Chateau Impney was a venue which entered the motor enthusiast’s calendar in 2015 with a spectacular two day event which drew lots of praise, prompting it to be repeated the following year and then earning a permanent place in a calendar which is not exactly short of attractions throughout a busy season. Those who were better researched than me, or who were old enough to remember it, would have known that in fact the venue had been used for motor sport before with a significant amount of motor-sport history that lay behind what appears to be a rather quirkily designed hotel and conference centre building located a couple of miles off junction 5 of the M5, just outside Droitwich. It’s certainly not the most obvious location for a Hill Climb, as this would appear simply to be rather unusual looking building set in a large country park, on ground which is more undulating than hilly. The Chateau dates back to the nineteenth century, and its construction is thanks to a local salt mine owner, John Corbett and his wife Anna, who were married in Paris before returning to England. In 1868 and with a growing family they decided to buy the original Impney Manor House, demolish it and have built a house in the style of the chateaux they had seen whilst in France. They commissioned French architect Auguste Tronquois to oversee the work of English architect Richard Phené Spiers. Completed in 1875, the result is considered to be the finest and most authentic example of French style Chateau building in the UK, and it was a private residence, set in 110 acres of parkland until 1925, when it was sold and turned into a prestigious hotel. The motor sport story started there in 1957, with competitors greeted by a short, narrow and uneven course in the grounds, and needing to concentrate on the road ahead and not the spectacular setting in which they found themselves. The venue became increasingly popular in the next few years. Formula Junior was added to the program and the venue resurfaced the track to make life a little easier for the competitors. And there were plenty of famous names among them: Sydney Allard, Daniel Richmond, Tony Marsh, Patsy Burt, Phil Scragg, Alec Poole, John Handley, Ralph Broad and Rovers Fletcher all tried their skill in what was more of a 550 yard sprint than a true hill climb. The last race took place in 1968 and the site soon fell into a gradual decline, the cost of maintaining that lavish building and site proving just too much. Eventually the hotel passed into receivership. and its future looked bleak. In 2012. though, it was bought by the Greyfort Group, which is owned by the Spollon family, who have links to historic motorsport and the VSCC, going back generations, via custodianship of some notable historic machines The family has ploughed millions into the complex, re-opening the hotel, which is now a rather splendid place to stay (I gather). It was inevitable, given the history, that reviving the motorsport would figure in the plans as well. Actually making this possible is no mean feat, of course, and early thoughts of running an event in 2013/4 were too ambitious. Planning permission was required, a new surface had to be built and surfaced, MSA approval was required, an MSA-approved club had to be formed (the Chateau Impney Hill Climb Club) and a course licence was required. The fact that the venue had previously held events counted for nothing in most of these steps, but eventually all the hurdles were overcome, with a new course that, at 1000 yards, is roughly twice the length of the old one in place, and the first event for nearly 50 years was finally held in 2015. I enjoyed that first event and have been back every year since.
With so much going on every single weekend of the season. I had not made specific plans to attend the 2018 running of the Chateau Impney event, until an online chat with a friend who lives locally, who was in the same position as me, led to us concluding that we would make a day of it. Literally the following day. We both sourced tickets on-line and agreed the time at which he would arrive at my house for us to pick one car to go in. We decided to take mine, and that proved to be the “right” decision, as when we arrived at Chateau Impney, no sooner had we turned off the main road, in a line of cars that were no proceeding very slowly on to site and I was gestured not to follow into the main parking area over the brow of the hill, but into the special parking area reserved for “special cars”. The person who made this decision was Stuart Webster, until recently the General Manager, who was on car park duty at this point. Now, whilst I knew who he was, I very much doubted he knew me. Stuart’s wife Maggie then appeared, also on duty, at which point I expressed my confusion saying that I identified with them with Prescott rather than here. They smiled and then one of them went off and came back and presented us with full VIP passes for the day – a very special upgrade which would give us not just a parking position among supercars, but also more than food than we could manage – breakfast, morning snack, lunch and afternoon tea were all available for the super-hungry – and access to parts of the event that an ordinary ticket does not provide. Although I never found out why we had been singled out, I think it was the fact that on the Saturday – the quieter day of this two day meet – the supercar parking area was going to be a bit empty and they wanted to fill it. And a Maserati Ghibli was deemed a suitable addition to the other cars in the area. Here is what we saw during the day:
IN THE PADDOCK
Although there are plenty of other attractions, the essence of this event is a Hill Climb. A huge field of cars enters every year, around 300 in total and these are grouped together in a long list of different classes, ranging from some splendid Edwardian machines, many of them with their massive and low-revving engines, through to some race machinery of the 1930s, the ever popular 500cc cars of the post-war period, converted saloon cars, and purpose-designed racers of more recent times. There’s unrestricted access to the Paddock, where the cars can be seen awaiting their turn, some being given last minute adjustments by their owners and drivers. The Start line is some way away, so cars leave in batches to head down there, which means you do need your wits around when moving around the Paddock. Many of the competing cars were ones I had seen here in previous years or are familiar from other events such as Prescott and Shelsley Walsh, but there were plenty of surprises, too.
Start point alphabetically is this lovely Abarth 1000TC. There is a complex history to the rest of the 600-based Abarths, starting with the 850TC, which actually predates the better known 595/695 cars. Officially known as the Fiat-Abarth 850TC Berlina (Turismo Competizione, or “touring competition”), it was introduced towards the end of 1960, using Fiat 600 bodywork with some modifications, most notably a boxlike structure ahead of the front bumper which held the engine’s oil cooler. The rear wings were usually blistered, to accommodate larger wheels. The engine is a four-cylinder model based on a Fiat unit, with 847 cc capacity and 51 hp. Overall length is 3,090 mm (122 in), overall width is 1,400 mm (55 in), height is 1,380 mm (54 in), wheelbase is 2,000 mm (80 in), and its front and rear track are 1,160 mm (46 in). The fuel tank holds 5.9 imperial gallons, and its empty weight was 793 kg (1,748 lb). The 850TC remained in the price lists until 1966. In 1962 the 850TC Nürburgring was introduced, with 55 PS at 6500 rpm. The name was intended to celebrate the class victory of an Abarth 850TC at the 1961 Nürburgring 500 km race. There followed the 850TC/SS with two more horsepower; this was renamed the 850TC Nürburgring Corsa towards the end of the year. Between 1962 and 1971 the 850cc and 1000cc class cars won hundreds of races all over the World and were commonly called “Giant Killers” due to their superior performance over much larger cars, culminating in a famous dispute with SCCA authorities in the USA when Alfred Cosentino (FAZA) was banned from running his 1970 Fiat Abarth Berlina Corsa 1000 TCR “Radiale” engine because his car was faster (mainly in wet conditions) to many V8 Mustangs, AMC AMX’s and Chev Camaro’s etc.The SCCA authorities dictated FAZA and Cosentino be forced to use an early design engine a non “Radiale” engine from 1962 model in his cars but still achieved 51 Victories from 53 races. The most victories in SCCA racing history, thereby cementing the superiority of the Fiat Abarth Berlina Corsa over larger and more powerful cars.
I was also delighted to see some classic 1930s Alfa Romeo models entered. In the mid-1920s, Alfa’s RL was considered too large and heavy, so a new development began. The 2-litre formula that had led to Alfa Romeo winning the Automobile World Championship in 1925, changed to 1.5-litres for the 1926 season. The 6C 1500 was introduced in 1925 at the Milan Motor Show. Series production started in 1927, with the P2 Grand Prix car as a starting point. Engine capacity was now 1,487 cc, as against the P2’s 1,987 cc, while supercharging was dropped. First versions were bodied by James Young and Touring. The more powerful 6C 1750 was introduced in 1929 in Rome. The car had a top speed of 95 mph, a chassis designed to flex and undulate over wavy surfaces, as well as sensitive geared-up steering. It was produced in six series between 1929 and 1933. The base model had a single overhead cam; Super Sport and Gran Sport versions had double overhead cam engines. Again, a supercharger was available. Most of the cars were sold as rolling chassis and bodied by coachbuilders such as Zagato, and Touring. Additionally, there were 3 examples built with James Young bodywork. In 1929, the 6C 1750 won every major racing event it was entered, including the Grands Prix of Belgium, Spain, Tunis and Monza, as well as the Mille Miglia was won with Giuseppe Campari and Giulio Ramponi, the Brooklands Double Twelve and the Ulster TT was won also, in 1930 it won again the Mille Miglia and Spa 24 Hours. Total production was 2635.
Encouraged by the success of the 6C, Alfa Romeo brought out Jano’s old P2 Grand Prix car for 1930 and commissioned him to design a brand new sports racer and GP car for 1931. The new GP car was a hugely complex twin-engined machine that was hardly competitive, but the new 8C 2300 sports racer has gone into history as one of the finest and most successful racing cars ever constructed. Jano’s biggest priority was designing a new and most importantly larger engine to take on the ever growing competition. As with the P2 of 1924, he opted for a straight eight configuration, but he started with a clean sheet. The engine was built up from two blocks of four cylinders with the gear drive to the overhead camshafts sandwiched in between. This effectively cut the length of the camshafts, which are prone to flexing in engines this long, in half. The two blocks were initially cast in steel, which was soon replaced by a lighter aluminium alloy. Also driven from the centre of the engine was a Roots-Type Supercharger. The displacement was set at just over 2.3 litre engine by virtue of an exceptionally long stroke of 88 mm compared to a bore of 65 mm. In standard trim the engine produced between 155 and 165 bhp. The competition engines were good for around 180 bhp. Towards the end of the 8C 2300s life, many engines were bored out to keep the cars competitive. One of the reasons the 6C was so successful was the nimble and lightweight chassis. Its sheet steel ladder frame was carried virtually unaltered and offered in short (2750 mm) and long (3100 mm) wheelbase versions. Suspension was also very conventional by live axles, semi-elliptic leaf springs and friction dampers all-round. Stopping power was provided by cable operated drums. Bolted to a four-speed gearbox, the straight eight engine was installed behind the front axle. A short wheelbase rolling chassis weighed in at 1000 kg. The chassis were delivered to preferred coach builders Touring and Zagato, who bodied both the street and racing cars. Between 1931 and 1934 a total of 188 chassis were produced in three series, many of which were raced in period. The first 8C 2300 was ready in time make its debut at the 1931 Mille Miglia, a gruelling race even for thoroughly developed cars. Two Zagato bodied cars were entered for Tazio Nuvolari and Luigi Arcangeli. The new 8Cs were blisteringly quick, which could be taken very literally as both suffered from tyre problems throughout the race. This handed the lead to Rudolf Caracciola in the massive 7.1 litre Mercedes-Benz ssK. In a desperate attempt to close the seventeen minute gap, Nuvolari went all out, but eventually crashed out; blinded by the dust cloud of the leader. Revenge came a few weeks later when a fully recovered Nuvolari took the 8C 2300’s first major victory during a very wet Targa Florio. It marked the start of many successful years in these great Italian road races, which were both won by the 8C 2300 three times in a row. The two cars used during the Targa Florio were of a slightly different specification and used a slightly shorter wheelbase of (2650mm). These were built as a stop-gap for Grand Prix racing before the twin-engined ‘Tipo A’ was ready. Both cars were raced side by side during the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on May 25th. The Tipo A’s debut was devastating with a fatal crash in practice with Arcangeli behind the wheel and the two cars entered in the ten hour race retiring very early. Nuvolari jumped from his Tipo A into an 8C 2300 after two hours and together with Giuseppe Campari he won the race. The subsequently built Grand Prix 8C 2300s were referred to as the Monza in honour of this win. Interestingly the slotted radiator cover that became the most typical feature of the ‘Monza’ was not found on the cars that raced in 1931. The 8C 2300 was successfully raced in Grands Prix until it was replaced by the Tipo B Monoposto in 1932. Hot on the heels of the Italian Grand Prix came the 24 Hours of Le Mans for which another distinctly different version of the 8C 2300 was prepared. This time the long chassis was used as additional space was required to fit the mandatory four-seater coachwork, which was built in aluminium by Zagato. Three cars were prepared, but only two were entered in the race after the third had blown its engine in practice. The strongest competition was again formed by the massive SSKs, which were right at home on the French track with its long straights. The Works entered 8C 2300 crashed out after 99 laps, leaving the British entered example to defend the Italians’ honour. Driven by entrant Lord Howe and former Bentley-boy Tim Birkin, the 8C survived the 24 hour race and finished over 100 km ahead of the fastest Mercedes. The 8C dominated the race in the following three editions, scoring a 1-2-3 in 1933 and coming very close to winning the legendary race for a fifth consecutive time in 1935. Although the Bugatti Type 35 has gone into history as the most successful racing car ever, the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 ranks as a close second or possibly even the Type 35’s equal with three wins in the Mille Miglia, three in the Targa Florio, four at Le Mans and the Grand Prix victory at Monza. For all its successes on the track, it is quite remarkable that the 8C 2300 was available to any customer for road use. One of the reasons the 8C 2300’s successes are forgotten at times is the attention grabbed by the Tipo B Monoposto Grand Prix car and the 8C 2900 sports racer that replaced it. All three of these fantastic machines were designed by the great Vittorio Jano and successfully raced by some of Italy’s greatest racing drivers. The thirties was certainly the finest decade in Alfa Romeo’s history.
At the same time, since racing cars were no longer required to carry a mechanic, Alfa Romeo built the first single seater race car. As a first attempt, the 1931 Monoposto Tipo A used a pair of 6-cylinder engines fitted side by side in the chassis.As the resulting car was too heavy and complex, Jano designed a more suitable and successful racer called Monoposto Tipo B (aka P3) for the 1932 Grand Prix season, creating the world’s first purpose designed single seater Grand Prix car. The Tipo B proved itself the winning car of its era, winning straight from its first outing at the 1932 Italian Grand Prix, and was powered with an enlarged version of the 8C engine now at 2,665 cc, fed through a pair of superchargers instead of a single one. Seen here is the Tipo B P3 which won the Monaco Grand Prix in 1932.
Racing in a class for Production Saloon Cars made between 1950 and 1967 was this Giulia Sprint GT. These cars are very popular among historic racers, which is one reason why the prices of all Giulia/GTV models has rocketed in recent years.
This is the Alvis Goodwin Special. The Goodwin was conceived as a sprint car by Billy Goodwin, who ran an engineering business near Macclesfield, Cheshire, with his brother Eric. Billy used to drive the ex-Embiricos E.R.A. R2A, owned at the time by Harry Caley, while Eric had made a name for himself at the wheel of a Kieft 500. Work on the car started in 1948, and the Goodwin ménage was an estimated £3,000 poorer before it emerged two years later. The chassis consists basically of two large parallel tubes, cross-braced by small transverse tubes, and with fabricated bearers for the engine, suspension, steering rack, and the differential. The “ladder” frame concept was beginning to be popular at the time, and the use of proprietary mechanical components was typical racing practice of the succeeding decade (e.g. H.M.W. and Connaught). The engine is a warmed-up Alvis 4.3 formerly blown from an ex-Goldie Gardner Centric supercharger mounted behind the radiator, fitted with a Scintilla Vertex magneto and R47 racing plugs, and solidly mounted on aluminium cones at four points: thus the partially-stressed crankcase contributes to the torsional stiffness of the chassis. It drove formerly through an E.N.V. pre-selector gearbox to an Alvis 3.8:1 c.w.p./differential, chassis-mounted in a specially-built housing. The suspension was all-independent by transverse leaf springs and single wishbones it la mode de Surbiton, but it was later found advantageous to invert the front springing mechanism and the wishbones are now at the top. (At the same time a standard Alvis all-synchromesh gearbox replaced the E.N.V. box, which could not stand the 200-odd horses). The front wishbones, kingpins and hub carriers are as fitted to the 1947 Super Snipe. The camber of each wheel can be adjusted in a matter of seconds by adjustment of the eccentric outer wishbone pin (rather like the fan mounting on Speed 20’s). The hydraulic brakes are by Lockheed, also out of a Humber, but the tandem master cylinders formerly belonged to a Lagonda. The hubs and wheels are Alvis “jelly-mould” type at the rear and 12/70 Rudge Whitworth at the front. The rear shock-absorbers are by courtesy of Rolls-Royce. The whole is clothed in a very shapely body modelled on the contemporary Grand Prix cars—the tail especially calls to mind the 41 Lago-Talbot, the Type 159 Alfa-Romeo and the V16 B.R.M. In Billy Goodwin’s hands the car competed successfully at various sprints in the north, and also at Prescott and at Shelsley Walsh (where at one time it held the record for Shelsley Specials). At this time it took about 14 seconds for the standing I/4 mile and 23 for the standing 1/2. Finally, he raced it at one of the early Oulton Park meetings in 1953, where he had an unpleasant experience when the release valve to the pressurised cooling system stuck. The header tank, fitted remotely over the scuttle, burst and covered his legs with super-heated water while approaching Knicker Brook at about 115 m.p.h. Goodwin managed to keep the car straight and get out, but after a spell of six weeks in hospital he decided to sell out. The car then passed through a number of hands, including Brian Naylor of J.B.W.-Maserati fame, who sold it for £800 in 1954 or 1955 (a price on a par with E.R.A.’s at that time). The Goodwin then became the pride and joy of a farmer near Matlock whose eccentricity was exceeded only by his temerity. He converted the car for road use by dint of fitting wings, lamps, a starter and a battery, and painting a red dragon on the side. He fitted a set of hacked-about carburettors and Kigass priming from a vintage Silver Eagle, and he replaced the supercharger with an orange box. With the 7.00 x 18 racing wheels on the front and sprint twin rear wheels on the back he would trundle off to the shops, returning with groceries sprouting out of the orange box under the bonnet and occasionally a pig in a trailer behind. However, the insurance company (not to mention the law) did not share his optimism and the car was laid up in a barn under a mantle of sacking and a five-bar gate. In 1963, Ian Kerr was frequently to be seen heading north-wards in the Powys-Lybbe or the short-chassis 4.3 tourer, and the word went discreetly round that something was afoot. Down through the years, the Spares Register had been keeping a paternal eye on the Goodwin’s progress, and when the time was ripe an approach was made and an offer proffered. However, the farmer seemed to prefer a Goodwin to gold, and there then started a protracted series of negotiations which closed a year later when a fairly large bundle of (stipulated) used pound notes changed hands. (The Kerr powers of persuasion were once again stretched to the utmost in order to convince the local bank manager that he was who he claimed to be, although in scruffy working gear—but that’s another story.) This was before Clink had invested in a smart transporter, and the immediate problem was to remove the car before second thoughts were had. There was nothing for it but to hitch it to the hack 25, and thus it was that patrolling policemen from Matlock to Assington were treated to the sight of a real racer on the road, wafted out of their ken before they were able to emit more than a strangled cry. After sundry dead livestock had been removed, it was decided to venture to start the engine. A goodly note soon awoke the burghers of Bures, and the oil pressure needle swung round reassuringly. A compression test revealed that all was well down below, in spite of the seizure that had resulted from the Oulton occurrence eleven years earlier. However, the head was found to be cracked, and this was duly replaced by a version with new valves and guides and shorter pushrods, suitably milled to give, with the milled block, a compression ratio of about 8:1 (compared with 6.3:1 standard). The full length exhaust system was discarded for four stubs and the tiny Silver Eagle carburettors exchanged for three of the correct calibre (1.5 inch). The engine is thus putting out about 170 brake horsepower, which is considered sufficient.
This is an Ulster. Between 1926 and 1937 Bertelli was both technical director and designer of all new Aston Martins, and the cars for which he was responsible are now known as “Bertelli cars”. They included the 1½-litre “T-type”, “International”, “Le Mans”, “MKII” and its racing derivative, the “Ulster”, and the 2-litre 15/98 and its racing derivative, the “Speed Model”. Most were open two-seater sports cars bodied by Bert Bertelli’s brother Enrico (Harry), with a small number of long-chassis four-seater tourers, dropheads and saloons also produced. Bertelli was a competent driver keen to race his cars, one of few owner/manufacturer/drivers. The “LM” team cars were very successful in national and international motor racing including at Le Mans and the Mille Miglia. Whereas two of the 1934 Tourist Trophy Team Cars were rebuilt Le Mans racers, this, the third car, LM17, was built on a brand new chassis. It finished the TT in 7th overall and completed the Aston Martin 1-2-3 result. Ahead of the 1935 season, it was sold to privateer racer Maurice Falkner. He used it to win the 1.5-litre class in that year’s Mille Miglia and also competed in the 1935 Tourist Trophy and the 1936 Spa 24 Hours. Restored to its original, 1934 Tourist Trophy specification and colours, it has been part of Nick Mason’s collection for many years and here it was driven by Holly, his daughter.
This is a Speedwell Sprite. John Sprinzel, George Hulbert and Len Adams established Speedwell Tuning Conversions in June 1957, following John’s success with an Austin A35. With the introduction of the Sprite the following year it was not long before they turned their attentions to tuning, modifying, racing and rallying these little sportscars. Towards the end of 1958 they decided to try and improve the aerodynamics of the Frogeye/Bugeye bonnet. They approached Frank Costin, then chief designer at Lister, with the idea of re-designing the front end, a project which luckily “took his fancy”. A prototype bonnet was made in aluminium – as were 5 or so more before production was changed to fibreglass, and this subsequently became known as the Speedwell Monza bonnet. To quote from John Baggott’s recently published book “Frogeye Sprite – the complete story”: “Frank also designed the coupé roof section with a windscreen that had a greater rake than a standard Sprite and was more curved. Like the bonnet, the prototype was formed in aluminium alloy and would later be used to make moulds (I presume this never happened) to enable them to be produced in fibreglass. Many regarded the finished article as a smaller version of the Costin-designed Lotus Elite. The Speedwell GT sales brochure highlighted the car’s aerodynamic styling, all-round visibility, luxurious interior, perfect braking and 60 bhp engine. It was described as a true Grand Touring car designed to incorporate all the requirements of the fastidious motorist’. A particular feature was the curved side windows, which were handmade from Perspex sheet.” John’s research has revealed that a total of around 25 Speedwell GTs were produced. Aluminium fabrication for the prototype which initially carried Sprinzel’s personal number PMO 200, and two or 3 more cars was by Williams & Pritchard. However, the later cars all came from Classic Motor Crafts who were able to give the cars more time at a cheaper price. With business continuing to grow, the idea was hatched of getting a special body for the Sprite, which – back in those days – received a great deal of scorn for those ridiculous headlamps. Even Gerry Coker, who had designed the Sprite with retractable lights, refused to take any credit back then, although he nowadays jokes that as the “Frogeyes” have become so popular, he is happy to do so today. Graham’s [Hill] presence caused Mike Costin to drop in most mornings to our works in the Finchley Road with the prototype Elite that Lotus were about to release, and that is how we got to know his half-brother Frank, who was a serious aerodynamicist with many race car shapes for Lotus, Vanwall and others to his credit. Frank first designed a new streamlined front with a small Jaguar-like air intake, and Stuart Turner and I debuted this on the Liege-Rome-Liege four day and night road race, with a Class win, so obviously the airflow improvements were working”.
This is another regular at Prescott and Shelsley. A Ballamy Ford V8 Special, it was created by Leslie Ballamy in 1937, by taking a 1932 Model-18 frame, shortening it by 18 inches with split-axle independent suspension on the front which cuts the old Ford beam in half. The engine is a 1939 flathead and wheels are from 1935. The car was made for trials and hillclimbs but also raced at Brooklands pre-war. The current owner, Mark Brett, has been driving it since 1973 when his father found it.
There were a number of the legendary Bentley 3 litre entered here.
Popular in historic saloon car racing are the “Neue Klasse”, and closely related 02 series of cars. These were the range of BMWs that really launched the modern marque. Initially sold as a 1500cc saloon, it was not long before a larger 1800cc unit appeared and then a more potent 1800Ti version was added to the range. The 02 series appeared in 1966, initially with a 1600cc engine, but larger more potent 2 litre model were added to the range within a couple of years.
Perhaps the zaniest car of the day was this 1913 Bramble cyclecar. Bramble were a Coventry sidecar manufacturer, and that forms the body. The chassis frame is two large diameter bamboos as side members. Power comes from a single cylinder air cooled 500cc JAP engine (from around 1908) which is mounted on the side. It’s belt driven and has 2 forward speeds, reverse is driven by feet via a whole in the floor. A single gas lamp is fitted for night time driving. It was put together by Mark Walker in the early 1990s.
British Racing Motors was established in the 1940s to build a British Grand Prix car. The result was the iconic Type 15, powered by a 1½-litre 16-cylinder supercharged engine, and the first car to use disc brakes in road racing. Although ultimately unsuccessful, the BRM was a stepping stone on the path to Britain’s dominance of the sport in later years. Even with drivers such as Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss, BRM V16s met with little success, finishing in only one World Championship event, the 1951 British Grand Prix. This car, chassis 1/01, was driven to fifth place in that race by Reg Parnell. BRM was founded by Raymond Mays and Peter Berthon, creators of the pre-war ERA car, with backing from the British motor industry. It became part of the Owen Racing Organisation in 1952, gaining 17 Grand Prix victories between 1959 and 1972. This amazing car was making a rare sortie from the National Motor Museum where it can usually be seen.
Also well known as a model, indeed many would tell you that this is THE classic Bugatti, is the Type 35 and there were three of these models entered: a pair of Type 35B and a single Type 35C. The Type 35 was phenomenally successful, winning over 1,000 races in its time. It took the Grand Prix World Championship in 1926 after winning 351 races and setting 47 records in the two prior years. At its height, Type 35s averaged 14 race wins per week. Bugatti won the Targa Florio for five consecutive years, from 1925 through 1929, with the Type 35. The original model, introduced at the Grand Prix of Lyon on August 3, 1924, used an evolution of the 3-valve 1991 cc overhead cam straight-8 engine first seen on the Type 29. Bore was 60 mm and stroke was 88 mm as on many previous Bugatti models. 96 examples were produced. This new powerplant featured five main bearings with an unusual ball bearing system. This allowed the engine to rev to 6000 rpm, and 90 hp was reliably produced. Solid axles with leaf springs were used front and rear, and drum brakes at back, operated by cables, were specified. Alloy wheels were a novelty, as was the hollow front axle for reduced unsprung weight. A second feature of the Type 35 that was to become a Bugatti trademark was passing the springs through the front axle rather than simply U-bolting them together as was done on their earlier cars. A less expensive version of the Type 35 appeared in May, 1925. The factory’s Type 35A name was ignored by the public, who nicknamed it “Tecla” after a famous maker of imitation jewellery. The Tecla’s engine used three plain bearings, smaller valves, and coil ignition like the Type 30. While this decreased maintenance requirements, it also reduced output. 139 of the Type 35As were sold. The Type 35C featured a Roots supercharger, despite Ettore Bugatti’s disdain for forced induction. Output was nearly 128 hp with a single Zenith carburettor. Type 35Cs won the French Grand Prix at Saint-Gaudens in 1928, and at Pau in 1930. Fifty examples left the factory. The final version of the Type 35 series was the Type 35B of 1927. Originally named Type 35TC, it shared the 2.3 litre engine of the Type 35T but added a large supercharger like the Type 35C. Output was 138 hp, and 45 examples were made. A British Racing Green Type 35B driven by William Grover-Williams won the 1929 French Grand Prix at Le Mans.
The Type 35 chassis and body were reused on the Type 37 sports car. Fitted with a new 1496 cc straight-4 engine, 290 Type 37s were built. This engine was an SOHC 3-valve design and produced 60 hp The same engine went on to be used in the Type 40. There was also one Type 37 entered.
The 1956 Chapman Mercury III (CMIII) was built by a self-taught mechanic almost 60 years ago. It was taking part here driven by Oliver Tomlin, the grandson of its original creator and driver. The CMIII was built by motor racing enthusiast Phil Chapman. He longed for a car he could both drive on the road and race at weekends, but as he couldn’t afford the price tag of a performance car, he decided to build his own. Working with minimal tools and facilities, Phil designed and made the first incarnation of the Mercury – CMI – in a corrugated-iron shed in the late 1940s. CMIII was the third incarnation of Phil’s dream, designed from the inside out, starting with sketches of the chassis in chalk on the garage floor. From there, Phil cut and welded the tubing and built the fibreglass mould for the body, no mean feat in the early fifties! The finished CMIII was a resounding success and allowed Phil to realise his dream of competing in hill climbs and sprints throughout the late fifties and early sixties. He won numerous awards and raced at the original Chateau Impney sprint events. Phil ran CMIII until 1964, when he reluctantly sold it to fund his next project, having dreamed up a new car – the CMIV – with his own four-wheel-drive system. Phil bought back the CMIII, in the late 1970s, rebuilt it and returned to hill climbing. This time he shared competitions with his daughter, Oliver’s mother, Sandra Tomlin, who had caught the hill climb bug from accompanying her father to events as a child. Sandra graduated to driving single-seater hill climb cars and held numerous ladies’ records, including at Wiscombe, Gurston, Prescott, Shelsley Walsh, Loton Park and Harewood, between 1999 and 2014. As Phil grew older, he decided to withdraw from the sport altogether and loaned the car to the next generation of the family – his grandson, Oliver. Phil died in 2011, but his competitive genes and the car have continued to thrive. Today his daughter Sandra, and her children Oliver, 39, and Amy, 36, regularly compete at hill climb events across the country, with Oliver proudly driving his grandfather’s Chapman Mercury III.
There were two examples of the Chevron B8 competing here. This is a marque which has celebrated its 50th anniversary during 2015. Founded by Englishman Derek Bennett in 1965, the company became particularly renowned for their sports racing cars producing quite a number of different designs in the following years, though they struggled after Bennett’s death in a hang gliding accident in 1978. Many of the GTs and single seaters which they produced acquired an almost cult-like following, and plenty of them were driven by well-known drivers starting off their careers. .A GT in fixed-head and open form, the B8 was homologated in 1968 as a Group 4 car. 44 examples were made, of which 35 used BMW engines.
Connaught Engineering, often referred to simply as Connaught, was a Formula One and sports car constructor from the United Kingdom. Their cars participated in 18 Grands Prix, entering a total of 52 races with their A, B, and C Type Formula 2 and Formula 1 Grand Prix Cars. They achieved 1 podium and scored 17 championship points. The name Connaught is a pun on Continental Autos, the garage in Send, Surrey, which specialised in sales and repair of European sports cars such as Bugatti, and where the cars were built. In 1950, the first single-seaters, the Formula 2 “A” types, used an engine that was developed by Connaught from the Lea-Francis engine used in their “L” type sports cars. The engine was extensively re-engineered and therefore is truly a Connaught engine. The cars were of conventional construction for the time with drive through a preselector gearbox to a de Dion rear axle. In 1952 and 1953, the races counting towards the World Championship were to Formula 2 rules so drivers of these cars could take part in those events as the table below shows. Connaught designed a new car for the 2½ litre Formula 1 of 1954 which was to have a rear-mounted Coventry Climax V8 engine (the “Godiva”), but when the engine was not proceeded with, a conventionally arranged “B” type was designed using an Alta engine developed into 2½ litre form. The first cars were built with all-enveloping aerodynamic bodywork but later rebodied conventionally (as the photos below show). In 1955, driving a Connaught in this form, Tony Brooks scored the first win in a Grand Prix by a British driver in a British car since 1923, in a non World Championship race at Syracuse. Thereafter the “B” type has been known as the “Syracuse” Connaught and the name was used for the car presented in the 2004 revival. Seen here was an A7 from 1953.
The Delahaye 135, also known as “Coupe des Alpes” after its success in the Alpine Rally, was first presented in 1935 and signified Delahaye’s decision to build sportier cars than before. The 3.2-litre overhead valve straight-six with four-bearing crankshaft was derived from one of Delahaye’s truck engines and was also used in the more sedate, longer wheelbase (3,160 mm or 124 in) Delahaye 138. Power was 95 bhp in twin carburettor form, but 110 hp were available in a version with three downdraught Solex carbs, offering a 148 km/h (92 mph) top speed. The 138 had a single carburetor and 76 bhp, and was available in a sportier 90 bhp iteration. The 135 featured independent, leaf-sprung front suspension, a live rear axle, and cable operated Bendix brakes. 17-inch spoked wheels were also standard. Transmission was either a partially synchronized four-speed manual or four-speed Cotal pre-selector transmission. Competition 135s set the all-time record at the Ulster Tourist Trophy and placed second and third in the Mille Miglia in 1936, and the 1938 24 Hours of Le Mans. The list of independent body suppliers offering to clothe the 135 chassis is the list of France’s top coachbuilders of the time, including Figoni & Falaschi, Letourneur et Marchand, Guilloré, Marcel Pourtout, Frères Dubois, J Saoutchik, Franay, Antem and Henri Chapron. Production of the 3.2-litre version ended with the German occupation in 1940 and was not taken up again after the end of hostilities. A larger-displacement (3,557 cc) 135M was introduced in 1936. Largely the same as the regular 135, the new engine offered 90, 105, or 115 hp with either one, two, or three carburetors. As with the 135/138, a less sporty, longer wheelbase version was also built, called the “148”. The 148 had a 3,150 mm wheelbase, or 3,350 mm in a seven-seater version. On the two shorter wheelbases, a 134N was also available, with a 2,150 cc four-cylinder version of the 3.2-litre six from the 135. Along with a brief return of the 134, production of 148, 135M, and 135MS models was resumed after the end of the war. The 135 and 148 were then joined by the larger engined 175, 178, and 180 derivatives. The 135M continued to be available alongside the newer 235 until the demise of Delahaye in 1954. Presented in December 1938 and built until the outbreak of war in 1940, the Type 168 used the 148L’s chassis and engine (engine code 148N) in Renault Viva Grand Sport bodywork. Wheelbase remained 315 cm while the use of artillery wheels rather than spoked items meant minor differences in track. This curious hybrid was the result of an effort by Renault to steal in on Delahaye’s lucrative near monopoly on fire vehicles: after a complaint by Delahaye, Renault relinquished contracts it had gained, but in return Delahaye had to agree to purchase a number of Viva Grand Sport bodyshells. In an effort to limit the market of this cuckoo’s egg, thus limiting the number of bodyshells it had to purchase from Renault, Delahaye chose to equip it with the unpopular Wilson preselector (even though the marketing material referred to the Cotal version). This succeeded very well, and with the war putting a stop to car production, no more than thirty were supposedly built. Strong, wide, and fast, like their Viva Grand Sport half sisters, the 168s proved popular with the army. Many were equipped to run on gazogène during the war and very few (if any) remain. An even sportier version, the 135MS, soon followed; 120–145 hp were available, with competition versions offering over 160 hp. The 135MS was the version most commonly seen in competition, and continued to be available until 1954, when new owners Hotchkiss finally called a halt. The MS had the 2.95 m wheelbase, but competition models sat on a shortened 2.70 m chassis. The type 235, a rebodied 135MS with ponton-style design by Philippe Charbonneaux, appeared in 1951. The 135 was successful as racing car during the late 1930s, winning the Monte Carlo rally 1937 and 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1938. The Le Mans victory, with Chaboud and Trémoulet at the wheel, was decisive, with two more Delahayes coming in second and fourth. A regular 135 came seventh at the 1935 Le Mans, and in 1937 135MS came in second and third. Appearing again in 1939, two 135MS made it to sixth and eighth place, and again after the war the now venerable 135MS finished in 5th, 9th, and 10th. 135s finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 11th and 12th in the 1936 French Sports Car Grand Prix at Montlhéry. John Crouch won the 1949 Australian Grand Prix driving a 135MS.
A somewhat unlikely competitor, is this 1960 Coronet, though I have to say it is a car I have seen tackling the hill at Prescott with some gusto (and plenty of body lean and tyre squealing!).
This is a Mark 7S, and is a common sight at hill climb events in the region. In the year 1955, Frank G. Nichols founded the Elva sports car manufacturing company. Based in Hastings, United Kingdom, the name Elva comes from the French phrase ‘ella va’ which means ‘she goes’. Unfortunately financial problems that were caused by the failure of the U.S. distributor the Elva Company was sold to Trojan in 1961. Production was relocated to Rye, Sussex, and again in 1966 to the main Trojan factory in Croydon. In 1965 Ken Sheppard from Customized Sports Cars of Shenley, Hertfordshire purchased Elva from Trojan, but unfortunately production ended in 1968. In 1954, Frank Nichols built his first sports racers. They was designed by Mick Chapman and created specifically for competition. Upon completion, they were taken to the track and competed with similar small displacement Lotus sports-races from Colin Chapman. With the car showing tremendous promise, Nicholes decided to emulate its design with the first few Elva live rear axle sports-racers. MK II featured a deDion rear axle. The MK IV had fully independent suspension and was the first Elva with a tubular space frame. The ultimate front-engined, drum-brake Elva sports racer was the small displacement sports-racer MK V. Only thirteen examples were produced. Power was from the Coventry-Climax FWB single overhead camshaft engine, and they were competitive (perhaps better), than Chapman’s Lotus 11 in England, Europe and the United States. Twenty-eight Elva MKVI models were produced with production beginning in December of 1961 and lasting until October of 1962. Most were powered by the Coventry Climax FWA 1100cc engine, although a few were given Ford push-rod power and other engines. Drum brakes were standard as their low weight and small displacement engines did not necessitate a need for discs. The MK VI were the first of the modern ultra low ‘lay down’ sports racers. They made their debut at the Brands Hatch Boxing day race in England on December of 1961. They were popular in the US as a club racer in the G-Modified class. They enjoyed much success through the 1962 season but were soon eclipsed by the Lotus 23 and its successor, the Elva MK VII. There were a total of around 69-72 examples of the MKVII produced between 1963 through 1965. Engine options varied, some were fitted with Lotus/Ford 1600cc, Ford Cosworth 1100cc, (Porsche, Climax, Lotus Twin Cam, and BMW) and various other units. The last Elva Sports Racers were the Mark VIII. They were based on the highly successful MK VII and VIIS, and fitted with the most state-of-the-art-technology of the era. They were sold without engines and never officially used as factory competition cars; they were raced with much success by privateers, such as Carl Haas. The MKVIII had rocker arm front suspension, a rigid chassis design, aerodynamic body, and a number of other innovations making them formidable competition against the Lotus 23s and other ‘2-liter and Under’ competitors.
There were fewer ERA cars entered this year than has been the case in previous years, with just 2 of them present on the Saturday when I visited. Better known of the pair was this one, R4D. the last development of this classic voiturette racing car, the only D-Type ever built. Originating as R4B in 1935, the car was rebuilt as a C-Type by modifying the front end of the chassis frame to accommodate independent Porsche-type torsion bar front suspension. Over the winter of 1937-38 the car was given a completely new fully boxed frame, and was designated R4D. This was the first ERA to be fitted with a Zoller supercharger (in 1935), and R4D accumulated a formidable competition record in its various guises, finally being purchased from the works by Raymond Mays, and running as a privately entered car in 1939. Mays set numerous pre-war records in R4D, including Prescott and Shelsley Walsh hill climbs, Brighton Sprints and Brooklands Mountain Circuit. Mays describes his history with the car in his book Split Second. After World War II R4D continued in active competition, but the demands on Mays’s time created by the evolving BRM project meant he competed less frequently. In 1952 Mays sold R4D to Ron Flockhart. In 1953 Flockhart had a phenomenally successful season, winning the Bo’ness hill climb in a record setting 33.82 seconds. The car was featured on the cover of Autosport magazine. This success led to his joining the BRM team as a works driver, and later successes at Le Mans and elsewhere. In 1954 Ken Wharton purchased R4D from Flockhart and used the car to win the RAC Hill Climb Championship. In 1955 he used R4D and his Cooper to finish equal first in the hill climb championship with Tony Marsh. Since Wharton was a multiple previous winner, the RAC awarded the championship to newcomer Marsh. An achievement of R4D in the post-war era is that it has won the Brighton Speed Trials seven times, driven by Raymond Mays four times and Ken Wharton three times, more wins than any other car at this event. The owner after Ken Wharton was the pseudonymous “T. Dryver,” creator of the aero-engined De Havilland-M.G. Special. He raced the ERA in the Brighton Speed Trials in 1957 but his chance of achieving fastest-time-of-the-day was spoiled by rain.From the mid-fifties onward, the car had a variety of owners, but achieved notable success in historic racing in the hands of Neil Corner and Willie Green (the latter driving for Anthony Bamford). R4D rose to pre-eminence again in the hands of Anthony Mayman, achieving many successes and setting many pre-war records at various venues. In recent years the car has been owned and driven by James Baxter and Mac Hulbert, and continues to be one of the most successful pre-war racing cars still active in competition, having set new pre-war records at numerous venues. That trend continued, with Baxter winning the class at this event.
Anthony J. Merrick prepared and raced R1A until its then owner sold the car. Being without a car the resourceful Merrick shuffled his stock of genuine ERA parts and came up with AJM1. The 1980s brand new 1930s car is said to be an 80% original ERA B-type car using a 1.5 litre engine and light green early works colour scheme, though it has since been repainted in red.
Fafnir was a German engine and vehicle manufacturer based in Aachen. They made a range of cars between 1908 and 1926. The company was founded in 1894 producing needles. With the growth of the bicycle industry, they started to make wheel spokes. In 1898, the company was registered as “Carl Schwanemeyer, Aachener Stahlwarenfabrik AG”. From 1902 the name “Fafnir” started to be used on the company’s products, including a range of motorcycle engines. In 1904, the company started to produce kits, consisting of an engine and associated components, to allow others, particularly bicycle makers, to enter into motor vehicle production. These were sold under the name “Omnimobil”. The kit at first was based around a two-cylinder engine rated at 6 HP with later a larger option with a four-cylinder, 16 HP unit. Beginning in 1908, finished cars were manufactured with the type “274” with a 1520 cc engine and a maximum speed of 60 km/h (37 mph) and the type “284” with 2012cc capable of 70 km/h (43 mph). The engines had overhead inlet and side exhaust valves. By 1912 six different models were available at prices between 4,100 and 16,000 German Reichsmark (RM). In 1919, the company changed its name to Aachener Stahlwarenfabrik Fafnir-AG. The pre war 1924 cc Typ 472 and 2496 cc Typ 384 were re-introduced and a new Typ 471 with 1950 cc engine announced which could be bought with a supercharger. The Typ “471” proved to be the last car model made and survived in production until 1927. Fafnir had its own racing team running up to seven cars with drivers including Rudolf Caracciola. A replica of one of the racing cars has been built in the UK and competed in number of VSCC events fitted with a WW1 Hall-Scott aero engine, which is what is seen here. Fafnir production methods were very labour-intensive, and with the difficult trading conditions of the 1920s failed to compete with the large manufacturers. Prices were reduced, but losses mounted and with debts of 1.8 million RM the banks forced the company into bankruptcy in 1925 with a resulting closure in 1926.
A car I’d not seen at UK events before is this 519S. 2411 were produced in total between 1922 and 1927. Approximately 25 are known worldwide of which one is a genuine 519S and three others are shortened 519s. Three have the pointed 519S radiator and the other two are flat.
There was a whole class for these miniscule machines, all with engines that were under 500cc, a concept conceived for low budget racing in the post war period.
This company was founded in 1922 by Archibald Frazer-Nash who had, with Henry Ronald Godfrey founded and run the GN cyclecar company. The company was established in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, moving to Isleworth, Middlesex in 1929. The company entered receivership in 1927 and re-emerged as AFN Limited. The majority of AFN was acquired by H. J. (“Aldy”) Aldington in 1929 and run by the three Aldington brothers, H.J., Donald A. and William H. Aldy’s son, John Taylor (“JT”) Aldington was the last of the family owners/directors until AFN Ltd was sold to Porsche GB. The company produced around 400 of the famous chain drive models between 1924 and 1939. They were all built to order, with a surprisingly long list of different models offered during this time. Most had 1.5 litre 4 cylinder engines, and many of the models were built only in single digits, but the Fast Tourer/Super Sports and the TT Replica models were made in significant quantity. Seen here were examples of the Super Sports and the Shelsley as well as a couple of Specials.
There were several examples of the GN here.
The GN Spider is a well known car that can frequently be seen competing at hill climb events. You might say this was the grand-daddy of all vintage specials. First of a famous trio of GN-based, bug-nomenclatured one-offs (Wasp and Gnat being the others), Spider turned an assemblage of unassuming parts into a sprint car which, on its own turf, was unbeatable. Since then, unfeasibly fast specials have been at the core of VSCC racing; and Spider has mixed it with them, on and off, throughout that time. But, for the non-VSCC members among you, beware the two Spiders. Basil Davenport, the single-minded eccentric behind Spider, brought the car out after WWII, and was so encouraged by how the old machine performed against recent opposition that he built a new version with a thumping 2-litre V-twin. That one, usually known as Spider 2, is not the one we are looking at. Davenport himself called them merely Spider and Big Spider, so let’s stick with that. For convenience, Davenport stripped parts from the original to build Big Spider, and as owner David Leigh says, ‘The cannibalisation is the subject of great debate.” It seems that the body did service on the later car for a while. But as chassis, engine and axles were clearly different, the car Davenport later reassembled has to be substantially the same vehicle. Like any special, it has matured in phases from its 1923 inception, when Davenport bought the prototype V-twin 1086cc air-cooled Vitesse engine from Archie Frazer-Nash and slotted it into a light GN cyclecar chassis, converted to centre-steering. Though looking promising in sprints and hill-climbs through 1924, Spider only took off when Davenport bought the engine from Nash’s works racer `Mowgli’. This 1500cc powerhouse boasted four-valve cylinder heads and twin-spark ignition, and throughout 1925 brought Davenport a mixture of impressive results and engine seizures. The following year saw Spider take its first major scalp — a 48.8sec record up Shelsley Walsh, the first-ever to crack 50sec, beating Raymond Mays’ TT Vauxhall. Suddenly, this gawky interloper was a major player. In 1927, after redesigning the crankcase with staggered barrels, to allow straight conrods, and switching to alcohol fuel, Davenport intensified his duel with Mays, that lover of all things refined — which did not include a plebeian hill-climb special. First, his supercharged 2-litre Mercedes-Benz, and then his very powerful Vauxhall-Villiers found Spider heading them; and when the German aces came to Shelsley Walsh in 1930, Spider scaled the hill in 44.6, almost 2sec quicker than Rudi Caracciola’s SSK Mercedes, and again taking the record from Mays. Frustratingly, Hans Stuck’s Austro-Daimler then put up a record-shattering 42.8. But the point was clear: you didn’t need factory expertise to run at the top. Through the early ’30s, Davenport tweaked the car, but progress overtook it, and when business intervened, Spider retired to the workshop until that post-war revival. David Leigh has been chain-driven most of his life: his father has run Frazer Nashes since 1945, and David has campaigned them since he was 20. His passion for Spider goes back to 1979 when, on a trip to Shelsley Walsh, he met the car and its ageing creator. They struck up a friendship, and soon David, though still at school, was visiting Davenport and doing small jobs on the car. He became hooked on the spindly machine, and says that he remembers waking up one night thinking, ‘I have to own that car’. When Davenport died, he left the car to Ron Sant, who had worked on it for many years. But when the time came to part with it, the buyer was obvious. Leigh sold his own Frazer Nash trials car and, in 1994, became Spider’s new custodian, and probably only its third driver. Since then he has driven it frequently, and it’s getting quicker and quicker. Having been the first to break 50sec at Shelsley Walsh, Davenport’s life-long ambition was then to break 40sec. He never managed it; but in 1997, David did it for him. It was one of the great moments of his tenure. “It’s due to modem tyres and the new track surface,” he says modestly, though there has been mechanical progress along the years, too. With a tiny motorbike oil pump squirting the necessary to the main bearings through a drilled crank instead of the gravity-fed drips of old, David can stretch to 5000rpm, a grand up on what Davenport dared. He has dropped the smaller 17in wheels Davenport latterly used for more period-looking 19in rims, but says the Avon GP bike tyres they wear are ideal. Like any chain-drive GN or Nash, Spider has a solid rear axle which gives fierce traction. “The first SO yards are extraordinary ,” says Leigh. “I can keep my foot nailed to the floor up to the Esses — but it takes a bit of courage.” On the Worcester climb, where, as Leigh points out, “You only have to slow once,” Spider’s lack of front brakes is no handicap. The next trick is to fiddle the ratios: chain drive means any of the four sprockets on the rear axle can be changed simply, and Leigh plans to make third lower than second to give him the perfect punch out of the Esses as he works his way up the ‘box. Spider has had plenty of use since Leigh took over the stewardship — almost every vintage Shelsley Walsh meeting and several others a season. But there was an enforced lay-off in 1997 after the engine turned itself inside out halfway up the hill. David cheerily pulls out a box of twisted rods and shards of crankcase to illustrate the drama, which erupted just after he had put in Spider’s bestever time on the hill — 39.23sec. This metallic mayhem meant making new patterns to cast a new crankcase, though the broken one only dated from the ’70s, part of the car’s continuous development saga. On the other hand, Leigh says the heads, camboxes and magnetos are the same ones which Davenport bought from Archie Frazer-Nash in 1924. Leigh’s mechanical minder Phil Spencer reassembled the machine in time for the MAC’s Shelsley Walsh Centenary last year, letting David score his other major highlight — beating the ERAs. Alright, it was only on the wet Saturday, and come Sunday they were several seconds ahead again, but the fact remains that, in the drizzle, Spider’s slender Avons sliced through the spray 3sec faster than the racing cars from Bourne. After climbing aboard, the driver has only two pedals to play with, a dainty throttle and a clutch; a lever on the side stirs the brakes. And so does the lever on the other side — Davenport’s neat way of heeding the law’s requirement for two stopping systems. Squeezed into the hip-hugging F1-tight cockpit is an old leather seat (“It’s not as old as it looks — the leather’s from a settee”), while overhanging it is a hefty cord-bound steering wheel, which has been a lot higher than the top of Shelsley Walsh. “Basil only crashed the car once, but he turned it over and smashed the old wheel. He got this one from a Handley-Page bomber.” You need the leverage because it goes from lock to lock in about half a turn. “She’s so well balanced, you just nudge it,” says David, grabbing the wheel with both hands to demonstrate. It’s clearly far from featherweight Behind its four slim spokes, the cast-ally bulkhead carries a bare survival pack of instruments: big rev-counter, two mag switches and a gauge for the air-pressurised fuel system. Not much to distract you. That human torpedo body, which lifts off with the twist of six wing nuts, is heavier than you’d think, which is probably why it has lasted. Dents, scrapes and welded tears are its duelling scars, with a truncated tip to witness Davenport’s wheelbase-shortening exercise for the new engine — down to a corner-cutting 7ft 6in. But that bonnet is just a front Remove that rearing prow and there’s nothing underneath but a wooden bar to stiffen it. A neat exercise in image promotion which has made, and kept, Spider as one of those instantly recognisable characters on the vintage scene through eight decades. But it has worn a different outfit in the past, During the ’20s, you had to have a mechanic aboard to race on Southport’s sand. Having tried a perch for his mechanic on the tail, Davenport gave in and produced a two-seater body with a sliver of a seat behind him — the result looked like a child’s pedal car. In the carefree days after WWI, Davenport often drove Spider to meetings, though later he would tow it behind his road-going GN. David still has Spider’s logbook (and its entire paper history), which shows it as chassis No EX145: “I expect Basil just made that up.” Today it hitches a lift by trailer; but it is taxed and registered, and David has been known to drive it the five miles to Curborough Sprint with its detachable silencers attempting to quell the thumping rasp of the big V-twin, unfiltered Solex carbs noisily gulping methanol from the tiny tank in the tail.
Having made its UK debut at this event a couple of years ago, it was good to see once more this quite incredible looking machine, a replica of the AM80 Montlhery record car of 1930. This car dates back to an era of purposed-built sports cars all built in the quest of speed. Many of the cars used in those days survive – the Birkin Bentley, Derby Maserati, Napier Railton, MG Bellevue, being just a few of those high-profile cars. Sadly however, not all did survive and you’re often left to wonder what happened to ‘that’ car in the grainy black and white image and how would it look, sound and feel today if it had it survived the inevitable finance director’s sword. One of those lost leviathans staring back at you from that grainy black and white image was from the Paris stable of Hotchkiss; a record setting developed AM80 3 litre 6 cylinder single seater. Between 12th and 28th September 1929, over 40,000 kms were covered with an average speed of 106km/hr with 46 world records achieved, this first incarnation what immediately recognisable with the trade marque Hotchkiss radiator, a heavily raked windshield improved aerodynamics. In the first 10 days 1000 laps per day were covered with driver changes every 300 laps and 26,500 kms covered. As the years progressed the car evolved from 1929 – 1934 the car was much a closed cockpit with cigar shape, with a number of spot-lamps positioned in the front cowl the rear finished with long tapering tail behind the driver. Her record log still remains a very impressive read to this day. For those cars that have now rested for nearly a century, there are two routes back to life from these grainy original photographs. Firstly and ideally, is to find the original remains buried in the ground or in a barn. Secondly, the car can be recreated by the laborious process of searching many auto-jumbles and adverts, finding all the correct parts from marque of car and to build afresh, to create a true reincarnation of that lost car, and that is what was to be seen here, a replica built in the last 10 years. The car as presented here is very much of the body style of the final 1935 open cockpit evaluation as seen in competition in the 21st September 1935 in the BRDC 500 miles race at Brooklands. The car being piloted by Albert Divo and Harry Rose at this event was powered by a normally aspirated 2 litre 4 cylinder, the preferred power unit and pitching themselves against the might of the six cylinder 1986cc Riley’s. The fastest of the Riley’s lapped at 111.94mph, where as the Hotchkiss managed a creditable 110mph and finished 6th overall. The copied magazine articles covering these exploits in detail accompany this extraordinary Replica motorcar. The AM80 Hotchkiss remained lost to our generation until a chance meeting of two men; Steve Smith, who has run a company called Vibration Free for years and, after a run out in a customer’s pre World War Two “Talbot Lago’s” he decided that he needed to own something Pre-war himself. That client, VSCC stalwart John Guyatt, happened to have a Hotchkiss AM 80 project sitting in an out building and available. A deal was swiftly done, Steve decided that the final 1935 Divo version of the record braking car was the one he would return to life, and so the ultimate evolution of Hotchkiss’s record car was to be reborn. From 1929 to 1935 Hotchkiss constantly evolved their single AM80 record car through I believe 6 evolutions, but it was sadly culled as a project in 1935, and the original failed to survive the Second World War. The exact fascinating story of Steve’s build process is well documented in magazine articles in the car’s history file, but suffice it to say that 3D scanning and the most skilled of panel working led to its shape. Along side sound engineering practice, running to a custom made crankshaft, new connecting rods and “off the shelf” new pistons contributing to the rebuild of the “oily bits” and Steve produced, after four years of dedicated labour, this wonderful attention-grabbing machine.
Kurtis Kraft was initially a manufacturer of midget race cars, for the quarter mile dirt ovals, and gained a reputation as being virtually unbeatable. They successfully made the transition to building full size Indy 500s, normally powered by Offenhauser engines. building around 120 of these Indianapolis Specials, including for winners. The Special is a low slung car with the driver positioned offset to the left of the prop shaft. This car ran in this livery in the 1956 Indianapolis 500, driven by Fred Abashian, qualifying with a lap speed of 137.746 mph, and finishing 6th. Technically qualifying the car as a Grand Prix car, due to the Indianapolis 500 being part of the Formula One World Championship between 1950 and 1960
The Rapier was produced from 1934 to 1935. A few more were subsequently produced by the independent Rapier Car Company. At the heart of the car was an all new 1104 cc twin overhead camshaft four-cylinder engine. The design of this was done by a consultant Thomas Ashcroft (known as Tim) with the brief of producing “Britain’s finest 1100 cc engine”. The engine was originally intended to be cast in light alloy but to save cost it was eventually made in cast iron using the original patterns making it rather heavy. It did, however, produce 50 bhp at 5400 rpm, a very good output for the time. Production of the engine was sub-contracted to Coventry Climax. The chassis was designed by Charles King and consisted of steel sections bolted together. The engine was connected to a four-speed preselector gearbox with right-hand change lever and the Girling system rod operated brakes had large 13 in drums. Half-elliptic springs provided the suspension controlled by friction dampers. Although the original car as shown at the 1933 London Motor Show had a wheelbase of 90.75 in, in order to cater for a wider range of bodies, production cars from 1934 had this extended by 8 in to 98.75 in. The factory supplied the running chassis for £270 to customers who could then select their own coachwork. Most cars had bodies by E. D. Abbott Ltd of Farnham, Surrey. A complete car with Abbott four-seat tourer body sold for £368. Other suppliers of coachwork included John Charles, Maltby and E J Newns who made around 12, subsequently known as Eagles. The engine was just too large for use in the popular 1100 cc class so a few cars were made with 1084 cc engines. In 1935 the Lagonda company failed and was bought by Alan Good who reformed it as LG Motors (Staines) Ltd. As part of the general upheaval the rights to make the Rapier were sold to a new company Rapier Cars Ltd of Hammersmith Road, London, a premises previously used by Lagonda as their London service centre. The intention was now to sell the car complete with body and a design was produced by Ranalah. A four-seat tourer was priced at £375. Production continued until 1938 but only 46 cars were made.
185 of the Hyper models were made between 1928 and 1931, by which time, Lea Francis had acquired something of a reputation for producing sporting vehicles, much like fellow Coventry marque, Riley. The Hyper (also called the S-type) was the first British supercharged production car with a 1.5 litre Meadows engine, and in 1928 a Lea-Francis Hyper won the Ulster TT, a 30-lap race on the 13.5-mile Ards circuit on the roads of Northern Ireland in the hands of legendary race car driver, Kaye Don. The race was watched by a record 250,000 spectators, and the victory placed Lea-Francis firmly on the map.
Another car making a welcome reappearance here was this fabulous recreation of the Leyland Thomas Number 1. With both Leyland-Thomas cars lost during the Second World War, it was a mammoth challenge to recreate the car as faithfully as possible to the original and get it working, despite having acquired the original chassis drawings and hundreds of photographs of the car in period. A 23 year task, in fact, and most definitely a labour of love for owner David Haywood who inadvertently started the project in 1992 after hearing about an engine that hadn’t sold at a steam engine auction. “I got wind of something that had failed at auction that had been held quite close to Leyland. When I phoned about the engine, I was number 26 on the list – everybody wanted it.” The 7.3-litre engine, which was still mounted in a frame that included part of the car’s chassis and original ID number, had been held in a private collection at the Museum of Motive Power in Lytham. “In the end, I said ‘okay, how do I get to the top of the list? I had just finished casing a six-foot long, dry-steam model locomotive – it was a very, very rare gauge. I said to the guy with the engine, ‘if I send some pictures up by express and you’d like it, we don’t have to talk money.’ So in the end, we swapped!” David’s barter and trading approach to acquiring the engine set the tone for the rest of the build but initially, he didn’t realise the heritage of the engine until he took the ID number and started to research further. With the extensive help of the Leyland Society, David discovered that the engine was the first racing engine developed by J.G. Parry-Thomas, the famed Welsh engineer and racing driver who, at one point, held the world land speed record. Parry-Thomas was chief engineer at Leyland Motors in late 1917, and was tasked with creating a touring car that could compete with the Rolls Royce. His creation was the Leyland Eight, the first British car with a straight-eight engine. Although the car, dubbed the ‘Lion of Olympia’, was highly praised by the press when it was unveiled at the 1920 Motor Show, the Leyland was £400 more expensive than the nearest Rolls Royce competitor and would eventually prove to be a colossal failure, with only 18 cars ever manufactured. In 1922, Parry-Thomas suggested taking the Leyland Eight to the track in an effort to boost sales. Despite the Leyland board insisting that the car should run in full touring trim, Parry-Thomas modified the car for racing and took it to the Easter Monday Meeting at Brooklands. This was the first of many outings that year and Parry-Thomas had a moderately successful first season, with numerous top-three placings. Although the Leyland Eight failed to make waves in the consumer world, Parry-Thomas left Leyland on good terms. Armed with several complete Leyland Eight chassis and an extensive collection of spare parts given to him by the Leyland board, he moved to Brooklands race circuit itself, where he went on to develop cars for competition. It was there that he developed the Leyland-Thomas. Using parts from the Leyland Eight, including David’s engine, the car would go on to break several world speed records. In 1922, Parry-Thomas broke sixteen world speed records, including the standing quarter and the running quarter, the standing half-mile and the running half-mile with this particular engine. It was this quest for speed that would ultimately lead to his demise. Following the death of Count Louis Zborowski during the 1924 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Parry-Thomas bought the 27-litre Higham Special from the deceased racing driver’s estate. He rebuilt it, basing the body loosely on the Leyland-Thomas design and named it Babs. He used the car to set the world land speed record in April 1926 at Pendine Sands in Wales and returned there in March 1927 in an attempt to regain his record, which had been broken just weeks earlier by Malcolm Campbell. Sadly, Parry-Thomas was killed instantly when the car overturned and rolled at speeds in excess of 100 mph. Following the inquest into Parry-Thomas’ death, Babs was buried in the sands at Pendine for over 40 years before it was uncovered and restored by engineering student Owen Wyn Owen, and is now housed at the Pendine Museum of Speed. With the bit now between his teeth in the quest for parts, David managed to unearth the original back axle of the Leyland-Thomas. When he started to dismantle it, he discovered it had an unusual 2.46 to one ratio, making it an Outer Circuit axle. While the engine itself won’t rev much more than 3,000rpm, there’s massive, massive torque thanks to the back axle. And with the big wheels they used to use in those days, they managed to get it up to a really big speed. Indeed, the original Leyland-Thomas had broken the Outer Circuit record at Brooklands in 1924. There’s been a lot of heartache in creating this car, but now it is done, the result is very impressive.
In 1884 Jean de Dietrich founded Société Lorraine des Anciens Etablissments de Dietrich and Cie to manufacture railway locomotives. Twelve years later Adrien, Baron de Turckheim who was director of the companies factory at Lunéville, Lorraine bought the rights for the company to manufacture a vehicle designed by Amédée Bollée. The company went on to manufacture Vivinus voiturettes under licence at it’s factory in Niederbronn-les-Bains, Alsace and a Turcat-Méry designed vehicle under licence at it’s Lunéville factory. In 1902 the factory in Alsace ceased making automobiles and the vehicles produced in Lorraine became known as Lorraine de Dietrichs. The company began building cars for racing in 1898 but its greatest success did not come until 1906 when Arthur Duray won the Circuit des Ardennes beating the 120 hp Darracq driven by René Hanriot. Richard Scaldwell who first came to prominence for his GN JAP GP special, counts the Grand Prix Dietrichs amongst his favourite cars. He spent ten years researching and manufacturing the parts he could not find to fit to the bones of a 1909 de Dietrich 60/80 to make this Reincarnation of a Grand Prix car. The car is fitted with a 16.4 litre four cylinder engine that produces 130 hp which is geared to give the car a 110 mph performance at an almost idling 1500 rpm.
Oldest Lotus model entered was an Eleven, a racing car built in various versions by Lotus from 1956 until 1958. The later versions built in 1958 are sometimes referred to as Lotus 13, although this was not an official designation. In total, about 270 Elevens of all versions were built. The Eleven was designed by Colin Chapman and fitted with a sleek body designed by aerodynamicist Frank Costin. Its top version, dubbed Le Mans, was generally fitted with a 1100 cc Coventry Climax FWA engine and occasionally with a 1500 cc Coventry Climax FWB engine mounted in the front of a tubular space frame and featured a De Dion rear axle and Girling disc brakes. Fully loaded, the car weighed only about 1,000 lb (450 kg). Versions for a 1100 cc Climax engine (Club) and a 1172 cc Ford engine (Sport) were also produced; both featured a live rear axle and drum brakes. Several cars were fitted with alternative engines by their owners, these included Coventry Climax 1500cc FWB and FPF and 1200 cc FWE, Maserati 150S 1500cc, DKW 1000cc SAAB 850cc and 750cc engines. There were two main body styles: one with a headrest and the other with no headrest, just two small fins. Some cars were later fitted with a closed body with gullwing doors to meet GT specifications. Despite the wide variety of engines installed, the car was primarily designed to compete in the 1100 cc class where it was one of the most successful cars during the mid- to late-1950s. In 1956, An Eleven, modified by Costin with a bubble canopy over the cockpit, was driven by Stirling Moss to a class world record of 143 mph (230 km/h) for a lap at Monza. Several class victories at Le Mans and Sebring followed, and the Eleven became Lotus’ most successful race car design. A 750cc version won the Index of Performance at Le Mans in 1957. In 1957, the Eleven underwent a major design change, including a new front suspension and improvements to the drivetrain. Although officially called Eleven Series 2, these late models are sometimes informally referred to as Lotus 13s, since they were produced between the 12 and 14 models and the 13 designation was not used by Lotus. There have been several replicas and re-creations of the Lotus Eleven, including the Kokopelli 11, the Challenger GTS, the Spartak and the best known, the Westfield XI. The car seen here is the first of the S2 cars, with the Formula 2 style double wishbone suspension layout and was given by Chapman to the most successful club drivers of the 1956 season. Alan Stacey took delivery of this car and won the small capacity Championship in 1957, running as a Team Lotus entry. Alan was very quick and went on to larger engined sports cars and then to F1. He crashed fatally at Spa in 1960. The X1 on show had two subsequent owners and then put away for 38 years. The present owner found the car and carefully refurbished the X1 without over-restoration or modernisation. The cars run with the original engine and all original aluminium body panels. The car is now used regularly on the road and for minor events.
Looking quite similar is the Lotus, also a front-engine sports racing car designed by Colin Chapman of Lotus, built from 1958 until 1960. The 15 is a two-seater, front-engine, rear wheel drive sports racer with an aluminium body over a space frame configuration. As opposed to the six cylinder Bristol 2L engine in its predecessor Lotus Mk.X, the Mk.15 was designed with a dry-sump, all aluminium, DOHC four cylinder Coventry Climax FPF engine of 1.5 to 2.5 Litre displacement built for Formula Two and Grand Prix racing, mated to Lotus’ own 5 speed sequential transaxle nicknamed ‘Queerbox’. It was designed in 1957, and the production began in the late 1957. The spaceframe was similar to Lotus Eleven except for the Chapman strut rear suspension with inboard brakes and the accommodations for a larger engine, which included a slightly (7.5 degrees) tilted engine mounting space on the plan view, shifted to the right of the centerline in the front and left at the rear of the engine. This arrangement gave a larger space for the driver than the normally non-existing passenger. The larger body of “English rolled” aluminum was also similar in appearance to the smaller and successful Lotus 11, with a major difference of a full-width windscreen, and the lower scuttle/screen height. Unlike the 11 which was designed by Frank Costin, the body design was a result of the collaboration between Chapman and the coachbuilder Williams & Pritchard. It was available as a fully assembled form sans the engine at £2885, or as a kit of parts for £2395. Lotus 15’s debut was in Sussex Trophy at Goodwood on 7 April 1958 in the hands of Graham Hill who immediately set the lap record, but failed to finish the race due to a gearbox problem. This constant mesh, sequential-shift, 5 speed gearbox combined with ZF limited-slip differential in the transaxle configuration was compact, light (85 lbs including inboard brakes and halfshafts) and quick shifting, but the reliability problem had been carried over from the F1 and F2 Lotus 12 single seater. Colin Chapman hired a young and talented gearbox engineer, Keith Duckworth, to solve this problem, but the priority needed to be on Lotus 16 for Grands Prix, which shared the Queerbox problem, so a newer version Series 2 was born while the update was in development in July, 1958 with BMC B-series four speed gearbox attached directly behind the engine, and a conventional differential housing with brake disc calipers mounted on the sides. For the purpose of lowering the centre of gravity, the Climax engine was tilted about 28 degrees from vertical in the Series 1, which was found to cause engine lubrication issues, so it was mounted about 17 degrees from vertical on the Series 2. To clear the top of the engine, a larger bonnet bulge with front air scoop was incorporated on the body. By the time the Series 3 was born in 1959, the Lotus transaxle had become more reliable thanks to the Duckworth redesign on its own dry sump lubrication system, but the young engineer pointed out the inherent limitation of the box in the amount of torque it can safely handle. So the Series 3 was offered with the Lotus ‘Queer Box’ transaxle for 1.5L FPF only, and BMC 4-speed or ZF 5-speed gearbox with a conventional differential for cars with a larger FPF. The frame was reinforced in the areas that are deemed to be weak on Series 1 and 2, and the front suspension was upgraded from the previous configuration which had come directly from Lotus 11 Series 2. The larger 1.5L engine used for Lotus 11 was a bored and stroked FWB version of Coventry Climax FWA (which was an automotive conversion of a fire pump engine) with a compact SOHC cylinder head. In contrast, the FPF used on Lotus 15 were pure racing engines with a gear-driven DOHC head and dry sump. Other drivers beside Graham Hill who drove the 15 in period include Cliff Allison, Roy Salvadori, Jay Chamberlain, Pete Lovely, Innes Ireland, Alan Stacey, Mike Taylor, David Piper, Tim Parnell, David Buxton, Keith Greene, Derek Jolly, John Coombs, Peter Arundell, Peter Heath and Chuck Parsons with various levels of success. Derek Jolly won the 1960 Australian Tourist Trophy and Peter Heath was victorious in the 1961 Macau Grand Prix. However, the combination of a Grand Prix engine with the innovative Lotus transaxle generally did not provide a high level of reliability, so the 15 was never crowned with a major endurance title despite the impressive level of speed. It failed to finish the 1958 and 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. In total, about 28 Lotus 15 chassis are believed to have been made, including 9 Series 1 and 8 Series 2.
The Lotus 22 was a racing car built by Lotus cars in 1962, and a total of 77 cars were built. It was developed from the 1962 Lotus 20, with the major differences that it had disc brakes all round, a top link and the ‘rubber donut’ to the rear suspension and a dry sump engine that was canted over to lower the centre of gravity. Also notable is the smoother bodywork covering the engine, compared to the boxy design of the 20. The 22 is a single-seat race car primarily for the Formula Junior series and most had a 1,098 cc Cosworth Mk.IV or Mk.XI engine with about 100 hp. However, seven of the Lotus 22s were built with the then newly introduced 1,498 cc Lotus TwinCam engine (designed for the Lotus Elan) for Formule Libre. Unlike the 20, the 22 received outboard mounted disc brakes all around as standard equipment. It was available with four-speed transmissions from either Renault or Volkswagen. For cars with the Renault transmission, the gearlever was mounted on the right, while it was on the left side for those with the German box. The 22 was very successful and the works car driven by Peter Arundell won nearly 75% of the races for the FIA Formula Junior European championship in 1962. The car was also successful in 1963, the final year of FJr, and up against the new Lotus 27, a full monocoque car, the 22 won several races early in the season before the stiffness problems that plagued the 27 were solved. The 22 chassis was later reintroduced several times, although modified, as other “new” Lotus models becoming first the Lotus 31 F3 car in 1964 and then, most famously, the Lotus 51 in 1967, the first Formula Ford race car created for the Jim Russell racing school in England. The Lotus 22 was the car from which the Lotus 23 was derived, being essentially a two-seat 22 widened in the middle but using the same front and rear suspension and gearbox as the 22. The 23’s introduction at the Nürburgring 1000km in 1962 was made legendary by Jim Clark, who led many laps in the tiny 1,000-pound 23, with only a 1,498 cc engine, against cars with many times the displacement, at one point leading by a minute or more in the wet. A Lotus 22 was entered in the 1963 and 1965 South African Grands Prix for Brausch Niemann finishing in 14th place (20 laps down) and failing to qualify respectively.
Also here was the Type 23B. A small-displacement sports racing car, and nominally a two-seater, this Chapman design was purpose-built for FIA Group 4 racing in 1962-1963. Unlike its predecessors Lotus 15 and 17, the engine was mounted amidship behind the driver in the similar configuration developed on Lotus 19. To comply with FIA rules, it had a regulation boot space to the right-rear of the driver, a windscreen wiper, a horn, pairs of headlights and tail lights, rear centre license plate light, a wire-operated emergency brake, and a mounting space for one spare tire under the front body. The 23 used a wider version of the Lotus 22 space frame, clothed in a fibreglass body. The front suspension was a typical double wishbone arms with outboard coil/damper unit using the Triumph upright made by Alford & Alder, Triumph Herald rack and pinion steering, and outboard Girling non-ventilated disc brake. The rear had the top link with lower reversed wishbone, top and bottom radius arms with the top arm at the height of the halfshaft, combined with the outboard disc brakes and coil/damper unit. Unlike the arrangement for Lotus 20 suspension, the halfshafts had Metalastic rubber ‘doughnuts’ on the inside, carrying no cornering (side) forces. The side forces are carried by the lower wishbone, together with the top ‘I’ arm link, which connects the tail end of the upper side tube in the frame with the extended top end of cast alloy upright. The tie-rod end, front top and bottom wishbone outside joints and the rear lower wishbone inside joint were Heim joints. The rest of the suspension joints were rubber joint, with joint-mounting pipes welded onto the ends of suspension arms. While most of the suspension arms were in common with Lotus 22, the angle of the rear radius arms on the plan view was different from the narrower-frame Lotus 22, so they were not interchangeable with the 22. It was originally intended for engines of 750 cc to 1300 cc with a Renault 4 speed transaxle, but had a 5 speed Hewland Mk.III in production, which used the entire Volkswagen magnesium alloy transaxle case in upside-down configuration, housing bespoke straight-cut gears with dog-rings, and the Volkswagen differential gear set. Unlike the later Mk.IV, the Mk.III had the gearshift rod at the end of the VW nose casing, so the shifting rod (pipe) from the centre gearlever knob location extended to the tail end of the chassis. On the frame structure, the lower side pipes and the width-wise lower pipe behind the cockpit were rectangle tubes, with most of the other frame pipes being round steel tubes in various diameter. The upper left round pipe was used as the water (the use of anti-freeze chemicals was prohibited by most of the race organisers at the time for the danger of making the Tarmac slippery) feed pipe for the radiator up front, and the lower right side pipe and a half of the width-wise lower rear cockpit pipe was the return tube. Likewise, the upper right side pipe was the oil feed to the oil cooler, and the lower left tube was the return. This frame was mostly made by Arch Motors, carrying ‘AM’ serial number. This configuration was shared with Lotus 22 and other Formula cars of the time, but the combination of a wider and thus larger radiator, wider (and somewhat bulkier) steel frame acting as a cooling device, and the small displacement engines resulted in more than ample cooling capacity. Atypical of the contemporary racing cars, Lotus 23 models sometimes experienced an over-cooling problem in sprint races, and displayed a very stable water temperature in endurance racing. A revised version appeared in 1963, the 23B, and it was this version that was present here. This had the original central gearlever relocated to the right side of the driver, and the radiator and oil cooler were combined into a single unit, with the lower 1/5 or so acting as the oil cooler. The frame received additional structural tubes to take the torque of Lotus TwinCam-based 1.6 litre Cosworth Mk.XII and Mk.XIII, mated to “high torque spec” 5 speed Hewland Mk.V transaxle. Smaller displacement engines were mated to 5 speed Hewland Mk.IV. Both the Mk.IV and Mk.V transaxles had GKN (Ford Zephyr) differential gears and a forward-facing selector rod on the right side in a bespoke (Hewland made) tail casing. The intake funnels on the Weber carburettors on 23B (and the 23C) were housed in a “cold air box” which received fresh air from two oval holes cut out on the top side of the rear body behind the driver.
Maserati spent much of its early years manufacturing cars for privateers in the racing field. The Maserati 6CM is no exception. Introduced to the world at the 1936 Milan Motor Show, 29 of these single-seater racing cars were made by Maserati between 1936 to 1940 for the Voiturette racing class. Twenty-seven were built on the Maserati 4CM frame, with front suspension as on the Maserati V8RI, and they enjoyed a successful racing career from 1936 to 1939. This was a time when the racing world had become even more competitive. as Hitler wanted to prove that the Germans were the best in everything, including auto racing. Hitler funded the companies of Daimler- Mercedes and Auto Union. This created the drive to make a better car for the Grand Prix circuit and Maserati was able to prove that the Germans were not going to have it all their own way. A racer named Didi drove one of the 29 models made to victory in four of the five races he competed in. The race he did not win, he came in second. The most “rewarding” race victory came in Monaco, Maserati’s home town. The car had a 1493cc inline 6 cylinder engine, with two overhead valves per cylinder, mounted at 90 degrees, a Roots type supercharger, Weber carburettor, and Scintilla ignition. There was a four-speed gear box. The 6CM initially put out 155 bhp at 6200 rpm, but its output by 1939 was increased to 175 bhp at 6600 rpm.
There was a 4CS here, too, a car which I have seen at Prescott and Shelsley many times before. On one of those occasions I had the chance to talk to Ken Painter, the man responsible for recreating it after purchasing little more than a few parts in 1969, and he told me a lot about the car’s history. This particular car won its class on the 1935 and ’36 Mille Miglia. Later in 1936 this car, chassis number 1126 was sold to Ignazio Radice Fosatti who recorded a second in class run on the Coppa Mercanti run on the Stelvio hillclimb before going to Monza for an attempt at the 1100cc 12 hour distance record. Unfortunately Ignazio was killed in the 9th hour of the attempt after hitting a dog that strayed onto the track. The car was badly damaged, but once repaired it was sold on. Between 1937 to 1939 it was owned and raced by Count Giovanni (Jonny) Lurani and Luigi Villoresi, and Ken showed me a long type-written letter he has from Lurani, dated 1970 which records Lurani’s memories of the car from the time when he raced it. Subsequent research has revealed that not everything recorded there is quite accurate, but this is still a splendid piece of history to go with the car. However, it was what happened next that makes its history particularly fascinating. By 1942 the 4CS was in Singapore, and was confiscated by the Japanese army and its then owner killed. The late owner’s family recovered the car, and had it dismantled and buried for the remainder of the War. The last recorded competition entry for the car as at the 1950 Jahore Grand Prix, by which time a 3.5 litre SS Jaguar engine had been fitted. Some time after this, a De Soto V8 motor replaced this, and the body work underwent several changes. Ken acquired the car in 1969, and spent 18 years restoring it. More recently he gave it to his son, Adam, who now owns and races it.
This is an M1b from 1965. Bruce McLaren launched the M1 at the Mosport Grand Prix for sports cars in September 1964, where he led the race until throttle problems dropped him to 3rd. McLaren contested the rest of the season, and the car attracted customers. The first customer car was delivered in 1965, and Graham Hill won at Silverstone. Meanwhile, engineer Robin Herd designed the M1B, with Tyler Alexander and Michael Turner. The chassis weighed the same, but was 20 percent stronger. Eventually, 28 M1Bs were built for the American market.
This is a 1933 K1 Monoposto. The MG K-Type Magnette was produced by the MG Car Company from October 1932 to 1934. Launched at the 1932 London Motor Show, the K-Type replaced the F-Type Magna but having at first a slightly smaller capacity engine it took the name Magnette. After the Morris Company had taken over MG in the mid-1930s and closed the racing department, it was left to the private owners to carry the flag. Consequently, a number of K3 Magnettes were converted to single-seaters in period. Bob Jones looked after one of these since 1970 K1/N special was built by Bob on an MG K-Type chassis by Baynton Jones Ltd for Bill Summers in 1983. With a Godfrey K200 blown N-Type 1500cc engine(now), a stripped, shortened and re-jigged original K-Type chassis, Armstrong pre selector gearbox and Rod Jolley built body. Chassis number K0326 has made quite a name for itself in historic motor racing since its completion on the circuit and in Hill Climbs. One of the most important aspects of Bob Jones’ rebuild was his emphasis on weight saving. So successful were his weight-saving exercises that the finished chassis, with all lubricants was over 500Ibs lighter than the original K3. K0326 is a well known car amongst the Vintage Sports Car Club and MG Car Club Triple M, being campaigned by Bill Summers and Annie Templeton and has won numerous races including: The 1997 Brooklands Memorial Trophy at Donington, the 1992 Mary Harris Trophy and the 2001 Kimber Race at Silverstone, success in 2008 Cadwell Park, Len Thompson and Nuffield Trophy. In 2009 winning the Brooklands Society and Len Thompson trophies again and competing in HGPCA races at Silverstone. She left the country in 2009 and went to Norway and had competed at various events on the continent Nurbergring Old Timer Grand Prix 2010,Velodroom Loppet 2012 and Copenhagen Historic Grand Prix 2012 but returned again in early 2017. She has now been campaigned regularly again in the UK with the VSCC and MGCC Triple M. She won the Kimber Trophy at Brands Hatch 2017 and the MG Challenge race at Donington Park 2018.
Morgan 3 wheelers are popular competition cars in historic events these days and several were entered here.
MMC11 is a famous Morgan as it is the very first production Plus 8 model. By the 60s, Morgan was run by Peter Morgan, the son of founder HFS Morgan, and he had been at school with Peter Wilks, the nephew of Rover founder Maurice Wilks and the firm’s technical director. Rover expressed some interest in adding Morgan to its portfolio, which would, of course, have sucked the fiercely independent Malvern Link firm into British Leyland. Peter Morgan rebuffed the advances, but he did take the opportunity to ask his old school friend about the new 3.5 litre engine that Rover had just acquired from Buick. Morgan had always acquired engines for its cars from whichever supplier could come up with something suitable and at this point had been using the 4 cylinder Standard unit but production of this unit was coming to an end as Standard-Triumph prepared to replace it with a new 6 cylinder unit. It was too long to fit easily in the Morgan, whereas the V8 Rover unit was shorter as well as being much more powerful, and thanks to its all-alloy construction, much lighter. The deal was done and Morgan worked in developing the car that would be launched in mid 1968 as the Plus 8. There were not many other changes, though the steel chassis was strengthened and the mounts for the rear suspension were moved. The Moss 4 speed gearbox was retained. It soon became apparent that Morgan had created one of the fastest cars of the day, as although there was only 160 bhp, the car, at 850 kg, was light. This car was the second prototype, and effectively the first production car and is part of the Morgan Heritage Fleet having started out as Peter Morgan’s personal car. It has an extensive history in motorsport, ranging from trails to the 1982 Snetterton 24 Hours. It is possibly the best known Morgan in the world.
There was another Plus 8 model entered.
This is Bluebell, a 1959 Morris Minor that is quite well known in hill-climbing circles. Brothers Andy and Mark Cross first came across ‘Bluebell’ in a central London lock-up. Although the car had already been transformed from a gentle shopping car to a race car, it hadn’t had the best of luck on the track – despite having been campaigned by many members of the Classic Touring Car Racing Club, it didn’t have a win to its name and had barely finished half of its races. However, its reputation didn’t matter to the two brothers, who had grown up with Morris Minors. So they bought it, tidied it up and made it more reliable – then went ahead to win two Classic Touring Car Championships in 1991 and 1993. “It’s not very highly modified, thought, with just a few tweaks to the 998cc A Series engine.
I’ve seen this Edwardian car at many an event in the past. It dates from 1907 and is called Le Sanglier. This French built chassis is fitted with an 1915 Curtiss 8.2 litre V8 WW1 aircraft engine which generates 90bhp, with a 1500rpm red line, a four-speed gearbox and chain drive which is geared to do 90-100mph in top. Oh, and ‘brakes on the rear wheels only and they are not the best’ according to the person who built the car, making for exciting, period propulsion. The mid-mounted radiator was made in-house by soldering over 16,000 steel “gills” to over 70 separate copper tubes.
Making another appearance here, much to the delight of the crowds who always enjoy seeing this car, was Chris Williams’ fabulous Napier-Bentley. This vintage racing car is a one-off special built in 1968 by David Llewellyn, based on a Sunbeam chassis but, after a serious accident, was re-built on the chassis of a 1929 8 Litre Bentley. It has a 24 Litre Napier Sea Lion W12 boat engine based on the Napier Lion aeroplane engine, the same as that used in the silver Napier-Railton, which it resembles closely, which develops approximately 550 bhp With its red bodywork and Napier-Railton-esque grille, it is spectacular and entertaining in action. Being a W12, the engine has three banks of four very large stub exhausts, one of which points straight out of the side of the car. The sound of the car has been likened to a World War I biplane or cluster or mortar bombs going off. Due to the immense torque of the engine (c.1,400 ft-lbs), the rear tyres can be made to produce clouds of smoke whenever the car is launched, while the exhausts produce sparks, flames and smoke. In the past, I have seen Chris making toast from the heat of the exhaust after he has taken the car out on track. It certainly tends to leave the grass under where it is parked looking somewhat singed. An amazing car – but it was not the only one of its type that was here.
A car I’d not seen before was this Okrasa Special. It’s an English “special” built in the 1950’s, comprising Porsche/VW mechanicals in a spaceframe chassis to Porsche 550 Spyder dimensions, with a mid-engined Okrasa engine. The current owner bought it because quite apart from being rare as an English-built car using German parts in post-war Britain, when the opportunity presented itself to create rather than restore something it proved irresistible. The car was built by a chap called David Small, who owned the Farnham Porsche and VW dealership in Surrey up until the late ‘70’s. It was driven up Oulton road in Farnham in this state for shakedown testing, easily seeing 100mph before being pushed into the back of the dealership workshop where it then sat for the next 46 years! Keith Seume bought it about five years ago and then it was sold on in 2009. This was the first time the car was being seen in public.
This Type 148 GP is an inveterate attendee at many a hill climb, and is always an impressive sight. Dating from 1913, and built on the longer chassis, one of just 83 built, it would seem that sometime around 2001 it appears to have been fitted with a 100hp 10 litre 4 cylinder Hall Scott A7 Aero engine, of the same type as fitted to the 1910 Theophile Schneider and the Fafnir. The bodywork on the car, owned by Clive Press, is styled on the 1913/14 era Peugeot EX3 racers that won the French Grand Prix and 1913 Indy 500.
There were a number of early 911s competing.
There were a number of Riley cars competing, among them a Sprite.
This is an “Arrow” generation Rapier, not a car which you often see competing these days.
Dating from 1939 was this Talbot-Lago Darracq T150C. The long name comes from the fact that the Anglo-French Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq combine collapsed in 1935. The French Talbot company was acquired and reorganised by Venetian-born engineer Antonio Lago and after that, the “Talbot-Lago” name was used internationally. On the home market the cars still bore the Talbot badge they had carried since 1922, which was when, in France, the “Talbot-Darracq” name had given way to “Talbot”. New models were gradually introduced. Most of them came with a variety of voluptuous coachbuilt bodies and are among the most prized cars of their era, but there were some fitted with racing bodies, such as this one.
Dating from 1914 is this A-D Type. The Vauxhall 20 h.p. chassis code A, was a four-cylinder medium-sized car manufactured by Vauxhall from 1908 to 1914 with one more built in 1920. It was the first production Vauxhall designed by Laurence Pomeroy. It became a highly acclaimed 3 litre of its day and at Brooklands on 26 October 1910 it became the first 20 hp car to exceed 100 mph. Laurence Pomeroy had joined Vauxhall in 1907 as an assistant draughtsman at the age of twenty-two. He first made his mark at the 1908 RAC and Scottish Reliability Trial, held in June of that year. His first prototype, a development of Vauxhall’s 12-16 and named Y1, had outstanding success showing excellent hill climbing ability with an aggregate of 37 seconds less time in the hill climbs than any other car in its class and unparalleled speeds around the Brooklands circuit. His Vauxhall was so far ahead of all cars whatever class that the driver could relax, accomplishing the 200 miles at an average speed of 46 mph, when the car was capable of 55 mph. It went on to win class E of the Trial. That design was put into production in 1908 as Vauxhall’s 20 hp offering. Four distinct variations were produced between 27 October 1908 and the end of production in 1914. One last car was put together in 1920. There were four distinct versions – A09, A11, A12 and 16-20
The Prince Henry is often thought of as the first true Sports Car. The Prince Henry was a higher tuned version of the Vauxhall 20 hp that had been designed in the winter of 1907-08 by then draughtsman Laurence Pomeroy (1883–1941) when the company’s chief engineer F. W. Hodges was away on holiday. The engine was of 4-cylinder monobloc design with side valves and a capacity of 3054 cc giving 40 bhp output. Known to Vauxhall as their C-10, three specially prepared cars were entered in the 1200 mile long 1910 Motor Trials named in honour of Prince Henry of Prussia. They had their engine power increased to 60 bhp at 2800 rpm and as a result of the success replicas were put on the market at £580 with the chassis code C10 and known as the Prince Henry model. These proved popular and sold quickly. and became known as Prince Henry Vauxhalls. Prince Henry cars also competed in other international trials including the 1911 St Petersburg to Sebastopol Trial and so two cars were sold to Tsar Nicholas II. A sales and support and distribution branch was opened in Moscow with good results. Hampered by the First World War the office was finally closed after the 1918 revolution. Three of these cars were entered in the RAC 2,000-mile trial and one won the speed trials at Brooklands which was part of the event as well as winning the fuel economy award for its class. This victory helped Pomeroy to be promoted to Works Manager. In 1913 the engine capacity was increased to 3969 cc and the internal designation changed to C. Production continued until 1915.
With a 1963cc 4 cylinder Climax engine, this sports car was raced by Graham Hill when new in 1956.
ASTON MARTIN ENCLOSURE
There was a special enclosure for an Aston Martin Owners Club grouping in conjunction with Fisher Prestige Cars. Even VIP access was not sufficient to be able to get up close to the cars, so the only way of seeing these was either to look down on them from the terrace, or from across the track.
Oldest of these was a DB2. This was the first new post-war Aston, and the first car to adopt the now legendary DB naming convention, reflecting the fact that in 1947 David Brown had bought the Aston Martin and Lagonda companies and incorporated them as Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. Lagonda’s 2.6 litre dual overhead cam, straight-six engine, more powerful than the pushrod 1.9 litre unit in the Aston Martin 2-Litre Sports, was the main objective in Brown’s acquisition of the company. W. O. Bentley had supervised the engine’s design, which was largely by William (Willie) Watson, an engineer with the pre-war Invicta company who had collaborated on Lagonda’s pre-war V12 and also designed the short-lived post-war version. Work then started on producing a new car, which was called the DB2. This new model would utilise a version of the Lagonda engine in a shortened version of the tube-frame chassis designed by Claude Hill for the Aston Martin 2-Litre Sports, with a fastback coupé body designed by Frank Feeley. Three pre-production cars were entered for the 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans. One, which would become the development car for the production DB2, had the Lagonda straight-6, while the four-cylinder Aston Martin 2-litre unit powered the other two. After six laps the Lagonda-powered car, driven by Leslie Johnson, retired with overheating caused by failure of the water pump. One of the 2-litre cars was in 4th place and running without brakes when it crashed two hours short of the finish, fatally injuring driver Pierre Maréchal. The other finished 7th, crewed by Arthur Jones and Nick Haines. A month later, the larger-engined car, driven by Leslie Johnson and Charles Brackenbury, finished 3rd in the Spa 24-hour race, where one of the 2-litre cars was driven to 5th by Nick Haines and Lance Macklin. For 1950 all three factory team cars were equipped with the Lagonda engine. At the 1950 Le Mans race the one driven by George Abecassis and Lance Macklin finished 5th, with Brackenbury and Reg Parnell bringing another home 6th, which won Aston Martin 1st and 2nd in the 3-litre class. Across the Atlantic, Briggs Cunningham drove his DB2 to 2nd in its class at the inaugural Sebring race meeting in December 1950. The factory team cars continued racing in Europe throughout 1951, including at Le Mans, where Macklin and Eric Thompson took 3rd overall, with Abecassis and Brian Shawe-Taylor 5th. David Brown soon embarked on a series of Aston Martins designed specifically for competition use, starting with the DB3. Meanwhile, the production DB2 debuted at the New York Auto Show in April 1950 and continued in production until April 1953, by which time 411 had been made. The first 49 had a chrome-framed front grille in three separate parts, and large rectangular cooling vents in the front wings. Subsequent cars had a one-piece grille with horizontal chrome slats, and no side vents. The single-piece bonnet was hinged at the front. At the rear of the fixed-head coupé (FHC) a small top-hinged lid gave access to the spare wheel, and luggage space was behind the front seats, accessible only from inside the car. Later in 1950, a Drophead Coupé (DHC) variant was introduced. At least 102 were built. In April 1950, an engine with larger carburettors, inlet camshaft the same as the exhaust (for increased duration), and higher compression ratio pistons (8.16:1) was made available. Aston Martin’s first Vantage upgrade option offered 125 hp. Initially the higher compression ratio made the engine unsuitable for the British market, as the postwar austerity measures of the early 1950s restricted UK vehicles to 72 octane “Pool petrol”. The first DB2 Vantage, LML 50/21, was delivered to, and raced by, Briggs Cunningham in the United States. A revised version of the DB2 was launched in 1953, called the DB2/4. It was available as a 2+2 hatchback, marketed as a Saloon, as a Drophead Coupé (DHC) and as a 2-seat Fixed Head Coupe. A small number of Bertone bodied spiders were commissioned by private buyers. A further update in 1957 created the Mark III, and this was produced until the launch of the DB4 in 1958.
The Lagonda 3-Litre was produced by Aston Martin Lagonda from 1953 to 1958, the second Lagonda model of the David Brown/Aston Martin era. The 3-Litre was fitted with a higher displacement 2.9 litre 140 bhp version of the twin overhead camshaft Lagonda Straight-6 engine designed by Walter Owen Bentley. Like its predecessor, the 3-Litre was available as a 4-seat 2-door coupé, built by David Brown subsidiary engineering company Tickford or as a drophead coupé produced by the same coach builders. A 4-door saloon was introduced in 1954 and the 2-door coupé was discontinued in 1956. In early 1955, the Mark II version introduced a floor-mounted gear lever. The car had a separate cruciform braced chassis and the suspension was independent all round, unusual for a car of its time, but utilising this form the previous 2.6 litre car, with the addition of a Jackall system. At the front there were coil springs and at the rear torsion bars and a swing axle. The Lockheed drum brakes, 12 in at the front and 11 in at the rear were servo assisted and steering was by a rack and pinion system with fore and aft adjustment on the steering column. The interior was luxurious with polished walnut for the dashboard and door trims and leather seats, individual in the front and a bench at the rear with a central fold down arm rest. There were also adjustable arm rests on the front doors. A heater, radio and built in hydraulic jacks were standard equipment. Single or two tone paint schemes were available. The 3-Litre was more expensive than its competitors and a total of just 270 of the three bodystyles were sold. The convertible ended production in 1957 (ca. 55 made), with the saloon following one year later.
I could also see a DB6 in the group. The DB6 was launched in 1965 as a replacement for the DB5 which had run since 1963. The wheelbase was now 4″ longer than before, resulting in an extensive restyle with a more raked windscreen, raised roofline and reshaped rear quarter windows. Opening front quarter lights made a reappearance, but the major change was at the rear where a Kamm tail with spoiler improved the aerodynamics, greatly enhancing stability at high speeds. “The tail lip halves the aerodynamic lift around maximum speed and brings in its train greater headroom and more luggage space”, declared Motor magazine, concluding that the DB6 was one of the finest sports cars it had tested. Famed employee, Tadek Marek, designed the six cylinder engine, which had been enlarged to 3,995cc for the preceding DB5 and remained unchanged. Power output on triple SU carburettors was 282bhp, rising to 325bhp in Vantage specification. Premiered at the 1965 London Motor Show, the DB6 Volante marked the first occasion the evocative ‘Volante’ name had been applied to a soft-top Aston Martin. After 37 Volante convertibles had been completed on the DB5 short wheelbase chassis, the model adopted the longer DB6 chassis in October 1966. A mere 140 DB6 based Volantes were manufactured, and of these only 29 were specified with the more powerful Vantage engine.
Final model that features in my photos as the recently launched DB11, first of the next generation of Aston models which we are pormised will show more differentiation across the range.
I missed seeing these cars in action, but I do know that they were used for a stunt display during the day. Stunt Driver Alastair Moffatt will use an Abarth 124 Spider came along to attempt to break the record for the fastest time to complete 5 figure of eight drifts around two parked cars. Alongside his World Record Attempt, Alastair could also be seen driving an Abarth 595 on two wheels, in between the competition runs being undertaken by over 200 historic cars. When not in action, the cars were parked up for people to take a closer look. both the 595 and the 124 Spider were present.
SPECIAL PADDOCK DISPLAY
There was a further display in a secondary paddock area, with a very diverse array of interesting vehicles on show. Several of these took to the hill as part of a lunchtime display.
The Bloodhound project was well represented here with the mock-up of the proposed record-attempting car as well as lots of other information about the project.
There was a very impressive display of classic Bugatti cars here, arranged by the Bugatti Owners Club, and this is where I came across some more familiar faces from Prescott. The majority of the cars were Types 35, a car many would tell you that this is THE classic Bugatti. The Type 35 was phenomenally successful, winning over 1,000 races in its time. It took the Grand Prix World Championship in 1926 after winning 351 races and setting 47 records in the two prior years. At its height, Type 35s averaged 14 race wins per week. Bugatti won the Targa Florio for five consecutive years, from 1925 through 1929, with the Type 35. The original model, introduced at the Grand Prix of Lyon on August 3, 1924, used an evolution of the 3-valve 1991 cc overhead cam straight-8 engine first seen on the Type 29. Bore was 60 mm and stroke was 88 mm as on many previous Bugatti models. 96 examples were produced. This new powerplant featured five main bearings with an unusual ball bearing system. This allowed the engine to rev to 6000 rpm, and 90 hp was reliably produced. Solid axles with leaf springs were used front and rear, and drum brakes at back, operated by cables, were specified. Alloy wheels were a novelty, as was the hollow front axle for reduced unsprung weight. A second feature of the Type 35 that was to become a Bugatti trademark was passing the springs through the front axle rather than simply U-bolting them together as was done on their earlier cars. A less expensive version of the Type 35 appeared in May, 1925. The factory’s Type 35A name was ignored by the public, who nicknamed it “Tecla” after a famous maker of imitation jewellery. The Tecla’s engine used three plain bearings, smaller valves, and coil ignition like the Type 30. While this decreased maintenance requirements, it also reduced output. 139 of the Type 35As were sold. The Type 35C featured a Roots supercharger, despite Ettore Bugatti’s disdain for forced induction. Output was nearly 128 hp with a single Zenith carburettor. Type 35Cs won the French Grand Prix at Saint-Gaudens in 1928, and at Pau in 1930. Fifty examples left the factory. The final version of the Type 35 series was the Type 35B of 1927. Originally named Type 35TC, it shared the 2.3 litre engine of the Type 35T but added a large supercharger like the Type 35C. Output was 138 hp, and 45 examples were made. A British Racing Green Type 35B driven by William Grover-Williams won the 1929 French Grand Prix at Le Mans. The Type 35 chassis and body were reused on the Type 37 sports car. Fitted with a new 1496 cc straight-4 engine, 290 Type 37s were built. This engine was an SOHC 3-valve design and produced 60 hp The same engine went on to be used in the Type 40. There was also one Type 37 on show.
Also included here was a Type 51. This series succeeded the famous Type 35 as Bugatti’s premier racing car for the 1930s. Unlike the dominant Type 35s of the prior decade, the Type 51 (and later Type 53, Type 54, and Type 59) were unable to compete with the government-supported German and Italian offerings. The original Type 51 emerged in 1931. Its engine was a 160 hp twin overhead cam evolution of the supercharged 2262 cc single overhead cam straight-8 found in the Type 35B. A victory in the 1931 French Grand Prix was a rare case of success for the line. About 40 examples of the Type 51 and 51A were produced. The Type 51 is visually very similar to the Type 35. The obvious external differences of a Type 51 are: the supercharger blow-off outlet is lower the bonnet in the louvered section; one piece cast wheels instead of bolted on rims; twin fuel caps behind the driver and finally the magneto being off-set to the left on the dash. However many Type 35 cars have been fitted with later wheels, so that is not a reliable signal.
This is is Nissan GT-R GT1, 1 of 4 cars developed by the team, based on the GTR road car. and the only one which is privately owned. Built by Nismo, Nissan’s in-house motorsport division, the Nissan GT1 was developed to compete in 2009’s FIA GT1 World Championship. It first competed in 2009 on four separate occasions, before entering the full championship in 2010. Two years after its competition debut, Michael Krumm drove the GT1 to victory and became the FIA GTR World Champion. With a powerful V8 engine, the GT1 can produce up to 600bhp and has a top speed of 198mph. Although it did not quite reach speeds like that on the Hill Climb course as a demonstration car, it put on quite a show!
A complete contrast came from this diminutive machine. Riversimple aim to create strategically placed, smaller-scale manufacturing plants (producing 5,000 cars each per year) as opposed to traditional, large-scale factories. Riversimple are advocates of a circular economy. The company production of their vehicles on a ‘sale of service’ model, under which vehicles are not sold, but instead, users have use of a Riversimple vehicle for a monthly fee, which covers road tax, insurance, fuel and maintenance costs. A number of the large multinational car vehicle manufactures, such as Volvo, have now also adopted this model. Volvo predict that by 2025, half of their vehicles will be supplied to end users in this way, rather than via any form of sale. Riversimple state that they sell ‘mobility as a service, not cars as a product’ and that this approach incentivises them to make cars that last longer, use less resource and to maximise recovery at the end of the vehicle’s life. Though the UK hydrogen refuelling infrastructure is in its infancy (with 17 UK refuelling stations as of December 2018) Riversimple’s model sees the company initially supplying their vehicles in the vicinity of hydrogen refuelling facilities. As of December 2018, several public and private sector organisations were signed up and over 3,000 individuals had expressed an interest in being customers. The Riversimple company designs energy-efficient automobiles, including the Morgan LIFEcar and the Riversimple Urban Car. Several elements are considered during each design, including hydrogen fuel cell power sources, lightweight carbon fibre composite materials, open-source development and design, leasing instead of selling the cars, distributing manufacturing among many small manufacturing plants, and broad corporate ownership. Riversimple unveiled its working ‘alpha’ prototype, the two-seat Rasa (the name is derived from Tabula Rasa, which means ‘clean slate’ in Latin) on 17 February 2016. This was the culmination of 15 years of development of the concepts developed and espoused by Riversimple founder, Hugo Spowers, whose first FCEV design was the LIFECar, a research project developed by a consortium with Morgan, followed by a tech demonstrator urban vehicle.(Their first version was known as the Riversimple Urban Car). The company’s ‘beta’ prototype, features several improvements over its predecessor, to drivetrain, wheels, interior equipment, headlights and aerodynamics. The ‘beta’ prototype also utilises a fully carbon fibre monocoque chassis. The Rasa was designed by car designer Chris Reitz, who styled the new Fiat 500. The Rasa has a range of 300 miles on 1.5 kg of hydrogen, and achieves the equivalent of 250mpg with a top speed of 60 mph. Emissions are zero at tailpipe (just water vapour) and c.40gCO2/km Well-to-Wheel. Hydrogen refuelling for the Rasa takes three minutes. The Rasa is powered by an 8.5 kW hydrogen fuel cell, and a regenerative braking system, which recovers up to 50% of the cars braking energy. The vehicle also utilises a 1.9MJ lithium-ion hybrid capacitor set, providing additional power for acceleration. Electric motors in each wheel produce a combined 16 kW continuous power and 55 kW peak power. The Rasa is an open source vehicle. Riversimple cite the reason for this as wanting to work towards common goal of reducing environmental damage. A €2m European FCHJU SWARM grant was utilised to support the development and build of 20 Riversimple Rasas, to install and commission a hydrogen fuelling station and to support the rollout of a ‘clean mobility trial’, in and around Abergavenny, in mid-Wales. A further £1.25m grant from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles’ Hydrogen for Transport Programme, was awarded in February 2019. The trial (in partnership with Monmouthshire County Council) will see over 200 testers, drawn from households, car clubs and businesses. It is estimated that each vehicle will generate on average 20Gb of data per day, during the trial.
WITH SIDE CAR
This bike and side car were also on show here.I also wonder at the bravery of the side car riders!
Another display comprised a collection of historic rally cars, with a mixture of Group B, Group A and pre-2004 WRC cars presented by Ralli22.
The Lancia Rally (Tipo 151, also known as the Lancia Rally 037, Lancia 037 or Lancia-Abarth #037 from its Abarth project code 037) was a mid-engine sports car and rally car built by Lancia in the early 1980s to compete in the FIA Group B World Rally Championship. Driven by Markku Alén, Attilio Bettega, and Walter Röhrl, the car won Lancia the manufacturers’ world championship in the 1983 season. It was the last rear-wheel drive car to win the WRC. In 1980 Lancia began designing the 037 to comply with the then new FIA Group B regulations that allowed cars to race with relatively few homologation models being built. Abarth, now a part of the Lancia-Fiat family, did most of the design work, even incorporating styling cues from some of its famous race cars of the 1950s and 1960s such as a double bubble roof line. The car was born from the collaboration between Pininfarina, Abarth, Dallara and the project manager, engineer Sergio Limone. Prior to its first participation in the 1982 World Rally Championship season, 200 road-going models were built to comply with Group B regulations. The Lancia 037 was a silhouette racer; while it was loosely based on the Lancia Montecarlo (also known as Scorpion in the US and Canadian markets) road car, they shared only the centre section with all body panels and mechanical parts being significantly different. Steel subframes were used fore and aft of the production car centre section, while most of the body panels were made from Kevlar. The mid-engined layout of the Montecarlo was retained, but the engine was turned 90 degrees from a transverse position to a longitudinal position. This allowed greater freedom in the design of the suspension and while moving engine weight forward. An independent double wishbone suspension was used on both the front and rear axles, with dual shock absorbers in the rear in order to cope with the stresses of high speed off road driving. The 037 is notable as it retained the rear-wheel drive layout that was nearly universal for rally cars of the pre-Group B period; nearly all subsequent successful rally cars used four-wheel drive, making the 037 the last of its kind. Unlike its predecessor, the first 037s had a 2.0 litre 4-cylinder supercharged engine. Based on the long stroke twin cam which powered earlier Fiat Abarth 131 rally cars, the four valve head was carried over from the 131 Abarth but the original two carburettors were replaced by a single large Weber carburettor in early models and later with fuel injection. It features a ZF transaxle. Lancia also chose a supercharger over a turbocharger to eliminate turbo lag and improve throttle response. Initially power was quoted at 265 hp but with the introduction of the Evolution 1 model power jumped to 300 with the help of water injection. The car made its competition debut at the 1982 Rally Costa Smeralda in Italy, where two cars were entered but both retired due to gearbox issues. The 1982 season was plagued with retirements for the 037, but the new car did manage to achieve several wins including its first win at the Pace Rally in the UK. The 1983 season was considerably more successful for the 037: Lancia took the 1983 World Rally Championship Constructors’ title with Germany’s Walter Röhrl and Finland’s Markku Alen its principal drivers, despite serious competition from the 4WD Audi Quattro. Both drivers, however, missed the final round of the series, despite Röhrl maintaining a mathematical chance of the drivers’ title: such honours instead went to Audi’s veteran Finn, Hannu Mikkola. For the 1984 Constructors’ title defence, Lancia introduced an Evolution 2 version of the 037 with improved engine power, up to 325 bhp, from an enlarged 2111cc engine, but this was not enough to stem the tide of 4WD competition, losing to Audi in both 1984 championships, and again to the 4WD Peugeot 205 T16 in its final works season in 1985. Indeed, Alen collected the final 037 win, and the sole one for the E2 model, on the 1984 Tour De Corse, before it was finally pensioned off in the Martini sponsored Lancia factory rally car line-up in favour of its successor, the uniquely supercharged and turbocharged 4WD Delta S4, for the season-ending RAC Rally in Great Britain. Driver Attilio Bettega died in a 037 crash in 1985. This particular car was a fourth place finisher in San Remo driven by Fabrizio Tabatan. After many years of neglect, the car returned to the ex-works Baldi brothers for repair and is now in a private collection in the UK.
Lotus didn’t produce a V8 engined Esprit until the 1990s, but prototype chassis number one had a V8 a good two decades earlier. Not that it was fitted with a V8 during its prototyping duties. The car was heavily modified by Cypriot rallycross driver Dimi Mavgropolis once it left the Lotus factory to suit his chosen motorsport discipline. The rear overhang was much shortened with modified rear bodywork, and a spaceframe chassis underneath to accommodate the Rover-derived 3.9-litre engine and Hewland DG300 gearbox. Bodywork at the front was changed, too, with no shortage of louvres adding to the car’s purposeful look. It’s slightly rough and ready, but suits its intended purpose perfectly. The car has been owned by Terry Maynard for almost three decades, and has been a regular at this event for many years. Terry regularly competed in rallycross events during his early ownership of the car, but these days uses it for only a handful of rally stage events each year. Terry’s son Neil Maynard was driving it at this event. ‘It’s really good to drive,’ he says. ‘It’s quite tail happy but controllable. I rallycross a Triumph TR8, so I’m used to rear wheel drive, but being mid-engined this is a bit different. It never understeers.’ Terry also has a Ford RS200, but Neil hasn’t been allowed to drive that on a stage yet. ‘I’m hoping to be allowed to soon,’ he says. The father-and-son clearly have fun with the car – that much you can tell from the fact that it is ofen (though not on this occasion) to be seen with skis on the roof and wooden fish in the driver’s door pocket, both inspired by the (very different) James Bond Esprit.
There were a couple of different Evo cars here, a IV and the legendary VI.
In 1979 work began on a rally-spec Opel. Both the Ascona B and the Manta B were used for this. The Ascona 400 model was the more successful of the two, largely due to better weight distribution. Opel joined forces with German tuner Irmscher and Cosworth in Britain, to make the 400. Cosworth was given the task to develop a 16-valve 2-cam head for the CIH spec engine block, and Irmscher who earlier in 1977 and 78 had proven that they knew their way around an Opel building the i2800, was to design the exterior and interior of the cars. The results were not bad. Opel however had problems with the engine. The first idea of using a 2.0-litre engine and then using the 16-valve head from Cosworth simply did not give enough power. The problem was that the heads had already been built, so the heads were made to fit on the CIH type 4-cylinder engine block. So they built an unusual engine using a 2.0-litre engine block with an overbore and larger pistons, a crankshaft from the 2.3-litre diesel engine of same type (CIH) and ended with a 2.4-litre engine block. Mounting the 16-valve head on this gave a massive output, and the opportunity to make several tune-ups for the rally drivers. Opel delivered the first 23 specimens in 1981 which were recognizable by the 2 slot front grille (1982, 83, and 84 models had 4 slot grilles). The cars were delivered as both street cars and factory tuned rally cars. The streetcars known as Phase 1 cars, were luxury versions of the Manta B Coupé. Although all the changes to give the body more strength were still implemented, the cars were delivered with all kinds of exclusive packaging. Recaro seats with big Opel badges on the cloth, Irmscher leather steering wheel, and even front light washers were mounted. The cars were all delivered in Arctic White colour, with White Ronal lightweight 7×15″ alloys. The engine was fitted with a Bosch LE injection system and power output was 144 bhp. The Phase 2 however was quite different. It had large extended arches front and rear made of materials such as carbon and kevlar to keep the weight down, lightweight doors, bonnet, spoilers and windows. The wheels were still from Ronal but now measuring 8×15″ front and 10×15″ rear. The engine output was 230 bhp using a set of 1.9 in DCOE style carburettors, and the cars could be delivered with different gearboxes from ZF and with different rear axle options like LSD. Phase 3 which is also a term used when talking about the i400s was not a factory tune-up. Many racers of the time had their garages tune up the engine even further. Some made it across the 300 bhp mark and even today, engines can be tuned to deliver just over 340 bhp still naturally aspirated. The Manta 400 was produced in a total of 245 specimens following the homologation regulations by FISA (today FIA). But the i400 also spawned some other “i” models: The first was the i200 which basically was a GSi model Manta B with most of the Manta 400’s appearance. 700 were made and are still considered a collector’s item. The i200 used a tuned 2.0E engine delivering 125 PS. There was also the i240, which is rarer as only 300 were produced, it is fitted with the i400 engine block but using a normal eight-valve cast-iron head from the 2.0E engine. First presented at the 1985 Geneva Motor Show, it produces 134 bhp and has a claimed top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph).
205 GTi Group A
This is a Renault R5 Maxi Turbo. In response to Lancia’s rallying success with the mid-engined Stratos, Renault’s Jean Terramorsi, vice-president of production, asked Bertone’s Marc Deschamps to design a new sports version of the Renault 5 Alpine supermini. The distinctive new rear bodywork was styled by Marcello Gandini at Bertone. Although the standard Renault 5 has a front-mounted engine, the 5 Turbo featured a mid-mounted 1,397 cc Cléon-Fonte with fuel fed by Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection and a Garrett AiResearch T3 turbocharger OHV 2 valves per cylinder Inline-four engine placed behind the driver in mid-body in a modified Renault 5 chassis. In standard form, the engine developed 160 PS at 6000 rpm and maximum torque of 221 Nm (163 lb/ft) at 3250 rpm. Though it used a modified body from a standard Renault 5, and was badged a Renault 5, the mechanicals were radically different, the most obvious difference being rear-wheel drive and rear-mid-engined instead of the normal version’s front-wheel drive and front-mounted engine. At the time of its launch it was the most powerful production French car. The first 400 production 5 Turbos were made to comply with Group 4 homologation to allow the car to compete in international rallies, and were manufactured at the Alpine factory in Dieppe. Many parts later transferred to the Alpine A310, such as the suspension or alloy wheel set. The R5 Turbo was conceived with dual intent, promoting the sales of the common R5 and being homologated in the FIA group 3 and 4 categories of the rally championship (today WRC). All the motorsport derivatives were based on the Turbo 1. The factory pushed the engine output up to 180 PS for the Critérium des Cévennes, 210 PS for the Tour de Corse, and by 1984 as much as 350 PS in the R5 Maxi Turbo. Driven by Jean Ragnotti in 1981, the 5 Turbo won the Monte Carlo Rally on its first outing in the World Rally Championship. The 2WD R5 Turbo soon faced the competition of new Group B four-wheel drive cars that proved faster on dirt. There are several victories throughout the early 80’s in the national championships in France, Portugal, Switzerland, Hungary, and Spain, many victories in international rallies throughout Europe, with wins in iconic rallies such as Monte-Carlo. After the factory ceased support, it lived a second life being developed by many teams and enthusiasts to compete in regional championships and local races in which it was ubiquitous and reached many success for almost 20 years. At the time of retirement, the newly created historical categories allowed these cars to return to international events and competitions, living a third life. For these reasons it has accessed to a legendary status and has a huge fan base.
Astra Group A
Atalanta Motors is a British car company created in 2011 by Martyn Corfield to relaunch the dormant 1930s Atalanta which stopped production due to the war after a production run of only 21 cars. Initially announcing the rebirth of the marque in 2012 with the retro-designed Sports Tourer, Atlanta Motors displayed another car at the 2014 Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace, but production models have yet to be announced. The new Atalanta is built from hand-beaten aluminium panels over an ash wood chassis, with a claimed 90 per cent of the components designed and engineered in-house. The Atalanta features disc brakes, rack and pinion steering and is powered by a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine producing 214 bhp.
A varied display of cars from this motorsport and engineering company.
This is a race-prepared Jaguar XK120.
Follow on to the Prince Henry was the 30/98. Constructed at the behest of car dealer and motor sport competitor Joseph Higginson, inventor of the Autovac fuel lifter, he won the Shelsley Walsh hill-climb motoring competition on 7 June 1913 in his new Vauxhall, setting a hill record in the process, having in previous weeks made fastest time of the day at Waddington Pike and Aston Clinton. The 30-98s used the Prince Henry chassis, they were distinguished by having more-or-less flat rather than V-shaped radiators. Laurence Pomeroy took the Prince Henry L-head side-valve engine, bored it out 3 mm, then cold-stretched the crankshaft throws 5 mm using a steam power hammer to lengthen the stroke. The camshaft was given a new chain drive at the front of the engine, high lift cams and new tappet clearances. The Prince Henry chassis was slightly modified and the whole given a narrow alloy four-seater body, a pair of alloy wings and no doors. Before war intervened only 13 30-98s were made and they were for selected drivers, the last in 1915 for Percy Kidner a joint managing director of Vauxhall. Actual production did not really begin until 1919. The 30-98 name is believed to have been coined because the car had an output of 30 bhp at 1,000 rpm and 98 bhp at 3,000 rpm but another explanation is that it had an RAC horsepower rating of 30 and a cylinder bore of 98 mm though perhaps the most likely of all is that there was then a popular but heavier slower Mercedes 38/90. However it was found, the name 30-98 looked and sounded so well. The 30/98 was not really a racing machines but a fast touring car. The exhaust made a tranquillising rumble, there was no howl, no shriek, no wail. But there was the quiet satisfaction, if stripped for action, the car could lap Brooklands at 100 mph. The makers guaranteed that. Some owners had to watch their car being given the test to be reassured. Production continued until 1927.
This very distinctive Mini is one of the 300 cars produced following inspiration by the designer Paul Smith for the UK market. Extras include leather seats, charcoal alloys and an exclusive dashboard. Many of them were painted in a bright blue colour but this one is far more eye-catching
There were a number of individual cars parked up at various points on the site which caught my eye. Among them were a Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead and a modern Morgan.
An interesting display from the RAC Heritage collection was another of the attractions. Two out of the three RAC vehicles were classics that were used by the RAC, dating back to as early as 1927. First up was an Austin A35 van, which was one of the four-wheeled vans that replaced the RAC motorcycles previously used by their Patrol Services. From 1960-1967 Austin 35s were allocated to Supervising Officers. The next vehicle was a Norton ES2 sidecar which made its debut when it appeared at the Olympia Show back in 1927. Originally this classic bike was launched as a sports motorcycle when founded by James Landsdowne Norton in 1902. During this time, this Norton dominated the racing industry with its long stroke single engine. As well as the classic car and classic bike on display, the RAC fitted perfectly in with the concours as they also displayed their modern patrol vehicle to show the difference between the makes as times has gone by.
The Arnage, a twin of the Rolls-Royce-branded sibling, the Silver Seraph, was introduced in the Spring of 1998, the first entirely new designs for the two marques since 1980. This is a large car: over 5.4 meters (212 in) long, 1.9 metres (75 in) wide, and has a kerb weight of more than 2.5 metric tonnes. For a brief period it was the most powerful and fastest four-door saloon on the market. In a complete switch from tradition, whilst these cars had bodies built at the Crewe factory, the then owner, Vickers, decided that the car would be powered by engines built elsewhere. A number of potential engines were examined, including the GM Premium V engine, and a Mercedes-Benz V8 engine, before, in late 1994, Vickers selected a pair of BMW power plants. It was decided that the Rolls-Royce model would use BMW’s naturally aspirated V12 engine while the more-sporting Bentley model would use a special twin-turbo version of the 4.4-litre BMW V8, which was developed by Vickers subsidiary, Cosworth Engineering. On its introduction in the spring of 1998, the Arnage was available as a single model with the this 4,398cc twin turbo developing some 354 PS (349 bhp) and 420 lb·ft. During the takeover battle in 1998 between BMW and Volkswagen Group for ownership of Rolls Royce and Bentley Motors, BMW had threatened to stop supply of their engines if Volkswagen Group won. While the threat was later withdrawn in conjunction with BMW acquiring the right to manufacture the Rolls Royce marque at a new location, it was clear that Volkswagen could not accept the business and reputation risks associated with having their rival as a long-term business partner. Furthermore, customers were nervous about engine and part availability (of which there turned out to be no issue) and orders for new cars dropped precipitously. Volkswagen’s response was to prepare the old pushrod 6.75-litre 16-valve engine from the Turbo R for the Arnage, designed for the lighter and smaller BMW 32-valve V8 unit. Coupled with an outdated 4-speed automatic, the engine was extremely thirsty, and would not meet government-imposed emissions standards without hasty modifications.The revised version of the car was launched as the Arnage Red Label in October 1999. At the same time, but without the fanfare, Bentley made several minor modifications to the original BMW engined cars, and designated them as the “Arnage Green Label” for the 2000 model year. As part of the modification process, both Red and Green Label cars received stiffer body shells and larger wheels and brakes. The stiffer body shell was needed because of the extra weight of the British engine. The larger brakes were needed for the same reason. Despite the larger brakes, braking performance worsened with the extra weight of the 6.75 engine. The braking performance of the ’99 Green Label from 70–0 was 172 feet while the later Arnage T’s performance was 182 feet from the same speed. The PR department at Bentley pointed to customer demand as the driving force behind the reversion to the old two valve per cylinder 6.75-litre unit for the Red Label. This explanation appears to have been acceptable to all but a few of the motoring press who welcomed the return of the old unit after criticising the BMW motor as at best insipid and, at worst, underpowered. In reality, the outgoing BMW-powered Arnage was technically more modern, considerably more fuel efficient, and had 32 valves with double overhead camshafts, twin-turbo and Bosch engine management technology – as opposed to 16-valve, single turbo and a pushrod motor with less advanced engine management. The Red Label’s increase in motive power shaved less than a second of the zero to 60 mph time. However, the BMW twin turbo unit remained noticeably more agile and responsive from a driver’s perspective, due to its more responsive DOHC engine, better weight balance(maintaining a 51.1/48.9 weight distribution) and almost 600 lb (270 kg) lower curb weight. Ultimately the Green Label was more reliable and significantly less expensive to service in the long term. The key limiting factor of the BMW engine’s output was the ZF 5HP30 transmission which was not rated to handle more than the 413 lb·ft torque that the twin turbo engine was tuned to produce. In total only seven Arnage Green Label units were built, all of which were left-hand-drive versions. There was a final series of vehicles built in 2000 with the 4.4-litre BMW engine designated the Arnage Birkin, of which 52 units were produced and are distinguishable by their three-dial as opposed to five-dial instrument centre dashboard configuration. A long-wheelbase version of the Red Label was launched at the North American International Auto Show in 2001. The Green Label ended production in 2000. The Red Label models were replaced in 2002. In 2001, the Arnage RL, a long-wheelbase model, 9.8 in longer than the Arnage, was launched, the extra length added to the car at its rear doors and its C-pillar. With the standard Arnage model, the rear wheel wells butt up against the rear door frames, but with the RL they are a few inches further back. The overall effect is a larger rear area inside the car. Available only as a bespoke “Mulliner” model, each RL was customised to the desires of the buyer. The RL, however, was also the first of a new series of Arnages which would finally cure the Bentley Arnage of the reliability and performance deficiencies experienced following its forced deprivation of the modern BMW engines it was designed to use. The RL would also present a credible challenge to BMW’s attempts to revive the Rolls-Royce brand with its planned new model, the Phantom. The RL’s introduction saw the introduction of an entirely reworked version of the 6.75-litre V8 engine. Where the engine used in the Red Label was a quickly and less-than-completely-satisfactorily modified version of the Turbo RT’s unit, the RL featured an entirely reworked version of the old 6.75-litre V8. More than half of the engine’s parts were completely new, with Bosch Motronic ME7.1.1 engine management replacing the old Zytek system, and two small Garrett T3 turbochargers replacing the single large T4. This new engine developed 405 PS (399 bhp) and 616 lb·ft, and was said to be capable of meeting all future emissions requirements. Finally, the Arnage was powered by a modern twin-turbo unit with state-of-the-art electronic management system similar to the originally Cosworth-BMW unit developed for the Arnage in 1998. Perhaps ironically, what was essentially a new engine developed by Volkswagen Group engineers for the RL in 2001, was now producing the same sort of power as the original BMW V8 4.4 engine used in the first Arnage in 1998. Unfortunately, the development and testing of the revisions to the new engine were rushed by VW to meet regulatory requirements. As a result, the camshafts are prone to failure requiring extensive repair work to remedy In 2002, Bentley updated the Red Label as the series two Arnage R. This model was launched to contrast the Arnage T, which was developed to be more sporting. The Arnage R features two Garrett T3 turbochargers, as with the RL.The Arnage T, also from 2002, was claimed to be the most powerful roadgoing Bentley at its launch at the Detroit Motor Show. As with the Arnage R, there were twin-turbochargers, but tuned to develop 465 PS (459 bhp) and 645 lbf·ft. The Arnage T’s 0–60 mph time is 5.5 seconds; a top speed of 170 mph was claimed. The Arnage range was facelifted in 2005, with a front end resembling that of the new Continental GT. Production of the Arnage ceased in 2009.
A bit of fun came in the shape of the Footman James Concours of Elegance , where attendees could register their vote. Five British marques were each represented by two cars, and rather than vote for an individual car, the contest was trying to decide the favourite marque. Choosing between them was very difficult, and the result announced at the end of the event was that the people voted for Aston Martin..
Oldest entrant was this Morgan “Family” and this contrasted with the brand new Morgan Aero GT which made its debut earlier in the year.
Representing Bentley were a 1920s Bentley 3 litre and the latest Continental GT.
Aston Martin cars presented were the DB2 of the early 50s and the recent DBS.
The pair of Lotus models comprised an XI which I did photograpn and an Elise S2 which the camera seems to have missed.
Then there were a duo of Jaguars. 1930s elegance was represented by the Jaguar SS1. The early 1930s were tough times for those making cars, as the effects of the Great Depression took hold, but under the guidance of the chairman, William Lyons, the SS Company survived by making a series of beautifully styled cars offering exceptional value for money although some enthusiasts criticised them at the time for being “more show than go”. The engines and chassis supplied by the Standard Motor Company were fitted with Swallow bodies styled under Lyons supervision. The first of these SS range of cars available to the public was the 1932 SS 1, which was available with either a 2-litre or 2½-litre side-valve, six-cylinder engine and it was followed by the SS 2 with a four-cylinder 1-litre side-valve engine. At £385 brand new they were one of the cheapest ‘quality’ sports saloons on sale at the time. Seen here is an SS1 Coupe from 1935.
Second Jaguar was a Project Seven. This was first shown in the summer of 2013, more of an indication of what could be done with the new F Type rather than as something which was going to be produced, but such was the clamour from enthusiasts that Jaguar decided to build a limited run of them, and even at a starting price of £130,000, there were more people who wanted to buy one than cars that Jaguar planned to make, with the car selling out before it officially went on sale. Just 250 will be built, 80 available to buyers in the UK, 50 in Germany and the balance to the Americans, who, it would seem, have been getting their cars first. The Seven in the name refers to Jaguar’s seven Le Mans wins (two of them with the help of Ecurie Ecosse, of course). Visually, it is easy to recognise from a standard F Type, with its abbreviated screen, its new front bumper, many aero mods (carbonfibre splitter, blade-like side skirts, rear diffuser and deck-mounted rear wing) and its nose stripes and racing roundels. The owner explained that he is not allowed to put a number on the roundel for road use, and he is also agonising over whether to put on a front number plate, as it would spoil the looks of the car. The Project 7 starts as a standard V8 drophead, with its 5.0-litre supercharged engine modified to produce 567bhp, which is 25bhp more than an F-Type R Coupé and 516lb ft of torque (15lb ft more). Proportionally speaking, these aren’t huge increases, but they’re delivered via unique throttle maps that let you feel the extra energy from around 2500rpm and these figures do make this the most powerful Jaguar ever made. Combine this with the benefits of a 45kg weight reduction (35kg of this comes from that rather ungainly “get you home” hood and the seats have race-bred carbonfibre shells) and you get an F-Type capable of the 0-60mph sprint in 3.8sec. The top speed is electronically limited to 186mph or 300km/h, as with other F-Types. With the exhaust butterflies open (there’s a special console switch), the car emits a superb growl-bark that turns into a magnificent crackle on the overrun. It’s the one thing that makes you want to slow down, though we did not get the real benefit of this as the car was driven, carefully around the rough and cobbled surfaces of the Square. A lot of the engineering effort spend on developing the car was in rebalancing the suspension and aerodynamics for high-speed duty. Font negative camber was increased from 0.5 to 1.5deg, to encourage the front wheels to dig in, and rear torque vectoring – differential braking of the rear wheels – is there to make the car turn easily. The car’s rear-biased aerodynamic downforce was addressed by fitting side skirts and a large front splitter, while slightly reducing the effectiveness (and drag) of the bootlid wing. Project Seven is fitted with all the top-end running gear: eight-speed Quickshift transmission, electronic differential, carbon-ceramic brakes, unique-tune adaptive dampers and its own special settings for engine management and chassis stability control. The Project 7 also has unique springs and anti-roll bars, the most prominent feature being front springs that are a stonking 80% stiffer, to cope with the potential force generated by the brakes and withstand turn-in loads at high speed on the soft standard Continental Force tyres. Engineers also moved the Sport and standard suspension settings further apart, to provide good options for short and long-distance use. The modifications are apparently most obvious on track, and Jaguar SVO reckon most owners will take their cars there as part of the limited mileage that they will probably cover in an average year.
In previous years there have been a number of dealer displays, though it has to be noted that these have lessened with every year. The inaugural event saw lots of displays from volume brands on the slopes between the entrance road and the track, but these dropped off in each subsequent year and this time that area was used only for food and drink stalls. There were a small number of dealers present, though, located towards the bottom of the hill.
Only three examples from the vast BMW range were here: the recently released M3 Competition, the new M5 and the i8 Roadster.
If you think that Eadon Green’s Zeclat is the type of car that’s meant to waft along on country roads like some type of bloated grand tourer, think again, because this is a completely different type of animal. This was definitely one of the event’s weirdest supercars. It’s powered by a naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 engine, which allows it to get from zero to 60 mph (96 km/h) in a blistering 3.6 seconds, thanks to 460 HP and 465 lb-ft (630 Nm) of torque. And yes, you don’t need to look that close in order to see that it’s based off a Corvette C7 wearing a custom exterior body. It’s low, wide, and (supposedly) styled after aero cars created in the 1930s by French coach-builders such as Figioni & Falaschi, Bugatti, Chapron and PourTout – though, I will leave you to tell me if it lives up to those names. Inside, the Corvette C7’s cabin is unchanged featuring the familiar driver-oriented cockpit, with hand-stitched leather, carbon fibre, piano black glossy surfaces and polished aluminium here and there. Aim it at the horizon and the 460 HP Corvette LT1 V8 unit will “convert power to speed in a safe and controllable way,” says the coachbuilder. Meanwhile, the near 50/50 weight distribution, performance traction management, electronic limited slip differential and launch control system all play their part in making this car enjoyable to drive. Purists can even substitute the Zeclat’s 8-speed paddle shift automatic for a 7-speed manual gearbox with Active Rev Match – a system for smooth gear change throttle blips. There are five different running modes to choose from: Weather Mode, ECO Mode, Tour Mode, Sport Mode and Track Mode – their functions being pretty self explanatory. Performance aside, potential buyers will be glad to know that, like the Corvette, the Eadon Green Zeclat has some decent connectivity options too, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Another tech-related function is the head up display, available with three different views.
Launched at the start of the year, the i30N was well received by press and public alike, and we can surely expect to see more and more of these well-priced cars on our roads in the coming months.
JAGUAR LAND ROVER CLASSIC
A couple of fabulous Jaguars were presented here: an E Type and an XK150 drophead.
Greypaul of Soihull had a representative sample of the latest Maserati models on display including the Ghibli, Levante and GranCabrio.
McLaren Birmingham had the latest models from this constantly evolving range on show, with a 570S Spider being captured by my camera.
Some high end cars on this leasing company’s stand, which included the McLaren 720S and Rolls Royce Dawn.
There were two separate parts of the SuperCar display. The more extreme, rarer and mostly the more valuable cars were parked in two long lines in a marquee area a little way from the entrance and then there was the area in which I was invited to park, which also had a number of smaller marquees so some of the cars were sort of in the shade. Between the two areas there was quite a variety from the majority of the marques you might expect to find represented.
There was another example of the DB2/4, which you could get a lot closer to than the one in the Aston Martin enclosure.
Although not the first in the DB series, this is undoubtedly the best-known, and needs little in the way of an introduction, as this model is famous for being the most recognised cinematic James Bond car, first appearing in the James Bond film Goldfinger The DB5 was a follow-on to the DB4, designed by the Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera. Released in 1963, it was an evolution of the final series of DB4. The principal differences between the DB4 Series V and the DB5 are the all-aluminium engine, enlarged from 3.7 L to 4.0 L; a new robust ZF five-speed transmission (except for some of the very first DB5s); and three SU carburettors. This engine, producing 282 bhp, which propelled the car to 145 mph, available on the Vantage (high powered) version of the DB4 since March 1962, became the standard Aston Martin power unit with the launch in September 1963 of the DB5. Standard equipment on the DB5 included reclining seats, wool pile carpets, electric windows, twin fuel tanks, chrome wire wheels, oil cooler, magnesium-alloy body built to superleggera patent technique, full leather trim in the cabin and even a fire extinguisher. All models have two doors and are of a 2+2 configuration. Like the DB4, the DB5 used a live rear axle At the beginning, the original four-speed manual (with optional overdrive) was standard fitment, but it was soon dropped in favour of the ZF five-speed. A three-speed Borg-Warner DG automatic transmission was available as well. The automatic option was then changed to the Borg-Warner Model 8 shortly before the DB6 replaced the DB5. The high-performance DB5 Vantage was introduced in 1964 featuring three Weber twin-choke 45DCOE side-draft carburettors and revised camshaft profiles, delivering greater top-end performance at the expense of overall flexibility, especially as legendary Webers are renowned as ‘full-throttle’ devices. This engine produced 315 hp. Only 65 DB5 Vantage coupés were built. Just 123 convertible DB5s were produced (also with bodies by Touring), though they did not use the typical “Volante” name until 1965. The convertible model was offered from 1963 through to 1965. Originally only 19 of the 123 DB5 Convertibles made were left-hand drive. 12 cars were originally fitted with a factory Vantage engine, and at least one further convertible was subsequently factory fitted with a DB6 specification Vantage engine. A rare factory option (actually fitted by Works Service prior to customer delivery) was a steel removable hard top. From October 1965 to October 1966, Aston Martin used the last 37 of the Aston Martin DB5 chassis’ to make another convertible model. These 37 cars were known as “Short Chassis” Volantes and were the first Aston Martins to hold the “Volante” name. Although calling it a “Short Chassis” is a bit of a misnomer as the “short” comes from comparing it to the subsequent DB6, which has a longer chassis. When compared to the DB5, it is not “short” but rather the same size, however these cars differ to the DB5 convertible models as they feature DB6 split front and rear bumpers and rear TR4 lights, as also used on the DB6.
Following the unveiling of the AMV8 Vantage concept car in 2003 at the North American International Auto Show designed by Henrik Fisker, the production version, known as the V8 Vantage was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 2005. The two seat, two-door coupé had a bonded aluminium structure for strength and lightness. The 172.5 inch (4.38 m) long car featured a hatchback-style tailgate for practicality, with a large luggage shelf behind the seats. In addition to the coupé, a convertible, known as the V8 Vantage Roadster, was introduced later in that year. The V8 Vantage was initially powered by a 4.3 litre quad-cam 32-valve V8 which produced 380 bhp at 7,300 rpm and 409 Nm (302 lb/ft) at 5,000 rpm. However, models produced after 2008 had a 4.7-litre V8 with 420 bhp and 470 Nm (347 lbft) of torque. Though based loosely on Jaguar’s AJ-V8 engine architecture, this engine was unique to Aston Martin and featured race-style dry-sump lubrication, which enabled it to be mounted low in the chassis for an improved centre of gravity. The cylinder block and heads, crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, camshafts, inlet and exhaust manifolds, lubrication system and engine management were all designed in house by Aston Martin and the engine was assembled by hand at the AM facility in Cologne, Germany, which also built the V12 engine for the DB9 and Vanquish. The engine was front mid-mounted with a rear-mounted transaxle, giving a 49/51 front/rear weight distribution. Slotted Brembo brakes were also standard. The original V8 Vantage could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds before topping out at 175 mph. In 2008, Aston Martin introduced an aftermarket dealer approved upgrade package for power and handling of the 4.3-litre variants that maintained the warranty with the company. The power upgrade was called the V8 Vantage Power Upgrade, creating a more potent version of the Aston Martin 4.3-litre V8 engine with an increase in peak power of 20 bhp to 400 bhp while peak torque increased by 10 Nm to 420 Nm (310 lb/ft). This consists of the fitting of the following revised components; manifold assembly (painted Crackle Black), valved air box, right and left hand side vacuum hose assemblies, engine bay fuse box link lead (ECU to fuse box), throttle body to manifold gasket, intake manifold gasket, fuel injector to manifold seal and a manifold badge. The V8 Vantage had a retail price of GB£79,000, US$110,000, or €104,000 in 2006, Aston Martin planned to build up to 3,000 per year. Included was a 6-speed manual transmission and leather-upholstery for the seats, dash board, steering-wheel, and shift-knob. A new 6-speed sequential manual transmission, similar to those produced by Ferrari and Lamborghini, called Sportshift was introduced later as an option.An open-topped model was added to the range in 2006 and then in the quest for more power a V12 Vantage joined the range not long after.
During 2016, a handful of lucky customers were able to take delivery of one (or both) of a couple of very special versions of the Vantage offered, the GT8 and GT12, and examples of both were here. First of them was the Vantage GT12. This started out as the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 special edition when it was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show 2015. The company said that they would only manufacture 100 cars. After a complaint from Porsche over the use of the “GT3” moniker, the car was renamed the Vantage GT12. It features a new iteration of the 6.0-litre V12 that produces 592 bhp and 461 lb/ft of torque. It has a kerb weight of 1,535 kg (3,384 lb), and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. There were sufficient external alterations that you would know that you were looking at something very special. For the Vantage GT8, which was launched a year later, Aston decided to make more cars – 150 of them, which was 50 more than the GT12. The GT8 features the same 4.7-litre V8 as found in the base Vantage but with power now increased to 440 bhp, and has a top speed of 190 mph (310 km/h). The GT8 is available with either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed Sportshift II automated manual transmission, and has a kerb weight of 1,510 kg (3,329 lb), a 100 kg (220 lb) reduction over the V8 Vantage S.
The DB11 is the latest addition to the range, looking quite different to the DB9 which it replaced.
Final Aston was this Vanquish Zagato Speedster. In 2017 Aston Martin announced a limited series production of the Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato; the latest creation from its long-standing partnership with the prestigious Italian design-house Zagato. The Vanquish Zagato Concept was unveiled to great acclaim at the prestigious Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este at Lake Como, Italy in May 2016. The Vanquish Zagato is available in 4 body styles – coupé, convertible, speedster, or shooting brake. 99 each were built of the coupé, convertible, and shooting brake, while a mere 28 speedsters were made, for a total of 325 cars. The Vanquish Zagato features the same AM29 V12 from the Vanquish S, which has a power output of 603 PS and 630 Nm (465 lb/ft) of torque, allowing the Vanquish Zagato to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.5 seconds before reaching a top speed of 324 km/h (201 mph).
Designed, developed and built by Quattro GmbH, Audi’s high performance private subsidiary, the Audi R8 is often heralded as the world’s best everyday supercar. Built on an aluminium monocoque chassis, the R8 has been described by 6-time le Mans winner Jacky Ickx as the “best handling road car today”, high praise indeed, and he is far from the only person to be impressed. Even the UK motoring journalists, not renowned for the positive words that they pen on Audis (in complete contrast to their German peers) almost ran out of superlatives for this car. This is one of the V8 models, dating from 2009, which means that it has 430 bhp, a 0-60 time of 4.0 seconds and a top speed of 168 mph. There was a nice example here.
Now familiar to visitors to Prescott among locations, this Veyron Supersport is one of a number of cars owned by Surjit Raj which be drives over from is East Midlands base to support events like this one. The Veyron may have been around for over 10 years but it is still a real attention magnet!
Elsewhere I came across a second Veyron, also one of Surjit’s cars.
First seen at the 1968 Paris Motor Show, the 365 GTB/4 “Daytona” was the last of the classic front engined V12 Ferrari models. Almost immediately the 365 GTB/4 gained its ‘Daytona’ moniker from Ferrari’s 1-2-3 result in the 1967 24-hour race of the same name. The Daytona’s engine and handling certainly didn’t undermine its racing nomenclature. The 4.4-litre, 4-cam V12 produced an astonishing 352bhp and, despite its 1,633kg bulk, the Daytona was billed as the fastest road car in the world. Not only was 174mph more than brisk, but crucially, it was faster than the Miura. The 5-speed gearbox was mounted at the rear for a more optimal weight distribution, and helped give the Daytona its predictable handling and solid road-holding. Like so many Ferraris of the period, the Daytona’s beautiful bodywork was designed by Pininfarina with the car built by Scaglietti. The delicate front was cleanly cut with both pop-up and Plexiglas headlight varieties. The rear slope was suggestively rakish and a Kamm tail provided further clues as to the performance of the car. The wheel arch flares, although elegant in proportion, are the only real overt notion that this car has significant pace, until you drive one! A number of them had their roof removed in the 1980s when people wanted the far rarer GTS Spider version, but values of the cars are such now that I would hope no-one would even contemplate such an act of sacrilege again! Along with 123 “official” open-topped GTS cars, 1284 Daytona models were produced.
Still seen by many as the most beautiful Ferrari ever built was the 246 GT Dino and this time there was just one example here. The Ferrari Dino was created to honour Alfredo ‘Dino’ Ferrari, Enzo Ferrari’s only legitimate son, who sadly died of muscular dystrophy in 1956. Unlike any previous road-going Ferrari, the Dino utilised a V6 engine, the Tipo 156, which Alfredo himself had helped develop and strongly advocated during his working life. Following continued motor racing success and in order to homologate Ferrari’s 1966 Formula Two campaign, a new line of mid-engined production V6 coupés with Fiat running gear went on sale in 1967 in two litre 206 GT form. However, in 1969 a larger 2.4 litre Dino was introduced, named the 246 GT or GTS in the case of the Spider. Only 3,913 definitive Dinos were built before the introduction of the completely restyled V8 engined 308 in 1973. The voluptuous bodywork of the 246, which many regard as the prettiest ever to grace a road-going Ferrari, was designed by Pininfarina and built by Scaglietti. It clothed a tubular chassis which carried wishbone independent suspension at each corner. The compact four-cam, 190bhp. engine was mounted transversely above the five-speed gearbox and just ahead of the rear axle, allowing for both a comfortable cockpit and some usable boot space.
More recent models were a standard 488 GTB, still a current model, and one of the 488 Challenge cars.
It was a night of the year 1990 when two of the most respected automobile engineers met for a frugal dinner at an anonymous English restaurant. One was Mark Warklett and the other Noel Palmer: the former employee for Ginetta Cars, the latter for TVR. During that conversation, both had a bright idea that they scribbled on the tablecloth of their table – much to the waiters’ annoyance. They thought of a new sports car with a barchetta design and after having paid for the dinner and the tablecloth alike, they started to further develop this new model. It was in this unusual way that the new Ginetta G33 came to life. Presented at the British International Motor Show in 1990 and heir to the less performing G27, the new car was built on a galvanized steel tubular frame wrapped by a fibreglass body while the suspensions were independent on all four sides. The braking system consisted of four disc brakes placed behind aluminium alloy sports rims wrapped by Goodyear Vector tyres. The propulsion was entrusted to a Rover V8 3.9 engine managed by a 5-speed manual transmission which was able to release the power of 200 hp. This, thanks to its low weight of just 850 kg, made the G33 capable of an acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 5 seconds net, with a top speed of 250 km/h. Thanks to the low price and the enthusiastic reviews provided by renowned magazines (including Top Gear), the G33 managed to find 90 buyers, undoubted success for a small company such as Ginetta. Unfortunately, the production had to be shut down in 1993 due to serious liquidity problems when a financial crisis hit the company.
The seemingly endless wait for the new NS-X is now a couple of years ago, though the jury is still out as to whether it is quite so iconic as the first car to bear its name. It was one of these which was here, just over a quarter of a century after Honda stunned the world with a true Ferrari-beater. Its origins go back all the way to 1984, when Honda commissioned the Italian car designer Pininfarina to design the HP-X (Honda Pininfarina eXperimental), which had a mid-mounted C20A 2.0 L V6 configuration. After Honda committed to the project, management informed the engineers that the new car would have to be as fast as anything coming from Italy and Germany .The HP-X concept car evolved into a prototype called the NS-X, which stood for “New”, “Sportscar” and “eXperimental”. The NS-X prototype and eventual production model were designed by a team led by Chief Designer Ken Okuyama and Executive Chief Engineer Shigeru Uehara, who subsequently were placed in charge of the S2000 project. The original performance target for the NS-X was the Ferrari 328, and later the 348 as the design neared completion. Honda intended the NS-X to meet or exceed the performance of the Ferrari, while offering targeted reliability and a lower price point. For this reason, the 2.0L V6 of the HP-X was abandoned and replaced with a more powerful 3.0L VTEC V6 engine. The bodywork design had been specifically researched by Okuyama and Uehara after studying the 360 degree visibility inside an F-16 fighter jet cockpit. Thematically the F-16 came into play in the exterior design as well as establishing the conceptual goals of the NSX. In the F-16 and other high performance craft such as unlimited hydroplanes, single seat race cars etc. the cockpit is located far forward on the body and in front of the power plant. This “cab-forward” layout was chosen early in the NSX’s design to optimise visibility while the long tail design enhanced high speed directional stability. The NS-X was designed to showcase several Honda automotive technologies, many derived from its F1 motor-sports program. The NS-X was the first production car to feature an all-aluminium monocoque body, incorporating a revolutionary extruded aluminium alloy frame, and suspension. The use of aluminium in the body alone saved nearly 200 kg in weight over the steel equivalent, while the aluminium suspension saved an additional 20 kg; a suspension compliance pivot helped maintain wheel alignment changes at a near zero value. Other notable features included an independent, 4-channel anti-lock brake system; titanium connecting rods in the engine to permit reliable high-rpm operation; an electric power steering system; Honda’s proprietary VTEC variable valve timing system (a first in the US) and, in 1995, the first electronic throttle control fitted to a Honda. With a robust motorsports division, Honda had significant development resources at its disposal and made extensive use of them. Respected Japanese Formula One driver Satoru Nakajima, for example, was involved with Honda in the NS-X’s early on track development at Suzuka race circuit, where he performed many endurance distance duties related to chassis tuning. Brazilian Formula One World Champion Ayrton Senna, for whom Honda had powered all three of his world championship-winning Formula One race cars before his death in 1994, was considered Honda’s main innovator in convincing the company to stiffen the NSX chassis further after initially testing the car at Honda’s Suzuka GP circuit in Japan. Senna further helped refine the original NSX’s suspension tuning and handling spending a whole day test driving prototypes and reporting his findings to Honda engineers after each of the day’s five testing sessions. Senna also tested the NSX at the Nurburgring and other tracks. The suspension development program was far-ranging and took place at the Tochigi Proving Grounds, the Suzuka circuit, the 179-turn Nurburgring Course in Germany, HPCC, and Hondas newest test track in Takasu, Hokkaido. Honda automobile dealer Bobby Rahal (two-time CART PPG Cup and 1986 Indianapolis 500 champion) also participated in the car’s development. The production car made its first public appearances as the NS-X at the Chicago Auto Show in February 1989, and at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1989 to positive reviews. Honda revised the vehicle’s name from NS-X to NSX before final production and sale. The NSX went on sale in Japan in 1990 at Honda Verno dealership sales channels, supplanting the Honda Prelude as the flagship model. The NSX was marketed under Honda’s flagship Acura luxury brand starting in 1991 in North America and Hong Kong. It sent shockwaves through the industry, as the car was considerably better than the Ferrari 348 in just about every respect. But that was not the end of the story, of course. While the NSX always was intended to be a world-class sports car, engineers had made some compromises in order to strike a suitable balance between raw performance and daily driveability. For those NSX customers seeking a no-compromise racing experience, Honda decided in 1992 to produce a version of the NSX specifically modified for superior on-track performance at the expense of customary creature comforts. Thus, the NSX Type R (or NSX-R) was born. Honda chose to use its moniker of Type R to designate the NSX-R’s race-oriented design. In 1995, a Targa model was released, the NSX-T, which allowed customers to experience fresh air thanks to two removable targa top panels. The original NSX body design received only minor modifications from Honda in the new millennium when in 2002 the original pop-up headlamps were replaced with fixed xenon HID headlamp units. There was just one of these much admired cars here.
Two very contrasting Jaguar models were here, though each in their day could be considered to fulfil the same sort of brief: these were the E Type and the latest F Type SVR.
The Gallardo was launched in 2003, and stayed in production over 10 years, In excess of 10,000 were made, making it by some margin the most popular Lamborghini yet made. During the long life, lots of different variants were produced with a mixture of all wheel drive and rear wheel power only, open topped bodies, and lightened Superleggera models. Seen here was a Gallardo Spyder. The convertible variant of the Gallardo, called the Gallardo Spyder, was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January 2006. It was considered by the company to be an entirely new model, with the engine having a power output of 520 PS and a low-ratio six-speed manual transmission. The Spyder has a retractable soft-top. It evolved in parallel with the fixed roof model, with a number of different versions being produced before the car was deleted in 2014, replaced by the Huracan.
The Aventador has been a huge success for Lamborghini. It was first seen at the 2011 Geneva Show, with the full name of Aventador LP700-4 Coupe, the numbers denoting the output of 700 bhp from the all-new V12 engine and the 4 meaning four wheel drive, something which has featured on every Aventador since. The launch price was £250,000 but even so within a month, Lamborghini had a year’s worth of orders, and within a year, 1000 had been built. In November 2012 a Roadster version arrived, which was very similar to the Coupe, but with a lift-out roof panel. A suite of mechanical changes came at this point, with a cylinder deactiviation technology helping to improve fuel consumption and cut emissions. To mark half a century of car production, in April 2013, the LP720-4 50th Anniversary was launched, with 100 units available. As well as the extra 20 bhp, these had a mildly redesigned nose and tail, special paintwork and unique interior trim. A Roadster version followed in December 2014, the LP 700-4 Pirelli Edition. This did not have the extra power, but did feature two tone paint, unique wheels and a transparent engine cover, with the engine bay finished in carbon fibre. Lamborghini turned up the wick in march 2015 with the LP750-4 SuperVeloce, or SV for short, which featured and extra 50 bhp and a 50 kg weight reduction largely thanks to the use of more carbon fibre. A Roadster version followed a few months later. At the start of 2017, the entry level model was upgraded, becoming the Aventador S, initially as a Coupe, but the Roadster followed later in the year. This had a power boost to 740 bhp, improved aerodynamics, and a revised suspension, as well as the introduction of four-wheel steering and a new TFT dash. In 2018 the 8000th model was produced and just a month after announcing this, the ultimate model appeared, the Aventador SVJ. This boasted 770 bhp and further aerodynamic aids. Production of this version was limited to 900 units. For those who wanted something even more exclusive there were 63 examples of the SVJ 63 edition to mark the formation of the company in 1963.
Now well-established in the range is the Huracan. Replacing Lamborghini’s sales leader and most produced car, the Gallardo, the Huracán made its auto show debut at the March 2014 Geneva Auto Show, and was released in the second quarter of 2014. The name of the Huracan LP 610-4 comes from the fact that this car has 610 metric horsepower and 4 wheel drive. Huracán (huracán being the Spanish word for hurricane) is inspired by a Spanish fighting bull. Continuing the tradition of using names from historical Spanish fighting bulls, Huracán was a bull known for its courage that fought in 1879. Also Huracan is the Mayan god of wind, storm and fire. Changes from the Gallardo included full LED illumination, a 12.3 inch full-colour TFT instrument panel, Fine Nappa leather and Alcantara interior upholstery, redesigned dashboard and central tunnel, Iniezione Diretta Stratificata (IDS, essentially an adapted version of parent Audi’s Fuel Stratified Injection) direct and indirect gasoline injections, engine Stop & Start technology, EU6 emissions regulation compliance, Lamborghini Doppia Frizione (LDF) 7-speed dual-clutch transmission with 3 modes (STRADA, SPORT and CORSA), 20 inch wheels, carbon-ceramic brake system, optional Lamborghini Dynamic Steering variable steering system and MagneRide electromagnetic damper control. In early 2015, the Huracán appeared on Top Gear. It got a neutral review from Richard Hammond who said that it was too tame to be a “proper Lamborghini.” However, it got around the Top Gear test track in 1:15.8 which is faster than any other Lamborghini to go around the track to date, including the Aventador.
There were a pair of race spec Esprit models here.
As well as my Ghibli there was an example of the first generation model to bear the name. First unveiled in prototype form on the Maserati stand at the November 1966 Turin Motor Show, this grand tourer with an all steel body, characterised by a low, shark-shaped nose, was designed by a young Giorgetto Giugiaro, then working at Carrozzeria Ghia. Deliveries started in March of the following year. While the 1966 Ghia prototype was a two-seater, on the production car two emergency rear seats were added—consisting of nothing more than a cushion without backrest—and the Ghibli was marketed as a 2+2, though everyone tends to think of this car as a 2 seater, and the later Indy as the real 2+2 from the range. The first Ghibli cars were powered by a front placed quad-cam 4.7 litre dry sump V8 engine that prodiuced 306 bhp, mated to a five-speed manual or, on request, to a three-speed automatic transmission. It had a 0-60 mph time of 6.8 seconds, a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). The car also featured pop-up headlamps, leather sport seats and alloy wheels. A convertible version, the Ghibli Spyder, went into production in 1969. Its convertible top folded away under a flush fitting body-colour tonneau cover behind the front seats; thus the Spyder eschewed any vestigial rear passenger accommodation, and was a strict two-seater. A removable hard top was available as an option. The 4.9-litre Ghibli SS was released later in 1969. Its V8 engine was stroked 4 mm to displace 4930 cc, and put out 330 bhp; its top speed of 280 km/h (174 mph) made it the fastest Maserati road car ever produced. In all, 1,170 coupés and 125 Spyders (including 25 Spyder SS) were produced.
Also here were cars from the current range the Levante and the GranTurismo.
This 570S is a recent acquisition by Joy Rainey, an inveterate supporter of events in this part of the country. Well known in her earlier years for her performances behind the wheel, Joy recently sold off a number of the older cars in her fleet, which no doubt helped her to fund this shiny new toy, which she was delighted to find could accommodate her mobility scooter in the front boot.
Two successive generations of the top Mercedes AMG sports models were present, the SLS AMG and its quasi replacement, the slightly cheaper and less extreme AMG GT.
This is the R33 generation GT-R. The R33 Skyline was introduced in August 1993. Slightly heavier than the R32, it was available in coupe and sedan body configurations. The R33 was the safest of the models with a rating of 3.8 out of 5.5 accordingly; the airbag system and internal crash bars made this vehicle significantly safer than previous models. All models now used a six-cylinder engine. Nissan took the unusual step of down-grading the GTS model to have only the RB20E, while the twin-cam of the R32 GTS was discontinued. The 2.0 L turbo RB20DET GTS-t was also discontinued and was replaced with the GTS-25t which was equipped with the larger RB25DET and featured HICAS as standard in all GTS-25t sub-models except the Type G. Some models came equipped with a new version of the HICAS 4-wheel steering system called Super HICAS. This computer controlled system was first used on the R32 GT-R. Super HICAS used electric actuators to steer the rear, as opposed to the hydraulic HICAS. This generation was no longer considered a “compact” under Japanese legislation that determined the amount of tax liability based on exterior dimensions. As an option, an active limited slip differential was available instead of the standard viscous LSD. This new unit locked the rear differential if it detected that traction was lost by one of the wheels. A light on the dash also lit up if the LSD engaged. Active LSD came standard on all V-Spec R33 GT-R Skylines and was also available on some ECR33 GTS-25t models; these can be identified by the A-LSD and SLIP lights on the tachometer. The RB25DE and RB25DET engines also became equipped with NVCS (variable inlet cam phasing). NVCS equipped RB series engine have a bulge on the front of the cam cover. To celebrate their 40th anniversary, Nissan introduced a very rare 4-door GT-R. Two versions of the 4-door GT-R were available from Nissan’s subsidiaries: the first was produced by Autech, and the second was a joint Autech/Nismo project. A Nissan Laurel C34 based wagon was released in September 1996, called the Stagea. It is widely regarded as a compatriot of the Skyline, rather than the Laurel it was based on, owing to drivetrain configurations—Commonly AWD using ATTESA ET-S. A common modification on the Stagea is to fit it with an R34 skyline front, in effect making an R34-lookalike wagon. A manual transmission was only available on the RS-Four and RS-Four V models. There was also an Autech tuned Stagea, the 260RS; released with full GT-R running gear, including an RB26DETT engine and manual transmission, a unique body kit, 17″ BBS style alloys, and GT-R instrumentation. The R33 Skyline (Spec 2) continued the concepts introduced in the R32. Driver and Passenger airbags became standard in 1996. As a result, pre-1996 models are barred from being imported into various countries for consumer road use as they do not meet the frontal impact standards. (However, in the U.S., there are Federal Laws regarding safety and emissions that require certain documents to be obtained, certain criteria to be met and adhered to, or 25 years to pass, before the sale of this vehicle becomes legal.) For the RB25DET engine the ignition system was also changed, with the ignition module no longer located on the cam covers and was instead replaced by smart ignition coils (Ignitor built into coil) and ECU. The RB25DET’s turbo was also given a nylon compressor wheel to improve response. Throughout the time the R33 was produced there were quite a number of different styled lights and bodykits fitted, the actual body/chassis underwent no changes. Among the cosmetic changes in the spec 2 were, the headlights which tapered down more towards the grill and were fitted with improved reflectors, the grill (which was longer on the Spec 1), the bonnet which had a re-shaped leading edge to fit the new lights and front bumper changing shape in the smallest amount to match the lower edge of the new headlights. Later models of the Spec 2 also had the option of having an Active-LSD fitted. The previous R32 model was a well proven build, but the R32 wasn’t without faults and suffered with uplift and balance issues. Along with that, Nissan was, as other Japanese companies were, under strict restrictions on power gains. So Nissan had to combat all these areas so the sophisticated strength Programme was made. Nissan increased the width by about one inch on the R33 to the R32 and made it about 4 inches longer. This gave the R33 a longer wheelbase overall and lower stance mixed with new technology now from the computer aerodynamic age. Each line on the R33 was intended to give the car ultimate aerodynamics with wider gaps in the bumper and angles of air movement which allowed better cooling, in addition to the fuel tank lifted; the battery moved to the boot/trunk. Rigidity points were added mixed with improvements on the Attessa and Hicas all now offered the R33 with the best aerodynamics, balance, and handling. Nissan engineers also found other ways to reduce weight, even by a few grams. This includes: Hollowing out the side door beams. Using high tensile steel on body panels. Reduction in sound deadening materials. Super HICAS becoming electric. Hollowing out of rear stabilizer bar. Use of high tensile springs front and rear. Shrinking the ABS actuator. Light aluminium wheels with higher rigidity The front and rear axles were made of aluminium (as in the BNR32), but so were engine mount insulators and brackets. New plastics were used for: fuel tank, head lamps, super high strength “PP” bumpers, air cleaner, changing the headlining material, changing material of rear spoiler. All this put together meant we saw an improved time against the R32 of 21 seconds faster around the Nürburgring and 23 seconds faster in V spec trim, still making the R33 the fastest Skyline around the Nürburgring. The BCNR33 GT-R version also had the same RB26DETT engine that the BNR32 was equipped with, although torque had been improved, due to changes in the turbo compressor aerodynamics, turbo dump pipe, and intercooler. The turbo core changed from a sleeve bearing to a ball bearing, but the turbine itself remained ceramic, except on N1 turbos (steel turbine, sleeve bearing). From the R33 onward, all GT-Rs received Brembo brakes. In 1995 the GT-R received an improved version of the RB26DETT, the ATTESA-ETS four-wheel-drive system, and Super HICAS 4-wheel steering. A limited edition model was created in 1996, called the NISMO 400R, that produced 400 hp from a road-tuned version of Nissan’s Le Mans engine.A stronger six-speed Getrag gearbox was used. An R33 GT-R driven by Dirk Schoysman lapped the Nordschleife in less than 8 minutes. The Skyline GT-R R33 is reported to be the first production car to break 8 minutes, at 7 minutes and 59 seconds. Other manufacturers had caught up since the R32 was released, and the R33 never dominated motorsport to the extent of the R32. The R33 saw victory in the JGTC GT500 dominating the class and taking victory each year until its final racing year in which it was finally beaten by the McLaren F1 GTR. The R33 saw huge favour in the tuning world with it being a popular model on the Wangan and top tuning companies building heavily tuned version from Top Secret ran by Smokey Nagata to Jun etc. and later by companies like Sumo. HKS GT-R would hold a drag series record for several years in there drag series making a record win of 7.671-second pass at Sendai Hi-Land Raceway with Tetsuya Kawasaki behind the wheel and taking it to be the World’s fastest AWD car. The R34 version arrived as a replacement in May 1998. It was never officially sold in the UK. but a considerable number of the cars have arrived in the UK over the years.
Also here was the current R35 generation GT-R and a Nismo car made to look very much like the race version seen earlier in this report.
There was quite an array of Porsche 911 cars here, ranging from the legendary G Series body of the late 70s and early 80s to a 996 Turbo and more recent 991 and 991.2 Turbo cars.
This is the latest Phantom, the eighth generation to bear the name, and introduced earlier this year replacing the long-lived and very imperious seventh generation car, first product of the new Goodwood-based Rolls-Royce motor cars.
CAR CLUBS and THE CAR PARKS
Although the prime interest at the event is focused on the hill climb cars and the other special displays, events like this always attract an array of interesting cars that can be found in the public car park. This is increased by the fact that a number of Car Clubs attend and park their cars as a group in an area at the top of the hill, to the left. It is not just Club displays that you find here, as those arriving in classics and other cars that deserve an element of prominence are also invited to park their cars here rather than in the long lines of other cars that are on the other side of the hill. You can spend a large part of the day walking up and down the rows here, as indeed we did, and will find lots that is camera-worthy. The main car park had plenty of gems hidden away, too. This is a vast area to cover, so there was only time to go once to have a look, though as the day ended, with a lot of spaces between the remaining cars it was much easier to spot those of particular interest and to head to them for a second look. There is almost an event in its own right just in this section of the report.
Although there was no official Abarth Owners Club presence here, I was rather expecting to find a few Abarths in the car park, and sure enough, I did, though not perhaps as many as you might imagine. First car that I came across was the popular 595, in Series 4 guise.
I also spotted an example of the latest 124 Spider, an eagerly awaited model which 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, as the Abarth UK staff demonstrated many times during the evening. 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. The car seen here was sporting the ‘Heritage Look’ pack, which is a no-cost option. It brings a matt black bonnet and bootlid, plus red exterior trim detailing and is likely to be 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. There will be more powerful versions to come, including a monstrous 300bhp Abarth 124 Rally.
Genuine AC Cobra are rare beasts, as not that many were produced, but for the last as long as anyone can remember, there have been all manner of replica and officially sanctioned continuation type cars produced, so there are pretty decent numbers of cars around that bear the legendary shape of this raw sports car. This is definitely not an original, but is still nice and with an amazing noise when the engine is fired up.
The Shelby Daytona Coupe (also referred to as the Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe) is an American sports-coupé related to the AC Cobra roadster, loosely based on its chassis and drive-train. It was built for auto racing, specifically to take on Ferrari and its 250 GTO in the GT class. Just six Shelby Daytona Coupes were built between 1964 and 1965, as Shelby was reassigned to the Ford GT40 project to compete at the 24 hours of Le Mans, again to beat Ferrari in the highest level prototype class. With the Shelby Daytona, Shelby became the first American constructor to win a title on the international scene at the FIA World Sportscar Championship in 1965. Whilst 5 of those originals were gathered together at the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed, neither of the two on site here were from the extremely valuable original production. Both were replicas, of which a reasonable number have been produced over the years, as there are plenty of people who love this car and want to own one but cannot afford the millions charged for an original on the rare occasions that one comes up for sale.
The 2600, or 106 Series, were an evolution of the model first seen in 1958 as a replacement for the 1900, and called the 2000 and known internally as the 102 Series. This was the time when Alfa was still in transition from being a maker of exclusive coachbuilt and racing cars to one that offered volume production models. The 102 Series were never likely to be big sellers, in a world that was still recovering economically from the ravages of the Second World War, but the range was an important flagship, nonetheless. The 2000 models ran for 4 years, from 1958 to 1962, at which point they were updated, taking on the name of 106 Series, with minor styling changes being accompanied by a larger 2600cc engine under the bonnet. As with the 2000 models, the new 2600 cars were sold in Berlina (Saloon), Sprint (Coupe) and Spider (Convertible) versions, along with a dramatically styled SZ Coupe from Italian styling house Zagato and a rebodied Berlina from OSI, all of them with an inline twin overhead cam six cylinder engine of 2.6 litres, the last Alfas to offer this configuration. Just 6999 of the Sprint models were made and 2255 Spiders, very few of which were sold new in the UK where they were exceedingly expensive thanks to the dreaded Import Duty which made them much more costly than an E Type. Many of the parts were unique to these cars, so owning one now is far harder than the more plentiful 4 cylinder Alfas of the era. Whilst the rather square styling of the Berlina, which won it relatively few friends when new and not a lot more in recent times means that there are few of these versions to be seen, the Sprint and Spider models do appear from time to time, and market interest in the cars is now starting to accelerate, with values rise accordingly. Seen here was a 2600 Spider.
Representing the 105 Series Spider was this example of the S4 generation. The final major changes to the long running Spider came in 1990, and mechanically, the biggest different was the use of Bosch Motronic electronic fuel injection with an electric fan. Externally, the Spider lost its front under-bumper spoiler and the rather ungainly rear boot spoiler of the S3, and picked up 164-style rear lights stretching across the width of the car as well as plastic bumpers the same colour as the car. This also marked the first generation of the car with automatic transmission, as well as on-board diagnostics capabilities. The car had remained in production largely thanks to continued demand in North America, though this market had to wait until 1991 for the changes to appear on their cars. European markets were offered a car with a 1600cc engine and carburettors as well as the 2 litre injected unit. Production finally ended in 1993, with an all new model, the 916 Series Spider appearing a year later. The S4 car was not officially sold in the UK, but plenty have found their way to our shores since then.
The 155 was one of a series of cars built by the Fiat Group on a shared platform, the so called Tipo 3 or Tipo Tre, which sat under the Fiat Tipo, and Lancia Delta 2, as well as the Fiat Coupe. Built to replace the rear wheel drive 75, the 155 was somewhat larger in dimension than its predecessor. The 155 was designed by Italian design house I.DE.A Institute which achieved an exceptional drag coefficient of 0.29, and the rather boxy design gave the car a sizeable boot, as well. The single most significant technical change from the 75 was the change to a front-wheel drive layout. This new configuration gave cost and packaging benefits but many Alfa die-hards and the automotive press lamented the passing of the “purer” rear-wheel drive layout on a car from this sporting marque. Not even the availability of the 155 Q4, which had a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and a permanent four-wheel drive powertrain, both derived from the Lancia Delta Integrale; making the car essentially a Lancia Delta Integrale with a different body was enough to win the sceptics over. Reception of the model was generally lukewarm. The 75 had been conceived prior to Fiat’s acquisition of the Alfa brand, so as “the last real Alfa” it cast rather a shadow over the 155; the loss of rear-wheel drive was frequently cited as the main cause of the disappointment. Nevertheless, the 155 was entered in Touring Car racing and was successful in every major championship it entered, which gradually improved its image. Belatedly, the factory introduced a wider version in 1995 (the “wide-body”) which as well as a wider track and revised steering based on racing experience or requirements, also brought in new 16-valve engines for the 1.8 and 2.0-litre whilst retaining the 2.5 V6 and making some improvements to cabin materials and build quality. There were several Sport Packs available, including a race-inspired body kit (spoiler and side skirts) and black or graphite-coloured 16-inch Speedline wheels. The more genteel could opt for the Super which came with wood inserts in the cabin and silver-painted alloy wheels. With this version, the 155 really came good. When production ceased in 1998, following the launch of the 156, 192,618 examples had been built.
When the 156 was launched in 1997, things looked very bright for Alfa. Striking good looks were matched by a driving experience that the press reckoned was better than any of its rivals. The car picked up the Car of the Year award at the end of the year. and when it went on sale in the UK in early 1998, waiting lists soon stretched out more than 12 months. Reflecting the way the market was going, Alfa put a diesel engine under the bonnet, launched a (not very good, it has to be admitted) automated transmission with the SeleSpeed, added a very pretty if not that commodious an estate model they called Sport Wagon and then added a top spec 3.2 litre GTA with its 250 bhp engine giving it a performance to outrun all its rivals. And yet, it did not take long before the press turned on the car, seduced by the latest 3 Series once more, citing build quality issues which were in fact far from universal. The 156 received a very minor facelift in 2002 and a more significant one in late 2003 with a new front end that was a clue to what would come with the car’s successor. Production ceased in 2005.
Alfa followed the 156 a couple of years later, in late 1998, with a larger saloon, the 166, hoping to receive the same sort of acclaim with this executive car which was a direct replacement for the 164. It was not forthcoming. For a start, the styling with its drooping and very small headlamps and pointed nose was quite unlike anything else on the market at the time. Part of the difficulty came from the fat that the car had been designed some years before its launch and then put on the back burner as the 156 was given priority. The 166 was initially available with a 155 PS 2.0-litre Twin Spark, a 190 PS 2.5 V6, a 220 PS 3.0 V6 and in some markets a 205 PS V6 2.0 Turbo petrol engine along with a diesel powered L5 2.4 10v common rail turbodiesel version with 136 PS, 140 PS and 150 PS (148 hp) output. The 2.0 TS model used a 5-speed manual gearbox, whilst the 2.5 and 3.0 had the option of a Sportronic automatic gearbox. The 3.0 V6, L5 2.4 and V6 Turbo were otherwise supplied with a six-speed manual gearbox. The top models were named “Super”, and included MOMO leather interior, 17″ alloy wheels, rain sensitive wipers, cruise control, climate control and ICS (Integrated Control System) with colour screen. Options included xenon headlamps, GSM connectivity and satellite navigation. Suspension systems comprised double wishbones at the front and a multi-link setup for the rear. Though the car’s handling characteristics, engine range and elegant exterior design received praise from many, including Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson, it did not become a strong seller to rival the dominant German brands, in the European executive car sector. In September 2003, the 166 underwent a substantial revamp, with the début at the Frankfurt Motor Show. As well as upgrades to the chassis, interior, and the engine range, the styling was substantially altered. The new front end resembled the also recently revamped 156, and lost its famous drooping headlights. The 2.0 V6 Turbo model was dropped because of marketing problems, the V6 2.5 was re-rated at 188 PS and a 3.2 litre V6 with 240 PS was introduced. Both the 3.2 litre and the 2.0 Twin Spark models now featured the six-speed manual gearbox, whilst the 3.0 model was retained, but made available only in Sportronic form. In the diesel sector, the L5 2.4 was re-engineered with Multi-Jet technology which allows up to 5 injections per cycle, second stage common rail, with maximum injection pressure of 1400 bar and 4 valves per cylinder, to output a class leading 175 PS, but these changes made little impact on sales volumes. In October 2005, the Alfa Romeo 166 was officially withdrawn from sale in markets for RHD. Sales of the 166 never grew as Alfa had hoped, following the facelift in September 2003, and the additional lack of a diesel engine in the United Kingdom, Australian, and Irish markets limited its reach into company car sectors. In June 2007, production of the 166 effectively ended, with no direct successor. In September 2008, the platform was sold to the Chinese state run manufacturer GAC Group. In total, less than 100,000 units were made.
Rather than replacing the 916 Series GTV with a single model, Alfa elected to produce two successors., The more commodious of the two, the GT, was the first to appear, making its debut in March 2003 at the Geneva Motor Show, finally going on sale in early 2004. It was built at the Pomigliano plant, alongside the 147 and 159. The GT was based on the Alfa 156 platform, which was also used for the 147, providing the 2-door coupé with genuine five-passenger capacity. It was styled by Bertone. Most mechanicals were taken directly from the 156/147 using the same double wishbone front suspension and MacPherson rear setup. The interior was derived form the smaller hatchback 147 and shared many common parts. The GT shared the same dash layout and functions, the climate control system as well as having a similar electrical system. Some exterior parts were taken from 147 with the same bonnet, wing mirrors and front wings (from 147 GTA). The engine range included both a 1.8 TS, and 2.0 JTS petrol engine, a 1.9 MultiJet turbodiesel, and a top-of-the-range 240 bhp 3.2 V6 petrol. There were few changes during the GT’s production life. In 2006 Alfa introduced a 1.9 JTD Q2 version with a limited slip differential, and also added a new trim level called Black Line. In 2008 Alfa introduced the cloverleaf model as a limited edition complete with new trim levels, lowered suspension, body kit, 18 inch alloy wheels and was only available in the colours black, Alfa red, or blue. with 1.8 and 2.0 litre petrol engines as well as the 1.9 litre Multijet turbo diesel. The GT was acclaimed for its attractive styling and purposeful good looks, in 2004 being voted the world’s most beautiful coupe in the annual ‘World’s Most Beautiful Automobile’ (L’Automobile più Bella del Mondo) awards. The car sold reasonably well, with 80,832 units being produced before the model was deleted in 2010.
Visually similar to the 159 models at the front, the Brera and Spider boasted unique styling from the A pillars rearwards. They were offered with the same range of engines as the 159, and thanks to that strong, but rather heavy platform on which they were built, even the 3.2 litre V6 cars were more Grand Tourer than rapid sports car. Pininfarina was responsible for both models. The Brera was first to market, in 2005, with the Spider following in 2006. Production of both ceased in late 2010, by which time 12,488 units of the Spider and 21,786 units of the Brera had been built. It will be very surprising if these do not attain classic status, and the consequent rise in values, though that has not happened yet.
The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish was designed by Ian Callum and bore a large resemblance to the production DB7 Vantage. However, the car had a strong influence from the Project Vantage Concept prototype which debuted with a V12 engine at the North American International Auto Show in January 1998. As underneath the car featured a strong aluminium/carbon composite construction, bonded chassis with a 5,935 cc V12 engine. It was available in 2+0 and 2+2 seating configurations. The 48-valve 60° engine produces 460 bhp and 400 lb⋅ft of torque. It is controlled by a drive-by-wire throttle and a six-speed Electrohydraulic manual transmission. The standard Vanquish model had 14.0 inch drilled and ventilated disc brakes with four-pot calipers, ABS, with electronic brake distribution. Its appearance in the 2002 James Bond film Die Another Day earned the V12 Vanquish the number three spot on the list of Best Film Cars Ever, behind the Minis from The Italian Job, and DB5 from Goldfinger & Thunderball. The car also appears in the video games Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, James Bond 007: Nightfire, and James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing. The Vanquish S debuted at the 2004 Paris Auto Show, with increased horsepower and performance and slight styling revisions. The engine displacement remained at 5,935 cc with power increased from 460 to 520 bhp. Visual changes included new wheels, a slightly different nose shape, a new raised bootlid with a larger integrated spoiler incorporating the third high level brake light (in the rear window on the original Vanquish), a Vanquish S badge on the bootlid (the original Vanquish had no rear model designation) and the addition of a small front splitter (although this was mainly done for aerodynamic reasons). As part of its improvements, the Vanquish S featured a slightly improved coefficient of drag of 0.32 (from 0.33), with help from a redesigned splitter and boot lid. Its front and rear track were 1,524 mm (60.0 inches) and 1,529 mm (60.2 inches), respectively. It also incorporated the features of a 2004 option package, the Sports Dynamic Pack, which incorporated sportier suspension, steering, and brake features. This model was sold for the 2005 (alongside the base Vanquish) and 2006 (as a stand-alone) model years in the United States with only minor running changes; it was not sold in the United States for 2007. The Vanquish S featured larger brakes than the V12 Vanquish; 14.9 in front discs with six-pot calipers and 13.0 inches rear discs. The end of the Vanquish’s production run was celebrated with the Vanquish S Ultimate Edition. Aston Martin announced that the last 50 cars built would have a new ‘Ultimate Black’ exterior colour, upgraded interior, and personalised sill plaques. 1086 Vanquish S were built. With a 200+ MPH top speed, the Vanquish S was (as measured by top speed capability) the fastest Aston Martin ever until the Vantage V12 S was introduced in May 2013. Vanquish production ended on 19 July 2007, coinciding with the closing of the company’s Newport Pagnell factory after 49 years of operation.
Follow on to the DB7 was the DB9 (there has never been a car called DB8 – supposedly because people might have assumed this meant a V8 engine), and there was a nice example here. The Aston Martin DB9, designed by Marek Reichmann and Hendrik Fisker, was first shown by Aston Martin at the 2003 Frankfurt Auto Show, in coupe form. It was widely praised for the beauty of its lines. This was the first model to be built at Aston Martin’s Gaydon facility. It was built on the VH platform, which would become the basis for all subsequent Aston models. The Aston Martin DB9 was initially launched equipped with a 6.0 litre V12 engine, originally taken from the V12 Vanquish. The engine produced 420 lbf·ft of torque at 5,000 rpm and a maximum power of 444 hp at 6,000 rpm, allowing the DB9 to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 299 km/h (186 mph). The engine largely sits behind the front-axle line to improve weight distribution. Changes to the engine for the 2013 model year increased the power to 503 hp and torque to 457 lb-ft, decreasing the 0 to 60 mph time to 4.50 seconds and with a new top speed is 295 km/h (183 mph). The DB9 was available with either a six-speed conventional manual gearbox from Graziano or a six-speed ZF automatic gearbox featuring paddle-operated semi-automatic mode. The gearbox is rear-mounted and is driven by a carbon-fibre tail shaft inside a cast aluminium torque tube. The DB9 was the first Aston Martin model to be designed and developed on Ford’s aluminium VH (vertical/horizontal) platform. The body structure is composed of aluminium and composites melded together by mechanically fixed self-piercing rivets and robotic assisted adhesive bonding techniques. The bonded aluminium structure is claimed to possess more than double the torsional rigidity of its predecessor’s, despite being 25 percent lighter. The DB9 also contains anti-roll bars and double wishbone suspension, supported by coil springs. To keep the back-end in control under heavy acceleration or braking, the rear suspension has additional anti-squat and anti-lift technology. Later versions of the car also features three modes for the tuning: normal, for every-day use, sport, for more precise movement at the cost of ride comfort, and track, which furthers the effects of the sport setting. The Aston Martin DB9 Volante, the convertible version of the DB9 coupe, followed a few months later. The chassis, though stiffer, uses the same base VH platform. To protect occupants from rollovers, the Volante has strengthened windscreen pillars and added two pop-up hoops behind the rear seats. The hoops cannot be disabled and will break the car’s rear window if deployed. In an effort to improve the Volante’s ride while cruising, Aston Martin have softened the springs and lightened the anti-roll bars in the Volante, leading to a gentler suspension. The retractable roof of the Volante is made of folding fabric and takes 17 seconds to be put up or down. The Volante weighs 59 kilograms (130 pounds) more than the coupe. The coupe and Volante both share the same semi-automatic and automatic gearboxes and engine. The car was limited to 266 km/h (165 mph) to retain the integrity of the roof. Like the coupe, the original Volante has 420 lb·ft of torque at 5,000 rpm and a maximum power of 450 hp at 6,000 rpm. The 0 to 60 mph slowed to 4.9 seconds due to the additional weight. The DB9 was facelifted in July 2008, which mainly amounted to an increase in engine power, to 476 hp and a redesigned centre console. Externally, the DB9 remained virtually unchanged. For the 2013 model year revision, Aston made minor changes to the bodywork by adapting designs from the Virage, including enlarging the recessed headlight clusters with bi-xenon lights and LED daytime strips, widening the front splitter, updating the grille and side heat extractors, updating the LED rear lights with clear lenses and integrating a new rear spoiler with the boot lid. .On newer models, like the coupe’s, the Volante’s horsepower and torque increased to 517 PS (510 hp) and 457 lb·ft respectively. As a finale for the model, a more powerful DB9 was released in 2015, called the DB9 GT. This had 540 bhp and 457 lb-ft of torque at 5500 rpm, giving a 0 to 60mph time of 4.4 seconds and 0 to 100mph in 10.2 seconds, with the standing quarter mile dispatched in 12.8 to 12.9 seconds and a top speed of 183mph. Production of the DB9 ended in 2016 being replaced by its successor, the DB11.
In October 1988, a second generation three-door Coupé was introduced in Europe. This generation is known internally as the Typ 8B and is basically a Typ 89 saloon with a modified rear suspension and a new front suspension system which previewed what was to come in the B4 Audi 80. When introduced it was only available with either the ten- or twenty-valve 2.3E engine, which was later joined by the 113 bhp and a number of other versions. In February 1989 a 20-valve version of the 2.0-litre five-cylinder engine went on sale in Italy. This was the only version of the Coupé sold in Italy, where cars of over two liters suffer a high tax penalty. It was not offered anywhere besides Italy and Portugal as it was never fitted with a catalytic converter. The engine produces 158 and this model was built until July 1991. Another export-market special built during the same period was an uncatalyzed, fuel injected 112 PS 1.8-litre inline-four. A naturally aspirated, 134 bhp 2.2E was also sold in some markets until late 1991, including the United Kingdom and Spain. In September 1990 the sporty S2 Coupé was introduced, followed one year later by a more luxury-oriented 2.8-litre V6 version. The Coupé received similar updates to the B4 Audi 80 and remained in production until December 1996. The Coupé did not have a direct replacement but was effectively succeeded by the first-generation Audi TT coupé (and roadster), sold between 1998 and 2006.
Oldest Austin model here was a Seven, Herbert Austin’s masterpiece which did much to put Britain on wheels in the 1920s. The first Sevens were built in 1922, and were four seat open tourers. Nicknamed Chummy, the first 100 featured a 696cc four cylinder engine, which was quickly upgraded to the 747cc unit that remained until the end of production some 17 years later. The first cars had an upright edge to the doors and a sloping windscreen, but from 1924, the screen became upright and there was a sloping edge to the doors, as well as a slightly longer body. Stronger brakes came along in 1926, along with a slightly taller nickel-plated radiator grille, conventional coil ignition, a more spacious body and wider doors. An even longer and wider body arrived in 1930, as well as a stronger crankshaft and improvements to the brakes which coupled front and rear systems together so they both worked by the footbrake. In 1931 the body was restyled , with a thin ribbon-style radiator and by 1932 there was a four speed gearbox to replace the earlier three-speeder. 1933 saw the introduction of the Ruby, a car that looked more modern with its cowled radiator. There were also Pearl and Opal versions. Development continued, so in 1937 there was a move to crankshaft shell bearings in place of the white metal previously used, and the Big Seven appeared. The last Seven was made in 1939, by which time 290,000 had been produced. Aside from saloons and tourers, there had been vans and sports derivatives like the Le Mans, the supercharged Ulster and the rather cheaper Nippy. Around 11,000 Sevens survive today.
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.
There were a couple of examples of the “Big Healey” here, one of Britain’s most popular classics. Donald Healey had been producing a range of expensive sports cars from the 1940s, cars such as the Silverstone, the Abbott and the Farnham. For the 1952 London Motor Show, he produced a new design, which was called the Healey Hundred, based on Austin A90 mechanicals, which he intended to produce in-house at his small car company in Warwick. It was one of the stars of the 1952 Show, and it so impressed Leonard Lord, the Managing Director of Austin, who was looking for a replacement to the unsuccessful A90. that Lord struck a deal with Healey on the spot, to build it in quantity. Bodies made by Jensen Motors would be given Austin mechanical components at Austin’s Longbridge factory. The car was renamed the Austin-Healey 100, in reference to the fact that the car had a top speed of 100 mph. Production got under way in 1953, with Austin-Healey 100s being finished at Austin’s Longbridge plant alongside the A90 and based on fully trimmed and painted body/chassis units produced by Jensen in West Bromwich—in an arrangement the two companies previously had explored with the Austin A40 Sports. By early 1956, production was running at 200 cars a month, 150 of which were being sold in California. Between 1953 and 1956, 14,634 Austin-Healey 100s were produced, the vast majority of them, as was the case for most cars in this post war era, going for export. The car was replaced by an updated model in 1956, called the 100-6. It had a longer wheelbase, redesigned bodywork with an oval shaped grille, a fixed windscreen and two occasional seats added (which in 1958 became an option with the introduction of the two-seat BN6 produced in parallel with the 2+2 BN4), and the engine was replaced by one based on the six-cylinder BMC C-Series engine. In 1959, the engine capacity was increased from 2.6 to 2.9 litres and the car renamed the Austin-Healey 3000. Both 2-seat and 2+2 variants were offered. It continued in this form until production ceased in late 1967. The Big Healey, as the car became known after the 1958 launch of the much smaller Austin-Healey Sprite, is a popular classic now. You come across the 3000 models more frequently than the 100s, as they accounted for more than 60% of all Big Healey production.
Oldest of the Bentley models I spotted was this Mark VI. Announced in May 1946, and produced from 1946 to 1952 it was also both the first car from Rolls-Royce with all-steel coachwork and the first complete car assembled and finished at their factory. These very expensive cars were a genuine success, long-term their weakness lay in the inferior steels forced on them by government’s post-war controls. The chassis continued to be supplied to independent coachbuilders. Four-door Saloon, two-door saloon and drophead coupe models with bodies by external companies were listed by Bentley along with the Bentley-bodied saloon. This shorter wheelbase chassis and engine was a variant of the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith of 1946 and, with the same standard steel body and a larger boot became the cautiously introduced Silver Dawn of 1949. The same extended-boot modification was made to the Mark VI body in 1952 and the result became known as the R type Bentley.
This Continental GT caught my eye and not necessarily for a good reason. You can certainly call the appearance “individual”.
The 1600-2, as the first “02 Series” BMW was designated, was an entry-level BMW, and was smaller, less expensive, and less well-appointed than the New Class Sedan on which it was based. BMW’s design director Wilhelm Hofmeister assigned the two-door project to staff designers Georg Bertram and Manfred Rennen. The 9.1 in shorter length and wheelbase and lighter weight of the two-door sedan made it more suitable than the original New Class sedan for sporting applications. As a result, the two door sedan became the basis of the sporting 02 Series. The 1600-2 (the “-2” meaning “2-door”) made its debut at the Geneva Show in March 1966 and was sold until 1975, with the designation being simplified to “1602” in 1971. The 1.6 litre M10 engine produced 84 hp at 5,700 rpm and 96 lb·ft. A high performance version, the 1600 TI, was introduced in September 1967. With a compression ratio of 9.5:1 and the dual Solex PHH side-draft carburettor system from the 1800 TI, the 1600 TI produced 110 hp at 6,000 rpm. Also introduced in September 1967 was a limited-production cabriolet, which would be produced by Baur from 1967 through 1971. A hatchback 1600 Touring model was introduced in 1971 but was discontinued in 1972. It was what came next which was more significant. Helmut Werner Bönsch, BMW’s director of product planning, and Alex von Falkenhausen, designer of the M10 engine, each had a two litre engine installed in a 1600-2 for their respective personal use. When they realised they had both made the same modification to their own cars, they prepared a joint proposal to BMW’s board to manufacture a two litre version of the 1600-2. At the same time, American importer Max Hoffman was asking BMW for a sporting version of the 02 series that could be sold in the United States. As per the larger coupe and 4-door saloon models, the 2.0 engine was sold in two states of tune: the base single-carburettor 2002 producing 101 hp and the dual-carburettor high compression 2002 ti producing 119 hp.In 1971, the Baur cabriolet was switched from the 1.6 litre engine to the 2.0 litre engine to become the 2002 cabriolet, the Touring hatchback version of the 02 Series became available with all engine sizes available in the 02 Series at the time and the 2002 tii was introduced as the replacement for the 2002 ti. The 2002 tii used the fuel-injected 130 hp engine from the 2000 tii, which resulted in a top speed of 185 km/h (115 mph). A 2002 tii Touring model was available throughout the run of the tii engine and the Touring body, both of which ended production in 1974. The 2002 Turbo was launched at the 1973 Frankfurt Motor Show. This was BMW’s first turbocharged production car and the first turbocharged car since General Motors’ brief offerings in the early 1960s. It produced 170 hp. The 2002 Turbo used the 2002 tii engine with a KKK turbocharger and a compression ratio of 6.9:1 in order to prevent engine knocking. Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection was used, with a sliding throttle plate instead of the usual throttle butterfly. The 2002 Turbo was introduced just before the 1973 oil crisis, therefore only 1,672 were built. The 1802 was introduced in 1971 and was available with either the original 2-door sedan body or the 3-door Touring hatchback introduced that year. Production of the Touring model continued until 1974, with the 1802 sedan ending production the following year. The 1502, an economy model with an engine displacement of 1573 cc was introduced in 1975. This engine had a lower compression ratio of 8.0:1, therefore standard-octane petrol could be used. While the rest of the 02 Series was replaced in 1975 by the E21 3 Series, the 1502 was continued until 1977.
There was also an example of the futuristic looking i8 hybrid sports car here.
Representing Bristol Cars was this 603. This was launched in 1976, to replace the 411, and along with the Zagato-built 412, was the first all new Bristol design since the introduction of the 406 in the late 1950s. The original 603 was offered in two versions, largely owing to the energy crisis which increased fuel prices so that affordability of fuel was no longer a certainty for those who could afford such expensive cars. The 603E had a 5,211 cc V8 petrol engine, whereas the 603S had a larger 5.9-litre unit, from Chrysler. Both retained the same transmission and suspension as the 411, but the cabin had become more luxurious with the provision of electrically adjustable seats and air conditioning. With the 603S2, as the energy crisis eased, all Bristols had a standard 5.9-litre Chrysler unit that was to be used for all subsequent editions of the car. The headlamp clusters were also set in a new grille. The third series of 603, introduced in 1982 and continuing until 1994, saw Bristol adopt for the first time the names of the famous Bristol Aeroplane Company models for its cars. With this series of 603, there was a smaller radiator grille and more modern rear vision mirrors. The tail-lights were also mounted directly vertically, whereas on previous versions of the 603 the reversing lights were separate from the rear turn indicators and brake lights. The Bristol Britannia was the standard version, whilst the Bristol Brigand had a Rotomeister turbocharger added to the Chrysler V8 engine and a torque converter originally used on the 440 V8 to cope with the extra performance, which saw the Brigand capable of 150 mph. The Brigand could be distinguished from the Britannia by the bulge in the bonnet needed to accommodate the turbocharger, and also had alloy wheels as standard equipment. There were a number of minor changes to the appearance of both models during their 12-year production run, especially at the front. With the Blenheim, Bristol further refined the 603, in particular modernising the mechanicals of the car through the introduction of multi-port fuel injection, which improved both performance and fuel consumption. Turbocharging was no longer available, but the Blenheim Series 1 still had the same level of performance as the Brigand. There was a significant change in frontal and rear-end styling with the introduction of the Blenheim. The headlights were paired and mounted considerably inboard from the extreme front of the car. The bonnet was also modified with the fitting of gas struts to hold it up when open for the first time, and featured a fully rectangular hinge for the first time in Bristol’s history. Since that time the Blenheim has gone through two additional series, the Bristol Blenheim Series 2, made from 1998 to the end of 1999, featured for the first time a 4 speed overdrive automatic transmission, which significantly improved fuel consumption, whilst the Blenheim 3 which went on sale in 2000 saw the abandonment of the vertically mounted tail-lights and a much revised interior layout with completely new gear selector and improved instrumentation.
This is a 2CV Beachcomber, one of a series of Limited Edition versions of the long running 2CV produced by Citroen, something which started with the Spot in 1976 and was followed by the very popular Charleston in 1980. The 2CV Beachcomber arrived in the UK in 1983, all the cars were finished in the same livery of white with blue decals. It was known as “France 3” in France or “Transat” in other continental European markets.
Also a limited edition model, but one not sold in the UK was this GSA Break “Cottager”. After 9 years production of the GS saloon, Citroen facelifted it in the autumn of 1979, giving it the hatchback many thought it should have had from birth, and renamed it the GSA. This change reflected the growing popularity of small family hatchbacks in Europe since the launch of the Volkswagen Golf. Other modifications included a new grille, new plastic bumpers, new taillights, new hubcaps and new exterior door handles. It also had a revised dashboard with the auxiliary controls on column-shaped pods so they could be reached without moving the hands from the single-spoked steering wheel; similar to the CX layout. Similar changes were made to the Estate version as seen here. Mechanically, there were few changes, with the 1129cc and 1299cc flat four engines continuing, though five speed gearboxes became more widespread. It was partly replaced by the larger BX in 1982, although production continued in reduced volumes until 1986. Citroën did not re-enter the small family hatchback market until the launch of the ZX in 1991.
There were a couple of Ferrari that were in the main car park rather than there area where I was parked up. Firmly placed in Ferrari’s history as one of their finest big GTs, the 550 Maranello’s combination of stylish Pininfarina lines and front mounted 12-cylinder engine meant this car had the potential to become an instant classic, following in the footsteps of its forebear, the 365 GTB/4 ‘Daytona’, and if you look at the way the prices are steading to go, it’s clear that the potential is being realised. Launched in 1996, and with modern styling cues, a 5.5 litre V12 engine producing around 485bhp and a reported top speed of 199mph, the 550 Maranello was a serious motor car. A less frenetic power delivery, the six speed manual box and excellent weight distribution were all factors in the 550 becoming the perfect European Grand Tourer. Ferrari updated the car to create the 575M.
The next V12 engined Ferrari was the 599 GTB (internal code F141) a new flagship, replacing the 575M Maranello. Styled by Pininfarina under the direction of Ferrari’s Frank Stephenson, the 599 GTB debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in February 2006. It is named for its total engine displacement (5999 cc), Gran Turismo Berlinetta nature, and the Fiorano Circuit test track used by Ferrari. The Tipo F140 C 5999 cc V12 engine produced a maximum 620 PS (612 hp), making it the most powerful series production Ferrari road car of the time. At the time of its introduction, this was one of the few engines whose output exceeded 100 hp per litre of displacement without any sort of forced-induction mechanism such as supercharging or turbocharging. Its 448 ft·lb of torque was also a record for Ferrari’s GT cars. Most of the modifications to the engine were done to allow it to fit in the Fiorano’s engine bay (the original Enzo version could be taller as it would not block forward vision due to its mid-mounted position). A traditional 6-speed manual transmission as well as Ferrari’s 6-speed called “F1 SuperFast” was offered. The Fiorano also saw the debut of Ferrari’s new traction control system, F1-Trac. The vast majority of the 599 GTB’s were equipped with the semi-automatic gearbox, with just 30 examples produced with a manual gearbox of which 20 were destined for the United States and 10 remained in Europe. The car changed little during its 6 year production, though the range did gain additional versions, with the HGTE model being the first, with a number of chassis and suspension changes aimed at making the car even sharper to drive, and then the more potent 599GTO came in 2010. With 670 bhp, this was the fastest road-going Ferrari ever made. Just 599 were made. The model was superceded by the F12 Berlinetta in 2012.
The Sierra RS Cosworth model. a very sporting version of Ford’s upper-medium sized family car, was built by Ford Europe from 1986 to 1992, the result of a Ford Motorsport project with the purpose of producing an outright winner for Group A racing in Europe. The project was defined in the spring of 1983 by Stuart Turner, then recently appointed head of Ford Motorsport in Europe, who had realised right away that Ford was no longer competitive in this area. Turner got in touch with Walter Hayes, at the time the vice-president of public relations at Ford, to get support for the project. Hayes had earlier been the driving force behind the development of the Ford GT40 that won Le Mans in 1966, and the Cosworth DFV engine that brought Ford 154 victories and 12 world championships in Formula One during the 1960s and 1970s. Hayes found the project very appealing and promised his full support. Turner then invited Ken Kohrs, vice-president of development, to visit Ford’s longtime partner, the automotive company Cosworth, where they were presented a project developed on Cosworth’s own initiative, the YAA engine. This was a twin cam, 16-valve engine based on Ford’s own T88 engine block, better known as the Pinto. This prototype proved an almost ideal basis for the engine Turner needed to power his Group A winner. Therefore, an official request for a turbocharged version (designated Cosworth YBB) capable of 180 HP on the street and 300 HP in race trim, was placed. Cosworth answered positively, but they put up two conditions: the engine would produce not less than 204 HP in the street version, and Ford had to accept no fewer than 15,000 engines. Turner’s project would only need about 5,000 engines, but Ford nevertheless accepted the conditions. The extra 10,000 engines would later become one of the reasons Ford also chose to develop a four door, second generation Sierra RS Cosworth. To find a suitable gearbox proved more challenging. The Borg-Warner T5, also used in the Ford Mustang, was chosen, but the higher revving nature of the Sierra caused some problems. Eventually Borg-Warner had to set up a dedicated production line for the gearboxes to be used in the Sierra RS Cosworth. Many of the suspension differences between the standard Sierra and the Cosworth attributed their development to what was learned from racing the turbocharged Jack Roush IMSA Merkur XR4Ti in America and Andy Rouse’s successful campaign of the 1985 British Saloon Car Championship. Much of Ford’s external documentation for customer race preparation indicated “developed for the XR4Ti” when describing parts that were Sierra Cosworth specific. Roush’s suspension and aerodynamics engineering for the IMSA cars was excellent feedback for Ford. Some production parts from the XR4Ti made their way into the Cosworth such as the speedometer with integral boost gauge and the motorsport 909 chassis stiffening plates. In April 1983, Turner’s team decided on the recently launched Sierra as a basis for their project. The Sierra filled the requirements for rear wheel drive and decent aerodynamic drag. A racing version could also help to improve the unfortunate, and somewhat undeserved, reputation that Sierra had earned since the introduction in 1982. Lothar Pinske, responsible for the car’s bodywork, demanded carte blanche when it came to appearance in order to make the car stable at high speed. Experience had shown that the Sierra hatchback body generated significant aerodynamic lift even at relatively moderate speed. After extensive wind tunnel testing and test runs at the Nardò circuit in Italy, a prototype was presented to the project management. This was based on an XR4i body with provisional body modifications in fibreglass and aluminium. The car’s appearance raised little enthusiasm. The large rear wing caused particular reluctance. Pinske insisted however that the modifications were necessary to make the project successful. The rear wing was essential to retain ground contact at 300 km/h, the opening between the headlights was needed to feed air to the intercooler and the wheel arch extensions had to be there to house wheels 10” wide on the racing version. Eventually, the Ford designers agreed to try to make a production version based on the prototype. In 1984, Walter Hayes paid visits to many European Ford dealers in order to survey the sales potential for the Sierra RS Cosworth. A requirement for participation in Group A was that 5,000 cars were built and sold. The feedback was not encouraging. The dealers estimated they could sell approximately 1,500 cars. Hayes did not give up, however, and continued his passionate internal marketing of the project. As prototypes started to emerge, dealers were invited to test drive sessions, and this increased the enthusiasm for the new car. In addition, Ford took some radical measures to reduce the price on the car. As an example, the car was only offered in three exterior colours (black, white and moonstone blue) and one interior colour (grey). There were also just two equipment options: with or without central locking and electric window lifts. The Sierra RS Cosworth was first presented to the public at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1985, with plans to release it for sale in September and closing production of the 5,000 cars in the summer of 1986. In practice, it was launched in July 1986. 5545 were manufactured in total of which 500 were sent to Tickford for conversion to the Sierra three-door RS500 Cosworth. The vehicles were manufactured in right hand drive only, and were made in Ford’s Genk factory in Belgium. Exactly 500 RS500s were produced, all of them RHD for sale in the UK only – the biggest market for this kind of Ford car. It was originally intended that all 500 would be black, but in practice 56 white and 52 moonstone blue cars were produced.To broaden the sales appeal, the second generation model was based on the 4 door Sierra Sapphire body. It was launched in 1988, and was assembled in Genk, Belgium, with the UK-built Ford-Cosworth YBB engine. Cylinder heads on this car were early spec 2wd heads and also the “later” 2wd head which had some improvements which made their way to the 4X4 head. Suspension was essentially the same with some minor changes in geometry to suit a less aggressive driving style and favour ride over handling. Spindles, wheel offset and other changes were responsible for this effect. Approximately 13,140 examples were produced during 1988-1989 and were the most numerous and lightest of all Sierra Cosworth models. Specifically the LHD models which saved weight with a lesser trim level such as manual rear windows and no air conditioning. In the UK, the RHD 1988-1989 Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth is badged as such with a small “Sapphire” badge on the rear door window trims. All 1988-1989 LHD models are badged and registered as a Sierra RS Cosworth with no Sapphire nomenclature at all. “Sapphire” being viewed as a Ghia trim level that saw power rear windows, air conditioning and other minor options. Enthusiasts of the marque are mindful of this and will describe the LHD cars by their body shell configuration, 3 door or 4 door. As the Sapphire Cosworth was based on a different shell to the original three-door Cosworth, along with its more discreet rear wing, recorded a drag co-efficient of 0.33, it registered slightly better performance figures, with a top speed of 150 mph and 0-60 of 6.1 seconds, compared to the original Cosworth. In January 1990, the third generation Sierra RS Cosworth was launched, this time with four wheel drive. As early as 1987, Mike Moreton and Ford Motorsport had been talking about a four wheel drive Sierra RS Cosworth that could make Ford competitive in the World Rally Championship. The Ferguson MT75 gearbox that was considered an essential part of the project wasn’t available until late 1989 however. Ford Motorsport’s desire for a 3-door “Motorsport Special” equivalent to the original Sierra RS Cosworth was not embraced. The more discreet 4-door version was considered to have a better market potential. It was therefore decided that the new car should be a natural development of the second generation, to be launched in conjunction with the face lift scheduled for the entire Sierra line in 1990. The waiting time gave Ford Motorsport a good opportunity to conduct extensive testing and demand improvements. One example was the return of the bonnet louvres. According to Ford’s own publicity material, 80% of the engine parts were also modified. The improved engine was designated YBJ for cars without a catalyst and YBG for cars with a catalyst. The latter had the red valve cover replaced by a green one, to emphasise the environmental friendliness. Four wheel drive and an increasing amount of equipment had raised the weight by 100 kg, and the power was therefore increased to just about compensate for this. The Sierra RS Cosworth 4×4 received, if possible, an even more flattering response than its predecessors and production continued until the end of 1992, when the Sierra was replaced by the Mondeo. The replacement for the Sierra RS Cosworth was not a Mondeo however, but the Escort RS Cosworth. This was to some extent a Sierra RS Cosworth clad in an “Escort-like” body. The car went on sale in May 1992, more than a year after the first pre-production examples were shown to the public, and was homologated for Group A rally in December, just as the Sierra RS Cosworth was retired. It continued in production until 1996. The Sierra and Sapphire Cosworths were undoubted performance bargains when new, but they also gained a reputation both for suffering a lot of accidents in the hands of the unskilled and also for being among the most frequently stole cars of their generation. These days, though, there are some lovely and treasured examples around and indeed you are far more likely to see a Cosworth version of the Sierra than one of the volume selling models.
This rather splendid F100 truck dates from 1958. The third-generation of the Ford F-Series are trucks that were produced by Ford from 1956 to 1960. Following its competitors at Dodge and General Motors, Ford widened the front bodywork to integrate the cab and front fenders together. Going a step further, the F-Series integrated the hood into the bodywork with a clamshell design; the feature would stay part of the F-Series for two decades. Although offered previously, the optional chrome grille was far more prominent than before. In the rear, two types of pickup boxes were offered, starting a new naming convention: the traditional separate-fender box was dubbed “FlareSide”, while “StyleSide” boxes integrated the pickup bed, cab, and front fenders together. As before, Ford still offered a “Low GVWR” version of each model. In May 1957, Ford discontinued building trucks at the Highland Park Ford Plant in Highland Park, Michigan. All light and medium trucks were transferred to 10 other plants in the USA. After 1969, Heavy-duty trucks (above F-350) and some light duty trucks were transferred to Kentucky Truck Assembly in Louisville, Kentucky. Third generation trucks were built in Brazil as the F-100, F-350, and F-600 from 1962 until 1971. OHV sixes and V8s were the same ones as used in Ford cars of the era. There were three versions offered: the F100, which had a 1/2 ton payload, the F250, with 3/4 ton and the F350 which carried 1 ton. For 1958, the grille was updated; the dual headlights are replaced by quad headlights (the only generation of the F-Series to use them). Ford also introduced the option of the F-Series in four-wheel drive. Previously a conversion outsourced to Marmon-Herrington, Ford was the first of the “big three” U.S. manufacturers to manufacture four-wheel drive trucks on its own.
The Invader was the last car made by Welsh car company, Gilbern. Introduced in July 1969, it was based on the Genie but with improved chassis and larger brakes. The front suspension now came from the MGC and the chassis was strengthened. It took the brand further up- market with fittings such as electric windows and walnut-veneered dashboard. The Invader was available as a complete car and from 1970 an estate version was also produced. Automatic or manual transmission with overdrive were available. It was updated to the Mk II version in 1971. In September 1972, a Mk III version was released, which had a Ford Cortina front suspension and was restyled front and rear. The engine was the higher tune unit from the Ford Capri 3000GT. The body was produced using new moulds and was both wider and lower than that of the earlier Invader, with the tack was extended by four inches. The wider axle led to wheel spats being added to the sides of the car. At the back the live rear axle was located by trailing links and a Panhard rod: adjustable shock absorbers were fitted all round. It was only available as a factory-built car and cost £2,693 in 1972, which was a lot of money. That proved to be the car’s ultimate downfall, and production ceased in 1973 after 603 had been made. The survival rate of Gilbern models is very high.
The G32 is a two seater mid-engined coupe and convertible, designed by Ivor Walklett. The car incorporated many Ford parts including interior and doors from the Ford Fiesta. It is a compact car 3.76m long, and 1.65m wide. The 1.6i is powered by a 4-cylinder (1597cc) Ford engine developing 110 bhp and 138 Nm (102 lb/ft) torque. The 1.9i model, powered by a 4-cylinder (1905cc) engine, develops 135 bhp and 145 Nm (107 lb/ft) torque. Both versions are fitted with a 5-speed manual gearbox. A 1.6 turbo version was tested but was not put into production. The car was launched in 1989 and over the course of the next 3 years, 115 were produced.
Based on the Honda J-VX concept car unveiled at the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show, the Insight was introduced in Japan in November 1999 as the first production vehicle to feature Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist system. In the following month, December 1999, Insight became the first hybrid available in North America, followed seven months later by the Toyota Prius. The Insight featured optimised aerodynamics and a lightweight aluminium structure to maximize fuel efficiency and minimize emissions. In addition to its hybrid drive system, the Insight was small, light and streamlined — with a drag-coefficient of 0.25. The petrol engine is a 67 hp 1.0 litre, ECA series 3-cylinder unit providing lean burn operation with an air-to-fuel ratio that can reach 25.8 to 1. The engine utilises lightweight aluminium, magnesium, and plastic to minimize weight. The electrical motor assist adds another 10 kW (13 hp) and a maximum of 36 pound-feet (49 Nm) of torque when called on, with the aim to boost performance to the level of a typical 1.5 L petrol engine. It also acts as a generator during deceleration and braking to recharge the vehicle’s batteries, and as the Insight’s starter motor. (This improves fuel efficiency and extends the lifetime and fade resistance of the brakes, without adding unsprung weight). When the car is not moving, for example at a stop light, the engine shuts off. Power steering is electric, reducing accessory drag. The Insight uses the first generation of Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid technology. (The next generation, used in the Honda Civic Hybrid, is much more space-efficient.) The Insight’s electric assist is an ultrathin 60 mm (about 2.4 inches) brushless 10-kW electric motor located on the crankshaft. Located behind the seats are a series of commercial grade “D” sized NiMH batteries wired to provide a nominal 144 V DC. During heavy acceleration, the NiMH batteries drive the electric motor, providing additional power; during deceleration, the motor acts as a generator and recharges the batteries using a process called regenerative braking. A computer control module regulates how much power comes from the internal combustion engine, and how much from the electric motor; in the CVT variant, it also finds the optimal gear ratio. The digital displays on the dashboard display fuel consumption instantaneously. On the manual transmission up and down arrows suggest when to shift gears. Dashboard gauges monitor the current battery status, instantaneous fuel consumption, and mode of the electric motor — standby, engine assist or charging the batteries. High pressure, low rolling resistance tires and the use of low viscosity “0W-20” synthetic oil enhance fuel economy. The original Insight had a conventional manual transmission. Starting with the 2001 model, a CVT variant of the Insight was available; the CVT is similar to that used in the Honda Civic Hybrid and the Honda Logo. A traditional transmission shifts between a fixed set of engine-to-wheel ratios; however, a CVT allows for an infinite set of ratios between its lowest gear and its highest. A feature shared by the two hybrids (and now appearing in others) is the ability to automatically turn off the engine when the vehicle is at a stop (and restart it upon movement). Since it is more powerful than most starters of conventional cars, the Insight’s electric motor can start the engine nearly instantaneously. The Integrated Motor Assist is run by an “Intelligent Power Unit (IPU)”, a desktop computer-sized box. The Intelligent Power Unit, the Power control Unit, the Electronic Control Unit, the vehicle’s batteries, dc-to-dc converter and a high-voltage inverter are all located under the cargo floor of the vehicle, behind the seats. Honda increased the vehicle’s fuel efficiency using aluminium and plastic extensively to reduce the vehicle’s weight. The basic structure is a new, lightweight aluminium monocoque, reinforced in key areas with aluminium extrusions joined at cast aluminium lugs. Stamped aluminium panels are welded onto this structure to form an extremely light and rigid platform for the drivetrain and suspension. The Insight has a body weight less than half that of the contemporary Civic 3-door, with increased torsional rigidity by 38% and bending rigidity by 13%. Honda built the Insight with aluminum front brake calipers and rear brake drums, and with a largely aluminium suspension, in addition to standard aluminium wheels; reducing the ratio of un-sprung to sprung weight as well as the total weight. The fuel tank is plastic; the engine mounts were aluminium; and the exhaust is a small, thin wall pipe. Its compact spare is also aluminium. The Insight weighed 1,847 lb (838 kg) in manual transmission form without air conditioning, 1,878 lb (852 kg) with manual transmission and air conditioning, or 1,964 lb (891 kg) with CVT and air conditioning. Insight has a coefficient of drag of 0.25e. The absence of a rear seat allows the body to taper just behind the driver and the rear track is 110 mm narrower than the front track. The CVT-equipped Insight is classified as a super-low emissions vehicle. The Insight features low emissions: the California Air Resources Board gave the 5-speed model a ULEV rating, and the CVT model earned a SULEV rating – the 5-speed model’s lean-burn ability traded increased efficiency for slightly higher NOx emissions. The Insight was assembled at the Honda factory in Suzuka, Japan, where the Honda NSX and the Honda S2000 were also assembled. At the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show, Honda introduced the concept car Honda IMAS, an extremely fuel-efficient and lightweight hybrid car made of aluminium and carbon fibre, which was perceived by most observers to be the future direction where the Insight was heading. With its aluminium body and frame, the Insight was an expensive car to produce and was never designed for high-volume sales. Instead, it was designed to be a real world test car for hybrid technology and a gauge to new consumer driving habits. With an aerodynamic fuel-saving shape similar to the Audi A2, and some unconventional body colors it was a bit more than mainstream car buyers could handle, preferring more conservative styles. Production halted announced in May 2006, with plans announced to replace Insight with a new hybrid car, smaller than the eighth generation Civic, but not earlier than in 2009. Ahead of this announcement, Honda stopped selling Insight in the UK, for example, as early as December 2005. To fill the market niche void, in 2002 Honda rolled out a hybrid version of the Honda Civic – Honda Civic Hybrid, followed by Toyota’s redesign of the Prius in 2003 as a 2004 model. Total global cumulative sales for the first generation Insight were 17,020 units. Honda had originally planned to sell 6,500 Insights each year of production.
Jaguar stunned the world with the XK120 that was the star of the Earls Court Motor Show in 1948. Seen in open two seater form, the car was a testbed and show car for the new Jaguar XK engine. The display car was the first prototype, chassis number 670001. It looked almost identical to the production cars except that the straight outer pillars of its windscreen would be curved on the production version. The roadster caused a sensation, which persuaded Jaguar founder and design boss William Lyons to put it into production. Beginning in 1948, the first 242 cars wore wood-framed open 2-seater bodies with aluminium panels. Production switched to the 112 lb heavier all-steel in early 1950. The “120” in the name referred to the aluminium car’s 120 mph top speed, which was faster with the windscreen removed. This made it the world’s fastest production car at the time of its launch. Indeed, on 30 May 1949, on the empty Ostend-Jabbeke motorway in Belgium, a prototype XK120 timed by the officials of the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium achieved an average of runs in opposing directions of 132.6 mph with the windscreen replaced by just one small aeroscreen and a catalogued alternative top gear ratio, and 135 mph with a passenger-side tonneau cover in place. In 1950 and 1951, at a banked oval track in France, XK120 roadsters averaged over 100 mph for 24 hours and over 130 mph for an hour, and in 1952 a fixed-head coupé took numerous world records for speed and distance when it averaged 100 mph for a week. Roadsters were also successful in racing and rallying. The first production roadster, chassis number 670003, was delivered to Clark Gable in 1949. The XK120 was ultimately available in two open versions, first as an open 2-seater described in the US market as the roadster (and designated OTS, for open two-seater, in America), and from 1953 as a drophead coupé (DHC); as well as a closed, or fixed head coupé (FHC) from 1951. A smaller-engined version with 2-litres and 4 cylinders, intended for the UK market, was cancelled prior to production.
The XK140, seen here in Fixed Head Coupe guise was the successor to the XK120, with a number of useful changes and upgrades over the earlier car which included more interior space, improved brakes, rack and pinion steering, increased suspension travel, and telescopic shock absorbers instead of the older lever arm design. The XK140 was introduced in late 1954 and sold as a 1955 model. Exterior changes that distinguished it from the XK120 included more substantial front and rear bumpers with overriders, and flashing turn signals (operated by a switch on the dash) above the front bumper. The grille remained the same size but became a one-piece cast unit with fewer, and broader, vertical bar, making it easy to tell an XK140 apart from an XK120. The Jaguar badge was incorporated into the grille surround. A chrome trim strip ran along the centre of the bonnet and boot lid. An emblem on the boot lid contained the words “Winner Le Mans 1951–3”. The interior was made more comfortable for taller drivers by moving the engine, firewall and dash forward to give 3 inches more legroom. Two 6-volt batteries, one in each front wing were fitted to the Fixed Head Coupe, but Drop Heads and the Open Two Seater had a single 12-volt battery. This was installed in the front wing on the passenger side (e.g. In the left wing on right hand drive cars and in the right wing on left hand drive). The XK140 was powered by the Jaguar XK engine with the Special Equipment modifications from the XK120, which raised the specified power by 10 bhp to 190 bhp gross at 5500 rpm, as standard. The C-Type cylinder head, carried over from the XK120 catalogue, and producing 210 bhp at 5750 rpm, was optional equipment. When fitted with the C-type head, 2-inch sand-cast H8 carburettors, heavier torsion bars and twin exhaust pipes, the car was designated XK140 SE in the UK and XK140 MC in North America. In 1956 the XK140 became the first Jaguar sports car to be offered with automatic transmission. As with the XK120, wire wheels and dual exhausts were options, and most XK140s imported into the United States had wire wheels. Cars with the standard disc wheels had spats over the rear wheel opening. When leaving the factory it originally fitted either 6.00 × 16 inch crossply tyres or you could specify 185VR16 Pirelli Cinturato CA67 as a radial option on either 16 × 5K½ solid wheels or 16 × 5K (special equipment) wire wheels. The Roadster (designated OTS – Open Two Seater – in America) had a light canvas top that folded out of sight behind the seats. The interior was trimmed in leather and leatherette, including the dash. Like the XK120 Roadster, the XK140 version had removable canvas and plastic side curtains on light alloy barchetta-type doors, and a tonneau cover. The door tops and scuttle panel were cut back by two inches compared to the XK120, to allow a more modern positioning of the steering wheel. The angle of the front face of the doors (A-Post) was changed from 45 degrees to 90 degrees, to make access easier. The Drophead Coupé (DHC) had a bulkier lined canvas top that lowered onto the body behind the seats, a fixed windscreen integral with the body (the Roadster’s screen was removable), wind-up side windows, and a small rear seat. It also had a walnut-veneered dashboard and door cappings. The Fixed Head Coupé (FHC) shared the DHC’s interior trim and rear seat. The prototype Fixed Head Coupe retained the XK120 Fixed Head roof-profile, with the front wings and doors the same as the Drophead. In production, the roof was lengthened with the screen being placed further forward, shorter front wings, and longer doors. This resulted in more interior space, and more legroom. The XK140 was replaced by the XK150 in March 1957.
Replacement for the XK models came in 1961 with the E Type, and it stunned the world at its premier at the 1961 Geneva Show. Considered by many to be Sir William Lyons’ greatest achievement, not only did the car have stop-you-in-your-tracks gorgeous styling, but it had explosive performance (even if the 150 mph that was achieved in The Autocar’s Road Test is now known to have been with a little “help”), but it was the price that amazed people more than anything else. Whilst out of reach for most people, who could barely afford any new car, it was massively cheaper than contemporary Aston Martins and Ferraris, its market rivals. It was not perfect, though, and over the coming years, Jaguar made constant improvements. A 2+2 model joined the initial range of Roadster and Coupe, and more powerful and larger engines came when the 3.8 litre was enlarged to 4.2 litres, before more significant styling changes came with the 1967 Series 2 and the 1971 Series 3, where new front end treatments and lights were a consequence of legislative demands of the E Type’s most important market, America.
Successor to the E Type was the XJ-S, launched in September 1975, and to a not universally approving public. This was a very different sort of sporting Jaguar, more boulevard cruiser than sports car, even though the car had plenty of appeal with its smooth V12 engine which gave it genuine 150 mph performance. Press reports were favourable, but a thirsty V12 and a car with inconsistent build quality and styling that not everyone warmed to meant that sales were slow, and they got slower as the decade passed, leading questions to be asked as to whether the car should continue. As well as sorting the saloon models, Jaguar’s Chairman, John Egan, put in place a program to improve the XJ-S as well, which also benefitted from the HE engine in early 1981. A Cabrio model and the option of the new 3.6 litre 6 cylinder engine from 1984 widened the sales appeal, and the volumes of cars being bought started to go up. A fully open Convertible, launched in 1988 was the model many had been waiting for, and by this time, although the design was over 10 years old, it was now brimming with appeal to many. 1991 saw an extensive facelift which changed the styling details as well as incorporating the latest mechanical changes from the Jaguar parts bin, making the XJS (the hyphen had been dropped from the name in 1990) a truly desirable car. Seen here were both pre- and post-facelift models as well as one of the rare TWR-converted XJR-S cars. These were made between 1988 and 1993 by the newly formed JaguarSport, a separate company owned in a ratio of 50:50 by Jaguar and TWR Group Limited specialising in developing high performance Jaguar sports cars. The car had a distinctive body kit, special alloy wheels, a unique suspension system utilising modified coil springs and Bilstein shocks, a luxurious interior with Connolly Autolux leather along with walnut wood trim, and handling improvements. The first 100 of these cars were named “Celebration Le Mans” to commemorate Jaguar’s 1988 win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and were only sold in the UK. Between 1988 and 1989, a total of 326 XJR-S cars were produced with the 5.3 litres engine with a power output of 318 bhp. After September 1989, the displacement of the engine was increased to 5,993 cc and it was now equipped with Zytek fuel injection and engine management system. This was different from the standard 6.0-litre engine used in the late XJS models and was unique to this model. The power output was raised to 334 bhp at 5,250 rpm and 495 Nm (365 lb/ft) of torque at 3,650 rpm due to a higher compression ratio of 11.0:1, a new forgedsteel crankshaft, increased bore and forged alloy pistons. A modified air intake system and a low loss dual exhaust system was also standard on the model. The engine was mated to the 3-speed GM400 automatic transmission utilising a recalibrated valve body and had faster shift times. The car was equipped with Dunlop D40 M2 tyres for better grip. These modifications resulted in a top speed of 260 km/h (160 mph). A total of 787 coupés and 50 convertible XJR-S were built for the world market.
This LG45R dates from 1936. During the 1930s, Lagonda’s business struggled financially and the receiver was called in 1935, but the company was bought by Alan P. Good, who just outbid Rolls-Royce. He also persuaded W. O. Bentley to leave Rolls-Royce and join Lagonda as designer along with many of his racing department staff. The 4.5-litre range now became the LG45 with lower but heavier bodies and also available in LG45R Rapide form. The LG45 came in three versions known as Sanction 1, 2 and 3 each with more Bentley touches to the engine. In 1938 the LG6, with independent front suspension by torsion bar and hydraulic brakes, came in.
The Flaminia, although superficially similar to its illustrious Aurelia predecessor and materially “better” in just about every respect, never managed to capture buyers’ imaginations in the same way when new, and even now, it has to play second fiddle to the older car. The first model in the range was the Berlina, which was launched at the 1957 Geneva Show. It had a Pininfarina styled body which took much inspiration from the Florida concept car that had been shown in the previous year. Much was new under the skin. Its larger 2.5 litre 100 bhp V6 engine was new in detail, and was designed to allow for further increases in capacity, which would come in time. I was smoother than the Aurelia engines and had more torque, and with better cylinder head design and revised cooling, it was more robust, as well. There was synchromesh on all four gears. Lancia’s famous sliding pillar suspension was banished in favour of unequal length wishbones and coil springs which required less maintenance and were more refined. But the car was heavy, and complex, and exceedingly expensive. Lancia thought that their customers would pay a premium for “the best”, but tastes were changing, and the Berlina was never a strong seller, with fewer than 3000 of them being constructed, most of them being the first series cars. Just 549 of the later second series model with 110 bhp and disc brakes were made between 1961 and 1963, hardly surprising when the car cost more than a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, as it did in the UK. The later cars had a 2.8 litre engine and 125 bhp, and just 599 of these were made between 1963 and 1968. There was more success with the coachbuilt two door variants which joined the range. The most successful of these, the Pininfarina Coupe, was the first to appear. This was made between 1959 and 1967, during which time 5284 of these mostly steel-bodied cars were constructed. In many ways they were very like the Berlina, just a bit smaller, though there was a floor mounted gear lever, and the cars had more power. The first 3200 of them had a 119 bhp single carb engine with a sport camshaft. Later 3Bs had a triple choke Solex from 1962 and the power went up to 136 bhp. It was only a year after the Pininfarina car’s debut when Touring of Milan announced their Flaminia models. These aluminium bodied cars were sold in three distinct variants between 1960 and 1965. The single carburettor GT was followed by a Convertible in 1960, both of them uprated to 140 bhp triple Weber 3C spec in 1961. The 2.8 litre 3C took over in 1963 and were supplemented by a new 2+2 version called the GTL, with a taller roofline, front-hinged bonnet, longer doors and more substantial seats. It is the rarest of all Flaminia models, with just 300 made. The styling house to offer a car was Zagato, with their Sports and SuperSports. Only 526 were made and there is a complicated production history which probably shows the sort of chaotic thinking that was going on at Lancia and which would lead to is bankruptcy and take over by Fiat in 1969. The first 99 Sports had faired-in headlights and the 119 bhp engine. From 1960 another 100 cars were built with expose lights until the introduction of the Sport 3C with the 140 bhp triple carb. Zagato made 174 of those in 1962 and 1963, still with the exposed lights. The faired-in lights returned in 1964 on the SuperSport, which also had a Kamm tail, and with DCN Webers this one put out 150 bhp. 150 of these were made between 1964 and 1967. Many of the earlier cars were upgraded early in their life, so if you see one now, you cannot be totally sure of is true origin. Production of the car ceased in 1970, with fewer than 13,000 Flaminia of all types having been built. These days, the cost to restore them properly – and it is a huge job – exceeds the value of most of them, by some margin, as Berlina and Coupe models tend not to sell for more than £30k. The Zagato cars are a different matter, and when they come up for sale, routinely go for over £300k. The Touring cars – considered by most to be the prettiest tend to be around £100k for the GT and another 50 – 80k for a convertible – a long way from the value of an Aston Martin DB4 Volante, which cost roughly the same when new. There’s believed to be only one Berlina on the road in the UK, so that is going to remain a rare sighting, and it was not here. Instead there was a Farina Coupe here to enjoy.
Lancia launched the Delta in 1979, as what we would now think of as a “premium hatch”. Offered in 1300 and 1500cc engines, this car, which collected the prestigious “Car of the year” award a few months later, brought Italian style and an expensive feeling interior to a new and lower price point in the market than Lancia had occupied since the early days of the Fulvia some 15 years earlier. The range grew first when a model was offered using the 4 speed AP automatic transmission and then in late 1982, more powerful models started to appear, with first a 1600cc engine, and then one with fuel injection, before the introduction of the HF Turbo. All these cars kept the same appearance and were quite hard to tell apart. These were the volume models of the range, but now they are very definitely the rare ones, as it is the performance versions which have survived and are now much loved classics, even though relatively were sold when they were new, thanks to a combination of the fact that they were quite costly and that they only ever came with left hand drive. The Integrale evolved over several years, starting off as the HF Turbo 4WD that was launched in April 1986, to homologate a new rally car for Lancia who needed something to fill the void left by the cancellation of Group B from the end of 1986. The Delta HF 4X4 had a four-wheel drive system with an in-built torque-splitting action. Three differentials were used. Drive to the front wheels was linked through a free-floating differential; drive to the rear wheels was transmitted via a 56/44 front/rear torque-splitting Ferguson viscous-coupling-controlled epicyclic central differential. At the rear wheels was a Torsen (torque sensing) rear differential. It divided the torque between the wheels according to the available grip, with a maximum lockup of 70%. The basic suspension layout of the Delta 4WD remained the same as in the rest of the two-wheel drive Delta range: MacPherson strut–type independent suspension with dual-rate dampers and helicoidal springs, with the struts and springs set slightly off-centre. The suspension mounting provided more isolation by incorporating flexible rubber links. Progressive rebound bumpers were adopted, while the damper rates, front and rear toe-in and the relative angle between springs and dampers were all altered. The steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. The car looked little different from the front wheel drive models. In September 1987, Lancia showed a more sophisticated version of the car, the Lancia Delta HF Integrale 8V. This version incorporated some of the features of the Delta HF 4WD into a road car. The engine was an 8-valve 2 litre fuel injected 4-cylinder, with balancing shafts. The HF version featured new valves, valve seats and water pump, larger water and oil radiators, more powerful cooling fan and bigger air cleaner. A larger capacity Garrett T3 turbocharger with improved air flow and bigger inter-cooler, revised settings for the electronic injection/ignition control unit and a knock sensor, boosting power output to 185 bhp at 5300 rpm and maximum torque of 224 lb/ft at 3500 rpm. The HF Integrale had permanent 4-wheel drive, a front transversely mounted engine and five-speed gearbox. An epicyclic centre differential normally split the torque 56 per cent to the front axle, 44 per cent to the rear. A Ferguson viscous coupling balanced the torque split between front and rear axles depending on road conditions and tyre grip. The Torsen rear differential further divided the torque delivered to each rear wheel according to grip available. A shorter final drive ratio (3.111 instead of 2.944 on the HF 4WD) matched the larger 6.5×15 wheels to give 24 mph/1000 rpm in fifth gear. Braking and suspension were uprated to 284 mm ventilated front discs, a larger brake master cylinder and servo, as well as revised front springs, dampers, and front struts. Next update was to change the engine from 8 valves to 16. The 16v Integrale was introduced at the 1989 Geneva Motorshow, and made a winning debut on the 1989 San Remo Rally. It featured a raised centre of the bonnet to accommodate the new 16 valve engine, as well as wider wheels and tyres and new identity badges front and rear. The torque split was changed to 47% front and 53% rear. The turbocharged 2-litre Lancia 16v engine now produced 200 bhp at 5500 rpm, for a maximum speed of 137 mph and 0–100 km/h in 5.5 seconds. Changes included larger injectors, a more responsive Garrett T3 turbocharger, a more efficient intercooler, and the ability to run on unleaded fuel without modification. The first Evoluzione cars were built at the end of 1991 and through 1992. These were to be the final homologation cars for the Lancia Rally Team; the Catalytic Evoluzione II was never rallied by the factory. The Evoluzione I had a wider track front and rear than earlier Deltas. The bodyside arches were extended and became more rounded. The wings were now made in a single pressing. The front strut top mounts were also raised, which necessitated a front strut brace. The new Integrale retained the four wheel drive layout. The engine was modified to produce 210 bhp at 5750 rpm. External changes included: new grilles in the front bumper to improve the air intake for engine compartment cooling; a redesigned bonnet with new lateral air slats to further assist underbonnet ventilation; an adjustable roof spoiler above the tailgate; new five-bolt wheels with the same design of the rally cars; and a new single exhaust pipe. Interior trim was now grey Alcantara on the Recaro seats, as fitted to the earlier 16V cars; leather and air conditioning were offered as options, as well as a leather-covered Momo steering wheel. Presented in June 1993, the second Evolution version of the Delta HF Integrale featured an updated version of the 2-litre 16-valve turbo engine to produce more power, as well as a three-way catalyst and Lambda probe. A Marelli integrated engine control system with an 8 MHz clock frequency which incorporates: timed sequential multipoint injection; self-adapting injection times; automatic idling control; engine protection strategies depending on the temperature of intaken air; Mapped ignition with two double outlet coils; Three-way catalyst and pre-catalyst with lambda probe (oxygen sensor) on the turbine outlet link; anti-evaporation system with air line for canister flushing optimised for the turbo engine; new Garrett turbocharger: water-cooled with boost-drive management i.e. boost controlled by feedback from the central control unit on the basis of revs/throttle angle; Knock control by engine block sensor and new signal handling software for spark park advance, fuel quantity injected, and turbocharging. The engine now developed 215 PS as against 210 PS on the earlier uncatalysed version and marginally more torque. The 1993 Integrale received a cosmetic and functional facelift that included. new 16″ light alloy rims with 205/45 ZR 16 tyres; body colour roof moulding to underline the connection between the roof and the Solar control windows; aluminium fuel cap and air-intake grilles on the front mudguards; red-painted cylinder head; new leather-covered three-spoke MOMO steering wheel; standard Recaro seats upholstered in beige Alcantara with diagonal stitching. In its latter years the Delta HF gave birth to a number of limited and numbered editions, differing mainly in colour, trim and equipment; some were put on general sale, while others were reserved to specific markets, clubs or selected customers.
Among the Land Rover vehicles here were the classic Series 2 and a Range Rover with Carmichael body conversion.
Dating from 1931, this is a 12/40 P Series Tourer. During 1927 Charles Van Eugen convinced the directors of Lea-Francis to allow him to design a completely new chassis assembly. Incorporating semi-elliptic springs front and rear the new chassis was longer and with a wider track than previous models. The trailing end of the springs was mounted in such a way that it slid in bronze trunnions, which were themselves able to rotate in their mounting. When well maintained this arrangement gave the new chassis a good ride quality and comparatively good road-holding for the period. The spur gear differential was gone in favour of a bevel gear version and torque reaction was now taken by the rear springs. The hand brake no longer operated on the transmission but instead through a second set of shoes in each of the rear brake drums. The radiator, while retaining the distinctive shape was taller and higher. A new plate clutch was designed which was eventually fitted to all cars on the new chassis when fitted with a Meadows 4ED engine. This new chassis fitted with the 1.5 litre Meadows 4EC engine was designated the U Type. Fitted with a standard single port Meadows 4ED engine it was designated the P Type and with the twin-port Brooklands version of the Meadows 4ED engine the O Type. This chassis frame would also form the basis for that used on famous Hyper or S Type, the V Type and W Type. Made 3” longer the frame was also used as the basis for the T Type. While the basic specification of theP Type remained more or less the same over the years, many detail changes were made to the design. 38 of the early P Types were fitted with a cone clutch, but after that all but the last few cars were fitted with the Lea-Francis plate clutch – a reliable and effective unit that would prove quite capable of handling the power of a supercharged engine when used in the S Type. The first 500 or so cars were fitted with a scuttle mounted petrol tank feeding a Solex carburettor by gravity. On later cars the petrol tank was moved to the rear, slung between the rear dumb-irons of the chassis and petrol was now fed to the carburettor by way of an Autovac. With the petrol tank now at the rear, the spare wheel had to be relocated and, with a redesign of the front wings, was now mounted on the side of the scuttle. The majority of P Types were fitted with the standard wide-ratio gearbox, although customers could specify the close-ratio variant, as they could the Lea-Francis patent free-wheel. The latter being a unit secured to the rear of the gearbox, operated through a second gear-lever, and which, when engaged, worked with the same principle as the free-wheel on a bicycle. The last few P Types were fitted with a Borg & Beck clutch and the duo-gearbox, which had been designed for use in the Ace of Spades. A wide range of bodies were fitted to the P type. The most common being four seaters by Avon and Cross & Ellis and two seater and dickey bodies by the same builders. Cross & Ellis fitted many of the chassis with saloon bodies with a few also being built by Vulcan. While perhaps the most advertised optional extra on this model was the aforementioned Lea-Francis patented free-wheel, customers could have a car built with all manner of variations from the standard specification. Some P types, for example, left the factory fitted with the twin carburettor 12/50 Brooklands specification engines. This made them more of less identical to an O Type and may explain why so few of the latter were built. The P type, with the standard single-port engine, became deservedly popular, selling almost as well as the J type and surviving in far greater numbers. Approximately 1093 were built of which at least 97 have survived so it has become the most familiar pre-war Lea-Francis.
Best known of the early Lotus models, of course, is the Seven, which was launched in 1957, after the Lotus Eleven was in limited production. The Seven name was left over from a model that was abandoned by Lotus, which would have been a Riley-engined single-seater that Lotus intended to enter into the Formula Two in 1952 or 1953. However, the car was completed around Chapman’s chassis as a sports car by its backers and christened the Clairmonte Special. Based on Chapman’s first series-produced Lotus Mark VI, the Seven was powered by a 40 bhp Ford Side-valve 1,172 cc inline-four engine. It was mainly for lower budget club racing on short tracks. The Lotus Seven S2 followed in 1960 and was supplemented by the Lotus Super Seven S2 from 1961. The Super Seven initially used the larger Cosworth modified 1340cc Ford Classic engine and later examples were fitted with 1498cc or 1599cc engines. The Seven S3 was released in 1968. In 1970, Lotus radically changed the shape of the car to create the slightly more conventional sized Series 4 (S4), with a squarer fibreglass shell replacing most of the aluminium bodywork. It also offered some “luxuries” as standard, such as an internal heater matrix. Between 1970 and 1975, following a representation agreement, Lotus Argentina SA obtained the licence to manufacture the Lotus Seven in Argentina. This production reached approximately 51 units. These vehicles were not replicas, but built under licence and original brand Lotus. Under the Purchase Tax system of the time cars supplied as a kit (known as “completely knocked down” or CKD) did not attract the tax surcharge that would apply if sold in assembled form. Tax rules specified assembly instructions could not be included, but as the rules said nothing about the inclusion of disassembly instructions, they were included instead and all the enthusiast had to do was to follow them in reverse. However, once the UK joined the EEC on 1 January 1973, the VAT system was adopted instead so the tax advantage of the kit-built Lotus Seven came to an end. In 1973, Lotus decided to shed fully its “British tax system”-inspired kit car image and concentrate on limited series motor racing cars. As part of this plan, it sold the rights to the Seven to its only remaining agents Caterham Cars in England and Steel Brothers Limited in New Zealand. Caterham ran out of the Lotus Series 4 kits in the early 70s. When this occurred and in accordance with their agreement with Lotus, Caterham introduced its own brand version of the Series 3. They have been manufacturing the car ever since as the Caterham Seven. Steel Brothers Limited in Christchurch, New Zealand assembled Lotus Seven Series 4s until March 1979 when the last of the 95 kits provided by Lotus was used up. The last Lotus badged Seven, a Series 4, was therefore produced in New Zealand. Steel Brothers attempted to make a wider, modernised version of the Series 4, the “Lotus Super 907”, using the twin cam Lotus 907 engine. In the spring of 1978 it was announced that this was to be sold in the United States – but the American importer had no funds and the project came to naught. The single finished Super 907 was moved from the New Zealand to the US in 2010 to undergo a full restoration. Because of the Seven’s relatively simple design, over 160 companies have offered replicas or Seven-type cars of which Caterham and Westfield are by far the best known.
The original Elan was introduced in 1962 as a roadster, although an optional hardtop was offered in 1963 and a coupé version appeared in 1965, and there were examples of all of these here. The two-seat Lotus Elan replaced the elegant, but unreliable and expensive to produce Lotus Elite. It was the first Lotus road car to use a steel backbone chassis with a fibreglass body. At 1,600 lb (726 kg), the Elan embodied the Colin Chapman minimum weight design philosophy. Initial versions of the Elan were also available as a kit to be assembled by the customer. The Elan was technologically advanced with a DOHC 1557 cc engine, 4-wheel disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, and 4-wheel independent suspension. Gordon Murray, who designed the spectacular McLaren F1 supercar, reportedly said that his only disappointment with the McLaren F1 was that he couldn’t give it the perfect steering of the Lotus Elan. This generation of the two-seater Elan was famously driven by the character Emma Peel on the 1960s British television series The Avengers. The “Lotus TwinCam” engine was based on Ford Kent Pre-Crossflow 4-cylinder 1498 cc engine, with a Harry Mundy-designed 2 valve alloy chain-driven twin-cam head. The rights to this design was later purchased by Ford, who renamed it to “Lotus-Ford Twin Cam”. It would go on to be used in a number of Ford and Lotus production and racing models. Seen here was an example of the Sprint.
There was also a Plus 2 here. Introduced in 1967, the Elan +2 had a longer wheelbase and two rear seats and so was intended for those Lotus customers who needed space to carry (small) people in the back, without sacrificing the same basic principles which made the Elan so appealing. A fast and agile sport coupe, a number of different engines were fitted over the years, with the later models having 130 bhp and a 5 speed gearbox at their disposal, which gave a top speed of 120 mph and 0–60 acceleration of 7.9 seconds and 0-100 mph 21.8 seconds. 5,200 Elans +2 were made, with production ceasing in 1975. Fewer than 1,200 of these cars remain on the roads today. Their relative rarity, beautiful lines, impressive performance and practicality are the main factors for the rising interest on these cars among collectors.
There has only ever been one front wheel drive model with Lotus badges on it, the “M100” Elan sports car. Like many specialist produced cars of the era, there was a long wait for this car form when news first broke that it was under development to the actual release of cars people could buy. The M100 Elan story goes back to 1986 and the purchase of Lotus by General Motors which provided the financial backing to develop a new, small, affordable car in the same spirit as the original Elan, the last of which had been built in December 1972. A development prototype, the M90 (later renamed the X100) had been built a few years earlier, using a fibreglass body designed by Oliver Winterbottom and a Toyota-supplied 1.6-litre engine and transmission. Lotus was hoping to sell the car through Toyota dealerships worldwide, badged as a Lotus Toyota, but the project never came to fruition and the prototype was shelved, although Lotus’s collaboration with Toyota had some influence on the design of the Toyota MR2. The idea of a small roadster powered by an outsourced engine remained, however, and in late 1986 Peter Stevens’s design for the Type M100 was approved and work began by Lotus engineers to turn the clay styling buck into a car that could be built. This process was completed in just under three years, a remarkably short time from design to production car. The M100 Elan was conceived as a mass-market car and in particular one that would appeal to US buyers. Consequently, Lotus put an enormous effort (for such a small firm) into testing the car; over a two-year period 19 crash cars and 42 development vehicles were built, logging nearly a million test miles in locations from Arizona to the Arctic. The Elan was driven at racing speeds for 24 hours around the track at Snetterton. Finally each new car was test-driven for around 30 miles at Lotus’s Hethel factory to check for any manufacturing defects before being shipped to dealers. The choice of front-wheel drive is unusual for a sports car, but according to Lotus sales literature, “for a given vehicle weight, power and tyre size, a front wheel drive car was always faster over a given section of road. There were definite advantages in traction and controllability, and drawbacks such as torque steer, bump steer and steering kickback were not insurmountable.” This was the only front-wheel-drive vehicle made by Lotus. Every model made since the M100 Elan, such as the Lotus Elise, has been rear-wheel drive. The M100 Elan’s cornering performance was undeniable (on release the Elan was described by Autocar magazine as “the quickest point to point car available”). Press reaction was not uniformly positive, as some reviewers found the handling too secure and predictable compared to a rear-wheel-drive car. However, the Elan’s rigid chassis minimised roll through the corners and has led to its description as ‘the finest front wheel drive [car] bar none’. Unlike the naturally aspirated version, the turbocharged SE received power steering as standard, as well as tyres with a higher ZR speed rating. The M100 Elan used a 1,588 cc double overhead camshaft (DOHC) 16-valve engine, sourced from the Isuzu Gemini and extensively modified by Lotus (a third generation of this engine was later used in the Isuzu Impulse), which produced 162 hp. 0–60 acceleration time was measured by Autocar and Motor magazine at 6.5 seconds, and a top speed of 137 mph was recorded. Significant differences in the Isuzu-Lotus engine from the original include a new exhaust system, re-routed intake plumbing for better thermodynamic efficiency, improved engine suspension, and major modifications to the engine control unit to improve torque and boost response. Almost all models featured an IHI turbocharger. Two variants were available at launch, the 130 bhp Elan 1.6 (retailing at £17,850) and the 162 bhp Turbo SE (£19,850). Initial sales were disappointing, perhaps because its launch coincided with a major economic recession in the UK and USA, and perhaps also because it coincided with the cheaper Mazda MX-5 which was arguably similar in concept, though the MX-5 was quite intentionally nostalgic and old fashioned (apeing the original Elan), while the M100 was deliberately futuristic, modern and forward looking. The Elan was regarded as a good product in a bad market, but was also very expensive to make (the cost to design and produce the dashboard alone was more than the total cost of the Excel production line), and sales figures were too low to recoup its huge development costs. Altogether 3,855 Elans were built between November 1989 and July 1992, including 129 normally aspirated (non-turbo) cars. 559 of them were sold in the US, featuring a ‘stage 2 body’ which had a different rear boot spoiler arrangement together with a lengthened nose to accommodate a USA-compliant crash structure and airbag, and 16-inch wheels (optional in most markets, standard in the U.S.) instead of 15-inch as on the UK model. A limited edition of 800 Series 2 (S2) M100 Elans was released during the Romano Artioli era (produced June 1994–September 1995) when it was discovered that enough surplus engines were available to make this possible. According to Autocar magazine, the S2 addressed some of the concerns over handling, but power was reduced to 155 bhp and the 0–60 acceleration time increased to 7.5 seconds, due to the legislative requirement to fit a catalytic converter in all markets. The S2s have very similar performance to the USA vehicles, having an identical engine management system calibration and a slightly lower overall vehicle weight.
Final Lotus I noted was this 2-Eleven, a track-inspired car produced between 2007 and 2011. It is based on the Lotus Exige S, and thus has the same Toyota 2ZZ-GE with VVTL-i, Eaton M62 Roots-type supercharger and intercooled inline-four engine. Weighing 670 kg (1,477 lb), with 252 bhp at 8,000 rpm and 242 Nm (178 lb/ft) at 7,000 rpm of torque, the 2-Eleven can sprint from 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds and has a top speed of 150 mph (241 km/h).Intended as a track day car, it cost £39,995 though for an additional £1,100 Lotus would make the car fully road legal. Slight differences exist between the track and road versions, where the track car is slightly longer, at 3,872 mm (152.4 in) and lighter at 666 kg (1,468 lb).
After producing BiTurbo based cars for 17 years, Maserati replaced their entire range with a new model in July 1998, the 3200 GT. This very elegant 2+2 grand tourer was styled by Italdesign, whose founder and head Giorgetto Giugiaro had previously designed, among others, the Ghibli, Bora and Merak. The interior design was commissioned to Enrico Fumia. Its name honoured the Maserati 3500 GT, the Trident’s first series production grand tourer. Sold mainly in Europe, the 3200 GT was powered by the twin-turbo, 32-valve, dual overhead cam 3.2-litre V8 engine featured in the Quattroporte Evoluzione, set up to develop 370 PS (365 hp). The car was praised for its styling, with the distinctive array of tail-lights, consisting of LEDs, arranged in the shape of boomerang being particularly worthy of comment. The outer layer of the ‘boomerang’ provided the brake light, with the inner layer providing the directional indicator. The car was also reviewed quite well by the press when they got to drive it in early 1999, though it was clear that they expected more power and excitement. That came after 4,795 cars had been produced, in 2001, with the launch of the 4200 models. Officially called the Coupé and joined by an open-topped Spyder (Tipo M138 in Maserati speak), these models had larger 4.2 litre engines and had been engineered so the cars could be sold in America, marking the return to that market for Maserati after an 11 year gap. There were some detailed styling changes, most notable of which were the replacement of the boomerang rear lights with conventional rectangular units. Few felt that this was an improvement. The cars proved popular, though, selling strongly up until 2007 when they were replaced by the next generation of Maserati. Minor changes were made to the model during its six year production, but more significant was the launch at the 2004 Geneva Show of the GranSport which sported aerodynamic body cladding, a chrome mesh grille, carbon fibre interior trim, and special 19-inch wheels. It used the Skyhook active suspension, with a 0.4 inch lower ride height, and the Cambiocorsa transmission recalibrated for quicker shifts. The exhaust was specially tuned to “growl” on start-up and full throttle. The GranSport was powered by the same 4244 cc, 90° V8 petrol engine used on the Coupé and Spyder, but developing 400 PS (395 hp) at 7000 rpm due primarily to a different exhaust system and improvements on the intake manifolds and valve seats. A six-speed paddle shift transmission came as standard. The GranSport has a claimed top speed of 180 mph (290 km/h) and a 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) time of 4.8 seconds.
There was another Ghibli here, so clearly I did get lucky that it was mine selected for the special parking and not this one!
The second generation RX7, also known initially as the Series 4, appeared in 1985. Still known as the Mazda Savanna RX-7 in Japan, the new car featured a complete restyling reminiscent of the Porsche 924. Mazda’s stylists, led by Chief Project Engineer Akio Uchiyama, focused on the Porsche 924 for their inspiration in designing the FC because the new car was being styled primarily for the American market, where the majority of first-generation RX-7s had been sold. This strategy was chosen after Uchiyama and others on the design team spent time in the United States studying owners of earlier RX-7s and other sports cars popular in the American market. The Porsche 944 was selling particularly well at the time and provided clues as to what sports-car enthusiasts might find compelling in future RX-7 styling and equipment. While the SA22/FB was a purer sports car, the FC tended toward the softer sport-tourer trends of its day, sharing some similarities with the HB series Cosmo. Handling was much improved, with less of the oversteer tendencies of the FB. The rear end design was vastly improved from the FB’s live rear axle to a more modern, Independent Rear Suspension (rear axle). Steering was more precise, with rack and pinion steering replacing the old recirculating ball steering of the FB. Disc brakes also became standard, with some models (S4: Sport, GXL, GTU, Turbo II, Convertible; S5: GXL, GTUs, Turbo, Convertible) offering four-piston front brakes. The rear seats were optional in some models of the FC RX-7, but are not commonly found in the American Market. Mazda also introduced Dynamic Tracking Suspension System (DTSS) in the 2nd generation RX-7. The revised independent rear suspension incorporated special toe control hubs which were capable of introducing a limited degree of passive rear steering under cornering loads. The DTSS worked by allowing a slight amount of toe-out under normal driving conditions but induced slight toe-in under heavier cornering loads at around 0.5 Gs or more; toe-out in the rear allows for a more responsive rotation of the rear, but toe-in allowed for a more stable rear under heavier cornering. Mazda also introduced Auto Adjusting Suspension (AAS) in the 2nd generation RX-7. The system changed damping characteristics according to the road and driving conditions. The system compensated for camber changes and provided anti-dive and anti-squat effects. The Turbo 2 uses a turbocharger with a twin scroll design. The smaller primary chamber is engineered to cancel the turbo lag at low engine speeds. At higher revolutions, the secondary chamber is opened, pumping out 33% more power than the naturally aspirated counterpart. The Turbo 2 also has an air-to-air intercooler which has a dedicated intake on the bonnet. The intake is slightly offset toward the left side of the bonnet. Though about 800 lb (363 kg) heavier and more isolated than its predecessor, the FC continued to win accolades from the press. The FC RX-7 was Motor Trend’s Import Car of the Year for 1986, and the Turbo II was on Car and Driver magazine’s 10Best list for a second time in 1987. In the Japanese market, only the turbo engine was available; the naturally-aspirated version was allowed only as an export. This can be attributed to insurance companies in many Western nations penalising turbo cars (thus restricting potential sales). This emphasis on containing horsepower and placating insurance companies to make RX-7’s more affordable seems ironic in retrospect. Shortly after the discontinuance of the second generation RX-7s in 1992, an outright horsepower “arms race” broke out between sports car manufacturers, with higher and higher levels of power required to meet buyer demands. This rising horsepower phenomena arose from the US CAFE standards remaining stable while engine technologies marched forward rapidly. Mazda sold 86,000 RX-7s in the US alone in 1986, its first model year, with sales peaking in 1988. Mazda introduced a convertible version of the RX-7 in 1988 which featured a removable rigid section over the passengers and a folding textile rear section with heatable rear glass window. Power operated, lowering the top required unlatching two header catches, power lowering the top, exiting the car (or reaching over to the right side latch), and folding down the rigid section manually. Mazda introduced with the convertible the first integral windblocker, a rigid panel that folded up from behind the passenger seats to block unwanted drafts from reaching the passengers—thereby extending the driving season for the car in open mode. The convertible also featured optional headrest mounted audio speakers and a folding leather snap-fastened tonneau cover. The convertible assembly was precisely engineered and manufactured, and dropped into the ready body assembly as a complete unit—a first in convertible production. Several car magazines at the time lauded the convertible. Production ceasing in 1991 after Mazda marketed a limited run of 500 example for 1992 for the domestic market only. In Japan, the United Kingdom, and other regions outside the US, a turbocharged version of the convertible was available. Mazda introduced the 10th Anniversary RX-7 in 1988 as a limited production run based on the RX-7 Turbo II. Production was limited to 1,500 models. The 10th Anniversary RX-7 features a Crystal White (paint code UC) monochromatic paint scheme with matching white body side mouldings, taillight housings, mirrors and 16-inch alloy 7-spoke wheels. There were two “series” of 10th Anniversary models, with essentially a VIN-split running production change between the two. The most notable difference between the series can be found on the exterior- the earlier “Series I” cars had a black “Mazda” logo decal on the front bumper cover, whereas most if not all “Series II” cars did not have the decal. Series II cars also received the lower seat cushion height/tilt feature that Series I cars lacked. Another distinctive exterior feature is the bright gold rotor-shaped 10th Anniversary Edition badge on the front wings (yellow-gold on the Series II cars). A distinctive 10th Anniversary package feature is the all black leather interior (code D7), which included not just the seats, but the door panel inserts as well and a leather-wrapped MOMO steering wheel (with 10th Anniversary Edition embossed horn button) and MOMO leather shift knob with integrated boot. All exterior glass is bronze tinted (specific in North America to only the 10th Anniversary), and the windshield was equipped with the embedded secondary antenna also found on some other select models with the upgraded stereo packages. Other 10th Anniversary Edition specific items were headlight washers (the only RX-7 in the US market that got this feature), glass breakage detectors added to the factory alarm system, 10th Anniversary Edition logoed floormats, 10th Anniversary Edition embroidered front hood protector and accompanying front end mask (or “bra”), and an aluminium under pan. A third generation model arrived in 1992.
Produced between May 1955 and February 1963, having first been seen in prototype at the 1954 New York Auto Show, the 190SL was designed as a more affordable sports car than the exclusive and rather pricey 300SL, sharing its basic styling, engineering, detailing, and fully independent suspension. While both cars had double wishbones in front and swing axles at the rear, the 190 SL did not use the 300 SL’s purpose-built W198 tubular spaceframe. Instead, it was built on a shortened monocoque R121 platform modified from the W120 saloon. The 190 SL was powered by a new, slightly oversquare 105 PS Type M121 1.9 litre four cylinder engine. Based on the 300 SL’s straight six, it had an unchanged 85 mm bore and 4.3 mm reduced 83.6 mm stroke, was fitted with twin-choke dual Solex carburettors, and produced 120 gross hp. In detuned form, it was later used in the W120 180 and W121 190 models.
This SLK32 AMG is a member of the R170 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class, the first generation of the Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class range of compact luxury roadsters produced between 1996 and 2004. SLK stands for the company’s design mission to create a sportlich (sporty), leicht (light) and kurz (compact) roadster, and is based on a shortened platform of the W202 Mercedes C-Class. The R170 Mercedes SLK is based on the SLK I Concept and SLK II Concept, which is a two-seater roadster concept car that features a folding metal electro-hydraulic roof, dubbed ‘vario-roof’ by Mercedes, and takes 25 seconds to operate. A German design patent was filed on 30 September 1993, with the final production version of the SLK introduced at the Turin Motor Show on 22 April 1996. The R170 SLK is based on the W202 C-Class platform, sharing many drivetrain and chassis components, as well as using a shortened version of the floor pan. The wheelbase is also identical to the wheelbase of the 190SL and 300SL, at 2,400 mm (94 in). The platform of the R170 Mercedes SLK is also used by the Chrysler Crossfire, which shares 80% of its components with the car. The SLK 32 AMG was introduced in 2001, designed to rival the BMW M Roadster and Porsche Boxster S. The car featured the same M112 engine as in the SLK 320, but has a helical twin-screw supercharger and water-to-air intercooler. The SLK 32 AMG introduced Mercedes’ new ‘SpeedShift’ 5G-Tronic (automatic) transmission, that allow for manual shifting of the gears, and faster automatic downshifts before overtaking. There was no manual transmission option available for the SLK 32 AMG. The SLK 32 AMG features a more angular steering wheel, AMG instrument dials, an updated front and rear bumper with larger air intakes, and larger brakes; from 300 mm (12 in), upgraded to 334 mm (13 in) in diameter. SLK 32 production started from January 2001, to March 2004. A total of 4,333 were produced; 979 were sold in Germany, 2,056 were imported to the US, and 263 to the UK. It was replaced by the Mercedes R171 SLK in 2004.
There was another example of the SLS AMG here.
In 1977 Mercedes-Benz introduced a new van/truck called T1 internally. Other designations were series TN / T1N (“Transporter Neu” / “Transporter 1Neu”) and Bremer Transporter, since the vehicle was built in the Transporter-Plant in Bremen, Germany, first. The TN/T1 was available as a minibus or fitted with a cargo box body or flat cargo bed. A double cab version was offered in the latter two configurations. Three wheel bases were available, with gross weight ratings ranging from 2.55 to 4.6 tonnes. Mercedes-Benz-built gasoline or diesel engines were available as powerplant options for the rear-wheel drive chassis. The best known 4×4 Versions of the Mercedes TN/T1 were made by Iglhaut by adjusting parts of the G-Wagen to the TN/T1-chassis. The TN/T1 van was also used as a campervan conversion, being much larger than the Volkswagen Transporter. Its closest European competitors were the Volkswagen LT and the Ford Transit. In 1995, after 18 years of production, the TN/T1 van series was discontinued, succeeded by the T1N “Sprinter”. The TN/T1 van model series included 207 D, 208, 307 D and 308. They debuted in April 1977. The original line was composed of two engines and four weight classes, as follows: 207 D, 208 – gross weight 2,550 kg (5,622 lb) or 2,800 kg (6,173 lb); 307 D, 308 – gross weight 3,200 kg (7,055 lb) or 3,500 kg (7,716 lb); 207 D, 307 D – four-cylinder Diesel engine with 2404 cc and 65 hp engine OM 616, nearly same engine as in Mercedes-Benz 240D (W123) and 240GD (460); 208, 308 – four-cylinder petrol engine with 2307 cc and 85 hp (63 kW) engine M 115, nearly same engine as in Mercedes-Benz 230 -“Lowcompression-Export-Version”. Market share was almost 90% for the Diesel engine and a little more than 10% for the petrol engine. While the petrol engine was mainly used for ambulances, firetrucks, special vans for cold areas, commercial buyers preferred the Diesel engine for its lower fuel consumption and best reliability. In the UK, originally only diesel engines were on offer, but as the British market was 80 percent petrol at the time sales were less than scintillating. For 1982 petrol models were added, and sales immediately increased by 80 percent. The body styles were panel van, different versions of window vans, pickup and pickup with double cab. Already the power outputs for the 4-cylinder engines were very good, so the 307D was one of the fastest 3,5 ton (GVWR) Diesel-Vans in Europe of the late 1970s. Low gearing also meant that the vans were capable pullers, able to make best use of the power available whilst returning surprisingly good fuel economy for the large size and weight of vehicle. In September 1981 the 407 D, 409 D and 410 were added with a gross weight of 4,600 kg (10,141 lb). The 409 D had a bigger and more powerful diesel engine with five cylinders, 2998 cc and 88 hp. It was the OM 617 engine which was also used in the Mercedes-Benz 300D passenger car and 300GD G-Wagon. Other revisions throughout the production were minor, the OM616 engine having a modified cylinder head and less bore which lowered the capacity from 2404 cc to 2399 cc, but producing slightly more power (72 bhp) and using 5-speed-gearboxes instead of the early 4-speed-versions. In autumn 1988, two new diesel engines – called OM 601/23 and OM 602/29 – were offered, awarded the “Diesel 1989” award. After 18 years of production, 970,000 of the Bremer Transporter were produced. In 1995 the Mercedes-Benz T1N Sprinter was launched, replacing the T1.
Final Mercedes, spotted as I was watching the cars file out of the site was this early G Wagen. Launched in 1979, it took nearly 3 years before the model it to the UK, and it was a utilitarian and very costly vehicle at the time, offered as the 280 GE or 300GD with petrol and diesel engines respectively. Plenty of other engines were on offer for continental European models as were different body styles which included short wheelbase and a canvas roofed model, Gradually more of these came to the UK, though it was only in he 1990s when the image of the model changed from utility to fashion statement and sales started to increase.
The first of the T Series sports cars appeared in 1936, to replace the PB. Visually they were initially quite similar, and as was the way in the 1930s, updates came frequently, so both TA and TB models were produced before global hostilities caused production to cease. Whilst the TC, the first postwar MG and launched in 1945, was quite similar to the pre-war TB, sharing the same 1,250 cc pushrod-OHV engine, it had a slightly higher compression ratio of 7.4:1 giving 54.5 bhp at 5200 rpm. The makers also provided several alternative stages of tuning for “specific purposes”. It was exported to the United States, even though only ever built in right-hand drive. The export version had slightly smaller US specification sealed-beam headlights and larger twin rear lights, as well as turn signals and chrome-plated front and rear bumpers. The body of the TC was approximately 4 inches wider than the TB measured at the rear of the doors to give more cockpit space. The overall car width remained the same resulting in narrower running boards with two tread strips as opposed to the previous three. The tachometer was directly in front of the driver, while the speedometer was on the other side of the dash in front of the passenger. 10,001 TCs were produced, from September 1945 to Nov. 1949, more than any previous MG model. It cost £527 on the home market in 1947.
That car proved particularly popular with Americans who took the majority of production. It was replaced in 1950 by the TD, which combined the TC’s drivetrain, a modified hypoid-geared rear axle, the MG Y-type chassis, a familiar T-type style body and independent suspension using coil springs from the MG Y-type saloon. A 1950 road-test report described as “most striking” the resulting “transformation … in the comfort of riding”. Also lifted from the company’s successful 1¼-litre YA saloon for the TD was the (still highly geared) rack and pinion steering. In addition the TD featured smaller 15-inch disc type road wheels, a left-hand drive option and standard equipment bumpers and over-riders. The car was also 5 inches wider with a track of 50 inches. For the driver the “all-weather protection” was good by the standards of the time. For night driving, instrument illumination was “effective but not dazzling, by a pale green lighting effect”. There was still no fuel gauge, but the 12 gallon tank capacity gave a range between refuelling stops of about 300 miles and a green light on the facia flashed a “warning” when the fuel level was down to about 2½ gallons. In 1950 the TD MkII Competition Model was introduced, produced alongside the standard car, with a more highly tuned engine using an 8.1:1 compression ratio giving 57 bhp at 5,500 rpm. The higher compression ratio engine was offered with export markets in mind, and would not have been suitable for the UK, where thanks to the continued operation of wartime fuel restrictions, buyers were still limited to 72 octane “Pool petrol”. The TD MkII also featured twin fuel pumps, additional Andrex dampers, and a higher ratio rear-axle. Nearly 30,000 TDs had been produced, including about 1700 Mk II models, when the series ended in 1953 with all but 1656 exported, 23,488 of them to the US alone.
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.
The MGA replaced the long running T Series sports cars and presented a complete styling break from MG’s earlier sports cars. Announced on 26 September 1955, the car was officially launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show. A total of 101,081 units were sold through the end of production in July 1962, the vast majority of the 58.750 cars made were exported. Only 5869 cars were sold on the home market, the lowest percentage of any British car. It was replaced by the MGB. The MGA design dates back to 1951, when MG designer Syd Enever created a streamlined body for George Philips’ TD Le Mans car. The problem with this car was the high seating position of the driver because of the limitations of using the TD chassis. A new chassis was designed with the side members further apart and the floor attached to the bottom rather than the top of the frame sections. A prototype was built and shown to the BMC chairman Leonard Lord. He turned down the idea of producing the new car as he had just signed a deal with Donald Healey to produce Austin-Healey cars two weeks before. Falling sales of the traditional MG models caused a change of heart, and the car, initially to be called the UA-series, was brought back. As it was so different from the older MG models it was called the MGA, the “first of a new line” to quote the contemporary advertising. There was also a new engine available, therefore the car did not have the originally intended XPAG unit but was fitted with the BMC corporate B-Series type allowing a lower bonnet line. The MGA convertible had no exterior door handles, however the coupe did. It was a body-on-frame design and used the straight-4 1489cc “B series” engine from the MG Magnette saloon driving the rear wheels through a 4-speed gearbox. Suspension was independent with coil springs and wishbones at the front and a rigid axle with semi-elliptic springs at the rear. Steering was by rack and pinion. The car was available with either wire-spoked or steel-disc road wheels. The 1489 cc engine fitted with twin H4 type SU Carburettors produced 68 hp at first, but was soon uprated to 72 hp. Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes were used on all wheels. A high-performance Twin-Cam model was added for 1958. It used a high-compression (9.9:1 later 8.3:1) DOHC aluminium cylinder head version of the B-Series engine producing 108 hp. Due to detonation problems, a 100 bhp low-compression version was introduced later. Four-wheel disc brakes by Dunlop were fitted, along with Dunlop peg drive knock-off steel wheels similar to wheels used on racing Jaguars, unique to the Twin-Cam and “DeLuxe” MGA 1600 and 1600 MkII roadsters. These wheels and chassis upgrades were used on a small number of the “DeLuxe” models built after Twin-Cam production came to a halt. Aside from the wheels, the only outside identifier was a “Twin-Cam” logo near the vent aside the bonnet. A careful look at the rear wheel vents would also reveal another feature unique to Twin-Cam and DeLuxe: those 4 wheel Dunlop disc brakes . The temperamental engine was notorious for warranty problems during the course of production, and sales dropped quickly. The engine suffered from detonation and burnt oil. Most of the problems with the Twin-Cam engine were rectified with the low-compression version, but by then the damage had been done. Many restored Twin-Cams are running more reliably today than they ever did during production. The Twin-Cam was dropped in 1960 after 2,111 had been produced. Production ended in April 1960, but had slowed to a trickle long before. In May 1959 the standard cars also received an updated engine, now at 1588 cc producing 79.5 bhp . At the front disc brakes were fitted, but drums remained in the rear. Externally the car was very similar to the 1500 with differences including: amber or white (depending on market) front turn indicators shared with white parking lamps, separate stop/tail and turn lamps in the rear, and 1600 badging on the boot and the cowl. 31,501 of these were produced in less than three years. A number of 1600 De Luxe versions were produced with leftover special wheels and four-wheel disc brakes of the departed Twin-Cam, or using complete modified Twincam chassis left redundant by the discontinuance of that model. Seventy roadsters and 12 coupés were built. The engine size was increased again to 1622 cc by increasing the bore from 75.4 mm to 76.2 mm for the 1961 Mark II MGA. The cylinder head was also revised with larger valves and re-engineered combustion chambers. Horsepower increased to 90 bhp. It also had a higher ratio 4:1 rear axle, which made for more relaxed high-speed driving. An inset grille and Morris Mini tail lamps appearing horizontally below the deck lid were the most obvious visual changes. 8,198 Mark II roadsters and 521 coupés were built. As with the 1600 De Luxe, there were also some Mark II De Luxe versions; 290 roadsters and 23 coupés were produced.
As one of Britain’s most popular classic cars, it was no surprise to find several examples of the MGB here, with cars from throughout the model’s long life, both in Roadster and MGB GT guise, as well as one of the short-lived V8 engined cars. Launched in October 1962, this car was produced for the next 18 years and it went on to become Britain’s best selling sports car. When first announced, the MGB was an innovative, modern design, with a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series, though components such as the brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA and the B-Series engine had its origins back in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength, and with a 95hp 3-bearing 1798cc engine under the bonnet, performance was quite respectable with a 0–60 mph time of just over 11 seconds. The car was rather more civilised than its predecessor, with wind-up windows now fitted as standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while being 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. A five-bearing engine was introduced in 1964 and a number of other modifications crept into the specification. In late 1967, sufficient changes were introduced for the factory to define a Mark II model. Alterations included synchromesh on all 4 gears with revised ratios, an optional Borg-Warner automatic gearbox, a new rear axle, and an alternator in place of the dynamo with a change to a negative earth system. To accommodate the new gearboxes there were significant changes to the sheet metal in the floorpan, and a new flat-topped transmission tunnel. US market cars got a new safety padded dashboard, but the steel item continued for the rest of the world. Rostyle wheels were introduced to replace the previous pressed steel versions in 1969 and reclining seats were standardised. 1970 also saw a new front grille, recessed, in black aluminium. The more traditional-looking polished grille returned in 1973 with a black “honeycomb” insert. Further changes in 1972 were to the interior with a new fascia. To meet impact regulations, in late 1974, the chrome bumpers were replaced with new, steel-reinforced black rubber bumpers, the one at the front incorporating the grille area as well, giving a major restyling to the B’s nose, and a matching rear bumper completed the change. New US headlight height regulations also meant that the headlamps were now too low. Rather than redesign the front of the car, British Leyland raised the car’s suspension by 1-inch. This, in combination with the new, far heavier bumpers resulted in significantly poorer handling. For the 1975 model year only, the front anti-roll bar was deleted as a cost-saving measure (though still available as an option). The damage done by the British Leyland response to US legislation was partially alleviated by revisions to the suspension geometry in 1977, when a rear anti-roll bar was made standard equipment on all models. US emissions regulations also reduced horsepower. In March 1979 British Leyland started the production of black painted limited edition MGB roadsters for the US market, meant for a total of 500 examples, but due to a high demand, production ended with 6682 examples. The United Kingdom received bronze painted roadsters and a silver GT model limited editions. The production run of home market limited edition MGBs was split between 421 roadsters and 579 GTs. Meanwhile, the fixed-roof MGB GT had been introduced in October 1965, and production continued until 1980, although export to the US ceased in 1974. The MGB GT sported a ground-breaking greenhouse designed by Pininfarina and launched the sporty “hatchback” style. By combining the sloping rear window with the rear deck lid, the B GT offered the utility of a station wagon while retaining the style and shape of a coupe. This new configuration was a 2+2 design with a right-angled rear bench seat and far more luggage space than in the roadster. Relatively few components differed, although the MGB GT did receive different suspension springs and anti-roll bars and a different windscreen which was more easily and inexpensively serviceable. Although acceleration of the GT was slightly slower than that of the roadster, owing to its increased weight, top speed improved by 5 mph to 105 mph because of better aerodynamics. 523,826 examples of the MGB of all model types were built, and although many of these were initially sold new in North America, a lot have been repatriated here. There were several Roadsters and MGB GT.
Sitting alongside the MGB in the MG range was the smaller Midget, and there were a couple of these cars here, a Series 3 model and one of the later rubber-bumpered cars. The 1961 Midget resurrected the name that was used by MG for their smallest car, the M Type, in the late 20s, was the Midget announced in 1961, and was essentially a slightly more expensive badge-engineered version of the MkII Austin-Healey Sprite. The original ‘Frogeye’ Sprite had been introduced specifically to fill the gap in the market left by the end of production of the MG T-type Midget as its replacement, the MGA had been a significantly larger and more expensive car with greater performance. Many existing MG enthusiast and buyers turned to the Sprite to provide a modern low-cost sports car and so a badge-engineered MG version reusing the Midget name made sense. The new Midget differed from the Sprite only in its grille design, badging, colour options and having both leather seats and more external chrome trim as standard to justify its higher purchase price. Mechanically the car was identical to its Austin-Healey counterpart, retaining the rear suspension using quarter-elliptic leaf springs and trailing arms from the ‘Frogeye’. The engine was initially a 948 cc A-Series with twin SU carburettors producing 46 hp at 5500 rpm and 53 lb/ft at 3000 rpm. Brakes were 7″ drums all round. A hard top, heater, radio and luggage rack were available as factory-fitted extras. In October 1962 the engine was increased to 1098 cc, raising the output to 56 hp at 5500 rpm and 62 lb/ft at 3250 rpm, and disc brakes replaced the drums at the front. Wire spoked wheels became available. The doors had no external handles or locks and the windows were sliding Perspex side-screens. A heater was still an optional extra. The car sold well, with 16,080 of the small-engined version and 9601 of the 1098 being made before the arrival in 1964 of the Mark II. Externally the main changes were to the doors, which gained wind-up windows, swivelling quarter lights, external handles and separate locks. The windscreen also gained a slight curvature and was retained in a more substantial frame. The hood, though modified, continued to have a removable frame that had to be erected before the cover was put on. The rear springs were replaced by more conventional semi-elliptic types which gave a better ride. The engine block was strengthened and larger main bearings were fitted, increasing the power to 59 hp at 5750 rpm and torque to 65 lbf·ft at 3500 rpm. A total of 26,601 were made. 1967 saw the arrival of the Mark III. The engine now grew to 1275 cc using the development seen on the Mini-Cooper ‘S’. Enthusiasts were disappointed that this was a detuned version of the 76-bhp Cooper ‘S’ engine, giving only 65 hp at 6000 rpm and 72 lbf·ft at 3000 rpm. A reduced compression ratio of 8.8:1 was used instead of the 9.75:1 employed on the Cooper S engine. The Midget used the 12G940 cylinder head casting that was common to other BMC 1300 cars, whereas the Cooper ‘S’ had a special head with not only larger inlet, but also larger exhaust valves; however, these exhaust valves caused many ‘S’ heads to fail through cracking between the valve seats. The detuned engine was used for reasons of model range placement – with the Cooper ‘S’ spec engine, the Midget would have been faster than the more expensive MGB. The hydraulic system gained a separate master cylinder for the clutch. The hood was now permanently attached to the car, with an improved mechanism making it much easier to use. Minor facelift changes were made to the body trim in late 1969 with the sills painted black, a revised recessed black grille, and squared off taillights as on the MGB. The 13″ “Rostyle” wheels were standardised, but wire-spoked ones remained an option. The square-shaped rear wheel arches became rounded in January 1972 and later that year a Triumph steering rack was fitted, giving a gearing that was somewhat lower than earlier Midgets. A second exhaust silencer was also added in 1972. Alternators were fitted instead of dynamos from 1973 onwards. Many consider the round-arch Midgets with chrome bumpers produced for model years 1972 and 1974 to be the most desirable. These round-arch cars started leaving the Abingdon factory in late 1971. Between 1966 and the 1969 face lift, 22,415 were made, and a further 77,831 up to 1974.
MG re-entered the sports car market in 1995 with the launch of the MGF Two versions of this mid-engined and affordable rival to the Mazda MX5 were offered: both of which used the 1.8 litre K-Series 16-valve engine. The cheaper of the two put out 118 hp and the more costly VVC model (by dint of its variable valve control) had 143 hp. Rover Special Projects had overseen the development of the F’s design and before finalising the styling bought-in outside contractors to determine the most appropriate mechanical configuration for the new car. Steve Harper of MGA Developments produced the initial design concept in January 1991 (inspired by the Jaguar XJR-15 and the Ferrari 250LM), before Rover’s in house design team refined the concept under the leadership of Gerry McGovern. The MGF used the Hydragas suspension, a system employing interconnected fluid and gas displacers, which gave the car a surprisingly compliant ride and which could be tuned to provide excellent handling characteristics. The MG F quickly shot to the top of the affordable sports car charts in Britain and remained there until the introduction of the MG TF in 2002. The MG F underwent a facelift in Autumn of 1999 which gave the car a revised interior as well as styling tweaks and fresh alloy wheels designs. There was also the introduction of a base 1.6 version and a more powerful 160 hp variant called the Trophy 160, which had a 0-60 mph time of 6.9 seconds. It was only produced for a limited time. An automatic version with a CVT called the Steptronic was also introduced. A comprehensive update in 2002 resulted in the MG TF, named after the MG TF Midget of the 1950s. Based upon the MG F platform but heavily redesigned and re-engineered, the most significant mechanical changes were the abandonment of Hydragas suspension in favour of conventional coil springs, the new design of the air-induction system that along with new camshafts produces more power than in MG F engines, and the torsional stiffness of the body increased by 20%. Various cosmetic changes included a revised grille, redesigned front headlights, bumpers, side air-intake grills and changes to the rear boot,. The car continued to sell well. Production was suspended when MG-Rover went out of business, but resumed again in 2007 when Nanjing built a number more.
The Mini was the model that refused to die, with sales continuing after the launch of the Metro in 1980, and gathering momentum again in the 1990s, thanks in no small part to interest from Japan and because Rover Group decided to produce some more Cooper models. The first series of Cooper cars had been discontinued in 1971, replaced by the cheaper to build 1275GT, but when a limited edition model was produced in 1990, complete with full endorsement from John Cooper, the model was a sell out almost overnight, which prompted the decision to make it a permanent addition to the range. A number of refinements were made during the 90s, with fuel injection adding more power, a front mounted radiator and more sound deadening making the car quieter and new seats adding more comfort and a new dash making the car look less spartan inside.
There was also an example of the Moke here. Designed by Sir Alec Issigonis and John Sheppard, the Mini Moke is noted for its simple, straightforward, doorless design, and its adaptability. Originally prototyped as a lightweight military vehicle using the engine, transmission and suspension parts from the Mini van, the design’s small wheels and low ground clearance made it unsuitable as an off road military vehicle. The design was subsequently offered in civilian form as a low-cost, easily maintained vehicle, achieving global popularity as a lightweight, recreational and utility vehicle. The first Mokes were manufactured at BMC’s Longbridge, Birmingham plant, with 14,518 produced in the UK between 1964 and 1968. 26,000 were manufactured in Australia between 1966 and 1981, and 10,000 in Portugal between 1980 and 1993 when production ended.
The Morgan Owners Club had a huge presence here – perhaps not surprising given the proximity of the venue to the marque’s base in nearby Malvern Link. There were examples of most of the body styles that have ever been produced, with the “classic” shape of the Plus 4 and Plus 8 the most prevalent, but earlier Flat radiator cars, and the more recent Aero models were also here. as well as the latest wide-bodied Plus 8 and a number of Three Wheelers, both the original cars and the recent and popular addition to the range.
No surprise to see the evergreen Morris Minor here as this is a very popular classic. The Minor was conceived in 1941. Although the Nuffield Organization was heavily involved in war work and there was a governmental ban on civilian car production, Morris Motors’ vice chairman, Miles Thomas, wanted to prepare the ground for new products to be launched as soon as the war was over. Vic Oak, the company’s chief engineer, had already brought to Thomas’ attention a promising junior engineer, Alec Issigonis, who had been employed at Morris since 1935 and specialised in suspension design but he had frequently impressed Oak with his advanced ideas about car design in general. Issigonis had come to Oak’s particular attention with his work on the new Morris Ten, which was in development during 1936/7. This was the first Morris to use unitary construction and was conceived with independent front suspension. Issigonis designed a coil-sprung wishbone system which was later dropped on cost grounds. Although the design would later be used on the MG Y-type and many other post-war MGs the Morris Ten entered production with a front beam axle. Despite his brief being to focus on the Ten’s suspension Issigonis had also drawn up a rack and pinion steering system for the car. Like his suspension design this was not adopted but would resurface in the post-war years on the MG Y-type, but these ideas proved that he was the perfect candidate to lead the design work on a new advanced small car. With virtually all resources required for the war effort, Thomas nonetheless approved the development of a new small family car that would replace the Morris Eight. Although Oak (and Morris’ technical director, Sidney Smith) were in overall charge of the project it was Issigonis who was ultimately responsible for the design, working with only two other draughtsmen. Thomas named the project ‘Mosquito’ and ensured that it remained as secret as possible, both from the Ministry of Supply and from company founder William Morris (now Lord Nuffield), who was still chairman of Morris Motors and, it was widely expected, would not look favourably on Issigonis’ radical ideas. Issigonis’ overall concept was to produce a practical, economical and affordable car for the general public that would equal, if not surpass, the convenience and design quality of a more expensive car. In later years he summed up his approach to the Minor; that he wanted to design an economy car that “the average man would take pleasure in owning, rather than feeling of it as something he’d been sentenced to” and “people who drive small cars are the same size as those who drive large cars and they should not be expected to put up with claustrophobic interiors.” Issigonis wanted the car to be as spacious as possible for its size and comfortable to drive for inexperienced motorists. Just as he would with the Mini ten years later, he designed the Mosquito with excellent roadholding and accurate, quick steering not with any pretence of making a sports car, but to make it safe and easy to drive by all. As work proceeded, there were plenty of battle to overcome, to get Issigonis’ ideas approved, and not all of them were. The production car, called the Minor was launched at the British Motor Show at Earls Court in London on October 27, 1948. At the same show Morris also launched the new Morris Oxford and Morris Six models, plus Wolseley variants of both cars, which were scaled-up versions of the new Minor, incorporating all the same features and designed with Issigonis’ input under Vic Oak’s supervision. Thus Issigonis’ ideas and design principles underpinned the complete post-war Morris and Wolseley car ranges. The original Minor MM series was produced from 1948 until 1953. It included a pair of four-seat saloons, two-door and (from 1950) a four-door, and a convertible four-seat Tourer. The front torsion bar suspension was shared with the larger Morris Oxford MO, as was the almost-unibody construction. Although the Minor was originally designed to accept a flat-4 engine, late in the development stage it was replaced by a 918 cc side-valve inline-four engine, little changed from that fitted in the 1935 Morris 8, and producing 27.5 hp and 39 lbf·ft of torque. This little engine pushed the Minor to just 64 mph but delivered 40 mpg. Brakes were four-wheel drums. Early cars had a painted section in the centre of the bumpers to cover the widening of the production car from the prototypes. This widening of 4 inches is also visible in the creases in the bonnet. Exports to the United States began in 1949 with the headlamps removed from within the grille surround to be mounted higher on the wings to meet local safety requirements. In 1950 a four-door version was released, initially available only for export, and featuring from the start the headlamps faired into the wings rather than set lower down on either side of the grille. The raised headlight position became standard on all Minors in time for 1951. From the start, the Minor had semaphore-type turn indicators, and subsequent Minor versions persisted with these until 1961 An Autocar magazine road test in 1950 reported that these were “not of the usual self-cancelling type, but incorporate[d] a time-basis return mechanism in a switch below the facia, in front of the driver”. It was all too easy for a passenger hurriedly emerging from the front passenger seat to collide with and snap off a tardy indicator “flipper” that was still sticking out of the B-pillar, having not yet been safely returned by the time-basis return mechanism to its folded position. Another innovation towards the end of 1950 was a water pump (replacing a gravity dependent system), which permitted the manufacturer to offer an interior heater “as optional equipment”. When production of the first series ended, just over a quarter of a million had been sold, 30 per cent of them the convertible Tourer model. In 1952, the Minor line was updated with an Austin-designed 803 cc overhead valve A-series engine, replacing the original side-valve unit. The engine had been designed for the Minor’s main competition, the Austin A30, but became available as Austin and Morris were merged into the British Motor Corporation. The new engine felt stronger, though all measurements were smaller than the old. The 52 second drive to 60 mph was still calm, with 63 mph as the top speed. Fuel consumption also rose to 36 mpg. An estate version was introduced in 1952, known as the Traveller (a Morris naming tradition for estates, also seen on the Mini). The Traveller featured an external structural ash (wood) frame for the rear bodywork, with two side-hinged rear doors. The frame was varnished rather than painted and a highly visible feature of the body style. Commercial models, marketed as the Morris Quarter Ton Van and Pick-up were added in May 1953. Rear bodies of the van versions were all steel. The 4-seat convertible and saloon variants continued as well. The car was again updated in 1956 when the engine was increased in capacity to 948 cc. The two-piece split windscreen was replaced with a curved one-piece one and the rear window was enlarged. In 1961 the semaphore-style trafficators were replaced by the flashing direction indicators, these were US-style red at the rear (using the same bulb filament as the brake lamp) and white at the front (using a second brighter filament in the parking lamp bulb) which was legal in the UK and many export markets at the time (such as New Zealand). An upmarket car based on the Minor floorpan using the larger BMC B-Series engine was sold as the Riley One-Point-Five/Wolseley 1500 beginning in 1957: versions of this Wolseley/Riley variant were also produced by BMC Australia as the Morris Major and the Austin Lancer. In December 1960 the Morris Minor became the first British car to sell more than 1,000,000 units. To commemorate the achievement, a limited edition of 350 two-door Minor saloons (one for each UK Morris dealership) was produced with distinctive lilac paintwork and a white interior. Also the badge name on the side of the bonnet was modified to read “Minor 1,000,000” instead of the standard “Minor 1000”. The millionth Minor was donated to the National Union of Journalists, who planned to use it as a prize in a competition in aid of the union’s Widow and Orphan Fund. The company, at the same time, presented a celebratory Minor to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, but this car was constructed of cake.The final major upgrades to the Minor were made in 1962. Although the name Minor 1000 was retained, the changes were sufficient for the new model to be given its own ADO development number. A larger version of the existing A-Series engine had been developed in conjunction with cylinder head specialist Harry Weslake for the then new ADO16 Austin/Morris 1100 range. This new engine used a taller block than did the 948 cc unit, with increased bore and stroke bringing total capacity up to 1,098 cc. Although fuel consumption suffered moderately at 38 mpg, the Minor’s top speed increased to 77 mph with noticeable improvements in low-end torque, giving an altogether more responsive drive. Other changes included a modified dashboard layout with toggle switches, textured steel instrument binnacle, and larger convex glove box covers. A different heater completed the interior upgrade, whilst the larger combined front side/indicator light units, common to many BMC vehicles of the time, were fitted to the front wings. These now included a separate bulb and amber lens for indicators while larger tail lamp units also included amber rear flashers. During the life of the Minor 1000 model, production declined. The last Convertible/Tourer was manufactured on 18 August 1969, and the saloon models were discontinued the following year. Production of the more practical Traveller and commercial versions ceased in 1972, although examples of all models were still theoretically available from dealers with a surplus of unsold cars for a short time afterwards. 1,619,857 Minors of all variants were ultimately sold.
There were a number of classic Bikes in the parking area, too.
Once a common sight, as these cars were tough, this is a Bluebird, the first model type that was made by Nissan in the UK. The T12 was introduced in Europe in 1985 as a replacement for the U11 Bluebird. From July 1986, the T12 was assembled from parts shipped in from Japan, at Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK. The saloon versions (four door) were available first and the hatchback (five door) became available in January 1987. Using the U11 platform, Bluebird Estates were still sourced from Japan. Although it was not the first Japanese car to be built in Britain (the Honda-based Triumph Acclaim predated it by five years), the Bluebird was instrumental in proving that a British factory could produce vehicles to the same quality standards as those built in Japan. The Bluebird proved so popular that in December 1987 Nissan announced the institution of a third shift, in order to bump production from 29,000 to circa 40,000 cars annually. Being built in the United Kingdom, it was possible to sell the Bluebird in markets like Spain and Italy without the quota limitations imposed on Japanese-made cars. In Italy it was the only Nissan available in 1989, alongside the Spanish-made Patrol off-roader. The later T72 models replaced the T12 during 1987, followed by a facelift around a year later. This is a point to note, as it is a common mistake to class all pre-facelift models as T12s. The facelift models had a more modern and European look, with round front and rear bumpers and the corporate slatted grill. These were eventually built entirely in England. In 1990, Nissan replaced the Bluebird with the Primera series. In the late 1980s and early 90s, Nissan Bluebirds were very commonly seen as taxis, their drivers racking up phenomenal mileage on just routine servicing and there is one still in daily use as a taxi in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands. The bodyshell’s resistance to corrosion has become legendary – it is not uncommon to see Bluebirds as old as 1987 or 1988 vintage still on British roads with virtually no trace of rust at all. However, the Bluebirds’ reliability and all-around robustness has ultimately led to its demise – as a banger racers’ car of choice. Almost all petrol T12/T72 Bluebirds came with 8-valve versions of Nissan’s CA Engine and either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. The diesel models used the normally aspirated LD20 engine. Performance was average for its class, the 1.6 struggling more with its lower torque characteristics that did not seem suited to the weight of the car. The turbo models used the CA18ET engine with 133 bhp giving a 0 – 60 mph of 8.6 seconds. This engine used a small turbocharger producing 0.60 bar of boost. This is the same engine used in the European Nissan Silvia S12. Power outputs for the naturally aspirated engines ranged from 83 to 114 bhp) from the 1.6 through the 2.0-litre version, while the diesel offered 66 bhp. The car was replaced by the Primera in the autumn of 1990.
A largely forgotten marque these days, Panther Westwinds of Byfleet in Surrey built a series of pastiche models in the 1970s, starting with the Jaguar SS100 inspired J72 that was launched in 1972. After heading upmarket still further with the DeVille and then producing the amazing 6 wheeled Six, which never got beyond a couple of cars, a model with greater volume prospects arrived in 1977. Called Lima, it used Vauxhall mechanicals under its glassfibre body which echoed the styling of British sports cars from the 1930s and 1940s, 897 units were made before it was updated and renamed in 1982 as the similar looking Kallista. This car had an aluminium body and used Ford mechanicals, including a range of engines from a 1.6 litre 4 cylinder to the 2,8 Essex and later 2.9 litre Cologne V6 units. There was a small but steady market for the car, and it would be produced throughout the 1980s, and it was only when Panther over-reached itself with the ambitious Solo that the company collapsed. Korean giant Ssangyong bought what remained and produced a badge engineered version in 1992 called the SsangYong Kallista. Only 78 of the SsangYong models were ever built.
Pontiac introduced the Firebird in 1967, at the same time as the Chevrolet Camaro, a car whose underpinnings it shared. Although the bodystyles of the two cars were different in detail, the relationship remained obvious through the four generations of the two models, and the pair would evolve in parallel, as direct rivals to Ford’s Mustang, the car from which they took their inspiration. The first generation Firebirds had a characteristic Coke bottle styling. Unlike its cousin the Chevrolet Camaro, the Firebird’s bumpers were integrated into the design of the front end. The Firebird’s rear “slit” taillights were inspired by the Pontiac GTO. Both a two-door hardtop and a convertible were offered through the 1969 model year. Originally, the car was a “consolation prize” for Pontiac, who had wished to produce a two-seat sports car of its own design, based on the original Banshee concept car. However, GM feared such a vehicle would directly compete with Chevrolet’s Corvette, and the decision was made to give Pontiac a piece of the pony car market by having them share the F-body platform with Chevrolet. The base model Firebird came equipped with the OHC inline-6 and a single-barrel carburettor. The next model, the Sprint, had a four-barrel carburettor, developing 215 hp Most buyers opted for one of the V8 engines: the 326 CID (5.3 litre) with a two-barrel carburettor producing 250 hp; the “H.O.” (High Output) engine of the same displacement, but with a four-barrel carburettor and producing 285 hp; or the 400 CID (6.6 litre) from the GTO with 325 hp. A “Ram Air” option was also available in 1968, providing functional hood scoops, higher flow heads with stronger valve springs, and a different camshaft. Power for the Ram Air package was the same as the conventional 400 H.O., but the engine peaked at a higher RPM. The 230 CID (3.8 litre) engines were subsequently replaced by 250 CID (4.1 litre) engines, the first developing 175 hp using a single-barrel carburettor, and the other 215 hp with a four-barrel carburettor. Also for the 1968 model, the 326 CID (5.3 litre) engine was replaced by one with a displacement of 350 cubic inches (5.7 litre). An “H.O.” version of the 350 CID with a revised cam was also offered starting in that year, which developed 320 hp. Power output of the other engines was increased marginally. In 1969, a $725 optional handling package called the “Trans Am Performance and Appearance Package,”, named after the Trans Am Series, which included a rear spoiler, was introduced. Of these first “Trans Ams,” only 689 hardtops and eight convertibles were made. There was an additional Ram Air IV option for the 400 CID engine during that year, complementing the Ram Air III; these generated 345 and 335 hp respectively. The 350 “H.O.” engine was revised again with a different cam and cylinder heads resulting in 330 hp. During 1969 a special 303 cu in (5.0 litre) engine was designed for SCCA road racing applications that was not available in production cars. The styling difference from the 1967 to the 1968 model was the addition of Federally-mandated side marker lights: for the front of the car, the turn signals were made larger and extended to wrap around the front edges of the car, and on the rear, the Pontiac (V-shaped) Arrowhead logo was added to each side. The front door vent-windows were replaced with a single pane of glass. The 1969 model received a major facelift with a new front end design but unlike its big brother the GTO, it did not have the Endura bumper. The instrument panel and steering wheel were revised. The ignition switch was moved from the dashboard to the steering column with the introduction of GM’s new locking ignition switch/steering wheel. Due to engineering problems that delayed the introduction of the all-new 1970 Firebird beyond the usual autumn debut, Pontiac continued production of 1969 model Firebirds into the early months of the 1970 model year.
The 356 was created by Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche (son of Dr. Ing. Ferdinand Porsche, founder of the German company), who founded the Austrian company with his sister, Louise. Like its cousin, the Volkswagen Beetle (which Ferdinand Porsche Senior had designed), the 356 was a four-cylinder, air-cooled, rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive car utilising unitised pan and body construction. The chassis was a completely new design as was the 356’s body which was designed by Porsche employee Erwin Komenda, while certain mechanical components including the engine case and some suspension components were based on and initially sourced from Volkswagen. Ferry Porsche described the thinking behind the development of the 356 in an interview with the editor of Panorama, the PCA magazine, in September 1972. “….I had always driven very speedy cars. I had an Alfa Romeo, also a BMW and others. ….By the end of the war I had a Volkswagen Cabriolet with a supercharged engine and that was the basic idea. I saw that if you had enough power in a small car it is nicer to drive than if you have a big car which is also overpowered. And it is more fun. On this basic idea we started the first Porsche prototype. To make the car lighter, to have an engine with more horsepower…that was the first two seater that we built in Carinthia (Gmünd)”. The first 356 was road certified in Austria on June 8, 1948, and was entered in a race in Innsbruck where it won its class. Porsche re-engineered and refined the car with a focus on performance. Fewer and fewer parts were shared between Volkswagen and Porsche as the ’50’s progressed. The early 356 automobile bodies produced at Gmünd were handcrafted in aluminium, but when production moved to Zuffenhausen, Germany in 1950, models produced there were steel-bodied. Looking back, the aluminium bodied cars from that very small company are what we now would refer to as prototypes. Porsche contracted with Reutter to build the steel bodies and eventually bought the Reutter company in 1963. The Reutter company retained the seat manufacturing part of the business and changed its name to Recaro. Little noticed at its inception, mostly by a small number of auto racing enthusiasts, the first 356s sold primarily in Austria and Germany. It took Porsche two years, starting with the first prototype in 1948, to manufacture the first 50 automobiles. By the early 1950s the 356 had gained some renown among enthusiasts on both sides of the Atlantic for its aerodynamics, handling, and excellent build quality. The class win at Le Mans in 1951 was clearly a factor. It was always common for owners to race the car as well as drive them on the streets. They introduced the four-cam racing “Carrera” engine, a totally new design and unique to Porsche sports cars, in late 1954. Increasing success with its racing and road cars brought Porsche orders for over 10,000 units in 1964, and by the time 356 production ended in 1965 approximately 76,000 had been produced. The 356 was built in four distinct series, the original (“pre-A”), followed by the 356 A, 356 B, and then finally the 356 C. To distinguish among the major revisions of the model, 356’s are generally classified into a few major groups. 356 coupés and “cabriolets” (soft-top) built through 1955 are readily identifiable by their split (1948 to 1952) or bent (centre-creased, 1953 to 1955) windscreens. In late 1955 the 356 A appeared, with a curved windshield. The A was the first road going Porsche to offer the Carrera 4 cam engine as an option. In late 1959 the T5 356 B appeared; followed by the redesigned T6 series 356 B in 1962. The final version was the 356 C, little changed from the late T6 B cars but with disc brakes to replace the drums.
Inspired by the Porsche 356 which was created by Ferry Porsche, as well as spyder prototypes built and raced by Walter Glöckler starting in 1951, the factory decided to build a car designed for use in auto racing. The Porsche 550 Spyder was introduced at the 1953 Paris Auto Show. The 550 was very low to the ground, in order to be efficient for racing. In fact, former German Formula One racer Hans Herrmann drove it under closed railroad crossing gates during the 1954 Mille Miglia. The Type 550/550 A is powered by an all aluminium 1,498 cc naturally aspirated air-cooled 4 cylinder boxer engine known as the “Fuhrmann Engine” (Type 547). Its valvetrain uses double overhead camshafts on each cylinder bank, driven by vertical shafts, actuating 2 valves per cylinder. The engine is equipped with twin 2-barrel Solex PJJ Carburettors and dual ignition with two separate ignition manifolds and two ignition coils as well as two double fall gasifiers. In its first version produced 110 PS (108 hp) at 6200 rpm and a maximum torque of 121 Nm (89 lb/ft) at 5000 rpm. The engine of the 550 is mounted in front of the rear axle making it mid-engined. This gives it a more balanced weight distribution, and allows for largely neutral handling. On the other hand, the low mass moment of inertia about the vehicle’s vertical axis can lead to a sudden, difficult to control rotation of the car. Ferdinand Porsche had pioneered this design layout with the Auto Union Grand Prix car of the 1930s. The first 550 had a fully synchronized 4-speed gearbox. Starting in 1956, a five-speed gearbox was used, but its first gear only had to start and (like the reverse gear) had to be placed over a barrier and not synchronized. Excessive slip to the drive wheels in corners was prevented by a limited slip differential. Between 1953 and 1956. only 90 Porsche 550s were produced, but it quickly established dominance in the 1.1- and 1.5- litre classes. The Porsche 550 is a mid-engine car with an air-cooled four-cylinder engine, following the precedent of the 1948 Porsche 356/1 prototype designed by Ferry Porsche. The mid-engine racing design was further developed with Porsche’s 718 model; its advantages led to it becoming the dominant design for top-level racing cars by the mid-1960s. The Porsche 550 has a solid racing history; the first race it entered, the Nurburgring Eifel Race in May 1953, it won. The 550 Spyder would usually finish top 3 in its class. Each Spyder was designed and customised to be raced. The 550 is among the most frequently reproduced classic automobiles. Several companies have sprung up in the last 25 years that offer kit and turnkey cars. This is a replica 550RS Spyder.
There were of course lots of 911s here, from every generation starting with the early cars of the 60s, through the evolution of the same basic shape in the 70s and 80s to the new generation cars that have followed every few years thereafter, with the 993 and 996 particularly well represented.
There were a number of the front engined cars here, too, starting with the 924, in standard and Turbo guises, as well as one of the rare Carrera GT cars. The 924 was originally another joint project of Volkswagen and Porsche created by the Vertriebsgesellschaft (VG), the joint sales and marketing company funded by Porsche and VW to market and sell sports cars, For Volkswagen, it was intended to be that company’s flagship coupé sports car and was dubbed “Project 425” during its development. For Porsche, it was to be its entry-level sports car replacing the 914. At the time, Volkswagen lacked a significant internal research and design division for developing sports cars; further, Porsche had been doing the bulk of the company’s development work anyway, per a deal that went back to the 1940s. In keeping with this history, Porsche was contracted to develop a new sporting vehicle with the caveat that this vehicle must work with an existing VW/Audi inline-four engine. Porsche chose a rear-wheel drive layout and a rear-mounted transaxle for the design to help provide 48/52 front/rear weight distribution; this slight rear weight bias aided both traction and brake balance. The 1973 oil crisis, a series of automobile-related regulatory changes enacted during the 1970s and a change of directors at Volkswagen made the case for a Volkswagen sports car less striking and the 425 project was put on hold. After serious deliberation at VW, the project was scrapped entirely after a decision was made to move forward with the cheaper, more practical, Golf-based Scirocco model instead. Porsche, which needed a model to replace the 914, made a deal with Volkswagen leadership to buy the design back. The deal specified that the car would be built at the ex-NSU factory in Neckarsulm located north of the Porsche headquarters in Stuttgart, Volkswagen becoming the subcontractor. Hence, Volkswagen employees would do the actual production line work (supervised by Porsche’s own production specialists) and that Porsche would own the design. It became one of Porsche’s best-selling models, and the relative cheapness of building the car made it both profitable and fairly easy for Porsche to finance. The original design used an Audi-sourced four-speed manual transmission from a front wheel drive car but now placed and used as a rear transaxle. It was mated to VW’s EA831 2.0 litre 4 cylinder engine, subsequently used in the Audi 100 and the Volkswagen LT van (common belief is that ‘the engine originated in the LT van’, but it first appeared in the Audi car and in 924 form has a Porsche-designed cylinder head). The 924 engine used Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, producing 125 bhp in European cars, but a rather paltry 95 bhp for the US market models, though this was improved to 110 hp in mid-1977 with the introduction of a catalytic converter, which reduced the need for power-robbing smog equipment. The four-speed manual was the only transmission available for the initial 1976 model, later this was replaced by a five-speed dog-leg unit. An Audi three-speed automatic was offered starting with the 1977.5 model. In 1980 the five-speed transmission was changed to a conventional H-pattern, with reverse now on the right beneath fifth gear. Porsche made small improvements to the 924 each model year between 1977 and 1985, but nothing major was changed on non-turbo cars. Porsche soon recognised the need for a higher-performance version of the 924 that could bridge the gap between the basic 924s and the 911s. Having already found the benefits of turbochargers on several race cars and the 1975 911 turbo, Porsche chose to use this technology for the 924, eventually introducing the 924 turbo as a 1978 model. Porsche started with the same Audi-sourced VW EA831 2.0 litre engine, designed an all new cylinder head (which was hand assembled at Stuttgart), dropped the compression to 7.5:1 and engineered a KKK K-26 turbocharger for it. With 10 psi boost, output increased to 170 hp. The 924 turbo’s engine assembly weighed about 65 lb more, so front spring rates and anti-roll bars were revised. Weight distribution was now 49/51 compared to the original 924 figure of 48/52 front to rear. In order to help make the car more functional, as well as to distinguish it from the naturally aspirated version, Porsche added an NACA duct in the bonnet and air intakes in the badge panel in the nose, 15-inch spoke-style alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with five-stud hubs and a five-speed transmission. Forged 16-inch flat wheels of the style used on the 928 were optional, but fitment specification was that of the 911 which the 924 shared wheel offsets with. Internally, Porsche called it the “931” (left hand drive) and “932” (right hand drive). The turbocharged VW EA831 engine allowed the 924’s performance to come surprisingly close to that of the 911 SC (180 bhp), thanks in part to a lighter curb weight, but it also brought reliability problems.This was in part due to the fact that the general public did not know how to operate, or care for, what is by today’s standards a primitive turbo setup. A turbocharger cooled only by engine oil led to short component life and turbo-related seal and seat problems. To fix the problems, Porsche released a revised 924 turbo series 2 (although badging still read “924 turbo”) in 1979. By using a smaller turbocharger running at increased boost, slightly higher compression of 8:1 and an improved fuel injection system with DITC ignition triggered by the flywheel, reliability improved and power rose to 177 hp. In 1984, VW decided to stop manufacturing the engine blocks used in the 2.0 litre 924, leaving Porsche with a predicament. The 924 was considerably cheaper than its 944 stablemate, and dropping the model left Porsche without an affordable entry-level option. The decision was made to equip the narrower bodied 924 with a slightly detuned version of the 944’s 163 bhp 2.5 litre straight four, upgrading the suspension but retaining the 924’s early interior. The result was 1986’s 150 bhp 924S. In 1988, the 924S’ final year of production, power increased to 160 bhp matching that of the previous year’s Le Mans spec cars and the base model 944, itself detuned by 3 bhp. This was achieved using different pistons which raised the S’ compression ratio from 9.7:1 to 10.2:1, the knock-on effect being an increase in the octane rating, up from 91 RON to 95. This made the 924S slightly faster than the base 944 due to its lighter weight and more aerodynamic body. With unfavourable exchange rates in the late 1980s, Porsche decided to focus its efforts on its more upmarket models, dropping the 924S for 1989 and the base 944 later that same year.
There were also several examples of the car’s sort of successor, sort of stablemate, the 944. Whilst its precursor, the 924, had received largely positive reviews, it was criticised by many including Porsche enthusiasts for its Audi-sourced engine and although the Turbo model had increased performance, this model carried a high price, which caused Porsche to decide to develop the 924, as they had with generations of the 911. They re-worked the platform and a new all-alloy 2.5 litre inline-four engine, that was, in essence, half of the 928’s 5.0 litre V8, although very few parts were actually interchangeable. Not typical in luxury sports cars, the four-cylinder engine was chosen for fuel efficiency and size, because it had to be fitted from below on the Neckarsulm production line. To overcome roughness caused by the unbalanced secondary forces that are typical of four-cylinder engines, Porsche included two counter-rotating balance shafts running at twice engine speed. Invented in 1904 by British engineer Frederick Lanchester, and further developed and patented in 1975 by Mitsubishi Motors, balance shafts carry eccentric weights which produce inertial forces that balance out the unbalanced secondary forces, making a four-cylinder engine feel as smooth as a six-cylinder. The engine was factory-rated at 150 hp in its U.S. configuration. Revised bodywork with wider wheel arches, similar to that of the 924 Carrera GT, a fresh interior and upgrades to the braking and suspension systems rounded out the major changes and Porsche introduced the car as the 944 in 1982. It was slightly faster (despite having a poorer drag co-efficient than the 924), the 944 was better equipped and more refined than the 924; it had better handling and stopping power, and was more comfortable to drive. The factory-claimed 0-60 mph time of less than 9 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph which turned out to be somewhat pessimistic, In mid-1985, the 944 underwent its first significant changes. These included : a new dash and door panels, embedded radio antenna, upgraded alternator, increased oil sump capacity, new front and rear cast alloy control arms and semi-trailing arms, larger fuel tank, optional heated and powered seats, Porsche HiFi sound system, and revisions in the mounting of the transaxle to reduce noise and vibration. The “cookie cutter” style wheels used in the early 944s were upgraded to new “phone dial” style wheels (Fuchs wheels remained an option). 1985 model year cars incorporating these changes are sometimes referred to as “1985B”, “85.5” or “1985½” cars. For the 1987 model year, the 944 Motronic DME was updated, and newly incorporated anti-lock braking and air bags. Because of the ABS system, the wheel offset changed and Fuchs wheels were no longer an option. In early 1989 before the release of the 944S2, Porsche upgraded the 944 from the 2.5 to a 2.7 litre engine, with a rated 162 hp and a significant increase in torque. For the 1985 model year, Porsche introduced the 944 Turbo, known internally as the 951. This had a turbocharged and intercooled version of the standard car’s engine that produced 220 PS at 6000 rpm. In 1987, Car and Driver tested the 944 Turbo and achieved a 0-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds. The Turbo was the first car using a ceramic port liner to retain exhaust gas temperature and new forged pistons and was also the first vehicle to produce identical power output with or without a catalytic converter. The Turbo also featured several other changes, such as improved aerodynamics, notably an integrated front bumper. This featured the widest turn signals (indicators) fitted to any production car, a strengthened gearbox with a different final drive ratio, standard external oil coolers for both the engine and transmission, standard 16 inch wheels (optional forged Fuchs wheels), and a slightly stiffer suspension (progressive springs) to handle the extra weight. The Turbo’s front and rear brakes were borrowed from the Porsche 911, with Brembo 4-piston fixed calipers and 12-inch discs as ABS also came standard. Engine component revisions, more than thirty in all, were made to the 951 to compensate for increased internal loads and heat. Changes occurred for the 1987 model year. On the interior, the 1987 944 Turbo for North America became the first production car in the world to be equipped with driver and passenger side air bags as standard equipment. A low oil level light was added to the dash as well as a 180 mph (290 km/h) speedometer as opposed to the 170 mph speedometer on the 1986 model Turbos. Also included is the deletion of the transmission oil cooler, and a change in suspension control arms to reduce the car’s scrub radius. The engine remained the same M44/51 as in the 1986 model. In 1988, Porsche introduced the Turbo S. The 944 Turbo S had a more powerful engine (designation number M44/52) with 250 hp and 258 lb·ft torque (standard 944 Turbo 220 hp and 243 lb·ft. This higher output was achieved by using a larger K26-8 turbine housing and revised engine mapping which allowed maintaining maximum boost until 5800 rpm, compared to the standard 944 Turbo the boost would decrease from 1.75 bar at 3000 rpm to 1.52 bar at 5800 rpm. Top speed was factory rated at 162 mph. The 944 Turbo S’s suspension had the “M030” option consisting of Koni adjustable shocks front and rear, with ride height adjusting threaded collars on the front struts, progressive rate springs, larger hollow rear anti-roll/torsion bars, harder durometer suspension bushings, larger hollow anti-roll/torsion bars at the front, and chassis stiffening brackets in the front frame rails. The air conditioning dryer lines are routed so as to clear the front frame brace on the driver’s side. The 944 Turbo S wheels, known as the Club Sport design, were 16-inch Fuchs forged and flat-dished, similar to the Design 90 wheel. Wheel widths were 7 inches in the front, and 9 inches in the rear with 2.047 in offset; sizes of the Z-rated tyres were 225/50 in the front and 245/45 in the rear. The front and rear fender edges were rolled to accommodate the larger wheels. The manual transmission featured a higher friction clutch disc setup, an external cooler, and a limited slip differential with a 40% lockup setting. The Turbo S front brakes were borrowed from the Porsche 928 S4, with larger Brembo GT 4-piston fixed calipers and 12-inch discs; rear Brembo brakes remained the same as a standard Turbo. ABS also came standard. The 944 Turbo S interior featured power seats for both driver and passenger, where the majority of the factory-built Turbo S models sported a “Burgundy plaid” (Silver Rose edition) but other interior/exterior colours were available. A 10-speaker sound system and equalizer + amp was a common option with the Turbo S and S/SE prototypes. Only the earlier 1986, 250 bhp prototypes featured a “special wishes custom interior” options package. In 1989 and later production, the ‘S’ designation was dropped from the 944 Turbo S, and all 944 Turbos featured the Turbo S enhancements as standard, however the “M030” suspension and the Club Sport wheels were not part of that standard. The 944 Turbo S was the fastest production four cylinder car of its time. For the 1987 model year, the 944S “Super” was introduced, featuring a high performance normally aspirated, dual-overhead-cam 16-valve 190 PS version of the 2.5 litre engine (M44/40) featuring a self-adjusting timing belt tensioner. This marked the first use of four-valve-per-cylinder heads and DOHC in the 944 series, derived from the 928 S4 featuring a redesigned camshaft drive, a magnesium intake tract/passages, magnesium valve cover, larger capacity oil sump, and revised exhaust system. The alternator capacity was 115 amps. The wheel bearings were also strengthened and the brake servo action was made more powerful. Floating 944 calipers were standard, but the rear wheel brake circuit pressure regulator from the 944 turbo was used. Small ’16 Ventiler’ script badges were added on the sides in front of the body protection mouldings. Performance was quoted as 0 – 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds and a 144 mph top speed due to a 2857 lb weight. It also featured an improved programmed Bosch Digital Motronic 2 Computer/DME with dual knock sensors for improved fuel performance for the higher 10.9:1 compression ratio cylinder head. Like the 944 Turbo, the 944S received progressive springs for greater handling, Larger front and rear anti-roll bars, revised transmission and gearing to better suit the 2.5 litre DOHC higher 6800 rpm rev limit. Dual safety air bags, limited-slip differential, and ABS braking system were optional on the 944S. A Club Sport touring package (M637) was available as was the lightweight 16 inch CS/Sport Fuch 16×7 and 16×9 forged alloy wheels. This SC version car was raced in Canada, Europe and in the U.S. IMSA Firehawk Cup Series. Production was only during 1987 and 1988. It was superseded in 1989 by the ‘S2’ 944 edition. The 1987 944S power-to-weight ratio was such that it was able to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 6.5 seconds thus matching the acceleration of its newer larger displacement 3.0 litre 944 S2 sibling. In 1989 the 944S2 was introduced, powered by a 211 PS normally aspirated, dual-overhead-cam 16-valve 3.0 litre version of the 944S engine, the largest production 4-cylinder engine of its time. The 944S2 also received a revised transmission and gearing to better suit the 3.0 litre M44/41 powerplant. The 944S2 had the same rounded nose and a rear valance found on the Turbo model. This was the first example of the use of an integrated front bumper, where the fender and hood profiles would merge smoothly with the bumper, a design feature that has only now seen widespread adoption on the 1990 onward production cars. Performance was quoted as 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds with a top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph) via manual transmission. A Club Sport touring package (M637) was also available. Dual air bags (left hand drive models), limited-slip differential and ABS were optional. Series 90 16-inch cast alloy wheels were standard equipment. In 1989, Porsche released the 944 S2 Cabriolet, a first for the 944 line that featured the cabriolet body built by ASC-American Sunroof Company at Weinsberg Germany. The first year of production included sixteen 944 S2 Cabriolet for the U.S. market. For the 1990 model year, Porsche produced 3,938 944 S2 Cabriolets for all markets including right-hand drive units for the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa. This car was raced, including the British championship that was called the Porsche Motorsport Championship. Production was during 1989, 1990, and 1991. The 944 S2 power-to-weight ratio was such that it was able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. In February 1991, Porsche released the 944 Turbo Cabriolet, which combined the Turbo S’s 250 hp engine with the cabriolet body built by ASC-American Sunroof Company at Weinsberg Germany. Porsche initially announced that 600 would be made; ultimately 625 were built, 100 of which were right-hand drive for the United Kingdom, Japanese, Australian, and South African market. None were imported to the U.S. and The Americas. In early 1990, Porsche engineers began working on what they had intended to be the third evolution of the 944, the S3. As they progressed with the development process, they realised that so many parts were being changed that they had produced an almost entirely new vehicle. Porsche consequently shifted development from the 944 S/S2 to the car that would replace the 944 entirely, the 968. The 944’s final year of production was 1991. A grand total 163,192 cars in the 944 family were produced between 1982 and 1991. This made it the most successful car line in Porsche’s history until the introductions of the Boxster and 997 Carrera.
There were also plenty of examples of the larger and long-running 928 model. The first V8 engined Porsche, it was originally conceived to replace the 911, though as we all know, that did not happen, with the two complementing each other in the range during the 18 year life of the 928. By the late 1960s, Porsche had changed significantly as a company, and executives including owner Ferdinand Porsche were toying with the idea of adding a luxury touring car to the line-up. Managing Director Ernst Fuhrmann was also pressuring Ferdinand to approve development of the new model in light of concerns that the current flagship model at the time, the 911, was quickly reaching the limits of its potential. Slumping sales of the 911 seemed to confirm that the model was approaching the end of its economic life cycle. Fuhrmann envisioned the new range-topping model as being the best possible combination of a sports coupe and a luxury sedan, something well equipped and comfortable enough to be easily driven over long distances that also had the power, poise and handling prowess necessary to be driven like a sports car. This set it apart from the 911, which was intended to be an out-and-out sports car. Ordered by Ferdinand Porsche to come up with a production-feasible concept for his new model, Fuhrmann initiated a design study in 1971, eventually taking from the process the final specification for the 928. Several drivetrain layouts were considered during early development, including rear and mid-engined designs, but most were dismissed because of technical and/or legislative difficulties. Having the engine, transmission, catalytic converter(s) and exhaust all cramped into a small rear engine bay made emission and noise control more difficult, something Porsche was already facing problems with on the 911 and wanted to avoid. After deciding that the mid-engine layout didn’t allow enough room in the passenger compartment, a front engine/rear wheel drive layout was chosen. Porsche also may have feared that the U.S. government would soon ban the sale of rear-engined cars in response to the consumer concern over safety problems with the rear-engined Chevrolet Corvair. Porsche engineers wanted a large-displacement engine to power the 928, and prototype units were built with a 5-litre V8 producing close to 300 hp. Ferdinand Piëch wanted this car to use a 4.6-litre V10 based upon Audi’s five-cylinder engine. Several members of the Porsche board objected, chiefly because they wished for Porsche AG to maintain some separation from Volkswagen. The first two running prototypes of Porsche’s M28 V8 used one four-barrel carburettor, but this was just for initial testing. The cars were sold with the planned Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system. When increasing concern within the company over the pricing and availability of fuel during the oil crisis of the 1970s became an issue of contention, smaller engines were considered in the interest of fuel economy. A push began for the development of a 3.3 litre 180 hp powerplant they had drawn up designs for, but company engineers balked at this suggestion. Both sides finally settled on a 4.5 litre SOHC per bank 16-valve V8 producing 240 PS which they considered to have an acceptable compromise of performance and fuel economy. The finished car debuted at the 1977 Geneva Motor Show, going on sale later that year. Although it won early acclaim for its comfort and power, sales were slow. Base prices were much higher than that of the 911 model and the 928’s front-engined, water-cooled design put off many Porsche purists, not least because the design marked a major change in direction for Porsche started with the introduction of the Porsche 924 in 1976 which purists found hard to accept. Porsche utilised a transaxle in the 928 to help achieve 50/50 front/rear weight distribution, aiding the car’s balance. Although it weighed more than the difficult-to-handle 911, its more neutral weight balance and higher power output gave it similar performance on the track. The 928 was regarded as the more relaxing car to drive at the time. It came with either a five-speed dog leg manual transmission, or a Mercedes-Benz-derived automatic transmission, originally with three speeds, with four-speed from 1983 in North America and 1984 in other markets. More than 80% had the automatic transmission. Exact percentage of manual gearbox cars for entire production run is not known but it is believed to be between 15 and 20%. The body, styled by Wolfgang Möbius under guidance of Anatole Lapine, was mainly galvanised steel, but the doors, front fenders, and hood were aluminium in order to make the car more lightweight. It had a substantial luggage area accessed via a large hatchback. The new polyurethane elastic bumpers were integrated into the nose and tail and covered in body-coloured plastic; an unusual feature for the time that aided the car visually and reduced its drag. Porsche opted not to offer a convertible variant but several aftermarket modifiers offered convertible conversions, most notably Carelli, based in Orange County, CA. The Carelli conversions were sold as complete cars, with the conversion doubling the price of the car. A reported 12 units were made. The 928 qualified as a 2+2, having two small seats in the rear. Both rear seats could be folded down to enlarge the luggage area, and both the front and rear seats had sun visors for occupants. The rear seats are small (due to the prominent transmission hump) and have very little leg room; they are only suitable for adults on very short trips or children. The 928 was also the first vehicle in which the instrument cluster moved along with the adjustable steering wheel in order to maintain maximum instrument visibility. The 928 included several other innovations such as the “Weissach Axle”, a simple rear-wheel steering system that provides passive rear-wheel steering to increase stability while braking during a turn, and an unsleeved, silicon alloy engine block made of aluminium, which reduced weight and provided a highly durable cylinder bore. Porsche’s design and development efforts paid off during the 1978 European Car of the Year, where the 928 won ahead of the BMW 7 Series, and the Ford Granada. The 928 is the only sports car ever to have won this competition, which is regarded as proof of how advanced the 928 was, compared to its contemporaries. Porsche introduced a refreshed 928 S into the European market in 1980 model year. Externally, the S wore new front and rear spoilers and sported wider wheels and tyres than the older variant, but the main change for the 928 S was under the bonnet where a revised 4.7 litre engine was used. European versions debuted with 300 PS, and were upgraded to 310 PS for 1984, though it is rumoured that they typically made around 330 hp. From 1984 to 1986, the S model was called S2 in UK. These cars used Bosch LH-Jetronic fuel injection and purely electronic Bosch ignition, the same systems used on the later 32-valve cars, though without the pollution controls. North American-spec 1983 and 1984 S models used, among other differences, smaller valves, milder camshafts, smaller diameter intake manifolds, and additional pollution equipment in order to meet emissions regulations, and were limited to 234 hp as a result. Due to low grade fuel 16V low compression S engine was made for Australian market in 1985 model year. It had 9.3:1 compression ratio pistons instead of normal 10.4:1 but used same large intake, high lift cams, large valves etc. of other S engines. In 1982, two special models were available for different markets. 202 “Weissach Edition” cars were sold in North America. Unusual features were champagne gold metallic paint, matching brushed gold flat disc wheels, two-tone leather interior, a plaque containing the production number on the dash and the extremely collectible three-piece Porsche luggage set. It’s believed these cars were not made with S spoilers even though these were available in U.S. during this time period as part of the “Competition Group” option. The “Weissach Edition” option was also available for the US market 911 in 1980 model year and 924 in 1981 model year. 141 special “50th Jubilee” 928 S models were available outside the U.S. and Canada to celebrate the company’s 50-year existence as a car manufacturer. This model is also sometimes referred to as the “Ferry Porsche Edition” because his signature was embroidered into the front seats. It was painted meteor metallic and fitted with flat disc wheels, wine red leather and special striped fabric seat centres. Similar 911 and 924 specials were also made for world markets. Porsche updated the North American 928 S for 1985, replacing the 4.7 litre SOHC engine with a new 5.0 litre DOHC unit sporting four valves per cylinder and producing 288 hp. Seats were also updated to a new style, these cars are sometimes unofficially called S3 to distinguish them from 16-valve “S” models. European models kept a 4.7 litre engine, which was somewhat more powerful as standard, though lower 9.3:1 compression 32-valve engine together with catalytic converters became an option in some European countries and Australia for 1986. In 1986, revised suspension settings, larger brakes with 4-piston calipers and modified exhaust was installed on the 928S, marking the final changes to old body style cars. These were straight from the 928S4, which was slated to debut a few months later. These changes came starting from VIN 1001, which means that the first thousand ’86’s had the old brakes, but later cars had the later systems. This later 1986 model is sometimes referred to as a 19861⁄2 or 1986.5 because of these changes. The name is a little misleading as more than 3/4 of the 1986 production had these updates. The 928 S4 variant debuted in the second half of 1986 with an updated version of the 5.0 litre V8 producing 320 PS, sporting a new single-disc clutch in manual gearbox cars, larger torque converter in automatics and fairly significant styling updates which gave the car a cleaner, sleeker look. S4 was much closer to being a truly world car than previous models as only major differences for North American models were instrumentation in either kilometers or miles, lighting, front and rear bumper shocks and the availability of catalytic converters in many other markets. The Australian market version was only one with different horsepower rating at 300 PS due to preparation for possible low grade fuel. Even this was achieved without engine changes. A Club Sport variant which was up to 100 kg (220 lb) lighter became available to continental Europe and U.S. in 1988. This model was watered down version of the 1987 factory prototype which had a lightened body. Also in 1987 the factory made four white lightened manual gearbox S4 models for racecar drivers who were on their payroll at the time. These were close to same as later actual Club Sport models and can also be considered prototypes for it. An SE (sometimes called the S4 Sport due to model designation on rear bumper), a sort of halfway point between a normally equipped S4 and the more race-oriented Club Sport, became available to the UK. It’s generally believed these Porsche Motorsport-engined cars have more hp than the S4. They utilise parts which later became known as GT pistons, cams and engine ECU programs. Some of them had stronger, short geared manual gearbox. The automatic gearbox was not available. For the 1989 model year, a visible change inside was digital trip computer in dashboard. At the same time Australian models received the same 320 PS engine management setup as other markets. Porsche debuted the 928 GT in the late winter 1988/89 after dropping the slowly selling CS and SE. In terms of equipment, the GT was like the 928 SE, having more equipment than a Club Sport model but less than a 928 S4 to keep the weight down somewhat. It had the ZF 40% limited-slip differential as standard like the Club Sport and SE before it. Also like the CS and SE, the GT was only available with a manual gearbox. European 1989 CS and GT wheels had an RDK tyre pressure monitoring system as standard, which was also optional for the same year S4. For 1990 model year Porsche made RDK and a 0-100% variable ratio limited-slip called PSD (Porsche SperrDifferential) standard in both GT and S4 models for all markets. This system is much like the one from the 959 and gives the vehicle even more grip. In 1990 the S4 was no longer available with a manual gearbox. The S4 and GT variants were both cut at the end of 1991 model year, making way for the final version of the 928. The 928 GTS came for sale in late 1991. Changed bodywork, larger front brakes and a new, more powerful 5.4 litre 350 PS engine were the big advertised changes; what Porsche wasn’t advertising was the price. Loaded GTS models could eclipse US$100,000 in 1995, making them among the most expensive cars on the road at the time. This severely hampered sales despite the model’s high competency and long standard equipment list. Porsche discontinued the GTS model that year after shipping only 77 of them to the United States. Total worldwide production of 928s over an 18 year period was a little over 61,000 cars. Second-hand models’ value decreased as a result of generally high maintenance costs due largely to spare parts that are expensive to manufacture, with the result that there are fewer survivors than you might expect, though with values hardening, people are now spending the money required to restore these cars.
Also among the large number of Porsche Club GB display cars were examples of the Cayman.
A “hot hatch” version of the “supercinq” R5, the GT Turbo, was introduced in 1985. It used a modified four cylinder, eight-valve Cléon 1,397 cc engine, a pushrod unit dating back to the 1962 original (in 1,108 cc form). It was turbocharged with an air-cooled Garrett T2 turbocharger. Weighing a mere 850 kg (1,874 lb), and producing 113 hp, the GT Turbo had an excellent power-to-weight ratio, permitting it to accelerate from a standstill to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. To differentiate it from the standard 5, it came with blocky plastic side skirts. Unfortunately, turbo lag was an issue, along with poor hot starting, and it was considered rather difficult to control. The same engine was used, with similar issues, in the Renault 9 and 11 Turbos. In 1987, the facelifted Phase II was launched. Major changes in the Phase II version included installing watercooling to the turbocharger, aiding the Phase I’s oil-cooled setup, which extended the life of the turbo. It also received a new ignition system which permitted it to rev 500 rpm higher. These changes boosted engine output up to over 118 hp. Externally, the car was revamped, with changes (including new bumpers and arches) that reduced the car’s drag coefficient from 0.36 to 0.35. Giving the Phase II a 0–100 km/h time of 7.5 secs. In 1989 the GT Turbo received a new interior, and in 1990 the special edition Raider model (available only in metallic blue, with different interior and wheels) was launched. In late 1991 the Renault 5 GT Turbo was discontinued, superseded by the Clio 16v and the Clio Williams. Survival rate of the R5 GT Turbo is low and few cars are particularly original, so ti was good to see this one.
Following the success of the R5 Turbo, Renault decided to have another go at something not dissimilar, with the Renault Clio V6 Renault Sport, to give the car its full and rather cumbersome name. This was a rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout hot hatch based on the Renault Clio launched in 2001, very much in the same style as the earlier mid-engined R5 Turbo models of the 1980s. Designed by Renault, the Phase 1 models were built by Tom Walkinshaw Racing and Phase 2 were designed and helped by Porsche and built by Renault Sport in Dieppe. The Clio V6 was based on the Clio Mk II, though it shared very few parts with that car. The 3.0 litre 60° V6 engine, sourced from the PSA group. It was the ES9J unit as used in the Peugeot 406, 407 and 607, and the Citroen C 5 and not the one that Renault used in the 3 litre Laguna engine, which had an PRV (Peugeot, Renault & Volvo) an earlier development 90° V based on a V8 that never was. For this car it was upgraded to around 227 bhp and placed in the middle of the vehicle where the more ordinary Clios have rear seats – making this car a two-seater hot hatch. In order to accommodate the radical change from front-engine, front-wheel drive hatchback to mid-engine, rear-wheel drive two-seater quasi-coupé, the car had to be extensively reworked structurally, leading to the Phase 1 version being some 300 kg (660 lb) heavier than the sportiest “regular” Clio, the 172 Cup. Due to this, even though the V6 model had significantly more power, it was not remarkably faster in a straight line accelerating to legal road speeds than the 172 Cup – accelerating to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds compared to the Cup’s 6.7 seconds – though its maximum speed was significantly higher at 146 mph compared to 138 mph. Opinions varied on the handling, but many found it very twitchy and the car soon a gained a reputation for breaking away with little warning. That was largely addressed by the Phase 2 cars which were launched in 2003. The front end took on the same sort of new design as had been applied to the regular models. The engine was upgraded, to make the Phase 2 Clio V6 the most powerful serial produced hot hatch in the world with 255 bhp exceeding the 247 bhp of the Alfa Romeo 147 GTA and the 222 bhp SEAT León Cupra R. Based on the Phase 1 engine, its extra performance was helped with assistance from Porsche and although the Phase 2 gained even more weight, the result was a a reduced 0–60 mph run at 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 153 mph. Though based on a utilitarian hatchback, the Clio V6 was not a practical family car. With an average fuel consumption of 24 mpg, this resulted in an empty fuel tank in just over 300 miles. The loss of the back seats and most of the boot space, due to the engine placement, resulted in a severe restriction in luggage space – there was only a small space in the front where the engine used to be, suitable for a holdall or week-end groceries, a small netted area behind the seats plus a small stash area under the tailgate. The enhanced steering made tight manoeuvring a little challenging, the turning circle being a rather awkward 13 m (42.7 ft) – around three car lengths – turning what might normally be a three-point turn into a five-point turn. Standard equipment in the car was good, this was not a stripped-out special, and it included rain sensing windscreen wipers, automatic headlights, air conditioning, and six speakers and CD changer. The Phase 2 Clio V6 retailed for £27,125 in the United Kingdom, until it was withdrawn from sale in 2005 coinciding with a facelift for the Clio range. The Phase 2 was received far more enthusiastically by the ever-critical UK press. These days there is no doubting the fact that this is a a modern classic.
This Riley, a 12/4 Special, is a regular at events around the country. Powered by a new Harry Rose designed engine, with three main bearings, and coil ignition mated to a pre-selector gearbox. There was a new frame with cruciform bracing and Girling rod brakes. Automatic Bijur chassis lubrication was standard. There was a new frame with cruciform bracing and Girling rod brakes. Automatic Bijur chassis lubrication was standard. This car was originally a Falcon 12/4 Saloon and at some stage has acquired this rather rakish tourer body.
No, I’d not heard of a SIlurian, either. From a distance, I was pretty sure that this was a Lagonda, but it turned out that it is in fact a Silurian Tourer, and there’s only one of them. Built by Mike Phillips, the owner of well-respected MGP Restorations (best known for their work with Bentleys, Bugattis and pre-war BMWs), the Silurian was the outcome of a plan to build a top-quality child’s petrol-powered car. Plans were drawn up, however once the project was costed, it soon became apparent that it would be easier and cheaper to build a full-sized machine. It was decided from the outset to name the new car the Silurian. A keen local historian, Phillips had a particular interest in the Silures, an ancient race who lived in the hills around what is now Monmouth, Brecon and Glamorgan. Fiercely independent, they spent much time harassing the invading Romans in around 48BC, building a reputation for resilience, toughness and extreme determination. It was thought that the Silurian could be commercialised and sold as either a complete running vehicle or a kit of parts for an enthusiastic owner to assemble. Once work commenced on the prototype, it was soon realised that the bespoke nature of the build and its complex construction would make it impossible to sell as a kit and discussions with various overseas manufacturing companies about production also came to nothing due to the economics of the project. The marketability and overall appeal of the finished product was never in doubt. The Silurian uses a bespoke ladder chassis with cruciform tubular cross bracing making for a very stout affair. Independent suspension was attached from a 1978 Jaguar XJ6 3.4 donor car, giving an overall wheelbase of 10’ 6”. The engine and manual gearbox were also taken from the donor Jaguar, a unit which looks particularly appropriate with its polished cam covers and twin SU carburettors under the long bonnet. The 210bhp engine and tall gearing from the gearbox give around 25mph/1,000 revs which gives plenty of performance and relaxed high speed cruising. The powerful disc brakes inspire confidence and it retains the Jaguar power steering which is quite disconcerting on first acquaintance, as looking through the narrow screen, one instinctively expects to have to haul on the steering wheel as a corner rushes towards you. Most one-off builds fail at the bodywork stage, with unfortunate proportions brought about through general ignorance or compromises due to wheel size or suspension system constraints. Not so the Silurian. Mike Phillips’ experience with pre-war restorations, including his own Lagonda with its elegant T7 coachwork, had taught him a thing or two. The elegantly proportioned body is constructed around a stiff tubular steel frame which is encased in laminated plywood carefully shaped by eye. This has been skilfully panelled in 18swg aluminium. The end result looks like a cross between a Lagonda and a Vanden Plas tourer – you can’t say fairer than that! Trimmed in top quality leather and fitted with a mohair hood and sidescreens, the doors close with a reassuring ‘clunk’ and thanks to its softly sprung modern suspension and steel frame, the ride is remarkably rattle and squeak free. The imposing chrome radiator shell has more than a hint of Bentley or early Jensen about it and the impressive Lucas P100s are definitely ‘King of the Road’. Completed by the late 1980s, this wonderful looking tourer has led a busy life, attending over 1,000 weddings according to a magazine article that accompanies the car. In no way to be classed as a kit car, the Silurian is a one-off bespoke machine, hand-made by an expert with long experience of the coachbuilder’s art. The Jaguar running gear means that it is reliable, refined and rapid, the power steering and disc brakes contributing greatly to the friendly usability of the car.
The Gazelle was the first Singer to be produced following the take-over of the Singer company by the Rootes Group in 1956 and was a version of the new mainstream “Audax” Hillman Minx differing mainly in retaining the Singer overhead cam engine. Externally the only significant difference was a restyled nose based around a traditional Singer grille. The Gazelle was initially offered in saloon and convertible body styles, though when the first changes came through, creating, the Gazelle Series II, in the autumn of 1957, an estate car was added to the range, which had optional overdrive and larger fuel tank. Engineering of the car was pretty conventional, with independent suspension at the front using coil springs while at the rear was a live axle and half elliptic leaf springs. The steering gear used a worm and nut system. As standard, the car had a bench front seat but individual seats were available as an option. To allow for the bench seat, the handbrake lever was between the seat and the door. Roots Group made frequent updates to their cars, so the Series II was soon followed by the Series IIa, the main difference being the substitution of the standard Hillman pushrod overhead valve engine for the Singer overhead cam unit, though the new engine was more powerful, developing 56 bhp against 49 bhp. In September 1958 the car became the Series III and received better seats, now enhanced at the front by a folding central arm rest. A new two-tone paint became available with this upgrade. The Series IIIA of 1959 gained small tail fins and a larger windscreen. The engine was upgraded with twin Solex carburettors replacing the single Solex, distinguishing it from the Minx, and lifting output to 60 bhp. Home market cars got a floor gear change and as well as overdrive, Smith’s Easidrive automatic transmission also became an option. The Series IIIB was launched September 1960,. It reverted to a single carburettor which improved fuel consumption and facilitated servicing “in remoter territories”. The IIIB also received a new back axle featuring a hypoid bevel in place of the former model’s spiral bevel. A larger engine of 1592 cc developing 53 bhp was fitted to the July 1961 Series IIIC. The convertible was dropped in February 1962 followed by the estate car in March 1962. There was no Series IV, as this name was intended to be applied to the larger model that emerged as the Hillman Super Minx and Singer Vogue. That was not the end for the model, though, and a Series V was introduced in August 1963. Following a similar change to the Hillman Minx it had an updated body with longer rear doors and no longer having a wrap-around rear window, the front brakes became discs and from 1964 it gained a new gearbox with synchromesh on first gear. The optional Borg Warner automatic got a floor mounted selector lever. The final change came when the Series VI was announced. It had an all new, five-bearing crankshaft engine of 1725 cc at first developing 65 bhp but this was later reduced to 59 bhp. These cars are easily recognised by a chance to the Singer grille, with the top now somewhat flattened and no longer attached to the opening bonnet but fixed to the front panels on opening. Only 1182 of the Series VI were made before the Gazelle was replaced, in 1967 by the “Arrow” based “New Gazelle”. The car seen here is a 1600 Series IIIC.
The Chamois was the luxury version of the Hillman Imp, added to the range in the autumn of 1964, just over a year after the launch of the Hillman versions. It was updated during the 1960s inline with the Imp versions and was deleted in 1970 when the Singer name was phased out.
The Tiger was based on the Sunbeam Alpine, and was created in 1964. Designed in part by American car designer and racing driver Carroll Shelby and produced from 1964 until 1967. Shelby had carried out a similar V8 conversion on the AC Cobra, and hoped to be offered the contract to produce the Tiger at his facility in America. Rootes decided instead to contract the assembly work to Jensen at West Bromwich in England, and pay Shelby a royalty on every car produced. Two major versions of the Tiger were built: the Series I (1964–67) which was fitted with the 260 cu in (4.3 litre) Ford V8; and the Series II, of which only 633 were built in the final year of Tiger production. This had the larger Ford 289 cu in (4.7 litre) engine. Two prototype and extensively modified versions of the Series I competed in the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans, but neither completed the race. Rootes also entered the Tiger in European rallies with some success, and for two years it was the American Hot Rod Association’s national record holder over a quarter-mile drag strip. Production ended in 1967 soon after the Rootes Group was taken over by Chrysler, who did not have a suitable engine to replace the Ford V8. Owing to the ease and affordability of modifying the Tiger, there are few surviving cars in standard form.
The Suzuki Carry is a kei-sized commercial vehicle that has featured in the range since 1961. There have been more than 10 generations of the design in that time, only such of which have been seen in Europe. Vehicles offered outside Europe have had a revise front to accommodate a larger 1.3 litre engine and to provide improved crash protection. This one is from the generation produced between 1999 and 2005. Although manufactured by Suzuki in Japan, the Carry as sold with a number of other badges around the world, including Bedford in the UK (as the Rascal), Maruti, Chevrolet and Ford.
Oldest of a series of TR sports cars here was one of the first models, the TR2, a model produced between 1953 and 1955, during which time 8,636 cars were produced. Standard’s Triumph Roadster was out-dated and under-powered. Company boss Sir John Black tried to acquire the Morgan Motor Company but failed. He still wanted an affordable sports car, so a prototype two-seater was built on a shortened version of the Standard Eight’s chassis and powered by the Standard Vanguard’s 2-litre straight-4. The resulting Triumph 20TS prototype was revealed at the 1952 London Motor Show. Black asked BRM development engineer and test driver Ken Richardson to assess the 20TS. After he declared it to be a “death trap” a project was undertaken to improve on the design; a year later the TR2 was revealed. It had better looks; a simple ladder-type chassis; a longer body; and a bigger boot. It was loved by American buyers, and became the best earner for Triumph. In 1955 the TR3 came out with more power; a re-designed grille; and a GT package that included a factory hard-top. The car used a twin H4 type SU carburettor version of the 1991 cc four-cylinder Standard wet liner inline-four engine from the Vanguard, tuned to increase its output to 90 bhp. The body was mounted on a substantial separate chassis with coil-sprung independent suspension at the front and a leaf spring live axle at the rear. Either wire or disc wheels could be supplied. The standard transmission was a four-speed manual unit, with overdrive available on top gear as an option. Lockheed drum brakes were fitted all round. The car was replaced by the similar looking TR3 in 1955.
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.
What turned out to be the final TR model was launched in January 1975, and this time it really was all new. A dramatic Harris Mann wedge shaped was shock enough for the purists, but the fact that at launch it only came as a Fixed Head Coupe was almost too much for some to bear. In the end, though. more TR7s were sold than any other TR model, so it really cannot have been all that bad even if the car had a somewhat bumpy existence, moving production plant from Speke, Liverpool where the early cars were made, to Canley, Coventry in 1978 and then finally to the Rover Solihull plant in 1980. An open topped model did join the range in 1980 and small numbers of factory built TR8s with the 135 bhp Rover V8 engine under the bonnet were made, but the proposed 2+2 Lynx model, and a version with the 16 valve Dolomite Sprint engine and the 2 litre O Series unit never made production. The car was launched in the United States in January 1975, with its UK home market debut in May 1976. The UK launch was delayed at least twice because of high demand for the vehicle in the US, with final sales of new TR7s continuing into 1982. The TR7 was characterised by its “wedge” shape, which was commonly advertised as: “The Shape of Things to Come”, and by a swage line sweeping down from the rear wing to just behind the front wheel. It had an overall length of 160 inches, width of 66 inches, wheelbase of 85 inches and height of 49.5 inches, and a kerbside weight of 2205 pounds, exactly 1000 kg. During development, the TR7 was referred to by the code name “Bullet”.The original full size model wore MG logos because it was styled at Longbridge, which was not a Triumph factory. Power was provided by a 105 bhp 1,998 cc eight-valve four-cylinder engine that shared the same basic design as the Triumph Dolomite Sprint engine, mounted in-line at the front of the car. Drive was to the rear wheels via a four-speed gearbox initially with optional five-speed manual gearbox, or three-speed automatic from 1976. The front independent suspension used coil spring and damper struts and lower single link at the front, and at the rear was a four-link system, again with coil springs. There were front and rear anti roll bars, with disc brakes at the front and drums at the rear. The interior trim was revised in March 1977, with the broadcord seat covers being replaced with red or green “tartan” check inserts with black leather effect vinyl edging, which looks so very period. now The tartan trim was also reflected in the door cards in padded matching red or green tartan cloth inserts in the black leather effect vinyl. A number of other detailed changes were made, partly to ensure commonality of parts in future models, such as the Convertible and the TR8, and also based on what else was available from the corporate parts bin. Badging changed a number of times, but there were no other significant alterations before the end of production in 1981. In total approximately 115,000 TR7 models were built which includes 28,864 soft top/convertibles, and approximately 2,800 TR8 models. Seen here was a rather nice Convertible model.
The TR’s smaller and cheaper brother was the Spitfire and there were a couple of examples from the later part of production. Based on the chassis and mechanicals of the Triumph Herald, the Spitfire was conceived as a rival to the Austin-Healey Sprite and MG Midget, which were launched a year earlier. The Triumph soon found a strong following, with many preferring it to the BMC cars which in time would become in-house stablemates. Mark II models arrived in 1965 and a more comprehensive facelift in 1967 with the distinctive “bone in mouth” front grille necessitated by US bumper height regulations also brought changes, but it was with the Mark IV that the greatest number of alterations would come about. The Mark IV featured a completely re-designed cut-off rear end, giving a strong family resemblance to the Triumph Stag and Triumph 2000 models, both of which were also Michelotti-designed. The front end was also cleaned up, with a new bonnet pressing losing the weld lines on top of the wings from the older models, and the doors were given recessed handles and squared-off glass in the top rear corner. The interior was much improved: a proper full-width dashboard was provided, putting the instruments ahead of the driver rather than over the centre console. This was initially black plastic however was replaced with wood in 1973. An all-new hardtop was also available, with rear quarter-lights and a flatter rear screen. By far the most significant change, however, was to the rear suspension, which was de-cambered and redesigned to eliminate the unfortunate tendencies of the original swing-axle design. The Triumph GT6 and Triumph Vitesse had already been modified, and the result on all these cars was safe and progressive handling even at the limit. The 75 hp engine was now rated at 63 hp (for UK market employing the 9:1 compression ratio and twin SU HS2 carburettors; the less powerful North American version still used a single Zenith Stromberg carburettor and an 8.5:1 compression ratio) due to the German DIN system; the actual output was the same for the early Mark IV. However, it was slightly slower than the previous Mark III due to carrying more weight, and employing a taller 3.89:1 final drive as opposed to the earlier 4.11:1. The engine continued at 1296 cc, but in 1973 was modified with larger big-end bearings to rationalise production with the TR6 2.5 litre engines, which somewhat decreased its “revvy” nature; there was some detuning, to meet new emissions laws, which resulted in the new car being a little tamer. With the overall weight also increasing to 1,717 lb (779 kg) the performance dropped as a consequence, 0 to 60 mph now being achieved in 15.8 seconds and the top speed reducing to 90 mph. The overall fuel economy also dipped to 32mpg. The gearbox gained synchromesh on its bottom gear. The Mark IV went on sale in the UK at the end of 1970 with a base price of £735. In 1973 in the United States and Canada, and 1975 in the rest of the world, the 1500 engine was used to make the Spitfire 1500. Although in this final incarnation the engine was rather rougher and more prone to failure than the earlier units, torque was greatly increased by increasing the cylinder stroke to 87.5 mm (3.44 in), which made it much more drivable in traffic. While the rest of the world saw 1500s with the compression ratio reduced to 8.0:1, the American market model was fitted with a single Zenith-Stromberg carburettor and a compression ratio reduced to 7.5:1 to allow it to run on lower octane unleaded fuel, and after adding a catalytic converter and exhaust gas recirculating system, the engine only delivered 53 bhp with a slower 0–60 time of 16.3 seconds. The notable exception to this was the 1976 model year, where the compression ratio was raised to 9.1:1. This improvement was short-lived, however, as the ratio was again reduced to 7.5:1 for the remaining years of production. In the UK the 9:1 compression ratio, less restrictive emissions control equipment, and the Type HS2 SU carburettors now being replaced with larger Type HS4 models, led to the most powerful variant to date. The 1500 Spitfire now produced 71hp (DIN) at 5500 rpm, and produced 82 lb/ft of torque at 3000 rpm. Top speed was now at the magical 100 mph mark, and 0 to 60 mph was reached in 13.2 seconds. Fuel economy was reduced to 29mpg. Further improvements to the suspension followed with the 1500 included longer swing axles and a lowered spring mounting point for more negative camber and a wider rear track. The wider, lower stance gave an impressive skid pad result of 0.87g average. This put the Spitfire head and shoulders over its competition in handling. The American market Spitfire 1500 is easily identified by the big plastic over-riders and wing mounted reflectors on the front and back wings. The US specification models up to 1978 still had chrome bumpers, but on the 1979 and 1980 models these were replaced by black rubber bumpers with built-in over-riders. Chassis extensions were also fitted under the boot to support the bumpers. Detail improvements continued to be made throughout the life of the Mark IV, and included reclining seats with “chequered brushed nylon centre panels” and head restraints, introduced for domestic market cars early in 1977 along with a new set of column stalk operated minor controls (as fitted already in the TR7) replacing the old dashboard mounted knobs and switches. Also added for the model’s final years were a wood dash, hazard flashers and an electric screen washer, in place of the previous manual pump operated ones. Options such as the hard top, tonneau cover, map light and overdrive continued to be popular, but wire wheels ceased to be available. The 1980 model was the last and the heaviest of the entire run, weighing 1,875 lb (850.5 kg). Base prices for the 1980 model year was £3,631 in the UK. The last Spitfire, an Inca Yellow UK-market model with hardtop and overdrive, rolled off the assembly line at Canley in August 1980, shortly before the factory closed. It was never sold and is now displayed at the museum at Gaydon.
In early 1963 Giovanni Michelotti was commissioned by Standard-Triumph to design a GT version of their recently introduced Spitfire 4. An unmodified Spitfire 4 was delivered to Michelotti’s design studios in Italy and late in 1963 the prototype Spitfire GT4 was returned to England for evaluation. The styling of the vehicle was a success but the extra weight of the GT bodyshell resulted in extremely poor performance from the Spitfire’s 1,147 cc power unit, and plans for producing the Spitfire GT4 were shelved. Michelotti’s fastback design for the Spitfire GT4 prototype was adopted by the Triumph racing programme for the 1964 season, as it was deemed to provide an aerodynamic benefit over the standard Spitfire body shape. Fibreglass copies of the Spitfire GT4’s fastback were grafted on to the race-modified Spitfires destined for competition. The Spitfire racing programme was successful, and in 1965 resulted in 13th overall and a 1st in class at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans (beating their main rivals, the MG Midgets). The Spitfire’s competitive success and the continuing commercial success of the production vehicle led Triumph to re-evaluate its shelved plans for a GT version of the Spitfire. To overcome the lack of performance inherent in the heavier body style the Spitfire’s 4-cylinder engine was replaced with the more powerful 1998 cc 6-cylinder engine from the Triumph Vitesse (which shared a similar chassis with the Spitfire and Triumph Herald). The car was further developed and refined and eventually launched as the Triumph GT6 (dropping the “Spitfire” prefix) to emphasise its GT styling and its 6-cylinder engine. Contemporary Triumph marketing advertised the GT6 as being developed from the “race winning Le Mans Spitfires” to capitalise on their aesthetic similarities, whereas the Le Mans Spitfires and the GT6 were actually two entirely separate development programmes (the GT programme pre-dating the racing programme). However, the marketing spin was so successful that many people erroneously believed the Le Mans Spitfires to actually be GT6s. The production car was introduced in 1966 and called the Triumph GT6. The new body was a sleek fastback design with an opening rear hatch which gave the GT6 the nickname “Poor man’s E-Type”. It was really a 2-seater, but a small extra rear seat could be ordered if required and was large enough for small children. The family resemblance to the Spitfire Mk II was strong, the longer 6-cylinder engine necessitated a new bonnet top with a power bulge and the doors were provided with opening quarter light windows and squared-off glass in the top rear corner. The 6-cylinder engine was tuned to develop 95 bhp at 5000 rpm, and produced 117 lb·ft of torque at 3000 rpm. The increased power necessitated certain changes to the Spitfire mechanics; the radiator was new and mounted further forward in the car and the gearbox was the stronger unit from the Vitesse, with optional overdrive. Front springs were uprated to cope with the extra weight of the new engine. The overall vehicle weight unladed was 1,904 lb (864 kg). The interior of the GT6 was well equipped; a wooden dashboard housed a full complement of instruments, with carpets and heater included as standard. The new car had some very strong selling points. The new engine provided a 106 mph top speed and 0–60 mph in 12 seconds, a little better than the MGB GT. Moreover, the unit was comparatively smooth and tractable, in marked contrast to the MG’s rather harsh 4-cylinder engine. Fuel economy was very reasonable for the period at 20mpg, and the interior well up to the competition. The only major criticism was of its rear suspension; the GT6 inherited the swing-axle system from the Spitfire, which in turn was copied from the Herald small saloon. In the saloon it was tolerated, in the little Spitfire it was not liked and in the powerful GT6 it was heavily criticised. Triumph had done nothing to improve the system for the GT6 and the tendency to break away if the driver lifted off the power mid-corner was not helped at all by the increased weight at the front of the car. The handling was most bitterly criticised in the USA, an important export market for Triumph, where they were traditionally very strong. Similar criticism was being levelled at the Vitesse saloon, which shared the GT6’s engine and its handling problems. Triumph realised that they needed to find an answer to the handling problem, if only to maintain their reputation in the USA. Their response came with the 1969 model year, with the introduction of the GT6 Mk II, known in the States as the GT6+. The rear suspension was significantly re-engineered using reversed lower wishbones and Rotoflex driveshaft couplings, taming the handling and turning the Triumph into an MGB beater. The Vitesse was also modified, but the Spitfire had to wait until 1970 for any improvements to be made. There were other changes for the Mk II; the front bumper was raised (in common with the Spitfire Mk.3) to conform to new crash regulations, necessitating a revised front end, and side vents were added to the front wings and rear pillars. Under the bonnet, the engine was uprated to develop 104 bhp with a new cylinder head, camshaft, and manifolds. Performance improved to 107 mph but perhaps more noteworthy the 0–60 mph time dropped to 10 seconds. The fuel economy was also improved to 25 mpg. The interior was updated with a new dashboard and better ventilation, a two-speed heater fan and a black headlining. Overdrive remained a popular option for the manual transmission. A further update to the Series 3 came in the autumn of 1970, at the same time as the Spitfire Mark IV was launched, but sales remained low and the car was deleted in the autumn of 1973 with production having reached 40,926 examples.
Envisioned as a luxury sports car, the Stag was designed to compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz SL. It started as a styling experiment, cut and shaped from a 1963–4 Triumph 2000 pre-production saloon, which had also been styled by Michelotti, and loaned to him by Harry Webster, Director of Engineering at Triumph. Their agreement was that if Webster liked the design, Triumph could use the prototype as the basis of a new Triumph model. Harry Webster, who was a long time friend of Giovanni Michelotti, whom he called “Micho”, loved the design and took the prototype back to England. The end result, a two-door drop head (convertible), had little in common with the styling of its progenitor 2000, but retained the suspension and drive line. Triumph liked the Michelotti design so much that they propagated the styling lines of the Stag into the new Mark 2 2000/2500 saloon and estate. The initial Stag design was based around the saloon’s 2.5-litre six cylinder engine, but Harry Webster intended the Stag, large saloons and estate cars to use a new Triumph-designed overhead cam 2.5-litre fuel injected V8. Under the direction of Harry Webster’s successor, Spen King in 1968, the new Triumph OHC 2.5 PI V8 was enlarged to 2997 cc to increase torque. To meet emission standards in the USA, a key target market, the troublesome mechanical fuel injection was dropped in favour of dual Zenith-Stromberg 175 CDSE carburettors. A key aim of Triumph’s engineering strategy at the time was to create a family of engines of different size around a common crankshaft. This would enable the production of power plants of capacity between 1.5 and 4 litres, sharing many parts, and hence offering economies of manufacturing scale and of mechanic training. A number of iterations of this design went into production, notably a slant four-cylinder engine used in the later Triumph Dolomite and Triumph TR7, and a variant manufactured by StanPart that was initially used in the Saab 99. The Stag’s V8 was the first of these engines into production. Sometimes described as two four-cylinder engines Siamesed together, it is more correct to say that the later four-cylinder versions were half a Stag engine. It has sometimes been alleged that Triumph were instructed to use the proven all-aluminium Rover V8, originally designed by Buick, but claimed that it would not fit. Although there was a factory attempt by Triumph to fit a Rover engine, which was pronounced unsuccessful, the decision to go with the Triumph V8 was probably driven more by the wider engineering strategy and by the fact that the Buick’s different weight and torque characteristics would have entailed substantial re-engineering of the Stag when it was almost ready to go on sale. Furthermore Rover, also owned by British Leyland, could not necessarily have supplied the numbers of V8 engines to match the anticipated production of the Stag anyway. As in the Triumph 2000 model line, unitary construction was employed, as was fully independent suspension – MacPherson struts in front, semi-trailing arms at the rear. Braking was by front disc and rear drum brakes, while steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. Although other bodystyles were envisaged, these never made production, so all Stags were four-seater convertible coupés. For structural rigidity – and to meet new American rollover standards of the time – the Stag required a B-pillar “roll bar” hoop connected to the windscreen frame by a T-bar. A removable hardtop was a popular factory option for the early Stags, and was later supplied as a standard fitment. The car was launched one year late in 1970, to a warm welcome at the various international auto shows. Sadly, it rapidly acquired a reputation for mechanical unreliability, usually in the form of overheating. These problems arose from a variety of causes, all of which are now well understood, and for which solutions have been identified, but at the time, they really hurt the reputation and hence sales of the car. They ranged from late changes to the engine which gave rise to design features that were questionable from an engineering perspective, the choice of materials which necessitated the use of antifreeze all year round, the engine’s use of long, simplex roller link chains, which would first stretch and then often fail inside fewer than 25,000 miles; the arrangement of the cylinder head fixing studs, half of which were vertical and the other half at an angle causing sideways forces which caused premature failure of the cylinder head gaskets. and poor quality production from a plant troubled with industrial unrest and poor quality control. At the time, British Leyland never provided a budget sufficient to correct the few design shortcomings of the Triumph 3.0 litre OHC V8, and the dealers did not help matters. The Stag was always a relatively rare car. British Leyland had around 2,500 UK dealers when the Stag was on sale and a total of around 19,000 were sold in the UK. Thus the average dealer sold only seven or eight Stags during the car’s whole production run, or roughly one car per year. This meant that few dealers saw defective Stags often enough to recognise and diagnose the cause of the various problems. Many owners simply replaced the engine altogether, often with the Rover V8, Ford Essex V6, or even the Triumph 6-cylinder engine around which the car was originally designed. Perhaps thanks to such a reputation for its unreliable engine, only 25,877 cars were produced between 1970 and 1977. Of this number, 6780 were export models, of which 2871 went to the United States. The majority of cars were fitted with a Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic transmission. The other choice was a derivative of the ancient Triumph TR2 gearbox which had been modified and improved over the years for use in the TR series of sports cars. Other than the choice of transmissions there were very few factory-installed options. On early cars buyers could choose to have the car fitted with just the soft-top, just the hard-top (with the hood storage compartment empty) or with both. Later cars were supplied with both roofs. Three wheel styles were offered. The standard fitments were steel wheels with Rostyle “tin-plate” trims. Five-spoke alloy wheels were an option, as were a set of traditional steel spoke wheels with “knock-off”‘ hubcaps. The latter were more commonly found on Stags sold in North America on Federal Specification vehicles. Electric windows, power steering and power-assisted brakes were standard. Options included air conditioning, a luggage rack, uprated Koni shock absorbers, floor mats and Lucas Square Eight fog lamps, and a range of after-market products, most of which were dealer installed as optional accessories could also be fitted. Rather unusually for a 4-seat touring car, the accessory list included a sump protector plate that was never produced. This was probably included as a slightly “gimmicky” tribute to Triumph’s rallying successes. Nowadays, the Stag is seen in a very different light, with lots of very enthusiastic and knowledgeable owners who enjoy the good points of this attractive looking car and who revel in the fact that the market has not yet boosted prices into the unaffordable category, as one day will surely happen.
After the “wedge” cars of the early 80s, TVR’s next model took something of a retro look, the S Series which was announced at the 1986 British International Motor Show, initially as a concept. Due to a massive positive response, the car went into production in less than 12 months, with 250 pre-manufacture orders. This was Peter Wheeler’s first major development since buying the company from Martin Lilley, and the turning point in TVR’s fortunes, which had struggled with the “Wedge” based cars that had been introduced in 1980 to replace the long running M Series models. With styling which looked more like these popular M Series cars, the first S Series cars used Ford’s Cologne V6 in 2.8 litre 160 hp and for the later S2 to S4 had the later 2.9 litre 170 hp unit. TVR made frequent updates to the cars, moving from those retrospectively called the S1 to S2 and later S3 and S4 in short succession. The S3 and S4 received longer doors, although some late S2’s were also thus equipped. Vehicle models ending with “C” were used to denote vehicles which were fitted with a catalytic converter. Only the S3 and S4 were fitted with catalysts. The Cat was only introduced to the UK in August 1992, at “K” registration, but catalysed cars were produced before that, intended for export to markets with tighter emissions standards. Just as they had done with the “wedges”, TVR found more excitement by putting the Rover V8 engine under the bonnet of the car in lieu of the Ford unit, though the two models were offered in parallel. The V8S used a 4.0 litre fuel-injected Rover V8 engine, with gas-flowed cylinder heads, higher lift camshaft, compression ratio upped to 10:5:1, revised manifold, new chip for the engine management system and a limited slip differential. The result was 240 bhp at 5250 rpm and 270 lb/ft of torque at 3000 rpm. The V8S had a number of cosmetic differences over the V6. The bonnet had a large hump – created to house the Italian specification supercharger but carried over to all V8S models. The V8S had a small vent facing the windscreen, whereas S1 to S3 models face forward. Very late S3 and S4 models had no hump at all. As with all TVR’s there is no specific point in time when they changed styles, probably when they ran out! The suspension track was slightly wider on the V8S achieved with revised wishbones at the front and revised trailing arms at the rear. Disc brakes are fitted all round. The standard specification of the V8S included ½ hide leather interior, walnut trim, mohair hood, OZ alloy wheels, driving lamps, electric windows and door mirrors. 0-60 mph could be achieved in 4.9 seconds and 0-100 mph in 12.9 seconds. It was faster than an Aston Martin Virage, a Ferrari Testarossa, Lotus Esprit Turbo SE and Porsche Carrera 2 the supercars of the early 1990s. Between 1986 and 1994 2,604 S Series cars were made; 410 of these were of the V8S variety.
Also here was the Chimaera, the popular sister-car to the rather more raw Griffith. Launched in late 1992, this car was sold with 4.0, 4,3, 4,5 and 5 litre V8 Rover-based engines over a 10 year life. The styling changed little during that time.
This is an Ultima. As always seems to be the case, quite a few people were unsure as to what it was. Ultima models are manufactured by Ultima Sports Ltd of Hinckley, Leicestershire, a company founded in 1992 by Ted Marlow and Richard Marlow and it makes cars which are described by commentators as a “supercar”, The cars have always been available both in kit form and as a “turnkey” (i.e. assembled by the factory) vehicle. Three different generations of Ultima have been offered since 1992. The current Evolution cars are available in two body styles: coupe and convertible, both of which precede the Ultima GTR and Ultima Can-Am models, and prior to these were the Ultima Sport and the Ultima Spyder. In all cases, the design is mid engined, has a rear wheel drive layout, with a tubular steel space frame chassis and GRP bodywork. Kit builders are free to source and fit a variety of engines and transmissions but the Chevrolet small block V8 supplied by American Speed mated to either a Porsche or Getrag transaxle is the factory recommended standard, and this configuration is fitted to all turnkey cars.
The final car to bear the Victor name, and the last Vauxhall to be designed independently of Opel, was the FE Series, and this was launched in March 1972. This was a time when labour relations in the UK motor industry were poor and strikes were an almost constant feature, so there were very few launch cars and most of the publicity material used drawings rather than photos. The FE Series cars appeared substantially larger than their predecessors, but in fact were no wider and only 2 inches longer with much of the extra length accounted for by larger bumpers. Nevertheless, a higher cabin and improved packaging enabled the manufacturer to boast of 1.5 inches more leg room in the front and no less than 4 inches of extra leg room in the back, with virtually no loss of luggage capacity. Useful increases in headroom and shoulder-level cabin width were also achieved through the use of differently shaped side panels and windows. The engines were carried over from the FD range although enlarged to 1759 cc and 2279 cc. For a short period, the straight-six engine was used in the Ventora and 3300SL models, the latter effectively a Victor Estate with lesser trim than the luxury Ventora. Most cars in this class featured manual transmission and with the FE Vauxhall belatedly fell into line with their principal market competitors by including a four-speed gearbox – available only at extra cost on the old Victor FD – as standard equipment. The FE’s extra weight presumably made this development irresistible. The four-speed transmission used the same box and ratios across the range, from the 1759 cc Victor to the torquey 3294 cc Ventora-badged version. Contemporary road tests of the four-cylinder cars commented adversely on the wide gap – highlighted on the mountain roads included in the Portuguese route chosen for the car’s press launch – between second and third gears. Although the architecture of the suspension remained as before, numerous detailed modifications were made to counter criticism of the old model. Changes included an anti-roll bar as standard equipment on all but the entry-level models, and stiffer springs at the back, intended to compensate for the Victor’s tendency to understeer. At the front the springing remained soft by the standards of the time: the track was widened by 1.7 inches and wheel geometry modified to incorporate “anti-dive action”, improvements intended to address the Victor’s tendency to wallow, which by then was attracting criticism from performance-oriented commentators. The FE Victor shared its floorpan with the Opel Rekord but retained a distinct bodyshell, its own suspension and rack-and-pinion steering as opposed to the Rekord’s recirculating ball unit. The front end incorporated the then advanced detail of having the slim bumper bisect the grille, with a third of the grille and the side-lights (on quad headlamp models) below the bumper line. Despite the absence of shared body panels anywhere that they could be seen, detailed investigation disclosed that minor assemblies such as the door locks and the wiper mechanisms were shared with the Opel Rekord D. World energy crises, falling exports and an increasingly muddled image led to Vauxhall’s decline during the early 1970s, such that sales of the FE slumped to 55,000 units before it was transformed to the VX series in January 1976. The changes introduced then were intended to position the car more clearly in the range over the newly introduced, and more expensive Cavalier, with a more powerful 1800cc engine and upgraded trim being among the modifications made. In this guise, the VX Series lived on nearly another 3 years before finally being replaced by the Carlton in the autumn of 1978. Seen here is a 2300 example of the FE Victor.
It was in 1948 that Wilhelm Karmann first bought a VW Beetle sedan and converted it into a four-seater convertible. After successfully presenting it at VW in Wolfsburg the Beetle Cabriolet began production in 1949 by Karmann in Osnabrück. The convertible was more than a Beetle with a folding top. To compensate for the strength lost in removing the roof, the sills were reinforced with welded U-channel rails, a transverse beam was fitted below the front edge of the rear seat cushion, and the side cowl-panels below the instrument panel were double-wall. In addition, the lower corners of the door apertures had welded-in curved gussets, and the doors had secondary alignment wedges at the B-pillar. The top was cabriolet-style with a full inner headliner hiding the folding mechanism and crossbars. In between the two top layers was 1 in (25 mm) of insulation. The rear window was tempered safety glass, and after 1968, heated. Due to the thickness of the top, it remained quite tall when folded. To enable the driver to see over the lowered top, the inside rearview was mounted on an offset pivot. By twisting the mirror 180 degrees on a longitudinal axis, the mirror glass would raise approximately 2 in (5.1 cm). The convertible was generally more lavishly equipped than the sedan with dual rear ashtrays, twin map pockets, a visor vanity mirror on the passenger side, rear stone shields, and through 1969, wheel trim rings. Many of these items did not become available on other Beetles until the advent of the optional “L” (Luxus) Package of 1970. After a number of stylistic and technical alterations made to the Karmann cabriolet, (corresponding to the many changes VW made to the Beetle throughout its history), the last of 331,847 cabriolets came off the production line on 10 January 1980.
There were a couple of examples of the Type 2 “Bus”, the second generation of VW’s versatile van range, first seen in late 1967. It was built in Germany until 1979. In Mexico, the Volkswagen Kombi and Panel were produced from 1970 to 1994. Models before 1971 are often called the T2a (or “Early Bay”), while models after 1972 are called the T2b (or “Late Bay”). This second-generation Type 2 lost its distinctive split front windshield, and was slightly larger and considerably heavier than its predecessor. Its common nicknames are Breadloaf and Bay-window, or Loaf and Bay for short. At 1.6 litres and 47 bhp DIN, the engine was also slightly larger. The battery and electrical system was upgraded to 12 volts, making it incompatible with electric accessories from the previous generation. The new model also did away with the swing axle rear suspension and transfer boxes previously used to raise ride height. Instead, half-shaft axles fitted with constant velocity joints raised ride height without the wild changes in camber of the Beetle-based swing axle suspension. The updated Bus transaxle is usually sought after by off-road racers using air-cooled Volkswagen components. The T2b was introduced by way of gradual change over three years. The first models featured rounded bumpers incorporating a step for use when the door was open (replaced by indented bumpers without steps on later models), front doors that opened to 90° from the body, no lip on the front guards, unique engine hatches, and crescent air intakes in the D-pillars (later models after the Type 4 engine option was offered, have squared off intakes). The 1971 Type 2 featured a new, 1.6 litre engine with dual intake ports on each cylinder head and was DIN-rated at 50 bhp. An important change came with the introduction of front disc brakes and new roadwheels with brake ventilation holes and flatter hubcaps. Up until 1972, front indicators are set low on the nose rather than high on either side of the fresh air grille – giving rise to their being nicknamed “Low Lights”. 1972’s most prominent change was a bigger engine compartment to fit the larger 1.7- to 2.0-litre engines from the Volkswagen Type 4, and a redesigned rear end which eliminated the removable rear apron and introduced the larger late tail lights. The air inlets were also enlarged to accommodate the increased cooling air needs of the larger engines. In 1971 the 1600cc Type 1 engine as used in the Beetle, was supplemented with the 1700cc Type 4 engine – as it was originally designed for the Type 4 (411 and 412) models. European vans kept the option of upright fan Type 1 1600 engine but the 1700 Type 4 became standard for US spec models. In the Type 2, the Type 4 engine, or “pancake engine”, was an option for the 1972 model year onward. This engine was standard in models destined for the US and Canada. Only with the Type 4 engine did an automatic transmission become available for the first time in the 1973 model year. Both engines were 1.7 L, DIN-rated at 66 bhp with the manual transmission and 62 bhp with the automatic. The Type 4 engine was enlarged to 1.8 L and 67 bhp DIN for the 1974 model year and again to 2.0 L and 70 bhp DIN for the 1976 model year. The two-litre option appeared in South African manufactured models during 1976, originally only in a comparably well-equipped “Executive” model. The 1978 2.0 L now featured hydraulic valve lifters, eliminating the need to periodically adjust the valve clearances as on earlier models. The 1975 and later U.S. model years received Bosch L-Jetronic electronic fuel injection as standard equipment; 1978 was the first year for electronic ignition, utilising a hall effect sensor and digital controller, eliminating maintenance-requiring contact-breaker points. As with all Transporter engines, the focus in development was not on power, but on low-end torque. The Type 4 engines were considerably more robust and durable than the Type 1 engines, particularly in Transporter service. In 1972, exterior revisions included relocated front turn indicators, squared off and set higher in the valance, above the headlights. Also, square-profiled bumpers, which became standard until the end of the T2 in 1979, were introduced in 1973. Crash safety improved with this change because of a compressible structure behind the front bumper. This meant that the T2b was capable of meeting US safety standards for passenger cars of the time, though not required of vans. The “VW” emblem on the front valance became slightly smaller. Later model changes were primarily mechanical. By 1974, the T2 had gained its final shape. Very late in the T2’s design life, during the late 1970s, the first prototypes of Type 2 vans with four-wheel drive (4WD) were built and tested.
A popular classic now, this was a nice example of the first generation Golf GTi. The model was first seen at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1975. The idea behind it was rather straightforward – take a basic-transportation economy car and give it a high-performance package, making it practical and sporty. It was one of the first small cars to adopt mechanical fuel injection, which meant that the 1588cc engine put out 110 bhp, a big increase on what was available in the regular Golf models, which, in conjunction with a light weight of just 810 kg, gave it a top speed of aorund 100 mph and a 0 – 60 time of 9 seconds, impressive figures in their day. Volkswagen initially built the GTI only for the home market of West Germany, but launched it onto the British market in 1977 in left-hand drive form, with a right-hand drive version finally becoming available in 1979 as demand and competition increased. Many regard the Golf GTI Mk1 as the first “hot hatch” on the market, it was in fact preceded by the Autobianchi A112 Abarth in 1971, although it would prove to be far more popular than the earlier car in the UK market since the A112 Abarth was never available in RHD. It also competed with a number of quick small saloons including the Ford Escort RS2000. When the Escort switched to front-wheel drive and a hatchback for the third generation model in 1980, Ford launched a quick XR3 model which was comparable to the Golf GTI in design and performance. The Golf GTI was among the first “hot hatch” with mass market appeal, and many other manufacturers since have created special sports models of their regular volume-selling small hatchbacks. Within a few years of its launch, it faced competitors including the Fiat Ritmo, Ford Escort XR3/XR3i, Renault 5 GT Turbo and Vauxhall Astra/Opel Kadett GTE. A five speed gearbox became available in 1981 and in 1982, the engine was enlarged to 1780cc, which increased the available power a little. The car proved popular in the UK from the outset, with over 1500 being sold in 1979. Although the subsequent recession saw new car sales fall considerably during 1980 and 1981, sales of the Golf GTI reached nearly 5,000 in 1981. This also came in spite of the arrival of a popular new British-built competitor – the Ford Escort XR3. By 1983, the GTI accounted for more than 25% of total Golf sales (some 7,000 cars).
This is a 145, one of a series of cars made between 1966 and 1974. Volvo Cars began manufacturing the Volvo 144 at Torslandaverken in the late summer of 1966[, the first Volvo to use a tri-digit nomenclature, indicating series, number of cylinders and number of doors. Thus, a “144” was a 1st series, 4-cylinder, 4-door sedan. The 144 was the first Volvo to feature a more rectilinear or boxy styling. Compared to the Volvo Amazon, the 140 was a radical departure with minimal exterior and interior carryover, notably a stylised version of the front split grille. The car’s basic shape would survive into the 1990s as the 200 series. Mechanically, the car used many of the same drivetrain components as the Amazon, but also showcased many improvements, including disc brakes on all four wheels. It was named car of the year in 1966 by Swedish magazine Teknikens Värld. The engine in the standard 144 was the same as found in the standard Amazon (121), the 1.8l B18A, but the 144S was given the more powerful B18B from the 123GT and 1800S. Late in the 1967 model year production of the Volvo 142 (2-door sedan) began, in time to build 1500 units for the first year. In 1968 production of the Volvo 145 5-door station wagon began, completing the three body styles used in the 140 range. For the 1969 model year Volvo enlarged the B18 to become the 2.0 litre B20 and replaced the generator with a more modern alternator. It was also in 1969 that Volvo introduced the 164, which shared much of the 140 series structure and styling aft of the windshield while incorporating a 6-cylinder engine, the B30 which was simply a B20 with 2 more cylinders and a few strengthened and enlarged components. In 1970 a flow-through ventilation system, where vents were added towards the rear of the car (on the exterior under the rear window on the 142 and 144 and as a grille next to the right side taillight of the 145) and electrically defrosted rear windows, were introduced. The split rear side window on the 145 became one piece which was no longer possible to open. In 1971 the first of several styling changes were introduced, including a revised black grille which saw the now ubiquitous Volvo diagonal line introduced as well as new wheels. 1971 also saw the introduction of the B20E, which was a high compression version of the B20 which introduced Bosch D-Jetronic electronic fuel injection. These new cars were either given the designation E (the German word Einspritzer, or “injection”) or GL (for Grand Luxe), which was a more upmarket version of the car. A console on the transmission tunnel with a clock was now standard. The styling changes continued in 1972 with the introduction of flush mounted door handles and a slightly revised dashboard with fake woodgrain trim, newly designed switches and a small central panel with a clock. The transmission tunnel was taken from the 164 as was the same short-shifter gear stick and the automatic transmission became controlled by a T-bar mounted on the floor at the same place. The outer 2 rear seats now had the mounting points for retractable seatbelts. A low compression fuel injected engine, the B20F was introduced for the US and certain other markets. In 1973 the 140 series received a major facelift, with a new plastic grille, new larger indicators and a completely revised tail end. Also, the S designation was dropped and the range consisted of 3 trim levels, standard (with no designation, known as L, or “luxe”) de Luxe and the most upmarket, Grand Luxe. The interior also had a completely revised dashboard with a new instrument cluster consisting of dials rather than the strip speedometer previously used, rocker switches replacing the push-pull switches (with the exception of the headlight switch), and vents to direct air towards the person augmenting the defrost and floor vents. In 1974, the B20E/F engine switched from using the Bosch D-Jetronic to the K-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection system. Also, several safety changes were introduced including a fuel tank that was located close to the axle to protect it in the case of a rear-end collision, and larger bumpers that protruded more from the body. The quarter-light windows in the front doors were removed as a result of the improvements in ventilation inside the car, and small anodised aluminium strips were added to the bottom of the side windows. Total Production was 412,986 2-doors sedans, 523,808 4-doors sedans and 268,317 estates.
The Volvo 200 series replaced the 140 and 160 series and was produced by Volvo Cars from 1974 to 1993, with more than 2.8 million units sold worldwide. Like the Volvo 140, it was designed by Jan Wilsgaard. It overlapped production of the Volvo 700 series introduced in 1982. As the 240 remained popular, only the 260 was displaced by the 700 series — which Volvo marketed alongside the 240 for another decade. The 700 series was replaced a year before the 240 was discontinued. Production of the 240 ended on 14 May 1993 after nearly 20 years. The Volvo 240 and 260 series were introduced in the autumn of 1974, and was initially available as six variations of the 240 Series (242L, 242DL, 242GT, 244DL, 244GL, 245L and 245DL) and two variations of the 260 Series (264DL and 264GL). The 240 Series was available in sedan (with two or four doors) or station wagon, however the 260 Series was available as a coupé (262C Bertone), four-door sedan, or station wagon. The 200 looked much like the earlier 140 and 164 Series, for they shared the same body shell and were largely the same from the cowl rearward. However, the 200 incorporated many of the features and design elements tried in the Volvo VESC ESV in 1972, which was a prototype experiment in car safety. The overall safety of the driver and passengers in the event of a crash was greatly improved with very large front and rear end crumple zones. Another main change was to the engines, which were now of an overhead-cam design. The 260 series also received a V6 engine in lieu of the 164’s inline-six. The 200 Series had MacPherson strut type front suspension, which increased room around the engine bay, while the rear suspension was a modified version of that fitted to the 140 Series. The steering was greatly improved with the installation of rack-and-pinion steering, with power steering fitted as standard to the 244GL, 264DL and 264GL, and there were some modifications made to the braking system. The front end of the car was also completely restyled – that being the most obvious change which made the 200 Series distinguishable from the earlier 140 and 160 Series. Other than all the changes mentioned above, the 200 Series was almost identical to the 140 and 160 Series from the bulkhead to the very rear end. In 1978, a facelift meant a redesigned rear end for sedans, with wraparound taillights and a trunk opening with a lower lip. The dashboard was derived from the safety fascia introduced for the 1973 140-series – but was changed again for the 1981 model year with the instrument pod made considerably larger and the radio repositioned near the top of the dashboard. All models were available with a choice of four-speed manual or a three-speed automatic transmission. Overdrive was also optional on the manual 244GL, while a five-speed manual gearbox was optional on the 264GL and 265GL. In the autumn of 1975 (for the 1976 model year in America), the 265 DL estate became available alongside the existing range, and this was the first production Volvo estate to be powered by a six-cylinder engine. The choice of gearbox was also greatly improved, with overdrive now available as an option in all manual models except the base-model 242L and 245L. As before, the 3-speed automatic was optional in every model. The B21A engine gained three horsepower; a new steering wheel and gearknob were also introduced. At the 1976 Paris Motor Show Bertone first showed the stretched 264 TE, a seven-seater limousine on a 3,430 mm (135 in) wheelbase, although it had entered production earlier. The raw bodies were sent from Sweden to Grugliasco for lengthening, reinforcing, and finishing. Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden used one, as did much of East Germany’s political leadership. For 1977 the B19A engine with 90 PS replaced the old B20A in most markets, although it soldiered on for another two years in some places. This is also when the sportier 242 GT arrived. In 1978 the grille was altered, now with a chrome surround. Rear view mirrors were now black, while the front seats were changed as were the emblems, while interval wipers were introduced. 1978s were also the first 240s to receive new paint, unlike the earlier model years which rusted very badly. 1979 brought a full facelift front and rear. The GLE was added while the L was cancelled, and the six-cylinder diesel arrived late in the year. For 1980, the sporty GLT arrived, replacing the GT. For 1981 there was yet another new grille, while the station wagons received new, wraparound taillights. The B21A gained some four horsepower, now 106 PS, while the carburetted B23A with 112 PS was introduced in some markets. The Turbo arrived, while six-cylinder models now had a more powerful 2.8-litre engine. Incremental improvements were made almost every year of the production run. One of the major improvements was the introduction of the oxygen sensor in North America in late 1976, which Volvo called Lambda Sond and developed in conjunction with Bosch. It added a feedback loop to the K-Jetronic fuel injection system already in use, which allowed fine-tuning of the air and fuel mixture and therefore produced superior emissions, driveability and fuel economy. For the 1983 model year, Volvo dropped the DL and GLE labels, selling the cars simply as 240s. Buyers protested and the grades returned for 1984. A new manual gearbox also arrived for 1984, while a four-speed automatic option was available in the GL. GLT and Turbo versions received a taller grille. About one-third of all 240s sold were estate models, which featured very large cargo space of 41 cubic feet. They could be outfitted with a rear-facing foldable jumpseat in the passenger area, making them a seven-passenger vehicle. The last 200 produced was a blue station wagon built to the Italian specification and named the “Polar Italia”, currently displayed at the Volvo World Museum.
The Wolseley Six sat at the top of the ADO17 range. Taking the place of the 18/85, it arrived with the Series 3 cars when the 2226cc 6 cylinder E Series engine was first installed in the family. The Six had a more luxurious interior and was distinguished outside by the use of a much smaller grille than you could find on the Austin and Morris versions. It was replaced in early 1975 by the ADO71 range.
This would have been an excellent day out even without the bonus of the VIP tickets. Add those in and it was very special indeed. Out of curiosity, I did look when I got home to see what they would have cost to buy in advance of the event, and was amazed to find that they were nearly £150 each. You’d have to spend a lot of the day eating and drinking to get full value from them, and whilst the food really was excellent, you’d be missing out on everything else that there is to see if you were to do so. So, a nice treat, but for the 2019 edition of the event, I think I will be booking a regular admission ticket, and I can be sure I won’t feel short changed by so doing.