidelight lamp being integral with the main headlamp unit, allowing the space previously used for the separate sidelight to be used to fit a pair of high-intensity driving lamps. Inside the SVX models gained Recaro bucket seats in the front row, alloy gearlever knobs and a Garmin GPS navigation system. The drivetrain was the standard 2.4-litre diesel and six-speed manual permanent four-wheel-drive transmission. The SVX edition was available as a 110 (only available outside the UK), a 90 and a brand-new design of 90 soft top- the first time a soft-top model had been available through showrooms in the UK since 1992. SVX soft tops had only the two front seats- the rear load bay being used to accommodate the spare wheel and a lockable storage box. A new design of hood was used, sloping down towards the rear over a jointed folding frame, unlike the standard square-framed hood used on other soft top Land Rovers. (This unit comes with a 2.4-litre diesel Ford DuraTorq “5 cylinder” engine). A I5 turbo intercooled engine. The larger capacity 5-cylinder units use the Power Stroke branding when installed in North American-market vehicles.

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Unveiled at the 2004 North American Motor Show the Range Stormer concept had cost 1.5 million euro to develop. Featuring a super charged V8 it was also the most powerful Land Rover to date. The car features a low roofline, bonnet power bulge, 22 inch forged allot wheels, slim line roof panels with a glass roof. The electrically operated doors are two piece the upper half hinging up and forwards with the lower half dropping to provide a step into the cabin. The electrically operated rear tailgate is also two piece with the upper half lifting and the lower dropping behind the bumper to give easy access. The floor compartment rises and lowers electronically to improve capacity and fitted leather bags are incorporated into the side walls. The Head lamps have ‘crushed ice’ glass lenses and bi-Xenon bulbs, the lights swivel with the steering wheel to aid cornering vision. Side mounted LEDs illuminate at appropriate steering wheel angles to further aid vision. The cabin is dominated by leather, oak wood and aluminium with dark saddle leather used in the seats the dash and centre console. Despite lots of pressure to produce the car as presented, it did not go ahead directly, but there is a clear link to the first Range Rover Sport.

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Most of this display of Estate Cars come from the James Hull Collection. A dentist, he amassed over 300 cars, which were sold as a single lot after his death. The collection was bought by the Jaguar Land Rover Heritage, who have since sold off a few of the tattier and unrestored cars, but the vast majority of them remain and are housed at the Jaguar Heritage facility at Ryton.

Perhaps the most unusual car of the lots is this 1953 Allard P2 Safari, one of just 10 that were built. Allard produced the P1 and P2 from 1949 to 1954, designed by company founder Sydney Allard as five-seat saloons with two doors. The P1 is underpinned by a box section chassis with an enclosed body very much of its time, being a transition from the traditional style of the pre-war years to the fully rounded forms of the 1950s and 1960s. As such it combines a low, streamlined radiator and contemporary cabin with separate front wings. The front suspension is independent and was developed by racing car designer Leslie Bellamy. Ingeniously it consists of a standard Ford beam axle cut in half and used to form lower arms with the transverse leaf spring acting as the upper arm, movement being controlled by long radius arms. The rear suspension is provided through a conventional Ford live axle with a transverse leaf spring, mounted using a torque tube. Brakes are hydraulically operated and consist of drums all round. The Allard P1 was fitted with the Ford flat head V-8 as standard but the Competition model has the Mercury V-8. The 1953 model year saw the introduction of the Allard P2, which remained current until 1954. It was produced as a 2-door saloon, the “Monte Carlo” and a wood sided shooting brake, the “Safari.” The P2 updated the looks with all enveloping bodywork, a more up-to-date radiator inlet and by losing the anachronistic opening windscreen. Under the skin the handling was improved by the adoption of a de Dion rear axle and coil springs all round. The company built only ten P2 Safari station wagons, with this being one of only four remaining.

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Also very rare is this Ford Consul Mark 1 Estate. The 1500 cc four-cylinder Consul was first shown at the 1950 London Motor Show. It was the start of Ford of Britain’s successful attack on the family saloon car market. With stablemate Zephyr, it was the first British Ford with modern unibody construction. The Zephyr Six replaced the larger-engined V-8 Pilot which had been made in only small numbers. The Consul was given the Ford code of EOTA. Most cars were four-door saloons with body design by George Walker of the parent United States Ford Motor Company, but a few estate cars were made by the coachbuilder Abbott. From 1953, a convertible conversion by Carbodies became available. Having lost most of its strength with its roof, the unibody was reinforced by welding in a large X-frame to the floor pan. Unlike the more expensive Zephyr, the hood (convertible top) had to be put up and down manually. It was also the first car they built with up-to-date technology. The new 1508 cc 47 bhp engine had overhead valves, and hydraulic clutch operation was used, which in 1950 was an unusual feature. However, a three-speed gearbox, with synchromesh only on second and top, was retained. The Consul was also the first British production car to use the now-common MacPherson strut independent front suspension. The bench front seat was trimmed in PVC, and the handbrake was operated by an umbrella-style pull lever under the facia (dash). The windscreen wipers used the antiquated vacuum system, but it came from a vacuum pump linked to the camshaft-driven fuel pump instead of the induction manifold as on Ford’s earlier applications of this arrangement. Clearly keen to keep things positive, a 1950 road test by the British Autocar magazine reported that the wipers were “free from the disadvantage of early suction-driven wipers that dried up at wide throttle opening … and spare[d] the battery”. The initial dashboard was a flat, symmetrical panel with interchangeable instrument cluster and glovebox, but from September 1952, a redesigned asymmetrical dashboard was fitted, and the instruments, consisting of speedometer, ammeter, and fuel gauge, were positioned in a housing above the steering column, with a full-width parcel shelf on which an optional radio could be placed. Few Estates were made and there are very few survivors.

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Humber had been using the Hawk name right back to the 1930s. A new Hawk was announced in May 1957, which had a completely new body with unitary construction which it would go on to share with the 1958 Humber Super Snipe. The new model was, like its predecessors, a large car. For the first time an estate variant was available from the factory – the Hawk estate had the largest unitary bodyshell of any British-built car up to that point, a status it retained until the Jaguar Mark X was launched in 1961. The 2267 cc engine was carried over, though with modifications to the distributor mounting, and other details; and an automatic transmission, the Borg Warner D.G. model, was now available. The body was styled in Rootes’ own studios and featured more glass than previous models, with wrap-around front windscreen, which gave it a considerable resemblance to a base model 1955 Chevrolet 4-door sedan. The missing rear quarter-lights were returned in Series IV. The estate version featured a horizontally split tailgate—the lower half opening downwards (to provide an extra length of luggage-platform if necessary) and the upper half upwards. The fuel-filler cap was concealed behind the offside rear reflector. There were several revisions during the car’s life, each resulting in a new Series number. When production ended in 1967, with no replacement, the market for large estate cars was effectively handed over to Volvo, who for many years had virtually no rivals (Citroen and Triumph may choose to disagree, of course!).

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At the opposite end of the size spectrum was this immaculate Mini Countryman. The estate versions of Issigonis’ masterpiece, the Morris Mini Traveller and Austin Mini Countryman were the first of the additional body styles to join the original car, launching in 1960. These models were two-door estate cars with double “barn”-style rear doors. Both were built on a slightly longer chassis of 84 inches (2.1 m) compared to 80.25 inches (2.038 m) for the saloon. The early Morris Mini Traveller and Austin Mini Countryman cars had an internal fuel tank located on the left hand side of the rear load area. This is identifiable by the fuel filler cap being on the left hand side of the car just below the rear window. In October 1961 the fuel tank was relocated to the underneath of the car and the filler cap was moved to low down on the right hand side of the car – the same configuration that was already in use on the Mini Van. From the start of production both models had a decorative, non-structural, ash wood trim on the rear body, in the style of a pre-war shooting-brake. This gave the car a similar appearance to the larger Morris Minor Traveller and gave rise to these cars simply being called a woodie. It is a popular misconception that the difference between the Traveller and the Countryman is the wood trim. An all steel version of both the Traveller and the Countryman without the wood trim was launched for export markets in April 1961 and for the home market in October 1962, but the woodie version remained more popular. In October 1967 the Mk2 version was launched with the same changes as the saloon. Approximately 108,000 Austin Mini Countrymans and 99,000 Morris Mini Travellers were built. Variations of this model were also built in South Africa, by Innocenti in Italy and by Industria de Montagem de Automoveis in Portugal.

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This 1977 Triumph 2500 S estate is the last example of the Triumph 2000/2500/2.5 PI series to come off the production line, and was not registered until September 1979 and last taxed in 1982!

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Included in the display are a few vehicles which were used by the Royal Family and which are on loan to the museum.

After 1250 examples of the 1952 long chassis Austin A135 had been produced, the model was re-badged as a Vanden Plas for 1959. Options now included automatic transmission, and power steering. Produced as Limousine or Laudette with a few Saloons. Many went to the carriage trade and a substantial number for Embassy or the Royal fleet. When production was about to be stopped in 1968 two of the last cars were set aside for Royal use. This is one of those two cars.

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This is a 1939 Wolseley Eight. The Wolseley Eight only went into production after World War 2, but this is a prototype built in 1939 and used for some years as his personal car by William Morris (Lord Nuffield).

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This is 1921 Morris F-type ‘Silent Six’ was Lord Nuffield’s personal transport and is believed to be the only survivor. This was a short-lived 17 hp six-cylinder variant was displayed for the first time as a four seated cabriolet at the November 1922 Olympia Motor Show. The 2320 cc engine, it had six pistons from the 11.9, 1548 cc engine, proved unreliable, two intense vibration periods weakened and broke crankshafts. Although the car was longer than the four cylinder Oxford by 9 inches (230 mm) all the extra space was given over to the engine. The first open four-seater tourer was sold to Lord Redesdale. Only 50 were made and, after the initial run, they were assembled to special order. It remained available until 1926.

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The only bus in the display, at least at the time of this visit, this 1923 AEC S Type is on long-term loan from the London Transport Museum. The S-type was introduced by AEC in 1920 to supplement the smaller K-type and this one was built in 1923. By this time most provincial double-deckers had enclosed cabs and roofed top decks but the Metropolitan Police’s refusal to accept such things hindered progress in the capital.

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This Fire Engine was built in 1953 by the Engineering Division of Morris Motors, using the prototype chassis of the new Morris Minor quarter ton van. Originally fitted with a side valve engine it was later modified with a overhead valve BMC A series. Built to fulfill the requirements of 1932 that a Fire Fighting appliance should be able to travel between assembly tracks. The previous engine had been retired after twenty years service. This Morris Minor took over until 1983 before it was transferred to the reserve fleet, finally being retired in 1990.

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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. Seen with this TR3b was a small-sized pedal car version.

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Among the displays is a recreation of a period garage scene complete with a Ford Model Y which is in for attention. The Model Y was a Ford for the British market, introduced in 1935 as the £100 Ford. Early cars had a short radiator and straight front bumper, as with this car, but later models used a longer radiator with a curved bumper to retain access for the starting handle. The Model Y competed in the highly competitive 8hp market, competing with the Morris 8 and Austin 8, both of which it undercut on price. This sector was one of the most important in Britain before WW2 and nearly every major manufacturer had an 8hp model. Between 1935-37, 135,200 Model Y Fords were sold.

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A mezzanine level in the centre of the museum was added a few years ago. As well as providing excellent view of the ground floor displays, it provides some additional space and is commonly used for temporary exhibitions. On this occasion there was a very eclectic collection of cars on show, comprised of seven of the cars restored by Fuzz Townshend and Tim Shaw on the TV show Car SOS. These included one – the only one in the entire museum – that was in no way British and another which although from a Swedish marque does at least have a strong British connection as the early examples were built in the UK.

XUB 583 – 1941 Austin Tilly utility: Series 5, episode 9. An ex military vehicle used as a farm truck, given an ‘oily rag’ restoration that preserved its patinated appearance.

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SCO 656 – 1959 MGA Roadster: Series 6, episode 1. SCO 656 is not on the DVLA system so it must have been off the road for a long time before the Car SOS treatment and not used since.

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TXF 912 – 1957 AC Aceca: Series 4, episode 2. Oddly recorded on the DVLA system as an ‘AC (Electric)’ despite having a Ford straight-six petrol engine, unless Fuzz and Tim did a secret zero-emissions conversion!

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EGC 988B – 1964 Volvo P1800S: Series 4, episode 1. This is the car signed inside by Sir Roger Moore.

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AUB 160E – 1967 Aston Martin DB6: Series 5, episode 4. Probably the most valuable car they have tackled.

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RHJ 992M – 1974 Ford Capri RW3100: Series 6, episode 10. RHJ 992M is not a genuine example of the rare RS3100 but an RW3100, an authentic replica built by Ric Wood Motorsport. It has a valid MOT but was last taxed in 2010 so clearly hasn’t been used on the road since its Car SOS restoration.

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M748 RVN – 1994 Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evoluzione II: Series 6, episode 2. The owner of this one sadly passed away during filming and before the restoration was completed so he never saw the finished product, displayed by his family in his memory.

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As well as revamping the existing museum building and its displays, the revisions also saw the construction of a second building, to house the Reserve Collection which had hitherto been housed in some cases outside and otherwise crammed in a store room. Sadly, I completely ran out of time to go and have a look at the cars parked in there. That will have to be for another trip.


A little later than planned, everyone came back to their cars and we headed off to Caffeine and Machine. By the most direct route, it is only just over 10 miles, on a mix of A and B roads, through the countryside, passing through Ettington village, and crossing the main A46. I was warned that after that junction it is not far to the venue, on the left hand side of the road, just over the brow of a hill, so it is easy to shoot past. In fact, it is pretty obvious, so I did not overshoot. The venue had warned that they had been getting very busy on weekends, and that although they had already extended the car park a couple of times, they do sometimes run out of space. Thankfully, although there had been a lot of cars there earlier in the day, there were no space problems when we arrived, but the place was not so deserted that there was nothing else to look at. We managed to park some of the cars close to the main entrance, and everyone else was accommodated around the side and in the gravelled area out the back. I was immediately taken by the site, which is effectively a restored pub, with lots of rooms on the ground floor giving everything from a bar, somewhere to sit and eat the food, and a couple of rooms that are given over to things automotive. Outside there are benches and tables on the ground that rises up beyond the parking, which will doubtless prove popular in the summer months.

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Not all the Abarths that had been with us at Gaydon came on this part of the day, but most did, and of course there was a chance to get some more photos of the cars, parked up in a different sequence in with different backgrounds.

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Parked up was another Abarth, that had not been with us earlier in the day, a Grande Punto, the presence of which completed the array of different models that had assembled during the day. The Abarth Grande Punto debuted at the 2007 Frankfurt IAA Show, going on sale in the UK in late summer of 2008. Offering 155 bhp from its 1.4 litre T-Jet engine, coupled to a six speed gearbox, and riding on 45 profile 17″ alloys, the standard car got rave reviews from the journalists when they first tried it, and they were even more impressed by the changes wrought by the optional Esseesse kit. This increased power to 177 bhp, brought 18″ OZ lower profile wheels, whilst new springs lowered the ride height by 15-20mm, and high-performance front brake pads and cross-drilled front disc brakes helped the car to stop more quickly. The most distinctive feature of the car were the white alloy wheels, though, as owners found, keeping these clean is not a job for the uncommitted, and many have a second set of wheels that they use for grubbier conditions. Despite the positive press at launch, the car entered a very competitive sector of the market, and the combination of being relatively unknown, a limited number of dealers and the existence of established rivals from Renault and others meant that this always remained a left-field choice. The owners loved them, though, and they still do. The oldest cars have now had their 10th birthdays, and some have amassed relatively big mileages, but they are still a car for the cognoscenti.

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I felt a particularly soft spot for this B5 generation Audi S4, as I owned a car just like this one, even down to the Nogano Blue colour, from mid 2003 until March 2005 the first of a series of S-badged Audis that I would have. This was the second generation S4 (Type 8D), though the first one had in fact been a derivative of the larger Audi 100/A6 model. This car debuted in 1997, with factory production commencing October 1997, as part of the facelifted B5 platform Audi A4 line-up. In addition to the saloon, an S4 Avant was introduced into the lineup from 1998. Production of the B5 S4 ceased in September 2001, The B5 S4 features a 2.7-litre twin-turbo (‘biturbo’) 90° third-generation V6 engine with two lightweight aluminium alloy cylinder heads. The valvetrain includes five valves per cylinder, twin hybrid-driven (timing belt and roller chain) double overhead camshafts and variable valve timing for the inlet valves. The intake air is pressurized by two parallel water-cooled BorgWarner K03-series turbochargers; the charged air is cooled by two side-mounted air-to-air intercoolers (SMICs). It displaces 2,671cc and is rated to produce 261 bhp at 5,800 rpm, and generates 400 Nm (295 lbf/ft) of torque at 1,850 rpm. As in the previous S4, a six-speed C90 manual transmission was standard equipment, as was the Torsen T-2 quattro permanent all-wheel drive system. A five-speed ZF 5HP19 tiptronic automatic transmission became available for the first time as an option. The B5 S4 claims acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (0.0 to 62.1 mph) in 5.6 seconds, and had an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h (155.3 mph), making it both the quickest saloon/sedan in the Audi model line, and among the quickest saloon/sedans in the world at that time. I certainly enjoyed driving mine.

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Other Audi models that caught my eye were an RS5 Coupe and a second generation R8.

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Although many refer to this as the Z3M Coupe, the official name does not refer to Z3 at all, just calling it the M Coupé. Manufactured from 1998 until 2002, was developed under the leadership of engineer Burkhard Göschel with the intention of adding increased torsional and structural rigidity to the Z3 roadster’s chassis. The development team had a hard time convincing the Board of Directors to approve the model for production, but it was eventually given the green light as long as it remained cost-effective to produce. To achieve this goal, majority of the body panels had to be shared with the M roadster, thus the doors and everything from the A-pillar forward are interchangeable between the coupé and roadster, as are most interior parts. The Z3 coupé, which combines the M coupe’s body with the standard Z3 drivetrain, chassis and cosmetics was approved for production at the same time. Sales were slow as it didn’t generate much interest between the enthusiasts. As a result of their relative rarity, M Coupes (especially S54 powered models) retain much of their value. The S54 M Coupe is one of the lowest production BMWs with only 1112 built. It was given nicknames like “hearse” and “clown shoe” because of its distinctive styling. The Z3M Coupe and Roadster were initially powered by the engines from the E36 M3. This means that most countries initially used the 3.2 L version of the BMW S50 engine, while North American models initially used the less powerful BMW S52 engine. The S50 produces 316 bhp at 7,400 rpm and 350 Nm (260 lb/ft) at 3,250rpm, while the S52 engine produces 240 bhp at 6,000rpm and 320 N⋅m (240 lb⋅ft) at 3,800rpm. A total of 2,999 cars were built with the S50 engine and 2,180 cars were built with the S52 engine. Starting in September 2001, the engines were upgraded to the BMW S54 engine from the E46 M3. In most countries, it produces 321 bhp at 7,400 rpm and 354 Nm (261 lb/ft) at 4,900 rpm, while North American models have 315 bhp at 7,400 rpm and 341 Nm (252 lb/ft) at 4,900 rpm. The difference in peak power and torque is due to the catalytic converters being located closer to the engine on the North American spec cars, which allows the catalysts to heat up faster and reduce cold start emissions. A total of 1,112 cars were built with the S54 engine.

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Also here was the current M4 in that signature colour that featured on the launch cars.

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By the mid 60s, all new Daimler models were little more than rebadged and retrimmed Jaguar models, intended to appeal to traditionalists who preferred the image of the Daimler marque to the slightly caddish one of the Jaguar, so it was no surprised that an XJ6-based Sovereign was introduced in October 1969. Once again, it was externally virtually identical to its Jaguar source car with the exception of its fluted grille and Daimler badging. Internally there were trim variations, such as the deletion of the wood door cappings fitted to the Jaguar. This Sovereign was offered with either the 2.8-litre or the 4.2-litre version of the XK engine. When the Jaguar version was updated to create the Series 2 car in the autumn of 1973, a Damiler version was announced at the same time. The Series 2 cars, as seen here, sported a a raised front bumper and shallower grille; an extended wheelbase version was introduced, which eventually became the standard model. From 1975 the 2.8-litre was replaced by a 3.4-litre version of the XK engine. Both the Jaguar and Daimler models were replaced by a Series 3 in the spring of 1979.

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The Capri Mk III was referred to internally as “Project Carla”, and although little more than a substantial update of the Capri II, it was often referred to as the Mk III. The first cars were available in March 1978, but failed to halt a terminal decline in sales. The concept of a heavily facelifted Capri II was shown at the 1976 Geneva show: a Capri II with a front very similar to the Escort RS2000 (with four headlamps and black slatted grille), and with a rear spoiler, essentially previewed the model some time before launch. The new styling cues, most notably the black “Aeroflow” grille (first used on the Mk I Fiesta) and the “sawtooth” rear lamp lenses echoed the new design language being introduced at that time by Ford of Europe’s chief stylist Uwe Bahnsen across the entire range. Similar styling elements were subsequently introduced in the 1979 Cortina 80, 1980 Escort Mk III and the 1981 Granada Mk IIb. In addition, the Mk III featured improved aerodynamics, leading to improved performance and economy over the Mk II and the trademark quad headlamps were introduced. At launch the existing engine and transmission combinations of the Capri II were carried over, with the 3.0 S model regarded as the most desirable model although the softer, more luxurious Ghia derivative with automatic, rather than manual transmission, was the bigger seller of the two V6-engined models. Ford began to focus their attention on the UK Capri market as sales declined, realising the car had something of a cult following there. Unlike sales of the contemporary 4-door Cortina, Capri sales in Britain were to private buyers who would demand less discounts than fleet buyers allowing higher margins with the coupé. Ford tried to maintain interest in 1977 with Ford Rallye Sport, Series X, “X Pack” options from the performance oriented RS parts range. Although expensive and slow selling these proved that the press would enthusiastically cover more developed Capris with higher performance. In early 1982, the Essex 3.0 V6 which had been the range topper since September 1969 was dropped, while a new sporty version debuted at the Geneva Motor Show, called the 2.8 Injection. The new model was the first regular model since the RS2600 to use fuel injection. Power rose to a claimed 160 PS, even though tests showed the real figure was closer to 150 PS, giving a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph), but the car still had a standard four-speed gearbox. The Capri 2.8 Injection breathed new life into the range and kept the car in production 2–3 years longer than Ford had planned. The four-speed gearbox was replaced with a five-speed unit early on – at the same time Ford swapped the dated looking chequered seats for more luxurious looking velour trim. A more substantial upgrade was introduced in 1984 with the Capri Injection Special. This development used half leather seating and included a limited slip differential. Externally the car could be easily distinguished by seven spoke RS wheels (without the customary “RS” logo since this was not an RS vehicle) and colour-coded grille and headlamp surrounds. At the same time the 2.0 Capri was rationalised to one model, the 2.0 S, which simultaneously adopted a mildly modified suspension from the Capri Injection. The 1.6 model was also reduced to a single model, the 1.6 LS. The car was finally deleted at the end of 1986, 1.9 million cars having been made over 18 years, and having been sold only in the UK for the final months of production.

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The i30N had very positive reviews on its release a year ago, and they are starting to appear on our roads now. This pale blue would seem to be the signature colour for the model and is certainly distinctive.

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Starved of the money needed for all-new models throughout this decade, Lotus has done an amazing job at keeping interest high in the current range with a steady stream of improvements to all three of their production models, most of which bring additional power (and a higher price tag!) every time changes are announced. Seen here was a recent model Exige V6 Cup. This was unveiled on 9 November 2017, and is the most powerful version of the Exige to date. The full name is the Exige Cup 430 and it produces 430 PS (424 bhp) , using the Evora GT430’s powertrain, modified to fit in the smaller Exige. The car body can produce 220 kg (485 lb) of downforce. The Cup 430 is 19 kg (42 lb) lighter than the Sport 380 due to the use of carbon fibre in body panels and interior and a titanium exhaust. The gearbox allows quicker gearshifts than the previous model. The Cup 430 is not offered with an automatic gearbox. The Lotus Exige Cup 430 is capable of covering the Hethel circuit in 1 minute 24.8 seconds – the fastest production car to lap the circuit – 1.2 seconds faster than the road going Lotus 3-Eleven.

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As MINI looked to increase the range of products they offered, two new bodystyles were added to the range in 2011, the Coupé and the Roadster,both of them two-seater models. The hardtop Coupé was unveiled in June 2011 and formally launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2011. Production was shown in the 2011 documentary Megafactories. It was the first two-seater Mini and was joined by a convertible version called Mini Roadster in 2012, following its showing as a concept car in 2009. The Coupé is known by the internal code R58 and the Roadster by code R59. The Coupé (Coupe in the US), which went on sale in the UK from 1 October 2011, is based on the Mini Cabriolet, but with only two seats allowing a bigger boot of 280 litres (9.9 cubic feet). The Coupé’s windscreen is angled rearwards by 13 degrees more than in the cabrio’s and the roof is 29 mm (1.1 inches) lower than standard Mini Hatch. The rear spoiler rises automatically at speeds above 50 mph or with the use a toggle switch above the rear view mirror. The range of the Coupé follows a similar pattern to other Mini models; featuring Cooper, Cooper S, Cooper SD and the range-topping John Cooper Works (JCW). The JCW version accelerates from 0 to 62 mph (0 to 100 km/h) in 6.4 seconds and a top speed of 149 mph (240 km/h) thanks to a turbocharged 208 bhp 1598 cc four-cylinder. The Cooper SD is a 2.0 L turbo diesel producing 141 bhp available in some markets. All are equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox with the option of automatic on all but the JCW. The styling, which MINI said was supposed to look like a baseball cap being worn backwards (!), attracted lots of comment, and little of favourable. Sales were low so it was no surprise that In February 2015 Mini announced the end of production for both models. There has been no suggestion that the style will be repeated.

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This is a Lancer Evo VI, of the type which was produced between January 1999 and February 2001. Based on the Lancer saloon, the Evo kept pace with changes to that model, so the Evo IV, seen in 1996 had been a new model compared to the first three Evo generations. Evo IV, V and VI were all broadly similar with detailed changes coming with each new iteration. The Evolution VI’s changes mainly focused on cooling and engine durability. It received a larger intercooler, larger oil cooler, and new pistons, along with a titanium-aluminide turbine wheel for the RS model, which was a first in a production car. The Evolution VI received new bodywork yet again, with the most easily noticeable change being within the front bumper where the huge fog lights were reduced in size and moved to the corners for better airflow. A new model was added to the GSR and RS lineup; known as the RS2, it was an RS with a few of the GSR’s options. Another limited-edition RS was known as the RS Sprint, an RS tuned by Ralliart in the UK to be lighter and more powerful with 330 hp. Yet another special edition Evolution VI was released in December 1999: the Tommi Mäkinen Edition, named after Finnish rally driver Tommi Mäkinen who had won Mitsubishi four WRC drivers championships. It featured a different front bumper, Red/Black Recaro seats (with embossed T. Mäkinen logo), 17″ Enkei white wheels, a leather Momo steering wheel and shift knob, a titanium turbine that spooled up more quickly, front upper strut brace, lowered ride height (with tarmac stages in mind), and a quicker steering ratio. Amongst other colours, the Evo VI came in either red (Tommi Mäkinen Edition only), white, blue, black or silver with optional special decals, replicating Tommi Mäkinen’s rally car’s colour scheme. This car is also sometimes referred to as an Evolution 6½, Evolution 6.5, or TME for short. There were two “standard” models. The RS – “rally sport” had a close-ratio 5-speed, minimal interior, rally suspension, Rear 1.5 Way LSD as opposed to AYC, (Shortened close-ratio 5-speed transmission, Optional Enkei Wheels, Optional Recaro Seats, Optional Air Conditioner, Optional Brembo brakes, Optional power windows). The GSR came with a 5-speed, gauge pack, AYC (Active Yaw Control), Anti-Lock Braking System, Recaro front bucket and rear seat, auto air-conditioner, double-din audio, power windows, Brembo brakes. The Tommi Mäkinen Edition Models also came in RS and GSR guise. The RS was the same as the standard RS with close-ratio 5-speed, lowered ride height, Tommi Mäkinen Edition front bumper, and titanium turbine (same option with standard RS) and the GSR was the same as the standard GSR with lowered ride height, Tommi Mäkinen Edition front bumper, Red/Black Recaro seats (with embossed T. Mäkinen logo), 17″ Enkei white wheels and titanium turbine. These cars were fearsomely expensive to run, and as such, you don’t see them very often any more.

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Nissan decided to sell the third generation Cube in Europe, launching the car in 2009. It had more rounded styling than its predecessor, and under the somewhat trendy looks was the Renault-Nissan shared front wheel drive B platform and the sole available engine was a 1.5 litre petrol. The car was not a sales success, and it was withdrawn at the end of 2011, though sales in other markets continued for some time after that, in the US til the end of 2014 and in Japan for years more than that.

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There were a number of 911 models which caught my eye. As well as recent 997 car, the yellow 993 Carrera RS was rather distinctive, especially from behind with its massive spoiler.

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Just as I was thinking about heading off, this 991 GT2 RS pulled into the car park. I could not just walk away, as whilst you do see GT3 cars surprisingly frequently, the GT2 models are rare. I had a quick chat with the owner and he had only picked it up a few days ago, and yes, he was indeed loving it. The car was officially launched by Porsche at the 2017 Goodwood Festival of Speed along with the introduction of the 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series. The 991 GT2 RS is powered by a 3.8 L twin-turbocharged flat-6 engine that has a maximum power output of 700 PS (691 bhp) at 7,000 rpm and 750 Nm (553 lb/ft) of torque, making it the most powerful production 911 variant ever built. Unlike the previous GT2 versions, this car is fitted with a 7-speed PDK transmission to handle the excessive torque produced from the engine. Porsche claims that the car will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 2.7 seconds, and has a top speed of 340 km/h (211 mph). The car has a roof made of magnesium, front lid, front and rear wings and boot lid made of carbon-fibre, front and rear apron made of lightweight polyurethane, rear and side windows made of polycarbonate and a exhaust system made of titanium. Porsche claims that the car has a wet weight of 1,470 kg (3,241 lb). A Weissach package option is available, which reduces weight by 30 kg (66 lb), courtesy of the additional use of carbon-fibre and titanium parts. This includes the roof, the anti-roll bars, and the coupling rods on both axles being made out of carbon-fibre, while the roll cage is made from titanium. The package also includes a set of magnesium wheels. Deliveries started in 2018 and Porsche said that they would only build 1,000 units. Production ceased in February 2019.

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This is a rally car recreation, one of around 5 cars which belongs to Claire Udell, the business manager on site, and as such is a car you could expect to see here quite frequently, although with 4 of cars in her possession, I guess she brings one of the others quite a bit of the time. It is based on a fifth generation Celica, the sporty Coupe that Toyota produced initially as a rival to the Ford Capri, back in 1970. It went on to live some years longer than the Ford, and thanks to a policy of all Japanese makers at the time of renewing their cars every 4 years, was available in far more distinct generations than its European rivals. The fifth generation car was produced form 1989 to 1993. Compared to its predecessor, it had new Super Round organic styling, upgraded wheels and tyres, more powerful GT-Four (US: All-Trac Turbo) with better cooling system, and for the Japanese market only, the 4-Wheel Steering (4WS) models. Toyota engineers claimed that the round styling and lack of straight edges increased strength without adding weight. The styling was later copied by other manufacturers. There were all manner of different versions offered in the Celica’s major markets and whilst the styling was perhaps more transatlantic in appeal than had been the case with the fourth generation car, it was adapted for Europe, where versions included a 1.6 ST-i (not sold in the UK), the 2.0 GT-i 16, and GT-Four. Some markets got a two door version., but it was the three door hatch which found its way to the UK, and the 2.0 GT-i 16 cabriolet was offered only in certain European countries. Only the 2.0 GT-i 16 liftback and GT-Four were officially sold in the UK. This one was presented as a reminder of the rallying success of the model.

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Parked up inside was this mildly customised classic VW Beetle.

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This proved to be a most enjoyable day. After what always seems like months of winter, it is always good to meet up with fellow Abarthisti, and to catch up with their new, and to see some interesting cars. The hours just shot by, and certainly, whilst I got a look around some of the Gaydon Museum, I need to go back and do the job properly. And then there was Caffeine and Machine, I can quite see why this has generated such enthusiasm in the few short winter weeks since it opened. The food on offer was both good in quality and reasonably priced, and the concept of a venue that welcomes car enthusiasts who pop by and stay anything between long enough for a coffee to most of the day just seems so obvious one wonders why no-one thought of it before. It is definitely a place I can see myself visiting frequently, whenever I am in the area, and in the summer, that could well be during the week as well as at weekends.

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